Saturday, October 31, 2015


Ah, the 1 rep max.  The Holy Grail of strength training.  This is what we live and die for, what all of our training amounts to, what all the hours in the gym are building up to: the ability to lift the heaviest weight we possibly can for 1 rep.  This is what separates the men from the boys, and with every additional 45lb plate you can put on the side, you know you’re becoming something.

I mean, if you’re a powerlifter, maybe.  Otherwise, why do you care so much about it?  I’ll tell you: because it’s the highest number you can quote when someone asks you “How much do you lift?”  You can take pride when your bench starts with a 3, or your deadlift starts with a 6.  Random bystanders will be agog over your prowess that you can hit THAT number, jaws and panties will equally be dropped, and you will officially be “the man”.

But are you strong?

This too I suppose

We’ve once again witnessed the false conflation of numbers equating to strength, in doing so failing to recognize all the factors that contribute to a 1 rep max.  Yes, you need to strength to be there to hit high numbers, but other things, such as: shortening the ROM, peaking, increasing efficiency of motor unit recruitment, learning how to use more muscles, manipulation of bodyweight/bloat, etc etc all contribute.  It is entirely possible to increase your 1rm by vast amounts with increasing your strength in the slightest.  Dave Tate remarks about this phenomenon constantly, mentioning how he can add 50lbs to someone’s bench after meeting them one time by teaching them HOW to bench.  This is super cool if you need to hit a lift for a powerlifting meet…but it’s not making you stronger.

In the pursuit of a greater 1rm, many trainees forget that their real goal is to get STRONGER.  They believe the 1rm to be a manifestation of strength, but quickly forget their intent and mistake the metric for the goal.  This is why “beginner programs’ comprised of low volume and high frequency with low reps have become so in fashion: it allows a beginner to rapidly peak their strength and observe a very fast rise in their 1rm.  However, this is also why these programs tend to stall pretty rapidly and leave a beginner in a scarcely better position than where they started.  Strength was not built, it was simply realized.

Not like this

It is also for this reason that programs that actually BUILD strength are so looked down upon by beginner trainees: there is no sexy fast acceleration toward an increased 1rm.  I have a confession to make; I hang out on reddit’s fitness forum and delight in recommending 5/3/1 to beginners just to watch my post get downvoted and insulted by people who have accomplished nothing in fitness.  Why does this happen?  Because 5/3/1 (and other programs with logical progression schemes, assistance work, sustainable progression, etc) builds strength but does not peak it.  It is criticized for being “slow” because trainees fail to realize that their 1rm not rapidly accelerating is not an indication of slowly gaining strength, but instead a sign that one is actually BUILDING the strength required TO peak.

Strength takes a long time to build.  It’s the least fun part about getting big numbers.  Technique can be corrected within minutes, leverages can be changed in weeks, new equipment can be bought instantly, but strength is just a constantly, dull, slow, monotonous grind.  If one is observing rapid gains in numbers, one must be honest with themselves that these are most likely NOT the results of strength increasing, but instead an example of improved proficiency in the movement, or some other factor starting to click.  It can be super exciting, but we must remember our goal here.

If this kid gets it, why can't you?

If you are a beginner, quit worrying about your 1rm, quit testing it, and just start grinding away.  Hitting a 2 plate bench after peaking, setting the world’s highest arch, retracting your shoulder blades as far back as they can go and getting your ROM down to 2” will simply not result in as impressive of an result (both for your physique AND your strength) than if you can hit cold, on an average training day, after having not trained the movement in a while.  One requires squeezing out every last ounce of strength available for one final push, and the other is a demonstration of an ever present baseline of strength that could be peaked and turned into something monstrous.  Plug away diligently, make your progress within a variety of rep ranges, and recognize when strength is actually being built. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015


(Author's Note: I tend to write a lot of these entries in advance and post them weekly.  I wrote this a week before my last competition, wherein I most likely tore my ACL [consult with ortho pending].  This all still applies, but it explains the context.)

