Yes. The title is correct.
The scholars told you that lifting weights is one of the greatest gifts to the male population. We should be forever thankful to the muscle cartel for providing us with the opportunity to lift iron and put it back to its original position, right?
Honestly, I am tired of con artists exaggerating the power of the gym.
There are many valid reasons to leave the barbell house. I will present the most essential ones in this article.
This may become one of the most hated posts on the site, but that’s a good thing. The hate will only prove the high content of truth.
1.The staggering lack of progress
The fun ends quickly when you are a natural bodybuilder. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care about your routines and nutrition. You will eventually reach the point when nothing ever changes regardless of your effort. This is the moment of nothingness.
Here’s how things work. Your role during lifting is that of a human crane. Consequently, your mechanics (bones&insertions) decide what lifts you are going to excel at.
The thickness and weight of your machine have a tremendous importance. The heavier you are, the more you lift thanks to the added stability, muscle mass and the reduced range of motion. You can’t be as strong as possible at your lightest bodyweight. There’s a reason for the existence of weight classes – bigger/heavier men lift larger barbells.
At every bodyweight, your human crane has a limited range of capacity. Regardless of what you do, the limits remain. Just like every alloy has a breaking point so does your body. The job of training routines is to get you as high as possible within the final spectrum. Once you arrive there, it’s time for epic stagnation.
Nothing will work. You will jump from one routine to another only to stall at similar weights give or take 10%. You could progress further by gaining weight, but the gains that will follow will be the result of your heavier machinery rather than supreme programming. This wouldn’t be too bad if the extra weight was muscle, but it won’t be. It will be fat for the most part, and that’s the reason for the string orchestra in your head. Fat does not cut it. It’s not why we are doing this.
The limitations that block your strength ascension manifest in the physique department. You will look the same year after year once the newbie gains have joined your frame. You may get leaner or fatter on occasion depending on what’s going on in your life, but that will be a function of dieting rather than a lifting based upgrade.
This is very demotivating and renders the pursuit of gym excellence highly irrational. Strength, muscle gains and leanness are the motor. If you are not getting them, why are you there? Those type of questions will haunt you. It’s normal. It means you are not crazy. Continuing without further investigation is the equivalent of doing something for profit without getting the profit.
Of course, the bros will say that you need to be spiritual and treat every rep of every set as some highly sophisticated philosophical process that will eventually get you above the rest. I get it. I have also done my fair share of similar rationalizations. However, the voice in your head asking you “why” is not your enemy. You don’t have to feel guilty for expecting a pay for your hard work. The men mocking you will retroactively realize that they were brainwashed to believe a lie.
Do you know why steroids are addicting? It’s not the substance itself. They are not heroine although they can affect your mood and give you more energy. The most addictive feature is the admiration and validation they produce. It’s all about the external love. Health and personal growth are not on the list. That’s fodder for the masses.
Do you remember the primary reasons to lift?
A. Impress/Intimidate other men.
B. Impress women
Steroid users have the muscle mass needed to make this a reality. That’s why they keep doing it. That’s why they keep presenting the gym as the purest temple. If they were not getting their dose of admiration and support, they would quickly change their official report.
An enlightened steroid user knows that it’s all about the drugs. The smart ones are aware that without the chemicals they would look no different than someone doing beach jogging and push-ups while walking the dog.
2. Reliving the same day forever.
Lifting is one of the sports with the lowest injury rates. Why? Because you are doing the same thing forever. Nothing ever changes. You go to the same dungeon, touch the same barbell, see the same type of people, listen to the same stories, go through the same motions. Eventually, the repetition and the lack of meaningful results unite and form a burden.
In an old video dedicated to Bulgarian weightlifters, one of them says that he hates being locked in the same room. He makes a comparison between cycling and lifting – cyclists may spend an entire day on the saddle, but at least they get to see the sunset whereas their weightlifting brothers are locked in a basement and do the exact same movements indefinitely.
