It’s a pretty great tweet.
It’s a pretty great tweet.
Seth Roberts wrote The Unreasonable Effectiveness of My Self-Experimentation. He explains how self-experimentation improved his sleep, mood, health, and weight.
Self-experimentation is similar to foraging and hobbies more than strict lab-science, he says:
“My self-experimentation resembled foraging, hobbyist, and artisanal exploration, Professional science is a poor match for any of them. The similarity of foraging, hobbyist, and artisanal exploration suggests that our brains are well-suited for jobs with a lot of exploitation and a little exploration. Although full-time scientists are expected to explore full-time, full-time exploration is very uncomfortable.”Seth Roberts
The idea is that foraging and hobbies involve exploration followed by rewards in a way that lab-science does not. In other words, self-experimentation is an engineering approach to personal problem solving using aggressive-tinkering. Taleb reminds us in Skin in the Game, “The knowledge we get by tinkering, via trial and error, experience, and the workings of time, in other words, contact with the earth, is vastly superior to that obtained through reasoning, something self-serving institutions have been very busy hiding from us.”
This makes sense. Now, self-experimentation involves some major problems. If you tinker with small changes in a way that increases risk, you’re making unwise gambles. For instance, experimenting with strength training almost guarantees health and strength gains. Experimenting with drugs to improve strength may sacrifice long-term health for short term strength.
Sometimes, when you have a specific problem, you can look up published research, determine the process used to test a hypothesis, and then try something similar on yourself if your problem was solved or improved by the experiment. But you want to do this in a risk-reducing fashion. For instance, when I used Kjaer’s chronic tendon loading research to cure my 8-year bout of patellar tendinitis, I knew that squats had never made it worse. I knew that my back was healthy. I knew that the highest risk I had was getting weaker over a few weeks or making my knee feel a bit worse.
When I was a personal trainer I had always hypothesized that strength training would lead to positive outcomes for pregnant women and the child, particularly if they had been training prior to the conception of their child.
Since I’m not a research center and such training could be high risk, I just wouldn’t train a pregnant woman. The wisdom in the early 2000s was, “don’t engage in strength training if you’re pregnant.” Among
Recently (2015) the American College of
Anyway, strength training is getting closer and closer to being a scientifically verified panacea. In the case of pregnancy, strength training:
Now, I’m no doctor and I’m not making any recommendations. But hopefully this information helps you do some of your own research.
*American College of Obstetrians and Gynecologists. Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Committee Opinion Number 650 2015.
Mark Rippetoe has a way with words, he’s particularly good at expressing well known, but unstated truths in the most devastating way possible:
In fact, since there exist so few examples of correctly-instructed cleans and snatches in any high school, college, university, or professional strength program, and since it seems to be impossible to convince you that 1.) doing them wrong is a bad idea and that 2.) you’re doing them wrong, I really think you guys should just stop using them in your programs altogether and just focus your attention on getting everybody’s squat below parallel, and getting everybody’s deadlift up over 500 with a flat back. Maybe stop them from bouncing their bench presses off their chests like trampolines, too, and give their spotters a different way to work their traps. Given several months, perhaps this can actually be accomplished.
He’s just exactly right. I would add chin-ups, but that’s just me.
So asks Tyler Durden in, Fight Club.
I think it’s a serious question.
And even for men to prefer gymnastic exercises by far to the baths, is perchance not bad, since they are in some respects conducive to the health of young men, and produce exertion—emulation to aim at not only a healthy habit of but courageousness of soul…But let not such athletic contests, as we have allowed, be undertaken for the sake of vainglory, but for the exuding of manly sweat. Nor are we to struggle with cunning and showiness, but in a stand-up wrestling bout, by disentangling of neck, hands, and sides. For such a struggle with graceful strength is more becoming and manly, being undertaken for the sake of serviceable and profitable health.Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria is under the impression that the gymnasium, including wrestling/
 Clement of Alexandria, “The Instructor,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 284.
A friend recently asked if I could help her design a strength training program (and I just finished). And while I made one for my wife and made jump/chin-up/and general strength programs for clients in the past, I still just felt the need to look more into the research on women’s health issues and the relationship between those issues and strength training. Of course, the general benefits of the iron pill still apply.
Here’s the basic formula:
Perfect form + reasonable exercise choice + progressive resistance + rest and calories = strength gains.
But many weight lifters, male or female, don’t want strength per se. Men will want bigger arms, women bigger glutes or “toned arms.”
While trainers should take these considerations into account in program design, general human improvement is the goal of any training program. I would say that personal trainers ought to follow something like ‘help people be happy‘ as a first principle.
Here are some difficulties faced by women:
Now, here is what some research says about the effect of strength training on these difficulties:
Strength training has an almost panaceaic quality for several of the problems faced by women as throughout their lives.