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161: Beyond the Bulk - Strength Training for the Rest of Us

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161: Beyond the Bulk - Strength Training for the Rest of Us

Oct 24, 2023

Strength is more than skin deep, and it’s not just for the bodybuilders. Aaron Lowry, PT, DPT, explains the foundation of resistance training and the 5 essential movements to maximize health benefits without expensive equipment or complicated routines. Learn how to craft a consistent and practical strength training plan for the everyday person.

Episode Transcript

This content was originally created for audio. Some elements such as tone, sound effects, and music can be hard to translate to text. As such, the following is a summary of the episode and has been edited for clarity. For the full experience, we encourage you to subscribe and listen— it's more fun that way.



Scot: Mitch, when you think of strength training, or weightlifting, or pumping iron, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?

Mitch: Oh, it's always magazines with big, super jacked, shirtless dudes on the cover. Or I go onto Reddit and it's . . . I think one of the boards is Brogress and it's dudes showing their macros and their before-and-after photos and they're always super ripped and everything. And so I don't know. That's what I think of.

Scot: Yeah. Troy, what do you think about when you hear weightlifting or pumping iron?

Troy: I think of the couple years I had a pass to 24/7 Fitness and just the smell of sweat and mildew in there, and lots of dudes just walking around trying to look tough and stuff, and just feeling like, "I don't fit in here."

Mitch: Oh my god, the smell.

Troy: The smell.

Scot: For me, my relationship with trying to do strength training started when I was really young. I was a skinny ranch kid, and that made me super self-conscious. Not only the ranch culture didn't exactly dig skinny guys, but it was pretty rough in school. So I always used to fantasize about being a big muscular guy. I thought that would make me manly, right? At one point, I wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mitch: Wow.

Scot: So when I think about pumping iron or weightlifting, it's all about appearance. It's about being big and being manly. Mitch, what you said was interesting because I heard a lot of guys, when you said what you said, think, "Not for me," right?

Mitch: Yeah.

Scot: So I think a lot of us think about physical appearance when we think about strength training.

Troy: Oh, I totally do. Yeah.

Scot: Yeah. I did a little research and I made a list of benefits that strength training can give you. I came up with 16 of them, and 14 of them have nothing to do with appearance.


Troy: Really? I was going to say number one and two are left and right biceps, three and four are left and right pecs. Those are the only benefits I know.

Scot: Yeah. Strength training, though, when we talk about the Core Four, nutrition, activity, sleep, and emotional health, it's a crucial part of that activity component and it also bleeds into those other components, and it's a critical part of men's overall health. It should be something that all men do, and it shouldn't necessarily be all about appearance.

But what does strength training for a guy look like? If you can't dedicate hours in the gym or if you're not lifting those big weights and getting swole, are you just wasting your time?

By the way, I kind of feel that way, right? If I'm not lifting the big weights and going all out in the gym, I'm wasting my time in there. And I think that's one of the misconceptions I hope that we can address today.

So today we're going to cut through the crap about strength training, and hopefully find a sustainable way for all men to get the benefits of strength training, whether you've never lifted a weight in your life, maybe you have some experience, or even if you want to do it, but you never have because you hate gyms and you want to do it at home.

This is "Who Cares About Men's Health," information, inspiration, and a different interpretation of men's health. My name is Scot Singpiel. I bring the BS. The MD to my BS is Dr. Troy Madsen.

Troy: Hey, Scot. I'm excited too. We've never talked about . . . I'm from coal mining country. So who's from a more man-toxic culture, you or me? I don't know. But I always wanted to get big too so I wasn't just the skinny little dude there in coal country. Anyway.

Scot: Yeah. I mean, that means something in a lot of places.

Troy: It means a lot.

Scot: It does.

Troy: Yeah. It really does.

Scot: And just even in high school, if you want to get girls, you've got to . . .

Troy: Yeah. The skinny, nerdy dude. Anyway.

Scot: Mitch is "Who Cares About Men's Health" convert. Welcome to the show.

Mitch: Hey, there. I come from construction stock but we never really . . . A masculine thing, but getting swole is not a big part of that.

Scot: Okay. And our guest today is Aaron Lowry. He's a Ph.D. in physical therapy, and he works at University of Utah Health at the Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital. Aaron, where are you from?

