On a recent Saturday morning, M&F Training Director Sean Hyson and I were working out at Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA, when I pointed out my friend Ron King, who was benching on a Smith machine. Ron, you may recall, was featured in our August 2014 Over-40 column. At 58, he fits safely within the category and probably has the best physique of anyone we’ve ever featured on that page. Standing maybe 5’7″, he can’t weigh more than 175 pounds, but every square inch of his frame is sheathed in perfectly hewn muscle. I’d consider my mission accomplished if I looked like Ron.

“What’s he doing?” Sean asked. What was he doing, indeed? Based on a quick glance, it was Smith machine bench presses, but labeling the exercise a press would have been a misnomer. It was more a series of quick, choppy bounces off his chest. Even a novice trainer would label what he was doing as poor form. I turned to Sean, whose expression was a mix of shock and disbelief. “I know,” I responded. I’d seen Ron train this way for the seven years Gold’s was my home gym.

Ron’s form is similar for every exercise. His pullups are short, ballistic thrusts. His dumbbell curls are wild, swinging affairs. In fact, in all the years I’ve known Ron I’ve never seen him do a single exercise with what could be considered textbook form. Yet his results are undeniable—the guy looks to be carved from marble. 

Does that mean I believe you should train like Ron? No. The form the experts recommend is time-tested to be safe and effective. But I do believe that everyone is built differently and that muscles respond to a wide range of stimuli. The lesson to be learned from Ron King isn’t that we should all train like Ron King but that we should each find a training style that best suits us.