Monday, June 18, 2012

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff

I've been dieting for two weeks now, down to 239.8 pounds in the morning from 252-253, and evening weight is now 243 down from 255.  So in two weeks that's a solid water and glycogen drop with some fat, however I've adjusted to the low cals and energy has returned a bit.  That usually happens to me the first week/week and a half into a diet.  Things will be readjusted after this week as well.  Since I am opening with a thought about the scale I want to address an interesting question that came in that I wanted to touch on a little more............

Paul, what would you recommend to an intermediate trainee that had a good strength base, was around 200-210lbs @ 15% body fat/5'10 height (natural) and was stuck at a road where they felt like if they cut some fat, they'd be too skinny, but if they gained, it may get messy? I find myself stuck at this point often despite recommendations to cut the fat back when you're around that 15% cutoff point.

For me, I start to get vascular and have some solid ab definition around 185lbs when cutting from that point. But I feel like a fucking swimmer/bean pole in a t-shirt. On the other hand, having a layer of goo canceling out any vascularity and having feint abs when flexed sucks. This weird weight/status as a natural lifter just makes me want to load up the syringe and go to another level where one can be lean and jacked in a t-shirt.

Input?

My input on this?  This is what 5'9" 185 pounds ripped looks like..........


That's pretty fucking jacked.

The one thing that continues to plague guys about how they look or feel about themselves is when they decide to strip off bodyfat, they begin to realize they don't have as much muscle as they thought they did.

The 230 or 240 guy is shocked when he's not just RIPPPPED at 210.  The one thing about the internet is that you get a look at every freak that is pretty much walking the face of the Earth.  The other 99% see this, and think that's within their grasp.  Then reality comes slamming down like a 16 pound sledge hammer when they realize after a few years of training, they aren't the living embodiment of Thor they thought they were.

Here's some harsh fucking reality.

If you're in the 5'9 to 5'11" range, you're probably not going to be 210+ ripped.  The very elite "natural" bodybuilders are generally within that range.  And those guys are the elite, truly genetically gifted, and probably using just a little sauce to boot.  Skip Lacour, through my own conversations with him, competed usually at 213 pounds or so, and Skip is TRULY a genetic freak, and I'm not 100% convinced he's lifetime natural.  But for sake of conversation, we will pretend he is.  He pretty much owned the natural bodybuilding circuit for years.  Do you have those kinds of genetic?  Doubtful.  Very fucking doubtful.

I was at a bodybuilding show a few weeks ago, and I saw LOTS of big FAT guys.  You know, the guys that don't have a single ounce of visible separation in their arms or shoulders.  None of which impressed me.  I was 280 at one point, and looked just like that.  The most impressive guy I saw on stage was a guy that was 5'8" 208 pounds.  And he looked beastly.  I'm sure after a good carb up, he'd be 220-222 or so, but you get the point.  And this was not a natural show.

Here's some more harsh reality.

No matter what some board guru tells you about bulking up to some gross degree, you cannot force feed muscle growth, nor will you exceed your muscular potential by doing that.  It's a waste of fucking time.  I know.  I've done it.  So this isn't me talking out of my ass about it.  I bulked to 280 for an extended period, and when I dieted back down, I actually ended up smaller because it took so long to get the weight off.  This is pretty much backed by every guy that has done this, from Dave Tate to Jim Wendler to Shelby Starnes to Alex Raymond.  Getting grossly obese through bulking does NOT take you to some new fucking level of big.  It just makes you fat.

Here's some even more harsh reality.

You're probably not going to sport 18 or 19" arms.  And when I say sport 19" arms, I mean, LEAN 19" arms.  Having 18" fatceps ain't shit.  I've seen eleventy billion pics of a guy holding a tape measure around a 18" fatcep that looks like an obese grandma arm.

Regardless of what you read on message boards, or some dumbass tells you, a 17" arm RIPPED, is fucking impressive looking.  It's also something you may never achieve if you don't have the genes for it.

Saw a lot of this shit at the BB'ing show


What it really all comes back to is that.  Your genes.  Like it or not, you are stuck with em.  And no amount of food or training can get you past that.  The only thing that will is darksidin.  That's it.  That's all.  And the other fact there, is that there are plenty of "look like nothing" guys that darkside too.  TRUST ME on this, I laugh a LOT, at guys who take a freak ton of shit, that don't even look like they fucking lift.

This is why I pound the point of training hard and being consistent over a long period of time, and learning lessons to get better.  With that knowledge, nothing else matters.

