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How to Start Lifting Weights, Part 2

By braeburn in Culture
Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 05:47:52 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

Part 1 of this series contained a bit of an introduction and some discussion of the general rules of lifting weights. In this second installment, I'll discuss some of the more practical matters of lifting, including exercise selection, rep selection, spotting, supplements, and the like. This article will attempt to continue much in the same vein as the first article: I will be focusing on lifting to build strength, with a deliberate emphasis on safety, for the beginning lifter.

Before you start

While I intend to continue this series with a third part discussing various misconceptions floating around in the fitness world, before we begin it's important to get one very dangerous myth out of the way: the myth of "no pain, no gain". Most people have heard this statement at some point in their lives. It is absolutely untrue, and downright dangerous. You should not feel pain at any point during your lift; if you do, stop that exercise for that workout immediately. Now, to be clear, there is a distinction between the discomfort one feels when working a group of muscles intensely, and actual pain from an injury or improper lift. The first is natural and even desirable; the second means you have either injured yourself, will injure yourself shortly, or that you are otherwise doing something wrong. They are very different sensations, and you will be able to recognize the bad kind if you ever encounter it.

Better yet, make sure you are performing all of your reps in good form with appropriate weight, through the advice given in this article and other resources, and you'll never experience the wrong kind of pain.

Location and equipment

Most people, when they step into a gym for the first time, are confronted with a wide, intimidating array of machines, bars, people, and random bits of metal and rubber. Lots of people find themselves completely overwhelmed, especially in the free-weight area, crowded with big people, grunts, and heavy pieces of metal swinging around. So, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss some of the basic equipment in the gym, and specifically those pieces that you'll use if you decide to do the lifts I describe later.

The most basic piece of equipment you'll be using in the gym is the standard-sized Olympic barbell, which is around 7 feet long. The center of the bar is usually smooth, then some distance from the center becomes knurled or textured. Each end of the bar has what are called sleeves of larger diameter than the bar itself, where you load the weights. On many bars, these sleeves rotate independently of the bar; this is so, when you perform a movement where the bar rotates (for example, a curl), you don't have to exert the torque required to rotate the sleeves and the plates on them. An unloaded Olympic bar weighs 45 pounds.

Plates in the gym come, standardly, in 2.5, 5, 10, 25, 35, and 45 pound sizes. Some gyms carry 100 pound plates, which you usually find around a leg press machine. Also, some gyms carry plates which have been coated in rubber and are about the diameter of a 45 pound plate. These plates are called bumpers and despite their rarity they can be very valuable. Bumpers usually come in 25 and 45 pound varieties.

You will also find a wide variety of smaller bars in the gym of various shapes and textures, including short straight bars that have fixed amount of weight on them. Finally, every gym carries an assortment of dumbbells, which are usually about 10 inches long. Most gyms I have been in carry dumbbells up to about 100 pounds in weight.

Calipers are things you put on the sleeves of a barbell outside of the plates to prevent the plates from sliding by holding them firmly in place. The 2 common styles are the type with screws, which look like a very short section of pipe with a turnable screw drilled through, and the "squeezy" type, which sort of resemble short springs with handles. With the former you simply untighten the screw, slide the caliper onto the bar, and tighten the screw firmly, but not too tight. With the latter, you squeeze the handles to expand the diameter of the spring-section, slide the caliper on the bar, and then release.

Benches in the gym come in many different forms, including ones that incline and decline. The most basic and most useful is the standard flat bench. The flat bench is either just a bench, useful for many different exercises, or a flat bench designed to perform the barbell bench press. The bench press bench has, at one end, a pair of posts with rests on top to hold the bar (these should be adjustable in height), and sometimes a metal catch partway along the post which is meant to act as a safety.

Squat racks are, at their most basic, 4 upright posts of metal arranged in a square and welded together with other metal posts; the two upright posts in the front are shorter than the ones in the back, and the two supports joining the tops of the front and back sides of the rack have pins, or stops, along their length, so that you can set a bar at different heights. On the other hand, a power rack, sometimes called a cage, looks simply like a wireframe metal box, usually around 8 feet high. Holes are drilled in the front and back upright posts so that, looking at the cage from the front, you can look through the holes. These holes are where you insert the safeties, metal bars that catch the weight should you drop it, or need to set it down. The holes in the back are also where you attach the pins which hold the bar when you're not using it. Some cages have a set of fixed pins in the upper half of the cage and holes for the safeties in the lower part. On this page, the guy in the picture is performing squats in a power rack.

Clothing and gear

Wear clothes that let you perform a full range of motion (such as squatting down towards the floor, standing up again, and raising your arms up) without restricting you. Personally, I wear a slightly loose t-shirt and a pair of jogging shorts. Avoid clothes that are overly baggy or overly tight. You should feel comfortable in the clothes you're wearing; fashion is not a concern. :) Don't wear a watch or other jewelry, and keep keys and other things out of your pockets. Buy a good lock so that you can stick these things in a locker, and carry the key either in a pocket or tie it into the laces of your shoes. Try to wear shoes that have as flat and thin a sole as possible; shoes with big squishy heels are not the best. Try to choose your wardrobe so that you're at a comfortable temperature in the gym. You want your clothes to be warm or cool enough that you don't really notice the ambient temperature.

Buy a small notebook and pen to keep with it, and make sure you bring this notebook along with you on every workout. You might want to bring some water if there's not a good water fountain located conveniently. It's considerate to bring a small towel to clean up after yourself if you tend to sweat. That's all the gear you need to start. You do not need gloves, anything with straps or hooks for grip support, or a weight belt.

Warming up

Before each workout, spend around 10 minutes on a bike or treadmill, set at low resistance, to warm up. You simply want to start your heart beating a little bit and raise your core temperature, not do any actual work, so keep the resistance minimal. Then, perform a few quick, light stretches; stretching will be discussed at the end of this article in more detail. Don't stretch hard, just lightly as part of your warmup.

The workout

I'll be discussing specific exercises later in the article, but here are a few guidelines regarding reps, sets, and resting. It's important to note here that these things are very specific to you as a person; like part 1 mentioned, everyone's body is different. If you feel more productive doing more or fewer reps or sets, or resting more or less than is discussed below, do so. The numbers talked about below seem to work for the bulk of people I've talked to, but again, your mileage may vary.

  • Reps and sets

    For most exercises 3 or 4 sets is optimal, i.e., 2 or 3 warmup sets combined with 1 or 2 work sets, resulting in a total of 3 or 4 total sets (you can work out the combinations). Likewise, for most exercises 10 reps per set seems to work well for most people. If you can stand doing a higher range of reps, especially in the bigger movements like squat, go ahead and do so; some people swear by the 20-rep squat, although doing 20 reps for all my sets of squat would probably kill me. It all depends, again, on what works for you. While it's also fine to do less than 10 reps per set, be careful of getting down into very low rep ranges, like 5 reps or less per set, until you're confident in your form and thoroughly familiar with the exercise. The amount of weight you use should increase or remain constant on each set, preferably coming to a climax on your last work set. Some people advocate the pyramid method, where you increase the weight, then decrease it, but I haven't seen this work very well. Reduce the weight increases as the sets go on; for example, if you're doing 4 sets and you're going to increase the total amount of weight by 30 pounds during your workout, consider increasing by 15 pounds after the first set, then 10 after the next set, then 5 more for the final set, bringing the total weight added since your first set to 30.

    After every set, record in your notebook how many reps you were attempting, and how many you actually got. Put some notes in about how hard or easy the exercise was after all your sets are done. Keep this record up to date by making it a habit to record results after every single set.

