In case you’re wondering, this entire article is “Greek Heavy” – so get over that, you want to look like a Spartan, you need a REAL Spartan workout….Actually you just need the truth for a change.
I cut my teeth reading fitness magazines and following their advice for years.
However, my girlfriend wasn’t impressed with me spending 1,5+ hours training and not looking like I lift. Worse, I’m tall with weak joints. So I’d train for 2-3 months and then I’d either aggravate my dislocated shoulder or my elbows and wrists.
Bad Genes + Meh Body + Unimpressed Girlfriend=The Facts Of Life
Then, call it divine intervention or kolofardia (that’s Greek for being lucky as hell) I stumbled upon some obscure scientific studies that suggested doing things a little differently.
I tried a few of the suggestions and by Golly, they helped me improve my body. Of course studies never hold the complete answer (they’re merely great starting points) so I had to figure even more things out. I did that by training clients both 1-on-1 and online.
For a decade now, I’ve helped men over 35 build muscle and lose the belly fat while still having a life. And if you’re new to my world, I hope I can make a difference in your physique as well
Before we move on, let me say something important:
The main reason guys never reach their Fitness goals has almost nothing to do with bad information…bad genes…not taking the latest trendy supplement…not doing the “Diet of the year”…not following a specific training protocol or whatever. Those things can help but they ignore the main obstacle between success and failure.
The main obstacle is …
If this sounds confusing lemme explain:
You probably have a good enough idea how to train and eat to reach your goals. You might need a coach like me to fine tune whatever you do…but if left on your own, you could probably build a bit of muscle and lose some fat.
However when you try to follow your plan, something happens that throws you off. That something can be anything:
● Your weight loss halts on week 4. But according to an online calculator app, you were supposed to keep shaving off those pounds. What do you do?
● You follow a 4-day training program and you enjoy it. However that idiot boss of yours asks you to spend more time in the office. Now you can only train twice at the gym and could perhaps squeeze a 20-minute workout at home once per week. What do you do?
● You have a birthday party on Saturday and you’ll come face to face with chocolate cake and burgers; your trigger foods. You can’t skip the party yet you know you’re gonna lose control now that the damn diet is going so well. What do you do?
● In your 20’s, you had no problem doing squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting. However now you’re 47, you had knee surgery, your shoulder hurts when lifting it overhead and your low-back hates you when you pick up anything heavier than 5 pounds. What do you do?
● Your program asks for 5 sets of barbell bench press, yet your gym’s Douche Squad has urinated around the bench, marking that territory as their own. They have huge arms (and tiny calves) and instead of speaking, they seem to communicate with growls. What do you do?
Some of the above scenarios are exaggerated to prove a point:
Even though a training program or a diet might be good on paper, life is full of surprises.
And when one of those surprises comes up, you better not be myopic with your approach. Instead you should expand your thinking and discover all the possibilities available. Aka you should know how to troubleshoot
I’m sharing tiny articles I’ve written in the past that can provide you with certain “aha” moments. Those moments will help you overcome the obstacles that stand between you and your dream physique. Then, it would only be a matter of time before you achieve your physique goals.
Your wife is busy preparing the snacks so she asks you to blow up the balloons. You take a deep breath, grab a balloon and start blowing into its opening. Would you keep blowing until the balloon burst? Of course not. If you did, it would become useless and you’d have to grab a new one.
And just like blowing a balloon has a certain limit, your muscles also have a certain limit when you train. Do too many sets and ya cross that limit. And when ya cross that limit? Nasty things can happen.
You see, typical Oreo-cutter programs have you do 10…15…20 or more sets, per muscle, when you train. And according to science, that’s a lot.
Sorry man but if your source of information are “Feetness Eggsperts” who use steroids or magazines looking to sell you overpriced supplements, you’ve been conned.
You see, if you’re a natural (aka a non-steroid user) like me and all of my clients? You don’t need all those sets since you won’t recover from them.
In fact, I’ll take it a step further: The number one reason behind injuries for men over 35 is excessive volume. Aka, doing too many sets per muscle. When you do too many sets, your connective tissue (joints and tendons) don’t fast enough. And, if you don’t give them enough time to recover, you might hurt yourself. This will happen because, even though your muscles recover, become stronger and can lift more weight…your connective tissue hasn’t recovered and you might snap something.
What’s the solution?
A moderate approach to sets. If you’re doing 10+ sets per muscle when training session, you can split it up.
So, instead of 10 sets in a single day, you can do 5 sets in 2 training days. Or, you can do 4, 3, and 3 sets, split into 3 training days.
Remember: Just like balloons have a limit to how much air you can blow into them, your muscles also have a limit to how many sets they can benefit and recover from.
In this client’s case, we had to be extra careful about workout volume
since he was also doing Crossfit. For example, if he had a leg-heavy day in Crossfit, he had to reduce the sets in his gym program.
And this brings me to the next muscle killer
If you look at the history of weight training, you see that old-school strongmen trained each muscle group multiple times per week. Those men had lean, sculpted physiques, similar to Greek statues.
However, contemporary bodybuilders, fitness models and magazine authors insist that training each muscle once per week is the way to go. So, they have chest days (which, incidentally, is always on Mondays), back days, arm days etc.
But, there’s a big problem with what modern athletes and trainees do. And that’s anabolic steroids.
As you may know, anabolic steroids can keep muscle growth elevated for more days than usual. Why is this important? Well, suppose you trained chest on Monday. By doing so, you signal your chest to grow. That signal lasts up to 1-3 days.
What happens after that? You have to train chest again. Otherwise, it becomes de-trained and doesn’t grow.
But what happens if you are a steroid user? You still signal your chest to grow. However this signal can last…
Up To 5-7 Days!
This way, steroid users can train a muscle once per week. Worst case scenario, they lose 1-2 days of growth. Best case scenario, their muscles enjoy continual growth, since they didn’t de-train at all.
But what if you’re not a steroid user? As mentioned, the signal sent by each muscle, lasts 1-3 days. After that, and if you want to keep growing, you need to send a signal again.
So ask yourself: If you’re not using steroids, then why do you follow the training suggestions of steroid users?
They would follow the “train each muscle once per week” mantra (after all, the pros trained that way, so they knew better…) They would work out 5 days/week, for months. They would sacrifice time away from their families, friends and hobbies.
At best, they got subpar results. And people would wonder why the heck were they spending all that time in the gym since they had nothing to show for it..
However, when they started working with me, they finally experienced muscle growth. Why? For many reasons but one of them was that…
Times Per Week!
And it makes sense if you think about it.
When I was learning how to do cartwheels, I practiced them 5 times per week. If you want to learn a new skill, you should also practice it often. If you practiced once per week, you wouldn’t progress.
