Reader E-mail

I got an e-mail from Aaron and the subject was, “I owe you an apology”. ‘Well, it’s about time,” I thought, not knowing what he was talking about.

I’ve read all of your posts about wearing a belt while training, and each time I’ve kinda rolled my eyes like a douche-nozzle and told myself that I don’t have any need for a belt.

However, this past Friday (deadlift Friday, a holy day of obligation for my friends and I) my friend asked if I wanted to try out a belt, for shits and giggles. I agreed because I saw no harm in using one. Sure enough, I take my 90’s small previous 1RM of 275 and pull it for an easy 5 reps. Despite being exhausted from my previous work sets, I knew that a jump to 300 was an absolute must. I strained for several seconds as my head filled with blood, but I got that son of a bitch off the floor and all the way up.

Despite the fact that the belt was way too big and I had no prior experience with a belt, I got a 25 lb PR. As much as I hate to admit wrongdoing, you are absolutely correct about weight belts and anyone who doesn’t use one is wrong.

It’s also worth mentioning that since I started reading your site I’ve gained 20 lbs, increased my PR’s on every lift, AND taken 1:30 off my Marine Corps PFT run time. Increased size and strength does not always mean a slower runner.


These are Aaron’s PFT improvements.
Crunches — 26 to 67
Pull-ups — 8 to 13
3 mile run — 22:30 to 21:00

Aaron also told me that his PFT score doesn’t do justice to his overall physical improvement, saying, “I also play club hockey for my University and my speed, endurance, and strength along the boards have all gone through the roof.” Nice job, Aaron.

How has strength benefited you lately?

Random video: The mother of all training montages.

25 thoughts on “Reader E-mail

  1. Having a kid has really made me appreciate my strength. On a day to day basis, being able to easily carry him around when he gets tired is so useful. Being able to keep up with him and horse around with him is great. He loves being thrown in the air, for example, and I always fool around on the play equipment when we go to the park. It makes the whole outing much more enjoyable for him and me.

    His birthday was on Wednesday. One of the mothers wanted a hand carrying her kid and pushchair down our stairs, so I just picked up the whole thing (like I always do with our kid) and carried it down. It wasn’t heavy (maybe 20-30kg for kid + pushchair) and much easier than doing it with two people.

    I used to think I was vain working out so much. Now I’m older and wiser, I know I am vain, but also that working out other useful benefits beyond looking good nekkid.

  2. Strength training has helped me recover from my broken arm. It’s only been 8 weeks and I’m almost feeling normal again. I pulled 300 for 5 yesterday in my second deadlift session. I was pleased that my arm didn’t snap.

  3. I work landscaping and some construction. The single biggest thing I’ve noticed since starting lifting for real 5 months ago is that 30 foot ladders I’m carrying around overhead feel a whole heck of a lot lighter. Also, I can lift tree trunk segments easily another six inches in diameter into the truck when we’re hauling.

    The funny part is I keep getting people telling me “don’t lift so much, you’ll hurt yourself” which just makes me laugh, when I know that the stuff I’m picking up is only like 200 pounds, and my deadlift just broke 450. I get weird looks when I attempt to explain that though.

  4. Also, I totally have to agree with Aaron. I read the posts about belts way back when you first published them, shrugged, and went along with my business. It wasn’t until I failed a bad squat, and a lifting buddy who is an ex college lineman told me to start using a belt (along with my girlfriend), that I finally listened. I started using the crappy belts they had at the gym, PR’d immediately.

    Then my girlfriend (I’m really lucky to have her), bought me an EliteFTS belt as a gift, and I’ve smashed all of my old PRs in just three weeks with it. Every Intensity day just gets better as I’m getting used to using it. Belts rock hardcore!

  5. Two months ago I moved into a new apartment. My previous apartment was on the 4th floor of a building that did not have an elevator. Instead of dreading moving day, I looked forward to it as a day to utilize my newfound strength.

    A few highlights: inspired by epic fridge man, posted on this site, I carried my dresser drawers down the stairs by myself. It weighed about 150 pounds. It was an old piece of furniture and a couple of the drawers were so broken that they were no longer useful. Instead of loading it on to the moving truck, I took it out back, lifted it up over head, and–channeling my old high school shotput days–took a lunge step and hurled it into a brick wall next to the dumpster. It shattered into a million pieces like a stack of jinga blocks. Lots of other small accomplishments too, like being the only guy out of the three roommates to move his mattress solo, etc.

