I hear so many people complaining about how they have to drag themselves to the gym or force themselves to go outside for a run. To me, that's no way to live. I can't imagine having to force myself to do anything, much less do it every day.
While I know there is a small minority of people for whom any kind of physical activity is an unwelcome chore, for most it brings good feelings — of accomplishment, of vitality and even of inner peace. The trick is in finding the particular activity that appeals to you.
I am a fan of weightlifting. Lifting a weight and feeling my muscles contract is something I have always relished. For you, though, it could be a run through a park, or a swim, or maybe a game of tennis.
While I'll always be a proponent of the weights, I still say it's more important that you do something, anything, than it is to force yourself into a gym. Find that which you enjoy, and it will enrich your life for years to come.
Q: What are your thoughts on circuit training? Can I get the same benefits from it that I would by doing a more involved bodybuilding type of routine?
A: Circuit training, as you know, is a form of training in which a person goes through a series of machines set up to work the entire body in a specific order. One complete go-round through all the machines (usually anywhere from five to eight) constitutes a "circuit." Several circuits at once will constitute a workout.
Can circuit training replace conventional bodybuilding training in terms of the level of strength and development you'll receive? In my opinion, no, for a couple of reasons. One is that circuit training is machine training, and while I am all for incorporating machines into your workouts, sole reliance on them isn't a good thing. Training with barbells, dumbbells and cables works ancillary muscles in addition to the major target muscles. Also, circuit training limits you to one exercise per body part, which doesn't allow you to work a muscle from the variety of angles bodybuilding training does.
Still, circuit training is a fine way to get in a full body workout quickly, and because the rest period between sets is brief, it gives you a cardio workout, as well. I guess then I would have to say that while I don't believe circuit training is better than traditional bodybuilding training, it's far better than not training at all.
Q: My 16-year-old son is very focused on adding muscle right now. His football coach suggested he add at least 10 pounds of muscle if he wants to be more competitive next season. Consequently, I always see him with protein bars in hand and making shakes. I keep telling him to eat real food, but he insists the supplements are "engineered" to make him grow. Should I be concerned?
A: I wouldn't say that you need be concerned, but I do agree with you that your son's diet should be comprised mainly of whole foods. The bars and shake mixes are called "supplements" because they are meant to do just that: supplement your meals.
As you may know, I produce a line of supplements and have for many years. Certainly there isn't anything dangerous in our bars and shakes, or those of any of our competitors. But as with everything, moderation is key. Too much of anything can ultimately cause harm, supplements included.
No supplement can provide you with the total range of nutrients in a wholesome package than the foods found in the perimeter of your grocery store. That would be fruits and vegetables, milk and egg products, and meat and fish. If your son relies on three to four meals a day containing these foods and then supplements with a shake or two or a bar, he'll have the basis for a healthy, weight-gaining diet.
Joe Weider is acclaimed as "the father of modern bodybuilding" and the founder of the world's leading fitness magazines, including Shape, Muscle and Fitness, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Hers, Golf for Seniors and others published worldwide in over 20 languages.