Giving advice in the gym or the Knight of infinite resignation

When it comes to training in the gym after a long enough time you see a lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of let’s call it “free style weightlifting”. If someone has walked in a gym they have at least taken one positive step forward to improve their health, physique, self-esteem, etc. This, however, doesn’t mean that is what is going to happen. A lot of people will make decisions with their own programming that in reality is getting them nowhere, or at worst is going to get them hurt.

You can walk in to any large gym and typically in the cardio section (which is not that great of a bang for your buck choice, but I’ll get to that another time) and see people walking slowly to nowhere while drinking Gatorade. Let’s do some math on this. If that person is going to walk on the treadmill for thirty minutes at three miles an hour that comes out to walking 1.5 miles. Now we will say that person weighs 200lbs. because this is America. So that person will have burned approximately somewhere between 200 and 250 calories. Not bad, but if they did this while drinking a 20 oz. Gatorade (because you gotta get G and stuff) that person has consumed 130 calories, so overall we are talking now about a total deficit of 70-120 calories. If they drink two Gatorades while walking (or something higher calorie, because muscles need their milk and stuff right?) they have effectively gotten fatter while in the gym.


So back to minding your own business training. You see these types of mistakes being made, you see the people who complain about how squats hurt their knees (because the way they squat (technique) hurts your knees just watching them). You see a lot, and if you aren’t an apathetic douche bag you probably want to help them. This is where things take a turn for the worse. Unsolicited solid advice is usually taken as well as the dietary advice of “eat more vegetables”. Not too hard to look around in the produce section and see that they never seem to sell out…

If you are a guy giving this advice to a girl, congratulations you have probably creeped her out some. If you are a girl that has given this advice to a guy, congratulations you have insulted their (juvenile) masculinity. If you are talking to the same sex, now it is safe to say that they might listen and by might listen I give you a little lower odds than 50/50 on them taking it to heart and it working. Obviously none of this is written in stone, but I’m confident in the general trends here. So let’s just say as an investor of time and energy giving advice is out.

What about the other side? What about people asking you for advice? Now this is where we get to use the construct from the great Danish existentialist Soren Kierkegaard with his knight of infinite resignation. Where no matter what you do you can’t seem to full explain your position of what you do. You will often feel like you are talking to a wall. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the gym and someone asked me how I got to be built like how I am today (trust me I’m not that big). I used to give solid advice on squatting, deadlifting, and then some upper body work and that is how you get there. They ask me about how to get big traps and I tell them to deadlift over 500 pounds and your body has no choice. Maybe even break down some basic programming as to how you can make that happen and then they nod at you and go back to single leg bosu ball split squats with a medball.

It is a sad reality that any person with a modicum of physical ability or aesthetics will be asked how they attained it. Either through genetics, hard work, or a combination of the two, it is a safe bet that a person asking you about it is doing this more for entertainment or interpersonal interactions than real knowledge gain. This used to get my hopes up that I was going to be able to pass on strength to other people. I was going to be able to help them get better, but now I realize it just doesn’t work like that. So now I just to them: “it’s genetics and my mom is built the same as me”. It gets a laugh and I go back to my training.

On occasion someone will ask you those questions and do it more than once. That rare, but uplifting person will take your advice to heart. That is the person that makes all of my previous cynical complaints worth it. Be on the lookout for that person. You never know when they might show up.


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