Skip

Fuckaround-itis
December 4, 2011 8:02 PM   Subscribe


 
Well that made me never want to go to the gym again.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:10 PM on December 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

Dear Martin,

You look like Dr. Zoidberg in an undercooked pastry crust. Put a shirt on and save that pose for putting in hard work on the can at home.

Sincerely,

The Internet
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:14 PM on December 4, 2011 [61 favorites]


If doing things his way means I have to look like him, then I'll pass, thanks. If that means he thinks I'm lazy, well then, I guess we're even.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:15 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rickard Nikoley is one of those I saved from fuckarounditis. Before I intervened, Richard was flopping around like a monkey in the gym. Nothing good came from that. There's nothing primal or Paleo about being weak. I cured him with squats, bench presses, deadlifts and proper rest periods. That way he could put up the effort when it counted.

Christ, man, just shut the hell up already, go eat a Snickers or something. Seriously, you're an asshole.
posted by tantrumthecat at 8:16 PM on December 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


I think if working out at a gym is a means to an end, this isn't bad advice, but man, that ain't me.
posted by alex_skazat at 8:17 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know what that post is trying to say but holy shit he's proud of looking like this
posted by theodolite at 8:17 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's like the goatse of chests
posted by theodolite at 8:19 PM on December 4, 2011 [71 favorites]


A certain New Yorker cartoon caption comes to mind.
posted by ook at 8:19 PM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


wow i

what
posted by beefetish at 8:20 PM on December 4, 2011


So this is what the author looks like:

(see exhibit #4)


and his caption: I snapped this yesterday and stay in this condition all year round.


Go ahead and follow his advice, I guess, I don't know, if you want to look like something in the Body Worlds exhibits.

I just go the gym now and then and try to get stronger, but, at 59, I ain't gonna look like him or match the stats he presented. However, I lost my beer belly and twenty pounds and my muscles are stronger and my cardiovascular fitness is much better (measurably, due to the simple technology in the heart-rate monitor on the stationary bikes).

Perhaps younger males with different goals feel differently about going to the gym. For me, it is better than sitting around, anyway, despite my ignorance and lack of a personal trainer.
posted by kozad at 8:20 PM on December 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow, you guys are harsh. You may not like the way he looks, but he's proud of his body. There is definitely a subculture of dudes who would like to look like that. Those are the people he is advising. You don't want to look like that. Great. He doesn't want to look like you either.

The other day I told my husband that every second I spend in the gym I am thinking "If there is a hell, I know what it's like." I exercise because my family has heart problems and I want to be healthy as long as I can. I don't think this article was written for me.
posted by troublesome at 8:23 PM on December 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


He lets the cat out of the bag half way down the page:
You're not using enough drugs to ever come close to looking muscle bound.
posted by wilful at 8:23 PM on December 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is it possible to care deeply about and be deeply interested in something without turning into a snobby jerk about it? Like, why go through life thinking scornfully of all those people who don't weightlift seriously? And do you ever stop, that is do you think that your mom would be a better person if she could press 1.2 times her weight with no straps or whatever accoutrement one uses?

As far as how the dude looks, I think extreme self-fashioning is kind of cool - he looks really freaky, and I support people looking really freaky, but not especially because muscular freaky is any better than pudgy freaky.
posted by Frowner at 8:26 PM on December 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wow, you guys are harsh. You may not like the way he looks, but he's proud of his body. There is definitely a subculture of dudes who would like to look like that. Those are the people he is advising. You don't want to look like that. Great. He doesn't want to look like you either.

He can be as proud of his body as he wants, and I recognize that.

It's the self-righteous tone that make me want to reach through my screen and slap him.
posted by tantrumthecat at 8:27 PM on December 4, 2011


I found the guy offensive yet often hilarious. Being female, I definitely don't want to look like him, and I told my husband I am not hoping he will go that route, but I do like the idea of just a few basic training exercises that can be ramped up systematically in pounds and reps, and he has a lot of interesting nutritional info as well. I've always lifted heavy stuff, kind of an honorary guy in various situations.
posted by Listener at 8:28 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, the parallel to the fussy-routines-with-too-much-wacky-theory that he's complaining about is oversimplified-routines-ideologized-as-macho-common-sense. Surprisingly enough, the universe seems no more amenable to single-etiology when it's "common sense" than when it's "this secret supplement will give you eternal youth" or whatever.
posted by Frowner at 8:28 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


tee hee hee
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:29 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


FTA: Your gut is best lost with a good diet, not "fat burning workouts"/tons of cardio/pump'n'tone crapola. All those will do is leave you under-muscled, weak and with a severe case of fuckarounditis.

Is this true? I actually *like* to run; I try to make 3 miles a day on average, at a 7 minute pace. Sometimes I do intervals, sometimes I do longer runs. Is that really hampering my gym training (squats/bench/row/overhead/deadlift/pullups)? That's news to me.
posted by polymodus at 8:30 PM on December 4, 2011


Your gut is best lost with a good diet, not "fat burning workouts"/

Try being female for a year. You'll change your mind on that.
posted by Malice at 8:33 PM on December 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Can we make a new rule that you're no longer allowed to post those before/after transformation photos/videos if you also went through puberty during that time?

(On preview: "But, why male models?")
posted by schmod at 8:34 PM on December 4, 2011


Jesus christ look at those veins. Has he been lifting with his circulatory system?
posted by griphus at 8:35 PM on December 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


If I want someone on the web to yell at me about weight training, I'll stick to Stumptuous.
posted by pernoctalian at 8:35 PM on December 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


His shirtless torso looks like Homer Simpson.

I think the "using enough drugs" comment refers specifically to women not wanting to lift heavy weights for fear of becoming too thick and muscular, which is highly unlikely to occur naturally unless they produce abnormal amounts of testosterone.

I imagine his philosophy works for him, and he does bring up some good points. He's just one of those people I don't want around me when I am working out. I already feel self conscious enough when I go to the gym - and his tone makes me feel judged rather than motivated.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:35 PM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


kozad: However, I lost my beer belly and twenty pounds and my muscles are stronger and my cardiovascular fitness is much better (measurably, due to the simple technology in the heart-rate monitor on the stationary bikes).

That's what I'd like to happen. Hell, I'd be happy with five pounds. I was never going to look like this dude even when I was in an obsessive free-weight period in my twenties. Partly because muscle-bound dudes like this guy were always hogging the apparatus and glowering at microbes like me. But mostly because I don't have that kind of metabolism.

troublesome: There is definitely a subculture of dudes who would like to look like that. Those are the people he is advising.

No, they're not. The subculture of dudes that want to look like that don't need to read this because they already know this secret wisdom and are applying it and not "fucking around." He's clearly talking to the blind pathetic fools who waste their time at the gym not following the secret wisdom.
posted by blucevalo at 8:36 PM on December 4, 2011


This guy also suffers from, "It's works for ME, so it must work for everyone.", syndrome.




Cause the guy has genetics working for him.



There I said it.
posted by alex_skazat at 8:37 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I first started reading this I thought it was going to be about the different people at the gym that do nothing to add to the environment. I'm talking about the guy who just seems to be wandering around without actually exercising. Or the guy that spends more time setting up the weights and sweating all over the place than actually lifting. Or the guy that sits on the equipment while checking his cell phone.

And as I brace myself for the deluge of newbie gym rats on January 1, please don't be one of those people. Please.
posted by quadog at 8:41 PM on December 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


"Cause the guy has genetics working for him."

Oh, fucking please.
posted by Evernix at 8:45 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


a severe case of fuckarounditis ....

I prefer to call it "being a flâneur", but, yes, what about it?
posted by benito.strauss at 8:47 PM on December 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


I am not surprised by Metafilter's reaction to this guy at all. Normally people here don't mind a good "tough love" type of essay, but I guess when it's coming from a guy who hits the terrifying "jock vs. nerd" internal buttons it's anathema. For what it is worth, Martin Berkhan is one of the most nerdy and respected diet people around these days. The tone of his article is aimed at the guys and girls who are actively looking for specific strength/fitness/physique changes but do not remain on a program long enough to see changes. This is a surprising number of people.

-----------------

Is this true? I actually *like* to run; I try to make 3 miles a day on average, at a 7 minute pace. Sometimes I do intervals, sometimes I do longer runs. Is that really hampering my gym training (squats/bench/row/overhead/deadlift/pullups)? That's news to me.

Yes, it will. The energy you spend on cardio will necessarily affect your body's ability to produce the muscular development necessary for maximum strength gains. That doesn't mean you should stop doing it if you enjoy it, but it will affect it. You can minimize the effect by separating your workouts, or doing your running after your lifting.

Your gut is best lost with a good diet, not "fat burning workouts"/

Try being female for a year. You'll change your mind on that.
posted by Malice at 11:33 PM on December 4 [+] [!]


Actually, you would be wrong. I am female and a trainer. Me, my clients, and all of the other females I know have the best fat burning and appearance results when they emphasize weight training and diet over cardio. There is nothing magical about being female that requires "fat burning workouts" (a misnomer in of themselves--there is no such thing, the calories you burn are calories, not from any specific bodily issue), being female just makes losing fat and building muscle harder.

----------------------

Partly because muscle-bound dudes like this guy were always hogging the apparatus and glowering at microbes like me. But mostly because I don't have that kind of metabolism.

I feel like the main issue of people with this article is not with the content but with fears like this--that somehow this guy is a "muscle-bound dude glowering at microbes." I think part of the reason is also your confusion that it is necessary to use "apparatus" or drugs to look like him--which is also not the case.

Maybe not everyone here can look like that guy (I sure can't) but everyone here can get a lot closer than they think. I think people tend to get hung up on "It's my metabolism" or "I'm too old" or "My gender" when seriously, those are just reasons to not celebrate your body and the amazing things it can do by challenging it and feeding it properly.


-------------------------

Listener, you are encountering Metafilter's opinion of lifting. Yeah. It's awesome.
posted by schroedinger at 8:48 PM on December 4, 2011 [59 favorites]


And as I brace myself for the deluge of newbie gym rats on January 1, please don't be one of those people. Please.

Those people subsidize your gym membership by paying for a whole year.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 8:49 PM on December 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


Oh come on, people. His tone is like that of a high school gym instructor getting kids to climb up the rope, but a lot of what he says makes sense and the tone is designed to snap people from what they're doing wrong. Definitely getting a vibe of "wounded nerd vs. commanding meathead" from this thread.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:51 PM on December 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


The subculture of dudes that want to look like that don't need to read this because they already know this secret wisdom and are applying it and not "fucking around." He's clearly talking to the blind pathetic fools who waste their time at the gym not following the secret wisdom.

Also: Since when did advocating for having goals and a program that focused on achieving those goals turn into arrogance and calling other people blind pathetic fools? If someone on Ask Metafilter said "Hey guys, my goal is to get my bachelor's but I don't know in what so I've been switching my major every 8 weeks and taking classes in everything, what should I try next" would everyone say "Hey, keep trying shit, you'll get there eventually!" Or would they say "Perhaps it's time for you to chill out and figure out what you want, then focus on that for a little bit"?

How is fitness different?
posted by schroedinger at 8:51 PM on December 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm actually really grateful to people here for posting this kind of stuff, because I had seriously considered getting into real weightlifting, and it's made me realize that the whole culture is waaaay too close to eating-disorder-think to be safe for me. So now I'm sticking with Pilates.
posted by craichead at 8:52 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do people care what other people are doing in the gym if they're not impeding them and they're happy? It's like swimming in the fast lane of a pool and thinking about what lazy gits those in the slow lane are. If someone doesn't want to bench press 100 pounds or do squats why is that an issue, unless they coming up to and shrieking about it to you?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:52 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


God, I zoned out halfway in.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:56 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Listener, you are encountering Metafilter's opinion of lifting. Yeah. It's awesome.

With respect, and as someone who loves weightlifting, I think this is more Metafilter's opinion of really annoying articles.

This guy may know what he's talking about but he's definitely got a severe case of douchebagitis.

I am curious though. He's says at one point that you should be doing the exact same exercises every week, down to the order that you do them in. Is this something people do? I always thought that variety was key and I find I plateau if I don't mix up my workouts.
posted by auto-correct at 8:57 PM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


If someone on Ask Metafilter said "Hey guys, my goal is to get my bachelor's but I don't know in what so I've been switching my major every 8 weeks and taking classes in everything, what should I try next" would everyone say "Hey, keep trying shit, you'll get there eventually!" Or would they say "Perhaps it's time for you to chill out and figure out what you want, then focus on that for a little bit"?
I think it's more like if someone said "hey, I'd like to get my bachelors in this!" and I said "you are a weak and pathetic person for only wanting a bachelors and not a PhD. Every time I see you in the library, studying for your pathetic little bachelors, I am repulsed that you are satisfied with anything less than a doctorate. You are lazy scum, but if you shut up and obey me, I can cure you of your silly delusions of adequacy and teach you to aspire to a real goal."

And that would be dumb, because there's no good reason that everyone should aspire to a PhD just because I want one.
posted by craichead at 8:57 PM on December 4, 2011 [23 favorites]


Why do people care what other people are doing in the gym if they're not impeding them and they're happy?

He's not talking about people who are happy. He's talking about people who can't meet their goals and can't figure out why. And he's a trainer, so he sees more of those people than the usual.

Schroedinger's totally right - this is a really spot-on article with a snarky tone, that is not at all out of line with what Metafilter usually absorbs without comment. The point is really that there's a ton of conflicting information, misinformation, and active disinformation (mostly peddled by magazines that need to sell their readers a different circuit every month) and the only way to make progress towards advanced strength goals is to strip your routine down and seriously prioritize.

I am curious though. He's says at one point that you should be doing the exact same exercises every week, down to the order that you do them in. Is this something people do?

Yeah, more or less. I have been running a pretty basic powerlifting routine all year. I've changed up some of the assistance exercises a little as it became clear that I had some strength imbalances, but I do squats, deads, press, bench, pullups, and dips every week with a planned rep/load strategy. I suppose it'd be boring if it didn't work so damned well - and it takes 20-30 minutes three days a week.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:01 PM on December 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


I have no doubt he's very good at what he does. He just sounds like the reason I work out at 1 AM.

Jocks vs Nerds is a thing. I like to exercise. I enjoy weight training (well, not "enjoy," but...) This seems to be written by the guy who's wondering why this fat bitch is even here taking up precious space and air in HIS gym.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:02 PM on December 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I am not surprised by Metafilter's reaction to this guy at all. Normally people here don't mind a good "tough love" type of essay, but I guess when it's coming from a guy who hits the terrifying "jock vs. nerd" internal buttons it's anathema.

Bingo... if this were about running most mefites would be all over it. The hilarious thing is that this guy is pretty much right fucking on, especially this -- Squats and deadlifts are undisputably the two best full body movements in the god damn Universe and that's reason enough to be doing them. I was also especially pleased to see him address women, since so many of these articles forget we exist.

And no, he's not just talking about people who want to look like him, people who have his metabolism, people who are on steroids blah blah etc. Do all (or even most) people who follow "two years of consistent training on a decent routine" want to look like him? Are they all on steroids or gifted with magical metabolisms? No? Well, then. His "freaky" look is also more due to diet (very low fat percentage) than lifting, so the comments about not taking his advice lest you "look like that" are pretty ridiculous.
posted by vorfeed at 9:05 PM on December 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


But he's giving out good advice for people to help themselves! Sometimes you need to snap people out of their own little reverie so they'll realize what they're doing is inefficient and can be improved upon!

And he's doing that by writing about it on a blog, not shoving it in front of them at the gym. It's an article. If anything, by attacking the tone and not the points, it comes off looking as defensive and self-righteous. And projecting.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:05 PM on December 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think he's pretty funny. And so right with this:

Women, you need to put down those pink dumbbells, throw that Shape Magazine in the trash can and stop with this nonsense. You seem to believe that the modest amount of strain will cause you to wake up looking like a bodybuilder in the morning. Horseshit. You're not using enough drugs to ever come close to looking muscle bound. With the training intensity I see most women apply in the gym, they might as well skip weight training altogether and stay on the treadmill.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:07 PM on December 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't work out, so I have limbs that look like Gumby's. I don't think I could bench press the juice out of a grapefruit or sprint all the way to the end of my block. But I can do 20 chinups without any real effort. Am I fit?

Also (and this is kind of off-topic): I want to invent exercise machines that call you on the phone when they haven't been used. They'd use a sexy female voice of course. Imagine your exercise bike calling you while your watching TC and saying, "Dave, I'm so lonely. Will you please come home and ride me?" It would vibrate and glow gently, beckoning you. If you ignore it for too long, it would start verbally abusing you. "HEY DAVE! GET OFF YOUR FAT SORRY ASS AND GO WORK OUT!" In dire circumstances it would call your family and friends to complain.
posted by miyabo at 9:08 PM on December 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Question: is it normal for squats and deadlifts to give you a damn sore spine afterwards? I know they're supposed to be the best two exercises, but I'm really worried about putting my back out.
posted by moorooka at 9:11 PM on December 4, 2011


"I See Weak People"

In my dreams? No. In gyms? Yes. Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're weak.


Seriously? We're really rising to the defense of someone who sounds like he wants to make the trains run on time? Horror at physical weakness is actually, literally a fascist trope - it's not "snarkiness", it's messed-up-in-the-head-ness. I mean, that sentence is so creepy. If I trotted out something like that about seeing people who were inadequate because they weren't vegans, or weren't anarchists, or drove instead of biking...let's try to envision the exploded heads. Really, seriously, the dude is talking about his dismay at encountering other people who "think they aren't weak", but he can successfully diagnose their weakness, which they ought to be aware of, just by looking at them. When I encounter someone who wants to tell other people that their subjective experience of their lives is based in false consciousness, that's when I...well, metaphorically speaking that's when I reach for my revolver.
posted by Frowner at 9:11 PM on December 4, 2011 [23 favorites]


And yeah, he's specifically addressing people who've spent years doing three different kinds of curls, rolling around in piles of pink five-pound dumbbells, using fifteen different machines every session, "hitting" "abs" eight times a week etc. but still haven't made much self-defined progress. It is really easy to do this, so it's correspondingly hard to overstate the value of keeping it simple and heavy.
posted by vorfeed at 9:12 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Louche mustachio, I really don't get that feeling at all. He's addressing people who want to get bulked and cut but fail. Here's a more reasonably toned article about what the benefit of all this is and that people have different objectives.

