Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More winning with lower intensities

A Facebook friend posted this article up from elitefts.  Funny enough, it was just posted a few days ago during a time which I've been writing about base building and achieving maximum strength through lower intensity training.

From that article, some of the points that really hit home and also echo all the points I've been making about sub maximal training.........(though I obviously don't agree with the CNS points)

In many articles that have appeared on this site, major focus appears to be on the development of strength with the use of high intensity training programs. High intensity programs, however, are known to be notorious for burning out the central nervous system. This, in turn, creates excessive fatigue and lethargy, which prevents continuous training. Maximum strength is the key quality to be developed, but it appears that we need additional methods for developing maximum strength. Continuous high intensity is very effective, but for the most part, it is very limited and potentially injurious, especially to low-level powerlifters, as well as athletes in various sports, particularly football. Thus, we should ask if the commonly used high-intensity programs for developing maximum strength are the best. Many of these programs are great for producing gains initially, but at what cost to low- and intermediate-level athletes? How long does one stay on such a program and with what results? If you read most of the articles carefully, you will see that most writers admit that the gains are relatively short-lived or that they would hope to get greater gains from the program. In other words, any of these high-intensity methods may not be as good as many hoped.
However, as a nation, we seem to be more obsessed with maximum intensity as though it were the only way to develop greater strength. It has become the Holy Grail of training. Maximum intensity as the main factor appears to be erroneous thinking though.

Even the Russians found it more effective to use multiple intensity zones for the development of maximum strength instead of only one intensity zone, especially the high-intensity zone. In general, they found that intensities of 50–100 percent are all effective for gaining strength. Each intensity zone, such as 50–60 percent, 60–70 percent, or 70–80 percent, are all very effective for specific purposes. The key is to determine which intensity zone will give you the greatest return for what you are trying to accomplish. For example, the 70–80 percent of maximum intensity zone is very effective when doing multiple exercises for learning and perfecting the major lifts and the assistance exercises. In this intensity zone, you are capable of doing more work, which in many respects produces greater strength in time than if you only trained with a high-intensity program. In addition, it is less taxing on the central nervous system and thus does not create any negative changes in the body.

In some of my private discussions with Bondarchuk and other top Russian coaches, they all wish that they could have been a coach of U.S. athletes. According to Bondarchuk, we have the greatest athletic talent pool in the world, but we don’t turn out world record holders like we should be able to do. He believes that the reason for this is our obsession with maximum strength!

I love this article because one thing it does, is completely cement all the things that my own body and mind have been telling me for quite some time, but that I fought against for a while.  Mainly that is, I found during periods where I was forced to train well under what I believed was optimal, I could hit PR's relatively easily when I tried.  Where before, when I was always training to get more weight on the bar, I was always tired and beat up, got injured, and/or mentally dreaded training.  The latter part here plays into the REAL CNS issues I have eluded to in the past because of serotonin levels.  NOT because of the movement you were doing.

To add to this, everyone I know has sent me the video of Ray Williams hitting a pretty easy 905 squat.  

Ray's training for squats?  700 x 5 sets of 5.  He's done some heavier sets but for the most part, his training for his squat is 5x5 with what roughly looks like, roughly 75% of his max (925ish I'd say).  I saw some footage of the RUM this past weekend and I saw some guys, who are still strong guys, that hit either what they hit in training quite often, or less than that.  My question was "how well is your training working if you're just hitting what you do in the gym?"  My answer is, not very well in my opinion.  Regardless of what you lift, if your training doesn't make you significantly stronger on meet day than you are in the gym, you need to rethink what you're doing.  If you've been stuck at the same weight for a long time, why do you keep doing what you've been doing and training in the 90+% zone?  

As Dr. Yessis noted in that article, I've not saying nor ever have said that maximal training doesn't work.  It does, and it works very well.  But it only works for a short period, and it has far more dangers and drawbacks associated with it than working on lower intensity zones that also build strength just as well, if not better.  

If names like Andy Bolton, Mikhail Koklyaev, Ed Coan, Kirk Karwoski, and Sam Byrd don't hit home with you on these principles then I don't know what to tell you.  All of the guys I am helping with 365 are moving weights they were formerly struggling with because they spent the acclimation phase of the strong-15 moving really light weights and not burning themselves out.  

More base building articles next week!  

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Base Building Part 7 - Carb Backloading

I promised a while back I'd talk about how to incorporate carb backloading into your workouts.  Especially for base building, where the volume is high and demanding.  Obviously, carb backloading can be used with any training protocol you wish, however I could not train in base building fashion while doing carbnite.  There is too many reps and too much volume.  Not to mention, not eating any carbs all week is just a really shitty way to live after a while.

To start, some of my opinions have changed.  Mainly about workout pre/peri/post intake.  I've really embraced a lot of what John Meadows has written about it, and the science and research he's put behind his words.  I'm not much of a lab coat guy unless those lab coat theories have been put to the test.  This is another reason why I hate the mental masturbation crew and people that say dumb shit like "Paul comes to all the right answers for all the wrong reasons."  You mean that I don't come to a specific conclusion because of "lab geeks" and prefer real world anecdotal evidence?  Yes I do.  Because I rarely trusts those god damn "controlled environment tests".  Kiefer, Poliquin, and many others have touched on the fact that many of these research projects are "fixed" or at the very best disingenuous.

That's neither here nor there at this point.  My point is, I'm fine with research so long as it also has been used by athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters, etc and been proven to work outside of a research project.

So back to workout nutrition.

Some of the things that Meadows wrote about were actually things I used to do via my own thinking.

For example, I used to do my oatmeal and shake an hour or so before lifting, and later it was cottage cheese and rye bread with jelly.  I know that Kiefer says carbs beforehand are not really required, however Meadows wrote/said the same thing I did.  It's hard to train on low/no carb when you really want to train balls out and hard.  If you're doing some singles?  Sure.  That shit is easy.  Not a lot of fuel required for that.  However if you want to grow reps are required.  Don't give a shit about the debating of that.  Reps are required for growth, and so are carbs.  As much as I like keto diets for fat loss, and agree you can still hit reps early on in them, eventually the bottom falls out with only one carb up per week.  This is not an ideal environment for growth and strength in my opinion.  It's also a time when both lab rats and meat heads agree for the most part.  Keto diets are not growth producing environments.  If your goal is strength and mass, it's not ideal.

Let me also add that in the past, I never noticed much of a difference with the workout nutrition, however now that I don't eat a lot of carbs I notice a HUGE difference.  In recovery for sure. I am generally not as beat down and dead after a hard training session if I really go hard after the carbs post workout.  Again, I use clean carbs now, just with a high GI.  

So with all of that written, I will write about the options you can use with backloading and some of what I am doing now (which is still backloading to a degree).

I think one of the facets of backloading that is missed by most people is that you're not backloading to refuel glycogen stores from the workout that just happened, you're filling them for the next days session.  This is something I ended up figuring out on my own, even though Kiefer does spell it out in the book.  The problem is, most people think of backloading as something you do every night, which you can do, however I gained a ton of weight doing that because I can eat whole cakes then a gallon of ice cream.  This eventually adds to to a lot of extra calories (obviously), and for someone like me, who gains weight pretty easily, it's not very ideal.

If you're a skinny guy, it's obviously very ideal, however the one thing I have changed my mind on is loading up with processed food.  The whole point of doing so is for the insulin spike however  from a "health" standpoint, I think that loading up on things like white potatoes and white rice are a much better option than loading up on M&M's.  It gives me great pain to write that, however I will go more into that in a second.

So with all of that said, this is simply my opinion on how to use these methods in accordance to what you want to do, bodyfat/conditioning wise.

Fatass mode - keto/carbnite 

This is pretty simple.  You run a keto diet for 10 days, keeping carbs below 30 grams a day, then add in a carb up night once a week.  I'm not sure if anyone can make it any simpler than that.  Stay this route until you feel like you're lean enough.

Once you feel you are happy with where you are at bodyfat wise...

Maintenance/strength gaining mode - 

Although I am not anywhere near shredded right now (mainly because I have spent too many weekends eating all I wanted because of time with loved ones who also like to eat!) I am pretty ok with where I am at bodyfat wise.  Especially since meet prep starts next week.  To give you an idea, I was 249 this morning after quite a bit of rice and chili last night (sodium).  I am pretty bloated for me right now, as my weight has been around 243 in the morning, and more like 248-250 in the evenings.  I feel fine right now at this particular level of bodyfat, and with the amount of carbs I'm eating I feel just about right.

