I click it

Welcome again to “I Click It,” where I get past a confusing headline designed to make you view a page that may be useful or crap. Today we return to Men’s Health, where today I found this waiting for me:

A New Way to Use a BarbellHmm, a new way to use a barbell? Perhaps as a weapon in some new Mixed Martial Art? Maybe a very sturdy but short flagpole? Then again, there are a few gym rats whom I’ve wanted to show a new way to use a…but I digress. I was intrigued. So let’s see what we got:

DynamicLungeUm, yeah.

It’s a dumbbell lunge, but you put a barbell in front of you so you’re forced to step over it. Which…pretty much does nothing to help.

The problem here is that if you’re using the proper form in your lunge, with your back knee just touching the ground, you’re going to take a very uniform step. Putting an obstacle in front of you to step over won’t really change that—with one exception they don’t show you in the above drawing: you’re going to need to kind of kick your front foot out on each step, making you look a little bit like a Monty Python character but not really changing the benefit you get from the exercise.

Then when you push back up, you’ll have to kick it out again, which may have a benefit but may just make you lose your balance. The theory as stated in the article is that guys don’t lunge as far as they should or as “explosively” (not a word I’d use for a lunge motion) as they should, and maybe by having to do that little kick it will help correct these flaws. I’ve tried a couple of sets of this myself, and I don’t feel anything different.

In fact, performing a normal lunge seems to hit my legs harder than the “dynamic” lunge. Then again, maybe I have better form than the guys they’re hoping to help.

The article then moves to side lunges, which again, seem to differ only through having to lift the leg a tad higher on the way over the bar. Then an actual not-new way to use a barbell, but one that might be new to you: the Hack Squat. This is like a reverse deadlift where you hold the barbell behind you. This one is fun to try, so here’s a video to help:

This cavalcade of barbell newness concludes with the Single-leg Deadlift Reach, which is just a regular Single Leg Deadlift with dumbbells, but at the bottom of the reach you tap the dumbbell on…you guessed it, the barbell. This will presumably help by making loud clanging noises, inciting the others in the gym to chase you for a more complete leg workout. If you want to reach down to a consistent spot, put a 12″ box down at that spot, and maybe cover it with a mat so you don’t annoy everyone. Here’s how to do a Single-Leg Deadlift:

The verdict? These are all great exercises. Lunges are a great part of a workout, hack squats are fun to try in place of a deadlift, and a single-leg deadlift is great for balance and posture.

But while maybe I’m missing something, I think lunges with proper form will actually work your legs better than lunges over a 10-12″ obstacle, because you can concentrate on the part of the workout where you lunge, rather than having to kick your leg up or out and risk whacking your ankle or losing your balance. You can see some proper form in the No-Weights Workout.

You’re welcome.

Ready for Liftoff? [Men’s Health]

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Since I brought you the inaugural “I Click It” post, there’s good news and bad: on the plus side, it looks like Men’s Health has fixed the worst examples of incredibly non-descriptive “teases.” On the negative side, the actual articles behind those links are still often useless.

Yesterday this was the headline I saw in my RSS inbox:

how old do you look

Okay, this is kind of unfair: anyone with a shard of brain in their head should be skeptical of that come-on from the get-go. But in the spirit of clicking it so you don’t have to, I pressed on. What would the questions be? “What is your waist-to-shoulder ratio“? “Are you balding”? “Do you have visible serratus muscles“?

Unfortunately, this quiz doesn’t even go that deep. Instead, it’s nine lifestyle and nutrition questions:

  1. How often have you had a good night’s sleep?
  2. Selected whole-grain products instead of white bread, white pasta and white rice?
  3. Been able to control your irritation with situations in your life?
  4. Done resistance-training exercises (training major muscle groups with your bodyweight, freeweights or weight machines)?
  5. Weighed yourself?
  6. Used a moisturizer with sunscreen on your face?
  7. Eaten colorful fruits and vegetables with every meal?
  8. Taken fish-oil supplements or eaten two to three servings of fish weekly?
  9. Done regular stretching exercises, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, or lap swimming?

First, why aren’t these all at least complete sentences? Second, even answering a few of these “sometimes” rather than “very often” gets you the response that “wrinkles are starting to show.” And the question “Weighed yourself?” is out of left field: the MH editors should know as well as anyone that weight isn’t what you should be looking at — lean muscle can make you heavier — body fat percentage and measurements are more important.

But those aren’t even the primary problems with this quiz. Let’s just say that performing all of these tasks daily will keep you from wrinkling, losing your hair or going gray. When you start doing these things makes just as much — or more — difference as what you do. If I’ve been working out and eating like an athlete since I was 20, yeah, I’m probably going to rock the 30-year reunion. But if I’m 55 and I just began a massively healthy lifestyle after decades of smoking, partying and eating nothing but kielbasa and pork butt, I shouldn’t expect to look 45, or even necessarily even 55.

Verdict: while this quiz is a clever way of telling you what you should be doing (except maybe weighing yourself daily) to start slowing the visible march of time, as a gauge of anything else at all it’s about as useful as the old acquaintance with the fake grin who tells you “you haven’t aged in 20 years.”

Is Your Body Younger than Your Birth Certificate? [Men’s Health]

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I Click It So You Don’t Have To: “Sip Smarter”

August 16, 2009 Health & Fitness

Men’s Health is one of the many sites in my RSS feed reader, and it’s also one of the worst at using properly descriptive titles and descriptions for articles in its feed. In short, they want to force you to click their “teaser” to read the nugget of wisdom on their site — also forcing […]

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