  • Form and breathing

    Remember your form. Even if the set you are currently doing seems light and easy, don't let your form slip at all; as the sets get harder and harder stay vigilant about your form. If you cheat and break form (yes, this is called cheating) to complete a set, you really haven't succeeded on that set, and should repeat the same weight at your next workout instead of going up. Also, remember to breathe properly during your set. Exhale on the positive phase, inhale on the negative, and do not stop breathing; take multiple breaths if you have to.

  • Resting

    Take a rest between each set your perform. How long to make your rest period is a hotly debated topic, but again, the basic rule of "whatever's best for you" applies. Once you find good length, try to keep that length pretty constant in successive workouts. As the weights get heavy you'll probably want to rest a little more, and that's natural, but don't let it get out of hand. In the hard exercises, such as squat or deadlift, I average 1 set every 5 minutes.

  • Spotting

    Your lifting will always benefit from having a spotter there to assist you if required. A good spotter knows the mechanics of the exercise you are performing and will know how people's form tends to break down when the reps get too hard. He or she will tell you when your form starts to slip, and will remind you of proper breathing should you start to hold your breath. Good spotters know when you are just sticking a bit and may pull yourself unaided through the rep, and when it's time to provide actual assistance. If you have a good spotter (usually a workout partner), you're set. However, keep in mind that ultimately you are responsible for all these things, not the spotter, and that most spotters in the gym are not good spotters. Feel free to give your spotter instructions before the lift, even if they're just someone random you asked for a spot; remember, it's your lift, not the spotter's. For example, when I ask for a spot on bench press, I tell my spotter not to help me unless during a rep the weight starts to come down again (sometimes on the positive phase of a rep I will struggle and the weight will stop going up; at this point, however, I may still be able to get the rep in good form, so I don't want a spot yet), or unless my form starts to break down (for me, when my form breaks on a bench press I start to lift the bar unevenly: I tell the spotter this as well).

    However, you can perform some exercises perfectly safely without a spotter: for example, if you squat or bench press in a cage, the safeties will allow you to perform these lifts safely by yourself, as long as you do not foolishly try to get a rep despite bad form, instead of accepting that the lift is over for now and setting the weight down on the safeties.

  • Miscellaneous tips

    It's a good idea to drink some water during your workout, but keep the amounts small (a mouthful or two) and spaced out (between sets, for example). If you drink too much water too quickly during a heavy workout, you may vomit.

    Some people prefer lifting on a completely empty stomach; some people like having eaten something beforehand. If you eat before you lift, give yourself a good hour and a half, at least, after you eat before you get into the gym to get your food digested. Again, if you lift too soon after you eat, you'll probably vomit.

    If you can, consume something nutritious and easy to digest as soon as possible after your workout is done. Liquid meal replacements are ideal for this. Maybe 30 minutes or an hour after your workout, eat something solid. Both of these meals should have a good amount of carbohydrates and protein. You may start to feel pretty cranky and irritable if you let several hours go by without eating after a lift.

    Even if you generally lift alone, it's really important to get someone to watch you at least once every couple of months to check for form deterioration. If you can't find anyone who knows about lifting, borrow a video camera from a friend, and convince someone to give up an hour of their day to come to the gym and film you performing a workout. Watch the tape later, check your form, and correct any mistakes.


Now is the time to get a good, relaxing stretch in. Perform several stretches to help promote flexibility. Stretches will also help your muscle recovery. Unfortunately, I don't have very good advice about specific stretches to perform. I'm hoping that people will post comments with recommendations below. At the least, stretch your calves, hamstrings, and groin. The guideline of "no pain" continues to apply during stretching. You should not feel pain while stretching, and if you do, you're stretching too hard.

What to expect

If you are still new to lifting, or have recently started your cycle over after taking a break, you are probably going have some muscle soreness the next day or possibly even 2 days later. If this is your first lift ever, you are probably going to be exceptionally sore, so be prepared. However, you will probably notice as your cycle goes on that you're only occasionally getting sore. This is natural as your body adjusts to the stress you're putting it under, so don't be concerned. Lack of soreness does not mean you had a poor workout.

If you are just starting to lift weights, you will probably be quite surprised at how rapidly you can increase your poundage on almost every exercise. You will probably be able to go up by 10 pounds per week for quite a while. Eventually, these very rapid increases will start to become trickles, first becoming only 5 pound per week increments and then either become 2.5 pounds per week, or 0 pounds per week. When you reach this point - congratulations! You have just completed your first cycle. Unfortunately, you shouldn't expect such rapid increases in poundage in later cycles like you experienced when you first started. While exciting, these are mostly due to your neurological system adjusting to lifting weights. Your muscles are indeed getting stronger, but your muscle responses are also becoming much more efficient. Eventually your gains come mostly from your muscles increasing in strength, which is not as quick a process as adjustments in your muscle response. But increases in muscle strength are the whole idea, so let this fact encourage you rather than discourage you.

Specific lifts

Finally, I've come to the portion of the article where I'll discuss a few specific lifts. First, a caveat: many people will probably disagree with this choice of lifts. People will approach you in the gym telling you you'd be much better off performing exercise X instead of squat, for example. These alternate exercises may work for these people, and they may work for you, too. The lifts I'll discuss below are not the end-all, be-all of lifting. As long as you are lifting safely, feel free to experiment and find what works best for you.

That said, if you can and do persevere in the lifts I describe below, you will probably find that they are among the most productive lifts you can do. The three lifts I will describe are the squat, deadlift, and bench press. I perform and choose to explain these lifts for a couple of very good reasons. The first is that these are the three competitive powerlifts. If any of you ever decide to enter a powerlifting competition, these are the lifts you will be judged upon. As such, they have been standard measures of bodily strength for many years.

The second reason is that your performance in these three exercises is a very good measurement of functional strength. For example, everyone has lifted something heavy from the floor, like a box full of books. The strength you use here is the same strength you're developing in the deadlift. If your car has ever stalled in the middle of the road and you had to push it into a parking lot or onto the side of the road, the strength you used is the same strength you develop through the squat and the bench press.

Finally, in addition to being extremely productive, useful exercises, once you learn the form correctly you can perform all three alone if need be. Perform squat and bench press in a cage with the safeties in the proper place; if you feel your form start to slip during a rep, immediately lower the weights in a controlled way onto the safeties and stop that particular lift for the day. Perform deadlift with bumpers on the bar, or arrange some kind of padding or carpeting where the weights touch the ground, and if your form slips, either immediately lower the weight to the ground and stop, or drop the weights if you have to.

I'll only describe these three exercises briefly so you can get some idea of them; at the end of the article I'll provide some links to more thorough descriptions with pictures. Make sure you thoroughly understand the exercise and how it is supposed to be performed before you attempt it, and then the first few weeks you attempt it, perform the exercise with an unloaded bar, then progress a few pounds at a time. All three of these exercises are technically complex enough that you should invest at least 3-4 workouts just concentrating on learning the form. Having someone who know the proper form watch you during this phase is highly recommended.

  • Squat

    I consider squat to be in some sense the mother of all lifts. It is very physically demanding, and works so much muscle, that most people agree if you can perform the squat, you absolutely should. A properly performed squat will develop not only your legs but almost all of your back and some abdominal musculature. The short version of the squat explanation goes like this: stand upright with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, your toes pointing about 30 degrees outward, and a barbell placed across the upper portion of your traps (not on your neck, and not too low - see one of the pictures in the articles linked later for a better idea of where this location is). You should feel centered with the weight of your body and the bar on the center of your feet, neither leaning forward nor leaning back. You should be able to wiggle your toes off the ground anytime during a rep. Keeping your back straight (imagine standing straight up with good posture, shoulders slightly back, sideways next to a mirror - this is what your back should look like, i.e. flat or slightly concave, throughout the lift), and the weight over your heels, lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then return to the upper position. Do not allow your knees to move inward during the positive phase. That's one rep of the squat.

