It seems very in vogue these days to brag about how hard you train, how bland, boring and restrictive your diet is, and how you “suffer” for your physique.
Fitness professionals and gym rats alike love outdoing each other in terms of whose diet is the most difficult to stick to, and who can eradicate the most foods possible, sticking to a plan despite it containing little more than chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli.
Then you have those who seem to live to post about how hardcore their workout was on Facebook.
We all like the odd bit of DOMS, but really, is telling the world about how you did so many squats you threw up, and then couldn’t walk for 3 days really any way to go about promoting health and fitness?
It is this attitude and approach that is putting people off getting fitter and changing their lives, and could well be your downfall too…..
Why People Hate Being Hardcore
If you’re heavily involved in fitness, and have been around the iron game for a while, then you’ll be familiar with the need to train hard and stick to your diet.
You know that to get the results you want, you have to put the work in at the gym, and you need a certain degree of discipline when it comes to your diet – there simply isn’t any way round it.
But you also know that you can have the odd lapse – you will have off days in the gym, you will have workouts where you just go through the motions, and occasionally your dieting discipline will slip.
This is okay though – you’re human.
Unfortunately though, despite this, the message the fitness industry generally portrays to the general public is one of pain and suffering.
“I Just Want to Lose a Little Weight”
Losing weight, dropping a dress size, or just “toning up” is the goal for 95% of those who start on a training regime and clean up their diet.
To get the average person from slightly overweight and out of shape, to the point where they’re happy with their figure and physique, and actually feel good about themselves really doesn’t take too much.
It certainly doesn’t require vomit-inducing workouts, and a diet so restrictive you want to claw your hair out 24 hours a day.
Even taking it to the next level and competing in powerlifting, getting in photo shoot-ready condition, or stepping on stage in a physique competition doesn’t require you to go to these extremes.
Sure, you do need a little more discipline and structure, but the process should still be manageable. Tough? Yes. But doable, and even, at times, enjoyable.
The trouble is, the message the fitness industry gives starts to put people off.
Your typical middle-aged man or woman sees their Facebook feed flooded with personal trainers with shredded abs, accompanied by motivational slogans, or they hear stories of trainers virtually torturing clients, and so, instead of making a positive change, improving their health and their lives, they decide that it all looks like just too much hard work.
The Perils of Being Too Hardcore
Aside from putting people off, the hardcore attitude is so false and unnecessary.
No one really cares if you train so hard you make yourself ill, or have a 400-day streak of logging in to MyFitnessPal. This might impress a few bodybuilding-types, but it certainly won’t win you any friends.
There are two dangers of being too hardcore all the time – it can be damaging both physically and mentally.
Physically, if you try to push every single workout to your absolute limit, you’re on a shortcut journey to injury.
Training to failure has a place, but it needs to be utilized carefully. If you constantly stress your muscles and joints to the point where you’re using poor form, it’s only a matter of time before injury strikes.
Additionally, your central nervous system isn’t too hot on repeatedly being tested, so even if you don’t feel too bad physically, you’ll likely over-reach, and start to see your strength plummet.
As for a mental perspective, how do you think others feel about your choices?
If you’re constantly turning down offers to invitations out for a meal or a few drinks, you’ll quickly lose friends.
People will wonder why you’re always eating “weird food,” why you never enjoy your meals, and get exasperated at you continually criticizing them for their decisions and lifestyle.
In contest prep, towards the last few weeks, there probably will be times where you do have to be a bit of a social outcast, and stay at home to eat, so you can precisely weigh out your food, and stay accountable to your goals. But these times are few and far between.
The vast majority of people will never step on a bodybuilding stage, and even those who do realise that during the off-season and the early to middle stages of prep, leniency and leeway within a diet and training regime is perfectly acceptable.
By being too hardcore, and trying to be an elitist, you set incredibly high expectations of yourself, and become disappointed and disheartened when you can’t live up to them.
Just Chill Out
Are you weeks away from a bodybuilding or figure competition?
Then you have licence to chill out, and not being a fitness elitist.
It’s great to have dedication and discipline in your life, and be committed to your goals. Most people don’t have a clue what that’s like, so give yourself a pat on the back, and feel proud that you’re taking control over not only your body, but your physical and mental wellbeing too.
There’s a trade off though, and that trade off comes in the form of having a life.
Being a fitness snob, an elitist, or embodying the grotesque hardcore attitude might make you look briefly impressive to a few equally as obsessed gym buddies, but to everyone else, you’re nothing more than another judgemental fitness nut.
Realise that “health” isn’t just about the meals you eat and the workouts you do – it’s about being a well-rounded, amicable, flexible individual and achieving balance and happiness in your life.