If you've ever watched the show Big Bang Theory you might know that it is an entertaining and funny show, but you may not realize that some of the ways in which science and scientists are characterized on the show are not very accurate. One of the main comedic elements of the show is between the character of Sheldon, a socially inept theoretical physicist, and Howard, an engineer. Sheldon arrogantly dismisses engineering as nothing more than the tinkering of those who aren't intelligent enough to do real science. Basically, to him, physicists do the work and engineers are not much more than glorified grease monkeys. Now, it is possible that many physicists feel this way but it shows a basic mistake in how the scientific process is perceived. So, for students of strength training or human performance, this is actually a good illustration of a common misconception about science, and it can serve to illustrate some of the misunderstandings of how science and scientific evidence can be used to inform training for increased human performance.
Continue Reading » The Big Bang Theory Of Fitness
In my article Progressive Overload and Its Application to Strength Training, I stated that the term progressive overload gets thrown around so much in fitness that it loses all meaning. I said that it is too vague and misconstrued. I complained that the goal of progressive overload is often substituted for the actual performance goal, as if these things are one and the same. In many fitness domains, they may be, but in strength training, they are usually not. Progressive overload is a principle. While progressively overloading your body is a training tool, principles themselves are not tools. This probably seems like a contradiction.
Continue Reading » Principles are Not Tools - More on Progressive Overload
Do you remember having to "compare and contrast" in school? It was an important writing and thinking exercise. Comparing and contrasting is also one of the main focuses of the fitness industry.
Often, when people are trying to sell us their ideas about a superior exercise or program, they pretend to be comparing and contrasting, but they are actually almost exclusively contrasting. Focusing on one or two small differences while ignoring the many similarities of two different things is a form of dishonesty.
Continue Reading » Comparing And Contrasting Fitness Exercises
Although you may come across a lifter, once in a while, who is stronger on incline bench press than flat bench, most of the time the regular flat bench press is stronger. Why is this?
Continue Reading » Why Can You Lift More On Flat Bench Press Than On Incline?
I would not try to mislead you with an article title, so I want to start by qualifying the title of this one. I do not claim to understand all the reasons why someone would be attracted to shortcut methods for getting a big deadlift or squat, and then end up wasting a lot of time on magic bullets that don't work. But, if your goal is a big lift, then I GET YOU!
And I while I have labored, preached, cajoled, and done everything else I could think of on these pages to dissuade people from taking such blind alleys, one thing I've never done is judged my readers. We want the same things. I'd rather take you out for a few beers than judge you for your mistakes. I've been misguided in the past, much more so than I'd like to admit.
Continue Reading » I Get Why You Want a Shortcut to A Big Lift
Why, yes! The popular entertainment site Buzzfeed loves to feature list articles where various 'experts' are asked questions. This probably actually means that the author simply features isolated quotes from their online articles, and pretends they interviewed a dozen people for one list article. In one such article, '18 Fitness Myths That Need To Be Stopped Immediately' I came across a gem.
Continue Reading » Is Getting Stronger All About How Much Weight You're Lifting?
A favorite phrase of well-informed personal trainers, when asked how to isolate a certain muscle, is "you can't isolate a muscle."
Technically, it is true. Muscles never truly work in isolation. For instance, even during an exercise like preacher curls, which seems like it completely isolates the biceps, there are other muscles at work. The primary movement in any biceps curl is elbow flexion. Although you may focus on the biceps brachii, there are two other muscles at work with the biceps to flex the elbow, the brachialis and brachioradialis. In fact, some folks may inform you that the brachialis is the prime mover and not the biceps, since the brachialis is the only one which is a pure elbow flexor.
Continue Reading » You Can't Isolate a Muscle, But Does it Matter?
Whenever you hear a fitness professional talk about what humans were "meant" to do, your bullshit meter should be pinging. Online fitness gurus love to vomit forth all sorts of hypotheses about what the human body was designed to do. And, when I say hypotheses, I mean uneducated, ignorant guesses. Those who place a lot of emphasis on lifting weights love to tell people that running is bad for you and will ruin your joints. One of their arguments tends to be that we were not "designed" for long-distance running. For example, an article in Breaking Muscle, supposedly busting fitness myths, quotes none other than Charles Poliquin, saying "Humans are meant to either sprint or walk long distances."
Continue Reading » Humans Were not Meant to Run Long Distances?
On Quora recently, a fellow asked that most typical question "what is the best way for me to gain muscle without becoming a gym rat."
What this fellow wanted to know was, basically, what was the minimum he'd need to do. He didn't want to be married to the gym. You can't really give a once size fits all answer to this question but one Quora responder did:
Continue Reading » Frequency is Not the Key to Success in Muscle Gaining?
If you are in the market for an Olympic barbell at a price you can afford, a great quality choice is the Body Solid 7 foot Olympic barbell.
I have always found Body Solid products to be well-made and very sturdy for home use.
Continue Reading » What is a Good Quality Affordable Barbell for Home Workouts?
You want a heavy squat but you just can't seem to add any weight to the bar. I can guarantee that it is because of one common problem that almost all squatters have. Once you fix this one problem you will be on your way to multiple squat PR's in no time!
Don't worry, I'll put in an anatomical diagram to prove I know what I am talking about. But let me explain how this one problem affects your squat, and why you need me to help you solve it.
Continue Reading » The ONE Problem That Will Keep You From Squatting Heavy
Quite a while ago, probably around 2006 or 2007, when "Practical Training" by Rippetoe was all the buzz, many people were wondering how to actually go about using the "Texas Method" 5x5 as mentioned in the book. There was no actual written program, only a loose explanation. Someone asked me how to do it, and I interpreted it. This "version" of the Texas Method found its way onto bodybuilding boards other than the board it originally was posted to. Not many people ever knew I wrote it down. I wish I hadn't. Now there are other versions of this "program" around, and hopefully, since then it has died the death it deserved in the first place. I doubt it, though.
Continue Reading » 5x5 Texas Method eBook? Don't Waste Your Money!
This information originally appeared as a forum thread here on GUS. In an effort to preserve the most popular (or perhaps important) information, before shutting down the forum, it will not appear as an article, permanently.
Regarding some questions about the infamous "buttwink" during the squat were posted on the Facebook page. I am going to answer them here as best I can. First things first, though:
Continue Reading » Curing The Buttwink During Squats
I have a dream. I dream of a world where strength training experts train people for strength and fat loss experts help people lose weight. In this fantasy world, neither pretends that the other is a primary goal. In other words, my strength experts will not claim that fat loss will make you stronger, and my fat loss experts will not claim that strength training will make you lose weight and therefore make you stronger.
Continue Reading » Cut The Relative Strength Bullshit in Fat Loss
Answer: It probably does, though of course it depends on the level and type of training.
Continue Reading » Does a Cool Down Period Help You Recover from Training?