Sunday, February 18, 2018

I HAVE DECIDED: SOLIPSISM AND TRAINING


Nothing is more powerful than the moment when you have decided on something, for it is at this moment that action can occur and change will be made.  Despite claims to the contrary, we ultimately have the greatest control of our lives.  You can be a stoic ala Aurelius and decide that the power you have is the ability to decide how you react to the world, or you can embrace the very tyranny of your radical freedom ala Sarte and understand that every action you make is a choice, but the end is the same; your actions are a result of when YOU have decided to do or not do something.  But I say you take this even further; cast out all reality and make it merely a product of what it is that you have decided.  Ignore science, good sense, convention, historical evidence and all doubters and let your battle cry be “I have decided!”

Image result for die hard sandwich board

Not a bad second choice...yes, I realize this is censored from the original

Bend reality to your warped, fractured and diseased mind, and make it conform to YOU.  Make it such that, when you say “I have decided that I will lose weight and get stronger, despite all claims to the contrary”, it occurs.  “I have decided that I will train one side of my body while the other heals, and encounter no imbalances and only become stronger”, “I have decided that I will become stronger by lifting lighter weights”, “I have decided that I will get better at full ROM work by training partial ROM”, “I have decided that there is no such thing as overtraining”, etc etc.  In all these instances, the power resides in YOU to make things happen.  You are not an agent of reality; reality is an agent of you.  It is YOUR reality to bend, shape and beat into conformity, and you make it happen because YOU have decided it will happen. 

This means shutting out the negativity of others that refuse to take control of your reality.  Those that will quote studies at you, that assert their own failures at your attempts, that degrade your intelligence, that mock you by calling you crazy.  Crazy as a mockery?  That is true insanity; being crazy is the way that one becomes different, and different is a side-step away from average, allowing growth into something more.  Read your Focault; what was classified as “insane” was traditionally simply those behaviors that drew too much attention to the very failings of society.  You exemplify these failings WITH your success.  You should be so lucky that your methods are considered ridiculous by others, because those sane people are getting some pretty sane results.

Image result for squatting on a bosu ball
It is amazing how many times I try to use this as a punchline and it ends up refuting the paragraph above it

I’ve done this many times in my life.  The instant I blew out my knee, I decided right then that I would do whatever it takes to heal and come back bigger and stronger than before.  Making that decision in that moment set me up to do what it took to accomplish my goals.  It meant getting surgery, training whatever I could, and using every tool I had access to for my recovery, and it meant I came back and won my first show post surgery.  I did the same thing the first time I decided to drop weight, in that I decided I wasn’t going to get weaker while it happened, and ended up dropping 30lbs while breaking through a 3 year deadlift plateau, hitting a 601lb deadlift at a bodyweight of 181 after failing to clear 550 at 217lbs 3 years prior.  Once the decision was made, it was up to me to execute it.

You won’t be beholden to what others have decided FOR you, because YOU have decided instead.  And this holds true for your negative decisions too.  Went on a 2 day ice cream bender because “the cravings got the best of me?”  Negative; YOU decided to indulge.  This was a choice, and you made it; embrace your empowerment.  Slept in and skipped a morning training session because you “really needed the sleep?”  Untrue; YOU decided to skip training.  Again, embrace your empowerment; how absolutely fortunate you are to HAVE such autonomy.  You are the ultimate arbiter of your own success and failure; what freedom!  The freedom to dictate if you reach your goals or never meet them; the freedom to be something great or something average, and all it takes is for you to make the decision. 

Image result for man vs food burger
I CHOOSE THIS!

And when you make that decision, OWN that decision.  If you decide to skip training or eat poorly, admit that it was a decision you made, because that empowers you to also UNMAKE that decision in the future.  You are still in control of your reality and your destiny, and in being control you have the freedom to make poor choices just as much as you have the freedom to make good ones, but in all instances, the results are the product of something that YOU have decided.  When you attempt to pawn off your actions on outside forces, all you are doing is removing power from yourself.  As unintuitive as it may seem, you are much stronger when you decide you will not train than when the decision to train is removed from you and vested in outside cosmic forces.  The man who is able to decide his own fate will always be stronger than the one who is a mere victim of circumstance, for the latter, no matter how strong fate has made them, lacks power over the self.  And in turn, one who decides to fail STILL holds more power than one who fails because of circumstances.        



