Friday, November 28, 2014

1,001 bullets dodged

“You become what you think about all day long.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

When I was kid, probably no more than five or six years old, I used to take this blue windbreaker that belonged to my dad, and button the top button only on it, so I could wear it like Superman's cape.  

Yeah, I know that Superman had a red cape, but that's not the point.  Sometimes I would pretend to be Batman as well, so there's that.  

Anyway, I used to wear this thing and run down the long wooden porch on the front of our house and jump off of it, pretending to fly.  I'd then run all over the yard, arms stretched out in front of me, and make believe I was on my way to stop some bad guys, put out building fires, and do whatever Superman or Batman does.  

Those were some great times, for a myriad of reasons.  

But mainly because for most of us, the world hadn't had a chance to sink its negative ideological hooks into us.  We were just kids.  We believed we could be anything we wanted to be.  That we could accomplish anything we put our mind to, and any other cliche that you find on internet memes now about believing in yourself.  

That's why we did shit like jump off the top of houses, and jumped makeshift ramps on our bicycles. Because we didn't live with as much fear, trepidation, and doubt that we foster now through all of the failures we've had as adults.  That and because our body isn't quite as pliable as it was in those years.  If I jumped off a house now I think every bone and organ in my body would explode.  Still, I digress.

As we grow and mingle into social circles other people's beliefs, morals, thoughts, and ideas about the world, and how they see us, can and often do reshape how we see ourselves.  When I was fourteen and I left Mississippi for the first time, I had no idea that I had a southern accent.  I know, seems idiot and illogical to not know, but when you've never been outside of "what you know" getting exposed to "what you don't know" can be surprising.  

So I was shocked to find out that a boy that grew up in Louisiana and Mississippi did indeed have a thick southern drawl.    

Because of this revelation, I now knew that I sounded like some backwoods hillbilly.  Did it bother me?  Not in the slightest.  It's what I knew, and who I was.  And I was totally fine with it.

But through these experiences, and through negative connotations we often do end up transforming from that kid who jumps off the porch pretending to be Superman, and believes they can fly (cue R. Kelly song) to having our eyes opened to the fact that we are fat, ugly, skinny, poor, untalented, unathletic, dumb, and unaccepted.  

And over time, these things weigh on us, and tear away that Superman that once existed.  His cape is put away, and in his place now resides something that is even less of a shell of who he was.  The world has "opened our eyes" to all of the short comings that were masked by our own blissful ignorance.  Whether they really exist or not is highly irrelevant.  They exist in our mind now because we believe that part of the world really sees us as flawed, and incapable.  

And eventually, for many of us, that's how we being to see ourselves.  

When I found lifting and grew into a bigger and stronger version of who I was, I was able to get some of that "Superman" back.  Batman too.  

It was exhilarating to find something in my life that could literally change what I thought about myself.  I could create a new me.  Something better than what currently existed.  And best of all, it was totally within my control to do so.  

Something that would insulate me from the insults and disparaging comments that robbed me of the belief that anything I wanted in my life was possible.  Maybe we can't accomplish ANYTHING we set our minds too.  I think that's a foolhardy belief in a lot of ways.  I mean, I don't see a midget breaking into the NBA anytime soon, and no matter how much said little person believes in himself, he won't be breaking Michael Jordan's records.  

So in essence, no, we really can't accomplish ANYTHING we set our minds to.  But that's not what getting broken and torn down robs from us.  It robs us of the passion that exists prior to that, that gives us hope about who we are, and who we can become. What we truly can accomplish.  When we allow others to tear that away from us, what we lose is the part our ourselves that can surpass our own perceived limitations.  

I have either accomplished or surpassed so many goals I never thought would come to fruition in my own training.  But the fact is, they could have happened even sooner, had I not let my own negative thoughts dictate my abilities.  

People are often ruled because of perceived limitations.  Then once they find the ability to believe in surpassing them, it becomes easy.  Whether that be through their own accomplishments, or the accomplishments of others, something eventually clicks that the impossible, is indeed possible.  

I knew a gym owner that had dumbbells up to 150 pounds.  He told me that all sorts of people used the 140's, but the 150's were rarely, if ever, touched.  

Through luck he ended up getting a deal on some heavier dumbbells.  All the way up to 180 pounds if I recall correctly.  

You know what happened after that?  

People started using the 150's.  And 160's.  And even 170's.  

You can guess what dumbbells didn't get touched very much.  Not that a lot of people would do anything with 180 pound dumbbells anyway, except maybe some dogshit rows, but that's neither here nor there.  The point remains.  People were limited, or limited themselves by looking at the heaviest pair of dumbbells in the gym, and didn't believe they could use them.  Not until they saw that 150 pounders weren't the crest of the mountain.  It was when that shortsightedness was removed that mentally, they could move past the 140's.  

For a long time, people believed that it was impossible for the 4 minute mile to be broken by a human.  People tried and tried and tried.  And it became "fact" that well, it just wasn't possible.

Then in 1954, Roger Bannister ran it in 3 minutes and 59 seconds.  

Two months later, John Michael Landy ran a mile in less than four minutes as well.

Is it possible that Landy goes on to accomplish this anyway?  Maybe.  Or maybe he needed to see it could be done in order to give him the belief that he too, could do this.  

Since then, lots of people have gone on to run sub four-minute miles.  It's doable.  Achievable.  By everyone?  Of course not.  This is where the slogan/motto of "you can do anything you put your mind to" falls very short.  We all have genetic limitations whether anyone wants to openly admit that or not.  But how can we be sure of what they are, if we limit ourselves from the get go?  

In essence, we kill our own personal Superman before he has a chance to even find out if he can fly.  

The method we use to kill him happens through our own failures, that leave a nasty imprint about who we think we are, or he gets killed because we invest too heavily in what others think we are incapable of.  

The journey to finding a central and positive source of self belief will be filled with dodging negative bullets.  Fired by yourself, and by others.  It may take dodging 1,001 bullets before you arrive at a place where you can find the ability to believe that you're bigger, stronger, faster, wiser, smarter, and worthy of more than you think you are, or what people told you you are.  

Wiping away that source of doubt and disbelief is hard.  Especially if you let that belief truly become part of who you think you are.  If that's the identity you cling to it can be hard to eradicate that belief from your existence.  

Maybe you can't become an IFBB pro, or an NFL player, or run a sub 4-minute mile.  But you will never accomplish that if the roadblock is within your own mind.  At some point, that has to be removed, and Superman's cape has to be put back on.  

Unless you're a midget trying to play in the NBA.  Then....try something else.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Offseason powerlifting - Part 2 - My own shit

I wrote a few weeks ago about setting up cycles/phases for your offseason in order to be better prepared come competition cycle time.  In this article I am going to detail what I will be doing over the next several months in order to do that for my next competition.  

Recomp - 

Apparently everyone hates this word now, but I don't care.  Hate away.  Because I like it.  I like it.  Yes, I wrote that twice.  

I have written for a while that my goal has been to be a leaner 242er, however it's obvious to me now that the 275 class is where I am going to compete for however long I continue to do so.  Obviously the goal now is to eventually become a leaner 275'er.  For me, that means being a VERY LEAN 255-260, then eating up going into the meet and landing right at 275 or so.

Now in some circles being a 275er means being 290+ and cutting weight.  And yes I used to belong to that circle, and I do think it's an option.  But for me, I'm far happier eating up going into a meet rather than making the last week or so of meet prep miserable with a weight cut.  

After talking with his most excellent sire, Brian Carroll, about this (since he literally wrote a book on weight cutting) here are benefits and drawbacks to both options.  

Eating up - Benefits 
Fewer things to worry about, which means less stress.
Not depleting glycogen, ATP, water, etc at any point.
Knowing there won't be a possible reduction in performance due to the cut.

