Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Experts" and what really matters

I used to dabble in the stock market.

I would do all the shit most people do, and research various stocks and look at projections and keep up with the ebb and flow of the market each day.

I'd win some here, lose a lot there.  You know, the usual shit for a day trader who didn't know his head from his ass.

I have a very solid feeling I'm not alone in that regard.  My guess is, a great majority of guys that have done day trading don't do as well as they would hope, and aren't having their Bentley detailed at this very moment because of their prowess as a day trader.

I never considered myself to be that smart about all that shit.  Despite the fact that I spent hours and hours researching and studying about it.  Mainly because I've always felt like being good at something was proven through the manifestations of that knowledge.  If I were really smart about stocks like say Warren Buffet is, then I'd have made a lot of money.

I had a close friend that fancied himself to be very educated in the stock market.  His knowledge and research surpassed my own by a country mile.  Yet his success in regards to making money in that field didn't look a whole lot different.

That's the funny thing about knowledge isn't it?  Unless you can prove that it's applicable, sustainable, repeatable, and that it flat out "works", what good is it?

There's been a huge shift lately in the strength and physique culture, where guys that are incredibly educated are being put at the forefront as experts in their fields because of studies and research.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against studies at all.  In fact, I read tons of them.  And at times, I do learn a thing here or there.  I'm not knocking science or studies here.  Studies are fine.  Knowledge is always a great thing.

However my issue is, "where is the money to show for how smart they are at trading stocks?"

"Experts" that claim to have all the answers in regards to hypertrophy, that have no appreciable amount visible muscle mass.

"Experts" that talk about their knowledge in strength development, who aren't much stronger than the average gym bro that's curling and benching all week.

"Experts" rocking a greater than 20% bodyfat, that have never been lean a day in their life who can tell you what it takes to "get shredded."

If a virgin told me that he had learned all the secrets of love making and seducing women because he picked the brain of the thousand best love makers in the world I'd still look at him and say "you've still never been laid."  He may "know" that the average woman wants to have sex two to four times a week at 35 minutes a shot (I'm totally making that statistic up) but if he can't perform at those levels because a lack of experience is preventing him from it, then that knowledge isn't doing him a lot of good.  In other words, he can't speak of his experience with that knowledge because he doesn't have it.  Not only that, maybe he finds out that the women he is with want sex more, or less.  Both in frequency and duration, and those studies don't really apply.

Having knowledge is not enough.   There is that massive, massive hands on component that allows you to distinguish between what looks good on paper and what works in reality.  If you don't have that part of it all, and that experience with it...then sorry, but your advice is useless to me.  Some people may not like that but that's really just how it is.

I will give you an example.

A program or routine may get used in a study to show massive hypertrohpy as a result of its use.  But if the majority of the people that use it find it mind numbing boring, most won't stick to it for very long.  A very big part of training for most people is in fact, the enjoyment of it.  After all, people that don't enjoy doing something won't keep doing it for very long most of the time, unless they are totally into self loathing.  A training methodology generally has to resonate with the person using it.  People end up sticking to certain programs or sets and rep schemes because at the most basic level, they like it.  And there's something to be said for that part of training.

A while back I did 100 rep sets of barbell curls.  Well I read that it shouldn't work, and had no merit, and basically that is was "stupid".  You know what?  My arms grew.  And grew fast.  And there were a lot of guys that tried it, but never did it long enough to see the results from it.  You know why?  Because they hated it.  It was painful.  And at times, very monotonous. If a study had been done to show that 100 rep barbell curls were the single most superior way to build big biceps fast, it doesn't mean everyone is going to do it.  More times than not, people gravitate in life and in training to things that speak to them.  Not things proven in studies.

I mean, at some point you have to just lay the fucking studies and text aside and go into the gym and kick your own ass for years on end.  That's where you're going to find your own personal knowledge.

So as not to leave anyone out, I can't just single out the "experts" in their field as the sole violators of this issue.

Message boards are even worse, really.  Full of guys that understand physiology and kinesiology to a degree that would make a well qualified Physical Therapist blush with embarrassment through their master copy/paste skills.  All the while sporting 13" arms and 315 pound max squats, with less than 5 years of training under their belt.

