Body building is a topic that’s been re-hashed to oblivion on men’s lifestyle blogs…. so I’ll make this my only post on the subject.
Please… no more body-building blogs. We’ve had enough.
An important part of male health? Yes. The the pinnacle of masculinity? No.
There is so much junk out there that I think most guys would be better off coming up with their own routine.
You’ll have almost all of the health gains just lifting heavy weights with intensity, 4-5 times per week, cycling the muscle groups and resting when you need it. You can watch guys who are ripped at the gym to learn new stuff.
Dramatically increasing mass on a body-type that is not genetically disposed to grow muscle easily will require a more in the way of supplementation and structured routines.
Same if you are training for competitive sports.
Otherwise, just go lift some heavy shit until you’re tired. Repeat. That’s how farmers get strong. Everyone’s got an opinion on the best way to work out, but it really isn’t that complicated.
There are a few exceptional resources like this for someone who is more serious about getting massively hulked-out.
Since you are not a roman gladiator, nor a competitive bodybuilder, nor a professional fitness instructor; the only rational reason to get supremely jacked is to increase your self-confidence.
That can be the most important thing in your life if you have low self-esteem.
Also, it can be a thrill to intimidate other men…
But besides the confidence, body-building is useless after a certain point. And don’t think its for the girls. At least not for most girls. Just like girls put on cute outfits for other girls and men get HUGE to impress other men.
Most of the men I’ve known who are way above average in their success with women are scrawny pricks.
Beyond a certain point, accept that body building is just a fun hobby that gives you a spectacular high and an ego-boost.
Why Train With Weights?
If it is SIZE you are after, the only magic bullets are anabolic steroids and testosterone shots. And you’ve got to eat a TON.
Things like creatine, zinc and whey-protein offer a moderate benefit, but are by no means game-changers.
A few other rogue supplements surface on the market from time to time, but are usually pulled soon after they are confirmed as high-impact.
As for me and this article, the goal is reaping the health benefits and maintaining strength. I am not after size. I don’t care about size anymore.
My work-outs are always within the focus of delivering maximum impact in a short time-frame.
Save for yoga, there is no physical exercise with more health benefits than weight training:
- All forms of ‘resistance exercise’ result in boosted testosterone, improved cognitive function, increased self-esteem, increased bone density and weight loss.
- Resistance training has been linked to a number of anti-aging properties including the prevention of diabetes and cancer.
- When you train like an animal, you also build cardiovascular strength. Your heart works hard to pump blood into your muscles. Most people don’t see major cardio benefit from weights because they don’t lift with intensity.
- Weight-training improves your posture tremendously. And the coordination of your body is sharpened when your muscles are well-worked.
- You walk taller, you carry yourself better, you handle objects with grace.
- The negative health effects of daily sitting at a desk are countered to some extent.
- Pushing your muscles to exhaustion in the gym improves your sleep.
So… getting big and strong and looking great is just a bonus as far as I am concerned!
Speaking of which, have you ever noticed that in the gym all the fit people are on the weights?
The treadmills and ellipticals are littered with overweight slobs putting in their ½ hour after work and skinny teen-age girls who look emaciated.
Light aerobic exercise is not an efficient means of burning fat.
Real men run outside and climb mountains.
Whatever you make of a routine, you’ve got to figure out what works for your own body.
There is no single answer to peak fitness and anyone who tells you different is selling you something. Your genetics do matter.
My body is naturally BIG, so my focus is strength and lean muscle… not mass.
I keep it very simple. No supplements or steroids. No regimented diet. No tracking my sets on paper.
I just focus on a few exercises that deliver maximum impact.
But WHAT exercises you are doing are not as important as HOW you are lifting.
It is of the utmost cringe to see people with bad form at the gym lifting weights that are way too heavy for them.
If you have proper form, then you don’t need a lot of weight, on most exercises.
Proper form begins with feeling the tension in your target muscle group and remaining aware of it throughout the set.
Maximum impact is delivered when the tension on the target muscle group is maintained throughout the set.
This means no relaxing of the tension in between reps. No rest between each push or pull.
Most guys are just plain lazy, but I can get lazy too without realizing it as my attention waivers.
The error is when you slacken your limbs to hyper-extension or lock your joints on the negative as you reset for the next rep.
Or when you sneak in a rest while your limbs are fully buckled at the top or bottom of the rep.
You can feel when the tension slackens and your target muscle group is no longer supporting the resistance.
You are only cheating yourself if you do this.
The target muscle group should be fully engaged for all 6-12 reps of the set.
You want constant unbroken tension.
That means your total range of motion is SHORT on most upper-body exercises. If you start to feel the target muscle group relax in between reps, then you have fallen outside that threshold.
