Can you trust your favourite fitness guru?
Updated: Jan 11
Kenneth Seet / @kennethseet
Fitness enthusiast, new dad, probably best known for his abs
I know what you’re thinking while you scroll through my Instagram page. Who does this guy think he is, taking his shirt off wherever he goes? Even at the grocery store? Seriously? If you’re sick of looking at my abs, don’t worry; my wife would like to pass a message along to say that she knows how you feel. Like many other fitness influencers on Instagram, I look like someone who knows what he’s doing. But the truth is, being aesthetically pleasing doesn’t necessarily translate to being functionally fit or having the right knowledge.
Despite the way I look, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, especially when I first started lifting weights. I didn’t have much fitness knowledge or a proper training regime when I embarked on my fitness journey eight years ago. I merely imitated what other people at the gym were doing and only trained muscles you can see in the mirror like those in my chest and arms because I wanted to look good, ignoring my legs and my back. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but injuries come knocking on your door when you don’t know what you’re doing
"I used to also believe in the widespread misconception prevalent in the fitness industry that more is more, and more is always better."
Deadlifting with poor form presented me with lower back and glute injuries; I tore my wrist ligament after picking up weights much too quickly, and the shoulder issues I have are the result of failing to properly warm up and stretch in the past. I used to also believe in the widespread misconception prevalent in the fitness industry that more is more, and more is always better. You can - and should - always go that extra mile. Always, always perform another rep or add more weight - if you’re not pushing yourself to the edge of or beyond your limit, then you’re not being productive enough. In actuality, you can’t go to the gym consistently expecting to lift the maximum amount of weight you can lift in a single repetition or lift heavier than you did the day before. It’ll break your body - the same body you need to carry and run after your kid, the only body you have. This misconception that I used to have even spilled over to my short stint as a personal trainer. I admit I used to want to push my clients to their limits, but I now know that such a mindset can cause injuries that can be easily prevented by taking a step back.
Developing my brand as The Guy with The Abs started out as an accident that eventually became more deliberate after I noticed that posts of me being shirtless, accompanied with some fitness advice, tended to gain the most traction. That also marked the start of me trying my best to answer each and every fitness-related question I receive on Instagram. If I know the answers and have proper advice to give, then why keep it to myself? I’m more than happy to share, especially if it saves you from making the same mistakes I did.
"Who does this guy think he is, taking his shirt off wherever he goes? Even at the grocery store? Seriously?"
As The Guy with The Abs, I can confidently tell you that you won’t get abs from doing ten thousand sit-ups on a daily basis, but rather from consistently performing compound exercises and watching your diet. Compound exercises are exercises that work out a few muscle groups at one time, as opposed to isolation exercises like bicep curls that only work one specific muscle group (your biceps) at a time. A few main compound lifts I like to focus on at the gym include squats, bench presses, deadlifts, shoulder presses and bent-over rows. Bench presses, for example, work the chest, shoulders, and triceps. And finally, when it comes to abs, your genetics plays a part too; it’s a fascinating concept that not many people with abs talk about very often. I’m blessed in the sense that I’m genetically lean, because the less body fat you have, the easier it is for your abs to show. Rather than tell you this, some fitness influencers with abs may sell a series of workouts promising abs like theirs in a given amount of time. Sometimes, you may not see results, but in more serious cases you can injure yourself, especially if you don’t work out in the correct form. And some injuries, like ligament tearing and joint injuries never really fully recover; I sometimes still feel the niggles of my past injuries, reminders of the mistakes I’ve made and things I could have done differently. I’m a lot more aware of what I’m doing now, but many fitness influencers make their living never knowing. Being able to sell yourself as a fitness guru online is not the same as actually being a fitness guru. So don’t believe everything you see online - sometimes looks (and abs) can be deceiving.
"Injuries come knocking on your door when you don’t know what you’re doing"