Friday, May 18, 2012

Ode and origins

Yesterday my buddy Jim Wendler put up an article that I wrote a while back.  He texted me some time ago to ask me if he could use it for his site.  I said of course, no need to even ask.  But Jim cursed me, and said he'd always ask first.  I laughed.

I've had quite a few people ask me how I know Jim.  Well, here's the story.

It was over three years ago when I first sent Jim an e-mail.  Just basic training talk.  At that time, Jim's training was evolving into what everyone knows as 5/3/1 now.  The things he wrote at that time about training, resonated with me because it so closely echoed my own thoughts about what a training methodology should look like.  Grass roots/blue collar barbell lifting, focusing on basic movements, simple progression, and doing some hard conditioning.  Nothing new, and certainly nothing that other coaches and lifters haven't been doing for decades.  But you'd be hard pressed to find anyone talking about it then for the most part.  Especially at that time.

Grass roots barbell lifting had gotten buried under bands and chains and foam and all sorts of shit that never made sense to me.  All the strongest guys I knew of had gotten that way with a fucking barbell and dumbbells.  When did that go out of style?  Why was that not good enough anymore?  I was told "those guys could do anything and get fucking strong.  If you're not a genetic mutant, then you have to do other shit to get strong."

What the fuck?

If that were the case, then why did all of those guys CHOOSE to train that way?  They chose an inferior way of training?  Andy Bolton and Benni train like that.  So does Savickas.  So it's not like those guys don't know about other training methods, and yet they chose to train in a very basic fucking fashion.  You're telling me that if those guys all trained using these "advanced methods" they'd be even stronger?  Get the fuck outta here with that bottle of farts.  

People ignore simple training methods, because "there has to be a better way".  It's too simple.  I often think that most people that post on the internet that "train" (DYEL?) are more what I call, lifting intellectuals, than actual lifters.  They like to talk about training, and they like training methods that are fucking complex because, well, that gives them a lot of shit to talk about.

So this kind of shit, the kind that Jim was writing about, was too simple for them.  

Work harder?  
Add more weight to the bar?  
Do more reps?  
What are these things you speak of?  

There has to be a "better" way.  That's an inferior path.

Who the fuck said?

Why does there have to be a better way?  Because you aren't strong?  Someone is hiding something secret program from you?  Here's the real secret, no one is hiding anything.  And there isn't anything special about bands or chains or foam or special bars.  You can get as fucking strong and as developed as you're ever going to get with a very limited amount of equipment, and an unlimited amount of yearning to get better.

Fucking fact.  

But no one wants to really say that anymore.  At that time, Jim was the only guy I knew that was really writing that.  So I followed his log for a while. And we exchanged more training thoughts and ideas.  One day, I sent him an e-mail about this cougar I know, and how she had this guy that was always bothering her. I named that guy Max Cady after the character in Cape Fear.  Jim told me was jealous that he never thought of using that name for a woman stalker.  

From there our conversations took off, and we made a deal not to make a new e-mail.  Over the course of the next many months, Jim and I exchanged something to the tune of 700 replies in that one e-mail.  About lifting, life, music, porn, family, women, dogs, being a man, and about anything you can think of.  Things that I realized that my new book will be about.  What I named it.  Strength, life, legacy.  

I'd wake up in the morning and have some reply from Jim, and jesus tap dancing christ, he'd have sent me some picture that I won't describe here because some images you can't get out of your head.  And he'd fucking laugh about it.  He taunted me with a link for weeks to this video I wouldn't watch.  Finally I did.  I regretted it.  He still catches me now and again, as he did a few weeks ago when he asked me to look up Mr. Hands.  

I figured I'd use a shirtless pic of Jim, since someone  probably once said I was gay for him

I'm sure people would pay good money for those e-mails.  Aside from the horrific pictures he sent me, there was a shit ton of awesome training ideas and knowledge in our exchanges.  And I soon started blogging about my training ideas and philosophies.  I didn't care if anyone read it.  I did it because I had found that writing was a passion of mine, and it was something I could pour my creative energy into.  

