I loved the idiot abroad series with Karl Pilkington. One particular bit I enjoyed was when they asked Karl which super hero he would be. “Bull shit man” was his reply. It would be good if bullshit man could fly into the editing rooms of health and muscle magazines and just point the finger and say “bull shit”. Or better still, a man standing in Tesco looking at a health magazine on the shelf, before he wastes £4 of his hard earned cash bull shit man flies in with his cape on and says “bull shit, don’t do it!”.
You’ll note I’ve used the term ‘health magazine’ and ‘muscle magazine’ when really I mean any magazine that is specifically aimed at men (I don’t want to pick on just one of them).The word ‘Men’s’ and ‘Fitness’ may also heavily feature in the magazine title so I will leave you guys to put 2 and 2 together to find out which magazine I ‘might’ be aiming this at.
What’s the problem?
So what’s wrong with health magazines? Well I’d ask you what’s right about them. You think they’re in business to help people right, or provide ideas on training and diet that help the man of today be as fit and healthy as he wants. All the while basing their articles on science studies and sensible rationale? I’m going to point out the obvious things that are clearly wrong with these magazines, they may be obvious but thousands of us go out and waste money on this tripe each month.
The male model on the front cover
You want to look like the cover model don’t you? In fact the probable main reason you wasted your money on the magazine was because you saw the shirtless guy on the front cover and thought to yourself “I want to look like that”. The reader gets sucked into thinking that this chap on the cover got his physique by following the BS published in the holy grail of training and diet that’s contained in the magazine, and hence if you buy the magazine you’ll get there too.
The truth is the guy on the front has not used the methods in the magazine, instead he’s used a sensible system based on progressive overload training while being strict with his diet. Sorry its true- he didn’t use the ‘abs in 4 weeks’ pamphlet enclosed in the magazine.
Ironic I find it that these magazines always have the words ‘health’ and ‘fitness’ in them yet the cover model I suspect is far from healthy. But he’s shredded with 16 inch guns you say? Well that’s true but the methods he used to get there are far from healthy. The guy has likely used steroids to get the physique he has, not sure many doctors that would agree that injecting 500mg of Testosterone and 250mg of Trenbolone a week is all that healthy long term. For those of you questioning whether the guy is REALLY using steroids, please wake up from dream land and welcome yourself to the real world. He’s also likely used a diuretic to drop water weight to look shredded on the day which dehydrates him and dries him out giving a more ripped look. Another thing guys do before photo shoots is diet very hard often with low caloric intakes and low carbohydrate intakes again leaving the body depleted. Picture of health?
He’s likely waxed all over before the shoot, he’s either had a spray tan or sat on a sun bed to get the skin tone required. He’s also more than likely ‘pumped up’ before the shoot to make the muscles stand out and make the veins more pronounced.
Then there is the likely airbrushing and photoshop editing that happens to remove any small imperfections. Not to mention the guy will almost certainly have superior genetics than most, he will naturally have a predisposition to holding a low body fat, have a decent muscle mass, have great muscle insertions and when you combine hard work and drugs to this then it’s a perfect storm.
What I’m getting at is the cover model’s physique is a pipe dream to all but 0.1% (or less) of the population (especially naturally) and all that the magazine has achieved by including the cover model is given men insecurity in their own body and of course sell a magazine to you.
Creating insecurity in modern society
How many of your father’s (or any guy above the age of 50) remotely gave two shits about having 16 inch arms, or having abdominal muscles or waxing their chests? I suspect not one of them. Although there were the old school body builders of the 70’s as well as Charles Atlas and Steve Reeves who all had impressive physiques, there was not the constant media bombardment that men have today towards looking a certain way. We’ve all been brain washed. Is there any wonder why young guys have unhealthy obsessions with the gym, take steroids, have eating disorders and waste their money on supplements that don’t work, as well as buying health and muscle mags.
To me it is obvious. The media, which includes health and muscle magazines, tell us that a man should look like a cover model and that this is all that a woman wants. It plays on our insecurities that they’ve created in order to sell you the magazine and the products that are advertised in them. It is all about money and sales at any cost.
But these magazines are pumping out great content right to achieving all your training goals?
Most of what is published in these magazines, in fact 99% or more of what is published is complete and utter bull shit in terms of content. There are no two ways about it. In fact much of what is included in the magazine is usually irrelevant to what the cover is suggesting.
How pissed would I be to spend £4 or so on this magazine that had ‘health’ or ‘fitness’ on the cover only to open up the magazine and find shit loads of advertisements and product promotions, many of which are completely irrelevant which include:
- Omega watches-Thanks muscle mag. I want to find out how to drop body fat but what I’ve learned is I should be spending £600 on a gold Omega watch that Lewis Hamilton says he wears.
- Shampoo- You want 17 inch arms? Well forget that, you can have head and shoulders instead. Maybe if you rub it into your arms it makes them grow.
- Anti-ageing cream-You want some decent dietary advice? Who needs diet when you can reduce the wrinkles around your forehead and eyes buy rubbing some £20 cream into your face?
- Maxi Muscle protein supplements- No need for a consistent diet, just drink expensive supplement drinks for all your dreams to come true.
- Sexual advice- In case you have no clue what the fuck you’re doing in the bedroom (which the magazine will convince you) the magazine will include articles on ‘how to send a woman crazy in bed’ which offers tips and techniques in the bedroom. Thanks health magazine, if only I’d had this kind of help before I lost my virginity, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so bad?
Have a look at the picture collage below I created from one of these magazines, the content people are really after is not going to be found in these magazines. You’re just not going to get the results, but I promise you you’ll be poorer and be left clueless in the process.
Burn 3kg of fat with 1 dumbbell in 4 weeks? You heard it here first people. Forget a solid clean diet full of nutrient dense foods at a sensible caloric intake for your goals, a sensible training programme based on progressive overload and doing cardio because….all you need is a dumbbell and 4 weeks (face palm)
Same goes for 16 day abs? If it took just 16 days to go from fatty to 6 pack abs then wouldn’t we all be walking around with a fight club physique?
Running more to gain muscle? How many muscular guys do you recall seeing doing marathons, that’s right-none! Doing a lot of running by definition is catabolic, which means its breaks down the cells in the body including muscle. Excessive running is NOT going to be the most productive way to build muscle. Training with weights and eating is what is needed.
You’ll also see headlines on the front of these magazines such as “Best arm workout for 16 inch arms” or something along these lines. I’d love to know how many times the same magazine has published the best arm routine. I know there is more than one way to skin a cat but the let’s be clear, the elements of building muscle that are required are the same for every muscle group. There is no special way to train, you just need to be consistent, use progressive overload, eat well and monitor over time. Literally everything you need to know about how to build muscle can be explained in one book (or even a few paragraphs), so why do health magazines need to change it or drag it out over 15 years. Wait there is a pattern here! Selling bullshit to insecure guys to sell magazines and products all the while promising more next month to keep you buying more.
Hopefully some of you out there will be able to take something away from this, if nothing though I hope that you all know that bull shit man is out there and he’s watching over us all.