28 December 2010

A catharsis, a book review and some thank yous

I don't talk about music though the blog suggests I do, though music is as near and dear to my heart--if not more so--than lifting.  For Christmas this year my wonderful girlfriend got me a copy of Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir.  For a long time I hadn't been particularly interested in Megadeth, since I didn't think they were as good as Metallica.  I was aware of Mustaine's contribution to Metallica since the majority of the songs he receives credit for sound remarkably like Dave's other songs throughout his career.  He also wrote in keys outside the acceptable few used in metal, which is indicative of his style.Over the years, my tastes have changed, mostly because of Mustaine's sense of melody and harmony are different compared to what other bands of the same ilk have done, and because he is, in fact, a better guitar player than anyone else in the "Big Four," save maybe Jeff Hanneman of Slayer.

Musicality aside, in his autobiography Dave is able to look back on all the debauchery, 17 rehab stints, fist fights, general assholeness, and being in Metallica's shadow and laugh about a lot of things, which not many who hold grudges can say.  He can take it all in stride, and be thankful for what he has, and write about all of it in a humorous and sarcastic way, which makes the book worth reading.  Reading a few passages, you can definitely tell it's Mustaine, especially if you have ever heard any interviews with him.

Dave with his hot wife, Pam
On a personal level, I can relate to Dave and what he writes about.  I can work my away pretty well around a fretboard, I am a pretty bitter person, at the core of things.  I just don't have tons of money or longevity in the music business like he does.  But to have everything you loved get taken away from you is something I can relate to quite a bit.

From around 2003, to last year I was in a band, that I don't care to mention because to do so would give unnecessary publicity to an undeserving entity.  The other guitar player was a pretty weird guy, and when the accusations came that he did something heinous--not quite as heinous to land him in jail, but pretty fucking close enough to call him a pedophile--I was pretty shocked. 

I was intent on moving in with this guy and being his friend, until word got out about his insidious way of being.  What made it all worse, was that the band was at a high point, something which was a long time coming for us, especially after every fucking set back and personal conflict we dealt with.  It was then I had to decide what kind of man to be.  In psychology there is a term called "Cognitive Dissonance."  This is the type of thing that happens when you generally ascribe to a type of belief and act a different way.  Usually, people do this with no problem.  The problem arises when they become aware, and now they can't figure out how to reconcile beliefs and actions. 

Fearing change as much as I did,  I told the guy to get help, and I would stick around.  He agreed, and as with so many other things, he did not comply.  As his resistance to comply with that simple task strengthened, my grew more depressed and my training suffered.  Here's where my cognitive dissonance kicked in.  I feared change so much, that I stuck around against my beliefs, and it fucked with me badly.  I generally felt the way one does after they get hit in the testicles.

To alleviate the dissonance, I dissolved my friendship, quit the band, and moved out.  The last move crippled me financially for a while and I was a step above homeless most of the time until a few months ago.  For the better part of that time I wanted nothing more to see the former band fail, and for the few friends I did have in the band to get the fuck out.

Both of these things happened.  Or atleast one is apparently happening and the other has happened.  My friends got wise and left--I suspect that they didn't quite know how fucked the unsavory guitar player is, and had not endured like I had, so they stayed longer. 

I got over most of the demons involving the split because harboring that kind of anger isn't entirely productive.  It is not wholly unproductive either.  The anger fueled Dave to stay alive through things that should have killed him, and lead him to his success, which was hinged on being better than Metallica.

Having your life get fucked the way mine did also makes you feel like what you do is never gonna be as good as what you did, something which Dave mentions a lot of in his autobiography.  But with time you look back, and you get over these things and you can channel the aggression you had to do better things than before.

My training has gotten better, my guitar and piano playing have improved exponentially, and I am in the process of starting another band that will put to shame my previous efforts.  This was perhaps the greatest part of Mustaine's book--relating to it, and knowing somebody had it worse than I did on a large scale.  I highly recommend that book if you hold grudges easily, or you are a fan of music. 

In light of writing this, I would like to thank the people who were there for me in 2009--those of you who made me laugh, who housed me, and were there for me.  And thanks to any of you who read what I write here.  You all know who you are.   Thanks for reminding me that it's the times that kick the shit out of you that make you realize if you are fit to live, and ready to accept change. 

One of my last good times with the old band.  Three months later, the band (and the guitar, unfortunately) were things of the past. 

21 December 2010

Weekly Training Log

15 Dec

Squats- 135x3,3

2080lbs moved in 10m40s

Close Grip Bench 135x3,3

1870lbs in 13 minutes

32kg snatch-20/20 in 4m20s 2800lbs

Tactical Pullups- 3,3,2,2,2 2400lbs in 1m50s

9150lbs in 29m50s

16 Dec

500 24kg swings in 21m55s 26500lbs moved

17 Dec

Front Squats- 135x3,3,2,2  1350lbs moved in 4m5s

Reverse Grip Bench Press- 135x3, 155 for 6 sets of 2 7m55s 2265lbs moved

One Armed Deadlifts

135x2, 155, 155, 165, 185 all L/R  1860lbs moved in 9 minutes

Plate Curls 20lbs- 4 sets of 5 L/R in 4m5s 800lbs moved

Dips- 3sets of 5 in 1m45s 3000lbs moved

Snatch 16kg 20l/20r in 1m33s 1400lbs moved

10675lbs moved in 28m23s

20 Dec

Deadlift-135, 185, 225, 275, 315, 365, 405, 425missed, 420missed.  Broke the ground on both misses.   1905lbs moved in 19m30s

Bench Press, medium grip- 135x3, 155, 185, 225, 235,245 1450lbs moved in 7m45s

Dumbbell bench rows- 50,60,70,80,90,100,110 for 4 singles all L/R 1780lbs moved in 7m15s

34m30s  5135lbs moved

I had a blast on 17 December, which is why I did so many movements.  The PRs were in both my BP and my one handed deadlifts.  I am not too worried about missing two deadlift attempts today.  Bench Press is getting better all the time. 

