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
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    Debate in the gym; I need your help

    Okay, so I have switched to this gym for the month of July and I really love the place. I like the homey feel of it and the locker rooms...and everything. The catch is--depending on how you look at it--the trainers will talk to you if you are serious. I like this to a certain degree. But today I got in a disagrement with a trainer and didn't know how to argue back. He said something about having degres in science, anatomy...NASA? I'm not sure exactly, but it seemed he knew what he was doing. It started with me doing ATF squats. I do 3X8 at 155. (I'm 16, 155lb, 5' 11", 4 months hardcore training.) So he stops me after the first set and starts to lecture me about how I need to not do this and if I want to mess up my knees then I'm doing the right thing. I tell him about how I've been taught that full ROM is the best for any bodypart, and he says, "yeah yeah, but not to the point to damage it." He told me I had a good squat for my age and training ability and what not. (Although I might sound like I'm flaming him I'm not tring to. He seemed really nice and everything, it's just that we are in a disagreement.) We just kept talking and talking and I really didn't know what to say. He mentioned things like my ligiments being too weak. I asked him what about ATF squatting competitions and he responded with, "Well, some people do stupid things, but they probably have strong ligiments." He then said if I could do 3X30 then it would be safe for me to do ATF squats.

    This whole discussion brought on a lot of wondering/fear for me. My legs are my best asset so far. Also, without them I would hate my life. I've never had a problem with ATF squats in the past, but I'm wondering with my young age would it be more beneficial to wait to do them later on in life? I don't want to risk ****in' up myself. Also, it seemed that ATF was barley any farther than parallel at all, but that could have been because it was hard to see with my head glued to the ceiling.

    (Although, active trainers can be a good thing because right after my first set this dude comes up (some old curl jockey) and says, "I'm sick of seeing you high school punks in here without using belts! It makes me sick! USE IT!" The trainer came up and said "it's only for a false sense of security" loud enough for the other guy to hear.)

    * * *

    Also, when I did GM today I felt it more in the quads. Are quads a synergist for these?
    Last edited by PhilsterT; 07-13-2005 at 10:53 AM.

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  3. #2
    Back in business WBBIRL's Avatar
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    Tell him what you think, but dont make a scene.... plenty of guys squat heavy without a belt... belts are that insurance policy aginst your house. The chances of something going really wrong are slim, but if they do it will protect you in a sense. To that curl jokey, I would tell him that he makes me sick... thinking a belt is that much of a big thing. I will talk about methods and routines with other people and while some people feel it necessary to force and not suggest, most people wont do that. Do whats right for you, hardly anyone in the world will make the same gains using the same programs... were all different.

    As for squats, youd be crazy to stop them... although Ive been aginst ATF and only go to parallel. I wont tell you its because I fear for my health, its just Ive grown into good habits and a big number squatting to parallel. Stronger ligaments... he must have a degree in moronology.

  4. #3
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    Sounds like he doesn't know what he's talking about. Good form ATF squats are fine. Been doing them for 2 years and the only painful injury I have had is rotator cuff from a different exercise.

    Never used a belt either and my lower back and abs are rock solid from deads and squats.

    Zygote

  5. #4
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    Some sources would be helpful because I told him I wanted to continue the discussion the next time I went to the gym.

  6. #5
    Tony Gentilcore
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    Give him this article and tell him to shut the **** up.

    1. He needs to learn proper anatomy and biomechanics.
    2. Any movement can be "bad" if you're using horrible form (which you're not doing) and a load that you can't handle.
    3. Ligaments can play a role in overall knee health, but more often than not it's unbalanced training and inflexibilty that are the main cuprits. Weak glutes, weak posterior chain, ect.

    Fitness Mythology
    Challenge the Dogma
    By Marc McDougal
    First published at www.johnberardi.com, Jan 31 2003.





    Allow me to first ask you to let go of your ankles, stand up straight, and pull your pants up. Don’t worry; it’s not your fault. You may not have even realized that you have been “taking it” from the fitness industry for a long, long time. Why should you even be suspicious, the people that teach college courses about weight training do this for a living! The personal trainers at your gym are “certified” which equates to fitness omniscience, right? So how can anything be amiss in the weightlifting universe?

    My friends, amiss it is. And I’m here to expose some truths. But first, I must warn you. Much of the following information is contrary to popular opinion. So if you’re offended by anything that Oprah’s trainer doesn’t endorse - get out while you can, lest the waters of your fragile reality be stirred.