Eating up - Drawbacks
Possibly eating past your weight class (almost happened to me)

Weight cutting - Benefits
Higher wilks
Being bigger than your weight class (well duh!)
Some guy (not many, but some) find they feel stronger after a quality recomp (gaining the weight back)
If the weight cut is small, then virtually no hampered performance 

Weight cutting - Drawbacks
Not making weight and suffering for no reason
Hampering performance
Higher risk of injury due to severe dehydration (on larger cuts)

I have heard/read every reason for doing a weight cut and not doing one.  I will say this, it's just up to you.  It really is.  If you have personal goals to hit certain numbers at a certain weight class then doing a cut, and a proper recomp, CAN be a good option.  My own personal opinion at this point is that anything over about 7% bodyweight tends to hamper performance for most people.  So if you want to be in the 220 class for example, don't get above 235.  

Even better, concentrate on being a very LEAN 235.  The more muscle you carry, the stronger you're going to be obviously.  There's no reason to eat above a weight class where all you are doing is packing on the fat.  Fat is non-functional tissue, and regardless of what you read about leverages, doesn't lift anything.  

This brings us back full circle.  Recomping for the offseason.

For the next several weeks I will be working to trim as much fat off as I can, and then working back up from there.  This process is mostly diet related, as training is training and not really dependant on fat loss goals.  You don't train to "lose fat".  You train to build muscle mass, or get stronger.  You don't change around training to burn more fat.  Can you do that?  Yes.  Is it optimal?  No.  This is why I rarely understand when people ask me if they need to change their training around to accompany fat loss.

Well yes, and no.  Sort of.  It sounds like I contradicted myself, but let me explain.  

When you are dieting you still need to train hard and give your body a reason to hold on to the muscle you built while in a calorie surplus.  And lifting is still the stimulus for that.  You aren't going to build NEW mass while in a calorie deficit, but training hard gives the body a reason to hold on to the lean tissue underneath your chub.  

My own personal opinion is that you need to train like you ARE training for hypertrophy when dieting, rather than strength, because (as I have discussed many times) more reps mean more growth.  Fewer reps tend to translate to greater strength, but less growth in regards to efficiency (been over this too...3 sets of 10 > 7 sets of 3).  Since growth isn't like to occur in a deficit, it's better to maintain muscle by using a method that is more efficient at growing muscle.  

So even when dieting, train like you are trying to grow.  Keep the reps and volume high.  When you are ready to add calories back in, you need not change anything in training and can watch yourself grow and get swole/jacked/yoked, etc.  

Also, don't ask about my diet.  I am working with Trevor Kashey now on it and he's done some amazing shit with people so if you'd like to hit him up, do so.

Training - Specialization 

Despite the fact that I know I won't be in a growth phase, I will still prioritize some areas in my training.  This specialization will continue on throughout the entire offseason, just like last year.  

The areas that I will be focusing on at various times this offseason will be as so.  

1.  Arms - I want to get that 500 bench under my belt.  And I've never seen a big bencher with small arms.  If he did, then he's the exception.  On the average, the biggest benchers also tend to have the biggest arms.  If you want a bigger bench then getting a couple of tickets to the gun show will help.
2.  Glutes - I won't be doing any of that ridiculous shit you see women doing in those glute videos.  While they may work to firm and tone a round womanly ass, I need to focus on getting glutes that are obscenely large and strong.  Once again, you've probably never seen someone sporting a large ass that couldn't squat worth a damn.  
3.  Traps - Yes I know, I did that last year as well, but no one EVER has traps that are too big.

As I sit here and write this, I have the flu.  Once I am well again here is what training will look like for the next 6 weeks, minimum. 

Day 1 - Press/Arms
Bench - base building model I
Incline Db Curls supersetted with hammer curls - 4 sets of 8 reps
Rope Pushdowns - 5 sets of 20
Machine Curls - stack + rest/pause sets
Dip Machine - 350 method

Day 2 - Legs
Leg Curls (lying) - 4 x 8
Pause Squats high bar - base building model I
Split Squats (weighted) - 5 sets of 8

Day 3 - Back/Traps
Meadows Shrugs (dumbbells) - 4 sets of 12
Hammer Low Row - 2 sets of 6, 2 sets of 12
Rear Delt Machine - 4 sets of 20

Day 4 - Press/Arms
Incline - base building model I
Db Preacher Curls - 3 rounds of rest/pause
Overhead Tricep Extensions - 5 sets of 20
Reverse Curls - 4 sets of 10
PJR Pullovers - 1x20

Day 5 - Legs 
Leg Curls (seated) - 4 sets of 8
Hack Squats - 4 sets of 8 @ same weight all 4 sets
Lunges - 200-500

Day 6 - Back/Traps
Meadows Shrugs (cambered bar) - 4 x 8 (heavier)
V-Bar Chins - 5 sets of 5 weighted
Upright Rows - 3 strip sets (probably using a cable)

Final word - 

Offseason mass training is something Brian Carroll and I will be discussing at the upcoming seminar in January at MadTown Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin.  

Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn from 40+ years of training, fucking up, learning, and achieving.  

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Offseason powerlifting

As Gillian noted in her article, for any serious athlete there really is no "offseason".  Offseason is basically defined as a time when you are training to get better for competition preparation.  So essentially, offseason is still preparation for preparing.

If that makes sense.

For the competitive powerlifter, the offseason is a time when you should be doing certain things set yourself up for better performance, and not doing certain things to short change that process.

In my opinion, here are some of the things to do, and not to do in the offseason to set yourself up for better performance.

Do - 

Work on building more muscle mass -

 Regardless of what anyone tells you, at the end of the day, it's the muscles that move the weight.  A larger muscle has more capacity for strength than a smaller one, all things being equal.  Yes, lifting more weight is also about neural efficiency, which is why certain smaller guys are stronger than some bigger guys, but both will ultimately need to grow larger once a strength ceiling is hit.

This means spending time actually training outside of the strength rep range of 1-3 reps, and focusing more on sets of 5, 8, 10+ reps.

This used to be an argument, and some can say it still is.  That overload and progression are really the central factors in growing more mass, but if we're talking about being efficient in your training, there is a caveat.

Not that a study was needed to prove this, but it was done.

I've linked this study before, and it has pissed me off to no end that some people have used it to validate that lower reps are superior, or at least equal, to higher reps for building hypertrophy.  Not only that, there was a significant strength gain in the group that did the 7x3 protocol.

Take notice of the notes....

In conclusion, this study showed that both bodybuilding- and powerlifting-type training promote similar increases in muscular size, but powerlifting-type training is superior for enhancing maximal strength.

What was missed by all of these people was a huge factor in the study.

It took the powerlifting group 70 minutes to complete those sessions.  Not only that, they were TOAST after.  While the "bodybuilding" group (3x10) finished in about 17 minutes, and wanted to do more.

From an efficiency standpoint, it should be OBVIOUS that doing 3 sets of 10 is far superior than using low reps with much more volume.  Not only that, who goes into the gym and just does 3 sets of 10?  Most of the time people who are serious are in the gym for an hour, to an hour and a half.

From an offseason hypertrophy standpoint, more reps = more gains in muscle mass in a more efficient manner.

I hope this ends the ridiculous discussion on that.

Shore up muscular weaknesses and technique problems - 

This last offseason, I knew that my quads were a problem.  And by problem I mean, they were too small, and too weak.  I had multiple injuries in meets in either my quad or adductor.  Part of this was technique, but a big part was, my quads just weren't strong enough and I had a severe muscular imbalance between them and my adductors.

I devised a plan of front squats, high bar squats, and hack squats to fix this.  I knew my quads were a weakness when I decided to do my first day of hack squats and 315 was heavy as shit, and I strained my VMO doing it.

I wasn't discouraged by this.  If anything, I knew I was on the right track from this testing.

A year after working on this I hit a PR with at least 30 pounds to spare on my third attempt.  Spending time fixing my muscular weakness and technique was required to do this.  And that's why I chose the movements I did, rather than just squatting more.

If you have a flaw in your technique in regards to your own personal leverages, then you could be pushing, pulling, or squatting a significant amount of weight less than you are muscularly capable of.  So while the muscles may do the work, if the joints aren't in the proper angle to the bar, then their maximal strength ability will be held back by poor leveraging.

