Monday, June 30, 2014

Training with a PR

Bodyweight - 264

Hack Squats -

machine x 10, 10
135 x 8,8
225 x 8,8
315 x 8,8

405 x 8,8,8,8
500 x 8,8

Deficit Stiff Legs no belt -

225 x 3
315 x 3
405 x 3
500 x 3
605 x 3 PR

Walking Lunges - 200 total

Notes - Just of note - when I do walking lunges I listen to soft rock. I can't fathom a reason to listen to metal when I'm doing walking lunges. Feels stupid.

Also of note, when I pulled 705 from a deficit with no belt, my best in stiff legs was 550x5 for a couple of sets. Pretty sure I could do that for a set of 10 now.


Acta Non Verba clearance with free shipping in the U.S.

I'm clearing out the "Acta Non Verba" t-shirts!

Free shipping for these to anyone in the US and a huge price cut. I have a limited quantity left and am not going to be carrying these anymore after this so grab one quick.

Use the coupon code 77C774EE6F97CE12 on purchase.


They fit "true to size" since I always get asked that by about 100 people.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mom, please don't lose me

A while back I posted a meme on my Facebook of an old dude, and the caption read "Hey I just met you, and this is crazy.  I have Alzheimer's.....Hey I just met you."

Here, this one....

I laughed.  I thought it was funny.

I also cringed slightly inside because I knew I could very well strike a very sensitive nerve with someone who might have a loved one that is suffering from Alzheimer's.  Sometimes the internet makes us walk that fine line of deciding what we think is funny, and what we think is offensive.  I knew this would be one of those times, but decided to anyway.

Luckily, people laughed and weighed in on the fact that the people they know and love that do suffer from Alzheimer's would probably have thought it was funny too.

My mom was a nurse for a long time and worked in nursing homes and because I know her sense of humor (it's quite off the wall), I knew she would have thought it was funny as well.

As life would have it, I found out on Father's day, that my mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

To be honest, I wasn't shocked at first.  The last year or so when I would call the conversations would often drift into subjects about things that had happened years and years ago as if they had just happened.  I went along with it, and did my best to enjoy the conversation.  But it was strained at times.  And painful.  I had my suspicions that something was wrong, and that Alzheimer's might be the culprit.  However I never said that aloud to anyone.  I don't know that I ever even fully said it to myself.  It was more or less a "could be..." kind of acknowledgement.

I was headed out the door to catch a plane to Tucson when my father told me.  I was upset about it of course, but certainly not in hysterics or a sobbing mess.  I felt sort of numb about knowing.  It's that feeling of suspecting something, but then getting confirmation about it.  You may have had a feeling about it before, but once the truth is given to you in full, your feelings do change.  Knowing always changes things, regardless of suspicions.

As I sat on the plane and all of the distractions of traveling subsided and my mind was allowed to ruminate about it, I did start to cry.  I gave no care in the world who saw that.  My mom is the most special lady that has ever existed in my life.  And I started thinking about my life with her and all the things we shared and had been through together.

I thought about when I was younger, and playing grade school football.  They used to video games with those camera's that held VCR tapes in them, and one day as we were all watching game tape, I could hear my mom yelling in it.  Her voice shrieked over the top of everyone else's, and the shit she was yelling caused me and my teammates to laugh.

"That's right son, put him down.  PUT HIM DOWN!" she would yell as I destroyed some ball carrier.

It was hilarious to me because, my mom is such a warm and considerate person.  My mom loved hugging people and gave the best hugs ever.  Nothing in my life made me feel more comforted than her putting her arms around me and telling me she loved me.  For a tiny little woman, she radiated an enormous amount of love and tenderness.

So it was hilarious for me to hear her shouting such words on video in regards to a football game.

As life moved forward, her attitude and support for me always echoed such sentiments.  She supported me in playing music, and bought every drumset and cymbal I ever needed.  And unlike most parents, my mother never bragged on my abilities to her peers and cohorts.  She always saved her praise for me.  And that made it very special to me, because it was something her and I shared together.  Not something she could share with someone else in order to prop herself up via my achievements.  A lesson I have held with my own kids, as I seldom mention their accomplishments to others or write about them, unless I just can't help myself. But for the most part, I keep those things between me and them, just as she kept them between her and I.

When my best friend was killed and my parents split, I left with her.  And I watched her work 12 hour shifts while finishing nursing school and graduating at the very top of her class, making the "who's who" list of academic excellence.  She not only provided, but excelled and thrived in a time of great stress and struggle in our life.  Her incredible work ethic was something I always held in great admiration about her.  She was a "never quit" kind of lady.  

My mom knew it was just as important to be a "do as I do, and as I say" kind of person.  It's not enough to know all the right things to say, and all of the right ways to walk a path.  It's of utmost importance to actually do all the right things, and walk all the right paths.  Or at the very least, do your god damn very best in that regard.

The summer after my parents split, I pawned my drumset and left for Albany, Oregon.  I spent that time training in martial arts, and started lifting weights.  When I came back and expressed to my mom how much confidence and self esteem that lifting had given me, she asked me "well then we need to find a gym for you then, don't we?"

And until I left home for the military when I was 21, she always paid for my gym memberships, and protein powder, and everything else I needed.

Some people would say "you should have paid for that yourself."  But the thing was, even when I was working and had money, mom WANTED to pay for those things.  Because to her, it meant she was investing in me, and she wanted to be a part of those things in my life.  It was always that way with her.

And I thought about all of those things as I sat on the plane in tears, coming to grips with the fact that, there would be times when all of those things that she had done, and all of the hardships we had supported each other through (which were numerous), might get lost, and be totally forgotten.

And I was scared.

I was scared thinking about how it might feel when I see her, and she responds to seeing me with "who are you?"

Maybe that won't happen.  I don't know.  But it crossed my mind, and it made me feel more helpless than I've ever felt in my life.

And then I thought what if I get lost?  What if she gets to the point where she never knows who I am?  What if it's as if I never existed and all of those things that were a part of me, are no longer a part of her?

What if she forgets about the time that I crawled into that big cabinet in her antique store, pretending I was Dracula getting into his coffin, only to have it toppled over shooting me out of it onto the concrete floor where I split my knee wide open.

What if she forgets about pushing me on that tire swing in her Father's back yard when I was just a little man?

What if she forgets about the time she practically saved my life when I had Rocky Mountain Spotted fever and rushed me to Columbus Air Force base, driving eleventy billion miles an hour in a rickety old car that I'm surprised didn't explode on the way there?

What if she forgets about the time when my dad decided I needed a haircut, and then botched my shit up, only to come home and fix me up so that I didn't look like I had lost a battle with an out of control weed eater?

What if she forgets about all the times when I used to visit her at the nursing home when she was working nights?  That we were so close I'd rather have been there spending my time talking with her, than getting drunk and chasing women.

What if she forgets about the time when I saved up my money to buy her that new pair of nursing shoes because she never put herself first, and would never spend the money to buy a new pair?

What if all of that gets lost somewhere and she can never find those things again?

Because those things aren't just a part of me, or her.  But a part of who we were together.  And if that gets lost, then so do I.  So do we.

And the only phrase that came to my mind, in the most desperate of voices was...."mom, please don't lose me."

10 reasons your bench may be stuck

A lot of guys struggle for a long time on getting their bench to move. And there are a few reasons why the bench can be a slow mover in comparison to the squat and deadlift.

1. The bench is a bit of a "maturity lift". 

Meaning, it can take quite some time to really get the musculature involved in the bench to develop enough to bench bigger weights. The legs and back tend to respond to work quite well, even right out of the gate. However the upperbody can be a bit slower to develop for a lot of guys. So you'll just have to put the work in and be patient.