    There are a couple places where people tend to cheat during the squat. The first is leaning forward too much, which you will feel because your weight will be on your toes or towards the front of your feet. The second is letting your knees move inward when you press up. This puts a lot more stress on your knees. Third is letting your back round during the squat. This is particularly insidious because it's one of the more dangerous mistakes and harder to detect. Finally, sometimes people tend to twist their torsos a bit or come up unevenly.

    Perform the squat in a cage or squat rack with safeties at the proper place, even if you have a spotter present.

  • Deadlift

    Deadlift is very productive for almost all of your back musculature, your grip, and also your legs. There are a few variations on the deadlift involving foot position (and even different bars), but the one I perform, and the one more people seem to be comfortable with is called the sumo-style deadlift, and is performed with a straight Olympic bar. Use bumpers if possible; if your gym doesn't have bumpers, try to deadlift on carpet or some kind of padding. You don't even need a cage for the deadlift, just the bar and some open space on the floor. The reason you want padding on the floor, or bumpers on the bar, is to reduce any impact from when you set the bar down, and to prevent the plates from breaking if you have to drop the bar. This is important, because it's basically impossible to spot someone on deadlift.

    Step up to the loaded bar on the floor; stop with your shins about 3 or 4 inches away from the bar. With your toes about 45 degrees outward, place your feet a bit wider than shoulder width. Let your arms dangle down between your legs and squat down a little, and if your arms just brush the inside of your legs you'll know you have about the right foot spacing. Now, stand up and get your back flat, like in squat. During the deadlift, your lower back remains absolutely in this position. When you bend, your bending is at your hips only. Your back never ever bends or rounds at all. Letting your arms fall straight down, lower yourself down by bending your legs and bending slightly at the hips until your hands reach the bar. Your shoulders should be much higher than your hips, and your back remains flat. Firmly grip the bar in both hands with your knuckles facing away from you (palms towards you). Squeeze the weight off the ground by pushing with your legs while exerting enough force with your lower back that your shoulders and hips remain in the same relative positions. Continue moving upward, straightening your legs and your hips until you are standing fully upright. The bar will brush lightly along your shins as the bar raises; this will help you keep the amount you're straightening your hips versus your legs at the proper ratio, so to speak. The weight should, again, be over the centers of your feet. Don't throw your hips forward or excessively pull your shoulders back at the top of the lift.

    Begin lowering the weight by bending at your knees, not at your hips. About when the bar reaches your knees you will need to bend at your hips to continue lowering the bar. Again, the bar will brush lightly against your shins as you lower it. Lower the weight until it touches the ground; your body should be in the same position as when you picked the weight up. This is one rep of the deadlift.

    The most common mistake in the deadlift is letting your back round, either when you lower the weight or when you pick it up. Also, avoid the tendency you may have to let your hips go up when you pick the weight up from the ground; that is, don't let your legs straighten and your shoulders remain in the same place. The phrase I keep in my head when deadlifting, since I tend to do this, is "Shoulders first." The same as with squat, don't twist, bring the weight up unevenly, or let the weight get over your toes or too far back. Don't let the weight drift too far from your legs, and be careful of scraping the weight up your shins too hard.

  • Bench press

    The bench press primarily works your chest, arms, and shoulders. I'm not going to really explain the mechanics of bench press at all, since the entirety of the bench press section from Stuart McRobert's book, which I recommended in article 1, is reposted online with pictures at hardgainer.com; this is an excellent set of instructions, and links are provided below.

    However, I will mention some common mistakes. An important rule that a lot of people break: keep your ass on the bench at all times. People who bench in the gym with their feet on the bench and their butts in the air are putting a large amount of stress on their spinal column. Your ass should not leave the bench. Also, if you're not going to bench in a cage, always have a spotter present, since failing on a bench press without a spotter is very dangerous. Read the articles that I'll link below about bench press, since they offer these tips and many more.


Diet is such a complex subject that it really makes for its own article. I'll provide a link below to a good article about nutrition and lifting; this article should give you enough to get started, and then later on you should be able to find several more articles on other sites.

A final note: supplements

Someone asked in the previous article's comments about supplements, and whether they were necessary or useful. This is another hotly debated gym topic, so I'll offer my personal beliefs here; many people will probably disagree. The only supplements I view as being useful are protein powders, since it's hard sometimes to get as much protein in a day as you need, and liquid meal replacements, which provide a good amount of protein, carbohydrates, and calories. Liquid meal replacements are ideal after a workout when you should consume some calories quickly, or if you're very busy and don't have time to eat all the full, solid meals you should eat.

Most other supplements, I have found, either provide no benefits or only temporary ones. Plus, supplements are very expensive. I believe that you would get more benefit spending this money on good quality, clean food than you would via supplements. Many people talk about the benefits of things like creatine and andro; if you feel you could benefit from something like this, make sure you do research from a reputable site (i.e., not a vendor) so that you understand generally what the supplement claims to do and how it does it.

Finally, when you buy supplements, including liquid meals and protein powders, check the ingredients to make sure you're not getting something unexpected. Sometimes vendors stick things like ginseng or yohimbe bark into workout drinks; this may not be your cup of tea. If you're a vegan, watch out for casein or other dairy and egg proteins. Aspartame is another big ingredient to watch out for in supplements, if you're not comfortable with aspartame or other sugar substitutes.


See you in part 3.


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Related Links
o Part 1
o this page
o Part 1 [2]
o part 2
o part 3
o Flash and non-flash demos
o The barbell back squat
o How to deadlift
o This
o Also by braeburn

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How to Start Lifting Weights, Part 2 | 72 comments (61 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
Stretching (5.00 / 7) (#8)
by Osiris on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 02:12:44 PM EST

Muscles break down when you work them hard.  They heal, which is what makes you get stronger; they heal by shortening and thickening as they rebind.  You need to stretch at the end of your workout, or you will lose flexibility.

You'll want to stretch every muscle group you just worked out, and all the ones that oppose those.  For the three exercises in the article, especially if you do them all, this will be pretty much every group in the body.

In general, you want to apply gentle, steady pressure when you stretch.  Don't bounce.  Hold for a minimum of 10 seconds, slightly increasing pressure as you go.  Make sure the muscle you're stretching is relaxed.  Rest a couple of seconds, and do it again.  Three repetitions is good.

For example, to stretch your hamstrings, sit on the floor with your legs out, about 45 degrees right and left, toes pointing up.  Reach out towards your left foot with your left hand.  Lean that way.  Hold and lower gently for 10 to 15 seconds.  Now try grasping the toes with your hand and pulling the foot off the ground.  Hold for 10 seconds.  Relax, repeat a couple of times.  Do it with the other leg.

To get the quad, the opposing muscle, stand, bend your leg up behind you, and grab it with your hand.  Pull gently until you feel the stretch.  Might want to have a wall to grab if you start to lose balance.

Stretching is simple.  You can figure out how to stretch muscles pretty easily, I'm not going to give a hundred examples.  Just make sure you do it.  It will reduce soreness, and by stretching after you work out, you'll actually increase flexibility.

Speaking of soreness, I've read that it's a product of acid buildup in healing muscles, and that drinking plenty of water dilutes the effect.  Seems reasonable.  I've also found that going on a light run the morning after I lift gets the blood flowing and seems to help with overall soreness- running is very much a whole body workout.

Especially important for "older folks" (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by visigoth on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 05:49:40 PM EST

I read somewhere (don't recall where) recommendations for longer periods holding the stretch, like 20-30 seconds, especially for people who are 40 and older. Works for me...

One supplement did seem to help with soreness in the early stages: free form amino acids. After I had adjusted to the regular stresses of lifting, though, they didn't seem to help or were just plain not necessary.

