The Truth About Three Common Industry Terms

After almost two decades of being in the health/fitness/bodybuilding industry in one form or another, as trainer, writer, consultant, or what have you, I have heard all the catchy industry terms that are used to sell supplements, diets, and exercise plans to people. Some really stick in my craw as the old expression goes. I think of them all, these three below never seem to go away and exasperate me every time I hear or see them. In no particular order, here’s my three least favorite industry terms people have heard,read, or said at one time or another:
“I Just Want To Tone And Firm”
There’s no such thing as “toning and firming.” How can that be you ask? I will tell you. Your body has no idea -or specific mechanism-for “toning and firming.” You can gain or lose fat and you can gain or lose muscle. That’s it. Those are essentially your choices based on biological reality when trying to alter your body composition. Now, if you lose some fat and gain some muscle, you will be more “toned” in appearance and “firm” to the touch, but the body does not know from toning and firming, and that’s a fact.
Thus, your goal should be to lose fat (not just weight!) and gain, or at least maintain, muscle. People who focus on weight loss only often end up a smaller version of their former selves, often flabby and with high bodyfat levels. They are neither “toned” in appearance or “firm” to the touch. Why? Because they made the mistake of focusing on the wrong goals of weight loss and “toning and firming” versus what actually matters: losing fat and gaining muscle.
Telling people they need to lose fat and gain muscle to achieve the body they want does not sell diets, supplements, and exercise programs to people; it’s not catchy or sexy, but the generic term “toning and firming” sounds perfect for selling all of the above.
My articles, seminars, books, ebooks, etc. have always focused on that key message of what actually matters once you strip away the annoying industry terms: fat loss and/or gaining muscle when one wants to alter their body composition for the better.
“All Natural”
I just hate this term! It means nothing at all yet people seem to fall for it virtually every time. Flying is not “natural” to humans, yet we do it all the time. Uranium is natural, do you want to eat the stuff? Of course not! All manner of life saving medical procedures are not natural, but will save your life. The point is, “natural” is an irrelevant ambiguous term. We can come up with a long list of both “natural” and “unnatural” behaviors we humans engage in constantly, some times to our benefit and some times to our detriment, but the term “natural” has no value in a logical/science based conversation when discussing nutrition, human health, supplements, etc. When you see it being used in some supplement ad, ignore it.

“You Don’t Need Supplements”

This another non starter for me as it lacks any internal logic, and suffers similar pitfalls of the “all natural” statements. We don’t “need” clothing, but it sure comes in handy in cold weather, we don’t “need” TV, but most people seem to enjoy them, we don’t “need” Novocain, but it sure comes in handy when having a cavity filled, we don’t “need”…well you get the point and see where this is going. We don’t “need” a lot if things in this life we use, enjoy, and benefit from. Does one “need” supplements? Of course not.
Let me qualify that statement: does a person need any supplements to achieve the basic goal of either adding muscle or losing fat? No, no they don’t. Can supplements help the process? Can supplements potentially speed up the process? Can supplements potentially offset some of the negatives? Can supplements help optimize the effects of exercise and diet? The answer is yes in all cases. The problem, however, is that I see far too many people under the impression that the next wiz bang “cutting edge” supplement is going to make some huge difference to their appearance while their diet and workout are put on the back burner or set low on the priority list. They are constantly looking for that one supplement that’s going to make all the difference while they ignore their nutrition and training! I see it all the time and frankly, it’s frustrating. But I digress!
The term “you don’t need supplements” is often part of a longer statement, which is “you don’t need supplements if you have a good diet” as if the two were mutually exclusive. Why can’t you do both? That’s what I do. Supplements are not an excuse to have a poor diet, and no matter how perfect you think your diet is, various supplements can add benefits (ergo, the term “supplement” as in “supplemental to a good diet.”) to any diet, and some supplements can have effects/benefits beyond what any diet can supply. So, the term “need” in the context of supplements is without any merit and worthless. People should always strive to have a healthy diet, and should feel no guilt over adding various supplements to that diet that may have additional benefits.

  1. tobias s buckell 16 years ago

    My wife has the best response to ‘all natural’ hype. Her rhetort is ‘X is ‘all natural,’ huh? That’s great, so’s cocaine, but you don’t see me using that either!’

  2. Author
    Will Brink 16 years ago

    Tobias, three cheers for your smart wife! 🙂

  3. GunNposes 16 years ago

    You got me laughing, not at you but how you expose the misleading buzz word’s of today’s fitness world.

  4. Nick Nilsson 16 years ago

    I’d like to add another to the list…
    “Backed by the latest research”…
    Yep, the research shows a big effect but when the actual research was done on malnourished children in an Eastern European orphange rather than actual healthy, trained individuals, it doesn’t really apply!

  5. Author
    Will Brink 16 years ago

    Nick, if you download the free ebook reports you will see I cover the various industry terms such as “research proven” and a bunch of others.

  6. Nick Nilsson 16 years ago

    Hadn’t had a chance to read through those yet but I’ll do that!

  7. Chauncey Mccarty 16 years ago


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