Now of course, there will be lots of vaginas hurt, lots of egos bruised, and lots of "men" who turn into little bitches about all of this, but that's reality.  You're not going to bench 600 either.  There.  I said that too.

Most of us are just regular dudes.  Some of us train harder than others, and are smarter than others.  Some of us are a little more blessed, and some a little less blessed, genetic wise.  Just because Joe Fatboy or Joe Muscleman down the street was able to do X, Y, or Z doesn't mean it's possible for you either.  This again, is part of being a LIFER.  You shouldn't be concerned about what they did, or are capable of because it has ZERO bearing on what you are capable of.  Stop propping up other people as examples of what is possible for you.  It has ZERO correlation.  Ronnie Coleman won a shit load of Mr. Olympias.  You aren't going to.  Andy Bolton and Benni deadlifted a grand.  You're not going to.  Andy pulled 600 the first time he ever walked into a gym.  It took him 20 years to add the next 400 pounds.  And lots of guys pull 800 at a young age, and never pull 900.  Lots of guys go pro in bodybuilding at a young age, and never win or even place top 5 in the Mr. O.  

This is not meant to brow beat or tell you how limited you are.  This is to get you to stop looking at genetic outliers and guys who use obscene amounts of gear in order to get to a certain level of physical prowess, and using them as the base for what is "acceptable" for you.  You should always try to get better, but you will have physical limitations, that will probably be very similar to the guy on the bench next to you at the gym.  We aren't special snowflakes for the most part.  If you happen to be an Eric Lilliebridge or what have you, that's awesome.  If you aren't, that's ok too.  Eric has come to me for training advice and pointers many times, even though Eric is obviously plenty stronger than I am (except on incline!).  One of the things that makes Eric great, is that he doesn't let his ego get in the way, and thus he keeps getting better.

Be strong, be in shape.

Eat quality food.  More of it if you are trying to gain, less of it if you are trying to lose.

Do conditioning.

Lift more this week in something than you did last week.  Try to repeat that the next week.

Let the chips fall where they may.

Happy Monday mother fuckers.





























61 comments:

  1. Happy monday also, motherfucker!

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  2. Excellent article and so painfully true. I get more compliments and the "hey you been workin out" at 200 pounds. When I'm 240 thinking Im huge with the double chin and fatcep,BTW first time hearing that word and can't wait to use it, I get didn't you used to workout. Inspiring as always Paul thanks.

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  3. The constant reinforcing of the "Average Joe" archetype makes me wonder whether YOU are OK with it. And I hope you are, you're a tremendous lifter with a wealth of information.

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    1. I'm definitely ok with it. I've posted many times, I used to not be. I see lots of other guys struggling with the same things I did for a very long time, and I can identify with how they feel. It's a mother fucker to slave and work in the gym and feel like you're doing everything right, and still feel like you don't measure up to the next guy.

      It wasn't until I let all of that shit go, and started only caring about what I can do, that all of that shit went away. So this is a life lesson I try to reinforce to guys who struggle with living in that "fun house".

      Now am I "OK" with where I at now? Fuck no. I want to get better everyday. I just don't compare myself to others, or worry about what other guys can do, look like, etc. It has no bearing on me or what I can or can't do.

      So there is a delineation between the two. Always strive to be the baddest mother fucker you can be, but how awesome someone else is, does not set the bar for you. People need to learn how to be happy with who they are. If they aren't, no amount of "success" will ever fill that void.

      I hope I'm articulating myself well enough on this point.

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  4. Great post Paul. I hurt my back yesterday trying to do something I shouldn't, right before vacation too. But I also hit a PR on my push press the day before (wearing one of your shirts I may add). Lesson - as you said, know who you are, don't try to be someone else, train hard and smart.

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  5. lol! fatceps, I've rolled around with some of my own.

    Getting lean is hard on the ego for most, myself included :P Dieting down to actual leaness is when most dudes realize how truly far from jacked they are. Most will blame something other than the fact they weren't jacked in the first place, and proceed to immediately revert to their perma bulk. It's worst then guys who blame the fact they're not jacked or can't make progress because they "came down with a cold and lost 30lbs" and could never get it back. The biggest misconception natural trainers have I find is overestimating how much they can do in the short term and how much progress you make in the long term. Get lean, spend years(not months) training, eating, and conditioning with some form of consistency and direction and you'll look like it.

