Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Novice Effect
March 10, 2010 1:07 PM   Subscribe

The conventional wisdom says that in the best of circumstances, a male beginner weight trainee cannot hope to gain more than a maximum of 2 pounds of muscle per month. Enter Mark Rippetoe, author and gym owner, and his 20-year-old trainee Zach Evetts. Zach gained 2.84 pounds of muscle a week. In his article "The Novice Effect," (PDF) Rippetoe explains Zach's results and why they're not surprising.

In the course of increasing his bodyweight from 162# to 242# in less than a year of training, Zach has increased his squat from 145# x 5 to 345# x 5. Zach's progress was met with some skepticism, notably from author Lyle McDonald. In response, Rippetoe posted 2 videos of Zach's latest workout, squatting 320# 5x5.
posted by ludwig_van (108 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those are some impressive results.
posted by killdevil at 1:18 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


So... we're looking at anecdata for someone's gym? On an FPP? Seriously?
posted by valkyryn at 1:19 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, that dude is ripped.
posted by rusty at 1:20 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know shit about weight training, but some of that article is pure poetry:
First thing we need to get out of the way:
strength is the basis of athletic ability. If you are
a good athlete,
you are stronger than a less-good athlete. If you want to be
a better athlete,
you get stronger. If you are
already very strong,
there is room
in your training
for the development
of other
aspects of
performance.

But there is a very high likelihood that you are not that strong
since most people are not.

You may think you’re very strong, but really,
you know you could get
stronger,
don’t you?
Sure you do.
...
If your progress
is stuck,
and has been
for a while,
get stronger and see what happens.
It works every time,
and
this is why I know it’s true.
posted by muddgirl at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


killdevil: "Those are some impressive results."

Bully whippet.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:22 PM on March 10, 2010


Seriously, that dude is ripped.

Tell me about it. [nsfw]
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:26 PM on March 10, 2010


Just a note: TheWhiteSkull's link is NSFW and has a cartoon horse cock in it.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:28 PM on March 10, 2010


If only everyone would waste less time on general fitness and learn to squat thrust like a motherfucker. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to raise a 300# sack of grain 4 feet off the ground onto the flat bed and wished I had spent more time on my squat technique.
posted by docpops at 1:30 PM on March 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just a note: If you work at a horse-cock illustration studio WhiteSkull's link may be seen as plagiarism.
posted by docpops at 1:31 PM on March 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


And yes, he gained about 24 pounds of fat, none of which you can see very well and all of which will come off very easily when it becomes an issue.

It's undetectable.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 1:34 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just a note: I will sleep less well tonight as a result of looking at that photo.
posted by nevercalm at 1:34 PM on March 10, 2010


Drawing. Sigh.
posted by nevercalm at 1:35 PM on March 10, 2010


I have seen, in actual writing by a supposedly intelligent academic, the astonishingly silly claim that even if a linear increase in strength could be produced, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way to get strong. Well, what in the hell would be the best way to get strong? Get as strong in 6 months as an optimally designed and implemented program could get you in three weeks? Time is precious, my friends, and wasting it is bad because you don’t ever get it back.

I agree with this statement as long as the form is good enough to avoid injury. Otherwise you are potentially looking at wasting a hell of a lot more time than 6 months.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:35 PM on March 10, 2010


73kg to 110kg in less than a year.

No pharmaceuticals? What's he eating?
posted by the cuban at 1:36 PM on March 10, 2010


Beefcake!
posted by Nelson at 1:37 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The worse shape you're in, compared to your optimum, the better your results will be when you start to exercise. So this guy was a natural athlete who was extremely sedentary before he started.

Once you hit your optimum, further gains are slow and difficult.

A bit of weight training is a good thing in general, because it doesn't take much to increase your lean muscle ratio.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:37 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


No pharmaceuticals? What's he eating?

A gallon of milk a day and all the slower weightlifters in the gym, I think.
posted by maudlin at 1:38 PM on March 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


Zach may be the face of success, but those aren't the love handles of success.
posted by gurple at 1:39 PM on March 10, 2010


Metafilter: NSFW and has a cartoon horse cock in it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:41 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just a note: I will sleep less well tonight as a result of looking at that photo.

Media sensationalism notwithstanding, incidents of pencil-drawn bodybuilder horsecock attacks are on the decline in most urban areas.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rippetoe's Starting Strength is very effective, if done right.

It's simple, doesn't take too much time, and does what it says on the tin. You get stronger. Reliably stronger.

Squatting rocks.
posted by flippant at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


No pharmaceuticals? What's he eating?

What isn't he eating?

Also, check out the very end of the camera #2 video. (SPOILER: It's milk)

So this guy was a natural athlete who was extremely sedentary before he started.

A truly gifted athlete would be lifting a lot more -- see the description of Bryan Fox in The Novice Effect, who started at a bodyweight of 203 and a 365 x 5 x 3 squat. Following a novice progression got him to a 515 x 5 x 3 squat at a bodyweight of 216 less than 6 months later. The point of the article is that Zach isn't particular exceptional save for his level of commitment/adherence.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2010


The worse shape you're in, compared to your optimum, the better your results will be when you start to exercise.

This is exactly my fitness plan. I just need to gain another 10 pounds or so before I start working out. Exercise, here I come! Next week, or maybe the week after.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


[nsfw'ed the horse cock. people, please.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:45 PM on March 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Media sensationalism notwithstanding, incidents of pencil-drawn bodybuilder horsecock attacks are on the decline in most urban areas.

"How pencil-drawn bodybuilder horsecocks could smother you in your sleep. Tonight on Action 11 news."
posted by cashman at 1:49 PM on March 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I know Rippetoe has said that Zach is pretty damn average, at least compared to some of the other beasts he has at the gym.

I follow the program. I'm still on a linear progression. It works. Forty pounds later my 1RM squat is getting close to 400lbs. Judging by my poor use of calipers and a tape measure, I've gained about 25lbs. of muscle. Proof that you don't need to be new to lifting to be considered a novice.
posted by Loto at 1:52 PM on March 10, 2010


Great post. I think the Starting Strength program is really something special; the combination of extreme detail (on form and exercise mechanics) and extreme simplicity (in the program itself) sets this book apart from the rest. It's so easy as a beginner to end up spending too much time on isolation exercises (and often with poor form!), so there's something to be said for a program which concentrates on doing just a few effective compound exercises, gives you the proper form in detail, and gives you the theory behind it.

As far as I'm concerned, there are few life investments one can make with a better return than this book, a weight-room membership, and one hour three times a week.
posted by vorfeed at 1:56 PM on March 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


"And later in health news: A new antioxidant wonder-food that cuts your risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, kidney failure, osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction, and non-Hodgekins lymphoma, and you probably already have it in your pantry. Horsecock: a new study may indicate it's better for you than you think.

But first weather on the fives with meteorologist Steve Reich."

"IT'S GONNA RAIN!"
posted by rusty at 1:58 PM on March 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Forty pounds later my 1RM squat is getting close to 400lbs.

ORLY? How close is close, mothalicka?

P.S. If you're doing the novice program, how come you know your 1RM? (WINKY-FACE)
posted by ludwig_van at 2:00 PM on March 10, 2010


I don't know my 1rm yet. As a 170lbs guy, my 5x3 squat is 260-odd lbs. My core/lower back/ab strength isn't up to snuff, as I keep bending forward going up. Maybe I should get a belt.
posted by flippant at 2:04 PM on March 10, 2010


[nsfw'ed the horse cock. people, please.]

Why not just delete it? It adds nothing to the thread.
posted by rocket88 at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


nsfw'ed the horse cock.

This needs to be a bit of lingo from a new ridiculously dangerous extreme sport. "Dude, did you see that? He totally just nsfw'ed the horse cock!"
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why not just delete it? It adds nothing to the thread.

Because then I'd have to delete a ton of follow-up comments which increases collateral damage.
posted by jessamyn at 2:15 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once you hit your optimum, further gains are slow and difficultimpossible by definition.

FTFY
posted by DU at 2:20 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why not just delete it? It adds nothing to the thread.

Oh, I do so disagree. It is the thing that defines the thread.
posted by docpops at 2:23 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why not just delete it? It adds nothing to the thread.

It adds something. Namely, horse cock.
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:23 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Starting strength is absolutely the real deal. However, if you're interested in doing it, you should read the book if you don't possess an abundance of weight lifting knowledge already. In addition to the book, a lot of information can be found on the Starting Strength wiki.

Also, if you want to track your progress in Starting Strength (or some of the variants), it can be done on the WithFit (n.b. the site is in beta and I am one of the creators).
posted by christonabike at 2:35 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hoarse Cox.
posted by Kabanos at 2:44 PM on March 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


What good is a lifting program if I can't pull out my horsecock to compare at the gym?!

This week is a rest week from squats for me... so of course I tried a 1RM squat because I just can't quit them. I hit 390 once I found a position that didn't kill my elbows (the reason for the deload, need to let the inflammation go down a bit while I fix my grip). I'm pretty much built to squat and nothing else... I've had to reset bench, press and deadlifts while I haven't had to do anything to my squat except keep piling the 5lbs increments.

GOMAD definitely helped in the beginning. As did ice cream and all you can eat Mexican buffets.

