Friday, December 30, 2011

Training the last few days.....

Wednesday -
Upright Rows -
bar x 20
95 x 5
115 x 5
135 x 5
155 x 5
175 x 5
135 x 15

Ab Wheel - 3 sets

Thursday -
Pause Squats -
135 x 10
225 x 5
315 x 3
335 x 3
365 x 3
405 x 3,3
455 x 1
405 x 3,3

Squat Machine - stack x 10
Lunges - 2 x 20
Calf Raises - stack x 16

Notes - Two solid back to back sessions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Weekly Q & A

Leave a name and a question.

Since we're about to kick off 2012 I'd also like to hear about how you guys who wrote in, plan on achieving some of your goals, and/or if I can help with that.

Let's rock n roll......

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Training - Shrugs and back work with vids

Bodyweight - 235

Below the knee pulls with shrug -
225 x 15, 10
315 x 5
405 x 5
500 x 5,5
585 x 3
635 x 5
585 x 10

Db Rows - no straps
150 x 10, 18 ugh need to get better here

Hypers - body x 10, +45 x 15,12

Notes - Good session but my db rows are weak.  I chalk that up to not having done them in a while.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  I also want to say how proud I am of my daughter who is now lifting with me.  She knocked out at least 7 sets of triples tonight on chins.  Two weeks ago she couldn't do any.  I have had her chinning like crazy except the last three days (this was intentional) and the rebound tonight was amazing.  Very proud of my skinny girl.  

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff

Well, 2012 is virtually upon us.  I hope you guys and gals who wrote in about what it is you want to accomplish in 2012 are focused on achieving the task at hand, and have a plan for doing so.  Don't spend another wasted day in the gym or in your daily life being less than you are capable of being.  Make a plan for the next month, 3 months, 6 months, and year to accomplish some meaningful goals.  Both in the gym and outside of it.

I trained 3 times yesterday.  I did cardio in the morning, lifted after lunch, then went back to the gym for another session that evening with a friend I have been helping with some training.  Needless to say I am quite spent today.  Sometimes it is very apparent how important sleep is in recovering.  One of my goals this year to just do a better job of getting into bed earlier, take my drinking down to a maximum of one weekend a month (not that I'm a big drinker, the most I usually have is 2).  Just doing those 2 things I believe, will give my training a pretty big boost.

As I noted in a previous post, I'm very anxious to get back to my caveman-barebones training.  I am enjoying setting the stage for it by doing all of this back and trap work, but I do miss my meat and potatoes style of training.  Lower volume, balls out, limited lifts.  Meet training this year is literally going to be the big 3 with incline, curl, adductor machine, and ab work.  And that's it.

I ate bad over the weekend for Christmas and I was 240 in a couple of days.  Most people have no idea how little I have to eat in order to stay lean and keep my weight at 232-235 pounds.  I'm talking 5 eggs a day, 3 or 4 shakes, and a meal at night.  I'm basically on my shake diet all the time now, I just mix up whatever protein I want to use.  If I get to feeling flat I will do a carb back-load after a heavy workout.  So far this has been working very well for me.  I still want to get even leaner, but I've just gotten a little off the wagon the last month.  Time to reload.

I took the kids to see Hugo a couple of weekends ago.  Worst movie I have seen in a long time.  It's a Martin Scorsese film, so I thought it had to be good (nevermind that Scorsese has had his share of stinkers).  Boy was I fuckin wrong.  I knew it was long, and less than halfway through I felt like cutting on myself so that way at least I would have some amusement for the next hour or so.  My kids, who like just about any movie about other kids, even said it was boring.  Nothing in this film pulled me in.  I never sympathized with the kid, there were too many characters that had no depth.  It was just atrocious.  The story was fucking slow, and the delivery was even worse.  I wish I had two more hands so I could give it four thumbs down.

UFC 141.  I can't wait to watch Lesnar get hit by Alistair Overeem.  If he thought that Carwin or Cain hit hard..........and Pat Berry must be smoking crack with the shit he has said about Brock hitting harder than Alistair.  I mean really Pat?

I managed to use some of that Universal Animal Pump last week ( a sample pack of it) and I liked it pretty good.  Not too much of a jolt, but just enough.  Made my lips and ears tingle, which was pretty cool.

Titanic in 3-D.  I really want to go see this, and when the ship sinks I want to start screaming about how "well that was completely unexpected!"

I really am thinking about inventing my own MRP.  I don't like a lot of the ratios from MRP's now.  Either too few carbs, not enough fiber, or too few fats, not enough protein, too much whey, etc.  If you're a guy living off of MRP's for 4-5 meals a day, you need a really specific MRP.  And it needs to taste awesome too.  I may be looking into this soon.  And no, I will not be going through true protein.

Not a ton to write today.  Super busy with work and personal shit going on.

I was off yesterday, so today cannot suck.

Hope everyone is having a good one.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Training and more calibration

So the results of my trap specialization put me into an obvious over-zealous zone regarding my next adventure. Namely, bringing up my erectors, mid-back, and hamstrings, while maintaining the trap work.

Ahhhhh the best laid plans of mice and men.

It hit me today that point of specializing is to, well, specialize.

So I will be scaling back my training for the next 4-5 weeks to concentrate on rowing and hypers.  I will still shrug but I will drop the specific hamstring work.  I think that rowing can be done as often as needed.  Hypers I will drop to twice a week.  I still need to specialize on hams, but I will have a few weeks to do that after this phase, before I start my meet preparation.

So today looked like this.......

Mondays - Pressing and Rows
Incline -
bar x 40
135 x 15,5
185 x 5
225 x 4
275 x 3
315 x 2
365 x 1
315 x 7
225 x 17

No spotter today so I just stuck with 365 and 315 for 7 but 8 was there.  Still chasing the elusive 10.

Cable Rows - stack 6 sets of 10

One thing I am going to do, is just hit the 200 pound dumbbell I have at the house on the other days more than likely.  I figure if I can crank out 20-30 reps with that thing, the mid-back will be stout.

So this is the readjusted version of the program now......