This requires for you to either work with a coach, or have enough knowledge that you understand what needs fixing.  For my squat, I needed to push out harder with my knees that I had been previously doing, in order to distribute the load more evenly across my lower body.

It's important to evaluate where you are weak muscularly so that you can pick movements that will bring up the lifts.

Generally speaking, on a per muscle group basis, this is what I recommend in order to do that -

Quads - Front squats, hack squats
Chest - Db bench press, db flyes
Shoulders - Overhead pressing of various kinds (PBN, military, db)
Triceps - Dips (if you can do them), close grip bench
Posterior chain - Romanian deadlifts, deficit stiff legged deadlifts, good mornings (light)
Back - Barbell rows, chins

Have some proper planned out phases/cycles - 

When I was with Dmitry Klokov in Canada, he told me that when he was training for the Olympics that they had a whole year of training planned out to prepare for competition.  

Let that sink in for a bit.

A whole year of training mapped out so there was nothing left to doubt.

Yet I see so many guys now winging it from day to day, week to week, month to month.  No plan.  Just screaming "GO HOME OR GO HOME!"

Can you imagine an Olympic coach at that level just walking in each day without a plan?

"Ehhh, let's just do some snatches and cleans.  Load the bar!  GO HEAVY OR GO HOME!"

In my mind, this seems silly and rather sophomoric.  

At Dmitry's level, they are chasing that 1% of improvement.  The smallest of fractions in order to get an advantage.  It's very likely that you don't need to be that precise.  Novice and intermediate trainers can get away with a more erroneous process and still improve more often than not.

So I'm not saying you have to be THAT precise about your training, but no one ever got worse from having a solid and well thought out plan.  And if anything it behooves you to have some kind of plan in place.

Here is a hypothetical year for a powerlifter that will only compete one time.

Months 1-3 = Hypertrophy work
Months 4-6 = Volume work on the competition lifts
Months 7-8 = Competition/Peaking
Month 9 = Deload/Injury attention/Pre-hab/Mobility/Conditioning
Months 10-12 = Technique work

Don't - 

Shoot for 1 rep maxes in the offseason  -

I see this all the time through some sort of social media.  I have no idea why guys are trying to hit PR's on a consistent basis in the offseason in regards to a 1 rep max.  What purpose does it serve other than more youtube likes?  It increases the risk of injury, doesn't build strength, doesn't build muscle.  The only purpose it can serve is as a gauge as to where you are at in terms of demonstrating strength.  Seeing as how you shouldn't be basing cycles around a true 1 rep max, I'm not sure why the need for it.

Now let me say right now, I'm a hypocrite in this regard because I have done it at times.  But it's few and far between.  I mean very few and far between.  Generally I look for rep max PR's all year long.  And as I noted, I've never set new rep PR without finding a new 1 rep PR later.

So I'm not saying you can NEVER test, but there's no reason why you can't test a triple, set of 5, or set of 8.  There isn't a single person out there that got stronger on a set of 5-8 who got weaker on a one rep max.  If there is, they are an anomaly and should be discarded.

You can also test speed or RPE (rate of perceived exertion) for particular intensities to gauge where you are at.

One of the components of base building was the inclusion of "fatigue singles".  This meant to take a stab at your programmed EDM (everyday max) after you had finished all of your volume work.  If you can move your EDM with a lower RPE than you had been previously, then obviously you got stronger.  Especially if you did it in a fatigued state.

So if you feel the need to test a 1 rep max, I advise doing so in the above manner.  From there, if you feel the EDM was easy enough, you can adjust it upwards.  To me, this seems like a smart way to program and to understand progress without actually performing true 1 rep maxes.

Get fat(ter) - 

The offseason should be a time to increase lean muscle tissue.  Not a time to increase overall body mass if you are ALREADY fat.

There used to be a mantra in powerlifting of "get your weight up!"

It was mostly espoused by a bunch of guys that were already well over 300 pounds and well north of 20% bodyfat.

I'm not sure if I buy into the "better leverages".  It can, at a point, help with a lift like squats where you can sit on your belly at the bottom (sounds awful doesn't it?).  A fatter torso will disperse the load of the bench press across more of a surface area.  But if you look at the ROM comparison in the before vs after bulk, I really don't think it's great enough to say leverages improved that much.

On the flip side, gaining excess fat can hinder the deadlift.

There is a reason why you see a lot of fat guys with big benches and squats with poor pulls (relative to their squat and bench).  A big gut tends to get in the way of deadlifting, and can put you in a position to where the pull is longer than it'd have to be if you weren't so fat.    So if simply adding bodyweight were the key then you'd see the deadlift improve just as dramatically as the bench and squat.  But often it does not.

I think it's important to gain weight in the offseason, but it should be quality weight, over quantity.  This does mean some fat will come with new muscle gain more than likely, but it should be minimized.  Second, if you're already fat, you probably should work on improving your body composition by taking some of that off until you're in a healthy bodyfat range.  There are just too many lean and jacked lifters now lifting big weights to show that getting sloppy isn't a requirement to be strong.

Beat yourself to shit - 

If you feel good, you lift good.

If you start meet prep and you feel beat to shit, you did something wrong.  The offseason should be a time where you shore up weaknesses and improve your ability to perform on the platform.  Part of performing better is feeling better.  If your joints ache or old injuries are still around, then you did a poor job of addressing these things in that time.

The motto of "stimulate, don't annihilate" apply here.  Your training should be hard enough to meet the goals you set, but not so demanding that overuse or overtraining set in.

A great way to offset this is to make sure you use a variety of movements so that the joints aren't moved through the exact same plane over and over for too long, and so that the fatigue vs adaption curve doesn't get out of whack.  Read below....

Conclusion - 

The offseason is a great time to set yourself up for a better performance the next time you hit the platform.

Make sure you use that time wisely so that a bigger, stronger, and healthier lifter is developed during this period.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Cheaters

Unfortunately I read an article this morning about why ALL men cheat.  Wait, there was a caveat.  All men cheat on loyal women.


That's a absolute, in case you didn't know.

That means, that 100% of dong sporting humans will fuck around on his very loyal woman.

I'm not sure where to start with such a shit article, but I guess here.....

1.  Not all men cheat.  There are loyal men out there too.  

2.  Articles like this plant messages in women's minds that all mean cheat, and plenty (notice I didn't use an absolute there?) of women enter into relationships without embracing the choice to trust because of tripe such as this.  Regardless of whether they had been cheated on or not by a man previously.

3.  The article goes on to say that men, excuse me....MALES....cheat because they are insecure and need to feed their ego.

I could spend a day tearing all of this shit apart.  However I still need to eat, and do business, and train, and play with my kids.  So Imma try to keep this as short as I can (which means at least 2,200 words).

First off, men and women both generally cheat for a lot of the same reasons.

1. They feel unfulfilled, or unappreciated in the primary relationship.

2.  They find excitement in it.  

3.  They are drunk.  

4.  They get caught up in a moment or get seduced and make a poor choice.

5.  They need affirmation that they are still wanted, or desirable.  

6.  Some people aren't wired to be completely monogamous (more on this at the end)

This doesn't cover every reason of course.  But I think it covers most reasons pretty thoroughly.  I can't account for why every person in the world decided to cheat, nor can I account for the myriad of situations one can find themselves in where they decide to be unfaithful.  So I'm trying to stick with the basics.

As someone who has been cheated on, and cheated, I can tell you in my own experience it revolved around reason #1 in both circumstances.  The feeling of being unappreciated in the relationship I was in was the issue.  I can also tell you, because I'm being honest, that I've been cheated on because I did not fulfill and appreciate the person I was with at the time the way I should have.

From my own experience in talking with people about this, most don't take a long hard look at themselves when they find out they have been cheated on.  I remember a while back that someone posted a meme that read "Don't let your man leave the house horny, or hungry" and some women got offended by it.