How's the mustache coming? Go full Lemmy yet? I'm pretty sure that'd give you another 50lbs.
posted by Loto at 2:52 PM on March 10, 2010


So should I go with Stronglift's 5x5, one of those in this thread, or take it to AskMe?
posted by mr.marx at 3:14 PM on March 10, 2010


I follow HorseFit's Cock of the Day.
posted by benzenedream at 3:42 PM on March 10, 2010


Once you hit your optimum, further gains are slow and difficultimpossible by definition.

Everyone talks about the optimum, but never the pessimum.

I'm finding that slow and steady progress towards the latter is not particularly difficult.
posted by zippy at 3:49 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


mudgirl, Mark Rippetoe is the straight-shootin' cowboy poet of iron as you have illustrated for us. I love the way he opens his post in the "2.84 pounds..." link: Okay, you assmunches. I also love that Rip has his belt on with the chalk from the bar all across the back of his t-shirt in that first video. What a guy. Yes, I belong to the Church of Starting Strength.

Zach made some impressive progress. Yeah, it looks like he's got some fat on him. The point isn't that he's a little fatter. It's that he's much stronger and under that fat is more muscle. He's not ripped, he doesn't look like a body builder, or like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. He's a novice trainee. He's not interested in getting ripped or looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 4:00 PM on March 10, 2010


I have a lot of patients like Zach. I call them future hypertensive diabetics.
posted by docpops at 4:05 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


mudgirl, Mark Rippetoe is the straight-shootin' cowboy poet of iron as you have illustrated for us.

OK, I lied. I DO know a little bit about weight training, and have thought about getting Starting Strength.
posted by muddgirl at 4:11 PM on March 10, 2010


So should I go with Stronglift's 5x5, one of those in this thread, or take it to AskMe?

To me, the major difference between Rippetoe's program and similar systems is the book. If you're detail-oriented and you want to know why the proper form is proper, or exactly how to get your form in line, get Starting Strength and do it Rippetoe's way. The guy wrote 60 pages on the squat alone, with tons of photos, so you'll get your money's worth.

If you already know the proper way to do all the exercises, or you're a learn-by-doing type and can get a trainer to teach you, then the book isn't as important.

The main difference between the two programs is that Rippetoe's Starting Strength Beginner program uses a weighted exercise (power cleans) and has you do 3 sets of 5 reps, while Stronglifts has a bodyweight exercise (inverted rows), and has you do 5 sets of 5 reps. Stronglifts throws in a couple more bodyweight exercises to boot. The trade-offs: Starting Strength will take less time to do and involves lifting heavier weights, BUT involves more challenge in learning the proper form; Stronglifts will be more fatiguing, BUT you'll be lifting more in terms of volume. I personally prefer Starting Strength (I like the Practical Programming Novice Program best of the ones I linked to above, actually), because fatigue is a major issue -- it's easier to stall and/or simply give up the program with Stronglifts than with Starting Strength. That said, either program will work.

Eat well, rest well, start light, don't compromise form, and slowly but steadily increase the weight. This is all that matters. As long as you're doing that, any system which combines heavy weights with compound movements will be effective.
posted by vorfeed at 4:41 PM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


flippant: As a 170lbs guy, my 5x3 squat is 260-odd lbs. My core/lower back/ab strength isn't up to snuff, as I keep bending forward going up. Maybe I should get a belt.

If you're following the program, i.e. you started at the correct weight with good form and proceeded in proper increments, squatting should make your core strong enough to keep progressing on the squat. You could try a belt and see if you find it helpful, but at those weights a technical issue seems more likely. Try taking a video and posting it on the training forum at startingstrength.com.

Loto: My squat and DL are much better than my bench and press too. I struggled with the low bar position for awhile and went through some nasty shoulder pain, but now it's second nature. I've retired my moustache for the moment, but I squatted an easy 385x1 last Saturday, so I've got my eye on 4 plates.

mr.marx: So should I go with Stronglift's 5x5, one of those in this thread, or take it to AskMe?

I got into training through stronglifts, but I didn't really know what I was doing until I read SS. Programming-wise, stronglifts is basically SS with some tweaks. I don't think any of the tweaks make the program better, so I don't see much point in doing stronglifts over SS. And the material on stronglifts is certainly no substitute for the instruction and diagrams in SS.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:03 PM on March 10, 2010


I have a lot of patients like Zach. I call them future hypertensive diabetics.

It's funny because it's true.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:20 PM on March 10, 2010


Neither funny nor true, in fact. Hey docpops, what kind of training program are your patients following, and what kind of weights are they putting up?
posted by ludwig_van at 7:24 PM on March 10, 2010


No, it was funny and true. The horse cock was just funny.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:39 PM on March 10, 2010


Cool, thanks for your contribution!
posted by ludwig_van at 7:44 PM on March 10, 2010


Welcome.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:48 PM on March 10, 2010


I've been going to the gym for years. I'm 41 now and I first started going when I was a teenager. I took a couple years off after my old gym closed, the new gym frankly sucked for lifters. Too crowded, not enough weights and the final straw was when one of the trainers mumbled to a girl at the gym who said I had had a huge chest that I used steroids.

I finally started going back to the gym in October and I've been following one of the Starting Strength programs. I wish I'd known this program when I was a teenager! I compete against myself, track things excessively with a spreadsheet which appeals to my inner geek, which is also my outer geek.

I've damaged one shoulder in a ski accident just before the old gym shut it's doors so heavy bench presses are probably out of my reach. Since September 17th I've added 165 pounds to my squat (380 right now), 120 to my bench press (320) and 180 to my dead lift (425 at the moment). I've also taken my blood pressure down by about 15 systolic.

I'm no where near where I used to be but the steady weekly progress is great. My only deviations from the program is that I've maintained my caloric intake and that I've had a few weeks of vacation here and there.

I am genetically atypical, the paternal side of my family tends to be relatively powerful, but I also design integrated circuits for a living, so the only exercise I get during the day is moving my mouse. It is a really good program though. The progress every trip to the gym keeps my enthusiasm up and the programmed way of increasing weights while maintaining strict form has avoided any injuries.
posted by substrate at 7:49 PM on March 10, 2010


I actually have three or four power lifters in my practice and a dozen or more folks who probably left the sport behind a decade ago (now past fifty) who never really developed a real habit of exercise in addition to their weight lifting. Yes, as far as I can recall every one of them is carrying way too much weight and has elevated blood pressure. Carrying that much weight, no matter how strong one is, isn't healthy for your cardiovascular system.

But I get it. I spend M, W, Friday on the treadmill and in the pool. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for bench and free weights. And it's seductive and fun to be putting 225 overhead on the bench in my forties, until I injure my rotator cuff. But I would never be stupid enough to confuse brute strength with flexibility, overall strength and cardiovascular fitness for long term defense against injury, illness, cognitive decline and a whole host of other disasters.

When we think about chronic illness, injury prevention, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression, powerlifting and it's implied dependency on weight gain is sort of nauseating. It should not be conflated with fitness in the medically beneficial sense.
posted by docpops at 8:51 PM on March 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


docpops: Rippetoe doesn't train powerlifters -- he works primarily with novices training for general strength, like Zach used to be. This isn't a discussion of powerlifting per se.

Rotator cuff injuries are not uncommon among bench pressers (I believe Rippetoe no longer benches due to previous injuries), but especially among those who don't do any/enough overhead work. What was your ratio of benching to pressing when you injured yourself?

But I would never be stupid enough to confuse brute strength with flexibility, overall strength and cardiovascular fitness for long term defense against injury, illness, cognitive decline and a whole host of other disasters.

Confusing brute strength with flexibility would be stupid. I don't know what your distinction is between "brute strength" and "overall strength." Maximal strength and cardiovascular fitness aren't the same, but strength training can be beneficial for cardiovascular health. The cardiovascular system adapts to the stimulus of weight training just as muscle and bone do. This is discussed in Practical Programming, 2nd edition on pp. 70-72. Among the adaptations mentioned are an increase in the thickness of the muscle walls of the heart and a slight increase in VO2 max. And I've seen plenty of studies which correlate increased lean mass with long-term injury and disease prefvention. The point isn't that strength training is the be-all end-all of health, but I don't see how undertaking a novice progression could be anything but beneficial to anyone who can manage it, barring an injury in the weight room, and I don't see what's so unhealthy about being 6' 242 at 20% bodyfat.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:15 PM on March 10, 2010


Also, powerlifters and weightlifters in the lighter weight classes will tend to be lean, and those in the top weight classes will usually be less lean. Heavyweight lifters that compete at very high levels may well be sacrificing some aspects of their health in order to be elite competitors, but that tends to be true of any sport.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:19 PM on March 10, 2010


If only everyone would waste less time on general fitness and learn to squat thrust like a motherfucker. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to raise a 300# sack of grain 4 feet off the ground onto the flat bed and wished I had spent more time on my squat technique.

I have a lot of patients like Zach. I call them future hypertensive diabetics.


The squat is, without exaggeration, the least assailable movement ever to be performed with a goal of increased strength or fitness to criticize with respect to its functional nature. The only other movement that even deserves to be mentioned within the same breath is the deadlift, and you can go ask people stronger and fitter than me why they'd put the squat first. Everyone squats, and the reason why strong people like Mark Rippetoe train squats is precisely their perfect extensibility to virtually every human endeavor that requires strength or fitness. Generating hip-driven force with the feet planted on the floor is the foundation of...let's see...: the baseball swing, the jump shot, the pass in football (along with about a dozen other movements), the serve in tennis (again, along with every other tennis movement). The list just goes on, and on, and on. Why do so many sports involve hip-driven movement? Because as a percentage of mass, most of the muscle in your body is dedicated to hip flexion and extension, and thus, not surprisingly, it's hip drive at the heart of the most powerful movements that human beings are capable of. You could swing a baseball bat or throw a football without moving your hips, but you would suck.

