Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Meet Training - Week 9 - Pressing with a HUGE PR

Bodyweight - 255

Press behind the neck -

315x2 PR
225x16 PR

upright rows - 110x5x10
Pushdowns - stackx5x10

Notes - Tried to bench last night but my pec tendons and elbows were just killing me.  I mean awful.  For my own psyche, I decided to go in tonight and do some heavy overhead work.  Well, it paid off.  Even though I was tired as fuck, I hit 2 PR's.  315x2 and 226x16.  Felt pleased about this.

Winding down

This is week 9 of meet prep and well, I'm toast.

I think I could have gotten by with 7 weeks and been more "phresh", however to use one of my most hated sayings...it is what it is.  

I hit everything I wanted to hit already to be good for what I want at the meet, however this week is playing havoc with my mind because so many personal things are wrecking my shit, and because of how beat up I am, I'm not moving anything with the kind of speed and power I was a few weeks ago.  

So at this point, it's all a mental game.  I will probably still do some training this week, and then shut it down after Thursday.  I have two 90 minute massages booked, which I am looking very forward to.  

If I could have done anything a little differently during this cycle it probably would have been to go even lighter than I did.  I still did not push things heavy, however even when you program light, after 8 weeks or so without a break, you start getting very crispy.  

My left VMO is slightly strained, but I'm not overly concerned about it as I did some light front squats Sunday and it felt ok.  So I should be ok there.  

More than any lift I am worried about my pull.  It was coming along just fine, and now I sort of feel like the bottom has fallen out a bit.  Don't ask why, as I think I could have pulled 605x5 from a deficit last week pretty easily.  Still, not having it move with the kind of speed that 585 moved with the week before has fucked with my head a bit.  

I may do some heavy overhead work tonight, and some lighter db bench pressing.  Next week I will do some light pressing on maybe Sunday and then take the next 5 days fully off.  

Every meet is different, and every cycle is a little different but that's the ebb and flow of training.  

I have a couple of plans in place in case I don't feel like my planned goals are there at the meet.  I should still come away with a PR total regardless.

Hopefully I will be able to give a full write up day by day in Chicago.  

Want to thank everyone who has been supportive of me recently.  I appreciate all the words of support and encouragement.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ten Thousand

10,000 hours.

That's the amount of time that was insinuated by Malcolm Gladwell in "Outliers" that it takes to become an expert.

If you want some quick maths (with an "s", yes) that's about 2.7 hours everyday, for 10 straight years.

That's a decade of doing something on a very consistent basis, without much in the way of breaks or time off.

That's what it takes to become an expert.

Oh except that this article here states that many people with 10+ years of experience sometimes get worse at their shit, or actually don't even reach "expert" status.

I can most definitely identify with that article when it comes to the medical field.  Younger doctors are almost far more aware of advances in medicine than the older docs I've had to deal with.  I think what a lot of that article speaks to me however, is just good ol complacency.  People often get bored or sleep walk through their jobs for years, then find they haven't grown a whole lot in the way of knowledge or critical thinking.  Everyday they repeat some mundane task or perform routine checks and balances and get accustomed to doing something a particular way.  Growth and knowledge then come to a screeching halt.

"I'm really not sure what that is.  Hang out here while I go look it up on webmd.com"

They end up doing "just enough".  This is what most people end up doing in life, relationships, and careers.

Just enough.

The bare minimum.

You can keep a job with the bare minimum or by doing just enough.  You can cruise by all sorts of things in life by doing just enough to "get by".  However, this is how 10K hours can pass and someone not be any better at their craft than they were at 1,500 or 2,000 hours.

Instead of being too "rambly" or going on and on so much that someone falls into a blog induced coma, here's the skinny.

10,000 hours to become an expert.

But just because you have the 10K doesn't make you one either.

My opinion is that you need the 10K AND you need to constantly show you are improving in some kind of way.  That your skill set is improving or evolving, and that growth never ceases.  

I think a great example to give here, for a person that logs the 10K but generally continues to learn and improve, are martial artists.

There is only one guy at the top, and if you want that 10th dan, then you have to constantly work on improving your art and your ability and demonstrate that to him or her.  You must get better in some way, or some improvement.

The confusion here lies when people try to identify as "better".

The very seasoned martial artist that is in his 50's or 60's isn't going to be able to kick ass like he could have when he was in his physical prime.  However he may have grown tremendously as a teacher, or in the way he runs his business/dojo/school.  Those are the things maybe his/her instructor is looking for, and not their ability to tear a limb off and beat 4 other students to death with it in under 7 seconds.  Thought, that would be cool, and horrifying, to watch as a student under their tutelage.

I work in IT.  And information technology is a very fast moving field.  You really have no time to rest on your laurels or you'll quickly find yourself out of a job.  You have to grow, or your career will die.  If you don't show an aptitude for learning or growing your skills, you will be gone.  Someone who wants to do that will replace you, and quick like.  It's that simple.

How you choose to evolve is up to you, however it is important that during the journey on the way to 10K that you are able to identify strengths and weaknesses to improve upon, and make decisions that will expedite that process.  It's important that you show a constant betterment of yourself, whether that be physically (at least until you reach your genetic potential), educationally, or through a demonstrable growing knowledge base.

Essentially, you need to grow your knowledge and ability level, and never feel like it's ok to rest on your laurels.  Don't get lazy, don't get complacent.  Fight that shit with the fury of a thousand women who have been confined to the kitchen.  Set goals you work towards achieving and have standards for an "every day basis" way that you "work".

In the meantime, if you don't have the 10K hours it takes to become an expert, it's probably a good idea to have a tall glass of shut the fuck up juice before you start trying to dispense "expert" advice.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Going beltless in life

After my beltless training article last week, I got to thinking about some of the responses I received from it.

Lots of guys came to the understanding that getting stronger in a position where they were weak, would in fact help their training from a long term standpoint. Turning a weakness into a strength would benefit them greatly, but it also meant eating a huge slice of humble pie in the process. 


So often I am amazed at the parallels between life and the iron.

With the belt on, lots of lifters feel "secure" and "able". They can pile more weight onto the bar, do more reps, feel more capable.

Taking the belt off, removes all of that security and forces one to acknowledge weakness. It can't be ignored when you start loading the bar.

I read some remarks where clearly guys made excuses for why they would not remove the belt. Or some guys commented that they "only belted up for the heaviest sets", as if that makes any difference. Leave it off for those "heaviest sets" then. See what happens.

When life starts getting to the "heavy sets", it's very common for us to reach for our belts. Some people close themselves off from communication. Others hide their pain behind jest. Some people lie and manipulate.

Some people refuse to trust, or commit to something.

Everyone has their own unique belt.

Feeling vulnerable during the "heavy sets" is not a feeling most of us welcome with open arms. We shy away from it because we've been under that bar before, and gotten buried beneath the weight of it. We condition ourselves to put that belt on when we see more plates being added, because we feel it will protect us.

When the belt is removed however, we get exposed in ways we aren't very fond of. Our shoulders don't seem as broad anymore, our backs are not as sturdy, and our integrity under the weight shakes and eventually we fold like a deck of cards.

Removing the belt is often too difficult for some. The pain or embarrassment of exposing a weakness can be too much to bear. Some just can't take the feeling of being that vulnerable.

Others make the choice to do so, because they acknowledge that fixing a weakness now, means greater strength later. It also means reshaping what the belt means. Instead of being a crutch, we shape it into something new. Now the belt accentuates our strength, and is no longer a crutch we hide behind.

We make a choice to trust.  Angst is removed.

We make a choice to be honest.  Anxiety is lessened.

We make a choice to communicate.  Needs become known or acknowledged.    

We make a choice to forgive.  Anger is removed.

We can make a choice to stop hiding behind jest or self deprecating humor.  Who we are can  be seen more clearly.  

