Saturday, May 2, 2015


I cannot recount how many times I have heard a neophyte trainee express the idea that “as long as I employ good form and remain injury free, one day I can be like so and so” (insert whichever Mr. Wonderful you desire to complete this sentence).  It’s this idea that the road to success requires one to encounter zero setbacks, as these obstacles are most surely the cause of stagnation and failure.  If we want to be the best, we must ensure that 100% of our hours of training are always spent toward progressing, for even the slightest regression due to injury is going to doom us to mediocrity.

What baffles me about this mentality is how these people never actually witness the training history of those whose results they seek to emulate.  Successful people get injured and use “bad form”, and mediocre people remain injury free with textbook form.  The last time I saw this comment, it came from a sub 300lb deadlifter talking about George Leeman.  For the love of god, George Leeman is injured almost every other week, and his form makes internet lifting Jesus weep.  Oh yeah, and he also just recently pulled over 900lbs in his early 20s.

This video manages to be an argument both for and against the existence of God

Dave Tate is one ocular implant away from being classified as a cyborg from all the reconstructive surgery he has undergone from years of being injured.  Matt Kroczaleski’s injury list reads like the autopsy for a 47 car pileup.  Louie Simmons made the reverse hyper due to the fact that he broke his spine and doctors told him he’d never walk again.  Steve Pulcinella is legally deceased (which is coincidentally why he bears such a striking resemblance to Kratos).  Derek Poundstone tore his quad AFTER retiring from strongman DUE to injuries, because Loki apparently loves irony and hates Vikings that have already earned a place in Valhalla and are just biding their time until a worthy opponent is willing to send one toward a proper Viking funeral.  This list goes on and on, I’m simply getting tired of my own metaphors.

 Image result for steve pulcinellaImage result for Kratos
"God of War" is still one of my favorite historical documentaries

Derek Poundstone had a great quote in an interview on the discussion of athletes and injures; “There are two types of athletes: those who have been injured, and those who are going to be injured.”  This is one of those realities that anyone who aspires to be AT the level of Derek Poundstone or other greats needs to embrace, along with the idea that it’s about how we REACT to injury that determines who will succeed and who will fail.  If we believe that injuries are some sort of catastrophic event that spells out doom for our training and our future, we will never give our all in our training.  However, if we view injuries as minor annoyances at the most, and inevitabilities on the road to success, we will bounce back bigger, stronger and better than ever.  There is much to learn through injury.

On the topic of “good form”, let us once again analyze those who succeed versus those who don’t.  Do you know what a Kroc Row is?  Do you find it funny that, before Matt Kroc became some sort of demi-god, the internet just called those “bad form” rows?  Funny how all it took was success before we embraced the movement, but even THEN, our cognitive dissonance was SO strong that we had to rename the damn movement before we allowed ourselves to accept its usefulness.  The idea that someone could succeed with “bad form” was so disgusting and alien to us that we had to re-write history to permit what had already occurred to be an acceptable outcome.  Meanwhile, Matt Kroc just called them “dumbbell rows” until Jim Wendler decided to give them an official title.

Note the video title on youtube

Have you ever seen Dave Tate squat “to depth”?  How about Derek Poundstone? Or how about how Derek Poundstone deadlifts “wrong” by using touch and go?  How about the fact that I honestly can’t tell if Louie Simmons is just trolling the world when he renames EVERY movement he does in order to justify the technique employed?  “These are rounded back, seated good mornings with feet flared, on the toes, one eye closed while thinking about ice cream.”  George Leeman’s technique has already been mentioned, but once again, we witness the shared qualities of these greats: the commonly accepted notion of “good form” is not what is always practiced.  In many cases, “bad form” is relied upon in order to achieve success.     


I will give you a moment to wipe your brains off your keyboard

It is insane to attribute good form and remaining injury free as necessary for success.  Those who have succeeded have NEVER employed this approach, but it is what is constantly exposed by those seeking success.  The reality that only UNSUCCESSFUL people care about these qualities seems lost to these people, and in point of fact they are so fixated on these two qualities that being in the presence of someone who is not following these tenants results in anxiety and distress.

How often have we witnessed a weak and unsuccessful trainee bemoaning all the instances of “bad form” they witness in the gym?  They vent about this to other unsuccessful people, and even go so far as to ask how one should go about “correcting” this bad form.  The question of social etiquette arises when one realized that they themselves have not succeeded in their own training, and it seems hypocritical to offer advice as an amateur, but the good Samaritan’s imperative requires one correct “bad form” to prevent injury.  TO PREVENT INJURY!  The same injury that successful people encounter, endure and grow from because it is necessary on the path to success!  All we are witnessing is the “crabs in a bucket” phenomenon, wherein one witnesses a trainee attempting their hardest to become something greater, and their psychology compels them to stop this trainee at all costs in order to maintain the norm.

 Image result for konstantin konstantinovs deadlifts
"Ahem, excuse me sir, but you're going to hurt yourself.  You should read Starting Strength, deload down to the bar, and start over."

Getting bigger and stronger requires effort and intensity.  Effort and intensity requires straining.  Straining necessitates form deviations.  Form deviations can result in injuries, as can really heavy weights pushed way too hard.  Using good form and being injury free is simply NOT the blueprint to success.  This does not mean that using bad form and getting injured will necessarily results in success, it simply means that those who AVOID these qualities will have fewer qualities in common with those who have succeeded than those who don’t.


  1. Very nice write-up. IMO many of the people who participate in lifting discussion care too much about programming and numbers when they should really be looking at the mental approach to training that champions take and the mindset they work with. I don't just mean this in a mental toughness aspect, but also that we should aim to understand how and why athletes perform their exercises/routine in a particular way.

    1. I think you nailed it dude. So many folks look toward the physical when viewing what it is that champions had in common, when in reality the physical methods vary so wildly while the mental and psychological aspects remain a constant. I found that, once I adjusted my attitude, my progress came quicker.

  2. Replies
    1. I appreciate the feedback. Thanks for reading!

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