Sunday, June 19, 2016

IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO FEEL GOOD


Apparently this needs to be addressed, as the question keeps coming up.  Do you ever find yourself wondering what you’re doing wrong?  Why is it that, when you try to get bigger and stronger, you always get hurt?  Why is it that, when you try to lose fat, you get ravenously hungry, or when you try to gain weight, you feel like you’re going to vomit?  What’s the secret?  How did guys like Arnold, Mariusz and Kaz do it?


They did it because they knew it wasn’t SUPPOSED to feel good.


Image result for bill kazmaier eyes
Tip: No one lookslike this when they're having a good time

This element of reality seems lost on the current generation of lifters.  They interpret discomfort as a sign of something being “wrong”: of ineffectiveness.  Surely feeling discomfort MUST be a bad thing, no?  We’re taught our whole lives to avoid discomfort at all costs and seek out comfort whenever possible.  Anyone intentionally subjecting themselves to discomfort is either a masochist or clearly someone making some sort of mistake…right?


The body gravitates toward comfort because it doesn’t WANT to change.  Change is a traumatic experience for a body to undergo, and it utilizes many precious resources.  A body at rest prefers to be at rest.  As such, when one starts engaging in activities that will create change in the body, the body fights back by sending signals of discomfort; essentially telling the brain to “knock it off”.  This is when it is up to YOU, the owner of the body, to fight back, tell it to go pound sand, and continue on your quest for excellence.

Image result for scott mendelson pec tear
Don't get me wrong; sometimes the body wins

THIS is the secret that many people are missing out on when they drool over the physiques and accomplishments of the successful.  As glorious as Arnold tried to make the bodybuilding lifestyle appear in “Pumping Iron”, NOT shown were the days he spent in utter misery prepping for a show while living off of a diet of lettuce and water.  NOT shown were the hour long meals in the off seasons where he ate until he felt like he was going to vomit.  NOT show were the unglorious workouts, where he just got to the gym and grinded away for YEARS to develop his physique.  Cry “drugs” all you want; the man still had to be miserable to succeed.


EVERY successful trainee lives miserably.  I’m not trying to make them martyrs; this is just lifting weights after all.  However, it needs to be understood that those people who achieve greatness in lifting spend far more time uncomfortable than comfortable.  People trying to emulate these success stories miss this part, and when they start encountering some of this misery, they fly off the path of success due to fear.  The very first time they feel the pangs of hunger while losing fat, they assume they must have screwed up their diet.  There is NO way that bodybuilders ever go hungry; that can’t be right.  As soon as they need to eat a meal when they aren’t hungry, they decide to get their hormone profiles checked; no way anyone ever ate food just to get bigger.  When they feel some aches and pains in their joints, they stop all training and immediately seek medical attention; there is no WAY that Kaz ever felt pain when he was training.

Image result for ted arcidi vs bill kazmaier
Come on dude; you know it was all staged

Think of what a terrible legacy these trainees want to grant to the legends.  Isn’t it a FAR more inspiring story to imagine Arnold shivering in some crappy studio apartment somewhere staring longingly at a can of cake frosting while knowing that the Olympia was still 4 weeks out and he needed to hold firm?  Isn’t it far more impressive to imagine Kaz stumbling jello legged away from the squat rack, puking into a trashcan, and then crawling over to the leg press to finish his workout?  Wouldn’t we rather believe that, instead of being a prodigy, Mariusz missed birthdays, social events, and late nights so that he could practice the events to the point of perfection and being one of the most proficient strongman of his era?



Don’t think of these people as gods; it’s far more impressive to realize that they are men.  They experience the same agony YOU experience.  They get hungry when they don’t eat, they get sick when they overeat, they get beat up and broken and battered from training too hard…and they keep doing it because they know it WORKS.  And you can do the same!  You share their lineage as humans, with almost identical genetic material.  Everyone wants to cry “genetics”, but consider the reality that you have far more in common genetically with these legends than you do with any other species on the planet.  You can share their pain AND their success.

Image result for mariusz pudzianowski farmers walk
Maybe even some facial expressions

Embrace the suck.  You can feel good when you quit, but until then you can feel miserable and BE amazing.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

OBSERVATIONS FROM DISNEYLAND

As I have returned from another harrowing adventure among humanity, I thought it might be fun to discuss some of the things I have observed within the general population as it relates to health, fitness, bodycomp, and physical culture.



