I’ve tried a lot of types of exercise, but by far the most effective exercise in terms of results for time spent is heavy barbell lifts.
For 10-15 minutes of lifting a barbell laden with weights, I get a better physique, improved health, more strength and muscle, less bodyfat.
I’ve spent hours running, doing bodyweight exercises, doing Crossfit, playing sports, biking, swimming, and generally doing the craziest kinds of exercises possible. They’re all very good, but for the time that I’ve invested in them, weights are the ones that matter most.
I’ve found the barbell method — lifting the heavy stuff but for short periods — works for lots of things in life. From productivity to relationships to finances to losing bodyfat to business growth.
The hard stuff really matters.
I’ll get to the productivity/finances/relationships stuff in a second, but first let me clarify: I’m talking about very simple, heavy barbell lifts for few reps and sets (3 sets of 4-7 reps). And do them with good form, or you might get injured. Start out light, get the form right, progressively add weight each week. The most important lifts are things like deadlifts and squats (best two), bench press, shoulder press, rows. Add some chinups and you’re done. With rest days in between. And yes, women should do these lifts too. Yes, runners should do them too. Yes, vegans can lift heavy too.
These lifts are hard, and so people avoid them. But they work better than anything else, for the time invested.
I’ve learned that in lots of other areas, the hard stuff that people avoid is what matters most. It’s what’s most effective.
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