Sunday, January 14, 2018

THE DAY TO DAY



Had a question from a reader (Jen) in my last post that asked the following

“I'm not sure if you've done a post exclusively on this before but I'd be really interested in your thoughts on rest and recovery between workouts/working out while still suffering the effects of the previous workout or non gym based fatigue and managing your fatigue and soreness in every day life.”

Image result for navy seal flutter kicks
I've heard good things about ice baths...close enough?

My response will be predictable on this one, but I can at least elaborate and illuminate.  In case anyone is living under any sort of delusion, allow me to be clear; I am always in pain.  Like many athletes, if I woke up one day and something didn’t hurt, I’d assume I had died.  My left knee is the most usual culprit, as even after my surgery I still have to deal with stiffness and swelling, but if it’s not my knee it’ll be my shoulder, back, hamstrings, elbows, or something else.  Pain will migrate through my body, and it’s basically a question of riding it out in one spot before getting “relief” from it by shifting it to another.

However, don’t interpret this to mean that I am in daily agony.  This is just pain, and since it is a daily occurrence, it has reset my baseline perception of normalcy such that being in pain FEELS like what being normal is.  One of my best examples of this was that, after my knee surgery, I got off my pain meds in 3 days.  I started with only have the recommended dosage, and quickly weened myself off from there, mainly because pain meds scare me.  After those 3 days, I THOUGHT I was painfree, and then 2 weeks later I realized that I was FINALLY not feeling my surgical pain.  In 3 days, I had reset myself to a level of “normal pain”, because it had been way too long since I had experienced a painfree baseline.

Image result for black knight monty python
You mean this isn't normal?

I am rarely injured, just beat up, and in turn this is a bit of my management strategy for this fatigue and soreness; it’s simply a state of being for me.  I’ve learned how to function while being beat up and sore, because it’s how I always am.  It DOES take a while to come to terms with that, but through repetition it becomes easier.  I used to only want to train when I felt good.  If I was too sore or beat up from previous training, I’d tell myself that it would be better for me to rest an extra day and come back feeling good.  After a while, I discovered that I was spending a lot of time NOT training.  I decided to really look into the matter, and come to the conclusion that a whole bunch of OK workouts were going to outpace a handful of super awesome workouts, and it was ultimately in my best interest to train even when I felt beat up rather than wait for the perfect day for training.  Consequently, I got a lot bigger and stronger once I embraced that.

In addition, many times training IS the solution for pain.  I followed a training cycle for a long time that involved me ending the training week with the dumbest squat workout I could come up with that day.  Dropsets mixed with rest pause was usually a big winner.  I’d walk with a limp until about Thursday each week, and in many cases my hamstrings were too tight to do any more productive squatting until that time, which really put a damper on things considering my squat day was Tuesday.  I eventually learned that, instead of trying to rest the pain away, I had to train it away.  Feeder workouts, which is to say lightweight squats with a focus on getting blood flowing through my legs and prowler work (or any sort of non-eccentric leg work) would have me recovered enough to train again by Tues or Weds, and after that training session the pain in my legs would be completely eliminated.


Yeah, walking normally after this wasn't happening


Regarding non-gym based fatigue, it’s another instance of constant exposure building tolerance.  Much like my “practice misery” blogpost, I’ve spent  lot of time trying to train under worse and worse conditions while doing my best to maintain or improve my strength, operating under the premise that, if I can STAY strong while I’m fatigued, I’ll be even stronger when I’m fresh.  The issue people run into with this approach is that they immediately freak out at the first sign of a strength dip and decide to never train while fatigued ever again because they believe you need to always lift the absolute most possible highest weight you can handle at any given time or you’re “losing gains”.  Bullcrap.  If that was true, things like rest pause, stripsets, giantsets, short rest periods, etc wouldn’t work.  I find the most significant variable is a maintained rate of exertion irrespective of conditions surrounding it.  If I push myself as hard as possible while fatigued, I’m going to get as great a growth as I did while pushing myself while fresh.

Life is FULL of opportunities to give this a practice.  You can do it while sleeping less, or you can do it after a long hard day, or you can do it by training too many days in a row (GASP, but don’t you HAVE to take a day off between workouts?), etc.  I’ve done it while recovering from surgery or after being discharged from the hospital or after some minor surgery, mainly because I’m really stupid.  With enough practice, you learn how to eventually zombie through it all, and then, after enough zombie-ing, you learn how to actually thrive under these circumstances.  You’ll learn how to stumble up to the bar, see double when you look down to set your feet, focus as hard as you can on not vomiting as you grab the bar, knock out a strong set of deads, then put the bar down and headspin away to rest between sets. 

