Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lessons Learned and Quick Hitters

  • Squat and deadlift right out of the gate, and do these more than you bench and curl.  I didn't start squatting until I had been lifting for about 5 years.  The first few years of squatting and pulling you are trying to figure a lot of shit out, unless you have a good coach.  So even if you don't like them, do them.
  • Get a good coach to teach you how to squat and deadlift properly out of the gate.  This will cut off years in the time it takes to achieve upper potential.  If your coach is a long ways away, make the drive out every other week.  Ask yourself how serious you are.
  • Stop comparing yourself to other people.  You aren't other people.  Not only that, stop using other people as examples of what can be done training a certain kind of way.  Champions are born, not made. 
  • This also doesn't mean training philosophy doesn't matter.  However you need to find out what works well for you through some trial and error.  Doc Brown and all....
  • Don't do movements that cause immediate or delayed "bad" pain.  Who said you have to squat?  If you aren't a competitive powerlifter, and have physiological issues that keep you from squatting pain free, do things that don't cause pain.  
  • Drink water.  It's amazing to me how many people still drink cokes, gatorade, and shit like that all day, then train and say they aren't 100%.  No shit kool-aid.  
  • Have goals, and focus on them.  Seems simple enough but if you are in the gym or at the track or doing a boot camp and you don't have a clear reason why ("to get in shape" is not really CLEAR) you won't put forth your best effort.  Define your goals very clearly.  Getting in shape, is not defined.  Getting into 32 pants or running a half marathon or deadlifting 600 pounds, these are defined goals and will help you define training.  
  • Enjoy life.  Worrying about training when you are not in the gym is stupid.  Make your training program and stick with it.  
  • Get your blood work done regularly.  People miss this boat too much and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Getting detailed blood work done quarterly could easily save your life down the road.  
  • Don't grind on the big lifts too much.  This is a sure way to put yourself into the ground quickly and then trying to dig out becomes a pain in the ass.  Leave this to the volume junkies who rarely seem to have any real strength.  
  • Build bottom position strength as a priority.  Getting strong on the top portion of movements isn't anywhere near as valuable as building strength off the chest, out of the hole, and off the floor.  Who cares how strong your three board press is if you can't get it off your chest?  Above the knee deadlift work is about as useful as tits on a boar.  
  • Keep training interesting and fun.  You can vary things in the same routine with something as simple as varying your warm up poundages.  Don't think it matters?  Try it.  
  • Add BCAA's to your workouts.  It WILL make a difference.  I love the Extend.  No, not the pinnis pills either.
  • A quick and easy way to drop some flab over the course of a few weeks is simply to drop carbs in the evening.  This works well and your energy levels won't drop very much, if at all.
  • Learn how to focus internally for a big set.  This is will make a world of difference in energy for that set.  Jumping around and yelling and acting like a retarded monkey wastes energy.  Just because Benni has a routine doesn't mean you need one.  Watch him in training; cool as a cucumber, even for the big sets.
  • Get in shape.  Who cares if you can pull 800 and bench 450 if you can't fight for 10 seconds without being gassed.  That strength becomes useless once oxygen depth sets in.  Then you're weak as shit.  Eliminating weak points doesn't just mean for lifting, it means for life god dammit.  
  • Try a thumbless grip on all of your pressing for a while.  Some of you may find an immediate increase in your pressing ability.  Just make sure if you are benching you have safety rails up.  Everyone I know who switched over has a "bar came out" story.  For overheads, it's not as big a deal.
  • Using machines as your main assistance stuff has merit.  Machines don't tax you as badly and you can really target weak muscle areas.  This is great for injury prevention.    
  • Take an ice bath every other week.  This helps recovery very well and cuts down on inflammation.  
  • Do glute and calf work.  
  • When it's time to relax, relax.  Learn how to do this.  Not just for lifting, but for life and happiness.  You'll find plenty of shit to be stressed about later.  
  • Do bent laterals and front raises.  Great for shoulder pre-hab.
  • Lift, run, bang.


  1. Good advice, like always. Kind of reminds me of that old "wear sunscreen" song from '99 though.

  2. what use does calf work have?

  3. Interesting list. I'd like to hear more about the volume comment. What volume programs/approaches have you taken and what other observations have lead to this?


  4. Calf work - Have you ever tried to deadlift or squat with a torn or strained calf? The calves do work in both movements as a stabilizer.

    Second, the calves are partially responsible for knee support. Does this seem important?

    Al - I've trained in high volume manners before, including Bulgarian style training and it does not work for me, and the majority of the strongest guys I know, do not train high volume. Low to mediumish.

  5. I love it, its like a lift,run, bang manifesto.


  6. Cheap college student question here:

    1) Since you recommend Xtend, is glutamine worth the $$ or would a BCAA powder suffice?

    2) I've read you can get all the BCAAs you need from about 25g of Whey taken before/after. Is this true?

    All I take is some creatine mono and I'd rather invest in as few supplements as possible. Awesome site by the way, keep up the great work! Thank you for the help!

    - Jake

  7. Jake - I don't notice much of a difference with anything except the xtend. And no one is paying me anything to write that.

  8. "Get in shape. Who cares if you can pull 800 and bench 450 if you can't fight for 10 seconds without being gassed. That strength becomes useless once oxygen depth sets in. Then you're weak as shit. Eliminating weak points doesn't just mean for lifting, it means for life god dammit. "

    This..x2 ha . it was great.


  9. Hi Paul, wat is the best way to building bottom position strength wrt squats?

  10. Second the xTend - I feel like it helps.
    Though being cheap I went to True Protein and made a version myself. Just instantized BCAAs with a little Citruline Malate, just like eXtend. Only thing missing is a little B6, which you can get at any drugstore.
    Forget the ratio but you could compute it from the label on exTend if you wanted to match it.

  11. Awesome advice Paul, thanks!

  12. The only way of doing high volume that I like is rest pause style. Working up to my three rep max then doing several sets of singles with 30-60 second breaks. I don't do it all the time but it's a nice change of pace.