I had no idea there would be so much hate for this here on Snarkafilter - I mean snark is not exactly unfamiliar here.

I live in a neighbourhood with lots of seniors. This weekend one of the old women in my building told me she is getting cortisone shots for all the pain and she can't lift her arms over her head. I have seen so much basic weakness in women that seems so unnecessary and is ultimately tragic. I'm talking women over 50 or so. They get a frozen shoulder and sometimes that is the beginning of the end. I have seen this kind of scenario play out with my own mother. I have a hunch some solid strength training is good for women and can avoid a lot of these troubles down the road.
posted by Listener at 9:12 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Question: is it normal for squats and deadlifts to give you a damn sore spine afterwards?

Spine, no. Erectors in your lower back - the muscles, specifically - sure. (Way more for deadlifts than squats, if you're doing them both right.) If you aren't sure which is hurting, you should get someone to check your form and/or make sure you don't have something weird going on with your back.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:14 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am curious though. He's says at one point that you should be doing the exact same exercises every week, down to the order that you do them in. Is this something people do?

My understanding is this is a preference thing, if you're really chasing gains and are already at a decently high level, many people do the same thing as it gives you a mental edge (you get really used to the motion and it becomes a habit and you can focus on lifting as hard as you possibly can). For me, I like to alternate exercises every 8 weeks or so, otherwise I get bored and stop trying as hard. But yeah, when I've got a fair number of classic full body lifts in the routine it works well and is really efficient.

But I don't get on the internet and tell people how they're dumb for all the work they do on decline barbell bench press.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:15 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's not talking about people who are happy. He's talking about people who can't meet their goals and can't figure out why. And he's a trainer, so he sees more of those people than the usual.

Perhaps. But in the gym I used to go to it seemed like there were a lot of people just like this. They actually looked great, I'll give them that, but at least once a week one of them thought it their duty to tell me that I was doing x exercise wrong and I should do it this way. Fair enough - I appreciate advice. But the problem was that everyone of them told me a different way I should be doing this exercise. Me, I just want to go there and work off some stress and not end up having to go a size in clothing. But there seem to be a remarkable number of people who have a problem with that.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:16 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why are people reacting negatively to this article? I can't speak for other, but while what he writes may be useful or true, I'm really hesitant to take advice on changing the shape my body is in from the guy this picture.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:17 PM on December 4, 2011


As with many other articles on Mefi, this guy hits a nerve, also par for the course many of the comments are projecting their own insecurities about the subject into the text.

Which is to say much of the negative comments are probably 50% reaction to what was actually written and 50% the commenter's own defensiveness.
posted by oddman at 9:17 PM on December 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


This isn't even a jock thing for godsakes. I'm jocky, I was on fencing, archery, and tried out for swim three years. I love running. I love weight work, I am so happy that I am getting back to really serious gym work after a year

But every single about this site reminds me why I avoided sports or fitness culture, down to the tone and vocab. I just don't want to be around that mindset and it's stats grinding spreadsheet dorkery bombast. Its like being cornered by a Linux nerd berating you for not running your own box. I am trying to have fun and enjoy myself I do not need you turning everything into a min maxing session.
posted by The Whelk at 9:18 PM on December 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


But there seem to be a remarkable number of people who have a problem with that.

Well, fair enough. The gym is as full of assholes as anywhere. And I have never seen any evidence that Martin Berkhan is not an asshole. Doesn't mean he's not damned good at his job, though.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:19 PM on December 4, 2011


Most of you are missing his point, it seems. Glad to see a couple voices of reason here. If you're in the gym to get stronger or more fit, you should be following his advice. Not because you will look like him - you have to be extremely dedicated to build that much muscle and have so little fat. But because you are wasting your time if you are not doing the most efficient and effective exercises.

Yes, diet is the best way to lose fat. Yes, lifting heavy weights is a good idea for women, and no, you will not gain a ton of muscle mass. His tone is intentionally abrasive, maybe that bothers you, but the essay is full of good advice.
posted by knave at 9:20 PM on December 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


8:03 pm: check out fpp linked material. Hrmph. Go back to empty thread. I am not going to be the first to comment on this sucker.

An hour and sixteen minutes later: 55 comments.

I should have bought stock.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:22 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why are people reacting negatively to this article?

My problem is that he's advocating a) fasting/dieting and b) abstaining from cardio activity as part of your training regimen. It's an interesting idea, but he has to prove, scientifically, that this is both safe and effective. And he hasn't done that.
posted by polymodus at 9:24 PM on December 4, 2011


Oh man first this guy is all over my facebook wall, and now it's on Metafilter? Look, I know he's more reasonable than one might expect, but every single guy (and yeah, they're all guys) that I know who follow his every word twist around into serious douchebagitis. Raw milk and butter, all the time. Vegetarians are sick, weak, sad people, who are pathetic and need a sense of humor/more B-12 shots.

Look, I played rugby for three years; I've run serious races and done very well. My boyfriend thinks lifting kettlebells bigger than I am are fun. I'm not at all against the gym. But I hate-- hate! the tone of every article this guy has written, mainly because his followers tend to get really insulting towards running women wearing pink who are vegetarians (I am all of these things.) Guess what? Running makes me stronger. A definition of "strong" that only includes deadlifting is not one I am obliged to like. I don't lift weights often because I find it insanely boring, so I try to lift as many boxes of books at work as possible.

" But because you are wasting your time if you are not doing the most efficient and effective exercises."

Honestly, this is exactly the attitude I think many of us are reacting to. Some of us may love running! Some of us might like dicking around with the little colorful weights! Maybe some people here think Zumba is the best! It's not a waste of your time, or of his time [unless we're paying clients] so maybe it's okay to not insult other people's hobbies.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:24 PM on December 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


A MeFi comments stock market would be amazing.

People, he's not reading this out on a bullhorn at your local gym. He's just written a strongly-worded article. A lot of his points are actually educational and valid. If it's not what you're into then it's fine. You're not his target audience.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:26 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


But because you are wasting your time if you are not doing the most efficient and effective exercises.
Why? What if my goals aren't just to do the most efficient and effective exercises? What if I also want to have fun or work on my balance and flexibility (both of which are a bit wonky because of random medical issues) or do something that is relaxing and meditative or to do something that feels good to me, personally? I mean, I get that those aren't your goals, but who the hell are you to tell me what my goals should be?

To me, the obsession with "physique" feels really narcissistic and shallow, but I try really hard not to think of it that way, because it's his time and his body and he gets to decide what to do with both of them. But it'd be awesomely cool if the weightlifting brigade would try to extend the same courtesy to the rest of us.
posted by craichead at 9:26 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The "I don't want to look like him" response is weak, though. I'm not going to take advice from a marathon runner -- he's all flesh and bones! I mean: there's a bit of skinny-cook syndrome there (which itself is b.s.), but there's technique and there's result. No one is saying you have to push yourself as hard as him, including him.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:26 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're in the gym to get stronger or more fit, you should be following his advice.

Why should I follow his advice particularly? He offers no credentials or education in his bio and he comes across as unprofessional when he belittles goals different from his own. Should I take his photos as sole proof that he knows what he is talking about?
posted by acheekymonkey at 9:27 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


the essay is full of good advice.

Being right doesn't mean people are going to enjoy being condescended to. I actually flagged the article after I read the intro because I really thought it was a "look at this asshole" post. He was being such a dickhead that Poe's law came to mind. Once I got through the intro and started reading his actual advice I realized that there was substance there, and I'll probably take away some good ideas. But holy shit, what an asshole. If you think MeFites don't do well with weightlisting FPP's, this type of article is the problem not the solution.
posted by auto-correct at 9:27 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The advice, once you get down the page a bit, seems pretty solid. But I bailed early the first time I followed the link because there just wasn't enough room there for both me and his immense self-regard. I only gave him another try after reading the comments from schoedinger and restless_nomad. I've read similar arguments from other people who didn't put my hackles up as he did, and no, it's not because of my own insecurities and defensiveness. I was active on misc.fitness.weights for years, for fuck's sake.

Anyway, re cardio and women: this article by a more mild-mannered writer argues that most women will have a difficult time losing fat from cardio unless they're training at it intensely for several hours a week. He also has a detailed video on the same topic here.
posted by maudlin at 9:27 PM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


People, he's not reading this out on a bullhorn at your local gym. He's just written a strongly-worded article. A lot of his points are actually educational and valid. If it's not what you're into then it's fine. You're not his target audience.

No, you're the object lesson for those people who want to do it "right". I agree with him on a few points and disagree on others, but I have no problem at all understanding why people might take this personally, even if they're not the intended audience. If you already manage to drag yourself to a gym, all self-conscious but trying to do the right thing, only to be told that: yes, the free-weight nazis really do think you're "flopping around like a monkey", well, that's one more piece of de-motivation those people didn't need.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:30 PM on December 4, 2011 [6 favorites]




Anyway, re cardio and women: this article by a more mild-mannered writer argues that most women will have a difficult time losing fat from cardio unless they're training at it intensely for several hours a week.
I'm sort of weirded out by the implication that every woman's workout goal must be to lose fat.
posted by craichead at 9:32 PM on December 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


People don't react well to being patronized or condescended to I don't care how many times you cried at Celes' opera.
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why? What if my goals aren't just to do the most efficient and effective exercises? What if I also want to have fun or work on my balance and flexibility (both of which are a bit wonky because of random medical issues) or do something that is relaxing and meditative or to do something that feels good to me, personally?

Then odds are you aren't reading Leangains for exercise advice. That's totally cool if that's what you're into - it just means you're really, really not the target audience here. He's specifically talking to weightlifters, and even more specifically those concerned with their physique. He's a personal trainer - that's what he does for a living.
"Fuckarounditis is a behavioral disorder characterized by a mediocre physique and complete lack of progress, despite significant amounts of time spent in the gym. "
It's really not useful to read this article as general advice - it's only marginally more helpful in that way as reading an article from a football coach about training fullbacks.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:33 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


My problem is that he's advocating a) fasting/dieting and b) abstaining from cardio activity as part of your training regimen. It's an interesting idea, but he has to prove, scientifically, that this is both safe and effective. And he hasn't done that.
posted by polymodus at 12:24 AM on December 5 [+] [!]


I think if you read the rest of the articles in his website you would find this proof.

You guys realize this is one of MANY MANY MANY articles he has written on the subject of nutrition, diet, and intermittent fasting? That plenty of other articles--which are prominently displayed on his website and blog!--provide scientific background for why he recommends what he recommends?

You all are reacting as if he has personally barged into your gym, knocked you off your elliptical and started screaming in your face, instead of posting an article on his blog addressed to his regular readers.


Horror at physical weakness is actually, literally a fascist trope - it's not "snarkiness", it's messed-up-in-the-head-ness.

Seriously Metafilter. Seriously. Take a step back. When you have compared a fitness article to fascism perhaps it is time to reconsider whether this is about the article or yourself. This is not about Martin Berkhan's ideas and more about how a guy with abs who is talking like a gym class teacher is making you feel.
posted by schroedinger at 9:34 PM on December 4, 2011 [37 favorites]


I'm sort of weirded out by the implication that every woman's workout goal must be to lose fat.

I'm not implying that, craichead, and I don't think that he is either. But if one of your goals is to lose fat, steady-state cardio, for all its other benefits, may not help as much with fat loss as you expect.
posted by maudlin at 9:34 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I need a personal trainer who enjoyed Final Fantasy VIII.

Yeah, I know. That's why I workout at home.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:35 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway, re cardio and women: this article by a more mild-mannered writer argues that most women will have a difficult time losing fat from cardio unless they're training at it intensely for several hours a week.
I'm sort of weirded out by the implication that every woman's workout goal must be to lose fat.


God, this. Thank you.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:36 PM on December 4, 2011


Thanks for piling on, jetlagaddict. Care to read my response above?
posted by maudlin at 9:37 PM on December 4, 2011


Why are people reacting negatively to this article? I can't speak for other, but while what he writes may be useful or true, I'm really hesitant to take advice on changing the shape my body is in from the guy this picture.

Again, the picture has fuck-all to do with what he's saying. He looks that way because he has very low body fat. Is this article about dieting to achieve very low body fat? No? Then maybe you should look at some of the other pictures, like this one or this one or this video.

I get the dislike of the extreme bodybuilding look. I don't like how he looks, either. But conflating it with strength training is exactly the kind of misinformation he's complaining about.
posted by vorfeed at 9:37 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Durn Bronzefist, go find some powerlifters or Olympic weightlifters. Some of the nerdiest guys I know are powerlifters or Olympic lifters. They're all doctors, engineers, and Linux administrators. Spreadsheets and intricate little programs appeals to the numbers types.

Also, I'm 99% sure the "flopping around like a monkey" comment was not directing towards general Joe Schmoe getting started in the lifting room but Crossfitters who, to be fair, do flop around quite a bit.
posted by schroedinger at 9:40 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


In the very article he both mentions that 1) women should not be afraid of looking like men bodybuilders, because it's freaking impossible without steroids, 2) celebrity workouts and fads are stupid, and 3) people should not be motivated by a desire to get big ol' abs to get laid.

For all of his bluster and rhetoric, he's pretty understanding about body images and the necessity of internal motivation.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:44 PM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maudlin-- ouch. Piling on for liking someone's opinion, because it resonated personally with me? Harsh much? I forgot to preview because it's after midnight, my time. I'm not looking to drop fat (been there, done that, lost a fourth of my body weight, not a good plan.) I don't find many of his arguments compelling, honestly, and I kind of hate the "paleo" diet's lack of historical accuracy. That's all. Have a good [time where you are.]
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:46 PM on December 4, 2011


schroedinger: no doubt. There's science and precision to high-end training of any kind. But... what is that in response to? My "free-weight nazis" comment? It wasn't particularly heartfelt (though really, it depends on the gym, and I've pretty much seen the spectrum), but I was also describing how people "not the target audience" are likely to perceive this message.

women should not be afraid of looking like men bodybuilders, because it's freaking impossible without steroids

Standards really vary, though. I've known more than a few women who refuse to do even a moderate amount of weight training because they want, it seems, no muscle tone. I don't get it, but fashion is fashion.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:46 PM on December 4, 2011


With the overweight body policing isn't cool.
But with fit people, El oh El!

I look around my gym and I see a warehouse full of people who do want to look more like him but are just waisting their time doing stupid, ineffective exercises. Those people are his audience though the advice is really more universal than wanting to look like him (seriously, how many fitness AskMes are filled with people telling the asker to do more squats?).
posted by munchingzombie at 9:47 PM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Again, the picture has fuck-all to do with what he's saying.

Seriously, I know next to nothing about bodybuilding. This guy is giving advice about gym workouts, and he puts that picture smack up at the top of the page. I don't know enough to realize that he's not setting that type of physique as a goal.

I really should have looked at the picture, said "not for me", and made no comment. I just thought I'd give some perspective on my negative reaction.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:48 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


schroedinger: no doubt. There's science and precision to high-end training of any kind. But... what is that in response to?

You expressed an interest in a trainer who liked FF7, and I was trying to say there are plenty of trainers and strong people out there who could talk both about video games and training. :)

I don't think he ever expected a population so obviously, radically far outside his target audience to read this article.
posted by schroedinger at 9:51 PM on December 4, 2011


Aaaaaah. Thank you. But no, not FF7. That could conceivably happen. I'm talking about FF8 (and the subset of people who liked it who are also trainers is likely to be zero, when the set of the first group is 1: me).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:54 PM on December 4, 2011



"Cause the guy has genetics working for him."

Oh, fucking please.


Fucking please, what? You honestly think everyone can look like him? 'cause I don't. I can't and I'd consider myself athletic.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:58 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think if you read the rest of the articles in his website you would find this proof.

You guys realize this is one of MANY MANY MANY articles he has written on the subject of nutrition, diet, and intermittent fasting? That plenty of other articles--which are prominently displayed on his website and blog!--provide scientific background for why he recommends what he recommends?


I get that on his blog, but writing a lot is not *proof*. He has two methodological errors:

1) Not applying the scientific method.

2) No peer review.

That is the bar that needs to be set, and he hasn't reached that, not with a blog + book.
posted by polymodus at 10:02 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last (in)famous attempt at resolving the mathematical P = NP conjecture was a failure because the author tried to take it on alone, with little interaction with other experts. It's the same pitfall I'm observing here.
posted by polymodus at 10:04 PM on December 4, 2011


Fucking please, what? You honestly think everyone can look like him? 'cause I don't. I can't and I'd consider myself athletic.

To just chalk it all up to "genetics" completely undermines the years of training and diet refinement it takes to achieve that physique. The majority of the population can achieve a physique like that if they work hard enough. This number certainly far outstrips the number of people who have the willpower and inclination to put in the time and thought it takes to look that way (including me).

That is the bar that needs to be set, and he hasn't reached that, not with a blog + book.

So basically you won't take him seriously as writer until he conducts his own large sample size long-term tests himself? He is not allowed to cite studies?

Please let 99.9% of all coaches, trainers, nutritionists, dieticians, science teachers, engineers, doctors, veterinarians, and all other manner of trained professionals that their advice is not valid because they have not personally conducted any research of their own.
posted by schroedinger at 10:05 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Whole lotta MeFites are still REALLY FUCKING PISSED OFF they got picked last for dodgeball...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:06 PM on December 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


You all are reacting as if he has personally barged into your gym, knocked you off your elliptical and started screaming in your face, instead of posting an article on his blog addressed to his regular readers.

That's one way of describing it. Another way is "someone just posted this article on the metafilter blog, implicitly framing it as something aimed at metafilter readers, and then when people were like 'um no, I disagree with all his goals! I hate that kind of thing! How dare he say I'm wasting my time if I don't do that!' a bunch of weightlifter people were all 'it's not AIMED AT YOU'.

It's true, lots of articles can be interesting for an audience that they are not aimed at, but it helps to get a modicum of framing around them so you go in expecting to be an onlooker and not a target. Especially when the tone of the article is pretty damn confrontational.
posted by jacalata at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


So basically you won't take him seriously as writer until he conducts his own large sample size long-term tests himself?

