Friday, August 28, 2015


-I am unreasonably excited about pumpkin season in a few months.  I plan to get very fat.

-I am so unsatisfied with losing fat.  It’s working well and totally unrewarding.  I want to build, not destroy.

-I think most beginner trainees would do better if they never heard of the squat, bench and deadlift.

-There is no such thing as the “big 4”, or 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 42, 108, etc.  Just stop.

-I notice that some of Starting Strength’s most vocal supporters are people who never followed the program.

-I still have no idea how to do speed/dynamic effort work.

-“Training programs” seem so weird to me now.  Why not just do what you need?

-I got a Rogue axle as part of a craigslist bundle, and though it’s super cool, I wouldn’t have paid for it compared to my pipe axle.  The pipe just plain works.

Image result for dave chappelle crackhead memes
Sorry, didn't mean to excite you

-I watch shows like “Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Weightloss” with envy.  How awesome would it be to spend months with zero obligations and all you do is train hard and eat well.  How do I sign up?

-“Long arms” is what people say to me when I beat them on the deadlift…and these are the same people I beat on the press as well.

-The Home Depot bucket dumbbell was a success.  It survived a 2 month training cycle and built up my technique enough to take second place in a contest for as many reps as possible.  It also made a Rogue dumbbell feel tiny.

-The Rogue 10” log was the window maker at my last contest.  When you train with great equipment and compete with bad equipment, things go bad.  Train with bad equipment and compete with good, things go well.  Train at your worst to be at your best.

-I have not pulled a sumo deadlift since 2005…should I?

-If you ever run a strongman contest, here are 2 things you can do to make everyone happy and make back some money: porta potties and a burger burn.  The former will compete you bathrooms clean and competitors happy, and the latter will be in high demand by competitors and spectators alike.  I am always shocked when no one thinks to do this.

Do you REALLY want to see what these guys can do to 1 bathroom?

-This will piss off a lot of lifters but I can’t take metal (music) seriously.  It sounds like Cookie Monster singing.  Blaring it at gyms/contests just makes me giggle.

-If touch and go is easier than dead stop, why is it that I can only touch and go when I am fresh, and resort to dead top when I am fatigued?

-After a heavy medley/car deadlift/anything where you were wearing tight knee sleeves/wraps, get them off ASAP, lie on your back and start pumping your legs as soon as you can.  You need to get blood flowing again, and the sooner you do this, the faster you recover.

-There is no shame in actually looking like you lift weights.  Some muscle might actually help make one stronger too.

I'm just saying...

-With how long Mark Rippetoe has been around, how much he writes, ho well looked up to his is, etc etc, I still don’t know of a single lifter he has trained.  I feel like the law of averages would dictate at least ONE guy would come out of the wood work.

-I still don’t count macros or calories.  I think it’s valuable to make the leap from “lean” to “bodybuilder contest ready”, but for most people, it’s not necessary.

-I got stronger in 2 year of competing in strongman than I did in 10 years of “lifting weights”.

-Conditioning is the missing element in almost all unsuccessful programs.

-Theory on the difference between beginners and advanced trainees: advanced trainees are strong enough that 1 or 2 big movements wipe them out, so they fill the rest of their training sessions with small isolation work to still hit the muscles.  Beginners are so weak that they can have 4 big movements in a routine and still walk away, hence why isolation work is “not necessary”.  Maybe?

-There is no such thing as an intermediate lifter.

I imagine a few people just did this with their protein shakes

-“Eat big” has ruined so many trainees.  Eat WELL first, then, when you can figure that out, eat big.  Oh, this probably means you need to learn how to cook a few meals.

-Those that are adamant that you MUST train a movement to move more weight with said movement fail to understand the difference between getting stronger versus getting better.  Strongman and crossfit athletes often compete with implements they didn’t get a chance to train, and somehow their training STILL got them strong on these movements.

-I don’t know of anyone who has run Madcow or the Texas Method with results that I would want to emulate.

-My nutritional weakpoint is fast food and meat.  I can’t get enough of it, and I notice a lot of folks who are similar to me in that regard seem to naturally carry more bodyfat.  Conversely, those with sweet tooths seem to carry less bodyfat naturally.  I wonder if there is a relationship?

