Monday, March 31, 2014

Finding balance

I was once asked a question at a seminar about how to find balance in regards to life and training.

I don't remember my answer at the time, but I remember thinking when I gave it that it probably wasn't a very good one.

Mainly because, I felt like at that time it was a very tough question.  And I couldn't quite put my finger on how to properly answer it.  

How to find balance?

I think when most people think of balance, they think of all things getting an equal amount of attention, or things being in harmony all at once.  Nothing is being overemphasized, and nothing is being neglected.

In other words, the juxtaposition of life and training get weighed and the Scales of Justice should show equal distribution on both sides.

Since that seminar, and since that question, I feel like my answer is a little clearer.

My answer to said question is that there should be balance, but that balance may need to be weighed over a period of time.  And that it gets weighed over that period of time, in accordance to the priorities of the individual.

For example, if someone were working towards a promotion at their job.  Trying to attain that promotion might take up more of their time and energy than some of the other things in life.  But in the process of working for that promotion, they might leave for work earlier than usual, and arrive home later than they had been.  They may have to work some weekends, and take away time from the family, the gym, friends, or dating availability.  If the promotion is obtained, it's then important for them to adjust so that balance in the other parts are their life are brought back into the fold.

When I was young, and it was just the "bros" hanging out, it was accepted that if one of us somehow tricked a young lady into spending time with us, that we would see less of that bro than usual.  As bros, we supported his time with her....unless he flat out canceled plans with us.  Then a bro meeting had to be called to inform him that breaking guy code (don't break plans you made with your bros for said woman) was unacceptable, and that he would be responsible for picking up the next meal at Waffle House, or the tab at Donkey's Nuts saloon.


If a bodybuilder is getting ready for a competition, he may face the same challenges.  For the next few months, he will have to put his time and energy into his contest prep, and this may restrict him in certain areas of his life that he prioritized before.

For someone who doesn't have other people in their life that desire time and attention from them, then truthfully, balance isn't a big deal.  If he or she is chasing a dream and focusing all of their time and energy into seeing that come to fruition, then march on.  If they aren't neglecting people in their life that love them and have supported them wholly, and without reservation, then full steam ahead.

So here we arrive at the answer as to when balance has to be achieved.  And it's an answer so simple, that I never saw it.

Balance means there has to be more than one thing to be weighed against.  I mean, duh.

There has to be a contrast in regards to something else.  If there's not, then there is no need for balance.  All of your energy can be shifted into doing the things that make your life your own.  Because well, there's no one else to share it with.

But once something or someone else enters into the picture, there has to be a weighing of "time and place" so that balance can be achieved.  The problem is, as noted earlier, a lot of people expect there to be balance all the time.  And that probably isn't realistic, or really even ideal.

And the real key to finding balance, is for that something (like a job) or someone to be on the same page with you.  And in return, you shift your time and energy back towards that thing, or that person in an appropriate time and in appropriate measures.

For the bodybuilder who had a significant other prepping meals to make life easier, they shift that balance back to the other person afterwards.  Maybe takes a week or two week vacation, and spoils them for the time and effort that was put into supporting them.  After this, balance is shifted back into something that works for both of them in regards to the gym, and personal life.

The key in all of this, is to make sure and surround yourself with people with whom you can find balance with.  People that will support you while you strive to achieve goals and dreams of your own, and that you can do the same.  And that's another key note.  If you have people in your life that are a rock for you, that support and love you when you're not really putting their needs at the forefront, you need to be able to do the same for them when the time arises.

The ability to find balance exists over a period of time.  It's not always something that is found in the here and now.  It's measured over the ebb and flow of priorities over a span of time.  The give and take of wants and needs in regards to life.

Most people are going to have passions and dreams they wish to pursue.  People in general are going to have things that exist outside of "you and me" that they may devote a great deal of time and energy to.   What's important is that we understand the need for these passions.  We need to understand that getting lost in the "you and me" isn't going to be for everyone, and that's really perfectly normal.  In the support role, we have to do our best to be there for them in these endeavours.  And when we do, we should expect the same from them when it's our turn, and they should provide it.

Finding balance becomes problematic when none of these needs are met.  When one person diminishes the desires of the other person that exist outside of the relationship, there will be issues.  It's also problematic when those desires take over and consume that person to the point that the relationship, or the other person never feels like a priority.

The scales are going to tip from time to time.  There is a great degree of normalcy in this, and overall "balance" can be found so long as it doesn't tip to one side for too often, and for too long.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"He touched the bar!" And it's your fault.

Everyone has had this happen.

You ask for a spot from someone in the gym.  He obliges and you take the next few minutes out to get your bearings to prepare for the set.

It might be for a max, or a rep PR, but inevitably we all eventually have "that guy" that grabs the bar even though we know the attempt would have been good.

This is one of the most frustrating things to happen during a set or attempt you've worked yourself up for.  Now, in our mind, it really doesn't count.  Good for it or not, when the spotter puts his hands on the bar, it's not "all you".  No matter how much some "bro" screams that it is.

Luckily, I have three guys in the gym that have spotted me for quite some time that all understand how I lift, and what my sets and reps look like.  The other part of that is I've taken time out with each of those guys to explain what I need for them to do.

For bench, no lift off.  Don't hover.  Don't touch the bar unless I say so.

On incline, I do get a lift off, but no touching of the bar unless I signal it.

On press behind the neck, I get a lift off, and no touching of the bar unless I signal it.

All of these guys know this.  So I always feel very confident when they spot me.

Well today, I had to ask a guy in the gym for a lift off on press behind the neck that had never spotted me.  He gave me a lift off at 275 and 315.  Both of which I blew up easily for triples.  So I figured I would go ahead and take a shot at a double at 365.

He gives me the lift off and I can feel that the weight in my hands doesn't feel heavy, so I immediately feel confident about the double.  I lower, and press.  The bar speed slows just a bit, as it always does in that transition point, and he jerks the bar up.  I felt a something "twinge" in my right shoulder and I was instantly pissed off.

And I let him know about it.

I explained to him, in a rather hostile way, that not only does he not need to touch the bar, but he definitely should not jerk it like that.

I still wanted to hit the 365, but I knew at this point the double was out because getting "up" for that set and the effort put into that rep did tax me pretty good.  So I took about 10 minutes out, composed myself, and hit it for the single.  This time he didn't touch the bar, but you can see in the video that he was still worried about it.

As much as it pisses us off when someone does this, we have to remember that we are asking someone else to take time out of their training, to give US a hand.  The onus is on us to let them know exactly what we need from them as a spotter.  People aren't mind readers, and anyone that has spent enough time in a gym knows that the great majority of guys that train can't spot worth a shit.  Their hand offs are shit, they hover over the bar, they grab and pull on the bar, etc.

As the lifter, we need to be very VERY clear about what it is we need them to do for us.  VERY CLEAR.

As you can see, this guy was still gracious enough to come back and spot me again after I acted like an ass.  And I not only thanked him for it, but I told him I was sorry, and that it was indeed my fault for not letting him know not to touch the bar during my set.

A lot of times we get so focused on preparing for the set that we get tunnel vision.  If someone that doesn't know us, or hasn't spotted us is taking time out to give us a hand, we need to show enough grace to inform them exactly what we need.

My other downfall is that because I do not consider myself to be very strong, so I tend to project my own mindset onto the spotter, i.e. "this is no big deal".  But in this case the guy told me after, he was scared as fuck to spot me.  Again, that kind of communication should have been part of the dialog before the set, and I should have reassured him that this was a weight I could handle, and not to touch the bar unless I gave the signal to provide help.

In the future, if you have to ask for a spot, keep this in mind.  It's up to you to give directions to the spotter so that your set isn't ruined.  You will also be doing him a service by teaching him how to spot someone properly.  So that's a situation you both win at.

Anyway, video below.......

Friday, March 28, 2014

Shoulda, coulda, woulda, did... - Bulgarian Power Burst Training

For fun and laughs, sort of, I thought I'd start a series on the shit I should I coulda done, woulda done, and things I did in terms of training over the last 25 years.

