19 Year Old Motivational Teen Body Transformation | SKINNY TO SHREDDED
How #fitspiration makes you weak
Motivation is hard to muster when you’re crawling out of bed at 6am. But social media serves as a pocket-sized PT; a quick scroll through Instagram’s #fitspiration stream and you’re bombarded by physiques you should emulate and the slogans that built them. Suddenly, hitting the gym becomes easier, right?
Well, probably not. Your #fitfam is meant as a hub of inspiration. But the reality is that each double-tap on cobblestone abs, or that motivational slogan plastered over a sunset, could be causing your fitness fails. Unlike.
You know damaged muscles grow back bigger, so hurting means it’s working. Ergo, the more it hurts, the more it works.
Well, that burning you feel in your sixth superset is lactic acid building up in failing muscles. “It’s the body’s safety mechanism to signal that you’re reaching the point of exhaustion,” says Fitness First Baker Street’s Rishe Sundaram. Go a couple of reps through this pain and – with the right recovery – gains will come.
But contrary to your Twitter feed’s claims, pain isn’t “weakness leaving the body”. It’s a response to danger evolved over millennia that warns you when you need to change what’s happening – be it sticking your hand on a soldering iron or labouring under a barbell – or end up in A&E. Ignore these red lights and you won’t get stacked. But you might get your knees sliced open and six months on crutches. #NoPainNoGainNoACL.
The #fitfam version of those posters your manager hangs around the office, these motivational slogans tend to focus more on battling through discomfort than cats hanging from trees. Although they’re just as unlikely to fire up your will to work.
“Narcissistic types have the tendency to spread these messages and manipulate their audience for approval and attention,” says health psychologist Joanne Lusher, meaning every like pumps their egos as much as their biceps. But for anyone without hours a day to dedicate to Instagrammable training, these quotes are often unattainable. Which means instead of hitting the squat rack, you do the opposite – nothing.
“This can lead to pessimism, low self-efficacy, depression, anxiety, hostility and an external locus of control, all of which are significant predictors of the onset of illness and disease,” says Lusher. We’re yet to see those hashtags trending.
Whether it’s Rio 2019 or a physique for the Copacabana, goals are the grease that keeps your regime turning. Without them, it’s tough to muster the motivation to fight skipped sessions and sub-par performances. But there’s a limit; as Olympic athletes know, overtraining builds the same body as ditching the gym entirely.
No one told your #gymspiration PT. Elite athletes can log back-to-back training because they recover with massage and ice baths – not eight hours at their desk. That burning in your biceps is your body’s safety light; it’s telling you it’s damaged and is now in repair mode. Working it too early risks soreness becoming more serious.
“Because you try and avoid the pain, you'll perform moves in the incorrect way,” says Sundaram. “Take this half-healed muscle through the same movements that tore it in the first place and you’ll lose the ability to maintain correct technique.” Without rest days, muscle never regrows. Prepare to be both sore and sorry.
Deep squats build more muscle. The bigger range of movement recruits more fibres, spiking growth. But there’s a caveat your social media gurus don’t mention – you need perfect form to drop below 90 degrees.
“Most of us are tight in our hips so, as you lower your arse to the grass, you won’t be able to keep your back straight,” says Sundaram. No hashtag can counter hip flexors that are shorter than your commitment to HIIT.
“Your ankles drop in, which results in your knee dropping in, wearing and tearing the middle side of both joints,” warns Sundaram. Your hips rotate inwards and become unstable and, regardless of the weight on your shoulder, “you’ll round your back and lower back, and round your shoulders forward, losing your proper posture.” You can’t get gains in traction.
In the UK, only 2% of men suffer from food allergies. That number’s dwarfed by bloggers advising you slash everything from gluten to dairy from your diet, until it’s hard to pick up a sandwich without thinking you’re killing yourself. As a rule, these musings don’t stem from qualified minds; food bloggers with scientific backgrounds are as common as those who aren't pretty white girls. Just because their advice works for them, it probably won't for you.
Take Deliciously Ella’s, whose recipes stem from her diagnosis with postural tachycardia syndrome. If you aren’t similarly afflicted, cutting dairy, gluten, soy, rye, wheat and meat limits your diet and can cause nutritional imbalances that actually make you ill. They certainly won't help you build muscle.
More insidious are stories like blogger Belle Gibson, who claimed her veg-heavy diet cured brain cancer. But her diagnosis was a lie that gave those actually facing the disease false hope, and potentially deadly advice to ditch lifesaving medicine in favour of kale.
At best, this culinary advice is anecdotal – at worst, it's dangerous. So eat balanced and don't sweat your cheat days – just keep that Big Mac off Instagram.
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