Monday - Pressing and Rows

Tuesday - Shrugs Hypers

Wednesday - Rows Abs

Thursday - Squats Abs

Saturday -  Rows Hypers Abs

Figuring out the hamstring work for the next phase will not be difficult.  More than likely it will be stiff legs and leg curls.  With leg curls two or three times a week and stiffs once.  But that's another time and another place.

I am looking forward to starting my meet prep already.  I miss my bread and butter bare-bones style training, but I understand the need for these phases and I'm positive they will pay off come meet time.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Peeps

I hope everyone got some cool ass toys.

Oh and training last night------

Standing on block barbell rows - 225 x 5 sets of 10

Hypers - 3 sets of 12

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Training - Squats and shit

Bodyweight - 235

Pause Squats -
135 x 5,5
225 x 3
275 x 3
315 x 3
335 x 3
365 x 3
385 x 3
365 x 3

These felt fucking spectacular.  Yes I know it's baby weight and shit, but this ab and low back work is paying huge dividends already.  Sitting in the bottom I could feel everything was MUCH stronger than it usually is.  I mean MUCH stronger.  Ernie was right.

Lunges - 2 x 20
Calf Raises - stack x 15
Rows on some machine - 5 x 12

Notes - Solid 80%.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Training - Hams and Abs

Russian Leg Curls -
bodyweight x 10,8,7,5,5,5

Ab Wheel -
body x 10,10,10
+45 x 12, 10

Notes - Kinda sluggish but this workout isn't exactly some ball buster.

I had some guys asking me how I setup my natural glute-ham raise so here it is...........and yes I pull the wedgie out at the 20 second mark.

More success stories......

Email I received from Alec this morning.........

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I recently dropped 18 lbs (214-196) and hit a 30 lbs deadlift PR (505-535). The change occurred over the course of about 6 months but the real change happened in just the last 3 (especially the strength as I had a leg injury that kept me from lifting in July and August). Various little things went into accomplishing this but your Strong15 program was one of the ingredients. I followed it for the deadlift and began each deadlift day with power cleans (new to me) and usually ended with semi-power shrugs. I also switched to front squatting for the last 8 weeks. As I mentioned, there were various other things that went into this but I won’t bore with the details. I have become a believer in hitting heavy weight and then backing off. Thank you for putting the program out there. I look forward to the new version.

Best regards,


This is what I like to read about.  The thing I like about the guys that are following my stuff, is that they are doing a great job of thinking on their own about the things they need to do outside of the program.  You have to be a smart lifting scientist.  I can never emphasize that enough.  

Great job Alec.

Strong Reloaded in the works.......

I've started outlining and writing the follow up to the strong-15.  This thing is going to be HUGE.

One thing this book is going to be about is lifting AND life principles.  Anyone who reads here knows that I often overlap those two.  And it's really coming out in the early writings here.  Already here is an early outline of the chapters.

Becoming the Lion

My Squat sucks - Lots of squat programming

My Deadlift sucks - Deadlifting program with block pulls and stiff legged programming

My Bench sucks and well, my overhead sucks too - Bolstering your pressing prowess 

Core Work - This isn't fucking yoga we're talking about - Why this shit is so important if you are raw

Getting Yoked - Eating to gain quality mass

Getting Sexay - Dieting and Conditioning

Offseason Training - Setting the stage

Meet Programming - The shit you need to do before you even pay your entry fee

Big-15 for mass - Using your support work to create a bigger you

Bodypart Specialization - Bringing up shitty bodyparts (this part will include routines for virtually every bodypart) 

Steroids - What you REALLY need to know

Whole Body Training - My completely uneducated opinion on how to do this correctly 

Rehabbing and Prehabbing - How to get uninjured and stay uninjured 

Expect this to be a rather large book.  But since it's hump day, and I'm awesome here is an early excerpt that will probably be redone at some point, but I want you guys to get the gist of what I am after here...........

Strength reigns.  Strength is king.


As big as I am on conditioning and being in shape, which is very important in the scheme of being the baddest mother fucker you can be, strength is still king.  

My motto about training is, and has been for a long time, "be strong - be in shape."

But the front runner in that sentence is to "be strong".  

Two sprinters of equal ability.  Make 1 stronger, he wins.

Two fighters of equal ability.  Make 1 stronger, he wins.  

This paradigm exists across every combat and sporting platform that exists in the universe.  

All things being equal, the stronger version will triumph.  "Greater strength!" boasts the victor.  

Whether you run this program for powerlifting or not, doesn't matter.  This program is designed to make you stronger.  And the stronger you are, the greater your odds of success in battle become, whatever that battle may be.  Natural selection weeds out the weak.  It separates the wheat from the chaff.  It delineates the alpha from the beta.    

Weak willed?  Death becomes the only option when dire circumstances arise.

Weak of spirit and constitution?  See above.  

Weak of mind?  Falters under complexity.  

Weak of body?  Falters under physical burdens.

Whether in life or training, overcoming adversity and obstacles is what builds strength.  It should not only build strength in your body, but in your mind and in your spirit.  Wasting these opportunities in regards to either, means you are wasting opportunities to grow to your potential.  The strongest of men never became that way out of prosperity.  It was through fire and ice; flesh and bone; blood, sweat, and tears, as they say.    

Men, real men, grow strong in body and mind, and prosper from it.  It allows them to protect their young and loved ones, feed their families, and do things that the weak of mind , body, and spirit, cannot.  It has been this way since the dawn of time.      

Strength is what allows a man to leave a legacy behind, long after he is gone.  Not because of the things he acquired, but the intangibles he leaves behind.  


I'm really enjoying writing this and I can't wait to have some free weekends where I can start pouring this shit out.  I already have so many programs going into this thing that it's going to take some time.  I am also going to take plenty of time out to make sure this thing is as high a quality as I can develop.  

My guess would be around the April or May mark of 2012.  So keep your pants on for it.  But I promise you anyone who buys it will not be disappointed and no matter what obstacle they face in their training they will be able to come back to it and get "reloaded" to overcome it.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Training - Back stuff

Bodyweight - 235

Pendlay Rows -
135 x 10
225 x 5,5,5,5,5
275 x 5,5,5

Cable Rows - stack x 15 strip 72 x 8 strip 50 x 6

Hypers -
body x 12, 10
+ 25 x 8
+80 x 10,10,6

Ab Machine - 240 x 10 <- this hurt.

