Krav Maga is Bullshit

Now that I’ve caught your attention with a provocative headline, let me explain in more detail what I really mean:

Krav Maga is such total bullshit.

Krav Maga may look cool, but it’s no different than any other choreographed traditional martial art. It looks flashy and has sweet weapon disarms but the system is fundamentally flawed. It may give suburban soccer moms a little confidence and situational awareness, but that’s about it. Do not take up Krav Maga if your goal is to learn self-defense.

The biggest problem with Krav Maga is that it doesn’t actually train with full speed against fully resisting opponents, nor does the art include any form of competition. You can practice those testicle grabs until you (and your opponent) are blue in the face, but if it’s only against cooperative opponents, it will never translate to real-world effectiveness.

You can practice those gun disarms, knife counters and knee kicks until the sun goes down, but that doesn’t mean much when your practice takes place against willing classmates. I’ll be generous and give you that you may build a little muscle memory practicing like this, but that’s about it. There are much better systems for real world self-defense.

Krav Maga demonstrations are crisp and clean. The opponents rush in with preplanned attack routes, they fall gracefully to punches, they give themselves up to throws and they always touch the gun right to your forehead. Fighting in the real world is dirty, sloppy, fast and unpredictable. Krav Maga does not teach you how to deal with dirty, sloppy, real-world fighting.

The funny thing is that Krav Maga people claim that dirty, real-world fighting is exactly where Krav Maga excels! They tell you that Krav Maga was designed by elite Israeli military commandos, that it is designed for maximum destruction and quick death! Eye pokes, testicle grabs and knee kicks galore!

The Dirty Secret of Dirty Fighting

Krav Maga instructors insist that their system emphasizes maximum efficiency through the use of deadly techniques such as groin shots and eye gouges. Well, I have some bad news for you. The dirty secret of dirty fighting is that dirty fighting doesn’t actually work as well as you might think.

If you find yourself up against a serious, determined opponent, your kicks to the groin will not instantly end the fight. First, you’ll probably miss. It’s not as easy to land a clean groin in a real, fast-moving fight. And even if you do land a groin shot, that is no guarantee that it will stop anyone. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.

Worst of all, that’s just the best case scenario. If you find yourself fighting off someone trained in a real martial art, your dirty tactics are going to be quickly overcome by his boxing, muay thai or grappling. The worst thing you can do against a skilled grappler is piss him off and try to poke his eyes out. He’s going to blink, curse and then kimura your shoulder to hell before he chokes you to death.

Eye-gouging case in point:

The same thing also goes for trying to gouge the eyes of a muay thai fighter or boxer. Do you really think you can get close enough or move fast enough to hit the eyes of a proficient striker? These guys spar and compete full speed all the time. It’s hard enough to hit a boxer anywhere in the head with a closed fist, let alone right in the eyes with your finger.

The same thing also goes for attacking the groin, kicking the knees, punching the throat and cuffing the ears. These are PROVEN to be low percentage techniques. Those are all difficult targets to hit just right to cause the desired reaction – especially in a slippery, sloppy self-defense situation.

If you want to use dirty techniques, learn a real martial art first. Learn how to dominate your opponents, control their bodies and to knock them unconscious. Then, you can take all the time you need to sink your 3rd knuckle into the eye socket.

1. Krav Maga is Too Deadly for Competition

“Secret Deadly Dragon Fu is too deadly for competition; it is for use on the streets to cripple or maim your attackers in life and death situations ONLY.”

-Every delusional martial artist ever.

It really doesn’t matter what your excuse is. Competition forces you to refine your techniques for use against fully resisting opponents. If you can’t compete, you cannot test your techniques against real people. You cannot improve your techniques. You get no experience using those techniques against fast-moving opponents who are also trying to hurt you.

Competition may not be a perfect replication of fighting in the streets, but it’s the best thing we’ve got. Padded gloves and a few basic rules do take away some of the realism, sure. That’s to be expected. But you really can’t train if you get crippled by 3 crackheads with baseball bats. You have to balance realism with actually surviving your competition.

Still convinced your trachea-grab is too deadly for competition? Well, how do you know? Because you practiced it against your instructor in a controlled simulation? Guess what: that doesn’t translate to the real world. If you can’t train it at full speed, you can’t test it and you can’t improve it. It’s useless.

Too much of Krav Maga training is done on paper and pencil. It may look deadly in theory, but you have no way of testing it if you can’t use it in competition. Practicing it in slow motion against your ex-Navy Seal instructor doesn’t cut it.

2. Krav Maga Was Designed by Elite Military Commandos

This is just another aspect of Krav Maga that sounds cool but has little substance. Elite military commandos train how to use firearms, how to work as a team to achieve some objective and whatever the hell else it is elite military commandos do. What I know for sure they don’t do is train in hand to hand combat all day, every day.

