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April 5, 2019 10:44 AM   Subscribe

How To Get Strong. A guide from the NYT.
posted by storybored (51 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good article, but the "short and sweet" gym routine is...not great.

Highly recommend just doing 5x5. All barbell, 3 days a week, 3 exercises each day, 5 sets of each exercise, 5 reps per set. Easy peasy.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:14 AM on April 5, 2019 [23 favorites]



Figure out the heaviest amount of weight you can lift one time. This is your so-called 1-Repetition Maximum, or “1-Rep Max.” After you figure it out, use a weight that’s at least 80 percent of your 1-Rep Max and aim for 8 to 12 repetitions on each set

This is an exceptionally bad idea for un- or de-trained people whose form isn't near perfect!......work up to your 1RM after lifting for a good month or two with supervision.
posted by lalochezia at 11:26 AM on April 5, 2019 [19 favorites]


If you're in bad shape, not in shape, want to get in shape, a good way to start is the simple stuff, take the stairs (for those who can), take a walk, pass up the junk food in favor of something tasty but healthy and remember, you deserve to be healthy.
posted by evilDoug at 11:33 AM on April 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


I've been doing a modified 5x5 at home with dumbbells* since December and yeah. Easy peasy, and it works. I wish I'd taken MetaFilter's advice sooner.

-----------
*single leg lunge-squats in place of the barbell squat; dumbbell floor presses (in a "bridge") in place of the bench presses. The problem now is that I've reached the max weight for my adjustable dumbbells (50 lbs) for several of the exercises (squats, rows, deadlift; not quite there with the dumbbell floor press, and it'll be a while before I'm there with the dumbbell military pres) and have had to start adding reps and reducing rest between sets. Anything to avoid the gym.
posted by notyou at 11:35 AM on April 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


Agreed lalochezia that’s a really bad idea for starting weight. If anyone decides to do 5x5, start with the empty bar, and increment slowly as instructed. You’ll feel a little silly for a bit but you won’t hurt yourself.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:35 AM on April 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


5x5 is great. You'll get strong and learn excellent form. The app is free as well and the paid version was like $5 back when I bought it, I think.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:40 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


This article is really nice for re-contextualizing fitness and exercise. It's nice to see all the other benefits up top, and without assuming each reader is looking for weight-loss tips.
posted by witchen at 11:54 AM on April 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


That's a push-pull-legs split, (PPL). I'm a 5x5 person (or was), but PPL has arguments in its favor.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:01 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I am going to stare at this reasonable advice about fitness and preventing muscle loss and walk backwards into the singularity.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:03 PM on April 5, 2019 [21 favorites]


I reached a point in 5x5 where it was too hard to maintain form as I added weight to my barbell row and deadlift, and bench press has always been a risk for me due to shoulder injuries. So I modified the routine for dumbbells – lower weight, more stabilizing muscles:
- incline DB bench
- incline DB row
- Arnold press (the rotation engages more shoulder groups)

I still need a solution for deadlift because there really isn't a good substitute for that type of compound lift. Overall though 5x5 is a good starting program, my partner had never lifted before and she and I were able to work out together and get significantly stronger in 6 months.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:13 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


For 5x5, what's the minimum equipment I need to get, to get started?
posted by rebent at 12:14 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


A barbell. Or even more minimal, a broomstick. Try this askme or this askme
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:17 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


can i just choose the heaviest thing i will ever want to lift and stop there
posted by murphy slaw at 12:19 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


also can my heaviest thing be a meatball sub
posted by murphy slaw at 12:20 PM on April 5, 2019 [38 favorites]


rebent, technically you should have an Olympic barbell (2" center) and weights as well as a power rack for safety, or something you can adjust safety stops to shoulder and thigh level. The idea being that you may be lifting at your threshold and if you fail a rep, you're not going to hurt yourself. You also need a bench for bench press.

