Thursday, May 30, 2013

Training - Squats and Tugs with yet another PR

Bodyweight - 260

Front Squats -

455x1 PR


4" Block elevated stiff legs -


Lunges - bodyx50 total

Notes - Yet another PR.  Obviously my programming and phases do not work very well.

More 365 success!

Mr. Carter-
Thought I would throw another success story your way. When I started in January, I was 198 pounds with an everyday DL max of 475. I’m in the 4th week of the conditioning peaking phase and I had one of the best DL sessions of my life at 5 am this morning. Your 365 states to go by feel for this phase and for some reason I felt good today after a subpar 2 weeks where I needed to program very low. I programmed much higher today & pulled 460 off the ground with a lot left in the tank, and this was with me weighing in at 173. It was really hard not to keep going, but I called it good after this.

This was a huge victory for me. I lifted at a suboptimal time, I’m 25 pounds lighter, & in a phase where my strength is naturally supposed to take a step back. Everything about this says I should be weaker, but the reality is that my front squat & DL are both better in absolute & relative strength at this point, while my close-grip bench is higher in relative strength.

Thanks again for the knowledge. With your direction I’ve made better strides in my training than I ever have in the past 10 years.

Court Grady

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to deal with and understand women

Wrote it in my Facebook page for fun.  Enjoy it, or don't.  I don't care.........

1. Listen - Women talk more than men by a fairly wide margin (except me, I out talk most women). Most of the time they don't want your solutions, they just want to be heard. Be sympathetic to their concerns. After she's done if she feels like you simply paid attention to her, it will endear her to you. So just be a good listener. This also means not talking about yourself too much. Women really walk to talk about themselves.....A LOT. Just get used to it.

2. Don't compare her or talk about ex's - JFC, just don't ever do it. You think she wants to hear about how "Mindy was always doing X,Y,Z for me." In a good or bad way, it's in poor taste. Act like she's the only one ever by never speaking of another woman you had relations with. If she asks about her, respond by saying "Who?" Respond with "who?" twice actually. This is even better. Then go "oh oh oh, yeah shit, I forgot about her. I don't even remember anything about her to be honest."

3. Be a challenge by maintaining some control - Women get bored with ankle grabbers who just take it. Whatever she wants, you give it her. This causes a tilt in power in the relationship, and if you've read anything about women, you know they love confident men who are in charge. How the hell can you be a challenge or take charge when you let her dominate every facet of your life? This doesn't mean be an asshole. I've covered that.

Most guys end up letting a girl dominate the relationship because they are so scared they will lose her if they say "boo" to her about shit. They are afraid to tell her "no, I'm not going to see that chic flick." Weak fucking sauce. This is a nice recipe for letting her abuse you. Just give your testicles up at this point. Being a challenge means just maintaining your manhood and letting her know you're your OWN man. They like this.

4. Learn her love language - Lots of guys say shit like "man I bring her flowers, I take her to dinner" etc. But that may not be the things that makes her feel loved or special in the relationship. She may want you to not leave your god damn shoes in the living room every evening, or she may want you to clean up to house sometimes so that she doesn't have to do it. She may want you to tell her how beautiful she is, even when she has fuzzy hair and no make up. The point is, you can't REALLY make her feel special until you learn what the fuck it is that does that. Learn what that is by asking, straight out. "What are the things I do that make you feel awesome?" When you learn what that is, don't over do it either. Do it, but do it at times when she needs it the most. Winning.

5. Fulfill her needs sexually by reducing your ego - I know I know, every dude reading this is a porn star and plows it with the force of 1,000 Vikings. Whatever. You're not as good as you think you are. Or at minimum, there's lots of room for improvement. Similar to learning her love language, you need to understand that women don't often tell us about our short comings in bed because they feel we have fragile sexual egos. I think if you're honest with yourself, you'll realize this. You probably don't want to be told you're not a combination of Rocco and Peter North in the sack. Talk about sex openly, and get to know the things she needs the most. The last thing you want is your woman straying because you can't put your ego aside long enough to really understand how to make her toes curl over and over again.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

At peace with adversity

You never really appreciate those years in your youth, as a kid, that were so free of everything.  At least, not while you're in it.

I tell my kids this all the time.  "Love these years.  They are the best times of your life."  I see the look on their faces, and I get that they don't exactly grasp what it is I'm getting at.

When we're young, our world is so small.  It's mom and dad (if you're lucky), your best action figure, your favorite candy bar and soda.  It's your aunt's chocolate pie, or grandma's spaghetti.  It's the rain, and mud, Saturday morning cartoons, walking home from school and laughing with your best friend about using curse words for the first time, or sneaking some smokes from his older brother.

It's camping out and roasting marshmallows (look, the burnt kind are always the best, I can never figure out why people just want to fucking "brown" them), then telling fake scary stories to make sure you're scared shitless from every sound in the woods the rest of the night.

These are some of the things that make up our youth.  We never love them as much as we should when they are happening.  That's because we have no context of the life outside of what we're currently living in.  The moment, the's what we know.  Especially then because there's so little we know about life and living, problems, death, taxes, and STD's.

When your world is small, simple problems loom so large.  That's because in a small world, a tiny ripple in the water can feel like a hurricane.  An argument with your best friend, being picked on at school, failing a test, not making the starting team on defense, getting rejected by that girl you took so long to work the nerve up to ask out.

THESE are real problems in that world.  They are.  They really are.  Because in the context of that existing world, it's all we know.  And we don't have the fortune of being experienced enough to know when not to give a fuck, or when to give many.  So everything that falls apart on us, feels like the apocalypse.

I mean, who doesn't remember their first bout of heartache?  That feeling like life could not continue without that person loving you.  Not being able to hold their hand, and exchange those innocent glances that we weren't sure what they meant or what they were about, but made us feel awesome and all tingly inside.  Now that those things are taken away, it made you cry and hurt in a way that you had not experienced before.  It cut deep in a way that losing your best G.I. Joe could not compare to.  And that cut pretty deep, because Snake eyes was your favorite!

But it's that hurt, and those experiences, that eventually make our world bigger, and puts hurt and loss into context and perspective for us, at an individual level.

That's because it's really adversity that takes that tiny world, and expands it just a little bit.  Then each time a new type of loss, or heartache, or conflict arises that world grows a little more.  It becomes a little bigger.  And some problems become a little smaller.

Problems that used to fold us over emotionally, now don't even seem worthy of a yawn.  They feel less inconsequential than turning the page of an ad in that shitty magazine we skim through while waiting in the doctors get an STD test of course.

As we grow, our world grows.  That small circle grows in circumference.  The dots inside that circle that we call our problems, well they never changed in size.  It's just that the circle gets to be so big, that they don't seem significant anymore.  That dot that represented getting turned down by that chic for our date to prom was big in our high school world.

Thirty years later, when you're sitting beside your wife as she fights to survive her battle with cancer, well, that dot of prom rejection is still there.  It still exists.  It's even still the same size it was when it happened all those years before.  But the circle it exists in is so large now, that you never notice it anymore.  You forgot about it long ago.  You're only reminded of it if someone happens to do so for youThen instead of being run over with pain or rejection, you look at that dot with a smile or a laugh.  Because the cancer dot fills up so much of your worlds circle, that everything else feels so insignificant in comparison.

Of course we ultimately get the power to decide how big our "dots" inside our world are going to be.  How much space we allow them to take up inside of that circle.  Not getting that job promotion can seem pretty big, if we want it to.

That is, until something REALLY tragic happens.

Last weekend, I was alerted to the fact that a long time friend of mine, lost his daughter.  She was five.  I don't know that I've ever known a dad so in love with his little girl.  She was his best friend, and the biggest dot in his world.

She was a premature baby, and had always had problems with her lungs.  She had been admitted to the hospital, and after a week of fighting a good strong fight, her little body just couldn't keep it up anymore, and it yielded to the pneumonia.

Upon receiving the news, I began crying.  I knew what she had meant to him, and how much of his world he had built around her.  I dialed his number and left a message.  I cannot remember what I said in those moments, because I was far too emotional over the loss of my friends little girl.

A few days later, my phone rang and it was him.  He told me that my message left HIM in tears, and that I sounded like I had lost my little girl.  That my voicemail was one of the most inspiration things he had ever heard.  He told me that he and his wife had listened to it over and over and over again.

