The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

It’s no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    Senior Member Meat_Head's Avatar
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    We all do too many exercises!

    Weightlifting is really such a simple thing, its amazing how people can %$@& it up. Why is it that a routine is not considered 'good' until it has 5 exercises for every muscle group? I've heard every excuse in the book, and unless you are either very specialized with your training or you're nearing your genetic 'peak' they are all terrible excuses.

    What's even more confusing is that these days even beginners are figuring out that squats and deadlifts need to be included in their routines, and they include them, but its not simple enough to have a 'squat' day or a 'posterior-chain' day. Its still 'leg' day for them, and leg day means leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises, and all other manner of worthless time wasting movements.

    For anyone who hasn't reached a significant level of development(and it takes many years and thousands of hours of work), its as simple as this:

    Throw out your leg day. Throw out your 14 exercises for leg and core work.

    Squats are now your leg and core work. Deadlifts are now your leg and core work. Its as simple as that.

    Those 2 exercises cover most of the skeletal musculature in your body. Indeed, if you trained in nothing but squats and deadlifts for the rest of your life, you would be one big strong mofo.

    And I know what you're saying, "Yea yea squats are the king of all exercises and deadlifts are right behind, we know all that...".

    Well you're right, you SHOULD know it, and most likely you do. All I'm asking you to do is train that way. Don't worry about your hyperextensions and weighted crunches and leg extensions and all of that, worry about your goddamn SQUAT. Worry about the WEIGHT you are squatting, how deeply you are squatting with it, and how many reps you can bang off with it. You don't need to do ANYTHING else for your legs and I don't care if you're just starting or if you consider yourself an 'intermediate' level lifter. Just squat and increase the weight as often as possible. If all of your training is focused around that heavy squat workout(JUST SQUATS or JUST DEADLIFTS) and your diet and rest are in line, you will grow and you will get stronger and it will happen FAST!

    You aren't too good for squats. And don't give me any crap about 'Well I squat with a wide-stance and it works my hip-flexors but not my quads...', because I'll say BULL**** to that. You can't take your quads out of it, your whole lower body will take a beating from squats with any kind of form, assuming your depth and intensity are right.

    So there's my rant. Feel free to disagree, but its how I feel.
    Squat...Eat...Sleep...Grow...Repeat

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  3. #2
    Senior Member kmagnuss's Avatar
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    But if I squat I won't be able to do more curls in the rack.
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  4. #3
    Fade To Black crshbrn's Avatar
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    ^^^ Yeah, and what about concentration curls for my gunzzz and Bosu ball dumbell flys for my inner chest? Bet you didn't consider that with all your squat talk. Besides, that **** is hard. Heavy smith machine quarter squats are what the skinny guy in the gym said I should do to save my knees plus get all the benefits of full squats.
    Last edited by crshbrn; 05-10-2009 at 06:51 PM.

  5. #4
    Senior Member MNRob's Avatar
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    I buy the beer if you are ever in Rochester MN, well said sir!

  6. #5
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xMeat_Headx View Post
    Weightlifting is really such a simple thing, its amazing how people can %$@& it up. Why is it that a routine is not considered 'good' until it has 5 exercises for every muscle group? I've heard every excuse in the book, and unless you are either very specialized with your training or you're nearing your genetic 'peak' they are all terrible excuses.

    What's even more confusing is that these days even beginners are figuring out that squats and deadlifts need to be included in their routines, and they include them, but its not simple enough to have a 'squat' day or a 'posterior-chain' day. Its still 'leg' day for them, and leg day means leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises, and all other manner of worthless time wasting movements.

    For anyone who hasn't reached a significant level of development(and it takes many years and thousands of hours of work), its as simple as this:

    Throw out your leg day. Throw out your 14 exercises for leg and core work.

    Squats are now your leg and core work. Deadlifts are now your leg and core work. Its as simple as that.

    Those 2 exercises cover most of the skeletal musculature in your body. Indeed, if you trained in nothing but squats and deadlifts for the rest of your life, you would be one big strong mofo.

    And I know what you're saying, "Yea yea squats are the king of all exercises and deadlifts are right behind, we know all that...".