I strongly suggest you do not try to hang weights off a broomstick.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:21 PM on April 5, 2019


All kidding aside, what do folks think about the home workout with the resistance band?

I know from experience that I will not go to the gym if I have the thinnest excuse. I don’t have any room in my house for a barbell setup.

I’ve been managing to get 30 minutes of cardio a day (either walking or on a stationary bike) for a few months now but I’m getting zero upper body exercise. This kind of minimal-equipment workout is appealing - but y’all are only talking about the lifting-heavy-things-that-aren’t-your-own-ass part.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:34 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


rebent: barbell, weights, powerrack, bench. it's easier to do at the gym, but if you can invest and want to then go for it.

please don't ever do this stuff without a powerrack tho, super dangerous. and be aware that if you buy a standard set of plates for the barbell, you may want to think about picking up some 2.5 lb or smaller microplates also.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:37 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


All kidding aside, what do folks think about the home workout with the resistance band?

I know from experience that I will not go to the gym if I have the thinnest excuse. I don’t have any room in my house for a barbell setup.

I’ve been managing to get 30 minutes of cardio a day (either walking or on a stationary bike) for a few months now but I’m getting zero upper body exercise. This kind of minimal-equipment workout is appealing - but y’all are only talking about the lifting-heavy-things-that-aren’t-your-own-ass part.


honestly, you can leave out the resistance band and get a killer workout at home just doing bodyweight exercises., maybe some dumbells. I did this a couple years ago via NerdFitness and I liked it. I have the PDF of the starting checklist / cheatsheet thing, if you'd like it (it's free but you have to give them your email) feel free to MeMail.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:39 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I started lifting two years ago at 47 after never lifting anything before unless it was in my way. Just last week I managed to squat two plates/225 lbs, which I can honestly say I never imagined I could do. When I started I took four walking lunges and thought I would puke on myself and die. Now I can do them with 40 pound weights. And the biggest measure of progress is that I can carry my six year old who is sleeping like a sack of potatoes up to bed with no problem. It is frankly amazing how quickly your body responds to even the slightest amount of weight training. So whatever you can get your hands on, bands, dumbbells, whatever, do it.
posted by schoolgirl report at 12:43 PM on April 5, 2019 [29 favorites]


Just last week I managed to squat two plates/225 lbs

As another 40yo weightlifter: AWESOME!
posted by bdc34 at 12:56 PM on April 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


All the 5x5 recommendations are great, but remember that something is better than nothing. Don't let intimidation prevent you from starting. Also, don't fall into the trap of thinking you need the perfect program or the perfect equipment. You don't need to squat or do any one specific exercise. Anything is better than nothing. Just come up with a way to track progression and try to work in some sort of overload or way to get better over time. Increase your reps, or your weight or your range of motion or the amount of work done in a set time, just track something meaningful to you.

There are about a million ways to get stronger and almost anything works at the beginning. If I could do it all over again, I'd have taken more time to get squats deeper before focusing too much on adding weight to the bar. Don't feel like you need to get up to that 135, or 225 or 315 back squat right away. Take your time and enjoy the process. Embrace the feeling of trying something new and being a beginner all over again. Relish in the opportunity to get better at things. It's just like playing an RPG except you're the character and you're really getting better at something.

But seriously, just do something. Resistance training is a great opportunity to work some mindfulness into your life or increase your socialization.

I treat my 90 minutes/day of weightlifting as my me time. My wife insists on it because I'm so much more pleasant to be around when I'm training consistently. I use it as an opportunity to think and be present or catch up on podcasts depending on where my head is at.

Conversely, one could use training as an opportunity to meet new people. I know CrossFit is easy to make fun of, but it's a great way to meet people. Think of your gym as an Oldenburg-style "third place". Fitness is a great way to reach out and fight against moderns trends of loneliness and isolation. Most the people I know who work out past their 20s are wicked smart and usually very inclusive. Seriously, all the powerlifters, bodybuilders and CrossFitters I've encountered are self professed nerds.

