The “Old Days” of bodybuilding and fitness…the “Bro Days.” We’ve all heard of them. Many of us have lived them. The “Old Days” refer to that time way back when and long, long ago when the driving forces of fitness and bodybuilding were primarily “Bro science” and wives’ tales from sources like muscle magazines, the biggest guy (or girl) in the gym, or really anyone with a halfway decent set of abs and a smartphone, without regard for science or evidence-based thinking.
We all started somewhere, and I would guess that many of our origins and paths of growth in bodybuilding and fitness are quite similar. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve blindly followed advice and significantly changed our lives to implement these concepts. Essentially, we became experts in ladder climbing with little regard as to whether the ladder was leaning on the right wall!
Those early days were dangerous. They had the potential to crush us mentally and physically as well as jeopardize our most meaningful relationships with friends, family, and significant others. More often than not, the early days also increased our physical and mental stress levels, limited our ability to be fluid and adaptable, and lessened our overall quality of life. The worst part? We didn’t mind. We didn’t care enough to notice it. We stifled that all-knowing tiny voice in our heads, known as conscience, giving us little jabs of guilt and raising the occasional red flag as we fell deeper and deeper away from who we truly were and wanted to be. We were unaware that we were prisoners and that, my friends, is the best kind of prisoner because ignorance has the potential to keep the imprisoned blissfully in prison forever.
The unfortunate truth is, the “Old Days” have not passed; they are still very much alive, present, and thriving (much like Tom Riddle through an enchanted diary**) through gurus, zealots, both mainstream and social media, and magazines and websites focused on gaining subscriptions rather than improving the community at large. They are profiting and preying off of those who are still ignorantly imprisoned. Thankfully, many have been enlightened and have allowed their views and beliefs to be turned upside down in the presence of a better way. Sadly, many have not. Many are still stuck in the dark ages.
When I was in undergraduate college I wanted to do the absolute best that I could and straight A’s were the goal. Just like the “Old Days,” I put my head down and grinded. I ended up “succeeding” in getting straight A’s and graduating summa cum laude, just like I was “successful” at being a “Bro.” As I progressed in my college and eventually professional careers, I realized that grades weren’t what were important. The grade shouldn’t have been the goal. In fact, I was so enlightened, that in my last year of the doctoral program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, I didn’t look at one grade the entire year! And guess what? I still got straight A’s, but I did it with a much less intense, close-minded, and misguided mindset.
I truly feel that I was only able to get straight A’s in that last year of graduate school without tracking grades because of the years spent doing it the wrong way. This two-part article will explain why our ability to properly apply the concepts of a more evidence-based approach to bodybuilding and fitness relies heavily on our mistakes of the past. In other words, in order to do it correctly, you have to have done it incorrectly first. I don’t regret the “Bro Days.” I am thankful for them. Here’s why and what I’ve learned. [Read more…]