We make a choice to take off our belts, and become something stronger.

Subjecting yourself to your own weakness will always be difficult. Overcoming that, will always be worth it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meet Training - Week 8 - Squats and tugs

Bodyweight - 255

Squats -


Deficit Deads -


Stiff Legs - 500x3,3,3

notes - felt like shit.  everything felt off and heavy.  my body is really beat up at this point and I'm just glad to get this one out of the way.

next week is the last week of meet training and I may not squat more than 550 or even 500.  I've already hit what I need to hit for the meet.  I may pull heavier next week however.  The deads felt totally shitty tonight.

LRB Shirt appreciation day

“Until you run out of pages, there’s still room to write an epic ending.” -- Kevin Ngo

I feel like this so echoes the "Death is winning..." motto. 

Until you've taken your last breath, you always have another moment, another day to improve upon.

Quick Friday testimonial

Hi Paul,

Just a quick note about 365. I started it 4 weeks ago and I am in the first week of Phase 2.

I am flabbergasted.... I just did day two and have never had a strong bench but this morning i put up 285 like it was 185!! For the AMAP I did 225 for 19!! Yes 19!!! I know this may not seem like alot to you but holy CRAP!!! I am so pumped and so grateful for you for this program. Never felt better physically or mentally.

Thank you very much Paul!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The history of fad dieting, carbs, fat loss, and calories in vs out

In the last two days I've seen this study twice about higher carb intake and fat loss.

In this article,  Alan Aragon discusses it and also gives a nice long layout of the fads and trends we have seen in regards to dieting and nutrition in the fitness and strength world over the last few decades.  

If you want a high level overview it sort of goes like this...

  • Bodybuilders in the 70's ate low carb and got lean
  • Bodybuilders in the 80's and 90's ate high carb low fat and got lean
  • Bodybuilders now days, do some of both and get lean
With that out of the way, what I wanted to really address was the study done.  Basically, the study tells us that carbs or no carbs, the total number of calories consumed is what drove weight gain or weight loss.  We've only seen studies to support this notion about eleventy billion times.  

Basically, if you eat too much you get fat.  If you eat less than you need, you get lean.  It REALLY is about calories in vs out.  That's it, and that's all.  The whole "a calorie is not a calorie" crowd constantly gets this wrong.  I agree that calories that come from carbs or protein or fats all do something different in the body, however at the end of the day, week, month whatever a surplus gets you fatter/bigger and a deficit gets you leaner.

Yes, it IS in fact that god damn simple.  

Some of the notions about things like the anabolic diet or metabolic diet that appealed to people were that you could eat ALL of the foods deemed fit for the diet, and still get lean.  

I'm here to tell you that I proved that theory WRONG.  

I ate copious amounts of everything and got something that is worse than fat.  That is, skinny fat.  My arms and legs shrunk and my stomach became plump.  It was a nightmare.  You know what I did to remedy that? I just started eating normal again and eventually a sexier "shape" returned.  

So why do people think all of this is so complicated?  

It's the same reason why dopes believe that assistance work is the key to getting that big bench or squat.  It's because there has to be a way that fits outside the scope of Occam's razor.  

If you don't know, Occam's razor is basically the belief that the most simplistic answer is usually the correct one.  Or more eloquently put, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

So let's apply....

1.  I need to lose weight - I will eat less
2.  I need to gain weight - I will eat more
3.  I need to get a stronger squat - I will squat more

Look, it works!  

The 90% rule and the quality food list - 

A while back, I made a video and outlined what I called a "quality food list".  A list of foods that fit in the scope of what you deemed "quality" "healthy" whatever.  This is pretty simple.  You can use this list regardless of the type of diet you are on.  

After that, I talked about the 90% rule.  Basically stating, that if you eat from this quality food list ONLY 90% of the time, you'll be able to accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish.  The only caveat to that is if you want to get leaner you obviously have to (drum roll) EAT LESS.  Obviously.  

This simple idea works with everything that Alan outlined in the article above.  There is no magic about dieting.  There is no special formula or special science needed or studies to be done.  That shit works.  

Eventually you have to come to terms with the fact that you are NOT dieting, but changing your eating HABITS.  Don't take on a "diet" that is temporary.  When Dorian Yates dieted down from the offseaon to Mr. Olympia levels, all he did was cut calories from 5,500 a day down to 3,300 a day over those many months.  He never changed his foods.  He just changed his portions.  

Yes!  It's that fucking simple.  Occam's razor for another win!

Women and dieting - 

Women have far more problems dieting than men usually.  Emotional and compulsive they can be about eating yes, but eating is not the only thing they are like that about.  However I can only tackle one woman topic at a time lest I find myself on an all out tangent.   

Once a woman "cheats" on her diet well, it's Katy bar the door.  Shit is about to get real.  Women fall off the wagon and then proceed to lie in the mud, crying and sobbing about how they fucked up and blew their diet while stuffing half a cheese cake into their beak.  

I've seen it many many times.  The breakdowns are such that you'd think you were involved in a Jerry Springer show about "who is my baby daddy?" and baby daddy turns out to be NONE of the 5 guys on the show.  



Women also LOOVVEEE the scale.  Oh boy howdy do they love the scale.  If the scale ticks downwards there is glee and joy exhibited by them that is unrivaled by any experience seen or heard in the universe.  

Nevermind that the scale is a horrible judge of where you are at from a body composition standpoint.   

"But I weigh less!"  

"You're also weak and tired, and soft looking because you've spent the last many weeks starving yourself."  

"But I weigh less!  I lost weight!"

.....breakdown ensues, followed by many phrases such as "I can't do anything right" and "I'm so stupid."  

The mirror, your clothes, how you look AND feel are the best indicators of whether or not what you are doing is working.  Not the weight scale.  

If you are lifting weights, and doing conditioning, and you have a quality food list that you meet the standards of 90% of the time, good shit will happen to you.  You do not need a fad diet, or the need to eliminate carbs from your diet in order to make this happen.  

I personally think that the reason people think it is so difficult or complicated is because losing weight CAN be hard.  It's not fun to be hungry for weeks on end.  Our body and mind tries everything it can to make us WANT to stuff that Dove bar in the hole in your face.  We want that shit!  

And here is the thing, you can have that shit...in moderation.  

Which is REALLY the entire ball game here, isn't it?  Finding moderation, especially with dieting tends to work best.  Eat like someone who is trying to build muscle, and carry an athletic level of bodyfat.  When you're honest about that question things should get very clear for you.  

Like most things in life, you can't get the right answers until you start asking the right questions.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Base Building Programs/Book coming

Working hard to put all of this together.  But I plan on developing a beginner, intermediate, and advanced cycles for each.  These will span months at a time without deloads or time off (or as little as possible), counting for a type of "auto regulation", improving weak lifts, and building mass.

Some of the things I will go into here.......

Establishing the base itself with beginners.

Transitioning from beginner to intermediate.

Running the base building cycles into the strong-15 cycles.

Using base building in the offseason along with the big-15 to increase mass.

Using base building methods for geared lifters (I need more feedback here before I can complete it).

I have a shit ton of testimonials just from the base building series I did to support all of these theories and ideas, not to mention my own training which is at its best ever, and I've been healthier longer than ever, by following these principles.

I don't know what the timetable on this will be.  I will say that I feel like this was really the final missing piece to my training ideology because this is something you can mold your entire training scope around for LIFE.  Moving parts in when you need them and eliminating things when you need to.

Here is the initial outline..........

