This column has been silent for six months. Few people would even bother to ask why: this year has hit everybody hard, from health to finances, from natural disasters to existential issues. I had a little bit of all these things, like a well-balanced salad. I caught COVID late in March last year; it was bad but sort of serene. I was so sick and coughed so much that I adopted a content slug existence. Finances, blah. In September, I published a book on suicide and lifting. Like other living things, it incubated for a while, and now it’s been slowly absorbed and mentioned by academic peers. In October, we had an ice storm in Oklahoma that left my part of town in the dark for two weeks. It took months for the city to recover and for me to get a grip on my backlog. Right after that, my elderly parents had a health crisis after health crisis. When it felt like a good time to resume a productive life, we had the snowstorm, pipes burst, gas lines broke, and we had another ten days of dealing with damage.
RECENT: Suicide and Lifting
The short answer is that the column was silent because disasters of different magnitudes consumed my time and attention, but that’s not the essential reason. Since I got sick, I’ve been wondering what kind of sports or training writer, expert, and coach I could be or I wanted to be. That could only be answered if I could reach out and feel the pulse of my audience (or audiences). The first casualty of this ongoing soul search was my coaching log. After my last client Egbert (not his real name), died of suicide, I looked critically at my work as a coach. I realized I was unsure if my service was even needed. And if it wasn’t needed, then it shouldn’t be done. Hang on. I’m not saying coaching is superfluous because it’s not. On-ground coaching is always useful, even for highly experienced people. Online coaching, not so much. I’m not sure if healthy people with modest mastery of lifting technique and without a competitive calendar need an online coach. Some of my athletes claimed they did, and they couldn’t wait until they had their latest spreadsheet like a Christmas toy. I had to let them go while I was too sick, and after that, gyms were closed, they suffered the financial impact, and some of them weren’t paying anyway. I found myself with several cool, broke people to whom I had little to offer. I also had to come to terms with the fact that coaching for free wasn’t sustainable. Paying customers came through physicians, and they demanded attention. A lot of attention. They needed me to cover not only strength training but blood work interpretation, rehab, prehab, and daily discussions about new discomforts. That wasn’t right. I provide technical advice to physicians, but I am not one, which means I am not paid for the medical services that I’m not licensed to provide. Each of these people cost me many hours per week, and that is also not sustainable.
For now, my online coaching service is suspended. Maybe I’ll resume it. Maybe I’ll coach on-ground again when gyms are opened, although I doubt it.
The options for the column were to pluck items from my weekly, systematic scientific literature review and elaborate on them as applied to lifting. That’s not a good option unless this is what the column is about, exclusively: a literature review. There are other similar publications, and I’m not sure I would always have something impactful or even interesting to write about. Random musings are not my thing.
I listed a few subjects I could explore, which could be attractive for this column’s readers. The shortlist has two items, both of which can be elaborated into an infinite number of articles: getting old and being young under a barbell. Both of these topics offer me the opportunity to use my lived experience and add scientific content in an intellectually dense but also entertaining manner.
I will detail what I have in mind for each of them, and I hope to interest you enough to send me your thoughts and suggestions. I’m not sure if I will follow one plan and then the other or alternate articles from each topic, identified as such by the sub-title. What do you think?
The Diary of an Aging Athlete
This topic is exactly what the title says: chapters of this part of life which ends when we die. At 58 years old, all I have ahead of me is continuing to get old. Some of the shitty parts of getting old are already underway, and some of it is irreversible. Some of it is unavoidable, but a lot could’ve been prevented if only I knew, or took it seriously, or controlled my recklessness.
Getting old mostly sucks but writing and connecting the scientific evidence to make sense of things is fascinating. If only it weren’t happening in my body, it would be really fun. But it is, and it will happen to you, as well. Who knows? Maybe if you enjoy the intellectually fun part, you can decrease the impact of the sucking part.
These are the subjects I intend to explore:
Chronological Age and Relative Age
Chronological age is what your birth certificate says. Relative age refers to the number of years you have been doing a certain activity. For example, many curriculum vitae templates now omit the date of birth but provide a detailed timeline of specific professional and educational achievements. Someone who went back to college at 45 and finished their Ph.D. at 55 is educationally as old as a 25-year-old Ph.D. who went from high school directly to college. A 42-year-old lifter who started lifting at 15 is much older than another lifter who is 45 years old but started to lift at 43. There’s a higher chance that the 42-year-old lifter has accumulated more damage to their musculoskeletal system than the 45-year-old lifter. By the same token, his or her older athletic age probably gave them a bone density and muscle development advantage that the other lifter will never catch up to. That, of course, assuming they didn’t screw up so bad as to be completely inactive.