It's no coincidence that people who squat a lot are some of the strongest and most fit in the world. I'd put, oh, say, a million dollars on the fact that the set of people with a sub-3-minute Fran and the set of hypertensive diabetics are entirely disjoint. If you can find me one single hypertensive diabetic in the world who can do Fran in under three minutes, I'll open my checkbook right then and there.

Why anatomically and physiologically do the back squat and its variants produce such strong, fit people? Mark Rippetoe or Lon Kilgore could teach you a lot about that, along with any number of people who have been safely and consistently in the business of making people strong and fit for years and years and years.

If you think people like Zach adding 200 lbs to their back squat is what's to blame for hypertension and diabetes, your ignorance of basic facts of human movement and fitness is just tragic, and you can bet it's what will keep you with a steady supply of hypertensive diabetics to pay the bills.
posted by holympus at 10:15 PM on March 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think docpops is talking about the kind of individual who focuses on strength training with little or no cardio effort. I would make the assumption that he's not got any crossfit patients. I suspect a lot of physicians see mostly examples of the worst strength trainers. The ones who know what they are doing are not going to show up in a docs office nearly as frequently.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:46 PM on March 10, 2010


I love exercise, and weights, and squats and shit, but when I see enthusiasts getting all "my way or the highway" about exercising, and then presuming to lecture a GP about health, I understand why Starting Strength and its adherents are such a divisive force on the internet.

There are lots of ways to exercise without hurting yourself, and lots of lots of reasons to do it - not just strength, not just to see numbers go up, etc etc. I can empathise with people who have found a routine that works for them, and want to share the thrill of seeing results, but I wish we didn't have to get so defensive every time someone offers a sometimes subjective and often legitimate criticism of one particular program, and then proclaim that our exercise is the one, true exercise. It's really very off-putting - and I say this as someone who made tremendous gains with Stronglifts last year.

Props to Zach for his achievements, and generating so much more of himself to love, however the idea of putting on pounds of muscle per week is so far in excess of so many peer-reviewed research papers by scientists that I, too, struggle to believe it. This does not detract from his improvements in strength, nor the validity and results many people on the program have achieved.

I would definitely agree with docpops that a deficiency of calories is not something westerners in general should be worrying about, nor that 'strength' is a reliable co-sign of health.
posted by smoke at 10:53 PM on March 10, 2010


I think there is a few important clarifications that needs to happen and a lot of people don't understand; either because of ideation or from ignorance, but it is a very large problem and only gets bigger when someone bangs the drums louder to deafen out other ideas.
When you step outside the context that weight training, in any variant it takes, is simply about getting stronger and that it is much more than a means to an end ie.: "I can lift X lbs while doing Y exercise."; than the idea that you are actually training your body for more than that should be instructive. If the idea of being "fit" has bearing on this conversation than we there really is an expansion on ideas that shouldn't be dismissed. A look at ExRx has a page on Fitness Components
, and there you go. Strength lands on a continuum of concepts along with Power, Speed, Endurance, etc.. There's a reason coaches and trainers compartmentalize those concepts, it's because they have to. You can't just take one of them, like say maximal strength, and crowbar into the others and announce "It works!". It doesn't, and that's not to say they aren't obviously interdependent either, but different training modalities exist for a reason.
Horsecocks aside, this is what the conversation should have included from the beginning.

On preview, it looks like I'm to late to comment, as the whole "strong" and "fit" conflation has already begun. Look, people, strength and fitness are not the same thing. They aren't mutually exclusive, but if you're going to say everyone who squats a lot of weight is in the best of health then you seriously need to learn what fitness is.

If you think people like Zach adding 200 lbs to their back squat is what's to blame for hypertension and diabetes,

No, Zach adding X amount of lbs to his frame just so he can bounce around more weight on a barbell will. It's the start down a long road to all kinds of problems. Hypertension and diabetes are on that road. I'd like to lay down some bets if you got a cool million laying around. Like say if we tallied up the people with problems to due to lifting in a hardcore gym as opposed to people who lift for general fitness you wouldn't be so quick to take me up on it.
But anyway congrats to Zach and If he's happy than more power to him.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:00 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Any part of my comment that suggested that I feel there is only one 'correct' way to exercise is respectfully withdrawn. I apologize if I suggested that because it was not my intention.

My comment was intended to correct docpop's intimations that the squat and its variants and related movements are not functional ("I cannot tell you how many times I have had to raise a 300# sack of grain 4 feet off the ground onto the flat bed and wished I had spent more time on my squat technique.") and that an increase in squat strength causes or is correlated with hypertensive diabetes. These are both patently absurd claims. I directly controverted the claim that the squat is not a functional movement; no evidence was offered to support the claim that squatting causes or is correlated with hypertension or diabetes beyond docpop's 'dozen or so' powerlifting patients who were deemed to weigh too much.

I also apologize if I appeared to conflate strength and fitness or suggested that Mark Rippetoe or SS do so. Under many reasonable, useful definitions, strength is the most important aspect of human fitness but it is certainly not the only aspect. My comment was intended to shirk abstract debates about what constitutes fitness and which prongs are most important by casually observing that almost all very fit people are very strong. Oh, and it just so happens most of them got that while squatting.

No, Zach adding X amount of lbs to his frame just so he can bounce around more weight on a barbell will. It's the start down a long road to all kinds of problems. Hypertension and diabetes are on that road.

This is exactly the claim I'm disagreeing with. It demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of why people train with barbells, and a willful disregard for data on strength training and human health. Please, show me any research whose conclusion is that increased squat strength is correlated with or causes hypertension or diabetes.
posted by holympus at 12:37 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


casually observing that almost all very fit people are very strong

I disagree. You could test large groups of Ironman contestants, in which I think we would all agree are very fit individuals, and find they are not strong by most weight training standards.

show me any research whose conclusion is that increased squat strength is correlated with or causes hypertension or diabetes

My statement was about Zach gaining weight, and not about Zach gaining strength. I think that was the main idea behind what docpops was saying, if I'm reading his comments correctly.

I'm kind of wondering how the idea that massive muscles = awesome athlete was injected into the collective conscious. I think I would call it the He-Man effect. I'm not saying someone with massive amounts of muscle couldn't be an awesome athlete. But the idea that if possible, we could magically have instant muscles and that would thusly translate to moving mountains, running miles at a dead sprint, swimming quickly through the depths, or that we could do anything. Surely He-Man is just a cartoon version of Schwarzenegger as Conan. But there was Den of Heavy Metal, which came out a year or so before Conan the Barbarian. Dan into Den is a much more idealized version of insta-muscles = REAL MAN. Of course we could go back even further and say Frazetta was the architect of it all, but I think his art relies mostly on the distilled image of the uber-mensch and not the actualization. If Frazetta were asked to paint Milo of Croton he wouldn't show him training with a calf, but most likely in the last stretch of his Olympic walk as the bull bucked wildly. Anyhow, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah. So Frazetta may have been responsible for creating the want for bigger muscles (and being awesome), along with Schwarzenegger's early success in films like Hercules in New York and The Villian, but I think we can safely place this epoch of thought squarely onto the shoulders of He-Man. And Steroids.

Although there is the montage of little conan into big CONAN, but that's an obvious reference to progressive resistance training. Although it really wasn't progressive and there is the scenes that immediately follow with him dumped into the pit and being magically super bad-ass because of MUSCLES! *shrug*
posted by P.o.B. at 2:24 AM on March 11, 2010


Good on, you holympus, that's a very civil response.

That said, - and whilst not trying to speak for him - I don't think Docpops' issue was with squatting, or even weight training in general, so much as ingesting bowel-shuddering amounts of calories for freakishly large and fast weight gain, its resultant effects on health, its habit-forming qualities, and the long term issues with such weight gain.
posted by smoke at 2:54 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


One thing to note is that novices generally don't eat like Zach for an extended period of time. They put on weight for a while, end linear progression and then move to a healthier diet.

I say generally because you have the 125kg+ weight class in powerlifting. These are the big boys (and girls) who continue to put on weight through their entire athletic career because more muscle means more weight on the bar. These are the unhealthy motherfuckers who have given their body to the iron gods. They've chosen their sport over health.

Another problem that plagues athletes of any sport is continuing to eat and live like they are competing even though they've given up training long ago.
posted by Loto at 6:29 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guy ate 6000 calories a day. No wonder he gained weight. The beginning strength program is not going to burn all those calories. All it can do in that context is turn as many of them to muscle as possible. The rest go into flab. This is not healthy, but if Zach backs off the mega-diet and continues to work out he can stay strong and get to a healthier BMI. He may not gain muscle as fast though. Almost all of the really, really strong guys I see at my gym are fat and overweight. I can see the temptation to just keep seeking bigger and bigger weights, but that path leads to injury and flab in many cases. In contrast, watch how martial artists train weights. It's all about functional strength, speed and power. That just seems a lot healthier to me.
posted by caddis at 7:07 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


when I see enthusiasts getting all "my way or the highway" about exercising, and then presuming to lecture a GP about health, I understand why Starting Strength and its adherents are such a divisive force on the internet.

