Friday, November 2, 2012

The red and blue pills....part 2

Outside of taking the red and blue pill question at face value, there was something else that came out of that discussion.  

The red and blue pill question was about as simple as it gets.  Yet there were still plenty of guys, who could not just answer "red" or "blue".  

"I'd take both."

"I would mix both."

"I wouldn't take either." What the fuck did you chime in for then?  Jesus Christ.........

"I would take the strong pill, and then diet."  Wasn't a fucking option!

"I'd do this, I would do that."

Let's rewind.  It was a very simple question that gave you two options.  Yet lots of people could not just answer it.  A woman's record holder in powerlifting sent me a message regarding the conversation, telling me........

The people replying to your post make even less sense than the post itself.

The skewed initial question aside, the obvious point is that you have to pick ONE.

 The biggest thing that stood out to me was that it was such a simple question, yet some people deliberated about it incessantly, or just changed to options that weren't even on the table.  It's not that hard of a question to answer really.  Not in my opinion anyway.  You've got two options.  Pick one.  No need to explain shit, and you don't have other options.  

It made me realize however, no wonder so many people can't either stay on a training program, or can't get on board with one, or just can't slave away on some basic principles for a long period of time.  I mean, it was two options.  TWO.  And some people had to still bastardize those two options, even though there really wasn't other options.

"Well I make my own options."

Get the fuck outta here.  

I'm not trying to throw people under the bus, I'm trying to help show you that often times your training is in a funk because you present yourself with options that shouldn't be there, or aren't there at all.  You create a larger paradigm about your training that you need to, or feel something "more" is warranted.  

It's not.  My last article was about that.  Training is so simple, yet we have a billion boards on the net packed with training talk and information and there is this mass confusion about what works and what doesn't.  

Really?  How did this happen?  

It's because so many people don't believe it can be that damn simple.  No one ever got it when Jim and I blasted the whole "weak point training" bullshit, and told folks "just get stronger."  

The question we often received back from that answer was even more absurd.

"What does that mean, just get stronger?"  

Really?  You don't know what that means?  It's not a trick question.  You can take it at face value.  Just get stronger.  Keep working.  Stop expecting results in 5 minutes, or even 5 weeks.  Stop trying to fix shit that isn't broken with such nonsense as weak point training or believing in bullshit like CNS burnout, and that it's the reason you aren't as strong as you want to be.  They aren't options to pick from, because they don't even fucking exist.  

Stop trying to base the effectiveness of a training model based on three weeks.  There's going to be times where you bust ass for 10 weeks and you may not see a huge improvement in something.  You can't add 50 pounds to your lifts a year.  It's not going to happen.  It doesn't have anything to do with options or the wrong routine, it has to do with the nature of training and the ebb and flow of your training life.  The longer you train, the closer you get to your genetic limit.  The closer you get to your genetic limit, the slower the rate of gains.  It's that simple.  

Second, stop trying to bastardize a knowledgeable and seasoned lifters well thought out program, because you think you know better.  Yes, I often tell people to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, but if you are running 5/3/1 or my program or WSB or whatever, run that shit as outlined for an extended period of time, then make ONE ADJUSTMENT that you think might help.  Not two, not five, not seventeen.  ONE.  And see what happens over a sufficient period of time.  

I don't want people to be robots, however I also see how just how ridiculous people can get about things that I see as being so simple.  I mean, option 1 or option 2.  

"I'll take option 3"

"It's not there."

"Option three."  

"It's not there."

Round and round and round and round..........

Training is simple.  Eating is simple.  Conditioning is simple.  

Stop making it more complicated than it is.  That, or just find someone to kick you in the nuts until you stop the nonsense.  


  1. That's hilarious. Was that your intent when you posted the question, because you know a shitload about human nature if it was.

    On a side note, I want to thank you for the blog. Especially the making slow consistent strides and not comparing yourself to others. Every time I get worked up about progress, I just think of those two items. I'm in my garage. Alone. Writing my training into a log only I read. Who the hell am I comparing myself to.

    1. I had a feeling there would be plenty of people that wouldn't be able to make such a simple decision. I mean, they can't in training, why would they be able to do in any other situation?

  2. Hey Paul, I finally stalled out on your original big-15 program after about 6 months. I was thinking of dropping my max on the spreadsheet by 15lbs and starting over again adding 5lbs at the end of each cycle as I was previously doing. Good idea to spark some progress or no? I really like the cycle layout and don't really want to part ways with it just yet.

    1. go to 50% sets for the big movement, and try to beat the total reps for a while. When you stall out on that, go back to straight sets again, but restart the cycle lighter.

  3. Because it obviously can't be as simple as "Lift a heavy ass weight. Keep doing it until it is easy. Then lift a heavier weight. Repeat as necessary or desired."

    I guess what I found annoying about the whole question was that you seemed to omit the many people who were strong as an ox and looked good doing so. Although when I think about it a bit more, I suppose you were trying to get people to be honest with themselves and understand what their priorities are; what they would do if push came to shove, and they could only have one thing, which would it be?

    This, I think, is symptomatic of a larger problem that has become common in recent years. People aren't very honest with themselves. It's not even necessarily that they are deliberately lying to themselves; it's that they don't even realize that they are lying to themselves, or else they've come to believe something that is ultimately impossible to achieve is in fact an achievable reality. You see this with all sorts of things... it's really common in politics in my state. Everybody supports public schools and state universities and improved roads and transit solutions and fixing bridges, but at the same time, I live in one of the most anti-tax states in the Union. You wouldn't know it to look at it, but it really is. We have in my opinion one of the most backward tax structures in the country; we're one of a few states that doesn't have an income tax, and we persist in relying almost entirely on a sales tax, despite the fact that revenue from that has been going down for decades. The closest we got to an income tax in this state was about forty years ago, and it was a Republican governor who proposed it. That should tell you all you need to know about how reality-based the people living here are when it comes to taxes. Everybody says that they support all the good things that society provides, but they never seem to vote that way, at least not in sufficient numbers to make these things a real priority.

    I guess, when push comes to shove, I'd pick the red pill after all. I was probably never going to be a world record holder, or even a state record holder, in any strength sport, and even if I could, I don't think it'd be worth it to be so fat that I had trouble getting into and out of cars and could not run for any distance. Hossein Rezazadeh and Paul Anderson and Vasiliy Alexeev obviously felt differently than I did, and they did some amazing shit, but when it comes right down to it, I'd rather be a Marvin Eder than a Doug Hepburn; and considering that Eder was actually about as strong as Hepburn on a lot of lifts and weighed nearly a hundred pounds less while about as lean as you could get in that era, I'd still say that's damn impressive, particularly when you consider that Eder didn't even diet.

    I got into this whole thing partly because I wanted to be strong, and partly because I just wanted to be healthy. I'd rather not die of something lame like heart failure or diabetes just so I could win some records in powerlifting or whatever. Anyway, thanks for all this. It kind of helps clarify things, and guides me back to the true path: get stronger, eat, sleep, condition. About as simple as a man could want it.

    I gotta say though, Paul, lately you seem to have really been chewing on your audience. Did you finally get sick and tired of the same idiotic questions week after week?

    1. This post wasn't even about the blue or red pill anymore. It's about the fact that I presented a simple question with only 2 options, and people couldn't pick one of the 2 options. Then they wonder they it is they think training is so complicated. It's not that training or getting strong is complicated, it's that people perform mental masturbation about a routine until they get paralysis by analysis.

    2. Paul writes a short blog about how dude's overthink this shit, you respond with a 1000 word missive about the fucking pill choice. Me thinks you missed the point.

    3. I don't think he missed the point at all, I actually think he enhanced it. The pill choice was meant to try to drag honesty and introspection out of people, but people are so resistant to being honest with themselves that they always want a 3rd choice because they just can't overcome their cognitive dissonance. Even when presented with a simple question that would really help them be honest with themselves they would rather simply not answer the question and protect their psyches from the realization that their goals are dihonest. I for one, am an absolute powerlifting fanboy and I'd pick the aesthetic pill hands down. I'd rather fucking be lean and awesome deadlifting 405 than be a fat piece of shit that can't even see his dick. But in real life, I'm still trying to be a version of Sam Byrd that can pass drug tests even though my body has been telling me for years that I need to fuck off with that and either get on heavy gear or fuck off with my stupid ass goals because I will never be able to total 2200 and be lean with my current diet/supplementation. And the worst part is EVEN AFTER I TYPED THAT I STILL DON'T THINK I WILL CHANGE ANYTHING. Which pisses me off to no end and makes me feel stupid as shit, because the only thing keeping me from fixing my broken-ass goals is pride; I don't want to feel like a quitter.

