Monday, September 30, 2013

Meet Training Week 4 - Press

Bodyweight - 254

Incline -
435xM <   --  fuck you!!!
365x5....and fuck you too!!!!

Tittay machine - 210x9 drop set 130x4

Pushdowns and upright rows blah blah blah

Notes - total -10% shit sucking session.  God damn it was awful.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Deadlifting - straps or no straps, touch n go, or deadstop...

Recently I've seen more and more guys doing strapped up deadlifts, with touch and go reps. Someone asked me what was the benefit of doing deadlifts this way, as opposed to dead stop reps, or without straps.

What are some of the reasons you would, and would not pull with straps and touch and go deadlifts?

Overload is one reason. And really, the only one. One of the things that getting strapped up and eliminating a grip issue does, is allow you to pull more reps. This in turn allows you to overload the musculature involved in the deadlift to a greater degree, of course. When you add in touch and go reps, you can generally pull more reps that way than dead stop style. This can be useful for strengthening and building the actual muscles involved in pulling, because of time under tension.

So as a tool, strapped up-touch and go deadlifts are a solid tool for actually building the "posterior chain". However, they are a terrible way to train to get ready for a powerlifting meet.

To start, using straps double overhand and pulling mixed grip (if that's how you pull) without straps, are mechanically different movements altogether. Not even remotely the same. Straps allow you to go double overhand, and then let you get very "long" in the pull. Much longer than you are going to be when you get to the platform, and go mixed grip.

When you pull double overhand-strapped, this is not the position you are going to be in when you pull mixed grip. At all. The body will get into an entirely different position when you have to go back to mixed grip. Thus specificity is lost, and the carryover will be minimal, if at all.

So the last thing you should be doing is training double over hand with straps, when you pull with a mixed grip in competition.

For guys that do pull double overhand in a hook grip fashion, there may be more merit to it, because you can indeed mimic the same position you will have with straps. However otherwise, you need to ditch the straps and the touch and go reps, 4 or 5 weeks before your meet, so that you can actually train the deadlift and strengthen it in the style of which you will be asked to demonstrate it. I mean, this only makes sense.

You need to practice like you play.

Finally, there is nothing "wrong" or "right" about pulling with straps, or touch and go reps as a whole. It's only wrong or right, depending on what you are trying to use it to accomplish.

You don't play tennis to get better at playing basketball. So you shouldn't use strapped up-touch and go deadlifts if you are trying to prepare for a powerlifting meet. If you are preparing for strongman, and straps with touch n go reps are allowed, then go to town.

What it really comes back to is using a method correctly for what you will be applying it to.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Awesome write up from Stan Efferding

This thing is just gold.  I mean gold.  And he also covers all the guys who write in with a question...and another question....and another.....and another.......

You know who you are.

Anyway it's here, but I want to paste it as well.........

Over 90% of the questions I’m asked at the gym or via email are about the best weight lifting routine to get huge and strong. How many sets, reps, drop sets, super sets, rest time, frequency, duration etc…?

My answer is always the same. It doesn’t matter You don’t grow in the gym, you grow at the dinner table.

It’s never the training routine that’s limiting growth, it’s always the recovery phase, eating and sleeping. The vast majority of people who want to get bigger and stronger already train hard enough to grow, they just don’t eat and sleep enough to grow. They carry a notebook and want to show me every rep and set of every workout and routine they’ve done for the past three years, but there’s not one page with a record of their meals. I feel bad for them because I know they work hard in the gym and they rarely miss a workout, but the notebook just documents all the muscle they’ve broken down and has no record of what they’ve been doing to build it up. I know because I did it myself. When I started college nearly 30 years ago there was no Internet and few reliable resources to find information about getting big and strong. I started lifting two hours a day, six days a week, doing endless sets and reps of every exercise in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding. I struggled to put on five pounds a year until I finally came across an experienced lifter who told me I was wasting my time with all that lifting and told me to go home and eat. By cutting my training back to an hour three days a week and hiking my calories up to over 5,000 a day, I was able to put on 20 pounds in less than a year!

In the book outliers, they speak of the 10,000 hour rule as the necessary amount of time to become an expert at any given sport. It doesn’t apply to bodybuilding or powerlifting. PowerBuilding is not a skill like pitching a baseball, sinking a three pointer, hitting a golf ball or even playing the piano. Those pursuits require thousands of hours of practice to perfect the motor skills necessary to become an expert. PowerBuilding is very different. Lifting weights is not a skill (Olympic lifting not withstanding), it is simply a stimulus for size and strength, and it doesn’t actually build muscle, it just breaks down muscle. And lifting light weights that don’t force the body to adapt provide little to no stimulus at all for growth. Don’t get me wrong, walking around the neighborhood and doing a few curls with the pink rubber hand weights is great for your mom to stay healthy, but you’ll never get huge and strong doing her workout – I don’t care how many hours a day you do it!!

It really is this simple:

Lift heavy weights three times a week for an hour. Eat lots of food and sleep as much as you can.

That’s it. There’s nothing more to add. I’d love to be able to just stop there and trust that the person asking the question will do exactly those two things and get huge and strong.

But, there’s always a million nit picky questions to follow, the answers to which really make very little difference. People have become well informed and read everything they can about the sport, so they want to hear me confirm or negate every last theory, belief, bias, research study, proposal, hunch, testimonial and Dr. Oz episode they’ve ever watched. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. It’s always a good idea to educate yourself and keep track of your training and diet, but there is no holy grail. Using a bunch of words nobody understands and trying to explain to yourself or others every detail of the Krebs cycle has very little effect on your progress.

I’m as bad as anyone about trying to learn all the latest training and nutritional information, but I understand that 99% of progress comes from those 2 simple rules: Lift heavy weights and eat and sleep a lot. Therefore, I don’t let myself stray from the basics and I don’t waste half my time chasing the 1%, I spend most of my time and effort making sure I’m doing the 99% as hard and as consistent as I can. Train heavy, eat and sleep. Repeat.

What is heavy? Don’t over complicate the answer. If its too easy, add more weight. Repeat.

How much is enough food? If you’re not gaining muscle, eat more. Repeat.

Sure, if you try to lift too much weight with horrible technique, you’ll get hurt. Duh!

Sure, if you eat hot dogs and pizza all day, you’ll get fat. Duh!

Beyond that, don’t get caught up with all the details spewed out of the mouths of every card-carrying-weekend-online-personal-training certificate holder trying to tell you that you HAVE to keep your elbows tucked to your sides, arms perpendicular to the floor, don’t go past ninety degrees, slightly bend at the knees, breathe in, now breathe out, don’t lock out, two seconds on the way down, four seconds on the way up, 10 more, 9, 8, good, 7, 6 more, you can do it … Somebody shoot me in my “amp;@:/#” face so I don’t have to listen to that any more!

Likewise, don’t stock up on bags of shiitake mushrooms, seaweed and fish eyes because you heard Japanese people eat it and they live longer. They live longer because they have 1/10 the obesity rate of Americans so the fish eyes aren’t the answer, just stop being a fat ass and you won’t drop from a heart attack four years before a Japanese person!

Don’t chase the 1%, there is no magic training routine or diet that’s going to provide any measurable results over the basic principles for getting huge and strong: Train heavy, eat and sleep more.

Again, I should stop there because I don’t care if I piss off the wanna-be’s and know-it-alls we hear advising everyone who mistakenly comes within earshot of these self proclaimed experts and perennial advisers of the masses, but I know there’s some very hard working and passionate lifters out there who are struggling to get better results and need just a little more to chew on so they don’t keep wasting endless hours in the gym and untold dollars on the latest worthless pill or potion at the store.

For them, I will peel back one more layer of this simple recipe for results, but don’t be disappointed when you see behind the curtain and find out the Wizard of Oz has no magic powers. You’ll see it’s all common-sense stuff you already know and it boils down to hard work, discipline and consistency.

