Sunday, May 28, 2017


There is a lot of discussion in the world of lifting regarding how long one should train for, to include how much training would be overtraining and at what point catabolism kicks in.  There is also a LOT of science out there to back up various claims regarding optimal training duration, and people from all camps are all too excited to come racing back to these studies whenever they need to validate their beliefs.  However, there is a factor that people must consider before they start quoting these various optimal numbers; time spent in the training facility is not necessarily time spent training.  In fact, in most cases, it’s not even close.  I’d even go so far as to wager that those spending the most time in the gym are doing some of the least amount of training.

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Another reason I like to train at home

We hear people brag about their epic training sessions all the time.  2 hour training sessions, 3 hour training sessions, all day, etc etc, but all of this is bravado.  Consider how much time is ACTUALLY spent training in these sessions compared to simply being physically present in the gym.  In most instances, these people are resting, 3, 5, 8, sometimes even 10+ minutes between sets.  In many instances, longer training sessions correlate to longer rest periods, as, of course, that’s logical.  You spend more time resting between sets, so you spend more time in the gym.  But does this equate to more time TRAINING?  Absolutely not.

Let’s say that a set of 10 takes 20 seconds to complete.  You take 2 trainees; 1 who rests 1 minute between sets, and 1 that takes 5 minutes between sets.  Both do 3x10.  Trainee #1 is done with his training session in 12 minutes.  Trainee #2 is done with their training session in 20 minutes.  Who trained more?  Neither; they both TRAINED for the same amount of time; 10 minutes.  One simply recovered faster than the other.  However, let’s say both trainees spend an hour in the gym on that day, training at the rates previously established.  NOW who trained more?  Clearly trainee #1.

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If I screwed up the math, keep in mind, I'm more familiar with this guy than numbers...but that means I can still tell who is the superior lifter

THIS is the factor one must take into consideration when evaluating the potential for overtraining and fatigue in a trainee.  So many times, someone observes a trainee say they train 3 hours a day and immediately jump to cautionary tales of overtraining and exertion, but I go to the opposite conclusion; this person isn’t working NEARLY hard enough.  This person is leisurely resting 10 minutes between sets, talking to their friends, sipping water, scrolling through facebook and in general not breathing hard or exerting themselves.  This person isn’t taxing themselves to any significant degree to force adaptation.  This person is at serious risk of UNDERTRAINING.
I’m sure there is an amount of training that one must engage in that will trigger catabolism, but most trainees engage in practices that are inherently designed for self-preservation specifically for this.  Most trainees rest until the point that their heart rate has returned to a state of normalcy.  They rest until their breathing has returned to a normal rhythm.  They rest until they are ready for maximal exertion.  These aren’t inherently negative practices, but they ARE moments of NOT training, and it’s what must be factored in when it comes to deciding the impact of the length of one’s training sessions.

If you are pushing yourself to the point that you AREN’T actually recovering between sets, you most likely ARE at risk of actually going catabolic in your training sessions, but thankfully your body has a built in self governor on this one; your conditioning level.  Most trainees simply aren’t going to sustain the necessary amount of output for a long enough period of time to need to worry about this.  It’s because, once you push the body that hard for a long period of time, your body eventually quits as a means of self-preservation.  The people that CAN overcome this barrier do so as a result of intentionally exposing themselves to this sort of stimulus, and even THEY engage in this practice in limited quantities.  Marathon runners, super endurance athletes, elite crossfitters (yeah, I pissed off a lot of people with that one), etc etc, they put themselves through a LOT to get to this point; it’s not going to be some average gym rat that is lifting weights 3 days a week.

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Apparently one of these is the "after" photo. Coulda stood to engage in some overtraining

But why not go view that as a challenge?  Why not get yourself to the point that an hour training session is actually damn near an hour of training?  Think of the benefits of such training density; the sheer amount of volume that can be accumulated in a short time, which can mean more volume if one REALLY wants to actually train for 2-3 hours.  Imagine how strong your conditioning base would have to be in order to actually push yourself for that long; to be almost fully recovered after 1 minute of rest between heavy lifts, to be able to giant set without affecting your latter lifts, to be able to deadlift AND squat heavy in one workout.  My longtime readers will recognize the facetiousness of those comments, but to many on the net, what I just mentioned are deemed IMPOSSIBLE feats by those who have not got themselves in good enough shape to actually TRAIN for as long as they are present.

This isn’t school; you aren’t being graded on attendance.  Simply being in the gym is NOT time spent training, and affording yourself the luxury of a 3 hour session is most likely promoting habits you should avoid.  Try putting yourself on a time limit and doing whatever it takes to get the workout knocked out in that time.  See if you can train hard enough to go catabolic; you might find that, in the process, you get some of the greatest growth in your life.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


I realize this post I’m about to write is going to sound someone self-serving as a blog writer, but it’s honestly something to just boggles my mind.  First of all, I tend to be one of the biggest advocates of just getting in the weightroom and slinging iron, and I tend to decry those that spend all of their time reading about training rather than ACTUALLY training.  That said, for the love of god, if you’re going to READ about training, quit skimming the damn material and actually READ IT.  Word for word; every word, without question.  The fact I even have to say this is mind blowing.  Why are there so many people skimming the material?!

