Lack Of Sustained Muscle Development Will Steadily Contribute To Your Demise

Normal Fitness is not an age related website. The exercises and insights are not aimed at any particular age. But it was not started without the internal concern of how important sustained muscle development is throughout anybody’s life.

I look around every week at people (I’ll be referring to men for this example) who are in their 30s and 40s who are going about their lives with no thought of their physical condition. If they can work, eat, play, and otherwise socialize, they don’t have any awareness that slowly, their limbs are getting softer and their midsection is growing and sagging.

At that age range it doesn’t cause many problems with most. What few are aware of is not only the general health consequences of lack of exercise. They have no concept of the lack of strength training robbing them of life now, and resulting in severe consequences later.

When they hit close to my age, they’re suddenly in the unenviable position of having to play catch up. And if their health has been largely neglected, that may be difficult to accomplish.

What “Later” Means In Muscle Development

“Later” is one of the most insidious words in the English language. At this writing I’m almost 60 years old. I don’t mention that very much here because it gives peoples an incorrect perception of what and who I am writing to and for. I, like most people have taken a “later” attitude on many things throughout life.

Now I’ve actually reached “later”. That’s what we really don’t count on when we think “later”.

Having said that, even though I work out, sometimes rabidly, there is no telling the consequences of what I have or haven’t done to or for my body in decades past. But over the last couple of years, walking through nursing homes with ailing parents as residents, I have come to the place where absent something beyond my control, I’ll fight frailty with everything in me for as long as I’m able.

And I have a legitimate concern for the people I see and know every week who don’t give a thought to their future physical condition. I’ve worked out at some level, including strength training all my adult life. That gives me at least some advantage at this stage of life.

The Terrible Realization That Muscle Is Missing

But what is awful is watching people you care about hit their mid 50s and realize something is missing. Instead of building on a muscular platform, they begin to accommodate their frailty. That’s a shame knowing that people well into their 70s and even beyond can build muscle and strength.

To be clear, this is not about becoming bodybuilders and power lifters. It is about systematically making muscle and strength development a part of life that remains throughout the entire time we remain functional.

When you reach your mid 50s or early 60s do you want to be working on how to strengthen your ankles? Do you want to be walking for exercise because you’ve waited too long and are too frail to do anything else?

Or would you rather blast into your later years able to run and jump and climb and lift for whatever you want to do in that stage of life? Do you want to be able to defend yourself, your family, your friends?

Reality Of What Intentional Muscle And Strength Development Means

Sustained muscle development means not only ability to do what you want to do in life. It is essential for health, especially in later years, protecting internal organs. It is especially important in the event of surgery both in the earlier years and critical when you are older.

So, Normal Fitness is for you if you are new to fitness training, have worked at it for a while, are having difficulty staying motivated, looking for new ways to break through sticking points in your muscle development.

If you’re wanting to ramp up your physical training from a once in a while conviction to a true lifestyle, I’m genuinely cheering for you.

It’s Never Too Late

Oh, and by the way, after everything I wrote above about the consequences of waiting, if that’s what you’ve done, forgive yourself. If you are in your 60s and realizing you are in trouble physically, assuming you are in relatively good health, it’s not too late to get started.

You may be amazed at what you can accomplish.

After you’ve looked through the site, feel free to contact me. I’ll be glad to everything I can to help you find your way through the sometimes confusing world of strength training.


The Conflicts Of Strength Training With Weights And Machines

Two doses of reality to start this article on what really works for strength training with weights:

1. Almost everything works for somebody under some conditions.
2. Almost everything can be dangerous under some condition(s) for anybody.

In the world of exercise and fitness, particularly strength training, for every expert that endorses some strength method, or strength equipment, there will be an expert that says it’s terrible.

That is a fact to deal with going in to any kind of training. Whether it’s for getting in better shape to be able to play with your grandkids to training for a Tough Mudder it’s either great or terrible according to which expert you hear from.