Your muscles can also benefit from a higher training frequency. There are even studies showing just that: Training a muscle group twice per week, is better than training it once. And in many cases, training a muscle group thrice per week is better than training it twice.
So, when you combine a few, hard sets with a good training frequency you can build muscle and strength.
Back in the 80’s bodybuilders suggested that taking each set to failure, was the way to build muscle.
But, we now know that failure is overrated. According to muscle-building specialist, Brad Schoenfled:
“There is no evidence to suggest training to failure increases hypertrophy (when compared to similar routines which stop a couple of reps short of complete failure”
But it gets more interesting. You see, if you stay away from failure, you need less rest between sets. By resting less, you save time. If you can save 5…10…15 or more minutes from your training, why not do so? Especially if it doesn’t affect your training?
Also, staying away from failure also protects your connective tissues. That’s not surprising. After all, the less reps you do, the more time your joints and tendons have to recover.
“You instantly realized I need a program that will (first and foremost) make me feel good while reserving my energy for the rest of the day. I also don’t have to worry anymore about little pains and aches that, at my age (48) I need a lot of time to recover from. An extra ‘benefit’ is that I inspired my teenage daughter to start working out. If you knew her, you’d realize how amazing that is!”
After having worked with hundreds of men over 35, I agree with George. The older you get, the more careful you have to be with recovery. Building muscle is easy if you’re in your 20’s, but after that? It becomes harder. Plus, you also have to be careful about past injuries while preventing new ones.
So what should you do? If your limit is 15 reps, do 13-14. Never reach failure. You gain nothing, you waste time and you might hurt yourself.
OK, so let’s summarize what you’ve discovered so far:
● Just like balloons have a limit to how much air you can blow into them, your muscles also have a limit to how many sets they can benefit and recover from
● 1-4 hard sets per muscle, per training session are enough
● Training a muscle once per week is great for steroid users. For the rest of us, 2+ times seems to work better
● Training to failure is useless. Always leave at least one rep in the tank
Now here’ something important…
As you’ve probably seen, the “how to build muscle” process can be confusing. There are a ton of details and most guys have no idea where to focus their attention.
Every once in a while people drop the “C” word while talking with me:
“How many calories are you eating daily?”
“I have no idea.”
“What? You’re a Fitness expert. You should know that stuff!”
No I shouldn’t.
Most people and many Feetness Eggsperts (guys and gals who call themselves experts but their qualifications are being born with great genes, knowing how to pose on Fakegram and training themselves) ignore one of the fundamental truths about fitness:
“Fitness is not a lifestyle. It’s part of a lifestyle”
– Fotis Chatzinicolaou
(yeap, just quoted myself)
The point of Fitness is to get a body you can be proud of…and help you keep it.
To do so, you should make as little changes as possible in your lifestyle.
So, if I can maintain a nice body without counting calories, why not do so? Why should I weigh my food…calculate calories, proteins, fats, carbs…and get gluteal retentive if I overeat? That’s not how I want to live my life.
I eat the same 12-15 foods, 90% of the time (a common habit of every lean guy I know)
If I wanna gain muscle, I increase my fats and/or carbs. If I wanna lose the flab, I decrease my fats and/or carbs.
Thanks to my “program” I maintain a 4-pack year-round. I get nice pumps when training. And, I can even eat my beloved souvlakia and some ice-cream once or twice every week.
But what if, for example, I wanted to compete in bodybuilding?
First, I’d kill myself.
Then, if I miraculously survived, I’d weigh my food and count calories and macros religiously.
But I’m interested in maintaining strong erections year-round (with excessive dieting, that’s nearly impossible.) Plus, I have poop-y genes for arms and chest. Even if I did compete I would rank berry-berry low. The reward:sacrifices ratio for getting stage-ready doesn’t excite me.
So, I can’t imagine myself ever counting calories again.
Now, are there others who need to count calories?
If you’re overweight, you should start counting calories today. Doing so will give you something I call “caloric awareness.” That’s what happens when you understand at a deep level the effect each food has on your waistline.
When you do, you make better choices for life.
Anyway, amoral of the story?
Fitness should be part of your lifestyle.
If you enjoy calorie counting, do it.
If it helps with your goals, again – do it.
But don’t think it’s a *must* to get a body you can be proud of. Before the 80’s, people had amazing bodies. And they never used once did they use doodads like MyFitnessGal, Feetbit, and Darmin.
OK, enough calorie counting for the soul.
This year I decided to write an email for 180 days straight.
To help myself, I drew 180 small circles on a gold foil paper and hung it in front of my desk. Every day I write an email, I put a big X on one of the circles.
Slowly, a chain of “X’s” will form.
But, if I miss a day?
I’ll have to leave a circle without an X.
And the missing X will stare at me for the rest of the challenge, reminding me that I failed to be consistent.
Today I wanna highlight the principle behind this challenge.
The principle is “consistency.”
And it’s one of those unsexy things everyone knows about but rarely uses.
Chances are you even rolled your eyes when you read about it.
But I have to ask:
When trying to achieve any goal, are you consistent daily?
Take for example the goal of finally building a body you can be proud of.
You don’t have to train every day. In fact, 3-4 days per week are enough.
On training days, push yourself to do more reps and lift more weight. If it’s a rest day, make sure you actually rest. Don’t stay up late since it will affect your training the next day. You can even go for a 30 minute walk to aid recovery.
What if you want to lose the gut?
Are you eating whole foods every.single.day?
Or have you somehow fallen victim to the malakia (that’s B.S. in Greek) that you can gorge on junk food…and still gain an impressive physique? I don’t care what the model with the 6-pack and the Hollywood smile says. Eating junk consistently, makes you look and feel like trash.
The people with impressive physiques will eat junk every once in a while. But, their diets consist of whole foods…consistently.
(If you think I’m writing “consistent” too often, you’re right – that’s the point of this message)
Let’s take a break from building a nice body.
What if you’re in pain?
Can consistency help you here?
Well, let me share my example:
Back in 2018 I re-injured my left shoulder while doing deadlifts. I waited a few days to recover, but no bueno.
So, I decided to follow a shoulder-rehab protocol. I did targeted exercises, each day, consistently. I was back on track in around 2 weeks.
For example, America’s preeminent success philosopher, Earl Nightingale, said you can become an expert in any topic you want.
By studying for an hour each day, for 5 years straight. Again, that’s what happens when you’re consistent.
Heck, the good news is that thanks to the laziness pandemic plaguing our world today you don’t have to wait 5 years.
Back in 2009, people asked if they could take me out and treat me to dinner. All they wanted? To pick my brain for training and diet advice.
