I have been running around the internet reading lots of blogs from self-described “fitness professionals”. This has been a horrifying experience for me, and I am rather pissed off that there is so much misinformation out there, but it is the internet, I shouldn't be that surprised. Sadly for the general population there is a massive amount of misinformation out there when it comes to training (and many other things), and it seems that there are a lot of trainers contributing to this by writing terrible articles based off of one poorly done study, or on erroneous information that on closer inspection is counter intuitive.
Here is an example: Lifting within 30% of your one rep maximum (1-RM) for ten reps is the same as lifting 60-80% of your 1-RM for four repetitions. This study was conducted on untrained men for ten weeks and it focused on their forearm flexors and extensors. First off new trainees respond positively to just about any training stimulus, the muscles and nerves are being challenge so adaptations will occur regardless of what is done. These progressions will stop very swiftly unless the trainee engages in a intelligently designed, progressive plan . Secondly the forearm flexors and extensors are very small muscle groups, they respond to stimulus differently than say the quads. If the study had focused on the legs and ran longer than 10 weeks I can safely assume that the results would be more in favor of training in the 60-80% range. The problem with a limited study such as this is that misinformed people will use it as training guidelines. These people will stay weak for years, and they will not know why they are not getting more athletic, stronger, and faster. In one way they deserve it, if they had verified their sources or made informed choices then they would continuously be getting good results instead of mediocre results that correspond to their previous lack of effort. If these people do not eventually change their ways I have a very hard time feeling any pity for them. If a training plan isn't working then some thing is wrong, find out what it is and fix it. I do feel for the people that are trying to become informed and are running into heaps of terrible training information while lacking the ability or knowledge to pull out the slivers of good information.
In all things that you do, you need to make informed decisions. There are no absolute experts in anything, just those that are more informed then others and take the time to continuously add to their knowledge. How do you find good solid training information? Read blogs, read studies, find trainers whose clients are getting the sort of results that you want. You could also check out my buddy Isaac Wilkins, who set me onto my current path, you can find him here: http://newpolymath.com.
In the interest of expanding your knowledge here are "Four ways to make informed decisions":
2. Use Wikipedia for the references, not the actual article (If you don’t know this, god help you).
3. Find someone you respect and ask them. This is pretty simple; use your contacts to get accurate information from reliable sources. This does not mean “My step sisters friend Guido said that this guy down at the bar told his buddy John that this other dude told him…(insert BS here)”.
4. Does it feel right? If the information or advice seems wrong or a little bit off chances are it is. Listen to your gut. Say you want to “Lose that gut and get Six Pack Abs”, is the plan to do this “Easy”, will it take “Four Weeks”, and is it the only “Truth”? If you want to get strong and lean then it takes time and effort. Nothing worth doing is ever “easy”; some amount of effort and dedication is required.
These are just a few ways to increase your awareness and aid you in making informed decisions. Start implementing these in your daily life, and you will notice that the quality and fallout of your decisions will improve.