The battle with body fat is a tough one. I know it all too well. During the seminar I passed in Wichita Falls in 2013 to become a Starting Strength Coach, Rip told the entire room that everyone needed to gain weight except me. He even went as far as to say “Chris actually needs to lose a few pounds.” It did not come as a surprise. This is something I have dealt with my entire life and I am still working on it. Barbell training has helped a great deal, but it is not the entire answer.
People like to claim on the internet that doing the Starting Strength program will make you fat and that Rip is interested in making people fat. This is ridiculous. Rip is trying to get people strong. That is what Rip does. He gets people strong. His life’s work is the book which he aptly titled STARTING STRENGTH.
The fact is that some people do the program and misinterpret the message of the program as an excuse to eat more, but the whole ‘eat more’ thing is meant for skinny little munchkins that have trouble putting on weight. Heavier folks don’t have the same problem, but of course we like the idea of eating more anyway.
Rip knows all this, so he wrote an article trying to deal with it. The article is titled, ‘A Clarification.’ It was written for people who are not doing the program correctly. The idea was to help. I was one of the many who missed the memo and got fatter while training to get hoo-yoooge. I got lazy, I ate too much, and I wasn't training as hard as I should've been. Luckily, I have learned a few things. I would like to share my insight to help others like me not add anymore insult to injury.
First off, being fat is a complex deal. It is not as simple as eating less and exercising more. Well it is, but you have to understand a few things about the process. Blaming a barbell program for getting fat is foolish. You do not get fat from training. You get fat from stuffing your face with too much garbage. To fix it you need to learn how to TRAIN and you have to EAT BETTER.
The goal of training when getting started is strength. Just about everyone should be trying to get stronger. If you are a big guy or gal, you need to get strong. Don't worry too much about dieting, doing a bunch of cardio, or anything else. Just get strong. You will feel a hell of a lot better if you do. It will have a tremendous impact on your physical capability, confidence, and quality of life.
Training for strength will cause many favorable adaptations to occur that can help with fighting fat. Putting on muscle mass creates a furnace for calorie burning and increases resting metabolism. These things will improve body composition, but there are other things to be considered as well.
If you need to lose fat than you have to eat better. Tracking what you are eating on a daily basis is the first step. Making better food choices is the second. If you are overweight, you are eating too much. You can make any excuse you want, but that is the truth. Fat loss starts with learning about basic nutrition and becoming more disciplined about everything you put into your mouth.
If you are overweight, you should start working on improving your conditioning after you get stronger. Long, slow distance cardio is not the answer. That stuff kills the gainzzz. Interval work like prowler pushes, running or bike sprints, and playing sports are all much better options. Pushing the prowler and doing sprints can be brutal, but they will get you in shape and help burn off excess fat. Competing in a sport that gets you moving is a good idea if you need to lose a few pounds. ‘Playing your way’ into shape actually works just fine if you have trained for strength.
You don't need to go crazy with the conditioning. Getting in shape is always a good idea, but most people go about it all wrong. A little bit goes a long way. Be smart. Start slow. Don't be lazy.
Like I said earlier, carrying around too much fat can be a complex deal. If you are currently carrying a little extra fat and feel kind of sloppy you need to be honest with yourself. Go look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are in the kind of shape you want to be in.
If you decide that it is time to do something about it getting strong is the best way to get started. Starting Strength will get you strong. It certainly won't make you any fatter. Challenging training programs do not make you fat. So get started and follow the program as it was written. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Start taking steps forward.