For instance, to some people my lifts would be impressive, they would call me anything but a beginner, but to me, being a measly 170 lbs looking around at guys with a good eighty pounds on me who double all of my best lifts, I have a hard time calling myself anything more than a novice lifter. I only see years of hard work in front of me.
So the question is, at what point does a beginner grow into something else? Is there some sort of standard we could figure out, at least a rough estimate?
Well, honestly I suppose it doesn't matter too much, titles and all, you should always train hard and eat big regardless of "beginner" status.
But as a kid who trained only big compound exercises for a long time, to build a beginning base of strength and athleticism, when should I have thrown some more variety in there and individualized exercises more? When did I have enough strength to branch out? I suspect I limited my training by only following beginner programs for too long, so that is why it matters, to me at least.
Yup. There is never a good time to not hit the muscles you want to be bigger and stronger. Getting better at the "big" lifts is great, but there's no logic behind ignoring other muscles to focus on the lifts that other people tell you are more important. If you've been lifting for 1 day, you're ready to branch out and work out whatever you want to work out.
Oh I have started working all my muscles, believe me. I'm VERY happy with my results.
But the question isn't so much for me, as it is for very young lifters. Say in a couple years a kid comes up to me, 15 years old, 105 lbs. soaking wet.. He asks if I can help him get bigger and stronger, fast, lets say he wants to play linebacker or something..
Should I just start this kid out full on muscle specialization every workout, or should I stick to basics? I've always felt like the basics (Squat, Deadlift, OH Press, etc.) really helped me become a good athlete. Now that I'm specializing more I'm seeing some crazy gains, but I'm wondering if it would have been a good idea to branch out when I was squatting, say, 200, instead of what I squat now. (Squat being used as an arbitrary indicator of strength.) I trained my guts out on big lifts, and got strong and fast, but could I have gotten stronger, and faster, quicker by specializing?
Is there always room for more muscle individualization? I suppose I really am trying to make something tangible out of something very intangible and open to fluctuation.. Everyone is different after all.
It just depends on what the person wants. If he wants to be stronger and more muscular, why leave out training certain muscles? In your hypothetical situation, this kid is nowhere close to being an elite athlete whose focus should be on training to improve performance. There would be nothing wrong with doing some of the more explosive lifts you see athletes doing, but see if you can find a middle linebacker in the NFL with 14 inch biceps.
but my understanding is that being a beginner means that gains are linear. so you do a program like 'starting strength' and you can add weight to the bar each time you train.
when you come near the end of your beginners gains you can't make linear progress anymore. you try - but you fail. you simply can't add weight to the bar every time you train and get through all your sets.
that is a sad day indeed
things are harder now. you have to be a bit more cunning in forcing your body to adapt.
you want to be a beginner making beginners gains for as long as you possibly can.
The people that promote these beginner programs stole all their ideas from people that wrote the same damn program 30-50 years before that. Then they removed the curls and raises and shit to make them the villains, because every weak dork at the gym only does curls. SO it must be the curls' fault he is a weak dork. Wrong...
These people can't tell the truth, because the truth doesn't sell books. What sells books is feeding into the ego of new lifters, by making them feel superior to people who have made more progress than them, because "they don't do assistance" lifts. When the truth is, 99% of people who pick up a weight won't still be lifting 3 years later. You don't make any money off the 1%...
Look, you think two things are mutually exclusive, getting big strong and athletic & doing curls and lateral raises so you actually look like you lift. They are not.
You need to undrink the cool-aide man, and come back to reality. You can toss in some curls at the end of your 16th squat workout of the week, and it isn't going to do anything but help.
There's no right answer. I'd call someone strong if they can: deadlift 2.5 X body weight, squat 2X body weight, and bench press 1.5 x body weight. Being strong is an indication of lifting weights beyond the beginner stage.