Full body splits - outline how to do full bodysplits with base building

Body Part Splits - Training like a bodybuilder

"Movement" Splits - Training movements, not muscles

Strongman Split - Training for strongman

Specialization - Prioritizing a lift

Volume tapering - how to manipulate volume in and out of your programming

Offseason Base Building - Improving mass and strength

Autoregulation and base building - How to how a "go to" scheme on a +10 and -10% day

Regressed programming - Moving backwards to move forward (more on a type of auto regulation)

Base building into the strong-15 cycle

Base building into the strong-15 short cycle

Base building into the big-15

Recovery - The REAL key to getting better

Consistency - more from LRB article about it

Grinding - When to and when not to (don't short circuit your momentum)

Speed work - Not to be confused with base building

Base building with the 350 method, 100 rep sets, and the 50% method -

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meet Training - Week 8 - Pressing

Bodyweight - 255

Incline Press

Meh, wanted a double at 405.  Shit.


Flex Row - 6 sets of 10 @ stack

Notes - Very tired tonight, so the 405 on a tired night is NICE.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Deficit deads, block deads, straps, touch n go, and improving your dead

If you haven't been following my base building series then some of this might not make sense.  It behooves you to go back and read it, and ruminate on the things I wrote about in there before proceeding.

Deficit Deads and block/rack pulls - 

I've had a lot of doods ask me why I am doing deficit pulls in prep for this meet, and not block pulls like I have done in the past.

I like block pulls still, and think I have used them at very proper times in my training life.  I needed to get accustomed to pulling "heavier" weights.  From below the knee it allowed me to do that.  I think that anything higher than that (at knee height) is going to be a mixed bag for most people.  Pulling above the knee, in my opinion, is a complete waste of time that has no carryover to the floor for 99.99% of people.

In fact, let me add this about block pulls and partials.  If you can use more than 10% of your floor max on a partial pull, it's very likely that it's not going to do much for your pull from the floor.  That big of a difference generally means you've changed something mechanically to benefit your pulling that you can't do from the floor.

Guys don't want to get this through their heads.  Just because you're pulling 1,000 pounds from X height, if you're still pulling 600 from the floor, it isn't fucking working.  Give up your ego and find a new way to do things.  I found great carryover from pulling mid-shin to the floor, however I needed to pull far heavier than I wanted to pull in order to do that, and it beat me up pretty good.  I find that my dead moves pretty well IF I can train it each week, but not get crazy in terms of intensity (nothing over 85% or so, max).

Waste of time

So this leads me back to pulling from a deficit.  I like deficit pulls.  I do NOT like huge deficit pulls, i.e. pulling while standing on 4" blocks, unless it's stiff legs.  I did this before for an extended period and what I found was, the ROM was too great in order to give me carryover from the floor.  I got more legs involved in the pull for sure, but I wasn't able to transfer those same mechanics over to my regular pull.

My deficit is a 35 pound plate at the gym.  It's a bit thicker than the other plates.  If I had to guess 2" at the most.  If I am pulling at home, I will use a 45 and throw a couple of mats underneath it.

I am using the small deficit to do a few things....

1.  Force me to stay light
2.  Make it slightly harder to pull from the floor, so that when the meet rolls around, I have a little more "oompf" from there.

Mainly, it's to make sure I don't end up pulling too heavy.  I have really begun to see the benefits of stay well away from your ED max and higher percentages and it's paying huge dividends in my training.  The next two weeks I will push a little heavier than I have been, but if anything grinds I will be disappointed.  I absolutely believe now that the fastest way to GRIND progress to a halt......is to grind.  But that's a whole nuther article.

Straps and touch n go- 

I don't use straps to pull.  I've done it before but because I've pulled mixed grip for so long, it does not feel "natural".  Some guys can throw the straps on and pull more, and not just because of grip issues but because their body can be more mechanically efficient pulling that way.  Here is the rub with that.

If you aren't going to pull hook grip, you're probably not going to get the carryover when you return to mixed grip.  It's not the same.  That simple turning of the hand is really that big of a deal in terms of changing the mechanics of the movement.

Doing a piece on tugs isn't proper with a pic of KK
If you have grip problems, the LAST thing you need to be doing is using straps for the love of Dog.  I mean seriously, you've got grip problems and you're going to use straps?  Let's just slap some fast actin Tianctin on those dick herpes and call it good.

Stop fooling yourself.

If you can't hold on to a deadlift, then grip is the problem.  Strapping up and pulling even more isn't going to fix the weak link in the chain.  Stop trying to be a youtube champ and fix your shit.

Ok so how to fix the grip for deadlifts?  Let's return to that piece of shit above the knee rack pull.  Throw on your max pull, shimmy it up your legs like a fat ass trying on jeans that are way too small, and then hold it.  If you can, that is.  Do this for time.  I don't see as much value in things like plate pinches and such because it's not mimicking holding a bar.  You know, which is what you're doing when you pull.  This is the only thing that above the knee pulls are worth a shit for in my opinion.  Helping the grip is what it does best.

The other thing I notice about guys who use straps, is that they like to do a lot of touch n go reps.  That's fine.  Is it "cheating"?  I guess that depends on what you call cheating.  As far as I know there is nothing illegal about doing this in a gym.  I do think it inflates a guys ability in that a strapped up deadlift for touch n go reps is going to yield a greater number of reps than no straps with dead stop reps.

Here is the rub there though.  Some guys do gain in their pull from touch n go, and some don't.  In fact I see some guys pulling damn near their max for reps when they throw on the straps and go touch n go.  The problem is, if that is NOT building your deadlift when you have to pull without the straps then ditch the straps and the touch n go bullshit.

It's not that touch n go is bad, it's that it can be misleading for the lifter.  You need to be honest with yourself about whether or not it's improving your pull, or if it's just improving your "strapped up touch n go reps" style deadlift.  If your max pull is 530 and you go from pulling 475x5 to 500x5 strapped up touch n go, but you are still pulling 530......it didn't work.  It's simply that you got better from a mechanical standpoint at doing that kind of movement.  Throw it out if that is the case.  If your regular pull rises along with it, keep it in.  This isn't much different than a guy getting better at doing board humpers but his actual bench press doesn't improve.

It's that simple.

Improving your deadlift then.....

Outside of perfecting your technique a few things to recap........

1.  Don't pull from a height that isn't below the knee.  If you do and you're pulling more than 10% from that height be cognizant of how your floor pull is responding to it as well.  If you're pulling WAY more than said 10% then you are probably being put into a mechanical advantage that you DON'T have with your regular deadlift.  Don't expect any carryover if it's more than 10-12%.

2.  Use small deficits to stand on for the same reason.  You don't want to change your mechanics very much from how you pull regularly.  Again, once you do there is little benefit to the floor pull.

3.  If you're not pulling hook grip, then straps with double overhand are going are going to be different than how you pull with a mixed grip.  I wouldn't expect carryover (though it doesn't mean it can't happen).  If you're doing touch n go reps, but your max pull isn't moving, start pulling dead stop reps.

4.  If your grip sucks, use that piece of shit above the knee rack pull and do timed holds with a heavy weight from there.

5.  Essentially, make sure that if you are doing a variation of your competition pull, that the variation isn't so much that you are using far more/far less weight, and making mechanical changes that aren't in your regular pull.  Remember, a deadlift variation should help the regular deadlift.  It may take you some time to figure out what variation gives you a fair amount of carryover but that's all part of winning the war.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Meet training - week 7 - Assistance work

Bodyweight - 252

Barbell rows - no straps, double overhand


Good mornings -

Shrug Machine - 225x20,20

Leg Ext - 5x20

Notes - My low back, hips, and pretty much entire lower body was wrecked from that squat and pull session a few days ago.  I'm pretty concerned that I won't be recovered in time for what I need to do this upcoming week.  We'll see.  My low back and hips are pretty shot.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Meet Training - Week 7 - Squats n Tuggers

bodyweight - 252

Squats -


Deficit Deads -


Stiff Legs - 315x10,10

Notes - I was actually quite tired tonight and didn't have as much "pop" as I wanted.

The 550 triple was just something I wanted to do to see where it was.  The 3rd rep I got a little forward on my toes, which caused it to be a little slower than the other 2, but I'm confident I could grind out 5.