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  6. Nice post, but there seems to be a big focus on how you (not "you" you) LOOK rather than what you DO. If you're 200-210 at 15% bodyfat, and don't want to "get fat" but don't want to diet and "be little," then where the fuck are you supposed to go?? This seems to be the perfect recipe for getting stuck in the "spin your wheels" zone. The result is you will probably be stuck at that weight forever b/c you are afraid to gain weight.

    I've always figured who cares what you look like, if you want abs, go get them, but if you want to be big, you're going to have to pack on some weight and work at it and you'll probably be sloppy in the meantime.

    Obviously you disagree, but I guess my question is this: how realistic is it to expect to get big as a house if you teaspoon out your calories because you're dreadfully afraid of "getting fat"? I see that as kind of the big dilemma.

    Signed,

    Guy who doesn't mind fatceps!

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    1. This is why I set the limit at around 15% bodyfat. Again, there are too many guys who are on board with this, that have lived it as well. After around 15% the body just gets really good at getting fat. And what's the point of that? I don't get it personally. Being 15% isn't exactly "lean", but it's not sloppy either.

      This was also evident in my lifting. When I am eating up (as in a nice calorie surplus), I generally lift every bit as well at 245-248 that I do at 260-265.

      If a guy uses that 15% barrier he can gain mass, hold it, and then he doesn't have to diet for a long period to get back down to see what he actually built. I was talking with a bodybuilding friend this morning who said "you don't know what bodyparts are weak until you diet back down so you can see. When you're all fat, everything looks big and bloated."

      I also like training for "go" to get my "show". If you have fatceps well, come run hills with me, or do sprints and see what they are good for. Being "fat" isn't being "big" to me. It's just fat.

      alistair overeem is "big". the 22" guns guy in the pic above is just fat.

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  7. I was in pretty much the same situation as a lot of these guys you talk about -- ~200 lbs, not quite fat, not quite lean, and unsure which way to proceed. I think this is one of those situations where setting quantifiable goals really helps. For me, I made a committment to get down to at least 12% bodyfat before even thinking of "bulking", no matter how much strength or "size" I lose during the process. Staying laser-focused on the goal and mentally blocking out everything else keeps you out of that deadly cycle where you get neither lean nor muscular.

    Re: Comparing yourself to other guys -- I always find that it's the guys who are just *slightly* bigger and stronger than me that incite the most jealousy. If I see some huge guy come in the gym and bench 200 lbs more than me, I can appreciate the achievement for what it is and think in the back of my mind "I'll get to that point someday". If I see some guy come in and bench 20 lbs more than me, I think "Damn, I'd be at that point if only I had worked a little bit harder!" But at the end of the day, what are you going to do about it? The only way to add 20 lbs or 200 lbs to your bench is to keep lifting hard with consistency and give it time -- the stuff I'd be doing anyway.

    One last thing -- I think Jamie is also ~180 lbs lean, and he looks fucking huge. With all the chatter on the Internet about how you have to be at least 200 lbs to look like you lift or whatever, it's easy to lose sight of how big and strong you can be at a lower weight class if you have your diet and training in order.

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    1. Jamie is 195 and cuts to 181 for his meets. He's also only like 5'6" so yeah, he's fucking big. It's all relative.

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  8. Great article.

    re darksidin: I watched a bunch of YT videos this weekend of guys taking a "cycle" of various pro-hormones and other shit (because my time has no value). They were almost all less than 30 yrs old, usually less than 25. One guy was 19! The one thing they all had in common - they were all about my size (5'9" 150lbs) and didn't have any lifts to write home about.

    You should take a look some time, they're totally mesmerizing, like watching a car filled with stupid wreck in slow motion.

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  9. Thanks for the wake-up call.

    Training question: what is your opinion on low bar squat vs. high bar squat? I had been doing the low bar squat, mainly because that's what is commonly prescribed, but lately I have been thinking that perhaps high bar would be better for a number of reasons. Several people have asserted it to be better as a developmental exercise, whereas low bar squats are better for moving a lot of weight in competition. Also, with high bar squats, I'd have the benefit of there being no confusion about depth; I'd simply drop down until I couldn't go anymore.

    Thoughts?

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    1. neither bar should present depth issues. Plenty of dudes, including myself, squat rock bottom low bar.

      It really comes back to how you are built and what is most comfortable for you. I can do both and generally do, with no issues.

      I do think that high bar places a bit more emphasis on quads where low back hits the adductors and hips more.

