Monday, October 20, 2014

THINGS I AM GETTING TIRED OF

I am a patient man, but I still manage to grow weary of the same trends when bombarded with them often enough.  Below is a listing of things that I have had just about enough of in my life.



-Strength gurus who are weak

-Hypertrophy gurus who are small

-Apologists for the above two that constantly point out that just because someone is small and weak doesn’t mean they don’t know how to get big and strong.  I have only ever seen other small and weak people make this claim, and usually it’s because they’re defending their own right to give out training advice when they have no idea what they’re talking about.  Knowledge is dandy, experience is king.

-High school/college kids who “don’t have time” to eat, cook, workout or read.  I genuinely find that these same people manage to sleep past 0500 everyday and have lots of free time on weekends/evenings to party, watch TV, text their friends, post stupid memes on facebook, and in general waste very precious time.  You have lots of time to get crap done if you only sleep 5-6 hours a night.


Comically enough, most of these guys are still sporting more muscular development than many of the people making these claims

-People who call themselves “powerlifters” or say that they are “powerlifting” and have never actually competed in powerlifting.

-The same people who use the false analogy that, since you would call a guy that plays pick up basketball games a “basketball player”, it’s reasonable to call a guy who trains to be stronger in the big 3 a “powerlifter”.  This is a stupid argument, because at least the guy playing pick up games is competing with other players, thus meeting the intent of playing the game.  A guy just training in the gym not actually competing, even in a friendly way, is simply training.  If a guy went to the court 3 hours a day and only shot free throws, he wouldn’t be called a basketball player, he would just be a guy who shoots free throws.  I trained boxing for years, never had a fight, and in turn never called myself a boxer.

-The members of the “IIFYM” crowd that seems completely unaware of things like micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber and other potential nutritional considerations.

-People that go weeks without eating a vegetable.

-People that think corn, beans and potatoes count as vegatables.


Pro Tip: If you enjoy eating them, they probably aren't vegetables

-People who think that just because they don’t like something is license to not do it.

-That annoying feeling my shoulder has been making for the past few weeks like it’s going to fall off.  It should know by now that pain is just going to piss me off, it won’t make me stop abusing it.  It either needs to break or get with the ****ing program.

-People that just plain don’t get it.

-Kids who can’t deadlift 400lbs advising each other on the best pre-workout supplements to take.

-Those same kids wondering why they always feel like they’re going to crap themselves while they’re lifting.

-People that feel the need to psyche themselves up in a commercial gym.  It’s a training session, not a competition, you’re just making yourself weaker, and meanwhile, everyone around you thinks you’re an asshole.  It’s not hardcore.


If you need this to hit a gym lift, something has gone wrong

-That our culture has grown so passive aggressive and socially retarded that every day there is a new thread on reddit asking about gym etiquette and how to work in with someone while they are lifting.  I see it in reality as well.  Whenever I end up in a commercial gym, if I ask to work in with someone, one of two things tends to happen.  They either panic and just flee from the equipment entirely, or they look at me confused and give me an update on how many sets they have left.  Every once in a while though, someone gets it.

-Internet lifting “culture”.  Holy shit, if I see another stupid training meme or someone writing “skwats” I may blow out another blood vessel in my eye.  In general, “irony” is employed by the unsuccessful as an attempt to mask their failures with humor.  I remember back when people talked like adults, now you’re lucky to see a discussion on training with the third response isn’t something like “Brodin skwats OVER 9000 epic bacon zombie Nazis SNAP CITY”.

-How we, as a society, have decided to prize ignorance over intelligence.  In turn, those who put effort into become successful are labeled “try hards”.

-Stronglifts 5x5.  Has anyone actually accomplished anything on this program?

-People critiquing the form of people deadlifting 900lbs.

-The same people that ask rhetorically “do the rules no longer apply just because you can lift a lot of weight?”  The answer is yes.  The path to success defines the rules to achieve it, not the other way around.  If someone else ISN’T doing what you are doing and they are succeeding, it means YOU are wrong, not them.

-Arguments on the internet.  There will never be any resolution, no side will ever agree with the other, and it always boils down to 2 people picking apart single sentences and constructing dumb ad hominem responses.  Generally, as soon as someone lets me know they disagree with me online, I let them.  I know that I know I’m right, and they know that they know they’re right.

-Skinny kids who don’t realize that just because an argument is illogical doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.

-Internet squat depth judges.

-Whiz kids on the internet that get bent out of shape because someone doesn’t know what some obscure exercise is.  Clint Darden once said on youtube that he had no idea what a Romanian deadlift was, and then went on to deadlift 821lbs.  It really doesn’t matter if some guy you’re talking to has never heard of a Spoto Press or Kroc rows or the Bent Press, and truth be told, if they achieved success and NEVER heard of these exercises, maybe it goes to show how valuable they aren’t?  Quit flexing your big brain for a second.

