Written on May 26, 2009 at 6:52 am, by Eric Cressey
Today’s blog will serve as somewhat of a rant on how pro athletes and their training and nutrition are marketed to consumers. I’ll talk about a few examples, but first I’ll pose a question: does NASCAR really need an official laundry detergent? Anyway, I digress; let’s get to the meat and potatoes.
About once a week at Cressey Performance, we get a sales pitch – either via email, phone, or in-person – from a supplement salesman. Generally, this person is not a regular exerciser, and almost all of the time, he/she shows very little knowledge of the product. However, this individual always has plenty of confidence in its efficacy – which shouldn’t be surprising, as these folks are almost always involved in some kind of supplement pyramiding scheme. Needless to say, I get pretty tired of it.
Usually, these salesmen drop the “It’s the official <insert product genre here> of <insert pro sports team here> and <insert popular athlete here> swears by it.” An example might be “It’s the official calf raise apparatus of Cressey Performance, and Tony Gentilcore swears by it.”
Earlier this week, I heard that “XYZ is the official juice of ABC and JKL swears by it” – where ABC is a MLB team. I couldn’t help but laugh, as 74% of my athletes are baseball players (many of them pros) – so you could say that I know nutrition at the pro level pretty well. If there is going to be an official drink of Major League Baseball, it’s probably some kind of beer. If you think they are pounding this magical Kool-Aid, you’ve got another thing coming.
Perhaps my favorite marketing scheme is when a magazine publishes a workout program from some pro athlete – and I know it’s just flat-out untrue. How can I be so sure? I know their strength coach! We’ve known for quite some time that editors write the programs for pro bodybuilders in some of the older muscle magazines out there, but nobody seems to grasp that they often do the same for the athletes they profile. About two years ago, I heard that a 6-10 NBA guy notorious for his long arms and defense and rebounding prowess could bench press 455 pounds.
First off, I knew his strength coach, who told me that he would be lucky to do half that amount.
Second, the risk-reward of that 455 bench press is completely out of whack, and I know there is no way a strength coach (at least one who would like to keep his job at the pro level) would even let an athlete with a huge contract attempt that weight.
Third, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen anyone bench that much raw. In each case, they were shorter guys with short arms and big bellies to shorten the range-of-motion. A 455-bench press is a HUGE raw bench, and the chances of an athlete in a sport with such a huge aerobic component hitting it are slim to none.
Just some food for thought: buyer beware when you hear claims like these. Feel free to share some of your favorite examples below.