Thursday, July 25, 2013

Try things out, but trust your instincts

Years ago I spent way too much time on the internets arguing with people over methodologies and training philosophies that didn't seem to make sense to me.  You see, I argued incessantly because I just wanted so badly for them to see just how stupid all these crazy ideas were.  Of course, it was me against many and eventually I gave up hope and simply left.

Years later, as RAW lifting picked up interest, all of the things I had been arguing about, suddenly were in my favor.  Box squatting didn't make sense.  Neither did speed benches.  Not deadlifting to build your pull seemed crazier than Kathy Bates with a wooden block and a sledge hammer.

However I did indeed try those things, and well, I got weaker.

You see, I had abandoned all the things that had worked, and worked well for me, in favor of becoming a "powerlifter".

I was told so many dumb things that now, it's hard to get my head around the fact that my training soul didn't go insane from the overload of stupidity.  Even worse, is that I abandoned my instincts, and things I knew to be true because the message board mob told me those things were worthless.  And that I wasn't training in a modern or scientific way.  I didn't know that scientific REALLY meant 100mg of anadrol a day.

I was told that "periodization doesn't work for anyone but beginners".

This one still cracks me up.  Even more so when I see people write about my philosophies....

"his stuff works well, if you're an intermediate".

This is almost always from an intermediate that thinks he's advanced, mind you.

Eventually I smartened up, but I look back now and realize I wasted years doing some really stupid shit.

Who cares how much you good morning?  Oh they build both your squat and dead?  Well let me do them tirelessly.

When did bodybuilding become bad?  I thought getting bigger and jacked was awesome.  Ok don't do bodybuilding.  Apparently that will make me weak and small.

Reps are the enemy as well.  1-3 reps.  That's it.  4+ is worhtless.

Training to failure is bad?  But I had all those years when I worked up to one big set all out, and made great progress doing that.  Ok I won't do that anymore.  That sucks.  Progress is the fucking the devil.

Later I realized what a sham it all was.  Sometimes you have to get away from information in order to get smarter.  I think back to a phrase I heard once, from someone somewhere (yes, that ambiguous!), that "the best way to teach someone nothing, is to try and teach them everything."

Sometimes you get smarter by unlearning things.  By dumping the useless and simply retaining what is useful.  As Bruce Lee Roy said......

"Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”

Philosophical AND had the glow

The first thing I think of, every time I hear this quote, is giving cunnilingus.

Look, you don't get good at knowing how to give a woman cunnilingus because of a pamphlet, or a routine from "Barbra" that you read about in Woman's World.  You do what you know, and see how she responds to those things.  You find the things she likes, and you figure out how to "massage" your cunnilingus "routine" so that it works, and works well.

Might help her lose 15 pounds, but will not help you bring her to climax

If you're truly lost, you ask her to tell you what to do.  When you have a fight over something insignificant and break up, you try out that shit she taught you on the next gal.  Rinse and repeat this process, and narrow down your skills until you keep what is awesome, and throw out what doesn't seem to work more times than not. and develop your own style as you go.

Even if you read in a magazine that you're skills are all wrong, or someone on a cunnilingus message board tells you that your methods are scientific enough, you keep doing what brings her the "O" face.

The learning process generally has an upwards curve, then a downwards curve.  But not because a loss of information, but because too much useless information gained.  I hear from so many intermediates each week that are confused as fuck about what to do, just to get bigger and stronger.  Even worse, are the stories you hear from advanced guys, who abandoned everything they knew that got them bigger and stronger, because they thought there was a better way.

It's fine to try things out, and have an open mind.  In fact, I tell most guys that ask me if "something will work" "try it."  Or they will ask if "do you think it will be ok if I do X,Y, and B?  Instead of X,Y, and Z?"  I often respond, "If that's what you think will get you to your goals faster."

Remember this, everything is JUST A GUIDELINE.  Percentages, routines, methods, all that shit.  It's just guidelines.  There is no holy grail.  There is no perfect routine, or perfect percentage.  You're never going to find one thing you're going to for the entirety of your training life.  As your strength and muscular develop evolves, your ideas need to evolve as well.  This doesn't mean you need new ones, but you may need to massage what you do for a while in a different way.  You don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Just rinse it off a bit.

