Equipment That Encourages Laziness
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
There are some things you never see at the gym. You never see a good runner on the elliptical machine. You never see a guy with really ripped abs on the weighted crunch machine. And you never, ever see anyone reading a book or magazine while drenched in sweat, gasping for air.
Allow me to lay into the elliptical trainer first. Simply put, it's a machine for people who want to cover their "cardio" portion for the day. Chronic users of the elliptical, with the exception of athletes recovering from knee surgery, do NOT like to put out in the gym. They'll rock back and forth in that goddamned monstrosity, reading their romance novel or watching their favorite soap opera on the telly. They don't work hard. They hate doing anything challenging, and it shows in their lack of results from hours upon hours of mock-exercise. The personality of an elliptical user also reflects in their inability to control what they stuff in their pie-holes late at night, in the privacy of their own home, when Sergeant isn't watching. You want to get good at running? Then bloody RUN. Specificity of movement is the key, and you aren't targeting the muscles correctly. I have people all the time brag about how they "did 23" on the machine for thirty minutes, whatever the hell that means, and burned almost 300 calories. Wow! Really? Almost 300 calories in thirty minutes? I can't believe you'd waste your precious time like that! 300 calories barely kicked your metabolism in gear for the day, son. On a treadmill, I double that number in the same amount of time. "But I don't liiiike running." Listen, I don't exactly love it either, but don't complain to me and blame anyone but your own lazy, lazy (tsk tsk, lazy) self. You want to get better at running? There's only one way, and you already know what it is.
Ha! Check out the crunch machine. You know the one. Select your resistance by putting the pin in the correct position, and then while sitting (conveniently so you can see the TV), move your torso and knees together in a crunch-like movement. This exercise will make you extremely proficient... at using the crunch machine. It translates into absolutely nothing else useful that you would perform in real life, and the isolating nature of the movement doesn't even do that much for your overall core strength. Next time you pass this machine, keep right the hell on walking... but first, observe anyone who uses it. What do they have in common? They're usually kinda fat and kinda old, and honestly believe that a bunch of weighted crunches will target the fat right off that hidden washboard.
Oh, the joys of the fitness ball! Touted a piece of miracle equipment in our time, you too can actually tighten up that tummy without working too hard. If you use this ball and you're thin, congratulations on your recent accomplishments on the elliptical at the "23" setting. Actually, if you're thin but work out with such low intensity, it probably has more to do with controlling what you eat than anything else. This ball will do some good things for you, but it will not make your body or spirit hard.
Hate me if you want, disagree if you must, but don't take my word for it. I believe in evidence, not faith. Not satisfied with your image? Pick someone who looks the way you'd like to look and emulate what they do. Pick their brains. Don't accept hair care tips from a bald guy, and don't accept body sculpting or nutritional advice from someone who is clearly obese. If you don't like the answer you get, follow suit with the rest of the human driftwood and lower your personal standards.
My Exercise Picks:
A good, hard run, so fast you can't talk.
Squat, deadlift, cleans
Exercises Worth Making Fun Of:
Lat pulldown machine
Weight training on that goddamned exercise ball
Any kind of machine that "targets abs"
Any device that clearly targets the elderly