Is anything more useless than the “form check”?

I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea to post videos of squats and deadlifts on the internet to get a “form check”. This almost always turns out to be the blind leading the blind, and even when it isn’t, has anyone actually made their form “better” by reading a list of generic form cues? What does “better” even mean? Do people even have a benchmark in mind when they ask for advice, or are they just giving in to their own neuroses?

“Better form” is the leprechaun of internet fitness communities. Want a better squat? Get under the bar and practice it until you can handle over double body weight. Better pull? Pick the thing up. Figure out how your body wants to move under load. It can move just fine without “expert” biomechanical advice. Doing the thing and paying attention to what happens is more valuable than any internet checklists.

The Limits In Your Head (CNS Fatigue)

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“The CNS recovers in 12-24 hours after a workout”. What does that even mean? What’s recovering? What got tired in the first place? Nobody talking about the trendy subject of “CNS fatigue” ever seems to know, and being skeptical as I am of the outrageous-sounding, my suspicion is that the shroud of mystery is hiding voodoo — or just plain old ignorance. We already know that “fitness people” typically have a grasp of biology somewhat less than what you’d expect from a middle-school science education, which lets them speak of “toxins” hiding away in your body, or with a belief that genes “evolve for” certain types of foods found only in organic supermarkets.

Unfortunately even many who come through exercise science programs come out thinking of the human body as a Mr. Potatohead, just a bunch of pieces that happen to stick together and do stuff. Biology is not a rigid machine obeying a clear set of formal rules. Think storm. Think global economy. Complex, nonlinear, exponential.

Central fatigue is nevertheless a real and observable phenomenon, and I was recently pointed at an article, The Race Against Time, which neatly sums up how it applies to sport.

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Louie Simmons on Bodybuilding

I was going to call this “Westside for Bodybuilders” but I didn’t want Louie, Dave Tate, and Jim Wendler making a funny YouTube video about me, or kicking my ass. And they’d be right to do it, really: this isn’t “Westside for” anything. This is a program based on the principles that Louie Simmons popularized at his Westside Barbell club.

This came from an old issue of the now-defunct Peak Training Journal where Louie was discussing how he went about training IFBB Pro bodybuilder Mike Francois (allegedly, as I haven’t been able to track down an original copy of this article, I’m going by faith that the Internet hasn’t lied to me).

The influences of Louie’s more widely known Westside Barbell System are obvious, and following with his entire philosophy: an athlete must be strong to be effective. All other qualities flow from strength, and then it’s simply a matter of filling in the weak points. Weak points, in this instance, refer to anywhere the athlete is lacking.

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