Archive for the ‘Masculinity’ Category
Q. I am extremely ectomorphic. My goal is to gain as much bulk as possible, but I don’t want to get too fat. I weigh about 155 and wish to get to about 185 in the next year. Should I be doing cardio along with my weight training?
A. I was in a very similar situation as you when I first started, although I was even skinnier if you could believe that! I weighed a paltry 125 lbs when I first wrapped my hands around a barbell! So, in other words, I feel your pain, and can fully appreciate your question. As for my response…I would have to say no, you should not do any cardio at this time. As an ectomorph struggling to add muscle and bodyweight the last thing you want to do is burn more calories and further increase your already racing metabolism through cardio. You want every calorie you ingest to be pointed toward muscle repair and growth, even if you store a little bodyfat along the way. The best way to avoid adding too much extra adipose tissue while gaining size is to make sure that you are eating a relatively clean high calorie diet. Try to get the bulk of your calories from foods like steak, eggs, milk, chicken, fatty fish, protein powders, rice, pasta, potatoes, whole grain breads, fruits and vegetables. While the occasional pizza, ice cream and pancakes will not hurt you, make foods like this the exception and not the rule. Another point about cardio and the ectomorph that I want to make is that in my experience, those with this body type tend to have more limited recovery ability than most…not as much in regards to individual muscles as to systemic recovery. This means that as an ectomorph, overtraining is more of a concern than with other body types. Thus, the addition of cardio on top of weight training is not a good idea for us naturally skinny types (at least in the early bulking stages), as too much exercise will make too far an inroad into our recovery ability, which will all but bring gains in muscle to a screeching halt!
So, my advice to you is to train hard and heavy no more than 4 days per week, eat at least 6 clean, high calorie meals per day, and to sleep 7-9 hours every night. That is your simple, yet most reliable equation for muscle growth.
For the first several years of my training I literally refused to wear wrist straps. I thought that only “girly (non-Alpha!)-men” wore them because they were too weak and lazy to take a good, solid grip on the bar. However, as I began to get stronger, primarily on back exercises, I started to notice that no matter how hard I tried, my grip would give out more quickly than the muscle(s) I was targeting. And that my friends a definite is a no-no! Thus, I reluctantly decided to give wrist straps a try and I was amazed at how much more weight I could lift and how much more productive so many exercises quickly became. In other words, NOT wearing wrist straps was hindering my overall muscle and strength development by limiting my intensity on several essential, basic movements such as bent rows, weighted pull-ups, deadlifts, upright rows, seated rows and DB rows. After just a few short months of implementing the use of lifting straps I absolutely noticed new width and thickness throughout my entire back, which changed my opinion that it is not “girly-men” that use straps, but “burly (True Alpha!)-men!” That said, I should point out that I use them primarily for pulling exercises and only for my heaviest sets. I do enjoy having a powerful grip, so I do not rely on straps for each and every working set. In addition I must mention that utilizing straps properly and efficiently takes some getting used to. There is a definite technique involved when securing wrist straps around a bar and feeling comfortable with them in your hand. Just do not give up and soon enough using straps will become second nature.
So there you have it my fellow Alpha Males (and females too!)…”just say YES to wrist straps!”
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Just over a year ago, I began training a 38 year old male who weighed 310 pounds. When I met him in person, I could see that he was hungry to make positive changes in his life. He had gotten to a point in his life, where he was clearly not happy about the way he looked and felt.
This was obviously having a major impact on both his personal life and his career. Although I saw his desire to change, I still wasn’t sure that he’s have the ability to truly buy in to the True Alpha program. I pull no punches and I expect my clients to give me their all. I wasn’t sure that he could give that to me.
Well, we began the program and as I expected, it was slow going for the first week. He had been sedentary for a while and I certainly didn’t want to rush into things, as I didn’t want to do any physical harm to my client by rushing the process.
We started off and again, Read the rest of this entry »
The September 27th issue of Newsweek features an article by writers Andrew Romano and Tony Dokoupil entitled, “Men’s Lib.” “What’s the matter with men?” the authors ask. “For years, the media have delivered the direst of prognoses. Men are ‘in decline.’ Guys are getting ‘stiffed.’ The ‘war on boys’ has begun. And so on.” They cite Hanna Rosin’s declaration about “The End of Men” in The Atlantic (fiercely dissected in this blog not long ago).
