I’d rather be lifting.

The generally accepted fitness mantra for the past 50 years can be boiled down to these two points:

  1. Cardin, cardio, cardio, because heavy weights are scary.
  2. Eat carbs and vegetable juice, because fats are bad and proteins can be good but are mostly scary.

As far as getting people fit and healthy goes this doesn’t work, but the fitness industry is not based on getting people fit and helping them to improve their lives; it is based on selling memberships, lots of memberships. What they really want is to sell a membership and then the individual who purchased it never uses the gym. That’s a home run for the fitness industry. And of the people who do show up the vast majority get on some cardio contraption and turn the wheels whilst gazing at a television or reading a magazine.

They also run classes but the trend now is to do away with actual live instructors and instead replace them with a video of an instructor. This saves a lot of money but a video instructor isn’t going to correct your form. But that’s okay because correcting your technique isn’t part of the vision statement; it’s selling memberships.

But now people are slowly beginning to wake up. Maybe it has something to do with the enormous amount of fat slobs wobbling down the street.

From the New York Times no less, Lift weights, eat protein, especially if you’re over 40.

People who would like to become physically stronger should start with weight training and add protein to their diets, according to a comprehensive scientific review of research.

They’ve stuck the caveat of ‘people who want to become physically stronger’ but this is still a big step as compared to recent history. Eat protein if you’re over 40?? But surely that way lies cancer and heart disease and voting for Donald Trump???

But our trusty mainstream journos are still struggling with this complete inversion of everything they’ve been pushing as regards to health and fitness.

The impacts of this extra protein were not enormous. Almost everyone who started or continued weight training became stronger in these studies, whether they ate more protein or not.

But those who did ramp up their protein gained an extra 10 percent or so in strength and about 25 percent in muscle mass compared to the control groups.

How about that – a 25 percent muscle mass difference is apparently not enormous. Maybe this is because their definition of enormous is whatever fat freaks are waddling down the catwalk these days.

Lifting is king and eating lots of protein is king. My own gains have been proceeding rather nicely at the moment. I’d been having particular trouble with my low bar squat for the simple fact that I’d be doing it wrong. But a few videos helped me finally see the light.

This one from The Art of Manliness was my first introduction to Mark Rippetoe.

And then this one from Starting Strength coach Alan Thrall, (who seems to have some sort of shrubbery infection on his lower face), really sealed the deal as regards to me finally getting the right form:

In the past few weeks I’ve consumed a number of videos from these two guys and I’ve ordered the Starting Strength book.

There are also a series of “Ask Rip” videos where Mark answers questions from people who attend his seminars. Here’s a fine example:

In one of the videos, (I can’t find it right now), an older chap asks a question related to age. Mark inquires as to his age; the man says that he is 52; Mark declares that he is a baby.

This made me feel good in ways that you guys in your 20s just cannot understand.

Today in the gym I finally got my bench press weight increasing for the first time in a really long time. Technique matters. Strength matters. I’d rather be lifting.

How are your gainz going? Do you need a technique overhaul like I’ve just been through? Or are you seeing massive gainz of 25% muscle mass?

Just remember, that may be impressive but it’s not enormous.

19 thoughts on “I’d rather be lifting.

  1. earl

    I saw that same video on low bar squat and I’ve been doing better at it.

    Before I had the bar too high so I was going way to far forward when I went down…bad form but still getting some gains. Now it feels comfortable when I squat.

    I have long limbs and a long torso…so I don’t see gains physically too often but form is important for me since I have a long way to go down and back up.


    1. I saw an Alan Thrall video where he had a tall lanky guy and a short squat guy who was a full head shorter than the lanky dude stand next to each other to show the height difference.

      Then he got them to sit on a bench – same height. Squat guy’s bigger torso brought him up. Evens out in the end.


      1. earl

        I looked him up…one of his videos he was pointing out when he squats he doesn’t go all the way up during the set until the end because it rests the legs. I might have to try that.


      1. Primary Care Provider

        That was more a general audience tip and not directed at you, especially if you are making good gains. My PCP is useless, so I have to go to a specialty clinic (and pay out of pocket) to get my T levels back to functional levels.


    1. David Moore

      Unless you have some rare condition T levels are really not that big a deal. They certainly won’t be any obstruction to improvement that you could notice in any way.


      1. Wow, that’s completely the opposite of what happened with me. My levels were in the low normal range (350s) and I felt like shit all the time. Struggled for years before getting my T-levels checked and then corrected and am now putting on muscle tissue and making significant gains in strength. So I couldn’t disagree more.


  2. Jack

    Checkout the starting strength app, if you haven’t already. Keeps track of your progress and tells you what weights to warm up with, what plates to put on the bar so you don’t have to calculate it and has a rest timer. It also come with the book and videos on how to do each lift. It’s really helpful and only 9 bucks I think.


  3. I had to have a hip joint replaced and lost a lot of muscle mass, which goes to one of my life rules: never believe what another man tells you about a horse. Joint health is everything, if you are having trouble with range of motion get that right first before strength training. I do my range of motion exercises religiously. The strength training will then also improve your joint health.


  4. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 02.13.18 : The Other McCain

  5. David Moore

    “How are your gainz going? Do you need a technique overhaul like I’ve just been through? Or are you seeing massive gainz of 25% muscle mass?”

    Nothing is a straight line. My journey has involved two overhauls, but the benefits have been very significant. Last night was my first time with working sets for squat at 180. 200 is on the cards this year.


  6. TechieDude

    Those Rippetoe videos were instrumental for me making my way back after cancer therapy. It took six months to feel normal. It took another 3 at least to build back any kind of strength and endurance.

    The point he makes about free-weights building all those small muscles that stabilize you is true. Machines work just one group or so. I started off with just the bar, working on form above all else.


  7. okuin12345

    I used Starting Strength for over year and it was great – however after a while I got stuck. I tried some imaginative tweaks (bad idea), got injured, rested and started again with the Wendler 531 program. It’s super-appropriate for older lifters (I’m 52). It focuses on the big 4 lifts: bench, squat, press, deadlift. It’s good to add chin-ups, pull-ups and Pendlay rows to the mix to maintain balance between upper body pulling and pushing strength.


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