Aaron: One correction. It's a doctorate degree, not a Ph.D.

Scot: Oh, okay.

Aaron: Just to clarify.

Scot: All right. But still . . .

Aaron: It's a lot of school either way, so I definitely spent a lot of time studying this stuff. But I'm from Northwest Washington. So I didn't really have a weightlifting culture where I grew up, per se.

Scot: Or "you had to be a big guy" culture or anything like that.

Aaron: I think that exists anywhere when you're a man to an extent. There's pressure to feel like you need that to be manly and all that stuff. But I can't compete with you guys when it comes to coal or farm country. Sorry.

Troy: No, you can't. I mean, you're talking Microsoft employees and stuff.

Aaron: Yeah. Big forearms from typing I guess. I don't know.

Scot: Aaron, we're going to cover a lot of ground today for guys to learn a little bit more about strength training, the benefits that come beyond just appearance, which there are a lot of them, how to get started, maybe get rid of some misconception for those of us who have done it for a while that have been off and on and have struggled with sustainability, and maybe make it more sustainable for us.

But I've got a question for you. How many benefits of strength training can you name . . .

Aaron: Oh, gosh.

Scot: . . . with your not Ph.D., but a doctorate and a lot of studying?

Aaron: Yeah, there's a ton.

Scot: There are.

Aaron: Sixteen at least, and probably more if I had more time to think about it.

Scot: Does anybody else want to throw out some that you can think of off the top of your head? I got the list here, and Mitch always tells me, "Stay away from lists because it bores listeners." I think this is an important list, though. We're trying to make the case that you should do this.

Aaron: I'll say one that may not be on your list that I learned recently about, and that is glucose metabolism.

Scot: Great.

Aaron: Your body will become more insulin sensitive, which is a good thing when you weight train as compared to only doing aerobic exercise.

Troy: Nice. So preventing diabetes, type 2 diabetes.

Aaron: So if you have diabetes, or pre-diabetes, or are worried about diabetes, if you eat a lot of sugar in your life, that's pretty much all of us, then this is going to help you to clear that sugar and have less negative effects from that long term.

Scot: Yeah. That's awesome.

Troy: Nice.

Scot: Mitch, do you have any benefits that you've heard of other than physical? Appearance I should say, but you can say physical benefits.

Mitch: One of the more recent ones that I actually was doing a bit of research and found a couple studies on is that mental health medications, ADHD, antidepressants, etc., work significantly better for people who have a regular workout routine, strength training specifically.

And so I guess I was not expecting that when I was looking into it, this idea that the medications you take could be impacted and work even better if you do some strength training.

Scot: Right. Troy, any benefits beyond just the appearance?

Troy: I'm going to just jump in and say kind of more the skeletal system, both joint health and prevention of osteoporosis, I think, would be two things that really have nothing to do with that bulky appearance, but just are both going to improve with strength training.

Scot: Yeah. We've had this discussed on this podcast. Strength training is a great way to naturally increase your testosterone.

Here's the list. Like I said, Mitch tells me, "Stay away from lists." So I'm just going to go through this as quickly as I can, but . . .

Troy: Make it fast. We're losing listeners by the second, Scot.

Aaron: I'm already bored.

Scot: You're going to be overwhelmed by all the benefits. So there are hormonal benefits, and you hit on one, Aaron. Blood sugar regulation. It can prevent and, even if you have type 2 diabetes, help control your diabetes. It releases other chemicals, which help regulate appetite metabolism.

There are physical benefits. Did you know that guys, as soon as we start turning 30, we start losing muscle and bone mass to the tune of like 3% a year or some silly number? So strength training helps counteract that. You might not be getting big and swole, but at least you're not getting small and tiny, right?

It maintains that bone density and strength. You get functional strength to do the things you want to do in life.

It can reduce the risk of injury and arthritis.

It can help with chronic pain management.

Let's hit up the mental health benefits. Mitch hit one, talking about depression and anxiety. I did not know it could actually help those medications, but it has great benefits because it releases those endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers.

And it can help your self-confidence too, even if you don't get to that big and swole place like Chris Pratt or the guy that played "Thor," whoever that was, or The Rock.

Mitch: Chris Hemsworth.

Scot: It also can help with disease prevention. It can control obesity and the accompanying issues like high blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol. It can help with cardiovascular disease. It can reduce cancer risk.

