No better a source than Sandi Duncan, managing editor of the Farmers’ Almanac, has said that the new decade begins on January 1, 2021. Most people think it’s January 1, 2020. I’m not going to weigh in here with a decision. I will just say that my suggestions, below, for the new decade, can either start in 2020 or they can be prepped in 2020 for full-blown implementation in 2021. Everyone is happy. Everyone wins. The more important thing is the need to address the last ten years of fitness hype and drama, move on the next ten years, and create a better world for everyone.
Say Goodbye to Research Bros
The clinical trial is vitally important, but it has never been, and never will be, the full extent of “The Science Game.”
– Jonathan Rauch, The Kindly Inquisitors pic.twitter.com/labVIhBfnU
— CJ Gotcher (@CJGotcher) October 22, 2019
Research and science are good. Sports research and science are okay and serve a purpose. Normal people, sports science and research, and reactions to every paper that comes out should be put in its place. Too many experts, so-called experts, and commentaries about research papers have diluted the impact of the research.
There are six billion permutations of humanity, and growing, on this earth right now. Each one has a unique chemical and biological profile, sharing a lot of similarities in the core design, but differing in almost imperceptible ways that result in wide swings in ability and adaptability.
Even without statistical issues, sports science faces a reliability problem. A 2017 paper published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance pointed to inadequate validation that surrogate outcomes really reflect what they’re meant to measure, a dearth of longitudinal and replication studies, the limited reporting of null or trivial results, and insufficient scientific transparency as other problems threatening the field’s reliability and validity.
Genetics plays a role in your physical well-being. Environment does, too. Your own natural inclinations, prejudices, and devotion will also come into play. The number of ways in which you are different from the person next to you is infinite.
Sports science and research aren’t that well-funded, it often struggles to find bodies for its analysis, and there is valid debate as to whether the statistical methodology is, as a result, even valid.
It serves a purpose, but it isn’t meant to change your training programs and fundamentals every second week of the month.
However, having said all of that, if you really want to go all research bro, stick with Greg Nuckols and subscribe to his newsletter or podcasts, depending on how deep you want to go on this stuff. Nuckols is a good educator and other coaches gravitate to his in-depth analysis because he gives them a lot of material they can use.
He’s not necessarily someone that I would follow for coaching advice because there’s a swathe of coaches in bodybuilding, powerlifting, and weightlifting who are better suited as specialists, but you can ditch all the other research bros and not miss a beat.
Diets are business. They are neither science nor plans nor silver bullet solutions. Dieting is a multi-multi-billion industry. While there are valid reasons for people to diet, particularly in cases of chronic disease, diabetes, obesity, and such, there is very little reason to buy into an industry that is unregulated, untenable, and driven by the desire to sell false hope.
You will diet. You will because you’re human. You buy lottery tickets thinking you may that 1 in 234,000,000 who will strike the Jackpot. You don’t walk under ladders in case bad luck befalls you. You think WWE is real.
What if the answer to our health and wellness challenges is to eat more beef?
This would be amazing news for both the consumer and beef producers like you and me.
– The totally unbiased Beef Magazine
The dieting con is a stain on the fitness industry. The sooner people started to eat better, in moderation, with some thought put into quality over quantity, the better it will be for everyone. If you can’t enjoy eating then you have a real problem and a diet is just compounding the misery.
The study in the well-respected Annals of Internal Medicine rocked the nutrition world by suggesting the negative health effects of red and processed meat had been overstated. The international group of researchers, headed by Bradley C. Johnston, an epidemiologist at Dalhousie University in Canada, concluded that warnings linking meat consumption to heart disease and cancer are not backed by good scientific evidence. The group, which calls itself NutriRECS, recommended meat eaters continue their current levels of consumption.
But undisclosed in the study was that NutriRECS, a consortium of about 20 researchers, has also formed a partnership with an arm of Texas A&M University partially funded by the beef industry. The omission is the latest twist in an ongoing debate about how much researchers ought to disclose to the public about potential conflicts of interest.
