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
    if (! lifting) eat(); intargc's Avatar
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    "Nothing Fails Like Success" -- by Ellington Darden Ph.D

    "Nothing fails like success," I said to Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Because success only reinforces our myths and superstitions."

    "Hum, I never thought of it that way," Arnold said. "Tell me more."

    The date was in the late spring of 1977. Both Arnold and I were to speak that night at the grand opening of a Nautilus fitness center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Arnold had not yet made it big in the movies, but he had certainly reached the top in the bodybuilding world by winning consecutive Mr. Olympia titles from 1970-1975.

    In a ten-minute conversation on the subject with Arnold, I tried to clue him in on what I meant.

    "Just about the only thing we can learn from is failure," I continued. "But to do so, we must recognize what we are doing as a mistake. Then we must correct that mistake."

    In the same vein, Arthur Jones once told me, "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."

    It's unfortunate that we have to make mistakes to learn. But apparently we do. Success can often lead us on a path of self-destruction. We must constantly evaluate and reevaluate both our successes and failures.


    Bodybuilding Success

    Success in the bodybuilding world, I noted to Arnold, is usually related to genetics. Sure, you've got to train and you've got to eat correctly. But the best training and eating program still won't turn the local gym bum into Arnold Schwarzenegger. The only way to be Arnold is to have Arnold's parents – and even then there's a high probability that the person still won't grow up to look like Arnold.

    Genetics dictate your height, bone structure, muscle cell numbers, and fat storage spots. Most important, however, genetics determine the length of your muscle bellies. A long muscle guarantees that you will have above-average size in that muscle. A short muscle means that that muscle will be below average in size. Both extremely long and extremely short muscles are rare, at least having one or the other exclusively throughout your body is seldom seen.

    The Sergio Oliva physique from the early 1970s is the foremost example of someone who has very long muscle bellies all over his body. Arnold is similar to Sergio. Examples of men with very short muscle bellies might be Woody Allen and Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens.

    Most people, however, do not have long or short muscles. They have average-length to their muscle bellies. And average-length muscle bellies produce average-sized muscles – even after years of training.

    So, what I was saying to Arnold was that 99 percent of the champion bodybuilders are born, not made. If a person, who wants to be a bodybuilder, does not have the genetics to be a champion, then no amount of training – or anything else, for that matter – will ever make him a champion.


    HVT Versus HIT

    Arnold did not have time to grasp what I was trying to explain to him. Later, in his speech that night, he challenged the young bodybuilders in the audience who wanted to look like him to apply his training advice. His training advice was the same then as it is now, and is well documented in his four books, which have been published by Simon & Schuster.

    For best results in building your body, Arnold recommended the following:

    * Perform at least 20 sets for most body parts.

    * Do high-repetition sets for definition and low-repetition sets for mass.

    * Adhere to a split routine by concentrating on different parts of your body on different days.

    My advice to the audience that night was quite different from Arnold's, and I might add, I delivered it before Arnold spoke. For best bodybuilding results, I noted that you should:

    * Perform only one or two sets per body part.

    * Do 8 to 12 repetitions per set for most body parts. Definition is almost entirely related to following a diet to reduce the percentage of subcutaneous fat.

    * Train the whole body in each workout and rest the whole body the following day. Do not split the routine.

    *FLASH* ANNOUNCEMENT

    Arnold, and Other Bodybuilding Enthusiasts:
    If, in fact, it does take 24 hours of training per week,
    week after week, month after month, year after year, for a
    minimum of five years to become a champion – then, guess what?

    IT'S NOT WORTH IT!

    Arnold was a believer in high-volume, four-hours-per-day, six-days-per-week, marathon training (HVT). My bodybuilding philosophy was dissimilar: brief, high-intensity, 30-minute routines that are repeated only two or three times per week (HIT).

    Naturally, Arnold, with his impressive size, titles, and ability to work an audience, had the upper hand. "Who are you going to believe," Arnold said to the audience near the end of his speech, "him?" as he pointed my way and laughed, "or me?" as he flexed his Mr. Olympia arms in a double-biceps pose.