Dear readers, your fearless author has overcome yet another ridiculous injury in his quest toward being bigger and stronger.  This was actually a 2 parter, and mainly the result of stubbornness and idiocy.

Many of you who are familiar with my training history are aware that I tend to get a recurring lowerback/glute injury about once every 6 months.  The very first time this happened, I couldn’t walk for 2 weeks and I had to give up on deadlifting for 3 years.  It’s now gotten to the point where it’s more a minor annoyance than anything else, as the injury happens less frequently and I’ve become (somewhat) smarter about handling it.

Well…I received this injury 2 weeks ago as of my writing this while performing a set of 2 mat high mat pulls with 600lbs+chains.  It was after the second rep, on the concentric for the third.  I was smart at the time and decided to shut down training.  However, I was an idiot a week later when I decided to try to do some speed farmer’s walks and really focus on exploding off the starting line.  I went from semi-recovered to completely relapsed.  I then thought I could “fix” the injury by performing 3 minutes of reverse hypers 3 times a day.  The next morning, I once again could not walk.

Things looked bad, and though I am now recovered (and will be competing at the end of this week), I felt it necessary to share with you the stages of being injured.  Much like the stages of grieving, it may help you process your own injuries and, for those of you that have never been injured before, you know what to look forward to.  This is pretty much going to be first person perspective, with what goes through my mind during these times.


God I love that show


“Was that my injury?  Nah, probably not.  I’m sure It’s fine.  I’ll just rack the weight just to be safe, but I bet I’m fine.”

*5 Minutes later*


Now, keep in mind that this stage tends to only be realized by those who have ALREADY been injured before.  I find that many new lifters have the opposite problem, and assume ALL pain is an injury.  I’m the opposite, and try to assume all pain is fine.  In reality though, yeah, it’s an injury.  Your best bet is to accept it as soon as possible, because the quicker you accept that you are injured, the faster you move on to rehab.


I mean, yeah, but I suppose he means soon

“Oh god, what if this is it?  What if I finally did too much?  Is my lifting career over?”

There’s no shame in these thoughts…right?  Yeah, it’s probably normal.  But seriously, panic is pretty normal right after an injury.  Keep in mind, you’re still jacked up from the training session, adrenaline is running high and you’re like a wounded animal.  Try to keep calm and composed.  I try to get ice on the injury ASAP.  I know that it’s trendy right now to debate if ice even does anything, but it worked just fine in the past, and once again, getting ice on the injury is all about ACCEPTING that you are injured.  You gotta get out of the denial crap fast so that you can start recovering.  I have wasted so much time trying to pretend like I was fine when I really just needed to BE injured and on the way to recovery.


For my younger readers, you NEED to see this movie.  The Hulk has nothing on this for rage

“Goddamnit, why did I have to go for one more rep?  If I had just stopped 2 seconds earlier, I’d be fine.  Why am I so stupid?”

Like I said, many parallels to the stages of grieving.  We’re basically grieving for our body.  Anger is natural to feel, but it’s also illogical.  Injuries don’t just happen (barring freak accidents), they are the accumulation of abuse that peak at one point.  Your injury was most likely inevitable, and if didn’t happen in this workout, it would have happened at the next.  Additionally, realize you are being angry, and try not to take it out on others, especially loved ones/training partners. 

You’re going to be an asshole while you’re injured.  Try to minimize it as much as you can, because you may need these people to get you some ice or nachos.

Also note that sometimes anger and panic switch on each other in terms of order.  You’ll most likely actually alternate between the two for quite a while.


Sometimes, even when you win, you lose

“You know, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.  It might just be time to hang it up. I don’t really need to compete/do deadlifts/squats/bench/yoke walk/whatever it was that got me injured anyway.  Maybe I’ll just lift weights, or do bodybuilding or something.”

It’s very easy to think that this stage is a sign of maturity: we’re accepting the injury at full value and ready to move on.  In reality though, this is just another form of grieving over the injury, and a rush to attempt to get “closure”.  It’s much easier to just quit than it is to rise and overcome.  If/when you get to this stage, you need to recognize that it’s not the end, and just your mind screwing with you again. 