3. Barbell strength is overrated
The modern obsession with barbell strength is legit stupid. People spend their lives chasing irrelevant numbers that mean absolutely nothing in the end and are absolutely unnecessary. What is the point of deadlifting 3 times your bodyweight? It has no point other than to record a video and impress the brahs and the sluts. That’s the damn truth. I can assure you that your spine and bones will confirm that sooner or later. One of my biggest mistakes in life is chasing numbers at the expense of form and sanity. The risk of injury and the drained adrenal glands ain’t worth it.
Guys like Rippetoe and communities like StrongFirst will tell you that strength is one of the most important qualities in life, but that would be pure nonsense. Barbell strength is exceptionally overrated for sports and life in general.
My father has never lifted a barbell in his life and yet has plenty of strength for everything he’s ever tried to do. We have transported furniture, taken down concrete walls, built fences and done a lot of construction work. Not once he has been at a disadvantage to me.
The same applies to sports. Strength is precious for two main events – weightlifting and powerlifting. For everything else, it’s not the deciding factor.
Why should I be slaving away in some dungeon? Chasing meaningless numbers? To satisfy the bros? To cover some imaginary requirements? Nobody will ever be impressed or satisfied. Whatever you do is never enough. Then again you can say – you should do it for yourself.
I get it, bro. But let me paint a picture for you.
Many mainstream articles judging the effectiveness of an exercise say this: “If I was alone on a deserted island, I would bring exercise X with me…”
Guess, what, clown? If you were on a deserted island, you wouldn’t do a single exercise. You wouldn’t train at all. That’s a fact. If you were a castaway, you wouldn’t be doing 1RM deadlifts and searching for the latest Sheiko routine to boost your numbers. You wouldn’t care because there would be nobody to impress.
Once you have built a decent foundation, which is far lower than the e-stats posted online, you are good enough. Everything else is just a show for the camera.
I personally do not care about satisfying any numbers. I lift what I lift and that’s it. If other people have a problem with that, it’s none of my business.
4. You are not going to build real muscle naturally.
Check the URL, bro. It’s nattyornot.com. The little voice telling you that you can be the natural champion of the year can shut up now. It’s not happening. This is the rock. All the muscle heroes that you worship are doping. Bodybuilding is about drugs and drugs alone.
While you are at it, you can let the fairy tales about squats&deads fall into the abyss too. Yes, brother. They all lied to you. The 5×5 squad and the prophets leading the movement are no different than the dudes from the local supplement store telling you that consuming eggs and milk in powder form at the right intervals is the key to mass.
The squats&deads mafia tricked you by using reverse engineering and manipulation based on perceived effort – you think that something is effective just because it hurts.
It’s all nonsense. Here’s how the world really works.
You will start doing your squats and deads. Things will go well. It will hurt, but you will love the pain because you will be focused on the prize – the muscle mass produced by the mythical barbell movements that Arnold and his mentors did. Just the sole fact of having a heavy barbell on your shoulders raises your testosterone, right?
To supplement your upgrade, you will begin a bulking campaign too. You will start to get slightly fat, but that will not bother you because your captain Rippetoe and the sycophants on various forums will tell you to “eat like a man”.
The scale will report an increase, but you will not be satisfied nor will the people around you reflect your muscular improvements. Why? Most of the extra weight will be fat.
The muscle mass that the 5×5 mafia promised you is a myth.
5. Exercising is artificial
I used to get mad when activities outside of the gym hurt my recovery. Consequently, I would avoid them if possible or schedule everything in a way to minimize the damage.
My point of view has changed. The gym is the one that should take a step back. It is supposed to be a supplement rather than the main eater of your physical juice.
Exercising is an artificial form of physical activity designed to fix the fact that most people live extremely unnatural lives deprived of meaning and adventure. This is why we look at boring stuff like squats and deadlifts to add color to our plain existences.
The barbell house is a sterile environment that cannot satisfy your hunger for adventure.
One of the greatest quotes that I’ve heard in the gym was “I wish I was going somewhere.” said by a guy getting off a treadmill machine. I don’t think he even realized the depth of his exclamation.
The gym is an extension of the modern world where people do masturbatory activities designed to satisfy natural urges in a way that doesn’t threaten the consumer world and the overall order of events.
