Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gillian's pro debut this weekend and new site

Gillian will be in San Diego for her IFBB pro debut this weekend!  Her new site was also launched so please go check it out.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff

The other day I had to make a trip into Whore Foods, aka, Whole Foods.  Why is it that for some reason I still expect to walk in there and see a bunch of people who lift and are in shape, but instead it's always filled with fat hippies?

And how do these people afford all the shit in there?  I see grocery carts filled up and can only think "how the hell do you pay for that week in and week out?  And why do you care about organic and shit when it's very apparent that you have no care of what kind of shape you are in?"  This is mesmerizing to me.

While there, I found some organic protein powder.  By a brand called "Warrior."  On the label it had words like "hard-core" and "raw".  It also had "vegan" on there too.  All of those words don't go together.  I am absolutely positive that if the Vikings knew what Vegans were they would have invaded those areas without weapons and just beat them all to death with their hands for the pleasure of it.

I've been asked about a million times about what it was like to hang out with Dmitry.  I tried to address it the best I could.  He doesn't follow a special diet.  He ate what he felt like eating it appeared to me.  He has a HUGE noggin.  I mean, his head is twice the size of a normal dude's head.  And his hands are literally the biggest I've ever seen.  Just ungodly big.  He's super serious about 90% of the time.  Or at least he was around me.  He would loosen up at lunch a lot, and definitely when he was teaching.  But otherwise, he's pretty stoic.  I still liked him a lot.

Edit:  Charles told me last night that Dmitry has loosened up a lot as the tour has gone on.  So my guess is, he's one of those people that takes a while to get comfortable around people enough to be himself.

I am working on a video collage for my trip to Montreal.  Hang in there, it may take a few weeks because I still don't have all the video I need from the trip in order to get it done.  Once I do, I think it's going to be pretty awesome.

I am working on a potential seminar tour in Australia alongside another guy.  It's in the initial planning phases but it looks like barring some logistical issues, it will happen.  Most likely will happen in late March and early April.  From what I can tell it will be Sydney and Melbourne.

I often run into people who want to talk about lifting or remark about my appearance and say the strangest things.  Sometimes people say things like "I know when I was in the gym often I felt so good all the time.  I bet you feel good staying in shape like that."

This got me to thinking.  I don't know that after so many years, that you "feel great" all the time.  I do know that when I was doing more conditioning and cared less about weight on the bar that I did actually FEEL better.  When my bodyweight was in the high 230's and low 240's and I had a big gas tank, I felt pretty awesome.  But as I've gotten bigger and bigger over the years, I wouldn't say that's the same.  Not only that, but after more than 2 decades of this, I have a lot of cracks and pops on a daily basis.  My shoulder both pop, very loudly, first thing in the morning.  Almost as if they are out of socket.

On plane rides my hips hurt for days afterwards.  My IT bands get painful and my elbows are generally a wreck.

I think that there are types of training that can make you "feel good".  Lifting for the pump and doing some cardio to stay in shape (conditioning wise I mean) does indeed tend to make one feel better.  But pushing any types of limits in the weight room eventually beats the shit out of you.  And often times, the shit beating is a lasting thing.

I have two torn biceps, a badly torn adductor, tore the muscle belly in my quad, a permanently separated shoulder, and all sorts of other aches and pains that come and go.  I'm not REALLY complaining.  Honest.  I consider it an occupational hazard.  I'm just saying the physical manifestation of what many overly muscular people have, came at price.  When I was at the Mr. Olympia I watched Ronnie Coleman hobble out on the stage gingerly.  He had undergone surgery for a dual hip replacement.  My first thought was "that's what it does."  All the years of moving enormous weights, and training in a way that constantly asks the body to move forward past something it doesn't really want to do also means paying for it.

Interestingly enough, I had a talk with another guy at the Olympia who told me he had a conversation with an older powerlifter who said "if you think that's pain, then quit lifting and see what happens.  It's worse.  The pain becomes exponentially worse.  Now you're no longer moving like you did, and you're not taking the joints through those ranges of motion and it actually gets worse.  Pain wise."

