What is a meathead? It’s a question that is frequently asked, but society accepts a broad stereotype of what makes a meathead. If you ask any number of people, you would hear that number of response. There would certainly be a general consensus, as well as small differences. Some people are self proclaimed meatheads, while others shun the term and fight the stereotype. While those who are proud of the title wear it like a badge of honor, I find it to be more of an insult than a compliment. Curious about the general consensus, a quick Google search turned up simple definitions and ‘guidelines’ laying out rules to not be a meathead. The simplest answer I found was “a stupid person”, while Urban Dictionary offers a well worded definition:One derivation of this term comes from perception of society that people who devote large amounts of their time to lifting weights in the gym must not be very bright, due to the excessive nature of the weight-lifting activity. There is further perception that a bodybuilder or weightlifter has other serious shortcomings that result in him/her feeling the need to devote their lives to changing their body shape by rigorous exercise. Thus we call someone a meat head due to the assumption that their head is full of meat or muscle, and not brain tissue. Meathead is thus synonymous with stupid.
I suppose that the most accurate representation of this is the oft belittled but somehow appropriate Planet Fitness commercial that we all love to hate:
While the character is limited in his depth of personality, I think those ads are a disservice to those who work hard to pick things up and put them down. There are certainly people who are consumed by vanity and aesthetic improvement, but what about the person that just wants to feel better and be healthier? Are they intellectually challenged for wanting to pick things up and put them down? The model that planet fitness promotes in their advertisements seems to be bare bones: ‘Do a little of this, try some of that, and you’ll feel better.’ They’re not entirely wrong, because a little bit of effort goes a long way. There are people that aren’t content with a machine circuit and bike ride; they want to get sweaty, train hard, and push themselves to higher levels of fitness and performance. Does this make someone unintelligent? Don’t think so.
There are certainly people that use the word ‘meathead’ as a term of endearment, and you can tell that I’m not one of them. I see it as an insult, thrown at people self-obsessed with their aesthetics, unconcerned with the healthy benefits of strength training (and exercise in general). You may be confused as to what exactly I mean, and the next 4 minutes can explain exactly what I mean. Be prepared to laugh, but please don’t watch this around kids:
That video is great because they nail almost every stereotype about going to the gym. While it’s funny to laugh at, I think that more people sound like Mr. Mazzetti than not, and need some education on how they should be exercising. Seeing as knowledge is power, it’s time for me to share some links with you that will help prevent you from starting workouts with bicep curls, walking on the treadmill, asking what a foam roller is, or having an ‘ab day’. Before we get to it, let me just say one thing. I wanted a concise list of articles that will explain to you the best way to plan a single workout from beginning to end, as well as exercise selection and and nutrition. I went to the articles I frequently recommend to people to help clear things up on these topics. As it goes, it turns out that all the articles I’m using today come from Testosterone Nation. While this is a great website, I’m actually using these articles because the authors are at the top of the field, and they provide the most updated training information I can find. Now, are you ready to get your learn on? Let’s get to it.
At the beginning of the year, Jim Wendler posted a great article on T-Nation, “The World’s Simplest Training Template, in which he detailed how you should plan a single workout from beginning to end. Quite simply, you should address movement capabilities, you should strength train, and you should perform some sort of energy systems work. In three words, that’s Stretch, Lift, and Sprint. It’s an informative and important read, and you can find that article HERE.
After you read Jim’s article, you may be thinking ‘What should I do during my next workout?’ Well, then you should check out “Program Design for Dummies” by Tony Gentilcore. He explains the basics of exercise selection, how you should split things up, and how to pair exercises for quicker, more effective training sessions. Program Design for Dummies can be found HERE.
With all of this talk about exercise, I’m sure that you’re just about starved. That’s great, because you can read The Essential Berardi, which is an article that creates a SparkNotes list of the wisdom of nutritional guru John Berardi. This information covers just about exactly how you should be creating meals and picking foods, and if you need advice on gaining muscle, losing fat, or cleaning up your diet, you can learn a ton from this article. Read The Essential Berardi HERE.
Very few will disagree with direct core training, but almost everyone has their own take on how to train your abs. The information presented in 21st Century Core Training from Mike Robertson gives you information on how to train your core in the safest, most effective way possible, and can help you with performance, aesthetic, or longevity goals. If you think that bicycle crunches and leg lifts are the way to go, you definitely need to read this. Check it out HERE.
Now that you’ve gotten some background on the basics of strength training and nutrition, you may need a refresher on the basics. For that, I leave you with a two article series from Martin Rooney, titled “Train Like a Man”. (Ladies, don’t disregard this, it counts for you as well!) Rooney makes the case for the basic exercises that were used by strength athletes throughout the past century, and have been forsaken for machines and extraneous equipment. If you check out these two articles, you’ll quickly remember that some of the best exercises you can be doing are also the simplest, and that truly functional training comes down to getting stronger. Click on through to Train Like a Man Part 1, and Part 2.
With the background you’ll get from reading those articles, you’ll be well on your way to a proper education, so you don’t end up training like this guy. To me, it comes down to how smart you train, and the idea that strength training (and exercise in general) should improve your health and the quality of your life. If you focus on moving well and working hard, you’ll realize that truly functional training is based on picking things up and putting them down. How and why you do that is entirely up to you, but you should strive to do it in the most beneficial ways possible.