1 Train heavy
Hypertrophy is best achieved in the 5-10 rep range. Lift the heaviest weight you can handle for at least 5 reps and if you can lift it more than 10 times, increase the weight. Google “Dorian Yates Workouts” to learn all about “growth sets” so you understand that maximum intensity provides the stimulus for muscles to grow, not endless reps and sets. For example, If you’re doing incline dumbbell presses and you do 10 reps with the 60′s, then ten reps with the 70′s, then 10 reps with the 80′s, then finally go to failure with seven reps plus two more assisted with the 100′s, you didn’t do four sets. The only set that counts is the growth set. The set you put maximum effort into, the one where you failed and struggled through a couple more assisted reps. You did one set. The rest of those “warm up” sets were a waste of time and only served to put unnecessary repetitive strain on your tendons and ligaments. Just do a few reps of each lighter weight to warm up on your first exercise then even fewer warm ups on subsequent exercises. Save your energy and your joints for the sets that count, the growth sets.

2 Don’t sweat the small stuff
How many sets and exercises? It doesn’t matter. I can build an entire workout around one or two max effort growth sets and go home and grow. Volume doesn’t improve results, intensity does. Don’t train for more than an hour and don’t count all the warm ups. Do one or two Max effort sets of a couple multi-joint mass building exercises and go home. Don’t follow up a couple sets of 400 pound bench presses with cable crossovers and don’t do five reps of 500lb rack lockouts for triceps then try to follow that with some cable push downs, it’s a monumental waste of time!! If you can’t grow from heavy squats, the leg extension machine ain’t gonna help you one bit so skip it and do the squats! And quit doing curls in the squat rack simply because the lighting is better and the mirror is full length!

3 Less can be more
How often? Three days a week is plenty. Push, pull, legs is still a great way to grow. Chest, shoulders and triceps one day, back and biceps another and then legs. The basic movements like bench and dips work all the muscle groups in the push chain so you don’t need a bunch of isolation exercises if any. Same is true of T-bar rows and chins for the pull chain and squats for legs.

If you are powerlifting then transition from the hypertrophy phase into the powerlifting phase about 8 weeks out from a meet and begin doing heavy doubles and triples on the powerlifting movements followed by maybe one or two sets of one or two ancillary exercises afterwards. For example, work up to two or three sets of doubles or triples on flat bench then follow that up with a heavy set or two of rack lockouts or dips and go home.

When I squatted 905 lbs raw in training, I was only squatting every OTHER week. Twice a month! I deadlifted on the alternate weeks and benched once a week. You heard correctly, I trained twice a week when I hit my 2,303 pound raw total and set the all-time world record. I would bench on Mondays and squat OR deadlift on Saturdays. Wednesdays was stretching, balance and core work. That’s it!

It’s about recovery. I didn’t do any “light” days, waste of time. I have no idea what’s suppose to be accomplished by doing a few reps with 60% of your max. What about “Speed work?”. What about it? Waste of time!! If I don’t bench heavy on a Monday night then I sure as hell don’t do some really fast light reps or a bunch of push ups. I load up the incline press with 500 pounds or grab the 200-pound dumbbells and knock out as many reps as I can or behind the neck press 315 for reps. I try to take my body somewhere it hasnt been before so it will adapt and grow when I eat and sleep.

The only reason to lift weights is to stimulate a growth response. Lifting half what you’re capable of isn’t going to stimulate anything.

I really have come to believe that all these fancy machines and “cutting edge” routines are designed BY lazy people FOR lazy people who can’t or don’t want to do the hard work necessary to get results. How many years have you been going to gyms and see the same people lifting the same weights and looking the same as they did when they started?

Don’t let that be you. Take your body somewhere it hasn’t been before then give it enough food and rest so it can adapt and grow!!! I know it’s difficult to look yourself in the mirror and admit that it’s your own fault if you’re not getting results. It’s not because you don’t know something someone else knows or haven’t figured out the right set and rep scheme or bought the right blend of supplements, it’s because you need to get back to the basics and train heavy then eat and sleep with the kind of consistency and intensity that will create results.

4Eat lots of food and sleep as much as you can

The sleep part doesn’t need any explanation. Don’t run if you can walk, don’t stand if you can sit and don’t stay awake if you can sleep. Done.

What do you eat? The answer to this question has been made more confusing and complicated by everyone trying to sell you their version of the latest greatest diet or supplement program but it’s not rocket science either.

Eat numerous meals a day, each one consisting of a quality animal protein source (eggs, lean red meat, fish, chicken, milk) along with some complex carbs (rice, oatmeal, bread, pasta, vege’s). It’s that simple.

If you insist on percentages then go with 33/33/33 for fats/protein/carbs. If you’re gaining too much fat, reduce the calories. If you’re not gaining weight, increase the calories. Easy enough.

There’s your 99%. All the other stuff combined (meal timing, ratios, supplements, high carb, low carb, no carb, high fat, low fat, Atkins, Paleo, Zone, etc…) doesn’t add up to 1%. Most of the time, going to one extreme or another sets you back instead of improving your results.

I told you – it’s common sense. Problem is, executing a successful plan every day, every week, every month and every year is the stumbling block. It’s easy to understand, but are you doing it?

Every time I’ve reached a “plateau” in my results, I’ve never been able to solve the problem by implementing some new training routine or diet. I’ve always had to admit to myself that I wasn’t executing the 99% plan. You have to be honest with yourself about wasted workouts, missed meals or a few short nights of sleep. That’s always where the problem is. So if you see me at the gym or a show, just tell me you already know what the problem is and you’re gonna train harder and eat and sleep better. That way we can skip all the worthless postulation about the 1% and talk about something more meaningful like your family or your business.

All my best!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meet Prep - week 3 - Skwats and Pulls

Bodyweight - 258

Squats -
405x5,5,5,5,5,5,5  8 sets of 5

500x1  just checking speed

Deficit Pulls -

Deficit Stiff Legs - 455x10

Leg Press - 4 plates per side x 10
6 PPS x 10
8 PPS x 10

Notes - Solid.  Unspectacular, but solid.

Why beginners shouldn't bench first

I'm not going to launch into the usual diatribe nonsense that has been written before, vilifying the flat bench press as a "worthless movement" or "terrible pec builder."  I've read of that shit from carbon copy writers and "gurus" for a few lifetimes.

I personally think the bench press, done correctly, is a great movement for building upperbody strength and mass.

I'm not writing this for "controversial" reasons either.  I have my beliefs on why pure novices shouldn't start out benching right away, and some reasons why I believe beginners should avoid the movement for at least a few months.

Overdoing it - 

Almost everyone does this with benching in the beginning.  "What cha bench?" is the most common lifting question asked because well, we're a culture based around upperbody looks and strength.  Like it or not, that's a fact.  Otherwise no one would ever complain about people curling in the squat rack, or the 97 dudes that come into the gym that have jacked arms and chests, but no legs, glutes, back, or calves to speak of.

Beginners always bench way too much without off setting it by including enough pulling movements.  Eventually they get that "hands in my pocket" appearance.  You know what I'm talking about.  Their shoulders rotate forward so far that they end up with imaginary lat syndrome, and their palms end up in front of their thighs, almost as if their hands are in their pockets.

This is a great way to set the stage for injury down the road.  Some might say "well, that's from just too much pressing in general."  Possibly.  I don't know for certain however, because I've never seen a beginner male not obsessed with benching more.  I've never seen one that did an inordinate amount of back work to offset his benching, nor have I seen a beginner focus on the incline press or overhead work as the two main staples instead of the bench.

Terrible technique - 

This goes without saying.  Most noobs aren't lucky enough to have a truly qualified expert to teach them how to bench properly.  The bench is actually a fairly complex lift to perform.  There's far more to it than just lying flat on the bench, and pressing.  Learning how to get tight, set up properly with scapular retraction, leg drive, elbow tuck/flare degree, wrists over elbows, etc all play a part in benching pressing properly, and safely.

So what usually happens is, ol boy learns how to bench from his brother or his buddy who has been lifting for 6 months and "suddenly got jacked".  So the blind ends up leading the blind right into irritated rotator cuffs, torn pecs, and sore shoulders.

This ends up happening because said lifter trains long enough to get some weight on the bar, in spite of how he is lifting, and won't change his technique later due to ego.

"Lifting any other way, I feel weak."  Well duh, that's because you've been training in this one putrid way for months.  So changing it, would feel awkward.

So they don't change.  Nevermind that if you take months and months to get to a certain strength level, but then get injured, that injury could set you back for the same amount of time it took to get strong, or longer.

Spotters and forced reps - 

This could probably fall under the technique issue however I wanted to address it separately because I feel it's almost epidemic like with young/new lifters.

