Usually I save my rants for Friday’s, but I didn’t have time last week to get this one out.  Happy Monday…

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to spend my last two years at UMass Amherst, completing my graduate work.  While in Amherst, I’ve learned from some of the best, and interacted with several hundred students.  One area of education (notably for future professionals within the kinesiology field) that consistently disappoints me is the resistance training recommendations (actually-I don’t care much for the physical activity guidelines either, but I’ll leave that alone for today).

The recommendation goes something like: 8 exercises hitting all the major muscle groups in the body for 8-12 reps.  Nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they’re like that (as an aside: these stem from government-funded research, not from the brilliant faculty at UMass).  The rationale is simple: what’s the most basic recommendation we can make to a huge population of people.  I still don’t like it, but I understand why it’s so generic.  I’m much less okay with it being taught as a good recommendation to hundreds of students within the field of kinesiology.  Present the generic recommendations, because you have to, but then put a big asterisk next to them and go into more detail.

Saying you need to perform 8 exercises to target all the major muscle groups give most people the impression that they need to perform one exercise per muscle group.  Here’s the thing, your body doesn’t work in isolation, so neither should you.  The recommendation leads to the mind state of, “I’ll do something for my chest, for my back, my legs, my calves, my biceps, my triceps, my abs, then my lower back.”  

Great!  You’ve effectively found a way to spend a significantly longer time in the gym, getting worse results, training your body to function in a way it will never have to function.  I’ll let you in on a secret.  Better yet, I’ll challenge you.  Find me a major muscle group (or minor muscle group for that matter) that isn’t worked in a two exercise program utilizing the deadlift and push-up.

It’s time for people to stop subscribing to what I call the “Magic Muscle Theory.”  Simply, this is the idea that specific muscles just lie dormant, awaiting a specifically designed isolation exercise to strengthen them.  For example-Decline benching is great for the lower pec.  Lower pec!  I haven’t decline-benched in over 5 years, and, miraculously, my lower pectoralis major has found a way to survive.  The whole isolation mentality alludes me.

If you’re in anyway involved in the field of kinesiology (student, athletic coach, strength and conditioning coach, athletic trainer, physical therapist, etc.), you’ll do yourself and your clients the greatest service by learning how the body creates movement.  As a hint-it never happens because of the isolated contribution of one muscle. 

And another thing, high protein diets are good for you.  They result in greater fat loss and reduce your risk of Type II Diabetes.  There is absolutely NO evidence that high protein diets have a negative impact on kidney health in people with healthy kidneys (only on those that already have kidney damage/disease).  Contrarily, high amounts of poor quality carbohydrates are likely to rapidly decrease your quality of life and eventually kill you.  

That’s the end of my ranting for this week.  Enjoy your weekend.

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