MYTHS, 1/2 TRUTHS AND LIES (part 1)

I can’t help but feel the need to vent some frustration and give some honest cold hard facts about the whole fitness industry. While I am certainly not the first (and I am sure I won’t be the last) to be disgusted by the garbage being spewed and all the misinformation being given.

paul anderson silver dollar squat
Anderson squating $25,000 in silver dollars weighing 1200lbs

I can’t help but feel the need to vent some frustration and give some honest cold hard facts about the whole fitness industry.  While I am certainly not the first (and I am sure I won’t be the last) to be disgusted by the garbage being spewed and all the misinformation being given.  In my view it is getting worse and spreading to the population of athletes which are closest to me.

It is nothing new for a bunch of morons to spread false information about lifting and training, which goes back to the 1st athletes who started working out to improve their athletic performance.  From what I  have been seeing, it is now a very common thing for every ‘johnny come lately’ fitness expert to target  athletes.

This too is not a brand new trend. I guess it just never bothered me as much before  because I felt that the athletes who compete in the sports where you “need to train or you lose” could see through the crap.  You see it makes no difference  to me how ‘athletes’ in other activities train.  I know that 99.9% of them could never train on a real program requiring extreme effort.

I don’t mean to insult anybody but it is just how it is. Not everyone can be a wrestler.  Nor can everyone  stand the ‘crushing pressure’ of heavy squats,  and that is fine by me.  The problem for me is the ever increasing population of gurus spreading the newest,  latest and best way to train.  Let me go over a few that I have heard lately.

Wrestlers never need to lift heavy, they just need to lift their opponent, so  body weight is fine. Well, without  getting too technical, I guess their opponent is a sack of s*#t with no muscles of his own that you will need to fight against? Then there is the good old promise that one or two half hour sessions a week with the magic guru is all you need?(especially since it will cost you $$$)

Athletes don’t need to use strict form when lifting because they will not be in perfect position when in competition. Yes that is great, hitting the targeted muscles through a proper range while strengthening connective tissues and preventing injuries HA! I might ask  why do wrestlers spend all that time drilling technique anyway? Just go dive right in on a leg, head down body extended, it’s all good.

Lets not forget the one legged opposite hand dumbbell curls, and snatches,  kettle-bell  only training,  circuits on a machine, one weight giant compound sets, and oh yea don’t leave out hot yoga.  Yes, we have uncovered the secret. Matter of fact the last time I talked to Coach Brands at Iowa, that is exactly what he told me. The Hawkeyes have won 50 something straight because of their hot yoga training.

Maybe it’s the economy, or the ability to make a quick buck that has brought these experts into the athletic training field? I do have to say that it is amazing how fast they were able to change the laws of  physiology.  Most of them have never trained hard a day in their lives.  Neither  have they ever competed in any competition of any significance in their lives. But after taking a minimum  1 weekend course they can tell you how to train, amazing!

paul anderson race
Anderson racing Jim Lea, 440 yard world record holder

What is also really aggravating me is the amount of time I spend trying to explain proper training to coaches, parents and prospective athletes.  Please don’t take this the wrong way. I love nothing more than teaching athletes and talking about training.  It is the ones who ‘already have been taught’ that is the problem.

In other words, I find myself in a debate about the merits of proper training! Breaking all their bad lifting habits and techniques is more of a challenge than if they hadn’t done anything at all. When I tell them  that they have been lifting improperly, ineffectively and in an unsafe manner and we need to ‘start from the beginning, it doesn’t go over very well.

Some, it seems, get insulted or discouraged.  Maybe they feel burned that their coach/trainer or guru has basically wasted their time? To me it reminds me of the saying, “old habits are hard to kill.” You have an athlete or group of athletes going to the gym to ‘workout’ and it is nothing more than a social event with no hard work taking place.

Well,  it is a bit of a shock for most when they get into a real program and all the lifts take effort. They go from maybe having a conversation while doing some sissy weight seated one arm concentration curls, to breathing hard under heavy weight, muscles trembling while squatting.

So let’s take a look at the MYTHS here in part 1. From the beginning Athletes where told- NOT TO LIFT WEIGHTS!!!This today seems almost too stupid to be true but believe me it is. The athletes were told they would “Get muscle bound” become slow, lose flexibility, and it would HURT their performance.

Certain exercises were bad for you.  For example, you may still hear “Squatting is bad for your knees” which could not be further from the truth. Lifting will stunt your growth is another stupid statement that you may have heard. There are others, like  “he’s too little, he’s too old, he’s too frail and he’s too dumb.”

