Ever since I began experimenting with more rational and efficient methods of strength training in 1992, I’ve run into people who want to defend the status quo. Basically their defense consists of insisting that any method of training other than what they do and believe must be wrong, otherwise they’d be doing it.
One thing I’ve learned is a certain percentage of people basically refuse to understand anything that challenges their current beliefs and seem to have unlimited time and energy to debate with those of us who see things differently. Consequently, I’ve stopped responding to these folks, other than to occasionally reply with very short e-mails that say things like, “I never said conventional training won’t work; my point is that Static Contraction Training delivers equal benefits in 2% of the time.”
There is a phenomenon of human psychology and it sometimes manifests when I talk about strength training using a different method than people are familiar with.
In 1966 a tragedy occurred at the University of Texas at Austin when an armed man spent over 90 minutes shooting people from the top of a 27 story tower. He shot 44 people, killing 13. (He also killed 2 relatives earlier in the day.) Many aspects of the incident have been studied but the phenomenon that interests me most is that several people were shot because they did not heed the warning of the college students who yelled to them to take cover due to a sniper shooting randomly.
Imagine seeing, for over an hour, fellow students gunned down and lying on the ground then seeing a student, completely unaware of the situation, exit a school building and walk into an open area. Then imagine yelling to that person to take cover because of a sniper…only to have the person not believe you…and say so…and then get shot.
Why? What is it about human nature that makes a person so fearful of being tricked by pranksters that he would take such a risk?
It’s easy to understand if people were yelling to take cover from students throwing water balloons that anyone might take a few moments to assess the real danger before diving behind a barrier. But when people are screaming about a deadly sniper, why would anyone value his ego over his life? Yet it happens.
This is a very extreme example of how far this ego vs. rationality phenomenon can go. But I see the same thing happen when I write about static contraction training. In essence, I tell people ‘There is a better way to train if your time is valuable to you.’ (Note: If you are happy to spend 100 hours exercising in order to get the benefits of 2 hours of exercise, that is your subjective choice and you are fully entitled to it. Most people, though, want 100 hours of benefit for 100 hours of effort.)
The absolute giveaway of ego vs. rationality occurs when a guy buys my e-book then requests a refund 20 minutes later. Basically, this tells me that the guy didn’t even read the entire e-book, certainly didn’t give it much serious thought and didn’t perform any workouts whatsoever. These are the guys who write to tell me ‘SCT won’t work. You’re full of crap. You’re trying to rip me off.’ Then they fill every blog, forum and chat group they belong to with their ‘analysis’ of SCT and their “scientific” conclusion that ‘it can’t work.’
Their ego…their fear of being tricked…is literally greater than their rationality.
Don’t misunderstand me. I love skepticism and skeptics. But real skepticism does not involve instant conclusions of right and wrong. It involves a thoughtful analysis. In that way, skeptics are my best customers. Because they test what I’m saying to see if it is true and if it works as I say it does. So at the very least the true skeptic goes to the gym and sets up a strong range bench press to see if he can lift more weight. Then he discovers (on average) than instead of hoisting 175 for full range reps, he can hoist 325 and hold it statically for 5 seconds. And he notes how that feels. Then he sets up a strong range leg press and discovers (on average) that instead of pressing 400 pounds he can press 1,000 and hold that statically for 5 seconds or so. And he notes how that feels. When he returns to the gym in a few days and can better both of those weights he has his own evidence that what I am saying really does work.
And honestly, folks, there is just no way in heaven or earth that lifting heavier weights than you ever have before cannot build more muscle for you. In a healthy person, it just cannot happen because that is not how the human body works.
Yet, a small percentage of people will refuse to believe it. Just like some people refused to believe there was a sniper. I urge you to be a skeptic and test what I say.