Don't Confuse Weakness For Preference
Twitter is a place where you can encounter some of the sharpest minds and pure noise. Every once in a while, the noise gets pitched in a way that you can’t ignore it for much longer. In the fitness community, it is no different. Lately there has been a trend of gatekeeping exercises to the tune of “X is an awful exercise, change my mind” or “You don’t need X to do Y, the best approach his Z,” you get the idea. While this normally rolls off my back, lately I’ve felt the need to push back on this mode of thinking. You see, It’s not that I couldn’t make those exact observations (better), for a whole slew of workouts. It’s that way of thinking however, is a sign of a lack of meaningful long-term experience and frankly, maturity.
Why is this even important to bring up? Well, I help coach a number of individuals who are looking for guidance and it’s mid-wit takes like these that tend to only serve one purpose - to make the person making the claim stand out from the crowd. The unfortunate reality is, this often works for people less experienced. I’ve written about these types of person in my piece about The Smith Machine. For people like myself however, it screams “My weaknesses guide my preferences.”
While there are certain movements that warrant a warning (the upright row for example due to it’s high risk profile for shoulder injuries), the vast majority of exercises that have stood the test of time are not easily discarded (As a quick aside, there are movements that cause you serious pain or discomfort, this is NOT what I am referring to). Ask yourself, what is more likely? That you alone have discovered a 60 year old work out is obsolete in your 3-5 years of training or that you’ve, perhaps, not unlocked that movement’s full potential. Or better yet, did you prove Arnold wrong or are the muscles required to “feel” that movement not yet developed? These are very serious questions you need to be asking yourself and raise a lot important points about bodybuilding in general.
You need muscle to “feel” the muscle working properly. A lot of beginners in the gym lack the muscle mass to experience mind-muscle connection in the way that it informs the lift. As a coach, you hear about it all the time. “I cant tell if I’m doing this correctly” or “I don’t feel it where I’m supposed to be feeling it.” A lot of the time this has to do with underdeveloped muscles. So again I ask you, do you have preferences or are do you have weaknesses?
If it sounds like I’m being pedantic, you’re not far off. This is mostly a nit-pick but this brings up an important lesson in both life and weight-lifting. Don’t confuse personal weakness for preference. The likelihood that you can even have an advanced enough pallet to have a meaningful preferences, without at least 10 years of training under your belt, is low. Might you have genuine preferences? Of course, in the same way that I had a preference for Olive Garden 10 years ago. Can you say for sure those preferences aren’t born out of weaknesses or blindspots?