If you follow fitness online, specifically on YouTube, you might want to know who the worst fitness YouTuber is. After all, you want to know if you should be avoiding somebody’s advice, right? In this video, I am going to explain to you the problem with the use of the term “suboptimal” and what I think needs to replace it in order to benefit the fitness community.

It seems everywhere you look when it comes to online fitness, you have somebody throwing out the term “suboptimal”. Whether it’s a video reviewing somebody else or even just a comment left on a post; we have countless instances where someone claims that something is suboptimal. To me, this sounds like the new version of “CNS burnout,” a common buzzphrase that was seemingly used by everyone as an excuse for something not going well in their training.

Not only do I think that this is the new buzzword when it comes to fitness, I also like to consider it the new “mommy pay attention to me” format for fitness social media. I find that people posting fitness content online are so devoid of content, that they have to resort to criticizing others and trying to call something they are doing suboptimal in order to gain the attention of the audience.

As a fitness professional, I have never made a habit of criticizing other trainers or even influencers. I understand and appreciate, instead, the thing that should be the next buzzword in fitness: context. I find that context is one of the most important things to understand when it comes to reviewing somebody else’s training or training program.

Too quickly, someone will rush to call something suboptimal based on their own lack of knowledge. Knowledge around the context of what someone is doing is extremely important because it can help you to understand exactly why somebody might be doing something. I have a problem when someone ignores context and makes a statement based on their blanket expectations. It’s important to understand that not everyone shares the same goals, limitations / accessibilities, or needs.

Somebody who is new to fitness, has limited access to equipment, and history of injuries is going to be training very differently than the 4x Mr. Olympia, Chris Bumstead. This is an example of context. Another example would be a barbell row vs. a chest supported row. Before saying that the chest supported row is suboptimal training, you might be pressed to know that the person performing it might have a low back problem that doesn’t let them bent-over row.

What about combination exercises? Those can’t be optimal when the limitations of one hinders another. Well, what if you were doing that combination for a specific purpose like creating a conditioning effect? Or what about a dumbbell front raise vs. a pate trap raise? Someone might call one of these exercises suboptimal and they look similar, but they serve different purposes. One is for the shoulders and one is for the lower traps, so how can one be better than the other?

I can even even relate this back to my time with the New York Mets. When a player would go down with an injury, the training staff would get numerous letters with speculation of how and why that player got hurt. In every instance, they had no idea the actual context around the injury and were often writing in based on a report that came out in the newspaper. A report that often didn’t include the actual nature of the injury, such as an adductor strain being called a hamstring strain.

Another instance of this occurring is when Lebron James released a video of himself squatting. People online were so quick to judge and comment on his depth, or lack thereof, and call what he was doing suboptimal. These people had no context as to why he was squatting like that. How did they know that Lebron’s trainer didn’t program for a specific reason? There’s research pointing to the effectiveness of quarter squats when it comes to basketball players and their on-court abilities such as jumping and explosiveness.

So, before you go around calling somebody’s training “sub-optimal”, you need to understand the context regarding what they are doing. Just because it’s not something you do or it doesn’t fit your specific goals, does not mean that isn’t optimal for somebody else.

For a step-by-step workout program that takes all of this into account and takes out all the guesswork for you, head on over to the ATHLEAN-X website via the link below and use the program selector to find the one that best matches your goals.

For more videos on effective exercises and workouts, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on YouTube using the link below and don’t forget to turn on your notifications so you never miss a video when it’s published.

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    56 replies to "The WORST Fitness YouTuber Ever (HARSH!)"

    • ATHLEAN-X™

      *THE GIVEAWAY IS BACK* – I’m giving away my brand new complete 90 Day Beaxst PPL program to 40 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 40, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached! Clicking twice does nothing. Only one entry per video. Remember to watch to the end for more workouts.

      If you don’t win, no worries, you’re not going away empty handed. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

      • send it

        There is not alot of people I will give the time of day for when they are shutting some one down. But I always will when Jeff does. This man has the experience and knowledge to shut everyone down. Thanks Jeff. Your amazing.

      • Rusty_Johnie

        @Chylece Cluck yes

      • Rusty_Johnie

        @Abhijeet Shrivastava yes

      • Michael Rhoades

        so why was cbum in your thumbnail? Throwing shade at a 4 time champ or click bait? …Unsubscribe

      • ATHLEAN-X™

        @Michael Rhoades Sooooo, you didn’t even make it past 5 seconds in the video before you left that comment? You need better retention skills – love, jesse

    • Gary Smith

      Does anyone else feel like you’re in trouble when Jeff gets his chair 🤣

      • Ben Vista

        Nobody gets scott free bashing educated people unless the facts are superior than what was taught in university, otherwise, justice served right whoever ridicules this educated coach

      • Jossue

        Some of us are, dude, some people have been listening to ignorant TikTokers or whatever

      • Nathan Scott


      • Sergio Lopez

        Hey champ…

      • Oscar Rocha

        I had my head down ready to get verbally assaulted for something I did

    • Frankyy N

      This video is exactly right. The way fitness is now is that everyone’s own way of doing it is the ONLY way of doing something without knowing the full story as to why somebody is doing something a certain way.