Truth is, I never thought of that.  But probably because I can't ever see a time when I don't lift.  I know there will be a day come where I am just lifting because it's habit, and because I love training and won't give a shit about hitting 1 rep max PR's.  Certainly there will come a day when I won't give a shit about competing.  That day comes for almost everyone.  I have lots of other things I want to accomplish in life that I know will eventually be more important to me than what I can lift, or how I look.  I think that's the natural progression of life and all of the endeavours we undertake.  No different than how pro athletes wake up one day and go "ok, that's it.  I've had my fill."  And then they go on to other things that fill that void of competing or trying to get better at that particular craft.  That is, if they were smart.

I think it's important to be cultivating things in your life that will be there for you once that desire has waned.  Lots of people don't think about this when they are immersed in a particular passion.  Especially physical ones.  Never giving a single thought to the fact that one day, those gifts and abilities will be gone, and there will be this gaping hole where that competitive part of you used to be.  I have read several articles from former athletes who have indeed struggled to fill that void left by competing.  They are sitting around a big mansion with lots of money in the bank, but all the things that filled their life with happiness in regards to competing is gone.  And nothing is there to take the place of it.  When you empty yourself into a single thing like that, then it can be hard to find your place in this world once it's gone.  No different than a sport or a relationship or a job.  Virtually all of these things are temporal.  And this is why it's important to find other things to fill your life with, lest you live a life of wanting when all of that is removed.

People can get short sighted in the middle of living something that consumes them.  They can forget that it's very possible to wake up tomorrow and have all of that taken away very quickly.  What else is it that you're filling your life with outside of that one thing?  In a pie chart, if one thing is taking up too much of that space, then how are you going to fill it once it is empty?

That's really up to you.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bench assistance with PR

Bodyweight - 265

Press Behind the neck -

155 x 5
185 x 5
225 x 4
275 x 3
315 x 5 PR

Db Bench Press - 100's x 35, 25

Hammer Curls - 4x20
Rear Delt Machine - 4x20

Notes - Needed this real bad.  My arms have been killing me for a few weeks but I figured out that I had basically some overuse in the brachialis.  Been doing high rep hammer curls every day for the past 4 days and the pain has subsided tremendously.  Lots better.  I still had SOME pain during this session but it was manageable.  Goes to show you how limiting pain can be in your training.  Staying healthy and feeling good are really huge factors in being able to lift well.  Another Captain Obvious type statement.

Anyway, counting this as a "PR" because the last time I did this for 5 I was about 20 pounds heavier.  So this feels excellent.

Cookie cutter routines

Cookie cutter routines are often shit on on the net as being substandard because everyone thinks they are a special snowflake and need custom tailoring to their routine.

When I was a novice and intermediate, we didn't have personal trainers for the most part. We sure has shit didn't have online trainers. You bought books or magazines and went to work.

I used many of these cookie cutter routines with great success. Something you should remember is, it's not about the "routine" but about the principles the routine is built upon.

- Progression

- Hard work

- Basic movements

- Training economy

- Frequency/Volume/Intensity management

Most cookie cutter routines that I found during those times took all of these things into factor in some way, shape, or form. That's because all of these principles have been around since the barbell was invented. As I've stated before in regards to all of these dudes doing studies trying to figure shit out....we already have. We've had decades and decades of clinical research going on right in the gym.

The reason a full body 3 x a week workout based around squats, presses, and various pulls is popular is because it works. It's a great way to begin training, or get out of a rut because it eliminates the bullshit in your program.

The reason most principles end up sticking around is because someone tries them, found they worked, then shared it with others and they too benefited and passed on their success with it.

Hell, even cookie cutter diets "work" so long as they are based around some simple principles like calories in vs calories out, or if you need to gain weight account for supporting your activities then a surplus for growth.

Lots of very advanced lifters put together cookie cutter routines based off of their own experience and/or the fact that they put many others through these same routines with great results.

So don't shit on a "cookie cutter" routine because of the fact that it's not some special snowflake. So long as a routine is based around a set of sound principles then that are in line with the goals you're trying to accomplish, then it's probably a solid option to use for your training plan.

