Working in the performance and fitness industry, people ask me everyday about an ad for a diet that helps people lose 40lbs in 2 months, about that crazy exercise circuit that blows up your arms, about that cross training regimen that everyone is doing. And generally, it's frustrating. Not because people are finding ways to get healthy elsewhere, but because I see other "professionals" compromising their own morals and their clients' health to make a quick buck and a cool advertisement. (As a note, the word professional in this industry is losing its value. Not every yoga teacher, spin instructor, and group trainer really deserves the title. Be careful who you listen to for advice).
Take the person who loses 40lbs in some ridiculously short amount of time. You see the before and after picture - what you don't see is how unhealthy the method is. Some diets ask folks to eat 1000 calories or less per day, which is wildly unhealthy and hurts the body more than it helps it. Some people end up with depression, others have no energy to make it through their day.
Look at that guy who takes some crazy muscle building supplement and does a million curls, crunches, and military presses. Yes, he now has huge shoulders and arms. What you don't see is the lifetime of spinal issues from repetitive flexion, the shoulder mobility issues from constantly pressing overhead with loads that are too heavy to maintain form, and the damage done to his organs and basic body systems from the supplements.
Watch the "CrossFit" games on television, and marvel at the crazy reps and sets those folks are doing in front of a national audience. What's not televised are the numerous people with muscular and skeletal injuries, and in some extreme cases organ failure. What they don't advertise are their injury rates (although most trainers are very acutely aware of them, and simply ignore them). In fact, CrossFit is suing nationally published scientific, peer reviewed journals just to keep the injury rates out of publications.
The overriding issue is that so many "fitness professionals" sacrifice the health of their client and their own morals to get quick results. The general public knows so little about fitness that nearly any trainer can say something and people will believe it because they trust them. Diets cheat healthy principles to drop quick pounds, supplements aren't regulated and nutritionists give them out like candy, and so many trainers push their clients to the limit to gain an inch on the arms and lose an inch on the waist. They do these things without regard for long term health.
More isn't always better - training 7 days a week will wear your body down.
Longer isn't always better - working out for longer than your body can handle will cause a release of your body's stress chemicals and the workout will begin to hurt you more than it helps you.
Less doesn't mean weight loss - not all calories are created equal, and eating less than you need will actually slow down your metabolism because your body doesn't want to deplete it's now limited resources.
Harder isn't always better - very few people can squat, hang clean, and deadlift correctly. These are difficult lifts, and coaches need to make sure the athlete is ready for what is being asked, no matter what CrossFit says.
We all have goals, many of them aesthetic. We all want to look good. But, the job of the coach is to look out for the clients' health in addition to pursuing those goals. Make sure your coach is doing so. At SportPerformanceU, we refuse to compromise our morals. There is a way to drop that 10 pounds, to get stronger, to look better, without cheating or creating long term health issues. It might be harder, it might take longer, but you will be better for it. The truth is, there are no shortcuts to success that don't carry negative consequences. There isn't some secret that some guy is hiding, there isn't some magical pill, there is no perfect workout. Results simply take dedication and discipline to the right methods. If you really want to achieve something and be able to reap the benefits fully, then do it the right way.
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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