I know exactly what it's like to yearn for better performance so acutely that you'd pay anything for another gizmo that will make you just seconds quicker over 140.6 miles. Didn't know carbon fiber was addictive? You do now. No, this creature is to be pitied, not spurned. The evil-doer is the guy who's making the stuff that he's buying and marketing it to him with claims that are, if not extremely spurious, flat out lies.
Weightlifting belt? Sure. Very few companies oversell these since most, like the athletes who wear them, don't actually know what they do or what they're for. Let's get onto the juicy bits.
Instantaneous blood pressures due to heavy load lifting are insanely, aneurism promisingly, high. 30mm Hg at your ankles isn't going to make a hill of beans difference if the veins in your abs are bulging out with return flow blood pressure. Bottom line, they help with recovery, maybe with endurance running and cycling and not with most weightlifting type workouts except to keep your legs a tad warmer. Now go find a pair being advertized and look at the promises of glory. They're quite spectacular. Even 2XU (pronounced "two times you" not "too ekks ewe") make audacious claims culminating in the presentation of a hyperlink labelled "Proof" which upon selection, of course, contains no such thing.
But hey...we all know this isn't really what we're here to moan about. What about our man from the top of the page trying to pull off the world's worst Bane impersonation?
This has to be the most serious bag of bollocks ever to be presented as a useful exercise tool since the shake weight.
Here's how the offence is perpetrated:
1) Start with a fact that everyone knows is bullet proof like "Training at altitude is great for your cardio-respiratory endurance".
2) Introduce the idea that training at altitude is hard because there's less oxygen.
3) Extend the proposition - "If there's less oxygen then it's harder to breathe."
4) The Prestige - "We have invented a thingy which makes it harder to breathe."
5) Add "value" to the proposition to create the illusion of a genuine value proposition - "Now you don't need any mountains because we made it harder to breathe, like on mountains, but without them using this device".
Awesome. Well done boys. You've stretched science and your reputation beyond hope of repair. Although your patent (yes, they bothered. Not sure why) is circumventable. Here are my offerings:
What is particularly obnoxious about fitness marketing is that it lies. It warps the truth in a way that the not-so- well-informed will miss while sounding like it ought to be true.
Take my old friend the FitBit, for example. The FitBit basically promises to count the calories that you are expending during the day. It uses an accelerometer to determine movement. Those movements require energy. The energy expended can be cumulatively totaled and behold, there's your daily energy expenditure. Sounds legit, right? Except it isn't. The whole premise is flawed.
Energy output is so difficult to determine in animals that we can't even do it in a lab. We can estimate Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) fairly well but any time a movement is made there are components of internal energy change, thermal output and chemical conversion as well as the mechanical effort. In fact, if you're a high school physicist you'd swear that a man running on level ice with no speed change is using no energy in theory. Clearly, this isn't correct in reality. Unfortunately for FitBit, neither is use of hand position as a correlate for energy used. It looks like it could get you headed in the right direction but how accurate is it. Well, we don't know. We can't do it in the lab to perform a control. We can't even do a macro study to say that over a 7 day period given the food input and his final weight that his output must be X. The reason for this is the modulating action of insulin. We don't know where that weight came from and not all weight in humans is worth the same energy.
Given that this is the case and that instruments are rated on accuracy (how close to the real value), precision (how many decimal places does the reading allow resolution of), repeatability (likelihood of two consecutive readings of the same real number giving the same reading) and reproducibility (ability to reproduce the reading when subjected to a different operator) I have already patented my offering. It is at least as accurate and far more precise, repeatable and reproducible than a FitBit could ever be. Here it is:
It has perfect repeatability and reproducibility and given it's precision to single calories and an accuracy which, on average, will be far better than a fit bit could ever be. It doesn't, however, satisfy the primary purpose of a FitBit which is to remove $150 plus from your pocket book.
Be a little more discerning when scouring the interwebs for expensive stocking fillers that hint to your partner that you're a little concerned about their body composition this Christmas. Buy them a gym membership. Don't buy them "a fitness wearable". They don't work, they're expensive, they're destined for the junk drawer and they tell your partner that you're a moron. They may already suspect this. Don't demonstrate it beyond reasonable doubt.
Big Soda & Big Food started the current nutritional misinformation mess with their bastardization of the first law of thermodynamics. "It's just calories in versus calories out! That's the big secret! Work out more and you'll burn off all the extra calories". Really?
