Brogramming

Brogramming; the plague of the fitness community. Bros exercise in packs, making sure that they blast their pecs from every angle, work every fiber of their biceps with high volume curls, and finish with high repetition leg extensions to build massive quads.  They do this while watching sports center, listening to T-Pain, or chatting about the weekends frat parties.  They do it with at least 1, if not 2 of their bros.  The most important part?  Suck at whatever you’re doing.  Yes bro’s, you suck at it.  And you suck when you ask me “Is that upper or lower abs?” when I perform TRX Bus Drivers.  I suppose you get half a point for knowing it’s abs.  But you still suck.

Now, not all bro’s suck.  I completely understand working out to get bigger, stronger, feel better; whatever your reason is.  Even if it’s pure vanity, I applaud your presence in the gym.  You’re there, right?  You get points just for showing up.  It’s better than sitting home, or even worse, considering Wii Fit real exercise.  (It’s not. Don’t kid yourself, bro.)

So while you’re starting above a ‘zero’ on this test, you still have a long ways to go.  Why do you even do the things that you’re doing?  Is it because your older brother showed you a workout that his friend’s sister’s boyfriend uses?  Where is that workout from?  Oh, one of the muscle magazines published a pro bodybuilders workout?  Hate to break it to you, but unless you go re-pick your parents, started training 9 years ago, and inject copious amounts of Testosterone into your butt, it’s not going to work for you.  Maybe that Muscle Milk you’re drinking will help you get jack3d.

Alright, let’s take a quick break from my brogramming rant to watch a cute cat:

Okay, so we’re over the hating.  I am well aware of the murkiness as far as how to exercise goes.  The volume of incorrect information may be greater than the amount of correction information.  The next time somebody tells me that squatting is bad for your knees, I just might…*

You might be wondering, “Harold, where is this coming from?”  Well, today I worked out at the Adelphi gym for the first time.  I wanted to give it a little test run before the semester started to make sure that everything there worked out well.  It was awesome!  I got to use the band pegs on their racks, which was nice to do some speed squats with bands, because people think that a 385lb bar looks pretty cool.  Yea, it does look really cool.  And so does accommodating resistance, bro.

I saw a number of things that I didn’t like; it was the typical ‘bro’ stuff.  It was the girls doing push-ups with such terrible form that my grandmother would have said something.  You shouldn’t look like this:

Now, if that resembles what you consider to be pushups, watch THIS video to see how they’re done.  What other terrible things did I see?  I saw some ugly, ugly, bench press technique.  1/2 squats that were considered real squats.  A kid made a circuit of every leg machine in the building.  Now, on a scale of ‘Suck’ – 10, how bad are these?  Honestly, not that bad.  Let’s consider them a 5.  They could have just stayed home.  They also could have done things better.  Let’s look at those things:

Warm Up – How are you warming up?  Are you jumping rope or getting on the treadmill, or are taking care of the important issues of tissue quality, mobility, and CNS activation?  Did you foam roll?  Stretch?  Sure, running will elevate your heart rate, but it won’t prepare your joints, muscles, and brain for activity like a well developed warm-up will.  Go foam roll, do your mobility drills, and perform some body weight patterns.  You’ll have a much better workout.

Strength Training – How is your workout designed for the day?  Do you work one muscle, hang out for a few minutes, work it again, watch Sports Center, workout it again, switch exercises, and work it again?  That would be brogramming.  If you really want results, you should be pairing multiple exercises to get the most bang for your buck.  I’m not implying that my programming is the best, but this is what I accomplished in 45 minutes today, after I warmed up.

  1. A1 Band Assisted Squat, 6 x 3
  2. A2 Yoga Plex, 6 x (3×2) (That means 3 times for each side of my body on every set)
  1. B1 Front Squat, 3 x 8
  2. B2 TRX Bus Driver, 3 x (4×2)
  1. C1 Romanian Deadlift, 4 x 8
  2. C2 Paloff Press, 4 x (4×2)
  1. Finisher: Barbell Complex: Deadlift, Hang Clean, Front Squat, Jerk.  4 x 8, 30 seconds rest.

In between my three lower body lifts, I did a mobility drill, a core anti-rotation/anti-extension exercise, and a core anti-rotation exercise.  My heart rate was elevated the entire time due to the super-sets, the finisher raised it even higher, and the vast majority of the muscles in my body were used to a certain extent.  I loaded body weight exercises through their full range of motion, and used ‘core’ exercises that teaches my mid-section to brace against load and protect the spine.  This workout fits perfectly into my week long split.

Conditioning – What does your cardio do for you?  Does it elevate your heart rate?  Well it better, because that’s the obvious goal, but what else does it do?  Sure, getting on a treadmill is good for you; you’re not sitting on the couch.  But how hard are you working?  What are the overall benefits?  The barbell complex that I used, based on Olympic Clean and Jerk did far more than the treadmill would.  It raised my heart rate.  Very high.  Requirement number one, taken care of.  Next my body moved through space.  It hinged at the hips, hinged at the knees, rehinged into a deep squat, performed an explosive 1/4 squat to push weight over head.  That was all in one rep.  There were 8 in a set.  My central nervous system had to coordinate my muscles for all of these reps.  For my muscles to work, they needed energy, from oxygen.  To provide this oxygen, my heart needed to pump blood, and it had to do it very fast.  There were numerous benefits to this conditioning set.  Again; What does your cardio do for you?

My point here isn’t to belittle people.  There are infinite variables at play; I know nothing about each person I see, about what there goals are, or about how long they’ve been workings towards them.  However, there are a few things that I do know.  I know that there is a hierachy of efficiency when you workout.  I know that each workout should be personalized to an individuals goals, but that it’s important to follow a template of movements and program design to ensure the best results.  I know that far too many people are programming, and far too few people are training.  Get the most out of your workouts.  Stop brogramming, start training.**

* Link them to THIS article by Mike Boyle, and the original Fry et al. study so they read the research for themselves.

**  Also read THIS article from EliteFTS to make sure that you’re training.

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