These are posts that will provoke some discussions.
If you’re a health and fitness professional, you know there are plenty of differing opinions, strategies, and methods floating around out there. And if you’ve dabbled in social media, you will also be aware that people can be very free with their criticisms in the comment section—so it’s important to make sure what you’re saying is solid.
Very few things in the exercise world are black and white. You’ll always come across those who disagree with your methods. That’s why we use case studies, evidence, and experience to back up what we are saying and promoting! Some topics, however, are more controversial than others.
Should you avoid these tricky topics entirely? Not at all. If they’re relevant to your practice and your business, you can talk about them—but consider these pointers:
With the right approach, a post about a controversial fitness topic can boost your engagement. There’s nothing like some spirited discussion to get people commenting! Here are some of the current fitness subjects which may provoke people to defend their positions.
How many reps for muscle growth?
The two sides of this debate generally fall along the lines of moderate reps vs. higher/lower reps. Moderate rep range of 6-12 reps (close to failure) is the general wisdom, but there are those who prefer low reps with higher weight or high reps with lower weight. There is also evidence to suggest that a combination of rep ranges can contribute to maximised muscular potential.
Intervals or steady-state cardio?
Which of these is better to increase endurance and burn fat? HIIT certainly has its fans, and there are plenty of people who prefer to go for a run. Both have benefits, and there is middle ground too—rather than slowly plugging away at an exercise bike, throw in some different resistances or pick up the pace for a minute here and there. Aerobic and anaerobic can work together towards the goal of better cardiovascular performance, so don’t discount either one.
Do you want to be flexible or mobile?
The flexibility vs mobility debate is warming up. Gurus will tell you that passive flexibility is out and mobility—the ability of joints to move freely through a full range of motion—is in. Flexibility is about muscles, and mobility is about joints. You might even hear that too much flexibility can predispose you to injury. Honestly, both of these things are helpful, and there’s no reason to throw one out in support of the other.
Compound exercises or isolation?
While it’s commonly accepted that movements employing multiple joints—which can be as simple as squats or lunges—form the base of most workout programs, there is a time and a place for isolated muscle movements too. These can help, for example, to build up and strengthen easily injured muscles. So don’t throw your bicep curls out with the bathwater.
Work one leg, or both at once?
Bilateral and unilateral lower-body training exercises need not be at odds, but they often are. Trainers may argue that unilateral (single-legged) movements are lower-impact for the spine and have a higher requirement of stability, working a lot of smaller muscles. They also increase training volume. However, bilateral movements can allow for more strength gains, require less coordination, and will increase your weightlifting ability.
Are corrective exercises necessary?
Many trainers are very big on corrective exercises—that is, additional routines and movements to correct perceived imbalances and faults in larger movements like weightlifting. Others prefer to forge ahead without assessment. And again, there’s no 100% right answer. How much of the “corrective exercise” theory is necessary, and how much is too much? A good question to pose yourself and your audience.
Should you be doing extra core work?
This one’s specifically relevant to weightlifters. Some coaches believe that full-body barbell lifts activate your core muscles enough that anything else is unnecessary. And they certainly do give your core a workout! Many people believe that the core can be a weak link for lifting, and putting in some extra time and effort to strengthen it is well worth it. Where does the truth lie?
Should your core prevent motion or create it?
This could also be presented as the divide between proponents of core stability and core flexion/rotation. Should you be doing planks or sit-ups? There are theories to support the idea that too much lumbar flexion and rotation can cause injury. But for a fit person with no history of back pain, Russian twists and crunches can be beneficial and build strength.
Is metabolic resistance training better than cardio?
Metabolic resistance training is a style of workout designed to use maximum calories and create an oxygen deficit that forces the body to continue to burn them for hours afterwards. It is also said to increase cardiovascular fitness as well as muscle.
Why, then, would anyone want to do traditional cardio? Simply because they enjoy it. Walking, running, swimming, and other exercises are beneficial and also enjoyable for a lot of people. And that’s fine.
How much should you be monitoring?
Monitoring has gone far beyond the simple pedometer. We can now wear devices that track heart rate, sleep, calories consumed and expended, and more. The controversial topic here is this: how much tracking is too much tracking? Do we need to know everything? Should training be based on how the client feels rather than the cold hard statistics? It’s a great question—and a good one to throw out to your followers! Different people will be motivated by different things.
So go ahead and post about these things—but be aware of the controversy that they hold. Be prepared for heated and passionate discussion, and always display an open mind!
Engagement on your social media is fantastic, and topics like these are likely to achieve it. But remember that a super-strong stance on one of these questions could cause followers to take issue. If you’re OK with that, go for gold. If not, proceed with caution.