2. The bench responds really well to weight gain.  

A lot of guys are too afraid to let go of their six pack in order to get their bench to move. If your bench hasn't moved in a really long time, ask yourself when's the last time you gained an appreciable amount of weight. If the weight scale hasn't moved in a while, and your bench hasn't either, then you probably have your answer.

3. Your technique may suck. 

Every seminar I've done more than half the people there don't get the bar moving in the correct path. Usually their wrists are not lined up over their elbows. The bar should be hitting you below the pec line, and your elbows should be creating a line that runs right down to the elbow. Have someone video your bench from the side. If your wrist is higher than your elbow (meaning your wrist is closer to your face in relation to your elbow) then you're essentially trying to do a modified tricep extention to bench press.

4. You're not tight enough on the bench. 

Lots of guys flop down on the bench and then just try to press with no regards to "getting tight". You need to have strong scapular retraction (pulling your shoulder blades back), your legs need to be tucked hard up under you, and your lower back should be arched, and your lats flexed. The body works in synergy. So if you're not creating enough tension throughout the entire body when you bench, then you will press less.

5. You need to bench more. 

A lot of guys follow programs that have them doing 1 or 2 top sets of bench. And the fact is, that's just not enough work to get your bench moving if it's been stuck. After your warm up sets you should be doing somewhere between 4 and 8 sets of bench pressing with your "work weights".

6. You're not doing enough reps. 

If you look at all of the great benchers of the past, they did a LOT of sets in the 5-12 rep range. I see far too many guys doing singles, doubles, and triples too much on the bench, then they wonder why their bench won't move. You need to do a lot of sets AND a lot of reps on the bench to get it moving.

7. You're not accelerating hard enough off the bottom. 

Generally you miss a bench because you didn't create enough force off of the bottom in order to carry the rep through the sticking point. If that's the case, then you need to learn how to press with authority off the bottom, and do a lot of paused reps in order to build that bottom position strength. Doing board presses isn't going to help your lockout if your bottom position is weak and you can't generate enough force to carry the bar through the sticking point.

8. You don't have leg drive. 

 Leg drive can be hard to master, but learning it will add a lot to your benching power. The force from leg drive will carry up through the body and into the bar and help create more force off the chest. A great mental cue is to think about driving your body up the bench with your legs.

9. Your pecs are weak. 

Regardless of what you read on the internet, you PRESS with your pecs, shoulders, and triceps. If your pecs are the weak link then you need to include things like db flyes and lots of db bench and incline press to get the pecs up to par.

10. Your shoulders are weak. 

Up until the last few years, the overhead press had taken a bit of a backseat in most guys routines. Thankfully, it's come back a lots of dudes have realized that it's important to have strong shoulders in order to bench more. If you're not doing overhead work and shoulder specific work, then make sure you figure that into part of your pressing routine.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Another 6 week programming testimonial

These always make me feel pretty awesome about what I do.

6 weeks have past, and the gains I am seeing from programming with Paul Carter are superior when compared to other programs, coaches, and trainers I have had in the past. I have not had a coach for over a year, due to the fact that most of them had me injured before the meet had taken place. 

I spent months on my own trying to see gains in my training, but my gains were coming to a screeching halt. What I was doing on my own, was not working anymore. It was time for me to make a change. I was familiar with Paul's writings and became interested in his outlook on training. I took the first step by purchasing his book BASE BUILDING. Paul's book opened my eyes to another aspect of training that I had not tapped into yet, but I wanted more. 

I contacted Paul and expressed my interest in having him program for me in regards to an upcoming meet. My training has been going better than it ever has since I have been in strength sports, college football, and now powerlifting. Most importantly,, I am remaining injury free! Paul had me set goals for the upcoming meet this year, and after 6 weeks, I feel that these goals may need to be set higher, for the gains I am receiving from Paul's customized program are excellent. There are 8 weeks until my meet, and I have never felt more confident in my training since I chose to have Paul program for me.

Josiah O'Brien-Optimum Personal Training-Owner/Trainer  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Planes, Pains, and Automobiles and other weirdness - Tucson week Part 1

A few months ago Danny Sawaya asked me to come out and do a seminar at his gym, Evolution Tucson.

Danny fell so madly and deeply in love with me that the last day I was there he pitched the idea to me to come out and do a week long workshop and really go over all the facets of Base Building for his powerlifting team.  He also talked about snuggling too, but I was dismissive of his advances.

Nevertheless, I agreed to come back and at least do the Base Building part.  Snuggling was something I would have to mull over, and figure out a rate for.

Unfortunately, do to the week we picked I had to leave on Father's Day.  I also received some news right before I left that was fairly devastating to me, and would impact the rest of my week.  I won't be talking about it now because it's a very personal issue and something I am still dealing with internally.  But let's say I spent the first couple of hours of the plane ride quite the emotional wreck.

Speaking of plane rides, this trip was full of of them.  Or let's say problems with them.  Or travel problems in general.

My initial flight was from Kansas City to Phoenix, and then a layover in Phoenix for a short while before I would get to Tucson.

There was "a strong headwind" that pushed the flight from Phoenix to Tucson back a little bit.  Which at the time, I thought was no big deal.  Didn't matter if I landed 10 minutes late or so.  Right?


When I got to Tucson it was a little later than I had expected to arrive, and due to very little sleep the night before and my emotional state I was flat out exhausted.  I sat down near the baggage claim and waited on my bag to arrive.

And of course, never saw it arrive.

After sitting in a zombie like trace for about 15 minutes I finally strolled over to the baggage claim office and told them I thought my bag had been lost.  They asked me for my baggage stub and scanned it.

"It's here." she tells me.

"Mmmmm." I say.

She goes into the back and doesn't come out for a while.  While standing there waiting on her, I was privy to the conversation between a young lady and another woman working baggage claim and it was quite heated.  Well, the young lady was heated anyway.  Apparently her bags had been lost (duh, I'm in baggage claim) and she was none too happy about it.

I can't quote the conversation verbatim but it was something like this...

"I swear to God, I can't believe you assholes did this again.  Do you know how many times you rotten fuckers have lost my luggage?  Now I'm stranded here with no clothes or anything for I don't know how long until you assholes find my luggage.  I hate you.  I hate you.  I hate you."

The woman behind the counter never lost her composure, and it didn't seem to bother her at all.  She kept her US Airways bearing and discipline and nodded mostly, agreeing that US Airways were indeed rotten fucking assholes for losing this young ladies baggage yet again.

After accepting her fate, the incensed young woman just sort of stood there in silence for a few minutes, then walked out.

I was too tired to converse with the woman behind the counter but I watched her go on about her job like nothing had just happened.  She pulled out a highlighter and made some marks on a piece of paper.  It was probably a standard "Did you encounter an unhappy customer that thinks you're an asshole today?" form, and started marking "X's" on it.

 When the lady looking for my bag returned, she had my bag in tow.

"This is your bag?"

I nod, and say thank you.  Very kindly.  It hit me that as tired and beat as I was, that she may have worked a long day dealing with a lot of very unhappy people in regards to situations she had no control over.  I immediately did not envy their job, and hoped that they made a decent salary in accordance with the kind of verbal tongue lashing they probably get on a daily basis.

I made my way down to the other end of the airport where I was supposed to pick up my rental car.  But the place was empty.  I stood there for a few moments in that same zombie like trace, perhaps wishing that someone would poof magically into the air with a smile draped across their face and say "HELLLLLOOOO Mr. Carter, are you here to pick up your Lambo for the week?"

Of course that didn't happen.  All that happened was that a guy from another rental car agency was nice enough to inform me that Dollar Rental Car closed at midnight, and by my watch it was about 12:30 or so.

"God dammit."

