Saturday, January 31, 2015

40 lessons learned

Well I'm 40 today.  That means I've been training now for about 26 years.

That's a long fucking time to be doing this shit, to drop my Captain Obvious statement of this post right out of the gate.

So in "celebration" of my most dreaded birthday ever, here are 40 things I think I know about training at this point.

  1. Training heavy is overrated for strength.  This doesn't mean training heavy doesn't get you strong, or has no place.  It doesn't mean that at all.  It just means you don't have to train heavy all the time to get stronger.  In fact, if you get an average of the intensities used in the most prominent of strength systems, it's between 68 and 72%.  Yes, you can get really strong using intensities that low for the majority of your training, and not feel beat to shit all the time.
  2. If you ever want to get great at a lift, you better learn to love it somehow.  Most of the lifts we are shitty at is because we dread doing them.  Your emotionally "buy in" to a lift counts for a lot.
  3. Train to get the most return on your investment.  I read a shitty article a while back about how you want to do as much as possible in order to grab that small percentage on your return.  In training, there will be a point of diminishing returns in regards to more time and volume in the gym.  It's better to spend 3-4 hours in the gym each week for 95%, than 8-10 hours in the gym for 100%.  Even more, you won't get that 100% because doing more than you're capable of recovering from generally means you get less than the 95%.  If that makes sense.  Find out what is efficient and optimal.  Not what is overdone.
  4. There are no absolutes.  I used to be very dogmatic in my thinking.  Most people believe that if something works very well for them, then it has to be the very best way.  After all, they wouldn't be using it if it weren't "gospel".  But the fact is, there are so many ways to reach your goals and over time, you will probably have to use a myriad of them.  Be open to ideas, but also be aware enough to know when someone is selling you bullshit.
  5. There are no truly dangerous movements, for the most part.  Only movements done improperly or incorrectly for your leverages.  Then they can become dangerous.  
  6. Mobility has become a very overrated aspect of training.  If you need 30 minutes of foam rolling and mobility work before you can even warm up on squats, it's time to quit.  
  7. If you have a lift that's been stuck for a very long time, and your technique is dialed in, then you simply need to get bigger at that point.  
  8. Sleep and water intake are incredibly underrated in regards to recovery.  If your sleep has been shit, and your hydration levels aren't fulfilled, then training is going to suck.  People need to make those bigger priorities.  
  9. There is no magical steroid cycle that is going to turn you into something your body cannot be.  There was only one Arnold or Ed Coan.  You have to have the genetics in place to actually respond to steroids in order to fully take advantage of them.  Lots of guys use big cycles that don't lift much or look like much.  Fact.  
  10. You can get a long ways on the basics, but for complete development you're going to have to spend some time training all the little things too.  Arms, calves, rear delts, etc.  Often times, it is your secondary and tertiary movers that are holding you back once a big base has been put in place.
  11. Women need more work than men.  Women have fewer muscle fibers, especially in the toros than men.  They often respond much better to more volume than men because they aren't generally strong enough in toros strength to stress recovery reserves.  
  12. Women also tend to get jacked on bodyweight movements more than dudes do.  This is because bodyweight movements tend to offer enough resistance for a much longer time than it does for men.  Women can get beastly on just chins, push ups, and chins.  Where dudes that are awesome at those tend to be much smaller.  
  13. The deadlift is not a PULL.  It's a push off the floor, then a pull from the knees.  I wish I had really understand this concept years ago.  Then it wouldn't have taken so long to get 7-hundo.
  14. Pressing movements are generally "maturity lifts".  They take much longer to develop than squats and pulls because the lower body is generally more "ready" to respond to squats, front squats, and various deadlifts.  
  15. Pressing movements tend to have better carryover to each other however.  Where if you want to get better at squats and pulls, you tend to need to actually do those lifts.  Incline pressing, bench pressing, and overhead pressing seem to give each other a boost.  So with pressing, you don't need to be quite as specific.  
  16. The internet is both a blessing, and a curse.  There is so much good information out there to help someone get better, but there is also so many dumbasses dishing out shit that it can get difficult to navigate through at times.  I feel bad for a lot of noobs that already have a problem overthinking shit.  Maybe they would be best served getting off the net, and spending more time in the gym?  
  17. If you're worried more about what squat shoes to buy than what your diet and programming look like, then it should be obvious to you why you aren't making progress.  
  18. Most people don't do enough back work.  And deadlifting alone isn't enough.  I have no idea why people think that deadlifting is enough.  It's not.  
  19. People in search of more muscle mass often miss out by not concentrating on the eccentric portion of the rep.  That's where growth lies.  Slow that shit down.  
  20. People overcomplicate the shit out of dieting, or eating to gain mass.  I have no idea why.  It seems very straightforward to me.  
  21. Most people love new trends because they believe they are missing some secret that has been eluding them from achieving their goals.  There is literally nothing we don't know at this point about gaining mass, losing fat, or getting stronger.  The main ingredients to getting better are not getting injured, being consistent, and making sure all of your bases are covered in regards to recovery.  
  22. It's not about IF you get injured if you keep lifting, but when.  
  23. When you do get injured, make sure to do a complete rehabilitation process.  I know so many guys that keep injuring the same area because they rush back into training maximally too quickly.  
  24. There is no magical "routine".  This annoys me so badly.  "I saw this routine the other day.  Do you think it's better than the one I've been on?"  Stop looking for a magical routine.  It doesn't exist.  
  25. Routines are only as good as the principles they are made up of.  If you understand a certain set of principles, then you can create routines for days.  You just need to understand how to implement all of this principles so that there is proper synergy within the routine.  
  26. Success leaves clues, but so does failure.  Generally, arriving at a successful destination means "fail - fail - fail - fail -----SUCCESS".  If we are lucky enough to find success early, that's great.  But failing will also build a lot of knowledge if you understand the reasons something failed.
  27. The best way to really develop a physique you are aiming for, is to set performance goals.  Instead of thinking about developing a bodypart, find the movements that work that bodypart the most efficiently for you, and create goals to hit with them.  As I've written many times before, your function creates your form.  
  28. Anyone selling you a "secret" or "new trick" is bullshitting you.  Walk away.
  29. The 80/10/10 rule - 80% of the workouts you will have are just "getting the work in" type.  10% will be awful, and 10% will be awesome.  Believe it or not, it's stacking up tons of those 80% sessions that mean the most.  We can't always explain the reasons for shit workouts or awesome ones, so consistency is what matters.  And getting the work in, over a long period of time, is how you stack a lot of bricks to build a big base.  
  30. Just because someone is jacked and/or strong doesn't mean they have a clue about training or nutrition.  Yet I see so many guys now that think because a guy can lift X amount of weight, or has 22" arms, that he has to have the keys to the kingdom.  It's just not true.  
  31. On the flip side, anyone claiming to be an expert, I believe, should have some "go" and some "show".  Just my opinion.  
  32. Most of the people I see that can't lose fat, can't because they are lazy.  And lazy people are always full of excuses.  
  33. If you ever accomplish anything significant in your life, there will be people that will hate you for it.  Expect it.  
  34. Emotional and life stress will often rob you of progress in the gym.  If you don't learn how manage what is worth stressing over, and WHEN it's appropriate to stress over it, then expect your life and gym time to suffer.  Ruminating over problems when you can't change anything serves no purpose.  
  35. Be realistic in your goal setting.  If you just pulled 500, don't talk about pulling 600.  Talk about pulling 515.  
  36. If you plan on competing for a long time, be fine with adding a few pounds to your lifts here and there.  If you can total 1500 and add 75 pounds to your total each year (25 pounds per lift), then you're totalling 2 grand in about six and a half years.  It doesn't always work out that way, but the point is, be ok with adding a little bit here and there.  Over time, it all adds up.
  37. I still haven't figured out a legit reason to completely max out in the gym.  With that said, I still do it every now and then.  I guess the legit reason is because we do feel the need to test ourselves now and then.  But it should be very few and far between.  Train, don't test.  
  38. Most dudes are fatter than they realize.  Everytime I read where some guy is going to drop 25 pounds and to 12% bodyfat I laugh.  Especially guys who haven't done it before.  They almost never realize how fat they really are and how much weight they are going to have to drop to actually get reasonably lean.  
  39. Learn to understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.  One is there to help you, and one should be discarded.  
  40. Patience and belief are still the cornerstones in regards to reaching your goals and fulfilling your aspirations.  Without them, you will quit, or sell yourself short.  Be willing to walk the road for a long time, and often times without anything manifesting itself in the way of results.  Believe to an almost unhealthy degree, that if you just keep taking small step after small step, big things will arrive.  
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mountain Dog - LRB seminar in the land of down under