Some "cookie cutter" routines I come back to fairly often are these - 

Day 1 - Legs
Day 2 - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Day 3 - Back, Biceps

Day 1 - Chest and Back
Day 2 - Legs
Day 3 - Shoulders and Arms

For powerlifting - 

Day 1 - Squat and deadlift
Day 2 - Bench
Day 3 - Squat and deadlift assistance work
Day 4 - Bench assistance

Day 1 - Squat and assistance
Day 2 - Bench and assistance
Day 3 - Deadlift and assistance 

For specializing a lift or bodypart - 

Day 1 - Specialization 
Day 2 - Maintenance work for everything else
Day 3 - Specialization 
Day 4 - Maintenance work for everything else

Of course these are the the skeleton parts of the routine.  From there, anyone can fill in all of the other pieces to massage it to address their own priorities.  

Follow LRB on Facebook -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Earn it - My article at

One of the biggest takeaways I got from the week I spent hanging out with Poliquin and Klokov came from a conversation I had with Dmitry at dinner the last night he was there.

He was talking about how when they were training a major competition, and that training would get planned for the entire year. There would be nothing left to chance. There was no “winging it” or “instinctual training”. The whole year was mapped out and every workout was accounted for.

In that time, there was nothing else going on in their lives. No partying, no social life, no back yard bar-b-q’s with your buddies. It was, in Dmitry’s words, “training…all training.”

Dmitry said during that year they would also slowly diet down into their weight classes. So their food intake, or lack of, had to be accounted for as well. Despite what you’ve read on the net or think you know, he was almost 270 pounds when he was training. He would diet down to the 105 kilo class over the course of training as part of prep for competition.

After much thought, I realized that for Dmitry, to do a 400 pound clean and press shortly after waking up with no breakfast, coffee, or water wasn’t doable just because he was a freak. Let’s be clear about that, he is. But it was also something he was capable of because he was a freak that was a product of his environment. I mean, when you’ve spent years and years living that kind of discipline then traveling around doing seminars, and working up to sub maximal weights on little sleep and no food probably isn’t a big deal for him. It looks like a big deal to us, but I imagine his training in preparation for the Olympics was infinitely harder.

The discipline those guys have when preparing for a competition appears to me, to be far greater than what we see from the typical American lifter. Many, not all of course but many, write out a routine but are more or less haphazard in their training, aren’t as consistent as they should be. Not only that, the other parts of their life reflect such inconsistency as well. Eating and sleeping aren’t made priorities. Guys eat a lot of poor quality food, and get a lot of poor quality sleep. That part of “training” isn’t really factored in as being quite as important as the training itself. Yet the people at the very top, even the genetically gifted, eventually realize that if they are going to grab that last 1% then everything that can contribute to them getting better, has to be accounted for. Nothing can be left out. No stone could be unturned.

Upon thinking about all of this, I realized that despite how disciplined we think we are, there is always room for improvement. There just has to be a change in mental approach.

Nothing given; everything earned.

That rest day? Earn it.

Those extra calories? Earn them (you probably don’t need 1000 grams of carbs after an arm workout)

Your goals? Earn them.

I was thinking about all of this yesterday as I sat on the couch with a cold, with every part of me saying “you don’t really want to go train legs again. You just did squats yesterday.”

I wasn’t able to get my squat assistance and deadlifts in afterwards because my arms have been killing me every workout, and the pain is very intense. However, I have a meet in a few weeks, and I realized what a little bitch I was being about it, then packed my shit up, went to the gym, and did 4 sets of 8 on hacks, and then pulled 635 for two sets of doubles from a deficit. The cycle had called for 675 x 2, however because of the factors mentioned before, I had to reduce intensity a bit, and increase volume a little instead. I think this worked well, and at least I got my work in and was able to leave knowing the work was done. If I do well enough at the meet, it will be because I earned it. If I had missed this training session, maybe I am left thinking that a part of my performance suffered because I didn’t “man up” enough to get the work done.

We often think we have earned things we have not. I mean how often have you heard someone say “I did cardio this morning, so I earned this piece of cake.”

What’s going on in this situation? If you did cardio then I assume that your goal is probably fat loss. So shouldn’t the mentality be that since you’re supposed to be in fat loss mode, that what is being earned is the loss of fat? Not the cake?