Almost all injuries are recoverable, so long as the willpower is there.  Brandon Lilly shattered both of his knees and came back to squat.  Matt Kroczaleski and Dave Tate have amazing injury lists and continued to compete/train in some fashion (Dave having recently recovered from a hip replacement and is STILL killing it in the weight room).  Examples are abound everywhere. 

Additionally, this stage can last a LONG time.  I spent 3 years in this stage after my first major back/glute injury, and had sworn off deadlifts that entire time.  In truth, I was too damn young to have written off an entire movement/future in competition over one injury, and it took a massive kick in the ass to get me back into it, but eventually I moved on, and the sooner you can do that, the better.


Christ all of my references are old

“Hey…I can still move a little.”

Now the fun part.  We’ve made peace with the fact that, yes, we are injured, and we seriously contemplated hanging it all up and taking up roller blading.  Then, one day, we realize that we’re not dead yet and that maybe there’s a chance we can come back from this.  THIS moment is crucial toward recovery, and it’s why it’s so vital to get over the initial shock/denial/anger quickly, as the sooner we are ready to heal, the faster we can get to healing.

Rehab at this point needs to be incredibly rudimentary.  I’m all for pushing the body as quickly as it is ready to be pushed, but the key there is that it needs to be READY first.  If we just jump right back to the same poundages that got us hurt, we’re going to really do some damage.

Take some time to replicate the movement pattern that got you hurt in the first place.  Perform this slowly, with no additional resistance.  Find out WHERE within the ROM you feel pain. 

Oh right, everywhere

Now for the counter-intuitive part: keep moving through the painful part of the ROM.

Don’t explode through it: move slowly and intentionally.  You’re trying to restore function and ROM to the injured part of your body.  Many people tend to avoid re-inflicting pain upon themselves under the impression that this is necessary to promote healing, but all it does it train the body to NOT move through this plane.  This is why many people who employ an active campaign of heavy resting find that, though they are painfree once they are “healed”, as soon as they re-attempt the movement that got them hurt in the first place, they feel pain.  The body “healed” under the pretense that it would never need to perform a squat/deadlift/whatever again.  By keeping the motor pattern constant through the healing process, the body learns that it needs to heal while still being able to function.

This is going to be incredibly light and boring rehab.  My usual approach is 5x10 of slow bodyweight squats for hamstring injuries as an example, and I’ll progress to 3x20, 2x30, and eventually 1x50, gradually increasing speed and focusing on maintaining ROM.


Like this, but if all 32 flavors were just pain and being married to a Kardashian

“I’m feeling 70% healed…maybe 72%.”

If you’re diligent and smart with your rehab, it won’t be long until you move from bodyweight to weighted work again.  Usually, this is still a slowish transition.  I’ll go from the bodyweight squats to putting a bare barbell on my back and sticking with the same reps I got last time for bodyweight work (so 1x50 most likely).  From here, I try to progress to 100 in one set as quickly as I can get there, and then the goal is to get 100 with no rest within the set.  Usually, once I can do this, I feel ready to start putting weight back on the bar again.

However, just because your body is healed, there is a good chance your mind is broken.  Injuries suck, they are traumatic, and it’s typical to be worried about getting injured again, especially if you’re doing the same thing that got you hurt in the first place.  Some lifters are so weary of this that they won’t even watch videos of OTHER lifters getting injured, because it puts the bad juju in their head. 

So definitely don't look at that

This requires a careful balance of being smart but game at the same time.  You have to be ready to push your body, but also ready to back off when it starts pushing back.  Thankfully, through all of the rehab you should have a firm mastery of pain in regards to the injured location, and an ability to recognize the difference between when you are pushing the area enough versus too much.  You need to trust the process and get back on the horse quickly.  If you let the weights and movements scare you for too long, you’ll never get back to where you were.


I mean...maybe you shouldn't have said no no no to rehab

“Oh wow, I don’t hurt anymore.”

