Sunday, July 15, 2018

GET UNCOMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE




I understand that, with my normal approach to blogging being that I write everything all in one shot and never go back to proofread it that my regular readers most likely believe that I made a typo in the topic title, but let me assure you I DO in fact mean “get uncomfortable being uncomfortable.”  And haven’t I said explicitly in other topics exactly the opposite: to get comfortable being uncomfortable?  Yes, this is true, but this needs to be addressed.  “Get comfortable being uncomfortable” is a call to people to step out of their comfort zones and go do something that makes them uncomfortable, and to keep doing it to the point that it becomes your norm.  It asks you to exist in discomfort so much that you are comfortable with it.  However, I ask you to get UNCOMFORTABLE being uncomfortable, for I am telling you that you need to keep pushing the envelope to the point that you CAN’T get comfortable.

Image result for navy seal flutter kicks water
Reminder: Flutter kicks suck BEFORE you try to do them on the surf

That’s dizzying isn’t it?  Here is what it boils down to.  Discomfort is alien to most people, as humans instinctively seek comfort whenever possible.  When it is cold, we seek warmth, and when we are hungry, we seek food.  However, we seek enough to create equilibrium and homeostasis.  We don’t sit on a stove to get warm from the winter, but seek gradual heat.  We don’t eat to the point of vomiting, but eat until satiated.  The course correction we seek is moderate to battle extremes. 

Once we introduce the concept of seeking discomfort, we find it takes little to exceed the happy medium of comfort.  Setting the heat in the house to 70 in the winter is comfortable, 80 becomes uncomfortable.  The same becomes true of exercise.  Going on a walk is comfortable, making it a jog is uncomfortable, making it a run more uncomfortable, making it a sprint VERY uncomfortable.  The issue here becomes that, once people start to practice being uncomfortable, they become “comfortable at being uncomfortable” because they simply never take the discomfort to the next necessary step.  They go from walking to jogging, experience that discomfort, master it, and then never move on.  Yes, they have become “comfortable being uncomfortable”…but not by much.

Image result for thermostat at 80
IS THIS WHAT DANTE WROTE ABOUT?!

I state again that one should get UNCOMFORTABLE being uncomfortable.  They should be seeking the next necessary step in discomfort, finding no comfort in BEING comfortable, as it is the path to complacency, which is the path to stagnation, which is the path to regression, which is the path to weakness.  One needs to continue to push themselves to the point that they never get to experience the comfort that comes with adaptation, as this is simply an indication that they have rested instead of pursued something greater.  This is the “Will to Power” compelling one to continually find greater and greater discomfort to encounter, experience, and overcome on the way to the next bit of discomfort.

And why should one BE uncomfortable?  Because it is discomfort that promotes growth!  It promotes action!  When one sits on an unlit stove, one remains still.  When the stove is lit, one moves, because one is uncomfortable, and is driven by the human instinct to seek comfort by escaping the discomfort.  Put yourself in these uncomfortable situations and watch what your brain and body do to try to seek comfort.  Unrack the bar, have your training partner take off the j-hooks and agree that you only get them back after 20 reps, and observe your body perform these reps as powerfully as possible in pursuit of eventually discovering comfort again.  Walk your keg 400m away from its home and observe your body carry it back against all odds.  Push the volume and the food to the point of discomfort and observe your body add muscle in forced adaptation in HOPES that this will stem the discomfort.  Push the intensity and reduce the food and watch the body strip away fat in hopes of reducing metabolic demands.  Be uncomfortable and watch action occur!

Image result for squatting on a bosu ball
I am uncomfortable with how often I use this photo

You shouldn’t be comfortable when you are uncomfortable; you should still strive for that feeling of discomfort in your pursuit of progress.  That same uncomfortable feeling you felt the first time should be the sensation you continue to feel, and this means you have to increase the intensity of your activity to match your growing tolerance for discomfort.  Like a junkie getting a fix, you gotta keep upping the dose to overcome your own inherent tolerance.  Your body craves homeostasis, and if push comes to shove it will simply recalibrate itself to accept a new baseline of misery so that it CAN be comfortable being uncomfortable, and that is why it becomes incumbent upon you, the owner of the body, to continue to push well beyond the acceptable levels of discomfort.  Why?  To continue to force the body to move, act and adapt in hopes of doing something to mitigate this discomfort.

Being uncomfortable promotes action, so go get uncomfortable being uncomfortable.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

ON “GARBAGE VOLUME”



Full Disclosure: This was original a response to a t-nation training log/forum that I’ve fleshed out a little bit for the purposes of the blog.


Hey let’s talk garbage volume why not?

Image result for why not zoidberg

I love the internet

I feel like an idea that either doesn’t get enough exposure, isn’t understood, or perhaps isn’t appreciated is the ability to perform UNDER fatigue. I believe this notion resonates with me due to a combat sports background, and you’ll most likely see that with others with similar backgrounds.  It’s also a similar principle in the world of armed combatives, recognizing the difference between firing off a round when you are well rested vs trying to fire when your hands are shaking and you’re gasping for air.  That’s why those folks in the biathlon are nuts.


