Thursday, April 17, 2014

Moving weights and making muscles work

Most people don't seem to understand the difference between moving weights through space, and make the muscle do the work.

These are two very different concepts, but applied correctly will really pay dividends.

Movements like squats and deadlifts are about moving weight through space. Same for most pressing movements. Especially barbell pressing.

However for movements like pulldowns, rows, db chest presses, flyes, laterals, leg curls, etc those are "making the muscle do the work" movements.

There's no point in trying to do extremely heavy laterals. The whole point of the movement is to build the side delts. If you start cheating the weight because you're going too heavy, the traps and other areas of the upperback end up getting too heavily involved.

Remember why you are using a certain movement, and what you are using it for.

In all reality, the same applies for rows as well. Why would you do doubles and triples in a row? You're trying to build your back.

Understanding these concepts will help you to not only get stronger, but grow larger. When you watch very experienced bodybuilders they have a distinct connection with making the muscle do work. That's a significant part of why they grow massive. Because they understand the ol "mind muscle" connection, and actually concentrate on the eccentric and concentric portions of the movement.

Be powerful and explosive when moving weight through space. But be controlled in your movements when trying to make a particular muscle do the work.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Traveling to Tucson - Day 1

Friday - April 11th, 2014

I hate flying.

Not because of a fear of crashing or some shit like that.  Just because of the monotony that is air travel, and the reminder of the incompetence of most people.  I'm working hard on being a kinder, gentler Paul but air travel really tests the limits of that for me more times than not.

For example, why the fuck when the plane stops does it take everyone so long to get their carry-on bag, and walk off?  I don't understand this at all.

You reach above you, grab a bag, walk off the plane.  But without fail I'm always sitting there for 10-20 minutes.  It reminds me of when traffic on the interstate has come to a crawl, and you're stuck for half an hour and when you finally get to what's holding up traffic it's like a Volvo on the side of the road with the emergency flashers on.

What would be a great thing for the airlines would be for them to let people that don't have a carry-on, to get off first.  That'd be great.  I really wish they'd work that in there.

I also rarely if ever sit next to someone interesting on a flight.  By interesting I mean someone that can or will even hold a conversation.  Not that we have to bond or hold hands, but if I'm sitting by you for over 2 hours then having a chat to pass the time doesn't seem like it would be an insurmountable chore.  Then I get reminded of how socially awkward some people can be, and I put my headphones back in and close my eyes.

You also don't know in this day and age who will be sneaking photos of you at the airport.  Funny, and maybe slightly creepy, someone took a pic of me at the airport and then sent it to a friend.  Well, that friend knows me, and sent me said photo.

Apparently she liked my airport attire.

I arrived in Tucson and met Danny Sawaya, the owner of Tucson Evolution with a couple of his sidekicks; Chris and "Panda".

I was starving and borderline hangry so we went straight from the airport to an all you can eat sushi joint that did in fact have some tremendously good sushi.  I think I ate 7 rolls, but skipped on the 8th one because the look and the smell of the scallops did not sit well with my "don't eat that shit" meter, and I passed.

I was supposed to do a podcast with Chris and Panda after, however I was pretty exhausted after they were kind enough to reschedule it.

Looking forward to this seminar and working with people this weekend.  Now if I could just shake this recent bout of insomnia I'd feel even better.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

No Belt Deficit Deadlift - 705x1

Bodyweight - 280

High Bar Pause Squats -

Deficit Deadlifts -

Notes - Guess that's that.

Even more importantly, I had the shits the night before, and felt terrible.  I could have waited another few weeks when my training cycle allows me to pull heavier, but honestly...and this isn't my style, I wanted to get this shit out of the way.  I've had enough of it.

Suns out, guns out! New tanks!

Well it's warm weather now, so that means you should be sporting all sorts of gainz from this past winter.

It's time to show that biz off in a tank.  Luckily I have a new one, and it's pretty boss.....

These are $20, and I am taking PRE-ORDERS starting today.  I will do pre-orders for a week.

Go to the store to grab yours.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Some Base Building FAQs and questions answered

As the questions and comments pour in, I see some guys that must not read the Base Building manual very well, or just latched hold of certain parts and ran with it.

So I'm going to go over a few things here that keep coming up.

1.  "Paul, I did squat Model I and did it in under 12 minutes.  I need to add weight right?

Well, I don't know because the point wasn't to just rush through the set.  It's not about an egg timer.  It's about being able to get the work in, but making sure that EVERY SET IS EXPLOSIVE.

If you got all 5+ sets in, in under 15 minutes, but the last set or two was a grinder, then no.  You don't need to move up in weight.

The other part that irks me about this is that people are still the boat here, in that all they are focused on is JUST adding weight to the bar.  And yes, at some point that trumps all.  We are trying to get stronger right?  But the method here, the principles that make the method, has more than one moving part.

You need to be able to do all of the work efficiently.  That means getting the work in quickly, but explosively for every set.

2.  "I did Model I for bench, but I couldn't get all the sets and reps in, so I lowered the weight and finished."

Where did I write to do that????

I didn't.

You need to go ahead and get all of the volume in, and then over time you should be able to do all 5 sets of 8 on bench.

So if you went from doing 3 sets of 8, then got in a set of 6, then 4, to where you could do all 5 sets of 8, are you stronger?


Don't take weight off the bar.  If you're setting your EDM correctly then Model I on bench may not be 100% doable at first.  This is OK.  THIS IS OOOO KKKKK.

When I developed Model I, I wasn't always able to get all 5 sets of 8 in.  On bad days, I would often feel things going into the tank fast after that third set.  When I got to where all 5 sets of 8 was pretty easy, I saw a HUGE increase in my bench.

Volume PR's are STILL PR's.  Be able to do more work with a given workload means that strength did increase.  Being able to EASILY do more work with a given workload means strength increased dramatically.  Stop making it all about weight on the bar as a measuring stick for progress.  There are many ways to measure this in training.

3.  "My bench didn't move much on Model I."

Try Model II or III, which includes a back off set of as many as possible.  I don't need to do this anymore now as I've found it to be a little bit counterproductive for me at this point.  I tend to use incline and press behind the neck for my rep work now.

4.  "I only have 14 weeks until my meet.  What should I do?"

This is in the book.  Run the short cycle for the last 5 weeks, and then whatever is left over time wise before that 5 weeks, do base building.

5.  "Will base building work while losing fat?"

YES!  And very well because you're not going to be trying to set rep PR's, and it forces you to move your EDM as your strength levels move.  Some guys don't lose a lot of strength when dieting, or they don't diet long enough to see that overall effect take place.  For those that do, the great thing about base building is that you don't have to walk in the gym and feel defeated as strength drops because you can't move the weights you were moving weeks and weeks before.  Just move your EDM, and reprogram.

6.  "My lifts are X, Y, and Z....should I use Base Building?"

If you have to ask if your lifts are high enough to use it, then they probably aren't.  I have written for a while that a beginners training strength is such a fast moving target that it's hard to nail down programming based on intensities.  If your numbers are relatively small, or you're a real novice, there are programs in the manual that will get you stronger and explain these things.

There's a big difference in a guy using 165 for his sets of squats, and a guy using 385 for his sets of squats.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Training - Bench, and an incredible story about my spotter

The last time I put up a video it was about my spotter, and what an awful job he did, and how I took the blame for that being the case.

This time, I have a story about my spotter, but it's a story of survival.

About 8 years ago I was training at another gym in my area, and struck up a conversation with a fellow lifter.  Older gentleman, who was in awesome shape, not just for his age but for any age.

He introduced himself as Kevin and we chatted a bit in between sets, about the usual gym and lifting bullshit.  I got to know Kevin on a "gym basis" and we'd ask each other how training and diet was going, etc when we saw each other.  One day Kevin asked me a question about anabolics and I was curious as to why he would be asking me, as I was completely natty at the time.

Kevin went on to tell me that he had been diagnosed with HIV back in the mid 80's.  I was stunned, as Kevin was in impeccable condition, with quite a fair amount of muscle mass.  Kev went on to tell me that it was anabolics that had kept his life quality high for all these years, and was the one thing that had kept him from wasting away into nothing.

Kevin told me that it wasn't until he got on testosterone and anavar that he stopped dwindling down to skin and bones, and if not for those drugs he can't imagine how bad life would be each day.

I ended up changing gyms later, and then once more (long story) to where I am now, at Gold's.  Well today, as I was benching I happened to look over and saw that sure enough, it was Kevin.  Still kicking, and still training hard.

I went over to him and gave him the required bro hug and asked him how he was doing.  Kevin had lost a lot of weight since I last saw him, but his spirits were still high.  He told me that he wasn't sure if that was me because he thought no way in hell I had gotten that big since the last time he saw me.

I grabbed Kevin on the way out of the gym and asked him if he would be open to doing a video interview in the next couple of weeks to talk about living with HIV/AIDS for almost 30 years now, and how anabolics played a part in his life.  So stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, 365x8.  Pec is slowly getting better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Training for the time constrained lifter

For lots of dudes that sling the iron there will be times throughout life where getting into the gym 3-5 times a week may not be a possibility.

Even worse, there may be times where you can't get in very often, and are limited by time.

Lots of guys fear that they will lose strength and size if they can only get into the gym twice a week.  But understanding your current level of development can help you design a program that will at least maintain what you have built, and that's better than regression.

For guys that have a lot of years under the bar, and a very solid base, often time they get stronger on less frequency.  It's pretty common for guys to actually limit their progress by training too often.  So it's not surprising to me when I hear of a guy that already has good strength numbers, to get stronger when he's forced to reduce his time in the gym for a while.

The other conundrum is when someone is forced to squeeze their training session down in regards to time spent in the gym.

For people that are running into these issues, here are some solutions I present.  

Beginner to Intermediate Level Twice a week - 

For the guy that is just finding his way, we're going to squat and press twice one week.  The next week there will be a deadlift and "back" day, before squatting and pressing again.

Day 1 -
Squat - warm up, then 5 sets of 8 in less than 20 minutes.
Bench Press - warm up, then 5 sets of 8 in less than 20 minutes.

Day 2 -
Squat - same as day 1
Incline Press - 350 method

Week 2 -

Day 1 (to start the following week)
Deadlift - 5 sets of 3 work up to a "crisp" triple
Chin Ups - As many as you can do in 20 minutes (try to beat this total each time this workout rolls around)

Day 2 - start cycle over

Notes - For most guys that are in the novice to intermediate stages, it won't take long for them to reach a weight they can settle on for 5 sets of 8 in the squat and bench.  I don't have a % for you here because the rate a beginner-novice gain strength at is fairly quickly, so setting an EDM can be tricky.  Just work up to something you can do a moderately easy set of 8 with, and keep the rest times to a minimum.

All in all, these sessions should be doable in under an hour if you're really getting after it and not fucking around trying to spot the hot chick doing lateral raises.  She doesn't need a spot.  So just do your work, and get out of there.

Advanced Level Twice a week - 

For the dude with a solid base of strength, he's probably smart enough to adjust his training to meet the "limited time/limited frequency" problem.  However, if I were in such position here is what I would do...

Day 1 - Squat
Squat - Base Building Model III

Day 2 - Bench
Bench Press - Base Building Model III
Kroc Rows - 1x30

Week 2 -

Day 1 - Deadlifts
Front Squats - as a warm up, 3 x 5 light and explosive
Deadlifts - Base Building Model III

Day 2 - Incline
Incline Press - 350 method
Pulldowns - 350 method

Week 3 - start cycle over

Filling in the gaps - 

Lifters of all levels will still need to "fill in the muscular gaps" as I like to say.  In other words, you'll still need to do some movements outside of the big stuff to be a little well rounded in your musculature, and help to avoid injury.

A very easy way to do this is to purchase some dumbbells and do some dumbbell work at home between the big stuff.  Along with that, some bodyweight movements will even things out.

Some movements you can do to put the icing on the cake...

Db side or bent laterals - 100 total reps
Db Curls - 100 total reps
Split Squats - 100 total reps
Db Leg Curls - 100 total reps
Db Skulls - 100 total reps

As you can see, there is a common theme here.  That is, lots of dumbbell work.

I kid.

Just pick one from the group and get the 100 reps in as fast as possible.  This shouldn't take more than a few minutes unless you decided to go crazy heavy on the dumbbells, and that's not the idea here.

Conclusion - 

These are pretty straight forward and simple solutions for someone that is pressed for time in the gym, and can't get in there more than twice a week.  Getting these sessions in will most likely keep you on track until your schedule clears so that more time or days of the week can be devoted to lifting.  But don't be surprised if you actually get stronger.  Lots of guys overestimate just how much time is needed to get stronger.  So long as you're working hard and eating well, progress should not be halted because of a time constraint.