Additionally you want to be sure you are slowing down the negative as you release and reset for the next rep. I like to go negative at about half the speed of my pump on most exercises.
Incline dumbbell press – You are not raising the bells high enough to clank together. You are not fully straightening your arms at the top. The movement is short and your arm-span remains wide for the entirety of the rep.
Beginning at a 90 degree elbow joint, as you raise pretend the bells are fixed to a vertical shaft and can’t hardly move inside towards each other. Just up and down. This keeps your chest spanned out for the entirety and results in building a shelf on your upper pecs.
Whoa! The weights just got a lot heavier!
As if my local gym weren’t annoying enough with the shitty pop music blasting, there are all kinds of gapers camping out on the equipment while they play with their iPhone.
Some of these jerks will spend 15 minutes on the bench to get through three sets of six. Meanwhile I am trying to fire through my routine and get on with my day.
I try and schedule my gym time off-peak hours at 5am or on in the late evening to avoid this, by the way.
My routine is rapid-fire sets with high intensity. I have virtually no break in between sets; I just switch muscle groups.
In-between rounds of pull-ups, I bounce to the cable machine and twist my abs; in between bench-press I’ll do leg lifts; with bicep curls I’ll hit the triceps with dips and so on.
There are no breaks until I am done with the entire routine… unless I really need it.
I’ll have light days where I mix it up, but most of the time I am pushing to exhaustion on each set.
I am sweating, grunting, breathing hard, and wrenching my face into weird shapes — these are the signs that I am getting stronger.
This high-intensity approach not only optimizes my time at the gym so I can get on to more productive things, but short intervals of high-intensity training is the most health-promoting method of exercise says science. This philosophy is the basis of the Cross-fit craze.
Consistency above all is the reason winners achieve greatness and losers settle for mediocrity.
It’s been said that most of what makes success is just showing up everyday and I’d have to agree. There are very few secrets or tricks beyond daily discipline.
Show up 4-5 days a week. Maybe you run one day or hit the heavy bag instead of the weights.
But show up and make it count. Don’t cheat yourself.
2-3 days is better than nothing, but if your lifestyle has you at a desk or otherwise sedentary most of the day then you really need more than 2-3.
2-3 is mediocre. Especially if your high-intensity routines are max 40 minutes, like mine are.
Five 20 minute routines in a week is far better than two 2-hour routines.
Every six weeks or so, I take a full week off to rest.
Amongst all the fancy new equipment that has been added to the gym floor over the years… the bar, plate and dumbbell have yet to be bested as far as our purpose is concerned as elaborated above.
Machine weights offer some good targeted exercise if you are serious about bodybuilding and want to fine tune your smaller muscles. But they are not near as effective as free weights for delivering maximum impact on the major muscle groups.
Fad workouts and exercises that you’ll see personal trainers introducing to their students are for people who need novelty to stay motivated.
For them working out is a hobby; for us it is scheduled maintenance.
Many of those interesting balance and coordination exercises have real benefit for training professional athletes and for physical therapy in people recovering from injury.
But if you are not training for anything in particular except your health, then what is the point of making things complicated?
These personal trainers push complicated routines because they went to school to get a certificate and have to justify it by training housewives like they would train a basketball player.
Keep it simple. Here is mine:
Monday & Wednesday: Chest, Back and Abs
- Pull-ups (assisted) 8
- Cable-Twist (abs) 12+
- Bench-Press 8
- Leg-Lifts 16+
- T-Bar 8
- Inclined Dumbell-Press 8
- Bent-Row 8
- Cable-Crunches 16+
- Forward-Press 8
- Seated Row 8
Tuesday & Thursday: Arms & Legs
- Bicep Curls 8
- Machine-Squats 8
- Dips 8
- Hack-Squats 8
- Concentration-Curls 8
- Rope Pull-downs 8
- Farmer’s Carry 5 min.
- Standing Dumbell Curls 8
- French-press 8
Fri – Sun: Wildcard – outdoor run, hit the heavy bag, rowing, yoga etc.
- Three sets of each exercise at the numbered amount of reps.
- Whatever amount of weight gets me to full exhaustion at that number, that’s what I put on the rack. If I start to pass that number easily, then I add weight.
- You’ll notice I organize the exercises in a way that I can hit one muscle group while I am resting the other in between sets. No breaks! No sitting around while you recover! Intensity!
- Legs and abs respond best to low-weight, high-reps.
- I only do 2 rounds of squats because I have a recurring injury in my groin. You might add some more for legs.
- I also have a bad shoulder so I leave out military press and other exercises that deliver a direct-hit on my shoulders.
There you go. Easy. In and out in 40 min and on with my life.
Sound boring? Join Cross-fit.