Saturday, May 26, 2018


Bringing back some DnD again, because that seemed to be popular with my nerd-based readers, and in a point of irony I intend to go against the nerd stereotype and embrace ignorance.  It’s amazing how, the further along we get in training, the more we tend to forget the original reason we started lifting in the first place.  At least for me, the goal was always to be big and strong.  It’s so incredibly simple and easy to grasp.  I grew up watching Arnold in 80s action flicks, Hulk Hogan’s 24” pythons as the WWF champion, Popeye beating up Bluto with his ridiculous forearms after eating his spinach, etc, and I wanted to be these men.  I wanted to be so big and strong that I was physically unstoppable.  At no point did I ever think to myself “I want to KNOW everything there is to know about being big and strong”; it was “I want to BE big and strong.”  So why the hell did so many of you abandon your goals in the hopes of being smart instead?  Embrace the ogre here; be strong, not smart.

Image result for revenge of the nerds ogre
Hah!  Different Ogre.  But same point.

Seriously, I don’t get you people.  What is your reward for being the smartest person in the room about lifting?  Did you watch Arnold throw a phone booth in “Commando” as a kid and think to yourself “Man, when I grow up, I want to COACH someone to be able to do that”?  Were you watching Hulk Hogan tear off his shirt and thinking “One day, I’m going to train a ton of wrestlers to be that strong”?  I can’t understand your ambitions.  What inspired you to give up on personally achieving these wondrous feats of strength and to instead relegate yourself purely to possessing the knowledge of HOW to achieve these things, rather than the sheer ability?

“Well how can I achieve these things if I don’t KNOW how to get there?”  Goddamn man, just how smart do you think Hulk Hogan is?  And I’m not saying that Terry Bollea is an imbecile, but he’s certainly not winning any Nobel Prize.  Arnold was born in the 40s, immediately post WWII, in war torn Austrian (which, spoiler alert, they had LOST the war, so things weren’t going so good over there); what sort of exercise science information do you think he had access to?  Paul Anderson was a high school kid that wanted to get bigger for football.  Bob Peoples was a farmer.  The Saxon Trio were a professional circus act; goddamn CARNIES people.  Somehow, ALL of these people managed to figure out how to get big and strong without the internet, 800 hours of research, exercise science degrees, a nutritional program put together by MENSA, etc etc.  Why do YOU need all of this nonsense?

Image result for Paul Anderson barrel squat
This looks SO stupid, but those women are digging it

Is it, perhaps, because intellect is so much more difficult to prove compared to strength?  You can go round and round citing poorly performed studies with dumb control groups and stupid variables (and really you’re only citing the abstract anyway) and then disprove someone else’s study for having the same flaws as your own, and the first person to resort to a logical fallacy “loses”, because you both took 1 semester of logic in undergrad (or you googled “logical fallacies”) and learned that this was the only way an argument can be wrong.  You can shout down someone else as a fanboy or for using “broscience” or get the internet hivemind of your current forum to rally against the interloper and get them banned and feel like you “won”.  But man, if you only deadlift 225 and another dude pulls 700…f**k, he’s stronger than you.  You can’t outangle him, use Instagram filters, play with lighting, photoshop, etc etc; you just have to be at peace that you are weaker than that person.  And it’s no fun losing, so why not pick battles where victory is far more nebulous?

Stop picking the easy battle here; you don’t get better at football by curb stomping a bunch of 5th grade pop-warner players.  You settled for being smart because it was “easier” than being strong.  Bring back that desire that was in you before and endeavor to be the strongest guy in the argument, not the smartest.  When someone cites 500 studies for how you’re wrong, take solace in the fact that the person arguing with you deadlifts 400lbs less than you do.  Be uninclined to argue because you gain nothing from the experience.  Have nothing to prove because it’s already out there, ready to be verified.  Be accomplished enough that your word is enough to carry the weight of your argument.

Image result for Sumo wrestler vs child
Technically, the kid on the right is usually superior technique right now

What does this mean?  It means those hours spent pouring over obscure lifting journals and arguing with other lifting nerds are hours better vested in training, eating, and planning how you will succeed the next time you need to train and eat.  “B-b-but overtraining!” Hey, look at that; your big brain is getting in the way of getting some big muscles.  Embrace the ogre and quit being so goddamn smart for a second.  You are at severe risk of undertraining right now, because you’ve already decided to limit yourself before you even tried.  Exercise science is a fledgling field, and it’s basically in the process of currently discovering what we already know, if that.  There is still much undiscovered wisdom which is deridingly called “broscience”, yet it managed to WORK for decades.  Spend more time training, get in some daily workouts, or make your current workouts longer, or figure out how to get more volume in your current workouts in less time.  When I ran Building the Monolith, I spent a day planning out how I was going to run the program in less than an hour, which was a day many would piss away arguing about MRV and whatever the current fact-du-jour is.  Spend those hours cooking a week’s worth of food in a slow cooker and packing it so you can just grab and go in the morning, rather than spending hours on the internet lamenting about how you DON’T have time to eat, so could someone PLEASE tell you about all the hidden foods out there that are cheap, fast, easy to make and ALSO taste good.  Spend that time grocery shopping and finding good deals on cheap cuts of meat, spend it doing all that conditioning that you’re neglecting, spend it pushing your limits so that you can FIND them and THEN program around them, rather than waiting for someone to FINALLY released the definitive study on all human limits.