And here are the two about appearance. And even if you never look like a cover model or an influencer, muscle looks better than fat and it can help give you better posture.

That's everything strength training brings to the table. So the question is, why don't more of us do it?

Troy: I've got to throw out one more too. I think, too, as you get older, one of the big risks is falls. I think as you strength train and have more strength, it, number one, helps prevent falls. But number two, when you do fall, I think it's easier to catch yourself . . .

Scot: Absolutely.

Troy: . . . if you get a little more strength there. So I just have seen so many people with bad injuries from falls in the ER in 40s, 50s, certainly in 70s, 80s.

Scot: And I will talk too also just this notion, because you guys talked it up, as you start getting older, this ability to move. I have people in my life that I am witnessing that are having difficulty moving as they get older. And I want to tell them, "Just do some chair squats. Do something. Keep that strength up."

And that's been a big motivator for me lately to want to do strength training, because when I'm 70, 80, 90, I want to be able to still move around. And avoiding the falls too, like you just brought up, is a huge thing.

So, Aaron, the first thing I want to ask you is what is strength training? I think we should examine is that even a good word to use? Because at the top of the show, I said lifting weights, pumping iron, strength training, and that conjures images in your brain of what you have to do. But I've heard resistance training, and I like that better. What do you think, Aaron?

Aaron: Yeah, I agree. And I just like the word training as opposed to, "I'm going to go work out. I'm going to go lift weights." It intimates that I have a specific goal in mind, a specific adaptation that I'm trying to work toward, right? And that helps me personally be motivated and stay motivated knowing that goal in mind.

Scot: Right. And we listed a whole bunch of good goals, right?

Aaron: Yeah, definitely.

Scot: From mental health to disease prevention to appearance to physical benefits. So when we talk about resistance training, does it have to always be weights?

Aaron: In one form or another, it kind of does, but not in the traditional sense of barbells. You can use your own body weight and do a lot of really good stuff with calisthenics. That's a great place to start, especially if you're new.

But ultimately, it's moving resistance against gravity that's going to produce the results. So, in some form or another, weight is going to be involved.

Scot: Yeah. Or what about resistance bands?

Aaron: Yeah, definitely. Similarly, you're having to move something against gravity, whether that's a band or a weight. With gravity providing the resistance, it's still there.

Scot: Right. I like to think of it as I need to be doing things with my muscles that I don't do in my daily life.

Troy: That's a good way to think about it.

Aaron: Yeah. You want to challenge them more than our current plush and easy lives generally are requiring us to do. That's the idea.

Scot: Yeah, unless you have a physical labor job or something like that.

Aaron: Right.

Troy: I love to think of it, again, as resistance and not as weights. And for me, a lot of that means just using my own body weight, push-ups, sit-ups, that kind of stuff. So, yeah, I agree. I think once you take the dumbbells out of the equation, I think for a lot of people that opens up more exercises, more flexibility where you're not trying to get to a gym, and you can accomplish a lot with that.

Scot: Hey, Troy, that's a good question. Tell us a little bit about . . . So you do some strength training, right?

Troy: I do.

Scot: Why, and what does that look like?

Troy: So, for me, strength training . . . I think, like you said, Scot, it's not about getting bulky, because I'm not going to get bulky. It's not going to happen. It's more about range of motion and trying not to get too super scrawny, and trying to maintain while I'm losing muscle mass as I get older.

For me, I have something I do every day, and it's a pretty standard routine. Maybe I should mix it up more, but I'm more of a creature of habit and this works for me. So I do push-ups, I do sit-ups, I do some leg range of motion stuff, some squats. Again, without weights.

I will do some bicep curl and overhead press with 20-pound weights on each, just dumbbells. I do pull-ups as well, and then I'll mix in stretching along with that.

So it's a pretty straightforward, fairly easy routine. It takes me about 10 minutes to do. I find I can do it pretty much any time of day. I can squeeze it in. And I find that at least helps me with at least maintaining and helps with the range of motion piece, helps just maintain skeletal muscle.

There were stretches where I wasn't doing that. I definitely was not maintaining the skeletal muscle that I maintain with it. So it seems to make a difference. And like I said, it works for me. I'm not trying to go to a gym. And the only weights I have are just two 20-pound dumbbells.

