Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Three reasons why we fail at our goals to achieve a “better body” - Gillian Ward

 We have all heard that when it comes to training, getting fit, making changes to your health, your body, or other goals, the hardest part is often getting started.  We have all been in a position in our lives when we felt a need for change, an improvement.  It’s a natural human emotion.  Every year, millions make New Year’s resolutions in hopes of being “better” in the year to come.

I have found that the hardest part when setting out on a new goal is not starting out, it’s finishing.  It’s following through and seeing the new goal to completion.  This happens for three reasons, poor choice of goals, lack of guidance, and a poor understanding on how to properly achieve the new goal.

1.  Poor goal setting -

The first reason, the poor choice of goals, is the hardest to learn.  We often make goals on a whim.  We are all part of a society that is visually oriented.  We are inundated with magazines that show impossibly beautiful people and promises of how, “In just 30 days!”, we too can have abs of steel.

A friend of mine once said, “if a person’s body looks like they have been uncomfortable for a period of time to achieve that body, they probably have been.”  There are no 30 day tricks, secrets, or other holy grails that will give us the body that we see so proudly displayed on the covers of the magazines.  If it were that simple, we would all have “abs of steel”, “sleek thighs”, and “bodacious booties”.  These photos are in a controlled environment with lighting effects, makeup, and fail to represent the true appearance of the model.

The reality of the matter is that training for a “look” or attempting to “attack a body part” is often wrought with frustration and malcontent as we seek the body of another versus a better version of ourselves.  Disappointment sets in, and we quit.  In order for a goal to have the potential to be achieved it must be measurable, tangible and in accordance with the effort that you are willing to put forth.  A goal is more than a wish.

A goal requires concerted effort over duration with a plan of attack. To yield the most reward it should be lofty yet possible.  For a goal to be possible it must be achievable with our own god given raw materials. Simply put, genetics are a huge factor and must be considered when choosing personal aesthetic and performance goals.

2.  Lack of proper guidance - 

The second reason, “lack of guidance,” is equally hard to manage.  Open Google and type in “workout routine” and we are immediately crushed with millions of hits on how to properly work out.  These programs are often taken from routines that someone famous once said they did, or once said they endorsed.

Our natural response is that if “Jennifer Anniston changed her body in just 10 minutes a day, I can too!” But again, this is simply not the case.  Training for a better you does not require a doctorate in kinesiology - however a properly executed routine will take into consideration your goals, lifestyle, time constraints, injuries, health concerns, familiarity with training, equipment available, as well as many other factors.   With proper guidance we will set out on a path that is sustainable, will change as our abilities change, and grow with us as we continue our journey toward our ever-changing goals.  It is most helpful when guidance works hand in hand with accountability.  Following a well-planned results oriented program works even better when there is someone to answer to and check in with frequently. You will have questions and reach sticking points along the way.  A little nudge from the right person whether it is an experienced trainer or coach or even a helpful family member may be what you need to stay on track when the going gets tough.

3.  Incorrect methods - 

The third reason, a lack of understanding of how to properly achieve a new goal is multifaceted in its complexity.  While this may seem as though it relies heavily on the second reason we fail to reach our goals, a “lack of guidance”, it actually has more to do with the goal we chose itself.  I stated earlier that our society is a visually oriented one.  As a result of this our goals are often visually oriented.  This is a perfectly natural leap.   After all, we go to the gym, we bust our humps, we should be able to “see” a difference, right?

While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, our methods to achieve our goals are wrong.   Using our “razor abs” example, our new gym goer will head to the gym and do 100’s of crunches, side bends, and other “core” exercises in an attempt to get his abs to “pop”.  Our new gym goer will stop eating ALL sugar, resort to extreme measures regarding diet.  After three weeks we no longer see our new gym goer.  The abs are no more prominent, the new gym goer with a goal of “razor abs” binged on cake and ice cream and is discouraged.

As we like to say at Crystal Coast Strength and Conditioning, “form follows function.”  What we mean by that is that our bodies are a reflection of our capabilities.  To take this to an extreme, Arnold Schwarzenegger had the body he had because he was strong and capable.  It was certainly assisted with diet, however he did not win Mr Olympia seven times by doing crunches, side bends, and skipping ice cream.

Instead of setting a goal for “razor abs”, set a goal to achieve a physical feat.  That feat can be to run a mile, or 5 miles.  It may be to deadlift 100lbs, or bench 225lbs.  The goal may be to be able to climb a rope, or do a chin up.  The goal may be as simple as skipping rope for 100 skips without missing.  The process of achieving that goal will force our body to change as it adapts to the new stress.  The associated adaptation will result in a physical change that we can see with our eyes, and hopefully an appreciation for the hard work accomplished.   The pursuit of a physical trait is difficult to measure, track, and often impossible to achieve given the methods we find in the magazines at the supermarket.  In reality, those routines are “finishing” routines.  Routines used by the already fit and strong to achieve a small change for picture to be taken in a controlled setting in a studio.

Seek personal improvement through measurable performance markers vice appearance and be a better, happier you.

Follow Gillian on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/GillianMounsey
Crystal Coast Strength and Conditioning - http://www.crystalcoaststrength.com/

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Finishers -

No, this has nothing to do with porn.

A finisher is usually something you do at the end of a training session that involves a lot of reps or work over a short period of time.  I'm going to list some finishers I've used over the years.

Pecs - 100+ rep drop sets on pec-deck - Back in my teens we used to do this one after all of our pressing work.  We'd shoot for 10-12 reps on the first set, then drop the pin on the stack to something lighter and shoot for 20-30 reps on the second set.  Once again we'd drop the weight and shoot for something like 50-60 reps on the last set.  We'd try to get 100+ reps over the three "sets" but sometimes it would require a 3rd strip set.

