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Old 03-06-2017, 12:45 AM
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Myths by DR. Squat

Almost every week I go to a different gym in the USA. True. It’s what I do these days. ISSA strength coaches,’ performance nutritionists’ and personal fitness trainers’ certification seminars. It’s interesting because I am getting a cross-sectional understanding of what’s going on in USA’s Irondom that’s perhaps a bit more in-depth than most perspectives. How many people do you know who visits DOZENS of different gyms yearly? It’s also 1) enlightening because I learn things, and 2) frustrating because I am constantly obliged to help so many people UN-learn things.

Myths abound in Irondom. That it’s totally understandable how these myths were born is not a consolation. Most of them are couched in shallow science (but deeply enough to take root), and are somewhat believable. I’ll get howls of outrage from many of the perpetrators of these myths as a result of writing this article. See, they’ve said it so many times to themselves and others that they actually BELIEVE what they’re saying! Some have even vested their entire careers -- their very souls -- in their errant beliefs.

The most damaging yet curiously enduring ones come from five sources:

· The Bill Reynolds Syndrome (a.k.a. The Magazine Editor Syndrome);
· The Big Guy Syndrome (a.k.a. The Gym Guru Syndrome);
· The “I Feel It” Syndrome (a.k.a. The “It Works For Me” Syndrome);
· The Denizens of the Drawing Board Syndrome (a.k.a. The “Form, NOT Function, Stupid!” Syndrome); and
· The Supplement Salesman Syndrome (a.k.a. The “Sell it! Sell it!” Syndrome).

Mind you, I realize that I’m giving the industry -- Irondom -- a lot of credit by even mentioning these sources of myth. But, as I’ve said, I have a rather in-depth view of Irondom, and believe there to be enough Ironheads out there who’ll understand and relate to what I say here. The rest of you? Well, you’ll no doubt go back to your social clubs and carbo coolers, content in your current beliefs. We’ll never meet on the platform, I assure you!

The Magazine Editor Syndrome
Bill Reynolds -- now deceased -- was editor of Muscle & Fitness while it was still a great magazine. He was under a lot of pressure to come up with unique stories each month. In one month he wrote a story about biceps training. The next time he does a biceps story, it has to have a biceps training routine that totally different. No one wants to read the same story twice. Even though there is one way to train your biceps -- lift the damned bar!

Bill and I were sitting in my office one day, arguing whether there was more than one way to train biceps. See, the biceps span a hinge joint. The elbow is capable only of flexion and extension. Regardless of starting position or direction of movement, only unidirectional flexion is taking place in the elbow joint. There is no way of “attacking” the biceps from many different angles, as though it were some sort of an invading organism being attacked by macrophages.

Bill thought differently. Now, Bill had an advanced degree, had written 30 or so books on training, and was an accomplished lifter in his younger years. He wasn’t stupid about training science. So how come he thought differently? The story is amusing.

Bill ran back to his office and came back with two photos of Frank Zane, one from 1973 and another from 1983. “See, Fred?” Bill implored, pointing to the gap between Zane’s biceps and forearm in the 1773 photo. “Zane had a gap there, and it’s gone in the 1983 photo!” I looked. Bill was right. The gap was gone.

Then Bill said, “Zane learned how to do better dumbbell curls. Now he starts with the dumbbell behind his back, and curls it outward and then inward toward his opposite ear while supinating his forearm.”

That’s what he said. I swear. I kicked Bill out of my office, as further discussion was virtually spurious. “You on drugs, Bill, or what!” I muttered. “Zane just finally learned how to POSE in the 1983 picture!” See, Zane had twisted his fist outward slightly in the 1983 photo, thereby elongating his biceps by wrapping the biceps tendon of insertion around the radius bone of his forearm. Clearly, Bill had bought into his own drivvel for the sake of selling more magazines.

The Gym Guru Syndrome
Picture this. A youngster walks into a gym and notices a big guy training arms. The big guy has massive arms. No gap either. The youngster says, “Gee Mister! How can I get big arms like you?”