Scot: Aaron, how about you? Strength training? And what does it look like if you do?

Aaron: I do what's called a push/pull/leg split. So you do push muscles, like push-ups, shoulders, triceps one day, pulling exercises like rows, and biceps, and back stuff the next day, then legs the next day, then you repeat that process again, and then rest on the seventh day. So it's push, pull, leg, push, pull, leg, rest.

I have found that, for me, the right balance of being consistent is about . . . so I'm going to have approximately 12 to 15-ish sets per day, given that split, and try to get in and out in 20, 30 minutes.

Scot: Cool. And are you doing free weights? Are you doing machines? What do you do?

Aaron: Yeah. I really don't like going to the gym, just because of the extra time and the cost, and the whole gym culture is kind of annoying to me, honestly. So, for me, a lot of my stuff is body weights with the addition of weight vests, if you like, dumbbells, and then a set of gymnastics rings, which I love as a cheap tool that really murder your shoulders and add extra difficulty to things that I wanted as I progressed.

Troy: Cool. And this is all just at home you're doing it?

Aaron: Yep. Home in the garage.

Troy: Nice.

Scot: Nice.

Troy: Wow, 20 minutes.

Scot: What is the bare minimum somebody needs to do for the health benefits of strength training? I mean, Aaron, you're kind of involved. How would you start somebody out on this journey that has zero knowledge?

Aaron: With exercise, anything that you can do at all compared to doing nothing is going to provide benefit. And that benefit will increase the more you do up until a certain point. And most of us are way far away from that point of doing too much.

Unless you're brand new and do too much too fast because you're untrained, that can cause you to hit a wall pretty quick. That's hard to overcome. So you want to start slow and then ease into it.

For me personally, when I started to strength train, my first thing I did was push-ups, and my goal was 20 push-ups every day. No excuses.

Troy: Nice.

Aaron: I knew that I could do a small amount like that and always do it. So every day I'd get up, turn the shower on, while the water was heating up, knock out 20 push-ups, hop in the shower, done. And that was it.

Scot: And you could feel good about yourself because you got your workout done.

Aaron: Yeah. I did it and I was consistent and I could never say no to that because it was so easy and small.

Troy: I love that.

Aaron: And I did that to build the habit of just doing it regularly and then slowly built from there until I found a happy medium of volume that gave me the results that I wanted.

Troy: I love that. I love several things you said there. Number one, there's no bare minimum. Anything you do is beneficial. And we even talked about an article recently that talked about short bursts of activity, like two minutes a day, and just the surprising health benefits from that. So, like you said, just anything you're doing benefits.

But I love, too, like you said, the whole push-up thing, keeping it simple, keeping it very easy to do, and really going for consistency. I think there's so much value in that.

Scot: "Just start doing something," is what you would tell somebody who has never done this before. And then also, like I think we've talked about, it doesn't have to be at a gym. It doesn't have to be with barbells or dumbbells. It can be just with your own body weight.

So you said there is no bare minimum, if you maybe just want to start out like you did doing some push-ups. I think squats are great exercises because they work those leg muscles, and your back muscles, and your core muscles.

Aaron: Absolutely.

Scot: Just even some bodyweight squats, I think, is a great place, plus that range of motion. But let's say somebody wants to get into a little bit more and they want to kind of have more of a full-body experience. How many exercises could I do to get a full-body experience, and what should those be?

Aaron: So there's a great quote I want to borrow from a guy that studies this full-time named Andy Galpin. He's a professor at California State Fullerton. He says that the methods are many, but the concepts are few. Meaning that there are tons of different things that you can do, tons of different ways that are all going to be effective, some more than others for certain goals that you may have, but they're all going to work as long as you follow some key concepts, as long as you can be hitting all the major muscle groups and have balance.

When you do push, pull, and legs, and also some core exercises mixed in there, you're going to hit pretty much everything.

Troy: As I'm hearing this, I'm trying to think about this in very practical terms. Again, someone like me, I've got some dumbbells at home, 20-pound dumbbells. I don't have a lot of time. I mean, can I basically break this down just into five exercises then, one in each of these areas, and get a pretty good workout with that?

Aaron: Yeah, depending on, again, your goals. The more you want to look like Hugh Jackman, you're going to have to do more than one exercise.

Troy: I gave up on that a long time ago.