When one noob is spotting the other noob, he has no idea how to really "spot".  I've seen this for years.  One guy is benching, and he eeks out that 8th rep that is REALLY fucking hard.  He doesn't rack the weight of course, because he's got a spotter.  And what is the job of a noob spotter in that situation?  To help you do 8 more reps, of course.

So ol spotter boy then proceeds to stick two fingers under the bar or, my favorite, when he puts his index finger and thumb around the bar in an "O" fashion, and pulls up with that fucking mess while the dude pressing shoves his crotch in the air.  Apparently forced reps also cause the bench itself to scald your ass, because every time I see a noob bench and do forced reps his ass juts right up off the bench.

Noobs love them some forced reps, regardless if they are benching or spotting.  And they teach each other this is how you bench.  With forced rep after forced rep, of course using the dog shit technique mentioned above.

So now when you throw all of those things together, most noobs....

1.  Bench with too much volume, and too often
2.  Use shit technique
3.  And then make sure to drive home the fact they will be injured soon by doing a shit done of reps after failure.

So what would I have beginners do instead?

Incline Press, dumbbell bench press, and overhead press.

Incline is not a very difficult movement to learn, technically.  Essentially you do in fact lie down on the incline, unrack the bar, lower to the upper chest, and press.

There's not a lot of "setup" involved to be honest.  I do have scapular retraction on incline, but I don't have to worry about leg drive or a host of other things like I do on bench.  I can just focus on the pressing aspect of the movement.

I also believe that it has better carryover into the athletic field because you're pushing at an angle far close to say, drive blocking, like one would do in the NFL.

To borrow from Poliquin (because he worded this almost exactly like I would have):

The pressing angle of an incline bench press is more specific in terms of sporting movement due to the shoulder joint angle in relation to the trunk. Whether it is a punch delivered in boxing, the release of a shot put, or the push-off position in the short-track speed skating relay, you will notice that the upper arm is at a 45-degree angle upward in relation to the trunk. 

With incline, a new lifter can just concentrate on pressing, and progressing.  Not having to figure out all the nuances of bench pressing properly.  So progressive overload can be at the forefront, rather than worrying about the technical aspects of the lift.

Also with incline, there's better carryover to other pressing movements in my opinion, because it's at an in between angle of flat and overhead.

After incline, I would have said noob do some overhead work.  I know that the "gold standard" is always to do military press (standing barbell press), however I personally do not have an elitist attitude about that shit, and I think that ALL forms of overhead pressing have merit.  Doing them standing won't make your cock huge or your vagina smell rosy.  I'm sorry that I had to be the one to break that news to you, but it's true.

Building shoulders is building shoulders.  Pressing shit overhead, seated or standing, barbell or dumbbells, is still pressing shit overhead.  All the god damn cock measuring about seated vs standing, is just that.  If you're building big ass shoulders, just do all of it.  Don't get fixated on JUST doing standing press, or JUST seated press.  Do both.  Be able to press a fuck ton overhead regardless of what implement implement you are trying to put there, or if seated or standing.

Lastly, I suggest noobs do flat dumbbell press --with a caveat.  The palms should be facing, and it should be a full range of motion.  Not that shit I see where you either don't lower it down all the way, or only press it back up half way.  Actually, it's not generally noobs I see doing that, it's some assbag trying to justify pressing that way by claiming it "puts more tension on the muscle."  Hey, reality check here bud, pressing through a full ROM still keeps tension on the muscle the whole time.  Jesus Christ, I still can't believe I read that shit.  It's like still reading from someone that you can only digest 30 grams of protein in a meal.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, palms facing and play with that a bit so that when you do go to flat barbell bench pressing, you will know what it feels like to press with a proper degree of elbow tuck.  I like dumbbell bench pressing for novice guys better for this reason.  Because when they do move to barbell benching, I can simply have them reference how their elbows move with the dumbbells, and almost immediately they bench with the proper elbow alignment.

If you're in a position where you have a qualified coach to learn from properly, then by all means, bench press.  But if you're just learning from your buddy, who learned from his brother, who learned from his other brother, who learned from Uncle Johnny who learned in prison, then it's fine to wait and just get strong on the previously mentioned movements first.

So what does one do after a few months of this, and they want to bench?  The beauty of this is, there will be a small foundation of strength already in place, and that will help the transition to benching.  The incline, overhead, and dumbbell benching will have put some things in place to at least setting up a good starting point for not developing bad habits early.  Strong shoulders, pecs, and proper elbow movement are a nice starting point for someone who then wants to incorporate the bench into their program.

When my training partner first started training with me, this is what I had her do, and when I finally introduced benching to her, she was strong enough and had enough muscle control, that I basically had to teach her nothing, and she benched very well.

If you never plan on competing in powerlifting, truth be told, you don't ever need to flat bench press.  However, most guys are going to be able to answer that age old question of, "how much ya bench?" at some point.  If a novice lifter is smart, and doesn't make all the usual noob mistakes, he won't have to answer that with "well I was benching X amount, but then I hurt my shoulder........"

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meet training - Week 3 - Bench

Bodyweight - 258

Close Grip Pause Bench -

385x5,5,5 all paused.  Fast.  Felt good.

Tit Machine - up to 210 x 10 and then 170 x 15 I believe.

Notes - Pleased with this session because I was not feeling the greatest.  But the 385 moved fast for all 3 sets of 5.  Elbow was a little tender so I didn't do 335x2x8.  Cut it at the 3 sets of 5.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Training - Assistance work

Bodyweight - 256

Barbell Rows -

add straps -

Still too sloppy for my taste.

Hammer Pulldowns -
2 plates per side x 8
3 PPS x 8
4 PPS x 10

Hammer Shrugs -
7 plates per side x 20

Good mornings - 135x10,10,10

Notes - Nice assistance work day.  Had a little more energy than usual so I did some extra.

More on injury avoidance

If you train long enough, it's not about IF you get injured, but WHEN. During those junctures you will need to do your best to come to an understanding of how it is you are now currently in that place.

When I was younger, I loved doing skull crushers. They were my favorite triceps movement.

"You mean elbow killers?" is what the "old lifters" used to tell me.

I argued vehemently that I had been training for 10 years, and that my elbows had never bothered me a day in my life, and that I knew it all.

My elbows are a constant problem now, and I cannot bench or press without wraps, most of the time.

Thankfully, I was indeed smart enough to listen to older lifters most other times they offered me up gems. Like doing all of my work beltess, not trying to squat wide, resting more, etc.

When I see Ernie Lilliebridge Sr. we constantly talk about the fact that, it's not so much about the strength anymore, it's getting through training cycles unscathed. Staying healthy is the biggest factor in being consistent and making continued progress.

Some areas I feel guys ignore, that they will indeed pay for later are a few -

1. Wide stance raw squatting - This one gets some guys up in arms. And yes, some guys can squat wide for a long time with no issues, just like some guys can do skull crushers without ever having elbow pain. However I believe they are exceptions. Eventually most people will find their hips cannot take wide stance squats, and will need to move their stance in. I know, you'll milk it for all it's worth now. The problem with that mentality is, much like my elbows, is that it become something you still end up having to account for. Take the ego hit and move you stance in before you are FORCED to.

2. Pushing through when fatigued - Being in the physical/strength culture means you need to act like a man. And a "real man" pushes through and still trains and all that. Yes, that is true sometimes. I've had plenty of nights where I felt tired as shit going into the gym, and then had a +10% session. In fact, it's not uncommon. However, I'm pretty good now and assessing if I'm tired because it's late in the day, or if I'm "fatigued". Fatigued meaning, my body needs rest, recovery, sleep, food, etc. Tired is just the "present state" of being. Fatigue is a factor involved in recovery (though being tied is a symptom of fatigue yes, don't fucking split hairs here).

This one takes a bit of introspection. It has nothing to do "being a pussy" and everything to do with understanding how your body responds to stimulus and stress. I have a few options here....I go into the gym anyway, and I start training. I can tell within a few warm ups, if I was just "tired". I can also tell if I am "fatigued". If it's the former, I train. If it's the latter, I leave, and go rest. It's that simple. I just switch training to the next night.

3. Training too heavy all the time - For the ego lifter. My facebook newsfeed is constantly filled with updates weekly about dudes that I know train heavy ALL THE TIME, and they are injured OFTEN. That or it's the same guys that can't ever hit in the meet, what they hit in the gym. It's the same guys that are constantly doing heavy singles and doubles. I just don't know what happened to building strength, and understanding the importance of building a base through sub max training and having weeks of 8's and 5's for a LONG time.