The big guy, not wishing to appear stupid to his young admirer, and instead wishing to appear as though what he does is more “sophisticated” than merely “lifting the damned bar,” says, “Well kid, ya gotta eat thirty chickens a month, train only at 3:30 in the afternoons to coincide with your biorhythms and twist the bar to your opposite ear every rep. And, NEVER do legs on the same day you do biceps!”

The myth is born. The kid buys into the drivel, goes on to get big guns, and passes the myth on to the next kid. He even gets a Reynolds-mentality editor to let him ghost-write about the “science” of arm training.

The “I Feel It! I Feel It!” Syndrome:
So, how do I get more “cleavage” between my pecs? How do I fill in the gap between my biceps and the forearm? How do I get more sweep to my quads? The big guy, the magazine editor, or someone -- it matters very little who -- says, “Ya gotta attack the muscle from many different angles!” Gawd amighty! “Attack?” You at war? What? Attack what!?!!?

Look folks, Your muscles all have origins and insertions. Usually, you’ll force the muscle to contract against a greater-than-normal resistance in such a way that the insertion is obliged to move toward the origin. The force is transmitted through the belly of the muscle. In other words, you’re gonna lift the damned bar! That’s what’ll make it grow bigger and stronger. Attacking it from angles other than this will cause NEGATIVE forces, meaning that you’ll microtraumatize the muscle. This is a practice which invariably leads to overtraining.

But therein lay the problem. By microtraumatizing the muscle through application of negative forces -- by physically applying shearing or tensile force on the tissue enough to cause It to rupture -- you have accomplished one thing. Tissue destruction. NOT tissue growth. The post-exercise muscle soreness you feel the next day comes from hydroxyproline.

The Denizens of the Drawing Board Syndrome
I’ve been in the gyms long enough to remember practically every piece of equipment to hit the gym scene. It doesn’t matter that Arthur Jones got his idea for his Nautilus variable resistance cams from the mid-19th century German therapists (wood carvings of early cam weight training machines exist, and may small museums in Germany feature some of the old technology). His marketing genius gave the industry a rebirth in many ways. Body Masters, Cybex, Icarion and the slew of manufacturers out there all copied him, just as he copied his predecessors. Really, the NEWEST technology to hit the scene came in the early 1900s with Milo’s invention of the adjustable dumbbell and barbell.

But I digress. These machines are not often made by true biomechanics experts with doctorates in their profession, or years of training wisdom under their belts. They’re made by engineers, welders and marketeers. In my travels, I’ve come across many manufacturers who keep an exercise physiologist on staff. Usually, they’re well-schooled youngsters with very little in-the-trench experience in lifting, and even less experience in designing equipment that’s original or biomechanically correct.

It’s chic to have one on staff. It’s good marketing. It doesn’t, however, ensure that the best technology has to offer will be forthcoming from these denizens of the drawing board! In fact, folks, by my reckoning, the dearth of exceptional equipment out there has given rise to a whole new genre of myth. “How best to train” has become the purview of these denizens, the responsibility having been wrested, by virtue of economic power, from the hands of we Ironheads (many of us are educated too) who generally know better.

Think of it. By forcing you to follow a given track on any given machine, isn’t the manufacturer “instructing” you that this is the correct form for this exercise? Why else would he have made the machine in that particular configuration? Trust me, it’s generally because everyone else did it before him.

The Supplement Salesman Syndrome
I almost needn’t say more. Salesmen have been filling our minds with falsehoods since the industry began. Of course there’s some great companies out there! Of course there’s some great supplements out there! Of course there’s many in the industry who are truly believers in legitimate science!

Then, there’re others who are not. We, being a gullible race, and most particularly one who is constantly seeking for an edge up to greater muscular size, less fat, improved performance (or whatever). We’re vulnerable. We’re constantly taken advantage of.

Therein lies the myth source. We WANT to believe! Many powerful forces make it so. The cagey purveyors of snake oils know this. They’re master at their craft of deception. Beware.

What To Do?
There are many avenues out of the maze. Knowledge is power. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto thee. Stuff like that.

One thing for sure, though, and that’s the importance of the mere recognition of the problem on your part!

DR.SQUAT........Frederick C. Hatfield, Ph.D., MSS
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:31 PM
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I know all these guys...funny I didnt know I ran in the same circles as Dr. Squat.

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