    Well you're right, you SHOULD know it, and most likely you do. All I'm asking you to do is train that way. Don't worry about your hyperextensions and weighted crunches and leg extensions and all of that, worry about your goddamn SQUAT. Worry about the WEIGHT you are squatting, how deeply you are squatting with it, and how many reps you can bang off with it. You don't need to do ANYTHING else for your legs and I don't care if you're just starting or if you consider yourself an 'intermediate' level lifter. Just squat and increase the weight as often as possible. If all of your training is focused around that heavy squat workout(JUST SQUATS or JUST DEADLIFTS) and your diet and rest are in line, you will grow and you will get stronger and it will happen FAST!

    You aren't too good for squats. And don't give me any crap about 'Well I squat with a wide-stance and it works my hip-flexors but not my quads...', because I'll say BULL**** to that. You can't take your quads out of it, your whole lower body will take a beating from squats with any kind of form, assuming your depth and intensity are right.

    So there's my rant. Feel free to disagree, but its how I feel.
    Great post man. I couldn't agree more. I think a all you need is a deadlift, a squat, a press and a pull (all variations thereof). You can do tons of manipulation with just that including westside, SS and anything in between that is a decent strength/size program.
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 05-10-2009 at 06:55 PM.
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  7. #6
    Senior Member bass slayer's Avatar
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    Are you saying that if you have other exercises than squats and deadlifts in your routine that your doing to much?
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  8. #7
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    i actually only do squats deadlifts, bench press and curls and rarely ill do some pullups or overhead press and im the same strength as wias last year so idk about that lol.

  9. #8
    Must...work...out... nockits's Avatar
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    Good post bro!

    Quote Originally Posted by bass slayer View Post
    Are you saying that if you have other exercises than squats and deadlifts in your routine that your doing to much?
    I think what Zen said covers it. The OP was trying to point out that endless isolation exercises are pointless, and the two most beneficial movements would be squats and deadlifts, in that order, and I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by rctriplefresh5 View Post
    i actually only do squats deadlifts, bench press and curls and rarely ill do some pullups or overhead press and im the same strength as wias last year so idk about that lol.
    Then you're doing something wrong. Eat more. Also, curls... but rarely pullups or overhead press? I think your routine needs some prioritizing.


    My top 4 movements that I'd like to see in any routine would have to be:

    1)Squats
    2)Deadlift
    3)Bench
    4)Chin-Ups (which ironically, I just started doing now...)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skalami View Post
    I just give the worked on muscle group tough riddles before my workouts... or sometimes I'll tell them we're going to the park and then go to the gym, or visa versa. They start to catch on so you have to tell the truth every so often.
    *While on the topic of muscle confusion, and how often a routine needs to be changed.*

  10. #9
    My own personal trainer dumbbell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nockits View Post
    Good post bro!



    I think what Zen said covers it. The OP was trying to point out that endless isolation exercises are pointless, and the two most beneficial movements would be squats and deadlifts, in that order, and I agree.



    Then you're doing something wrong. Eat more. Also, curls... but rarely pullups or overhead press? I think your routine needs some prioritizing.


    My top 4 movements that I'd like to see in any routine would have to be:

    1)Squats
    2)Deadlift
    3)Bench
    4)Chin-Ups (which ironically, I just started doing now...)
    Throw an overhead press in there and it's solid.

    I agree about Zen nailing it.

    Good and relevant, OP.
    Last edited by dumbbell; 05-10-2009 at 09:22 PM.
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  11. #10
    Push powerlifting heathj's Avatar
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    Unless you need to bring up a lagging bodypart, or work on correct muscle imbalances, or are not purely a powerlifter, the list goes on and on. Squats and deadlifts are great for powerlifting but only if you are perfectly balanced already. If I want to improve sport performance or increase conditioning I would choose a more variety of exercises, including power exercises and functional bodyweight movements. You are also forgetting about increasing mobility with many exercises that focus on using stability throughout the body by using little to no weight. I will agree that most assistance exercises individuals perform are worthless, but there are a ton of more useful exercises that I would still choose to perform to compliment my squat and deadlift. What if one muscle group overpowers the other during the squat or deadlift, would it not be correct to perform isolation exercises to help balance your body? What if you cannot load the spine? Then other forms of exercise are essential to correctly administer progressive overload. Open your mind to the world outside of pure "powerlifting".