Seems like good advice to me.  Wouldn't doing so mean you're simply doing a part of keeping your man fulfilled in the relationship?  The counter argument to that is that the man should love her enough and be disciplined enough not to be persuaded by other women.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

I guess my question to that is, why take a chance when you can instill preventative measures?

From a physiological perspective men are wired visually, and meant to procreate (so are women yes, but the stimulation mechanisms are biologically different).

Now your man has left the house with a raging boner, gets to the bar with his buddies, slams a few, gets hit on by some chick that's really hot (ok she's more like a weak 6, but with the beer goggles she's a strong 8 now), and now he's out in his El Dorado with ol girl from the bar.

Mind you, none of this is an excuse for that kind of behavior if he is an committed relationship.  I'm just trying to talk about reality here.  It does happen.  It's less likely to happen if you treat your man like it's "steak and a BJ day" more days than not.    

Women on the other hand, are not really visually wired.  Which is why it's such a strange phenomenon that so many males enter the gym to get a better body in hopes of attracting more women.  There have been plenty of social experiments that back up the idea that women can be emotionally moved or seduced via how a man interacts with her, rather than what his abs look like, or what kind of trendy haircut he's sporting.

It's also been shown that plenty of women are willing to bang a dude just because he drives a Lambo, but I digress.

Interestingly enough, it seems like as genders we do a lot of the things we do, like lift weights and buy designer bags to impress those of our own gender.  And not of the opposite sex.  I've never had a single friend that told me he was dating some girl or going on a date with her because of the Louis Vuitton handbag she was sporting when they met.  Men don't generally care about that shit.  Women do.

In fact, when men have conversations about a woman they met it often goes off like this....

Dude 1 - "I met this girl this weekend.  We're going out Tuesday."

Dude 2 - "Oh yeah?"

Dude 1 - "Hell yeah.  Hot as fuck."

Dude 2 - "Oh shit!"

That's it.  We're glad our buddy has a hot date.  He seems to be as well, so we're happy for him.

There also might be a comment about her ass or something, but we as men start very simple in regards to requirements for a first date.  Yes it is true, that an intellectual/articulate woman is hot, and it's a big turn on, however that's one of those bonus things.  It simply extends the conversation from above....

Dude 1 - "I met this girl this weekend.  We're going out Tuesday."

Dude 2 - "Oh yeah?"

Dude 1 - "Hell yeah.  Hot as fuck."

Dude 2 - "Oh shit!"

Dude 1 - "She's smart too."

Dude 2 - "Right on."  

I'm not saying males and females aren't attracted to someone initially because of appearance, because I do believe that physical attraction plays a big part in someone getting their foot in the door.  I believe that has been shown through science.  I'm just saying that with women it usually plays less of a part in it than men.  He needs to be able to woo her emotionally and intellectually more than physically.  Owning that Lambo doesn't appear to hurt either.

I've heard women's conversations about this, and they generally sound quite different.

Chick 1 - "So, I met a guy this weekend at Cathy's get together.  We're going out Tuesday."

Chick 2 - "Oh yeah?"

Chick 1 - "His name is Roger.  He's a manager at Davidson's."  

Chick 2 - "Oh shit!"

Chick 1 - "Yup, he drives a Lambo.  Someone's panties are getting peeled off early that night."

Chick 2 - "Oh shit!"

Ok, I'm just kidding.

For serious now.........

Chick 1 - "So, I met a guy this weekend at Cathy's get together.  We're going out Tuesday."

Chick 2 - "Oh yeah?"

Chick 1 - "His name is Roger.  He's a manager at Davidson's."  

Chick 2 - "Oh shit!"

Chick 1 - "Yup, he drives a Lambo.  Can you say "fuck on the first date?""

Chick 2 - "Oh shit!"

Alright, alright......I had to do it to you one more time.  Ok for real this time.....

Chick 1 - "So, I met a guy this weekend at Cathy's get together.  We're going out Tuesday."

Chick 2 - "Oh yeah?"

Chick 1 - "His name is Roger.  He's a manager at Davidson's."  

Chick 2 - "Where are you going?"

Chick 1 - "He said he knows a spot out in Hillsdale"

Chick 2 - "Sounds fancy."

Chick 1 - "He was really funny too.  He told me this joke...."

Ok the conversation usually gets really boring from there, but you get the gist of it.  Men initially tend to focus on the external (how she looks) at first, and women the internal (how he made her feel).

And now we're at the crux of it all.

The fact is, a man will get used to looking at his beautiful woman.  As the saying goes, show me a beautiful woman and I will show you a man tired of her shit.

There's sort of a deeper message lost in that very red-necky saying.

And it's this.  After all of the novelty and newness of someone wears off....what are you left with?  What are they "feeding" you?  Emotionally, intellectually, and physically.  For a relationship to continue thriving it has to be fed on all these parts or it will wilt and die.  To add, as people grow they change, and need different types of things to be fed.  It's up to both people to be open enough and receptive enough to listen to those needs, and more importantly, have application in regards to them.

This is why communication isn't enough.  The application part is probably more important.  Lots of couples fail because while they hear the needs of the other person, there is no application of those needs.  Communication is only worth it if the other person applies those needs that are being communicated.

If you tell me that after work you need your feet rubbed, but I fail to apply a foot rubbing, then communication isn't the problem.  It's the lack of application of what I know you need.   What generally happens next is that the communicator stops letting the other person know what they need, because they feel doing so is a waste of time.

And this brings us back to the original point of "don't let your man leave the house horny or hungry".  As a man I would say don't let your woman leave the house horny or hungry either.  The feeding aspect would be the difference (because I think in the other case the "hungry" part is more literal).  In this example, it's just a foot massage.  But feeding your woman could mean lots of other things too, of course.

Like occasionally have dinner ready when she gets home.  Do the laundry, clean the house, get a sitter for the kids (if you have them) once a week so you can still romance her.  If the woman needs to take care of her man physically, then understand as a man you need to take care of her emotionally (I don't mean to imply that men never need emotional catering at all, because we do).

It's up to you to figure out what those needs are.  It may mean being more affectionate with her.  Or, God forbid, even watch a fucking chick flick now and then if that is what she's into.

The point is, if you are going to be in a relationship don't expect it to be just about your own personal needs.  There's someone else involved too.  And I see far too much entitlement now about how a man treats a woman, yet so little in the way about how people are supposed to treat EACH OTHER.  A big part of a loving relationship is understanding the needs of your partner and caring enough to meet them.

Let me rephrase that....a big part of a loving relationship is understanding the needs of each other and doing what it takes to meet them.  It's a reciprocation that is done because it's important to you to make sure your partner is happy.  They do the same for you.

For example, I've read or heard of women withholding sex because she's pissed off at her man.  This is a dangerous thing to do.  Sex should never be used as a bartering tool in the relationship.  When that happens, it can lose the sincerity and purpose it serves in an intimate relationship.  That is of course, physical and emotional satisfaction.   It shouldn't be a "reward" system.  Like getting gold stars in Sunday school because we remembered your Bible verses for the week.

Well this isn't Sunday school, and the fact is after a while someone will resent the other person for such behavior and now a lack of fulfillment and appreciation will manifest itself in some hideous way.

Often times, that is infidelity.  It can be other things too, like doing shit to spite each other, and that's not healthy either.  At the core of all of this, is one person's inability/want to do the things the other person needs to feel respected and appreciated in the relationship.

When this is lost, sometimes cheating finds its way into your life.

Either you get cheated on, or do the cheating.  

As a cheater, you need to own a very simple fact.  It was your choice.  Even if you were unfulfilled, you as an adult still made the choice to be unfaithful.  Blaming the other person for your own actions is where the weakness is.  You made the decision.  Be strong enough to own it.  Don't blame the other person regardless of what they did to make you feel like your actions were justified.  When you unload your infidelity on them don't intensify the pain of that by blaming them.  

As the person who was cheated on, after the emotional wreckage and anger subsides, and the fire department extinguishes the blaze you set to your lovers car.....ask yourself an honest question.  What part did I play in this situation?

