Thursday, October 31, 2013

Relentless - 3 days out

Morning weight - 253.6

This morning was departure morning, i.e. "get the fuck out of bed really early, drive in the god damn rain, and be tired and hungry and thirsty and grouchy all day" morning.

I ate my casein pudding this morning, mixed with 4 ounces of water and a teaspoon of instant coffee.  You have to mush it with a spoon for a while, but the consistency becomes really nice, and it's actually quite delicious.

And by "delicious" I don't mean "it's delicious for a protein powder snack" I mean delicious as in, I can't wait to eat gobs of this after I get back home and figure out my offseason diet.  Yeah, it's really that good.  I bet a little peanut butter in it is going to be like crack was to Bobby Brown and ol' Whit.

Anyway, I scarfed that down, got to the airport, checked my shit in and then had a "why?" moment when the guys loading my luggage asked me "do you have any locks on your luggage?"

"No....." I said, incredulously.  I couldn't quite figure out why he was asking me that.  I'd never been asked that before.

More on that later.

On my first flight, I sat next to one guy who wore a big bird yellow pocket tee and had two fucking magazines about stocks and the god damn stock market sitting on his fold out table.  You can imagine how interesting this asshat was.  By that I mean, he was not.  At all.  He said nary a word for almost two hours, and seemed incredibly incensed by me having to pee twice.  The second time I finally gave him a look of "don't make me cave your fucking face in right now...." and his haughty attitude cleared shortly after he did the same with his throat.

The guy on my right read a book, and seemed to be in a time warp.  I peered over quickly to see what page he was on, just out of sheer curiosity.


Ten minutes later I looked back over.



Ten minutes later.........



What was odd is that he never moved.  At all.  As if some estranged X-Man had come by and frozen him in that moment.  To be punished for all eternity by staring at page 130 of....whatever it was he was reading.

The second flight fared no better.  I was in the very back of the plane, where I hate to be....because here's the thing, WHY THE FUCKKKKK DOES IT TAKE SO LONG TO GET OFF THE PLANE?!?!?!!!

Seriously.  This is all you do.  Get a bag, walk the fuck off.  That's it.  I don't know what people are doing in the front of the plane that takes all afternoon.  Are there mai tai's and Hooter's girls serving wings at the end of every flight and the old men stuck at the front just can't bring their nearly viagra coma induced selves to find a way to get past it all?  Just can't walk off the plane?

Anyway, this happened as usual, and I sat and fumed.  Yes, I'm testy because it's close to meet time, and I'm hungry and thirsty, and horny and all of those things do not add up to a very pleasant Paul (I'm only pleasant when I have those other things about 40% of the time, anyway).

Those emotions seem as though it might enjoy the mai tai and Hooters girl wing serving display to partake in, however when you're tired, hungry, angry, AND horny you can't figure out which one you'd like the most, and one tends to get in the way of the other, fighting for priorities.  You can't really bang when you're tired and hungry, so you want food, but then you get sleepy, and then........whatever.

After I finally got off the plane I made my way down to where the hotel shuttles are supposed to be.  So I waited.  And waited.  And finally called my hotel to send one.

So I waited.  And waited.  And called back.

"He should be there any minute."

When he did arrive, no apology for being 45 minutes late from a hotel that's less than 2 miles away (yes I could have taken a cab however....this is free).  No, he did not apologize.  In fact, he seemed UPSET that he had to pick me up!  OH YES!  What an inconvenience I am to his fucking daily job of you know, picking mother fuckers up at the airport.

I finally get to my hotel, open up luggage and grab my scale.  I wanted to see what my weight was doing.



Since there were people who were upset over my "naked selfie" (I wasn't naked for one, and's the god damn internet.  Jesus Christ, you're upset over a "naked" mans torso????) here is one with jeans on....

After I weigh, I unpack and I notice I can't find my fucking zip lock bags of protein powder.  I clear my whole bag out, and there aren't in there.  Before you think "did you forget them?"  No I did not.  I stuffed them down between a lot of clothing to make sure they had some protection around them.  So now them asking me if my bag had a lock on it made sense.  They went through my shit, and took my bags of protein powder.  As if cocaine comes in vanilla and chocolate.  I mean for fucking serious.

So I got the hotel shuttle to pick me up (different person this time, thank God) and take me down to the Kroger.  There, I bought an assortment of goodies including the following........

White Rice
Pop Tarts
Powerade Zero
Protein Powder

Tomorrow between meals, I will snack on these things until eventually they are all gone.  The key is, not to bloat yourself up.  To eat constantly through the day, and minimize fat intake.  Some people will tell you to stuff yourself.  I found this to be very counterproductive.  You need to think about eating steadily all day.  Not trying to shovel as much food into your face as you can in one sitting.  Get tons of fluids in that can rehydrate the body.  Well, that's hard to do if the fluid is sitting in your gut because you just ate 42 slices of pizza.

So here I sit in this god damn hotel room, typing this...and waiting.  Just waiting on morning to come, so I can get on that scale and be done with it and then eat and drink and be happy again.

Stay tuned.......

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

3 days out - 255

When I talked to my diet guy earlier in the week, we both agreed that I needed to be 255 by Wednesday morning in order to make the 242 cut without doing some drastic shit.


Last week, around Thursday I believe, I was as heavy as 271.  Yes, 271.  Now, that's a lot of bloat and water retention.  There's no "fat loss" that happens over this short period of time.  Saturday I started my water loading at 2.5-3 gallons a day, and that will continue on until tonight when I start drastically cutting water.

My diet since Saturday has looked like so.......

Breakfast - 2 scoops of whey and casein in water

10-11 - 6 egg whites with spinach

1-2 p.m. - 6 ounces of chicken with almonds

4-5 p.m. - whey iso in water with PB

7-8 p.m. - 6 ounces of chicken with salad and almonds

10 p.m. - 2 scoops of whey and casein in water with PB

That's it.  I cut out all carbs completely and the water loading tends to do the rest.

I am started to get that "depleted feeling"....feeling flat and not strong.  But hey this is part of the process.  Tonight I cut water, and tomorrow I further depleting basically only having some casein pudding in water a few times.  I'll be writing more on that as well......

Monday, October 28, 2013

Video Q&A


5 days out from Relentless

Relentless is next Saturday, so my water loading to make weight started this past Saturday.

Basically it's 2.5-3 gallons of water a day each day, and this will continue on until Wednesday night.  I also make some changes in my diet like eliminating red meat, which causes me to gain/hold weight because of creatine and sodium.  I reduce my food intake back to chicken breasts, egg whites, and shakes for the most part.  I do take in some good fats via natural peanut butter as well.

Training wise, I did my last deload session on Saturday where I squatted 365x5, did some rows, and some light db bench press.  Everyone has their own method for deloading, and some guys train heavy up until 5-7 days out, however I have found more times than not, the more rested you are on meet day, the better you feel and the better you lift.  I did pull 635 for doubles from a deficit last Wednesday, and that's about right in terms of getting in the last heavy pull session.  In reality, you really would like to get in your last heavy pull 2 or even 3 weeks out.  I will be expounding on this in the new Base Building book, and have the new Strong-15 short cycle setup this way.  In fact, you deload the squat the last heavy deadlift session, then deload the deadlift, and take the last heavy squat session.