We spend our days in sedentary positions and then run on a treadmill that goes nowhere in order to fake activity.
What to do instead?
Manly stuff. Touring on your bicycle, construction work, woodwork, welding, hunting, fishing, training outside, working with your hands…etc. Exercising for the sake of exercising is plain and boring, especially when you are a natural lifter who doesn’t enjoy external admiration. Therefore, it’s only logical to seek adrenaline elsewhere.
Every exercise, including squats&deads, trains specific motions. But those motions are just building blocks. Without a context they are sterile. The gym cannot provide that context fully.
People like to compare training and working out. Training is supposed to be of better quality because it has a higher purpose. Hence the powerlifters lifting for a contest make fun of the bros who do it without direction. Competition provides a deeper drive – it creates an environment where your exercises acquire a higher status – they are no longer exercises, they are lifts.
The same upward transposition can be applied to competition too. While competition is bigger than gym lifting, it is still pretty soulless compared to activities with a higher impact on your immediate existence. For example, saving someone from a burning building is an act that makes sports adventures look like plays. The environment created by the fire is not orchestrated comfortably. It’s natural.
If you are wondering whether you should skip a trip because your squat can suffer, don’t. Let your squat burn in hell.
At the end of the day, exercises are training wheels. Even if you become the best at using them, there’s still a higher step to be taken.
Agree for the most part – don’t make exercise a meme or metaphor for life, and don’t romanticize necessary regular exercise (or daily physical activity of some sort) any more than you would glamorize brushing your teeth. It’s just something you should do, not something you brag about incessantly.
One long term benefit though about drinking from this gym rat fountain, however: Maybe you started with false dreams and expectations, but provided you don’t restructure your mind and life around resistance training (or any exercise) and remained natural, you will have a much better and healthier body later in life than if you just approached it to “just get in shape” like most people do. At almost 50, in hindsight, I can’t believe I look the way I do now, even though my present body would be far from a finished product if I were to view it through the scope of my 20’s.
Compare that with some of the juice guys I grew up with who now look and feel like crap since they either burned out, left the gym and quit altogether once the needles and pills were taken out of the equation…especially the young guys who never trained naturally to begin with and never built a solid base of body and knowledge.
But yeah, well said Truthseeker, engage most in “manly” activities and let the gym serve as the supplement to that existence. That’s wisdom only gained from the perspective of age.
I’m 39 a natural & been training since I was 14. Although physically you don’t change year in year out my number one reason for training is pure mental therapy! Nothing helps me relax more than lifting heavy ass weights. Maybe that sounds strange & just me but I swear it works for me.
I do the same. I lift from when I was 16 and I’m over 50 now. I train to keep for mental therapy. If I stop training I drown.
And training is fun too. And in the gym you meet nice people 🙂
Its mostly dopamine hit and some time alone to collect your thoughts. And thats okay. That 7 km run I do every day, and 45-60 minutes of workout 6 times a week is like meditation to me.It helps me cope with depressive shit and anxiety too.
I’m 23, 5’10 84kg and have been lifting for 7 years (started off at 58kg), last three years been taking my nutrition seriously and it’s safe to say I’ve hit a wall, still manage to get to the gym 3/4 times a week but no visible gains have been made in about 18 months. Gone through the catch 22 of looking big in pictures small in person after a cut and the opposite at the height of a bulk. I can squat 170kg deadlift 220kg and Bench 130kg but like truthseeker says if i’m being honest I lift more for external admiration than for arbitrary numbers. Plan is to hop on TRT once I hit late 30s and have a few kids (another good recommendation) but struggling to find reasons to continue to the iron journey until then. The gym has done wonders for my self esteem and the gains have helped with girls significantly (10% success rate to 20% lol), I’m at the point where my desire and motivation to lift is so low, youtubers are no longer inspiring and forums are filled with more trolls than people offering genuine advice.
I am going to keep lifting. I don’t know why, there are no more gains to be had, no more absolute strength to be earned (going to cut to 80kg and just maintain, maybe relative strength will go up), no new external motivation to look for.