Aging and Shit
I don’t know why I listed this sub-item. I probably had in mind an article about all the things that co-occur with aging, and by things, I mean life events, landmarks, and associated health issues. Or not. I imagine I had in mind writing about the burden of “age management” and training organization, professional development, parenting (and empty-nesting), or just other losses. Maybe you have some other important shit that should be considered. Do let me know.
The Morning Shit
Have you ever heard someone tell you that the day they wake up and feel no pain, they will know they are dead? Or that they are rarely depressed except before 10 AM? That’s the morning shit. One of the first blows of awareness about our aging is realizing there’s the morning shit now, and it will continue to exist “forever” because forever is not that long anymore. It’s intellectually fascinating and challenging, but it’s shitty: the stiffness, the sensation that even your hair is hurting so you just curl up in your desk, ignoring whoever tries to communicate with you, and the not-so-infrequent disabling depression. One (or two, or three) coffee and some breakfast later you are fine, or at least comparatively fine. Is there a way to avoid the worst in the morning shit or at least handle it better?
The Evening Shit
The evening shit is the opposite of the morning shit except for its predictability. Especially if you are a nocturnal chronotype, evenings are nice. However, there is a whole “evening/night ritual” that we eventually develop to cope with inadequate sleep quality, recovery, aching joints and muscles, etc.
Pain Is a Pain in the Ass
Aging doesn’t necessarily bring along chronic pain but chronic pain is prevalent among aging and old people. An aging athlete has a much higher probability of having to manage either chronic or constant pain. Pain is an absolutely fascinating subject especially because there is a huge uncharted territory of scientific inquiry and modeling. It’s controversial. There are competing models and theoretical frameworks for pain and a lot of unknowns. It’s also probably the worst part of getting old.
“Hey! Your cholesterol is through the roof.” Now what?
Yeah, that too. High cholesterol belongs with the other “holistic crap” or “shit cascade” issues. High cholesterol, sometimes type 2 diabetes, thyroid problems, and other endocrine, neuroendocrine, or inflammatory-neuro-endocrine-metabolic problems are interconnected. The basic treatment for high cholesterol involves the use of a class of drugs called “statins,” which can be toxic to muscles and tendons. That’s when your quest after the least damaging treatment begins.
“I’ve always managed my weight, what the fuck is this shit now?”
For those of us competing in lighter weight classes, “making weight” is a thing. Whether you are a fighter or a lifter, you probably walked at a couple (or many) pounds heavier than your weight class limit but who cared? If much heavier, a month of dieting and one (or more) days of water cut was enough to go down one or even two weight classes. Then, one day, you realized that either dieting, water cutting, or both became harder. Not only that: they became absurd. The same strategy that helped you dehydrate now makes you bloat and retain water. Your usual hypocaloric diet has longer and longer resilient plateaus, not to mention weight spikes while in a calorie deficit. Welcome to the intellectually fascinating world of energy compensation and irreversible adaptations to weight loss attempts.
At a certain point, it’s hard to tell where that dark cloud of depression comes from: hypothyroidism, energy compensating mechanisms other than hypothyroidism, or some weird, endless morning shit.
The Pufferfish Syndrome
And then you bloat. You bloat as a result of energy compensation. You bloat as a result of dysmotility syndromes (gastroparesis). You bloat out of anxiety or any other screw-up going on in your life. Your belly makes a tambourine sound, which is cool, but otherwise very uncomfortable.
“Is this depression or am I just sick and tired of being sick and tired?”
Several internal and external factors that increase with aging cause depression or feelings that look a lot like depression. After all, depression is an adaptive mechanism selected along with evolution because it slightly improves the animal’s chance of survival. Depression is a sign that the animal, in this case, you, is under stress. As we age, stressful situations increase, and our resilience decrease. Keeping that in mind helps the aging athlete to adopt a healthy distance from shit and practice self-assessment and self-awareness.
“Yey! I’m still strong as fuck…Oops, tore my hamstring.”