There are lots of ways to exercise without hurting yourself, and lots of lots of reasons to do it - not just strength, not just to see numbers go up, etc etc. I can empathise with people who have found a routine that works for them, and want to share the thrill of seeing results, but I wish we didn't have to get so defensive every time someone offers a sometimes subjective and often legitimate criticism of one particular program, and then proclaim that our exercise is the one, true exercise.


I wasn't aware the Starting Strength was a divisive force on the internet. Maybe it's divisive in the sense that it divides the strong from the weak? I'm confused by the rest of this comment, too -- what does "exercise without hurting yourself" have to do with this? Zach hasn't sustained any injuries through his training. Personally, if I'm defensive about training it's because it's tiring to observe the extreme pervasiveness of misinformation and sloppy thinking on display both on the internet and in gyms everywhere. I've yet to see anything resembling a legitimate criticism of any program in this thread.

the idea of putting on pounds of muscle per week is so far in excess of so many peer-reviewed research papers by scientists that I, too, struggle to believe it.

First, I haven't seen any peer-reviewed research papers on the subject of potential rate of muscle growth. The "conventional wisdom" that I linked to in the FPP was just that. I'd like to see any real research on the subject, purely out of morbid curiosity. The state of "exercise science" and studies on this sort of thing is unfortunately and notoriously very poor.

But anyway, what's your point? That you don't believe that Zach achieved what is claimed here? Or that you believe it and you think it's somehow unhealthy?

If the idea of being "fit" has bearing on this conversation than we there really is an expansion on ideas that shouldn't be dismissed. A look at ExRx has a page on Fitness Components
, and there you go. Strength lands on a continuum of concepts along with Power, Speed, Endurance, etc..


Yes, strength is just one aspect of fitness. What exactly constitutes "fitness" is a controversial and somewhat subjective topic around which there's room for argument. Linking to one particular definition of fitness is hardly conclusive. Rippetoe recognizes that there are many aspects of fitness, but argues that strength is the most important one, and that it has the most impact on all other aspects. His position is that, all other things being equal, a stronger athlete is always better. Now, in reality, all other things are very often not equal, but I think he's basically correct. CrossFit, for example, has their own idiosyncratic definition of fitness, but you'll note that all of the top competitors at the CrossFit games train for strength above and beyond the strength training included in the regular CrossFit workouts. So by their own standards, their program doesn't provide adequate strength training.

I think that if anything, strength is undervalued in general in society, perhaps because of bodybuilding's influence and the current infatuation with visible six-packs and the seemingly-pervasive idea that running is the basis of all athleticism. But that's kind of a digression.

No, Zach adding X amount of lbs to his frame just so he can bounce around more weight on a barbell will. It's the start down a long road to all kinds of problems.

We aren't talking about a powerlifter pointing his toes forward in a squat to take advantage of the extra tension provided by his knee ligaments, or a bodybuilder injecting himself with anabolic steroids to meet his aesthetic goals. This is not "just so he can bounce around more weight on a barbell." The list of athletic endeavors which are dependent on strength, and especially on strength as built by the barbell squat, is extremely long, as holympus has already indicated.

My statement was about Zach gaining weight, and not about Zach gaining strength. I think that was the main idea behind what docpops was saying, if I'm reading his comments correctly.

The problem is your seeming failure to understand the connection between his gaining bodyweight and gaining strength, and your failure to distinguish between his gaining lean mass and fat. The majority of the bodyweight Zach has gained through his training is lean mass, and I haven't seen any reason to think that gaining lean mass through barbell training is anything but beneficial to an individual's health. Fat gain is not desirable, but is a necessity for anyone who isn't a genetic freak and is endeavoring to gain strength. The amount of bodyfat Zach has gained is not extreme or dangerous, and it will not be difficult for a trainee like him to lose some of it while retaining his strength and muscle mass, should he choose to do so.

This is not healthy, but if Zach backs off the mega-diet and continues to work out he can stay strong and get to a healthier BMI.

Seriously? BMI?

In contrast, watch how martial artists train weights. It's all about functional strength, speed and power.

All the martial arts training in the world wouldn't help 162# Zach in a fight against 242# Zach.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:13 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, just for fun: powerlifter Dave Gulledge at 265#. Strongman Derek Poundstone at 341#. Strongman Mariusz Pudzianowski at 287#. etc.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:31 AM on March 11, 2010


Too crowded, not enough weights and the final straw was when one of the trainers mumbled to a girl at the gym who said I had had a huge chest that I used steroids.

I've gotten the "steroids" rumor before, too, and while it's offensive in a way, I'd say take it as a compliment. Either that or, as a wise man once said, "Fuck da haterz!"

I finally started going back to the gym in October and I've been following one of the Starting Strength programs. I wish I'd known this program when I was a teenager! I compete against myself, track things excessively with a spreadsheet which appeals to my inner geek, which is also my outer geek.

I've sorta developed my own loose exercise (tracked via printed spreadsheet on a clipboard - I used to way over-emphasize this!) + diet (lotsa-lotsa protein - diet is BY FAR the most important component) + rest (actually I make decent progress just lifting once or twice a week - you gotta give those broken down muscles time to heal and grow), and I've been fleshing it out over the years & really just making it up as I go. But if there's a more developed system out there, I'm all ears -- gonna check out Starting Strength right away!

And, hey, I just started back lifting a couple weeks ago, and not being real serious about it I might add, and I've been putting on about 1.5-2lbs of upper-body a week. I think Zach's results are entirely realistic, if not typical, for somebody taking body-building very seriously.
posted by LordSludge at 8:00 AM on March 11, 2010


All the martial arts training in the world wouldn't help 162# Zach in a fight against 242# Zach.

Not true. I know many guys and several girls that could, if they wanted, literally kill most guys twice their size with their bare hands. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is naaaaasty against people that don't know it -- a simple rear-naked choke or arm triangle will get you far. (Witness Royce Gracie ripping through the early UFCs vs. much larger opponents.) I'm much bigger and stronger than my (black belt) instructor, and I might as well be a toddler when fighting him.
posted by LordSludge at 8:10 AM on March 11, 2010


I know it's beside the point, but man, Zach's body looked so much better before. Lean but visibly muscled.. it was inverted triangular! I would pay dearly for a body like that. The after body, on the other hand, you would have to pay me.
posted by fatehunter at 8:51 AM on March 11, 2010


More Horse Cock (not literally, SFW)
posted by Pollomacho at 9:03 AM on March 11, 2010


When did it become okay for OPs to moderate their own threads? Or is this an advert for 90# weaklings?
posted by Goofyy at 9:03 AM on March 11, 2010


I know many guys and several girls that could, if they wanted, literally kill most guys twice their size with their bare hands.

Ok. This isn't a debate I have a really strong desire to get into, so I apologize for bringing it up in a flippant manner. Certainly skill is very important in any sport, including in fighting, but it only goes so far, which is presumably why UFC (and most fighting organizations that I know of) has weight divisions.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:18 AM on March 11, 2010


Caddis, I'm sure you know how useless BMI is for individual measure right now but I do generally agree with your point. A little fat isn't going to kill you. The kid is sitting around 20% which definitely isn't bad. The problem is with diminishing returns. He is going to put on less muscle and more fat week after week if he keeps it up. Hence the recommendation in Starting Strength to only do that until you hit a weight and then return to a normal diet. As with most things, people take it too far.

It is also worth noting that many martial artists (I'm using MMA fighters and boxers here since they are the most athletic) have incorporated Olympic lifting, power lifting and strongman into their training routines. I'm not sure what you think the deadlift, press and squat are if they aren't the basis of functional training.
posted by Loto at 10:21 AM on March 11, 2010


*hit a weight you are happy with and then return to a normal diet.
posted by Loto at 10:22 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


wee guys v big guys

*SPOILER*

the wee guys win.
posted by the cuban at 11:42 AM on March 11, 2010


“I took a couple years off after my old gym closed, the new gym frankly sucked for lifters.”

Always happens. If you stay at a gym and it gets worse, sometimes you don’t notice the suckage ‘cos it’s gradual. But I notice a lot of places hiring kids or goofballs to run the day to day and some musclehead gets to manage because he’s got big arms.

I work out at a pretty serious gym. The other day the preacher bench went missing. Dunno what happened to it. One day it’s there, the next it’s gone. We used to have three. So I went to the desk and asked where it was. No. F’ing. Idea. What a preacher bench was. Not like it’s some esoteric piece of equipment concerning some exotic workout. Pretty basic bit of gym equipment. Not exactly expensive either.

Hell, I do carpentry like George McFly does MMA and I could probably make one.
Anyway, I added that we needed more Johnson Rods as well (stole that from Costanza). The gym’s out of Johnson Rods. And I need them, because I’m left handed. Just tell the manager we’re out of left handed Johnson Rods.

I pretty much always take a cheat sheet to the gym with me. And a little pencil. Keep rewiring and rewriting my data. Like, what, I’m supposed to remember if I’m focused on training?
Plenty of people seem embarrassed in the gym about ignorance. Why I don’t know. I suspect there’s an equation of ignorance with weakness – viz – lifting less weight. Which is weird. A lot of actual ‘work’ should be going into someone’s workout. Not just picking up and putting down the iron.

Lot of people don’t want to do that. Or want to think they don’t have to. But the best way not to hurt yourself is to pay attention.

“…powerlifting and it's implied dependency on weight gain is sort of nauseating.”

