My thoughts on Men’s Health’s Thoughts

8 Dec 2012 by Chuck, 2 Comments »

Well, Vanessa is sitting in a classroom session relating to bio-identical hormones. That leaves me sitting at a Barnes and Noble with an iced coffee in hand and a laptop in my, yeah, you guessed it, lap.

(That picture is how I’m totally sure that I looked the entire time I wrote this. A great deal of this is relevant to knowing Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing.)

I needed to take a break from researching the legalities of Nurse Practitioner independent practices (so that Vanessa can open her own practice,) so I figured I’d swing on over to Men’s Health and see what one of the biggest health and fitness magazines had to say about “fitness.”

“5 Weight-Lifting Myths” (please note that at least the “-” in there is correct so that Men’s Health readers don’t confuse themselves with actual weightlifters; those who Snatch and Clean and Jerk.)

Let us begin:


Dear Barnes and Noble employee, please excuse my poop in the center, brown recliner on the second floor. After reading that I was missing out on my gains by not using momentum in my lateral raises to create more torque in my shoulders, I promptly crapped my pants.


But really? Using momentum in an isolation movement for the specific purpose of increasing torque in one of the most unstable and easily damaged joints in the body is beyond stupid. This specific example aside, if you want to make the greatest amount of progress possible for the longest amount of time possible, good form is everything. Nobody has ever PRed a Snatch by lifting worse, nor has the famous “Dog Taking a Poop” pull position for a Deadlift worked out really well for someone’s spine over any significant amount of time. Chase performance and improvement, both of them come with efficient and technically correct movements.

I know that in regard to CrossFit specifically, the immediate counter argument will be, “What about them thar kippy pullups?! It’s like a dern seizure on a bar just to cheat a pullup!! Derp a der!!” No. You’re wrong and you have no idea what you’re talking about. We can delve into kipping pullups, how, and why in a separate article, but just know that there are some specifics to proper kipping with good form.


Well, they were correct in explaining that an explosive lift activates more type II muscle fibers and that they have more growth potential. Past that, there is a massive oversimplification of something that is dependent on not just bar speed but also intensity (in terms of %) and volume. The intent for bar speed is also a massive piece of this, but I promise that if you do want to be strapped with some big muscles, there are going to be quite a few slow lifts in your future. Not because you’re intentionally retarding your lifting speed, but because you are doing big, compound movements with something that is too heavy to move at any other speed than, “damn I wish this was over,” slowness.


Okay, so the easy way out would be to just say, you’re wrong. However, they did get specific and talk rep ranges on this one. The argument/myth is that swollertrophy (getting big) happens with super heavy stuff at rep ranges of 5 or less. Their counter is that getting big happens with reps in the 6-15 range.

Moving from just the title, getting big will require some heavy lifting, but not specifically super heavy. The rep range under 5 reps should correspond to an intensity (in terms of % of 1 rep max) where your gains and improvement are coming primarily from CNS (central nervous system) adaptation and some myofibrillar hypertrophy, rather than sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
*Myofibrillar hypertrophy, think Olympic weightlifter. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, think bodybuilder.

The recommendation of 6-15 is a huge range. The reality is if you do want to get bigger, it is much easier with some type of real strength base. Specifically, I would recommend that people trying to get more muscular hang out in the 5-8 rep range as that generally contributes to getting both bigger and stronger. 8-12  is where I would advise most people to spend time if there only concern was getting bigger. I would also ask them why they were interested in getting bigger without getting better; aesthetics versus performance.  Past 12 reps, my personal experience has been that for most people intensity drops off to the point that the benefits aren’t really strength or size, but rather localized muscular endurance and lactate threshold.


This hurts my brain. The entire article is based on lifting and not metabolic conditioning, so I know I’m not taking anything out of context. They recommend rather than rest, you perform “fillers” in-between your lifting sets. There are some very specific instances where this might be beneficial, but for actual lifting and strength work, I am going all in on a resounding NO!

If you just want to kill some time between lifting sets, hit some mobility or soft tissue work.

Go do some 5×5 Back Squats and tell me that you don’t feel a need to sit and feel sorry for yourself between sets that you dread. If the answer isn’t any different, then I promise that you aren’t squatting heavy enough.


They are saying that the whole window of opportunity after a workout when muscles are primed to respond to protein, is simply not correct.

They’re wrong as ****!

Given that my iced coffee is empty and my brain hurts even more from this one, I’ll just leave you with my myth of the day:

“Men’s Health is a Good Place to Seek Fitness Advice.” 

If you really want to know more about why “Myth 5” shouldn’t be on their list, go read:

● Cribb, P., Hayes, A. Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy.Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2006. 38, 1918-1925.
● Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., Kreider, R., Kalman, D., Ziegenfuss, T., Lopez, H., Landis, J., Ivy, J., Antonio, J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2008. 3, 5-17.
● Levenhagen, D., Gresham, J., Carlson, M., Maron, D., Borel, M., Flakoll, P. Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasis. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2001. 280, E982-99.
References Section 2:
● Kerksick, C., Rasmussen, C., Lancaster, S., Magu, B., Smith, P., Melton, C., Greenwood, M., Almada, A., Earnest, C., Kreider, R. The effects of protein and amino acid supplementation on performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2006. 20, 643-653.
●Dangin, M., Boirie, Y., Garcia-Rodenas, C., Gachon, P., Fauquant, J., Callier, P., Ballevre, O., Beaufrere, B. The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2001. 280, E340-348.
References Section 3:
● Cribb P., Williams, A., Stathis, C., Carey, M., Hayes, A. Effects of whey isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2007. 39, 298-307.
● Cribb, P., Williams, A., Hayes, A. A creatine-protein-carbohydrate supplement enhances responses to resistance training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2007. 39, 1960-1968.
● Tarnopolsky, M., Parise, G., Yardley, N., Ballantyne, C., Olatinji, S., Phillips, S. Creatine-dextrose and protein-dextrose induce similar strength gains during training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2001. 33, 2044-2052.
Reference Section 4:
● Rasmussen, B., Tipton, K., Miller, S., Wolf, S., Wolfe, R. An oral essential amino acid-carbohydrate supplement enhances muscle protein anabolism after resistance exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2000. 88, 386-392.
● Tipton, K., Ferrando, A., Phillips, S., Wolfe, R. Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1999. 6(4 Pt 1), E628-34.
References Section 5:
● Berardi, J., Price, T., Noreen, E., Lemon, P. Postexercise muscle glycogen recovery enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2006. 38:1106-1113.
● Tarnopolsky, M., Bosman, M., Macdonald, J., Vandeputte, D., Martin, J., Roy, B. Postexercise protein-carbohydrate and carbohydrate supplements increase muscle glycogen in men and women. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1997. 83, 1877-1883.
● Borsheim, E., Tipton, K., Wolf, S., Wolfe, R. Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2002. 283, E648-657.


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