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Association between muscular strength and mortality in men (2008) [pdf] (bmj.com)
218 points by davidtanner on Apr 4, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 199 comments

I've been doing strength training (the program is called Stronglifts 5x5[1]) with freeweights for about 9 months now. I just turned 44, and I've never felt better, and I'm stronger now than I have ever been. The program I use describes 3 simple exercises to do 3 times a week, and each workout takes me 30-45 minutes. Very little equipment is needed. It's hard to find good information about this on the net that covers both what exercises to do, how to do them, and how to eat. This program covers all of that, taking you from lifting an empty bar right on up. It's totally free, with an option to pay if you want personal consultation.

I used to have knee pain, and I don't anymore. I used to get a sore back from coding all the time, and I don't any more. I seriously recommend trying strength training.

[1] http://stronglifts.com/stronglifts-5x5-beginner-strength-tra...

The book "Starting Strength" by Mark Rippetoe (book and author pretty much universally lauded by the strength training community) is also a great starting point.

Beginners can often become overwhelmed by all the differing viewpoints and training methods presented to them when researching strength training but (besides avoiding injury by maintaining proper form and generally listening to your body to allow sufficient recovery time) the most important thing by far in anyone's fitness lifestyle is simply consistency in actually working out.

I want to second this! Please read "Starting Strength"! It is the most detailed and easy-to-understand guide for executing compound lifts.

> Beginners can often become overwhelmed by all the differing viewpoints

Yeah, I'm in this position. I've been using the machines at my gym (more for variety than any other reason) and when I started looking into strength training, I was swamped with competing methods, many of which instantly sent up red flags in my brain reading "SCAM".

It's difficult for someone from outside the fitness world (me) to judge whether a method is legitimate or if it's simply the fitness equivalent of a get rich quick scheme.

The basic approach to getting strong hasn't changed over the past several hundred years, despite Nautilus' and personal trainers' best attempts.

Lift heavy shit over your head. Put it down. Repeat.

To this end, barbell training is pretty much the gold standard in gaining strength. Machines are suboptimal in that they stress muscles in isolation from one-another, and remove the need for compound, coordinated muscle contractions that occur in literally every situation where you would want actual strength. Proper barbell training with compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, overhead press) trains whole groups of muscles at once, including the crucially-important stabilizers which are often neglected in machine-based training.

Starting Strength and Stronglifts are two extremely similar barbell training programs with a very large number of success stories. I've been doing the Stronglifts routine for three months, and am transitioning into Starting Strength as I make my way through the extremely thorough book (which goes into extremely helpful detail about performing the lifts with correct technique). In three months, my squat is now 195lb, deadlifts are 235lb, overhead press at 90lb, bench at 125lb, and barbell rows (which I'm phasing out in favor of power cleans) at 125lb. And I continue to add weight almost every single time I go out.

The numbers aren't super impressive by themselves, but for only three months from having starting at the weight of the empty bar (45lb), I'm seriously thrilled.

Awesome dude!

I recommend you read this archive of Bill Starr articles: http://billstarrr.blogspot.com/

He taught Rippetoe much of what he knows back in the day. I think Starr articles are way more readable and useful than most of Rippetoe's stuff to be honest.

Like software development, fitness has many methods and plenty of adherents that will swear by each one. Unlike software, however, human physiology doesn't change very quickly. Generally, simpler is better.

In general, you should mix cardio work with lifting heavy things. The ratio will depend on your goals, as will the kinds of lifting you do. All things being equal, exercises that involve more muscle groups and larger ranges of motion will burn more calories than isolation lifting (which is what most machines are set up to do). If you have weak joints or other physical constraints, machines can be a good place to start, as they will provide you some degree of support and help with your form.

Part of the reason you hear about so many methods is that so many of them work. Most are greatly oversold, and in the long run you'll find out what works best for you and ignore the cookbook-style exercise plans, but anything that motivates you to create a fitness plan and stick to it in a disciplined fashion is a good place to start. In fitness, consistency creates more progress than efficiency, and premature optimization is still the root of all evils.

> If you have weak joints or other physical constraints, machines can be a good place to start, as they will provide you some degree of support and help with your form.

This is one of the main reasons I've stuck with the machines. I have a rotator cuff issue in my left arm that makes that arm very unstable. Lifting heavy things with that arm without any support makes me very nervous, even after doing PT exercises for 4 months.

I would just like to add that although machines have their place and are great at helping beginners learn certain movements and build up strength, I would advise against using them longterm.

The reason for this is because many machines have a set path and range of motion. Because not everyone's body is made the same, this can cause problems down the line since the movements are not natural. You are also recruiting less of the smaller muscles in your body that help with stability and balance, while only developing the larger/dominant muscles. I believe that to truly be strong you must train all your muscles to work effectively as one system.

Ironically, some of these types of issues can be exacerbated by machines. They often limit you to a fixed range of motion which doesn't line up with your anatomically natural range of motion.

Obviously limitations from injuries are extremely specific to the individual, so your issues may legitimately cause some barbell lifts (particularly bench presses) to be a bad idea. But I do also personally know of a lot of anecdotal evidence that points to freeweight exercise reducing the impact of people's injuries: e.g., knee pain from squats in a smith machine disappearing when performed in a power rack.

Understandable. Without knowing the details of your issue, all I can say is that even light lifting with free weights will help develop your secondary/stabilizer muscles. You may or may not be able to make it a mainstay of your exercise program, but light to medium free weight exercise will improve your joint condition over time as well. If you do anything that feels iffy, just be sure to get a spotter. Pretty much anything you do in a gym will make you stronger, except getting injured.

I second this -- if lifting heavy things makes you nervous, try lifting lighter things. There's a lot of small stabilizer muscles in your body that will be really weak if left unused, and lifting any free weight will help build them up.

A good source of information for this is fitness.reddit.com

Be sure to read the FAQ there. The TL;DR version is to pick up one of the two programs mentioned above (5x5 or starting strength).

I've been a meathead (and nerd) for over a decade, when people ask me for advice on where to start, I recommend group exercise. If your gym has classes called Body-sculpt/Body-pump/Body-something, try them. It'll be a good mix of strength and cardio... you can build and branch out from there.

I second this advice.

I've noticed men avoid these classes because tend to be a majority female attendance (at least at my gym). I do feel like the classes are also geared towards women, but that could just be me or my gym (they call is body-design). I'm not intimidated by that, but I feel like many guys are.

I do these with my girlfriend usually, which helped get into it initially, but I'm often the only guy. Doesn't matter, it's a killer workout. Even though I lift, I still do classes like this each week for general fitness.

"Starting Strength" is a great book. You learn a lot about technique, how to properly execute each lift, and common mistakes to watch out for. 5/3/1 from Jim Wendler (http://www.flexcart.com/members/elitefts/default.asp?pid=297...) is also great. I made my best gains on 5/3/1.

Looking for recommendations to add to my home gym, which currently only consists of an elliptical, mat, pull up bar, push up grips, a couple of exercise balls, 3 and 5lb barbells.

What is safe to have at home? I want to avoid a resistance machine or similar, mostly because they look ghastly, and secondly seeing so many on CL leads to believe they are more hype than health.

Get what is called a "squat cage" (you can build one yourself if you don't like the options to purchase.) along with an Olympic bar (it is a bar weighted to 45 lbs. along with Olympic weights.

You can do squats safely without a spotter by using a squat cage. Also, when you place a bench inside of the cage, you can use catch bars to safely bench press without a spotter (the safety bars will catch the bar at chest level when you can't lift it due to exhaustion)

Along with pull ups, bench press, squat, and deadlift are the best exercises for strength. An olympic bar will let you do both deadlift and squat with just a rack.

> "You can do squats safely without a spotter..."

Just to add that 'safely' in this context means that if you fail at a rep, the cage will catch the bar. Obviously it can't do anything to point out bad form as a spotter, or even a mirror, could.

I use the squat cage at the gym I go to and I wish they had more mirrors. A pair of angled ones so I can see a side-on view would be really helpful.

Don't use mirrors too much. In fact, you should do most of your exercises facing away from any mirrors.

