Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Wanted to try a new approach today.  No article, just a few thoughts jotted down about my training.  See which ones resonate with you.

I have never missed a lift from not being mobile enough.

I have never gotten a 4th white light for squat depth.

I have never done too many chin ups.

I have never eaten too many vegetables.

I have never missed a lift because I didn't run enough.

I have never finished a heavy squat or deadlift while wearing a belt and thought "my abs didn't feel worked from this."

I have never overworked my upper back.

I have never missed a lift from weak calves.

I have never dropped a deadlift, even after 2 years of using straps for all of my training lifts.

I have never had a warm-up that lasted longer than 5-10 minutes.

I have never had a warm-up that wasn't simply using lighter weights for the lift I was training.

I have never stretched for lifting.

I have never taken a pre-workout supplement.

I have never needed to know the difference between hypertrophy and hyperplasia.

I have never fasted intentionally unless I was cutting weight that day.

I have never performed an olympic lift, or a power clean.

I have never met someone that wasn't a "hard gainer".

I have never met a hard gainer that was drinking a gallon of milk a day.

I have never done too many kettlebell swings.

I have never deloaded too often.

I have never had a "sticking point".

I have never missed a lift from being too slow.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Going Vlog rather than Blog this week.  Got a video on how I deadlift.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Lets start with a cartoon

Full credit to Zach Weiner of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (, because that's some funny stuff.

How does this apply?  Lets make the science fan a new lifter, and the scientist an accomplished one.  One is bubbling over with all sorts of nifty knowledge about obscure facts, and the other has realized what is worth investing time on and what isn't.

Most young lifters try to compensate for their lack of experience by filling the void with knowledge.  You can only train about 1-2 hours a day realistically without burning yourself out (at least for an average new lifter), whereas you can spend countless hours plugging away on pirated e-books and forum posts.  The problem with this approach is that, without previously aforementioned experience, one is unable to sort between what is actually useful information and what is just another digit of pi.  

Additionally, much of this reading can start to convince a new lifter that there is always a better way, and one ends up in the pursuit of optimization.  Many a young lifter has spent countless nights laying on their back, staring up at the stars and wondering if they were really optimizing their gains.

Also, I wonder where my roof went

The experienced guys?  They're simply wondering if they're making gains.  Period.  Why?  Because that is ultimately the pursuit here.  If you are making gains, you are winning.  The notion of "optimal gains" is silly, and a product of people focusing way too much on the details and not getting the big picture.  

What is rather comical about these new lifters looking to optimize their gains is that they are the very same individuals who will point to studies they found in their quest for knowledge that indicate that one can only gain a predetermined about of muscle in a given period of time.  Numbers range from .5lbs in a month to 2lbs in a week, but any case, it's definitely real, and definitely science.  So if that's the case, if you are adding weight to the scale each week and your weight is moving up on the bar, doesn't this mean you have already optimized your training?  You're not going to beat the cap, no matter how great you time your postworkout shake or how awesome your pre-workout supplement is, because science.

On paper, these guys are jacked.

The reality is, the best way to optimize your training doesn't involve supplements.  It doesn't involve nutritional timing.  It doesn't involve a workout put together by NASA and approved by every Mr Olympia, World's Strongest Man and gold medalist on the planet.  It's simply about consistency and hard work.  If you train for 10 years and never miss a workout, your training was optimized.  If you half ass it in the gym, skip workouts, don't find a gym when you are traveling, get wasted every weekend, binge when you are out with your friends, and consistently fall off the wagon, it's not going to matter what cutting edge testosterone booster you found or what your macros are, your training is not optimal, and it will reflect in your physique and strength.

Once you've nailed down your schedule and can cook and eat like an athlete, then you can start worrying about band tension and being in ketosis.  But if you can't go a solid month without falling off the wagon, you don't need to be sweating if you're making optimal gains, you need to start focusing more on making ANY gains.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Question: Would you rather look like a ripped bodybuilder or a fat powerlifter?

You know, like this

Or this

Seems obvious, right?  But you want to be strong like a powerlifter, right?

Not like some weak bodybuilder, who is all show and no go, right?

If you follow lifting, you probably already got my point, but for those of you playing along at home.

Photo 1: Kirk Karwoski.  Powerlifter.
Photo 2: Lee Priest.  Bodybuilder.
Photo 3: Ronnie Coleman.  Bodybuilder.
Photo 4: Dave Tate.  Powerlifter.