Little did they know that I’ve been studying relevant material for less than a year…
In 2016, I made myself an expert in personality-based emails. How? By writing daily, for 100 days straight.
So success can be that simple when you consistently take action.
Again, the whole concept is unsecsy as hell.
It’s not what ordinary men want to hear.
But it’s what smart men *need* to hear.
One of my newest favorite books is The Way Of Men, by Jack Donnovan
It will be especially useful to you if (like me) you grew up without a father figure.
My dad was working 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week and never spent time with me. Now that I’m 21 for the 11th time, I realize his absence left me with many questions about my role as a man in this world.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yeah, The Way Of Men.
One interesting concept inside are the 4 Tactical Virtues that make you good at being a man (which is different than being a good man.) Here they are, along with some basic ‘splaining:
Modern society has eliminated the need for strength. When no animal or enemy tribe is going to kill you, you as a man doesn’t have to be strong.
However, this doesn’t stop us from marvelling at displays of strength.
And, unlike women, we prefer a muscular body because we equate muscles with strength.
You might have heard me talk about my dating adventures.
In my biased opinion, nothing better separates the two genders than a man’s ability to approach, and flirt with a woman he finds attractive. Women can’t approach since they lack the courage and mainly fantasize about their crush hitting on them. It’s mens’ duty to approach.
Of course, courage can manifest in other areas as well.
If you want a raise, you need to be courageous enough to ask for it. If somebody is annoying the hell out of you in a cafe, you need to be courageous enough to tell them to shut up. Even building a business takes a lot of guts – aka courage
I’m not sure about women, but we men always stand in awe when mastery is displayed.
For example, many guys have been impressed with my writing skills. And it makes sense if you think about it. I’ve practiced this skill for 10+ years. So, when they read my articles and emails, they see a master at work and are impressed.
The interesting thing about mastery is that most people can become masters. But they’re not willing to put in the time, effort and energy. As a result, they prefer standing on the sidelines, cheering their favorite “athlete”
This is a deep subject and the best way I can put it is this: Honor is the opinion men in your team (or gang, as Jack likes to call it) have about you.
If your team holds you in high regard, the more honorable you are. If you don’t care about what other, high-quality men think about you, then you’re not honorable.
First of all, it’s easy. Give me 45-60 minutes, 3-4 times per week and I can make any guy stronger. In the process I’ll also give him a body he can be proud of.
Secondly, strength supports the other 3 virtues.
You need strength to ignore your ego and be courageous.
You need strength of character to be disciplined enough to attain mastery.
And if you can lift a car, you’ll gain the respect of other men. You’ll also crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.
On a more serious note, a strong man is a man others can depend on. When others depend on you, and provided you don’t let them down, they’ll respect you (whether they like you or not.)
Anyway, I predict the next decade will be very interesting for all men.
If you want to be at your best, focus on the 4 tactical virtues.
And, in my biased opinion, you should start by becoming stronger. When you do so, you’ll build muscle, gain an impressive physique and find it easier to cultivate the other 3 virtues.
One of my favorite anime is Great Teacher Onizuka
Onizuka Eikichi, the hero, is an ex-gangster who becomes a teacher, in order to hit on female students.
As a former gangster, Onizuka is ri-donk-ulously strong. He can beat multiple guys, throw bowling balls like they were tennis balls, and land on a car after falling from the 5th floor and survive.
As he explains, one of his secrets is his daily exercise regimen.
Each day he does 1,000 push ups, 2,000 pull ups and 5,000 squats.
Sounds impressive right?
However, there’s a big problem.
You see, doing the same number of reps each day stops being beneficial after a while. Why? Because, your body gets used to the training stimuli. When this happens, it no longer has a reason to become stronger. And it won’t trigger any extra muscle growth.
Take for example the 1,000 push-ups.
After 2-3 weeks and if you want to keep building muscle, you’d have to challenge yourself in new ways.
You could add extra reps.
You could add weights on your back.
You could try a harder push-up variation.
You should do *something* new. Something that will give your body a different stimuli than what it’s used to. When you recover from the stimuli you’d get stronger and, over time you’ll build more muscle.
You might think the above is common sense.
But looking at how men train today, I’d say that common sense is not so common after all.
If it was, men wouldn’t ignore this basic physiological reality: To grow bigger and stronger you need to *constantly* challenge yourself.
Heck, I’d take it a step further and suggest that, as a man, you should constantly challenge yourself in every area of your life.
You should improve in business, relationships, skills, knowledge, etc.
The moment you stop challenging yourself is the moment you begin feeling “off”.
That’s why many young men in their 20’s nowadays feel like something’s missing. When we discuss, they discover they’ve not challenged themselves in years. No wonder something’s off – their endless masculine energy stays trapped inside them. Unless they channel their energy into something constructive or helpful, they’ll keep feeling horrible.
(I’ll even say that many first-time male criminals are doing what they’re doing because they’ve not channeled their abundant energy somehow, but that’s another discussion for another time)
Anyway, I’m sure somebody needed to hear the above.
After all, if you’ve not been challenging yourself in new and creative ways, then you are wasting your time. Please don’t do that to your good looking self.
Finally, something very very important:
One of the best ways to challenge your muscles and help them grow is by increasing the mind muscle connecction. That’s a cool way of saying “you need to feel the muscle working during each single rep”.
But most guys have non-existent M.M.C.
Recently I advised a buddy on his diet.
But it was a different kind of advice than what I’m used to. You see, my buddy wants to increase his energy. Specifically, his physical and mental energy because he decided to quit his soul-sucking job.
And to do so, he needs to focus on a side biz.
But, there’s a problem.
He has an unstable work schedule. Some days he’s working in the mornings. Other days, at nights. And he might work at night one day, and the next he’ll have to work in the morning. That’s bad for his circadian rhythm. In simple terms, his sleep and energy suffer.
He’s dealing with people he doesn’t like (and I’m not referring just to colleagues or clients.) So, this increases stress. At the end of his day, he can’t calm down and focus on his project.
Finally, he’s married and waiting for his first kid. He’s the breadwinner of the family and that adds emotional stress that messes up his productivity.
Anyway, here’s what I suggested:
First, he should NOT change his diet completely .
He only has 6-8 pounds to lose.
So, in his case he needs adjustments (which are different than changes) To know what I’d suggest, I asked what he’s eating on a daily basis.
Each day he drinks a…concoction that consists of:
* seasonal fruits
* flax seed
* broccoli (?!)
My suggestion here was to increase protein.
Most people have something I call “false protein dichotomy”. According to Wikipedia, a false dichotomy is:
“A situation in which two alternative points of view are presented as the only options, when others are available.”
And you know what?
When it comes to protein, many people have a version of this false dichotomy thingie.