14 December 2010

Apparently you are all the dumbest sacks of shit on Earth

Or at least a lot of the marketing I have seen out there would have me believe.  In fact, I have purchased books and services at one time because the marketing had me so scared that I would be in mortal danger if I didn't.  Let's take a look at some of these marketing ploys. 

If I go here and hang out with Matt Furey, some of the great things that startle me via a pop-up include "looking younger, losing weight without losing strength, and ending carpal tunnel syndrome."                                                                                
I like his mustache
If I go hereI find out what makes a male a "man." Apparently, five one armed pushups, five pistols, a one armed pull up, five hanging leg raises, a standing bridge, and a one armed handstand pushup make a male a man.

At T-nation their writers--especially Nate Green--hype the shit out of their supplements and outright tell me, the reader, that I suck.  At least when TC Luoma does it it's hilarious.  Sadly, he doesn't write much on their anymore and the site has tanked.

This phenomenon of marketing is not new.  Observe this gem:

This is the ad wherein some skinny guy was getting sand kicked in his face by the bros at the beach.  He did what Atlas told him, got buff and kicked the shit out of the bros, and fucked the women later.

Here is an instance of a popular strong guy promoting a supplement.  None other than Eugene Sandow himself.

What is the point of all this?  These companies who make these products are dictating to you what you need to be doing.  They are telling you you have to do something or you will not be accepted into their community of users.  They are offering you a sense of belonging, and unity.  This reminds me of a street gang, but without the killing and otherwise extremely sordid behavior.

There is nothing wrong with buying shit--it's the basis of our culture and society.  However, one should never buy something because they are told.   Especially when the marketeers market to you like you are fucking worthless. When it comes to these products, you are given a goal instead of choosing a goal.  You are trying to fit yourself into a mold that might not accommodate you.  The goal for all of us should be to be able to think for ourselves and choose what is best for us and not let a company tell us.  If you think a one armed pushup is going to be good for you, or you simply want to do it, then go for it.  Use whatever you feel like to help you achieve the goal you desire.

Remember, once you start to live life predicated upon the thoughts of others, that life is no longer yours.  


Continued Training Log

4 Dec.

Deadlift- 135x5, 185x3, 225x3, 275, 315, 345.  All overhand, the latter being a new PR. 13m 2840lbs moved

Competition Grip Bench-135x3, 155, 185, 205, 225  4m50s 1175lbs moved

Dumbell Rows on a bench- 35x11, 50x8, 60x5, 70x4, 80x2 for six sets  9m25s 4650lbs moved

Plate Curls 20lbs- 3,3,4,3,3 3m20s 640lbs moved

9305lbs moved in 30m35s

5 December

KB Rows 32kg- 3,4,4,4,4,4,4,4 left and right 5m5s 2170lbs moved

Snatch 16kg- 30,10,10 L and R 4m35s 3500lbs moved

Pistols 1 L/R and 1 L

Swings 40kg- 100 in 7m14s 8800lbs moved

14470lbs moved in 16m54s

6 Dec

Squat- 135x5, 155x3, 185x2, 225x2, 245 6m35s 2205lbs moved

BB Overhead press- 95x5,4,4,4,4 1995lbs moved in 6m5s

Tactical Pull ups-4,3,3,3 in 2m40s 2600lbs moved

6800 lbs moved in 15m25s

9 Dec

32kg Rows- 5,4,3,4,3,3,3,3,4,3,3,3,4 Left and right 6860lbs moved in 8m3s

8lb sledge levers, half way up-5x4L/R in 4 minutes 320lbs moved

Swings-40kg- 120 in 7m3s 10560lbs moved

Snatch 16kg- 200 in 9m42s 7000lbs moved

24740lbs moved in 28m48s

10 Dec

Squats-135x3, 185x2,2,2,2,2

Good Mornings-135x3,3,3  185

Reverse grip Benchpress-135x2, 155x 10 singles 

21m40s 5475lbs moved

12 Dec

Press- 40kg 6 singles R/L 4m38s

Sledge Levers to the Face, 8 lbs. 2,1 R/L 2m30s

Sledge levers behind me, half way up the hammer 5x3 L/R 3 min

Swings 40kg 130 in 5m23s

11904lbs in 15m31s

13 Dec

DL 135x3, 185x3, 225x3,3, 275x2, 315, 365

Box Jumps 10,7,10,9,10


35lb 2 hand plate curls- 3x3

22m45s 6455lbs moved

07 December 2010

Am I overtrained?

Fuck no, I am not.  I got a comment the other day from someone regarding my deadlifting.  The gentleman stated the following: "Every time I see you in here, you are deadlifting."  I told him I wanted to get good at the lift and went on my way and hit a PR in my pronated deadlift.  It is now at 345, which is around 83% of my max deadlift. 

Typically, within the past month of implementing the gym movement protocol, my top sets of deadlifts have been in the 75% range and above, in relation to my one rep maximum.  Also note that the hip hinge--the basis of the deadlift--tests well for me five, and on the rare occasion I decide to train for a sixth day, six days a week.   This means that I can swing more, and snatch more, as well as deadlift heavy, all of which will improve my deadlift.  I focus on the deadlift because it will help me not have a delightfully dismal total when I compete in February. 

I can get away with this because I stop when I start to exert myself too much.  When there is misplaced bodily tension--this occurs mostly in the face for many lifters--and I have to exert myself to finish a rep, that is usually a good time to stop, the set, and if there is way too much effort, I terminate the exercise.   A better quality movement will provide more for me than a shitty movement.  Hence the testing.  For an analogy, what will be better quality?  Two slices of toast, with smuckers jam, or a half a pound of fish?  A look at the label would be a clear indicator of quality.  For your body, you test it.  The testing will let you know what you are allowed to do.  For instance, since I started bench pressing again, the day after, overhead pressing does not test well.  Rows, however, test very well, so I do them instead, and press the next day.  In that case, the variations of the press do not test well either, so I do not force myself to do them.  I have also consistently gotten better in pressing the 40kg bell when it tests well for pressing. 

