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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 August 15, 2018

      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

      Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

      Video Summary

      Why is it important to train up our core strength?

      There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

      This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

      Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

      In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

      One Exercise, multiple benefits

      There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

      By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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      When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

      Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

      In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

      What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

      What will happen when you start doing planks every day

        1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

        Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

        • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
        • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
        • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
        • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

        2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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          Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

          Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

          3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

            Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

            4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

              Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

              A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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              A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

              On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

              5. You’ll improve overall balance

                Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                  Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                  7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                    Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                    How to hold a plank position

                    1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                    2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                    3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                    4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                    5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                    6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                    7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                    Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                    Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                      How to improve your plank time gradually

                      1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                      2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                      3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                      Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                      Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                      You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                      • Prolapse
                      • After prolapse surgery
                      • Pelvic pain conditions
                      • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                      • Previous childbirth
                      • Overweight

                      Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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