Can’t we all just get along?

The De-Evolution of Physical Culture

By Brian Johnston

It’s an undeniable fact that resistance trainees are in a world all their own, and to a certain extent, they can be classified as an underground cult of sorts. I am not referring to the average person who wants to reshape his or her body, or the injury rehab patient, but the hardcore trainee.

What dumbfounds me is the conflicting attitude among the different resistance trainees, and not only bodybuilders. Bodybuilders think that powerlifters are chunky individuals who can’t build a lean, conditioned physique. Powerlifters think that bodybuilders are weak and nothing but show and who can’t perform to powerlifting standards in the gym. Olympic lifters feel they are above the others because their competitive lifts require extreme athletic ability (a combination of speed, total body coordination, and power), and is accepted as an Olympic sport. I am not suggesting that all iron athletes are guilty of these stereotypical views. However, my experience tells me that a majority feel this way.

The odd thing is that all three types of training methods overlap. Show me a bodybuilder who has not, at one time or another, performed powerlifting style of training (heavy weight, low reps), or has thrown in some power cleans for upper back development. Also, just about every powerlifter or Olympic lifter has performed bodybuilding exercises (supplementary movements) in the off-season during the conditioning phase – these include dips, leg extensions, bent rows and leg curls to work any weak links that can affect the primary lifts.

These three groups obviously have more in common than they realize, yet each tries to segregate themselves from the others. To have Joe Average accept resistance training as a serious fitness alternative, we need to work together and promote resistance training as a whole. With a synergistic approach, we can become stronger threefold, rather than fighting each other in having the public adorn each other’s sport or activity.

One of the primary reasons why many prefer aerobic-based exercise, as opposed to anaerobic exercise, is that it is a social event. A group of people will get together, work toward a common goal (weight loss, muscle firming), and have fun. This often is not apparent where people work out with weights. Resistance trainees tend to ignore or avoid each other like the plague; particularly if others are equally strong, developed or if they are a different type of trainee, i.e., powerlifter vs. bodybuilder. This may be the result of competitiveness or ego. Some day we may regain the camaraderie that was so apparent in the 50’sand 60’s.

TAKU’s Note:
In 1995, Brian Johnston wrote a brief article for a newsletter (Strength & Size), about how the fitness world has lost its union, with bodybuilders in one corner, power lifters in another, Olympic lifters in another, and the average fitness buff yet in another. I felt it was worth repeating an excerpt from this article* since it is my opinion, that strength training is the cornerstone to a well rounded total fitness program. Being involved in healthy pursuits should be a chance for us to bond and enjoy the pursuit, rather than an excuse to talk trash about whose methods are the best.



*This article reprinted with permission of the I.A.R.T.