-People that think wishing is a successful method of obtaining results.  Quit wishing your gym had a reverse hyper and just go out and get one.

-People that say they would do ANYTHING to train at the elitefts compound/Westside Barbell/Boss Barbell, etc and then don’t actually quit their job, move across country, live in their cars and panhandle.  Let’s not redefine what “anything” means here folks.

-Those who only have academic proof of the success of their methods.

-The whole notion of “good for you” and “bad for you”.  Nothing is any one of these things, as “for you” has yet to be defined.  If the presumption is always longevity at the expense of everything else, then sure, squatting is not good for you, and may even be bad for you.  However, if any of your goals involve being bigger, stronger, better, faster, more able, etc, then you may end up having to do some things that are “bad for you”, because they are now “good for you”.


We miss you George

-How everytime I try out a slingshot/metal catapult, it totally sucks.  I’m still sticking with reverse bands.

-That my 8 foot long arms, though awesome for deadlfiting, have made it so that I have enough time to think about all of my other poor life decisions when I am locking out a bench press.

-The amount of vitriol people employ to defend their means of training.  You don’t like high bar squats?  Don’t do it.  Don’t like low bar?  Don’t do it.  You’re no one’s savior, you don’t have to convince anyone else about the one true path.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

EVERYTHING WORKS



“Everything works, nothing works forever”, an often quoted statement by Louie Simmons, who coincidentally, if you listen to the internet these days, is apparently the dumbest, evilest, most out of touch, cheating, lying, etc etc who ever made men unfathomably strong for multiple decades.  Feelings aside, this quote holds an incredible amount of truth, and tends to be overlooked by most trainees due to an inherent desire to NEED for it to be wrong.  The first half especially is so volatile of a proposition that the mere suggestion of it is enough to get some folks shouted out of conversation, thrown out of a group, run out of town on a rail, excommunicated, tarred, feathered, skinned alive, boiled in oil, and possibly even crucified.


"He DARED to claim that he increased his squatting by only training it ONCE a week!"

Everything DOES work.  The more I train, the more I learn that I can’t find a WRONG way to train.  Any method I use results in progress, to include no method, training by sheer chaos and feel.  The method becomes far less valuable than the effort and intensity that is applied to it, for the body does not understand math, percentages, frequency, or programming, it simply knows that demands placed upon it and a need to adapt.  Those that do not push themselves hard enough to force adaptation will not receive it, regardless of who wrote their program and how awesome it is, whereas those that tax their bodies will see the results they desire, even if their programming is nonsensical, dangerous, unproven and wrong.  You can map out many variables in a program, but without the human aspect, it is worthless.

So why is it that the topic of training is so heatedly debated?  Why the crusade to ensure that no one trains “wrong” and that the right way prevails?  Because we have this inherent psychological NEED to form tribes and in groups, and in turn a biological imperative to ensure that WE are part of the in group to further our own survival.  As such, we need to ensure that we create outcasts and heretics to cast out and point to with spite as examples of all that is wrong and evil in our world.  We NEED war between training groups, conflict on the training table and arguments every day so that we can protect and pacify our fragile ego and be assured that we chose correctly, while we pity and condescend those “lesser” beings.

This is why forums are ultimately a poor avenue for intelligent discussion on training, there is simply minimal potential for any dissenting viewpoints.  In their infancy, forums will be a melting pot of various perspectives, shared experiences, and evidence both scientific and anecdotal.  Within short order, this will vanish, as the “one true path” will begin to become adopted by the majority of the forum, usually influenced by whichever group is the loudest in support of their faith.  Once this is established, there is no hope for alternative perspectives, there is simply a right way and a wrong way to train.  There may be a token forum member or two on the outskirts that presents a differing perspective, but they are either shouted down, mocked, or in many cases even banned from the forum under the accusation of trolling and posting just to incite conflict.  Dear me, conflict, in a discussion?  That simply won’t do.


If you view someone else succeeding at something as a personal attack, your development has been stunted

Witnessing the cognitive dissonance unfold is entertaining for the sadist at home, but also reveals just to what insane extent we perform psychological gymnastics in the hope of justifying the decisions we’ve made on the “right” and “wrong” way to train.  How often do we witness a junior trainee questioning the progress that their peers have made on “bro splits” while they have dutifully and faithfully followed the words of Rippetoe or Mehdi and have achieved nothing?  Or what of the very advanced trainee, who breaks all the rules, trains the “wrong” way, and makes unfathomable progress?  Or what of the accomplished bodybuilder, that acquired a massive physique by foolishly using abbreviated range of motion and cheating with bad form?  The thought process of those asking the questions is never “why is it that everything I know is incorrect”, but instead “why don’t these accomplished people know that there is a better way to train?”


