Friday, January 31, 2014

Training - Overhead press with a PR on my burfday

bodyweight - 270

Press behind the neck - 

315x4 PR
275x9.5 Almost a PR....dammit.

Front raises - 25 pound plate x 100

Notes - Nice to finally get that 4 with 315 out of the way on press behind the neck.  Happening on my birthday was pretty fantastic.  

Great video by Mark Bell

Do these concepts sound familiar?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Training split, offseason work, and technical changes

After Relentless I decided I would take some time off competing and focus on establishing a stronger base to work with, get bigger, and refine/redo some techniques in my lifts.  So in that time this is what I have been working on, and the split I am using this offseason to achieve these things........

Bench Press - widen my grip

I've been benching close grip for quite some time now.  Making that decision was one of the best choices I've ever made in regards to training because my shoulders never bother me now, and I've never had any significant upperbody injuries in that time.

There were drawbacks with this however.  Mainly due to the grip width that I settled on.

For years my grip width has been basically about 15".  For most standard bars that means my index finger is right on the outside of the inner smooth part of the bar.  Eventually my elbows let me know this was just a smidge too close.  When I consistently used over 400 in training they would start to scream at me again, and my pec tendon would get fairly irritated.  At lesser weights, it wasn't an issue.

So after Relentless I made the decision to move my grip out just slightly.  Essentially the same width grip I use on incline.  This only brings my grip out about an inch or so, but that inch makes a world of difference (that's what she said!).  So I'm still really using a "close grip".  It's just not as close as I was before.

The first few weeks of this new grip felt very awkward.  I knew that it would, so I kept things light to acclimate.  Since then I've been rewarded however and now doing multiple sets of 5 with 405 in the bench is pretty standard.  I do credit doing things the hard way for years now as giving me more "room" for progress with the new grip.  Some might say I should have been using this grip all this time, and that may be true, but I believe there is something to be said for not taking the easy way out and putting yourself in a disadvantage in order to set yourself up for a higher ceiling later.

Squats - More knees out, more upright

Obviously my Achilles heel the last two meets have been leg injuries.  One to my groin, and one to my quad.  It's hard to say what the common denominator here is because it could have been the massive weight cuts or it could be an imbalance.  Either way, I knew this, my quad development was lacking and I needed to fix that.

In the past, I used more hips and squatted more "on top" of my legs (I'm not sure of a better way to explain it), without a lot of "knee out" action.  This offseason I decided to go ahead and devote almost all of it to high bar squatting and front squats, with more knee out action, and staying more upright to really bring my quads up.  I've strained my VMO's several times already with this (nothing serious), and this tells me that indeed my VMO and quad development is probably the culprit in my injuries and also something holding my squat back.  Once I get my quads up to par, I think my squat, like my bench, will improve quite a bit.

Deadlift - 

This offseason I'm really just concentrating on setting some PR's in the deficit stiff leg deadlift, and then pulling with sub-max pulls on the other day.  Nothing fancy here just increasing "posterior chain" mass and strength with the deficit stiffy.  I really believe it does a better job of slapping mass on the backside than regular pulls because of the ROM and a more accentuated negative.

Split - 

My split is a variation of "the zenith" I outlined in Base Building.

I don't have a set number of days a week I train.  Sometimes it's 3, other times it's 5.  If I need an extra day of rest, I take it.  If I want to train 3 days in a row because I feel good, I do.  There is something to be said for understanding when you need more rest, or need to train more.

Day 1 - Squats and Pulls
Squats - 5 to 8 sets of 5 high bar @ 405
Deadlifts (off small deficit) - 3 sets of 3 @ 500

Day 2 - Bench
Bench - 3 sets of 3-5 @ 405, 3-5 sets of 8 @ 315
Hammer Pulldowns - 2 sets of 6 heavy, 2 sets of 12 lighter
Triceps Movement
Biceps Movment

Day 3 - Front Squats and Deficit Stiff Legs
Front Squats - 5-8 sets of 5 @ 315 - 405 (I occasionally throw in sets of 5 @ 405 after all the sets are completed at 315)
Deficit Stiff Legs - rep work between 500 and 585

Day 4 - Bench Assistance
Incline or PBN - 350 method for incline or 5 sets of 8 @ 315 / PBN is 315 for reps and then back offs @ 275
Barbell or Hammer Rows - 2 x 6 heavy, 2 x 12 lighter
Shoulder or Biceps Movement
Triceps Movement

That's generally how I am structuring my work.  I hope to compete again late summer of this year and (cross fingers) not get injured.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Convenience and complacency

After living on this Earth for almost 39 years (39 next week, actually), I've learned a few things.  Not enough obviously, as I still make more than my fair share of mistakes, and still fail many times when winning should have been far easier.  Perhaps it's not ignorance as much as it is application, as I honestly believe that most of us KNOW all the right things to do and say.  Doing them...the application of said knowledge, is indeed harder than we care to admit.

The lack of application of that knowledge is how we wake up one day, and have to have that little conversation in our head asking ourselves how or why we ended up in the precarious situations we've arrived at.  What choices or decisions did we make, or not make, along to way to compose such an symphony of chaos that bleats so loudly in our ears?  Why is the deafening roar of discontent sandblasting us so viciously that it peels away the protective coating of sloth we've encased ourselves in so heavily?

Comfort doesn't thrive.  It doesn't grow anything.  Eventually, that layer becomes weak and fragile and it won't last.  Your comfort zone is a cozy place to live in, but nothing can mature there.  Everything there stays stagnant, or dies.

Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, we become sometimes find ourself in this place because we get lazy and inattentive to the problems in our life.  Often times we believe that they will either rectify themselves, or we don't feel like dealing with the drama of rectifying them on our own.  We...just...wait.  We avoid.  We envelope ourselves in patience because "doing" just seems to hard right now.  Too painful.