If you're in Aussie, we're coming to you guys.

Total sleep, circadian rhythms, and melatonin

Anyone that has followed my blog or writings knows the demons of insomnia that have plagued me.  I sometimes have long periods where I have trouble getting to sleep, and/or staying asleep.

Of course, every Joe Blow that has ever had a few bouts of insomnia then offers up their suggestions without understanding, I've tried them all with mild to zero success.

Or so I thought.

A few weeks ago someone sent me an article on a breathing method that I put into effect, and low and behold, I went to sleep within minutes after using it.  In case you never saw it, or haven't heard of the 4-7-8 breathing method, here it is.....

After I liked it on the LRB Facebook page, most people reported back that it worked.  Some said it did not.  Because I am not there in a labcoat and glasses to monitor their 4-7-8 technique, I can't say for certain if it didn't work for them because they did it incorrectly, or because it just didn't work.  I believe these type of breathing patterns have been shown to have a profound effect on relaxing for sleep, but maybe some people just don't want to fucking relax.

But aside from this breathing technique, I've actually spent more time lately studying on poor sleep behavior and I actually found a lot of interesting things that I have began implementing to help me sleep better.

And because I am a nice guy (unless you read about what a douche bag I am on the net somewhere), I thought I'd share my findings with you....

Circadian rhythms/clocks -

I don't plan on boring you with a bunch of shit about circadian rhythms and clocks, but let's just say fucking your circadian clock up is a bad thing in regards to getting sleep.  So I will keep this simple.

The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour “clock” that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up.  When it gets dark, your body releases more melatonin and signals to your body that it's time to go to sleep.  When the sun comes up, melatonin production drops and it signals to your body that it's time to wake the hell up.

This is proven through science; thus we know scientifically those people that think they are vampires are really full of shit, and suffering from nothing more than reading too many Ann Rice novels or too much bulk watching of True Blood.  

Restful sleep generally comes back to something as simple as making sure that your circadian rhythms are functioning normally.  Sounds simple enough, right?  

Well, wrong.  Especially in the modern world.  

The internet and cell phones are essentially fucking up a lot of people's circadian rhythms.  You see, that screens you keep looking into a major cause in screwing up your circadian rhythms.  

LED screens and televisions emit what is called "blue light", and blue light is the most disruptive light in regards to regulating melatonin output.  In fact, light in general can disrupt melatonin output.  Your body needs the darkness for the pineal gland to function normally.  Remember, I kept this simple.  Your circadian rhythm is established via dark and light.  So when it's dark, your body releases more melatonin.  When it's light, it reduces melatonin output.  

Check this............

Melatonin concentrations after exposure to the blue-light goggle experimental condition were significantly reduced compared to the dark control and to the computer monitor only conditions. Although not statistically significant, the mean melatonin concentration after exposure to the computer monitor only was reduced slightly relative to the dark control condition.

It reads that the melatonin concentration wasn't "significantly different" however for the person suffering from insomnia night after night, it could very well mean the difference in falling asleep, and being up all night thinking about how they need to get their tires rotated that week, and what color they plan on painting the living room walls.

So this comes back to something as simple as manipulating light and darkness in your life, right?  And by light and darkness in your life I'm not talking about what side of The Force from Star Wars you lean towards, or your chocolate preference.  

Literally, how much light you expose yourself to in the evenings is playing a role in your body's secretion of melatonin.  Oh yeah, and how little light you have coming in, in the morning, will play a role in waking up.  

So in order to make this simple, it's all about light manipulation.  Well, that's the first part.  The other part is literally learning how to turn your brain off in the evening, and simply relax.  

The good news is, both can be done by you, but you have to be willing to make sleep a priority over the net, texting, emails, and that episode of The Bachelor you recorded last night that you've been waiting to watch.

Resetting your circadian rhythms and melatonin - 

So to get this out of the way, let's establish first that you shouldn't be living your life taking melatonin on a regular basis.  By regular basis, I mean every night.  

The purpose of taking it should be to get your circadian rhythms in order.  Such as jetlag or because your sleep has been fucked up lately.  If that's the case, simply taking melatonin won't do it.  As I noted in the study before, staring at LED and blue light screens before bed is actually going to diminish both melatonin released by the body, or melatonin taken orally.  So if you take melatonin to get to sleep, but find that it does not work, it very well could be because you're short circuiting the effectiveness of it by being online or texting.

Let me also add that there are people who don't appear to produce melatonin as well as others, like elderly people.  So it could be that you may need to take it more often if you have trouble resetting your circadian rhythms.  However again, if you do the right things to get your shit in order, taking it should be few and far between.  

So how do you put all of this together to find yourself back on the path to natural and restful sleep?

1.  When to take melatonin and how much - After going through quite a few studies, I found that taking it an hour before bed is NOT best.  It's actually between 2-6 hours.  Yes, as many as six hours before you want to go to sleep.  I haven't experimented with taking it that far out, so let's call it between 2 and 4 hours since that seemed to be the norm.  So if you would like to fall asleep by 11, take it between 7 and 9 o'clock.  Remember, it's to prepare your body to get into sleep.  It's not like taking a sleeping pill where you pass out 15 minutes after it's metabolized.  How much?  Depending on circumstance, between 1 and 5 milligrams.  Let me add a caveat here.  It's generally going to be 1mg most of the time.  3-5mg might be taken to help overcome something like jetlag.  Otherwise, it's 1mg.  Not 3.  

2.  Make your house dark a few hours before it's time for bed - This means turning off as many lights as you can handle.  I don't know why people have all the lights on for most of the evening anyway.  I actually like to light a couple of candles and turn most of the lights off.  Unfortunately because most of my work is online, I'm short changing that process by looking into the fucking laptop at night.  Which brings me to #3.

3.  Turn off all blue light devices a few hours before bed - This means no TV, no internet, and no texting, etc.  The old adage of reading a good book before bed really does work.  If you like to draw, or write, or paint, do that.  Using just enough light to accomplish the task.  But no more.  

