We all know that having the right fitness equipment on hand is essential to achieving the results we seek when exercising. For example, you can’t continue to bulk without increasing the level of weights you lift, and a baseball game played without bats and balls would be pretty useless.
But what about the clothing we wear and the accessories we utilize when working out?
Do they have the ability to improve our performance?
Will a lack of such products hinder us in our attempts to reach peak levels of fitness?
Do pricy athletic garments really make a difference?
Honestly, the answers to these questions depend entirely on you. But here are a few things you may want to consider before you run out and spend a fortune on apparel and accessories, or alternately, write them off altogether.
Here’s a sweet graphic of Christian Bale’s tranformations throughout the years. Think of him what you may, he has total control of his body when it comes to gaining and losing body weight. He’s never been super jacked, but I’m willing to bet 80% of the US population would like to have his Batman Begins body.
Christian weighed as little as 55kg (121 lbs) for the Machinist, and as much as 90kg (198 lbs) for The Dark Knight Rises. He can be both ripped and bulky, depending on the role. I personally think it’s somewhat inspirational. Tom Hardy is pretty muscular too, check out his Bane character in The Dark Knight Rises.
After you check out the graphic, in the spirit of The Dark Knight Rises, which was a totally fricken awesome flick, vote for the best Batman movie ever.
Click the image to make it bigger.
And finally, because you love Batman and The Dark Knight Rises so much, go buy some Batman t-shirts:
This post was written back in 2008, but the poll didn’t get many votes and the post didn’t get any comments. Now that Project Swole has much more traffic and somewhat of a loyal community, I went and rewrote some of this piece and I’m re-posting it today so that we can get more comments and votes. I think it will be an interesting study into the training background of most Swole readers.
When and why did you first learn about exercising?
We all know how beneficial exercise is to maintaining a healthy body. Kids don’t usually know this and teenagers don’t usually care. Typically it is up to parents and schools to educate kids about exercise and nutrition, ’cause quite frankly they aren’t very likely to do it themselves.
I learned about exercising in junior high school when some of my friends started curling and bench pressing to build the “show muscles” for the girls. I even did some curling and bench pressing myself, but not more than a couple times a week, and I didn’t build any significant muscle mass. My real education in weight training came in high school… I’ll talk about that more below.
This question of the week is a question to me, rather than a question to you. Let me know your thoughts on the subject after reading the article.
Let me tell you about a recent conversation with one of my friends over IM. This guy used to lift with me back in college, but he’s working on his own business right now and hasn’t touched a weight in almost a year. So they guy goes out and gets a gym membership and starts training again last Monday.
There are still 4 presidential candidates for 2009. Allow me to break down the candidates and explain to you why each one of them needs to get back in the weight room. At the end, I would like to introduce you to my surprise independent candidate; the only player you can really count on to save the day. [poll id=”6″]
John McCain, who will probably keep us in Iraq for eternity, thus killing off thousands more Americans, burning many more billions of ‘government’ dollars, and sinking the economy into a deep recession by 2010. I mean, it doesn’t make him look good when everyone knows he would make American women suffer by staffing his offices with pro-life Nazis.
Maybe he could improve his appearance and popularity by following a couple conditioning tips here on Project Swole. He’s getting older, and could probably firm up that face with a couple High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions each week. I would also recommend some resistance training with free weights twice per week to help increase bone density.
Allow me to introduce the first ever Project Swole Question of the Week. In this section we will be tackling all those important questions like, “What is the best tasting protein bar?”, and “Should gym bunnies be allowed to distract us by wearing spandex while they workout?”
This week’s question is one that has been much debated throughout the years. [poll=3]
My opinion is this: when you squat all the way down, it does put unnecessary pressure on the patella (knee). A lifetime of squatting this way could cause one to need knee surgery in their later years. Often someone that squats as low as they can go, will squat down with a greater velocity than if they had to stop themselves at a certain point (parallel). This greater velocity, combined with the stretch reflex used if they bounce out of the hole, could certainly lead to unnecessary tendon and ligament damage over time. So if you know how to squat correctly, and you do not bounce, and you are not attempting a max effort PR, then I guess I don’t see a problem with squatting to the floor; I just don’t recommend ass-to-grass barbell back squats for the average trainee.
Under no circumstances should you execute a half squat or a quarter squat, unless you are making a rare attempt at a super-heavy load that is higher than your 1 rep max. Occasionally I used this protocol to feel out a new weight just to expose my legs to the load. At one point (e.g. back in college) when I was squatting on average 405 lbs for 3-5 reps, I loaded up the bar to 475 and completed 3 half squats with that weight. Using this strategy helped me to attain a 465 1 rep max, because I already knew what that heavier weight felt like, so I had more confidence when I tried to attempt a similar weight for a 1 rep max.
In conclusion, I would say that 90% of the time, one should only squat to parallel or just below parallel. It is not worth sacrificing your knees just to be able to say “I squat ass-to-grass”. Perhaps you might squat all the way down with dynamic effort low box squats, jump squats, or strongman training when practicing events such as the Atlas Stones.
What do you think? Feel free to vote and leave a comment explaining your opinion.