Fitness Distilled

Do You Know How To Train?

I spent a lot of years “learning” about training and nutrition before I really knew a thing. I’m still learning, of course, and there’s plenty I don’t know or understand, but most of the information I’ve come across has been useless or, at best, mediocre.


The facts and principles that led to my best gains, and the gains of others, boil down to surprisingly few, and it wasn’t until I could answer questions like the ones below correctly that I really saw progress. Some of these are gimmes and some should provoke a little thought. Take the quiz and see if you really know how to train.


The Do-You-Actually-Know-Anything Quiz

1 How do you bench press?

A) With your arms flared out 90 degrees and your back flat

B) With your elbows tucked 45 degrees and your back arched

C) With your ass up in the air


2 What’s the best method for getting stronger?

A) Five sets of five

B) Taking every set to failure

C) Working up to a 5-, 3-, or 1RM

D) Drinking a post-workout protein shake


This is how we do.


3 Which of the following will do the most for biceps growth (most of the time)?

A) Mentally connecting with the muscle and squeezing it on every rep

B) Working up to where you can cheat curl 135 for a rep or two

C) Doing only chinup variations

D) Getting a tattoo of barbed wire around your biceps


4 Which of the following is the best way to “see your abs”?

A) Cut out carbs

B) Do an assload of crunches

C) Cut a few hundred calories from your diet and balance your macros

D) Do more crunches


5 Your elbows hurt but you want to keep training. Which of the following are probably the safest exercises?

A) Triceps pushdowns and hammer curls

B) Overhead triceps extensions and supinated curls

C) Chinups


6 What’s the best source of nutrition post-workout?

A) A sugar-laden shake

B) A banana

C) A hard-boiled egg

D) Whey protein in water



Don’t hit this too hard.

7 What type of workout burns the most fat long-term?

A) Circuit training

B) Supersetting

C) It doesn’t really matter

D) Cardio


8 Which area of the body must you be extra careful not to overtrain?

A) The triceps

B) The lower back

C) The upper back

D) The calves


9 What is the worst music a gym could possibly play?

A) Metal

B) Gangsta rap

C) Lounge

D) Modern country

E) Anything by Justin Bieber

F) The soundtrack to Titanic (yes, I really heard this one day)


Too soon?


10 Which of the following assistance lifts is the best choice to build your squat, when you’re weak coming out of the hole?

A) Leg press

B) Pause squat

C) Hip thrust

D) More crunches



1) B. Yes, answer A will hit the pecs better, but answer B lets you lift more weight without wrecking your shoulders.

2) C. 5×5 only works for beginners. When you get to the intermediate stage, working up to a new rep max every week keeps gains coming.

3) A. Progressive overload, as described in B, will work to a point. But eventually it will just wreck your elbows. Time under tension is a better strategy for pure growth.

4) C. Long-term, this is the only way you can trust.

5) A. These are the biomechanically safest positions, most of the time.

6) B. Immediately post-workout all you need is carbs, and a natural source is better than one with processed sugar.

7) C. Your diet results in fat loss. Any number of workouts can get you lean.

8) B. Watch the spacing of squats, deadlifts, and back extensions in your workouts.

9) E, or F. Possibly D as well

10) B. It’s the most specific to the goal.


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