Trust me, it'll make sense when you see it on paper.  But basically, it's something like this.........

week 4 - heavy deadlift, deload squat
week 5 - heavy squat, deload deadlift (or no deadlift at all)
week 6 - deload completely/meet 

As of this morning my weight was 258 pounds.  This is about 3 pounds off of where I was when I was cutting weight for Nationals.  I am definitely not fatter, so I think it's safe to say that since then I have indeed added 2-2.5 pounds of lean tissue to my frame.  That is a solid gain for someone at my level, and in a short period of time.

Unfortunately, I also have a slight cold at the moment but it feels like it will subside before the meet or travelling.  I've been taking ecinachia and emergen-c like pedos take beatings in prison.  I have no idea how much that shit really helps but it certainly can't hurt.

I will try to chronicle a little bit everyday here, including some video logs.  The last couple of days before the weight cut are going to be fairly miserable so you guys will probably enjoy that a whole lot.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Countdown to Relentless

A week from today I will be competing in Detroit at the Relentless charity.

My training wasn't great going into this.  I had a few decent sessions but top to bottom, it was less than desirable.

Do I fret this?

Yes, and no.

Going into the USPF Nationals I hit everything in training I needed to hit to be good for the lifts I wanted.  Yet on the day of the meet, I showed up, felt like shit, tore my groin, and under performed.

It's not uncommon to have a great training for a meet and not do as well as you'd like.  It's also not uncommon to have a shitty training cycle, and then kill shit at a competition.

I don't think this is a phenomenon only related to powerlifting, of course.  In football, lots of guys are what's called "training camp all stars" because they perform incredibly well in that environment, then fall flat when it comes "game time".

More than hitting numbers at this meet though, I am just honored to be a part of it and can't wait to go lift.  Do I want to hit certain numbers?  Yes, of course.  However I've been so excited since I was added to the roster that I haven't thought about it as much anymore.  I have mostly thought about the experience of it all, from what those who competed there last year told me about.

I don't want to give all of that away right now, as I want to be able to write and chronicle about it all as I go.
I'll do my best to give day to day updates here, including the weight cut and everything related to it, from the time I leave in my car.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pretty cool testimonial from a guy that thought he'd never be strong

Hey Paul, so I just finished up another Strong-15 cycle and just deadlifted a PR of 565 tonight. I think that's pretty amazing considering over the last 4 months I've done exactly 2 reps above 500 lbs. in training. A year ago I had pretty much accepted the fact that I'd never deadlift 585 or above. Now I feel like it's not a matter of if but when.

I also benched 350 for the first time ever about 3 weeks ago. I have sucked horribly at benching my whole life. It literally took me 5 years to bench 225. So finally being able to hit an easy 350 felt fucking awesome.

Thanks for all that you do. I can't wait to pick up your base-building manual either. Good luck with your meet. -- Bill Schonberger

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Last heavy deadlift session

Bodyweight - 264 (was higher earlier in the day)

Deficit Deadlifts -



Deficit Stiff Legs - 545x3, 500x3

Notes - Felt a little below the weather but glad to be done with training for the meet.  Some light stuff the rest of the week.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and 2 - training related shit

I have to preface the next bit of info out there because of the fact that people get so damn butt hurt over what they perceive as "training slights".  This is not a knock on anyone that wears knee wraps.  It is an observation I keep noticing.......

I see a lot of videos now of guys wearing knee wraps in squatting while doing sets of 8 or more reps.  I have no idea why guys are doing this.

If you wear knee wraps, cool.  Wear them for your sets of doubles and triples.  These are the sets that build your limit strength.

If you are doing sets of 8+, you should not be wearing them.  The whole purpose of these sets are to build the musculature involved in squatting.  Take them off, throw your belt on (or not) and do work.  I see a lot of guys now that I feel do things for the purpose of youtube accolades and e-golf claps.

People have stopped understanding the reasons for doing something or not doing something.  

So just to offer up a simple guideline.....

Sets of 2-5 reps = knee wraps are cool
Sets of 8+ = don't wear em

No different than straps and pulling.  No one should be using straps to pull just a few weeks out from a meet.  Train like you have to compete.  You won't be using straps come meet time, so why are you using them for training to prepare?  Again, I have no idea why guys are doing this.  The mechanics in the pull aren't the same.  I think this is why I see guys pulling 700+ for reps easily but then can barely pull that for a single come the meet.  Why?  The movement is totally different.  So you're not training your competition pull when you throw the straps on.  

If you wanna wear straps to get some reps in, use the same mentality I outlined for knee wraps.

Sets of 2-5 = no straps
Sets of 8+ = throw em on for "assistance work"

After my 405 triple last night on incline I received a lot of questions about why I do incline so close to a meet, and how or why I feel it helps my bench.

I've been over the latter too many times to count now.  So I will address the former.

Benching really beats me up after a while.  I can generally bench for 3-4 weeks before my pec tendons get sore, and my elbows go to shit.  Incline doesn't beat me up as bad as benching, even if I go heavy on it.  And because I get good carryover from incline to bench, it's a great option that allows me to still train heavy when I can't train bench.  

Generally how I manage this for a meet is to set up the strong-15 short cycle with three bench days, and two days of incline.  


week 1 - bench
week 2 - incline
week 3 - bench
week 4 - incline
week 5 - bench

However this cycle I've felt more awful than usual, and ended up doing incline the last two weeks.  

I can tell you that anyone I've set this type of cycle up for has had tremendous success in increasing their bench with it.  Most guys bench far too much, and avoid incline because guess what?  It's hard.  Well if it's hard, you should be doing it and trying to find a way to get better at it.  Not avoiding it because it hurts your clitoris.  

"What about your elbow wraps, Paul?  You wear those!"

I do.  However it's because if I don't wear them, my elbows hurt so bad the next few days I can barely pick up a gallon of anything.  Years of being stupid with shit like 185 pound skull crushers and the like will do that to you.  So I have to baby them now.  Come meet time, I try to have a pretty extended amount of time off from heavy pressing so that they don't bother me on meet day.  Trust me, I wish I did not have to wear them at all, and I don't throw them on until the last few heavy sets of pressing.  

If your knees hurt like that on squats, then yeah throw on knee wraps for squatting sets of 8+.  However, I don't feel like this is the case most of the time.  I feel like it's because guys egos take a serious youtube hit when they knee wraps come off.  Until a few months ago, I had never benched more in elbow wraps than out of them.  I hope to fix this once again after relentless.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Training for Relentless - Last heavy pressing day

Bodyweight - 264

Incline Press -


405x3 PR

Tit Machine - 4x10
Rear Delt Machine - stack x15
Rope Pushdowns - 4x20

Notes - Felt good to hit a PR however I still felt "off" tonight.  The back down set of 365 felt really bad.

Thoughts about life, crap, training and stuff

Base Building Questions already coming?  