Notes - Nice one.  80% rock solid.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Training - Pressing and pipes

Bodyweight - 236

Incline -
bar x 40
135 x 12
185 x 5
225 x 4
275 x 3
315 x 2
335 x 1
365 x 1
315 x 8

Got ran out of the gym due to a power outage at this point.  So I went home and did pipes.

Db Curls and Lying Db Skulls - 5 sets of 15

Notes - Solid.  80%.

Weekly Q & A

You guys have been blowing up regular posts with lots of questions, so I am assuming you have a bunch right now.

Leave a name and a question.  Bullshit is welcome.........

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Training and some changes in the routine......

Yesterday -
Mid-shin deadlift shrugs -
225 x 10, 5
315 x 8
405 x 5,5
500 x 5,5
585 x 5,5
635 x 5
585 x 9

Cable Rows - stack x 6 sets of 10
Hypers - 4 sets of 12

Notes - I was 233 btw.  Anyway I am going to spread the routine across a few more days.  So essentially it will end up looking like this..........

Mondays -

Tuesday -

Wednesday -
Russian Leg Curls

Thursday -

Saturday -

Sunday -
Russian Leg curls

I knew with me trying to specialize more than 1 bodypart it will take a little bit of getting in the gym to see how this would pan out.  First day out I knew I didn't want to do high volume shrugs AND rows AND hypers.  After the hypers my low back was already pretty fried.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff

Haven't done one in a while because, wow, I've had so much training info I have been writing and sharing.  So I suppose that's a good thing.

Let me tell you what a douche Christian Thibaudeau, of t-bag nation is.  Dude was my friend on Facebook.  I came across one of his recent training videos and thought it looked like he had gotten significantly bigger.  I was impressed with how much, so I dropped him a message asking what he's weighing these days.  I never heard back.  Sometime later, Facebook alerted me that Mr. Thib's was "a friend I should add."


So I went to his page, and sure enough.  He had removed me.  So I sent him a private message.

This was the actual conversation.........

Me - "Dude out of almost 5 thousand people I got removed? What the hell did I do?"

Tibadouche - "You kept asking what my weight was. I find it annoying when someone asks personal questions, The fact that I didn't answer your question should have been a good clue not to ask it again"

Me - "I looked back through our conversations. I asked ONE TIME. Mainly because I saw your recent vid and thought you looked like you had gotten a lot bigger. I thought only women took asking for their weight as a "personal question." JFC grow a pair."

That's right.  Thibadouche removed me from Facebook, because I asked him a personal question.  That "personal question" was, how much do you weight.

I thought only women thought that was a personal question.  So here is the only thing I can deduct from that conversation.  

Christian Thibadouche pees sitting down.  

Pees siting down

I still haven't transcribed the Chaos and Bang 2.  I am working on the software to get it calibrated better so that way when it does the transcribing, I have less work to do.  I also have some other things in the works, so be patient.

I haven't watched a movie in for fucking ever!  I go through these spells where I don't.  I am also open to some recommendations to get me back in the flow.  But something that will knock my socks off.

I haven't even watched the last two episodes of Dexter, and missed this whole season of TUF.  I'm just not into the tube right now.  I barely watch TV as is, and right now, I'm watching it even less.

Speaking of UFC, some kinks in Jon Jones armor was shown.  Machida dominated him for that first round.  Yes I know, he got subbed, but I think that cut in the forehead really took it out of him.  He was not himself after that.  I think Machida could be the guy that beats Jones because that unorthodox style really had Jones in a funk.  I personally don't think Jones is going to have some epic long run.  He lacks power, and at 205 a guy without power isn't going to hold onto a championship belt for very long.  All you Jones jock toters can kiss my ass.

Won't be champ for long

Russian Leg curls are the fucking devil.  I REALLY want to get good at these.

In case you haven't read all the responses, Rick wrote in about how Ed Coan talked about back building for a bigger deadlift.  I can't say how much this REALLY encompasses my philosophy.  Use the lifts to build the lifts, and get bigger to increase the ceiling for the lifts.  That is essentially what I am doing right now.  Because I am also trying to get leaner, I reasoned that it was possible I could concentrate on building 1 or 2 smaller areas at a time in a calorie deficit.  It worked for traps.  I'm not sure if it will work as well with trying to maintain the traps while building the hams, erectors, and rhomboids but if it does, I'm golden.

Anyway back to the point.  If your erectors, back, and hams are fucking jacked you should be able to pull big using the deadlift and possible block dead to build it.  This is not rocket science.  This is also not weak point building.  This is just building the body.  Get the parts that do the work bigger, and their strength ceiling will expand.  Just use the lift to get near that ceiling.  If bench was a program for me, I'd be cranking the fucking pecs and shoulders hard as hell, triceps too.  If legs were the issues I'd work hacks and leg press like mad after squatting.  Get the areas involved in the lift as jacked as possible.  This is how to use assistance and support work to your best advantage.  Not trying to overthink fucking weaknesses in the movement.  Look, you miss a lift because you didn't generate enough momentum from the weakest position.  This is why bottom position work is so golden for raw guys.  You put yourself into movement disadvantages.  When those disadvantages become easier, i.e. you get stronger, then you move the weight with greater velocity and you then don't miss.  You make that lift.  It's not about training "weak points" in the movement.  I think that's fairly dumb.  But that's just my own way of thinking.

Jesus, it's like the population quadrupled when I go out.  Stores are packed, the roads are packed.  Where the fuck did all these people come from?  I know this time of year there are more people out than usual, but this year it seems like we were invaded by another country for the purpose of clogging up retail outlets.  In the morning I'm already pissed at the world, but getting behind people driving 0.07 MPH really gets my internal Satan going.  I need to learn how to practice some calm.

I need to get a truck.  The winter is coming and the SRT8 is a god damn death trap when the snow hits.  Even in LIGHT snow, the backend comes out on me.  And no, tires don't help.  I just put some expensive ass tires on anyway, so I'm not changing em out.  I want a truck anyway, so I'm making up any excuse I can to just get one.  Hell yes.