"You're like the white Ray Lewis." he told me in laughter.

Yes, he laughed.  In a time where he was having to make arrangements to bury his precious baby, he still managed to smile about something.  Mainly, my voice mail to him.

I have no idea what I said in it.  I can't recall because I was too emotional, but apparently it was good enough to give some comfort to two people who were dealing with the biggest dot their world had ever decided to blot them with.

Knowing I was able to say something, anything, that gave someone an inkling of reprieve during a time of such loss and bereavement, was astonishing to me.  Probably because I don't believe there would be any words that would comfort me in such a time of loss.  How could it?  Nothing could make me feel any better during a time when my world would be filled up with such an enormous "dot".

I will tell you why it gave my friend some comfort.  Because he allowed it to.

As that tiny world from our youth grows into the larger one we come to live in as adults, we ultimately get our world blotted with more dots; more problems and more anguish.  Our dots can only be as big or as small as we decide they get to be.  They can only take up as much space in our head and heart as we designate for them.

Coming to peace with adversity is something that rang so loudly in my head when I talked to my friend about his daughter passing.  Suddenly, all the "dots" in my world that seemed so very very large, became very very small.

What in my life, did I really have to grieve over at the moment?  Or better yet, what did I have in my life to grieve over that felt justified, when I was reminded what real grief looks like?

Some could say it's simply about putting things back into perspective, and I suppose that's true.  Some could say that you could always say "someone else has it much worse than you" and that's true as well.  Again, that's simply saying "perspective" is the only thing that matters.  But your problems and your trials that exist inside your circle, well, they are still real and they are still yours.  They do feel important, especially in the context of your existence.  They can become large if you let them.  They can become suffocating at times.  Especially when it feels like what you are currently going through, will never end.  We always believe that the present will last forever.  But it never does.  Change is the only constant.  What was yesterday isn't what is today, and tomorrow will be something different as well.

Every moment you survive, your circle expands.  The experience of living life guarantees that.  The size of the dots that fill that circle are generally decided by us.  Sometimes life decides that it will paint a much larger dot than we want at the time.  Possibly so large it engulfs that circle, making everything else that has ever happened to us feel as though it was wiped clean from life's window that we peer out of.  Then all of the other adversities that we felt were of such huge magnitude, shrink very quickly.

No matter how big the "blot" is, it too eventually becomes a place in our world that we find peace with.  Time truly does heal all wounds.  It always does, at least to some degree.  But the significance of that dot remains.  It keeps all the other dots that came before it, and after it, in perspective.  And without perspective, we can't possibly know what's really important, and what is not.

All of my blessing, love, and condolences to the Miller's.  I love you guys.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Training - Press

Bodyweight - 260

Incline Press -
barxa million

315x12.5 spotter touched it, god dammit or would have had the 13.

Cable Rows -
stack x 10,10,10,10

notes - Weather sucks here today.  Very humid, so my elbows and arms were killing me.  Still, just missed a god damn PR with 315 but I won't count it because the spotter touched it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Training Support work

bodyweight - 258

Barbell Rows double overhand no straps -
315x10, 5, 5, 5

Good Mornings -

Shrug Machine -
up to 10 plates x 10,10

Tricep Pushdowns - some weight 4x25

notes - Just assistance work.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

More thoughts on pressing

I had a discussion this morning about pressing, and I want to sort of expound on my incline press article a little bit.

In my opinion, just benching and overhead pressing is not enough. The one constant you will find through the history of strength is that most great pressers, besides having great leverages for it, also did a ton of reps, did dumbbell work, did incline work, did overhead work, did bench work, did dips, did everything.

Not only that, they placed a huge emphasis on arm work. Have you ever met a guy that had great pressing strength that was in possession of spaghetti arms? Probably not (and please don't post a god damn exception to that rule, I hate that with a passion).

Over the last few years, I have rotated in the following movements on a consistent basis.

Incline barbell and dumbbell press

Close Grip and Dumbbell bench

Press Behind the Neck, Clean and Press, Seated dumbbell press

Now, as far as overhead work goes, this whole notion that you have to be standing is ridiculous. You overhead press to work the shoulders. You're not in line at Six Flags. So it doesn't matter if you're standing or seated, you're overhead pressing. And that means building shoulders. Guess what? You can do both seated AND standing. There is no law against that.

For dumbbell work, I recommend picking weights where you can at least hit 8 reps. It's a pain to get heavier dumbbells into position. So pick your dumbbells like you pick the person you're about to bang it out with.


Since you're going to all of that trouble, you might as well pick something you can lay down with for a while.

For pipes, everyone knows I love 100 rep curls now. Great for elbow healthy AND arm growth. Don't care what anyone says. It works.

I can't do a lot of extension type stuff anymore for triceps, but since I close grip over 400 on a regular basis now and my inclines are narrow, I can get by with some rope pushdowns (which are easy on the elbows) and some overhead rope extensions AFTER the rope pushdowns.

I also recommend doing a lot of pause work with all of your flat pressing because this will build tremendous bottom position strength. If you really want to implement this, pause ALL reps and pause the last rep of all your sets for the longest.

Rep out sets are great as well for pressing. If you want any kind of idea about the kind of pres I'm talking about, for the base building method there will be two main rotations. One is a target intensity at 5x8 all reps paused, and another is 5x3 all reps paused. When you throw in the 350 method you're talking a LOT of rep work in a given workout.

I also don't think you need to press twice a week to get stronger pressing either. Some guys do, and some guys don't. I'm just saying, my joints won't take it anymore, and I'm still hitting PR's at a pretty regular clip by simply pressing once a week. I know it's all the rage to train a lift 18 times a week now, but lots and lots and lots of brutally strong pressers train/trained the press once a week.

So to narrow it down -

Train press variations

Get a shit ton of work in (sets and reps)

Train the press once or twice a week, but figure out if you can get away with less because your joints will eventually thank you for it

Train to get big pipes too


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Training - Squats and pulls

Bodyweight - 257 (no carbs last night)

Pause Squats -
500x3 PR


Deadlifts -

Notes - Another really good one.  Felt something pop in my tricep on the last set of pulls but don't think it's anything serious.  I gotta switch my carbs back around to the night BEFORE training.

The pause squats were a PR, and well, quite fucking easy.

The ruler of the unaccomplished....entitlement

en·ti·tle·ment /ɪnˈtaɪtl̟mənt/ nounplural en·ti·tle·ments

1 [noncount] a : the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something
▪ my entitlement to a refund
b : the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges)
▪ celebrities who have an arrogant sense of entitlement
2 [count] US : a type of financial help provided by the government for members of a particular group

Obviously this article isn't going to be about government financial aid, basic human rights, or being an heir to the throne. None of these things generally stand in the way of people becoming stagnant in progress or smug about the things they believe they are deserving of. Though one could make a case for government financial aid being a big enabler in that regard. I will not do so in this article however.

I think that "b" however, sums it up quite nicely.

The FEELING or BELIEF that you DESERVE to be GIVEN something........


To borrow a quote from the enigmatic character Will Munny from the movie Unforgiven, "deserves got nothing to do with it."

One of the most prominent issues with people these days, in my opinion, is so many now in the "participation generation" believe they are owed something. That it is their "right" to have something. By that I mean, something they have not earned or worked for. Maybe it's not fair of me to single out younger people in that regard. So I'll take that back. I think it's a problem with some people just in general.

As usual, this belief spans the entire paradigm of their existence. It saturates their attitude in relation to their job, relationships, love life, and every other endeavour of their undertaking.

Many people believe they are owed something. Where this sense of entitlement comes from, I do not know.

The permeation of it is injected into their words and actions on a continuous basis. When Jamie and I were doing podcasts, for free....on OUR time, people complained that it wasn't on a certain file sharing service or that it wasn't as high quality as they expected.

Here, fuck...and you.

That was time that both of us set aside in our personal life, to dispense either training information, or entertainment. We didn't charge for it. We did it because we enjoyed the banter and because we thought we could help some people out in the process. Yet, people still had complaints. I'll remind once again, that it was free. Yet certain people still felt the need to bitch that it wasn't to their liking in some way. God damn, it was free.