Base building is not "6-8 reps" or a certain "split".  It's a methodology.  Honestly so many guys are trying to ask me "is this base building?" and send me some fucking routine.  A a routine.

It's like showing me your mom and asking me if she's a prostitute.  I don't know.  I can't answer that based on you telling me she's your mom.

Base building, like any method, has routines.  It also uses rep ranges.  It also uses a variation of volume depending on what model you are using.

When the manual comes out it will make more sense, and I really think guys will understand how the BB method fits into their yearly training plan.

Movies, UFC, Football - 

I watched Pacific Rim over the weekend.  I felt like if Starship Troopers landed on Earth while Transformers were fighting in the Ocean this is the movie that would have been filmed.  With that said, I did like it.  It was a guilty pleasure type flick, very befitting of popcorn and a drank.  The girls and I had a fun time with it.

I caught the JDS/Cain rubber match and I have a few comments.....

Cain has unreal cardio, and in my opinion is the best fighter on the planet right now.  He'd walk through Jon Jones like he was a ghost if they fought.  Jones would never fight Cain.  Ever.  He knows he'd be exposed as a guy living in a weak weight class fighting small guys.

JDS is a fucking man.  I mean, how he survived rounds 3 and 4 are beyond me.  That dude has heart that cannot be measured.  With that said, I don't think he'll ever be able to match up against Cain without getting his shit pushed in over and over again.  It appears his one time beating of Cain was all about Cain being injured and in a bad spot mentally/emotionally.  Cain is just on a different level than everyone else right now.

Well Donkey fans, you lost.  And guess what?  You're not going to the SB either.  If you do, you won't win. Not only is history against you, but well....history is against you!

Manning is a playoff choker and has a history of it.  And record setting high-flying offenses don't win the Super Bowl.  Nothing will ever be sweeter than watching John Horse-Face Elway and the look of dejection every time the Donkeys lose a one and done playoff game.

I also said a while back that the teams that are playing their best right now, generally aren't the teams that will be playing their best at the end of the year when it counts.  You need to be hot in December, not September.  This proves to be the case every single season.

More on Relentless - 

I am beyond excited for this meet.  And by that I mean, it has changed my entire mental approach to competing.

For weeks training has been shit.  So I have not felt very good about going into World's and doing well.  Now as an experienced guy, I know this doesn't always mean anything.  I had a great training cycle going into Nationals and completely under performed

It's not uncommon for someone to have a great training cycle, and then to have a terrible meet.  In fact, I'd say I hear that more often than not.  It's also not uncommon for someone to have a shit training cycle, and blow things up at the meet.

However right now, to be honest, I really just care more about being there and being part of something special.  I am anxious to see these kids and connect with them and interact with them, and hear their stories.  To me, that far outweighs all of the shit I had been worried about, and I feel like it has helped me find my balance again.  Helped me to focus on the fact that it's all just lifting weights.  As important as we make it some times, it's JUST LIFTING WEIGHTS.

However, at Relentless, it's about lifting weights for a bigger purpose.  To raise money and bring more awareness to the disabilities these kids have, or illnesses they are dealing with.

The "What's your excuse?" Mommy - 

If you haven't seen this pic and article floating around the net, then you must be on a rock and not care abotu anything related to lifting weights, or fitness.

Basically, it's this hot as balls chic that has three kids.  One of which is only 8 months old.  She then attached the phrase of "what's your excuse?" in regards to the fat females who talk about "I still have my baby weight to lose" while her "baby" is graduating from medical school.

I had no idea that "fat shaming" was real.  Or that it was considered bullying.  I thought making fun of fat people or telling them they needed to lose weight was just entertainment at the expense of someone else's conscious choice to be a bigger burden to our medical system, and a hindrance to society in general?  It's not?  God dammit, wrong all this time!

You may find that last remark insensitive, and you can guess about how much I care about that.  Your obesity isn't your privacy anymore because now, it's become a severe strain on the medical industry.  With the abomination that is Obamacare I can't imagine the far reaching effects it will have on the rest of us eventually.

If you can be fat shamed, think about the choices you made to find yourself in that position.  You are only there via your own decisions, via your own accord.  You weren't captured behind enemy lines.  You didn't wake up one morning to find out you had a disease (a real one) that you had no control over contracting.  You made conscious choices along the way to put yourself in that position.  Now, someone else who asks you what your excuse is for being so fat is a bully?

Shame the fuck on you.

There are LOTS of fat people who woke up one morning and said "enough".  Then somehow, someway, they found the required intestinal fortitude to become something better.  They found the power to remove themselves from the aggrandizement and gratification of being told that being fat was not their fault, or that there was nothing wrong with it.  Oh and all they had to do was change what they ate in order to rid themselves of this "disease" and find their way out of the quagmire of emotional dissent.

We have become a nation of weakness and entitlement.  It's not my fault that I'm fat.  It's a disease.  People should pay for my kids, and my lifestyle.  Unintelligent women are held in esteem so long as they rock a nice set of tits and ass, and men are demonized for feeling as though they should act like a man and not be emasculated.

I've said this for a while, but eventually the pendulum will swing and society will be forced to right these wrongs.  "How" that happens I don't know.  When it happens, I can't say.  The fact that it WILL happen is something I am certain of.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pulling out of WPF Worlds......for bigger things

I have pulled out of WPF worlds because I became aware that they do not have a raw division. That means that my lifts essentially wouldn't count as being raw. Anywhere.

Travel is expensive and so is competing. If I am going to compete and put the effort forward I at least want my lifts to count.

Luckily for me, the timing of it worked out ok as I talked to Brandon Lilly and he asked me if I would be open to taking his spot at Relentless the same weekend I had planned on doing World's. Brandon has been under the weather and knew he wouldn't be able to show up at his best, so this really worked out for both of us.

I am beyond excited at this opportunity. I love what Relentless is all about and what it represents. I will only have a couple of weeks to help raise money for this charity. I hope everyone will help me out here and contribute. Even if it's $5, I will be beyond grateful.

Thanks in advance!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Base Building manual is completed

Be a few weeks for editing and such however I feel good about it.  Everything in this manual are principles I've used the last couple of years and had clients use to get all sorts of gainz.

I reduced some of the material because I felt like I was eventually inundating with too much info.  So I scaled it back.

110 pages or so, it looks like.  I will give a chapter breakdown soon.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Training - Squats

Bodyweight - 260

Squats -




Leg Press - 8 plates per side x 10,10,10,10

Notes - FINALLY.  Got a little bit of my mojo back today.  First decent training session in three weeks.  I feel slightly better now.

Helping the Freakshow get his freak back

A few months ago I trekked up to Dubuque, Iowa to attend the UPA meet there and give some support to my buddy Pete Rubish and meet my buddy Pam Bosko.

While I was there, I also got a chance to meet Marshall Johnson, aka The "Freakshow".  If you don't know who Marshall is well you only need to see him once in order to remember him.  It's hard to forget a 6'3" dude that's 280 with a pink mo-hawk covered in tats, piercings, and ladies underwear.  He's quite the fancy lad.

I'm just joking, he's not fancy at all.

But he really does wear ladies underwear.