A mirror only shows the front of you. If you stop looking into a mirror, you'll find that your ability to "feel" your form through proprioception becomes significantly stronger. And it will tell you things that you simply cannot view in a mirror. Try doing an entire session without using mirrors; if you find it difficult or impossible to maintain proper form, that should be an extremely compelling sign that the mirror has become a crutch, and not a very good one.

There's also the unfortunate fact that, by looking into a mirror, you're guaranteeing that your head is tilted farther back than it ought to be for exercises like squats. You never want to have your neck extended while carrying a significant load. It should be in a neutral position — for a squat position, this will equate to looking at the floor roughly five or six feet in front of you.

The gym I go to has a mirror running at a diagonal such that I can look front-right of me to see a view of myself half from the side. Not quite optimal for watching my form, but easier to look at without turning my head.

Use your smart phone to record yourself.

You can get a weight set, bench and power rack. If you can't fit a rack, a lot can be done with a weight set, but certain moves aren't perfectly safe.

With just a weight set you can learn to power clean, do front squats with decent weight, zercher squats http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq1maZuQTgI jefferson squats/deadlifts. Can also do floor press or put some planks and books under yourself to get full range of motion.

What kind of weight set, power rack, bench to buy you can discuss in equipment forums like http://forum.bodybuilding.com/forumdisplay.php?f=26

Spinlock bars suck though, low weight capacity and annoying to use.

Kettlebells are compact, safe-ish, and pretty fun. I regularly work out with barbells now at the gym (roughly following Starting Strength), but before I started that, I spent a lot of time swinging a 35 lb kettlebell at home, which firmed up my back and shoulder muscles a lot. I recently added 20 lb and 60 lb kettlebells to the set, as 35 lb isn't a challenge to swing, but I can't yet consistently control it with one arm above my head.

+1 for kettlebells. They are particularly great since they are really economical (mostly since you do not need many). I've been using a 35lb one for my morning workouts. The coverage you can get with a kettlebell in a short amount of time just can't be beat.

Actually, the stronglifts 5x5 workout is pretty much the same as Mark Rippetoe's program in Starting Strength (squat, deadlift, press one day, squat, bench, clean, back extension the next)

I'm about halfway through the book and I would highly recommend it.

Just started this program about a month ago. I'm stronger, fitter, and healthier than I've ever been.

It really simplifies things in the weight room, points you in the right direction, and says "now go do this."

It's pretty much gimmick free, and very straightforward. Highly recommend it.

I've read through Starting Strength (thanks to some HN thread IIRC). Quite motivational (and almost too detailed).

I'm currently looking for a correctly equipped gym near my apartment in Paris, France. Looks like free weights are not fashionable at all here ...

Good book for beginners but Mark has no shortage of critics and enemies in the strength community.

Who? In both powerlifting and strongman circles he is regarded pretty highly actually. I'm competed in both NAS (north american strongman) and IPF (international powerlifting federation) and the talk of people who actually compete is how much Ripp has done to bring real knowledge to the masses.

I've seen a few critiques of SS. One particular one was on how he recommends doing cleans, but in general I've found it to be well accepted. I do a variation of SS right now and I enjoy it.

It's popular so it's bound to have critics.

Mind expanding on that beyond just "Some people don't like this guy"?

I'm not sure why you're being voted down. I've also seen some criticism, especially with respect to older (+40) people causing serious injury to their vertebra with the loads from correctly performed lifting. Lifting weights is not for every body, no matter how well you follow directions.

Have you got links to those? I'd be interested to see them since I'm in that group. For me personally weight lifting seems to have prevented a lot of injuries that I used to get.

This. I had a very similar experience, although I did Starting Strength followed by 5/3/1. Squats and deadlifts have done wonders for my low back and knee pain. Over two years of lifting, I have gained about 30 pounds, but my waist size has not changed, suggesting that the weight gain is nearly all muscle.

There's no shortcut, all it takes is lots of barbell training and protein intake over time.

I've been on Starting Strength for 3 months, and although I initially gained some fat (due to not getting a lean enough source of protein) I've gained a lot of muscle. I feel much healthier, and like you my knee pain has dissappeared. Squats and deadlifts are awesome, and the overhead press is a highly underrated exercise. (I'm a big distance runner, and I think too much distance running over time atrophied all of my muscles, including my lower body muscles. The reduced strength at the expense of increased endurance made me more susceptible to knee injuries)

Edit: In response to those who claim squats are bad on the knees, let me clarify what a proper squat is: Depth. Believe it or not, if you only go to "shallow" depths in your squats, you put more stress on your knees than going "deep"(to a point where you're femur is slightly below parallel with the ground). This is simply physics at work. Stopping the squat at any point that is less than parallel is stressing the knees, rather than the much stronger hip flexors, which bear load in a deep squat.

Yeah, I used to only jog (2-6 miles at a time) for exercise, but I had lots of knee problems. Then I picked up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and that also kept me in good shape but gave me different knee problems, until I started lifting. Lifting is clearly good for the knees and back. The myths that squats will hurt your knees and deadlifts will hurt your back need to be dispelled.

Now just hold on a second there. As long as we're throwing out anecdotes, let me say that I've been lifting for a few years now and squats completely devastate my knees. I've tried over and over again and no matter what, my knees get a stabbing, debilitating pain when I squat, even at lighter weights. Physical therapy doesn't help. X-rays show no problems. Obsessing about correct posture doesn't help. Squats are just plain bad for my knees.

If it doesn't hurt when you do body weight squats with zero weight, then you can make it not hurt when you do heavier weights. The trick is to start with body weight squats, or an empty bar, and build slowly. At every step, keeping proper form. Adding only 5 lbs each workout. So many people make the exact claim you're making, without actually going through the painstaking process of starting from no weight on the bar and moving up over a period of a year. You may actually have a real problem in your knees, but if you can do body weight squats without pain, you can work up from there. If you can sit down in a chair without your hands, you can probably work up from there too.

I can do body squats fine (lots of popping, though). I've worked up in weight (though not quite from empty). One week I'll be able to do semi-heavy squats (not even my bodyweight) with no problems and then the next two weeks I can't even add much more than the bar before the knife-in-the-knee. Both knees have the issue, and not simultaneously. The physical therapist says I'm a bit pronated, so I try to account for that in my posture. I tried all the stretches and exercises I was given. It's not like I'm doing things that my legs aren't used to. I'd been doing leg exercises, including squats for a long time. It's just that when I get to about 85-90% of my bodyweight on squats, it'll only be a week or two of no problems and then for the next two weeks I won't be able to do anything.

I do deadlifts, and they usually go just fine except when I've messed up my knees with squats, in which case then my knees will die during deadlifts too. Every time I tell myself I can get back into squats gradually I come back demoralized, and it poisons my other workouts too.

Can you do lunges, band work, step ups/downs, etc... without pain? How are your DLs, core work and glutes? The problem with the knee is that all sorts of other imbalances can show up as knee pain. Also, see if you can find a PT that specializes in sports.

Read this for some things to try to protect the knee: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_trai...

I've found, from painful experience, that most physical therapists aren't particularly oriented towards strength training.

If you can find an FMS certified strength trainer, there's a good chance they could help diagnose your situation. http://www.functionalmovement.com

I had problems with my knees after I gained a heap of muscle and then levelled out on my weight and stopped squatting for a while. My knees were now sore all the time.

At some point I read an article called "Everything you know about fitness is a lie" (which has been posted to HN several times), which has a section entitled, "You're only as strong as your weakest muscle". It talks about strengthening stabiliser muscles and exercises to rehabilitate weakened muscles.

The section also illustrates some of the better exercises you can do to alleviate injuries. In particular, there is an exercise for strengthening the knees - I can only describe as a straight leg lift while lying on one's side - which I tried for a couple of weeks, despite the flak I copped from my weightlifting compatriots.

I believe it works the quadriceps, and from my research, the exercise alleviates the difference in strength between the hamstring and the quadricep (don't quote me on this though), which seems to be the cause of my particular joint problem.