So this is where I am at with eating and using carb backloading.

I basically eat carbs almost every night now.  The amount of carbs, and the type of carb is what I have really paid more attention to.

The junk is now cut out, and my carbs generally consist of jasmine rice and white potatoes.  Sometimes I do sweet potatoes, however I've noticed that sweet potatoes bloat me more than I'd like.  So I avoid them most of the time now.

So I basically eat no carbs at all until pre-workout.  Which generally consists of 30 grams of oats, some peanut butter, and 50 grams of whey.

During training, I use Vitargo s2.  1 scoop, which is 70 grams of carbs.  I also mix in some casein hydro with it.

Post training, I eat 1 or 2 meals with carbs.  This varies on how hungry I am, and my energy levels.  So I might do a couple of pieces of Ezekiel bread with organic jelly and another 50 grams of whey, or I may just wait an hour and have 1-2 cups of jasmine rice with 8 ounces of grass fed beef or wild caught salmon.

Generally my whole day of eating looks like this -

Training day - 
breakfast - 4 whole eggs with turkey and cheese
lunch - 8 ounces of chicken breast with a handful of almonds
afternoon - 50 grams of whey and natural peanut butter
pre-workout - 30 grams of oats with 1 tbs of peanut buter and 25 grams of whey
training - vitargo s2 with casein hydro
post-training - 1.5 cups of jasmine rice with 8 ounces of grass fed beef or wild caught salmon
optional - 2 cups of cottage cheese with 2 tbs peanut butter

Non training day - 
All the same except no workout nutrition and only carbs at dinner.  Usually more white rice or white potatoes in a small amount.

My advice to most guys, after you get to a phase where you are happy with where you are at bodyfat wise, is to add in carbs ONLY to your nightly meal the night BEFORE you train.  I would start with 2 backloads a week, then increase after a few weeks so that you don't just blow the fuck up.

So basically low/no carb it all day then the night before you will have your biggest training sessions of the week, carb up all you want.  Just keep it clean but with high glycemic carbs.  This is not complicated.  I know there will still be eleventy thousand questions about "I work a night shift and rob banks during the should I..."

It's not difficult.  No carbs all day.  Carbs at night the night before your big sessions.

Once you get serious about moving your strength and mass back up, start adding in the carbs during the workout, and maybe 2 meals post workout.

So basically what the goal here is, to limit bodyfat while still being able to eat carbs to drive the hard training sessions, and enhance recovery.

Tailoring it to fit your needs - 

I answer a lot of questions each week, and the most annoying ones I get are in terms of diet and "if I eat X amount what do you think...."

This is something YOU must play with, to figure out.  It's not hard.  Use the mirror, and the weight scale.  Or really, just the mirror is fine.  Get your bodyfat checked if you really want to get anal about it.  I don't do that anymore as I feel like I can go by how my clothes fit, and what the scale reads in conjunction with that.  If I'm 250 and my pants are somewhat loose in the waist, I'm doing things right.  Simple monitoring methods work.  Simple adjustments also work.

Too fat?  keto until lean
Lean enough?  add in backloads the night before your big sessions.  Start at 2 a week.  Add in another backload if you feel you need it.
Too skinny?  Just eat a ton of clean foods.  Throw in a protein shake after each meal with peanut butter.

This is not hard.  Don't make it that way.  You basically adjust your carbs up or down based on your bodyfat goals.  If you need to shed fat, take em away.  If you want to get stronger and gain mass, add them back in appropriately.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Do work, don't bitch, fear not.

Do work...the productive kind -

Living in the entitlement generation drives me crazy sometimes.  It's not only kids that have a problem with instant gratification now either.  Reality TV, instant access to any and all information has drilled the habit into people that the things they want, can be given to them instantly.  Mainly at this point, information.  But isn't information everything anyway?  Information is knowledge.  Knowledge is power, and with knowledge and power you can accomplish just about anything you want to.  Within reason of course.  If you're not mean to play in the NFL and don't have the physical capability, no amount of knowledge and power is going to turn you into Lawrence Taylor.

So with so much information freely available, why isn't everyone leading the life they so desperately dream of?

The problem arises, when someone wants something and it's not so easily attainable.  It can't be clicked on in order to get it.

In other words, it requires work.

Let's take money for example.  Most people want money, and lots of it, or at least enough to be comfortable in their life.

So since doctors, especially surgeons, make metric assloads of money, why isn't everyone trying to become one?

Simple.  Because that shit is hard.

Because it's easier to buy a lotto ticket.  That shit is easy.

Most people don't have the things they want in life or in the gym, mainly because their "want" of something isn't strong enough to overcome their own intellectual or physical laziness.  This doesn't mean that people who don't want to be doctors are intellectually lazy, but it does mean that people who complain that they don't have what it is they want, aren't applying themselves intelligently enough in the pursuit of it.

Remember the rule about what is important in your life?  It's easily defined.

1.  Priorities 
2.  Level of effort

I harp on these two constantly because it literally tells you everything you need to know about what is currently most important to you.  Sometimes, we aren't always even aware of what's most important to us because while we may think on such things all day, our actual application to making something happen is negligible.   

If you can't describe your actions for #2 on the list above as "significant", then it's very possible that something isn't much of a priority.  People will ALWAYS work at something that consider incredibly important.  Always.  Even the laziest of people will work hard on something that's high on the priority list.  Many times, that means finding ways to continue to be lazy and not work hard.  But I guess that's something too.

However working smart is just as important.  In fact, often times, very hard workers can undo themselves because of overreaching, or overextending themselves.  I know a lot of guys that have no problem working hard and heavy, but haven't made any real progress in a long time because they have no idea when to back off, or understand that recovery is part of the training process too.

When I say "do work" it doesn't just mean to go balls out, hair on fire style work.  It means do work that matters.  Smart, thought out, and effective.  This applies for every facet of your life and training.  Smart and effective work will always win the day.  Hard work is a part of that equation.  It's just not the answer every single time.

However, if you expect it to fall on your lap or be a click away, then be prepared to be disappointed.

Which leads me to my next part.........

Don't bitch...unless you have a solution - 

I have no problem with people griping and long as they have a solution to their bitches, moans, and complaints.

Complaining is a lot like yawning.  It's infectious.  I've been in a lot of meetings where someone starts complaining, and then the majority of the room becomes infected with a negative energy and reaction to everything.

People will complain for hours, and offer no solution to the problems which haunt their daily life.  It's amusing to me.

I was recently in a meeting where my co-workers talked about how much they hated filling out paperwork, when we had a whole group dedicated to doing part of those tasks.  The complaints went on for more than 15 minutes before I finally chimed in and offered a solution.  The room went silent for a while and my boss goes "wow, that would work really well."  That solution is now in place, and there are no more complaints about this mundane task.  Had I allowed the infection to spread into my own brain, I would have become a bitch zombie just like everyone else.  I refused to do so because it's been a long standing rule of mine, to not have a bitch, moan, or complain without a solution to go with it.

Many people don't want to think of solutions because they want to be pitiful and simply have someone feel sorry for their woes.  I'm not sure what pity ever earned anyone, but whatever it was it didn't earn them what they needed most.  A lesson in overcoming problems, and searching for solutions.  Life is going to be a constant barrage of these battles, so it behooves you to not bitch, moan, and complain without a possible solution.  If your solution does not work, or isn't applicable, it is totally not against the law to apply a different one.

Many times in training, you're going to run against that awful wall known as plateaus, and complaining about not "making gains" is going to jack and shit in terms of getting you past said wall.....and Jack left town.  So you can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up fastest.  Without finding a solution, you're just going to be left with a shitty hand.

Don't bitch, but if you do, have a solution.  If you do have a problem, find a way.  Period.  Find a way.

Fear not...unless it betters you - 

There are a million quotes about overcoming fear, and dealing with fear, and the fact that fear is generally the thing that keeps you from taking a step into the unknown to conquer new ground and grow.

However the most poignant thing I've ever heard about fear was that "the majority of the things we fear, or worry about, never come to fruition."

I have found this to be so very true.  Even worse, is that we waste so much of our lives with our emotions entrenched in fear and worry.  So much time wasted doing something that only causes us stress, steals years off of our mortality timeline, and offers nothing in return.  It's a life sucking investment.  Literally.

