The gym. Its name alone sets off a warm and fuzzy sensation deep in the feels. But once you set foot in the Colosseum of gainz, that mushy feeling evaporates and what takes its place is the all-conquering feeling of pre-workout coursing through your being and a sudden urge to move some weight.
What comes with the honour to move weight? A never-ending obsession with the iron. What ensues is a quest for training knowledge that only comes from watching your favourite YouTubers and IG influencers give you advice on how to get stronger, bigger, or shredded.
The good news is there is a never ending library of knowledge available at your fingertips with the colossus that is the internet. The bad news is that library is infected with cockroaches trying to sell you test-boosters and cookie cutter programmes, causing you long term failure for a short-term fix, all whilst lining their pockets.
Team Spartanomics are anti-cockroach. We was the guy who was buying the test-boosters and cookie cutter programmes, before we used science to erase the BS from our memories. However, we live to tell the tale.
A big mistake that I made over my 12-year training career was adopting the meathead mentality. You know, the guy who would go to the gym in his stringer vest that just about covered the nipples thinking he was better than everyone else just because he lifted more or he looked a certain way, all whilst screaming the room down (or in my case, barking).
Whilst being a meathead I made a lot of mistakes:
#1 I spent 3-4 hours in the gym.
#2 I neglected rest.
#3 I would lift heavy all the time.
#4 I’d perform every variation of a movement.
The list could go on but we can generalise it all into the negligence of two categories:
The growth equation & spinal hygiene
The growth equation states that,
Stress + Rest = Growth
Simply put, there must be a balance struck between rest and stress to elicit growth. Stress is anything that causes a physical, mental, or emotional response. Growth can be anything that causes a positive change. And I explain this a bit deeper in my vlog (4:09 - 7:20):
Rest is where your body adapts to the stress. So that time spent in the gym is useless if you sleep like sh*t and neglect rest.
To understand spinal hygiene, we must first understand some basic spinal mechanics.
“Research shows that the spine is designed to resist motion whilst we create motion about the shoulders and the hips.”
With that being said, even if we exercise with adherence to that rule i.e. moving about a neutral spine, the spine incurs a cost which we call compression. Compression is simply a pressure that is placed on the spine. Everyone has a tipping point regarding the amount of compression they can tolerate before back pain or discomfort ensues, which can cause a decline in performance. A goal of training is to build this tolerance.
So, what happens when we perform every variation of a squat during a gut-busting leg day? Your spine is paying the price and you are most likely not progressing on any of those lifts, which does not satisfy something that is quite important with training... progressive overload.
Which begs the question, why?
It’s not getting you any closer to a goal, unless your goal is to flex for IG.
If I had one piece of advice for meathead Avi it would be this:
“The gym is a part of your life and it isn’t your whole life. Go make those gainz in life, kid.”