4.  Open your shades to let the sun in - That's right.  You're not supposed to black out your fucking room so you can sleep in all day.  The body needs light to establish a normal circadian rhythm by reducing melatonin.  And sunlight is best in that regard.  So open your blinds and let the sun in so that this happens.  If you don't think this is the case, then think of all the times when you slept in a blacked out for 12+ hours and were still tired all day.  You obviously got enough sleep to not feel tired, so why do you still feel sleepy?  Because you didn't have a normal and healthy reduction in melatonin to help establish that circadian rhythm.  

5.  Establish this as a pattern - No different than dieting or training, getting quality sleep requires a pattern of behavior that must be repeated.  It may take a few nights of going through these motions to get you back into a normal sleeping cycle.  But sleep is the most important recovery tool you have at your disposal.  So make it a priority to do these things in order to take full advantage of it.  

6.  Use the breathing technique to get the mind to relax - Even if all of these other things are in order it's possible you may have shit going on in your life that make it feel impossible to "turn it off" so you can actually fall asleep.  Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique to get your mind and body to relax.  I also recommend picking up some "Natural Calm" (it's a magnesium powder) and drinking it about half an hour before bed.  This will also help your mind and body relax.  Combine that with the breathing technique and you should be good to go.

Bonus point - 

If possible, bang it out - After sex, men especially, release a cocktail norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, nitric oxide, and the hormone prolactin.  Prolactin levels are naturally higher during sleep, and animals injected with the chemical become tired immediately. This suggests a strong link between prolactin and sleep, so it’s likely that the hormone’s release during orgasm causes men to feel sleepy.

Women release hate, anger, and rage after sex and wait for us to fall asleep so they can think of ways to kill us as we are helpless.  

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

How not to screw yourself when dieting

A few thoughts on how not to sabotage your diet when you're trying to lose fat -

Not weighing your food - I have no idea why people are so fucking lazy they avoid doing this. Especially for the first few weeks until you can sort of "eyeball" your portions. An extra ounce of nuts every other meal could mean the difference in an extra 1000 calories for the week. For your calorie dense foods like red meat, nuts, and oils, it is imperative that you be precise in measuring. If you're too lazy to measure your food, then you're probably not too serious about your fat loss either.

Weekend binging - I may do a long article about this in the future but basically, your entire week of adhering to your diet can be undone over the course of the weekend if you're still not being strict. The weekends make it more difficult for some because of going out, family gatherings, attending social functions, etc. This doesn't mean you can't "live", and enjoy some of those foods, but a lot of people have no idea of portion control in those situations. What's the point in dieting all week if you destroy all of your efforts every weekend?

The reward system/cheat meals - I've harped about this before, but it's a big one. I have especially seen this in females. The whole "I did my cardio all week and didn't cheat so I deserve to treat myself." That's fine. But treat yourself within REASON. I think the cheat meal has become the most overrated piece of shit in dieting advice. The fact is, you don't need one. If you need one for a mental break then understand that turning a cheat MEAL into a cheat DAY may have the same effect as the weekend binge. Also, I have no idea why someone needs a cheat every week. You can't stay on a diet longer than a week without breaking from it? From my own personal experience, the longer I went without having a cheat meal, the faster I lost fat. When I kept it in on a weekly basis, progress was much slower. I would suggest setting a goal like "lose X amount of pounds before I have a cheat meal." That or a longer timeline, like one cheat every 10 to 14 days. You don't need one every 5 days for damn sure.

Not counting all your macros - You'd be surprised at how many calories you sneak in with shit you aren't counting. Like bar-b-q sauce or alcohol. I told a client a few weeks ago "whatever food or drink goes into your mouth has to be accounted for." That means if you're slathering a sauce all over your chicken or steak, check the label. A lack of progress could be because you're using a lot of sauces and over the course of the week these are adding more calories than you are accounting for. Same for drinking alcohol. It counts.

Not eating enough - The main reason I am listing this one is not because of what you think. It's more about cravings and binging. Too few calories can be self sabotaging because it can cause significant binge eating when the body signals to you that you BETTER FUCKING EAT. I think anyone that has dieting hard for long enough has had that hunger urge so strong that it felt almost impossible not to cheat and eat 14 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If you are dieting, you will probably be hungry at times. But if your calories are too low the cravings could get too strong to be ignored. Remember that fat loss and body recomp shouldn't be something you're planning to do in 2-4 weeks. Make sure you have an adequate time frame to allow it to happen gradually and systematically.

Depending too much on cardio - One hour of walking at 3.5 MPH for a 200 pounder only burns about 400 calories. That's one piece of cheesecake. So one piece of cheesecake can undo an entire hour of walking at a brisk pace. The body is made to be energy efficient. It doesn't expend a lot of calories to perform, so calorie dense foods can undo your movement efforts very easily. It's easier to NOT EAT the 400 calories, than to exercise for an hour to get that deficit. Cardio or various forms is a good idea as a SUPPLEMENT to aid in fat loss, however it should not be something you're heavily dependant on.

One thing I tell people is that if you plan on dieting or hire a diet coach, measure your food, eat ONLY what is listed, and then make adjustments as you go. If you don't do it EXACTLY as prescribed then how will you know what you really need to change if it's not working?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You can never outrun a train

This past week the fitness industry lost a long time icon.  Greg Plitt.

If you don't know who Greg Plitt was then you're probably some fat powerlifter who thinks anything that isn't related to building strength is stupid.

Plitt graced the cover of about a million magazines back when information by print was the primary source of knowledge building.  He was also a former Army Ranger and if you saw the movie "Watchmen", then Dr. Manhattan's big blue penis body was actually Plitt's body used in CGI.

So yeah, he was pretty well known in the fitness industry.

He apparently decided that he should drink some energy drinks, and try to outrun an oncoming train.  The thought process, from what I gathered, was that the energy drink was so powerful and potent, that much like Superman, you could outrun a locomotive.

Let me say that, it appears from all I've read and looked at, that Plitt was a pretty decent guy.  By decent I mean, I didn't find anything on him that outlined a sordid past of drug abuse, or killing hookers in back alleys.  In this day and age, simply "being" without causing harm to others is the minimum default for being decent.  I'm literally not taking a shot at the guy in any way.  I'm saying, he appears to have been a solid individual, and all around good guy.  I could be wrong.  I never hung out with him.  But I'm going off of what I can "see".

When I heard the news, I was in Wisconsin doing a seminar with Brian Carroll.  Brian and I were both confused as all I could gather at the time was that he got hit by a train.  I didn't know if he was in a car, or what.  Initial reports hinted at suicide, but apparently it's more tragic than that.  And by that I mean, he lost his life doing something really stupid.

And yes, that is tragic.  Because it could have been altogether avoided with just a little bit of logical thinking.

Before I go on, let me preface this now with the fact that just because someone leads a good life, and is a decent human being doesn't mean they are exempt from criticism, even in death.  Especially if their death were completely avoidable by simply NOT doing something stupid.  So let's get this obvious statement out of the way right now.

Trying to outrun a train is very stupid.

If this had been Joe Blow, people would have made jokes and said "Darwin award winner" and other such things.  But because Plitt was well known, and good looking, and had a great body (no homo) and lead an interesting life, people want to act as if it's in poor taste to say what he did to cause his death was stupid.  So here.......


Listen, if he had been parachuting and his chute didn't open, then that is one thing.  If he had been bungee jumping and the cord broke, that's not stupid.  That's unfortunate and untimely to me.

