Top 3 Fears of the Beginner

The other day we uploaded a close to 2 hour podcast where Nick and I spoke of the fears of a beginner. I will now attempt to narrow all this down to the 3 main fears and their solutions. Wish me luck!   Fear 1 Weight lifting will make me heavier; I want to lose the belly so I’ll do cardio (or many many plays on this). The truth is that if your goal is fat loss based, which these days is 95% of you, then you need to lift weights. The more muscle you can develop then the greater the calories you’re burning -all the time! For fat loss the truth is you need to lift weights in a manner which will increase muscle. Ignore the scale and take body measurements; some should increase while other measurements decrease, this shows muscle gain and fat loss, which is exactly what you want.   Fear 2 I don’t want to get too big! You won’t! Muscle increase doesn’t happen by accident; it takes a lot of hard work, repeated several times a week for a year to make what for many would be a noticeable difference. The truth is that if your goal is to increase muscle by 10lbs then you need to act as if you want to put on 50lbs; this will put you in the right frame of mind and 10lbs will happen in 3 months. If you’re scared of putting on too much muscle then it may never happen.   Fear 3 Dumb exercise selection   He won’t get big doing this!   Beginners do dumb...

Are You Gambling with Alternative Medicine?

From Google’s Define Feature: medicine: the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease alternative medicine: any of a range of medical therapies that are not regarded as orthodox by the medical profession, such as herbalism, homeopathy, and acupuncture. Harmless, or Dangerous? The saying, “Physician, heal thyself” comes from the Bible Luke 4:23 (King James Version) but has since morphed into “Patient, Heal Thyself.” This wording (changed from “physician” to “patient”) was popularized by an alternative medicine practitioner who has had several products removed from the marketplace by the FDA and been fined $225,000 by the FTC. The wording is catchy, but dangerous when problems are serious. Medical professionals are well equipped to deal with serious problems, but “alternative medicine practitioners” aren’t. That’s why we pay experts the big bucks in the first place… for their expertise. Non-accredited, unlicensed, alternative medicine practitioners like Dr. Hulda Clark (doctor of zoology – not a medical doctor) who practice medicine and are forced to flee the country on accounts of negligence and fraud… are at one end of the spectrum. There are also fully qualified medical doctors in research settings who are experimenting with new modalities of treatment that are not yet available to the general public. This is not alternative medicine per se, but rather medicine that has not yet been shown to be safe and efficacious for the medical practice… which is why it’s not yet available to the general public. No secrets, no conspiracies, just regular old medical research as usual. Somewhere in between are most of the alternative medical practitioners – doing things that aren’t accepted...

Allons Travailler

When, in his excellent autobiography “Hitch 22”, Christopher Hitchens completed the “Proust Questionnaire” he replied to the question What is your motto? with Allons Travailler. Which was the same answer given by the great French writer Emile Zola. It loosely means Get on with it! Hitchens also mentions E M Forster’s extension, which I like more than Hitch did,  which was to “get on with your own work, and behave as if you were immortal!”   Great man, great writer, great book You might be wondering Dear Reader, if this is going to be more of a philosophical piece? It’s not; although what I’m about to say could be used in other areas of life; indeed as was the case with Hitchens. I am going to stick with how one is to act in a gym environment. Now I’m not expecting everyone I come across to behave in the gym like Chuck Vogelpohl, who is the most intense lifter I have ever come across, but there are certain standards I expect. Come prepared to lift / work. I remember one old friend of mine who came to visit upon seeing the gym said that there was nothing easy that could be done here; the whole environment screamed WORK, HARD WORK! If you’re not prepared to train hard then you’re merely exercising. Mind your language. I really don’t want to hear about your shitty job, problems with your partner, or especially how your joints or injuries feel, now is not the time for such talk. Now is the time to lift. If you do feel chronically tired, or are carrying injuries then these issues...

Do People Really Believe This Crap? – The First of Many I Suspect!

I would like to apologies to listeners of the Mighty Cast.   When episode 75 is posted you’ll notice on listening that I get somewhat distracted while Nick was in full flow. I have to admit that if I were the professional I claim to be that my full attention would always be on the show, but for a minute or two today it wasn’t. I was flicking through cable TV channels silently when I came across the laughingly ironic TLC which stands for “The Learning Channel”. And on this trashy excuse for a television channel appeared the witch that is Oprah Winfrey! I know I should have stopped here but rather like trying not to look at a car wreck I couldn’t quite stop myself from pushing the “I” for more information button on my TV remote.   Dear Reader I was (not) disappointed, up on the screen came a description of the interview taking place: Oprah & Caroline Myss: Intuition, Power And Grace A spiritual teacher believes everyone can fulfil their own “sacred contract”— a set of assignments the soul is meant to achieve.   This time the lie was only this big! From the fraud, I mean lady who brought you celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson who “believes” women should never lift more than 3lb dumbbells because that would make them “bulky”. She also brought you that paragon of pseudoscience Dr Oz, and the hugely successful and highly questionable self help guru Dr Phil. Does this witch have anyone on with anything to offer? Maybe I’m being a little unfair here, as I don’t watch her show; I even made Nick watch the...

More Than Just a Pull

The Deadlift is often referred to as “The Pull” by lifters and fans of lifting and strength sports in particular. This is rather unfortunate because the Deadlift is much more than just a pull.   The great Dan Green displaying “thickness” you could say!   Indeed, you might pull the bar off the floor but I would contend that one of the best coaching cues one can give is to “push the floor away”. That makes the Deadlift a pull and a push at the same time.   When I see beginners attempting to Deadlift I usually see two things: They have no business Deadlifting from the floor; they lack the flexibility and they need to start with Rack Pulls from an appropriate height before progressing onto full Deadlifts. While it is hard to say for sure that these misguided trainees are opening themselves up to injury, it scares the hell out of me, and I don’t like horror shows. . Their hips rise as soon as they initiate the movement, which means that the lifter is pulling on the bar using their lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, among other muscles but not their quads.   The fix for number 2 is, as you initiate the movement think about pushing the floor away from you, then as the bar breaks from the floor think about pulling your head back. Yes, just like with the Squat “head back” is a great cue.   Another useful, and rather unusual cue I use, as in I haven’t heard it put like this before, is “contact”. Contact refers to the lifter keeping “contact” with the upper edge...

Your Own Relativity

I’m not sure that Einstein had this in mind when he came up with his “Special Theory of Relativity” in 1905. In fact to coin a current popular phrase I doubt he even lifted. He Didn’t Even Lift! The relativity I’m speaking of is your own reality as far as training is concerned. We are pack animals, when we enter any environment for the first time we observe to see where in the pack we are. If you’re an experienced trainer then you might look at the biggest, strongest guy and move down stream from there. If you’re a beginner then you might look for the skinniest kid first and move up from him. This is human nature, neither good nor bad, it’s just the way it is. You might well ask if this is the case then what concern is it of mine? Well Dear Reader, the concern is this; the environment you train in can have a huge impact on your progress. Where would YOU make the best progress? The local “Fitness First” where there’s a guy who can half Squat 200kg, but that one time he almost hit depth he barely got 120kg! Or my own little dungeon “Darkside Barbell of London” where even the beginners are Squatting 120kg for reps. The message here is that if you have access, any sort of access at all to a lifters gym then take advantage of it. When you train you will continue to compare yourself to others and move up or down the ranks accordingly. If you settle for the middle of the pack (just assuming) then the...