Proper exercise is one of the most beneficial things a person can do to improve their quality of life. Proper exercise will improve your ability to perform any physical activity and your enjoyment of it. Proper exercise will improve your health and longevity and can even reverse some of the effects of aging. Proper exercise will make you look better –especially in combination with a healthy diet – which can have many positive effects on social interaction and self esteem.
However, when exercise is not performed properly, when a program is poorly designed, includes poor exercises, and encourages a poor method of performing them it can be counterproductive for these goals. A poor exercise program can waste your time, cause overuse and acute injuries, and undermine your long term health and fitness and negatively affect your quality of life.
I’ve been teaching people how to exercise and instructing workouts for over twenty years now, and I am not exaggerating when I say I have seen people’s lives transformed and even saved by proper exercise. I have also seen a lot of people who have suffered because of misinformation, wasting years of their lives and sometimes absurd amounts of money on inefficient, ineffective nonsense that caused them more pain and frustration than results, nonsense that wreaked havoc on both their bodies and their self-esteem.
Exercise is about more than being able to stand out at the beach; it is about people’s physical and mental health and the quality of their lives. So, I get more than a little pissed off when I see outright bullshit being sold as exercise.
When I see fitness and bodybuilding publications like Men’s Health post bullshit on social media I call them on it. Of course, nobody likes being called out for promoting bullshit – especially when it threatens the interests of their advertisers – so they promptly banned me and I can no longer “react to” or comment on any of their posts.
What kind of bullshit? Promoting a variety of nonsensical and relatively ineffective and inefficient exercise programs with the promise they will help you lose fat, build muscle, and get six-pack abs or huge arms in a matter of weeks. These workouts will do no such thing and are actually far less effective than a proper exercise program, while requiring far more time in the gym, and are nowhere near as safe. The only thing most of them will do for your abs is overtrain them.
What is true then? Here are a few truths you won’t hear in Men’s Health and most mainstream fitness media because it doesn’t help sell bullshit programs and products:
No exercise program or diet produces results that are as fast as the magazines promise. It is not realistic for most people to expect to lose more than two pounds of fat per week on a consistent basis, or to gain anywhere near one pound of muscle per week beyond the beginner stage. You can not “get ripped abs” or “add two inches to your upper arms” in a matter of weeks.
No exercise program alone will get you ripped abs, and it is utterly stupid to perform 30 to 45 minutes of abdominal exercises when only one set of a one or two is all you need for most muscle groups. If you want to be lean you have to also follow a proper diet. I have been ripped and I have been fat and through it all my workouts never changed; just my diet. If you want to be lean you have to eat properly for the goal. There are no shortcuts.
There no “secret techniques” or “weird tricks” bodybuilders and fitness models are privy to that allow them to look the way they do – the majority of them just have very good genes for building muscle and losing fat and use drugs that make it even easier to do so in spite of training programs that are ineffective at best and would be counterproductive for genetically-average, drug-free trainees.
There is no easy way to build muscle or lose fat. Proper exercise is very hard and it is not fun or entertaining or sexy. It is called a workout because it is supposed to be work.
Why, then, do they promote the opposite? Because most people would rather buy a lie they want to believe than a truth they don’t, and publications like Men’s Health put money before people. I’ve got nothing against making money, but I believe the way to do that is to give people something of objective value, not telling them what they want to believe or promoting unrealistic fantasies as truth.
If you like exercise fantasy fiction you’ve come to the wrong place. If you like your exercise and nutrition information without all the bullshit, I’m glad to have you as a reader. Thanks to all of you long-time readers who have helped me get the word out about proper exercise over the past twenty-years since I started writing online, and welcome to all the new people.
To better understand where I’m coming from with all of this, please read My Philosophy of Exercise. If you want to learn more about proper exercise there are currently almost three hundred articles here, several books currently available, and a few more coming soon in the book store.