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Apparently this was the original kindle prototype

Here’s the thing; if you’re reading about training, I imagine your intent is to take what you learn from your reading and apply it to your training for your own benefit.  It’s not an unreasonable assumption at least.  If this is true, wouldn’t you want to have the clearest understanding of the material you are reading to make sure that you are implementing the information in the most correct manner possible?  Why would you want to just go running off, half-cocked, unaware and poorly informed?  Especially on an endeavor you intend to spend years, if not DECADES pursuing?  Wouldn’t you want to make sure you were fully informed before you invested so much time and energy?

It would be like skimming a Spanish textbook before selling all your worldly goods and moving to Mexico City.  Wouldn’t you rather have fluency?  Before heading out to live into the woods for 4 years, wouldn’t you want to read every single word of your survival manual?  Wouldn’t you want to have it memorized, just in case you needed to go off memory?  In any other situation where your success and survival is incumbent upon the knowledge you’ve acquired, you would dutifully take the time to read every word, memorize every nuance, and master every corner of the material, but for lifting people can’t even be bothered to read all 400 words in a 400 word article?  What is this madness?

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Let's be honest; it's not like these folks are going to be writing at a super challenging level

Don’t believe that this is some sort of hyperbole; that I’m off here tilting at windmills.  I’ve witnessed this firsthand on numerous occasions, to the point that it aggravated me enough to need to write this.  I’m a big fan of linking the Jim Wendler “Building the Monolith” workout whenever someone is looking for something challenging to build strength and size, primarily because it’s a great training protocol, but also because it’s an effective reading test.  If someone tells me it’s only a 3 day a week program, I know they skimmed, because it lays out 6 days a week of training.  If someone tells me the diet is 4000 calories, I know they skimmed, because Jim only mandates a dozen eggs and 1.5lbs of ground beef.  If someone asks if cardio is ok, I know they skimmed, because that’s all included in the program.  Basically, I know how dedicated that person is based on how dutifully they bothered to read the article.  If they can’t take the time to read 500 words, I don’t have the time to help them.

And that’s the thing; it’s not a huge undertaking to read that article.  I’ve read thousands of pages over the span of my training, primarily because I’m a lifting nerd and I used to find reading about this stuff super fascinating before it all started sounding the same.  But it took reading those thousands of pages to get there.  Meanwhile, you can read only 275 pages of 5/3/1 Forever and know EVERYTHING you need to know about how to program for the rest of your life…and people STILL won’t do it.  And these are people who PAID $40 for the book…plus shipping.  Why would you spend so much money on a book you DON’T read?  What is this insanity?

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SuperTraining, 5/3/1, Westside Book of Methods, correct me if I'm being incorrect

I just have to wonder; what are these people DOING with all this extra time they save by skimming?  Because, from my observations, they aren’t spending that extra time training.  Or eating.  Or cooking.  Or sleeping.  Or recovering.  Or doing ANYTHING that is actually furthering themselves to their alleged goal.  And don’t get me wrong; I get that we all have differing priorities, and not everyone is as obsessed with training as I am.  But that’s the thing; why are these folks reading about training at ALL in the first place if they’re not going to dedicate the necessary time and effort to read WELL?  I have other hobbies that are just time wasters for me, but as a result I don’t put any effort into researching them; I just go and do them.  And honestly even THAT approach is going to better someone more than using HALF a plan to get there.  When you have a full plan, you are on a set path for success.  When you have no plan, your victory is inconsequential, as you’re just here to have fun.  But what the hell do you get with part of a good plan?  Especially if it’s not even the RIGHT part of that plan?

And WHEN you read, TRY to get into the headspace of the author before you start.  I find many trainees will have the conclusion to an article in their head before they even start, and the bias in turn colors the information they receive.  The 5x5 crowd will find a way for Louie Simmons to justify Stronglifts, the HIT Jedis will explain how “SuperTraining” confirms everything Arthur Jones ever wrote, etc etc.  It does you no good to approach the text in the hopes that it CONFIRMS what you know; hope that what you read turns everything you knew on its head.  How awesome would it be if it turned out you were wrong this whole time and that success was now readily available for you?  You finally FOUND it!

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No.  That said, if you've been skimming my blog this whole time, you might be led to believe otherwise

Set aside the time to give the author their due.  They worked hard to write all those words; the least you can do is read them all.  And for those of you that skimmed this post, if nothing else, I applaud your sense of irony.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017


One of my absolute favorite articles of all time was Dave Tate’s “27 Reasons to be Big” (which, if you’ve not read it, you can find here, and I’m going to try to poorly emulate it myself regarding life as an oaf.

My last contest made me realize the unique circumstance I find myself in after hearing all the advice of the coaches and announcers regarding improving my performance.  I realize I’ve been hearing the same advice constantly, and everytime I think I’m making strides to fix my oafishness, it turns out I’m still at square one.