Speaking of quality foods and movements.  This makes me love bacon even more than I did moments ago. 

How do we prevent overtraining?  Well, for starters, this is easy even if you do not test your movements.  You should rarely be sore from training.  A lot of people talk about how sore they are as if it were a badge of honor.  I like being able to move after I train, and the day after, so that I can train more.  If you leave your training session feeling like you got ass raped by a gorilla while his gorilla friends yanked your limbs, you need to reevaluate what you are doing.  Now, obviously you cannot go and start lifting with massive amounts of volume and intensity your first day.  You will feel like you got the fuck  beat out of you, and miss training time.  Ease into it.  My first days back bench pressing were short.  Rightfully so, I haven't benched in over a year.   And my man breasts weren't that sore at all the next day. 

Gratuitous breast picture. 

Interestingly enough, lifting heavier on a continual basis in a similar type of movement pattern is not new to Louie Simmons.   In this interview he states that he does not believe in periodization for training, or for steroid use.  In a max effort lifting day at WSB, the lifter is supposed to hit a PR in a  variant of a lift.  For example, a board press, or a floor press.  With that, there is no reason that the majority of other lifters can't do the same, whether you are on steroids or not.  

In conclusion, don't be fucking stupid in your training, and use some common sense, and don't listen to most people who inhabit your local gym. 

03 December 2010

Gym Movement Training Log

28 Nov

Snatch 16kg- 25,10,10,10 Left and right in 5m15s

LCCJ 50lb pair- 7,5,5 in 3m30s

Swings-24kg 313 reps in 28m42s

37m27s 21789lbs moved

29 Nov

Close Grip Bench- 135x5, 155x3, 185 x4x1, 185x2  2250lbs moved in 11m30s

Deadlifts, all overhanded.

135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 275x2, 315x4x1 4535lbs moved in 15 minutes

Plate Curls, 20lbs- 4x3 L/R in 4m50s 480lbs moved

7265lbs moved in 31m20s

30 Nov

Rows 32kg

32L/R in 6m45s

Swings, 40kg

130 reps in 15m53s

16184lbs moved in 22m38s

2 Dec

Presses: 32kg 4,3,3,4,3,2,3,3,3,3 L/R  9m35s (4340lbs)

Snatches: 16kg 2x25L/R 4m37s (3500lbs)

Swings: 24kg 300 in 13m31s (15900)

23740lbs moved in 27m43s

29 November 2010

Soothing Death

Thanksgiving day some family members and I pulled up to the outside of a nursing home.  The parking lot was bare, so finding spaces was not an issue.  When we went inside to see my grandmother the place was bare, with the exception of the staff and the employees.  I don't know how many of us she actually recognized, but she knew that she wanted her husband, and that she wanted to go home, and otherwise had a general lacrimal look about her.  Not that I can blame her.  Nursing homes--at least the few I have been to--generally have the smell of urine rampant through them, and a highly uninterested staff.  I'd be miserable too, whether I could remember anything or not. Combined with an atrocious diet, inattentive staff, and family members that haphazardly show up, the nursing homes I can vouch for might as well be a tomb for the slightly living. 

In the animal kingdom an animal will wonder off to die so that the group might go on thriving.  The nursing home is our answer to that, though the elderly person doesn't always make the conscious decision, and sometimes they want to live with their family, though "life" gets in the way of the care of the elders.  Part of the reason is the fear of death we have in this culture.  If we can keep them just alive to not see death, we can keep our wits at bay.  Only to put them in whorish makeup and suits when they die, so that they can still look as if they are alive.  I like to think of everything in a cycle--part of why I enjoy strength training so much--in the course of life we are born, we live, and we die, and we pass on to somewhere else.  Usually the earth, or as ash.  Think about your view of death.  I will leave you with this passage from Watership Down, one of my favorite novels:

     "One chilly, blustery morning in March, I cannot tell exactly how many springs later, Hazel was dozing and waking in his burrow. He had spent a good deal of time there lately, for he felt the cold and could not seem to smell or run so well as in days gone by. He had been dreaming in a confused way--something about rain and elder bloom--when he woke to realized that there was a rabbit lying quietly beside him?no doubt some young buck who had come to ask his advice. The sentry in the run outside should not really have let him in without asking first. Never mind, thought Hazel. He raised his head and said, "Do you want to talk to me?" "Yes, that's what I've come for," replied the other. "You know me, don't you?" "Yes, of course," said Hazel, hoping he would be able to remember his name in a moment. Then he saw that in the darkness of the burrow the stranger's ears were shining with a faint silver light. "Yes, my lord," he said. "Yes, I know you." "You've been feeling tired," said the stranger, "but I can do something about that. I've come to ask whether you'd care to join my Owsla. We shall be glad to have you and you'd enjoy it. If you're ready, we might go along now." They went out past the young sentry, who paid the visitor no attention. The sun was shinning and in spite of the cold there were a few bucks and does at silflay, keeping out of the wind as they nibbled the shoots of spring grass. It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses."

Fiver the prophet, and Hazel-Rah

28 November 2010

Weekly Training Log

21 Nov

Press: 40kg-2x1, L/R.  32kg 4,3,4,3,4 L/R

Swings:32kg- 3x12, 5x10 L/R

Snatch: 16kg-30,20 L/R

18,412lbs moved in 26m10s

22 Nov

One Legged Deadlifts

135x3L/3R, 145x3/3, 155x3/3, 165x2/2, 175x1/1, 185x1/1

Tactical Grip Pullups 6x3 (for those who don't know, the grip for these is thumbless and overhanded)

6570lbs moved in 24m45s

23 Nov

Press: 40kg- 2, 8x1 L/R (8m15s)

Snatch: 16kg 4x15L/R

Swings: 24kg-5x15 L/R

Get-ups: 24kg 3L/R

12,538lbs in 33 minutes

24 Nov


135x3, 185x3, 225x2, 275, 315, 335 (Overhand Grip PR), 365, 415 (New Personal Record with a staggered grip, conventional stance)

EZ bar curls:  60x5, 70x5, 80x5, 90x4, 100x2, 110x1

4,835lbs moved in 50 minutes--had to share weights with people.