Just remember that working out is an opportunity. It's not a punishment that you inflict on yourself to counter an extra slice of cake. Try to find a way to make training meaningful to you and embed it into your life.
posted by Telf at 1:02 PM on April 5, 2019 [22 favorites]


I've never tested 1RM other than unintentionally - like doing a PR deadlift and finding I can only get 1 rep instead of 3 or 5. If you're under 30 and have some experience then go for it, over 30 just make sure you know your body's signals well enough. Consistency with fitness comes down to motivation - so if it gets you pumped (pun intended) to see all those plates move on a 1RM, then to me the risk is worth the reward.

And yeah, you can do this stuff at any age. I think there's a lot of bias against doing movements like squat and deadlift in particular due to fear of back injury and assumptions that they're bad for your knees. Meanwhile people get RSIs all the time from normalized hobbies like running, tennis and golf.
posted by MillMan at 1:03 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah or inactivity. You're more at risk for developing certains kinds of arthritis due to inactivity than due to intelligent training. Joints want to move.
posted by Telf at 1:05 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm a doctor.

(HIRT = High Intensity Resistance Training)

1. Debating the specifics of the article takes focus away from the more important fact that it gives resistance training the imprimatur of the NYT

There's a perception that serious weightlifting is just for bodybuilders, jocks, and people who want sexy abs.

Tons of academic and medical studies have shown that it isn't, or shouldn't be, but nobody except for PhDs and MDs know the HIRT "story" until it becomes a story in a respected, mass media outlet like the NYT. Bravo!

2. Light weights are only for getting started

Soup cans or tiny purple dumbbells for 4 to 6 weeks to get the form and feel of exercises down, then onto weights that make you spit and snarl to get the last few reps up

The whole package of aerobic and anaerobic benefits, simultaneously, only comes from working hard with challenging weights. There's no such thing as "toning "exercises, and "toning" routines are largely a waste of time.

3. While all can benefit from HIRT, it doesn't benefit all equally

Women, especially post-menopause, and the elderly benefit most from HIRT.
posted by BadgerDoctor at 1:10 PM on April 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


5x5

5 x 5

modified 5 x 5


Okay but what about your legs if you want to do this at home and don't have the money or space to invest in the whatever this is called? 5x5 doesn't seem to have anything for legs other than that squat.
posted by tzikeh at 1:11 PM on April 5, 2019


tzikeh,

Lunges, forward and backward. Using only one leg means that you can use smaller weights to continue to reap benefits.

You could get by on goblet squats for a while if you want to do bilateral squatting Weights are weights, add books to a backpack. Make a sandbag.

Down the road you can play with advancing to pistols if your mobility allows it, also airborne lunges.

Make a suspension trainer to help support your lunges/pistols.

There are loads of options, probably too many to keep track of!
posted by Telf at 1:20 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


With 5x5 you’re 1) doing squats every workout; 2) 3 of the 4 other exercises (bent over row, deadlift, military press) require a fair amount of work from the legs (and core) for stability and support.
posted by notyou at 1:22 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Okay but what about your legs if you want to do this at home and don't have the money or space to invest in the whatever this is called?

The 5x5 guy uses a full on power rack, but you could use a squat stand instead.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:41 PM on April 5, 2019


Just remember that working out is an opportunity. It's not a punishment that you inflict on yourself to counter an extra slice of cake. Try to find a way to make training meaningful to you and embed it into your life.

This's always been the hardest point for me, personally. There's always the "Find something you like! Make it a positive part of your life!" advice, and I think that at this point there's a fundamental split in various types of people. Some people find this sort of thing enjoyable. Some don't. And those that do can't fathom the other group, so it's always "just find the thing you enjoy and you'll be set! Embrace the runner's high!" type advice.

But presumably if people have a thing they enjoy, there may be barriers to doing it, but they have that thing.
And for people who don't have that, it rings about as hollow as "just enjoy [doing taxes, going to the dentist, insert your preferred fundamentally unpleasant thing here], what's not to like?!"

