Fitocracy: Safe or Dangerous?

Have you heard of Fitocracy? If not, you probably will soon. I’ll quickly outline the social network for you and why I find that, despite the dangerous nature of the network, it is something all people should use. 

But what is it?

“Fitocracy turns fitness into a social game. Surpass your fitness goals by turning exercise into a game. Earn points for your workouts, unlock achievements, and tackle special challenges to push yourself forward. Level up in Fitocracy and level up in real life.”

This sounds awesome, right? Imagine if Facebook motivated you to get out of your seat and go to the gym. It would be not only the largest, but most helpful social network ever. Unfortunately, Facebook’s popularity further promotes a sedentary lifestyle, unless you are a person that becomes motivated by the infamous photos of people that work out and want to show it.

Naturally, I signed up and became a Fitocracy member. My schedule allows for me to go to the gym a few times a week and I figured I had nothing to lose.

The Positives

Motivational- The “game” is strangely addicting and is as simple as the description states. You complete exercises to “level up” and compete with your friends in a group or against the Fitocracy user base. Additionally, there are achievements to unlock for amount of weight lifted and time spent doing activities.

Recently, I completed the “I Prefer Being Off of the Ground” Achievement, awarded for doing more than 15 Pullups. 

Promotes Recording- Fitocracy also stimulates usage of record keeping for those that work out. People rarely keep track of the weight they are lifting and the amount of reps. Fitocracy makes you do this, which is great for weight gains and tracking progress.

The Negative

Unhealthy- Fitocracy indirectly promotes unhealthy working out. The human body is not like a game. Our joints and muscles need time to heal. Being awarded points to beat on our bodies is not healthy.

For example, more points are awarded for the more abuse you do to your body. The more weight I bench press, the more points I get. If I do 5 sets of 15 reps at 200 pounds, I am both doing damage to my body and helping my Fitocracy score.

Furthermore, if I spend 2 hrs at the gym, I will score more points than if I did a healthier half hr workout

Conclusion

Michael Liposwki, author of Pure Physique: How to Maximize Fat Loss and Muscular Development, writes about creation of muscle for a healthy lifestyle. Workouts should be limited in time and frequency; many gym-goers abuse their body with long workouts and actually slow development.

Repetitive, strenuous workouts, while good for your Fitocracy score, are not good for your body. My biggest problem with Fitocracy is that it tells people lifting more weight, more often is good for your body. If you can understand that “beating” your friends is not the goal of Fitocracy, but rather being healthy is, then I recommend you join Fitocracy. As it is still in Beta, request an invite from me and I will send it to you.

The potential for Fitocracy is incredible. Once Fitocracy creates its smartphone app, be prepared to see gym-goers taking time to log their workout totals in their phone. People need something to make going to the gym fun.

I commend Fitocracy for making health and fitness fun for the many people that are connected to the social world.

Do you use Fitocracy? How do you like it?

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14 thoughts on “Fitocracy: Safe or Dangerous?

  1. Fitocracy rewards you more for low rep workouts than high rep. Also, I read a LOT of scientific literature that suggests weight lifting is very good for you and low rep, high weight sets are optimal. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

  2. Hey Mark,

    Thanks for the comments! I’ve read material that goes both directions. One, especially for weight loss, says low weight high reps. The other, high weight for a couple reps.

    It’s more of, what is good for your joints and muscles? What I was hitting on is that weight lifting, while obviously good for health, should not be an every day activity. This is why we see things like diminishing returns. I’m sure you seen (i’ve done it myself) the act of going to the gym 4-5 times in a week and not seeing any productivity.

    IMO, the best action is to constantly challenge your muscles when working out. People that are doing 4 set of 20 reps are damaging their body more than they should. They hit the same areas multiple times a week, which I’m sure most trainers will say is a bad idea.

    To clarify, I absolutely love Fitocracy, it’s just that many people jumping on it use it for the competition of scoring the most points. This gamification is great, but is potentially harmful if they do not understand the problems this could create.

    Thanks again, man!

  3. OK – I understand what you’re saying now and I agree entirely. Doing ANY kind of exercise without understanding it will likely lead to damage, injury or no benefit. I took a weight training course in high school (long time ago, but I remember everything I learned) and now at work I have a gym in my building and staff there to help me with my form, so I don’t think about that aspect necessarily.

    Hopefully people who are just staring working out will visit the forums and learn, read the exercise descriptions and stay safe. Fitocracy does provide ways to learn good form and technique, which I applaud. The biggest benefit for me is making me excited about working out after work and then actually doing it.

  4. The excitement is a great thing. It worried me a bit as a bunch of friends and I are in a group on fitocracy. The motivation is great, but we were competing to see who had the largest point total. I’m in the rut now where my returns aren’t the greatest, so I have tweaked my workout to allow my body to heal before ripping the fibers again. Unfortunately, my friends continue the same workout routine and smoke my point totals.

    I did that for a while and then a friend of mine asked if I knew what damage I was doing. Short, proper workouts are better than the 2hrs of ridiculous lifting I once did

  5. The negative is pretty silly. You’re supposed to follow a program and have fitocracy as extra incentive to follow your training guidelines. Not go to the gum every day to score points. Regardless, following a proper program is going to be more points long term since you’ll go up on weight than overtraining and blowing out your joins during the first couple of weeks. That’s why the creators don’t want to so monetary monthly rewards and such.

    From your mentioning of “toning” it sounds like you’re pretty clueless about weight training and need to do more research.

  6. Hey Sharky,

    Thanks for the post. I’ll clarify for you: first, I agree with you that Fitocracy is an incentive. Have you used the program? For example, I score more points when I bench larger weights using questionable form. I instead use a TUT style where I use less weight to rip muscle fibers. If I wanted to score higher, I would bounce the weight and have higher point gain.

    Next, I agree also that going to the gym every day is bad. I disagree with you saying that following a program is going to score more points long term. Trainers believe in quality over quantity, and you aren’t going to blow out your joints in a couple of weeks. That takes time. A good program will say to give time for your muscles to heal and to not spend hours in the gym, instead maximize your time and training

    The idea of Fitocracy is awesome. I love that it promotes fitness for a generation that needs health more than ever. However, after using it first hand, it is an easily abused system by untrained gym-goers.

    And your final comment on “toning” is not meant for a seasoned person as yourself. Instead, it’s meant for the casual reader. The people reading my blog are not incredibly informed athletes that have been working out for years. Instead, they are the people that find Fitocracy and think that points=gains.

  7. Fitocracy doesn’t encourage you to beat urself up. It encourages u to do as many reps as you can. Try ur hardest. And the people give u props, which motivates you and makes u feel good. Plus, if you can lift it you might as well. It’s only the idiots that think they need to lift 150 pounds when they only can lift 100 that beat themselves up. Fitocracy is basically just sharing what u do to be proud of urself and motivate u to try harder.

  8. Plus, it’s better to beat urself up one day, and rest the next. That’ll help u gain muscle. And Fitocracy is better then doing no exercise whatsoever

  9. I’m greatly enjoying Fitocracy so far because it motivated me to not only go to the gym early in the morning (I have serious problems getting out of bed in the morning so earning points from my workout gives me added incentive), but also to do what, for the past couple of years, I’ve only talked about: joining a Capoeira group. Before Fitocracy, friends would tell me I’m too busy or uncoordinated to go, so I wouldn’t, but I’m playing Capoeira regularly now…and the selling push I needed was, “I wonder how many points I can earn from this!”

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