Sunday, December 16, 2012


Lets do a fun experiment.

Here is a video of Matt Kroczaleski doing 30 rep chins.  Give it a watch.

Now, read the comments.

(Yes, I realize forcing someone to read youtube comments can be considered cruel and unusual punishment in some states, but stick with me, this is for science)

Look at how many of these comments talk about how Kroc's chins "don't count".  He has violated the rules of the event, and got 3 reds.  Matt was most likely having an off day, as he's usually a very strong performer.

Wanna see this again?  Here is Konstantin Konstantinovs doing 55 pull ups.

If you are having difficulty understanding the comments in the youtube video, it's most likely because they are in Russian.  That, or it is because the language skills of many youtubers have rapidly deteriorated and become indecipherable.  In either case, they are akin to the Kroc video.

The experiment here?  What were your thoughts upon seeing these videos?  Were you in the "don't count" camp?  Were you wondering how these two got so big and strong with bad form?

Or maybe you thought "so this is how an 800lb deadlifter does chins".  Or perhaps "that's what the pull ups of a 900lb deadlifter look like".

This is the difference between the mentality of training and competition, and it is vital that you understand it if you ever hope to succeed in either endeavor.  Many times, the downfall of those who do not compete is that they treat every training session like it is a competition, because this is their only competitive outlet available.  This means that EVERY movement has rules to follow, and if you don't follow these rules and regulations, your lift "doesn't count".  You see this applied to everything from push-ups to pull ups, lunges to crunches, etc to I am terrible with examples.

These rules are always arbitrary  and based around some ill-founded notion of what "good form" looks like.  The focus isn't on what the movement accomplishes, it's just about what the movement looks like.  This is a great a competition.  That is why powerlifting has rules specifically based around how the movement looks, with no concern about what muscles you are recruiting.  If you can get your hips below your knees through some sort of sorcery that completely removes your glutes and hams from the lift, you're going to get your whites.

Why the difference?  Because the competition is the validation of the training.  It is not training in and of itself.  No one shows up to a meet hoping to get a good workout in and get stronger, they are there to display strength.  So why wouldn't you do this in reverse when you train?  Why would you concern yourself with how the movement looks, when you should be concerned instead with what results it produces?  If your chins aren't deadhang but your bench and deadlift keep going up, what does it matter?  If your squats aren't competition legal in training, but your squat goes up and you never get called for depth in a meet, why should you care?  And if physique is your goal, why do you care at ALL about what your lifts look like compared to what they are doing for your body?

The form police are in full force on youtube, and these self important nitwits never have a physique or lifts that are in any way admirable.  They just KNOW that they are right, but have nothing to show for it.  These are the same people that will come up to you in the gym to tell you that you are going to blow out your knees with your squat style before they waddle their way back to the leg abductor machine for an intense pump.  Why would you care about their opinion on anything?

Training is training, and competing is competing.  When you are in the gym, you are there to make yourself better OUTSIDE of the gym.  If you make training the competition, you will not succeed in either endeavor.


  1. Good post.

    I'm guilty of this myself far too often (judging myself too harshly on some reps that is). While form is important, generally its getting through the movement/rep moreso than ensuring perfect form.

    Good blog!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the post/blog. You got the intent too, and I was just as guilty of this mentality too. Most of the things I post about are ideas I had to grow out of, as I'm sure most people either did or need to as well.

    It's all about results. No one cares what you did to get there, only that you got there.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. The problem is that when people post videos like that "claiming" 55 pullups, people see it as a way for the athlete to show his incredible strength in that particular exercise. That is why people are disappointed. They expect to see a feat of strength, and instead they get a training video. They fail to see the difference.
    I actually (even after reading your post) completely understand their reaction. The title screams "come see my amazing strength achievement" and the video is a simple training video.
    If i for instance posted a video with the title "550lbs x15 raw Deadlift" when the video shows me doing deadlifts with the weight rested on platforms that cut the ROM in half, wouldnt you react?
    The title should match the content of the video.

    1. I disagree. I don't think the reaction should be outrage at all. I think it should be inquisitive. Why would these guys decide that this is what a pull/chin up should look like? Should I be doing this as well?

      I think ultimately it boils down to people not really understanding the point of assistance exercises. People become assistance exercise kings, majoring in the minors, as Jim would say. I have a public training log in a few places where I post my own numbers on chins. I hit in the mid 50s when using some rest pausing. Regardless of how much I benched or pressed in that workout, all people will post is nonsense like "Wow, amazing chins!"

      Who cares about chins? They are a means of getting stronger, not the end.

    2. I wouldn't react. That is a valid way of training that has been around for some time, and even with a half ROM, is still a feat of strength. Especially at 15 reps.

      Would I be more impressed by full reps? Sure. But that's a given. why, it's a display of even more strength.

      Rules are meant to be broken, after understanding them. The point Emevas is trying to make, here, is that these guys clearly understand the rules and are breaking them, and figuring out why could be beneficial to one's training. Probably more so when periodization comes into play.

  5. Good technique, whether it be for a lift you'll be competing in or an assistance/accessory exercise, all boils down to context. I think I've only done a couple pull ups in my life that the interwebz would call legit, because by the time I get myself high enough to make everyone happy, I'll have rounded my back and curled myself over the bar to get there. I still do a pretty big ROM, but I know plenty of internet experts who'd say my pull ups don't count because I don't get the bar to my chest. I do pull ups to build my back, not to reach a certain height regardless of how I get there. In saying that, I want my technique to be as close to perfect as possible on every rep performed, but that's "perfect" relative to why I'm doing the exercise. Consequently, I can make some exercises look pretty and wonderful, and at the end of the set say: "Well, that was a waste -- it didn't do what I needed it to do," then turn around and do something that looks like cheat city (or, alternatively, that looks like nonsensical fluff), but walk away satisfied that the exercise achieved exactly what it was supposed to achieve.

    1. You nailed it dude. Very well put. People fixate on how what looks when they get from A to B versus what they are doing on the journey there.