But if you decide to, for example, lay down on the interstate at rush hour and get ran over, that's stupid.  It's stupid because it means you literally refused to infuse logic into your decision making, and lost your life because of it.  Just because you die from a choice, doesn't mean that choice isn't stupid.  It doesn't mean the person was stupid.  They could have been a genius.  But the choice itself, was a stupid one because of the potential consequences involved.

I could sit down with a kid right now, and go "look, this guy decided to outrun a train and got killed.  How stupid is that?"

And my guess is, a young kid would go "yeah, that's stupid.  Don't do that."

But I have other thoughts about this as well.  So rather than belabor that point, I digress.

Where were his friends?  Where were the people who might be able to tell their friend "hey man, this is not a good idea.  Out running a train is really just, well, it's stupid."

Where were those people?  I do believe there were other people there, so I assume they were his friends.

I'm going to take this entire incident and apply a lot of things metaphorically to it.  So bear with me.

Enablers - 

I've written about enablers before.  Probably many times.

And enablers are literally the worst fucking friends you can have.  In fact, they really aren't friends at all.  They are the people that tell you getting in front of a speeding train is perfectly ok.  That it'll be cool, and that you're awesome, and you can do this shit.  Because enablers, at their core, don't know how to be honest with you.

They don't know how to tell you, that you're the one fucking up in your relationship.  They are the ones that tell you "she's just being a bitch, man.  Fuck her."

"He's just an asshole.  You're the catch here.  Cut your losses and move on."

Those things could be true.  Or maybe you're the asshole or the bitch.  And maybe you've surrounded yourself with people who don't love you enough to sit back and say "you are the problem.  Look at all the problems you have, and you're the central cause of it."

Because they are afraid they will lose your friendship over it.  And it's possible that might happen because you are too weak to accept constructive criticism.  I know, because I've been that person before, and been too weak and insecure to listen to the wise words being spoken to me.

True friends, the ones that love you, tell what you need to hear, and not what you want to hear.  They are the ones that help save their friends from alcoholism by saying "you need help" and refuse to drive them to the liquor store.

"Well I do it because he will just get a ride from someone else."

Hey, thanks for making excuses for your OWN shitty behavior.  Awesome way to justify what you're doing instead of being honest enough with yourself that, as a friend, you should care about the other person enough to simply say "I won't be a part of you killing yourself."

True friends are the ones that do their best to make you accountable.  They better you.  And if you're a true friend, you better them.

True friends don't sit idly by and watch their friends step in front of the various speeding trains that will go by in life and say "it's ok, you can outrun it."

They tell you, "don't do this.  The risks far outweigh the rewards."

In life, to get big you have to risk big at times.  But a good risk is mostly calculated.  You check the bungee cord for integrity before you jump.  You make sure the parachute is packed correctly before you get in the plane.

The sad part to me is, with all his fame and fortune, Plitt didn't have a single person there that could tell him that getting in front of a speeding train wasn't a good idea.  To Plitt apparently, it was a good idea.  And whoever was there, went along with it.  This is indeed conjecture by me because I don't know all the circumstances.  But that's what it looks like to me.

How many friends do you have in your inner circle that you can trust to tell you to stay out of the way of these speeding trains?  Believe it or not, you may not have any.  There is a saying that goes "if you wake up in the morning and run into one asshole, they are an asshole.  If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole."

Do you have the kind of people in your life that will tell you when you're the asshole?  I honestly don't think most people do.  I have seen so many enablers in my time that I understand why some people keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  They believe that they can outrun the speeding train barrelling down the track at them, and all of the people they hold near and dear to them, tell them they can do it.  Then they wonder when they incur so much loss in their life. And why it keeps on happening to them.

Why do so many things fall apart?

Why do I keep finding bad relationship after bad relationship?

Why am I never lucky?

Maybe it's because you keep making the same stupid decisions over and over again, and don't have anyone in your life that loves you enough to tell you to stop?  To give some tough love and just say flat out "stop being a fucking idiot."

Being introspective enough to understand what is truly our fault and what isn't can be monumentally hard at times.  Putting the onus on oneself means absolving everyone else from ridicule and blame.  And that is very hard when your life is in shambles.

But if things are ever going to change, or get better, the very first step to success should be a safe one.  Not one taken in front of a speeding locomotive.

RIP, Greg Plitt.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

LRB - 10/20/Life seminar recap

A few months ago when I was at the Mr. Olympia I ran into Brian Carroll at the expo there, and then later ran into him again in Caesar's palace.  I was sitting on a bench in the shopping area staring up at the sky painted ceiling when someone walked up to me and goes "Hey.  What are you doing?"

Brian and I stood around and shot the shit for a few hours and he asked me to come out to dinner with him and his wife that evening.  After dinner and shots (this appears to be a habit when we are together it seems) we departed but not before Brian shouted out to me, "hey let's do a seminar together!"

Sounded like a good idea to me so when I got home I racked my brain for a bit to think about where we could host such an awesome event.

It hit me that my friend Dan Pasholk, who owns Madtown Fitness, might be interested.  So I hit Dan up and he was excited about the idea of it.  I let Brian know that we had an opening to do a seminar in Wisconsin in January, and even as a Florida boy, didn't bat an eye about it.

I honestly never thought about the fact that it would be in Wisconsin in January as I live in Kansas City and I'm used to inclement weather this time of year.  For someone in Florida however, I'm sure I might as well have asked to do a seminar in the arctic circle.  But as noted, Brian never said a word about it and seemed genuinely excited to get this thing on.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

I drove up from KC and obviously my nav needs an upgrade as it took me about 8.5 hours to drive up, when Google told me it would or should only take about 7 hours and 15 minutes.  Also, I ended up on a toll road that was made from asphalt that had clearly been flown in from some third world war torn country.  Look, if I am paying to drive on your fucking road that shit better be like god damn glass.  I should feel like suddenly I'm driving a Cadillac.  Not riding a mechanical bull.  So fuck you, Illinois toll roads.  Fuck you, and fuck you, and fuck you.  Not even for $1.50 should I have had to pay to drive on that shit.  And don't ask me what road it was.  I don't remember.

Brian was flown in, of course.  And because generally two people often have opposing travel experiences my guess is Brian got a free massage from a Swedish bikini model that smelled like cotton candy.  He didn't mention it but I'm just assuming that is what happened, because that's what feels like to me, would be the polar opposite of my drive in.

I met Dan upon arrival at Madtown Fitness, and I must say, it's a fucking bad ass gym.  Dan obviously put a lot of heart and soul into creating this place and it shows.  A caged off area for powerlifting, lots of Nautilus machines that you can't find anymore, kettlebells, dumbbells that go up to 180 pounds, every kind of bar imaginable, and an assortment of goodies that any serious lifter would appreciate.

Luckily, Dan put Brian and I up in the luxurious Super 8 hotel where I was given a sponge bath by two toothless women that smelled like hot dog water.

The first day Brian arrived we went over to the gym and we both got in little workouts and hung out for a while to get to know some people and actually ended up working with someone folks on improving some of their lifts.

I also smashed into the back of Dan's car that night as we were headed out to dinner.  Apparently, you don't turn on red even though you drive like you're going to.  Luckily, no one was hurt and my car only got a few cracks in the front.  Dan's car, which apparently is part tank, had literally nothing wrong with it.  

