One of my fiancée's many awesome character traits is her ability to condense a seemingly-long explanation into a few words. She frequently steers clear of prolixity, and this is one of the things I love most about her. What does this have to do with physical preparation, you ask? Well, quite simply, I once heard Kelsey give an answer to an inquiry that was a huge "Ah-ha" moment for me, and has saved my life during subsequent weddings, holiday parties, and the like.
You see, whenever I attend any sort of gathering, the good ol' question of "So, what do you do?" is naturally directed my way. Upon informing them of what I do for a living, the onslaught of fitness-related questions inevitably ensues:
"How do I get rid of this?" (as they grab a particular body part they feel is fatty)"Oh, cool. Hey you know what, my ankle has been bothering me, what should I do?""I’ve been trying to dunk a basketball for the first time, can you write me a program to improve my vertical?""I need to put on 15lbs of muscle in the next two weeks, please tell me what program to follow."
Now, I can't entirely blame them for asking these questions, as I realize they don't deal with this particular sphere on a daily basis. And, it's not like I've never asked a doctor or accountant for free advice. However, I usually find that, more times than not, the person isn't ACTUALLY ready for the answer. Typically, they're looking more for what they want to hear as opposed to what they need to hear.
About a year ago, Kelsey and I were taking a course on financial management together. During one of the breaks, we ended up in conversation with a friendly fellow. Soon enough, the question pops up:
"So, I've been trying to get back into a gym routine. What should I do in order to add some muscle, drop some body fat, and feel better?"
Kelsey, in true form, replies with: "Pick up heavy things."
BRILLIANT!!! When asked to explain further, she simply repeated herself. "Pick up heavy things." That was all she said.
I don't feel this was rude, either.It actually, quite succinctly, informed the guy of exactly what he needed to do, without delving into fancy exercises, set-rep schemes, periodization, intermittent fasting, or any other similar topic that will quickly lose an audience. It also saved us the danger of entering a long conversation in which training philosophies are debated, "He said/She said" arguments are tossed back and forth, etc.
And you know what the cool thing was? The following week, the same man approaches us and looked at Kelsey: "So, you know what? This past week, I went into the gym, and, I did what you said. I picked up some heavy stuff. It was cool."
Pick up heavy things. That's really all this boils down to.
Want to run faster? Pick up heavy things. Jump higher? Squat heavy things. Obtain broad shoulders? Press heavy things over your head. Look better with your clothes off? Pick up heavy things.
This is refreshing advice to hear. In a world where women are told they'll turn into a She-Man if they move anything more than a pink dumbbell, and baseball players are told they need to go on endurance runs for off-season conditioning (*insert hand grenade in mouth here*), it's few and far between that heavy things are picked up off the ground.
Now, of course, "heavy" is relative. What is moderate for Coach Chris (see video below) would be crushing for Olivia (see picture below video).
As such, Chris clearly needs something heavier than 135lbs to elicit continued strength gains, whereas Olivia - a new trainee - will garner plenty of benefit from squatting her bodyweight in the initial stages. Each person must be individually assessed to see what is "heavy" for them.
15-rep barbell snatches is not strength training. Nor is performing ten reps on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
Would it be best for a coach to lead and guide you throughout the process to ensure form is in check and you are progressing appropriately? Absolutely. But for now, should I run into you at an upcoming Fall wedding or holiday party, I'm sticking to this advice. It's all we really need to know.
Start picking up heavy things.