So frustrating: static strength is one of the physical capacities that has the greatest retention and slowest loss curve in time. Unless there is an important injury screwup, ten years may not feel like much. And then “suddenly” (not really) you start tearing muscles, tendons or ligaments “out of the blue” (not really).
The Love-Hate Relationship with Competition—Yeah, You Miss It
Whether you are the “win at any cost” hyper-competitive type or someone for whom competition is only a progression landmark, a standardized procedure to measure accomplishment and progress is part of your life. Liking it or not, it becomes part of an athlete’s life until it stops being that. Meets become less frequent, there are long sabbaticals, and one day you realize it’s not there anymore. Does it make a difference in your goal setting? Does it make a difference in your life?
The Days You Could Party Every Night are Three Decades Away
Some of us were wild young people and others were even wilder. I’ve always been a crowd-hating person and eating a lot, drinking a lot, or getting high were how I coped or how I compensated for my lack of social skills. Then I had a baby and, for a few years, I didn’t need the chemical help. The baby grew up and I became an elite lifter as a single adult. Those strategies again came in handy for everything: stressful situations, weird phases, or general weirdness. At some point, I started to notice that trash eating had a limit: after a few days, digestion was impaired, I bloated and felt like shit. No more yesterday’s pizza breakfasts every day. Slowly but steadily, other intolerances creep in: too much sugar, alcohol every day, then a lot of alcohol in one day, then recreational drugs in general. “Microdosing must have been invented by someone my age,” you think?
A Drawer Full of Supplements and Medications
But you are a rational adult, and with each new dysfunctionality, you figure out some adjustments to your life and routines that can help you back into the functional wagon. Your physician needs to have “the talk” with you about your cholesterol, but you negotiate to give a high dose of niacin, plant sterols, red yeast rice extract, and, of course, soluble fiber supplements a try. Your drawer is getting fuller. You already take fish oil, berberine, and probiotics. And 20 other items. Lucky for you, you belong to the segment of the population that responds to chondroitin and glucosamine—yey! And you and the other older benchers online spend half of your interaction exchanging tips about the best ointment for arthritic elbow pain. It’s great that you have access to those things and even better that you benefit from them. Your bank account may not have the same opinion, though.
“Help! My warm-up takes longer than my fun training.”
Admit it: once upon a time, you neglected warm-ups. You even skipped some. When you graduated from “frequent acute injuries” to “managing chronic injuries,” they started to matter. You may have (as I did) even renamed this phase of your training session as “pre-activation” or “prehab.” Since your patience decreases at an inverse ratio as your injuries increase, you don’t indulge curious people about why you are dutifully performing that ritual. If they figure it out for themselves, great. You don’t take time to explain that they are not there yet. Fuck it.
Some Injuries Do Come Out of the Blue
And guess what? These out-of-the-blue injuries increase in frequency as you age. You can argue that nothing is out of the blue, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, talk to any highly experienced orthopedist. At your age, with your medical history and your type of activity, the number and complexity of the possible causal chains are too big to be useful. Why did your rectus abdominis and your left adductor tear longitudinally when you locked out that block pull? Who knows? Who will ever know? And now you look like a stuffed animal zipped open on that MRI.
You are Always on Prehab or Rehab—The Eternal Cycles of Recovery
There is a watershed moment, usually a year, where your injuries become harder and harder to heal. Looking back, you realize that before that year, most of your injuries were acute, usually because you were stupid. After that, it’s undeniable that you started training smart. But alas, your injuries are smarter, and they became chronic. It may take a while for you to accept that you are now and forever in “re-pre-habland.”
My Great Accomplishments Mean Shit Now
Even if your sport was popular and a couple of thousand people watched you play, some years after your performance is not world champion level, few people in the sport will remember you. If you let yourself be absorbed by the sport’s bureaucracy and administration, maybe some of your new co-workers will remember your prime days. They don’t care. If you are a strength athlete, you will realize that those accomplishments meant something for few people in the past and that now nobody remembers them. I hope some young people are reading this because you don’t want to be taken by surprise on this. It’s a recipe for depression, but in this case, there is prevention.
“Help! I’ve become the grouchy uncle/aunt I used to complain about.”
There are two classes of creatures towards which age doesn’t compromise your patience: grandchildren and animals. Your impatience may be at its highest level at a gym or a meet, though. If you’ve been in the sport long enough, you remember grouchy old people of the past. Now you’ve become them.
“Guess what? I still train without a smartphone.”