Another 365 write in from an old(er) dood

Ok when write "old" I mean anything over 50, which I always think is fucking cool when dudes over 50 are still clawing away at getting better.  That's always a very inspiring thing for me.

When I bought LRB 365 ( which is way too cheap for what you get) I was honestly disappointed that a large block of the Program, Phases 2&3 were focused on conditioning. I thought man, I already do some similar stuff and I am not a guy who needs to lose a ton of weight @ 173 lbs. Than I did a reality check…Do I carry a little belt sludge, yup. Do have some sludge on the sides of my pecs ? yup and actually some all over. Not at all uncommon for someone in their 50’s but also not something that has to be. So I decided if I was going to do LRB 365 I was going to do it as written.. weight vest and all!! It was a good decision. 5 weeks into Phase 2…my serratus anterior (the top 2 fingers anyway) are starting to make an early morning cameo..haven’t seen those in decades! And I have some room to tighten up on my diet discipline…in other words better things to come.

My Phase 1 takeaway was the handshake between intensity on the main lift and volume of assistance work..In Phase 2 my take away is the value of 100 rep or ultra high rep sets are valuable on several fronts. You pointed the healing and priming effect they have, the joint benefits are awesome!. I also think they help with work capacity. Even with the very light weight ( 35lbs on the machine rev fly for example) they help work capacity even if it’s nothing more than mentally. When I get back 10s 20s or the 30’s rep sets you have laid out in later Phases I believe they will be easier because mentally they will be much shorter than the 100’s..if that makes any sense. I also believe they help with conditioning. And conditioning truth be told is much more of an important aspect to overall health in your 50’s than being able to DL a heavy load; although that is much more fun!. The weight vest increments force me to improve week to week and not get lazy by allowing me to convince myself I don’t have time for 30 minutes I’ll just do 15. Looking back at my log prior to LRB 365 that was in fact what was happening! If there was a corner to cut..it was conditioning work getting cut!

Phase 3 and ¼ mile repeaters should be interesting at 5AM..looking forward to learning more !

Have an awesome weekend, Paul.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The importance of stability in the bench press

Yesterday I threw up a quick blurb on the LRB FB page about some things to do, to help your bench.  Here are the points.........

Need to improve your bench?

1. Be patient. I found that the bench tends to move a lot slower than the squat and pull. It's a "maturity" lift. Unless you're built for big pressing, you will just need to slave away at it for a long time.

2. Gain weight. The bench loves weight gain. If you've been stuck at a certain weight for a long time, you might want to think about eating more and moving the pounds on the scale up.

3. Stop maxing out. If you look across the spectrum of all the greatest benchers, they used a LOT of reps, and a lot of volume. Don't expect to build a big bench without getting in a lot of work sets of 5, 8, 10, and even 15+.

4. Do lots of paused benches. The stronger you get off of your chest, the more you're going to press. It's that simple.

5. Strengthen your shoulders and pecs. Use the overhead press, incline, and lots of dumbbell bench and incline work to improve the musculature and strength of these areas. Use various grip widths to also boost these areas. So close grip bench, medium grip, and wide grip. Use all the tools at your disposal.

6. Get bigger arms. Totally anecdotal but I've never seen a big bencher that had shit arms. Ever. Your biceps stabilize the shoulder and elbow joint during benching, and of course the triceps are a prime mover for the bench. If you want to bench more, get more jacked arms.

7. Bench. I know this one seems obvious but you have to actually train the lift. Benching itself, in competition style and not a variation of it, should be the bread and butter of what you are doing. Not floor presses, not reverse banded this or that, and not board humpers. Fucking bench press.

Eventually, someone asked about lat involvement in the bench and as usual my response is that they aren't that important.  

This of course caused a stir, and then later a discussion on my person facebook page.  

I want top clarify that statement, and then add some points to the above.  

The lats are important in the bench.  However I think their importance is somewhat overstated by certain people or in certain circles of powerlifting.  

I want to reference this article from 70'sbig, and just grab some highlights from it........

There is a misconception that the latissimus dorsi — commonly referred to as “the lats” — aid in the upward movement of the bar when benching. This has bothered me for a long time, so I have broken this down anatomically to explain why it isn’t the case.

Since the lat is a shoulder extensor and medial abductor (pulling the humerus away from the mid-line — like a row), it obviously cannot flex the shoulder or medially adduct

In a mechanically efficient bench, the shoulders are pinched, the thoracic spine is extended to lift the chest, a big breath of air helps lift the chest even more, and the elbows are kept in external rotation while the forearms are vertical. This entire set up facilitates tightness — the shoulder girdle requires tension and tightness to perform optimally since it’s a joint that doesn’t have a lot of stability. This kind of set up allows the feet to drive the pinched upper back into the bench to solidify the articulation between the body and the bench. The more solid the body is on the bench AND the tighter the tension around the shoulder joint, then more force can be applied to the bar. If there was less tightness or stability, some arbitrary amount of force application would be lost due to instability (the same reason you can’t squat your 1RM on a Bosu ball or water bed).

To put it more simply, the lats don’t help apply force to the bar to make it go up, yet they are incredibly important for maintaining tensile force to make the shoulder joint stronger. Strong lats are required in good benches and will augment the ability to do all of this (which is why rowing and weighted pull-ups can help the bench).

So let's break this down so it's easy for everyone to understand, and base what REALLY happens on what the muscles do mechanically.  In other words, factually.  

  • As the article states, the stronger the "base" on the bench, the more you will be able to press.  Or let's clarify, the more STABLE the base, then more you will be able to press.  What is the "base" in regards to the bench?  It's your upperback on the bench.  
  • The more pressure you apply to your upperback into the bench, the more stable your pressing foundation becomes.  The stability of that base comes from your setup.  Shoulders down and into the bench, feet tucked up and under you and then applying "upwards" pressure to create even more pressure.  
  • When you drive your feet like that and lower back arches, your lats will contract statically to hold that position.  Throughout the entire press, this should never change.  I will give you a real life example of what happens when it does........
    • If you have ever had your lats cramp when you bench  a heavy or near max single, it's because some of that "base" was lost.  Your lats fire hard in order to try and make up for the loss of "base".  
    • This is no different than when you have a break down in form on the squat or pull, and the body "shifts" the load to a different musculature in order to make up for the "power loss" or stability loss.  
Once your setup is tight and the lats are contracted to keep you in position, it is their job to help hold that position, but they work hand in hand with your legs and lower back.  Your feet and arch are key components in helping you to maintain that base and position.  If you don't think so, let me pull your feet out from under you and see what happens to your "base".  You can't maintain it because the lats don't stay contracted.  The lats also cannot fully contract without a fully arched back.  So once we remove the initial starting point for the "chain" we lose the base, and the foundation from which to bench off of.  

If your lats are strong enough to hold that static position, then that's as strong as they need to be.  They rest comes back to the prime movers, which are the pecs, triceps, shoulders, etc.  NOT the back.  The back works as the foundation which to press from, however it's the manner in which you use it (your technique) that matters most.  Once you figure out how to load the upperback into the bench, you're good to go.  The more you can maintain that position into the bench, the stronger you will be able to press.  

So are the lats important in the press?  Well hell yes.  Are they sometimes overstated in their importance?  I think so.  As long as they are strong enough to hold your position in your setup, you're good to go.  It doesn't take a lot of strength by the lats to do this.  More than their strength, it's all about you learning how to push with your feet to drive the upperback down and into the bench, along with scapular retraction.  

So you want your BASE to be strong to press from.  What is the base?  The actual part of you CONTACTING the bench.  The lats help maintain the base, however your technique determines how strong and stable the base is.  

