Friday, August 30, 2013

Squatting and Pittsburgh

No, that's not squatting "in" Pittsburgh, it's squatting AND Pittsburgh.

I squatted last night.  Pain free.  Felt good.  Did a lot of volume, but really light.

Went like so -

Squats -

315x5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5 or 12 sets of 5

Stiff Legs -

Well, all I can say is, I'm sore as fuck today.  I mean, my ass feels like it was beaten by sumo wrestlers with canoe paddles.

I'm currently in Pittsburgh to see my buddy Rob Kreider compete in the North Americans.

Apparently there were dinosaurs here....or something

I'm not an avid follower of bodybuilding anymore, so the main reason I am traveling there is to see a long time "friend" of mine.  Rob Kreider, who will be competing in this show, at the hardened age of 42.

I put friend in quotations because, I've actually never met Rob in person.  However, we go back 15 years online.  Back in that time, I was just starting to switch from bodybuilding style work, to more powerlifting and strength oriented approaches, and Rob shared a lot of the same theories and principles about training as I did at the time.  1 or 2 big sets all out to failure, pushing for rep PR's on a constant basis.  We were both big Dorian Yates fans and adhered to that particular philosophy about how to train, and that was the common ground that brought us together.

Over 15 years Rob and I never lost touch.  We either e-mailed, or used a messenger, or something.  But we still talked fairly often.  When Facebook popped up, it made things even easier.  And the last few years we've become even closer, as as close as you can in an online friendship, as possible.

Rob has been competing since 92, and has faced a lot of ups and downs, as we all do, in regards to competing.  However, most of us feel this is his year.  That he has a great shot to win the overall and go pro. I think it would be ridiculously awesome to be able to say I met my online friend the weekend he finally realized his dreams of over 20 years.  However, the main thing I want to write here, is that Rob has never changed.  In the 15 years we have known each other, he's still the same guy he was 15 years ago.  Nothing has dented him or his beliefs so immensely as to change who he is.  At least, not through the channels we have used to communicate through.

So regardless of where Rob places, it will be nice to cement a REAL friendship in person, after 15 years of just using media to create one.  I think that, just like you can't REALLY date a chic online, you can't really have a true friendship if you never see each other.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meatheads aren't doctors - Injuries, overuse, and rolling on shit

Should probably put this in a new book, however I've been getting slammed by all sorts of injury questions lately, so I'm just going to address it in this blog post.

First off, the only injuries or pain remedies that someone that has been lifting for a very long time should advise about, are the ones they are rehabbed SUCCESSFULLY.  Even more advisable is that they used the help of a medical professional to achieve this success, and can talk about that.

In other words it should read something like this....

"I had a similar injury, and I worked with my doc/PT/whatever and this is what we did to correct it.  I advise you to get yours seen about like I did."

Nothing annoys me more than a guy asking me about the "grinding and clicking" in his knee that won't allow him to squat.

Go see a fucking doctor.

Or the guy with slipped disks, or pinched nerves in his neck.

Go see a fucking doctor.

"Paul, I contracted leprosy.  I tried your 100 rep curls but my fingers all popped off.  What should I do?"


If it's bone or joint related...or leprosy related, you need to see a medical professional.

Most people don't even understand the difference between a strain, and a sprain for the love of God.

I can offer some insight into a strain, or some tears.  Strains are tears, essentially.  This is muscular.  It's the degree of the strain that generally causes the decision to seek medical help or not.

I have done many of these to many areas, or many varying degrees.  So I can generally write/talk about what I have done to remedy these particular ailments over my training career.  I can even give some timetable/rehab advice on a bicep tendon rupture.  However, I cannot perform surgery on it, even though I've had that surgery TWICE.

I've also never torn any other tendons in my body (well, not completely).  So if you did, don't ask me how to rehab it.  I won't know.

I currently have a partial tear of the quadricep tendon in my left knee.  I did not get online and ask around about what to do.  I went to the doctor to get properly diagnosed.  This is how you are supposed to do things.  Not go around asking powerlifters/bodybuilders/weightlifters how to fix shit DOCTORS get paid to help you fix.

Would you ask an auto mechanic to rid you of the virus on your laptop?

"Hey, both are machines.  Why wouldn't he know?"

Would you ask your ear, nose, and throat doctor to perform open heart surgery?

"Hey they are both surgeons!"

Just because I know about lifting, muscles, and have incurred massive amounts of injuries doesn't mean I know about how to train with/around/fix every injury or problem.  I can talk about what I know, because I've done it to myself, and can talk about what I did to fix it.  However, I don't try to play surgeon or doctor online.

I don't even stay at the Holiday Express that often.

Some dipshits do in fact try to play doctor online, and you should avoid them.  In fact, I'm aware of some young know it all dipshits that constantly try to tell people what they should do to fix every injury they incur, or believe they have an answer for all.  When what they really need to do, is shut the fuck up.  For example, injecting massive amounts of saline into the injuries area so that "more GH will flood the area for healing" might sound cool on paper, however you're still getting advice from a meathead at the end of the day.  Find a medical professional to help you if your injury is serious, and stop asking people online for medical help, if that's not their expertise.  I mean even the ask a nurse can only tell you so much before she says "go find a doctor."

Do you know how many dudes I know that have walked around for months and months and months in pain, because they wouldn't go in to see a doctor?  That all they wanted to do was ask other meatheads on the internet for advice, and hope that one of them had the answer?  So they try everything they hear or read from other meatheads, who also never got their injuries seen about from a medical professional, and then wonder why their injury never gets any better.  Well duh, it's because you've been asking a fucking meathead to fix something that a dude with almost a decade of schooling should be helping you with.

It's akin to that kid asking the owl how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop.  Makes no fucking sense.  He should ask him about rehabbing a blown up knee, too........

Hey Mr. Owl, how should I train if I just tore my ACL and Meniscus?

No matter how much we fancy our knowledge of muscles and joints and the ability to come back from injury, we are not doctors or medical professionals.  And like it or not, they know more they we do in regards to these things.  Now, are there some doctors stuck in the middle ages that prescribe penicillin and motrin for everything from Mongolian AIDS to ingrown townails?  Sure.  And the key there is, find another doctor.

I understand that lots of people have had bad experiences with the medical community and doctors, however if you plan on lifting for a long time, it behooves you to find a doctor that knows about lifting, sports, etc and has a good relationship with capable PT's and such.  When I fuck shit up now, I don't go asking online.  I either follow my own rehab protocol, or I go to my doctor; or my awesome orthopedic surgeon; or my awesome PT.  Who all know each other, know me, and know their shit.

Then I don't have to ask other meatheads how to rehab something, when they can't look at me and diagnose the issue.

A few years ago, I had an IT band issue that just would not clear up.  So I did what all of us meatheads do.  I looked online, talked to people, foam rolled (more on that in a minute), did the stretches, etc everything.

It never got any better.  Eventually I saw my doctor and he referred me to a (my current) physical therapist.  In a few weeks I was pain free.  This was after months and months of listening to meatheads and doing shit I was reading about online.

The problem wasn't the leg that was in pain, actually.  It was my other leg that was causing the issue.  The one that wasn't having pain.  Once it was fixed, my pain started to subside, and eventually I was squatting again.  Pain free.

Fact is, I had been making the condition worse through all of the advice I was getting online, and reading about.  The PT was able to look at how I moved, and in three minutes knew what my problem was.  Wow.  Eureka!  I slapped myself in the fucking forehead and said "I coulda had a V8!"

And no, don't fucking ask what it was because the fact is, what my particular problem was, may not be yours, and may not be what you need.

What can we offer as meatheads?

Now, I'm just as guilty as the next guy in terms of handing out advice in terms of handling injuries, if asked.  HOWEVER, not if I have not HAD THEM.  I don't like to speak on something if I have not had experience with it/experienced it, and I also add in the caveat that they should still see a doctor, or medical professional.  

I do feel as though there are definitely some solid guidelines out there that we as meatheads can follow, in order to save a few bucks, and at least try before we do head off to seek the advice of a medical professional.

Here are the steps I generally take to rehab something on my own.