Press Behind the neck - 65 pounds - 6 sets of 12 reps with 60 seconds between sets - Doesn't sound like shit does it?  Try it.  After all of the previous shoulder work this would be hard as fuck.

Giant set side laterals - 20-15-10 reps - then 10-15-25 reps.  Grab a light pair of db's and do 25 reps.  Then a heavier pair and do 15, then a heavier pair and do 10.  Rest 3 minutes and then repeat the whole sequence using the same db's.  But this time, 10-15-25.

Leg Press - 25-50-75-100 - This I only did a few times because it was fucking awful.  You need a couple of people to train with to do it correctly IMO.  Do a set of 25, then have the other people strip off a few plates.  Do 50, and repeat.  Do 75 and repeat.  Then do 100 to finish.  It was fucking brutally awful and I would be sore for a week after.

Walking lunges for 15 minutes - You better be in pretty good condition for this one.  Yeah, you'll have to stop a lot and don't worry about counting reps.  Just do as many as you can for the entire 15 minutes.

100 rep donkey calf raises - You don't need some dudes riding on your back for these, and I promise you won't want that anyway.  Again.  Just get the reps in.  Let me give a word of advice here.  Don't do this right out of the gate if you haven't been doing calf work.  Go for 40 the first time or so.  I will tell you why.  My calves got so sore from these the first time I did them that I couldn't straight my legs the next few days after.  I literally walked with a cane.  If you think I'm kidding, be stupid like I was and do it.  See what happens.

100 rep plate raises - Grab a 25 pound plate and do 100 reps non stop.  Pretty simple.  Right?

Bench Dips to failure with rest/pause - Dips between benches, do as many as you can, then take a break for 30 seconds, and go again.  Repeat one more time for as many as you can.

T-bar rows - crazy 8's - 8 sets of 8 reps non-stop.  You will need to use smaller plates here.  Do a set of 8, strip off some weight, do 8, then keep repeating until a total of 8 "sets" are done.

Conclusion - 

Most finishers involve some sort of intensity technique like giant, strip, or rest/pause sets.  These are all ways to extend the set past just going to failure.  I am not a fan of forced reps for many reasons.  I that for most guys form breaks down too much during those, and because the amount of assistance given from the spotter can vary greatly.

Some of these, like the side laterals or 100 rep plate raises, can be done on a weekly basis with no problem.  Things done for legs and back shouldn't be done quite as often.  But you'll figure that out once you try them.

Follow LRB on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/LiftRunBang
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Client etiquette

There are lots of articles out there on what to look for in a coach.  However few people talk about the things you should do as a great client.

If you plan on hiring a coach, whether that be online or in person please consider the following - 

Make a choice to trust that coach - It isn't the coach's responsibility to earn your trust.  When you make a decision to pay someone to train you or write you a diet, that action alone should say you trust in them.  You don't hire a coach, then tell them "you need to earn my trust."  Bullshit.  

If anything, as a client, you need to earn your coach's trust that you are going to do what they tell you to do.  It is up to you to do your due diligence before you hire them so you can make a choice to trust them.  

Do what they tell you to do...to the letter - This is a terribly annoying part of having clients.  Whether on a diet or training, some clients have a bad habit of thinking they "know better", and change certain things.  Well, if you knew better why did you need a coach?  For accountability?  Then remember that when you're not following your diet or training to the letter.  A coach really isn't there to hold you accountable.  It's your responsibility as an adult to hold YOURSELF accountable.  You spent the money.  You're the one that believes for some reason you need a coach.  So be responsible with your time and money and hold yourself accountable for what your coach tells you to do.

Remember this too.  If you do everything that the coach tells you to do, then at the end of it all, your lack of progress or feeling of being unsatisfied is on them.  But if you don't do everything to the letter, then you have no one to blame but yourself.  Your coach can give you every right answer, but if you don't listen it won't matter.  Do what they tell you.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Be respectful of your coach's time - This means if you have a scheduled appointment....show up.  If you can't, be courteous enough to call to let him or her know you can't make it.  There is nothing worse than booking someone for time, and them not show up, and not let you know.  It's incredibly rude and irresponsible on your part, and shows a lack of maturity.  

Don't whine - Yes, we know it hurts and is hard and all that shit.  When I did training in person there was nothing I hated more than whining.  Suck it up, buttercup.  If getting in better shape or looking great was easy then anyone could do it, but guess what?  Its hard work.  Understand that going in, and embrace the discomfort.  

Don't expect miracles - A coach should be good enough to take you where you want to go, but it may take longer than you want.  If you're 300 pounds and you want a "beach body" its not going to happen in 3 months.  Lots of people hire trainers because they think he or she can make miracles happen.  I don't know of a Jesus trainer, and you don't either.  So ask your trainer what they believe is a realistic time frame for you to accomplish your goals in.  It may be longer than you expect, and well, it usually is.  If you hire a coach because you need to grab that last 5% that has been evading you, then they may be what you need.  If you need a complete overhaul, then plan on a long road.  You don't undo 10 years of bad eating and living in 10 weeks.  

Don't rely on your trainer for shit they aren't qualified for - Unfortunately lots of client and trainer relationships turn into things they really aren't supposed to be.  Your trainer shouldn't be your marriage counselor.  There are people with qualifications for that.  Go to them.  If your trainer isn't a qualified physical therapist then don't expect them to solve major injury problems.  You can ask your trainer to work hand in hand with your PT, but remember, research what your trainer is qualified for, and rely on them for their expertise in those areas.  Not in areas they don't have professional experience or education in.  

