Welcome to the positive corner of wellness. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.
Today’s Health Upgrade
Member of the week
Myth of the week
The nutrient freeze
Member of the Week: Joey Swoll
Hey everybody, it’s Arnold. I wanted to take over this week. You may have seen me tweet about Joey Swoll. I’ve been really impressed at how he pushes positivity in the gym and encourages people to be welcoming while also teaching some basic human etiquette. I wanted to ask him a few questions since this newsletter is my positive corner of health and fitness.
Joey, why did you start this whole push for positivity in gyms?
I started to push for positivity because I was seeing so much toxic gym culture on social media, shaming, bullying, and arrogance, and I know that’s so far from the truth of how the gym community truly is. The gym is a brother and sisterhood. I’ve been training for almost 20 years now, and I’m so grateful for the gym, the people in it, and everything it’s done to help me become a better man physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. It’s very sad to see negativity highlighted so much on social media to try and take away from that and discourage people from starting their fitness journey. I wanted to do something to help people see true gym culture and have the courage to go to the gym to better themselves, knowing there are so many great men and women there that will support them and have their back.
What’s your message for people who have been training for a long time?
My message to people that have been training for a long time is to take lead in the gym and on social media. There are so many people starting their journey that have gym anxiety and are so intimidated by the gym and all of us in it. Befriend these people, greet them, show them kindness, and make them feel welcome. If they need help or ask questions, take a second to help them. Remember what it was like to be new in the gym and be the person you had or wish you had when you first started, and NEVER bully or shame anyone for being new. Be the reason they stay and succeed, NOT the reason they quit.
We have a lot of people just starting out with their training who subscribe. What do you want beginners who might be a little intimidated by gyms to know?
To those starting out, please don’t judge the big, strong, scary men and women in the gym. I know we may look intimidating, but 99.9% of the time, we are the kindest people you will ever meet with the biggest hearts. Please ask us questions and ask for help. There is nothing we love more than sharing our passion for the gym as well as our education with you. And if someone does try and bully you or make you feel unwelcome, we will be there to stand up for you and have your back. The gym has done so much for us in life, and we would love nothing more than for you to stay, work hard to better yourself, and have it do the same for you.
Alright, we’ll be getting together soon and spreading more positivity, but in the meantime, I hope that helps a lot of you. -Arnold
Myth of the Week: Go Big or Go Home
If you want to gain muscle, using the heaviest weights possible isn’t the only way to go. Progressive resistance (or progressive overload) is a principle that forces your muscles to grow by doing more work. The most obvious way to do this is to lift more weight.
But, research now suggests that if you want to build muscle, you can do it by either lifting more weight or do a lighter weight for more reps. Whether you go heavy or light, the key is pushing intensity near the point of failure.
(Note from Arnold: Eugen Sandow was the first person to really popularize strength sports and bodybuilding at the turn of the last century. He’s an idol to me, to the point where I made his statue the Mr. Olympia trophy in 1977 when I was hosting and promoting the contest after I had retired. I also tracked down his unmarked grave and had a headstone placed on it. He was the strongest man in the world and became incredibly famous on multiple continents for his body. And he was known for doing 125 reps with very, very light dumbbells. So if heavy weights makes you happy, go for it. But if little weights make you happy, you’ve got good company! Do whatever you enjoy that makes you train.)
The big mistake is thinking that you can just do endless reps of a lighter weight and grow. There’s an art and science to training. Intensity determines your outcome. You need to challenge your body and push towards failure, which means you could find yourself doing 20 or 30 reps in some instances. Simply doing a lot of reps isn’t enough; you need to near the limit of what your body can do, and that's when your body will grow. So each time, you need to be adding more -- whether reps, sets, or weight; that’s the progressive in progressive resistance.
The higher rep approach won’t necessarily make sense for more complicated exercises. You might think a set of 30 reps on squats with 100 pounds would be “better” than 300 pounds for 10 reps, but it’s not that simple. Those 30-rep squats could cause fatigue in other ways, which could leave you more susceptible to injury (possibly your back) or cause bad reps that leave results on the table. In general, compound movements (presses, rows, squats, and deadlifts), are best done in the 5 to 12 rep range. Whereas more isolation movements — think lateral raises, calf raises, and biceps curls — might be safer to push at higher rep ranges.
Reader Q: The Frozen Aisle
We get lots of questions from all of you, and we’ll do our best to answer as many as possible in these daily emails. Recently, several of you asked about how to make it easier to eat fruits and vegetables. Specifically, you wanted to know if the frozen variety was as good as fresh.
To put it simply: if you can find a way to eat more fruits or vegetables, there's no need to overthink anything else. Besides, research suggests that frozen and canned fruits and vegetables have the same nutrition benefits as the fresh varieties.
Be sure to do a quick check for added sugar, which is sometimes added to the packaged varieties. A quick scan of the ingredient list will make it clear if anything has been added (the sugar content can be misleading because fruit has natural sugar). When packaged fruits and vegetables are done right, the only ingredient will be the food itself.
When building a healthier lifestyle, it’s incredibly helpful to take advantage of anything that makes it easier to develop better routines. If the cost of fresh or organic foods makes it harder to buy healthier foods, don’t let that be a limitation. Go frozen and don’t even think about it.
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