That quote actually speaks to a few layers of reality, because after you get injured, you’re honestly going to forget what it was like to live pain free.  The majority of an injury can heal quickly, and a muscle can be useable soon afterwards, but a lot of times little nagging pain will be there for a LONG time.  This is another one of the reasons why people spend so long avoiding movements after an injury: they assume any sign of pain is an indication of a lack of recovery.  You’ll probably be “98%” for months before you finally get to 100.

But, like everything else, you learn to live with the pain, to the point that it’s barely noticeable.  It’s a little nagging twinge every once in a while, and you learn some tricks about getting out of your car a certain way to avoid moving through the ROM or brushing your teeth at a specific angle to not bug your shoulder.  You continue to slug it out in the weight room, giving it your all, and usually don’t even notice it once the warm-up is over and the weight gets heavy.

And then, one day, while making a sandwich, you realize that you didn’t feel a little surge of fire in your forearm when you opened the mayonnaise jar this time.  You stand there dumbfounded in your kitchen, moving your arm through a bunch of planes of movement and trying out things that would always trigger pain, and realize that, at some point, you recovered completely. 

Though the moment of the injury was dramatic, the moment of recovery is lackluster.  And sometimes, if you’re super lucky, you injury something else while healing from another injury, and you focus so much on the new pain that you forget the old one. 

Friday, October 16, 2015


(I apologize to my regular readers for the rudimentary level of the following post, but this is just driving me crazy and I can’t take it anymore.  My hope is that this blog post can just be copied and pasted in the future to those that it applies to.)

Dear Internet Fitness Forum Member,

You are NOT a powerlifter.  I see your “powerlifting” flair next to your reddit screenname, I saw you call yourself a “recreational powerlifter” in a thread, I’ve witnessed you talking about your powerlifting routine, and all in all, it seems you are confused.


You are NOT a powerlifter.  Until you compete in powerliftING, you are not a powerlifter.  You are simply someone lifting weights.

Powerlifter is NOT a prestigious term.  All it takes to be a powerlifter is to compete in ONE meet.  If you can lift 45lbs in the squat, bench press and deadlift, have a free Saturday, own a singlet and are willing to pay money to register/join a federation, you can be a powerlifter.  There are 13 year old powerlifters and 80 year old powerlifters.  There are small ones, fat ones, strong ones, weak ones, male, female, etc etc.

Ah yes, the prestigious powerlifter

This is why it’s ludicrous that you decided to brand yourself with this unearned title: it’s not even a title worth stealing.  You’ve decided to become a poser over something that over 99% of the population doesn’t even know exists, and have meanwhile robbed the “glory” out of the ridiculously small portion of the population that actually competes.  And you’re making them look bad by doing so.

And really, they don't need help looking bad

“But I train like a powerlifter” you say.  In having such a mentality, you demonstrate just how little you know about the sport, and thus why you are not suited to call yourself a powerlifter.  Despite what the internet will have you believe, people that compete in powerlifting train in a massive variety of ways, some completely opposite of each other.  Hell, in my very first powerlifting meet, I was doing DoggCrapp for the 2 months before the contest.  Some folks do the name brand programs yes (Sheiko, 5/3/1, RTS, Westside, etc) while others just lift weights, do what their high school football coach tells them to do, cross over from other sports in the off season, etc.  There is no universal way that a powerlifter trains, so no, you don’t “train like one”.  You train like a guy who read too much on the internet and decided he didn’t want to be labeled a “bodybuilder’.

Wanting to be strong is cool.  Wanting to be strong in only 3 lifts is kind of weird, but it’s not the craziest thing in the world.  However, wanting that does not make you a powerlifter until you actually step up on the platform and post a for real total.  It doesn’t matter how much elitefts gear you buy, how many smolov cycles you run, how much you constantly call out bodybuilders for being weak (which, btw, the real bodybuilders would most likely crush your gym lifts), how you can quote Louie Simmons word for word, how you have a shrine to Ed Coan, etc etc.  All this does is make you a powerlifting FAN.  When you go to watch a football game at some guy’s house and see that he is wearing a football jersey, knows all the stats of all the players, can throw a tight spiral in the backyard while the burgers cook, owns an autographed helmet, etc, none of this convinces you that this person is a football PLAYER, so why would it be the same for powerlifting?

