What’s up with all these singing shows that are on TV these days? I don’t watch a lot of television, but it seems like every time I’ve turned on the TV in the past few months, one of these shows has been on (at the very least, I’ll see a commercial for one of them): American Idol, The Voice, X-Factor, The Sing-Off, and probably others that I don’t even know about. Now, as I’ve confessed on the blog before, I did fall prey to a few episodes of the first season of The Voice last summer. I admit that. In retrospect, I’m not very proud of it, but I will say that I did NOT watch a single episode of Season Two.
With all these singing competitions on the tube now, a slew of questions inevitably entered my mind. Why are so many Americans interested in singing, of all things, and why do we continually have to find America’s next singing sensation? Why can’t we search for America’s latest Chess sensation?
I’ve noticed that the “stars” these shows aim to find always seem to be pop singers, too. Why pop singers? Why couldn’t we look for the best new metal band? Why can’t we find the next Pantera? HA! Trick question; there will NEVER be another Pantera!
Alright, I think I’ve posed enough questions for now. And I do understand that Chess and heavy metal probably don’t appeal to the majority of people.
As I was contemplating all of these questions, I finally realized something. Before I reveal my thoughts, however, let me bring your attention to American Idol for just a second. American Idol, a show meant to find America’s next singing superstar, is currently in its eleventh season on TV. Let me repeat: eleventh season. That’s a lot of seasons, and there aren’t any signs it’s slowing down. From this I can draw one major conclusion: that we, as Americans, are obsessed with finding the latest and greatest thing. This is certainly true when it comes to pop singers, and unfortunately, it’s also true when it comes to fitness.
Too often, I see people seeking out the latest and greatest fitness craze. You know, the type of training that everyone and their cousin are doing right now or the system or piece of equipment that’s being advertised all over TV. The truth is, these things don’t last very long, and rarely pass the test of time. And with the entire buzz that surrounds the “hot” modes of training, sometimes we tend to lose sight of the basics, or “classics,” as I like to call them. One of those “classics” that immediately comes to mind is the lowly barbell.
These days, the barbell is getting a bad rap in certain fitness circles and is being used inappropriately in others. The barbell has been around for a long time and is a tried-and-true piece of equipment. It’s a very simple tool that, when used properly, can help you achieve many of your fitness goals. Want to get stronger and gain muscle? Enter the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Want to lose fat? Enter complexes and the famed 8 x 20:10 (8 rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest; widely referred to as “Tabatas” but not quite the same as the strict definition). All you need is a barbell and some weights and you can put together a fantastic training session.
Perhaps one of the best qualities of the barbell is that it’s a simple tool, and simplicity is a notion that I can’t emphasize enough. I know I’ve talked about it before and I’m sure I’ll talk about it again in the future. More times than not, the way to attain your fitness goals is very simple. Dan John talks about many of his strength training programs being “so simple, you won’t even do it.” The same is true here; many of the principles, methods, and exercises that are a key to fitness success are so simple, most people won’t even utilize them.
Don’t follow the fitness fads that may be getting attention in the popular media and don’t stray too far from the path of simplicity. Don’t let simplicity fool you; in fitness and in other areas of life, it is often the most simple, direct approach that works best. Unless you’re a contraindicated lifter, always revert back to the barbell in your strength and conditioning program and the simplicity it exudes. Coincidentally, as my buddy Greg Robins stated in his post yesterday, “Simple isn’t always flashy, but simple works.” So grab a barbell, throw some weight on, and get after it. And don’t watch American Idol.