An Indisputable Strength Fact

That said, here is a fact that is indisputable to help us all at least get a glimpse of daylight through the fog: Lifting some kind of weight on a regular basis over some period of time will result in greater strength for almost everybody.

Vague as far as specifics, but the closest to a statement that can be made without much conflict.

Problem with the statement is it is so vague it doesn’t help anybody who is trying to get started or trying to progress. We need specifics from somebody who knows what they’re talking about.

The Basics Of Strength Training With Weights That Never Change

So, here is a more precise statement for anybody just beginning strength training: Try to begin with free weights, standard or Olympic, either one. Basic strength exercises that will remain with you as long as you are healthy are bench presses, squats, deadlifts. Learn to do them safely and with good form for safety and effectiveness.

Ok. That’s another statement that is not likely to be met with much resistance. Those are lifts that can be performed with only minimal equipment, even if you don’t have access to a barbell. They can be done with dumbbells and a bench or reasonable replication of a bench.

For supplemental exercises, use free weight dumbbells, kettlebells, weighted balls, etc. All free weighted items. For the most part, no real issues.

Where The Controversy Swells

Now, let’s get a bit more controversial about what really works for strength related weight lifting.

Use machines.

That two word statement is likely to send some dedicated weight junkies into a spastic fit of rage. Even suggesting that anything mechanical can produce anything resembling real strength or muscle development is ludicrous.

Ok, now that I’ve tread on this ground, I’ll just go ahead and make it worse.

Here it comes. Brace yourself. Use a Smith Machine for bench presses and squats (God forbid this unholy travesty), a seated leg extension machine (shades of indecency and knee destruction), a pec deck for chest development (horrors of your pectoral muscles being torn from their platform and thrown in a bloody heap on the gym floor).

Sorry for the big long sentence but I was so nervous typing it, I had to hurry and get it over with.

I could go on, but that should be enough to end up with me being trashed as being worse than Satan himself on any forum it lands on.

Now to be clear, I’m not endorsing any particular weight, system, lift, or machine.

So what does Normal Fitness recommend for strength training?

Well, aside from the first three exercises mentioned in the first non-controversial statement, the bench press, squat, and deadlift, nothing.

Oh, and anything that you need to meet the goals of your fitness pursuits. In other words whatever you need to do and use to achieve what you’re training for.

Reality Of Danger In Strength Training

The fact is there is danger in every free weight of any size you pick up. There is danger in any machine you sit, stand, or lie in. There is danger in every move you make. There are inherent dangers in every system of exercise on the market.

But all of them work for somebody. That’s why the fitness industry is a mega billion dollar business entity.

Where To Look For Strength And Muscle Training Confirmation

Some of the top bodybuilders on earth use the machines that are most commonly opposed for various reasons online by a multitude of experts. These are not people who are functionally challenged. Most of them have full lives outside the gym.

They run, jump, ride, swim, compete in lots of activities that require extreme versatility and agility. I’ve known some accomplished bodybuilders who are/were serious and capable martial artists. The use of both free weights and machines as a general principle only strengthens and enhances their ability to do what they do.

Take “Appropriate” Very Seriously

The key to using those machines effectively is to use them with appropriate weights for appropriate reasons in an appropriate way at the appropriate time in appropriate combinations with other equipment. Don’t follow all of those appropriates and you will be verifying the experts’ warnings.

So, how do you proceed in all this confusion?

Figure out precisely what you want to accomplish. Find out what kind of strength training it will take to accomplish it. Determine what equipment it will take to get it done, including free weights and/or weight machines.

Learn the advantages, what each move, weight, machine will do. Follow the guidance of verified, accomplished experts who endorse machines and learn how to use them safely and effectively. Pay attention to equally accomplished detractors to those same machines for caution about what to watch for when using them.

Best of both worlds. Use them for the benefits. Use care to avoid adverse effects or injury.

Use everything you need to meet your training goals. Use caution with everything you use.

Keep in mind that no one weight, device, machine or system is an end all for your fitness pursuits.

Always keep in mind that everything including your weight training, is part of something else.