This reminds me of a story I recently heard where this group of fat asses were complaining about all of their food at the IHOP. This dish was too cold, the eggs were too runny, this piece of meat was the manager said the meal was on the house. Yet family fat ass still continued to bitch about said meal. At the point the manager said the meal was free, family fat ass essentially lost their right to bitch, moan, and complain. As far as I'm concerned they did. And I would have chest kicked their fat asses right out of the place until their dogs back home died.

Regarding relationships, I wish I had a dollar for every time I read where a woman wrote "I deserve a good man." Oh really? Why? What basic human right or promise made in life gave you that belief? That you DESERVE a good relationship, or a good man? I'm totally befuddled by this thought process.

A GOOD relationship is generally made up of two people who have each others best interest in mind. That want to fulfill the needs of the other person and that their own happiness is also dependent on the happiness of the other person.

A person who believes they are deserving of something generally only has their own best interest in mind. Which means, they feel all of the needs of the relationship should revolve around them. That they should be emotionally catered to, and that they DESERVE that.

What kind of relationship does that look like for the other person? You know, the one you are so deserving of? Looks pretty shitty from the window I am peering in through.

Both people in a relationship have to be fed properly by the other in order to grow together. If one person is constantly wanting to lay back and be fed grapes by the other, eventually the grape feeder will realize he or she is hungry as well, and will take their grapes someplace else. Namely, to someone else. Don't bitch or moan about a lack of "good partners" in the world if you can't remember the last time you took time out to feed yours properly. Whether that be emotionally, sexually, financially, or mentally. Relationships are a full course meal, and once you start leaving out the meat and potatoes, people will find food elsewhere. It's your fault for believing that you're the only one that requires to be fed. It's your fault that the other person eventually became hungry. Selfishness is a gluttonous whore and she has no idea how to nurture the wants and needs of another.  

People in careers often feel entitled to certain position because of how much time they have put in, or because they kissed X amount of ass. Being in the IT field, I can say that I've been around my fair share of ass kissers, and indeed sometimes this happens (the ass kissers getting moved up the chain) and the right people get passed over. The "right people" generally being the ones that do most of the work, but less of the brown nosing. I can't blame the ass kissers totally, I mean it takes a complete dipshit of a manager to not understand when someone doesn't know what the fuck they are talking about, but promotes them anyway because they're willing to let management run a bukkake chain on them. 

It's generally the person who does just enough to keep their job, but also expects the promotion that has the overwhelming sense of entitlement. The "worker" doesn't care about that shit, and the ass kisser, well, that person is working hard at ass kissing. So they are both doing something that is at least productive in some kind of way.

Developing a sense of entitlement is exactly what you need to do if you desire nothing. Procrastination is the lipstick worn in copious amounts by the lips that apply the kiss of death to any form of progress or growth in our/your life. And entitlement is the body those poisonous lips are attached to.


Developing a sense of NEED for something earned, constant earning, will always produce growth. Even if it's just a modicum of growth and betterment, it's still better than dying an agonizingly slow death because your attitude reflected that of a spoiled rotten child.

Always earned.

Never given.

That's the attitude required for person growth.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In praise of the incline

Back when I first got into lifting, I followed bodybuilding because well, that's what was available for me to read.  Bodybuilding rags.  Ironman, MuscleMag, Muscle and Fitness, Flex, etc all filled the magazine shelf each month, and I bought them all.

Without fail every month there would be a special on building some kind of barreled/huge/thick/slabs of pecs (boy that felt homoerotic).  Funny enough, the common theme in those articles was always that the incline press be the staple of your chest pressing.

You see, in bodybuilding it's more important to have more muscle mass in the upper pectoral region.  This gives a more aesthetic appearance and makes one look "prettier" if you feel.  I mean seriously, there's nothing worse looking than a case of some saggy boobs....or moobs.

The dumbbell variation is solid as well

While I benched plenty when I was younger (who doesn't?), I never neglected my incline.  I always did a lot of incline work, sometimes even dropping the flat bench for long periods in favor of it.  Without fail, if my incline went up during this time, I could go back to flat bench and find a bigger press there too.

Now this sort of goes against my own theory of specificity reigning.  If you want a big squat, squat.  Don't box squat.  If you want a bigger pull, you gotta spend some time pulling.  If you want a bigger bench, then bench.  I still believe this to be true, however over the years my ability to bench more often has declined due to my creaky elbows and the fact that my permanently separated shoulder causes my pec tendons to get inflamed and painful.

This is what eventually caused me to create my split of inclining one week, then benching the next.  I never found this to hurt my bench, and often helped it by giving my elbows and such a break.

I'm not the only one that has found this to be beneficial as I've received tons of write ins from guys who ran the "all my shit hurts" split with great success.

All My Shit Hurts Split - 

Week 1 -
Bench (heavy) - 5,4,3,2,1,1,1 (no back offs)
Incline (light) - 225 or 250 for max reps x 2 sets

Week 2 -
Incline (heavy) - up to a top triple, 1x8-10 back off
Overhead Press - medium weight - 2 sets all out

This was the routine that helped get my bench back up to over 400 on a consistent basis.  Since then I've done many modifications of it.  For this past meet, this is how it looked most of the time.  

Week 1 - 
Bench - base building work, then later the short cycle

Week 2 - 
Incline - base building work

That was pretty much it.  Lots of volume from either option 1 or option 2 of my base building cycles, then later into the peaking stuff.  

In retrospect what I should have done, is taken one of the incline weeks and thrown the 350 method back into it.  The amount of volume that I do now week after week will in fact take a toll on the joints, even using lower intensities.  So backing way off to get some blood moving through there would have probably benefited me quite a bit.  

So basically just swap out one week of base building incline work, with the 350 method.  

Let me also add that one thing I've always noticed about guys with good inclines is that they were both good at benching AND overhead pressing.  I've known lots of shitty benchers that could overhead well, and lots of great benchers that couldn't overhead press well.  I don't know of any guys that can incline pretty well that can't bench and overhead pretty good as well.  From a "duh" kind of perspective, it's probably because incline falls between those two pressing angles.  So if you get good at incline, you'll probably see some carryover to one or the other, or both.  Just my own opinion.  

Actually incline pressing.....

I do not bring the bar down all the way to my chest, no.  I talked to John Meadows about this because he does the same thing.  Cuts the ROM just an inch or so short.  He told me he does so for the same reason, because it's much harder on the shoulders to come all the way down to the chest.  I can vouch for this.  I can't incline without pain if I come all the way down to the chest, so I cut the ROM an inch or so short.  I also learned this years and years ago from IFBB Pro Chris Cormier, who had a 500+ incline and did this as well.  

If you feel better bringing the bar all the way down to your chest, do so.  If it gives you pain or discomfort, shorten the ROM that inch or so and try that.  

I never think of all the trivial things to mention however the bar path on incline is pretty simplistic.  You bring it down to your upper chest area, and press it straight back up.  This is one of the reasons why I like the incline for beginners rather than the bench, and that's because there is no "set up".  There isn't anything to worry about other than mostly lying down on the incline bench, and doing some pressing.  There is a brutal simplicity to it that I like in that way.  

Some benchers with a huge arch and small ROM due to setup, might hate the incline because it exposes their pressing as being weak.  If they just competes in powerlifting and their pressing really revolves around technique, that's fine.  However I am in the gym to actually be strong as well. And I think one of the things about being strong is that you need to be strong, period.  If someone wants to do a new movement, you shouldn't be weak as shit on it because you can't squeeze yourself into some sort of leverage advantage.  I'm not saying getting better leverages isn't a part of actually lifting more weight, but there is a difference in being "strong" and using leverages.  Some people are going to argue with that, and I don't give a fuck.  Anyone who has been around the iron long enough knows the difference.  

I also believe, and so do lots of S&C coaches, that the incline offers better application for sports strength.  

From Charles Poliquin.....

Let’s make something clear before we go any further. Incline pressing 280 kilos does not guarantee you a gold medal in the shot put at the Olympics, but improving your incline press strongly correlates with improving shot put performance. Thus, if you already have good mechanics in putting the shot or throwing baseballs, concentrating on improving incline presses will do more for your shot put performance than spending hours at the dipping station.

Next, throughout the years, for all lower body sports that require speed, I have found there is an optimal ratio that, when achieved, translates into short-distance improvement. For example, in short-track speedskating, when the incline press reaches 85 percent of the front squat, you get the best potential speed for the 500 meters. Of course, the skater should also work on getting his or her front squat numbers as high as possible.