TruthSeeker I have read every single one of your articles and I am a better person for it: sound training principles (recently bought a neck harness), your views of the world are a breath of fresh air and I like your writing style. But this article, though the reasons are sound, I am going to ignore. I intend to keep climbing those metaphorical stairs, for those of you who wish to join me, I recommend the article below when you start to doubt yourself:
Well said truthseeker!
I think it was you that said in some previous post that “context is everything”.
So if you don’t have a foundation of basic strength, then in that context, by all means hit the gym hard and obsess over details, get to know your body, and enjoy the short ride.
AFTER you have a basic foundation of strength, then in that context, then go and enjoy yourself in real life and cut back your gym efforts to ‘maintenance’.
I think the attitude here comes, in part, from the utter and total failure natural lifting is compared to enhanced lifting. This site is absolutely correct on this point – they are two different realities. However, back to the natural world — I’ve been lifting natural for almost 40 years now and will hit 51 years old in December 2018. I can still live like I’m in my 20-30s, when it comes to backpacking in the mountains. I hiked to Mt. Everest base camp this year. Perhaps being fit at 30-something feels meaningless. But when I look around at my peers on statins, blood pressure meds, obese, etc., being like a fit 30-something at 50 is priceless. Don’t give up – it’s a lifestyle, not your life.
And keep at it — I’m age 62, began bodybuilding at age sixteen in 1972, and still enjoy the same health-n’-fitness benefits you list compared to my peers. Some of mine is due to genetics (my parents enjoyed great health into their early-80s), but the what you aptly termed “lifestyle not life” enables optimization of whatever genetic package any of us is dealt.
Reading this while lifting feels painful lo’
Great article….wish I had read something similar in1976 instead of buying my first copy of Weiders Muscle Builder mag. I’d be a lot wiser and saner regarding my training and goals
According to me , the essence of this article is that , f*** progressive overload( gradually increasing plates on the mythical barbell)
Which i completely agree ,its been nearly 4 years and I didn’t bother to increase the weight on all the exercises ( be it compound or isolation)
Because after the newbie gains are gone there is no point of chasing numbers.
My joint feels great,and my quality of life definitely improved, i can enjoy on other important aspects of life without worrying how much weight i have lifted in my previous workout session.
Great article as always
Well written and interesting article! Spending too much time in the gym or just thinking about it is surely a waste of time. Still, I think that you were too harsh on the gym in this article. I believe that even for a natural martyr, the gym is still worth it. Yes, the gains will suck, but unless you’re close to a natural limit, they WILL come. Before I’m accused of being a brainwashed idiot, I’m talking about 1-2kg (2-4 pounds) of muscle mass per year. You seem to dismiss working out in the gym as a meaningless and boring activity and mention “better” activities, but personally, I don’t think that cycling is any better. Woodwork, working with your hands etc. is nice because you actually do it for some purpose, but a lot of people (e.g. those living in big cities) don’t have an opportunity to do these.
In my opinion, if you’re not a slave of the bodybuilding lifestyle and you accepted the harsh reality that you will never be half as big and ripped as instagram fitness icons, the gym has only benefits. You don’t need to worry about becoming fat (because you know how to diet and you don’t eat like a pig). You don’t need to worry about back pain etc. if you sit in front of a computer all day (as a lot of us do), provided you won’t screw yourself by doing squats and deadlifts to impress bros with them numberz. Women are more attracted to you, men automatically respect you a little more. You relieve stress from the work and feel good after a session, and you get to socialize as well. And you can get all that by spending something like 10 hours of your free time per week, including commuting, preparation and such. I don’t think that’s a bad deal 🙂
You massively downplay the reality that there are many naturally muscular and aesthetic people who are great responders to exercise.
Those great responders are usually guys with big frames. The exercises just highlight their structure.
i think guys with big frames often have better fat distributions and their size kind of dominates their physical appearance. it’s similar to how really tall people who are fat don’t really come across as fat since their height dominates their physical appearance. however, i wouldn’t say that big-framed guys are more muscular (as a percentage of their bodyweight) compared to smaller-framed guys. there are plenty of neckbeard types who have big frames but their weight is all fat.
i think frame size, muscle hypertrophy, and leanness are all independent, although there are statistical correlations.
