Sunday, December 31, 2017


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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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Hey, here' s a start

Happy New Year!     

Sunday, December 24, 2017


This one goes out to all of you in internetland.  All of you posting questions about “can I add curls to Starting Strength” or “Can I increase my training max faster on 5/3/1 than the author recommends” or “am I allowed to skip the conditioning work” or “can I go to the gym if I’m sick”, or “can I do this ‘intermediate program’ even though I’m a beginner”.

Please read through this, and pull it up whenever you need.  Please refer it to anyone else who is asking the question.

You have my permission. 

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...sure, go ahead

I am allowing you to do this.  I have come down from Mount Sinai and on these stone tablets you will find your permission.  Here is your get out of jail free card.  Your request has been processed and you are approved. 

…that’s what you wanted right?  This is what you were asking for, no?  Permission to act?  Why else would you be asking?  You knew full well before you asked that the author of the program knew what they were doing when they made the program.  You knew the program worked as written.  But you also knew better, right?  You knew that there was a better way to do it.  Well, maybe you thought you did, so maybe you needed some permission first, so where better to look than the internet?

Are you insane?!  Do you know what kind of people are on the internet?  You didn’t want to believe that an accredited and accomplished coach with decades of experience in churning out successful athletes knew how to write a program, but you’re going to trust some 16 year old named “BigGunz69” to help you achieve your max potential?  What’s wrong with you?!  You’re not doing “if dad says no, ask mom”, you’re doing “if dad says no, ask a homeless junkie”.  If you’re just going to keep asking around until someone gives you permission, for god’s sake just go ahead and do it.

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Crap, NOW who is going to give me permission?

This really isn’t as hard as you’re wanting to make it out to be.  Look; those coaches know exactly what they’re doing.  They put together a very solid basic program that will give you a base to work from when you set up your training.  But you honestly can’t capture “hard work” through a series of sets and reps.  This is where YOU come into play.  When you bust your ass and sweat and grind and exert yourself, you become stronger.  And in truth, if you’re just going through the motions because the program doesn’t capture your passion, it won’t matter how expertly put together it is, because YOU aren’t putting in the human element.

But at the same time, quit changing the programs and then calling them what they were, because you do a disservice to the authors.  And this is why every time you ask for permission, the answer is “no”.  “Hey, I’m doing 5/3/1, but I want to replace deadlifts with farmers walks”, great; you aren’t doing 5/3/1 then.  Don’t expect it to work like 5/3/1 does, don’t apply the same rules as 5/3/1, and don’t ask the author of 5/3/1 what he thinks about your mutation.  Just do it, document your success or failure with it, and put it in your toolbox.

And while I’m ranting, because I don’t even know where I’m going with this, why is it the same people that are asking for permission to change the program ALSO use the program as some sort of shield against change?  “Hey, I’m getting really out of breath on my sets of 3x5 for squats on Starting Strength.  Could I do 3x3 instead?  That way, I wouldn’t be doing so many reps.”  Well hey, have you considered doing some conditioning work so that you won’t get out of breath?  “I don’t really want to change the program by adding in conditioning work.”  Oh really?  Are you sure you really just don’t want to change the program by doing something harder?

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Conditioning?  *Psh*  I'm trying to get STRONG. Can't do conditioning if I wanna get strong.

And that’s fundamentally what this asking for permission thing boils down to; people want to do what they want to do, but they want to make sure they’re still guaranteed the same results they would have if they would have followed the program as it.  Nuh uh.  It doesn’t work that way.  You don’t get to be a pioneer and travel the well trodden path.  If you’ve been visited by the good idea fairy, you have to take responsibility if you follow it and it fails.  But that also means you get to take full credit if it succeeds.  And isn’t it funny that all the people who ask for permission are all too willing to say “I’m running Cube/Juggernaugt/5/3/1/etc” when they unveil their abomination of a program, but if they actually experience any success they are all too willing to pat themselves on the back for how smart they are, rather than saying “Man, it’s a good thing I was following 5/3/1 all along, because if left to my own devices, I’d be too stupid to figure this out?”  Holy crap that was a long sentence.

Fundamentally, the choice is yours.  You can be the person who asks permission, or the person who gives it.  My father taught me at a young age that it’s far easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, and though a terrible lesson to teach your own children because they will use it against you, it’s been a fantastic guiding principle in my life.  You can keep asking permission in the hopes that someone will allow you the opportunity to succeed or you can just go out and make your own decision and suffer the consequences.

In either case, you have my permission.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Titan Fitness is making a splash in the lifting world by offering high quality products at bargain basement prices.  Theories abound on how they are managing to somehow sell products for less than the cost of materials, to include cheap foreign labor, drug money, mafia fronts and magic (my money is still on the mafia front), but however they’re doing it, people are getting in while the getting is good, and I’m no exception.  I have recently come into possession of their 12” strongman log and the T-3 Short yoke, and wanted to give my first impressions for those of you interested in buying.

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Sadly, Titan's website doesn't have the charm of NYBB

12” Log

You get what you pay for, and shipping is no exception.  When the log arrived at my doorstep, the box was partially shredded but in good repair.  

