Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just get stronger

Lately, for some reason unbeknownst to myself or anyone that knows me, I've spent time reading more in depth analysis about movements and motor patterns and studies that show what is better or worse, etc.  My whole sentence there is more ambiguous than Sphinx's double meaning musings to the heroes in Mystery Men.  But I believe most people will understand what I am getting at.

Some of these studies are insightful and come away very appreciative of them, and the knowledge I gained from them.  Especially when the author or person behind it has a level or degree of strength I can respect.  This tells me that he or she not only understand theory, but application.  And the latter is probably far important than the former.  Mainly because lots of people understand theory or the science of something but don't really understand how to apply it in a functional way.

MMA is a great example of this.

Lots of great teachers can teach a fighter something, but what makes that fighter great is his ability to apply that at a high level in the ring.  The teacher has the knowledge, but the fighter is the one that can apply it either in a more superior way, or in a way that is more efficient/devastating than the instructor can.

With that said, I think in strength sports I have always believed that if someone is a "coach" there still has to be a point where the clinical research starts, and the ability to show or demonstrate an appreciable level of strength has been earned, i.e. applied.

This is one of the reasons I don't engage in a lot of conversation online anymore or participate on message boards about training.  Because I see so many guys that argue incessantly about what is good or bad, what is wrong or right, what is transferable or not, and then not enough time in the gym figuring these things out for themselves.

I can't really "know" what combat feels like, no matter how many times I read stories about it.  It is something that one would have to experience I imagine, in order to be able to really know and understand what a writer is trying to convey when penning about such a thing.

You can argue about benching or squatting or deadlifting until the cows come home, but at some point you need to worry about doing more work, getting more weight on the bar, moving weights with more violence and conviction, and not giving a fuck about every nuance in regards to the lift.

Maybe it's just me but I see so much of this now, where guys just debate and debate and debate on whether something is good or bad, or what exact technique is correct, without ever actually having spent time experiencing those things first hand.  A study or a textbook isn't going to tell you everything you need to know in terms of what is truly best....FOR YOU.  You will need to determine that through pain and suffering under the bar.  A joyous occasion it will not always be.  Nor is it supposed to.  However it is part of the process of learning and earning in terms of bar discipline.

I get tons of questions a week.  And so many guys that send me questions want to know what will work best.  The fact is, I can't tell you.  You have to be in the gym, with a yearning in your heart and desire in your unbridled want to, to get better and not spend all day punching yourself in your testes because you don't know if you should tuck your elbows too much on bench, or sit back too far on squats.

This is exactly why Base Building is such a great program in my opinion.  I have been in the process of changing my grip on bench, from very close, to moderately close.  Like any time that you change a technique in a movement, it feels like shit at first.  But when you're using 75% of your EDM, and doing a lot of volume with it, it gives you a chance to learn the feel of it, without wondering all day or debating on what you should be doing different.  I can change those things set to set, until I find each sweet spot for the movement.

I understand and appreciate the need for study and science and all of that jazz related to lifting.  But eventually you are going to have to close the laptop, and put the textbook aside.  Apply chalk and blood to your resume and get a tremendous amount of work done without asking someone's permission if what you are doing is acceptable, and just get stronger.


  1. For me, study and science about lifting is like being on a power-play in hockey. You have to know how to take the advantage of it and you still have to play to score the goal.

  2. I agree without a proper base and without a proper progression of increased intensity over the period of the "real" training plan, these wrestlers raise up their chance of injury exponentially not to mention the head-games that can occur this early in the mma gym.

  3. DAM RIGHT PAUL good job!

  4. Really needed that article Paul.

    I was lucky enough to train with Andy Bolton for 3 hours at his gym in leeds last week. It was my Christmas present from my girlfriend. Meeting Andy was an amazing experience for me and he is a awesome guy.
    He taught me to squat with a really wide stance and to really shove my knees out as much as can on my decent. Now ive always squatted with a raw shoulder width squat. So squatting really wide felt very unnatural for me. I am a complete beginner and still have not even squatted or deadlifted 300lbs Also he recommended squatting 1 time a week as well (which for me still at beginners stage I know I can squat heavy at least twice). . My point is meeting Andy was unbelievable for me and I will never for get it. But I think I should tweak what he taught me to my lifting goals and needs.

    He did say to me that I had pretty good technique on all my big lifts anyway. So if Andy Bolton says that to me then I should stop worrying over every fucking minute detail and just focus on getting stronger. Cheers Paul

  5. To me what your article emphasizes is what nurses have been using for decades....EBP vs SS. Or Evidence Based Practice versus Scientific Study.

    The lifters reading phd level thesis on range of movement, speed of movement etc. versus "every time I squeeze the bar like I want to break it on the bench my elbows rotate in and I have a stronger push."

    Lifters need a combination of both, but primarily EBP.

    Another example, I work with people that have sustained traumatic brain injuries. We have an office dog. The clients are visibly happier and more relaxed when/after petting the dog. My EBP says the dog has a positive effect on client mood. I don't need a scientific study to prove it, the proof is in the pudding so to speak. Though studies on endorphin and serotonin triggers in the brain due to tactile stimulation have been studied at length, I don't need them.

    Time under the bar finding what works has more weight and application the specialized studies, in my opinion.

    To further this discussion these two principles, lifters could also employ, either loosely or formally with a very itemized/specific journal: SMART and ADPIE.

    SMART is for goal setting. Goals are general, objectives are specific. or..I want to lift more on the squat is the goal. Dan will squat 5lbs more by Jan 1, 2014 on his EDM. Every Goal can me broken down into many smaller Objectives. Objectives are Specific, Measurable,Achievable, Realistic, and have a Time element.

    ADPIE you apply to your overall plan. Assess, Diagnose, Plan, Implement, Evaluate. This is how you develop and evaluate your own EBP to your lifting. When I squat at my EDM my knees buckle, Assess. I have a weakness in my outer quads. I will add the following exercises, A, B, C. I Implement those exercises for 6-8 weeks. After 6-8 weeks I evaluate my squat with my current EDM. and so on.

    This was quite long. I apologize. Hopefully you will find it somewhat helpful. Thank you for the time you put into your blog.


    1. No I quite enjoyed that! The input about the dog is a great example. You don't need any scientific data for you to know the effect that the dog has on patients. You can see it for your eyes. Shit, I wish I would have thought of such an example.

  6. hey paul currently whats your deadlift max or edm and your stiff legged romanian deadlift edm or max? because i was doing stiff rdl last night and it seemed too too light for me i was getting no affect im very strict on my form, my deads right is about 315-330ish for a single, but i was doing a top single of stiff rdl at 185, i think i programmed too low. How much weight in relation to your dead max are you throwing around so i can have an idea? thank you paul!

    1. If your EDM is 330 then 280 should be what you're working with. I don't base my stiff legged off of it. I don't test a max on that.

  7. hi paul my deadlift max is 210kg/426lb and i will work with BB model I for deadlift with 160kg/352lb 5x3... how long should i do that and when i should move to heavier weight??

  8. I don't need to get stronger ED COAN SAID I CAN PULL 1200 SO I QUIT LIFTING CAUSE THAT MEANS I ALREADY PULLED 12000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

    1. First - If you're going to troll, get the joke right.

      Second - You don't even post with a name, because it's easier to hide behind a fake name on the internet than to talk shit to someone's face, which you assuredly would not do. Not to me. Ever.