Some of us turn to fitness to escape the mundane nature of everyday life. From the working world to school life, many of our tasks usually have designated structures to them, along with textbook definitions and steps that need to be strictly adhered to. However, fitness too tends to be guided by absolutes in today’s world. If you want to get stronger, you’re told to lift heavier weights. If you want to build work capacity, you’re told to do more reps or work longer. But if you think about it, fitness isn’t really about the 1s and 0s, because each workout programme needs to be tailored to the individual rather than serve as a blanket solution for different people with different needs.
According to world-class strength and conditioning coach Brett Bartholomew, it is important that each of us do away with the “notion of absolutism” that is particularly ubiquitous in the current fitness landscape. These constructs fail to account for the knotty and complicated needs of each individual, and tend to oversimplify the fitness process.
In fact, absolutes typically serve as quick and simple methods for trainers to differentiate themselves from others in the field, without needing to spend time honing their craft and delving deeper into the intricacies of fitness and health. By promising stellar results through “secret formulas”, these absolutes also dupe individuals into believing that there exist swift and easy methods to achieve their fitness goals in the shortest time possible.
The truth is that messages about patience and endurance, which are needed for sustainable lifestyle change, are rarely predicated on hard and fast absolutes. No one wants to hear that taking a magical supplement, or adopting a newly invented workout programme that claims to work wonders, won’t actually help with changes in physique and improvements in athleticism.
This calls for greater levels of shrewdness when it comes to buying into fitness marketing campaigns and adverts. We need to first recognise our predilections for absolutes and extremes, before we can subject them to greater scrutiny and even reject them entirely. Rather than blindly adhering to dogma, we should strive to open our minds to training techniques that may be less attractive than other absolutes, but more effective in their ability to develop our strength and fitness skills.
As always, the need to remain open-minded and coachable when it comes to learning about fitness still stands. It is easy to be deceived by glossy promises that claim phenomenal results, despite the fact that these effects are logically unattainable without putting in a lot more effort and hard work than what is called for. To prevent this, we must recognise and accept that there may be other fitness techniques available to help us better achieve our goals. Only by being receptive and humble can we continue to progress and grow, both as athletes and people.