However, I've found I can't just go up to a certain point and stop the exercise. I need to continue with it as long as I'm doing squats. It's annoying, because none of my weightlifting crew have this problem, so I think it's got to do with the particulars of my genetics, but whatever works.

I used to have patella tendinopathy in one of my knees from heavy squats. I was able to eliminate all pain in about a week or two using these "Voodoo Floss Band" things.[1] They don't seem like they would work that effectively, but calling them magical is as justified as it was for the iPad. I had tried other strategies such as decline boards and negatives for several months which are commonly prescribed by physical therapists but they didn't make much of a difference. After my knees were 100% from the bands, I began squatting heavy weights again and focused more on keeping my knees out and my butt further back. This seems to have resolved my issues and I no longer experience knee pain squatting (my 1RM is >350).

1: http://www.mobilitywod.com/2012/05/voodoo-band-your-patella-...

Yeah I had pain around the patellar tendon last year and doing this helped. But you don't need to buy that thing for $24, you can do it with a cut-open $5 bicycle tire tube and it works equally well.

If it goes away when pressure is applied, it might be trigger points. Find a physio who does dry needle therapy and see if that helps.

I hurt my back rowing in 2009 in the L5-S1 area. Many physios diagnosed it as different things and many of them tried different treatments. None of them worked and it hurt for three years. I tried lots of different core exercises, some physios tried manual and manipulative therapy (which helped for a bit) but after a few months of sessions of dry needling my back hasn't bothered me with that injury in over a year.

I would much recommend dry needling, it's not the same thing as acupuncture.

I feel like I should say something in-jokey here.

I'm pretty keen on dry needling of trigger points, given how many things it's fixing for me. But I'm wary of seeming like a new convert -- I think people should consider it as one possible cause of pain, often undiagnosed because it's not a commonly taught concept.

In the absence of pre-existing knee issues I would wager that there's something wrong with your squat form. Do you squat below parallel? Do you sit back with your weight on your heels and spread your knees apart when squatting? Have you tried taking a video (from the side) of yourself barbell squatting and posting it to one of the major lifting forums for a "form check?" You can get a lot of good form/technique feedback that way.

I try to go down to parallel, and I do sit back on my heels and spread my knees apart. I have not done the video thing but I have researched it and had it critiqued by people at the gym and by physical therapists.

The amount of time I've spent trying to refine my form and then have it do nothing for me is demoralizing. I understand that's the only suggestion people can come up with, and I understand why. I mean, I'm just some random guy on the internet and from that perspective the likelihood that I'm just cluelessly doing it wrong is high. But there comes a point for me at which I can no longer be satisfied with that answer. I've got better form than hundreds of thousands of noobs who successfully do heavier squats than me every single week. I feel like I'm chasing a holy grail of form religiously, like if I could just find the right number of centimeters to separate my legs or the exact right angle of my knees or the exact right balance of weight on my heels then everything will work out.

Are you warming up properly? I get the same stabbing pain in my elbows when I try to bench press anything over 115 lb, and an experienced powerlifter friend suggested it might be because I'm not adequately warming up my joints before I start -- it can be tight muscles pulling on tendons, or a bunch of things. I haven't had a chance to experiment, unfortunately, as I injured my wrist (not while lifting) and am waiting for that to heal, but...

To warm up for squats, try some or all of the following:

- using a rowing machine

- running for a little bit

- "high knee" jogging -- on the spot, lifting your knees up to your chest

- doing lots of bodyweight squats, then lots of squats with just the bar

- kettlebell swings (making sure to bend your knees and throw your butt back at the bottom of the swing)

- cycling (taking care with knee position if you get knee pain there -- I get knee pain cycling if I throw my knees out sideways; trying to lift them vertically works much better)

I would suggest the following:

- If you're squatting high bar, switch to low bar because it puts less stress on the knees.

- Practice the "asian squat" stretch. Squat all the way down while keeping your weight on your heels and sit there for a while. Do you have a tendency to want to tip forward onto the balls of your feet when you do that? If so, that's a problem and you need to practice this position more.

- Get a foam roller and foam roll all sides of your legs (especially your IT band) and your glutes before squatting. I have chronic IT band tightness on one side that pulls on something in my knee and gives me pain around the patellar tendon, but it goes away when I foam roll the side of my leg.

- Do lots of warmup reps with bodyweight and/or just the bar.

- Don't stop at parallel. Squat below parallel, until you get a "bounce" from the stretch reflex of your hamstrings. If you stop at parallel, there is shearing force on the patellar tendon as that's where the tension is at the time when you change directions. But if you go all the way down, there is almost no load on your patellar tendon at the bottom when you change directions--the load is transferred to your glutes and hamstrings.

Based on what you've told me, I really think it's likely you aren't squatting down low enough, and that's irritating your patellar tendons.

Yeah, it sounds like you have aggressively pursued using correct form. For most people, form is the issue, but I get the feeling that you might just have a physiological issue with doing squats. Have you tried leg presses as a substitute?

Another possible thing to TRY (if it hurts don't do it) are Goblet Squats. Look up a youtube video and you will quickly see what it is. It is a very effective way of increasing hip mobility so that if/when you do try to do squats again your hip flexors will take the weight instead of your knees.

Also, (this is extremely important), google "low bar squat form." Anyone with knee issues should be doing low bar squats (in fact they are all I do, because they are as good as high bars but easier on the knees). If the bar isn't resting BEHIND the traps and on top of the delts, then you are doing a high bar squat which puts far more stress on the knees.

Look up videos by Rippetoe. He is controversial for advanced lifters, but for beginners he is a good resource. He is also a huge advocate of the low bar squat, and he has a video on Vimeo where he talks for several minutes in detail about positioning the bar for the low bar squat. Get the bar position correct, and the squat will take care of itself.

There is very high chance that you were not performing squats properly. Tiny deviations in squat form can mean the difference between a PR and knee pain for me.

Could be the meniscus. MRI might help to figure out what is going on. Just my 2 cents.

Where is the knee pain, what type of squat are you doing and to what depth?

The knee pain is just below or possibly right under the kneecap. I try to go to parallel, even though the deeper I go the more likely one of my knees is to crap out. I'm doing regular squats AFAIK, not box squats or anything out of the ordinary. I've worked on my posture, and gotten people to critique it at the gym.

Foam roll your quads (can be very painful at first), standing quad stretch after each squat session and at least once a day, low bar squat (less stressful on the knees than high bar or front squat), video tape yourself to be sure you are going to parallel (otherwise your hamstrings aren't balancing the force from your quads and your knees are stressed), be sure that your knees don't track forward at the bottom of the squat (stressful on the knees since you are removing tension on the hamstrings, see Rippetoe's terribly useful block of wood), knee wraps or knee sleeves can be helpful.

Squatting correctly is more nuanced that it would first appear. Starting Strength 3rd edition explains the mechanics of the squat in great detail and justifies why you should squat in a certain way.

Not everyone can squat but most people are just doing it wrong. It is such a useful exercise that you should be very sure that you actually can't before you give it up. You can get good critique of your form by posting a video at the starting strength forums where you might also find useful information from a search for patellar tendonitis/tendinitis.

Are you sure you're going below parallel on your squats?

I do BJJ as well and at my school we do tons of strength training as part of regular classes. Instead of squats with a barbell we use another person!

I've done the same thing. I've been doing primarily distance running for a while. I been taking a break because of my knee. Started doing ATG squats to strengthen my knees.

I'll plug Wendler's 5/3/1 as well. It's a great program once you've built even a minimal base. There's a plan in his book for beginners, too.

Wow, I'm reading through the page and can barely get through it because of the bravado. I don't want to "scare the other guys in the gym" or "need a secretary to organize my dating life" all because I won't "lose an arm-wrestling contest to a girl".

I know I could just look past that but it seems like that attitude might pervade the design of the workout. What if I just want to be healthy and symmetrical with good posture and strong without being "rock-hard" and "ripped" which would turn off my girlfriend anyway?

Just read the link and decide for yourself. I encourage you to give it a shot. Stronglifts 5x5 is very far from deserving of the bravado accusation you make. You start out on this program with a humble empty bar and work your way up. There's no bravado, no flash, no rock hard pump you up crap. Being suspicious is healthy, but read the actual content on either Stronglifts 5x5 or Starting Strength before you criticize their content.