I strolled back through the airport and sat for a minute.  I knew I'd have to call a cab or hope that, like in some porno, some hot chick with big tittays and a great ass would just show up and tell me I looked lonely and ask if I needed a "ride" back to my hotel.  Hur hur hur.  

Instead a police officer approached me and remarked about how tired I looked and if he could help me out with anything.  I told him of my situation and he said I could walk upstairs where the lounge was and help myself to sleep on one of the many couches there.

"Oh no, I'm not putting my head on a place where a thousand strangers have blown ass into the seat cushions."

He laughed.

"Would you like for me to call you a cab then?"

I nodded and told him thanks.

By the time the cab arrived and I got to my hotel it was quite late.  I didn't get into my room and adjusted until well after 2 a.m.  And because of my insomnia and of what I had learned right before I left, I just sort of laid there for a while staring at the ceiling, not able to fall asleep.

Luckily, I didn't have to be at the gym until 11:30 or so, and Danny was kind enough to come pick me up for our workout.

I told Danny when he got there that I needed to grab a few things for the week and asked if he'd run me by the grocery store so I could acquire them.  He was more than happy to do so.  At the grocery I grabbed my usual Powerade for training, and some of the quick microwavable brown rice cups that make dieting easy for me.

When we got to check out, there was an older lady in front of us in line trying to do something with a credit or debit card and she didn't speak English apparently.  Not only did she not speak English, she apparently did not understand any language whatsoever at all because the cashier kept giving her instructions on what to do, and she might as well have been talking to a god damn Velociraptor.

"No you can't use it as a debit."

Velociratptor looks at woman incredulously.

"No you have to punch this button."

 Velociratptor looks at woman confused.

"Try it again."

Velociratptor swipes card and punches button.

"No you can't choose that option, you have to choose this one."

Velociratptor becomes more confused.  Punches buttons randomly.

"Can I get some help over here!"

Danny and I were in enthralled in conversation for quite some time until we fully recognized that Velociraptor woman wasn't getting this thing done anytime soon, and changed aisles.  The guy behind us went ahead and put his chips all in, and stayed in that aisle regardless of the shit show going on in front of him.

We stood in line for a bit longer as normal humans had their groceries checked out before we were able to get our business done and walk out.  On the way out ol boy that was in line behind us yells out "see you fellas in an hour or so!  Yeah!"

Once we finally made it to the gym, we settled on doing some incline press and some assistance work afterwards.

I was very tired and beat up from the travel so I only worked up to a 405 over warm up, and then 4 sets of 6 at 315.  Traveling tends to take a lot out of me and I never have good workouts the days after I travel.

Danny worked up to a crisp 275 then then 4 sets of 6 with 225 afterwards.  We finished with some rope pushdowns and some upright rows using a kettlebell with the pushdown rope ran through the ring.

Afterwards we went to eat, and I avoided all talk of snuggling.

That evening I came back to work with the team and watched them go through their training session of squats and deadlifts.  When they were done I sat down and went over the things I saw that needed to be corrected, and then talked about compensatory acceleration (CAT), rate of perceived exertion (RPE), everyday max (EDM) and probably some other words that have acronyms associated with them in regards to lifting weights.

The lesson for the evening was understanding when to understand upping the weight, staying where you are at intensity wise, and knowing when to test via fatigue singles post volume sequence.

Day 1 was in the books, and I headed back to my room to try and sleep, which of course never happens.

Day 2 - 

 Day 2 I had some private training to do and took a fellow named Dov through a squat and tug session.

Dov had struggles with keeping a neutral spine in both his squats and deadlifts, and we spent some time making sure to correct the problem.  Mainly, he wasn't stabilizing correctly in his core, and not understanding the mental cue to keep his chest out.  Once we got these things in order, his rounding was solved and we proceeding through the training session without issue in that regard.

Danny was kind enough to run my back to Dollar Rental Car so that I could get my ride for the week.  However when we got there, we learned that they were out of cars.


No cars.  Zero.  Not that some would be returning that day, they were just out.  That's like going to McDonald's and they are out of Bic Mac's.  Seriously.  A Rental Car place with no cars.

That evening I went over nutrient timing with the group, and that while it's not going to make them superman overnight, it will indeed make training and recovery easier if done properly.  Covering a diet issue is not normally my thing however since I have instituted Mike Israetel's diet stuff into my program it has made a huge difference in my training, body mass, and strength.  So huge props to Mike for his work in that area, and giving me all the ins and outs of what to cover with the group regarding this topic.

 Day 3 - 

Day 3 Danny and I trained once again, and this time it would be squats and deadlifts.

Danny had come off of one of my mass building programs the last few weeks and had put on a considerable amount of size.  Something to the tune of 10-13 pounds since the last time I was there.  But now he wanted to implement Base Building and understand all the facets of it for his own training and for the team, and use that new mass he had built to up his total.  So squats and deads were a great place to start.

Danny worked up to a very fast 365 I believe, and then did 5 sets of 5 with 295.  Because his sets and reps were so fast, I went ahead and told him to do three more sets, making it 8 sets of 5.  His last three sets weren't grinders at all, but I could see fatigue setting in the last couple of sets, so I knew we were at a good starting point for him.

I did high bar pause squats, and while my legs felt good, my body was still tired so I stayed at 405 for 4 sets of triples, then finished with 455 and 500.

Danny really wanted to take this week to work on his deadlift, which has been the bane of his lifting movements.  We went over implementing better leg drive off the floor, and correcting his lazy hips, i.e. he doesn't get his hips through fast enough at times when the weight gets heavier.

That evening the team benched and did assistance work, and again I went over some issues I saw that needed to be corrected.  Proper bar path, elbow angle, wrist angle, improper setup on the bench, and other things.

Part 2 later this week..........

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hey Bret, you're just a little off here....

I happened across this article from booty guy Bret Contreras this morning, and while interesting and informative, is also just a little bit off in some regards....

First off, I want to say I agree with Bret on a few things.

Namely, I don't think it's cool for anyone to look down on another lifter who is natural if he is enhanced.

Hell, I will take that one step further.  I don't think we as lifters should be looking down on each other at all, thought it does happen at times, and even I have been guilty of this.  But it's a bad habit and all of us need to do a better job of offering up the minimum amount of respect to each other for simply putting in the work, and being brothers in iron.

With that said, I want to go over some things Bret wrote in this piece.....

Anabolic steroids make the average lifter WAY stronger and more muscular. When steroids are added to the mix, it changes the rules.

This is more or less a half truth.  

Some guys respond really well to drugs, and some guys get very little.  All the studies in the world don't back up all the years and years of anecdotal evidence behind what I am saying here.  

Some guys can take a little, and get a lot out of it.  And some guys can take a lot, and get very little.  

Taking anabolics will make you stronger and more muscular, but the degree to which it will varies greatly from person to person.  So my gripe here is using the words "WAY stronger".  

One thing missed in this is that some guys can't take a large enough dose to get "WAY stronger" because they end up with side effects so great that "upping the dose" isn't possible for them.  

Regardless of what guys read on the internet, or what studies read, each individual will respond quite differently to different drugs.  I know guys that flat out cannot take tren because of the side effects they get from it.  And I know guys that can run a gram a week with virtually no side effects at all.  There is no "one size fits all" model here.  

I also know guys that can run tren, and get almost superhuman strong on it, and I've had other guys tell me they got very little from it.  So if you're using the phrase "way stronger" or "more muscular" then I guess we'll play semantic games.  Some guys get "way stronger" from the same compounds that another guy does not get "way stronger" from.  The same rule applies to the "more muscular" quote.  That is a pretty ambiguous term, to say the least.  I've known guys that got "more muscular" from cycles but not to the degree you would expect, given their overall dose.  

So this is a fairly broad stroked phrase.  