[ Parent ]

Stretch Times (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by Kintanon on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:28:44 PM EST

There are situations where you want to hold a stretch for as long as 4 to 5 minutes, but most people are only going to need a 10-15 second stretch after a workout. I recommend longer stretches after your warmup befure you do aerobic excersise though, probably 20-30 seconds.
I'm don't do a lot of weightlifting, but I can do over 1000 jumping jacks nonstop and full splits side and front... I've done a lot of aerobic and flexibility training in the last 8 years.


[ Parent ]

Stretching (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by substrate on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 09:39:13 AM EST

I do each stretch for a count of 30, which for me is a little over a minute. It keeps me pretty flexible, more flexible than most males and a lot more flexible than most people who lift weights. I stretch everything before I start exercising and I also stretch out the part I was just working out between sets. This works for me, your mileage may vary etc. I know that when I was into martial arts flexibility came very slowly for me compared to others in my class.

[ Parent ]
Water (5.00 / 2) (#16)
by premier on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:43:00 PM EST

Drinking water will not reduce the amount of lactic acid in your muscle fiber, which causes soreness after intense use. Water will, however, reduce the chances of cramping.

[ Parent ]
Jerky movements (1.85 / 14) (#10)
by medham on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 03:27:08 PM EST

Build power and flexibility. Keep those knees rigid and lift in staccato bursts. Warming-up causes premature fatigue.

You see those big guys in the gym, the ones who curl a lot more than you can bench? Steroids. No (needle) pain, no gain.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Sad (2.50 / 2) (#15)
by premier on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:40:48 PM EST

It's sad to see the rating on your comment with several 1's, and even a trusted user giving it a zero.

Obviously these people are ignorant of the facts. Jerking movements do build flexibility in muscles and tendons. Also, if you think those huge guys in the gym don't take an anabolic steroid now or have in the past, you are being naive. Ask them, they aren't shy about it.

Regardless, quit rating comments as low as you can just because you, out of ingorance, don't understand how the statement can be true.

[ Parent ]

Medham (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:55:00 PM EST

Medham has this habit of fabricating quotes and facts. I gave his comment here a 0 because it seemed not only wrong, but dangerous. Show me a reputable source that advocates "jerky movements" to build flexibility and I'll retract my rating.

[ Parent ]
I'd invite you (none / 0) (#42)
by medham on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 03:35:21 AM EST

To provide proof for your remark, or else withdraw it with an apology.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Uhm... (none / 0) (#54)
by einer on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 03:31:42 PM EST

The burden of proof does not lie with the party who questioned the initial premise, but with the party who put forth the initial premise as fact: namely, you.

[ Parent ]
The initial premise? (none / 0) (#58)
by medham on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 04:29:31 PM EST

That I frequently fabricate "facts and quotes," is that the one you refer to in your comically inept mangling of informal logic?

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Some examples (none / 0) (#59)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 05:11:03 PM EST

Some examples:

Here You give Oliver Wendell Holmes name as Oliver-John Holmes. Perhaps this is an honest mistake.

Here you claim that the KGB subsidized LSD production in the United States.

Your reply to this is pretty revealing.

Finally, here you say the Bertrand Russel was an advocate of intelligent design.

Now the burden of proof lies with you. If you can cite publicly available sources for these statements, I'll apologize and state instead that "Medham is frequently wrong." If you can actually provide convincing evidence, I'll apologize and null out my rating (and any of my ratings on the comments mentioned).

[ Parent ]

Responses (none / 0) (#60)
by medham on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 05:17:55 PM EST

Your first point is mere pedantry.

I stand by the second. There are obvious reasons why this wouldn't be public knowledge, yet it can be easily inferred. Cui bono, &c.

The problem with all of those so-called "sweeping generalizations" is that, as I said, most of them were probablistic.

The fourth point, regarding Russell, requires an understanding that logical atomism, of which he was an adherent, is a necessary precondition for intelligent design. Holistic theories of meaning preclude telelogical design; and, since Russell was opposed to them, he laid the metaphysical foundation for Behe and company.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Amusing (none / 0) (#61)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 06:02:07 PM EST

So, you inferred that the KGB subsidized LSD production in the US because the Soviet Union benefited? That's not a logically valid inference, so I'll stick by "fabricated" on that one, especially since in your comment you said there was "good evidence" that that was the case.

The generalizations referred to in my third point were not even probabilistically true, and you still haven't given any evidence.

For the forth point, supporting a necessary precondition for a theory is quite different from supporting a theory. Once again, you do not even attempt to show that anyone besides you believes that Russell was an advocate of intelligent design.

So, let me ask you: Do you truly believe everything you write, or do you just like getting into arguments?

[ Parent ]

Let's see (none / 0) (#62)
by medham on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 06:15:31 PM EST

Can you explain why it isn't a logically valid inference? Call your local police department while you're at it; they might be interested in the ramifications.

If you live in the U.S., and you see a Mexican; what do you think the chances are that he or she is a legal immigrant?

If someone believes all of the things that an "advocate" of a theory that didn't exist when they were alive believes, then they are, by implication, supporters of the theory.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you medham (none / 0) (#63)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 07:52:15 PM EST

His first paragraph indicates that he believes that when someone is murdered, the logical thing to assume is that his heirs did it.

His second paragraph indicates that he believes the majority of Mexicans in the US are illegal immigrants, and if you read the original comment, indicates he believes most gay men are pedophiles.

Is he a moron, or is he troll? I leave it to you to decide.

This concludes my demonstration.

[ Parent ]

Ouch (none / 0) (#64)
by medham on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 09:25:14 PM EST

That first statement shows a truly extraordinary lack of understanding. When a man is murdered, the beneficiaries of large insurance policies and heirs are among the first people looked at, for obvious reasons.

The second however is just a matter of fact. There are eight million illegals estimated to be in the U.S. Check the INS to see how many legal immigrants they've allowed in.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

False logic (none / 0) (#65)
by yonatan on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 07:52:10 PM EST

So maybe the USSR benifited---does mean that you can claim that they were responsible, or just that it might prompt you to investigate?

To use your example, if someone dies do you:
A) Throw them in jail---they must be guilty.
B) Go to a judge, get a warent, and investigate.
--- Wheeee!!!
[ Parent ]

No (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by medham on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 07:57:48 PM EST

You take them to a morgue.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Jerky? Why? (none / 0) (#19)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:51:57 PM EST

I was taught "slow and controlled" - and I certainly feel the exercise more that way than if I just try to throw the weight.

The gift that lasts a lifetime: Give your child "mental blocks" this christmas!

[ Parent ]
You are correct. (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by braeburn on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:10:32 PM EST

Pay no attention to the parent of your comment. Slow and controlled is the proper way to lift weights safely. Jerking the weights around puts more stress on your joints and usually makes the exercise less worthwhile because momentum is helping you do the lift.

[ Parent ]
Same goes for stretching (none / 0) (#37)
by Anonymous 7324 on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:59:51 PM EST

but I think it's common knowledge by now that bouncing (ballistic stretching) is a very Bad thing.

[ Parent ]
Slow and Controlled (none / 0) (#55)
by einer on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 03:33:56 PM EST

I've had great success with 6 second reps. 4 seconds down (on the negative) and 2 seconds up. This allows me to get a good tear in with a smaller amount of weight. This is ideal for me since I have a history of joint problems. I would recommend at least investigating this method. Unfortunately, I don't know the name for what I'm describing. ;(

[ Parent ]
Futile (1.63 / 11) (#14)
by premier on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:32:55 PM EST

Creating these wordy articles documenting how to lift weights is basically futile. The people who lift weights already very likely already know the proper form and methods. The people who don't know, don't care because they don't lift weights. People who don't lift weights are not going to start going to the gym and doing so because of your lenghty article telling them how.

