Saturday, June 24, 2017


My grandpa once told me “if you want to make time pass slowly, just hang by your thumbs.”  At this moment I’ll explain that my grandpa had a lot of psychotic homespun sayings and a great talent with metaphors that I hope I partially inherited, but I particularly liked this one because it’s hilarious.  But the point to take away from it is that the passing of time is a set principle, but our perspective of it can always be altered based on circumstances.  Time flies when you’re having fun, and it slows down to a crawl when you hang by your thumbs.  I think many of you folks out there are watching time fly by during your rest times, because you’re too busy having fun NOT being miserable to really appreciate just how MUCH time you have in your rest times.  Once you stop wasting your rest times and actually getting some work done, you’ll realize how long an hour long workout REALLY is, and how much training you can get done during that time.

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"In retrospect, the wait for Game of Thrones seems really fast compared to waiting for this guy to stop spraying me with a hose"

Alright, so first, I already know what people are going to say.  “You idiot; it’s a REST time.  You’re SUPPOSED to be resting.”  Ok shut up for a second.  I will grant you that, during rest periods in a training session, you should rest from the movement you just completed, but this doesn’t necessitate achieving a catatonic state gazing into your smartphone swiping right (that’s apparently some sort of thing).  You can rest from previous work while still engaging in OTHER work that doesn’t necessarily hinder recovery.  This requires a somewhat intelligent approach to training, yes, but most people are so willing to look up every study, article and book on training at this point that I can’t imagine I’m upsetting anyone by suggesting bringing a little intellect into the game.

Yes; you CAN recover WHILE working.  Some even theorize that work AIDES in recovery (I need to use italics more, as writing “aides” in all caps became dangerously close to getting offensive).  When we perform 1 movement and then perform another movement that is oppositely aligned to the previous, we force blood to flow through the muscles opposite ones previously worked, which some theorize to be incredibly restorative.  Even if that were not true, we still understand that fatigue is a LOCALIZED concept as it relates to muscles; not a general one.  If you crank out 400 reps of squats, your legs will be obliterated, but your pecs are still fresh and ready for more work.

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Looks like they're still waiting too

So if muscular fatigue is localized, what really limits us from engaging in some hardcore, nonstop superset training until death?  The answer isn’t going to shock you; conditioning!  Muscular fatigue is local, but conditioning is general, and it is our conditioning that is taxed and limits our ability to really have significant output on opposite movements.  Once again, going with squats, if you do 40 rep squats, your pecs might be fresh for more work, but most likely you’ll be too busy vomiting up your lungs to be able to put in a solid set of benching.

So how do we approach this situation?  Well, regarding the conditioning piece, that answer is obvious; have BETTER conditioning.  This is WHY conditioning is so key; it’s a gatekeeper to greater training density, which means effectively more volume, which means more growth.  If you work diligently to improve your conditioning, you will be able to accumulate significantly more volume over time, which means greater growth overall.  However, what do we do in the meantime?  We take something of a training wheels approach to rest time work.

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And you thought buying a motorcycle would make you tough

In the era of “all compound movements, all the time”, there have been a lot of little movements that have been overlooked and neglected for years.  This is primarily because of dogma, and primarily because, after doing a whole bunch of heavy compounds, trainees found themselves too spent to do anything else.  So start working these little movements in during your rest periods.  Between sets of squats, benches, presses and deadlifts, start working in pull aparts, face pulls, curls and raises.  Don’t work to failure or even close to it; just focus on accumulating volume.  A set of 20 pull aparts isn’t much of anything, but done 5 times in a workout while you’re huffing wind from squats becomes 100 reps.  Performed everyday is an extra 700 reps a week, or 36,400 reps in a year.  Think that doesn’t add up?  You’re getting in more work and not compromising your recovery at all.

That’s not all you can do though; you can also use rest times to start setting up your next movement.  If you train full body, you can start warming up for bench during your squat worksets, or you can start loading the bar for your next assistance movement while hitting your main movement.  You can eliminate wasted time so that your training is more efficient, which in turn allows your training to be more dense and allow for greater volume overall.  And again, we do this to accumulate more growth.

And once you have a mastery of your conditioning, you can do BIGGER and heavier movements during your recovery periods.  You can do worksets of bench between worksets of deadlifts and STILL recover from both.  You can run giantsets of squat, chin and press and be able to give each movement due diligence.  You can be in such great shape that you have the ability to push hard while recovering FROM pushing hard, and in turn, you can turn an hour of training into a very brutal and efficient hour of solid training, rather than 6 minutes of training accompanied by 54 minutes of resting.

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Ok; maybe take an extra minute to rest from this one

And let’s say that you end up lifting less weight because you are fatigued; who cares?  You are STILL getting stronger if you’re training to the same rate of perceived exertion as before.  Your body doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it doesn’t NOT adjust to stimulus simply because it weighs less if that stimulus is presented when under a state of fatigue.  If this was TRUE, things like pre-exhaust, pyramid sets and dropsets wouldn’t work.  And though some eggheads might not understand HOW they work, we have more than enough proof that they do.  Let your lifts dip a little knowing full well you are STILL getting bigger and stronger because you’ve changed the degree of fatigue you are training under.