-I have always had better results when I did NOT time my rest periods and just went by feel.

-Want a home gym but “don’t have space”?  Get the Ironmind Squat/Dip rack and an Irongym door frame pull-up set.  You can store everything in a closet, and now you’ve got squats, dips, overhead, chins, deadlifts, and rows.  Tell me you can’t get bigger and stronger off of that.

Sorry, shouldn't mentioned this post was NSFW

-The odds that a form deviation in a lift is due to a muscle weakness is incredibly slim.  Most folks have all the strength they need, they just don’t know how to employ it.  Poor set-up is the biggest culprit here (not being configured well enough to use your muscles), but lack of body awareness can contribute as well.

-I find my greatest asset when it comes to training and building strongman equipment is my inability to recognize a “bad idea”.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


This monster turned out to be 2000 words when I was done with it, so I've broken it in half.  There's never any shame in making multiple trips to the buffet folks.


-Spend a year training “wrong” and you will make more progress than 3 years training right.

-The trap bar has done way more harm than good.

-Why do they make tapered belts?

-I always worry about my grip strength at contests only to realize that I am one of the few people actively training my grip.

-Quite taking yourself so seriously.  It’s just lifting weights.

Usually, when this phrase is used, it's for soldiers that are being shot at in a brutal and bloody battle, but I'm sure the leg press is tough too

-I rarely ever grunt in training, or competition for that matter.

-I know I got old when I considered peanut butter “cheat food”.

-No one has ever used a gym mirror to check their form.

-Sleep is overrated.

-People who deride bodybuilders are often fat and weak.

-I made my worse progress when I tried to ensure I had adequate recovery.

--Wrist wraps don’t seem to do much for me.  They just tend to be good reminders to grip hard.

-Everyone needs a sandbag in training.  Amazing piece of equipment.  However, my Ironmind bag ripped way too easily, so don’t buy that one.

-When I try to lose weight, I drink way more diet soda.  I feel like there needs to be a balance of vices.

Maybe the world would've been better if he just stayed fat

-There are a lot of at people in powerlifting and strongman.  I suppose that’s true about crossfit and distance running too.  Maybe there are just a lot of fat people in general.

-If squat depth is so important, why don’t trainees stand each foot on an elevated platform so that they can squat BELOW ATG?

-I don’t know who said it, but it’s brilliant; “Most programming questions are asking for permission”.  Look to Nike: Just Do It.

-Most kids would be better served reading cookbooks instead of nutritional studies.

-The first thing I look for when someone posts their diet is vegetables.  100% of the time, they aren’t there.

-I really get a laugh out of folks getting their beards caught in the axle on the clean and press and on the stones.  Hopefully this phase will die out soon.

Image result for Paul Anderson
Oh hey, look, someone without a beard or a mohawk lifting huge weights

-I was bored at work one day and re-read all of Matt Kroc’s training log on the elitefts website prior to his transition to bodybuilding.  Lot of good stuff in there.

-I’m at the point in my training where I don’t feel like I need any new movements, just creative programming.

-Cheat days are ridiculous.  A cheat meal on ONE day is reasonable.

Except for this one I ate last joke, that was a bad idea

-Someone else’s’ failure with a method you enjoy does not invalidate your own success with it.

-Make methods work for you, don’t make yourself work for the method.

-The popularity of the deadlift has not been a positive thing.

-Something I want to implement; band/chain dropsets.  Keep the bar weight the same, and just keep taking off bands and/or chains.

-I’ve actually cut my caffeine consumption down pretty substantially.  The biggest victory is none before training.  Pre-workouts are still for chumps.

-I couldn’t even give away the supplements I won at my 5th contest.

-What is with the trend of non-competitors training “like athletes”?  What are these folks peaking for?  That is time spent NOT getting bigger and stronger.  The OFF season is where growth happens.  If you’re going to train like an athlete, train like an off season one.

-I feel like Planet Fitness is worth joining just for the pizza.

-A lot of powerlifters have joined the “Starting Strongman” facebook group, and many seem to forget that it’s strongman.  If I see another “ditch the straps” and “squat to depth” comment, I’m going to violate the “don’t be an asshole” policy.

