Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The embracement of softcore

If you were to judge the title of this alone, you'd probably be expecting some Skinemax Red Shoe diary type shit, where you get to see some boobs through the steamy shower scene, but ultimately leaves you feeling very unfulfilled.

No, what I am talking about in regards to embracing the softcore here is a trend I consistently see throughout the strength and physique industry.

I'm going to do my best not to paint with broad strokes here, or make overall generalizations, but it may happen.  If it does, then it does.

The past few days there has been a bit of a debate going on about a post a bikini competitor (yes, we're already talking about bikini competitors so you know this is going places) saying, literally, "it doesn't matter if you fill your calories with 10 oreos or 5 gallons of broccoli" (so long as it "fits your macros"), and that basically you can get into contest condition doing this shit.

I'm not naming said competitor because I personally don't want to give her any more ridiculous pub she's gotten from writing such nonsense.  What I want to address are two things I see, that have become a big trend in the "fitness industry".

1.  Dumb shit like "it doesn't matter if your calories come from oreos or long as it fits your macros."

I'm not sure where to start with how stupid this is.  And I don't care what some PhD loudmouth or supposed nutrition "expert" has to say about that.  The last time I checked, no one needed a fucking PhD to know that oreos and broccoli aren't the same even if you somehow lined the god damn macros line up.

Before the IIFYM crowd starts flexing their massive 13" biceps in anger, let's get this out of the way.  Flexible dieting or IIFYM can work for some people.  But let's also get another thing straight.  It works for people who know their body really well, knows how to properly manipulate their macros, and has a very good handle on how their body responds to certain foods.

In other words, if you aren't in possession of this skillset, it's fucking not for you.  Sort of like how if you're a noob, you don't need cable crossovers for your bird chest.  You might want to simply learn the basics first, and get some weight on the bar.

If you're a casual Sunday driver, you don't get into a formula 1 car because "IF IT FITS YOUR DRIVING" nerds tell you "all driving is the same because there's a steering wheel and a gas pedal."

Just stop.

Second, it may not be for you anyway.  Not everyone can be flexible in their dieting and lose bodyfat, get lean, or get into contest condition.  This isn't conjecture.  It's fact.  I'm aware of lots of people who have to be strict pretty much year around just to stay in the range of "athletic bodyfat percentage".  They have very small margins for error.  And I know some people who have much larger margins for error to maintain such shape.

If you're naturally lean, and have some raging metabolism, and you're a bikini competitor that needs to lose a whopping 9 pounds to get in stage shape?  Yeah, this shit may be right up your alley come competition time.   But it isn't a good idea tossing out such ridiculous misinformation that oreos and broccoli are some kind of fucking equal food source.  Let's just completely ignore things like the hormonal and inflammation response of foods all together because you know, all foods are equal simple based on "macros".

It's just all about macros, bro.

I know every time I've ever opened up an IFBB pros food "case" it's just a mix of Pringles and tilapia and bloomin onions from Outback Steakhouse.  Because it doesn't matter if you get your carbs from Pringles or sweet potatoes.  It's all the fucking same once it enters your body.

"You're an idiot because you don't understand flexible dieting."

No, I understand it just fine.  It all comes back to the basic principle of thermodynamics and portion control.  If you want to lose fat, you need an energy deficit.  So we're all on board with that very simple concept. It's also about not limiting your food sources and allowing yourself to have things like ice cream and cake in certain quantities IF "they fit your macros".  However there are still issues with this concept whether you like it or not.

Pretending your food sources don't matter or that all macro food sources are equal as a valid concept is mind blowing to me.

Fructose.  A carb.  Doesn't cause the pancreas to secrete insulin.  Gets stored as liver glycogen.

Glucose.  A carb.  Causes the pancreas to secrete insulin.  Gets stored as muscle glycogen.

Seeing how insulin is the most powerful hormone in the body, I think it's safe to say not all food sources, even of equal macro value, don't have the same effect on the body.

And despite the fact that I've addressed this before, fuck it, let's science this bitch out for one second.

But oreos and broccoli are the fucking same!

Fuck it, we'll follow that up with a meme........

You can save all of your links and studies and everything else that points to (cue uber white guy voice) "similar body composition changes despite different food sources with the same energy deficit."

