I Lift. Therefore, I Am.

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Here’s What Thigh Gaps Looked Like in 1945

I’ve been saying this for a long time, and I’ll keep saying it till I don’t need to anymore.  Women, men - all people!  Standards of beauty, what society deems attractive is completely, 100% subjective and changes over time.  Spending time and mental and emotional energy worrying about whether you fit this year, or this decade, or even this generation’s subjective standards is not helping you be more satisfied or fulfilled in your life.   The article above is about thigh gaps, which is currently only a women’s issue, as far as I know, but the principle applies to both genders.  And my intent in posting it isn’t to say that no thigh gap is inherently better than a thigh gap, or any other nonsense like that.  It’s that generally embraced standards of ‘beauty’ or ‘attractive’ change over time.   

It’s your body.  Appreciate it.  Respect it.  Love it.  Embrace it.  Who cares whether it conforms to whatever designers or “the general public” currently think is attractive or sexy or whatever.  

And finally, when it comes to exercising to achieve that “ideal body type” - which as we’ve seen, is a myth anyway - I have never seen it help anyone actually have a permanent increase in their self confidence, self image, or satisfaction.   Perhaps my experience with a few thousand people isn’t illustrative, but that is what I’ve seen.

Training for improved health outcomes, and even more so, training for improved performance & physical capability, on the other hand, seems to change lives on a very regular basis.

I really hope I don’t sound preachy, because everyone is free to do whatever they want.  But I sincerely believe that if everyone started training with a focus on performance, and completely scrapped worrying about appearance, we’d have many many more people who are both happier with the way they look AND stronger, fitter, and more capable.

Just my $0.02.

Didn’t sleep much again last night, and my right knee was bugging me some today, and my quads felt kinda ‘dead.’ Also, my shins felt bruised, although no visible signs. I probably just haven’t recovered properly due to eating and sleeping deficiencies over the past 4 days or so, so was just feeling overall a bit beat. Still hit my planned squats, just felt heavier than otherwise would have. The shins issue led me to pull back on my power cleans, however.

Squat
427x5x3
Notes
: Harder than they’d normally have been, but not bad. Rested about 5 mins between 1st and second set, upped to about 7 before the third set.

Power Clean
45x6, 89x4, 133x2, 155x2, 177x2, 199x1+1, 221x1+1
Clean Pull
265x3
Notes: My shins, especially left one, felt all bruised and battered, so it was hard to drag the bar up my legs as usual. As a result, I just ended things early here. Still ramping back up, no big deal. Planning on 515x5 DL on Friday.

Sled Push
20kg x 6 
Notes: Just easing back in here. 1st one was done at a jogging speed, second running, the next four sprinting. 20kg isn’t much, but carpet attached to the sled bottom makes it a lot more resistance than it’d otherwise be. A decent amount of resistance to the sprint for the first time on the sled in almost a month.

Great LotR callback to Pippin’s song to Denethor.  I admit, as much as I love the LotR films, the first two Hobbit films have been good but haven’t  lived up to the original Trilogy.  I’m excited about the third and final installment, though.

Oops.  Was supposed to do a pyramiding 5x5 with the 3rd set being 206x5, the apex.  But I messed up my barbell math juggling the kilo/pound plate combinations, and ended up doing 217x5 instead of 206x5.  This is that set. 

Regarding today’s training as a whole: 

I had a very active weekend, and was a bit tired and sore today, so was worried it would affect today’s training. And I thought it did, till I realized I messed up on my bar math and mis-loaded my presses. So it only really affected the bench. Got my reps, but it was a near limit set, rather than having a bit in the tank.

Bench Press
344.5x5
Notes:
 Very hard. Started slowing a bit by the 3rd rep, and the 5th was a grind. I assume it’s due to what I mentioned above, so I’ll continue the progression of jumps. Next week should be 350.5.

Press
190x5, 212x5, 217x5, 212x5, 190x5
Notes
: Messed up the barbell math with the kilo/pound combos. The plan was 190,201,206, 201, 190. I wondered why the second set felt so hard and the third was even harder. Then after the 4th set, I realized I missed up my loading for sets 2 through 4. So I did more work than intended, but at least it explained why those three sets were so damn hard.

Chins
9,9,11
Notes: Ramping back up slowly (damn you, chins!), but 9s were easyish so did an extra couple reps on the last set.

BW Rows
BW x 10 x 2
Notes: Used the TRX, at about the lowest height I could go and get full arm extension at the bottom of the rep. Adding assistance work back in slowly.

Tricep Rope Pushdowns
62.5x15

Cable External Rotations
7.5x15x3

Finished with shoulder capsule stretch.