I want people to ask questions, but I also want them to THINK.  Have an open mind but have a good bullshit filter.  Try things out, but trust your instincts.  If what you are currently doing isn't making you have an "O" face in the gym over weeks or months, then I suggest you find a new way to lick it.


  1. Literally Lol'd at that analogy. Touche Sir.

  2. I once hired a powerlifting coach awhile back. Great guy, coached me great on the main lifts except for one thing...he had me doing box squats every once in awhile. So I eventually told him I didn't understand the whole SIT BACK, SIT BACK cue. It felt wrong doing them, could never get it down no matter how hard I tried. Lol, so he eventually scratched that off my routine and now it is just plain old 5x5 squats or whatever need be of sets. Thankfully though, he never added speed days, bands, or anything like that. He was pretty old school.

    SIT BACK, SIT WAAAAY BACK. Fuck, I hated that shit.

  3. Obviously the spirit of this email is "try it out and see" but do you have any general experience for how long training at 80-90% training can bring results?

    I'm certainly not advanced, far from it, and it seems like training in that percentage range is currently yielding decent results.

    Also it looked like after your meet you were hitting some pretty aggressive numbers, up in the 95-100% range. You mentioned that you peaked 3-4 weeks after your meet, so how do you know when do hit that gas pedal versus just getting in the strength building work?

    1. Post meet I don't remember going into the 90+% range at all. I think I did incline at 365x8. I did do a single at 425 but you have to remember, that's TESTING, not building. It's the reps that build the 425, not singles that do that.

      I think I did the easy 455 front squat. Probably could have done a set of 3-5 with it without much thought. So that might be upper 80's.

      Either way, all of THAT strength came from training in LOWER percentages for almost 3 months.

      See what I mean?

    2. I see what you mean for sure, I was mainly curious about how you decided to "go for it" on the 315 BTN Press and the 425 single on the incline. Those seemed like near maxes to me, and I was just wandering how you decided that it was time to try those out.

      Most of my work is done under 90%, and much of it is done in the 65-85% range at this time, and my strength is rising quite nicely so your advice is really working for me. Recently hit a PR of 235 on the incline which is higher than my flat bench was a year ago (havent done the flat in a long time as I favor in incline and dont compete), so obviously stuff is working.

  4. Paul, that's what I am talking about. The past 6-7 years, since I was 16 or so. My training has evolved and evolved some more. I lost 100+pounds. You think I'm training the same way as I was back then? Nawwww.

    The Bruce Lee quote is perfect. Often times, I feel like I tried every damn thing in the book. But for the past 2 years---is where I legitimately said "fuck everyone else...I'm doing what works for me, what I enjoy, and what I progressed well on." Back then, I used to squat 3x a week and bench 3x a week. People said that was fkin' madness, serious overtraining. I said--really? Any particular reason why i am still getting stronger? I no longer squat 3x a week, but I am just proving a point. The best example I can use is overhead pressing. I hate to press, anytime I see a weight lying on the floor and I know it needs to go overhead---my first instinct is to snatch it up. I can snatch way more than I can press. Why would I fight my body just to press it because everybody else says so? When I'm already outsnatching what they can press. I also prefer to do overhead holds for time rather than pressing for reps. It's a personal preference, and I am damn good at it. Why fight it just to please someone else. Trust your instincts. Just like you prefer to do incline presses over the other presses.

    Do a quick google search on the Iron Greats---you'll see that they ALL trained differently. Not one person trained the same. You have the teenagers training EXACTLY like the Arnold routines, expecting to be Arnold. You gotta be shitting me. There is NO magic program or pill, just a burning desire to be better. Progressively kick ass, you'll be well on your way.

  5. Perhaps a stupid question, but you always mention maxing tests strength, reps build strength. Does that extend to max-rep sets? Wouldn't that mean that higher volume without going to failure would be better than one high rep balls-out set to failure?

    1. Not always. Really, it's all about what you need in a particular time. Sometimes you need volume, and lower percentages, and sometimes you need to try to bust out rep PR's. Trying for 1 rep maxes is in no way comparable to doing 1 set for as many reps as possible.

  6. So wait...I'm confused this blog is for cunnilingus technique too?