Friday, January 15, 2021

Motivation and Muscle - By Jim Duggan

      "I could never understand why some people have to be motivated."

     The above quote is from Hall of Fame Football player Jack Lambert. During the interview from which this quote was taken, he was referring to pampered athletes and the lack of pride in professional athletes.  But he could easily be talking about most people who attempt to begin a weight-training program. Over the years, Mr. Lambert has been quoted numerous times, and a Google search can provide a list of witty, yet pertinent, observations. However, one of my favorite quotes came from an interview that Mr. Lambert did back in 1982. He was asked about the drug problem in sports, and the subject of drug dealing came up. 

     "All drug dealers should be taken off to the public square and hung by the neck until the wind whistled through their bones." Amen, Jack.

     Back to motivation, and the subject of this article.  Traditionally, the beginning of a new year is a time to make resolutions and set goals for the year ahead.  Usually, January is a busy month for most commercial gyms.  People who have neglected their workouts come to the gym in waves, usually inspired by their New Year resolution to exercise, lose weight, get in shape, etc.. And, predictably, most of these people give up on their goals within the the first few weeks.  By February, most gyms are as empty as they were in December.  And most people, who only weeks before were proudly trekking to the gym, are now home, sitting on their aspirations. 

     However, with the current pandemic, many gyms have been empty for reasons other than lack of motivation. Many gyms are still closed and, unfortunately, some will never reopen. Either because of restricted hours, or social distancing concerns, more and more people are stuck at home.  Many people are training at home.  And the companies that make exercise equipment are taking advantage of that fact.  Everywhere you look, there are exercise devices, machines, apps, and other gimmicks.  Many of these gadgets are designed to fit into a small space, which makes a lot of sense since many people are stuck in a small living space, with limited room for a lot of equipment.  There are literally "mirrors" with an interactive ability to provide a "trainer" to help analyze your form, count reps, and "inspire" you.  These cyber trainers are supposed to be a replacement for the real thing.  I realize that I've asked the following question before, but it's worth repeating: Is a personal trainer necessary?

     Most "trainers" are nothing more than rep-counters, and cheerleaders with nothing more than an online certification to differentiate them from the average resolutioners that walk through the door of any commercial gym in January.  If someone is genuinely serious about getting bigger and stronger, then they don't need someone to count their reps, or cheer them on. Now, when I use the term "trainers," I am not referring to qualified strength and conditioning specialists who have an academic background in exercise physiology, kinesiology, or some other related field. I'm talking about the man or woman who takes an online course and is now "certified." Certified does not necessarily mean qualified.  If you are completely new to weight training,  and feel the need for instruction, seek out a strength and conditioning specialist with an academic background.  They may be more expensive than a "trainer" from a commercial fitness chain, but in weight training, as in life, you get what you pay for.  

     As for getting motivated, my opinion is if you need to an interactive "mirror" to get inspired, then there is something wrong. Instead of an expensive, electronic trainer in a mirror, why not just look into a regular mirror. An honest look in the mirror will provide you with all that is necessary to improve yourself.  That is the only person who can truly motivate you. That is also the only person with which you can compare yourself.  And, it is also the one and only person you can not fool.

  If you truly want to get bigger and stronger, and improve your health, then you will do whatever it takes to make it work.  Forget the muscle magazines, fancy gadgets, gimmicks, and fads. A year from now, many of these "breakthroughs" will be relegated to the junk heap of failed exercise gimmicks. A sensible weight training program consisting of hard work on the basic exercises, performed two or three times per week, adequate rest and recovery, and sensible nutrition will lead you on the path to Strength and Health.  

     A few years ago, I had ordered a barbell set from York Barbell for my nephew. Within a couple days, the equipment arrived, which wasn't surprising since their service has always been excellent. But the interesting thing was that, included in the weights, was the York Barbell and Dumbbell Courses 1-4.  The original courses illustrated with Steve Stanko and John Grimek.  Imagine that! The same information that has been building bigger and stronger bodies for decades is still being disseminated.  No fancy gadgets, no apps, no bull. Just sensible information. Combine that with a desire to get stronger and that's all the motivation you need.

Editor's Note: Great article Jim. I could not agree more about personal trainers and certifications.      

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