Brian and I kicked off the seminar on Saturday morning where Brian went over the five points of 10/20/Life.  A big part of what Brian offered up was the principles involved in rehabbing his lower back.  The day before the seminar he took me through the McGill big 3, which is a birdog, side plank with a roll, and the curl up.  I liked this a lot and will be implementing it into my own training starting this week.  Brian took everyone through these before we started squats and deadlifts on day 1 as well.

Before squats and deads Brian and I touched on a lot of topics including our background, his rehab, how to set goals, and developing the mentality to be patient and understanding that becoming great for the majority of people will take time.  We also went over prehab and rehab ideas as well.

After that, we went over squats and deadlifts in a very hands on manner where we spent time working on correcting technique problems and helping with mental cues to those struggling on perfecting their form.

Brian and I both share the same mentality in regards to how we approach this for a seminar.  Seminars are for teaching and learning.  Not hitting PR's.  It boggles my mind that people run seminars and think they are giving something to the people in attendance by throwing weight on the bar and having them go for a PR.  First off, I can't think of a worse thing than for someone to show up and pay to learn, only to get injured going for a big squat.  Second, if you are forcing your body to fix what it was doing wrong  before, you're probably not going to be stronger in that new position/range of motion.

With that minor rant out of the way, the first day was excellent and was basically the meat and potatoes of what the weekend was going to be about.  We set it up this way because the Packers were playing the next day and many people had voiced that they wanted to be done early on Sunday so they could watch the game.  This sounded fun so Brian and I went with it.

Sunday we opened up lecture on programming, offseason training, hypertrophy training, and addressing weak points via either a technique flaw or muscular one.  Interestingly enough, Brian and I share almost identical philosophies in regards to getting bigger and stronger, so we were able to really build on each others points.  This was something he and I both wondered about because we never really talked about how we would address it if we had conflicting views.  Luckily, we didn't have any because as noted, most of what we believe is so similar.

After lecture we went into benching.  Brian went over foot position, leg drive, setting up your arch and setting up tightly on the bench.  I went over bar path, wrist and elbow alignment, and we combined all of this into making sure your bench technique was as efficient as possible.  It worked out really well.

Afterwards we all headed out to a local Pub that was filled with Packer fans, who unfortunately watched their team lose in a dramatic overtime finish.  Still, we had a great time and did shots of tequila to celebrate a successful weekend.

All in all, the LRB - 10/20/Life weekend was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot myself.  I can't say enough about Dan's gym and how great he was as a host.  I look forward to doing more work with Brian in the future as well.  He and I got along pretty famously and I felt did a good job of working together and meshing our thoughts into a single cohesive idea.

This next time I will let Brian drive, however.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Grass fed nutrient timing edition

I posted an article on the LRB Facebook page that is obviously going to make the rounds.

It called "Paleo is the Scientology of diets".  I figured sparks were going to fly.  And they did.

I'm not sure why it is that people behave in a similar manner to insulting their diet as they would if you insulted their kids and tried to kick them in the balls.  But to me, the response seems similar.  Full of vitriol and hate, they always have a white knuckled response and presumably shake their fist at the monitor that someone dare tell them that their diet is "stupid".

People take this shit very serious, and very personally.

It's just a diet.  It's just food selection.  Does it ever dawn on you that you're arguing with a stranger somewhere else in the world about what foods you will selecting at the grocery store?  I guess it seems rather silly to me to give such a massive fuck about it.

Is said critic actually going to meet you in front of the grocery, and you have to fight them to the death in order to continue on with your diet, or do you just get to walk in and pick out what you want?  I am not sure what it's like in third world countries, but in first world countries I believe that there is something called freedom of food that allows one to buy the food they want (unless it's raw milk, and then of course, you still can) at the grocery without persecution or suffering.

Anyway, here is the article.......

More than the article, the responses on my page made me chuckle.

I mean people get really fucking offended if you take a shot at their diet, or point out the obvious flaws within the make up of it.

To be fair, Paleo asked for it.

If you call a diet the "caveman diet" then well, you better be eating like a fucking caveman.  That means bugs, and plants, and killing your meat and well, whatever it is you can find to survive on.

Then there were people who said that Paleo was all about eating copious amounts of meat.  Really?  Where the mother fuck were cavemen finding copious amounts of meat to live off of?  They weren't.  But this didn't keep some spin offs of Paleo from perpetuating that bullshit......

From Dr. Jeanne E. Arnold, an anthropologist at UCLA.

"Nope, not much merit at all. People ate probably more non-meat foods than meat foods in every era in human history.

Ok so let's clear that one point up right now.  People in the paleolithic era were NOT eating copious amounts of meat.  And depending on geographical location, all of their diets could and would have been radically different because they ate what was available to them.  And what is easily available to people?

Bugs, plants, maybe small fucking animals you can trap easily.

"Paul, it's about eating as little processed food as possible."  

Ok so call it the "I don't eat processed food diet."

But the thing that kept sticking out to me was the "I eat grass fed organic everything because that is healthy" bit.

O Rly?

It's starting to come into light lately that well, this might not be true either.

From this article, which cited a study on such things........

I think this pic pretty much sums up what it is everyone is arguing over, or "for", in regards to making the grassfed choice.

That's it?

You're making the choice to spend that much over, based on some very miniscule factors?

Oh and this one too.............

The "potent anti-carcinogen" CLA story may be one of the biggest hoaxes played on the consumer because the values used to differentiate grass-fed from grain-fed beef are from raw meat. Samples of raw grass-fed beef consistently have twice the CLA content as a proportion of total fat than samples from raw grain-fed beef. This means the typical grass-fed steak has the same CLA content as a Certified Angus Beef ®, heavily grain-fed steak because there would typically be twice as much total fat in the CAB steak. However, this is all irrelevant because studies show when the meat is cooked, there is no difference in CLA content because a large amount of the fat is lost in cooking. Even if people ate the meat raw, you would have to eat 176 pounds of grass-fed beef daily to get the level fed to the mice in the original CLA study (Ha et al, 1987). It should also be noted that in the original CLA study 16 of the 20 mice getting huge doses of CLA still got cancer. The dosage of CLA from this study would have to be increased 182,000 times for an equivalent dose to an average person. The whole CLA story has been based on these 4 mice, making this result irrelevant to human health.

Similarly, the Omega-6 to Omega 3 ratio is an important feature of fat intake in humans. The recommended daily intakes of Omega:3 from the World Health Organization of 1.1 to 1.6 grams/day show it would require a person to eat 41/2 pounds of cooked grass-fed beef daily to meet the minimum daily requirement. Therefore, any speculation that eating grass-fed beef will enhance human health due to Omega:3 fatty acid consumption is clearly incomplete at best, and usually false.

"But the hormones they give the grain fed cattle!"

Yeah, the grass fed cattle get that shit too.  Not only that, you do realize that things like growth hormone are peptide based hormones and yes, they get destroyed from cooking?  So why the fuss?

"But grass fed beef tastes better!"

Actually, it doesn't.  And no, this isn't about preference.  It's literally biological.

There are a couple of reasons why grain fed beef has become the standard in the industry. Feeding cattle grain during a final fattening stage called finishing produces a very consistent product with a higher level of marbling than beef that is not grain finished. Marbling is the single most important factor in determining palatability and tenderness. It’s not a matter of personal preference, our taste buds recognize the fats in marbled meat and our palates prefer that fat. In every blind taste test ever done anywhere by anyone anytime in the history of eating cow meat, abundantly marbled beef tastes better than beef with little or no marbling. Corn does a very good job of increasing marbling.