I'm going to look into this. I'm halfway through p90x (again) and starting to feel really beat up, instead of really great.

This is where I usually get some kind of injury with p90x. Actually, just yesterday I think I pulled my trap a bit. Now it hurts to hold my left arm out (as if reaching to shake someone's hand).

Anyway, I work out for surfing. I'm happy with the p90x results, but again, starting to feel 10 years older than I really am at this point and I don't like that. I should mention, I'm doing everything possible with supplements, nutrition, stretching, and rest to fix that.

How do you feel on the stronglifts program after some time? Are you frequently sore, tight, etc...? Is it more/less injury prone than other workouts? Thanks!

I'm not the parent, but I'll reply too. I did SL 5x5 for a year, and then moved on to other strength programs. I'm young (20), so my results may not carry over to yours, but I found that SL was great for me. I definitely felt better after every workout, and in general felt a lot more energy. I felt sore after the first two workouts, but that dissipated very quickly. I've also fixed my posture (I've had TSA agents compliment my posture... not sure how I feel about that), feel much stronger day to day, and fixed some back pain.

As for tightness and injury... I think a crucial and under-stated facet of strength training is that when you are strength training, the pre-eminent concern is good form. Until you are competing and meets, there's no reason to focus strictly on lifting the highest possible weight. In fact, there is no time pressure, you have plenty of time to set up and rest after sets, no one is watching you, nothing to cause you to sacrifice your form. I just set up slowly, made sure I was confident for every lift, and tried as hard as I could to make each lift go through the full range of motion. It was a surprisingly slow-and-contemplative process (and workouts for me were about an hour each). As a result, I didn't find myself any tighter/less flexible, and I haven't gotten injured. I see a few friends get injured, but they also tend to be the friends who sacrifice form for weight-on-bar most often. There's no need to do that if you just check your ego at the door.

Point is, all sports can lead to injury. But strength training is naturally suited to making that easy to avoid.

I found that I burned out on P90X: the combination of a busy schedule already plus additional food prep time (I tried to follow the menu plan exactly) meant that I sacrificed sleep. And if you're doing intense workouts, sleep is very important. I could probably do it fine on a more relaxed schedule with an eat-healthy-but-don't-follow-the-meal-plan-exactly approach.

With Stronglifts, it's every other day for about 45 minutes including a bit of warm-up time. So far, this has proven to be a great pace for me as it allows me to still be quite busy with work, etc. while allowing sufficient time to recover in the off days.

Soreness is seriously not a problem. That's because you start with (the very humbling) empty bar, and add only 5lbs each workout. Eating is key-- the progression and ease of working out is noticeably easier when eating a lot of protein. But even though you're doing squats a lot, and exercises that hit your back, it actually feels good, like you're doing what your body was made for, rather than bad.

I used to be a competitive ski racer. p90x is basically the same workout we did for cross-training with more pull-ups and less weight training; it's a weird result. You get fitter but at least in my case you don't really feel awesome; you can just do things you couldn't before on the hill.

Weight training actually helps prevent injuries. If you don't have that as a part of your routine, you should add it.

As long as everyone's throwing in their experiences:

I'm a fan of body weight exercises; no equipment needed (beyond things like a door or a table). I started with Mark Lauren's book [0], which has a set of 10 week programs and lots of exercises to choose from. I could probably plan my own program now, but it was good to have a start to learn exercises beyond the basic push ups and sit ups (although you can get along way with those), particularly (for me) lower body ones like squats and lunges.

[0] http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Your-Own-Gym/dp/0345528581

I'm currently doing the 4 hour body workout which sounds similar. I've always been in pretty good shape but after trying some of these 30 minute workouts 3 days a week, I'm a firm believer that you don't need to be spending hours in the gym everyday mindlessly going through the repetitions like a lot of people are led to believe.

The page you link to looks a bit like typical internet marketing sales letter spam so I'm a bit skeptical of it, but I'll give the download a try.

Lifting also encourages proper posture and stretching, both of which work -wonders-. :) I'll have to look into this program, though, haven't heard of it before!

Look into Mark Ripptoe. He is the beginners bible and also offers ways to venture into more advance stuff if you choose to.

I too feel better than I ever have physically.

StrongLifts is basically Starting Strength repackaged for easier consumption with better marketing. For beginners, both will do a great job of getting you in shape, but reading Ripptoe's books is a must for getting into anything more advanced.

Manohar Aich would aggree with you. He was still training at 99 years old: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/18/indian-mr-univer...

I've been lifting since High School and the best program that I've found is P90X. If you want to start, but you don't understand fitness and/or dieting, it is a great place to start.

If you get bored easily and have finished P90X, then move on to Cross Fit. You can easily substitute workout days that don't require equipment for days that do.

In HS we did a variant of Strong lifts, the core lifts are great if you want to bulk up, but if you just want to get strong and tone, I'd suggest finding something else. I don't like to do the Olympic lifts only. I know you get a lot of muscles from them but I think everyone needs other exercise too (running, pullups, swimming, biking, etc.)

It does depend on your goals. I know many people who do starting strength because they are primarily runners, swimmers, etc.

I'm doing a bit of everything now. Olympic lifts, a couple isolations, P90x, HIIT, running, biking, pull/push ups, and yoga (which I think is very important to overall fitness). I want to add swimming into that and attempt a tri.

If you only do Stronglifts or Starting Strength, you'll only accomplish what those programs are for, seems like a no brainer, but some people fail to realize this. Also, some people don't realize how much diet impacts all of these things.

30 year old trying to get in shape here. Thanks for the info!

Come join us on /r/fitness (Reddit)!

Another great forum for strength and conditioning is the S&C sub-forum at http://mma.tv Or at least it used to be, I haven't logged on for some time, but at one time there were a lot of very knowledgeable folks on there sharing and trading advice and info. There was a good mix of people who were, for example, in college studying Kinesiology and who had a very scientific focus, professional trainers of MMA fighters, various athletes who train themselves (mostly MMA guys, for obvious reasons), etc. Some of the arguments could get pretty heated, but it's a good community of people who really care about strength and conditioning / health and fitness.

May you describe exactly what type of equipment do I have to buy? Dumb it down, please.

To get started with home weightlifting, you want an Olympic barbell, rubber "bumper plate" type weights, and a squat stand. If you have the room a squat cage and a bench are also useful.

It is important to note that this is a study of people who happened to be stronger, not people who were randomly caused to be stronger (ie by randomly assigning workout routines). Larry Wassermann has a great write up on the distinction with regards to inferring causation vs association here:


It is good that they attempted to control for things like cardiovascular fitness but on there are also confounding factors like genetics and selection bias that are harder to look at (ie maybe the genetic variants that make it easier to build fast twitch muscles are what has the protective effect and increased strength training won't help someone without those genes).

That being said I highly endorse bouldering and rock climbing in general as a way to build strength and move towards a healthy life style for people who don't enjoy typical gym workouts.

I used to dabble with some amateur powerlifting (I could deadlift 420 and squat about 340 at my peak), and I have to say, there's something really addictive about lifting weights and getting stronger. Knowing that it can decrease your chance of death makes it even more compelling.

Sadly, I, like so many other people, "fell off the wagon" and more or less quit lifting, gained a bunch of weight, and now, a few years later, I find out I'm diabetic and I wind up in the hospital with a life-threatening condition known as DKA.

Moral of this story: Get your ass in a gym and lift some weights! And step away from the buffet table. Don't be stupid like me. Especially for the younger folks here, and the people who are already in good shape, if you ever take one bit of advice from an "old guy" take this one: Take care of your body. When you're 20, even 30, it's real easy to assume that you don't have to worry about your diet, about exercise, etc... it all seems to come so easily, and it's SO easy to rationalize not going to the gym, eating that extra Snickers bar, drinking those couple of extra cans of Coke, etc. Don't do it. It will freaking catch up with you, sooner or later. Don't wait until you're 40 and lying in a hospital bed to think "Oh, maybe I should clean my diet up and get some exercise".

