Last updated: Dec 31, 2023
Besides overall health, the 3 areas I aim to improve with exercise are:
I mostly cover stength with barbell training, endurance with running, and mobility with stretching.
Nowadays most of my exercising comes from barbell training. Compared to other implements (dumbbells, kettlebells, machines, etc.), barbells have some key advantages:
- It’s the the only way to maximize overall strength because the upper limit on weight is so much higher.
- It doesn’t require as much space.
Lifts and Exercises
The main lifts I do are:
- Press (a.k.a. overhead press or strict press).
Less frequently, as assistance, as variations, or just for fun: barbell curls, squat variations, pull variations, press/jerk variations, bench press, barbell row, power clean, chin ups, dips.
My primary goal is to get stronger, secondarily to have a good physique. Thus I prioritize strength training: 1-5 reps per set with heavy weight, a.k.a. low “volume” high “intensity”. But when I hit a plateau, have an injury, or experience any discomfort, I do incorporate higher “volume” (total reps) and lower “intensity” (weight) to varying degrees.
It’s easy to find studies showing that greater muscle mass and/or strength correlates to an increase in longevity. It’s also the case that while muscle mass correlates with strength, it’s not directly proportional, muscle mass is just one of many factors—but likely the biggest one the more trained you are. It’s thus hard to say which is more important for longevity: muscle mass or strength. For convenience, I choose to focus on strength, given that it’s easier and cheaper to increase and maintain than muscle.
Why not bench press?
I don’t really have a strong reason for not incorporating the bench press as a main lift in my training. It’s just a combination of small things:
- I think pecs are overrated both functionally and aesthetically. Functionally, there are very few activities, sports, and daily movements that require strong mid and lower pecs. Aesthetically, overdeveloped pecs are a recent phenomenon (look up greek statues as well).
- Its carry over to daily activities and sports isn’t as much as the overhead press, so I’m comfortable just doing the overhead press.
- I’m satisified with how much the tricep gets developed with just the overhead press. Some claim the overhead press alone might even be able to maximally develop the tricep.
- The bench press is one of the few lifts that’s potentially fatal, specially without spotting or safety arms. If you fail and drop the bar with the other lifts, worst case scenario you’ll get some bruises. With the bench press, it could land on your neck—or even your chest—and asphyxiate you.
- Some believe the bench press limits shoulder mobility .
- The bench press takes longer to set-up.
I really dislike the feeling of being short of breath when doing any type of low-medium intensity activity, so I like to incorporate some aerobic exercise throughout the week. For this I like running indoors on a treadmill for 15-30 mins.
A major downside of my barbell training is that it leads to pain because muscles get so knotted, which likely means they essentially go offline and tendons start picking up the slack. To mitigate this I do targeted streteches, which reduces or eliminates the tension in the targeted muscle and makes the pain go away almost instantly. It's specially effective if I'm stretching a muscle by contracting the opposite one without other type of support.
Another reason I like stretching is to improve the range of motion of my joints, thus improving mobility.