I have decided.  No one else decides but I.  And once I have decided, I will act in accordance with my decision.  Let it be your mantra.  Let no reality exist that is not the reality that you chose to create; the you decide to create.  Let nothing happen unless it is within your will; unless you got to say “I have decided it is so”.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

NOT DRUGS, NOT GENETICS, JUST CRAZY


Lord help me I’ve been on the internet again, and I have a feeling one of you is to blame.  Someone took the photos I posted way back on entry 1 when this whole thing got started and uploaded them to a subreddit with the goal of determining if the person in the photo is natural or on steroids.  From there, much comedy unfolded, but thankfully with it came an opportunity to write, learn and educate, and thus I have the chance to write this post.  The more you get exposed to the paradigms of others, the more you get to understand your own operating paradigm, and through this process we find where the disconnects exists.  Fundamentally, during this experience, those that originally assumed I was a non-natural trainee discovered that the difference between them and I didn’t exist on a chemical level, nor did it exist on a biological level, but simply on a cognitive level.  It wasn’t drugs, it wasn’t genetics; it was being crazy.


Image result for squatting on a bosu ball
Maybe even THIS crazy

The debate over my photos went in a pretty predictable pattern. First, accusations of steroid usage were based purely upon the appearance of certain bodyparts, because that’s apparently a thing now.  Somehow, WADA can’t tell if someone is on drugs unless they knock on their door at 0400 and demand a urine sample right there on the spot during the off season, but meanwhile there is a crack team of superheroes on the internet that can manage this amazing feat with just a photograph.  From there, they used alleged statistics to for certain know that I was on steroids, to include my height and weight combined with the exact bodyfat percentage they were able to determine from some blurry photographs.  Once again, I had to go sit naked and fasted in a bodpod with a swim cap on to get my bodyfat measured to within a 2% margin of error, but these experts have eyeballs that are so highly calibrated that they can tell within a fraction of a percentage, and they of course have SERIOUS hardcore studies to back up their findings.  And then, once that was all said and done, they looked at my youtube channel and from there could absolutely conclude I was on steroids, because I was “above elite” on lifts.  And again, these “elite” determinations were taken from a SERIOUS website that had lots of graphs and numbers that absolutely concluded without a doubt what was in fact an elite lift, irrespective of the fact that most of those very elite lifts wouldn’t even grant you entry into World’s.  But, once again, I digress.

Some were willing to concede to the ability that I may in fact be the natural trainee that I am, but from there we went in an equally silly direction; superior genetics.  The fact that I’m 32 and have been training in some manner since I was 14, and had been engaged in athletics since I was 6, was of zero consequence to the discussion; I simply MUST be in possession of superior genetics.  It’s the “no true scotsman” all over again, where the end result dictates the method, rather than the other way around.  Not only did I have these superior genetics, but with it I was apparently beholden to a moral imperative wherein I MUST “share my secret” with the rest of the natural trainee world, once again disregarding the fact I’ve been writing a free blog once a week for over 5 years now.  Since I was “gifted”, I now owed it to the world to share my gift.

Image result for christmas fruitcake
Another gift no one really wants

And from here, things took a real interesting turn.  I refuted the charge of superior genetics under the baseline that, traditionally, one does not consider needing to train hard for 18 years to accomplish something an indication of superior genetics, and shared that I have had to make sacrifices along the way in terms of health.  Things turned ugly here, as people became outright upset that I would dare to get injured in pursuit of getting bigger and stronger.  The sheer notion was abhorrent, and I was called things such as irrational and crazy.  And I don’t refute that.  I am both of those things…but I am also big and strong.  And my goal was never to be rational or sane.

This is where we find the disconnect, and why large demographics of people have come to assume that anyone more successful than them must be using performance enhancing drugs; these people are operating under the paradigm that everyone ELSE must be as preoccupied with avoiding injury and being rational as they are.  These people cannot fathom the notion of someone willing to push hard enough that injuries occur, that pain is encountered, that sacrifices get made.  They believe that all people engaged in the pursuit of getting bigger and stronger do so thinking that being big and strong would be dandy, but being injury free is the goal.  They believe no one would want to blow out all the blood vessels in their face on a super ugly max effort set where form goes out the window and you just hold on and grind until the rep is over.  And when you believe that everyone else is training with the exact same lack of intensity as you are, it’s easy to believe that anyone achieving superior results must be using some sort of chemical assistance to get you there.