Forgive the fact it comes from a shameless marketer. I've always thought "panic early" was good advice, though:


Forgive the fact it comes from a shameless marketer.

Why would that be something that should be forgiven? Marketing is awesome, and I - for one - am a huge Seth Godin fan.

Great article, too. That's a great point about "panic when there's still time to do something about it". You should probably submit that to HN as a standalone submission, actually.

The most statistically astute comment posted here so far is the top-level comment by micro_cam


pointing out that the study design here doesn't involve random assignment to strength training of any kind, but rather just observation of the study population over time. Sure, it's a good idea to be stronger rather than weaker. Moreover, it is plausible that exercises that tend to develop strength (as measured in the study) have health benefits above and beyond merely developing strength. There is certainly no reason not to exercise based on this finding. But there is also not a strong reason to predict a longer rather than shorter life from your personal strength measurement, even though the study did the usual kind of regression analysis to control for other independent variables. Simply put, this was not a treatment-control study design,



so no inference of causation is supported here. The authors were careful to write the word "association" (which is honest), and the authors were careful to investigate all-cause mortality in this study population (which is thoughtful), but we don't know yet how much you or I can improve individual lifespan by doing strength-building exercises.

AFTER EDIT: The comment by micro_cam, which deserves your upvote for getting me started on my comment, is especially astute because it mentions that this was not a genetically sensitive study design. To answer the question posed in one of the replies this comment received, that will eventually be an issue worth looking at, which sorts of "endophenotypes" gain the most benefit from what sort of exercise. But we are nowhere near that level of precision of investigation yet. The statement about limitations of the study at the end of the submitted article mentions more issues.

Picking up on something I learned from the late Richard Feynman's comments on the Challenger explosion investigation, I would like to see a scatterplot of these data displayed over the calculated regression line, to see how much uncertainty still surrounds their model. As it is, the confidence intervals around the death rates for different categories of strength overlap considerably, so there are some strong people with the same mortality risk as some of the weaker people.

From a Bayesian perspective, you should have had a high prior that lifting weights will cause an in increase your longevity because of several plausible mechanisms, and this study should slightly increase your posterior probability for that causation. Limiting your understanding of the causations of things only to those things which have had interventionist studies performed on them will have a very deleterious effect on your life, with high probability. No one has performed an interventionist study on basically anything in macroeconomics, politics, relationships, English literature, history or just about anything else, so I hope that you apply the same understanding to all of those fields as you do to the field of health and simply throw your hands up in the air when asked if "cheating causes divorces" or "yelling racial epithets causes a lack of re-election."

And please don't After Edit me, I find it patronizing.

While this is an application of Bayes' theorem it isn't what a statistician would consider a good Bayesian analysis.

Nate Silver's book and xkcd have confused this issue but a bayesian does not generally make strong assumptions about a prior distribution.

A Bayesian can make strong assumptions about the hierarchical structure of probability distributions linking the paramaters/priors to the observations. Frequently she will then use uninformative prior distributions (like a really broad normall) on the paramaters of interest to avoid confirmation bias and combat overfitting when doing inference.

The debate between modern frequentists (like Larry Wassermann whose blog I linked) and bayesians (like Andrew Gelman) has more to do with weather analysis done with an assumed hierarchical model is a good idea. Everyone recognizes that bayes' theorem is valid and priors are a usable tool at this point.

I understand that in the context of professional applications of statistics, such as when writing research papers, professional statisticians often use uninformative priors. I'm not talking about professional statistics, and I'm not talking about the supposed debate between "frequentists" and "Bayesians." I'm talking about how an individual lives their life, sample size: one. The Earth doesn't have enough resources to answer every question of cause and effect that will come up in your life. For the vast majority of these questions, you will use a three pound mass of mostly fat to determine causation. Teaching that mass of fat that credible mechanisms of action and pre-existing information provides prior context for evaluating newly received information helps it not to discard valuable insight.

If you provided me research that showed, weakly, that using racial epithets did not affect a politicians chances of re-election (in relevant countries and scenarios, etc.), I would not discard my existing prior that it does, and I would be right to do so. But I would keep it in mind for the next round of evidence in the event I could be wrong.

In this case, no professional statistican is going to perform a Bayesian analysis to tell you the probability that making yourself stronger will cause a decrease in your all-cause mortality. No one is going to aggregate that information and tell YOU what YOU need to do, in this case as in so many others. But there is enough information that you should nonetheless, and this study, like it or not, does add to that information, not detract from it.

P.S.: I disagree with using uninformative priors except when they are warranted. This is how alternative medicine masquerades as "Evidence-based Medicine."

Criticism regarding association, while valid, is largely irrelevant.

You need to understand that a clinical trial on this matter is nearly impossible.

1) Imagine the cost of holding a clinical trial over 20 years.

2) Imagine the difficulty of trying to get people to adhere to a workout routine for 20 years!

3) Given what we already know, it's probably unethical to tell a control group not to exercise or build significant muscle strength.

4) Finally, even if you work out all the issues above, imagine trying to get funding for a hugely expensive study trying to answer the question of whether strength training lowers these risks when it's already widely regarded as healthy.

The researchers are very aware of the limitations, so they went to great lengths to exclude the most likely confounding variables.

> there are also confounding factors like genetics and selection bias

To be more accurate, these are potential confounding variables. It's very possible that the association would hold up if we could adjust for these variables, too.

Causation here is not proven, that's true, but taken together with everything else we know, it does strengthen the case. E.g. we can independently explain the mechanism whereby the heart is strengthened by resistance training. I'm not an expert in either cancer or heart disease, but I would love to hear whether we can explain the mechanism of action already.

First, I believe that strength training is good for you and do a ton of it in the form of rock climbing.

As a scientist I dislike the trend of observational studies getting massive press (see associations between Wine, Coffee, Chocolate etc and health/lifespan) because, as you say, we are doing (and should be funding more) studies on some of the underlying mechanisms but it is difficult to summarize them in a punchy headline.

There are have also been some really elegantly designes observational studies that use comparisons between family members, twins or features of the population to reduce bias in an ethical way.

You'll see no argument from me there. Understanding underlying mechanisms requires a degree of systemic knowledge far beyond that needed for an observational study, which is one reason we see far fewer of them. The other reason is funding. We are just beginning to understand how the brain works, and for one of the most promising and important areas of research it's remarkably poorly funded.

But doesn't that make a "study" like this just a sugarcoated lie?

Arguing that something is true because it is too difficult to research the subject properly seems just wrong on so many levels.

I find research ideologies like this at its very core highly dishonest. Sure, people who are really into the subject and methodology understand a study's limitations. But all it does is leading on the media to hype one week the story "A makes you live longer" and another month later "A makes you die faster".

Can you list some things that weren't controlled for that you think would lead to both increased one rep max and longer life expectancy?

As Edward Tufte says, "Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint." That increased strength improves life expectancy should be the null hypothesis. At least at the one end, extreme frailty is a common eye test for poor health. Since this isn't a scientific journal here, but a discussion, I think most of us would agree that stronger people often have more resources to ward off disease, cope with temporary reductions in nutrient bioavailability longer, can defend themselves from threats more easily, and can avoid more dangerous falls by maintaining their center of balance. And that's not a comprehensive list.

Personally, I'm satisfied that increased strength reduces all cause mortality and I believe the link is strong enough to be actionable now. I'm an evangelist for it among my older friends and relatives. One way strength reduces deaths is by preventing common injuries, e.g., falling and breaking a hip. A recent study showed that a simple graded test of sitting on the ground to standing could differentiate mortality risk sharply. While we can't measure how much strength and how many years it adds, not least because that's just a vague question, the link here was almost an order of magnitude from the lowest grade to the highest grade for one repetition of standing from the ground.



The big issue is sub populations. I work on similar large studies including genomic data and it is quite frequent to see associations of the form "central americans have a lower rate of disease x" and "central americans have a higher rait of factor y."

This produces a statistical association but, especially with genomic factors, factor y can just be something that randomly identifies the group.