As strength athletes we tend to understand this a little better when it comes to weight on the bar. Bodybuilders tend to understand this a little better in terms of gaining muscle mass or a new degree of leanness. So there is context there but far more often than not, it only exists in a vacuum. It’s simplified.

“I need to train to get stronger, because I want to earn more weight on the bar.”

“I need to train to get bigger, because I want to mass on my (inert bodypart name here).”

For non-competitors I think it’s a little more difficult to get into this mode. Especially from an all encompassing standpoint because the body doesn’t want to change. So the bare minimum is done in most facets yet frustration sets in when change doesn’t happen fast enough. I think a large part of that is because the mentality is, they are focused on earning the wrong things. People spend all week being disciplined on a diet to “earn” a cheat meal. A more focused mentality would be to “earn” more pounds off the scale or earn a lower bodyfat percentage. With a simple change in ideology, the earning of the cheat meal gets pushed aside, and now that person could/should be more focused on being more disciplined in their diet and conditioning to earn something else.

This same backwards mentality creeps its way into training as well. People want to earn more pounds on the bar, but often get trapped in a cycle of testing, testing, testing, to see if the new poundage is there. Forgetting that training for it is the earning part. Put in the time training, rather than testing, and the new PR is earned more quickly.

Just so that we don’t lose context, Dmitry was in a rare class of people whose only job was to train. Most of us aren’t afforded this luxury. We don’t get to base our entire day around our time in the gym, plan naps, plan meals, etc so forth and so on. Most of us have normal jobs, have kids, and significant others that need or expect a certain amount of personal attention from us. So we have to strive for balance between all of those things, and also find a way to make training as efficient as possible.

Understanding balance -

The key to balance, I have found, is to understand you can’t have balance all the time. Balance should be seen as something attained over time, instead of something maintained at ALL times. At certain times, you will need to prioritize one thing while something else takes a bit of a backseat for a while. If you want to get in the best shape of your life, and have a time frame in which you desire to do this, then for that time frame you will need to make that undertaking a priority. When that goal is met, then you can move the things you neglected back to the forefront. It’s important to have a strong support system during these times that understand why you are doing what you are doing, and understand their role. People who aren’t on board with what you are trying to accomplish will often make reaching your goals much harder than it has to be. There has to be understanding and patience on their part in order to help you make these things a priority.

Understanding all the facets that will help you succeed -

Sleep, stress, diet, training, and supplementation will all play a role in helping you reach your goals as quickly as possible. When you only account for two things, like diet and training, then you’re shortchange the entire process by a significant amount. Now the process will take longer. It’s been proven through studies that less sleep equals less fat loss. I think anecdotally we all know that less sleep also means less recovery. Now training will be sub-optimal and the entire cycle of getting better is short circuited. Progress will be slower, and reaching the goal will take longer. If you want to get from point A to point E, then take B,C, and D into account.

Don’t deviate from your plan unless it’s absolutely required by setting HARD goals -

Everyone talks about goal setting, and I do as well. And it’s vitally important to not only set specific and realistic goals, but difficult goals as well. When is the last time you went 30 days without eating anything except what was on your diet? When is the last time you mapped out a training cycle and didn’t miss a workout for 60 days? When is the last time you mapped out a three month training cycle and didn’t miss a lift for those three months? When is the last time you were in bed every single night at the same time? Again, when you start factoring in all of these things then how you plan may look drastically different. Someone who is overzealous may sit down and say they are going to train 6 days a week, twice a day some of those days, then realize after a week that their battered body just isn’t going to hold up to this for months on end. Then the plan has to be scrapped. You should be able to sit down and write out two well planned 6 week training cycles, and not deviate from anything on that paper unless injury or “life” happens.

Conclusion –

If training has sucked, or if progress has been minimal for a while then maybe you need a self assessment in how disciplined you’ve been with all the facets that play a part in success. Maybe you’ve been setting goals trying to earn all the wrong things. Maybe your self discipline needs a swift kick in the ass. If that’s the case, refocus and find all the right things you need to be earning.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What to look for in a coach

So a while back I listed off the things that you as a client should do for your coach.

Here's the other side.  How to find a proper coach, since that topic has come up a few times.

- What has his or her clients accomplished?  