      • The Serenading Slasher

        @S. Ward  didn’t mean to trigger u pal lol just dont think he knows everything

      • ayayay

        There are scientifically good and bad ways to train. Athlean X is not the right person to listen to for advice on what is a good workout programme

      • The Serenading Slasher

        @ayayay  ya I kinda feel this, I follow him for his physical therapy stuff like lower back pain relief and plantar fascitis work cuz that stuff is his specialty but a lot of his workout stuff is…questionable lol

      • michael vanderlaan

        @ayayay exactly. Some of his excercises are interesting, and his paid programs are fun, but they’re also all over the place, change from week to week and ax1, which is marketted as a beginners program, won’t prepare a newbie for the 400 challenge let alone the later challenges if its followed by the book.
        I injured my knees doing max shred with the crazy amount of jumping and hopping for timed sets in that program.
        I see this video as a way to excuse the poor programming advice while not admitting that he’s wrong, which is the opposite of humility.
        When the “haters” critique each other they at least acknowledge the criticism and correct their mistakes, or even agree to disagree, but at least they acknowledge the criticism and revise their work, jeff just ignores it and occasionally makes a video like this which effectively gaslights all the other fitness content creators on YouTube.

      • S. Ward

        @The Serenading Slasher in comparison to the rest of the goobers on IG and YouTube? ABSOLUTELY HE DOES

    • M Bee

      Respect to you Jeff. Thank you for being humble and always professional.

      • Top Striker Academy

        And sub optimal 😂

      • TheNerdyGinger

        Reading this as Jeff says “You’re trying to get the attention that Mom didn’t give you” 😂

    • James222

      Nice to see Jeff putting the sub optimal Youtubers in their place.

      • Luca Ferrieri

        And optimally didn’t finger them all our even though they’ll self-report with their own response video – they know who they are

      • K4R3N

        Well played sir

    • Teagan Giselbrecht

      I don’t know where I’d be in life without Jeff. Such an important and authoritative voice. But most importantly the strong, confident, understanding and encouraging message that’s put into every one of his videos. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be into fitness as much as I am now. Thank you Jeff and Jessie ❤

      • Petting My Cat

        chill out

      • Liam Burns

        This has to be a troll

      • Teagan Giselbrecht

        @Liam Burns 😢

      • Teagan Giselbrecht

        @Petting My Cat can’t cat

      • Nassar

        @Liam Burns why do you think so?

    • Jason Walp

      Thanks, Jeff, for explaining yourself and for bringing to the forefront the idea of context when reviewing others’ work and workouts. I also like that you pointed out where you had been guilty of maybe the same thing in the past and apologizing for it. It takes a mature, wise person to do that. Keep up the good work. I always use your videos to guide me and pretty much use them as the high water mark in order to gauge any other workout videos.

    • J.P.

      This is why I appreciate Jeff, he understands there is nuance to a training program. What’s best for one person is not what’s best for everyone.

    • Mohammad Quanit

      And this is exactly why I only follow your content. As a matter of fact, you think about the actual context rather than showing only sexy stuff and this makes big difference to those who really trying to get better in fitness and health. So thank you Jeff we really appreciate your honest work.

    • Wayne Delorme

      Jeff clearing the air about the other trainer shows how solid of a human being he is.

    • Soham Datta

      He just roasted every ‘fitness influencer’ who stupidly critiqued him 😎

      • Gordon Smith

        They got torched lol

    • Ronnie

      I have always came to this channel for fitness and training advice. Not only does he show you proper form but he explains everything in detail. Been a loyal follower for 10+ years.

      • Nom Nom

        @Music Man Explains why you’re laughing all the time, since your life is a joke

      • Sola Scriptura

        @Nom Nom ,
        How would you even know….or suspect…his “life is a joke”?
        Real talk.

        Don’t respond with ignorance.
        I am interested in knowing your reasoning for trashing Music Man.

      • Nom Nom

        @Sola Scriptura
        Okay to provide the context, that dude is a troll. This has happened in several recent Jeff’s videos. Get an extension to search for his comments in Jeff’s videos and you’ll see what kind of comments he’s writing.