It is absolutely true that fatiguing yourself in training prevents maximal performance. If you are super/giant setting between sets of heavy work, you will NOT be able to lift as much weight compared to if you did your sets and rested. And resting LONGER is better than resting shorter, for the sake of full recovery.  And it’s also true that, if you want to get better at moving maximal weight for a single rep, you NEED to accumulate a decent amount of time practicing lifts at close to your max weight.

Image result for squatting on a bosu ball
Especially true for highly technical moves

However, one has to ask: are we TRAINING, or are we practicing? This is a clear distinction that MUST be made prior to performing/analyzing training, because it significantly dictates the approach necessary.


If one’s goal is to lift maximal weight for a single rep, it is IMPERATIVE that they practice, and when one practices, they must practice PERFECTLY. This means long rest periods and no-fatigue, so that maximal performance can be achieved and replicated.  If you practice poor form due to fatigue, you will replicate poor form when the time comes to attempt to produce good form under heavy load.

However, if one’s goal is to get stronger (not better), they may engage in TRAINING rather than practice. When one trains, their goal is not perfect practice, but to instead become stronger (or faster, or better conditioning, etc. Basically not better, but improved at attributes), and this means putting oneself in less than ideal situations so that adaptation can occur.  Confusion exists when it relates to lifting, because sometimes a movement that we would normally practice becomes a movement we employ in training, and in turn, the movement is executed differently for the sake of achieving different goals.


In the case of performance under fatigue, one intentionally induces fatigue so that one can, in turn, learn to perform under fatigue and adapt to that stimulus. In combat sports, this is a common practice, with many classes starting off with an exhaustive “warm up” so that students begin training fatigued and work from there. Keeping your hands up is easy when you’re fresh; it’s miserable after 200 push ups, but the student that can keep their hands up THEN can surely keep them up when they are fresh, and then some.

Image result for Rocky IV

Alternatively, you can just not keep your hands up starting at round 1

The same holds true in athletic performance. Improving one’s ability to output strength under fatigue will improve one’s ability to output strength when NOT under fatigue. For some reason, the internet feels otherwise, claiming that it is IMPERATIVE for one to be at maximal ability to perform to obtain maximal gains (ie: pre-workout consumed, ideal time of the day, hearty meal beforehand, properly warmed up, ideal rest periods, etc), to the point that same trainees will simply NOT train if they are unable to create the most ideal training environment, believing that they are “wasting gains.”  However, a very rudimentary understanding of basic physical training reveals otherwise.

Say your max deadlift is 400lbs. Now, say I have you run a half mile and immediately deadlift afterwards. Say you can only pull 350lbs under that state of fatigue. Now what if we keep repeating this until you can eventually deadlift 400lbs under this state of fatigue. Would you reasonably believe that your 1rm on the deadlift did not improve during this time? Or do we understand that, the exhausted athlete that can match the fresh athlete will exceed him when both athletes are equally rested?


So what about garbage volume? In the context of fatigue generation, I think it does exactly what it needs to do: it fatigues the trainee. Throwing in garbage sets of rows, chins, pull aparts, squats, etc, prevents the trainee from getting adequate rest and forces them to train while not fully recovered SUCH THAT, when granted the opportunity to recover, they do better. That it can result in some additional volume accumulation, all the better, but in truth, for me at least, I see it as a chance to train being strong while tired.


Image result for Elevation mask
And you don't even have to look this stupid!


In addition, one must recognize the periodized nature of training has an organic way of letting garbage volume in and out of training.  In the off season, this volume can flourish, and the trainee can add onto it to greater and greater degrees.  Paired with surplus calories, this allows a trainee to grow, get stronger, and accumulate a significant degree of fatigue.  Once a need arises in the trainee to be able to perform at their best, this garbage volume is reduced and eventually eliminated, GIVING the trainee that opportunity for more sessions of perfect practice and reducing the fatigue to the point that recovery can occur and, with it, significant growth.  In my own training, I find more and more ways to get in volume when given the opportunity, to include supet/giant sets and daily training on top of regular training such that, once a competition nears, I can reduce all of this and truly be toward my best when the time comes.





Sunday, July 1, 2018

RATTLING AROUND IN MY HEAD



-Try to reconcile “you can’t outtrain a bad diet” and “there is no overtraining: only undereating.”  Does this mean you can outdiet bad training?  Boy I hope so.

-I observed a comment that now, with the advent and inclusion of tacky shirts, receive gloves, tacky sleeves, etc, the Stone of Steel is no different from a concrete atlas stone.  Talk about progress!

-I seemed to have finally cracked the code on daily training: VERY sub-max work.  I stop well before I strain.  Right now, its dips and chins only, but I’m still getting in daily volume that way.