There's a big debate about a myriad of the facets a coach should be in possession of.  I read an article about how he or she should have this much education, this much personal experience in the task at hand, etc.

But what it really all boils down to is one thing...does that coach get results?  He or she should have a list of clients that can show tangible results.  It doesn't matter if they are elite level athletes or the soccer mom that wanted to get in the best shape of her life.  Results are all that matter.

It is true that experience and education do matter.  And in my personal opinion someone should have at least a modicum of personal success in the field they are teaching.  I mean, if you're going to teach people how to build huge biceps and no one can tell you've ever picked up a barbell, then that might be a hard sell.  On the flip side, if you've taken a bunch of skinny runts and put big biceps on them, you might know what you're talking about.

Either way, a coach with experience should be able to show you the athletes he's made better.

As I noted in the previous article related to this, once you hire a coach it isn't their job to earn your trust.  You are making the decision to trust in a coach when you hire them.  Ask for the accomplishments of said coach before you hire them so that you can do that.

- A coach's own personal achievements does not make them a great coach.

There is a lot of this going on at the online coaching level now.

There are people who are elite level strength athletes or fitness/physique/bikini/bodybuilder competitors that have clients based off of their success as a competitor.

This drives me insane.

Just because you have big lifts or just because you did two shows, doesn't make you an expert in teaching and educating others.  There's a lot of women out there right now that have done well in women's "show" that don't have a clue as how to train or diet.  They do well because they have great genetics and respond well to what some other coach did for them.  They then turn around and think that because they do well in competition, that they are now just as good at getting others ready for such things.

Likewise there are bodybuilders and powerlifters out there that are at the top of those sports that believe because of that, and that alone, that they would be or are, great coaches.  George Farah is one of the best diet coaches in all of bodybuilding.  I'm not sure how many Olympia competitors he did dieting for come Olympia time, but it was something like 7 of the top 10 guys.  As a competitor himself, George was merely average.

Often times, the guys that things come easiest for, are the last people you want to go to for help.  When I was working with Klokov last week, he admitted to me that he had never had an issue with mobility.  He was always mobile and flexible.  So when he was doing seminars earlier in the year and people asked him about how to get more mobile for certain movements, he was clueless.  Yet people often look at those best in their field, and think they are the most capable at teaching that skill.

One has nothing to do with the other.  You're better off finding someone that had to work their ass off to find success than someone who showed up and was gifted from day 1.  Now, this doesn't mean that certain guys at the top don't know shit.  There are plenty.  I'm just saying that a persons level of success at their sport isn't a clear indicator that they are knowledgeable at teaching.  Understand the difference.

Your coach should be professional - 

One of the things about personal training, especially in person, is the lack of proximity that comes with it.  What I mean by that is, you're literally going to be close to that person.  Physically.

I've heard from dozens of women who got rid of coaches because of their inability to keep from either flirting, or being somewhat inappropriate before, during, and after training.

So when I talk about comfort here, I'm not talking about level of effort during training.  I'm talking about how he or she acts with you on a personal level.  A coach should treat his or her job as a professional job.  I don't care if they are coaching out of their home, at the Y, or at a giant commercial gym.  If said coach gazing at your tits the whole training session then his (or her!) mind may not be where it needs to be.  That is, making sure you are working correctly in every facet.

Sure, some people hook up in the training world.  I go back and forth on this.  If you find a love connection with your coach, hey that's great.  But I hold the opinion that coach's shouldn't be inappropriate with their clients.  Oh and as a client, you may have a coach that doesn't appreciate you being inappropriate with them.  I was training a woman out of her house one time.....never mind.

- Conclusion 

I could write a book on what to look for in a coach, but these three things should cover it fairly well.

Make sure your coach has a history of producing results.

Remember that their own personal achievement in a sport isn't indicative of their ability as a coach.

Your coach should be professional in the way they work with you as a person.

Follow LRB on Facebook -
Get LRB on Amazon -

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Training today - 1 week of meet prep left

No belt no wrap squats -









Pause Squats - 500x2x5

All easy even though I feel like hammered shit. My arms are hurting so bad I couldn't pull after. Weight is also down to 260. Not sure why. Maybe Ebola?

Will deadlift tomorrow and do leg assistance work after that.