I have pissed off a LOT of mailcarriers

Once I unloaded the log, I found that the pipping on one of the cut outs was slightly bent and that there were some small dings around the body, similar to what happens to a car panel when hit by a door.  All cosmetic, no structural issues.

The welding, on the other hand, is clearly spotty.  I have never welded before, and I’m not the best judge of it, but even I can notice things like when a weld doesn’t go all the way around.  For the inner and outer plates of the log, the welders welded 3 spots to secure it to the log body.  The handles are mostly welded all the way around on the log, as are the pins.  Compare this to a CFF log, where the whole thing has welds all the way around, and you can see where Titan slacks compared to the next cheapest log on the market (yes; I have an affinity for cheap things).  I have had a welder/strongman give me his opinion on the log, and he’s of the belief that you shouldn’t use it for a competition where it’s going to get dropped and abused but that, for a training log, it should have no issues.  I may end up taking it to a local welder for a quote just for peace of mind.

We mentioned the handles briefly, but let me go on further; oh my god, the handles.  It seems like every other log on the market treated the handles like an afterthought.  Some companies installed handles that were way too thick and spaced too far apart (Rogue 10”), some use dual handles, which are very silly and could result in your hands getting trapped on a bail out (CFF log), some are super slick, and pretty much none are knurled.  Titan learned from the mistakes of their competitors, and installed some solid, long, KNURLED log handles.  They’re hollow and feel slightly cheap, but for once you can get a solid grip on a log.  However, training on this log and moving to a slick log could be a concern.

Handles shown here, along with the bent pipping mentioned earlier

On the topic of slickness, the Titan log doesn’t feel particularly slick compared to others for me, but does have a very solid and impressive powder coat to it.  Titan does a great job with powder coating, once again, no idea how they afford it.

The Titan logo is cut into only one side of the log.  Some were concerned that this would make the log feel unbalanced, but I haven’t noticed any issues.

Cut outs are very well done.  Huge spacing so that you don’t cut up your forearms on the clean.

The website says the log is 90lbs, everyone that has weighed it got 100lbs.  I stuck with everyone elses’ word and didn’t weigh it personally.


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There are SO many of these

Hell yeah you should!  At $165, you’d be a sucker not to.  Yeah, the CFF log feels more solidly built, but it’s also about $60 more on sale, and it’s 3” smaller.  Trying to find a cheaper 12” log is impossible.


It is honestly a weird feeling building the very thing that once crippled you

Much like the log, the yoke arrived in slightly damaged boxes.  I say boxes (plural) because the uprights arrive in 1 box and the feet and crossbar arrive in the other.  What doesn’t arrive is the hitch pins.  I’m not the only one that had this issue, and part of me wonders if Titan is saving money by not shipping all the parts of their products and just banking on people not fighting it.  I ended up buying some hitch pins at a farming supply store, but I also got Titan to send me what I was owed, so no harm either way.

Assembly isn’t too bad, but if you don’t have a 1” socket, get one.  I didn’t have one, and I didn’t try to put it together with 2 adjustable wrenches; I ran out to Home Depot and got the socket.  It’s going to save you a lot of time and effort, as after that, it bolts together pretty easy.  Instructions are monkeyproof. 

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Please don't prove me wrong

Try as I might, I could NOT get the crossbar over one of the uprights while the space shim bracket on the top was in place.  I eventually tried so hard I sheered off one of the plastic knobs that was supposed to hold it to the crossbar.  However, even without it, I experienced zero wobble issues.  The yoke is so well put together structurally that you can be loose at a few points and still have a solid yoke.

Welding is about the same as with the log.  More spots than solid welds all around.  Powder coating is also very well done once again.  The thing looks exactly like a Rogue yoke, except with Ts instead of Rs on it.

I’ve so far taken it up to 705lbs for 50’ walks with zero wobble.  For contrast, the Pitbull econo yoke starts to wobble right around the 400lb mark, and gets worse the more weight you put on.

705 Titan vs 750 pitbull.  Both still good at upsetting neighbors

This yoke also has skis on the feet vs just flat metal, so it slides smoother when you drop it, and makes less hellacious noise.

The crossbar is also near 3” in diameter, compared to the 2” of a Pitbull econo yoke.  The powder coating doesn’t make it slick surprisingly; I needed no athletic tape to keep it in place on my back.


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Told you

Once again, at $30 lower than the next closest competitor and comparing it directly to that (The Pitbull Econo yoke), this is just a no brainer.  Simply comparing them as yokes, the Titan blows it out of the water.  It’s far more stable, it has a wider crossbar, it has far more adjustable settings, it’s much easier to adjust (quick pins vs nut and bolt assembly) and easier to take apart, which means more space economic.  And this isn’t even taking into consideration that the Titan yoke can ALSO be used as squat stands, which opens up its utility even moreso.  I have the short yoke, and at 5’9 I can squat and press out of it, but not do any manner of chins.  If you get the full size yoke, there is no way you’ll be limited.


Hey folks, for those that read all the way to the bottom, 2 days ago this blog turned 5 years old.  Really appreciate all of my readers out there, whether you have been here since the start or tuned in yesterday.  When I started this, I never really thought it would go on for this long or reach as many people as it did.  I have no plans to stop for now, so keep pitching me ideas.  Appreciate all you have done for me, and if we meet in person, be sure to say hi.