They think a meal either has protein or it hasn’t. If it has, that’s enough and they’re covered.
But having protein isn’t enough. You also care about the quantity. In my friend’s case, he might have been thinking “Flax seeds have protein. So I don’t need any extra”
But if you want to benefit from protein, you need a respectable quantity.
Anyway, my solution was simple.
He should add 1-2 scoops of whey protein in his breakfast.
This way, he’ll reduce hunger.
Now, my friend was worried.
“Is whey protein healthy? I’m not sure how healthy it is to consume powders.”
As I told him, whey protein powder is healthier than the bread he’s eating on a daily basis.
Along with creatine, whey protein is one of the most-researched supplements in the world. They’ve been researched for decades. If they were problematic, we’d know (and, the media wouldn’t shut up about it) Instead, both creatine and whey are healthy.
However, there’s something to know.
Many supplement companies do something called amino spiking. That’s when they add amino acids to boost the total protein content mentioned on the tube. This way, you think you’re getting X amount of protein per dose, but you’re getting whey less (see what I did there?). Instead of high-quality protein, you’re buying overpriced flour.
So he should add whey.
And that was the only tweak I suggested for breakfast.
It’s smarter to make simple adjustments.
Or as billionaire Clement Stone used to say:
“Small hinges swing big doors”
Now I’m gonna share 2 more diet tweaks I suggested to my buddy. As you might remember, his goal was to boost his physical and mental energy. By doing so, he’d focus on his side biz and, eventually, quit his toxic day j-o-b.
After breakfast, we talked about his other meals.
His dinner was boring. He eats lightly. And since he wasn’t gonna work at night, I didn’t have anything to suggest.
How about lunch?
He’s Greek, so he eats almost anything.
Red meat, white meat, fish, legumes, and a few other things.
Good news is that he’s not devouring pizzas, burgers, and souvlakia. So I don’t have to persuade him that those foods ain’t helping with energy (again, common sense isn’t so common for most people…)
Now, his diet consists of whole foods.
That’s great because he doesn’t have to do a complete 180.
With that said…
My first suggestion was to eliminate bread and products containing wheat. In my experience, they rob you of mental and physical energy. And, anytime I remove them from somebody’s diet, they feel better.
I suggested preparing legumes a certain way:
Instead of soaking only for 8 hours, he should soak them for 48+ hours instead. Plus, he needs to add some milk.
The above, help deactivate the anti-nutrients found in legumes. Those anti-nutrients cause gas and bloating. And, in my experience, they also mess up your mental clarity. So, if he wants to eat them, he better prepare them the right way
(Although, going through all this trouble to make a food “healthy” makes me wonder if it’s worth the effort…)
Practice hara hachi bu.
This means eating to 80% fullness.
Few things can murder productivity like eating to 100% fullness. This is common in America and Greece, since many people reach a “I can’t eat anymore” point. That’s a great recipe for excess flab, diabeetus and inability to focus.
The French and the Japanese instead, reach a “I’m satiated” point.
That’s a better point to shoot for.
It will not only help with productivity, but you’ll lose a few pounds.
Again, I’m not suggesting anything secsy.
All mentally healthy adults know how they should be eating. For whatever reason, they choose not to do so. But, as long as they’re open to suggestions they can easily adjust what they eat. And, as a result, they can be healthy, lean and enjoy mental clarity.
Ok, I’ve talked about the adjustments I made to my buddy’s eating plan.
The aim was to increase his energy.
So, today I wanted to share the supplements I suggested.
But, as I was getting ready to write, I realized that I forgot an amazing supplement. It’s one that 99% of the world ignores. It costs nada. And, people throughout history have used it, before we could create pills and capsules.
I doubt women and certain men can use it.
But, in my not-so-humble opinion, it’s great for anyone who has a goal they want to achieve, no matter what.
And the name of this supplement?
To me, anger is an interesting emotion.
If you ask others, they’ll say it’s bad to get angry.
That you should love yourself.
And that you should avoid negative emotions.
My answer to that?
The more I read biographies of people who have achieved a lot (whether they were nice or not) I realize most of them used negative emotions like anger.
Heck even my own experience shows that anger is a great resource to tap into. For example:
When I’m angry at myself, I’m very productive.
When I mess something up, I get mad at myself and try to fix it.
And anything that pisses me off, is enough to motivate me to action.
The “problem” with anger is it only works if you get angry with yourself. Personally, I don’t blame my parents, my country, my zodiac sign, women, vegans, feminists or Trump for my problems. That’s a characteristic of every man who achieves a lot – instead of whining, he slaps himself , pulls his sleeves up and goes to work.
So, getting angry at yourself, can be a great (although bizarre) energy supplement.
Sure, caffeine, whey protein powder, Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwagandha are good for energy. I use them, suggest them to clients and even recommended them to my buddy.
But, the reason my buddy wants increased energy is because he’s fighting to build something…on top of his toxic j.o.b.
Since he’s to blame for his current situation, he can get angry at himself.
He can get angry because his English sucks, and he can’t make a transition to the international market yet. Instead, he’s stuck helping Greeks, hence limiting the smackola he can make.
If he gets angry, he can channel that energy into something productive.
Again, this is a suggestion specific to my buddy.
I know him and I know that he can use his anger.
If he was a guy with different plans? If he was a guy who felt OK with his job, and only wanted some energy to help him during his day?
Then anger wouldn’t help.
Anyway, whether he uses anger or not, it’s up to him.
And I find it funny that everyones searching for a new / revolutionary / trendy / seksy thingie that will help them achieve their goals…while they ignore excellent solutions like this one.
I’ve been training men for a decade now.
And, I’ve discovered a certain emotion surfacing whenever they decide to spend a lil’ time on themselves. Time to improve their health, their body and well being.
That emotion is…
They feel guilty for investing time to improve themselves. Heck, they are conditioned to think they’re selfish. Instead, they should “man up”…focus on whatever society thinks a man should be doing (doing the laundry perhaps?)…and forget about improving themselves.
In my very-selfish mind, that makes zero sense.
You wanna tell me that a man useful to his family and society, is a man who is:
* ravaged by joint pain
* so deconditioned that runs out of breath while climbing stairs
Here’s the truth:
You can always find time to improve yourself and your body, without becoming a social pariah.
My clients have time to not only train, but also enjoy some of their “guilty” pleasures as well. Those can be video games, Banhammer, pen and paper rpgs like Dungeons and Deadlifts, and even dancing.
First of all, I land them on planet Earth regarding their expectations.
What do I mean?
Well, if you can train 3 times per week for 30 minutes, you *can* improve your body. But unless you’re a total noob, you’ll stagnate fast. With 3 X 30, you either have to train more or be a total dicktator (added the “tator” to protect the underage-teens in my audience) with your diet.
