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Beginning Weight Training Part 1

I don’t even remember when I first ran this article but I’ve probably run it annually since then.  And since it IS that time of the year again (and I wanted something a bit lighter than my last piece), it seemed appropriate to talk about beginning weight training.   It’s 4 parts which I’ll run two per week (so it doesn’t take forever to get to the point) and if you know anybody just getting started out, share it with them.

For the most part, articles about beginner’s training aren’t terribly popular.  This is because, with literally no exception I have ever run into in nearly 20 years of doing this, everybody thinks that they are more advanced than they are.  It’s simply human nature, nobody wants to think of themselves as a beginner or noob.  In the world of training and dieting the consequence of this is that folks tend to jump into advanced training or diet interpretations long before they are either needed or useful or they have developed the necessary fundamentals.

Not only is this not terribly productive, it can actually be detrimental to long-term progress.  Even if the person doesn’t get injured or burned out by … Read More

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What’s My Genetic Muscular Potential?

A question that comes up with some frequency on forums and message boards, usually from newbie lifters is along the lines of “What is my maximum muscular potential?”   Invariably this leads to a repetitive and pointless argument between those who believe that there are genetic limits to such things as muscular gains and athletic performance and those who believe that anything can be accomplished if you just try hard enough or have the right work ethic.

Now, it should go without saying that nobody can really say upfront what someones genetic potential actually is.  Until we live in the world of Gattaca where we can do a full genetic scan and know what it means, nobody can say ahead of time what someone can or can’t achieve.  Well, not unless you look at some pretty ludicrous extremes (you’re not going to see someone at 400 pounds ripped any time soon for example).

And, of course, worrying about such things before you even start training is sort of missing the point in my opinion.  At a fundamental level, trainees should train and eat properly and let the cards fall where they may.  Worrying abut what you might or might not accomplish … Read More

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The Baseline Diet 2009: Part 1

Preamble: I originally wrote this piece 10 years ago and have done rewrites to it over the years as the knowledge base and my own opinions have changed about things.  I’d note that, the changes I’ve made over the years are fairly minor and I’m actually pleased with how well this has held up since I originally wrote it.

I find that lifters, especially new lifters often get so fixated on magic, complicated approaches to training and diet (including mine) that they forget to get the basics in place.  The simple fact is that the basics and fundamentals are where every diet and every training program should start.

Why?  Because they always work.  More advanced approaches should be brought in when they are needed, not just because the trainee is bored or wants to do them.

The bottom line is this:  Before you worry about advanced approaches, get your fundamentals straight. That’s what The Baseline Diet is all about.

 

Introduction

I’m going to start this article with a few questions. How much mass have you gained in the last few months (or years as the case may be)? If you’re like the average lifter, the answer is assuredly ‘Not … Read More

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Reps Per Set for Optimal Growth

I’m going to throw out a weird hypothetical question that I want readers to consider before continuing with this article.

If you had to pick a single repetition range to train in for growth, what would it be?

That is, imagine some very strange situation where you could only train within a certain range (and let’s make that range something a little less vague then ‘Between 1-20 reps’ by limiting it to a 3 rep range) for the rest of your lifting career, what would it be?

I used to ask this of friends of mine in the field and, almost with exception, the answer was pretty much the same.  This was true regardless of whether or not they had arrived at that value from experimentation and experience or just looking at the research.

I’m going to take a quick look at the research (including a bunch of seemingly disparate topics) to tell you what I’d pick.

 

What Makes Muscle Grow?

I asked a job supervisor that question once once; he was a smart-ass like me and told me “It needs lots of sunlight and water.”  Close but not quite.

The mechanism of muscle growth has been under heavy … Read More

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Warming Up For the Weight Room Part 1

Warming up is a critical aspect of training that, because it’s really not very sexy, often isn’t discussed nearly enough.  Watching people in the weight room, people seem to fall into one of two categories when it comes to warm ups, either they warm up for ever and ever (exhausting themselves in the process) or come in and try to lift near maximum weights without any warm up at all.  Neither is ideal.

In this article, I want to look at warm ups, specifically focusing on weight room performance, I want to look briefly at the goals of the warm up along with how to practically program a warm up for optimal performance and results.

 

Purposes of Warming Up

As with most aspects of training, warming up is done to achieve a certain set of goals and looking at them is a good first step to determining what an optimal warmup should be.

The first purpose of warming up is exactly what the name suggests: warming the body and/or tissues that are going to be trained. There are a number of reasons that this is important.

One is that warmer tissues tend to be less likely to injure as … Read More