Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Dead horse cat whiskers edition

I didn't train last night AND I carb back loaded two nights in a row.  Tisk, tisk, tisk.  How very fucking naughty of me.  I was just beat down and overly fatigued, and I have found when I am like that, it's best to just rest up and go at it another day.  I used to fight this because I thought it was the lazy mans attitude, and maybe it is, however after all these years it's pretty obvious I love to train and am not the lazy man, thus I listen to my body.  5 cinnamon rolls and half a box of cocoa krispies later, I went to bed and passed out quickly.  Thus letting me know, my decision was correct.

As I've been posting more and more stuff on base building and quoting guys who ended up finding all the same shit I found (namely, that you don't need to train very heavy to get incredibly strong) a lot of beginners and intermediate types are asking if that would work for them.  Yes and no.  It can work, however as I've noted, your beginner and intermediate years are the times where you're going to benefit the most from pushing the upper limits of your intensities, because you ability to recover will be greatest.  So push hard and heavy for reps during those times and take advantage of not being strong enough to have a shit ton of weight on the bar.

If you are a noob, do the "go heavy or go home" route and stop thinking you're ready for this approach and asking questions on how to implement it.  I now feel Dante's pain of having to tell noob after noob that they wouldn't benefit from doggcrapp training because only advanced guys would REALLY know how to work it properly.  Noobs are the god damn worst about wanting short cuts.  You'd think the 20 year guy, who has slaved away would the one bitching about someone giving him a shortcut, but it's always the fucking 3 plate squatter wanting to know some shortcut.  Jesus tap dancing christ.

Let me also add, that people "read" what I write, then ask....

"So how much weight should I add the next week?"
"So should I just keep adding reps until I can do 10?"
"How will I know if I got any stronger if I don't max?"

....yeah, that's how I feel.

Guys still aren't getting adding more and more weight to the bar out of their head with this approach.  They literally get in a fucking panic.

"OMG how will I know if I'm stronger if I didn't add weight to the bar?"

Honestly I've been in this camp.  I CAME from that camp and method of thinking, but it's evolved because I flat out don't think it's the most optimal way to train.  Not once you reach the same plateaus over and over again.  The body eventually tells you that you're either going to need to create more muscle mass or train very methodically for a long period without much down time.  You know what that's called?


So how do you know if you got stronger, or if you're getting stronger?  In yesterdays blog entry Sam talked about blasting through PR's by not putting weight on the bar for months and simply getting more explosive with a weight, and getting in the same amount of work, in less time.  Did he get stronger?  You bet.

The other very interesting point that both Mikhail and Sam made, that I can very much identify with, is that when training is explosive and you're crushing weights week in and week out, you intuitively KNOW you're stronger.  It's kind of a hard thing to explain, but Mikhail even went so far to explain that you could look at a weight and it would "look" easy.

I know exactly what he's talking about, but I've just never written it down because it almost sounds like Witchcraft.  However, instinctively, I know when I'm good for something.  Again, I had tards on message boards tell me I couldn't know this based on what I was hitting in training......then went out and did it and of course, they weren't happy about it.  Just another reason message board twats suck.

You should be able to know what you are capable of, within reason, by the way you are moving certain weights in training.  This does not require maximal intensities.  If you can blast 635 off the floor in the deadlift for an easy triple, 700 is pretty much in the bag.  You don't need to actually pull 700 in order to be strong enough to pull 700.  If that makes sense.  Yes, to say you ACTUALLY pulled 700 you need to pull it, however in order to train for a 700 pull you don't ever need to actually attempt 700.  This is something most American lifting methodologies have not grasped, because our egos are large, and our thinking can be small.

I think for the next installment instead of writing about the backloading portion of training like this, I may just give some bulletpoints.

So for guys that run the strong-15, I tell them to program light, and they are always amazed at how light.  When they listen, they destroy PR's at the end of it, and are shocked by that, and I can't understand why.  I've written this so many times, isn't the whole point of being in the gym to NOT miss lifts, and to build strength?  In 9 weeks of training how many times do you think you can keep hitting 1RM PR's?  Yet so many guys go in week in and week out and grind away.  Then wonder why in a few weeks they stall, and go backwards.  I've been writing this a lot lately, but then without fail someone will write me and tell me they did that exact thing, then completely NOT grasp the concept of training at lower intensities.


Fear.  We need reinforcement that we can lift actually lifting it.  So if we haven't done it, we "fear" we cannot.  The point of training in this manner, is to build confidence that you CAN lift it.  Eventually the fear is erased.  What I think happens with many guys, is that they spend so much time training near max, that they have a lot of misses.  So instead of being confident in their training and the outcome that it should be giving them, they "fear" what it has given them in the past.  That is, just as many misses as PR's.  Think about it, if you only PR'd at meets, and rarely missed, how confident do you think you would be in your training and/or taking on new PR's in a meet?  However, if you missed all the time in training, then missed in meets, why are you talking about how awesome training like that is?

I feel like I'm rambling but my point is, the longer you can train productively, the stronger you will get, and the more you will improve.  The problem most guys have, is that they want everything in 4, 5, 6 weeks rather than 6, 12, 18, 24 months.  Think about this, if you could train injury free without ever taking any time off, and you never missed a lift for a year and a half, and become incredibly explosive with 80% of your max for reps, would you have gotten a metric fuckton stronger?  YES!  Without a doubt!    

Ok I've beaten that god damn horse into cat whiskers.  Which means it gets at least two more installments.

I'm working pretty hard on getting a special guest for the podcast.  Should be epic and it looks like it will happen.  A good buddy is helping me out with this so I'm be very thankful if we can get this together.

I will be on Ironradio today to talk about the USSF with Phil.  It will be available to listen to sometime during the week.

That's all folks!


  1. "Why?... Fear. We need reinforcement that we can lift actually lifting it. So if we haven't done it, we "fear" we cannot."

    That strikes home, particularly where I was last year. I went from a 425 triple being possible most days to being pinned by 405. Even after my meet where I should have been able to hit that number and more, the repeated failures at missing that weight kept me from trusting my technique and actually doing it.

    Fear can be a difficult thing to overcome, but unless you have a stream of small but ever increasing successes you won't have a chance. There will always be a lingering doubt.

    Honestly, between everything I've read here and in your ebook, and the consistent success of a friend of mine using sub-maximal training I had determined to fix my noob mistakes. That guy trained for months with his squat in the 300s before he squatted 500 in a meet. That's what sold me. I didn't want to believe it, but there was the evidence right in front of me.

    Another friend of mine (same age as me) was using Texas Method and kept slamming into a brick wall trying to bench 300 for the better part of a year, while the friend I mentioned before sailed passed that number easily.

    Being able to get where I've gotten in such a short amount of time is good, but my 40 year old body can't keep up with noob training anymore. My brain is evolving a little slower than my body it seems. The most important thing at this point right now is crushing fear one _good_ rep at a time. By the time I get to my next competition I'm pretty sure I will be able to smash some really good numbers.

    Who knows, even if I get my target reps this cycle of Big-15, I may repeat the weights on most of the lifts and practice for more explosiveness. That kind of echoes what I read a 700lb squatter wrote about squatting big numbers--if you aren't explosive you are going to miss the lift.

    1. Yup. The issue is the method of training that has been beaten into most american lifters heads. Go heavy all the time and test your maxes. It's dumb. And counterproductive.

  2. Paul

    I think a distinction has to be made between an 18yr old noob and a 40 year noob with little or no athletic background. From my experience I feel the older guy would generally benifit more using the higher rep low percentage approach. Your thoughts?

    1. Maybe. He's still going to be weak (the 40 year old) so him pushing his own 90% isn't alot different, if he's trying to get as strong as possible. He might have to manage his recovery a little different yes, but he'll still recovery faster than you'd imagine because he's just not going to be moving much weight.

  3. This approach has worked for me for a long time. Recently though I've had trouble approaching higher intensities. I was able to squat 370 for 11 but could barely get 455 for a single when I tested my max between cycles. Do you ever have that problem? I've gotten great at repping but not so great at lifting heavy when it counts. Just curious as to what you would to do combat this.

    1. What that sounds like is you shooting for nothing BUT rep PR's, and lots of times that inhibits you from being explosive. It's 2 very different kinds of training. With that said, that sounds mental to me more than physical. Also, some guys need to acclimate to rep PR's before they carry over to singles. If you've not done ANY singles then the transferable strength may not just "be there" when you ask it to. This is why peaking for max singles generally works well.

  4. A new podcast? Awesome! They're always fun.

  5. Hi Paul,
    I just wanted to say that since I started putting your philosophies of reps, reps and reps for strength, as opposed to endless singles, in play, I've seen some great strength gains.
    Over 12 weeks, my weighted dips have gone from +20kg for 7 reps, to 20 reps, and my OHP from 50kg for 8, to 55kg for 11. I'm still setting easy 2-3 rep PRs while dieting, and this is possibly the fastest I've progressed since I first started lifting.
    Just wanted to say thanks a ton for opening my mind and getting me out of my old '90%+ every day for strength' mindset.
    Also your strong-15 squat cycle is da bomb.