-Holy crap, people are fat.  I spend a lot of time in the world of strength training, and my perspective of a "normal" body is pretty warped, but I was amazed at far off the mark I was.  Yeah, there are some real fat people in strongman and powerlifting, but the sheer percentage of fat people I saw was absurd.


Image result for fat person rascal
...'merica


-Adults will give me the right of way in a crowd, while kids don't give a f**k.  I think it shows that kids haven't lowered their standards yet.


-You can tell yourself that those giant turkey legs are "pure protein" as much as you want, but they're still probably not a great food choice...but it's better than a churro.


-People will come to a deadstop in the middle of an incredibly crowded walkway for reasons I'll never be able to understand.  As frustrating as this is, I think it's a pretty good sign that people are completely oblivious to the world around them, which means that all of you people afraid of getting "judged" at the gym need to chill, because no one is paying attention to you.


Image result for hodor hold the door
At least he had a noble reason to stop moving


-I was at Disneyland 6 weeks post op for my ACL reconstruction.  The park is an excellent metric for rehab progress.  For one, I could actually fit my knee into far more rides with my increased ROM, and I didn't bang into as much crap.  Also, I could pivot and cut far better navigating through the endless torrent of humans.


-You can pretty much yell whatever you want at whoever you want, since everyone is on their damn phones the whole time they're walking.  Not gonna lie; I tend to become a complete asshole due to this.  However, for you fun seekers, consider trying this at the gym.


-It was grad night for 3 nights while I was there, and oh my god childhood obesity has gotten bad.  I'd say 4 out of 5 High School Grads that I saw were overweight, and about 2-3 of those 4 were on the side of obese.  It's just sad to see.  These kids are off to a rough start at such a young age, and most of them are just going to continue to make the same bad choices and just get in a real bad way.


-Yes, you CAN eat 4 quest bars in a day.  But you probably shouldn't.


-One of the most telling quotes on the trip was while I was walking toward the gates to Disneyland.  I was staying within walking distance, and a group from my hotel were all heading in the same direction.  Some woman with her child said "Well, we don't need to know where we're going; we can just follow all these people."  This is the exact same mentality that people have when it comes to training; they don't need to think or know anything, they can just do what everyone else is doing.  Jesus Christ, you'll just take your child to where a group of strangers are heading?  What if they were all going to buy drugs, or jump into traffic, or go to Knott's Berry Farm (I kid btw, Knott's is awesome)?  Don't follow a flock of people simply because they are a flock, follow them because they exhibit signs of SUCCESS.  If they are wearing Disneyland employee badges and are going to work, they probably know where they are going and how to get there.  If they're a lost tourist just like you, they don't have authority over you simply because they started walking before you did.


Consequently, the people she was following went the wrong way.


Image result for Don't follow me I'm going to hell
But, to be fair, that's where all the cool people are


-I wore a tanktop everyday, partially because it was one of the few times I could get something resembling a tan, but mostly because, after spending 5 winters in North Dakota training in my garage, my internal thermostat is broken and I interpret anything over 60 degrees as "hot", and in Anaheim I was dying.  It seemed that, in doing so, I entered into a brotherhood of other tanktop wearers at Disneyland.  I observed that guys who were smaller than me but lean/leaner would give me the "bro nod", while guys who were bigger and fluffier than me would give me the death stare.  I'm wondering if this means I've betrayed my heritage.


-Even with a 650 deadlift, I can't get the sword out of the stone.


-If you drink nothing but zero carb rockstars and diet coke for 3 days (and yes, I mean no actual water), you'll look really shredded by day 3...from being massively dehydrated.


-The average walking pace of the average American is simply deplorable.  I can't tell if this is just a lack of being in a hurry or if people are just trying their absolute hardest not to exert themselves in any capacity.


-If you wanna see people with zero body image issues, check out a hotel pool.  Body positivity at it's finest.

Image result for Fat people at the pool
You will probably never be this happy



-Do rascal scooters allow fat people to get fatter, or do they just allow really fat people to be out in public?  Or is it both?


-"Small people priveldge" is being able to raise your arms over your head on a roller coaster.







Sunday, June 5, 2016

PSA-BEGINNERS: DO MORE, NOT LESS.

Dear Beginner Lifter,


Have you been following a trendy beginner routine where you're doing 5x5?  Have you started to stall?  Are you considering following the conventional "wisdom" of dropping down to 3x5, and eventually 1x5 or 3x3 to continue progressing?