Aaron: Do you know what I mean? These Hollywood guys, they get huge over relatively short periods of time. They're training super hard getting ready for movies and whatnot, right?

Troy: Yeah, but I could break it down though into something pretty simple like a squat, like we just talked about. And then the hip hinge piece, I'm not sure what to do there. But the push piece, I could do push-ups. The pull piece, I could use my dumbbells and pull, almost like a lat row kind of thing, I guess, where I'm kind of bent over. And then core, do some sit-ups. And that's a pretty balanced, reasonable workout right there, would you say?

Aaron: Yeah, I think so. For push, I think a basic push-up is great.

Troy: Nice.

Aaron: And again, depending on how trained or untrained you are, just doing a simple bodyweight push-up. But again, YouTube it, learn what the good form is to do it, and do a number of push-ups that takes you to the point of where your form starts to break down. Whether that's 1, or 5, or 10, or 20, whatever that is, that's where you want to start.

If you can't do a push-up, raise your hands above your feet a little bit. So you're not going against gravity quite so much. There are different things that you can do to make it even easier. You can work on . . .

Scot: You can do like modified push-ups, right?

Aaron: Yeah. Or you can do eccentric push-ups, where you use your legs and your core to help get into that starting position, then just lower to the ground really slowly and controlled the whole time, and repeat that process for several reps. That's a great way to start.

Scot: So you're doing the resistance part, you're not doing the push part?

Aaron: Right. You're just trying to control it on the way down better.

Scot: Got it. And that can have benefits.

Aaron: Or do knee push-ups. Keep your knees on the ground so there's less weight to push up that way. Lots of ways to modify it, to make it simpler if you're really brand new and just trying to get started.

Scot: Okay. And that push-up is going to work your shoulders and your chest?

Aaron: Yep. Shoulders, chest, and core if you're tucking your pelvis and keeping your core engaged the whole time as well.

Scot: Okay. And your triceps. I forgot triceps.

Aaron: And triceps, yep. Push-ups, it's a lot. It hits a lot of the push muscles all at the same time. That's why it's a fan favorite.

Troy: Let's do pull. That's the part that's a mystery to me. What kind of pull stuff besides what we talked about, a lat row with some weights?

Aaron: Yeah. Ideally, everyone would have a set of pulley weights in their house, but that's . . .

Scot: Well, sure.

Troy: . . . a set of gear that nobody has, right? So if you're in a gym environment and are going the gym route, that's a great tool to use to have all kinds of different pull exercises.

For someone that's more trained, if you have the ability to start too, just a bar or a set of rings and a pull-up is great, just pulling up body weight. But I recognize that's tough for a lot of people to start with.

Similarly, you can do eccentric pull-ups. Get up onto a stool, use your legs to get up into the position, chin over the bar, and then lower yourself down slowly. And work on the eccentric aspect of that and do as many reps as it takes to get pretty tired and have your form start to break down.

Scot: And that builds strength? Just doing the . . .

Troy: Absolutely.

Scot: . . . negatives or the eccentric, the resistance? Okay, cool.

Aaron: Or if you have access to a bar or a set of rings that you can lower down and then put your feet up onto a stool, so they're about the same height as the rings where you're pulling your body up horizontally versus vertically. Then part of your weight's through your legs, so it's easier.

And if you're just getting started, that's often a better way to get started and still be able to do a few reps concentrically where you're pulling up and lowering down.

Troy: What if you have no weights, no bar? Any equivalent?

Aaron: Yeah. Resistance bands. Sit and put the band around a doorknob or whatever stationary object you have and pull against the band, for sure.

Troy: Yeah. Or put it around your feet. Just don't let it flip up and hit you in the eye.

Scot: And some of those you could get for $15, $20. You can get a band set that has a deal that you put in the door that attaches it to the top of the door. So then you can do some of those pulling down like a cable machine exercises with the bands.

Aaron: Or you can buy a set of rings on Amazon for $30. They're not that much more expensive, and they're way better.

Scot: Where do you keep your rings? Do you put them in a tree outside your house so you can show everybody how alpha you are, or . . .

Aaron: That's totally funny because that's actually kind of true. It's not so I can show off, but they are, when the weather is conducive, hanging off a tree in the backyard.

