“You know what really grinds my gears?”
I got the idea for this article while watching Family Guy recently. 🙂
So now it’s my turn to vent on things that grind my gears in the world of fitness, bodybuilding, fat loss, and nutrition.
Here we go…
1) Stability Balls. Imagine a piece of equipment that actually RETARDED your progress on the body part it’s supposed to target. Abdominal muscles are actually quite easy to build. It’s losing the fat on top that is the hard part.
Add resistance to your ab movements and go to failure like any other body part and watch them grow, harden, and form that washboard shape you want.
Stability balls REDUCE the amount of force that can be generated by the abs and make for really ineffective workouts  . The time it takes to sculpt your abdominals will be significantly lengthened by use of these big balls of disappointment.
You’ll probably have seen people in your gym bouncing around on these things in an effort to get a six-pack. Even if you were to use them, a slow, controlled movement with a pause at the peak contraction point would be the way to go. But the best thing to do is to just avoid them completely!
2) The “Low-Carb Is Unhealthy” People. No science to back up their statements, but apparently just saying it makes it so.
At best they’ll quote a study that showed that a “high-fat” diet lead to unfavorable changes in lipid profile. What they are unaware of, or just plain ignorant of, is that the diet was also high in carbohydrate. Who is recommending a diet high in both carbs and fat!?
A recent meta-analysis  of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease is what lead Dr. Krauss to conclude that…
“A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. It’s the carbohydrate that appears to have most of the effect when it comes to dietary influences.”
3) “Compound Only” Advocates. Yes apparently you can get maximum muscle-growth stimulation in ALL body parts by performing compound movements only. Want big biceps? Just bench. Muscular calves? Just squat. In fact, deadlifting will also make your biceps big too! Bollocks. Unless you’re a genetic freak, this just ain’t gonna happen.
Local muscle growth is a fact. If your goal is hypertrophy, you need BOTH compound and isolation movements. Download my free THT book for a lot more on this issue.
4) Bodybuilders. Shocked? Now I’m not saying this about ALL bodybuilders. But it’s the attitude of some guys that just gets on my nerves.
Flexing and screaming in the mirror at the gym in front of everyone just means you’re a douche.
Spouting your broscience and thinking it’s rock-solid fact without anything to back it up just means you’re ill-informed and quite possibly unjustifiably arrogant. Just because you read something in a magazine does NOT make it true. I’m sure many of you have overheard some “words of wisdom” from other guys in the gym.
Being condescending to newcomers, whether it’s in person or on an online forum is just not cool. You were a newcomer at one time too.
Why not be friendly? Why not be helpful to newbies?
5) Men’s Health “Muscle Building” Routines. If you understand that muscle physiology is the same for all humans, this notion of printing up new, totally different, and contradictory programs every month can be seen for what it is: a way of selling magazines to neophytes and gullible people.
That’s why in THT we start with the fundamentals of Intensity, Volume, and Frequency. Then we flesh it out a little more to give YOU the real deal on how muscle is actually built (and for FREE). These principles are not up for debate and they apply to EVERYONE.
It’s no different from learning the fundamentals of math or chemistry. It is what it is and you can’t change it. Nature is in charge here. You can just decide what you’re going to do to build muscle. You either work WITH nature’s laws, or work AGAINST them and fail.
But I guess they gotta sell magazines after all 🙄
What grinds YOUR gears in this game?
What pearls of wisdom did you pick up at the gym over the years?
 Maintenance of Emg Activity and Loss of Force Output With Instability Anderson, Kenneth G, Behm, David G.
 The Effectiveness of Resistance Exercises Performed on Unstable Equipment. Willardson, Jeffrey M. MS
 Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss
Can I give you my free muscle-building workout?