He doesn't have to do it himself. He needs to change the minds of the other experts.

He is not allowed to cite studies?

This is biology we're talking about here. Citing papers is most definitely not enough.
posted by polymodus at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Remember all those posts about even peer-reviewed medical papers coming up with completely opposite results? It's not hard to imagine that the same sort of validation problems happen in this area.
posted by polymodus at 10:11 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Complete opposite results?
People did what he says and they got fatter and less muscular?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:18 PM on December 4, 2011


Please let 99.9% of all coaches, trainers, nutritionists, dieticians, science teachers, engineers, doctors, veterinarians, and all other manner of trained professionals that their advice is not valid because they have not personally conducted any research of their own.

This is poor comparison. When a trained professional invents a new procedure or technique, it has to be quantitatively verified, with both its safety and effectiveness compared against existing methods, and ultimately helping others understand the proper context of its application. He hasn't done that here.
posted by polymodus at 10:20 PM on December 4, 2011


" But because you are wasting your time if you are not doing the most efficient and effective exercises."

Honestly, this is exactly the attitude I think many of us are reacting to. Some of us may love running!


Dude, if you're having fun, whatever. I'm a runner myself. But you selectively quoted me, and I specifically said if you're trying to get stronger you should be following his advice.
posted by knave at 10:20 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think this is probably pretty good advice all told, but boy am I tired of all the wannabe drill sergeants in the fitness blogosphere. This meme was pretty funny, though.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:20 PM on December 4, 2011


Complete opposite results?
People did what he says and they got fatter and less muscular?


That's irrelevant. He is arguing efficiency. He has to prove efficiency. And clearly he downplays safety, which is really the bigger concern.
posted by polymodus at 10:21 PM on December 4, 2011


The Whelk: "Its like being cornered by a Linux nerd berating you for not running your own box. I am trying to have fun and enjoy myself I do not need you turning everything into a min maxing session."

You should try Ubuntu, it's like the Pilates of Linux.
posted by symbioid at 10:23 PM on December 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


it's like the Pilates of Linux

So it teraflops around like a monkey?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:24 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Alright, now that I got my frustration out with my earlier comment.

There was a general request for peer reviewed articles on fitness. The sporadically updated but excellent blog Evidence Based Fitness should be what you are looking for. Though, what much of what was discussed in the article is discussed there.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:27 PM on December 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: You want that Tyler Durden look.
posted by benzenedream at 10:43 PM on December 4, 2011


Is the author being sarcastic in the part where he says he's a "minimalist", since it is alongside a pic of his mutant-lke chest, with every square inch an intricate wonder of beveled, ridges rippled texture the promise of its strength?
posted by jeremy b at 10:56 PM on December 4, 2011


Five Foot One.
posted by pianomover at 10:58 PM on December 4, 2011


He's a dick, but he's giving the same advice that I've heard in various tones around body building sites that I visited when I first began going to the gym. No, I haven't seen any scientifically reviewed research, but it makes sense and seems to work for many.

I definitely never want to look like that guy, probably something like 1/8th of him would be fine, but I've always assumed that a similar method of weightlifting in simple gross movements would reap that result more quickly than anything else. When I was going to the gym regularly I did see pretty rapid results from doing just that (although I didn't keep it up).
posted by Defenestrator at 11:00 PM on December 4, 2011


I just wonder how many years its been since he could touch his toes? Strength (yes in your core, particularly your back) can also be defined as high flexibility. Look at a young cat, for example. Or say, someone who does pilates for years and can lean over and put their freaking forearms on the floor.
posted by zinful at 11:03 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh silly me. That kind of strength just means they're flopping around like a freak.
posted by zinful at 11:04 PM on December 4, 2011


Metafilter: You want that Tyler Durden look.

Can I just voice my exasperation at lean, chiseled Brad mocking a magazine pic of a very similar cut guy, questioning "Is that what a man looks like?"

I'm aware that this probably feeds into the Norton-as-Durden plotline, but this moment comes before the revelation, so the moment is still a bit rich.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:05 PM on December 4, 2011


I think Tyler Durden would secretly want the Metafilter look if he took sometime for introspection between making soap.
posted by arcticseal at 11:21 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just wonder how many years its been since he could touch his toes? Strength (yes in your core, particularly your back) can also be defined as high flexibility. Look at a young cat, for example. Or say, someone who does pilates for years and can lean over and put their freaking forearms on the floor.

You can't do squats and deadlifts with good form if you are not flexible. For example, I have achieved most of the advanced strength goals. But I was only able to break out of a long, long plateau by stretching my hamstrings, calves, and hips. You have to can't do a full squat if you can't touch your toes.

People generally have very odd perceptions of weight lifters and boy is that coming through in this thread. Weigh lifters are athletes. Yet, I can't think of other athletes suffering from the same amount of misconceptions.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:39 PM on December 4, 2011 [7 favorites]



Whole lotta MeFites are still REALLY FUCKING PISSED OFF they got picked last for dodgeball..

I am.

Know why?

Because it had fuck all to to with my physical ability and everything to do with bullshit social hierarchies.

I was good at dodgeball. I liked activity, and worked well on a team when given the opportunity to do so. I was a rough little tree climbing tomboy and i had pretty good aim.

But I was convinced I had no business doing that sort of thing because .. I don't know. I had cooties?

So yes, I am rather upset that I was chosen last for dodgeball, and about gym teachers that discouraged me and people like me. There is a particular joy that comes from cultivating physical intelligence, and those people took it away from me.

That's why his condecension bothers me. His advice is good, his point is a good one, but the way he presents it is not productive. I understand I am not his target audience, because "this guy is being a prick to me. I will do what he says!" isn't realy how I'm wired. People aren't reacting defensively because they hate the advice - this guy sounds like a bully. When fitness "advice" makes me not want to work out (that was my honest gut reaction up there) is it really any good?


And maybe we aren't the target audience, but this was posted here to bring it to our attention, yes?
posted by louche mustachio at 11:39 PM on December 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


I ran across this video the other day, and wondered if there is maybe some sort of internal reward system that some people have and some people don't. I don't have anything to back up this hypotheses, but I just can't help but feel like there's more to it than just knowledge and willpower.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:43 PM on December 4, 2011


…those people took it away from me.

You're identifying him with people who didn't pick you for dodgeball?

"this guy is being a prick to me. I will do what he says!"

When most people read that article, they don't identify with the target of his condescension: the “fuckaroundits.” They read it and laugh with a vivid image of someone else. In the rare case where someone identifies with the “fuckaroundits”, I think that yes most people are secure enough to prefer facts-in-your-face to limp-wristed ("my experience suggests that better gains are achieved when progress is measurable through repeated…" blah blah who wants to read that?)
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:02 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone please link to the exact scientific papers that support his various claims? I'd love to take a close look at those studies. Medical studies in general tend to be eminently disputable. We still don't know extremely fundamental things about physiology, and when it comes to nutrition and exercise - who exactly, living under which rock, has not noticed that contradictory studies are not the exception, but the rule? What's great advice/food/supplement one week, is the exact opposite the next. And let us not even speak of methodologies in these studies. Uncertainty rules. One day, in the future, we'll have that certainty, but not we don't have it today.

So I'd be delighted to take hammer and tongs to these studies, because I highly doubt that this character has adequate grounds for making sweeping assertions. And once that little facade is demolished, he's just another blowhard.

There's nothing wrong with expressing opinions and providing anecdotes on what worked for him and his clients. It can be interesting, and I for one, am willing to listen. But absent scientific proof about each and every assertion, he'd be well advised to offer his opinions humbly, with plenty of disclaimers, qualifiers and acknowledgments of uncertainty. Instead, he goes the opposite way, which merely invites people to take him down a peg or two - and given the inherent uncertainties and the state of medical science in these areas, it's remarkably easy to do.
posted by VikingSword at 12:10 AM on December 5, 2011


His advice may be good for those who want a muscular physique or single rep strength, but it isn't so good for those are satisfied with modest strength gains, or are working toward endurance, flexibility, or running in a marathon. (Try running a marathon without doing cardio training!)

"But his advice is not meant for these people; Why are people getting defensive?" you might say. You are doing selective reading. Here are the parts you are ignoring:

However, in most commercial gyms, it has been estimated that 90-100% of individuals are afflicted to varying degrees.

"I See Weak People"
In my dreams? No. In gyms? Yes. Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're weak.

You're "training the core"...and it involves a Swiss Ball, Bosu Ball or something else that makes you look like an idiot."

All the time, I see people doing sets of 10-15 reps before they get to something that remotely resembles their real set. "
(Hey, maybe the 10-15 reps IS their real set. Why is he even paying attention to how many reps other people are doing?)

Let's see some fucking effort next time. Don't take up precious space here when you can get a better workout from walking your dog through the park outside.

You're working on your "lagging biceps", but you can't even do 8 chin-ups with good form. First of all, you're weak and fat.


These are the types of comments people are responding to. He is attacking other people in the gym when he should be ignoring them. It is true that most people going to his website are probably interested in strength training and physique and will join him at laughing at the 'fuckaroundits' they see in the gym.

But when you post this to Metafilter, you are extending his audience to many who are not interested in his extreme strength/physique goals and are more likely to identify with the people he criticizes. And we'd like to be able to work at the gym without the thought that these heavy-weight lifters are watching and mocking us.

And heck, even the 60yr old man example billyfleetwood mentioned would be considered a 'fuckaroundits' with his high pushup count. I'm not convinced his way is the only way even if you are foolish enough to think that strength and physique should be your only goals
posted by eye of newt at 12:17 AM on December 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


Is he saying that cardio training is counter-productive (to strength gain) if done in addition to weight training, or only if it is done instead of weight training?
posted by moorooka at 12:20 AM on December 5, 2011


He specifically says that cardio will "will strip off whatever little leg muscle they have faster than Gary Busey can do a gram of coke off his dog Chili's back. It leaves them looking pathetic and weak, and if that sounds good to you then go ahead."
posted by eye of newt at 12:24 AM on December 5, 2011


Seriously Metafilter. Seriously. Take a step back. When you have compared a fitness article to fascism perhaps it is time to reconsider whether this is about the article or yourself. This is not about Martin Berkhan's ideas and more about how a guy with abs who is talking like a gym class teacher is making you feel.

He's actually just quoting The Sixth Sense, anyway. It is indeed very creepy, but that was originally on purpose:
Whispery Kid: I see dead people.
Bruce Willis: In your dreams?
(kid shakes his head)
Bruce Willis: While you're awake?
(kid nods)
Bruce Willis: Dead people like in graves? In coffins?
Whispery Kid: Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead.
I suppose we could take it to the next level and get all outraged that he's comparing us weaklings to ghosts, but really, I don't think he thought it through that far. I think he just remembered a cool scene from a movie and repurposed it without too much thought (because remix culture, that's why).
posted by No-sword at 12:25 AM on December 5, 2011


I fuck around with weights. One to three times a week, since 2008. My body looks better than when I started and I'm stronger than when I started. I'm satisfied with how my body looks and how strong I am. I take other sports more seriously, the ones that I enjoy more.

I wish this fellow wouldn't take my workout situation so personally.

Or, what eye of newt said.
posted by Kwine at 12:26 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Vikingsword, here are some studies he discusses on his site.

eyeofnewt>But when you post this to Metafilter, you are extending his audience to many who are not interested in his extreme strength/physique goals and are more likely to identify with the people he criticizes. And we'd like to be able to work at the gym without the thought that these heavy-weight lifters are watching and mocking us.

So you're saying I shouldn't have posted this because it would hurt people's feelings? Sorry, but I couldn't have imagined that happening here. Your comment really surprises me.
posted by Listener at 12:26 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually I'm not saying you shouldn't have posted. Just that given Martin's way of attacking other people in the gym who aren't exercising the way he thinks they should, you shouldn't be so surprised by the reaction.
posted by eye of newt at 12:36 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe not everyone here can look like that guy (I sure can't) but everyone here can get a lot closer than they think.

See I think that there is indicative of the total disconnect that's causing people to react so strongly to this article. Get closer to looking like that guy? I literally can't imagine why anyone would want to look like that. He looks like a Rob Liefeld drawing. My first instinct was to avert my eyes, cringe, and wonder how much pain that poor deformed man is in.

I acknowledge that this is my personal prejudice, that some people actually want to look like that, and certainly they're free to do so, but I don't understand them at all. And I definitely don't want to take exercise advice from them.
posted by straight at 12:52 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vikingsword, here are some studies he discusses on his site.

I'll take a closer look at these in the coming days. At a quick, cursory glance, I'm supremely unimpressed. Sad trombone. Most of these seem to come with severe limitations - which to be fair, he prominently notes - and more crucially seem not offer good grounds for any kind of translation into strong diet/exercise regimen recommendations. I sincerely hope there's a lot more to this, otherwise this little balloon of claims will end with an embarrassing pop.
posted by VikingSword at 12:54 AM on December 5, 2011


"Fuckarounditis is a behavioral disorder characterized by a mediocre physique and complete lack of progress, despite significant amounts of time spent in the gym.

Interesting, for me, at my gym, fuckarounditis is done mostly by PT's and their charges, and a battalion of meat-heads. It involves:

Doing multiple sets of barbell exercises at the only two squat racks in the gym when dozens of people are waiting.

Taking four minute or more rest breaks between sets when using said racks or the benches, because your reps are so damned heavy, so you're using the equipment for twenty minutes or more.

Staking a claim on said racks and some other random equipment so you can time your exercise just right and superset or what-have-you, then warding off anyone who dares approach the rack when you've been doing push ups for the last ten minutes.

Loading hundreds of kilos onto barbells and then leaving them up there once you're done, or leaving your plates, dumbbells, kettle bells etc strewn around the gym floor like it's frigging lego.

I find the "weaklings" at the gym rarely do any of these activities. Maybe it's a confidence thing, maybe because they don't value their bodies over a bit of common courtesy and they're happy to treat the gym as a community and a communal place. Maybe because they don't despise their fellow gym-goers and are happy to give them some respect.

Strength and Weakness - that's some Frank Miller shit right there, and - PT or no - if you gain satisfaction from looking down at all the people at the gym doing the same thing you're doing (exercising), then I'm really not interest. You have no idea what those people have had to fight to get in there; they could be in physical rehab, they could be scared, they could have a heart condition, they could be anything.

The only thing that bothers me at the gym is shitheads not being nice...
posted by smoke at 12:59 AM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


So you're saying I shouldn't have posted this because it would hurt people's feelings? Sorry, but I couldn't have imagined that happening here.

Well, you did post it with just "How to waste time in the gym, or not" and no other explenation or context provided. Combine that with the douche^wstrong tone of the linked article and it's not surprising you get people riled up.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:06 AM on December 5, 2011


>it's not surprising you get people riled up

It's not surprising to you. It's surprising to me. I don't pretend to understand people. I can't help it. I've tried. It *still* doesn't make sense to me that anyone took it personally. Okay, time to let it go. Some people appreciated it, and I appreciated the comments.
posted by Listener at 1:08 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Question: is it normal for squats and deadlifts to give you a damn sore spine afterwards? I know they're supposed to be the best two exercises, but I'm really worried about putting my back out.

Tired, sore muscles are fine. A sore *spine* means something is wrong. You should get someone experienced to check your form - make sure you're resting the bar on the muscles of your shoulder girdle and not the top of your spine, for example.

With the overweight body policing isn't cool.
But with fit people, El oh El!


This.

I just wonder how many years its been since he could touch his toes?

There are professional bodybuilders who can do that whole freaky ballet-dancer-foot-by-head-thing, but I hear facts fuck you up when you're reaching for some club to beat people with when trapped in the nightmare of your own insecurities.


Horror at physical weakness is actually, literally a fascist trope - it's not "snarkiness", it's messed-up-in-the-head-ness.

People who go to the gym are Nazis. I guess we better tell Socrates.
posted by rodgerd at 2:01 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oftentimes, when a discussion is going bad, one may turn to being bombastic in order to enliven the conversation. Although it would be advised to neither Godwin the thread or make note of the wrong philosopher, but perhaps doing both will return the lulz one is seeking.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:45 AM on December 5, 2011


Fucking please, what? You honestly think everyone can look like him? 'cause I don't. I can't and I'd consider myself athletic.

The argument is the same with obese people; you can't tell, by looks, who is genetically advantaged or not, no matter how much they might look to the contrary.

I am friends with three brothers; one is ripped like this guy (after years of painstaking work in the gym, becoming a trainer and hacking his diet), another is pretty athletic, the other is rotund and overweight. If you apply your theory to him, then the first guy really shouldn't have been able to get to that next level, but he did.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 4:02 AM on December 5, 2011


The tone of the article didn't bother me too much but before anyone follows his advice on barbell squats they should be aware of the serious risk of spinal injury, even when done using "textbook form". I dropped squats from my workout routine after reading about this study (switched to leg presses), and until I hear differently I'm not going back.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 4:50 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone please link to the exact scientific papers that support his various claims?


Nosaka K, Newton M. Repeated Eccentric Exercise Bouts Do Not Exacerbate Muscle Damage and Repair. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Feb;16(1):117-122.

Nosaka K, Newton M. Concentric or eccentric training effect on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Jan;34(1):63-9.

Proske U, Morgan DL. Muscle damage from eccentric exercise: mechanism, mechanical signs, adaptation and clinical applications. J Physiol. 2001 Dec 1;537(Pt 2):333-45.

Nosaka K, Newton M, Sacco P. Responses of human elbow flexor muscles to electrically stimulated forced lengthening exercise. Acta Physiol Scand. 2002 Feb;174(2):137-45.

Allen DG. Eccentric muscle damage: mechanisms of early reduction of force. Acta Physiol Scand. 2001 Mar;171(3):311-9.

Clarkson PM. Eccentric exercise and muscle damage. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Oct;18 Suppl 4:S314-7.

Paddon-Jones D, Abernethy PJ. Acute adaptation to low volume eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jul;33(7):1213-9.

Nosaka K, Sakamoto K, Newton M, Sacco P. How long does the protective effect on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage last? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Sep;33(9):1490-5.

McHugh MP, Connolly DA, Eston RG, Gleim GW. Exercise-induced muscle damage and potential mechanisms for the repeated bout effect. Sports Med. 1999 Mar;27(3):157-70.