Today, I'm going to write about something I did over the summer when I was around 15 or 16 years old.

It was called "Bulgarian Power Burst Training.  And to this day, it was the dumbest piece of shit training method I've ever used.

So with further ado....

I wouldn't have bought that Bulgarian Power Burst training and spent a whole summer doing that god damn shit.  A whole summer wasted training three times a day on a program that was designed for Olympic lifters, and contorted for "bodybuilding".  All I ended up with was aching tendons and knees, no muscle, no strength, no life, and no progress.

It's literally the dumbest training ever fucking created and I hope that Tom Platz and Leo Costa Jr. are fucking ashamed of themselves for creating such a stupid fucking concept and catch a game of "knockout" for it.

Do you want to know how fucking stupid the sales pitch was?  Here, I will let you read it for yourself.  My own comments are spliced in between........

How To Put On Unbelievably Huge,
Dense, Rock-Hard Muscle As Fast
As Humanly Possible… And Without Limit!

Without limit he says!  So I can be 587 pounds of rock fucking hard muscle....AND STILL GET BIGGER!  This sounds interesting.  Go on......

Stay with me for just a minute here. I know you're skeptical — who wouldn't be, with outrageous claims like this coming at you from all the magazines, late night TV shows, and health stores.

You don't say?

This is different. What I'm telling you is the God's honest truth, and you need to hear about it because:

Because it's from the mouth of God!  So how could it be wrong?  Indeed, go on!

I guarantee you the way you're training now is cheating you out of 90% of the growth you should be getting!
Over 52,000 bodybuilders worldwide have already "come on board" with me, with absolutely astonishing results (which has caused people in their gyms to cry "steroids!" even though they're totally natural)!

Let's do the math.  I think the program was like, $50.  Due to inflation, in 1991-92 $50 then is like, a million dollars now.

Anyway, let's math.

52,000 * $50 = 2.6 million dollars

2.6 million dollars.  TWO...POINT...SIX.  Million.


2 point Six million $.

Not only that, people were literally crying in agony, weeping like a woman overtaken by a tidal wave of estrogen after watching The Notebook.

This program did that because it was creating virtual incredible Hulk's out of the woodwork, and was changing the face of bodybuilding training FOREVER.

Oh shit, wait.  That's all lies and bullshit.  Fuck.

Basically Leo goes on to talk about how he was invited to this "hush hush" seminar in Bulgaria.  You know, to watch their Olympic lifters train.  Afterwards he was so astounded by their training know, for Olympic lifting, that he decided it HAD to work for bodybuilding!  It had to!

Yes, there's even more!

In fact, virtually any bodybuilder who switches over to this innovative training system can expect dramatic improvements in their own results in a maker of a few weeks or months.

By dramatic, I mean bodybuilders can probably double the rate of their muscle growth in as little as six to eight weeks! And they can add 13 inches to their arms… an amazing amount of pure muscle to their legs and calves… even if they think they've already "maxed" out to
their total capabilities.

I didn't fuck with anything written there.  Yes, add 13 inches to your arms.  So if you had no arms at all, they would be 13".  If you had 13" arms....26's here I come!  Also, even if you're totally maxed out in terms of muscular size, it doesn't matter!  It doesn't even fucking matter!  You're going to grow!  

But that wasn't quite enough.  It wasn't.  Just when you think the hyperbole machine was raging so hard it made bath salts look like Pez candy......

If you want enormous strength, rock hard, tightly defined muscles, a massive chest, slender waist, powerful arms and legs, and the capacity to outperform all your peers by a tremendous margin, I can make it happen faster and easier than you ever imagined possible. But not necessarily without hard work.

DESTROY YOUR PEERS!  Out perform them a tremendous margin even!!!  WITHOUT WORKING HARD!  

I'm mean at this point, I'm deep throating this program harder than Briana Banks in a scene with Rocco.  Because when you're 15 or 16 years old, this shit is what you dream about.  Finally, that program that will make you into a Viking stud muffin virtually overnight, with no hard work involved!  No steroids either!  13" on my arms!  Fuck that program where I had to do arms 4 times a week and curl until I shit my diaper.  No need for that nonsense.  Hard work was for dumbasses, and I was all about finding a short cut, and out performing all of my peers by a tremendous margin.  I needed enormous strength...rock hard muscles, a massive chest, and a slender wasp waist to go along with my fucking arms that were like legs, and legs that were like people!

Still....I was skeptical.  So I continued reading.

Three or four months on the Serious Growth Training program and you'll be pulling 20%, 30%, even up to 70% more weight with no more effort than today. Stated more powerfully—if you're bench pressing 250 pounds today— we can show you how to get that up to 400 or better using Serious Growth methods.

150 pounds on my bench in just a few months!  Holy mother of hot dogs, I'm fucking in!  Who do I make this check out to?

Oh, there's more info?

Whatever form of weight, strength or development training you pursue—why should you be content with only 55 percent of the results your body is entitled to? Really.

I can go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

I'm starting to.  But I like the cut of your jib.  Please seduce me more!

The First & Only Manual
On Serious Growth Training
I'm delighted to say that my Serious Growth Training system is quite possibly the most powerful secret training method the serious minded bodybuilder or other weight trainer could ever marshal.
I knew it!  A secret training method HAD been being withheld from me.  Rat bastards.

So why are you revealing these secrets, Leo?  Tell me.....

The answer is simple: I can no longer sit by and watch while hard-working bodybuilders like you keep getting handed garbage (and even lied to) by all those "experts" out there! I see stupid programs like the "high intensity/low volume" nonsense spread around like it was gospel… yet it just doesn't put muscle on you for more than a brief time (and then you hit that brick wall of stagnation)! And any "expert" who knows spit from shinola should know that! 

Fuck yeah, bitch!  Taking up for the little man!  It's about time!  Spit from a shinola!  Brilliant!

In my opinion, most of the "experts" today are wimps — you heard me — who spend more time with their drug suppliers than on training. You want to take drugs, slam some iron around and get puffy with bogus musculature for a few months? Fine. Then my program ain't for you. Don't even call me…

Puffy mussles.  Who wants that business when I can have some rock hard shit bulging from my clothing!  Wait, what am I talking about right now?  

Oh yeah.  Leo, and the Power Burst training method.  Keep going, Sensei Shinola...

Because I Don't Want
Your Business! 

I bet not.  2.6 million reasons why you don't need it anymore.  So what is it that you want?

I only want bodybuilders who possess a true passion for training to come on board with me. Guys with heart, and with enough brains to see the truth when it's laid down in front of them. All those steroid-drenched jerks (who call themselves "experts") shrink into puny, high-fat slobs soon after they stop their drug-intake (which they must do to continue living). You don't want that… no one with any sense wants that.

I got hearts and brains!  And mom just wrote me a check to you that I'm putting in this envelope to mail out right now.  

And who wants to shrink into a fat, puny, slob after I stop my drug cycle?  I don't!  I can't wait to start embarrassing all my buddies with my 39" arms and 11,000 pound benches with no work involved.  

Check is in the mail! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Base Building - Bench Specialization

I was going to include chapters in the Base Building manual that went over specialization in the big 3, however because I'm such a nice fucking guy, I thought I'd leave it out, and simply make it a series for the blog.

To start, if you're a relative noob, you don't need to specialize in a lift.  Nothing annoys me more than some dude with a 175 bench telling me his bench hasn't moved in two months and is frustrated.  Using the beginner template in Base Building or Strength Life Legacy (both can be found here) will work fantastically for a novice guy trying to get stronger OVERALL.

So this series does not apply to guys that are still working their way up the strength ladder.  You guys need to focus on overall strength and mass development.  Not specializing.

Phases - 

One of the things I really like to do, because it's been very productive, is to design training in phases.  This is for a few reasons...

1.  It breaks up monotony.
2.  It gives you a way to strengthen lagging areas over each phase, and allows each phase to build on the previous one.
3.  It provides a way to avoid overuse.
4.  It allows for long term programming and consistency.