1.  If it happened suddenly, like a pop in the adductor during squats, I will try to rehab it.  Sudden injuries that are ONLY muscular related, I will generally rehab on my own.  

2.  Use the movement I got injured on to rehab it with, AFTER I can do so fairly pain free.  

3.  Use an isolation movement after that, that makes the muscle perform it's primary function.  

That's it.

For example, when I tore my adductor I squatted (light) because I tore it squatting, and I used the good girl machine because that is the primary function of the adductor muscles.  To adduct the thigh towards the knee.  I remember watching one guy do all sorts of crazy movements to rehab the same injury.  It took him months and months to get back to "normal".  It took me a few weeks.  Why?  Because I use the above protocol.

The Rock used the same machine to come back from a torn adductor.  His own words.  No fancy fucking movements required

That's my entire "philosophy" about "home rehab".  If you apply these, you don't need to ask me what to do about that "torn hamstring" or whatever.  If the above protocol doesn't fix it, I go see a doctor.  That's what I do.  That's my advice regarding ALL problems of this nature.

Overuse injuries - 

These tend to be the ones meatheads have the most issues with.  Mainly because, in the beginning the pain from overuse comes and goes.  So they think it may not be a big deal.  Then it worsens, and the "asking around" process begins.

"A few months ago I had this ache in my (whatever).  I didn't pay much attention to it because it would come and go.  Now every time I (insert compound movement here) it hurts really bad.  I'm not sure what happened, or what I should do.  Anyone ever experience this?"  

Now every meathead chimes in and offers advice on how to fix it.  Which is nice of them of course.  However overuse injuries generally exist because of flawed mechanics or muscular imbalances that generally can't be addressed online.  Often times, not in person by a meathead because they aren't trained to look at mechanics a certain way, or look at certain movement patterns.  

This is why it's important to have a PT or sports medicine person in your life that knows their shit, that you can trust.

If you have a chronic injury or overuse injury that is keeping you on the sidelines, find a medical professional that can help you.  Don't dial the "ask a meathead" hotline.  

Foam Rollers, PVC pipes, and Lacrosse ballz - 

I swear to God foam rollers can cure cancer now.  It's got to be close, if they can't.  At least a partial cure.

That and mobility work.  You know....stretching.

"Hold this position."

You know, the shit your fat PE teacher taught you in gym class.

Apparently these cure fucking all.  The real reason that you have Hep-C is because your mobility work is shit.  Your inability to bring your Crossfitting girlfriend to climax via cunnilingus is really due to lack of tongue mobility.

Ok, so this one could potentially be true.

I broke my ankle a few years ago.  I was doing some interval runs on the sidewalk.  I went into a sprint and at the part where I traversed from flat-sidewalk to inclined-driveway, I didn't make the proper adjustments and my ankle turned up and inside, towards my groin.  Ankle broken.

My fight coach at the time told me "eh, you should have been stretching more."

Thankfully one of the other instructors was nearby and knew of his love for stretching and piped in, "if you got colon cancer, he'd tell you you weren't stretching your colon enough."

Yes, stretching would have prevented my bones from breaking.  Not.

"But Paul, he might be right because......."

Stop.  To quote Forrest Gump, "that's all I've got to say about that."

Foam rollers are a nice tool, and so is mobility work.  They aren't the fucking be all end all in terms of fixing things, however.  When my above mentioned IT band was killing me, I could roll on a PVC pipe with no pain.  Squatting however, would put me down.

Rolling on something pain free doesn't mean that performing a certain movement is going to be pain free.  I get that lacrosse balls and pvp pipes apparently do everything from cure AIDS to fixing poverty and stopping genocides in Africa, however you still probably want to pursue over avenues of remedy in case they don't cure your ails.

At one point, I was suffering from severe "hip" pain for about a year when I squatted.  Every internet doctor told me how to fix it.

It always consisted of rolling on something.

"Roll on a PVC pipe."

"Roll on the rumble roller."

"Roll on a lacrosse ball."

I might as well have been rolling in dog shit.  I would have gotten the same results, but with much better stories to tell.

"Well, my hip has been hurting when I squat."

"I get that, but why do you smell like dog shit?"

"Been rolling in it."


"Fix this fucking hip."  

Much more entertaining.

I could roll on the rumble roller forever, with no pain.  Squatting however, hurt like a bitch. I did the lacrosse ball (I swear to god the lacrosse ball lovers are like a fucking cult at this point with their love for it) and no dice.

This was a situation my PT couldn't figure out.  Neither could my orthopedic.  Eventually, we put our collective brains together and decided "rest" was an option.

So I just let it rest for a while.  I stopped squatting heavy.  I did shit that didn't hurt, and eventually it stopped bothering me.  It worked.  Resting, that is.

This is why I suggest having a good "team" of medical professionals that know each other, and know what you do.  So that you can all work together to find real treatment outside of finding shit to roll around on.

As far as mobility work goes, it's cool.  To a degree.  One of the things I hate about it is that people often blame the inability to get into and hold a position due to lack of "mobility".

When most often, people can't hold a position of "mobility" because they simply aren't strong enough to do so.  I go to yoga now and again.  I can do all of the very basic yoga stuff pretty well, and was far more flexible than the instructor thought I would be.  I don't really do mobility work, yet I'm still fairly flexible.

I can do press behind the neck with no pain.  I don't have a problem reaching the bar to do deadlifts.  I can put my fingers under my toes and hold that position for pretty much as long as I need to.  I can drop into the bottom of a squat and hold that position too.  

I honestly attribute a lot of this to the fact that I've always done full, or extended ROM movements.  Not fucking partial squats, or cut my ROM short in some way on a movement.  I personally think that people set themselves up for this shit because they try to cut corners on ROM or use improper technical movement.

Generally, a lack of mobility exists for a few reasons......

1.  You aren't strong enough to hold that "mobile" position.
2.  You have a permanent or former injury that won't let you hold a "mobile" position, or has taken mobility away.
3.  You aren't mobile enough to hold said mobile position.

In my experience it's been 1 and 2 more often than 3.  Especially 2.

I'm sure the mobility police will show up to tell me I'm fucking wrong, but seriously, how mobile does one need to be in order to squat, bench, and pull?  Jean Claude Van Damme shouldn't cry in shame at your mobility prowess for you to be able to do some fucking strength exercises.

If you are so tight that you can't perform any of these movements without pain, and you didn't do multiple tours in Nam or fight large wild animals for a living, then life itself is going to be fucking tough.  Getting up and down from a chair is going to be quite the feat for the day.  Wiping your ass after a real mudder is going to haunt you.  Much less trying to move heavy shit.

I've felt, for a while now, that most can get by with the following....

  • A hip flexor stretch. - This can be done with split squats.  So you get 2 in 1.
  • A fucking basic hamstring stretch - This can be done with deficit stiff leg deadlifts.  2 in 1.
  • A piriformis stretch. - This can be done at work, in bed, waiting on a bus, wherever.....
  • Band pull aparts and shoulder girdle strengthening - Can be done as part of your bench warm up.

That's training economy.

I'm not saying that us meatheads don't have anything in the way to offer in terms of advice for rehab, or prehab.  I'm also not saying that PVC rolling and lacrosse balls are totally useless.  What I am saying is, you should have your own "rehab philosophy" and your own "I definitely need to get this seen about" philosophy as well.  And not always ask meatheads such as myself how to fix things.  Especially if we've never dealt with them.  We also can't see you in person or watch you squat, pull, press, etc and determine if you have technical issues with movements and that's part of the problem.

You should also limit trying a ton of various remedies because you have no idea if you could be exacerbating the situation by doing so.  Trying 12 different meathead solutions could mean when you do show up to a solid and qualified medical professional, that you have 13 problems now instead of 1.

I am not disparaging meatheads and lifters with this prose.  I am merely pointing out that my own rehab plan is very simple, and limited.  If it needs further input, I seek someone out to give me medical assistance.  I don't ask meatheads how to fix something I don't know how to fix.

If it's a chronic overuse injury, seek help.  If you tore a tendon or ligament, seek help.  If it is knee or shoulder related, seek help.  Those are two very complex joints.