Nosaka K, Sakamoto K, Newton M, Sacco P. The repeated bout effect of reduced-load eccentric exercise on elbow flexor muscle damage. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2001 Jul;85(1-2):34-40.

Rennie MJ. How muscles know how to adapt. J Physiol. 2001 Aug 15;535(Pt 1):1.

Nosaka K, Sakamoto K. Effect of elbow joint angle on the magnitude of muscle damage to the elbow flexors. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jan;33(1):22-9.

Lieber RL, Friden J. Morphologic and mechanical basis of delayed-onset muscle soreness. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2002 Jan-Feb;10(1):67-73.

Nosaka K, Clarkson PM. Influence of previous concentric exercise on eccentric exercise-induced muscledamage. J Sports Sci. 1997 Oct;15(5):477-83.

Carson JA. The regulation of gene expression in hypertrophying skeletal muscle. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 1997;25:301-20.

Lieber RL, Friden J. Mechanisms of muscle injury after eccentric contraction. J Sci Med Sport. 1999 Oct;2(3):253-65.

Nosaka K, Clarkson PM. Muscle damage following repeated bouts of high force eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995 Sep;27(9):1263-9.
posted by Human Flesh at 5:16 AM on December 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


> Durn Bronzefist, go find some powerlifters or Olympic weightlifters. Some of the nerdiest guys I know are powerlifters or Olympic lifters. They're all doctors, engineers, and Linux administrators. Spreadsheets and intricate little programs appeals to the numbers types.

True that. When I started lifting in a committed way (it sounds like restless_nomad and I have a similar, rather simple routine of alternating squats, deadlifts, presses, benches, etc. 3x a week with minor assistance work as needed) what maybe surprised me most was how NOT fitting the stereotype that kind of regimen is--it's downright nerdy with yeah, the spreadsheets and calculators, and hyper personal, and the opposite of bombastic or "look at me!" at the gym. You go in and silently do some stuff, around 15 minutes per major lift (I warm up a ton), taking up little space and not moving much or fast relative to anything else going on at the gym (running, elliptical, kettlebells, jumping jacks, weight machines, whatever). It feels really private almost as if it's entirely in the mind, like people describe yoga (I actually have a theory this is one reason powerlifting isn't very mainstream as a spectator thing, because unless you know what's going in the lifter's mind because you lift too, it must seem pretty damn boring).
posted by ifjuly at 5:40 AM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Someone upthread asked about saving your backs and knees if you're going to venture into the wild world of squats and deadlifts--I saw it last night on the mobile device in bed so I didn't comment then--I would say what people almost always say, which is read Starting Strength, watch the videos on the wiki for it, read the forums, browse the tips on Strong Lifts (SS Lite/condensed pretty much), read Stumptuous (her description of squatting being about learning to sit back, not just down, is apt), the Something Awful threads about those lifts, decent CrossFit blogs, etc. Yes it's a lot of reading/watching videos, but it's worth it. And in the most basic condensed tip form, I'd mention setting your back, the natural lower lumbar curve thing (I call it "the butt jut"; you can also get a feel for it pre-deadlifting with the back-setting tip here), and obsessively making sure your knees aren't bowing in or out or forward in the ways that cause shearing and meniscus damage. And going low enough (past parallel/ass to grass) with the squat to take the pressure off the knees and put it on your thighs etc. too.

With the squat too, you may find (I did anyway) that your core is relatively weak compared to the rest of your body, which negatively affects form (wobbling of the trunk is not good for the back!). So I do minor ab work, stuff like leg raises, which takes less than 5 minutes. Helped fix me up straight away.
posted by ifjuly at 6:13 AM on December 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


> Is the author being sarcastic in the part where he says he's a "minimalist", since it is alongside a pic of his mutant-lke chest, with every square inch an intricate wonder of beveled, ridges rippled texture the promise of its strength

No, he's talking about the simple truth many people are realizing--that runs counter to yeah, stupid fitness magazines churning out crappy new exercise routines monthly--that with strength training, for effectiveness Keep It Simple Stupid really tends to be the best way to go. There are about 4 or 5 lifts (and really only 2 or 3 that are super awesome level compound effective) needed to get stronger all around, and you don't have to do a zillion reps of them, and you shouldn't do them constantly (as in 5-6x/week). restless_nomad alluded to this above, and I know the surprise myself when I realized the routine that works best for me is also dead simple. It's always the same, which he also mentions; you don't switch shit around or whatever. Now, there can be cons to this simplicity as well--it can get boring and for some people that's the kiss of the death for staying with it; I solve this by making my cardio the exciting change-up part of exercise and trying to view the strength as the comforting rock/foundation I never wonder about because it's always the same--but yeah, it is simplicity. You don't need lots of gear or a machine or do work out a zillion days a week. You could just take a barbell and lift it three different ways 2 or 3 times a week and you'd be getting as good, probably a better workout. And like restless_nomad said above, if you bother to look up what you're working when you squat, deadlift, press, and do bodyweight stuff (pull ups, dips), it's crazy because it really does cover everything. I remember perusing wiki on a lark one day and realizing based on the charts at the bottom of the strength exercise pages that I was, without even knowing it, working every single muscle possible. That seemed crazy to me--I was barely doing anything! But yeah. It doesn't take much if you do the big compound lifts. Anyway, that's what he means.
posted by ifjuly at 7:07 AM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


The tone of the article didn't bother me too much but before anyone follows his advice on barbell squats they should be aware of the serious risk of spinal injury, even when done using "textbook form". I dropped squats from my workout routine after reading about this study (switched to leg presses), and until I hear differently I'm not going back.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:50 AM on December 5 [+] [!]


I'll just quote this response to the study here. In short, all the researchers proved was that the stress on the spine changed during squats, which is totally predictable, expected, and how your body is supposed to work (if our spine was not meant to hold loads under different ankles and positions we would not have been given flexible spines!), not that the actual stress was linked to injury. Furthermore, their research was given as a presentation, and not accepted in a peer-reviewed journal as a journal article in any way.

"This is what the sacral slope actually is: "value of the angle between the superior plate of S1 and a horizontal line. A vertical sacrum is described by a low value, a horizontal sacrum by a high value." (source)

Here is a nice picture demonstrating it (SS stands for sacral slope): nice picture of SS

It is pretty damn obvious the sacral slope will increase in the squat (and in the back squat more so than the front squat) because the entire torso is titled forward compared to standing upright. Sacral slope is a parameter useful in assessing postural/anatomical deviations and is entirely improperly used here. This paper using SS to evaluate squat safety and suggesting the difference in sacral slope between squatting and standing can be indicative of danger for injury is actually indicative of mental retardation.

Also, suggesting that because of this the forces on the posterior elements of the lumbar spine" will increase is an epic fail in biomechanical understanding: the sacral slope increases (which is another way of saying the torso leans forward), the weight from the bar is distributed more towards the anterior elements of the lumbar spine (it tends to bend you over), and the lumbar erectors are counteracting that force (by resisting the lumbar spine from getting into flexion) by exerting an equal amount of force in the posterior elements of the lumbar spine; therefore the total force is equally distributed around the anterior and posterior elements. A greater sacral slope would indicate greater force on the anterior lumbar spine if we were talking about a greater sacral slope while standing upright!!!

Btw, this is not published in any scientific journal nor has it been peer-reviewed by any scientific journal; it was just accepted for presentation in a North American Spine Society meeting.


--------

Also, if you're not interested in developing back and knee problems I suggest you lay off the leg presses--they are notorious for them.
posted by schroedinger at 7:08 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's why his condecension bothers me. His advice is good, his point is a good one, but the way he presents it is not productive. I understand I am not his target audience, because "this guy is being a prick to me. I will do what he says!" isn't realy how I'm wired. People aren't reacting defensively because they hate the advice - this guy sounds like a bully. When fitness "advice" makes me not want to work out (that was my honest gut reaction up there) is it really any good?

I think what's interesting about people's reaction to this article is that if this tone was used to deliver information about nearly any other topic by anyone who did not look like this guy does, nobody would call him a bully. The reason people call him a bully seems to have a lot to do with their own assumptions about whether a lean, muscular person who uses "tough love" is doing so as a writing device or because they are mean bullies who pick on nerds.
posted by schroedinger at 7:11 AM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm actually really grateful to people here for posting this kind of stuff, because I had seriously considered getting into real weightlifting, and it's made me realize that the whole culture is waaaay too close to eating-disorder-think to be safe for me. So now I'm sticking with Pilates.

Man and reading this article is all it took to get you out of your previous mindset? Geeez you are easy....
posted by The1andonly at 7:18 AM on December 5, 2011


It feels really private almost as if it's entirely in the mind, like people describe yoga (I actually have a theory this is one reason powerlifting isn't very mainstream as a spectator thing, because unless you know what's going in the lifter's mind because you lift too, it must seem pretty damn boring).

I know what you mean. There's something weirdly meditative about it: you can't be anything other than "in the present moment" with a bunch of weight piled on top of your back.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:21 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


No we're calling him a bully cause he's using bulling language and sounds like a grade A jerk who I wouldn't listen to if I was on fire and he saying to jump in the river. Seriously he sounds like what my paranoid fantasies thought people in the gym where thinking about me when I went back after not going for years. Shit like this keeps peels people away from physical fitness and hey, guess what, I don't listen to people yelling at me and calling me names.
posted by The Whelk at 7:24 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


And yes, sooo much of this sounds like the crap I would tell myself when I convinced only 300 calories a day was the path to perfect happiness.
posted by The Whelk at 7:25 AM on December 5, 2011


You know, I wanted to address this, as both a "nerd" and a "gym rat" myself, but since everyone is reacting to this guy's mean tone like a bitter xkcd character who likes to pretend that muscle development and sports medicines aren't real sciences, I am at a loss. Aside from potentially hurting your feelings, very little of what the guy says is incorrect, so let me try this:

Remember a few weeks ago when someone posted Richard Stallman's bitchy and specific speaking rider, along with all his stuff about how he refuses to own a cell phone because he can be tracked? Remember when everyone said he was a pain in the ass and you vouched for him, and how he comes across as abrasive and specific, but nothing in his rider was 'technically' out of line?

This fussy dick knows what he's talking about too.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:25 AM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Lest my snarky lead-off comment leave people with the impression that I'm anti-lifting or anti-lifting-blog, I'm certainly not. I lift and was very dedicated to a powerlifting-derived scheme (WS4SB with some DE stuff added to the RE) for a while before surgery knocked me out of it (too undisciplined to get back to it yet). I've followed Dave Tate's training log with some regularity and enjoy reading others' writing about powerlifting and strongman events. Berkhan's writing, though he works in a lower rep range, is exactly the sort of Weideresque messianic garbage that turns me off so much about bodybuilding. Incidentally, most strength athletes are not models and don't shave their chest hair and slather themselves up with Cheez-It paste when they're trying to make a point about strength and fitness.

I mean, the guy is demonstrably correct in most of what he has written, but he's saying things that dozens if not hundreds of people have said before without being as irritating as he is.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:42 AM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't take up precious space here

Whoah, I missed that on initial read. So this guy sees gym use as a zero-sum game, just like the high school kids who, this being high school and there being no consequences, actually told me to GTFO and stop "wasting space" (with the meagre weights I could lift at the time). So, you know, I did, and didn't improve for some years. It's now the kind of thing I imagine some proportion of the free weigh folks thinking in the local gym -- sizing other people up and deciding whether or not they "deserve" to be there, but instead of calling it paranoia, I guess I have to conclude it's true for some. Thanks for adding a little more hostility into the mix, guy.

It's actually one reason that I've switched to free weights and cardio at home. I can work out all day if I want. As many sets as I want. Take as long as I want. I don't mind sharing a bench; far from it. Fuckwits like this are the icing on that cake.

There's something weirdly meditative about it: you can't be anything other than "in the present moment" with a bunch of weight piled on top of your back.

Yup. Took awhile before I decided I hated yoga and loved the gym. Guess what delayed that realization a whole lotta years?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2011


This thread really clears up why there's so many people here that say that it is "impossible" to be fit in past threads.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, bad initial experiences can set long-lasting avoidance in motion. No mystery there.

It's unfortunate that more people don't encounter the genuinely helpful gym people which, at most gyms (but again that varies), predominates. The ones who agree that you're in bad shape -- and want you to get better. They want you on that bench, not out of their gym, walking the dog. They're happy to swap sets with you. They'll even spot you if you ask.

My last gym featured a completely non-communicative crowd, though, so you can only wonder what's in people's heads. Which is why the tone of this article is so toxic.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:29 AM on December 5, 2011


Somebody should compile a list of these "Metafilter Rorschach Test" posts.

For me it has confirmed one thing: I potentially have a very lucrative career as a "Before" model.
posted by nickjadlowe at 8:34 AM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


No we're calling him a bully cause he's using bulling language and sounds like a grade A jerk who I wouldn't listen to if I was on fire and he saying to jump in the river. Seriously he sounds like what my paranoid fantasies thought people in the gym where thinking about me when I went back after not going for years. Shit like this keeps peels people away from physical fitness and hey, guess what, I don't listen to people yelling at me and calling me names.

It's no worse than any scree from a sour techie who can't fathom how people can be so useless with computers when they use them every day. I mean, change PEBCAK to Problem Exists Between Weights and Shoes and you're really not that far off from a style of interacting with the public that a number of people exhibit here.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 8:40 AM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, bad initial experiences can set long-lasting avoidance in motion. No mystery there.

It's unfortunate that more people don't encounter the genuinely helpful gym people which, at most gyms (but again that varies), predominates.


I get what you're saying, but the leap in thought process from "some people are assholes" to "therefore, it is genetically impossible for me to lose weight/build muscle/etc regardless of what I do."

The thing is, I read the linked blog post, and I really don't see how this guy is being such an asshole. He made a blog post about how his mind is blown, as a professional personal trainer, that so many people are "doing it wrong." Then he writes about how those same people, that clearly have goals in mind so much that they pay to go to a gym, can fix what they're doing.

I just don't get it. There are assholes everywhere, and honestly, some of the biggest assholes I've ever encountered are geeky "neckbeard" types, when I was trying to get into BSD and Linux around '98-99. The whole "LOL NOOB" k-l33t "ID-10T error" crowd was really a turnoff, much more to me than these gym types. And yet legendary assholes like RMS are worshipped as gods 'round these parts.

But I got through it, realizing that just some people are assholes and I was encroaching on an insular community. And now I get paid money to have root access to machines around the world that have $15,000 network cards.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:47 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am going out on a limb here and say that the article is meant to be tongue in cheek. If you read this article and it keeps you from going to the gym, well we all have our excuses, I suppose a snarky blog post is as good as my personal favorite of 'Darn, I can't find my headphones'. If I like a certain video game and I read a blog post from some guy making fun of my video game it's not going to keep me from going to game stop to buy the latest version of it.

My takeaway from it, is keep it simple with basic core lifts, and track your progress. You want a snark free version of it, go read Starting Strength.

And a note on people dismissing someone that is fit by using the drugs or genetics argument. Do you realize how infuriating that is to someone that busts their ass to make the gains they have made?

You wonder what they are thinking about you while you workout? Well that works both ways.
posted by WickedPissah at 8:49 AM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the article:

For someone interested in aesthetics, which I assume most my readers are

...and I think it's fair to infer, based on context, and given his constant harping on gaining a certain sort of "physique", that he means *primarily* interested in aesthetics, as opposed to health or any sort of practical day-to-day benefit. Which is fine, I have nothing against people who work out for that reason. That said, not everyone is going to the gym in order to turn into a comic-book drawing, and his assumption that anyone not visibly changing as a result of working out is a failure is deeply annoying. I primarily go in order to be able to run/bike/hike further without getting exhausted, and I could not possibly care less about the size of my arm muscles.
posted by IjonTichy at 9:04 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think what's interesting about people's reaction to this article is that if this tone was used to deliver information about nearly any other topic by anyone who did not look like this guy does, nobody would call him a bully.

I've been trying and failing to think of a situation where advice given in this tone would not make me think the person was a total jerk. Some examples I have pondered:

Knitting club: "God, those people who just make socks time after time instead of knitting a jumper with lace fretwork and five panels are a total waste of space and what the hell are they doing here anyway?"

Library: "Those weaklings who like to read young adult fiction instead of Proust in the original! What the hell are they doing in the library - shouldn't they just hang out in Barnes and Noble?"

Starbucks: "I see those people who can't even be bothered to learn shortcuts fumbling with their macs! Why the hell do they have a computer like that if they won't bother to learn! Why spend that much money if you don't want to run Linux or programme like a real computer user!"

Hockey: "Those pathetic women in the lowest league of recreational hockey!* Why don't they just take some classes and learn how to skate backward properly instead of turning around! Why are they even playing hockey if they'll never learn the backwards crossover!"

And so on. This guy's advice makes me wanted to get the pinkest set of teeny tiny weights I can find, put My Little Pony and unicorn stickers on them and flop around in front of him. Fair enough - he's a personal trainer and that may be his target market, but when you toss posts like this out into the world, you've got to expect people to raise the odd eyebrow at your feeling that those of us who aren't squatting like our lives depended on it don't belong in the gym. Or, rather, I should say, in a 'real' gym. This article doesn't strike me as snark; it's a guy outright wondering why people don't exercise just like he does, without considering that a lot of us in gyms are being tossed into the same space with different goals and interests. It's not like most gyms have a separate space labelled 'for people who only want to do x or look like x only! No one who lifts under y amount of weight welcome.'


* Confession: I am one of those people, and I've never been given advice in the tone of this article. Advice is always enthusiastically worded, but no one suggests that because I will probably never manage the backwards crossover at anything approaching what you might call speed, I shouldn't be on the ice and am just wasting my time. This is because I am in the lowest level of recreational hockey, where most of us are there just to have a good time, do a little exercise, and blow off a bit of steam and other people at other levels of the sport just have to roll with that. Certainly, I am not this guy's target audience, but I don't need it pointed out that people like me aren't welcome in the weight room because we're weaklings who just don't want to get ripped.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not like most gyms have a separate space labelled 'for people who only want to do x or look like x only! No one who lifts under y amount of weight welcome.

