Information vs. Application

This little article is being driven a bit by someone who is either trolling my comments (badly) or just really really really dumb.  His comments have basically been ‘reading about ur dogs is boring, pls post more information about fat loss’.  I also got one that said ‘pls post more fat loss info, I gained weight over X-mas’.

Like I said, trolling or stupid as hell; it doesn’t matter which and often the line between the two is very very thin.  You can imagine what responses he got from me regarding his criticism of my dog articles was (hint: it wasn’t appropriate for mixed company) but I’m getting off track.

But it brings me to a point/slightly ranty piece about another common mistake trainees and dieters make.  It’s something I talked a bit about before in Fundamental Principles vs. Minor Details.  That piece was more about folks who get so wrapped up in the minor (and generally irrelevant) details of their training or diet that they miss the big picture.  What I want to talk about today is similar.

What my troll/idiot above is doing, and what many do is this: they keep flailing about for that perfect program, the secret program, the magic program.  They continually look for that new and ideal program; and in doing so they never ever get around to acting.  Or if they do act, they do it in such a haphazard/half-assed way that nothing good comes out of it anyhow.

Basically, they are focusing on information rather than application.  Case in point, there are over 300+ articles on this website.  Let’s assume that 1/3rd of them are dedicated to losing body fat.  Keep in mind that at least one series is called Fundamentals of Fat Loss Diets Part 1 and Fundamentals of Fat Loss Diets Part 2 which lays out the real basics of what any fat loss diet should be about.  With that series alone, anybody should be able to get started on their fat loss goals.

And even while training isn’t quite as well laid out on the site (mainly because I haven’t written the articles yet), a similar case exists.  There are endless programs available which are time tested and have been proven to work.  I talked about three of them in A Look at Some Popular Hypertrophy Programs.  And that just scratches the surface.

My point being this: there is absolutely no lack of information regarding programs that have been shown to work.  Yet what do so many people do: feel the need to accumulate more information and more information before they ever get around to actually acting.  Which isn’t helped by the fact that so many programs seem to contradict one anther, at least superficially.  They don’t mind you, all programs that work share commonalities, they differ in irrelevant details.

As well, there is a continuous barrage of new information coming out in literature, etc.  Make no mistake, I keep up with it, that’s why I do regular research reviews and such.  But most of it at this point is minutiae, details that just don’t matter outside of a small percentage of the population if they matter at all.  The fundamental principle of what someone needs to do to generate fat loss or get bigger have been out there for years.  All that’s changing is minor details that are simply irrelevant to most people.

But that doesn’t stop people from spending days, weeks, months thinking that if they just get a little bit more information that they can finally reach their goals.  With the New Year’s Resolution time coming around, it’s going to get even worse, people will cast about for the magic program, the magic diet, the magic training and wonder why, by December 2011, they still haven’t gotten anywhere.  They will have spent the entirety of 2011 doing the same thing they did in 2010: continually absorbing new information without ever getting around to actually applying it in any consistent or meaningful fashion.

This is pointless and self-defeating.  What these people need is not information, they need to actually apply what they do know.  In a lot of ways it was simpler before the information overload of the Internet.   When you only know about one or two programs, you either do one of those two or you don’t do anything.  Now people can literally waste a career of training and dieting doing nothing but reading about the next magic program.

Yet somehow just reading about it fails to produce results.  What these people need is application; they need to take the information they already have, almost regardless of what it is and actually figure out how to apply it.  Don’t get me wrong, there are better or worse dietary or training choices for a given situation.   I’ve discussed this in various contexts such as the Comparing the Diets series.

But that doesn’t change the basic point I’m trying to make: most people don’t need more information, they need to apply the information that they have.  If this hasn’t made sense yet, I’ll follow up with a quote from strength coach Steven Plisk, written years ago in Hardgainer magazine (if my memory serves).

He said something to the effect of this:

We’ve tried every periodization scheme known to god and man with our athletes. What we found is that hard work on a mediocre program works better than half-assing it on the ‘perfect’ program.

Essentially he’s getting at what I’m trying to say a bit differently: application to the ‘non-perfect’ program is better than either trying to find the perfect program or finding it and then not working hard at it.

So this next year, if you’re wondering where 2010 went without you getting closer to your goals, look at what you did.  Did you continually look for more information, or did you actually focus on the application of what you already know works?

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