Fitness Insights

I am not a personal trainer. I hold no certifications in the fitness industry. However, I do hold some strong opinions on fitness. I’m a contrarian by nature and I see much of what passes for expert knowledge in the gym is just wrong. The fitness industry operates with a primary desire to make one feel poorly about their physique, become a good consumer and hand over common sense to experts. The industry is also excellent at making their failures look like your failures. I’ll quote myself.

Instead of empowering people to make slow gradual permanent steps toward better health, the fitness industry attacks their insecurities and converts them into consumers of programs that just yield short term gains. Then they let them fail and then sell them again.

I’ve been a regular at the gym since 1994 and consider myself a decent researcher. I’ve tried many different exercise strategies and read from lots of experts. I continue to learn. Because I have no commercial interests in the fitness industry, you may find some of my ideas novel or radical. Don’t take my advice blindly. Please do your own research, question everything and listen to your own body.

General Advice

My 10 Gym Tips For 2010 – The year is not relevant, the advice is timeless. This is a good starting point.

The Scientific Program – Commercial fitness programs that promote excessive workouts succeed only because they promote the few highly successful survivors instead of the majority of failures.

The Minimal Effort Approach – This explains my core beliefs about fitness. Taking slow defined steps toward achieving your fitness goals has a higher probability of success than the “go big or go home” nonsense.

Survivorship Bias

An important fitness topic that is rarely discussed is understanding the concept of survivorship bias.

Rambling Thoughts About Gym Survivorship – Why you shouldn’t necessarily model your fitness program based off the most successful.

Help me Understand CrossFit – I don’t think too highly of the latest fitness craze. The comments exploded on this post.

The Problem With Boot Camp Training – I go after the form of training that turns personal trainers into Army Drill Sergeants.

Responding to a CrossFit Enthusiast – Another post on survivorship bias, risk vs reward and I apply the financial term of alpha to exercise.

Fitness Professionals Fail to Understand Survivorship Bias – How economics fool trainers into believing the more exercise is better.

For the Male Ectomorph

If you are a lanky guy with long arms and small wrists then you are at a severe disadvantage for gaining muscle. As a fellow ectomorph, I have a few thoughts on the subject.

The Ectomorphs Dilemma – What it means to be an ectomorph that desires both muscle and being lean.

Weight Lifting Wisdom For the Tall Lanky Guy – This article is all about grip strength, which for many ectomorphs will be the limiting factor in gaining strength.

My Bench Press Sucks and I Don’t Care – Why this ectomorph is done with the bench press.

I No Longer Give a Squat About the Squat – One of the most popular posts on this site. I tell you exactly why I think the barbell back squat should be avoided.

Rejecting the Naked Warrior – Why I dislike Pavel’s approach to body weight exercises, plus my approach.

Reality Check

A few of my posts will go after the claims of fitness experts or celebrities.

How Tim Ferriss REALLY Gained 34 Pounds of Muscle – Some of us will get discouraged when we read that someone gained a lot of muscle quickly. In this post, I expose a few of the tricks used to make rapid physique transformation.

How Micky Rourke Gained 27 Pounds of Muscle For the Wrestler – Uncovering the truth behind a celebrity claim of rapid muscle gain.

Fitness Role Models Revisited- I’ve changed my opinion on finding realistic fitness role models.

High Intensity Training

In late 2010, I stopped training Pavel style and decided to try out High Intensity Training. Now I am a convert.

High Intensity Training at Ideal Exercise – My first all out High Intense Workout.

Training to Failure or Training to Quit – A discussion on the merits and potential downside to training HIT style.

Training To Failure or Training to Quit Part 2 – A continuation of the previous post on training to failure.

High Intensity Training – My 6 Month Update – Reflecting on my first half year doing HIT.

The Paleo/HIT Cyclical Approach to Fitness and Nutrition – An evolutionary outlook on HIT.

Escaping the Glitter: Taking High Intensity Training Outdoors – A body weight approach to HIT.

Hillfit 2.0: A Zero Budget Approach to High Intensity Training – A guide to HIT at home that requires no gym equipment.

Merging Foundation Training With Hillfit – I used my two favorite body weight fitness programs to create a hybrid exercise that has helped me tremendously.

Nutrition is FAR MORE important than Exercise

The biggest mistake I see people making is believing that you can correct mistakes of diet by just working out or working out harder.You can not out train a poor diet. Most people would be far better spending their time learning how to cook than exercising. I believe physique transformation is at least 80% diet and probably 90% for women.

Caloric Nonsense at the Glitter Gym – I am not a fan of counting calories and steady state cardio.

CDC Confirms That More Exercise Hasn’t Helped Obesity Rates – The big lie in the fitness industry is that exercise plays an important role in fat loss. It doesn’t and if you are exercising as much the experts recommend, you’ll be too hungry to control your diet.

Exercise and Fat Loss

This is my 5 part series from 2012 where I dismiss the traditional role of exercise in fat loss and then speculate on why exercise fails to assist with fat loss over the long term and what we can do about it.

Walking Didn’t Lean Me Out – I showed how diet and not exercise was the reason I lost 20 pounds of fat.

How Exercise Indirectly Kept Me Fatter – The way I exercised for 20 years not only didn’t help me lean out, but kept me a higher weight.

Fat Loss and the Case for Less Exercise – Why less exercise yields a higher probably for fat loss than more exercise.

Fat Loss and High Intensity Exercise – I believe that intensity is more important than duration when designing an exercise plan for fat loss.

Maximizing Fat Loss with Exercise – The limiting factor to leveraging exercise is not determination or passion. It is recovery times.

Avoiding Cardio

I am not a fan of steady state cardiovascular training. It is ineffective for permanent fat loss and not necessary or even optimal for cardiovascular health. It also makes one more prone to injury and illness.

Why Do I Diss Cardio? – A post from 2008 outlines a few reasons. I’ve got more today.

No Cardio Clarifications – I cover a few exceptions in this post.

Exercising To Success – Running oneself repeatably to exhaustion is hormonally stressful.

The Myth of Cardiovascular Training – You do not need to do cardio to have a healthy heart.

The Runner 1989-1995 – I am not slamming cardio because I can’t do it. This post lists the marathons and triathlons I completed before I gave up distance running.