25 Nov

Press: 40kg-13x1 L/R

Snatch 16kg- 30L/R, 20L/R in 4:45

5788 in 28m55s

24 November 2010

Philosophically and anatomically, no two bodies are the same.

Here's a conversation that went down while two of my friends--one who happens to be a woman--and I were lifting today. 

Female friend-(pulls a conventional deadlift, after we have long established she doesn't like a wide stance deadlift)

Observant female gym goer who was doing something with wrist straps and dumbells and running shoes-(to my friend) Women should always deadlift with a shoulder width stance. 

Me-No two bodies are exactly the same.

Observant Female Gym Goer-Whatever, I have read the literature.

Me-I read books too, and still, no two bodies are exactly the same.  If they were, that would make God a slacker. 

I stopped talking to this girl and proceeded to hit two deadlift PRs, which I will talk about later.  My female friend hit a PR as well--a 200lb deadlift.  Not bad for a new deadlifter. 

Here is a clue as to why the girl gave her input.  Women have strong hips.  Makes them good at rearing miscreant children, who then grow up to be miscreant adults, like me.  So, in essence a wide stance might be more beneficial, as it takes away the lower back and recruits more hip muscles.  Grand. 

Female Pelvic Structure

Male Pelvic Structure
Now, what the misinformed gym goer did not take into account are, among other things, current levels of strength.  My friend happens to have extremely strong hamstrings and glutes from pushing a prowler around for hours.  And by a prowler, I mean a Toyota pick up truck filled with people.  So, with all logic a conventional stance might be more beneficial to her, and more comfortable, and have a greater payoff. 

Another thing to think about is this: the information in a lot of books can be used generally, but if you try to fit a mold that doesn't work for you, you will fail, not get strong or get hurt.  Hopefully none of these things will happen to you.  If you try to mimic Ed Coan's lift and you do not happen to be Ed Coan, you might not like the result. 

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but nobody wants to get injured while training. 

Speaking of results, my training has yielded me pretty swell consequences.  I hit two deadlift PRs today.  My last PR consisted of a 410lb deadlift, conventional stance.  Today, I hit a 335lb overhand grip deadlift for a single, and a staggered grip 415lb deadlift both in a conventional stance.  The stance that tests best for me is actually slightly narrower than shoulder width.   My left hand is suppinated in these max attempts, with my index finger on the first ring from center, and my right hand is pronated with the pinkie touching the first ring.  (As a note, when I used to try to mimic everyone else, I would put my hands closer together, and the result would be nagging wrist pain.  Do what works best for you and is safe).  I used to believe I was better off as a sumo puller, but this style is starting to yield more results for me know, combined with the range of motion testing. 

I also decided, though I said I wouldn't, to compete in a powerlifting competition.  I randomly searched for upcoming ones in the Tampa area, and decided to do one on the 23 of January, a week after my birthday.  This means I now have to start bringing up my horribly lagging bench press, and my squat.  I will still test them.  I will also post about the progress and the meet as more details unfold. 

Remember, in lifting and in life, never box yourself in.  You will not like the consequences. 

Reposting this picture.  But I don't care, I find it hot, and her stance is not shoulder width. 

23 November 2010

Coffee is my pre and post sleep and workout supplement

Hopefully by now, if you are smart, you will time Thanksgiving so deftly that your testosterone will be raging.  I mean so raging that you will be ready to fight/fuck/kill anything that pisses you off/catches your fancy/commits a moral affront to you. 

Whenever I watch the evening news, and she pops up, I usually get the FFF urge. 
If you are smart about the eating, be smart about your training too.  I don't mean you have to waste your money taking NO Xplode, or anything like that when you can go to Dunkin' Donuts and get a large coffee to get the caffeine that NO will give you.  Creatine? Eat a steak.  Other shit you find in energy drinks like taurine, can also be found in meat products. Niacin, B12, Iron, also are found in red meat.  That said, why would you waste money on these things when you can get them from a coffee and steak? 

Take away the grains, and I hope this type of thing occurs often in my afterlife. 
I will admit though, that I like a protein beverage after I lift sometimes, especially if I know it will be a while before I eat since sometimes it takes forever to think of what I might want on a given night.  Without a gigantic wad of horseshit supplements, my training sessions get better continually, as you can see.

I also decided, recently to add tactical pull-ups into my training regimen, and I did so today, and at a bodyweight of 200lbs, I did four sets three, and they tested well every time.  Hopefully, I will increase my snatches and my deadlifting and my tactical pull-ups to where I can compete in a tactical strength challenge.

I have also been doing more pistols, as I can finally do them and they test well.  For those of you who don't know, a pistol is a one legged squat.  My mobility is slowly getting to where I can do them on my right leg, and the left leg I can do with no added assistance, with a 12kg kettlebell in my hands.  I've also been in the gymnasium lately and have seen squat and deadlift form that make me wince in pain merely watching it. If you can't do this:

Practice a goblet squat.  To execute a goblet squat, hold a kettlebell or dumbell directly in front of you and, to quote Dan John, Squat between your legs.  If it tests well, do it some more.  And later in life, move on to barbell squatting. 

Everyone has a different body shape, and everyone's form will vary.  Don't hurt yourself.  If you do something you're not supposed to do, your body will revolt.  It's called a muscle pull, or potentially something worse.  Exercise common sense, as well as your movements. 

Remember, readers, excellence does not take a time off, and because we are in "the holidays" doesn't mean you should fuck your progress in the ass.  You can keep training, and you will be a better person for it.  In the mean time, for those of us in the United States, have a happy Thanksgiving. 

20 November 2010

Training log

12 Nov.

Swings, 24kg 200 in 7m41s 10,600lbs moved.