For a guy whose bench has been stuck for a while, let's delve into phase I.

Phase I - 

To start, if you're going to specialize in a particular lift, the other lifts need to take a bit of a backseat for a while.  This doesn't mean you HAVE to drop them all together, though that is an option and one I've seen many guys use successfully.  What it means is, you shouldn't be training those lifts as a priority in terms of improvement.

A lot of guys don't understand that the body is a "total systems" entity.  Meaning, squatting and pulling take a toll on recovery, and pushing those movements hard can indeed impede recovery and hamper progress in other movements.  This is often why one or two of the big three can be progressing very well, while the other lift is in the shitter.  There's a myriad of other factors that could be playing a part, yes, however if you don't think it's a factor then drop squatting and deadlifting altogether for a while and see if your bench and pressing work don't get a bump.  For those that think recovery isn't a major factor, there's your proof in the pudding.

So my recommendation is to either drop those movements all together for a while, or to train them very light, with nothing more in mind than keeping the motor function intact.  In other words, you're simply going through the motions so when you start working them again, you don't feel totally "off" technique wise.

Second, if your technique sucks, then that could be holding your bench back as well.  If you aren't getting a strong enough scapular retraction, aren't set up tight on the bench, and don't have proper elbow to wrist alignment, then you're going to be limited by those factors alone.

I suggest reading this in order to figure that out.

For phase I, we'll use Base Building model I only, and run it for 6 weeks.  I actually used phase I for a very long time and I credit it to taking my bench from 405x2-3 max, to 405 for multiple sets of 5, that were explosive and fast.  Phase I also took my incline from a grinding 425 to a very easy 455.  

The rotation - 

For this phase, and the next one as well, you will bench twice in a row, then overhead press the next session before benching again.

I think pressing twice a week is optimal for most people to improve the press, however it has to be managed properly.  That is, benching heavy twice a week tends to have more drawbacks than benefits.  After a while most guys tend to get sore tendons and elbows, and the next thing you know pain management becomes a bigger issue than benching.

If you're one of those guys totally built for benching, then this may not be a problem.  Having t-rex arms and a huge chest tends to alleviate any of these problems.  Unfortunately, most guys are not built to be massive benchers, so I'll write this to adhere to the majority and not the exceptions.

Also of note, ALL reps are to be done paused, and as explosively as possible.  This is not an option.  That is how it is to be done.  Period.

This phase is fairly simple, and straight forward...

Week 1 -
Day 1 - Bench - Base Building Model I and assistance work
Day 2 - off
Day 3 - Squat and Deadlift (optional)
Day 4 - off
Day 5 - Bench - Base Building Model I and assistance work
Day 6 - off
Day 7 - off

Week 2 -
Day 1 - Overhead Pressing of some sort and bench assistance
Day 2 - off
Day 3 - Squat and Deadlift (optional)
Day 4 - off
Day 5 - Repeat schedule starting from week 1

Since people will ask about assistance work, here is some recommendations.  Let me emphasize that these are not magical.  Assistance work is just that.  Something supplementary to your bench.

A chin, row, or pulldown - 2 sets of 6, then two sets of 12
A tricep movement - pushdowns, overhead extensions, etc.  Not a fucking board humping press.
A bicep movement - 100 rep curls

For phase I, even if you set your EDM properly (that's "every day max" if you didn't know), it's possible that you may not be able to get all 5 sets of 8 in.  Relax.  This is NOT uncommon.  Lots of guys experience this because they are not used to this kind of volume at this intensity.  If a guy comes from doing 5/3/1 or any other method that doesn't focus on handling volume at these intensity levels, and has been doing 1 or 2 top sets, he may feel his power drop off significantly a few sets.  In these cases do not lower the EDM.  Just keep at it, and work towards getting all 5 sets of 8 in.  Just do all 5 sets, and whatever you get is whatever you get.

For the overhead pressing day,  I recommend working up to a "top" set of 5, then a back off set of 8-15.  Whatever your body tells you that you are good for that day, work with that.  There is nothing set in stone here.

Phase II -

For phase two we're going to keep model I in the picture, and add in Model II of Base Building with fatigue singles.  The split stays the same, and there is no "deload" week.  You don't need one.  You're just benching, and you're training sub-maximally.  The longer you can bench, or train in general, without deloading, the more progress you will make.

Your goal here should be to increase the speed at which you can move your EDM on the fatigue singles day.  When you get to where you're moving 95-100% of your EDM in a fatigued state with great speed, you're going to know with certainty, that your bench has increased significantly.

The rotation is the same as the previous 6 weeks.

Week 1 -
Day 1 - Bench - Base Building Model I and assistance work
Day 2 - off
Day 3 - Squat and Deadlift (optional)
Day 4 - off
Day 5 - Bench - Base Building Model II with fatigue singles and assistance work
Day 6 - off
Day 7 - off

Week 2 -
Day 1 - Overhead Pressing of some sort and bench assistance
Day 2 - off
Day 3 - Squat and Deadlift (optional)
Day 4 - off
Day 5 - Repeat schedule starting from week 1

Notes - 

On the fatigue singles day, you don't have to work up to 100% of your EDM if you're feeling like shit.  You have a certain amount of auto regulation built into that, so don't feel like you HAVE to work up to the EDM.  If it's 95% of it, fine.  If it's 93%, no problem.  Just listen to your body, and make a judgement call on how fast and easy things are feeling for the day.  The point is to get to where you can pretty consistently hit your EDM in a fatigued state with great speed.

If your bench has been stuck I recommend using these protocols for the next 12 weeks to give your bench a boost.  Expect to be sore, and expect to be humbled at first if you have not been using a volumized training method.  Once you adapt to it, you're going to get a significant boost in your pressing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Squats and deadlifts with a decent little pull

Bodyweight - 270

Squats -
135 x 10,10
405x 6 sets of 5

Pause Squats - 455x3,3

Deficit Deadlifts -


Notes - Haven't pulled heavy in months.  Didn't even feel "great" but the 585 double was so fast I decided to ahead and throw another plate on for a single.  Wasn't difficult and I feel pleased with the speed on an off day.  Should have just done the double with it like the rest of the sets but oh well.  No biggie.

Injury rehab and some training footage....

Did a video outlining how to decide what you need to do after you sustain and injury, and how to rehab from it, if it doesn't require surgery.

Some training footage...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Thoughts on life, crap, training, and stuff

Someone left this on my Facebook page today.  I found it interesting because the myth about lifting heavy at a young and stunting your growth is still flying around.  Especially by the media.

It's amazing to me some of the myths about lifting or steroids or any other "facts" tossed around by people in the news or by the media without anything to back their claims up.

Anyway, check it out.

World's strongest kid

"I need feminism, because..."

So these pictures of dudes holding signs as to why they need feminism are popping up all over the net now.  And I gotta say, I'm appalled.  I really am.

I remember quite some time back writing several articles about how masculinity in today's society is being killed off, and made to be seen as something barbaric, unneeded, and unworthy of having.

With a caveat.  Masculinity is barbaric, unneeded, and unworthy of having....BY MEN.

I think it's clear that, regardless of what you read on social media, or in some article on the net, or see on some video, that masculinity has become devalued in America today.

From sitcoms to movies, to the feminist led agenda to devalue a mans role in society.

Testosterone driven males that exhibit traits such as competitiveness, dominance, aggressiveness, and hyper sexuality are demeaned with words like "neanderthal" or "troglodyte".  They are called "outdated" or be said to have backwards thinking, you know, because the "progressive movement" has ideologies about how males should behave.  And those particular traits are now frowned upon by people that deem themselves "progressive".

When women exhibit these traits they are called headstrong, savvy, strong, intellectual, and independent.  When a man exhibits them, well he's a douche bag.

The entire gender neutrality movement is really about neutering males and empowering women over them.  It has ZERO to do with equality.  Nothing.  Zip.  Women now want to exhibit the same traits that a dominant male does, and be applauded for it, but the man can't exhibit those traits without being called a bigot, sexist, misogynist, caveman, etc.  If a male embraces qualities more closely related to feminine behavior, he's embraced by them and seen as introspective, insightful, and far more intellectually advanced than those knuckle draggers.