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    2. So basically what you and Jamie especially have been saying all along: quit worrying about the small shit and experiment.

      I say what I said about depth because it is hard for me personally to discern precisely where parallel is. That is a result of inexperience on my part, as I am still fairly new to this. My preference, generally, is to go deeper than is required, not lower.

      I'll stick to the basics. Find a bar position that works for me, try and keep myself relatively upright, don't turn it into a good morning, and go to rock bottom. I find that I like going way down better.

      It's very hard to remind myself that I should just sit back and enjoy the process, because I am an impatient son of a bitch. I keep getting it into my head that everything has to be perfect right now, because I don't want to waste any time. There's no margin in that kind of thinking for experimentation or making mistakes. There are a lot of interesting ideas and theories I have heard from you, Jamie, and other people that I would like to try out, yet I have held back from doing so because I don't want to progress in an inefficient manner. But efficiency, as has often been said, is overrated. Really, it's a fairly simple thing. Do something for three or six months, and see how you are doing. Make it something simple. Then at the end of it, reevaluate. If you've been burning out on strength training, build some mass for a while instead, and vice versa.

      This shit isn't complicated, but some treacherous part of me likes to make it so.

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    3. I don't think it's bad to want to be very good early on. If you're going to be in this for life, it's only going to make you better down the line. Being a great technician is never a bad thing.

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    4. Thanks. I meant "perfect" more in the sense of programming and how I go about structuring my training, rather than in terms of the technical aspects. Getting stronger is fun, obsessing over how you are going to get stronger is not. A little thought on that front is necessary, even enjoyable, but too much isn't particularly useful. Also I've been asking myself the eternal question of "size vs. strength" lately.

      You are right on the mark there though, being a great technician is never a bad thing if you want to be in it for life, like I do.

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  10. Paul,

    I totally agree with you. However, what´s you view on begginers and intermediate guys?
    I spun my wheels for a long time when starting because I was afraid of eating, even tho I was skinny. I only started to look better when I started to eat - added some serious weight, even tho some fat came along, I looked more jacked and better.
    I mean, most beginners and intermediate lifters won´t look ripped or jacked if they cut to lower BF, simply because they lack muscle mass. I just dont see the reason to cut if you have nothing to ´pop´. It´s very commom to see a lot of new guys weighing 140 pounds and worrying about macro cycling, IFing and shit. That saddens me...

    That said, what levels of strength or muscle development do you think one should obtain before following your approach? Which I totally agree with for `bigger` guys.

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    1. Really rank beginners will have a bit of a body recomp that happens early on, but not too long after they need to heed the same guidelines.

      Remember if you're going to be training for the rest of your life, get your shit in order early.

      But if you're 150 pounds, yeah, eat until you can't move. Most guys like that don't have to worry about bodyfat %'s for a while.

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  11. I was 241 at a meet in March (that was weigh in, probably 245 or so day of). I'm 226 in the mornings now. I have a feeling 10% for me is in the 180 ball park. If I'm lucky it's in the 185-190 ball park. But I've finally committed to getting lean after years of wavering.

    I've also come to grips with the fact I'll probably never be superhuman. I can barely bench 2 plates now. I'm 30. I can squat pretty well and can pull pretty decent.

    So step 1 is get lean. Get down to under 12% and use the 15% limit that you suggest. Step 2 is a 10 year plan. Total 1500 raw by the time I'm 40. Hell by the time I'm 45. That's 300 more lbs. It might not happen, but I'll come pretty damn close. On top of that, I want to put 250 overhead with a strict press.

    If I ever end up going the HRT route, I'll adjust accordingly, but even still I doubt a little extra test is making that goal a breeze.

    Long term, baby.

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    1. Exactly......big picture. Not here and now.

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  12. In re genetics, while it is true that you can't change your DNA, you can change gene expression. You can turn genes on or off by your diet and lifestyle.

    So someone that's a skinny-fat weakling due to his shitty diet and sedentary lifestyle is going to express much different genes than if he were to take on a good diet and lift heavy weights.

    It sounds obvious, but what's happening is the expression of different genes (although the DNA/genome has remained the same).

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  13. Paul,

    Any recs for guys that are genetic snowflakes in the height department? (I'm 5'6) I try to just set goals for strength ratios and let the mirror tell me where to go with my weight. If I listened to most generalizations about male weight, I would just kill myself because if you're not over 185, you're a lazy/skinny/wimpy piece of shit, and if I were 185, I would probably be so fat I would die of a heart attack at 42.