Train your lats, make sure they are strong enough to maintain your posture in your pressing position.  But don't think that they are the missing link in big pressing.  Make the whole back strong, and perfect your bench setup.  Stop over thinking these things.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Meet Training - Week 7 - Pressing

Bodyweight - 252

Close Grip Bench - 



Flex Machine Rows - stack x 6 sets of 10 using 3 different hand grips

Notes - NOT a great session.  I think I have some kind of cold or something.  Came home and laid down for about half an hour before this session but couldn't fall asleep.  The 425 was slower than I wanted.  I think on an even normal night it's lots faster.  This is ok, as I'm pleased to hit it pretty easily on a bad night.  

Going beltless

I've been asked many times about my decision to train with no belt or supportive gear.  I've given high level overviews about how this happened, but never really delved into it fully.  So with some nudging from a friend of mine, I thought it would be a idea to write about it a little more in depth.

Genesis - 

The catalyst for me going beltless was actually injury.  This might seem counter to what most people think, in that, they wear a belt to "protect them from injury".

In case you didn't know, you don't wear a belt to prevent injury.  This is nonsense.

You wear a belt to create intra-abdominal pressure during the lift.  This does in fact, help you lift more.  You are supposed to push out AGAINST the belt, in case you didn't know.  You don't need to wear your belt "turn my face purple" tight in order to achieve this.  Just wanted to throw that out there for all of you guys who aren't sure of how to use a belt.

I was wearing a belt religiously during the years where I kept having lower back issues.  I remember one day where my lower back locked up so hard in a parking lot that I couldn't reach down just a few inches to open my car door.  I ended up in physical therapy and worked through it all, but the scenario kept repeating itself.

I'd injure my "low back" (not sure if it was really my low back now, but that's where the pain was radiating from) from time to time, pretty severely, then spend months trying to get it better.  Once even to the point of going to the ER because I could not walk or stand up straight.  I had no idea what I had fucked up but I assumed at that point it was pretty severe.  A couple of days in a Vicodin induced semi coma was the cure for that particular one.

Yes, it was really that bad.

I had no idea what was causing it or how to fix it, and I was becoming incredibly frustrated.  Luckily enough I had access, or at least limited access, to a lifting legend by the name of Doc Ken Leistner.

Doc Ken basically told me to "get rid of that fucking belt."  That was literally what he wrote to me.

"Get rid of that fucking belt."

To paraphrase the rest....start over.  Go light, and learn how to make your body tight without the belt.  Learn how to "feel" what is natural in your movements.

Starting over - 

The next few months I remember squatting really light.  I mean 135 to 225ish, just figuring out how to perfect my technique and get "tight".  At the time I hurt my back I was squatting 405 for reps wearing a belt.  I can distinctly remember 275 feeling like it was going to fold me over without one.  This was eye opening to say the least.  I remember 315 feeling like the most awful heavy thing ever in the world.  Like my body had no idea what to do with itself without the belt.

It was quite humbling to say the least.

I never realized exactly how much of a crutch the belt had become.  I put it on for everything.  Curls, side laterals, pushdowns, whatever.


Jesus, why?  I never even thought about just how galatically stupid that really was until I didn't use it for anything anymore.  I never realized what a habit it had become to just throw it on....well, just because.

"I'm lifting heavy!  Cinch that belt down!"

It didn't matter what I was lifting heavy.  It could have been 1-arm cable side laterals.  The belt was gonna be thrown on!

Eventually I realized putting on the belt was something done in ritual.  I needed to put it on to give that mental "signal" that I was about to do some work.  Eventually I learned how to internalize before my hard work sets, and get focused.  I could tap into something internal to let myself know I was about to do work.  The belt became obsolete in that regard.  The belt was no longer a "cue".

Let me add, I don't think that rituals are a bad thing.  I think we all have those places we go to in our mind before we grab hold of a bar that has a certain weight on it, and decide "it's time".  We have things we do that help us to focus, and send a "signal" that things are about to jump up a notch.  

"Bout to set a PR on tricep pushdowns!  Let's do this!  Belt on!"

Probably not needed.

Eventually I figured things out pretty well for myself, and I realized months went by without a low back injury.  That eventually became years.  Other injuries were sustained, but I never found myself in a parking lot not able to reach my cars door handle again.

What to expect if you decide to go RRAAAWWWW....err beltless - Benefits and disadvantages 

If you decide you'd like to ditch your belt, you must first come to terms with WHY you are doing so, and for how long.

I ditched the belt because I was tired of being injured and not understanding how to be as tight as possible in a movement, or not knowing what a movement should "feel" like without that crutch.

I also just like not having to depend on a piece of equipment so I can train.  It's nice to not ever be in need of a belt in order to get a squat or tug session in.

Plus let's just be honest.  Beltless lifts are full of far more badassery than equipped lifts.  Who personifies badassery better than KK does in powerlifting?

No one.

So what are the other benefits?  Besides looking badass, as if that wasn't enough.......

Well like most things, going beltless is harder, so when you go back to the "easier" version you should be a far better lifter.  You're going to understand how your body moves through space better, and your low back, abs, and other stabilizers/support musculature are going to be stronger.

You're also going to understand the meaning of getting "tight" without depending on the belt.  Because if you aren't you'll be reminded of it very quickly when you unrack a squat or go to pull heavy and you're not prepared.

Let me add that if you have been using a belt for a long time then the first thing you're going to have to do is eat some humble pie.  

There will be some guys that say a belt doesn't make much difference.  To this I tell you, either they are liars or don't know how to use a belt.  If a guy tells you that he decided to just go beltless one day and there wasn't much of a difference then he has no idea how to use his belt to his best advantage, or is full of shit.

 I know a dude who has a 700+ raw squat that didn't feel comfortable using more than 475 on his squats sans belt.  I'm not saying he couldn't use more, I'm just saying, in his own words he didn't feel "comfortable" going past 475 without it.

I know an 800+ puller who missed 675 sans belt.

So there is a reason, for every guy to spend some time in the offseason training with no belt.  Namely, it will make you better where you are weak at.  

Ed Coan and Kirk both spent significant time in the offseason getting as strong as possible without a belt.

Coan: Monday is squat and other leg stuff. Depending on the season, like now in the off season, I don't wear any equipment — no belt, no wraps, nothing.

If you didn't listen to my podcast with Capt. Kirk, he said his best beltless squat was 655x8.  That was HIS BEST.

The next week he threw the belt on to start his cycle of 5's with the belt, and could do 20 more pounds for 5 reps EASILY.  He said the belt alone was good for 50 pounds, minimum.  His belt beltless single was 800x1.  His best belted squat for reps was 800x5, which is roughly 900ish if you do the math on it.

Think about that.  

This has generally been what I've seen from most guys.  40-50 pounds minimal, is pretty common.  Guys that really know how to work the belt and take advantage of it, can get more than that from it.

So if you've been using a belt for all of your heavy work for a long time, it's very possible that you're going to be in for quite a surprise at how "strong" you are without one.  This alone keeps a lot of guys from going without the belt for a while.  Simply put, they can't humble themselves enough to do the things that could make them better down the road.  When people talk about fixing "weak points" it's funny how something as simple as ditching all equipment is almost never seen as an option.

Why?  Because it REALLY makes you look weak if you haven't been used to going without it.

Isn't that what fixing "weak points" is supposed to be all about???

My opinion is that every guy would benefit training with no equipment at all on in the offseason.  No belt, no wraps, and have PR's he sets each offseason sans all equipment.  This is a very easy way to not change a single thing in your training, or worry about magical assistance work to get better.  

Just throw your belt and wraps to the side for a certain amount of time every few months.

I know there have to be some disadvantages to going beltless, but I am just having a hard time finding them.  I suppose one could be that if you had a permanent injury that the belt helped to alleviate in training, then going beltless wouldn't be an option obviously.

I guess if you bought belts and paid good money for them, you might feel like you're not getting your money's worth during that portion of the year.  That's a drawback.  

