Here's the One Thing You Need to Know about Internet Fitness Advice
For all the good things the internet brought to our lives, there are a few I can think of that do the exact opposite. Free streaming is good and all, but information overload is my favourite to talk about. If you’re anything like me, you too feel inundated by fitness advice from left and right.
“Squat deeper. You need to go ass-to-grass. DEEPER! If you don’t squat deep, you won’t get the most out of the movement. ATG is the only way to go!!”
“Mate, you can’t drink too much soy milk. It will turn you into a man with boobs (not the type you want to have!), there’s too much oestrogen in it.”
“Are you drinking alcohol? You’re done. You can’t build mass if you pour vodka down your throat like that. You need to live like The Rock or you might as well give up.”
For everyone who tells you that you should take it easy, there’s someone who will tell you the only way forward is to have insane discipline.
For everyone who will scream at you to squat deeper, you’ll find two who will argue that it will mess up your knees.
For everyone who will recommend working out six times a week, there’s going to be someone who will tell you to only bother three.
I’m guilty of this as much as the next guy. Everyone thinks they know best. We think we know best because we give recommendations based on what worked for us. But we shouldn't forget that what worked for us might not work for everyone else.
I’ve fallen victim to this many times. After all, that’s how my fitness journey started – with a personal trainer who gave me a boilerplate nutrition plan without first understanding my needs and body type. That was a waste of six months, during which I ate much less than I should have. My trainer didn’t understand what worked for me and I didn’t know better, so I blindly followed his advice just because he looked like someone who knew his shit.
That lesson has taught me that what works for you doesn’t always work for others. Let me give you a few examples.
In January 2016 I dropped all refined sugar from one day to the other. Boom! No more cake, no more sweets, no more anything with more than 5% refined sugar (some bread has 10%, just so you understand how hardcore 5% is).
Then I started preaching to everyone who listened: I sleep better, I feel better, I don’t have cravings anymore and I’ve regained control of my own body. You should try it!
I was adamant everyone else should do it, but I was wrong. If it doesn’t sound like a challenge you’d love to take on, you shouldn’t. Most people would be miserable if they’d follow the same strict regime I am.
After five happy years, I've decided to change the gym for a CrossFit box. I don't know how I haven't discovered it earlier. Before working out, I get the same butterflies I used to get before hitting the weight room years ago. It's like being in love all over again.
When people ask me how they should start their fitness journeys, I have the tendency to lead them to CrossFit. It's such an amazing place for me that I desperately want others to experience it. But working out so hard that you throw up every now and then might not sound like everyone's cup of tea. Plus, it doesn't matter what you do. As long as you're doing some type of exercise, all roads lead to Rome.
Even more food
As much as I would like it to, I’ve found that lean bulking doesn’t work for me. This is why whenever I want to build mass, I do it dirty. Do I put on some fat here and there? Immediately. Do I have jeans that only fit me outside my bulk period? Surely do. Do I build mass? Oh yes!
Will it work wonders for everyone? Probably not. And while I surely talk about it, I don't recommend it to anyone as the one and only recipe.
So is all internet advice bad?
If anything, most advice is actually good, seeing that it was useful enough for someone. The more important question is ‘Will it be useful for you?’.
Squatting to parallel can be just as good (or better) than going deep. I guess that as long as you pay your dues under the bar, regardless of how you do it, we’re good.
Not eating sugar works for me. It’s also a bad lifestyle choice for others, because it means they will have to refrain from things they enjoy doing. It’s not worth doing anything if the consequences are worse in terms of your overall happiness.
You need to look at all internet advice – including this one – with a critical eye. Give everything a try once and see how it fares. Gauge feedback and iterate. If someone is talking up a routine that is right down your alley, give it a try for six weeks. No results? Scrap it. Great results? Mazel tov.
Do the same with your diet, sleep, meditation, and everything else that revolves around healthy living.
The most important thing you need to know about internet advice is this: you do you! Be ruthless about every piece of advice, be it from Adam Bornstein, Jim Stoppani, your newbie personal trainer, or this very place.
All that matters is what works for you.
Now go and squat. Squats always work.