Yes and no. On the one hand you're right, fixation on any single aspect of fitness can be unhealthy. I think ultramarathoners are incredible. But pulling the entire toenail off every toe on both feet, yeah, might be a little fanatic too.
On the other hand, you can gain strength and be very healthy. Older friend of mine had polio and lost one of his legs and his other one is pretty weak (long story), it’s not like he can run. But he does have a weightlifting centered workout nearly exclusively upper body and he’s in great shape (given the givens).

I work my core mass and my legs. So I’ve got pretty solid abs etc. But my arms aren’t as big as some other folks. And yet, there are guys with the big triceps who can bench big iron who hit nowhere near as hard as I do.

Granted, my focus tends to be on hitting like an express train and grappling, but having a strong core is much more important than having the ‘show’ muscles that makes you look nice in the nightclub, and squatting is part of that. It’ll help you move a couch. Help you pick up a t.v., all that.
So odds are, the more you squat, the healthier all around you probably are. As opposed to some guy who looks jacked but has mashed potatoes for a midsection. And many triathletes, Ironmen, and gymnasts, even distance runners will have proportionally stronger cores than their bodybuilding counterparts. Exactly because that’s where most of the body’s strength is derived.
When I was playing football and as I play rugby, I typically throw bigger, stronger looking men around like toys. Because of my weight training focus. And because of theirs. In the gym they can bench more than me. On the field, my hips, thighs, abs, lats, all that, come into play.

What’s funny is people saying “you’ve put on weight” in a derogatory manner, when I put muscle weight on. Or when I eat more in the winter to get some more body fat. Like being hyperlean is the model of fitness. I think the focus on how one looks is as harmful as the exclusive focus on how much one can lift and twice as impractical.

One of my partners a bit ago got into a fight with a very lean bodybuilder at the beach. He kept backing up and backing up towards the surf. Once they were about waist deep he hooked the guy and took him under. About 4 minutes later my bud dragged the guy out of the surf and plopped him back on the beach. “Welcome to oxygen deprivation and hyperthermia. Hope that 2 percent body fat works out for you.”
He was a mean SOB, but that aside, ever wonder why so many bodybuilders wear big thick sweatshirts? It’s not modesty.

I’ve been down to 3 or 4 percent. It’s no damn fun. Had my buds forcing candy bars and ice cream into my face (I don’t eat fast food). Cold all the damn time. Sunk like a stone in the water. Bruised if the wind blew. Had women all over me. But I didn't much like those kinds of women and the trade off just for looking that way - not so much. (Of course, I didn't do it on purpose, but long story)

“Of course we could go back even further and say Frazetta was the architect of it all”
Or Robert Howard.

Conan, in the books, was an excellent example of a very well trained individual. Chemical poisoning aside, his dad was a blacksmith and he started there. Howard interjected a number of episodes where Conan was being trained in various armies and projected what he had learned himself in doing physical tasks over the more arbitrary and regimented training the military tried to force on him.
Countless examples of stronger looking individuals in the books being not as strong as the less beefy (but more 'pantherish') Conan.

(and I have to 2nd LordSludge on the martial arts vs. weight class thing. There are no muscles on your windpipe)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I’ve been down to 3 or 4 percent. It’s no damn fun.

Meh, it's all my scrawny, non-power lifting butt has ever known. But all this crap about gaining 2 pounds a day, not with my metabolism, not even with a couple thousand extra calories a day and working out, and I know because I've tried. I've also tried going vegitarian. Do you know how many beans you have to eat to just maintain conciousness when you burn calories like I do?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:24 PM on March 11, 2010


(I'd drink more OJ Pollomacho. Good for maintaining collagen (for me), but vitamin c delivered that way (with potassium and folic acid) gives a nice boost to growing cells. Should help you hang on to a bit more good fat and balance your weight. I love orange juice. It's not a wonder drink, for some people the acid is too much. But I find it helped me rebalance. Better than milkshakes and candy anyway.)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:09 PM on March 11, 2010


(and, er, non-processed OJ of course. Fresh squeezed. Although you can buy some (not the 'not from concentrate' but it's labled 'fresh squeezed'). Probably better to get a juicer. If you can grind up some flax seeds in it (and eat it with yogurt) - even better)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:25 PM on March 11, 2010


I wasn't aware the Starting Strength was a divisive force on the internet. Maybe it's divisive in the sense that it divides the strong from the weak? I'm confused by the rest of this comment, too -- what does "exercise without hurting yourself" have to do with this? Zach hasn't sustained any injuries through his training. Personally, if I'm defensive about training it's because it's tiring to observe the extreme pervasiveness of misinformation and sloppy thinking on display both on the internet and in gyms everywhere. I've yet to see anything resembling a legitimate criticism of any program in this thread.

It is divisive if people hold it up as the one true program. It's funny that you mention misinformation and sloppy thinking because we could go into a BIG digression here about that. Suggesting this program is for everyone regardless of intent is wrong. I don't think you understand that and I don't think you will.

Linking to one particular definition of fitness is hardly conclusive

You need more links? No, you don't, because you should know all strength coaches break it down into the those basic components more or less.

This is not "just so he can bounce around more weight on a barbell." The list of athletic endeavors which are dependent on strength, and especially on strength as built by the barbell squat, is extremely long, as holympus has already indicated.

Uhhhh yes it was. That obviously was the only point. But let's back up and say it was to increase his athletic ability and we tested him in various activities. Not just high jump test, but in actual sporting events like we actually took him through track and field, tennis, basketball, etc... You contention is that his increase in weight gain and strength gain would automatically make him a better athlete? I would lay down money he isn't a better overall athlete.
Obviously my thoughts were meandering above but if this thinking isn't the He-Man effect in action than I don't know what is.

I haven't seen any reason to think that gaining lean mass through barbell training is anything but beneficial to an individual's health. Fat gain is not desirable, but is a necessity for anyone who isn't a genetic freak and is endeavoring to gain strength. The amount of bodyfat Zach has gained is not extreme or dangerous, and it will not be difficult for a trainee like him to lose some of it while retaining his strength and muscle mass, should he choose to do so.

You seem to fail to distinguish between what athleticism really requires and what you see in the gym. You think an increase in strength is all that is required to increase athleticism and that is just plain wrong. It's unbalanced thinking and it is divisive in that context, especially when that is your only solution.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:41 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


My statement was about Zach gaining weight, and not about Zach gaining strength. I think that was the main idea behind what docpops was saying, if I'm reading his comments correctly.

The problem is your seeming failure to understand the connection between his gaining bodyweight and gaining strength, and your failure to distinguish between his gaining lean mass and fat. The majority of the bodyweight Zach has gained through his training is lean mass, and I haven't seen any reason to think that gaining lean mass through barbell training is anything but beneficial to an individual's health. Fat gain is not desirable, but is a necessity for anyone who isn't a genetic freak and is endeavoring to gain strength. The amount of bodyfat Zach has gained is not extreme or dangerous, and it will not be difficult for a trainee like him to lose some of it while retaining his strength and muscle mass, should he choose to do so.


This, but ludwig_van's statement should be even stronger. There are no large, randomized, controlled clinical trials examining the effect of squatting on relative risk for hypertension, diabetes, or death in healthy populations, which is why what docpops said outrages and devastates me so much. Speculating that Zach is at higher risk for these things because while squatting he gained weight is such a terrible misinterpretation of any data that suggest that heavier populations are at higher relative risks for these things than lighter populations that it's really sad when it comes from someone who is professionally entrusted with guarding people's health. If you think that the heavy people in large studies of the effects of BMI, body fat, or lean muscle mass on health are heavy because they're squatting, go stand on the street corner of any first-world country and watch the droves of the sedentary obese pass you by in their cars, on their scooters, and with their walkers. They are literally dying of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer because their doctors see Lipitor as an appropriate intervention to lower their cholesterol and reduce their relative risk for a heart attack by 20%, but don't know how to advocate for safe, healthy physical activity like squatting.

Our conversation represents so much of what's wrong with modern health care.
posted by holympus at 2:04 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


(As somebody who used to work out 3 hours every day on a near-vegetarian diet, and golly-gee wondered why I had trouble gaining weight, I'd say work out less -- just 2-3 times a week -- and eat all the protein you can possibly stomach: eggs, chicken, nuts, protein shakes, you name it, you eat it. Protein is your building block. Broadly speaking, exercise is 25%, rest is 25%, and diet is 50% of results.)
posted by LordSludge at 2:04 PM on March 11, 2010


This, but ludwig_van's statement should be even stronger. There are no large, randomized, controlled clinical trials examining the effect of squatting on relative risk for hypertension, diabetes, or death in healthy populations, which is why what docpops said outrages and devastates me so much.

FFS! It wasn't about the squatting!
posted by P.o.B. at 2:14 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel stupid for saying this (nothing new), but I got the impression that Zach wasn't training for any particular sport -- he was just tired of being a weak, skinny little dude (much like many women hate being flat chested) and did something about it. Seems more of a self-esteem, body image thing than an athletic performance thing. That a lot of people here prefer his skinny self to his beefy self is irrelevant. (I prefer small boobs to big ones, and yet women still go for the implants. It's like they don't consult with me for their important life's decisions or something...) It's about what HE wanted. And he appears to have achieved his goals, in dramatic fashion. Bravo.