Join thousands over the world who are packing on slabs of new muscle for free with Targeted Hypertrophy Training (THT)
Steriod users that attribute their success to everything but the juice
Posers, show offs and ones that stare at you when you’re lifting weights…..grrrrr
I train the musclehack way in the gym and guys have noticed my gains in such a short time and come ask me for advice and when i tell them they start saying things like..’no, you shouldn’t do it like that’ ‘you need more sets and you shouldnt train to failure’ and so on…well after all the reading on websites and searching i found loads of info, but how can i tell someone that it works if its never worked for me, i didnt take marks word for it to be honest, i’d been let down before, i had to try it to see if it worked and because it worked very well I can honestly say that this works for me and that mark knows what he is talking about. alot of routines work and some don’t. you need to get into the gym and try it yourself. the guys telling me training to failure doesnt work..they’ve never tried it cause some ass hole personal trainer said not to do it. well, keep doing what you are doing you scrawny idiot and leave me alone to get on with my gains. shooooo!!! thats my rant!!! thanx mark!!
Hmmm… I might be one of the bodybuilders you hate, because I do regularly grunt and sometimes yell out. But only because I’m going hell for leather. For some reason, I find that a little growl helps me get the last couple of reps out where I might otherwise fail. But I would never dream of flexing in the mirrors.
The thing that grinds my gears most often are the people who rest on machines or benches instead of getting out of the way. And then they look at me like I’m being unreasonable when I ask them if I can work in. ‘But I’ve got another set to do!’ they say. Uh huh… but you’re not doing it right at this very moment, are you? You’re sitting on your arse and panting. So in the meantime just share the bloody equipment, yeah?
In the gym : people that detract my attention from my workout by either smelling really bad, smelling like an axe commercial, guys with big arms and sticklegs that make too much noise, anyone who wears too bright a color and hot girls – they always mess up my pause timing. As long as people don’t mess with my business they can do whatever they want, stability ball or not! 😀
Thanks for the shout-out, Mark! Make no mistake some days it’s REALLY hard to be an ambassador, period. Some days you talk to guys and it’s just “why do you bother to continue on this way?”. So, you pick and choose your battles if you can but you never compromise your principles.
So, the easy way to solve the problem is to just keep MuscleHacking it in the gym and do what you can to further promote the fact that you can be ripped without juice or junk or excessive overeating.
Great article Mark!
Like wouter put it, guys that walk around the gym big upper body but tiny chicken legs, think they own the place. Then to actually see them do their pssy little leg routines with zero intensity and try to finish as fast as they can just so they can get in a couple more bicep sets.
Also, people that load up the weights, only to do the most improper squats and deadlifts.
@Jason. Totally. The PT’s talking crap and giving terrible advice. Heard one recently say that his spin class burned 3000 Calories. Dear Lord 🙄
@Jim. No, not at all. I’m saying the ones that yell while posing in the mirror. Grunting while lifting is a sign of intensity and I do it myself. Yeah, the guys that don’t seem to know the concept of working in! “Hey can I work in?”..”I’ve got a couple more sets”. Oh dear, that’s why I asked to work in.
@Wouter. Never had the stink problem fortunately.
Great article Mark. I agree so much with this article, especially the balance ball. People generally hear or over hear a PT praising it or see it on common shows that whip super fat people into some sort of shape. It makes it difficult to change their mind about it why would you (me) know better then a celebrity endorsed show who has their own ps3 game.
Also, I’d like to add to the bodybuilders rant, mostly the bragging of “I spent 3 hours last in the gym” and causing people to think this is the way to go.
Seeing someone standing on a Basu ball (half a stability ball with a base) with one leg, while holding a kettle bell in one hand a dumbbell in the other, doing leg raises. That kind of stuff drives me bonkers.
1. Gyms that play horrendous music very loud while you are trying to concentrate.
2. People who chat and text on mobile phones instead of working out.
3. People who leave weights and equipment all over the floor instead of putting it away.
4. People who tell me I am ”lucky ” to look like this at my age!
5.The woman who told me she wants toned arms, but not as toned as mine LOL
I feel sorry for people who have been ill informed on the fact that high reps with lighter weight = definition!! Grrrr
It makes me crazy when people ask what to do, you tell them and they just go back to doing it there way. If you take the time to ask me why completely ignore it. Specifically I am not very large guy 5’10 175, but I have extremely low body fat. I do cardio maybe once or twice a week. I constantly preach nutrition nutrition freakin nutrition! You can train everyday the right way for as long as you want. If you eat crap all day long and justify it by going to the gym you will never get the results you want. I’m not saying diet like a comp bodybuilder, but don’t get out of the gym and drag race to mickey d’s because you put in an extra 20 min cardio session today. It makes me nuts! That is all. Hahaha excellent work Mark you are truely an inspiration!