If you are going to choose only one test to measure shoulder flexion and elbow extension strength, an excellent choice is the incline bench press performed with a barbell.

Although the bench press is one of the basic tests used in the NFL combine, it is overrated as an upper body maximal strength test. The pressing angle of an incline bench press is more specific in terms of sporting movement due to the shoulder joint angle in relation to the trunk. Whether it is a punch delivered in boxing, the release of a shot put, or the push-off position in the short-track speed skating relay, you will notice that the upper arm is at a 45-degree angle upward in relation to the trunk. There are also many sporting movements where one pushes with the upper arm directly at 90 degrees to the trunk.

The last many years the incline has taken a back seat to guys just wanting to bench and overhead press, and I don't know why.  I am pretty much an overhead pressing phenom and I can tell you that I never did a thing to make that happen other than show up at the gym.  Overhead work also never did a single thing for my other lifts.  

If you've been slaving away at your pressing for a while with no results and aren't doing incline I suggest you rotate some inclines in for a while and see what happens.  You're not going to get weaker, so I'm not sure why you're not doing them.  If you don't do them because you suck at them, that's probably an even better reason to do them.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Be proud!

Every week I get e-mails and testimonials from men and women thanking me for what I write, my programs, my honesty about struggles in life, so forth and so on. They tell me about the improvements that they made in their training from those things, and then almost without fail, they follow that up with something to the effect of "I know my numbers aren't elite" or "I know it's not superhuman level".

Listen, the numbers you work for and the progress you made, you should always be proud of.


They are YOUR numbers. It is your progress, and your journey. You put in the time and effort to achieve it, so be proud of that. There's not a damn thing in the world wrong with being proud of the fruits of your labor. No one gave it to you. It wasn't found on the side of the road. You didn't run down to Wal-Mart and purchase it.

You worked for it.

Never downplay those accomplishments. If you went from a 95 pound bench to a 135 pound bench, then HELL YEAH! Stop comparing yourself to what others do. I've written this countless times. It doesn't matter what they do! It has no bearing on your own journey. Understand and grok the shit out of that.

If you fall short of your goals, sulk about it for a bit, then get back on your war horse and do work.

But NEVER EVER downplay the results of the work that YOU put in. Always be proud of your accomplishments when you achieve them, and then set new goals that you can be proud of when you arrive there as well.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Heavy pressing with some PR's

Bodyweight - 265

Incline Press -

365x8 PR
405x1.5 PR

Db Bench - 150's x 9 PR  100's x 25

Flex Machine Rows - 5x15

Notes - Happy with PR's.

Thoughts about life, crap, training and stuff - Rights,wrongs, attitude, and sorrow

Everyone coulda, woulda, shoulda.

If I just WOULDA picked 633-430-670 I walk away from the nationals with a 1733 total, no belt, on a pretty badly torn groin.  I probably COULDA picked 640-435-675 and still made it, for 1750.  However neither of those happened.

Since then, I've had time to reflect and on what I could have done differently going into the meet, and what things I thought went well, or that I thought I did well.

So let's get to it.

Things I couda, woulda, shoulda done different or better - 

Benched less - 

Because of my separated shoulder, I really can't bench every other week for more than about 4-5 times (8-10 weeks) before things get problematic.  I think the week I hit that VERY FAST 405, I was as good as I was going to get.  It's not a "strength" issue.  It's that my pec tendons, brachialis, and elbows all get so beat up and sore that benching hurts very badly.  That's one of the drawbacks about benching close grip with a lot of volume.  The brachialis contract so hard that eventually mine get to where it's painful to bench effectively.  Same for my pec tendons and elbows.  Because bench training had been going so well however, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I pushed out bench training a few more weeks than I should have.  You also must remember that I am inclining heavy during this period as well.

For someone who does not have these issues, I still recommend benching every week, with a lot of volume.  That is really going to drive the bench fast.  However for someone like myself, this cycle will help me understand how many weeks I can plan for benching in the future.  On the strong-15 short cycle, that's going to be about 3 total bench sessions, with almost no benching done coming into it.  I may have to pare benching back to once a month with inclines and dumbbell work being the stuff I do in between.

Kept up the abductor and adductor machine work - 

The first 5 weeks of training, I had a day dedicated to a lot of "pre-hab" work like the good girl and bad girl machines.  I kept on top of this religiously, and I felt like it was indeed doing a good job of keeping my legs feeling "healthy".  Eventually I dropped that day because I felt like I was "ok" and no longer needed it.  I have no idea if dropping this day contributed to my groin tear, however I think dropping it was not a great idea.  I have a history with adductor tears/strains so I REALLY need to stay on top of that good girl machine.  Not to mention that the stronger your adductors, the more stable your squat will feel, so the stronger it should feel.  I plan on making the adductor machine literally one of the main movements I don't do without starting this week.

The blood pooling has started on the inside of my leg (I will get a good pic up this week) so the tear was probably a bit more significant than I initially realized.  Either that, or I tore it more when I took the 611 squat.  My left knee hurts as well right now, and the reason I believe that to be is because I squatted again this past week, and immediately I could feel my body "shift" to protect the groin, and move the load bearing over to my left leg, where my knee traveled far more forward than usual.

Kept in the 350 method - 

I also eventually dropped the 350 method in favor of heavier high volumed inclines as well.  I also feel like this contributed to getting more beat up in the shoulders/elbows/pecs over the 9+ weeks.  The 350 method gives a nice break joint wise, while getting a lot of blood moving, offers a change of pace mentally (which I feel is important over a long cycle), and and certainly helps with some muscle growth.  Being pain free for me, is often the biggest difference between being able to press very strong, and not being able to.  So once I started getting beat up, I found everything got way harder because of the pain.  When I was still pain free, weights were flying and I felt like the 450 close grip bench was pretty much a lock.

I think a good rotation for myself going into the peaking work, would/could have been something like so....

Week 1 - benching - heavy/high volume
Week 2 - incline - 350 method
Week 3 - benching - lighter - low volume reps big-15 method for rep PR
Week 4 - incline - heavy/high volume

Peaking wise -

Week 1 - bench up to 385
Week 2 - incline 350
Week 3 - bench up to 405
Week 4 - heavy incline for volume
Week 5 - bench up to 425

This would have set me up for the 450 I was chasing, without so getting beat up, I believe.

This is something I will be covering in the base building book as well.  Everything has a point of diminishing returns.  There is only so much volume you can do before that has no real benefit.  You can only train balls out on 1 rep sets for rep PR's before you hit a wall there as well.  The best method, even for base building, incorporates all of these methods through time that way you can avoid overuse, or diminishing returns.  That will be a big part of what base building does.

Slept better - 

I basically didn't sleep for the whole peaking cycle.  I mean, I did, but it was 3-4 hours some nights, an hour other nights.  The one deadlift video where I almost blacked out was a big "wake up" call (not sure if pun is intended or not) for me, that I needed to do something.

Eventually I found this stuff called "Calm" that helped a lot.  It's a mag supplement and I was able to cope a little better using that.  I also took a Valium the night before the meet, but I'm not sure at this point if that played a role in me not feeling worth a shit the day of the meet (felt like I still wanted to be sleeping).

Some things I felt I did right - 

The weight cut - 

This was not hard.  I cut all carbs for the most part (a piece of fruit here and there during the day) for two weeks.  This brought my down to 251.  I drank three gallons of water for three days, 2 gallons for 2 days, then basically a little less than a gallon the last day then cut all water off at 7 P.M.  I did two hot baths the next morning and made weight at 241. I dropped food during this time to eggs, chicken, and protein shakes.

All I did to find this "secret" method was use the Google machine, and then run it by Jamie to make sure it looked good. Yet I've been asked 1,802,849 times to document the weight cut I used like it was some big secret.  I literally just googled it, found some reputable sources and implemented it.  I don't know why I find it annoying when people ask me to document this particular thing, but I do.  I've never done a weight cut, but to me figuring out the process was not difficult, and I used the same resources to figure out how to do it as everyone else has access to.

Pulled heavy for the last time two weeks out - 

I was a little worried about this, so I ran it by 900+ deadlifter and pro strongman Vince Urbank, and he told me that's what he did.  In fact, Vince told me that sometimes he pulls his last big deadlift three weeks out.  My heaviest pull was a deficit pull of 605x2x2.  The next week I pulled 500 for a single, and the next week 365x3.  At the meet, I pulled a fairly easy 655, injured.

