Saturday, March 18, 2017

READER REQUEST: THE INTERNET APPROVED STRONGMAN CONTEST

Had an idea presented to me for a good bit of satire that I thought would be entertaining.  The internet is never short on opinions, and strongman has earned the ire of many a keyboard warrior.  Despite having never actually trained for, competed in, or, in many cases, WATCHED a strongman competition, many people feel it is their place to dictate how strongman should proceed and what is and is not acceptable.  Why not take the time to figure out how a strongman competition would role were it designed by the internet at large?
Without further ado…
JUDGING

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Already I'm not too sure if this is satire
All events will be judged by 1 judged.  This 1 judge will be outfitted with a powerlifting red/white light rig.  Lights will be determined after the judge has the chance to watch a youtube video of the lifter completing the event, ensuring he has an opportunity to slow down, stop, and reverse the video footage, verifying to the upmost accurate detail if a lift “gets whites” or not.  The lights are crucial to the process, as the internet is a big fan of informing strongman on if their lift would have gotten a red or a white light.
EVENT 1: FARMERS WALK


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This is what you all look like to me
Performed with dumbbells.  At the start of the event, lifters will approach a fully loaded dumbbell rack and select whatever weight they feel is appropriate.  From there, they will walk for 8 minutes time around a quarter mile track.  Chalk is expressly forbidden, as this is one of the greatest grip exercises in the world.  After the 8 minutes are up, the competitors will rest 3 minutes before performing 2 more rounds in a similar style.  Upon completion of the final round, the competitor will leave the dumbbells wherever they are currently at.  This isn’t to allow the judges to mark distance; it’s because, really, who puts away dumbbells when they are done?
Winner will be determined by whoever has the biggest forearm pump.  Forearms will be measured before and after the event, using centimeters, because it is a bigger number.
EVENT 2: OVERHEAD PRESS

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Leg drive results in an immediate disqualification.  Remember; this is an overhead press, not a push press…which is also a way to press over your head…what was I saying?  Athletes will press a barbell with fat gripz on it, because that’s pretty much what an axle is.  The bar will be pressed out of the rack using hexagon plates because the gym doesn’t allow cleans.  No elbow sleeves, wrist straps, belt, or heeled shoes may be worn, as it’s cheating.  Athletes will press for a max weight of 5 reps (the strength range).
EVENT 3: BARBELL DEADLIFT

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When you can't maintain form with an empty bar and are forced to deload even further
It goes without saying that suits aren’t allowed.  Straps are also disqualified.  So is mixed grip and chalk.  Only hook grip is allowed.  In instances where the competitor does not have the right leverages for conventional deadlift, they will be given the choice to instead perform sumo, trap bar, Romanian deadlift, or just skip the deadlift entirely and stick with front squats and good mornings.  ZERO HITCHING ALLOWED.  Also, no grunting, shaking, or physical displays of exertion.  Lower back rounding will result in a lifetime ban from the federation.  All reps will be pulled from a deadstop.  In order to ensure the deadest stop possible, lifters will take 27 seconds between reps.
Competitors will perform a max set of 5 reps.  If at any point the lifter experiences any physical sensation in their lower back, the event will be terminated, the lifter will be given credit for 3 extra reps, and they will be taken immediately to the medical tent, where they will be shot like a racehorse with a broken leg.  Let’s face it; their lifting career is pretty much over with.
EVENT 4: THE SQUAT

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No, I didn't make this the event; it gets worse
Powerlifting and strongman are the same sport, right?  Pretty much anyway.  Only the loosest of knee sleeves is allowed for supportive equipment, and even then wearing them will result in 100lbs taken off your squat weight.  Lifters will set each foot on an independent platform and attempt to squat as far beyond ass to grass as possible.  This will be a last man standing event, with that platform increasing an inch in height each round.  The person that squats the deepest wins the event.
An unloaded bar will be the standard weight used for this event.  Weight on the bar doesn’t matter as much as depth.
I’m going to make a quick rule change; I will allow squat suits, but only multiply and canvas suits.  Mainly because I would be amazed if I ever saw anyone wearing one of those squat to any sort of depth without rupturing an eyeball.
EVENT 5: THE YOKE WALK

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Textbook technique
Jesus; that thing looks scary.  Let’s just do more dumbbell farmers walks instead.
PLACING AND AWARDS

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Bet you can't wait to take one of these babies home
At the end of the competition, everyone, irrespective of performance, will be given a first place trophy and invite to nationals.  At the same time, everyone will be informed that none of their lifts counted, they all somehow cheated in one way or another, and that they’re well on their way to getting injured.  Everyone will be given a gift certificate to a chiropractor and a pre-workout supplement made from 100% crystal meth.  The person who posted the most hashtags in their Instagram profile for that day will win a sponsorship for 5% off fluorescent pink leggings with coupon code IAMSOIRONIC.
Ok, so maybe I can be a bit of a prick sometimes.