To anyone listening to this – make sure you really aren’t going to get those gains before you quit. My real life story contradicts a lot of the advice on this site (but I may be an outlier, not all bodies respond the same). I had toothpick arms and was super small with 0 self confidence up until I was 20. I even joined the ARMY after high school to see some action and to hopefully bulk up. I didn’t bulk up, I got in great shape, set the record in my unit for the extended PT test, but was still skinny and in clothing didn’t look like I even lifted. I finally got into heavy weight lifting and found what my body responds to in college and put on some muscle. Without any steroids or any supplements of any kind, in the course of a few years of hard work I went from benching 175 to 260 pounds and gained 20-30 lbs (depends on what you count as my start date). I’m slightly under 5ft 8, so that was a good jump. No one cares about the numbers, but I wanted to illustrate actual gains I made without steroids or even any supplements at that time. I figured out my own program through trial and error and experiments. The normal ones didn’t work that well for me. For my body I needed to really “beat the hell” out of my body and then eat a lot more than I had been eating and rest to get them my muscles grow. I do more sets with less rest than most of the programs people emphasize.
FAST forward 10+ years (yeah 10 years, I’m old, but don’t look it). I maintained my body (awesome), but after 2 failed marriages (ouch), I’m single again and I’m dealing with a lot of stress. About a year ago I decided to try and go up to the next level in fitness and see how much I could sculpt my body (still no roids). I did a bunch of new hacks including bloodflow restriction training, burn out sets and new exercises and HIT with brutal workouts and it worked!!!! I finally got the action hero body I always wanted as a little kid and even better than my twenties. It doesn’t match the sheer mass of a roid head, but it’s impressive and people comment on it and it gets attention everywhere I go. I was asked about my workout routine LAST NIGHT by a stranger!
I take stuff now including DHEA and other things in addition to the regular BCAAs protein powder and creatine, but nothing crazy and absolutely no steroids or growth hormone EVER!! Not even once. Here is a very recent picture of me at 37 years old.
Pic of me here:
“Bro” not to piss on your parade, but its no wonder you’ve had two failed marriages. You more vain that some of the ‘bubble butt’ parade. I honestly cringed at your Instagram. So glad I am not a part of that.
Yes lifting is healthy and should be a small part of your life. It honestly looks like lifting is your life as well as your online image. Regardless of the fact that you are natural (I can see that you are so well done on your physique) you are just being an attention whore like the rest of the Jeff seids of the world.
Good article truth seeker. I personally lift because I find it helps relax me (burn me out so to speak) as I am naturally a intense person aka a stressor and I find the good chemicals (dopamine) released from working out help balance out the negative ones. Although in the past it was mainly for girls, confidence/intimidation and girls.
Nah, it’s cool. I can take criticism. Yes, I could probably be a lot less vain. I do have other hobbies, they just don’t go as well on ig. I may post more of my creative stuff (not involving fitness). I got more into fitness to help with some major depression I was going through, but I wasn’t trying to be fame whore and I agree 100% it shouldn’t be the majority of your life unless it’s how you make money.
As an additional comment to my long story above. I’m stronger and in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. I will attempt some impressive PRs for me soon, just for FUN! Fitness has made my life better and I actually got the carrot that most people fail to get. I assure you my genetics for muscle gains SUCK! I have small joints, but luckily was actually able to achieve an impressive body and be in awesome shape despite poor genetics. I also wanted to add, I have genetically small calves, but I added 1 inch to them by working the hell out of them. I slowly progressed up to using the entire 500 lb stack on the standing calve machine and do heavy heavy calve exercises using both the legpress machine and also holding heavy dumbbells and standing on one leg and going onto the ball / toes of my foot. My calves aren’t large, but they look a lot better than before and they are STRONG as hell.
