Feb 7, 2015



By Josh Hunt

There is a difference between passionate belief and dogmatic hurtful myopic bullshit. I can think of dozens of examples, religion is one that springs to mind. Seeing as how this is a powerlifting website, and to be honest I have very complicated feelings about organized religion I will refrain from going down that alley too much. However some of these beliefs that hardcore religious types have are parallel to the beliefs that many athletes have, and frankly it is really sad. When one becomes entrenched in certain beliefs it becomes very difficult to change, modify, evolve, or even realize that there is an issue. In some cases when beliefs are so engrained they hinder who we are, and chip away at our potential of who we could be. This dogma can manifest in negative thoughts, misguided concepts and philosophies, ignorance, among other things.

I do my cardio in a commercial gym and you can see these dogmatic concepts embedded in so many peoples’ thought processes, actions, and templates. I was speaking to an older gentlemen who was quasi- getting into powerlifting about his template and he was telling me he had hit a plateau. When I asked him what kind of workout he was using guess what he told me……you know this one…’s pretty much what every high school coach teaches……ok give up? Its was the block, the 5×5 block. And, although this gentlemen had met me at a powerlifting clinic, knew that I was a competitive powerlifter, I am sponsored by this website, I research fitness and strength concepts on a regular basis, and I have access to plenty of other powerlifiters that know what the hell is going on, I could’t convince him that he should change his program. This 5×5 block has seeped its way into lifting culture and some how become a pillar of gym life even though most lifters that I know have had much more success with other programs. It is fascinating that this block has become so dogmatic that conventional lifters don’t even question it. Many believe that if they keep doing it and adding weight from week to week they will get stronger. If this was the case and I added one pound to my squat every week since high school I’d be squatting well over a 1,000 pounds with just a belt. Another example of this dogma is the “I’m going to shred down then bulk up (with just lean muscle)” phrase that a lot of “lifter dudes” (you know the type, the ones that wear lifting gloves and argue about the differences in protein synthesis between whey isolate and soy while wearing a Superman cutoff t-shirt) use this time of year. They are misguided because anyone that has put on muscle mass with any success knows that mass has to be put on (because fat comes with muscle for non-PED aided athletes on a higher calorie diet), then they can cut down. This doesn’t happen in reverse or in tandem (well for most normal humans this doesn’t). We are inundated with concept like: loose 30 pounds in 30 days, get washboard abs by using this, or increase your benchpress by 50 pound in four weeks. I think this propaganda that we see in our daily lives has created unrealistic expectations and a mantra of “this can be easy” or “this will be quick”. Which any true athlete knows you have to put in the work. This gym dogma effects pretty much everyone that walks into the weight room, fitness club, or athletic place from the first timer who has delusions of grandeur to the old veteran who refuses to warm up at all.

Another dogmatic athletic tenet that I have seen for as long as I have been competing (seriously as far back as my first year of a little kid playing AYSO soccer) and have had issues deal with is being “gassed” after every workout. Not to attack it too much, but you see it a lot in crossfit where it is expected for an athlete to vomit after a WOD (workout of the day) and hit failure after every attempt. We as humans are not designed for this. As athletes we tax our central nervous, skeletal, endocrine, muscular, and respiratory systems, why the hell would we continually put so much stress on ourselves so we cannot totally recover or enjoy what we do (well a masochist might)? It’s because there is this idea in sports that you have to leave it all out on the field, in the gym, on the court every time you lace up your boots. I still battle with this, if I finish up my workout for the day and don’t feel I did enough or am not as tired as I expected to be, I second guess myself. Sometime I will take an additional set that is uncalled for, or have to fight myself to leave the gym so I can do other things in my life. My football coaches pounded into my head that you pretty much have to pass out after every game, workout, and practice, which is silly because that idea is not sustainable or healthy. We need rest and relaxation, and most of us don’t get paid to compete so we have to enjoy it, and passing out is not an enjoyable experience. This hardcore go all out and kick ass every day thought processes is getting stronger and mutating more and more and infecting many people’s thought processes. When I was growing up it was a big deal if someone finished a marathon or medaled in a Kung Fu tournament. Now, I get the feeling that if you’re not an Ironman, people look down on you (just google Ironman and see how it has grown and grown and grown. In 1978 there were only 15 competitors1) or if you’re a bench press only guy some people don’t consider you a powerlifter. I see some of this bleeding over in the full powerlifting ranks where raw lifting is making a huge come back and some of these newer lifters I feel look down on geared lifters. This dynamic seems to be pushing to the extremes with competitions like the Spartan Race, the Badwater ultra-marathon in Death Valley, and to be a dick, some of the circus lift style federations that call themselves powerlifting competitions. At some point competitions becomes a freak show or straight up a dangerous environment.

