Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Simple isn't sexy, but it works

I can't tell you how many times over the last two decades of training that I've heard the same story from advanced guys about a common mistake they often made in their training or dieting, that kept them spinning their wheels.  

"Everytime I deviated from simplicity I made less and less progress."

And yet I can't tell you how many times I've read in regards to what I write about, or espouse, that I'm not offering anything "new" or groundbreaking.

Well no shit, Sherlock.  

I'm not sure why people believe that complicated means better.  But that often appears to be the case in regards to training, dieting, supplementation, etc.  The more moving parts a training or diet program has in it, and the harder it is to explain, the more worth it seems to have.  At least, on the surface or in some internet debate.

I think it's because people really love to debate and talk about training and dieting that makes those kinds of programs so popular.  These days, it seems, lots of people would rather talk and debate about training and dieting methodologies rather than DO THEM.  I literally had a discussion the other day where, of course, studies had to be thrown in to determine whether or not something was valid or not.  When in this particular case, all that people had to do was actually TRY what was being debated.  That's where we are at now, and have been for a while in regards to what is trending. Nothing is actually tried.  It's just all debated on whether it will or won't work.  

I watched a foremost expert in the field of strength training with more than 30 years of training some of the best athletes in the world defend his stance that doing antagonist muscle stretching before working the agonist muscle gave an increase in strength.  In this instance, it had already been shown in a study but the fact was, instead of just trying it, people wanted to debate it.  

People would rather debate about training and dieting modalities rather than do them.  And of course, the more simple a training plan or diet is, the less merit it appears to have.  Yet most of the guys I see debating about this all the time, don't even look like they lift.  There seems to have been some kind of influx of nerds into lifting now that care more about debating than doing.  Then of course, they get their panties in a knot when you tell them that your ideas work and you have a mountain of anecdotal evidence behind them to show they work, but some study says otherwise.  

At some point, we have to get back to actual results.  Because after all, isn't that all that really matters?  As one of my friends, who also has a PhD in this field told me, "at some point you have to get back to results.  Fuck your arguments.  Produce or shut the fuck up."  

I recently did a series of seminars in Australia with two of the very best in their respective fields.  I can't say who, as then that qualifies me as a "name dropper".  I never realized talking about the people I work with and talk with on a daily and weekly basis, guys that are also close friends, meant I was name dropping but apparently it does.  So I will say it was Bert and Ernie.  

Anyway, if there was a common theme shared between the three of us it was this - 

1.  Keep things as simple as possible
2.  The answers usually lie somewhere in moderation, not extremes.
3.  Don't deviate from what is working.
4.  Make choices based on what can be done long term, i.e. longevity.  

When Bert was going over his dieting strategy, I was shocked.  Shocked because it was so simple.  It was exactly what I used to adhere to, and I what I eventually came back to when the diet information overload got to me.  

For years and years, I thought dieting was a really simple idea.  You figured out your total calories needed to gain, maintain, or lose weight, factored in protein and fat requirements, filled in carbs with the rest and had your "diet".  This is exactly what Dorian Yates did during the years he was winning the Mr. Olympia.  

He simply reduced calories over time from 6,000 a day to 3,500 a day, and got shredded to the bone.  Of course he did cardio and trained, etc.  However his dieting strategy was that simple.  But people will tell you now that it isn't that simple, and that while that worked for him, it won't work for everyone.  

But because there is a new diet every few weeks in the industry filled with "science" as to why it works and is far more efficient in it's approach than the simplicity of "counting calories."  After all, you don't need a degree in nutritional science to use an online calculator to figure this out.  So something that simple surely cannot work.  That would mean people could sit down and iron out a diet all by themselves, thus making diet coaches obsolete.  Even worse now, is the diet coaches who use such simple and doable methods often get questioned because it doesn't seem complex enough.  There has to be some crazy method involved that other people couldn't possibly fathom on their own in order to get leaner, or grow.  

When Ernie and I were going over both offseason and contest peaking cycles, everyone was amazed at how simple it was to plan these out, so long as you adhered to some simple rules about planning...

1.  Leave your ego at the door - Don't plan your cycle around unrealistic goals
2.  Don't miss or grind any reps in training

Simple.  And it works.  

And simplicity is what has really become a lost art in training and diet.  It's not sex or fancy and people constantly bitch that "this guy isn't writing anything new, and has nothing original to say."  

I could make up some crazy ass training scheme or diet scheme, and use all sorts of fancy studies and manipulate them and I guess it could be a big craze but in the end, like a lot of fads that come and go, it would be seen as such and take away from what really works, and what people should be doing.

