Sunday, June 3, 2018


Before I begin, I know for a fact I’ve already talked about this subject before, but it’s a classic and still something that I’m figuring out in my own training, so it’s worth coming back to from time to time.  I’ve witnessed a few authors lamenting the negative impact of social media on training these days, and ironically enough I’ve witnessed this lamentation ON social media, but I digress.  The primary complaint here is that, with the constant 24 hour surveillance inherent in those individuals who choose to effectively live their lives on social media, there is a constant pressure to perform and, in turn, be at peak performance during all training.  What we observe are trainees that are always as lean as possible, always setting PRs in training, moving the heaviest weights, etc etc…in training.  Where is this performance on the day of the competition?  It’s when the excuses come out, assuming these people ever even compete in the first place.  These folks end up peaking in training and have nothing left to give when the time actually comes to perform.  They made the mistake of focusing on raising their ceiling so much that their floor has remained the same.

Image result for weightlifting snatch injury
And sometimes, you can get hurt when you keep trying to raise the roof

These days, people greatly misunderstand the purpose of training, but it wasn’t always that way.  Prior to the era where you could upload every meal you took, most people trained in solitude, with only their training partners aware of how their training was going, what they were doing, and what it looked like.  For everyone else, the only time you observed a trainee was when they showed up at a competition and displayed the benefit of their training.  In turn, there was a clear distinction of WHEN performance mattered: at the competition.  This meant that training was the place where the ugliness occurred, where “the sausage got made”, to borrow a pretty horrifically imaged metaphor.  In training, it was where you had bad days, looked bad, grinded out awful reps, failed to meet some arbitrary internet standard, etc etc.  It didn’t matter how you looked THEN, as long as it made you successful in competition.

But now, trainees operate with two different competitions in mind: the looming one at the end of the training cycle, and the daily competition to always look good and strong.  Unfortunately, you can’t compete every day.  Once again, we knew that BEFORE the internet, but somehow lost that knowledge.  With trainees recording every set to upload to the internet, they’re overly concerned with ensuring that they’re always lifting the heaviest weights possible so that they look VERY strong in training, they want to make sure they are always as lean as possible so that they look good in their selfies, they want to ensure they are at peak performance 24 hours a day, every day of their life, hitting perfect depth on squats and not grinding a single deadlift in fear of internet red lights.  How ELSE can they hope for the prestigious sponsorship that gives them 10% off the ONLY legal herbal testosterone booster on the market #BREASTMODE?

Image result for condom depot UFC
I suppose there are worse sponsors

The result of this insanity is ineffective training.  Training is supposed to increase your FLOOR, not your ceiling.  By this, I mean it’s supposed to improve your baseline, bottom of the barrel ability.  You train so that your WORST performance continues to improve, because if you improve your worst, your best inevitably gets better too, but that does NOT work in reverse.  When you take a handful of semi-legal stimulants and blast death metal until your ears ring and hit up the nose tork and slam your skull against the bar and hit a grindy squat single with the entire gym screaming at you, you’ve absolutely improved your top performance as much as possible…for a training PR.  Congrats. No one but the internet cares.  But when you add 5lbs to your “still asleep” squat, it’s only going to increase exponentially when you add all that other stuff.  When you finally let your abs fade so you can add 20lbs to your frame, you’re only going to look better once you chip away the fat again and let the abs out.  When you eat enough food to allow yourself to accumulate more volume in training, it means you’ll have better conditioning available to help you recover once that food goes away. 

Your training is where looks don’t matter.  This is where you need to do the things that make you better for when it DOES matter.  This means some reps can be not clean, some squats can be not to depth, some deadlifts can be soft locked, box jumps can be missed, etc.  It means LOWER weights can be used.  I’ve honestly taken the approach that I try to train in the least ideal conditions possible, because it means I get to lift less weight in order to achieve a desired training stimulus.  This was a boon when I was recovering from knee surgery and didn’t want to put a heavy load on my recovering knee.  And, amazingly enough, I ended up setting PRs and winning events in competitions with weights I never even came CLOSE to handling in training, because the training made me STRONGER for when it mattered.  Had I been concerned about making sure my weights always looked impressive in training, I’d never actually get to the point of actually getting stronger.

