Saturday, April 30, 2011

What's Wrong with McGymnasium, in a single-serving conversation

Henry Emilio, you need to stay inside of mother for a couple of more weeks. Dad's got a a week of traveling to do!

So, as of the first draft of this entry, I'm on an airplane over to Sacramento, which will be followed up by a week-long drive back across the United States. We've all got the same, three options when we jump on an airplane. We could:
1. Sleep
2. Read
3. Find a single-serving friend

Any Fight Club fans out there? Remember that reference? Single Serving friends (SSF) are those people that you meet on an airplane who are your friends for as long as you're on the flight. That's your time. So, I opted to order a single serving friend rather than bust out the scary book that makes people leave me alone. If only you could get away with reading books like this on an airplane these days...

Oh, and don't look stuff like this up at the airport either. It makes your computer act screwy. I can't imagine why...

Apparently, I have big muscles, according to my SSF. Naturally, we started talking about training. By my admission, as most of you know, I'm a very unconventional strength trainer. I'm not much of fan of the McGym world as it's (de)evolved in the past 40 years. Naturally, this perked said-SSF's interest. What was wrong?

Well, if you're a fan of my blog then chances are you agree with me that there's way too much wrong with the whole gym picture. Still, I had to think for a second. How do you prioritize, in a 20 minute conversation, what's all wrong with LA Planet GoldBally's-World-McGymnasium? Well, this conversation wrapped and moved onto another topic and I felt confident, even a little proud, that I felt like I had made a serious breakthrough in this woman's mind.

First of all, SSF was a woman, and like any other woman who enters a gym, was bombarded with the notion that anything resembling the weight of a tomato can is all women should ever lift. Apparently, this is the huge difference between men and women exercising.

Okay, breathe, Justin_P. Now answer...

I've got a pretty boiler-plate answer for this one: I told her, just like I tell every other woman, that doing real, so-called men's, strength training, won't make a woman big. To get big, it's necessary to combine big lifting with big eating. Unless anyone, man or woman, adds 1,000-3,000 calories to their diet, they won't get big.

Exhibit A, Friend Allyson: Typical bulked-up female weightlifter.

So, SSF was big into flexibility. I've been asked this a lot about what I do for flexibility. My masseuse certainly did, especially since while I had the usual calcium build-up in my muscles of guy who likes to strength train, I lacked the tell-tale inflexibility. The answer is: not too much. I'd much prefer to do lots of multi-jointed exercises through a full range of motion. I've never been a fan of stretching. I just never got anything out of it. I'm of the opinion that if you don't move in a lot of different ways, it's not long before you can't move in a lot of different ways. Use it or lose it!

While we were on the topic, I told her I was a huge fan of the notion of training movements, not muscles too.

To top it all off, probably to her biggest astonishment, I told her about how the bulk of my training was BW-only. I mentioned my traveling schedule and how I even managed to get big on BW-strength training only. That's always good for a dropped jaw. I explained, using the pull-up, how just a simple grip change can dramatically alter how difficult a pull-up becomes while the weight never changes. The love affair with the iron isn't the only option to get strong!

We moved on to talking about more important things, like my son who should be arriving at any moment now. Still, it felt good to pull back a few bullshit blinders that too many people wear about getting and staying fit.

So, let me ask you: if you had 20 or less minutes to explain what's screwed up about training as the world knows it, what would be on your list of stuff to bring up?


Dray said...

It's about coddling weakness and following trends rather than developing anything useful.

Anonymous said...

The ridiculous obsession with aerobic crap and treadmills, and the idea that bodyweight training can only be used for boosting endurance.

nunhgrader said...

Isolation exercises are practically useless. Looks should be the least of your goals. Endlessly droning away one's life in a McGym while forking out apprx. $50 or more a month is quite ridiculous. Pocket your money - do some burpees, pull-ups, push-ups, L-sits, planks, squats, lunges, jump rope, eat whole foods, drink plenty of water, don't smoke - watch the alcohol intake. If you like weights, try whole body movements and functional training. Check out kettlebell workouts. McGym is not required and I believe offers too many distractions plus pretensions.

codedxxx said...

The only I HATE about McGym is being told what to wear and given rules like no grunting and proper form ALWAYS during workouts. I've seen guys get HUGE only from doing shitty form pushups.
Personally, I prefer to work out naked in my basement cos I hate d cold feel of sweat on my tshirt and privates.

Justin_PS said...

Probably (I hope) not a serious comment but a funny one just the same!