I was chatting to a guy in the gym the other day.
He showed me a few pages that he’d torn out of a fitness magazine.
“I want to look like that guy,” he told me, pointing to a picture of a fitness model.
“So I’m following his routine.”
Which, of course, makes perfect sense.
Mr Fitness Model has spent many years figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
He’s gone through the trial and error, so you don’t have to.
Success leaves clues, as the old saying goes.
So if you want to look like Mr Fitness Model, then you should do what he does.
Or should you?
For one, you don’t know how long he’s been training, and what type of training he’s done over the years.
The routine he followed to get where he is now may be very different to routine he’s doing at the moment.
Is the routine laid out in the magazine an accurate description of what he’s doing in the gym?
Did our man tell the magazine writer a few fibs just to impress some people?
Did the magazine writer make stuff up to impress his editor, so that the routine sounded new, different or exciting?
What are his genetics like?
Some people have very favorable muscle building genetics, and will build muscle a lot faster than those who don’t, even when following the same routine and diet.
Is he on the sauce?
You can’t take a routine used by someone on gear and assume that you’ll get the same results by following the same program. It’s not going to happen.
You also need to consider a phenomenon known as the survivorship bias.
There may very well be thousands of people who have followed the exact same program (or one like it), and didn’t get the same results.
But you’re never going to hear about them, because nobody wants to read about that kind of thing.
In other words, you’re much more likely to hear about the successes than the failures, which gives you a distorted picture about the effectiveness of a particular diet or exercise program.
From entrepreneur James Clear:
“Survivorship bias refers to our tendency to focus on the winners in a particular area and try to learn from them while completely forgetting about the losers who are employing the same strategy.
“There might be thousands of athletes who train in a very similar way to LeBron James, but never made it to the NBA. The problem is nobody hears about the thousands of athletes who never made it to the top.
“We only hear from the people who survive. We mistakenly overvalue the strategies, tactics, and advice of one survivor while ignoring the fact that the same strategies, tactics, and advice didn’t work for most people.”
Those are just some of the reasons I like looking at the research on diet and exercise, rather than focusing on the the results of any one individual, or even a handful of people.
You get a much better idea about what contributed to the success of a particular diet or training methodology, what had a neutral effect, and what (if anything) was detrimental.
SEE ALSO: THE FLAT BELLY CHEAT SHEET
If you want less flab and more muscle when you look down at your abs (or where they should be), check out The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet.
It's a “cut the waffle and just tell me what to do” PDF, written in plain English, that tells you exactly how to get rid of belly fat. To download a free copy please click or tap here.
ABOUT CHRISTIAN FINNChristian Finn holds a master's degree with distinction in exercise science, is a former personal trainer and has been featured on BBC TV and radio, as well as in Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Fit Pro, Zest, and Perfect Body magazine.