Image result for steiner weightlifting injury
*Phew* only 2 more sets


Probably not the most helpful answer, but it’s what works for me.  Keep sucking it up until you can’t.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

THE HELL I CAN’T


The longer I train, the more it seems that my training is based purely around doing things people say won’t work.  Oh sure, I started on the straight and narrow, did my 5s and drank my milk and got adequate rest between sets and workouts and all the things a good little lifter does…and then decided I wanted to actually make some progress and start doing the things no one else was doing.  And along the way I encountered a lot of static, with tons of people assuring me things wouldn’t work, and when they did, assuring me that I must have trained wrong WRONGLY such that, my wrong training was actually right.  What?  That, or it was my “superior genetics” that carried me through.  In truth, it has been simply my willingness to abide by a simple mantra; “The Hell I can’t”.

Image result for SAC patch blood from turnip
I love this patch so much

“You can’t get a stronger deadlift from pulling touch and go”  The Hell I can’t.  “You can’t get a stronger grip using straps”  The Hell I can’t.  “You can’t get stronger without sleeping 8 hours a night”  The Hell I can’t.  Can’t perform well first thing in the morning with no food?  Can’t perform well without a mobility routine?  Can’t ignore research?  Can’t train well off low carbs?  The Hell I can’t.  I’ll squeeze blood from a goddamn turnip and make camels drink too.  Why?  Because I’m not going to let others dictate MY future.

People are too willing to accept defeat simply because it conforms to conventional norms.  It is much easier to fail exactly like everyone else has failed than to succeed and be a pioneer, because it’s far lonelier in the case of the latter, but I believe you’ll find that it’s always lonely on the outside.  However, the company is MUCH better there, because you’ll be among the exact same lunatics as you that decided that just because logic, science, reason and experience dictates something will happen doesn’t mean it has to happen for YOU.

Image result for squatting on a bosu ball
I don't think he'll be there though

Yeah yeah “special snowflake”, hey, why not you?  Yeah, the sheer statistically odds dictate that you are PROBABLY average, but they ALSO dictate that, in any given population, some people will be average, some will be below, and some will be above.  Why can’t you be in the above?  Poor genetics?  No talent? Who cares; you’re insane!  That still makes you different, and you can leverage that difference to be, if nothing else, DIFFERENT than average.  This means you don’t need to let the rules of reasonable people dictate your existence.

It’s why people so quick and ready to apply experiences and studies utilizing average people are trying to limit your success.  “It’s scientifically proven that you NEED restful sleep in order to recover and get stronger; it’s just a fact!”  Yeah, and we’ve also seen special forces operators hump a mission for a week straight with no sleep and still accomplish their objective, so I think you can probably get by with 6 hours of sleep instead of 8.  “HIT doesn’t work; it just can’t!  Where’s the volume?!”  Well goddamn if it didn’t work for a bunch of lunatics in the 60s, 70s and 80s.  And hell, before that, didn’t we just use to call it Super Squats?  And afterwards, didn’t we call it DoggCrapp?  Unhinged people have been achieving unhinged results while the rest of the world lives a comfortable life achieving modest success.  And there is nothing wrong with accomplishing modest success, but to consider it the zenith of possibility severely limits you.

Image result for eddie hall 500kg deadlift
We were all laughing when he said he was going to do it, until he went and did it

I’ve discovered what I can get away with purely by trying, and these days it’s become something of a challenge to see how dumb of an idea I can make work.  It always starts slow; I’m going to start training in the morning.  Then it’s training in the morning off very little food.  Then it’s training in the morning off very little food and sleep.  Then it’s training in the morning off little food or sleep while physically exhausted.  And as I continue to build up my tolerance to my own insanity, I see myself achieving success with methods I am told will not work.  Sure; they probably wouldn’t work had I tried it from the get go, but the further along you go, the more you realize it really is an instance of “The Hell I can’t”

You have to find a way to get to yes.  If you start out believing things are impossible, they absolutely will be.  However, if you start with things being possible, all you need to do is work backwards to figure out WHAT it will take to get there.  I did exactly this when I ran “Building the Monolith” in under an hour, despite the fact that people told me it HAD to take longer than that.  I sat down, looked at the program, figured out where time could be saved, came up with a plan that looked absolutely nuts, executed it on day 1, spent the duration of my shower after that workout contemplating quitting the program because it absolutely sucked, and then finished out the rest of it.  And I’ve done this same thing with ridiculous conditioning workouts, training plans for competitions, recovery from ACL surgery, diets, sleep, etc etc.  And consequently, after I had my experience with Building the Monolith and posted my approach, there was a sudden rash of people knocking out the program in an hour or less too.  And I don’t say that to point out that people were copying my approach, but to point out that I’m NOT a badass and anyone else can do it too; sometimes it just needs to HAPPEN so that we know it can be possible.  So why not let it be you?