Thus, you're basically preaching to the converted. Also, differnet people have different abilities, body types, and metabolisms. Thus, they might follow every example you've listed in the form you recommend and not get results. There is no single way to lift, single meal plan to use, or single routine that will work for everyone. Trying to make one up, as you've done here, is worthless.

If someone is not already exercising, and wants to being, what they should do is visit their doctor and/or a licensed nutriotionist who can work closely with them to develop and plan that will work for them and produce results. As any nutritionist will tell you, your diet must be altered at certain intervals to avoid stagnating. Regularly changing your routine in lifting is also very important, if you stick with the same routing every day your muscles will get "used" to it, and stop growing.

There are so many myths and misconceptions about lifting, you can visit all the sites you listed and get so many conflicting statements that you gain nothing in the end. Don't waste your time trying to sort through it all and decide what is right. Go to a nutrionist or personal trainer and see what results you get, then make a decision. Don't use a pieced together testimonial on a weblog.

Bzzzt. (5.00 / 2) (#18)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:49:25 PM EST

Despite my knee-jerk reaction to the whole "free weights are better than machines" thing, I'm still learning a lot from braeburns articles.

I'm still not likely to start working with free weights, either - but most of what he says applies to my own exercise program.

The gift that lasts a lifetime: Give your child "mental blocks" this christmas!

[ Parent ]
free weights vs. machines (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by forii on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:06:04 PM EST

I'm curious why you're not likely to work with free weights. The big benefit of free weights is that they force the development of stabilization muscles that a lot of time are neglected with machines (since they perform a lot of the stabilization for you).

Machines have their benefits too, especially the fact that cables allow a greater range of movements to be worked out, as opposed to free weights (where the resistance direction always points down). And they don't (usually) require a spotter, unlike some free weight exercises.

I use both, mixing both into a single workout, such as following a set of bench pressing with some tricep-pulldowns on a machine.

Proud member of the ACLU, the NRA, and the EFF.
[ Parent ]

Space requirements... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:27:49 PM EST

I don't consider machines "better" - I just think each is appropriate in it's place. In my case, it comes down to space (the bowflex folds up small) and time (exercising in my basement is faster and easier than travelling to a gym). There's also the safety factor. In theory I could press 310 pounds (yeah right) with no fear of killing myself or the basement floor. Plus, if you actually use it, the bowflex is cheaper in the long run than a gym membership.

The stabilization issue works both ways - the bowflex isn't one of those steel wombs that keeps you from doing the exercise incorrectly but, OTOH, because you're working against a cable rather than real weights you can get pulled off balance by the not-quite-vertical resistance.

Recently I did add some light (20 lb) dumbbells to the mix.

The gift that lasts a lifetime: Give your child "mental blocks" this christmas!

[ Parent ]
Space (none / 0) (#34)
by forii on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:32:19 PM EST

True, space can be a major factor. :)

Personally, I like having a gym to go to, just because I'd get bored with just having one machine to play with. Although it might be worth it to get a treadmill for home, then I could websurf while running, rather than watch whatever is on the TV at 24 Hour Fitness. (Please, not Kids in the Hall again!!)

Proud member of the ACLU, the NRA, and the EFF.
[ Parent ]

Shaking up the routine... (none / 0) (#45)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 09:29:12 AM EST

Boredom can definitely be a factor - but it's not that hard to shake up the routine. I try to do different things with the seasons; most recently I've lightened up on the strength training and starting doing a lot of bike riding - my daily commute makes it easy to stop on the way to or from work and do 7-8 miles on the bike.

I figure by late fall I'll be sick enough of the bike that hiding in the basement and using the ski machine and the bowflex will look good again. :-P

The gift that lasts a lifetime: Give your child "mental blocks" this christmas!

[ Parent ]
I use only machines (none / 0) (#32)
by Anonymous 7324 on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:26:57 PM EST

except for specific groups where machines aren't available. Stability is a good thing to have, but IMO machines are just dead simple, assist with posture, and unless you're a total idiot, it's much much more difficult to get injured by a falling weight from a machine.

That said, as another poster said, free weights are certainly smaller and more suited for the home, although at this point I'm favoring mostly aerobic exercises and muscle tone exercises requiring nothing more than a carpeted floor and a bare wall, with a heavy emphasis on stretching, and stretching well.

[ Parent ]

stability and stretching (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by forii on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:58:34 PM EST

The nicest thing about stability is that it's really good at preventing injury. Most athletic injuries come from joints extending further than they should, and with greater stability, there is more protection against that.

I happen to care a lot about that, ever since I partially dislocated both shoulders (at the same time), permanently stretching out the ligaments there. There is surgery available to fix that, but it's cheaper to just strengthen the muscles around the joints.

Stretching is important too, also for helping prevent injury, I wish more weightlifting tutorials emphasized that. It's hard to do, since it's so difficult to measure. And it's not especially pleasant to do. I know I should get more in...

Proud member of the ACLU, the NRA, and the EFF.
[ Parent ]

Knowledge is Power (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by forii on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:57:48 PM EST

Actually I know quite a few people who are interested in working out, or heading to the gym, but are intimidated by the act of actually lifting weights. The first time of going into a gym and seeing racks and racks of heavy weights, without any instruction on how to use any of these can be cause enough for someone to just avoid them, even though there are huge benefits from lifting (any type of lifting, not just the body-building style that these articles seem to advocate).

Face it, unless someone did some kind of sport in school, the hows and whats of weightlifting are not things that are usually taught to the average person. Sure there are tons of different opinions on the specifics of "how to maximize your performance", but that doesn't apply to most beginners, who instead are more concerned with "how often should I lift?".

On a more personal level, I've found that a lot of people who don't lift weights are interested in starting, especially as they get older. You say, "The people who don't know, don't care because they don't lift weights.", but I disagree. A lot of people who don't lift weights don't lift precisely because they don't know how. Actually last week I was advising a friend on lifting, and I know that he's never done weightlifting before in his life, so he was curious about the basics. Strangely enough, his training as an Electrical Engineer never included instruction on the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise. But that didn't mean that he wasn't interested in it.

Proud member of the ACLU, the NRA, and the EFF.
[ Parent ]

your talking about me huh? (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by techwolf on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:59:43 PM EST

because I used to want to lift ut just as you said every damn time I went to the gym i was beyond intimidated by the dozens of machines and the guy who did know what they were doing and they were lifting oh about ten times what probably could.

f course I necver did get into lifting but I did get into running recently and I have learned to talk to the experts first and learn the right way to do it, but if my buddy hadn't been there the start running with me (props to you for doing that E.J.) and help me out in starting I would have failed or given up. sometimes friends helping you out can also make the difference.

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Wrong. (4.20 / 5) (#24)
by braeburn on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:16:53 PM EST

I was interested in lifting weights for a long time, but never started because I would walk into a gym and get overwhelmed. I'd walk around looking at the different machines and try ones that said they exercised the muscles I thought needed exercise. I didn't have enough money to hire a personal trainer or join a fancy gym that would provide one. I would go to the gym for about a week and then get frustrated because I didn't know what the hell I was doing, and then I'd quit.

Finally I met some people who knew what they were doing, and I decided to give it another chance. Proper training and a good introduction made all the difference in the world. 2 1/2 years later I am still lifting, and it's made a huge difference in my life.

I became my own nutritionist. I don't vary my diet very much because it's always been productive for me; I haven't "stagnated". I've been following the exact same basic program since I started, and I'm still gaining.

So I wanted to share that experience and knowledge a little bit. What's so futile about that?