Be honest and keep communication lines open - If you are unsatisfied, express that early.  Don't let tension build then fire the coach because you felt they weren't giving you what you paid for.  That again IS ON YOU.  A coach can't make changes to better meet your needs if you aren't satisfied with progress.  There are far too many passive aggressive people in this world that won't or can't express themselves properly.  If you don't like a movement, or don't like certain foods or whatever, just express that early and work with the coach on it.  Most of this should have been handled in the early stages, but things do change as training and diets continue and evolve.  Make sure you are honest about things you like and don't like so that the coach can work with you on that.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mr. Olympia weekend recap

When I was young and still quite the novice in lifting, I lived and breathed bodybuilding.

I bought every magazine that hit the stand each month and devoured every bit of information I could from each one.  Back in those days I really idolized the guys that trained hard, heavy, and were in possession of that "look of power" that came from that kind of training.  Guys like Dorian Yates, Mike Francois, Achim Albrecht, and Nasser.

It was always a dream of mine during those days to attend the Mr. Olympia and be able to watch in person the guys I looked up to so much.

Over time, my interest in bodybuilding faded a bit.  I became more interested in just training for strength, honing my technique in the big three, and becoming more educated in powerlifting.

The last year or so, my interest in bodybuilding returned and I've paid more attention to the sport and a lot of the guys competing in it.  As chance would have it, when I went to the strength expo in Iowa my booth there was right next to IFBB pro Fred Smalls.  Fred and I ended up hitting it off and I decided that it would be very cool to actually make one of my teenage dreams come to fruition.  So I booked a trip to Vegas to attend the Olympia.

Fortunately I had a good connection and got VIP passes into the expo (thanks, Al).  I ran into so many people that knew me, and that I had talked to online, but hadn't had the chance of meeting yet.  John Meadows, Matt Kroc, Trevor Kashey, Susan Salazar, Garret Griffin, Scott Cartwright, Kalle Beck, Al McDonagh, and too many others to list.  I also saw my usual group of thugs like Justin Graalfs, Marshall Johnson, and many others.

The Olympia itself was amazing.  Because it was the 50th year, they had a bunch of former Olympia champions come onstage to talk about what it meant to win the Mr. Olympia, and what Joe Weider meant to bodybuilding.  Arnold was there, as was Franco, Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, Samir Bannout, Lee Haney, and a few others I can't fucking remember.

I came to support Freddie, and while he didn't take top 10 like he had hoped, he easily had the best routine of the night and it totally brought the house down.  I know with another 7 pounds of lean mass or so, Freddie should crack into the top 10.  I will be working with him this offseason to try and make that happen.

Unfortunately outside of my last night there the trip was mostly uneventful.  I didn't do any lines of blow off of a strippers boob job, or end up wrecked in a gutter somewhere.

Ok so the last night there was pretty epic, and I'm not being vague about it for any other reason than the people I was with literally told me not to say shit about it.  So I will leave it at that.  Sorry.

I fully plan on attending again next year where I am pretty sure that Gillian will be competing and that Freddie will have had a strong enough offseason to break into that top 10 like he wants to.

To all of those that introduced themselves to me, thanks so much for doing so and it was my honor to meet you.  Hope to see you all there next year!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

5 components every training method should include - From Strength Sensei


With a myriad of training methodologies out there, the decision to settle on one can be more confusing than trying to figure out how they came up with combining skiing and target shooting as an Olympic sport.

Nevertheless, at some point you either did or will have to undertake the cumbersome process of narrowing down a sound methodology to base your training around.  That, or you'll just wing it and hope that something good happens.  But hope is not a strategy for success, so let's say for the sake of argument that you do need to find a training methodology.

What are the components that make up a sound methodology in regards to strength training?

1.  A plan for progression - 

The end goal for strength athletes is more weight on the bar.  Its that simple.  A sound training method should set you up for cycles based around the manipulation of volume, intensity, super-compensation, and fatigue management (recovery).

This could mean some form of periodization, or progression (single, double, etc) based around the parameters in training, i.e. adding reps over X number of weeks, adding weight and reps over X number of weeks, etc.

Without a plan for progression the lifter is left to essentially "wing it" week in and week out.  Some people do enjoy this, however I've always felt that it's best to have some sort of plan or map for your training cycles in order to gauge progress.  If you are a fan of winging it and prefer an RPE (rate of perceived exertion) type of plan then you still have to plan on turning your 9 RPE sets into 7 RPE sets.  Without a plan, you're just a vessel sailing adrift in the ocean.

2.  Creates strength and muscular balance - 

This is the antithesis of a "bro routine", where you bench and curl 3 days a week, and have leg day once a month and do some quarter range of motion leg presses.

Whether you're a powerlifter, strongman, bodybuilder, or crossfitter it behooves you to shore up weak links in your musculature to avoid both injury and stagnation.  If a method has you doing 100 reps of total work in your pushing movements over a week, then at minimum you should be doing 100 reps of pulling movements to balance that out.  Lower body work should be getting as much or possibly more attention than upperbody work.

The squat, deadlift, and bench press will get you pretty far all by themselves, but often times the cause for a stagnation in a lift is in fact a secondary or tertiary mover in one of those lifts is too weak to continue progressing.  Weak rotator cuffs will often hold back a stagnant bench press.  Weak rhomboids can be the cause with locking out a deadlift.

It's hard to determine exactly where a lifter may be weak without observing their performance in other movements that place greater emphasis in certain musculature.

