There is something about a straight back that screams power. It makes me think of a person who can accomplish whatever they want. Take, for example, the venerated George Washington, who was well known for his formidable posture. To quote social psychologist Amy Cuddy from her moving Ted Talk, “Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behaviour, our behaviour changes our outcomes.”
Inside this article, we cover how having a strong upper back is important when it comes to building muscle and looking your best. We also cover how to improve your posture and strengthen your upper back with 4 instructional videos.
We’ve got a new guest post for you guys. This one from a naturally skinny science communicator who reads a lot. You might think some of his points are controversial, and we’d love to hear what you think. We think his perspective on dealing with body image issues as a skinny guy is incredibly thought provoking in the best way. Without further ado, Will Chou:
Recently, I met with some old friends for a reunion lunch. As we walked out of the restaurant, the conversation turned to what I looked like when I was young. Two of the guys mentioned that I was not just skinny: I was bony and scrawny. One of them even emphasized it with his tone like it was a huge deal.
They weren’t being mean; they were just giving me some constructive honesty. Having said that, I was still very surprised because I didn’t think I was that weak. But it turns out, that’s how they viewed me.
For 80% of my life, I have found myself in frequent situations where I was left out. I had focused on school and struggled with any weight training programs, so I was as skinny as they get.
The worst parts of my day was lunch. My school had a huge, noisy cafeteria with hundreds of people in it. And as you got to higher grade levels, you got to sit in more exclusive areas. The seniors had their own VIP area with its own curtain. But when I was a senior, I still sat alone in the freshmen section.
Sitting there alone for half an hour while everyone around you chatted away creates a constant reminder of isolation. I felt horrible because every few seconds, I was reminded that I was left out. You can’t help but wonder why. Was it because I was Asian? Socially unskilled? Skinny?
If you have ever felt insecure or excluded, you are not alone. Body image is a constant problem in modern society.
But my story doesn’t end there. Your past doesn’t have to destroy your future. Nowadays, I am healthier physically and mentally than I have ever been. You can become secure with yourself no matter where you are in your progression. You can and should change your self-esteem so that you stay resilient no matter how you look. You can and must change your perceptions about the world so that you develop good mental health for your own success in life.
I’m going to share with you some cool science-backed advice on how to have badass self-esteem. First, let’s tackle a big myth about “looks being superficial”…
Couple quick questions.
Are you satisfied with how much muscle you’ve built?
If not… do you know what to do? I mean the basics: Eat 1g of protein per pound bodyweight, get into a calorie surplus, lift weights, and sleep. That kind of thing. Know them inside and out? Rad.
But if you know the basics and you’re not satisfied with what you’ve built so far, what’s going on?
How is it possible to not be where you want to be when you know everything?
I’m not asking these questions to be mean, or a downer. I’m asking because I really want to see you reach your potential.
I’m asking because I want to see if I can wake you up. Is it possible that there’s a gap between intellectual knowing something and actually doing it?
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to warm up. We’d all live active lives from birth, and our professions would keep us moving all day. Darkness would send us to bed, and sunlight would wake us in the morning. We could roll out of bed and go for a jog because our bodies would be balanced. The only warm up we’d need would be a big yawn.
While I’m sure there are some people in the world who live this reality, they are not the ones who are looking for personal trainers. Most of the people I work with spend some portions of their day in sedentary positions, which would make it riskier to jump straight into a gains-inducing workout.
What I hope to convince you of in this blog post is that warm-ups are not only great for improving your blood flow and joint lubrication, but can also be used as a mini workout to balance the body, expand your movement capabilities, and, most importantly, make the workout you’re about to demolish fun.
In the Beastly community, we get a ton of questions about testosterone. It’s a tricky hormone that has a huge effect on our physiques, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. In the past, we stuck to the standard advice: get good sleep, eat well, eat a lot, follow a good lifting program, and make sure you’re getting enough sun or supplemental vitamin D.
Then we got lucky. Dr Bhavsar joined.
Dr Bhavsar, or DoctorB, as he’s known around the community, is a urologist. We had to look that last word up. A urologist is a doctor who specialises in the male reproductive system, aka, the type of doctor you’d see about any issues relating to testosterone.
He started by writing an article in the community about sleep (member link here), then he gained 30 pounds, and then he wrote an article about testosterone. Both of his articles were big hits in the community, and we thought the testosterone one could be great as a blog post.
In his article, he talks about the link between skinniness and testosterone, how to raise your testosterone naturally, and how that may help you bulk up more quickly and leanly. He’ll also briefly go over both the pros and cons of taking testosterone (aka “steroids”), just so that you can better understand what’s going on with so many guys in the fitness industry.
The information on raising your testosterone naturally is so simple and healthy that I think it’s something that everyone who wants to build muscle should take advantage of.
