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What are some of your unpopular fitness related opinions?



  • That was when I quit. Realised I liked rolling far more than drilling technique. Getting blitzed by people who drill for hours each week starts getting old after a while, and I much preferred lifting.

  • So many people quit in BJJ around the 2 year mark - or on average when a lot of people get blue belt - it has become a meme in BJJ.

    I went AWOL at blue belt for a while, initially through injury and then I was dragging my feet coming back.

    There's a few things that go on, in my opinion. There's a steep learning curve and a lot of people have to work very hard to go from white to blue, it can be a bit Darwinian at that level and personally I incurred more regular injuries at that stage. I think some people "blow their load" and put all the effort into getting a blue belt and then they realise there is still another ... well, potentially 8 or so years ahead of them to black belt, and they have to keep improving as well.

    If you're phoning in your training or not showing up then your peers or even the people below you who are working harder will start to crush you, and that's no fun. So there's this continuous pressure to at least do enough to be worth your grade and to progress at the level you are meant to.

    Depending on the person, it can be difficult. If you have a busy job, work, lift or do another sport, then you might be training far less than someone who is living that BJJ lifestyle and is on the mats 5 or 6 days of the week.

    I've made my peace with it, but all I can say is that as a brown belt you still feel the same pressure as when you're a blue belt. You do kind of get used to it though, or at least accept that you just have to keep making a minimum investment in your training. If don't do as much mat time as people who live on them then you have to have a good specific game or position to default to, to make them fight on your terms, and it helps if your lifting means you're stronger than all of them.

    As far as drilling goes, I really think it's mostly pointless outside of as a warm-up activity. I do think there's some value to drilling takedowns, like uchikomi in Judo, but for most of BJJ I think drilling doesn't bridge between conceptual/technical training and actual rolling very well. About 90% of my training time now is rolling, I warm up, I do study technique in my own time but in terms of mat time it's about getting as many quality rounds in as possible. I know a lot of white and blue belts are stuck in structured classes where they cannot avoid drilling techniques, but all I can say is ... Yeah... Not my cup of tea.

  • The broader concept of the learning curve dip probably explains it - When you start learning a new skill, your understanding goes up quickly and it's a lot of fun, but then as you learn more, you progression drops and you enter a phase that is very frustrating.

    If you've got the patience to keep going, eventually you come out of the other end and your skill level goes up again beyond the level that you got to during the fun phase, and after that it's satisfying.

    Here's the graph. Very relevant for weight loss journey's too -

  • They weren't blitzing you because they drilled. It was the fact it was hours every week. Even if somebodys entire training is rolling, they still get better and better, possibly at a faster rate once they know basics. And if somebody is better than you on day 1, its hard to catch them. You only need to stay ahead of the guy after you.

    As for BJJ vrs lifting, if I had t ochoose one over the other I could. But I'll never need to. Do both

    I think it's just that 2 years is a reasonable amount of time to invest in a hobby. How many people learn guitar, play a bit for 2 years, then put it away. Ditto for photography, or lifting weights, or running. BJJ is slightly different in that it has milestones, people close to blue and mentally encouraged to keep going as its so close. But once they get there, they are probably as far as possible from promotion, even on day 1. That effort reward dip is conducive to quitting.

  • Prehaps unpopular opinion here. But that graph makes no sense. :D

    I get what's its trying to say, but the Y-axis is mislabeled. Skill doesn't decline after the honeymoon period, in any activity (how could it?). The Y needs to be some other metric like perceived ability maybe. Or some other variable like transition from beginners lessons to advanced.

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  • I'm aware it was because they put more time in than me. Interesting to hear that drilling isn't necessarily the done thing for getting better. The club I was in at the time was one of the best in Dublin in terms of winning comps and they seemed to be all about drilling.

    Either way, doesn't matter to me - I've no interest in going back.

  • Hugely important for beginners. As they can’t get better at what they don’t know. But higher level guys spend disproportionately larger amounts of time rolling.

    Generally, drilling/passive training to learn, rolling/sparring/active training to improve.

  • That is essentially what they were teaching yes. 👍️ Seems the normal learning structure for most sports.

  • After an Olympic bar sprang up in the air twice beside me in the space of a few minutes while I was on a rowing machine as the guys who were using it unloaded one side of the bar and not the other I think some people should stick to the machines. I don't like 20kg projectiles flying around.

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  • Well, as you probably can imagine, you could have a club that spends a lot of time drilling and is the best performing competition club in the country, and the two things aren't necessarily causally related.