Use it all.


Two Questions About Exercise To Stay Motivated For Fitness

I often answer questions for people concerning their fitness pursuits and exercise. “Where do I start?” is one of the most common points of confusion about exercise.

To determine where to start and how to proceed there are two specific questions you have to ask yourself.


What are you wanting to achieve that requires exercise?

The first question to figure out where to start exercising is, “What do I want to do?” Where you start should be determined by what you want to do. Does what you want to do require that you become stronger, faster, more enduring or maybe a combination of those?

That’s how to determine where you will start exercising toward meeting your fitness goals. Pursuing exercises that will actually be dynamic and help you do what you want to do will go a long way toward continual motivation.

Keep a goal in front of you continuously to keep something to enthusiastically work towards.

The second exercise/fitness question is, “What can I live with?”

What will I be doing three weeks from now, three months from now, a year from now? Are the exercises I’m doing today going to still be working in a year?

If you keep doing the same ones over and over again the same way, probably not.

That’s a critical question in people getting discouraged a few months into their newfound exercise. Exercise works quickly when you first start. But as quickly as it works, it also stops working just as quickly and abruptly.

Your body gets acclimated to routines of exercise, causing gains in strength, endurance, speed to slow or cease. This is where people often find themselves on what seems to be a hamster wheel of chasing the newest exercise systems. But staying out of routines is what is most important in ensuring you don’t hit a plateau and that you keep making gains.

Avoid exercise plateau stall-outs and discouragement at all costs.

The way I stay motivated and keep from getting stale or hitting the dreaded plateau is that I hardly ever do the same workout more than once or twice in any 3 or 4 week period.

The video is filmed on a day when I am in a wooded area carrying rocks from 15 lbs to about 50 lbs up and down the hillside. People reading this may immediately think “I can’t stand carrying rocks all the time.”

Keep in mind the point of this article is not the exercise, but varying whatever exercise you do. Carrying rocks is a small part of what I do in 25-30 workouts per month. That one exercise as a workout is only done once or twice in a four week period.

Women reading this and watching the video may think it’s for men only. Not so.Unique Fitness Exercise

Everything on the Normal Fitness website is for men or women unless specifically focused on one or the other. Women can do pretty much any strength training a man can do. And they’ll get the same strength and endurance benefits from it.

My daughter, Jacquilyn, works out in the woods shown in the video. She runs, does calisthenics, lifts, climbs just like me only better. She’s a martial artist and this all fits in with what she wants to do and pursuing those goals.

Men or women, if getting your hands and clothes dirty is too much of an issue, you will lock yourself out of some great fitness opportunities outdoors.

Exercise on the ground

Over decades of workout out for various reasons, I’ve learned that for my muscle and endurance I can work all muscle groups in the gym, my back yard, the woods, on my deck, in my weight room, at a lake, etc. I use all of those resources throughout each month.

Using all those provides both strength and endurance along with dynamic function to maximize your fitness level.

Summary – The two questions to ask yourself when pursuing your fitness goals:
1. What do I want to do.
2. What can I live with.

Drop a note to me through the contact form in the sidebar. I’d be happy to hear about your unique fitness challenge or accomplishment.


The Motivation To Move

Exercise For What It’s Worth

That’s what is required to exercise for the sake of training, health, fitness or just function. Motivation to exercise involves the target for that exercise. The target is what you’re exercising for.

If you’re not motivated, is it worth it?

That means is it worth being able to do what you want to do when you’re young? Is it worth it as an enhancement for your health? Is it worth it to work through some pain and discomfort from some physical condition or past injury?

If you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s and frustrated because you can’t quite manage yourself into a regular workout, the motivation to move may be what’s missing.

That lack of personal management will likely be the cause of significant suffering when you get into your older years. Your physical body doesn’t just maintain itself without anything from you.

The Beginning of the Motivation To Exercise

The first step to motivation is dropping the excuses and understanding that if you’re not doing it, that means you don’t want to.

It does not mean that you can’t.