…And spot reducing!!! Grrrrrrrrr
@Andrew Mast. That would drive me bonkers too!
@Janet. All great points!
@Mark. That’s all too common. The guys that do an hour of cardio then hit the ab machines are defo in the “spot reduction” group.
@Anthony. Thanks, bud. Keep trying to spread the good word.
I completely agree with you on higher reps more definition. All too often I see guys who want to lean out go high rep light weight while dieting. This is one time you should push as hard as you can with moderate to heavy weights to retain as much muscle as possible. And the spot reducing thing is a constant. ” I want washboard abs” then lose weight. “no I don’t want to lose anyweight except my stomach”. Sorry to disappoint you lose weight.
On the definition thing, you could point out to them that “definition” is just the appearance you get from having a) bigger/stronger muscles and b) less body fat. Then ask them what they think are the most effective ways to achieve each of those two things. Unless they’re in serious need of re-education neither of their answers should include low intensity weightlifting.
Fellas singing along loudly to their music
Bros trying to ‘educate’ other Bros
Sweaty, stinky and/or hairy people. At least wipe down the equipment…
And please don’t try to have a conversation with me when I am clearly working out or have a stipulated rest period. Hello my stopwatch frickin beeps for a reason!
On a positive note I have the utmost respect for beginners who have no qualms with starting off slow, who work on their form and don’t rush to lift heavy weights.
Ahh that felt good. Thanks Mark 😀
The idea that cardio is “efficient”.
@Muhammad. Agreed. Ever notice you’re the only one recording reps/weight and looking at a stopwatch?
@Ben. lol. nice.
NO JOKE, I’m the ONLY person in the gym who:
1) Writes down my sets/reps
2) Does squats at parallel or below
3) Does deadlifts with almost perfect form
4) Uses a timer to make sure I’m not lazying around
5) Wears gloves so that my hands aren’t sandpaper (my wife appreciates that)
6) Drinks a protein drink IMMEDIATELY after my workout
7) Uses biomechanical movements with bicep curls and pushdowns
8) Does overhead press with elbows forward and body firm.
9) Does HIIT
10) I can’t think of a 10th, LOL
I feel either 1) Like they look at me and laugh or 2) Like I’m doing the right things and setting an example, not being afraid to be embarrassed and sacrifice my good habits.
Great post Mark! ( when I read your statement”NO JOKE, I’m the ONLY person in the gym who” ) and it made me chuckle abit,I one of the rare few who broke parrallel on the squat, and Ilove weighted dips! keep writing those great post,keep watching family guy(Ihate to admit it but I love that show!) and keep pumping that iron! t/c
It’s a big world.
Too true, the screamers in the gym really grate me, then they throw the weight on the floor after the last rep, with a loud bang to let the whole gym know how heavy the weight was!
The “higher reps for definition” thing always drives me bonkers, as well as “cardio is efficient”.
I’m a very social person and can be a “chatterbox” sometimes among friendlies, but I generally break and do sets when the timer goes off. I’m also in training to be a Pastor, though, so it could even be expected that I can talk a lot :p.
I love using the knowledge you provide, Mark, and I’m excited to start my second TSPA cycle. I keep all the PDFs and spreadsheets on my iPhone and I use Good Reader for te PDFs and Numbers to read/record my numbers on the spreadsheets. Good Reader I think costs a couple $ and Numbers was $10, but it’s worth it to me not to have to carry a clipboard and pen with me (for space-saving purposes).
People who ask for advice and then proceed to ignore it (as if they’re asking simply to validate their own I’ll-informed decisions)
People who ignore perfect logic in favour or dogma/ tradition, i.e. People who read THT 4 and continue to use pyramids, ineffective exercises, do lots of cardio, etc :-p
This is probably my new favorite post! Good on all of you! Now wouldn’t it be great if it were all of us at the same gym? We’d all be in and out in a timely fashion. Mark, if your trend of “proper education in training” grows, please open a gym franchise and open one in Vancouver BC, call it MuscleHack. How great that would be? 🙂 That dream being said, I have to agree with Adam’s top 9, I’m right there with you. I’ve been asked by roid idiots 3times my size how I’m able to Lift so much for my size!? Hah! I tell them I don’t juice. I’m not kidding here. Another added rant, the idiot guys that walk around the gym after a bullshit set “not to failure and just stare at you and continue to walk around for 15min. WTF are you here for?? Cheers everyone.