And there are times we need to be patient.

Indeed, patience is a virtue most of us need to hone and strengthen.  Being patient can be difficult.  Especially when it's something we DO want resolved.  When we need an answer so desperately that it burns away at us day and night, robbing us of sleep and slapping us around with anxiety on a constant basis.

But we know when we are purposely avoiding what is hard.  What will be difficult.

Which is not really what patience is at all.  It's sloth, complacency, and avoidance.  No matter how much we lie to ourselves we know when we are waiting for a resolution that means we don't have to actively participate in the partaking of a particular solution.

We are procrastinating because we understand that only our involvement can cure what ails us, but the pain or dissonance of doing so splinters us.  It unstiches us and turns us inside out.  It makes life very inconvenient.

And we hate that.  We loathe it.  

We idle through our life loving convenience because it makes our life easier.  Manageable.  Doable.  We can coast.  Even if that means we become emotional zombies.  We move, live, eat, drink, and talk via some form of batch processing that we've programmed into our proverbial operating system we call "I".

We stop paying attention to anything outside of "routine".  More so, we turn a blind eye to it.

We hate being inconvenienced because living outside of our rituals or comfort zone generally introduces a state of unknowing.  And unknowing always summons fear.  Fear is not a seat that we generally sit very comfortably in.

It's too small to allow our fat asses to squeeze down into it comfortably.  It pins against our sides, reminding us through pain and discomfort that we are probably too "fat" to be in that seat.  We knew we'd have to sit in a seat such as this one day, but getting full on convenience was delightful and easy.  Our glutton and the feeding from the plate of sloth let us turn said blind eye to such a tiny and inconvenient chair.  We tried to ignore that the chair exists all together, even though we knew we'd have to sit in it at some point.

"I'll cross that bridge when I get to it."

How we love a good cliche to make us feel better about procrastination.

When the chair isn't too small, then it's too big and too vast to allow us to feel swaddled up in.  There's no arm rests within reach to let us relax like we've been accustomed to.  We feel alone in it.  Abandoned and vulnerable.  A seat this big scares the living fuck out of us.  We need those god damn arm rests!  We need the seat to fit properly, like the one we had been sitting in.  We want to get back in our recliner and relax again.  A seat we had ground our own unique ass groove into.  That's what feels best.  That custom ass groove.

We put off doing the things that would make sitting in such a seat a bit more manageable.  Then we are forced to realize that the pain of the small seat or the fear of the big seat exists, because we made a choices that will now force us into one of those seats.

And we hate reminders of our poor choices.  We are forced to ruminate on our poor decisions and can't decide if we hate the god damn seat or the fact that it's reminding us of the fact that we made choices that put us there.

The truth is often a convenience when it's easy.  It's easy to be truthful when it paints a canvas of boastful colors such as wisdom, vitality, assurance, vanity, strength, honor, and beauty.  Whether that painting be about us, or someone else, it's an easy to paint.  Pleasurable.  It's our cozy recliner that we kick back in, or sometimes share with someone we don't mind farting in it.  

When it's wrapped in a cloak of hurt, anger, pain, and betrayal then it can be hard to bestow upon someone we have wronged.  We often avoid the truth when we know that regurgitating it will not only be very painful out of the gut, but painful for the one whose ears it will fall upon.

It's not a small or big seat.  It's a god damn iron maiden we are going to slam the doors shut on, and we get to stand around listening to their screaming and agony while we are forced to accept the title of personal executioner.  The pain of closing those doors on someone we care about is as painful as anything we've ever had to do.  Because we put them in there, and we closed the doors.  And we stand there wondering why we made so many god awful decisions that eventually led us to this place.  We agonize over the fact that someone else must suffer for the things we said or did.  Then both of us are left with scars because of one person's choices.  And that never seems or feels very fair to either party.

Laziness is the base, the very root, of both convenience and complacency.  It plays a major role in what leads us to these places.  Where we are forces to eventually deal with our choices in ways we find to be uncomfortable and unkind.

It's the same factor that causes plateaus in training.  Then we wake up one day and realize that months, or maybe even years have gone by without anything to show for in the way of progress.  Yeah we were in the gym 3 or 4 times a week, and we had an awesome routine and our diet was "pretty good".  But it never made us uncomfortable.  We never really got close to the small seat or big seat.  Everything was still "routine".

The common theme here is "force".

When we stop making choices that redefine us, that make us better, that make us grow we become complacent.  We meld into the stitching of convenience and stop asking the hard questions, because we don't like the hard answers.

The last place you want to be is one where you are forced to give yourself an ultimatum.  "Shit or get off the pot".

How we hate a introspective cliche to make us feel worse about procrastination.

But if we don't, life will make us.  And then we don't get to pick our seat, because it will get chosen for us.  

Thoughts and prayers out to B

From Brandon's Facebook......

On my squat as I descended my left knee popped wildly, and gave out, causing similar strain to the right leg. Thank everyone of the crew onstage, and EMT's on the scene.

As of right now without surgery I'd never walk again as I sheared my ACL, meniscus, patella, tore both quad tendons, and MCL in both knees and the knee cap in my left knee will be replaced. I go in for surgery in 10-15 minutes, I just wanted to thank every single person for the comments, status updates, texts, and emails. This is just a bump in the road.

I have one of the best knee surgeons in the US. Say a prayer or keep me in your thoughts... I appreciate you all very much, and I'll see you on the flip side.

Keep Brandon in your thoughts and prayers.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Clearing up some physiological issues in the "lats for bench" discussion

From my Facebook page....

I want to clear this up so there is no misunderstanding here, and I hope that someone reads this with a clear and open mind with some willingness to learn.