If it's a hamstring pull, or adductor tear, or strain of some sort, have your own rehab protocol in place if you so desire.  However if it lingers, see your medical people.

Or not.  You have options.  You can still go the route of asking us meatheads...."have you ever dealt with..."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Training - Pressing support work

Bodyweight - 257 (dropping finally)

Seated Db Press -

20's x 40
60's x 10,10
80's x 8

100's x 20, 12

Side Laterals - 20's x 10, 30's x 10, 40's x 10, 50's x 10, 60's x 10
Rope Pushdowns - 65 x 5 x 25

Notes - It's almost always 100x20........sheesh.  I want to get 25 very badly.

Training - Rows n shiz

Bodyweight - 258

Barbell Rows -

add straps -

no straps - 315x13

The 405 was too sloppy.  The 365x8 and 315x13 after were better.

Hammer Shrugs -
up to 7 plates per side x 20,10

Curl Machine - 2x10 with stack

Notes - solid.  80%er.  The 405 was way too sloppy for my taste.  I will stick with adding volume to 365x8 until I feel like the 405 can be cleaner.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Denver edition

So I'm home from being in Dungver....errrr, Denver.

I actually loved it there.  The weather was awesome, the mountains were awesome, the people were....let's say I left wanting in that area.

I guess the feeling I came away with is that everyone is awfully busy with their own shit, and find it hard to make time for anything else, unless it's particularly self serving.  Not everyone, but a good deal of the people I came in contact with.

I had this same feeling about people when I was in Orange County.  Maybe it's the weather, or the beach/mountains, etc.  There just seemed to be an overall sense of self absorption that I picked up on.  Now this wasn't from everyone of course, I did meet and hang with some awesome peeps.  But I generally got the feeling that whatever the opposite of Southern hospitality is, they have a great deal of it in both places (SoCal and Denver).

I did do some training in my hotel room.  Namely, about 200-300 bodyweight squats every other day because I'm sick of not squatting, and fellow podcaster Jay Nera told me that when he couldn't squat he did tons of bw squats, and it at least kept his leg size up.  It's not fun at all, but I'm just sick of only performing a squat when I need to take a shit.

So I did a lot of those.  And the first day or so I was sore as fuck.  But my legs blew back up literally after a day or so.  There really is no replacement for squatting.

To add to that, my knee feels tons better.  Not "go squat 500x10" better, but I'm going to keep at it for a while and see if it continues to improve.

Friday my good friend, and powerlifting bad ass, Heena Patel picked me up.  We hadn't seen each other in six years, and Heena is a fucking riot.  I mean, she's got no filter and has no problem doing her best to embarrass you in every way in public.  It's fairly awesome.  Not to mention that she's deadlifted 402 at 132, with an 881 total at that weight as well, and holds all kinds of records up and down the weight classes.

We went and ate at a "Twin Peaks" in Thornton.  Apparently this is an upscale version of Hooters, however much like Hooters, I was not impressed with the women working there, especially after they opened their mouth and attempted to let the English language escape from it.

I used caveat in a sentence and this girl had no idea what that meant.  I proceeded to tell her, and give her examples of how to use it.  I told her to give it a shot, and she failed worse than Mylie Cyrus failed to put on a demonstration of glute development the other night.

Apparently waitresses do not like it when you make them feel stupid (which really was NOT my intention), and she refused to even look in my general direction after that.  Thankfully, she was not my actual waitress.  Heena did tell my waitress to slap me, if I gave her any trouble.  And for some reason, she said she felt very inclined to do so.  Let me add, I don't think she used the phrase "inclined to do so."  It was probably more like.  "Yeah."

So when she returned to top off my water, she proclaimed that she did indeed want to slap me.  She couldn't give a reason why she wanted to do this.  Just that she wanted to.  So I allowed it, and she proceeded to give me a love tap.  When she returned later, she then confessed that she was quite delighted in giving me said love tap, but that she now yearned to slap the shit out of me.

Again, she did not use any of those words.  I am taking great liberties with how she spoke to me.

She didn't really ask for the second slap, she just proceeded to get into position and smack me.  Harder than the first time, however still nothing that was going to either....

1.  Make me angry, and feel like a post slap gun fight was needed
2.  Make me aroused.

After dinner, Heena and I retreated to her place (which she did a ton of work on and was completely mind blowing awesome) and we polished off a 5th of flavored vodka.  We spent the next several hours catching up on 6 years gone by and afterwards I crashed out hard.

The next day we had plans to go to Mount Evans.  Mount Evans is the highest peak in a massif known historically as the Chicago Peaks.  Roughly 14K feet up.  However first, we trained.

Feeling slightly hungover was not the way I wanted to start off a day that involved both training and going up a mountain.  Still, I trained.  It went like so.....

Incline -

Db Bench Press - 140's x 10
Pec Deck - 2x20 @ some weight
Hammer Shrugs - 405x20

Afterwards, we cleaned up a bit, ate, and headed out.

On the way up the mountain, I started to feel the effects of the "real" altitude kicking in.  Suddenly, I had a fat man sitting on my chest (not that I really know what that feels like), my lungs burned, and I became slightly dizzy.  Heena pulled over and let me get out of the car for a bit.  And she snapped this pic.......


After a few minutes the altitude effects subsided and we continued up the mountain.  14 miles and enough anxiety to kill a herd of Buffalo later, we arrived.

You know you're up there when the clouds are either in front of you, or below you.......

At the top, my whole body shook.  My hands and legs.  It wasn't a "I'm scared" thing.  It was uncontrollable.  My lungs felt as if I were on a boat with Jennifer Lopez in a shitty B movie and the Anaconda's from it were wrapped around my chest.  With no J-Lo booty anywhere in sight to distract me, however.

I got a stranger to snap this pic of Heena and myself.  Yes, she's dark.  And she makes jokes about it.  I told you, she's awesome like that.

I hung out as long as I could, but eventually I just couldn't deal with the dizziness and shaking and we took off.  The weird thing is, 3 minutes down the mountain and it all stopped.  It doesn't take long going down the mountain to find "normalcy" again.

I left Denver the next day, and got severely molested in the airport by a security woman who felt as if the x-ray machine somehow didn't catch me hiding something in my crotch or ass.  Twice.

Overall, I am thankful for the trip.  I love teaching and helping others, and it's one of the few things in my life that gives back more than I give it.  Regardless of other circumstances during the week, I learned a lot (both good and bad), and grew from it.  Life gives you opportunities and it's up to you to make the best of them, even when you feel like it's not as good as it's supposed to be.  As the lyrics go, it coulda been worse but it should have been better.  I don't know if I would apply that here because I enjoyed so many facets about this trip.  But it didn't end up being what I had envisioned it being.  I think most things we do are like that.  We always become very idealistic about our adventures and relationships and things that have yet to come to pass, and when they do, and don't measure up to those ideas we always feel disappointed.

Should we?  I don't know.  Later I always feel like most of the time we play just as big a part in making something awesome or making it a disappointment.   Mostly in part because of the decisions we make in regards to the hand we are dealt.  When we get a shitty hand, or what we perceive as a shitty hand, we don't always react in a manner that sets us up to move towards happiness.  We often create new road blocks because of either our own sulking or let disappointment manifest itself in the decisions we make in regards to our circumstances.

I try to do a decent job of owning my own shit when I feel I need to.  Maybe I don't as much as I should, or maybe I shouldn't expect more out of people.  I haven't figured out which one is right yet.  When I do, I suppose I'll write on here about it.

Happy Monday, bitches.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A little on sumo pulling, and pulling in general

I don't pull sumo, because I hate it.  And I think that conventional deadlifting carries a bit more "clout" with it.
With that said, my buddy Marshall Johnson sent me a video of him pulling 585 for a triple.

If you watch from Marshall's first to second rep, the speed of the two reps is VERY drastic.  Now, I know that often times this is the case in pulling.  Because there's more of a stretch reflex in the second rep, especially because some guys do "touch n go" reps.  However Marshall resets pretty well on these reps, so there's less of that.

So here is the vid.....

From the first rep to second rep, Marshall pulls from slow, to very very fast.