Put the ego on the back burner for a while and make a point to understand the relevance of building strength and not trying to be a youtube champion.

4. Dehydration - Seems obvious. You need to be hydrated to lift well, and not get injured. However most people drink enough diuretic drinks to negate a lot of the water they take in during the day. Not only that, they add stims to their pre-workout cocktail, and this further adds to setting the stage for injury. Cut back on the caffeine and stims, and up the water intake 2 hours before lifting.

5. Imbalances - Bodybuilders don't suffer from this as much because well, they understand the need for filling out the entire musculature. Too many powerlifters are caught up in worrying about what god damn band they need to use and the tension it's supplying to a lift rather than doing REAL bodybuilding style work. Similar to my rant about too many guys thinking band pull aparts is back work, every strength athlete should spend a certain amount of time in the "offseason" devoted to developing his physique and filling in all of the muscular "gaps". 1 legged work, cuff work, rear delt work, arm work, leg curls, etc and higher rep work should be a part of the yearly plan. Not just doing some doubles and triples. Every phase should build on the next. And if you go into a peaking stage a bigger you from the previous time, you'll be a stronger you as well.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Training adjustments with life changes

I answer quite the myriad of questions each week.  Generally, they are all pretty similar, though the occasional wild hair will pop up here and there...and frighten me as to why someone is asking me what they are asking me.

A fairly common question I get are from people who fret losing their "gains" during a lifestyle change.  And I don't mean becoming swingers or getting man parts turned into lady parts.  Nothing that extreme.

Generally they tend to run the gamut of......

  • Had a baby
  • Got a new job
  • In school
  • Tons of life stress
Why this causes so much stress and anxiety in peoples lives, I do not know.  

Throughout my life, I've had to train through all sorts of circumstances.  From being in the military and having to be in formation at 0400, to extensive travel, new jobs, three kids, being unemployed (well, that one tends to make training easiest), etc so forth and so on.  Life "gets in the way" so to speak.  

The one thing I try to emphasize about training and it's relation to life is that both provide a stimulus or stress. Good and bad.  Training too hard or too often can equal too much fatigue and cause a sharp degree of fatigue debt that makes recovering much harder.  Having a girlfriend or significant other that is constantly in your shit and making life a living hell has the exactly same effect.  Minus the muscle soreness (unless she's beating you as well).  

Making adjustments is not difficult if you just put some thought into it.  Secondly, sometimes you just have to train in a way that you must stop being a whining bitch.  

For example, I can't tell you how many times I've gotten this e-mail.....

"...this new situation makes it so that I could really only train in the morning.  But I hate training in the morning."

Someone call the fucking WHHHHAmbulance.

I don't want to turn into my father, who walked uphill both ways to school here but I've trained at 4 and 5 a.m. many a times when my schedule only allowed me to train at that time.  Did it suck?  At first, yes.  Over time you adapt to it, and I had plenty of awesome sessions in those early hours.  The other nice thing about it was, when you come home in the evening and are tired as fuck, there is nothing to do but rest.  Training is done and out of the way.  

So if that is your "only option" then for the love of God suck it up, go train early in the morning, and stop trying to finagle some way around it.  Lots of people have trained early in the morning and survived to tell the tale about it.  

If you aren't used to training early, I can offer some suggestions - 

  • Get to bed early....duh
  • Make a good warm up a priority.  20 minutes on the treadmill is a good idea.
  • Pound caffeine.  Coffee should become a close friend if it's not already.  
  • Even after the treadmill, do extra warm up sets with the bar only.  I found this to be extremely helpful and I still do this to this day, even though I don't train in the morning.
  • Don't eat before hand.  I found the coffee with some cream and then drinking some simple sugars with protein powder mixed in to be best here.  I still do this.  When I ate breakfast I felt even more bogged down.  
Outside of that, I get a lot of questions from people who worry about what "split to use" when these things come into play.

This is why you have a "philosophy" rather than a "routine".

And the philosophy is to ALWAYS be singular minded in your training.  This always helps to keep things clean and simple.

If you have not been single minded in your training that will become very evident if you end up in one of these situations where you are forced to decide what you must narrow things down to.  And this good sir/maam, is an excellent thing.

Giving yourself FEWER options falls right in line with that mode of "singular minded thinking".  That is, once you are really forced to remove options, you'll assuredly end up picking the thing you're most concerned about.

For those that had a kid for the first time, congrats.  Second, shut up complaining about it.  Jesus Christ people have been having babies for, well, forever.  And it's a survivable task.  Yet I get tons of e-mails from men (not women mind you) that complain about having a new born, and the lack of sleep, blah blah blah.

Harden the fuck up a bit.

If you can't harden up enough, then make a deal with the lady so that she lets you sleep on the nights before you train.  Again, this is not a hard concept to figure out.  Other than that, try a stimulant, and just deal for a few months.  If you're a LIFER, then you're not going to sweat a few months of training.  Also, this is where Base Building is such a beautiful thing.  You aren't trying to hit rep PR's or 1 rep maxes (unless you're in high school, and then you're still trying to hit 1 rep maxes in the gym), so you will probably be very surprised in a few months of just how strong "maintenance" work will have made you.

Don't sleep on this concept......because you're not sleeping the rest of the time with that baby crying.

Life is going to happen.  Stop sweating losing your "gainz" because you will be working more or training earlier, or later, or whatever.

If you're going to be working a more physical job, eat more.  That's really priority #1.  You'll need to account for the energy expenditure.  Kirk Karwoski has always worked a physical job and he got kinda strong still doing that.  Kirk's own admission was that the physical labor jobs are what kept him lean.  And that he got fat after he found a desk job.  So think of it like cardio, if that's the case.

If you're sleeping less, grab a nap on the weekends, and train in Base Building fashion and be pleased in a few months when you've either maintained your base in shit conditions, or even gotten stronger.  I've had insomnia my entire life, and it's just something you end up dealing with (the lack of sleep).

If you're sick, use your best judgement.  Unless it's in your chest.  Then take plenty of time off for that to clear up.  I watched a former training partner literally turn white and pass cold the fuck out in the gym after he tried to come back too soon from bronchitis.

Again, don't get so wrapped up in hitting PR's all the time during these times, and I promise that you will be surprised at how much strength you either maintain, or gain.

Chaos and Bang your Canadian Earballs #2

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Meet Training week 2 - Squats and pulls

Bodyweight - 258

Squats -
405x5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5  8 sets of 5

4" deficit pulls -

Notes - This training session was a lot like an STD ridden vagina.  Nothing good about it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

12 weeks of overcoming - Write in from client Brian Hershler

I woke up everyday in pain. 

I remember wondering if I would ever just be pain free again, yet alone lift weight. 

I was feeling major league depressed.  I had watched my body weight drop from an all time high of 269lbs, to a mere 240lbs. My previous best lifts at a chubby 269lbs were a 455 squat with very questionable depth, a 370 pause bench – my best lift, and a 555 deadlift.  

I could only imagine how weak my strength had gotten. 

Everyone else I knew was getting stronger.  Posting PR's on facebook, youtube, you name it.  I had been almost completely incapacitated from real training for what seemed like ages.  Subluxation of the L5/S1 and a pinched nerve, had left my lower back in constant pain and soreness. As soon as humanly possible, I sought out a sports related chiropractor, and began looking ahead to the future.  

"Can I get healthy again? If so, how can I get motivated enough to train?"

April-June consisted of grueling stretching and chiropractor visits multiple times a week. Slowly but surely things began to look up.  I started light strength training about 8 weeks removed from my injury, with weights that were no more than 30% of my maximum.  Regardless of the weight, it felt good to get a pump again.  It 
was another month before I was using 50% of the normal weight I used to lift.

My back was FINALLY healing up, but I was left with some major questions in my old training style - 

"Why was I missing lifts IN THE GYM?"

"Why was I going that heavy so often?"  

"Does overtraining exist… because I think I had the signs of it (edit: YES IT DOES!)."

 "How do you progress on lifts in other ways besides adding weight weekly?" 

At this point I decided to pick out a full meet. It just so happened, 100% Raw Powerlifting in Zion Crossroads, Virginia was holding a meet in about 14 weeks time.