Steroids don’t do the work for you, sure they help you recover faster but you still have to put in the work,” and, “Natural lifters love to play the steroid card, but 90% of it is hard work, nutrition, and consistency.”

I have to agree with the guys that said this.  

Regardless of how much a guys drug cycle is doing for him, if his training and diet are not dialed in, then just like a natural trainer, his results are going to be sub-optimal.  Now will those sub-optimal results still be greater than what he would get if he weren't on cycle?  Of course.  But training and diet are still going to be the corner stone of efficient and optimal results.  

In other words, both the drug user and natural guy can't take advantage of their "environment", i.e. a highly advanced anabolic state/natural genetics unless he makes training and diet the most important parts of his program.  Otherwise they both end up with the short end of the stick.  Again, this doesn't mean the drug users short end isn't longer than it would be if he were natural, but the drug user is doing himself a massive disservice if he isn't programming and eating in the most efficient manner as possible.  

In my experience, many steroid-users grossly underestimate the role that steroids play in their strength development. I’d have a lot more respect for the lifter who admitted that without steroids, he’d be pretty ordinary in terms of strength and physique.

That completely depends on when the guy started using anabolics, and what he accomplished naturally.  Ronnie Coleman became an IFBB pro completely natural, I do believe.  Now he didn't start winning Mr. O titles until he found the "holy grail" however there are LOTS of guys out there that have built impressive strength and physiques without playing the drug card.  I myself managed to work my way up to 250 pounds without being a total fat ass before I ever took a single thing, and was accused on being "on" quite often.  

I could name off about two dozen guys that are incredibly impressive as natural strength athletes.  So I feel that your broad stroke here is again unwarranted.  SOME guys might be unimpressive completely natural, but this doesn't apply to everyone.  Genetic ability ranges greatly from world class sprinters and powerlifters to dudes that can't get off the couch without tripping over their Xbox controller while covered in Cheesy Puffs crumbs.  

Many steroid-using powerlifters don’t have a good grip on what transfers best for the natural lifter, and they don’t optimally understand program design for the natural lifter. Why? Because many of them have never controlled variables. Fluctuating drug cycles confound training/nutrition cycles. Because when the going got tough, many of them simply took more steroids. Many figure out quickly that taking another gram of testosterone or adding in trenbolone transferred very well to strength and got them through their training ruts. Because it came too easy for many of them. Most never spent 8 months hammering the bench press, only to gain a meager 10 lbs of strength. Many never took the time to learn the effects of different protocols. When they were stagnating, many simply took more juice.

Eh, this is misinformed at best.

I know of at least one guy that literally got worse, or at least he didn't get any better, over a 4 year span despite virtually doubling his dose in that time.  

It's not as simple as "taking more drugs" for every guy out there.  Yes, that works for some guys, and doesn't work for others.  There will always be a point of diminishing returns when it comes to "doses".  

Not only that, I know lots of guys that use and work their asses off for very little in the way of returns.  I know guys that spent a year working the shit out of their bench or squat to add that extra 10-15 pounds on it.  There comes a point when even with drugs, you start to reach your genetic ceiling and no amount of drugs can push you past it without an incredible amount of hard work.  In that regard, the user is no different than the natural trainer.  When both of them get close to the ceiling of what their environment is allowing, then it's going to take a metric fuckton of hard work to inch upwards even in the smallest of increments.  

As a consequence, I’ve found that many training programs written by steroid users are too harsh for natural lifters; some of these programs contain excessive volume which the average natural lifter could not recover from.

I used to believe this too.  However what I've really figured out is, that it's not the recovery factor that comes into play.  It's that the drug user tends to see results faster than the natural dude.  I've never had to adjust for a guy being on or not.  Some may find that hard to believe, but it's true.  And I've never had a client that didn't see extraordinary results.  In fact, I've had some guys that were on drugs, that actually needed MORE recovery time than guys that were natural.  It came back to things like age, and injury history as being the reasons why.  So once again, there are too many factors here at play than JUST drugs in that regard.

In your last segment you go into the drug cycles as listed by Ryan Kennelly, and basically paint the picture that Ryan's drug cycle was the primary reason for his enormous strength.

And that's where a lot of guys using get sort of irritated.

There are LOTS of guys using similar stacks to what Ryan listed, and will never ever be as strong as him, or anywhere close.  And that's where the argument of "steroids don't do the work" come into play.  All the drugs in the world won't turn anyone into a 700 raw bencher if mom and dad didn't give them all the things they needed in order to achieve that.  

I know you understand this, but the article more or less paints a picture of a guy that simply took more drugs to get where he was, and as I've stated before my guess is Ryan would out bench most everyone else by a wide margin if drugs never existed.  In other words, even if you took all of the drugs away MOST of the same guys would probably still be at the top.  Sure, it would cancel out some guys, but the NFL isn't filled with awesome athletes because of drugs.  It's filled with awesome athletes because of genetics and personal interest in a sport by the individual.

I don't think strength sports would be much different.  If you removed all the drugs, genetics and personal interest in strength sports would still probably produce the same world record holders that you see now because they were "made" to be world record holders.  

Steroids are powerful, and without a doubt will make some better than what they would be if they didn't take them, however they won't turn you into a world beater if all of the other variables don't co-exist along with them.  

In closing, I do agree that there's no reason for a guy that is using to look down on a guy that is natural, and there's no reason for the natural guy to scream out that the drug user is only where he is because of some injections and orals.  Every guy is going to decide what path he takes on his strength journey and be responsible for the choices he makes.  As lifters we should simply respect each guys person choice one way or the other, and no look down on someone for using or not using.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

"I'm all out of love, I can't live without you...."

Poor blog, totally neglected this week as I've been in Tucson, Arizona training a team of powerlifters at Evolution Tucson on the Base Building method.

I will be doing a full write up in the next few days of my adventures here banging strippers and doing lines of coke off of their tits.

Ok so I really just sat by the pool a lot and went out to eat but strippers and lines of coke grab the attention a lot better than what I really did.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Your coach cannot fix you

Online coaching and consultations are a pretty big business in the fitness and training industry now.

And for good reason.  It gives people a chance to work with the coach of their choice regardless of geographical proximity.  Before online coaching became a real business people were at the mercy of finding a local trainer and could only hope and pray that he or she legitimately knew their shit.  

Now, people in search of an online coach can get a wider view of the credentials of said coach, who they have worked with, and what they have done.  This gives the consumer the ability to make a far more educated choice than just showing up to the gym and picking someone out at the front desk like a bag of popcorn at the movies.

"No no no, the big one there.  Yeah, the big one.  I like em big like that."  

The drawback to this is that if the coach is well known, and has a history of success then the client automatically assumes that success will be bestowed upon them.  Why shouldn't they?  They picked that coach for that very reason.  The history of success that gets posted up on social media or read about in magazines or heard through the fitness grapevine.  

The problem is, regardless of the reputation every coach has a list of failures too.  People that followed their program, had less than ideal results, or possibly even got worse.  

And that's the issue with expectations.  People assume that because the coach has a history of success that it means they will automatically be successful under the guidance of said coach.

It absolutely does not.  

A great example of this is college football.  Nick Saban will probably go down as one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.  And every year whatever program he's associated with puts lots of guys in the NFL.  And that's a huge HUGE draw for high school recruits because they most likely believe that a scholarship to Alabama means they will be looking at the NFL draft in about four years.  But the fact is, far more guys from his teams don't get drafted, and never play in the NFL than those that do.  In all reality, the disparity is pretty large if you were to break down the numbers.  

Basically 2% of all college football players go pro.  That's through all three division of college football too.  

That's a pretty shitty "winning" percentage don't you think?  

