Sunday, July 28, 2013


To go along with the "mythical" portion of my blog title, I decided to dive into a religious metaphor for the various ways people fail in their training.  I will note that I am not original in my idea of using the 7 deadly sins for lifting, as Paul Kelso accomplished this in "Powerlifting Basics: Texas Style" to great effect.  However, this will be my take on the matter.  In this part, I will discuss gluttony, pride and wrath, with the remaining sins covered in the second part.

Let’s address the big fat elephant in the room: some trainees really let themselves go in the name of “bulking”.  These are the guys that live at fast food places and buffets and manage to add 20lbs to their total with 60lbs to their bodyweight and 8” on their waistline.  They talk about how they exercise so that they can “eat whatever they want”, but clearly it’s not working.

20 minutes on the Bowflex will knock this right out

Here is the reality: you can’t outtrain a bad diet.  Many have tried and failed.  Those that have succeeded are not reading this blog, because they don’t need any help.  Now, if you have no issues getting incredibly fat in the pursuit of strength, then full speed ahead, this works.  However, most trainees are not willing to become obese to hit an elite total, and if you fall in this category, it means you have to take a more measured approach to your nutrition.  If you follow the “seefood diet”, you have no one to blame but yourself when you get fat.

In the realm of training, the glutton is the trainee who does way too much.  Rather than having a focused and hard hitting program, their training has everything thrown in.  They cannot exercise restraint, and constantly require new stimulus and excitement in order to keep training.  Like stuffing yourself at a buffet, the large amount of variety may seem enjoyable at the time, but the experience eventually becomes regrettable, as you will fail to progress toward any actual goal.  Controlling gluttony in your training means achieving goals, while giving in to gluttony means spinning your wheels with nothing to show while hopping from program to program.

The sin of pride runs rampant across the net.  Education is not inherently negative, but hubris compels trainees to consider their way to be the ONLY way.  These guys are a dime a dozen.  Having conquered the difficult task of reading a thread about Starting Strength, they decide that they are God’s gift to all things lifting, and spend their free time critiquing the depth of world record squatters and the routines of Olympia level bodybuilders.  They flock to forums in order to crush any conversation on alternative approaches and scream the party line at any and all opposition.

Seriously, f**k these people.  These are the witchburners that stifle the renaissance so that we can keep bloodletting with leeches.   The notion of others having a better idea is so damaging to their egos that they invest more time in being destructive to progress than advancing it.  Fear of being wrong compels them to fanatically engage in research that affirms their ego while ignoring all evidence to the contrary, to include their own lacking progress.

"Dude, it's called 'functional strength', ok?"

Pride will of course obviously impact your own training in this fashion as well.  My personal tale of the evils of pride include stubbornly sticking with abbreviated training well beyond its applicable value for me.  Do not get me wrong, I think abbreviate training is a great idea (as indicated by my previous article on the subject), but I also know that there is value in higher volume work, and by refusing to admit this point so that I could stick with what I “knew” was right, I stunted my own growth and stalled during periods of time where I could have made amazing progress.  When it comes to training, I have adopted the philosophy that I would rather be wrong and strong and right and weak.

Bad workouts happen.  This is fact.  Sometimes, you even have bad weeks.  When this happens, it’s very tempting to toss out everything and go off the rails.  You decide that your entire routine is garbage and throw it out, or you quit lifting all together, blaming genetics, drugs, time, solar flares, astrology, or the current presidential administration.

"You KNOW I can't make gains while there is a democrat in the White House!"

Stop it.  Anger, when controlled, can be valuable, but here it’s just destroying you.  Your ability to adapt and overcome is what makes you incredible, and to waste such a talent is a tragedy.  You have to come to terms with your own mortality, realizing that, as a human, you are imperfect, and thus you will experience ups and downs in your training.  Being able to see the big picture becomes incredibly valuable here.  Barring disastrous injury, a bad workout isn’t even a blip on your training radar.  Progress in lifting isn’t about going from workout to workout, but about the total accumulation of workouts and progressed experienced during that time.  If you have more good workouts than bad, you will have an overall net gain, it’s just that simple.  Take a deep breath, count to 10, and see this for what it is.

That said, as mentioned above, controlled anger is valuable.  Channel the fury into energy invested in getting better.  If you have a bad workout, spend some time figuring out what caused it.  So many trainees just stumble blindly from workout to workout, having no consideration for factors such as sleep, nutrition, hydration, rest periods, etc, and how these could impact performance.  When things go bad, draw up some theories and get to the bottom of what makes you tick.  In doing so, you will hopefully have fewer bad workouts, which means less time spent in the realm of wrath.

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