For those that don't think this is an issue, it can and will become one.  No different now than how bullying is seen as something kids should never go through.  Yet for centuries it was used to establish a male pecking order, and essentially weed out the mentally and physically weak.  It was something many of us, including myself, look back on as something we needed to learn how to overcome.  Because sometimes life itself witll bully you, and mommy and daddy aren't always going to be there to hold your hand or scream at a principle about it.

Masculinity isn't about not crying or now showing emotions.  The strongest men that I know have no problems with these things.  It's generally the very emotionally stunted and immature that exhibit a lack of growth in these areas.  That's not an issue with "masculinity" that's an issue with emotional growth and development.  There are plenty of females that suffer from this as well.  But because they can cry or be overly emotional we see those qualities and being assigned to something that is of feminine quality only.  I'm not sure why, they are just human emotions.

A lack of ability to display or accept them has nothing to do with a man suppressing feminine traits.  It's his inability to convey his own natural human emotions.  If males need to work on developing that ability, and some do, then it's a human condition.  Not something related to not embracing feminism.

Base Building and less qualified athletes - 

One thing I need to address for weaker guys using base building is that you probably need to adhere to the beginner routine in base building FIRST.  CAT squats using 165 pounds aren't needed.  You need to focus on building your base through heavier movements because you have not developed the ability to be efficient enough in a movement to make this style of training work.  Not only that, you just aren't strong yet.

There is a clear difference in a guy using 315 for 8 sets of 5, being as explosive as possible, and a guy using 185 trying to do the same.  I still have days where I squat with tons of volume at 315, despite the fact that my squat right now, is probably within the 660+ range, beltless.

But I have the ability to move 315 so fast that I have to hold the bar on my shoulders to keep it from flying off.  That is because of the fact that I can transfer that much power into the bar.  Novice lifters have not developed this particular trait, and need to really focus on simply adding weight to the bar, and pushing the envelope in terms of setting rep PR's.  Not fucking around with 165 on squats.

I am training a ton of intermediate guys that are having massive amounts of success using these theories, however because it's personal coaching I know how to wave their loads back and forth each week to make it work for them.

More on getting psyched for lifts - 

Richard Hawthorn just summed up, in very few words, something I have been trying to convey to guys about getting psyched up for a lift.

"The psych you want is an empty mind with one objective which is to move the bar, the weight is out the pic."

I've written a lot about guys getting overpsyched for a lift, and then losing focus, and inevitably missing the lift.

Frothing at the mouth and yelling and screaming isn't going to move a bar for you. Either you're strong enough to move the bar, or you're not. Psyche is important, but it has to be controlled and then unloaded on the bar. Not on the empty space around you.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Shortening your timeline and maximizing your opportunities

One of the very best parts about picking up weights as a noob are the quick and immediate gains you get in strength and muscle mass.  Well, for most noobs.  I didn't even experience that event like most do.  I went from 114 pounds to 135 pounds in two years and was barely benching over 135 in that time span.

But for most, gaining at a rapid pace is the norm.

This is why it's not uncommon to hear stories of guys gaining a lot of weight over the summer (that did happen to me a few years later when I learned the unfortunate gift of forced eating), or in a short length of time soon after training consistently.

Because bulking is such a common thing in lifting circles lots of guys get caught up in that rate of gain and believe that the continued forced eating has an equal rate of lean mass gained.  But we all know (well, most of us) that it just isn't true.

The reason that noobs gain mass at such an accelerated rate is because of adaptions by the body to deal with the stress of the "labor" being imposed on it.  For example, there are brick layers and other people that perform very physical jobs that develop enough muscle mass in order to do the required job because the labor itself asks the body to be capable of it.  So the body adapts.

No different than the body adapts to the stresses imposed on it from lifting.  Thus, more muscle mass is created as stress increases (more weight + more reps) and presto, lean mass gain.

The reason for the slowdown are a few reasons.

Because the body is such a marvelous machine, it adapts to an increase in physical stress very fast.  Once it has adapted and can deal with the stresses imposed on it, the rate of mass gain will slow down significantly.

The faster you approach your genetic ceiling, the slower the gains will come.  So every month that you train and make progress, the harder progress becomes.  It's a very frustrating paradox.  The more you progress, the more difficult new progress will be.

This is often why a noob that has been faithful to a training program for an extended period that tries something entirely different, will see another surge in accelerated mass gains.  Not to the degree he saw from his initial outing, but it's often fairly significant.

Then of course, the body adapts to those new training methods (stress) and once again gains shrivel up.  This is often why so many guys routine hop.  Because once they changed training programs and saw new gains, they formed the opinion that trying something new had to be the reason for those new steps forward.  And it may have been/or was.  But eventually, over a long enough period of time, the body becomes strong enough, and capable enough, that it can handle most of the shit you throw at it.  Combine that with the fact that, once again, productive training pushes you closer to your genetic ceiling, and the rate of muscle gain slows to a snails pace, and sometimes a halt for a while.

This is normalcy in the realm of weight training.  You cannot continue to gain at an exponential rate.  Regardless of drugs, or food, or training methods.  At some point, you're going to have to just hunker down, and understand there is going to be a "long haul" associated with reaching the very crest of your muscular/strength potential.

It's not uncommon to hear of a guy that has been training for a couple of decades to work his ass off for a pound of muscle in the training year.  Yes, a pound for the year.  And for those guys, the return (the single pound of lean mass) requires an enormous investment (training your ballsack off consistently, for a year).

This is why it behooves you to develop patience and come to grips with the fact that the longer you stay in the game, the harder the game becomes.  The "hard" part really depends on the genetics of the lifter.  Some guys gain at a fast clip for quite some time, then hit their genetic ceiling early (or close to it), and then hang around that area for most of their training life.

For other guys, the initial gains may not come as fast, and their rate of gain is slower, but their ceiling may be every bit as high as the fast gainer.  It just may not come at the same rate his did.

These things can vary wildly from individual to individual.  Not just because of genetics but because of knowledge as well.  If I knew everything I know now (jesus christ I just became an old guy instantly by writing that!) back when I was younger, I would have crossed certain bridges far more quickly.  And this is why knowledge about training, eating, recovery, etc is so vital for most guys.  Because most guys aren't going to be that gain that pulls 500 pounds the first time he walks into a guy, and pulls 700 two years later, and then 800 two years after that.  Rather than be discouraged about that, he should consider that it's possible he could attain such degrees of strength of muscular mass, but the time table to require it could simply be much longer.

In essence, hang in there and train accordingly.  The worst thing you can do, in terms of making the process more lengthy than it has to be, is to fuck around for too long doing unproductive shit or not adhering to training in a singular minded way.  That is, don't train for strength if you are really after muscle mass.  And don't try to get big AND ripped at the same time.  Focus on one thing at a time, and pour your energy into achieving that goal.  Forget about the rate of gain for the other guy too, because it has no bearing on your own progress.

Do the things you need to do, to shorten that time line down by understanding how to maximize your opportunities.  This does come through knowledge for the most part, and some trial and error.  The other factor about shortening the timeline is that some guys have better intuition about training and eating than others.  One of my long standing theories is that the very best guys aren't just the best because of genetics, it's also because they had an innate ability to understand what was optimal for them, and rode that horse.  They didn't hop from horse to horse praying that, by chance, they happened to get on the fastest one.

  • Maximize training progress by becoming singular minded in your goals.  Don't make 15 goals.  Narrow it down to just a few that all can coexist and compliment one another.
  • Maximize your growth and strength gains by training accordingly.  More weight on the bar + more reps on the big movements essentially cures all.  Don't forget that.
  • Maximize your growth by understanding how to eat to grow.  You can't force feed muscle growth, but muscle won't grow without a surplus either.  Eat enough to grow, but don't turn into a giant fat ass.
  • Maximize your recovery by understanding that sleep and rest are every bit a part of the growth equation.  A lack of sleep doesn't always impair performance, but it hiders recovery significantly. 
  • Maximize your recovery by reducing as much external stress in your life as possible.  Learn some healthy coping mechanisms to deal with job, relationship, and life stress.  Remember that lifting is just a stress.  Well, if you're also stressed out all the time from other factors then when are you getting a chance to truly "rest"?  
Putting all of these concepts together can take time, and test your will.  That's what getting better is all about though.  You will never forge a mind and body that is strong if it never encounters significant resistance.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

The four "A" words

It's no secret that I like social media.