Yet it doesn't quell the notion that if you go play for a big time program that has a big time coach, that you're going to get a shot at going pro.  Does it increase your chances?  Sure.  But the fact is, the player has to be the one to show up and shine.  The coach can't "make" him do that.  He can only coach the player to the best of his abilities.    

And that's exactly how it is with online coaching or personal training too.  

The fact is, if a guy has a great reputation in his circles and has a high winning percentage, then you're probably good to go.  But the fact is, simply hiring that coach doesn't promise you any amount of success.  YOU as the client still have to show up, and you still have to shine.

And a lot of people don't get this.  

I knew a guy that used a well known diet guru that lost virtually no fat on his program.  Well, let's rephrase that...he had the program, he just didn't follow it.  

These things always boggle my mind.  If you pay a coach money to help you, then why aren't you following his or her explicit instructions?  

Even worse is when I hear people talk about how they worked with someone and made no progress when I know that coach, and know that more than likely the reason for their lack of success was their own inability to do what the coach told them.  

I can tell you that it drives me nuts when I have clients that don't do exactly what I prescribe for them.  And then challenge the program afterwards because of their lack of success.  It is fucking maddening.  

The fact is, if you're not willing to do exactly what your coach tells you to do, then he or she cannot "fix you".  They can't address what you hired them to remedy because YOU aren't helping yourself by adhering to their advice.

It all comes back to that old adage of "you can't help those who won't help themselves".  A whole team of coaches cannot motivate an individual that doesn't want to embrace change.  The most perfect diet and training plan from the wisest and most seasoned of trainers/coaches won't do shit without application by the trainee.  

All of these things seem obvious but the fact is, every coach deals with trainees they cannot fix.  There are lots of people who don't fully understand the process of work and unpleasantness that comes with changing their body.  It's never going to be easy, and it's not your coaches job to make it easy.  It's your job to put the work and effort in behind the plans they give you.  If you don't, can't, or won't, then the onus is on you.  Not them.  When you decide to "jump ship" and modify the program so that it's "fits me better" then you're no longer under the coach's guidance.

Your under the guidance of the same person that got you in this god awful shitty mess in the first place.  So where do you think that person is going to take you? 

And your coach can't fix that.    

Monday, June 16, 2014

Amazing testimonial

I get a lot of testimonials each week. They are all truly special to me, and I mean that. It's amazing to know that you wrote something regarding training or life or anything that made a difference in someone's life in some way.

However some are more meaningful than others. And that is the case with this one.

For reasons only a few people close to me know, this testimonial brought me to tears. In the future, as I write about it, you will understand why.

I want to thank Heather for sending this to me, and to let her know publicly how much this really meant to me.


I have been lifting for almost a year at this point, with a very dedicated but old-school trainer who believes in heavy triples, doubles, singles and trying to go for a PR every week. This worked for a little while, but I’m no spring chicken. I’m a 41 y.o. female. I started having shoulder pain, hip pain, and a very tired back. Progress stalled after a few months of this, and I started to get frustrated when my numbers weren’t moving, and I wasn’t even having fun. Doing accessory work with new friends at the gym was fun, but training the “big three”…well I was starting to dread it. I liked my 4th day at the gym when I was by myself and could work on whatever I wanted. I knew something had to change, and as I read Base Building, everything made sense. I didn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t be) going for PR’s week in and week out. I was frying my body and my mind.

I started following your base building models a couple months ago and everything started to move again. Some slowly, but some quickly. I was feeling stronger and happy to be in the gym again. My recent victory was a 305 deadlift on June 7 at a push-pull meet. It was a grinder but I never stopped pulling. I almost backed out of the meet that morning because I just wasn’t feeling it. My mom passed away on May 30, and I was only doing the meet to have something positive to focus on. When I wanted to stop, I realized that I was wearing my LRB shirt and I thought about you at Relentless with a torn quad. I knew that I wasn’t a quitter and to suck it up and lift. I ended up winning my class and getting best female lifter. (attached is a picture with a damn goofy face once I finally locked it out.) I gave it everything I could and was so pleased after the lift that I went to text my mom about it. (she’d been in the hospital so much that I was texting pictures and numbers after every meet or gym PR so we could share. She lived out of state, about 2 ½ hours away.)

I’d like to thank you for the advice, information, and frank opinions that you share. I enjoy your writing immensely, and hope that I can someday see you lift in person.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tanks and tees on sale

I sold out of "Smash Weights...Hurt Feelings" tanks in the most popular sizes quickly.  So since because you guys are awesome, I'm running a sale on the "Smash" t-shirts.

Go to the LRB store and use the coupon code below for the ladies "Smash" tanks, and the men's "Smash" tees.

Use Coupon Code IJTZ9PY7P14NB

Charles Poliquin knows about smashing weights and hurting feelings

Thursday, June 12, 2014

E-Books all on sale and an endorsement from Charles Poliquin

Base Building, Strength Life Legacy, and 365 are ALL on sale.

But even bigger than that, is that I made the very small list of books that Charles Poliquin recommends on strength training.

It's hard to explain how surreal it feels to make that list.  I have looked up to Charles for such a long time and thought of him as a major authority on strength and muscular development.

It's truly humbling and an honor to make his list of three best books on strength development.  I can't say thank you to Charles enough for this.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Muscle myths, lies, and fallacies - Part 2

In part 1 of this we covered some common shit you hear from both uneducated people and semi-educated people in regards to falsehoods about weight training.

Since there's enough of this shit to fill the New York City sewers, we shall continue........

1.  You have to do cardio to get lean

I think this is a half truth.  It all depends on how lean you want to get.  If you want to get that "summer body" where you don't look like 10 pounds of shit stuffed into a 5 pound bag, you probably don't.  If you're trying to get into bodybuilding contest shape, more than likely you'll have to do some cardio.

So it all depends on the context of that quote.

Cardio is actually a very inefficient way to get into a calorie deficit.  For example, the 160 pound woman who spends an hour on the treadmill at 4MPH will burn about 338 calories.  If she had been eating pretty shitty then simply making a change in diet would be far more efficient than that hour on the treadmill.

For example, one slice of stuffed crust pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut clocks in at around 380 calories.  How long does it take you to eat that slice?  Well, I guess it depends on how big of a gluttonous son of a bitch you are.  But if you're like me, it takes about 2.9384 seconds.  Compare that to an hour on the treadmill and we can see where efficiency is at.

So if your definition of "lean" is good enough to be in a bathing suit or swim trunks, then fixing your diet will suffice.  In fact, fixing your diet alone will get you into single digits.  But if you're trying to get into stage shape SOME cardio will be required.  Either way, most people aren't going to douse salad dressing all over themselves and flex onstage.  So we can bust this myth that cardio is needed to get "lean".

2.  You can't build muscle with machines

I don't know of a single bodybuilder that hasn't used machines in their training.  To add, I know tons of powerlifters and strongmen that have used machines to bring up weak musculature as well.  Ed Coan and Jouka Ahola both enjoyed some leg presses, and Jouka even liked doing his front squats on the smith machine.  He was sorta strong and jacked.

Used properly, machines have their place in every lifters arsenal.  No different than free weights, they have to be used properly.

One question you should be asking yourself about each movement you do is, "am I moving weight through space, or training the muscle."

Bodybuilders called this "isolating the muscle."  And while you can't truly isolate a muscle group because the body works in synergy, you can emphasize certain muscular areas depending on the movement chosen, and how you perform it.

For example, when you perform a squat, you're not trying to isolate the quadriceps.  You're moving the weight from point A to point B.  When you perform a leg extension however, you should be more concerned about the eccentric (negative, or lowering part of the movement) and the concentric (positive, or raising part of the movement) portions of the rep.  A slow negative, and then a hard contraction of the quads in the positive are far more important than trying to move the entire weight stack in a way that looks like you're having a monkey seizure.

