Sunday, September 24, 2017

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE OUTSIDE



Dear readers, I have once again ventured out amongst humanity in an 8 day vacation, with 4 days spent in the Disneyworld parks and 4 other days on a Disney cruise.  This has once again given me an opportunity to observe humanity en masse, in many senses of that word, and report back my findings.  Without further ado


-Once again, I am aghast at the obesity epidemic hitting this country.  In fact, as a sad observation, with the cultural melting pot that is Disney, I learned to make the observation that, if someone was obese, they were American and, if someone wasn’t, they didn’t speak English.  This was helpful whenever I needed to ask someone to move out of my way, especially how, most often, the reason someone needed to move was because they were obese.

-The above is especially unfortunate as it relates to children.  These kids don’t stand a chance.  Their parents are doing them a disservice by starting them off so far behind the physical 8 ball, and if you want to know what the worse culprit is, it’s drinkable calories.  My kid eats a ton of junk and stays in good shape because it’s simply difficult to EAT a lot of calories, but you can suck down tons of juice/sodas/slushies/whatever and not even notice it.  That was why I was fat as a kid; Koolaid, but even then I was “90s kid” fat.  These kids are a whole different issue.

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This was pretty much me from ages 4-14

-As I get older, my indulgence in foot seems more variety oriented than quantity.  I’d be at the buffet, get a big plateful of a bunch of different food, eat it all and then contemplate getting more.  Realizing that I’d simply be getting more of what I already had rather than anything different, I saw no reason to make the second trip.  I had already “done it”.  It’s a weird psychological shift for me.

-On that note, I’m also a very simply creature.  I had a meal plan that allowed me to eat at the hotel every night, on their menu was a double bacon angus cheeseburger, and I had it every night after getting back from the parks.  And I looked forward to it every night.

-You can get in a solid workout with zero equipment.  Everyone complaining that they can’t is simply uncreative.

-I stole a page from Josh Bryant when the cruise dumbbells only went up to 50lbs and sat on a flat bench and pressed overhead, then went as high an incline as possible, then slowly worked all the way down to flat bench pressing.  Mechanical advantage dropsets.  Once again, people complaining about the dumbbells “not being heavy enough” simply aren’t creative enough.

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Look at this guy maximizing 135lbs

-I ended up losing 4lbs by the end of the vacation.  Part of this was walking 12 hours a day for the first 4 days, and part of it was, despite the food I had access to being very decadent, it simply wasn’t ALWAYS there.  I think food availability is one of our more critical nutritional issues compared to food quality.

-I engaged in “intermittent fasting”, aka, skipping breakfast, for the first 4 days.  Of course people like it; it’s easier. 

-It’s amazing how being around a bunch of out of shape people does nothing for your own body dysmorphia.  I still went through bouts of feeling too small or too fat over the course of 8 days, and of course that was primarily a result of different lighting/mirrors/photos/etc.  Nothing really changes over 8 days but our minds.

-The common stereotype is that women are insecure about their bodies and men don’t care, but I saw TONS of women just letting it all hang out in super small bikinis and tons of dudes who refused to be at the pool without a shirt on.  I do imagine we are seeing something of a cultural shift.

-It amazes me how many adults eat like children.  I was overjoyed at the amount of fresh veggies made available to me while cruising, and saw many plates that were the typical “brown and gray” of nothing but meat and potatoes.  And yeah, I get it “I’m on vacation”, but part of that experience is your ability to be able to eat all those things that are a pain in the ass to cook and clean.  And really, how many of these people are actually eating differently than they do at home anyway?

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"Hey man, the brownie adds color"

-Gaston wears a stuffed suit with fake muscles.  Come on now!  However, he also has the longest line for character visits, and it’s usually all women.

-I saw a LOT of obese people wearing Disney princess outfits or marvel superhero attire.  The crowning achievement was a dude in a motorized scooter with a batman shirt, a Deadpool tattoo, and a DBZ backpack.  I don’t get it.  I have a Punisher tattoo and wear a LOT of Punisher shirts.  I want to BE the Punisher.  I train hard in these hopes.  I can’t tell who is more deluded.

