Have you seen the old Rocky movies?
If so, you know Rocky spends a lot of on-screen time getting in shape as inspirational music plays in the background. Watching it makes you want to get up and start working out.
During training, Stallone carries logs, chases farm animals, runs uphill through waist-deep snow, and punches slabs of meat. Meanwhile, his opponent works out in a state of the art gym, complete with all the latest chrome-plated exercise machines.
On first glance, this seems like Hollywood sensationalism.
The almost absurd contrast between the two boxers and their training methods seems designed to have us rooting for the throwback Rocky – the perpetual underdog – and against the seemingly unstoppable tide of change, as represented by Rocky’s opponent and his ultra-modern training methods.
But it’s really not Hollywood hype.
Actually, lots of people use old-school training methods. And they’re not just back-woods crackpots, either.
More and more, fitness enthusiasts are going back to older, time-tested methods of getting in shape; methods that were mostly ignored in the last few decades.
Recent fitness trends are falling by the wayside
Let’s take a look at some of the recent trends in sports and fitness, and how they’re being replaced by older, more effective methods:
Old-school cardio methods
The late 1970s ushered in the “jogging craze”.
Shoe companies had us believing that the ultimate test of physical fitness was the ability to run long distances at a relatively slow pace. As marathoners like Bill Rogers and Jim Fixx became household names, people started to pound the pavement in record numbers.Later, in fitness-conscious California, “aerobics” gained traction.
This craze was started by large fitness-club franchises after they learned people would pay a recurring fee for fun, high-energy group classes full of good-looking people in skimpy clothes. And as fitness clubs spread across the nation, so did aerobics classes.
Later, with the advent of the VCR, anyone could take an aerobics class simply by buying a (celebrity-endorsed) tape.
But these days, jogging and aerobics are falling out of favor with amateur athletes and other cutting-edge fitness enthusiasts. Gone are the days of “long and slow” cardio; today, the old-school methods that were used all along by the pros are enjoying a renaissance.
Everywhere you look, you see athletes using interval training, hill sprints, circuit training, hybrid strength/cardio workouts with kettlebells, and sports-specific endurance workouts.
Old-school strength trainingBut the marketing and hype of the recent past wasn’t limited to exercise trends like aerobics and jogging.
The big guys in the weight room had money to spend just like anyone else, and marketers were more than happy to target them with the “new is better” message.
Yesterday’s athletes used weight training to get better at sports. But weight training became a “self improvement” activity with the advent of bodybuilding. Strength training became a lifestyle without any measurable goal except to be like that big guy with the muscles.
Lots of guys looked at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 22-inch arms, then at their own 14-inchers, and began “pumping iron”.
And when they didn’t end up looking like a huge bodybuilder or pro wrestler, guess what they did? That’s right: they bought up every muscle magazine and bodybuilding “supplement” they could get their calloused hands on.
Now, fitness buffs are rapidly adopting older, better methods of packing on the pounds.
Bodybuilding-style isolation exercises are falling by the wayside, replaced by full-body compound movements that pack power, conditioning, and “functional” strength into one highly effective workout. And folks who value injury prevention and joint health are gravitating towards gymnastics workouts and bodyweight routines. Even kettlebell zealots use some old-school training methods.
Looking for a change? You might enjoy old-school trainingSo take a look at your own workout routine. Are you really getting the results you want?
If you’re not, it may be because you’re working out the way some marketer wants you to, instead of the way successful athletes have trained for centuries.
After all, there’s little point in training like a pro wrestling superstar if your real goal is to be able to function better in your everyday life. Old-school workouts stood the test of time for a reason: they work.
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