Machines do take the stabilizing muscles out of the movement for sure.  The machine balances the weight for you, and thus fewer muscle groups are brought into play.  This can be good or bad, depending on what you are using the machine for.  If you're using it to emphasize a particular area, then it's a great tool.  This can be used for rehabilitation, prehab, and to increase muscle mass in certain areas.  If you don't think you can't build mass with machine, pick a bicep machine and go ape shit with it on volume while contracting very hard against the resistance multiple times a week, and see if your biceps don't grow.  They will.

Machines can play a great role in your training program if you understand how to implement them, and why you're doing so.

3.  Getting a pump doesn't increase muscle mass / You must get a pump

I've heard both sides of this.  Arnold loved the pump.  Other guys have said and offered up "evidence" that the pump has no correlation to muscle growth.

My own personal opinion is that there probably IS something to the pump related to growth in some way, shape, or form.

First off, getting a great pump is generally associated with having sufficient glycogen stores, being well hydrated, and that the body is in a proper state for optimal training.  Yes, that's total broscience but I can tell when I walk into the gym and feel "full" and get a pump very quickly, that I generally lift better, and feel better.  When I feel "flat" I also often feel lethargic and don't lift quite as well.

All of that is purely anecdotal, but I'm going with it.

In this state we generally are able to train longer and harder, and lift heavier weights much easier.

Second, we've seen from studies, and from about 60 years of anecdotal proof, that training in a higher rep range is indeed a more efficient way to stimulate hypertrophy.  And more often than not, higher reps are equated with a pump.

Now you can flop down and knock out 50 push ups and get a pump, but that doesn't mean muscle growth has been stimulated.  But if you did 5 sets of 50 (if you're capable of that), the pump is probably going to be much more intense, and if this challenged you from a muscular standpoint, it's possible that growth could occur over a period of time, no different than training with weights.

Plenty of people mocked my 100 rep barbell curls.  But it added a significant amount of size to my biceps in a short period of time, and I was able to maintain that size afterwards by just doing some maintenance work.  And Derek Poundstone does them and he's not exactly hurting on the strength and mass side of things either.

I'm not going to get into the whole "sarcoplasmic" vs "myofibrillar" hypertrophy bullshit.  I'm just not.

What I am going to say is this.  I think the pump is a good indicator of the state your body is in for training.  So whether or not the pump is directly related to muscle growth isn't as relevant to me.  What it does speak to me is that I've probably eaten well, hydrated well, and and in a good position to stimulate growth and put together a productive training session.  Is this the case 100% of the time?  No.  However I've paid lots more attention to it because when I've taken carbs out of my diet, I've noticed a huge drop off in training ability.  When I add them back in, of course, training productivity increases.

So while no one can definitely say the pump is or is not related to muscle growth, we can use it as an indicator of being in a position to better stimulate strength and muscle growth.  That's my opinion.

Let me close on this one by also adding this.  I have often found that if a certain movement produces a huge pump in a particular bodypart, then I often tend to grow very quickly when using that movement.  Just something to think about.

4.  You gotta eat tons of protein to gain muscle, bro

Ok, I'm not going to even link all of the studies I sat and read through this morning on the amount of protein needed to gain muscle.  You know why?  Because I found the same thing over and over and over and over and over again.

I'm going to cut right to the chase.

Even if you're training your nuts off 4-5 times a week, 1 GRAM OF PROTEIN PER POUND OF BODYWEIGHT IS ENOUGH.  If you're dieting REALLY hard, it may need to be slightly higher, but not much.  In fact, over and over again it was found that 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight was found to be sufficient for people involved in intense training.

I know this, in the past I've eaten upwards of 400 grams of protein a day, and saw virtually no different in strength and muscle growth.

Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  Anyone telling you that force feeding yourself tons of protein is the missing link in your training problem, is missing a link.  

Managing your body composition really comes back to adjusting your carbohydrate and fat intake once the protein is dialed in.  And the fact is, it doesn't take a TON of protein to do that.  Yes, between 0.8 and 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.  That's it.  After that, simply massage your carbs and fats to meet your training goals and needs.

5.  You must workout everyday to look like that / You have to workout everyday

This is often one of the first questions I get asked when approached by strangers.

"You workout all the time, don't you?"

I think they think I'm lying when I tell them "generally 3 times a week.  Sometimes just twice, depending on how I feel."

If you're a sedentary individual, meaning you just grind your ass groove into the couch every evening after work and do little else, doing something in the gym two to three times a week is better than what you've been doing.

If you're a novice lifter, and you're really after the big gains, I always recommend to get into the gym very often.  Five or six times a week.  That's because noobs aren't very strong, and they can recover very quickly from workouts because there's not a lot of demands imposed on recovery.

As a lifter becomes more advanced and strength levels rise, recovery becomes a bigger factor.  So the guy squatting 650 for reps more often than not, needs more time between training sessions than the guy squatting 250 for reps.  This should seem obvious.

If you want a more immediate version of this scenario, put a novice guy beside an advanced guy doing curls.  The novice guy may curl a 65 pound barbell for 10 reps as a max.  Meaning, he couldn't do 11.

The advanced guy might do 165 for 10 reps.  In a minute or so the novice guy is fine, and ready to go again.  But the advanced guy may need more time before he's ready to do another set.  Lifting heavier and heavier loads also means more recovery.  Both on a set to set basis, day to day basis, and week to week basis.

So a very jacked and advanced guy might not to be able to get into the gym 5 or 6 days a week and be adequately recovered.  Not only that, but advanced guys are more efficient in their movements, and can often get more from less.  Where the rank beginner is still developing the technical skills just to be able to perform the movements properly.  

All of these things are very individualistic, but more often than not a very advanced and hard training guy can usually get it done with 3-4 times a week in the gym.  If an advanced guy is in the gym 6, 8, 10, 12 times a week I'm not sure what the fuck he's doing.  Does he have a wrist curl day?  An anterior tibialis day?  I'm not sure what's going on there when I read that from someone who has been under the bar for a long time.

I'm getting sideways here, so back to the topic.  

Fact is, if your diet is dialed in, almost anyone can make major changes in their body and continue to do so by training 3-4 times a week.  For the people that are in the gym everyday, I personally think that either they just really enjoy training more than most, or don't have a life outside of that atmosphere.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Training - Fronts and Deficit Stiffs

Bodyweight - 265

Front Squats -
135 x 10,10,10
225 x 5,5

315 x 8 sets of 5, 90 seconds between sets

Deficit Stiff Legs -

225 x 5
315 x 5
405 x 3
500 x 3
585 x 4 PR

Notes - Still after 585 x 5 on deficit stiff legs, but I'll take the PR today.  Absolutely wasn't taking "no" for answer in regards to getting that 4th rep.

Couple of awesome testimonials

It never gets old getting these.

hey Paul, I ran your strong 15 peaking cycle and it really was a great success. I'm 18 years young, and I had my second meet yesterday at the WNPF New Jersey States championship in the 181 raw weight class. I had a 105 lb squat meet pr from 320 to 425! Granted I put on a belt for this meet. Also, my bench went from 280 to 300 (very easy), and then a 415 deadlift to 500 lbs. My total last year was 1015, and this year went all the way up to 1225. Every lift was way higher than what I programmed in to strong 15. Your program really gave me the confidence I needed. Irrelevant to the competition, but on one of the AMAP's on strong 15, I ended up benching 240x8 to my total surprise, a great pr. I definitely peaked in the best way for this meet. Thanks a lot for your seemingly infinite amounts of knowledge, keep writing and keep lifting, running and banging.  -- Anthony DeSousa


I ran strong 15 into my meet i had this weekend and went 9/9 and had only had 2 hours of sleep and went 9/9 Squat(65lbPR)

Bench(55lbPR) Deadlift(100lbPR) Total(215lbPR) 4 PRS and has ALOT left in the tank for every lift. I even wore your shirt to support LRB. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend with Super D - Donnie Thompson

Got to spend the day with Super D. As he mentioned, we went and trained at Gold's and of course, we get to witness the shit you only hear about in mockery.