Mark, fantastic post!
Totally agree that ‘Mens Health’ workouts are bollocks.
They make everything so complicated and confusing, so that the reader continues to read as they attempt to sift through the piles of bullshit for a nugget of truth!
Simple, high intensity, full body workouts combined with simple, high quality, complete diet is all you need.
Once you get the idea, it actually becomes difficult to see how you ever went wrong!
Thanks for the great content,
Sigh, my gears are ground by pugdy friends who think that *weightlifting* is unnatural and pointless …and then go run another half-marathon.
just a comment on anthony alley’s comment. nutrition is definitely a big part of fat loss and body comp. i dislike the continuing phrase ” you can’t outwork a crappy diet”. why not? i workout hard and reward myself by eating whatever i want and i have 6 % bodyfat at 174 pounds. and before someone says something about genetics, i used to be an obese kid. great article mark
I think you can judge the success of a post by the reaction you get back.
And boy have you got a reaction here! 🙂
Anybody ever seen a guy who comes in the gym and proceeds to do 30 mins’ of arms first and then goes on to train the the rest of the upper body not realising that you are only as strong as your weakest link. How can you lift weights with a pair of tired arms?
I’ve been training for nearly 30 years and still don’t know everything there is to know about lifting weights, so why does the guy who’s been on a weekend course to become a personal trainer keep pestering me like a stuborn fly telling me how I need to do this and that to improve?
Anybody tried the the 7 minutes a day workout on the web that I’ve seen advertised here in the uk. does it work? cos’ if it does I gonna ditch this training to failure lark co it’s too damn hard!! LOL.
Keep lifting guys and if you want to get some inspiration, take a look at some of the old lifters physiques like Steve reeves, and see real symetry not someone that has been overblown on roids who actually puts more people off from taking up the sport than anything else!
great post. I’m not a bodybuilder by any means but in the 6 weeks I’ve been doing THT i have lost fat and gained a visible amount of muscle. I’m the only guy i see with a notebook, and the only one i see timing my rest periods. even the guys with obvious ‘roid “help” don’t write anything down! that’s crazy! it’s science, dude! document!
Fat people who tell me I look muscular and they are fat because of genetics while they are shoving a Donut Into Their Fat Piehole, aka Their Mouth!!! WOW, that felt good to get off my mind. Thanks Mark.
the way i see it is that you either have it or you dont. people want results but they dont want to put in the effert even before setting foot in the gym. they are to lazy to record weights and stick to consistency, they are like lost farts in a perfume factory with no clue of what to do but yet they will tell you which is the right way to train!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! mark, this post has increased my cortisal levels..lol!!!
Can u put some article on reduction of Love handles ( gut around waist)…am getting tonned but not able to get rid of this ..please help
What grinds my gears is when people slap on extra weight, whether it be ez curl bars for their biceps or a leg press machine, then proceed to do about 1/4 the range of motion and think that they are actually completing that weight.
Then they proceed to give fitness advice to others after showing off “their great strength”.
I just want to tell him to take all the weight off and do it correctly.
What pisses me off is the amount of unwanted advice by guys who clearly do not have a clue.
For instance, the other day some guy saw me doing high pulls. In between sets he walks up to me and very piously told me I’d hurt my back doing that. Then he very graciously showed me the correct form – he taught me upright rows :/
I’ve seen all this stuff that pisses off you guys. I try to ignore it as best I can. What I can’t ignore is the bad TV they show in my gym which sometimes breaks my concentration because it’s so loud. I try channelling my anger into the workout.
I’m the only dude in my gym writing down on my log and using a stopwatch. It’s so funny when fat people tell me going to the gym 5 times per week is too much. It’s not even 5 hours per week working out and they spend 5 hours watching TV per night!!
True story, young girl doing lateral pulldowns turns 180degrees mid set to face the TV because ‘I love this song’.
