You need to gain about 10, maybe 15 pounds. You’ll be a lot healthier and look better. Your self-esteem will get a boost, not to mention, ahem, your sex life. It’s an all-around good deal, obtainable with a few hours in the gym each week.
Don’t worry, I’m scratching my head right along with you. It’s a natural reaction to reading this sort of thing. What with our fashion culture actually eschewing healthy and hearty body models for skeletally frail ones, claiming that athleticism is a passing fad, I understand the signals people are getting.
I mean, to quote the head of Pucci International (a producer of mannequins), “The gym body has almost become a clich.” Now, that definitely makes me scratch my head in puzzlement. Guys, just think: in a few years, we’re no longer going to be attracted to those luscious feminine curves we all know and love, but collarbones and shoulder blades. Does anyone else see a major problem here? Who knows, maybe girls will begin to be attracted to knobby knees and elbow joints that are more prominent than biceps.
I saw a kid wearing a shirt in Wilson Commons the other day, the back of which read: “Gaunt is Beautiful.” I was sorely tempted to tell him that his ribs made him look fat, but I resisted once I realized he was probably a cross-country runner. What’s with this belief? Traditionally, greater bodyweight signified wealth and power, since the ability to gain weight was restricted to those who could afford to eat and not work all day. Maybe we shouldn’t go back to those ways, but I think changes need to be made.
This is not, however, the opportunity to indulge in your lifelong fantasy day at Danforth: paying one club in the morning, and staying there all day, eating everything in sight. I certainly don’t condone that. I also don’t want people to walk around looking at each other through camera lenses, since we all know that the camera adds 10 or 15 pounds. That’s cheating. The best solution would be to gain some muscle!
There’s a term in the iron game called “newb gains” that is highly relevant here. When a person first begins working out, the body responds in its traditional fashion to compensate for a disruption in homeostasis – when muscle tissue gets disrupted, “muscle fiber microtrauma,” as we say, the body simply synthesizes more tissue to compensate. After a few workouts, your body will begin a process called neural adaptation, in which the body recruits more motor neurons to help you complete your movements, whether they’re squats or power cleans.
At this point, people see a jump in strength, and the body’s un-adapted muscles respond to the stimulus applied in the gym and grow like crazy. For new trainees, it’s not uncommon to see gains of ten, even twelve, pounds of pure muscle in a matter of months.
Enough science. I even make myself cringe sometimes. The essence of what I just said is this: if you’ve never worked out before, you can fortify your physique by doing a full-body workout, three times a week. Lather, rinse and repeat. Simple as that, no strings attached.
It might seem perverse to some that I suggest going to the gym to gain weight rather than to lose weight, so here’s something else that might appeal to those with mathematical sensibilities. A pound of fat takes 3,500 calories to burn or add. With those same 3,500 calories, you can add two pounds of muscle tissue.
So do the math: it’s a lot easier and a whole lot more fun to hit the weights hard for three hours a week than spend hours on some forsaken cardio machine. You just get more bang for your buck, as it were.
If you need to ask me some questions about routines, you’ll probably find me at the gym, covering up my bony extremities with muscle. This skinny-model trend is one thing I’ll allow to hit me unprepared.
Deland is a member of the class of 2010.