I've come to understand that I need to just do this independent of whether I find it rewarding or pleasant (case in point, the health necessity/benefits listed in the article), but that doesn't make it any easier to sustain. (and the persistent assumption that "it'll get better, you'll love it eventually!" is highly deterring)
posted by CrystalDave at 1:53 PM on April 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


What do you enjoy? Do you have injuries or mobility issues that prevent you from moving freely, or pain free? Just trying to ensure I understand your situation before I give out inappropriate advice.
posted by Telf at 1:57 PM on April 5, 2019


No particular injuries/mobility issues (well, bruised tailbone from an office roller-skating morale event, but that's temporary); I'm not sure if you're looking for a broader "what of everything do I enjoy" or more specifically "what do I enjoy with regards to physical activity".

If the former: cooking, beer, games online with friends (for a short list, covering everything'd be a bit beyond this thread I'd imagine)... (which, I've already looked at some flavor of "gate doing the things I like behind doing exercise", my willingness to stick with something I'm aware is meant to fool me only lasts as long as I would want to do the exercise itself)

If the latter, I can't say I know as I haven't found it yet. And trust me, I've looked. After a certain point, it's a reasonable conclusion that physical exertion isn't an enjoyable thing, vs. hoping that yet-another-thing might be the exception this time. The ideal would be whatever gets what's required over with as quickly as possible, but HIIT-style things just seem to compress the unpleasantness into a shorter time and greater intensity, conserving total reluctance.

So perhaps the more useful solution would be an effective answer to "how do you do something you need to do regularly, which isn't enjoyable, and which the benefits (or harms-from-abstaining) are abstract and years in the future vs. showing up when you miss it?"

(Not that I'm expecting this to be solved, of course, my point is more "I know this is valuable but trust me when I say it's fundamentally discouraging and that's something to be overcome")
posted by CrystalDave at 2:12 PM on April 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


Hey,

You're right, everyone is wired differently and people enjoy/dislike different things and that's ok. I hate dancing and can't stand it when people tell me that I just need to let go and enjoy it. Hasn't happened in 35 years and it won't happen any time soon. I just end up dancing to appease other people at that is mentally exhausting.

That being said sometimes it's good to articulate what we don't like about something. I've found that a lot of people who don't like working out tend not to like the feeling of being a newbie in something. Everything feels awkward at first. That's not always the case. Sometimes people dislike physical discomfort or just don't like spending their valuable time on physical activity.

I've found that a lot of people tend to mismatch the initial challenge with their ability. IE trying to run a mile when brisk walking would be better at the beginning. One of the rules I always had was never make a client feel stupid or awkward.

There's a concept in teaching that I think it appropriate for training called the zone of proximal development. Essentially we want to find a sweet spot between challenging enough to be interesting but not overwhelming. Over time, one's zone of 'doable' work grows to encompass more tasks.

Some people are motivated by progress. Once they establish a baseline, seeing incremental gains can be addictive. It's a lot like making progress in an MMO. Somebody mentioned nerd fitness above, that might be a good resource for making working out interesting. Personally, I found out that I like measuring progress in something. Life is complex and training gives people an opportunity to see a relationship between effort and results that isn't present in other aspects of real life.

Sometimes people just feel like working out is a waste of time or not relevant to their daily quality of life. I think it's useful to find someway to anchor activity to meaningful tasks. Maybe it's walking up stairs or playing with your kids, or being able to play basketball again etc. Again, people are wired differently, so who knows. I can say that a lot of my nerdy friends who never took to resistance training ended up enjoying other activities like brazilian jiu jitsu, rock climbing, or LARPing.

To your point about benefits, exercise will reap immediate benefits. It's not just about longevity or body recomposition. I never felt a runner's high until I got to the point where I could actually run for long distances without being in constant misery. Running is actually really hard for most people. On the other hand, I definitely noticed an elevated mood a few weeks after I first started training at an intensity that was appropriate for me.