Notice how fast his lockout is in the second rep as well.  That has nothing to do with stretch reflex.  It has to do with the fact that he was in a better position to start the second rep than he was in the first.

Here is a comparative look between the two reps.

In the first rep, Marshall is sitting back deep, hips flattened out, with his chest out.  This position puts his shoulders over the top of the bar, or even slightly behind it.

In the second rep, Marshall sits back less, has more of a neural spine, isn't pushed out as far in the knees, and his shoulders are slightly in front of the bar.

The hip to elbow position is generally the best place to look when addressing the pull.  Almost everyone starts with their hips too low (for conventional pullers this often makes them "crowd the bar" and the knees are over it at the start), and shoulders too far back.

If you're pulling sumo and your hips are too deep, then the bar isn't going to start moving off the floor with power until they are a bit higher, and some leverage can be applied.

Now, this isn't always the case.  Some guys and gals that are really built to pull sumo, can get low in the hips and rotate their knees out so deep that the hips do stay "active" from the start.

For example, perfectly leveraged mutant Dan Green.....

Dan still has a neutral spine, however notice that in spite of his low hips, his shoulders are still over the bar.

Dan can also get his knees pointed so far out that his hips are trying to lockout essentially as soon as the bar comes off the floor.  This is why Dan is fast off the floor, and is an awesome puller.  This is something you can't train for.  Mom and Pop are the key here.  Unless you have leverages like Dan, you're not going to get this to work for you.

Regardless of your pulling style, your hip position is going to dictate how strong you're going to pull off the floor simply because of leverage.

If the hips need to come up enough to put the shoulders over the bar, then the bar won't start rising with speed until that happens.  Marshall needed to set his hips up higher, in order to get into that position.  Dan can get into that position with his hips low.  Both are requirements in order to get leverage over the bar, and to pull with more power.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Loss and love edition

So we just averted another potential school mass murdering.

The timing of it was strange, because I have been getting ready to take down the "Emily" link on the right side of the blog.

Mainly for the reason that, sometimes you do have to stop being reminded of loss, and you have to move on.  This doesn't mean it doesn't matter anymore.  Far from it.  It just moves you have to move on from the pain associated with that loss.

This can be incredibly difficult for some.  Well, for most of us to varying degrees.  Eternal loss is a hard thing to accept.  Whatever that thing is that we loved so much, is now forever gone.  And all of the things that were unique about that "thing", can no longer be held anymore.  We'll never directly experience those things again, and that's what generally grieves us the most.  The loss of uniqueness that it brought to our life.  It's immeasurable to us.

So I didn't think about taking down the Emily link for any other reason than, eventually you have to take a step towards letting go of that pain.  Not letting go of the "thing" or the person, or whatever.  Just the pain associated with the loss of it.  You can't fully heal until you decide you want to.  And a big part of that is making the decision to embrace happiness again.

I know a woman who lost her husband, and was never able to let go of the grief of losing him.  She never married again, and she's pretty old now.  She'll never marry again, obviously.  And most of the time she makes life miserable in some way, shape, or form for those that are around her.

She ended up being fairly miserable most of her life after that loss, because she couldn't come to grips with the fact that she needed to let go of that pain.  And rather than honoring the memory of his loss by living a happy life, she more or less tarnished it (in my opinion) by continuing to stay miserable about it.  That miserableness consumed her, and became who she was.  Embracing happiness was never an option because to embrace something new, you have to let go of whatever it is you're currently holding on to.

I think we all want the people we love to be happy.  Even if that means being happy with someone else after we are gone.  I don't want the people who love me to grieve their life away after I'm gone.  I'd want them to eventually love life again, and live it to the fullest of capacity because I can't be resurrected.  I would hope I created enough memories.....enough great memories, in that persons life so that eventually those would be the things they remembered more than the loss of me.  That those great memories would eventually overshadow the poor ones we created.  The ones we wished we could forget about.

This is why I write so much about leaving a legacy behind, minding your tongue, and treating the people you love in a way that you don't have to say "I'm sorry" very often.

It's not just about the fact that once they are gone, and you find yourself without them, that words and actions spoke and performed in anger will haunt you.  It's also about the fact that when you are gone, all of the malicious exchanges can and will haunt them, too.

We dwell so much on things we say and do that were hurtful, or spiteful, or in contrast with our love for someone because subconsciously we know our time with them is limited.  It's all very temporal.  I wrote once before about all of the "last times" that we have with someone.  That we never know when they are, but once we can't have any more "last times" it's all we can ever think about.

It's not "preachy".  It's a reminder to myself.

I'm just as guilty as failing in these tasks as anyone.  But I work on trying to get better everyday at these things.  I still fail sometimes, and other times I succeed.  The success always feels worth it because I didn't let my weaknesses win.  I remained strong in my efforts to mind my tongue, and my actions.  It's so easy to let venom fly, and so hard to show love and compassion when you feel wronged.  One thing that keeps echoing through my thoughts is that the right decision always feels like the hardest one during times where we feel "wronged".

As lifters we pride ourselves on getting stronger in our body, yet rarely put 1/100th of that effort into getting stronger in our soul.  In our integrity.  In our actions, and reactions to what we feel as slights against us.  And sadly enough, it's not until we lose something that we decide a paradigm shift is needed, and that the person we are, just isn't good enough any fucking more.

I'm thankful a crisis was avoided, and that as a country we're not grieving over even more loss of our beloved young people.  I'm glad this week hasn't been filled with more grieving families.  I hope those families wake up every day with an understanding that life can be taken away in an instant, and that somehow the "almost" loss, can be something that influences a positive change in their daily habits.

I also wish that as a person, I could find a way to consistently make myself better too.  I wish that we all could learn how to love each other in a way that we never have to say we're sorry.  That we could find that line between being selfish enough to be happy, and selfless enough to extend that happiness to those we wrap our arms around.

Because there will be a day that comes, where "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" won't even be options any longer.  And I hate to think that I might end up living in regret for the remainder of my existence because I was too weak to show more love, and less hate.

To everyone that I hold close to me, I love you and thank you for being in my life.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why we can't all get along

The controversy from earlier in the week about a certain total and high squat was all the rage of discussion in the powerlifting community.

I didn't say a word about it to this point, because I just spent my time reading all of the comments related to it.  I did share Steve Goggin's status on Facebook, but my context about that may have been different than Steve intended.

My buddy Brandon Lilly touched on it as well, writing.......

If you want to see a change in the sport then be the change you want to see yourself. If you don't like the squat depth you see then squat deeper yourself. If you want locked out benches, lock and hold all your benches. If you hate short locked deadlifts, then lock and hold all your deads. Be a change people can point to as an example for "what powerlifting should be". My example is Daniel Green. He does things the way, and at the level I hope to be at. The sport is negative enough... Be a positive light for others to follow.

This is an awesome sentiment, but it still really doesn't cut to the heart of the matter as to WHY people act out in the way they do regarding these kinds of situations.  

You see, we can't all get along generally for two reasons.    

1.  People protect their idols, and believe that their idols are above ridicule, criticism, and are infallible.    

People protect their idols because without them, so much of their faith and belief crumbles beneath their feet. If that idol is destroyed, or proven to be false or wrong, then their entire belief system gets washed away; it dissolves into nothingness.  

And then what are they left with? 

So few people really want to reevaluate the things they believe in, because doing so could reveal that they spent time believing in a false idol.  And now, a paradigm shift is needed in their life.  People are generally afraid of change.  Not just because it's scary, but because they often feel like fools for having to do so.

This is why ultimately, it's paramount that you reevaluate and challenge your standards ever so often.  The things you believe in, and the people you look to when you need advice the most.  The core of the things you have built your life around.  

If you never challenge the ideas and the people that you believe in, you may end up living a lie that you are forced to defend.  A lie that may be revealed to you later, when you could have saved yourself the trouble by simply not believing blindly in an "all or nothing" manner, without challenging it yourself.  There's nothing wrong with doing that.  It's perfectly healthy, and should be done to keep your sanity in check.  