Technique - 

You'll need to expect that things are going to feel "off" for a while.  It's possible you will not understand how to "hold" your midsection properly in order to feel solid in squats and pulls.  It's possible your legs won't feel as solid out of the hole, and/or that you get folded over more than you'd expect.  With your pulls it's possible you are going to feel stupid weak off the floor, or possibly not able to hold your low and upperback in a "solid" position.  Again, all of this varies for each person.

Since you're doing the same lifts, but a harder variation, you should be a hell of a lot better once you decide to put the belt back on.  Even if your technique changes a little bit.

What you should not do is change your technique so much beltless, that you have to change things once the belt goes back on.  Always try to maintain the same rigid position you have with the belt.  This will take some work, and you will have to start very light and learn how to "feel" things differently.  That's ok, that's part of getting better.  

Setting up beltless training - 

Whether or not you decide to ditch the belt for good or not is irrelevant.  Once you ditch it, you'll to figure a few things out.

You'll need to figure out what your everyday max is for your beltless work, and the difference in that and your belted everyday max.  This way you have some idea of the difference in the two and later how much carryover you ended up with by improving your beltless work.

This is how I would set this up.

Work up to an everyday max, sans belt.  If you don't know what an every day max is, it's something you can hit for a single any day of the week regardless of conditions (for the most part).  It's usually a lot less than what you think it is.  If you've ever trained with the flu, or a severe cold, it's about what your true max is on that kind of day.

You can then run the strong-15 short cycle over 5 weeks, no belt, based on that everyday max.

Do the same with your deadlift.

It's really that simple.  If you were training for a meet, you could follow this up with another strong-15 short cycle based on your belted goal.  If you use knee wraps, I'd break that 5 week cycle up in two stages.  Three weeks based on belt only maxes, and then two weeks based on ED maxes with belt and wraps.  The reason for this is because 10 weeks is a long training cycle, and you want to keep the big stuff off of your back for as long as possible.

This is 10 weeks of solid training that improves you in every way, and makes your weaknesses stronger, without having to figure out your "weak points" (puke).  You already know what they are.  You without the belt.  

Just squat and pull your way to glory, sans belt, then reap the benefits of it with the belt.  An easy recipe for getting better.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Get LRB back in your e-mail

The e-mail feed has been down for a while and I'm not sure why, so I went back out to feedburner and grabbed some new code and chunked it up on the right for you.

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Monday morning still sleepy as hell edition

Just wanted to throw out a couple of videos to show the bar speed difference using the same weight from over a year ago, until now, and then a follow up testimonial.

Jan 2012

This past week....

405 close grips.  October of 2012.

Two weeks ago.

With the squats, most guys remember I spent a LOT of the year doing front squats with 225-275 because of the mysterious pain in my quad.  Which in fact has returned however not as bad as it was before.  My guess is, some type of inflammation as the MRI showed nothing.  I'm not complaining about it because well, the MRI says I don't have a tear so there's not really much to discuss.  I'm just managing it.  Anyway, the bench progress in terms of explosiveness is very good IMO, esp seeing how my weight nor anything else has really changed in that time.

From Gaz, a long time reader.......

Hey Paul,

Just wanted to let you know that using the strongman cycle in SLL for the last three months, i had a comp today and got a huge 20kg Deadlift PR with 240kg @ 82kg bodyweight. Heaviest i went in training was 190kg for a single followed by 180kg for 7 reps. Rest of the comp went okay, few silly mistakes but overall really happy with how i did.

This last training cycle really clicked and since i started ridiculously light managed 4 months solid training without a week off and ended up bigger and better than before.

Thanks for the books and all the free posts on the blog, it's been a real eye-opener in terms of smart programming this year.

All the best!


More and more and more dudes are writing in to me saying the same thing.  Programming back, being more violent with the weights, and not missing lifts are all leading to big strength gains.  I think a lot of why this happens is because of what scaling the intensity back ALLOWS to happen.  Namely, recovery.  You can push the volume, you can still get in shape, and still diet and get stronger when you dial the intensity back a bit so that you're not grinding every week.  Not only this, you can train this way for very long periods of time, working on nothing but CAT.  

In case you're going...."CAT?"

Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT) is a weightlifting technique where a person accelerates the bar as leverage improves throughout the movement that is used to develop explosive strength. [1] Dr. Frederick C. Hatfield wrote about the concept of compensatory acceleration training in 1982. Hatfield claimed the following benefits for CAT: greater efficiency, fewer injuries and greater explosive power. Hatfield defined compensatory acceleration as "pushing as hard as possible throughout the movement", i.e. a high action velocity. Years later a study by Jones et al. supported Hatfield's contentions by finding that CAT was superior to traditional standard weight training for developing upper body strength and power. [2] The technique was perfected by bodybuilding legend, Scott Benn

The issue where "CAT" got fucked up, in my opinion, is where people started defining it as "speed work" and scaled the intensity too far back.  Namely, to 50-60%.  

I do think that the 60% has some benefits, and I saw them personally in my front squat training.  I've also done the same with my back squat for months now, however I think it's possible the squat may be ok with 60%.

I don't see the bench or pull doing that well with it.  I also think doing sets of 5-8 in that range are also what separate it from "speed" work, where you do shit like doubles.  I personally see no use for that, and no I don't think that it has any carryover or help you be explosive when the weights get into high intensity zones.  On paper it looks good, but from an application standpoint I just think it doesn't work.  If it did, it'd work for the great majority of people.  However it's really a mixed bag, with most people saying shit like "well, it worked for me" but then they can't really define what they mean by "worked".  They will say shit like "well I learned how to be more explosive."  Hardly.

You get more explosive with a certain weight because you got STRONGER.  I can tell you that I have indeed gotten stronger, because I can move those weights above with more force.  I did not become "more explosive" because I was training to be "explosive".  People get this mixed up all the time.  I personally don't believe you can become "more explosive", just like I don't think you can learn how to "grind".  Becky Rich and I talked a few weeks ago at a meet and she told me that she grinds everything.  Even at 70%.  And rather than waste time trying to get "more explosive" she just focuses on what everyone else should be as well.  Getting stronger.

I think people need to stop fretting over shit like getting more "explosive" or "grinding" and just focus on getting stronger.  When you get stronger, you'll automatically move those weights with more force.  It's pretty much that simple.  The reason you hit a "sticking point" in a movement and/or fail to make the lift is because a lack of power to move it from the starting point through the transition point.  In other words, if you were stronger, you'd generate enough force to do so.  So stop thinking about "weak points" and being "more explosive" or learning how to "grind better" and just concentrate on getting stronger.  Some guys don't get this concept and I'm not sure why they don't, but lifting is really that simple.  I also think "grinding" as little as possible is a great idea, because grinding too much tends to lengthen the recovery process and short circuit the supercompensation curve.  Again, this is my own theory, but it looks correct to me from an anecdotal standpoint.

I have so much to write and test in regards to some of this, so hang in there with me on this.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Video about me and my training partner

My daughters school did this.  I've gotten lots of questions from people about getting your kids into training so maybe this gives a little insight about our relationship in that regard.  

Meet Training - Week 6 - Support work

Overhand Grip Barbell Rows -

Shrugs -

Good Mornings - 155x10,10,10,10
Machine Curls - 1 million pounds 4 x 10

notes - It's support work.  It's like jacking off.  Even if it's awesome there's still nothing to brag about.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Shirts are back in stock!

And at a new price.

Conditioning makes you sexy

Russell Taylor wrote in to me to let me know he's running 365, and that the conditioning phase is making his wife lust after him.  That's a great side benefit.

For the last 3 years I really just ignored conditioning and was of the mindset that if I lifted more and just ate meat I couldn't get fat... er, fatter. That was wrong, I was wrong. Anyway, I started off HATING the conditioning phase but now I love it. Getting nice and lean, I still have some chub to lose but it's going so well I just don't know what to say but "Thank You."

