The first thing they tell you when you join the iron game is that you should focus on compound movements if you want to gain real muscle mass. The choice is always the same – squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, pull-ups.
The noobs are brainwashed into thinking that slaving to those exercises will give them some sick gains. The 5×5 marketers and their colleagues from various franchises make it their mission in life to inform you how important it is to put a heavy barbell on your back and squat with it.
“It’s the secret to growth,” they say.
Then, when you inevitably hit a plateau while following their precious routines designed for robots, they shame you for not eating enough and tell you to check yourself for ovarian cancer. Basically, whenever something isn’t working – it’s your fault. But when there are gains – it’s always the program.
Compound movements are a scam similar to proper protein intake.
What is the problem?
Exercises cannot generate the growth promised to you by mainstream and alternative channels producing muscle wisdom. Yet the marketers have been promoting squatz&deadliftz as a major catalyzer of muscular ascension. Many manuscripts are based entirely on legends glorifying the big three.
Do compound movements work? They do. They make you stronger, more athletic and are significantly more enjoyable than isolation madness.
However, the industry has exploited the effectiveness of those exercises to create a blue pill mentality among men trying to transform naturally.
Here’s what they don’t want you to know:
1. Compound movements don’t add miraculous slabs of meat to your frame in a short period of time or ever.
We have all read comments on YouTube from people who have gained “30lbs of real muscle” 3 months after adding squats to their regime. Those claims are as real as the promises of Rippetoe. The reality is that gaining 30lbs or even 20lbs of “real muscle” in 3 months requires steroids.
30-35lbs of meat is what a natural will gain throughout his entire lifting career. The only exception would be skinny guys who start in an underweight state. The magicians on YouTube are lying, confusing muscle with fat or both. I don’t care how devoted you are to your squatz and deadliftz. This is the truth.
If that’s the case, why are the professors constantly digging new ways to reclaim the glory of compound lifts?
Because the wheel has to keep spinning. The kids don’t want to hear that their dream will never manifest. We are interested in the opposite to the point where we pay for lies.
Another reason to promote mythical exercises is the illusion of control. For many years, I used to blame myself for my lack of results. I would often conclude that the problem resides somewhere in my programming. But over the years I tried enough programs to realize that a change of rep scheme or an exercise variation are neither enough nor capable of catalyzing the actual muscle growth that I anticipated.
Since this realization makes you powerless in terms of options, the scholars do not want you to face it. Consequently, they encourage you to keep reinventing your routine to the point where you confuse placebo with actual gains.
A bro does regular high bar squats but fails to get the anticipated results. Then he finds one of the many sites glorifying low bar squats and switches to them while expecting to get bigger due to the wrong belief that low bar squats work more muscle mass and therefore trigger more growth than high bar squats. One year later, the kid is still the same – provided that he hadn’t bought the bulk scam too. In that case, he would be a lard collector.
Of course, the opposite can also happen – a low bar devotee finally realizes that he’s been doing a stupid exercise and switches to high bar expecting his quads to become similar to those of Olympic weighlifters a.k.a. roiders. It won’t happen.
The idea that an exercise can trigger unheard of natural hypertrophy is similar to believing that you can significantly increase your success with women by tailoring your pick-up lines. Good luck.
2. Every GuRu comes with their own set of exercises.
Gurus base their exercise selection on personal preferences, beliefs and business goals. Some guys will spam you with squats while others say that handstands are the fountain of youth. Who’s right? Both? Neither?
Just like in marketing, they are not selling you an exercise/product but a dream.
One guy sells you the powerlifting dream – you become obsessed with hairy men on steroids who love big barbells.
Another guy sells you the gymnastic dream – you become obsessed with compact dudes capable of skills requiring decades of work.
The professors always try to present their training programs as superior and more “functional” than everything else on the market. Their brainwashed disciples follow the debate without realizing that they have nothing to gain from the battle.
3. Compound movements do not make you an athlete.
Many low IQ dudes think that doing low bar squats and overeating makes them “athletic real men”. Sorry. No. You are just a fat man proficient at doing squats in a controlled environment. It takes more than a generic movement to become an athlete.
4. Slaving to numbers.
Idiots think that something otherworldly will happen when they reach an arbitrary number.
“Brah, when I deadlift 500lbs I will be huge,” says the dreamer.
That’s a good way to become a slave – killing yourself in the gym for another pointless five-pound PR designed to make the Internet deities happy. In reality, you can get the same benefits (size, health) while lifting significantly lower numbers. Of course, your top end will suffer, but barbell/gym strength is heavily overrated to begin with.
5. Annoying myths
All compound movements are surrounded by stupid myths triggering hardcore placebo within the lifters: squats and deads catalyze an insane testosterone boost; dips hit your triceps like nothing in this world; drink milk and squat…etc.
Yet in the gym, I see all kinds of people doing the prescribed exercises while looking smaller than my father who has never been in a gym in his entire life. Why? He has a big frame – an essential element determining one’s natural potential for growth.