If one of your pet peeves is the person standing at the gym looking at their smartphone, you’ve got a partner here. A few things irritate me more than the relationship between gym members and smartphones. Whether they just stop, no matter where, to check messages (not emails, that would be too professional for them), or worse, they engage in wireless phone conversations, they are insulting. On second thought, why do we find them so insulting? Apart from the asshole talking loudly on the phone, imposing their sound and conversation on you, or the one checking messages while inside the rack, they are just quietly being ornamental elements. But you don’t like them, and neither do I.
Shit, Everybody Dies
One day, people you know from the sport start dying more frequently. They are not. The frequency of death increases with age, and you hit that age when this is immediately observable. Some people get diagnosed with cancer or other non-transmissible diseases. Some young ones start dying of suicide or by having their first serious schizophrenia or bipolar disorder episode. That’s shocking. It seems like a week ago, they were playful children, and adulthood brought extreme darkness to their lives. The older you get, the more cases you collect. Inevitably, your own mortality is revisited at each one. Sometimes that’s when you figure out what lifting really means for you.
Olena Bogadereva © 123rf.com
A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Gym Galaxy (Don’t Panic)
This series of articles will sound different. About 15 years ago, I wrote a small book in Portuguese because kids were my chief source of questions. I stepped into the gym, and several kids gathered around, asking and “hypothesizing.” Even when the questions were funny, I realized an important gap in knowledge that could be dangerous. I will not write about the two knowledge gaps where I identified serious risks for kids: steroids for boys and fat burners for girls. In a sense, that has also been a growth opportunity for me. I have to come to terms with the fact that there are things that I cannot fix and shouldn’t even try to fix. But maybe by acting on issues that are within my reach, I can indirectly contribute to a better outcome in general.
As a teacher, it is my experience that when your students aren’t that sure about how to frame their information or advice need, the best thing to do is to start at the big picture and go down from there. At some point, the gap will appear.
What is a Gym?
Right? Everyone knows what a gym is. Look, it’s the place people go to work out. That’s it.
Not really. And no, I’m not going to drag you into the history of gyms of naked people training of the several physical cultures.
A gym is not just a place; it’s an institution. As such, it is a set of codified behaviors (stuff that is expected of you, and you are told so in so many words) that necessarily takes place in a given space. That space is organized so that those codified behaviors can take place. It is also a place where non-codified behaviors (stuff that nobody tells you that you are expected to do or to refrain from) happen, and sometimes that territory is also organized according to them.
That’s the first thing that can be (or almost certainly will be) confusing to a newcomer.
A gym is a place for certain people. For example, babies or toddlers are not supposed to be anywhere in the gym except in the nursery. Some of these things can be obvious; others, not so much. Most people will be older than you. Most people will be younger than your grandparents.
You probably know that many people get a little or very upset with their gym experience and never return. Understanding the underlying logic of what happens at the gym can help you avoid these negative experiences.
What Are You Doing There? Better Yet: Why are You Doing That?
I’m assuming most people reading this are minors or in their early twenties. After all, I wrote it for you. The chances are that you weren’t advised to go to the gym by your physician because he is worried about your stress levels, your high cholesterol, or your work-related injuries. You are probably not even aware of those things, but you will be because there will be people there for those exact reasons. You may help them out because they are usually unhappy in the beginning.
You usually register at a gym for the following reasons:
- You are a middle school, high school, or collegiate athlete, and your school doesn’t have a well-equipped weight room. In this case, you may have registered with one or more friends who are in the same team;
- Your friends started going to that gym and invited you;
- Your mom or dad is a member and brought you along;
- You are concerned about your body composition (your perception of being too fat, too thin, having too little muscle, narrow shoulders, etc.) and figured out that working out at a gym would help you with that;
- You want to get or “look” strong to prevent bullying or fend off bullies;
- You want to “look” nice for a party, a prom, your graduation, your cousin’s wedding, whatever;
- Curiosity: folks go to the gym because it looks fun, and they want to check it out.
These are the predominant reasons I remember. Except for the first reason, the others don’t consider the “why” because that person didn’t know much about gyms before they joined. No matter what it is, you must know why you are at the gym (whether you decided it or someone else decided it for you).
Training, Working Out, Exercising: What’s What?
