Fitness Myth Busting: Why You Shouldn’t Follow A Pro Athlete Or Actors Training Program


When Fight Club first came out I was obsessed with the body Brad Pitt had. Not in an I’m-hetero-but-this-is-making-me-question-if-that’s-really-the-case way. I was like 10 years old at the time, and that physique Pitt had made me want to start busting out push-ups all damn day.

The same thing happened when Blade Trinity came out. Ryan Reynolds looked fucking insane in that movie. He was ripped to shreds, and he looked strong like bull.

Which of course led to me searching the vast expanse of the Internet trying to track down the training program Reynolds used to get in that sort of shape. I was young and naïve at the time, I’ll admit. I wanted to follow the exact program, because I figured I’d get those exact results. Not even considering the fact that I’m 5’9 on a good day and don’t possess the same squared jaw line and devilishly handsome good looks as Reynolds.

This continued throughout the years, really. Any pro athlete, actor, or anyone in badass shape; I wanted their program. I wanted to look like them, and figured following their program would do it.

I’m not alone in this pursuit either. The fact that a quick search on the Google machine for “300 workout” brings up over 35 million results tells us a metric fuck ton of people are looking for workouts that celebrities and pros are using.

Not many people have stopped and asked one pretty important question, however. Should we be copying the pros?

Professional athletes and actors are talented and gifted individuals. They’ve got ample amount of time on their hands to train, hone their craft, and focus on one singular goal.

A professional athlete spends nearly every waking hour trying to look and perform at their absolute best. They have an entire team dedicated to this pursuit. Trainers, dieticians, therapists, and special hand job girls for when they need a quick rub and tug.

An actor gearing up for a big role is in a similar position. They have an entire team of people dedicated to making sure they look the part for a role, because at times the films success might be solely dependent upon that actor or actress looking the way they should.

In both instances, there are a couple of similarities. These people have a team behind them, similar to a NASCAR pit crew dedicated to their abs. And they have time. All the time in the world to devote to their look, or craft.

That’s not even mentioning the access these people have to PED’s or similar compounds, and world-class genetics that are rarely even talked about. That sort of thing goes beyond the scope of this article.

To put it simply, if you believe that your favorite actor or athlete got that way without some pharmaceutical help or thanks to their extremely superior genetics at some point or another, I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you.

Does that sound identical to what you’ve got going on? I didn’t think so.

When trying to look our best, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got. We’ve got jobs, school, and social obligations to manage. If we don’t have some sort of external motivation like a movie or game coming up, we usually let ourselves slip a bit on a diet or training program. It’s only natural.

Which is also what plays into a psychological phenomenon known as the survivorship bias. The survivorship bias states that we have a tendency to remember the examples that worked, and then forget the ones that didn’t.

This is usually the case with pro athletes and movie stars. More often than not we’re talking about the genetically elite. What happens when the genetically elite devote all their time and attention to something, add on the help of an entire team, and maybe add pharmaceutical help for good measure?

They get results you and I couldn’t dare replicate on our own.

In most of these cases, those people could take any program they wanted and give it a go. They’d likely get great results, too. That doesn’t make the program great though.

Following the exact same training and nutrition plan of your favorite Hollywood hard body can evidence this. Did you wind up looking identical to them? I doubt it. You probably looked better than before, but not the same.

This is the survivorship bias and a major fitness myth at work. We see these results one person got, and neglect all the help they had along the way. The very help we wouldn’t have if we tried that program.

Does that mean you should stop trying to do the same workouts as The Rock? I’m not saying that. I’m just saying you need to take into account that maybe you don’t have the same circumstances as The People’s Champ before knocking out a two and a half hour leg day and eating 10,000 calories.