Simply put, everyone goes to the gym for a reason. Some people want to look good, some want to get stronger, many want to lose weight (or reduce body fat I should say), while others might be exercising for athletic performance. Unfortunately, most people don’t do their research before they go into the gym.
Lots of times, people go to the gym and pick up weights, listen to the guy next to them for advice not knowing that he did the same when he first started going to the gym. Even worse, some people go to the gym, pick up weights and just “guess” as to what they’re suppose to do and they don’t even know why.
There is so much that can be said about the myths and retarded gym drones that I won’t even go into it. You can look at my Habits of Change website for more on myths, critical thinking and general motivation. You can walk into any gym and see people working out just for the sake of working out, with no goal in mind. The problem with that is how are you going to see results when you don’t have a goal? What the FUCK are you looking for?!
I’m going to break down the most common reasons people go to the gym and maybe this can help give people a better understanding of what they want to do.
Going to the gym to lose weight is as good as putting on a band aid before you get cut. Basically, weight loss has more to do with metabolic corruption, hormones and CARBOHYDRATES. Eat lots of carbs (especially them tasty simple carbs!) and your body’s blood sugar sky rockets. Your pancreas releases insulin to drive excess glucose into adipose tissue (fat cells). Insulin is a direct response to elevated blood sugar.
What this means is that in order to lower your blood sugar and prevent DEATH, your body chose the less of two evils and stored energy in your fat cells. As long as their is insulin flowing around in your body, that energy won’t be released so you get hungrier and eat more. This results in the same deadly spiral. Elevated blood sugar is also lined to inflammation which contributes to much of our beloved hypertensive conditions (heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, etc).
You can check many of my credible references on my “references” page. I have too much links and resources to put at the bottom of each post. Its simple. Carbs -> Insulin -> FAT Knowing that, we can dismiss all the load of shi’t about calorie counting. Over eating is eating more calories than we burn, sure. But why do we end up eating more calories than we burn? Calories are a unit of energy and the law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transferred.
Due to insulin high insulin levels in the blood, our body doesn’t release energy and we end up storing more energy than we burn. That is why after we eat lots of sugar, we get tired and crash. Our body stores it all and we wake up hungry again only to eat more crap that releases more insulin and gets stored.
Our body is starving for energy, but most of what we’re eating is getting stored due to the insulin in our blood stream! Now, we are eating more calories than we are burning. It isn’t because of genetics, eating too much food (only too much carbs), not exercising or the fuckin tooth fairy. Avoid insulin inducing foods and your body won’t store energy. Simple!
Now going to the gym does raise one’s sensitivity to carbs due your body using more energy. I consider that patch work. You can raise your CCLL and make your body more tolerable of carbs with exercise, but why not just get rid of the main culprit and avoid bad (simple/fast digesting) carbs all together?
- Power Lifting – Usually those who power lift aren’t doing it for looks or athletic performance. Their routine often consists of compound exercises targeting large groups of muscles. Power lifters usually do extremely heavy or max weight, between 1-5 repetitions most and no more than two sets. This method is great for building strength, but it isn’t effective for athletic performance (sports training) or bodybuilding. Do they care? No! They are training with a specific goal in mind!
- Bodybuilding – Bodybuilders are usually in the gym all the time. Unlike power lifters, body builders do both compound and isolation exercises. Bodybuilders target all their muscles and need to pump out as much reps as possible until failure. They start with compound exercises and then end it with isolation exercises to really make sure their muscles get exhausted. Body builders try to push out as many as 12-15 reps per exercise or even more. The upside is that they have muscles showing that athletes or power lifts don’t. They have great looking bodies!
The downside is that their training method isn’t really suitable for athletic performance. It is more systematic and not very functional. Bodybuilders also aren’t as strong as power lifters on average. Do they care? No! They are training with a specific goal in mind!
- Functional Strength and Endurance Training – Athletes usually avoid weights and go for more endurance or body weight exercises (plyometrics, circuit training, etc). Since this is under weight training and more athletes are starting to incorporate weights into their training, we will go ahead and put them under this category.
Functional training is using free weights (barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, etc) to mimic the natural compound movements and motions of the body. Our bodies were designed to use muscle groups, not a single muscle for a task. Some of the muscles are primary and some secondary to the movement, but more than one is used when we lift something, bend over, run, etc. Most sports athletes train under this category. For the longest time, there has been this stigma put on weight lifting as being bad for athletic performance. I would agree in the case of bodybuilding and power lifting, but there are other ways to use weights to benefit athletes. Functional strength and endurance. Aiming for 8-12 rep max (to failure) and 3 sets per workout. Compound and explosive movements are used to enhance an athlete’s speed and power as well as endurance. Super sets and circuit training is also popular and can be considered part of functional/athletic training.
Knowing your goal is very important. Most people go to the gym for “general” fitness. What the Hell is “general fitness”? Please do your research. If you’re fixated purely on strength and aren’t concerned so much about your appearance or performance, power lifting might be better suited for you. If your priorities are to look extra good with huge sexy muscles, then bodybuilding is a better option for you. If you want to be in good shape, build some strength, have great conditioning and look like an athlete, functional strength and conditioning is the most practical option to get you there. If you want to look like a chiseled up model or lift truck tires, functional training isn’t your best choice.
- Sport Specific Training – Okay. This one is strictly for sports athletes looking to enhance sport specific skills instead of overall strength and speed. The closer the training is to their actual motions of the sport, the more applicable it is to training. I’ll give examples. Sometimes boxers wear weighted gloves when hitting the punching bag. The added resistance will help with endurance (holding your hands up), effect speed and strength. Tennis players might want to play a round of tennis with a weighted vest and a heavier tennis racket to aim for the same thing. Get the point? It’s simple and practical.
So think about it. What is your goal and what are you going to the gym for?