I am going to Fogo tomorrow which is a Brazilian steakhouse where they bring out meat on a fucking stick to you.  I love this place like Jesus loves sinners.  I always eat way too much and get the meat sweats when I am there.  I'm talking pounds and pounds of filet magnum and sirloin.  Provolone injected sirloin no less.  I generally ask them to just leave it.  This always makes them have a sad.  And I don't care.

I have a new training partner.  My 13 year old.  It's time.  She's a skeleton and needs some confidence too.  The teen years are hard as fuck.  I know what lifting did for me during that time and I hope she can experience some of that same benefit.  Plus I think having three girls that are jacked and can take care of themselves will be pretty fucking cool.

I hope that everyone is having a safe and awesome holiday season and remembering what I asked about essentially paying it forward.  Try to do something nice for others and go out of your way to do so.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Posterior assault phase 2 (insert jokes) <- pun intended.....

So now that the trap/shrug/yoke phase is complete, it's time to move on to phase 2 in setting myself up for a bigger deadlift next year.

Before I just lay shit out though, I want to talk about WHY I am doing what I am doing and break some things down, at a layman level.

One of the things I drive home all the time in my articles is to know WHY you are doing the shit you are doing.  Not just WHY, but legitimately why.  For example......

"Why are you doing board presses?"

"Because my lockout sucks."

"But you can already board press more than you bench.  So you don't really need to work on your lockout."

Thus, board presses aren't a legit "why".

My "why" for doing these phases are as so.....

  • Overdevelop the areas that do the big work in the deadlift.
  • Use the deadlift to build the deadlift after development is complete.

My feeling after the last meet was that I'm still underdeveloped in the areas needed for pulling big weights.  My traps, hamstrings, and erectors all need to shit ton more development, size, and density.

Trap training twice a week will continue, however two more exercises will be introduced to help the erectors, rhomboids, and hamstrings.  This pretty much completes the areas involved in big pulling.

The exercises I will use, and why I will use them goes like this.......

  1. Shrugs - Shrugging will continue.  I feel once my shrugging is in the 700+ range for 5+ reps then upperback strength will not be an issue.  My shrugging has always been weak, and while improved, still has a way to go.  I also think that, regardless of what popular opinion is, traps play a big role in strength off the floor.  Ever notice when you see a picture of a guy pulling with the bar just a few inches off the floor his traps look like they will explode?  I also noticed when I emphasized shrugs this past summer that my strength off the floor improved, and I felt more "stable".  
  2. Russian Leg Curls aka natural glute ham raises - These are hard and I suck at them.  I spend a lot of time doing research on movements and everytime I looked into functional movements for the hamstrings, that also caused the most activation of the hamstrings, these popped up first.  I won't lie, I hate these fuckers.  I am terrible at them.  Which is probably a good reason to do them, because they involve so much ham activity.  Remember, do the shit you suck.  The things you are good at will take care of themselves.  Which also bring me to.....
  3. Hypers - I suck at these too.  Again, this is probably indicative of the fact that my erectors aren't as strong as they need to be.  I could have done GM's, but I can get good at GM's pretty easily.  I gave GM's a run many years ago and never found them to do as much for me as advertised by some.  In other words, they didn't cure cancer like I was told they did.  So I will give hypers a run.  
  4. Rows - This will include cable, pendlay, barbell, and dumbbell, whatever.  This one is pretty simple.  More rhomboids = more room for lockout strength.  Contrary to popular belief, shrugs do not help with the lockout.  Your rhomboids are the muscles that help your lockout in the deadlift.  The bigger your rhomboids are, the higher the strength ceiling.  Well, that pretty much goes for all of this.
So how am I going to set all this bullshit up?  Let's talk about it.......

The next 4 weeks (I said 6 initially, but I may just go 4)

Mondays -
Press - usually an incline press or overhead.  I'd like to incline 405 in the next month or so but it's not exactly a priority.  Just something that would be nice.  
Rows - 5-7 sets of 5 with a static weight.  Usually t-bar or pendlay.  
Rows - different row for 1 set of high reps to failure.  Db or cable.  
Curls - elbow health

Tuesdays - 
Mid-shin deadlifts with shrug - 7-10x3, 1x10-20 as usual
Above the knee timed hold - 1x1  Will do these to improve grip.  
Russian Leg Curls - until I die
Hypers - same as Russian leg curls

Wednesdays - 
Restorative work -
PVC rolling on back and stretching.  

Thursdays -
Pause Squats - 3x3  Not going to try squatting heavy while I'm doing all of this low back work.  That would be fairly stupid.  However I still want my squat to stay strong, so I will push the pause squats a bit during this time.  455x3 is a best.  So 475x3 would be a nice goal here.
Glute-Ham - until I die
Calves - Because I like my calves to stay big.  That's the reason, and it's good enough.  

Saturdays - 
Shrugs - 5x5, 1x20 as usual
Row - Probably Pendlays working up to a top triple
Weighted Hypers (on an angle) - These will be done on the angled hyper, using a bar.  Not on my back, but from the floor.  I have no idea what a decent weight for these are, but I suck at these so I will push hard.

Sundays - 
Russian Leg Curls - Until I die
Weighted Ab Wheel - 3x10
Arms - a couple of sets for the ladies.  

I will be dropping a little bit of cardio as well.  Mainly because I'm working on a more areas, and rather than bump up calories, I am just going to drop cardio because I can sleep in a little later (I hope) and use a little less energy overall.  

The results for the trap work exceeded my expectations.  Now because of that, I won't accept anything less this go round for the back, erector, and hamstring work.  

Also, if I get into the gym or a few weeks into it and something just isn't "right" I will make a change.  This usually doesn't mean wholesale changes, but if I feel like my erectors get chronically overtrained or if I feel like an overuse is coming on, I will immediately change something.  There's always going to be some trial and error in these things.  

Let me also add, I will be taking this week off for the most part, in order to rest up a bit and get my neck worked on.  I might do some light stuff but this will not start until next Monday.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Putting my money where my mouth is......

So Saturday ended the 4 week yoke routine.

It's the initial phase for beefing up the areas involved in the deadlift.  Setting the "stage" if you will.

Did my plan work?

Well I'll let you be the judge.

This is me back in July at 252 or so pounds...........

And this is from this morning at 235 pounds..........

