Don’t Do That, Do This

I recently moved to Florida and I’ve been training in a gym temporarily until I get the rest of my own equipment. I kind of forgot what goes on in a “normal gym”. Useless exercises done on a whim compounded with silly conversation. Namely:

Hey bro – what are you doing today?

Chest and abz…BRO!

Aight bro, take it easy.

Nah bro, I love my abz.

At least that’s what I remember. It doesn’t necessarily bother me that these fellas are doing exercises to look better, nor does the perpetual use of the word “bro”. It bothers me that they are still “doing body parts”. Doing arms. Doing shoulders. “Doing” is a present participle that should only be followed by the word “work” or the name of your current fling.

The problem is that Muscle and Fitness is still the leader in educating young men how to lift weights, and this is probably a by-product of the Joe Weider/Bob Hoffman rivalry (which may also be the same as the historical bodybuilding/weightlifting disparity). It sure does give me a laugh when people call it “Muscle and Fiction”. Har-dee-har-har, hee-haw, haaaaa……..heh…..ha. So clever. In any case, that publication is the primary training source, because god knows ACSM isn’t helping out And herein lies the problem.

Deadlifts = growth

If you want your body to grow, specifically lean body mass, you have to train your body for what it is: a system. When you train the body as a system, it reacts as a system. The primary systemic reaction from a training bout is a hormonal change. Testosterone is blunted, cortisol is released, and growth hormone will increase after some time (among other things). Hormonal fluctuations immediately react to the changes that your systemic training bout induced, and they also start working on how to bring the body back to a state of normalcy and improve that state of normalcy so that the body can handle more similar disruption easier in the future. You can think of this as maintaining homeostasis and the body wanting to make it harder to disrupt homeostasis.

The only way to force such a disruption is to train lots of muscle mass relatively heavy. Compound movements, those that include lots of joints and subsequently lots of muscles, do this splendidly. That’s why we want you to squat, press, deadlift, clean, and snatch your way to a stronger, bigger physique. Those are the exercises that utilize the most muscle to create enough of a systemic disturbance that requires certain hormones to improve muscular growth and force production. Isolation exercises don’t get the same response. Even if you were doing, say, the bench press followed by dips; it wouldn’t get the same response either because you are focusing on that one area of the body. You’re just “doing chest and tris”. Instead, let’s get some fucking disruption by squatting, benching, cleaning, and then doing dips. You’ll get a lovely stress/response that will help you on your 70’s Big Quest.


Digest that again. Instead of doing silly isolation training, use compound lifts that use lots of muscle to put on lean body mass (studies by Dr. Robert Kraemer indicate that whole body-workouts are more effective than partial-body workouts to induce hormonal disruption). Do several of these compound lifts to work the whole body. Hormonal disruption will occur. So will recovery. The result is an adaptation. You are now stronger. Do this continually and utilize aspects of recover (nutrition, sleep, etc.) to promote the creation of new tissue, and the muscles grow larger as the strength increases. The amount of work to cause the stress and the length of time for recovery are variables dependent on an individual’s training adaptation, but the process is relatively the same.

The reason that this works over the typical fitness methods is because it takes the systemic effect of training into consideration. Magazines only worry about the local effect; what is going on at a specific muscle and how it can be worked to grow. They ignore the necessary systemic response that promotes an environment of growth for that muscle. They also ignore the fact that using significant amounts of weight, namely above 80% of a 1RM, produces significantly larger disruption to elicit a useful response. Then there’s the whole argument (that Rip is known for establishing) about the classic barbell lifts using pretty much every muscle from the head to the toes, and you can see why trying anything else first is a waste of time.

Those of you who have done a linear progression note how well ALL of your muscles developed and grew and how much stronger you were after doing it. It’s just a shame that the perceived authority is either ignorant of this concept or refuses to accept its value. And don’t even get me started on the abz, bro.

45 thoughts on “Don’t Do That, Do This

  1. Awesome post. I just wish I could explain it this well to other people.

    Should I make a cliff notes version for the layman?


  2. Absolutely nothing wrong with lifting to look good. That being said, I desperately want to ask the chest and abzzz bros if they’ve ever heard of “the internet”. A wonderful place full of actual traning information and differing opinions, so that *gasp*… they might be able to make an educated opinion instead of slavishly following M&F.

  3. This has little to nothing to do with this post (sorry about that…), but I just felt compelled to mention that today, since my school gym was closed for the 5th, I had to take a trial at a commercial gym. This “gym” had no:

    – squat racks
    – flat benches
    – platforms or bumper plates (though many gyms don’t)
    – dip bars (you could ONLY do them assisted–way to lower the standards!)
    – GRAND FINALE: free barbell (only one, and it was smith-machined…so much for my deads!)

    I’ll leave it up to the 70’s Big crew…should I feel obligated to burn this place (I won’t refer to it as a gym) down, or at the very least destroy every “male” who walks in? Or does anyone else have any more creative suggestions? Remember: NO BARBELLS in the whole facility…

    I can’t recommend that you burn this place to the ground (who do you think you are? Brent?), but it shouldn’t be called a gym.


