Monday, April 15, 2013

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.


  1. Paul, give this a try on your quad and see if it helps out. I have a weird pain in my aductor magnus that acts up and using this alleviates the pain like nothing I have tried before. Its no joke.

  2. Wow, the pause squats are like night and day dude. Starting the base building template you outlined tonight; I'll milk that for a while and then it's strong-15 for my meet prep!

  3. Yeah, I support your statement regarding more strength=more force. Personally, i appear to be a grinder. Even when training with a partner, there are times when we only put like 75-80% on the bar for bench pressing and from Rep 1, I'm grinding right off the bat. My partner is a fast moving dude, massive explosive power, but yet we end up getting the same amount of reps. Just when he thinks it "looks" too damn hard for me, we still clock in the same reps.

    As a side note, I've trained with a pair of 50lb dumbbells for over a year and put some serious training in with those things. Even these days, I know for a damn fact I am moving those 50lb dumbbells with THAT much more force. I never bothered to call it speed work. I just know I got stronger, albiet cranking out more reps. The more reps I happened to crank out, the more force I am able to generate earlier in those reps. I didn't necessarily concentrate on speed. For example, If i did a 1arm db row of 20 reps on day 1, the force is moderate. These days when I can do 100 rep sets with it, those first 40 reps look fast as hell. I am sure you can relate.

    Even just looking at your vids, its clear you hit those weights constantly, which means you built in volume over the year as well as a buttload of confidence. You'll know you will hit the reps for that weight. Now the reps looks quick and crisp.

  4. Unless I use more than 80% of my max squat, if I push violently all the way to the top, my feet will leave the floor.

    Off course if I use higher reps, like maybe 6-8, I will jump on the first few and fatigue will prevent me to leave the ground much afterwards. I guess it's a good thing as jump squats or other explosive movements like push press and power clean/high pull seem to be good at increasing power... or just strength?

    I've found that all my 1rm are reasonably fast, except for deadlift. I did 205 on standing press recently and it moved pretty fast, leaving me to think that I could do more, But I couldn't move 210.