There is no trickery or flexing or anything going on here.  That's just 4 weeks of my hands hurting, and doing trap work 3-4 times a week.

Here are two more pics to illustrate the progress.

This pic is from Halloween, right after I got out of prison and full of "tats" (and if you can't laugh at this, go fuck yourself with a turnip).......I was around the same weight.  235 pounds or so.

And here is now at 235 pounds.........

Conditioning wise, I ate about 90000000000 calories in carbs last night, hence me being a little more smoothed out.

I also don't know why I look like someone just ate the last piece of chocolate cake in this pic, but I do.

And one more from the rearview, because everyone likes a rearview shot.........

Just contrast that to my above shot on the website page, and I think the difference should be obvious.

I had some variations within the program based on a given day.  But I'll reiterate here how most weeks looked.

Monday - 
Dynamic Deadlifts - up to a top triple for 2-3 sets, then regular shrugs to a top triple.  A back off set of dynamic shrugs, then a back off set of regular shrugs for 15-20 reps.
Ab and Calf Work

Tuesday -
Pressing and curls

Wednesday - 
Upright Rows - I found I liked doing something like strip sets here or something crazy, like the 65x50.  I did do some high volume too.  I really played this one by ear.
More Abs and Calves

Thursday - 
Squats and shit like that.

Saturday - 
Mid-shin Deadlifts with Shrugs - Basically I would do a mid-shin deadlift, then do shrugs with it for reps.
Usually I did lots of sets of 5 with 500 and 585, then sometimes with 635.  Then a back off set of 15-20 with 500.
Afterwards I would do more upright rows, usually with cables or something different.
After that I did arm work.

Notes - 

  • My neck stayed pretty jacked up after the first week, and I don't mean in a good way.  It hurts as I sit and write this.  I recommend being prepared to get some ART or deep tissue on it once a week.  I will do that this week.  
  • Your hands with take a fucking beating.  My callouses hurt like a mother fucker after week two.  Thankfully I am smart (ok so I'm not, but I was about this) and I filed those bitches down so that way a session was never killed because of a ripped callous and raw flesh.  
  • Get some good straps.  I went through a pair.  Jamie told me to get some straps from Spuds.  If I ever run this again, I will.    
  • The one thing that happens when you are hitting a bodypart this much, is that you REALLY get in tune with it.  I could make my traps work, or feel them work, on just about anything I did after the first two weeks.
  • I did this while continuing to diet, though my weight didn't change a lot in the last month.  I have been living off of whole eggs, protein shakes, red meat, and veggies.  Carbs have been VERY limited other than cheating once a week on Friday or Saturday night as a carb up.  This also proves what I said about improving some muscular areas on limited calories.  It can be done.  I do NOT believe it will work for overall muscle mass, but some small individual parts can be improved.  Overtime however, you could apply this to the whole body, adding bits of muscle here and there, without getting fat, and getting bigger.  You see where I'm going with this????  
The next stage will be shoring up the erectors and hamstrings while maintaining the work I have done for my traps.  I will go over all of that shit in the article, and talk about the plan for a big pull this year.    

Developing your raw bench - Part 3

Ok so the final installment in this series is nothing more than some routines I have used over the years to increase my bench.

One really good one I have used I wrote about before.  It's some simple programming that works really well, and should look familiar to most dudes and chics that drop in here.  I have written about it before, but in case you missed it i looks like this.

Training Max = 93% of Real Max

This is pretty simple.  If you can bench 315 as a MAX (I mean you actually did 315 and you consider that to be your actual MAX, not something imagined in your head, then you plug in 290 (rounded down) as the max. 290 is 93% of 315, if no one did the math here.

Week 1 - 80% x 1, 70%xmax reps
Week 2 - 85% x 1, 75%xmax reps
Week 3 - 90% x 1, 80%xmax reps
Week 4 - 93% x 1, 85%xmax reps
Week 5 - 95% x 1, 85%xmax reps
Week 6 - 98% x 1, 90%xmax reps
Week 7 - 100% x 3

So in week 7 you'd do 290x3.  Got it?

I will be running this over the 4 weeks (starting in week 4) in order to try to hit a 405 incline which has been a goal for a while.  So laid out in a spreadsheet this is how it looks........

MAX 405 Training Max 375
x1 xmax reps
week 1 295 265 goal 15+
week 2 315 280 goal 15
week 3 335 300 goal 12
week 4 350 315 goal 10
week 5 355 315 goal 10-12
week 6 365 335 goal 8
week 7 335 x 1, 375x1 405x1

I rounded the numbers up or down depending on how I saw fit.  You will also notice, that I set goals for the back off sets.  These are not arbitrary goal numbers.  If I can hit these goals week in and week out, or get very close, then 405 should be very doable.  In week 7, if I were benching I'd hit the triple with the 375 as normally planned, and I would know I would be good for 405.  In fact, 365x3 generally means 405 is doable, but you always want to have some in the tank for it.  

For me right now this always plays in with the next 6 weeks of back training I will be doing to launch into my meet work.  Incline is the only pressing I will be doing.  And 405 is something I have wanted to hit on incline for a while.  

The "all my shit hurts" routine -

This was my staple for a while, and was the thing that got my bench back up over 400 consistently.  My pec minor and elbows would not allow me to bench heavy each week, so I eventually settled on the fact that I could bench heavy every other week, and incline heavy in between and I had fewer elbow and pec issues.

Week 1 - 
Bench (heavy) - 5,4,3,2,1,1,1 (no back offs)
Incline (light) - 225 or 250 for max reps x 2 sets

Week 2 - 
Incline (heavy) - up to a top triple, 1x8-10 back off
Overhead Press - medium weight - 2 sets all out

This worked beautifully.  I stayed light on the inclines for reps after the heavy benching, and I avoided the back off sets on the bench.  This kept me from overworking things on that plane and my elbows and pec minor thanked me for it.  If you are an old gray pubes lifter like me, and feel beat up a lot from years of the heavy iron, this kind of thing can be a godsend.  Just keep the incline and other pressing light on the bench days.  

The "I need to press on another day!" routine -

This one I used for the USPF nationals and I felt good about it.  I don't/can't bench twice a week, and personally, I don't think you need to.  I know too many 500+ benchers that bench once a week to think I need to be benching multiple times a week.  

