I couldn’t believe what I heard at the gym this morning!! I am currently in Tulum, Mexico and found this cool, albeit 80’s vibed gym, tucked around the corner from our Air BnB.
I was in there minding my own business, cranking out some #swoleexercises when I overheard the conversation between the couple next to me. The guy was showing her how to do a Bicep Curl. For the record the explanation itself confused me.
Cute I thought – couples that train together stay together right? Isn’t that how it goes on those Memes?
After this thorough explanation she went to pick up the 5 kg DB’s and he said to her, and I quote verbatim
“No, no put those down, you will get too bulky – use the smaller ones”
Gobsmacked. Like What The Actual Fk?
I didn’t know whether to laugh at the fact that I had heard that statement come out of his mouth or upset that this stupidity still exists. My inside voice was screaming at him.
She then picked up the lighter, smaller Dumbbells and proceeded to do 20 repetitions. She went so fast I thought she was going to take off.
Now, here’s the thing. Not only was this a dumb statement to say, it was also the wrong prescription for her. From my position I could see how hyper mobile her elbows were. I made an educated guess that she would score high on the hyper mobility scale (based off me making an assessment on the way she was standing and moving in general).
The last thing this unsuspecting woman needed was to perform those repetitions at a lighter load.
I’m sure this dude had good intentions for his lady (I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here), but even the best intentions can have a negative impact.
He said one of the most damaging sentences that a woman can hear. Who knows how deep that may have affected her psychologically. And for the record what does ‘bulking up’ even mean?. It is such a subjective term that what is considered ‘bulky’ for one woman may not be for another.
Yet the message that he was sending was loud and clear – “Don’t go heavier and put on muscle as I won’t find you attractive” (or a similar variation of that).
Of course I am not a mind reader, so I can’t peer into the inner workings of his brain, but that simple sentence carries a sentence for her esteem. You would think that in 2017 this flippant remark would be on it’s way out, apparently not.
The physical consequences of that statement are obvious – she will be causing damage to her joints. What she needs to do to protect her joints is to add more load, slow down the movement and focus on stability and control.
Hypermobile joints are more prone to subluxation, dislocation and/or muscle tendinopathies because the joint lacks optimal stabilisation.
Obviously this was not what he was thinking when prescribing her HIS way of performing the Bicep Curl.
Understandably many women trust their partner when it comes to gym stuff. It is a great activity to do together and having your Boo, BAE (or whatever else you call them) there for motivational support is a wonderful thing.
But, it is well worth seeking the advice of a qualified professional first. Hire a fit pro who will take you through a thorough movement assessment, then writes you an individualised training program based off the assessment results.
This enlightening information can then be taken into training time with BAE.
BUT, if you are new to the gym it is very difficult to know whether your partner is a source of good information or not. This is why it is important to know the top 10 things a Brofessor or Broexpert will say and do.
As outlined in Muscle And Strength
“If you’re not familiar with this commonly used fitness terminology, consider this succinct definition from nutritional wizard and broscientist expert, Alan Aragon:
“Broscience is the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.”
Essentially, it’s any piece of advice that has been handed down each decade from bench happy meatheads to their eager Padawans who have been half squatting since their first day under the bar.”
A Broexpert or Brofessor is the vehicle for the Broscience and unfortunately the gym is rampant with them. Many of them well meaning, fathers, brothers, friends, work colleagues, husbands and partners.
Before I dive into the list I would like to make one thing very clear.
No matter how broexpert your boyfriend/partner is please see a professional who can give you correct exercise explanation and prescription.
You may THINK that he knows what he’s talking about because he’s great at using jargon and ‘gym-speak’ but the chances are he’s making shit up to try and impress you.
You wouldn’t take medical advice from a person who relies on Dr Google would you? Hmmmm – would you? (please tell me you wouldn’t).
