Sunday, February 7, 2016

IT’S NOT A GODDAMN ROLE PLAYING GAME


Full disclosure: I am a nerd.  I don’t mean in the trendy way people call themselves nerds these days just because they like the new Star Wars movie. I played Magic the Gathering, I still play Dungeons and Dragons, I own almost every video game system from the NES to the Xbox 360, and I even have a goddamn comic book character emblem tattooed on my body. Yet, all of the nerdy activities I’ve engaged in, lifting has to be the one with the most embarrassing community of nerds.



...too far?



It didn’t use to always be like this.  In fact, it used to be the opposite.  The stereotype was that lifters were meatheads: guys with IQs equal to their bodyfat percentages who grunted their way through social interactions and shoved kids in lockers for their lunch money. These same Neanderthals would lumber into the weight room, pick up something heavy, blast until they puked, go home, eat a few steaks, and repeat the process ad infinitum. Somehow, it worked for decades…and then the nerds showed up on the scene.


Image result for Ogre Nerds



My theory is that those kids getting shoved in the lockers decided to overcome their position by becoming the enemy.  They decided that they TOO would lift. However, they brought to lifting what they brought to all their other hobbies and passion: an obsession with statistics and “leveling up”.  Like all other activities, they viewed lifting as a game to be won through grinding to the point of obtaining superior statistics, and assumed that it in turn must follow the rules of their fantasy universe.




It is from this that we developed this idea of “beginner routines” that one must follow until they hit intermediate stats.  Once they’ve leveled up, this trainee is now ready for the intermediate routine until they level up to the advanced status. It’s grinding to level up, pure and simple, and its insanity.  Read through the “Keys to Progress” and see how ironheads were training in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s: there was no mention of “intermediate” routines, you stuck with something hard and heavy and blasted away at it until you became something. If you needed to get bigger, you ate more, if you needed to get smaller, you ate less, and the entire time you trained, you threw enough intensity of effort at the lifts that your body had no choice BUT to grow.


Image result for Pat Casey powerlifter
I mean...it worked for this guy


The nerdiness doesn’t end there either. With the penchant to min-max, munchkin and optimize everything (apologizes to my non-nerd speaking audience for those first 2 terms), many of these trainees believe that the effectiveness of a routine can easily be determined via mathetmatical computations of volume and intensity.  The best routine IS out there, and all one has to do is compare ALL of them, crunch the numbers and *poof* the best routine is discovered.  What’s missing?  The human element of course: the effects of intensity of effort, the athletic background of the trainees, the psychological and physiological responses to certain training stimuli, effects of prior injuries, etc etc.  The new generation of beginners is obsessed with finding the best routine before they ever begin, while the old ironheads knew that all they needed was some guiding principles and the rest would sort itself out.  No character skill tree needed, just effort and consistency.



If you want a nerdy analogy, here’s one: lifting is like trying to hit level 99 in the very opening screen of your RPG of choice.  At first, the experience points are significant, and the leveling up happens quickly.  Soon enough though, things slow down. You’re getting better and stronger, and yet your enemies aren’t giving you the boost that you used to.  Is the solution to come up with more and more creative means to dispatch them, in the hopes that the game will somehow reward your creativity in slaying your comically easy opponents?  No; all you can do is show up, grind forever and ever, and eek out progress through force of will, effort and consistency.  Magic isn’t the answer: its patience.


Image result for mages suck
Plus, being a Fighter is way cooler than a Wizard



If the qualities that allowed one to excel at Dungeons and Dragons made one a better lifter, the dynamics of high school would have been radically different.  Don’t be afraid to be a meathead.  Shut off the brain for a second, crank up the testosterone, and keep showing up until you get results. If you’re rolling a D20, start over.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

BRAIN VOMIT


-Nothing is more frustrating than having people tell you to stop pushing yourself so hard and be safe during your physical therapy, and then having those same people praise your surgeon and your physical therapist because you “recovering SO well”.  My surgeon and physical therapist are great at doing their jobs too, but how about a little credit where credit is due?


-If you want to get away with poor form on an exercise, just slap someone’s name on it.  “Those are just Leeman Rows”, “Those are Zottman curls”, “That’s a Dimel Deadlift”.  I hope one day they name mile high squats after me.


-It’s funny how, if I just give advice on reddit’s fitness page, it gets downvoted, but if I give advice and then post my stats, people have questions to ask. Meanwhile, no one is downvoting “Do 3x5 for everything”, regardless of the advice giver’s stats.


-I tend to be the first to say “training isn’t fun”, but picking up the Rolling Thunder legitimately is fun. It’s pretty cheap all things considered. Or maybe this is just a sign that I suck at it, since it means its light enough for me to actually enjoy it.