Fear can be a great motivator.  Both in good and bad ways.

Fear of losing a brother in arms will drive a soldier to risk his life to save others.

Fear of ridicule, scorn, and failure will keep someone from taking on a great challenge.

It's the controlling of fear that is more important than being afraid.  What you do with that fear matters more, than the fact that it is there.  Most people worry because they feel it natural to do so.  However instead of letting that fear move them into a rewarding and positive direction, they generally let it suppress their life and hold them back.  This creates a larger debt of self doubt, insecurity, and lack of belief in ones ability to overcome things that don't come easy.

Waking up in the middle of the night to worry about something that you have no control over, does nothing to fix your existing problem.  My wife jokes about the fact that when we got married I once woke her up in the middle of the night to tell her "we don't have car insurance!"

Yes, that really happened.

Well as far as I knew, there weren't any places to get car insurance at 3 a.m. so I lost sleep over such a ridiculous worry for no reason.  What should I have done instead?  Made a mental note to myself, or verbal one to her of "hey we need to go get some car insurance tomorrow."

Problem solved.

This isn't a lot different than having a bitch about something in that, generally you can quell some of your fears by creating solutions for them.  If you can't create a solution for them, I have a flowchart you should use..........

I had someone look at this flowchart, and tell me "that's a cop out not to be accountable."  I do not agree at all.  The flowchart clearly asks you if you can do anything about it?  If so, don't worry.

No one has been able to tell me why this flowchart is wrong, and I think that's because people feel like if they are worrying, then they are actually doing something with that problem.  Problems don't go away or get fixed because they are occupying space in your mind.  All they do is take up space that could be being used for things like threesome sex with two hot women, Snickers ice cream bars, Fruity Pebbles, driving a Viper, and having a taste alcoholic beverage while being jacked and tan on the beach.

Do all of these things not sound better than worrying about some bullshit in your life you have no control over at the moment?  Yes, they do.  In fact, I believe that if you were to think of the following scenario when you go to worry, your life will be better.....

Have sex with two hot women (it doesn't matter if you are a man or a woman, sex with two hot women is always good)
go to the fridge, eat Snickers ice cream bar....pass out
wake up to breakfast and down some Fruity Pebbles or awesome cereal of your choice 
Get in your Viper, head down to the beach
Walk over to bar located at the beach.  Buy tasty beverage loaded with alcohol.  
Check out ripped and tanned self in mirror located in said bar.
Walk on the beach, giving zero fucks about problems and enjoying life

This scenario sounds much better to me than worrying about bills I can't pay with money I don't have.  A bill isn't going to pay itself so I guess my solution would be to let them know "hey, I have no funds.  I'll pay it when I can."

I'm not telling you not to worry.  You're going to.  I'm telling you, try to do the best job you can of managing that negative energy, into something that creates a positive outcome for you.  This may take some serious introspection on your part, in terms of finding a new way to divert that energy, but it's well worth it.  

Remember that most "absolutes" are generally worthless without a caveat that puts them into perspective.  You need to do work, but it needs to be productive and effective work.  You need to not bitch about your problems, unless you're doing so in order to present solutions to them.  You shouldn't fear, but if you do, use your fear to better yourself and to drive you to become a better lifter, friend, spouse, parent, or loved one.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Training - skwats

Bodyweight - 245 weight is coming down

Leg ext -

Got some extra reps in here.

Fronts -

Squats -

Notes - Felt awful.  80%er.  Not a -10% but very close.

My guest article at

Go read it here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Base building part 6 - Bottom line intensity

Something I keep scratching my head about in regards to what some people write or say about my training methodologies, is the lack of volume in my training, or my training principles.

Every time I read this, I am completely confused.  Perhaps because I am dumb founded by the fact that a guy that thinks he did 15 singles (15 total reps), thinks he trains high volume, then calls my training "low" or "moderate" volume after a workout in which I have done 200+ reps.

I think volume can be a very misunderstood thing sometimes.

Volume isn't just sets, or just reps, it's about the total volume of work done.  It's everything.  It's both the weight lifted, the  intensity used, and the amount of sets and reps used in those intensity zones.

We could get really confusing an throw in frequency as well, but I don't want to do that.  Let's just stick with volume.

I think what you have to distinguish is, where does "volume" start?  If you're a 500 bencher, does your 135 warm up count?  No?  Why not?  Most people say "because that's too light".

I'd tend to agree.  So the answer is, where does the weight on the bar become relevant enough to be considered worthy of helping us get stronger?

The myth of 1 top set -

For many years, I did the "one big set" thing.  It works.  Let's get that out of the way right now.  I hate it when people say that you can't train that way and get big and strong.  You can.  Period.  It's tough for sure.  I don't train that way any more because eventually going balls out on one top set will start to suck the life and love of training out of you.  Well, it did for me.  Especially if you don't know how to manage your real intensity, or perceived intensity.  Doggcrapp was a very productive way of training for me for a two year period.  However after I took my last break from it, I was never able to "get up" for that kind of training again.  I dreaded it more than Adam Lambert dreads vagina.

The real issue is, is 1 top set REALLY 1 top set once you get to a decently strong level?

Let's take a look at a couple of bodybuilders training routines, from video.

bodybuilder a - 
Incline Press -

Hammer Strength Press-

Incline Flyes -
2 sets

Cable Crossovers -
1 set

bodybuilder b -
Flat Bench -

Incline -

Decline -

Bodybuilder A is of course, Dorian Yates.  Bodybuilder B is Ronnie Coleman.  Yet Ronnie had the rep for being a really high volume guy, and Dorian the ultimate low volume guy.  However, throughout training discussion people consider you a "low volume guy", if you only do 1 set with your heaviest weight.  This makes ZERO sense to me.  Ronnie did "3 top sets".  Dorian did 4.

Let's clear up some nonsense.

Your total volume isn't defined as something as simple as how many sets you did with your heaviest weight.

Both Dorian and Ronnie worked up to 1 "top set".  However Dorian really minimized his warm up sets.  Ronnie did a lot of warm ups, especially rep wise (I didn't list his reps because he did so many and I didn't feel like counting).

So while they both did one set with maximum weight for a movement, Ronnie undoubtedly did more volume work than Dorian.  You know why?  Because those "warm up" sets count.  At some point they start counting, anyway.

Capt. Kirk said that he generally did 1 working set during his heyday.  However, on the days he was working up to 800x1 for his max single with no belt, no wraps, how did he get there?

Just a guess, but maybe.......


So, for the "he's a low volume guy", they only count the 800x1.

"Well if he were a high volume guy he would have done a bunch of singles with X amount of weight."

So does only the top set count?

Where to start counting volume?

The key in understanding volume, I think, lies in a pretty gray area.

Namely, total tonnage and intensity.  Both real and perceived.

Kirk based a whole part of his meet prep on working up to a max set of 8.  His best single was 800x1, and his best set of 8 no belt, was 655.

That's 82% for 8 reps in a top set.

On the flip side of that, you have Sheiko, the Russian powerlifting method.

So where do you start actually counting what is "work" and what's just warming up?  This is the question not a lot of people ask when they start talking about what counts towards volume, and what does not.

One thing I do not like, and have tried many times, is "technique work" for lots of volume using really light weights.  Like 50% and less.  In other words, that "speed" shit you hear about.  I'm not a fan.  I don't think you can "get faster".  I know, I know.  Some other coach disagrees.  That's fine.  If you can get faster, I think it will really be negligible.   

Jason Pegg and I had a conversation about this a few times, and he noted "I'm fast.  If I make a lift, it looks fast and easy.  I can't grind shit."

Of course, someone who knows better would want to tell Pegg that "well you need to practice grinding".


Some people are grinders, and some people are fast.  I honestly don't think you can transform your very maximal lifts into one or the other.  In fact, some people grind everything.  While others like Pegg, make everything look fast.

I think it's a waste of your time, to work on trying to make yourself become something your body is not wired to be.  Like the Samoan who has 9" wrists and is strong as fuck trying to become an Ironman athlete.  Much like the Johnny cochran Chewbacca defense, it makes no sense.

Go with your strengths.  When you concentrate on nothing but improving all of your weaknesses, at best, you can make your weaknesses mediocre, while your strengths take a dive because you've been neglecting them.  Use your strongest tools to become a champion.  Don't waste all of your time trying to bring your weaknesses up to average Joe status.  Because that's about all they are going to be.

