When I was new to training, I had been pretty notorious for saying that good strength authors are “90% genius, 10% crazy”. You’d read guys like Pavel, Dave Tate, Dan John, etc and notice that the majority of their stuff made total sense, but everyone once in a while they’d try to sneak in something squirrely. It just meant that you had to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s only now I realize how completely arrogant a thought that is, and how damaging it is to one’s growth as a lifter. If I were to say it again, I’d state that good training authors are 90% placating their audience and 10% genius.
Maybe this guy is still crazy
This is no attack on the author, it’s an attack on the reader. These authors understand that their livelihood depends on their ability to have mass appeal, and in turn, they have to say the things that people will agree with. As such, these authors always expound the ideas that we all “know are right”. It’s the same thing over and over again: basics and fundamentals and hard work and so on. However, it’s that 10% that makes the difference. This is the 1 or 2 things that this person does differently than everyone else that have in turn MADE THEM different from everyone else.
We desperately NEED to be right. It’s encoded in our DNA. Being wrong is morally offensive. It is because of this that we call the authors who write the things we agree with “GENIUS!” In turn, those who write things we disagree with we hurl all manner of vitriol, poison and evil at: irrespective of their results! Their promotion of ideas that do not coincide with our established norms cause so much cognitive dissonance that we create elaborate and ridiculous excuses to justify their success. Genetics, drugs, luck, future injuries GUARANTEED, the list goes on and on. We simply cannot abide by their insane ideas, and instead must cast out these pariahs so that we have enough space to bask in the wisdom that is the holy 5x5.
Time traveled INTO the future, took steroids, came back
It’s of minimal accomplishment to get the basics right in this sport. Work hard, lift heavy, eat good: as we’ve seen, hundreds of authors can spin these principles into thousands of books. However, the real gold is in those little nuggets that DON’T coincide with what everyone else is saying. It’s the things that ARE disagreeable, issues that ARE contentious and heated, opinions that make you lose friends and alienate people that hold the secret. These are the things that you can’t just parrot from other sources and have everyone agree on, but instead can only be discovered personally through experience and toil. It’s WHY they are different from what everyone else believes: they’re unique ideas only gained BY the elite.
Comical to observe is the sliding scale that coincides with how much “crazy” someone preaches. Mark Rippetoe has never seen a “7” as the first number on his deadlift, and yet he is touted like some sort of lifting Messiah because his work is incredibly focused on the basics that everyone agrees with. George Leeman deadlifted over 900lbs in his early 20s, and people will constantly point out that Eddie Hall pulls more, therefore George must not know crap. Why is this? Because George talks about evil ideas like high reps for strength, touch and go deadlifting with straps, non-full ROM movements, and pretty much trains completely “wrong”. George could deadlift 1100lbs tomorrow, and people would still say he is successful DESPITE his methods.
I get unreasonably excited with how unreasonably upset he makes everyone
Consider this my call to arms: do something crazy. Find that something you heard an author say one time that couldn’t POSSIBLY be right and give it an honest try. Go pull touch and go, skip your mobility work, do anything that Elliot Hulse is talking about these days, just throw reason to the wind and try something that is wrong. You’re not going to get better than everyone else by doing the same thing they’re all doing. If you want to succeed, you’re going to have to get a little crazy.