Training Log

Starting Strength in the Real World


by Jim Steel | March 26, 2024

tray of raw red meat

“My history teacher told me today that lifting weights and eating as much meat and protein as I do is bad for me. He said that it will ruin my kidneys and that I am going to cripple myself,” 15-year-old Bobby said to his Uncle Randy as they drank a post-workout shake outside of their hometown gym, “Mongo’s Strength and Fighting.”

“Is he the one that doesn’t eat meat and that paints his nails and says he likes heavy metal music but doesn’t know who Pantera is?” Randy asked.

“That’s the one,” Bobby answered.

“You mean the same guy that says that white people have never contributed anything to society and that the world would be better off without straight white men on the earth, even though he’s a straight white man?”

“Yessir,” Bobby answered.

Randy laughed. “You told me about him before. What's he weigh and how big is he?”

“Oh, he's about 6'0", 155 pounds,” Bobby said.

“Massive. Was he ever an athlete, and has he ever lifted any weights before?”

“I doubt it. He says that the football players in his high school used to pick on him because he was so skinny and wasn't an athlete," Bobby said.

“How's he treating you, the football player?” Randy asked.

“Like crap. He's always making smart remarks to me, insinuating that me and the other football players in class are dumb, and talking like football and sports in general is useless. He saw the pound and a half of ground beef that I had for lunch one day and he said that people that eat meat are contributing to murder. I don’t say anything back to him.”

Randy smiled, “First off, I’m proud of you for not talking back to him. That takes a lot of restraint on your part. And between you and me, I’m proud of you for not kicking his little ass for being like that. How come you've been so cool about it?”

“No offense, Uncle Randy, but I can’t believe that you don't know,” Bobby answered.

“Know what?”

“Consider the source,” Bobby said, “that's what you always told me to do.”

“Damned if I didn’t,” Randy said, “Now I’m even more proud of you. You are turning into quite a young man. Okay,” Randy continued, “we know he's an idiot, but let me tell you why he’s an idiot.”

“First off, let’s look at his statements regarding meat and protein simply, with common sense. What did our ancestors eat for at least 2,000,000 years? Meat, that’s what they ate. Fat and protein. They never would have survived without it. Have you ever seen how a vegan looks? A Saber Toothed Tiger would have a vegan for lunch every day. The no-muscle-and-strength thing probably didn't bode well for the survivability of a vegan caveman. I guarantee that they didn't have any qualms about the morality of eating meat back then. They treasured it, just like the few Hunter Gatherer tribes do today. Meat is still a cause for celebration. Eating anything other than meat was when they couldn’t find meat, or as a side dish, like tubers and fruits.”

“It would be tough to play football and lift weights eating lettuce and carrots, " Bobby said.

“It sure would,” Randy said. “Meat gave us bigger brains, enabling high-level decision making, and simply made us smarter. And there hasn't been any research studies that I am aware of that show that protein is bad for you in any way, shape, or form.”

“I figured that,” Bobby said. “Then what is the history teacher talking about?”

“Well, it seems like a moral issue from what he said to you. Maybe he watched too many Disney movies where animals were talking and smiling and acting human. Or maybe he doesn't know about the fact that a whole mess of animals are killed in farming the fields. Maybe he associates meat with getting his ass kicked when he was younger. Who knows? He’s wrong and that’s all there is to it.”

“What about the crippling effects of weight training?” Bobby asked.

“On the contrary,” Randy answered. “Bone density and grip strength are strong predictors of longevity. Both you acquire from weight training. And like I have always asked people, 'When in life is it better to be weak than strong?' Of course you can cripple yourself using shitty form, but not with proper technique and programming. I’ll tell you another thing; weight training gives you independence. You don't need to ask anybody to help you do anything that’s physical. When you are 80 you can still carry your groceries to the car with no help. That may seem silly, but not to an 80-year-old, with 80-year-old friends. Weight training really is the fountain of youth.”

Randy continued, “And how about this, just from what you know from reading all of your dad’s old muscle magazines and watching the biggest and strongest people in the world on YouTube, what did they do to get that way?

“They ate meat and lifted weights?”

“Right, said Randy. “Remember that video I showed you the other day of Arnold and his buddies back in 1975, and what they were eating when they went out to lunch?”

“I sure do,” Bobby answered. “It was a bunch of rare ground beef, steak and eggs.”

Randy said, “They knew that to survive those twice a day, six days a week training days that they were doing, they needed plenty of protein to recover. Even if you aren't competing in Mr. Olympia, your body needs and thrives on meat.”

“And weight training,” Bobby said.

“Right,” Randy said, “And lifting with barbells is the best for you. I’m not saying you can never use machines or dumbbells or even kettlebells. But the quickest way to get as strong as you can get and do it the safest is with a barbell; heavy as you can with good form. Do that and you can stay strong for a long time.”

“So should I say anything to my History teacher?” Bobby asked.

“Yeah, tell him that when the shit really hits the fan, that he will run to the meat eaters and weight lifters for protection,” Randy said.

“Really?” Bobby asked. “You want me to say that to him?”

“No, I don’t. But it would be fun to see the look on his face when you said it to him,” Randy said, smiling. “Just let it go. You know what’s right. Maybe one day, he’ll come to his senses, but I doubt it.”

“Especially if he doesn't know who Pantera is,” Bobby said.

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