  4. Hey man, you have moved to florida?

    So you are no longer at wfac, with all the other guys?

    Other guys means Chris and Mike. Brent lives a couple hours south and AC lives in Georgia.


  5. but BRO! getting hyoog biceptsz and washboard abz would get me laid…BRO!

    That’s the characteristics my other BRO is looking for in a partner BRO!

  6. Yeah, I’m not sure if I got it right, Justin you moved to Florida man? What do you think of it? Btw I was once one of the concentration curl broz. Thank God for Rip, SS and 70sbig. Now I’m a completely different person.

    I went to school in south Georgia, so the weather isn’t all that different (humidity still sucks). I’m in Panama City.


  7. Justin, I feel your pain. Unfortunately, I witnessed a man trying to “squat” 375 on a Smith Machine with wraps over his Zubaz pants and his bright red Underarmor. He needed a spotter, who seemed to be attempting to impregnate him from behind, in order to complete 2 2′ “movements.”

    I would have gotten this on camera, but I can’t be held responsible for unleashing this atrocity upon the rest mankind. Luckily, I set a new PR on the deadlift, so all is well.

  8. Seriously “bro,” why did you move out of Texas? Hmm… oh I know. She must be a great girl. Good for you. I lived in Florida for a few years. Be careful down there. After only a few months of living amongst the cast of “jersey shore” it will be hard to resist the impulse to shave yourself, go tanning, and start doing whatever it is they do to their eyebrows. You might be able to help them out. Who knows?

    I won’t be susceptible to this.


  9. Justin,

    Just as an FYI, the ad on the left side of the page today is for Bowflex

    It’s a random ad. Refresh and it won’t be there. If there was an option to say “No Bowflex ads” for Google Ads, I’d click it.


  10. Justin,
    This write-up hits home with me. My best friend is an Chest and Abz bro! I have been pushing him for a long time to switch to my method but he hasn’t done it yet. He paid some ass load of money for a personal trainer (against my advice obviously) and said he would possibly consider doing classic barbell stuff after he finished with the training. Anyhow, I need a game plan for when he decides to pull his head out of his ass and I was curious what people thought would be a good idea i.e. Have him do SS or go straight into Texas Method or Wendler’s 5/3/1 type of thing…? Any ideas are welcome, Thanks in advance.

    Also- I have gone about 4 weeks without squats in hopes of getting rid of some tendonitis in my knee and it feels a little better but not great yet; has anyone had to do this, and if so how long did you take off?

    I forgot about your knee thing. Tendonitis isn’t going away on its own. Knee article bumped up in the queue.


  11. Did I miss something? Was there a previous announcement about your move to FL? What are you doing over/down there?

    No announcement. I’m living in Florida.


  12. @ StonewallWells

    I had terrible bout with tendinitis in my right knee for most of last year and a good part of this year. I don’t really have any pain associated with it anymore. I took a few weeks off of squatting and came back in with few weeks of progression and then put my ass back to work. As long as you are keeping your knees out and stay off your toes you should be fine. Rip told me that if all I was experiencing was a little bit of pain, then I should enjoy it. Ice the shit out of it and stretch. This can sometimes take a long to time to completely recover from so don’t stop squatting.

    In both of your cases I would suspect some improvement can be made in you technique. Other than that, you can combat a few ways.


  13. @ High Voltage..”He needed a spotter, who seemed to be attempting to impregnate him from behind..” LMFAO, too funny man. I have witnessed similar which I call “The squat rack gang bang”.

  14. “I won’t be susceptible to this.” This is good to hear. You have strong character. Me, I fought through it and learned to love my bushy eyebrows, chest hair, and lack of tan.

    Ha, I won’t be shaving my chest. I may get tan by virtue of wrestling the sea every weekend.


  15. Justin, you are absolutely right. My tendinitis developed before I learned how to squat properly. Once I remedied my form I had immediate improvements.

  16. -Justin

    Yeah I might have some issues with form… it usually feels ok, but I am taking a few weeks to let things chill out a bit after my last lacrosse tournament. If all goes well, I will start back up with heavy squatting in August. In the mean time I am doing everything else that doesnt bother the knee and saving muhla for some much needed shoes and belt.

  17. This post makes me feel guilty since I use the term “bro” quite often. Perhaps I will replace it with “silly”, would that be an improvement?
    Oh yeah, and doing the novice progression even made my gunzzzz grow larger than ever before, there’s a bro-tastic selling point for the tanners & shavers.

    I use “bro” all the time. Earlier today I said, “Hey bro! careful near my taint!”. Just use it with moderation.


  18. This post made me wonder something…. Am I the only person who’s actually in a frat who looks at this website everyday? It wouldn’t surprise me seeing as how virtually all of my friends are chest and abzzz bros.

  19. The pictured tricept kickback has long been a pet peeve of mine, especially since most in the gym will not do it fully bent over, with their tricep at some angle less than parallel to the floor, meaning they aren’t even moving the weight against gravity, merely moving it roughly parallel to the floor. I see all sorts of dumbbell exercises where a weight is not actually moved away from the earth, the only way to have a weight be considered “a weight”.