I initially called my blog "functional-strength".  Because I hated that fucking phrase, and I wanted to redefine what that meant.  But I was just never happy with it.  So I eventually settled on lift-run-bang.  With "bang" being the variable.  It could mean anything.  Lift, run, football.  Lift, run, MMA.  Or....lift, run, bang.  Like banging some trim.  You get it.

So I wrote some articles that no one would read, but that was ok.  I liked having the outlet.  

Aynway, Jim read my shit and encouraged me to submit them to elitefts.  That was weird to me, because I had no background in writing, nor did I think anyone would want to read my shit.  But I did.  And the feedback was positive, so I continued.  And soon 5-12 people read my articles.    

My and Jim's ideas were so similar, I read in more than one place that "they seem to just rip each other off." in regards to the things we wrote about.  I laughed, and took that as a compliment.  Often times Jim would write something almost word for word on an article I would be working on.  And I'd have to scrap it because of that.  I always took it as a compliment anytime someone compared our work because I think Jim is a fantastic writer, and his article that he put up on t-nation sometime back, about overhead pressing is one of the best articles I've read about concerning lifting weights, in a long, long time.  

Jim and I also developed the what constitutes strong standards, and what we thought from a repping standpoint, that meant.  No bodyweight percentages, no formulas.  We didn't give a fuck about that shit. Weight on the fucking bar.  And how many reps can you do that with that shit.  Simple.  Just like our methodologies and ideas about training.

We also kept each other in check in our training.  One day Jim told me how much ass he had been kicking in his training.  How he'd been setting PR's at his lowest bodyweight in a long time, and how fucking awesome he felt overall from his conditioning.  

"I'm going to change some shit up." he told me.

"Fucking why?"

"Because I can make it better."  

"Sounds dumb.  But ok."  

Jim's a smart guy.........sometimes.  

I figured if he were making changes, he had a good reason for it.  However my train of thought has always been, when shit is going good, don't change a god damn thing.  Milk those times until the well is dry.  Then go back to the drawing board.  

A few weeks later he e-mailed me to tell me that he had fucked himself up.  I lit into him pretty good at that point.  Telling him "weeks ago, you told me you were hitting PR's and kicking ass.  And then you go and change shit like a dumbass.  Go back to fucking what you were doing.  Train twice a week, and limit what you're doing."  He listened, and then went a did a meet and went over 1750 raw.  Jim gave me credit for the nut punch that help get him back on track.  I was just glad I said something that helped him out.  Like I am with and try to do for anyone and everyone else.  

Lifer - 

Much like myself, when it comes to the iron, Jim is a lifer.  

Lifer - Someone who will/would continue to lift weights and train, even after the Armageddon has happened, and there would be no one around to see it.  

If we were the only two fuckheads left on the planet, we'd still lift weights.  Still run hills, and sprints, and talk about basic ways to get better.  

We're lifers because the lesson we learned, and that everyone has to learn if they really want to get better, is that you have to do this shit for you.  How many fucks do you think I give that someone is stronger than me?  Zero.  Zero fucks given.  

You know why?  Because there is someone stronger than everyone somewhere.  I have no control over that.  I only have control over my own shit, and what I can do about it.  So that's what I focus on.  That's what you should focus on.

The day you stop worrying about what other people are doing, and other people think about you in regards to training, is the day you take that a step towards getting better.  Because then you start making decisions to get better for YOU.  Not to please someone else, or find their approval.  You learn to stop asking permission, and know you don't need to ask for forgiveness.  Why?  Because it's your own god damn training.  Do what makes shit happen for you.  Grok that fucking motto, and you'll wake up one morning to the amazement that you're pretty fucking awesome, and you didn't need to give someone a rusty trombone in order to get that way.  You did shit like it needed to be done for you.

