I’ve grown tired of posting about fitness. What started as an exciting journey of exploration and sharing has become one battle after another. The debates never end. The name calling. My guru is better than your guru. This study showed this and that study showed that. Make it stop.
Why is there so much disagreement when it comes to strength training? If there is one fitness truth, then over a long enough time frame a consensus should develop. I took a step back and reassessed the problem. My feeling is this all comes down to values.
We all have our own fitness values and we establish goals and strategies that align with our values. When we view or hear information that conflicts with our views, the fitness debates commence. We rush to find evidence to support our view that we are right. But we rarely step back and ask if our values are the same. It is assumed that they are. But they often are not.
Photo by the rik pics
Building strength can mean different things to different people. It could be gaining mass, increasing a personal record in a lift or applying that strength to a skill outside the gym. Numbers are important to some and meaningless to others. A technical lift performed to perfection might be the driving force for one lifter and scorned as a risky way to demonstrate strength to another. What a scrawny kid values will be different than an in-season athlete or an older adult looking to prevent a health decline as they age.
My values in fitness have changed in the 20+ years I’ve been lifting weights. It all started with the desire to gain muscle. Size was the prize. After my beginner gains, numbers helped define my fitness values. I needed to lift so many times per week and I wanted to lift progressively more pounds. Just as the quest for size kept me in the gym, so did the numbers. As I got older I began to view my health with a longer time horizon and I made safety my primary fitness value.
One of the most popular posts on this site is I No Longer Give a Squat About the Squat. After three years I eventually shut the comments off on that post. I was arguing that the squat should be avoided and replaced with safer exercises. This lines up perfectly with my fitness values, but not the majority of lifters. Many value seeing the progress they make week by week as they push up more and more pounds. It is their driving force.
My home gym white board from about 10 years ago. Back then numbers kept me motivated.
The squat post is just one of many on this site where the real debate is not about methodology, but our different fitness values. I can mock the brotards, because I see them taking unnecessary risks, but those risks might be their sole motivation for going to the gym. Who is right? Who is wrong? The way I’ve answered this question personally is that it really doesn’t matter who is right. What is important is the consequences if we are wrong.
The problem with me blogging about fitness is that unless the reader is somewhat regular, they won’t understand my values and project their own onto what I’m sharing. They will visit a blog post that has a somewhat contrarian view that is rooted in values they do not have. And they won’t like what they have read or skimmed. At that point they can attack me in my comments or from another site. I can respond and try to explain myself better, which I have done now for years. But it gets old.
We just have different fitness values. And that is OK.