There are 2 things written in this statement.
1) work out out more and you'll burn off all the extra calories.
2) Calories in versus calories out which is a statement that energy is neither created nor destroyed and is governed by the first law of thermodynamics.
Both statements taken in isolation sound like the most sense you'll hear all day during the season of presidential debates. Doing more requires more and yields aesthetically favorable results governed by The First Law of Thermodynamics! Perfect sense.
The problem is that, as a marketing statement based on deliberate disinformation, this is pure genius. I have to grudgingly give it my utmost respect. It sounds true. It looks true. It's beautiful in its simplicity and elegance. It hints at your prior human experience. It invokes scientific thoughts. It has intrinsic mathematics associated with it (Energy in - Energy Out = change in system energy). Any idiot can understand it.
Here's how they getcha though.
The self-same idiot who found it easy to understand can easily misunderstand it too, or rather, they can fail to understand the false premise, application and assumptions that this statement relies on. All too often, just like an avid Trump or Clinton supporter, all it takes is constant repetition of a lie to make it seem like that lie is actually a fact. We can check these things for validity though, provided we keep an open mind and are committed to finding the real answer rather than a convenient truth. So armed with that thought, let's see if all Mexicans are rapists and murderers who'll pay to build their own wall.
I've often been complimented on my wood. Here it is.
This is all the wood I have. I can harvest more but for right now this is what I got.
This is my cabin in the woods. Wood is plentifully available which is why I live here. After all, if I want to stay warm this winter I'm going to need that fuel (Energy in) to keep my pinkies toasty.
Every day I consume resources (wood) and burn them for energy. The amount of chemical energy in the wood is released as thermal energy (heat) as a result of combustion and my stinky digits remain at a soothing temperature.
That's right...it's just energy in versus energy out. If I need more heat then I simply burn more wood and my log pile (think chubby-belliedness) reduces in size. Simple. Jillian Michaels is off to Princeton to claim her honorary laureate in theoretical physics and obesity is cured. Not quite.
Now, I personally know that this isn't the whole story. The reason I know is that my Grandma used to task me with cleaning last night's fire to prepare for today's. The fire didn't burn the wood and coal (Pure luxury. We were in Yorkshire after all) completely. What was left was ash. Ash, like fiber in the digestive tract, cannot be consumed completely. It just passes right though the process. So here, some of the calories in do not convert to calories out in terms of energy. This is a minor point compared to the next one though.
Imagine your favorite game is "try to kill a mouse with a chainsaw". As you play, the mouse, evading (as is his want) causes you to destroy several tables, chairs and doors. These items must be replaced as they have been converted to sawdust. As a result of your remanufacturing the new amenities, you have consumed a considerable portion of your woodpile and yet no heat has been generated. Calories in but no calories out. This is analogous to your regeneration of tissues within the body. Your skin on it's own requires complete regeneration every 90 to 120 days and is the biggest organ in your body. This requires protein input i.e. calories in but very specific calories. Fat and carbohydrate will not suffice and there are no calories out in terms of movement or exercise.
At this point I'm guessing that you see how not only how the calories in versus calories out idea is incorrect but also that the type of calories in makes a difference. If you believe that calories in = calories out then watch a guy eat 50 calories of fat, another 50 calories of sugar, another 50 calories of alcohol, another 50 calories of heroin and lastly 1 calorie of LSD and see if they start exercising the same way. Pretty obvious when you put it that way, huh?
Science can be pretty simple. One of the simplicities, which is universally applicable, is that any hypothesis must match the observed characteristics if it stands a chance of being correct. Calories in versus calories out doesn't do this. If it were true then babies would not grow. If you fed them they would react by being fast for a while until those calories were expended or converted and then they would shut up and lie still. That they grow shows that fewer calories are expended in output than are ingested.
Other examples of observations not matching this hypothesis:
Do you feel like I've debunked? By now, you should be feeling an overwhelming sense of debunking. So if it isn't calories in versus calories out then what is it? Well, we've know the answer to this for about 200 years and it's been published in medical journals of endocrinology since the 1960s in very formalized and emphatic language.