If you’re in the military and you find yourself without a weapon, face to face against an enemy, you done goofed a long time ago, son. Of course, things happen so the military does teach a little basic hand to hand combat. But they only have so much time to train you. It takes a long time (years) and a lot of training to actually become proficient in unarmed combat.

3. But We Do Spar in Krav Maga

If you actually spar in your Krav Maga fight, that’s a good sign you’re not in a complete McDojo situation. Do you spar with gloves, gear and limited rules? Do you allow grappling and takedowns? If so, that’s better than nothing.

If you spar with multiple people, you already know how hard it is to actually gain an advantage. If they are teaching you how to get the hell out when attacked by more than 1 person, that’s good news. You might be in one of the few legit KM schools in the world.

4. Krav Maga Trains You to Deal with Weapons Like in a Real Fight

If someone pulls a weapon on you in a real street fight, you are in serious trouble no matter what discipline you study. The best bet you have is to either escape or talk the attacker down. There is no training system in the world that will prepare you for someone with a knife, gun or baseball bat.

Weapon disarms look good in demonstrations and in movies, but they are rarely effective in real life. A knife in the hands of a determined foe is deadly. Even if you manage to get both hands on the attacker’s wrist, you are still vulnerable to other attacks from that opponent. Just when you manage to gain that wrist control, your attack soccer-kicks you right in the head or hands the knife off to his other hand.

5. Krav Maga Teaches You to Fight Multiple Opponents

This is complete bullshit. I’ve been in classes that teach you to fight multiple opponents and the only thing worthwhile is doing what you can to keep the opponents lined up (as opposed to letting them encircle you). Once you get tied up with one opponent, that all goes out the window.

There is no martial art in the world that will make you fight like a one-man army. It may look plausible in the movies, but it doesn’t work like that in real life. Two opponents are bad enough. Three or more opponents are deadly. You will not survive if you do not escape.

What I can respect is a Krav Maga school that teaches you to stay aware and get away from multiple opponents. But if your KM school teaches you to stand against multiple opponents, it’s most likely bullshit.

Now I will admit there may be scenarios in which you have no choice but to fight off multiple attackers. If you’re stuck with your girlfriend or you get trapped in a room, you may have no option but to fight. Unfortunately, that’s just a bad place to be. Neither Krav Maga nor nothing else will guarantee or even increase your odds of surviving such a situation.

6. Krav Maga teaches you situational awareness

Ok, I’ll give you guys this one. If a martial art teaches you to recognize, diffuse and/or avoid aggressive people, that’s great. Krav Maga students would be better off if that was the ONLY thing taught in Krav Maga. At least then they wouldn’t be instilled with the delusional self-confidence that is all too common in the martial arts world.

I also like that Krav Maga addresses situations in which other people depend on you. For example, dealing with an attacker while you’re out with the wife and kid. You can’t run in that situation, so you have to stand and face the threat.

If you can take Krav Maga as an auxiliary to your other martial arts training, you might get something out of it. Most other martial arts leave out all the situational awareness training. They don’t talk about avoidance and legal issues. In that case, Krav Maga may be worth your time.

When Krav Maga Isn’t All Bad

Supposedly, there are some legit Krav Maga schools out there. If you can find such a school, then it might be worth your while. But if your school is full of soccer moms and promises of turning you into a deadly killing machine, you’re probably in a McDojo.

The problem is that most Krav Maga schools are McDojos. They operate as businesses and will say whatever it takes to get you to believe in the system. You need to be very aware of this before you consider joining.

I’m not going to generalize ALL Krav schools as bullshit. There may be some good ones out there. If you are considering joining a KM school, go in with a healthy dose of skepticism. Remember that there are no legitimate fighting systems that are easy. If you want to become a skilled fighter, you have to put in hard work and hard training. You also need to spar against resisting opponents.

Do not join a Krav Maga school if you want to actually improve your fighting skills. Krav Maga will show you a few throws, a few strikes and a few grappling moves, but it will leave you weak in all areas. It’s sort of the “practitioner of all, but master of none” things.

What Krav Maga is good for is situational awareness, legal discussions and all the other stuff besides the actual combat. Join a KM school for that stuff (a legit school taught by someone with verifiable credentials). Do not join a gym to learn how to fight real people. If your goal is to win fights, join a boxing, judo, muay thai or Brazilian jiu jitsu school.

If I have upset you, feel free to leave a comment. I publish all non-spam comments. Feel free to defend Krav Maga here.

My Herniated Disc Success Story

Anyone out there suffering from a herniated or bulging disc, do not despair. I went through the same thing a couple years ago and it does eventually get better. Take heart right now. You will get through this. In my case, I even had back surgery (microdiscectomy) and was able to make a full recovery.

I was diagnosed with a bulging disc sometime in 2010 or 2011 by my doctor. I don’t remember exactly when it started, but I noticed one day that I’d get pain down the back of my right leg if I bent over or did any stretching on that side. It was so minor at first that I thought I just needed to work on my flexibility.

