F*cking Strength Training 101

chris1816 Posts: 715 Member
Strength Training

Everyone who has interacted with me for more than a few minutes on here knows that I am a huge advocate of strength training, for both men and women alike. While there is a large push for women to strength train lately thanks to programs like Crossfit, Stronglifts, New Rules of Lifting for Women etc, there still exists a huge amount of misconception and borderline mysticism surrounding strength training for women, and even men still. That *kitten* frankly; is un-f*cking-forgivable.

The other day I was at my parents and was presented with a picture of my mom’s x-ray when she went to go see her Doctor about back pain from a previously herniated disc. She is over 60 now but has always been lively, active, and looks young for her age. In this x-ray photo however, I could see my mom’s spine literally compressing in on itself, curving slightly to the side even. I couldn’t help but think; what if ten or even twenty years ago she had begun strength training more than what women were typically told to do? Flail around with light pink dumbbells and execute absurd numbers of repetitions while being told that this was actually accomplishing something. How different would the picture look had she been performing genuine resistance training and built up the muscles of her lumbar and thoracic spine to better support her, build her posture and strengthen her spine to hold off what age may ultimately do.

Now to give my mother credit, she is a tough, classy broad and has always been pretty active; and the last ten years I have seen her doing swimming, yoga and a number of things to keep her pretty fit. She’s been through car accidents, a knee replacement, and a number of other rough events and you’d never. How many girls though in this generation will grow up with so little muscle that their own bone structure is poorly supported? How many men will be frail, weaker, and with comparatively lower testosterone than their predecessors because skinny jeans are a f*cking thing? How many people would be so much better off in both mood and general health if they simply added a barbell into their lives?

This f*ckery is silly, so let’s dive into this shall we?

(Yes I’m going to borrow from other things I’ve posted and wrap it up with a nice neat little bow, sue me)

Why Should Everyone do Resistance Training?

 Supports lean mass over fat

 Helps with losing fat

 Helps with building muscle

 Keeps your metabolism running optimally, even while you rest and more than cardio by itself.

 If done correctly, makes you stronger and healthier, improves your posture and prevents injuries especially falls and fractures. It does this by strengthening bones, making it important for the elderly, and for women.

 It helps prevent the yoyo dieting effect.

Much of this is no secret to anyone, or it shouldn't be at least. Even women can see this though, be presented with the evidence and then proceed to say my FAVORITE. F*CKING. WORDS.

“But I just want to get toned! I don’t want to get too big or look like a man!”

First off this cannot happen on accident, as it takes time, hard work, and dedication. Once you achieve your goal(s), you may switch to a maintenance diet and routine to retain your look. The maximum amount of muscle you can carry is far below what most bodybuilders today have, especially so for females. The only way to change this dynamic is to train directly for this purpose, for years on end, eat at a surplus, be a genetic freak, or inject horse testosterone and human growth hormone directly into your *kitten* cheeks.

Second, being “toned” is simply not a valid concept. Muscle tone is the amount of tension a muscle maintains when it’s at rest. The correlation here is with muscular definition. Being “toned” is simply a matter of having enough muscle mass and low enough body fat. If you think you can achieve this look simply through diet and cardio, you’ll end up disappointed and likely flabby. Women simply lack the sufficient testosterone to get as bulky as a man unless they supplement it or have a diagnosed hormonal disorder.

Putting on muscle simply is NOT easy.

The Fundamentals of Lifting

 Unless you are a total beginner or really f*cking fat (like me!), lifting on a caloric deficit, which most of us here are doing will equate to very gradual strength gains. You may simply end up lifting as heavy as you can and not seeing the progress you expect. This is perfectly okay, as lifting while on a cut helps maintain muscle, burn fat, and delivers a positive hormonal response.

 A beginner should typically train three days a week, with ample breaks (rest days) in-between. You may feel you can or want to train more, but this can be a mistake even for the experienced lifter. The goal should be steady (even if very gradual) improvement in strength and endurance.

 You do not need to “warm up” for 20-30 with cardio before lifting, very light weight sets or even a good dynamic stretching routine will do the trick. Do not static stretch before lifting. Contrary to popular belief this in fact makes you weaker and can lead to injury and poor recovery. For warming up simply do something light, easy, and for just long enough to get the blood flowing.

 You need to keep track. Most routines have a built in method of progression, others do not. You need to track your progress in weight increases and ability to execute additional repetitions. Use a notebook, your phone and Evernote, MyfitnessPal, Fitocracy, or post-it notes. It does not f*cking matter as long as you keep track.

 Be consistent and methodical, the only thing that should typically change from week to week is the load on the bar or the reps of the same load you used previously. You should avoid changing the movements (lifts) themselves or doing excessive variations unless your routine calls for it. Muscle Confusion is not a f*cking thing.