-The IPF announced that attending any seminar Ed Coan was it would get people suspended. Powerlifting is the craziest sport in the world, because it seems like the competitors LOVE for the powers at be to crap all over them. People still can’t give the IPF money fast enough, want to go to all of their meets, place high in their federation, etc, just like how people throw money at Inzer to get terrible customer service. Maybe when a sport is full of masochists, the way to succeed is to treat them like dirt.


Image result for Ed Coan
I should've warned you that viewing this image would result in a ban from the IPF


-On the above, the predictable bellows of “we need to unify the sport!” were once again heard. If you wanna unify powerlifting, make it all multiply and untested, with lax standards and 72 hour weigh ins. If you don’t want to compete in multiply, you don’t have to.  If you don’t want to use drugs, you don’t have to. If you want to bury your squats, go ahead.  Weigh in 2 hours beforehand, go for it. …oh, what’s that you say?  You want it to be unified AND you want to win? Now you’re just being selfish.


-I wish I knew why I wanted an Ironmind Axle so badly.


-The prowler is an amazing tool.  I needed to get one a decade ago. Well worth the hype.


-I am still keeping my eyes peeled for one of Mark Rippetoe’s athletes to show up somewhere.  Seriously, if anyone ever finds one, please let me know. I figure I could even put the picture on a milk carton; you know one of his lifters would see it then.

Image result for milk carton have you seen me 
Although I suppose to be really effective you'd have to put it on the gallon

-Do people realize how unoriginal they are being when they ask for meals that are healthy, cheap, easy to make and taste good?  Or how about someone wanting to know how to workout if they don’t have a lot of time? Do these people possess so much hubris that they assume they’re the first to ever think to ask such a question, and it’s only because of this reason that the answer isn’t immediately available for everyone in the world to enjoy? How heroic.


-Ever noticed how people stressing over the difference between chin-ups and pull-ups tend to have small and weak lats?


-It dawned on me that yesterday was the first time I had used a straight barbell since 10 Oct. It was for meadows rows. How funny that I used to consider that an “essential piece of equipment”.


-I have never seen a 700lb bencher worry about their lift ratios.

 Image result for eric spoto
Does anyone care what he squats?

-The concept of rep ranges is one of the worst things to ever happen to lifting.


-Anyone getting upset at you because your workout isn’t optimal is trying to sell you something.


-If you ever want to upset someone seeking advice, inform them they that may need to read a book on the subject.


-I may be one of the first people in history to develop tendonitis from doing their physical therapy too much.


-People are coming up with methods to perform moving events in place at a commercial gym. One of the popular adaptations is to walk in place on an aerobics stepper with a dumbbell in each hand to simulate farmer’s walks. Jesus Christ people; quit trying to put the square peg in the round hole.

 Image result for Squatting on a bosu ball
This is how they train the yoke

-I am really starting to believe that programming just plain doesn’t matter.  Consistency and intensity of effort seem to be the 2 most important factors of training, and as long as you have those 2 things going, you can pretty much do whatever you want and you’ll grow.  It seems the goal of the program is just to give you something exciting enough to believe in that you WANT to apply that consistency and intensity of effort.


-Kinda weird how people always mention the amount of weight lifted in a form check video, don’t you think?


-I came up with a fad diet a while back where you buy all your groceries, bring them to a field, throw them all as hard as you can, and whatever lands the farthest, you get to eat. I figured everyone else had a crazy idea, I should too.  The funny thing is, there is a little bit of merit. A head of lettuce is going to travel further than a box of Froot Loops (I didn’t misspell that buy the way; they can’t legally refer to it as “Fruit”), and meat will go farther than twinkies. It gets into a grey area with cans of Chef Boy-ar-dee though.


-If the only way your program works is if you eat a lot of calories, your program doesn’t work.


-All these kids who talk about how you need a ton of volume to grow and poo-poo 5/3/1 have clearly never run 20 rep squats. Do 20 reps of one exercise and grow magically. How much more volume do I need professor?

 Image result for Super Squats
The alternate title of "How to experience unfathomable agony 3 times a week" didn't test well

-I get shocked at how much drama is in powerlifting until I realize that any sport that cares so much about what another dude is wearing is BOUND to be catty.


-Anyone telling you to “squat deeper” is really saying “find a way to squat less than me.”


-If you don’t’ know if you’re injured or not: you’re not.  Don’t worry; your body will definitely let you know when you’re injured!


-You’re getting old and beat down when “safe sex” means sex that runs zero risk of blowing out your back, hamstrings or knee.


-The more people that disagree with me, the better I feel about my training decisions.  As soon as the majority supports my conclusions, I start to worry.