I know most people struggle to keep their weight down, and I feel like that's coloring the conversation here, but as a tends-towards-skinny guy myself, I assure you that the struggle to gain weight can be frustrating in itself. This guy's results, for a skinny guy, are kinda like an obese man who dropped 100 lbs in half a year. He's gonna be a hero and an inspiration for skinny dudes everywhere.
posted by LordSludge at 2:17 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You need more links? No, you don't, because you should know all strength coaches break it down into the those basic components more or less.

My point was that different athletes and coaches will have different views about the relative importance of different aspects of fitness, as one would expect based on their specializations. Rippetoe is a strength coach, so that's what he focuses on. I'm sure people that coach marathon runners have different approaches. I have no interest in comparing a weightlifter with a marathoner and asking "who's more fit?" I have my own opinions and preferences, but I understand that these activities are at opposite ends of the metabolic spectrum and at some point serious competitive athletes must specialize. Again, all other things being equal, stronger is better -- but reality is more complex than that, and tradeoffs will usually have to be made. Very few people will ever realize their full genetic potential for strength -- and I think that that idea of realizing one's potential is a powerful motivator for folks who decide to train this way -- but I think many, or even most, people who have never been exposed to this type of training could benefit in many ways from undertaking a novice strength progression.

But let's back up and say it was to increase his athletic ability and we tested him in various activities. Not just high jump test, but in actual sporting events like we actually took him through track and field, tennis, basketball, etc... You contention is that his increase in weight gain and strength gain would automatically make him a better athlete? I would lay down money he isn't a better overall athlete.

Inasmuch as any athletic endeavor is dependent on strength, which we seem to agree that many are, and Zach is now stronger than before, he will therefore be better-equipped to undertake such an endeavor. I don't think his barbell training has made him better at running marathons, playing guitar, or knitting. I think it has made him stronger (so effectively that he was met with claims that what he achieved was not physically possible) which was his goal and is the goal of the program he followed.

On preview: LordSludge is on the mark.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:22 PM on March 11, 2010


ya, LordSludge has it.
posted by holympus at 2:28 PM on March 11, 2010


few people will ever realize their full genetic potential for strength cardiovascular health -- and I think that that idea of realizing one's potential is a powerful motivator for folks who decide to train this way for a marathon-- but I think many, or even most, people who have never been exposed to this type of training could benefit in many ways from undertaking a novice strength long distance running progression.

The problem with thinking X is better than Y to the extent that we have blinders on, is that we don't realize the benifits and importance of Y.

Inasmuch as any athletic endeavor is dependent on strength, which we seem to agree that many are, and Zach is now stronger than before, he will therefore be better-equipped to undertake such an endeavor.

Strength just does not scale in most events the way you are used to seeing it happen in the gym. If an event lasts more than three seconds, maximal strength quickly recedes and other traits become more important.

It's about what HE wanted. And he appears to have achieved his goals, in dramatic fashion. Bravo.

Yes, fantastic, and I said as much above. But it seems we are not able to keep in context what exactly weight gain means to a body, lean mass or otherwise, or what this guys goals are.
Gaining 55lbs in three months, even if it was all lean body mass, puts a strain on the cardiovascular system whether you like it or not. That's not even mentioning a whole host of other things.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:47 PM on March 11, 2010


Speculating that Zach is at higher risk for these things because while squatting he gained weight ...

It's not that he gained weight while squatting. It's that he gained body fat while eating 6,000 calories a day.

Anyway, as I said up thread, while I don't think this is particularly healthy, he could probably fairly easily lose the extra chub just by cutting back the calories. He made dramatic strength and muscle gains which should not be minimized; his results are pretty amazing. They came with extra fat, so was it worth it? For him, almost certainly yes. Time to start cutting though and drop ten or fifteen pounds of fat (he gained about 24) which is not that much for such a big dude.

(and yes, BMI was a poor choice of words when I was really meaning something more like percent body fat)
posted by caddis at 3:01 PM on March 11, 2010


I would lay down money he isn't a better overall athlete.

Well, that settles it, doesn't it?

My own experience with weightlifting was that my overall coordination improved with my strength. Everything I did got easier and more accurate.

Look at baseball players today. They are way more muscular than the baseball players of the past. Why? Because they've discovered that weight training makes them better athletes. Almost every sport has discovered this. Even golfers are weight training nowdays.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:04 PM on March 11, 2010


few people will ever realize their full genetic potential for cardiovascular health -- and I think that that idea of realizing one's potential is a powerful motivator for folks who decide to train for a marathon-- but I think many, or even most, people who have never been exposed to this type of training could benefit in many ways from undertaking a long distance running progression.

How do you measure cardiovascular health? Are you talking about VO2 max, or what? In any case, sure, I'll bet many people could improve some measurable aspect of their fitness via long-distance running. But I think long slow distance cardio is something that the majority of gym-goers know about, and based on my experience it doesn't seem to help most folks reach their goals as much as they'd like. And if you think young football players, for example, would be better off running marathons than strengthening their squats, I disagree. But feel free to put together an FPP about marathon runners.

But it seems we are not able to keep in context what exactly weight gain means to a body, lean mass or otherwise, or what this guys goals are.
Gaining 55lbs in three months, even if it was all lean body mass, puts a strain on the cardiovascular system whether you like it or not.


So is it your belief that when a trainee's musculoskeletal system adapts to a training stimulus by gaining 55 lbs. in three months and becoming a great deal stronger, his cardiovascular system doesn't adapt along with it?
posted by ludwig_van at 3:07 PM on March 11, 2010


Hopefully this is just the start of his physical fitness journey. He's learned how to put on weight and gain strength -- great. Maybe next he'll learn all about cardio. Or flexibility. Or speed and agility. Or whatever it is that Metafilter decides he needs to be.

I'm thinking we need more ninjas.
posted by LordSludge at 4:44 PM on March 11, 2010


My own experience with weightlifting was that my overall coordination improved with my strength. Everything I did got easier and more accurate.

Well that settles it doesn't it? You obviously haven't read what I wrote, my position is a little more nuanced than what you are making it out to be.

How do you measure cardiovascular health?

What? You don't know?

Are you talking about VO2 max, or what?

Oh, maybe you do know. Or are you seriously asking me? Is this a line of questioning you want to follow up on, or were you just leaving some hanging implications?

In any case, sure, I'll bet many people could improve some measurable aspect of their fitness via long-distance running. But I think long slow distance cardio is something that the majority of gym-goers know about, and based on my experience it doesn't seem to help most folks reach their goals as much as they'd like. And if you think young football players, for example, would be better off running marathons than strengthening their squats, I disagree. But feel free to put together an FPP about marathon runners.

Maybe we should lay the cards on the table. I could actually ask you how vast your experience is, but I'm not that guy and I'm sure you enjoy a certain amount of anonymity just as I do. BUT this is your thing right? Anybody who's seen you in more than a couple of AskMe's would know that this is your go to answer, and it's not that it's strength training as much as it is specifically Starting Strength. Which is just kind of weird. I mean if you were really willing to put together a strength, Olympic, or Power lifting FPP than that would be cool and I would get that. But you don't, you only have one thing to talk about and it's a specific product, which again is really weird when there are other programs out there that are just as good and arguably better. Yeah I know people tend to think it's the only book on weightlifting you'll ever need, but then we could go back to talking about misinformation and how only giving specific bits of info, no matter how good (you think) it is, is just as misinforming.

So is it your belief that when a trainee's musculoskeletal system adapts to a training stimulus by gaining 55 lbs. in three months and becoming a great deal stronger, his cardiovascular system doesn't adapt along with it?

HOLY SHIT! You mean to tell me this guy gained 55 lbs in three months and his 1 mile time got better? Hot damn! That means all anyone has to do is gain a bunch of weight to increase their run times? Do you see how we just spin our wheels when we make disingenuous arguments?

Hopefully this is just the start of his physical fitness journey. He's learned how to put on weight and gain strength -- great. Maybe next he'll learn all about cardio. Or flexibility. Or speed and agility. Or whatever it is that Metafilter decides he needs to be.

Yeah, maybe he will and maybe he won't. That's the point that's easy to dismiss though isn't it? I certainly don't give a damn what other people do with their bodies but I think people should be aware of what they are taking on when they make a lifestyle change that he's taking on. Rather he's getting the whole "Rah, rah, now you're a REAL MAN Pinocchio, because you're BIG and STRONG!" That's a shame that anyone has to support their ideas like that. Especially from a group of people who, from my experience, is not anywhere close to being the paragons of fitness.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:17 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holympus, it appears that Zach gained weight as a result of eating a shitload of calories, coupled with mass gained through muscle creation. A weight gain of eighty pounds, even if all muscle, eventually becomes eighty pounds of something else, at least in most people. I was a little flippant in the thread above and I apologize because I was critical toward a sport I know little about. Again, my ambivalence comes from the idea that powerlifting is any more of a path to true long term fitness than playing golf. The objective is simply to be able to lift massive amounts of weight, not to become fit. If fitness were the goal, then no one would encourage the sort of preening nuttiness that I see at the gym every morning during my workouts. As well, I do not think I ever said squatting caused people to become obese.

someone who is professionally entrusted with guarding people's health...
You have a valid argument when it comes to derailing a disease before it causes mortality or morbidity, which is precisely why drugs like Lipitor, which you malign, are in existence. Because most people don't radically alter their body composition, lifestyle choices, and day to day habits based on a fifteen minute talk with their doctor. If you were a college-level calculus professor, would it be fair to expect you to turn out pupils doing stellar work who entered your class not even knowing how to add fractions? So most physicians who exist in the sphere of common sense and reality chose to spend their days doing both - imploring better choices and also starting medication so people don't spend another contemplative month filling their arterial walls with plaque.
posted by docpops at 8:00 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anybody who's seen you in more than a couple of AskMe's would know that this is your go to answer, and it's not that it's strength training as much as it is specifically Starting Strength. Which is just kind of weird.

