Saturday, May 23, 2009

The quick fix

Recently, I read a post on T-nation on training myths.  This mythbuster post made the claim that steroids are overrated and that they don't do nearly as much as most people thinks.  That's an interesting claim, especially coming from a site with a heavy body building slant.  Turns out that I actually agreed with the assessment after I read through the explanation.

Steroids are useful (for the bodybuilder/athlete/etc) for building muscle mass, but there's a big caveat for maximizing the positive effects.  If you're not already working out hard and eating smart, the 'roids probably won't do that much.  It would be akin to putting racing tires on a car with a 4-cylinder engine; the tires may be great, but they don't make up for the fact that the core (engine) of the car sucks.

That got me to thinking about how people are always looking for the quick fix.  There's no substitute for effort.  Even geniuses need to work hard to attain greatness (though it may come easier for them than the average person).  Similar to steroids would be sports supplements IMHO.  They don't do much except fill the coffers of supplement companies unless you're actually training hard enough to need them.

I was talking to one guy in the gym who was asking about which protein shake was the best to take to gain muscle mass.  Fair question (even though not one I'm well equipped to answer being that I don't actually buy those things).  Turns out upon further questioning that he doesn't eat breakfast, eats irregular meals, doesn't even do strength training on a regular schedule, and only does exercises which hit small muscles.  You're just not going to gain any appreciable muscle with poor eating habits, an irregular training schedule, and poor exercise choices.  He shouldn't have even bothered with protein shakes until he took care of the basics.  He totally fell for the quick fix marketing of the protein shake.

My parents shared a Chinese adage with me (which I've heard again from a third party, so I'm confident they weren't making this one up): an idiot who works hard will surpass the lazy genius.  In their own Asian work ethic way were trying to teach me that there's just no substitute for effort.  You can work smarter and find ways to facilitate a process, but in the end there's no quick fix for achieving anything you truly value.

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