Finally, I think mental models can be important here. It's useful to think about how we approach discomfort and soreness. Is discomfort something we should always avoid, or is it a mechanism for inducing adaptation. I always like thinking about Milo and the bull but maybe it's worth thinking about Mithridates or Wesley from the the Princess Bride.

Remember that most training modalities are based on Hans Selye's theory of adaptation where stress is required to get better. Not too much stress, get enough recovery. Anyway, once I started thinking about discomfort being a good thing, progress became easier. This is not the same thing as working through pain or suffering to the point of injury!

If nothing else, I enjoy the opportunity to get away from a screen and strictly limit my phone interactions to setting up a podcast playlist.
posted by Telf at 2:36 PM on April 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: It's just like playing an RPG except you're the character and you're really getting better at something.
posted by medusa at 2:51 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I guess why we're talking about all this, I should mention that I know Mehdi, the guy who popularized Stronglifts 5x5. He used to work out at my gym when I was head coach there. I assume he still does; I moved a few months ago. He's a good dude and we talked 2-3 times a week about training etc.

He obviously believes in the methodology and his training is heavily influenced by powerlifting-style training. That being said, he doesn't train 5x5 currently, and I don't think that's a secret. 5x5 is a great beginner's program, much the same way that Starting Strength is or Greyskull LP is. They are specific tools for specific needs. It's not practical to follow that kind of intensity, volume and frequency forever. As with any linear progression program, it's a great way to titrate up your exercise dosage and improve confidence, technique and strength. Choose a program, ride the newbie gains, persevere through a reset or two, but know when it's time to change strategies. I've seen too many people grind themselves down because they've fallen in love with Starting Strength or Stronglifts or whatever program and are afraid to move on. Following a linear progression program for 6 months or so is one of the greatest things most people can do for themselves. That foundation of strength will stick with you. Just remember there is more to life than doing frontal/sagittal plane barbell movements at 80%+ of your 1RM for the rest of your life.

Don't forget to climb trees, go swimming and walk in the woods with a good friend. Achieving a 2x bodyweight deadlift is great, but there are diminishing returns to pursuing those sorts of goals exclusively.

*I think it's worth going back to BadgerDoctor's comment, "1. Debating the specifics of the article takes focus away from the more important fact that it gives resistance training the imprimatur of the NYT."

It's good that people are talking about this kind of stuff and the old, weird obsession with running as the only socially acceptable form of exercise is fading out.
posted by Telf at 2:57 PM on April 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


First comment (hi MF!) to say that I'm also a brand new over-40 lady weightlifter (olympic) and I LOVE IT. Seriously, I've hated cardio my whole life and every past gym experience has been a slog, other than a few short stints lap swimming, and a long gone yoga class with one outstanding instructor. What I've figured out is that I hate doing anything quickly - running, circuits, crossfit-type weight lifting, even 90% of yoga classes.

I researched gyms online until I found a coach with a few successful lady and kid weightlifters and I signed up at the first visit before I could chicken out.

The gym is ugly, leaky and sometimes stinky but the music is loud, the people are supportive and mind their own business, and I never regret going. I've started to build my week around practice, and that is despite injury restrictions. (All I can do is front squats and abs because of (unrelated!) elbow tendinitis).

Getting stronger is absolutely awesome, but being able to hike stronger/further is a pretty cool side benefit!