I do believe that things like faith and trust are ultimately choices that you make, or don't make.  However it doesn't mean the foundation that those choices are built on, can't be checked from time to time.  Just to see if they are still rock solid, or may have developed some cracks over time.  

If your idols are never scrutinized by you, then ultimately you become the fool to their song.  Make sure you're always dancing to a tune that is just as true as the first day you heard it.  

2.  People have different priorities, and have an entirely different subset of beliefs about what matters.

I saw some nasty comments thrown around at people in regards to the situation above.  I mean some serious personal attacks.  One person called another person a piece of trash because he said a squat was high.  Nevermind that the person who said the squat was high, is at the fore front of a charity to help bring a little dude with cerebral palsy to Las Vegas so he can meet all the people in lifting he admires.  No, what really matters is that he's a piece of trash because he said a squat was high.  

I personally do not get this.  And that particular comment was even a "woah" moment for me.  

Let me put this out there before I continue on. 

What we do as people in this world matters, or should fucking matter, about a trillion times more than what we do on the platform, or athletic field.  End of fucking story.  If your life has been stripped away of its essence to a degree that you see people as hero's or peasants based on what they can lift, you are a god damn mental midget.  And that is not even an opinion.  Life is bigger than any weight lifted, any touchdown scored, or any home run hit.  Those things can make up parts of your life, and the book you are writing about it.  However if those are the only things that matter, then when it's gone....and it will be gone....then I won't pity you for the shell of a life you are left with.  

I know a lot of people in all areas of sports that when it comes to the game of life, that are nothing more than bench warmers because they have one play in the playbook that they are worth a shit at.  

Now back to criticism.......

We're all competing in something.  So since when did anyone from anywhere, regardless of how much weight they fucking lift, become immune to criticism?  

"Let me see you do that."

If that was the standard for who could and could not criticize, then the ESPN cast for who can talk about football, just got really fucking small. 

If the only people who get the right to be critical of others are the ones that can perform equivalent or better measures of strength or athletic ability, then who gets to judge the most of elite lifters and athletes?  I guess no one.  And they can just perform on a field all alone with no one to say shit, because no one can compete to their level of ability.    

There isn't a referee on an NFL field that can do the things the players do, yet he gets to make judgement calls about their performance.  Yes, he gets to be critical.  

So do head coaches, and position coaches.  So do announcers at all sports that do color commentary.  Joe Rogan would get his ass whipped in 0.98 seconds flat by lots of guys that he's critical of in the ring.  They don't all threaten to whip Joe's ass, because as adults we should understand that criticism is part of the territory once you rise above the norm.  

Reread that part about 9,345,345,678 times if you don't get it. 

Once you elevate yourself to a standard that catches the eye(s) of people who care about that particular sport, or anything else you do, no matter how good you are criticism is sure to follow.

Some of it will be true, and some of it will be vomit from haters, and horseshit.  It's up to you in regards as to how you respond to it, and what you do with that energy.  You can let it slide off, you can use it to fuel you to "prove people wrong", or you can address it directly.  You get those choices.  What you do not get is an exception from being criticized.  There will always be small minded people that try to take down people that have elevated themselves far above them.  

And there will be intelligent people who simply call bullshit for what it is.  A stinking pile of bullshit.  Because sometimes bullshit is very plain to see.

We're not all meant or made to be bearable.  Trust me, I have done nothing of importance in my life, other than be a dad, and I have plenty of critics.  That's fine.  I don't always care for it, but I can't be a hypocrite either.  So if criticism is leveled on me, I have to ask myself if it's worth addressing, and is there something I need to get better at, or is it nothing more than the sheep complaining about the wolves in the forest?

Really cool testimonial

Hi Paul,
I just wanna throw in another testimony for sub-max training. I used to keep attacking high percentages day in and day out, and while it worked for a while, I was just not seeing results after a point. After seeing you and a few others advocating training at a low intensity I decided to give it a shot. I followed the plan in your book of over-warming up and then filling the rest of the session with tons of volume at about 60% intensity. I gotta say, the first a few weeks it just didn't feel like it's doing anything for me. But I didn't hop program, and kept on going.

Well it's been two months, and the results are speaking for themselves. I went from a pitiful grind of a 405 deadlift single to an easy 405x3, with easily another 2 in the tank. The rest of my lifts are equally improving at a dramatic pace. Also because of the increased volume, I just feel better overall. All my joints feel much smoother, and I just feel much more in shape. This shit works.

I talked to the owner of my gym, and he told me that he's glad someone realized the value of "training" instead of testing. He said a lot of younger guys run themselves to the ground with their constant testing of limits, and ended up lifting the same weight 3 years later. It's much better to leave ego at the door, and just train your ass off with a humble intensity.

Well, I certainly am a believer now. I'm excited to keep going forward. Hopefully one day I can actually post some respectable numbers. Thank you for enlightening me.

Have a great day,


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crossfit, Littleton Seminar Day 2

After what I felt was a very rewarding day 1, I figured I would kick off day 2 with a simple Q&A and then go into teaching bench, overhead, and some various "go to" assistance movements that I believe can help people the most.

In a way I still wanted to revisit the deadlift because there were still a lot of people that I knew had a lot more "pull" in them, simply because of technique issues.  For example.......

This is what I am talking about when I speak of "crowding the bar".  Notice how her knees are OVER the bar?  Her knees have to clear the bar before she's going to get leverage over it.  This also means her hips aren't quite high enough as well.  I helped a lot of people hit PR's on day 1 simply by letting them know it was ok for their hips to be higher at the start of the movement.  They were amazed at how much stronger of a position this was.  I'm not sure why so many people think you need the hips to be to low, but for most people it's counter productive.  Now, some people do drop the hips to get the stretch reflex involved, but that was not the case here.  So simply getting the hips higher, was key for most everyone.  

So in correction.......

Knees now not over the bar, hips higher.  

This literally was the difference between her not even being able to break her weight off the floor at all (in the first pic) and it coming about 6 inches off the floor.  Think about that the next time your deadlift feels like shit and you don't quite have your starting position figured out.  

So the Q&A was mainly comprised of questions about......

  • Diet - I basically situate all of my carbs around training.  Before, during, and after, and the rest of the days are keto.  Everyone seemed amused at my selection of cocoa puffs for a post workout carb source.  
  • How to eat for mass.  "Get ass deep in carbs."
  • How to decide on what to focus on.  "Find a singular goal, and go after that.  Quit trying to find "balance."" 
  • Training with injury.  "Training around it.  Figure out movements you can do without pain, and attack those until you are back to normal." 
After the Q&A we went over bench.  And I knew this would be a good time.  The majority of people that bench press, do not know how to set up properly, and simply get tight on the bench, nor do they understand proper bar path, or the importance of wrist to elbow angle.  So I wanted to go over these basic principles.  

The fun part is always getting people to set up tight enough on the bench.  They never knew how miserable benching could be because most people simply lie down, and "scrunch up" on the bench, and then press.  However put people in a position where they must push their shoulders against my hands, and drive their upperbody UP the bench in order to get tight enough.  They always appear to disapprove of this.  So I know it's correct when that happens.  

Before we even started benching I asked the group if any of them had ever gotten a lat cramp while benching.  They all looked at me like I had licked poison dart frogs before we got started.  

This was excellent as well.  Because any time I teach people how to bench and they say that's never usually happens.  And sure enough two people experienced their first lat cramp from benching.  The reason this happens is because the person benching flattens out on the bench.  Meaning, their upperback loses the foundation, or tightness, on the bench.  The lats, which are already contracted, then involuntarily contract harder to try and maintain or "regrab" that position.  

I too benched and worked up to 405x1 and 315x5, as my elbows were really killing me on this day, so I just left it at that.  

After benching, I decided that I wanted to have a bit of a contest and pit the women against the men in the 100 rep curl challenge.  I let the women decide between a 15 and 33 pound bar, and dudes had to use a "guy bar".  The standard 45 pound bar.  

Not surprising to me, many of the women beat the men.  Some people were surprised by this however I knew that lots of the women would beat the guys because women tend to have better endurance fibers, and can often do rep work like this very well.  