-Someone posted a flyer of a local gym strongman contest that featured the squat, bench, deadlifts, and clean and press.  A bunch of people were up in arms about that “not being strongman”.  It’s strongman the LEAST strict sport, where all we do is lift heavy stuff?  Hell, we have platinum level shows with MAS wrestling in them for God’s sake.

So yeah, THIS was in WSM, but bench press is unacceptable?

-I drank a gallon of water in the span of 1.5 hours in a meeting and realized by the reactions of the people in the room that, once again, my sense of normalcy is totally warped.

-I still want a spider bar.

-Asking for a form check on assistance lifts is like wanting someone to critique your fingering on air guitar.

-I appreciate the humor in guys wearing skintight underarmor shirts to show off their physique and then dumping squats because the material is terrible at gripping the bar.

-I have never done a high bar squat.

-I am constantly shocked at how many people that I still consider beginners have “clients”.  I am REALLY hoping that they just mean “training partners” and just want to sound more important.  The alternative terrifies me.

-The unaccomplished demand science, not results.

-In many cases, doing something gets better results than doing nothing.

-People are going to expect me to have an opinion on the Matt Kroc transgender issue.  That is so outside my wheelhouse.  As a philosophy fan though, I more wonder about the existential implications.  Was there ever a Matt Kroc?  Who was I following for all that time?  A character?

I don't care what your gender is, this is STILL crazy

-I am so tired of salad.

-Why I don’t eat fish: the whole goal of fish is to make it not taste like itself.  If a fish doesn’t taste “fishy”, it’s cooked correctly.  If a steak doesn’t taste like steak, you ruined it.  I know a scam when I hear one.

-I recently acquired an awesome craigslist score which reminded me of why I love Ironmind.  The buffalo bar feels awesome.  If you’re on the fence, get one.

-I’m bringing dips back into my training.  So far, it’s one max set everyday, trying to PR every time.

-The only people upset about weight cutting are those who are bad at it and non-competitors.

-I’m starting to think that the resurgence of multiply lifting would be a positive simply by making powerlifting less accessible.

-Another year of not foam rolling down.  Pretty soon, I’ll have to retire without having ever done it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Part II of a continuing saga.  These are lessons that took a few years under the iron to finally click with me.

-“There are only so many ways to lift a weight.”  I was always searching for the next great movement that was going to take me to a whole new level.  First, it was the shocking discovery of “the big 3”, sure to make me huge and strong.  Then, it was the Olympic lifts, definitely the thing I needed to become explosive.  But of course, I couldn’t forget weighted dips, the classic standby of Pat Casey.  And what about handstand push-ups?  I mean, Goku did those, and he was a beast.  I couldn’t forget about upside down suspended sit-ups either, and the ox-lift, and farmer’s carries, and…and…

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you had to know this was coming

At one point, after trying a large selection of lifts, I finally settled in to a handful that always give me results.  The reality is that, at some point, you just need to pick something and lift a weight.  There are a million ways to squat, but they all do the same thing: train the posterior chain.  People have this idea that somehow the back squat won’t train the quads at all and the front squat won’t develop strong hamstrings, but it’s all just squatting.  It’s the same with rows, with pressing, with curls, etc.  When you boil it all down, you’re just moving your body through a plane of motion being resistance by some manner of weight, so find your staples, hit them hard, and don’t get distracted by something shiny and new when you’re making progress.

-“If you get hurt, stop the training session.”  The worst thing in the world for my young trainee self was to get injured during a training session.  My progression had already been mapped out for months, and I knew exactly when I was going to hit certain lifts, and an injury just RUINED the whole plan.  Most times, the most obvious “solution” was to just keep lifting through the session, in the hopes that I’d still get in the reps I need, and maybe next week I’d actually be healed and good to go.

Nothing a little Motrin won't fix

That’s so stupid.  When the injury happens, it’s time to stop, no matter where I was in the session.  It was a warm-up rep?  Shut it down.  I only have 2 sets left?  Go home.  I’ve been lifting for 15 years, there will always be more time to train.  In the grand scheme of things, a week or 2 of missed/bad workouts is so inconsequential to overall progress, but meanwhile, pressing on with an obvious injury with the exact same workload that I would perform while healthy is just going to make me weaker.  This is one of the hardest ones for me to do still, but I at least KNOW it’s right now.

