Saturday, November 18, 2017


Anyone familiar with the blog has seen me mention Paul Kelso’s work “Powerlifting Basics Texas Style” about a dozen time, so I figured now was as good a time as any to review it.  Paul unfortunately passed away about a year or so but I at least got to tell him how much I enjoyed his book over facebook before his passing, and him replying and appreciating my feedback was one of the highlights of my lifting career.  You already know this is going to be a positive review based off my previous lauding of it, but let me go into a little more detail here.


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“Powerlifting Basics Texas Style” is a book of short parables related to sport of powerlifting, along with just weight training in general.  Much like “The Complete Keys to Progress”, Kelso makes use of a recurring cast of characters in order to tell stories to the reader that are utilized as a vehicle to explain various aspects of training for and competing in powerlifting.  Stories include hardheads who refuse to listen, gifted athletes, “mullets”, washed up meatheads, newbies, and all other walks of life, and each goes through their own growth along the path of becoming a better lifter.  You’re bound to recognize yourself in a few of the characters, and be able to take away something from their experiences.  It is worth noting that, according to Paul, the characters aren’t real, but they’re based on true stories, and all certainly very believable.

The book is composed of 14 short chapters, and covers topics from starting up your own powerlifting club, prepping for your first meet, general beginner training, improving the bench press, improving the deadlift, solo training, cycle based meet training and “Texas style” nutrition, among other topics.


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Always go with the pros

This book is just plain fun to read.  It’s not a dry technical manual at all, and even when the discussion gets to sets and reps Paul sprinkles in enough storytelling to break up monotony and keep you reading through.  Additionally, it’s an opportunity to dive into lifting history and see how the old timers used to train before Starting Strength came along and saved us all.  I also feel like Paul includes one of the best sections on beginner training I’ve ever read, where it’s structured enough to prevent the whole “there is too much information out there” thing yet has enough freedom in it to allow the necessary special snowflake modifications that will inevitably happen.

I also really appreciate the section on nutrition.  It’s not at all about macros and calorie counting, but instead an exploration on some “salt of the earth” style nutrition: the stuff of farmers and ranch hands.  It’s hearty enough to help you put on weight but healthy enough compared to a lot of the crap people eat.  It’s also not some sort of dumb nutritional meme that tries to alleviate the reader of thinking, although, if the “Powerlifting Basics Texas Style” diet starting sweeping the internet, I wouldn’t be all that upset.


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You get it?  Because Mariusz went to jail?  So he's a con?  ...look, pictures for book reviews are hard

This is a short book.  Slightly over 80 pages, some might even be inclined to call it a manual.  It only costs $10, and people have put out even less content for more money, but still, if you’re looking for a long, lengthy read, this won’t hold a candle to “The Complete Keys to Progress”.  It does lend itself to re-reading though, and I make it a point to read the book once a year.

You also have to decipher the book.  Paul rarely just comes out and says what he’s trying to say (although it DOES happen in the book), and instead weaves lessons in as one of the characters/narrator.  If you have no love for literature and just want someone to come out and say what they mean, you’re not going to enjoy this.

Also, the reader needs to keep in mind that raw powerlifting is a new thing, and, in turn, wasn’t even a thing when this book came out.  Paul doesn’t spend much time talking about squat suits (and I actually don’t think he ever mentions a bench shirt), but I know there are some raw zealots out there that are going to read the word “suit” and immediately burn the book.


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This should cover the cost

You already know I’m going to say you; I’ve been recommending this book since 2007.  But seriously, if you enjoy reading at all AND you enjoy lifting, you need to get this book.  One of its best qualities is that, over subsequent re-reads, I keep finding more stuff in there that I missed the first few times, and being so short, that’s easy to accomplish.  I’ll also discover that an idea from the book got in my head without me knowing it, until, after many training cycles implanting what I think is a brand new idea, I’ll re-read the book and find it right there.  This is your chance to connect with some lifting history and enjoy things that occurred “pre-internet”.

Thanks once again Paul for taking the time to write this and the shrug book (to be reviewed in the future). Rest in Peace dude.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Apologies for being a few days late on this. Life has been crazy.