I'm not sure of the final win/loss count but I do believe that more women won than guys.  Also, if you're going to let a chic use the 15 pound bar while you use the 45, don't ever stop curling.  She'll beat you.  I was lucky I am good at these, otherwise Melissa beats me.  I never stopped and she caught up with me at the end.  I beat her by the slimmest of margins. 

After the curl challenge, we went over overhead pressing, and the correction of some simple things like posture, body position, hand placement, etc.  Again, most people are surprised at the difference an inch makes.  I suppose that's life isn't it?  Both dudes and chics fretting over an inch.  

To finish up I went over split squats, which I believe is very underrated and should be used by most everyone.  They help with imbalance between legs, mobility, and building the glute medius very well.  The owner of the place, Ian, was not happy about them (in a good way) and gave testimony as to just how damn good they work.

After fielding another round of general questions, I closed with some statements about just believing in yourself, and holding firm to the notion that you should believe yourself to be worthy of greatness in your life.  To always remember that we also deserve nothing.  That the only thing we deserve is what we can take, and hold on to.  To never fall into the entitlement trap.  We don't "deserve" anything.  All must be earned, and kept.  

In closing I want to give special thanks to Heather Grace, Melissa Shea, and Ian Starr for making this seminar stress free, and immensely enjoyable.  

I thank everyone who attended for giving me an audience to speak to, and for the love everyone showed me.  It's beyond measurable.  

I urge anyone in the Littleton/Denver area to go check out Ian's place.  Whether you do MMA, Crossfit, powerlift, strongman, whatever, he has an awesome pad.  You can contact him through their website....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Singular goals mean victory

The overriding difference between people who get to that "next level" and people that don't, has become more obvious to me as of late.

The difference is that the people who aspire to become great, also become very singular minded in their goals, and aspirations.

Those that mill about in self imposed mediocrity tend to not be able to focus on singular goals, or even define what single goal isreally the most important to them. They just aren't sure what it is that they want most.

Their energy is spread out across many different avenues, and they settle for less across a larger scope of wishes, rather than settling for "nothing less than my best" on a small scale.

This becomes apparent when I talk to people and when they tell me their goals, they do not speak with passion. There's far too much indecisiveness. To much uncertainty. Too many "goals" they want met.

There's a smorgasbord of "wants" that span too broad of a spectrum, and it leaves that person wallowing in doubt. Not sure at all of what it is they need to do to make "it" happen. Because they really don't know what "it" is.

If you talk to a successful businessman and ask him, "what is the goal of your company?" he will tell you on the spot. He has a driving vision that pushes him forward towards a singular goal. This is what made him successful in the first place. Concentrating on one thing to work towards. Then energy is not displaced, or dispersed across a broad landscape. It can be honed in on, and directed towards the one thing that will continue to make his company more successful, and his work more efficient.

And there's the key word. Efficient.

You cannot be efficient when you have no idea what it is you really need to be efficient about.

Most dudes want to be "ripped and strong, and jacked, and fast, and........and.....strong, and...did I say ripped yet?"

Women are no different.

"I want to get my squat up, and get a six pack, and improve my 5K time, and get buff...."

Essentially what most people are all asking for is the same thing.

"I want completeness."

And here is the bubble're never going to have it, until you come to an understanding of what goal lives above everything else. Even if it's just for right now, what goal gets separation from all the others.

You cannot find your way without losing it first. You cannot come to an understanding of what is really the most important until you strip away everything else, and stop giving yourself options. Stop giving yourself the option between trying to improve your deadlift AND your 5K time. They both may improve, but not to the degree they would have if you had just become singular minded in becoming great at one.

Strip away all the bullshit, and see what you are left with. That one thing. No matter how hard it might be to let go of those other things that you think you want. Decide what the most important thing in your life is, and chase that with an unbridled fury. Do all of the things you must do, to achieve that victory.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Littleton Crossfit seminar Day 1

A few months ago I received a message on Facebook from a chic who had been running my peaking program and had been PR'ing off of it.  She was so excited about it that she asked me if I would be interested in coming out to her Crossfit box in Littleton, Colorado to give a seminar.

I replied that I would, and then I didn't hear from her again.  Not until weeks later, anyway.

When I did hear back, she let me know that she had pestered the Crossfit owner about me coming out and that I should be hearing from him soon.

Then I didn't hear from him for a while.  But once I did, it didn't take us long to work out the arrangements and get some dates in place for making this happen.

Those dates were this past weekend, and to say I had a great time would be like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch.

IFBB Pro Heather Grace made my travels far less stressful than they would have been, by shuttling me to and from the from the Crossfit box as I needed.  I want to start off by giving her a very big thank you for supporting me, making those travels less stressful, and also for bringing many people to attend the seminar.  She's ridiculously awesome.

The owner of the place, Ian Starr (if that's not a porn name just waiting to happen I don't know what is) was incredibly hospitable, and runs and awesome box.  Whether you like crossfit or not, I don't give a shit.  The place was big, well kept, tons and tons of bars, space, chalk, and strongman equipment.  Ian is a professional in every sense of the word, and made sure I was taken care of.  And I don't mean in a porn star kinda way. However his wife continuously reinforced the notion that he was indeed, hot for me.

Day 1 - 

Day one was lecture, and I went over programming, talked a little about the transitions between life and training, and generally just got a feel for the group and their experience level.  This group had a fairly wide range of experience from a few months to a couple of decades.  Still, the resounding voice from the group was, they all wanted to get better in their technique and to set the stage for getting stronger.  Obviously these are the things I want to hear.

We kicked off the morning with squats, because from a technical standpoint, squats tend to take up the most time in regards to teaching and helping people correct some issues.

When I was in Chicago, I taught people benching, so I didn't get a chance to look at anyone's squat really.

These are the main things that I generally saw the most from people trying to fix their squat -

  • They don't understand if they are more inclined to be high bar or low bar squatters.  Generally speaking, people with long torsos and short legs, will do better with high bar squats.  However people with short legs can do both pretty easily.  
  • People with shorter torso's and longer legs almost always feel like low bar squats are more suited for them.  
  • Moving the bar an inch on someone's back is often enough to change all the mechanics around so that things feel more natural.  This happened quite a few times.  
  • Most people don't know how to drive properly with their hips, and in the desire to get deep enough in the squat, they lose their foundation by tucking their hips up under them.  Yes, butt wink.  Butt wink is not bad unless it's severe.  And then it's bad because the hips aren't in a very good position to assist in getting out of the hole. 
  • Most people struggle more from tight hip flexors than they realize.  I see this because they can't hold a neutral foot position.  Their heels immediately turn inwards even if they are trying to maintain them neutral.  
  • Almost everyone at the seminar fought their natural forward lean.  As soon as made them stop, their squats felt better.  Most people are trying to stay too upright in the squat.  If you are those midget length legs and can do that, that's fine.  But I had many people that I "forced" to lean a little more, and suddenly their squat felt natural, and stronger.  
Deadlifts - 

After squats, we pulled.  Since the deadlift is a very easy movement to teach and perform, I thought it'd be a great idea for all of us to close the day by actually pulling some real weights instead of just working the technical shit.  

However some people still had some issues.  

  • Crowding the bar is pretty popular.  If your knees are over the bar at the start of the movement, then you're at a leverage disadvantage over the bar.  The bar won't come off the floor with as much power until your hips rise, your knees clear the bar, and your shoulders move over it.  
  • Lots of people had the opposite problem, and that is they had the bar too far away from their shins when they pulled.  
  • People have trouble understanding that the hips need to be higher than they think.  It's ok to dip, to get a bit of reflex going on with the hips, however most people try to pull with their hips too low. 
  • We still had quite a few people pull PR's.  Which was awesome to watch.  It's always a joy to watch people do things they think they cannot do, or haven't even tried before.  It's an amazing thing to see people come to life at the revelation that they are better than they thought they were.  
I decided that since everyone was going to pull, I might as well pull with them.  Since I had pulled earlier in the week and was still adjusting to the altitude, I felt pretty weak so I just did the following....


Deficit Stiff Legs - 500x3, 545x3

After pulls we went back over some things I had seen from both squats and pulls, and closed shop for the night.  