If you're a fast lifter, you're going to be fast.  If you're a grinder, don't spend hours and hours doing needless "speed work".  Just get stronger.  This keeps shit simple.  You should be using all of your "warm up" sets to practice being as explosive as possible anyway.  If you're not doing that, start doing it.  Then you save yourself one of those ridiculous "speed days" in the gym.  That's good training economy.

Back to volume........

In Sheiko, you squat and press twice a week and pull once a week.  Generally speaking.

In Shekio 29 for example, you squat twice a week every week.  Over the course of a month you use anywhere from 70% to 85% for multiple sets of reps.  No singles ever (how do those Russians get so strong not working at 90+% and not living on singles?).

To add to this equation, let's add in Prilepin's table.

According to the table, below 70% STILL has some merit.  So can we get stronger using less than 70% of our 1RM?

My immediate answer would be "yes of course".  However, it would all depend on how you trained that particular intensity zone, what movement, and the volume you used.

This is not any different than the higher the reps get, the less they generally come into play with your 1 rep max.  Going from 22 reps max to 28 reps max may not have a very big carryover to your 1RM for that movement.  Going from 6 reps to 10 reps will undoubtedly have tremendous carryover, unless you're some kind of strange twitch mutant.  Anyone that turns 85% of their 1RM (roughly 6 reps) into roughly 75% of their 1RM, got stronger.  Strength training is that simple.

In that same vein, training below 70% may get a little iffy in terms of what you can do with that, to increase your very top level strength.

So where I am going with this is, the less than 70% zone probably has merit in some way for getting stronger.  But for kicks and grins we can safely say 99% of the time, that 70% is the bottom line for what will always be enough (minimally) to use in order to get stronger.

Prilepin lists the 70% range as needing 24 reps for being optimal.  Since I'm all about being optimal 24 reps can be split in a lot of different ways.  But just to keep shit easy, it's 25 reps.  Hey that's 5x5.

What did Sheiko do with 70% when it was used?

Week 1 - note - in Russia it's 60%5repsx2sets

day 1 - Squat - 50% 5x1, 60% 5x2, 70% 5x5 (lookie!)
day 3 - Squat - 50% 5x1, 60% 4x1, 70% 3x2

Week 2 -
day 1 - Squat - 50% 5x1, 60% 4x1, 70% 3x2
day 3 - Squat - 50% 5x1, 60% 4x1, 70% 3x2

Week 3 -
nothing on day 1
day 3 - Squat - 50% 5x1, 60% 4x1, 70% 3x2

Week 4 -
day 1 - Squat - 50% 5x1, 60% 4x1, 70% 3x2
day 3 - Squats - 50% 5x1, 60% 4x1, 70% 3x2

Now this is kind of disingenuous because outside of week 1 and day 1 of week 3, there is always work done after 70%.  We won't go into that because what we are trying to find here, is the bottom line on volume.

I think it's clear from both Prilepin's table and Sheiko, that the 70% is in fact countable towards "strength building".  If that is what we are after, then it's probably important in the grand scheme of your programming, to take your 70% work into account towards your actual volume.

Treat your 70% work as REAL work.  I'm not sure where the idea that strength work only happens after 80% when 70% and 75% see as much love as the 80+% range in the Sheiko programs.  So understand the value of 70-75% in your programming.  Not only can you get stronger using that range, but it is probably less impacting on your recovery.

So back to Kirk's totally made up sequence for working up to 800x1.

If he did something like that, warm up wise, anything at 70% or over could be considered as meaningful work.  Well 70% of 800 is 560.



All "work".  So if you buy in to what I'm selling here, then Kirk was still getting good solid strength work for 5 sets here.  Not one.

Is he meeting Prilepin's table for optimal?  No.  But working up to a true 1 rep max isn't really strength building for the most part.  It's strength demonstration.  But when you look at all the work that Kirk put in for weeks leading up to that, he clearly spend most of his time in the 70-85% range for reps.  He's probably not going to meet the "optimal" range for volume, however he made up for it with perceived intensity.  In other words, he worked his ass off.

Some people might want to debate the semantics of this back and forth, and that's fine.  The mental masturbation crew has to have something to do for the day.  The point of it all, is to understand the starting point for where you can train, and still get stronger without having to "wing shit" in the gym, or wreck yourself recovery wise.  Not having a plan is never a good idea.  Understanding that for the majority of us, the bottom line of where we can get strong, is incredibly important in programming design.

The most important part of all of this however, is deciding what speaks to your training soul the most.  Some guys really love working up to a single ball busting set, and trying to break rep PR's week in and out.  Other guys really like hitting the volume and sort of milking their way up the strength ladder.

Let's get some bullshit out of the fucking way here.  They both work.  Science can suck my dick.

Are there big, strong, jacked dudes that train low volume with high PI?  Hell yes.

Are there big, strong, jacked dudes that train high volume with intensities all over the map?  Hell yes.

However drawing a bottom line for your "base training" can be very helpful because you can line up months and months of productive training, without needing a layoff or deload because of physical aches and pains.  I think most people eventually need mental breaks from the gym, however the body should always feel GOOD.  You should not be digging yourself out of a recovery hole because your body is always beat down.  

For the guy that competes twice a year, the 70%-75% can be an area for the great majority of the months would be incredibly ideal.  The other great part about this is that when prepping for a meet, even less time would be required to peak.  Possibly 4 weeks instead of 6-9.

But that's an entirely different article.  Hah!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Training - CNS burnout and a fried CNS wins again!

Ok so last night, I deadlifted....poorly.

I couldn't get a set of 4 with 550.  I got 3 and missed the 4th.  No shit.

Obviously, my CNS was fried as fuck.  Time to do something different or add some bands n chains n whips and midgets.

So yes, no wait, I didn't do that because IT'S FUCKING DUMB.

I went to the gym this morning, and did a workout AND conditioning for 30 minutes.........then this evening I did this at the gym.

Stiff legged deadlifts -
500x8 ties PR?

Regular Deadlifts -

fuck it.........


Sumo Deads - 405x3,3,3

Cable Rows - stack x 3 sets of 10.

Yes, obviously my CNS was totally fried last night, when I couldn't pull 550 for a set of 4, then smoked 635 tonight so fast it had whip a the top.  Obviously CNS burnout is real.  I should have changed movements but on the ride to the gym, I decided on a whim to pull the stiff legs.  And I think it tied a PR.

You don't believe in the easter bunny do you?  No?  Ok, stop believing in shit like CNS burnout because of an exercise.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

If you want to reach your goals, don't sing it...bring it.

It's no secret I despise hipsters.

I hate them with a fervor that is almost shameful.  Who grows a beard, wears hand me down thrift shop clothes and then carries a fucking iPhone?  

Where are the Vikings when you need them?

But what really bothers me about them, is their smug attitude that because they sit around and talk about "things that are important", they somehow are far more intellectual than everyone else, or that they somehow make a difference.  

Here's the clue in.  They don't, and all their conversations don't make a fucking difference either.  Because talking about shit, never got shit did.  Yes, that's bad grammar on purpose.  

They didn't join the Peace Corps for a year.  They didn't venture down to the soup kitchen to feed the homeless (maybe to steal their clothes or beards).  They didn't join a team that is part of cleaning up the inner city.  They talked some politics, laughed over "ales" or coffee, and pretended like it makes them a better person for "caring".  I mean seriously, who the hell talks about world peace?  

This is why I hate them.  They are physically lazy blowhards who idolize themselves as the "greater good" because they think they care more than everyone else.  It's horseshit.  

You know who the greater good is?  It's the little ol lady who spends her Sunday at the homeless shelter taking care of Vets or others that are legit down on their luck.  

It's the guy who took a year off from school to go build orphanages in third world countries.  

It's the guy who gets out of his truck to help that little old lady cross the street in traffic.  

Ok let's be honest, I'm not being fair to hipsters.  They aren't the only ones who simply ghost walk through life, talking about all the things that really matter yet never lift a finger to change their life or environment they live in.  The prick driving the Prius isn't helping the environment, he's just being lazy.  If he wanted to make a change in his current environment he'd get out and pick up trash off the side of the highway.

Most people, MOST, never do the things they talk about "wanting" to do, or the things they would love to do, out of fear of leaving their comfort zone.  This is an old and tired cliche, so I won't expound any more on that.  That's an entirely different article.

Rather, I'd prefer to ask a question.

When did "what you do", stop mattering?  

When I was into following bodybuilding, I knew lots of guys that trained in the gym, and ate 6 times a day, and did all the things bodybuilders did, except compete.  Yet they still choose to call themselves bodybuilders.  

Here's the thing.  Until you diet for X number of weeks, do the spray tan, fill out your entry form, and step onstage with salad dressing slathered all over yourself, you're NOT a bodybuilder.  You're no more a bodybuilder than the guy that puts together the shitty entertainment center from Target is a carpenter.  Taking some cell phone pics in the gym bathroom after you've got a good pump, then posting on Facebook about how you were "killin it at the gym" doesn't make you a bodybuilder either.  

Until you get on the platform and squat, bench, and pull a total, you're not a powerlifter.  

You're not a cop until you are able to legally don the badge.  You're not a lawyer until you pass the bar.  You're not a hooker if no one is paying you for the sex.  You're not an MMA fighter until you have some kind of W/L record in a legit fed.  I've trained with MMA fighters and I'm no MMA fighter.  It takes a whole different level of commitment that I was never able to give, in order to be called one.  

You see, these things are earned.  And they aren't earned without actions.  In other words, someone had to DO something, rather than talk about something, to BE something or become something.  

What you DO defines who, and what you are.  If you murder people on the third Sunday of every month at midnight because your bag of demon possessed skittles told you to, you're a fucking serial killer.  You could also be the janitor at the local community college while you're doing this as well.  So guess what?  You're both.  

What we say defines what we think or believe, but our actions defines who we are, or what we define is most important.  

I wrote earlier this week..........

"If you want something bad enough, you'll peel your flesh off in order to obtain it. It doesn't matter what it is. Whether it's a job or a relationship or whatever it is, if you truly care about it to the very depth of your soul, you will sacrifice whatever you must sacrifice in order to see it come to fruition."

If you love someone, it can't be enough to think it, and say it.  Your love for them should be tangible in your actions.

If you have committed to something, it's not enough to talk about it, or say it.  In fact, I watched a video earlier this week where the speaker talked about studies that showed, if you spoke about your goals, you would be less likely to actually achieve them.  You see, you get a similar feeling in the brain from speaking about achieving goals, as you get when you actually do them.  So the level of commitment wanes.

Maybe it's time to stop speaking of all the things you want to do, or the goals you want to achieve, and actually store them away in your mental vault, and let your actions do the talking.  I feel like in the past I've talked way too much about goals I've wanted to achieve and then inevitably, not always been able to get the job done.  There's no one to blame for that but myself.

However, I wonder if it ever occurred to us while we lament over not reaching goals we held so dearly, that we may have short circuited our own efforts simply by speaking about our passion for them.

In short, don't sing it...bring it.  

Stop talking about the shit you're going to do, and DO shit.

I often laugh about one of my old fight coach's favorite sayings after we would whip someones ass.

"Talk shit now."  he would say.

All the shit talking in the world didn't stop a punch or throw a combination.  Eventually, actions did all the talking.  

If you want your life to matter, and you want the things you are passionate about in your life to come to fruition, then guess what?  Death is winning....don't SAY something.  DO something.  What did you think my motto meant, anyway?  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Training - Press

Bodyweight - 247

Close Grip all paused bench -



Flex Machine Rows - 7 sets of 8

Notes - I really felt the bottom drop out on that last triple with 365.  Though I will admit this was not a bad session for having had the stomach virus all week.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I constantly get asked about my background music

Since I train with my oldest, we pick music together.  I am not one of those fucking metal or music elitists that think that "only the shit I listen to is metal." then say "that shit you listen to?  I don't know what it is.  But it's not metal."  I hate that fucking attitude.  It's music.  I played it for 20 years.  I like and respect all kinds so long as you write it, develop it, and play it yourself.

I remember people hating on those kids Hanson? (I think that's right) but I thought to myself, at least they are playing their fucking instruments.  They were little kids.  What were they supposed to be playing?  Shit that would make Cannibalism Corpse shit their pants from fear?  Seriously people.  

I also hate when assholes tell me "your music sucks."  Then they put on some shit that sounds like two cats getting ear fucked by polar bears.  Yes, your taste in music is absolutely exquisite.  Where did I go wrong?

Here are some of the mainstays that Hannah and I listen to together when we train.  This is not going to blow your ears off or make Satan appear at your door (if he does, I will take credit for it somehow).  I like to listen to music that my training partner likes too.  Training is our time together and I want it to be something we both enjoy.  Part of that is finding that common ground for music we can bother tolerate.

Buckethead - Soothsayer

A7X - I won't see you tonight part 1   6:30 mark is what this song is all about.

KSE - Hope Is - This might be my all time fave.  At the 2:18 mark you kind of get a chance to "ready" yourself.  Then at 2:44 it picks back up.  When Howard lets out that scream at 3:05........god damn.

A7X - Nightmare  Hannah loves this song.  F bombs and all.

Skid Row - Quicksand Jesus  I was a big Skid Row fan in my youth and I loved the Slave to the grind album.

Disturbed - Indestructible  Another pick by my training partner.

Lamb of God - Walk with me in hell - If LOG doesn't fit "metal" to you, then you're just being intentionally obtuse.

Lamb of God - Ghost Walking

In Flames - My Sweet Shadow

Trivium - Into the mouth of hell we march   Another fave of mine.

Trivium - Pull harder on the strings of your martyr

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Earn this edition

I think everyone has seen Saving Private Ryan.

The most poignant scene in the movie for me, is at the end, where Captain Miller tells Ryan..."earn this."

Ryan, as an elderly man, eventually visits the grave of Captain Miller, and says.....

"Everyday I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge; I've tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that that was enough. I hope, that at least in your eyes, I earned what [you] have done for me."

Ryan's insinuation there, is that he lived his life, trying to earn what everyone else had given up to save him.

More on that in a minute.......

I haven't followed football as much the last few years as I did in the past.  I only caught the second half of the super bowl for the most part.  However, even as little of attention I have paid, I have seen two stories that pretty much well, make me sick.  And that's saying a lot because I write this suffering from norovirus.

They are both centered around a couple of guys making money.  Or rather, not being able to get paid accordingly, for either potential, or because of a single good season (not even a full season at that).

The first one is about Colin Kaepernick.

Basically, because of the new agreement with the NFL players association, he's stuck with the contract he signed as a rookie until after the 2013 season.


He helped the 9ers to a Super Bowl in his second season, yes.  But the whole point of the new deal that was made a few years ago by the NFLPA, was that rookies had to EARN big contracts, and not get them based on either college potential, or single good seasons.  Kaepernick didn't even start for the entire season.  And as we've all seen in the past, lots of guys have tremendous single seasons only to be average or shitty from there on out.  Especially after they get paid.

I find it amazing that for years people complained that rookies made far too much, or that guys with only 1 good season ended up with too much leverage in negotiating for a big contract.  Now, we hear the whining that he can't cash in on a single good (part of) season.

That's GREAT!

You mean he has to prove that he's not a one season wonder before he cripples the franchise with a huge contract??!?!?  WOW!  What a novel idea!

Let me also add that ESPN wrote this piece of shit "story" and that ESPN sucks more balls than Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick combined.

only 9ers QB to ever throw a pick in the big game

Of course, this article was written before the Super Bowl.  You know, the one where the 9ers lost.  And if not for the blackout probably lose big.  I say that because before the blackout, the Ravens had all the momentum, and the 9ers seemed obvious in how to stop them.

The second article is about Jadeveon Clowney (seriously?  You named your kid that?).  A defensive end at the University of South Carolina.  Basically he can't enter the NFL draft because of the three year rule that says you can't enter the NFL draft until after three years from when you leave high school.

So wait, you mean playing in the NFL isn't a right?  It's a privilege?  And like many jobs, there are requirements that go along with said privilege 

Get the fuck outta here!  No way?

Yahoo sports Michael Silver-dildo wrote this shitty article, about how Jadeveon (seriously, that's his fucking name) should lawyer up and challenge that rule.

I hope he does, and I hope he gets his ass handed to him in court.  I am so tired of the sense of entitlement in this country.

What happening to earning and proving your worth?

This attitude is prevalent in almost everything I read about these days.  People want everything now, without having to wait for it, or earn it, or understand that there may be "due process" involved in those things.  Whether that be lifting, life, or professionally.  The generation I see in front of me now does not like having to wait for anything.  I can understand why.  Technology has played a big part in that.  So has TV.