For example, someone may be a great squatter but actually have weak quads in comparison to their adductors, glutes, and hips.  They may not know it until they try to perform a movement like hack squats, which puts more direct emphasis on the quads, and see how weak they are.

A training methodology, especially for advanced lifters, should be well rounded enough to take these kinds of things into consideration and have a place in the training plan for making sure balance is accounted for.

3.  A plan for stagnation or lack of progress - 

Whether it be a built in deload, teaching you when to deload, or simply outlining what the macrocycle will be to account for different priorities, accounting for fatigue management and stagnation is a must.  You can't train in a highly intensive manner for months and months on end without a break, or a change in training stimulus (see this article for more on accumulating fatigue http://www.strengthsensei.com/fatigue-management-and-the-adaptive-process/).  Eventually you will plateau because of fatigue debt, or a lack of new stimulus introduction.

As outlined in the article above, after 4-6 weeks the body does a fine job of adapting to whatever training stress you have been applying to it.  At that point stimulus lessens, and fatigue builds.  A sound training methodology will account for these periods and allow for or suggest a change in training stimulus.

Also, there should be times when priorities are changed.  A strength athlete who has maxed out leverages at a certain bodyweight will need to concentrate on simply getting bigger for a while.  The bodybuilder who can't seem to get any bigger will benefit from focusing on strength for a while, so that when he or she resumes hypertrophy work, they will be able to move more weight for more repetitions.  That means new growth.

4.  Emphasis on big compound movements - 

This should go without saying but, I still have to say it.  Any sound training method will have the base built around performing lots of barbell and dumbbell work.  Unless the trainee is injured and cannot perform those movements because of restrictions, the core of work should be done with barbells and dumbbells.  This doesn't mean that some machines or gadgets don't have a place in a training methodology, but if the bulk of the routine is based around those kinds of things then results will be less optimal than if it is based around free weights.

Remember, the body works in synergy, and developing the stabilizing muscles can only happen if you are required to balance the weight.  Machines and cables balance the weight for you, thus taking a lot of the smaller stabilizing muscles out of play.

The bulk of any good strength or mass training routine shoulder be things like squats, front squats, barbell presses of various kinds, barbell, and dumbbell rowing.

5.  Your buy in - 

If I had a dollar for every time I've written this, I'd have at least $147 dollars.  I can't emphasize it enough.  Even if a training method meets all of the components listed above, you still have to buy in to the method.  That means, it has to resonate with you, and make you feel like it is something you can stick with, and progress intelligently on.  A big reason why even unbalanced training methods can work for some people is simply because its what they want to do, and are excited about it.  This is a huge part of finding success in training.

If you hate a training plan, no matter how logical and sound it is your own person effort applied to it will be sub-par.

Find am overall sound training method that resonates with you as an athlete, bodybuilder, or lifter and then results will be phenomenal.

Conclusion - 

I could probably list off 50 things that a good training method will implement or account for, however sticking with these five is a great place to start.  Too many ideas all at once will only create confusion.  Look for a training method that includes these components so that your bases are covered, and progress is consistent.

Want to know more about Paul Carter’s methodology? Get his excellent book Base Building over at Amazon.com or visit his Facebook Page

Monday, September 15, 2014

Stress control

It's inevitable that so long as you're still breathing and actually living life, that stress is going to be a part of it.  There's a saying that goes "life's a bitch, and then you die."

I don't buy that entirely, as life isn't ALWAYS a bitch but it has some bitchassness moments.

Stress is unavoidable sometimes.  And for those who still adhere to a great diet, and exercise, and say their prayers and take their vitamins, the results of stress can eventually be fatal.

Stress indeed, can kill you.

Yeah there's the people that get trapped under vending machines, get eaten by apex predators, get killed in car wrecks, get machete hacked in third world countries, get set on fire, kill themselves (wait, that's probably stress related), get bitten in the femoral artery by beavers and bleed out in minutes, get bitten by snakes, get ran over by various machinery, have pool tables fall on them from five stories up, drown in their own vomit, get shot to death, get beheaded by ISIS, are eaten by piranha's, burst into flames from spontaneous combustion,  die from dehydration....and starvation, get blown up in their meth lab, are bludgeoned to death, get stomped to death by elephants, do that thing where they try to masturbate while hanging themselves and fuck it all up, etc.

Anyway, lots of ways to die obviously.

But for most of us, stress can indeed play a large part in how we go.

Stress and how we react to it, and create it - 

We all know that one person who doesn't seem to get bent out of shape or stressed out about much of anything.

We also know that person who seems to stress over every single minute thing in their life.  That OCD maniac who can't handle you folding up a road map improperly.

Some people let things slide right off of them and have no trouble letting go rather easily.  Others have more trouble with doing so.

Most of this seems to be genetic.  Some people are more naturally laid back, and other people are uncontrollable maniacs.

The mayo clinic tells us this is what happens when we get stressed the fuck out....


Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.
For the most part, how we react to stress is is driven both from a genetic standpoint, and from an association and experience standpoint.  Stress is also self induced at times based on how we decide to handle a situation.

We can't help the genetic part.  Some of us are going to stress a bit more or less over situations than others.  However the degree to which we decide to stress is entirely up to us.

I used to get very irritable when I had to wait in long lines, or when traffic sucked, or when I felt like I was being terribly inconvenienced by "life".  This kind of stress, is self induced.

Over the last many months I have tried to make a more conscious effort to not let those things irritate me, and ruin my day.

For example....

The other day I was driving through a strip mall and the traffic was incredibly congested.  A new Ikea store had opened near by and people were parking all over to get to it.  This guy in a van was trying to get out of the parking lot and ends up pulling out way too far on the road instead of just waiting for an opening in traffic.  I hold my hands up like "what are you doing?" and he proceeds to flip me off.

