The fitness industry has plenty of science to back up its recommendations, but there are still “to infinity and beyond” ways to get results. That’s one thing that makes weightlifting great fun, but it also means there are a lot of voices – some very authoritative – that you should lift weights this way or that.
I’ve even heard a few internet gurus say you should not spend a lot of time lifting weights. Instead, you should spend your time doing things that are fulfilling, like throwing the Frisbee with your kids (or whatever).
I love spending time with my daughter, but these voices are annoying. I love spending my time lifting weights. Lifting is my nirvana, and I don’t need anyone telling me it’s not fulfilling enough to spend time on.
People give advice based on their own past demons and abuses from which they have learned, and we need to differentiate theirs from our own. Often, their advice is conveyed as though it’s fact. But we need to listen to our own needs, and that will depend on your goals and what your own nirvana is all about.
This goes for lifting techniques and workouts as well. For example, many people will tell you to do only compound (multi-joint) exercises. However, there is a place for isolation movements too, say for finishing off a muscle or targeting a weak area. There are no “all or nothing” maxims in weight lifting, unless it’s to go all out or go home.
Train “This Way”
With all the choices out there, I’m also not sure why certain ways of training are pushed as the best or smartest. One example is “keeping your training simple.” Sure, there is value in keeping your workout simple: You spend less time (if that is a concern for you) and a simple routine may not be as intimidating as, say, one that entails a lot of different exercises or techniques.
But more complex training plans can also be fun and rewarding. They can help beat boredom and increase your knowledge. To quote an article from stronglifts.com, “Weight lifting is a technical and intellectual sport.” If you want to do more than deadlifts, squats, and bench presses, then you have a vast array of choices. There’s nothing wrong with that and you will still meet your goals, providing you follow basic weightlifting practices, such as repetition and set ranges.
The bottom line is that if you’re time crunched, don’t enjoy lifting weights, or if you believe that it’s a better training philosophy, then go right ahead and focus on only five basic exercises to your heart’s content. Otherwise, do it your way (as long as you know what you’re doing, haha).
“Do This or You’re Not a Badass”
A lot of people are caught up in online “challenges.” A website, blogger, or brand/company, or anybody says you need to lengthen the amount of time you can hold a plank or that you need to be able to do 100 pushups or burpees within a certain time period. If you can’t, well, you’re not a badass like everyone else who can!
Personally, this type of thing bores me and if someone tells me I should do something, I usually push back. But the main reason I have never participated is because these types of repetitive movements can cause injury and burnout. If you’re doing 300 crunches a day, not only are you overtraining your abdominal muscles and risking low-back pain, but you’re risking mental fatigue that could eventually cause you to stop exercising altogether. And your elbows or shoulders might not be too happy about doing 100 pushups, either.
It can be dangerous to follow one-size-fits-all workouts. For example, a 23-year-old with no previous injuries may do great with an extremely high-volume program, but if someone else tries it they could end up injured.
I’m all for pushing yourself to achieve higher goals, but instead of doing ridiculous challenges or other rigid plans, I’m for well-balanced, individualized programming. Tribes are good, herds are bad – you know?
This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.