    Myth #1: The Knee Shall Never Cross The Line Of The Toe

    Every new trainer loves to spout this one off as a display of his or her biomechanical knowledge. They constantly scour the gym-goers movements on a noble quest to ensure patellar safety across the land. Unfortunately this unsubstantiated notion is perpetuated and accepted as fact in gyms everywhere. These are the same trainers that allow a gross deviation of the patella to the medial or lateral aspect during an exercise (the knee pointing a different direction than the foot), which actually is dangerous and degenerative.

    If one were to assess knee injuries in athletic (read as: sport) environments, it becomes apparent that a high percentage of patellar trauma cases are sustained while the knee is beyond the all-sacred toe-line. In a misguided attempt to avoid knee injuries, the exercise community has therefore made this knee position taboo. In reality, the opposite reaction would have been preferential. Since this knee position is unavoidable in sports, or even in everyday life (try walking up or down stairs or a hill without your knee crossing your toe line) the proper way to prevent injuries is to strengthen the musculature around the joint by allowing the knee to travel into the “unsafe” zone in a controlled environment.

    All joints contain feedback mechanisms inside the connective tissue and joint capsules called proprioceptors. These communicate with your nervous system to tell your brain what position your joint is at. This is how you can close your eyes and be aware of exactly what angle all of your joints are at without actually seeing them. To simplify a complicated issue, the more time you spend with your knee past your toe-line, the more you teach your nervous system to activate the protective soft tissue around the joint therefore PREVENTING injury during athletic situations (Supertraining, Siff & Verkoshansky, 1993). Close your eyes and think of a highly succesful strength coach. Yep, he agrees. Somehow, this news just doesn’t buy column space in Muscle and Fatness.

    So remember this - the “golden rule” that the knee should never cross the line of the toe during any type of lunging exercise should be buried in the ocean with the lost city of Atlantis. (Of course, if this position causes consistent pain, then you should avoid this particular variation of the exercise).

    Myth #2: Full Squats (below parallel) Are Bad For The Knees

    More squat myths?!?

    We’ve all heard it, if you dip below parallel during a squat, your kneecap will blow off and land in the front desk girl’s mocha latte. Well it just ain’t true! What’s that, you need a little more evidence? Ok boys and girls, its time for today’s episode of Fun With Musculoskeletal Anatomy.

    The knee has four main protective ligaments that keep the femur from displacing on the tibia (ACL, PCL, MCL, LCL). These four ligaments are most effective at their protection during full extension and full flexion. Full extension would be when you are standing; full flexion would be when there is no daylight between your hamstring and your calf. When the knee is at 90 degrees of flexion (the halfway point), these four ligaments are almost completely lax and cannot exert much if any of a protective force at the knee (Zatsiorsky V. Kinematics of human motion. 1998 - published by Human Kinetics - p.301).

    Unfortunately, the position where the protective ligaments of the knee are not doing any protecting is the common recommended stopping point of a squat. Therefore, as it as it turns out, this is the exact worst place you could reverse the motion under load.

    If flexibility allows (heels staying planted, torso not flexing forward past 45 degrees), then a full squat where you lower yourself all the way to the ground is far safer on the knees than the traditional half squat. Guess what joint angle most leg extension machines start at? If you said 90 degrees, give yourself a pat on your healthy knee. This makes a full squat even safer than a leg extension machine (Wilk K et al. A comparison of tibiofemoral joint forces and electromyographic activity during open and closed kinetic chain exercises. Am J Sports Med; 24(4):518-527).

    So am I telling you never to do parallel squats? No! Am I saying that you’ll injure yourself on a parallel squat? No, again! What I’m trying to do is simply make an argument for the safety of full squats, thereby relegating squat myth #2 to the fiery pits of hades.

    Myth #3: It Is Unsafe To Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Or Pick Your Nose Without A Lifting Belt

    It has been brought to my attention that certain companies require their employees with labor-intensive positions to wear back braces/lifting belts.

    When I run a company some day, whether we do labor intensive work or not, I plan to have my employees use standard issue bone files to grind away at each other’s spines.

    Am I a monster? Maybe. But I’m being facetious in order to make a point. The point is that two scenarios above are about equally beneficial to overall back health!