  20. I work out at a place like that so I’m used to people looking (staring) at me when I do deadlifts.

    Rumor has it that once there was a guy here that actually did heavy squats. And at one time he dropped the barbell and the vibrations in the floor killed 3 “men” that were “doing legs”.

  21. crkilgo, sorry “bro,” but people spelling or pronouncing the word triceps as “tricept” is one of my pet peeves. Also, why would you care whether somebody “incorrectly” does a single limb, single joint exercise? There are assistance exercises, and ancillary exercises, and then there are things that people do that don’t make any sense, like the “tricept” kick-back.

    Easy Encyclopedia Brotannica. No need to go go all haywire up in here. There was a point in time that just about everyone in here did something like that. I know I did. So take a chill pill and relax Bro J. Simpson.


  22. Panama City Justin? I’m from Lynn Haven. I’m not there now due to military constraints, but I like it there. If you need to know something about PC, just let me know man.

  23. Max Faget couldn’t agree more!

    Human exercise-mediated skeletal muscle hypertrophy is an intrinsic process.

    West DW, Burd NA, Staples AW, Phillips SM.

    Muscle cells (fibres) are post-mitotic and thus undergo changes in phenotype by modifying their existing structure. Hypertrophy is a hallmark change that occurs in response to increased loading and can be achieved in humans through repeated bouts of resistance exercise (i.e., training). In resistance exercise, contractions are initiated by neural drive leading to immediate perturbations such as calcium influx, cross-bridge cycling and tension/stress on the cytoskeleton, sarcolemma and extracellular matrix, as well as more delayed cellular events such as the production/release of potential local growth factors (e.g., IGF-1). Resistance exercise can also elevate the systemic concentration of certain hormones (growth hormone, testosterone, IGF-1) that are hypothesized to drive hypertrophy. However, while these hormones are clearly anabolic during childhood and puberty, or when given at supraphysiological exogenous doses, the transient post-exercise elevations in hormone concentration are of little consequence to the either the acute protein synthetic response or to a hypertrophic phenotype after resistance training. Thus, the acute post-exercise increases in systemic hormones are in no way a proxy marker for anabolism since they do not underpin the capacity of the muscle to hypertrophy in any measurable way. In contrast, the acute activation of intrinsically located signalling proteins such as p70(S6K) and the acute elevation of muscle protein synthesis are more reflective of the potential to increase in muscle mass with resistance training. Ultimately, local mechanisms are activated by the stress imposed by muscle loading and prime the muscle for protein accretion. Membrane-derived molecules and tension-sensing pathways are two intrinsic mechanisms implicated in upregulating the synthesis and incorporation of muscle proteins into the myofibre in response to mechanical stress derived from loaded contractions.

  24. Bro, that was like an awesome article bro! I think you skipped over something important though; in addition to compound movements, there are also highly effective compound scents. Many male bros at the gym today are stuck in the mindset of “isolation scents” where they often only wear one type of cologne at a time. The key to producing an odor worthy of your hot, tanned abz, one must also embrace compound scenting techniques. I recommend starting out with your basic “super scent” routine, blending two antagonistic scents such as CK1 and Drakkar. You will know it’s working if it burns, women avoid you like the plague and all your friends are BMW driving Armenians.

  25. this is such a great post. i have tried so many different ways to “get in shape” or “tone” not understanding what I really needed to do was get stronger. I have been doing the starting strength program for a little over a month now, and I have never seen so much muscle growth so quickly. I have been getting a lot of funny looks and questions because I am a 21 year old female and other women can’t even fathom why I would want to lift and have guys tell me I should do “girl exercises” (I don’t even know what that means). So, thank you for this post because I will direct them to this next time that happens.

  26. Long time reader, first time commenting. Love the site.

    Justin, I live in PC (born and raised) and was wondering if you knew of any good gyms to train at here. I haven’t found any with bumperplates/power-racks/etc. I dont expect you to since you just moved here, but thought I’d ask.

  27. “Ha, I won’t be shaving my chest. I may get tan by virtue of wrestling the sea every weekend.


    You don’t have a choice.
    The oil content of the sea water will cause hair to fall out.

    On the plus side, it will give you a nice contest winning sheen that will bring out the separation in your ‘Most Muscular’ pose.

  28. Went into a “gym” the other day looking for an outpost to train clients. The owner told me there was no need to have barbells or plates, but offered to show me some “body part work” to get me on the path to Bikini Figure competitions… Thanks, but I’d rather squat.

  29. I think I’m the only one at my gym that does squats and deadlifts. I feel like it’s partly my fault and partly the “chest and abz” mentality.

    Guys look at me and think that squats and deads will give them huge man-boobs too. I mean,…brobes?…broo, broobies…bro-boobs…damn, I suck at this game…

  30. crkilgo: I’m sorry for bro-hatin on you there with the comment about the spelling and what not.

    A.C.: Thanks for callin me out on that brosef. I was way outta line.

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