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nockits View Post
    Good post bro!



    I think what Zen said covers it. The OP was trying to point out that endless isolation exercises are pointless, and the two most beneficial movements would be squats and deadlifts, in that order, and I agree.



    Then you're doing something wrong. Eat more. Also, curls... but rarely pullups or overhead press? I think your routine needs some prioritizing.


    My top 4 movements that I'd like to see in any routine would have to be:

    1)Squats
    2)Deadlift
    3)Bench
    4)Chin-Ups (which ironically, I just started doing now...)
    my routine is focused on the squat bench, and deadlift , iam also a curl monkey so i throw in curls as well. i enjoy doing overhead press so i do it sometimes as well. i also am going to start doing chinups with 45 pounds or so for a rep burnout set on pulling days. im pretty sure the reason my stregth has stalled is because ive reached the maximum neural recruitment at my bodyweight. so ive upped the calories to 3700 a day and upped the protein to 200 grams or so protein a day and we'll see where things go from there.
    Last edited by rctriplefresh5; 05-10-2009 at 09:38 PM.

  13. #12
    "Nice Guy" Davey's Avatar
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    I agree with your post HOWEVER...bodybuilding (notice I said BB not PL) is like sex. It feels great. My all time favorite exercise would have to be seated pulley rows. I can feel my whole back getting a great stretch and workout. Another one of my all time favorites is military presses and bent over barbell rows. I think I would go insane doing only squats and deadlifts. Deadlifts are the BEST exercises to do though, and that's a fact. Especially when you have like two feet of 45 plates on each side and people look at you like "WTF are you doing" while curling their ezbars with 40 pounds of weight in the preacher curl.

    This is a useless quote that means nothing but yet defines me as a profound intellect.

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  14. #13
    Senior Member Meat_Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heathj View Post
    Squats and deadlifts are great for powerlifting but only if you are perfectly balanced already.
    Heath I know that you know better, so don't take this personally, but squats and deadlifts ARE powerlifting. No one becomes a powerlifter by never squatting until all of their minor imbalances are 'perfectly balanced'. I understand why someone like Dave Tate would seek to analyze and treat even his most minor imbalances, but that's because he spent years developing raw strength and power in most if not all of his major muscle groups. Squats, deadlifts, and bench presses(and variations) were his means of doing so.

    Form and flexibility must be taken into of count though, and I see your point there. If you can't properly perform a squat or deadlift, even with a light weight, you have no business doing them heavy. All it takes to get to that level of comfort with the exercises is practice and hard work.

    If I want to improve sport performance or increase conditioning I would choose a more variety of exercises, including power exercises and functional bodyweight movements.
    Squats and deadlifts are utilized in such a wide variety of training programs for just that, increasing power output, even in bodyweight movements. Check out a track athlete or olympic lifter's off-season weightlifting routine sometime. The best will squat till the cows come home, some for hypertrophy, but ALL for strength and power.

    You are also forgetting about increasing mobility with many exercises that focus on using stability throughout the body by using little to no weight. I will agree that most assistance exercises individuals perform are worthless, but there are a ton of more useful exercises that I would still choose to perform to compliment my squat and deadlift. What if one muscle group overpowers the other during the squat or deadlift, would it not be correct to perform isolation exercises to help balance your body?
    Unfortunately we don't have the luxury of choosing our biomechanics.

    My point was that there is no point trying to 'emphasize' the quads or the hamstrings or the glutes or whatever else. You cannot perform a squat in good form without them all combining their effort in such precise ways. Your body squats the way it is meant to squat, in other words. If you seek to use an isolation exercise to 'bring up' a muscle group like that you are more likely to overdevelop it(relative to the other contributors in your squat) and throw off your coordination or otherwise create even further imbalances.