A muscle can shorten, lengthen, or be "at rest." During all of those, it can also be contracting or relaxed. This is a fact. A muscle that is being lengthened can be contracting and generating tension in the opposite direction of its lengthening. For example, when you lower the bar in the bench press, your pecs are lengthened (stretched) but under tension (contracting). When you reverse that movement, the pectorals and other pressing muscle (triceps, shoulders, etc) contract, shorten, and apply enough force to the bar to move it up. A muscle cannot apply force in the opposite direction of its contraction. Muscles can only PULL. When a muscle goes to apply force, it will contract, i.e. attempt to shorten. This is a fact. So to clear all this confusion up, all we need to understand is this.

1. When one muscle group contracts and pulls the limb it’s attached to, the antagonist stretches. So if you do a bicep curl, the triceps stretch while the biceps are contracting. So when you curl the weight up, the triceps lengthen. So the triceps cannot apply much force to the barbell curl, because the antagonist (the bicep) is being asked to contract, i.e. apply force. If the triceps applies a lot of force, you are working against yourself and making the curl harder.

2. To beat the dead horse just a little bit, once again, a muscle in the antagonist role cannot apply too much force before it becomes counterproductive to the movement.

3. One of the major antagonists for the pectorals is the latissimus dorsi. The lats.

4. When they contract and shorten, they pull the humerus backwards (not forward like in the bench press) and also pull it into the body (the opposite of the “lat flaring” and outward elbow drive on the ascent of the bench). The pectorals of course, stretch and lengthen during this activation phase caused by the lats.

5. During the eccentric portion of the bench press, when you lower the bar, the lats contract to provide stability as the pecs are stretched while also contracting. Then as the bar is pressed, the lats lengthen as the pecs are called to contract, thus they cannot be applying much force to the bar (to make it go up) as that would pull AGAINST the pecs and decrease force into the bar.

6. Because the lats DO provide for internal rotation and attach to the humerus, it is important for them to be tight so as to provide shoulder stability during the bench. Lats do play an important role in providing for stability on the bench and from an overall anatomical point. However they cannot apply too much force to the bar, because as we have shown they are the antagonists to the pecs, and the pecs are contracting to apply force to the bar.

7. Some guys say they get sore in the lats from benching. Well I can see that happening if he is contracting them strongly enough on the eccentric portion for stability on the bench. It is NOT anecdotal evidence that the lats are helping to "press" the bar, however. If you do negative only work on the bench press with say, 110% of your max, your chest will be screaming for days....yet you never pressed the bar.

8. All of this has nothing to do with how you bench or anything else. When guys talk of "loading the lats" it is indeed factual....on the descent, and especially to pull the elbows in closer to the body at the bottom. Once the bar is pressed, the lats have no choice but to mostly relax and lengthen, and when that happens they are not providing force to the bar. I understand the concept of "flaring" your lats to provide internal rotation that "appears" to make the bar move upwards. But “flaring the lats” is really just using your medial delts to pull the bar toward your face. This is preceded by contracting the lats, but the actual “flaring” is a partial relaxation and lengthening of the lats. This puts the bar backwards and shortens the moment arm of the movement, while also putting your pecs in to a better position to exert force.
I hope this helps a little bit and that some people are open minded enough to read it without acting like assholes.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Base Building testimonial

This was a good one.........

Hello Paul,

I'm a 31 year old guy who never touched a barbell until the age of 29 when I started going to a Crossfit box that a friend of mine opened. A year of that got me from 32% to about 16% bodyfat and taught me how a barbell behaves, but that place is expensive, and you have to be on time to class... So I got a membership at the YMCA and I've been training barbell lifts 3-6 times a week in there since Nov 2012. I plan to keep working at this until I'm physically unable to do so.

Beginner's gains stopped coming and no one was doing my programming for me... I did whatever I felt like day-to-day for a while, then I read way too much, hopped from this 4 week program to that 6 week program, seriously injured my lower back doing something stupid, etc. All of this was a lot of fun but after recovering from injury and getting my strength back to where it was, I hit a really long plateau and in particular my deadlift stalled hard for months.

So anyway eight weeks ago I got your basebuilding manual and right now I am 7 weeks into a basebuilding cycle, doing the 4-day "Zenith" split from your book. I programmed EDMs of 290 on squat, 300 on deadlift, 200 on bench, and have just been running Phase I on each of those lifts, doing the same thing every week.

Last Tuesday I decided to check my progress the way you suggest by pulling my EDM after the 5 sets of 3 deadlifts. I deadlifted 300 so fast that it felt like a warmup and I went ahead and pulled 330 for a PR faster than I'd ever gotten 275, like surprisingly fast, after 6 weeks of lifting nothing heavier than 260 pounds... and that felt nowhere close to a max. JOY.

So anyway yeah I just wanted to say it feels great to be making progress again, in six weeks or so I went from feeling like I'd be stuck painfully deadlifting 315 pounds forever to feeling like 405 is right around the corner for me.

Feels great! Thank you! THE THINGS YOU SAY ARE DEFINITELY TRUE. I have recommended your books and programs to others.


Adam Fastman

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Prehab and rehab - excerpt from Strength, Life, Legacy

First off, let me be VERY CLEAR about this chapter. I am going to talk about the things I have done to rehab from more than 2 decades of fucking myself up. Things that worked for me. This is for educational purposes only.

I recommend that any and all injuries be taken to the care of a certified medical specialist first.


If you lift long enough, you’re going to have injuries. The degree as to which you injure yourself will vary. It could be a slight train to a muscle tear to a tendon tear. No matter what, eventually everyone gets nicked up.
After 20+ years of doing bad and awful things to myself, I have compiled quite the list of injuries. Some of which could have been avoided, some not. Either way, I thought it might be beneficial for others to learn from my mistakes, and the things I did to come back from them, and correct them.