Every part of me, in that split moment, wanted to slam on my brakes and get out of the car and put the fear of God in that guy.  And I've done that before.  After all, he disrespected me right?

Nah, not really.  He doesn't know me.  I could only be as disrespected by getting flipped off as I wanted to allow.  He didn't spit in my face, or insult my kids.  He flipped me off.  You know, common traffic sign language for "you suck" or "I don't agree with you right now."

I took a deep breath and told myself "its not worth ruining part of your day over."  Maybe that guy had a really shitty day, and maybe he's been stuck there for a long time and hasn't developed the reasoning I'm talking about here.  To just say "hey, it's traffic, I'll get out at some point."  So instead of making my day worse, and his day worse, I let it slide.  Did it take some work?  Yes.  But in a few minutes I was fine and didn't give a shit.

I made a conscious choice not to create a stressful situation in my life simply by "letting go".  He flipped me off.  Big fucking deal.

Most of us don't realize that we create the greatest amount of stress in our own life.  We decide to be stressed.  We make a choice to.

I once heard a guy say that "90% of the things we worry about never come to fruition."

I'm not sure where he got that statistical information from, but if you really stop and think about it for a moment, it at least "feels" true.

Most of the things we fret about in life don't come to pass.  Yet many of us still sit around and take up valuable time in our life worrying over if it will.

A friend of mine once sent me a flow chart for understanding when to worry.  I still look at it now and then, and it makes me laugh and keep things in perspective.

This flowchart is very logical.  But it does require us to consciously exercise our own ability to let things go.  No different than ol boy flipping me off in traffic.

"Do you have a problem?"

"Well this guy just flipped me off!"

"Is that REALLY a problem?"


"Then don't let it stress you out."

Many of the "problems" or "stresses" we have in our life, we simply create.

The consequences of stress - 

From this article, "stress kills the mind one day at a time"

participants who reported the most negative reactions to stress 10 years earlier were those with the highest incidence of depression and anxiety. In particular, participants who experienced more “bleed over” stress from day to day (in other words, stress from one day continued to fuel negative reactions on subsequent days) were most likely to suffer from depression and anxiety 10 years later.
For my Captain Obvious quote of the day, stress adds up over time, and can destroy your joy and happiness.  And eventually, your life.

The article essentially repeats what I wrote about above.

Aside from reinforcing an intuitive understanding that our reactions to stressful situations can make all the difference, this study makes a strong case for “letting go” of negativity. Everyone is going to experience negative feelings in response to tough situations at work, home or anywhere else, but letting those feelings linger day after day has long-term consequences for our minds.

How personal stress can effect our training - 

Training itself, is a type of stress.  And requires systemic and localized recovery to....errrr, recover from.

If you think of stress as one big factor, then personal stress will indeed impact training in many ways.

From webmd.........

Physical symptoms of stress include:
Low energy
Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
Aches, pains, and tense muscles
Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
Frequent colds and infections
Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
Clenched jaw and grinding teeth

None of these things sound beneficial to optimizing training.  I do know that some people have told me they train better when life is in the shitter, because the gym is an outlet for them, and being pissed off helps.  I'm not one of them.  I tend to train best when life is going best.  And I tend to have shitty training shitty when life seems shitty.  

Regardless of that, remember to limit external gym stress by consciously acknowledging whether or not you should make a choice to let something stress you out.  The lower the stress factor in your personal life, the more "recovery" time you have to grow, and get better in the gym.

Stress association and emotional trauma - 

For those who have suffered traumatic experiences, it can require a lot more than simply making a choice to "let it go."

For those that have experienced terrible childhood trauma or have been in war, it can be far more difficult than making a mental note to "let it go."

According to the department of Veteran's affairs, an average of 22 vets take their own life each day.  That's over 2000 a year.


We deal with the things we can process in our life, and the parts we can't, get fragmented off because we don't know how.  Those are the pieces that have to be addressed for those suffering from serious  emotional trauma.  If they don't, then generally unhealthy coping mechanisms are formed.  And that's the manifestation of stress, and the inability to deal with said stress.  Things such as drug addiction, alcoholism, and other habits are commonly formed by those suffering from emotional trauma that is left untreated.

For those suffering from severe emotional trauma, professional help is needed.  And will generally be needed for the rest of their life.  It also behooves that person to surround themselves with a strong support system.  That may mean opening up to close friends and family, or finding a good support group to attend meetings with.  If you are suffering from this kind of stress, don't ignore it.  The longer it goes left untreated, the worse the manifestations will become.

For veterans, I urge them to take this seriously.  My father suffered from PTSD from Vietnam and his suffering from it caused great suffering to those around him as well.

If you are a vet, and are struggling check out this link.  If you know a vet that is struggling, or you think needs help, please direct them to this information.......


1-800-273-8255 - press 1

In the end... - 

In the end, we all end up in the same place.  How we choose to live our life is for the most part, entirely up to us.  No, we can't choose our parents, and we don't often get to control certain environments.  And life often presents us with situations that we didn't ask for, or were entirely out of our hands.  However, we do get to decide how we are going to react to those situations, and how much we decide we are going to let it effect us, and stress us.

Life is indeed a bitch sometimes.  There's no getting around that.  We do get to decide however, the extent we are going to bitch about it, and act like a bitch about it.  That's entirely up to us.  Or we can say getting flipped off by a dude in a minivan really isn't a big deal in the grand scheme in life, and simple be on our way.

Its your choice.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Smash weights....hurt feelings close out sale

Doing a close out sale on the "Smash Weights...Hurt Feelings" tanks and tees.  Go grab one!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Worthless" movements

I asked a question on the LRB facebook page what everyone thought a "dumb" exercise was.

I gave my response to some of the ones listed.  Here it is.......

First off, I think a movement is only "worthless" based on a few things.

1. If you don't know WHY you're doing it. Doing it because "I saw some jacked/strong dude doing it" is not a reason.

That's really it. So that's not a "few" that's one.

Any movement can be useful, IF you know why you are doing it, i.e. have a specific reason. In other words, to rehab something, bring up a weak bodypart, or to help another movement. That's what all movements really do.

Now this doesn't mean that every movement is "good". There can be movements that would help you more than the one you are doing, even if you know why you are doing it.

So here is my opinion on some of the answers given.

1. Smith machine squats - Bodybuilders have used these for years to bring up weak quads. Dorian Yates stuck with barbell squats for years, and found they never did anything for his quad development. John Meadows also likes smith machine squats for the same reason. If you get your feet out in front of you, you can actually use this movement to really target the quads very effectively. Remember guys, not everyone in the gym is trying to become a youtube champion on squats, deadlifts, and benches. There's a whole other group of people out there that lift weights that compete in you know....bodybuilding.

2. Tricep kickbacks - If you have wrecked elbows you can use these pain free. The drawback with them, as I've mentioned before, is that there is only tension in the very last part of the movement. Nevertheless, if you have great bad elbows, these can at least be an option for tricep work.

3. Throwing punches in the cable crossover machine - Yes, pretty stupid. Punching power actually comes from the torque in your hips. Not from your arms.

4. Weighted side bends holding weight on both sides - Uh yeah, pretty stupid. The whole point is to strengthen the obliques. When you hold weight in both hands, one hand is counteracting the weight in the other hand. So basically, you're not really doing anything.

5. Decline bench - It's just a press. Incline, decline, flat, etc can all be used as pressing alternatives. It's possible that someone can decline bench without pec or shoulder pain if it was sustained in another pressing movement. So it may be an option in that regard. I actually feel more pec contraction in decline pressing, however I don't use it because.....well, I don't.

6. Skull crushers - Will def wreck your elbows over time. I bought into the whole "won't happen to me" thing for a long time. Happened to me too.

7. Leg Press on the smith machine - Can't really get into this or make a case for it. If you don't have a leg press and want to leg press, find a gym with a leg press.

8. Lying cable curls - The only case I can make for this is variety.

9. Rotator cuff exercises - These are great. Everyone should do cuff work.

10. Accommodating resistance for RAW lifters - I know a lot of raw guys do use accommodating resistance but I personally don't see a need for it. Especially bands or reverse band work. In raw lifting, the strength curve is hard at the bottom, and easier at the top. When you add bands you're not making the bottom harder. I can see chains being used more effectively for raw guys. But not bands.

11. Calf machines - Definitely useful for the bodybuilder. If you want to make them "work better", hold the stretch position at the bottom for 5 seconds, and THEN come up. Talk to me after. That's how I built my calves into cows.

12. Dumbbell flyes - Very good movement if used properly. It makes the pec actually perform its primary motion. Which is to bring the humerus across the chest.

13. The good girl bad girl machine at the gym, for inner and outer thighs - Very good machines if used properly. I used the good girl machine to rehab a torn adductor, and stayed with it long enough so that I stopped straining my adductor. The bad girl machine is great at teaching people how to fire their glute medius. It's a similar motion that you perform descending into a squat. For people with knee cave, it means they aren't pushing out and getting the glutes involved enough.

14. Sissy squats - Great at recruiting the VMO. Can be hard on some peoples knees, but if you are lacking in the VMO they will put some teardrop muscle on you quickly. Hard as fuck too.

15. Heavy good mornings - Horrible and stupid. Great way to fuck up your back. And I've never seen a good morning as part of a powerlifting meet or strongman comp. Light good mornings done with an emphasis on stretching the glutes and hams are fantastic. Heavy good morning where there is too much of a hip drop and knee bend are fairly dumb. Just my opinion.

16. Sumo Deadlift High Pulls - Dumb.

17. Kipping pullups - Beyond dumb.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why kids are fatter

When I was in my youth, I'm pretty positive we ate all the junk and drank all the coke that most kids eat and drink today.

During summer, I can remember breakfast being cinnamon rolls, then lunch being some gas station sandwich, a snickers, a bag of chips, and a Dr. Pepper. When it got late, I'd go home and eat dinner. Possibly staying up late eating more potato chips and junk as well.

Now don't get me wrong, my mom cooked plenty of healthy meals too. In fact, looking back I realize just how healthy my mom did cook most of the time. Baked chicken, lean cuts of red meat, vegetables, and garden raised vegetables were usually the norm. But my diet was full of junk too.

In the school year, we ate the same shitty cafeteria food that I think most kids get today. That god damn square pizza or hamburgers that surely couldn't have been beef (I believe it was soy burgers). Loaded down with mayo and then an assortment of diabeetus and heart clenching side foods.

Yet, I don't remember having many fat friends. Yeah, we had a fatty here or there in class, but it was few and far between.

The common thinking, from what I have seen fairly often in regards to all of this, is that we need to feed our kids healthier meals.  And I agree with that for the most part.  However, there is probably a bigger culprit here.

Its really as simple as this, in my opinion.  Kids just aren't very active these days.  