I also hate it too.

I'm a writer, and a lifter.  So it's a launching pad for my writing and ridiculously overbearing opinions about lifting, life, relationships, and other shit we concern ourselves over.  We all get this little corner on Facebook or Instagram or whatever other outlet we have available to use in order to vent, brag, report news about our cats, dogs, and other such mindless drivel that we all consider important.

It's really not that important to the rest of the world, but we all like to consider ourselves relevant in those small spaces we log into each day.

With all of that, I see so much in the way of people whoring themselves out for the attention of others that it makes me both sad, and irritated.  I'm not sure if it's because I feel sad/irritated at the people who do it, or the people who follow it.

I try to keep my writing to things that are thought provoking, or things that are funny.  Writing is a huge outlet for me and my passion.  I wrote my first novel many years ago, never pushed to have it published, and have only let a few close friends read it.  Sort of like being a "lifer" in regards to lifting, I'd write even if no one ever else ever read it.  I do enjoy the debate it sometimes creates because I feel like discussing a topic from both sides of the fence is a great way to learn, and get some perspective on supporting and opposing views about issues.  The significance of those issues isn't always a primary concern really.  Just the enjoyment of dialog for the sake of learning.

So what I'm referring to is what I perceive as the devolution of us as "characters" online.  Mainly, I feel like (and this MY opinion) we value so many things for so many of the wrong reasons.  I see dudes and chicks with IG or Facebook with tens or even hundreds of thousands of followers, and I sometimes stop and read and there's so little in the way of depth as to what they are giving out that it becomes painfully obvious that their "following" is there nothing more than the sake of seeing them half naked.

I get that we are a society driven by beauty.  This does not escape me at all.  There's a reason why certain people are famous actors or actresses, and keep getting lead roles despite their shitty acting.  There's a reason why certain fitness competitors have an inordinate amount of followers despite the fact that they aren't really that great at their craft.  Shit, all you have to do is watch a season of American Idol (yes I've watched it, fuck you) and see how surprised the judges are when someone who looks like Steve Buscemi starts belting out some bad ass, top tier throating.  It's expected when a handsome dude or beautiful woman steps up and starts singing like angels.  We expect beautiful people to be beautiful at the things they do.  But the fact remains that having good parents doesn't, or shouldn't, mean that we see you as someone who is masterful at everything you do.

In fact, more times than not great looking people often get by on looks alone, and then fail to cultivate the many other parts of themselves that fill out that "whole person" kinda thing.

So for those people, looks it is.  And because of that, I see a lot of "shells" out there that are in constant need of the four "A" words.

Adoration - 

Love and respect are things that generally are to be earned and worked for.  However this is what a lot of people end up getting via social media complexes.  They believe that having a huge following equates to having respect.  However respecting someone for how they look seems awfully flawed to me on many levels.  I always thought that a persons words and actions spoke more about them than their outward appearance and that respect should be given to people who deserved it and earned it.

I read a while back from a female that said once she started posting more thoughts about her feelings related to things about life, and stopped posting half nakes selfies, she lost a lot of followers.

Fucking sad.

It was far more important, to what was obviously her male followers, to see her half naked than to actually take a moment to read who she really was, what she thought about her own struggles, and her take on trivial and non-trivial events in her life.  Isn't that who she REALLY is?  And not just some ass shot on social media?  But some people find that learning who is a person is to be far more boring than another oiled up shot of their ass or tits.  I suppose that's what it is, but that's conjecture on my part I guess.  She found it far more rewarding to keep the followers that respected who she was, than what she looked like.

But isn't that what we're supposed to be doing as "decent" people?

Throwing out respect to a "person" is different than throwing out respect to what they have accomplished.  There may be a fine line there to some people, but I believe it's a pretty wide chasm.

I can respect someone's body because of the effort it took to build it.  But that has nothing to do for my respect for them as a human being.  And it's my belief that the latter form is far more important than the former.  I can respect the work that may have gone into building a successful business, but the person who achieved that feat may indeed be a scumbag.  Respect the work, but not the worker I guess would be the theme here.

Respecting the work and respecting the person aren't remotely the same things.  And what I believe I see now, is far too many people wanting adoration for nothing more than what they look like, and they put very little stock into the way they carry themselves, or what kind of character they have.  Very little goes into what they give back.  You know, other than some half naked pics.

This isn't completely their fault.  They get the following..........


....for doing this.  They get constant feedback at how awesome they are.  How great they look.  And this is what they need.  Because they may not have developed enough "other parts" in order to feel good about themselves often enough to put who they are "out there".  It's tougher to put those parts of yourself for everyone to see, because it makes you feel very vulnerable.  Far more exposed than a pic in a thong or whatever else you don't have on.

I pity a lot of these people because I see it daily.  The "likes" and the comments about how hot they are from all the White Knights wanes fairly quickly.  So what has to happen next?  Another pic.  Another status about "who wants to take me to get sushi?" that quickly gets flooded with a thousand responses with everything from "I would!" to "if I only lived closer" to "I'd plow that shit sideways so hard your neighbors dog would feel it."

Affirmation is needed because the "feeling" they get from being "needed" by others will always wane and lose it's potency.  It's like a drug.  The fix for it is often, and over time has to be in greater and greater quantity.  It is because the emotional support and feeling of being needed or wanted fills that empty space.  Do we all have such empty spaces?  Of course we do.  I am not exempt from this equation in the slightest.  But it should come from the people that truly care about you for who you are, what you bring to their life, and the mutual respect shared between you.  Not from strangers who have no idea who you really are, and care about nothing more than preying on that weak part of what envelopes you.  It's the.....


....or lack of, that also drives these things.  And who doesn't want attention?  But why such a need for it on a constant basis?  Especially regarding nothing more than how you look.  I'm not saying I don't enjoy looking good, or being told I look jacked or huge, whatever.  But I get far more out of being told that something I wrote had a positive effect on someone's life than someone telling me my shit is all "swole".  For reals.

That's because offering something in the way of direction to someone is a lasting thing.  No different than the little dude in Subway offered me some positive direction in my own life.  He didn't do that for attention.  Hell, he wasn't aware he was doing it at all.  But the effect it had on me was tremendous, and made me rethink my own behavior and how I treat people.  THAT is worthy of attention.  That is something worth far more than attention based on superficial layering that will fade and worsen over time.

If it's attention you seek, ask yourself why.  There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting or needing attention.  After all, we are social creatures.  But just like affirmation, who are you needing attention from?  And why?


Finally, the real issue at hand here.  We ALL want to be accepted in some way.  We cannot escape this.  Even if we just want to accept who we are, and truly don't give a shit about the rest of the outside world, it's a deep inner need to find acceptance about what makes us the person we are.  Our place in this world.  We are here for a reason.  That's what we tell ourselves.  And even if no one else accepts us, we desire to at least accept the parts of us we believe are to be lovable and good.  And we struggle with that.  Which is why we sometimes have to talk or brag about those good parts.

Because we do, at some level, desire the adoration we get from people.  We love the affirmation that comes from other people agreeing with us, or lining up in our camp.  We do appreciate the attention we get because of our works and deeds.  And we do desire acceptance from others, or even ourselves to some degree.

What I'm getting at here is, who are we giving these things to?  And why?  And second, who do we want them from, and why?

And the end of the day your time, love, energy, respect, adoration, and commitment to people should be to those who give it back, and deserve it from you.  And vice versa.

