Ever been embarrassed you got caught up in hype? I’ve been feeling like that about leg training, specifically with respect to squats and their apparent superiority over the leg press. The punchline: as far as building muscle goes, leg pressing is just as good as squatting.
Our bodies aren’t naturally inclined towards maximum strength and muscle*, which means a strong stimulus is required to force changes.
It’s logical to think we’d need a lot of different exercises, each with its own contribution towards building a large adaptive response. However, decades of training and experimentation has taught me that just five will do it.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to choose between abs or enjoying food? With intermittent fasting you get exactly that. Using it, I eat what I want and stay very lean. It also has some major potential benefits for health, including anti-cancer and anti-aging effects.
I love progress photos, but especially seeing what kind of condition people can maintain long term. In case you’re similarly interested, here’s my own situation. I’ll include a few lifestyle details about what I’ve found works to build muscle and remain lean.
A fair argument could be made that you have to be a bit of a masochist to enjoy working out. It’s often physically uncomfortable, if not downright painful. That’s why exercise is seen as a chore, grudgingly done out of sense of duty to maintain a loosely defined state of health. It doesn’t have to be like that, though. By reframing how you think of it, you can change exercise from a job into a pleasure.
Squats are renowned as being an exercise you should do. Some go so far as insisting it’s the single best exercise there is. But if you’re not blessed with short femurs and a long torso, or simply don’t know how to do it, it can be an awkward movement that leads to constant pain and injury.
That was the case with me, squats always hurt my knees and back. Over the years I kept experimenting with technique and finally found a method that permitted a very deep squat with no knee or back pain. It can be distilled down to two things:
Rethinking the squat as a hip exercise as opposed to a leg one.
Consciously using my glutes to keep my hips open throughout the movement.
There are few certainties in life. Proverbial wisdom counts death and taxes among them, but back pain should be on that list. Everyone seems to suffer it at some point, and it can be incredibly debilitating because our backs are involved in almost everything we do.
This article is an exploration of all the things I tried to heal back pain. What finally worked was completely rethinking how I use my back, and, surprisingly, heavy resistance training—specifically progressive range of motion squats and deadlifts.
Since the beginning of time man has pondered the important question of how to look cool with no shirt on. For those with the right parents, it’s easy: lift heavy things and eat lots. However, that plan won’t work for the hardgainer with a slow metabolism. We’ll get slightly bigger and stronger, but mostly just fat. All is not lost, though. Our muscle mass might be meagre, but by focussing on being lean, we can still have a head-turning physique.