14 Nov.

Presses: 40kg, 10L/R in  9m40s density pr

Swings: 40kg, 50 in 4m15s

Snatch: 24kg, 100 in 9m50s

Swings: 24kg 40 in 2 minutes

13,580lbs moved in 25m45s

15 Nov.

Sumo Deadlifts 135x3,185x3, 225x2x5, 275x6x3

8,160lbs in 45 minutes, time took forever due to having to share the bar. 

16 Nov.

Press: 40kg 7L/Rin 5m30s

LCCJ:  Pair of 50's-10,6,5,5,5 in 9m40s

Swings: 24kg 390 reps in 32m20s

25,002lbs in 47m30s

18 Nov.

Press: 24kg, Bottoms up 10x3L and 3x3, 2x2, 5x3R  30L/28R 13m5s

Snatch 16kg 25,15,15,15 Left and Right 11m25s

Swings: 32kg L10/R10 L5/R5x5 in 10m50s

19,460lbs moved in 35m20s

Yours truly working out in God's Gym.

16 November 2010

Charles Manson is a vegetarian? AND Hitler?

Interesting, but useless for the remainder of the article, as I plan on talking about eating out.  And for those of you vegetarians with critical thought capabilities, I sincerely hope you do not eat out often, or at all.  At most chains you have people who cook in the kitchen and simply do not give a shit about their clientele, since they aren't faced with them.  I know I wouldn't, which is why I wouldn't go out of my way to make sure I didn't use animal products in a vegetarian meal. 

Even if Lydia Guevara happens to be the relative of a dead communist revolutionary (Ernesto "Che" Guevara) I would still cook her veggie stir fry in bacon grease. 
  So if you are not the granddaughter of Che, and you eat out often there are a few things you can do to make sure you don't severely rape your well earned dietary progress.

The first thing to remember is that you are paying for the food you are eating, and you have the right to pick what the hell you want to eat, since you are a customer.  I often times get told that I am picky because I order food the way I like.  Here's an example of something you can do to make sure you get what you need to it, based on this principle of you being the customer:

Restaurant Goer- (walks into restaurant, sits down and peruses the menu, and a server walks up) Hi, I notice you have these chicken wings here, and they come with all sorts of weird sauces and breaded.  Would I be able to get them plain, non breaded and with blackened seasoning? 

Server-I don't know let me check/we don't have blackened seasoning, but you can get them plain and non breaded/No, they are only breaded. 

These are the likely responses.  I have not gotten anything deviant from one of the three in fact.  As a note, if you are at a Hooter's you can get plain blackened wings with no bread, but they taste as good as I imagine wallpaper would. 

Beef O' Brady's delivers
If the server checks with the cooking staff regarding your question, one of the next two answers is likely.  If the third answer is given, move on to different types of chicken.  Or ask for a beef patty.  Problem solved.  Just make sure to request that they do not cook the items you choose in bullshit--butter, bread, lard, etc.  Remember, you pay for it, so make it happen. 

If you want decent blackened wings, by the way, Beef O' Brady's a good alternative.  I know this because I work right next to one.  Other good options for those of you in Tampa--the Copper Top Pub.  Their wings are smoked, and taste great with salt and pepper.  Another option is Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza.  The wings come with onions, and are cooked in a coal oven. 

If you are really boring, you can always order a salad.  Make sure to ask for romaine lettuce, otherwise it won't be given to you.  Throw away the croutons, shitty dressing, and opt for eggs, meat, and other veggies and use some EVOO to flavor it.

If you are less boring, you can get a decent salad from Tijuana Flats, Moes, or Chipotle.  Remove the grains, (corn is one, fyi) and if you're strict into paleolithic eating, the beans and cheese too. 

Your best bet is to be less of a lazy sack of crap than I am, and make your own stuff.  It's its own reward, and it builds character to cook, and you can make it taste how you want.  It is also cheaper and you know someone isn't going to spit in your food for making them cook such deviant non-menu items.  But if you do eat out, remember that you do pay for it, and the job of the eating establishment is to provide you with hot chicks to look at, and feed you for your money.  Not necessarily in that order. 

12 November 2010

What the fuck is Biofeedback training 2: gym movement/biofeedback training log

2 Nov.

Presses:  40kg- 2 singles L/R
8 sets of 3 L/R 1x4 L/R 1x3 L/R
4692lbs of weight pressed in 19m15s

Swings: 24kg 414reps= 21942lbs moved in 39m15s

26634lbs moved in 58m30s

4 Nov.

Presses: 32kg- Left hand-4x4,4x3,4,3,2,2x3 Right hand-2x4,3,2x4,2,2x3,4,3,3x3=  6020lbs moved in 18m30s
Snatch: 16kg kettlebell  6x10 L/R, in 13 minutes 4200lbs moved
Long Cycle Clean and Jerk with a pair of 50lb kettlebells 5x5 in 18m30s 2500lbs moved

12720lbs moved in 50 minutes

7 Nov.

Presses: 40kg Left hand-ten singles Right hand-eleven singles.1848lbs moved in 17m15s
Swings: 32kg 200 reps in 15m20s 14000lbs moved
LCCJ: pair of 50's.  8,6,6,6,6 in 11m

19048lbs moved in 43m35s

8 Nov.

Deadlifts, conventional.225lbs-6, 275-3,315-2 singles, 335-2 singles, 385-1, and a pr for my conventional DL.  moved 4590 lbs in 18m30s

9 Nov.

Presses: 40kg Left hand-1,2,1,1 Right hand-1,2,1,1
32kg Left hand-4,4,4,4,3,4,3,4,4,4,4 Right hand-4,4,4,4,3,4,3,4,4,4,4   6760lbs moved in 19 minutes

Snatch 24kg Left hand, 150, Right hand 150 all in sets of ten.  15900 in 37m

22670lbs moved in 56m

10 Nov.

Deadlifts, conventional


4270lbs moved in 24 minutes.  My last max DL attempt in general was 405lbs sumo, so this is an overall PR.

