The following is a guest post from Eric Bowman; his second of the semester. To view Eric’s first article on MacGyver Training, click here. In this article, Eric offers some food for thought as he shares a brief rant on 3 topics in the fitness industry. As always, enjoy! – Austin
By: Eric Bowman
Don’t get me wrong, I love the fitness life, but some things that go on everyday piss me off and frustrate the shit out of me. Here are a few…
Over-Valuing And Under-Valuing Strength Training
To steal a line from famous strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove, “the fitness industry is guilty of over-reacting and under-reacting to many things”. A key example of this is strength.
Many people misguidedly believe that strength training is dangerous and that it’ll make you tight and slow. In reality, sitting at a desk all day will make you tighter than a clam’s ass, and numerous studies show that strength helps with speed (1).
Weight training doesn’t make Pavel Tsatsouline tight or slow
On the other hand, it frustrates me when I see people that believe that all you need in life is to be strong – and that’s it. For the record, I do believe EVERYONE should be StrongFirst (no pun intended). But how far will you go in life if you can bench press 500 pounds but you can’t walk your dog down the street without lookin’ like you’re gonna die from exhaustion? Athletes and the “Average Joes” require some mix of speed, strength, endurance. And by endurance, I don’t mean running on a treadmill for 60 minutes. Great sports skills are also an overlooked necessity for building successful athletes.
Most guys don’t want to look like the guy on the left after a walk around the block, but most guys don’t want to look like the people on the right either.
The “Perfect” Way To Train
There are many articles where fitness experts sound like whiny, arguing children. How many times have you seen someone say “this is the correct way to train” on the internet? This just confuses the heck out of people and keeps people from the gym.
Yes, there are some ridiculous ideas in the fitness industry that have been invented. But that being said, there are many great ways to achieve the same. If there was one perfect way to train for everyone, the personal training industry would never exist.
Everyone has different goals and different lifestyle factors which must be taken into account when designing a program. The bottom line is to find a balanced training program that suits you (or better yet, design your own program).
Girls, Don’t Hesitate To Lift Some Heavier Weight
It makes me shake my head & sigh when I see women lifting weights that are lighter than the bottle of wine they were enjoying over the weekend. I could go on and on about how lifting weights won’t make women bulky and how women don’t produce enough testosterone to gain a ton of muscle mass, but I’m looking at this from a different angle.
Common issues in women’s health, particularly with aging, are cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Progressive resistance training helps to manage cardiovascular disease risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and other factors (2). In addition, a recent Cochrane review showed that progressive resistance training helps to increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, while working out with low weights & never increasing the weight had no effect on bone density (3).
Unfortunately, today’s population has always associated weight training and strength with big, muscular bodybuilders. But what the best strength coaches in the world know is that getting stronger isn’t about building bigger muscles, it’s about getting your nervous system to activate your muscles more efficiently. This is how you can get stronger without gaining weight.
Most women I know don’t want to be powerlifters – and I get that. But if you can do a certain rep range with a weight (ie 3 sets of 5-10 reps depending on your goal) while maintaining good form, bump the weight up a notch next time. Don’t use the same light dumbbells for years and years. You won’t bulk up and your body will thank you for it in the long run.
This is Nia Shanks (http://www.niashanks.com), one of my all-time favourite female trainers pulling 330 lbs. Does she look bulky to you?
Which comments do you agree or disagree with in Eric’s rant? Do you have any others about the fitness industry that you’d like to add? Comment below and remember to “like” us on facebook!
Eric Bowman is a student finishing up his 4th year in the Honours Kinesiology program at the University of Waterloo. His areas of interest include rehabilitation, nutrition, patient-centred exercise, and performance training. Questions, comments, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Young, W., McLean, B., & Ardagna, J. (1995, March). Relationship between strength qualities and sprinting performance. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 35.
- Howe, T.E., Shea, B., Dawson, L.J., Downie, F., Murray, A., Ross, C., Harbour, R.T., Caldwell, L.M., & Creed, G.(2011, July). Exercise for preventing and treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 6. Retrieved from http://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/pubmed/21735380
- (2011, February 24). Why Strength Training? Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/growingstronger/why/index.html