Without doubt, there’s a lot of confusion today about what a guy needs to do and be. Romano and Dokoupil criticize what they call displays of “throwback masculinity” such as rich urbanites strutting around in hunting gear. They’re right: we can’t retreat into the woods in deference to “some musty script” of manliness. The man for our times must be a man of our times, and changing gender roles can’t be ignored. We need to look forward, to evolve, to redefine our gender. But in ultimately suggesting that the solution lies only in embracing “girly jobs and dirty diapers,” the authors miss the point. Sure, men with children should strive to be good breadwinners and good parents. I can’t agree more! But so should women. Gender roles have neutralized in many ways and nobody should be afraid to change a diaper or do the carpooling. But that doesn’t help us define what masculinity is. If anything, by focusing on genderlessness, it just tells us what it’s not. Read the rest of this entry »
If he had, then I can guarantee you that Alpha Male Challenge would be a very different book! :(
Who the heck is John Kass? He’s a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Like me, he was inspired to write a column about that stupid Combos “America’s Manliest City” contest. The good news is that we both agree: it’s ridiculous to equate chomping ”hollow pretzels stuffed with a powdery ‘cheeze food’ product” with manliness.
The bad news? That’s about all we agree on. Suffice it to say, Kass’ definition of “manliness” is quite different from mine.
Ok, he’s a d00d and I’m not – so you could be forgiven for thinking that maybe he’s the one who speaks with more authority on this particular subject.
Until you actually read Kass’ column, that is, and discover the identity of his ideal, “iconic manly man.”
According to the news, Charlotte, N.C. recently earned the Number 1 spot as “America’s Manliest City.” Charlotte (despite its oh-so-feminine name*) topped the charts in the COMBOS® “America’s Manliest Cities” study – which rated major US metropolitan areas for various “manly” characteristics. Points were added – or subtracted – based on certain criteria. Among other things, points were awarded for the “Concentration of Manly Retail Stores,” including “BBQ and chicken wing restaurants, steak houses [and] sports bars;” as well as for ”Salty Snack Sales.” On the flip side, points were taken away for “Emasculating Criteria,” which included “cafes/coffee shops” and “Sushi restaurants.”
Apparently, Real Men Don’t Eat Sushi.
Reading over the news this morning over a cup of coffee, I came across this article on CNN/Health.
The opening statement to this article reads
Some guys sound tough – and according to a new study, that may be a good way of predicting whether they really are.
Seriously, for real???!!!! After that statement, want to know who the first person was that popped into my mind? Can you say Mike Tyson?
Here’s the link to the rest of the article and check out the comments already posted. Men’s Voices May Predict Strength
In Alpha Male Challenge, James and Rick discuss what it means to be an “Alpha Male” in an age where men and women are legal and economic equals. As in the traditional view, an Alpha Male is “masculine,” but they present masculinity as a wholly positive trait: it’s about what a man is (i.e., an acknowledged leader striving to be at his physical, emotional and intellectual best) rather than what he isn’t. A true Alpha Male is his own creation. He doesn’t need others to be weak to feel assured of his strength. He doesn’t need to hold others in contempt to feel confident about himself and his place in the world. He’s authoritative, without being authoritarian.
This is a message that needs to be more broadly shared, as too many people are unclear on the concept. Take, for example, this recent article by Amanda Hess, posted at washingtoncitypaper.com. Titled “Who is to Blame for an Effeminate Man?”, Hess (properly) takes “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger to the woodshed for her lame solution to a problem posed by a reader, “Andrea.”
In writing Alpha Male Challenge, James and Rick had an ambitious goal: to create a roadmap that men could follow to reclaim their masculinity, physically AND psychologically. It’s the latter part that makes the book truly unique, IMHO. As skilled trainers, it would have been easy for them to write a solid diet/workout book; but they went well beyond this to tackle values, too. The result was a transformational set of ”Alpha Attitude” drills, designed to improve men intellectually, emotionally, and socially.
But there’s only so much territory that can be covered in 10 weeks. This is why I’m offering up a “bonus,” Alpha Attitude drill for your consideration. It’s a simple thought experiment: all you have to do is put yourself in the situation detailed beneath the fold, and think about how an Alpha Male – like you - would have handled it.
Is it the End of Men?
Really, I think that one word is a pretty good summary response to Hanna Rosin’s latest article in this month’s Atlantic: “The End of Men.” Rosin is up to her usual (and tiresome) journalistic tricks here, melodramatically inventing strawmen (and women) to oppose each other, in order to generate the sort of outrage guaranteed to draw attention to Rosin and burnish her cred as a “deep thinker.”