    "Looks" Over "Words"

    I was no match for Arnold that night and I knew it. Political researchers have known for years that most voters respond to how a candidate looks more than they do to what he says.

    Arnold, with his massively developed physique and high-peaked biceps, would be able to sway almost any group of exercise enthusiasts his way. And he did.

    Since then I've learned that trying to convince champion bodybuilders of their training failure is next to impossible. Remember: "Nothing fails like success." The champion bodybuilders are generally successful in spite of their training routines and dietary practices, not because of them. With their inherited advantages, almost any type of routine produces results.

    On the other hand, the average bodybuilder with average genetic potential (and that pertains to 70 percent of the trainees), requires all the sound, scientific information he can get to make even small gains. The average bodybuilder must profit from his past training failures. He must learn from his mistakes.


    Many High-Volume Trainees Are Failures

    Of the thousands and thousands of young bodybuilders who follow Arnold's recommendations, few get satisfactory results. In fact, most fail miserably. Many of them also rationalize by thinking, "If I could have only stayed motivated a little longer, maybe I could have built a body like Arnold's." But it's hard to stay motivated with workouts that must be practiced for four hours a day, six days a week – isn't it?

    No, Arnold doesn't tell you about the youngsters who fail dismally with his courses. And neither will you read about it in the popular muscle magazines. But thousands do on a regular basis.

    Surprisingly, Schwarzenegger spent a week in late 1970 with Arthur Jones trying HIT. Contrary to what Jones said about the visit (see chapter 6 in The New HIT), Arnold came close to getting a handle on hard, brief exercise. If he would have stayed a bit longer, and avoided Joe Weider and his influence, perhaps he would have converted to HIT. Even now, it's not too late for him to reconsider.


    New Respect for Schwarzenegger

    Being one of the 100 members of the National Fitness Leaders Association, which was an arm of the President's Council of Physical Fitness and Sports, I was shocked in 1990 (as were most members) when the first President Bush appointed Arnold to be the Council's director. We were even more shocked when he united and motivated the entire group to move forward aggressively. Arnold not only talked a good game, but he led by example.

    Arnold directed the President's Council for two years and accomplished more in those two years than all the other directors had achieved combined. As a result, I gained a new respect for him. I can now see why Schwarzenegger, in a special election held in 2003, was elected governor of California.

    With his political power and his continued interest in physical fitness, bodybuilding, and strength training, I wish he would take the time to learn from both his successes and failures. Then, maybe then, he would fully appreciate and grasp the effectiveness and efficiency of HIT.


    An Open Message to Arnold Schwarzenegger!

    Twenty sets per body part and 24 hours of training time per week . . . are not realistic guidelines for bodybuilders to follow. Even one-fourth of those numbers are still too much.

    Many people today would surely be more involved in strength training and bodybuilding . . . if Arnold Schwarzenegger took a more reasonable approach.

    As the governor of California, with your extremely busy schedule, there's no way high-volume training could work in your day-to-day lifestyle. Come on Arnold, why don't you re-evaluate your training principles?

    You owe it to yourself. You owe it to the people who look up to you. You owe it to all those youngsters who need to get involved in bodybuilding.

    Arnold: Give HIT another try.

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  3. #2
    Hardcore
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    If you want to read more about Ellington Darden check out his website. drdarden.com. I go online there on a daily basis. Some of the written journals on there are freaking awesome. Ellington is one of the most respected people in the strength training scheme of things, and a lot of people could learn a lot by reading his books.
    "I workout to music that makes me want to stomp on baby kittens." -David "Kick Ass" Davis

    "The intended manipulation of mechanical work applied in order to stimulate a specific metabolic response."
    -Dr. Ben Bocchocchio on the Definition of Exercise

  4. #3
    if (! lifting) eat(); intargc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Real TO
    If you want to read more about Ellington Darden check out his website. drdarden.com. I go online there on a daily basis. Some of the written journals on there are freaking awesome. Ellington is one of the most respected people in the strength training scheme of things, and a lot of people could learn a lot by reading his books.
    :withstupi

