For my readers out there, if you would prefer that I transcribe this so that you don't have to watch the video, let me know in the comments section and I will see what I can do.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Saturday, May 14, 2016
One of my pet peeves is the phrase “easier said than done”, mainly because it’s horrifically obvious to the point of uselessness. In life, the majority of all things are easier said than done. Speaking, once mastered, becomes a trivial task (as evidence by how effortlessly many people spew nonsense nonstop), whereas action, in most cases, tends to require more effort. This is why, whenever a training recommendation is offered and the response is “easier said than done”, it blows my mind. Just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, and in fact, in most cases, it is the OPPOSITE that is true.
That said, sometimes things come easy to simple people
I have spoken many times to the reality of just how simple it is to get bigger and stronger. The “dumb jock” stereotype exists because it did not require great brainpower for one to become bigger and stronger. What gets missed in the translation is that, what was lacking in brainpower was compensated for with skull splitting intensity and effort. When you lack intelligence, you have to compensate with brutality. This is how the animal kingdom works, and it’s why man had to be smart; because he couldn’t hope to match the sheer force of will of nature.
However, because we try to minimize language to make our understanding easier, we have falsely equated the simplicity of an action to the ease of it. A trainee asks what the secret is to getting bigger and stronger, they are told to eat well and lift hard, and they walk away unsatisfied; surely it can’t be that easy. But it’s NOT easy; it is merely simple. In reality, it’s going to be incredibly hard to accomplish, with many moments of agony and misery resulting in one questioning why they ever wanted to pursue this goal in the first place, yet the entire time, the solution will be amazingly simple. Simple, yes, but not easy.
It's simple; just eat the whole thing
But the unsatisfied trainee will not accept simplicity as an answer; if it was that easy, everyone would be big and strong, right? Therefore, the solution must be more complex, because that will mean that we have found the hard way to do it, no? And thus begins the search for magic bullet solutions; mysterious supplements, exotic programs with crazy rep and set schemes, Russian training manuals, secrets passed down from locker room to locker room, the perfect steroid cycle, etc etc. To appease our need for the path to be difficult, the trainee attempts to replace hard work with complexity, equating both to be the same.
And in reality, the complexity is taking the easy way out. One can argue and bemoan ad infinitum the amount of “effort” they have put into getting bigger and stronger in terms of how much research they have performed in their quest to “find the secrets”…but that’s easy. Yeah, sure, it sucks that you sat at your computer chair for hours scouring torrented training books, watching every youtube channel, arguing with like-minded deviants on social media, etc etc…but how is that hard? That’s the life of a World of Warcraft champion, not an Olympian. For every hour you spent in an air conditioned house sitting in an ergonomically designed comfort lounger munching on Cheetos, someone was stupidly sweating in agony while a weight attempted to crush their spine out their rectum. While you “toiled”, someone else gave themselves rhabdomyolysis from 1 too many squats. While you were too busy being complicated and easy, someone else was being simple and hard.
Currently in the process of getting jacked
It’s so catchy now to say “just because someone is a great lifter doesn’t mean they’re a great coach”, but instead of being a rallying cry for the weak to use to explain why their advice is valuable even though they are unsuccessful, let’s really look at what this is getting at. How can someone be a great lifter and a bad coach? It’s because you don’t NEED to be smart to be big and strong. A great coach NEEDS to be smart, because they need to be able to convey what they know to someone else, but a great athlete simply needs to be able to push and grind further and harder than anyone else. A great athlete has to be able to endure the suck more than anyone else. They have to be able to not quit, work hard, and shut up. In short, it’s very simple, and incredibly difficult, and that is why there are so few great athletes.
Getting bigger and stronger is easier said than done; now go do it.
As an update for my readers, slightly less than 6 months post-op I have been given the clear to train by my physical therapist. I am still told to go light and watch for pain, but nothing is restricted. I was told to start out at 60-70% of my previous weights, but I imagine my doctor didn't realize I was lifting over 600lbs, so I am going slightly lighter. Still technically 6 months out from competing again, but we will see how that goes.
Already getting my squat on.
And, now that I am healed enough, here is the injury as it initially happened
Already getting my squat on.
And, now that I am healed enough, here is the injury as it initially happened
Saturday, May 7, 2016
I believe I can say, without refute, that Rocky IV was one of the greatest historical documentaries of all time regarding the Cold War conflict. However, today let us discuss its prequel, Rocky III, wherein we observed the case of Clubber Lang. As is typical of my style, my intent today is to vilify the hero and make a hero of the villain.
He doesn't make it easy
For my readers who are either too young to remember Rocky III or not awesome enough to have watched it, the movie takes place after Rocky has taken the heavyweight title and, with it, the resounding fame, fortune and love. His face is on pinball machines, lunchboxes, and postage stamps, he is in advertisements, he poses for autographs, and in general is the center of much praise. We observe that Rocky is receiving the reward for his hard work.