Anything you want to know now, is at your fingertips.  You can apply for jobs, grocery shop, do your banking, and virtually anything you need in life without ever leaving your home.  Reality TV takes people who do regular jobs and turns them into celebs overnight.  No years of acting required.  No time spent living hand to mouth and honing the craft of acting and doing tons of shitty gigs in order to get a break.  Hey, I work at a pawn shop, I should be famous.  That's how far we've slid as a society.

Why should I have to adhere to rules or regulations when I get my way about everything?

How many times have I fielded the question of....

"I want to lose some fat, but I don't want to lose any strength.  How should I go about that?"

Ask Mark Bell how that's working for him.  You can't shed a bunch of slop, and get stronger.  I have no idea why people believe you can do this.  If you're a fatass, and you got to your strongest ever by becoming a fat ass, then when you stop eating as much and start to go into an energy deficit, you're going to get weaker.  Jesus Christ on a cracker, stop bitching about losing strength because you're having to pay the piper now for being a lazy fat fuck for so long.

"I want to get bigger and stronger, but I want to get ripped too.  Will this routine work?"  

Routines do not make you big and ripped.  You know what does?  Consistency, effort, and a long period of time.  Some of you are the lifting versions of the two football guys above.  You want so little gym time to pay off big into making you jacked and strong.

"I've been working out for 2 years.  I don't understand why I'm not big. jacked, and strong!"

I have no idea where this sense of entitlement came from either.

I have written about these things more times than I can count, yet I still get questions every single week by guys who wants to "shed some bodyfat, but not lose strength" and "I wanna get big, but I don't wanna get super fat."

I have outlined the parameters on how to go about this, about eleventy million times.  For some people, I suppose it takes just one more time.  Or a hundred more times.  I have no idea.

I wrote 365 so that guys (and gals) could understand that laying out a single year of good training will be far more beneficial than winging it from week to week, and month to month.  Also, a single year of training, in the grand scheme of things, is not that big of a deal.  Almost 25 years of training for me now, and I still have goals to reach.  Why is it that you think after 3 or 5 or even 7 years that you should have hit the pinnacle of where you need to be?  Training is supposed to be about goals, but it's also supposed to be about lifelong journeys and understanding the lessons you learn in the gym aren't just about getting jacked and tan, they can also be about becoming a better you.  Learning to be long suffering in your quest for attaining something special is a great quality to develop.

When you stop expecting to wake up tomorrow to your dreams, you can finally enjoy the day that has currently been given to you.  Even if you have exceeded expectations, it doesn't mean you're automatically entitled to more than what you've actually earned.

Back to Private Ryan......

If the movie were made today, I can see Ryan standing on the bridge with Captain Miller telling him to "Earn this" and Ryan going "hey fuckwad, my three brothers gave their life so you could be here.  My mother lost three sons.  That's not earning it enough?  I'm going to post on some message board about how you think that I still need to earn this even though I lost most of my family, you fuck.  If anything, I'm more pissed that you didn't bring me a fine sandwich to eat when you got here."  

Of course some will be outraged that I insinuate that, but all you have to do is ask yourself, when is the last time you believed that the reason you aren't where you want to be in your life, or your training is because you simply haven't done the things to earn that yet?

Happy love/sex/romance day

This quote is a fave of mine.  So while I sit here in the house, suffering from norovirus throwing up and all those around me doing so as well, I offer this up as a reason why we take chances and fall in love and get our hearts torn out in the first place.

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
Louise Erdrich

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Base Building Part 5 - Assistance work

In the last installment of base building, I wrote about not fucking around with your time in the pit.  To make sure that you are getting your work in, in a reasonable time.  No one is training "hard" for two hours.

One of the things I have moved towards in recent years, is doing as little support or assistance work as possible.  Basically, people look at assistance work wrong a lot of the time.  It's supposed to do 2 things, for the most part.

1.  help the primary lift
2.  keep you healthy

By "helping the primary lift", I mean it helps by making the musculature involved in it stronger, or it actually gives you direct carryover.

To be honest, I don't think that the latter exists THAT much.  Of all the shit I have done, I have found that incline helps my bench go up, and elevated stiff legs make my deadlift go up.  Squatting makes my squat go up.  I am finding that front squats are doing a nice job of giving me some punch out of the hole.

Outside of that, I LIKE to do other lifts to improve/increase the muscularity involved in the big lifts, however I haven't found that assistance work is a key in getting stronger DIRECTLY, on the big lifts.  You can literally just squat, bench, and pull your way to bigger numbers for the most part.  Of course, the caveat to that is that at some point, your size ceiling is going to limit your strength ceiling, and doing other movements to "grow", can be a lot more fun when you're only been squatting, benching, and pulling for months on end.

I absolutely do not believe in shit like doing board presses to "help the lockout".  If you can board press 10 pounds more than you can bench press, then that is NOT a weakness.   Think about it for a minute.  It might come to you.

This doesn't mean I don't think that support work isn't important.  It is.  However most guys throw together a not very well thought out programming scheme for their big lifts, then spend all of their time wondering what magical assistance movements they will add to make the main lifts go up.  It just doesn't work like that.

A very simple way to know if your assistance work is actually working is like so.....

1.  I am getting stronger on the assistance work
2.  My main lift is going up as well

Generally, this is a fairly decent indication that whatever you are doing for assistance work, is helping the main lift.  If the assistance work is going up, but the lift you are doing it for isn't, then it's not working.  I don't know how else to say that.  It's not really even an argument.  The whole point of assistance work is for it to make the main lift improve (or keep you injury free).

I see assistance/support work as falling into two categories.

1.  The primary support work, that you will focus on progression with
2.  The secondary support work, that will be done for a lot of reps, to keep you healthy, and add some mass

Since I like to pour my hour-of-power into mostly the big lifts, what I have started doing is throwing back in my small sessions early in the morning.  Afterwards, I do 30 minutes of steady state.

But let's start with what constitutes primary support work -

Primary support work is generally another big, compound movement that you will push some form of progression on.  It could be the 350 method, or it could be something you do 1-2 top sets for, trying to set rep PR's on it.

This should be a movement that you test for a while, to see how the main lift responds to it.  Again, if you are getting stronger on the primary support work, and getting stronger on the main lifts, it's working.  If you are getting stronger on the primary support work but NOT on the main lifts, it is not.

Your training time should be spent working on the main lift, then the primary support work.

That's it.

Base your time in the gym around doing those two things.  For example.....

Day 1
Bench - base work
Primary assistance work

Day 2
Squat - base work
Primary assistance work

Day 3
Deadlift - base work
Primary assistance work

Again, the primary work is to drive the main lift.  The other great thing this layout does is that you don't have to wonder what is actually working.  You are limiting your training to two movements for the most part.  You will know if it's working.  Confusion negated.

The other part of assistance, is the "staying healthy" part.

What I do now, is do this work fasted in the morning, then do 30 minutes of cardio.  Generally, I rotate in some of the following movements...

upright rows
cuff work
abductor/adductor machine
leg curls
ab machine
tricep rope pushdowns
calf work

I generally pick 3, and just go to work for 20-30 minutes.  Usually sets of 15-20 in a circuit style fashion or, not.  It all depends.  Really, use the bodybuilding approach.  Try to get the most wicked pump you can get in that 30 minutes or so.  I throw in 100 rep work here as well.

I do small workouts almost every morning too.  I have found that so long as you're staying light and really pushing the blood flow, you're not going to impact recovery.

The small sessions along with the steady state work are enough to increase work capacity for the big sessions.  You need to use this time to get in better shape.  So move fast through the circuit, and then push the steady state at a solid pace.  I go to 4.2 - 4.5 mph.  I do not take a leisurely walk.  Make it count.  You're not going to be able to get in all the work and volume you need to on your big sessions if you just aren't in good enough shape to do so.  Even with the intensities being lowered, if your conditioning sucks, the work capacity won't be there.

This is how I have been using all of my work to compliment each other.  The small sessions and steady state help with my work capacity for the big sessions.  During the big sessions, I keep it simple and work my volume and base intensities and generally one primary assistance movement (sometimes two if I missed a small session or am just feeling froggy).

Remember that every facet of your training should have a meaning and purpose and compliment the other parts.  Nothing should ever be done without a very specific reason.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Training - Light deads

Bodyweight - 250

Hypers - 8x12 bodyweight only

Deads - 225x3,3,3,3,3

Notes - Low back feels achy and I think my piriformis and IT band need some TLC.