 You do not need to involve a f*cking bosu ball, balance ball, or whatever in anything you are doing. First if you are inexperienced this can lead to injury (or making you look like a *kitten*), and second most compound barbell lifts actually train your core very effectively.

 Focus on form and safety over lifting heaver weight. The saga of my stupid sumo deadlift attempt with *kitten* form and heavy weight is a saga familiar to many of you. Training form will help you deliver better results, make you feel confident, and ultimately make you stronger.

 Sleep is one of the most important elements in not only lifting but also fat loss and health in general. You want to shoot for 8-9 hours, as this will allow ample time for muscle recovery, growth, and joint recovery. Ample sleep is something underestimated in its ability to address multiple common physical and mental health issues.

What Kind of Routine Should I Be Doing?

Proven ones; at least at first.

One point I will clarify and hammer into everyone’s heads again and again is that there is no difference between strength training for women and strength training for men. You do not need to be on a special program, or use dumbbells only or kettlebells only. You can do the same routine as anyone and the only difference between sexes will be the starting weight typically and rate of progression.

Another point I will clarify, as this is something that even some very intelligent people ignore; is that everything works. Yes, lifting in a smith machine works, doing a dumbbell routine works, doing that weird variation of x lifts that you saw on the internet works, doing a ton of isolation works. Given enough time, persistence, and dedication, that *kitten* that never does a barbell lift without using a smith machine or only uses Hammer Strength/Life Fitness machines will build muscle and strength up to a certain point as long as he keeps at it long enough.

The difference is in efficiency and overall results.

Compound barbell exercises with free weights produce the strongest response, activate the greatest amount of muscle and are most effective in building progressive strength. Done properly a proven barbell training routine builds a good foundation of strength to work with, and in a beginner lifter will deliver noticeable results in both strength gains and musculature very quickly over a short period of time. You do not need to a plethora of isolation lifts to accomplish what you want, nor do you need to train for hours, and you especially do not need to train for days on end.

Without further ado, here are some of the more popular routines out there for beginners:

Starting Strength aka SS (I highly recommend buying the book no matter what routine you do): http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/The_Starting_Strength_Novice/Beginner_Programs#Practical_Programming_Novice_Program:


Wendler’s 5-3-1 (The book is something you should buy):

Arthur Jones’ Beginner Program:

A Beginner Dumbbell Program - The Dumbbell Stopgap:

There are multiple other routines out there, and many work. The focus should be a routine that works full body multiple times a week, low reps, few sets, with an emphasis on heavy compound movements at least at first. I will provide some more info on routines at a later date.

How Can I Learn Proper Form?

I will be very honest here; you do not need to see a personal trainer to necessarily learn form. I may be lucky in that I am a very intuitive learner and can understand mechanics well; but there are simply TONS of resources on the internet to teach and guide you in learning and perfecting ideal form for a lift. If you are new to lifting I advise you to watch these things again and again, drill it into your head until you feel comfortable with it. Practice with the lightest weight possible and don’t be concerned with the other people in the gym. The focus is on you and making sure you are performing a lift in a manner that you will see results, progress effectively, and do this injury free.

A key point to make here is that PAIN IS NOT GOOD. If you are experiencing pain you could be doing something wrong. Don’t press on; reevaluate what you are doing and review your form. Take a video, ask someone to critique you, this is not the time to be shy or embarrassed where your safety is concerned.

Here are some of my favorite videos and resources for learning form and technique, you will learn more watching these videos than with people actually paid to teach you this *kitten* in the gym, sadly:

Starting Strength Videos (Specifically Platforms):

All lifts, for every muscle, with almost every possible combination of equipment, as well as stretches (visuals included):

How To Perform the Back Squat:

How to Perform the Deadlift:

How to Perform the Overhead Press:

How to Perform the Bench Press:

How to Perform the Barbell Row (and variations):

I could go on linking videos for tons of lifts but you get the idea; and with the lifts above you are looking at a complete full body lifting routine. Stronglifts and Starting Strength both emphasize these lifts.

B-b-but Christopher I LOVE Zumba!

Here is the thing with cardio, despite the name of this group. Do it, at least something, but do not make it the focus of your fitness regimen unless you are training for marathons or for a specific sport. Do something fun that you can stick to preferably and where you will not be injured. Cardio is still simply not the ideal path to fat loss, nor will absurd amounts of it somehow make you healthier than the person next to you. If you want to do a lot of cardio in relation to your lifting, you can and should compensate by eating more as you are increasing your TDEE /overall caloric requirements.

Cardio can hamper strength gains, hinder recovery and actually introduce hormones that encourage a catabolic (UR BODY GONNA EAT UR MUSCLES) state. Again keep it short, fun and simple. In relation to a strength training routine it should be done hours before your strength training routine, immediately after, or on a different day. Doing heavy or long duration cardio and then strength training is simply counter-intuitive; you will fatigue yourself doing the one and hinder your performance on the other.

