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.  


  1. What did you find most useful about 5/3/1 Forever? I'm still glad I bought it but after first reading, I didn't get much more out of it than what I already had in Beyond. Maybe part of this is a matter of where I'm at training-wise--25 and no complications--and some of the more detailed and complicated stuff will become useful in the future. A lot of it read to me like good possible variations/ideas but nothing that really changed the way I look at training. Curious to hear if you're implementing anything from it.


    1. MOST useful about 5/3/1 Forever is that it's basically a one stop shopping book for all things 5/3/1. No more having to scour the web for bits and pieces of ideas that Jim released on his private forum, blog and t-nation at various different times.

      I really dug his explanation of the 20% to 50% rule for conditioning. The 7th week protocol was pretty nifty. I also liked the leaders and anchors paradigm released, as it allowed me a better understanding of how and why to implement the 5s progression.

      All that said, I have no plans to immediately implement anything from it, simply because what I'm doing is working. However, I think I'm just about to reach the end of what I can get out of pressing, and that might require a different approach.

    2. Yeah, I'm with you there. Limited immediate utility, decent long-term utility.

  2. My guess is the people who skim are looking for that magic bullet, because the actual magic bullet -- dedication and consistency -- is just too much work for most people.

    What I never understood was all the people in fhe gym doing things and not carrying around a notebook for log keeping.

    1. I'll say I've never actually carried a notebok around for logkeeping in the gym. No way I could keep decent handwriting while training, and calming tdown enough to be able to write would take too long. But I DO make sure to write things down after the workout is over.

  3. That's fair. You have a better memory than me.