Anyway, for a guy as charismatic on the platform as Marshall you'd think his personalty would be bigger than life off of it.  However once we spoke I was completely let down, as Marshall is very soft spoken, and reserved.  So much so in fact, that when I was talking to him I had no idea if he giving me the brush off because of being intimidated by my good looks, or if he just didn't know how to talk to someone outside of Pam that had no tattoos.

Nevertheless, we talked about his lifting and he told me that he had been struggling with his deadlift.  That the confidence he had in it had waned for a while and he now felt unsure of his pull.  Especially once he got to 800 or more.  I told him that if I could ever help him out to let me know, and I'd do what I could.

Since Marshall ran away really fast after that, I thought for sure it was indeed my good looks that had intimidated him, and was the cause for his inability to speak at a discernible volume throughout the conversation.  So you can imagine my surprise a few weeks later when Marshall contacted me about helping him to get ready for the Night Of The Living Deadlift.

Since this was a deadlift only competition, I wanted Marshall to be able to concentrate on pulling.  To get his confidence back, and also to build a better base for pulling.  I'm talking about from a muscular perspective.  After talking to Marshall I realized that, like a lot of powerlifters, he hadn't really put in the work to build all the muscles involved in pulling.  Essentially, he hadn't done enough "bodybulding".

This is one reason why I don't care for "powerlifting gyms".  There is a clear lack of understanding behind building the body in most of these places.  Minimal equipment, too many bands, too many chains, too many boards.  When you look at how the most jacked dudes of powerlifting train, they all put in a significant amount of time building a physique.  Some guys eventually narrow down their assistance work to very little, however this is usually after years and years of putting in the work to build an overall body of work.  Guys substitute rows for "pull aparts".  No longer are chin ups done, it's all lat pulldowns, or even....god forbid...BAND pulldowns.  Why are you doing....nevermind.

Anyway, I basically had Marshall pulling twice a week.  Once heavy in his suit, and once light, from a deficit.  The rest of the week was essentially spent building his back and hams.  Barbell rows, t-bar rows, chest supported rows.  Chin ups, pulldowns, shrugs, and light good mornings.

The first week Marshall, I found out, was sore.  I know this, because he told me daily.

"I'm so sore."

"I know."

"I haven't been this sore in years."

"That's good."

"But I'm so sore."


"I'm really sore.  I mean I am having trouble getting out of bed."

"Jesus christ........"

"I'm so sore."


Thankfully, it only lasted about a week or so.  He did ask me when it would stop, as he was starting to feel dead.  I told him that he'd acclimate, and that he'd have this bounce back that would make him feel very strong.  I'm not sure if he believed me or not, but when it happened, it was obvious.  The speed in his pulls increased significantly.  And no longer did I have to hear the incessant whining that was so prevalent early on.
The next problem arose when the heavier days started coming.  And Marshall's self doubt started to creep back in.  He told me he didn't understand why he was pulling with so much hesitation.  Why he was thinking so much about every little thing.

We examined his pull from before when he was pulling with confidence, and his pull now while he was struggling.   There were some obvious technical differences that jumped out at me.  Mainly, Marshall had flattened out his hips, so there was no leverage against the bar.  His shoulders were behind it now, and his hips were flat.  As soon as he would start to pull, his body would try to correct this by getting the hips higher and shoulders forward, however because he was starting in a mechanically disadvantaged position, there was less power output from the start.

You can read about HERE.

Eventually, all of the technical talk in the world fell flat.  Marshall had to just eventually walk up to the bar, and pull.  And when that light came back on, it all fell into place.

The last phase of all of this was  Marshall had never done well with understanding how to truly rest.  He, like a lot of lifters, feels like if he's not in the gym then he's losing ground.  He gets antsy.  But I insisted he take a full 10 days off before NOTLD.  He let me know during that 10 days that he was itching to lift.  This was good.  I wanted Marshall to be hungry when he hit the platform.  He told me in the past that he trained so hard for so long leading into meets, that often times by the time the meet rolled around he didn't have the "pop" in his lifts he wanted.  I wanted to make sure Marshall got his "pop" back.

When the day of the meet rolled around, I tried to watch the live steam to see how my buddy did.  However it never came up, and I didn't get to watch what happened.  So you can imagine my delight when I got a text, that Marshall hit 815....a PR, and his first PR in over a year, and went three for three on pulls.

I'm stupid proud of Marshall, and he shit he overcame from a lifting standpoint, to get this PR.  Marshall is an awesome dude, and wants more than anything to be the very best powerlifter he can be.  Even if he's afraid of my good looks and is a fancy lad, I am humbled and honored I got to be part of this journey with him, and help him find success on the platform again.

He also told me that this was the first pull he could remember in a long time, that was a near max pull that didn't cause him to shake.

"Everything just felt strong, top to bottom.  Like there were no weak points."

That's what all of that support work was for.

I know if he will crush (yes crush, god dammit) at Relentless, and he's already told me his goal for there.  I have no doubt he'll surpass it easily.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Meet Training - Week whatever

Bodyweight - too much

Incline -


275x18, 13, 9 = 40

Tit Machine - 4x10

Notes - Another dog shit session.  Same as everything that was going on when I was getting ready for Nationals.  Strength feels like it is leaving me, I can't sleep, and have constant fatigue.

I may back off these next two weeks and just let the chips fall where they may.  This has not been a productive training cycle, and I'm not sure why.  I'm beyond frustrated.

Overrun with testimonials!

Pretty awesome to get this many testimonials in one day.



I thought I would give you some feedback on your Strong-15 template and the results I got from it. I picked up Strength-Life-Legacy a while back and really used the Strong-15 program and your section on attempt selection for meets. This was my first meet in over 3 years after losing ~60 lbs. and dealing with a long list of minor injuries. I was only able to do the last 7 weeks (not the full 9 weeks) of the Strong-15 template due to circumstances, but I did have a decent training base going into the program. I had a 9 for 9 day with nearly flawless execution on all my lifts. I set modest goals of a 400 SQ, 275 BP, and 450 DL going into my meet training cycle. Here is the breakdown of my training and 3rd attempts:


Programmed for: 390

Heaviest training SQ: 365

Meet SQ: 402.5 (3 whites and had at least 25-30 lbs. more in me)

Bench press;

Programmed for: 275

Heaviest training BP: 255

Meet BP: 292.5 (3 whites and maybe had 5-10 lbs. more)


Programmed for: 440

Heaviest training DL: 415

Meet DL: 485 (3 whites; should have taken at least 500 because it would have been there easily)

This goes to show that you don’t have to lift your absolute max in training to get good results. Each of my heaviest training lifts was done with very good technique and speed, so I knew I was in good shape to reach my goals.

I also realized how important it was to select your opener and 2nd attempts wisely. I did what you recommended and basically committed felony weight murder on all my openers and at least manslaughter on all my 2nd attempts. I think this accomplished three things. It made me very confident going into my third attempts. It also let me experience how it felt to hit a perfectly executed lift. This “muscle memory” of sorts was good because you can then just try to make the 3rd attempt feel the same as the first two. The final positive to this was that I had plenty of “juice” left to get really fired up for the 3rd attempts since I hadn’t struggled with my first or second.

