Monday, November 22, 2010

The Over-Thinking Exerciser

According to Wiki, the term "analysis paralysis" or "paralysis of analysis" refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or "perfect" solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

On a weekly basis, I am bombarded with questions from clients and other exercisers regarding some of the most profound, and sometimes, overly complicated inquiries about exercise, weight-loss and everything else in between. Here are some of the things I come across:

I didn't eat breakfast this morning, but I had a Snickers bar and that is better than not eating nothing at all, right?

If my left knee caves in during a squat on the first 3 reps, but straightens out after the 4th rep, does it mean I still have an imbalance?

I shouldn't bend forward because spinal flexion is bad, right?

Should I keep my knees bent at all times during standing exercises?

The photo in the textbook shows the man's spine in flexion during the deadlift. Does that mean the exercise is bad for you?

Where should I be feeling wood-chops?

My knee is going over my toe; I should omit this exercise, right?

My left glute is weak because I am right leg dominate, right?

My core is weak, that's why I can't squat, right?

In this age of self study, everyone is bombarded with information that creates  a "salad" of technicality and ignorance. There are exercisers that are trying to nail everything perfect because they "fear" of doing an exercise incorrectly; or they are afraid they will hurt themselves. The latter is a valid concern; however the exerciser never seems to progress beyond a level that challenges the body to change.  They create mental barriers, road blocks, or obstacles. 
Each road block created by over-analysis simply delays timely results and discourages the need to challenge the body. Over-thinking exercisers desire a perfect scenario during their workouts or during their sessions. They want to discover the outcome before they meet the challenge. If that is the case, shouldn't we simply all get gastric bypass or stomach stapling surgery because we know what the outcome may be?

What has happened to the good 'ol days of just lifting'? Back in the day, we didn't ask ourselves all these questions...nor did we tolerate people that were apprehensive when lifting. Today, we have fitness centers sprouting from coast to coast that discourage grunting, heavy lifting, and cut-off shirts.The internet is jam-packed with information from millions of experts that have simply followed one diet and achieved results and now believe that that same diet can help thousands of others. With countless resources of information, why is there still so much ignorance? Is the over-thinking exerciser skeptical? Does the over-thinking exerciser not trust their source?

If the exerciser's belief system can be profoundly changed to simply accept a task (exercise) and trust that the results will come through hard-work, commitment, and desire...than they will "just do it".


  1. amen.

    too much thinkin' leads to paralysis by analysis! :)

  2. I see this on message boards way too much..."why is this happening when "this" should be"? Or "can I replace this exercise for this even though the book says this?"...blah, blah...


Thanks for checking out the blog and commenting!