Three guys with legs that looked like they had battled and barely won a fight with Polio were doing leg presses. With virtually every plate in the gym.

They were each spotting each other, and Donnie and I watched in amazement as each one of them lowered the weight about the length of a mosquitoes penis.

Unfortunately, because they were spotting each other, one of the turds got buried on the second rep and the other two polio victims managed, somehow, to get it off of him.

I told Donnie "I bet you money not a single one of them could do a single rep with 405 on squats, to depth."

Luckily for us, they squatted next. And proceeded to squat higher than an Eagle's nuts with 275 and 315 for a few reps.

It's the kind of thing you hear about but don't often see. Strange that I've been at that gym for sometime now and haven't seen such shenanigans. Then Donnie comes with me and that shit is going on.

Oh well. We had a great session and Donnie was thrilled to be able to use some of the old "Flex" equipment.

It was awesome to be able to spend the day with Super D and now he owes me the favor back at his pad.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Staying phresh

One of the biggest factors in putting together a string of successful training sessions is the ability to feel good for each one.

I know, stop the fucking presses.  I hope your house didn't get blown off the map from the energy surge created by that nuclear knowledge bomb right there.

But seriously, this is a very underrated concept.  And most people don't understand how much until they change their training around in a way so that they aren't beat to shit all the time.

Think about this, if your elbows are aching your pressing ability is going to be very sub-par.  If your knees hurt, your squatting is going to be shit.

If there is pain associated with a movement, then the body is going to automatically limit what it will allow you to lift.  Pain is a governor by the body that let's you know that you either fucked something up, or that something is fucked up.  Ignoring that signal isn't a good idea.  It could mean that there is an overuse problem, that your technique is off, that you have a muscular imbalance somewhere or that some shit is about to go.

On the flip side, when everything feels good and there are no aches and pains, lifting tends to go marvelously.  You press well, you squat well, you deadlift well, you do everything well.  Workouts are solid, and progress is made.  The longer you can stay in this zone, the more progress will be forthcoming.

The issue is, most guys don't find this "zone" very often. It's fleeting and they think about how important it is to use this as a guideline for how to adjust their training.

Lots of dudes just want to train heavy every session, go balls to the wall with reckless abandon, and have no foresight as to the ramifications these sessions will have on the next session, or the training phase they are in.

By happenstance, I noticed this "phresh" phenomenon as I was developing Base Building.  I would go in, hit the planned programming for the day, do the assistance work I had planned, and leave feeling really good.  The next session I would walk in feeling good, have a great session, walk out feeling the same way.  I would occasionally test my EDM every few weeks or months AFTER my work sets (the development of "fatigue singles") and would be happily surprised that they moved with an incredible amount of ease.

After I released Base Building within a few months I started getting tons of messages and e-mails describing the same thing.  Guys loved the fact that weren't beat to shit all the time, were able to get stronger, not have to take time off because they were drained, and saw progress on a very regular basis.  So my own perception about these things were being backed up on a regular basis from people writing in to me.

I took that a step further and started taking an extra rest day rather than being a slave to the routine on a piece of paper.  And sure enough, more PR's started coming.  So if I had a day where I did feel a bit achy, I just didn't train.  I know some guys push through that, and yes, there is a time and a place for that.  But I opted instead to really listen to my body.  If I needed the extra rest, I took it and didn't feel guilty about it.  At 39 with most of my lifts at all time highs, I felt like the rest was warranted.

Some of the things I instituted to stay "phresh" and feeling good were the following....

  • I only pushed a heavier single as a fatigue single, and rarely did it exceed my "everyday max", or EDM.  I let my body tell me when it was there, rather than trying to chase a number that may not have been on the map that day.  
  • I rotated through "like" movements rather than sticking to the same ones workout after workout.  This was key in avoiding overuse with the volume I was using.  So I rotated squats, front squats, and hack squats.  I rotated bench, incline press, and press behind the neck.  I rotated deadlifts and deficit stiff legged deadlifts, and didn't pull heavy very often.  I personally believe that heavy deadlifts tend to take more than they give back.  When I stopped chasing the numbers, they eventually came right to me.
  • I focused on bar speed instead of weight on the bar as the indicator that my strength had increased.  So the indicator I used for feedback changed, and it worked marvelously.  No longer did I have to "get up" for a weight when I may have felt like shit that day.  I simply stuck to the programming and judged my bar speed for where I was.  Yes, this is more ambiguous than weight on the bar, but if you know your body well enough, you will know when you're moving a weight with authority compared to the previous sessions.  Obviously this is nothing more than RPE (rate of perceived exertion).  
  • As noted, I took days off when I did feel tired or run down.  Because my sleep is hit or miss and my training always sucks when I'm in sleep debt, this paid off well for me.  I have found over and over again that trying to push through a hard session on little sleep doesn't work for me.
  • I upped most of my assistance movements to even higher reps.  As Wendler once wrote, "don't major in the minors."  I got a pump and called it a day.  No one cares about how much you max on tricep pushdowns or side laterals.  Use them accordingly.  
Basically all of this comes back to really listening to what your body is trying to tell you, not trying to push the envelope when the body isn't ready to (again, chasing vs letting the PR come to you), and doing some "bodybuilding." with your support work.  

If you can find that balance in there of training heavy enough to spur on progress without beating yourself to shit, you will find that area to be very rewarding and result producing.  


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Training - Squats and stiffies

Bodyweight - 264

High Bar Squats -

bar x 10,10
315 x 5 sets of 5
405 x 4 sets of 5

Pause Squats -
500 x 3,3,3

Deficit Stiff Legs -

225 x 5
315 x 5
405 x 5
500 x 5
545 x 2 sets of 5

Notes - Haven't put up a training post in a while because as weight has been dropping my strength has really been all over the place.  Squats felt like shit today, but stiffies felt ok.  The last time I did 2 sets of 545 x 5 I was about 280 so I felt this was solid.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Muscle myths, lies, and fallacies

There's nothing worse than being an educated meathead and having to listen to all of the myths and fallacies associated with weight training.  There's nothing worse than listening to vacuous ramblings of people who have never picked up a weight, or have even halfheartedly educated themselves in regards to the benefits of weight training, and proper eating.

I suppose it shouldn't irritate me, but it often still does.

After all, if I were sitting in a room with an architect or surgeon I wouldn't belabor points about how certain structures weren't built properly, or go on and on about some article I read in Esquire (not sure why I would be reading that in the first place) that explained how silicone breast implants were unsafe.  I'd defer to his knowledge and allow myself to be educated.

Yet most meatheads that build enough muscle to be noticed by peers or family members generally are submitted to this onslaught of superior nonsense.

But this isn't just relegated to non-lifters.  I have read and partaken in numerous discussions in regards to lifting, and some of the things people cling to boggles my mind.

The next time you get any of these types of question or have to entertain these myths or fallacies, simply point them to this article and let them read for themselves.......

1.  All that muscle will turn to fat when you quit lifting.

This is like saying "when that apple rots it will turn into an orange."

Muscle and fat are two different types of tissue.  One cannot "turn into another."  I believe this comment is based around people that used to lift often, and eat a lot, then quit lifting, but don't change their eating habits.

Was built like Dorian Yates before he decided to quit liftin...