Image result for paul anderson
Yet another lunatic doing things that couldn't possibly work


See this as a challenge.  See it as a calling.  There are so MANY things out there people say can’t be done that you can surely do.  Get stronger lifting less weight, or while under fatigue, or with poor form, or while injured.  Lose weight and make your lifts go up.  Ultimately realize that these are things people don’t WANT you to do, not things they really think you can’t do.  It’s upsetting to these people to observe someone succeed with methods they already ruled out because such approaches were immensely more difficult than just throwing their hands up in the air and giving up.  And pretty soon you’ll find yourself in situations where, the instant someone says you can’t do something, all you can think is “The Hell I can’t”

Sunday, December 31, 2017

BRUTE FORCE AND IGNORANCE


With a new year looming, I figure why not provide a vector for those in need.  In truth, the title for this blog entry comes from the comment of someone who read my “experience of an oaf” post, who remarked that they were a big fan of my “brute force and ignorance” approach to training.  As much as I disdain attempts to summarize complex ideas into bite sized sound bites, it struck me that I had probably never seen a more accurate synopsis of what I am about.  It rang true to such an extent that I was upset I hadn’t thought to name the blog that in the first place.  And so with that, why not dive a little bit further to explore how we got here, and what it means for the future.

Image result for X-men arcade the blob
I'm normally more a Juggernaut man, but the Blob seems a little more appropriate here

I’m going to cop to this; I am intentionally ignorant.  I practice ignorance, and have learned to be ignorant in the face of access to a wide variety of information.  However, when people view the end result of this, they seem to interpret this to mean that I’ve simply not been exposed to the information that is available on training.  People will see my expressed views on training and do me the service of linking me to some pubmed abstract, or ask if I saw the latest youtube guru’s thesis on rep scheme, or the inexplicable proof of the exact amount of growth a natural lifter can obtain, etc etc.  Yes, of course I’ve seen them; I saw them all when they came out 10 years ago.  And before that, I read the ones that came out 10 years before that. 

I saw all these things, and I lived my life by them…and made the worst progress ever.  I made the exact same mistakes all these people linking me are in the process of making and don’t even realize it; trying to train by the information dictated in these studies which may not actually apply to me in my current situation.  What was I really trying to do?  I was looking for the shortcut of course.  I was looking for the way to optimize my training and eek out the maximal amount of growth with the minimal amount of effort and squeeze those gains out for all that they were worth.  What was I missing?  The fact that, even IF optimization was possible, the net gain between optimal training and suboptimal training is so microscopically small that it’s statistically insignificant.  Results simply take time to achieve, but know what is great about that?  It means everything works; you just have to try!

Image result for mike mentzer
A body built with methods that don't work

It’s the truth, and everyone hates to hear it.  It’s really really hard to train wrong.  “But what about bro-splits?!” you scream?  For one, you sound stupid; don’t call anything a “bro-split”, but secondly, are you referring to the way that EVERYONE trained in the 80s and 90s?  The very split you simultaneous shame by referring to it as “bro” anything but also praise because it explicitly does exactly what it’s meant to do and develops “bro muscles”?  Wanna know what happens when you follow it for 10 years?  You get bigger and stronger.  Wanna know what happens when you follow HIT for 10 years?  You get bigger and stronger.  Westside Barbell?  Yup.  DoggCrapp?  Uh huh.  5/3/1?  You got it.  People want you to believe you can train wrong because it benefits THEM to sell you that line of crap, because trying to sell “hard work for a long time” just doesn’t have a good ring to it.  And neophytes and zealots online scream at you for not training THEIR way because it damages their psyche to see people succeeding with a method that isn’t theirs.

And here we arrive at “brute force”.  It’s not just about ignoring technique and grinding through weak points (although there is plenty of that), but it’s about MAKING things work.  Why was my training so bad when I was doing everything “right”?  Because there was no heart in it, no spirit; the “human” element was removed.  Everything was mechanical and calculated and precise…and I couldn’t stand it.  There was no room for passion and emotion, no opportunity to just cut loose and see what I could do, and in turn I was spinning my wheels and not putting in the effort where it needed to happen.  And then, I went back to what I “knew” worked…and it worked.  And what I knew worked was all of those things I had heard for years from other successful lifters that had, in turn, been declared “broscience” but the internet collective…as though that were a bad thing.  If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, maybe you’re “doing it wrong”….but who cares?  It’s not working.  Go make something else work.

Image result for super squats
Look at that, you CAN get results with only 20 reps of squats; they just have to be done all at once...with your 10rm

You make training work for you; not the other way around.  You will things to work.  You will recovery to happen, you will muscles to grow, you will injuries to heal; its brute force of the mind.  And with enough brute force, it WILL work.  And if it’s not working, force it harder.  Wanna get a stronger deadlift without deadlifting?  You make it happen.  Stronger grip while using straps?  Make it happen.  All those things people say can’t work will work with enough brute force.

For 2018, why not bring a little more ignorance and brute force into your life?  How about a year where you forget what you know, do something stupid, and do it so hard that it works?  And hey, maybe if it doesn’t work, you can go write-up a study and have it published so everyone else can learn from it?

Image result for bosu ball squats
Hey, here' s a start


Happy New Year!