The Social Media Lifts: Four Bullshit Moves That Won’t Make You Stronger

By Brian Carroll (written in April 2014, recently edited 6.14.21)

I know this is becoming a running theme here, but I hate what social media has done to perpetuate bullshit throughout the fitness industry. This spreading of the disease is bad in and of itself. Still, the biggest problem here is that it eventually trickles down to all the well-intentioned people who read this bullshit and give it credence, thinking they’re actually learning something worthwhile.

There’s a whole genre of this bullshit out there that I’ll call the social media lifts. To qualify as a social media lift—or fugazi social media piece of training advice—the move in question has to meet the following four criteria:

1. It won’t make you stronger.

2. It doesn’t carry over to your squat, bench, or deadlift.

3. The only probably result of doing this thing is wasted time and an injury.

4. Strong people never do this thing as a focal point in training.

The main idea is to build your strength and confidence with exercises that’ll help you instead of the garbage that inflates your ego.

The solution? Wake the f**k up, and avoid the following four bullshit moves like the clap:

1. HIP THRUSTS WITH MORE THAN YOU CAN DEADLIFT: Granted, this movement can be somewhat useful, but only if it’s (maybe) fourth or fifth on your priority list on squat or deadlift day. If you’re thrusting more weight than you can deadlift, you’ve got some serious problems, and they may not be solely in the physical realm. Have you ever seen Andy Bolton doing hip thrusts with 1100 pounds?

No, because that would be stupid—and dangerous to his spine, with the weight moving all over the place. Activate your glutes? Sure, that works. Load up the bar to show your Facebook friends how much you can thrust? Stupid. Keep your weights light, use thrusts as a warm-up or a finisher, and work the movement, not the weight. (Editors note: the people who have perpetuated this nonsense the last 7 years have been exposed.)

2. SLOPPY SHRUGS: Here’s another one people love to attempt with more weight than they can deadlift. I love shrugs as a back, grip, and core builder—even using straps or varying grips—but if you’re shrugging 600 and you can only pull 405, you’re building little more than your ego, and you’re asking for an injury.

If you’ve compromised your training with this kind of shit, lighten the weight and work on getting a controlled squeeze. Ditch the straps and practice holding onto the bar as long as possible. Instead of shrugging like an idiot, try this variation:

3. THE HALF LEG PRESS: This one is an epidemic. Everywhere you look, you’ll see guys wrapping their knees and performing leg presses with 350,000 pounds for 1-2 half-reps. I’m not as against the leg press as most gurus—it’s been fashionable in the industry for quite a while to say you are—but it’s an exercise that requires some modicum of care in terms of programming and execution.

It’s also pretty far down any intelligent list concerning importance. In 10/20/Life, I have a very comprehensive list of exercises that address your weak points, and half-rep leg presses with an insane amount of compression on your spine aren’t worth the trouble—or a spot on my list of useful assistance moves.

To work these in properly, perform your reps with lighter weight and a full range of motion. Do them piston style—without locking out—to take the pressure off your knees. Realize. However, that leg presses are neither a substitute for squatting nor a measure of strength.

4. GETTING HYPERMOBILE: Let me make one thing clear: If you’re a strength athlete or someone for whom getting stronger is a priority, being too mobile is a terrible thing. Being tight and wound up is what makes you explosive and strong. Some athletes can be both hypermobile and strong, but they’re outliers, and you’re probably not one of them.

Please show me a truly big bench presser who’s not stiff-looking (and yes, I coach the guy in the video). The best benchers in the world have massive girth, they have a hard time lowering an empty bar, and it’s almost like they have a natural bench shirt on. The same holds for big squatters. Matt Wenning can squat 900 pounds wearing just a belt. He’s wound up like a spring, and it takes him at least five warm-up sets to even approach parallel. This is not an accident.

A loose, stretched muscle is a weak one that puts more stress on your joints, and my work with Dr. Stuart McGill really hammered this home for me. Dr. McGill is decidedly not a proponent of mobility work unless it’s necessary to maximize his athletes’ potential—and with over thirty of his athletes competing in the last Olympics, including several medalists, I’ll take his word for it.

Blindly doing mobility work is a waste of time. In my case, my lumbar and pelvis were hypermobile, and this contributed mightily to my many back issues. The solution for me? I had to stiffen all the involved muscle groups. If you need to loosen up your hips, work them with movements like goblet squats and go through a solid warm-up instead of blasting your mobility simply because all the cool kids are doing it. Try the warm-up protocol I give you in 10/20/Life. I promise it’ll change your outlook on everything.

Stark Reality

By removing these four pieces of bullshit from your repertoire, you’ll be helping yourself immensely—especially if you stop posting photos of yourself doing this stuff on social media. In that case, you’ll be doing a service to the industry, helping us sort through all the nonsense we’re constantly fighting off.

Mind you, none of these things are inherently bad. They’re just bastardized in many circumstances, presented poorly by people who don’t know what they’re doing—or who they’re hurting with bad advice—and distract everyone from all the genuinely good information that’s out there. When you see someone doing something questionable, whether it’s on this list or not, ask them the following question:

“Why are you doing that, and what’s the reasoning behind it?”

If they can’t give you a solid answer, or you’re wondering why you’re doing these things yourself and can’t come up with any justification, it’s time to change things up, get real, and start doing shit that’ll actually help.

Want to learn more? Get your copy of 10/20/Life HERE!

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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.
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