I was listening to a fitness podcast the other day and the guest was explaining how his hunting program was the best for overall fitness. Then went on to say (and I am paraphrasing at best) that he had developed his workouts based on a mix of hunting and crosssfit (sorry, it’s not that I hate you, but I hate some of the attitudes of the athletes have I run into) and that it didn’t matter if you could run four minute mile if you weren’t strong. This is utter bunk to me. I would wager that any focused athlete that is competitive in say marathons doesn’t give two shits what their benchpress is if they can finish running 26.2 miles in under three hours. The same goes for powerlifters, although I should probably do more cardio, I don’t care if I ever run an 8 minute mile, especially if affects my total. It’s choosing to be a particular tool, one isn’t better than the other they’re just different. It’s like asking is a rife better than a shotgun? Well if you are defending you’re house a shot gun is better and if you are a sniper a rife is preferred. This dogmatic ‘I am the best at this mindset’ irks the hell out of me. As athletes I think we all need to step back and realize that one sport isn’t better than another, they are different. That being said it’s cool to have passion about what you are into, but when claims like ‘this is the ultimate sport ‘or I’ am the best overall athlete’ are made I am going to throw through the BS flag. I am better at lifting weights than other athletes because I like doing it and I choose to do it. Other people are better at basketball or skiing. That doesn’t make me a better athlete. When someone tells me they are the best athlete because they compete in triathlons, or crossfit, or mixed martial arts I call them out. They are good at what they do, and in some cases they choose to be jack of all trades and master of none. Which is cool, just know that whatever you choose doesn’t make it better than something else. It makes it different. These beliefs cause rifts between athletes and unneeded dick measuring competitions. In the end, anyone that competes has something in common and we should all do a better job of embracing them and cheering for them (I do realize the irony of my shit talking, however I can be hypocritical and I was trying to make a point).

As athletes, hell as people, we don’t have to be married to ideas so much we become narrow-minded jerks. However, on the other had we don’t have too be so all inclusive we become ineffective at what it is we are trying to do. Over the past two months I have been working really hard at opening up my aperture to new training, health, and fitness concepts. I am realizing there are things that I can learn form my friend who trains in Muay Thai or my boss who is an ultra-marathoner. I am trying not to dismiss concepts like rest and recovery that are integral to my well being. Many of us, including myself need to set down their template bibles, stop worshipping certain demigods, and open our eyes to see what can help us out. There are concepts that are deep rooted in all of our respective sports, and I would ask if they are actually doing us any good? Is it healthy for a powerlifter to not train cardio at all? Probably not because that would directly affect the ability to build work capacity. But, on the other side, too much cardio would deplete valuable energy and recovery that could be used to make them stronger. I would say anyone reading this should take a few seconds and think about their goals and how they are trying to achieve them. And, I mean really look. If there are concepts that you have incorporated into your training or live and don’t know how they got there or what purpose they serve they just might be dogmatic ideas that aren’t helping. Fundamentalism and archaic ideas are the enemy of progression, the most deadly are the ones that we don’t even realize are there. To quote one of my favorite movies Dogma: “I just think it’s better to have ideas. I mean, you can change an idea, changing a belief is trickier.”-Rufus played by the one and only Chris Rock. Go watch it if you haven’t seen it.

Just human error, lean in and weep.
Don’t weep. You made this. Now bask in it.
Ring it in. Brand New. Ice Age.
And I hope you can swim.- The Bled
1. 24JAN15


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