Every committed lifter knows that a solid training session doesn't include a 20-minute rest period between curls. But that's what happens to newbs who get sidetracked by trying to find the best overhead lighting for their selfie.
While we may not fall into that trap, there are some lesser known physique-wreckers involved in the social media frenzy.
1 – Looking at Cheat Meal Pics
We are highly influenced by our peers. Even when we think we aren't, we are. So when your jacked friend only posts pics of donuts and pizza with captions chronicling these experiences, you start to wonder why you're not living it up in cheat-meal land.
The problem here is what you're NOT seeing: the chicken, rice, salads, tuna, and broccoli your friend had for six days prior so he could afford the massive calorie dump of the cheat meal.
How about those viral photos of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson? You know, the ones where he's inhaling 12 pancakes, 4 pizzas, and a pan of brownies.
Well, you may have missed the fact that Johnson had dieted hard for over 37 WEEKS before devouring that buffet of Type-2 diabetes. Have you? And do you train like him? And do you have the amount of muscle he has? The same roaring metabolism?
The truth is, while cheat meals are tempting, they only work if you're lean enough, spend enough time doing intense training, and have a 90% adherence rate to a sound nutritional protocol. So be careful about comparing someone else's diet to your own. Don't think you can afford to eat such meals because you saw your buddy throwing down, and don't think that's all he's been eating.
2 – Checking In At The Gym
Don't do this. It reinforces the mentality that you need people to know you're there in order for it to matter.
You should never make your training depend on outside validation. Why? Because then it won't last. Eventually your desire to kick back at home will outweigh your desire for Aunt Betty to praise your dedication. If you're a lifter, you don't need that shit.
If I arrive to the gym, check in on Facebook, take 20 minutes getting dressed, and then do 20 crunches, did I accomplish jack? Nope. This checking-in trend reeks of "Well, I got here and doing something is better than doing nothing."
And while there's validity to that if you're sedentary and obese, it's not the way a lifter should think or act. Lifters have direction. They go to the gym with purpose and they put in deliberate effort. Showing up is no longer the goal for experienced lifters, and you're not one if you're only there because "something is better than nothing."
If you put in the work consistently, people will know you've been to the gym whether you've checked in or not. Let your results speak for themselves. And no, you're not "inspiring" anyone. You're just patting yourself on the back and annoying your friends. And they've probably put your account on "mute" mode.
3 – Becoming a Likes-And-Favorites Whore
Don't become one of these needy people. It's a trap and it's very easy to fall into. In fact, there's almost no way of avoiding it if you spend a lot of time on social media.
The likes-and-favorites whore will measure his or her progress (at the gym and in life) by the number of likes, favorites, and positive comments he or she gets. It's the same problem with checking in at the gym. The praise becomes a crutch for survival, or at least self-esteem.
And regardless of any tangible results, a likes-and-favorites whore only needs to confirm the effectiveness of his current program by the amount of "looking great, bro" comments from his sedentary list of Facebook and Insta-friends.
Women, it seems, often get addicted more easily to the attention. And they soon learn that the less clothing they wear the more likes they get. What begins as a nice selfie in the gym locker room turns into "how high can I get my ass in the air?" and "how naked can I be before my account gets reported?"
Yes, you're sexy. Now try being classy. Besides, your self-worth shouldn't depend on how many 15 year old boys you engorge on Instagram.
Lots of likes and attention will give anyone a false sense of accomplishment, and it can lead to lack of measurable progress. Why? Because of course your inactive friends think you look great! But your goal in life is not to impress those who've developed a dad bod, is it?
Also remember that taking pretty pictures doesn't require legitimate physique change. All it requires is the right lighting, the right clothing, the right photo manipulation, and the right kind of desperation to spend hours getting into the perfect pose.
If pictures of your body are more important to you than your actual body, your priorities are totally screwed up. Make sure you're spending more time under the iron than you are in front of the camera lens.
4 – Falling For Faux-Pro Tips
The access to training info via social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have access to most of the top strength coaches and trainers. On the other hand, you have the same access to self-proclaimed gurus that are eager to give out trash advice (and often charge you for it.)
Being able to tell the difference is difficult for some, but don't let your excitement blind your common sense. Look for certifications and college educated pros the way you would if choosing a real-life personal trainer or strength coach. At the very least, make sure they've been in the game for a long time and have a proven track record.
Hint: The 20 year old kid with great abs and even better Photoshop skills probably can't help you uncover your abs. Just because someone is in good shape and has a ton of followers doesn't mean they're qualified. (And fake followers can be bought.)
And there are a lot of faux pros telling people to buy cosmetics that supposedly give you bigger lips, herbal weight loss teas, waist trainers, body "wraps" that dehydrate you, and other pyramid-scheme products. Just remember that these things are rarely what long term results are made of. Always ask yourself, "Would a Kardashian do this?" If the answer is yes, do not do that thing.
5 – Developing Unrealistic Expectations
Top bodybuilders and athletes frequently post program and nutrition advice that's basically just, "Here's how I got ripped." But one thing they never list is their cocktail of weekly drugs. And the female "Insta-gurus" usually don't mention their eating disorders.
So if you think it's the chest routine they're trying to sell you that's giving them more vascularity in their pecs than you have in your pants, think again. Odds are they're getting some extra help. Unless you want to follow them down that rabbit hole, set some more attainable goals.