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..........


  1. Fun read Paul. Best wishes with whatever shit you're having.

  2. I envy the people who got to work with you. I hope very much to be able to attend one of your seminars.

    Keep your head up, Paul. Looking forward to part 2.

  3. Just found your blog Paul , some really interesting stuff in here.. Keep up man , greetings from Romania !

  4. Paul, one question: What shoes do you use for your Squats and Deadlifts? Oly Shoes or Adidas Samba?

    Keep it up!

  5. He clearly said in the original article that steroids don't make everyone stronger!