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    1. Height is irrelevant. Do all the same stuff I wrote above.


      Be strong, be in shape.

      Eat quality food. More of it if you are trying to gain, less of it if you are trying to lose.

      Do conditioning.

      Lift more this week in something than you did last week. Try to repeat that the next week.

      Let the chips fall where they may.

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  14. You're too right man. There are far too many people in this game to satisfy other people, instead of themselves. I couldn't give two-thirds of a fuck about what someone thinks about how I look, or what my total is. Sure I wanna look good, and I wanna outlift everyone at my gym, and win every meet I'm in. Sure I wanna total Elite in PL, but I grind it out every day, and even if I don't I'll be better for it. It all goes back to something my best friend (who was a complete genetic freak) in high school said "there ain't no bears in the world" (language, I know, he wasn't very smart) but his point was no matter how big/strong/fast/lean/muscular you get, there is always someone bigger/stronger/faster/leaner/more muscular.

    Oh, and since I've read your blog, I don't tell people I am a Powerlifter any more, I am a PowerLIFER...

    Keep it up.

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  15. Just say thank you!!
    I did my first cycle of strong-15 on bench press and increaded 22 lbs my 1RM. All the cycle the back-off set was 14 reps, whit 10 reps on the final week.
    Now I am starting the second cycle and I did 19 reps on my first week back off set!!
    I am doing the 85-93-100% rule and this works!! And I not a begginer, I already had a double bodyweigth bench!!
    Keep the good work man!!

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    1. That's what I'm talking about............

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  16. Paul,
    Awesome post and great timing, getting leaner myself too and then going for the slow quality gains.

    I have been wondering something though since I've read Big-15 and want to get below 10% and then built up, using 15% as limit. What are good ways to measure BF% in your opinion and what do you do if you can't get a good indication of your BF%?

    I've tried a few different methods and devices and all give me different readings, leaving me clueless as to which one I should trust the most. I know different methods are going to differ a bit and you should stick to one. I'm not talking about 1-2% difference however, but more like 5-6%. Got a few measurements at 9.7-10% range (caliper done myself, neck/waist measure tape, Tanita device Athletic mode) and a few at 15-16% range (Tanita device Standard mode, Omron device) ... All while I'd say I'm not as lean as 10% and not as "fat" as 16% (can see veins, lines and gf is talking about my finally visible abs).

    I think you can see that this can be a problem, if I'm 16ish I've still got ways to go and if the 10% is correct I'm almost there.. Not trying to b*** about the details, I don't care if I'm 9.7 or 10%, but 10% and 15% is quite a critical difference for setting goals and trying to go by feel and guessing doesn't really work that well without much experience I guess.. Any thoughts? Thanks.

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    1. Calipers, especially done yourself, are going to have the greatest amount of degree variation.

      The bodpods are good. As are the machines at the gym where you simply stand on it, and it sends the current through your hands and feet (not the shitty one you buy at the drug store, but the more expensive units). Use one of those just to get an idea.

      Since you are saying one reading is 10% and the other is 15-16% I'd say it safe to say you are in the 13% range or so, and going by what you and the GF are saying, that sounds about right.

      Basically get an accurate measurement. Then go home, and tape measure yourself, make a note of all of this along with some personal "identifiers" about how you feel, how your clothes fit, etc. I do this, so I can always look back on my conditioning log to get an idea of where I am, bodyfat % wise.

      Hope this makes sense.

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    2. Wow, you reply really fast, definitely makes sense.

      The Tanita device I was talking about is indeed one you stand on and I heard from the owner it was quite expensive. I actually talked to a bodybuilder who trains there (placed top 3 in the masters division at the nationals in my country) and he said that the Tanita measurement was about the same as the caliper measurements he got done (unfortunately no one in that particular gym can do good caliper measurements, he got it done somewhere else). So I guess it should be pretty good indeed. You have to choose Athletic mode or Standard mode though, which can give a difference of 5-6% as was the case for me. I guess taking an average of the 2 would be a good idea. 13% does sound about right indeed.

      I'll keep tracking it this way then and make notes as you suggested. No matter what my actual % is, at least I'm heading in the right direction. My waist dropped 2.7 inch, neck stayed the same and going by the Tanita device, I've lost about 3-4%. So I'll just keep going at it this way till I hit that 8-10%. Thanks for the pointers man.

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  17. LRB got a nice little shout-out today on an EFS article (listed along with 5/3/1, Starting Strength, etc.): http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/why-the-microwave-is-affecting-your-progress-needs-formatted/

    This has nothing to do with anything, but I thought it was cool. I was all "Holy crap, an LRB reference not on LRB". The fire rises.

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    1. Thanks for posting that. Appreciate it!

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  18. Amen to all that. Real life lifting wisdom like this is why I keep come back here - keeps my perspective right.

    I'm 42. When I was 21, I could do 2/3/4/5 plates in the main lifts raw. I got greedy seeing what some other guys did and paid the price - herniated disk, blown rotator cuffs, hot elbows, pinched nerve in the neck, the works. Now I'm older and wiser, after rehabbing all that shit I realize making it back to my old totals would be kick-ass, so that's what I'm working on. Being the best that I can be where I am, at my place in my life with my genes is where it's at. Set some long term goals, and some short term targets that will send you in that direction. But isn't that the key to life, when you really think about it?

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    1. It's all about that. Being a lifer isn't about being better everyday, and enjoying the journey. It doesn't all have to happen tomorrow. You train like you want it to, but if it doesn't, you keep going anyway.

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  19. True Paul. Agree with all you said. (especially the point on internet where you say "that you get a look at every freak that is pretty much walking the face of the Earth". LOL! so True! and We (the 99% folks) try foolishly to be Like those freaks!

    If there is one philosophy that i took away from most of your writings and which you reinforce time and again, It is this --> "We are unique in our own ways and we have to fight and find the path to our glory all by ourselves, Comparing with Other Motherfuckers, will only hurt and bleed our cunts more".

    ...One of the best advices i could get!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, please continue to do so.

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  20. I'll add another thing to this though, if you're training to get girls (which in itself is stupid as fuck but let's not go down that path), you might as well stick to the 10-12% range. Women barely notice the difference. Look at Gosling, dude's probably 12% and everybody goes crazy over his "abs".
    Really though, the guys that are in this for reasons other than their own don't last at all. Being a Lifer is where it's at.

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  21. So now I'm wondering what my lean weight should be... If I think about it logically, It goes something like this: I'm 262 right now at 20% fat. 20% of 262 is roughly 52 pounds. I'm guessing that this would be my 0% lean weight (which would make me dead). 10% BF would be 236 pounds. Does that make sense to you? My current weight loss goal 26 pounds. Sound about right to you?

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    1. Steve,

      On paper that's right, but it never seems to work out that way in real life.

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    2. Yes I'm guessing that for every pound of pure fat you lose some muscle has to go with it. But like you said a truly lean physique will look big and impressive, despite what the scale says.

      I say a picture of Jamie and he easily looks to be over 200lb....

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    3. Getting down to 10% from 20% isn't difficult, it's the wanting to be at or above a certain weight when you get there that requires tinkering.

      Weight loss doesn't occur linearly, and the curve it actually takes while weaving through different loss ratios depends on, oh yes, genetics and diet. So, knowing your body and running macros that are appropriate for YOU is key and why the bigger picture as Paul preaches it is king.

      Toying with calculations can be useful however in keeping expectations in line with reality. So, to do the math, for someone who's 262 @ 20% bf, dropping weight with a 50/50 fat/lean loss ratio means the 10% bf mark occurs right at about a 66 lb. loss. You'd end up 196 lbs and just a shade under 10%. While a 50/50 loss ratio is a no brainer to manage, it's also pretty shitty, and most people can hold on to more muscle than that by not being in a hurry, lifting heavy as fuck and keeping the protein jacked up, otherwise known as not a bad way to live in the first goddamned place.

      So, if you you knew better from experience how your body responded to diet and training and you instead managed a 66/33 ratio and only lost a pound of muscle for every two pounds of fat, ~10% bf ends up occurring at a higher bodyweight of 217, after you've lost only 45 lbs., 30 from fat and 15 from lean tissue. This time you get to be 21 lbs heavier and save 18 pounds of muscle. That's a huge fucking difference.

      This is the only thing calculations and projections are worth a shit for and it should make it pretty clear that most motherfuckers just need to get their diet in check and then keep it there. It also again vindicates Paul's philosophy of looking at the bigger picture, and anyone who ends up realizing they've finally gotten close to where they wanted to be will also invariably be able to look back and realize they got there by following Paul's and other people's common sense teachings all along anyway. Seriously, y'all, just listen to what Paul is saying.

