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What are some of your unpopular fitness related opinions?



  • But what days, how many sets, what about reps, do i need a shake, do i have to train legs, i like this variation better, what about this finisher.

    If I go 3.5 days will I be overtraining?

    Too many questions, not time to gym.

  • Strength is never a weakness. Weakness is never a strength.

  • I would say it's unpopular for the mainstream for sure, maybe not within actual strength culture.

    From working in the industry I have also realised that the blame for complicated selling so well goes both ways. While there are people profiting off confusing people, there will always be a demand for that product from people who are quite happy to throw money at things that keep them comfortable. If everything is simple then you actually just have to put in the work, which is scary for a lot of people.

  • It comes down to marketing - difficult to generate a sales business on the back of a simple message of lift "3 times per week". In the same way it would be hard to have a diet business selling the simplified message of that “calories in, calories out”

  • Yep, there's a serious about of repackaging the same ideas going on

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  • Dont be tyrannised into keeping to a weekly routine , if I had to guess I get everything done twice over a rolling ~9 day period. and just have a bunch of mental If/thens for rest days

  • I know you are joking, but questions on reps & sets are fairly valid questions that someone relatively new would/might ask if the goal is to specifically get stronger.

    Anyway, it reminded me of this program, which I started a couple of weeks back having tried it a few years back.

    The first few posts in the thread always give me a chuckle.

  • Keep it simple. I train every other day and manage ~4-5 sessions per week.

  • Reps and sets are important generally. I was referring to treating a specific number as it has specific magical properties. Like that "7s" for biceps curls (7 full reps, 7 top half reps, 7 bottom half) that was around a few years go.

    "You have to do 5 reps. If you mix up 4-6s is won't work"

  • I agree in general that matters are "over complicated" unnecessarily in respect of the advice people need to hear, for what stage they are at and what their goals are. However, it's understandable, since people within the industry are making a living selling content, and there's always going to be pressure to be new (Or, controversial, whatever works).

    And yes, as Cilian says there are people who spend their time looking for that content because they're either avoiding doing the work or are getting supbar results because they're putting in a subpar effort, and no one likes to recognise that in themselves, it's not just an industry issue.


    Although "Lift 3 days a week and you're grand" is advice that will get a green light from a lot of people, because immediately their minds go to well-known and successful whole-body linear progress novice strength progressions... If someone is not a novice then it may not be as simple as "lift 3 days a week".

    At the end of the day, programming is about frequency but also intensity and volume and manipulating the whole 3 requires going beyond a 3 day training schedule, especially after novice. Programmes acrue more days in order to address the need for added volume, and body part splits come in to manage recovery. As much intensity as can be managed always has to be there, the creation of mechanical tension in the muscles increasingly being understood to be just indispensable for progress.

    So yeah, post-novice 3 days a week might kind of limit someone, you might want them to be able to go to a 4 day upper / lower split or something like that.

    Really it's as long as a piece of string, someone could be told they should lift 2, 3, 4, 5 times a week and depending on their goal and their training history that might be the right advice for them. It's not always over complicating it, unfortunately the truth is that really good programming after novice gets ... Not complicated ... But it definitely requires greater knowledge / experience to be optimal Actually, I guess it does get complicated, because more complexity is required over time. The cover of Practical Programming by Rippetoe and Baker has a graph illustrating this, funnily enough.

    In fact, isn't that why so many people who become involved in strength training seem to struggle to actually progress past novice. They run an LP and then years later they're stuck with broadly similar numbers , and they're repeating LPs endlessly and fruitlessly. Intermediate programming is nowhere near as well understood by the general training population.

    Post edited by Black Sheep on

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  • Some good points here man. I would add that I don't think most people get stuck in the intermediate phase because of a lack of training complexity (as in failing to adequately structure the programme). That can be one aspect, but I think the main hurdle is that everything just gets so much harder once those newbie gains are gone. You really need to sacrifice a lot more time and effort, while yielding less and less results than before.

    Most people reach this point, and whether consciously or subconciously, just don't do the work required both in and outside the gym to drive progress. Which is fine. The only people who need to make training their number one priority are professional athletes. I wouldn't be willing to stop having the odd night out just to add a few extra kilos to my squat.

  • That is true about effort.

    I think part of why many people stall early or abandon linear progressions is that they are inadequately prepared for the fact that the difficulty is backloaded to the last 1/4 or so of the programme. Everyone feels great about their 3x5 or 5x5 squats until they actually enter the end game when it requires a bit of focus if you want to make the lifts on a given workout.

    And then, if entering intermediate programming, there is the depressing realisation that except for a deload week squats might never be as easy as they were during that novice stage ever again. Texas method is a classic follow on from SS and it is pretty gruelling. It’s not all doom and gloom but certainly as you say, the question of how hard someone wants to work for their numbers becomes less abstract and a question for now not the future.

  • I'd set different goals when diminishing returns are too high, why "waste" a year trying to get an extra 10Kg on squat or deadlift for instance when you could focus on doing something new like a nordic curl.

  • Not sure if you’re being serious or not here!

  • Possibly an entry that's more suited to an underrated thread, but plain old consistency has got to be one of the most under appreciated fitness concepts.

    It's great seeing people getting their exercise done year-round without any excuses. They may not have perfect bodies, perfect form, or go all-out every session but they consistently clock-in and check off workouts without any drama. Not worried about about having a a perfect routine or the perfect diet, just happily keeping things ticking over.

  • Yuppp. I used to love squats and now I hate them. Doing a PR set for anything above 5 reps these days is brutal.

