With a new year looming, I figure why not provide a vector for those in need. In truth, the title for this blog entry comes from the comment of someone who read my “experience of an oaf” post, who remarked that they were a big fan of my “brute force and ignorance” approach to training. As much as I disdain attempts to summarize complex ideas into bite sized sound bites, it struck me that I had probably never seen a more accurate synopsis of what I am about. It rang true to such an extent that I was upset I hadn’t thought to name the blog that in the first place. And so with that, why not dive a little bit further to explore how we got here, and what it means for the future.
I'm normally more a Juggernaut man, but the Blob seems a little more appropriate here
I’m going to cop to this; I am intentionally ignorant. I practice ignorance, and have learned to be ignorant in the face of access to a wide variety of information. However, when people view the end result of this, they seem to interpret this to mean that I’ve simply not been exposed to the information that is available on training. People will see my expressed views on training and do me the service of linking me to some pubmed abstract, or ask if I saw the latest youtube guru’s thesis on rep scheme, or the inexplicable proof of the exact amount of growth a natural lifter can obtain, etc etc. Yes, of course I’ve seen them; I saw them all when they came out 10 years ago. And before that, I read the ones that came out 10 years before that.
I saw all these things, and I lived my life by them…and made the worst progress ever. I made the exact same mistakes all these people linking me are in the process of making and don’t even realize it; trying to train by the information dictated in these studies which may not actually apply to me in my current situation. What was I really trying to do? I was looking for the shortcut of course. I was looking for the way to optimize my training and eek out the maximal amount of growth with the minimal amount of effort and squeeze those gains out for all that they were worth. What was I missing? The fact that, even IF optimization was possible, the net gain between optimal training and suboptimal training is so microscopically small that it’s statistically insignificant. Results simply take time to achieve, but know what is great about that? It means everything works; you just have to try!
A body built with methods that don't work
It’s the truth, and everyone hates to hear it. It’s really really hard to train wrong. “But what about bro-splits?!” you scream? For one, you sound stupid; don’t call anything a “bro-split”, but secondly, are you referring to the way that EVERYONE trained in the 80s and 90s? The very split you simultaneous shame by referring to it as “bro” anything but also praise because it explicitly does exactly what it’s meant to do and develops “bro muscles”? Wanna know what happens when you follow it for 10 years? You get bigger and stronger. Wanna know what happens when you follow HIT for 10 years? You get bigger and stronger. Westside Barbell? Yup. DoggCrapp? Uh huh. 5/3/1? You got it. People want you to believe you can train wrong because it benefits THEM to sell you that line of crap, because trying to sell “hard work for a long time” just doesn’t have a good ring to it. And neophytes and zealots online scream at you for not training THEIR way because it damages their psyche to see people succeeding with a method that isn’t theirs.
And here we arrive at “brute force”. It’s not just about ignoring technique and grinding through weak points (although there is plenty of that), but it’s about MAKING things work. Why was my training so bad when I was doing everything “right”? Because there was no heart in it, no spirit; the “human” element was removed. Everything was mechanical and calculated and precise…and I couldn’t stand it. There was no room for passion and emotion, no opportunity to just cut loose and see what I could do, and in turn I was spinning my wheels and not putting in the effort where it needed to happen. And then, I went back to what I “knew” worked…and it worked. And what I knew worked was all of those things I had heard for years from other successful lifters that had, in turn, been declared “broscience” but the internet collective…as though that were a bad thing. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, maybe you’re “doing it wrong”….but who cares? It’s not working. Go make something else work.
Look at that, you CAN get results with only 20 reps of squats; they just have to be done all at once...with your 10rm
You make training work for you; not the other way around. You will things to work. You will recovery to happen, you will muscles to grow, you will injuries to heal; its brute force of the mind. And with enough brute force, it WILL work. And if it’s not working, force it harder. Wanna get a stronger deadlift without deadlifting? You make it happen. Stronger grip while using straps? Make it happen. All those things people say can’t work will work with enough brute force.
For 2018, why not bring a little more ignorance and brute force into your life? How about a year where you forget what you know, do something stupid, and do it so hard that it works? And hey, maybe if it doesn’t work, you can go write-up a study and have it published so everyone else can learn from it?
Hey, here' s a start
Happy New Year!