Tuesday, October 30, 2012

There aint shit new......

This might seem strange coming from someone who sells a book, or program, or whatever.  But I wanted to write this because I always see these "success" stories about training methodologies or programs or whatever, and it really all still comes back to a few tried and true principles.  Mainly, belief in the training program and being consistent with it.

If there is something being touted as "new" or some new method, you can bet every cent you have that it's not.  Why?  Because everything has already been done.  Generally, guys make good progress on a "new" system because...well, it's new.  Enthusiasm is high, belief in said program is at a maximum, and consistency is on point.  What generally happens over time is, just like with any and every training methodology, is that things so down and then what happens is human nature sets in.  Enthusiasm wanes, and then so does consistency and progress.  That really could be a chicken and egg type argument but I don't want to debate which one.

The point is, there is no training system out there that is the key ingredient to your sub-par progress.  That is more "magical" than another.  Not mine, not anyone's.  My training methodologies have been forged out of over two decades of tinkering and application.  I don't adhere to other peoples methods or "systems" because I know what works for me.  I can actually apply my theories to other peoples "systems" because my philosophies aren't flexible that way.  Now, does that make it their system at that point?  No.  Yes.  Probably not.  Who knows?

However, I have no desire to tinker around with other training methodologies anymore because it's been proven for about 6 decades now what works for the MAJORITY of people.

Strength is triples and fives for the most part.

Size is big eating and a metric ass load of reps.

Yes, you need to learn how to wave between the two now and then, but that about sums it up.  I know, it's boring, it's not sexy.  No one is going to read that and believe it.

"Where's all the dynamic effort work?"

"What about special exercises?"

"What about bands and chains and panda bears?"

Sorry.  None of that shit is needed, or really in my opinion, even worth a shit.

Every dude that lifted big shit out of the 70's and 80's had or did NONE of that.  Well, I'm not sure about panda bears.  However the rest of it, yeah.

No one put on a bench shirt, then wrapped bands around it....going either way......and chains....then did a two board press for a single.  That's a lot of bullshit for a god damn single.  What did Kaz do?  Some sets of 10.  Then some more of that.  After that, he did some more of that.  Then he ate a lot, and won some WSM and powerlifting stuff.

Bodybuilders and powerlifters trained really similarly during the 50's, 60's, and 70's.  The only difference is that powerlifters incorporated heavier training in phases.  Now known as "periodization".  I know, this shit is deeper than a conversation between Ayn Rand and Stephen Hawking.  But that's the only real difference in how they trained.  Powerlifters back then also didn't generally eat themselves into oblivion either.  Most of the guys at the top were in pretty awesome shape.  They ate good, trained hard, knew that bodybuilding type shit was good, and then did some very basic periodization work up to a meet.

That's all that's required.  By anyone.  You're not special.  You're not unique, nor do you need a training system with or a special trainer in order to get big and strong as hell.  You don't need to worry about CNS burnout, or if you have some special bars or bands, or if you need to change movements every three weeks.

You don't even need to ask permission 99% of the time.  Instead of asking if some shit works just try it the hell out.  You'll find out in a few months if it does or doesn't.  Just give it a fair time for evaluation.

An old powerlifter I know wrote a post a week or so ago and he basically said...."back in the day, some guys just trained the squat, bench, and deadlift.  Then for a three-four months out of the year they would do some really high inclines, front squats, and elevated stiff legs.  It worked well."

Jesus that sounds familiar.  Oh yeah, that's pretty much the staple lifts in all of my "routines".  Funny how the longer you do this shit, everyone seems to end up in really similar destinations.

On the flip side of that, I was helping a guy prep for a meet a few years ago, and he told me "but I like switching up movements because I just hate going into the gym week after week doing squat, bench, and dead."

"Then why are you powerlifting?"

I mean, this would be akin to a 100 meter sprinter telling his coach "man I hate that we run 100's every week.  Can't I run some easy 400's, or even a 5K?  You know, just to mix it up?"

The lesson here is there is no new program that is going to put you on the map, or that is the secret to unlocking your beast mode to turn you into an elite strong guy.  Hell, writing about it the way I just did isn't even new.  The problem is, every 6 months or so someone creates a whole "new training method"....and it's always something rehashed.  I think it was Dave Tate that said if you want to create a new buzz in training, just start talking about some shit everyone did back in the 80's.

What you should be asking yourself is if your gains are coming because of the effort put forth on it, or because it's really "just that special".....I think we both know the answer to that.  This is why it's important to build a training philosophy that you can and will adhere to when shit isn't going so great.  So that you don't end up hopping around from routine to routine, or from program to program trying to get motivated again.  As I've written before, motivation is bullshit.  It will eventually wane, and then there you are, trying to find something to get motivated about again.


  1. Excellent post. However, you lose major points for mentioning Ayn Rand and Stephen Hawking in the same sentence. Apart from that, a 110% effort. Enjoy Vegas.

  2. "Instead of asking if some shit works just try it the hell out."

    What? You mean people have to make their own decisions?

  3. Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

  4. Powerlifting, Rand, and Hawking in the same post. Definitely know why I keep coming back.. Haha.

    I think the reason why creating "new" shit from the 80s is you have young guys (like myself) who don't know much about the 80s. I was born in 88.. Plus, I'm really just getting into it and feel like I have years of training to really get to your level! Definitely an inspiration.

  5. The simplicity of what I see in your work, Paul, and with Wendler's 5-3-1 program, is what makes lifting seem fun and uncomplicated to me.

    As an athlete who has never really focused on pure strength training outside of his given sport(s), all the bands, chains, suits, etc, make powerlifting/lifting seem oddly complex, difficult, and somewhat mystifying...kinda like scoring in tennis (why did they do that?)

    You and Jim have made a follower by distilling it all down and cutting to the chase.


  6. Paul, can you link to that post by the "old powerlifter"? Sounded like a good read.


  7. Screw you Carter if you think I'm going to believe that there's no secret to unlocking beast mode. I will continue my search for it, and I will find it!

  8. Sidebar, pandas are pretty jacked, I saw them in the Zoo in Edinburgh in the summer, the male was around 5 foot 6 and 20 stone (280 pounds) and not yet fully grown. Maybe bamboo grazing with occasional meat treats and 16 hours sleep a day the secret to unlocking beast mode mark?

    1. Wouldn't bamboo shoots be a carb? Need carbs to get huge...proof in nature.

  9. Thank you!!

    As simple as this post was, it's the nail on the head most people need.

    Too many people are asking questions after questions. "Ohhh geee, oh myyy, how can I lift as much as you???" Seriously? I mean, getting stronger is not rocket science, but most people try their damn hardest to turn it into something of that nature.

    It boils down to discovering your own training methodology/philosophy and fkin------sticking with it for as long as humanely possible. Those who do....shall become stronger, period. I mean I could give 2 shits about what the greatest powerlifter does for his shoulders, because I like what I'm doing and I'm still getting stronger. That's the whole purpose, make yourself better...stronger...not being parrots at mimicing strength athletes. All the greatest put together their own training methodology but, as history shows (like Mr. Carter said) refers to the same type of shit. 1-5 reps for strength, and 10+ for size. Hell, maybe you're an abnormally and can get HYOOOGE on Singles.(if you can, please rub it in Carter's face. :-) )

    But basically, Nicely said Mr. Carter.

    p.s. Bonus if you can get hyooge on singles and LOW-carbing, son.

  10. Paul,

    It's no secret you don't believe in CNS burnout, but do you believe in overtraining? I've been on a rather intense (for me, at least) 4 day/week routine with a deload every 4th week. I am usually dying by the time that deload rolls around. I have nutrition and sleep dialed in, but by the end of week 3 I generally feel like dogshit and want to do nothing else but curl up in a cave and sleep and eat. If not CNS burnout, what do you chalk that feeling up to?

    1. I think that people overlook localized muscle fatigue as a big factor. Not only that, but systemic recovery. Now someone will try to trick me and say "and what do you think that is?" referring to the CNS, but it's more like general fatigue. This is not CNS burnout and can be something normal non-training people have from a long day at work.

      Training is a stress. So with stress there has to be recovery. However with training there is localized recovery (muscular level) and systematic recovery which is related to bcaa, seratonin, glycogen, etc, or just mental and/or emotional fatigue. You don't need to weight train to feel all the same effects that these broscience guys talk about when they say "cns burnout". Shit, have a crazy girlfriend and a shitty job and you'll get some serious CNS burnout.

  11. I've been using barbell rows in my routine for quite awhile now I seen you and Wendler seem to be against them. Would you recommend swtiching to DB or T-bar instead?

    1. I'm not against barbell rows, I'm just against butchering them with shitty form.

    2. Wendler mentioned barbell rows adding low back stress which could affect squats and deadlifts. I do barbell rows twice per week. deadlift once. and squats three times. So I may use T-bar for awhile and see if that helps.

  12. Alright Paul,

    Great article again. Enjoyed reading that as made me think that what im doing is right thing for me. Just focusing on the big four and busting my butt to add a rep or 2 or 5 pounds on the bar everyweek. Using a few other exercises like rows, curls, shrugs, neck and grip work at end also.

    Just wondered Paul when you will be doing that vid showing you doing pendley rows/Bentover rows tech. Would love to see it just to brush up on my tech. Cheers Paul. Lee

  13. Agree that there is really no magic secret and people need to learn to make their own decisions, and not commit so much goddamn attribution bias. (That guy's strong/looks good, must do that thing he's spouting right now).

    But you seem to be taking some direct swings at the likes of Westside in particular here, and to be frank, they are lifting more than guys in the 70s and 80s did.... You get this 'golden age' crap in a lot of sports. Maybe what's annoying is weak guys who think they need the same stuff as elites when they probably don't...

    1. The guys at WSB are NOT outlifting the guys of the 70's and 80's. I'm not sure who told you that or where you get that from, but Lamar Gant, Kaz, Coan, Karwoski, Furnas, etc would bury anyone from westside.

      My article isn't even a shot at westside, either.

  14. I agree fully. It really comes down to commitment and experimentation based on finding what works best for one's own training needs.

    Currently I am training daily (sometimes more than one session)with more than double bodyweight in most movements while sub-caloric (APEX Predator) but my current goals are to get to a lean 225. No overtraining, no CNS, and increases to the weight on the bar weekly..... but that works for me and has previously but it took LOTS of experimentation to get there. I bought into "hardgainer" quite a bit in the early years and still made good progress on the big lifts but when I started reading Waterbury and older Eastern Bloc stuff my views changed.

    Will I stay sub-caloric and minimal carb forever? Nope. Rep scheme and eating will change to match goals but the basics of hardcore training and frequency will remain.

  15. This is great stuff. I was just having a similar conversation with a guy in the gym the other day. I was doing some DB rows with 120 and this guy I see once in a while comes up to me after and was like "You really bust your ass in here like every day of the week, but you always do the same stuff. What do you take?" I was taken aback at first but my reply was essentially "I alternate between taking as many plates as I can handle and lifting them 3-4 times and taking a moderate weight and lifting it as many times as I can. Then I take my ass home, take some food out of the fridge, eat it, and then take my happy ass to bed"

    It's not about "what" you take, or whose ideas you take, its that you take what works in general and what works for you based on experience (or the experiences of your betters) and use it in a sensible manner. If you aren't getting better, you aren't training with common sense, something you've said many times over.

    I fully agree on the subject of CNS burnout. I like to tell people I'm not burned out I'm fucking tired and stressed. You wanna hear about CNS burnout go talk to a war vet or an ER doc, EMT, or firefighter. People who see awful shit and stay amped 24/7 get CNS burnout. Gym rats whose only daily awful experience is to have a lack of vascularity or a missed PR do not get CNS burnout.

  16. Amen. Read the chapter in Purposeful Primitive about Chaillet's Gym in Maryland. Amazingly strong men- no gimmicks at all.

  17. Agreed. There is nothing new under the sun.

  18. Thanks for sharing this useful info. Keep updating same way.
    Ajay Kumar
    Crucial Conversation Training

  19. Brilliantly put....not. But well worded. So simple yet so far out of reach for some people to comprehend. Thoroughly enjoyed the read.