We have some meaty links today so I’m gonna jump right in after this, but I’m giving away TWENTY copies of LIFTOFF: Couch to Barbell on Instagram today right here!:
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If you follow me, like the post, tag a friend, and share why you want to learn to lift (winning arm wrestling matches on the beach; picking up the couch to retrieve the toys that the cat keeps chasing under there; Tomb Raider style stunts; being able to do a pullup on any available crossbar) you and the friend you tag will be eligible for a free copy of LIFTOFF via discount code via Instagram DM! Also a general PSA that, whether you win or not, if you were to start LIFTOFF this coming Monday, you’d be graduating by Memorial Day weekend!
You should also follow @couchtobarbell on Instagram because soon I will be sharing some stories/content from folks who have actually tried the program. If you interested in what training can do for you that isn’t weight loss or “sweat,” you should check it out. If you’re curious to know more about the program, I worked very hard on a whole longform video about it.
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Building on the “incredibly short workouts” link from two weeks ago, a new study from February found that people were able to get 6-12% stronger performing exactly one rep of a dumbbell curl once a day five times a week. Important factors: The study doesn’t mention how close to a one-rep max the weight was. But given that the researchers were studying bicep curls, that’s a pretty small movement that wouldn’t take a lot of weight to challenge the “sedentary” people in the study, so it’s safe to assume the weight was probably pretty close to a 1RM.
They were also pretty long reps. The people who gained the most strength were doing a three-second eccentric (lowering the weight down over the course of three seconds). My arm hurts just thinking about doing that with a near-1RM amount of weight. But this study reinforces an overall good point that we should all never forget, which is: intensity and nearness to failure (without actually going to failure) are super-key elements of good training.
A 12% increase is also is not that much for a month of training (that would be 25 pounds → 28 pounds) in an untrained person. But for the time investment of one whole minute a week, it’s not bad.
In the extremely-short-workout study from two weeks ago that used a lot of high-rep sets, the participants’ muscles got bigger, but not stronger. Here, with one-rep sets, they got stronger, but not bigger. (The general belief in training is that fewer reps build strength, while more reps build size). Between these two things we are circling… something.
What subscribers will be getting this week: I get frequent (and fair!) requests from folks on how I reconcile my long war against the concept of “weight loss” with the “cutting” side of “cutting and bulking,” a process I’ve completed a bunch of times to build my strength and muscle. People also ask me how I navigate this with a disordered eating background. I can’t say all will be revealed in a single post, because that would be a lot, but paid subscribers will be getting a healthy Part One in their inboxes this Sunday!
Last week, we went over the sheer impossibility of Blogilates’ “muscle building journey on 1500 calories per day.” This week, registered dietitian Abbey Sharp reviewed the situation in a nutritional sense and... found it lacking! I’m just idly imagining a scenario where Cassey does a big “I was wrong” post and decides to up her calories, nay, actually go into a caloric surplus. In that event, I will be the first in the door to scream, cry, and throw up.
Why male movie stars give up their diets once filming is over. Choice quote from Channing Tatum on his experience filming Magic Mike 3: “Even if you do work out, to be in that kind of shape is not natural...You have to starve yourself. I don’t think when you’re that lean it’s actually healthy for you.” We’ve been saying!!
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A new kind of chickenfight to try with your gym buddies, demonstrated by the cutest pair of people possible above: You lie down lengthwise, side by side, head-to-foot, each raise up your nearest leg, lock them together, and each try to pin the other. It’s like large-format thumb wrestling. Who will face me on the field of battle?
These freezer burritos look really good and more importantly, VERY easy.
An informed answer to the question “How do you stay so thin?”
5x5 adorable and hilarious piece: “I'm common as muck and spent £150 in a Michelin star restaurant to see if it was worth it.”
It seems like everyone including professional psychologists/psychiatrists hate the DSM, but this is an interesting development: conversion disorder used to be the umbrella for all kinds of “unexplained” body pain. With the new DSM, we get “functional neurological symptom disorder.” Progress?
Swole Woman Court of TikTokisphere drama: Can you “work your hamstrings” on a leg press?
