Here’s the problem with dictionaries: these days, they’re pretty much useless.
Wait, come back!
Let’s rephrase: the problem with conventional dictionaries is, they’re too slow. Assuming you’re reading something online, it never takes more than about ten seconds to cut-and-paste any word you come up against, stick it into your preferred search engine, and be presented with more information than you can ever possibly use on almost anything you could be wondering about. If you’re on an e-reader this might be even faster: even if you’re reading a conventional book, your phone’s probably by your side.
Assuming, then, that you aren’t either a) Going somewhere wi-fi free and taking a dictionary with you, or almost as likely b) Operating in some sort of post-apocalyptic wilderness where the internet no longer exists (in which case you’ve probably got other things to worry about), what’s the point in dictionaries?
Simple: to expose yourself to the words you don’t know you don’t know.
Probably, when you were a kid, you browsed a dictionary at least once, mouth agape at words that you might only ever use if you became an academic, obstetrician, or Scrabble champion. Maybe you found a word or phrase that stuck with you: that you still use, years later, to impress dates or job interviewers or potential clients, or just because it enriches your own life to think with the kind of clarity that a bigger vocabulary provides.
That’s what I wrote The Dictionary Of Muscle for.
I’ve been lifting seriously for about a decade, training (and sometimes competing) in pretty much every strength sport out there, and trying out a tonne of different systems, methods, movements, programmes, whatever. Because I’m a completist, I always wanted a comprehensive book about how all this stuff fits together, a place where you could be exposed to (almost) everything the training world has to offer, and then decide what to try.
But that didn’t exist, so I had to write it myself.
The Dictionary Of Muscle isn’t for looking words up, but for browsing: for starting out at A or C or X and having a quick read, looking for the ideas and training systems and concepts that you don’t know you don’t know about. Maybe you’re new to lifting, and you’ve never heard of Prilepin’s Chart or 5/3/1: in which case it’s a good primer in what’s bro-science and what actually works. Maybe you’ve been training a while and you’re looking for something new but you don’t know exactly what: hopefully, you’ll find it in the entries for more obscure methodologies like Korte’s 3×3 and Smolov Jr, or by challenging yourself to tackle new lifts like the two-hands-anyhow or the Dinnie Stones. Maybe you’re a serious veteran of bodybuilding or strongman or powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting, but you’d like to be able to hold your own in a chat about training principles with guys (and ladies) from the other disciplines, as well as keeping up with what the youngsters are all talking about with their hashtags and their HIFT training and their undulating conjugate periodisation. Or maybe, just maybe, you just love lifting in all its forms, and you want to know as much about it as you can.
That’s what The Dictionary Of Muscle is for.
You can buy it here: it’s on Kindle, but if you don’t have one of those you can just download the app to your smartphone/tablet/computer/whatever and read it there.
I don’t advertise on Live Hard, and I don’t do sponsored posts (you would not believe the nonsense I get offered) or financially-motivated ‘reviews’, so this is actually the first thing I’ve done via the site that actually involves money. So if you think it might help you in your training – or when you start training – please do pick up a copy. If you don’t think it’s for you, but you know people who might like it, I’d appreciate a share – of this post, or the direct link to the book. And if neither of the above apply, no worries – just keep reading the site, and normal service will be resumed shortly. Live Hard!
HOMEWORK: Well, I’m not telling you to buy the book. Just go find out something you don’t know.