Random thoughts on exercise

I see people splitting hairs about exercise and nutrition. Here is a reality check as far as exercise goes. Get your basics right first before you get into the crazy details.

  1. Exercise is meant to make you feel and perform better. If you feel like crap the day after working out (joint pains, inflammation, headache etc.) you’re doing it all wrong.
  2. Fatigue is not a sign of a good workout. Neither is muscle soreness.
  3. Running 10km everyday is hurting you much more than helping you.
  4. Deadlifts are meant to strengthen your back. Don’t do them with bad form and/or in high volume and mess up your back. If you don’t know how to do them, find a trainer who can teach you how to do them. If that’s not a possibility then you are better off without deadlifts.
  5. Dumbbell work is as effective (if not more) as barbell work.
  6. Most people can build impressive bodies, great strength and exceptional endurance with only body-weight exercises.
  7. Crunches/situps mess up your lower back. Enough said.
  8. Chinups work your biceps more than any form of curls would.
  9. A baby doesn’t learn to squat. He/she learns to stand up from a squat. If you can’t do a proper squat you are in pretty bad shape.
  10. Rest and recovery are underrated. The more you rest, the better you recover, the stronger/faster you get and the longer you live.
  11. If gaining strength is one of your goals, then there is no reason for you to not back squat or front squat at least once a week.
  12. It’s not about how strong or fast you are. It’s about how long you can continue to be that strong or fast.
  13. Mobility is king. Without mobility your strength and endurance won’t last long.
  14. Losing muscle in the name of weight loss is the same as chopping off one of your limbs to lose a few pounds.
  15. If you’re sick, take the day off. No good comes from training when you’re sick.
  16. Weight training does not make women bulk up. Women don’t have the required amount of testosterone for that to happen. There are guys in them gym beating the piss out of themselves all day everyday and even they don’t bulk up!
  17. Kettlebell swings are legit and awesome for your posterior chain.
  18. Aerobic training 5 days a week is detrimental to health.
  19. Working out 7 days a week is unnecessary and dangerous if you’re not a competitive athlete getting paid in millions.
  20. The fancier the exercise name the more waste of time it is.
  21. The more complex the training protocol, the less effective it is.
  22. Getting stronger and looking great is simple. Not easy. But simple.
  23. There is no magic pill.
  24. It’s not strength training if you’re not stronger. 3 sets of 10 reps with the same weight for 3 months is a waste of God given time.
  25. The only sure shot way to success is progression i.e. minimal load/distance/effort increase over time.
  26. Strong is the new skinny. Every self-respecting male  and, especially, female should strength train.
  27. Cardio is overrated. Most people don’t need more than one sprint session and 2-3 days of 45 mins of brisk walking per week to achieve cardiovascular health.
  28. Plyometrics is one thing that isn’t overrated and is nothing short of awesome.
  29. More is NOT better. Better is better. Just 2 sessions of smart training per week is superior to 6 sessions of stupid training.

Stay sane folks!

PS: I’ll follow this one up with something similar for nutrition.

15 responses to “Random thoughts on exercise

  1. ML January 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Personally, I like the feeling of DOMS. I am a 45 yo female who is beginning to lift a bit heavy, and love it. I don’t feel as if I’ve worked unless I have some soreness. Frankly, isn’t that what we are doing? Tearing muscles with the soreness as the repair, thus growing ? LOVE IT.

    I am working on a blog called Why Weight for southern ladies over 40 who should be lifting a bit heavier than the 5lbs they’ve been lifting for years! Changed my life and my look…

    I enjoy your blog and told the guys at the gym about it.

    • RG January 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm

      More power to you for pushing weight training!

      DOMS, though definitely not a bad sign, is not the only way to say if you’ve had a good workout. Once you start lifting consistently you feel sore only after particularly stressful workout sessions (which should occur rarely) or immediately after starting a new program a.k.a new type of stimulus.

      Thank you for passing on the good word!

  2. Mahesh January 18, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Neat and to the point as always!
    Progression is the key. Nothing can beat squats and deadlifts.Absolutely essential to day to day life.

    • RG January 18, 2011 at 11:36 pm

      Thank mahesh. Glad your progression is going well. Workout and eat plenty per the plan and you’ll see PRs every week starting now.