I think it's hard for people to accept that, to get shredded you're probably going to have to eat chicken and broccoli, and that to get stronger it's just going to take a long time more than likely, and you're just going to have to do the basics over and over and over again, but that is actually what works.  I could sit here and write out all the complex and trendy diets and training methodologies that have popped up over the years, and show that they didn't last or have any sustainability but that would be a waste of my time.  I've literally had to have arguments with people that doing more reps had far bigger benefits for hypertrophy than staying in low rep ranges.  Nevermind that it's been proven for decades and decades, and that there are lots of studies that show it's far more efficient.  

"No, you can gain the same degree of hypertrophy doing low reps as well."

You may can, but it's terribly inefficient at best, and pretty dumb at worst.

And for all the talk about people understanding what works and doesn't, I often see these very complex and dynamic systems pop up, and people get crazy about them, then they fall off after a while and everyone gets that they don't have merit.  

Then they fall for it all over again in a few months when a new fad pops up.  My guess is, these are the same people that spend money on trendy clothing and haircuts, get armband tattoos, and grow a beard because they think beard culture is awesome (yes I have a beard because I hate shaving more than having a beard).

I remember a conversation a few years ago where a guy told me that the naturally gifted guys could get away with just doing the basics because it was all they needed.  That the people who weren't gifted would need to train in a more complex way to get to that level.

This made no sense to me at all.  So then why didn't the naturally gifted guys also train in such a manner?  Wouldn't this have made them even more elite?  Like, elite elite?  Does that make any sense?

I think some of this falls back on special snowflake syndrome.  That being, if a guy isn't elite or competing at a high level or getting massive gainz from his program, then it must be because the program is flawed.  It can't be because genetically he might be more inferior than someone else.  His mom told him he was special, so it has to be true.  

And yet, as I opened the article with, even the very special snowflakes, the genetically elite often found where they went wrong was when they deviated from staying basic and made things far more complicated than they had to be.  So if the elite didn't benefit from getting fancy, you probably won't either.  

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Some benching and updates

Hey all -

Sorry I have slacked so hard the last month with updates.  Obviously traveling makes it more difficult to get content out but I have a lot of shit coming, so stay tuned.

I am still a bit jet lagged coming back from Aussie.  Going there was no big deal, but coming back has really caused a lot of fatigue.

Still, I went in and benched today and decided to go ahead and test my EDM for benching cycles because I am very fatigued.

Happily I hit an easy 455 close grip so that's what I am going to base my cycles around.  I am pretty sure I could have done a double here, so that puts my close grip at around 475ish right now at 249 pounds.

After that I did some guillotine presses.  I think I will do a video on these in the future.  I used to do these a lot when I was younger but haven't in a long time.  They felt awesome.  I went light as they do put the shoulders and pecs in a bit of precarious position but the stretch is fantastic.

I will be having articles coming out at flex, t-nation, and for Poliquin in the coming weeks so be on the look out for those.  Also, I was picked up by True Nutrition as a sponsored athlete and I'm really excited and happy about that.

Today's session -

Close Grips -
bar x 20, 20
135 x 12
225 x 5
275 x 4
315 x 3
365 x 2
405 x 1
455 x 1
365 x 10

Guillotine Press - 225 x 3 sets of 10

Flex Machine Bench (seated) - 315 x 3 x 8
Cable Cross Overs - 4 sets of 12

Db Curls - 30's x 5 sets of 20
Incline Hammer Curls - 30's x 3 sets of 20

Good session for only having 3.5 hours of sleep.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Keep up with me, Meadows, and Coan on IG

I don't have a chance to write long blog posts a lot right now due to my schedule.  But I'm trying to log some pics with some captions on IG.

Keep up with my Aussie stuff with John Meadows and Ed Coan on my IG........

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cardio - Muscle - Dieting - Three common sense principles

If you really want to get fat off, you're going to have to do SOME cardio - 

A dude I know wrote sometime back "if you don't want to show up shredded for a show, then by all means, don't do fasted cardio."

This was in response to a study done that showed that fasted cardio and cardio in a non-fasted state, showed no measurable difference in bodyfat loss.

Bodybuilders read this study, and because of their own trial and error, for the most part, dismissed it.

You know why?  Because despite such a study, most of them had gotten ready for competition several ways.  By doing both fasted cardio, non-fasted, and no cardio at all (relying purely on dieting alone).

And what won out every time?

Fasted cardio.