Respect to you always, Mark
What grinds my gears is people who insist that cardio, especially morning fasted cardio, will cause you to lose muscle. The truth is that we all respond differently to exercise. One person might need to do more cardio than someone else just as one person might need to cut out carbs more than someone else. Yes, there are certain fundamentals that apply to all of us. But most of us have to figure out what works for us as individuals. That involves a lot of trial error. Anytime I make a change to my routine, I watch to see what happens. If that change moves me in the right direction, even if I’m breaking one of the so-called rules, I’ll stick with it. I’m willing to bet that a lot of people against fasted cardio have never even tried it because they’re paranoid about losing muscle. But really, what do you have to lose by trying it for a week or two. If you start to lose muscle, then make a change. Maybe you’re not getting enough protein. Maybe you’re just not getting enough calories. But to dismiss something outright without even trying it is foolish. Imagine if you were a woman and you kept hearing that weight training would make you bulky. Well if you listened to them and never tried it, you’d really be missing out. The bottom line is be open-minded and dare to question the supposed experts. You may find that you know your body a lot better than they do.
@Andrew. Nice list. I think it’s a really good sign that someone is serious if they are recording their reps/weight. It’s the only scientific way to know you’re making progress.
@Joe. Weighted dips are one of my favorite exercises too.
@Ross. Thanks for the “Good Reader” recommendation.
@Taylor. For real!
@Zipper. that would be awesome, bud! Hackers-only gym. No douchebags, everyone lifting with intensity, everyone friendly and helpful, and everyone in and out in an hour 🙂
@Jim. That’s exactly the game. They make it complicated and purposefully bring out new and varied routines to keep you buying.
@Graham. All good points, buddy.
@BiL. Congrats on your THT success in only 6 weeks. Just keep going!
@Mike Huber. Yep. What gets me sometimes is that people say it’s easy for me because I don’t LIKE chocolate, crisps, or sweets. YES I DO! I’d eat them all day if I could. I just don’t. I know that stuff tastes good, but I’ve got goals. I’ve just learned to live this way in order to achieve what I want. It’s a matter of priorities.
@Jason. LOL. Hope your cortisol levels are down again 😉
@shounak. You can’t spot reduce love handles. You just have to lose overall fat and your body will take it from your love handle area when it decides it’s time to do so. Unfortunate but true.
@Matt. Yep. Most gym guys that do standing cable bicep curls do 1/2 reps. The lowest point in the rep in a 90 degree arm bend. Oh well, kinda explains why their arms never change.
@Zac. Something tells me that girl wasn’t there for the right reasons.
Grinds my gears that the Facebook, Tweek, and other social networking box follows you all the way down the screen while reading articles on this site.
Please fix. Good Reads!
@rjk02. If it’s in the middle of the screen obscuring the article, you need a new browser. Get Google Chrome, it’s awesome.
Love the article, Mark! And thanks for mentioning mine! I agree with most of these posts! Hogging machines, talking, watching t.v., stinking, yelling, flexing (although I do practice my posing some leading up to competition, but usually in the unoccupied aerobics room), telling me I should lift lighter, asking my advice then jumping on the treadmill (obviously NOT
Love the article, Mark! And thanks for mentioning mine! I agree with most of these posts! Hogging machines, talking, watching t.v., stinking, yelling, flexing (although I do practice my posing some leading up to competition, but usually in the unoccupied aerobics room), telling me I should lift lighter, asking my advice then jumping on the treadmill (obviously NOT my advice)…I could go on and on!
I DO like fasting cardio early in the morning when I’m in that stage of my TSPA…don’t knock it ’til ya try it, right Dog? It actually seems to help my 1st dose of Fibro meds work longer too. BONUS!
Anyway, I guess my biggest ass chapper would be watching someone, not only, spend 45mins on the damn treadmill, but THEN go lift weights! How are possibly training with any kind of intensity after 45 mins of cardio? WTF?
O.K. I’m done! 🙂
Your article just gave me a pat in the back for cancelling my Men’s Health subscription LOL! Thanks for your help to the bodybuilding community. 🙂
@Brandi. Yeah I’ve seen that a lot. An hour of cardio, then the weights. Huh? You’re really not going to get any kind of meaningful intensity after that much cardio.
@Joey. I did the same thing many years ago 🙂