The reason this ended up happening was actually me just listening to my body.  I was set to pull 620x3 from the deficit the next week, but my mind and body were just revolting.  So I just pulled 500 for a "not so crisp" single and knew that backing off was a good idea.  No one gets "weaker" while they are training on a consistent basis, but your ability to demonstrate strength can be waning because your recovery curve is still in the negative.  This is where I felt like I was at the time, so I basically started a "deload" after the 605x2x2 and went from there.

Did lots of rows - 

I really dedicated myself to doing a lot of rows this past training cycle, and I felt like it paid off.  By the time I pulled my groin was so tight that getting down to the bar was a bit of a chore, however I felt very strong off the floor and through the whole ROM and I believe that all of the rowing and upperback work I did was a big part of that.  I hate rowing, or at least I have in the past, but I found two movements I liked enough to be consistent with them.

One was the Flex Machine row.  It's a machine made by "Flex".  It's seated with a chest support.  I generally do these after heavy pressing.  The other row was done on Saturday's as a main movement, and it was just the good ol barbell row.  The difference is, I did it without straps and double overhand.  I also did not get sloppy with my form of course.  My best was 315x10, I believe. I will stick with both of these because I find I do them pretty consistently.  That is always the most important factor in picking what work you're going to be doing.  The work you know you'll do consistently.

Attitude - 

Lifting is such a mental game.  Numbers can fuck with your head for a very long time until you finally conquer them.  This is why it's very important to hit certain weights for certain reps, and to constantly reinforce you are "good" to move certain weights.

Creating an undying belief that you can do something will eventually cement it in your mind that you can.

It's vitally important to still believe you can accomplish something, even after you fail many times trying.

Remember, you're not working to silence your critics, you're working to silence your doubts.

It's not about saying "fuck the haters" or "fuck the doubters"'s about not hating yourself for failing, and saying "fuck the doubts" you have within yourself.

Believe in what you are capable of, to an unhealthy degree.  If people want to say that's arrogant, that's fine. If people want to say "you have to accomplish it before you can say you did it, that's true.  However you can say all day "I CAN...." and that's a healthy fucking attitude.  That attitude is required for success.  The day you replace "I can..." with "I hope..." the day you start expecting less from yourself.

Sorrow - 

Last, but most certainly not least, just to keep all of this in perspective....a long time friend of mine lost his daughter this week.  She was everything to him.  I don't know that I've known a more doting and proud father than him.  She was his entire world, and upon receiving this news yesterday, I began crying.  I can't imagine the pain that my friend is in or what he is going through.  I shed tears because I can't even begin to fathom even the modicum of anguish that he must be experiencing right now.  

Powerlifting and weights and all of these things, they are trivial and insignificant things in the grand scheme of life.  People debate tirelessly over what system does what and what lift does what, and what food is good for this and that, and then.........LIFE, real fucking meaningful life sledge hammers you, and you remember that there are things in this world far more important than worrying about arguing over such nonsense.  

Chuck, my thoughts and our love are with you and your family right now.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The importance of the every day max

One of the biggest reasons so many training programs fail is the lack of honesty on the part of the lifter.

Our goals and aspirations often cause us to take a "shoot for the moon" mentality, and more often than not that FAILS because it does not take into consideration that well, we're not being realistic.

I absolutely hate the mentality of "no limits" because we ALL have limits, and when you sit down and decide to make a productive training program, you have to be very aware of your limits in order to actually push PAST THEM.

This is one of the reasons that an EVERY DAY MAX is what you should be programming around. That day that you managed to bench a PR by 20 pounds is NOT what you should be basing your training cycles around. It's what you are good for on an every day basis. That is your baseline. When you improve your baseline, you will be able to improve the peak associated with that baseline.

This is how intelligent training is programmed.

Grinding weights week after week eventually causes people to stall in progress, or get injured because the fatigue curve gets too steep, and the supercompensation curve is negated. This is backed over and over and over again by what we've seen from the Russians and other strength systems that have been kicking our ass.

Pushing your baseline strength level can be done without deloads, lessens the chance of injury, and keep training cycles consistent.

This is going to be a whole chapter in the new Base Building book.  There's so much more to cover about the importance of programming around your average, rather than your exception.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Great bench testimonial

Hi Paul,

I wanted to let you know that your programs have helped me achieve something I never thought I could. This past Friday I benched 300 lbs for the first time ever. I know 300 isn't all that much for a lot of guys, but it's a huge milestone for me. I grew up heavy, weak and slow and it wasn't until I started lifting that I thought I was capable of anything athletic at all. I've been running the programs from SLL and more recently LRB365 and have had a complete transformation in how I view what I can and "can't" do. When I took the barbell out of the rack, paused it on my chest. and pressed it back up I just couldn't believe it. I actually had to check the bar to make sure it was as heavy as I thought. I felt strong for the first time in a very long time, but better than that, when my wife saw me complete the lift she gave me a huge smile and looked damn proud, and I can't tell you how good that made me feel. Thank you sir, your writing is giving folks strength and pride, and I for one think that's damn important work! Thanks again. 


I always love getting these.  As I've written about lately, times have been rough, and I've had some pretty rotten days, so when I wake up to these kinds of e-mails it really does make me feel good about the time and effort I put in to writing here.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Numbers and people. The meet recap.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

No quote could be more fitting than how my meet turned out, however at the same time I don't know that I would be doing the whole weekend justice by attaching such a negative connotation to it.  So overall, I won't do that, because that just isn't the case.

To start, the last few months have been tremendously hard for me personally.  I've been dealing with an incredible amount of personal issues and life problems that have hurt both my sleeping and my training at times.  Anyone who saw my deadlift video where I pulled 585 and almost passed out knows this.  That wasn't due to anything other than not having slept but for a total of about 5 hours over three days.  I've had months like that in terms of sleep lately.  Going days on end while getting a couple of hours of sleep here and there.

My training went well overall, especially for the first 5 weeks or so, but eventually the waters started rising and the lack of sleep and stress started to catch up with me.  I still hit what I felt like I needed to hit in training to be good for my goals at the meet, but my enthusiasm for even making the trip started to wane and my resolve took a hit.  The last week and a half of training it took every bit of willpower that I had to just get into the gym.

This is not a pity party, by any means.  Everyone goes through battles and adversity in life and deals with the tolls it takes on them.  I am by no means unique in this way.  It's just that the timing of it coincided with meet training and the meet itself.

The weight cut - 

I also had to do a weight cut this time as well.  Since I've had a million people ask how I did it, I will tell you that all I did was fucking google how to do it, then ran it by Jamie.  I've never done a weight cut, yet I found the same info over and over and over again.  It's just water manipulation. But since I'm writing about it anyway, I will tell you.

I was as heavy as 261 two weeks out.  I cut out all carbs at that point.  That's what I call phase 1. My whole diet was as so..............

Breakfast - 4 whole eggs with cheese
Lunch - 8 ounces of chicken with almonds
2:30 - Shake with PB
5:30 - Whey
Post training whey
Dinner - 4 eggs with cheese, salsa, and sour cream
10:30 - 2 cups cottage cheese and PB

Phase 2 was just water manipulation.  Nothing any different than I read online or what Jamie does and consulted with him throughout.  He was a huge part in keeping my head straight through this process.  I can't give Jamie enough credit for keeping me relaxed and focused through this process.

The weigh in was on Friday morning.  So 6 days before the meet (that would be the previous Saturday in case you're going to ask) I started drinking three gallons of water a day.  I did so for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesday, I drank two gallons of water.  I also added in some Vitamin waters here and there because of the flushing effect that can have on your body in that regard (vitamins and minerals).  That could totally be broscience, but it made me feel better anyway.

Thursday I drank maybe a gallon, about half a gallon that morning, then just sipped water here and there until 7 P.M.  That night at the hotel, I went to the weigh in room to see what the scale said.  251.  Just like when I left home.

In fact, one thing I did was track my weight at night and in the morning the whole time, to see what kind of "play" I was going to have the morning of the weigh in.

Here's how it went.