        He’s going around bragging how ripped he is at 63 and if you don’t workout at home and take 0 supplement like him, you’re somehow inferior to him.

      • Nom Nom

        @Sola Scriptura First time I confronted him in the comment of the video “Get “Six Pack Abs” in 22 Days! (2023 AB WORKOUT) · ATHLEAN-X”, he used this “Music Man” account and pretended to be a different person and sided with his other account.

      • Nom Nom

        @Sola Scriptura His other alternative account is FREEDOMRINGS by the way, search it.

    • QuinntessentiallyMe

      Holy crap, all of this really needed to be said. Also, thank you for holding yourself accountable for past mistakes.

    • d s currier

      I am so glad you are addressing this. That is the most frustrating thing in fitness and health… the amount of people that swear by what works for them and admonishes you for what you are doing. Everyone has different paths and different journeys. There is no “one size fits all” and is terribly frustrating to have so many people chiming in with their superior knowledge.
      Thank you, Jeff. I sincerely thank you for all your videos.

      • William Tomkiel

        and just wait until you find out what life is like after 50- or 60- or 70 0r +++
        but don’t quit if can avoid it

    • Robert Walkine

      Really thought Jeff was gonna name drop somebody he didn’t like. Instead, we got a lecture, a critique on the current trend of the fitness industry with regards to social media and influencers, and a moment of humility and reflection from Jeff himself.

      Thank you for all that you do and more, and continue to be a man filled with integrity and humility.

      • And M

        @Adam Waind the fact is, there’s so many it could be because THIS IS the current state of fitness YouTube. Everybody’s a pro at correcting somebody but not doingggg

      • And M

        @Levi Efrauim because he’s 260 lbs and can’t move he’s mad Jeff doesn’t have people straight bodybuilding on machines all day. I watched his videos but when I saw he does nothing but bash I stopped supporting that crap

      • Matt HW

        @Carnivorous Vegan or they don’t watch garbage

      • Charlie Parks

        Yeah, big muscles isn’t everything. Makes fun of bicep curl. Preaches and need to be stronger than chest on cable pulls.

      • Jubei Kibagami Fez

        I’m still waiting on the Y T beef between Jeff and VShred.

    • Talon Fitness

      This is realistically one of the most important videos you’ve ever put out and you hit the nail on the head in a few ways that does not get brought up enough.
      First off, Jesse’s great. If he says it’s suboptimal, he’s right.
      But more importantly context and understanding the fact that there is no singular best way to skin the cat not just for any given individual, but for that individual at any given point in their training. I for one fully believe that, objectively, some of the best lifts a person can do are a deadlift or a squat. And still believe that after an injury to my lower back that made them both at the time unbearable and truly suboptimal to my recovery. And it took me a while to swallow that pill. But after a few months off of performing “suboptimal” exercises I’m right back where I was.
      Second, I love the emphasis on the fact that progress and healthy long term maintenance isn’t flashy. It isn’t sexy. And the sooner people stop comparing their “boring” work to what they see on social media, the better they’re gonna be. The Zac Efron part is a shining example.
      Lastly, and this is something I’ve always appreciated about Jeff. Is that he admits when he makes mistakes. No excuses, maybe an explanation as to why that mistake was made but thats purely for context. It really makes my and I’m sure a lot of other people’s respect for guys who can do that go through the roof.
      Keep it up. You never know who you’re inspiring.

    • Big Al

      I’m 70. I stumbled on Jeff’s channel 10 years ago while looking for proper form on several exercises. Still watching and still lifting. His videos and training through the pandemic really helped. Thank you Jeff and Jessie.

    • Craig Reynolds

      As a trainer myself, I can’t argue with any of this.

      So much fitness social media now is narcissistic, judgemental, and ego-driven, with everyone thinking they’re an expert in their field – forcing the actual experts to make videos like this.

      Context is everything. If this video reinforces anything, it’s that we should either ask questions, respectfully, or mind our business.

    • The Bioneer

      I couldn’t agree with all of this more!! 90% of learning to be a good coach is learning to apply the right exercises to the individual in front of you and not to assume the same cookie-cutter program is appropriate for everyone. And this is where I think a functional approach to training really speaks for itself.

      This is why I think YouTube fitness is lucky that this is the channel that garnered such a huge following. And it’s why it’s all the more admirable to see you being such a class act and constantly rise above criticisms that do indeed lack nuance and context. Imagine a YouTube where everyone took this approach…

      And one more thing to add: sometimes coaches do make mistakes and that doesn’t necessarily make them terrible, either! Please never change, Jeff! And thanks for always setting such a great example.

    • Tone and Tighten

      🗣️ SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!!! Outstanding perspective and very informational. Thanks Jeff and team! 🙌🏼🙌🏼

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