-“You can’t outrest an injury.”  I know this seems like it contrasts with the above, but stick with me.  AFTER getting injured, my usual approach was to get really mopey, assume my lifting career was over, and not do anything until I felt “healed”.  This would take MONTHS, and usually, as soon as I tried to lift again, I’d feel the pain and freak out.  Many of you are aware that I took 3 years off of deadlifting with this approach, just waiting for my back to feel “better”.

I'm sure I'll be ready to deadlift next year!
Now, I know that, though you gotta shut it down during the workout that you GOT hurt, the next thing you need to do is get back into the gym ASAP and do SOMETHING.  And usually, the “something” you gotta do is the exact same movement you got hurt on.  Now, I’m not an idiot: I don’t just slap on the old weight and go for the same set as before, but I will use light weights, reverse bands, bodyweights, etc etc.  I’ve learned that, if you give an injury a chance to rest, it stays injured.  It sees no need to GET better, because it’s finally getting some time off.  You have trained your body to believe that, when injuries occur, it’s time to retire that bodypart. With my current approach, I train my body to understand that the injured bodypart NEEDS to be better soon, because we’re going to still keep using it.  With this approach, I have rapidly bounced back from injuries, with my most recent one being a severe hamstring pull wherein I was back to running with a heavy yoke in 1 week, back to squatting my old poundages in 3 weeks, and back to my full volume of lower body work in 4 weeks total.  I had suffered this exact same injury back in 2011 and took 8 MONTHS to recover from it because I treated it like an idiot.  Once I quit rested and started training again, it healed much faster.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


This is my 7th strongman competition, having started competing in Sep of 2013, so now almost 2 full years.  As always, I’ll detail my background/training for the competition along with the competition itself.

The last competition I did was in the 231 class since there was no 200lb class.  I weighed in at 203 in clothes while eating a donut on the scale, but ultimately was pretty unhappy with how fat I had allowed myself to become in a contest where weight wasn’t an issue.  Once that contest was over, I vowed to clean up my diet a bit and try to lose a little weight, so that, when I weighed in for this contest as a 200lber, I’d have plenty of wiggle room and zero need to cut the day before.  About 1 week out from the contest I was regularly waking up at 194lbs and much leaner than before while still seeing all of my competition lifts improving in training.  My bench took a hit, but I wasn’t too concerned.  Additionally, I injured my hamstring about 2 months out of the competition, but was able to force it to heal pretty quickly, and it had no impact on my performance from what I could tell.  I also pulled a muscle in my lat/oblique the week before on some speed yoke work, which didn’t’ seem to heal properly.  Only experienced pain when I twisted, and it was still pretty minor, so I wasn’t too worried about it.
I didn’t take this contest too seriously since it was an unsanctioned competition.  The main draw was that it was in my hometown of San Diego, so it meant my family and friends could watch in person.  Additionally, the events were pretty much all static strength events, so it suited me well.  Here I’ll detail how I trained for the specific events.
PRESS MEDLEY (100lb keg, 180lb log, 100lb Circus DB for reps)

I got a new keg and filled it up to 100lbs to train for this, but honestly did very little practice once it was built.  I found out I could one motion it from the floor, almost like a snatch, and figured that would be my strategy.  For the log, I actually trained with a 235lb log press, in the off chance that there wouldn’t be anyone in the 200lb class and I’d have to play with the big boy weights.  It would’ve been smarter to get better at the viper press to cut down transition time, but I planned for the worst rather than the best.  For the circus dumbbell, I built my own bell using Home Depot buckets, and it worked AMAZINGLY well for how cheap of a product it was.  I trained with 112.5lbs, since that’s what 2 25lb plates per side ended up being.
I never actually trained this medley specifically like I had for past ones.  I trained the lifts individually on different press days during the week, and never trained to clean the DB on each rep simply due to fear of mechanical failure with my equipment.  I still felt pretty confident, as the weights were incredibly light, and I knew that was going to be a rep fest.
Also, point of fact, I scored an amazing craigslist bundle that included an ironmind squat/dip/chin station that I set up as a dip station in my garage.  I made it a habit to hit one set of max reps everyday I returned from work to get some more upperbody pressing volume in.  We’ll see if that affected anything.
No idea if this was going to be a light car like my last contest or a heavy one, but I figured I’d do what I did last time since it paid off.  I ended up getting some 100lb plates and some thinner 45s, and was able to work up to 8 plates per side for 5 reps by the end of my training cycle leading up to this.  Conditioning and strength were on point, and THIS time I wasn’t going to quit until the whistle blew.
Actually pretty proud of my training for this: I cycled my yoke for 3 weeks (week 1: 410lbs, week 2: 500lbs, week 3: 550lbs) for the competition distance.  I then would have a 205lb sandbag at the starting point, that I would have to pick up, carry, and then bag over bar with the yoke.  The intent here was to train both the yoke AND the explosiveness necessary to hit a heavy tire flip at the end of the long yoke walk.  Was finally starting to see some speed on the yoke this cycle, and this circuit was decent for my conditioning.
STONE SERIES (175, 200, 235, 290, 335)
Who am I kidding, I never train for stones.  The sandbag over bar I was doing as part of my circuit at least helped with the mechanics a touch, but my strategy was the same as always: come in strong and want it more than everyone else.LWM- 175, 200, 235, 290, 335