As I really searched around, for every study that "proved" one thing, there was a study that "proved" the opposite.

So in the end, the fact is........we don't know shit.

This states it perfectly for me....the bolded parts I mean.

It’s also long been known that breast cancer risk increases with higher lifetime exposure to estrogen. These facts have led many to question whether the continued use of synthetic estrogens in livestock is safe.

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a different class of hormone that increases the amount of milk dairy cows produce. Some suggest that although rBGH itself appears safe, it increases the amount of other chemicals in the body that might cause cancer. So far, there’s no definitive proof one way or the other.

How much hormone is in a hamburger, and could it hurt you? The answer is, no one really knows. Studies show the added hormones do show up in beef and milk, pushing their estrogen and testosterone content to the high end of normal for cows. Whether that translates to increased risk for humans is the question.

“It really depends on how you look at the science,” Minowa tells WebMD. “Many industry-funded studies show no risk, but there are independent studies that suggest” a potential cancer risk from hormones in milk.

Hormone-treated meat has long been suspected of contributing to early puberty in children, although the link has not been proven. There’s no question that the age of puberty has been decreasing in the U.S. But some suggest that’s due to improved nutrition and health, not to second helpings of hormones in children’s diets.

Basically, as I researched looking at both sides the answer to all of this seems very much like a "we don't know anything for certain."

Grass fed beef has less fat (which means it doesn't taste as good), as a LITTLE bit more Omega 3's.  Not enough to warrant the fuss however.  But there's no real proof showing that grass fed to grain fed provides some huge health benefit.

So this all led me to look into organic as well.  And it's pretty much the same shit.

From the mayo clinic....

Organic food: Is it more nutritious?

Probably not, but the answer isn't yet clear. A recent study examined the past 50 years' worth of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods. The researchers concluded that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are not significantly different in their nutrient content.

So again, it seems like if you really take some time to examine both sides, there are no definitive answers.  Which means that people are going to lean to the side they WANT to believe, and use a lot of confirmation bias.

So far, it doesn't look like grass-fed wheat germ organic natural no-hormone beef provide some super benefit to my health that is worth the pocket book cost.

Eggs on the other hand, do seem to have a pretty big difference.  I found this same copy and paste job everywhere on the net.

In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.

In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.
A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.

A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.

In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.

The 2005 study Mother Earth News conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50 percent more vitamin E, and three times more beta carotene.

If you want to tackle all of these studies, be my guest.  I'm going to be blind enough this morning to go along with it and say that it APPEARS that the nutrient value in eggs can have a wide variety based on living conditions of the chickens they get the eggs from.  

But then I found this......

The study, “Comparison of Fatty Acid, Cholesterol, and Vitamin A and E Composition in Eggs from Hens Housed in Conventional Cage and Range Production Facilities,” appeared in the July issue of Poultry Science, a journal published by PSA. Its author, Dr. Kenneth E. Anderson, a Professor in the Department of Poultry Science at North Carolina State University, collected data for the study in 2008 and 2009. The study was conducted concurrently with the North Carolina Layer Performance and Management Test (NCLP&MT), which evaluates the major commercial layer lines used in the United States.

“The key takeaway from this research is that an egg, no matter where it’s produced, is a very nutritious product. Eggs from a range production environment did have higher levels of total fat than eggs produced by caged hens, but they did not have higher levels of cholesterol. Perhaps the most striking finding was that both cage- and range-produced eggs actually have lower cholesterol levels than previously believed, which has led the USDA to lower the cholesterol guidelines for eggs in the USDA Nutrient Database for shell eggs to 185 mg per egg, down from 213 mg,” said Dr. Anderson.


So basically, no matter what YOU want to tell me, and what study YOU want to link, I can find one that shows the opposite.  I can.  I know, I did it all morning.  So before you read this and go "WELL LOOK AT THIS LINK!"  I probably did.  And I can probably show you a study that says that study is wrong.  And then find a study that says that study is wrong.  So forth, and so on.  

Although I do laugh at the people that think that free range chickens are living some wonderful life.  They get eaten by predators and get fucked up in all sorts of various natural ways.  But yes, I imagine if a chicken had a voice they would prefer to take their chances in the wild open rather than be confined to a cage.  No different than people would.  However most of us aren't worried about someone bursting out of the woods in an effort to make us lunch either.  So it's all conjecture.  

In the end, what it comes back to is your own personal choice.  Looking back and forth my honest conclusion is that, there probably isn't going to be some huge difference in your health based on grass fed or organic free range anything.  The only true to way KNOW, would be to get your blood work done while eating non-organic and all grass fed, then of course, fuck yourself up (supposedly) with non-organic, grain fed shit.  

That's the ONLY way you're going to know in regards to your OWN health.  So I MUST repeat that part.  The ONLY way YOU are going to KNOW for certain, is to eat grass fed and organic everything for say, a year.  Get blood work done the whole time.  Then switch to grain fed non-organic food for a year, and get blood work done.

"But Paul!  Grass fed wheat germ flax oiled beef is higher in vitamin E, CLA, and omega 3's!!!!"

Yeah man, we covered that.  Grab a really solid multi vitamin and some fish oil with the cost difference you will be saving between grass fed/organic and grain fed/non organic and you're good to go.  Not only that, but you shouldn't be eating beef to get omega 3's.  Seriously.  Just fucking stop.

You eat fish for that.  So have salmon twice a week, and you're good to go.  

My own personal guess?  If you eat the same foods, like chicken, eggs, lean beef etc. you're probably not going to see some massive health difference across the board.  That is just my own personal guess.  I could be wrong.  But I am allowed to guess.  And that's my guess.  You might see a few points difference in HDL and LDL here and there, but if I just had to guess, not enough to warrant the difference in cost.

In other words, from everything I can find it looks like the benefits of eating all grass fed/organic everything either aren't supported, or they appear to be miniscule.  We can weigh all the differences in vitamins and fats all day long, but the question is, are the health benefits SO HUGE that it's going to make a dramatic difference in your life?

My opinion?  Probably not.


Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Aragon on nutrient timing at the NSCA conference.  


Feel free to add your opinions or comments in regards to this. 

If you want to read the article referenced in the video it's here....

The only part I want to add to this, that I feel is important, is that it's been shown in studies that there is a massive difference in things like nutrient timing in well trained individuals, and non-trained individuals.

I believe I made a post a while back talking about how guys in the novice stages of training can still do a lot of shit wrong, and still make gains.  As you progress and become more advanced, you have to look under every rock in order to find that extra 3-5% advantage to make progress.  This more or less backs that statement up.

It's also why bodybuilders and very elite level lifters do in fact need to train and do things differently than guys that still have a lot potential left to fill.  So here is where things get stupid on the net.  The guys that aren't trying to get that last 3% argue about what is needed, and what is not, because they just aren't at that level yet.  So they don't see a difference in things like nutrient timing or using a ton of different rep ranges, etc.

"You can grow just as fine from sets of 3 as you can from sets of 12!"

No, you just really can't.  Not at an advanced level.  Because the body, at that point, is very resistant to growth, and is well equipped to deal with minor stresses.  So it takes a myriad of training "types" in order to further facilitate growth.  Not just some good ol "5x5".

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

The lost art of achievement


What image does that conjure up in your mind?

