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Ignorance Is Dangerous

I started my website in 2001. It didn’t take long after to realize that not everyone will understand or agree with my ideas. I am okay with that as we’re all entitled to our own interests, opinions, and beliefs. What’s always humored me however are the comments made in regards to exercise safety (or lack of). Whenever I post a video of myself or others performing a strenuous exercise, it’s guaranteed that I’ll receive comments about the dangers of such movements.

Earlier this week I posted a compilation video of random footage from the last 18 months.

As expected, I’ve seen many comments on social media sites such as Facebook citing the supposed dangers of my routine. Perhaps the most humorous comments came from individuals younger than me who warned that I’d be bedridden with injuries as I age. Ironically, I received similar comments almost 20 years ago as an intern in college. I was a young boxer at the time and my boss warned that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the same pace as I entered my twenties. Now as I enter my late thirties, I’m hearing the same warnings about my forties. It never ends.

Such comments remind me of a quote from Chuck Palahniuk,

What you don’t understand you can make mean anything.

In other words, if you have not done something (or aren’t prepared to try), your opinion on the subject doesn’t hold water. For example, I don’t know how to fly an airplane. My opinion about flying is as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle. The fact that it would be dangerous for me to fly doesn’t mean it is dangerous to fly.

And please don’t misconstrue the point to this entry. I’m not writing this because I care what others think of my routine. What’s more important is combating the fear mongers that discourage others from performing any physical exercise. I hear from people all the time who are genuinely scared to begin training. They’ve been brainwashed to believe that any type of physical exertion is dangerous.

If you’ve ever wondered why I share so many age-related stories on the site, now you know. I post these stories to highlight that the body can handle much more work than the average person will ever comprehend. Age is not the crutch that many believe it to be. No, we won’t live forever, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our time with health and vitality.

Exercise is not dangerous, assuming you progress gradually, listen to your body, and don’t get ahead of yourself. I’ve been training for over 20 years and have NEVER had any serious injuries in the gym. I don’t take any drugs, recovery supplements or even a vitamin. I’m just a regular person who happens to be passionate about training.

Ignorance is dangerous. Inactivity is dangerous. Letting time pass you by with your ass stuck on the couch is dangerous. Hard work that is performed consistently and intelligently is not.

Since when did hard work become such a rarity? In today’s world, if you work hard to better yourself physically, you essentially become part of a small minority. Meanwhile, physical inactivity is slowly killing countless others.

I still consider myself young, but I see fellow parents in town who haven’t done anything remotely physical since playing high school sports twenty years ago. They can hardly walk a flight of stairs without gasping for air. I’ll take my chances with hard, consistent work in the gym any day over struggling to perform regular daily activities. The body is designed for movement. It is intended for use. You can either choose to use it or choose to lose it. The decision is yours.

As for the fear mongers out there lurking, consider focusing your efforts elsewhere. For example, I’m guessing more injuries result from texting while driving than from lifting weights in the gym. And unlike heavy lifting, it is something that you probably have some personal experience doing.

+++++

Fear always springs from ignorance. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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21 comments

21 Comments so far

  1. chris November 1st, 2013 9:18 am

    Ross,

    You’re wrong on this one bud. I’d tell you all the reasons why, but typing on a keyboard has been proven to cause carpal tunnel and I’m not gonna risk it.

    ;)

  2. Bizzo November 1st, 2013 9:31 am

    Ross,

    I think your spot on mate and I know you like your quotes and I think this one is quite fitting “The lord gave you a body that can withstand almost anything,it’s just the mind you have to convince” Keep up the good work mate and keep educating the masses ;)

  3. Roger November 1st, 2013 9:36 am

    I’ve been (happily) reading more and more of these timidity refutations, and it’s nice. I think you may enjoy reading a similar response to the overly risk and effort averse here: http://barefootrunninguniversity.com/2013/10/28/eat-bacon-and-get-an-std/

  4. Cody November 1st, 2013 9:49 am

    People now days are programmed to complain and criticize everything. Just gotta tune them out.

    Keep practicing and preaching what you do.

  5. Levi November 1st, 2013 9:49 am

    ^^^ hahaha. carpal tunnel. hahaha

  6. Shawn Burnah November 1st, 2013 11:31 am

    Keep on keeping on Ross! At 44 I’m still fighting the laws of modern weaklings who say after 40 you need to step it down. Maybe that’s why they need their little ‘Blue Pill’.

  7. Eric November 1st, 2013 3:25 pm

    I’m 52 and still lift “heavy” occasionally. The only injury I’ve had or have problems with from lifting is shoulder discomfort or mild pain occasionally. And this injury was caused by probably bad form more than anything else. A little discomfort in the low back and knees, probably both from barbell squats, and maybe even excessive “hill training.” But nothing serious or anything that a good warmup won’t cure before training again. Lemme guess, most of those armchair experts probably warned of the dangers of the deadlift, and performing dips, especially “heavy” weighted dips. Squats, dips, deadlifts, pullovers, bench presses, press behind the neck, pullups behind the neck, and upright rows are all exercises that are ROUTINELY frowned upon by the “EXPERTS.” Never invested a lot of time in the deadlift but I’ve done all of the aforementioned exercises for years with little or no discomfort or injuries, including the much maligned presses and pullups behind the neck.