-I’ve added half an avocado to my daily diet for weight gain.  They work, and they don’t even have to be Dominican! …props if you get that reference.

-I remember when Titan was a powerlifting gear manufacturer.  Was anyone else confused when they “came back” and were making strongman logs?


Image result for titan powerlifting gear
As a DnD nerd, the lack of creativity in choosing mythical beasts for names is upsetting.  I'll be the first to purchase from "Ettercap Enterprises"

-Most people talking about how they have to “eat dirty to get in enough calories” need to get real.  It is fine to be lazy and to enjoy fast food, but embrace it.  You are the “bicep curls for prehab” of the nutrition world.

-Getting a little further into my 30s, I observe that I am in more constant pain, but otherwise, recovery and ability to perform is fine.  I wonder if people have been interpreting “pain free” to mean recovered, when they talk about how much harder it is to recover as you get older.

-I got into MMA, MMA got popular, there were many dumb people, so I left.  I got into powerlifting, powerlifting got popular, there were many dumb people, so I left.  I am observing this with strongman now.  Is it me?  Or, more likely, am I just a dumb early adopter.

-Competing up a weight class makes you strong.  But it can also hurt you.  Which can also make you strong.

-Ever since I heard Kaz say “If you are strong at stones, you will be strong everywhere”, I have cared a whole lot more.

-Why do raw powerlifters care so much about what equipped lifters do, but not the other way around?


Image result for Dave Hoff squat
I'm sorry, did this photo of an athlete competing in a different sport than you do trigger you?

-But I suppose, on the above, I’m also as guilty, because why the hell do I care about powerlifting?

-I wonder if all the people trying to “fix” weight cutting realize that they are just going to get beat by people that were originally in the weight class below them?

-I find that it is primarily people who are out of shape that proclaim that giant sets are ineffective for getting stronger.

-I wrote a blog entry rallying against microloading and MANY readers interpreted it as an attack on 2.5lb plates.  Goes on to reflect the sad state of gyms there days where those plates are rarely seen.

-I’ve stolen the squats from Jon Andersen’s “Deep Water” training program because I can never stick with 1 approach to squats.  10x10 squats with a focus on reduced rest times.  It’s as awful as you expect.

-I used to think I was jealous of people who had to eat all the time to put on weight, until I found myself needing to do that.  It’s awful.  It’s cute for the first day or 2, but then your whole life revolves around cooking, cleaning and eating.  With a family, it’s just not sustainable.  A slow metabolism is a blessing.

-Yeah yeah, I know “science says slow metabolisms aren’t a thing!”  Look, I don’t know what to tell you.

-I plan to flesh this out into a full post one day, but people naturally get drawn to the style of training/athlete that fits their own mentality.  I have found plenty of fellow lunatics out there with a very low-science based approach, like Kroc, Steve Pulcinella, Jon Andersen, Jamie Lewis, etc.  But there are also very detail oriented and intellectual lifters out there, like Mike Tuchscherer, Dave Tate (seriously, read what he writes, LOTS of details, very much against the hardcore meathead approach), Brian Shaw, and whoever else people like to quote at me.  And ALL of these lifters were successful.  I feel like the only real bad move is to try to take an approach that doesn’t suit you and make it work.

-For those that are curious, my Titan 12” log is still holding up after being used twice a week since December.  My elbows, however, aren’t too happy, since I’m too afraid to really drop the damn thing so I lower it down a little too slow on the eccentric from the chest.

-Has anyone else noticed that these days “aesthetics” just means lateral deltoids?

Image result for Synthol shoulders
I feel like this is the bodybuilding equivalent of my bosu ball squat photo, so here you go

-All I have to offer is experience, but isn’t it crazy how many people talk that don’t even have that?  And even crazier the people who listen.

-Most problems can be solved with more volume or a prowler.

-Wonder how long it’ll take Westside to sue Titan for the reverse hyper they released?

-People who allegedly live, breath, eat and die lifting will pirate books from established lifters.  Either you support it or you don’t: don’t try to go halfway here.

-The sheer notion of “injury prevention” is mind blowing to me.  How can you tell if it worked?

-My time spent with the circus dumbbell re-affirmed that I have zero love for weightlifting.  Props to the guys that enjoy it, but it’s so completely against how I operate.

-The fact some people can’t tell the difference between pain and soreness blows my mind.

-Isn’t it funny to think that, in the 40s and 50s, we had a reverse obesity epidemic, where men were so skinny that Charles Atlas had to have ads to save them?  How times change.

Image result for charles atlas ad
These days, this would turn into an ad about anti-bullying with a hotline to call

-Social media has given people the false impression that they actually know how others live.  Claims like “so and so eats pizza EVERY day and is JACKED” or “Mr. Wonderful sets a PR everytime they hit the gym!” get paraded around, because people believe that what is shared is, in effect, the ONLY thing that happens.  They don’t realize how much is NOT shared: all the mundane training days and regular meals and time spent grinding away.  To say nothing of how much is fabricated or manipulated.