Unless the gym culture is very different where you are, I would suggest that most members don't traverse the Nautilus machine/free weight divide, which means that there actually is a physically separate space with associated attitude (not necessarily unjustified) about which of these is for "serious" gym goers. Thing is, ask any free weight enthusiast who scoffs at the machines why they do so, and they'll give you answers why free weights are better. The obvious result is that they should be welcoming these free weight noobs to the serious workout area. But there actually is only so much space, that is where you're going to find the muscle giants if they exist in your gym so there is going to be a certain level of intimidation, and it doesn't take much to tip people back to their comfort zone. In that sense, the wasted-space argument doesn't even apply.

I think a lot of the knuckleheaded attitude is imagined. Giant dude knows that the very different weights we're lifting may provide relatively similar levels of challenge, and this is how you get to those bigger weights (if that's what you want to do). Of course, he'd also like to not have to wait to use the bench. I love an empty gym. But that's why I cringe when I read some of these sentiments. Cause it plays into people's fears and becomes a completely unnecessary disincentive. Sure, just an additional disincentive, but if they're already at the gym, they've made it past a bevvy of other available excuses. I don't think this guy is a bad guy. He just doesn't know the damage he's doing.

I get what you're saying, but the leap in thought process from "some people are assholes" to "therefore, it is genetically impossible for me to lose weight/build muscle/etc regardless of what I do."

No, I'm not excusing that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:32 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless the gym culture is very different where you are, I would suggest that most members don't traverse the Nautilus machine/free weight divide, which means that there actually is a physically separate space with associated attitude (not necessarily unjustified) about which of these is for "serious" gym goers.
I'm not anything like a "serious" gym-goer, but I like to do some kettlebell swings and squats, and they keep the kettlebells in the "serious" area. It'd be cool if they'd stick some kettlebells over by the weight machines and pink dumbells, but they don't do that.

I'm sort of amused by all the people snarking about how it's our fault for minding because we're just insecure, as if it's some sort of humiliating sign of failure in life to be insecure. I'm not denying that I'm totally insecure about this. I had an eating disorder for a lot of years, and I've had to work really hard to convince myself that people aren't laughing and sneering at me every time I go to the gym, that I'm not making a fool out of myself for even putting in an effort. And while it's not going to keep me out of the gym, it's a bit of a bummer to know that they are in fact laughing and sneering at me. I feel a little bit foolish for giving you all the benefit of the doubt, to be honest.
posted by craichead at 10:00 AM on December 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


heh gym nerds don't like to hear that body obsession is hella fascist

i have not actually encountered much gym douche action short of people being shitty on the internet, but i also have not been into a regular suburb style gym in many, many moons.

i like lifting heavy shit and putting it down again but i am not interested in achieving the body that this gentleman aims for, i am a lifting heavy shit dilettante.

i wish that people did not associate the wonders of body dickery with judgment holes like gym douche. doing stuff with your body is awesome and feels awesome and has awesome results. +1 for stumptuous, i guess.
posted by beefetish at 10:09 AM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Starbucks: "I see those people who can't even be bothered to learn shortcuts fumbling with their macs! Why the hell do they have a computer like that if they won't bother to learn! Why spend that much money if you don't want to run Linux or programme like a real computer user!"

But, see, that's not his point. His point is more like this:

Starbucks: "I see people who want to be Unix Sys Admins, but can't even be bothered to learn keyboard shortcuts on their macs! Why the hell don't they see that "messing around" with your computer's settings in a GUI is never going to teach you the skills you need to be an admin! Why spend that much money if you aren't willing to put in the work to learn how to run Linux or programme like a real, competent admin?"

Notice the difference? In your example he's attacking people who don't share his goals. In his essay, and my example, he's critiquing (in a harsh tone) people who do share his goals but are (as far as he's concerned) amazingly thick-headed about achieving them. To a professional this is, in fact, maddening. If you don't share his goals, then he's not criticizing you.

If a student came to me and said, I want to be a philosopher, but indicated that he didn't really want to read anything more intellectually complex than "The Secret," I'd be awfully annoyed, too. (Now, it's my job, and inclination, to be nurturing in these circumstances, but there's only so much a person can take, before the snap and write something like this.)
posted by oddman at 10:29 AM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


This guy's advice is actually right on our current understanding of ways to address the wide range of diseases caused by metabolic syndrome in addition to getting a chest like his. You REALLY do not need his goals to benefit from his advice, a simple desire to not die young and more depressed than necessary should be plenty.

Real strength training of the variety that he is talking about is available to anyone who is ambulatory and of any current strength. Even if bodybuilding culture isn't very accessible, their knowledge is. You really don't need to look like him to walk into a gym and use it well, because there is a using it badly. The Nautilus machine is a waste of your time, unless your goal is to spend time in an uncomfortable sweaty gym around people in an awkward social setting without affecting the state of your body. If you actually want to affect your health, strength, endurance, appearance, fat mass, adipocyte population, muscle mass, mood regulation, or metabolic vulnerability to depression there is a closely related set of best practices verified by empirical data and this body building culture that values the knowledge so highly.

I'm at what he calls an intermediate level, I got here from a lack of meaningful strength and too little muscle mass for my body to adequately regulate my metabolism. Using techniques that are very familiar from his post I was able to meaningfully affect all of the goals I listed above.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:37 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oddman, I take your point but then there's this (and a whole raft of other comments like this in his piece): "I see weak people. In my dreams? No. In gyms? Yes. Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're weak."

It strikes me as less about your example of a someone who wants to be a philosopher, than walking around a university campus seeing someone reading "The Secret" and then ranting about why people read crap like that and go to a university.

There seems to me at least to be a massive assumption in his piece that the person wielding those pink dumbbells (the horror! pink dumbbells), who presumably has paid to attend the gym, doesn't belong in certain spaces and has no right to those spaces. This attitude is precisely why I don't go near free weights anymore. It's hard enough to cross into that space without encountering That Person who thinks it's their personal territory and god help the person who encroaches on it. I always assume that if you've got time to get annoyed about other people doing it wrong, then you're not concentrating enough on what you're doing.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:41 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or, if you're a personal trainer, you're not focusing enough on your client.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:43 AM on December 5, 2011


heh gym nerds don't like to hear that body obsession is hella fascist

I see just as much of this in the "look how horrible his horrible body is!" comments. At least he made it clear that he's talking to people who share his goals, rather than making sweeping pronouncements about cartoons and Rob Liefeld.

...and I think it's fair to infer, based on context, and given his constant harping on gaining a certain sort of "physique", that he means *primarily* interested in aesthetics, as opposed to health or any sort of practical day-to-day benefit.

Actually, no. This article is primarily about strength, and the rest of the sentence you selectively quoted makes that very clear: "For someone interested in aesthetics, which I assume most my readers are, relative strength is the single best measure of progress and the quality of your physique. Before seeing a picture of a client, I can easily get a very good idea of his or hers body composition by simply knowing three stats: weight, height and strength. Relative strength is therefore the parameter that will be used to determine reasonable rates of progress, which will then tell you whether you might be suffering of fuckarounditis or not."

People whose primary interest is aesthetics don't put strength first in their programs (since strength and muscle growth are actually somewhat orthogonal goals), and they certainly don't eschew doing lots of different exercises. This is a bodybuilding routine, and there are more here -- note that these are not just "squats, deadlifts, bench presses, chin-ups, triceps extensions and calf raises".

He's obviously very into aesthetics, but his advice is rooted in strength, not just looks... and strength does pay amazing "day-to-day benefits".
posted by vorfeed at 10:49 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


lesbiassparrow, the interpretation of text's subtext is a very personal thing. It's entirely possible for each person that reads a text to arrive at a different interpretation of the subtext. For example, I see that line as a comment on people who are failing without knowing that they are failing and his frustration over this. Is my interpretation more right than yours? No, by definition there is not way to state that any one interpretation is best. I'm just providing some additional insight, and I'm happy that you are too. I would hope that he finds this thread and perhaps moderates his tone a bit. (Assuming, probably unfairly, that his tone is always similar to the article's tone. This message was not actually a discourse with a client. We don't know what he's like in that context.)

TANGENT ALERT:
walking around a university campus seeing someone reading "The Secret" and then ranting about why people read crap like that and go to a university. Um, I'm pretty confident that every philosopher I know has done this (or something similar). Except perhaps for the very kindest professors. They just shake their head in an exasperated, world weary way and move on. In our defense, we do it because it's depressing to see students that could be learning about the world wasting their time on stuff like that. The snark is a defense mechanism, it's either that or cry. Then again, analytic philosophers can be dicks.
posted by oddman at 10:53 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do gym nerds have an image problem?
posted by RobotHero at 10:53 AM on December 5, 2011


This was one of the funniest blogs I've ever read. Thanks for posting. The line where he says "rolling around on a Swiss ball somewhere" almost made me spit milk though my nose. I'd love to have this guy as my personal trainer. And those of you all offended at his "tone" need to deadlift that giant chip on your shoulder 5x.
posted by Kokopuff at 10:54 AM on December 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Um, I'm pretty confident that every philosopher I know has done this (or something similar). Except perhaps for the very kindest professors. They just shake their head in an exasperated, world weary way and move on. In our defense, we do it because it's depressing to see students that could be learning about the world wasting their time on stuff like that. The snark is a defense mechanism, it's either that or cry.

Even more tangent alert: I just assume when I walk around my campus and see someone reading Colleen McCullough's endless books on Rome, that maybe they're relaxing their mind. Now, if they try and bring those books into a paper on the fall of the Republic...well, that's a different issue. Then again, I have an almost limitless appetite for bad movies and books* about the ancient world. Even the Immortals and its evil lobster helmet has a special place in my heart.

*Except for those books. Because they never seem to end.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:03 AM on December 5, 2011


I always assume that if you've got time to get annoyed about other people doing it wrong, then you're not concentrating enough on what you're doing.

Eh, it's a temperament thing. I notice what other people are doing in the gym - I'd have to be seriously oblivious and also uninterested in lifting not to. Very little of the time does what other people do actively annoy me (other than checking their iPhone while monopolizing equipment or, may they stub their toe really hard, not racking their plates after lifting,) but I'm often curious, confused, sympathetic, or skeptical. I was not raised in a barn, so I don't comment on other people's routines, but I certainly wonder about them and compare them to my own. If I were more self-righteous or if I had to deal with a certain type of people professionally I would totally be annoyed by some of the absurd things people do.

(For example, I've pushed for my karate dojo to focus more on form for pushups than quantity, because everyone's pushups suck right now, including mine, and no one's improving because we're not teaching or enforcing proper form. So when I passed a couple of guys in the gym looking like a pair of barking seals doing astonishingly crappy pushups, I couldn't help but wince. It's on my mind, I have opinions about it, and therefore I have to stifle the urge to correct them - which is a totally appropriate urge in a different context.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:07 AM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been trying and failing to think of a situation where advice given in this tone would not make me think the person was a total jerk. Some examples I have pondered:

"Knitting club: "God, those people who just make socks time after time instead of knitting a jumper with lace fretwork and five panels are a total waste of space and what the hell are they doing here anyway?"

Library: "Those weaklings who like to read young adult fiction instead of Proust in the original! What the hell are they doing in the library - shouldn't they just hang out in Barnes and Noble?"

Starbucks: "I see those people who can't even be bothered to learn shortcuts fumbling with their macs! Why the hell do they have a computer like that if they won't bother to learn! Why spend that much money if you don't want to run Linux or programme like a real computer user!"

Hockey: "Those pathetic women in the lowest league of recreational hockey!* Why don't they just take some classes and learn how to skate backward properly instead of turning around! Why are they even playing hockey if they'll never learn the backwards crossover!""


I've got a few:

Medical Professionals: All of those crystal healers dicking around with quartz are wasting uninformed people's time and money while often also leaving real medical issues unaddressed.

Empirically grounded evolutionary biology: All those sad undergrads studying evolutionary psychology because it gives easy and just so answers are wasting their time and either their's or their parent's money while leaving important and answerable questions about the nature of our world unasked. Their professors can go fuck themselves.

Taxonomy: God these cryptozoologists are still convinced that there is a dinosaur in a Scottish lake, they keep coming up with whackball theories and working obsessively to jam bad data into fitting them.

I'm sure you can imagine similar ones for Climate Research, a child development list serve that gets invaded by parents, or anyone with a passing knowledge of biological chemistry finding out that there are people who actually inject H2O2 intravenously for the "extra oxygen".
posted by Blasdelb at 11:12 AM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


vorfeed i'm kind of the messenger here about how obsessing over having a "strong body" and being disgusted by "weakness" is a fascist trope. i am not calling this guy a fascist. i think that the manner in which he chooses to express his distaste for people who are shitty at working out has some iffy and probably unexamined subtext. i think this is interesting but not necessarily the biggest point in the article. it is not fascist for people to crap on a dude for looking "too buff", unfortunately.
posted by beefetish at 11:14 AM on December 5, 2011


The musclebound grunters who spend hours pumping iron every day (and much of that time sitting around on benches between their brief periods of exertion, annoying the hell out of people like me, who want to keep moving) better exemplify gym "fuckarounditis" for me.
posted by Decani at 11:14 AM on December 5, 2011


The musclebound grunters who spend hours pumping iron every day (and much of that time sitting around on benches between their brief periods of exertion, annoying the hell out of people like me, who want to keep moving)

He includes those people in the category. His program is intense, focused, and includes three short workouts a week.
posted by OmieWise at 11:20 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


i think that the manner in which he chooses to express his distaste for people who are shitty at working out has some iffy and probably unexamined subtext.

His distaste is because they are doing it wrong. There is no dismissal of weakness per se. There is not fascist subtext. Or, rather, only a very determined and bad reading can find a fascist subtext.
posted by OmieWise at 11:21 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure you can imagine similar ones for Climate Research, a child development list serve that gets invaded by parents, or anyone with a passing knowledge of biological chemistry finding out that there are people who actually inject H2O2 intravenously for the "extra oxygen".

But we're talking about exercise here. I know for many people it is serious business, but for most people it's a way not to have to buy a larger size in clothing, or a way to blow off steam or something else like that. And, unfortunately or fortunately, most gyms have to accommodate both sorts of people; it's what keeps them functioning and profitable. It's not, on the whole, some specialised space, other than the fact that people are there usually to do some form of exercise, and half the time you have no idea what people's goals or interests are. It really isn't going to harm the universe if people are waving around pink dumbbells. It really isn't. Now, if they come up to you and whine about how they don't look like x and want to, that's a different issue.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:24 AM on December 5, 2011


"And so on. This guy's advice makes me wanted to get the pinkest set of teeny tiny weights I can find, put My Little Pony and unicorn stickers on them and flop around in front of him. Fair enough - he's a personal trainer and that may be his target market, but when you toss posts like this out into the world, you've got to expect people to raise the odd eyebrow at your feeling that those of us who aren't squatting like our lives depended on it don't belong in the gym. Or, rather, I should say, in a 'real' gym. This article doesn't strike me as snark; it's a guy outright wondering why people don't exercise just like he does, without considering that a lot of us in gyms are being tossed into the same space with different goals and interests. It's not like most gyms have a separate space labelled 'for people who only want to do x or look like x only! No one who lifts under y amount of weight welcome.'"

I totally now want My Little Pony themed weights, but people fucking around with weights that are too small for their current strength and the exercise they are doing, or on idiotic machines, is the crystal healing of the fitness world. It does nothing and hurts the people doing it by depriving them of health care that actually works. I suppose you could justify crystal healers in a similar way, people want to feel as if they are addressing their woes independently of actually doing it, but it is a genuinely pitiable impulse we should be encouraging folks to ignore rather than enabling.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:24 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


but for most people it's a way not to have to buy a larger size in clothing, or a way to blow off steam or something else like that. And, unfortunately or fortunately, most gyms have to accommodate both sorts of people

And this guy knows and understands this, and sees people that want to lose weight doing it wrong. He wrote a blog post about it, maybe give it a read?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:26 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then again, I have an almost limitless appetite for bad movies and books* about the ancient world. Even the Immortals and its evil lobster helmet has a special place in my heart.

Oh yeah? Well all of my knowledge about the Battle of Thermopylae and ancient Greece comes from the magnum opuses crafted by Messrs. Miller and Snyder. Try to read this comment without letting your feathers be ruffled! Molon labe, muhfugga!
posted by Apocryphon at 11:29 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


There seems to me at least to be a massive assumption in his piece that the person wielding those pink dumbbells (the horror! pink dumbbells), who presumably has paid to attend the gym, doesn't belong in certain spaces and has no right to those spaces.

Except this is exactly what he doesn't say. What he does say is this: "Women, you need to put down those pink dumbbells, throw that Shape Magazine in the trash can and stop with this nonsense. You seem to believe that the modest amount of strain will cause you to wake up looking like a bodybuilder in the morning. Horseshit. You're not using enough drugs to ever come close to looking muscle bound. With the training intensity I see most women apply in the gym, they might as well skip weight training altogether and stay on the treadmill.

What you need to do is slap yourself and start training for real."

This doesn't say that pink-dumbbell women should GTFO and never come back, it says that they should start lifting heavier things than pink dumbbells (or, alternately, do cardio instead). As someone who spent a long time lifting pink dumbbells, I agree, because it doesn't do anything -- curling a five-pound weight for 20 reps is neither a good strength workout nor a good cardio workout, and is thus a total waste of time. It doesn't increase endurance over the long term. It doesn't increase strength. It doesn't increase balance or flexibility or anything, because it is deliberately designed to be well within the comfort zone of nearly every human on earth. And spending 45 minutes rolling around in your comfort zone is not exercise.

Compare this with the treadmill, where you can increase the speed or incline at the push of a button. Compare this with real strength training, where you can increase the difficulty simply by adding another plate or picking up a heavier dumbbell. Unless you really love wasting time there's little point in championing pink dumbbells -- the entire idea is massively sexist, for one thing, and it keeps women from achieving the results they're looking for, even if that is just "a way not to have to buy a larger size in clothing, or a way to blow off steam or something else like that".

