Knock Yourself Out, Bro!

This post isn’t for my regular readers. It is for those that leave hostile comments challenging my views on fitness. Instead of repeating myself over and over in the comments, I’ve created this post. 

Dear Bro,

You’ve been directed to this post because I am too tired to respond directly to your comment. For a few years now I have tried to explain my motivation in several posts and numerous comments. Sometimes I’ve succeeded, but the most of the time I haven’t. To be brief, my primary motivation in fitness to get strong without getting hurt. It sounds so simple and we all want that result, but so few people think through exactly what that means.

leg press

Photo by Elias Rovielo

You think that machines are inferior to free weights. I disagree. When the reps are slow and controlled, the machines are awesome.

You think that it is possible to always load the correct amount of weight and use a perfect form for every rep of every squat, bench press, and deadlift. I disagree. I call this the myth of the perfect rep. Some people can, but they are a rarity or are young enough to recover quickly from their mistakes.

You think I don’t lift enough. I think you don’t rest enough.

You model your workouts based on outliers that would have succeeded regardless of whatever exercise protocol they chose. I model my workout by avoiding the movements that are most likely to cause injury.

When I look into a gym and see the big guys lifting heavy and the smaller people using machines, I see that as selection bias. You see it as an affirmation you are correct.

When I look into a gym and see a huge age distribution drop-off in the guys who lift serious weight around age 35, I get alarmed. You probably don’t even notice it or make reasons why the guy who was badass 5 or 10 years ago doesn’t come to the gym anymore. I suspect he is in pain. You probably think he lacks willpower.

Warren Buffet said this quote about investing.

Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.

For Buffet investing was not about reaching for the highest returns. It was first about protecting downside risk so he didn’t lose money. I believe that the same wisdom should be applied to fitness.

Rule No. 1: Never get hurt. Rule No 2: Never forget rule No.1.

If you believe in No Pain, No Gain, all I can say is enjoy your pain.

When you step up to a crosswalk, you are probably the guy who keeps hitting the button thinking that it will make the light change faster.

You aren’t going to convince me and I am not going to convince you.

Knock yourself out, Bro!


Add yours

  1. Love this. Not sure whether Rule Number 1 or Rule Number 2 is the more important one 😉

  2. I understand completely. The weight room is for athletes to rehab injuries and to get stronger for their sport. The athlete should never get an injury in the weight room preparing for competition. Now though, commercial gyms aren’t utilized by professional athletes, but by guys and girls to whom lifting weights (not power lifting or olympic lifting for competition) IS the sport. Weight training in this way is begging for injuries.

  3. @James – Well said. Too often young men try to train like pro athletes and end up getting hurt. Chasing outliers is a low probability way to achieve your fitness goals.

  4. Love, love, love this!

  5. I agree and for those that don’t ……..just be patient and read in another decade again.
    Btw on tne BBS blog there is some good discussion/posting about getting older and still be able to workout(after 30-40 years of working out) and also still be able to do ‘other stuff ‘ .

  6. @ad ligtvoet – one of the problems is in another decade there will be another crop of young “indestructible” young men taking risks and not (yet) getting hurt. Those that got hurt from the previous decade will be removed from the pool. The failures in fitness are always hidden. Chalked up to getting old and lazy. Personal characteristic flaws. And there will always be some fitard trainer profiting from that message.

  7. Train to build strength and reduce the risk of injury. Properly performed HIT covers almost all the bases. The only thing it might not account for is the damage accrued from those that sit at a desk 9-5 for 40 years. I don’t currently have a “movement practice” but I believe that exercise (HIT) should be supplemented by an efficient movement practice or an active lifestyle.

  8. @Lawerence – Sure, but this post was not about fitness in totality, it was about weightlifting and safety.

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