Monday, June 24, 2013

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Owning weights and the "real deal?"

One of the biggest fallacies about programming or peaking is that each time your roll through a cycle, the next cycle has to be programmed at a higher weight.

It's certainly an option, and a viable one yes.  However so is running the same programming cycle back to back.  If you ended the first cycle with a triple or set of five that was tough as nails to grind out, but the second time you run said cycle you destroy that triple or set of 5 with speed that is bordering on violent, did you not get stronger?

One of the basic principles of the base building model is to move heavier and heavier weights with greater and greater speed.  I unknowingly used to use this method when I was younger with great results.  I would set a certain weight in my head, and work towards that weight.  However I would make a deal with myself that I wouldn't move past that weight, until I "owned" it, i.e. could rep it effortlessly.

Lots of lifters get lost in the weight on the bar mentality, or "weight on the bar at all costs!" mentality.  Listen, I'm all for getting more weight on the bar, and at some point you have to load the bar.  Generally you want those times to be on the platform, or nearing the end of a peaking cycle.  However during the in-between times, a solid idea is to set "owned" weight goals where you destroy weights at certain rep ranges.

Find a weight you'd like to make your "everyday triple" or "everyday five".  This is a great way to keep you in a proper working max for your programming.  "Owning" weights in a certain rep range is still a good PR barometer for making progress.

Don't be afraid to repeat cycles, or "back track" a cycle a few weeks and work back up to whatever you hit near the end of it again but with greater speed.  There's so many ways to gauge strength and assess PR's.  Don't fall into the dogma of thinking just making a certain weightXreps is the only way to do that.  weightXreps@speedZ (is this fucking algebra?) is also a way to set new "PRs".

The Real Deals - 

There's always a question of credentials vs self performance when it comes to who is qualified to talk about strength training, train athletes, or write about these things.

There are a few ways to look at this.

One is that the ideas and opinions of ONLY the strongest guys matter.  This one should be thrown out and is complete horseshit.

Lots of guys are born with the ability to lift big and be strong that don't have a lot to offer in the way of knowledge. This is not debatable.  And I personally hate it when someone says or write "oh yeah, well Mr. Strong squats/deads/benches/whatever 10000000 pounds.  Can you do that?"

This is not a winning or coherent argument.  Because one guy can out lift me does not mean his knowledge is equal to mine.  It doesn't mean it's not either, but you can't use weight lifted to make an argument for knowledge base.  It's like saying because one guy has a faster car than I do that his penis must be smaller.

Another way is that there are "weak guys" (relatively speaking) who have lots of knowledge and science to offer, and despite their physical short comings are in fact smart dudes.  Sometimes these guys really are smart, but they will get hate from some people because they are weak, even though their information may be solid.

The other guy is the guy that claims he can make people strong as fuck, writes articles about how to "develop massive lats!" yet isn't strong himself and has no massive lats to speak of.

"Develop mind bending biceps!"......from the guy with fucking 14" pipes at 160.

160 pound guy telling me how to build big pipes.....

Lastly are the strong guys, of various levels, that also have quite a bit of knowledge to offer.  They obtained said knowledge because they know their way around the weight room pretty well.  They may also be formally educated in the strength training field as well.    

I'm sure there are other variations to this and I suppose I could go on all day about them all, but I fucking won't.

I will give my opinion about this.

Knowledge is knowledge.  It's how you present that knowledge that sets you up for criticism or not.

If you have a track record of making people stronger and better athletes, then regardless of what you look like eventually your results regarding those people will speak for itself.  You may not be some kind of outrageous physical specimen or even have a great baseline level of strength, but you have proven yourself in a field to be worthy of listening to.  I personally do not know of many or really any that fit this particular mold, but I'm sure much like unicorns and vampires, one exists somewhere.

But overall my opinion is this, there should be SOME fire where all of that smoke is coming from.  There can only be so many Dan Green's of the world, which means much like the highlander, only one.  So you do NOT have to be Dan Green.  You don't even have to play him on T.V. or stay at a Holiday Inn express.

However, I personally believe that you should have some level of strength that is "good" or appreciable by even strong(er) guys.  For heavier guys (over 2 bills but under 3) I've kind of always adhered to the 600-400-600 club in that most guys that can hit that on a constant basis are "strong" or at least have a good general baseline level of strength.

