Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Criticisms, Congratulations, Intarweb keyboard warriors and badasses

Everyone is a critic.

For good and for bad.  And in this day and age of the intarwebs, everyone gets a voice too.

So when someone puts up a video of a lift, the criticisms come out and so do the defenders of said video.

People go back and forth, insults are thrown, challenges made, and no one changes their mind about a damn thing.  In the end, most everyone comes across looking like a douche.

"Fuck you bitch.  You lift that weight."

"I'll kick your ass!"

"Name the place asshole."

"Shut up you fat fuck."

"I'll break your skinny ass in half."

It appears as men, we don't mature past the age of 15 for certain events such as these.

I've been involved in this myself.  Calling squats high has been my main calling card.  I'm just such a fucking stickler for squats being good depth.  This has caused debates between myself and the lifter, the lifters friends, and all sorts of shit.

I've also certainly stepped on a lot of toes in the past, and in the end had to make amends for them.  Why?  It's the right thing to do when you mature and realize in the grand scheme of life none of this really matters.  It's lifting weights.  Nothing more, nothing less.  You'd think we were having an Asian land war.

We're lifting damn weights.

I try not to get involved in this shit anymore.  As a friend told me "does worrying about any of that shit make you stronger?  No.  So quit giving a shit."

Well spoken.

However, it amazes me how bent out of shape people do get about these things.  If I make a criticism, I'm not criticizing the lifter, only the lift.  It doesn't make me think anything of the guy that did the lift, just that the lift didn't meet my own personal standard.  And my own personal standard in the realm of lifting isn't worth $0.02.  So why would someone care?  Why then, would I even offer it up?

Most of the time, I don't.  I shrug, think the lift is shitty or good, then move on.  But sometimes I get caught back in the trap of intarweb keyboard wars and go at it as well.  It's rare, but it does happen.  And without fail later I think "that was fucking retarded".

"Let's see you do it." 

This is one of my faves.  Ahhh yes, you can't be a critic because well, you can't accomplish it.  If this defense applies to any other "sport" in the fucking world, only the greatest athletes of all time in those sports could be coaches, commentators, scouts, and game day "experts".

Judges at powerlifting meets would no longer be qualified to give white or red lights to guys that could squat, bench, or deadlift more than them.  I mean, how could they?  They can't do it themselves.  How on earth can they be qualified officials to say what a good or bad lift is?

Has anyone ever watch the Olympics and when a dude or chic finishes her gymnastic routine and given a low score, seen the competitor go challenge the judges to do that routine just as good?  Fuck no.  They would laugh at such nonsense.

So let's move into the real world.  People are going to be critics, and lots of guys are qualified to add quality criticism to a particular feat they cannot perform.  This is a fact of life.  The best coaches were never the best players, and vice versa.  The top MMA guys don't always make great or even good coaches (just watch TUF).  Being able to perform something, and being able to watch the performance of it and grade it are not related.

One of my hidden talents is that I am a fairly good artist.  But I can't teach anyone how to draw.  It's something I have been able to do since I was little.  Being left handed and all (left handed people are more intelligent, better looking, and more creative than right handed people if you didn't know!) drawing was pretty natural for me.  But I can't tell you how to draw, or coach someone to do it.  Often times, this is the case with naturally gifted people.

I talk to a certain very gifted powerlifter and give him some tips that he tells me work awesome for him.  He hasn't tried a lot of things because just picking up a weight makes him stronger.  I'm not strong, but the strength I have came from a lot of hard work and consistency.  So when I tell him to try things out, he always comes back with "holy shit that's awesome!  Thanks!"  Of course it works for him.  Anything does for the most part.  However he hasn't had to search for these things because the really basic things he has done has paid big dividends.

Why search for food when you are never hungry?  

Not the golden rule, but close.....

One pretty good rule of thumb that I have applied more and more to my life is that if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all.

Another good way to think about this is, try to live your life in a way where you rarely have to say you are sorry.  Now some people never say they are sorry because they are sociopaths and much like the nasty ass honey badger, just don't give a shit.  Some of us even had friends like this.  They would bust you up in front of potential dates, talk shit about you around mutual friends, and generally try to break you down at every chance.

Yes, some of this can be traced back to envy.  A lot of it actually.

The people in your life who care about you legitimately, will want you to succeed.  Your friends who are jealous of you, won't.  So it's pretty easy to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of who has your best interests in mind.  This doesn't mean that the people who care about you, won't often criticize you either.  But it's the way they do it that matters.

"Not bad Paul, but not your best effort.  We both know you can do better.  Show me your best effort."

"God damn Paul, that effort sucked a fat pirates dick.  You should have someone throw a javelin into your taint for that kind of effort you lazy bitch.  You suck man."

In the above examples, one person wants to see me succeed.  And the other wants to verbally abuse me.