  4. Don't take this post as a "i'll take option 3" or "i'll do both;" that's not my intent. I chose the get in better shape and stop feeling sloppy option a while ago. I'm by no means at my goal (which as i get closer is a moving target anyway), but I've noticed that the leaner i get, the more i can handle. I haven't tried for any new 1RM PR's, but my conditioning has improved and has allowed me to handle my 80% (choose any percentage) set for more sets.

    This is just a long winded way of saying I feel as though i've gotten "stronger" while leaning out. As for what option i would choose, physique without a doubt. However, that doesn't mean you can't be strong like bull.

  5. I don't know what's more worrying: the fact that people can't decide between two options, or the fact that quite a few guys went directly for the blue pill. I think I understand the former group better.

    One would've thought the choice was simple... take red and get to 300/400/500 with no effort = win. To think that guys would prefer being unable to tie their shoelaces over getting laid and being moderately strong is terrible.

  6. I'd do neither. A gram of tren, then toss back a couple cheque drops on top of it. Seems legit...

    But really, red pill. Even as a powerlifter, I am somewhat of a vain motherfucker.

  7. I really appreciate the sentiment here. Everyone has a different take on lifting these days, and a lot of guys seem to get big doing some bizarre shit... As a beginner though, I have to sort of hedge my bets, and when a majority of the experienced guys keep telling people the same things... I begin to wonder why it all becomes so confusing.

    More to the point though- if people can't honestly answer the question you posed, I have to really question why the hell they're bothering? Why would anyone do something without purpose? I liken this to the modern collegiate institution. I can't believe some of the answers I get when I ask other students what their goals are concerning college.

  8. What I don't get is that people now think it's essentially shameful to work out with the sole intent of looking good. We're not all going to be world class powerlifters, so where's the shame in admitting you just want to look good with your top off?

    1. Yeah, there is no reason why you can't do both, I mean Paul talks about the guys from the 70's/80's all the time and look how strong and jacked they are. You don't need to be a 400lb fatass to get strong.

  9. Take a look at the other comments on your facebook page or other facebook pages of people who are sort-of well-known in certain circles. Most of the comments are much longer than they needed to be because everyone wants a chance to talk to the cool kid.

  10. We live in an age of instant gratification. And everyone sells it, or the illusion of it. Fucking weight loss pills, fitness gimmicks, get rich quick, the list goes on. It's just the mentality of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. Getting into great shape is simple, but not always easy. People want both! So of course if they have to choose between two options that have some sacrifice, well fuck I'll just take both because that's what I want.

  11. You know Paul this harkens back to the whole, "Well, can I do 5/3/1 but instead of actually following the program, I will squat/bench 5x5 with no deload weeks.". Those answers are the same bullshit that people pull that flipped Wendler off when people would email and ask if a "modified" version of his program would be ok. Either follow the program or GTFO.

    Just like being fucking pregnant. It is a YES or NO question. No kinda pregnant.

    Oh well, what do you expect from a society that hands out ribbons to the losing team for "participation" so their feelings don't get hurt. This is the bullshit that it spawns. Having it your way all the fucking time and never having to give a definitive answer on anything.

  12. Ummm...can I take the orange pill? (intended sarcasm) Why the fuck do people have to explain sarcasm or irony anyway?

    Anyhoo, I feel your pain brother, there are just too many thick people for you to convert Paul - they either get it or they don't. Speaking of dumb, I witnessed the most hilarious "spot" a guy was giving another. At one point it resembled gay porn - "all you brah" LMFAO.

    They were performing PBTN, go figure.