I don't care about the 12 fat people who don't lift weights that were involved in a study where one group ate brussel sprouts for 12 weeks and the other group ate gummy bears but lost the same amount of weight because the calories were the same.

We have already addressed that.

If you're in an energy deficit, you'll lose weight.  If you're in a surplus, you'll gain weight.  The problem is, there are so many other factors in regards to what those gains and losses look like based on other factors that it doesn't become that god damn simple anymore.

Did they lose muscle mass or gain muscle mass?

Were they doing cardio, or lifting weights?

How were the macros spread out?

If it was a study done on "well trained" individuals, how advanced were they?

How hard were they training during this time?

So I don't give a shit about those studies.  At all.  The same way I really don't care about the studies that involved noobs doing 3 sets of leg extensions twice a week while results were gathered and thus, it was determined that some effect that was derived from that is now "scientific fact."

That shit has ZERO bearing on guys who are spending 2 hours a day in the gym, 5-7 days a week, and have been training for 12 years with a massive hard on about clanging and banging the steel.  None.  Nada.  Nothing.

I've read studies where they "showed factually" that fasted cardio did not improve fat loss any better than cardio that was done after eating.  But I can get you a dozen competitors that will tell you when they did fasted cardio, they showed up leaner for their shows.  Not everything done in a lab in the name of nutrition or training REALLY is science.  It's just not.  The law of individuality is too great and wide, and due to genetic potential or genetic shortcomings, there is no way to accurately predict with 100% certainty what a diet or training program will produce for every single person.

That last point is literally not debatable.

And lastly, for people who are obese, the reason why they end up gaining most of their weight back on "traditional diets" isn't because of the bullshit I've read from IIFYM proponents.  It's because they have spent time modifying the reward receptors with shitty food choices that indeed rewire the circuitry of the brain that's associated with dopamine.  Ok, we will science this shit out one more time since these people are big on linking studies.

Link -

Recent evidence now suggests that as with drug addiction, obesity with compulsive eating behaviors involves reward circuitry of the brain, particularly the circuitry involving dopaminergic neural substrates. Increasing amounts of data from human imaging studies, together with genetic analysis, have demonstrated that obese people and drug addicts tend to show altered expression of DA D2 receptors in specific brain areas, and that similar brain areas are activated by food-related and drug-related cues.

Do you think it's a good idea then, to take someone who is obese, or needs to get lean, and has an eating disorder, and still allow them to eat foods that caused the obesity in the first place?  Look, for those people it's not the same as the person who hasn't had a "cheat meal" in 3 months.  They can't eat a "slice of pizza".  They eat whole pizzas.  They literally need to spend a significant amount of time "getting clean" no different than a crack addict or an alcoholic.  Which means abstaining from those foods for a significant period of time in order to establish and cement healthy eating habits.  For those people, they don't know what portion control is.  Three oreos signals to the brain that they need to eat three bags of oreos.  Until those pathways are rewired, their ability to show restraint is going to be negligible.

My beef isn't with flexible dieting per say.  It's with people who spread such horrible information that there's no difference in oreos and broccoli.  If you could get contest shredded eating oreos do you not think that 100% of the people would do that, rather than suffer and feel like zombies for months on end all the while eating tuna and lettuce?

"Hey, I can name you these 5 guys that use IIFYM that get shredded."

Awesome.  I love the 5 guys that are 175-180 pounds in contest shape that are naturally lean with hell-fire metabolisms as examples.  This is awesome.  Tell me more, my friend.

What about that guy that can't even have a few packets of equal during the last month lest he totally screw up his conditioning?  Or the guy that can't eat carbs the week of the show for the same reason.  Or the guy that has to slam carbs just to fill out enough not to appear flat?  Or the guy that can't tolerate sweet potatoes or brown rice because they bloat him so bad?

It's just not as simple as macros.  Not at the competitive level of physique competition.  And just because one asshole ate ice cream all week and accounted for it, and won some show that consisted of 7 competitors that was held in a high school gymnasium, doesn't mean shit.

Bikini competitors weighing in on this are even worse.

I've known bikini competitors that were so genetically gifted that they were practically gym noobs and won nationally qualifying shows.  Two weeks later they are writing diet plans for people and spouting off about how they ate Taco Bell twice a week going into the show "so it does work".  Oh you also left out how your coach put you on T3, T4, clen, anavar, and arimidex for that show too.  But nevermind that.  It was the fucking Taco Bell.  That was the ticket.