--Also, that guy in the motorized scooter was walking around later that day.  Don’t get me started on that.

-If you want to get super cut for a photoshoot or something, just walk around Disneyworld for 12 hours in 100 degree heat with a million percent humidity. 

-Rogue should pay some people to NOT wear their shirts.

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Hell, these guys aren't even WEARING the shirt

-My go to snack at parks/fairs is always the giant turkey leg.  Low carb, high protein right?  However, it always seems to be me and some 100lb girls that really enjoy this treat.

-I still can’t get the damn sword out of the stone.


-I like having a kid, because now I can buy all the toy swords and Viking stuff from Epcot under the guise that it’s “for them”.


-I’m starting to think I just don’t get joy out of food any more.  There is rarely something out there that is so delicious that I feel compelled to eat it knowing full well it’s not very beneficial to eat.  Meanwhile, I observe people that shovel copious amounts of garbage in their face in.  Really, how much happiness can a second serving get you that the first didn’t?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

WHERE I FIT IN


Green787878 (I assume Green1-787877 were taken when he made the username) on reddit submitted a question to me the other day.
“I would be interested in hearing how your training has affected your personal life. Such as your discipline and physique - how that affects your relationship with family, friends, co-workers, etc. You've been doing this for a long time so I'm sure you'd have some interesting anecdotes to share.”

I liked the idea of exploring this topic, as it’s something I’ve addressed in round about ways before but never really dove into head on.

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And head on is always the best way to do things

I’ve commented in the past about how my sense of normalcy is fundamentally flawed as a result of my training and lifestyle.  This manifests in ways such as drinking a gallon of water in under an hour at a meeting and having it cause the person leading it so much distress that they called for a bathroom break for MY sake, or how, after rupturing my ACL I didn’t understand why people were making such a big deal about it and how upset they got when I joked about it and told them I was still training.  I am fully aware that I am an outlier and that what I do is not normal, but not so fully aware of to what DEGREE what I do isn’t normal.  I’ve been living like this for so long that I can “forget” how normal humans function.

However, that’s more about how people interact with me, rather than the other way around.  Being fully honest and aware of myself, I am severely lacking in empathy amongst other humans.  Specifically, I have zero understanding or capacity to understand how or why people let adversity deter them from accomplishing their goals.  This isn’t a lack of sympathy, it’s legitimately a lack of empathy; I simply do not grasp this idea.  It ends up manifesting as a lack of sympathy, because people approach me and share their stories and, in my inability to relate, I offer them no solace.

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Still a great movie

Adversity can slow you down, this is absolutely true, but unless it is death, I do not see why it stops you.  In the competition where I ruptured my ACL, tore my meniscus and fractured my patella, I was in Monterrey CA, where there was an awesome aquarium.  As part of the trip to the competition, I told my kid that we’d go to the aquarium the day after the competition.  After I blew out my knee, I went back to my hotel, took a shower, wrapped my knee up in a knee sleeve, woke up the next day and limped around the aquarium with a cane for 4 hours before driving home for another 4.  I made a promise, I had a goal, and I accomplished it.  Yeah, I had to deal with an injury, but I wasn’t dead, so why would I be stopped? 

And the same was true with training; I started Matt Kroc’s 16 week detailed bodybuiding program out of the book “Insane Training” that Monday, since I wanted to do something different while my knee healed.  Saturday was squat day, so I grabbed my squat box, set it as high as I could, and did squats with the buffalo bar for as many reps as I could.  Yeah, it wasn’t much, but it was something.  And then I also trained the whole way through surgical recovery and physical therapy.  A lot of people would just stop training entirely until they were fully healed, and I literally cannot understand WHY they do that.

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Not the first time I've been baffled

I’ve got other stories too that objectively I KNOW are crazy and stupid but emotionally I cannot understand why.  I set a deadlift PR 24 hours after being discharged from the hospital for severe dehydration due to gastroenteritis, woke up at 0445 to lift after rolling over in the middle of the night and dislocating my shoulder, regularly train after only getting 2-3 hours of sleep, etc etc. I don’t think of these things as significant; it’s just getting through life.  People have to put up with way worse crap than I do just to eek out an existence.

