How To Get In Better Shape

We're getting closer to Christmas, which means it's time to start thinking about losing all the fat you're about to gain. On today's Kotaku Splitscreen, we're here to help.

Photo: Ilia Yefimovich / Stringer

First up, Kirk and I talk about the news of the week (6:00) on loot boxes, a rumoured Mario movie, and harassment at IGN. Then we bring on Wirecutter editor and fitness expert Casey Johnston, the columnist behind Ask A Swole Woman, to talk about how to get SWOLE by lifting heavy things and putting them down (26:06). Finally, we get into some more game impressions (1:00:36): Mario Odyssey, Wolfenstein, Xenoblade 2 and Horizon Zero Dawn's DLC.

Get the MP3 right here. An excerpt:

Jason: If I am a Kotaku Splitscreen listener and I am thinking, "Hey, I want to get in better shape. I want to lose 9kg. I want to gain 5kg of muscle," where do I even start?

Casey: There's a lot of places you can start. Walking is a thing that a lot of people start with, for instance. But I am a huge proponent of people getting started with strength training. Not just going to the gym and doing some dumbbell curls, but going and lifting heavy weights, doing what we call compound movements that use a lot of muscles at once, like a squat, everyone knows what a squat is. You go and you use as much weight as you can for only a few reps, you do only a few sets, and it's really not as hard a thing to get into as I think a lot of people are aware. It's actually pretty simple. So that's where I'm at, if you want actual practical steps.

Jason: So I am Joe or Jill Splitscreen listener. I love the idea of lifting heavy things, but then I get to a gym and I see all these huge dudes picking up giant barbells and I'm like, where do I even start? How do I even know what to do? Are there programs I should start with?

Casey: Yeah. I would say yeah, don't start by walking into the gym and trying to do things. The beauty of the internet is there are many resources online that allow you to learn about this stuff. I got started personally with an actual book called Starting Strength, which teaches a very simple program that's five total movements, you do three on one day, three on another day, and alternate. And then there's a very similar thing called StrongLifts, that's a handful of movements that you do for just a few reps, just a few sets.

I would say either check out one of those and just do a little reading, read up a little bit on what these programs are and the basics of how to get them done.

Jason: We're talking squats, deadlifts, bench press...

Casey: So the five moments are: Squatting is the bar is on your upper back or shoulders... It's like teabagging. Deadlifting is basically bending down and picking up something in front of you, using your legs not your back. Benching, I think everybody knows benching. There's rowing, which is picking up a weight and pulling it towards you with your arms, any kind of movement like that. And then there's overhead pressing, which is, you hold a bar in your hands under your chin and push it over your head.

Jason: These are all more simple than they seem.

Casey: The reason these movements are what they are is because they're very natural to your body, and they're things that your body is very good at doing. They use all of your muscles together in ways that your muscles are meant to be used.

For the rest of the discussion, check out the full episode. As always, you can find Splitscreen on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Leave us a review if you like what you hear.


    Calories in < calories out. That's all you need to know to lose weight.

      Getting in shape is about more than losing weight; muscle weighs more than fat, and burns more calories, so building muscle is a sensible goal for people who want to improve their fitness.

      And weight bearing exercise, the best way to build muscle, is a bit intimidating if you've never looked into it. Not to mention confusing, when the scales go up or stay static and your clothes size goes down.

        I must disagree about the whole "calories in < calories out" theory. Okay, maybe not so much "theory", because it does work, but it's not the best way to go about it.

        Food and nutrition should be looked at as fuel. When we exercise, our bodies need fuel to replenish ourselves, to help rebuild muscle, to even burn body fat. Eating a lot of simple, wholesome foods is actually beneficial for the body, especially in conjunction with regular weight lifting.

        There's a huge misconception that weight lifting will make you bigger but not get rid of body fat, e.g. "bulk". That's ridiculous. The truth is, heavy compound lifting will burn more calories than "cardio", any day, and if regularly lifting (lifting properly) with a well balanced diet, you will lose body fat and gain lean, muscle mass. It's that simple. I believe @stelae has pretty much covered this.

        The only reason that stereotype exists is because a lot of people go to the gym, lift, and eat what they want later, thus they build muscle mass, but they're muscles are covered with body fat, hence the bulk.

        If you want to lose body fat and gain muscle/strength, I would highly recommend seeking out the services of a professional strength and conditioning coach - not a typical gym personal trainer.

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