11 Nov.

Presses: 32kg Left hand-5,3,4,4,3,4,3,4,3,3,4,3 Right hand- 5,3,4,4,3,4,3,4,3,3,4,3  6020lbs moved in 17m15s
LCCJ: Pair of 32kg bells- 4,3,3,3,3 2240lbs moved in 8m56s
Snatch: 32kg 5 sets of 5L/5R for 3500lbs moved in 10m12s
24kg 2 sets of 10L/10R and 5L/5R in 4m50s 2650lbs moved

14410lbs moved in 41m13s

Keep in mind, all these movements tested well, and I performed them until A. I didn't feel like it anymore, or B. They stopped testing well. Only in one instance was it B.  Also, I stopped doing movements if they started to slow, or I started using excess tension.  Whereas, I could potentially hit four reps with the 88lb (40kg) bell if I used high tension, I did not.  The first sign of more effort than I had been expending, I terminated the set.  I might have been able to hit a 415lb max deadlift, but I do not think I would have done it as safely as I did the 410lb deadlift because I would have tensed up more.

A good barometer for this is to think of each movement as effortless.  Each one should feel good, and they moment they do not, you end your set.  I did all the heavy pulls without facial contortions and what have you, and feel better for it.  Same goes for my pressing, which you can see the volume and intensity of has risen, despite not using super high tension techniques.

For my kettlebell swings and snatches I adopted what is, for me but not  kettlebell atheletes,  new breathing pattern wherein on the downswing of a snatch or swing I exhale as opposed to exhaling on the top--we call exhaling on the downswing "anatomical breathing," and exhaling at the top "biomechanical breathing."  Anatomical breathing allows for more work to be done while saving energy. 

Notice Valery Fedorenko's exhalation on the way down.  This is anatomical breathing.  This, and other different techniques I am experimenting with are helping me snatch more with less effort, and I still have a lot to learn regarding that lift.

Other than that, I like testing movements to see if they work, and I can see the progress in this log and on every workout.  I also feel better after workouts than I did, and even then I felt pretty swell.  But it's only a week, let's see how it all goes in the future.

Tis the season to be Merry. 

09 November 2010

Are we what we do?

A long time ago I worked for a video store that is now sinking like the mighty Titanic. 

At this time, I had already been lifting weights for about a year, and was pretty into it, for all intents and purposes.  One day, I had a day off.  On my days off of work, and on some days I was to go into work, I lifted weights. 

One particular day off, I was getting up in the morning readying myself for the gym and I got a call from my work place.  They wanted to know if I could go help a store that was short staffed.   Me, ever the altruist and loving to help my fellow humans, I said, "Sure, I will get in there as soon as I can."  They said that was fine. 

After the call, I went to the gym and pumped some serious iron, returned home to bathe, and put my work uniform on and went to the store.  Then, about an hour and forty-five minutes later as I was driving to my added shift, I got a call asking where I was.  I replied that I was on the way, and that I am getting there as soon as I could.  I showed up two hours after the call. 

What was the point of this?  That my obligations within my life are my own, and a job that asks me for a favor on a day I am not required to work does not supersede whatever the fuck it is I feel like doing with my life.  I only bring this up because I there are opinions varied from my previously stated one--according to these, I should have promptly went into work, and let the gym fall by the wayside.  However, to my mind I was telling the truth when I said I would be there as soon as I could.  What are your opinions?

A lot of people use work as an excuse to get out of things that they probably should do--and indeed this is not a bad thing, as many people are very lucky to have a job these days--and in turn their jobs start to control their lives, and then we start identifying with our jobs as expressions of who we are.  One of the first questions I find being asked of me these days when I meet new young professionals is "What do you do for a living?"  

And contrary to what a lot of liberal, hippie, soy eating college students say, being identified with what you do isn't always a bad thing, provided you enjoy it.  I, for instance, view myself as a teacher in all aspects of my life.  I realized this when my roommate overheard my excitement as I was teaching someone to play a song and they comprehended what I was saying.  This is something I can get behind, as I derive pleasure from it, and the student gets knowledge as a result.  I love being a teacher so much, that it has not dawned on me to ask for a raise after two years of working, though a coworker advised I should.  I might. 

The wrong kind of work identity can lead you to beat the fuck out of a copy machine.
However, there are a lot of people who don't like what they do as much as I like doing what I do.  We have the power to change it, should we desire, but usually some sort of fear takes over and we don't.  So we fuck our identities, and stick it to something we view as meaningless and meaningful at the same time.  Leading us to a state of cognitive dissonance.  So remember, your job doesn't dictate your life, it should be the other way around.  And everything we do is impermanent, so keep that in mind as you travel forward in life. 

06 November 2010

The Holidays, or for some people, "Hey, clean eating, go fuck yourself."

In America it's that time of year again.  The time where you hang out with family members who seldom come around because, though you might not want to, it is the "right thing to do."  That time of the year where it gets a little bit cooler outside, and all the kick ass television shows and movies start to show up on your TV screen. 

One of the best Christmas movies ever. 
It is also the time when gym memberships decline for a bit because everyone is busy with "the holidays."  Don't worry though, they have a resurgence some time after 1 January for some strange reason. 

For a lot of people the holidays mean it is now easy to eat like you're at a Roman orgy again.  I have no idea why this happens other than the fact that it is vastly easier to eat shit than it is to eat something good.   But if you have been on a decent eating plan for a while, there's no need to fuck yourself by eating nothing but shit between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I offer you readers some simple solutions to make your holidays food filled, and not wrecking to your diet.  And if you want, you can even take Thanksgiving off from your training--I won't, as I really like pumping iron--but it is acceptable. 

A dietary transgression I frequently dream about. 
First off, if you have a body, you can exercise.  So you can still work out even when you travel. 
Second, plan how you eat.  You don't have to be nit picky about it.  I will use my self as an example, since I am dieting fairly strictly at this point in time and plan on doing so for a while. 