My gym doesn't have pink dumbbells: the three, five, eight, and ten pound dumbbells look exactly like the thirty, fifty, eighty, and 100 pound dumbbells. IMHO that's as it should be: there are no weights "for women". There's just what you can lift with proper form and what you can't, and when you can do all of your reps with proper form it's time to pick up a heavier weight. That right there is 95% of everything strength training is, and the fact that women are treated as if they're not good enough for it is a goddamn shame.
posted by vorfeed at 11:34 AM on December 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


omiewise, i recognize that his frustration is totally justified, but his tone comes off as hostile outside of its context and some of the ways he is expressing his frustration have unfortunate, hilarious undertones. it is like if i got real frustrated at people pontificating over shit-ass nerd books and suggested that people who "are serious readers" but who wouldn't hack melville are fuckin' weaklords and should be sterilized for the good of the species.

and judgmentarian gym hole guy is far from the only internet opinion person who veers into xtreme weirdness due to opinions, he is just the guy in front of me and critiquing a gym dude's choice in judgment words instead of some internet guy's is pretty novel.
posted by beefetish at 11:34 AM on December 5, 2011


Well all of my knowledge about the Battle of Thermopylae and ancient Greece comes from the magnum opuses crafted by Messrs. Miller and Snyder. ry to read this comment without letting your feathers be ruffled!

Ha! I am made of sterner stuff than you imagine. I see your 300 and raise you Clash of the Titans (the remake).

On topic:

And this guy knows and understands this, and sees people that want to lose weight doing it wrong. He wrote a blog post about it, maybe give it a read?

I did. Twice. Because after people commented that people were misreading him, I wanted to try in good faith to see what they did. I still think he's somewhat overly concerned with what other people are doing in the gym, though.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:35 AM on December 5, 2011


I still think he's somewhat overly concerned with what other people are doing in the gym, though.

One could almost think he's a personal trainer!

"A personal trainer is a fitness professional involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. Trainers also measure their client's strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments. These fitness assessments may also be performed before and after an exercise program to measure their client's improvements in physical fitness. They may also educate their clients in many other aspects of wellness besides exercise, including general health and nutrition guidelines. Qualified personal trainers recognize their own areas of expertise."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:38 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


vorfeed i'm kind of the messenger here about how obsessing over having a "strong body" and being disgusted by "weakness" is a fascist trope.

I'm pretty tired of how all these things are dismissed because the fascists apparently co-opted them. Sometimes you just want to wear a snazzy uniform on a train that runs on time in an economy that is neither capitalist nor socialist.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:40 AM on December 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


One could almost think he's a personal trainer!

But he's not these people's personal trainer, surely? How does he even know what they want to achieve? It's like assuming that that person reading Proust has a secret desire to read Thomas Mann and should be told this. Now.

Also, calling people weaklings for not doing things the way you do, seems a little, well, wanky right off the bat. It's like assuming that people skating in a rink really want to build up to jumping a triple axle and that by just skating around they are completely wasting their time.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:41 AM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Also, calling people weaklings for not doing things the way you do, seems a little, well, wanky right off the bat. It's like assuming that people skating in a rink really want to build up to jumping a triple axle and that by just skating around they are completely wasting their time."

For that analogy to fit we would need to recognize how the hypothetical triple axle was achievable with less than a weeks worth of training, doing triple axles had demonstrable and dramatic benefits that just skating around does not, and that to a person everyone just skating around was doing so under the mistaken impression that it had at least some of those benefits when that has been proven to be not the case.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:52 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's calling them weaklings because they are weak. Sorry, but proportional strength is an objective thing, and it is easy to diagnose in adult humans who won't lift things heavier than fifteen pounds.
posted by vorfeed at 11:53 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


But he's not these people's personal trainer, surely?

I'm a community manager. When I see someone else's poorly-moderated forums or badly-written customer support message or idiotic PR campaign, I evaluate and criticize them, whether on my blog or with friends or just in my own head. It's my job, it's what I do - that faculty doesn't just turn off because they're not paying me. Doesn't mean anyone has to listen to my opinion, but I'm going to have it and probably express it.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:58 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish I could edit this article. I don't care what your fitness goals are, there is some stupid shit that goes on in the gym that nobody benefits from. I see personal trainers training people to do lifts wrong or less optimal lifts (I am looking at you, Yates row). That is bad. But gym fitness isn't about programs that work for what the individual is trying to achieve. It is about making fitness so absolutely byzantine that no sane person would or could do it outside of a gym. For example:

Doing a barbell squat on a freakin' stability ball! (another)

A good resistance training regime is really quite simple. Strong Lifts gets a lot of recommendations here and rightfully so: it is simple and effective. I just think fitness needs a Michael Pollan to write something easy like "lift weights, but with good form, mostly squats."
posted by munchingzombie at 11:58 AM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


He's calling them weaklings because they are weak. Sorry, but proportional strength is an objective thing, and it is easy to diagnose in adult humans who won't lift things heavier than fifteen pounds.

That's why I call troubled students "stupid". I've seen the test scores.

Strangely, they hate showing up for class after that, but they're not my target audience.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:59 AM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


If this guy could actually write clearly, or if he had an editor, or if he were actually a fraction as witty as he thinks he is, this thread would be 12 comments long.
posted by maudlin at 12:03 PM on December 5, 2011


That's why I call troubled students "stupid". I've seen the test scores.

Would this hurt your feelings less if, instead of "weak," he said "not strong?"
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:04 PM on December 5, 2011


The guy's a douche who seems to thing that everyone has the same goals as him (i.e., looking like a douche).

That said, if everyone in my gym took his advice and actually learned to work out:

1) We could throw half those pointless lifting machines -- those that make sense in a physical therapist's office but not in a gym -- out to make room for worthwhile equipment.

2) Many, many people would spend roughly half as much time in the gym as they do now.

It shocks me how much time I see people wasting in the gym, often encouraged by "trainers" who don't seem to know how to work out.

I always assume that if you've got time to get annoyed about other people doing it wrong, then you're not concentrating enough on what you're doing.

Unless you're waiting to use the equipment they're relaxing on or misusing.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:05 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would this hurt your feelings less if, instead of "weak," he said "not strong?"

It's not personal. I like gyms, I like free weights, and yes, strength can be objectively measured. But to pretend like there's no reason for anyone to be put off by his tone is a bit much.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:07 PM on December 5, 2011


That's why I call troubled students "stupid". I've seen the test scores.

I do want to say that while I like this guy's actual ideas, I don't love his expression of them and don't read his site. Weightlifting specifically, and a lot of pure fitness/"functional fitness" disciplines in general, attract this super-macho, super-righteous personality type, and this kind of rhetoric works really well within that set and really, really poorly outside of it. There's a lot of orthorexia, my-way-or-the-highway, and cult-of-personality bullshit that goes on, and the thoughtful, evidence-based, openminded people don't get nearly as much traffic. (Crossfit started out as the latter, and quickly morphed into the former in the worst way. My autism-spectrum physics professor friend looooves Crossfit, but my god her enthusiasm creeps me out.)

There are people who don't seem to need the testosterone-fueled rah rah crap - several people have mentioned Stumptuous, and she's great, and there are communities that have sprung up that just don't need it. But my theory is the roar of general information is just so loud that people don't know what to listen to, and some trainers have discovered that if they bellow enough, it'll cut through the din. Doesn't make the culture any saner, but I bet Berkhan doesn't lack for clients - or site traffic.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:10 PM on December 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Crossfit

I'm pretty sure Crossfit is actually a cult? A few people I went to high school with are now Crossfit trainers, and they post more about Crossfit than my other highschool FB friends that discovered Evangelical pentecostalism.

Thing is though, the Crossfit cultists are fucking ripped, like wow.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


1) We could throw half those pointless lifting machines -- those that make sense in a physical therapist's office but not in a gym -- out to make room for worthwhile equipment.

I don't actually know which machines you mean, but some of us are actually using the gym to rehab from injuries. You might be visiting your pt every few days but I am able to do those exercises on my own - if the equipment is available.
posted by jacalata at 12:25 PM on December 5, 2011


He's calling them weaklings because they are weak. Sorry, but proportional strength is an objective thing, and it is easy to diagnose in adult humans who won't lift things heavier than fifteen pounds.

As someone who thinks there's a lot of good advice in this article, I don't think this comment is going to convince anyone. First off, "weakling" has a lot of extra derogatory connotations besides "cannot lift a lot of weight," so I think this comment sort of misses the point. And second, what people should really be interested in is the derivative of their proportional strength, which is a lot harder to diagnose in healthy adult humans from across the room/internet.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:29 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but proportional strength is an objective thing,

No, the ability to perform a task is objective. I've met dudes much stronger than me who were mediocre strikers -- punching and kicking being applications of strength, you see. I've been way stronger than a guy until a minute or two gasses me down to weakness (because, well, my wind sucks). The idea that one physical system in one set of activities is the benchmark for general fitness is stupid, and the chief source of faddishness.

Yes, the basic lifts, aiming for heavy weight, are good for you, especially as you age and need to maintain muscle mass. No, they are not everything. There's a reason combat sports athletes do a lot of the "bullshit" things this dude derides: They need to excel at specific tasks related to their sports, and need the physical attributes to survive arduous skills training. People should train for basic strength, cardiovascular endurance and mobility, and beyond that, train for the tasks they would actually like to be able to accomplish with their bodies.
posted by mobunited at 12:47 PM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


And second, what people should really be interested in is the derivative of their proportional strength, which is a lot harder to diagnose in healthy adult humans from across the room/internet.

Pink dumbbells and the workouts most people do on machines aren't just sub-optimal programs, they are programs which usually do not lead to progression. Without progression, you have a derivative of close to zero. That's the entire point of the article, and that's why it is easy to diagnose a lack of progress from across the room (not to mention that most lifters see the same people in the gym day after day, week after week -- a lack of progress isn't at all hard to see in real-time).
posted by vorfeed at 12:49 PM on December 5, 2011


OK, so people who have a problem with this guy, you essentially don't like his tone? You are making a "tone" argument?
posted by schroedinger at 12:49 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


doing stuff with your body is awesome and feels awesome and has awesome results.

IT IS.

My whole problem with this is not that I have a problem with fitness.

I certainly don't have any problem with lifting. It's gratifying and, yeah, it's awesome. It feels really good to be strong. It WORKS.

Despite my comment above about his torso looking like Homer Simpson's face (IT DOES IT LOOKS LIKE HIS NIPPLES ARE STARING AT ME but that is just a really unfortunate picture)I don't have a problem with his physique. I find competitive weightlifting fascinating. One of my friends recently broke the state record in deadlifting for his age and weight class - you would have no idea just looking at him that that little guy could probably lift you over his head and throw you. I think that is amazing and cool and I'm proud of him.

I don't have a problem with the content of his advice. Most of it is very good. Everything he says about fads and supplements and the like is pretty dead on. There are entire industries built on yanking people's chains with the hope of a quick fix, a magic pill, a new set of exercises every month, when the basics are what really works and if you stick to them you will spend less time and less money feeling more awesome. And what he says about working to make your own body work as well as it can instead of working it toward some impossible ideal is exactly right.

HOWEVER

His is also advice that I have gotten multiple times from people who weren't dicks about it (thanks, cool gym people.) And contrary to what the defenders of his snark seem to believe, I detest that exclusionary, condescending tone in any forum - I see it a lot when I am seeking answers about computer problems or graphics software. I don't like it when I see it in posts on other subjects. I think most of us, contrary to the above assertions, react negatively when we see it anywhere, on any subject.

It hits a particular sore spot here because it's so culturally pervasive. There are a lot of people who WERE "picked last for dodgeball," a lot of people who had really awful formative experiences with fitness because that sort of attitude is encouraged and acceptable. There are a lot of people who feel shamed out of the gym. And that is fucked up and wrong.

And maybe it is just us projecting, and maybe it is in our heads, but just because you never experienced it doesn't mean it's not a real problem that goes beyond mere "excuses."
posted by louche mustachio at 12:55 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


You are making a "tone" argument?

Yes. Down with his tone. Less of that sort of thing.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:05 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


>when you toss posts like this out into the world, you've got to expect people to raise the odd eyebrow at your feeling that those of us who aren't squatting like our lives depended on it don't belong in the gym

In fact, even some of us who like what he's saying don't like his style. I took it as an OTT rant based on the neologistic title and opening words, "Dear Readers, it is with troublesome news I break my three months of silence. The statistics all point towards the same conclusion: we have a global outbreak of fuckarounditis."

And here's a comment from one of his fans on that very page:

Martin, I love your stuff, but I think the outrageous amount of crude language in this post lowers the quality and even credibility. Please - take things to a higher level of class and professionalism.
posted by Listener at 1:05 PM on December 5, 2011


You are making a "tone" argument?

Heh, I see what you did there.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:09 PM on December 5, 2011


Sorry, but proportional strength is an objective thing

No, the ability to perform a task is objective.


No, they're both objective. The fact that you value the latter over the former doesn't mean the former isn't objective. Besides, this guy is right up front with the fact that he is talking about performing a given task (weight lifting for strength and aesthetics), and proportional strength is the benchmark there.

People should train for basic strength, cardiovascular endurance and mobility, and beyond that, train for the tasks they would actually like to be able to accomplish with their bodies.

Yes, but the people he's talking about don't have basic strength, and they're not training for it even though they think they are. That's the point. I agree that strength is not the sole variable here, and I also agree that developing it beyond a certain point isn't necessary for most people... but there's also a point where a lack of strength severely limits the tasks you can accomplish with your body, up to and including day-to-day things like getting groceries and playing with the kids. Many people -- especially women -- are at or below this level. Many of them also spend years doing little more than nothing in the gym, when they could've built a basic strength base in just one year. That's a problem, and I don't see what's wrong with pointing it out.

This article is not aimed at combat sports athletes, marathon runners, bodybuilders who use machines, successful Crossfitters, women who progress beyond the pink dumbbells, etc. It's aimed at people who are trying and consistently failing to become stronger in the gym, and as such it is more-or-less right on.
posted by vorfeed at 1:31 PM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


"the workouts most people do on machines aren't just sub-optimal programs, they are programs which usually do not lead to progression."

Does progression, in this context, mean something besides pushing heavier weights? When I've used a machine in the past I've progressed from pushing 100 to 120, to 140 lbs, etc. In other words, as I worked at it, I was able to push more weight in my sets. (I also eventually just switched to free weights because I realized that my fear of lifting without a squatter was exaggerated and I wanted to work all of the "stabilizing" muscles that support and compliment the big ones like pectorals and triceps).
posted by oddman at 1:52 PM on December 5, 2011


This article is not aimed at combat sports athletes, marathon runners, bodybuilders who use machines, successful Crossfitters, women who progress beyond the pink dumbbells, etc. It's aimed at people who are trying and consistently failing to become stronger in the gym, and as such it is more-or-less right on.

Of course it's aimed at those people. He specifically complains about Crossfit, and about people who have goals that are essentially aesthetic ("Tyler Durden"). I mean, it's in the article.
posted by mobunited at 2:07 PM on December 5, 2011


I'd disagree. Whatever I do in the gym is aimed at supporting my capoeira, so I specifically do a combination of things like cardio machines, yoga, cardio circuit classes, tabata & power bar classes, as well as boxing - primary goals being cardio fitness, muscular endurance, agility & flexibility. I deliberately train a variety of different ways to avoid overdoing one aspect or another.

I started reading his article & immediately thought "meh, that's for people focussed on maximum strength and/or bodybuilding, so this doesn't apply to me". Up to a point, some strength is good for me, but too much bulk is a disadvantage.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:36 PM on December 5, 2011


I'm on my way to the gym just to piss him off!
posted by mazola at 2:37 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


He says he helped someone to achieve the Tyler Durden look, so he's obviously not dismissing it. He also mentions that he has Crossfit clients -- again, he's not dismissing them.

His complaints about Crossfit/Tyler Durden refer to people who aren't doing effective things to achieve their primary goals. "Want to look like Tyler Durden? Then you need to build up some modest amount of muscle and then you need to lose fat, period." "Some people get decent results from CrossFit and the like, but it spells death for hardgainers like yourself." Both of these statements are entirely true in the context of lifting for strength and aesthetics; if that's what you're going for then "a haphazard mixture of strength and conditioning" and "some horrifying cardio/pump'n'tone hybrid, some celebrity workout variety" are a poor fit compared to a simple, heavy lifting plan.
posted by vorfeed at 2:41 PM on December 5, 2011


Does progression, in this context, mean something besides pushing heavier weights?

Not really, no. "Being able to push more weight in my sets" is progression whether you're using a machine or free weights (although pushing the same weight for more reps also represents progression, up to a point). It's just that many people don't make much progress on machines, because they don't ever push heavy weights. So many people have been taught that the proper way to use the machines is to hop on, do 5 sets of 12 easy reps, and hop off. Ta da, "toning"! This is better than nothing, but it's not going to lead to significant progress -- you can easily do it for years without getting much stronger.
posted by vorfeed at 3:07 PM on December 5, 2011


In semi-related news, Mark Rippetoe did an AMA over on reddit today.
posted by dialetheia at 3:13 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


thank you for that link!
posted by ifjuly at 3:19 PM on December 5, 2011


i am enjoying it, but also simultaneously relieved metafilter's at least not that bad comment-wise. it's like fark or youtube or something, some of those comments. /reddit-clueless
posted by ifjuly at 3:20 PM on December 5, 2011


A particularly apropos quote:

Who's the most genetically "gifted" trainee you've ever had or seen, in terms of extending linear gains?

Genetic "gifting" is so seldom the limiting factor in extended linear progress that I cannot answer the question. Patience, determination, and good judgement are the limiting factors.
posted by vorfeed at 3:32 PM on December 5, 2011


I'd disagree. Whatever I do in the gym is aimed at supporting my capoeira, so I specifically do a combination of things like cardio machines, yoga, cardio circuit classes, tabata & power bar classes, as well as boxing - primary goals being cardio fitness, muscular endurance, agility & flexibility. I deliberately train a variety of different ways to avoid overdoing one aspect or another.

I started reading his article & immediately thought "meh, that's for people focussed on maximum strength and/or bodybuilding, so this doesn't apply to me". Up to a point, some strength is good for me, but too much bulk is a disadvantage.


This entire post is based on common misconceptions about training and lifting and illustrative of the wrongheaded ideas we have about lifting in American culture and how it leads to the kinds of reactions we see in this thread.
posted by schroedinger at 4:01 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


If nothing else the thread alone proves people would mostly rather talk about it than do it.

