I was going through the fitness archives of this blog recently. Over the years, I’ve posted many varying opinions on what is the best fitness strategy.
I started out following the muscle magazines. Do a bunch of exercises and hit the muscles from every angle. Do 3 sets of 8-12. Then I found Pavel and preached the low-reps low variety workouts. After Pavel, came HIT (very slow reps, lower weights, and going to failure). Then I added more volume and stopped going to failure. This year I added some exercises for taller lifters (incline DB bench, more goblet squats).
Throughout this journey, I’ve stayed interested and when I honored safety, I stayed consistent. I think if you get these 3 things right, it probably doesn’t matter what path you take to get there. We can disagree about optimal and we will, but how much does that matter for the average person? Probably not much.
I believe you’ll make more gains following a less than optimal plan that is interesting and safe than an optimal one that is either not interesting or not safe. Not necessarily in the short run, but eventually.
I mentioned this briefly before, because I am now the old man in the free weight room in my gym. There was one guy over 40 that did these insane workouts. He’s gone. And there was a guy probably around 50 that has serious muscle. He kept pushing the pounds. I haven’t seen him in a few months now. They were both highly interested. It is my belief they didn’t honor safety. Now they are inconsistent. Removed and replaced with a new generation of lifters. Same as it has always been and always will be.
This post is setting the stage for my next one. I wanted to go on record as not being tied to any single fitness camp. Find something interesting for you. Find out how to do it safely and then consistently show up to do it. If and when your interest fades, find a new interest and repeat the process.
Photo by Adam Wilson
Nov 8, 2022 — 6:41 am
Nov 8, 2022 — 9:50 am
Outstanding! I’m interested in the next post, as, at nearly 66, safety and consistency trumps everything else.. I am very HITish in my training these days, and agree with much of what it offers – even if some of the proponents turn me off a little.
That said, Bruce Lee had it right I think – “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”
Nov 8, 2022 — 11:18 am
Great post, Mas. I wholeheartedly agree: an imperfect plan, executed consistently is better than a perfect plan, executed inconsistently. Our goals change, our interests change. I’ve tweaked my program recently and I’m enjoying it more. Looking forward to your next post.
Nov 8, 2022 — 7:06 pm
@MAS Great post. I agree. My one caveat is I wish I had emphasized “bulking” and adding muscle (even if not immediatley interesting for me) in my late teens and early twenties. It seems like guys who did that can pretty much coast and just “maintain” muscle mass during the later years with almost any type of program.
Nov 9, 2022 — 7:20 am
“I believe you’ll make more gains following a less than optimal plan that is interesting and safe than an optimal one that is either not interesting or not safe. Not necessarily in the short run, but eventually.”
This is the way.
Your wide words should be posted in every single gym in the world. Those gyms that disagree would be the ones to avoid.
Nov 22, 2022 — 7:40 am
This post’s emphasis on safety in the weight room reminded me of the Kelley criterion for investing. One of the ideas behind the Kelly criterion is the importance of growing your capital without getting wiped out. Similar to how some people invest in a way that puts them at an unnecessarily high risk of being wiped out, some people work out in a way that puts them at too high a risk of a serious injury.