It's not "weird". Starting Strength is a beginning weightlifting book, and a damn good one -- there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be somebody's "go-to answer" for people who want to start strength training, any less than Arnold's New Encyclopedia or The New Rules of Lifting, for instance. I think most people have a particular book they like to recommend for beginners, no matter what the field; I don't see what's weird about that.

Anybody who's seen you in more than a couple posts would know that you have a problem with this book, yet you never actually provide any reasons why people shouldn't recommend it. It's always "well you could recommend this which is just as good, or you could recommend that, or you could link to this and how come you don't", etc. So here's your chance: please, tell us all why Starting Strength should NOT be recommended. As in, not "I think this-and-that is better", and not "why don't you ever mention some other book", but why Starting Strength, specifically, is a bad suggestion for beginning weightlifters.

If you can't do that, and do it convincingly, then I don't see why anybody here is wrong for making this book their "go-to answer". The fact that there are "other programs out there that are just as good and arguably better" merely implies that it's just as good (or "arguably worse") to recommend Starting Strength, yet you consistently attack people for doing so... so c'mon. Give us a reason.
posted by vorfeed at 8:53 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


You mean to tell me this guy gained 55 lbs in three months and his 1 mile time got better? Hot damn!

We don't know either way...or rather, you think you know, despite having no evidence whatsoever.

In my heavy fitness period, I gained a lot of weight and my 6-mile time went way down. Go figure.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:36 PM on March 11, 2010


vorfeed, we've had this conversation. You think marketing something instead of giving advice is cool, and I don't.

Everything looks like a nail when the only tool you've got is a hammer.

We don't know either way...or rather, you think you know, despite having no evidence whatsoever.
In my heavy fitness period, I gained a lot of weight and my 6-mile time went way down. Go figure.


LOL WUT?

At the height of my Ninjitsu training I was able to cause small tremors by punching the ground! Anyone else want to share some anecdotes?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:05 PM on March 11, 2010


P.o.B., I'm trying not to make this into a pissing match. I haven't even asked you what your lifts are! I don't think me as a person or my AskMe recommendations are all that relevant here. I promise I'm not an employee of Mark Rippetoe.

Anyhow, when I saw you link to 5/3/1 somewhere else I thought it was funny, and I still do. This is a program using the exact same exercises as Starting Strength, with almost the same set and rep scheme. Why is it that one product is acceptable to you and not the other?

But more perplexing is the fact that you refer to 5/3/1 like it's an alternative to Starting Strength. As SS is a beginner program and 5/3/1 is an intermediate program, they are somewhat apples and oranges. 5/3/1 might be an alternative to the Texas Method, or Bill Starr, or madcow, or Sheiko, or Smolov, or Westside, or any other basic periodized routine. But it's not a beginner program like SS is.

If you don't know the difference between a beginner and an intermediate trainee/program, you could read about it in the article in the FPP. For anyone too lazy to do so: a beginner is not strong enough to induce a stress through training that they can't recover from in 2-3 days. Therefore a beginner can get stronger and lift more weight every workout. Eventually the beginner will be able to move heavier loads and produce more stress in a single session, too much to recover from by the next workout. At this point the beginner is an intermediate and must use basic periodization and e.g. increase poundages only once a week. The upshot of all this being that on SS, a trainee can put 200# on their squat in 6 months, like Zach did. On 5/3/1, the trainee would put 60# on their squat in 6 months. Now, for an intermediate or advanced athlete, who progresses more slowly and requires more training complexity, 60# in 6 months might be great. But a novice is capable of getting stronger much faster. This is illustrated pretty clearly in the graph on the 2nd page of the article in the FPP, which is taken from Practical Programming.

HOLY SHIT! You mean to tell me this guy gained 55 lbs in three months and his 1 mile time got better?

Maybe it did; as far as I know it wasn't measured. If someone who had never done any strength training took up a serious running regimen, I wouldn't be surprised to see his bench press go up some. But that wasn't my point. What you said that was gaining 55# of bodyweight in three months "puts a strain" on the cardiovascular system, regardless of the composition of that bodyweight. Your implication seemed to be that Zach's weight gain was therefore unhealthy.

My point was that you seem to be conflating the person who goes from sedentary at 162 to sedentary at 210 purely through overfeeding with the person who goes from sedentary at 162 to hard-training with a nearly-400 squat at 210. Neither the musculoskeletal or cardivascular system has been exposed to any training stimulus in the first case. In the 2nd case though, both systems have been exposed to a training stimulus and will have adapted. Zach's cardiovascular system at his new bodyweight is not the same as it was at his old bodyweight any more than his muscles and bones are the same. They have been exposed to stress and have adapted to that stress, as human bodies, especially young ones, are wont to do. So I don't find the "unhealthy" argument very convincing.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:31 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm hesitant to jump back in because the conversation seems to be devolving quickly, but here goes.

docpops, I did not mean to malign Lipitor. I think Lipitor's a pretty great drug, and you can bet that it has prolonged a lot of lives.

The idea that powerlifting is no more of a path to true long term fitness than playing golf is interesting, and though I disagree with it vehemently, I don't think there's any way we'd be able to settle that debate here. What I would insist is that I don't think it's fair to characterize Zach as a "powerlifter [whose] objective is simply to be able to lift massive amounts of weight." Zach is not a professional powerlifter, or even an amateur competitive powerlifter. In fact, part of the reason that the topic warrants an FPP is that Zach was an inexperienced novice when he started lifting just a short time ago. I bet most powerlifters, and coaches like Rip, would still describe him as a novice. Almost all golfers golf without professional aspirations. They golf because it's fun, because it helps them stay fit, because they enjoy being outside, whatever. It's not fair to point at Zach and yell "powerlifter!" and claim that it must be his life dream to squat 1000 lbs.

I didn't claim that you said that squatting caused anyone to become obese. What you, P.o.B., and others in the thread have repeatedly claimed is that Zach's documented weight gain implies that his training left him in a state of worse health than when he started, or that it will lead to such a state. These notions are what I have repeatedly challenged because they are wrong and supported by no evidence.

Which brings me to what I meant to malign. The truth is that, though Lipitor is a great drug, the kind of medicine that it represents, and that I felt you defended above, is as of today just a terrible, abject failure. You categorically do not defeat the cadre of chronic diseases that come along with obesity with a Lipitor prescription. You lower cholesterol and delay or prevent heart attack in some. Then, as you say, the patient gets diabetes. The patient gets cancer. The patient somehow becomes immobilized. You take a sea of dying patients, and help a few of them a little by prescribing Lipitor.

Of course, you know that. But after having been taught for years and years that what you're doing for your patients is to the limits of our knowledge the best thing you can do, which is true, I think you've lost sight of just what the limits of our knowledge are. State of the art medicine leaves a million and a half patients dying in the US every year of cancer, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

So what I'm saying is that tomorrow, you'll wake up and prescribe an obese patient Lipitor. You'll have a fifteen minute conversation with him about how he needs to alter his lifestyle choices and change his day to day habits. You might even tell him that if he doesn't, he's going to die. You want to make sure you're both on the same page, because you know what's going to go on to happen: he's not going to change his lifestyle choices, as you say, and he's going to die.

As a coach, Rip achieved precisely the kind of drastic alteration of body composition that you claim is so difficult to inspire in your patients. You say you've got 15 minutes to convince your patients to make healthier life choices. 15 minutes is enough time to teach someone to squat. You think I'm joking; I've never been more serious. I'm literally asserting that if your patients include many who suffer from obesity-related diseases, you could do better improving their health doing what Mark Rippetoe does than doing what you do.

I truly find the claim that squatting while gaining weight is unhealthy, offered as a woeful lament of how it will only leave you with more unhealthy patients to cure, to be toxic. The hundreds of millions of obese Americans who desperately need someone to get them to move are dying because their doctors think like you do. Training functional movements under load would be a great place for all of these patients to start.
posted by holympus at 10:59 PM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why is it that one product is acceptable to you and not the other?

When did I say that? Yes, it is kind of funny to me also. And yes I do realize they are all pretty much the same and all revolve around the same concept's. Which is why I don't understand why don't you just talk about the concepts but instead you talk about a specific product. Over and over and....It's really about apples and apples. My point is that you seem to favor a certain type of apple over others, and telling people to eat your favorite apples when they are better off getting some strawberries. That is poor advice. Whatevs.

If you don't know the difference between a beginner and an intermediate trainee/program,

Dude, I usually don't waste my time talking about things I don't know about.

both systems have been exposed to a training stimulus and will have adapted

Naaahh, I don't think so. Your making a pretty far-fetched case here.

So I don't find the "unhealthy" argument very convincing.

Well this is where we would differ. Surely your experience is different than mine, but I've seen where the end result of doing this type of stuff for years on end leads. Sometimes good, but most times, not so good. Like I said before, go into a hardcore lifter's gyms and ask some of the old timers what they've been through.

It's odd to be dismissive of something and then to go and do the thing you are dismissive about. I'm so headshakey and shruggy over it. *shakes head and shrugs*

These notions are what I have repeatedly challenged because they are wrong and supported by no evidence.

