Let’s talk about the workouts!

I get a lot of questions in regards to “why” I work out. So let’s talk about that a little bit first.

So, classic Destiny humility aside, I consider myself to be a pretty well-adjusted person. I firmly believe in the “mind over matter” stuff, and that any individual can be self confident regardless of the situation. That being said, I’ve found that achieving certain things in life, no matter how much I think it won’t affect me, ends up shifting my perspective a little bit. Maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone, or maybe it affects different people in different ways, but I know it’s definitely caused me to approach different situations with a different mindset.

I make it a habit to go back and talk to my high school band teacher whenever I get the chance to. He’s a super cool guy and I love to help him out whenever I have the chance to with any tech-related questions he might have; recently the all-state auditions have been changed so that they have to be sent in electronically (over the internet) via video recordings as opposed to all of the old cassette tapes we used to use when I was in school, so I’ve been finding ways to help him out. Talking to people that you respect and talking to people that you hate when  you make a lot of money is very, very different. I don’t know if it’s because someone you previously had to look up to for validation is now someone you can now write off while having external validation (due to financial status) from society regardless of how they feel about you. Again, this is all completely baseless conjecture, I’m just telling you how I feel.

It’s also crazy to be walking around in the supermarket wearing my shitty carpet cleaner shoes along with a t-shirt and a scraggly beard while having people shooting you glances while you move up and down the aisles. Again, self-confidence and knowing you’re a smart and good person etc…etc…is all great and what not, but knowing that you could open your mouth and silence any dissent in a moment with a “I made $x,000 this month playing video games, who the fuck are you, bro?” Conceited? Sure. Childish? Definitely. But it’s undeniable that different properties that affect your status can also have an impact on your mind when you’re interacting with other people. Why should I care what someone in a restaurant says about me or what I’m wearing? If they were to pick their phone up and tweet to their friends, how many would see it, 15? 25? 50 at the most? What if I tweeted about them? How many would see it? There are at least 30,000 people on the internet who know who I am. Again, I don’t know why it works this way, I just know that, at least for me, it does. Again, call me an asshole, call me shallow…hell, a few years ago I probably would have called myself the same names.

I’m sure by now you kind of see where this fits into the working out. So let’s talk about the working outs!

So about 2 years ago, this is exactly what I would have said if you asked me about working out: “Why would I waste my time in a gym? I’d much rather practice my saxophone, or practice my Starcraft, or read a book, or take an online class. Literally anything I do with my time is better spent than wasting it ‘getting big.’ What’s the point? I don’t need to pick up shit and move it around, this is the 21st century, bro. And why should I care what someone thinks about how I look? Those are only shallow people that I don’t want to be involved with, anyway.”

There are a couple of different ways that I look at it. I’ll appeal to the self-esteem side of things, the sexual side of things, and the intellectual side of things.

In the same way that money works, I think there’s a fundamentally different way that you carry yourself around people knowing you’re a physically powerful person. That confidence can exude itself in every single interaction. Just knowing that you can pick up a table, lift a couch, throw a person, etc…It just changes, on some level, the degree of confidence you have around people that you interact with. I can’t really explain it, but if there are people that are actually strong to talk to, I’d suggest asking them about it. For me, personally, I feel like the feelings are similar to finally carrying a firearm. Knowing you have the capability to drawing a firearm and ending someone’s life in an instant completely changes the way you view every single situation. Not necessarily for the better, not necessarily for the worse…it’s just a different feeling. Suddenly stopping to pump your gas on a poorly lit road in the middle of the night doesn’t feel like such a potentially terrifying experience, because you know that you’re at least somewhat prepared for random shit that comes your way. I really wish I could explain this better, maybe I’ll spend a great deal of time thinking about this in the future so I can put it better into words. I think those that know what I’m talking about, know, though. Maybe someone on my subreddit will write up a better articulation of what I’m trying to say.

As for feeling and looking better, that part is obvious. People with well defined muscles who possess a certain amount of strength just tend to be more attractive people. To paraphrase Rippetoe from Starting Strength, any person could add a great deal of strength to themselves and always be happier for it. Whether or not anyone wants to admit it, being stronger is fun and enjoyable. I know that from my little bit of time in the gym, breaking PR’s and moving around big weight (for me, at least) is an enjoyable experience.

