Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Common sense doesn't always win out

Some 8-10 years ago when the intarwebs was newish, the training craze by the "smart" mo'fuckas was to do box squats and not deadlift.  Of course, this was to make your squat better (wtf?) and well, don't deadlift to build a big deadlift.

Uh yeah, right.

I remember engaging in serious interweb warfare over this bullshit.  Argument after argument ensued.  I didn't give a fuck.  None of it made any god damn sense to me.

"The box squat does the opposite of what actually happens in a raw squat."

"You're a fucking retard Paul Carter.  Over 1 million 1000-pound squatters all base their heavy training around box squats."

"Yeah, they are all heavily geared squatters."

"You're a retard.  I win."

The discussions really weren't from for that at times.

This box squatting looks acceptable to me.

The deadlift one wasn't quite so simple.  There were quite a few good pullers who didn't pull much, but I was still kinda new at figuring out this powerlifting thing so I didn't understand that some guys can do this, and build a good/great deadlift, but most guys CANNOT.  If you don't think so, drop in on a UK powerlifting board for a while.  Most of those guys out pull the American guys on a fairly consistent basis, and laugh about the fact that so many of the equipped American powerlifters have bigger benches than deadlift.  This is a sad fucking thing.  Yes it is.

And what's the difference?  Those guys train the deadlift.

Not training the deadlift to get better at the deadlift is like saying you're going to ride a fucking unicycle to get awesome at driving F-1 race cars.

There are still people who try to argue the box squat thing.  For the life of me, I can't figure out why.  It's not even about "well I added X amount to my squat by box squatting."  No you didn't.  Yes, I wrote that.  No you did not.  If you get on a box and never do a free squat, and neglect quad work, your raw squat will not improve.  If it does, it just means you were probably weak to begin with, so any work at all would have done something.  That, or you are/were taking a bullload of shit.  And no, I'm not going with the "you only win because you juiced" line.  I'm saying the box squat unloads the quads at the bottom.  The OPPOSITE is required in a raw squat.  So you got better at doing 1 thing, by doing the opposite?   Uhhhhhhh.......no.

Now after all my struggles I see so many "name" guys writing this very shit, and it's like "oh wow, yeah what a shocking fucking revelation.  I'm so glad you pointed out how dumb that is!  My training has been going nowhere!"

Months and months ago I had a guy approach me in the gym about improving his bench.  He wanted to know what he could do to become a stronger bencher.

"Bench." I told him.

"But how will that, you know, make my bench go up?"

I stood in amazement at the amount of dumbassery that was in living form in front of me.

"Well, you bench, and add more weight.  Then repeat that until you can do more than you do now."

"Makes sense."

Me benching to get better at....benching...
The next argument was always "well can you lift as much as this guy?  Because he overhead presses more than you bench."

Suck my left testicle.

Mike Singletary was a great, great middle linebacker.  One of the best ever.

He couldn't carry Bill Belichick's jock strap with a bulldozer in terms of being a coach.

The internet is famous for this fucking garbage.  And the "oh yeah, well you outlift him."

Could play.   Couldn't coach.

Being stronger than a guy, doesn't make you smarter about training.  There are lots of highly paid strength and conditioning coaches out there, that kick ass at their job, that can't lift shit.  Most great coaches, whether it be MMA or football or whatever, weren't great at that sport.  Things that come naturally to people generally also means they don't have to learn as much.  This isn't an "always" kind of thing, but it's a pretty good rule of thumb.

On the flip side of that, a guy HAS to have SOME success in lifting, training, whatever himself.  He doesn't have to be Kaz for the love of God, but you want to see that at some point the principles he talks about were applied to himself, and they worked.  The degree may vary depending on genes and drugs, but damn there should be SOMETHING there.

It was using common sense that allowed me to get over pulling/tearing my adductors every few months by you know, strengthening my fucking adductors!  I know, it's crazy shit I tell ya but it worked.

Same for my elbow.  I finally started curling again.  Wow, months later, my elbow pain is almost completely gone.  Again, who fucking knew?  I was told by everyone that curls were only for bodybuilders.  And I hated curling, so I won't lie.  I chose to believe I didn't need it.  Then when that link in the chain broke down, I had to eat some humility.  It tastes much better now.