Image result for squatting on a bosu ball
But think about how COOL you can look!

Keep your eyes on the prize and remember WHY you’re training in the first place.  Training isn’t the goal; training helps you ACHIEVE the goal.  It doesn’t matter how you look on the way there, so long as, once you get there, you are big and strong.  Let the Instagram stars have their followers be all agog over their amazing training lifts, and let those some Instagram stars be the master of excuses when the time comes to either explain why they had such an awful competition or why they don’t even compete in the first place.  Spend your time being ugly in training so that you can come out the other side something unworldly.  Build your cocoon in training, focus on the goal, and transform.


  1. Hi Punisher,
    Great post. I really enjoyed this one.
    A subject I'd like your opinion on- not sure if it's worth a blog or just a reply in comments.
    I struggle with structuring and timing deloads. I find the week after I'm lethargic and lacking intensity and struggle to hit weights/reps I managed reasonably comfortably before the deload. The point of a deload is to come back refreshed and raring to go but I experience almost the opposite effect.
    Have you experienced this after deloads? Any comments or insights would be welcome.

    1. Hi Jen, not OP but it may help you to deload volume but not intensity. My deloads occur usually every 6 weeks. I do a single at 88-90% of 1RM and 3x4 at 70-74% for each of the main lifts (not all on the same day!). Little to no accessories.

      This keeps the intensity high so you're ready to attack the bar the following week but still cuts plenty of volume. During the deload I typically feel pretty beat up but the following week I feel great and desperate to hit something heavy.

    2. Hi. I was thinking of trying this approach. I usually either do something completely different, such as circuits or go very light but high volume with dumbbells. I think the problem is I lose my mental focus and intensity and it takes me a week or two to get in the zone again. I'll probably give this a go next deload even though I'll find it difficult to keep the volume down. Thanks for your response.

    3. Appreciate the comments Jen. I don't tend to do the traditional deload of going to the gym and still doing light weights of my lifts, but instead tend to take the entire week off, save for a conditioning workout or 2. However, I also ensure that, leading up to this week off, I spend the week prior really just giving my all and leaving nothing on the table training wise. Essentially, I EARN that deload, and make it that I NEED to deload that week. It tends to make me feel pretty well rested, and since I'm spending a full week off of training, I miss training and am eager to return to it. You might find similar success with that approach.

    4. Thanks for reply Punisher. I think I'll combine the advice here. Go all out the week before, take 3/4 days completely off and then just do some heavy singles/doubles of main lifts to keep my mind in the game.
      I'm surprised you say you're eager to return to training, I thought you hated it.......ha ha

    5. I absolutely do, but I love the results. The week off gives me a time to reflect on it, and it's typically the time I start making stupid contracts with myself about how I'm going to come back that week with some stupid crazy volume and make incredible progress. Helps shape the perspective.

  2. Thanks again. I love it when people talk about training at their worst. It's how people stay dangerous.

    1. Absolutely. There are some folks that I wouldn't want to fight on their best day, but there are some folks I wouldn't want to fight even on their worse day, haha.

  3. Great article as always. Last night I ruptured my Achilles. I have no idea how to deal with all this. It's an emotional experience to say the least. Your blog will be a staple of my reading. Thanks for all of your work

    1. You'll bounce back Jamie. Just time to get creative. you'll learn a lot through this process, and come back stronger.

    2. I have been telling myself exactly that. thanks.

  4. Excellent article. Been thinking about this and i would like to say i think that training to improve a baseline is actually what makes an effective program. I know that every time i got off the weights and back onto them i got back to my previous strength level fairly quickly, and looking back, i rarely if ever tried to max out or do abything crazy.

    And yeah, training sucks, but the results are good after awhile.