If you feel unfulfilled, and you've talked to your significant other about it and nothing changed, cheating generally only adds to the existing problems.  Yes, I've heard of relationships where people cheated or had affairs and that it actually made things better later.  Mainly because there were two people willing to question each other and themselves, and be honest as to how such a situation transpired and how to avoid it in the future.

My question would be, are you willing to take that chance?  Not everyone can be that introspective when they are that heavily invested in a relationship.  Sometimes it just cuts too deep and someone is just not strong enough to find it within themselves to forgive.

If you want to make sure the odds are at their lowest of getting cheated on, then yes women, don't let your man leave the house horny and hungry.  And men don't let your women leave the house horny or emotionally hungry either.

All in all..........

1.  Don't enter into a relationship with someone you can't make a choice to trust.  Trust isn't built or earned.  It's simply a choice.  No, you don't have to trust them from day 1, but if you can't EVER make a choice to trust them then you're either in the wrong relationship, or you're still carrying around prior-relationship baggage with you.  If it's the latter, the next person you meet won't be trustworthy either.  Not because of them, but because of your inability to let go of what other people have done.

2.  If you cheat, own it.  Don't blame the other person for your decisions.  Even if they are completely valid, you still made the choice.

3.  If you get cheated on, be introspective enough to ask if you played a part in someone making that choice.  Maybe you did, and maybe you didn't.

4.  If you're going to stay together, don't nut sack or vagina kick the other person to death everyday over it.  Calling her a whore or you calling him a piece of shit day in and day out does nothing but deteriorate and dissolve anything good that may remain.  This doesn't mean you can't talk about it.  Just talk about it in a way that can strengthen the relationship going forward, if that's what you both want.

5.  As the cheater, expect to have to do things that allows the other person make a choice to trust you again.  You may have to keep your phone unlocked, or give up your passwords to social media.  There is a difference in secrecy and privacy.  Once you cheat, you should expect to lose a bit of both for a while.  If you're not willing to do that, then walk away.  You fucked up.  Expect a penance.

6.  There are loyal, faithful, and honest men and women out there.  

7.  Apparently, monogamy and non monogamy may exist on a continuum.  No different than being an extrovert or introvert, some people appear to be wired for one more than the other.  And there appears to be varying degrees of this.  Some people don't do well at monogamy, and they very well might not be wired for that.  This will probably be questioned by people and/or make people angry.  But personality characteristics range on a very big scale in many facets.  Some people just aren't wired to be with one person, and some people are.  There is no blood test that you can get to determine this.  It's generally seen through a person's actions and behaviors.  In our society being faithful is seen as very noble thing, and I do agree that if you tell someone you're in a committed relationship with them, then you should honor your word on that.  If you find that you're a person that struggles in monogamous committed relationships then at least understand that about yourself.

Definitely more than 2,200 words.

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Gillian Ward’s "Off season" Training Plan - Recover, Regenerate, Renew, Revitalize...

My very long first season of physique competition has drawn to a close. I have
essentially been on a calorically restricted pre-contest diet since the beginning
of January 2014 (with a few weeks off here and there post contests).

This year I competed in April, May, late August and then 1 November. For most of 2014, I
trained at an energy deficit therefore my strength gains and ability to put on muscle was limited if not non-existent. The focus was on dialed in nutrition and physique refinement.

Two weeks ago, I entered my “off-season” which is really a poor term. If you take anything seriously in life there is no “off-season”. If you are serious about pursuing a goal to the highest extent, consistency is key. To be at your best, perfect attendance is required in both training and nutrition.

As a multi sport athlete for over three decades I have always trained hard year round. I confess though that the concept of dialed in nutrition all of the time is something new to me. This year as a physique competitor I learned just how valuable sound nutrition is to performance and aesthetics. Prior to that I used to operate under the assumption that I was fortunate enough to eat anything that I
wanted and still perform at my best. I was lying to myself. What you put in your body is critical to growth, repair and performance in addition to aesthetics.

I am breaking up my “off season” training plan into two phases. The first one will run from now until the end of 2015 and I will refer to it as Phase 1 - Recover,

Regenerate, Renew, Revitalize (P1R4 ). During this phase I will return to my training roots which is primarily barbell movements (powerlifts & Olympic lifts), gymnastics skills and conditioning. This was the combination that created the physique that I walk around with. The physique that took me from first time physique competitor to stepping onstage as an IFBB Pro in 7 months. I am a firm believer of not fixing something that is not broken. Different is not better. More is not better. Better is better. To me better is performing functional large multi joint movements that require balance, mental focus, coordination and high levels of force to be exerted. Additionally these movements can be measured and quantified with ease and accuracy. It’s simple – this week I added 5lbs to my squat.

These types of variables are far easier to make sense of then figuring out if my triceps have more striations than last week (different lighting, different camera, time of day, hydration and so on).

More importantly, this type of training is gratifying and rewarding to me. As I mentioned above it is all about attendance and consistency. If I find something gratifying and rewarding I am more likely to adhere.

To use an awful cliché analogy I consider my “off-season” to be the building of my tree. It needs to be watered (hydrated) and fed (nutrition) with deep roots (strong core) to withstand the elements (prevent injury). I want it to grow as lush and green and tall as possible (broad, general strength).

Contest season is when my tree gets pruned (calorically restricted diet) and trimmed with pretty ornaments (finishing, shaping movements) for presentation.

If I have a sparse, weak, malnourished tree the ornaments won’t matter.

I will be posting exact details of my P1R4 training phase over the coming weeks on my blog at

Thursday, November 13, 2014

10/20/Life + LRB Seminar in January

Brian Carroll and I are doing a seminar at MadTown Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin in January.

Full details are at the below link -

Don't miss this.  We're going to cover a lot of awesome material.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Relentless Detroit Recap

I would write here that I did a meet this past weekend, but that really wouldn't give the experience the justice it deserves.

Relentless isn't as much of a powerlifting meet as it is an event, and a phenomenal one to say the very least.  If you aren't aware of what Relentless is, it's a charity that uses powerlifting as the vehicle to bring everyone together to raise money for children with terminal illnesses and the families for those kids.

But it's hard to encapsulate what it's like to be part of it in words really.  It has to be experienced to be understood.  And anyone and everyone involved in it comes away feeling the same way about it.  That it's easily the most uplifting and positive thing going on in powerlifting.  And all of those in powerlifting that aren't involved in it are really missing out on something very special.

So if you're not involved in Relentless Minnesota or Detroit, I urge you to get involved in it for next year and be part of something that is truly the most awesome thing going on in powerlifting.

Doubts..... - 

Anyone that follows LRB probably remembers that I competed at this event last year.  I tore my quad on my second squat attempt.  It was easily the most painful injury I've ever had in lifting, and had it been any other meet, I probably shut it down at that point.  But it's hard to not lift when you understand what you are there for.

I remember thinking at the time that there was no way I wasn't going to finish.  Yes, it's just lifting weights, but that's not the point.  There are kids there fighting for their life, and families that wake up everyday immersed in the stress of those real battles.  They can't just walk off the platform and call it a day, and say "there's always another."  So I wasn't going to either.

But I'd be lying if I said that injury hadn't plagued my thoughts.  In fact, the last three meets I've done I've gotten injured and the criticisms I have heard and read haven't been unwarranted.  That I couldn't get through a meet without getting injured.  Hey, at this point I couldn't argue.  And yeah, that weighed on me.  I'd grown very tired of putting in the time, money, and effort it takes to compete only to walk away injured and disappointed over and over again.

My training wasn't great going into this meet.  The last five weeks of training I had this excruciating pain in my biceps that came on every time I squatted or benched.  I had one bench session in that time where I was able to bench over 405 for reps because of the pain in my arms.  It's NOT elbow related for those that keep offering up advice.  I know how to fix elbow problems.  This is a pain that radiates down through both biceps and is so severe it causes my hands to shake and actually makes me nauseous at times.  I think I am on the verge of figuring out what it is, and will get treatment for it soon.