In this article we’re going to do something a little bit different. The idea came from one of our members. He started off by saying something fairly controversial. Then, as other members prodded him, instead of backing away from it, he doubled down. And I think his arguments are pretty compelling.
First, let’s set the stage. In our articles about attractiveness, we make the argument that attractiveness is visible health. Being very attractive just takes that one step further. Instead of looking healthy, you’d have to look healthy in a way that truly stands out—you’d have to be conspicuously healthy.
For an overweight person, the best way to build a more attractive physique is to become visibly healthier by losing fat. For us skinny guys, the best way to become more attractive is usually to build muscle. There are lots of objective goals you could set: bringing your BMI to 23 with abs, becoming 50% heavier than your date/girlfriend/fiancée/wife, or building your biceps up to the size of your neck, to name a few.
At first, progress can be very quick. If you’ve read our newbie gains article, then you understand exactly how quick. The interesting thing is that the 80–20 principle applies here. What I mean is that with a small amount of time investment—just a couple months—a skinny guy can usually get to the point where he looks healthy and fit. He’ll look attractive.
Not alarmingly attractive, but attractive.
At that point, progress will slow, and it can take a lot more time and effort to get to that next, very attractive level. After all, looking healthy is one thing, but looking so healthy that people go, “Wow, that dude looks healthy!” is a whole other thing.
But physical attractiveness isn’t the only way you can boost your attractiveness. It’s not even the only physical way that you can boost your attractiveness.
That’s where Rick J comes in.
I will be the first to tell you that chronic pain can really take away from exercise. It’s a huge reason a lot of people do not enjoy activities as much as they could.
Over the years training clients and conversing with fellow gym folk, I’ve noticed a trend in fitness and in sports where a lot of people just push past chronic pain to reach their goals. They’ve accepted it as their norm. While I do respect someone’s ability to get the job done regardless of their pain, I still believe that you can modify your training program to reach your goal and decrease pain.
I do not claim to be a pain specialist whatsoever, and I still refer people to see a physiotherapist if it is a serious injury. However, it’s rare to meet a client who doesn’t have at least one thing bugging them. You learn to tweak things, work around injuries, or even fix them. It’s amazing what well progressed exercise can do.
Not everything requires a doctor visit, pain killers or bed rest. In fact, I believe staying active in a healthy way while recovering from an injury is one of the best ways to recover more quickly.
In this article, I’m going to go over my process of working around chronic joint pain with my clients.
I gained 12 pounds during my first 5 weeks of bulking. Jared gained 22. Then, after blogging about it, we started hearing that it was impossible.
Imagine that. You’ve just finished doing something, your friend did an even better job, and then everyone starts telling you that you couldn’t possibly have done it.
What’s even crazier is that everyone was right—all of the articles we were reading were saying that it couldn’t have happened.
Over the years, we’ve come across studies where the participants make great gains in just a couple months. The problem is that lifters write those results off because they were done on untrained men.
“Yeah, but those are just newbie gains.”
Well, let’s talk about those newbie gains. Because most people don’t understand what they are, and most people gain 0 pounds during their first month of lifting, not 12.
You’re at a dinner party and you’ve just finished telling your uncle how you started going to the gym, got all kinds of sick gains, and then how you lost them all when school intensified and you just couldn’t keep it up.
He retorts, “Max, you just need to get back on the horse.” Uncle, this is actually sound advice and we will listen, but there are some things you need to know. Not everyone gets back on the horse the same way. Heroin overdoses tend to happen more frequently in users who are newly clean because they forget that their body does not have the same tolerance anymore. If you haven’t lifted weights in a while and you attempt the same workouts you once bullied in the gym, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the bullying.
You may also be surprised at how little it takes to rebuild muscle, or how quickly you can do it.
Inside this article we’ll be discussing a quick and safe way to return to the gym and the skillset needed to make you a landmark in your own fitness world.
There’s a theory that guys can be sorted into 3 distinct body type categories: endomorphs, mesomorphs and ectomorphs.
Is that true?
Different people do have different heights and bone structures. That’s a fairly uncontroversial fact. What’s far more interesting is how these traits can combine together to form groups of guys who respond to exercise and diets in fairly different ways.
For example, people don’t grow proportionally. Our limbs grow longer faster than they grow thicker. So shorter guys tend to be thicker, taller guys tend to be thinner. Then consider that being a heavier person causes your body to develop thicker bones to support the extra weight, and that having thicker bones allows you to build more muscle mass. So you have shorter, stockier guys who can build more muscle more easily than taller, skinnier guys. Then factor in that these naturally skinny guys need to expend more energy to move their longer limbs, but because they aren’t as wide, they also have proportionally smaller stomachs.
We already have 2 archetypes that require totally different approaches to exercise and nutrition, and we haven’t even covered half of the reasons why.