As you become part of the gym environment, you’ll hear several terms being used matter-of-factly, like “training,” “working out,” “exercise,” “training program,” “fitness,” “strength,” and “conditioning.” Most of these terms correspond to scientific concepts that most users ignore. The result is that the terms start to shift in meaning, degenerate (semantically, but don’t worry about semantics now), and damage communication. That can be frustrating to a newcomer such as yourself.
Understanding the concepts makes it easier to navigate gym conversations, avoid unnecessary confusion and even potential animosity.
What are Training Goals?
Whatever we train, we do so to become fit, conditioned, and skilled at something. That means aiming for an ideal situation of doing something with the best possible technique, efficiently and for as long as possible without hurting yourself.
Losing weight is not a training goal. It’s a goal, sure, but it involves more than just exercising, and it doesn’t apply to training.
That’s an important chunk of information for you. It can prevent some serious frustration, and it can make your time at the gym more enjoyable and safer.
What are Training Results?
Whereas “goal” is what you aim for, “result” is what you get. Goals are not frustrating, but results can be a lot.
It’s important to measure results. Do you know what you will measure? Or how? You must know. Some young and enthusiastic gym members I knew kept measuring their strength increase every day by attempting a one-repetition maximal-effort movement (1RM). By trying to measure their strength increase this way, they managed to decrease their strength and get hurt at the same time. That’s more than frustrating.
There are methods and a timeline to measure and assess training results, and we’ll go over that here.
Do You Need to Take Any Stuff? Supplements, Performance, and Health
If you are reading this paragraph and you go back to the item “A Drawer Full of Supplements and Medications” above, written for the old folks like me, you may be wondering if you shouldn’t use some of your dad’s “stuff.” No, not really. We, older folks, are in the physical decline phase of life. Lots of things in our bodies don’t work like yours anymore. Our metabolisms change and decline. Our neuro-endocrine system is gradually sinking into entropy (or chaos), so some supplements we take help us slow down the inevitable decay.
You are in the exact opposite trend, yey! You don’t need anything to enhance your performance because your life is performance-enhanced already. You are also in permanent hypertrophy mode because you are either still growing or in your early reproductive years. More tissue is being built than destroyed. You certainly don’t need any stimulant—the biologically active substance in pre-workout formulas—because your body is stimulated by your age and developmental stage.
Vitamins? It depends. It depends on where you live, how much access you have to (very) fresh raw food, or how much sunlight you are exposed to. Some parents will have a multivitamin bottle for their kids until they are not kids anymore, and that’s not wrong. In any case, it’s not something you need to worry about.
Food and Diet
Most of the over-30s at the gym will be concerned with their diet to some degree. Diet means “way of ingesting food” or “way of life.” Should you?
Yes. You should take this opportunity to learn about food. It’s nice to know about macronutrients and more or less how much or how little you need of this or that. Or whether a lot of “this” can affect your mood and general well-being.
However, in this column, I will do my best to immunize you against fad diets and obsessive behavior. You are a young organism, extremely adaptable and responsive. Obsession with food is, unfortunately, something that affects your age group even more than the old folks. You probably know someone who is anorexic or bulimic, both of which are serious eating disorders. Let’s keep you safe from that.
Strength, Hypertrophy, Definition, and Weight Loss: The Quest for the Desired Shape
Whether your primary goal is to change your body shape or secondary to the goal of increasing power, strength, and performance, it’s important to know what these things are. I remember kids telling me that their goal was getting “shredded.” They were doing two hours of cardio every day and eating a diet of 800 kcal/day. “Shred” is the slang term for decreasing body fat in a manner that makes muscles more visible. You can’t show muscles that you haven’t developed. The approach adopted by those kids leads to significant weight loss at the expense of everything, including a lot of lean mass (muscle).
Let’s break this down for you so that you can make good, informed choices.
Your Best Weapon: Information (And How To Get Real Information)
“Do your own research” is a line that gained global prominence because of the internet. After all, being “skeptic” was much harder in pre-internet days. You had to go to a university library and navigate it. It takes time to acquire technical information retrieval skills. You had to understand standardized cataloging systems, codes, and how to look for a certain piece of information. Things got better with microfilms, but you still needed to master boolean logic to frame the search.
With the internet, more specifically with the World Wide Web, information is available for free to everyone! Well, at least the source of that information is.
When you hear the command, “Do your own research,” it is assumed that all you have to do is open a browser, type a question, and voilá. The best information is at your fingertips.
