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Last Updated on April 6, 2018

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 March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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