Well as in many cases if you do things wrong, the risks of getting hurt or injured increase.  Like most activities you need to be taught how to do it.  Then another very important element kicks in. That is the proper guidance through a good program. This is yet another area where the ‘gurus’ can’t help you because you cannot learn this from a text book or weekend course.

Please do not only take my word for it.  Let me here give you the words of  PAUL ANDERSON. He is considered to be the strongest man in recorded history. A fact which I don’t think anyone could debate after studying his lifting records? (some of them have not been attempted, more or less broken in 50 years)

Mr. Anderson received a  Scholarship to play football which would attest to him being at least a decent athlete coming out of high school. He was 240lbs. and could run a 11.5 100 yard dash.  As a freshman he wanted to better his performance  so he started weight training.

paul anderson 1956
Anderson winning the 1956 Olympic Gold Medal, the last American heavy weight to do so

He was told by his coaches  that “weight training was harmful to an athlete, and they would take away his scholarship if he continued this horrible thing.” Well I guess through the grace of God he saw through this stupidity and continued on. What becomes interesting is that he found that at a body weight of 330+ he was now much faster and could jump higher than before.  Does this help to shatter some of those myths?

Let’s look at what he had to say in his book WEIGHTS & SPORTS. “Through the years our coaches’ attitudes have progressed to a greater knowledge of weights in athletics. Unfortunately, along with the acceptance of weights there have been setbacks because of misinformation. Numbers of people have made themselves ‘experts’ and immediately started offering advice to our coaches concerning weight training for their athletes.”

Again, please read and fully understand what he wrote about this subject many years ago! It is miles worse now. They have programs, classes, online courses you name it, where you too can become an ‘expert’. I have first hand experience with some of these programs and trainers.  I can tell you that many people have been granted certifications to instruct others on working out;  With NO prior meaningful  experience that would  translate into helping to reach this distinction.

I will end part 1 here with these few comments. If you find yourself at the end of the season with a strong hunger to improve for next year, you owe it to yourself to seek out the best programs that will help you to reach your goals. Don’t be fooled and become a victim to one of these clowns who have nothing to offer.

Ask questions! Who will I be training with? What background does he have? Has he competed/coached  the sport or sports I compete in? For how long, on what level and with what success? On what program will I train? Where will I be training and how many days a week? What is the duration of the session as well as the program?  Is it cost effective?

This should give you a good start and I hope it will help all of you to make better choices when it comes to your career. As always I welcome questions, comments or a debate on anything I have written here or in my other articles. Part II will continue with the 1/2 truths that many use to justify their training and the lies. I believe many of the questions that are presented here will be answered!

11 thoughts on “MYTHS, 1/2 TRUTHS AND LIES (part 1)”

  1. Gee Mr. Ellinger,
    That was a lot of info and discussed many things that we should not do and many things that you believe are a waste of time. How about telling us what we should be doing.

    Thanks,

    S. Gardner

  2. As the webmaster pointed out, reading the articles on this site would be a good start. Part II of this article will go into greater detail also. If you are on LI you should make arrangements to get down to my gym and start training. If you do not live here on LI, I can still work with you via phone/internet and mail. Please feel free to contact me. Thanks, Coach Ellinger

  3. Mr. Ellinger,

    I have read quite a few of your articles from last year and have found them interesting. I have implemented a lifting plan during the season that includes high rep workouts with just a few very basic lifts that include Deadlifts, Bench presses, dumbell bench presses, squats, military presses and a big heavy bag filled with sand that our kids lift from the ground to shoulder height for reps. Thanks for the ideas on lifting.

  4. I would like to here how your team is doing since implementing the weight lifting? My guess is they are doing quite well.

  5. Hey coach once again another great article. I hope the wrestlers and the coaches around NY are reading these articles.esp around nassau who is falling off the map as they say ,and the main reason I see is the physical strength of the athletes.

  6. My articles are meant to be straight forward and cut threw the case. My hope is to help athletes, coaches and parents in making smart choices. I have received some good feedback about the articles. For example my old college coach who coaches high school now down in FL. He told me he prints them and hangs them on the walls. He had a former wrestler competing in the International Freestyle tournament that was held at Madison Square Garden several months ago. One of my former teammates uses my training ideas and his team went 30+ wins vs. 3 loses out in NV. As for Nassau, it is very frustrating to hear the excuses! All I can say is, “the gym is open” come down.

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