All I can say is keep looking, and learn what you don't like by continuing to do new stuff.
posted by esoteric things at 3:27 PM on April 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


I started lifting last year. A trainer was a significant outlay for me, but I wanted to take the attempt seriously, so I put my money where my mouth was. Things I've learned so far.
  • DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) hurts, especially at first!
  • I did not expect to find reaching my one rep max interesting, but it was, psychologically.
  • Empty bars are pretty heavy, and fine when you're just trying to get the movement and form right.
  • DOMS gets better after a while with conditioning, so stick it out.
  • Lifting heavy stuff gets you out of breath just like cardio.
  • People at the gym were nicer than expected, and I didn't expect them to be horrible.
  • My bodyweight hasn't changed significantly, but I feel significantly better walking around and my T-shirts are tighter around the arms and looser around the belly.
  • Thinking about weights in terms of the people I love helps with motivation
I thought the gym bit of the article missed out by having the machine dips illustrated with someone who was just doing unassisted straight bodyweight dips, which I'm sure our gym-denizen comrades will agree is pretty hardcore for "here's an intro to resistance training". Use a machine and stick more than 50% of your body mass on there to begin with. Just show up and do something. And enjoy!
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:04 PM on April 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


I like "super slow" as a muscle-building regime. Once a week for around 45 minutes.
posted by slkinsey at 4:10 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


(and the persistent assumption that "it'll get better, you'll love it eventually!" is highly deterring)

Absolutely this. Just reviewing that article brought back so many unpleasant memories.

I doggedly tried running for 3-4 years as a young man (until I got shin splints). A former girlfriend coaxed me into a gym membership and I kept it up for a couple of years (until I got sidetracked by moving to a different neighborhood that made gym-going very inconvenient). I've exercised on and off to greater or lesser degree for a significant portion of my adult life, but it has NEVER. NOT. ONCE. been anything but a miserable fucking slog - "runner's high" my sweaty aching ass. In all that time, exercising and non-, my body weight never wavered by more than 5lbs or so, and when I wasn't tired and aching from exercising I never felt any better or capable or stronger or whatever than in the periods when I wasn't exercising.

At some point in the process I inevitably get so sick of the miserableness that I decide screw it, I'd rather die overweight and before my time, and at least not pointlessly torment myself at the altar of "quality of life". At least I know how to cook well enough that I can enjoy a fairly healthy diet.... I know exercise is good for me, I'm perfectly aware of the benefits. But at this stage, semi-regular walks and the occasional hike are all I'm willing to commit to; and if those don't get me fit, well...to hell with it, eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:28 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I picked up on 5x5 on Metafilter about 8 months ago. I ramped up perhaps too quickly, let things slide over Christmas, and am now back on track with it. I only get in 2 workouts per week, but then I do other exercise related things, like high intensity sprints this morning.
Really a good program for getting started at resistance training. The best part is no one uses the power rack at my gym. They use everything but that rack so I always have it available when I want to do a session.
There's definitely a limit to following a linear scale of lift weights. I feel better doing it and really advocate using this to get started. First time I've been able to follow a weight lifting regimen and stick to it.
posted by diode at 4:39 PM on April 5, 2019


but you could use a squat stand instead.

Yeah, I have these guys, which are even cheaper and stow in a smaller space and plenty good enough. Also I spent a little money getting rubber bumper plates which is unnecessary but it psychologically lets me stop worrying about dropping it. (Which I have never once done). Plus, I like it when all the plate diameters match and it looks like you're lifting a truck axle. Hey, whatever it takes to make it fun and not a chore.
posted by ctmf at 7:08 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


So perhaps the more useful solution would be an effective answer to "how do you do something you need to do regularly, which isn't enjoyable, and which the benefits (or harms-from-abstaining) are abstract and years in the future vs. showing up when you miss it?"

Telf's comment above is great: in academic circles, we talk about failure being a necessary part of learning. Obviously you want to avoid injury, but the idea of needing to push a certain (controlled, not to the point of injury) amount into one's discomfort zone in order to improve in something is the same between developing a physical skill and developing an academic skill. Yet the idea that experiencing any of these types of discomfort reflects badly on us is so prevalent in our culture, it's really hard to avoid. In education, they talk about mindset (eg. growth mindset versus fixed mindset); it sounds like the same thing applies here. So one thing to look into might be effective "mindset interventions".