Monday, March 13, 2017

IT’S NOT A BUG; IT’S A FEATURE!





First, my apologies for the late blog post.  Had a busy weekend, but it actually works in your favor, as this idea struck me during my morning workout today.


The phrase “it’s not a bug; it’s a feature” is a common punchline in the tech world.  It’s about using marketing to solve technological problems; reshifting the perspective of the buyer rather than “fixing” the problem.  Basically, you’re telling the consumer that they don’t know what they really want, and those things that they perceive to be malfunctions are actually the product performing exactly as designed.  Though this is usually a hail Mary from a tech company to keep their customers happy, this mentality is pretty crucial for training, because many people need to shift their perspectives to understand that those things they believe to be “bugs” about training truly are the features.  This is what you WANTED; didn’t you know?

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Ok, THIS is probably what you really wanted

We witness trainees’ first encounter with “bugs” all the time when it comes to training, and many times, they are trying to “fix” them.  “I really want to do more conditioning, but whenever I try it, I feel like I’m going to throw up.”  Yup.  Congrats.  That means it’s WORKING.  “The last time I tried lifting, I was sore for DAYS.”  Yup.  That’s how lifting works.  “I tried working out in the morning, but I was tired.”  Yup.  That’s how being a human works.  “I did squats, but now my legs are big.”  Jesus Christ, are you serious?  That’s not a bug; it’s a feature!  Your training is working!  The process is occurring!  This is the avenue of change.


Most regrettably, we have been conditioned to believe that discomfort is a sign that something is wrong, and it requires immediate addressing in order to “fix” this.  This was once a helpful instinct to teach us not to touch fire and not eat a pineapple whole, but has become somewhat less helpful in a society where discomfort is no longer the norm.  Our forefathers and ancestors existed in miserable conditions as a matter of habit, and grew to understand this as the norm, such that they could tolerate it, grow stronger from it, get better and move on.  For them, this was not a bug, but a feature of life.  But for us now?  If discomfort CAN be avoided, surely it should be, no?

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I mean, it worked for this guy

It’s amazing how eye opening this paradigm shift can be for the uninitiated.  I had a friend approach me on the topic of weight loss, as they’re starting their journey on that.  They’ve had success so far with counting calories and losing weight, but he asked me “What is it that you eat that keeps you from feeling hungry all the time?”  I looked blankly at him for a moment before I conveyed that I am ALWAYS hungry.  Being hungry is a state of being for me.  It’s how I know I’m still alive.  This blew his mind, because he was under the impression he must have been doing something wrong if he felt hungry while losing weight.  The idea that being hungry was part of the weight loss process was a new idea, and upon sharing it, it made his process so much easier.  Weeks later, and pounds lighter, he thanked me for essentially giving him permission to feel hungry while losing weight.


We have people trying to sell us the opposite!  Every weight loss product is about “effortless, painless weight loss”.  “Eat whatever you want and STILL lose the weight.”  Why is that such an effective marketing technique?  Because it goes against reality!  In reality, weight loss requires suffering, it requires effort, it requires turmoil, it requires NOT being stuffed 100% of the time and actually feeling the slightest twinges of hunger.  It’s not a bug; it’s a feature of weight loss.  It’s imperative for these companies to convince you otherwise so that they can sell you a “fix” for the bug they created.  It’s akin to those late night infomercials selling you a product that will speed up your computer by installing MORE malware when all you really needed to do in the first place was stop going to those websites that are full of malware.

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I won't judge you for your fetish

And this perspective shift isn’t just limited to understanding reality for what it is; it can also help you cope with injury.  Injuries are notorious for being classified as “bugs” by the general populace, and surely something to avoid.  But what if it was a feature?  When I ruptured my ACL, it wasn’t a bug; it was a feature that allowed me to focus on my pressing, grip and neck work.  It was a feature that forced me to re-evaluate my approach to training and come up with a better way forward.  It was a feature that gave me an opportunity to overcome and get stronger in many ways.  I re-marketed my bug to myself as a feature, and came out better on the other side.


Don’t assume that simply because you meet some form of resistance or misery that you have encountered a bug in your training and programming.  Consult your inner marketing team and see if this may in fact be a feature.  Figure out how to spin it and sell it, and come out better on the other side compared to those people who just sit and patiently wait for the next software update that will SURELY get rid of all those pesky bugs.