Unfortunately, the consequence of making this a habit is that it’s warped my sense of normalcy, so I don’t understand why others find it so weird nor do I understand why THEY don’t do it.  It’ll hurt?  So what: pain is temporary.  So is discomfort, and injury.  It’s nihilistic to be sure, but everything is temporary really.  It means I tend to come across as cold and disconnected when it comes to dealing with a lot of problems and emotions, but on the other side of the coin, I tend to be sought out for objective opinions, decision making, or simply getting stuff done regardless of costs. 

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Much like this; it's cool at first, but eventually people get tired of it

In regards to physique, I’ll try to be a bit more brief, but basically I spend the majority of my social interactions attempting to overcome the presupposed image people generate about me via my physical appearance.  Most people tend to assume I’m some sort of meathead and that I’m gruff and abrasive and intimidating, so in turn I try to tell a joke about every other sentence.  Lots of smiles, lots of levity, and just trying to kill people with kindness.  If I can do that well, I tend to find myself in more advantageous positions compared to my peers, because being larger and in shape does seem to automatically generate some degree of respect compared to being fat or scrawny, and if people think you possess a modicum of intelligence to go with it, it carries you far.

I DO have to contend with a lot of stupid jokes about my size/strength all the time.  Humans like things simple and categorized, and once they’ve categorized something, they like to mock it to minimize it.  People will make dumb creatine jokes or flex in front of me or feel up my arms.  It’s something I’m at terms with.  I remember Mike Tucscherer was once asked if he got tired of all the dumb jokes people made about him being so big, and he said “If I didn’t want to deal with it, I wouldn’t be 275lbs”.  That resonated with me pretty well.  But it also means it’s something I have to be aware of constantly.  If a 150lb dude shouts at someone or gets a little aggressive, people tend not to care, but if I start showing aggression it can get misinterpreted as legitimate assault pretty quickly.

This is already getting pretty long winded, but just a comical aside to mention is how much my mentality can “infect” those around me.  My wife and I have been together in some capacity for 13 years, and she’s been a big part of the process for me.  She’s seen me accomplish some pretty ridiculous things, and it’s not set HER bar for normalcy ALSO off course.  Her expectations for what men can do are pretty high, because to her, I’m just her goofball husband, not some sort of high standard or mark for my gender.  In a comical anecdote, one time, my dad sold some sort of Weider all in one home gym on craigslist, and a guy and his son came by to pick it up.  They showed up with a bunch of tools and started taking the whole thing apart to put in their truck to move.  My wife was watching and getting frustrated that it was taking so long, and she leaned in and whispered “Why don’t they just pick it up and put it on the truck: this is taking forever?”  My wife and I have moved 5 times since we’ve been together, and she’s seen me carry full bookshelves, marble topped end tables, dinning tables, etc etc, all by myself, so in her mind that’s just a thing men do.  I had to lean back and whisper to her “Because not all men are your husband.”

It made her blush.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

BEWARE OF UNDERTRAINING



Dear readers, I come to you today to discuss an epidemic that is sweeping the nation.  This plague has claimed many young trainees over the years as a result of propaganda, bro knowledge, internet forums, youtube channels, and social media in general.  I am, of course, talking about undertraining.  The dangers of undertraining are severe, yet every day, more and more trainees engage in this reckless behavior.  In most cases, this is due to ignorance, as trainees are either poorly informed on the topic of training, who they should talk to, or just what dangers lurk around the corner as they start down this dangerous path.  My hope is that, by educating my readers, you will know the signs to look for and be able to take care of any young trainee about to embark on this practice.

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Hurry before it's too late!

So what is undertraining?  Undertraining is the current craze sweeping the lifting internet nation.  There are many examples of this, but typically it can include trainees only perform 3-5 sets MAX for a movement for the day, and of those sets, no more than 5 reps, trainees only lifting weights 3x a week, trainees performing ZERO cardio, conditioning or athletic work, and in general a complete lack of exertion and physical stress present in training.  Parents and coaches beware; your child or protégé could be undertraining under your very nose!  There are peddlers everywhere pushing this stuff on young naïve trainees.  They use words like “minimal effective dose of volume” and “CNS burnout” to trick young minds into following their devious and perverted ways.