-Anyone “annoyed” by bad form is terrified that someone might know something that they don’t.


-Anyone posting a “depth check” for squats online is just asking for permission.


-One of the many memes I am getting tired of is people posting photos of some sort of ridiculously overindulgent food items with “#gainz” or some other such nonsense. Let’s not try to pretend that the secret to success is hidden in the bottom of a banana split. If you like the taste of something, that’s enough justification. If you don’t care about being lean, that’s your call. However, I’m willing to bet that the person suffering more in the gym AND at the dinner table is probably getting better results.

Image result for massive ice cream sundae
#diabetes #whydon'tIhaveabs? #breastmode

-I’m always baffled when someone tells me that I train the way I do because I compete, but because they just want to get bigger and stronger, they train differently. Isn’t the goal of competing to be the biggest and the strongest in order to win?


-Anyone trying to convince you to stop doing something because it’s a “waste of money” is battling some envy and insecurity. No one cares about your personal finances.


-Why do college kids try to make it sound like they’re inmates?


-If you see a lifter call themselves an intermediate, they’re a beginner.  If they call themselves advanced, they’re a beginner.  If they call themselves a beginner, they probably not.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

YOU CAN'T CHANGE REALITY BY MEASURING IT


This is going to get a little philosophical so bear with me. 


Image result for tao of pooh
Did somebody say philosophy bear?!


Many philosophers have argued about the nature of reality.  Some posited that we have no way of knowing if what we experience is even real, or if in fact everything is an illusion and we’re all just brains in jars being given artificial senses (and, consequently, someone ended up making “The Matrix”).  Others argue that there IS a reality out there, but we’re not able to perceive it accurately because we must utilize our senses, which results in bias and imperfections.  Others in turn argue the possibility of many different and concurrently existing realities, resulting in innumerable possibilities of experiences.  And finally, some contend that none of this matters anyway.


For today’s topic, we’re going to assume that there is in fact a reality, and that you have access to it.  What we also must assume then, is that this reality exists regardless of your perception of it.  A chair will still be present even if you are not actively looking at or thinking about the chair.  This assumption becomes critical, because it will explain why MEASURING your reality has no impact on the fact of your reality.

Except this guy can actually get away with it

What am I talking about?  I’m talking about the incessant need of many trainees to know their “stats”.  Bodyfat percentage, 1 rep maxes in a variety of lifts, WILKS coefficient, the “golden ratio”, etc etc, all these things are entirely inconsequential to what IS.  Regardless of what these numbers end up being, they have zero impact on how big and strong you are, as THAT information is the same irrespective of being measured.


Let’s say a trainee looks at themselves in the mirror one day and decides they like how they look.  They think they have a good amount of definition and size, and are proud of their accomplishments.  Now, this same trainee goes and gets their bodyfat percentage measured, and it comes in a whopping 25%.  Did anything change because of the measurement?  No, the trainee still looks exactly the same as they did before, the only difference is that now they have some sort of data point for some sort of information.


Yet, trainees go CRAZY over this sort of stuff.  Everyday there are thousands of kids begging the internet to guess their bodyfat percentage based off of a few poorly taken photos (don’t forget the super aggressive overhead lighting to really create an illusion of leaness).  Why?  The number doesn’t change reality: you still end up looking exactly the same before you got the measurement.  Additionally, trusting amateurs to guess your bodyfat percentage is an exercise in madness, as these folks have zero credentials or experience, and love to quote numbers in the safe range like “12-15%”.  What does that even mean?!

Image result for Forrest Gump
Saying you have in IQ in the 80-120 range can mean wildly different things


The same is true for 1 rep maxes.  Finding out your 1 rep max in no way alters how strong you are, and in most cases, due to how stressful the maxing process is, it actually has the opposite result.  Prior to establishing your 1 rep max, you had the strength already available to move whatever weight it was that you end up moving for your 1 rep max: all that has happened is that you have demonstrated this strength.  Unless you are in a competition, what would be the value of this?  To know?  So you can tell people how much you lift?  Here’s another fun part about reality: you don’t get any bigger or leaner by knowing how much you can lift for 1 rep, nor will you appear any bigger or leaner by relaying this information to someone.  Once again, it is merely a data point, and of no impact to reality.


Our senses may be imperfect, but they are the only tools available to us to experience reality in whatever form it takes.  However you look, that is how you look, regardless of what the scale or calipers say.  However strong you are, that is how strong you are, regardless of whatever you lifted in order to prove it.  If you keep training hard and eating well, you will alter how others perceive you because you will alter YOURSELF, and in doing so none of the data points will matter. 


Or, of course, there is always nihilism.