Early June I ended up contacting Paul Carter about helping me prep for my first meet.  I had been reading LRB religiously for the past 2+ years now.  I always admired Paul Carter’s ideas, training style, and no bullshit attitude.  I knew he would listen to me about just coming back from a back injury, my past concerns about programming to heavy, kick my ass about any lifting form issues I had, and help me come in fresh for the meet.  With 12 full weeks to prep, I told him I wanted to hit a 430 squat, 350 bench, and 530 pull for my first meet. 

And boy did he deliver!

Going with Paul was the best choice I have ever made in regards to my training.  Though I was skeptical of the training ideologies Paul presented me with at first (I wanted to go up in weight right away) I quickly changed my thoughts on this style of training.  

Initially, I was worried about actual bar weight instead of moving the bar faster.  But soon, interesting enough, the bar speed seemed to being getting faster weekly.  Form started to feel cleaned up.  Confidence was rising each week.  My body composition was changing tremendously.  I looked bigger at 240 than I did at 270.  Though almost no weight was added for the first 6 weeks,  I KNEW I had gotten stronger. 

Fast forward to the meet: I hit a PR squat of 430lbs (counting this as a PR due to questionable depth in past and bodyweight being 30lbs lighter).  Hit an easy bench of 325 and missed 352 (didn’t listen to how my second attempt felt).  

Pulled an easy 540, which is only 15lbs off my previous best PR deadlift.  I truly believe I left a lot of weight on the platform on the deadlift.  Ended up with a 1295 total at 234lbs bodyweight.  Oh yeah, forgot to mention this earlier, I was sick for a full week leading up to the meet!  Did not train one time for the last 10 days.

The take home message: 
-Stick with a program long enough to see if it actually works 
-You want to get stronger, bigger, whatever? Do more of the basic lifts – squat, bench, deadlift -You don’t have to add weight weekly (bar speed, volume can be just as important as weight increases) 
-Form Form Form 
-Do not miss lifts in the gym 
-Set short-term, realistic goals based on where you are currently at 
-Paul Carter is a fucking boss 

So now I have one week of rest before I get back together with Paul for a Push/Pull meet coming up mid-December! My motivation is at an all-time high thanks to a new great friend and mentor. Thanks again buddy…

From me -

I don't know that in all my years of training and coaching people I've ever been as proud of someone as I am of Brian.  When Brian came to me he was a fucking wreck.  His body was weak, and his confidence was shot.  The best part about working with Brian however, was that after getting it through his head that he didn't have to add weight on the bar to get stronger, he did everything as perfect as anyone I've ever helped.

It was such a blessing for me to watch his confidence grow every single week, especially as he started moving weights that, in his mind, he thought he might never lift again, and then did so with ease.  Brian didn't miss a single lift in training for three months.  THREE MONTHS!  Not a single lift.  8 for 9 in his first meet, and left some on the platform in the deadlift for sure.  He's only scratched the surface, and at 6'2" or so, he's going to grow into a lot bigger lifter than he is now.  However the biggest part is that he's grown as an individual.  Being able to grab back hold of something you feel like could have been forever lost has to be a great feeling, and I got to watch him find that again.

I always downplay what it is I am doing when I write, or help people out....then sometimes you get reminded that something as simple as helping someone lift some weights can be rewarding in their life beyond measure.

I am looking forward to seeing where Brian can go from here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The case for not squatting deep

The last month has been filled with controversy regarding high squats, both in the multiply and raw division of powerlifting.

At first, I understood the outrage.  I too, had some outrage about it.  I was amazed that a rule so simple as "crease of the hip below the knee" could be so blatantly disregarded.  So easily overlooked.  I was dumbfounded by the inability of three people to see this happen....or not happen, right in front of their face.  Literally mere feet away, they lacked the ability to give an accurate judgement on this very simple rule.

After all of the dust settled, and all of the high squats were counted, it dawned on me.  I had an epiphany.

"Why the fuck do we need to squat down that god damn low in the first place?"

It really makes no sense.

First off, to quote my friend Zundy, "squatting to depth is hard.  I mean, depth is so far down there.  And there's really nothing down there that I'm that interested in to be honest."

To add to that, what's so bad about being a house squatter?  If you don't know what a house squatter is, it's because the legs only go down at about the same angle as the roof on a house.

Behold!  House squats!  Don't be jelly of my mad paint brush skills.

You get the idea.

This stuff is really bullshit and fairly ridiculous 

Even when I'm sitting on a toilet, which puts me close to depth, I'm not doing something anyone wants to be a part of.  I'm doing something rotten.  Something dastardly.

Something PRIVATE!

"That's right, there IS someone in that stall hitting depth, however it's really none of your business."

Depth is still questionable....and still private 

That means anything BELOW that is really something only those beyond the realms of death should ever experience.

But that's the world we live in now, however.  People are nosy as fuck, and feel like they always need to know when you hit depth.  And I find it intrusive and offensive.  It's really none of your fucking business if I hit depth, or don't.  Even if I'm inside you.  So why do I have three people judging me on it?  Aren't we told every single day, that judging people is wrong?  Yet, in powerlifting I have THREE people judging me.....on purpose!

Even in Christian federations, they judge.  Wasn't it Christ that said........

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."

That means, Christian powerlifting judges, after I squat I want to see you do the same.  And I will level judgement based on the way you judge my squat.  So if you red light me for not hitting depth, I'm going to red light your shit as well.  More than likely regardless of how deep you get.  Because I'm a vengeful old testiment kinda lifter competing inside your new testimenty fed!  Bet you didn't see that coming.  

The only reason I could find for EVER squatting down that low, is if we lived in a world where all the women were 6'6" or taller, and for whatever reason they all required standing cunnilingus.

At that point, men of average height would be required to squat to depth, or very close to it.  Even multiply guys would be required to get down low.  Multiply cunnilingus meets are something I feel would take off, and be in great demand all across the nation.  It would also serve as a way to CLEARLY know if they hit depth. The woman standing in front of the lifter would be able to say with complete certain if cunnilingus was achieved or not.  Rendering the need for three judges obsolete.

Ol' boy still has to hit depth to hit it

Midgets of course, would be in high demand ("high demand"...I got jokes ya'll) in this world.  Never ever needing to squat to depth to provide pleasure and joy.  Not that midgets don't provide pleasure and joy, they clearly do.  I just meant for the women.  The tall women in this imaginary world.

You understand what I meant.  Shut the fuck up.

However this world currently does't exist, and I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad about that to be honest.  I guess it would all depend on the attitudes of these women.  Some tall women are really bitchy, and won't date guys that aren't 7'8".  You know what I'm talking about fellas.  That chick that is like "oh I'm 5'11", I won't date a man that isn't 6'9"."  You are 5'11", not eighteen foot twelve, why do you need a man so god damn tall?  Am I missing something?

Not to mention that since you love to wear 6" heels to be even taller and draw even more attention to yourself, we as men have options to match this behavior.  Like Gene Simmons boots and Abraham Lincoln hats, baby.  I'm taller than Shaq now, so what's up?  I am now taller than you, and gathering even more attention.  I'm sure this angers you to an even greater degree.


What's up now?

But back to midgets giving said Amazon women cunnilingus.......once again, this would happen most of the time in private.  If it was not happening in private, such as on a porno set, those people are getting paid for squatting to depth.  When you get money for a skill, that makes you a pro.  So only a PRO, someone getting paid to squat to depth, should ever really be hitting depth.  The rest of us should form a depth union and either get paid for squatting to depth, or ask that the criteria be changed all together.

If it does get changed, then I want a coin machine installed in public shitters, where I get paid to take care of my private business.  At least put a vending machine in there, so I can refill the tank and not always be in a net loss.  I feel like that is only fair for squatting to....near depth.


PBo's Power Week

Pam Bosko, connoisseur of all things heavy, will be contributing to LRB each week on her training (which is currently prep for Relentless Detroit) and some insights on life, her struggles, and anything else her big coconut decides to write about!

In case you didn't know, Dan Green was Pam's coach for quite some time so all of her training methods reflect that of Dan's methodology.  So obviously you'd be well served to see how Pam does things because she still trains based around those methods.

From PBo this week........

This past week of training was my last week before transitioning my squat and deadlift back over to my competition stances.  For the last 6 weeks I've been squatting high bar with a narrow-medium stance and pulling conventional. Relentless Detroit is roughly 7 weeks away which leaves me 6 training weeks to dial everything in forNovember 2.

For the next 3 weeks, I will continue with the split I've been running for the last 6 weeks:

back squat - transition back to comp stance of low bar/wider stance
strict press
front squat
deadlift - transition back to sumo

The last 3 training weeks will slightly different:

back squat
back squat

Numbers and work from last week, all training is done raw using only a belt and wrist wraps:

Tuesday Sept 9
Paused High Bar Squats:
bar x 10, 88 x 8, 132 x 3, 157 x 1, 176 x 1, 201 x 1, 220 x 1, 245 x 1

Work sets, not paused:
264 x 3, 235 x 3 x 2 sets

Thursday Sept 11
Strict Press - pinkies 2 inches from the rings:
bar x 10, 65 x 8, 75 x 5, 85 x 3, 95 x 3, 110 x 3, 95 x 5 x 2 sets

Bradford Press
60 x AMRAP x 2  (7 reps, 6 reps)

A1 Neutral Grip chins - front delts touching the bar: 12 reps, 8 reps
A2 DB laterals: 20 lb x 15 x 2 sets

Friday Sept 12 - did not lift as I drove to Fargo, ND after work which is 4 hours straight south from Winnipeg

Saturday Sept 13 - trained at Dakota Barbell with my good friends Marshall and Kathy Johnson and the rest of the DBB crew

Bench - Ring Finger on Rings:
bar x 10, 65 x 6, 95 x 5, 115 x 3, 135 x 1, 145 x 1, 165 x 1, 175 x 3 x 3, 145 x AMRAP x 2 (8 reps, 7 reps)

Paused 45 deg incline press:
95 x 8, 95 x 6

DB tri-set with no rests between sets:
seated lateral raise/seated bicep curl/seated OHP - 15 lbs x 12/12/12 x 2 sets

Sunday Sept 14

Conventional Deadlifts:
hook grip: 135 x 10, 185 x 5, 225 x 3, 275 x 1, 315 x 1
mixed grip: 345 x 1, 370 x 1, 390 x 1, 405 x 0 - missed at the top of the thigh

4 inch Deficit Deadlifts:
335 x 4

Snatch Grip 4 inch Deficit Deadlifts:
175 x AMRAP (10 reps)

I typically do not max out in training and if I do it is not on a competition lift.  I save that for the platform.  Since this was my last conventional pull before switching over to sumo I wanted to see what I could do.  The last time I maxed my conventional pull was 2 years ago.  I hit 380 lbs weighing 20 lbs more than I do now.

Monday, September 16, 2013

WPF Worlds meet training week 2 - Pressing

Bodyweight - 254

Incline -
405x1 PR (explained below)

315x14 PR

Side Laterals - 20's x 10, 40's x 10, 60's x 10
Pushdowns - stack + 25 x 15

Notes - I consider that a PR on incline at 405 because it has NEVER moved like that.  Ever.  If I had to guess I could have hit 445-450 tonight on incline.  It was faster tonight, by a significant margin than when I did 425.

The 315x14 was a straight rep PR.

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Monday morning edition - Movies, food, and the meaning of life

Movie watching - 

I have slacked on movies more in the last few months than at any other time in my life outside of when I was a human baby and had no say involved in it.

Ok that's not completely true, as I did watch Skyfall this weekend, and thought it fell completely flat.  I don't know if there is anything worse in a movie where I can't hate the antagonist.  In this case, I felt awful for him, and totally understood why he wanted to kill the shit out of the people he formerly worked for.

In a likewise situation, I felt the same way about the latest Star Trek flick that I watched as well.  Khan was a killing machine, born and bred to be the most mighty of warriors.  Intelligent, cunning, and single minded in his goals.  Which of course, is why he was such a bad son of a bitch.  He wasn't fucking around trying to accomplish 42 things at one time.  He had a single plan and focused on it.  So he was able to pour all of his energy reserves into that.

Of course, he doesn't prevail because well, that would make too much sense.  And a bunch of people who were not as intelligent and far less skilled in combat somehow overcame him.  Blah.  Whatever.

Should have destroyed everyone 

Suck my balls.

Nutrition shiz - 

My diet dude posted this article up on his Facebook this weekend.

It's not long at all, but in case you don't click links.........


Consuming increased protein (∼35%) more frequently (6×) throughout the day decreases BF and ABF, increases LBM and TEM, and favorably affects adipokines more than current recommendations for macronutrients consumed over three meals/day in overweight individuals during both BAL and NEG.
Eating more protein, more often, decreased bodyfat and increased lean bodymass better than eating it three times a day.  In other words, the anecdotal evidence that bodybuilders have know for years is now backed by a study.

Personally, it's never made sense to me that eating all your food in one or two sittings would have the same effect on your body, or body composition, as doing it across 5-6 meals.  People forget that there is more involved in a diet than calories in and calories out.  That while managing those two components, for the most part, will aid in "weight loss" and "weight gain", those of us who are trying to build more muscle mass, or shed bodyfat, and train in a high intensity manner, need to eat in accordance with those energy needs as well.

Basically, stop doing shit like IF (which I did yes, and it was awful).  Eat some god damn food.  5-6 times, a day.

I've been writing for some time, that we've had this whole eating and diet thing figured out for a long time, yet diet gurus get far more attention than anyone else in the fitness industry.  This shit is less difficult than training (not downplaying my diet guys abilities at all here) in my opinion, yet people make it a million times harder than it has to be.

I base my carbs around training.  The rest of the time, it's all fat and protein.  That's it.  In the last two months I've come down from a morning weight of around 265-267 to 254.  I had indeed let myself get a little too sloppy for my own good, and I feel better now, and actually have some veins again.

254.  Don't ask me how fucking tall I am.  

I've got the same goal as I've had for the last several years now.  To become a huge 242'er.  That means being even leaner than this at 252-255 pounds.  I'm slowly inching my way there.  Again, this is just another example of being patient about the journey.  It doesn't happen overnight.  It may still take me two more years to get to where I want to be.  At this stage in my training life, things do not come fast, and you must work very hard for even the smallest of improvements.  That's fine.  That's what it's all about.

This time I'd like to be 252ish when I start the water cut, that way I can still eat normally up to that point, and only cut out carbs during the water cut instead of having to start that almost two weeks out.  This will make for an easier cut (obviously) and an easier recomp.

Training for WPF Worlds - 

Ok so I've been writing that I'm training for USPF Worlds....and I'm wrong.  I'm training for WPF worlds.  It's just that it's on the USPF Website, so I've always called it USPF Worlds.  It only makes sense that if it's "World's" that it'd be you know, the World Powerlifting Federation and not the United States Powerlifting Federation.

Thanks for Ryan Celli for setting me straight on that.

My training looks pretty much the same as it did for Nationals.  A few things different here and there.

Monday - Bench/Press
Bench or Incline
Support Work (generally this time it has been side laterals, pec deck, curls, and pushdowns)

Wednesday - Squats and Deadlifts
For deads, I am starting off a 4" deficit, then I will move on to the plate deficit, and stay there.

Saturday - Back
Generally just lots of back work, with this day mainly based around the barbell row.

Base Building Manual - 

It's getting close.  Real close.  I expect it to be ready by either late October or mid November.

One of the things I am trying NOT to do with it, is offer TOO MUCH information.  I have found many times that writing too much info causes brain overload, and people don't absorb as much.  Where if you just give the most important bullet points, they seem to latch on to the ideas better.

So I've actually been paring the book DOWN a lot.  I don't want to write a manual that's X number of pages long to say "hey it's X number of pages long".  I'd rather it be 100 quality pages where the message is clear and concise, than do 300 pages that give birth to an entire continent of questions.

Dumbest and funniest thing I've already seen this morning....(thank you for posting this Clint Darden)  

That pretty much made my morning, and will probably make my day.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week 1 WPF Worlds Training - Assistance work

Bodyweight - 261

Cable Rows - 

Rear Delt Machine - 5x10
Hammer Shrugs - up to 10 plates x 10
Curl Machine - 4x12

Notes - Tired as fuck.  Felt weak.  Not a -10% day, but damn close.  Oh well, it's just support work.  I didn't do barbell rows today because my low back still did not feel phresh.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Excerpt from the Base Building Manual - More on the mental approach

I'm still pounding out the Base Building Manual.  Most of the stuff I am writing on now, is the mental side to lifting, and of course, some life related parallels.

