Why We Lift
Strength/resistance training is not the end-all/be-all of exercise. Cardio and strength training both have a wide variety of different benefits, and from my research, they are both just as important. No matter what your goals are, you are missing large benefits if you train one way and ignore the other.
That being said, until I started strength training, I didn't know what I was missing. When I start my day with resistance training, I notice enormous improvements to my mood and energy for the rest of the day and I feel like I'm ready to tackle whatever decides to come at me.
Even though most of my posts dig deeper into optimizing your training/nutrition, what is more important is the individuality - why it is important to you and what keeps you motivated to come back to the gym day after day.
For this post, I decided to ask the following question in a Facebook Group and I want to share the wonderful anecdotes that I received...
Here are several different of the answers that I received:
These are all answers from one Facebook Group. I'm sure there are hundreds of unique reasons.
If you lift and you would like to add your reason to the list, take a minute and comment on this post!
I love getting these answers and I hope these reactions "wow" you like they did for me. Whether you are male or female, 15 or 50+ years old, you are bound to reap the benefits, both physical and mental.
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This book review is actually on two separate books but they are bought together and they are meant to be read together as well. They are also meant to be read in that order - The Art of Lifting goes through what Greg Nuckols and Omar Isuf believe what should be general knowledge for coaches and everyone who lifts weights while The Science of Lifting goes into the research that less people are likely to be aware of if they have not gone through any courses or read any textbooks on Exercise Science. Both Omar and Greg are popular strength coaches that have helped hundreds of thousands of people through Omar's YouTube Channel and Greg's website, StrongerByScience.com (where these books are sold).
The thing that these books do best is covering so many topics and getting right to the point. I've read multiple health and fitness books that repeat information over and over as if they're trying to brainwash you into accepting their theory as truth. Greg and Omar went completely counter to that - for instance, The Art of Lifting is only 108 pages but each of its 31 chapters has great nuggets of information for lifters. The Science of Lifting has slightly longer chapters but that is because they are explaining the science behind their suggestions.
They also make it clear that the suggestions they give in these books are just that. They are providing what works for most people, most of the time but every individual is a bit different. You and your coach should be working to find what works best for you.
The Art of Lifting
This book is broken up into two sections - "Stuff That Matters" and "Stuff That Doesn't Matter". Essentially, this "Stuff That Matters" are concepts that give you enough to get you 90% of your maximum results from training, covering topics like volume, intensity, sleep, individuality, and goals. For the "Stuff that Doesn't Matter," these are things that are talked about a lot in the fitness space but may only be beneficial if you want to be at the top of your game and you make your money by being a professional athlete, covering topics like clean eating, supplements, and optimizing your training.
Here are some of what I found to be Greg and Omar's key tips found in this book:
The Science of Lifting
This book goes deep into several topics including meal frequency, training frequency, what positively affects gains (genetic factors, steroids), what negatively affects gains (outside stress), peaking fitness and performance, nutrition, and more. By using research and graphs to help explain, The Science of Lifting spells out what effects your strength and performance in the gym, and by just how much.
Here are some of the nuggets that Greg and Omar included in this book:
These books are filled with valuable information are definitely worth reading, whether you are a beginner or intermediate-level lifter. With short chapters and lots of figures, they are easy to read and the knowledge that Greg and Omar share will help you figure out what is important for hypertrophy and strength gains.
This book pairs well with Mike Matthew's Bigger Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger. If you are thinking about getting into lifting, I strongly suggest reading BLS or TLS to get your way into a good program and then use The Art & Science of Lifting when/if you decide to make tweaks and improve your gains even more.
The Art & Science of Lifting currently only comes as an e-book, and comes in a set for roughly $30. It is sold here.
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Simplifying Protein (Part 1 of 2)
Protein is, and I'm sure will always be, a hot topic in people who live any sort of active lifestyle - whether you are a weightlifter, bodybuilder, or a triathlete, you want to make sure you're getting the correct amount. Well, as much as people like to over-complicate it, experts who follow science as well as have decades of experience coaching have similar suggestions that are very simple.