It’s not. Advanced information retrieval requires more than information retrieval skills. It requires qualified scientific training. The reason is that information is always contextual. Every person on Earth, including every scientist, is a layman on most subjects.
What do we do then? Don’t panic. There are strategies to obtain the best possible evidence-based information to make an informed decision even if you are not Deep Thought.
Trap 1: Groups and Boards Full of People with Weird Nicknames, Miracle Training Programs, and Diets
Never believe something told to you by someone called Hulk, whose profile picture is the cartoon character Hulk who claims to have attended the “school of hard knocks.” Can he be right? Sure. Unlikely, though.
“Underground” forums and Facebook groups can be fun. They can be entertaining and harmless as long as you don’t take anything written there at face value.
Any training program, diet, “stuff,” or strategy that promises you impressive results in a very short time is a trap. Their objective is to get your attention, your following, or worse, your money.
Have you been to one of those? Do you have questions? Send them our way.
Trap 2: Gurus, Personality Cult, and Blind Following
Anyone who claims they can coach you through a diet because they are “passionate about dieting” is bullshitting you. Nobody acquires professional authority by being passionate about anything. It’s great to be passionate, and it means nothing in terms of qualifications. What matters for anyone to be a reliable information or guidance source is their qualification.
We’ll go over what it takes to sort out the snake oil salesmen from the real experts.
Trap 3: Fads (And Their Terrible Relationship with Science)
Fads grow in the soil of anxiety, fear, insecurity, and ignorance. They prey on true human suffering. Fad diets are followed by people who are frequently in serious trouble, healthwise, and who have been scammed by several other fad diets. At each fad diet, they lose a little bit more of their health.
Fad training programs are an important cause of acute injury and, unfortunately, some irreversible damage.
We’ll go over some basic principles to help you defend yourself from fads in the marketing jungle.
Time, This Sphynx
Time is relative if you are a subatomic particle. If you are human-sized, what is relative is the perception of time. For a ten-year-old, ten years is eternity because it is 100 percent of the time they have lived. Besides that, at 20, if they live in the US, depending on certain demographic factors, it means they lived only 25 percent of their life expectancy.
I’m 58 years old. A 10-year period for me is only 17 percent of my lived time, and when I get there, at 68, I will have lived approximately 85 percent of my life.
Younger people are more impatient and tend to be turned down by the estimated time to master anything. It’s always “a lot.” It’s a lot because you haven’t lived long yet and you have a lot of time ahead. But you can train yourself to put things in perspective and handle “delayed rewards.”
That’s a cool skill for life. It takes many years of training and experience to be good at anything.
Allow Yourself to Experiment
It’s okay to experiment with yourself as long as you don’t do some really stupid shit. Most stupid shit looks like stupid shit. Someone has done it and warned others, “This is stupid shit.”
Other than that, most new activities, movements, exercises, and food will be experiments. The degree of inter-individual variation in the response is huge and you can’t predict if that will work for you or not. There are ways to experiment as safely as possible.
Your Body is Going to Change: How Not To Screw Up
You are going to continue to age, and as you do so, your body will change. Most of the change is so gradual that you don’t realize it’s happening, but it is happening all the time, from the day you were born.
Some transitions can pose challenges, though. Most of them affect women more than men. That’s because women have a shorter reproductive period and more dramatic hormonal changes.
Other changes are a result of deliberate action, and they also have consequences. One example is developing great strength and muscularity while neglecting conditioning. For years it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem. And then suddenly a horrible injury, a scary blood work result, or just feeling crappy. Suddenly, just like that. Except it wasn’t suddenly. It’s just that you weren’t prepared to observe the change as it happened.
Let’s detail this so that you can be prepared for what can or will happen.
Do You Have Any Questions?
Of course, you do. It doesn’t mean I have the answers, but I can try to find them. Also, by sending us your questions, you contribute to the common good since it’s almost certain that someone else shares your doubts. Probably even me.
Marilia Coutinho is a multi-disciplinary educator (researcher, professor, writer, speaker, coach, whatever) who writes evidence-based pieces about both technical and social/philosophical aspects of strength and strength training for elitefts. She has both a MS and a Ph.D. and her background/degrees include biology, biochemistry, ecology and sociology of science and health. Marilia has been a powerlifting world champion, broke several federation world records and one all-time record. She has also been a competitive fencer. She was a faculty member in three universities, has a few published books, many peer-reviewed articles and thousands of other published pieces, from fun to serious.
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