-I get a lot of questions about my diet, primarily why I eat so few carbs.  The answer is simple; I eat a lot of meat, and I like fatty meat, and if I’m eating a lot of protein and fat, I have to eat few carbs.  Otherwise, I’d just be eating a lot of food, and that’s how you get fat.  Why do I eat a lot of meat?  Because I want to look like a thing that eats a lot of meat.  Think about it; don’t you want the same?  Wouldn’t you rather look like a creature that kills and eat other creatures, or do you want to look like the prey instead?

-Remember Kaz talking about calculating MRV?  Or how Paul Anderson debated if volume began with hard sets or easy ones?  Or when Arnold talked about achieving most frequent protein synthesis?  Yeah, me neither.

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AND he did curls?  Didn't they have internet back then?

-People are so quick to accuse others of using steroids.  I’ve been training for 18 years and I’ve never even SEEN a steroid.  How are people just tripping over them that they automatically assume everyone else is using them?

-People with the fewest gains are the most resistant to sacrificing them.  Refusal to take days off, no conditioning because it “makes you lose muscle”, no giant sets because less weight is lifted, etc.  And this mentality, ironically enough, keeps growth limited.

-People are in such a rush to find “the best” because it absolves them of the need to think.

-I refuse to speak on things that I have no experience with.  It means I either need to experience a lot or speak less.  I advise others to do the same.

-“Skinny-fat” is a body condition that occurs from a lifetime of sedentary activity and poor diet.  This is why it’s so tricky to “fix”.  If you bulk, you now become fat.  If you cut, you become scrawny.  So what is the solution?  TIME.  You don’t fix a lifetime of bad choices in 12 weeks.

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I love that I can keep finding new memes everytime I look

-People in bad shape like to point out the poor decisions of those in good shape.  “You drink energy drinks?  Those are so bad for you!” “You eat fast food?” etc.  What a lack of self awareness. That said, when I encounter it, I just tell people that nothing I do is healthy.

-People who lack accomplishments seeks “proof” that also lacks accomplishment.

-People are very willing to rest 5-7 minutes between sets and have 3 hour long lifting sessions but don’t want to “waste time” by doing conditioning or reading a book on how to properly train.

-Leanness and fatness both perpetuate.  The longer you are one or the other, the more prone you are to being it.

-I am late to the party, but mashed cauliflower is awesome.

-“You could have progressed faster”, yes, but at what other cost if not time?

-I’m at the point in my life where nothing tastes better than reaching my goals.

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But these come very close

-I have zero sympathy for adults who can’t wake up early to meet their goals.

--Ok, let’s be honest; I just have zero sympathy.

-Getting in shape when you get older is easy, because you get held to a much lower standard.  Just get in decent shape in your 20s and hold onto THAT for as long as you can and you’ll be good.

-Why is it people who say “live a little” advocate for activities that, traditionally, result in living less?

-If enough big and strong people do something, I don’t really care what science has to say about it.

-The people that know the least are the most savage online.  They hope to curtail any questions by making the questioner feel stupid, less they be forced to answer the question and admit their own lack of knowledge.

-The “money” is powerlifting used to come from gear.  Meets made no money, but gear companies would sponsor them because they could cash in on competitors buying gear to compete for the meet.  But what do we do now that raw powerlifting has become popular?  Why, make raw gear of course!  Suckers.

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Nah, you don't want to hear mine

-What the hell is Instagram?  Seriously.

-A fundamental issue I find on the discussion of training is people view “right” and “wrong” in a vacuum.  “Here is right about this but wrong about that.”  Unless one is being malicious or deceitful for the sake of profit, it is of no benefit for one to say things they know to be false.  Instead, right and wrong are context dependent.  What an accomplished lifter says IS right for their paradigm.  If you don’t fit that paradigm, that is on YOU, not them.  Don’t apply information that does not apply to you.

-In the past few years, I’ve noticed trainees have learned a lot of ways to get really good at squatting, benching and deadlifting.  That’s awesome.  Did we learn how to get stronger?

-I found out you CAN get a full week’s training in 33 hours.  But should you?

-I don’t understand these people who have no access to implements and no desire to compete but want to “train like a strongman”.  Isn’t that just lifting weights?