Hey I have an idea.  Enter a division that requires you to have a significant level of muscle mass, and a very significant degree of extreme conditioning and get back with me on that Taco Bell and tell me how much more time you had to spend in the gym to reach THAT level.

Before someone says I'm flat out shitting on bikini competitors, I'm not.  Ok, I sort of am, but I do know of some bikini competitors that train hard, eat properly, don't espouse dumb shit, and work hard at being competitive in that division. The problem is, people don't want to hear from them.  They want to hear from the people who say "you can totally transform your body and not really change your current life style."

And that's bullshit.

Which leads me to my second major gripe/rant.

2.  The idea that dream physiques, elite level strength, or elite level performance can be attained easily.

This idea has come about due to the popularity of surge of competitors in new divisions that don't require the same amount of discipline, hard work, and suffering that other divisions do.  Even worse, those divisions have become so popular because it caters to mediocrity.

If you are getting judged on your physique, then how in the hell can that be possible when no one sees your leg development?

We have come to a point in the physique world where we put mediocrity on a pedestal, and reward what I see as averageness as something to be admired.

Someone showed me some guy on Instagram this past week with over a million followers, and I could barely tell the guy had ever picked up a weight.  The best way I could describe his physique is if you took an ironing board, and drew abs on it, then that's what we had.

And that's what young males now, apparently, "strive" for.

It's not eliteness.  It's not the unattainable.  It's the absolute average in regards to physical development.  I can find 20 guys in every gym in the world that look like that.  To me, it's like knowing there is the NFL out there, filled with elite players, playing inside a mostly empty stadium, while 70 thousand people are lining up to watch a bunch of overweight dads play flag football on the weekend.  Because hey, "I too can be a backyard flag football all star."

You know why so many young men identify with this?  Because they feel it is something they can strive for.  And because women apparently prefer that look over "grossness".

Well fuck your grossness.  Pushing the limits to me in regards to physical development was something that was always to be admired and revered.  Because it took extreme degrees of hard work, discipline, dieting, training, and desire.  The grossness was nothing more than the manifestation of those things.  In other words, the form that was created from going the extra mile that others were not willing to go.

And that's what really creates the chasm between these underwear boys and guys who are still cranking year after year in order to become more "gross".  It's an evolution of identity.  No different than Walter White went from a guy just needing a few hundred thousand dollars, to a guy that was obsessed by the feeling of power and control.

Can you imagine people celebrating a dude climbing the tallest hill in some wooded area of the backwoods of Georgia while totally ignoring the people climbing Everest and Makalu?

No one is on ESPN due to running the 100 meter dash in 22 seconds.  No.  It's Usain Bolt smashing records and killing his competition.  And his competition is fucking elite.

But the physique culture has done exactly that.  Push the easily attainable to the forefront so as to appeal to the masses.  Because while people love elite level athletes or competitors in other sports, the physique culture has grown into the opposite.  People loving the easily attainable.

Now, you can have a line out of the Arnold or Olympia expo of people waiting in line to get a pic of them with some dude that's 180 pounds with abs.  If that's not average I'm not sure what is.  And this is why "bodybuilding" has gone backwards in regards to popularity.

Even with all of that said, I personally don't care if that's what the masses want.  Let me repeat that lest someone miss that sentence.

If being 175 with abs, and a "beach body" physique is what you're after, then go for it.  Work hard for it, and be proud of it.  It's your life.  Do what makes you happy and gives you joy in regard to your training, eating, and lifestyle.  I honestly don't have an issue with this.  Different strokes for different folks, and people have to decide what really creams their Twinkie.

My main issue is, if someone is going to find themselves in that degree of notoriety, with possibly millions of followers, then they should at least be held responsible for the information they dole out in regards to training and nutrition.  No different than I am going to slam women who go get ass implants, then pretend they didn't, all the while telling other women they know how to build glutes.  Lying and being disingenuous, the last time I checked, is sort of the opposite of integrity.  But I guess that's not really that relevant anymore either.  Likes and followers are.

And here is where it all comes together.

