This Article Contains the Best Fitness Hack Ever
Hack = Bullshit (Mostly)
It seems you can’t go more than three clicks on the internet before you come across an article highlighting how to “hack” your way to a happy relationship, the job of your dreams, or hours of newfound productivity.
In this sense the word hack isn’t referring to someone trying to snake your social security number, or Russians.
No, the hack I’m referring to is the rigging of or improvisation of something crude but effective, usually as a temporary solution to a problem (like losing 10 lbs or making it so that the inside of your fridge doesn’t resemble a science experiment.
I read an article on Yahoo’s homepage the other day written by a CEO of some company who went into spectacular detail on his “hacks” for productivity and success:
- Early 4 AM wake-up calls; snooze buttons are for losers
- Eating a gluten free diet.
- Write down your purpose every morning.
- Never make excuses.
- Only hang out with successful people.
- Don’t watch the news.
Blah, blah, blahbiddy, blah.
All the suggestions were well and good and I didn’t have any issues with them.1 The article was fine. But if I had bring up one teeny-tiny “beef” with it, it was that it was bit preachy if not a tad self-righteous.
And, to be completely candid, I was half expecting him to go full-on guru:
“Wanna know what the REAL secret is to my success and how I’m able to be so productive? It’s not my morning runs, the fact I’m adamant about stand-up meetings only, or that I limit my distractions by avoiding websites that are time sucks. Nope, the real key is this….
Ready for it?
……I fondle my dog’s balls.”
That would be about as absurd of a thing as you’d ever hear, and you’d undoubtedly think to yourself:
- Uh, has someone called the cops on this guy?
- Do people actually believe this shit?
But when you look at all the other egregious things being said out there – especially in the realm of health/fitness – is it really all that ludicrous?
I mean, you
have had Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop telling women that they could fix their hormones by putting a vaginal egg into their who-ha.
People believed that, and Goop made a boatload of money off it.
Another popular “hack,” this time around the idea of enhancing recovery, is cryotherapy. The obvious analogy here is Han Solo being frozen in Cabonite by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.
Cryotherapy isn’t that far off.
People will willingly subject their bodies to extreme levels of cold in an effort to promote recovery and reduce inflammation.
My boy Dean Somerset wrote an excellent article on why it’s a bunch of nonsense HERE.
Wanna know what really improves recovery?
There, I just saved you $100 a pop.
I read a lot about nutritional hacks too.
Some articles wax poetic about a certain way of eating.
The current diet du jour – the Ketogenic Diet, or ‘keto’ – will have you believe it’ll help everyone lose weight, improve their blood profile, cure diabetes, and solve Middle Eastern peace.
I’ve written about my thoughts on this topic HERE. Suffice it to say, it works (it’s not magic), and, in my opinion, serves more to prey on people’s relationships and psychological battles with food than anything else.
The hack that should really be highlighted here is encouraging people to follow whatever approach allows them to 1) Stay consistent long-term, 2) Doesn’t demonize any food or food-group, and 3) Doesn’t make them want to stab someone in the face whenever someone offers them bread.
Likewise, there’s no shortage of articles offering hacks to those people interested in getting bigger, stronger, and/or faster.
I have a client who loves these sort of articles.
For the sake of anonymity, lets call him Wayne “The Sock” Swanson.
He’s been working with me for a little over a year, and while I love the guy to pieces and appreciate him in every way, sometimes I’m forced to give him some tough love.
For starters he’s always mentioning how tired he is (revert to my comment above about going to bed), and what’s more, I’ve had to jokingly “ban” him from using the phrase “this is hard” during his training sessions because he’ll say it all….the….time.
- “These deadlifts are hard.”
- “Rest-pause bench press is hard.”
- “This arm finisher is hard.”
He’s always bringing up “x” gadget or “y” supplement and asks whether or not he should give them a try to help him towards his goal(s).
“No, work harder,” I’ll say, knowing full-well this is the opposite of a hack (or what he wants to hear).
A few weeks ago he brought in a pair of Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) straps and asked if he could use them during his session?
I gave “Wayne” a look as if to say “really, dude?” and he came back with “I used them during my entire session earlier this week and could really feel my muscles working.”
NOTE: Before someone gets huffy with me and thinks I’m going to bash BFR training, relax. I am not. I’m on your side. I think there’s a time and place for it and feel there’s more than enough research to back its efficacy. In fact I’ve featured an article on BFR Training on this site – HERE.
“This isn’t the answer,” I said. “I can appreciate your willingness to learn and want to try new things, and there IS a correct application for BFR training. However, how you’re doing isn’t it, and, to be frank, I think is a waste of your time.
I’m telling you, work harder.”
To prove my point, and because I had an inkling of what was really happening, as Wayne’s workout proceeded that day I made a concerted effort of counting his reps.
NOTE: I work in a semi-private format which often means I am not right there to count every rep of every set for a client.
I discreetly started counting the total number of repetitions he was performing to see if they matched what was on his program.
My suspicions were correct.
They did not.
He did half of what was written on his program.
A set of chin-ups called for eight reps, he did five. The next set called for MAX reps, he did five (and I KNOW he could do more).
A set of split squats called for 15 reps/leg, he did seven here, 9 there.
And all this took place with me in the room.
Who knows what was going on on the days he was training on his own?
Anyway, as he was leaving that afternoon I followed him outside and brought it up. I wasn’t a jerk about it. It’s not like I got in his face and was like “Ah-HA…….I knew it.”
Rather, I put my hand on his shoulder and said “Wayne, I’m on your side and I’m here to help in any way I can, but you have to start taking some accountability of your actions.”
We had a heart to heart for 2-3 minutes and I could tell he felt a bit embarrassed and ashamed. It wasn’t an easy conversation, but it was a conversation that was needed.
At the end all I said was:
“I’ll see you next week, be ready to work.”
We hugged it out and that was that.
The following week he showed up and crushed it, and I’ve seen a layer of motivation in him of late I haven’t seen in him before.
The point of all this?
Hacks are fine. They can help expedite the process.
But goddammit, sometimes you just need to do the work.
And, go to bed.