    1. Haha. That reminds me of the time i just started my clean and push-press session, I started a bit heavy with no warm up, so it looked like i was struggling to press it ,and this poser guy comes up to me and asks if i want a spotter. I was like "what, you want to catch the bar?" don't know how some people function. Think he just wanted to get close to me. :/

  13. One thing that is possible is taking both pills, just not at the same time. ;)

    When I was young, I would have gone for pure poundage. In fact I deliberately ate myself up to 300 Lbs as a junior. But I did bench 405, so AT THE TIME it was worth it.

    Now I'm 15 years older, 100 Lbs lighter (okay, 90, who's counting...), riddled with stretch marks, but healthy and somewhat fit.

    But yes, always focus on one thing, and one thing only. And don't overcomplicate matters. I have been guilty of this too. I got to a 405 bench by using very basic methods, applied very strictly for 7 years. Then I developed paralysis by analysis (damn you, Louie Simmons!) for the next 15 years.

    Recently things have been going great, bot in the gym and on the scale. Why? Because of Jamie's blog (sorry for posting the testimonial here, Paul...). :) From all the dozens and dozens of routines I have tried the last 15 years (really, at least 6-8 PER YEAR!), I have kept NOTHING. No knowledge, no strength, no results whatsoever.

    What got me back on track? Two simple rules:

    1. Eat less if you get fat, eat more if you get too small/weak.
    2. Try to break a PR (any type of PR will do) every time you get to the gym. 1RM, rep PR (could be anywhere from 1-30 reps), volume PR, ...

    Sad thing is, that I'm close to 40, and in better shape now than ever. Imagine the time I wasted doing stupid shit. Never again.

    1. The flipside of this is that unless you have really genetically gifted skin, once you get to 400lbs (the kind of fat Paul is talking about, the kind of fat Rezazadeh and D Thompson are) you will never, ever look good ever again. All the acne scars, stretch marks and lose skin will make you look like dogshit forever. I guess its still possible to take the aesthetic pill first and the fat pill after, but this is once again is getting away from the issue.

    2. Define "good". Yes, I have residual moobs, loose skin (upper back) and a stretch mark lifting belt. Yet I still look like a god among men when compared to the average 40-y.o. man. So it's all relative.

      And I don't agree with the premise that you can't get laid when you're severely obese. I was getting it on when I was 300+ (@5'11", bf probably 50+%). A good game (and $$$) trumps good looks any day of the week.

    3. The quality of the women you are laying matters. Just sayin.

    4. You're saying ugly-as-sin Hefner is only banging 4s and 5s?

      So many way to get the good ones in bed. Anyone who thinks looks is the only one is pretty sad. And I can't imagine how frightening the prospect of getting old would be then!

      I'll give you that fitness whores usually only go by looks. But then again: that's .01% of all women. And not even all of those are good looking.

    5. Looks matter. Let's not kid ourselves. They do. And not just with fitness chics. The fact is, a good looking in shape guy has a broader range of women than a fat slob ever will. That's a fact because it's human wiring.

      And Hefner had millions. You got millions?

      And the young Hugh Hefner wasn't a bad looking dude at all.

    6. Yes we all know whales can get laid by whales, and occasionally a very large whale can get laid by a significantly smaller whale with a self esteem issue. We also know about extreme outliers like Hugh Hefner who can have hookers on permanent payroll and even make them pretend they have a relationship. You know it probably costs him upward of $500 a day to keep each of those 3 main girls around right? But anyway I digress. The fact of the matter is if a regular dude like Rezazadeh lost weight at 45 years old, the best he could hope to bang is chicks that would make me puke. Also, he would look so bad he would make the average hot girl puke. Even though he still would probably look better than 90% of men his age, that doesn't say a damn thing. Don't compare yourself to averages; it is absolutely meaningless and fruitless to do so. If you had a 225 bench you are a "god" amongst average 40 year old men but that doesn't stop your bench from sucking a fat wang. Looks are important; it is a biological imperative hardwired into our brains. The only way to get around this is to pay women, like Hefner does. And unless you have as much money as him or Charlie Sheen, it would be really idiotic and un-manly to throw away your cash on glorified whores.