These same neophytes spend their days arguing with or berating guys who are strong, have the experience and the knowledge, but scoff at what they write or say because....well, I honestly don't completely know.  To argue for the sake of arguing, maybe?  Pick apart a single sentence in an entire article?  Their life sucks?  Who knows.  All I know is, if back when I started I had the access to the knowledge those guys do today, I probably wouldn't have spent time arguing on the net with guys that had paid their dues, and understand what works.  But most people don't really want to be educated.  They just want to be "right".

Now let me be clear about the flip side of things as well.  Just because a dude is jacked or strong doesn't mean he's knowledgeable or "wise" either.  I want to be very clear on that.  I have said this many times in the past.  Just because a guy is elite level strong, or pro-bodybuilder level big, doesn't mean he's going to have the keys to the muscular and strength kingdom.  Ronnie Coleman probably isn't going to be able to relate to the guy that busted his ass for 10 years to gain 20 pounds of lean mass.  Ronnie grew from virtually anything he did.  So I'm not sure what he could offer to a guy on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to building muscle mass.  In all honestly, probably not a whole lot.

The guy that can step onto a track, and bust off a 10 second 100 meter the first time he tries it doesn't have some secretive insight as how to run fast.  He just does.

A guy doesn't need to be an elite world record holder in order to know and understand what it takes to get strong, however.  But I do believe that he should have an appreciable level of strength.  And a guy that talks about what it takes to get big, should have an appreciable level of mass.

The fact is, an "expert" in his field needs a bit of all of the things listed above.  Knowledge, experience, application, and the ability to mesh all of those qualities together to really understand the process of what delivers results.  Simply said...he or she simply knows what "works".  After all, isn't knowing what works what REALLY matters?

Guys who know very little tend to believe they know a whole lot.  But argue more than everyone else.  The "expert" probably doesn't consider himself an expert at all.  That's because the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know as much as you thought you did.

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  1. still butthurt over me calling out that poliquin rubbish you posted i see. go tell alan aragon and lyle mcdonald that they dont know anything about building muscle because they arent jacked. pfft. you might be good with strength training paul, but from your discussion on the LRB fb page the other day where your only argument was "do you even lift!?!", its clearly evident that you dont know much about nutrition

    1. Come back and see me when you can bench 3 plates.

    2. Ha, ha Lyle McDonald, are you kidding me?

    3. You have to ignore that guy. He benches 285 and weighs 185 and you can't even tell he trains and he runs around on the net arguing with experts. Not even joking. He's literally the kind of dumbass I was writing about here.

    4. You'd think he could find a better way to occupy his time, very sad - I really can't get my head round it though but as they say don't judge a man till you have walked a mile in his shoes.

    5. Well when I tried post pics of guys who "even lift bro" that eat poptarts on the daily and are shredded to fucking bits paul wouldn't let the comments post. Since I disagreed with him on fitting foods in your macros not being cheat meals. Please tell Alberto Nunez who walks around with feathered quads that he's doing it wrong

    6. Totally missing the point that there will always be exceptions to every rule. You think there are any IFBB pros that will step on stage in a few weeks that have been eating pop tarts? And as I noted, I actually asked Shelby Starnes if he trained a single client that way and he flat out said "no."

    7. ronnie coleman, ben pakulski and dexter jackson, are just 3 IFBB pros that i can think of off the top of my head that use(d) IIFYM, with ronnie and dexter even using it during their prep! although dexter preferred kfc to pop tarts and ronnie seemed to prefer burgers and fries with shitloads of sauce! and here's another one:
      and in the natural world, layne norton was and still is a massive promoter of IIFYM, except his favourite was ice cream!

      not that that is even solid proof that something works, but to you paul it seems to be cos "those guys are big and shredded!!".
      i tell you what im sick of - arguing with meatheads that often train/eat suboptimally but because they are on steriods get better results than others and therefore people believe that the way they do things is most optimal. and then those same guys putting people down who are weaker/smaller than them. pathetic.

      not surprised he deleted your comments tag2393, he banned me from posting on his page when i called out some terrible nutrition advice that he had no answer for. such a copout.

      paul, i agree that experience and application are crucial elements to being an expert, but first and foremost is knowledge, something you are clearly lacking in regards to nutrition. please do yourself a favour and read up on this stuff -

    8. When you start mentioning Layne Norton you lose me. And I literally sit and talk with guys that are experts in nutrition all day. There are different ways of doing things, and the fact is, most IFBB pros do not do IIFYM. They don't. I don't need to go on the net and read. I actually talk to these guys, and the fact is often what you read on the net and what people do are not the same. Someone wrote that they worked with Shelby and he had them doing IIFYM and I talked to Shelby personally and he denied things like poptarts and such for contest prep. Go to the source and talk to people and you'll actually get a very different viewpoint.