So my training cycle going into the meet was very hit and miss because of the pain.

Because of the previous injuries and this nagging ache in my arms, I finally made a decision to do something that I wished I had done all the times before I had competed.  And that is, just go in and have fun.  No pressure, no worries about numbers.  Try not to get inured, and just enjoy my time there with friends and the experience that is Relentless.

Helping to make that happen was my buddy, Kevin Smith.  I met Kevin last year at Relentless and he was a guy that, after I suffered my injury, offered up some very encouraging words that really stuck with me that day.  Kevin and his wife Mary offered up their spare room for me to stay in while I was there.  This took a lot of pressure off of the usual travel bit of getting a cab, or a car, then checking in to the hotel, then finding my way to the meet the next day, etc.  Not only that, but I'd get time with someone I consider a good friend, and relax during my time there.

Because it's me, I couldn't get through this process without something bad happening.  The day before the meet I felt completely awful.  My eye was watering and was hurting badly, and overall I felt lethargic and like I needed to lay down all day.  By that evening I knew something was wrong, and asked Kevin if he'd take me to an urgent care clinic to get it looked at.  Normally, I'd just suck it up and deal with it, but I didn't want to go into the meet feeling like shit this time.

Turns out I had an allergy related eye infection in both eyes.  The doc gave me some drops for it, and Kevin, being the sweetheart that he is, put them in for me.  I have never had contacts so putting in eye drops is like fucking impossible for me.  I just blink and blink and blink the whole time, and never actually get them in.  So Kevin was nice enough to handle this for me.

I will say that I did some things differently this time for the meet, and I do believe they helped play a part in me performing better.

For one, I didn't do a weight cut.  This was a huge amount of pressure taken off.  Not only from a feeling miserable standpoint, but from a worrying about injury standpoint.  Some guys do just fine with weight cuts, but I don't appear to be one of those guys.  Instead, I ate UP going into the meet.  I was about 262 or so two weeks out from the meet, and on meet day I weighed in at 271.  I also didn't eat junk, or stuff myself full of processed food.  I simply ate all the clean carbs I wanted.  I personally think that doing the whole "let's get bloated - stuff myself full of processed shit" isn't a great idea.  Even if it gets your bloated and you weigh more, you tend to feel like shit.  My sleep the last week and a half going into the meet was awful so I didn't need to add on something else that was going to make me feel terrible.

The night before the meet, I also felt like my food wasn't digesting very well, and that it was all just sitting right in my stomach.  My arms and legs felt "flat", while my midsection looked like I had swallowed a basketball.  If you ever get this, the remedy is to do a light workout to get some blood moving into those areas.  Which I did earlier in the day.  However it didn't seem to help quite enough.  By chance, I figured out that a long hot shower helps as well.  I took one that night, and within an hour or so, my arms and legs had filled out quite nicely again.  

Meet day - 

The day of the meet, I ate very little that morning.  I used to load up on this big breakfast because you know, I was going to be lifting all day.  But in retrospect I honestly feel like that bogged me down and would make me feel quite lethargic all morning.  All I had this time was one (yes ONE) egg delight from McDonald's and some coffee.

I was in the first flight of squatting, and we were slated to start at 9 a.m.  I LOATHE lifting that early.  So I didn't feel good about that either.  I tend to lift around 11:30 a.m. or noon most days.  Sometimes later.  I know 9 a.m. isn't "early" but it's early for lifting for me.  But that was the line up, so I had to roll with it.

Another thing I did was go back to my own rule of opening really light.  It's a rule I bitch at people about but sort of got away from it myself the last couple of meets.  And well, that's dumb on my part.  Someone once told me in regards to opening light "that's a wasted attempt."  Honestly, that's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard or read about picking attempts.  The only wasted attempt is the one you don't get.  Opening light has a million benefits and virtually no drawbacks.  It allows you judge the lifting environment (platform could be shaky, bench feels weird, etc), and to get the nerves out.

So I opened on squats at a measly 550, and of course crushed that very easily.  However, I did get a bit on my toes so it wasn't as fast as it could have been.  I chose 600 for my second, and apparently it was faster than 550, as when I got to the table to call my third Donnie Thompson goes "you're going 650 right?"  Because I wanted to stay conservative and get out of this meet unscathed, I called for 630 instead.  As I walked off, Brandon Lilly came up to me and goes "You call 650 for your third?"  I told him I was staying conservative, and he said he didn't think that was a bad call, but that my 600 was so fast that he would have called at least 640.

Before I could get down the hallway, another guy asked me if I was going 650 for my this point I started to wonder if I had made the right call.  But I stuck with it, and came back and squatted the 630 incredibly easy.  So much so that after I watched the video, I knew why everyone was saying to call 650.  660 would have been doable as well.  But, 630 was still a nice little meet PR, and I got all three squats in with no issues.  So I was content.

The only bad part was, my arm pain was back in full force at this point, so I knew benching was going to be rough.

Because the meet was so big, and there were five flights, and an intermission, it was four hours or so before we even started warming up to bench.  That was enough time to let some of the pain die down, but even on warm ups it was agonizing.  I figured that I could still get in my opener of 405, and call it a day of benching if I had to.  My last warm up was 365 and made my biceps feel as if they were going to explode.

A fellow lifter had been dealing with the same issue months before and he and I talked about just getting in the bench opener and if shit felt rough to shut it down.  In my mind, I'm thinking this is a good idea.  However I know me.  And in my head I'm thinking "well, nothing is going to tear, so I might as well just gut it out."

I opened at 405, and for whatever reason, the pain on that one wasn't so bad and smoked it.  This gave me a glimmer of hope that it was possible the powerlifting gods might smile on me for the day and let me get in three good attempts.  I called for 440 on my second.  Somewhere between 405 and 440 I apparently pissed the gods off again because the pain returned full force at 440.  I pressed it easily but the pain took quite a bit out of me.  I called for 450 on my third, as not to make a big jump and just get all three benches in.  The pain on the descent of the third was about a million times worse than the 440 and I was just spent at that point.  It came off my chest very fast but I just couldn't finish.  I was spent at that point.

This was really the only disappointing part of the meet for me.  The way training had gone months earlier I knew I'd be right around 480 or better for the meet.  I had hit 405x7 with all reps paused, with at least another rep in the tank.  So I knew I'd be very close to 500 based on my training numbers.

Still, I wasn't injured and had a 440 on the books for the day.

Luckily, it was another 100 hours before we deadlifted (I literally think it was 12 hours after we first squatted) so once again I had a chance to let the pain subside a bit before we would pull.  Again, warm ups didn't feel great.  I pulled 225, 315, 405, 500, then 585 and planned on opening at 635.  The 585 didn't move in warm ups like I had hoped so I knew I'd just have to wait and see how 635 moved and go from there.

Fortunately, the 635 flew off the floor, and JJ asked me if I was going to actually put some weight on the bar for my deadlifts.  When I got to the table, Donnie asked me "700?".  I said "680."  Donnie rolled his eyes at me.  Why 680?  I figured I could pull an easy 680 and get 1750 on the books for the day, and then take a big jump for my third.  At that point, Brandon called me over and goes "you're going 700 right?"

"680" I said.

"Dude, why?"

I told him my reasoning and Brandon basically told me I had to go 700.  I related him my story earlier about the squat and he said "so you have Donnie Thompson and myself both telling you to go 650, and you ignored it, and now 700.  What are you gonna do?"

I walked back to the table and called 700.

Of course I pulled it.  I honestly had no doubt in my mind.  Regardless of what you have read on the internet or how hard you've stuck to jokes from two years ago because you're an idiot, I've pulled 700+ in the gym several times now.

I probably could have gone 710 with no issue, but getting the 700 actually on the books was fine, and I ended the day with 1770, no wraps....and most importantly, no injuries.

Most importantly, I did it at an event where it really matters to me.  I came back after a year filled with a lot of doubt and trepidation and put together my best meet to date.  I have no doubt that without my arm pain and well, listening to a few other people I could have gone 660 - 480 - 710.  That's 1850 with no belt, and very respectable in my opinion.

Thanks - 

I have so many people I want to thank.

Most importantly, Tommy Westoff and JJ Thomas for putting this thing together.  I can't imagine the kind of time and effort the put in behind the scenes to make all of this happen.  This event raised 214K dollars for the families in this cause, and while the day is long and grueling, it's really something special to be a part of.  As I noted earlier, if you aren't involved in it, do so.  You won't regret it and you'll walk away with probably the best experience you'll ever have in regards to powerlifting.

Kevin and Mary Smith for being who they are, and the kind of people they are.  To let my sorry ass come and reside in their home for an entire weekend takes a tremendous amount of courage, and taking care of me.

I want to thank Chad Dresden for plotting out his entire day just to hang out.  Chad has become a close friend that I care a lot about and we hadn't seen each other since last year.  So it meant a lot for him to take that time out just to see me.

I also want to thank Andy Grimm, who had a nice day going until he tore his bicep deadlifting.  Andy gave me a lot of mental support as he had been dealing with the same arm pain I had a few months before.  

It was awesome to see so many people I know.  Donnie T, Scott Cartwright, Matt Kroc, Rob Luyando, Jay Ashman, Shawn Frankle, Marshall Johnson, Theresa Foy, Brian Carroll, Dave Douglas, Brandon Lilly, and a ton of others I am sure I forgot.  If I did, I apologize and it's not because you're not important.  There's just so many people to remember.

It was also a pleasure meeting Mark Miller, Shana Ratcliff, Weston Riddle (who had a phenomenal day and has a bright future), Dan Dalenburg (who I had met last year but never talked to) who also had a nice day with a 2K total.

I'm sure I'm missing people left and right and I apologize again if I left anyone out.

I would like to say thank you to everyone that came up and introduced themselves.  That always means a lot to me.  

Last but not least, thanks to the two biggest pieces of shit I know.  Swede and Pegg, who no matter what always have my back, always have an ear to lend, and who I love like the brothers I never had.

Furry, we all missed you a ton.  Get well soon and let's get the gang back together for next year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

You don't lift like me, therefore, you should die

I cringe when I have to start an article with "back in the day."

For a myriad of reasons.

For one, it makes me feel old.  I'll be....well, I have a birthday in a few months and it's one of those significant ones.  And by significant the second number has a zero in it.  And the first number isn't a 2 or 3.  However, it's not a 7 or a 9 either.  Although I will admit if I were turning 90, I'd literally be the sexiest 90 year old that ever walked the face of the Earth.  Maybe I should run with that from now on when someone asks me how old I am.

"Fuckin, ninety!  Not even in a diaper yet!"

Where was I?

Oh yeah....back in the day, and by back in the day I mean back in the 70's, the entire bodybuilding and strength culture and all the various subcultures had a very different look and feel than it has today.  I'm not talking about fashion either.  That shit back then was atrocious.  I don't give a damn what you say or how much you love nostalgia.  There is a reason shit goes out of style, comes back in, and then people go "ok, ok yeah it was stupid."  

I'm talking about the manner of respect, camaraderie, and admiration that each of those groups had for each other.  Bodybuilders did powerlifting.  Powerlifters did bodybuilding training, and all of those guys found that there was something that they all had in common, regardless of the differences that separated them.  Which of course was the love of the barbell; the clanging and bangin (kudos to The Rock for coming up with such an awesome term for lifting) was something they all shared and appreciated in a togetherness kinda way (cue kumbaya).  

Perhaps I'm wrong.  Perhaps it was all a big facade and all of those guys really hated each other, and were fake as hell.

Wait.  No that can't be right, because that would be more like it is today.

And that is....splintered.

In a time where we can share more freely with each other via the net, we've instead found a medium that serves a far better purpose.  To hate the living shit out of each other.

If you don't think so, Google crossfit and see how long it takes you to find a link to an article overflowing with viotrol.

In fact, at this point any anti-Crossfit article just looks like click bait to me, and I'm done with it.  I feel like at this point, the entire lifting culture is straight out the Chapelle player haters ball skit.

"What can be said about Crossfit that hasn't already been said about Afghanistan?"

But you can easily substitute Crossfit for powerlifting, bodybuilding, physique, bikini, mens physique, and strongman.

Find a message board dedicated to each endeavour and it won't take long until you find pages and pages dedicated to tearing people apart both in regards to their performance, and them personally.  Nevermind that 99% of the posting in such places don't really know the people they are talking shit about.  That isn't relevant.  It's the net.  I know you because, well, I read some shit you wrote, and disagreed.  And "I disagree" just isn't enough to get attention anymore.  No, that's very sophomoric.

"I hate that fucking asshole so much.  And I hope he gets torn limb from limb by a hippo that has gone crazy from hepatitis Z, but doesn't actually die from it.  He gets saved by some African tribe that manages to sew his arms to his know, so he can finally find it because he's so fucking stupid, and that they shove his penis in his mouth and glue his lips shut with poison dart frog secretion."

Of course, the venom spewed like that was over a comment laden with vileness, such as.....

"I thought your squat was a little high on that third attempt."

Such a comment cannot be tolerated, and must be met with enough hatred that would make Pol Pot back away saying...."God damn, son!"  

For a culture that is supposedly filled with a bunch of strong and capable people, I see a lot of hatred over a lot of nonsense.  Admittedly, I used to be game to this.  But that's been quite a while ago, and I publicly want no part of slamming people like that.  It literally serves no purpose.

But I don't think this just an American thing either.

When I was hanging with Dmitry he said that over in Russia there is a lot of discord between Oly guys, bodybuilders, and powerlifters.  That they don't associate with each other, and don't have a lot of love for each other.

"I don't know why.  We all do similar things.  You know?  We pick up weights.  It's good."

Yeah, Klokov basically said "I pick things up and put them down.  So do you.  So it's all good."

Perceptions gone wrong - 

I remember when I used to see this dude doing deadlifts on his videos, and then acting completely ridiculous for every set, and carrying on like a complete assclown.  At the time, I thought he was stupid for carrying on over something as trivial as deadlifting.  I would still watch his videos and say to myself "this dude is so stupid."


Today, I love Pete Rubish like a little brother.

What's the lesson learned there?  Your perceptions of someone on the net could be very wrong.  Your perceptions of someone based on what they lift, how they lift, and/or what they write may not be indicative of the kind of person they are, or aren't.

To used a tired and old cliche, lifting is something we do; not who we are.  That is, unless we decide to make lifting "who we are".  But I honestly believe that's rarely the truth.  

But most of us do this anyway.  We love or hate people based on perceptions that may not be reality.  And from top to bottom, what we see is a barrage of insults hurled at every facet of lifting.

If a chick does bikini, she's an idiot.  Doesn't know how to train.

Mens physique competitors have no legs.  Apparently they all served alongside Lt. Dan in The Nam and fell to a similar fate that he did.

Powerlifters are fat.

Bodybuilders are weak and narcissistic.

This woman is too manly.

That dude is too weak to talk about training and has never totalled X amount.

Show me someone that lifts, and I will show you a million people on the net read to tear them down.

Show me a facet of lifting, and I will show you a whole group ready to tear it to bits.

It's like we're all in prison ready to kill each other, and everyone in the free world is looking in from the outside going "ewwww, it sucks in there.  Remind me never to do that....lifting thing."

Judgement is inescapable in this world.  That's a harsh reality of life.  And the net gives everyone who is on it a medium to judge, and judge unfairly if they choose to.

Now let me be clear, I'm not advocating we all participate in sucking each other's e-dicks all the time. It's not that at all.  I just don't get the personal bullshit I see going on all the time now.

People should be open to criticism, but they should also be able to HANDLE criticism appropriately even if they deem it to be unfair.  Let me give everyone a piece of advice here.  If you put up a video on the net, you absolutely should not expect that everyone is going to love it, and tell you what a beast you are, and how hardcore you are, and that you had "9 more in you" when that last rep was a grinder.  