Learn to Lift
Get a coach. Kettlebells, barbells, powerlifting, weightlifting, yoga, running, anything that you can think of requires some expert guidance and technique building. You may be lucky to be one of a small group, a one-percenter, who can learn any physical movement on your own. That’s great. Most everyone needs help.
Learning to lift properly is a lifetime investment. Learning to lift properly for your body type, your mechanics, well, that’s just gold. A professional trainer or coach, someone who has trained many, many people, will know how to help you identify the cues you need to lift properly.
An interesting article on factors that cause injuries in the warehouse is a good place to start because lifting that should come naturally is problematic enough, now add the complexity of the highly technical lifts you do in typical weightlifting or powerlifting sessions. What I want to emphasize is how important it is to develop a no-brainer, no cues needed approach to lifting to avoid injury and failure. Learning to lift is a lifetime commitment.
There are generalities that you pick up on social media, and there are a lot of stupid ones at that, but in the main, you are unique and could be so much more efficient if you had awareness of what that means in the physical plane.
It’s the only investment you need to make in yourself.
Drop Your Friends
Not real friends. The fake ones, the ones on social media. The only opinion that matters is yours. You need to feel good in your own skin. You need to have a handle on your health. A comment or an opinion from someone who isn’t you is irrelevant.
There are provisos though: if you are competing and you have a coach, they may tell you that you are not prepared and push you to make adjustments. A qualified professional gives a medical opinion on your health is another area where opinion matters. Other than that, it’s all on you.
A systematic review of 20 papers published in 2016 found that photo-based activities, like scrolling through Instagram or posting pictures of yourself, were a particular problem when it came to negative thoughts about your body.
Whether people tell you you’re great or you suck, it’s all the same. Your perception of how others see you is always wrong and their need to comment on you is their problem, a reflection of their own issues.
But, most importantly, you may then feel compelled to reduce your reliance on social media for inspiration, validation, and community. None of it is real because the depth of thought and engagement just isn’t there. You don’t overindulge in your nutrition so, why overindulge your psyche?
Don’t Lead, Don’t Follow
Straight off the last hack, it’s become really easy for people to find succor online among like-minded folk, gurus, and shamans. Everyone gravitates towards that one coach, or trainer, who confirms their own biases and beliefs. It is, as they say, the echo chamber.
The best way forward is to remain fluid, to avoid the black and white of the echo chamber and to accept that there are no absolutes in fitness. Every individual responds to and needs different stimuli to adapt, to grow, to better themselves. While fundamentals are great, we believe that wholeheartedly, how you react on any given day or program is entirely unique.
So, you focus on learning about you more than figuring out how someone else got to where they got. Arnold Schwarzenegger would talk about how he tried different exercises and routines then judged how he felt afterward, whether they felt like they were taxing him, and this method of trial and error guided him in the beginning. Bodybuilding is a pretty good place to understand the need to be your own experiment, your own leader, and your own follower.
It may also make you less of a troll online, too. Who doesn’t want that?
Buy a New Gym Membership
Unless your life depends on a certain training modality it’s always good for you to treat gyms the same way as you treat restaurants. You may have a favorite place that you default to, but ultimately, we all like to try new cuisines, new places, and often find the experience very satisfying or educational.
You might figure out what you like or need or, you may become certain about what doesn’t work for you. If you try different group classes, you will, undoubtedly, become better at appreciating good versus meh coaching. Different disciplines humble you because they force you to get out of your comfort zone. It may be as simple as ditching weights one day and doing yoga, which seems way harder than it should be for some people to get over mentally.
You might try having a sports day to break up your activity, a pick-up game of basketball, a tennis match, something that requires you to play with others as opposed to just workout on your thing. All these things build awareness of your physical self and expose your adaptability and athleticism, or lack thereof.