5 “stupid” questions you want to know but are afraid to ask

Have you ever been told that there are no stupid questions? Well, there are. I know, I know. No one wants to hear that their question is dumb, but the reality is that sometimes you just don’t know something silly that you want to know. Personally, I’m never ashamed of my stupid questions, because in the end I’ve still learned something I wanted to know, even if everyone else thought it was useless. Today, lets talk about some of the stupid, embarrassing questions we all ask (in our heads) but almost never out loud.

1. Why does everyone progress faster and look better than me?

Most of them don’t and if they’re on the internet they’re probably full of crap. Otherwise, the people who progress incredibly fast are normally one of two things: incredibly dedicated/organized/slightly crazy OR they have a great genetic predisposition to be fitter than the average person. The take away from either situation is this: stop comparing yourself to other people, and start comparing yourself to the “you” of yesterday, last week, and last month. Unless you are a competitive bodybuilder (and most people who workout aren’t) then you don’t have to worry about having better aesthetics than anyone else. Focus on what really matters: being better than you were and making steady progress forward. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have goals; you should have many goals for the many facets of your life. But if your only goal is, “look super better than everyone else like OMFG” then your goal is kind of dumb, mm’kay?

2. No one is noticing my progress. What do I do?

Keep working. Stay on track. Don’t give up. Persevere. Seriously.

It takes time for other people to see your results, and even longer for you to see it. A typical piece of wisdom I like is this: it takes a month for people you hardy see to notice changes, 2-3 months for close friends/family, and up to 6 months for YOU to see it in yourself. You may feel awesome and have been making great changes, but not everyone will notice. This will annoy or dismay or anger you in some cases. Don’t let it stop you from continuing forward! The most important thing for you at this stage is to realize that when you started working on your health, you signed up to play a game that has a long, difficult timeline for the vast majority of people. Be prepared to play that long game and not quit just because round one wasn’t as satisfying as you were hoping. The patience and work is worth it. I promise.

3. What the Hell are “noob gains”?

When you newly start lifting weights, playing a sport, or some other physical activity you tend to progress in relative skill level very quickly for the first 6-9 months and then your progress begins to level off. Lets say that your Skill Level at a Thing goes from 1 (terrible) to 100 (extraordinary). When you start learning that Thing, you’ll make a jump from level 1 all way up to level 30-40 (mediocre or so) in the first 6 months, but then it will take another 6 months to go from level 40 to level 60-70 (good), and then another year to add another 10 levels or so until you get as good as you’re going to get. You can easily spend 3 years getting really good at a single thing and still not be at our relative level of 100.

This all has to do with making early neurological connections that make your muscles more able to move through the motions of the action you want to take. As a personal example, it has taken me 2 years to get pretty good at the barbell snatch. I’ve practiced at least 3-4 times per week for high rep sets of low weight, and finally hit the point where I’m confident in the movement.

4. I’m giving blood today. When can I lift?

Probably not today. The body takes time, energy, and resources to replace the contents of your blood when you have it drawn. The more you lose, the more energy and time your body needs to replenish the supply. Since blood supply is a physiological priority, resources will be diverted from other things like digestion, movement, etc. until you get back to homeostasis. Think of this as a hard workout and give yourself recovery time accordingly. You may be able to do some light mobility or skill work, but anything heavily taxing like long term cardo, sprinting, or lifting above 30% of your max is likely too much. You might notice nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, disorientation, or general fatigue as a result of giving blood and then trying to exercise too soon. I generally recommend 24-48 hours before an intense workout.

5. So, like, how do I get the heavy plates off the barbell?

This is so much more common than you think! The weights can be cumbersome, especially when the bar is on the ground, and getting them off isn’t always simple when you’re tired. Here are some tricks:

a. If you can get the bar onto a squat rack, it makes weight changes much faster. The downside is you need to actually get the weight up there, which might not be possible for heavier moves like deadlifts.

b. Use a 5# plate as a height booster by placing it on the ground next to the inner most plate, and then rolling the bar onto the plate. This will lift all the remaining plates by about half an inch, making them easy to remove.

c. Unload one side at a time, bringing the bar on that side to rest lightly on the floor. Once one side is unloaded, tilt the bar up towards the still-weighted side of the bar and allow the plates to slide gently to the floor. Lift the barbell up vertically and voila, you have an unloaded bar and a neat stack of plates.