Not for nothing, you would be wrong for calling them wrong, but this is something you would only see after years of being around these guys or possibly seeing these guys in a serious state of disrepair as a doctor would. So my suggestion as I said above, is to really go and find out for yourself. Check in with some dudes who've been doing it hardcore for more than a couple of years. It isn't pretty.
I should add the caveat that you can certainly take the healthy road into this type of training, but the idea on how to do would fall onto deaf ears.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:33 PM on March 11, 2010


Starting Strength is a widely recommended book all over the place. Not just by ludwig_van. Not just on ask mefi. I see it all over the Internet, both on general interest sites like reddit and Hacker News, and in fitness communities like exrx.net and CrossFit. There's no grand conspiracy behind this. This isn't some overpriced, cheesy scam peddled on infomercials. It's an excellent book. It's extremely detailed and well-written and makes sensible recommendations for people interested in building strength.

If somebody asked me for a good novel about the French Revolution, I'd probably tell them they might want to check out A Tale of Two Cities. If someone had no knowledge of pop music from the '60s and asked for a group to start with, I'd probably suggest the Beatles. It doesn't mean I'm on the payroll of the Dickens estate or shilling for EMI.
posted by chrchr at 11:40 PM on March 11, 2010


I guess my problem boils down to - plausibility aside - we have a basic assumption that gaining 55lbs in around three months is a good thing, if not the best thing. The best for exercise, the best for health, the best for fitness, etc.

But I actually think this is very contentious. Really, it's only best for strength. Arguably, only squat strength.

Why not do that over a year - even two years - and avoid all the extra fat? Why not give your body - your ligaments, tendons, hamstrings etc - more time to adjust to a heavier load? Why not give your digestive system - and your cholesterol, dear god your cholesterol - a little less pressure? Maybe sub some of that milk out for fibre. Why is faster better? Why are programs like this the "best" if you're lifting weights?

They're the best if you're after a certain thing, just as crossfit, HIIT, Tabata, etc etc etc is for other things.

No one is I think questioning the utility of starting strength, but the evangelical tone becomes off-putting, coupled with a blind insistence that this this the only way, the best way, and moreover: anything else is wasting your time.

I would further add that encouraging the vast majority of westerners to alter their diets in such a way to rapidly encourage weight gain is - from a public health policy perspective - demonstrably not a good idea.

This is why I think you guys get a bit of stick every time Starting Strength comes up. It's not a criticism of the program, it's a criticism of the program as some kind of latter-day fitness panacea. Which it's not. And again, I say this as someone who likes the program, found it very helpful, and still uses elements of it in my own workouts. But that's for me; it's not for everyone.

If Zach thinks 55lbs was hard to gain, just wait till he tries losing the fat.
posted by smoke at 12:12 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's no grand conspiracy behind this.

Yeah, because that's what I'm saying. I don't have a problem with the book! I have a problem with how it is suggested at every turn, regardless of end goal. Would you suggest A Tale of Two Cities for almost every single question about a book? Even the ones where they specifically don't want that type of book? Even the questions where someones aim is exactly opposite of that book? That's a problem, but it can be addressed elsewhere at another time and I don't mind dropping it RIGHT NOW.

Or what smoke said.

Jeez, I spent all of high school doing these types of programs for football, and I am kind of partial to them.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:49 AM on March 12, 2010


Holympus,

The people who would agree the most with your assertion that medicine is an abject failure at preventing chronic disease are everyone connected with medicine, just so you understand you are preaching to the choir. When I hear arguments like that I don't even bristle, I just rest assured even more deeply that the common trajectory of most human behavior inexorably tracks toward disaster from an early age. Since I didn't start to even spend time in a room with a patient until my early 30's I'm going to have a hard time holding the bag for society's health woes. Anyone with an IQ over 95 can see that disease prevention, as a cost-effective model, needs to hold to a construct of getting to the patient when they are old enough to compare and contrast what is known to be healthy with what is being taught to them or reinforced by example by their peers, parents, TV, and their own ids. Thankfully, most days I get to do a lot more than try to convince another lazy short-sighted person they are killing themselves and actually get to help someone through a crisis or diagnose a potentially lethal problem in time to treat it (renal cell carcinoma yesterday - found accidentally when we ran a CT for a kidney stone).

In this [now exhausted] thread, Zach is seen, fairly or not, as a golem, being directed toward an endeavor that a lot of people here think will ultimately prove regrettable. And then again maybe not. It beats video gaming.
posted by docpops at 7:14 AM on March 12, 2010


Which is why I don't understand why don't you just talk about the concepts but instead you talk about a specific product.

If I saw a question posted by someone who I thought was an intermediate strength trainee, I might mention 5/3/1, as well as any of the several other periodized programs I mentioned in my last post. I have never seen a question like that on AskMe, and I doubt I will, because intermediate strength trainees most likely don't need to ask metafilter what program they should do -- they have enough experience and knowledge to be able to figure it out on their own, or at least ask their question in a more appropriate forum.

Dude, I usually don't waste my time talking about things I don't know about.

I'm not sure if this is sarcasm, or you admitting you're out of your depth. If you know the difference between a beginner and an intermediate program, it makes no sense to posit 5/3/1 as an SS-alternative. If you weren't aware of these basic programming concepts, you could, you know, do less commenting and more reading. Starting with the Novice Effect article posted in the FPP.

Naaahh, I don't think so. Your making a pretty far-fetched case here.

Not much else to say then. You're wrong. Reading Practical Programming might be helpful for you.

we have a basic assumption that gaining 55lbs in around three months is a good thing, if not the best thing. The best for exercise, the best for health, the best for fitness, etc.

But I actually think this is very contentious. Really, it's only best for strength. Arguably, only squat strength.


It's a good thing if getting strong and muscular is a good thing. Plenty of studies show that it is. Here's a recent one that links larger thighs to reduced risk of heart disease and premature death. We've already established that squat strength has a great deal of athletic carryover, unless you're disagreeing with that again. And while I didn't cite all of his lifts, Zach's bench, deadlift, power clean, and press all increased basically in proportion with his squat. He got stronger all over.

Check in with some dudes who've been doing it hardcore for more than a couple of years. It isn't pretty.

Any athlete who competes at a high level for a significant length of time will accumulate injuries. This is an unavoidable fact of competitive athletics. Injury rates for weight training are among the lowest of any athletic activity. This data is in Starting Strength.

Why not do that over a year - even two years - and avoid all the extra fat? Why not give your body - your ligaments, tendons, hamstrings etc - more time to adjust to a heavier load? Why not give your digestive system - and your cholesterol, dear god your cholesterol - a little less pressure? Maybe sub some of that milk out for fibre. Why is faster better? Why are programs like this the "best" if you're lifting weights?

Because time is money, for one. An athlete training for a sport doesn't want to take two or three seasons to get as strong as he could in one season. Milk and fiber aren't mutually exclusive. And no one has come up with any reason why doing it over a year or two would be more beneficial. 20% bodyfat isn't ideal, but it's not dangerous. Your comment about ligaments, tendons, and hamstrings (???) falls under the same fallacy as P.o.B.'s gripe about the cardiovascular system. A trainee's connective tissues adapt to training just the same as his skeletal muscles and heart do. He didn't go from squatting 145 to squatting 345 in a single workout. He did it in small increments, and he recovered and adapted between each workout.

I would further add that encouraging the vast majority of westerners to alter their diets in such a way to rapidly encourage weight gain is - from a public health policy perspective - demonstrably not a good idea.

Your inference that Rippetoe or his program encourage a one-size-fits-all approach to diet is incorrect, as Starting Strength states and as Rippetoe has clarified many times on his web site. The appropriate diet for a 6' 162# 20-year-old male beginner trainee is not the same as the one recommended to, say, an older female, or an overfat beginner trainee.

If Zach thinks 55lbs was hard to gain, just wait till he tries losing the fat.

I'm not sure why you think he'll have trouble. Bodybuilders do it all the time, to extremes that I doubt a trainee like Zach would bother with, but he could if he wanted to.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:29 AM on March 12, 2010


At the height of my Ninjitsu training I was able to cause small tremors by punching the ground! Anyone else want to share some anecdotes?

You don't have any evidence. I have the evidence of my own experience. I guess that means you win.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:20 AM on March 12, 2010


You know that thing where crazy people need a reference point outside of crazy to tell them they're crazy, but they don't accept it and they keep saying things like "wake up, sheeple" and "learn the truth". And those people want to keep telling other people about their ideas and by extension their "crazy" based on them. Like it sounds like they may know what their talking about but the ideas are unsound. At some point they admit they don't know what they are talking about, but in their eyes it somehow is the opposite and they think it proves something but in actuality is an admission of just more crazy. I mean how do you respond to that thing?
Someone has a fraction of the experience you have and they are telling you that you're out of your depth. They talk about training athletes, but have never trained any athletes. They haven't trained anyone outside of themselves, and it's only been about two years started training. They've read two books on a subject and announce they know all there is to know and dispense advice without any real world knowledge. It's funny, but it's kind of crazy, right? The more I think about it the more I think it's a mixture of ignorance, crazy and hilarity.

Or I guess you could just say you're full of shit and be done with it.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:40 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great, thanks for playing.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:06 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


« Older A database engineer considers marriage. Starts wit...  |  Last week, economist Simon Joh... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments