Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meet Prep - Week 1 - Squats

Bodyweight -246

1 legged squats - 4x10

Squats - no belt no wraps


Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls - 4 sets

Notes - When I got started, I felt like my blood sugar might have dropped a bit.  I was shaky and already felt gassed.  My awesome companion went and fetched me some gatorade and I waited a little bit for things to stabilize.

500 felt shaky.  Not heavy at all, like an empty bar.  But I think that blood sugar drop took a little bit out of me.  The first back off at 455 also did not feel "good".  So I taped the second set, to see what it looked like.  I didn't really notice a big difference in the two, to be honest, after I looked at it.

I know someone would ask what swiss ball leg curls are, so I went ahead and video taped it.  Fun/different little movement that is more difficult than you think.

Also, front squats are out.  I had planned on doing them however I went to do a set with 315 and I'm pretty sure now, that I tore my quad doing fronts.  Intense sharp pain exactly where it had been hurting for months. So those are out. I didn't reinjure it, but it didn't feel good.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Reps. Strength training pixie dust magical unicorns

I've gotten a couple of e-mails this week, along with talking to a couple of guys I know that are really fucking strong, I wanted to drive this point home a bit.

Singles - 

Singles are popular.  Hell they are in all of my templates too.  However, the difference being is that I've been very adamant about what BUILDS strength and mass in my templates.

The reps.  The back off sets.

Need mass?  Sets of 8-20

Need strength?  3's and 5's.  Some dubs thrown in from time to time are good too, but reppage is where that pot of gold in strength and mass lay.

Singles are popular because well, they are fun, and well, they are fucking easy.  Yes, they are easy.  For those of you who do heavy ass singles all the time, congrats.  They are still easier than a ball busting set of 15.

The problem with singles is that people often forget what they are really the most useful for.  Demonstrating strength.  Showing people how "strong you are".  The fact is, they are inferior to building the 1 rep max in relation to reps.  Reps being anything over 1 rep.

The strongest powerlifter that ever walked the planet is and always will be, Ed Coan.  Ed generally used a 10-12 week peaking cycle leading up to a meet.  The first few weeks were 8's, then many weeks of 5's, then some weeks of triples and a few weeks of doubles before he hit a single.

So let's back up.

Over the course of 10-12 weeks Ed had ONE WEEK, where he did a single.  One.  Uno.

Did reps....

Ed's buddy, Kirk Karwoski was the greatest squatter ever in my opinion.  He too ran a similar cycle.  From Purposeful Primitive Training, here was his cycle....

Weeks 1-2 work up to 1x8
Weeks 3-8 work up to 1x5
Weeks 9-10 work up to 1x3
Weeks 11-12 work up to 1x2

 Not a single week of a single.  'Mazin.  If singles were that god damn important, don't you think that Coan and Capt. Kirk would have been doing more of them?

If that doesn't suit your fancy, look at Sheiko.  There are more sets of 5 in that program than rock star dicks that have been in Pam Anderson.

I could paste routines all day and night, but I don't need to beat a dead horse.

Maxing out with singles does not build strength.  If it did, all you'd have to do is pick a meet and do one every week.  Guys don't do that because they know that shit doesn't work.

Back off sets and reps - 

I've told guys this over and over again, the singles in both the strong-15, and big-15 are PRIMERS.  The stuff that BUILDS the lift are the back off sets.  It's still imperative to pick your weights properly for the singles.  However the building blocks of the program, are the reps, and back off sets.  This is where the STRENGTH for the singles are built.

It's actually more important to worry about what you are doing with your back off sets, than what you are doing with the singles, however.

One guy e-mailed me this week to let me know that he ran the strong-15 and hit a PR on the squat and overhead, but the PR's were small.  He admitted he knew why.  He programmed way too high.  Every guy that has programmed smart, and conservatively in my programs, has had big meet days.  What I have found for the guys who don't hit big new numbers, is that they are generally non-competitors who don't know how to leave their ego at the gym door, and train smart.  They want to "impress" people at the gym.  This drives me insane.

Does reps and back off sets

You are in the gym to get stronger.  Not demonstrate to everyone how strong you are.  Train the lift, and build your demonstrable strength with reps.  When you follow the strong-15 or big-15 routines, it's ok to even add volume on the back off sets if you feel that it's needed.  The sets and reps I have for it are conservative because it's the minimum requires, and most guys add on a shit ton of assistance afterwards rather than being smart and picking 1 or 2 quality movements to follow up with.

However, if you're feeling awesome, and you do the 2 or 3 back off sets listed, it's better to continue on with the back off sets for another 2 or 3 sets, and knock off the assistance for the day.  You're there to build the lift right?  Take advantage of a +10% day by doing more volume in the back off work.  Not setting PR's in your assistance bullshit.

Program as low as possible -

One of the things that you should be asking yourself when you do your programming is this.

"How low can I program in my training, and still hit my goal?"

The older I get, and the more shit I read from the "old timers" the more I realize they were giving me so much gold in terms of training economy, that I never really understood.

Coan talked about hitting his deadlift opener for a double in his training in the last week of his training cycle.  He trained for his opener.  Think about that.

Most guys program way too damn high.  Again, it's about ego and setting unrealistic goals.  For every guy that I've had write in to me that went 9 for 9 with 5 new PR's, I've had 5 write in to tell me that he didn't get through phase 2 because he missed some lifts.  They are always gym lifters, and they always have unrealistic expectations.

Phase 1 is nothing more than an acclimation phase.  Light and easy stuff on the big movements, high volume work on the support/assistance movements.  This should get pared down in phase 2, and even more in phase 3 (which I will outline more in LRB/365).

Remember, there is an ebb and flow to main work vs support work.  The lighter the workload in the main work is, the more support work you can do.  Once the intensity starts to creep up in the main lifts, the support work needs to take a backseat.

Lots of guys write out a routine and do something like this...

Squats - strong-15
Pause Squats - strong-15
Good Mornings - 5x10
Leg Curls - 5x20
Lunges - 5x20

In phase 1, they feel great.  Phase 2 comes around and near the end, they start feeling more crispy.  Why?  Because they are pushing more weight now on the big movements, and still trying to add weight on all of the assistance stuff, with the same amount of volume.

Phase 3 comes around and they miss a lift or are just ground into dust.  It's because they didn't scale down the support work accordingly.  If you're doing 15 sets of support work in week 1, you should not be doing 15 sets of support work in week 9, unless you decided to stay with pretty much the same loads for those lifts.  If you are pushing the weight on the support work, phase 2 should look more like this....

Squats - strong-15
Pause Squats - strong-15
Good Mornings - 3x10
Leg Curls - 3x20
Lunges - 3x20

Phase three might look something like this.........

Squats - strong-15
Pause Squats - strong-15
Good Mornings - 1x8
Leg Curls - 3x10
Lunges - 2x25

Notice the play in volume?  1 set of 8 on the GM's rather than 3x10.  3x10 on leg curls rather than 3x20, and 2x25 on the lunges, rather than 3x20.

You should be accommodating the increase in intensity on the main movements, by decreasing the work load on the shit afterwards.  If you're programming as low as possible to still hit your goal, managing the support work should feel easier.

So how low should you program?  That's something you will have to figure out with the way you respond.  However, I've seen this over and over again.  If you can CRUSH 90% of your goal, the goal is there.  88% more than likely too.  If you just have to have complete assurance the goal is there, crushing 93% of it, is money in the bank.  The only issue with that is, most guys program for an unrealistic goal, so that 93% is usually more like 98% of what they are capable of, and then they start missing lifts and getting beat up.

When in doubt, program lower, and do more back off sets.  This will always serve you better than doing heavier and heavier singles.

Do some reps and get big and strong.  You're welcome for that unbelievable knowledge bomb.

Thanks Pegg

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Totally flaking out on my training plan....sort of

So I do this from time to time.  Especially during meet prep.

I'm actually going to use (drum roll) the split I have been using.  The solid rotational split.  I have had much thinking the last couple of days, and I am just not wanting to push the squat really heavy right now since my quad is just feeling better, and I don't want a set back.  So I can't train with the kind of weight I usually do.  I will squat twice a week, with more volume than usual to make up for the lack of weight.

I still need more upperback work as well, and this is taken care of.  I also like the idea of keeping my pause squats on deadlift day only, as a warm up.  The difference is, I will be training 4 days a week, much like I did in prep for the USPF nationals.

Basically it will look like this...........

Day 1
front squats - as part of the warm up
squats - 5,4,3,2,1,1,1
upperback work - pendlay rows - 5x5 to top set
1 legged work - 100 reps

Day 2
press - Bench or Incline - 5,4,3,2,1,1,1/2x5, 1xamap
curls - 1x100
front raises - 1x100

Day 3
high bar pause squats 3x3 - this weight may be static.
deads - 5,4,3,2,1,1,1
small deficit deads - 2x3

Day 4
press - Db overhead or PBN - 2x20/2x10
rows - 5x20
rear delt machine - 4x25

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chaos and Bang Your Earballs - It's just one of those days edition

Training details for the upcoming UPA meet

I've had a few people ask me how I am going to structure my training for the UPA Meet in detail.  So I thought I'd break that down.

I will be using the strong-15 short cycle with 1 extra week for acclimation because of me taking this week off, and the wisdom toofus surgery.

Saturdays - Squats and Deads
Squats - cycle
Pause Squat - cycle
Deadlifts - cycle
Elevated Stiff Legs - cycling, weeks 1 and 2, 455xreps, weeks 3 and 4, 475xreps, week 5 and 6, 500xreps
1 Legged Work - 50-100 reps

Notes - Pretty straight forward here.  For the deads, I plan on running up to 655 for a single.  I will then hit my meat and potatoes, elevated stiff legs.  I'd like to hit 500x10-12 in week 6 if possible.

Squatting wise, I plan on hitting 615 or so in the final week, no belt-no wraps, and then 2x3 in the pause squat with 525.  If that goes well, 660 should be in the bag.  I will do my best to get the 1 legged work in but I can't make a promise it will happen each week.    

Tuesdays - Upperback and Abs
Chins/Pulldowns - alternate week to week - 3 sets
Cable Rows/Barbell Rows - alternate week to week - 3 sets
Shrugs - 2x50
Ab Wheel or Sit Ups - 3 sets

Notes - Nothing special to write home about here.  Just going to do 2 warm ups, and a top set of 10-15 on the chins/pulldowns/rows.  I may do even more than is written down here.  My entire back needs to get bigger and stronger.

Thursdays - Bench and Assistance
Bench one week, Incline the Next - cycle
After bench I will still incline, but light for 2 high reps set.  On the other weeks, I will incline for 2x5, then 1xAMAP.
After Inclines I will do dumbbell bench for 2-3 sets of 12-15
I will follow all of this up with curlsx100, then do front raises x100 one week, and face pullsx100 the next.  I may also get some high rep tricep work in there.

Notes - Going back to my bench one week, incline the next setup.  My pec minor is a little achy right now so I am not going to push it and try to bench each week.  I will bench 3 times before the meet.  Week 1 will be up to 365.  Week 3 will be up to 405.  Week 5 will be up to 430.  The plan at the meet is to go 450-460 close grip.  During the down week I will do a couple of sets of 5 with 275.  If I crush 430, I should be good for 450-460.

For incline I'd like to hit a couple of sets of 5 with 365 on the off bench weeks by the end of the cycle, and a couple of sets of 15 with the 140 pound bells on the flat db bench.  I'm keeping the Poundstone curls and plate raises in.  On alternating weeks I will do face pulls instead of front raises.

All in all I'd like to go 660 - 460 - 700 at 242.  Giving me 1820 beltless.  My training cycle is setup to CRUSH those weights in training, not strain against them.  If I can crush all of those weights in training, then I should have an excellent meet and hit my numbers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Lifer Series Part 10 - I will protect my domain, and those I keep in it

Years ago, Under Armour had this commercial where this jacked up football player was running around yelling about how they "must protect this house".

I'm sure that resonated with the young athletic male population, and helped UA sell a lot of their fancy shirts. There actually is a nice metaphoric parallel with life that statement can be applied to.  

In this installment, I am going to write about that.  Not about shiny shirts or Under Armour.  About protecting those you keep in your life.  

I will protect my domain and those I keep in it.  

This will be one of the most personal posts I've written.  

The latter part of my youth was spent trying to save a family member from self destruction.  My sister was an addict, and like most addicts, she was not only self destructive, but destructive to those around around her as well.  I won't go into all of the things I did to try and save her from such a life.  Most people wouldn't believe it anyway.  It really is the kind of shit you see in movies, and I refuse to glamorizing myself as some hero in this.  There was nothing that felt heroic about the things I did.  Saving her from beatings and possibly death on many occasions felt more like an incredible burden.  Riding around without sleep for days on end trying to find what abandoned house she might be holed up in never felt "heroic".  Taking care of my niece, whom I raised for many years, and is still like one of my daughters to this day, didn't feel heroic.  It felt like my responsibility.

Seen a few of these

Eventually, I learned what I wrote about in another lifer installment.  I had to cut off the leech that my sister had become.  I had a wife, a daughter of my own, and I needed to put my energy into that, and not trying to save her anymore.  I had already spent enough time and energy trying to do that.  How was I going to be a great father to my own daughter, if all of my emotional energy was being spent worrying about saving my sister?  I couldn't.  I had to let it go.  

I do not regret that part of my youth was spent that way.  I could have had a "normal" teenage life, and done all the shit every other teenage male did.  Gone to school dances (ok so I did go to prom once), have super dramatic teenage girlfriends, obsessed over drinking goat piss, aka beer, but I didn't.  I did have some moments of reprieve.  I played music for years, and I had a couple of really great friends during that time that I loved very much that were very supportive.  However the majority of that time in my life, was spent trying to save my sister from the people that wanted to hurt or kill her, and to protect my niece.  However, it was mainly spent trying to save her from herself.  

Rewind just a few years before all of this, and I found myself mourning the death of two of my dearest and best friends, and my parents divorcing.    

I refuse to say I had a bad childhood or misspent youth.  I learned so much in those years about being a man and what matters in life.  More than most "men" ever learn.

I learned about all of the things that I felt was important.  How quickly things could be taken away.  Why you should cherish your loved ones and friendship.  

I learned how to tell my friends I love em.  I learned how much I wanted to be a father, and how much a great girl meant to me.  I watched my parents eventually reconcile and remarry (and have been together ever since), and how it was ok to say "my bad, I was wrong.  Forgive me."  

I saw a lot of things that helped prepare me for life.  A few years later, a good friend in the military would tell me a phrase that has stuck with me, and become part of my life's philosophy....only spend time with the people who are going to cry at your funeral.

The people that really matter

Protecting those in your domain encompasses many things.  It can mean supporting a good friend when things are going well for them, or giving them a bit of tough love when they are screwing up.  I wrote about enablers, so make sure you aren't one.

If you have kids, it's about putting them as a priority in your life.  Everyday that you wake up, your thoughts should be on how to be a better father or mother today.  That has nothing to do with spoiling your kids either, or being their best friend.  Quite the opposite.  It has to do with preparing them for the world that is snarling outside the door.  Giving them the best chance to succeed, and giving them a role model that they can look to in any situation.  They aren't always going to be happy with you  laying down the hammer, but they will appreciate it later, when they understand the reasons you did so.

If you have a significant other, it's about always making them feel appreciated.  Most often in life, we say the worst shit to the people we care about the most.  Generally it's because the things they do to us matters more than the casual stranger.  Yet during those times where we are at odds with them, we show them less love when that's generally the time they need it the most.  This can be an incredibly difficult thing to do when you feel wounded by them in some way, however it's far better to do that than have to apologize later for words spoken in anger.  People say "they are just words", but that's really undermining the significance of life.  If it's just words then telling someone "I love you" has no more merit than telling them "I wish I had never met you" as well.  You can't pick and choose what words matter, when the other person ends up the recipient of the words you speak.

A king, an alpha, a man isn't ruled or overwhelmed by his emotions.  He knows it's his choice in how he feels about a situation, and he decides appropriately.  How can someone protect their domain when they allow their emotions to take over and allow them to do and say things they don't mean, or later regret?  A protector is smart and vigilant, in control at all times.  They don't flail about because of perceived slights, or make rash decisions based on insignificant threats.

The protector also does just that too, however.  To borrow my own quote from Strength, Life, Legacy...a protector becomes a destroyer of worlds against anyone who dare threaten his family.  If you don't know how to do this, I suggest you learn.  If you don't want to learn, I suggest you man the fuck up and figure out how not to be a pussy.  Being able to protect your loved ones is a basic skill every man should know.  No different than changing a tire or screwing in a light bulb.  Are you a man, or a hipster?

Is not wearing Cardigan

Protecting the people you keep in your circle is really about doing what is best for them, so that they know you respect, love, and appreciate them and what they mean in your life.  A friend once told me "if you needed me, no matter what it was, I'd show up with a shovel and a bag of lime if that's what it took."  That's respect, and that's what friends and family do for each other.  You respect and protect the domain you keep each other in.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Great MMA Depression of 2012

MMA Blurb

Depending on who you talk to, it's either Dana White, Greg Jackson, or Jon Jones's fault that UFC 151 will never have happened. Some might even say its Dan Henderson's fault. All the different variables, from injuries to who said what, make my head hurt. I feel sorry for Dana White in moments like this,  then I remember how rich he is, and remember that it's all his fault.

You going to blame Jon? He found out, like everyone else, 8 days before the event. That's maybe 3 days of training, but the rest is, If it's Jon's fault, then remove the part of the contract that affords him this right. Contract the fighters to a fight on a date, and that's it. Anything else is just an excuse to use when times get tough or they don't like their new opponent.

You going to blame Dana? Yes and No. He mentioned being slightly mad at Henderson for not telling him right away. He found out and did what he always does and tried to save the event. Its not like he didn't try. Oh God did he try. Chael vs Jones would have been epic, if it weren't for the stigma attached to Chael fighting Jones right after losing to Anderson Silva. I can understand animosity towards Sonnen getting back to back title shots in different weight classes, especially after lip service, but times are hard. Apparently the show doesn't have to go on either.

You gonna blame Greg? For what? He's in the fight winning business. If his fighter is not contractually obligated to put himself at a disadvantage, Greg is sure as hell not going to put them there. Dana calls him "A sport killer", but his techniques and coaching are proven. Chael is a formidable opponent at either weight, and deserves study. Not to mention the obvious: A Henderson training camp is different than a Sonnen training camp.

Maybe, just maybe, if the fight determinations were not arbitrary, if there was structure, then maybe this shit wouldn't have gone down like it did. If I had to blame someone, I'd blame Dana White, because it's his job, his whims determine fights, and he makes the most money. Sure I was disappointed by the unprecedented cancellation. Yes, I was irritated by the great champ willfully saying no to a fight, but that's his prerogative that he has been afforded contractually. The buck stops up top, with Dana and crew, and the responsibility of the events are ultimately his and managements to manage. Injuries are off the charts right now, and perhaps some of the more compromised cards of the past, should have been cancelled as well.

If he puts a tournament style structure to fights and adds a super fight class, he can have the structure desperately needed, and still have a class of fighter where the fights can be arbitrarily made. Super Class contenders must meet one of the following and be in fight shape:

1. Former champion
2. More than X amount of wins.
3. More than X amount of fight awards.
4. Hall of Fame member.

This would give him a class of fighters to make super fights from and matchups to save events (Jones vs Bonner), while the rest of the weight classes could adopt a structure like Bellator.

UFC 152 Picks

Dunham vs Grant
Hamill vs Hollett
Stann vs Bisbing
Benavidez vs Johnson
Jones vs Belfort


Don Frye stars in BADASS BROCK

Anderson trains with Amazon tribe.

Cerrone wants Pettis.

Olympic history of Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling.

I hate it when ESPN tries to cover MMA.

Throw back fight: Chael vs Forrest

Couture would come out of retirement for one fight.


Defusing the H-Bomb.

Explosion after Dana White asks for feedback on Fedor vs Brock

The Guide to MMA Officiating

Jones to Dana "Tell him to stop."

The path for Weidman

Jones was gonna pay all those fighters but...see...what had happened was....

Dana White's best F bombs

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Training and Rehab Video

Training -

Close Grips - nothing to write home about

I'm tired as hell from last nights session (CNS burnout totally in effect!), but I've gotten a lot of questions about these two movements so I decided to do a video.

I totally ripped off the Hodge twins in the opening..........

Weekly Q&A

Non-Podcast Q&A.  Please read again because I put that up a lot and still get questions for the podcast.  We already have the podcast lined out for this weekend.  So this is NOT the podcast Q&A......


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Training - Squats and Tugs with an inconspicuous PR on a fried CNS

Pause Squats -

High Bar -

Low Bar Pause Squats -

4" Block Deadlifts -

Lunges - 4x30

Notes - Just missed what would have been a big PR on the block deads.  So I dropped back down and did some more doubles at 585, then pulled 655 from there.  I realized later, 655 is PR from the blocks (650x1.5 previously).

I hate the deadlift so much.  Everything about it has felt shitty for weeks, then I just miss 675 from the blocks out of nowhere.  Oh well.

This is my last session before I take next week mostly off.  Then next Saturday, meet training begins.

BTW, the "fried CNS" title is sarcasm.  I don't believe in such broscience nonsense.  You know why?

I squatted last night, and shit was so awful I didn't even log it.  405 felt like a bazillion pounds, so I cut it off after 3 sets.

Tonight I went in and smoked 500 for 3 singles in the pause squat, then just missed what would have been a 25 pound PR on block pulls, and pulled a 5 pound PR.

CNS burnout.....broscience horseshit.

Addendum to yesterdays post about high rep work.....

I received this e-mail this morning.........

So I've been following a lot of your writings recently regarding some high rep work, not to mention your book which has tons of great info in there. Anyway, a quick anecdote: my shoulders had been hurting a lot after overhead pressing. Kind of a tendonitis hurt rather than muscle pain or nerve bullshit or whatever. So one day, after pressing I picked up a pair of ten pound dumbbells and busted out a set of like 40 reps and I'll be damned if the pain almost instantly completely stopped. So for the next several weeks I've been busting out high rep sets for any joints that hurt and it fucking works! No more shaky arms (not in the good way, anyway) after training. If left to my own devices, I probably would have fucked around for months just hurting myself worse and worse. So thanks a lot man, if it wasn't for some of your random dropping of knowledge I'd still be hurting.


So if you have been having some particular joint or muscular pain for certain areas, chronically, find an easy movement that you can do to get the ultra high reps in for it.  The key here is to stay LIGHT.  You are not using these sets for progressive overload.  You are using them to flush insane amounts of blood through the tissue for healing, prehab, and hypertrophy.  The mental toughness required to keep going also isn't exactly a bad thing to teach you.  

While I am a firm believer in progressive overload on the big stuff, the small stuff can be used quite effectively with light reps and high rep sets.  Use your big movements for what they are intended for.  Moving weight through space.  Everything else should be about making the muscles work.  The lighter you go from a loading progression on those movements, the more apt you are to make the muscles work rather than move the weight.  This means you will utilize the movements far more effectively for the muscles intended.  

This is smart training.  

Don't be a dumbass.    


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More on Poundstone curls, the origin of my high rep work, and shit you will never do

I've obviously been touting high rep curls for a while now.  I've seen all sorts of comments from "what's the purpose of this?" to "this is silly and ineffective".

My thinking about these kinds of comments is that they probably come from people who think singles, doubles, and triples are where time under the bar begins, and ends and everything else is "cardio".  Their mind doesn't venture too far outside of that range, or into any sort of paradigm where high reps and ultra high reps provide benefits.  

Wait, wait.....let's back up over a year, however.  

More than a year ago I started playing with higher rep sets because it just kind of dawned on me, that beating yourself up with support or assistance work with really heavy weight seemed, well, fucking stupid.  That the whole purpose of support work was just that.

To create more support for the big lifts.  

Some people might say "duh" to that, but those same people also worry like crazy over assistance work and believe assistance work has magical powers from a powerlifting wizard or leprechaun.  If they could only get the magical list of assistance work, they too would be an elite powerlifter!


The one thing I know from over two decades of this shit is this.  Lifting is specific.  If you want to be spectacular at a lift, you better marry yourself to that lift.  At least for a while.  Especially if you are not good at it.  Konstantinov's deadlifts twice a week, and usually does 3 or 4 types of deadlift over those workouts.  Guys that are really great squatters, generally just squat a lot.  If you want to get good at pressing, you need to do that press a lot.  

Unless you are born with special leverages or are some natural phenom, at some point you are going to have to commit yourself to learning and perfecting a lift to really be boss at it.  Once the technical aspects are down, it's really a matter of judging your recovery ability in regards to the stress you apply both muscularly, and systematically.  In other words, progressive overload that finds balance between creating adaption (getting stronger) and not causing you to feel like a gang of prison guards beat you with hammers.  

For example, if you go in and do a shit ton of volume on squats or pulls, and really blast yourself into oblivion, then you can't expect to train like again two or three days later.  You will have to pay the piper from a recovery standpoint first.  I don't care what any of the high volume/high frequency guys tell you.  You will eventually have to regulate your intensity if you want to train more high volume and frequency.  

So if you want to spend a lot of time with the big stuff, you will need to dial back the small stuff.  It's the ebb and flow of training.

This is where my adventures into the higher rep stuff came from.  

A few years ago, I came to the same conclusion my friend Jim Wendler came to about good mornings.  Terrible movement if done heavy.  Completely worthless.  I had previously worked up to 455 for reps, in hopes that it would magically make my deadlift go up.


I did find however, when I backed way off on the weight and concentrated on getting the most out of the movement, that 225 offered far more benefits than 450+.  I could feel what muscles were supposed to be working, and that is what your support and assistance work is really supposed to be doing.  I've never seen a single powerlifting event where the good morning was part of the big 3.  Yes, I know some people squat in a good morning style, but the fact is, it's still support work.  It's supposed to be used to make the musculature involved in the main lift stronger.  You shouldn't be training to get good at good mornings, you should be using good mornings to make the muscles involved in the deadlift and squat, bigger and stronger.  Before someone throws out another obvious "duh", some people still do not get this.

Your support or assistance work, is BODYBUILDING.  What do bodybuilders do?  They make the muscles work.  At least, that's what smart ones do.  No one cares how much you squat or shrug or curl on a bodybuilding stage, yet bodybuilders carry far more mass than powerlifters.  It's because the training methods for strength and size are not the same.  From an anecdotal standpoint, we know this.  You're not going to gain mass on a diet of singles and triples like you will on sets of 8-20+.  I don't care what some buck-70 guy with some letters after his name tells you.  Before you say "drugs"....please.  I know powerlifters that are taking every bit as much shit as pro bodybuilders.    

A few years ago, after my second bicep tear, I started rehabbing and basically could do some manual side laterals, curls, and tricep work for my upperbody.  Since everything was super light, I just did a shit ton of reps.  As many as I could tolerate.  What happened?  My arms blew up.  Quite significantly.  

Unfortunately, I am boneheaded sometimes and completely ignored this phenomenon.  I mean, how effective could 10 pound db curls and 30 pound overhead tricep extensions really be?  I went right back into what I used to do.  Heavy, heavy.....and oh yeah, heavy.

My arms shrunk.  

I now await on the internet mental masturbation crew to show and talk about different forms of hypertrophy. If you guys spent as much time training your nuts off as you do arguing about these details and nuances, you would have already blown past all of those pesky plateaus you bitch about.

It doesn't matter WHAT kind of anything it is.  Here is what it is......productive.  Stop looking a gift training idea in the mouth and just get on with it.

Now back to that year ago......

I started doing maintenance level work with my big lifts, and started doing a shit ton of reps for the stuff after.  This is what eventually evolved into the LRB and here.

This idea was really solidified when I talked to 900+ deadlifter and pro strongman, Vince Urbank about it.  Vince told me he throws a plate on each side of the bar (135) and does 4-5 sets of 20+ for his barbell rows, sets of 30+ on leg curls, etc.  All of his support work was done with the purpose of creating more muscle and forcing as much blood through the musculature as possible, and to stay heavy only on the big stuff.  All of this resonated with the direction my training had been going anyway.  But it's always nice to get affirmation from someone else who is advanced.

Everyone that has run the LRB split, has been amazed at how their lifts have jumped, and how much stronger and better conditioned they felt.  Less joint pain, stronger at lower bodyweights, everything.  It's a demanding split, but it works, and works well.  It will be a part of the LRB/365 manual, and will be what I use after the meet in November.

Let me state here and now, there is nothing miraculous that is going to happen because you do one set of high reps or ultra high reps.  I don't expect anyone to do a single set of curls and wake up with Jay Cutler arms, or even arms like mine.  This is not how lifting works.  If you beat me on curls, doesn't really mean a god damn thing.  It's like saying that you tried so-n-so's bench routine and your bench didn't jump up 100 pounds after 2 workouts, so it must suck.  Or that you did a set of 20 rep squats and didn't wake up with legs like Tom Platz.

No shit Sherlock, where'd you park the car, Dick Tracy?

This shit makes me laugh, and exposes people who live in the "now generation", and have no clue about the big picture of putting in time with something to properly gauge the real effectiveness of it.

Put in 6 months doing sets of 100.  If you look and lift exactly the same after 6 months of it, I'll eat my hat and kiss my own ass.  Because you know what?  It won't happen.  If you put in that kind of effort over a significant period of time, you will get better.  I don't need a scientific textbook or some message board assclown to tell me otherwise.  I know it because I've lived and breathed it.  No different than if you put in 6 months of training heavy singles, you will get stronger.  It won't happen in a workout, or probably even a month.

Effort + Consistency = Getting better

That's the ticket.

So why do the ultra high rep shit?

High rep sets that hurt like a bitch and make you question your ability to continue on, build mental toughness that will carryover into other parts of your training.  Why do you think that Derek Poundstone started doing them?  He called it "pain tolerance" training.  

Let me also add in that the ultra high rep stuff pushes a ton of blood through that area, and my elbows feel better than they have in years.  Blood heals.  When you push a metric fuck ton of blood through an area over and over again, it's hard for inflammation to find a place to hang out at.

Bigger muscles and less achy joints means more productive heavy training as well.

Plus, why not do ultra high rep sets on your small shit?  It's more challenging, has a ton of benefits, and you can be done with all of your support work in 3-5 minutes.  That's a lot of really nice benefits.  Ignore them if you will, I won't.  I've gotten too much out of them.  They are a worthwhile addition to any training program. At least in phases.

So throw in em.  Or don't.  I'm sure you'll have many days of writing on the interwebs about why they are useless and don't work.  I am constantly amused at the effort people go through to "prove" that something is ineffective, without ever having put in the effort to speak about it intelligently.

With all of that written, Derek Poundstone doing some ineffective axle curls for 350 some odd reps.

Carry on, gentlemen.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Monday Edition

In case you didn't know, Jamie Lewis went 1705 this past weekend at his meet.  650-385-670 (he took a run at a 700 dead but missed).  Wanted to give major props to him for putting up some a retarded total at 181.  Apparently Dan Green also went 2030 as a 220.  Which again, is retarded and insane.  So that had to be a heck of a meet to be at.

Speaking of meets, my meet training starts not this weekend but next weekend.  I already have everything planned out.  I will be running my strong-15 short cycle with 1 week extra at the beginning just for some acclimation because I plan on taking a few days off next week.  This coming weekend, I'm SOOOOO excited as I get my wisdom teeth pulled Friday.  I hope you can smell the overwhelming stench of sarcasm in that previous sentence.  

Anyway, since I always get asked about routines, here is the split I will be using leading up to the meet.  

Saturdays - Squat and Deadlift
Squats - strong-15
Pause Squats - strong-15
Deadlifts - strong-15
Elevated Stiff Legs - 1x8-15

Tuesdays - Upperback, Hams, Abs
Behind the back shrugs - 6x6
Rows - 1x10,1x5,1x10
Leg Curls or 1-Legged Work - 1x10,1x5,1x10/3x20
Ab Wheel - 3x20

Thusdays - Bench and Assistance
Bench - strong-15
Incline - 1-2 x AMAP cyled
Front Raises - 1x100 
Curls - 1x100

My quad is slowly getting better.  Generally the day after I squat it is pretty stiff/sore but it's tolerable.  I'm not going to talk about what I want to hit at this meet and all of that shit because just being in a position again to compete feels good.  

Also as you can see, I will keep in the set of 100's for the front raises and curls.  I think this is a great idea and I also believe it solves the problem of doing what support work is supposed to do.  Namely, strength the SUPPORT areas for the big lifts.  You do not need to go heavy on your support or assistance work in order for it to do the job.  My elbows also feel the best they have felt in forever since I started doing sets of 100.  I think they are going to be pretty much a staple.  At least for some time.

Speaking of 100 rep sets, I did the 200 reps on barbell curls only to find out that Poundstone did a set of 353.  Hmpf!  That's ridiculousness.  I will wait and see the video, not that I doubt it, but I want to see how painful that was for him.  I also plan on hitting a set of 100x100 (100 pounds x 100 reps).  But that will have to wait.  I also see people writing shit like "what's the point of this?" or "why do this?"  What's the fucking point of lifting weights, jackass?  What's the point of challenging yourself?  Or doing something different?  To get overcome be able to speak from experience that you did something and can offer intelligent input about it.  Some people are too fucking stupid to like sometimes, I swear.

Also speaking of Jamie, I ended up watching The Raid last night, since he called it "visual viagra" and wouldn't shut up about it for weeks on end.  Let's just say when he gets back I have a bone to pick with him about his movie taste.  I'm not saying I thought it sucked, but the fight scenes were so retarded I had to dumb myself down during the movie in order to not just die of hysterical laughter.  Some guy fighting non-stop for 12-15 minutes at a time.  Fighting 5 guys with machetes in a narrow corridor and never getting cut.  Retarded.  I'm big on buying into a movie, and with everything we know about fighting now, watching this shit made me feel particularly stupid.  I much prefer fight scenes closer to what they did with Bourne than this shit.  

Dumb fight scenes

I also watched John Carter over the weekend with the girls, and it was weird.  Very weird.  It did have enough laughs in it to keep me entertained, but it was most definitely a strange little flick.  If you have kids I recommend it because they will enjoy it more than likely.  


I'm also going to eliminate carbs for the next two weeks in order to drop some water and a little bit of fat.  I'm still in good condition, however I'm now at 250-251 and I'd prefer to be more like 240-242 at the start of meet prep and then eat up from there.  

I'm also working hard on the LRB/365 manual.  If I don't end up doing the meet in spring, I will be doing this myself because I am setting it up, so that you spend the winter eating, and gaining mass, then strength peaking, losing fat, strength stabilization, a short strength peak, and then right back into mass gaining.  It's set up in mostly 6 week blocks, with scheduled time off.  I will also have some training chapters in between some of the scheduled stuff.  I don't want to make this some super in-depth thing because I want to be able to do Q&A's every few months with it to see how people are doing.  So I will arrange this whole thing and put it in an easy to follow format.  

The 6 weeks of hard training is something I have been talking about for a while, even back to the Philosophy of Training Programs.  I have thought for some time, that 6 weeks is about all you can give in terms of training balls out, before you need to sit down and think about whether you need time off or not.  Feeling great?  Add on a few more weeks.  Feeling burnt?  Take a week or so off.  This is a theme I have seen in my peaking cycles as well.  It's also why I tell people that the first three weeks of the strong-15 is supposed to be nothing more than an acclimation phase.  You should not be hitting anything during those 3 weeks that is even remotely heavy.  It is a primer for the hard 6 weeks of training.  For whatever reason I can't seem to get a lot of guys to understand this concept.  Maybe it's because they want everything now?  Or because they had been doing too much fucking "ME work" and nonsense like that.  

I have two Lifter articles left.  One will be out this week, and then the final the next.  After that I am going to do a PDF containing all of them, plus some other stuff.  

I hope your Monday is like eating thorns and wasps.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Training - Incline Db Press and Poundstone Curls Fucking Smashed

Bodyweight - 251

Incline Db Press -
20's x 50,40
60's x 12,8
100's x 5,5

Strip set - 140's x 11 -> 100's x 5

Carter Curls - bar x 200
Face Pulls - kindergarten band x 100

Notes - No longer will they be known as Poundstone Curls.  From now on, they will be known as Carter curls since, as far as I know, no one has ever put up 2 bills with the empty bar before.  Eric Lilliebridge accused me of having some kind of genetic mutation work done to my arms in order to be able to do this, however I think Eric is just a sore loser because he said he'd cry uncle if I did 200.

Oh yeah I also did a strip set of incline db without the weights coming off.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Training - Squats and Pulls

Bodyweight - 250 ???  Ok.........

Low Bar Pause Squats - no belt no wraps
bar x 10,10,10

High Bar Pause Squats -

Deadlifts - 25/45 double method

Shrus - 405x30

Notes - Super tired this workout.  Yet I did all of that volume.  Weird.  Nothing felt spectacular, however.

Saving a potentially shitty workout

I'm going to talk about "warming up" with a purpose, mental aspect, and the over-warm up and how it can turn a "could be" shitty session into a stellar one, or at least an 80%er.

1.  Don't rush things.

This used to be one of my biggest issues.  This is how warm ups usually went......


Over time, I have learned the importance of slowing down, and being fine with taking an empty bar off the racks and doing a few sets of 30-50 for bench, and sets of 10-20 for squats.  I do not rush to get a plate on, or go through some designed routine, until I feel "lathered up".

Most of the guys I am talking about, also do warm ups like this....


Waaaaay too many reps given to a set of warm ups.  If you want to do 10 reps with 315 as part of the warm up, you're far better off doing 3x3 with 315 rather than 1x10, and taking each triple as something to do very explosively.  If your working set for the day is going to be 365 (like in the example above) a better solution would be to settle on doubles and triples after the 135x10.  For example...

365 x sets x reps

In the previous example, there is too much fatigue generated in the warm up sets to have all of your cards on the table for the work sets.  Use the warm up sets to PRIME yourself for the big stuff.

To meet this theory, my warm ups can look like so on any given day....(bench for example)

315x2 - stay here for another set or 2 if need be
365x1,1,1 (feels fast enough?  Yes, move up to 385.  If not, just stay.)

Squats, for example.....

315x3,3,3,3,3 (are these fast enough yet?  If so, move up)
365x3x3 (feels great...)
Either go forward or back down from here for the back off sets.

These are all warm ups.  I do not rush through things here to get more weight on the bar.  The best way to make sure that 405/500/550/600 feels heavier and harder than it usually does, is to try and get to those top sets too quickly.  This is another reason why you shouldn't clutter up your "routine" with needless bullshit. 

Just like seducing a beautiful woman, you want to take your time and not rush getting right to the action.  The hotter you make it early, the better it will be when the real action starts.

Younger guys and noobs are AAA members about this.  That is...almost always awful.

No different than premature ejaculation, they rush to get to the climax too quickly.  They leave the scene of the crime dejected and wonder what the hell is going wrong.

They don't want to be seen in the gym messing around with no "girl weights".  It is a big mistake to rush the warm up, no different than rushing past the foreplay with the beautiful woman.  Take your time, make sure all of your working parts are in order before you try to get to 2nd and 3rd base.

Try this test.  After you do a few warm ups, try accelerating with a medium-heavy weight as fast as possible for a triple.  Then do a second set with it, and see if you don't feel like you can move it faster.  Now try it for a third set.  It's almost always the case that the second and third sets will feel far more explosive than the first.

I find that 315 tells me a lot about how squatting is going to feel that day, and that 225 tells me a lot about how benching might feel.  The deadlift is a bi-polar mobster, so I can't always tell if he's going to be cool, or an asshole about things.

Either way, even if you do a general warm up, take your time on the warm up sets.  There's no need to rush through them, and they play a vital part in greasing you up for the good stuff.

2.  Have rituals

When I was in Ohio training at Wendler's, one of the things we talked about was rituals that we go through during our warm ups.

"I put my wrist wraps on at this weight."
"I put my belt on at this weight." (obviously Jim said this one)
"I put my elbow sleeves on at this weight."

So forth and so on.

It doesn't seem like much, but these little cues over time, help get you "ready" for your working sets, or for the sets that matter.  Jim made a point that if his warm ups aren't going well, he will put his wraps and stuff on early, in order to signal that it's time to turn it on.  Don't underestimate the mind as the most powerful tool in your training arsenal.

Some people like to yell, and act like Hyena's that are getting zapped by cattle prods.  I personally think this is retarded.

I do not recommend yelling and screaming and acting like you are on bath salts.  I discussed this in the last podcast.  Ed Coan lifted more than you did, or ever will, and he never made a sound during his lifts.  I also think that all of that yelling and stomping around is a big waste of energy.  When you watch boxers or MMA fighters, do they jump around and yell shit before the bell rings, or are they calm?  Same for football players right before the snap.  There is a moment of calm....then explosion.  From rxmuscle.......

Coan redefines powerlifting psyching standards by his calm intensity. Unlike some others that believe in screaming, smacking their training partners and head-butting the nearest wall (and this is before even leaving for the gym), Coan is known for displaying a calm demeanor. While his approach requires more discipline, the results speak for themselves. Rather than resorting to theatrics to psyche himself up, Coan advocates lifters to "get fired up on the inside - keep it in - otherwise you will just waste energy that could go into your lifts." Anyone that has witnessed Coan prepping before a lift will attest that he exhibits an outward relaxation. If, however, you are close enough to look into his eyes, there is an intensity that is frightening.

Also, when approaching a heavy training weight, a competition lift or a new personal record, the key is to keep out negative thoughts. Do not waste time in front of the bar; just lock yourself into your starting position and move the weight.

This gets me psyched up just reading it.  I made no noise about it.

Stronger than you and makes less noise about it

Now this is my own personal preference, but the truth is, in the upper weights that you are capable of, the technical aspects matter.  If you are not under control because you've gotten yourself too amped up (I know guys this has happened to), then you will miss the weight.  So what was all that god damn yelling and stomping around for?  You're lifting weights, not saving babies from AIDS.  Chill the fuck out.

3.  The Over-Warm Up 

Everything my entire philosophy of training is built around.  Warming up OVER the weight you intend to use for your working sets that day.

As you get the warm ups out of the way, if you plan on hitting 350 for your working sets, take a single with 370-380 for your last "warm up".  This always allows for more reps on the working set, without fail.

Interestingly enough, Derek Poundstone shares my theory on this and talks about it in this video at about the 6:54 mark.  I also like the fact that Derek says you need to kick your own dumbbells into place, and that it's a part of being strong as well.  My man crush for Derek should be evident at this point.

4.  On a low energy day, settle on low reps  

Sometimes, you're just going to feel like shit regardless of rituals, warm ups, or any other stimulus you decided to get going with for the day.

The one thing I have found on these days, is that if I just go to singles, and do a lot of them, I still feel like I get in a pretty solid session.  Reps require more glycogen, BCAA, and ATP in order to really bust them out. Singles however, don't require a lot of "fuel".  To also add to that, you don't need to be doing 90% singles for them to be incredibly effective.  In fact, I personally think that's more counter productive over a longer period of time, than working in the 75-85% range.  So on a day where things feel unbelievably shitty, find a weight that feels "good", and do some nice crisp singles for 20-30 minutes.

Summarizing - 

1.  Take your warm up sets seriously, and warm up properly.  Do not generate fatigue during your warm ups.  Their purpose is to prime you for the main sets.

2.  Have mental cues as you go through your warm ups.  These are things that generate a mind and body connection that real work is about to be done.

3.  Save the screaming for when you are dealing with unreasonable women.

4.  Don't ask your body to do things it's not properly equipped to do, i.e. don't try to hit rep PR's when you're having a low energy day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

LRB/365 Manual and SPPC check in!

LRB/365 manual is in the works.  Basically, I'm going to lay out a whole year of training, phase by phase, that helps you plan to get stronger, leaner, and bigger over the year.  It's especially meant for the guys and gals who may not have aspirations to compete, but love the iron and want to get better just as badly as those who do compete.  Lots of lifters (and lifers) love the iron and what it does for THEM, and don't give a shit about competing (for reasons of their own).  I always recommend competing in something because it will give new life to your training and drive.  However, some don't have the time or inclination to do so, and that's just fine, because you should only be moving the iron and doing your conditioning work FOR YOURSELF.

So the 365 manual will lay out the various phases to get you better over the next year, and to a level you have not been to.  My goal is to have this out by December to you guys can really digest it for a while before starting it.  I would want to crunch as many questions into December as I could, so that those of you who are going to do this, have a very clear vision of what your training will look like each day, month, week, and for the year, and what your very clear and specific goals are.

I am not going to overload you with information in this manual.  I want to keep it short and to the point, and give a guideline on how to structure your training for the year.  So I will talk about the phases, why you are doing them, and how you should set goals for each.

Included will be diet, what to do if you get off track in a phase, go on a vacation, or have an interruption in your training.  

SPPC check in!  

Since we just finished another block of the SPPC challenge, it's time for a check in.  I know there are still some guys who have had the stones to be continuing with this, so I want to hear from you and how your progress is going.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chaos and Bang Your Earballs - Grunge Appreciation Edition

Jamie and I have decided that CNBYE's will no longer get numbers, but names.  This makes keeping up with the podcasts just like we like our women.  Simple and easy.  Or something like that....

Anyway, shit we go over!

Gunshot to the chests
Grunge music and our confusion over it and who is singing it
The rite of passage one takes in becoming a man
How we are not medical doctors in regards to injury questions
Old timey strong dudes version new timey strong dudes
Why being patient and consistent is the most important aspect of training and attaining goals


Podcast Q&A for this evening!

Podcast is a couple of days late this week, so throw your questions at us for tonight.

Training - Pressing and shit

Bodyweight - 247

Close Grips -
bar x 50,30

Poundstone Curls - barx120
Flye/Band Extensions Superset - 3 rounds of 30 reps per round

Notes - Pec minors are a bit inflammed for some reason so I hit the flyes for some high reps.  Was going to take a run at 200 on the Poundstone curls, but Tiff told me the camera was dying so I will give it a go next week.

Only a few more weeks before I actually start meet training.  Everything seems to be coming together at about the right time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Thoughts about life, crap, training and stuff - 9/11 Edition

I know it's not September 11th.  It's the 10th.  

However because I spent part of my weekend doing something to pay tribute to the firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11, I am going to make this the Sept. 11th edition of "Thoughts about..."

A few weeks ago, the wife started work at a new gym and one of her co-workers asked her if she and I would be interested in doing a 110 story stairwell climb, for the fallen 9/11 Firefighters.

"Sure, I'll do it" I said.  "Sounds awesome."

As I sit here writing this, let me say that for future purposes I will try to refrain from using the word "awesome" so haphazardly like that.  Especially when I am clueless about what the fuck it is I'm REALLY going to be doing.

"Climbing 110 stories in full fire fighter gear."  she tells me.

"Ok, yeah I'm in."

I gave little thought to this other than letting her know that I could be "jotted down" as a participant for this little shindig.

Tiff reminds me of this Friday night, and she tells me how nervous she is about it.

"Why?" I say.

"Because that shit is going to be hard."

"How hard can it be?" I say.  "It's 110 flights of stairs.  How long does it take to go up a flight of stairs?  Like, 10 seconds?"

"Yeah." she says.

"Ok then.  110 flights times 10 is 1100 seconds." I say, as I break out the calculator.

"Divided by 60 that's 18.3.  20 minutes." I tell her, very smug like.

"Doesn't seem right to me, but whatever." she says, very smug like.

Her smug vs my smug.  We'll see bro.

Saturday comes and we meet at the gym with the other people who are going to be doing this thing as well.  Turns out, there's only going to be six of us.  Myself, Tiff, Summer, Cristi, Tee, and Meagan.  A woman named Amy would be going with us to "snap pics of the carnage".  I can't remember who said that, but my smugness showed back up and gave a hefty "muwahahahaha" evil style laugh about it.  "It's 110 flights.  Big deal."  /smug with a dash of arrogance added 

The next day all of the firefighters from local departments would be doing it.  So on this day, it's just the six of us.

Tiff is still very nervous about this at the gym, though less than before because I assured her it would be over in half an hour.  My assurance was backed up by Summer telling us she did 100 flights of stairs on the stair master in 18 minutes the day before.

"See?" I say, taking another monocle styled sip of the smuggogance concoction I had shaken, but not stirred.  "20 minutes.  Max."

We all drive to downtown KC, where I might add that we were following Amy, who proceeded to drive us the wrong way down a one way street.....TWICE.  She also totally drove like a grandma the rest of the time.  50 MPH in a 70, for example.

After escaping possible head to head collisions on multiple occasions, we found our building and then parked.  It was the Bank Midwest building in downtown KC.  Inside I met the firefighters who would be giving us our equipment, and telling us about the challenge.

Bank Midwest downtown KC
 I would be wearing (mostly) full firefighter gear.  They did not have boots there, so thankfully I was smart enough to wear my best shoes that day.  All the gear adds up to around 50 pounds you're carrying, give or take a few I suppose.  Summer was doing the climb in honor of our troops who died in Afghanistan, so she would be wearing BDU's and carrying a 50 pound ruck.  Let me state that Summer is in awesome shape, but she's weighs all of 27 pounds.

Tee and Tiff would not be wearing any gear.  Tiff has an artificial hip, and though she protested at first, she eventually realized that doing the 110 floors with 50 pounds of gear on, with an artificial hip, might not be the best of ideas.

They only had three fire fighter uni's that day so it would be Meagan, Cristi, and myself wearing the gear.

After getting donned up in my gear, I made my way over to the Grandma Angel of Driving Death, aka Amy, so she could snap some pics.  The first thing I noticed was the fact that my legs were too big to really move my knee up.  It was like doing a step up every time I raised my leg.  Seeing as how I am going to be walking up stairs, I realize that each step is going to have added resistance to it from the suit.

"Meh" I think.  "No biggie."  

Here is me just after donning the fire fighter uni.  Still sipping on my cocktail of smuggogance.

As you can see, I had my headphones in and was ready to rock and roll when the guy who helped me get into my gear came over to me and let me know that I shouldn't wear the headphones.

"Why not?"

"Because music is a big motivational tool.  The guys who do the challenge tomorrow won't use it because the guys on 9/11 wouldn't have had music in.  Their motivation was to save those people."

I took my headphones out and put my MP3 player on a table.  Summer and Meagan followed suit.

Before someone makes a remark about how those guys "would have had adrenaline" or this or that, I don't care.  We can sit down and talk about options.  Running into a building that has been hit by a plane, sans music, or doing it in a controlled environment with music.  Which would you prefer?

Thanks for playing.

"You're going to want to get started now." the fireman told me.  "That suit will get hot quick."

He wasn't lying.  It was like being in a slow cook crock pot, and all I was doing at this point was standing around looking awesome.

"How long will this take?" I say, sipping slowly on my drink of smuggogance.

"Generally it takes most people about two hours." he says.

I spill my smuggogance, and look at Tiff.

I can read her mind.  It's saying......"bartender, I'll have a round of that smuggogance that my dip shit husband was having."  

Felt appropriate 

"I told you it would be longer than 20 minutes, you squirrel." she tells me.

"Let's get this show on the road then."  I say, totally ignoring how wrong I was.  

"You will go up 34 floors" the firefighter tells us.  "Then you will ride the elevator back down.  You'll do this 2 more times, then do 7 floors.  Got it?"

We all nodded that we understood, and marched into the stairwell single file to begin the ascent.

We get two floors up, and my biggest mistake in my thinking about all of this hits me.

Flights and floors.

Floors and flights.

110 floors is NOT 110 flights of stairs.  Each floor has two flights of stairs.  I had been using the terms flights and floors in an interchanging manner the whole time, and well, it's not the same thing at ALL.

110 floors is 220 FLIGHTS of stairs.

Fuck me running.  Actually, walking in this instance.  Fuck me walking....slowly....with an oven.

The next thing that happened was even better.  Most people don't know this, but now and again for reasons unknown to me, I get a bit claustrophobic.

So about the 3rd or 4th floor, out of nowhere, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I can't breathe, I feel trapped, I get light headed, and I look for a door.  I grab the door but oh guess what, it's locked.

"Breathe, Paul" I say to myself.  "Calm yourself.  Eyes down, walk the fucking stairs."

So that's what I did.  In a few minutes I was fine.  Disaster avoided.  I had this vision of myself taking all of my gear off hyperventilating like a bitch, while everyone else continued on.

Was not going to happen.

The inability to overcome fear is the thing that keeps you from doing great things in life.  Fear blinds you.  It steals your breath, and weighs heavy on your shoulders.  Fight or flight, they call it.  It could be that claustrophobic moment in the stairwell, or that moment when someone pulls a gun on you.  To your body, it all feels very similar.  Your vision gets narrow and everything slows down.  Fear grabs you by the throat, and snarls in your face.  It wants to test your mettle.  You can either succumb, and cower to it, or you can grab fear by the throat as well and say "let's do this, mother fucker."

I chose the latter.  On this day, I would also fight his twin brother.  Failure.

The bout of claustrophobia made my breathing and heart rate increase exponentially very early on.  I don't know what my heart rate was after a few flights, but if I had to guess (from measuring it on the treadmill during sprints) I would say it was easily in the 150 BPM range.  My legs were sore from a high volume workout of squats a few days before, so they got heavy very early.  Add in the resistance from the pants, and the going was tough right out of the gate.  Not a good way to start, but life isn't always rainbows and unicorns.  It sure wasn't going to be on this day.

We made up to the 34th floor, and then walked down the hall to the freight elevator, and hit the "down" button.  It took that thing forever to get up to us.  When it did however, it brought with it a nice breeze that made the group give a collective "ahhhhhh".

On the elevator ride down, my demons began to taunt me.  I thought to myself "I'm already exhausted.  How the hell am I going to do that 2 more times and then some?"

These thoughts stayed with me all the way through the second trip.  I was fighting failure every step of the way.  Soon my stomach started to churn.  I wasn't too worried about puking because I've never puked from a workout in my life.  For whatever reason I just don't.  And I've had plenty of hard ass football practices of running non stop sprints in Mississippi summers, and watched guys puke from it.

Truth is, I wish I could have puked, because having my stomach ache the whole time was far worse.  To add to things, I started seeing the "sparklies" and my right ear began to hum to me with that very low level "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" buzzing.  This lasted until about 3/4 of the way up the second trip.  Then my hearing in my right ear just went all together.

Two trips down, though.

"Just one more.  You can do this shit." I told myself.

As we stepped off of the elevator, and walked through the lobby the firefighter that helped me with my gear came over to me.

"You ok, bud?" he said.

I nodded.

"Man, you're really hanging in there.  The big guys never finish this thing.  They always fall fast.  One more flight and you're almost done."

Almost done.

We started the third trip, and the exhaustion was clearing setting in with the group.  I looked like a zombie at this point (pics coming), Meagan and Summer weren't looking too hot either (but not quite like the walking dead), and we had to stop for a rest about every other flight of stairs.

At this point, my body was mostly numb.  Not in a Vicodin induced haze kinda way, which is fun, but a beaten with Kendo sticks for 9 hours kinda way.  And I know from experience what that feels like, and it feels like balls.

Did not die, but looked like a zombie.

I was climbing the flights at this point with both hands on the rails and sort of walking and pulling myself at the same time.  I made the mistake of trying to drink water while walking up the stairs, and let me tell you, holding on to the rails takes a hell of a lot of bodyweight off of your legs.  More than you know.  In other words, that was not a good idea and I immediately regretted it.

It felt like an eternity but we finally made the final 34 floors.  We took the freight elevator one more time to the 1st floor to do the final 7 flights.  I expected some kind of surge of energy, knowing I only had to to do 7 more flights to finish.  Since this was a Murphey's Law style day, no such surge happened.  In fact, on the third floor, my left adductor cramped hard and my knee buckled.  Once again, I had this awful vision of myself.  This time I was writhing around cramping in the stairwell....not able to finish the last few flights.

Again, was not going to happen.

I poured another bottled of water over my head and drank the last bit.

We finally emerged at the top of the 7th stairwell and there we stopped to get a group shot.  I thanked Tee for "inviting us all to spend our Saturday doing this" and we all laughed.

We made our way to the elevator and then walked through the lobby and up to a podium for a final few group shots.  I walked gingerly over to the area where I put my gear on earlier that day, and peeled it off.  I then laid on the floor for around 20 minutes before I felt like standing again.

"What time is it?" I asked Tiff.

"1:45." she said.

"So, it took an hour and 45 minutes." I said.

"Mmmm, hmmmm." Tiff said.

So much for "20 minutes".

That evening I spent my time in bed eating steaks and M&M's.  Yes, steaks and M&M's.  Three large bags before it was all over.  That's what I was craving, so I ate it.  Don't ask why this craving would be upon me, I have no clue, but I listen to my body.

Some might have done this, and thought "no big deal."  Good for you.  When you're 250 and only a few weeks out from starting a powerlifting meet cycle you're generally not doing the kind of work to prepare you for this kind of task.  I can only credit my conditioning base that got me through this.  For the last couple of weeks, that has been reduced to very fast walking for 30-40 minutes every morning.  That may not seem like much, but it's enough so that you won't actually die (you will look like you should, however) during an adventure like this.

In the end, regardless of how hard this was, and it ranks top 5 among all the hardest physical things I've ever done, it was still a controlled environment.  I have no idea what it would have felt like for those guy on 9/11, or the firefighters across the country, and the glove, that do this shit on an everyday basis.  I have always respected our Firefighters, but this challenge left me with an entirely new found respect for those guys.

I am actually very thankful to have competed, and completed this challenge.  This was a huge test for me because of all the things I had going against me early on.  I write about overcoming these things all the time, and it's important to walk the walk, if you're going to talk the talk.  Most guys won't admit to a lot of the shit that I do.  Like "wanting to quit" or give in to fear and failure.  I've never claimed to be some demi God, and it actually pisses me off when some guys I know write about how they never deal with these things.

Because it's bullshit.

Fear and failure were in my mind a great deal of the time for that hour and forty-five.  I spent as much time fighting off those two assholes as I did climbing those stairs.  I knew deep down though, I wouldn't quit.  I knew I would pass the hell out before that happened.  I would have felt embarrassed and ashamed.  Embarrassment and shame teamed up with pride and determination and tag teamed to beat the living shit out of fear and failure.

On the ride home, somehow the subject of my dad raising me came up.  He is a Nam vet, retired from the military, and he was also my Scout leader.  He used to take us on 14 mile hikes through Shiloh park, 10 miles hikes through downtown Memphis, and go camping in the woods for the weekend with nothing more than a tent and a knife.  I laughed at what a crazy bastard he is.

"You don't think that is part of what made you the man you are today?" Summer noted.

I paused for a bit, because in honesty, I don't know that I've ever given my dad enough credit for all the hardships he put me through.  Spending entire winters chopping and hauling wood from sun up to sun down when I was still young enough to be wearing Underroos under my coat.  Hunting in the freezing ass cold for hours and hours, football practice AFTER football practice (in other words, after practice, he would drive me home and have me do MORE practice at home, no shit), roofing houses in the middle of summer all day long, and of course beating my ass when I was a shit bird.

So I'd like to say not only thank you to all of the firefighters, military, and everyone else that served on 9/11 and all the 365's that you do, but also to my dad whom I love very much.  For giving me the tools in life that allowed me to pay tribute to them on this day, and to become the man that I have.  You are an awesome man and father.  I am proud that I share blood with you, and that I was lucky enough to have such an awesome man to look up to in my life.  I love you dad.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Lifer Series Part 9 - I will cut off emotional leeches and vagrants

In part 7 of the lifer series I wrote about casting out backstabbers, cowards, and liars.

In this installment, I am going to talk about it from a slightly different end.

How to not be an enabler, and how to better not only yourself and your life, but possibly your friends and those you care about.   This is done by not aiding and supporting habits and virtues that tear them down, and keep them in the blackness of the abyss.  If you do this, and they still choose to stay there, then there was nothing you could do to help them anyway.  Unlike casting out cowards, backstabbers, and liars, this is more  about peeling away and cutting off the things that keep your life from progressing forward to the next level, and what you want your life to look like.

Help yourself first - 

One of the very basic tenets of life, that has been proven over and over again, is that you must first help yourself before you can fully help others.  You must first be happy with who you are, before you can embrace life wholly.  You must first be confident in who you are, and what you are about before you can pull someone else out of the quagmire.  Think about do you help someone else out of quicksand when you're drowning in it too?

Amazingly, a lot of people have no idea how to really get to this place.  This is because they generally don't know how to grok lifer rule 5..... Most people find unhappiness in their life, because they let the things that happen to them in life define WHO they are.  The key issue here, is usually failure.

They use failures in life to shape what they think of themselves, and have a hard time letting go of failures, insults, perceived shortcomings, and slights.

"I didn't get that promotion" -- failure
"I missed that lift" -- failure
"I failed that test" -- failure
"I can't sustain a relationship" -- failure
"I can't get a date" -- failure
"I don't fit in with a group" -- failure

"I failed's all I know how to do."

People let these things in life define them, rather than seeing them as part of what life is.  They think others see them as a failure.   Thus...."I'm a failure."

You are the only one who gets to define who and what you are, and what your life is about.  You have all the power to make decisions that empower you.  This is such a hard thing for people to comprehend and believe, but it's entirely true.  No one can "make" you happy, sad, mad, apathetic, jealous, whatever.  You CHOOSE to feel that way.  If you want to define yourself as a failure because you have failed at certain things, then you will be.  You will constantly wait on yourself to falter and to fail like it's some sort of predestined fate.

Let me lay down a knowledge bomb on you here.  You are not predestined to fail.  The key, is being smart about picking your battles.  If you've never stepped foot into a fighters Cage, and plan on fighting Anderson Silva then you're gonna fail.  You can't really stand up and say with any amount of legitimacy "I tried to be a cage fighter and failed."  No you failed to win a fight against Anderson Silva, and you were retarded for using that as the measuring stick for whether or not you were meant to fight in MMA.

Your path should have been....

First you would find a reputable MMA studio.
Then you would put the work in.
Then you would take some amateur fights.
Then, if you won there, you'd eventually turn pro.
If you turned pro, you would have to work your way up the ladder.
If you did that, you'd get a title shot.
You'd THEN you would get your ass kicked by Anderson Silva.

I guess Chris Leben does kinda suck.....

Now even though, the end result was the same both times, would you consider yourself a failure for losing?  You could if you wished.  Or you could see the big picture, and see all of the little success' that got you to that point, and that one loss in no way, shape, or form, defines who you are and what you are about.

Failures in life are not only inevitable, but a requirement for getting better.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.  Period.  Unless you are a prodigy, everything you do in life will come with some success, and some failure.  It's what you do with that failure that defines whether you get bitter, or better.

Learning how to be happy with who you are is most often about what to do with those failures.  A failure could be something that steers you away from something you shouldn't have been doing in the first place.  Like a job, or a relationship, or MMA fighting, or smoking crack.  It may not be evident at that moment, and may not reveal itself until later, but if you dwell on the "failure" aspect of the present, instead of looking to the future, you will stay mired in the sludge and quicksand.

If you are ever to eradicate the blackness that envelopes you, you must come to terms with the fact that crawling out of the depths of it means your hands will become blistered and torn.  At times the climb will be incredibly painful, and you will question if it's really worth it.  However you have to focus on the goal.  The goal is to climb up and rise out.  Not to do so unscathed.  The blisters and blood and pain is all part of the climb, not part of "failing".

You have two choices.

You can let go, and fall back into the blackness.  However I promise you that each climb after a fall becomes increasingly harder.  Each time thereafter, it gets easier to let go.  It gets easier to take the fall and succumb to failing.

"I'm supposed to fail.  I'm not supposed to make it out."

You will capitulate to your perceived inability to climb out of the depths known as your own personal misery and failure. You will then live your life vicariously through those that do what you think you can't, or you will hate them and bemoan their existence for it.  Jealousy will become your horse, and you will ride it with strife and resentment.

You become the leech.  You become the vagrant.  

Before you can cut off the leeches and vagrants, so that they are forced to help themselves, you must first exile yourself from that existence.  

This starts by using the power to decide what to do with failing.  Accept failing as a normal part of succeeding.  Use your failures as an ingredient to get better.  Learn and grow from them.  You are not accepting failure as the final solution, just as a bump in the road.

Imagine being on a road trip to somewhere you had been waiting your whole life to go to.  On that trip, you find yourself standing in front of a bridge that has fallen.  Would you reroute, and find a new way, or would you just turn around and go home?  The bridge is something that keeps you from reaching your goal, or destination.  However it's not until you decide to quit, and that there is no other way, that you have accepted failure as the only option.

"What if that is the ONLY way?  And now I can't get there?"  

"I didn't end up where I had initially planned.  However, I ended up at this other spot.  I must say, it's pretty f'n cool, and I think I could settle in for a while here until I decide what I want to do next.  Or I may stay here until that bridge gets fixed.  Either way, I have options."    

The second part is understanding the short comings that have to do with you failing.  If you failed a test at school because you did not study, then you already understand where the shortcoming came from.

If you're a white guy built more naturally like Hulk Hogan, and your passion is the 100 meter dash, and you want to run it in sub 10, you're probably that same guy that tried to fight Anderson Silva right out of the gate.  You're not being very self aware about your limitations, and being supremely retarded.  

That belt is not from winning a 100 meter dash in track and field

Most people that I know, or have known, that fail or think of themselves as failures did not give themselves the best chance to win.  Either through mental or physical preparation.

Giving yourself the best chance to win - 
Pick your battles.
Look at failures as temporary roadblocks that you learn from.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Learn how to be happy with your own goals and aspirations.
Attack those goals and aspirations like a fucking Silverback on PCP.

Grasp these concepts, and you will climb out of the depths of the blackness.

You cannot rescue the truly condemned - 

For most of my youth, I tried to rescue people I loved from things that clearly were destroying their life.  I thought for the longest I could save them from these things, before I had to eventually let go of them, in order to move on in my own life.  I did not fail in saving them, they failed to save themselves.

Ultimately, and unfortunately, some of us live long enough to grow up and regrettably have to watch people we love and care about toss their life into a river of shit over and over and over again.  To no avail, we try desperately to save them from something they willingly want to be a part of.  Logic doesn't work, ass kickings don't work, interventions don't (always) work.  Or sometimes they do, but it's usually temporary.

Most people live the life they want to live because they like it, or it's comforting to them in some way only they can understand.  Trying to save them from something they are willing to sell their soul from is futile.  I can tell you from experience, it's an incredibly helpless feeling.   When you want so badly for something better in someones life, and they refuse to take your hand.

Eventually, if you don't cut these leeches off of you they will suck the life out of you.  If you don't force them to stand on their own, and quit being an enabler, they will drag you down into hell with them.  Trust me, I know.  I speak from experience and personal journeys that I'd never wish on anyone to have to go through.  These can be big things, like drugs and alcohol, or "smaller" things like self loathing and pity parties.

It's the loved one who is an addict that you need to stop giving money to, or rescuing from danger.

Or the friend who constantly has man/woman drama going on in their life.  You are constantly subjected to catering to their emotional needs as they make the same mistakes over and over again.

Their burdens eventually become your burdens.  Your canvas eventually starts being painted by the same paint brushes that is painting their life.  Their shades of black and gray eventually start mixing in with your reds and greens.  If you don't wipe away those smudges before they dry, their burdens will become part of your canvas forever.

The truly condemned, those that love the abyss and the darkness, cannot be rescued from it.  They love the self loathing and stench of the stolen and crushed souls that walk this path with them.  They take comfort in the vileness of it all.  You cannot save them.  If they are to be saved, they must make the decision to climb out of the cave of their own accord.

I would.....

The other types of leeches and vagrants, are the people in your life that burden you but not to the degree of the condemned.  The "I would" leeches.

They haven't tainted their canvas with smudge and blackness, but there's not a lot going on there either.

I want to move forward, and get better, and do something.  But they are paralyzed by the fear of the unknown and failure.

"I would do that but...." is their favorite phrase to coin.

You know their heart is good, but they can't ever seem to find their way down the right path.  So, they simply don't take a path.  Which isn't always a bad thing either.  But eventually the baby birds have to leave the nest and take a chance.

Cutting them off here, is more about giving them a nudge, and letting them sink or swim a bit.  If they have the same fear failures that you might have had, then help them get over it.  But give them enough gentle nudges to help them start walking their own path.

If that path comes to a fallen bridge, let them know you've been there, and the choices that you made about it.  How they have choices too, but they have to make their own.  They have to decide if they want to succumb to failure, or just reroute their path.