Does it have to be that?  No of course not.  The goal posts can be moved for bigger or smaller guys, within reason.  However if you're damn near three bills and only deadlift 500 then you probably have no reason telling people how to get strong, or arguing with people that are.  People who follow such "gurus" should probably just man up to the poison kool-aid stand and get to pounding shots right now.  You'll be angry at yourself in a few years for wasting so much time with people who don't have a clue.  

Of course, education and "credentials" factor into this equation however I've been around the strength training block more times than Madonna has given head at this point, and I've assure you that I don't have to be around a guy for very long to know when he's got bullshit on his breath.  Education and some letters behind your name don't mean a whole lot without application.  If you aren't strong and haven't made people strong (and we defined what that was earlier) then you probably shouldn't present yourself as a strength trainer/guru/master/jedi/wizard.  Not until one of those two things (or both) are accomplished.

This turned into a tl;dr segment.

Point is, don't judge a teacher based on a single merit.  Judge so based on the fact that he can talk the talk, walk the walk, and is well rounded in experience.  I guess I could have just written that!  DAMMIT!

Happy f'n Monday.


  1. I'm starting Wendler's 5/3/1 today and I'm going to go fuck shit up.

  2. Just look at some of the best coaches, many of the best coaches in team sports were mediocre to downright awful players yet excelled as coaches because they became students of the game when they couldnt get by on just talent

  3. Lessons can come from unexpected places. 79 year old competitor pulled me aside after missing my last bench attempt and told me something I was doing wrong in my set up. Even though I was putting up more than twice what he did, his advice was spot on. The man walked with a cane, but did full power at the competition.

  4. That's another thing---what is "strong" according to the teacher? Myself--4 years ago I was in college, at 19 years old, I weighed about 210 could deadlift 640 and bench 340. Admittedly I didn't do much squats.

    When I left that college and moved back home, I purchased an empty steel keg and was able to get a barbell and only could switch back and forth between 150lbs and 225lbs. I remember telling myself, If I can't add more weight---you can bet your ass i'll be uppin' the reps. Back then---I considered 10 reps to be fairly high. Very rarely I did 20 reps for anything. I set up a number--100 reps. utilizing said progressive principle---10x10, 5x20,4x25, 2x50 and ultimately 1 set of 100. with 150lbs I was able to work though all levels nd m curently on the 5th--can crank out 70 reps in 1 set and 225 reps in one hour on the squat. Can bench 59 solid reps with 150lbs. I already mastered getting 2 sets of 50. With 225lbs---I'm closing in on doing 10x10 with 225 for the bench, working on 5x20 now for the squat. So, while the weights are NO WHERE near as heavy a before--i am literally "owning" the weight. I've ventured in the rep and volume range I never would have dreamed of going if I had access to more weight. Not only that--there has only been one dude out of 30 who can shoulder my keg. I believe my keg weighs 232 lbs. In terms of overall weight---not heavy. but it's awkward--WSM struggle with 260lbers. I can shoulder it easily and can deadlift it 41 straight back-breaking reps. Am I the strongest man on the planet--hell no. Rep-wise, owning the weights, im getting closer and closer to literally dominating 150lbs and 225lbs, while leaning out. Stronger----can come in different flavors. That's why it's important to look at what a lifter has accomplished rather than just overall max numbers.

  5. "Knowledge is knowledge." THAT'S IT, nothing else matters! Not your total or your size.

    Doug Blevins, is one of the nation's foremost authorities on kicking a football, yet has cerebral palsy and has never kicked a ball himself.

  6. This is just like you mentioned that article a long time ago how sam byrd sticks with the same weight, sub max training. I also read chads smith article today on how he built his best dead lift with c.a.t. As well... He said he's going to experiment with it in the similar way sam byrd trains his squat... This automatically led me to your base building for deadlift using submax weight.. How would you program c.a.t. With the dead lift or sub max training with pulls?

  7. Hi Paul

    Quick question. Once you hit a goal weight that you'd like to "own", what sort of programing would you use to increase your reps with that weight? I can think of a few options but I am not sure which is ideal.

    Thanks for your writings.

    1. Back then I'd just pick a new weight. So if I wanted to "own" 225, once I did, I'd go to 245....275.....295, etc.