Image result for reading on an exercise bike
Sure, Lance Armstrong WAS juicing, but he ALSO didn't look like this when he trained

This is what I harp on when I talk about how some folks just plain don’t understand what effort means, and in turn, why they don’t get the results they want.  They’ll swear up and down on a stack of Bibles that they’re always busting their ass at the gym, but the truth is, they’re only pushing as hard as their own internal governor is allowing them.  They’ll approach right to the point where progress may finally start happening, and immediately ramp back down before they run the risk of actually succeeding.  And they’ll spin their wheels for years and make marginal progress at best, and assume this is an indication that they’ve reached their genetic limit.  Bullcrap.  Your genetics have TONS of potential, but they need to be unlocked, and that occurs through significant and consistent stressors that push you well outside your comfort zone and FORCE growth as the only possible recourse.  And yes, this is riding a razor’s edge, and it means sometimes you’ll push too hard and get hurt, but it’ll ALSO mean that, even while hurt you’re still ahead of the people refusing to do so.



I suppose the lesson out of all this rambling is that, if you see someone more successful than you, maybe it’s because they “cheat”, maybe it’s because they’re gifted, but maybe it’s because they’re simply working harder than you are because they are crazy.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

HACKS AND DIRTY TRICKS FOR COMPETITION


I’m definitely not the most seasoned competitor, but I’ve at least been through a few.  I’ve competed in 3 powerlifting meets and manage to not die of boredom and 10 strongman competitions (3 unsanctioned, 7 under North American Strongman/Strongman Corp).  Through that process, I’ve learned a few tips, tricks and hacks that I’m hoping to pass on to you, the reader, so that you can learn from my mistakes and through my own nefarious and diseased brain.  In no particular order.

---
-In a powerlifting meet, for your opener squat, pick a super light weight and just absolutely completely bury it. Not because it makes you too cool for school, but because it will implant in the judge's mind that depth isn't anything they need to worry about for you. After that, you can ride your second and third attempts a little higher and be given the benefit of the doubt.  The guys that are always just barely hitting depth get more attention.

-Things to bring to a competition: chairs, food, drinks, cash, street clothes/shoes, first aid kit.  If it’s outside, bring some manner of shade.  Never expect anything to be provided, so if you like chalk and tacky, bring that too.  Believe me, after 1 competition of sitting on the floor, being hungry and thirsty and then going out to eat at a Denny’s wearing some sweaty ratty competition clothes/a singlet, you’ll appreciate all these things.


Image result for singlet in public
Yeah, no one thinks it's a tanktop

-If you travel by car, bring as much gear as you can.  This is so that, if someone asks to borrow your favorite belt/sleeves/wraps/whatever, you can be a good sport and given them your less favorite/not as good stuff.  Plus you won’t be caught unprepared incase something fails.

-If you travel by plane, pack all your competition gear in your carryon and check all your normal stuff.  If your clothes and shoes get lost, you can hit up Walmart and buy an outfit for $10.  If your Inzer belt and SBD sleeves get lost, you’re screwed.

-Make friends and be chatty at the competition.  1, it makes you not an a-hole, and there is a good chance you can learn a lot from other competitors.  But 2, it also takes a lot of people off their game because they like to get into super hardcore badass mode and if you’re over there cracking jokes and paling around it’s hard for them to focus.  On that note, be able to tell your new buddy “Hey, I gotta go get ready, and I can be an a-hole when I do that so I’m just gonna walk away for now”.  No-joke; I tell my wife that at competitions, and she knows to leave me alone.

-On the above, learn how to turn it on and off.  If you spend the whole competition being psyched out of your mind and blitzed on stims, you’re gonna be burnt out before it’s over.  If it’s a powerlifting meet, you’ll be dead by deadlifts, and if it’s a strongman comp you’ll have nothing left for the final event.  Switch on the hate, kill the event, and then go back to laughing and joking. 

Image result for barbarian laughing
Even the biggest and strongest know when to laugh

-Goo gone completely wipes away tacky.  Way better than Baby oil, and smells better than WD-40.  Burns a lot less too.

-If you’ve never eaten/drank it before, don’t do it the day of/before the competition.  Stick with the same diet you’ve had all the way through training.  I’ve shown up to a lot of competitions with an upset stomach because, like an idiot, after a weightcut I went out and ate somewhere I had never been to before and ate a lot of food I wasn’t used to.  Stick with the staples.