Some rules I use about rehab in general

• Do not rehab it while it’s still very painful. I wouldn’t start actually working it until
the pain had subsided enough to allow for a decent range of motion or SOME
movement. This is a theme in all of my rehab work. Let the pain and swelling go
down before any of it is started. The body will do some healing on its own. I made
sure the pain was manageable when I would start my rehab.
• I always use some anti-inflammatory to help. Ibuprofen is my mainstay. Aspirin is
good too.
• If I injured myself on a movement, like squats, then I generally use that movement
plus a secondary movement to rehab with. For the secondary movement, if
possible, I like for it to include a stretch or mobility portion. If I tweaked my pec
on benching, I would go back to benching light once the pain subsided, and I
would add in flyes for really high reps. Some injuries require more stuff, like the
adductors. With those it was squats, adductor machine, and lunges.
• I have always found that compressing the injury most of the day seemed to help
recovery as well. Especially if it’s very severe.
• I honestly never noticed a difference in recovery time if I iced a bunch, or didn’t. Just
an observation.
• I try to train the injured area as often as possible once I am able to train it (the pain is
manageable). Doing something every day for it is the norm. I figure the more often I
ask it to work, the faster the body will make it able to.
• Just because the pain is gone doesn’t mean it’s healed. This is probably the biggest
lesson I learned. And the hardest to learn. After the pain is gone, you feel good
again and start pushing. Then low and behold, bam, it happens again. My general
principle now is once I have a training session with zero pain and
for two more weeks minimum. The area is still weak and still not 100%. It’s just not
hurting anymore. In two weeks, start a plan then to progress in weights again. That
means you’re still not going to be moving anything heavy for another 8 weeks (6
weeks after the two weeks is up).
• Sometimes you just have to leave something alone for a while. I’ve rehabbing the
shit out of injuries at times to no avail. Only to just say screw it, leave it alone, and
it get better over time. If you have been rehabbing an injury for months on end with
zero progress, sometimes just leaving it alone for a while and doing things that don’t
hurt can be the best solution.

Mike Israetel's article on JTS

Just to be clear on this

Train the lift to improve the lift - bench press to improve the bench, squat to improve the squat, etc.

Train the muscles involved as prime movers in that lift, to help increase the lift - pecs/shoulders/triceps for benching, quads for squatting, etc.

Train the supportive structures to provide a better base for the lift - train the upperback, calves, hamstrings, biceps, etc.

Having a great supportive base will NOT increase the lift, i.e. having strong rear delts will not increase your bench. That is done with the first two points. Yes, it's important to have a strong supportive base, but it's a small component compared to the first two things.

Your goal should be to get bigger and stronger all over. However the reason for articles like I have written and Mike Israetel wrote is because sometimes people become too focused on the wrong things to increase a lift, then wonder why progress isn't as optimal as they would like. Lat pulldowns aren't the reason your bench is stuck, and leg curls aren't the answer to a bigger squat.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

E-Book Sale!

I get questions weekly from guys that wonder what book they should purchase based on their goals.

I will give a highlevel overview of each one to help with that.

Strength Life Legacy -

This is a complete work. With everything from prehab and rehab work, to bodypart specialization, to strength peaking, mass building, beginner and intermediate routines, technical cues and descriptions from the big 3 to an assortment of other lifts. I also cover a lot of things in regards to life lessons and such.

Base Building -

This is about developing the big 3 and developing a bigger foundation to work from both a strength and mass standpoint. This is really the bread and butter work from a powerlifting standpoint. I also cover a new strong-15 short cycle in it. Base Building become my mainstay of training philosophy and I've used it on every client I've had with tremendous success. Those clients have ranged from intermediate level guys to very advanced/elite level lifters.

LRB365 -

This is for the gym rat who takes his lifting just as serious as the competitive guy, and wants a long term year long plan to get bigger, leaner, and stronger. It has phases for each goal and lays it all out accordingly.

For right now I'm offering a coupon so that you can buy any 2 books and get $10 off. Only until February 28th. Just enter the discount code LRB (all caps) at checkout.

Thanks a ton for everyone's support!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

QnA video

Video Q&A

Post up a question and I will do my best to answer it in a video Q&A later.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Online coaching/consulting

Due to high demand I am creating more slots in my online training queue.

Serious inquiries only please.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Training - Fronts and tuggers

Bodyweight - 272

Front Squats -


315 x 8 sets of 5

405 x 5

Deficit Stiff Legs -


545 x 5,5

Notes - Best session I've had in the last month because of the lingering flu.  Totally had a "WTF" moment on the stiff legs.  I had programmed for 545 x 5 but I could have done 8.  So I just went ahead and did a second set of 5 with it.  And well, it was just as easy as the first.  545x8 puts me at around 650 or so on stiff legs.  So I feel like I've really figure out proper deadlift planning and programming for myself.  But it's also been working well for all my clients.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Testimonial using the strong-15 and 350 method

Hey Paul,
Just wanted to give you a quick write up about your strong 15 short cycle. I competed in September and used wendler (5/3/1) leading up to it and put up 415/270/429. 

It set the tone and some baseline for me from there out but was short by about 30# of my class 2 total. I did some off season training until I read about your strong cycle. I only had time to do the short version but the way you set the progression and back off work was very appealing so I gave it a shot. 

I set my goals for the meet at 440/290/450-460. The whole training went awesome and didn't miss a session or a weight and also added your 350 method on some of the assistance and this felt great. I highly suggest people use this if they are short on time and wants some pain tolerance training. I ended up getting sick due to some holiday traveling and my kids so I repeated the 4th week to get back on track.

 I only went up to the 5th week then deloaded due to time but I felt ready. Meet day came and I felt great besides as light back/ piriformis muscle tightness. Squats up and I had my buddy wrap my knees for me with his thick wraps and damn what a difference. 

I called for 451# and it went up smoothly. 

Bench was next and it went roughy. It's always been my weakest of the three but 262 flew up for 2nd attempt so I called for 292. Lifted off but ended up losing my tightness after the pause and got all red lights. 

Deads came about 3 hours later and despite my back strain that wanted to reoccur during my third attempt on bench, I felt good and fast during warm ups. Opened with 375(light) 2nd at 424 and lastly at 451. It flew up and wish I would have gone up maybe 10 kilos but because bench south I wanted to hit something I know I could for my total. 

All in all finished with an 1160 total and qualified for nationals and taking the silver medal for my class. 

The things I did that I think really helped during training:
1) the 350 method for assistance and really focused my energy and intensity on the main lifts(obvious)
2) the agile 8 hip low back warm up. Highly recommended.
3) paused conventional deads just below the knees at the given back off sets for the day. I always lost my deads at this point so these helped IMO.

I Increased my total by about 45 pounds and found a few more areas I need to tweak but overall your program kicked ass and will run it again to prep for my next meet. Thanks Paul!

Brian McKenna

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kevin Ogar and being part of the solution

From the LRB Facebook page.......

I feel the need to write about this because I've seen the news about Kevin Ogar and talked with my best buddy about it today.

I want to make it very clear, that I feel it is never, ever ok for someone to use a tragedy in order to create a soapbox to stand on to speak out against something they don't like. Especially when it's something as trivial as a sport, or lifting weights.


But in this case, it's even more despicable. Kevin is paralyzed now, and there have been people using what happened to him as a way to further their hate message and detest for Crossfit.

Let me shed some light on a few things here if you don't mind.

First off, we all are involved in the athletic endeavors we invest our time in because we love them. Whether that's powerlifting, strongman, crossfit, football, or what have you.

Can you imagine someone spouting venom and hatred about their dislike of football and using a player that was paralyzed as a reason as to why it's "stupid" or some other nonsense?

Yet this is what has happened in this situation. And it makes me sick.

Someone doing Crossfit that you don't even know personally, literally has no bearing on your life. None. Zero. It doesn't cause a lack of money in your pocketbook nor does it decrease your quality of life. So why someone would pipe up and use something like this as a platform in order to preach against the "dangers" of crossfit, sickens me.

Crossfit is something many athletes do because they enjoy it. Let me rephrase that. They ENJOY IT. To my knowledge, no one is being forced to do it. People participate in it for reasons personal to them. No different than some of us participate in other athletic undertakings for the exact same reason. Yet I read vitriol spit out daily about crossfit, and whether it's message is embedded in truth or not it seems excessive to me. Live your life, be happy, and let other people live their life and do their lifting in a way that gives them joy.

I have no idea what would make someone want to use Kevin's tragedy as a platform to speak out against crossfit, but we have a lot of fucked up people in the world. So I guess I should just expect it.

As I have said and written many times before, if you think crossfit needs improving and it means THAT MUCH to you, then become part of the solution to improve it. That, or shut the fuck up. It's ok to bitch, but don't bitch about something unless you are part of the solution. Certainly, don't show a lack of character by parading around as if doing a victory lap after someone is paralyzed while doing what they love. People get hurt, injured, and even killed all the time doing the things that give them happiness. Using those tragedies as a means to speak out against that joy is hollow and self serving bullshit. Be bigger than that.


My thoughts go out to Kevin Ogar and the people that love him. I don't know Kevin, but that doesn't matter. I wish him all the best and hope the very best for him in regards to his recovery.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - The Lone Survivor edition

I saw "Lone Survivor" this weekend.  I thought it was phenomenal.  The thing I came away with was the awe in which those guys loved and protected each other, and the fact that they were able to withstand so much physical punishment, and still have the will to fight, and go on.

You read or hear about this all the time in regards to high speed guys.  That they train and train and train in order to develop those capabilities, however I think you have to either read a book describing what these guys go through or see a film that accurately portrays it.

Then of course, I see that the liberal media is already disparaging the film, calling it pro-war propaganda and that some ass face at CNN (Jake Tapper) did an interview with Marcus Luttrell where he basically insults Marcus, and says that his brothers died for nothing.  Essentially, that is what he said.

It's hard for me to write with enough venom to describe how I feel about sackless pacifist cowards like Tapper.  It's hard for me to write with enough disdain in regards to people who say things like "the war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with our freedom".  You can't educate people who don't want to learn, and you can't prove to people who believe that there are terrorists and evil men out there that want nothing more than to see as many American's dead every day as possible.  I'm not talking Marines, or SEALS, or Army infantry, either.  I'm talking you and me, and your neighbors and kids.  Whether you agree with that doesn't matter.  It's not political.  Those are facts.  Hard truths that whether you accept them or not, exist.

More so, I can't stand when people write or vomit tripe like "I do support the troops, that's why I don't want any more to die because of some political bullshit."  I'm not sure of any war or military op that isn't laden with "political bullshit".  How most people feel about that, I've found, is where their partisanship lies.  If you're a democrat or a bat shit crazy liberal, and Obama decides he needs drone strikes or to give a go ahead for an assassination, then nothing is said.  When Bush was in office however, it was an uproar everyday from the liberals over the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

My issue is this.  The men and women who are over there, signed up for this, have trained for this, and believe in the cause and the mission.  Yes, there will be some that do not.  Indeed, there will be those that signed up for the G.I. bill or because there weren't any better jobs back home and they are bitter because they didn't know the military would be involved in conflict.

That's sarcasm in case you didn't catch it.

But for the most part, the men of high speed units signed up for this.  It's what they trained for, and are prepared for.  They didn't make their decision based on who was in office or political partisanship.  They did so, I believe, out of a desire to be part of something honorable.  A code that they wanted to be a part of, and live.  Actually LIVE that code.  Something few men can say they walked through life and accomplished. They went through training that separates the weak from the strong, and the strong from the elite.

Yet they still have to listen to garbage from people like this Jake Tapper.  That their sacrifice was "senseless".
For nothing.

How many people do you know, that will put themselves in harms way and battle until they have taken their very last breath, and never whine about it, in order to defend something they believe in?

How many people do you know, that believe in something so strongly, that they would suffer tremendously for it, and die for it?  How many people do you think you know like that?  Very few.  Probably none.

People love to believe very highly of themselves and their perceived sacrifices about life and love.  But the fact is, most people do not posses the will, the courage, or a deep enough love and belief in something to suffer and die for it.  There is nothing in life that they are so passionate about that they would put themselves in harms way to protect it, or to defend it.  People like Jake Tapper.  The cowards who sit on the internet in the safe confines of their home or work and take shots at people like Marcus Luttrell, or any other honorable soldier that puts his life on the line.

Your love or hate for the government has nothing to do with what these men do, and the kinds of threats they expose themselves to.

"But they wouldn't have to if not for (insert president you hate here) and political bullshit."

In case you weren't paying attention, I covered that.

Anyone who has a passion and belief for something so great, and so overwhelming, that they are willing to fight and die for it, did not "die for nothing".  They died for the what they believed in most.  Whether or not you agree with them, their cause, their passion, their code, is irrelevant.  We should all be so lucky as to have something we love so much we'd be willing to sacrifice everything for it.

That is living with a purpose.  And purposeful living is a rare thing these days indeed.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Take advantage of not being leveraged

A short while back, just a few weeks after I tore my quad at Relentless, I made a trek up to Iowa to deadlift only at the UPA meet being held up there.  

A week before that meet I had pulled 635x3 no belt from a deficit so I felt solid about going in and pulling a nice PR.  This is not something I'd usually do because I think full meet numbers carry more weight than single lifts done before or after a token lift.  

Regardless, my deadlift had been going pretty well for a while so I thought "what the hell?" and drove up.  Well as things have gone for me lately, I started feeling very shitty on my way up there and when I woke up the next morning I felt like someone had water boarded me all night and then decided to recreate the scene from Casino where Peschi and his brother got a taste of hickory for 10 minutes.  

After warming up on bench that day, and barely being able to unrack 275, I knew something was way off, and I texted my best friend Jason Pegg and his response to that was "shut it down.  Now."  

Going against my own desires, I listened.  And in retrospect it was the right choice.  

At the meet however, I watched my buddy Eric Lilliebridge squat a very easy 925.  He looked good for 950 honestly, and I think in the next year he'll be up around 975 which is just insane.  

But the very cool thing about Eric's squat jumping up so much is really what he did to lay the foundation for getting there.  

For years Eric squatted high bar.  And he broke the world record going high bar.  However since then, he's switch to a low bar squat, and his squat has REALLY taken off to an even higher level.  

I really believe that Eric going high bar, which is a much more difficult way to squat, is what set him up for where he's at now.  Low bar puts the bar closer to your hips, and the bar itself obviously doesn't travel as far through space so more weight can be lifted.  

So now that Eric has switched to low bar, there's a whole new world waiting for him to conquer now that his titan strong quads will get a little bit more of the hips involved in the movement.  But I believe that building his base around all those high bar squats is what has set him up for all of his latest success.  

From my own experience this has been happening with my bench press.  I decided after the Iowa meet that I would move my grip out a little bit.  Not a ton, because my shoulder won't allow it, but basically the same grip I use on incline.  

Since I have done so, my bench is now moving at a very fast clip.  I did 405 x 5 this past week very easily, and then did 5 sets of triples all paused with no grinding.  For me, this is VERY good as I believe I can probably eek out several sets of 5 at this point.  

I believe that this is happening because I have spent many years benching with a very, very close grip.  Basically about 15" apart.  Now I'm just a fraction outside of the smooth.  

The key here, if you take note, is that both Eric and I spent YEARS doing something in a more difficult manner before moving on to a method that is more advantageous from a leverage perspective.  Now this is not a new concept, however most guys think that doing a 6 or 8 week block or phase is enough to give this same advantage however I honestly believe it's something that needs to be done over a much longer period to give the same kind of rewards.  This doesn't mean you have to neglect the competition version of your squat, deadlift, or bench press but it does mean you should be spending the majority of the year using a version of that lift that is less advantageous from a leverage standpoint.  

So for squats, if you are a low bar squatter most of the year should be spent doing high bar work.  For benching, extremely close grip work, and for deadlifting you would do it from a small deficit.  

I will be going over more on the blocks and phases you can incorporate these ideas into long periods of training so that you can really maximize the benefits of this.

More to come.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sale on hoodies and beanies

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - 2013 reflections and thoughts on testing and not training

2013 - What I learned, and grew from.

1. Become cognizant of what you want to define you, and refine that.

Like it or not, your priorities in life will define you. Not only to yourself, but to the people that know you. Everyone knows the person that is a workaholic and lives for their career, or the soccer mom whose life revolves around running her kids to a from every after school activity known to man.

None of these things are inherently bad, UNLESS that's not what you want to define who you are. This particular issue requires a lot of introspection, and the ability to be completely honest with yourself, and not make excuses. If you've let something become the focus of your life and everything revolves around that, then like it or not...THAT is what defines you. If you're good with that, just focus on improving that thing. If you're not happy with the current state of where you are, ask yourself what you really need to do to redefine who you are. Don't be afraid to step outside the box and take chances. Failure is only failure if you decide not to try again. Otherwise, it's just falling. And we can all get up from a fall if we want to.

For me, it was becoming an even better dad. That meant finding new ways to grow with my kids, and share more of my life with them than I was. Because that was a priority to me, it was easy to do this.

2. Don't "hear". Listen.

Hearing something means you're aware of a sound. Listening is an altogether different thing. Learning to be a great listener is more difficult than you think. Because most of the time we are thinking about how we are going to respond to something before the other person is even finished talking. This is NOT being a good listener.

I really learned how to listen this past year, and honestly, it's the single greatest thing I've discovered in my adult life in terms of emotional growth. One of the best ways to make sure you are listening is to repeat back to the person what it is they said to you. "So you're saying...." This is an easy way to make sure you're wires aren't getting crossed , and that context is not lost.

But back to the original point. Don't think about what it is you have to say. Think about what it is the other person is trying to convey to you, and why it matters so much to them.

3. Don't minimize someone else's troubles.

"I don't know why you're so upset, this isn't a big deal."

We've all uttered these words. We shouldn't though. If someone is troubled by something you have done or said, and you care about them, then it's important not to minimize what it is you have done or said that caused it.

I was worlds worst about this for the longest. But one of the things that happened when I truly started listening (see point #2) is that I started understanding how my actions affected the people I love and care about. And instead of trying to justify what I had done or said, I started trying to make amends, and get better and not doing the things that caused angst and bitterness.

What all three of these things have in common is that they forced me to put my actions and words under a microscope and to be completely real and honest with myself.

I still fail a lot. I have not cornered the market at being a professional at these things. I am a work in progress and I hope by 2015 I can say that I've continued to grow in these areas and have also found new ones I can improve upon.

Don't test....train - 

Just to let people in on the fact that even advanced and smart guys get caught in the trap.......

I had a conversation with my buddy Brandon Lilly a couple of weeks ago and I asked B if his deadlift had stalled. I asked him this because I noticed he had times where he seemed less explosive in his videos to me, and because he just didn't seem to be pulling as well as he had been months before.

B told me "yes, and no" in regards to his deadlift stalling. That he had an impingement in his back that had really been bothering him when he started getting above 90%. But he also admitted that he had broken the rule we talked about, and that was "don't test....train".

" I did break my own rules. I wanted it too much. You know how it gets." B told me.

This has happened to me many times as well. I get a number in my head that I want "out of the way" and I just want to finally hit it, and be done with it.

The problem with that is, we often get caught up in testing week after week after week, seeing if "this is the day" that the number we want so badly, can be gotten.

The problem with this is that those weeks go by, and because you're not training you actually end up losing ground overall because you're not TRAINING anymore. Even if you hit that number you've been chasing, more than likely 3, 4, 5 weeks have gone by where if you had been training, that number and even MORE would have been on the table at some point. But now that training has been negated and testing has been put in place, progress slows down, or is even lost.

Some may not understand this because they will say "well if you hit a new PR then it worked." but they lose sight on the fact that in the medium and long term range, you short change yourself. You may hit the number you want so badly, but it's a true max, and a grinder. Where if you had just kept TRAINING, it's something you do easily in a few months.

But so many times I see people test and test and test, and in a few months they wonder why they are still "testing out" at the same number they had been chasing for so long, or something just barely above it.

It's because they stopped training, and training is the lifeblood of improving.

Testing should not replace training.

In Base Building I use fatigue singles and testing your EDM for explosiveness as a way to gauge progress. This is far better in my opinion, than getting caught in the trap of testing for maxes, and forgetting your way of "training".

Testing should make up the smallest parts of your lifting, and if you don't compete you don't ever have to actually test for true maxes at all.

Be smart. Train.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Training - Press

Bodyweight - 270

Paused Bench -
bar x 40,40


Incline Db Press - 150's x 10

Cable rows - half stack 6 x 20
Shrugs - 135x100

notes - This was a nice bench session.  The pauses on the first set of 5 wasn't as good as I wanted so I started in with triples after that and made sure they were longer.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Breaking Bad Edition

I posted these on Facebook a while back but I though I'd share them here as well since there are so many Breaking Bad fans, and because I also finally took everyone's advice and watched the series.

Here are my thoughts.......


Hank - I don't care that "Hank was doing his job". Suck my nuts.

He knew Walt was done. He knew Walt was dying of cancer. He knew that Walt paid for him to walk again. He didn't care. He didn't care that he'd tear Walt's family apart, and let him spend his final days dying in prison. He didn't give Walt the courtesy of a sit down talk to explain everything. He just decided to go after him like he was any other meth dealer. Fuck him. I did a fist pump when Todd put a bullet into him to end his shit.

Marie - I did a second fist pump when I got to watch her break down once she found out Hank was dead. My only wish is that Todd and his gang would have knee capped her and left her to die out along side Hank. I don't know that I've ever hated a bitch so much on any show ever. EVER. Why did she make everything in Skylar and Walt's life her god damn business? Why did she think it effected her so much when it literally had no bearing on her life? God damn I hated that bitch with the force of 10,000 suns!

Jesse - I understand that Jesse didn't get much of a say in things from the start. Walt told him to help him cook meth or he'd turn him in to the DEA, but Walt constantly put his life on the line for Jesse, and in the end Jesse never really showed any appreciation for it. Ratted him out to that piece of shit Hank. I am torn on Jesse because I think that Jesse was a tortured soul. A guy with a good heart trapped in an addicts body, but don't rat out your partner. I don't care that Walt poisoned that kid. He wouldn't have had to go to such measures if Jesse had been LOYAL to Walt throughout all of it. Seriously.

Skylar - I hated this bitch for most of the show. I mean when Walk was going through cancer did she ever strike you as the most supportive wife in the world? All she ever did was badger him about what he was doing with his time. His response at that time was that he liked to take long walks. Well she didn't buy it. Not only that, she ended up tracking down Jesse to tell him not to sell pot to Walt. She then fucked Ted because well, she was mad at Walt. She had the cops called on Walt because well, Walt was in his own fucking house. Yet she had no problem throwing 620 grand at Ted to keep him shut up, or another 114 grand at her cunt sister and dickhead brother in law.

Not only that, her taking the moral high ground at the end made me sick after she hinted to Walt that Jesse should be killed. She laundered money and even devised the scheme for it. She cooked the books for Ted. Yet in the end, she was devastated because Hank, who was only walking because Walt paid for his god damn medical bills, got killed for not following protocol on the job.

I didn't hate her as much as Marie because when she bought into the business with Walt she was pretty cool, and smart, and when she wasn't in her bloated phase she wasn't too hard on the eyes. But overall she was a horrible wife and completely self absorbed about her own happiness. Even when her husband was dying of lung cancer. Clearly her and her sister grew up in a dysfunctional family.

Walt Jr - I liked Walt Jr. I can't get anyone hating on him. He was disabled yet never felt sorry for himself. He was a smart ass (in a good way..."Mom, this isn't the right kind of cereal. It says it right there on the box. I mean, it's not that hard."), he supported and loved his dad. He started a fund raising effort through paypal for Walt to try and help pay his medical bills, told his mom she was a complete bitch when she turned her back on Walt, etc. I thought he was pretty lovable actually. In the end he only turned on Walt because he mistakenly thought Walt killed Hank, and like any good man would do, he tried to physically protect his mom. Walt Jr was perhaps the only character in the show that was a good person top to bottom.

Mike - Mike was perhaps my most fave character on the show. Mike knew what his job was, so whenever he was put in a position to kill Walt or do something, you knew his motives. It was never personal with him. Mike also was smart in a way I enjoyed and could identify with. He wasn't the genius Walt was of course, but he had an uncanny sense of intuition. His only mistake was underestimating Walt in the end. But even then he told Walt to fuck off and just let him die in peace. He was salty and unapologetic for who he was. But I also got from Mike that he still adhered to a code underneath his cold bloodedness that would have kept him from doing certain kinds of jobs. Just my hunch.

Gus - Gus was one of my favorite characters on the series. For people who want revenge they could really pay attention to his character. Gus, all along, was going to avenge the death of his brother (?). But he had to establish himself first. He had to build his empire and build enough money and loyalty and make himself "worth" enough so that he wasn't expendable. In some ways Walt was the missing piece in that he gave Gus a product that started taking over the scene. He also was great at thinking many steps ahead, and had an intuition that was uncanny, and kept him alive for all of those years when he should have been taken out.

But Gus' downfall came from losing his brother as well. In that, he learned never to be truly loyal to anyone again. The loss of his brother, IMO, made him so that he removed all emotion from the business and saw people as chess pieces on the board. He moved them here and there for what was best for him, and furthering his business. I say this was his undoing because rather than developing a true relationship with Walt (who was just as smart as Gus), he tried to use Walt as a pawn. And well, that didn't turn out so good. Walt knew Gus was using him to "learn" his method and then his life would no longer be worth anything.

Gus forgot the all important lesson of knowing true loyalty. That lesson is what kept Jesse and Walt alive when each others lives were in the other ones hands.

Walt - Ok so my write up for Walt.

Everything has a genesis. A starting point and a catalyst for a larger series of events. For Walt, it was selling his part in Gray Matter and then watching that company grow and expand into an empire, while most of it was built off of his ideas. All the while, he was teaching high school and washing cars. Yet Walt was a genius. He felt belittled and scorned, and he watched bills pile up and the family he loved so much struggle underneath the burden of it, and he felt helpless.

So when Walt initially started cooking, it was indeed with nothing more than the intention of making sure his family was taken care of after he passed from cancer. However Walt found that he was highly appreciated for his work. He was sought out. Held in high regard. He even had a name....Heisenberg. He told those two mother fuckers in the Home Depot parking lot "get out of my territory" and they split like bananas.

He made one of the largest distributors in the entire southwest "say my name" in the middle of the desert. In front of his goons, no less. He routinely outsmarted seriously smart mother fuckers. Walt was relevant now. Mostly, to himself. He had money, fame, power, and respect. Everything he felt he lost out on when he opted out of Gray Matter.

Walt also loved Jesse like he was his own son. He called him "family" on more than one occasion. He pulled him out of crack houses, blew up Tuco's "fort" for having Jesse beat down, ran over two drug dealers and executed one right in the middle of the street to save him. Even when he finally agreed to have Jesse killed it was because he was so hurt that Jesse ratted him out, and as CS Lewis once wrote..."anger is the fluid love bleeds when it's cut".

Walt's face when they brought Jesse in from slave labor is all you'd ever need to know about his love and loyalty to him.

Walt lost his way of course, drunk in all the money and power, he too forgot what it was he was fighting for. And little by little, he lost all the parts of who he was that made the people in his life love him. He unstitched himself with the very thing he was trying to save his family with.

I still liked Walt. In the end I feel he came full circle. He became aware, and stop lying to himself. He saw the damage he had done with his ego...his pride. He couldn't make amends for everything, but he could accept his part in why he was where he was, and do things that maybe, just maybe, reflected a bit more positively later to the people who were left in his wake of destructiveness.

Breaking Bad vs The Wire -

I have thought about this a lot, and I feel that if I HAD to pick a show, The Wire is SLIGHTLY better. And by slightly I mean it's fairly insignificant. The Wire was more realistic. But Breaking Bad was probably more interesting at times. The Wire had intentional slow moments to make it more realistic, and to allow time for more character development, but sometimes you just want some shit to go down too.

Either way, IMO it's literally the best two shows to ever be on television. The Soprano's aren't even in the discussion. Please do not insult Breaking Bad or The Wire with that garbage.