[ Parent ]

Good Start. (5.00 / 3) (#31)
by Christopher on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:14:24 PM EST

Couldn't agree more. Having good information available to anyone interested is great, especially in a forum like K5 where a fair number of readers have never lifted before, and don't know anyone who has. It may not be the best thing for everyone, but it's a good place to start.

I've long felt that gyms don't do enough education of new members. (I have my own theories about why.) Until this gets fixed, articles like this one are likely to be the only "formal education" that many beginning weightlifters get. Had I read this before I started lifting 2 years ago, I would have made far fewer stupid mistakes. It's good to see that someone's looking out for the newbie weightlifters out there!

more and more to do, less and less to prove
[ Parent ]

Anecdotal argument (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by Spendocrat on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:53:27 PM EST

I just started lifting weights, and I don't know anyone weight lifters. I've been using the machines at the gym due to my ignorance about free weights, and fear of getting injured. These articles are right up my alley.

[ Parent ]
nope (none / 0) (#40)
by florin on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 01:58:06 AM EST

I wasn't a "converted", but this article just moved me in that direction.

[ Parent ]
I don't think so (none / 0) (#52)
by alvarete on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 02:35:36 PM EST

Many people like to be informed before they undertake something. While it's true that the number of K5 readers that are considering weight lifting and need that extra push to make the leap is (I'd wager) very low, or non-existent, I find articles like these, well written and informative, highly interesting. This is about as "from the trenches" as it's going to get, and I certainly liked it. I'm sure a large chunk of the "I just like to know stuff" crowd around here will agree...
Able to come in contact with reality upon request. Inquire within.
[ Parent ]
workoutplan.com (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by illegalien on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:46:01 PM EST

I find www.workoutplan.com (a FREE service) to be pretty useful. It allows you to chart your progress and, accordingly, adjusts your workout excersizes, reps, resistance, etc.

No pain no gain? (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 06:53:41 PM EST

Seriously, I've often wondered about this - when I do leg lifts, I will often feel a deep painful burn long before I get any degree of shakiness. I just work through it - is that a mistake?

The gift that lasts a lifetime: Give your child "mental blocks" this christmas!

Depends who you ask... (none / 0) (#28)
by Andy P on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:58:40 PM EST

I once had a martial arts teacher who always said "If it doesn't hurt, you're doing it wrong", but I always assumed he was trying to shut up the whiners.

[ Parent ]
it's the joints (none / 0) (#41)
by florin on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 02:01:15 AM EST

I think the problem is when you feel pain in the joints, or towards the ends of the muscles.
I don't think there's any problem with the burning sensation in the middle of the muscle. That's the pain that brings the gain.
But of course, if you feel violent, sudden and/or unusual pain in the middle of the muscle, i think that's actually a problem.

[ Parent ]
That's what I thought. (none / 0) (#46)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 09:32:17 AM EST

Heh. If muscle burn was bad I'd have to give up exercise altogether!

The gift that lasts a lifetime: Give your child "mental blocks" this christmas!

[ Parent ]
Well, since you asked for stretching.... (5.00 / 4) (#26)
by Andy P on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:52:00 PM EST

Here's what I use ("borrowed" from an navy seal fitness manual), I uploaded them in all their glory for you guys. Don't laugh at the illustrations, if your an American you payed for it. Check out the last image, it's a full body post exercise stretching program.

These are all static stretches, if anyone wants I'll edit and upload the dynamic guide too, but I figured everyone knows how to do neck rolls right? 56k'ers be warned, it might be a slow load.

Slightly OT, but more rewarding than lifting... (1.41 / 24) (#30)
by Ivy League Troll on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:08:36 PM EST

I've been masturbating in the comfort of my own room (centering on what's traditionally called "jerking off" or "choking the chicken") for about 2 1/2 years now. While that's not very long in terms of a male's lifespan, I was taught from my very first session how to properly reach orgasm by very experienced people. In the years that I've been masturbating, the same fact has struck me over and over again: very few people who frequently masturbate and seriously want to cum know the proper ways of doing so. While this might strike some as elitist, it's a serious concern of mine: improperly stroking one's self leads to injuries, sometimes serious ones, and spreads misinformation about the activity. Also, recently I've seen a lot of discussion at a lot of sites about the shrinking penis size of the average American, and in the spirit of other K5 content such as Rusty's Guide to Extortion, I thought there might be some interest in an article about succeeding with your right hand, and how to get started doing it properly.

Promise that it'll get bigger (none / 0) (#56)
by einer on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 03:36:41 PM EST

Promise that it'll get bigger with your method, and everyone will try it. They may flame you, they may deny having tried, they may call you a liar, they may moderate you down, but rest assured, they'll try it. Please post it. ;)

[ Parent ]
Someone foward this einer guy... (none / 0) (#71)
by SPYvSPY on Fri Dec 27, 2002 at 03:11:43 PM EST

...a penis-enlarger SPAM. He really seems desperate for some help in that dept.

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Questions (4.33 / 3) (#39)
by pexatus on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 11:31:29 PM EST

You sound as if your primary motivation for lifting weights is to increase your muscle size. There are other reasons to lift besides this, of course. I want to lift weights to help my martial arts training. Muscles that are stronger and faster are helpful, but I need to stay flexible. Keeping my weight down is important, too, as I prefer to be as light as possible to compete in lower weight classes.

Question 1: Any advice? Know anyone who uses a workout like yours to get better at another activity, like martial arts?

The workouts I have been doing are mostly isolation exercises: hamstrings and biceps for judo throws, quad stretches and abs for kicks, triceps for punches, etc. One argument I've heard for isolation exercises is that if one muscle gets really strong, it can't help another weak muscle out on an exercise isolating the weak muscle, but a compound exercise could allow the weak muscle to get away with not working as hard. Your arguments for compound exercises from the first article make intuitive sense, but so does the one I just said.

Question 2: Ever heard this? Know any counter-arguments? Or is it just best to do both compound exercises and isolation exercises?

I've also heard that some muscles, like abs, don't benefit from the standard high-weight, 10-reps-per-set prescription. It's supposedly better to do a lot of reps in one set, and do this set everyday. I can see this making sense for something like abs, where you don't want gigantic bulging abdominal muscles, just hard, toned, strong muscles. I've heard this about lower back and calves as well (although I'm not sure I buy it for calves).

Question 3: What's the story on always doing low-weight, high-reps for certain muscle groups?

high reps/low resistance (none / 0) (#43)
by snacky on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 06:38:08 AM EST

I've also heard that some muscles, like abs, don't benefit from the standard high-weight, 10-reps-per-set prescription. It's supposedly better to do a lot of reps in one set, and do this set everyday.
This is a myth. Research shows your abs have a muscle fiber composition that's not really much different from the rest of your body, so you strengthen them the same way: against heavy (for you) resistance, and with plenty of recovery time in between workouts.
I can see this making sense for something like abs, where you don't want gigantic bulging abdominal muscles, just hard, toned, strong muscles.
Muscles can get bigger and stronger, or they can get smaller and weaker. There's no particular style of workout that will change how "hard" they are, and "toned" is not a characteristic of a muscle (there is a medical meaning behind "muscle tone," but it's not the meaning they are trying to suggest in fitness commercials). Sometimes people seem to use it as a synonym for "lean." Why not just say "lean?"

I should also add that the people who are fretting about developing "bulky" abs are precisely the people who could probably never develop bulky abs even if they wanted to. There are very few people in this world who've added so much as an inch to their belt size just from bulging abdominal muscles.

Question 3: What's the story on always doing low-weight, high-reps for certain muscle groups?
I guess "high" is a relative term, but most people would agree that anything much more than 20 reps is a significant departure from the workout that will stimulate your muscles optimally. Some people think that doing 100 reps with a certain muscle will cause the fat in that area to go away. This is called the "spot reduction myth" and it's quite wrong. Some people don't want to gain muscle, they just want an aerobic workout. Well, fine - if you don't want to gain muscle, don't use weights at all. You can stay home, do jumping jacks, and save some time and money in the process.