    Last week, a woman in my office needed to move her lamp, but the cord was caught under a leg of her desk. It’s a large executive desk. She asked me to get a couple other guys, since she and four other women tried to lift the desk without budging it an inch. I sized up the desk, arched my back and got the middle of my foot right under the balance point of the desk, and before she realized it, I’d deadlifted that hunk of oak off the floor a good two feet, then kicked the cord out. It only weighed about 200 pounds. It was not my intention to let everyone at the company know that I’m the strongest person here, but now everyone knows and asks about what I do to train. Maybe they’ll stop giving me health tips, like telling me milk is going to make me fat, too.

  6. The biggest benefit from strength I found was people tossing. I believe you said it before, but there is nothing a women loves more than to be tossed of the shoulder and lugged around caveman style.

  7. How my strength has benefited me lately: I’m 5’6″, 200lbs, and squat somewhere in the low 400s (last PR was 405 with room in the tank.) I also suck at pretty much all sports. However, I’m learning to play rugby, and despite my lack of athleticism, I can push back the opposite pack (I play prop) even when the prop opposing me weighs in the mid-to-high 300s.

  8. My training partner and roommate is a scientist at Princeton and a hypochondriac. I have trouble trying to convince him of things because he is so much smarter then I and my words end up coming out backwards and upside down. In the gym I am the stronger of the two. I wear a belt, he does not. He has minor back issues (don’t we all) and claims “man, I am not going to wear a belt because if you hurt yourself wearing a belt its worse then if you hurt yourself without one.” What do I say to this? My mind just fills with *WHAT AN IDIOT* and I say nothing. Someone please help, he knows all that I know about belts but still refuses to wear one because he is worried (whats new?). I don’t know how to convince him other then saying “if you want to get strong, you need a belt, bottom line.” That doesn’t work.

    I’ve written like five posts on belts, so I don’t know if you can get him to read them or if you can discern the answer from them. The fact that he has a back issue should be a reason to wear the belt so that he can protect himself better. If he’s open minded, as he should be as a scientist, and you need help, let me know.


  9. Getting stronger has helped me look better, more confidence in myself, rather than at 6’2” and 150 lbs..

    To Mr. McGonague:
    I need that title of that song in your first trip to texas video. I am willing to offer a churro for it.

  10. Strangely, I’m partial to the Rocky II training montage because it has Mickey in it.

    Sorry for the subtitles. “Gana!”

    Carl Weathers being awesome is why the Rocky II montage is good.


  11. I played tennis with my cousins over the summer after not having done it in several years. I’m not a super strong guy (yet), my c+j pr at the time was 97kg and I weight 92kg. Still, I was fast as fuck and able to get to the ball very very quickly and played one of the best games in my life despite not having done it in 4+ years.

  12. I dropped 100lbs across my knee during a missed snatch warmup 2 weeks ago and it still hurts, which basically means no squatting. Some days it feels ok and I can go somewhat heavy with squats, but other days squatting BW is super painful.

    Would resting be more helpful than trying to work around it? The bar hit right above the kneecap across the VMO muscle, and as an oly guy, I tend to go pretty deep, so coming out of the hole kills.

    The vastus medialis is medial to the patella, so did you hit superior to the patella or more medial on the thick of the vastus medialis?

    If it’s been two weeks, I’d just do very light squatting and experiment with a repetition style rehab with light weights a la the Bill Starr rehab method.


  13. A sadly under-rated montage is the one from Highlander, where Connery trains Christopher Lambert; unfortunately I can only find it in French, but the music is still awesome.


  14. Rocky III is easily the best Rocky. I’ll take Thunderlips, Clubber Lang, Apollo becoming Rocky’s trainer, and Mickey’s passing over the blatant Cold War exploitation any day.

  15. The weight belt doesn’t do much for me on the deadlift, I only get maybe 1 more rep at a given weight than I would without one. What gives?

    I don’t know, there could be 30 things that could effect this. Everyone is an individual and we can’t generalize stuff like this for you.


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