The pain slowly got worse and I also started noticing tingling sensations that would run down the back and sides of my leg. My doctor told me it was a probably a bulging disc and that I should take some time off. Time off didn’t do the trick, so he sent me to a physical therapist.

We tried the physical therapy thing for a year without any results. We tried traction, stretching exercises, nerve glides, needling, strengthening the abdominals and I can’t even remember what else. Nothing worked.

As the months passed, the pain turned into numbness. If I sat down for too long, my right foot and part of my leg would just fall asleep. Then the pain came back, but this time in my right hip. It got so bad that I couldn’t drive.

rageIt was fairly strong pain, but it wasn’t unbearable. The problem though was that it was constant. That was the most frustrating part of all. Every time I sat down, drove somewhere or tried to go to the gym, the pain would remind me that something was wrong with my body.

It was constantly nagging me and that had to be the worst part of all. It was just so incredibly frustrating to feel like my body was betraying me. I wanted a refund, dammit!

If you’re going through that right now, I honestly feel for you. It’s the most annoying, frustrating thing in the world – especially when you start missing workouts. There were times when I just wanted to reach back and rip my spine out with my bare hands and scream at it to get its act together. I’ve heard other people express similar thoughts. It’s normal.

IT WILL GET BETTER

Fast forward about a year and the doctors told me that it was probably better to get surgery than to risk permanent nerve damage from that damn bulging (possibly herniated) disc. I had the surgery in August of 2011, took 3 months off and then got back to the gym.

My Outcome

I’m fully recovered now and feel a thousand percent better than I did when I was going through this whole mess. I’d consider that a good outcome. I don’t do heavy squats or deads anymore, but there are ways to work around that.

Hopefully you won’t even get to the point of surgery. Most people eventually recover from bulging/herniated discs on their own. If you think you might be suffering from a bulging disc right now, take some time off from the gym and see a doctor.

Every once in a while, I still get a little twinge in my hip or down the back of my leg, but I think that’s just leftovers from the nerve damage. I probably put off surgery too long and still have a few minor lingering effects. My surgeon told me that my sciatic nerve looked horribly inflamed when he cut me open.

Overall though, that’s not a problem. It’s not a constant thing and it doesn’t affect my life in any major way. I look at those little flare-ups as a reminder to always watch my posture and lift smart.

Other than that, everything else is great. I’m back to doing cardio, lifting heavy and hitting PRs. I’m just as strong now as I was in my prime before surgery. No deads, no squats and no long distance runs for me, but I err on the side of caution. I don’t want to risk going through this again.

Tips for Dealing with a Bulging Disc

Let me share a few things that I learned from my experience.

1. Take time off and see a doctor immediately

Don’t put it off like I did. If I would have had any idea what was going on, I could have saved myself a lot of time and trouble. If you have something going on with your back or you feel funny sensations running down your legs or arms, stop lifting and see a doctor.

The odds are good that you can recover from this without much trouble. Trust me; it’s better to take a few weeks off now than it is to sit on the sidelines for AT LEAST three months after you get surgery. You won’t lose any of your gains if you take a couple weeks off.

2. Get second opinions

Don’t stick with just one doctor, one surgeon or one physical therapist. The best thing that I did was see multiple people in all three fields. You really need to take your health into your own hands. If you don’t like what someone is telling you, get a second opinion.

For example, my first physical therapist was used to treating older people and high school athletes. I dropped that company, did some research and found the physical therapy team that works with my local NFL team! I contacted them expecting it to be super expensive and exclusive, but they happily took my business. Insurance took care of the rest.

3. Get a good physical therapist

There’s a huge range in the quality of physical therapists out there. Don’t settle for the first physical therapist you come across unless you are truly impressed with the treatment you’re getting.

My first physical therapy team wasn’t terrible, but I got the impression they just wanted my business. They would set me up in traction, leave me for 30 minutes, then send me home. Or they would go over a few stretches, print out a piece of paper and send me home.

My second physical therapy team actually gave me one specific trainer and she worked with me hands on for the full hour every session. She had me working with weights, getting back on the treadmill and actually sweating. This was the physical therapy team that works with NFL players in my city and they had the same mentality as me: Let’s hurry up and get your ass back in the gym.

They also didn’t lie to me. The last time I went in there before surgery, my physical therapist told me that I was just too far gone. She didn’t mince her words; she didn’t care about getting more of my money. She told me not to come back until after surgery. I love her for that.

I came back to see her after surgery and she helped me get back in there quicker. She also gave me great advice for slowly (and safely) getting back into weightlifting.

4. Minimize the time you spend sitting down

Sitting down all day long is terrible for your back. Office workers and drivers have it pretty bad. What I suggest is to get up, walk around and stretch as often as you can. Watch your posture when you sit and drink a lot of water. Keep your lower back straight and get a good chair. Some people have success sitting on an exercise ball for part of the day.