DON'T


Image result for dethklok drink the bleach
Oh yeah, and if you were drinking bleach, stop doing that too


You are falling for a trick!  What is being proposed to you is NOT a way to continue progressing, but simply a way to create the ILLUSION of progress.


Let's review; you were doing 5x5 with straight weight across each set (for some reason, but we'll discuss why this was a silly choice another time).  One day, you were no longer able to complete the 5x5.  You attempted multiple times and were unsuccessful, managing the first 3 sets of 5 but failing to complete the last 2 (most likely).


Is eliminating those last 2 sets progressing?  NO!  It is in fact hiding from and ignoring your weakness.  Cutting out the hard part is the sort of answer that a small and weak person would come up with.  Yes, this will allow you to continue to train and add weight to the bar, but it's simply prolonging the inevitable.  You've exhausted your potential, and it's time to do MORE, not less, to get bigger and stronger.



Image result for South park warcraft
Keep in mind, this is typically the physique you develop from doing less


Want to have some fun with math?  Let me show you how this magic trick works.  Let's say you were doing 5x5 with 135lbs of weight on the bar.  That's 25 reps, meaning you moved 3,375lbs in a workout.  You then decide to cut it down to 3x5, meaning that, even if you increase the weight to 140, you're only moving 2100lbs in a workout.  Yeah, of course you're going to be able to keep training with linear progression; you're lifting LESS weight now.  Wanna guess what's going to happen when you put 225 on the bar for 3x5?  Meanwhile, did you get any stronger during that whole process, or did you just find a new way to reset that creates the illusion of improvement?



To BE more, one must DO more.  Beginners are absolutely terrified of some overtraining boogieman, when really it is the fear of UNDERTRAINING that should be keeping them up at night.  If you're only doing 5x5 for 1 lift in a workout and zero outside work, you're not creating a whole lot of opportunities for success.  If your solution to the weight being heavy is resting 10 minutes between sets, you're not addressing your actual problems.  You need to force your body to grow through stress.


Image result for Car deadlift vomit
Fun fact; the anabolism from the effort exerted counteracts the catabolism from the vomiting


If you stall, start using some assistance work to get MORE volume in on top of your main training sets.  That's the point of assistance work; a way to strengthen weaknesses and cause growth.  If you aren't recovering well between sets, perform conditioning work so that you can improve your ability to recover.  Recovering IS a trainable quality, and ignoring it is why beginners never get anywhere.  The people that claim that cardio kills gains tend to be small, weak and fat.  It's the damndest thing really.


You don't need to cross some sort of arbitrary threshold and win the "intermediate lifter" crown before you're granted some sort of permission to use assistance work and reps over 5.  Prior to the internet, this was the NORM for getting bigger and stronger.  Read through "The Complete Keys of Progress" and notice how not a single article mentioned that some programs were for beginners while others were for advanced guys.  Reg Park's exact program was recommended for a new lifter, because it WORKED.  This idea of various levels of programs for various levels of lifters is internet nerdism and product of gurus trying to sell you something.  Train like someone that actually IS big and strong, because that's how you get that way.



PUSH YOURSELF!  You can recover from way more than you give yourself credit for.  Find out what your limits are; don't let some author or internet flunkie tell you otherwise.  Amass a ridiculous amount of volume to the point that your body has no choice BUT to grow.  Become a workhorse.  If everyone else is stalling at 3x5, what have you got to lose by actually putting in some effort and getting some work done?


Image result for Starting Strength Zach
Aside from the fact you might not becoming a meme


This isn't about following a formula and a blueprint.  These people trying to tell you that first you do Starting Strength and then you are given permission to do Ice Cream Fitness 5x5 and then you progress to the Texas Method and then etc etc are unaccomplished, weak, and trying to recruit you into their cult.  The blueprint successful lifters followed is that they trained their ass off with skullsplitting intensity and dedication and ignored anyone trying to Jedi-mind trick them into believing that the secret to progress was working LESS.



I assure you, it is a rare individual who discovers that the reason they aren't progressing is because they've been working too hard.  In all cases, assume you aren't working hard enough, and you will get MUCH further than the people who think they've already got everything figured out, dialed in, squared away and that it's simply science that's holding them back.




Sincerely,


That guy with the blog.