Rest times are an opportunity, and you can choose to exploit it or squander it.  Hang by your thumbs in training; spend more time TRAINING in your rest times than you do training during your training times, and see how you turn out.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Got a great question the other day that spawned my writing of this.  

“At what point did you personally no longer consider yourself a novice lifter?” and “Did that change in mindset alter anything else for you?” 

For me, there was a very exact moment when this transition occurred for me; when I pulled my first 600lb deadlift.  It happened in my garage, on a random day, a few months out from a powerlifting meet, when I just felt like seeing what I could do.  Up until this point, I was running a lot of ROM progression training and had pulled 585 in a meet this way, but once I finally hit that 6 it all opened up for me.  At that moment, I decided I must know at least a few things about lifting, and I had an idea of what worked and what didn’t.  When I ended up pulling it in a meet, it just furthered solidified things.

So what changed?  While I still considered myself a novice, I gave equal credence to just about any crackpot theory that was out there.  Since I was “a novice”, clearly I didn’t know crap, so anyone who managed to get published must SURELY know something.  If someone wrote something for beginners, I read it and did it, and if someone was a “coach”, surely their word held some weight, right?  This meant, reading all those things that went against everything I knew just meant I was too stupid to really KNOW how to train.  These people had credentials, and I was just a dumb novice. 

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I mean, maybe one day I could get results like THIS!
And then I awoke.  I hit a 600lb deadlift with a method very few people were using, and it worked.  I deadlifted off the floor once every 2 months and pulled 600lbs at 181, despite the fact that every coach, guru, and forum member said that you HAD to deadlift at least once a week.  I did it with high reps, even though everyone SWORE you had to lift with low reps to get stronger.  I did it in a meet, having used straps the entire time, even though everyone told me that straps make your grip weak.  I did it while dropping 12lbs, even though everyone said you had to “lift big eat big.”  I did it pulling touch and go, even though everyone told me you had to pull deadstop or else it “wasn’t a deadlift.”  Basically, I did every single thing I could possibly do wrong and I finally succeeding after failing while doing everything right.

And that was the thing; I got to this point out of desperation.  I was dutifully reading all the right books from all the right authors and doing all the right things, and I was stuck.  Yeah, I got great initial progress, and then stalled and stalled hard.  And I reset and deloaded and form checked and overate and overslept and upped my rest periods and did all the prescribed fixes, only to spend a year eeking out another 5lbs at most, rife along the way with injuries, stalls, pain and frustration.  I had considered quitting lifting before I had even really started, just because I wasn’t going anywhere.  And so, I figured, if what works isn’t working, what do I have to lose doing what DOESN’T work?

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It ALMOST came down to this

And this is what got me to learn what ACTUALLY works; effort, consistency and time.  It’s what I’ve been harping on for a long time, because it’s what works.  What got me through a long stall and finally on the road was shutting off a lot of the noise that was out there, putting my head down, finding my own way and just gutting it out until it worked.  I had forsaken this to believe in a new god in the past, because I didn’t have enough strength of believe in my own convictions.  When I finally lost all hope and had to turn to myself for answers, I finally awoke.  I was FORCED to awaken, as the alternative was to die.

And let’s be real; before I awoke, I was using the advice of gurus to relieve myself of several burdens.  I could relieve myself of physical burdens this way; I could find someone that told me that training too hard, too frequently was going to be overtraining.  I could find someone that told me that trying to do conditioning on top of lifting was going to make me lose all my gains.  I could find someone that would tell me that I NEEDED to get fat to get strong.  Man, how interesting that the best way to get bigger and stronger was to train infrequently with little effort and eat like a pig.  What a sacrifice I made!  How deluded was I to really believe that training as hard as I could and eating as well as I could wouldn’t actually get me as strong as I could?  But that’s the SECOND burden these gurus relieved me of; the burden of thinking for myself.  I didn’t have to question the insanity of this rhetoric, because someone FAR above me had passed it to me from on high.  It took that hitting of rock bottom to FINALLY take on all these burdens and in turn, finally start progressing.

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In this photo, Hercules advises Atlas that, for the sake of linear progression, he needs to move on to Jupiter next
....that was lame, but my alternative punchline involved Uranus

And this is why, upon my awakening, I became violent in my nature.  I called out these gurus, asking what their qualifications were to talk on matters of getting bigger and stronger when THEY had never actually achieved getting bigger and stronger?  What was their experience?  What was their justification?  And in the majority of these instances, these people came back with nothing.  Nothing of merit at least.  Oh sure; they had studies, articles, anecdotes, etc etc…but no proof.  No results.  And I tuned them out.  And I hoped my questioning of them did the same.

The start of this blog was the start of that awakening; it was when I finally had achieved enough to have something worth saying.  I’ve said on many occasions as well that this blog is essentially my current self yelling at my old self for being so stupid.  You can still see the shift occurring, with me writing things today that even conflict with some of the things I said back in 2012; the awakening continues.  However, I at least know that I know what it takes to get to where I am, and I’m proud enough of that to be willing to share.  How many people are willing to say the same?