But where, during this time, is Clubber Lang? In a dungeon of a gym, with rusted and torn up equipment, hammering away on himself and anyone in his path. He toils relentlessly, singularly focused on one goal; to beat Rocky Balboa. He lives it, breathes it, eats it, sleeps it. He pushes himself to the point of breaking, because he knows that’s what it’s going to take to win.
Wait...who is the star of this movie again?
Ask yourself this though, dear reader; during this training, do we ever see Clubber Lang bragging to anyone about his accomplishments? Is there a scene where, after completing 30 pull ups off of some rebar, Mr. Lang takes a photo of himself to share to the world? Do we see him calling his friends and family to tell them what an awesome training session he had? Are there high fives all around with his crew for every single accomplishment he achieves?
And when the time comes, in their initial match-up, who fares better, Rocky or Clubber? Why? Because Rocky already GOT his reward. He was absolved of the onus to work any harder, because he already had all the praise and glory that came with his work. Clubber Lang, on the other hand, had yet to receive his reward, so he went out and took it. And he did so violently, with murderous intent and unbridled furiousity (which apparently isn’t a word, but I’m using it). As Jack Dempsey spoke of, he went out there with “bad intentions”.
And Jack might know something about bad intentions
THIS is the lesson young trainees NEED to understand; you only get your reward once. With the social media explosion we have today, EVERYONE wants their reward, and they want it now. For every insignificant accomplishment everyone “achieves”, they have to share it with the world and accumulate likes and thumbs up and retweets and whatever other insanity is perpetuated online. However, this doesn’t boost your self-esteem; it dilutes the quality OF your accomplishments. When you start getting praise for small things, there is zero need for you to accomplish anything greater.
Clubber Lang refused to seek out validation for his training because that defeated the point. He didn’t want to be the baddest man in the gym; he wanted to be the baddest man in the world. He wanted to put everything on the line, and make it so that the only time any of his effort was worth it was when he took the heavyweight title. Can you fathom the pressure? Can you imagine training hours on end, day after day, months at a stretch, losing friends and family, bleeding in training, going insane from isolation…and then losing? For all of that to be worth NOTHING? When we put the reward for our actions at the end of the journey instead of along the way, we CREATE that pressure, and in doing so provide the fuel necessary to achieve something significant.
It's amazing what you can do under the right pressure
Rocky already GOT his reward. The public swooned over every action that he took. The man literally stopped in the middle of training to take a photo with the adoring public that was spectating his training. Are those the actions of a man looking to win? Are those the actions of a desperate man, whose only source of happiness comes from victory, or is it instead the act of one who is complacent, fat, slovenly, and happy?
If you already GOT your reward, you don’t deserve another one. That’s just plain greedy. You have to decide when you want to get your reward. If you’re posting every meal, every set, every workout, every PR, etc etc, then that’s when you get your reward. If you slave away by yourself, putting in the work, keeping your nose to the grindstone, refusing to share with the world, etc, then when the time comes to perform you get to put that ALL on the line. I assure you, the one who hasn’t gotten their reward yet is going to fight much harder than then one who has.
Sometimes it's worth holding out for a better reward
And if I may, let us address the insanity of competitors sharing their success in training online. What manner of insanity IS this? In war, would you share with your enemy your strategy? Your troop numbers? Supply info? ANY intel? Then why would you share this with your competition? Why would you want them to know exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are? It used to be, back in the day, athletes would try to HIDE their info from the opposition as best they could. Hell, people got in trouble in the NFL for filming the practice of another team so that their team could learn from it and get better. Now we have competitors just GIVING it away. What is this madness? All so that you can get some likes on facebook?
If given the choice, I’d rather knock out Rocky than have 13 people like a video of me doing chin-ups on facebook…but maybe that’s just me.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
-Go to r/fitness on reddit, read only those comments that are downvoted to the point of being hidden, and you might learn something.
-I did daily training for a month; a max set of dips, increasing rep total of NG chins, and 100 pull aparts. Accumulated a lot of volume, gained weight, got stronger, but my joints started feeling really beat up. Think the answer is to keep volume stagnant or make very small increases. Still, a good approach to break out on occasion.
-I tend to have great training sessions while I am sick. I imagine this is because I take a bunch of pseudoephedrine, which is supposedly a PED.
-I miss forums. Stupidity wasn’t tolerated. Now, everyone uses social media, and there I feel like stupidity is the norm. In fact, I feel like it is a competition to see who can come up with the most ignorant, ugly and stupid thing to say. However, I DON”T miss the line by line dissection of posts that occurred on forums.