"I mean, the guy is demonstrably correct in most of what he has written, but he's saying things that dozens if not hundreds of people have said before without being as irritating as he is."

Yeah, but "the bandana wearing bro in the cable-cross machine" made me go 'huh huh huh" because I see a variant of that guy in every gym.

Reads to me like he's saying "Take yourself seriously" and "Pay attention to what you do" (the irritating stuff aside that is).

Which is what people should do in a gym.
I lug around a notebook and look like I'm doing Gaussian hypergeometry between sets. But y'know, basic math hard working out.

And there are plenty of people in the gym just wasting their own time and taking up space.

I myself use gloves, because I like soft and kissable hands, but he's right that all motivation is internal.

I saw a guy in the gym the other day drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Most people in my area, you wear short pants your a maricon, so I'm used to seeing people in slacks or jeans and work boots, but it's funny to see someone treat working out like they're punching a clock.
Gym space does lack some of the seriousness it should have. But I've heard serious dancers say similar things about people trying to use Salsa lessons as a pick-up spot.

And the gym and fitness, body aesthetics aside, has sort of been commodified such that people seem to feel an entitlement to their fitness (hey, ya paid for it) and don't develop or stick with a system. Something about the just plugging away maybe. Or want the rush or being in the mood.
I always remember Gurney Halleck from Dune: "Mood's a thing for cattle and loveplay"

Hell, there are guys who have cells built into their helmets for riding motorcycles. But I always thought of being inaccessible as a perk. I'm at the gym. It's serious 'me' time. I can't talk.
I think what's exclusionary (or what's meant to be and this guy blows in explaining it, because let's face it "weak" is a charged word) is for people who disrespect that. The taking it seriously and paying attention thing. Particularly for themselves.
But piling on weight to show off (to yourself or whomever), taking up more time on equipment talking, treating the place like a meat market, all that does interfere with what other people are trying to do too.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:03 PM on December 5, 2011


Huh. Horrifying, but I feel that way about lots of people's hobbies, so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:14 PM on December 5, 2011


omiewise, i recognize that his frustration is totally justified, but his tone comes off as hostile outside of its context and some of the ways he is expressing his frustration have unfortunate, hilarious undertones. it is like if i got real frustrated at people pontificating over shit-ass nerd books and suggested that people who "are serious readers" but who wouldn't hack melville are fuckin' weaklords and should be sterilized for the good of the species.

and judgmentarian gym hole guy is far from the only internet opinion person who veers into xtreme weirdness due to opinions, he is just the guy in front of me and critiquing a gym dude's choice in judgment words instead of some internet guy's is pretty novel.


I'm not really sure what you mean here. First you accuse him of basically having fascist leanings, and now you're talking about "unforunate...undertones." Your analogy demonstrates that you haven't really understood his point, which is directed to people who want to progress but aren't. To put it in your terms, were someone to say they want to be an expert it 19th century American literature, but refuse to read Melville, one might be justified in telling them that they are probably going about things the wrong way. Other than that specific use case, no one really cares in a fundamental way whether or not you read Moby Dick. Now, there is likely some general feeling that because this deals with health it's a bit more important than other things, but we all make those kinds of value judgements. You still haven't said why you think the accusation of fascism is justified here, in context.
posted by OmieWise at 4:36 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This entire post is based on common misconceptions about training and lifting and illustrative of the wrongheaded ideas we have about lifting in American culture and how it leads to the kinds of reactions we see in this thread.

Feel free to enlighten me, then, on how best to combine heavy lifting sessions with 3 sessions weekly of 2+ hours of capoeira. When do you think I would fit in recovery time from the heavy lifting, and how would I protect myself from injuries?

I've been tinkering with this particular routine for over 7 years now, and am always open to suggestions. I've tried to integrate heavy lifting in the past & have found that the two simply cannot coexist, hence the light "flopping around like a monkey" approach on my days off. It's only peripheral.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:08 PM on December 5, 2011


Feel free to enlighten me, then, on how best to combine heavy lifting sessions with 3 sessions weekly of 2+ hours of capoeira. When do you think I would fit in recovery time from the heavy lifting, and how would I protect myself from injuries?

I've been tinkering with this particular routine for over 7 years now, and am always open to suggestions. I've tried to integrate heavy lifting in the past & have found that the two simply cannot coexist, hence the light "flopping around like a monkey" approach on my days off. It's only peripheral.


Ok. There's a simple part that some of the above people haven't mentioned here. How big you get is heavily diet based. So, if you beginning to "grow" you'll see it coming a mile away and be able to control the direction you take it by simply adjusting your strength program and diet. Combining that with the amount of cardio you get from martial arts amongst other things, I'd say your body will not get the chance to build the amount of muscular tissue to truly be "big."
posted by straight_razor at 5:25 PM on December 5, 2011


UbuRoivas, have you tried a simple two day powerlifting split?

Day 1
Deadlift
Overhead press
Weighted pullup/chinup

Day two:
Squat
Benchpress
Bent over row

All lifts focused on sub-5 rep maxes with no more than 5 work sets tops. ~45 minutes per session. Many causal athletes find they can easily fit this level of strength training into their routine with entirely adequate recovery for skills training. You will also find (assuming your form is correct and training progressive) that your rate of injury vastly decreases as your postural control, rate of force development, joint stability,flexibility, muscular endurance and a host of other physical attributes are rapidly improved.

As mentioned, hypertrophy is entirely a function of diet. Being afraid of sudden unforeseen weight gain from basic strength training is like worrying about becoming too wealthy from showing up to your day job. It is not something that will occur without deliberate, dedicated effort on your part.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:38 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cool, I'll give that a try - probably after the new year, as the gym shuts down for a couple of weeks, so no point being all stop-start about it. By doing weights in the mornings, I can get up to 1.5 days of recovery, so I'll see how that goes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:49 PM on December 5, 2011


His is also advice that I have gotten multiple times from people who weren't dicks about it (thanks, cool gym people.) And contrary to what the defenders of his snark seem to believe, I detest that exclusionary, condescending tone in any forum - I see it a lot when I am seeking answers about computer problems or graphics software. I don't like it when I see it in posts on other subjects. I think most of us, contrary to the above assertions, react negatively when we see it anywhere, on any subject.

Yeah, totally. It's not cute when a UNIX sysadmin or someone on the R mailing list does it either. To plagiarize Achewood, nobody should be a dick to a stranger.

Pink dumbbells and the workouts most people do on machines aren't just sub-optimal programs, they are programs which usually do not lead to progression. Without progression, you have a derivative of close to zero.

Lord knows I'm not defending some kind of "toning" 2 lb. weight bullshit. My point is more that there are people who are doing everything "right" who aren't (yet?) as strong as the people who are "fucking around." Some of the people who are fucking around now were athletes from way back and can get away with some fucking around because they are already in pretty good shape. Some of the people who are squatting as heavily as they can are pretty new to the game. If you want to criticize process, criticize process. But if you make this about some absolute threshold of strength, you're going to alienate a lot of people who would otherwise be on your side.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:52 PM on December 5, 2011


OK. so let me ask this:

I like the simplicity of a routine that is basically bent-over dumbbell row, pull-ups, and dumbbell press, and I'd like to add some muscle and gain the benefits of a moderate weight training program. (Is there something like a dumbbell squat?) However, I'm mostly interested in working out for the burned calories (I usually run, or cycle, for that).

A lot of sources on the internet will give you a calorie burn rate for 60 minutes of weight training (and I think they assume relatively short rests, high intensity, high heart rate sets).

But I like the simplicity of knowing that X exercise if done for Y minutes will burn 200 calories. So, is there a simple way to know what 3, 5-rep, sets of dumbbell presses will burn? (You can find lots of straightforward calculators for running X distance and Y pace, and I'd like something similar. The Calorie count doesn't have to 100% accurate I just want to know what ballpark I'm in.)
posted by oddman at 6:08 PM on December 5, 2011


If this is about derivatives, then it's worth noting that people who "were athletes from way back and can get away with some fucking around because they are already in pretty good shape" will find that fucking around will lead to a lower strength derivative than they'd get if they were squatting heavy. Likewise, people who are new to the game and squatting heavy are probably seeing the best derivatives they'll ever achieve...

This is why absolute strength is a pretty poor metric. There are always going to be people who are "fucking around", yet are much stronger than many of those who are doing it "right"; just glance at the difference between women and men, or between large men and small men. This doesn't change the fact that some programs will be better than others at increasing strength for a given person.
posted by vorfeed at 6:09 PM on December 5, 2011


vorfeed, I totally agree with all of that. My point is specifically that calling people "weaklings" implies that there's an absolute strength cutoff, and if you're above it you get to feel okay about yourself. I think that's a dangerous message to send for precisely the reasons you articulated.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:15 PM on December 5, 2011


Given the rest of the article -- in which every metric given is a function of bodyweight -- I think it's entirely obvious that he meant "weak" as a relative term. Also, note that he doesn't actually use the word "weakling" anywhere.
posted by vorfeed at 6:27 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes. Down with his tone. Less of that sort of thing.

Indeed:

That's like the goatse of chests
posted by theodolite at 11:19 PM on December 4 [61 favorites +]

posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:35 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


UbuRoivas, you've already gotten some good advice. Timing of workouts will depend on when you do capoeria, but I would be you'd find your best gains if you lifted or did capoeria in the morning, and whatever you didn't do in the morning you do in the evening. Then rest completely on your rest days. With three workout days, and four rest days, you should have plenty of time to recover.

But I like the simplicity of knowing that X exercise if done for Y minutes will burn 200 calories. So, is there a simple way to know what 3, 5-rep, sets of dumbbell presses will burn? (You can find lots of straightforward calculators for running X distance and Y pace, and I'd like something similar. The Calorie count doesn't have to 100% accurate I just want to know what ballpark I'm in.)

There is really no way of telling. It differs so wildly from person to person and most calorie counters are extremely off. Instead of worrying about how many calories you're burning, just don't incorporate exercise into your calorie burn calculations at all. If you are trying to lose and aren't losing, cut more calories. If you are losing too fast, eat more. Similar with gaining. The closest thing you'll get to extreme precision with estimating calorie burn would be to buy a BodyMedia/GoFit/whatever. They're tremendously accurate if a bit unwieldy to wear around.

----

Look, enough with the comments about this guy's body. He's flexing and that's exaggerating his look--he's probably practiced flexing and that's exaggerating it further. If there was an article posted by an overweight person and I started going off about their fat rolls or cottage cheese thighs or making jokes about how many babies they ate you'd all be screaming for my head.
posted by schroedinger at 7:15 PM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, note that he doesn't actually use the word "weakling" anywhere.

I was responding to this comment: "He's calling them weaklings because they are weak. Sorry, but proportional strength is an objective thing, and it is easy to diagnose in adult humans who won't lift things heavier than fifteen pounds."

Given the rest of the article -- in which every metric given is a function of bodyweight -- I think it's entirely obvious that he meant "weak" as a relative term.

I think the "relative" aspect is a red herring. Does it make it better that we're calling anyone who can't (yet) squat 1.5x their body weight and do 8 pull-ups "weak"? I guess I don't really see what that accomplishes. There are certainly people doing everything right who fall below that standard as well as "fuckarounds" above it, so why even go there?
posted by en forme de poire at 8:40 PM on December 5, 2011


> 16. Are you still warming up? I can't tell.

Can some of the more experienced lifters give me some advice? If I don't do a ridiculous number of warm-up sets, I really struggle to lift my work sets.
posted by surenoproblem at 9:49 PM on December 5, 2011


You should warm up as much as you feel you need to. Warming up is something that varies a lot from lifter to lifter. For example I know lifters (especially older lifters or lifters rehabbing injuries) who will spend 45 minutes doing mobility work and various prehab and warm-up stuff before they start. Meanwhile there are other lifters who maybe do five minutes on the cycle and some lifts with just the bar and are good to go.

It will even vary from lift to lift. I hit a daily max when doing Olympic lifts, and found I do better when I go for it with fewer warm-ups and larger weight jumps. For squats I need a little more time to get into the groove before hitting my work sets. I have had to get used to having very little warmups in my strongman training because there isn't much scalability in the weights--a 200# keg is a 200# keg, nobody wants to dump out a water/sand mix for warm-ups and every week deal with dragging it in and out of the gym between the scale and the parking lot, refilling it slowly until you hit the weight you want only to dump it out and start all over next week.

If you are doing a lot of warm-ups for accessory work, like bicep curls or something, then you are probably overdoing it.
posted by schroedinger at 10:16 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was responding to this comment: "He's calling them weaklings because they are weak. Sorry, but proportional strength is an objective thing, and it is easy to diagnose in adult humans who won't lift things heavier than fifteen pounds."

And I was responding to this comment: "Also, calling people weaklings for not doing things the way you do, seems a little, well, wanky right off the bat". Sorry for not quoting it, guess I should've.

I think the "relative" aspect is a red herring. Does it make it better that we're calling anyone who can't (yet) squat 1.5x their body weight and do 8 pull-ups "weak"?

He's not saying that people who can't squat 1.5x their body weight and do 8 pull-ups are weak, full stop. As the article says, this is about "reasonable rates of progress" over a given amount of time: two years, in this case. Someone who could meet roughly half that goal (0.75x bodyweight squat, 4 pull-ups) after a year of consistent training would be right on target... and yes, I think that's a pretty fair criteria for not being weak. Plenty of men can do nearly as much without any training at all.
posted by vorfeed at 10:17 PM on December 5, 2011


I read the article. I still don't see why we have to call people "weak" at all in order to have a conversation about training. I think it's unnecessary and unlikely to be helpful. But at this point I think we're going in circles so I'm going to stop here.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:02 PM on December 5, 2011


Thanks, schroedinger.
posted by surenoproblem at 11:05 PM on December 5, 2011


You will also find (assuming your form is correct and training progressive) that your rate of injury vastly decreases as your postural control, rate of force development, joint stability,flexibility, muscular endurance and a host of other physical attributes are rapidly improved.

You'll also be able to crap gold and turn invisible at will. I kid, but seriously though UbuRoivas, I would be really interested to hear how this works out for you. There's a reason 5x5 are pared down to 3 times a week and I'd like to hear if you can make it work for you. Personally, I wouldn't flat out suggest 5x5 for a martial artist unless I gathered a few things about them, but it might work out for you. The martial artists I know who are bigger and like to strength train do it by sacrificing certain aspects of their martial arts and their training.

I still don't see why we have to call people "weak" at all in order to have a conversation about training.

Unfortunately, it's kind of a thing for Rippetoe and SS acolytes. This is would be an apropos comment from the AMA:

In general, a stronger man is more useful in a tight spot than a weaker man

Although, I don't think Rippetoe, or Berkhan, looks down upon "weak" people, but they do hold strength as a guiding principle. Which isn't necessarily a bad as far as a training pov is concerned, but that's aside from using it as a hammer because everything looks like a nail. It is undeniably a wacky premise to raise up as an ideology, especially since it sounds like it comes straight out of a Robert E. Howard novel.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:47 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Listener,

Would you consider ironman triathalon athletes to be in poor physical shape?

Here's a beginner's Ironman training website.

1. This preparation plan covers 20 weeks.
...
4. No gym strength sessions are planned. The hours are already quite high for the average working person and most people will benefit with more rest rather than hitting the gym and requiring further recovery.


Now imagine if a triathlete trainer filled a website with comments about how people who do heavy lifting instead of lots of cardio are out of shape, are wasting their time in the gym, and are just 'fuckingaround' with the barbells. I think most strength trainers would consider that pretty obnoxious, and might even post a comment or two to that effect.
posted by eye of newt at 11:54 PM on December 5, 2011


Empirically grounded evolutionary biology: All those sad undergrads studying evolutionary psychology because it gives easy and just so answers are wasting their time and either their's or their parent's money while leaving important and answerable questions about the nature of our world unasked. Their professors can go fuck themselves.


Evolutionary psychology is accepted in the field of biology. Are you claiming that Edward O. Wilson isn't an empirically grounded evolutionary biologist?
posted by Human Flesh at 5:40 AM on December 6, 2011


Look, enough with the comments about this guy's body. He's flexing and that's exaggerating his look--he's probably practiced flexing and that's exaggerating it further.

If someone is standing up and saying, "Follow my advice if you wanna look like THIS!" I don't see anything wrong with people saying, "No. I don't wanna look anything like that."
posted by straight at 11:13 AM on December 6, 2011


I don't see anything wrong with people saying, "No. I don't wanna look anything like that."

Or:

You look like Dr. Zoidberg in an undercooked pastry crust.

That's like the goatse of chests

if you want to look like something in the Body Worlds exhibits.

His shirtless torso looks like Homer Simpson.

posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2011


""Evolutionary psychology is accepted in the field of biology. Are you claiming that Edward O. Wilson isn't an empirically grounded evolutionary biologist?"

As much as I love E. O. Wilson, and as awesome as his sociobiology can get, just because evolutionary psychologists have somehow managed to get the critical mass and undergraduate interest necessary to fund themselves doesn't mean that a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between "is" and "aught" is a science.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:17 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't see anything wrong with people saying, "No. I don't wanna look anything like that."

Nowhere did he say "This is what you do to look like THIS." Trainers often include images of their body and/or athletic accomplishments as proof that they know what they're doing. I think it is clear that, even if it is a look you have no desire to achieve, his physique lends itself to the idea that he knows what he's doing.