Call this self awareness week if you will.  I'm not preaching to you.  Preaching to the mirror is always more rewarding than trying to change someone else's mind.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Some quick advice for young dudes

I got a message from a young dude the other night, who basically was asking me if it was time to do a cycle or some pro hormones. He felt he had "plateaued" and couldn't gain any more. That he had tried a bunch of programs and his squat and bench hadn't moved in forever.

I touched on this in my Darksidin' series but I'll give some bullet points here.

1. No one plateaus at 20. No one.

2. At that age, your body is flooded with natural test and GH. Take advantage of that time when you are young.

3. Your best friend in this time for serious gains, is FOOD. Yes you may gain some "chub". That's fine. You've got the rest of your life to get "shredded". Spend some of those early years really working on building a foundation of mass rather than trying to hold on to your "abs", while going nowhere.

4. One routine or program is generally about as good as the other, so long as it is based in sound training principles. It's not the program holding you back, it's generally the lack of food and rest.

5. With that said, base your training around the big compound movements. Not side laterals, curls, leg extensions, etc. Squats, rows, bench, incline, dips, chins, etc should make up your training "base".

6. Young guys struggle the most with this because they haven't developed the trait of being patient, and don't have a strong association with it. This is the time really grok that understanding. 6 months without a ton of progress, in the grand scheme of things, isn't a huge deal, and is a part of the learning process with getting better and learning what works for you.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Defining masculinity - Part 1 - Integrity, actions, and behavior

I've written many articles about the defining characteristics of what I believe makes up an "alpha male", and of course it has generally been met with a mix of "yay" and "fuck you, asshole" each time.

That's ok.  You can't please everyone.  I've never seen an article on this subject that was universally agreed upon by males and females alike.

However, because I see this argument quite often in social media circles I thought I would revisit it, because as we grow and become wiser through experience, our opinions and ideologies can and do generally change.
I don't want to write this with the idea that I'm trying to appeal to everyone's idea of what makes someone a "manly man", or "alpha male".  That is a complete impossibility.  But I think there is some common ground that most people can agree upon.  And also because I've seen plenty of arguments that have caused pause for thought, or introspection.

The first thing I want to address, is that there is no such thing as a man that is going to neatly fit into some idealistic box that truly defines what a man is.  I can't do that with a blog post, and I don't believe it can be done in theory either.  Because all people have their own set of ethics and morals based upon how we were raised, and the unique experiences each of us have throughout life.

So there's no way to define a man "wholly".  That is to say, if he doesn't fit neatly into all of these bullet points then he's really not a man.  Or even if he did, he'd have flaws outside of said bullet points that might contradict those specific ideologies.

So I will touch on that first.

The "perfect" man, real "alpha" males - 

To start, there are no perfect people, thus there are no perfect "men".

None of us are infallible or flawless.  To err is to be human.  And to err means we all will at some point, break the rules of whatever code we feels defines us as men.

Let me also say, everything I write on this topic is my own opinion.  I will do my best to not be overly dogmatic or rigid.  Because I don't believe anyone can truly nail down every facet of what makes someone totally "manly".

In my opinion, I do believe there are men that fit the bill better than others do at defining masculinity.  This is MY opinion and I have a right to it.  I do believe we have become a society filled with many emasculated males, and I believe there are many reasons for this.

Society doesn't seem to appreciate manly men any more.  I can't tell you how many times I've watched an action flick where the "hero" is some bumbling clown who needs the help of a female to "save the day".  She's always more physically capable than he is, and far more intellectual.

Sit-coms are even worse.  The dad is always some fat guy that acts like a total dip shit, drinks cheap beer and believes that belching is an intelligent answer.  That or he's some skinny bitch that avoids physical confrontation at all cost and has no insight to life at all.  If not for "her" he'd be lucky to have ever gotten laid, or even be alive!

My persona belief is that many of these media outlets do this because it's imperative to cast men in a negative light in order to lift women up.  I don't see the reason that one gender has to be torn down in order to make the other one appear strong.  A man can be a mans man, with a strong woman by his side.  I see no issue here.  In fact, one tends to compliment the other.  But there is no doubt that being manly is now frowned upon in society today, and that men and boys are more emasculated than ever.

Take a stroll through a clothing store some time and take a look at the clothes most young men get to pick from today.  The jeans look very much like women's jeans and the shirts could easily be mistaken for feminine attire as well.

This article itself, before even being read, will get labeled as misogynistic, neanderthal tripe with no basis in reality.   Prose worthy of being read only by 18 year olds with uncontrollable erections and acne ridden faces.

In fact, any time the word "alpha male" gets tossed around someone inevitably rolls their eyes and attaches a negative connotation to it.  WITHOUT FAIL!

It's because people believe it reeks of superiority complexes and is drowned in insecurity.  And that's very possible.  Any male that owns a room doesn't do it by announcing "hey, I'm an alpha male."  He does it through confidence, intelligent speaking, how he carries himself, and how he connects and resonates with other people in that room.  Not because he benches 500 or has bigger arms than anyone in it or talks about all the asses he's kicked and women he's banged.

So now that I've prefaced this article with those notations, let's begin.......

"A real man wouldn't lie."

All "men" will lie.  Understanding the difference between someone who has told a lie, and someone who is a liar is paramount.  All of us "lie".  So if your definition of a liar is "someone who lies" then we are all liars.

Generally speaking we lie for a myriad of reasons.  However it can usually be narrowed down a few specific reasons.

1.  We lie to keep from hurting someone we care about.
2.  We lie to avoid confrontation
3.  We lie to make ourselves look better

We've all been guilty of lying for these reasons in one way or another.  However regardless of what someone may tell you, there is a very clear distinction between white lies and black lies.

"Does my ass look fat in this dress?"

"No honey."

This is a white lie.

Nevermind that it does.  Saying it does not is a lie, but it is told with intention of not hurting your partner unnecessarily.  Also because you probably don't want to spend the night arguing over her fat ass.

"Did you steal money from me?"


If you did steal, well that's a "black lie".  Telling it shows a lack of respect for the person you are lying to, and you are doing so to avoid potentially significant consequences for your actions.  The main part here however, is the respect part.  The person didn't lie here to keep from hurting the other persons feelings.  They lied because what they did was wrong, and don't want to be held accountable for their actions.

"I worked for Bill Gates for 3 years."

Nevermind that you only worked in the same building, and never once had a conversation with the man.  This was done for nothing more than boasting.  To make yourself look good, or to present a false sense of worthiness.  Possibly even to yourself.  After all, self importance is important.  When it's created a lie, I think that says a lot about how the person feels about themselves.

All of these things are lies that represent different reasons and also different potential consequences.  It all depends on the person you lied to, and the context of the lie.

Lying about how your woman looks in her clothes probably won't present the same level of issues you will face if you stole money from a friend and turned around and lied to them about it.  Lying to someone in order to make yourself look better in their eyes, if found out about it, could indeed label you as a liar unless you could clearly explain that you were merely trying to impress them, and fucked up in doing so.

What has to be addressed, by YOU as a man, is this.  Are you LIVING a lie?  And if you are, are you doing so because you don't want to be held accountable for your actions?

Telling lies, and living your life as a liar aren't remotely the same thing.  Yet the fact is, many of us have done both.  Told lies, and lived lies at various times.

Living as a liar generally comes about from a combination of the types of lies we tell, and how often we tell them.  We can dig some deep holes for ourselves by continuing down the path of not living up to our word.  This also includes broken promises as well, which we've all done.

As a man, our word should matter.  If our word isn't seen as trustworthy, then we aren't trustworthy.  If we aren't considered trustworthy then our status as a men will surely be diminished.  If we don't want to be held accountable for our actions, then we aren't living life as MEN.

The good part here is, we have complete control over crawling back out of the hole we dug with our lies and broken promises.  But it will be a very painful undertaking.  It means coming clean about our intentions, what we've done, who we have wronged, and making amends with those people.  Sometimes the consequences that come with that is that we lose people we love forever because of it.  If we are lucky, we will have people that love us enough to forgive us, and allow us to make amends for our wrongdoings.  But there is no guarantee of that.