You can also get a standing desk. I got a standing desk and it was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It only cost me about $500 delivered and came with a motor so that all I have to do is hit a button to raise and lower the desk between sitting and standing.

The prices for standing desks vary by a huge range, so do your research. You can go with something as cheap as a little stand that you put under your monitor to an all-out motorized desk. Some people even build their own.

I got this one and love it. I’ve had it for over 2 years now and it works perfectly to this day. If you are having serious back issues, talk to your boss or whoever and see if you get one delivered to your office. If you pay for it and have it delivered, I doubt most managers will have a problem with you bringing in a desk that improves productivity.

5. Talk to real experts

You family doctor is a good place to start, but if you aren’t able to recover after a few weeks, go see a back specialist (orthopedic surgeon). Get a good physical therapist, the kind who treats real athletes.

If anyone tells you anything that sounds suspect, get a second opinion. If your orthopedic surgeon tries to rush you off to surgery but you don’t feel like it’s that serious yet, get a second opinion. If your physical therapists aren’t giving you enough attention, go see someone else.

Stay away from chiropractors as well. There are way too many quacks in that field for it to be worth spending the time on money there. Plus, the last thing you want with a bulging disc is someone manipulating your spine like chiropractors do.

6. Keep your chin up

A disc problem is one of the most frustrating things in the world. Keep your chin up. I promise: it will get better. The worst case scenario is you’ll have to get surgery and take a few months off. That probably sounds absolutely terrible right now, but it’s really not that bad. I did it and bounced right back.

In the grand scheme of things, this is just a minor setback. You may have to adjust your workouts a little, but you can still get big and strong. Just be smart about it, take your time and get good medical advice. You’ll be back in there in no time.

Do I REALLY need gloves for weightlifting?

A pair of gloves and a jug of protein were the first two things I bought when I got started with weightlifting. I didn’t know a whole lot back then other than I needed to lift heavy weights and eat more protein.

It wasn’t the most scientific approach, but it was good enough for a growing high school kid. I still keep the protein, but I have long since ditched the gloves… and I recommend you do the same.

Weightlifting gloves are a waste of money unless you’re a hand model. Yes, it will be a little painful to do pullups and deadlifts at first, but you’ll get used to it. Your body is an amazing adaptation machine. Not only do your muscles grow with weightlifting, but your hands adapt to the stress you place on them.

What I hear most often from glove users is that their hands hurt too much when they lift heavy. That’s to be expected – but it’s not something you have to deal with for long. Give it a couple of weeks and your hands will get used to it.

A side benefit of going without gloves is your hands will be a little tougher. The next time you have to move heavy furniture or handle some other big, awkward object, it’ll be a little easier because your hands won’t be killing you the whole time.

Another benefit is that your grip will improve without gloves. Gloves don’t make a HUGE difference in grip strength, but they do make a difference. Get used to lifting without gloves and you’ll have hands that can handle just that much more punishment in everyday life.

But I Seriously Can’t Do Pullups Without Gloves

A few people have told me that I just don’t understand. They tell me that pullups become simply unbearable without gloves. Other people have told me that they get massive calluses that eventually rip off and bleed.

You definitely don’t want to lift with open wounds. Gyms are nasty places and the last thing you want is an infection in your hand. If you are getting extreme pain or extreme calluses, try adjusting the way you grip bars.

For pullups, try this. Grab the bar by first placing the callus area (right under your fingers) against the bar. Then, wrap the rest of your hand and fingers around the bar. The goal here is to grip the bar so that you aren’t stretching the calluses when you pull yourself up. This should help you avoid most pain and severe calluses.

But I Sweat Too Much and Can’t Hang on to the Bar

There are a couple of things you can do about sweat. If it’s just a minor bit of sweat that’s holding you back, all you need to do is wipe your hand on shirt before you grip the bar. I know, I know that’s a little obvious but it’s worth a mention.

If that doesn’t do the trick, you can always use gym chalk. A little chalk will fix any amount of sweat on your hands.

If your gym doesn’t allow chalk AND your hands are super sweaty, then I guess gloves are the answer. Just do not become dependent on gloves. Only use them on the lifts that absolutely require gloves. Let your hands adapt as much as realistically possible.

And Finally

And one last thing – callused hands are something to be proud of. You’re a working man and your body knows how to adapt to adverse conditions. You’re not some soft-bodied cubicle monkey. You’re a damned strong man who isn’t afraid of a little hard labor. The same thing also goes for you ladies out there. A couple calluses aren’t going to turn you into a hulking brute.

Bodybuilders around the world do without gloves and I bet you can too. It takes a little getting used to at first, but most people manage to adapt. Look at some of the heaviest lifters in the world and let that be your inspiration.

Just get through the first couple of painful weeks and your body will respond. Soon, you’ll have hands that can tie barbed wire fencing in knots.