See, during those summers when I was shoveling down snickers bars and root beer and Dr. Pepper and staying up late at night eating whole bags of Oreo cookies, I had also spent the entire day riding my bike, climbing trees and water towers (yes, water towers).  Often times, I had rode my bike somewhere to do some other activity.  Like play baseball with my friends, or tackle football (in the South we played tackle without pads all summer because two-hand-touch or flag football was for pussies).  

I also had a trampoline and sometimes we'd jump on that god damn thing for hours on end.  When school rolled around, we played football, and baseball, and basketball.  We still had "PE" (physical education class) where we had to run, and do sit ups, and chin ups, and play dodge ball.  We had long recesses where we'd play kick ball, or see who could swing down the monkey bars the most times without falling off.  

Then when we got out of school, we'd still get on our bikes and go climb shit all day again.  Instead of riding the bus, Barry Poole and I used to walk to school.  It was probably only a mile and a half but add it up.  After a whole day of activity at school, that's three miles of walking.  Sometimes after school you might have been challenged to a good ol fist fight.  And that would burn some calories too because you'd wrestle around and perform some WWE style shit for 10 or 15 minutes before someone FINALLY threw a punch that landed and then the recipient of said punch would be like "ok, bro you win."  And you'd shake hands and be buddies after that. 

We needed that junk and those extra calories to grow.  We needed it because our days were very energy demanding.  

We had video games too.  And when a buddy would stay over, we'd stay up most of the night playing and of course, eating more junk.  But we didn't sit around for 6 hours the next day kicking ass at Mario Brothers.  We were out causing trouble somewhere.  

Listen, this isn't just me having revisionist history about my youth.  This study showed that kids nowadays, on average, are fatter and slower now than my generation was in our youth.  

My own thoughts in this article are backed up in this study. 

"Kids aren't getting enough opportunities to build up that activity over the course of the day," Daniels said. "Many schools, for economic reasons, don't have any physical education at all. Some rely on recess" to provide exercise.

That's right, some school don't have PE AT ALL.  Think about that for a minute.  So kids go to school, sit in class all fucking day, and really don't get to move very much at all.  Then when most of these kids leave school, they go home, play some gaming console for hours on end, or get on social networking sites, or play on their smart phones, and literally don't move most of the day.  Unfortunately, a lot of these kids aren't as lucky as I was in that their parents aren't cooking "healthy meals" either.  I know because my kids tell me about what is served in other houses when they go stay the night with friends.  

Most homes now, if both parents are present (which is another topic all together), both work and often order pizza or grab some fast food for dinner.  If they do cook, it's generally a high fat and high carbohydrate laden meal because hey, that shit tastes good and "that's what my kids like to eat."  

We as a society have changed monumentally since my youth.  And from a health standpoint, not in a good way.  Technology is a fine thing but it's most certainly played a part in "baby sitting" our youth and with an ever increasing pressure to up academic standards, things like "PE" have fallen to the wayside.  

These trend for many continues on into college.  

Those who gained at least 5% of their body weight reported less physical activity during their first semester at college than in high school and were more likely to eat breakfast and slept more than those who didn’t gain as much.



Just taking a guess here, what this may mean is, the kids who were required to perform in physical education class in high school, got to college, did no physical activities, and gained more fat.  


So what's the remedy here?  

Obviously there needs to be a bigger emphasis on physical education in schools again.  There has to be a way to take advantage of all this new technology to get kids more interested in being active again.  Or at least being more active in school.  The problem is, as noted, because of budget issues and funding many schools can't even afford a god damn physical education instructor.  Once again, back full circle, because all of the money goes into academics.  

Schools would have to have a paradigm shift in order to change a lot of this.  They would have to put a bigger emphasis on making sure that these programs do not fall to the wayside due to budget or funding constraints.  And I do believe if they wanted to do that, it would be possible.  Fund raising and finding sponsors for such things are viable options.  The problem is, we also have a generation of adults that are fatter than ever, and often don't see a need for pouring money into such programs.  So they don't get involved.  After all, the obese parents are a part of why the child is obese as well.  

Not only that, the parents themselves would need to grasp the importance of having physically active kids, by simply becoming more active as well.  Taking a walk to the park with their kids, or playing kick ball not only provides for fun family time, but makes being active a lot more enjoyable.  And if the kids enjoy doing something, they will likely want to do it more often.  My Captain Obvious quote in full glory with that last sentence.  

Until we decide that physical fitness and simply "moving more" constantly gets applied to that "eating less" mantra, things won't change a whole lot.  It's not that we are just fatter as a nation, but we are instilling habits in our kids to ensure that their kids will be fatter, and the cycle will continue.  I'm all for education, but our health doesn't and SHOULDN'T take a backseat to it at every turn.  

If you're an adult that has slacking in the physical activity department, then go buy a bike with your kid and ride bikes together.  Buy a football and baseballs and play catch together.  Get involved with your school if there is no physical education program.  I'm lucky enough to live in an area where not only do they emphasize it, but so much so that the kids have options for physical education classes.  

If you're not that lucky then become a part of the solution in some way.  I can't tell you how many stories I've heard from people who lost weight as adults, and talked about how miserable it was to be a fat kid.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Experts" and what really matters

I used to dabble in the stock market.

I would do all the shit most people do, and research various stocks and look at projections and keep up with the ebb and flow of the market each day.

I'd win some here, lose a lot there.  You know, the usual shit for a day trader who didn't know his head from his ass.

I have a very solid feeling I'm not alone in that regard.  My guess is, a great majority of guys that have done day trading don't do as well as they would hope, and aren't having their Bentley detailed at this very moment because of their prowess as a day trader.