-In a last man standing event, approach every attempt the exact same way.  If you’re one of those guys with an elaborate psyche up ritual, do it for even the smallest of weights.  If you can hold that in and just make every attempt look like a gym lift, do THAT instead.  Reason being is that you don’t want to telegraph to your opposition when the weight is getting heavy for you.  If you only start psyching up once you’ve reached near your limit, then your opposition knows you are there, and they might find it in themselves to dig JUST a little deeper for the next attempt or 2 to finally edge you out.  However, if you show no signs of slowing down, they may just decide it’s not worth wasting the energy on a bunch more attempts and end up shutting down early.  It saves you the struggle and you don’t “show your hand” regarding your abilities.  I even go so far as to look as bored as possible for every attempt.

-If you are doing a log clean and press each rep event, and the log is on tires, bounce the crap out of the log on the tires.  You won't damage the log, and you can conserve some energy on the clean this way.

-In the warm-up area, complain about everything.  If it’s powerlifting, talk about how the knurling on the bars are super slippery and you can’t get your feet to grip on the platform, or how the squat stands are too close together and you have to walk out a bunch of steps to get set-up for your squat.  If it’s strongman, complain about the frame being slippery and the handles being too far apart, talk about how slick the axle is, talk about how the car deadlift pick-up is super long, etc.  It’s not about being a pain in the ass; it’s about getting into the other guy’s heads.  You’ll start implanting these ideas to them, and it’s going to affect how they approach the platform.  None of it has to be true in the slightest; it’s just about creating doubt.  It can also make it that people don’t consider you a serious threat, which can mean they won’t spend much time strategizing on how to beat you.


-Wear the competition shirt at the event.  I was a douchebag wearing tanktops and my own t-shirts thinking it made me special.  All it does is show what a noob you are.  You wear the competition shirt because people sponsored the event, and you’re advertising for those sponsors in all your youtube/Instagram/facebook/whatever shots.  It’s really just being a good athlete and giving back.  Also, that means you should spend some time training IN a competition style t-shirt, because you might be hot stuff with your gripshirt on, but when that’s suddenly banned, your whole plan may fall apart.

Image result for mariusz pudzianowski
When you make it big, the promoters will make the competition shirt a tank-top

-In strongman, whenever it’s your turn to hit the event, give the implements a once over, and FIX them if you don’t like them.  Adjust the keg handles the way you like, ask for the stone to be brushed off if it’s covered in dirt, get the yoke feet even with the start line, etc.  Very few promoters will be upset about this, as long as you do it quickly.

-I stole this from Clint Darden; as soon as you approach the implement in a strongman show, start shaking your head “no”.  Keep this up while the judge asks “athlete ready?” until you actually ARE ready, at which point NOW you start nodding your head.  A lot of athletes think they’re at the mercy of the judge, but “athlete ready” IS a question, and if you’re not, don’t rush your set-up.

-Don’t drop the implements.  It’s just not a cool thing to do, and you can actually miss a lift that way.  This goes for strongman AND powerlifting.  That means you should also train not dropping them when you train.

-Don’t ask if things are allowed at the rules meeting.  If they don’t say it’s illegal, it’s LEGAL.  I swear to god I will throat punch the next troglodyte that tries to make MORE rules for the sport.  Also, this is the advantage of going first; you get to cheat first, and after you cheat THEN they will make a ruling.  I have never seen anyone have an event taken away from them because they did something that wasn’t briefed in the rules meeting; but I HAVE seen a new rule made either on the spot or after that guy went.  Talk about an advantage!


Image result for cheating in sports
"Ok, from now on, you have to wait until we say 'go' to start"

-Don’t confuse chalk with babypowder.  Also, this is why you should avoid community chalkbowls, because inevitably the 2 will get mixed together and suddenly everything will slide right out of your hands.

-If you loan 1 person your bottle of goo gone, consider it now community property and never expect it to come back.

-For a strongman competition, register as soon as registration opens.  I know a lot of folks like to wait and see who else is coming, but in a lot of competitions, whoever registers first gets to go LAST for the first event.  This is a MASSIVE advantage, because you’ll know what you need to beat for that event.  If it’s for reps, you can cap it once you’ve beat the top score.  If it’s max weight, you can play it conservative.  Compare this to a time I was in the middle of the pack for a car deadlift event and ended up pulling 34 reps when it turned out the next highest was 22.  Wasted a lot of energy, but didn’t have the luxury to know when to stop.

-Even if the rules say some piece of gear isn’t allowed, bring it anyway.  If you’re super evil, you can just try to sneak it in, but the main reason is because rules will change IN the rules meeting for strongman, and suddenly that “axle without straps” event just became “with straps”, and if you didn’t bring your axle straps, you’re screwed.


---
 

I’m sure I could keep going, but this is pretty lengthy as is.  Be sure to post your own in the comments!