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Exercise for general fitness is the bastard child of a haughty fashion, starting decades ago in a celebrated black-and-white subculture of physique superstars who were woefully a transgression of the norm, then snowballing through the decades via muscle magazines, gym programs, and bro-speaks until a critical mass is reached — everyone is flexing a muscle in front of a mirror, in the same way.
Therein lie the angel, in the same bed as the devil.
Exercise through the years has pulled more people into the gym, and that’s a good thing; but, it has also defined superfluous parameters for use by people who simply want to feel good, be healthy, and look fabulous.
Today we use exercise methods, intensity, volume, and frequency established by anabolic-steroid-using athletes like bodybuilders, NFL linebackers, and Olympic weightlifters.
The exercise methods commonly employed in today’s gyms are a snowballing result of misguided practices by fitness enthusiasts, pedantic prescriptions by personal trainers, and propagation by internet fitness figureheads.
Further, modern workouts are substantiated by irrelevant scientific studies conducted by Gatorade University using white, college-age male athletes without full-time jobs, family, or life obligation.
That shit makes for great exercise programming for someone who just want to be healthy, feel good, and look great naked. Yes, can we get Nancy, the mother of two with a full time job, to do some power cleans and some NFL drills?
Seriously, since when does someone seeking general health, fitness and a lean body require the method, intensity and volume of exercise for elite-level competitive athletes?
You want to look like a bodybuilder? Fine, then you need to pay your dues in the gym (nothing wrong with that). You want to look and perform like a linebacker? How about a division one lacrosse player? You want to run the Boston marathon? You’ll need to train long and hard, and commit to a regimented and scientifically precise (yawn) program based solely on the educated hope of eliciting a performance improvement of… 2%. It’s exercise for high level athletes on the verge of full-blown tendonitis, neural depletion, mental burnout, and straight-up injury.
(Poor Nancy will surely enjoy placing her life, family and job on hold to exercise like this.)
Let’s get back to reality. What if we just want to be reasonably fit, feel great (no joint pain, no chronic inflammation, no burn out), and look fantastic in our swimsuit? What if we just want some lean washboard abs? What if we don’t care about a 48-inch vertical jump or lifting an SUV?
We have to ask, then, why we’re following exercise intensity, duration and frequency made for competitive athletes.
If that’s our thing, then that’s cool. But if we simply desire an awesome physique, decent muscle mass, and reasonable fitness (not “elite fitness”) while feeling perpetually well, then the key may be just keeping things simple:
- Lift heavy stuff here and there
- Elevate your heart rate here and there
- Move around more in real life
- Spend LESS time in the gym
And if we want to get lean — the almighty ingredient to achieving that highly coveted physique that the majority desire in themselves and in others — then we already know what to do: Eat whole real food, and eat less of it.
If we want a hot and reasonably functional body, then there’s no need to drift from exercise theory to exercise principle to complicated scientific hypothesis to the latest magic bullet.
There is no secret other than this: Be consistent.
For everything else, keep it simple. And enjoy life outside of the gym.