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The Secrets That Fitness Figures on Instagram Don’t Want You to Know

The Secrets That Fitness Figures on Instagram Don’t Want You to Know

I used to compare myself with people on Instagram and I’ve seen how the social media site works. My page used to have more than 10,000 followers.

On Instagram you see fitness models that apparently have a sixpack year round, yet still party every weekend. You see people that are able to bench press twice their body weight effortlessly, with a one-digit body fat percentage.

When asked how these people have achieved these feats, they usually point out basic things: training and genetics. Yet the answer is much simpler: the truth is that steroid use, photoshop and fake weights are far more common than you think.

In this article I want to show you all of the former, so you know that you aren’t setting unrealistic standards for yourself.

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Why fitness figures on Instagram can’t be trusted

Apparently Ben Affleck gained more than 30 pounds of lean muscle for his role in Batman vs. Superman. While such feats of human recomposition are awesome, they’re most likely a huge exaggeration. Yet the old saying holds true: sensationalism sells.

You’re far more likely to talk about the guy that has bench pressed 450 pounds with ease, than the one guy struggling with 225 pounds. For most fitness professionals, Instagram is a great marketing tool to sell their services. Instagram is part of their business model.

The Instagram marketplace is extremely crowded, to elevate yourself from the crowd you need to be extraordinary. Yet the truth is, most people are average. To still get your own share of social media fame, which can be translated to money, you will need to use: fake weights, steroids or Photoshop.

The use of fake weights

I’ve always asked myself why people with the same height and weight as me can be so enormously strong on Instagram. While factors such as genetics and lean body mass play a huge role in strength development, more often than not people simply use fake weights.

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The use of fake weights has risen in popularity over the last 6 months. You can buy weights starting at 60 dollars.

While fake weights are used pretty often on the social media, a person that has been called out publicly for using fake weights is Brad Castleberry.[1] The strongman on Instagram is apparently squatting 800+ pounds here with ease.

    The use of steroids

    After finishing a course in fitness training about one year ago, a friend of mine, also a fitness coach, and I rode the train home together. He told me that he’s looking to burn extra body fat this summer. He casually remarked that he’s losing the body fat using a substance called ephedrine. Ephedrine is a prohibited stimulant, according to the World Anti Doping Agency.[2] My friend just casually remarked to me that he’s doping.

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    After discussing with him the severity of his decision, he wasn’t faced at all. He simply stated that he wants to try out doping itself and that everyone is doing it anyway. He got a point. Plenty of trainers that I know are on gear or have used it before in their lifetime.

    While steroids are a daily staple in most professional athletes, there are certain individuals that push it to the extremes:

    The need of Photoshop

    I had a professional photoshoot for my website. After my designer showed me the final results, he added that he replaced the head of one of my cover pictures. With the help of Photoshop, he cut my head off in another picture, and added it to the picture that he found most suited for my website. This way my cover picture had the best of both worlds: a good head and a good body.

    After having a good laugh with my website designer, I realized that Photoshop is a necessity nowadays. Photographers heavily depend on using Photoshop to sell their pictures. Companies depend on photoshop to sell their products.

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    The picture-editing is common in fitness figures on Instagram. The more your body stands out, the more you’re able to sell your products. One person that got caught photoshopping his pictures was Devin Zimmerman, aka devinphysique.[3] His Online Coaching company made nonetheless, according to his assistant, over $1,000,000 in 2016.

      The aim of this article should not be to publicly shame any individuals. I published this article because I’m aware of the frustration that I’ve felt when I’ve compared myself to people on Instagram.

      If Instagram is inspiring you, I’m the last one to tell you that you should stop checking it regularly. More than 90% of the stuff that you see on Instagram, is fake. If Instagram is a source of frustration for you, you should know that fake weights, photoshop and steroids are more common than you might think.

      Featured photo credit: finda via finda.photo

      Reference

      More by this author

      Florian Wüest

      Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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      Last Updated on May 15, 2019

      How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

      How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

      As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

      “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

      When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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      Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

      We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

      But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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      So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

      It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

      1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

      Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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      2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

      This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

      You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

      3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

      This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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      4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

      How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

      So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

      If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

      And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

      Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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