I like snacks
[ Parent ]
Red v. White Muscle Tissue (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by curunir on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 02:05:52 PM EST

Muscles can get bigger and stronger, or they can get smaller and weaker. There's no particular style of workout that will change how "hard" they are.

That's not exactly true. The body has the ability to create two distinctly different types of muscle tissue...red and white.

Red muscle is so named because it requires blood be pumped in by the heart in order to function properly. Red muscle tends to be smaller and able to sustain activity for long periods of time. It does not tend to get sore since the nearly constant flow of oxygenated blood prevents the build-up of lactic acid.

White muscle does not require much blood in order to function. It is capable of much more strenuous exercise, but only for brief periods. White muscle is much more prone to the build-up of lactic acid, so it tends to be much more sore after exercising.

Our bodies naturally develop a combination of the two types of muscles, but the proportions depend on the types of exercises that we do. For example, a marathon runner will have more red muscle in his/her legs since they need to be able to exert themselves for long periods of time. OTOH, Sprinters will have much higher concentrations of white muscles since they generally exert themselves for a minute or less, then rest. Look at the difference in the size of the quadricepts of a distance runner compared to a sprinter and it will be quite aparent what I'm talking about.

Another example of this is to look at the difference between ducks and chickens. A duck's breasts are dark meat and a chicken's are white. The difference is, of course, that ducks fly causing them to exercise their breast muscle for extended periods of time.

So, I think the parent of your post was looking for exercises that would build a balanced amount of red and white muscle. The exercises proposed here seem to be geared toward building mostly white muscle tissue (i.e. bulking up).

[ Parent ]
Pavel Tsatsouline (2.00 / 2) (#44)
by synder on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 09:03:01 AM EST

Pavel Tsatsouline has a good book concerning gaining muscle density and increasing your minds ability to exert more force. His book is "Power to the People!" and is published by Dragon Door.

[ Parent ]
answers? (none / 0) (#53)
by mpalczew on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 03:05:49 PM EST

Question 1: Any advice? Know anyone who uses a workout like yours to get better at another activity, like martial arts?

I believe you want to remain light and get strong.
For upper body I would recomend dips, pushups, pullups.  
For lower body I would recomend running stairs.
It is really hard to exercise the lower body in this way.  You end up exercising cardiovascularly because leg muscles are rather big.  You can also do squats without weight, many sets keeping your back straight, knees out and going as low as possible.
For middle body I would recomend diffrent kinds of situps and crunches.  Some of them are hard to describe, so if you want email me and I will email you scans of pictures, also I can explain these excercises better.
Do reps of twenty for three sets on each excercise, you may have to start out with less, and possibly increase to even more.  This is what I did while wrestling and maintaining my weight.

Question 2: Ever heard this? Know any counter-arguments? Or is it just best to do both compound exercises and isolation exercises?

It's not likely that the weak muscle will get helped.  What's more likely is that the week muscle will hold back the stronger muscles. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link.  Think of your muscles as a chain. When lifting something with the chain it is the weakest link that will get the best workout.  This is speaking from 8 years of weightlifting experience.(My chest is weaker than my triceps when bench pressing).  My chest is fully sore when I'm done, but I need to do another exercise to isolate the tricep if I want to give it a good workout.

Question 3: What's the story on always doing low-weight, high-reps for certain muscle groups?

Bodybuilders like to have Huge muscles and slender weights so they can have the upside down pyramid look.  They don't want to bulk up their stomach. Few people want to bulk up their stomach.  Lower back, calves and stomach can be worked out with heavy resistance excercises, it's just not usually done(and if you don't know what you are doing can be dangerous for your lower back).
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]

More advice (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by LordSlasher on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 10:55:40 AM EST

Things I wish I knew when I started out:

Success is 50% diet and rest, and 50% lifting.


If you aren't prepared to eat somewhat healthy, or get enough sleep, forget about getting fit, or getting huge for that matter. Milk is a cheap source to proteins, as is tuna and oatmeal.

A blender is invaluable:

1 banana
1 egg
Some whey protein powder
16 oz milk
Add ice cream if I'm bulking.

Mixing and drinking takes 5 minutes.

Forget supplements. I have tried Tribex, 19-NorAndro, and Glutamin. None made any difference.
What works is whey protein, and possibly creatine. Buy brand names.

Forget weight gainers, they are just full of sugar. You are better off mixing down fresh fruits in your gainer. Much healthier.



The body releases its growth hormones during sleep. If you don't sleep at least 7 hours, you won't grow.
Enough said.


As the article suggests: Squat, Deadlift, and Bench press. Free weights in general.

You want to work as much muscle as possible in as short time as possible. The more muscles you hit, the more growth hormone will be released in the body, and the more you will grow. That is why even though you want huge arms and gorilla chest, you need to hit the legs and the back also, all big muscles there.

Newbies only hit upper body and arms, and will wait forever for results.

Never work out more than one hour. After that your body will eat muscle for energy.

Never work out a particular muscle more often than every other day. They need rest to rebuild.

Get something with carbs and protein as soon as possible after you have lifted.

Vary your repetitions. One day do 15 of everything, another day do 5. Occasionally take a week off to rest.

Lifting tears down muscle, rests rebuilds it. You need to shock the body constantly by changing the rules, so that it will try to adapt by adding muscle. If you do the same thing all the time, the body won't need to adapt, and thus it will not grow.

Good ways of changing the rules is to vary repetitions, add more weights, and use different exercises.

In the beginning you won't see much visual results. You might loose weight, but not add much muscle. This is because the cheapest way for the body to become stronger is to refine the nerves first. When it can't refine the nerves much more, it will start to grow muscle.


Go to http://groups.google.com and look in forums: alt.sport.weightlifting and misc.fitness.weights, there you will find all the resources you need to be successful, and answers to all your questions.

Milk (none / 0) (#50)
by pexatus on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 12:27:41 PM EST

Everyone keeps telling me that milk is not a good source for protein. None of them have a good reason. Whether it's because it doesn't have all the essential amino acids or has them in the wrong ratios, I don't know. Maybe everyone I know (and the few people on this site who told me the same thing) are just full of shit.

Personally, I don't see how skim milk is bad for you. 80 calories per cup, no saturated fat, calcium, vitamins A and D, some protein, even if it's not as effective as getting it from meat. There's some people out there, though, who trip over themselves to avoid milk. Maybe they know some secret we don't.

I haven't ever found oatmeal that had more protein than most other foods like cereal, vegetables, fruit, or cheese. Maybe it has some, but it also has way more calories per gram of protein than meat, milk, or cottage cheese, which are my main protein sources.

[ Parent ]

Milk (none / 0) (#67)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Jul 19, 2002 at 08:05:15 AM EST

You have to drink a shitload of milk if you're planning to make it your primary source of protein, milk being 5% protein at most.

[ Parent ]
Here's what I do (none / 0) (#49)
by mpalczew on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 12:00:21 PM EST

Having lifted weights for 8 years now, Here is what I do.  This may or may not work for you, but in my experience, I have had alot of gains.  I have mainly been building for bulk.

I like to do the opposite of what the poster of this article does.  He likes to start out light and then go heavy.  This doesn't work to well if you are training for bulk, since really only the heavy set is doing anything for you.

Always warm up.  Warm up with a very light weight and perhaps again with a heavier weight.  Make sure you can feel your muscles going through the motion of the exercise, and feel them getting loose.  

