Editor's Picks: The 10 Must-Read Articles From 2013

Becca Borawski Jenkins

Managing Editor

Coaching, Strength and Conditioning, Martial Arts, Cooking and Baking


Once upon a time a friend of mine sent me the Venn diagram you see pictured below. He deemed that I was part nerd, part jock, and part princess.


As such, it is indeed true that you could find me applying toenail polish, while wearing workout gear, and also reading research articles, or I might share with you my knowledge of the chemistry of winemaking, or I might commiserate with you on how much it sucks when deadlifting ruins your cutest pair of tall socks.



The articles I’m choosing for this year’s Editor’s Picks are also from those who live along the edges of the nerd-jock-prince(ss) intersection.


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These articles are funny and clever, researched and knowledged. But most importantly, these pieces are unique representations of the people who created them.


Hopefully, these articles will also share something new with you today. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."


So, here are my ten picks and a little bit about why I chose each one:


Editor’s Picks for 2013

Proof That Functional Strength Training Cures Low Back Problems and Pilates Won't (Andrew Lock)


If there’s anyone on a mission to out the ills of Pilates, then it’s Andrew Lock. Does that not sound interesting to you? Well, how about this: wouldn’t you like to know how to cure your clients of all their low-back woes, for real? If so, read on.


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Help for Your Shortie Hamstrings (Brooke Thomas)


It can be kind of embarrassing to be a fitness instructor and have the world’s shortest hamstrings. But apparently I don’t have the world’s shortest, Brooke does. So now I feel slightly better. If you’re one of us, then read this - and better yet, do what she says.



The Value of Competition: What Weightlifters Know That the Hippies Didn't (Dresdin Archibald)


While the hippies might have thought competition and sports were “square” or “old fashioned,” those who choose to compete know otherwise. In this piece, Dresdin Archibald, a long-time Olympic weightlifter, explains why competitive is valuable, and perhaps even essential, for the dedicated athlete.


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Biomechanics and ‘Bells: What Does It All Mean? (Jason Lake)


He blinded us with science! Dr. Jason Lake has a PhD in Sports Biomechanics, and lucky for us he graced us a few times in 2013 to clue us in on the physics behind our workouts. In his first article he broke down the kettlebell swing (and even made us some cool charts).


An Argument Against the Barbell (Josh Henkin)



Sometimes you have a gut feeling about what’s right or wrong in fitness, but you just can’t quite spell it out. The someone like Josh Henkin comes along and writes an article on the same topic, and you’re just sitting there pointing at the screen going, “Yeah, that!” Learn a little history and why you probably don’t need to invest in a barbell after all.


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Grok Didn’t Eat Oatmeal and Other “Directionally Accurate” Paleo Myths (Keith Norris)


Next time someone tells you that cavemen didn’t have blenders or some nonsense, hit them up with this article. It’s not that we’re literally trying to live like cavemen. It’s a bit more allegorical than that, and a whole lot more fun I’m betting, too. (And please, I’ve already received hate mail about the bunny photo - no bunnies were actually hurt for this article!)


The NO BS, No Holds-Barred, Minimalist Strength Program FROM HELL(?)…NO(!), WORSE, WISCONSIN! (Pat Flynn)


If you haven’t read any of Pat Flynn’s articles, you should really stop whatever it is you’ve planned for today and just sit down and read a few. They are long, yes. But they are not “TL;DR,” I promise. They are witty and chock full of useful knowledge. Plus, if P.T. Barnum was writing fitness articles, they’d kind of sound like this. And that’s an awesome thing.


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Is My Birth Control Stopping My Progress in the Gym? (Vanessa Bennington)


In the quest to educate athletes on science, there’s that whole area of biology going on. And there’s some rather mysterious biology when it comes to the female body, it seems. So ladies, while lifting and getting stronger might be what you’re after, it could be something as tiny as that daily little pill that’s jacking it all up for you.


Size Matters, Bro! The Misinterpretation of the Henneman Size Principle (Winslow Jenkins)



There’s a lot of science in the fitness world. But there’s also a lot of misunderstood science. It turns out that many have been misinterpreting how muscle fibers are activated for many, many years. Get an education with this article and do your part to end the proliferation of bro science. It’s a battle we all need to fight.


becca borawski, breaking muscle, editor's picks, best of breaking muscle


Nootropics: What Are They and How Can They Help Me? (Alex Hilton-Johnson)


Nootropics by definition are beneficial and cause no harm. They are supplements that can super power your brain and protect you from brain diseases. And for athletes, they can do things like modulate cortisol levels, improve sleep, and increase mental focus for training. If you consider yourself a pursuer of performance, both inside and outside the gym, then you need to know about nootropics.


Okay, I know I said these were my ten picks from 2013, but here’s a very special number eleven:


The Breaking Muscle Manifesto - This is who we are and what we aim to achieve. These are our values, and why we value you. This is what Breaking Muscle is all about.


I didn’t include any of my own articles on here, and for the most part I did not include articles from our regular staff writers. You can find our most popular articles from 2013 here:



Venn diagram courtesy of Damien Clark.

MRI scans property of Andrew Lock

Trajectory chart coutesy of Jason Lake.

All other photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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