I mean...dude is wearing a helmet.  He's probably legit.

Powerlifting enthusiast, strength advocate, squatter, deadlifter and bencher, use whatever title you want, but use the title you have earned.  If you love powerlifting so much, go out and actually compete so you can contribute something to the sport (mainly your money to the federation and your participation to booster the numbers of competitors).  If you can’t do that, then clearly you don’t care enough about powerlifting to want to call yourself a powerlifter.

Also, forget all of that anyway and go be a strongman.

Monday, October 12, 2015


This marks my 8th strongman competition.  This one provided a series of unique challenges.  Not only did I not actually train with my partner for the competition (he lives about 3.5 hours away from me: we just knew each other from previous contests) but I also got pretty seriously injured training FOR the contest, and had to put training on the backburner while I healed.  And then, to top THAT all off, I got even more seriously injured DURING the contest.  But I don't want to spoil anything for you, look onward for details!


I have a recurring lowerback/glute injury.  First happened in 2008, and flares up about 1-2 times a year.  It hit about 3 weeks out from the contest, very minor twinge during a set of mat pulls.  I took it light for the week, went to do some speed farmer’s after 6 days, and then REALLY f**ked it.  I got pissed off after that, and did 3 sets of 3 minutes of reverse hypers later that day to try to aggressively heal the glute.  The next morning, I literally couldn’t walk.  It was like the glute had fallen asleep, but instead of being numb, it sent a wave of fire down my leg with every step. 

I could train my upperbody fine for the most part, but no vertical pressing, only horizontal.  Lower body was pretty FUBAR.  All I could do was rehab exercises for a week (pretty much just leg raises) while sitting on a heating pad 8 hours a day and popping Naproxen.  However, the week of the contest, I felt about 98%.  I’d still wake up stiff in the morning, but after an hour or 2 I had full mobility.  I knew it just meant I was going to have to warm up more.

Also, I picked up some Rehband warm-up pants to keep the area warm/supported.


Up until the injury training was going very well.  This contest came up quick on my radar and I only ended up with 5 weeks to train, many of them spent rehabbing an injury.  I was able to train for every event (axle clean and press, farmer’s, front carry, yoke and deadlift), and got up to a 750lb yoke walk for 32’, very fast foot speed on the farmer’s, good pick-ups on the front carry, and decent for the clean and press.  Still couldn’t master the continental in time for the contest, so something to work on in the future.


I ended up moving up a weight class since there was no one else but my partner and I in the lightweights.  The only area I saw this being a real issue was for the axle clean and press.

EVENT 1: Axle clean and press (Clean each rep, 245lbs, 90 seconds)

We were told we’d be using the Ironmind axle, so that’s what I warmed up with.  I was having my partner help me with the continental, since I had never done one in contest before, but the damndest thing kept happening: everytime I tried to catch the bar on my stomach, it was ending up on my shoulders.  Even at 233lbs in warm-ups, I was catching the bar.  I figured I’d be good for a few reps at 245 at that rate.

Then, as we were setting up for the event, the promoter had us set up for the Rogue axle.  As soon as I grabbed it I realized there was zero play in the axle, whereas the Ironmind one still had some.  I was completely hosed.  I kept catching the bar high on my stomach/chest, but couldn’t get it turned over.  I tried a bunch of times before tagging my partner in, who managed 2 reps on his own.  First time I ever zeroed an event.  However, Kalle Beck was able to give me a great tip about how I was holding the axle (in my fingertips versus my palm), which was why I wasn’t turning it over any.  Once I’m able to practice the axle again, that’s going to be huge.  Once again why I find competition so valuable: you learn a ton.

Event 2: Farmer’s walks (245 per hand, 25meters)

Was training with 185 for this, because that was the lightweight weight, but wasn’t worried about 245.  We were told we’d be using some blue tank handles, which bonked your shins something fierce and had some sharpass knurling.  Then, when it was time to go for the event, we were using Rogue handles.  Once again, the old switcheroo.

