"I pick up heavy things and put them down"

Funny fitness commercial. But who is right, the muscle head or the gym with all their "fancy" equipment?

Have you seen the commercial for Planet Fitness?  I love it.  

Huge guy with foreign accent taking a tour of the gym.  He keeps repeating, "I pick up heavy things and put them down."  Everyone happily working out on their machines in the background.  They're all beautiful and happy on their machines, and here's this muscle-head sticking out like a sore thumb.  The Planet Fitness employee secretly escorts him out the back door and shuts it behind him.

The picture they create is certainly funny, but here's what I find most humorous.  Although he's a goofy muscle-head, what he's saying makes a lot more sense than what everyone behind him is doing.

What do you think is more natural to us as humans?  

Sitting on a machine, strapping your leg in, and extending your leg over and over to "get a pump."  
Picking up heavy things and putting them down

Want to know the other funny part?  You have more chance of looking like that muscle-head by getting a pump on a fitness machine than by picking up heavy things and putting them down.

Our primitive ancestors had the same needs that we do today.  Let me repeat in a different way.  Our needs haven't changed in well over 100,000 years.  And as humans, we're built to pick up and carry heavy things, press things overhead, and pull things towards us.  There's a few more basic movements, but not that many.  Maybe add a rotation like throwing, then running and jumping, and you've basically got all your needs taken care of.

So when these modern fitness studios want to act all superior with they're 10,000 machines and good looking models posing in the background, I would take it with a grain of salt.  They are not offering you the movement that YOUR BODY NEEDS or wants!  I would actually pay a lot more attention to a workout that has you "pick up heavy things and put them down."

Here's a list of appropriate lifts that fit that bill:

  • Front squats
  • Farmer's carry
  • Kettlebell swing/ deadlift

Why do you NEED to do these lifts?

  • They work up to 3/4 of all your muscles in one motion (think efficient workout)
  • They help you build a strong core- and that's the key to a good back
  • They are basic movements to all humans- if you want to age gracefully and get through all your life's needs, you need to do them
  • Loading your body is the best way to build bone density


And a few more words on your core.  How do you think our primitive ancestors worked their core?  Did they get on the dirt and do their crunches?  I'm sure you know the answer by now.  They picked up heavy things and put them down.  

If you learn how to appropriately do the list of three exercises from above, you will build a very strong back and core.  Do this safely and progressively, and you'll see amazing changes in your back health.

Please, as with all my advice, don't go and do this stuff unless you know what you're doing.  80% of the clients who come to 39 Minute Workout cannot squat correctly when they start.  And almost nobody is teaching the kettlebell swing correctly (God help Biggest Loser contestants!), so please don't try this one without a properly trained instructor.  Chances are that you already do farmers carry.  Just carry two armloads of heavy groceries and you've got the idea.  It is worth getting with a trainer to learn these basic movements though.  So go get trained on a proper squat at the very least.  

Now get out and listen to that muscle-head.  He had it right!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

MG42 May 04, 2012 at 11:38 AM
I totally agree. Gyms with all that fancy equipment are the biggest fitness fallacy out there. It may seem crazy but it's true. Plus, it's a lot more fun to beat tires with a sledgehammer than use the elliptical (aka the running simulation machine)!
David Beares May 04, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Ohai, we're on the same page. Thanks for the comments David Beares


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