Here is a snippet - 

Settle on a mental approach that works for you on a consistent basis. One that you can draw upon that has repetition associated with triumph, not failure. Not one that is different for “X” attempts than you used for “Y” attempts.

Honing your mental approach to the bar is a big part of becoming well rounded, and setting the stage for success. Approaching the bar with the confidence of a champion, is the place you need to consistently find yourself in.

This is why it’s so important that you NOT downplay your accomplishments, or what you are capable of, because YOUR lifting exists in a vacuum. There isn’t a single other person that picks up the barbell in that world, except you. Treat YOUR WORLD as if you are the strongest mother fucker in it. Because you are.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Great testimonial on how not to do shit, and then correct it....


Good Morning. I wanted to send over some quick praise your way.

I competed in the WNPF Lifetime Drug Free Nationals this past weekend in the 198lb Open Raw division. (Belt Only).  This was my second competition ever.  A little back story to go with my revelations. 

The first comp I did was WNPF NJ States in June. I ran the strong 15 going into it.  I made some crucial errors on my part in programming for this meet. First I set my training numbers to high. I went with my actual max with a belt as my third attempt and worked my way back.  

I then proceeded to go about training without a belt.  During my training this really started to take its toll in the squat. I was making decent progress but eventually started pushing and grinding weights.  About 2 weeks out from the meet I missed a 470 belted squat in the gym. I got all ramped up and took it again, cut it high and grinded it up. I felt beat up for the next 2 weeks. Burnt out and was already looking forward to the weeks after the meet.  Bad news.  

So come meet day I set my opening squat for 425. Walked up took it and got it. Not without a little bit more effort that I expected. So I went up to 455.  I got buried at the bottom twice.  

The rest of the meet went pretty much as planned. Hit 265 on bench, missed 275 midway up. Pulls I pulled all 3 and ended with 465.

Fast forward to this training cycle, some serious rereading of your material and some realization on my part of the mistakes made. 

I programmed the strong 15 short cycle leading in. I set all of my numbers lower.  From what I read it was set for my final attempt.   I set all of those numbers at 5lb over what my previous meet finish numbers were and went about training.  I really focused on the approach to each lift and the speed at which to move those weights. 

For example my finishing weights for the training cycle. 405 for squat, 255 for bench, 455 for the pull. Meet week. I felt awesome all week, really energetic this time, no burn out.  Meet day woke up before the alarm and was ready to get to moving some iron.  Warm ups in the squat felt really fast and solid.  

I finished last warm up as 365 and walked out to open with 415.  Took it, popped up and the bar jumped off my back.  Quick! Second attempt 430-(5 lb pr) Took it down and back up again really fast, little bit harder though. (So I deviated from plan on strong 15 and pushed my PR set to my 2nd in lieu of my 3rd…have to think that out some more)Final attempt went with 445. Unracked it dropped down came up fast started to stall but pushed it up, got it 3 whites.  20lb pr in squat and 40 lb over anything I touched in training.

Bench- my warm ups again felt great.  Took 225 a couple times in lieu of moving up in weight closer to my opener.  Took my opener of 250.  Down and up real smooth no slowing down.  NO LIFT, I got hit for my butt coming off the bench.  This fed is real tight on judging and I really appreciate it.  Sooo contrary to your recent FB post about training the way you compete I switched form.  I went from flat foot to a tuck with my feet to ensure my butt wouldn't come off. (I previously benched tucked last year and switched to flat for comps) I took 255 for second attempt down up real fast 2 white 1 red. My foot rested on the middle support bar. Final attempt-275-what I missed previous meet. Set my feet away from the bench, came down-pause-press, I swear it was faster than the previous 2.  3 whites and a PR.

Deads- warm ups felt good again.  Fast.  Opener was set for 445.  Leading into my opener I was starting to crash but just went about trying to suck it up and get my head right.  Walked out pulled 445 smooth and fast.

Called for 470(5lb PR) knowing I was running low I figured pull the PR now or I may not get it.  470 came up but it was a tough pull. Video and family show it being a lot smoother than it felt to me. I wanted to hit a 1200 total. I mentally was shot and did the math wrong and called 485 instead of 480. Missed 485 about 1.5” off the floor. I couldn’t have even pulled 480, I was DONE.

So I finished with a 1190 total- 35LB PR.

 In all I hit 445 squat but only trained with 405 max, hit 275 bench and had more left and only trained up to 255, took 470 and trained to 455 (need to rethink this one). In all the lighter weights moving faster gave me plenty of “pop” in the squat and bench where I didn't have it before. I came in confident and full of energy this time. NO second guessing my attempts.

Of Note: a couple months ago you reposted an article by Sam Byrd about CAT training and Squats in particular, I implemented these as my back off sets in lieu of the 1 all out set at the end of each “over warm up” for my squats and my bench. I really liked it as it really did emphasize the speed of the reps and making them move as fast as possible. I feel that they paid off greatly. Squats worked with 275 and Bench 185. Far off what I put up in competition.

Now I am taking half of this week off and jumping into another short cycle to train for WNPF Worlds in the beginning of November. I will make some other adjustments to my deadlift numbers in particular and train with speed to increase my numbers again. I look forward to this training cycle and coming out of the meet with some more PR’s.

Like many people have said…this shit works, nothing new to you but more praise your way.

Thanks -- Tim Stringfellow


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Training for Worlds - Week 1 - Skwats and tugs

Bodyweight - 260

Squats -
405x5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5  8 sets of 5

4" Deficit Pulls -

4" Deficit Stiffies - 315x10

Notes - Just trying to get the work sets in and be as fast as possible with them.  Not worrying about weight on the bar right now.

Horse meat, and dads/dudes without testicular fortitude

There was a "scandal" this past week in regards to the actual contents of  the "meat" in some products sold by the grocery chain, Aldi's.

Namely, said meat products turned out not to be beef, but horsemeat.

It turns out, Aldi isn't the only food supplier that has been doing this.  Back in January, Burger King finally took off the crown and admitted (after two weeks of denial) that it indeed had been using patties that contained horsemeat, in their Whoppers.

The initial outrage from consumers was generally one you'd expect from nutritionally uneducated American's.

"OMG I will never eat at Aldi's again."

"That's why I never shop there.  Disgusting."  

"That's the worst thing I've ever read."

I literally read that last one.

The WORST thing you've ever read?  Were you the person they based that awful Tom Hands movie Castaway on, and you just found the internets?  I can find something worse than that in the local grammar school newspaper, and they make reports on who colored the best dinosaur and who did the best cartwheels at recess.

Please, give your faux outrage a rest.

Horses are animals.  Animals have meat on them.  Which makes them a potential food source.

To borrow from those articles....

In regards to Aldi -

"We believe that the two particular cases of the frozen burgers from Tesco and the lasagne from Findus are linked to suppliers in Ireland and France respectively.

In regards to Burger King -

The contaminated burgers were made by the Irish-based processing company, Silvercrest, which is part the ABP Foods Group.

So apparently we have the Irish to blame for sending us a higher quality of meat in replacement of the shit "beef" we've been stuffing down our fat consumer throats.  This makes sense.  The IRA was in Ireland.  And they were considered terrorists by some.  Maybe they have reformed and are now terrorizing everyone by replacing processed "beef" with nutritionally heavy horsemeat.  However, the French appear to be doing it as well, and all they do is act like pussies and make love to each other.  So that's out.

However, in regards to the French, they eat horse meat all the time.  It's sold over there just as regularly as beef is sold here in the states.  Le French do not bat an eye at it.  In fact, it's been on the rise again according to this nifty article here, which also mentions the frozen lasagna "scandal".

The difference in the French and the States, in regards to horse meat I mean, is that the French aren't up in arms over the fact that it's horse meat.  They are more interested in the quality of process of the food manufacturing industry.  Which is what WE should be doing, rather than acting like idiots over the fact that it's horse meat.

I understand the concept of "want to know".  We want to know what we are eating, if we buy from the store or from the fast food joint.  And I agree with that.  I think it's important to know that what you claim is on the label, is indeed lining up with what I'm putting into my body.