But I did do some pressing on an alternate day.  And this is what I did.  

Day 1 - 
Bench - cycle work
Curls and Triceps

Day 2 - 
Press Behind the Neck - 1-2 x 8-10
Db Bench - 2x15-20
Rear or Side Laterals light - 2-3x15-20

This also worked well for me.  I basically did the 100's on db bench each week, shooting for 20+ reps each set.  I never changed the weight there, and kept it light.  

I never used bands or chains or boards, or whatever.  Chains might be ok for a raw guy.  Bands?  I see no point.  Boards?  Useless IMO, and I've already explained why.  

This article is not long because these things have become the bread and butter of my training and have been for a LONG time.  I've tried the whole benching 3X a week shit, and all that ever did was irritate my joints and tendons.  Not for me.  

The main thing also is, to start LIGHT!  Too many guys start too heavy in the programming for their bench and they stall very fast.  Make sure you get a running start on the weights you are hitting.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Training the last few days.....

Thursday -
Squats - no belt
135 x 10
225 x 5
315 x 4
405 x 3
455 x 2
500 x 1
405 x 12

Lunges - 3 sets of 20
Calf Raises - stack x 14

Today -
Mid-Shin Deadlifts with Shrugs -
225 x 10,5
315 x 5
405 x 5
500 x 5,5,5
585 x 5,5,5
635 x 5
500 x 5 sets of 10

Machine Curls

Notes - Weight is 234 pounds or so.  The squats were terrible and I felt like shit.  Today was much better even though I got totally hammered last night.  That never happens.  I mean having a good workout after getting hammered.  But today was solid.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Death is something in 2012

I'm not really a big new years resolution person.  I think every day, every week, every month you should be trying to get better.  Better not just at lifting, but life and the things you are attempting to conquer.

Mediocre people are always satisfied.  Don't be satisfied with where you are at.

I'm constantly reinforcing the fact that you need to have goals.  Goals in life, professional goals, and lifting goals.  Just remarking that you "want to get better" or "want to be awesome" doesn't really define anything.

Setting your sights on goals gives you something tangible to go after.  Gives you a reason to plan, and makes you think about your plan of action.  Remember to always ask yourself why it is you are doing what you are doing.  You should be able to give an answer to why it is you are doing the things you are doing.

I will give some examples of this from my last meet, and the goals I put in place following that.

After the meet I knew I didn't want to compete in the 275's anymore.  I feel like shit at that weight.  Second, I'm not really any stronger at 270 than I am at around 250.  I lift as good at 250 as any weight.  But eating is fun, and so up and away I'd go to 265 or so.

But I wanted to be a "bigger 242".  In other words, I need to be 245-250 but leaner at that weight than I usually am.

I also wanted to shore up some more injury issues, and some muscular imbalances.  As much as I love minimalistic training there are some downfalls to training that way all the time.  Namely you lose mobility and get tight in some very common areas (hip flexors, piriformis, rotators, etc), overdevelop some areas, and under utilize others.  This is how imbalances come about, how training comes to a standstill and how you get injured.

My goal after the last meet, in order was -

  • Get healthier (injury wise)
  • Drop fat
  • Get back in shape
These things are done.  I am injury free right now and feeling good.  I have dropped down to 235 at around 8.5% bodyfat from a high of 272.  I will continue to diet and work on conditioning.  But as I do here are the things I have been working to shore up as well.  

So for months I used the LRB template, which is centered around all of those things.  

Getting into shape - Shoring up weak areas - Maintaining foundation level strength or improving it slightly

The LRB template did this amazingly.  I shed bodyfat while keeping a solid baseline of strength, and even improving in a lot of areas, I shored up all of the nagging injuries I had been dealing with, and got back into great condition.  

After that.......

  • The yoke program.  This has worked damn well.  Will post up pics in the next week or so.  On a very limited diet my traps have grown quite a bit I believe.  
  • The yoke specialization wasn't just about vanity, it's the first stage in moving my deadlift to a new level. I wanted to get my shrug into the 600-700 range for reps.  I'm hitting 635x5 now but that needs to be more like 705x5 consistently.  So some of that work will continue.  I wanted to use this time to improve my upperback strength so that I know it's over what I am shooting for in the deadlift.  This is why 705x5 is still a goal and will remain a goal.  I know my upperback and traps will be damn strong when I am hitting 705x5 with quality ROM.  
  • The next phase, which starts next week, is extreme fucking core and back work.  I mean erectors, abs, obliques, lats, rhomboids and traps (still).  Emphasis will be placed on the erectors and midback especially.  I believe my erectors need to come way up in terms of strength to move my deadlift into the 700's.  I will lay out how I plan on doing this by Monday.  

More than likely, the phase after that will be meet prep, which I intend to do in April.  During this time I will change the diet around just a bit (will talk about getting lean, staying lean, and adding QUALITY mass by making a few subtle changes in your diet so you don't get sloppy fat again but feel awesome).  I will run the strong-15 just as outlined however I am already planning to do as little as possible in meet prep as I've ever done.  Literally this means......

Saturday - 
Pause Squat

Monday - 

Wednesday - 
Stiff Legs/Shrugs

This is literally as bare bones as I can get.  The adductor work is in for injury prevention.  The curl is for elbow injury prevention.  My bench and incline seem to move each other so I always put them in together.  I could do PBN every other week but that's not really that important.

Not only that, but I have decided to do some things with the TIME I train in order to better prepare me for the next meet.

Squats will be done on Saturday morning.  This makes sense because you squat first at the meet, and it's usually in the morning.  Deadlifts will be done late at night when I am tired as fuck.  I expect pulling to be a bitch during this time.  I figure if I can smoke 675 or so while I am tired, 700+ should be a no brainer.

The point about all this is, I have had a plan since the last meet ended.  I didn't drift about wondering what the fuck I should do (ok so I did for a few weeks after when my body felt destroyed but I eventually got my shit together).

Decide what the fuck it is you want to conquer and go after it like Genghis Khan on trenbolone!

Now bitches, tell me what it is you plan on accomplishing in the next year.........