Sat morning - 254

Sat evening - 258

Sun Morning - 254

Sun evening - 256

Monday Morning - 253

Monday evening - 257

Tuesday morning - 254

Tuesday evening - 254

Wednesday morning - 252

Wednesday night - 256

Thursday morning - 251

So as you can see, it was about 3-4 pounds give or take in the difference between my night and morning weight.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  Either way, you're going to want to know how much play you get out of that alone.

I hung out with some guys at the hotel for a while just shooting the shit, and after a few hours I weighed again.  248.  So now, I only had to cut 6 pounds, and I knew I would have maybe 2-3 pounds of play overnight.  The reason why I say that, is because after you dehydrate you get less play overnight than you had previously.

Friday - 

I woke up on Friday morning at 4:45 and did a long, super hot bath and left the shower running to get a "steam room" going.  After that I went down and weighed in.  243.8.  Not good enough yet.  Another hot bath and steam room finally brought me down to 241.  After that the hydrating and eating commenced.  Pedialyte went first, and from then on I did a mixture of Gatorade, salt, and creatine.  I drank this about as often as I could.  I also ate as much junk as I could, but everything seemed to settle into my stomach and I was not "filling out" like I had hoped.

That afternoon Brandon Lilly showed up to do a seminar and we hung out for a long while.  Brandon and I actually go back quite a ways in terms of knowing each other online, but have never actually met.

Brandon told me that it was a good idea, after hydrating and eating, to get in a light workout because just eating and drinking doesn't get as much water back into the muscles as say, using an IV bag.  That a lot of guys rehydrate but everything stays right in their gut, which is exactly how I felt.  So I headed off to the little weight room in the hotel and got in a quick session.  Sure enough, the stomach flattened out and I seemed WAY fuller.

The only problem now was, I was so exhausted all I could think about was crawling in the bed and going to sleep.  I do not believe this was from the cut.  I really don't.  I had felt like that for days, and my youngest kid was also complaining of being very tired and sleeping the day away.  Every day it was a struggle to just get out of the bed.  I have no idea why, but it was.

That evening Brandon and I had dinner and talked a lot about life, love, training, overcoming personal demons, kids, and things that matter.  I had a guy write to me once, and tell me that I write a bunch of "nancy boy shit".  I laughed.

I hate to tell you, but these are the things that real men talk about.  Because these are the things that a quality life is made up of.  Overcoming adversities, dealing with struggles, fighting your way out of the darkness.  Everyone goes through these things, and strong men know this.  They are secure enough to talk about the times when they were weak, when they made mistakes, and how it's no ones fault but their own for finding themselves in the position they are in.  There's nothing "Nancy boy" about that.  That's real talk.

My training partner also competed Friday morning, so I spent that morning coaching her up and picking her attempts.  Her goals were to squat 140, bench 105, and deadlift 220.  I felt like she was good for all of those based on what she did in training.  She went out and smoked her opener and second attempts on squats which were 99 and 126 pounds.  From there I went aggressive and decided I wanted to give her a shot at the world record for her age and weight class.  So I went with 154.  She missed that attempt, but gave it a valiant effort.  She opened on bench and nailed that, then was red lighted on her second attempt for lowering the bar too fast (not enough control), but she pressed it easily.  She just missed her third attempt, which I believe was 110, but will have to check.

On pulls, she really wanted that 220.  I don't remember her opener but she smoked her second which was 198.  I felt like she really had a shot at 220, and she pulled it fast off the floor, then just barely missed it at lock out.  I mean it was as close as you can get without locking it out.  I embraced her after her miss, and told her how proud I was of her.  She trained hard for this meet and let me tell you, she's hooked.  She had a great time and asked me within hours "what meet are we doing next, daddy?"  Just writing that makes me eyes water up.  I can't express in words how proud I am of her for training her ass off and competing like she did.  She's amazing.  It's my honor to be able to train with her each week and have such inspiration right in front of me.

I would also like to mention Ellen Stein.  A 60 year old firecracker that broke about 75 world records that day.  She squatted 336, benched 176, and just missed a 391 deadlift.  She was amazing, not only as a lifter, but her personality was radiant and full of life.  It was amazing to watch her lift and compete, and what powerlifting is really all about.  Not just hitting numbers, but enjoying what you're doing and living it to the fullest.  She also was very encouraging to Hannah, as were all the ladies.  It was an incredible day and despite me feeling like shit, was a blessing to be a part of.

Saturday - 

I checked my weight Saturday morning and I was good.  260 on the nose.  But I still felt like shit.  I even took a Valium the night before and slept for about 8 hours.  But I still felt like I was walking in mud, and had no energy.  I do NOT think it was the weight cut.  I know someone will chime in that it was, but I felt like this a few days prior to it.  In fact, as I write this, I still feel pretty crappy.  Tired and worn out.

I ran into David Keilman, a guy I got to know at the 2011 Nationals, and asked him what he planned on hitting that day.  He handed me a notepad and I looked at his openers, seconds, and thirds.

"Why the hell are they so close?" I said.

"That's just how I picked em." he said.

I shook my head.  "You're going to be tired as fuck by the time you get to your thirds opening this heavy, and then taking seconds so close to your third.

I can never figure this out, and guys do this all the time.  If you want to squat say, 650, why are you opening at 600?  You're going to open at more than 90% of your planned third?  Why?  It's a waste of energy.

I told David what I felt like he should do in order to hit all of his goals.  He was hesitant at first, but later I saw him at the judges table, and he told me "I'm gonna do what you say." in a very "this shit better work" kinda way.  I laughed and told him "it'll work."

Warming up - 

Warm ups felt like shit.  I had no explosion and no pop.  I told Brandon several times that I felt completely shitty, drained, and that everything felt off.  He reiterated to me that he felt the same way for the SuperTraining meet, but eventually it all came together after getting hydrated.  I didn't feel like hydration was a problem at this point, but I was hoping for the best anyway.

The best would not come during my warm ups, however.  On my last warm up with 500, I sunk it into the hole and my right groin popped.  I literally stopped in the hole and thought to myself, "you gotta be fucking kidding me..."  

I walked over to Brandon and he asked what happened.  I told him that I popped my groin.  That it was pretty bad.

The next words that Brandon said to me, in all honesty, is what got me through this meet.

"You better warrior the fuck up then."  

I went and lowered my opener to a mere 550.  I was going to open at 570, but I had no idea how the groin would hold up at this point now.  I had this vision in my head of sinking into the hole with 570 and my whole leg just exploding.  But I wanted to stay in the meet, so I figured even with half a leg I could muster out 550. I mean, it's 550 for the love of God.

I took my opener and walked it out, sunk it, and well, it hurt really, really fucking bad. I won't lie.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a very high pain tolerance.  Not a "oh look I'm a tough guy" kind, but a "I don't know that I'm actually hurt" kind.  This shit hurt though.  The lift itself did not feel "heavy", but as anyone that has tried to lift injured can attest to, you cannot lift with all of your power when you are favoring something.  So the entire time I was lowering into the hole, I was "feeling" for that injury.  It didn't get worse, but it did feel like someone was jamming a knife into my crotch.  Generally you have to pay extra for that sort of treatment but on this day, it was free of charge.

I checked with B (that's what I call Brandon) after my opener.

"611?" I said.

He laughed.  "I was gonna say 610, yeah.  You're going to need to make sure you get more knee forward action and not much side to side, otherwise that groin isn't going to hold up."

I nodded in agreement because I already knew that was going to be the case.  I was going to have to sort of "hide" the adductors/groin a little bit in the next squat if I was to make it, and spread the load more across the quads.

Luckily, I was able to do that and I eased through 611, even with the knife stab to the crotch.

When I came off the platform, Chris Pappillion, who went 2,176 single ply that day, grabbed me and said "man that was cake, you gotta go 640."  I thought about it for a second, but then decided to pass on my third.

I've gone back and forth on this many times.  I could have easily called 633-640 and made that lift IF IF IF my groin would have held up.  However I wanted to stay in the meet and be able to pull something halfway decent as well.  I feared that even if I made the 640, I might be too fucked up to pull 650+ so it would end up being a wash.  In the shape I was currently in, I still figured I could muster up a 650+ pull.

At that point, Ed Coan came up to me and poked me, saying "you have a 700 squat in you if you're healthy, and if you tweak your technique just a little bit.  You got your elbows back on you just a little too much on that one, but it was still easy."