I actually didn't start writing this part to debate fasted cardio, but kinda like how you don't plan on plowing that ugly chick from the party who won't stop hitting on you, after one too many Schlitz Malt liquors, hey it just kinda happens.

Look the point is this, for every one guy you know that is lean year round and eats Krispy Kream everyday, you're not that guy more than likely.  And if you are, then yeah you don't need this part.

For the other 99%, diet alone is usually not enough to dip into the fat stores to get to a very low level of bodyfat.

I get it.  You don't want to don the trunks and be a bodybuilder.  This still applies to you more than likely.  And I will tell you why.  Because it's better to diet down to a lower percentage of bodyfat than to diet down to the one you want, because at some point, you'll eat "normally" again, and some bodyfat will pile back on.  If you get below where you want, when that normal eating resumes (and by normal I mean NORMAL, not back in a god damn 4everbulk mode) you'll end up where you want to be.  Not back in a state contemplating how in the hell you got so fat again after all of that work to get leaner.

Remember this, dropping down to a set point in bodyfat levels where you feel pretty comfortable isn't that difficult.  You stop eating pop-tarts, whole pizzas, and drinking regular coke, and replace that with some decent food(s) and in a few weeks or months, that 20 pounds comes off.  The problem is, most guys that are pretty heavy need more than 20 pounds off.  Or to put it bluntly, even with that 20 pounds off you're still too fat.

A friend of mine told me "every powerlifter thinks if he takes 20 pounds off he's going to be lean.  They all lose that 20 pounds and just sort of stop there.  And most of em are still fat."

I can't argue with this.  I know lots of guys that have done that exact thing.  They drop the 20, and feel pretty good about it.

Well the fact is, if you're 275+ you're probably not that lean.  So 20 pounds off really isn't a huge deal.  Yeah, you'll look better and feel better than you did with that extra 20 on, but truthfully, you still probably have another 20 to go.  And that 20 isn't as easy to get off.

And here is where doing SOME cardio comes into play.

There comes a point where lowering calories is not a great option.  Not if you still need to train, and recover.  So it's a better idea to create an energy deficit by doing more work, than lowering calories.

In fact, it's better to do cardio twice a day to get leaner, than to continue to lower calories.  And stop fretting about losing muscle.  This drives me crazy.  So long as you are giving your body a reason to hold on to muscle, it will do so.  Will you lose SOME muscle if you diet down into really super low levels of bodyfat?  Possibly.  But not enough to really destroy your reason to live.  So take the shotgun out of your mouth and get a grip on something else.  Like a protein shake or a dumbbell or something.

Conditioning comes easiest, strength is next, lean mass is hardest - 

In the grand scheme of what is easy, harder, hardest, this is how these things all play out.

Getting into awesome condition is pretty easy.  I'm talking from a running, jumping, fucking for 4 hours nonstop standpoint.

Building strength is harder.  But it's not as hard as building tons and heaps of muscle mass.  That takes much longer.

Now here is the thing, unless you're some crazy endurance athlete, most of your time for the year should be spent on gaining muscle.

That's it.  That's all.

If you gain more mass, you can peak to a bigger strength total.

If you are in strongman, you can reserve just a few weeks before competition for conditioning blocks.  This of course, gives you more time and energy in order to continue building muscle, or to focus those weeks on strength peaking.

Right back to square one, the more mass you have, the higher your peak will be for strength.

This gets lost on a lot of strength-only athletes.  They shun bodybuilding all the while missing the boat that no one ever got significantly larger, gained more muscle, then said "oh man I got weak as hell after that."


It's possible that their maximal strength output may have gone down temporarily because they have not been training for maximal strength, but again, simply peaking for maximal strength would have fixed that issue.

This is why I personally believe that most of the year should be spent on gaining mass, and injury prevention.  If you gain more mass, everything else takes care of itself.  If you aren't injured, you can train more optimally.

Seems simple.

No one ever got bigger by NOT eating - 

I'm using an absolute here by writing "no one" but in this instance, I'm fine with it.

So I will write it again.

NO ONE ever got big by not eating.  This is why I don't understand the concept of using something like intermittent fasting (IF) as a means to add muscle mass.

It does NOT work for that.

Does it have merit in regards to getting leaner?  Well, yes.  It does.

I mean this is a simple concept.  If you take someone's food away for most of the day, they will probably get leaner.  This is not rocket surgery.

I really don't care about "lean gains" and other such nonsense.  I also don't care about a single god damn study that says eating the same amount of calories in an 8 hour period shows no difference than spreading them out over the course of the day.

This is straight up fucking bullshit.