The Purpose of Bodybuilding Supplements

When I first started lifting weights, my thoughts on supplements were completely skewed. I had always thought of supplements as magical potions that helped build muscle better than other types of food. Instead of calculating my protein, carb and fat needs, I simply went to the gym, came home and drank a protein shake. I thought that the only thing I needed to do was consistently hit the gym and then take a shake after every workout.

I was your basic gym-goer who didn’t have a diet aligned with his goals and I feel like many people are still in the same boat as I once was. The thing to remember supplements is that they are exactly what they are named: supplements. Bodybuilding supplements are designed to supplement your diet, not make up for lacking crucial elements.

Let’s take protein, for example. Protein shakes are a good thing simply because they are easy sources of protein. Instead of having to cook chicken in the over, you can simply mix up a shake, chug it down and go. This is a very convenient way to get your protein, but it’s not (and shouldn’t be) the only way to get your protein.

Real Foods First, Then Supplements

The majority of your macros should come from real food. Supplements such as protein and weight gainers are convenient, but they are not the answer to all your bodybuilding goals. Supplements should be used as easy ways to meet the nutritional requirements that your regular diet alone cannot provide.

The reason I believe in actual food so much is because food contains more than just pure protein or pure calories. Real food also includes important vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly. Some supplements may even include important vitamins, but even those supplements do not have the same effect on your body as actual food.

Real food also includes other nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants that play crucial roles in body functions and overall health. If you rely heavily on supplements, you will miss out on some of the best things Mother Nature has to offer. Our bodies were designed to live off the food that nature provides.

For those of you on strict calorie-counting diets, natural food also has the added benefit of being more filling. It may be convenient to chug down a liquid protein shake, but you will be hungry again much more quickly than if you would have eaten a full meal. This is because the liquid form of supplements is absorbed/digested quicker than solid food. Additionally, the vast majority of supplements lack fat, which is more filling than pure protein.

It’s Not All Bad

I did not write this post to knock supplements. I believe supplements play a crucial role in helping bodybuilders meet their impressive calorie, protein, carbohydrate and fat needs. However, it is important to remember that the supplement industry is very lucrative for those who market supplements. Unfortunately, the desire to get additional sales has led many supplement manufacturers to overstate the place supplements occupy in our daily nutrition needs.

I still recommend supplements (and even advertise for them here at BodyBuildingFYI.com) but I want you to go in with your eyes open. You will advance much more quickly if you take the time to learn all about proper diet and nutrition first and then add supplements to your diet second. With the proper balance of knowledge, real food and supplements, you can do amazing things.

Visit the BodyBuilding.com supplement store here

Motivation to Hit the Gym

Everyone goes through periods of low motivation to hit the gym. This is an especially common problem among new gym-goers, but it also affects seasoned bodybuilders. If you are feeling a lack of motivation, there are a few things you can do to help turn things around.

1. Remember why you are in the gym in the first place

Everyone visits the gym for a reason. It can be to reach certain goals, to become more attractive or simply because it makes you feel good. Whenever you have problems with gym motivation, remind yourself why you put in all this work.

If you’ve been going to the gym long enough to see visible progress, remind yourself that the reason you have made this progress is because of all the long hours you’ve put in at the gym. Getting an aesthetic body requires great work and sacrifice. These are things that the average Joe doesn’t like to do. Hard work and sacrifice are the reasons why you don’t have the average Joe Six-pack body.

If you haven’t yet been going to the gym long enough to see visible results, just stop and think about your goals again. The sooner you get into the habit of visiting the gym regularly, the faster you will reach those goals. Also take heart in the fact that eventually going to the gym will no longer require motivation every day.

Eventually, going to the gym becomes a part of your daily habit. In fact, going to the gym may very well become the best part of your day. Just force yourself to get through the first few difficult months and I promise that you will come to love going to the gym. Trust me – I used to hate cardio with a passion but now I love it. The human body and mind have amazing powers of adaptation. You can train yourself to adapt to anything.

2. Get your diet in check

Your diet can have a major impact on how motivated you are to hit the gym. There are at least two reasons this is so. First of all, the foods you eat dictate the level of energy you have throughout the day. Make sure that you’re getting all the protein, carbs and fats that your body needs. If you’re cutting out every gram of fat from your diet, for example, you are going to have some serious mood problems.

Secondly, having your diet under control leads to a sense of accomplishment. If you know you are doing a good job on your diet, you will have more motivation to continue that good work in the gym. If you know your diet is counterproductive to your goals, you may feel that it is pointless to hit the gym. Get that diet in check.

3. Make sure you are not overtraining

Looking back over time, I can see that many times my own lack of motivation was caused by overtraining at the gym. If I worked out too many days in a row without taking proper rest days or getting enough sleep, I would start to have serious motivation problems in the gym.

Think back to the last time you took a week off from the gym. I’d be willing to bet that when you returned, you felt like a gorilla. The reason that happens is because your body is fully rested and ready to lift heavy again. Overtraining does not only affect you physically, but it also affects your mental status.

