The problem with mainstream fitness information

What is the the problem with mainstream fitness information? Recently Dom picked up a special edition of ‘Men’s Health’ magazine after the headline piqued his curiosity, “The Ultimate Body Transformation Bible, Nine Tried and Tested Plans to Keep you Lean for Life”. Providing a plan or plans that can keep you lean for life is quite a claim and for the low price of £9.99. Dom inspected closer!

Sadly this was not quite the Bible it claimed to be. Firstly the meal plans are fairly generic and whilst they provide decent enough info there is no guide of how to make the plan fit individuals. The claim that the plans provided will “Keep you Lean for Life” means that the nutrition planning needs to be sustainable long term and are you really going to want to eat chicken breast 3 times a day for the rest of your life?!? Can you start to see the problem with mainstream fitness information?

We understand and you might understand that there is nuance to this and Men’s Health is just giving us a snap shot of a day in the life so to speak and that’s fine, but the title, the reason Dom picked the magazine up in the first place, literally claims that it will “Keep you Lean for Life”.

The magazine claims to provide information that will enable you to “strip fat, build bigger biceps, or carve out that elusive six pack” in “a matter of weeks”, this is incredibly misleading! Everyone is different and has different starting points, for an example, a healthy rate of fat loss is 0.5-1kg fat/week and this will require you to be in a daily caloric defecit of 500-1000kcal per day; so the time frame for healthy fat loss and achieving the “elusive six pack” is entirely determined on the individual’s starting point.

The individuals featured in the magazine all have different starting points, some look as though all they needed was different lighting and a “pump” for the before and after photos whereas some had genuinely impressive transformations, however their results are specific to them and there is also some small print at the very beginning which states that “each had an expert personal trainer for guidance and inspiration” but then they claim that “the sophisticated workouts and diet plans that worked so well for them are designed to work equally well for you”; we would argue that having expert guidance day in day out for the entirety of the programme is the biggest key to these transformations.

The models used for the exercise demonstrations are in incredible shape and this will be a result of years of training, good genetics and maybe even a few cheeky “supplements” in some cases. This is a problem with the fitness industry as a whole- and Men’s Health has been guilty of this for years- focusing on aesthetics and showing unattainable and potentially even unhealthy results. Initially these pictures are probably inspiring, it makes the reader think “wow, I could look like that with some hard work and eating right”, but what happens 3-6 months down the line when the person who tries these plans realises they are not going to achieve the buff, shredded physique shown in these pictures?

They may lose interest and give up, they may turn to those cheeky “supplements” and their long term health implications or they may even develop an eating disorder.
And then we come to the exercises and the real reason for this article. The exercise selection and planning is up to the individual and their coach, it is specific to the individual’s goals so we’re not going to be critical of that. However the photo demonstrations and even the models they use for the demonstrations are another matter.

There are a number of exercises here that are being performed with bad form, this should be unacceptable for a platform that calls itself “Men’s Health”; bad form when performing exercise will almost certainly lead to injury in the long term and that is the opposite of “health”!

We can assume that the key demographic for this magazine is out of shape men (or at least men who consider themselves to be out of shape) and one thing most out of shape men don’t do is go to the gym and lift weights regularly, so you would hope at the very minimum this “Bible” would provide is how to train with correct form, how having a good understanding of posture and how to create a good foundation of body weight strength before even thinking about weights.

At ProTom Fitness we believe in providing you with a platform for long term health. We will teach you how to move, how to perform essential body weight exercises and then how to lay foundational strength so you can use correct posture and technique when lifting weights. We aim to motivate you and inspire you to keep training; will will help you set realistic, achievable goals and we will keep pushing you towards achieving those goals.

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