However that isn't what the outrage was over.  It was over the fact that it was horsemeat.  Obviously the horror stemmed from people who grew up watching "The Black Stallion" way too many times as a kid, or perhaps had a pony as a child.  Seinfeld already went over the fact that no one likes anyone that grew up with a god damn Pony.  So there's that.

Beef versus Horse

To add, from a woman that has a degree in horse science (yes, I didn't know there was one either) that wrote on my Facebook page........

I have a degree in Horse Science, and I can't tell you how many arguments I got into with fellow peers over the fact that I believe Horse Slaughter is a necessity in the States. These animals are starving and abused by the thousands, simply because there isn't a use for why not process them for consumption (they're an extremely lean, sweet meat!) and turn a profit like we do in the beef industry? They sell like hotcakes in foreign meat industries. 

And, although horses are considered companion animals by a great majority, they were FIRST and foremost used as a food source; then they were used at a beast of burden in both commercial and agricultural fields, and additionally in wars. After the introduction of the automobile and other forms of technology in the early 1900s, the horse became an obsolete and overpopulated creature......and again, the pendulum swings back to implementing horses (considered a "livestock" animal) as a food source.

So there you have it.  Horse meat, is good.

I do agree that Aldi's and Burger King and every other company that is in the food industry should label their products correctly, or to the best of their knowledge, however American's need to also pull their head out of their assholes.  Most of them got their Jimmies in a rustle because well, it's horses.  And horses are pretty, and all of that fucking bullshit.  Somewhere out there are people that also think that pigs and chickens and cows are pretty, yet we're not laying off the slaughter of those animals for consumption because of it.

The "looks" of an animal shouldn't be a qualifying factor in terms of whether or not we should be using it in food consumption.

Dads, modern males, and testosterone....or lack of it - 

I meant to touch on this some time ago, however I'm busy as fuck most days and can't get around to everything.

For you dads out there feast your eyes on these two reports.......


and here.

Some snippets from those articles.........

A new study from Emory University finds that men who tend to be a loving parent also have smaller testicles. The research, released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved 70 men of varying ethnicities — most were Caucasian, five were Asian and 15 were African-American – with at least one child under two years old.

Prior studies have suggested that decreases in testosterone may suppress mating efforts, which potentially channels a man’s energy toward the care of infants and make these men more empathetic.

“Our data suggest that the biology of human males reflects a trade-off between mating and parenting effort,” says Emory anthropologist and study lead author James Rilling,
From the New York times piece..........

Experts said the study was a significant contribution to hormone research because it tested men before and after becoming fathers and involved many participants: 600 men in the Cebu Province of the Philippines who are participating in a larger, well-respected health study following babies who were born in 1983 and 1984.

Testosterone was measured when the men were 21 and single, and again nearly five years later. Although testosterone naturally decreases with age, men who became fathers showed much greater declines, more than double that of the childless men.

And men who spent more than three hours a day caring for children — playing, feeding, bathing, toileting, reading or dressing them — had the lowest testosterone.

This should make sense to most people, if they will just use some common sense.

Testosterone is the male hormone that drives you to sexual conquest.  When you submit yourself to fatherhood, your body responds by dropping test levels so that your desire to seek out sexual conquest wanes, and you become more prone to providing for the highly needy infant.

This is why I make jokes that dudes driving mini-vans and watching chic flicks have indeed lost their man card.

Because in a way, they have.

You're a little less of a man than you were before..... from a hormonal aspect, anyway.

Becoming and being a great father is the greatest blessing I believe that a man can have.  However, there are indeed risks associated with low test levels, and they are very real.

Here is a list of some of the common health problems tied to low testosterone:
Cardiovascular issues
Increased Body Fat & Obesity
Prostate cancer 

These all suck, of course.  However even worse.........

Men with low testosterone had a 33 percent greater death risk over their next 18 years of life compared with men who had higher testosterone, according to the study conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor and colleagues at the University of California at San Diego.

Death seems like a fairly big risk associated with low test.

If you have been feeling lethargic, grumpy, lack of sex drive, noticeable decrease in body composition (you are getting softer and fatter, but diet and training have still been on point), find yourself ok with driving that baby blue minivan and sitting through god awful Sandra Bullock movies.......then you might want to get in to your doctor, and get your test levels checked.

Being a dad is still about being a MAN.  I personally think we see so many of these emasculated married males these days because test levels in general, have fallen off the map in comparison to where we were 60+ years ago.

In 1992 the British Medical Journal published the most comprehensive study to date regarding sperm count and found that their study of over 15,000 men from over 20 countries worldwide prescribed how sperm count had reduced by over 50% between 1940 and 1990. The ongoing trend into 2012 and beyond has evidenced that a 30 year old male today has only 25% of the sperm count of his fellow 30 year old from 1940.

Over and over again research points to environmental factors as being the cause for low test levels.

U of M researchers were able to establish that testosterone levels in infancy are in factnot inherited genetically. This was achieved by comparing the testosterone levels of 314 five-month old pairs of twins, both identical and fraternal.

Researchers took samples of saliva from the 314 pairs of 5 month old twins and measured their levels of testosterone. They then compared the similarity in testosterone levels between identical and fraternal twins to determine the contribution of both the genetic and environmental factors. By comparing the testosterone levels of the five-month old pairs of twins, both identical and non-identical, researchers were able to establish that testosterone levels in infancy are “not inherited genetically but rather determined by environmental factors.”

My personal opinion is that this has happened because so many males now have resigned themselves to being stay at home dads, and so many males being raised by single moms (I have no scientific research to back this, it's just a hunch).

It never fails that when you see a man get divorced, that he sheds the minivan, grabs a car HE wants, generally gets back to the gym (or other such lifestyle changes), because he needs to make himself more desirable on the "market".

I completely believe that this is driven by test levels rising again, once he's away from "being dad and husband" 24/7.  These two things are actual counter productive for a male's long term health.  It is not a "I don't want to be part of my family" concept.  Anyone who has read my blog for any amount of time knows I believe that family comes first, and that being a dad is the greatest thing in the world.

However, in order to be the best dad you can be, you also have to take care of YOURSELF first.  And part of maintaining health is in fact maintaining healthy test levels.  And when men submerse themselves in nothing but cater to their woman's "honey do" list, and changing diapers all day, his test level drops, and he eventually loses part of what makes him who he is.  He becomes "dad", which is great, but he also stops being who he was before, that got him to the point of being desirable, i.e. your woman wanted to mate with you in the first place.

Make sure that even AS DAD, you make time for your buddies.  Have a "bros night out."  Make time to be away from the wife and kids.  Don't isolate yourself off from the world because the wife and kids dictate that to you.  That is NOT healthy.

I've always said that long lasting healthy relationships are the ones where people don't lose themselves in the relationship.  You don't become "Sarah's mom" or "Sarah's dad".  You have that role, but it doesn't encompass your life wholly.  I see so many parents whose lives are wrapped up in nothing but being a god damn taxi.  Every day is spent shuttling their kids to some soccer game or music lessons, etc.  Where did YOU go?

Whether you decide you need to go on test therapy is a decision you will need to make along with your doctor.  I can tell you this, if you do decide to go that route, you'll wake up and realize one day that you hate that god damn minivan.  You'll stop watching those god awful chick flicks, and you'll suddenly realize that the girl working down at Wal-Greens is way hotter than you remembered her being.  None of these things make you less of a husband or father.  If you believe that, then you are already emasculated or have bought in to the social construct that men are to be submissive and subordinate beings to their women (this is usually cleverly disgusted in phrases like "I think you have to respect her wants and wishes all the time" and other such retarded phrases.)

Part of being "dad" is being a fucking warrior.  Someone asked me a few weeks ago what keeps me so driven in terms of getting stronger, and working as hard as I do.

"My kids." I said.

"How is that?" they replied.

"I want them to always feel protected.  That dad is strong, and can take of them not just emotionally, and financially, but physically.  I want them to see that a strong man physically, is ideal."

This is not a "rah rah ALPHA MALES!" post.  There's plenty of "science" above that backs up my opinion about the decline in real males in our society now.  It's not a battle cry to high school males about what real men should be.  It's factual.  Men need to be more cognizant of their health, test levels, and what that means to their quality of life, and quantity of it as well.  Low test level having emasculated men are going to see the grave far sooner than those of us that believe being a "man" is still vital to living a long and fruitful life.