For those unversed in my vernacular, an “oaf” is one whose only attribute they bring to the table is brute strength.  I have no speed, my technique is awful, and my coordination is such that being drunk would probably be an improvement.  I still somehow manage to compete in strength sports, relying on the brute strength to compensate for all of the other weak areas, which tends to put me in unique situations regarding performance.

So  without further ado, here is what you can look forward to experiencing if you too are an oaf.


1: Every time I get told “use your legs!” during a press event, the only thing I can think is “I thought I WAS using my legs”

2: I love how often I get asked “doesn’t that hurt?” when someone watches a video of me squatting.  …or deadlifting. …or pressing.

3: Somehow, I’ve managed to have an ugly continental.  The continental is already an ugly movement, which makes my achievement rather significant in that regard.

4: When I watch someone perform a snatch, I assume that there must be magic involved somewhere.

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I assume this is part of the ritual you must perform before the snatch

5: I have almost hyperventilated from laughing so hard when friends ask me if I’ve ever considered trying out for Ninja Warrior.

6: Generally, whenever I have to force something (opening a jar, building furniture, opening a stuck door, etc), I tend to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.  In most cases, it turns out I’m doing something wrong.  This is after having “built” many pieces of ikea furniture into configurations the manufacturer never could have possibly fathomed.

7: It’s easy to say that dynamic effort work is pointless when you deadlift 135lbs at the exact same speed as your 600lb deadlift.

8: I am the only person I know who can jump in slow motion.

9: When going through physical therapy for my ruptured ACL, I had better balance with my reconstructed knee than my “healthy” knee, because physical therapy forced me to spend time actually improving my balance on the healing side.

10: I have a distinct advantage when it comes to odd object pressing because I am so untechnical in my execution that EVERY object I press is like pressing an odd object.

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However, it's still poor form to tell your SO that they feel JUST like a barbell

11: When I skip rope, a “double under” is when I can skip the rope twice before it hits my feet and I have to start over.

12: Every time I have ever dropped a set of farmer’s handles in a contest, it’s because the implement clipped the back of my heel due to my clumsy stride and jacked up moving mechanics.

13: It’s amazing how many more calories you burn from cardio when you’re so inefficient with basic human movements.  All these people with solid running mechanics are really missing out.

14: I’ve developed such a strong lower back due to having the inability to get into a decent position for any sort of lift.  Why solve the problem when you can just get strong enough to completely bypass it?

15: My technique looks the same under fatigue as it does when I am completely fresh. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.

16: The best part about blowing out my knee was having an excuse for my terrible leg drive.  It absolutely doesn’t affect it at all, but I can always fall back on it now.

17: The last time I executed a triple extension was when I was filing taxes.

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I was originally going to go with this joke, but it was too phallic

18: When I squat, I get to leverage my immobility like some sort of natural squat suit.  Who needs to pay Metal $300 for a fluorescent orange polyester nightmare when your hip flexors and hamstrings are so tight that you need to take 3 reps to tie your shoes?  Ok, that last part is a lie; the only shoes I wear are flip flops or tactical boots.  The latter isn’t because I’m some pseudo-law enforcement type; I like the zippers on the side, because it means less laces to deal with.

19: I have tragically broken 4 ice cream scoops, because I didn’t realize you needed to let ice cream soften before you try to scoop it out.  To solve this, I didn’t learn patience; my in-laws bought me a titanium ice cream scoop.  Finesse is overrated.

20: I am a perpetual disappointment for every intramural sports team ever.  I have to constantly advise people that big/strong doesn’t equal “athletic”.  Even then, they have to truly witness my ineptness at basic human movements before they realize just how incapable I really am.  I’ve actually developed a strategy when playing any sort of team sport where I always try as hard as possible to get open and available to receive a play.  HOWEVER, I express to my team that it is IMPERATIVE they never actually give me the ball in any circumstance.  As long as the other team doesn’t watch me try to score, they’ll consider me a viable threat and try to cover me with one, maybe even TWO people.  However, once I’m in possession and try to score a point in any manner (baseketball, soccer, football, etc), they’ll see me whiff in a way only an oaf could possibly whiff, the charade will be over, and they’ll no longer waste any energy on me.  It’s a purely psychological play.

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I related tot his kid a ton

21: On the above, I will say I have developed a solid strategy in basketball and soccer of simply walking in front of a fast moving player, coming to a dead stop and having them bounce off of me.  In most cases, people attribute this more to clumsiness than malice.  Gotta use whatever “advantages” we have.

22: A lot of people remark on how much time and effort I spend on conditioning, and how solid my conditioning base is.  They don’t realize that this is NECESSARY when you are an oaf, because you waste a LOT of energy muscling through movements that any other normal human would use technique on.  It’s like, sure, I COULD get into a solid position and roll the keg up my body using my legs and back in one fluid motion to press it overhead, or I could just rip it right off the floor and manhandle it overhead, which is “easier”, but far more exhausting.  Once again, why solve the real problem when we can just ignore it and train harder instead.