But also, this is a general question about how to motivate oneself to do the thing that has delayed rewards relative to whatever is preventing one from getting started. I'm by no means an expert practitioner of any of the following advice, but it seems to be, generally:
* habit and routine;
* change the incentive structures so that you build in more immediate rewards;
* change the incentive structures so that the more immediate down side of not doing the thing outweighs the obstacles to getting started with doing the thing;
* be kind, generous, and gentle with yourself - understand that motivation is hard, and that you are doing your best. Some of the best (to me) advice on motivation I've read came from Captain Awkward, and specifically addresses why motivation can be so difficult.
posted by eviemath at 7:26 AM on April 6, 2019 [12 favorites]


Eviemath, that Captain Awkward link is going in my when-things-are-rough folder, thanks for sharing it.
posted by lemonade at 3:00 PM on April 6, 2019


I’m like cardio because I can do it outside and it’s often quiet and meditative (or a great time to catch up on new records/ podcasts). I really hate the strength training part of the gym because there’s lots of people around and to learn how to do the weights properly, I have to allow people inclined to yell/pressure/think that i’m Motivated by competition(i’m Not) to tell me what to do. But my upper body strength is shit and I know it. What I need is a best ever beginner strength training regime I can theoretically do at home with the barest minimu of equipment while listening to music and thinking as little as possible about the grunty, shouty, jock-y ness of what i’m doing. I have zero interest in “getting strong” or “being stronger than,” but I would like to feel better as I get myself around the world as I age. Or to put another way, what is the best way to weight train that will absolutely not remind me of toxic masculinity.
posted by thivaia at 7:49 PM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Somewhat related: just discovered and bookmarked https://thefitness.wiki/
Not sure if it's worth a separate FPP.
posted by usertm at 10:10 PM on April 6, 2019


What do I do about serious (like, limping and groaning for days) post-weightlifting soreness? And I'm not going 110% every time either.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:40 PM on April 6, 2019


The dose makes the poison.

Just start off with less work and give your body time to catch up. I'd reduce my overall volume (# of repetitions). I'm not sure what you've done in previous workouts but it's probably too much for where you are. That being said, I've found that most people adapt to a moderate program in about 2 weeks as long as progress isn't too aggressive and they're able to maintain some consistency.

What I mean is that if you're doing a barebone 3x/week program and you're not increasing total # of reps or intensity (let's just say weight/resistance in this case) then your body will get used to it. Training is a conversation with your body where you give it the prompts to get better. It's not a punishment/self flagellation.

There's an old adage from Lee Haney: "Stimulate, don't annihilate." Generally higher reps are more associated with soreness than intensity (weight) is. For example, if I follow a 12 week program that has me working at heavy weights for repetitions of 1-6 reps per set, I probably won't be sore. But if I finish that program and start doing a program with 10+ reps per set then I will be brutally sore for the first week or two until my body adapts to that volume. Generally leg soreness is more debilitating than upper body soreness so be moderate with those squats, lunges and deadlifts until you get used to the movements.

Delayed onset muscle soreness is usually the worst not the day after, but two days after. So if you work out on monday, you'll sore on tuesday and mega sore on wednesday then will get better over the next few days.

If you're already sore by the end of your workout, then that's probably too much work for you. Learn the difference between discomfort, soreness and pain. They're all signals.

Though it's not a perfect proxy, moderate soreness is a pretty good indicator that you've stressed your body enough to adapt.

The worst thing you can do is go in 110% then get too sore to work out and lose momentum and then start all over again a few weeks later. Go in at 70-80% and gradually give yourself time.

No one implement is "better" than another. What I mean is that if you need to do light goblet squats with a 2 lb dumbbell for a few weeks, that's fine. There's nothing inherently better about using a barbell immediately. The only advantage to a barbell is that you can load it more precisely at higher loads and that you can add a lot of weight to it. Dumbbells and kettlebells will do you fine. Bands are great but they're very hard to quantify the resistance and things like distance from point of attachment are very hard to control for. This can make it hard to measure progress if you're inclined to track those sorts of things.