      You listed off a bunch of steroid users, then complain about steroid users. Are you bi polar?

    9. Why the beef with Layne Norton? A natural guy who walks the walk, competes in both BB and PL and is ripped as hell? Isn't he exactly the kind of guy the above post implies you should listen to - "knowledge, experience, application, and the ability to mesh all of those qualities together to really understand the process of what delivers results"?

      "And a guy that talks about what it takes to get big, should have an appreciable level of mass."

      Mostly agree with this, although there are noteworthy exceptions (but that's what they are... exceptions).

    10. Because Layne is obnoxious and espouses shit like "metabolic damage" which is fucking laughable. That and the IIFYM bullshit.

    11. there are a videos out there of ronnie eating 'junk' and ben talking about using iifym in the offseason so im not just getting my info from reading stuff on the internet.
      and i only mentioned those steroid users as they seem to be the only people big enough for you to listen to! i agree that metabolic damage is rubbish (there is no evidence for it), but he exemplifies the fact that you can get absolutely shredded eating "junk food".
      this is one of shelby's clients - IFBB pro Scott Turner:
      from his fb page - "I train hard and lift heavy weights because I eat like shit. Pizza, Taco Bell, and Oreos are a normal daily snack for me pretty much year 'round. That's My Lifestyle."
      whats the deal with that? kind of goes against what you are saying.
      while shelby might be a great coach, i think he might not be as strong on the 'knowledge' side of things compared to people like alan aragon. he clearly has gained a lot of insights through experience and application, but it appears that he has no formal education in nutrition (but instead he has a bachelor of psychology).
      whereas alan has a bachelor and masters in nutrition, has coached numerous elite athletes/bodybuilders, written books in nutrition, lectures in nutrition, and has put out a bunch of studies on nutrition. and he lifts! but probably not up to your standards. he is clearly a better blend of knowledge, experience, and application... and he promotes IIFYM!!
      even your mate John Meadows loves his work - "thanks Alan! I am a member on your site and love the stuff you are putting out! Keep up the awesome work"
      just saying

    12. Shelby's own words is that he doesn't include junk in people's precontest diet. go ask him for the love of god.

    13. "Because Layne is obnoxious and espouses shit like "metabolic damage" which is fucking laughable."

      Laughable - according to whom? Layne's credentials are no better or worse than Shelby's. I don't know him personally, so can't say if he's obnoxious or not, but that's... sort of beside the point, is it not?

    14. Not to me. If you're going to constantly spout off about something like metabolic damage, when it's a completely made up theory, then I may not care for that.

      Second, I can dislike anyone I please. Lots of people don't like me. We don't all have to like each other.

    15. Absolutely.

      I guess I was just trying to say I (personally) wouldn't dismiss the knowledge of experience of people who are considerably more relevant in certain fields than I am, just because I didn't 'like' them. Then again, we don't all have to agree on that either.

    16. Jesus Christ, if you fuckers want to eat like a lazy motherfucker, just go ahead and stuff your face full of poptarts and ice cream all day and call it a diet. There's no need to keep finding excuses for it; go ahead and eat shit all day and lie to yourself that that's the SECRET that's finally gonna get you big.

      To the guy that keeps saying Scott Turner and Ronnie Coleman does/did IIFYM, learn how to goddamn read. A SNACK doesn't mean a whole day of eating shit. That's called a CHEAT MEAL. Now if you want to lie to yourself and say that's IIFYM go ahead and do it. Let's see how you end up in a year when another fad diet comes around; I'll be curious to find what goddamn excuse you'll find then.

    17. LOL that's what I think about these guys that defend these fad diets to the teeth. And they are ALWAYS small and weak. Without FAIL.

    18. bahahahaha dreadnought u have made it very clear that you have no idea what IIFYM actually means. please tell me more about how counting your carbs, protein and fat is a fad diet. i eagerly await your insightful reply :)

    19. You mention Alan Aragon above but he had a video discussion with Omar Isuf on youtube about how IIFYM is not a diet and was never intended as such. Some dude took something he read online, put his own spin on it and just ran with it

    20. I couldn't agree more. Martial arts is another good example for refuting these types of arguments. Who would you rather learn from the pot bellied master/expert who can break every wooden board, has written books and won't shut up about chi? Or the hard looking guy with giant fists who doesn't say a lot about credentials but still loves to spar?
      Like you say the issue with lifting is people are looking for the secret that will turn them into the next Kirk Karwoski so they turn to whoever will give them any advice, then scream about it and others go along with it. Did Bruce Lee look for a secret to become what he was? No, he told the current experts they were wrong, used common sense and just worked hard

    21. james craig wtf are u talking about? how have i put my own spin on anything? i have never once tried to define IIFYM in this thread! i agree, it is not a diet. it is simply the idea that consuming a small amount of perceived 'junk food' as part of your diet is not going to have any detrimental effect on your body composition as long as your are hitting your ideal macronutrient amounts, as well as consuming enough fibre and micronutrients. to do this properly, you wont be able to eat crap all day! now please tell me what is wrong with IIFYM, considering you NOW know what i mean by it (and what anyone who actually understands the nutritional tenets behind IIFYM means by it)

    22. I never said you put your own spin on it, I said some dude i.e. the dude who was apparently being given some advice online a few years back and took it the wrong way, which lead to IIFYM partly being viewed as it is today. I have no idea who this person was. And also I started the post by addressing you directly because the post was aimed at you. I did not then switch to referring to you in the third person in the following sentence because that would make it seem like I was then addressing a new audience. Which is not true, it was a reply to you.
      Regarding IIFYM, just try and eat healthy man. Is it not easier to make the effort to eat healthily than trying to find some quick route?

    23. gotcha! i do eat healthy my man. lots of lean meat, fruit/veg, wholegrains, etc. i just happen to enjoy less nutrient-dense foods like slushies and lollies as well! so i eat them in moderation (and within my macros). why restrict yourself when there is no evidence to show that including foods like this as a small part of your diet has any effect on health and/or body composition as long as you meet your fibre and micronutrient needs. gotta live a little ;)... and plus it helps me massively in meeting my caloric needs. hard to get 550g carbs all from brown rice/oats!!

  2. Great article as always, Paul.

    I particularly liked the part about the need to find that program that speaks to you. I know after having used Smolov last year to peak, facing the inevitable drop-off, and now running a Bulgarian-inspired approach to get my lifts back/slightly above where they were, I am very much in that boat right now.

    Having been a long-time reader, what I really struggle with is that requisite "buy-in" despite all of the testimonials your athletes are rightfully boasting of (given the contrarian style of programming that has worked for me in the past).

    Sorry if this is coming off as my attempting to hi-jack your post. I am simply expressing what resonated with me and, as always, wanted to thank you for everything you put out there, Paul.

  3. I would also add that science is to be taken with an extra grain of salt when it is 'exercise science'. IN good medical studies, two large groups of people (can be 1000's in each group) are randomized to treatment and intervention (say a cancer drug), with other variables controlled for, and then followed for 10-20 years to see mortality differences. And they still have difficulty observing concrete differences and are very careful about making inferences until the findings are replicated and then also observed in the real world through post-drug release marketing. And many of the studies still turn out to be BS. So to think that small studies with short follow-up and weak design in muscular or strength development (which, as you always mention, is a long-term thing) are to be taken with a bucket of salt, and much skepticism, and should pass the real world test before being taken too seriously. Still some knowledge in there, as you want to combine what experimental evidence does exist with practical findings, but should be used carefully. It is just not practical to enroll vast amounts of men and/or women in long controlled studies- heck there is such limited funding to do that for cancer research, it certainly would never be wasted on body building findings.

  4. These important topics need to be discussed in detail on the next podcast! So when the fuck's it gonna be?!

  5. Was reading a few articles and enjoying them but you lost me with this older post and some of the comments. You cite Shelby Starnes who has basically dismissed the idea for even including carbs pre contest (if you read his VLCD book) and seem to have a misguided view on how IIFYM (I hate that term) actually works.

    Also like previous commenter said you can think Layne is a tool but how can you dismiss his credentials? He also corrected himself on even using the term "metabolic damage" and his lack of science based theory on it, is very similar to a lot of "theories" or anncedeotal evidence based articles you wrote.

    1. I don't have a misguided view of how IIFYM works at all. Second, just because someone has some letters behind their name doesn't mean they are real world knowledgable. The reason that Layne backtracked on his theory was because he was taken to school by a bunch of other experts over how stupid it was. The fact that you support IIFYM and Layne in the same comment tells me a lot.