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I’m posting these videos of me during a weightlifting meet from 2 years ago to show a couple of points.
First, a 3-day fast allowed my body weight to drop aggressively, in order to qualify for a weight class of 69 kg (151 lbs). In 72 hours my body weight dropped from 160 lbs to 149 lbs (over a 10-pound loss!), and all without losing explosive strength.
In this Olympic-style weightlifting meet, I lifted my personal records in both the snatch, and the clean and jerk. I also won my weight class against guys in their 20s. I was 40 years old here.
Snatch lift — body weight 149.6 lbs.; barbell weight 202.2 lbs. :
Clean and Jerk — body weight 149.6 lbs.; barbell weight 246.4 lbs. :
So, a 72-hour fast doesn’t seem to diminish explosive strength. I drank a lot of water, though, but ate absolutely no food until after the morning weigh-in; but, even after the weigh-in I didn’t eat that much… an apple and a handful of nuts.
Second, although I was decently strong, from training this style (lots of heavy squats, deadlifts, presses, and the various explosive lifts) most of the muscle mass I gained was in my torso, hips, and thighs. (And I suffered lots of tendonitis, but who said competitive sports are healthy?).
I had little muscular development in my shoulders, arms, upper back, and calves, and my wife said I look like a cartoon when I wore swimming trunks.
It wasn’t exactly the look I cared for, and I felt shitty on most days. I lived with a pack of ice.
So doing the “big lifts” isn’t going to always get you balanced aesthetics. You’ll gain muscles, all right, but just mostly in the torso, hips, and thighs. This is a result of a functionally strong body, no doubt; however a more balanced distribution of muscle for an attractive physique does not necessarily result in a less functional body.
So although I still do the “big lifts” once in a while, I spend more time doing targeted muscle work: lateral raises for the delts, biceps-curls and triceps-extensions for the arms, dumbbell rows for the upper back, etc. After a year of changing my exercise priorities, the proportion of my body improved. It looks the way I want, and my wife Lori likes it, too!
And, I’m still very functional as a person. I get through my day just fine — except my physique looks more proportioned, and I feel way healthier.
I believe that personal trainers are too obsessed with the bastardized method of functional training — in the early days with silly circus-balance training better reserved for seals and clowns, and now with “sport-specific” training better reserved for NFL linebackers and Eastern-Block Olympians. In general, I prefer to help people become adequately strong, agile, healthy, and good-looking. They’re real people, with normal lives.
Keeping my exercise philosophy simple and realistic makes my service far more valuable to clients than making myself seem like a pedantic exercise wizard.