DON’T FALL FOR THE NOVICE EFFECT

A lot of people claim to find miraculous results with scientifically baseless training programmes. Some of these plans are nothing but shams that are mass produced by ‘online trainers’. People report feeling better and stronger and losing inches thanks to these programmes. How does that happen? Well, it’s actually a psycho-physiological phenomenon called the ‘novice effect’.

Read my article about the noive effect as printed in THE DNA http://www.dnaindia.com/health/column-don-t-fall-for-the-novice-effect-2334788

A lot of people claim to find miraculous results with scientifically baseless training programmes. Some of these plans are nothing but shams that are mass produced by ‘online trainers’. People report feeling better and stronger and losing inches thanks to these programmes. How does that happen? Well, it’s actually a psycho-physiological phenomenon called the ‘novice effect’.

Most of these people who claim to gain spectacular results are absolute beginners. And a body that has never been put on any kind of routine is subject to the novice effect. When your body is put on any kind of regimen for the first time, the results are rapid — even if the training method and diet is not optimal. When you are put on a regimen, your hunger automatically reduces, and you lose weight, because you end up actively eating on a schedule and not on a whim. So even if your diet is a bad one, you actually see some results.

The initial progress you see in strength is mostly just out of your body learning a particular movement and getting better at it and the central nervous system recognising it — it is not an actual spurt in strength. Which is why people who could hardly squat with a bar on their back report being able to squat 60 pounds within 12 weeks or less, even on a gimmicky training programme.

That’s the physiological aspect. Now let’s look at the psychological aspect, which plays a major role in the ‘results’ you hear about. A person on any ‘programme’, no matter how gimmicky it is, is invested in it. Given that they have chosen that programme and paid for it, if it fails, it reflects badly on them. That intrinsic motivation pushes them to work on it harder. At times, it also pushes them to overstate results. Also, when you are actively looking for a certain result, you are more likely to see it. Yet another feature is that the placebo effect is the strongest when you are a novice and don’t know how the body/system really works. So psychologically, that does drive some key results.

If the novice effect works even with fraud diets and training programmes, why should one be against it? First, because of optimisation. If the novice effect can give you results even with bad plans, what amazing results you could have with a scientifically correct nutrition and training plan.

Second, because of longevity. The novice effect wears off soon. And if you have been on a bad training or nutrition programme, the loopholes begin to show — your weight rebounds, your foundations are weak so your progress plateaus hard, you have been training wrong so your basics that could help you progress ahead to higher levels are flawed, etc. In short, after the benefits end, you are stuck. You’ve been conned. And you aren’t any wiser for it either.

When you choose as nutritionist, trainer or a fitness consultant, make sure you choose someone who has genuine certification, and has trained not just beginners, but also real athletes. If possible, always choose a person who consistently works with the same group of athletes/clients for years because that proves that he or she does not only rely on the novice effect for results, but actually knows how to work beyond it.

""

-Pushkraj Shirke
Fitness Columnist, The DNA

Advertisements
pushkrajshirke

Ex-adman. Film Director and Photographer. Fitness, Strength Training and MMA enthusiast. Critical thinker. And insane enough to publish materials for free so that i can be downright honest and un-cut and don't have to censor facts to suit sponsors and the 'profit' concerns of publishers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s