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Birfday partay edition

This past weekend was a joint birthday party between myself, and my good buddy Phil Stevens.  We planned this about a month ago and I knew after all of the "confirmed" invitations came in, that it would be a hell ride.  More than 30 people in my small house was going to be quite the affair.  I also knew that, because all my friends think I'm an alcoholic (that's sarcasm), I'd end up with more liquor AFTER the party that going into it.

As the party went on, one of the young ladies that came with Phil's group asked me what my overhead press was.  I told her it was around/over 300.  She asked me if I had pressed any people overhead.  I was perplexed by this question and thought she might be tricking me into something with witchcraft.

But she was serious.

So, after being shown how to do this properly (mainly by the person that is going to be pressed) the "people pressing" began.

I pressed my wife first.  Funny enough, she was the lightest adult I pressed but one of the most difficult because the person being pressed has to get very tight in the legs and clasp their arms together tightly, in order to make it as efficient as possible.  She did not do so.

After that, my buddy Jon pressed his wife but did so for 3 reps.  This irritated me.  I thought we were only doing singles.  So I then pressed our friend 4 times.  After that, I ended up pressing the female that started this whole pressing debauchery, for 10 reps.

I thought this was pretty much it, however about 15 minutes later, Phil came up to me and asked me if I was ready to press a man.

Phil is over 270 right now, and the biggest I've ever seen him.  I won't lie, I wasn't sure if I could press Phil.  It's a very awkward "lift" and pressing 275 on an evenly loaded barbell is not the same as pressing a floppy Phil.  Yes, that sounds terribly gay.

But we are men, and we're stupid.  So it had to happen.

In the pic it looks like my buddy Jon is holding me steady, however he was merely just playing "spotter" in case you know, I couldn't do this thing.

The clean was actually the hardest part.  Phil has to remain stiff (see, more gayness) so getting him into position was very, very difficult.  Though it doesn't really look like it on the video.

The press part was actually not that hard.  I think I might could have done a triple with him if I had known the press part wasn't going to be as hard as expected.  I'm not saying it was easy, because it was not, but a double was definitely doable.

Anyway, if you don't have LRB on Facebook (that's a link for it BTW), here is the side view vid of it.

To add to this, I had pressed 315 for 6 sets of 5 earlier that day on incline.

Which brings me to the real training portion of this "Thoughts about..." section.

All of this very low intensity training stuff is still driving my lifts up quite nicely.  I was incredibly tired for that particular workout, but the 315 for 6 sets of 5 was still like speed sets, and that was after a very solid triple at 365.

I'm basically working it out to account for 80% workouts, +10% sessions, and -10% sessions.

Why I hadn't thought of this long ago, I have no clue.  The body doesn't run in a linear fashion when it comes to energy (sleep, food, stress, etc).  So why shouldn't be able to have contingency plans for when the body is "normal, "up", or "down".

I will be detailing this more in the next Base Building installment.

I'm off today and already running behind so that's it for today.  More on base building with varying intensities later this week and some info how I've been getting all of assistance work in.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Training - Press

Bodyweight - 250

Incline Press -

315x5,5,5,5,5,5 ( 6 sets of 5)

Rear Delt Machine - 7x12

Notes - Tired as HELL.  Not much sleep.  The great thing about the options I have with the base build scheme is that I have workouts based on how I feel on that particular day, so I can get the most out of each session.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Training - Light Squats

Bodyweight - 250

Leg Extensions -

Fronts -

Squats -

Pause Squats -

Notes - Stupid good session.  The squats were virtually jump squats.

Base building part 4 - Stop milling about

I get asked quite a bit how long it takes me to get in all the volume I do in a workout.

Almost never more than an hour.

I think the strange thing about that question is, I have so many people that say I'm low volume, then other people are surprised at how much work I get done in an hour.

First off, I am not "low volume".  I think some people think this, because I might only do 1 or 2 sets at a certain weight sometimes, however they also miss all of the work done up to that point, and then after it.

I also think that it's hilarious that I do between 200-300 reps in a total workout, and I get called low volume because a guy is doing "10 sets of 3".  30 reps.  Thanks for doing 10% of what I do, Mr. "High Volume".

But just for kicks and grins, let's say that anything in the 60% range and above counts as work.  Because I believe that it does.  My deadlift workout two nights ago had me doing 405x3,3 then 500x3,3.  After that, I did 550x5,5,3.  I broke the bar down and then did 2 sets of 8 on elevated stiff legs with 455x8.

That's 10 sets of WORK, on pulling for 41 reps.

After that I did a total of 65 reps for shrugs (I was pretty tired at that point).

This is NOT low volume training.  On my "light" pull days I do anywhere from 5 to 7 sets of doubles or triples at around 365-385.   So I guess it all comes back to what you define as "work".  If it's whatever you use for your heaviest set, then I might be considered low volume to the guy that does a bunch of singles with his top set.  But if I did 13 singles with 550 would you consider that "high volume"?  Most would.  Yet I did the same amount of reps, just in less time.

Which brings me to my point.

One of the things I consider paramount in making base building work for you, is the time you take between sets.  The "hard ass" crew will tell you some such non sense such as "you're in the gym to lift, not to do cardio".  Which I agree with.  You're also not there to be a lazy fuck either.  Unless you've just done a 20 rep set with maximum weight, you don't really have any excuses for milling about the gym for 5-7 minutes between singles, doubles, threes, fives, whatever.  I don't need a stop watch to lift weights, however I constantly try to push myself to get more work done, in less time.  If you want to make lower intensities work for you, this can be a very key ingredient in making it happen.

If you read the Sam Byrd write up, one of the components of his base training was that he pushed to do his 5 sets of 5 with 425, in 15 minutes or less, with every rep being as explosive as the first one he did.

A few weeks ago I did Ironradio and Phil talked about the fact that when he just missed his 804 pull, the heaviest pull he used in that whole training cycle was 625.  One of the concepts discussed was that if you could go from pulling 545 for a hard 5 sets of 3 in 25 minutes, to pulling 545 for 5 sets of 3 in 15 minutes, with every rep fast and explosive, did you get stronger?

Well, hell yes you did.  You did so through progression.  Yes, progression.  Doing the same amount of work in less time, is still progression.  Progression isn't just weight on the bar, or rep PR's.  It can also be doing that 545 for 5x3 in 15 minutes with ease, rather than 25 minutes of Rikers Island shower style brutality.

Since I have an awesome training partner, this is how fast I go between sets.

Warm ups, are back and forth pretty much non stop, very limited rest between sets.  So if I am warming up with pulls at 245, then she's usually warming up with 135.  I will pull doubles or triples until 245 feels like an empty bar.  That's generally my gauge of when to move up.  I then repeat this with 305-315.  Doubles or triples until that feels like the bar wants to fly through the ceiling.  Again, it's back and forth, only resting maybe 10-15 seconds before I grab the bar again.  So I pull the triple, set it down.  She takes 10 seconds to set up, pulls a triple.  I then take 10 seconds or so to set up, pull a triple.

So a time break down of this is like so.....(rough estimates)

5x3 @ 225 = 50 seconds of rest between all sets.  3 seconds for the triple.  65 seconds.
3x3 @ 315 = 30 seconds of rest between all sets.  3 seconds for the triple.  39 seconds.

If you include throwing another plate on, add in maybe 3-4 minutes to do that, and take a few deep breaths.

That's roughly 6-7 minutes or so to get in 8 warm up sets.

After I go to 405, 500, and 550, my rest periods between sets are a little longer, but no more than 2-3 minutes at the very maximum.  Generally loading and unloading the bar accounts for the longest periods of not lifting.

A while back I had a guy e-mail me to tell me that doing squats and deadlifts in the same workout seemed impossible because it was taking him damn near 2 hours to complete it.  I told him I could do squats and pulls in about an hour if that's all I was doing (less warm ups for deads AFTER squatting).  He didn't understand how, until I told him that I basically only rested long enough to put a plate on, or wait on my partner to do her set.

I can't figure out for the life of me, why guys want to rest for so long between sets.  I'm in the gym to work.  Not check my phone or talk or sit around until I "feel recovered" for my next set.  Yes, I need to catch my breath, however I don't need a "full recovery" of all of my facilities in order to get back under the bar and knock out a set of 5.  I mean seriously, we're not talking about sets of 15, 20, 30 reps.  We're talking some doubles or fives or 8's.  This should not put you down for such an extended period unless you're just a sad sack of shit, conditioning wise.  If so, you know what you need to correct.