Embrace the ogre, go be strong, and beat some smart kid over the head with a club.  


  1. You're growing soft, Emevas. No squating on a bosu ball magic this time ? Haha.

    I somehow fell into a similar trap. I started this journey to be big and strong, but nowadays I have a panic attack whenever I lose definition of half of my bottom ab. It takes some reflection to re-discover your inner child.

    Your posts on willpower, brute force and ignorance etc are most inspiring.

    1. I've been using that meme for so long I forget to include it at this point, haha.

      It's always good to remember your roots and look back when we get too far off course. Glad I've been able to help re-vector.

  2. Great post as always. I know this trap all too well

    1. Myself as well. Pretty much everything I lambast people for is something I've done.

  3. Great post. Currently having this mental battle right now with the assistance lifts on 531 Forever programs. Constantly trying to decide how to best choose the lift and what set rep combo. Internet has me doubting Jim know just how important they are and general guidelines must not be optimal. If I didn't have the internet I would just pick a move and do it, probably just how he inteded.

    1. You got it. All the way back to first edition Jim has said "it's assistance work, just do it"

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  5. I mean, with Mike Israetel's MRV stuff, he's just saying: Do more until you can't, then take some time off to recover and let your body adapt, then do it again. Except with acronyms.

    And honestly, he says you can't really find your MRV until you've pushed it too far and come off worse. Dude's got permanent pec issues because he threw lots of volume at his pec and had a major tear (if I remember correctly). So now he knows what too hard is. Most people don't squat til they puke then do more sets either.

    He's acknowledged that his ideas have led to (pseudo)intellectual masturbation by beginners, resulting in undertraining. It is what it is.

    1. I geniunely do not know who Mike is or what MRV is. I just see a lot of accomplished people talk about it. Before that, it was dynamic effort percentages and choked band vs non choked bands. There is always something new.

    2. That is kinda what you ( perhaps unknowingly ) sacrifice, though when following a programm. You let someone else come up with a pre determined arbitary idea of what your limit is. The good is he is probably more experienced, plus, it takes the guesswork out of the problem. The bad is ofc you won't be able to come up with your ''own'' programm very soon. Perhaps one should follow some less likely to hurt progress-principles instead and branch out from there.
      ( captain obvious post, I know )

    3. @Joe Kensei

      Was this meant to be a reply? Seems a little different to the topic I raised.

      The practical manifestation of what Mike's MRV stuff is for lifting is really simple - do more til you are unable to, then take a light period to recover. Repeat with more weight and/or reps.

      How much "as much as you can do" is takes time to figure out, because it requires you to find "too much".

      He also states that being unable to match last session could be due to accumulating fatigue, so at some point you need to push and be "stupid" to know whether or not it was or wasn't MRV.

      Again - he's all about doing more til you can't, then resetting and doing it again. Not revolutionary, just with new words.

      I imagine this kind of stuff may have originally been targeted more towards actual sports scientists to establish some common language and/or creating more questions, considering Mike's background as a professor.

    4. To: yeah_nah
      Ah yes,I'm sorry,I was just talking generally,starting from the idea behind MRV(of what I understand of it) then went off in a tangent, (over-?)generalizing. I think I used the wrong term. In my above text, if you want, replace ''programme'' with ''specific weekly volume per muscle group''. The idea was, if you use a concept like Mike's MRV ( AKA simple common sense I guess )you can find your limit on your own ( thus balancing between optimal gains and overdoing the volume ) whereas if you blindly follow some coach's recommendation ''do X work/muscle group/week and don't change it'' you won't be finding your limit anytime soon.

  6. I agree totally. I feel like some people need to "resign from the debating society" and just go lift weights. I have been reading your blog for a while. Your thoughts on not sweating the minor things and the value of "getting some" (experience) helped me break my analysis paralysis, pick a program, and just get under the barbell. So thank you!

    I was wondering if you have ever written a post about your "essential library". I would interested in seeing a top ten of both your philosophy/theory must reads and training books. If you already have a post like this, please let me know, and I will comb it out of your archive. If not, I think I'm not the only one who would appreciate a look into the "Mythical Strength Library".

    Anywho, great work as always!

    1. Kari,

      I've not specifically set out to do that. I've made mention of a few things in other posts, but never sat down to hammer that all out. I might make that a post in the near future; thanks for the idea!