A great equation to keep in mind is this:
Reality doesn’t change. The only thing affecting your happiness are your expectations. That’s why I prefer losing clients, than having them come to work with me with the wrong expectations.
Suppose a client can train 3 times/week for 60 minutes/day. And he wants to add muscle to his arms. To do so, I’ll create a bang-for-his-buck training program.
In his case, the workouts can be:
Day B: chest/back/shoulders
Day C: arms/legs
With the above, he’ll hit each muscle twice per week. And his arms will get hit thrice per week (as you may know, chest and back exercises hit triceps and biceps a little bit)
What about the actual structure of the workouts?
The full body day could look like this:
A1) Rope bicep curls
A2) Rope tricep extensions
A3) Goblet squats
B1) Seated cable rows
B2) Weighted pushups
C1) Dumbbell lateral raises
The A, B, C letters mean a superset.
So, he’ll do one set for exercise A1, rest, a set for A2, rest, a set for A3, rest and start all over again from A1. He’ll repeat this cycle until he finishes the sets. Doing so, will save him time.
Since he wants to add arm size, he starts with arm exercises.
Generally, I prefer starting with the heaviest exercise. So, in the workout’s case, he should have started with weighted pushups. That’s what Fitness dogma says.
But, I hate dogma.
Notice there’s no “PURFEKT!1!” workout.
There’s only a workout custom-tailored to you.
But what if you don’t custom-tailor it?
What if Feetness Eggsperts made you believe the only way to improve your body is to workout 5+ days per week, for 120+ minutes?
Then it’s normal to feel guilty.
Only youngsters can spend so much time in the gym.
Wanting to improve yourself is the best thing in the world. You shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Others should feel guilty if they try shaming you.
In yesterday’s email I said that a good 3-day banana split for a man interested in gaining arm size is this:
* full body
So today, I’ll talk about some of the variables of the program.
Let’s talk about sets and reps:
I’d keep sets low here.
So each exercise will have 1-2 or 2-3 sets.
The good thing with fewer sets is that you save time.
This happens because you’ll have less rest periods. For example, if you do 5 sets, that’s 4 rest periods. If you have to do 3 sets, that’s only 2 rest periods. This little change can save you 1-3 minutes per exercise.
Not bad right?
It gets better though.
Fewer sets also mean less beating of your joints.
Since the sets are low, the reps need to be moderate to high. For me, moderate is anything over 6. High, anything over 15.
Let’s talk about exercises now.
With the full body workout, I’d pick an exercise per muscle.
In yesterday’s example, I picked 7 exercises – one for biceps, triceps, legs, back, chest, shoulders, abs. Sure, I could have added a few extra exercises. But remember that we want a bang-for-your-buck workout that will last up to 60 minutes.
Now, what about the chest/back/shoulders and the arms/legs workouts?
With them, we have the luxury of adding more exercises per muscle.
Chest exercises will consist of a press and a fly.
Back exercises will consist of a pull and a row.
Depending on how the client’s body responds, I might add isolation exercises for the front and back delts. But, I’d definitely add an isolation exercise for the side delts, such as a lateral cable raise.
Since this is a guy, he probably won’t care about his legs. So basic knee-dominant and hip-dominant exercises will do the trick. A leg press is a knee-dominant exercise and a romanian deadlift is a hip-dominant one.
As for arm exercises?
Any basic isolation exercise is good enough. If he had elbow pain, I’d stay away from barbell exercises and stick to dumbbells and even bands for a little while. If he had shoulder pain, I’d request a video of him performing the exercises
Finally, a word on set execution:
There’s a simple principle to help you recover faster during your workouts…save time…and protect your joints.
This principle is avoiding failure.
If your limit for an exercise is 15 reps, then do 14 or even 13. We have research showing that keeping one rep “in the tank” gives you the same stimuli as reaching failure. But, your muscles need less rest between sets. And, in my experience, avoiding failure also protects your joints.
Long story short:
Adjust the program depending on how you respond.
Do so and you can build a nice body training 3 days/week for 60 minutes/day. If you have more time, that’s terrific and you still need to adjust the program.
Back in 2012, I followed a hardcore training program.
Every workout, I had to do 5 sets of 5 reps of 3-4 heavy barbell exercises, followed by a few lighter ones.
And, it sucked major ballz.
Despite being 23, I felt drained 25/8.
I dreaded each workout.
And other than my back and legs (who respond amazingly to training) the rest of my body had my friends jokingly asking “Do you even lift?”
Looking back, there were many problems with the program.
The first one is that low reps are not important if you want to build a nice body. Studies comparing low and reps show you can enjoy the same rate of muscle growth. You only need to equate the number of reps and weight.
Take for example the 5X5 barbell squat.
Suppose I lifted 100 kilos.
That would give us a volume of 5 X 5 X 100 = 2,500
Instead, I could lift 70 kilos and do 3 sets of 12 reps.
This would give me a volume of 2,520 which is almost the same.
Another problem was that each workout lasted a lot.
I’m talking about 90+ minutes.
This was a problem because I always had to be somewhere after training. So, I cut my rest periods short and my performance suffered.
Finally, I *dreaded* the workouts.
For example, one day I had to do 5 sets of heavy barbell squats.
Then, I followed them with 5 sets of barbell bench presses.
I’d then move on to 5 sets of heavy barbell rows.
And finally, 4-5 more exercises for 3 sets and moderate reps each.
If you have followed a similar program in the past, you’ve experienced that feeling of dread. You wonder if you’ll have the energy to complete the workout. You wonder if you’ll beat your previous numbers. And even if you do, you’ll feel like poop the rest of your day.
Anyway, the program worked for some guys.
So it wasn’t necessarily a bad one.
But, it was a bad one for me at that particular time.
And, after discussing with clients who tried the program themselves, we agreed on this:
Unless you structured your days around the program, it was hard to follow.
This meant sleeping as much as possible (So, if one of your kids was sick and you had to stay up late, this was problematic.) Making sure you were fresh and kept stress to a minimum before the workout. Never skipping a meal, etc.
If you couldn’t do the above?
You’d lose time, energy, and might even hurt yourself.
Now you might wonder:
“OK Fotis, what would you have done differently?”
Lots of things.
As mentioned, if workout volume remains the same, you can tweak sets and reps. So, I would have lowered the amount of sets while increasing the number of reps.
Most of the exercises used a barbell. This can aggravate your upper body’s joints like the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. So, I’d used dumbbells, bodyweight and cables instead.
This is the beauty of training principles:
When you know them, you can upgrade all programs.
In the process, you’ll enjoy it, progress, and improve your physique.
As a bonus, you’ll protect yourself from injuries, aches, and pains.