On the internet, there is a war, and it is between powerlifters and bodybuilders.  You have to pick a side and choose your alliances wisely, for no quarter will be given.  Will you dedicate yourself to a greater total at the cost of never seeing your abs again and having a 50" waist, or will you be some prettyboy bodybuilder, all oiled up in a manthong with bulging, useless muscles.

Like this, but WAY more important man!

Notice, I said this is on the internet.  Why?  Because in the real world, it's total bullshit.  Those with no accomplishments to show in either physique or strength rage at each other from the safety and anonymity afforded behind their screens while the real bodybuilders and powerlifters are out there getting big and strong.

Want a basic description of how to train for powerlifting?  Train something heavy, and then train some lighter stuff to build up size and bring up weak points.  Want to know how to train for bodybuilding?  Train something heavy, and then train some lighter stuff to build up size and bring up weak points.  

You aren't going to become a good bodybuilder without getting stronger.  It just does not happen.  You spend enough time lifting iron and eventually you get good at it, no matter what rep range you are working in.  Your body doesn't care that the 8 rep range is actually the range for sacroplasmic hypertrophy, it just wants to adapt to the stress you are putting it under.  Similarly, if you are lifting heavy shit and eating a lot of food, you WILL put on muscle, even if you occasionally put on a spandex one piece and spend about 18 hours only doing 3 lifts.  Your body doesn't know you're a powerlifter, it just wants to grow.

Look at the old school guys.  Arnold was a capable weightlifter and won a stone lifting contest in Austria as a bodybuilder.  Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu were both invited to the first World's Strongest Man competition, and actually did decently well

Well, ok, minus that

Meanwhile, guys like Bill Kazmaier and Ed Coan were jacked.  Why?  Because you can't lift heavy stuff and eat big without getting big, and you can't get big without lifting heavy stuff.

Put down your "rep range tables" and other such nonsense, get away from your notions about how you HAVE to train below 6 reps to get stronger and how anyone training in the 8-12 rep range is just building squishy sacrplasmic filler goo muscles and start busting your ass instead.  Your body will have no other choice but to grow.

People will ask "why is it that everytime I see a powerlifter in a video, they are fat?"  This isn't because powerlifting makes you fat, it's because if you're watching a powerlifter video, you are most likely watching a world record lift.  A powerlifter setting a world record is going to be as heavy as he possibly can be, because weight moves weight.  In this situation, yes, this man will be fat, but he is a representative of the extreme in powerlifting, not the norm.  If you aren't a 308+lb powerlifter, it does you no good to carry excess fat, as this is just moving you up into a higher weight class and killing your coefficient (pound for pound strength essentially).  You're going to see abs on a lot of successful powerlifters in the 242 class and below.  

Additionally, people will talk about how they see bodybuilders moving small weights to gain bigger muscles.  While this may happen (Kai Greene discusses the intent of that exercise here, it is not to say that these people do not still possess incredible strength.  Quite the contrary in fact.  It necessitates a great degree of strength to be able to have such mastery and control over such a weight.  If you do not have said strength, the weights you will use for this method will be even MORE paltry than what Greene utilizes, and were Kai to decide to deviate from this approach and go for maximal pounds on the bar, he'd be able to demonstrate a great level of strength, as seen here

Yes yes, he has a spotter, isn't pausing, etc.  Re-read my post on training lifts.  This is still strong.

This isn't binary.  The only place the extremes exist is on the internet.  Get strong, eat big, and you will get big.  Get big, and you will get strong.  Spend your time worrying about rep ranges and sarcoplasmic vs myofibrillar hypertrophy, and you will do neither.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


There seems to be some sort of misconception out there about training, and I feel it needs clearing up.

None of this is easy.

None of it.

Not one thing.

Basically, every time you press it, it just says f**k you

If being better than average was easy, everyone would do it.  That's what makes "average" average.  It is what we accomplish by putting in the average amount of effort, which in current society, is the bare minimum.  The obesity rate is rising rapidly, and soon obese will become the average.  It is easy to become obese.

What isn't easy is breaking out from your comfort zone and doing something incredible.  

Read that again, because it bears repeating.  It needs to be internalized.