There is only one thing responsible for turning food into fat in the human body and that one thing is insulin. Every other hormone has a tendency to promote energy availability from fat with the exception of insulin which stores fat. It is the one thing. The only thing and manipulating your body's insulin response to food is the key to controlling body fat in every case. If you are type II diabetic you have almost certainly been complicit in your own demise for many years of abuse of your systems. Clean up.
While that doesn't sound like a good result you have to understand that what I just said is that obesity is a very healthy reaction to a toxic food source. The glucose, however, which is released from the sucrose (sugar) molecule as soon as the enzyme sucrase jabs at it will kill you in a flash if not handled correctly so we condition our body to react to a large onslaught of glucose with bucket fulls of insulin. As our reaction increases, our sensitivity decreases and the more we dose our system with insulin until there's so much swimming around in our blood that it turns all glucose to fat. The more we derange our insulin reaction, the more the glucose in our blood has a propensity to become fat and get stored. Herein lies the problem. We need to change this metabolic derangement if we are to lose weight successfully. This is the hard part as this feels like withdrawal from an addiction. That's because this is exactly what it is. Cold turkey. Very unpleasant. Kicking the sugar habit is at least as hard as quitting smoking or chewing tobacco.
There comes a point where you just have to accept the natural principles and work through them if you want the result that can only come by doing so. To attempt anything else is a fools errand. The fact is that losing body fat is all about regaining control of your insulin production. The only way to do this is in an absence of refined and simple sugars and other high glycemic index carbohydrates. Fasting doesn't work. There's no such thing as detox dieting and you can't just do more exercise because it ain't calories in versus calories out. That just doesn't work.
You need lean meat and veggies, nuts & seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken or misleading you and probably doing so with the intent to remove Benjies from your wallet.
The bottom line here is that you must eat the right foods in the right amounts (don't fast) so that your incredibly resilient body can repair itself. It takes time vbut the good news is that it is inevitable. It works for everyone, It always works, it takes time and effort but your entitlement to a healthier future is assured.
Time to put in the work. Do you have what it takes? There's no easy way. There's a simple way but it uses words like discipline, gumption, planning, relentlessness, support, honesty, integrity, accountability, focus and determination .
The ball is in your court. Good luck and don't be distracted by the ridiculous hype of those trying to sell you dieting product. It just won't work.
I doubt Marie Curie ever intended for her work on radium radioactivity to be the basis of weaponized uranium. Likewise, I am positive that Tim Berners Lee never intended for marathon training plans to be transmitted across his interwebs. I'm also certain that the children in the Vietnamese sweatshop who made my compression shorts didn't intend for them to have a seam in the crotch which, when exposed to sweat, would create a system of razor-like teeth which would tear into the side of your nutsack with the ferocity of a rabid badger. However, they did and for that they should receive a hearty thunder punch to the baby-maker (and Tim should be right there in line with them).
Along with all the pluses of the information superhighway (the ability to avoid state sales tax, argue with people you never met using language you never normally would and access to free porn for 14 year old boys without needing to look under their fathers' bed ) there inevitably come the negatives. Contextual advertising making it obvious what you'll be getting for Christmas once someone has searched the item out on Amazon, the inviting notion that mini-pigs will remain mini their entire lives and never shit in your shoe closet and online athletic training plans are just the tip of the iceberg of evils inflicted upon us. Let's agree to just deal with the latter today.
Here lies the rub. It's not that I dislike the dissemination of training plans using the internet. It's an excellent tool which I use daily and therein lies the problem. Training plans are disseminated as a result of assessment which means at high frequency. The workouts prescribed by a coach should be done by acquiring data, by visual assessment, telemetry, HR monitor / GPS system and then the process can begin in earnest. The data collected can be analyzed to determine whether or not the athlete met the objective of the workout. If that objective was met then perhaps a new objective can be fed to the athlete via their training plan. Perhaps further work is needed on technique requiring the prescription of drills. Perhaps aerobic or anaerobic capacity change was being sought. Regardless of the reasons for the last workout there is an assessment of performance, comparison to the outline of the plan and a decision can be made as to the objective of the next workout.
I don't remember who to credit with the following notion but it's been in my head since reading Covey and Collins et al in the business world. It was one of them, not I, that asserted that there is no value in a plan but there is much value in the act of planning. It is important then, that your training plan is adaptive. A coach must assess the activities of yesterday and the manner in which they are performed in order to formulate the optimal objective and mechanism for improvement today. Maybe for the sake of your sanity and economics it can be done weekly. It sure as hell can't be done monthly. Your plan is worthless. Plain and simple. A plan for improving athletic performance which is 1 month out is on par with a horoscope. With that said it would logically follow that one twelfth of you will be winning your next race. Tough titties if you're not an Aquarius.