People do want to look a certain way.  They want their dream body.  And they go out on social media and find people that have their "dream body" and hashtag shit like #physiquegoals related to these people.  Then because they have a desire to look like them, get lost in the delusion that this person somehow has the keys to the kingdom for them in regards to achieving that body.  They don't tell people they got ass implants, or that they take thyroid drugs or clenbuterol.  They say shit like "I eat pizza multiple times a week and you can too.  Stop believing you have to eat clean and be strict in order to achieve the body you want.  There's no difference in oreos and broccoli."

And people eat this shit up.  Pun intended.  Because it appeals to their belief that attaining something incredibly difficult can be done quite easily.  It appeals to the "softcore" masses.

And maybe it can be easily attainable, if you fall into that small percentage of people who had great parents that make it easy.  But for the other 99% it's going to take a lot of hard work, a great degree of suffering, and a lot more broccoli than fucking oreos.

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  1. Good info here. Unfortunately, all I read of your writing was "I have to fix this, someone was WRONG on the internet!"

    1. Then you read wrong. My point was people need to be held accountable for the information they distribute. And people need to do a better job of understanding the difference between poor information and quality information.

  2. Iifym is what other diets are all based on though it's the first principles of food. Saying you don't think iifym is good is like saying you don't agree with manipulating volume and intensity in a programme design or like you wanna do algebra without addition and multiplication it's the foundation whether you want it to be or not. A bodybuilder diet is just iifym with high carbs, low fat medium,to high protein.
    Elite physique = MOAR GEAR!!

    1. I never said IIFYM wasn't good. I literally addressed your comment in the post.

      All diets ARE macros based in regards to physique development. I said people need to stop spouting off shit like "it doesn't matter where your macros come from." Which is dumb as fuck. Again, all of this was addressed.

      And I'm sorry but elite physiques have more to do with genetics than gear. I know this FACTUALLY. I know the drug cycles of lots of elite IFBB pros. Stop repeating myths you read on the net. The fact is, at the amateur level guys use more drugs than the pros do.

  3. This is perfect! Lol. So astonishing to me how people are so naive to believe that garbage. Well done.

  4. This is perfect! Lol's astonishing to me how people can believe that garbage. This industry is filled with entitled idiots who truly have no idea about proper nutrition whatsoever. Well done.

  5. Nice Paul! It's a constant battle trying to explain to people that what works for you might not work for them. They just want easy and they don't want to take the time to figure it out.

  6. As always Paul, pure gold.

    Nice writeup and valid points.

    Unfortunately, there is no accountability system.

    I follow some fine divas on Instagram, and more often than not, they are "master trainers" or some three-letter-acronym-"certified" that I've never heard of. Always offering training and nutrition plans. Plus the dudes on there who do the same. Cookie cutter shit.

    Example: devinphysique, a Shredz "athlete" who peddles their supplements and custom nutrition/training programs. All while copying and pasting inspirational quotes. People can't wait to give him their money. Ripped to bits while eating In and Out Burger everyday, but its all from hard work and test boosters.

    Just one example. Dudes a millionaire with no integrity. Laughing all the way to the bank.

    It might sound like I'm hating, well, because I am. I suppose I have a different value system and a far different definition of what it means to be an honest human being.

  7. lmao. so peoples metabolism somehow dictate their food sources? nah metabolism dictates how many calories you need,. I will concede people will be more or less sensitive to carbs based on various genetic factors. but guess what they still can utilize IIFYM only diference is they will have difference carb and fat needs. once again chode carter you lose.

  8. Late comment here but felt compelled to say that i firmly agree with you on all this Paul,i thought i was the only one who thought like this but thankfully not....I personally believe that this "mediocrifying" of most things,especially physique standards, is due largely to Youtube nobody's who are approachable only because they are NOT physically intimidating/big/or noteworthy in any way through competition success,who attract the less knowledgeable newbies who are drawn to them because they are so easily accessible....In other words : Who do you think is most easily available to ask free questions of?...E.G. Dennis James or Lui Marco?

  9. Paul you know that answer has always been, moar tren.

  10. - This Is Gold. And Everyone Disagreeing Missed The Point Or Got Defensive Somewhere In The Part About Putting Mediocrity On A Pedestal. Everything Was Clear And Fortified With Facts. Best Thing I've Read.