Lmao, you’re so right, I’m getting bored by the day with the gym since I’m a natural lifter too and can’t see any progress, even my strength gains are stalling out and I refuse to eat more and get any fatter just to make some extra strength gains, well I guess I’ll eventually go back to practice swimming or martial arts, and workout 2 or 3 days per week, at least I could see a progress in those activities.
Greetings Truth Seeker!
Here’s what I think. Because of how unhealthy and sedentary our lifestyles have become, not anymore do we carry wood on our shoulders, pound our own rice, use mortars and pestles to crush veggies as our ancestors used to, strength training becomes a must to stay ‘young’ and to ensure that aging is a lot kinder to us. Most of us have lost our grandparents at an early age because of a simple fracture that lead to prolonged bed rest, then massive atrophy and eventually death, just because they did not try to reign in the negative effects of aging by staying active and using their muscles and bones often to perform heavy tasks (use it or lose it).
Strength training preserves and restores bone mineral density (use it or lose it), allows the body to use its cholesterol effectively so the triglycerides remain in check, boosts metabolism, develops, strengthens and maintains muscles that have atrophied from prolonged lack of activity, triggers a dopamine response and can be a great stress buster. If we are solely talking about the long-term, healthful benefits of training, it’s too good a deal to give up.
So I’d say, reach your natural potential, and then workout once or twice a weak for all that good stuff to lead a happy life, ‘excluding muscles’, because in most cases, we won’t get them.
Make training a part of life, but not the heart of it.
TS, It always interesting to see the under and over reaction to your writings. It is more enjoyable to measure the overall emotion they evoke. Substance rules, my friend-Be well!
I was looking for genetics and natural bodybuilding and found your site. I’ve been reading your articles and your old blog too, both are great. Cheers from Argentina.
Thank you for the support, Gabo.
Hello Truthseeker, I would like to know if the growth of neck muscles is genetically determined. Can I make my neck as thick as I want it to be?
You can make it thicker, but I have no idea how thick you want it to be. There’s a limit, of course.
Yo man lately there have been multiple articles talking about how too much exercise can lower libido in men. Not just distance running or cycling but strength training as well. I have found through personal experience for this to be true. What are your thoughts? Do you feel that there is an evolutionary cause for this? Do you feel that it is too much exercise combined with other factors such as stress etc…i mean its obvious that the organism can only handle so much stress before it starts malfunctioning…an article on that would be awesome…thanks bro
You certainly do plateau.
I like where I plateaued, and I enjoy going to the gym a few times a week. I also do ring and bar exercises outside in the summer.
I get satisfaction and even pleasure from lifting (moderate) weights to maintain my form, even if I know I’m not going to progress anymore. It improves my mood and I don’t find it boring at all.
The best thing I ever did for myself for strength training is getting my own home gym set up. I just go downstairs or in my back yard and take care of business. As far as you don’t need a barbell to be strong, I agree with this, but you still need some form of resistance (Loaded carries (furniture moving, fireman carries, pushing cars etc..) , Manual Labor Jobs, Farming, Playing Sports or more difficult version of a movement (bodyweight), There is also going for a walk with weight in hand or on back and going for distance, that is something that has been around since the beginning of time aka hunter gather mode when men hunted and carried their kill back to the village, plow the earth, harvest crops, fight in wars, etc.. They did not do all this every day but when required of them.
Then how do you squat or deadlift?
Then how do you squat or deadlift?
I do front squats, Power cleans and sit on a bench to do over head press because the basement ceiling won’t allow me to stand while I press. I do those lifts twice a week and one to three times a week I go for a two mile walk wearing my 60lb vest where I sometimes hold 10lb plates in each hand. I don’t do deadlifts because Power Cleans fills my hip hinge and pull movement in one shot. I do warm up with deadlifts before doing Power Cleans. I plan after the holidays to get some farmers walk bars and use the plates that I already have to do farmer carries.
let your squat burn in hell … that sums it up !
I really think that the value of weight training was overratexaggerated by people promoting it, to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who respond wonderfully to training, some of them can build huge muscles….but they are a tiny minority. Most of the population should burst their asses for years to get a pair 16 inch arms, many will never reach 16 but only 15 inches. It is worth it? i think not.