If you aren’t strength training already, I highly encourage it. The benefits are many: increased physical attractiveness and general physical health, potential rehabilitation of old injuries or addressing impairments, increased performance (possibly as it relates to “sports”), and finally, it’s just a damn good time and feels great.
I don’t care if you’re a bodybuilder, a weightlifter, a strongman, a crossfitter, or a couch potato; you need strength training in your life.*
I’m not going to get into a really involved post about which program you should follow, how many sets or reps you should do, or how often you should do cardio. You can make progress following just about any program, and any program worth the time it takes to read will tell you all of those details. I have made good progress with 5/3/1, and Mr. Riven is excelling under Starting Strength. I’d recommend either, but obviously Starting Strength is the way to go if you’re new to the barbell.
There are four main barbell lifts: the overhead press, the bench press, the back squat, and the deadlift.
Last time we covered the overhead press; today, we’re going to discuss the deadlift.
So, I know I said before that the overhead press is pretty approachable and that’s not wrong; however, the deadlift is right up there, too. What could be simpler than looking at a weighted barbell on the ground, bending down, and lifting it with straight arms? There’s nothing better than the feeling of a solidly good deadlift. (Well, maybe some things.) I guess you could say this about any barbell lift, but mechanically they’re all very simple because they must be. When you execute a lift well, it should feel great.
You know I’m going to have to link to the Art of Manliness video in which Rippetoe‘s mustache instructs the other guy’s mustache how to make the sack of meat that carries him around deadlift properly.
I’m also going to link Alan Thrall’s samey video–though I should point out that this time it’s a full beard instructing instead of a mustache. If these two videos sound similar, it’s because they’re both operating on this set of knowledge. There is a wealth of articles and information on the deadlift just on startingstrength.com alone, and both Thrall and (obviously) Rippetoe draw on that for their videos.
I like pulling information from different folks on the same material. In particular, I like to listen for different cues since some will resonate with you and some won’t. For instance: I’d been improperly interpreting the “proud chest” cue in both the deadlift and the low bar squat, leading to poor torso-hip angles on my lifts. It wasn’t until I heard the alternative cue “tight back” that I realized I’d been focusing on the wrong things. “Ooooh, it’s not that I need to keep my chest up, necessarily; it’s that I need to keep my back, lats, etc., tight. This will keep my back straight throughout the lift, and raising the chest is only a mechanical effect of that.” What a spaz, right? So listen for different cues. And use a hook grip or you’re dead to me. I know it’s uncomfortable; deal.
Having read the comments in the last section (but, of course, being too busy playing Horizon and the NieR demo in my underwear to participate), I noticed a few folks mentioning wanting to get into better shape but having various (valid) excuses: older, injured, don’t have the equipment, don’t want to join a gym, and more. Here is a link to a what I’ve found to be the most comprehensive, grounded, and even-handed approach to dieting–and that includes both dropping and gaining weight. I used to be pretty heavy, and one day I’d just had enough of looking at myself in the mirror and wishing it was different. Wishing doesn’t make it so. I ignorantly crash dieted down to a meager 120 pounds, but I still looked like hell–just a scant, paltry hell instead of a pudgy, chubby hell. I used the advice in the above forum to slowly put on another 30 pounds while lifting (forever bulk!), slowly lose 10-15 of those pounds without any of this nonsense, and I’ve been slowly, slowly, soooo slowly recomping in the 135-140 range ever since. All this to say I’m much happier with how I look now at 135-and-change than I was when I was lighter. It’s crazy what a little muscle-mass can do. The first time I sat on my actual ass in an office chair (y’know, instead of a pad of fat) was revelatory and over-all just awesome. You, too, can sit on your ass.
Bonus: some burly cheesecake for you (hat-tip to LT_Fish) from the last article’s comment section. That’s a real nice jerk on the beach in #8, just sayin’!
*Disclaimer: always consult a physician before starting a new fitness routine.