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  22. If you train to get girls, you´ll never last long enough to actually have a decent physique.
    Chicks don´t give a fuck about your abs, howe much you squat or your total at the last meet. Girls just want a guy that´s decently in shape and not a fat slob.
    One of the best stuff I got from Paul: just train to be the baddest motherfucker you can be and let the chips fall where they may.

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  23. http://jasonferruggia.com/warning-do-this-and-you-will-get-fat/

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    1. HAH!!!! Right there in bold.......

      NEVER ever let your bodyfat get above 15%

      That article is spot on too.

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    2. Exactly.
      I really like Jason´s stuff, lots of good articles there.

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  24. Haha this one hit home with me. I just dieted from 189 down to 168, and with every 5 pound I lost I kept saying to myself "Aww yeahh just couple more pounds and i'll be ripped."
    And sitting here no where near ripped at 169, i'm just thinking to myself how funny it is that I thought I had more muscle then i did.
    But to me its been more of a great lesson than a bad experience. I feel more at easy knowing the reality of my situation and seeing how long of a jouney I have.

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    1. Don't fret it. I always get a bigger laugh at the 240+ guys who think they would be ripped at 210-230. Nevermind that Arnold competed at 235 pounds or so at 6'1".

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  25. Good post. The big guys who act like they can just diet down to awesomeness in a couple of months are ridiculous.

    However, I am not sure about the 15% cutoff. A real 15% is still pretty lean, relatively speaking. A real 10% is typically very lean. And a lot of people have talked to about how hard it is to be lean and strong. I am sure you would have to agree that you normally have to choose 1. Any guy that achieves both has generally had help from super supps (I won't due to legal and availability aspects).

    I honestly do not notice an overall performance dropoff (speed, vertical jump, etc) depending on where my body fat percentage is. In fact, if anything, I notice that I am faster and more powerful at a true 18% than I ever was at 10-11%. And my wilks are higher at the bigger BF percentages as well.

    Maybe I am outlier. I have never had lean guy genetics. But I simply perform better at a high bodyfat level, and I feel so much better as well (mental state, sex drive, etc). The only thing is that I don't look quite as good with my shirt off, which I am learning to be ok with.

    Do you think this is reasonable, or would you say I am either full of crap doing something wrong? I have had decent success at getting lean in the past, but just have quit because I am generally not the man I want to be when I am at that level.

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    1. It's hard to be contest lean and strong. It is not hard to be strong and be in the 10-15% range. Strength is not functional. It doesn't do anything but sit on you. It doesn't make you stronger. The calories make you stronger by loading glycogen stores and increasing ATP. There may be a distributed load effect with more fat on you, but I can make you weak a fuck in three days by drastically lowering your calories.

      And you can't be faster at 18% bodyfat than 10% bodyfat. There is a saying in track that "fat is not a friend of speed".

      More than likely what you "feel" is that when you are eating more, you feels stronger and faster. But you're def not faster.

      The key component here is that people lift and FEEL better with the surplus of calories.

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    2. You are probably right. It could also be that all of the box squats I have been doing have given me amazing gains in speed and strength, ya know :)

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    3. that's pretty much an impossibility.

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  26. I just wanna say I really like your blog its got a lot of useful information. I had a question on what I should do regarding losing body fat. I'm 201 5'11 at 23 percent body fat. My question is what's a reasonable amount of body fat to drop without having a huge drop off in strength. My focus is powerlifting so I am not to concerned with appearance but I want to drop body fat for health reasons because my cholesterol is a little high.

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    1. Stop worrying about powerlifting and worry about your health first. 17 people follow powerlifting. AGain, you can't powerlift from your grave. And if you're 201 @ 23% bodyfat you need to spend the next two years NOT powerlifting, and working on building your base.

      So my advice to you is to get into shape, then focus on building a solid, quality level of muscle mass. This will reward both your health and powerlifting in the long run.

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  27. That's pretty sounds advice. When you say get in shape do you mean completely stop lifting and focus strictly on conditioning; or do a mix of both?

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  28. Very nice post Paul. But I must say, I do have some minor problems with some of the things you said. I'm not getting sensitive by taking anything personally, or anything like that, but I would just say I have a different opinion on some of those matters. Every time I hear the word genetics in correlation with strength sports and bodybuilding I only think of a couple of things, height, muscle potential, and how fat is displaced on the body and/or how easily fat is gained or lossed on the body, but of those only coming to mind when thinking of bodybuilding.