Let me tell you a dirty secret that most Feetness Eggsperts never share.
This secret is the need to build your body S-L-O-W-L-Y
And no, I’m not drunk
Sure, most people want everything quick
It’s why you see promises like “Huge Arms In 2 Weeks” or “Chiseled Chest In 28 Days.” (tip: they always have you do a ton of sets). Even at the gym, you see men doing 89832 sets of biceps, 987534 sets of triceps, 90124 sets of chest etc
And sure, with so many sets your body “grows”
But that’s the problem.
You see that “growth” is not muscle growth
Most times is inflammation
And just when you’ve hurt yourself, when you do too many sets your body withholds water…causes inflammation…and gives you the impressions that your muscles grew bigger.
That’s bad however.
Bad because you increase injury rate. Either due to subpar recovery or due to bad form (if you do too many sets, you have higher chances to perform an exercise incorrectly) joints like your wrists, elbows, knees, shoulders, and back start hurting.
Or you might pop a shoulder.
Your body has a natural rhythm of muscle growth.
Unless you inject steroids, you can’t fool it
So, even if you pressure yourself to do too many sets, sorry. You ain’t achieving anything. You just waste more time (and really, don’t you have a life mate?) you beat up your joints and you might injure yourself.
Anyway, as a man your body is your most precious asset.
It’s our first attempt to improve ourselves
(Here you see the difference between genders since, most women prefer dying their hair, doing a bewb job, or get new clothes/shoes…instead of improving themselves)
In 1924, the Olympics were held in Paris
And, Bill Havens was one of the greatest American canoeists
Many thought he’d win the gold medal
Now, back in 1924 airplanes weren’t as fast as today. So, Bill had to spend 2 weeks inside a ship to go to Paris. And, he had to spend 2 more weeks coming back.
No biggie, right?
But there was problem
Bill’s wife was pregnant. And, she was expected to give birth during the Olympics.
So, Bill had a dilemma:
Compete in the Olympics or stay with his wife?
She said, “Go!”
Friends and family reassured him they’d take care of her. Even the doctor said there was nothing to worry about.
But Bill ignored them
He stayed home
Four days after the end of the Olympics, his son Frank was born.
And everything was good.
But Bill always wondered “What if…”
It came in the form of a telegram from Finland, addressed to him.
The telegram said:
Thanks for waiting for me back in 1924. I’m coming home with the gold medal you should have won.
Your loving son,
Frank Havens, the baby, had won the gold medal in canoeing. And he gave it to his dad.
Here’s the meaning behind this great story:
Kids are an extension of their parents
Lousy parents, lousy kids.
Good parents, good kids.
Great parents, great kids.
As a father, if you want anything good for your kids (whether it’s their health, their education, their manners, etc) you should lead by example.
Most of my clients are fathers.
“Pains and aches that used to torment me were eliminated by 99%. Thanks to your program, the downward spiral that happens after age 40 has also been reversed! And this is something I’m reminded of whenever I see many of my old school mates.”
The above is something one of my clients, George, shared
The interesting thing is he’s not only doing better than schoolmates he meets on the street…
…but he’s trumping even the ones at the gym.
What do I mean?
Schoolmates train 6-7 days/week
George trains 3
Schoolmates train for 2+ hours
George trains up to an hour
Schoolmates do 40+ minutes of cardio for warm-up
George does dynamic exercises for 5-10 minutes
Schoolmates have achy shoulders and backs
George has zero pain
No matter how you see it, George is trumping his schoolmates.
In George’s case we took it easy
He could train 3 days/week. Other days he was salsa dancing. So, I had to consider his recovery. Plus, he has something that’s called a life (his girlfriend is 25!) so there was a chance he might miss a workout.
So, with 3 days we trained his whole body each time
George is 40.
Oreo-cutter programs that include squats, barbell bench presses, conventional deadlifts etc are bad, bad, B-A-D…if you don’t have someone checking your form. And they are ever bad-der if you don’t tweak the programs according to your anatomy, experience, recovery and other tiny details.
Since I wanted us to be safe (George physically, and I from the law) I chose gentler exercises.
For example, here’s a training day he did at one point:
Α1) Goblet squats
Β1) Deadstop db row
Β2) Lying leg curls
C1) Rope tricep extension
C2) Side plank
What do you notice?
The exercises are not that…macho
Again, I had my reasons.
George isn’t a 20-year-old kiddo with unlimited energy and recovery ability. He’s sitting all day at work (this always affects exercise execution). And he has responsibilities that increase stress and might mess his plans.
So, I adjusted the exercises.
They were on the lighter side
But, as long as we use certain training principles, he activates his body efficiently. When he recovers, he gets stronger and builds muscle. And (the most important of all) he stays away from injuries.
For bad or bad, there are too many kids with great genes and zero coaching experience online.
Those kids give advice either based on what worked for them, or something they read.
If you think your body has such a low value, that you should take advice from those kids, hey – you’re gonna have a lot worse problems than lack of results.
Oh and FYI…
Here’s what George shared recently:
“It’s impressive that by training less, I can enjoy the same results. Plus, you take care of me and my body. Even if something goes wrong because I bumped the intensity, I won’t injure myself”
You heard the seksy 40-year-old beast…
Before dropping out of uni and becoming a Fitness Deity, I was studying computer science.
And one thing I realized was this:
I was great at coding, aka programming.
Whereas my friends mindlessly copied code during class, I tried to learn more.
After a while, I started experimenting.
I read tutorials online.
I would tweak the code and see what happens.
But most important of all? I took what I was learning and tried to make my life easier (Isn’t that the point of education, after all?). For example, I wrote a program (script, if you speak Programming-ish) that instantly loaded 5-6 applications when I opened my computer
And it was cool!
Of course, I later discovered that a 4-year-old kid from India could probably hack my computer with a 90’s mobile phone…
But damn it, I felt cool
Now, what’s important to understand is that I first had a solid grasp on the fundamentals. And then I tried doing crazy, advanced things. Aka, I didn’t try sprinting before knowing how to walk.
And you know what?
For example, I see many dudes in the gym doing exotic exercises. Sure, those exercises seem cool. But, when you look at them from an anatomical standpoint? Even I can’t figure out what muscles they’re working.
It gets worse though. Most of those exotice exercises are dangerous. They put your joints in weird positions and increase injury.
But many guys, not knowing the basics (and getting seduced by what’s exotic and secsee) prefer dumb exercises.
That’s the problem when you ignore the basics.
So listen up:
If you want to build muscle, lose belly fat and get a body that will inspire respect…focus on the basics.
Consider most of the training programs I create for clients.
I bet your left arm you’re familiar with 90% of the exercises inside. You might even be familiar with the progressive overload plan.