Weighed in at 195lbs with clothes/shoes on and a full stomach.  Zero issues making weight.


Most guys were struggling on the log on this one.  The Rogue 10" log is terrible, no question, and training with good equipment makes it hard to compete with bad equipment.  Implements were far apart as well, so I realized footspeed was going to be a factor.  Best on the CDB was 5 reps when I was up.

I took off in a sprinters stance, booked it to the keg, and one motioned it to the air.  I knew that I didn't want to waste any time between implements and be able to take my time on the CDB.  I took my time with the log, just because it was a screwy log, but still got it overhead pretty easily.  Zero leg drive, didn't trust myself.

Got to the circus dumbbell, and was surprised at how easy it went up.  I had been training with my ghetto Home Depot bucket bell, and even though the handle on the Rogue dumbbell was much thicker, the bell felt much easier to press.  I ended up knocking out 11 reps before I started losing steam.  It felt less like I ran out of strength and more like I ran out of coordination, if that makes sense.  I ended up taking second to some guy who banged out 14.  The difference between us is that he didn't use his left hand at all to stabilize the bell in between attempts, and just beated it up.  That's what I need to work on now if I want to be hot stuff.  Still, happy with a second on press, as it's not my strongest event.


My last contest, I got edged out of the car deadlift and it's been eating away at my soul every since.  I came into this contest with a vengeance, and swore that I would NOT lose another deadlift event.  So sick of tying for first.  I didn't care what anyone else did, I was going to win.

Got my straps set, settled in, and just let the world go black.  I moved as quickly as I could, and kept a good pace going for the first 20 or so reps before slowing down.  Up until this point, the best score was 13, so I was making a spectacle.  I ended up slightly re-torquing my left lat a touch around rep 30, but just kept pushing.  Ended up with 33 reps, beating the next closest by 13 reps.  Just about killed myself, but met my goal.  I have no regrets/lessons learned on this one.


SURPRISE!  The tire is 100lbs heavier!  Now 750lsb.  Not that it mattered, I didn't have a tire to train with.  Up until my point, most folks were struggling with the yoke itself, and no one had flipped the tire.

Been focusing on fast feet this whole time on my yoke training, and it seemed like it paid off.  The front of the yoke skipped just a touch at the start, and I could feel myself wobbling left, but I had zero put downs and got to the tire plenty fast.

I thought the tire flip wouldn't be that touch, and rather than do the smart thing and take off my belt, I tried to do the fast thing and just beast it over.  This was a dumb move, as this tire felt like it was a million pounds.  I got it to my knee real quick, and then just went to war with it for what felt like forever but in reality was maybe 10 seconds.  I eventually abandoned my grip on the rim of the tire and snagged one of the treads so that I could push up with my hands and my knees, got the inertia broken, and finally got the tire over.  Two other folks after me flipped the tire, but I believe I was either first or second on this event.

Sorry, no video of the tire flip itself, but you can see the yoke at least.


I was in first overall at this point.  People were talking about how the stones were dirty, so I put some tacky on the back of my hands, but otherwise stuck with my normal gameplan of being strong and wanting it.