If you can't tell right off which one is which, maybe you're a nasty ass honey badger sociopath and just don't give a shit.

This same behavior can be found in these arguments.  Some people offer up legit criticisms, and more times than not these get a fair reception.  The honey badger sociopath way usually is met with similar honey badger sociopath attitude.  That's when the battles begin.

I once knew a friend was lying to me.  To get him to fess up about said lie, I tried to use a deceitful method to get him to tell me the truth.  He kept lying and acted like a real asshole about it.

When I finally confronted him with the shit he couldn't disprove, he was calm and cool and asked why I just didn't show him right away.  What he said to me after that was pretty enlightening.....

"If you come at me in a deceitful way, what else do you expect to get from me in return?"

When I presented it in a factual calm way, he owned up to it.  Because I showed him respect, he showed it back.

Parallels -

Lifting and life often have parallels and one often offers up analogies for the other.  Treat someone with respect and you often get it back.  Treat someone like they are an asshole, you will often find yourself in a heated debate or fight.  It's not a foolproof plan, but it does work pretty consistently.

I think all of us need a reminder of this at times.


  1. Just because you are great at something doesn't mean you can teach someone how to do it.

    I was a mediocre basketball player at best and short (!) and I have been able to do a good job (I think) of turning around our winless program within a few years, 0-14, to 7-8 and picked to finish top three in conference this coming year.

    Look at how many professional coaches played but weren't that good. Dave Duncan, the pitching coach for the Cardinals is known for turning crap pitchers into studs and yet he was a catcher for a few years in AAA and never made it up to the majors for more than a few AB's.


    P.S. Can't wait for the training book!

  2. Jim Zorn was hired by the Chiefs as their QB coach and is regarded as one of the best in the business. The guy was never anything but average as a player.

    That's awesome to hear about your program there Dave.

  3. Great Post. I have only been seriously following the powerlifting world for the past few months and it already has left me with a sour taste.

    Lexen vs SPF/Westside, and then all the talk about Rob's 1000 raw squat. Everyone bashing everyone.

    I am more of a depth Nazi, but still, it is just ridiculous. I have read a book by Marty Gallagher about how powerlifting used to be and I would give anything to go back to that.

    And I am 4 days out from my first meet...

  4. NO! NO! NO!...Right handed people are better looking!

    Speaking of constructive criticism, do you ever give advice to someone that clearly needs it in the gym. Personally I just keep my mouth shut, but this Friday a fat bloke next to me on the squat rack, pulls up a flat bench in the middle of the rack, loads up the bar with 2, 45lb plates either side. Ah a form of box squat me thinks. But fuck no, he squats 3 inches I kid you not and thats it. What use was the bench under his ass? Safety - no, its a very good squat cage that you can drop the weights for safety. So should I have spoken with him about squat depth? This was after he had seen me do 275 for reps ass to grass. Yeah I know not that much weight but I did ones that actually count. I have no idea why watching the fat bloke made me upset.

    Enough ranting, good post Paul.

  5. Steven,

    I do sometimes help guys out without them asking. But I do it in a way that is more helpful than talking down to them. I never say "you're doing this wrong" I generally say "hey could I give you a couple of pointers" and they are usually receptive.

    If someone is stupid, I let them go on being stupid. I would consider that stupid (your example).

  6. Yup, "there's no fixing stupid".

    Laters fella.

  7. Nice call, Paul. The internet boards are so much less than what they could be. Instead of the anonymity making people more honest about themselves, they generally go to the opposite end and lash out because they won't be held accountable.

    A sad revelation of human nature.
    But, one of the reasons I like coming here.

    I saw on one of your other posts that you keep adding pages to your training book. With what you've said before about blogging being an outlet for your writing, I think you may have just opened the flood gates. Like, maybe ideas for a short story or even a novel might come in with the flood.
    Just the thought of another lefty.

  8. That's funny Frank. I actually wrote my first novel two years ago and am working on a part 2 for it. I write a ton now. Seems to have been something I have found in my 30's that I love to do.

    Some guys buy corvette's in a mid life crisis. I write. I can't even think of a good joke for that.

  9. Let me also add that I hate anonymous trolls from certain boards who don't have the sack to post up with a name.

    You know who you are.

  10. Let me add that sometimes those losers who have a midlife crisis will sometimes try to buy that Corvette, realize that even though they are in the middle of their life don't have enough disposable income to afford one, and the settle for a Charger....

  11. Or some people don't like Corvette's and are also sacked up enough to say what they mean as who they are, instead of hiding anonymously behind a keyboard.

  12. nice post paul. unforunately, when i look back, i've been guilty of being the nasty ass honey badger on more than a few occasions! good stuff here paul, thanks.

  13. btw, you're completely correct with your statement that lefties are more intelligent, better looking, and more creative! even the nasty-ass honey badger ones haha.