But guess what?
I’ve helped clients improve their physiques with the above, unseksy things. And they didn’t do anything exotic. This happens because the fundamentals work and the crazy things you see online don’t (if the crazy things worked, we’d know about it)
Anyway, if you prefer revolutionary and seksy things, my programs aren’t for you.
If however you want something that works?
Something that can build you muscle, burn the stubborn phat and give you a body that will inspire the respect you deserve?
1. eat fruits for snacks or pasta and tomato sauce for lunch or 2-3 eggs with a big salad for dinner (ever heard of protein, man?)
2. drink fruit juices because they’re “healthy”
3. only care what the scale says, while ignoring how your clothes fit or what the measuring tape shows
4. avoid lifting weight and only do cardio, while wearing a sweat belt
5. keep intermittent fasting during the day, despite having binge eating episodes at night
6. compile a diet based on advice from Feetness Eggsperts and what you “know works”
7. buy expensive pills/formulas/supplements while ignoring the amazing power of coffee
8. expect 100% perfection and beat yourself up if you fail
9. follow a complicated eating plan. When it comes crashing down, you can whine: “I failed because the lecithin content of my chia seeds wasn’t energetically aligned with the chakras of my zodiac sign”
10. Always say “I know” when a pro points out your mistakes. Then, proceed to do the mistakes you “knew” about
(Bonus tip – Keep thinking that reducing/eliminating meat is the answer to your fat-woes because a “documentary” said so. Spoiler alert: the only way to create junk food is to imbue real food with plant-based substances. Just some whole foods for thought…)
OK, enough trolling of vulnerable groups like vegetarians.
“For now, my son thinks that John’s dad (he’s his rival in kindergarten) has more impressive biceps than I do”
The above is something Petros, one of my monthly clients, sent me.
And you know what?
Today I decided to discuss how Petros (and anybody else, really) can build impressive-er biceps than all other dads. Cause, damn it, if your kid can’t proudly proclaim “My dad is better than your dad!” what’s the meaning of self-improvement?
Petros trains 4 days/week with the best training program in the world (aka a program created by yours Greekly)
For starters he needs a bicep isolation exercise, every.single.day.
And nope – back exercises don’t count.
The higher your training level, the higher your mind-muscle connection. So, during a back exercise, Petros fatigue his back first. If anything else gets fatigued first (like his biceps) that’s bad.
So, you should feel the exercise. Ideally, you need to feel your biceps working at every rep.
If you only feel them after 6 or more reps?
Sorry guys and guys.
You’re not ready yet to focus on your biceps. You should first feel them during the whole set, and then worry about specializing.
Find 3-4 you can feel
Then each day, do a different exercise.
By repeating the same exercise day in, day out, you increase your chances of getting hurt.
To double-protect your elbows and wrists, don’t use a barbell or an Ez-bar. Instead use dumbbells, bands or cables. Your upper body’s joints want to move freely. Barbells limit movement. This can lead to pain so be careful.
When you increase training frequency, you decrease training intensity.
(and vice versa)
So, I want you to leave at least 2 reps in the tank. In other words, if your rep limit is 15, do 13. This way you’ll boost intra workout recovery (a fancy way of saying you need less rest between sets). Plus, you’ll stay pain-free
What about reps and sets?
Pick medium to high reps. And 1-2 hard sets. And sorry but I can’t give specific numbers here. With Petros we’ll communicate often, see how his body responds and tweak what’s needed.
Finally, how is he gonna progress?
Since biceps are a small muscle group, we don’t expect much progress in reps and kilos.
That’s a problem.
If you don’t progress, you don’t grow. Period.
And guess what?
There are 2 ways for Petros to overcome the overload snafu.
What did you say?
“What are those ways Fotis?”
Do you think I’m running some sort of charity here?
Those are client-only secrets.
But, I know you’re not using all the secrets discussed so far. So focus on the basics first…and then search for more advanced stuff.
In Stephen King’s autobiography, On Writing, he shares a great story:
When he was very young, he sent his first manuscript to a magazine. They wrote back, rejecting him. So what did he do? He rammed a nail on the wall, and hung the letter of rejection.
From there, he kept sending stories.
And he kept receiving rejection letters.
According to him:
“By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
Eventually, a magazine accepted his story.
And the rest is hi-story.
If he had stopped, he wouldn’t be the Stephen King.
Personally, I don’t like his fiction work. I’m more of a R.A. Salvatore, Steven Erikson, Larry Correia fanboy. But On Writing is amazing. And damn it, he’s a writing machine.
So what’s the double secret?
First of all, his discipline.
Do you think many people would keep writing and sending stories, month after month, year after year? Even after getting rejected? I don’t.
“But isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again, and expect a different result?”
And this brings me to the second secret:
Faith in the process.
You see, when Stephen was getting started there was no other way to get published. You sent your stories to a magazine, and hoped they accepted them.
He knew this was the process and believed in it.
If he was getting started today, he’d self-publish (aka put his books on Amazon, on his own). He wouldn’t wait for someone to accept him. But, he’d still have faith in the process of self-publishing.
Which brings me to the lesson:
Most men have ZERO faith in the process they follow when building their bodies.
If they did, they wouldn’t stop after 1-2 weeks.
Nor would they switch programs every 7 days.
By not having faith in the process, they never gain the impressive body they want.
Do you have faith in the process you’re following?
If no, why?
Just some food for thought…
(without any particular order)
1. a hefty amount of protein – to halt hunger, build muscle and enjoy a whole array of benefits, not just for weight loss but also for your body (stronger nails, hair and bones, firmer skin, etc)
2. adjust fats and carbs – reduce them, or learn how to include them in your meals without messing your wait loss efforts
3. chew slowly – increased satiation, improved digestion and better assimilation of nutrients
4. sleep – you need both quality and quantity
5. movement – walk 8,000-10,000 steps a day, lift weights, or just do anything that keeps you active
6. healthy, supportive environment – friends, family, and coworkers don’t always care about us. So, you either improve your current environment or learn how to deal with the challenges thrown at you
7. stress management – extra useful if you suffer from binge eating episodes
8. discern hunger – there are two kinds of hunger. Real hunger and “I’m a spoiled brat” hunger. The latter causes the most problems and you should know when you’re experiencing it
9. supplements – from whey protein powder (great snack) to magnesium for sleep, anything can help. Realize that whole foods don’t always provide you with all the necessary nutrients. Most of the time, you need to supplement
Many Feetness Eggsperts ignore the above tips.
They wanna yap about superfoods, insulin and eating every 3 hours.
Good luck losing weight with them.
Back in 2009 I dislocated my left shoulder doing Capoeira.
