Descartes’ mechanism and the muscle-centric approach in fitness

Rene Descartes was a 17th century French philosopher known for his concept of consciousness and the emancipation of man through thinking when he wrote: “Cogito ergo sum”, “I think therefore I am “.

Descartes was in Plato’s dualistic theory of the body and mind. According to Descartes, humans are made of two dimensions, the body and the mind, unlike nature and animals who are one-dimensional as pure machines. However, the human body in itself is a machine. Bodies are submitted to physical and mechanical laws; this is Descartes’ theory of the animal-machine.

The question is: is the muscle-centric approach to fitness mechanistic?

Fitness’ muscle-centric approach is focused on muscles as types, categories, functions, performance and their respective related types of exercises and nutrition. Although being direct consequences, fat loss and general health are not the main target in the muscle-centric fitness. The main target is optimizing muscles with strength and performance. In other words, this approach is very much cartesian mechanism.

Muscle-centric paradigm is thought of as new because it is applied now in some types of fitness but it is rooted in the 17th century philosophy. Whether one likes it or not, it is very efficient.