At this point of the Ketogenic diet, I cheat one or two times a week and refeed myself with clean foods on Saturday and Sunday.  What if, let's say, I timed a cheat meal to coincide with Thanksgiving day? Lo and behold, my glycogen gets replenished and my leptin levels too. And maybe I can have some turkey the next day.  Why the fuck not? It's Ketogenic friendly. 

Moreover, one can be overly pedantic and carry their bland, skinless, and weakening chicken breasts in a tupperware container on days like these--there are stories of it happening floating about somewhere.

My personal chef.  She sucks at cooking, oddly enough.
This kind of behavior can be as bad as fucking your diet in the ass by eating bullshit.  Half the fun of eating is eating with friends and family and talking shit to each other about who knows what.  If you alienate your food choice, your family might as well look at you like a leprous pariah for A. Turning down good family fun and food and B. Being a pretentious asshole.  If John Berardi can get down on a cheat meal the serious of the serious dieters and weightlifters should be able to as well.  Shit, there is even an anabolic effect to them.  So hang with your family and don't be an alienated dickweed. 

Here is how it will go down for me: I will probably cut down to one cheat a week or more before Thanksgiving day.  I will undereat a lot on the Wednesday before, and taking my cue from Ori Hofmekler (who talks about the good of overeating followed by undereating in The Warrior Diet) I will eat my face off on Thanksgiving day.  I will then eat lightly the following day (resuming my ketogenic dieting) and go back to normal, thereafter.  I will repeat this for Christmas, and my birthday in January.  Eat, drink and be merry, friends. 

02 November 2010

Biofeedback Training: What the fuck is it?

Moments ago, I got off the phone with Adam Glass.  What was supposed to be a 30 minute call, turned into 90 minutes of information of epic proportions. 

Adam was a former proponent of a strength training philosophy that held to the belief that to yield greater strength gains, one must maximize tension, and use corrective exercises to fix fucked up movement patterns.  According to the claims on his site, using biofeedback training can fix all of your movement patterns without foam rolling, hours of mobility work, and static stretching.   The rationale being that if you listen to what your body is telling you, you cannot go wrong.  Sounds pretty good. 

Another idea is that we are looking at exercise as merely movement.  We perform a movement--let us say a deadlift--and we try to get better at it by testing it.  If the movement debilitates your range of motion, at that time it is not good for you to do.  If you push through it, you will "fuck yourself up," to quote Adam directly.  So, we test what moves well at that time, and get better at it.  When we use tension unnecessarily it slows us down and fucks up our movement.

One of the reasons this appeals to me is because it gels well with what I teach a lot of my students who strive to get better at playing guitar.  My main quote is, "you have four goddamn fingers.  Why wouldn't you use them all?"  That said, it allows for better movement on the fretboard.  Makes you more efficient, and able to do more.  So with biofeedback training, we strive for the same thing--effiency, so that we might make use of what we have to yield greater gains. 

If you follow symbolic logic, you will recognize this as working toward the same conclusion--betterness via looks, performance, etc.--with an input of a different premise.  And if you will remember your DeMorgan theorems, this happened all the time.  A different premise can yield the same conclusion, so the idea here is not far out.  Either way, I am going to detail my progress on here fairly often, and I think my progress will be good. 

In case you forgot your DeMorgan theorems.

28 October 2010

Videos: Hilarity, and more.

I have a lot of free time on my hands these days since I have graduated college.  I watch a lot of shit on youtube as a result.  Here are some videos I particularly enjoy, feel free to discuss some of them, as some of them can (in their own way) raise some questions.

Is this video merely funny? Or does it let insecure people stay insecure and reinforce stereotypes?  I think both.  I laugh my ass off every time I watch this, and think of how sad it is that it reinforces a stereotype of a musclebound black guy and a frightened white woman--the same stereotype that got the KKK popular years back.  I admire the guys mind muscle connection with his pecs, as well.

Easily one of the best commentaries on steroids today.  Not really much to say about it. 

This makes me remember why I used to like professional wrestling.  However, given my current job as a guitar instructor, I get to deal with a lot of youngsters.  And some of the shit they will tell me is absurd, in many cases.  From my experience, telling a kid not to do something is worse than telling them not to be an idiot about it.  I wish, when I was in my teens, that the advice I got was sensible.

I like this because, according to an attendee, she got three white lights on the lift.

There ya go.  Four videos to amuse you for the day.

25 October 2010

Deadlifting Nuances, or more about your lats.

Recently, I was deadlifting, as it is one of my pastimes.  Recently, as was stated in the last post, I had some wonderful deadlift pointers imparted to me. 

Staggered grip=a grip that won't fail on a max pull.
These pointers include such things as, "wedging yourself between the bar and the ground,"  With this cue, you use your hips to bring your head up, as explained by a friend of mine.  This is a wonderful cue to maximize leverage, and another is to push the floor to either side with your feet, as if you were going to make a chasm beneath you.  
Pretty sweet drawing I found of Mount Doom.  Inside, there is a chasm, and it is the only one that can destroy the precious. 
After reading this article, I opted to go for practicing my deadlifts with a pronated grip because it is more symmetrical and "what you'll find is the more you pull double overhand, the more weight you can use. If you're used to failing at 225, give it a few weeks and you'll be up to 315," according to Jim Smith. It also feels less awkward and doesn't hurt my wrist, as opposed to the staggered grip.   

One of the reasons I think it allows more weight is because it is easy to engage the lat muscles--it's easier to break a stick, bend a piece of metal, or "break the bar" for a bench press or deadlift when you have a pronated grip. 

Recently, I was deadlifting with a pronated grip, and since I am still practicing it and am new to it, my grip started to go, and I switched to a staggered grip.  Immediately, I felt weaker.  The reason being is because I couldn't engage my lats well enough to do anything.  As I said earlier, if the grip is staggered, it's harder to bend the bar. 