I was demonstrating a takedown with our Mestre and I landed on my hand like a dork. The Mestre, used to dumb mistakes like that, grabbed my shoulder and popped it back in.
“Fo-ris! Go see a doc-tor amanha!” he said with his combo English-Portuguese.
Now, the orthopedist I visited wasn’t very professional. He told me the pain will go away at some point. He did some movements with his hands, told me to get bands and mimic those “exercises”. And, if I needed extra help I could…Google “how to treat a dislocated shoulder”
Anyway, back then I didn’t know 1/1000000000000 of what I know today.
I had immersed myself in Fitness already, so I began learning about pain and rehab as well.
And, I made many discoveries about shoulder pain.
As I’ve said in the past, pain is a complex subject.
We now know that the approach “something seems messed up, let’s do an X-ray” is archaic.
Instead you should think of pain as a virus inside your body’s software. A virus you need to take care of, without formatting your computer
(read the above part multiple times)
This aspect is called “lower trap strength“
Anatomically, our trapezius muscles consist of:
The upper part is trained when we lift our shoulders to our ears (think barbell shrugs)
The middle part is trained in some rowing exercises (think face pulls)
And as for the lower part…oh boy.
For me, the lower traps are the equivalent of glutes for your upper body – an important muscle that doesn’t get the love it deserves. Just like weak glutes can cause low back pain, weak lower traps can cause shoulder pain.
But it gets worse.
Do you sit a lot during your day?
If so, you also hunch your back.
And you see, hunching (aka kyphosis) can impact your shoulders. Your shoulders roll forward and this over-activates your upper traps. As a result, your lower traps are deactivated.
Think of your upper and lower traps as two guys in a constant tug of war.
As long as the upper traps are winning, your shoulder health suffers.
Do you workout?
(If you said no, why the heck are you reading this?)
If yes, weak lower traps will affect your training.
Many men shrug their shoulders when doing a row. This is a sign of weak lower traps and strong, over-activated upper traps. Ideally, you shouldn’t shrug your shoulder and it should stay fixed during rows.
The same happens with shoulder presses. If you shrug your shoulders when the exercise gets tough, that’s again a mistake of over-activated upper traps and weak lower traps.
Now, why does this happen?
Well, your body craves the path of least resistance. Shrugging your shoulders when rowing, allows you to “cheat.” This will make the exercise easier. And you’ll do more reps or lift more weight. The same is true with shoulder presses.
However, all that shrugging is bad because you might hurt your shoulder (and even your neck).
Your weak lower traps.
So what’s the solution?
Obviously to strengthen your lower traps.
Let me give you an example:
When I was training people at the gym, I’d have them do simple lower trap exercises. But, to my horror, they butchered the exercises when they were alone.
You see, it’s not enough to do the exercise.
You need to think about certain cues as well.
And you also need to increase mind-muscle connection to specific muscles.
So it won’t be strange to find a “lower trap exercise” online, do it, and feel it on your upper traps! Instead of fixing the problem, you’re only making it worse.
As I said, pain is a complex subject.
Personally, I examine 3 more aspects of shoulder health if coaching clients are in pain.
If you wanna keep training and building your body without pain, all those aspects are important.
This is why in all my training programs, I ask clients detailed questions about injuries. Not everyone is willing to do that but hey – I make my living with repeat business. If I were to cripple my clients and not overdeliver, I wouldn’t be a coach for a decade now.
Some things make zero sense to me.
Take for example minimalistic workouts.
Those are workouts that limit *what* you can do, training wise.
Let’s see dumbbell only workouts. I always ask myself, “Why just dumbbells? Why not add a set of bands? Why not add bodyweight exercises? Why limit yourself?”
Of course the creators of those programs (and the men who follow them) can’t answer those questions.
They say “Minimalism rocks!” or whatever.
OK, if you wanna be a minimalist, more power to you.
But if you want to, gee I don’t know, improve your body? If you wanna build muscle? Why limit yourself?
You should use everything at your disposal to build your body.
With dumbbells there are certain movements you can’t do. One of those is anti-rotation. An important “movement” pattern for low back health and a functional body.
But guess what?
You can’t train anti-rotation with dumbbells. Some people online say you can. But if you look at the exercises they use? You realize that these folks don’t really understand anatomy.
Let’s say you decide to only use a barbell.
If you’re a man over 35 with weak joints, barbells suck for upper body exercises.
Because they limit how much your elbows and wrists move. When you limit movement, you increase joint tear. If you’ve ever reduced (or even eliminated) elbow / wrist pain after switching to dumbbells / bands / cables from barbells, you know what I’m talking about.
Now, unless you have some type of minimalistic fetish, there’s no need to follow minimalistic workout.
If you’re interested in a nice body, you should use any equipment and method that’s available.
Here’s something I read:
(my comments will follow)
“I was benching one time and there was nobody around to spot except a thinner guy in a gymshark stringer (looked somewhat new to the gym), so I asked him for the spot.
I was doing a triple with 255, and even though I told him I was doing 3 reps only, he tried to tell me how doing high weight low reps is gonna only build strength not muscle. At first I was just gonna ignore him, but he then started flexing his arms and saying “that’s why I’m cut and ripped, I only do high reps.” (Granted, he was lean, but without much size at all).
I didn’t wanna get into an explanation of it, I just took off my hoodie, flexed my arm and said “you’re saying low reps don’t build muscle?” And he was like “uhhhhh…” Now I’m not the biggest guy, but I’ve got decent mass at 6’0 and 205 lbs.
I feel like a jerk for doing that, but this myth has been rampant throughout my university gym for awhile now, and because I hate misinformation being spread, I thought that was a good way of ending the discussion.“
The guy is right.
Low reps *can* build muscle.
But *who* should use low reps is a different story.
As he said, he’s in university right now.
When you’re young, your body responds to anything.
Suppose you had a great body in your 20’s following X training program.
Now, you’re in your 30’s, 40’s or even 50’s. You follow the exact same program…but you don’t build muscle as fast. Heck, you might experience pain or even injure yourself.
Because youth will excuse even bad programs.
So, when you’re in your 20’s you can see results even if you train a muscle once per week…do a ton of unnecessary sets…run on the treadmill 60+ minutes before your workout…eat like crap…and yes, even if you do low reps.
To make your muscles grow with low reps you need a ton of sets. I’m talking 5+. With so many sets, you’ll spend a lot of time at the gym. That’s bad because if you’re a busy family man, you can’t spend more than 45-60 minutes training.
Low reps will beat your joints, WAY more than moderate or high reps. We don’t know why that’s the case. But anyone who’s been training people for 10+ years as I do has noticed this.
So, if you’re a guy over 35 who’s short on time, stay away from low reps and high sets.