Some of my ideas are a little contrarian. For instance, despite how popular the flat bench press is as an upper body exercise, I think we should avoid it. This is just one “rule” in a slew of others that I’ve come to learn, including the one that really flipped my world upside down and ended up being the foundation of SOLDIER.
We wouldn’t get to any of this if I wasn’t gifted words long ago that still echo within me today — words that explain the bench press conundrum.
It was just another day of algebra class until two girls started chuckling a few desks in front of me. Every so often, they glanced in my direction. It was one of those moments when you think someone is talking about you, hope they aren’t, know they are, yet can’t say anything because if you do you’re accused of thinking the world revolves around you.
“You think you’re so special that we talk about you?”
But maybe. (A guy can hope, right?)
The alpha female whispered to her servant. My bewildered look signaled that I was onto them. The servant pigeoned her head in my direction. She covered half of her mouth with her hand, as if she knew the devastation she was about drop was huge. She was doing me a favor in keeping the blast radius small to limit public consumption.
“You have girl boobs,” she said.
I guess it wasn’t that much of a surprise. I knew I was skinny-fat. It was why I wore an undershirt to gym class. Why I always tried to ditch out on swim parties. Why I was a teeming ball of stress hormones on gym days when we had to lift up our shirt in order to test for scoliosis.
I had thin wrists. Chunky love handles. Narrow shoulders. Cheerio sized wrists. String bean arms. It was a combination so elegantly unique that only Emeril Lagasse could have cooked up such a magnificent blend of lanky and muffin top. And at the same time it was a combination so ghastly and backwards that it left me a confused mess. I couldn’t do one pull-up. Not even one good push-up. To this day, I can still wrap my hand around my wrist to touch pinky finger to my thumb.
But I took solace in thinking that no one else knew I was skinny-fat. So much for that now though. I was embarrassed of my body. I know how degrading life can feel when you aren’t comfortable in your own skin. The love handles. The “moobs.” The . . . everything that skinny-fat syndrome is about . . .
But don’t worry. There is hope, and it all starts with these two things. If I had to pick two things that I wanted you to know more than anything else, these two would be tops.
First, skinny-fat dudes have a tricky build. We’re don’t naturally carry muscle (thinner bones make for smaller muscles, typically), and we’re built like triangles. Small up top, big on the bottom. That needs to change, and there’s only a few ways to make this happen.
Following any old generic muscle building routine isn’t ideal. You need something that specifically develops what I call (a) the wings, and (b) the halo. SOLDIER is designed to develop and emphasize what’s needed to build an “X” physique. This is also why the bench press is questionable. We often carry a lot of fat and mass in the lower chest in comparison to the upper chest. The bench press, when done in the typical style, hits more lower chest than upper chest. We need special upper chest treatment.
And because muscle build tends to be tough to come by, we have to use the good methods or else we’re probably going to train our butt off and spin our wheels. This is common in those that try to go overly detailed with muscle building (obsessing over ratios and Fibonacci numbers and other garbage).
Old school guys that pioneered aesthetic training like Vince Gironda believed in developing the body in a specific way. And this wasn’t just any old haphazard process. Certain exercises were used to preferentially build certain muscle groups, and even then certain parts of the muscle were emphasized.
Only recently has this philosophy been shoved under the rug, and I’m not sure why either. Alas, I’m getting way ahead of myself. I’ll save the rest of this rant for later because we have other things to get into, like the second tip.
Second, most successful physical transformations you see are skinny-to jacked. But you can’t compare yourself to someone that doesn’t have your body. You aren’t a steroid shooting genetifreak or a skin and bones skinny guy that can shove food down your face in order to build muscle without worry of fat gain. What works for them won’t work for you.
This tip goes in tandem with the first. There’s a difference between something that works and something that works best for you. Everything is perfect for what it is. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect for you.
You need new rules.
You need to know that you’re a bit different. That’s where we will start because you have something that most people that are lean with decent muscle aesthetics never deal with.
And it changes everything.