Saturday, September 12, 2009

Train Yourself

Everybody wants to outsource these days. You get your accountant to do your taxes, your maid to clean your house, your babysitter to watch the kids and your personal trainer to get you in shape.

What ever happened to learning to do stuff on your own? I find it funny that people nowadays, including men, are so quick to hire a personal trainer. That's great for trainers, but I think a lot of people have been misled to believe that getting into shape is too daunting of a task to do on their own.

I used to go to a small neighborhood gym where they didn't push a personal trainer on you. You learned by trying stuff out in the gym, observing how other guys worked out and asking for advice. There was a sense of camaraderie. More experienced lifters helped younger lifters, and respect was given to those who put in hard time and hard work to achieve a hard physique.

Nowadays, commercial gyms seem to be meat markets with men strutting around like peacocks. God forbid you give your friend training advice, because some trainer (if you can call him that) is going to remind you that training others is prohibited.

Personal training is overrated, because all of the basic information is out there. With enough knowledge and drive, people can train themselves. It's like cooking: lots of people cook delicious meals, and they never went to culinary school. Give me a good tasting burrito over foie gras any day.

I got a certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, which is the most respected certification. But frankly, most of the stuff I know I knew before I even got the certification from NSCA. Most people don't give a rat's ass about your certification. A certification doesn't mean your qualified, it just means you're not stupid.

Vince Gironda, who was the single greatest influence on bodybuilding, didn't have a certification or a degree. And yet he trained people like Larry Scott and Arnold Schawrzenegger. He was extremely observant, so in essence he taught himself.

Most of these training techniques (supersets, pyramid sets, 5x5, etc.) were developed by old time bodybuilders who were just experimenting and exchanging information. They didn't have personal trainers. And yet these techniques are practiced by gym goers all over the world and espoused by strength coaches with fancy degrees.

This is not too say that some people don't need a trainer. Some people just cannot, for the life of them, figure out how to do something as simple as a bench press, a sissy squat or a deadlift. You tell a guy to do a lateral raise, and he ends up doing a dumbbell flye standing up. Some people just can't seem to follow directions, and they leave out crucial details in their exercise form. These people need a knowledgeable trainer to troubleshoot their form.

People who also need a trainer are those bodybuilders who've plateaued. They've accomplished a decent physique, but they don't have the elite knowledge to reach their full potential. They've got the 80% that makes them good, but they're missing that crucial 20% that would make them extraordinary.

But if you're happy with good, then you don't need a trainer. Learn to do stuff on your own. Train yourself.
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