Embrace that attitude.  Embrace becoming a lifer.  When you're a lifer, you know the little victories add up.  5 pounds on the bar this week, and 5 in a month, and 5 more in 6 months just increased one of my big lifts by 15 pounds.  I didn't need to run some special Russian secret program in order to add that weight in a few weeks, only to realize you can't sustain those gains.  I did it slowly, methodically, and that way, they became cemented in the foundation of my strength.


My ode to Jim is that lift-run-bang never exists without the support and friendship he has given me over the years.  I could have never helped the people I have, if Jim hadn't given me a similar nut punch to write and get my ideas out, and take a few steps forward.  For most people, those first few steps are the hardest.  To have someone there to encourage you enough to take those steps, can be the single biggest factor in making something happen.

I think it's always important to acknowledge the people who make a positive difference in your life, and I wanted to do that with this post, acknowledging Jim and how much he helped me in getting my feet off the ground, so to speak.

Thanks, fucker.  



  1. Paul,

    Awesome stuff.

    I've been going back through your blog and I found something you said about two years ago regarding knee pain. You said that if your knee hurts, do sled pulls backwards. I've had severe tendonitis for about two years in my right knee that has started to really limit my squats. I've done all I can to heal it, to no avail.

    I'm hoping you could expound (possibly on the podcast) how doing the sled pulls backwards helps. Is just sprinting backwards something that would help? How does all this work? I believe you said something about most knee pain all going back to a problem with the VMO. I might've mis-read.

    Thanks for your help and all you do.

    1. It could be something else you have going on, like a strength imbalance in your hip, and then you lean more to the right, thus causing the overuse.

      You can add in the backwards sled pulls, but I'd do some 1 legged squats to see if your right leg is significantly stronger than your left. If it is, that's your issue.

      Also invest in a chopat brace for your patella. If tracking is an issue that will help as well.

  2. Gotta love a good brahmance, brah. jk jk. Good stuff man, solid ass post. Love the embracing the attitude of being a lifer, very inspirational. That's what it is about. No gimmicks, shortcuts or secret programs...just weight on the bar and hard ass work. I, like many people, wasted my damn time when I first started weight training reading damn muscle comic mags and getting advice from Ftards who didn't know shit. That was due to my lack of knowledge and experience and being young and dumb, haha.--not that I'm smart now, but good advice from people who do know their stuff and trial and error has steered me in the right direction. Oh well, guess everybody starts somewhere. Nothing has been satisfying and rewarding like barbell training and compound movements. More strentgh, more mass, better overall look, etc. Shit I plan on doing until I'm old as balls wearing depends for men, lol. Man, can't wait to delve into that book for some good reading.

  3. I had noticed similarities between your and Jim's approaches to fitness before. I never thought it was "ripping off" so much as it's just simple, common sense stuff that doesn't take rocket surgery to figure out.

    "If that were the case, then why did all of those guys CHOOSE to train that way? They chose an inferior way of training?"

    I think that's an important point that needs to be hammered home some more. And even if someone does have "good genetics", that doesn't change the basic rules of physiology.

    Also, I was surpised to see that photo of lean Jim. I mean, I knew he lost weight compared to his 1000 lb squat powerlifting days, but seeing Jim with abs blows my mind.

  4. What is the link to the video?

  5. I love the fact that Jim is one of the few guys (along with you and Jamie) that actually has a no nonsense, barebones and old school approach to things. Basic exercises and heavy weight for reps. That's all there is to it. Knock Ronnie all you want (and I'll be the first to say he looks ridiculous), but he's the poster boy of old school training and the results they can deliver. Same goes for all the greats from the 70s. No fancy HS machines, just barbells and DBs.

    Jim's Press article was great, one because it was well written, and two because it finally shed some positive light on the Press. That horseshit DeFranco was talking about the other day about Presses being bad for your shoulders made my blood boil, Jamie proved that wrong though.