It doesn't just mean you need to bust your ass in the gym.  It means you need to bust your ass everywhere

Think about it.  The gym is a 1-2 hour commitment, accomplished maybe 3-5 times a week.  Being generous, that's 10 hours a week out of a potential 168 hours in a week.   Which do you think is going to be reflected in your performance and appearance: the 10 hours you spent exerting yourself, or the 158 hours you didn't?

I will give you a moment

No one likes to hear this, but going to the gym is the easy part.  How many people do you know that go to the gym?  How many of those people that go to the gym have been going for years and have nothing to show for it?  How many of those people have to tell people that they go to the gym, because it's not readily apparent from looking at them?

The hard part is that stuff you do outside of the gym.  You hear it all the time.  "I don't have time to cook and eat".  Are you f-in' kidding me?  Break down that sentence for a bit.  It's the most selfish and egotistical thing someone can say.  "I don't have the time", by implication, is stating that everyone else clearly has the time to do all this because they aren't important, but my time is just way too valuable to be able to compromise for these things.  

Dude, I am SWAMPED this quarter

We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  No one gets more, no matter how fast they run backwards trying to reverse the Earth's rotation.  Those who want to succeed use those 24 hours to achieve success.  Those who don't want it bad enough waste those hours complaining about how unfair the system is and how they don't have time.  The difference is, the former is willing to make sacrifices whereas the latter isn't.

People who don't have time to cook and eat always seem very caught up on the latest television series, have heard all the newest albums, been to all the movies, etc.  Ask them what happened in last night's episode of Breaking Bad and they'll give you a detailed play by play of the entire series up until that point.  Ask them what they ate for dinner that night and the answer will be far less detailed. 

The dog might actually be a better choice

If you want to break out from the norm, you have to go against the norm.  Learn how to work the kitchen and spend some time prepping meals for the future.  When you have some down time, do some reading on how to become better at your goals.  Make plans for how you will progress in the present and the future.  Learn, study, and grow.  The more you put into this, the more you get out of it.  Those 10 hours a week in the gym are making minimal impact, but when you start upping that time to 20, 30, 40, and 50+ hours a week working being better than the average, it will start to show.  

Some of you may cry that this is unfair.  Some of you may feel that you shouldn't need to sacrifice the things you love in order to achieve your goals.  Some of you may think that I am being elitist, and that you know some guy who drinks a keg a night and does blow off of hookers as a pre-workout supplement and still walks around at 3% bodyfat year round, so why should you need to work hard?

The answer is simple.  Average is easy, and if this was easy, everyone would do it.  

But nobody ever said this would be easy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


How many times have you seen/read something like this question?

"I weigh 160lbs and just deadlifted 405.  Is that good?"

You can pick any number for either weight, it's not important.  Just the general inquiry of "are these numbers good?"  Maybe this even came from you at some point.

What is the goal of this question?  Honestly.  What could the outcome be here?  If the answer to the question is "Yes", does this mean you get to strut around the gym now and tell all your friends you have good numbers because the internet said so? If the answer is "No", will you go home and slit your wrists?  Will you finally start pushing yourself in the gym?  Why weren't you doing that in the first place?

It simply seeking validation from strangers, plain and simple, and it's a sign that something is lacking in your training.  If you are so desperate for feedback that you need to seek out the approval of strangers, you are not progressing.  You should be charting your progress in a training log, and if you own a mirror and some honesty, you should be able to see if you are making progress in your physique.

Some exceptions may apply

Furthermore, this question always takes an inevitable turn.  Someone, offering a great resource, tells this person to compare themselves to powerlifters (or whatever sport would be appropriate for the lift) in their weight class to get an idea of where their numbers stack.  This is met with resistance in the form of "I don't want to compare myself to competitive lifters, just other people.  I have only been training for X amount of time."

So now, we want to see where we stack up compared to others who aren't even competing against us?  This would be akin to walking through the street and occasionally sucker punching people to validate your boxing skills.

Undisputed heavyweight champion of the block

 If you want to see how you stack up, put on some gloves, get in the ring, and scrap.

Lets be honest with ourselves here.  If we have to tell people our numbers, we f**ked up.  If you are making good progress, people ask you how much you lift.  If you are not making good progress, people ask you IF you lift.  If you have to tell people that you train because it is not blatantly obvious, your numbers are not "good".  A man with good numbers stands out among other people, a man with average numbers blends in (hence the term "average").

Want to know when your numbers are good?  When you no longer have to ask.