  5. #4
    Not Done Yet ShockBoxer's Avatar
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    It doesn't help that a lot of lifters train for others, not themselves. The public expects that a person who trains four hours a day six days a week will look like Schwartzenegger. As long as you're training for others and what they think you will never be happy with what you've accomplished.
    The Reconstruction Project (Journal)

    Age: 34, Height: 5'4, Weight: 185, BF: somewhere between 15 and 45%

    Weightlifting Start Date: July 26, 2005 - Bench 95 x 6, Dead 110 x 8, Smith Squat 180 x 8
    Bests: Bench 185 x 8, Dead 400 x 1, Zercher Squat 295 x 3


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  6. #5
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    yeah, I definitely believe in that. Look at David Henry who has made crazy gains by lowering volume and increasing frequency. I have to agree that many ifbb pros are gifted in the genetic department, and train instinctively. I wonder how much more size these guys could gain if they trained with lower volume and higher frequency. This is of course a blanket statement, but it is something to think about

  7. #6
    Formerly Nick Hatfield SW's Avatar
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    I agree with the train instinctively statement.
    "You can take control of my mind and my body, but there is one thing a Saiyan always keeps.... his PRIDE!"- Vegeta

    My Exploits

  8. #7
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Geez. One look at the author and I knew it was HIT propaganda... Don't get me wrong, I think HIT is fine (sometimes), but the HEAVY DUTY crowd is the WORST when it comes to being dogmatic about their training methods...
    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
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  9. #8
    HS Football D Breyer's Avatar
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    good read, thanks
    6'1 - 195
    Crossfit Total: Press: 135 - Squat: 315 - Deadlift: 365
    Competition Lifts: Clean: 205 - Bench: 205

  10. #9
    if (! lifting) eat(); intargc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei
    Geez. One look at the author and I knew it was HIT propaganda... Don't get me wrong, I think HIT is fine (sometimes), but the HEAVY DUTY crowd is the WORST when it comes to being dogmatic about their training methods...
    Ell Darden and Arthur Jones ARE HIT. HIT Wouldn't exist if it wasn't for them. Of course he's pushing it. He truly believes in it.

  11. #10
    Senior Member khari's Avatar
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    Jesus, what happened to moderation? 20+ hours of weekly training is bad for beginners, so one or two sets to failure is obviously the answer!

  12. #11
    Bodybuilding Mythbuster
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabrielle
    I wonder how much more size these guys could gain if they trained with lower volume and higher frequency.
    Very likely not much more. It is their use of steroids which have made them freakishly big. Training whether it be volume or HIT will only take you so far. Dorian Yates' training style while not HIT was fairly close to it, and Ronnie Coleman who does more volume is bigger than him. I would say that most IBBF pros are pretty much maxed out in terms of size.

  13. #12
    Iced Earth - Stormrider ArchAngel777's Avatar
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    That is pretty pathetic if someone believes they can only learn from their mistakes. Try learning from other peoples mistakes! It makes the consequences much less devastating. Who would have thought?

  14. #13
    Senior Member smalls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei
    Geez. One look at the author and I knew it was HIT propaganda... Don't get me wrong, I think HIT is fine (sometimes), but the HEAVY DUTY crowd is the WORST when it comes to being dogmatic about their training methods...
    Agreed. Our way or the highway. Most HIT articles are hard to freakin get through.


    Quote Originally Posted by intargc
    Ell Darden and Arthur Jones ARE HIT. HIT Wouldn't exist if it wasn't for them. Of course he's pushing it. He truly believes in it.

    LOL, High intensity training with very low volume would most certainly be around just like it always has been (long before it got a catch phrase). Nothing about building the body is that new that one or two people can get credit for "inventing" it. They popularized a set of principles.
    Diet is key, the calorie is king

    "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
    --Abraham Lincoln

    "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
    Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination
    alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
    Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
    30th U.S. President

    "If you want to look abnormal you have to eat abnormal,lol."--ST

  15. #14
    if (! lifting) eat(); intargc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchAngel777
    That is pretty pathetic if someone believes they can only learn from their mistakes. Try learning from other peoples mistakes! It makes the consequences much less devastating. Who would have thought?
    I think you missed the point entirely... Quit trying to pick the article apart.

