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Weightlifting is about longevity and quality of life. Looking good in a bathing suit is just a bonus.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a movement in America to discourage people from lifting heavy weights, or any weights at all. Doctors prescribe cardio for people who need more physical activity, diet books consider cardio the only form of exercise that exists, and TV shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ strongly promote, you guessed it, cardio and more cardio. So where’s the weightlifting in all this? I’ll tell you, it’s not there because none of these so-called health experts know a thing about it.
Do you think Jillian Micheals (the “star” trainer of ‘The Biggest Loser’) has a good body? If you said yes, then I agree with you, she has succeeded in attaining what many consider a “good” physique. Is it great? No, I see flaws. For one she doesn’t really have any muscle mass, she’s just thin (the other picture is of a woman who does serious weight lifting, you’ll notice she exhibits more definition and overall “tone” than Jillian). Now, I have the eye of a personal trainer and physique specialist, so I’m going to be more critical than the average person. But, if you could, wouldn’t you rather be ‘great’? (By the way, Jillian isn't a real personal trainer, she's an actor)
If, on the other hand, you do...
There are many misconceptions regarding weightlifting. There are those who believe that it is not necessary since the invention of Zumba-whose slogan is “Ditch the workout, join the party!” Great, if it’s a party why don’t we drink beer while we’re at it! But I digress. I would like to clear up some of these misunderstandings and hopefully make you see how absolutely essential weight-lifting is for looking good and feeling good.
Misconception #1: Weight-lifting will make you big and bulky. I’ve heard this one many times, especially from women, but even from a few men. They think that lifting weights will automatically make their muscles swell up like balloons all over their body and that they’ll look thick because of it. Well, the truth is that only fat will make you look thick, added muscle acquired through weightlifting can only make you look leaner. I’m going to guess that people who are having near-seizures every time they do a Zumba workout are doing so because they want to be leaner. Now, I didn’t say ‘thinner’, I used the word ‘leaner’ for a reason. Most people who want to improve their overall body composition (look better in a bathing suit) usually want to be lean, which is the state of having a low level of body fat, where your muscularity shows through very clearly. Brad Pitt was lean in Fight Club, not thin, and he even looked...
Ever wonder what’s in all those protein shakes you keep drinking as meal replacements and post-workout meals? You’re probably saying, “Protein - duh!” You’re probably right. There likely is some protein in those shakes - though there’s no way to know for sure. Know who regulates and oversees the supplement industry? The supplement industry, that’s who. Surprisingly enough, the supplement industry only answers to the FDA after it screws up. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself: fda.gov/food/dietarysupplements.
Long story short, you could be ingesting chalk. Chocolate/strawberry/vanilla/cookies-n-cream flavored chalk… but chalk all the same. Will ingesting chalk hurt or kill you? I don’t know. Damn sure won’t help your lean mass gains. That I do know. Know what else I'm pretty sure of? If it comes out of or from an animal and hasn’t been tampered with in a lab, it has protein in it. Not only does it have protein in it, it probably has a complete and very absorbable form of protein in it. Not only that but it probably has other stuff you need in it as well.
Rather than sucking down your usual laboratory born tub of I-don’t-know-what, try something that you know will have a significant amount of complete protein, vitamins, minerals, fluids for rehydration and just the right kind and amount of carbs you need after a workout – chocolate milk. Still think I'm full of it?...
The old timers had it all figured out, and I don’t mean Arnold Schwartzenegger, I mean Eugene Sandow, the very first weight lifter (after the Romans of course, but nobody has been able to find the stone tablets that held records of their workouts). The philosophy was simple, lift weight off the ground and put it overhead. It was simple, but not easy, which is perhaps why people stopped doing it and instead switched to using weight-lifting machines. Who can blame them? Machines are comfy, padded, require little exertion except for the specific muscle you’re targeting, and afterwards you feel like you’ve had a productive workout. Well, you haven’t had a productive workout (in my opinion anyway), but that’s another subject entirely.
The original weightlifters from the 1800’s and before didn’t have fancy gyms or nice equipment to help them build their bodies, they just had primitive barbells and dumbbells (the Romans just had stones!), and not even benches to bench press off of! And guess what, they were extremely strong human beings and their bodies showed it. They couldn’t do regular bench pressing but knew the chest was worked by horizontal pushing, so they did it on the ground, what we today call Floor Presses. They didn’t have squat racks that held a bar in mid-air for them so they could position the bar on their backs before doing heavy squats, they didn’t...
Cardio will not make you muscular and it will not make you lean, which is the combination of low body fat and noticeable muscularity. It can, on the other hand, make you look like an anorexic or make you look flabby and soft, if you do enough of it or do nothing but.
Now, I made a gross generalization just now in saying that cardio will not make you lean. Let me explain further. Cardio will not make you lean if a) you do it at a medium pace, as in jogging or aerobics, or b) you do way too much of it without also doing weight-lifting to somewhat off-set the muscle loss.
I’ll explain “a” first. The problem with medium pace cardio is that it burns muscle. I’ll use running as the prime example of medium-pace cardio. Running burns fat and muscle indiscriminately because you’re body wants to become as efficient as possible at traveling long distances at a medium pace, and the way for it to do so is to weigh less, and since muscle weighs more than fat, the quickest way to weigh less is to burn muscle off.
That’s not a good thing if your goal is to have a good-looking physique. What that’s going to do is make you look soft, or, if you do it to an extreme extent, make you look gaunt. Average people, and by that I mean non-athletes, just don’t have any muscle to spare, so losing it little by little over time can not only be unhealthy, it can also make your physique look unimpressive. That is why I don’t recommend running...