If you follow fitness online, specifically on YouTube, you might want to know who the worst fitness YouTuber is. After all, you want to know if you should be avoiding somebody’s advice, right? In this video, I am going to explain to you the problem with the use of the term “suboptimal” and what I think needs to replace it in order to benefit the fitness community.
It seems everywhere you look when it comes to online fitness, you have somebody throwing out the term “suboptimal”. Whether it’s a video reviewing somebody else or even just a comment left on a post; we have countless instances where someone claims that something is suboptimal. To me, this sounds like the new version of “CNS burnout,” a common buzzphrase that was seemingly used by everyone as an excuse for something not going well in their training.
Not only do I think that this is the new buzzword when it comes to fitness, I also like to consider it the new “mommy pay attention to me” format for fitness social media. I find that people posting fitness content online are so devoid of content, that they have to resort to criticizing others and trying to call something they are doing suboptimal in order to gain the attention of the audience.
As a fitness professional, I have never made a habit of criticizing other trainers or even influencers. I understand and appreciate, instead, the thing that should be the next buzzword in fitness: context. I find that context is one of the most important things to understand when it comes to reviewing somebody else’s training or training program.
Too quickly, someone will rush to call something suboptimal based on their own lack of knowledge. Knowledge around the context of what someone is doing is extremely important because it can help you to understand exactly why somebody might be doing something. I have a problem when someone ignores context and makes a statement based on their blanket expectations. It’s important to understand that not everyone shares the same goals, limitations / accessibilities, or needs.
Somebody who is new to fitness, has limited access to equipment, and history of injuries is going to be training very differently than the 4x Mr. Olympia, Chris Bumstead. This is an example of context. Another example would be a barbell row vs. a chest supported row. Before saying that the chest supported row is suboptimal training, you might be pressed to know that the person performing it might have a low back problem that doesn’t let them bent-over row.
What about combination exercises? Those can’t be optimal when the limitations of one hinders another. Well, what if you were doing that combination for a specific purpose like creating a conditioning effect? Or what about a dumbbell front raise vs. a pate trap raise? Someone might call one of these exercises suboptimal and they look similar, but they serve different purposes. One is for the shoulders and one is for the lower traps, so how can one be better than the other?
I can even even relate this back to my time with the New York Mets. When a player would go down with an injury, the training staff would get numerous letters with speculation of how and why that player got hurt. In every instance, they had no idea the actual context around the injury and were often writing in based on a report that came out in the newspaper. A report that often didn’t include the actual nature of the injury, such as an adductor strain being called a hamstring strain.
Another instance of this occurring is when Lebron James released a video of himself squatting. People online were so quick to judge and comment on his depth, or lack thereof, and call what he was doing suboptimal. These people had no context as to why he was squatting like that. How did they know that Lebron’s trainer didn’t program for a specific reason? There’s research pointing to the effectiveness of quarter squats when it comes to basketball players and their on-court abilities such as jumping and explosiveness.
So, before you go around calling somebody’s training “sub-optimal”, you need to understand the context regarding what they are doing. Just because it’s not something you do or it doesn’t fit your specific goals, does not mean that isn’t optimal for somebody else.
For a step-by-step workout program that takes all of this into account and takes out all the guesswork for you, head on over to the ATHLEAN-X website via the link below and use the program selector to find the one that best matches your goals.
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