1. Tells everyone how to train (even though he may not be a Fit Professional)
2. Will tell you that lifting heavy weights will make you bulky. So you need to go lighter for more reps (15+ reps – gotta hit that ‘toning’ zone ya know)
3. Will encourage you to do the same routine that he does every.single.time, which inevitably means arms, back, abs and yep more arms. In other words the mirror muscles.
4. Encourages you to do these specific exercises as main leg exercises: Side Clams, Donkey Kicks and Glute Bridging at high volumes, for example 4 x 20-25 reps of everything, without ever suggesting you Deadlift, Leg Press or Squat.
5. Tells you that you need to ingest at least 2 – 2.4 gm/kg of Protein day, minimise carbohydrate intake (never let bread pass your lips), and eat every 2-3 hours to stoke your metabolism.
6. Believes in the ‘longer is better’ mentality. Stay in the gym punching out reps for at least 90 minutes at a time
7. Puts you on a solid supplementation routine – one that consists of Creatine, BCAA’s, Protein Powders (but only the special ‘women’s specific’ type with the pretty colours on the packaging), Fat Burners, Pre-Workout and Magnesium.
8. Recommends fasted cardio for enhanced fat loss
9. Reads all the latest Mens Health, Mens Muscle & Fitness Magazines and follows tons of jacked up dudes on Instagram
10. Has an overly inflated level of confidence in his ability to convey Broscience yet will not do any real science research
11. Insists you check out his muscle striations in the mirror
How does your wo/man stack up?
Between 1 – 3 in this list = Budding Broexpert (you still have time to turn him around)
Between 3 – 6 in this list = Intermediate Broexpert (Cultivating his BS *Broscience/Bullshit; he’s getting in deep)
Between 7 – 11 in this list = Bonafide Brofessor of Broscience (Nothing can save him now)
Honestly, it’s hard to say what to do about your man’s/gym buddy’s score. Unless he recognises that he is a Broexpert and wants to change it then you can’t change him. The only thing you can do is change yourself.
If you are someone who is new to the gym or you haven’t taken the time to get yourself clued up about your body then do so (here’s a link to an article that outlines the 5 Biggest Lies The Fitness Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know). It is YOUR body on the line here.
One of the best things I have noticed when working with women in this space is the sense of empowerment felt when a woman takes full responsibility for her body, in and out of a gym.
Amazing things happen when women invest time and energy into learning about how their body works, discovering what their body is capable of, and embarking on a journey of personal strength. It is badassery all round.
No-one is telling them that they can’t pick up a heavier weight because it will make them bulky (ah, thanks but NO thanks Broexpert).
Take ownership of your body. Explore it’s potential. Gift yourself sessions with PT’s or coaches to teach YOU how to maximise your results (according to your body’s ability). Join and follow women-centric FB groups that will support and guide you (for example Girls Gone Strong).
The more you learn about the inner workings of your body the more confident you will become. I totally get how overwhelming and scary it is to walk into a gym for the first time, and have NO idea where to start. But everyone has to start somewhere right?
Consistent action creates success. No matter what result you want to achieve in the gym it comes through consistent effort. When you are clued about, it comes faster.
I’d like to think that the women from this morning went home and said to her man “Hey babe, thanks for helping me out this morning but from now on, I’ve got this”. This is unlikely, but it’s the happy ending I’ve created from this story.
Also, as a parting note, for those of you who have a partner who happens to be a qualified professional I recommend you seek out the advice of a different professional.
I know that it is tempting to listen to them and not have to pay for someone else, but you deserve to have someone focus on you through the lens of a professional and not a lover. Just a thought.
P.S . If you need a little jumpstart and want to learn what should be included in a well balanced training program then click the button below. I have written a complete training program that includes strength sessions, intervals, a circuit and LSD session.
Nardia is an Australian Institute of Fitness ‘Legend’, Fitness Network Personal Trainer of the year 2014, course creator, international presenter and part time comedian (in her lounge room).
She loves helping women in fitness create stronger businesses so they can have more money, flexibility and impact.
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