Similarly in this data set you might find a group of people who have higher strength because of genomic factors that make it easier for them to build strength from the same workouts as "normall" people. These people might also come from a subpopulation (farm famlies, people of Slavic heritage who knows) that has lower rates of cancer for genomic or cultural reasons. Even a small number of such people can make the association look significant though it will disappear once you remove them.

It could also be something like a certain food or diet making it both easier to build strength and preventing cancer.

There are extremely good reasons, aside from this study, to think increased strength would improve life expectancy.

This is also true for endurance running, wine, coffee, beer, olive oil, eating lots of meat, not eating lots of meat etc.

No, the evidence for each of those is far more limited, ambiguous, and in one case contradictory. You would not advise your parents to maintain strength enough to stand because only prospective studies link standing strength to longevity?

The first example I can understand, but I am not following you with the rest.

They are all things that have been shown to extend lifespan in various studies in the past few years. Some of these studies were observational like this, some where done by giving mice ridiculous doses etc but they all got picked up by the media.

Some of these results are probably valid but if you want to scientifically extend your life you need to do so with statistical rigor.

Show me a rigorous study demonstrating that one can only lengthen their lifespan by making decisions based on evidence at the level you demand.

I don't believe you make every, or even remotely close to most of your decisions in daily life by this standard. Human brains aren't designed to and don't have the energy to do so.

No I don't...I take my doctors advise but I also exercise and eat well because I enjoy it.

However, in my job, I analyze large medical datasets. You will understand if I get a bit pedantic about such things.

Doing some strength training is a probable plus on several fronts with few risks. However if I am advising doctors or the presidential physical fitness council to recommend strength training vs endurance training vs focusing on diet on an institutional level I need to look at the evidence for each with more rigor.

Stop smoking, buckle your seatbelt, lose a few pounds and take tons of Vitamin D. Everything else is conjecture.

There was a recent study which found that running only increased life expectancy if you were running 10-20miles (or km, memory hazy) per week. More than that and life expectancy decreased again.

So endurance running, which I would guess you would categorise as marathon+ will decrease your life expectancy.

Edit: /s/will/could Depending on how much running you already do.

Running 4 hours per week for 20 years will add 6 months to your expected lifespan. However, those 6 months will have been entirely spent running. So, plan accordingly.

Exercise demands time so in terms of increased life expectancy versus time spent exercising it's probably a wash. Speaking personally though, I feel awesome when I exercise regularly, and when I don't, I don't.

Exercise for higher quality of life and a better looking body, the longevity benefits are overrated.

You shouldn't forget to compare general health of one who runs versus one who doesn't. Not only just wellbeing, but sick days (missed on income), medical bills etc.

That is kind of my point. Everyone thought running was good but more rigorous analysis showed that it is not that simple.

You are of course talking about monkey bar fighting over a pit of snakes, right?

This is the problem with all cohort studies. Since there aren't strong controls, you can't determine causality.

Fundamentally, this is why we know get consistently conflicting advice about nutrition: we take cohort studies as law instead of using them to form hypotheses that are tested with well controlled experiments.

"which sorts...gain the most benefit from what sort of exercise" is really key.

An active area of research for me is analyzing (multivariate non linear) regression models to characterize sub populations in which an observed effect is strong or weak for large genomic studies. Correlations, p-values and univariate linear models are frustratingly insufficient in many cases and effects seen across the entire population may lead to recommendations that are bad for a large numer of people.

(I'm not saying everyone shouldn't go step away from the keyboard and move some iron...just talking stats.)

Hand grip strength. Pretty much all other measures of frailty - such as muscle mass. Time spent jogging. Time spent not sitting. Time spent being active.

All of these correlate well with mortality. Causation is harder to prove on these longer timescales. e.g. more likely to be strong and exercising because you are more robust, or more likely to be more robust because you are strong and exercising. Or if both, as is likely, to what degree and circumstance.

Is it being strong, or is it side effects of processes that are involved in building and maintaining muscle mass the old fashioned way - e.g. hormetic effects of regular exercise, that cause mild cellular stress and thus boost housekeeping processes to better maintain tissue?

Studies in shorter lived animals support causative roles for exercise and maintained muscle mass in long term health. For other data points, one could look at, for example, the fact that calorie restriction (not normally noted in conjunction with building strength) considerably reduces age-related loss of muscle mass and strength through a range of not fully understood mechanisms.

A scientific article with a funny title on this subject is "How fast does the Grim Reaper walk?" (http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d7679)

In their study, no over 70 years old who had a walking speed of over 1.36 m/s (about 5 km/hour) died. That makes them conclude that that must be the grim reaper's top speed.

I think the calorie restriction studies deserve scrutiny. Do people who practice calorie restriction live longer compared to otherwise fit, healthy people who do not practice it? Or do they just live longer compared to the average (which includes a significant component of obese and/or diabetic over-eaters)?


This article actually answers both your questions:

""" One reason for that difference could be that the WNPRC monkeys were fed an unhealthy diet, which made the calorie-restricted monkeys seem healthier by comparison simply because they ate less of it. The WNPRC monkeys’ diets contained 28.5% sucrose, compared with 3.9% sucrose at the NIA. Meanwhile, the NIA meals included fish oil and antioxidants, whereas the WNPRC meals did not. Rick Weindruch, a gerontologist at the WNPRC who led the study, admits: “Overall, our diet was probably not as healthy.” """

So, monkeys on a calorie restricted diet are not healthier than monkeys on a healthy, unrestricted diet, but are healthier than monkeys on a diet of monkey junk food.

That's the question. Actually, it is not clear that calorie restriction increases human lifespans. It works really well with fruit flies and rodents, but monkey results are mixed. I don't know if there is any direct evidence of calorie restriction increasing lifespans in humans. Actually, practicing calorie restriction when young can affect development and practicing it when old might also be dangerous due to low BMI or bone loss. And if muscle is independently associated with mortality in men then losing muscle due to controlled starvation might not be helpful either.

Calorie restriction has a far better effect on human health for average, healthy people than any other presently available tool, technique, or medical technology. That's a definitive statement that can be made from results of the existing studies, such as those under the CALERIE program.




There are no human longevity studies for the obvious reasons. The current consensus is that it won't add more than a few years to life. If it did reliably add to longevity to a significant degree, we'd already know about it for one, and secondly there are a range of evolutionary arguments for why CR produces larger effects on life span in shorter-lived species - since it evolved to adapt to famine (~= weather) conditions, which come and go on a fixed timescale depending on their cause, not one that is relative to species longevity.

Reconciling tremendous proven health benefits versus little extension of life span is one of those interesting sidebars that will fall out of the scientific process at some point.

Indeed! If you actually had the time to look for studies correlating "calorie restriction without exercise" vs "exercise only" vs both with morbidity, please share a few links of what you've found.

Don't forget carbohydrates restriction. Calories are not all the same.

In plain English: stronger people live longer.

> In plain English: stronger people live longer.

You'll never get follow-up funding with a title like that.

Why not? Do you need to say something confusing stated in esoteric medical terms?

You do when you're looking for funding.

"If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit"

If you present your paper "Healthy men who engage in a well rounded exercise regimen live longer, healthier lives" everyone is just going to go "well duh."

People in this literature will not have any problem understanding the jargon used here, and it's all meaningful, so this isn't at all a case of "baffle them with bullshit."

You almost certainly use some kinds of technical jargon at your job, there is no need for this weird anger about research scientists using jargon in the same way.

"Well duh" does not count as evidence for a claim, and the claim wasn't about a well-rounded exercise regimen but was rather more specific.

Have you ever read an explanation of a compiler or concurrency using only the 1000 most common English words? It can be done (and I wish I could find the link), but there's a reason we don't talk like that, and neither should scientists.

Not a compiler, but more or less the same idea: Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity/In Words of Four Letters or Less: http://www.muppetlabs.com/~breadbox/txt/al.html

Sometimes scientists can, and we should.

Simple precision is good.

I think it's a great exercise--you will learn something if you try it. But you lose so much precision, and you wouldn't want to make that your normal way of speaking.

You do. Using a language that only other scientists like yourself understand is a way to prove that you belong to that community and that the unwashed masses need to fund your research further because it's obviously serious stuff that mere mortals can not begin to comprehend.