A trainer posted a TikTok claiming that foot positioning was the way to target hamstrings on a leg press. TikTok user @iamcassk posted a critical duet with that video, saying, “no, you do not work hamstrings on a leg press.” Joey Swoll, who has been getting a lot of traction by critiquing gym critiquers lately, dueted HER and said that she was being rude because actually, one can “work the hamstrings” with a high, wide, feet-turned-out foot placement. Mr. Swoll’s video has 1.4 million view’s and climbing. @iamcassk responded again, saying that while that positioning might create slightly more hamstring activation, it’s not “working” the hamstrings per se. Who is right?
I’ve reviewed all the evidence, and while Cass may not have affected Joey Swoll’s preferred sweet and kind tone, I would say his is the more misleading post.
The leg press is a quad-dominant movement no matter how you slice it. The hamstrings and glutes are used during this type of movement, but they’re never the shining stars (contrast, say, a Romanian deadlift, which is almost entirely a hamstring/glute movement; your quads aren’t doing nothing during that movement, but you wouldn’t train quads by doing Romanian deadlifts). Y
ou might get slightly more hamstring or glute activation with certain variations (that link has a whole breakdown of the various muscles involved). A lifter might choose to leg press because it’s an easy movement to add volume to training legs and you don’t have to move or stabilize very much of the rest of your body. But a leg press is very, very far from being a way to target hamstrings; these are ballpark figures, but you’d be loading your quads a gallon just to get a few ounces of hamstring work.
The verdict: This is 40% an issue of terminology. The original video is suggesting one can target hamstrings with leg press. Cass K’s video asserts that’s not possible, but uses the term “work” instead of “target” (tin a good faith interpretation in this context, those words mean the same thing). Joey Swoll swoops in on this technicality, appears to make her look like and idiot, and gets instant TikTok virality.
But the thing is, Joey Swoll’s message is still “yes, leg press works your hamstrings.” Saying “leg press works your hamstrings” is not quite the same as saying “deadlifts work your quads,” but it’s... close (i.e. not usefully true). He’s reachin’, and it’s troubling that he’s doing all this apparently in an effort to put a woman in her place!
Okay, so there was no way that the experiment to replace real food with square food-product units was gonna end well. Look: I’m on record that food is, on average, too hard in our society. And while I actually wouldn’t mind the square food-product units in a format sense as long as they, you know, actually tasted good, it is truly a dystopian tech-guru reaction to say “I don’t have time for food due to all the demands of life; let me optimize food out of my life” as opposed to “I don’t have time for food due to all the demands of life; food is essential to my survival AND one of life’s joys, therefore the other demands of life should be less.” Somewhere, all the dystopian science fiction writers who tried to literarily warn us of our path are absolutely spinning in their graves.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to wait for the TikTok pro-ED reckoning a la what Facebook got a few months ago. The latest way to blow up your account engagement appears to be posting videos of actress Barbie Ferreira (of Euphoria fame) from when she was smaller and commentating some variation of “what happened 😰.” We tried to warn you all about the way low-rise jeans would destroy society all over again, and you should have listened!
Women are barely studied when it comes to brain injury, which means that many domestic violence victims are suffering from long-term brain-injury symptoms and rarely ever get diagnosed.
Did you know that WNBA teams are not allowed to charter flights or go on team trips beyond a certain expense level, because there’s a ceiling on how much money they are allowed to spend on players that’s far, far lower than the NBA? Women are literally all flying commercial while 25-year old NBA player Devin Booker has a vintage car collection and a James Turrell.
~Discord Pick of the Week: Here’s why you don’t squat in running shoes: they’re not only unstable, but you’re crushing those delicate little foam soles! Get Converse or similar. ~
I hope all these girls come to regret being in this photo.
This is no way to be human. I’ve been noticing more over the last couple years how much slower time moves without screens, and then by extension, how hard the screens work to keep me from noticing that. I do truly love the internet so much and would never wish it away, but I’ve really tried to be increasingly deliberate about when I’m getting something out of content consumption and when I’m feeling undue pressure to weigh in on Poppy Corby-Teuch is Vinda. Therefore, I do recommend the forest-bath.
I’ve been remiss in watching the last two seasons of Insecure, and binged them all this past weekend. Man; what a monumental show. The writing is simply next-level. It’s wild to feel yourself growing right alongside TV characters, and I imagine this is how people felt at the time about Sex and the City. I feel similarly about You’re the Worst. Both are going to be infinite periodic rewatches for me.
Strong endorse: systematic underachieving. Work will never love you back!
That’s it! I love you for reading, thank you, let’s go—