We all lie.  And at times, live a lie.  However a man that cares about his personal integrity will eventually wake up to this fact, and do his best to find his way back to living of a life where his word is taken seriously, and the integrity of his word is rarely questioned.  It is indeed what men do.  That is, men don't shy away from being held accountable.  Whatever the consequences may be for the wrongs we have committed, we will stand and face them.

Generally that starts with forgiving yourself first.  Holding onto guilt because of your actions will always prevent you from moving forward past your transgressions.  Most of us believe that we need the forgiveness of others to move on, but we really have to start with the man in the mirror, and not the man other people currently see.  Because some people may never see us the same after we have truly wronged them.  And that is their right.  It's up to us to repent from our personal sins, and find redemption in the fact that paying a penance comes with stitching back up all of the things we have undone.

"A real man wouldn't act in a way that defies what he truly believes in."

All "men" will compromise their beliefs at some point in their life, for one reason or another.  Whether emotionally, physically, or financially driven, it does happen.

I've known people in financial distress that resorted to things outside of their own moral code, because they had kids to feed, and sacrificing part of their moral code so that they could keep a roof over their kids head, and food in their mouth meant THAT part of being a "man" outweighed certain moral issues.

I personally believe that a man provides for his kids, and the people that depend on him.  So in essence, if that is higher up on the list of priorities it's very possible that a "man" man may compromise parts of himself in order to make sure those priorities not be left wanting.

I don't feel I can wrongly judge someone for making moral compromises to make sure their kids are taken care of.  Well, let me rephrase that; it all depends on the moral compromise.  Killing someone for money would fall within my "judgement zone" as calling you a piece of shit.  I have a set of lines in my own moral coding I don't believe anyone can be justified in crossing.  Rape and murder tend to be actions within that code I believe are never justified.  I do not consider killing someone that has hurt or killed your loved ones to be murder by the way.  I call that justice.  But that's a seriously loaded topic and I'm not addressing that right now.

Where that line is drawn largely depends on the individual.  Some people have done porn, others have sold drugs.  The entire premise of my favorite show "Breaking Bad" was that Walt started making and selling meth so that his kids and family would be taken care of after he died from cancer.  Of course, it developed into more than that later, however his intentions initially were to do whatever it took so that his wife and kids were taken care of long after he was gone.

Was he going to prey on the addictions of others in order to do that?  Yes.  In the eyes of some people that would inherently make his actions wrong, dishonest, or faulty.  The means didn't justify the end, some would say.

However lots of people make money preying on the insecurities and addictions of people.  The gambling industry does this legally every single day.  So do companies that make alcohol and tobacco.  As a society we don't frown quite as heavily on these things simply because of our legal system.  Currently, gambling, tobacco, and alcohol is legal.  Meth and prostitution, is not.  Therefore we tend to believe at some level, because society has defined for us what is "right" and "wrong", that one is better than the other.  A closer look behind the scenes at what addictions do to families, regardless of what those addictions are, leads me to believe that's not a lot of difference, or at least can be heavily debated.

Men can and have compromised their own moral code and belief systems for various reasons.  The degree to which it was compromised largely depends on the man and those codes he adheres to, and for what reasons he abandoned them.

Just like lying, there will be ramifications for those compromises.  There always is.  Men will often compromise their beliefs for what they feel is the greater good.  If a man is compromising what he believes in and steps on others in order to further his own well being, I have trouble getting behind that.  It's self serving and is born out of narcissism.  It's the opposite of sacrifice.  Which is generally what men do when they give up part of who they are, so that people they care about need not suffer.  They sacrifice those morals and that code in order to provide.  I feel as though there is too much gray area in this regard to draw rigid lines.

"A real man wouldn't cheat"

"A real man bangs lots of women"

No one can tell me that Ghengis Khan wasn't a real fucking man, and he bedded possibly tens of thousands of women.

Martin Luther King Jr. is a civil rights icon and instrumental in changing American society insofar as helping minorities to be seen and treated as equals and completely change the face of America.

But that didn't keep him from having a voracious sexual appetite.

I could go on and on and on about men of history that conquered nations, ruled, so forth and so on that also plowed many women sideways, however it's not entirely relevant in defining a man in my opinion.

Lots of men have cheated and had affairs.  Lots of men have not.

I personally believe the utter disdain for venturing outside of being with one woman is more heavily scrutinized in American than many other countries where it's understood that men often veer off of the beaten path a time or two, for no other reason than natural physiological wiring.

I am not condoning cheating.  At all.

I'm just saying that just because a male ventures into another woman's pasture means he's less manly.  If anything, I could make the case that he is.

With that said, the degree of a mans sexual conquest, or lack of it, doesn't and cannot define what makes a man.

I don't believe how many women a man has bed makes him more of a man than the one who has bed very few, or is completely faithful to one woman.  I don't feel these qualities are indicative of what truly makes someone more manly.

Monogamy, abstinence, cheating, etc are all sexual choices and can vary wide in their acceptance from society to society.  As American's we often believe that we have cornered the market on socially accepted values.  We often forget that there's a whole big world out there that doesn't always agree with us.  Not only that, but history is filled with men and societies who lived in a variety of ways regarding sexual behavior.  The Spartans are considered the greatest warriors throughout all of history, but those dudes practiced pederasty (allegedly, it's still up for debate), and the women often had more than one lover.  Meaning, the men were often banging several women at a time.  For centuries, polygamy was the norm.

So depending on when you lived, and where you lived/live, there is no way to define "men" via their consenting sexual nature with other people.  Of course, child rapists and rapists in general should be beaten to death in my opinion.

Some may say this contradicts my earlier statement about living a lie, and I can see that.  However this is such a personal and polarizing topic that it gets debated for days on end.  I believe that it falls under a different set of circumstances entirely.  We only survived as a species via procreation, and monogamy tends to go against our natural physiological wiring.  Thus I don't think that a man can be judged more or less manly simply do to his sexual exploits, desires, or lack of those.

Hormones tend to weigh very heavily in regards to this behavior and can dictate a mans sexual nature and behavior almost entirely.  This doesn't mean he's absolved of breaking his word or promises, I just believe sexual actions and nature fall into a different realm than keeping your word in regards to other priorities and promises.  I understand many people won't agree with this, and that's ok.  Not everything in life falls under the rules of black and white in regards to sexual morality.

What I am getting at here, for the most part is, a man shouldn't be defined as the number of sexual notches on his belt.  Nor should he be deemed less manly for a lack of them.  No one ever became more of a man because he banged a bunch of females, or less of a man because he decided to keep it in his pants.

The only area I could touch here, or possibly nail down, would be that a man cares about the sexual satisfaction of his partner, or partners.  I feel like that sentence alone nails down that entire concept.  Be good in the sack.  For the other person, I mean.

Summary - 

  • All men make mistakes.  Men understand this, atone for mistakes made and don't hide from the consequences associated with their actions and mistakes.
  • Men sometimes understand they may have to sacrifice things they believe in, or order for the greater good of people they care about.
  • Men cannot be defined through sexual conquest, lack of, orientation, or sexual betrayal.  It's too broad of a subject to be able to define how a man behaves in regards to it.  Women will hate that.  I'm sorry.  I do feel a man will care about the sexual satisfaction of his partner, and do his best to ensure that is happening.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pressing with PR

Bodyweight - 275

Press behind the neck -


315x5 PR


Hammer Shrugs - 315x50,50
Curls - 4 sets of 10

Notes - Another week, another PR.  315x5 on PBN.  Coulda done 6 I think, however leaving one rep in the tank has been the key in all of this.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