    I don't want to sound like a generic motivational video, but I think it all comes down to heart and will. Genetics obviously play a part in it as well, but only when speaking of the extreme levels. I highly doubt we will ever see a 5'6 man competing in the WSM, but I also highly doubt that we'll ever see a Brian Shaw compete in gymnastics. But when speaking of average height men, I think it will all start at heart and will. To use myself as an example, I'm 6'0 and started Olympic lifting in January (you answered my question about squatting everyday), and not to sound egotistical I think I've made much more progress the the average lifter. Not because of genes, but because of heart and will. I hit a 365 back squat the other day for 3 and without a belt after doing a push/pull workout earlier that day. I've only been squatting since January, and for the first two months my former weightlifting coach was teaching me how not to squat with my knees going in, to keep my body straight going down, etc. Now I have a 365 for 3 PR beltless only knee sleeves backsquat, and a 309 for 3 with belt and with knee sleeves front squat, and a 285 without belt and with knee sleeves zercher squat, and a 198 pound for one overhead squat with only wrist wraps, all of those squats atg. I call that f**king progress. I got there not because I'm genetically built for strength, though the height will help in the future as I'm transitioning into Strongman, but will and heart. I wanted to do these and get better. I've talked to football players and general lifters about the front squat, and they were turned off immediately once they realized the wrist have to get flexible. Instead of lifting light and accepting the discomfort of the wrist getting used to keeping something in place on their shoulders, they choose to permanently remove that lift from their mind and never do them. They didn't have the will to keep on.

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  29. ........I think the same could be said about people in the gym who may have bodybuilding on their mind. Are they willing to give up certain foods that may hinder fat loss? Are they willing to be in bed every night at 10 to wake up at 6 (I think regular sleep schedules is a problem for all BB and strength athletes)? Are they willing skip out on drinking with his/her friends to be in the gym and avoid any unneeded calories/carbs? Hell, are they willing to bench 145 and curl 20 pound dumbbells properly to get full hypertrophy in their muscles instead of just being the guy in the gym that thinks everyone is looking at them because he's pushing heavy weight? These are things that make success.

    "Andy pulled 600 the first time he ever walked into a gym. It took him 20 years to add the next 400 pounds"

    That's another thing, with both strength athletes and bodybuilders, are they willing to look at it as a life change and journey? 600 pound deadlift to 1000+ deadlift in 20 years, is someone willing to even do general fitness for that long? These are things that start to lower the slate before genetics even starts playing a factor. And yes, I'll even bring up steroid use. Is one willing to take all the real risk of steroid usage to progress in their sport? Is one willing to work through an injury. Brian Shaw tore his bicep earlier this year and still plans on competing at the WSM in December, I talked to a friend who sprained his upper back/trap deadlifting and he refuses to go heavy anymore.

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  30. ................I'm sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I just think the genetic argument need to take a halt sooner or later. Not stop, just needs to be played down. I know you weren't stressing that, but there are plenty of guys who use their "short arms" as an excuse for not benching 450. Or their tall body for not being able to snatch 180kg. Or even worse, instead of shaming themselves, they attack other athletes. Yes, Pat Mendes was banned for HGH use, but his 207kg Snatch wasn't a buy product of GH. And that's not the reason why we don't do good in that sport either. I read something that with the Olympic lifts, once you're at the extreme level, that GH/AAS can raise your lift by about 5%, and when you cycle off many guys can keep only about 50% of that strength gain. So let's say it's true to number, that's 2.5%.

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  31. I just ran across this post and I don't completely agree ... The issue with your pic is that guy isn't 185lbs, he was 185lbs on the brink of death the day before almost completely dehydrated. That pic he is at least 200 probably more. I know guys that cut from 180 to 145 like it's nothing. And they put quite a bit of it back on by the time they step in the ring. I know I could be leaner than I am at 245 but in reality getting below 220 is just about not possible for me as long as I'm not cutting water. I'd rather be not quite so cut and stronger than a little better looking and stronger but I'm also not a bodybuilder..

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    1. You don't know guys that cut from 180 to 145 "like it's nothing". I know, I know fighters and see this shit first hand.

      Second, I won't budge on this. Almost everyone thinks they are leaner than they are. If you're 245 LEAN (I mean full abs), you might not can get to 220. But I doubt that's really the case. I've had plenty of guys write in that were 245-250+ that were shocked at how much fat they had to lose, to really get into good looking shape.

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