Lifting weights should be simple. You go to a place with a bunch of metal and pick it up and put it down until you look like The Incredible Hulk. But weightlifting—like any other worthwhile pursuit—requires study, planning, and care to succeed at, which sucks.
Weightlifting is also no fitness panacea. There are few things you can do at the gym that you can’t undo at the Taco Bell on the way home, and no amount of deadlifts is going to prepare you for a marathon. That said, it’s fun and exercise is good, so let me Sherpa your climb up the mountain of strength, past the filthy Ganges of Internet Broscience.
Let’s start with stuff. Lifting equipment falls into three categories, the stuff you’ll need, the stuff you’ll probably want, and the stuff you might eventually want.
Since I’ve started I’ve done a lot of research on form and so far I have really preferred taking tips from powerlifters over bodybuilders, they just seem to be no nonsense and focus mostly on lifting the most weight possible without hurting yourself. Listen to powerlifters in the gym; listen to bodybuilders in the kitchen.
Weightlifting belts can be fantastic and boost your performance, but they’re very commonly misunderstood, and often misused. Let’s break down what weightlifting belts do and when you’ll really benefit from wearing one.
You don’t need to splurge on a $100+ belt, but please don’t go for the velcro belts and think you’re doing yourself any good. A leather belt should be extremely uncomfortable and stiff the first few times you use it, but after a month or so will be nicely broken in.
For whatever reason, you may attempt to do an epic squat by yourself. Not smart, but rather than telling you to rethink your madness and skip it altogether, you can be safer with knowing how to bail when things start to look bad. This video by Omar Isuf shows you how.
At first, I was skeptical about making progress. I used to believe that bodyweight workouts were wussy—that the only way to build the strong body I wanted was to lift weights in the gym. Still, I forged forward. For science (and my own convenience).
“Get a good night’s sleep” is classic advice before a big race or event. But if you stayed up late picking out your best shoelaces and then woke up early to make it to the start line on time, have you ruined your chance at a good performance?