10 simple do's and don'ts of productive training


  1. Eat enough to supply your body with the energy that will be required for the type of training you are engaging in.  Seems simple enough, but so many people try to go into the gym and train very hard, without realizing they haven't adequately supplied their body with enough fuel for training.  
  2. Eat those foods within the proper time frame.  If you are training in 45 minutes, slamming down a large meal will probably result in a poor training session.  In that case, a pop tart or something with more simple sugars is more ideal.  If it will be 2 or 3 hours before you train, a mix of low GI carbs, some fats, and some protein are solid.  
  3. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Even being mildly dehydrated can result in poor training sessions.  I tend to drink more than a gallon a day, however on days I train very hard I try to get in closer to 2 gallons.  Do not count diet drinks, milk, or any other liquids towards that gallon intake.  
  4. Pay close attention to your sleep, or lack of.  Lack of sleep won't significantly impair performance in the gym, however it will impair your recover.  Never walk when you can be still.  Never stand when you can sit.  Never sit when you can lay down.  When you can lay down, try to get some extra z's in.
  5. Perfect your technique.  This will be an on going process, but it's vitally important to learn how to perform the big movements in a way that works optimally with your leverages.  This will also lead to fewer injuries, and downtime.
  6. Stick to a routine or program long enough to give it a fair shake.  If you can't stick a routine or program out for 6 weeks then you have training ADD.  
  7. Have specific goals and a specific time frame in which you want to accomplish them.  That means more than "I want to get stronger."  What does "stronger" mean?  Ask the right questions and you'll get the best answers.
  8. Keep your bodyfat in check.  Training for strength is no excuse for turning into a fucking slob.
  9. Stimulate, don't annihilate.  Walking out of the gym in a heap after every session is flat out not a requirement for getting bigger and stronger.  I always found that my best progress occurred when I left feeling better than when I walked in.  
  10. Have a life.  If you're in the gym every single night, you might want to reevaluate your life as a whole.  The gym should serve as a means to an end.  Time with family, friends, and loved ones should always be paramount, and not take a backseat to you lifting a barbell.  

  1. Eat more junk than quality food.  I mean, for serious.  I see so many guys posting pics of junk that I wonder when they are eating steak, rice, potatoes, eggs, so forth and so on.
  2. Try to mimic someone else's routine with the belief it will get you to where they are.  What an advanced guy is doing now, isn't what he was doing 3,5,8,10+ years ago.  Everyone goes through phases where they need different things to improve.  
  3. Use exceptions as rules.  Just because you know a guy that got big, strong, jacked using some strange method of dieting or training means it will do the same for you.  The majority of us are not special snowflakes.
  4. Train heavy all the time.  I beat this dead horse a lot, I know.  But in the past year I've gotten stronger than ever training sub-max, and not beating the shit out of myself with weights in the 90+% range.  You don't have to train anywhere near as heavy as you may think in order to get bigger and stronger.
  5. Try to get bigger/leaner/stronger at the same time.  Plan accordingly for each phase and pour all of your energy into ONE of those components.  
  6. Compare yourself to what other people can do.  It will only frustrate you.  
  7. Belittle your accomplishments.  Everyone had to start somewhere, and every step forward you take is meaningful.  Be proud of the fruits of your labor.  Then, refocus and continue moving forward towards the next one.
  8. Get discouraged when things don't always go the way you planned.  Training comes with lots of failures and disappointment.  It's a huge part of getting better.  There will be plenty of lows to go along with the highs.  Appreciate them both for the purpose they serve.  And that is to help you get better.
  9. Believe there is some magic routine or diet that will turn you into Superman.  There are no real secrets.  Hard work, time, and patience are the main ingredients in the soup of success.
  10. Worry about the things you cannot change.  It will only drive you crazy.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Training - Squats

Bodyweight - 274

Squats -

405 x 5 sets of 5

Pause Squats -
585x1 PR

Deficit Deads -

Notes - The 585 was stupid easy.  Could have done a triple with it I believe.  Mind you, I'm gone over 500 ONE TIME since Relentless.  My working weights with squats have been between 315 and 405.

Think about that.

Evolution Tucson seminar coming up!

If you haven't registered for the Tucson seminar, then do so today.  I will be covering training methodology, programming, going over movement technique, assistant work, and the parallels between lifting and life.

This is more than just a powerlifting or weight training seminar.

Get registered at the link below!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Evaluations and evolution

The only constant in life, is change.

I think most people have read or heard these words and on the surface, understand the meaning of it.  Life, relationships, work, and the world around us is constantly changing and evolving.  Sometimes these changes are so slow and methodical that we don't always notice them until we've stepped away for a while, and then get a chance reevaluate them.

If you propped up a chair in your front yard and decided you'd watch your grass grow each day, you probably wouldn't really notice anything happening, and the whole thing would be very much like masturbating with a cheese grinder.  That is, fairly amusing but mostly painful.

But take a week off for vacation and then come back to that same yard, and you'll probably quip that you're amazed how fast it grew over such a short period of time.

Indeed, perception can be radically changed just because of circumstance.

One of the worst things about training is how a lack of progress can feel so apparent at times...or so it seems.

We see our body on a daily basis.  Despite our vigilant efforts to get more muscular, leaner, bigger, whatever, it can feel very much like watch that grass grow.  We don't see very much in the way of change going on, but once enough time has passed, proper reflection should reinforce that many changes have occurred.

A week or so ago I injured my pec bench pressing.  It's the first time I've ever REALLY injured my pec to this degree.  I was having a really shitty day of benching....or so I thought.  However upon reflection, I had done 3 sets of 5 with 405 that day, all very fast and all reps paused.  As I've been rehabbing my pec, I realized just how far my bench has come in the last year.

A year ago, a set of 3 at 405 with all reps paused was a VERY good day.  Now, that would be considered a very BAD day.

It's obviously very clear that my bench press has gone up significantly in the past year.  Perhaps somewhere in the range of 50-60 pounds (from 440ish to nearly 500).  I truly owe such a gain to the methods I have created in Base Building.  Long consistent periods of basically increasing bar speed at specific intensities.  And in spite of the fact that I've seen more progress in all of my lifts in the past year than the previous 3-5 years combined, I still get frustrated with where I am at.

This goes against the very things I often write about here on the blog, or on Facebook.  All of us succumb to our greedy humanistic natures at times, despite our best efforts not to.

We tend to ruminate on all of our perceived short comings quite often, blinding us to the positive growth that has taken place or occurred.  After all, it's hard to notice the rose garden in front of us when we can't take our eyes off the pile of dog shit on the sidewalk in front of it.

Or perhaps we do notice them, but then belittle our own accomplishments by adding in the such phrases as "I know this isn't a big deal to some..." or "I know I'm not as strong as some people".

Many of us complain about other peoples slights about our abilities when we really should ignore them.  After all, most of us do a perfectly fine job of tearing ourselves and our accomplishments down.  In spite of the fact that we had to work for them and earn them, we belittle them by injecting just enough self deprecating solution to disallow happiness.

Every step forwards is meaningful.  Despite the length of the stride or how our foot struck the pavement upon landing, the fact is, we still moved forward.  Yet it's incredibly hard for many of us to even take a moment of joy to evaluate what is positive, and what is TRULY negative.

This conundrum seems to span most facets of our life, and not just how we feel about our progress, or lack of it, in the gym.

We belittle our accomplishments at work, in our personal life, and almost every endeavor that we undertake with any amount of passion.  Mainly because, we keep using improper context in order to evaluate the changes that have taken place.

I wanted to do a set of 8 with 405 on bench last week.  Because I had an off day, I "settled" for three sets of five.  I was fairly pissed about it because two weeks earlier I had done a fairly easy set of 6, leaving a rep in the tank.  So in my mind, before I even got to the gym, anything less than 405x8 was going to be a failure.  Nevermind the fact that I had never done 405x8 before.  It was 405x8, or it was going to be a shitty day.

In other words, I was comparing my progress only in the context of what I had done one workout previously, and not in the context that now I was able to do many sets for more reps, than I was capable of just a few months prior.

Getting caught in this mindset of judging progress based on singular context is often the culprit behind why we don't feel we are advancing or getting better fast enough.  We often base the context of progress around single training sessions, then lose sight of the fact that we are well beyond what we were just a few months ago.

We will run into plenty of self defeating circumstances in our life.  Do your best not to add to the quota and instead meditate on the grand scheme of progress and change.  Change will happen anyway.  Understanding the process of it all will keep your demons and angels in check.