Ranger Up Fitness: Getting Started
February 6, 2007
Things I wish I knew…
Ok, so when I started out trying to think of initial column ideas, I loved the idea that I’d finally have carte blanche to write about whatever the hell I wanted to write about, not have to answer to anybody, and not have to worry about offending anybody.
So of course the first thing I did was turn around and ask Nick what they thought I should put up as my first column, and what kind of tone I should take.
After they finished making fun of me, I cursed the American school system for destroying my capacity for independent thought.
Anyway, I ditched the idea of writing about one particular subject to start out. Yeah, in the future I’ll write about specific workouts, how to train for particular goals, and try to field as many questions from you, the readers, as possible, but for now I want to keep this simple.
What I want to start off with is a short list that boils down my philosophy a bit. For all the biochemistry, biomechanics, kinesiology, and conventional medical training I’ve had, the best class I’ve ever had has been the sum of all my failures and mistakes. If I had to go back and give myself advice when I first started, there are a few things I wish I’d known. Without further ado, that list:
Things I wish I knew when I started:
1) It doesn’t much matter what you do, just do it.
There are dozens of magazines out there that want to tell you what to do and how to do it. There are trainers, there are websites, there are supplement companies; everybody wants your attention…because they want your money! They want to sell you a magazine, or a routine, or a service, or the latest gakic-leukic-isopromegamusclederoxandro compound. Fuck them. You don’t need them. It doesn’t matter if you follow a carefully constructed periodized program created by a $250 an hour trainer and supplement with the latest 50 jugs of crap you bought at the GNC and work with inflatable swiss balls and resistance bands and six different kinds of knee wraps with magnets… just go lift whatever you feel like, but go hard and heavy, eat steak, and run a few times a week. If you give it 100%, you’ll end up progressing either way. What really matters is that you stick to it. If you’ve got a busy life, but you got a goal in mind, make sure your training works with that life. Yeah, you’ll need to make sacrifices regardless, but don’t set yourself up to fail. Too many people start out doing things right, but overextend themselves, and then they quit. Don’t quit. I hate people who quit more than anyone else. Except for emo kids. I really hate emo kids.
2) Train for what your goals are.
People always ask what kind of routine they should do: 5×5’s, circuit training, upper/lower/push/pull days, the latest routine they read in muscle and fitness…whatever. It’s all irrelevant. There are four things you need to do in the gym to get stronger: Squats, Deadlifts, Pull-ups, and Dips. If the last two are too easy, strap on some weight. You do these four things in whatever order you want, do them right, and do them consistently without injuring yourself, and I you will get bigger and stronger. Forget the Swiss ball. (Yes, I mentioned it already. I still think they’re stupid. They don’t work your core any better than doing hanging leg raises. All they do is make whatever you’re doing more difficult because you’re off balance. Hey – how about I hit you in the face while you’re on the leg press? That’ll make it a better lift – I promise.) The only thing you should use a Swiss ball for is a sex aid. Seriously…It makes for some freaky ass shit. Try it. Forget circuit training. Circuit training is neither good aerobic nor good anaerobic conditioning. If you want to do circuit training for a living, then go for it, Champ. If you want to improve at ANYTHING ELSE, then put the fucking cables down and go do something worthwhile. Stick to the basics, and do them well.
3) If something hurts, stop doing it.
I know for many of you, there will be a time in your life when your survival could very well depend on you pushing through pain. There are times when ignoring discomfort isn’t just needed, it’s expected – when pain truly IS weakness leaving the body. But that is not what working out is about. Save that no pain no gain mentality for when you need it. There is no dumber place to hurt yourself than in the gym. As a soldier, an athlete, a professional fighter, whatever you may be, you know that you want to be 100% when you need to give 110%. If you’re hurt, you can’t compete. Don’t train through injuries, train around them. Treat the injuries then come back with a vengeance. I’ve trained through torn muscles, ruptured tendons, knee problems, back problems – you name it. And all this determination has given me is a shitload of old problems I need to work around every day. If your knee is hurt, stay off the squats and stop running. Get in the pool and swim a mile rather than running a mile. Work your upper body twice as hard until you heal. Don’t be stupid.
4) All your heroes are on steroids.
Yeah. Ugly truth. But the sooner you admit that baseball players have been using athletic enhancements since before Willie Mays took amphetamines, and that even the kickers on an NFL team are using a little bit of test here and there, the sooner you can be realistic about your goals. This is not the statement of a hater; this is the truth. I know. I’ve designed cycles for these guys. I know how easy it is to beat these drug tests. And it really is easy. This is why you can’t look like these guys or train like these guys. There are simply no genetics on earth that will let a 300-pound guy run a sub five-second 40 while bench pressing over 550 pounds. I respect that these men are in no position to be upfront about their usage as their reputations, and the careers of every person around them would be in jeopardy at any hint of anything other than denial. But don’t be one of those naïve assholes who thinks Barry Bonds is anything other than a scapegoat for an entire league that uses drugs. Why do I think this is important? Because it all goes down to knowing your limits, to knowing what you physically cannot do. And the sooner you know what’s impossible, the sooner you can try to do it anyway.
5) Being in better shape won’t get you laid.
But it really fucking helps.
And that’s it. Sometime around next week (actually, pretty much whenever the hell I feel like it) I’ll have the next installation up. Topics will include the basics of setting up a strength training routine, and a section on how to prep to ace the PT test. Because you want to do more than just limp past the minimum, right? Also, if anyone has any questions they’d like answered, send them in at [email protected] If I end up posting them, you win a prize. And that prize is:
You get your fucking question answered.
Just like all the questions that don’t get posted.
What other fucking reward do you want?