Sunday, October 12, 2014


“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.


  1. Nice post bro. I can echo the same. Have been on 531 for 6 months now I believe. I have been pretty inconsistent with my accessory lifts but due to pushing the main sets extremely hard I have made near linear progress. Keep up the good writing

    1. Much appreciated. You've found the secret: hammer the important stuff, don't sweat the small stuff. So many folks online overthink assistance work and want to ask permission for everything they do, and the sheer act of caring this much makes the assistance work destructive. I like the idea of "training free time", where you have mandatory work you have to do, and then just a set amount of time you spend screwing around, doing whatever you want. You'll still make great gains this way. Thanks for your continued readership/posting.

  2. My pleasure. Thank you for the well thought out content