After your warm up, start at your heaviest weight doing 6-14 reps(depending on weather you want strength or muscle endurance).  You should have a goal in mind of how many reps you want to do, and your weight should allow you to do them all or come close.  If you did all your reps, keep the weight the same for the next set.  If you didn't drop your weight by a step.  A step can be anything you want it to be, somewhere between (2.5-10lb). For bench press in the 210lb range I use 10lb steps, for curls in the 100lb range I use 5lb steps.  If you did all your reps on the second step you should consider starting one step higher the next time you lift weights.  Do as many sets as you feel the endurance for, losing weight as you get tired, I recomend (2-5).  I usually do 3.  I don't count warmup sets as sets.

This allows you to keep track of your progress very easily and cleanly here is an example, with
5lb steps and 8 reps.

              day 1         day 2        day 3
         weight  reps  weight  reps  weight  reps
set 1        90     7     90      8      90     8
set 2        85     8     90      6      90     8
set 3        85     6     85      8      90     5

This person is making rapid progress, In whatever exercise they are doing.  On day 4 they should start with 95 lbs.  

This is my advice, speaking from experience.  Your mileage may very,  but I feel you really get the most out of your exercise doing it this way.

Something that is often overlooked while lifting is proper breathing.  You should exhale during the positive motion and inhale during the negative motion.  Perhaps the best way to do this is to yell at your weight.  For example, when bench pressing, start yelling when the bar is right at your chest.  Continue untill the bar is at the top.  You may take a couple breaths between reps in the case of a very hard set.  Inhale on your way down.  The yell that you do should be a very primal grunt like yell from the very depths of your lungs, with all of your hatred for the weight(or anything else) expressed in that yell.  It may sound silly, but trust me it works, you will be able to lift more weight and thus make more progress.

Finally, let me reiterate safety.  If you feel any sort of pain(not discomfort).  Stop lifting immedietly(mid set, mid rep, whatever, your spotter will help).  Weight until the pain is completly gone before lifting again, no exceptions.  The only times I have ever hurt my self is lifting while feeling pain.  If you stop lifting because you feel pain, you will very likely have prevent an injury.
-- Death to all Fanatics!

Confusing terminology (none / 0) (#57)
by der on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 03:44:08 PM EST

Some people advocate the pyramid method, where you increase the weight, then decrease it [...]

The "Pyramid Principle" refers to what you advocate; increasing weight as you decrease reps. I've never heard it refer to increasing weight and then decreasing weight on later sets, these are usually called "drop sets".

Peruse Google for verification.

Just clearing it up for the newbies so they don't get confused.

it's nowhere near that difficult (none / 0) (#68)
by Mclaren on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 12:43:30 AM EST

When i first started lifting weights, i was a junior in high school, and i started in February. I bought a cheap bench press from a friend of mine, and that's all i had (aside from a few dumbbells). I started out benching about 100 lbs. as my max. By June i was doing 220 pounds as a max. all i had was a $50 bench press, and a few weights. Trust me, you do not need an expensive gym and state of the art equipment. I lifted in my basement, every other day, for 30 minutes, and i made huge progrss.

supplements (none / 0) (#69)
by signal15 on Tue Jul 23, 2002 at 02:06:21 AM EST

I want to mention a couple of things about supplements...  About 6 years ago, I weighed 135lbs, and at 5'10' that's kind of skinny.  I started lifting, and after 6 months, I still weighed 135lbs.  I had virtually no fat on me to begin with, and I wasn't really getting much stronger.  A guy I worked with was on the U of MN football team and suggested I try Creatine.  So, since this guy was huge, I took his advice and tried it.  I gained 10 pounds the first week I was on it, and after two weeks, I could bench 185 up from around 140.  Supposedly, creatine is supposed to turn your ADP back into ATP since it carries an extra phosphate ion which bonds to the ADP.  Also, it makes you retain water, and gives you a "pump" that lasts longer after your workout.  It makes your muscles hold water after your workout supposedly keeping more nutrients in them which makes them recover faster.  The reason I use "supposedly" a lot is because there is a lot of controvery about how creatine really works.  In any case, creatine works great for me, I was unable to gain any muscle until I started taking it.  If you do decide to try it, it's a good idea to take it with something high in Dextrose, like grape juice, or a premixed creating powder that already has it.  The dextrose spikes your insulin level and makes your body able to absorb more of it.  Creatine doesn't work for everyone, and some people get an upset stomach from it.  

After a couple of months, I realized that I wasn't getting enough protein.  I started taking protein supplements.  Ion-exchange whey protein is the highest quality stuff on the market, and absorbs up to 90% better than regular whey protein concentrate.  It costs more, but less of it goes to waste, it's worth the money.  I've tried a lot of different brands, but the one I like best is Isopure.  It's the only one I've been able to find that is 100% ion-exchange, and you can mix the stuff with a spoon.  All others I've tried required a blender or several minutes of shaking.  Never take protein supplements before or during your workout.  It raises the levels of ammonia in your bloodstream, and instead of growing back strong healthy muscle after a workout, you can get scar tissue instead.  To figure out how much protein you need in a day to be gaining muscle, divide your weight by 1.5, and that's the number of grams you should be getting.  Ideally you should get this from food, but supplement if you need it.

After about 2 years of taking Creatine and protein, I went from 135lbs to 180lbs.  My bench press went from around 140lbs to 310.  I still take protein powder everyday to maintain the muscle I do have, and I cycle on and off of creatine as it seems to lose its effectiveness after awhile.  My weight has been 180 for the past 4 years, fluctuating by about 10 pounds either way.  I lose weight if I don't go to the gym, kinda the opposite of most people.  

You don't need to spend hours in the gym either.  I spend at max an hour at a time.  I used to go almost every day, but lately I've only been going 3 times a week or so.  And get your ass on a treadmill or an eliptical machine.  You need the cardiac workout also.  I started a few months ago doing this and I feel much more energetic throughout the day, and it's easier for me to get up in the morning.  Plus, having strong cardio better helps you deal with your lifting.  You won't get out of breath as easily, and you won't get tired as fast.

Nutrition is a huge part of getting in shape, probably 90%.  If you don't provide the protein your body needs to build muscle you're not going to accomplish much except tiring yourself out.  And if you're trying to lose weight, you still need to build muscle.  The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism gets, the fatter you get, the less muscle you'll have, it's a downward spiral.  By gaining muscle, you raise your metabolism and you burn more calories just sitting there in front of your computer.

Stay away from supplements that say they increase your energy, etc.  Most contain Ephedrine (also listed as Ma Huang extract).  Ephedrine has been linked to sudden cardiac arrest is otherwise healthy weightlifters.  Obviously you still need food, but supplements are a good way to get things that you wouldn't otherwise get if you were eating healthy.  To get 5 grams of creatine from normal food, which is the typical dose, you'd need to eat 50lbs of raw red meat.  And getting 120 grams of protein from food may also come with an undesirable amount of calories.

Equipment (none / 0) (#70)
by Hyler on Thu Jul 25, 2002 at 10:11:10 AM EST

You say "You do not need gloves, anything with straps or hooks for grip support, or a weight belt.

Well, you don't need weights either, just go out in the woods and hurl logs and rocks around. Joking aside, I experienced mild pain and cramps in my lower arms after weightlifting, until I started using gloves. When I started using gloves, I didn't have to grip so tight.

Deadlift stance? (none / 0) (#72)
by Bouquet on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 02:00:51 AM EST

You state that for deadlifts one should stand "with your shins about 3 or 4 inches away from the bar". I used to position myself like this (after reading an article on the net, possibly this one), but I suffered a great deal of back pain, mostly of the delayed variety. Now I stand as close to the bar as possible, so that the bar just clears my knees. Less leverage on the back, and much less pain. This is with wide-grip deadlifts rather than sumo by the way.

How to Start Lifting Weights, Part 2 | 72 comments (61 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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