So now ol boy that was training 4-5 times a week and eating like a hoss, stops training, but doesn't stop eating like a hoss.  Muscle atrophies, and fat piles on.  To the common onlooker, it APPEARS that the muscle turned to fat.  When all that really happened is, fat turned to more fat, and the muscle that was underneath it shrunk.

2.  Lifting weights will make you muscle bound.

I believe this started in the 50's and 60's when football teams were on the fence about instituting weight training as part of their program.

I have no idea why people thought this other than the fact that when guys get overly muscular how they walk or their posture changes.  We've all seen the guy with imaginary lat syndrome or the guy with legs so big it appears he spent the previous day riding a horse bareback.

The fact is, lifting weights for the sedentary person actually makes them more flexible if the movement is carried through a full range of motion.  And there isn't a single professional sports team that doesn't have their athletes lift weights.

As far as lifting making you muscle bound, I can do deficit stiff legged deadlifts from a 4 inch block, and have no difficulties reaching the bar.  I can put my hands flat on the floor with my legs completely straight and I never do any static stretching.  In fact, I firmly believe that stretching is fairly overrated.  Not that it's useless, just that becoming "mobile" can be done if the appropriate movements are selected in training.  My own personal opinion is that most strength athletes need to be a bit "tight".  I can't see in any way, shape, or form that being hyper-flexible would benefit a strength athlete.  In fact, there are probably a great number of drawbacks to being hyper-flexible.  

3.  What exercises should I do if I want to get rid of the fat around this area right here, and tone it up?

Believe it or not, I still get these questions.

This is the myth of "spot reduction."  That means, someone thinks they can do an exercise for a certain area of their body, and that it will reduce fat in that spot.

Guys ask what they can do to reduce stomach fat, and women usually ask what movement they can do to get rid of those "saddle bags" on the side of their hips.

Thigh master or not, Suzanne Summers is still hawt

The movement you need to be doing, is less of that "fork to mouth" action.  In other words, "you need to eat less, i.e. diet."  There is no movement/exercise you can do that will reduce bodyfat in a certain area.  Everyone carries bodyfat differently, and the only way to reduce it, is to have a calorie deficit.  The reason a lot of people believe in spot reduction is because of those silly ass infomercials that tell you that you can "sculpt your thighs" and other such nonsense with their cute little toy.

Everyone has "abs".  It's just that some people's abs are hidden under a big layer of fat.

Your "saddle bags" don't go away by doing a certain exercise.  You may build muscle under that fat, and thus the shape of your leg changes, but the fat will still be there.

As the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen.

4.  I'm following the South Beach Paleo Ketogenic Slim-Fast diet.  Are you aware of it?

Yes I'm aware of it, and I'm also aware that because you're following a fad diet and not making a lifestyle change.  So you'll lose weight, then after the diet is "over" you will resume your old eating habits, and then get fat again.

Don't think so?  I wrote about this last week here.

Dieting is an ugly word for most people.  So the key is to understand what your daily eating habits need to look like in order for you to lose weight, and keep weight off.  Because of my last article about food addiction, I feel like for most people, that's going to be quite the uphill battle.  However it's infinitely harder if you're using a fad diet to lose weight.  Because a fad diet isn't a long term solution to your lifelong problem.

5.  You can't get strong doing all those reps.  If you want to lift strong, you gotta lift heavy weights.

If you want to develop strength maximally, yes, at some point you'll need to lift heavy weights.  However strength can certainly be developed through rep sets.  5's and 8's were the bread and butter for elite powerlifters for decades in regards to building their strength base.

Lifting light weights, like pink dumbbells and shit, won't get you strong, no.  But you can get brutally strong lifting 70-85% of your 1 rep max for lots of reps and lots of sets.

6.  I don't want to get bulky.  I just want to tone.

This is usually uttered by women, but I've heard guys say this shit too.

Do you know what "tone" is?  Muscle hypertrophy.  That means, growing or increasing the size of a muscle.  For women, this is what changes the shape of their body.  Makes their ass round and legs TOIGHT.

Women have told me "I don't want to lift weights like a man."  What does this even mean?  You mean you don't want to train hard, or actually put some weight on the bar?  Listen, you're in the gym to build muscle.  If you want a floppy bologna ass then by all means, take up running and never do any weight training.  Become the proverbial cardio bunny that ends up with a skinny-fat body.  Muscle is what gives your body SHAPE.  When you avoid getting stronger, then you avoid changing the shape of your body.

That "tone" you are looking for, comes from squats, presses, chin ups, rows, and other compound movements.

If you want to look like a sexual goddess then yes, "train like a man."

There are lots of women that are "bulky" that don't lift weights, because they spend all their spare time lifting tacos and cheesecakes.

As for guys that say this crap, I don't know how to respond.  If you want to look like Jeff Seid, that's your prerogative.  I just don't know how to do that because I always wanted to looked jacked and manly.  If you can put a t-shirt on and no one can tell that you lift weights, and that's what you want, then that is your right.  I just choose another path.  And it involves a significant amount of muscle and strength.

7.  How much do you bench?

Whatever it is, I know you benched that for reps when you were in highschool.  That or your uncles old roommate had a cousin that knew a guy that was in prison with a guy that was related to a guy that used to work at Jiffy Lube that benched 900 for 10.

8.  What kinda protein you on, dawg?

I get asked this in various forms, but generally what they are asking is what kind of protein powder they can take to look like me.

I always tell them to eat food, and they look at me like I asked them to visit my uncle in prison for conjugal visits.

This is because for decades now the supplement industry has told us that to get really big or really lean we MUST have this protein powder in order to accomplish that.

I'm not saying protein powder doesn't serve as a useful tool, but if your eating isn't in order then it's not going to do a whole lot.  It's no different than taking a multi-vitamin and expecting that to completely cover your daily needs when your diet isn't.

Diet first, supplements are supplements.  Go look up what the word "supplement" means.

9.  I want to turn all this fat into muscle.

This is the flip side of the "all that muscle will turn to fat."

This is almost always a dude that is fairly chub, or even quite fat, and believes that his 300 pounds of slop can somehow be magically transformed into 300 pounds of sex.

I have heard this from women too however.  It's just phrased differently.

"Well I weigh the same but my trainer said I lost 10 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle."

I'm glad you enjoy the bullshit sammiches your trainer serves you.  I'm glad you eat that up so readily and with a full heart and open mouth.

Fat can be lost at an exponentially faster rate than muscle can be gained.  Losing 10 pounds of fat might only take 6 weeks.  Gaining 10 pounds of lean mass, depending on the experience level of the lifter, can take a year or five.

Outside of a sheer novice, you're not going to gain muscle and lose fat.  Not at any significant degree.  Generally speaking, when you're dieting to lose fat, the best you can hope for is to retain the muscle you built.  More than likely, depending on the length and severity of the diet, you will lose some.

10.  You need to do certain exercises to shape the muscle.

You can overdevelop a muscle, or it can be underdeveloped.

You cannot however, change the shape of a muscle.  The shape of your muscles were determined as soon as dad bust loose inside of mom, and you beat the rest of the swimmers out.

This is a myth that goes way way back.  Larry Scott played a huge part in this in my opinion because he did the shit out of some preacher curls, and basically credited that movement to giving him those full biceps.

Short biceps or not, Franco was jacked

Well Franco Columbu could have done those "Scott curls" until the cows came home, and he was never going to have long, full biceps like Larry Scott.  Yet this didn't stop bodybuilders, even as recent as the 80's and 90's from basing their routines around doing a myriad of movements in order to "shape the muscle".

What eventually gives the appearance of a new shape, as I noted, is over developing certain muscles.  So you can sort of present the illusion that the shape has changed, but it really hasn't.

You can't make muscles longer, nor can you "etch" a new shape out of them.  You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit.

You just keep training and build on what you were born with.