    The club that has the best reputation for producing competitors and winning in competition right now has a kind of critical mass of reputation and active competitors training together. Every year someone leaves another club and goes to them because of how they're doing in competition. I do think that eventually what has happened is you have a club stacked with winners.

    Now, this club also has a head coach who spent years travelling to the best gyms in the world and probably had a higher level of gi BJJ than anyone else in Ireland for years, so look, I'm not trying to take away from anyone either. If they drill a lot I also bet they roll a **** load, I'd be surprised if they didn't.

    I do think that yeah, beginners need to drill more and you do find high level BJJ competitors and coaches who are in the 'drills for skills' / 'drill to win' camp (Although I'd struggle to name them) and then there is an opposite camp. In the anti-drilling camp probably the best known is Kit Dale, who has a whole program based on concepts over technique, and Keenan Cornelius has talked a lot as well about how we thinks drilling is a waste of time.

    Personally I think the best compromise I came across is Straight Blast Gym's "I method", where they Introduce, Isolate and Integrate. The introduction stage is basically your cooperative technique practice and drilling. Isolation and integration are basically games and positional sparring where resistance progressively increases until you're using what you've learned in full sparring. It is the most cohesive approach I've ever come across in terms of the "how" of learning martial arts, and for beginners I think the way they use positional sparring (and frequently resetting people back to their starting positions) is safer than full sparring but way more productive than cooperative drilling.

  • I feel like a lot of people are quite cavalier about some of the complex lifts and how daunting they can be. I see a few people at my gym deadlift and it looks like the easiest way to end up with a recurring back injury. Don't even start me on the Overhead Press. Dropping a few dozen kilos of steel on my head is the first thing that springs to mind. Don't think anyone I see regularly really does it.

    I'm also of the opinion that most gym staff are useless. Don't know what it's like in Ireland but here in the UK, chain gyms are staffed by people who clearly don't give a toss or, arguably worse, corporate fake bubbly types who exhibit borderline predatory behaviour to make sales. I'm of the opinion that each branch should have at most, 3 people, 1 for cover and 2 to open up, clean and do the day to day admin.

    I appreciate that, at least the first point is mostly about me than other people. I can squat at least with a barbell so there's that.

  • Injury rates for the main barbell lifts are pretty low. It's funny you say you're comfortable squatting as despite the stigma deadlifts in particular get I would argue it requires a lot less technical proficiency than the other lifts and OHP is similar. From personal experience as someone who can be quite clumsy, I've injured myself once doing deadlifts, across thousands of reps. It also wasn't a serious injury and I was back deadlifting within a week or two. I've also never managed to drop an OHP on my head. Despite nearly passing out a few times while doing them (just a side effect of poor bracing when you're really pushing it), most people fail way before it's directly overhead and when it's with a barbell it's going to be very hard for it to slip out of your hands or anything like that.

    The trainers at the gym I'm at are quite lazy about pitching, which suits me. Some definitely are quite pushy and fear monger. Probably as much a consequence of the nature of the industry as of the individual.

  • not had a problem with the OHP , for me it either starts moving or it doesnt and gets easier after that if it does. its basically my favourite lift at the moment

  • Injury rates for barbell strength training are lower than vast majority of other sports/activities, including running and basically any ball sport. People hurt their back just as often from random tasks as they do from lifting heavy.

    I've coached people who've been concerned about dropping the bar, but it realistically just isn't something that happens. It's a bit like driving; in theory you're just one hard turn of the wheel away from killing yourself, but you don't do it because you know it's dumb. Similarly, you're not going to just let go of a bar unless you decide to.

    I'd agree that standard of coaching in most gyms is pretty poor. Low barrier of entry to the fitness industry and a lack of firsthand training experience are to blame. Means you end up with a lot of people who just want their hobby to be their job but couldn't care less about providing a great service to people.

  • I not up to speed on the Irish comp scene, but I'd assume you are referring to ECJJ/Darragh as the top club.

    Dropping an OHP is really unlikely. As mentioned above, its most likely to fail in the bottom.

    I get what you mean about the staff. But you suggestion of limiting staff to 3 people kinda misses the point of why they are employed. There are there for sales, not making your gym experience better. That said is a 24/7 access type and usually has only 0-2 staff on.

  • Any reason why they're lower? I would have thought the barbell would be the reason behind quite a few injuries.

    I was just ranting more than anything else. I'm at the gym before the open in the morning so my interactions with the staff are all but non-existent.