If your writing wasn't so good, informative, and funny I would probably still be wondering why lifting triples and eating a shitload of meat wasn't making me vascular. My wife thanks you too. Of course, she says she loves me no matter what I look like, but I know she lusts after me WAY more now. Awesome all around.

Friday 365 Q&A

On the LRB Facebook page.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Meet Training Week 6 - Squats and Pulls

Bodyweight - 253

Squats - no belt


Pause Squats - 455x3,3

Deficit Deads -

Stiff Legs - 315x10,10

Notes - Really good session.

Defining where you are

Every once in a while I ponder the question about "what defines a beginner, or separates him from an intermediate?" in terms of strength levels.  I then self mutilate because there's no real way to answer that in terms of pounds on the bar.  There really isn't.

When Andy Bolton first walked into a gym, he pulled 600 pounds.  Was he a beginner?  Yes.

"But he pulled 600 pounds!"

So?  He didn't know shit.  He walked into that gym with the same physical traits he had been walking around with all day.  He had no knowledge of how to plan a proper training cycle, how to rehab an injury, how to get better through technique, etc so forth and so on.  What he knew was, he could pick up 600 pounds.

When I first started training, I could barely bench press the empty bar.  What I knew and what Andy knew were relatively the same.  Zero.  Regardless of strength levels, we both knew jack and shit.  And jack left town.

So why is there such an emphasis placed on how much you can lift in relation to your experience level?

Like it or not, most of that is determined through genetics.  I've read all sorts of bullshit, bologna, and spam sandwiches that "you can overcome this, and the only one that can stop you is yourself" blah blah blah nonsense.

Genetics MATTER.  If they didn't everyone could just "hard work themselves" into whatever they wanted to be.  There's a reason some guys ride the pine in the NFL and some guys go to the hall of fame.  There's a reason you're not going to pull a grand like Andy (more than likely, unless Benni or KK is reading this).

There is a reason that not everyone can be a Mr. Olympia, or a Formula 1 race car driver, bang super models on the weekend, or total elite.  It's very possible that you could completely fulfill your entire genetic potential, and never reach the crest of your desired dreams.

Yeah I know, that's fucking depressing but life isn't always some unicorn shitting rose pedals on your walkway.

One of the greatest things in the world about finding your passion however, is that you end up being fulfilled regardless of the destination because the journey is so enjoyable.  I'm not giving a pass to freeloading underachievers, however I don't feel like that really even needs to be mentioned.  When you're enveloped in your passion you tend to overachieve in most ways.

I don't regret all of those years I spent working my ass off for very little in the way of making progress.  Was I frustrated as hell at the time?  God yes.  I can remember taking every magazine and training book I owned and throwing them into the trash.  Vowing never to go to the god damn gym again.

Then of course, I'd be in the gym the next day more determined than ever.  Those frustrations drove me to get better.  I don't think there are too many guys that don't go through times like that.  Where they feel as though there is no hope on the other side of the barbell, or cleats, or business meeting.  Plateaus and ruts, the "darkness"....that shit is inevitable.  It's going to suck you under sometimes, and keep you in the muck until you figure out exactly what the hell it is you REALLY need to be doing.  Sometimes that takes a while because you're a stubborn asshole, and sometimes it takes a while because well, it just does.

Surviving those struggles and persevering through them, this is really what starts to define a beginner from an intermediate from an advanced guy.  Does weight on the bar matter?  Yes, it does.  Do you need an elite total to be a good coach or trainer or whatever?  Fuck no.  I'm not even sure what defines "elite" anymore anyway.  I think most of us know what strong is when we see it.  The context of it matters, yes it does.  A 5'3" guy that's 145 pounds that benches 315 is "strong".  So is the 300 pound guy that benches 500.  I don't need some mathematician or formula at this point to tell me who is strong.  So trying to define someones technical ability based on bar weight seems disingenuous to me.

"Is dude strong?"

"Does he set my bullshit meter off when he talks?"

If he passes both tests, then he's probably worth listening to.

I don't need to know the letters behind his name, because some of the most knowledgeable folks I know in the industry are in possession of zero acronyms after their name.  I also know some real dumbasses that have the constitution after their name.  Of course, there are smart guys that have pedigrees as well.  I'm just saying you can't define someones ability to apply knowledge from a certificate alone.

No different than you can define beginner or intermediate or advanced from X number of pounds on a lift.  I had a friend growing up that benched 285 after his 4th workout in the gym.  I hated that short, ugly, t-rex armed bastard for being able to do so.  He had no knowledge that he applied to his bench that helped him bench press that so easily.  He just could.  Beginner after 4 workouts?  Fuck yes he was.  Shit, he couldn't even drive a car much less plan out some proper training.

A lifter, a football player, a race car driver, a weekend super model bang out dude....all defined by their scars.  There is no mistaking them when you see them.  The supreme warrior on the battlefield probably isn't wearing the shiniest of armor or carrying the sharpest of swords.  That's because he's been too busy putting them to good use than talking shit about all the men he's killed in the pub.  Becoming a warrior is mostly about DOING, and doing so over a long period of time.

If you follow your passion you will indeed collect scars.  It's really the number of scars that define your level of expertise than a number on a chalk board.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meet Training Week 6 - Pressing

Bodyweight - 255

Incline Press -


Db Bench Press -

110's x 8
150's x 7

Flex Machine Rows - 6 sets of 8 with the stack.

Notes - Well, I was supposed to press last night, however after 1 straight hour of the backdoor trots and a heavy 365 single, I thought it might be best to rest another day.

Good thing I listened instead of being an idiot.  Had a great session tonight.  Again, more base building, volume, and keep it light paying off.  The 365 triple was so easy I thought the bar was misloaded.  The 315 for 4 sets of 6 was fast and easy every single set.

Feeling very good right now, AND I'm in week 6 which means I beat Pegg's prediction that I'd only make it three weeks before getting injured.  I fully expect to blow some shit out tomorrow night on squats, thus jinxing myself.

Thoughts on good mornings and demonstration

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Let go, make choices, and appreciate.........

A while back, someone asked me how it was that I arrived at the conclusions that I had about life. Mainly, how did I stop caring about comparing myself to others, when they felt like that was such a natural thing to do. If you do something, you always want to know how you measure up to your peers or to others in the same avenue.

I can't always give an answer that resonates with everyone.

Sometimes "feelings" are hard to explain. No different than trying to explain a color to a blind person or a sound to a deaf person. Feelings and emotions are very individualistic and speak to you in a very unique way that only you get to experience. So trying to explain an emotion to someone, or a feeling to someone can be a difficult task.

If I had to write in a high level overview kind of way about how I eventually stopped caring, it would be that I let go of my own perceived short comings and also started to appreciate what others could do, that I could not. Both of those things have strong positive connotations with them, and when you really grok that, you grow tremendously.

We all perceive ourselves in a certain way. We choose to see ourselves through certain strengths and weaknesses. Short, fat, ugly, weak, skinny, strong, assertive, passive, introvert, or extrovert...these are all perceptions we define about who we are. They are very real because we make them real. They are also choices, and choices can be changed.

You don't HAVE to eat the burger you usually do, you can in fact order the fish tacos on the menu. They are choices, and you get to choose what you really want.

The problem is our own perceptions also generally come from how we believe that other people view us as well. "So-n-so said I was weak/incapable/a failure/unattractive" etc, so forth and so on. This is allowing a persons opinion to guide your own perception about yourself. When you choose to do that, you allow the other person to define who you are.

This is where we start to fail. We allow someone else to order from the menu for us, rather than taking charge and ordering what it is we want the most.