It usually comes back to two things.  Either a dream of something to be attained, or the acknowledgement of something unattainable or lost altogether.

Most of us don't grow up to be what we dreamed of being when we were kids.  For those of us that do, it often doesn't look or feel like we imagined it in the innocence of our youth.

For all of the people who held tightly to the dreams of being a firefighter, police officer, or doctor, there are million more who went on to become factory workers, mechanics, electricians, plumbers, and what not.

Not that there is anything wrong with any of these professions.  However, I can't remember a single friend I ever had in my youth that told me he wanted to be a plumber when he grew up.

So somewhere along the way, dreams get lost from the time of childhood, to the time of making real choices.  It doesn't have to be that way, but it often is.

Isn't it awesome to meet someone who does something for a living, and when you asked them how they got into that profession, they say "I always wanted to do this."

It's like a breath a fresh air.  I know it is to me.  To talk to someone who as a kid, dreamed of something, and actually never let that dream wane.  The passion they had for it, burned bright enough that they sought it out, and fulfilled it.

Maybe it doesn't look like what they had envisioned.  But the mere fact that they were able to actually see something through over that long of a period of time, is inspiring to me.  To plant a seed, and to watch it grow into something that actually bears fruit.

I don't know if you've ever heard of the chinese bamboo tree.  But it doesn't grow like most trees do.  It lives in the ground for four years, and then after it finally breaks the surface in the fifth year, grows at an astonishing rate.  Sometimes as high as 90 feet in five weeks.

Yet, if it isn't cared for, watered, and fertilized for those four years, it won't ever have the chance to grow into something spectacular and magnificent.

How often have you stopped nurturing something, or stopped caring about something and simply let it die?  Without ever giving it the chance to grow into something meaningful in your life?  

Have you ever been left wondering if it's possible that the reason that the reason something didn't grow into something great, was simply because you let go of it too soon?

You may not know, because at that point, it's all conjecture.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.......

Indeed, looking back for many of us, the worst two words we will ever have to utter are "what if..."

What if I had listened more?

What if I had been more patient?

What if I had tried harder?

What if I had cared more?

What if I had been stronger?

What if I had been more forgiving?

The thing that all of these phrases have in common, is the ability to remain virtuous while dealing with adversity.

So when we can't, we quit.  We make a decision that the amount of effort required to see things through, are too great for us.  So we walk away.  Never really knowing what it is we left behind.

Sure, we rationalize to ourselves that we didn't want it.  Or that it wasn't important enough anymore to stand strong in the face of adversity and not waiver.  Maybe it wasn't.  And maybe, we just quit too early.

Because the new year just happened, everyone is planting seeds.

"New year, new me."

Every fucking year with this shit.  And then the next year rolls around and it's a repeat of the same cliche.  And nothing has changed.  And nothing changes.

Getting lost in the thoughts of dreams fulfilled is fun.  And it's easy.  And that's what we like about it.  The ease of it.  To ruminate on what we want to be, and how awesome that feels.  What it would look like in our life to attain something we want so very badly.  But the actual attaining of it, well, that shit is fucking hard.  And it's January the 19th now, and it hasn't happened.  Guess I'm back to doing what I was doing 20 days ago.

Dreaming is easy.  Achievement is hard.

This is why there are so many 45 year olds walking around that talk about how they always wanted to see Paris, or wanted to open a business.  Yet somehow, in 45 fucking years, never found the time or the sack to make it happen.  How hard can it be to sit down and write out a goal?

Well, it's not.  Do it right now.  Get a piece of paper, and write out a goal.  Something you've always wanted to do, but haven't done yet.  Something you've dreamed about for years or even decades.

Now look at it.  It's right there.

What is your plan?

And that's where it all stops.

Dreaming about goals, or life fulfillment is easy.  Writing down goals is easy.  Literally.  It's the easiest thing you can do.  To write some words down on a piece of paper.  Unless you don't have arms or legs.  Then that shit is very hard.

The hard part for those of us with arms and legs, is the achievement of those things.  Because well, that takes effort.  The kind of effort that when it comes down to the nut cutting, you may not have inside of you.  And you may not have it inside of you, because it's either not really as important as you make it out to be, or because you have wish fulfillment for all the wrong reasons.

If it's the former, ask yourself if you're willing to put back money for it.  Are you willing to work extra hours to make that money for it?  Are you willing to invest any or all of your spare time in order to see this thing come to fruition.

If so, write out a plan.  And then see how long you can carry that plan out.  Days?  Weeks?  Months? It won't take long for you to find out just how important that thing is to you.

If it's for the wrong reasons, like trying to prove someone else wrong or to make someone else happy at the expense of your own, then it's even less likely that you will see this thing through.

The truth is, many of us want life to be easy.  That's exactly why we often end up underachieving, and let something die before it has a chance to grow into something special in our life.  80% of the people that will walk into a gym after January 1st, will walk out in six weeks, and won't come back.  Not enough for it to matter, anyway.  And certainly not enough to see themselves achieve the goals they were all giddy about just a few weeks earlier.

How many times we were willing to not see something through because we felt like, or told ourselves, it was too hard to stay in it?  That there wasn't going to be anything good that would manifest itself in spite of all our hard work and effort.  You want to know when disappointment sets in in regards to a situation?

When our expectations aren't met.  Especially when they aren't met in a time frame we deem acceptable.

"If I don't have that fucking beach body in 6 weeks then shit gym stuff and sweating my ass off isn't worth it."

Nevermind that you spent the last 10 years getting into a condition that cannot be undone in such a short period of time.  

Quitting seemed like the best option.  The most rewarding one.

But this applies across a very broad spectrum in our life, doesn't it?

I don't know anyone that is in, or has a successful anything that didn't put in an enormous amount of effort to achieve it.  Ok, so Dan Bilzerian has 100 million dollars because he's a trust fund baby, but let's throw exceptions out here, ok?  I also don't "know" him, so my comment still stands.

The one thing I do know that all of those people have in common, is that their heart was invested into what they wanted.  They desired it more than they desired not having it.  And isn't that what having something that is difficult to attain is made up of?


I read a great comment about the Chinese bamboo tree in regards to it's growth.

The question is, did it grow 90 feet in six weeks or in five years? The answer, of course, is that it grew 90 feet in five years. It took five years to grow the root system that would one day support a 90-foot plant.

If you want to deadlift X number of pounds, then expect to build a foundation to support lifting that weight.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes a lot of work and effort to put that into place.

If you want a life or relationship or job that gives you fulfillment then expect to do all of those things in order to make that happen as well.  

Planting the seed is easy.  Nurturing it into something strong and magnificent takes times, energy, patience, love, and sometimes...suffering.  Without those things, our dreams and wants will wither and die.  And what you will be left with is "what if..." and that piece of paper you wrote those dreams down on.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Supplements that "work" - Part 1

A few weeks ago on the LRB Facebook page I asked what supplements everyone was taking, and which ones they felt like "worked".

Worked being the key word here, but there wasn't always a description of what worked meant to each person.

Let me preface this with the fact that I'm not offering anything revolutionary here.  But one of the biggest problems with guys and gals that do buy supplements is that they buy anything new, or anything under the sun, and then sometimes neglect a lot of the supplements to do actually offer real benefits.

With that said, there were a few supplements that generally made the list for the great majority of people.  The next few weeks I will be going over those supplements and writing about what "works" means in regards to said supplements.