If you train long enough, you should end up developing a bullshit meter about training methodologies.  Doing things that make no god damn sense just because some strong guy tells you to, is dumb.  He should have a reason for saying why you should do that, and it should make sense.  Like saying "the deadlift needs lots of hamstring and glute work."

There are certain training methodologies that do this to me....

No man, the fucking deadlift is a god damn BACK exercise.  Johnnie Jackson is an 800+ puller and is completely void of hamstrings.  But his back looks like something out of a comic book.  If your deadlift sucks, then you need to deadlift and you need to do shit to make your back stronger than the smell of cat piss in an alley.

Bench?  Again, it's amazing with the "new movement" that people are figuring out that getting your shoulders strong as fuck tends to make your bench go up too!  No way!  The strong guys in the 70's and 80's never did this!  Oh wait, they did!  We've know this for decades!

Triceps for benching is god damn overrated.  Do some close grips after you bench, but get strong as hell on your overhead work WHILE working the bench and you will see carryover.  For MOST people anyway.  Gain some weight and watch what happens to your bench.  Do some flyes to protect the ol pecs.  And do pause benches to get stronger off the chest.

Your gym work should make sense.  This is a big pet peeve of mine.  I ask people all the time "why are you doing that?" and 9 out of 10 times the answer is "uhhhh....well...uhhhh".

Shut the fuck up.

Have a reason.  Have some common sense.  Don't waste any time in the gym doing something, and you don't know WHY you are doing it.  Make your work HARDER.  Not easier.  The better you get at doing something the hard way, the better you're going to get PERIOD.  My wife gets mad as hell because everything I do, she tells me, "is way too fucking hard!  Why do you make it harder?"

Carry that attitude in.

Pause squats are hard.  Regular squatting gets easier.

Pause bench is hard.  Touch n go gets easier.

Mid-shin and below the knee deadlifts are a pain in the ass.  The pull from the floor gets easier.

Overhead pressing is tough as hell.  Deal with it do it.

Anything you do in the gym that you suck nuts at, stop sucking nuts at it.  This requires you to leave your ego at the door, but you should have been doing that anyway.  You're not in there to impress douche bags that cut the sides out of their shirts.  If you are, you've already lost.

If your training has been sucking balls, I suggest you reevaluate if you have been using common sense, and doing things as hard as fucking possible.  If not, check yourself and starting tomorrow, do work.

I have sprints to run and a Monster to drink.


  1. Retardation is winning
    Do something

  2. ...would have made another great shirt

  3. Paul, I could go on about how this post comes at a great time for me, and I could mention that you've ALREADY given me the "ask yourself why you're doing this" speech to great effect once before. My main point is "Thanks." Churning out so much helpful content day after day is amazimg.

  4. Awesome Post! The best stuff I encounter today!

    Thank you!

  5. Another great post!

    People who say that Box Squat thing because "All the best powerlifters at Westside do them" should be shot. It's so retarded. I tried it before... my squat numbers actually dropped.

  6. Many true words here - Ed Coan and Kaz were getting on fine without box squats, speed work, bands or chains.
    Who holds the all time total and squat records ? Don Reinhoudt from the 1970's - who lifted in his cellar in a rack with a bench and some dumbells.
    Nobody has lifted more in the same (or similar) conditions - that's with all the advances in nutrition, drugs, equipment and full time athletes.
    7 lifters from the 70's hold the all time powerlifting records - zero from the 80's or 90's - 4 from the 00's (raw all time no knee wraps records)
    Keep this stuff coming Paul, it's gold-dust.
    Thanks for helping with my squat the other day too.

  7. Great stuff.
    One question though. why doesn't my dumbbell work carry over to barbell work. For instance, why can I press 120lb db for 8 reps but struggle with 225lbs on the incline? I can standing one arm shoulder press 90's but when I go higher then a plate i have to turn it into a push press.
    Is it because it's something that you have to do regularly so it will increase?
    Sorry if this seems like a basic question.

  8. It's a neurological thing. It all still comes back to overload. 120 pounds is still.......120 pounds. Where 225 is a hell of a lot more (duh).

    If your barbell movements go up, you'll find that your db movements go up. The same can't be said of vice versa.

  9. Awesome post Paul...as Im reading I am having some "umm, uhh, moments." guilty as charged.

  10. The only reason I could write that was because I lived some of those moments dude. No worries.