There may indeed be criticism.  I know, such is life.  It's awful.  I don't even say that sarcastically.  I think I get a lot of unfair criticism fairly often.  It's up to me what I decide to do with that.  You know why?  Because that's all that I have control over.  So long as I write, lift, and/or make a video I have to acknowledge that there may be criticism associated with it.  Even unfair, inappropriate, and unfounded criticisms.  But hey, you gotta take the hate with the great.  

More important than that though, is that I don't understand why as a whole, the lifting community can't just say "cool, that person is lifting."  Isn't that AT LEAST something?  I suppose it's not.  I see this same human behavior regardless of what the association is.

"You're not a Christian!  You don't worship Christ like I do!"

Sad, but true.

Maybe it's in our DNA to argue incessantly over nonsense.  But isn't that what dating is for?

I just think it'd be cool if we could all just go "hey....they lift.  Awesome."

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Monday, November 3, 2014

A Meathead's thoughts about life, crap, relationships, and stuff is available's time.  

A meathead's thoughts about life, crap, relationships, and stuff is ready.  

This is a collection of random musings, articles, blog posts, and status' about shit I've written over the years.  This was something I worked on for a long time, and even hesitated to do.  However, because I wrote so much stuff related to non-lifting ideas, problems, circumstances, and the such, I figured it would be cool to throw together a sort of memoirs about this stuff.  

I also didn't want to get pigeon holed as a guy that ONLY wrote about training.  Even in my training books I often wrote about the parallels between lifting and life, and tried to expound on that in so many of my articles.  

Well, here it is.  I won't lie.  I always get nervous and have to prepare myself before I release a book.  It's nerve wracking for some reason.  But if it were easy, anyone would do it.  Or at least, that's what people say before you do shit that makes you nervous.

I want to thank Jen Iron as always for doing a great job on the graphics work.  

I also want to thank so many of you who urged me to do this.  Without your support and encouragement it doesn't happen.  Every time I doubted doing this, or quit on it for a while, somehow I'd end up getting messages from people asking me when it would be ready.  So I want to publically say thank you to everyone who did that.  It really meant a lot to me.  

I also wanted to do this for my girls.  When I am no longer around I wanted them to be able to look back through this and know how much they mean to me.  And maybe understand a few lessons that maybe we never got a chance to talk about much.  Or at minimum, feel like there was a part of me in those words and in those articles that was a reflection of who I was or who I am, at various times in my life.  Maybe some of the words in there would help them through a difficult time when I was no longer around to be an ear for them.  

It took a LOT of work sorting through what I wanted to put in there, and what I would discard.  Imagine 4+ years of articles, posts, status', and other things I've written but never posted anywhere.  Yeah, that took a while.  

I don't expect everyone to agree with what is in this book.  I take some hard stances on things I have strong beliefs in.  Like being a father, and being responsible for your actions and the outcomes they present you with.  Some topics related to that are going to piss some people off.  But I've been known for that a time or two.  I expect criticism for these stances because anytime you stand for something you believe in, there will be people that hate you for doing so. 

I'm fine with this.  

I should have paperbacks in it at some point.  Don't ask when.  I don't know.  It will be on kindle in a few weeks as well.  I wasn't going to do this in ebook at all but I had a lot of people ask for it early, so I will...for now.  After it hits kindle I will probably pull it as an ebook.  The market is so god damn flooded with people writing ebooks that I want to get away from it.  Going paperback is far more legit.  

So without further ado..................

Why "functional" isn't functional at all in the PT world

Years ago, when I first started writing this blog, it was initially called "functional strength".

That's right.  I named it that.

Why in the world would I name it that, when the industry is filled with a word that has been bastardized to death, and doesn't really mean what you think it means?

Easy.  Because I wanted to redefine it.

However, I came to the conclusion that, despite any effort on my part, nothing would change.

The word functional has been thrown around so long in the personal training word that it has a meaning that can't be changed.

Functional, in the personal training industry, is often associated with combining strength and balance used in a simultaneous manner, i.e. standing on something wobbly while you do a strength training movement.

Because this term has already been thoroughly cemented, the task to overthrow it or redefine it would be absolutely futile in effort.  And the worst part about all of that is, it's never going to go away.  At least not anytime in the near future.

For some reason, years ago when bosu and swiss balls became popular, people started doing exercises on them and when they asked "why?", I suppose the answer from the trainer was "because it's more functional."

I suppose their thinking was, you just never know when you're going to need to balance yourself on a wobbly object at the supermarket while trying to snatch that last box of Reece's peanut butter cup cereal off the top shelf.  Without training for that task, you'd be limited only to the cereals right there in front of your face, like Grape Nuts and Oat Bran.

Plus, all grocery stores require you to stand on a basketball to get shit off the top shelf.  It's a mandatory test of your functional strength for real world application.  You must EARN the Fruit Loops.

Because you need this in your life, Alice.
In all seriousness, I just defined what function strength was several times over.

The ability to demonstrate or apply strength in a real world application/situation.

That's it.  Nothing more.

If you couldn't do something, then got stronger and could do it, then the strength was indeed functional.

So the next question is, how much functional strength does one need?

And the answer is, "however much it takes to accomplish the task."

If you do often find yourself standing on wobbly objects as you try to navigate through life, then yes, by all means stand on wobbly shit in the gym and do strength training movements.

My guess is, you probably don't find yourself in such a precarious situation very often.  I can't tell you the last time, in a real life situation, that I had to stand on a wobbly surface and do something that required a significant amount of strength.  In fact, if such a situation existed I would probably say "doing it that way doesn't seem safe.  Let's fix that wobbly surface so the rest of the job can be completed.  I really need that box of peanut butter cup cereal and I don't feel the need to balance on that basketball to get it."

So what movements are truly functional?

That all depends on what you are using them for, and why.

It seems like, to me, that there exists two extreme camps in regards to this question.

Camp 1 = "a combination of balance and strength"

Camp 2 = "only shit like squats and overhead pressing"

To me, the logical group is the one that says "any movement that allows you to perform real life tasks in and easier or more efficient manner."

This could mean that a myriad of movements fall into the realm of "functional movements."  Even movements detested by a great majority of those in the strength training world.  You know, like leg pressing or even....GASP....the smith machine.

If an elderly person needs more leg strength to make living life easier, i.e. climbing stairs or going on walks to improve overall health, and the leg press accomplished that task then the leg press served a functional purpose.  There's literally no getting around that fact.  The problem with the "hardcore strength community" is that they beat their chest so dogmatically hard that everything has to be about squats, deadlifts, and overhead pressing.  Then often ignoring that not everyone is trying to get as strong as humanly possible with a barbell.  There's a lot of people out there that need more functional strength just to perform mundane tasks without straining or aching to do so.  They probably don't need a 600 pound squat in order to do that.  Just more strength than they currently have.

For some people, the barbell squat or deadlift may even be bad choices to accomplish having more functional strength.  There are plenty of people whose job it is to help the elderly or people with physically disabilities that would never choose the barbell squat or deadlift as a viable option to increase their functional strength.  I know it's alien concept for some, but there are people out there that have short comings that may not allow for doing such movements.  In those cases, the squat or deadlift do not represent the ability to increase functional strength in an optimal manner.

However, I also have trouble finding a purpose for squatting while standing on top of a swiss ball.  Maybe if the circus starts implementing that in their gigs I could see that as a reason for someone looking for work that is really good at that shit.  Outside of that, I'm really struggling with finding the reasons for it.

I think we will always have trainers that ask their clients to do shit standing on one leg while while balancing the top of a toilet on their head while doing a rotator cuff movement because, well, it seems complicated.  And lots of people do in fact believe that the more complicated training appears, the more effective it has to be!  Confusing people seems to be very effective in the training industry.  If it's confusing, it works.  When the reality is, a great coach can take a very complicated thing, and make it seem very simple.  Both in application AND understanding.

Don't get sucked into the thinking that complex means better.  When in doubt, simply apply Occam's razor.  The simplest solution is most often the correct one.