-RIP Tommy Kono.
No funny caption; we lost a great man.
-Elitefts (the company) has grown too big, and the customer service sucks. However, the staff is still very awesome, and Dave seems like a great guy who really wants to give back.
-Remember when creatine was a big deal? So much debate. Nowadays, people are mainlining pre-workouts without a second thought.
-Quit teaching beginners form; teach them principles of successful lifting. If a trainee can brace and hinge, they can deadlift.
-I notice that lots of big and strong folks suggest drinking a gallon of water a day. It is typically small and weak people who refute this.
-I saw a trainee mention that form was their #1 priority when lifting. Really? It isn’t progress? Or results?
I'm just saying maybe it's ok to cheat a little
-One of the best nutritional tricks I have stumbled across for gaining weight is greek yogurt mixed with protein powder. Lotta good stuff in there.
-“Abs on a skinny guy don’t count”. Sure, and neither does a 400lb squat on a fat guy.
-Anyone concerned about lifting ratios is looking for an excuse to be weak.
-I feel like the pendulum is once again swinging toward “all compounds, no isolations”. My, that was fast.
-Lifting weights gets you bigger and stronger. Everyone knows this EXCEPT the lifting nerds, who believe it does one or the other, but never both.
I mean, I guess sometimes it does neither
-My physical therapist put me on a “return to running” program, which reminded me of the joke about asking the doctor “will I be able to play the piano?”
-On the above, I can now run 4 miles in 30 minutes, which isn’t fast, but is still ridiculous to me.
-My wife told me that there are people in the running community that run “virtual races”. You buy your own medal, then go run “a race” on your own and give yourself the medal. I am honestly shocked this hasn’t caught on in the strength training community, what will all the self-appointed powerlifters and youtube heroes and trophy hunters.
-Long rest times do not equal strength. Long rest times equal crappy conditioning.
-On the above, the reason why short rest times are associated with hypertrophy is because you can cram more volume into an equal amount of time.
Probably not doing a whole lot of supersets
-To the people that get upset when PED using athletes don’t admit they use; what was the last felony you confessed to? How about a misdemeanor? Piracy even?
-No one gives unsolicited form critiques out of concern for the safety of others; it’s all about feeling superior.
-Counter point to the above: no one posts a form check video where they list how much weight is lifted with the hope that someone actually checks their form.
-I don’t understand people who post PR videos asking if they “count”. What does the “P” in “PR” stand for?
-Right now, at this very instant, someone is weighting their food instead of eating it. They are weighing it on a tiny scale, taking away little bits of the food until its weight is agreeable with some sort of system. That sounds like something Kafka would write.
This just screams "insanity"
-One of the biggest dietary pitfalls I observe is people believing that they need to eat until full. I do that when I want to GAIN weight. If I want to lose or maintain weight, I walk away from meals a little hungry. You gotta learn how to comfortably be miserable if you want to surpass everyone else.
-Happiness is a blessing I would wish on my enemy, in hopes that it keeps him from growing stronger.
-I feel no need to argue about training. If someone disagrees with me, and they are weaker than me and haven’t coached anyone to be stronger than me, I ignore them. If they are stronger than me or a successful coach, I shut up and listen.
-This is a rapid influx of lifters with decent numbers on the big 3 who don’t look like they lift weights. Whatever could be the cause?
-No strong person has ever seriously used the phrase “snap city”.
Unless they were screaming it at the camera to mock the whole idea
-Raw powerlifting is getting silly. They’re making knee sleeves now that supposedly add 20-40lbs to your squat. Keep in mind, raw lifters demanded the switch to sleeves since wraps weren’t considered “raw enough”. So I’m not allowed to wear compression underwear, but I can wear a woman’s size XS knee sleeve that required a team of handlers to put on? It’s the history of powerlifting repeating itself all over again.
-People who demand more restrictive rules do so because they lack the ability to capitalize on advantages. Guys with zero ability to get leg drive want strict presses only. People with no pain tolerance hate weight cuts. It’s never about making competition more “pure”; it’s about making rules THEY can win with.
-People decry weight cutting because of the “unrealistic expectations” it creats among “normal people”. Really? Does your average 165er have better odds of squatting 600lbs vs 700 because one was set by someone closer to their “real weight”? These are world class numbers regardless. If in doubt, just check 1-2 weight classes below your walk around weight to get an idea of what the top guys in your weight class can do.
-I appreciate the lack of records in strongman, as it means people are more focused on winning instead of setting records on Instagram. Especially when you consider the reality that, in powerlifting, due to the millions of subdivisions, EVERYONE is a world record holder.
-When I was seriously considering swapping my post workout pop tart with kids breakfast cereal “for my health”, I realized I had deviated from my principles.