Let's break it down...
Protein Needed for Building Muscle
When you are bulking, extra benefits are rare above 0.8g/lb of bodyweight per day. For an easy target. shoot for 1g/lb or 2g/kg per day (Greg Nuckols, Mike Matthews, Ben Greenfield).
Protein Needed While Dieting
When you are dieting, experts recommend that you get a little more protein - to aim for 1.1-1.3g/lb of bodyweight. This is just an extra 15-60g if you're between 150-200lb or 70-90kg (Greg Nuckols, Mike Matthews).
General Advice on Protein
This is a very short post simply because there's not much to it. These three experts, who I have given general descriptions of below along with where the suggestions come from below, agree to very similar numbers from the research they have done.
In my next post, I will show how easy it is to get this amount of protein each day. 150g can sound like a lot as a goal but if you break down what you eat throughout the day, I find it very easy to obtain as long as I'm eating whole foods and getting a good variety of nuts, meat, dairy, etc. So look out for Part 2!
Greg Nuckols of StrongerByScience.com is a well-respected powerlifter who is known for his science-based knowledge and his experience from coaching and from achieving multiple world records over his 10+ years experience of lifting. Information in this post that comes from Greg Nuckols specifically comes from p.50-51 of his book The Art of Lifting.
Mike Matthews of LegionAthletics.com has helped hundreds of thousands reach their goals as beginner weightlifters through his books. He has several books but his flagship books and weightlifting programs are Bigger Leaner Stronger for men and Thinner Leaner Stronger for women. He also runs a successful supplement company, Legion Athletics, his podcast, Muscle For Life, and is known for his easy-to-follow science-based approach. Information in this post that comes from Mike Matthews specifically comes from p. 182 of his book Bigger Leaner Stronger.
Ben Greenfield of BenGreenfieldFitness.com is a former triathlete and coach who is known for his knowledge on biomechanics, fitness technology, and longevity. He has written several (14 or 15) books, has hosted multiple top fitness podcasts, has been a multiple-time guest on Joe Rogan's podcast, and speaks all around the world at conferences in between when he is coaching athletes and CEOs, writing books, and writing in-depth articles. Information in this post that comes from Ben Greenfield specifically comes from p. 108 of his book, Beyond Training.
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The Stronger By Science Podcast - Q&A: Keto, Rapid Fat Loss, Deadlifts, and Faulty Movement Patterns (August 29, 2019)
The expert that I am currently studying is Greg Nuckols. Greg is a well-known, record-breaking powerlifter who is not only a trusted strength coach but also a great resource through his website, strongerbyscience.com, where he shares advice on strength training through with his articles, books, podcast, and his monthly subscription, Monthly Applications in Strength Sport (MASS), where him and his colleagues share what they find from deep-diving into the scientific research on specific topics. Greg has done over 100 interviews for other podcasts and also has done several seminars. Impressive is an understatement for not even hitting 30 years old and having this large of a resume while also recently obtaining his Master's in Exercise Science.
This post is to go over some great tips that he shares in one of his podcast episodes on The Stronger by Science Podcast. This podcast can be found here as well as places like Spotify and the Apple Podcast app.
Tip 1: Better Tools Than the Big Three for Physique Training
This tip is interesting coming from a record-breaking powerlifter. He advises that if you are training for physique rather than competition, that there are better tools than the conventional barbell bench press, deadlift, and back squat. Here are his suggestions...
Alternatives to the Back Squat:
Tip 2: The Power of Planks
If you work an office job or are mostly sedentary, planks are a great way to warm-up before a workout to get the core tight and spine ready. Side planks, especially.
Tip 3: Advice on Certifications and Reading for Coaching
For someone who wants to be a trainer, he gives basic tips on how to be a knowledgeable coach:
Tip 4: Being a Good Student
Greg gives multiple tips on how to improve your test-taking abilities and how to retain information that you study.
I wanted to share this episode because of the sheer amount and variety of great information. Greg is full of science research info and knowledge on training. I personally love the Big Three but I am going to take his lifting considerations and work more with resisted push-ups and the front squat. If I plan on giving any coaching advice myself rather than referencing experts, I will be sure to read the textbooks he suggested as well.