If you’re feeling unmotivated to hit the gym, take a look at your recent workout schedule and make sure you are not overtraining. Make sure you are not working out for too many days in a row. Everyone should take a couple days off from training every week. This becomes ever more important as you grow older.

4. Update your songs list

Sometimes all I have to do to get motivated is clean out my MP3 player and add a bunch of new songs. Go look up your favorite songs on Youtube and then use the recommended results bar on the right side of the page to find more songs that you might not know about. An updated songs list will help keep your mind occupied as you sweat and bleed at the gym.

5. Lack of motivation due to lack of progress

Are you having a lack of motivation due to a lack of progress? There are a couple of things you can do to remedy this. First of all, make sure your goals are realistic. You’re not going to have a six pack a week after starting training. Seeing visible results takes time.

If you have been working out for a while and still aren’t seeing results, it’s time to change something up in your routine or diet. Do a little research and make sure that your diet serves a specific purpose. Make sure your diet is in line with your training goals. The same things goes for your training in the gym. Make sure you aren’t doing too much/too little cardio, that your weights program makes sense and that you are taking appropriate rest days.

6. Just get in there and do it

Sometimes you just have to kick yourself in the ass and get to work even when you don’t feel like it. The ability to work hard despite not wanting to is what separates you from the average schmuck in the world. If you can grind through the bad days and put in the effort, you will be rewarded with a harder body and a harder mind.

7. Motivational Pictures

Click to enlarge any of these pictures. These are good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And last, my favorite quote of all time:

Deload Weeks in Weightlifting

Deloads are periods of time in which you give your body an “active rest.” A typical deload week is comprised of following your normal training routine with 50-60% of your normal weights. Some people prefer to deload by dropping all the iron and simply training with bodyweight exercises for a week.

Deload weeks in weight training are one of the most overlooked tactics for healthy progression in the gym. I have to admit that I used to train extensively without taking deload weeks. I noticed after a while that I would eventually become tired and irritable at the gym, unable to break through plateaus and more prone to injuries. The problem was that I was failing to take deload weeks or breaks of any sort.

The Purpose of Deload Weeks

Deload weeks are designed to give your body a chance to recuperate after weeks of training heavy and breaking personal records. The human body simply wasn’t designed to constantly increase the weights week after week without ever taking a break or slowing down. Deload breaks let your muscle rebuild and give your joints times to heal and grow stronger.

Deload weeks are also good for the mind. They let you take a break from the intensity of training hard day in and day out. A week of easy, fun lifting works wonders on the mindset. You’ll really notice this when you finally allow yourself to get back to the gym and work hard.

A failure to take the occasional deload week will actually hinder your progress in comparison to lifting week after week without rest. When you come back from a deload week, you’ll notice that you feel more refreshed and ready to hit the weights.

How to Do a Deload

There are a few ways people can perform deload weeks. One way (my favorite) is to do your regular routine except with lighter weights. I go with 50-60% of the weight and do not increase the number of repetitions. The primary purpose of a deload week is to let your body rest, but to at least stay a little bit active.

The other way to do a deload week is to eliminate all weights entirely and just focus on bodyweight exercises and stretching. You are still staying active, but the heavy stress has been lifted off your joints. This is also a great way to take a deload week.

Yet another way to deload is to use the same weights as normal, but lower the number of repetitions and sets to half of what you normally do. I personally do not like this deload method as much because the heavy weights still take a toll on the joints.

You can also use deload weeks to train oddball body parts that you don’t normally train hard. Do some light exercises that work out the traps, legs, calves, forearms, etc. Just remember that you are still supposed to go light during this week. Deload weeks are supposed to give your entire body a chance to recover.

Diet During Deloads

There are two ways to approach diet during a deload week. Most people simply keep their diet the same during a deload week as they do during their regular training weeks. Your muscles will still be recovering during the deload week so there is no need to cut down on the calories, protein or fat.

Other people will keep their diet the same during the first couple of days during the deload week and then revert to maintenance calories after that. The thinking here is that you need to keep the higher calories during the first couple days because your body is still recovering from your last days of heavy lifting. I personally prefer this second diet during deload weeks, but it probably doesn’t make any difference over the long term which method you choose.

When to Deload

Everyone is a little different when it comes to the timing of deload weeks. I prefer to schedule deloads once every 4-6 weeks. Some people simply let their body tell them when to deload. If you go the second route, you should deload any time you start feeling unmotivated, tired at the gym, unable to progress or start noticing sore joints.

The scheduled deload is the best way to approach deloads, though. By scheduling your deloads, you don’t have to wait until the damage has been done and your body is begging you to stop. However, if you schedule deloads, you should still be flexible. If your body tells you it’s time to chill out for a while, then go ahead and chill out for a while.

Here’s a great post about deloads from the Bodybuilding.com forums.