The people from whom you would get funding would understand the technical jargon of the field. Nobody is getting funded just for being so confusing that nobody can understand.

Look above the grant committee that decides how the allocated funds will be distributed and you'll find clueless people[1][2].

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57577567/obama-brain-ini...

[2] http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-54_en.htm

Thank you. I believe the article's TLDR said it in about the most confusing way possible "Muscular strength is inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer in men".

Or targeted for popular consumption: Strong men are hard to kill

I'm glad you wrote this comment. I was coming here to say my booze addled brain couldn't figure that bmj page out

but is it because they are stronger, or because they have a healthier life in general, filled with more exercise than average? I mean, is the effect the same for 100m runners (=strength) and 10000m runners (=less pure strength)?

They corrected for "age, physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, body mass index, baseline medical conditions, and family history of cardiovascular disease" and cardiorespiratory fitness.

I don't understand how they do that (never been into statistics); suppose two persons are alike for the above factors, and they do the same amount of training, but one trains for muscle strength and the other to be able to do longer runs. Does this study conclude then that the first one is likely to outlive the second one?

Thank you.

Why are so many people discussing the evidence here?

If one seriously believes the BMJ would let a questionable study be published, think again. I'm not saying everything that is published in high quality peer reviewed journals is absolutely true, but it is subject to so much scrutiny that is unlikely to have an evident flaw in the reasoning, or at least some that is not properly mentioned in the article or letters to the editor.

Which leads us back to why are so many here angry at the conclusion - because many answer seem emotionally charged.

Among the tools offered to you to try to increase your lifespan, and especially the "high quality" years, is physical effort.

There is even a very positive message there - you don't have to be in a perfect physical form, or do sports, to get the gains- muscle mass alone is enough.

If you have had health problem, say broken bones, reduce mobility, pain, whatever, you can still get some of the positive advantages of muscle mass with weight training - which can be done at home, in a gym, anywhere.

You may not get as much benefits as somebody fully healthy (ex: if you hip is not working, it will be a problem to train both legs, etc.) but it is still better than nothing!!!

Exercice, as in improving the muscle mass, is well known to have positive health effects. If one does not exercise, the blame is not to be put on the lack of time, but rather on the lack of proper prioritization.

I'd like to point out that when looking only at persons aged <60 OR persons with a BMI >25, the strongest (upper) third group did NOT have the lowest death rate in this study. Instead it was the "middle" group in both cases. Admittedly with not much of a difference from the upper group. And again, this study did not claim causation between strength and mortality, but association.

Although if we just play with the thought and assume a causation between strength and mortality and if you are under 60 years of age or have a BMI over 25 and you want to minimize your mortality rate, your one-repetition maximum (1RM) strength goals in a lifting weight / body weight ratio would be x:

  Bench press: 0.7 < x < 1.1
  Leg press: 1.4 < x < 1.9

I've never been one for strength training. I just like to run really hard for a short period of time... Guess I will need to change that.

Well it depends on how hard and how long you run. Sprinting is one of the best muscle building activities you can do.

I thought it was crazy to try, but I swear it's added 50lbs to my deadlift with one sprint work out a week for 3 months.

Going from 475 to 525 is a pretty incredible increase in my deadlift considering I was adding about 5lbs a month before.

I'd just like to add that while running is great, one of the most effective forms of running is HIITs (High Intensity Interval Training). Basically, you run at maximum speed (80-100% of your capacity) for short bursts (10-15 seconds when you're starting out), and at about 50-60% for the warm-up and cool-down periods before and after (around 2 minutes) [1]. You do a total of about 20 minutes of this (and believe me, this will destroy you the first few times).

The results are drastic, and unlike with marathon running, you don't lose muscle, instead you gain it.

You lose fat FAST and gain strength in the process [2]. Can't recommend it enough!

Note: I thought that EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) meant you burnt calories for the next 24 hours, but that's possibly not as significant as it appears :( [3]

[1]: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=... [2]: http://greatist.com/fitness/complete-guide-interval-training... [3]: http://ca.askmen.com/sports/bodybuilding_900/962_popular-met...

I'm quite capable of running a half-marathon and decided to try the HIITs. They were terrible for me. My knees couldn't handle the added stress, and I had to give up HIIT and go back to 'regular' training. I'll certainly grant that it was an interesting training technique, though, and I can well see that it would be good for most people.

My knees couldn't handle the added stress

This. I didn't know what HIIT was, but I figured out something like it for my daily exercise. Result was repeated shin-splits and painful knee injuries

You may want to try and find specific excercises to improve your joint-stabilizing muscles - even something very simple like http://archive.mensjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/picture-81... should allow your body to do higher intensities safely.

Agreed, sprinting can be considered a form of HIIT if you squint enough:). It might not have the sustained 50% intervals but sprinting is definitely a 90% effort activity.

Interestingly, this is what Bruce Lee advocated too.

I've found the same thing, if you do a repetitive workout for too long you miss a lot of the other muscles that you need to train, so switching it up for a few months or adding complexity to a workout can help boost your gains.

Actually, you're doing it right


Or just compare 100m competitors with marathon competitors for muscle mass

The body type of world class 100m competitors is due to genetics and steroids. Sprint workouts don't make people muscular. Muscular guys gravitate towards those events. Also, HIIT workouts are nothing like what 100m runners do to train.

You can be pretty sure that marathon runners are using PEDs too.

PED drugs yes, anabolic steroids no

The primary effect of anabolic steroids is to reduce recovery times. Bodybuilders get so big on them not because they magically make you bigger but because they let you train incredibly hard.

Long distance runners do use anabolic steroids amongst other PEDs. [1]

"For example, Lyubov Denisova tested positive for Prostanozol and Testosterone in 2007. She has won the Honolulu and Los Angeles marathons and has been 2nd place at New York."

Prostanozol is an anabolic steroid.

[1] http://www.runningahead.com/forums/post/d63143aa7f5246359388...

I am aware of the effects of AEs

In fact, the regimen of muscle fatigue/recovery is different between endurance sports and 'strength' sports

A marathonist is not limited by his/her muscle mass. A strength athlete is.

Yes, some marathonists may use AEs, but it's much rarer than other PED (like EPO, HGH - which also helps with recovery, blood doping, etc)

Prostanozol is actually a "prodrug" (yes, it is an AE). "Prodrug" usually means more liver damage and less results than a proper AE cycle (as it's called) and there are better alternatives.

I love interval training. Whether it's a highly-structured protocol (maybe Tabata) or more of a Fartlek approach, it's a blast. The approach I find to be both a lot of fun, and very productive, is to do a sort of Fartlek approach (with, say, running, or working on the elliptical trainer) where I put my ogg player on "shuffle" and let the song dictate my intensity. Certain songs ("Kickstart my Heart" by Motley Crue for example) just demand extreme exertion... other times you get something a little more chill ("Lights" by Journey, maybe) where you just cruise for a while.

This study includes aerobic work as part of strength training:

"These results highlight the importance of having at least moderate levels of both muscular strength and cardiorespiratory fitness to reduce risk of death from all causes and cancer in this population of men."

The feedback from this comment has been amazing. You are all awesome.

Thanks for sharing your sprinting knowledge.

My workout usually includes a 5 minute warm up period, followed by about 15 minutes of running as fast as I can that day. From there I usually hit the bike for a cool down and to burn extra calories.

I never did this on purpose. I did it because I love the feeling of having your heart in your throat. Apparently I am not the only one.

Thanks again!

I'm not a scientist, and this is wild conjecture, but one possible reason why people who workout live longer is that working out boosts happiness (releases endorphins) and reduces stress, and both of those have been shown to contribute to a long life.

Related brain-snack concerning muscle tissue and cancer: http://www.ted.com/talks/eva_vertes_looks_to_the_future_of_m...

From it: "skeletal muscle tissue is resistant to cancer, and furthermore, not only to cancer, but of metastases going to skeletal muscle" (not entirely true, you have rhabdomiosarcomas, though they are rare and may originate in connective tissues, but she's definetely on to something).