In addition, as this bears repeating; you will not get that toned, fit look you want solely by doing cardio. Some of the best looking women out there have a foundation of lean mass underneath their body fat. Believe me ladies, those b*tches pick up some heavy *kitten* and put it down again like whaaaaaaat.

I will say this again, cardio is GOOD for you, but it is not ideal for fat loss and doing too much of it will see negative results.
Some good ideas for cardio are as follows:

-Walk (Move from point a to b for a little while)

-Running (Do this for 20 minutes at some point in the day if you like it you f*cking masochist)

-Biking (If you voted for Obama, I guess)

-Dancing (Pole Dancing, Tango, Salsa, F*CKING ZUMBA, hell ball room dancing even, if you enjoy it have fun you little f*cking fairy)

-Swimming (The opposite of drowning, and awesome for strength and endurance. I also like swimming so I wont be an *kitten* with this one)

-Martial Arts (Karate, Krav Maga, Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiujutsu, Boxing, Wing- Chun, Muay Thai take your pick; some of these can be pretty intense though)

-Sports (Join your local recreational volleyball team, queer)

-F*cking (Yep, and sperm is in the MFP food database too, ladies)

You get the idea here; the opportunities are pretty much endless and the idea is just to be a more active f*cking person in general. I’m going to end this for now, and will add and update info as I see necessary but I hope this was helpful, informative, and only mildly offensive.


  • chris1816
    chris1816 Posts: 715 Member
    I need a nap now.
  • LoraF83
    LoraF83 Posts: 15,694 Member
  • FahadNaseem
    FahadNaseem Posts: 80 Member
    Excellent !
  • Barbell_Jules
    Barbell_Jules Posts: 358 Member
    Then take one!! Gonna say it again, thanks for doing all this.
  • beachlover317
    beachlover317 Posts: 2,848 Member
    I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me. :drinker:
  • miranda_mom
    miranda_mom Posts: 873 Member
    I always get worried because I am a woman with a diagnosed hormonal disorder. But guess what? I am doing Stronglifts anyway! Killing myself with Zumba was not working. Now I have a routine that takes just 3 hours per week total (important when you work full time and have a family, not enough hours in the day!). And I enjoy it. I figure if I start looking like a man, someone will tell me.

    Also, I wanted to note for women who are interested in Stronglifts (which is what I do), Stronglifts is entirely geared toward guys as far as what he is talking about - by which I mean, all the pictures in the PDF are of guys and he says the word "guys" constantly. But there is a group on MFP of women who do Stronglifts so if you feel put off by the whole thing, join up with us. Women have always been doing Stronglifts, it's just not as visible as the men.
  • RobbinRL
    Yes Chris take looonnngg nap now after all that info coming out of you. Your smarter than smart! LOL
  • ccmandel
    ccmandel Posts: 143 Member
    This is great, Chris!

    Love the tidy package with a bow!

    Thanks again!
  • rachelilb
    rachelilb Posts: 179 Member
    Bump for later :)
  • dorothytd
    dorothytd Posts: 1,138 Member
    This was great.
  • Nefetete
    Nefetete Posts: 343 Member
    Thanks again Chris, this was a ton of information and I really love all the links in one place. And I will say this I ACTUALLY read this fully and not skimmed through, i.e my definition of reading most of the time. Very eloquently put.
  • McAlyna
    McAlyna Posts: 123 Member
    Great post Christ!:flowerforyou:
  • lauren5446
    lauren5446 Posts: 1 Member
    Thanks for the info! Informative and funny!
  • Dudagarcia
    Dudagarcia Posts: 849 Member
    Thanks Chris I love that its all on one place
  • Love2lift72
    Love2lift72 Posts: 157 Member
    Thank you! Thank you! and Thank You! :)
  • shrinkingsusie
    shrinkingsusie Posts: 40 Member
    I like that part about sleep. :)
  • Mads1997
    Mads1997 Posts: 1,494 Member
    Thank you for all the great info.
  • SkimFlatWhite68
    SkimFlatWhite68 Posts: 1,254 Member
    Perfect, awesome, thank you.

    Recently read The New Rules of Weight Training for Women and I am weaning myself off cardio and jumping on the weight train.
  • chris1816
    chris1816 Posts: 715 Member
    I like that part about sleep. :)

    It's f*cking crucial! :)
  • Barbell_Jules
    Barbell_Jules Posts: 358 Member
    So I have been doing my rows incorrectly from the beginning. No wonder they feel so awkward. :grumble: I try to revisit the lift videos every week or 2 to refresh on proper form so I am not sure how I missed re-watching the row ones. To be honest, I am sure it was just avoidance on watching them again because I don't like doing them. Well, now that I know I've been doing them wrong, I am looking forward to trying them today with the proper form. :drinker: