Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tips to make each training session productive, and knowing when to flush that turd down the toilet

Ever walk into the gym dog turd tired, knowing you're about to have a completely crappy session only to end up having one of the best training sessions you've had in a while?  Or walked in feeling like Superman, then completely suck at everything?    

No, I don't have the answers for why this happens, but what I have learned is when to hold em and when to fold em.  Damn I feel gay for quoting a Kenny Rogers song.  

In all seriousness, most of your training sessions aren't going to be the great ones.  Let's get that right out there.  You can't train balls out every session with the same intensity all the time and maintain it.  Something in the machine will break down.  Whether it becomes mental (dreading workouts) or physical (injuries and lethargy/fatigue), cycling your intensity is required for steady progress.  To misquote Dan John, 80% of your workouts are just going to be getting it done, 10% are the great/out of this world ones, and 10% suck ass.  

What you do need to try to achieve is for THAT particular session to be as good as it can be.  Maybe you aren't going to feel as diesel as the last time you did this lift, but you need to have some things in place to help make each training session be as good as it can be (now I'm quoting Army commercials).  

The Warm-up and pre-workout workout -

For a couple of years I did DoggCrapp training.  The one thing that it took a while for me to get used to with that program was doing things like curls and calf work before squats.  I grew up with that mantra of doing all of your "big muscles" first, then the small stuff last.  This is not a bad principle to live by, but there are some benefits to doing some small muscle work before you get to your big stuff.

The one thing I noticed on the days that I trained biceps and calves before legs was that I rarely had a bad leg session.  On the days I felt like crap I would have no idea how I was going to squat and do stiff legs when I could barely curl.  But by the time I finished a curl and an exercise for forearms, I would feel much better, and almost always went on to have a great leg workout.  

After I quit doing DoggCrapp I got away from this and didn't pay a lot of attention to it until I decided to start doing abdominal and neck work at the beginning of my back/bicep and pressing days.  Usually movements for these areas are done at the end of a training session.  If the training session had sucked and I was tired, I wouldn't do them at all.  However when I started incorporating these first I noticed once again, even on what felt like was going to be a "bad day" usually ended up being ok.  On a good day it was great.  On squat and deadlift days I start them off with heavy calf work now.  It doesn't effect my squat or dead in a negative way, and in fact my pumped calves make squats seem a little easier and more "greased" right out of the gate.  

I go pretty all out on the top set of abs or calves and I can say that throwing these in first has helped because no longer do I feel like my abs aren't getting enough solid work, and my calves are back to 19" (yes this one is just about vanity as skinny calves look like shit).  

How to incorporate your pre-workout workout -

The main thing you want to use the pre-workout workout for is to get your body primed for the big stuff, and to strengthen areas you know you need improvement on.  Improvement can mean look or strength or both, that's an individual choice.  The movement itself however, needs to be something that you can work hard on but not be thrashed when you are done.  When you finish you should feel better than you did when you walked into the gym, and ready to attack the big shit.  

So let's go over some movements that might work well in this regard.  Remember not to get overzealous.  Pick one or two exercises for 1-2 top sets.  This is something in the mix of a warm up, and work stuff.

Abdominal - Pick One to be done on upperbody days 

Decline Sit Ups - work up to a top set or two for 12-15 reps all out
Old-man Abs AKA Any Abdominal Machine - 1-2 sets of 15-20 all out
Hanging Leg Raises - shoot for a total number of reps and go after it

Neck - Pick one to be done before any session
Plate Raises - 2x15-20
Neck Harness - 2x15-20
Swiss Ball Pushes to the side (for the side of the neck, you don't need a ton of resistance here) - 3xmax reps 

Forearms - Pick One for pressing or lower body days you don't pull on
Hammer Curls - 2x15-20
Reverse Machine Curls - 2x15-20
Behind the back barbell curls - 2x15-20

Calves - to be done on lower and/or upperbody days 
Seated/Standing Calf Raises - 2x10-15
Calf Press - 2x15-20
Donkey Calf - 1xas many as your partner will let you do while they ride you

Traps - To be done on any day because traps are more important than anything on the planet
Hise Shrugs - 2x15-20
Upright Rows - 3x15-20 stay light
High Rep Shrugs - 100 reps This is to be done light.  If you can pull over 600 go with 275, otherwise stick with 185 - 225.  This should only take a couple of minutes so stay light.  

Cuff Work - Any day
L-Flyes - 2x15-20
Internal and External Rotation - 2x15-20

When to flush it -

Sometimes you're just going to have a day when no matter what, things are going to suck.  What I suggest doing is to look at a few things you have control over.

Sleep?  Did you get enough the night before, and the night before that?  Remember that if you have a night of sleep deficit, it usually takes a couple of nights of solid sleep to get back to "normal".  If sleep was bad, flush it and go home and plan on getting good sleep that night and try the session again.  

If your sleep is good, go to the next one...

Food?  Did you eat well that day and the day before?  You should be smart enough to know if you have eaten enough or not.  One night at Krav we were fighting and I suddenly felt a drop in blood sugar and I almost collapsed.  Lucky for me the head instructor is a smart guy and asked me "have you eaten enough today?"  I could barely answer.  He left the room and came back with an apple.  If you haven't eaten enough, try a light session or flush it.  Go home and load up for a meal or two with good carbs (Oatmeal, sweet potatoes).  Take a concentrated look at your diet on training days and see if you are increasing caloric intake enough on those days.  In my opinion, pre-workout eating is more important than what you do during the workout and post workout.  You have to have enough calories to power through tough sessions.  Pay close attention to what you are eating for the 3-4 hours before you train.  If your eating was good go on to the next part...

Recovery?  Did you just have some kind of other worldly good training session a day or two days before?  If so, you could still just be suffering some systematic fatigue from that.  You may need to examine your log and see if this happens more on some days than others.  For example if you notice you always have bad training days two days after doing squats, move that workout to three days out.  An extra day of recovery never hurt anyone.   Flush it and go home.  

If you have eaten well, and slept well, and haven't had a great workout in a few days or even weeks, maybe you need to quit being a puss and just man up.

Another option -

Another option to think about is always having a backup workout to go to when things are in the toilet.  What that is can be entirely up to you.  If you feel good, but just don't feel like doing your normal thing that night go to something else.  Just don't make this a habit.  Consistency is the biggest key in making progress.  Deviate from the path as little as possible.  

I hate to use the term "instinctive training" because for a lot of guys that means driving to the gym and deciding what they want to do on that night.  I think this is the intellectually lazy way to train.  You can always fool yourself that you're making progress if you constantly change everything up.  Have a measuring stick of some type that you always use to weigh progression.  

But do be in tune with your body and know when you're having a night where you either need more rest, or just need to get the minimum reps and sets in.  Progression is a balancing act of effort and recovery.  Make sure both are weighed equally on the scale.

Current Diet (usually)

breakfast - 4 egg whites with 4 strips of turkey bacon in a wrap

lunch - generally some sliced beef with a big salad or a single tuna sandwich from two cans of tuna (with a salad as well)

2 P.M. - 3 cups of coffee

dinner - something similar to lunch

before bed - cottage cheese with pineapple

Been eating this for a few weeks.  It can only be between 2000-2200 calories and I feel fine.  I do have the occasional pig out day like last Saturday night where I ate baked potatoes with my steak and two desserts, but I'm training everyday on this diet.  I'm not hungry and feel good.  I believe it's probably from the summer heat.  I'm just not hungry at all right now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Training - Week 5 / Phase 2 - Back - Biceps


Bodyweight - 242

Seated Ab Pulldown Machine - 210 x 15

Chest Supported T-Bars - 2 plates x 15, 3 plates x 12, 4 plates x 6

Strive Pulldowns (straps) - stack x 14, stack+15 x 7

Shrugs - 315 x 20, 405 x 20

Over-Supinated Db curls (for elbow rehab) - 20's x lots of sets for lots of reps

Notes - Felt good.  Hadn't eaten much today but really didn't notice.  Decent overall session.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Training Phase 2 / Week 4 - Squats and Deadlifts


Bodyweight - 237

Warm up - lunges, foam rolling

Calf Press - 450 x 12

Squats (no belt, no wraps) - bar x 10, 135 x 10, 225 x 5, 315 x 3, 405 x 2, 455 x 1, 500 x 3 easy

Pause Squats - 405 x 3

Deadlifts - 225 x 3, 315 x 3, 405 x 1, 500 x 1, 550 x 1, 500 x 3,3

Notes - Went into the gym feeling like ass but had a really good session.  Best one in a while.  Smoked 500x3, coulda easily done 6-8 but had a triple in mind.  Smoked the 550 dead and the back off triples.  Funny how sometimes you walk in and expect a good or bad session and end up with the opposite of what you thought.  Felt great afterwards.  Not too beat.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Training - Week 4 / Phase 2 - Pressing


Bodyweight - 242

Decline Sit ups - X25 behind the head x 12 x 10

Close Grip Paused Bench - bar x 1 million, 135 x 15, 225 x 8, 315 x 1, 365 x 1, 385 x 1, 315 x 6

Incline Press - 250 x 12, 225 x 10

Tit Machine - 1 x triple drop

Overhead Triceps - 6-7 sets (just felt like doing some)

Notes - Elbow was killing me.  Humidity is bad here right now and that really wreaks havoc with my elbows.  Everything felt super light and fast but I can tell that I'm being cautious because of the pain.  I really need to get serious about my icing and make this go away fast.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Random thoughts about training, life, crap, and stuff - short version(s)

Bacon doesn't make EVERYTHING taste better.  Just stop.  Bacon F'n ice cream?  I'd rather take a javelin throw into my taint than eat bacon flavored ice cream.

Peanut butter however, does.............

You can do bodyweight work everyday and get really F'n good at it.  So long as it doesn't cause you joint pain, go for it.

People on cell phones always drive like shit.  Yes, even you.

I haven't watched a movie at home in a while.  I have Layer Cake sitting on the table right now and can't get it up enough to put it in the DVD player.

I am addicted to coffee now.  I think I drink 3 pots a day at least.

Get the new Splenda with the 1 gram of fiber per packet in it.  It actually does taste better than regular Splenda.

Training is not going as good as planned, but sometimes that happens.  You suck it up and man up about it.

Carwin is going to wreck Lesnar.  And I can't wait.

Monkeys are funny.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Training - Week 4 / Phase 2 - Back - Biceps


Weight - 238 pounds

Seated Ab Pulldown Machine - 210 x 13

Db Rows - no straps - 120 x 27

Chins - body x 5 sets of 5

Machine Curls - 130 x 7, 110 x 6

Cardio - 12 minutes of steady state @ 4.5

Notes - Ok session.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bob Gaynor 680lb Deadlift, 198lb Class, 64yrs old (Most all time)

The next time you start talking about how you can't do heavy deadlifts because of how old you are.............

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Training - Conditioning

steady state 10 minutes

Hills x 8

Just doing enough to maintain a decent level of conditioning.  Will focus on conditioning more after the meet.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Random thoughts about training, life, crap, and stuff

The skinny guys diet - I'm about to go off.....

Wow, talk about people who don't have any reading or training comprehension.  I wrote an article for elitefts recently and there was some backlash from internet super guru web-board training guys/posters about the diet I laid out in it.  Some guy even said I should be nominated for dickhead of the year (because of a diet, yes) and if I had recommended that diet to his son he would have given me a foot enema.  If said guy reads my blog and wants to attempt this I will happily let him have a shot at it.  Said guy also complained about peanut butter (perfectly fine), chocolate milk (possibly the most perfect post-workout drink ever), and corn flakes.  When did corn flakes become "bad for you?"  Said guy seems very much like a training and dietary mental midget.

First off, the article was based around skinny high school guys who bounce around from routine to routine and never eat enough calories to really grow.  Let me set some of you straight on this, I don't know of a single guy with significant muscle mass that didn't go through his rite of passage for eating.  Those rites of passage generally include a hell of a lot of junk food, fast food, carbs and fats of all kind.  It isn't realistic to expect a high school kid to get up in the morning and cook out a dozen egg whites, oatmeal, and pack tupperwear full of food for the day.  If you think it is then you don't have a life and don't expect other people to have one as well.  I want guys I train to get results.  If that means they can only get in cafeteria food in double portions and snickers bars then that's what we'll do.  I would rather a guy eat SOMETHING, than nothing because he can't have brown rice and chicken breasts.

Super stick-skinny guys can take in calories like there is no tomorrow and still not gain weight or muscle mass very fast.  I had a guy eating upwards of 5000 calories a day through peanut butter and jelly and calorie dense snacks and he gained weight very slowly.  It's not realistic to expect someone to sit down and eat 5K calories worth of CLEAN food to gain weight.  If you don't know what 5K calories worth of clean food looks like (which is usually the case) then think about this.

10 chicken breasts (4 ounces each) -
1200 calories

10 large baked potatoes -
1600 calories

20 large egg whites -
340 calories

5 slices of whole wheat toast -
350 calories

Total?  3490 calories.

So for someone like myself, who walks around at a fairly lean 240 pounds, I wouldn't gain a pound on this diet and would be eating all day long.  Worth it?  Hell freaking no.

I never gained any appreciable amount of mass when I ate clean without feeling like complete shit.  EVER.  Can it be done?  Absolutely.  Is it worth it?  Not a chance in hell.  I ate clean for months, pounding down 10 and 12 ounces of chicken and rice at a time, with egg whites and the most plain carboard tasting shit ever.  I hated every minute of it.  My weight barely moved.  As soon as I started throwing in some PBnJ and chocolate chip cookies, my weight started moving (duh).   After I got my conditioning back in order the weight came off, I cleaned up my diet and had several new pounds of mass to show for it.

Let me be clear here, if you are already a big fat ass you CANNOT eat this way.  My article was for SUPER SKINNY GUYS ONLY.  Not guys who are sitting above 12% bodyfat.

Let me also say that I know big fat lard asses who have been on constant bulks for years and have rolls of fat that look like packs of hot dogs taped all over their body.  These are the guys on the boards that tell skinny guys to eat like I talk about, but never have the discipline to get that fat off, and those guys are pathetic as well.  Bulking should be done in BURSTS, not for extended training periods.  What eventually happens when you bulk too long is that your body becomes real good at adding a lot of extra fat onto your frame, and eventually that has to come off (or you die early as a giant fatass).

You can't force feed muscle, so if you're already 12%+ bodyfat you have no reason to be eating big.

People need to learn to read things in a contextual way.  I don't have a problem with criticism.  I have a problem with criticism from people who don't posses enough reading comprehension skills to understand what I write, then talk shit about me concerning it.

/rant over

Friendship - I value friendship.  A lot.  My best friend was killed when I was 13.  Two years later my other best friend was also killed in a car accident.  After that I distanced myself from making close friends with too many people (I guess for their own protection right?).

Friends are people that you can count on no matter what the cause.  That they will stick by you in your lowest points and seem no different during your high ones. A friend will let you know when you offend them, rather than harbor it inside and hold it against you.  A friend also knows when to say "My bad" and apologize.  And a real friend forgives and doesn't bring it up again.  A friend sends your family flowers when they are sick in the hospital, or at minimum sends a card.  A true friend asks if you want to grab a beer after work, or go fishing that weekend.

I guess what I am getting at here is, lots of people you think are your friends are really just an acquaintance.  If you've been "friends" with someone for 10 years and they've never invited you over to their house, well that's not a friend.  That's an asshole.  If they would rather sit in their basement than have a beer with you to shoot the bull, that's not a friend.  As I've gotten older I've come to understand what real friendship means more and more.  And I think you really have your best friends when you're a kid.  Why?  Because life is more simple.  Your buddy will ride his bike with you all day long, go play baseball, go fishing, trade G.I. Joe's with you, and let you check out his sisters bra.  Life is simpler, and friendship is easier to spot.  My buddy Barry Poole broke his femur when we were in 5th grade and was on crutches for the remainder of the year.  I carried his books for him that entire school year for him from class to class.  Shit, now I have trouble getting people that are supposed to be good friends just to come over for a free ribeye and free alcohol.  Mainly because most of the married guys I know are whupped and can't put on their pants without their wife giving it their blessing (more on that in a minute).

And speaking of good friends, I had one come to my aid this week while my wife was in the hospital.  It would have been an even more difficult week without him helping me out.  I already picked up a nice gift to give to him for his kindness.  Why?  Because that's what a friend does.

More war stories -

This week at work I was helping some guys from anther agency move their stuff out of our building.  One of the guys remarked about my size and I told him I did powerlifting.  Of course, he used to as well.

"What were your best lifts?"

"I benched 415, squatted 645, and deadlifted.......a little less than that."

"Yeah?  I don't wear equipment.  No wraps, no belt."

"Oh yeah me too.  Nothing.  What's it called again?"


"That's right yeah I lifted raw."

"What weight class?"


".........................(silence because there is no 205 weight class)"

Dude you are whupped -

What the F is up with guys who let their wife/girlfriend whatever constantly break their foot off in their ass.  What kind of guy lets his girlfriend or wife, turn a movie off he is watching because SHE doesn't like it?  Or makes you watch chic flicks all the time?  Won't let you play the kind of music you like in the car, tells you who you can and can't hang out with, where you need to be at what time, what you need to be doing, on and on and on and on.  Dude, grow a F'n pair you spineless wimp.

I have a buddy who only comes by when his wife is out of town.  He'll call me up "hey man I was wondering if we could hang out?"  My question is always the same...."So your female is out of town isn't she?"  And the answer is always yes.  To me, this tells me that she cracks the whip on his ass and he lets her.  I don't get this.

A good spouse or partner should understand that you are an individual, and like to do things without them, like things they don't like, and don't need a mother chicken pecking over them all the time telling them what to do.  And second, you as a man shouldn't allow this shit.  And don't say "I think it's not whipped, I think it's being a good husband/boyfriend."  You are full of cowshit.  Shit man if you're going to be whupped just come to terms with it.  It makes life easier for those around you because then they can just bypass you and ask your wife/girlfriend if you can come out and play and then she can let you know that it's alright.  She can also let you know if it's ok for you to wear your junk/manhood when you go out to play as well.

Short and bitter this time.  I guess the stress of the past week is manifesting itself in my post.

I wish all the dads out there a happy fathers day.

Training - Phase 1 - Week 3 Testing - Squat and Deadlift


Bodyweight - 240

Squats - 135 x 10, 155 x 5, 225 x 8, 315 x 3, 405 x 3, 455 x 1, 480 x 1, 425 x 12

Deadlifts - 225 x 3, 315 x 3, 405 x 1, 500 x 1, 525 x 1, 465 x 10

Notes - Hard week mentally and emotionally for me.  Wife was in the hospital for several days, had to work 50 hours along with that.  So I'm not surprised that testing this week was so hard.  Squat isn't feeling great, deadlift is feeling better than ever.  All the weights on deads flew up like nothing.  Oh well, I guess I will just do an extra down set of squats for a couple of weeks to see if that cures my woes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Training - Week 3 / Phase 1 - Pressing


Bodyweight - 240

Incline Press - barx30, 135 x 12, 185 x 6, 225 x 5, 275 x 11,6

Close Grip Bench - 245 x 11,5

Flat Flyes - 50's x 10,10

Notes - Tired as heck. Worked about 11 hours today and had one of the most stressful weeks of my entire life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Training - Week 3 / Phase 1 - Back - Biceps


Bodyweight - 240

Seated Ab Pulldown Machine - 210 x 12

Neck Raises - 90 x 20

Chest Supported T-Bars - 70 x 15, 115 x 12, 160 x 9

Strive Pulldowns - stack x 10 x 5

Incline Db Curls - 40's x 12 x 6

Notes - not a great night. feeling tired and sluggish tonight. not much energy at all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Movie Review of the Week - Shrek Forever After

So I took another chance with a "kids" movie and hauled the family off to the theater to check out the new Shrek flick. I like the Shrek franchise because it's family friendly but has enough adult humor underneath that I enjoy it as well.

We checked this one out in 3-D and aside from the opening scene where the horses run through the movie theater, I don't remember being blown away by any 3-D stuff like I was with How To Train Your Dragon. So the 3-D stuff was no where near as eye catching this time around.

I also wasn't as lucky with the crowd this time as last time either. There were plenty of crying babies and kids up and down the aisles. It wasn't so distracting that I didn't enjoy the movie but I most definitely could have done without it.

(Slight spoilers below)

Anyway in this Shrek, Rumpelstiltskin is involved and there is kind of a prequel sequence to start the movie. Rumpel is ticked about how things turned out and when the opportunity arises he strikes at his chance for revenge.

I personally thought the message in the movie was great. At times we end up focusing all of the negatives in our life, or perceived negatives, and allow them to dictate how we end up feeling on a daily basis. Shrek falls into this trap and into the belief that the grass was always greener. He pays dearly for this and finally comes to appreciate the "nuances" that are associated with being surrounded by people who truly care about you. I really appreciated what they did with the story line there.

As for laughter, don't expect a ton. I don't remember laughing a whole lot but I did enjoy the movie, and of course just getting out and spending time with the family.

Two thumbs up for Shrek Forever After.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


20 minute steady state

Hills x 8

Humidity was off the charts. Surprised that I got 8 hills in. Felt like I was running with a wet dishrag over my face. Not that I'd know what that feels like.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Training - Week 2 - Phase 1 - Squats and Deadlifts

12Jun10 -

Bodyweight - 242

Warm up - lunges, foam rolling

Squats (no belt - no wraps) - 135 x 10, 225 x 5, 315 x 5, 405 x 1, 435 x 1, 465 x 1

Deadlifts - 225 x 3, 315 x 3, 405 x 1, 485 x 1, 510 x 1, 440 x 5,5

Hack Squats - 315 x 6, 500 x 10

Calf Press - 405 x 11

Notes - Solid session.  Everything is still really fast and light.  It's hard not to not do more when everything is this light but I know starting light will help me more as I progress through each phase.  Next week is rep testing week.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Training - Week 2 / Phase 1 - Bench

10Jun10 - Bench

Bodyweight - 240

Decline Sit Ups - 1 x 30, 1 x 20
Shoulder dislocates - 2 x 15

Close Grip Bench - 135 x 20, 225 x 5, 315 x 1, 335 x 1, 365 x 1

Incline Press - 225 x 15 x 12 x 5

Tit Machine - 1 drop set of 10/8

Notes - Good session.  365 was super light and flew up.  Right elbow is already fussing however so some ice will be in store.  Will bench for singles again in two weeks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Training - Week 2 / Phase 1 - Preparatory Phase

08Jun10 - Back/Biceps

weight - 240

Seated Pulldown Ab Machine - up to 190 x 17

Neck - 1 plate x 40

Db Rows - 60 x 20, 90 x 10, 120 x 25

I have done the 140's for more than 25. I hate the dumbbells at this gym. They are the kind with the bump in the middle of the handle. So it's like a thick bar grip for your pinkey and ring fingers, which are weak. I guess that's good to work on but it sucks from an actual lifting standpoint.

Chins - bodyweight x 10,7,5

Machine Preacher Curls - 130 x 6, 110 x 5

Cardio - 12 minutes on treadmill @ 4.5 mph

Notes - Overall good session.

Eating for the day -

Breakfast - breakfast wrap with 4 egg whites, 3 slices of turkey bacon and cheese

Lunch - 8 ounces of chicken breast, jasmine rice, salad, and 3 musketeers. Yes I ate a candy bar.

around 3 p.m. monster energy drink

5 p.m. - preworkout 4 ounces of oatmeal with raisins, 2 scoops of myofusion

7:30 p.m. - 2 scoops of myofusion

9:00 p.m. - grilled pork chops, salad

The belief factor in your training

The internet is filled with websites full of training information, routines, diet, and everything under the sun you can think of regarding how to build a bigger/smaller/leaner/stronger you. If you admire a particular IFBB pro bodybuilders chest or arms or wheels, I can just about bet you money that he has a website and on that website he probably talks about the routine he uses including exercises, sets, reps, weights, etc.

If you are a powerlifter and want to get a bigger total you'll have no problem finding plenty of websites that will tell you how you can get more out of your squat, bench, and deadlift including improving technique, cycles to peak for meets, and what assistance exercises to use.

If you want to lose weight you will be overwhelmed with the amount of information available to you on the net.

So the obvious question from me is, if we know some simple truths about weight loss, strength gain, and muscle mass building why is there so much information and why are there so many people walking around confused about what to do?

Truths -

Some basic an accepted "truths" we know from decades of lifting and eating are....

To lose weight, have a calorie deficit. This can be done by simply eating less or a combination of eating less AND doing more (cardio).

To gain weight/mass have a calorie surplus.

To focus more on building mass in training, use your heaviest working sets in the 8-20 rep range and get stronger in that repetition range.

To focus more on building maximum strength use sets in the 1-5 rep range. Especially sets of 1, 2, and 3.

(just as a note, sets of 5-7 gives you a bit of both but doesn't build single rep strength quite as well as singles, doubles, and triples, and doesn't build mass quite as well as sets of 8+ in my opinion)

Gray Areas -

Here are some gray areas that get heavily debated a lot and are really more personal decision type stuff IMO............

Carbs - I've lost fat eating carbs and lost fat on completely cutting them out. I personally like having some carbs because they are a big part of the basic workings of physiology. Glycogen is the best fuel for explosive training and strength. I have this strange theory with zero evidence to back it up, that glycogen can and is used by the body for fat burning. Different article...

Frequency - This is comprised of one camp that says you need to train 5-6 days a week, and the camp that says you can do just fine with 2-3 days a week. I think this is a personal issue. Some people WANT to train 5-6 days a week. I personally am in the latter camp. I think you can lift 2-3 times a week and cover everything just fine. If you throw in 1 day or hard conditioning and another day or two of easier conditioning you've got it all covered.

Volume - Again two camps for the most part. High volume and low volume. Some guys say do a lot of sets and some say you can get by just fine with a couple.

To failure or not - Either go to failure (meaning you can't do another rep) or to stay away from it. I personally think at some point you're going to HAVE to do some "to failure" training. I feel strongly about this. You can do a crap load of volume but you can't just keep adding volume forever and ever. At some point you're going to have to train hard and go balls out. This doesn't mean you have to train like this all the time, and I don't recommend that. But if you've been stuck for a while and you are a high volume guy then it's probably time to drop some volume and go all "Heavy Duty" for a while. This will probably get you over a hump and then you can resume your high volume stuff.

The real missing ingredient - The power of your belief

Ok so above you have the "facts" (yes I know they are not truly facts), if you will, and then the not so facts. Throw out the gray areas and stick with the facts. Now what are you left with? Some basic principles that you already know work. The rest of the stuff varies greatly from training philosophy to training philosophy.

So why do some programs work for some people and not for others?

My personal opinion is that it is related to ones belief in particular program.

Allow me to elaborate....................

Placebo is a hell of a drug -

Back in the day when supplements were mostly scams (not that they aren't now) we had all sorts of crazy ads claiming crazy results from taking their products.

"Brian gained 37 pounds in 30 days and lost 19% of his bodyfat!"

Yes I'm making a bit of a joke here but if I could dig up some old muscle rags I bet I could find an advertisement that isn't too far off from that. So then average joe bucks up the money for this product, starts taking it and indeed starts making some solid gains. Not what the advertisement promises but indeed some gains. What I have generally found is that when average joe gets his order in, is that his excitement level and motivation level is high. He trains balls out, he eats really well and does all of the other right things associated with a good training plan. Why? Because he believes in X product and wants to get the most from it. I believe that if he could have summoned up the same motivation level without product X he would have achieved the same results or very similar results.

So average joe BELIEVED in the product he paid good money for, thus he put a solid plan into action and he got stronger and bigger. He now believes in product X (until it's reformulated and becomes "new and improved") and that it works for him.

When you believe in something strongly, you can and will find evidence to support your belief all over the place. People tend to seek out others who will verify that their opinion is correct. So average joe will scour the net looking for everyone else who has used product X and gotten bigger and stronger with it as well. He will dismiss the opinions of those who say it does not work. Because it obviously worked for him, so they must be stupid and wrong.

This same scenario applies to training methods as well. If you love training plan X and used it because your buddy used it and got massive and swole, you will have a strong belief that it will work for you as well. And you will train your ass off using it. And guess what? You will make gains, and thus your belief is reinforced. People who tell you it does not work will be labeled as stupid.

This doesn't mean that training X isn't a good or great training program, but no training plan works without someone putting in the effort to make it work. So your BUY IN to a program or philosophy or template or whatever is really the most important part of making a program work FOR YOU.

Those pesky facts again...

Now of course you have to plan appropriately. No amount of placebo can overcome poor ass planning. If you're goal is to get bigger and you're eating below maintenance level in calories you're not going to get bigger. This is a philological fact. Growth requires energy and energy is calories. If your goal is to lose weight/get leaner and you're overeating each day then it's not going to happen. You don't use Pilates to get stronger for football or powerlifting. You don't want to do heavy partial lifts if your goal is to get better at Yoga. You need to plan appropriately for your goals based on some simple anecdotal facts and then work those gray areas to your liking. When you get everything lined up in a way you believe will work, then you can pour your energy into it and results will come.

So without proper planning AND proper belief, results will not be what you expect them to be or should be. Train and eat appropriately for the goals you are trying to achieve. Then pouring your belief and energy into what you are doing will be easy and your plan will be effective. The two are a handshake mechanism. Make sure they are connecting properly. When that happens you'll know it because your belief in that program will be strong.

Now I feel like watching Star Wars for some reason.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Training - Conditioning

Steady state - 20 minutes

Hills x 8

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Training - Week 1 / Phase 1 Squats and Deadlifts

05Jun10 Saturday

Weight - 237 pounds

Warm up - lunges and foam rolling

Calf Press - up to 450 x 10

Squats - 135 x 10, 225 x 5, 315 x 5, 405 x 1, 425 x 1, 455 x 1

Deadlifts - 225 x 3, 315 x 3, 405 x 1, 455 x 1, 500 x 1, 425 x 5,5

Hack Pause Squats - 315 x 8, 405 x 10

Notes - Great week to start my training. All the weights were stupid light and moved fast. That's what I want my first week. My conditioning has really paid off as I moved through this whole workout in about 45 minutes. This workout usually takes longer because of loading and unloading the squat and dead, but there was minimal rest between every set, including singles.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


03Jun10 - Week 1 Phase 1 - Press

Weight - 238 pounds

Incline - 135 x 15, 185 x 6, 225 x 3, 275 x 10 x 5

Close Grip Bench - 245 x 10 x 5

Notes - Wow, I'm always amazed at how weak I am on the second sets after a layoff or taking it easy for a while. The weights were all puny and felt super light in my hands but just no real strength after the first set of inclines. Fatigue set in fast. Should be good in a few weeks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thoughts about life, training, crap and stuff

Meet prep started this week and I'm super duper (yes I wrote super duper you ahole) motivated about training.  I took the last 6-8 weeks or so just cruising and taking it pretty easy and my elbow(s) feel the best they have in a while.  I don't know how long it will last but I am enjoying it right now.

Southern California is an awesome place.  The first night I was there I spotted a Bentley parked in front of the hotel.  I almost took a pic of it, but glad I didn't.  Everyday I would see 20-30 Bentley's a day, Ferrari's, Aston Martin, Phantoms, Lambos, and just about anything you can think of.  The average looking women are hot everywhere else, and the hot women there come from some hot alien woman planet.  If I were single I'd move there even if I could only get a job as a janitor.

The average SoCal woman

First week into my meet prep and I'm still not finished tweaking my program.  Luckily for me I don't have to bench, squat, or dead until Thursday.  I've been going back and forth on a couple of principles that I know work, however implementing them properly into each phase makes me have serious OCD about it.  I'm trying not to develop paralysis by analysis but I may be failing.

I'm a very forgiving person.  That's not a "look how great I am" statement.  If someone comes to me with a sincere apology, I always forgive them for their wrong doing.  We all F up.  I don't know if there is anything more depressing than to have wronged someone and sincerely want them to forgive you for it, and they won't.  I often wonder if these people have ever experienced real loss in their life.  Because people that I know that also forgive like I do, have experienced loss, and know how foolish it is to carry around a grudge about things that don't really matter.  As long as bones weren't broken or a bank account hacked, you should really examine what it is you're holding a grudge about.  People do stupid shit.  We're all wired with a stupid shit gene regarding something.  Show some love from time to time to someone who wronged you in a way that really is forgivable.

Forgiving someone will make BOFF of you feel better.

All year if I am not training for a meet I plan out all the various awesome splits I will use in preparation for said meet.  Then it comes time to really train and I go back to my bread and butter.  Squat and dead on one day, pull back shit on one day, and bench on one day.  It's got me by the balls and I can't get away from this split.  I guess I like it.  When I get closer to the meet sometimes I will drop the back and biceps day.

Jim how long are you going to grow that freaking beard?  I bet that thing smells like you have the butthole of a dead rhino trapped in it.  I know you're not getting any trim with that thing.

I really need to get back to playing music.  I have been missing that more lately and I'm not sure why.  I wouldn't mind taking piano lessons either.  I love to play instruments and wish I were independently wealthy just so I could take guitar/bass/piano/violin/jazz flute lessons everyday.  I always thought it would be awesome to be able to walk into any type of bar/club where a band was playing and pick up any and every instrument they had and be able to level the place with it.

Ron could play the hell out of some jazz flute.

My diet has been atrocious for weeks, and I'm leaner and feel better than ever.  I have no explanation for this at all.

I am positive I will be moving in the next couple of years.  I hate the midwest now.  The weather sucks, traffic sucks, there is no ocean, no real place to party, full of uptight and snotty people (in Johnson County anyways).  Nothing worse than living in the land of the thousand dollar millionaire, as we call the snobs of Johnson County.  I'm thinking Arizona but I'm keeping my options open.

I'm finally finding some new music.  Melodic death metal is apparently my flavor right now and I'm digging some Disarmonia Mundi at the moment.  The term melodic and death metal always make me chuckle.  Jumbo shrimp, that kind of thing.

I still haven't seen Avatar.  :::Shrugs:::

I can't wait on that new Karate Kid.  I hope Jet Li shows up and kills Jackie Chan and Will Smith's kid via Patrick Swayze Roadhouse throat rip in the script, but I bet that doesn't happen.  A man can dream though.

What is it with Sex and the City and women?  I've never seen a single episode but something about a 52 year old slut running around banging everything makes me cringe.  I wish I had more women followers that way this would get a rise out of them.  Women, for the most part, have the most awful taste in movies.  I want to get rich and write and direct a chic flick.  Here is how it goes.............(chic flicks only have a few plots)

Set in 1984 in New York, Dude and Chic work in the same office
Dude is secretly in love with chic but he's not top shelf material and she is, so she doesn't notice him
Dude saves Chic from getting ran over because she's chasing some papers that fell from her briefcase and were blowing across the busy street.
Chic finally notices Dude.
Chic dates "mindless morons" who are good looking and have millions but that doesn't do it for her
Chic and Dude end up having coffee together and she realizes he's really super cool
However Chic keeps dating "mindless morons" but finds herself thinking about Dude the whole time
Dude sees she keeps dating mindless morons and now decides he won't bother with her and is all PMS'd up
Dude gets a promotion and the company moves him across the country to L.A.
Chic realizes she's in love with him and boards a plane to L.A.
Chic tracks down Dude where she tells him she's in love with him
Dude and Chic decide to get married on the spot and find a Chapel.
Dude and Chic say their vows and kiss.
Dude and Chic exit the Chapel to find an overly muscular guy waiting near their car in the parking lot.
Overly muscular guy asks Chic if her name is Sarah Connor.
Chic says yes and Overly muscular guy pulls out a scoped .45 and drills em both in the parking lot.
The End

Please God let the terminator start showing up at the end of chic flicks

This weekend my wife of 14 years turns 34.  I just wanted that to be public since she acts like I'm Moses because I'm 35.

Rampage clearly had ring rust and wasn't at his best.  I look forward to Shogun destroying Rashad and next month Shane Carwin pummeling Lesnar.  I'm stoked about that.

I am thinking about not doing my back off sets with the actual back squat and using hack squats for it.  This would keep me doing singles only for the squats then using the hacks as my squat assistance movement.  I've never done hacks because all of those hack machines kill my knees.  However I am at a new gym and the one they have does not hurt, so I'm anxious to give em a shot.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Training - Week 1 / Phase 1 - Preparatory Phase

01Jun10 - Back - Biceps

Weight - 242

Seated Ab Pulldowns - up to 190 x 10
Lying Neck Plate Raises - 90 x 15 x 15

Chest Supported T-Bars - 1 plate x 15, 2 plates x 12, 3 plates x 10

Strive Pulldown (middle tension) - 150 x 10, 210 x 8, stack x 8 (used straps)

Incline Db Curls - 50% set 40's x 12 x 6

Stead State - 15 minutes @ 4.4 mph

Notes - Great session. The time off did me good. My joints feel awesome and I did a good job of not going crazy tonight and picking good weights.

Diet today - higher carb day -

7:30 - breakfast - breakfast burrito with 4 egg whites, 3 slices of turkey bacon, in a high fiber wrap

9:30 - Myofusion 2 scoops

12:00 - subway flat bread with two chicken breasts, pickles, lettuce, tomato, black olives, and honey mustard. 1 bag of baked lays.

4:00 - 4 ounces of oatmeal and 1 scoop of myofusion

7:00 - post training - 2 scoops of Myofusion

8:30 - grilled chicken salad

Training - Conditioning

Steady state - 20 minutes

Hill sprints x 5

This was done yesterday. Nothing too crazy. Because of traveling I haven't been able to get a lot of conditioning in so I just did the 5 and called it a day. These felt just fine and I could have easily done the usual 10+ but generally when you rush back into sprint work, you'll end up with some overuse injuries. So I played it smart and stopped at 5.

Tonight starts the first week of three weeks of preparatory training. I won't be hitting anything heavy for these three weeks. The fastest way to make sure you stall in training is to start out too hard and too heavy early on. So don't expect to see any heavy weights moved (well, heavy for me) for at least a month.