I don't know of a single hard clanging and banging mother fucker, that is jacked and strong as a mule's kick, that goes without eating before and after training.

"Well you can adjust it for...."

Stop.  This is just flat out nonsense.

I don't care about some dude that's 168 pounds sporting rock-hard infomercial abs.  I don't.

What I do know is, I've never met a single impressively large and strong dude that told me he got that not eating.  Or by eating in a small few hours window of the day.  I know an inordinate amount of dudes that got big by eating a whole bunch of food at every meal many times a day.  But not a one that did that in two or three meals in a day, in a small window.

It does NOT work that way.  This is where "science" absolutely shits the fucking bed.

Maybe for some sedentary individuals, eating in an eight hour window showed similar body comp results as the person eating 5 or 6 meals, but for someone trying to gain new lean mass, it does not work.  At least, not to any significant degree worth instituting such a ridiculous "dieting" strategy.

Eating is one of the main catalysts behind growing.  So let's be clear here, if you don't eat, you're not gonna grow.  And by "eat" I mean eating a lot, and often throughout the day.  Do not expect to shovel down two large meals in eight hours and get massive.

That's like expecting a porn star to be celibate for five years and get their virginity back.  It just doesn't work that way at all.  It's illogical and flat out stupid.

Train for stimulus, eat and sleep to grow.  Not "oh I eat...but only between the hours of..."

Conclusion - 

There are times when you have to put the textbooks and studies away and get back to working at the street level.  Without street cred, no other G's are going to listen to what you have to say.

None of that had shit to do with what I just wrote but I wanted to work some gangsta thug stuff into this article as I don't believe I've ever done that before.

Peace out.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Oz update #1

Some thoughts on travel so far -

When I got picked up by the driver at the airport, I went to get into the car on the drivers side. You know, because the drivers side in Aussie is the passengers side in the states. He said nothing to me as I did this as he knew it was going to happen, and had a good laugh at my expense. Totally forgetting where I was, when I opened the door I literally said aloud "now what the fuck? Oh yeah..."

People here in Sydney don't know how to get out of the way. I don't know how to explain it but they just keep walking right at you, and don't move. In the elevator literally everyone in the elevator bumped into me twice. It felt like being in a human bumper car ride at the fair.

People here REALLY obey the crosswalks. I mean even if no traffic is coming they hit that button and wait on the green man walking sign across the road. This is such a huge contrast from the Dominican Republic where people literally give ZERO fucks about traffic laws or walking across the road. In the DR, people literally run across the interstate holding their kids at rush hour. Here? They won't cross the road until that sign tells them it's ok. No matter what.

When I got out of the airport in Melbourne and walked outside, it smelled awesome. Not sure now to describe it, but it just smelled good outside. Not like a bar-b-q or anything. Can't describe the smell, it just smelled good. That's it. Good.

Because I am sarcastic, everytime someone asks me if I'm from the states I want to say something like "no, I'm from Transylvania." in a very deadpan way. I haven't done it yet, but it's coming.

There are some sweet ass rides here. I have no idea what the fuck they are, but I like em. I will grab some pics if I can this week.

I can't help it, but the Asian dudes here dress hysterical. And there's no theme going on, like all wearing skinny jeans or whatever. Some wear skinny jeans, and some wear....pajamas? I have no idea what I'd call it but the variation in dress is wide and bizarre. One dude had on flip flops and knee high white socks, with shorts down to about where the socks stopped, then something I can only describe (his shirt) as something you'd find in a young girls pajama section of the department store.

The weather here is great. Someone told me it'd be cold but I guess that's because it's been super hot. But to me it feels perfect since I got here.

I brought my shears to cut my hair and trim my beard, and had to get an outlet adapter. Well, I am guessing the juice from an outlet here is a lot more than in the States because when I turned my shears on, they sounded like a weed eater on steroids and it scared the shit out of me. Eventually, it got hot to the touch and the fucking blade on the underside of the shears shot right the fuck out of the god damn thing and made me jump. I'm telling you, it was so loud I was scared my neighbors were going to think I was practicing the Texas chainsaw massacre in my apartment.

I found a department store and bought new shears.

More updates later this week............

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

LRB in Aussie

Sorry for no updates in a while.

I've been swamped for the past week and a half getting ready to go to Australia.  And well, now I'm here.

John Meadows, Ed Coan, and myself will be doing some workshops over here for the next month.  John and I are doing one here in Sydney next week, then Ed and I go to Perth and back here to Sydney again.

I will be doing more detailed write ups about all of this for flexonline.  I will link it here when it gets published.