MON: Burpees & The Dunning Kruger Effect

You know that friend with whom you least like to debate? They take a stance, and they will die on the hill defending it whether or not it has any factual merit, or worse yet, because it is born from an incredibly small selective sample size that’s carefully chosen to confirm their own bias?

Guess what? GUILTY. This guy.

We’re all guilty of it in some manifestation, every one of us. It’s human to believe that you’re right when you’re having a bar stool beer argument, but if we’re not careful it can creep into important intellectual and physical parts of our life and have real consequence.

There’s science behind that, and we have two psychologists to thank for discovering it: David Dunning and Justin Kruger. The Dunning Kruger effect is a bias in which people with a low level of subject matter knowledge have false superiority and mistakenly assess their knowledge as being greater than it is.  Quick – what’s something you don’t know shit about? If you have to think long and hard to unearth something you have little knowledge of, you just might be a victim of Dunning Kruger false superiority.

The question and challenge I would like to pose to you is, where are you guilty of the Dunning Kruger effect when it comes to your fitness choices? I really could care less about your politics or anything else, but what decisions do you make in fitness that you know to be true and accurate. What hard line stances do you take that if you were to honestly assess them, would realize that have never really taken the time to discover if they are in fact true?

Back in 2011, I knew that snatches were bad for your shoulders. I avoided them entirely and I advised others to do the same. It was completely misguided based on selecting low hanging observational fruit: ill-prepared people performing them poorly. It was not until I went to hear Bob Takano teach weightlifting where he said something that kicked me in the teeth as a 27 year old know it all. “People who say snatches are dangerous are really just expressing that they have no idea how to properly teach them.” DAMN, son. Facts. Straight facts.

I was using bad snatches to misjudge good snatches. Doesn’t mean that everyone performs them poorly, but that kind of selective bias is exactly where the Dunning Kruger is born and it’s used to back nearly every idiotic argument.

Social media is a horrid place when it comes to fitness advice, everyone’s an expert on all things. Ben Bruno did this on Instagram with burpees earlier this month, and an army of Dunning Kruger’ers couldn’t have been more excited to follow suit and slam the burpee. Why? After all, my assertion is most of those people have been doing burpees for years and are totally fine from them. When the hell did lying down and standing up become dangerous? You know how many people I’ve seen get injured from a burpee in ten years as coach of everyone from pro athletes to first timers?


But what’s at play in these opinionated swings?

Illusory superiority based on selective bias, not fact, and that shit is EVERYWHERE.

Will weights really make you bulky? Will strength training really slow you down? Is 85% really too much for you? Is running really going to strip all of your muscle?

We all sit behind a wall of faulty logic and false superiority on certain topics, whether we know it or not. My challenge for you is to make your fitness and the exploration for body’s ability the very last place on Earth where you self impose limitations born from nonsense.

Explore and discover what is true. Don’t lean on your selective bias.


Monday, 2.11.19

First. For Strength
25’ to find a 3RM

Then. For Conditioning, FAST.
5/s Kettlebell Front Rack Squats
40 Plate Flutter Kicks
10 Plyo Skaters
100m Run

Max Hollow Rocks + 10 Swimmers