Why Do People Buy Into Frauds On The Internet?

By: Brian Carroll

Weak guru’s are around everywhere. Online coaches, gurus and all this jazz have flooded the strength industry over the last three years.

Yes, I’m going there, again. Why is it that some people get so very popular, stay that way over time and become known as a guru? First of all, there are a lot of gullible people out there. Also, marketing. If you have a lot of extra cash or have some nice financial backing, you can ‘grow’ and have an internet presence that can dwarf others. For example, think of the six pack abs on TV.

I’ve literally known some below average lifters use 7-8 different coaches over a 3 year span just because they fell for the gimmicks and the big talk. Listen, just because someone has 1,900,000 subscriptions on YouTube, does NOT mean they are going to help you meet your strength, endurance or athletic goals. This especially means that they won’t help you any better and faster than someone who has been there, done that, and done it better than someone like Ed Coan, Stuart McGill, or Steve Goggins with maybe 5K subscriptions? Popularity and massive growth/advertising is not always (and usually not) an indicator to quality and what you need.

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Need an example? Who is going to have the better burger – McDonald’s or the new mom and pops joint with fresh Kobe beef with all the best of everything for your burger? Maybe everyone knows who McDonald’s is, it’s popular with advertising and you’ve been brainwashed that it’s the best, right? Are you going to get a truly good quality burger? Fuck no. The ignorant will go to McDonald’s just because they don’t know better. The masses will follow like the sheep they are. Someone says some cool stuff with zero substance and people will line up like lambs to the slaughter house because someone made their corn hole tingle or because they got goosebumps.

I know that I have written on this topic a number of times over the years, but I always come back to a rant like this because now, more than ever, everyone is now a strength guru. Guys that have competed in a powerlifting meet or two, did shitty by anyone’s standards and now they want to spread the knowledge, cash in on the cash cow that is POWERLIFTING/STRENGTH TRAINING programming and here they are – spitting out 1100 totals at 242 like a BOSS.

Back in the day, before suckers could get suckered on the interwebz with marketing & advertising, we would have laughed you out of the gym if you were peddling your senseless, useless crap onto a group of real lifters. Worse than a Mormon on Friday afternoon coming to your house – you would have been shown the door with a few insults. Imagine some half  whit shrimp walking into West Side telling Lou and the morning crew, “Hey guys, I did one meet and totaled 1400 at 308 and I want to show you how my methods are better, you guys are doing it wrong”.

Anyway, I digress. There are ways to avoid being sold a bill of goods and being bamboozled.You may be scared to see what you will find, or it will open you eyes. Personally, I don’t like to live in denial, though I know some do. For those that do not, check out these tips and learn to research your man-crush.

THEY DON’T STAY IN THEIR LANE

When in doubt, defer to those who know what they are doing in this specific arena. I don’t dabble in Strongman or CrossFit. I will help them with their big three lifts, spine health and overall nutrition/supplement protocol. However, I would never try to meddle in anything that I have never done, done well nor had enough experience with coaching and having been around it. This is something that has to be taken into account. If you are not strong, have not produced any strong athletes, not put in your time and paid your dues – you should not be charging people to coach them in anything. To be plain and simple, if you cannot participate in this endeavor whatsoever yourself and have never done it, you should probably run like a rabid dog chasing you trying to give you the clap. You would not pay a tutor to help your son, daughter or even yourself if they did not even understand the subject themselves. How would they be able to help others?

There’s only about one person I would trust with so many different things concerning endurance and strength (ENDstrength), and that is Tony Cowden. He’s done it all, he knows his limits and goes outside for help when he doesn’t know what to do. Hey, I have a great idea, ‘train me for the military but make sure to have never served, went through selection or even boot camp!. I’m going to get you ready for selection and special ops, but I really have no idea what that means’.

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WHO DO THEY ROLL WITH AND ASSOCIATE WITH?

Crooks, cheats and thieves or even worse…frauds and weaklings? This is a little more subjective to opinion, but the old rule remains the same. If you lie with the dogs, you will get fleas. Is your ‘guru” in bed with scum bags who are known for ripping people off, being dishonest or are just bad people? This might get a few people sassy, but you are who you roll with homie, sorry.

That being said, if the majority of what you see, hear and experience is not positive in any way nor is uplifting and helpful, then you should probably look elsewhere. There are problems with everything, nothing is ever smooth sailing. However, some problems are easily avoidable and picking your associates you surround yourself is HUGE. Do they ruin clients lifting, bodybuilding/powerlifting careers and injure them? Are they blatant fakes/frauds? Do they lie about what they are doing, have done and with whom? Do they steal content and claim it as theirs?

I’m not talking about writing an article on the same subject as someone else, this is fine and has been done many times as not much is new anymore. Copying someone’s philosophy or unique material and claiming it as theirs or irresponsibly assigning protocols that were not created by themselves is a different story. I see this a lot with the conjugate program. I am not not an expert with Westside/Conjugate, but everyone else seems to be. They ride the coattails of one of the BEST coaches ever and uses it as if it’s their methodology.

WHAT HAVE THEY PRODUCED THEMSELVES AS FAR AS RESULTS AND CLIENTS?

Have they done well? Have they created some monsters out of those around them (their training crews, training partners etc)? Have they taken their clients from terrible to average, from average to good and good to great? Are they freaking reckless athletes themselves and brag about doing dumb shit? Furthermore, do they practice what they preach?

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The proof is in the pudding. Just because someone has a big name or owns a big company does not mean anything. Maybe they are great business man, and if the numbers say so, then it’s likely true. The same goes for an athlete – how do their numbers measure up? I’m sorry –if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – well you have a duck. Don’t hire a duck or follow a duck for your endeavors. If they haven’t been able to run a crew, coach groups of lifters they see every day and know, how the hell are they going to be able to relate and help you 1,000 miles away? Better yet, are they a theory type of coach where they have zero practical experience, and zero experience in the real world. There are a lot of these key board warriors as well! Great idea – let’s bring in a faux specialist to help with ones deadlift when they were a terrible puller themselves! Yes, makes perfect sense. They have it all figured out on paper man! Google and YouTube is helpful!

Just as you wouldn’t want to learn Algebra from a professor who can’t solve for ‘A’ worth a shit, why would you listen to anything about strength training from a guy who can’t squat his ass off the toilet without breaking form. If you can’t find your guru in action and if the action you find them in is sub par, then beware.

WHAT ARE THEY ACTUALLY KNOWN FOR?

You most definitely must do some digging. Is your ‘guru” more well known for their hip social media posts, witty comments and being well liked?What about their YouTube videos and the things they do that may be cool or motivating for a short period of time?

Are they great debaters, or are they ones who carry a giant stick quietly? By the way, being a good debater does not make you an expert on anything. There’s a huge difference in the two and most will not have both. Someone like a Paul Carter, Dr. McGill or a John Meadows. They all are good at what they do, smart, eloquent, are great at expressing what they believe in, advocate, and promote with their work.

Someone that comes to mind that carries a mighty stick is Shelby Starnes. He has done the shit himself and well, he always turns out top athletes and does it extremely consistently.

Caution. What I’m not saying is that if you are not these four guys; that you suck, have no credibility, have no business in the strength game etc. I’m just saying they have their bases covered, in my opinion.

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Look, being popular does not make you great other than in virtual reality life. It’s too bad real competitions are done in real life. Unfortunately a lot of times, people want someone to relate to, which is not always a bad thing. On the other hand, some people want even a father figure if you will, not someone will take them to the next level. I understand coaches like this are appealing, but here we go again. Do you want a cult of personality or do you want to get much better, learn, stay healthy and kick ass? Get references from their clients – both former and current. One simple word of advice? Do your research.

HARD IS FAUX CORE, NO DAYS OFF!

“You have to want this more than anyone”. There is way more than just wanting something – otherwise people starving for food would magically find a meal, always. In other words; does being hurt, being super hard core, their injuries and ‘tough’ guy hardcore stories and sayings carry more clout than their actual ability? I would rather not be mangled and worthless by the time I’m 45. In what world should this be acceptable and a motivator? Not in this world, it’s not about a following or a nice gym with toys, it’s about results – end of story! It is most certainly not about who has the most injuries. Does your “guru” wear their injuries like a badge of honor? If so, then you should be running for the hills. In these cases, those who get injured the most and brags about it is probably only going to be good to you if you want to follow suit and rip your body to shreds. This is also probably a good distraction for them so they don’t have to talk about their lackluster lifting /athletic career. Hell, if I never lifted anything for crap, never beat anyone and choked my entire lifting career, I’d probably distract people too.

At the end of the day; do you want to follow someone who could never lift for shit, never ran well, never competed, was a mental midget with every excuse in the book, never beat anyone or ran, lifted and were out totaled by guys half their weight on a regular basis? What can they actually teach you other than what it’s like to lose?

Is this the guy you want in your corner (figuratively and literally) if you’re fighting? The guy who always gets choked out or KO’d every time – but is a cool, charismatic guy and you look up to him? He has your back right? Hell no, you want the guy who will give you the best chance to be your best at whatever it is you do. Then after you have dug some in their background to see who they have trained, worked with, studied under then – do even more digging on them.

DO THEY FABRICATE THE TRUTH OR ARE THEY HONEST WITH THEIR RESULTS?

Does their bio change almost daily, just as the tides do? Are their numbers inconsistent and embellished?The best way to pick up on a liar is to find inconsistencies in their stories/bio’s. This is becoming every common as the ante is being upped almost on a daily basis with the number of ‘coaches and athletes’ blanketing the strength game. Many feel the need to embellish and straight up lie about their numbers, feats, accomplishments and accolades. It’s just the way of the world, unfortunately.

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Some count gym lifts, some count fantasy land comps, lifts with training partner/spotter help and some just straight up lie and fabricate. This is a great reason why gym lifts do not matter for shit. There is no quality control nor verification that anything happened. My uncle benched 500 for 10 too that one time. I get it, there are somethings that you really don’t want to know about people. Though if you are going to invest in your training, you want to know as much as you can about someone. Ask them questions if things don’t add up. Be direct – you are actually interviewing them for a job – to coach and guide you. Don’t be shy. Do your homework and make sure they pass your test.

DO THEY HAVE ANY REAL DOCUMENTATION OF THEIR CLAIMS, FEATS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

Is there any proof of claimed feats and does your ‘guru’ avoid the topic when asked? If there are no video recordings of said feats, no witnesses to any of these ‘claims’, and cannot find any rankings, then chances are they are probably full of shit and you ought to move on. 

If mostly what you find is just unsubstantiated claims, then beware! Keep in mind, it’s freaking 2016. With the social media fame and technology craze and boom, you have to understand that everyone has a damn cell phone with a camera. If you’re telling me you nor your training partners never have the chance to film or document your claims and there are no meet results to back up what you’re claiming, then it’s probably time to update that bio again and make it true to what is really going on.

Here’s the thing, the truth always has a way of making its way to the surface. People will start to question why this person seems to be all talk, with no documentation whatsoever. Sooner or later, a fraud is always discovered.

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There are a lot of good coaches, lots of great people to follow – hell look at our site PowerRackStrength.com – we are loaded with great content and logs updated weekly. Follow guys who have been there and done it; not people that talk about it, never have been there and run when challenged to something they supposedly specialize in. Debating and posting the CPU is more fun!

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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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