The Rogue handles we were using were old, the powder coating had all worn off, and the remnants of tape around the handle meant to give it some grip just slid around a bunch.  I dropped the handles twice over the course of 25m, whereas I have never dropped a farmer’s in my life beforehand.   I made sure to get some quick pick ups to eliminate wasted time, just to watch my partner (and pretty much everyone else) drop the handles 2 or 3 times.  We made it before time ran out, but came in 4th here.  At least we were all getting screwed with the equipment changes.

Event 3: Max weight yoke (775lbs for us) 60’ total (30’ forward, 30’ back)

This was the event I was looking forward to the most, as I’m slow and love heavy stuff. I just practiced pick ups for the warm-up, wasn’t interested in the movement portion, since it was going to be slow.

Event started, I got set up, and was amazed at how light the weight felt on my back.  When I bought my yoke, the guy who built it said it was 120lbs, but I’m starting to think it was heavier, because I hit 750 in training and it felt much heavier.  However, my foot placement was much more wobbly, and someone pointed out to me that this was most likely because we were in a parking lot with uneven flooring.  I dropped the yoke twice, and focused on quick pick-ups each time.  The weight felt so light that I figured I’d much up for lost time just by moving quickly with it.

On the second pick-up, I felt my knee bend the wrong way and heard a pop and some grinding.  I immediately let out several “FUCK!”s and then had the good sense to grab the uprights to slowly let myself fall down to the floor.  I was mobbed by some fellow competitors who quickly got my knee sleeve off, put me in a chair, got me some ice, and offered me all manner of alcoholic beverage.

Thankfully, they suspended our time, and my partner finished the event.  We actually ended up with the second heaviest yoke of the middle weight class, which put us in second for this event.

Events 4 and 5: Stone carry and 495lb deadlift for reps

You’ll forgive me for being brief, but it’s no longer my story at this point.  My partner, by himself, beat out one team on the stone carry and 2 teams on the deadlift.  Dude was a beast, and I was upset since I felt like I was holding him back in the first 2 events and would’ve contributed on these final ones, but we still took 3rd out of 4th while both giving up 75lbs.  Truly a warrior’s day.

Current injury status:

I’m fairly certain I tore some ligaments in my knee.  I am in zero pain, but the knee has no stability whatsoever.  It is presently swollen to about twice it’s normal size, but with a brace on it I can move almost at a normal speed.  I’m keeping positive, using the power of positive thinking to aid the healing process.

Moving forward: I’ve been wanting an off season for a while and now it’s been given to me.  I’m going to invest myself full tilt into a bodybuilding program for my upper body, and do whatever I can get away with for my lower body.  I bought Matt Kroc’s “Insane Training” book, and it has a completely laid out bodybuilding program in it that I’m going to try to copy with my home gym.  If nothing else, I’m stealing the split and the principles behind each day.  Going to clean up my diet a touch to shave off the slight amount of fat I accumulated in this training cycle, and then start adding some quality calories to make the most of this increased volume.  Once I get an actual diagnosis on the knee, I’ll know where I am going from there.

I’m not done yet.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Above all else, the thing that is the most important in regards to building size and strength is time.  Programming is dandy, technique is neat, nutrition is nifty and intensity is invaluable, but you’re simply not going to get big and strong without putting in some solid years of lifting.  And, of course, this is an affront to our instant gratification society.  We want results NOW, we want accolades NOW, we want to be noticed for our effort NOW.
It is from this that we now witness the phenomenon among junior trainees of prioritizing results that can be achieved quickly over those that require time.  Enter: mobility. 