I would guess its almost all because of the hormone myostatin. It's a negative growth regulator in muscle (perhaps other tissues as well). Myostatin is precisely why our muscles don't grow wildly out of control, and why it is so hard to grow a significant amount of muscle. Cell growth is tightly controlled by the level of myostatin and the levels of positive growth regulators. I wonder if myostatin or an analogue could have an affect as an anti-cancer compound.

To quote my wife (Biostatistics grad student), "The confidence intervals for cancer deaths are wussy."

Was thinking of putting together a HN/Digg style site for fitness links (example here: http://erikaugust.com/sportslinks/)... Good idea? Or am I missing a site out there already (outside of the sub-Reddits)?

Why "outside of the sub-Reddits"? Are they missing something you can offer?

I'm only peripherally aware of the scene, but I know there's at least 3 massive, established online social fitness communities, for links and otherwise:




One important thing to keep in mind is that the upper third average bench press measured was 83.8kg (~185lbs). That is still a light bench press by the standards of those in the fitness and bodybuilding industries. I would imagine that there is a limit to the longevity gains that could be made from muscle strength and that these gains might start to reverse for bodybuilders and other strength athletes due to the increased strain it is putting on your heart and other organs.

That is PURE speculation on your part.

Why would the added "stress" on heart and other organs all of a sudden become harmful?

You aren't supporting that whatsoever.

Just in case after reading this you want to start exercising, I strongly suggest the following two resources:

* http://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/wiki/faq

* http://simplesciencefitness.com/

I have been doing strength training for a couple of years now and I can ensure you that it changed my life: better health, better quality of life, better code (I'm more focused).

I'd be much more interested in the same study without adjusting for BMI, because adding muscular strength would increase one's weight when not accomplished by reduction in body fat. As it stands, it's not controversial or surprising, because body fat loss would make you stronger relative to your BMI, without any increase in strength.

The writing in these research briefs is horrible. It's nearly impossible to even deduce what point they're trying to make.

Seems like "Association between muscular atrophy and mortality in men" would be more accurate and clear.

Published 2008? Hacker News seems to be developing a strong interest in fitness and weight lifting.

Fitness and strength training are extremely important for everyone.

What about the risk of osteoarthritis? See this discussion: http://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/comments/s2kzg/my_doctor_tol...

I have an osteoarthritic left knee. In my case the underlying cause was a misfiring vastus medialis, possibly due to an acquired trigger point.

It would have happened simply by walking around as a fat guy.

I get synvisc injections every 6 months and I've returned to training. Trigger point therapy seems to do the rest.

Starting Strength is one of the best books on building strength, written by Mark Rippetoe and Jason Kelly. they propagate (among others exercises): squats, which is a single exercise that trains about 60% of your body.

"We love CrossFit. It is great job security." - my physical therapist

edit: my point being that from the PT's POV, the more intense the strength training, the more likely a serious injury will occur during training.

It's well known in weight-lifting circles that CrossFit is rife with problems. Intense strength training does not correlate with increased injury; bad form and instruction correlates with increased injury.

the more intense the strength training

Stop right there. Please don't conflate the scamish, lets forget form and get our clients hurt XFitters with actual strength training (which I've never seen an XFitter do). XFit is great that it excites some people who would not normally work out, but its execution leaves a lot to be desired.

It's likely that healthier people are stronger on average....hence getting stronger by doing strength training will not change things.

So you are saying you didn't read the paper or abstract. They sort of covered that entire topic. This is about strength not "health", they took that into account in the study.

You can't be serious. Took it into account? Before accusing people of not reading, consider they read it more closely than you. A study isn't "covering [an] entire topic" by just mentioning the word "confounding" and throwing a few possibilities of easily measurable factors around. This study is downright pathetic.

By taking it into account, they probably excluded people with medical issues that would skew the results. The study isn't perfect, so this guy has a point: People with genes that make them naturally strong may have related genes that contribute to their overall health. And the converse may be true for weak people.

There is no such thing as naturally strong... there might be some genetics in how quickly you can gain muscle strength but no one is born strong. To think of it conversely, if a limb becomes paralyzed, that limb will undergo extreme muscle atrophy no matter who it is. Also, they listed as a mean 83kg for bench press for the "upper third". This is not a very large amount of weight and is easily within the genetic limits of the grand majority of men.

The rationalization of a weak man?

here is my 2 cents. Im a coder, developer but I am ripped (sorry for the self love) I work out like crazy and actively surf / kitesurf, rockclimb. So my gym sessions have always had a purpose - to make myself stronger per the requirements of those sports. So my 2 cents - get of the whey protein. don't take it do not touch it. I have no scientific evidence but way too many people are on that and no long term studies. Only evidence is this: A good friend fellow athlete (sailor olympic level windsurfer) healthy as none other, got a heart attack at the age of 33. He looked into my eyes and said he never took anything (when i asked if he doped of any sort) and he only took whey. Made me get off it. Difference in phenomenal. You get "cut" lean, stronger muscles, just eat well. Not to mention your body gets conditioned to the "easy" absorption of nutrients that come from whey and gets lazy. There thats my 2 cents.

TLDR - get of whey protein, you'll get stronger live longer.

Nice job, no scientific evidence, but your "friend" had a heart attack. Just pure amazing post my friend.

Oh, so I don't fall into the same trap, here are scientific studies in favor of Whey protein:


TLDR - http://s3.roosterteeth.com/images/Ataxx50e4c5160c877.jpg

Sorry, but this study is a joke. If you think this is a study that validates your belief go ahead. But I will take any seasoned athlete's take on something than a half assed study funded by who knows who. These things take years to prove and large studies over long periods of time. IF you want to justify your own whey protein habits with this thats just you.

> my 2 cents

means my two cents, you take it as you will. Hearing negative stuff is always hard but its the truth. So go looking around the internet for studies that are pro whey, and believe them and justify your habits and don't worry about my friend.

What do you mean by "this" study? I linked to page that linked to tons of studies, all with ratings on how well they did each study.

I think you need to figure out how to internet man, oh and s/of/off/ it is driving me nuts how ridiculous "get of whey" sounds.

did you actually take a look at any of the studies? Not a single study where n > 100, in fact average is around 30. This is not youtube, its HN so please save the dudebro commentary and insult tone to your normal domain.

Whey and creatine are the two most studied supplements in history, and both of them have reams of studies that support their use. There is simply no question that they are a benefit. And no, whey will not give you a heart attack. Now, you don't need whey to get big, but it is a supplement for those that are unable to eat enough protein through other means.

You were starting to touch on a really important point, and what ultimately is good advice: don't workout to get big, train to reach a goal. Take up a sport, and then workout to get better at that sport. This will give you the motivation to keep pushing yourself and helps stave off the inevitable boredom that doing the same thing day after day will bring.

Even in healthy atheletes theres always the risk of heart attack of even sudden cardiac arrest which is the most common reason of death in young athletes.

Doing excessive amounts of sports stops being healthy at some point but overall its still alot better than todo nothing of course. There was a guy on HN a c ouple of weeks ago that had a sudden cardiac arrest in the gym while running on the treadmill and he is 22 years old. He just survived because he was incredibly lucky.

Those cases are extremely rare of course, just saying that working out is not without risks, especially in pro athletes. Its never a bad idea to go see a cardiologist if you work out alot.

I climb 5.13+ and take whey protein every day. I am 43 years old. So there's my anecdotal evidence that it's good for you.

Do train at an indoor gym or mostly outdoors?

I train on a fingerboard mostly, and climb outside quite a lot during the season (which around here is basically April-October). If you are a relatively experienced climber with good movement, then fingerboarding is the secret sauce.

Some other training ideas: your finger extensors are extremely important and making them stronger will improve your contact strength (somewhat paradoxically). There are many exercises to improve them.

Also, work your entire hand, not just contact strength. I strongly (haha) recommend Captains of Crush grippers. They don't directly translate to climbing, but they will make you stronger and balance everything out.

As for a specific fingerboarding plan: google "Eva Lopez".

This is one of the dumbest things I have ever read on HN.

Correlation does not imply causataion.

OP made that crystal clear.

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