    I think we're still the last of a dying breed though, Paul (and Jim, if he's reading). If it's not the machine or "training for aesthetics brah" crowd, it's the Westside-esque guys with their weak point bullshit and bands/chains/GHRs that are taking over lifting. Hell, I was talking with this powerlifter guy the other day (and I like the guy), but he's all caught up in the Westside methodology. "looks like you got a weak point in your clean & press bro, it's the lock out, you should do board or pin presses". Didn't have the heart to tell him that it was probably just my triceps that needed to get stronger and weak points in a movement don't exist (for raw guys anyway).

    Being a Lifer is great, regardless, even if we're eventually forced into home or warehouse style gyms.

  6. Hey Paul,
    What ever happened with the "Max Cady" stalker?

  7. Mirin shirtless Jim.

    (No homo.)

    (Maybe a little homo.)

  8. You know, that Mr. Hands guy died of internal bleeding after that movie was made.

  9. Great article, love the attitude over here

  10. can u include those emails to ur book

  11. This was fucking beautiful. I love you guys. YES homo. JK lol.

    I'm a little drunk, which may be somewhat bad for my recovery. But fuckit haven't drank in a long while. Plus its the end of my diet break so fuck you tryin to get my fatass down to 12-15%. GGoddamn dieting. Shit sucks.

    Seriously though looking forward to the book man. Uh...I guess I don't relaly have much other immportant content to say here.

    Gotta BANG some snootch!

  12. i was lol but i was also willing to pay more for them

  13. Damn nigga, you always have the most legit things to say. Upmost respect to you and everyone else out there hard wired with this mindset. Fuck the bullshit. Now let's go fuck some shit up.

  14. Outstanding post, big guy! Being lifters for life is what we're all about, and I couldn't ask for a better brotherhood. Of course, being a 170 lb midget, who relishes telling you bigger fucks how much stronger I am pound for pound, my definition of what consitutes strong differs from yours a tad...but that's how we terriers get by.


  15. To be honest, Paul, I always thought that "bang" meant "banging some trim." It wasn't until I read your blog in more detail that I realized it referred to practical applications of strength and conditioning, like for football or fighting. Of course, a roll in the hay with an energetic, athletic girl definitely meets the standard for a practical application of strength and conditioning.

    So I realized yesterday how much I rely on chalk and belt. I've been using them lately, but yesterday I didn't have access to them, and attempted to deadlift as usual without them. It didn't happen. A weight that had been a grinder for five the week before I only managed to do a really shitty double with before my hands went on strike. It sucked. Means I've got to man up and buy a belt, chalk, and wraps. It also means that I've got to work on grip, abs, and back. I don't feel comfortable being unable to lift close to my max without a belt and chalk. Maybe that's just how this works and there's no way around it, but it still pisses me off. It also means I need to eat more and do more conditioning.

    1. Without chalk I deadlift even shittier than I do now too. Don't sweat that one.

    2. Thanks. Out of curiosity, do you wear a belt when you deadlift heavy? I've seen you wear wrist-wraps for your presses, but I don't think I saw you wearing a belt when you were doing the 500 for reps.

    3. I haven't worn a belt in like 10+ years.

    4. Hmm. I'll have to experiment with it a bit and see how well I do without one, how much of a difference it makes and so on. Frankly, I find them a total pain in the ass. They're nice to have, but they're hard to get on right. The last two or three times I've used them for deadlifts, it felt like even when I got it on as tight as it would go, once I got down into position, it loosened up and I lost most of the benefit I would get from having it, and it just became a distraction. It seems like you have to get the belt on just exactly right, and if you don't then it won't give you any benefits at all. I figure at that rate, I'd rather just turn my abs and spinal erectors into cast iron. While that is hard work and will take some time to accomplish, it seems more appealing (and certainly more useful) than fucking about for a minute or two trying to get a stiff piece of leather around my waist before every work set.

  16. I was wondering how you got to know Jamie from Chaos & Pain. You and Jim have similar philosophies, so it makes sense that you two are friends IRL, but Jamie's training methods are way different from anyone else's. (Not that nobody can have friends that think differently from they do, but I was just curious about how that particular friendship started.)

    1. I just asked him if he wanted to host a link to my site, and I'd do the same for him. That was it. We started BS'ing after that.