These results were even more satisfying because of the journey I had taken to reach this meet. In May I sustained a pretty significant back injury squatting 135 in a warm-up set (still not exactly sure how it happened). Then 3 weeks later I strained my patella tendon doing very light front squats while I was trying to rehab my back. Finally, I had a rough week with a very sick child about 4 weeks out from the meet. Because the Strong-15 cycle has you using manageable weights, I was able to stay on course with the cycle despite high stress levels and little sleep that week. Given all those factors, I was very pleased with my meet results. If I had tried something much heavier or more aggressive, I’m not sure I would have made it to the meet healthy and able to lift.

Thanks again for all the information you put out there. I’m not sure I would have been able to compete at this meet without it.

Sean R. Schumm, PhD.


Milan Vukovic dropped this video on me.  He ran the strong-15 short cycle for his meet.  

That's 700+ pound squats and pulls if you don't wanna convert kilos.



Just wanted to thank you for all the knowledge you put out. I just competed in the USPA Illinois Fall Classic. 1138 total at 165 pounds. I matched my PR squat from when I was a chubby 198 pounds, and I hit a 15lb overall PR on deadlift.

I used Strong-15 as my peaking program. It was simple and effective. I love the common sense approach and plan on using it as my go-to meet prep cycle.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Base Building Manual

Getting near completion on it.

Throwing out an excerpt since I'm busy with it.......

I’m here to tell you that there is no “one way” to train forever. It doesn’t matter if you are a bodybuilder, strongman, powerlifter, fitness competitor, etc.

Each time you reach a new plateau or come to point of stagnation, you either have to evolve and understand what you need to change to improve, or you just succumb to the stagnation.

Just from a high level overview kind of standpoint…..

Your "offseason" should be spent with lots of work in the 8 rep range, or more. The entire purpose of it should be to create a larger foundation of muscle mass. You are not trying to build limit strength in the offseason.

I see FAR too much of this from guys these days and it's a big reason why they get stuck for so long, at certain plateaus.

You have to create a bigger YOU. This means lots of rep work, doing bodybuilding style training. Why are you spending the offseason, months away from a meet doing singles, doubles, and triples? It makes no sense. You need to plan your training in stages so that one phase sets you up for success in the next phase.

Well if you've been hammering away a limit strength for months on end, you aren't going to be growing. No matter what anyone tells you, no one gets big off of singles, doubles, and triples. You grow via reps and time under tension.

After such a phase, if it was successful, you transition into base building work. This is to spend time in sub max intensities and working technique over and over again via volume.

One of the big mistakes I see guys doing now is training too fucking heavy with high volume work. I don't care if someone has one person who did well with it, the majority of people can't train high volume AND heavy. Once the intensities start rising, the volume has to be backed down. You shouldn't be doing a bunch of volume in the 85+% range. It should be below 80%, where speed is fast and technique is hammered down.

After such a phase, then you taper into a peaking phase for competition where the intensity rises, and the volume comes down. This is the natural ebb and flow of a good training macro-cycle with micro-cycles incorporated into it. This is how you would set up training in phases for year round progress, so that you avoid plateaus and stagnation.

So here are, in my opinion, the different phases that will eventually need to be rotated through your training “life” in order to move you up to a new level. You’re going to have to be cognizant enough in your training life to know when it’s time to take one of these approaches for awhile in order to improve.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The training week of shit

I haven't posted any training updates for a week because they were literally all shit.  I mean 3, -10% sessions in a row.  IN A ROW.  And I don't mean just kinda -10%.......I mean dick knocked in the dirt -10%.

For example.....

I went in to do my back work on Saturday.

I generally have been doing 405x5, and trying to get more strict.  After that, I will do 3-4 sets of 8 with 365.

I barely managed a single with 365 on barbell rows last Saturday.

Tuesday I went in to bench.  I had planned on doing 2 sets of 3 with 405 paused.  405 for a single was brutal.

Tonight I was set to squat and pull.  I rested an extra day to get shit straight.  I had planned on a set of 5 with 550.  I did a double.  It was hard.  Not super hard, but harder than I expected.

I know I haven't gotten "weaker".  Last week I did 2 sets of 5 with 500 on squats that was so easy I was disappointed I didn't either do more sets or didn't do sets of 10.

I'm going to see how I feel over the next few sessions, but right now holding on to confidence is starting to be tough.  I write about these things A LOT, so here it is right in front of you.  405 on bench is generally a smoke show, 550 on squats is generally an over warm up, and barbell rows with 365 IS a warm up, or back off weight for working sets.

I did kind of feel a bit under the weather for the whole week, and I'm sure this added stress from the shutdown isn't helping.  However I take this shit personally, and have Worlds in three weeks.  Depending on how this next week goes, I will decide on whether I'm going.  Because I don't want to foot the money it will take to go compete if I'm not working again, AND training is in the shitter.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ignorance is bliss, indeed

Knowledge and wisdom are two traits that are always seen as admirable, favorable, and things we should aspire to attain.  So one should ponder why the phrase "ignorance is bliss" even exists, if "knowing" and becoming wise are characteristics are held in such esteem.

Ernest Hemingway once said “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” 

Maybe the disconnect here is separating knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence.  All three overlap in some way and obviously are synonymous, yet each have very distinct characteristics that will set them apart from one another. Rather than debating on the semantics of those three words, I chose rather to focus on the previously mentioned phrase of...."ignorance is bliss."

When we're young we're in such a hurry to grow up.  We're in such a hurry to get freedom and have responsibility.  Then when that transition happens, unknowingly, we gain knowledge and lose happiness.

Our day used to be, waking up on Saturday morning to watch cartoons, then head into the yard to play with our favorite action figure or ride bikes all day.  Eventually those things give way to new "activities" we learn about, and yearn for.  Like chasing girls, which comes with problems that Snake Eyes or He-Man never ever remotely offered up.

Or trying to fit in with a certain "group", for the simple sake of wanting acknowledgment of our own existence, and to avoid the end of the world.  I mean after all, if we aren't accepted in with a certain group, certainly the apocalypse would get triggered.  That's what we were doing all of our teenage years.  Trying to save the world from eternal damnation via fitting in.

We find weights for similar reasons.  To get the girl, or to feel more empowered.  To hide behind a shell because the person we are isn't enough.  You know why?  Because we find out through experience, through gaining knowledge, through "wisdom", that we don't measure up in some way.

Not knowing this, we were often left not wanting in life.  G.I. Joe and Barbie was enough.  Or whatever "meek" existence we had before knowing, seemed to make us happy.

Not knowing, was indeed blissful.  Before the world introduced herself to us, we never knew how slow we ran.  We just knew that running felt good, and was fun.

We had no idea we couldn't run quite fast enough, or that we were gangly and terribly uncoordinated.  We just knew that traversing across that log over the creek was incredibly difficult, or that walking with a full glass of water seemed impossible to do without spilling it everywhere.

Our lack of knowledge kept us from knowing how ugly we were.  Mom always said we were the most handsome, or the prettiest.  It wasn't until later that we learned that we had a big nose, or that our shoes were the "cheap kind".

We came to understand what we really were.  Right?  Because we really had to know we were poor, and be made to feel awful about that.  Or that our zit infested face was really fucking hideous.  Like we already didn't feel bad enough about that as is.

If it weren't for those knowledge bombs, life maybe might not have been so dreadful or painful during those times.  The lack of knowing those things seemed to make us happier.  The gaining of knowledge brought with it pain.

Knowledge seemed pretty on the surface.  It helped us get better grades.  It helps us become better lifters.  It allows us to drive a car.

It helps better us in many areas, but it's also the messenger that delivers the ribbon wrapped scroll that screams so loudly to us that in some way, shape, or form, we aren't as good as someone else.  Some of us "learn" faster than others.  Through older siblings or relatives that feel the need to "educate" us in very harsh ways.

Others are lucky enough to not get educated on such matters until later.  When peers drive home the notion in repetitive ways that our flaws and shortcomings are that which need to be made fun of on a constant basis. We survive this onslaught, but not without the new understanding and awareness that we aren't quite as lovable as we thought we were.  We're not as perfect as we had imagined, or that mom had told us we were.

So then the need for that gnaws at us incessantly.  The need to NOT know.  To be without the knowledge that we aren't good enough, fast enough, strong enough.  We need to know that we are.  The absence of one creates the presence of the other.

I lose the knowledge that I am small, and weak.  I gain the knowledge that I am strong, powerful....worthy.

You see we don't often find ourselves venturing down a path or on a conquest of some sort for virtually no reason.  We usually do so to replace one kind of knowledge, with a new kind.  Often, it is replacing something we feel is unbecoming with something that makes us feel worthy.  We need acknowledgement that we aren't so lacking.  That who we are is indeed good enough.  Because we can't find a way to be happy with ourselves.  

That's because someone told us that.  Someone gave us that "knowledge".  Someone said we didn't measure up, or that we weren't good enough in some way.  Not popular enough, not strong enough, not good looking enough, not wealthy enough.

Not knowing these things may mean we were less aware, or weren't as wise about the existence of it, but before we knew it, we were happier with who we were.

Every day I see "progress" pics from fitness women on the net who need 1,000 "likes" of their ass pic.  And a million comments about how hot she is.  This repeats itself daily, because affirmation isn't a one time deal.  It has to be repeated on a daily and weekly basis lest one forget just how "good" they are.

But wouldn't forgetting be better?

Or maybe better yet, we should learn how to reject knowledge that is only intended to tear us down, and make us feel less.

Often our lives drown in depression because we become enveloped in all the things we remind our self that we aren't and forget all of the things we are.  We remind ourselves of this daily and then wonder why it is that we can't simply be happy.  Why is it that joy is so hard to come by?

It's very possible that joy cannot attained until some knowledge is lost.  Maybe being ignorant is the best course of action at times to find confidence again.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Video QnA

From the LRB Facebook page.  If you haven't liked it, go look it up and do so!

Training this week - Apocalypse

Bodyweight - 255

Both Saturday's session and last nights pressing session for severe -10%'s.  I mean atrocious.

My stomach has been churning and not doing well, and I feel severely under the weather, however it could just be stress.  No energy and feel weak.  Not a great time to be feeling like this.  Hopefully it will pass soon.

Monday, October 7, 2013

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

So I'm on day 5 of forced vacation.

I'm a government contractor and so of course, since the government is shut down I am not working.  I am not getting paid either, while the feds do.  Nevermind that where I work, the contractors do the great majority of the work.

I could whine and bitch, and I do a little because it's normal to be pissed off that you're sitting home out of work while a bunch of crooked politicians argue over shit that has little to do with your life at the moment.  Maybe it will down the road, I don't know.  But I know if I lose my house because this goes on for too long, then it certainly has effected me.

I does make me reconsider doing World's or not because traveling is expensive.  I am my own label, my own "brand".  I don't have a sponsor to pay for my hotel or room and board, etc.  I do powerlifting because I do enjoy it, however I don't compete much because it's not a cheap endeavor.

So obviously it fucks with my quality of life in that regard.  Mainly because I also love competing with my daughter.  If it were just myself, no biggie.  But I hate to take that away from her because of something I have no control of.

Hopefully this will get resolved soon and I can get back to work.

Let me also say that anyone who voted for Obama for a second term should lose their voting rights for fucking life.  You are mentally incompetent.

Training for worlds - 

My sub max work ended more than a week ago, and so I will actually add some weight to the bar now.  Feels good though, as my sets with 500 felt possibly the lightest they ever have.

The only problem now, outside of the fact that I may not go to worlds, is that there is a bug running through the house.  My youngest is at home with me.  Three kids in school is the kiss of death for staying healthy year around.

For those interested in my split, this is what I am doing.

Monday - Bench
Bench or Incline - programmed work
Tit Machine - 2x10-12
Triceps and Biceps

Wednesday - Squat and Pull
Squats - programmed work
Deads - programmed work
Leg Press - 3x10-20

Saturday - Back
Barbell Rows - 4x8
Hammer Pulldowns - 3x8
Hammer Shrugs - 5x10

That's generally it.  Basic, to the point.

I don't have a lot to write.  Sleep is in the shitter again and when that happens I tend to lose a bit of the "creative process" involved in writing.

Hope everyone is having a great Monday.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Look to those who struggle to build strength addendum - repost from RP

This is a reposted article from my diet coach and bro at Renaissance Periodization, Michael Isreatel.

Mike liked my first entry so much that he shot me this over, and I wanted to use it. So without further ado....

What do the Best Know?

In the strength and physique world, especially in the sports of Powerlifting and Bodybuilding, everyone looks up to the best. Those with the biggest lifts or the biggest muscles are sought after as sources of inspiration and motivation. In addition, the top performers are also looked to for ideas on performance improvement. Lifters, especially young and impressionable ones, look to those who have reached the top for training, dieting, and supplementation strategies, tips, and tricks. While it is rather straightforward to look up to these athletes for motivational purposes, looking to them for training/preparation knowledge is a little more complicated an endeavor. And it’s not the act of seeking out this knowledge that’s complicated. What’s difficult is the interpretation of the advice received.

With muscle magazines aplenty and especially with the advent of the internet (personal websites, YouTube, Facebook, etc…), training advice from the pros is easier than ever to find. However, the value of this advice is questionable. Why, you ask? Don’t those who are at the top necessarily know how they got there? Doesn’t having climbed to the top mean being able to tell others how to do the same? The answer is… maybe.

The truth is a little murkier than would be ideal, but that does not mean it’s nonsensical. Essentially, maximal achievement in any sport, particularly in ours, is a multifactorial outcome. In order to get to the top of the strength or physique world, a number of things need to be in place. When we look to athletes for advice on training, we sometimes make the assumption that their preparation (their program, their diet, their supplements) was the biggest factor in making them a champion. However, there are in fact three determinative factors in performance (especially in sports that require such a long preparatory phase as the strength/physique sports). They are genetics, preparation, and chance, probably in that order of importance. When taking a critical look at the advice of an accomplished athlete, the intelligent consumer of information must consider all three factors before making any conclusions. Let’s take a look at the three factors, in reverse order.

The element of chance is not often discussed in Bodybuilding and Powerlifting success, but it is nonetheless critical. It takes some luck to avoid the kind of career-ending injuries that are always around the corner with the kind of training it is necessary to engage in to become the best. Many a promising lifter has been derailed by injury, accidents, and other life circumstances beyond their probable control. Just think Paul DeMayo and Vlad Alhazov. It takes some luck to rise to the top of any endeavor which requires the preservation and continual improvement of such a fragile thing as the human body.

Perhaps all of the best in our sports are not those with the best genetics for strength and growth, but are those that are the most injury-resistant, or just plain lucky? While I consider this possibility unlikely as a major explanatory factor (think the multiple muscle tears and comebacks of Dorian Yates, Branch Warren, and Matt Kroczaleski), it does play a role. Outside of resistance to injury and the proneness to living dangerous lifestyles, chance has a very small role to play in the examination of advice from accomplished athletes.

Notice the plural on athletes.

When taking in information from many athletes, chance events in their rise to accomplishment by definition cancel each other out, and what you get is a non-chance remainder of similarity between the athletes being examined. Of course the contribution of genetics has yet to be teased out, but at least the chance component is mitigated with sufficiently large numbers of athletes being listened to.

There is, however, a caveat to be made here. The plurality of information is very important. If you take the advice of one or just a few champions, attributing their success to their tips or tricks, you may be committing the error of misattribution. With one or just a few sources of information, chance may very well play a large role in the outcome, and you don’t need someone else telling you to do something by chance… you can do that on your own! To sum up, chance does play a factor in strength/physique sport success, so be careful when you take the advice of the pros on its face. Unless a whole lot of accomplished athletes are doing and saying the same thing, be weary.

The second determining factor in strength/physique success is, of course, the preparation. By this I mean all of the training, diet, supplement, and lifestyle variables that influence performance.

What can you learn from the best in this regard? I think a lot, but you have to know what to look for. Preparation is such a complicated and interconnected endeavor that it does not pay to take small, precise pieces of advice at face value. Elements in a preparatory program are very interdependent, so that if one element is followed and the rest are not, or even if nine elements are followed but the tenth is not, disappointment and regression instead of motivation and success can result.

For example, you may read that a certain pro Bodybuilder eats 10,000 calories a day and trains each bodypart twice a week with 30 sets each time. Or you may read that a certain Powerlifter works up to a max every week, trains heavy six times a week, and makes regular jumps of 50lbs in each lift from week-to-week in regular training. If you try to replicate these elements in your own program, you may succeed, but you may also be very disappointed, if not overtrained or injured. What you have failed to integrate is the one (among many) ingredient that allows for them to succeed with such variables while you fail: supplement dosing. Just one such variable, small on its own, can lead to the disruption in application of a multitude of preparation strategies used by the best.

So if it is difficult to learn from the best by directly applying portions of their programs or even whole programs at a time, what useful information can be gleaned from their writings and interviews, if any? The good news is that much useful information can be extracted, but with a particular lens of examination. Only when looking at many dozens, if not hundreds of preparation strategies, can you start to employ this method; the method of commonality. By examining the preparation of multitudes of athletes, you will notice that, while many differences in strategy abound, many common practices are employed. These common practices are often the (not so) hidden gems of success in strength/physique sport. To quote Dave Tate “all the guys at the top are doing the same shit.”

Theoretically, these practices of preparation amount to the necessary (though not sufficient) conditions of success. Take a look at the best from bodybuilding and you will see that almost all of them train heavy, eat lots of food to grow, cut carbs and do cardio when they diet, train the big compound movements to put on size, train with a combination of heavy weights and high reps, and so on.

Just the same, almost every top Powerlifter does some sort of progressive overload training, works the assistance movements, focuses on technique as well as weights, is attentive to recovery, and takes periods of reduced training volume/intensity to peak and/or recover. While not giving you the sort of specific information about preparation that would be ideal in breadth and detail, an examination of the preparatory strategies of dozens of the best athletes can point you into the right direction of what you, at minimum, must do to succeed.


Most importantly, an athlete who is to become one of the best must have the necessary genetics. We all know that genetics alone are not enough, and we all know that some champions are not the most genetically gifted individuals (Dave Palumbo would no doubt cite himself as an example). However, what must be understood is that the average genetic predisposition to muscle mass and strength increases (among other pertinent variables) is much higher in the group of elite performers to whom we look up when compared to the average lifting population.

This fact has several implications.

First of all, it implies that one should not expect the same results a pro got from running a certain program. Secondly, all advice from the best must be tempered with the knowledge that they, chances are, both adapt and recover faster and more completely from the same stimulus than the average lifter. When starting a program used by an elite athlete, it may be good policy to start with a fraction of the volume in the program, chart your personal response (undertraining, proper stimulus or overreaching) and adjust the volume from there.

On the opposite end of volume tolerance, some professionals may be so genetically “well-off” that they can be radically underdosing their training, with replication by an average lifter leading to under-training. For example, Melvin Anthony used to spend about 4 months out of the year not even training his arms directly. He would do the compound core movements, and that’s it. Come showtime, he always had phenomenal arms.


Is not training arms for 4 months out of the year the way to get arms like Melvin Anthony?

Probably not, but due to his genetic superiority in the area, Melvin was able to get away with it. To sum up, rarely does championship performance in the strength/physique worlds come from genetics alone (as hoards of YouTube trolls would have you believe). However, good genes are almost a prerequisite for championship outcomes. The intelligent consumer of preparation advice must be mindful of the interaction of genetics and other variables, so long as they are to extract meaningful information from the preparation strategies of the best in the sport.
The big picture

In general:
  • Chance plays a significant role in sport success, and the advice of individual champions needs to be skeptically approached. The collection of information from large numbers of athletes can mitigate this problem and allow more clarity in the conclusions drawn.
  • Common themes in preparation strategies are the fruit of an expansive evaluation of the programs of champions. Common approaches to training, diet, and supplementation can be valuable pieces of information, especially in hinting at what where you should start in your - own preparation. Quirky stuff can seem to work for one or two competitors, but if everyone has been doing the same thing for years (cutting carbs during dieting, for example), chances are that there’s some effectiveness in the approach.
  • Genetics are a big, if not the biggest determinant of elite performance in the strength/physique sports. If you have good genetics, and you consistently run a reasonable preparation for multiple years, chances are you will be quite good at your chosen sport. For the consumer of preparation advice, this is important to remember, since the athlete(s) being sought after for preparation advice may not be preparing any better than the average performer, but simply have much better genetics. Furthermore, the consumer of championship advice needs to understand that genetic variables can change tolerances and demands of training, thus making the application of said advice a nonlinear process at best.

Outside of learning the basic science of training, seeking the wisdom of champions is the most important intellectual activity in strength/physique sport. But just like science, taking the advice of champions must be approached systematically and with a multitude of caveats. It makes for more work and more headaches, but it’s a small price to pay for improving your own preparation and seeing the progress you work so hard to achieve.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Meet training - Week 4 - Squat and tugs - End of sub max work

Bodyweight - 254  Coming down nicely.....

Squats -


Deficit Deads -


Deficit Stiff Legs -
500x8 - PR

Leg Press -
up to 16 total plates x 12

Notes - Really solid session.  Last week was the end of sub max work so tonight I put some "real weight" on the bar, in order to start the peaking phase.  No doubt I could have done 500x10 on either set of squats, so the last 5 weeks of sub max work has paid off very well.  500x10 clearly puts me where I want to be for my goal at the meet.....except I'm there right now.  Now all I need to do is avoid the "I" word and NOT get stupid in training.  That means staying phresh.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Look to those who struggle to find strength

If there is one thing I detest greatly on the internet in regards to talking about or sharing training ideas, it's the insinuation that because someone is stronger than you, that they know more than you.

For example....

"Well obviously it works for him because he can lift X amount and you can't." 

"Let's see you do it then."

These are the common calling cards of the unintelligent, and non-critical thinkers of the internet lifting work.

Being strong doesn't mean you have the ability to teach other people how to get strong, or even understand the most optimal way to do so.

It doesn't mean you know how to teach technique.  It doesn't mean you necessarily know a whole lot about training.  Like, how to program, or do much of anything besides move a heavily loaded barbell.  Essentially all the latter means is that you have great parents for moving heavy shit.  Which is awesome, however, that's ALL it means.

I mean, I've always been confused as to why people used Bob People's deadlifting routines or philosophies to study how to build a big deadlift.

"Well Bob pulled 725 at 180.  He obviously knows something."

He might.  Or he might have monkey arms that means he's perfectly leveraged for pulling........

It's very likely that Bob isn't going to have a lot of insight to offer someone who has t-rex arms, and has to pull in a totally different fashion to get better at deadlifting.  Bob had an all time best in the bench of 300 pounds.  Whoop-tee fucking shit.  I know high school kids that could out bench him at a similar weight.  So Bob didn't pull in such a spectacular fashion because he discovered some secret deadlift training.  He pulled so well because he was flat out built for it.  So studying Bob Peoples deadlift training is an exercise in futility if you aren't built like him.

Vince Anello was once asked what made his deadlift go up the most.  His reply?  "Everything."

Notice any similarities between he and the pic above?

At least Vince could bench....

I've been around plenty of very strong guys that really don't know shit about how to train, or how to program.  They were strong in spite of what they did.  They would have gotten stronger doing almost anything.  Their efforts and training methodologies were not something to be modeled after, or copied by people who unfortunately, didn't get to play in the deep end of the "strength of body" gene pool.  In fact, many of them couldn't spell "methodologies", much less understand the need for it.

This still doesn't stop nut swingers from proclaiming that if their hero does something a certain way, that it is responsible for making them strong, and that no one can criticize it.  I wrote before, no one should be above criticism and no idol is infallible.  

"Well these three guys are world champions/record they know what they are talking about."

There are plenty of athletes in every sport that excel at the highest of levels, and yet could never ever teach anyone else how to get better.  This is a fact.  Yet I always see someones accomplishments propped up as a reason that their ideas or teachings or way of training surely has merit.  And sometimes yes, it does.  And sometimes, no it doesn't.

Barry Sanders was one of the greatest, if not THE greatest running back of all time.  Yet Barry couldn't teach one single person in the entire world how to run, juke, and have vision like he did.  Despite the fact that he was a marvel, he couldn't teach what he could do.  It'd be a virtual impossibility.  This doesn't mean Barry had nothing to offer.  However there are without question, much better people (called professional coaches) to learn from, than Barry Sanders, in regards to learning how to play the running back position.

Someone has to be able to show that there is transferable application of their knowledge in order for their lifting ability to have merit in the "coaching" department.  In other words, just because a guy squats 800 pounds doesn't mean he knows how to teach people how to squat properly, or tell you what is wrong with your squat.  Nor does it mean the methods he used to get to an 800 pound squat will apply to you, if he was in fact built with great squatting leverages, and you are not.

Powerlifting, bodybuilding, and strength sports in general are going to offer very unique paths for anyone who ends up desiring to get involved in any of them.

Everyone will ultimately have their own unique journey and have to learn in their own way what does, and what does not apply to them getting better.

Now on the flip side, and this is not to be overlooked, you can't use weak people to make a point either.  I don't even know where you would start with that.

So what to look at?

I think a better place to start, is to look at people who took a long time to work up to an appreciable level in a lift they struggled with.

For example, when I spoke with Kirk Karwoski, I asked him way more about his deadlift training than his squatting.  Kirk was made to squat.  What's he gonna tell me?  But he was NOT built to pull big.  Yet he pulled 777 in competition, and over 800 for reps in the gym.  Kirk had tiny rat claws for hands.  So his grip was a big issue.  To rectify this, he did "Kirk Shrugs" where he did shrugs without straps, and pulled the bar up to about the belly button area.  So there was a bend in the arms.

"Put my traps on me" he told me.  "and helped my grip a ton."

Kirk also worked his technique so that he got his massive legs and hips more involved in the pull.  So when you watch Kirk pull, you will see him go almost into a full squat, then pull from there as his hips rise.

Vince Anello, the other great deadlifter mentioned above, was actually no slouch in the bench department, as he did a gym bench of 500 raw.

What did Vince do for his bench?

Benched twice a week, did a lot of bodybuilding style work afterwards.

A guy that pulled big and benched big naturally was Brad Gillingham.  However Brad's squat was always the lift was just a little bit behind those two.  So Brad kept working and experimenting until he found a method that worked to build his squat.

He talked about the entire evolution of both his squat and pull at Dragondoor.  It's a great read, and the article is here.   Well well, that looks like sub max style don't say?

I've thought since my early years, when I was into bodybuilding, that the articles on how "Vince Taylor built his arms" were completely worthless because Vince said his arms grew naturally, no matter what he did.

Well what good is that to a guy that is struggling to build arm size?

Lifting is no different.  If you're at the shit end of the stick in terms of leverages for a lift, trying to pattern your training or approach after a guy that is on the royal end is most likely going to be an exercise in futility.

One of the things I believe I've noticed as well about guys that are more suited for a lift, is that they can perform it more often, and recover faster.  My theory is that it's generally because the energy expenditure for them on said lift is less than that of someone who is not suited for it.  Their ROM is reduced, and their body performs the lift with less overall stress.  I've known guys built for pulling that have literally gone in and pulled heavy twice in a day, with no ill effects.  Everyone knows that t-rex armed bench specialist that trains the bench three times a week, and has no problems.  But for guys that aren't built like them, this can often lead to getting fucked up if they try to model their training after them.

If you're struggling with a lift, and understand that you aren't built for it very well, don't look at guys who ARE built for it.  Find guys who got strong on those lifts that struggled to do so.  They will have a hell of a lot more to offer than a guy that can just thank mom and pop for his squat/bench/pull.