  8. Jaak November 1st, 2013 8:39 pm

    The allegory of the caves is applicable.

    There is no longer a culture of effort. People would rather drive around the parking lot instead of just parking then walking from a distance. Individuals would rather read the book review, instead of the book. If stairs are leaving you winded, the first solution should not be to give up climbing stairs for life.

    And those that have learned a bit of knowledge, included their lives will be criticized.

    In the valley of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

    King Ross, thank you.

  9. old dave November 2nd, 2013 1:27 am

    Great post Ross, people are so quick to criticise and throw spanners in your works,it’s because they would rather smash your dreams than have their own

  10. Luke November 2nd, 2013 7:49 am

    It’s quite a surprise that you hear so many people say that what you’re doing is “dangerous”. Just weird. Idle minds can really think of all kinds of things.

  11. Fred November 2nd, 2013 7:56 am

    Well said, Ross, and thank you.

    You’ve managed to clearly and politely communicate things that really bug anyone who does work hard and strive to better themselves, in any fashion.

    As Teddy Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts”!

  12. Tobbit November 2nd, 2013 8:04 pm

    As a 25yr and in the Australian defense force I see young and old people in my work. And with most of the old people 40+ who destroy me in Pt sessions and with them looking great. There are to many trolls now days trying to get a bite from someone because they find it funny.

    Anyway I love your workouts and keep up the good stuff..

  13. Abraham November 3rd, 2013 4:41 am

    My only complaint; why haven’t you done more?!

    In all seriousness though, you amaze me by the fact that you are this absolute power-horse, yet you are not plastered all over tv screens, billboards, weight loss commercials, etc.

    I see your serious posts, your inspirational ones, your smart-ass ones, and your funny ones.

    In it all, I sense humility from the above fact. I can mention your name to almost any fitness guru here in Australia and they would barely know you, yet you are many levels above any of them. A bad thing? No way!

    Whatever you’re doing Ross, however you’re doing it, keep it up.

    Thanks for the training then, now, and to come.

  14. Robhypno November 3rd, 2013 7:28 am

    People just want excuses not to make the effort or commitment.

    Simple question for those to answer

    How’s what you’re doing working for you?

    I know as 1 46 year old exercising hard (??dangerously……) is working for me :-)

  15. Bryan November 4th, 2013 6:43 pm

    I loved the video. Bumped up my motivation back to 10. ;)

  16. Hans November 5th, 2013 4:12 am

    “I’m just a regular person who happens to be passionate about training.”

    A regular person is a “small” understatement Ross :P

    As always you post is inspirational and spot on!

    A big thank you for all your great efforts :)
    Im using your books and blog everyday. I think you are the the best there is!

  17. Shao November 6th, 2013 6:02 am

    Hi Ross!

    I can, unfortunately only disagree. I have read all your books, I guess. And in those, you cite studies on Acetyl-CoA in sprinting. You cite studies on tapering research, done by others. You also cite studies on strength training and you repeatedly cite the work of Dr Mel Siff.

    Reading Siff’s book, it becomes clear, Siff has only done a very small amount of the research in this book, others, like Verkhoshansky, Yakovlev and Matveyev have done it.

    You do not have to do the work, you need to understand the evidence. And I guess THAT is where we should put our mind to: Critical thinking. Because people lack that so much, that they might even DO what you do and still think they might die any moment.

    You are an inspiration, but your work is largely science based and maybe lets keep it that way ;)

  18. admin November 6th, 2013 6:09 am

    I’m not sure where you are going with that, but it doesn’t change the fact that ignorance is dangerous. And yes, it is quite possible to exercise without injuries.

  19. Martin Massey November 8th, 2013 7:02 am

    Now in my forties I train 6 times a week (Swimming, Mountain Biking, Karate, Running and Gym Work).

    If you slow down, you go down!

  20. Shao November 16th, 2013 2:45 am

    Ross, sorry to be confusing before. I wanted to make a very simple comment: Just working hard is good, but working hard in a smart way is better. If just working hard was it all, no one would need your book. But people do, they need to understand HOW to work hard.

    And you don’t have to have done it all yourself. You can trust on the shoulders of giants who have understood and tested what you can and should do. And that is one of the tenets of your book. Of course I can comment on something I have never done. And also criticize it. As long as I have the understanding of what I am doing there.

  21. admin November 16th, 2013 4:00 am

    Certain lessons can only be learned through hands on experience. I’ve learned this personally over the years. There are things that I do (or have done) which go against all the advice I’ve ever read, yet were decisions that eventually made a significant improvement for me or my athletes.

    Research and critical thinking are both important, but neither remove the need (at some point) for experience. You learn by doing.

    As for hard work, there are success stories with countless models.

    Here are just a few examples:
    http://rosstraining.com/blog/2013/08/01/what-really-matters/

    http://rosstraining.com/blog/2013/08/06/what-really-matters-part-2/

    I’ve posted countless others before.

    Hard work means different things to different people and cannot be sold or quantified so will never receive as much attention.

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