Ok, so Ed Coan thinks I have a 700 beltless squat in me.  I do.  I won't argue and neither can you.  It's Ed Coan, so fuck you.  Also, as I watched the video, he was right.  I didn't stay enough "chest out" enough, and my elbows got "up" on me too much.  Probably because I was having to "think" too much on that squat and not just let my body do the work.

On this day however, I did not squat 700.  I did however have a 611 in the bag and on the books.  If I could pull off a 440-450 bench and a 650 pull I would still break 1700.  On this day, feeling like dog shit and injured, that wouldn't be half atrocious I thought.  And my bench training had gone really well, so I thought I'd have a shot at it.  

However this was to be a Murphey's day and during warm ups, bench felt like SHHHHIIIIITTTT.  I did a double at 335 before my opener of 380.  I don't get hand offs in the bench because I like to unrack it myself, however for some reason I was an idiot when getting my rack heights done, and went WAY too low.  It took more strength to get 380 off the pins than it did to press it.

B came over to me after the opener and asked if I wanted a hand off for the next one, and I said yeah.  So I took 418 and it felt about like I expected.

Here was the moment of truth.  Brandon and I both agreed that I could go 430 and make that, but I've done 430 before, and really came to bench 450.  I knew 450 wasn't there on this day, so I asked B what he thought about 440.

"..............if you hit it, just right, and I mean just right, it might be there.  But it's going to have to be one of those perfect lifts."  

I went over to the judges table, and I looked at 435 for a long while.  I figured 435 would be there even if I was just slightly off, however sometimes you just get a number stuck in your head and I called for the 440.

Brandon was right.  It had to be a perfect lift, and unfortunately, it was not.  If you watch, as I press, the bar drifts back ever so slightly out of the groove.  I believe that's probably the cause for the miss there.

After bench it was a pretty good while before we would start pulls.  During that time I goofed off with Scott Smith, Brandon, Ed, Chris, Frank Russo, and Larry Brown.  Mainly though, I listened to Scott be angry about missing his second and third squats because he couldn't get set up, and he knew Chris would be talking shit about it the whole time.  Now, I read the write up on and it's incredibly embellished.

Scott was mad, and he did slap Chris' hand away, but in a manner that you do with your boy.  Not in an angry way.  Chris laughed about it, and Scott told him to go "talk shit on the internet like you always do."  It was a good time, nothing serious.

However, the highlight of the whole weekend, was watching Coan do fucking karate on people at the meet.  Eventually Chris, Brandon, and myself made our way over to him and we started talking about fighting and shit.  Being a guy that did plenty of martial arts training, I talked with Ed about this and that, and even put him in the clinch at one point.  I can't tell you how hard I was laughing inside the whole time thinking "I've got Ed Coan in the fucking clinch right now.  This is bizarre."  Ed also broke out his knife, and we started discussing slashing and knife fighting.  I shit you not.  Here, look...........

Deadlifts - 

By the time pulls rolled around I was pretty much finished off.  I drank another Full Throttle just in order to stay awake at that point.  My leg was throbbing, and I really had no idea what pulling was going to feel like.  I wanted to finish strong, and my good buddy Swede texted me, telling me "get your mind right."  I knew at this point, that was the only option I had if I was going to pull anything worth while.  Finishing out a bad day on a good note seemed possible if I dug deep.  I took a deep breath and realized it was possible if I could muster up the last bit of energy that fucking cinnamon roll had to offer.

Scott Smith looked at me as the second flight of deadlifts were going through their second attempts.  We were in the third flight.

"You wanna do a plate?" he said, referring to pulling 135.

"Sure." I said.

We pulled a plate.

After a while we pulled 225 a few times.  Then 315.

455 felt awful.  And 500 felt like a damn near max.  Every time I reached down to grab the bar, my groin reminded me of how awful he felt, and that he did not want to pick up heavy things at the moment.

"How the fuck am I going to even pull my opener of 570 right now?" I thought.

But I did.  Not only did I, I smoked the shit out of it.  Then I smoked 633, and called for 655, and that wasn't a max either.

Once again, when I came off Chris greeted me to tell me I undershot my attempt.

"You had 20 more in you." he said.

He's probably right.  I could have gone 675.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.  I don't think any of us do too many meets where we walk away and don't question attempts or misses.  On a badly pulled groin, my training still set me up for 640-435-675.  1750, no belt at 242.  The goal, starting from months ago was 1800.  You always train for your best day.  Otherwise, what's the point?  650-450-700.  On my best day, I believe that was there.  But you often times learn more from your worst days, than your best days.  The only time you fail, is when you decide to quit for good.  That getting back up is no longer an option.

More than numbers, I met some great people this weekend, had some great conversations, and created some great memories.  THOSE THINGS, are the things that life is about.  All of us that compete, will always be chasing some number.  Losing sight of life in the process of that would be a tragedy.  I'll hit 1800 no belt.  My training cycle was good enough for that this time.  I just had a lot of external factors that played a part in my mental and physical state.  Sleep is a big part of recovery, and I got very little.  As one of my best friends told me regarding this past weekend "with everything you had going on, I'm impressed that you even competed."  Add in an injury to that and that was my day.  It's fine.  It's just powerlifting.  I'm not curing cancer.

There are too many people to thank however it wouldn't be fair not to name some.  Jason Pegg, for being the bestest and most loyal friend ever to me.  I love you, and don't know what I'd do without your friendship sometimes.  Yes, "that's gay".  Deal with it.

Swede, Webb, and Lockhart, for the encouragement.  It meant a lot.  More than you know.  Brandon Lilly, for supporting me all day.  Chris Pappillion and Scott Smith for providing hourly entertainment.  To Jamie Lewis for helping me with my cut, and for being a great friend the last few weeks.  To Lance Karabel for putting on a great meet, but more importantly for being a great friend and confidant.

To the bestest training partner ever, my Hannah,  for showing me what effort is really about.  To my wife and entire family for supporting me, getting me food, water, and cheering me on.

I have so many great people in my life that at times I feel overwhelmed.  Life is not always easy, and it's not supposed to be I guess, but I realize as I write this, that I have many great people in my life and I love them all.  It feels good to love people, and for them to love you back.  

By the way, one final note about the meet.........David went 9 for 9 with 4 total PR's after I picked his attempts.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Almost Chicago bound

In less than 15 hours I will be in Chicago.  I know there has to be a miserable part to this weight cutting ordeal but so far I'm just drinking a ton of water.  Jamie tells me it all goes off in the last 36 hours or so, but I'm still sitting at around 254 pounds.  So we'll see what I weigh tomorrow morning.  My guess is 251ish.

Not a whole lot left to write.  I should see the Lilliebridge family Friday and it will be great to catch up with them.

I will get pics, vids, and updates as quickly as I can.  I want to thank everyone who has wished me well and fingers crossed that I don't blow anything out at this meet, hit something decent, and make it a worthwhile trip.

I'm more excited about my training partner lifting than my own.  I think she's going to kill it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Base building teaser.......

Building your own masterpiece -   What is base building?

No great monument, building, or structure can be built on a faulty foundation and remain standing for very long.  The foundation is where it all starts, and what sets the stage for building greatness.  Without a thick, solid, and tight base (that’s right I just went there) there can be no magnificent “anything” to behold. 
Building your physique and strength has the same underlying principle.  You need to build all of the components that create a great foundation, before you can flesh out the rest of it.  You must put in the long hours and years of hard work in order to create the masterpiece you desperately desire.

Can you imagine an artist trying to paint a masterpiece on a thin sheet of notebook paper, rather than a dense piece of canvas?  Our children’s wonderful artwork aside, the majority of great masterpieces were not painted on flimsy material.  The material the artist chooses is of great importance.   

Base building is the creation of that material.  It is the laying of the foundation for the masterpiece you want to create. 

If you’re a powerlifter that might mean an elite total.  The elite total would be the manifestation of the accumulative work you put in.  It is your masterpiece. 

If you’re an athlete, it might be your day winning a championship or turning professional at that sport.

If you’re a complete novice, it might mean making it to that year mark without missing any planned training sessions.

They are your milestones.  They are the fruits of your labor. 

They are the masterpieces you work to create.

Base building is what we do to lay the foundation for eventual individual greatness.  Whatever “greatness” that is, is completely unique to the person putting in the time and effort to achieve it.  However it cannot be achieved by trying to short circuit the processes known as “consistency” and “effort”.  Those processes must be embraced and endured. 