Just imagine how much this guy could deadlift if he KNEW that touch and go deadlifts don't work

The same tricks are always employed to explain away these challenging affronts to our beliefs.  Clearly, these people cheated with steroids, or superior genetics, or they spent years training the right way and can only NOW get away with training the wrong way, or they secretly train the right way when no one is looking, and only train the wrong way on video, or any other insane and paranoid response you can come up with.  We refuse to acknowledge the common variables that the successful all share: effort and time.  We always assume that these are a given with any training program, and that it is the manipulation of other variables that affect the outcome, but in reality we find many simply spin their wheels on “superior routines” while the successful bust their ass with whatever approach they use.

We come up with terms to dismiss those whose success is an affront to our very existence.  Remember “HIT Jedis”?  What did they do to earn this name?  Why, they had the audacity to believe in a “science” that was totally unproven, silly, unreasonable and not at all aligned with what everyone else did.  Know what else was also upsetting about these folks?  Their training worked.  They took 2 weeks off in between muscle groups, worked out with machines, trained WELL past failure EVERY time they lifted, and still made progress.  How upsetting!  And what of the new “broscience” crowd?  These imbeciles who talk about eating 6 times a day to stoke the metabolic flames, and how squatting increases natural testosterone, and who split their workouts by muscle groups, not movements like they’re supposed to.  How incredibly frustrating that, despite not knowing “real” science and training based purely on myths and folklore, they still manage to make gains that in many cases trump those who are “in the know”.


This is the kind of body that can only be built by training wrong, getting high, and being certifiably insane

Here is a list of every program I have ever run that was successful (in no particular order): Pavel’s 3-5, Westside, 5/3/1, 20 Rep Squats, Dogg Crapp.  I would include a list of unsuccessful ones, but I have none.  In point of fact, the “Westside” program that I ran was terribly put together.  I had the barest of understanding on the principles, did not even know what powerlifting gear was, and trained just like a geared lifter should while training raw.  I actually made some of the best progress in my life on that program, going from a 400lb deadlift to 540lbs, squatting 420lbs and benching 365lbs touch and go, all without even a belt while putting on 25lbs of bodyweight, all within a 9 month span.  I made this sort of progress because, in my mind, I was doing “Westside”, and since I KNEW that Westside was the best program in the world and I was on it, I KNEW that I was going to make incredible progress.  Percentages meant nothing, it was the effort and faith I had in my programming.

On the topic of faith, allowing me to present yet another radical idea: what if what made a program beginner, intermediate or advance had nothing to do with programming and everything to do with popularity?  What, ultimately, is it that a beginner REALLY lacks when it comes to training: an inability to put numbers into a spreadsheet, or the type of experience that allows them to have confidence that their plan will work?  Without faith in a program, no matter how well put together, one cannot succeed with it, and as such, beginners need the programs that have the MOST constant reinforcement available to them.  The more people following the program, the better the program is for the beginner, regardless of the actual methodology being employed.  In turn, less popular programs are deemed only suitable for intermediate to advanced athletes, for a beginner could not possibly benefit from them due to their lack of faith and confidence in their approach.


Nevermind the fact that this is what success looks like.  Faith is a funny thing, and usually evidence just gets in the way.

I bring this up because many of the criticisms for employing a more “advanced” program as a beginner seem nonsensical to me.  Beginners are cautioned to not employ 5/3/1 compared to Starting Strength, for the latter allows you to progress everytime you train, whereas the former only has monthly progression.  However, did we not prior to this establish the reality that a beginner, by definition of BEING a beginner, is one who is ABLE to progress everytime they train regardless?  So why would it not be the case that this same beginner, using 5/3/1, would instead make monumental jumps each time they hit the lift in a weekly cycle?  This trainee could start a week of Starting Strength squatting 135 for 5 and end with 145 for 5, or they could start the cycle of 5/3/1 squatting 135 for 5 and then the next week squatting 145 again for 5, for this is that same beginner who is primed for rapid progression.  However, by the sheer volume of beginners shouting down this trainee for daring to deviate from the one truth path of abbreviated linear progression, there is no way for this trainee to possibly benefit from the amount of faith needed to continue progression.