I never considered myself to be that smart about all that shit.  Despite the fact that I spent hours and hours researching and studying about it.  Mainly because I've always felt like being good at something was proven through the manifestations of that knowledge.  If I were really smart about stocks like say Warren Buffet is, then I'd have made a lot of money.

I had a close friend that fancied himself to be very educated in the stock market.  His knowledge and research surpassed my own by a country mile.  Yet his success in regards to making money in that field didn't look a whole lot different.

That's the funny thing about knowledge isn't it?  Unless you can prove that it's applicable, sustainable, repeatable, and that it flat out "works", what good is it?

There's been a huge shift lately in the strength and physique culture, where guys that are incredibly educated are being put at the forefront as experts in their fields because of studies and research.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against studies at all.  In fact, I read tons of them.  And at times, I do learn a thing here or there.  I'm not knocking science or studies here.  Studies are fine.  Knowledge is always a great thing.

However my issue is, "where is the money to show for how smart they are at trading stocks?"

"Experts" that claim to have all the answers in regards to hypertrophy, that have no appreciable amount visible muscle mass.

"Experts" that talk about their knowledge in strength development, who aren't much stronger than the average gym bro that's curling and benching all week.

"Experts" rocking a greater than 20% bodyfat, that have never been lean a day in their life who can tell you what it takes to "get shredded."

If a virgin told me that he had learned all the secrets of love making and seducing women because he picked the brain of the thousand best love makers in the world I'd still look at him and say "you've still never been laid."  He may "know" that the average woman wants to have sex two to four times a week at 35 minutes a shot (I'm totally making that statistic up) but if he can't perform at those levels because a lack of experience is preventing him from it, then that knowledge isn't doing him a lot of good.  In other words, he can't speak of his experience with that knowledge because he doesn't have it.  Not only that, maybe he finds out that the women he is with want sex more, or less.  Both in frequency and duration, and those studies don't really apply.

Having knowledge is not enough.   There is that massive, massive hands on component that allows you to distinguish between what looks good on paper and what works in reality.  If you don't have that part of it all, and that experience with it...then sorry, but your advice is useless to me.  Some people may not like that but that's really just how it is.

I will give you an example.

A program or routine may get used in a study to show massive hypertrohpy as a result of its use.  But if the majority of the people that use it find it mind numbing boring, most won't stick to it for very long.  A very big part of training for most people is in fact, the enjoyment of it.  After all, people that don't enjoy doing something won't keep doing it for very long most of the time, unless they are totally into self loathing.  A training methodology generally has to resonate with the person using it.  People end up sticking to certain programs or sets and rep schemes because at the most basic level, they like it.  And there's something to be said for that part of training.

A while back I did 100 rep sets of barbell curls.  Well I read that it shouldn't work, and had no merit, and basically that is was "stupid".  You know what?  My arms grew.  And grew fast.  And there were a lot of guys that tried it, but never did it long enough to see the results from it.  You know why?  Because they hated it.  It was painful.  And at times, very monotonous. If a study had been done to show that 100 rep barbell curls were the single most superior way to build big biceps fast, it doesn't mean everyone is going to do it.  More times than not, people gravitate in life and in training to things that speak to them.  Not things proven in studies.

I mean, at some point you have to just lay the fucking studies and text aside and go into the gym and kick your own ass for years on end.  That's where you're going to find your own personal knowledge.

So as not to leave anyone out, I can't just single out the "experts" in their field as the sole violators of this issue.

Message boards are even worse, really.  Full of guys that understand physiology and kinesiology to a degree that would make a well qualified Physical Therapist blush with embarrassment through their master copy/paste skills.  All the while sporting 13" arms and 315 pound max squats, with less than 5 years of training under their belt.

These same neophytes spend their days arguing with or berating guys who are strong, have the experience and the knowledge, but scoff at what they write or say because....well, I honestly don't completely know.  To argue for the sake of arguing, maybe?  Pick apart a single sentence in an entire article?  Their life sucks?  Who knows.  All I know is, if back when I started I had the access to the knowledge those guys do today, I probably wouldn't have spent time arguing on the net with guys that had paid their dues, and understand what works.  But most people don't really want to be educated.  They just want to be "right".

Now let me be clear about the flip side of things as well.  Just because a dude is jacked or strong doesn't mean he's knowledgeable or "wise" either.  I want to be very clear on that.  I have said this many times in the past.  Just because a guy is elite level strong, or pro-bodybuilder level big, doesn't mean he's going to have the keys to the muscular and strength kingdom.  Ronnie Coleman probably isn't going to be able to relate to the guy that busted his ass for 10 years to gain 20 pounds of lean mass.  Ronnie grew from virtually anything he did.  So I'm not sure what he could offer to a guy on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to building muscle mass.  In all honestly, probably not a whole lot.

The guy that can step onto a track, and bust off a 10 second 100 meter the first time he tries it doesn't have some secretive insight as how to run fast.  He just does.

A guy doesn't need to be an elite world record holder in order to know and understand what it takes to get strong, however.  But I do believe that he should have an appreciable level of strength.  And a guy that talks about what it takes to get big, should have an appreciable level of mass.

The fact is, an "expert" in his field needs a bit of all of the things listed above.  Knowledge, experience, application, and the ability to mesh all of those qualities together to really understand the process of what delivers results.  Simply said...he or she simply knows what "works".  After all, isn't knowing what works what REALLY matters?

Guys who know very little tend to believe they know a whole lot.  But argue more than everyone else.  The "expert" probably doesn't consider himself an expert at all.  That's because the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know as much as you thought you did.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

1000 rep arm workout

I did the 1000 rep arm workout that Matt Kroc laid out in T-Nation.  I did a little video of some of it.  Lasted about 2 hours.