Get past that one factor or you get nowhere.

You’ll be making the same frustrating excuses a year from now acting like life just overtakes you to the point you can’t exercise. That has to be understood to be utter bull with most people.

Painful Self Examination

What it means for most people is that they’re not willing to give up any time for something less important to do what they know is critical for their current and future physical function. It sounds more noble when the words “I just don’t have time” make it sound like you’re just so productive and busy you can’t exercise.

Sorry. That doesn’t fly and nobody believes it. It’s best to just not answer why if that’s the only reason.

Discomfort does not exclude most people from exercise.

What about physical discomfort? What about joint, muscle, neck pain from past injuries?

I’m not a doctor, but I have pretty much had to work out managing past injuries from my feet up through my neck. Not just light injuries. Tears in every limb. Multiple damaged muscles, broken ribs, broken foot, torn ligaments, torn biceps tendon …. on and on it goes.

I have good sounding excuses if I ever want to just stop because so much stuff is uncomfortable or just downright painful.

But I’m just not willing to stop moving as I age. My intent is to do as much in as many different ways as I can to strengthen, stretch, perform in ways that will allow me to help other people do the same.

If it’s worth it, here’s your answer.

What about you? Is it worth it? If the answer is yes, the following may be helpful in getting started.

  • Look through this website for ideas, not whole workouts. Same with other fitness websites.
  • Find the exercises that you need to work your body for what you want to do.
  • Forget locking into any kind of schedule. You can workout any time of day or night. Every day can be different. Just be sure it happens.
  • When you decide on the initial exercises, find multiple creative ways to do them in different locations.
  • Get started and stay entertained.
  • As you go stay focused on the reason you workout, not the exercise itself.
  • Challenge yourself constantly. Don’t do anything because somebody else can do it.

Finally, it comes around in a circle. Excuses you’ve quoted in the past have to be admitted for what they are.

Excuses. Nothing more.

Now it’s time to get started on the lifestyle that’s yours from simply removing excuses and starting.

To your strong fitness and good health.


How To Use A Thousand Workouts For Your Fitness Goals

People spend billions per year on fitness products. From food to supplements to workout trends to diets with cool names. Billions.

But virtually all single workouts done repetitiously over time (few weeks to a few months) end up with the user hitting a wall. Or you may hear it referred to as the dreaded Plateau.

It’s where somebody starts a set workout and repeats it week after week. They make good gains at first. Then suddenly …… the plateau. They stop progressing.

They’re still working out. They’re still working hard. But their strength progress has stalled. Their endurance work has been stifled. Their muscle growth comes to a halt.


If that’s you don’t feel bad. Anybody who has worked out consistently over time has had this happen at least once. Lots have had it happen over and over.

Erasing the fitness workout plateau forever

But what if you could workout, stay motivated, never get bored, and never stop progressing? Would you want a workout like that? Most anybody would.

The down side is there is not a workout like that. All of them fail after a while.

There are however a couple of ways around hitting the plateau.

1. The first is to use a commercial workout program. It can be any one. Use it for a few weeks.

Then get a new one. Repeat over and over for the rest of your life.

2. The second choice is to use a thousand workouts.

Well, maybe not quite that many, but that will be enough to make my point. Here’s how I workout, love it, never get bored, and never hit the plateau.

For example, what should you use to work your abs? How about your chest/shoulders?

Ab Workouts




Answer(s): One of these. Some of these. All of these. None of these. Something else.

Pec-Shoulder Workout




Which one of these famous workout systems is best for you?

Workout Systems



Answer(s): One of these. Some of these. All of these. None of these. Something else.

No it’s not a mistake. The answer is every one of those listed. You can take any or all of the exercises in these workouts and assemble them to make them work for your goals.

Here’s what all these workouts are for.

You see, if you use any of these workout systems alone for an extended period of time, you will hit the wall. You’ll have to change something no matter what. Knowing that, why set yourself up for frustration?

Read about Crossfit. Look at various workouts. Pull out what you can use. Leave the rest for later workouts.