How can you tell if your child or student is undertraining?  Know to look for the signs!  Symptoms include a complete lack of physical development despite months of “training”, claims of being a “hardgainer”, claims of “eating everything and not gaining weight” or needing to “dirtybulk”, having to rest 5-8 minutes between sets in order to make their workouts last an hour, a lack of gym clothes in the laundry, an abundance of freetime to argue on the internet about what program is optimal, CARING about what program is optimal, a complete lack of awareness of what an assistance exercise is, zero conditioning base, a complete set of SBD gear and Olympic lifting shoes, having an Instagram fitness handle, and a physical appearance resembling a sweet potato someone left in microwave for 4 minutes too long.

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More like 14 minutes

What can you do to combat this?  You need to chase away the overtraining boogieman that has tricked your loved one down this path and get them on the road to recovery.  Most perceived sensations of “overtraining” or “CNS burnout” amongst the general training populace are simply the manifestation of poor recovery, which can easily be remedied with a focus on IMPROVED recovery.  For the basics, ensure your trainee is eating well enough to support training.  Most likely, your trainee is convinced that they are both a hardgainer and need to follow a dirty bulk, which means they’ve found a means to justify a lazy, slovenly approach to eating that allows them to dine like a child on junkfood and candy without any actual awareness of what they are consuming.  Have them immediately start eating meat and veggies with every meal and watch the recovery improve almost instantly, with some muscular gain to match. 

Along with this, be aware that, the reason your trainee is having difficulty recovering between sets in the gym and between workouts outside of the gym and feeling overtrained in general is because your trainee is most likely a skinnyfat sack of untrained cookiedough with zero conditioning base due to a lifetime of neglecting any basic athletic activity who got sold a load a horse manure by a snake oil huckster claiming that the only way for a beginner trainee to overcome this is to train less than everyone else.  That was a long run-on sentence, because holy Christ it is so goddamn insane that I wanted to just contain it all in one spot like a freakin’ quarantine zone after an outbreak of zombie syphilis.  You’re trying to tell me that the way we’re going to get Johnny No-Sports on par with lifelong athletes is by starting him off with the lowest training volume ever witnessed by man and then reducing it even MORE once he inevitably stalls due to a lack of work capacity?  How are people still believing this?

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The way we get your loved one back on track is by viciously attacking that lack of work capacity head on with some dedicated time and energy focused on conditioning and assistance work.  This is where we can sneak in a little volume to help them grow and develop their work capacity to recover better BETWEEN workouts while still improving their baseline conditioning to help them recover IN their workouts.  And hey; more recovery IN a workout means more volume, while more recovery BETWEEN workouts means that more volume won’t lay your trainee out flat.  Get them out running, riding bikes, playing sports, pulling sleds, splitting work, etc etc.  If it feels miserable at the time, it’s probably the right call.

You’ll note that I failed to address sleep on the recovery agenda.  Well, I’m gonna level with you on this one folks; I haven’t had 8 hours of sleep since 2010 and I’m jacked out of my mind on energy drinks and diet mountain dew.  My resting heart rate is 44, so I get to call those things “medicinal”.  So I honestly can’t tell you that sleep is important without being a hypocrite, but here’s an idea; if you’re really really super duper hardcore concerned about overtraining, maybe try getting to bed at a decent hour every night and consistently trying to get there around the same time so that your body has a chance to develop a pattern here.  I’m not saying you have to do it, but man, if you’re worried about overtraining and you’re NOT doing that, you’re most likely pretty dumb.

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I'm not mocking you though; it's not in my nature to mock dumb things


Folks, I’m running out of time here and more causes need my attention, but please take care of your loved ones and break the spell of undertraining.  Once you remove this burden from their shoulders, you may see some positive changes, such as increases in muscle mass, greater strength, better athletic performance, more money available after spending less on supplements, a more significant amount of freetime from shorter, more effective workouts and less time on the internet arguing about WHY super low volume workouts are the best, and in general, and improved disposition and awareness of how to train.  Take care for now, drink your Ovaltine, and buy some war bonds to support our troops!