  • Yes, no one was naming names but the numbers don't lie, by smoothcomp standings or whatever metric you want they're well out ahead. Fair play to them.

    I've never dropped a barbell either during overhead work either. The only acute injuries I've seen happen in a gym where strength training / conditioning was going on was a blown out Achilles, from someone jumping down from a box. It's not to say that they don't happen, but I literally can't count the amount of acute injuries I've seen on sports pitches or indoor sports... Dislocated knees, ligament injuries, broken bones, broken teeth, K.Os, cuts... Not to say people shouldn't do them, but I'd be more worried about injuring myself playing a game of soccer or cycling to work than I would doing a long block of barbell training.

  • I was just thinking of who are the top guys on the pro circuit. Who can I name etc. And just seems like I'm casually aware of far more guys from ECJJ. Chris Leddy, Sam McNally, Marcus Phelan, Ffion Davis etc.

    Although that sort of proves your point of being a magnet for upcoming talent. Ffion moved there as an established grappler etc

  • If you fail an OHP, the bar is going to go forward. Unless you have some weird hypermobile shoulders, or your elbow tendons randomly decide to snap or something else catastrophic.

    I spent the first year or so of barbell training not having a notion what I was doing and lifting like a moron and managed to stay mostly injury free. Had achey knees from bad tracking and a tired lower back the odd time, but that's it. Granted, I didn't get very strong, but looking back, I think it's sort of amazing how much I managed to train with a barbell and not mess myself up.

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  • One of the main reasons is probably because it's such a controlled environment compared to other sports. I had a shoulder injury from rugby and lifting was the only thing I could do because I could adjust the load, exercise, tempo, etc. You don't get that option in any mainstream ball sports.

    The reason behind most injuries in any gym is people doing too much load, too soon. That can be done with any kind of resistance whether it's machines, barbells, dumbbells, etc. I've actually seen the most injuries happen with bodyweight exercises, as it's much harder to adjust the difficulty, so people just 'give it a go' and wreck themselves. Muscle ups probably best example of this I've seen but happens with things like push-ups and pull-ups too.

  • at least you can learn from most of those, its the chronic ones that have built up over time like shoulder issues so maybe someone that has been lifting for 20 or more years having less bobility then when they started

  • I run marathons.

    I get just a tad irked when Joe Boggs states that he/she "ran" a marathon in 5-6 hours. That ain't running- that's just shuffling around- anyone can do that. Grand- you get a pass the first time and fair play and all that etc etc but as far as I am concerned why God's name would you back a second or third time just to come home in the same time i.e. 5-6 hours. Whatever happened to improving and then banging on that you are a "multiple marathon runner" taking Strava pictures en route...Jesus wept. I don't get it- well I do really but I think it is bollocks. You should push yourself to constantly improve. Otherwise you are just a Kudos whore.

  • They might. Personally my shoulder is healthier and more mobile now than ever before. I'm sure I'll have plenty of nagging little pains in various joints by the time I'm 50, but it will have been worth it for all the benefits of training. Plenty of people who have those pains but no fitness to show for it.

  • A gym near me has the following tag line:

    "A Corporate Look With A Real Gym Feel"

    What the fook does that mean? What the fook does a "corporate look" look like and why the fook would you want that "look"? What is it anyway...lads in suits hitting the free weights?

  • Cleanliness and 'sleek' (more like sterile in my opinion) presentation of a commercial gym, with the friendly environment of a small gym maybe?

    My ideal lifting space is a garage so I'm not exactly in touch with the vibe they're trying to create.

  • "Yeah I ran a marathon too - the mini marathon"

  • Here is a better tagline

    "A real gym without the corporate speak bullshit"

  • I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. There is any number of reasons why people exercise and compete in races and many of these are completely unrelated to performance and improving times. Same thing in gyms, you'll often see people turning up for years and seemingly making no progress on the outside but you've no idea what their motivation for going is or their goals.

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  • My unpopular opinion is this.

    There is nothing terribly wrong with a plateau in your training if you manage to reach a reasonable level of fitness. Especially as the years move on. I appreciate boredom may set in but I think the constant need for progress actually puts some people off.

    Off course making progress in your training is great but sometimes I feel that training for longevity is overlooked.

    I'm early 50s do a bit of lifting and met con training 3 times a week. At this stage I want to be able to train consistently for the next 10 15 years, further progress would be nice and i do try to improve, but is there anything wrong with the message "keep doing what you're doing" it's a lot better than nothing, or giving up because the gains aren't coming.