Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Looking Stong vs Being Strong

Below is an excerpt from The Art of Manliness on weight lifting. It discusses getting ripped vs getting strong. I think some of the points are certainly relevant to martial arts practice and should give us some food for thought. The full post may be read here.

When most dudes have the come-to-Jesus moment that they need to start exercising and eating right, their primary motivation is usually to look good, and looking good usually means being lean and “ripped.” They want the hot beach bod with abs you can grate cheese on.

But they also want to be big and strong. Really strong. “Strong AF,” as they say on Instagram these days.

After scouring the interwebs for plans that will simultaneously get them ripped and swole at the same time, these would-be Adonises get to training.

They’re at the gym six days a week, beast-moding a different body part each day. They take the obligatory locker room selfie of their after-workout pump and post it to Instagram (#transformation #beastmode). They drink their protein shake within the magical one-hour window after working out so their muscles absorb as much of it as possible. (Some really jacked guy on Instagram mentioned doing that in his sponsored post for Optimum Nutrition. The guy is jacked so he obviously knows what he’s talking about.)

For a few weeks, these gents see some progress. They’re getting a bit leaner and they’re starting to see some muscle definition. They can even bench a bit more than they could before they started.

But they want to get even leaner. Sub-10% body fat or bust, baby.

So they cut calories, eliminate carbs, and throw in some HIIT training at the end of each workout.

And leaner they do get.

Muscle definition is at its peak. Six-pack abs have been achieved.

But they’re not getting strong AF. In fact, they’re getting weak AF.

That 225-lb bench press that was within reach a few weeks ago now is miles away. Weight that was once easy to lift, now feels like a metric ton.

Bro, what happened?

Maybe it’s the program. Maybe you need to add in some accessory work. Hit those triceps hard to help with those last few inches before the bench lockout.

Adjustments are made and training commences again.


Your lean, tanned bod looks like that of a golden professional soccer player, but your lifts look like something your girlfriend could crank out.

You Can’t Have It All (At the Same Time)

I’m going to lay some hard truth on you here: Despite what the internet or that dude-bro at the gym might say, you cannot get both super lean and super strong at the same time. They are goals that are diametrically opposed to each other.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying you can’t be shredded and strong. There are lots of men out there who have 10% body fat and can deadlift and squat a ton.

You just can’t work on getting ripped and strong at the same time.

Why You Can’t Get Lean While Getting Big and Strong

Increasing muscle density and size is what makes you big and strong. So to get big and strong, you need to pack on more muscle.

But here’s the rub. Muscle is calorically expensive. It requires a lot of energy to create. To create that new muscle, you need to consume more calories than you’re expending. How much more? More than you probably think.

The biggest mistake most men make when they set down the path of gainz is that they eat the same amount of food they were eating before they were training. Intense weight training puts a lot of stress on the body. To fully recover, you need to provide your body the fuel to do so. That means you need a sufficient amount of calories that come from protein, carbs, and fat.

If you train and provide your body with enough calories, muscle mass and strength will increase.

But you’re also going to put on some body fat.

I’m sorry to say so, but sadly it’s true.

There’s no escaping that fact. Some of those excess calories you’re consuming for the production of muscle will be stored as fat. That’s just how your body operates.

Why You Can’t Get Big and Strong While Getting Lean

To get ripped, lean, shredded, etc. you need to shed body fat.

Shedding body fat requires you to consume fewer calories than you’re expending so that your body uses your fat stores for energy.

But here’s the rub: just as you can’t put on muscle mass without putting on some body fat, you can’t reduce body fat without reducing some muscle mass.

When you’re in a caloric deficit, your body not only uses fat for energy, it also breaks down muscle tissue for the nutrients it needs to keep your physiological systems running. As muscle tissue cannibalizes, muscle mass and strength go down.

This is why you can’t get big and strong while you’re trying to get lean. Getting big and strong requires excess calories, while getting lean requires a caloric deficit.

You’ve got to pick a goal at the exclusion of the other.

No comments: