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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MYTHS, 1/2 TRUTHS AND LIES - By Will Ellinger

I can't help but feel the need to vent some frustration and give some honest cold hard facts about the whole fitness industry. While I am certainly not the first (and I am sure I won't be the last) to be disgusted by the garbage being spewed and all the misinformation being given. In my view it is getting worse and spreading to the population of athletes which are closest to me.

It is nothing new for a bunch of morons to spread false information about lifting and training, which goes back to the 1st athletes who started working out to improve their athletic performance. From what I have been seeing, it is now a very common thing for every 'johnny come lately' fitness expert to target athletes. This too is not a brand new trend. I guess it just never bothered me as much before because I felt that the athletes who compete in the sports where you "need to train or you lose" could see through the crap. You see it makes no difference to me how 'athletes' in other activities train. I know that 99.9% of them could never train on a real program requiring extreme effort. I don't mean to insult anybody but it is just how it is. Not everyone can be a wrestler. Nor can everyone stand the 'crushing pressure' of heavy squats, and that is fine by me. The problem for me is the ever increasing population of gurus spreading the newest, latest and best way to train.

Let me go over a few that I have heard lately. Wrestlers never need to lift heavy, they just need to lift their opponent, so body weight is fine. Well, without getting too technical, I guess their opponent is a sack of s*#t with no muscles of his own that you will need to fight against? Athletes don't need to use strict form when lifting because they will not be in perfect position when in competition. Yes that is great, hitting the targeted muscles through a proper range while strengthening connective tissues and preventing injuries HA! I might ask why do wrestlers spend all that time drilling technique anyway? Just go dive right in on a leg, head down body extended, it's all good. Lets not forget the one legged opposite hand dumbbell curls, and snatches, kettle-bell only training, circuits on a machine, one weight giant compound sets, and oh yea don't leave out hot yoga. Yes, we have uncovered the secret. Matter of fact the last time I talked to Coach Brands at Iowa, that is exactly what he told me. The Hawkeyes have won 50 something straight because of their hot yoga training.

Maybe it's the economy, or the ability to make a quick buck that has brought these experts into the athletic training field? I do have to say that it is amazing how fast they were able to change the laws of physiology. Most of them have never trained hard a day in their lives. Neither have they ever competed in any competition of any significance in their lives. But after taking a minimum 1 weekend course they can tell you how to train, amazing!

What is also really aggravating me is the amount of time I spend trying to explain proper training to coaches, parents and prospective athletes. Please don't take this the wrong way. I love nothing more than teaching athletes and talking about training. It is the ones who 'already have been taught' that is the problem. In other words, I find myself in a debate about the merits of proper training! Breaking all their bad lifting habits and techniques is more of a challenge than if they hadn't done anything at all. When I tell them that they have been lifting improperly, ineffectively and in an unsafe manner and we need to 'start from the beginning, it doesn't go over very well. Some, it seems, get insulted or discouraged. Maybe they feel burned that their coach/trainer or guru has basically wasted their time? To me it reminds me of the saying, "old habits are hard to kill." You have an athlete or group of athletes going to the gym to 'workout' and it is nothing more than a social event with no hard work taking place. Well, it is a bit of a shock for most when they get into a real program and all the lifts take effort. They go from maybe having a conversation while doing some sissy weight seated one arm concentration curls, to breathing hard under heavy weight, muscles trembling while squatting.

So let's take a look at the MYTHS. From the beginning Athletes where told- NOT TO LIFT WEIGHTS!!!This today seems almost too stupid to be true but believe me it is. The athletes were told they would "Get muscle bound" become slow, lose flexibility, and it would HURT their performance. Certain exercises were bad for you. For example, you may still hear "Squatting is bad for your knees" which could not be further from the truth. Lifting will stunt your growth is another stupid statement that you may have heard. There are others, like "he's too little, he's too old, he's too frail and he's too dumb." Well as in many cases if you do things wrong, the risks of getting hurt or injured increase. Like most activities you need to be taught how to do it. Then another very important element kicks in. That is the proper guidance through a good program. This is yet another area where the 'gurus' can't help you because you cannot learn this from a text book or weekend course.

Please do not only take my word for it. Let me here give you the words of PAUL ANDERSON. He is considered to be the strongest man in recorded history. A fact which I don't think anyone could debate after studying his lifting records? (some of them have not been attempted, more or less broken in 50 years) Mr. Anderson received a Scholarship to play football which would attest to him being at least a decent athlete coming out of high school. He was 240lbs. and could run a 11.5 100 yard dash. As a freshman he wanted to better his performance so he started weight training. Anderson winning the 1956 Olympic Gold Medal, the last American heavy weight to do so He was told by his coaches that "weight training was harmful to an athlete, and they would take away his scholarship if he continued this horrible thing." Well I guess through the grace of God he saw through this stupidity and continued on. What becomes interesting is that he found that at a body weight of 330+ he was now much faster and could jump higher than before. Does this help to shatter some of those myths? Let's look at what he had to say in his book WEIGHTS & SPORTS. "Through the years our coaches' attitudes have progressed to a greater knowledge of weights in athletics. Unfortunately, along with the acceptance of weights there have been setbacks because of misinformation. Numbers of people have made themselves 'experts' and immediately started offering advice to our coaches concerning weight training for their athletes." Again, please read and fully understand what he wrote about this subject many years ago! It is miles worse now. They have programs, classes, online courses you name it, where you too can become an 'expert'. I have first hand experience with some of these programs and trainers. I can tell you that many people have been granted certifications to instruct others on working out; With NO prior meaningful experience that would translate into helping to reach this distinction.

I will end here with these few comments. If you find yourself at the end of the season with a strong hunger to improve for next year, you owe it to yourself to seek out the best programs that will help you to reach your goals. Don't be fooled and become a victim to one of these clowns who have nothing to offer. Ask questions! Who will I be training with? What background does he have? Has he competed/coached the sport or sports I compete in? For how long, on what level and with what success? On what program will I train? Where will I be training and how many days a week? What is the duration of the session as well as the program? Is it cost effective? This should give you a good start and I hope it will help all of you to make better choices when it comes to your career.

Physical Culture