Jake Logflume is an opinionated sonuvabitch. Jake Logflume likes to refer to himself in third person and address topics by titling them “On ____________.” The last post was tied together with a pretty recognizable weightlifting quote voiced by one of our country’s founding fathers. In that same vein, I’d like to take the opportunity to say a few words on the fitness industry.
Christ, where to begin. Everybody and their mother claims to have the next best fitness solution that’s guaranteed to melt away fat and build rock-hard muscle. If you buy their product/service and train really hard for approximately 30 days, you’ll be able to slip into those size 32 jorts you rocked in high school and instantly find yourself knee-deep in muff…or dong; whatever, you get the point.
I’d love to take the time to blow holes through every claim made by these products/services, but the market is just so overly saturated with gimmicky bullshit that it would require a novel just to cover all of the idiocy.
But you’re in luck.
I’m here to offer you some unbiased, quality-tested, uber-scientific advice, completely free of charge. Will it get you results? Maybe. Will you leave feeling more knowledgeable? Debatable. Some of you may finish the article feeling duped because the information seems too overly simplistic. Rest assured, if you engage in half of what I’m about to share with you, you’ll be at least marginally better off than you were before.
The End Goal
For the sake of sparing you the unnecessary complexity that’s foolishly laced into most workout routines, there are really only two general looks you can aspire to attain at the gym. This helps create an easy dichotomy when thinking of the industry:
Bodybuilding appeals heavily to those folks who are interested solely in the aesthetic aspect of fitness. A large emphasis is placed on a symmetrical appearance and a proportionate anatomy, perhaps many times at the expense of functional strength.
When you think of your tried and true body builder, think Jake Cutler, Ronnie Coleman or any other roided-out freak that has pushed their bodies to the brink of deformity in an effort to achieve 33 inch biceps.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing a more aesthetic approach to the weight room — a case can be made that the Vitruvian man may have even been a classic Italian bodybuilder just based on his sheer symmetry — it’s just sometimes this regiment is analogous to the age-old euphemism “all bark and no bite.”
Lucky for you, most people seem to automatically assume that any muscle-y human being must be freakishly strong and isn’t to be fucked with. Many bodybuilders get away with this charade flawlessly, and if standing in front of the mirror while doing 100 dumbbell curls is your thing, then this option may be for you.
Biceps aren’t the only body part that receives overly acute attention, although they may be the most obvious. With bodybuilding, any glamour muscle that becomes super apparent through a skin tight shirt will likely consume the bulk of your workout routine. All things arms, chesticles, and perhaps the occasional calf raise to give the illusion of a lower body workout; you’ll be beach ready in no time.
Jake doesn’t personally subscribe to this philosophy for a number of reasons. Most people frequenting the gym seeking this superficial look tend to be after instant gratification. As a result, steroid and questionable supplement use run rampant throughout bodybuilding world, and it’s really more the norm than the exception. This isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to bodybuilding; it just happens to be more prevalent.
Functional strength is also an idea (mentioned previously) that’s completely overlooked in this school of thought. Sure, some bodybuilders may be able to curl 100 pound dumbbells and chest press a house, but how useful is this movement in our day to day lives? Short of feeling the need to navigate places on your hands or push everyone you meet, it’s hard to make a logical case for these types of motions.
Plus, Jake spends most of his time herding ox and hauling fresh timber, so a bodybuilding lifestyle would be extremely limiting.
When you think of an Olympic power lifter, this is what you should be associating with strength training. Even new-fangled workout regiments like Crossfit have their roots in strength training. Unfortunately, with the design and advent of overly expensive and largely useless workout equipment (e.g. the smith machine), this workout style took a back seat to the popularized bodybuilding scene for many years.
Strength training places an emphasis on exactly what the name suggests — building strength. No muscle isolation workout machines are required; all you need are some good old-fashioned barbells & free weights. From an economic standpoint, it’s much more palatable when compared to dropping $3,000 on something like this:
Those baller-ass workout shoes aren’t even included.
As for the specific lifts you should be focusing on, there are really only a handful of compound exercises you should be doing:
1. The Squat
If Jake was told he could only perform one lift for the remainder of his life, it would be the squat. Hack squats, front squats, back squats, skwat squats — any and every variation is useful. Back pain alleviation, sciatica relief, plumper glutes; the benefits truly know no bounds.
2. The Deadlift
Deadlifts are the second most useful lift on our short list. Switch up the variations (traditional and sumo) and play around with the grips (supine and hook), and you’ll be lifting boulders off the ground in no time.
3. The Bench
Arguably the least useful of the big three given its limited range of motion and muscle engagement. Everyone oddly uses the bench to dictate how strong they are, but beyond this hollow showmanship, it should be the least emphasized movement in your arsenal.
For all of these above exercises, stay in the 4–6 rep range and do as many sets as you feel comfortable with.
Ancillary exercises include pull-ups (every grip imaginable), dips, and push-ups. Consider purchasing a weight dip-belt so you can load up with extra kilos when lifting your body weight becomes too easy.
Any core exercise you’d like to throw into a routine will be beneficial as well given that every exercise should be performed with a tightened abdominal region.
There is a litany of information both online and in book format that covers proper form and technique. Strength coach and burly man aficionado, Mark Rippetoe, has made a living training athletes and writing books on these topics. I, Jake Logflume, am in no way affiliated with him from a financial standpoint. I do, however, recognize him as a deity in the strength-training community and feel that he should be treated as such.
No fitness routine is complete without the proper food intake and meal planning to go along with it. This is yet another industry that’s laden with misinformation and false promises (another day). Chances are you’ll be convinced that to become shredded it’s necessary to consume copious amounts of protein, pushing yourself to the point of kidney failure. Although protein consumption is important, it’s certainly not the end all be all.
Beverages — Limit your liquid intake to water, coffee (black), and tea (no cream/sugar). Anything else — sodas, juices, alcoholic beverages, will only hinder you in your quest for weight room dominance.
Food — Only eat real foods. ‘Real’ is italicized because anything that’s sold in a bag or a box was likely concocted in a lab. Stick to fresh produce, fruits, nuts, beans (legumes for the cultured folk), eggs, and the occasional lean meat or fish. Do some homework and learn how to cook meals from scratch. They taste better and are better for you.
And there you have it. Anybody pitching a product or service that grossly differs from the information above, or claims to offer drastic results with minimal effort, is likely just an asshole trying to take your money.
As always, Jake encourages you to do some independent research and see what you can dig up on your own. Keep in mind that Jake was breastfed until the age of 14, and has been chopping down maple trees since he lumbered out of the womb many fortnights ago. Contextually, this information may seem unrelated to any aspect of fitness whatsoever, but rest-assured, he knows what he’s talking about.