Now, does it hurt to have a plan to follow to help you organize your workouts and time? Well, actually it could well do. I'll admit that anything written down will give you something to do today that you didn't have to think about and it therefore comes closer to achieving execution. However, once that workout doesn't seem palatable then the plan may not be adhered to. Worse still, you may end up doing a workout with volume emphasis that requires a level of technique that you aren't prepared for. The result is discomfort, then pain, then injury. Your coach is what keeps you from moving along that continuum. A plan will not care. It will work you to inoperability and dysfunction.
In summary, a training plan prescription is an egregious supposition about important factors influencing human performance and leaves them without consideration. Metaphorically, visiting your doctor, paying him, sitting down in his office to have him ask "on a scale of 1 to 3 how do you feel" and upon your numeric response prescribing you Xanax and bidding you good day, well...that actually sounds about right in many cases. Enjoy your training.
This is a photo of someone who has just finished doing pull ups at my gym.
Ok. So that's not true.
What is true is that torn hands, despite their popularity as a rite of passage or demonstration of toughness or exertion in Facebook posts are actually an indication of a lack of skill or preparation or execution or some combination of the three.
It seems like every CrossFitter starts out by trying to terrify their friends with photos of blisters and busted calluses. This vexes me and gives cause for the first of many posts in which I will angrily vent about elements of CrossFit and the health and fitness industry at large that displease me. By doing so I hope I'll dispel some of the rumors, lies and myths perpetuated to advance the agenda of parties with self interest or are actively preventing those who would otherwise involve themselves in healthy pursuits to remain on the sidelines.
How do I despise thee? Let me count the ways:
1) You shouldn't have calluses. No one wants you to have calluses. Your partner doesn't want to be caressed by those hands. Your child experiences scant comfort as your Freddy Krueger hams paw away the tears from their face. Even your mechanic is likely to think "That's a disgracefully grody set of mitts you're sporting, Missus. Have you not heard of Olay?"
After your workout, regularly as clockwork, take a Dremel, razor blade or pumice stone or whatever mechanism you favor and remove those things before applying some hand lotion. Healthy hand skin is soft, pliable, hydrated and alive rather than two tough-looking plates of stinky digits with bold protuberances between each joint.
2) Unless you're a forensic expert at the murder scene of a cocaine dealer your hands should not be coated in blood and white powder. Chalk is used to create static, not dynamic, friction. It is however abused more than the aforementioned narcotic despite the requirement for a bar or kettlebell to spin in the hands. Even if your hands have survived the expected repercussions of the gym owner as you do your favorite LeBron impersonation and cover their freshly cleaned floor with magnesium carbonate, they are unlikely to be able to handle the friction inherent to the combination of iron, sweat and chalk which creates a file and glue double-act that destroys hands with the efficiency of a belt sander.
3) There should be no relative motion twixt hand and bar in a pull up. The thumb should be used in opposition (allowing more recruitment from the lats) and the shoulder should be flexible enough to create room for the kip while winding up elastic tension for re-release into the backswing phase of a kipping pullup. If your hand rotates then you may well need to work on your shoulder flexibility. Your overhead position could probably use the help also.
4) Posting pictures of your injuries comes a close second in lack of sensibilities to inviting your friends over to eat the placenta following the birth of your latest challenge to the success of the human genome.
I understand the narcissistic desire to share your proud agony with the rest of the world. I do. Really. I've been there. Unfortunately, it comes across to those in my professional network as an advertisement that a) I can't get people who come to my gym to follow my advice or b) they're following my advice and my advice is worthless.
Here's my advice for clarity; fitness is like a sun tan. It comes through exposure. If you're at home facebooking the world about your hand condition then you're not going to be able to work out tomorrow. That means you won't be able to stimulate adaptation. That means you won't increase your capacities. So, everyone else is getting fitter while you bask in your heroic glow because you busted your hands instead of stopping to prevent an injury. It takes maturity. It takes nouse. It results in fitness and health instead of looking like you just jacked off a dragon.
Look after your hands. It pisses me off when you don't.