The Path to Strength Training Enlightenment
At some point in life, we are all beginners. As humans, we understand that if we are to expand our knowledge and skills, we must be willing to go outside of our ability and possibly make ourselves look foolish in the process. The willingness to experience this discomfort separates those who grow and improve versus those who remain stagnant and limited.
When we are in the first stages of understanding a topic, we often look for knowledgeable individuals within the endeavor we are focused on, seeking guidance and information to escape the discomfort of ignorance. Whether we read books, articles or follow them on social media, it is understood that if we wish to become adept, we must learn from those who are adept.
Currently, strength and conditioning content and information are two of the most popular topics on social media. This rise in popularity coincides with the uptick in health and physical fitness interest over the past decade. Increased popularity has also created a market for online coaching and content, which has been both beneficial and detrimental to folks new to the world of strength training.
As a beginner, it is a tremendous benefit to have access to the amount of information and content provided by experts via the internet. However, it is also a detriment to the beginner to have access to an extensive amount of information and content provided by experts. How does that make sense? Well, consider the possibility that there can be a difference in the intent of these experts.
We mentioned above the fact that strength training has reached an all-time high in popularity, as well as the marketplace that popularity created. With the number of beginners entering the realm of strength and conditioning daily, some experts have opted to sell fear and falsehoods to develop a dependency amongst their following. It’s a business trick as old as business itself, creating fear while providing the solution (with a price tag attached). Every beginner that buys into the fear and becomes dependent on the product is another loyal customer gained, and the scheme carries on.
Fortunately, as long as you haven’t already become mentally shackled by one of these individuals, they are easy to identify. The first thing to look for is an individual that constantly preaches the dangers and risks of lifting. There is no doubt; weight training can become dangerous when done improperly. However, these individuals grossly overstate the risk associated with weight training.
Thinking rationally, if weight training was as dangerous as these individuals make it out to be, medical facilities would be filled with injured beginner lifters every month. However, if you speak to any doctor or nurse, this is not the case. Secondly, the occurrence of a catastrophic training injury is rare, but as long as you are training the risk will always exist no matter which warm-up protocol or recovery method you follow. Can you mitigate the risk? Potentially. Like it or not, humans can break.
The next thing to keep an eye out for, the coach that complicates strength training. They will have a thousand different exercise variations (usually accessory exercises), methods with weird names you’ve never heard of to add the arcane knowledge feel, and will have you spending more time thinking about how to do an exercise versus focusing on executing the exercise. The truth is, strength training is not that complicated.
Do you have to avoid accommodation to get stronger? Of course. Do you need to do some weird variation of a commonly known exercise because an internet coach was short on content for the week? No. Stick to regular rotations of basic movements and variations, get as much as you can out of those exercises, then begin rotating in new variations of those basic exercises intended to target recently identified weak muscle groups.
The final thing to look out for is your wallet. If you are falling into the trap these coaches are setting for you; your wallet is in danger. There is no doubt, if someone is an expert in their field, they deserve to be paid a fair amount for their content and products. The keyword is “fair.” I will not list what I believe to be reasonable pricing; however, if your intuition tells you that you’re being ripped off, don’t let the next “better listen to this or you’re gonna be in a wheelchair” video fool you.
You may ask, what benefit is it to a coach to limit the understanding of their following? As a lifter gets stronger, they begin to see the truth. They identify what works, what doesn’t, and as any intelligent individual does when building a system, they discover ways to simplify the approach to make it as efficient as possible.
This means an experienced lifter will quickly identify the useless methods a low quality coach pushes and properly reject them. In the strength and conditioning marketplace one rule remains true, experienced lifters and athletes spend less money. An uninformed customer base equals cash.
Fortunately, for every coach who lacks integrity, two more coaches choose to coach with integrity and speak the truth. These coaches understand they will gain new business for every athlete, follower, or client they help. Why? Because people like to talk about things that are beneficial to them. The best marketing campaign you can assemble is large numbers of successful clients and athletes talking about how great a coach you are.
Seek the truth, follow those who coach with integrity, and avoid the trap of irrational fear and misinformation intended to separate you from your cash. The path to enlightenment is cheap; all you have to do is find the correct well of knowledge.