Gaining Mass and Related Thoughts On Simplicity

Below are two video clips from the legendary Jack Lalanne. Within each, Jack shares several tips for those interested in gaining weight. Don’t expect a detailed discussion of molecular science, but do expect several easy to follow suggestions.

One of the reasons that I enjoy Lalanne’s old clips is his ability to simplify those topics that others try so hard to complicate. Why must others make exercise out to be so complex? As E.F. Schumacker once said,

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”

Unfortunately, many in this industry would rather leave your head spinning. They strive to create confusion in topics that a 5th grader could easily comprehend. They’ll throw together a few basic movements and then create a fancy name that “defines” the workout, as if a fancy name somehow adds another level of sophistication. After all, if you are confused, you’ll become dependent on the guru and his advice. If you become self sufficient, you offer nothing in return. How can the guru purchase a new sports car if you don’t need him to hold your hand at the gym?

I’ve read articles where it seems like the author is competing in a 4+ syllable word contest. How many 4 or more syllable words can he include within a 1000 word article?

And please do not confuse the meaning behind this entry. I have nothing against 4 syllable words. I am not being fastidious with my repugnance for provocative word selection, if such verbiage is both appropriate and conscientious. Yet, the superfluity of words must not intentionally stray from elementary concepts such as simplicity. Such intentional and incorrigible overuse of 4 syllable words would be deemed inappropriate, irrepressible, and perhaps indecipherable, even to those with unsurpassed intelligence acquired at the most magnificent universities.

Now, moving on from my moment of sarcasm, let’s get back to the subject of simplicity. Look at the Jack’s picture above from 1954. Jack was in top shape long before most of us were born. He achieved his strength long before the latest and greatest breakthroughs were revealed online. Many of my former coaches were also in top shape long before the Internet. And please don’t take this as a knock against education or science. My wife is a teacher and I’m a science junkie. I’m not against learning. I just happen to be in support of Schumacker’s advice (listed above).

The Internet has changed the fitness industry. Never before has getting in shape been made out to be so complex. I’m only in my 30s, but even we didn’t have the Internet when I was in high school. I didn’t learn of the Internet until my freshman year in college. Back in the day, no one assumed that a degree in rocket science was required to build strength in the gym. I know groups of guys who may have had one brain between the entire group, yet were monsters in the gym. Not many athletes and gym rats were in contention for valedictorian. I’d be willing to bet that our high school valedictorian didn’t know the difference between a pull-up and a chin-up. Fitness wasn’t his gig.  Exercise wasn’t thought of as one of the lucrative fields to pursue. There were still loads of strong and amazing athletes however. The difference was that no one was trying to confuse them with irrelevant bullsh*t. Athletes went to the gym and busted their ass. The results followed. That’s it. Nothing fancy.

Oddly enough, many of our old gym class workouts are now thought to be revolutionary. I just wish my old gym teacher knew the goldmine that he was sitting on as we ran suicides on the basketball court. He could have retired early…

Final Thoughts

Now that I’ve rambled on longer than expected, let me close with an old saying. Those involved in this industry need to start applying this simple advice.

“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

Unfortunately, many in this industry want everything but for you to learn how to exist on your own. Don’t let them confuse you. Keep it simple, bust your ass, mix things up, and have some fun. Simple often equals superior.


PS – For a related article, refer to The Endless Search


  1. Too Right Ross,
    You nailed that one on the head. When i first started scouring the internet trying to get program ideas, i came across a lot of crap and complexity. After all my searching i found a batch of top sites (including this one) and the ideals are all the same hard work and simplicity. Since i’ve found these sorts of resources i’ve passed my knowledge and research onto others to keep them steering in the right direction. Keep up the good work Ross.

  2. Some of the stuff people go on about in relation to training gives me a headache! Thats why people like Ross, Brooks Kubik and Steve Justa(to name a couple) are a breath of fresh air. Good old fashioned hard work is just the ticket. Thanks for the always to the point blogs Ross, your entries are always good, and I find myself always going back to them.

  3. Nice entry, espacially the sarcasm part 😀 It put a smile on my face.

    On the subject, I agree with the comment above, I was lucky enough that the science geek inside me didn’t accept the over complex explaniations I first found when I started to read up on fitness. Complex, as my math and physics studies have shown are often a sign that you missed something.