  16. #15
    if (! lifting) eat(); intargc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smalls
    LOL, High intensity training with very low volume would most certainly be around just like it always has been (long before it got a catch phrase). Nothing about building the body is that new that one or two people can get credit for "inventing" it. They popularized a set of principles.
    Did I ever say the word invent? No.

    Read the history of Arthur Jones and Ell Darden. They were the only ones promoting HIT at that time. They were the ones running around telling everyone it was what you should do. Read Arthur's Old Natilus Bulletins. He was talking about HIT BEFORE bodybuilding really even hit it big in the 70's even... Everyone was following the massive volume routine's that Arnold and other guys did while they were talking about HIT. You may think that what you say is true, but Jones and Darden picked up those principals and brought them to the world with scientific and physical proof that they work while everyone else was looking at men with amazing genetics and steroid use and saying "Ok, so to look like him I have to do 80 sets per body part. Check!"

    It's highly debatable whether HIT would be as successful or even be on the mouth's of bodybuilders if it weren't for them bringing it into the public's eye during bodybuildings big explosion. Sure the principals would exist, but would people use them and believe in their use? Probably not.

    I suggest you read a bit on both of these guys. It's very interesting stuff.

  17. #16
    Senior Member smalls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by intargc
    but Jones and Darden picked up those principals and brought them to the world with scientific and physical proof that they work


    It's highly debatable whether HIT would be as successful or even be on the mouth's of bodybuilders if it weren't for them bringing it into the public's eye during bodybuildings big explosion. Sure the principals would exist, but would people use them and believe in their use? Probably not.

    I suggest you read a bit on both of these guys. It's very interesting stuff.

    You obviously didnt understand my post. First of all, there is STILL no body of scientific work proving HIT, there are a few poorly done studies talking about how low volume work can still induce hypertrophy and strength gains. Jones was notorious for using anacdotal evidence.

    Second. You continue to talk about how EVERYONE was using high volume routines yada yada. I'm not talking about just the pro's here and the people in the limelight. Average gymgoers have used high intensity low volume routines since the first person adapted to an imposed demand.

    Yes, they beleived in it, wrote about it and made money about it. But if you think people wouldnt be using those basic principles without their horribly one sided articles then there is not much else I can say.
    Diet is key, the calorie is king

    "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
    --Abraham Lincoln

    "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
    Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination
    alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
    Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
    30th U.S. President

    "If you want to look abnormal you have to eat abnormal,lol."--ST

  18. #17
    Iced Earth - Stormrider ArchAngel777's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by intargc
    I think you missed the point entirely... Quit trying to pick the article apart.
    I didn't miss the point of the article at all... I just commented on something I strongly dissagreed with. As far as the information? I hate to say this and I am sure others will come down on me, but we know very little of the body. Proof of this is that theories are always changing as we figure out more of the body. We learn more, then we have more questions and we continue to study and then make dogmatic statements on something that is proven wrong a year or two down the road. You know?

    Honestly, simply lifting the weights is the best method I know to increase muscle. Lifting weights and eating more... Whether you do high volume, low volume, who the heck cares if it works? Do people actually believe that Arnold or Dorian would have been 25% larger if they actually did HIT? I doubt it.

    Just like HIIT versus endurance training (though my personal opinion has been changed to HIIT from some of Anthony's sources). The studies are not complete and with only 17 subjects in a study, that leaves the margin for error large, very large. Not to mention, who knows what their diet was like? You cannot keep people locked up in cages to do your study... Therefore, when these people get done with their testing, who knows if they are stuffing their face at night, thus skewing the results?

    In addition, what if HIT people just eat cleaner and more than those in the study with high volume? That could also change it. The body and variables are far, far to advanced to really have any conclusive evidence to suggest that one is better than the other.
    Last edited by ArchAngel777; 02-25-2006 at 04:25 PM.

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