Video P90X and Insanity commercials. Look at all the different exercises. Use what you need to meet your goals. The others will be on standby.

Mixing up your workouts is the key to never hitting the plateau.

You can combine the exercises from these workouts with weight training, endurance work, swimming, outdoor workouts or any other fitness exercise you need to do. In other words mix it up and keep it mixed up. Never get locked into a fitness “routine”.

Be ready to do completely different workouts for upper and lower body each time you workout. Look at all the exercises for what you need to work. Then put them to work. Different ones for each workout.

You can keep a few major strength exercises in your work consistently. These are squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, bent rows. Using these regularly mixed in with all your other exercises will help you continue to build overall body strength no matter the goals from your workouts.

Doing that you never get bored. You never have to hit a plateau. You don’t lock in to a workout that’s developed for the masses.

You use any or all of a thousand workouts just for you.

Exercise like a pro. No boredom. No routine. No plateau. Normal Fitness.


Don’t Let The Word “Burn” Applied To Weight Loss Cost You A Fortune

Burn. The word immediately attracts attention. That’s why it’s so intentionally misused in the fitness industry. For example, how many times have you seen or heard the following:

  • Burns belly fat
  • Fat burning
  • Fat burning food
  • Fat burning (supplement)
  • Burns calories
  • Best fat burning foods

And words that implicate burning

  • Toast your abs
  • Melts away fat
  • Flab melting
  • Cooks off belly fat

Now, if in conversation, we’re talking about something working well to lose weight, we may use this terminology. That means we know what we’re actually talking about and not using the language to sell something under false pretenses.

Here is a dose of fitness fat burning reality.

  • There is no fat burning supplement.
  • There is no fat burning food.
  • There is nothing that targets fat burning on any specific body part including the notorious belly.
  • There is no fat burning exercise
  • There is no calorie burning food, supplement, exercise or mind/body application.

Why? Because your body does not burn anything.

It USES it.

The word burn has been developed because it is dramatic and initiates an emotional response which sells. Which sounds more dramatic and appealing?:
This ________ burns belly fat off at warp speed like a bonfire.  [or]
This ________ helps your body use up fat for energy, decreasing a small amount of it each time you use it. Over time, if you eat correctly, it often results in a trimmer waistline as well as other body parts.

If you’re not sure, you’re in a very small minority.

Fitness marketers know exactly which sounds best. That’s why the word burn and words that imply burning are used across the board.

Effective? Yes.
Dishonest? Yes. 

Here’s what fat burning looks like. Fat burns when it hits a fire.

 Fat Burning

So, you’re doing fat burning exercises, taking fat burning supplements, eating fat burning foods. Here’s the caveat. If you don’t have smoke coming out your pores and flames coming out your eye sockets, ears and nose, you’re not burning anything.

Being even more specific, if you are targeting fat burning specifically for your belly, if the advertisements are accurate, your midsection should burst into flames and smoke when you do them.

Sorry. I have nothing against effective marketing, sales, and businesses making money with good products.

I hate deceptive language that uses words like burn to make people who are not aware of the deception buy products. This is not to say that there are not some products that help your body metabolize more efficiently. They are however, gradual and always combined with strategic eating to accomplish results.

The reality of fat loss.

There is no such thing as targeted fat removal. Fat is removed from your body when your body uses it up faster than it is replaced. That requires a change in eating habits and activity to enhance fat loss.

That said, the fat is lost throughout the body; not just from one spot on the body. Genetically, most people appear to have target areas where they lose or gain more weight than others. That’s all it is. Genetics.

They lose or gain in one spot because of their bodily architecture, not because fat is targeted on those spots.

To lose (burn) belly fat or any other body part fat, eating has to change to use more fat and calories than are consumed. That will apply to your whole body. Not just one spot.


It’s not complicated. It’s not burning anything. It’s eating to deal with fat loss, calorie loss, carbohydrate loss, and any other loss your body initiates through simply using it.

It’s about what your body takes in vs what it uses.