June 01, 2008
Have you ever watched an infomercial or a shop-at-home network exercise equipment segment? If you have you will know that the formula is a slick spokesperson or salesperson, an exercise expert with lots of letters after their name, and an attractive and fit-looking model to demonstrate the equipment and make the pitch: "This equipment is so easy to use and so effective that you will be looking like Buffy and Biff here in just a couple of weeks." Who are we to argue? There is an "expert" right there on the screen telling us that in just a few minutes a day we can look like the model effortlessly using the ab- eloper or whatever the gimmick of the minute is.
Have you ever looked at who developed the guidelines for exercise used by the clinical communities? You really should read these guidelines. Most are somewhat useful sets of information about working with diseased and unfit individuals. When you do read them, look at the laundry list of exercise "experts" that produced them. Lots of M.D.s and Ph.D.s are listed as authors. Most of them have additional sets of letters listed after their academic credentials. But how do we know that any of these experts really know anything about training anyone? Medical schools are being pretty progressive if they include a single lecture on exercise in their curriculum.
Exercise-science-type Ph.D. programs are generally clinically biased and thus the curricula tend to offer little real-world application for any other than diseased or unfit populations.
Lon Kilgore, Ph.D., is professor of kinesiology at Midwestern State University, where he teaches exercise physiology and anatomy. He has extensive experience as a weightlifter himself, and he has worked as coach and sports science consultant with athletes from rank novices to collegiate athletes, professionals, and Olympians. He teaches CrossFit's Basic Barbell Certification with Mark Rippetoe, and he is coauthor, with Rippetoe, of the books Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training and Practical Programming for Strength Training.