Useful Bodybuilding Resources

The internet is a great place to find useful information about just about any topic on the planet. At the same time, there is a lot of garbage out there as well thanks to uninformed writers and search engine spam. This is just a quick post to show you some of the most useful bodybuilding resources that I have found.

Remember to take everything you read on the internet (and in physical books) with a grain of salt. There is so much conflicting information out there that it can be a little dizzying at times. The human race learns new things about diet and exercise every day, so don’t be surprised if you see authority resources that appear to contradict each other.

BodyBuilding.com

www.BodyBuilding.com

This link should be easy to remember. BodyBuilding.com is THE authority site on exercise, nutrition and supplements. Don’t let the name fool you: BodyBuilding.com is not just for hardcore bodybuilders. You will find thousands of articles, thousands of supplements, supplement reviews and a huge discussion forum for like-minded people.

Here are a couple of useful sections of the site:

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/

These are the largest bodybuilding forums on the internet. There are tens of thousands of members who interact here constantly. I strongly recommend you make an account and join these forums. Spend a little time in the exercises forum and nutrition forum. If you get bored, check out the Misc. forum, but be ready for what you find in there….

http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/index.html

The BodyBuilding.com store is where I buy most of my supplements. I order protein, creatine, multivitamins and preworkout drinks here. I’ll also occasionally pick up a new workout shirt if they have a good deal.

SimplyShredded.com

www.SimplyShredded.com

This is another massive website with tons of articles and information. Here you will find articles written by big name bodybuilders and fitness models plus a huge database of other useful information. You’ll find nutrition articles for bulking, nutrition articles for cutting, weightlifting routines and much more.

This site appeals to both men and women.

MuscleBuilding.net

www.MuscleBuilding.net

A good friend of mine owns this site and will be putting a lot of work into it over the next few years. MuscleBuilding.net can still be considered a work in progress, but I already like the direction it’s going. The cool thing about MuscleBuilding.net is that there are already several active bodybuilding blogs that are updated by real people.

Bodybuilding is the Best Hobby in the World

The benefits of having bodybuilding as a hobby are so numerous that it’s a little daunting to even start this article. Admittedly, I might be a little biased, but there are just so many great things about bodybuilding. Note that I am not even talking about hardcore, competition-level bodybuilding; I am only referring to the basics of sculpting one’s body for the better.

Bodybuilding is open to all ages and experience levels

I can’t think of a single other hobby that has this many health benefits but yet is still open to all ages and experience levels. Everybody, from teenagers on up to the elderly, can get started in bodybuilding with nothing more than a desire to make a positive change in health and physique. You don’t have to be big or fit, tall, experienced or even athletically gifted in the slightest to take up bodybuilding as a hobby.

No experience is necessary, although it does help to educate yourself a little for safety and efficiency reasons. It doesn’t matter if you’re already in great shape or if you’re on your final leg; the world of bodybuilding welcomes you with open arms.

There are few hobbies that are this open to complete newbies. If you walk into a gym without the slightest clue of what to do or where to start, there are people there who are more than happy to give you tips and point you in the right direction. People who work out at the gym are generally friendly and are glad to see new people who are willing to work and learn.

On top of that, you don’t have to worry about being judged in the gym. It doesn’t matter if you’re the skinniest, strongest, fattest or leanest person in there because everyone is in the gym for the same purpose: to improve their health and/or aesthetics. Sometimes bigger people say they are intimidated to join a gym, but there is absolutely nothing to worry about. It’s awesome to see a big person in the gym, someone who has the courage to start a long path towards improved health and physical conditioning.

Bodybuilding has numerous health benefits

The health benefits of bodybuilding are too numerous for me to discuss in full. This is especially true if you include a cardio routine in your regimen. Here are just a few benefits that come to mind:

Note – If you already suffer from any disease or are at high risk for any disease, you should always talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise program. For example, physical exertion does raise the blood pressure in the short term. There are smart ways to ease your way into a healthy lifestyle – talk to qualified people before you jump right in.

Bodybuilding has numerous psychological benefits

The psychological benefits of bodybuilding are just as important as the health benefits. In fact, the psychological benefits are very closely intertwined with physical benefits. Here are just a few psychological benefits of bodybuilding and exercise:

  • Increased self confidence as a result of achieving goals and changing body composition
  • Lower levels of stress, depression and anxiety
  • A more successful goal-oriented lifestyle that reverberates in all aspects of life: career, family, personal happiness, etc.
  • Improved body image
  • Improved mood

Summary

If I told you I had the secret to improved health, improved happiness and that this secret worked for people of all ages, you would probably think I was a snake oil salesman. Bodybuilding has so many benefits of different types that it’s almost unbelievable.

Take note again that I’m not talking about hardcore bodybuilding in which people go to extremes by taking steroids and dehydrating themselves immediately before competitions. What I am referring to by “bodybuilding” is the simple hobby of improving one’s physical shape and overall level of fitness.