  • if the suggestion was that people get demoralised when gains are hard to come by, then why not expand goals into other areas that are maybe power, mobility or endurance related, a very general comment of course but for every 100 people that join a gym and stick with it only a minority of those will even have a goal of lifting heavy being their main thing

  • Right, you were being serious - OK! I thought you were being ironic.

    Well, what you said was "I'd set different goals when diminishing returns are too high, why "waste" a year trying to get an extra 10Kg on squat or deadlift for instance when you could focus on doing something new like a nordic curl."

    Without knowing what our trainee's lifts are, and whether he has in any way tapped them out, it's not really possible to say he is into diminishing returns, first of all. If he's an advanced lifter then potentially yes, he might be into diminishing returns to spend a year adding 10 kilos if his goal is something broadly unrelated (Performance in another sport, for example, or perhaps hypertrophy).

    But most people don't get demoralised by ongoing hard training because they're at the stage of diminishing returns, they never get that far.

    Complete anecdote, but in men who are doing the big lifts they often seem to start to question it when they hit somewhere between them squatting one and a half times bodyweight and two times bodyweight, that seems to be the point where they suddenly discover that they are interesting in "trying something different for while". Later, they might come back and the cycle repeats itself, which is why in a commercial gym you'll often see blokes squatting the same weight ranges year in, year out.

    In your second post you suggested that if people get demoralised when gains are hard to come by, they should effectively change goals.

    Well yes, that's exactly what people do. It gets too hard, they do something else. That's grand, but it's kind of funny because don't they realise that's inherently how things like beginner linear progress programs work? They get harder as you go on, and that's also how adaptation is driven. If you go off and do something else all that it means is you immediately start to detrain and that top end strength you worked to gain likely goes back down towards baseline, depending on what you're doing after that.

    Worth mentioning that the close cousin of this is when people are actually still progressing but they program hop to something else out of sheer inability to stick with something.

    The search for "something new" is constant and I understand the pull myself.

    Not sure what's so fascinating about nordic curls btw... They're an assistance movement you can put towards the middle or end of any lower body workout, not particularly sexy I would have thought.

  • I think Dave Tate or Jim Wendler once said that they noticed that the lifespan of a customer in the strength industry is usually about 2 years, which is also (probably by no coincidence) when it starts getting significantly harder to make progress.

  • I dont disagree with all that, your X1.5 times body weight squatter anecdote or hypothetical is faced which choices, broadly speaking they have milked any lifestyle benefits/longevity/appearance out of it, if they are really excited about getting to X2+, absolutely go for it, you cant do your hobby wrong. As for "something new" I'd say complementary instead, which when added up would have greater all round benefits in terms of longevity etc.

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  • does that mean that people dont want to pay trainers after 2 years or they stop doing the gym completely?

  • One of my favourite Jim wendler quotes was somethign along the lines of 'you can do all the analysis you want, and try all the different variations you like, but a the end of the day, to get stronger, you gotta stop f*cking around just just put some more weight on the bar'.

  • You think squatting 1.5 times bodyweight yields almost all the benefits someone can get for appearance, longevity etc? That would be male trainee squatting 120kg at a bodyweight of 80kg …. Even for 5, I don’t know that it’s a benchmark where I would say that’s the point where beyond that is niche powerlifting…

    It’s at or close to where a lot of people throw the towel in but that is not proof of any inherent value.

    If someone program hops and has the wherewithal to program in a way that js “complementary” that doesn’t see them losing ground on what they have built strength wise, fine, but that’s not what actually goes on, is it? But it sounds good alright.

  • I interpreted in terms of quitting strength training.

    Have observed this myself a few times before. People get engrossed in the idea of lifting. Buy all the equipment, watch hours of youtube videos, try every programme under the sun. Then plateau for long enough to realise that, as Wendler said, actually you just need to get some more weight on the bar without getting hurt. That's not a fun prospect for everyone.

  • I've often done Nordic Curls as part of a programme. Good exercise that complements other lifts.

    Most good programmes are well rounded and there is plenty of scope for exercise variation.

    I often started blocks of training, after a competition, where I didn't do the competition lifts but did variations i hadn't done much of before because of the novelty value and also not really having numbers to aim'd just lift and go with it.

    I don't think one can say that they have extracted all the benefits beyond purely lifting heavier just because the rate of progress is slower and it's harder.

  • After novice I do like either a rotating lifts or conjugate approach, provided there is a bit of cop on involved. Either approach can be compatible with holding and improving strength on the big three, if that is a concern.

    On accessories I believe you can switch it up but again you have to know what you’re doing but we can assume that if it’s post novice. At that stage hopefully movements have been identified that work best for the individual anyway.

    Must admit it is only relatively lately that I zeroed in on which accessory movements have the best resistance profiles and were also pain free for me. If I’m doing biceps, triceps, shoulders or upper back and I have access to a cable stack, better believe I am using it. With free weights I have some good options too but I had to sort through and ID what worked for me.

  • To this point I’ve found variation to be pretty useless for making the actual lifts go up. I just got better at those variations, and worse at the ones I cared about.

    I’ll still use some variations now and then, but it’s really just for a psychological break or a way of deloading.

  • Have to say doing high bar and SSB squats in my most recent block seem to have done wonders for my squat. Conversely my deadlift seems to be suffering from the lack of RDLs and Good Mornings.

  • I think at the end of the day it may be individual, and also the programming needs to be really on point. If it works then the numbers won't lie: My squat and bench did go up on conjugate, deadlift has not.

    The way my conjugate is set up it's also very dependent on doing the high volume of assistance and accessory work as if it matters almost as much as the main lifts, and also you have to put in a good showing on the dynamic / volume day.

    I enjoy the variety of conjugate but if I were getting weaker on it you better believe I would drop it!

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