If you’re willing to put in the effort, and do so consistently, then you will see your goals eventually come to fruition.  They will be realized.  Your masterpiece will get painted. 

This is what base building is.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Wrapping it up.........and I'm not talking about my dong.

Well somehow I managed to make it through 9 weeks of training pretty much injured.  My left VMO is a bit tight, and that's concerning because that's the one that I suffered a tear in a few years this meet.  Wait, I feel like I'm going jinx myself.  Nevermind that.

I feel like training went well, though honestly I feel like I could have programmed lighter (yes lighter) and kept more bar speed intact.  I personally feel like at this point, grinding reps or singles is pretty much the kiss of death for training progress.  I know some people will argue with that, but I'm just at the point where I don't care.  I've had too much personal progress and too many guys now writing in that have destroyed previous plateaus by simply backing WAY off and not beating the shit out of themselves.

My heaviest squat for this cycle was 595 and a triple at 550, but I feel like I could have kept it at 565 and been fine.  I guess we'll see come meet time.  My heaviest pull was just 605 for 2 sets of doubles from a deficit.  I was set to pull 630 the next week however I was very crispy at that point, and decided to forgo pulls.  Again, we'll see how that goes.

Bench went really well.  I hit everything I needed to hit the whole cycle fairly easy, although by the end my elbows and pec tendons were very inflamed.

It all still comes down to making weight (242 in case the 9,000th person asks me "what weight class?") and of course, how I feel on the day of the meet but overall I'd giving training a B+.

I have some ideas about how to program better next time, and that happens with both successful and unsuccessful cycles.

I'll be going over more stuff about this when I return from Chicago.  I have begun writing on the Base Building book and NO I DO NOT HAVE A TIMETABLE FOR IT.  Expect it to be quite large.

I'll try to post updates once I arrive in chi-town.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Last assistance day

Last real assistance day done.

Barbell rows, no straps - up to 315x8

Good mornings - up to 205x12

Shrugs - 315x2x20

Bodyweight was 253 when I rolled out of bed this morning, so I'm now in great shape to make weight. Only about 10-11 pounds to cut which should be fine.

I was 261 Monday. All I did was cut carbs this whole week to get down to 253 by today. Nothing more. I think I did 1 day of steady state for 20 minutes.

This has been a very trying few months in my life. We all have these, I make no bones about the fact that shit has been rough. I haven't slept well in months save for a night here and there. These are not built in excuses in case I do not do as well as hoped, just making a point of the fact that sometimes life doesn't line up all pretty when you need it to. You still press on, you still get your work in and let the chips fall where they may.

Work is done. I will do a light squat, bench, and pull Tuesday. When I say light I mean like 225x5 for each.

Looking forward to my massages today and Tuesday.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Right Reasons

Every journey in life usually begins with visions of greatness, elation, success, and a sense of "completeness".

Every new relationship or friendship is coated in these feelings and we blindly baptize ourselves in the elation of it.  

Every new job, road trip, or business adventure is immersed with reflections of "what will come to pass."  Visions of standing atop the proverbial mountain, basking in the cheers and adulation of those that hold you in an almost regal esteem.  Panties are thrown (or boxers, if you're a female reading this....but you might like panties too, just sayin), someone behind you is making it rain dolla bills, and there's a guy eagerly awaiting you to sign your name on that seven figure contract for monthly semen extraction.  

"To be collected by Adriana Lima and Megan Fox." you tell the man, as you sign the dotted line.  

"They already asked if they could be the ones to do it." he tells you.   

You are filled with pride and accomplishment.  

"There could never exist a better day." you think.  

You stand and wave to the cheering crowd, but inside you're really doing a Tiger Woods fist pump (not the one he might have been doing as he banged a Perkins waitress, however) and silently whispering "....fuck yeah, the man right here."

Oh yeah, then you wake up and life happens.  

As I wrote on the LRB Facebook page yesterday, your road to success is probably not going to be filled with people complimenting you and praising your efforts.  Most won't give a shit, and even worse, will hate you for making them feel like shit about who they are.  Laziness always hates a winner, and when you start winning, there will be lazy people that will hate you or your accomplishments.  

You need to remind yourself why it is you are on a journey, and what the end result will mean for you.  However those last two words in that sentence are key. 

"...for you"

It has to be FOR YOU.  Not to make mom or dad proud, not to shut some big mouthed asshole up.  This is negative energy and even if you succeed, you will be doing so for all the wrong reasons, and you'll never feel completely fulfilled because after all, that work was never REALLY for you.  It was for someone or something else.  

Always remind yourself of that.  Without that, and without tempering your enthusiasm a bit, disappointment is usually the destination we find ourselves at in the end.  If we cap our expectations so high that they can never come to fruition then what else can be left?  

That relationship that made us feel like "this is the one", is now "the one" that tears your insides apart everyday.  

The goals we set that made us feel like a god damn champion are now distant memories, and ghost dreams.  

The ambitions we had and visions of standing on that mountain now seem pointless and absurd.  

The mountain we find ourselves sitting atop is disappointment.  The burden we carry in one arm is failure, and regret in the other.  

We have such hopes and expectations. Not just for others, but ourselves, and our situations. They almost never ever live up to how we envision them early on, and later we wonder so often where we lost our way. Or how we ended up slumped over in a heap of emotions that are almost always a dichotomy of our original visions.

We lose our way when we stop being true to the person we want to be.  That often happens because our expectations for something greater overwhelms us, and we forget that it's all of the little things that end up creating that "big thing" we so long for.  

You can't deadlift 500 without being able to first pull 300, then 400, then forth and so on.  You can't create a long and lasting relationship without understanding the importance of laying down the bricks called trust, loyalty, and honesty first.  

It's ok to have big dreams, visions, and expectations.  Just remind yourself of why you are doing them, and then ask yourself if you're doing all the little things to see that big dream come to fruition.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

More of these........

Sorry I can't help it.  Always makes me feel good to know I have helped someone achieve something in some way, shape, or form.

Hey Paul,
Just wanted to send you a quick message thats part thanks/part question.

Just had my first meet in about a year after cutting down from 92kg -> 82kg then eating my way back up to 88.5kg (perhaps a bit fast unfortunately) while using big-15 which garned me a ton of compliments on my increased size.

Leaving it a bit late on the way back up I only had time to implement your short strong-15 before my meet and since I had lost a bit of strength on my cut, I wasn't really sure what my maxes would be, but I did have a couple of goals. Get back to near my squat PR of 200kg, and deadlift 250 (previous PR 237.5kg though I pulled an easy 232kg @ 82.5kg right at the end of my diet, so i felt like this could be an attainable goal)
So I wanted to see how light I could program while still hitting my numbers, I programmed in 180kg squat, 108 bench (huge weak spot for me, and makes up my question later on) and 250kg DL, as the numbers that the cycle spat out looked attainable and come meet day I would see how I go.
First 2 weeks were pretty good, but after week 3 I thought that perhaps I had programmed marginally high, so I dropped my Squat & DL numbers by 10kg, which meant that I basically repeated week 3 in week 4. 

Had some quad issues around this time that kept me from doing anything other than the prescribed singles but I still managed to hit the numbers and my DL workouts were going amazingly well.
Squat warms ups felt good, a couple of dry needling sessions and a ton of foam rolling had fixed my quad and I hit an easy opener at 170kg (my highest squat in training being 167kg) Went to 185kg for the next one and smoked it but it was a bit high and got red lighted. Decided that I was feeling really good so I took (what I felt at the time) to be a shot at a fairly heavy final lift @ 195kg and just totally destroyed it. Without a doubt I had an all time PR in me that day, after not squatting within 30kgs of the number in months. 

Bench I hit my opener then took too big a jump for my second and missed my next two attempts.

Before the deadlift I was pretty exhausted but as I started warming up 140kg was almost flying over my head so I thought this could be a good day.

Destroyed my opener @ 230kg, which was noticeably easier than in training 2 weeks before. Took 242.5 for my second (5kg PR) and it moved like a rocket and then I realized I had a real shot at the 250kg DL which had been only a pipe dream for me.
Didn't just get it up, be pretty much destroyed it. Couldn't wipe the smile off my face after the lift. 275kg immediately became my next goal the second I saw three white lights.