  3. Divya Meenakshi January 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Uh oh, why do I think I’m going to hear from you about my aerobics? 🙂

  4. Lavanya January 19, 2011 at 1:16 am

    “Getting stronger and looking great is simple. Not easy. But simple.”


  5. bee January 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    kettlebells!! they are the best. and martial arts. a combo of the two is optimal.

  6. Cameron January 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Wow. There are some things here that I agree with, but it sounds like you’re making too many generalizations off of your personal and admittedly limited experience.

    Care to discuss?

    • RG January 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      I did have a quick look at your blog and your latest post was def a goodie. Makes me think you’re legit. So why not. I’m open to learning as much as preaching. Let’s discuss.

      • Cameron January 21, 2011 at 7:27 am

        I’m not sure of the best way to do this. I could take it point by point, but that method may be better reserved for an email. I suppose for now I’ll pick some highlights.

        I agree that:
        10. rest and recovery are underrated
        –I don’t think this is a problem for most competitive athletes, but in terms of the general public, yes, I would say so.
        23. there is no magic pill
        –Yup. Eat correctly, sleep well, exercise a lot, etc. And pray that you are fortunate enough do be able to do all of these things.
        16. Weight training doesn’t make women bulk up
        –(generally), yes. Depends on their training history and what the type of weight training among other things.

        I disagree with or would like to know your basis for the following:
        2. Fatigue is not a sign of a good workout.
        –Some workouts are specifically meant to induce fatigue as part of the stimulus so that muscle groups become more efficient at clearing lactate and the LT is increased.

        18. Aerobic training 5 days a week is detrimental to health.
        –First of all, define what you mean by aerobic training. Second, why 5 days? Why not 6, or everyday? Lastly, what about aerobic training is detrimental to health? Am I in poor health because I run 50+ miles a week? And in line with this –
        3. Running 10km a day is hurting you much more than helping you.
        –Please explain this statement. This is minimal by elite standards and many amateur and professional athletes (including myself) do this with no problems.

        29. More is NOT better.
        –I would say more is not necessarily better. It can be. If you’re in a microcycle period of over-reaching then it is actually planned for. Granted, it must be intelligently done.

        26. Strong is the new skinny.
        –I don’t understand the hyperbolic statement.
        Yes, everyone should probably do some strength training. But, that is relative to the task. There’s no need for someone like me to work towards a 3-4x bodyweight deadlift when 2-2.5x is sufficient for performance.

        19. Working out 7 days a week is unnecessary and dangerous…
        –Why and how so? What if you’re an amateur athlete? What if you have a proper understanding of nutrition and have good recovery practices?

        Again, I do not wish to go on point by point in a post like this and this by no means sums up what I agree and/or disagree with, but I feel like this is a good place to start. I think the biggest issue is clarification, i.e. it would help if you expounded on your points instead of listing them off as fact, which most of these aren’t.

        Look forward to hearing from you.

      • RG January 21, 2011 at 8:56 am

        All good points. I think the answer to all your questions is the same.
        1. If you havent read the other posts on this blog, I am in no way elite or a competitive lifter/runner etc. I train for health and fitness and talk equally or more about nutrition and well being. Of course all recommendations are different when it comes to the elite or competitive athletes. Example – 10k for 10 days is no big deal for an ultra marathoner or even a marathoner. Sure. But most of my readers are interested in general fitness and most of them look at running to lose fat and my point is that it is not helping them.

        2. I happen to know who my readers are and am giving them the information they require. Not many people who read my posts aspire to achieve a 4xBW deadlift. Most people are looking to correct their existing back issues and hopefully pull a reasonable weight off the floor. Not many of them need to workout 7 days a week.. cos performance is not quite their goal. It is well being. Some of them look at aerobic training 5 days a week as a way to lose all fat and look good. My point here is that they need basic strength training + low intensity cardio + high intensity cardio programmed smartly to get the best results.

        Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts… but try looking at it from a beginners stand point. I’m not creating elites here… I’m just helping regular people live disease free with strength speed endurance and mobility.

        Hope this answered your questions sufficiently. If you would like discuss further please email me at raj.hbfser@gmail.com.

  7. Pingback: Random thoughts on nutrition « Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

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