Fitness Program & Syllabus: Summer 2023
This is an intermediate guide to weight lifting. If you have not done strength training before, you are likely not ready for this program. Similarly, if you have not completed the previous syllabi (2020 fall, 2021 spring, 2021 fall, 2022 spring, 2022 summer, 2023 list), go back and learn those foundational themes before attempting this course. This is intellectual hypertrophy training along the core themes established in the earlier material.
If you have not exercised before, I recommend any beginner program that consists of the big compound lifts: overhead press, bench press, squat and deadlift. These exercises will train multiple muscle groups and give you a full body work out. They work for any aesthetic or physique. Start with the bar and add 5 to 10 pounds every week. Do this 3 times a week followed by 20 minutes of cardio. You are guaranteed to see results. Do this consistently for six months and then come back to this program for isolation training. And read the previous syllabi while your at it!
In this program you are using progressive overload (increasing the weight after each set) and lifting until failure on the final set. Rest 2 minutes between each set and each exercise. Your third set should be loaded with an amount that you can only complete for the assigned number of reps. If you can lift more, keep going until failure. Adjust your loading for the following week to land within the assigned rep range.
For both lifting and studying, you need to take notes as you go. Each week you should record your progress for weights and completed reps. Write this down in a notebook or your notes app. The key to making progress begins with writing everything down — you will need to refer to these numbers the following week.
These movements are targeted at sculpting a classically masculine aesthetic but they will work for everyone. Most exercises are to be performed on machines. This style of isolation training targets individual muscles with minimal overlap — so don’t hold back! You can and should go all out on every exercise. Stop when you cannot physically complete another rep -OR- when your form has become so degraded that you need to dramatically change posture to complete another rep. If you find yourself changing positions, its time to stop! Going further will risk injury and put you out for several weeks.
For each new movement, the first week is about finding the amount of weight you can comfortably move at that rep range. Don’t worry about maxxing out yet. Just find the appropriate weights for the assigned number of repetitions. Each following week will either increase the number of reps (meaning you will use the same weight as last week’s set), or reduce the number of reps (meaning you will increase the weight for that set). Keep good records and always try to beat the numbers you made last week. If you keep good notes, you will see progress.
Lift slowly and control the tempo. Descend carefully and get a full range of motion. If you find yourself speeding through a set or doing partial reps, you are likely lifting too heavy. Remember, your ego is often the heaviest thing in the room. Sometimes a lighter weight will give you a better work out and yield more results in the end.
~Warm ups & back offs: During some weeks your total number of sets will vary. For lighter weights, like bicep curls or lateral raises, one warm up set is likely sufficient. For heavier lifts, like the incline bench or lat pull downs, two warm up sets is preferred and will likely increase your performance. In the later weeks of the program we will introduce a fourth “back off set”. For back of sets: reduce the weight of your third set by 15 - 20%. If you hit failure again on the last assigned rep, you know you’re at the right loading.
Lastly, any serious training regimen also requires a thoughtful diet. If you’re embarking on this project, you hopefully have some nutritional knowledge already. Proper diet will be the topic of another long form post in the future, but for now keep these very basic principles in mind: 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight + balanced macros of carbs and fat. I recommend the Cronometer app for tracking nutrition. If you haven’t done this before, you will learn a lot in the first week. (You may not know what your real habits are.) Calculate your maintenance level calories and adjust as needed for your goals.
This is a 15 week semester long fitness program. Don’t do it for more than 15 weeks. Ideally you are rotating most exercises every 8-10 weeks to maximize results. This program is biased toward aesthetic development of the upper body. Ideally, it should be preceded and followed by upper/lower splits.
Exercise is a good way to regulate your life. One week, you’re in a killer show and you feel on top of the world. The next week, you’re in debt and there’s nothing on the wall. Creative careers have ups and downs. But a 45 pound plate is always a 45 pound plate. No matter how you’re feeling about your work, day to day, the iron is the same every week. Making linear progress helps to keep your eyes set on the long term goal and helps you to overcome unpredictable hurdles.
Similarly, living your life through an obsession with social media or politics, is a bad hobby which usually leads to poor mental health outcomes. Everyone on the left, right, up, down and sideways can benefit from self care activities like “cleaning your room”. But contrary to Peterson, the point of self maintenance is to better keep your eyes set on the long term goal (art, politics or otherwise), not to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
Creative careers and big political shifts both last a lifetime. They don’t happen in a single news-cycle. Neoliberalism took almost 40 years to enact and it has lasted another 40 since. Having a consistent practice (both artistic and physical) will help keep you occupied in the short term so you don’t burn out in the long term.
Super Secret Syllabus v.2023 — Summer
This syllabus is drawn from materials discussed in the Discord and videos reviewed on the Twitch stream. Coursework is portioned out to ~90 minutes a week over a 15 week semester. If you’re only here for the syllabus, scroll all the way down.
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