Troy: So you just have an anchor in your ceiling. And then in the warmer months, you go out without your shirt on and just go do it in the front yard.

Aaron: Totally. Definitely no shirt. You can't wear a shirt.


Scot: So those pull exercises, those are working your back muscles, right? Your lats that you hear about and your biceps as well. What else are those working?

Aaron: Yeah, lats, biceps, any muscles in your back that pull your scapula down and inward. It's also going to work your core if you're engaging your core during the exercise.

Scot: So we did the push. We did the pull exercises. What about a squat exercise? Talk about that.

Aaron: Yeah, I think a squat is kind of the classic lower leg exercise that I really dig. Again, no equipment, you can do it anywhere with your own body weight. You can easily grab a kettlebell and do a goblet squat. You can add weights to that pretty easily to make it more challenging. You can start to do more of a lunge instead to make it more difficult doing only one leg. Lots of ways to advance it easily without buying a bunch of stuff that's extra.

Scot: And that squat is working your quadriceps and it's working your glutes. What else is it working? Your butt, your glutes.

Aaron: Yeah. Mostly those. You're going to get some hamstring as well. Hamstrings get worked a little bit more . . . you need unilateral work doing a lunge. You're going to work your calf muscles. Really anything along your chain that extends, you're going to work. So it's a great one.

Scot: All right. Cool. Let's go to hip hinge. What does that look like? What's an exercise or two somebody could use to do a hip hinge?

Aaron: For me, I kind of incorporate hip hinge with leg. I mean, whenever you're going to lunge deeply or squat deeply, that's going to give you that hip hinge. So I kind of hit two birds with one stone in that regard.

Scot: Okay. So a squat is also a hip hinge, or a lunge is more of a hip hinge?

Aaron: I think either one can count if you're doing them regularly and squatting deeply when you do.

Scot: Because your hips are moving. I guess I always thought of a hip hinge as bending from the hips to the ground.

Aaron: Yeah, and that can be done as well. I personally don't incorporate that specific thing, but you are going to get a lot of glute activation with that sort of a thing. I think you're a little bit more vulnerable to have your back get hurt if you do that wrong. So it might not be the best beginner exercise, but worth considering if you like that.

Scot: Yeah. And a hip hinge would be like a deadlift, whether it's stiff-legged or . . .

Aaron: Yeah. Deadlifts are great. They do require, though, some pretty heavy weights, and a bar, and the space for it. And most of us aren't going to have that unless you're really into working out.

Scot: I don't know, though. I mean, I've done what I call a hip hinge or a deadlift just with my kettlebells.

Aaron: Yeah, that's true. And I guess you don't need a lot of weight, especially if you're going deep. I think generally it's better to be able to hinge and get all the way down where you're almost sitting on the ground doing a squat, that level of depth, and then coming up again versus adding a lot of weight and squatting partway down.

Scot: Sure. And then core, what is the core exercise we'd want to do?

Aaron: Oh, man. There are lots of core exercises. I think the best ones that are there involve using cables, which aren't a great tool that a lot of us have available readily. I think planks are great, side planks. The problem with those, though, is they're not very fun.

Troy: You just made my brain hurt when you said planks.

Aaron: I know. Everyone cringes. "Ugh, planks." They're rough.

Scot: Yeah, a plank is where you're on the ground and you have your forearms and elbows on the ground and your body stretched out and the back of your feet are the contact point for the back of your legs, and you look like a plank of wood, right? You're just trying to keep things from collapsing.

Troy: Why don't you like push-ups? I'm curious.

Aaron: Yeah, I was going there next. During a push-up, or during a pull-up, or doing a lot of the other exercises you're going to already be doing, if you can consciously take your pelvis and tilt it posteriorly a little bit and . . .

Scot: Which means forward?

Aaron: It means you tilt the top of the pelvis backward. It's called a hollow hold, where you kind of hollow out and drag your belly button up and in and maintain that abdominal and that core contraction while doing pull-ups and push-ups and many of the other exercises you're already doing. That's going to be great in and of itself.

But I want to reiterate the main concepts that I want to hit on for all these things we're talking about is being consistent. Find the smallest amount that you can do that you can just do no matter what and be really consistent with. And if you miss a day, it's fine. You're not a failure. There's no reason to stop entirely. Just pick it up again and keep going.