    You see, every man, woman and child on this planet has been given a lifting belt. That’s right; you arrived on this planet with one that was factory installed! It’s called a transversus abdominus or TVA. Unfortunately, most people haven’t used theirs since they were on the merry-go-round as a child. This muscle, the TVA, wraps all the way around your midsection like a corset, attaching to the thoracolumbar fascia, which then connects to your lumbar vertebrae or “lower back”. When contracted, it pulls at both sides of your spine creating something called hoop tension, which then sets off a waterfall effect of contracting the deep musculature of your torso. Once this has happened, your spine is rigid and fully protected, and your pelvic floor muscles contract, transferring stability to your lower body. Simply by contracting this muscle, you go from a noodle to a tank.

    Now, since our TVA likes its very important job, it takes great offense to our silly attempts at replacing it. Therefore when we put on some sort of brace or lifting belt, our TVA decides to relax, robbing us of stability and spinal rigidity. (This has to do with the relaxation of our abdominals). Therefore, not only is wearing a belt unecessary, it can cause your nervous system to chronically inhibit your built in protective musculature. This can lead to spinal degeneration!

    There, I said it! Wearing a belt can be worse for your back than not wearing one! So, if you take heed and decide that I may know a thing or two about back health, get rid of your belt. Or better yet, give it to one of your enemies. But do so gradually. If you’ve been wearing a belt for years, gradually taper yourself off of it, and get used to using your own muscles. Have someone knowledgeable teach you how to contract your TVA and you will be significantly better off.

    Myth #4: Pressing Movements Should Stop At 90 Degrees To Protect The Shoulders

    Ok, let’s talk upper body. This pressing myth is one is propagated by trainers at a certain health club that is gradually taking over the planet (hint, hint…they are open ALL day and ALL night).

    It all started when an article was written with good intention by exercise therapist Paul Chek entitled “Big Bench, Bad Shoulders”. Chek referred to stopping the bench press movement at an individual’s passive range of motion (as low as you can bring your arms without holding any weight) while rehabbing a shoulder, instead of lowering the bar all the way to the chest. Unfortunately, Chek’s excellent recommendations for the injured were misapplied to a healthy population.

    Somehow, this turned into “everybody should stop their bench press at a 90 degree shoulder angle, or the shoulders will be damaged and the chest muscles will shut off”.

    Now, say it with me: “That just ain’t true!”

    Once again, this little myth can actually do more harm than good. Here’s how: from personal experience with hundreds of clients and from statistical analysis, most people have some degree of internal rotation of the humerus along with protracted shoulders.

    Go ahead, check yourself. Stand sideways to a mirror; relax your arms down to your sides. Now check yourself. Do your palms face directly towards each other, or do they face behind you? This is an indication of the internal rotation of your humerus. Too much internal rotation (hands facing back) indicates that your internal rotators are either much stronger than your external rotators or it indicates that the internal rotators are tight (and potentially shortened in their resting position) and the external rotators are potentially stretched in their resting position.

    Also look at the position of your arms relative to your legs. Do your arms fall directly down the midline of your thigh, or in front of your leg? Can you see any of your upper back in the mirror? These tests are an indication of shoulder position (retraction or protraction). When standing relaxed, your arms should fall directly down the midline of the thigh and you should only be able to see your chest and shoulder, no upper back. The more of your back you can see, the worse off you are, you primate you.

    Getting back to the point of this passage, these postural conditions can be exacerbated by stopping your pressing movements short of full range. This occurs due to your body’s adaptive mechanism of shortening the fibers in accordance with the range of motion you contract them in.

    Take a look at powerlifters; their careers depend on their healthy shoulders. They lower the bar to their chest, sometimes even below the chest line using a cambered bar. A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning research listed powerlifting below badminton on injuries sustained per hours of participation. To make a long and complex story, if you have healthy shoulders and want to keep them, lower the bar all the way to your chest, slow and controlled. Most people would save their shoulders simply by adding in some external rotation work for the teres minor and infraspinatus instead of revamping their entire pressing program.

    Myth #5: You Shouldn't Train Abs Before Legs

    Didn’t know this one was a myth? Good! However, let’s discuss it anyway since I think this is an erroneous piece of fiction that my soon gain mythical status within the circle of infallibility known as the accredited personal training associations.

    Credit Strength Coach Ian King for being the first one to really shed light on this one being a fallacy. At first glance, the theory holds water; if your abdominals are fatigued then they won't be able to stabilize the body or the spine, therefore leaving yourself open to possible injury, or at the very least weakness, during leg training.