This is how #startingstrengthcoach Brent Carter does #gainzzzz  In case you were wondering. #iifym #itdoesnt #butwhocares #startingstrength #burger #nyc #lifterswhoeat  (at Barcade)

This is how #startingstrengthcoach Brent Carter does #gainzzzz In case you were wondering. #iifym #itdoesnt #butwhocares #startingstrength #burger #nyc #lifterswhoeat (at Barcade)

Lifting weights is inherently empowering, as it’s the first kind of exercise I’ve ever done with the goal of actually getting more powerful. But, what’s interesting is that lifting is the only kind of exercise I’ve ever done where the goal isn’t, in some way or another, tied to actually becoming less powerful. As women, we view exercise as a way to lose weight, or to maintain it. Which is to say, as a way to shrink, or to stay small. Not to say that vanity is necessarily any less of a motivation for women who lift weights than it is for women who spend hours on the elliptical, but there’s a difference between exercising to look strong and exercising to look small. Treating exercise as a means to be more, as opposed to viewing it as a never-ending struggle to be less, is absolutely a game changer. Also, being able to lift really heavy shit off the ground, onto your shoulders, and over your head is really, really fun.

-

Christine, Buzzfeed (via missdeejers)

I’ve heard it said before that losing weight, for aesthetics not health, is like accepting that women are meant to be lesser than men. We should be smaller, weaker and deferential. Well fuck that. I take up SPACE! I lift heavy things. I wrestle with men and give them so much grief they forget I’m “a woman” and focus on me trying to rip their head/arm off!

Be strong. Take up space. Be healthy. Don’t accept, ever, that you are lesser than any man or woman.

(via notjuststrongforagirl)

This initial comment, and notjuststrongforagirl's comments on it.  Seriously ladies, please please please listen up.  

IT IS GOOD TO BE MORE, NOT LESS.  IT IS GOOD TO BE PHYSICALLY CAPABLE.  IT IS GOOD TO BE CONFIDENT.  

I don’t understand the mindset of anyone who wants to be less, to fit into other people’s pre-conceived notions of what they “should” look like, but it still seems to be the norm, judging by my experience as a personal trainer and human being, and by those of my friends and colleagues.  Fortunately, more and more women are adopting the attitude of the OP and notjuststrongforagirl, and are great role models for it, but there is still a lot of work to do.

First time pulling sets of 5 in two months.  Squatted 416x5x3, then DL 495x5 and 405x5.

Tabasco Soup

Looked at my jar of Tabasco and seemed there was just a bit left.  So I decided to finish it on the frozen veggies I just made.  So I pour.  And I pour.  And I pour.  And I pour…

Like the handkerchiefs from a clown’s pocket, it just keeps coming.  Like I just tapped into the magical inter-dimensional wellspring of Tabasco.

So now I am basically eating vegetable soup, with the base as tabasco sauce instead of whatever else the base of vegetable soup usually is.

Digging in. 

Press (Intensity)
217x5
Notes
: Just as Monday’s volume workout made me happy about how easy it was, today’s intensity annoyed me with how easy it wasn’t. It wasn’t a grind, but I actually thought 217 would be easy enough that I’d take a 6th rep. Ummmmmm, no. Got somewhat hard and slow for the 5th rep, which annoyed me, as I mentioned. Kind of figured I’d blast right through it. I’ll chalk it up to not actually pressing above 200 lbs in 3 weeks, and plan on 223x5 next Thursday.

Bench Press (Volume)
296x5, 307x5, 318x5, 307x5, 296x5
Notes: A bit harder than I expected here, too, but no problem. Bar speed was good, I just had to use more “umph!” than I thought I would.

BW Chins
8,8,8
Notes: Didn’t rest much, still easing back in here.

Cable Shoulder External Rotation
7.5x12x3

Finished with shoulder capsule stretches. I plan to add rows back in next week, as I ramp up the weights on volume and intensity.

Resuming lower body training today.

Squat
359x5, 386x5, 405x5x2 -
vid is the final set of 5
Notes:
 Small ramp-up and then two sets of five @ 405. All were pretty easy, moved well. This seems to be the easiest I’ve ever transitioned back into training after a meet. Perhaps it’s simply that I’m so much stronger than I was before that weights that I expect to be heavy - not based on what I can actually do, but based on my mental perception of those weights throughout my training history - are just not stressors anymore. Which is a pleasant surprise. This has happened on all of the lifts I’ve done so far. We’ll see about the DL at the end of the week.

Power Clean
45x6, 89x3, 111x2, 133x2, 155 x1+1x2, 177 x1+1x3, 199 x1+1x2
Notes: Stayed light and easy, focusing on waiting for the jumping position and staying out over the bar, two things I tend to be early on.

Versa Climber
75ft climb / 75s rest x 4
Notes: Conditioning sucks. A lot.

(Source: startingstrength.com)