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Training - Traps and shit

Bodyweight - 235

Upright Rows -
135 x 5 sets of 10
65 x 50 (yes 50 reps and yes it sucked)

Ab Wheel - 5 sets of 10

10 40-yard sprints

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Training - Pressing

Bodyweight - 235

Incline -
135 x 12,8
185 x 5
225 x 4
275 x 3
315 x 8
225 x 20  Yes.  1 shy of PR.

Seated Db Press - 100's x 12, 8

Seated Lateral Machine - stack x 10,10,8
Db Curls - 40's x 20,20

Notes - Tired as fucking hell.  Carbs and calories are LOOOW.  In a few weeks when I bump them back up I'm going to take a shot at a 405 incline.  But I will go for a few weeks at 365 before that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekly Q & A.......

Leave a name and a question!

Chaos and Bang - Part 2

It's coming.

Jamie and I did another round table yesterday.

In it we covered........

  • What constitutes weak 
  • Internet message board "lifting" (if you can call them that) bitches
  • Some of the ways in which our training ideas are alike
  • Jamie's inability to get an erection and orgasm properly
  • How most volume training sucks, and the fat bitches that do it
  • Why getting injured is important
Stay tuned............

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Training - Traps and shit

Weight - 233 pounds

Mid-shin deadlifts with shrug -
225 x 5,5
315 x 5,5
405 x 3
500 x 5,5,5
585 x 5,5,5
635 x 5

Regular Shrug - 500 x 20

Curl - machine curl 175 x 10,3,2 r/p style
Seated Dip Machine - stack x 20

Friday, December 2, 2011

Developing your raw bench - Part 2

Grip - 

How you grip the bar, both in terms of width, force, and thumb/no thumb is going to be a very individualized thing.  

People always ask me how many inches between my hands.  I have no clue.  I've never measured it.............until just now.  It's roughly 15 inches of space between my hands.  This is not something that concerns me, I just know that's where I feel comfortable, and where I have been benching for a few years now and my shoulders have given me all sorts of handshakes and man hugs for it.  

So obviously I'm going to preach benching with a closer grip, because unless you're one of those t-rex short-armed-can't-deadlift-shit-made-for-bench-pressing bench pressers, it's probably a good idea to save your shoulders.  Guys that are built for benching seem to be able to get away with that super wide grip shit I see.  All that did/does is make my pec tendons and shoulders hurt.  Plus let's be honest, someone close gripping 550 like Konstantinovs is more badass than some fat t-rex armed bench only guy, gripping shit out to the collars, to belly press 600.  

Also, since many guys that stop in here don't even compete, and that's ok, it's all the more reason to bench with a closer grip.  Not only that, it's my belief that a close grip bench has better carryover into sports.  Get into a fighting stance or into a drive blocking stance as an offensive lineman.  Your hands aren't wide as hell.  They are close to your body, where power can be generated starting at the hips.  

I personally think all guys should be benching closer, but too many guys are afraid of the ego hit and continue on down the path of torn pecs and achy rotator cuffs.  

Now, as far as where the thumb goes, I grip thumbless.  I have forever now.  Yes, it's more dangerous.  So what?  

Ok that's out of the way.

Now I think that benching thumbless, like overhead pressing thumbless, puts the bar into a better power path.  If it does it for the overhead press almost automagically, why wouldn't it do it for the bench?

Well, mainly because most guys still have the bar too far back in their hand.  The bar basically sets on the palms of your hands when you bench thumbless, however I still grip the bar tight with my fingers.  In over 20 years of benching like this, I've only had it come out of my hands twice.  Decent odds I suppose.

If you decide to go with your thumb around the bar, I recommend being very cognitive of not letting the bar get too far back into your hand.  When that happens the wrist is in a bent position and again, you lose leverage over the bar.  This is bad and you will bench press poorly.

I also don't buy into the whole kinetic energy thing about gripping the bar as hard as possible.  Yes, I understand the theory behind it, however the path the bar travels in is far more important than that.  If it weren't, then guys wouldn't overhead press more with a thumbless grip, than full grip.  But they do.  This is because the path of the bar outweighs the importance of gripping it hard.  Gripping the bar hard may help you "feel" tighter, but if the path of the bar is completely fucked, then it won't matter.  You will press less weight.  

Assistance Work - 

Anyone who has read through my nonsense knows I am not a believer in training "weak points" when it comes to a movement.

I always have to clarify what that means, however.  I do not believe in training "the lockout" or "weak points in the ROM".  I think this is nonsense and a complete waste of time.  Especially for raw guys.  If your bench is stuck, gain weight or just get stronger.  The majority of raw guys don't miss at lockout, they miss about 6 inches off the chest, or about halfway up where the transition starts.  This is NOT the lockout.  I've never seen a raw guy miss at lockout.  Lockout to me is the last quarter range of motion.  

People never understand what "get stronger" means either.  It means what I say.  Get stronger.  I don't understand what's hard about that to understand?

Mike Tuchscherer is really fuckin smart by the way, and I have used this story before.  But basically he helped a guy out whose bench press was stuck for a while, and he helped him get stronger at the bottom, and locking X amount of weight out no longer became a problem.  Unlike Mike, people tend to do shit backwards in regards to this.  They do a bunch of fucking board presses and lockout work.  This does NOT address the issue.  Namely that you aren't generating enough velocity from the start at the movement to finish it.

Think about it.

If you can do a 3 or 4 board press with 100 more pounds than you can bench, but you keep saying you are failing at lockout, then how the fuck does doing board presses fix that issue?  You're already PROVING to yourself that you can lockout WAY more than you can press with the board presses.  So do you REALLY need to make your lockout stronger?  You know, when you can ALREADY lockout way more than you can use in a full ROM?  Where is the "weak point" at?  It's at the bottom.  Duh.  

Common sense people.

You need to get stronger off the bottom.  One day some big named mother fucker is going to start driving this home and people are going to act like it's the first time someone wrote it.  Now that Scott Yard and Chad Wesley Smith have deemed box squats virtually useless for raw most guys, everyone is like "ohhhh ok, that makes sense" when I have been writing this shit for 10 years.  