    But incorrectly assuming that the abs are one unit is the governing body behind this misnomer. The core of the body can be divided into two distinct groups of musculature; the outer unit, and the inner unit. The outer unit is made up of what you can see in the mirror, i.e. the rectus abdominus, external obliques, and spinal erectors. Traditional abdominal exercises such as curl-ups, knee raises etc. target the outer unit musculature almost exclusively.

    The inner unit is made up of the transversus abdominus, the multifidus, the diaphragm, and the pelvic floor muscles. Spinal stabilization is provided almost entirely by the inner unit musculature, therefore any ab exercises done before a leg workout will cause no significant impairment of form or function. One should, however, avoid excessive inner unit work to the point of fatigue before a workout for said reasons. Inner unit work would include any woodchop type exercise, forward or transverse ball-rolls, or most stability drills, etc.

    I'm sure some of you out there are saying "...but when I do abs before legs, I feel weaker, so now what do you have to say, you pickle kisser"? This very well could be the case, but that is due to your nervous system’s inability to preferentially activate your inner unit musculature during stabilization needs, and an over-reliance on using the outer unit muscles to perform this function. This is a problem that needs to be addressed!

    Referred to as "Sensory-Motor-Amnesia" (Chek, P. 1998, Scientific Core Conditioning. Correspondence Course. Paul Chek Seminars), this dysfunctional inner unit can come from heightened tension due to hypertonic muscles, from an overreliance on external apparatus (see myth #3), or from a series of musclular imbalances that can be determined through postural analysis and other soft tissue testing.

    In other words, get your core in order, dude! Learn to activate your inner unit musculature with control drills and exercises designed to hit those deep muscles. Then, when training outer unit musculature, you won’t be fatiguing your inner unit. In addition, you wont impair the function of the inner unit for stabilization purposes. Whether you choose to do abs before squatting or not, it’s important to recognize how the abdominal muscles are arranged and how to use the arrangement to your training advantage.

    In conclusion, if one thing can be taken away from this article, let it be to question advice. Blindly accepting the advice of “experts” can lead to mental atrophy and apathy. You become a slave to other people’s advice and never learn to think critically for yourself. Dig deep, do some research, and come to your own conclusions. Or just keep reading articles at johnberardi.com and let us do the work for you.

  7. #6
    Tony Gentilcore
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    Also, if you want to be really savvy. Give him this study which clearly shows going DEEP is NOT unhealthy for the knees.


    GJ Salem and CM Powers
    Patellofemoral joint kinetics during squatting in collegiate women athletes.

    Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon), June 1, 2001; 16(5): 424-30.

    OBJECTIVE: To characterize the biomechanics of the patellofemoral joint during squatting in collegiate women athletes. DESIGN: Repeated measures experimental design. BACKGROUND: Although squatting exercises are required components of most intercollegiate resistance-training programs and are commonly performed during rehabilitation, the effects of various squatting depths on patellofemoral joint stress have not been quantified. METHODS: Anthropometric data, three-dimensional knee kinematics, and ground reaction forces were used to calculate the knee extensor moment (inverse dynamics approach) in five intercollegiate female athletes during squatting exercise at three different depths (approximately 70 degrees, 90 degrees and 110 degrees of knee flexion). A biomechanical model of the patellofemoral joint was used to quantify the patellofemoral joint reaction force and patellofemoral joint stress during each trial. RESULTS: Peak knee extensor moment, patellofemoral joint reaction force and patellofemoral joint stress did not vary significantly between the three squatting trials. CONCLUSIONS: Squatting from 70 degrees to 110 degrees of knee flexion had little effect on patellofemoral joint kinetics. The relative constancy of the patellofemoral joint reaction force and joint stress appeared to be related to a consistent knee extensor moment produced across the three squatting depths. RELEVANCE: The results of this study do not support the premise that squatting to 110 degrees places greater stress on the patellofemoral joint than squatting to 70 degrees. These findings may have implications with respect to the safe design of athletic training regimens and rehabilitation programs.

  8. #7
    Tony Gentilcore
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    And if he STILL disagree's with you. Tell him to PM me. Or to visit this site in general. We will set him straight.


    If he is a good trainer, he will take this info and apply it to his clientel. If not, then he will continue to be an idiot...haha

  9. #8
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    He bothered me a few times; gave me this kind of reaction: "So, ya kid. I got a degree in (blah blah blah). But do what you what." Then he gave that kind of look like I'm ****in' myself over and he's right. I also didn't want to ask for a spot if he didn't even like what I was doing.

    * * *

    One thing I'm more confused about is that your knee shouldn't cross your toe line. This sounds good to me because it could potentially shift your weight too far foreward and make you lift your heels up. It wouldn't be bad to not go over your knees right? I see if more helpful to your form with your knees farther back by helping your back extend in a more natural line. What do others do?

    * * *

    I'm going to print these out and give them to him.

    * * *

    More discussion is appreciated. So far I printed out 4 documtes (2 from above) and highlighted them to be handed in in a few days. I would like to talk about this a tad more so I feel I have a better grasp on this so I sound more knowledgeable.
    Last edited by PhilsterT; 07-13-2005 at 12:19 AM.

  10. #9
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    I think its okay to go slightly past your knees if thats what feels natural. If you train progressively and use good form and momentum then your going to have developed connective tissue strength in that area and are going to be able to handle the load in that range because you've adapted to it.

    If your a newbie and/or add too much weight and go through the same range with bad form then your going to maybe have a problem.

    Zygote

  11. #10
    Senior Member smalls's Avatar
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    It sounds like your knees were going pretty far in front of your toes which could mean your form is off. Correct it and keep squating ATF. There is no reason the knee is not supposed to be used throughout it's full ROM. Tensioin is actually greater in the pateller tendon at 90 degrees so stopping and turning around there is going to be worse than a full ATF squat.
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  12. #11
    Tony Gentilcore
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    If your knees are going WAY over your toes, then yes.....I would say that you need to work on your form. Most people tend to break with their knees when squatting, which will often lead to "knees over toes".....but if you SIT BACK, then this should alleviate the problem.

    And it's not that the knees shouldn't go over the toes. Like the article said, athlete's have their knee's go over their toes all the time in an uncontrolled environment, crossing different planes of motion. So as long as you're in a controlled environment with a load that you can handle, I don't see anything to worry about if they cross your toe line somewhat. Key word....SOMEWHAT.


    And as far as him saying he has a degree is blah blah blah. That doesn't mean ****. If you take ANY nutrition course in school, that info is soooooooooooo outdated it's not even funny. The same can be said for most exercise physiology courses as well. A good trainer will keep up to date on his or her own and not be prone to believing archaic myths and dogma.

  13. #12
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    Some great info here. I've been doing parallel squats for the past month and have worked myself up decently. I've also read a few posts about ATF squats and really want to start doing these instead but my knees always pop when I try them. The text about the knee cap popping off and flying into the mocha latte at the front desk does come to mind, lol. Will my knees stop popping once i'm used to ATF squats or is there no hope for me? I haven't continued using ATF's because of the popping - too worried.

  14. #13
    C.S.C.S. ddegroff's Avatar
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    I would think with good form ATF squats would strengthen your tendons and legiments. Im in the process of becoming certified. I think this guy is taking his experince from the old fat people that arnt in shape and applying it to you. In that case hes way off, if you have good form and you dont have pain in the follwoing days after your leg work outs you should be fine.

  15. #14
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    The odd thing was my knees hurt so much more after doing parallel than full. Could it be that my body is used to full squats?

  16. #15
    Back in business WBBIRL's Avatar
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    No your just stoping in the Rom... what do you think would be more stress ful... curling with a full ROM or stopping 3/4 the way down and holding it for a second or two.

  17. #16
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    Ask him nicely to bring in some literature or copies of where he's getting his information from for you to read for yourself.

  18. #17
    Wannabebig Member bdckr's Avatar
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    Here's a good discussion from exrx.

    Contrary to propaganda to the contrary, prominent weight training authorities demonstrate the squat with the knees flexing forward at the same distance as the hips flex backwards. Fredrick Hatfield, Ph.D., the first man to squat over 800 lbs, recommends the knees to extend over the feet with the back more upright for quadriceps development. "Strength Training for Young Athletes" by Steven J. Fleck, PhD and William J. Kraemer, PhD, illustrate parallel squats with the knees extending beyond the feet (knees moving forward with same magnitude as hip moving backwards).
    I'd have to look it up, but I remember reading a biomechanical analysis that showed the shear forces in the knee stressing the ACL is greatest around the parallel position. So it can actually be more stressful for the knee to change directions at parallel. Below parallel, you're putting less stress on the ACL and more stress on the PCL, but the PCL is stronger and can handle a greater load.

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