The intellectual justification for lifting is pretty weak, but the more that I’ve thought about it, the more it’s grown on me. This could just be a classic case of confirmation bias, of course, but I digress. After working out for a bit, you start to realize something – your body is capable of amazing things. You might not even realize it if you’ve never taken the time to pay attention to your body. But if you’ve ever seen a professional play basketball, football, hockey, or even professional gamers playing Starcraft or Counter Strike, you’ll realize that our brains are excelling at activities that didn’t even exist tens of thousands of years ago. Evolution has gifted all of us with the ability to grow strong muscles and craft powerful bodies. As soon as you begin to see results from working out and you realize that even your tiny, weak, fragile body is capable of growing, you start to realize how amazing the entire process is. Personally, I regret not taking weight lifting more seriously when I was in high school. It’s been tremendous fun so far and I don’t see myself ever wanting to stop now that I’ve started.

Okay! So now that that’s out of the way, how’s the progress?!

Let’s talk a bit about my workout history.

Originally, I wanted to start with a program called convict conditioning, but I didn’t know much at the time about weight lifting. The program seemed fine, and I read about a ton of different body-weight routines, but now I feel like they’re a complete waste of time. Body-weight routines seem fine if you want to exercise and get into some kind of general strength, but for actual strength training I feel like barbells are infinitely superior (due to your ability to accurately and predictably progressively load the weight on, which is very difficult to do with body-weight exercises) to body-weight training programs. After that I’d decided to start going to the gym. I lived at Erin’s at the time, however, and only had access to the local apartment gym. I could have signed up for a gym in the area, but I was never sure how long I’d be there and I didn’t want to waste the money. I made okay-ish progress there. I started dumbbell bench pressing around 20 lbs per hand and slowly worked my way up to 35 lbs per hand. On the lateral pull-downs I started with 50 lbs and worked my way up to 100 lbs, and did some dumbbell squats, starting at 20 lbs per dumbbell and working my way up to 40 lbs per dumbbell.

The progress on these exercises were crazy slow. The weight I started off at was already insanely low, but the progress was torturous. While I was doing okay in regards to the lifting part, eating was (and is) by far the most difficult part of weight training for me. I’m a small person, and I’ve always been small. I used to be one of those people who thought “Oh, I have a high metabolism!” In reality, though, I’ve just been starving myself every single day without ever realizing it. To go from eating about 1 meal a day to 3 full meals a day has been a very difficult process.

After I got home, I finally signed up to a real gym and started the Starting Strength program. As of today, I’ve done 13 workouts following that program. Initially the progress was stunted because I kept injuring my adductors, which slowed down my squats and deadlift progressions, but I think that that was mainly due to an imbalance in my squatting muscles (probably due to starting off with dumbbell squats). Regardless, I backed the weight off and slowly worked my way up over and over again and I’ve finally started making progress with squats and deadlifts. I’m also doing barbell rows, bench press and the overhead press. I track all of the workouts on my phone, and seeing the progress on the exercises has been absolutely addicting.

Earlier tonight I moved my first plates (doing deadlift) and I know I’m long overdue for videos/pictures, so here’s something at least – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JANcIlvk_3o&feature=youtu.be

I originally posted in chat looking to check form (I need to sit back more before I lift), but I’m still really excited about being able to pick this much weight up off the ground. If you would have asked me a year ago if I would ever in my life pick up 100 lbs from the floor, I probably would have said I’d never be able to do it. So to lift 135 lbs off of the floor 15 times (3×5) is a huge deal for me. I’ll post form check videos as all of my exercises move up to 135 (and hopefully 225 and maybe 315). I’ve wasted a ton of time early on (between the body-weight stuff, the dumbbell stuff and the poor eating habits), but I’ve gotten the hang of the dieting part and the lifting part a lot better recently. I’m super excited about the progress I’ve made so far, and I hope to continue doing it.

I’m not sure when I’ll post my next set of pictures. To be honest, I don’t think you can tell much of a difference at the moment between now and before. At the very latest, I’ll post a set of pictures once I can bench press 135 (the weight I’m deadlifting now). Right now my 3×5 for BP is 95, and I should be able to bump that up by 5lbs every bp workout, which is 1.5 times/week (one time on week and two times the next week, repeat), so hopefully in ~2 months I’ll feel like I look good enough to post some new pictures.

Anyway, that’s all for now, I’ll keep you updated. The next video will probably be when I get back from MLG, hopefully I can squat and barbell row 135 lbs by then, depending on the gyms I have access to at Catz’s house.