Look, there is no "weak point" training required, nor does it fix anything.  Not when we are talking about ROM in a movement.  Training specificity RULES.  This has been proven over and over and over and over and over again.  And in that regard, training the bottom portion of the actual lift, getting stronger there is where your money maker is.  This is why guys who have run my programs with paused benches and paused squats see such a big increase in those lifts.  Because when you get stronger off the bottom you can generate more velocity with X amount of weight.  More velocity means moving through your sticking point, not getting stuck at it.  You don't get stuck at your sticking point because you are weak there, you get stuck there because you haven't generated enough power to move through it with that particular weight.  

Notice where I miss this 435 close grip.  It's not at lockout.  It's halfway up.  

The power starts from the beginning of the movement.  And either you can generate enough power to move through the "sticking point" or you cannot, and you fail.  This is not about "weak points".  It's about power/strength.  Whenever you try a new weight that you aren't strong enough to lift, guess where you will fail at?  Yes, that same spot again.  That spot is never going to go away.  Stop fucking about trying to change this shit.  Just get stronger.  And mainly, get stronger off the bottom.  

Now look at 430 with a pause from my last meet........I obviously still left a few pounds on this lift.

I didn't train for weak points.  I just concentrated on getting stronger.  When I got stronger, that weight moved  with more speed off my chest.  Thus, I could make the lift.  I didn't do board presses or banded bench shit or chains or whatever.  

"Well you do partial deadlifts Paul.  What about that?"

This is a bench article, but for the sake of discussion, I do partial deadlifts below the knee because it puts you in a position of disadvantage compared to the regular deadlift.  Remember, do the things that are HARDER.

A lot of guys can lift less from those position than the floor.  Or even if they can lift more, it's not a lot.  Board presses let you lift more, but don't build bottom position strength.  Box squats aren't raw squats, it's a completely different lift and does the opposite of what a raw squat does (unloads the quads at the bottom).  I had some fat and weak internet "gurus" argue about this with me years ago as well.  And they were wrong.  

I also don't stop pulling from the floor. But that's another discussion so stop getting me sidetracked.

Where were we?  

Oh yeah, assistance work.

Let's get some other bullshit out of the way.  Doing lat work for benching makes no sense to me either.  This theory came about from geared benchers who actually need to pull the bar into their chest because the bench shirts have gotten so thick and tight, that guys have trouble touching.  Last time I checked, a raw guy never had trouble actually getting a completely empty bar to his chest.  You probably don't need to pull the bar into you.  This is dumb on a whole other level from a raw perspective.  Stop reading articles from geared benching about raw benching.  

Upperback work is good, however.  It will help you to be more stable on the bench, and this could help you lift more but that is mostly an indirect thing.  You should be doing upperback work anyway.  And if you are going to do upperback work here is a tip.......

Pull the bar or handle into the spot WHERE YOU BENCH FROM.  So if the bar hits you right at the pec line, then when you row, pull the bar or handle into that area.  This should make sense.  This is another reason why sloppy-ass fucking rows are a waste of time.  You need to be able to pull, and squeeze the rhomboids and learn what it feels like to contract that area as hard as possible.  Know the difference between moving weight, and making a muscle work.  You need to do both in your training.  Deadlifts are about moving weight.  Rowing should be about making your mid-back work.  

Bent laterals are also a good upperback/rear delt choice, as they will keep the shoulders healthy and balanced.  

Now as far as other pressing movements go, my personal favorite is just the good ol incline press.  I have found that my bench and incline seem to go up at the same time.  This could be for a million reasons, but I don't care why.  I just know it works for me.  So I program my incline with as much focus as my bench.  If the incline is up, the bench is up.  

As a raw guy, you also need to be aware of shoulder work.  Again, stop reading geared guys articles because they rarely talk about heavy overhead work, but every guy from the 70's and 80's that benched big, did heavy ass shoulder work.  So make sure you are doing some heavy shoulder work as well.  You can do this after bench or on a separate day.  But I will tell you that a lot of guys see big benefits from concentrating on getting their overhead work up.  I am just not one of them because my overhead strength has always been pretty good even if I don't train it.  I have found this to be common in guys who were naturally pretty solid overhead pressers.  Getting their overhead up didn't increase their bench much.

If your overhead strength sucks, generally you will see some movement on the bench, however.  I personally am ok with all kinds of overhead work, and since you won't be doing any overhead work at a powerlifting meet just build strength on it, don't demonstrate it.

Let me explain the difference.

Demonstrating strength is walking into the gym and hitting your heaviest single and that's it.

Building strength means doing some reps.  Triples, fives, eights, whatever.  If you're going to do singles, do them heavy and don't sit around all damn day between them.  This is lazy man training and is easy.  Getting stronger is not easy, it is hard and that's something people really need to come to terms with (minor rant for another article).

If it's overhead db work, try 5's and 8's and 10's.  If it's military or press behind the neck work, try 3's and 5's and 8's.  Pretty simple.  

I also want to throw in a shout out about elbow health and curls.  The biceps help stabilize the shoulder and elbow joint.  This seems somewhat important to me (sarcasm) so make sure and do curls.  Since I have really gotten after curls my elbows hurt very rarely now.  I have a couple of different things I like to do.  I like to do 1 day where I curl for 5 sets of 20 LIGHT.  And I mean like 65-75 pounds.  I don't rest long between sets.  Maybe a minute or less.  Then I have another day where I go heavier, but not under 8 reps, and do some rest/pause.  I go back and forth.  This has pretty much fixed the ache in my elbows.  Every once in a while they hurt slightly, but it's rare.  I'm pretty pain free in that regard.

In Part 3 I will talk about some of the routines I have used to boost my bench, and go over some other helpful pointers.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Training - Squats

Bodyweight - 232

Squats - no belt no wraps
135 x 10,5
225 x 5,5
315 x 4
405 x 3
455 x 2
500 x 1
515 x 3
455 x 8
405 x 10

Good Mornings -
225 x 5
275 x 8

Walking Lunges - 2x20 bodyweight

Notes - 80%er.  Not really worrying about what I am squatting right now.

Random Shit - How to set the mood.......

Mucho props to my friend Dan who sent me this.

Start all three at the same time and adjust volume accordingly.

It'd also to be beneficial to have a lady around with you to grasp the full experience.