If you want to hear more advice from Greg, check out his website, strongerbyscience.com. The Stronger By Science Podcast and his monthly subscription, MASS, are both great resources for people interested in the science behind strength training.
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Just like a guitar gets out of tune after a while, so do we with our goals. Personally, I seem to cling to 2 or 3 goals and lose sight of the others after a few months. I would not say they are more important; some goals need more attention and daily commitment so they are on my mind every day.
This post is to take information from Michael Hyatt's book Your Best Year Ever along with Warren Buffet's 5/25 Rule, which seem to compliment each other. If you do not know Warren Buffet's method and you have never written your goals down, my post Setting Goals (Warren Buffet, Jordan Pederson) is more for you. Michael Hyatt's method of revising/assessing goals compliments Warren Buffet's method nicely. Hyatt recommends realigning your goals every quarter and either rejoicing, recommitting, revising, removing, or replacing your past goals.
To be honest, yesterday was the first time I tuned my goals since July of last year but I feel Hyatt gave me the tools to do this the right way so I would like to share it with you:
Step 1: List Your Past Goals
Even if you have them written down somewhere else, write them down again. As you write them down, you will start assessing in your head how you've progressed on that goal, especially if it is a goal that was not being addressed daily.
Step 2: Assess How You Did
This is possibly the most crucial step. Take each goal that you listed in Step 1 and evaluate in a short paragraph whether you reached your goal, still making good progress, if that goal is still an important one to you, etc. Maybe that goal is no longer even relevant. This step will get you thinking on what you can adjust - maybe you need to take things up a notch or maybe that goal was unrealistic.
Step 3: Find Potential New Goals
This is the most exciting part, at least for me, and there are many ways to go about this. As I mentioned before, I take Warren Buffet's 5/25 and Michael Hyatt's method and throw them in a blender. The biggest difference is that Buffet's method has 5 different categories (health and fitness, career, lifestyle, relationship, and education while Hyatt uses 10. They are similar, Hyatt's categories are just more specific.
So yesterday, I started by using Hyatt's LifeScore Assessment. This 5-10 minute quiz is a great way he created to help you realize what areas of your life you are doing well in and what areas need improvement. Here is what mine looks like (ignore the Parental section, I purposely failed because I am not currently a parent and so it does not apply to me).
I took this information and realized that I should be working on the Avocational (hobbies), Social, and Spiritual areas of my life and brainstormed ideas for how I can bring improvement to those areas. For example, one goal idea was to find a gym that I enjoy going to or a club that includes one of my hobbies - this would improve both Avocational and Social. For Spiritual, one idea was to add more reflection to my morning ritual. Currently, I read the daily reading from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday but I could add a minute or two to reflect afterward.
Step 4: Create a List of New Goals
This is where you take Step 2 and Step 3 to compile your new goals. Write down all your revised goals and all your new goals in one list. My full list included 9 goals. Half of these goals have a deadline (like the end of this year) and the rest are things that I could work on in general like re-establishing old relationships and improving the relationships I currently have (this is generalizing, my goals are more specific than that).
Step 5: Narrow and Prioritize Your Goals
It's important to take a seriously look at the list you created in Step 4 and figuring out what goals matter most. I wish that I could accomplish all 9 goals but some I had to say "maybe next year" to. Experts advise not spreading yourself too thin - personally, having 5 or 6 goals is plenty for me.
This overall process took me approximately 2 hours to complete yesterday but it was time well spent. I plan to take Michael Hyatt's advice of assessing goals quarterly - I may just do Step 1 and 2 if things are going well and I don't see myself setting new goals and do this full process at least once per year. I also decided to write down my finalized list of goals and place it in the book I read each morning so that I spend a minute to look at all of my goals each morning and think of what I can do that day to get closer to reaching them.
If you find this approach helpful, please let me know in the comments! With the COVID-19 situation we have currently, this is a fantastic time for reflecting and setting goals for your future.
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Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.