Again . . . I think this is projection here. People see pictures of fit guy, feel judged, react negatively.
posted by schroedinger at 2:51 PM on December 6, 2011


Yeah, but I'm saying that putting that picture out there as "proof that [he] knows what [he's] doing" is like Rob Liefeld using this as "proof" that he knows how to draw.
posted by straight at 3:25 PM on December 6, 2011


I don't see the comparison, straight. Berkhan is in really good, and fit, condition. The picture is bad because it is at an odd angle and has bad lighting, but that just means he probably should have someone else take a decent pic for him rather than setting up his own camera in the bathroom.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:58 PM on December 6, 2011


Evolutionary psychology isn't fringe science. Selective pressures influenced the flow of genes that code for nervous and endocrine systems just as they influenced the genes that code for other parts of an animal's body.
posted by Human Flesh at 4:25 PM on December 6, 2011


I think it is clear that, even if it is a look you have no desire to achieve, his physique lends itself to the idea that he knows what he's doing.
That contention strikes me as utterly bizarre. All it says is that he knows how to achieve that physique. It doesn't, for instance, say whether he has paid a price in terms of his physical or mental health for achieving that physique. It doesn't say whether the methods he used to achieve that physique would serve the goals of people who have no desire to look like him.
posted by craichead at 5:03 PM on December 6, 2011


That contention strikes me as utterly bizarre. All it says is that he knows how to achieve that physique. It doesn't, for instance, say whether he has paid a price in terms of his physical or mental health for achieving that physique. It doesn't say whether the methods he used to achieve that physique would serve the goals of people who have no desire to look like him.

It sounds like you're suggesting that he might have an eating/working-out disorder?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:21 PM on December 6, 2011


It sounds like you're suggesting that he might have an eating/working-out disorder?
I'm suggesting that it's really weird to say "this guy has an extreme physique to which a tiny proportion of the population aspires, and therefore everyone in the world should listen to his advice about diet and exercise." It doesn't logically follow.

But yes, I think it's possible that he has an eating or working out disorder. It's also possible that he uses steroids. It's further possible that his diet and eating habits are totally healthy for him but would be very unhealthy for some other people.
posted by craichead at 5:26 PM on December 6, 2011


Sorry, exercise and eating habits. It's been a long day, and my brain is tired.
posted by craichead at 5:30 PM on December 6, 2011


If I want to achieve something, I heed the advice of people who are better at it than I currently am. I may not necessarily wish to engage in that pursuit as deeply as those experts, but I'd be an idiot not to trust their advice about reaching lesser goals along the same path. It would be as absurd as saying a formula 1 champion can teach me nothing about driving because he drives fast.

Berkhan's picture serves as credential that he is highly accomplished in the field of body recomposition, and his lifting numbers speak to the quality of his athletic abilities. People read his blog for precisely those two things.

Don't worry though, I'm sure he has many other ghastly failings as a human being we can console ourselves with. I for one suspect his penmanship is atrocious.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:49 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I want to achieve something, I heed the advice of people who are better at it than I currently am.
I want to achieve the goal of being physically and emotionally healthy. I have no idea whether he's physically or emotionally healthy, and therefore I don't consider his advice any more credible than any other person's advice. And while it's great that some people want to excel at the field of "body recomposition," they have no business at all implying that other people have less of a right to be in the gym than they do.
posted by craichead at 5:55 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I want to be a good cook. Frankly I'm not at all aware of Gordon Ramsay's well-roundedness as a human being, or what his life expectancy is, and I don't wish to be a professional cook, but I still follow his recipes.

And I quite like it when he shouts at the bad cooks to improve or get out of the kitchen, because their presence is detrimental to both the good cooks and to themselves.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 6:42 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


One would think before throwing around accusations of eating disorders and steroid use one would actually read more of his articles, his training philosophy, his reasoning behind said philosophy, etc and then deciding whether there is a basis for any of it. But that does not really fulfill our victim fantasies, does it?
posted by schroedinger at 6:53 PM on December 6, 2011


schroedinger, you said "People see pictures of fit guy, feel judged, react negatively." and I'm trying to explain that to me, he doesn't look fit. He looks like he's done weird, extreme, and questionable things to make his body look weird and extreme.

Maybe this post, in spite of its generic, "how not waste time in the gym" headline isn't really meant for people like me who aren't part of that world. But from the tone of your posts, I think you and some his other defenders don't realize how really extreme and bizarre body builders look to some of us outsiders. It's really not something I feel jealous or insecure about. It's just alien.
posted by straight at 7:02 PM on December 6, 2011


FYI, if you were to pass this man in the street, you likely wouldn't look twice at him.

The picture is arranged to emphasise his physique, employing such things as strong overhead lighting, very intense flexing, and quite probably a state of controlled dehydration in the optimal stages of a meticulously-executed temporary dietary regimen. It's called bodybuilding. I'm not au courant on its purported dangers, but I'd guess that more people have died falling off barstools whilst attempting to catch a tossed peanut than have been unequivocally killed by this particular endeavour.

And I would say the article is intended for everybody, efficacy and common sense being generally desirable in all areas of life, comforts of mediocrity and ignorance notwithstanding.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 7:25 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


FYI, if you were to pass this man in the street, you likely wouldn't look twice at him.

Yeah, for fear he might take it the wrong way & beat the crap out of me. His forearms are the size of most peoples' legs, fer chrissakes.

Plus, he'd surely have that ungainly, bodybuilder's walking-with-arms-out-at-45-degrees-as-if-carrying-an-invisible-dwarf-under-each-arm kind of movement.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:03 PM on December 6, 2011


I believe the technical term is "penguin walk".
posted by P.o.B. at 9:38 PM on December 6, 2011


Not really, because fitness enthusiasm ≠ roid rage psychosis, and correct weightlifting ≠ internally-rotated humeral alignment.

I think if anyone has a properly developed understanding of human posture, gait and kinesiology, it's a qualified personal trainer who looks like an anatomy chart.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:41 PM on December 6, 2011


Plus, he'd surely have that ungainly, bodybuilder's walking-with-arms-out-at-45-degrees-as-if-carrying-an-invisible-dwarf-under-each-arm kind of movement.

Do you actually know any bodybuilders? Seriously, do you? Because I know male and female national-level, professional bodybuilders. I know strongmen who deadlift 800# at 220#, I've met guys who competed at Worlds Strongest Man, international-level Highlands Games competitors, women who squat nearly three times their bodyweight for reps, guys who bench press 550#, and nobody, nobody, not even the 6'4'', 308# ex-pro bodybuilder-turned-elite-powerlifter who is surely the most muscular guy I have ever met, walks like that. Do you know any of those kinds of people outside your fucking Planet Fitness commercials?

I'll back away now. You people assume that strong people are steroid-filled idiots while you are smart, and therefore you must naturally know more than them even if they've been involved in strength sports their entire lives. You assume everyone fit is probably distorted and mentally unbalanced because you are so used to being surrounded by the "jocks R dum" groupthink. You are so wrapped up in your insecurities and bigotry about the simple act of lifting weights that you have no conception of how deeply your ignorance runs. Excellent work, Metafilter. Debunk those fitness myths like how "strength" and "not being fat" can be correlated with "fitness" and "health". You showed that guy, making fun of his distasteful muscles and preference for making actual progress in the gym! Excellent work.
posted by schroedinger at 11:21 PM on December 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I could be wrong but I think Ubu was making a joke about the stereotypical ideas that tend to surround "meatheads". Perhaps he wasn't, or it was mistimed, but I thought it was funny.

Also, the handwavey pretense arguments need a rest.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:54 PM on December 6, 2011


You people assume that strong people are steroid-filled idiots while you are smart, and therefore you must naturally know more than them even if they've been involved in strength sports their entire lives. You assume everyone fit is probably distorted and mentally unbalanced because you are so used to being surrounded by the "jocks R dum" groupthink. You are so wrapped up in your insecurities and bigotry about the simple act of lifting weights that you have no conception of how deeply your ignorance runs.
This is such an unhinged reading of our exchange.

So he proclaimed that everyone in the gym should be doing what he does, and if not they're wasting space. Various people here objected. You said that if you look at his body, you can tell that he knows what he's talking about. I said that I go to the gym to be physically and emotionally healthy, and you can't tell from looking at his body whether he's either. You also can't tell whether I would be either if I followed his program, because people are different and one person's healthy regimen can be another person's recipe for unhealthy obsession. I'm not accusing him of anything. I'm just saying that it is possible to have big muscles and not be healthy, so looking at his body doesn't tell me whether I should obey his fitness dictates.

All that stuff about groupthink and hating jocks is your hangup and your projection. I don't have a problem with jocks, and I don't have a problem with weightlifting. I do have a problem with the idea that there's only one acceptable fitness goal and one acceptable way to get there. And the weightlifting folks here really do come off as rigid and fanatical.
posted by craichead at 11:58 PM on December 6, 2011


WTF? That was a bizarre rant. Up until around 7 years ago, I did nothing but lift free weights for years, and in my observation there are *tons* of guys who do the "sure, I would put my arms down by my side, but my LATS ARE JUST TOO GODDAMN HUGE!11!!!" penguin walk (tips hat to P.o.B). Maybe not at the professional / national level you talk about, but at the local gym, shit yeah. It's almost a condition of entry.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:02 AM on December 7, 2011


I don't have a problem with jocks, and I don't have a problem with weightlifting.

You compared weightlifting to an eating disorder twice, and you said it was narcissistic and shallow.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:30 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


You compared weightlifting to an eating disorder twice, and you said it was narcissistic and shallow.
Yeah, no. I said that the way that certain members here talk about it reminded me of the mentality of people with eating disorders. I also said that I didn't assume that an enormously muscled man was healthy, because he could have got that way through disordered eating or steroid use. Neither of those things is "comparing weightlifting to an eating disorder." And I said that the obsession with aesthetics on that page, the assumption that one would pour hours and hours into one's body in order to look a certain way, struck me as narcissistic and shallow, although I recognize that's an unfair impulse and try to fight it. Are you saying that all weight-lifters are motivated by the desire to achieve a certain look? Because that's certainly not my impression.
posted by craichead at 5:23 AM on December 7, 2011


You've given the impression that you're personally offended by this guy's blog post, you've attributed to him both issues and bad motives that are not present in his article ("they have no business at all implying that other people have less of a right to be in the gym than they do"), and you've kept it up like you're still damaged by your time in high school. As far as I'm concerned, if anyone is guilty of reading their own "hangups and projections" into this situation, it's you.

schroedinger's point has been consistently and well-stated throughout this thread: 1) The post was confrontational but filled with good information, and it was directed at a specific group of people who think they are doing something correctly but are not; 2) the negative reactions from people in this thread savor of ignorance, projective resentment, and hurt feelings, but are largely unwarranted because the poster was not talking to you if you aren't engaged in the problems he identified; 3) discussions of his looks that offer negative value judgments (note that this leaves room for simply saying "I would not like to look like that") are unwarranted, offensive, and would not be tolerated by many of the people making them if they were directed toward someone, eg, fat. I think she's correct on all counts. (Although I think she misread the humor in the post that sent her over the top.)
posted by OmieWise at 5:56 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Plus, he'd surely have that ungainly, bodybuilder's walking-with-arms-out-at-45-degrees-as-if-carrying-an-invisible-dwarf-under-each-arm kind of movement.

Do you actually know any bodybuilders?


Yes. Junior High gym coach for three years. Walked exactly like that. I didn't even know this was a cliche before I saw him.

The same gym coach who called people into his office to paddle them and was in charge of the class where I got teased and slammed against the lockers.

My bodybuilding brothers, you have some very bad brand ambassadors.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:00 AM on December 7, 2011


"How to stop wasting time at video games!"

"I have the world's highest score in Donkey Kong! Those kids with their silly neon green XBoxes are just wasting their time. Wake up sheeple! You're never gonna get a high score in Donkey Kong by fooling around with your stupid Call of Duty games! If you're not focusing on jumping over barrels and swinging hammers, you're gonna be weak at video games and that's a fact."

Uh. Not really interested in Donkey Kong here.

"Oh yeah? Check out the score in this screenshot! I'm sorry some people see pictures of a massive high score, feel judged, resentful, jealous, and then start making negative comments."
posted by straight at 9:16 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


benito.strauss, what you have encountered in an asshole. You want to take that up with the asshole community.

(FYI again - the silly arms-out gait mentioned above is actually a surefire way to spot someone with terrible lifting habits dominated by bench pressing, curling and situps. Too much pressing and too little pulling rotates the humeral head inwards, resulting most prominently in sideways-pointing elbows and monkey hands. George W. Bush has this for some reason. I guess he must be a big bencher.)
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:51 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


* is an asshole
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:52 AM on December 7, 2011


You've given the impression that you're personally offended by this guy's blog post, you've attributed to him both issues and bad motives that are not present in his article ("they have no business at all implying that other people have less of a right to be in the gym than they do"),
Here's what he says:
"I See Weak People"


In my dreams? No. In gyms? Yes. Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're weak.

The afflicted are everywhere; the Shape Magazine-reading receptionist who greets you at the gym, the 135-lb skinny-fat PT who tells you that deadlifts are off limits, the bandana wearing bro in the cable-cross machine and the guy with entire day devoted to "abs". All of them suffer to varying degrees of the debilitating disorder known as fuckarounditis. Yes, even you might be among the afflicted. Today you shall find out if there is cause for alarm....

Finally, there are those who are all but lost and for whom there is little hope of a cure. Unfortunately, these people will probably never read this. They are too busy emulating the latest bodybuilding pro, doing the Biceps Blaster routine, or rolling around on a Swiss Ball somewhere.

How can you tell if you are suffering from the fuckarounditis? Ultimately, it boils down to your results and whether your progress is reasonable relative to the time you put in.
He's not just talking about his readership, whom he implies consists of bodybuilders who are mostly motivated by aesthetics. He's talking about everyone, including the frigging receptionist. It's "unfortunate" that these people won't read his article, according to him. So this is not just advice aimed at people like him. He's clearly judging the rest of us by his weird, limited criteria.

I've been going to the gym for a long time, and I've seen all sorts of results. I sleep better. I'm more flexible. I can hold a plank for two minutes. My balance is better. I feel better about my body. None of these results mean anything to him or to schroedinger or to you, and that's too bad and kind of weird. But they're meaningful to me, and they mean that I am not fucking around when I'm at the gym, whatever the bodybuilding set may think of the validity of my goals or progress.
2) the negative reactions from people in this thread savor of ignorance, projective resentment, and hurt feelings, but are largely unwarranted because the poster was not talking to you if you aren't engaged in the problems he identified;
That's funny. You're ascribing all sorts of weird motives and attitudes to people, but they're the ones who are projecting?

And yes, as I said, it's personal. I wasn't really picked on in high school, but I've fought really hard against all sorts of body angst, and it's taken a long time and a lot of work for me to feel comfortable at the gym. People like him make it harder for people like me to feel like we're entitled to be in a space that is very intimidating for a lot of folks. They don't care, which is... kind of obnoxious, really. And being annoyed by that doesn't make one a weakling or fat or mediocre or any of the other insults that the weightlifting assholes like to heap on everyone who has different goals than they do.
posted by craichead at 11:11 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's not just talking about his readership, whom he implies consists of bodybuilders who are mostly motivated by aesthetics. He's talking about everyone, including the frigging receptionist.

You mean the receptionist who is "reading Shape magazine"?

Again, he went out of his goddamned way to make it clear that he wasn't talking about people who aren't interested in aesthetics.
posted by vorfeed at 11:56 AM on December 7, 2011


Wait, is he talking about bodybulding/aesthetics, or powerlifting/strength now? The metrics he offered (eg deadlift X times bodyweight) are not the same thing as aesthetic bodybuilding.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2011


As he said in the article, "For someone interested in aesthetics, which I assume most my readers are, relative strength is the single best measure of progress and the quality of your physique". I'm sure many bodybuilders would disagree, but I think this makes perfect sense if you're going for a natural and functional look.
posted by vorfeed at 1:38 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would probably help if I (re)read the article before making snarky remarks.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:46 PM on December 7, 2011


[insert tagline joke here]
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:47 PM on December 7, 2011


I've never been much of a gym rat, but I have spent serious, dedicated effort over years to be a good, fast runner (as a young man, sprints, later in distance). This guy might even find me guilty of fuckaround-itis in the gym, but all of his advice seems sound and echoes my own experience with training in running.

That is, focus on fundamentals, measurement and results. Put down the magazines, throw away the toys and the gimmicks and get serious.

I've seen similar fuckaround-itis on the track, on group runs, hearing people talking about their goals and then hearing about their running routines. I won't go into details for the sake of brevity, but just about everything the guy says here sounds like practical, "take what you're doing seriously," advice.

As for the tone, you can take it or leave it. It's clearly a rant, but I've never had a coach who wouldn't be sympathetic to most or all of what he's saying here.
posted by scelerat at 2:05 PM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's funny. You're ascribing all sorts of weird motives and attitudes to people, but they're the ones who are projecting?

That's not projection, that's my opinion, which you have confirmed. And yes, as I said, it's personal.
posted by OmieWise at 2:45 PM on December 7, 2011


the silly arms-out gait mentioned above is actually a surefire way to spot someone with terrible lifting habits dominated ...

Not quite. I've known quite a few guys who are actually muscular enough in their upper back that it does cause their arms to jut out to their sides and in rare cases their upper body mobility is impeded. Some people may think it's a quality problem to not be able to wipe your own bum, but my friend didn't seem to appreciate it. To be clear, that is rare though.
Although, anybody who squats and deads seriously should know that hamstring development through their inner thighs can cause chafing, thus the waddle type walk of a penguin. That is also dependant on the person and isn't something you just get from lifting.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:07 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's not projection, that's my opinion
That's funny! So if you assume things about other people's motives it's an "opinion," but if other people assume things about yours it's "projection".
which you have confirmed. And yes, as I said, it's personal.
No, not really. It's personal, because I really battle the idea that I don't belong in the gym, and shit like this doesn't help. But I wasn't picked on in high school, I don't "assume everyone fit is probably distorted and mentally unbalanced because [I am] so used to being surrounded by the 'jocks R dum' groupthink", and I'm not bigoted against weightlifters. And I've got to say that the weightlifters here have some weird and self-serving assumptions about people here who don't agree with you.
posted by craichead at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2011


Yeah, I should have just let it go. I don't, ultimately, care about your motives, and you're certainly entitled to your reactions. Good luck in the gym (seriously).
posted by OmieWise at 3:43 PM on December 7, 2011


craichead: "I've been going to the gym for a long time, and I've seen all sorts of results. I sleep better. I'm more flexible. I can hold a plank for two minutes. My balance is better. I feel better about my body."

Then, by virtue of this, you are not among those people the article is decrying.

It's unfortunate that you still feel uncomfortable in the gym despite your determination and progress. My advice is to find some venue for exercise that doesn't give you that impression.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 3:44 PM on December 7, 2011


« Older Last dictator standing   |   Peter Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post