    I don't mind that my glutes take priority over quads in my workouts. Its how the human body works, and its why the glutes have 'evolved' into such a large and strong muscle. If my body doesn't utilize as much of a muscle for the most common and important movements I make, I simply don't need that muscle to be overdeveloped. CERTAINLY not PRIORITIZED!

    What if you cannot load the spine? Then other forms of exercise are essential to correctly administer progressive overload. Open your mind to the world outside of pure "powerlifting".
    Who has trouble loading the spine in a squat or deadlift? That is how the human body is made, you'd be an anatomical anomaly if you couldn't load your spine in a squat. How do you transfer power from your legs, the movers, to the bar, on your shoulders, if not by means of your spine?

    Increasing the weight on the bar in a squat or deadlifts IS progressive overload.

    I am not a powerlifter, and I'm not necessarily promoting powerlifting. I simply think anyone who wants to get bigger and stronger needs to be focusing their energy on squats and deadlifts, and variations, with few exceptions. Its the bang for your buck thing, that's all.
    Squat...Eat...Sleep...Grow...Repeat

  15. #14
    Risk10k Clifford Gillmore's Avatar
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    I think your wrong. People don't do nearly enough weighted core exercises. People should do more weighted core exercises.

  16. #15
    Senior Member Meat_Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risk10k View Post
    I think your wrong. People don't do nearly enough weighted core exercises. People should do more weighted core exercises.
    For all intensive purposes squats and deadlifts ARE weighted core exercises.

    There's nothing wrong with other exercises, I'm just saying that the core of all of it and the most important part is the heavy posterior chain exercise - squats and deadlifts.
    Last edited by Meat_Head; 05-10-2009 at 10:47 PM.
    Squat...Eat...Sleep...Grow...Repeat

  17. #16
    Risk10k Clifford Gillmore's Avatar
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    So I want to grow bigger quads, but front sqauts hurt my lower back because I have a muscular imbalance between my over powered hamstrings from all that heavy deadlifting. I shouldn't do any reverse hypers, band pull throughs, sot presses, figure 8's with a medicine ball?


    OK.

  18. #17
    Senior Member Meat_Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risk10k View Post
    So I want to grow bigger quads, but front sqauts hurt my lower back because I have a muscular imbalance between my over powered hamstrings from all that heavy deadlifting. I shouldn't do any reverse hypers, band pull throughs, sot presses, figure 8's with a medicine ball?


    OK.
    Over powered hamstrings?

    Man I wish I had that problem.

    If you are lifting for big quads, hypertrophy, why the hell would you do reverse hypers, band pull throughs, sot presses, and figure 8's? What will they do for the size of your quads?

    If front squats hurt your back because of 'over-powered hamstrings', back squats and deadlifts would definately hurt your back, right? I can tell you this much, you'll have a damn hard time developing quads without front squats, back squats, or deadlifts. I wouldn't tell someone like that to give up on the thought of huge thighs, but they would either have to address the lower back pain(source of the problem) and eventually start squatting again or take the long, difficult, and far less 'functional' route of getting big quads through leg presses, extensions, sissy squats, etc. Some of those exercises you mentioned can be useful for rehabilitating a back problem like that, but what I'm saying about squats and deadlifts is directed to the majority of gym goers who don't take squats as seriously as their preacher curls.

    Most gym goers are capable, with practice, of performing a good safe squat or deadlift. Those people have no excuse to not make them the backbone(no pun intended) of their weightlifting routines.
    Last edited by Meat_Head; 05-10-2009 at 11:21 PM.
    Squat...Eat...Sleep...Grow...Repeat

  19. #18
    Risk10k Clifford Gillmore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xMeat_Headx View Post
    If you are lifting for big quads, hypertrophy, why the hell would you do reverse hypers, band pull throughs, sot presses, and figure 8's? What will they do for the size of your quads?
    For spinal erectors.

  20. #19
    Push powerlifting heathj's Avatar
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    i agree that they are the best, but increasing mobility and flexibility through assistance exercises (hip/trunk rotation, pillar bridges, glute bridges, weighted crunches, 1-leg squats, lunges...) will help increase mobility/flexibility/strength/power in the squat and deadlift, therefore making the combination of all the MOST beneficial. Also with the spinal loading I was referring to people with any sort of spinal issue (scoliosis, lumbar problems).