Scot: Yeah. I've heard that you're supposed to give yourself rest days, and I'm really good at doing that.

Aaron: Yeah, and that is kind of true, but you have to listen to your body, right? This is one of those things that we have as a result of the '80s and '90s, back in the day when most of what we knew about weight training was based on hypertrophy, where guys were exercising at huge volumes and at really high intensities to get hypertrophy.

For that kind of a really intense long workout, you're going to have to give your body two, or three, or four days rest for each muscle group before the next one.

But for what we're talking about here, most of us aren't exercising to that level of intensity or volume and you don't really need that long of a rest day unless you're really sore. In which case, yeah, give your body some time to feel better again.

Scot: So what we've been talking about up to this point, some body weight stuff or some stuff at home if you're not using huge weights, is going to get you the benefits of strength training. It's going to help maybe prevent muscle loss. It's going to give you those mental health things. It's going to give you those metabolism and hormonal benefits. But now if we want to get a little bit stronger and we want to take it to the next level, it's the next level you're talking about here, right?

Aaron: Yeah, definitely. But not necessary. For me, I started small. Push-ups was it. Then I progressively added things until I got to the point where I felt like my fitness was meeting my goals.

And now I do the same things all the time. I'm not adding more weights, and more time, and more reps, more volume. I'm pretty happy where I'm at. And if I can just do that and maintain consistently, that's good for me. It's probably good for most of us.

But if your goal is really to get big and really continually advance to the next phase of fitness, you're going to have to add more weight, and reps, and volume, and overload in some way to get that.

Scot: How important is sustainability? Is it the most important thing, do you think?

Aaron: Yeah. Even if your program is really suboptimal and you're exercising not in the ideal way, if you're doing it regularly and consistently, you're going to have results. Much better to do that than to have the perfect program and routine that you only do once every week or once every two weeks.

Scot: Well, thanks for giving us a place to start with experiencing the benefits of strength training.

Takeaways. Mitch, what'd you get out of this?

Mitch: I absolutely loved the kind of approach that . . . Usually the plans that I've tried really hard before and really tried to commit to, I'm not listening to my body, right? I'm working myself out way harder. It really focuses on how much weight you're supposed to be lifting and how many reps you're supposed to be doing, etc., rather than go to failure. And that's a good place to start, right?

Then I'm so sore and miserable and everything that I can't be consistent, right? And then on top of that, you feel like a failure, like you're not as strong as those guys on the magazine or the Instagram influencers, so you're somehow less than because you can't do the plan that they were doing.

So there's a part of me that really, really appreciates that you can do stuff mostly body weight or with cheap equipment in your home if you need to. You don't have to work out for an hour and a half or so to just get some basic benefits.

And once you get used to that and get consistent, you can start to increase it. I really appreciate that approach more than anything I've done before in my life.

Scot: Yeah, if you want to increase it. You don't have to. That's the great thing. That goes against the culture of bigger, faster, better, stronger, more awesome, kick-ass, whatever. I don't know what I'm saying.

Aaron, I know you are our guest. Do you have any final thoughts that you'd like to leave us with?

Aaron: I think that a great goal for a starting person that's new to the whole thing is to be consistent in a program. The ultimate long-term goals of strength, and size, and looking better and all that are all secondary. Make the habit itself become the goal, right?

Start with that, and once the habit is developed, all the other things, the other downstream positive effects, are going to happen anyway.

And you can't control how big you get, how fast very much. You can't make yourself, through willpower, become Wolverine, right? But you can make yourself, through willpower, do those 20 push-ups every day, or whatever it is.

And if you can get past that first couple or few weeks of the transition, your body getting used to exercising, before it becomes self-reinforcing and the habit gets developed, you're going to be there. That's most of the battle right there. Then you can modify and tweak your program, watch YouTube, learn, optimize as you go, and ultimately, the rest of the goals will happen.

Scot: That's right. I love it.

Troy: I love that. Let the habit be the goal. That's my takeaway, for sure.

Scot: If you're listening right now, what is your goal for strength training and how can you take that first step? Is it starting 20 push-ups? Is it doing squats? Is it trying to do five different exercises a day, like we talked about, that can impact your whole body and just making that consistent?

Reach out to us and let us know what your goals are or what your journey's been like. If you have something you'd like to share,

Thanks for listening. Thanks for caring about men's health.


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