Bodyweight work can be very difficult. The reason a lot of people use machines or certain free weight exercises is because at first, the body weight stuff can be really tough and demoralizing. IE Pull ups are hard for a lot of the population, lat pull downs can be adjusted to your ability. In the same token, certain bodyweight movements like lunges and squats can be very challenging at first. Maybe find a trainer who can scale down certain movements by providing a bench or some support to reduce range of motion or instability until you're ready to progress to the full movement.

I think the greatest gift of exercise is that it can free you from feeling trapped in your own body. So many people are limited by their physical abilities. Suddenly regaining the ability to run, jump, walk up stairs, tie your shoes, pick things up, kneel and play is literally liberating. This is true for almost everyone. I've worked with clients in wheelchairs, on crutches, amputees and everyone can improve within their limitations. The key is not to judge yourself against others but from where you started.

I've never worked with the guys, but maybe try this free movnat course. It's not aggressive and will just focus on body control and basic bodyweight movements. They start off gradually. There is a big evolutionary/paleo spin on this and many people are put off by this. Luckily it's not too in your face and they provide a lot of quality free content and videos. I think they do a good job from extricating exercise from the hardcore chalk, chains and veins aesthetic that turns too many people off.
posted by Telf at 1:54 AM on April 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


What do I do about serious (like, limping and groaning for days) post-weightlifting soreness? And I'm not going 110% every time either.

Hair of the dog remedy. When you're sore, do it again, just not the the same extent. Bodyweight or light squats makes the soreness from heavy squats go away. (*But know the difference between routine soreness and actual injury).
posted by ctmf at 10:42 AM on April 7, 2019


I do miss my barbells, as I was doing pretty well with those and really enjoyed heavy deadlifting (heavy for me anyway, my best single pull was 187.5kg). But with the move to our new townhouse I didn't have the space for it all any more, so sold it.

Now I've got a bunch of kettlebells but have been really really lazy about my training. Time to get stuck back in I think. I'll be starting from scratch again, but that's ok. It's gotta get done.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:23 PM on April 7, 2019


Thanks to this post, I bought a resistance band at Target yesterday and tried the "at home" workout today. I liked it a lot! I have some experience with strength training from a brief Crossfit stint a couple of years ago (I loved it but my knees didn't) but I'd forgotten how tired you can get from just like 10 minutes of intense strength-related exercise.

The only problem is that the resistance band I bought was too long and didn't work that great with the seated row.

Also, if you have back or knee problems, be careful with any exercise that involves a lot of squats without having someone teach you the proper form. Squats with the wrong form can be really hard on either (with the right form, they can be great for both).

What do I do about serious (like, limping and groaning for days) post-weightlifting soreness? And I'm not going 110% every time either.

Yep, what ctmf says. It's amazing how doing a light version similar exercises makes you feel a lot better! Also, go for a walk or something like that on your rest day.
posted by lunasol at 3:24 PM on April 7, 2019


The only problem is that the resistance band I bought was too long and didn't work that great with the seated row.

1) One option could be to wrap the band around your hands to shorten the length. It will also help with gripping the band more securely. It can be wrapped around the hand several times depending on how much shortening is desired.
2) Another option could be to move further back from where the band is attached, but that may be constrained by the amount of space behind you.
3) A third option could be to fold the band in half before attaching it, effectively shortening the length by half. This will also increase the resistance of the band a lot, so that depends on how much force you want to use with the exercise.

My physiotherapist taught me those tricks for working with resistance bands. The tricks work better for bands without handles, but you could also use the same principles and loop the band around the feet/distal point of attachment several times to shorten it.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 4:36 PM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Thanks for those suggestions! My resistance band does have handles, but I think I can just wrap the band part around my hand.
posted by lunasol at 10:00 PM on April 7, 2019


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