First 3 stones popped up real quick, but around stone 3 I realized that my technique was terrible and I was probably exhausting how far I could get on brute strength.  By stone 4, I learned I was right.

Around stone 4, I also got to enjoy the fun and dynamic nature of strongman, for as I was bracing the stone on the platform getting ready to load it, I was told that suddenly that wasn't allowed.  I thought this was America.  I MIGHT have been able to get the stone had I just known right away they had this rule, for I wouldn't have even of tried to move as quick as I did with the stone off my lap, but getting this announcement right in the middle of my load attempt hosed me.  When I dropped the stone and tried to relap it, it just wasn't happening.  My tacky was shot, and I was most likely fried.

Biggest lesson is that I need to learn how to do stones.  I can see the exact moment in the video where my technique goes to hell, and if I had my arms over the stone versus under, I could've hit it, since I lapped it just fine.  


Still took first place.  Apparently, I still loaded the first 3 stones fast enough to maintain my first place standing.

This was an awesome show.  I still have some things to work on, but ultimately I am satisfied with my performance.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


I am constantly bombarded with super helpful people that are more than willing to tell me what “the point” is of something.  “The whole point of squats is to go below parallel to hit your hamstrings”, “the whole point of farmer’s walks is to train your grip”, etc etc, you all know the story.  We must realize that what we are observing here is a question of philosophy, not physiology, and that one’s philosophy can in turn LIMIT one’s ability to achieve their goals.

Philosophers were still going to make horrible rulers Plato, get over it
We must not confuse “A” point with “THE” point when it comes to training and exercise.  The entire notion that anything can have “the” point is an existential argument that presupposes some sort of objective ideal form, shared and common among all people.  This simply is not the case with reality.  As painful as it is for us to understand it, there is a world that exists independent of our interpretation of it, and in turn, there are people that think, act, and believe differently than we do.  In acknowledging this, we must understand that there cannot ever be “THE” point, but simply “A” point.
Stoner philosophy aside, the meat and potatoes of this argument is that a training movement can never have only 1 point.  Squats CAN train the hamstrings by going below parallel, but they can also train the quads by going ABOVE parallel.  Also, squats can train the ability to recover from a snatch or a clean.  OR, squats can help develop leg drive on an overhead press.  OR, squats can help condition one for heavy weights while doing a yoke walk.  OR, squats can be used as a conditioning tool during a WOD.  OR, squats can be used to train one to endure misery through long, brutal drop sets.  Squats, in turn, can have many many points, and despite one’s acceptance of the LEGITIMACY of these points, these points still remain.

Image result for squats on a bosu ball
*SIGH*...Why must you mock me?
When we refuse to acknowledge the existence of these other points, all we serve to do is limit our ability to progress.  So often, I have witnessed a trainee who REFUSED to ever squat to anything below “ATG” because, in their mind, that was “THE” point of squats.  In turn, I also witnessed a trainee who never could squat more than 225lbs, because they could never get a bigger load on their backs to train how to better brace for heavier weights because their enforced depth limited their capacity.  Other times, we witness trainees who desire the conditioning benefits of crossfit yet refuse to use a kip in their pull-ups because “that’s not THE point of pull-ups”, and it is THESE trainees who in turn get little out of the WOD.
Other trainees end up stumped when it comes to assistance work, for they only know of the one way to perform a movement.  A few years back, I released a blog post demonizing the use of full ROM in training that received a massive amount of flak from many trainees who could not grasp the benefit of stopping reps short in order to train different parts of a ROM.  Then, the “Spoto Press” came about, and everything changed.  One observes the paradigm shift here, where a movement must be renamed/rebranded such that this movement’s “THE” point still remains intact. 

Image result for Eric Spoto press
If you don't touch your chest in training, you'll NEVER bench 720lbs...unless that's exactly what you did
That’s just madness.  We don’t need to rename a movement everytime there is a slight change in the angle or a shift in emphasis.  Why not simply be a rational human being and understand that the movement works for YOU, not that you work for the movement.  The only loyalty we owe to form and technique is based on its ability to obtain our goals, and a movement that fails to meet our goals does not deserve our consideration.
Never get trapped in believing there is ever any point to any of this aside from meeting your goals.  At the end of the day, it’s just lifting heavy weight.