Bodybuilding is a hobby that is open to all ages, it’s free of judgment and it doesn’t even have to cost anything. All you need to participate in bodybuilding is desire. The only other thing that’s left is for you to take the first step.

I Don’t Want to Get Too Bulky

I hear this a lot from both men and women who are interested in getting back in shape. One of the first things people tell me is that they just want to tone up and “don’t want to get too bulky.” Ok, that actually makes sense. You want to build a firm body but don’t want to look like Arnold. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.

The problem comes when people automatically equate weightlifting to getting bulky. Lifting weights does not turn you into a meathead. In fact, you will find it extremely difficult to put on any major bulk by hitting the gym. It takes a lot of time and effort to get that big.

In other words, getting big and bulky doesn’t just happen by accident.

If you lift weights, do cardio and keep a healthy diet, the last thing you have to worry about is getting too bulky. I think a lot of people believe that in order to gain muscle, you must also gain fat. That simply isn’t true. You can easily gain lean muscle mass without putting on additional fat weight.

In fact, weightlifting is a great way to lose fat and gain muscle. Weightlifting itself burns calories and helps you shed weight. Your metabolism also speeds up as you put on more muscle mass. A more active metabolism means you’ll find it even easier to shed fat.

The whole point here is not to be afraid of hitting the weights. And when you do hit the weights, don’t be afraid to hit them hard. Get in there, put some weight on the bar and work up a sweat. I promise you won’t turn into a bulky giant unless you make it a goal and really put your mind to it.

Walking into the gym and busting out 5 sets of 60 reps with 5 lb. dumbbells is not the answer to toning up without getting bulky. Start your workout regimen by doing sets of 12 with as much weight as you can comfortably handle for those twelve reps. This will help you build muscle and burn calories at the same time. As you get more comfortable with weightlifting, you can even add weight and do fewer reps per set without getting too bulky.

The only time I recommend you do more than 12 reps per set is when you’re first getting back into the gym and need to get your body accustomed to lifting weights again. In that case, you can do light weights, lots of reps and just focus on getting the form correct. This is a great way to ease back into the gym routine without injuring yourself.

Lesson: Lifting hard and heavy is not counterproductive to toning up.

Facing Challenges

One important trait that has been displayed by all the greatest bodybuilders in the world is an impressive ability to face challenges. I’ve always heard that life is full of challenges, but I’ve never really put much thought into it because people throw the word “challenges” around so casually.

I’ve been doing more thinking on this subject lately, and would like to share a few things from a bodybuilding point of view and just in regards to life in general.

No Bodybuilder Has It Easy

One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the past year is that no bodybuilder has it easy. Every single person you see in the gym has something that is trying to hold them back. It could be a nagging injury, some kind of disease, a family member with a drug problem – whatever. Nobody in the gym is just floating through life without a single worry.

If you’re reading this right now and dealing with a major challenge, do not despair. We are all in the same boat; we are all in this together. Personally, I’m dealing with an injury that has held me back for about a year now. I was really starting to get angry at life, but then I stopped and thought how people have always said life is about facing challenges.

The challenges that we face in life are not just the cosmic universe deciding to shit on us. Challenges make us stronger and challenges allow us to truly shine. If there were no challenges in life, there would be nothing worth achieving. If anyone could just wake up and decide to be a bodybuilder, a rich businessman or a famous singer, there would be nothing left for us to achieve.

Accomplishing anything in a life without challenges would be about as satisfying as using a cheat code to beat a tough level on a video game. Sure, you might have reached the finish line, but there was no challenge. Anyone in the world could come along and do the same thing.

So as annoying and frustrating as challenges are, remember that they are also the reason why some of us are able to achieve greatness. Most people give up when faced with challenges and are never heard from again. But if you read the biography of any successful person in any industry, there is always at least one major challenge that person had to face. In many cases, there were multiple major challenges.

Look at your challenges as opportunities. Not necessarily opportunities to get something extra, but opportunities to prove to yourself that you stand above all the rest of the common folk who tried and gave up in the past. Look at your challenges as the seasoning that makes achievements worth achieving.

When you finally make it to your goal, whatever it may be, you can tell your kids or your friends about the crazy challenges you defeated on your way to the top. Challenges are what make a life story worth telling.

At Least You Can Walk Into the Gym

We should also remember that we have it pretty easy, relatively speaking. The fact that you can even walk into the gym in the first place is a beautiful thing. At least you’re not paralyzed from the neck down and physically unable to walk into the gym. Now that is a challenge that would break even the strongest of minds. But even then, people still excel at life.

And let’s not even get into the millions of people that have to deal with war and poverty. While I’m sitting here bitching about my sore back, some guy in Somalia is wondering why his whole family was taken from him.

I know it’s kind of cheesy to go down this road, but it’s seriously worth considering. If you’re healthy, wealthy and safe enough to have bodybuilding as a hobby, you are honestly in the top 1% of the world in terms of good fortune. Be thankful that you have that much and remember that no challenge is too much for a human with a mission.