This is why “advanced techniques” are even such a thing: an advanced trainee simply doesn’t care what other people think, they do what works.  The technique or programming that they are employing in no way takes advantage of some sort of super genetic mutation or can only be mastered by those who have snatched the pebble from their master’s hand.  Instead, these techniques have always been out there, ready and available for any and all to employ, but it is only those who have enough faith in themselves to be able to progress into uncharted or in many cases exiled territory that can effectively make use of them.  When one needs to place their faith in the success of others, they are limited only to what has already been done and publicized.  When one places their faith in themselves, they are free to progress with anything.

I challenge you, the reader, to find a way to train unsuccessfully.  Do everything wrong, make nonsensical choices, put yourself in danger.  Pour every ounce of effort and energy you can into this.  I am willing to bet that you will find far more successful plans with this approach than failed ones.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

YOUR WARM UP IS MY WORKOUT

No, I didn’t screw up the title to the article, this is in fact the point I am addressing.  There is a current trend in fitness that, after many years of observing it, I STILL can’t wrap my brain around it.  The warm up, the time honored tradition of getting ready to train, has continued to grow longer and longer, getting more obscure and involved day after day, year after year, becoming some sort of uncontrollable monster.  It seems like every week someone introduces yet another gimmicky attention grabber to throw into a warm up, designed to “wake up sleeping muscles” and full activated all 4 heads of the tricep with dynamic inertia and other such nonsense.


After 5-6 sets of this, I should finally be ready to do some calf raises

Folks, the purpose of a warm up is in the name: to get warm.  It hinges on the principles that cold muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons are at more risk of injury compared to warm ones.  How long does it take to get warm?  As someone that spent 5 winters in a place where it got to -60 with windchill and trained in a poorly insulated garage with a few heat lamps, I’ll tell you that the answer is a few minutes, tops.  Hell, by the end of my workout, even at -20, I still had taken off my shirt because I was overheating.  If you’re in a climate controlled gym or in the middle of summer in some “hardcore” facility with no AC or windows, it’s going to happen even faster.  The idea of spending 20 minutes warming up is just insanity.

We have been hoodwinked and bamboozled by an industry that wants to sell you something.  We have been told that we HAVE to work on mobility, that we NEED to foam roll, that if we don’t include a “proper” warm up, we will be doomed to injury and inadequacy.  These are the same people peddling pre-workouts and OTC testosterone boosters.  They created a market, and then they created a product to sell, and we keep buying it because we refuse to believe that success can really be as simple as just hard work, pain, suffering and sacrifice.  And since we are in turn a society that refuses to believe it is hard work that creates results, we now pride ourselves in just how extensive, brutal and stupid our warm ups are, because it’s the only thing we can brag about.  “Your workout is my warm up”, as was never said by a strong person.


This person brags about warm ups.  Strong people are just strong.

Do you think that the great athletes and warriors of history foam rolled?  Do you think vikings performed mobility drills before battle?  Or ever?  Strong people got strong by doing things that strong people do.  I have seen a lot of weak and broken people performing mobility drills and rehab, whereas I have seen lots of strong people crushing heavy weights and smashing records.  If you want to get mobile, do you think the best way is in isolation, alone on your carpet watching re-runs of the Simpsons, or do you think maybe you should just go be mobile?  Play some sports, go hiking, get in a fight, do something where you force your body to move.

“But wait, some strong people have extensive warm ups” you cry out.  Here we discover those that are attempting to falsely emulate success.  They observe an athlete at high levels of strength that needs to foam roll, perform mobility work, and engage in an extensive process before they can actually start training.  We need to understand that this athlete warms up this way out of necessity, not desire.  It is inevitable that, as we get stronger, we get broken.  This is not a safe journey, and those that pursue it will encounter various injuries and dysfunctions that will hinder daily functions.  When this happens, it becomes necessary for this athlete to get themselves in a somewhat functional state before they can train, ironing out the kinks in their body and breaking up scar tissue so that they can actually move from A to B.


After something like this, you may need to spend a little more time warming up

For those of you emulating these warm ups, I must ask, how did YOU get so broken?  Steve Pulcinella got broken by deadlifting over 700lbs as a teenager and competing in the World’s Strongest Man, along with 30 years of being a strength athlete.  Dave Tate got broken through decades of geared powerlifting where he tore practically every muscle on his body off the bone.  Do you expect me to believe that “sitting all day” is going to have the same destructive impact on your body that you need to follow their warm ups?  Or those 3 seasons of soccer in high school really tore up your knees?  Why do so many people know what an anterior pelvic tilt is, let alone “know” that they have one and need to fix it through hours of stretching, massage, colon cleansing, meditation and prayer?

Before we decide that we need to spend 20 minutes warming up, why don’t we first work up to being strong enough to need that warm up?  Until then, how about we just stick with the tried and true light sets of the movement we are training, ramping up to a working weight?  Or 5 minutes on the treadmill?  Wait until something is broken before you try to fix it.