Fish oil - 

Fish oil was for the most part, on everyone's list.

I've used fish oil before, but probably not in large enough doses or consistently enough to notice anything special from its use.

So let me say off hand, I can't vouch for fish oil personally, but there are tons and tons of people who can.

So what are the ways that fish oil "works" for people?

Positive effects of fish oil - 

To start with, fish oil is heavily researched.  So to throw out the captain obvious quote for this article, we know a lot about it from a scientific standpoint.

To start with, it's been shown that fish oil has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.  For guys with beat up joints and an overall feeling of being beat to shit, this is a really good thing.  Anyone that lifts for long enough probably finds their way to the ibuprofen section of the drug store on a fairly often basis.

Seeing as how mega dosing with an NSAID isn't a truly wise thing to do, does fish oil opt as an alternative to dealing with inflammation in place of it?

It appears so.

From this linkage...

Of the 250 patients, 125 returned the questionnaire at an average of 75 days on fish oil. Seventy-eight percent were taking 1200 mg and 22% were taking 2400 mg of EFAs. Fifty-nine percent discontinued to take their prescription NSAID medications for pain. Sixty percent stated that their overall pain was improved, and 60% stated that their joint pain had improved. Eighty percent stated they were satisfied with their improvement, and 88% stated they would continue to take the fish oil. There were no significant side effects reported.
CONCLUSIONS:  Our results mirror other controlled studies that compared ibuprofen and omega-3 EFAs demonstrating equivalent effect in reducing arthritic pain. omega-3 EFA fish oil supplements appear to be a safer alternative to NSAIDs for treatment of nonsurgical neck or back pain in this selective group.

Outside of pain management, it's important to understand that there are a ton of medical issues related to high level of inflammation.  Asthma, cancer, depression, autoimmune diseases, and arthritis just to start.  This is why most medical associations recommend eating fish at least two times a week.  

It's been speculated that fish oil can have positive effects on heart health, but that's sketchy at best at this point.

From webmd.....

"Looking at the 17 randomized clinical trials that we combined, the majority of the trials -- especially the more recent and large-scale ones -- showed consistently little or no significant effect on reducing coronary heart disease events," said Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, lead author of a comprehensive review of nutrition research related to fats.

I read through quite a few other studies in regards to this, and it appears that while fish oil can play a huge part in reducing inflammation and has some serious positive impacts on brain function (though the reviews have been a bit mixed), but not so much in regards to heart health.

Either way, reducing inflammation in the body is a very big deal, and can play a huge impact in regards to overall health, and effective training.

It also apparently saved the life of this 16 year old boy, who had a severe brain injury.  Take some time to read it...

How much to take - 

The thing to focus on here, is the amount of EPA and DHA you're getting in per day.  Studies on the health benefits of omega-3 fats typically use higher amounts of DHA of about 1,000 to 2,500 milligrams per day, which may be required to achieve some of these benefits.  If you look around you may see less here and there, but this seems to cover the upper end of the spectrum in regards to how much you need.

Creatine - 

Creatine has been around for a long time now (since the 70's actually), and has been one of the most popular supplements to use in regards to actually "working" for people.

Creatine is converted into creatine phosphate in the body, which in turn helps to create something called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  APT is used by the body for muscular contractions.  So if should make sense that the more ATP you have, the more energy you have for muscular contraction.

There is also the belief that different kinds of creatine have a greater impact than others, but I believe that has been debunked.  So going with regular ol creatime monohydrate is just fine.

Loading - 

Most people tend to respond well to creatine by starting off with a loading phase.  This is where you take 20 grams a day for the first week, then go on a maintenance dose of around 3-5 grams ED.

Non-responders -

Apparently it turns out (sort of) that about 20% of the people who use creatine are what they call "non-responders".  They claim that they took creatine and that there was so significant increase in strength or performance from using it.

However upon looking more closely at why this could be, gives us some answers.

The non-responders in studies didn't have as much muscle mass, especially type-II muscle, as the other people.  The other factor was apparently that they were already pretty well "loaded" in regards to creatine so adding more in, didn't seem to do much.

Check here.....

In boring ass lame fucking scientific talk.......

Responders also showed improvement in 1RM leg press scores following the 5-day loading period. NR had higher preload levels of Cr + PCr, less type II muscle fibers, small preload muscle CSA, and lower fat-free mass and displayed no improvements in 1RM strength scores. The results suggest that to be considered a responder to acute oral supplementation, a favorable preexisting biological profile may determine the final extent to which an individual responds to supplementation.
The bolded part there is a sciencey way of saying "look asshole, you don't have enough muscle mass yet."

This makes sense to me as I can see a bunch of kids buying shit at GNC to "get swole" that have been training all of 3 months.  In other words, the container (the actual muscle cells) aren't large enough benefit from adding in creatine in the first place.

So if you are a noob, get some muscle on you first before you add in the creatine.  Otherwise, there is a good chance it's not going to do a lot for you.

BCAA's - 

I remember when I started using BCAA as my choice of peri-workout drink.

I had more energy, felt better during training, and felt like I recovered better from hard training sessions.  Of course, it could have all been placebo, but even if so, there is nothing wrong with placebo effect if it does indeed make you better.

I think half of that was placebo, but half was not.  Apparently the feeling of recovering better was indeed very real....

Data show that BCAA supplementation before and after exercise has beneficial effects for decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis.

And this one......

BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), particularly leucine, have anabolic effects on protein metabolism by increasing the rate of protein synthesis and decreasing the rate of protein degradation in resting human muscle. Also, during recovery from endurance exercise, BCAAs were found to have anabolic effects in human muscle.

If this is making your head spin, let's understand that what BCAA's do is increase muscle protein synthesis.  In laymans terms, muscle protein synthesis is the removing or rebuilding of damaged muscle tissue in the body.

After training, muscle protein synthesis is increased by about 50% approximately four after after a hard training session, and peaks at about 109% 24 hours after training.  After that it declines pretty rapidly back to normal at about 36 hours.

So the first 24 hours after training is the time in which you need to do all of the right things to make this process work for you.  And that's where BCAA's play a part in helping to speed up recovery.

Dosage -

I use BCAA during training and take in somewhere between 15 and 20 grams in that time.  I don't use it before, or after.  I generally rely on food for pre and post workout meals.  I have used supplements for this, but for me I've found that eating makes me feel better overall.  For the last couple of years I have used USPLabs version, in case someone wants to ask for a brand name recommendation.

Broscience - 

I did cite studies here, because I do believe they are important.  However I don't think any study is the be-all end-all of say in regards to training, diet, or supplementation.

We live in a time where access to studies and research is unparalleled.  And that's great.  To a point.

If you dismiss the word of thousands of people about the benefits of taking a supplement because a study says it doesn't work, then it's possible you're missing out.  Everything in training, dieting, and supplementation can't be narrowed down to a study.  It can only give us some insight to particular areas of those things.  The rest has to be "tried" by you as an individual so you can make a decision for yourself.

For example, I used chromium picolinate for years and without fail, when I upped the dose on it, I would get leaner.  Even if my diet didn't change.  But studies will say it can't do it.  I can tell you for a fact, it did.  Every single time I took it.  So had I only read a study, I would have dismissed it as a supplement that doesn't work.

The three supplements above have been both studied AND used by a metric shit ton of people, with great success.  So these are three supplements you can start with, and feel pretty good about in regards to spending your money.

Part 2 next week......

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