    Now I have a couple of sites i trust, and above all, all three of your products, and it feels like it’s all the information I’ll need for a very long time.

    Excusse my english, it’s not my native language.
    Thanks for all excellent work.

  4. We have a personal trainer at our gym, who has been training the same lady for several months. I once overheard him say to her

    “It’s all about the psychological part of the brain.”

    This is now a running joke between my training partner and me.

    Either he doesn’t want to give her the nets, or she doesn’t fancy doing the fishing herself – but when he is issuing advice like that, I tend to assume the former!

  5. yeah one fo the problems today is though that people would rather you give them the fish. they don’t want to learn how to fish. but to those people I say go ahead and blow 50 bucks a day on a personal trainer that read a couple of articles on the internet and thinks he’s a guru.

  6. I live in the greater D.C. metro area, where commercial gyms proliferate. I would love to amass my own home gym, but do not have a garage or the space in my townhouse that I share with two other guys. Therefore, I train at a commercial gym where the trainers push the same workouts on their clients, day in and day out.

    These people look exactly the same after a six-month period of paying ludicrous amounts of money for a personal trainer who is only concerned with their next paycheck. These trainers breed mediocrity and foster dependency so that their clients will never make gains, forcing them to keep coming back for another session, lining the trainers’ pockets in the process.

    I do not consider myself to be a fitness guru by any means. I do not know it all, and I continue to learn how limited my knowledge is as I read and train. However, I’ve been under the bar in the gym, without a personal trainer, since I was 16 (I’m 24 now), and I think that I could help more people than most of these trainers can. The problem is twofold: one, many trainers don’t want their clients to learn, and two, many people are not willing to push themselves to do their own research. I apologize for the length of this post, but the lack of quality in the personal fitness arena (from what I have seen) is a sore subject for me.

    Thank you to Ross for being a continual inspiration toward greatness.

  7. Jack Lalenne’s video’s are awesome. Great common sense information, presented well by someone who obviously loves what they do. Cool that it’s coming from the older era too.

    “Now, let’s get back to our trimnastic fun!” is going on my signature…

  8. Hey Ross it’s your boy Chuck!

    Ross i swear man you have me cracking up so hard when i read some of your articles on this Blog. lol. I just love when you attack these Fake A** Pencil pushing Richard Simmons so called strong Fags. Ross i swear man i know i told you this a million times but i’m gonna tell it to you again. YOU ARE THE GOD OF FITNESS & COMBAT SPORTS !!! WITHOUT A DOUBT !!! We love you man.

  9. I laughed hard at your sarcasm, in between bouts of intense concentration while trying to understand what was being said!

    I certainly agree

  10. I also love this quote:
    “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Give a fish a man, and he’ll eat for weeks!”

  11. Lets hear for the Inventor of the Smith Machine

    Any body that can look as good as he does at his age knows what the F$%^ he is doing

  12. Amen! I agree 100% and just love that quote “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.”

    As I tell people who want to gain mass….just eat more and lift less (as many as lifting 5x a week and wonder why they don’t grow). Everyone is sold on supplements for muscles, yet most don’t get enough dietary protein to even warrant muscle growth.

    Simple is good….Simple gets results and still leaves us time to actually enjoy life!

  13. Good article and advice, but most of you knuckleheads who replied do the same thing with Ross’s training. You make it the “one true way” and follow him. Granted, he has the most open-minded, diversified approach I’ve seen so far. But by hero worshipping him, you’re doing exactly what he tells you not to do, which makes you a walking contradiction.

  14. John – Head over to the forum. There are thousands of members (vs. a handful of responses on this blog) and “hero worship” is NOT tolerated by anyone. That nonsense is crushed before it has a chance to breathe, both by me and the community as a whole.

    Most who participate on the forum and blog train entirely different than me. I’m glad they do, as most have entirely different goals/needs than me and the fighters that I train. There isn’t a one size fits all model and there NEVER will be. The fact that someone agrees with this concept doesn’t make them anything but logical.

    Perhaps you have this site confused with something else.

    Here is more related info if you are interested:

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