I felt like day 1 went well, and that I was able to connect with and help, a lot of people that showed up for those reasons.

Day 2 would be bench, overhead work, assistance work, and a male vs female challenge I thought everyone would be up for.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

First day at Littleton Crossfit.

Awesome first day at Crossfit in Littleton.

I will write up a more thorough overview but some highlights -

  • Ian Starr has an awesome place.  If you're in the area, get out to it.  Not only that, Ian is an awesome dude and has made me feel like royalty in his treatment of me in all this.  So has many others who have gone all out to make my stay awesome and enjoyable.
  • The group of people I am working with are very attentive and awesome.  It makes it all worth it when you have a group like this to work with.  
  • I've acclimated to the high altitude pretty well.  
  • It's still amazing to me how moving the bar an inch can change someones entire technical "movement". 
  • Deadlifting is so simple, but so many people make the same mistakes in doing so.  
Looking forward to day 2 very much.  I am really enjoying my time out here!  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chaos and Bang your Canadian Earballs

Chaos and Bang your Earballs is no longer. Now it will be Chaos and Bang your Canadian Earballs as Jay Nera has joined us permanently!!!

We are mega stoked about that because Jay is not only an awesome lifter, but smart dude and brings a lot of awesome to the podcast.

I have no idea what to call this post

Have you ever noticed that if you added up all the muscle mass from these dudes that work for supplement companies, that they'd be like 547 pounds at -3% bodyfat by now?

Everytime they undergo one of these transformations they put on 28 pounds of lean mass and lose 34 pounds of fat. They do this every time a new supplement is released of course. And total credit goes to said supplement.  That or it's the fancy new weight training protocol they used that was not privy to public eye before.  It was just released by (insert Eastern Bloc country here) and you're going to get a good look at it....for $54.  

It's always produced 9,879 champions (nevermind that there is never a real name thrown in there) that have 102,223,238,345,203 world records.  You too can be a champion, if you follow this protocol.  For $54.  Just FIFTY FOUR DOLLARS!  You don't want to be a champion?  Then pass this opportunity up.  

You ever notice they put the onus on you?  That you're a lazy fucker because you "don't want to be a champion.  So turn that page, asshole, and continue being mediocre.  The secret to your dreams are right there, and you're too god damn cheap to pay $54 for it.  You sicken me.  You're a disgrace to anyone that has ever picked up a barbell.  If Jack LaLane were here he'd kick you in the nuts from behind and make you suck his wrinkled junk until asphyxiation set in!"  

Also, I like how people were on this supplement for months and months before it was ever released from the factory. Also undergoing massive transformations.  

There's always these write ins boasting about how they used said secret protein powder/Russian spy program for the last 3 months to shed 47 pounds of bodyfat while gaining 47 pounds of muscle.  

I personally think that these types of ads and disingenuous advertising is one of the main reasons that so many young dudes get unrealistic expectations, and then become very disgruntled about their progress, or abilities.

I can remember being young and impressionable.  During times when training and progress was in a funk, I'd run out and buy up all the muscle rags on the shelves.  Those shiny pages in the muscle rags showing incredible before and after pics made me feel like if I could just get my hands on that new supplement, my worries would be over.  I'd make some fuckin progress!  Some gainzzzz........

And you know what?  I would.  

Placebo and enthusiasm are a hell of a drug.  

I don't know if the young and/or noob lifters of today realize how good they have it with the internet at their disposal.  Bogus claims get snuffed out pretty fast, although I will say it still does happen.  However generally the people making these claims end up just becoming a punchline across the information highway faster than George Zimmerman got painted as a racist by the media.  

If you really BELIEVE that something will work, it will.  At least for a little while.  This is why I've often written that your "buy in" to a program is the most important part.  It doesn't mean that you've always bought in to a shitty program (though that does happen), but lots of guys stuck in a training rut will make progress on even shit programs if they BELIEVE they will.  

However there is still enough of this bullshit going around that it fuels the minds of young lifters that they can and will achieve greatness in a very short period of time.  Training is not and never has been an instant gratification endeavor.  There are too many bricks to be laid, and too many mistakes to be made before you will understand what it requires to move up another rung on your personal training ladder.  

Generally what that requires is this new protein powder from that 547 pound ripped Russian guy........

Colorado seminar is Saturday!

Go here for details.

Basically, it's $75 for the whole weekend, $50 in you can only attend one day.

Day 1 - Lecture and technical work on squat and deadlift

Day 2 - Q&A and technical work on bench press and assistance work

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Talking yourself out of lifts

This is a topic I am going to expound on more in the Base Building Manual (which by the way, is slowly coming along) but I wanted to write about it now because everyone goes through this in regards to certain lifts throughout their training life.

When the training bug first took with me, I knew more than anything that I wanted to bench a plate.  A big wheel.  That meant something.  Getting a god damn big wheel on the bar cemented my place in this world as a lifter.  I could put a big wheel on, do it, BAM!  I'm a lifter.

Some will laugh or think I'm being facetious, however I'm really not.  Goals are goals, and they are very individualistic and fulfilling regardless of what someone else's goals are.  I've talked about this plenty.  Be proud of attaining your goals, no matter what they are.

To me as a young man, a young lifter, getting a wheel on the bench meant I had a real "place" in the weight room.  I wasn't just relegated to loading up the baby plates to lift.

I think I missed 135 on 4 or 5 occasions before I finally ever lifted it.  That seems to be the case more often than not throughout training.  It's like that shark "test bite".  He wants to feel out what it is he's about to take a big bite of, and see if that is something he really wants to take on.

Lifting is a lot like that.  When we get to a lift we've had in our minds, that we so badly want to hit, it can be a heart racing experience before we take that first bite of it.  And many times, we miss that weight quite a few times before we finally make it.

When I was at Quads, this whole mindset was never more prevalent than when Pete Rubish and I were pulling deficit deadlifts.  I had just ripped 635 from a 4" deficit like it was a warm up, and Pete said we should pull 660.

"You definitely should." Brandon Lilly told me.  "I'm not saying 635 was speed work, but it was damn fast."

Pete pulled it for a very difficult double.  I took my time, got psyched up, walked around and thought evil thoughts about myself....shuffled my feet........thought about how much I hated the Macarena, Limp Bizkit, Battlefield Earth, and of course how much I hated failing a pull.

After getting thoroughly psyched up, I stepped up on the 4" box, grabbed the bar, took the slack out of it, dropped my hips....and it flew off the floor.  Then completely stopped at my knees.

I missed it.

I was completely dumbfounded.  So was everyone else.

The next day, Ed Coan told me I should be upset about that miss because "you missed it badly.  And you know why you missed it?  Because you talked yourself out of it.  Before that, you just walked up and ripped it off the floor.  For that one, you took way too much time and thought way too much about that lift."

That conversation has played out in my head over and over and over again.  The reason why, is because I knew exactly what he was talking about.  I've talked myself out of lifts many, many times in my life.  So has anyone reading this that has trained long enough.  So will anyone that sticks it out for a long enough period.  You will inevitably find weights that end up with a mental block on, rather than a physical one, in regards as to why you can't get past it.

You know that feeling you have before you start your approach to the bar.  It's one of doubt, disbelief...the preparation that this is not going to happen.  It WILL feel heavy.  It's not going to really happen.  You may not think these things consciously, but there is an underlying tone of it in your mind.  That there is a lot of uncertainty about it.  The feeling before attempting this weight is not the same feeling you had 50, 100, 150 pounds ago.

You miss.

You expected to miss, really.  That, or you were not supremely confident that you would in fact make it.

I've read before that the deadlift is an emotional lift.  Yet at the last meet I attended, every guy that got overly psyched before his last pull, missed.  I mean every single time.  100%.  So apparently it's not.

For every time I've seen a guy go crazy before a lift and make it, I've seen at least 10 other instances of where a guy did that and missed his lift.

After the meet I talked to Marshall Johnson, who also missed his third pull, and I said to him "you took too long before you pulled that last one didn't you?"  He smiled and said he thought he did.  I relayed to him the conversation that Coan had with me and I could tell it totally resonated with him.  That he in fact did the very same thing before his last deadlift.  Took too long, thought about it way too much, then went out and missed it because of that.