The more work you can get done in the gym, in an appropriate time, the stronger you will get.  This is not an area most guys ever venture into because they believe more weight on the bar, is the ONLY way.  Eventually yes, the bar has to get loaded, however as I've documented from lots of strong guys, you want to hold off on these times as much as possible, and venture into that area as little as possible.

The LRB motto is to "be strong, be in shape".  Using the lower intensities should allow you to get the work in, with less rest. In fact, it's a very instrumental part of base building if you want it work correctly.  Over time, increase the load, but don't move up in load or intensity until you can manage that amount of volume quickly, and explosively.  This is a sure fire way to continue to get stronger, without sacrificing recovery or needing to take a no-deload deload.  Open your training mind enough to know that training maximally means training maximally intelligent.  So use your brain, and not just your balls.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Training - Heavy Pulls

Bodyweight - 250

Deadlifts -


Elevated Stiff Legs - 455x8,8

Db Shrugs - 140's x 20,20
Barbell Shrugs - 315x5, 405x5, 500x5, 585x5, 635x5

Notes - Nice session.  Everything felt easy and fast.  Would have liked to have gotten 3 sets of 5 with the 550 but the third set had slowed considerably and I didn't want to start grinding reps.

Monday, February 4, 2013

How the hell did I get here?

As I came to a stop at a red light on my drive in to work yesterday morning, I peered out of my drivers side window to notice a teal blue mini van beside me.  Driving it was a "man" (if you could call him that) who was eating some kind of very large ice cream sandwich type deal, "for breakfast" I guess.  He was wearing a pink scarf and yellow sweater vest.  I assumed by the aforementioned environmental standards that he had set in place, that he was also listening to Michael Bolton's greatest hits, or some Kenny G Christmas music.  As he drove through the red light I noticed on the back of said mini-van he had that collage of family stickers so many mini-vans have on them now.  You know what I'm talking about right?  The dad, mom, three kids and a dog.  The only thing believable about this was that he might have had a dog.  Because there's no way I want to believe that some woman with a working vagina would have mated and reproduced with that.  Nor do I believe he could have.  Having sex would have taken time away from catching up on episodes of "The View" or doing some paint by numbers.

Seriously, how does a "man" get himself into that position?  I'm not saying all men have to be giant truck driving-cigar smoking-beard wearing-beer drinking clones to be men.  But I wondered how the fuck he got there?  Did it dawn on him as "How am I supposed to live without you?" blared on his overpriced factory standard sound system?

"Mmmmmmm, love these ice cream whatevers....fuckkkk soooooo good.  

Jesus it's cold out.  Glad I've got on this parakeet yellow sweater vest and salmon scarf.  

Love this Michael Bolton shit the wife left in here.  

What the fuck am I talking about?  Hope no one can hear it.  I hate my life.  I've got on a fucking yellow sweater vest and a pink scarf, driving a teal minivan and listening to Michael Bolton.  I hope a sniper is zeroing me in right now for a dome shot.  I used to bang Heather Johnson, two time homecoming queen, over the hood of her dad's Smokey and the Bandit limited edition trans am!  I threw five touchdowns passes in the biggest game in high school!  How the fuck did I get here?"

I think it's funny that people read this, and get offended because they have a "live and let live" mentality.  Shit, I do too.  If that guy loves his life, that's awesome.  However my "religion" doesn't stop me from judging people on the surface either.  If you're fat, I might assume you eat a lot of really shitty food.  If you're skinny with no teeth, and sores all over your mouth, I may assume you are a meth addict.  I will not assume if that guy in the teal mini-van getting misty eyed listening to the ol Bolton jams has really high test levels.  I can just about bet money that if he got tested he'd be well below the norm.

Self explanatory 
People think that's judgmental, and maybe it is (ok so it is, that's fine) however I always wonder about such things.  How the fuck did he/she/me/it get in that position?  What all bad decisions had to be made in order to arrive at that awful stench of a destination?

No one that knows how to work the Google machine or interwebs is impervious to such witchcraft.

It goes something like this....

Google:  love seats for sale
looks at list of places selling love seats
catches interesting link with tidbit about man dying on love seat in Vegas lounge
sees pics of vegas lounge......thinks, "Looks good there!"

Google:  best lounges in Vegas
reads reviews on lounges in Vegas, reads one review about how ol boy got hooked up with two women at the same time at this one lounge at this certain hotel.

Books trip to that hotel.

Goes to usual porn website and looks at porn with two chics and one dude.

Google:  most absorbent tissue paper
Scribbles down the most absorbent tissue paper
Takes nap....can't remember what was supposed to do for wife earlier

Anytime I see one of those crazy pics on Facebook or someplace on the interwebs, I wonder "what all bad decisions landed this person in a position to get a pic snapped like that?

For example...........

How does one find themselves in this position?
Now that eye bleach is in order, how in the hell does that apply to training?

Are you kidding me?

If you've lifted long enough, you will eventually find yourself in the physical or training metaphor that exists in the pic above.  Long, silky hair that belongs on no one and plunger nips.  Yup, that's where you will be.  Wondering why it is you've been doing the stupid shit you've been doing, why you are injured, why you are skinny fat, or fat, or skinny, or weak, or all the things that fly in contrast to what your goals were just a few months ago....wait, that was years ago!  Holy shit, all this time has gone by and I've totally remade myself over into something that looks nothing like what I envisioned!

Not to stroke my own cock, but I thought I asked some pretty solid questions of Capt. Kirk in last weeks podcast.  Kirk's answers were basically....

  • I squatted to a top set of 8 over 6 weeks, then added a belt.  I then squatted to a top set of 5, and added some gear.  I worked up to a top double or triple from there, with a little play.  
  • I ate a lot of clean protein to get lean.  When I was bulking I ate a LOT of clean food.  
  • I had a manual labor job, so that took care of cardio.  
Simple.  Worked.

Kirk never deviated from this.  This WAS what he did.  It's what he used to win world championships, and become one of the greatest powerlifters of all time.

The issue is, these things are too simple for most, or they flat out don't believe the answers.  Thus, they start plugging in shit to Google, and start travelling down a training path that eventually gets them injured or telling stories such as this......

"I was doing some basic shit like a year ago.  Fuck man, made good progress then I started fucking around with blah blah blah, lost all my gainz and sizez.  I don't know where to go from here.  Fuck.  I used to fuck Heather Johnson too....."

I get e-mails that scream loudly to me, the start of this mode of thinking.  It goes something like this....

"I really like your program.  I used it with great success (Borat) for months.  I was wondering about adding in some circus tarzan flipping through firey hoops a few times a week as a dynamic mobility warm up.  What are your thoughts on this?"

My thoughts are the same every time I read this.

1.  Why are you changing shit that is working?
2.  Why are you asking me?  If I thought that was the missing link, and I knew about it, I would have added it in there.  I'm not trying to keep anything from anyone!

The longer I train, the less and less shit I do.  The less shit I do, the stronger I get.  The more I emphasize recovery, the stronger I get.

Training wise, I used to be that guy in the fucking teal minivan.  I need that Michael Bolton playing, because someone else left in the CD player.  I need that fucking yellow sweater vest, because it's cold out.  I need that pink scarf for the same reason.  I like that fucking ice crame sammich thingee for breakfast because well, it tastes delicious and I like that shiz.

Life and training gets way the fuck out of whack if we don't try to maintain a sense of simple balance at times.  The next thing you know, you're doing a fucking saftey bar squat to a high box with bands and chains for singles.  And you wonder why you don't look as jacked as the one guy who "just comes into the gym and deadlifts heavy for reps and does some heavy inclines.  I don't get it.  Shit like that only works for mutants!"

Well, you can exclude yourself from the mutant pool once you start losing sight of what got you banging Heather Johnson in the first place.  Banging out a set of 8 in the squat, bench, and deadlift with some heavy inclines, abs, and curls and little else never put them in a fucking canary sweater vest.

I have to beat the horse about staying on the path every now and then, but I get tons of e-mails from guys every week who feel like they have lost their way in training.  When that happens, try to remember what you did that worked very well for you, and I will bet you money 9 out of 10 times it was just keeing shit simple.


I hope that song is stuck in your head for the remainder of the day.