So here's the bottom line question...when it comes to fitness, who do you believe?
Well, believe me (no pun intended!) when I say this...you CAN make good, educated decisions when it comes to what works and what doesn't in fitness, even if you don't have "insider" knowledge about every single product, author or training technique you come across.
My main goal here is to give you some solid decision-making ideas to help you steer yourself in the right direction.
My OTHER goal here is to help you avoid the "paralysis by analysis" that often plagues those who aren't sure where to start or who to believe...they end up doing nothing at all, which is NOT the best way to accomplish something.
1. The TRUST Factor...
The first method of determining what's good and what's bad is finding a person/coach/trainer you trust...somebody who walks the walk, who has spent time "in the trenches" and who really cares about what they're doing. Somebody whose recommendations you know are based on knowledge and experience.
Here's the thing...some of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to training don't have any "real" qualifications at all! Their knowledge is based on their own reading and their own gym hours. Yet this can also be a very dangerous thing.
Those "real" qualifications do serve a purpose. Ideally, you want to find somebody who's got a good base of knowledge in the theoretical and plenty of practical experience in the gym...somebody who is not afraid to acknowledge the validity of other people's theories and practices.
For me, this is a HUGE determination of who to trust...any coach who thinks that only THEIR way is effective is an idiot. Just like there are many good ways to get from point A to point B in a city, there are plenty of ways to accomplish fat loss and muscle growth.
Some ways are better than others, naturally, but many ideas have merit.
2. Consider the Source And What They Have To Gain Or Lose
When you read a muscle magazine and come across a 4-page "informational" report, it's pretty easy to figure out what the company has to gain by putting forward this information. You know it's going to be slanted in favor of their product because they want you to buy it.
As good as the information they present might LOOK, you have to take it with a grain of salt because they have a lot to gain by your accepting the information.
Here's the problem...even very good studies quoted in these ad reports can be very loosely interpreted to "prove" the product works. They know that chances are good you're not going to be looking up and actually reading these studies.
3. What Do You Do When 2 People You Trust Say 2 Different Things?
That makes things a bit trickier and that's when you need to educate yourself, think things through and sometimes even take BOTH people's advice and test it for yourself. I'll explain...
For example, if one person says "long-duration cardio is the best way to lose fat" and the other person says "interval training is the best way to lose fat", and you trust both people, what you'll need to do is see what works best for YOU.
Neither method of cardio training is necessarily wrong - both methods have their pros and cons and both can be more appropriate in certain situations. If both people put forward good arguments, you need to test it on yourself if you want to really find out what works best for you. Do 3 weeks of long-duration cardio then gauge your results then do 3 weeks of intervals and gauge your results.
Honestly, this isn't perfect either but it'll give you a good idea of what works for you and what doesn't.
And if you don't want to test both opinions, then read MORE opinions to see if somebody else puts forward a better explanation.
Let me put it this way...I know for a FACT that not everybody reading this article will agree 100% with every bit of training information I put forward. That's totally fine with me. In fact, I prefer it that way because it means I'm pushing the envelope.
It then comes down to how you feel about the reasoning behind the techniques and your willingness to give the techniques a fair try. It's the same thing when you have 2 trainers who disagree - heck, they may BOTH be wrong.
4. The Gut Check
Ever heard the phrase "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?" If some diet program makes insane claims, they'd better have proof to back it up. Lose 10 lbs in your first week? It's possible...if that 10 lbs is mostly water.
At the same time, don't be fooled by people who claim that fast results AREN'T possible. Because I can tell you from experience, you CAN see quick results IF you've got the right training and nutritional program. Many people want you to believe you have settle for less because THEY have settled for less and don't know how to get more.
There's a happy medium in that respect...don't be afraid to try for big results but temper your expectations because there's a reason those ads all have to have small print that says "results aren't typical."
5. Doing SOMETHING is Always Better Than Doing NOTHING
If you're sitting on the couch, eating potato chips and watching 8 hours of TV a day because two different coaches said two different things about training and you don't know who to believe, I can promise you that the answer won't come to you on reruns of the Family Feud.
Likewise, the person who has all the theoretical training knowledge in the world but who doesn't put any of it into practice is NOT better off than the person who knows hardly anything about training but who goes for a walk every day and tries to eat more fruits and vegetables.
So even if you're getting conflicting advice, use your best judgement and do SOMETHING. If it's not working after a few weeks, you can change. There's no contract to sign.
6. How Do You Tell When Information is BAD?
There will be times when information is just plain bad. That's when you go to your resources...ask people you trust (I'm happy to help you with questions you have about training info), post a note on a forum that has good people on it.
If something doesn't smell right about the information, definitely do a little research before trying it out.
The bottom line with all these tips is that contradictions in training information are a fact of life...they'll always be very knowledgeable, well-educated people who disagree completely about different aspects of fitness.
But don't let contradictions stop you from moving forward and forming a plan of action...chances are, these contradictions won't matter a hill of beans in terms of your overall results.
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