  21. #20
    Senior Member Meat_Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risk10k View Post
    For spinal erectors.
    But the question wasn't whether or not they were good for spine erectors, the question was are they good for QUAD size. The answer is no.
    Squat...Eat...Sleep...Grow...Repeat

  22. #21
    Senior Member Meat_Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heathj View Post
    i agree that they are the best, but increasing mobility and flexibility through assistance exercises (hip/trunk rotation, pillar bridges, glute bridges, weighted crunches, 1-leg squats, lunges...) will help increase mobility/flexibility/strength/power in the squat and deadlift, therefore making the combination of all the MOST beneficial. Also with the spinal loading I was referring to people with any sort of spinal issue (scoliosis, lumbar problems).
    Then it sounds like we don't have much of a disagreement. I don't think any of those assistance exercises are bad at all, I'm only saying that you have to remember what their purpose is and what exactly they are assisting... heavy, full-body exercises like squats and deadlifts. Don't cut them out of your workout, just understand that the squats and deadlifts ARE the workout and the goal, the centerpiece.

    As for spinal loading, like I said if you cannot perform squats and deadlifts due to the load on the spine, or anything else, you will have a damned hard time developing significant hypertrophy in any lower body muscle. But most people can do squats and deadlifts in good form with practice. If you are one of those, they need to be the backbone of your workout.
    Squat...Eat...Sleep...Grow...Repeat

  23. #22
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    I don't see why anyone's arguing. If you have "issues", that's a different story, but the reality of most gym rats and their "routines" is they need to focus harder on less.

    Good to see you back Meathead.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  24. #23
    Senior Member brihead301's Avatar
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    Very good post. No one really does get this simple idea. Even if you are doing this specifically because you are trying to build a bodybuilder physique, the majority of all the muscle you build can be done with the main 5 or 6 compound exercises. People refuse to believe that just doing squats, deadlifts, bench, presses, rows, and chin-ups can build an amazing physique. They really feel the need to isolate the s*** out of everything.....and not just isolate, but do multiple isolation exercises for each muscle group.

    I see these guys at the gym on their "arm day" doing concentration curls, followed by barbell curls, followed by preacher curls, followed by machine curls, etc.....And it's very rare that these guys I speak of have a nearly impressive physique. The ONLY one of the "main 6" that I see them doing EVER is bench press....but then again that is on "Chest day" and it's followed by incline bench, followed by flies, followed by machine flyes, followed by pullovers, etc....

    It's funny, just the other day I decided to do a few sets of curls for the first time in 3 years. I felt my biceps were lagging slightly, so I decided to add 2 sets of heavy barbell curls to the end of my Wednesday workout (that's it!!). I was telling this one guy about how I haven't done curls in over three years, and he was like, "huh????? Why not????" As if I was a crazy man for neglecting the #1 most important bodybuilding exercise for all these years.

    Thank God for forums like this, or else I would be just as clueless as all these other guys that lift for years and get absolutely nowhere (which was me for about 6 years, until I learned how to actually lift).
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  25. #24
    Senior Member Virtron's Avatar
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    I agree with the power of the deadlift and the squat. What is your recommendation for sets and reps for both exercises?

    Personally, they're my two favorite exercises.
    When I die. I want to be frozen. And if they have to freeze me in pieces, so be it. I will wake up stronger than ever, because I will have used that time, to figure out exactly why I died. And what moves I could have used to defend myself better now that I know what hold he had me in.

  26. #25
    Wannabebig Member J Mac0123's Avatar
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    A++ i was just about to make a thread but ill say it here. I was STUCK and 158 pounds for the longest time. I had enough and figured i would listen to the experienced guys on here. I bought the book starting strength, started DL, squating, press, pull with weighted chins and dips for arms. Next step, i ate and lots. I have to force it down but i did er and guess what ? i grew !! im up 14 pounds to 172 and my strenght shot up like crazy. If that isnt proof enough for the disbelievers than i dunno what is.
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    **Currently away from the gym due to working up north, but still eating like a horse.**

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