It's important to learn how to let go of other peoples perceptions of who you are, and to carve out your own path and to come to terms with your own strengths and weaknesses. To come to terms with the fact that YOU get to decide what those things are. But you must first CHOOSE that no one else gets to decide that. Once you can do that, you let go of other peoples perceptions about who you are, and what you are.

If you can't let go of what other people think of you, and appreciate the unique things you bring to the table, no matter how trivial you think they are, then you will continue to wallow in misery and self pity. And you can't blame anyone but yourself for making that choice.

Every emotion and "feeling" that you have is a choice. Empower yourself by knowing you can make the choice to appreciate you for who you are, and what you want to become. Take the steps you need to make in order to become that person, so that your choices are backed by your own actions.

This is empowering yourself and can be applied to your lifting, life, relationships, and career. You get to decide if you're going to be warrior or a peasant. You get to decide if you want the burger or fish tacos.

Your decision. No one else's. Own it.

Great write in from firefighter

Thanks to Chad for sharing this with me........

Just wanted to write in and tell about an experience I had this past weekend in Houston. 

My fire department formed a team for a stair climb event for the American Lung Association. 7 other fire departments were involved. The fire departments climbed after police departments and regular climbers. The fire departments climbed in a category named the high rise challenge due to everyone wearing gear and an airpack. Reading your material I had a thought. I wrote out a training schedule backwards from the event to the time I started training for it (second week of January). 

The first 5 weeks I did non-weighted step mill work to get the legs and lungs used to climbing. The one absolute I held for myself was to not use my arms for assistance during the training, but come the day of the climb to use the railing in the stairwell. I figured if I made the training a little more difficult then it could be of some benefit come the day of the climb. 5 weeks came and went quickly. Week 6 was terrible in which I lost two brothers (firefighters) from my old fire department who were killed in the line of duty and one other who was seriously injured, but he is still with us and kicking ass! 

Week 6 served as a forced week off for the Memorial Service and funerals. Weeks 7 to 11 came with weighted work, I used 50 pounds in a backpack, but with gear and a bottle the weight is closer to 65 pounds. I told myself even with using 50 pounds instead of 65, there is no assistance in the training from my upperbody so the legs and lungs took the brunt of the work. 

Come meet day, I managed 48 floors in under 14 minutes. Being my first climb, I'll have a clearer picture of what to expect next time. I guess I used not training to the max (50lb vs 65lb) and making the training harder (no arms vs using the rails on climb day) to guide me. I feel it paid off pretty well. 

Today, (the climb was yesterday) I squatted and had a +10% I guess, everything felt light and crisp. I related this to your 'Lifer' series of always being strong and in shape. I thought about my two friends I had lost during the climb, there was no thought of stopping because they fought and died without stopping. I pushed on for my family, for my friend who made it, for my team, and for myself. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your training and experiences with us and that your philosophy on training helped me in my training. Good luck on your meet!

-- Chad Jones

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - The "Power Athlete"

I answer a handful of questions a week.  By a handful I mean between 150 and 200 generally.  But that comes with the hazard duty pay doesn't it?  I keep awaiting that check for it to come in the mail, and I'm promised that it is, but my girl promised me she'd love me forever and that shit didn't happen either.  I wonder if the two circumstances are related?

Anyway, in that cache of 150-200 questions weekly, my favorite one always comes from the "Power Athlete".

This title is not given in admiration or respect.  No sir, it is given with a negative connotation attached to it.

The "Power Athlete" is that guy you see at the gym that takes advantage of everything the gym has to offer.  He does Karate.  Does Boxing.  Pushes the sled.  Plays basketball with his buddies there.  He does kettle bell  work too, and then goes and rides his bicycle or you see him on the treadmill or jogging on the track.  You get my fucking drift here.

Oozes testosterone....

Let me give you an example of the kind of question I generally receive from the "Power Athlete".

Paul - 
Quick question for you.........

Ok before we go on, this is much like the phrase "I'm not trying to offend you".  You know what's about to be said is going to be fucking offensive.

In this case, I know ol boy is about to write out an e-mail the length of the Constitution.  In this example I will shorten it as to not bore you to death or get a "tl;dr" response from your internal internet ADD.

I do MMA 6 days a week then some boxing that crosses over three of those days.  I also play Rugby on the weekends and do some Crossfit with my buddy Bobby every now and then (I know, it's cheesy but I'm doing it to help him stay motivated to lose weight).  Anyway I was looking at your stuff and I wanted to know how I should schedule my routine so that I can get as strong as possible while maintaining my other activities?

Thanks --

Well Jimmah, let me start by saying you're a good friend for sacrificing your testicles in order to help fat Bobby stay on track.  I surely hope there are some hot women in yoga pants in that Crossfit place and you're just using Fat Bobby as an excuse to get back in there every week.

Anyway, let me answer your question, Jimmah.

Let's just get some of your bullshit out of the way right meow.

You have no interest in getting "as strong as possible".  If you had phrased your estrogen laden question with something along the lines of "I want to get stronger for my sport(s)" or just a plain ol "I want to get stronger" I could work with you.  I might could even work with good ol Fat Bobby, however I'd ask for cell phone sneak pics of "DAT ASS" from your Crossfit box.  Mandatory.

Mandatory.  What was I writing about again?

I could see the logic in that that kind of question.  "Hey look, I do all this shit.  I just want to get stronger."  

But most of the time, Jimmah the Power Athlete asks me how he can get as strong as possible whilst However anyone who wants to get "as strong as possible" is not a "Power Athlete".  They are a fucking STRENGTH athlete.  You know, a guy that trains to get fucking strong FIRST and foremost?  If you're riding the fence and getting splinters in your ass because your bench or squat aren't climbing, then you need to decide what you want to do with your training.  Because getting as strong as possible isn't going to come with "6 days a week of shenanigans not related to lifting" EVER.

You can get strong, and get in shape (though you need to define what that means to you).  That's not that difficult.  365 will do that over the course of  a year if you stick to it.

Now some assclown will complain that I'm not being fair to Jimmah because "he's really just asking the question you're being a dick about."

I get that.  I do.

But I am trying to get Jimmah to think.

Jimmah, do you REALLY need to fucking ask me how you can get as strong as possible, when you know, YOU KNOW, that you're not going to get much stronger if you don't cut out all the other bullshit?  We both know that answer, and you know it too, but the truth is getting really fucking brutally strong isn't a NEED in your paradigm.  You just wanna bench 3 wheels or some high school shit like that.

If only Jimmah would find some roids....

Some may take offense to this, however if I walked into a Kickboxing studio and told the head honcho that I wanted to become the most bad ass kick boxer ever, and followed that comment up with a question of "I can I do that while I play football for an arena league team, kayak 6 days a week, do tennis with the wife and smoke all night at the casino playing some blackjack?" he'd kick my nuts into my tonsils.

Getting stronger for a sport is a great idea, but you have to keep in mind that you're still basically just performing "GPP".  Lifting to supplement is a sport is nothing more than "extra work".  The sport is the meat and potatoes of what you're doing.  Don't try to be Kaz if your goal is to be Lance Armstrong.  For some reason I feel like that won't mix, even if the drug cocktails could be helpful on either side.

Mt advice to all you Power Athletes out there is this.  It's fine if you want to do 47 things "athletically"(Though I personally don't get that, everyone has to do what makes them happy) just remember something, in order to get stronger for a sport you don't need peaking programs like I write about.  You don't need a mass gaining "routine" to put on "some size so I can throw down harder in the PAINT!"  You can get by just fine on any routine that focuses on getting stronger with progression.  Trying to work in a peaking program while you do your 92 other sports isn't going to yield the kind of results that you see or hear about from guys that are actually STRENGTH ATHLETES.  You know, they are training for the sole purpose of getting stronger?  If you want to get as "strong as possible" then train like a strength athlete.  Not like a dude with exercise ADD.

I knew you'd get that.

Now get back out there with Fat Bobby and do some kipping.