Not illegally though...god, I'm already so burnt out from campaign season
Ah yes, mobility, with its siren’s call to the unaccomplished.  Way back in the era of yesteryear, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and Paul Anderson was drinking their milk, it was assumed that any individual engaged in some manner of athletics already possessed mobility.  This was because, as children, we engaged in “play”, wherein “moved” our bodies through space playing various games and participating in outdoor activities.  This play went on to become sports that were played from elementary through high school, after which time an individual either continued their education through college and ideally played their sport there as well, or they put their mobility to use getting drafted in a war, where they could hop into a foxhole and slit some throats with some impressive displays of mobility.
In our current era of increased childhood lethargy, where one’s entire youth can be summed up by the amount of level 60 characters they possess in World of Warcraft, mobility is a rare commodity.  However, scarcity has been falsely conflated with value, and many trainees have passionately dedicated themselves to the pursuit of achieving the greatest possible mobility they can achieve.

In this photo, who has more mobility, and WHO is about to get a spinning piledriver laid on them?
Why?  Because unlike size and strength, increased mobility can be achieve quickly, yet still impress the unaware and unaccomplished.  Why bother achieving the goal (getting bigger and stronger) when we can instead simply achieve the mechanism that is part of achieving the goal?  When all else fails, simply move the goalpost.
This in turn has created a culture of insanity.  Observe and witness the comments bemoaning squat depth of videos that feature massive and powerful lifters.  The critics fail to realize that the training is clearly working by evidence of the results, and instead believe that the trainee progresses in SPITE of his methods.
In contrast, we have trainees that pride themselves on the depth of their squat.  They squat below parallel, ATG, as low as humanly possible, they “bury that shit”…and are unimpressive.  Their physique is lacking, as is their strength.  They have no actual results to speak of.  Why?  Because strength and size take a significant amount of time to build, and mobility doesn’t.  This is clearly evidence by how quickly they developed the ability to squat “ATG” and how minimal a difference it has made TO their physique.

How do people keep posting this and not realize the implications of it?!
Focusing your time and energy on getting a deeper squat is akin to a high school virgin perfecting their post coital pillow talk: you’re still not getting any.  Meanwhile, do we observe the top athletes in the sport worried about this nonsense? 
Olympic lifters squat deep because they HAVE to.  They are training to perfect the catch of the snatch and clean.  In turn, they squat as deep as they need in order to put themselves in the position to get stronger on these movements.  If a deeper squat equaled a stronger lift, wouldn’t these athletes stand each foot on a box so that they could squat even DEEPER than ATG?  Wouldn’t we simply keep the bar weight the same and increase squat depth as much as possible?

Or perhaps a redesign of the squat shoe is in order
Powerlifters are the only athletes that compete in a sport where the squat IS a judged lift (barring certain “Squatlifts” in strongman, but we’ll get into that).  Surely, if we want to know how to develop the strongest squat, we look to those who are concerned with making the strongest squat, no?  Once again, why is it NOT the case that competitive powerlifters are doing everything possible to increase squat depth?  Why is it that many powerlifters are content to simply squat to the depth required in a competition?  Why are some powerlifters so blasphemous that they even squat ABOVE depth?  Why is it that those powerlifters who make use of Olympic style squats only squat as deep as needed ON these squats?
Strongman competitors have to be strong in a variety of movements…and some don’t even squat.  They can’t even find a place to fit it into the routine.  Some only perform front squats, others low bar powerlifting squats, other high bar squats, there is no consensus, rhyme or reason to be found.  Don’t these Neanderthals KNOW that they should be striving to squat as deep as possible to get the most gains they can out of the movement?  Don’t they realize they are robbing themselves of the limitless potential found in squatting until your hip crease is 4” below the bottom of your shoes?

PSH, weak depth.  Big Z should be ashamed of himself.
And do I really need to bring up bodybuilders and squatting?  Those guys are going to feel pretty silly with their tiny legs when they aren’t squatting as deep as possible.
Dear God, why is it that the only people that seem to care about squatting as deep as possible are the people who AREN’T trying to get as big and strong as possible?  Why is it that the people who need the MOST out of their squats aren’t trying to squat the deepest?  Do the denizens of the internet have some sort of crazy secret that the top athletes in the sport have no idea about?

No one cares how deep you can squat.  All that matters are results.  If you’re not getting them, do something different.