Ernie Lilliebridge Sr. told me after "yup, people talk themselves out of lifts all the time."

Ernie is always great for some wisdom, let me tell you.

I've always tried to internalize more before a big lift, however I do realize now that there are plenty of times where I still "thought" too much about it.

Last night I got it right.

I've been after a 455 close grip for a long time.  I knew with 365x8 all paused that it had to be there.  This time, even on a bad night, I didn't talk myself out of it.  I went through my normal routine, set up, and pressed it.  It was even easier than expected.  I suspect that may have been due to NOT spending so much time before the lifting thinking about it.

I won't lie, however.  For a second, I almost went into that mode of self doubt.  Instead of continuing to "psyche" myself up, I just went for it.  I approached it as if it were just another warm up.

I've read before where people say that X weight for X reps doesn't guarantee you a certain max.  Certainly it does not.  But not because the strength isn't there.  Mainly, because the mental approach can be severely lacking in order to make that lift.  Simply put, the confidence isn't there yet.  And often times, even after we make a lift, we still aren't confident to continue hitting it again.  Thus my "just because you squat 650 doesn't mean you're a 650 squatter" i.e. you don't program with 650 as an every day max because well, you can't hit that every day (but some people are too fucking stupid to grasp this concept).

Pay attention to how you approach the weights you know that you must mentally prepare for.  The ones you know you still have to get "ready" for, but that you still have great confidence in moving.  Try to mimic that approach over and over even when you get to weights you feel unsure about.  Conserve your energy for the lift itself.  Unload on the lift and not on the air around you.  Acting like a crazed gorilla just makes you look fairly ridiculous if you then go and miss the lift.

A great deal of the misses we have are do to the mental and emotional approach we have to a certain weight, rather than the strength that is in our bodies at the time.  Hone this approach and fine tune it so that regardless of the weight on the bar you're still approaching it with the same demeanor that you do on all of your successes.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Training - Close Grips with landmark PR

Bodyweight - 260

Close Grip Bench -

455x1 PR

Hammer Shrugs - 500x40,25

Machine Curls - 180x3x10
Rope Pushdowns - 65x3x25

Notes - OMG FINALLY.  I have been after 455 for so long.  What's strange is, it still was not a great night.  In fact, 315x3 felt so bad I almost walked the fuck out, but I continued on.  365 was fast and then 405 was faster, so I went ahead and went for it.  I think on a night where I feel good 470 is there.  So I'm slowly inching closer to 500.  That feels pretty good.

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Testosterone technical Monday

So I have been so busy or sick as of late, that I haven't been able to write like I usually do here on the blog.

So this morning I'll try to actually get a decent entry in.  Mainly, I have some things I'd like to touch on.

So I've seen these advertisements for "HT" (higher testosterone) and their spokesperson is......(drum roll)......

Jose Canseco!



This makes me happier than kids in a car filled up with Skittles!

Here is the ad, if you haven't seen it......

Apparently, Jose figured out after baseball that he suffered from low test.  That's why his stomach fat and lack of sex drive had become so prominent.  Now that he found HT, it's changed his life.

Oh wait, fuck, Jose admitted he was taking sauce while he was playing.  Which is fine.  I personally do not adhere to the "you're a cheater" mantra that is throw around by internet retards in regards to people using PED's in PRO sports where millions of dollars are involved.

Do I have a different take on it, in regards to say powerlifting?  Yes.

Obviously the difference is money.  Spare me the "principle" of the matter, bullshit.

In powerlifting it's a rec sport where we all pay money to go compete.  It's on our dime.  I am not making enough money to support my family or pay my mortgage because of it.  So therefore if I am competing in a tested fed, I expect everyone to be clean.

However when you start talking about millions of dollars, retirement, and your entire future, all of that shit comes off the table.  If you're asking me if I think it's ok for a guy to take whatever he needs to take to ensure his future and his kids future, then yes, I do.  Rules be damned.  Anyone who has an issue with that needs to have a tall, cold glass of shut the fuck up juice, because you're never going to have to worry about these things.  You will never have to worry about losing your job to a guy, and losing millions of dollars.  So you take what you need to take in order to ensure you'll have the best possible shot at securing your financial future.  That's life.  People who want to get on a soapbox and talk about cheating have never been, and won't ever be in that situation.

Some technical shit on squats and pulls -

Yes, I'm actually going to get back into some thoughts on training too.  I know, it's like fucking bizarro world today up in here.

Hip drive -

I see a lot of internet 3 plate squatting douchebag gurus clown on Rippetoe because of the way he teaches squats.  Mainly, using hip drive.  Here's a note for you idiots.  That's how you squat.  Especially if you are low bar, and even more importantly if you pause squat.

Let's examine shall we.........


First off, Misha is a beast and already a legend.  If you notice here, he's beltless.  He does pause squats, and guess what, his hips are the first thing to rise coming out of the hole.  Once his hips are high enough, the quads come into play to finish an even extension of the hips and knees.  This is beautiful to watch.

Dan Green -

No belt, pause squats starting at the 1 minute mark.  Again, hips rise first then the knee extension and hip extension come together.  However without the hips driving first, you're essentially dead in the hole.

Mike Tuchscherer -

Hip drive.  On Mike's pause squats his hip drive is even more apparent.

Basically, there's no getting around the fact that you are going to initiate out of the hole with hip drive.  If you think not, take your belt off, go low bar, work up to a heavy triple with and without trying to initiate from the hips.  High bar squatters that stay more upright do initiate less from the hips, and more from the quads.  However if you are a low bar guy, especially without a belt, you need to drive hard from the hips out of the hole.

If there's one thing I hate about the internet at times, it's that if someone "hates" a certain strength coach or "guru" or whatever, then they completely dismiss everything they write and say.  Rather than keeping an open mind about what they offer.

Rip has this one right.

Jay Nera's pull -

So last night after the podcast, Jay asked me and Jamie to look at his deadlift videos.  He's changed his technique up a bit and wanted us to eyeball it a little.

Jay now rounds his upperback more, and tries to keep his low back neutral.  Which is fine, lots of guys pull this way and pull effectively.

But the first thing that jumped out at me was that Jay gets his butt too low on his first rep.  Of course the bar isn't going to start moving until the hips are high enough to get the shoulders over the bar so that proper leverage positioning has happened.

So as you watch here, you will see that Jay starts in a very low hipped position, then once he starts the pull, the bar doesn't start moving off the floor until his hips rise quite a bit.  Notice however, that on the second and third reps, he does not lower the hips as much, and his shoulders stay more over the bar.

So, someone would ask me "what would you change?"

The recommendation here would be for Jay to keep his hips high, then drop them momentarily to get the stretch reflex involved, rather than "sit" in the bottom.  However Jay is a phenomenal lifter, and if he feels like this works for him, it does.  If you feel like you're having trouble getting leverage over the bar however, video tape it, and watch to see if you are trying to initiate the pull before your hips are high enough.

My other nugget to guys struggling to pull, is to think about getting your hips "through" the entire ROM.  Not just at the end.  Often times guys don't think about "hips" getting through until the end.  Then they have spent the whole ROM negating a strong hip extension response.  Often times by then it's too late.  You ever see a guy that fails to get that last 2 inches of a pull at lockout?  Often times, it's because he pulled "too far" with his back and didn't think about getting hip extension moving soon enough.

Here is a video of Andy Bolton.  Notice how his hips start moving forward almost immediately after the pull. It's slow, but it's there.  The glutes do not stay in a static position, like in a RDL or stiff legged deadlift....

So that's a few key points that might help a few guys out in regards to some technical parts of squats and pulls.  Especially for low bar guys doing some beltless cycles, and conventional pullers.

Also, please do not send me form check videos.  Video YOURSELF and try to make note of these things.  Where are your hips and shoulders when you start the pull?  Is your low back neutral?  With squats are you getting enough hip drive from the bottom?  Are you getting your hips through the deadlift fast enough?  These are all things you can look at on your own.

Hope everyone has a great Monday!