This last nuance I stumbled upon myself, and it overcomes the lack of lat involved in a staggered grip:  when using the staggered grip, squeeze the shit out of the bar and try to move your hands closer together.  The friction will not allow it, your lats will be engaged, and you will feel stronger. 

23 October 2010

A special visit from Master RKC Andrea DuCane

Recently, The Russian Kettlebell Challenge certification course was held in Orlando, Florida.  Being close to Orlando, some friends and I made it a day and went to receive some free training from the newly minted RKCs, and pick up some kettlebells. 

While there, I was fortunate enough to meet a great number of knowledgeable and personable people, including Franz Snideman RKC, and Pavel Tsatsouline, both of whom helped me out with my deadlifting form and technique.  I was also fortunate enough to meet Brett Jones, another very knowledgeable RKC, who also gave me advice on short steel bending.  I also got to meet Dragon Door CEO John DuCane, and his wife Andrea and daughter, Nicole.  All wonderful and knowledgeable. 

Prior to this, Andrea DuCane agreed to come out the USF Kettlebell Club in Tampa, and give our club an informal seminar, wherein she gave us information on flexibility, mobility, and lastly, the kettlebell swing--the most important of kettlebell drills.  Why is the swing in important? For those who do not know, it leads to other drills, like the snatch, and the clean and jerk, and if you practice swinging, and make it a point to do many swings, you will give your heart a good workout, and your deadlift numbers will rise. 

She spoke of much, but some key points emphasized are as follows:
1. When deadlifting, think of lifting with your glutes. Squeeze them, hard.  You will feel stronger merely thinking about this one thing.
2.  Think about having a long spine, so that it will stay straight, and not snap in half.
3.  Stay rooted in the earth--a good way to do this is to grip the ground with your toes.
4.  Squeeze the glutes at the top of the swing forcefully, and be aware of flexing your quadriceps at the same time.
5.  If you are in doubt about any of these, revisit your deadlift with a kettlebell and emphasize gluteal contraction. 
6.  Stretch your hip flexors so that they will open up, and you will automatically feel stronger. 

In conclusion, Andrea's aptitude for teaching conveyed all of these items far better than I am to you, and if you ever get the chance to have her for a seminar, it will definitely be a wise move, and you will be stronger for it. 

19 October 2010

Don't forget to breathe

In some beliefs--beliefs that we are not exposed to out here in the west but you readers out in the East (if I actually have any) might be familiar with--there is a story that posits that at the base of our spine lies a coiled line of energy.  It is sometimes visualized as a serpent, and is called Kundalini.  I am sure Western language fucked up the translation, as is usually the case, but either way it has something to do with coiling. 

And this energy is coiled in the base of our spine.  We can, however, awaken this energy and use it to our advantage.  Through Pranayama--breath mastery--we can awaken this energy, and if done properly, this serpent will rise out of our body, along our spine and explode from the top of our heads, leading us to what Rudolf Otto calls the "Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans," or a fearful and fascinating experience with that which is wholly other. 
Rudolf Otto, who looks like a deep thinker in this picture, wrote "Idea of the Holy," and it is his seminal work and has never gone out of print. 
What does all this serpent stuff have to do with anything?  Aside from being creative with their imagery and story telling, the yogis who originally crafted this idea clearly knew the importance of breathing and spinal health.  Once we are aware of how to breathe, simple deduction can tell us that even something simple like changing the way you breathe can potentially improve your posture.  

Try this:  breathe, while looking in a mirror.  If you breathe shallow, your shoulders will rise.  You do not want this.  If this happens to you, stand straight, with your back against the wall, and take a deep breath.  The wall will not allow you to raise your shoulders, and if you place your hand on your stomach you should feel it fill with air.  This is what you want.  You can also get the same effect by lying down. 

If you have ever sang before, you probably already know how to breathe into your belly.  Death Metal singers do it all the time.  Actors as well must know how to breathe properly.  For these types of artists, their throats are vital to them, and proper breathing does not strain the throat like shallow breathing potentially can.   If you should ever find yourself having to raise your voice, do it from your gut and notice the difference as opposed to screaming from your throat. 
Mikael Akerfeldt--Mastery of breath and singing allows him to growl from his gut and sing very cleanly from his gut as well, with minimal strain on his throat, allowing him to tour regularly.
And as it relates to lifting, breathing deeply will allow you to maximize your intra-abdominal pressure so you that you can lift heavier shit. 

Some things that will help you on your road to breathing include trying to breathe through your nose whenever possible.  We have a filter in our throat that filters out the shit in the air, but our nose hairs can help filter out crap as well, so breathing in through the nose gets the air double filtered.  To control your breathing you can also try something called a breathing ladder.  I forgot where I heard of this, but most likely it was on Dragon door website and the idea is that you start at one repitition of a kettlebell swing and  you match breaths with it--one rep, set it down, one breath, two reps, set it down, two breaths, and so on.  And you ascend the ladder avoiding at all costs your desire to suck massive amounts of wind.  I have done these before and if you can master your breath this way, you can get more out of your training.

Once you get good at belly breathing, you can practice full breathing.  This will allow you to maximize your breathing potential, and hopefully awaken the serpent within. 

16 October 2010

Walking is not exercise, unless you are a fat motherfucker or crippled.

Appropriately enough, this was the first image I found when I googled "fat motherfucker."
Walking is not exercise.  Walking is how you get from point A, to point B.  Jesus walked.  For some reason, he felt it not necessary to use his omnipotence to craft a Delorean to get his family the fuck out of Bethlehem.  Sometimes I walk.  I usually go somewhere when I do.  I and most normal thinking people would never say "I am going to work out," and then start walking to do so.

Why is walking not exercise unless you are a fat motherfucker?  Because it cannot stimulate your heart enough to do anything worth a shit for your body.  We all know that moving weight continually will accelerate your heart rate.  And if your fat, and you walk, you have a lot of weight to accelerate, so it might actually do your heart something good.  Especially since, if you are fat, most likely you aren't used to doing much of anything.

And even if you are fat, you can't out walk a few pizzas.  
And if you are fat, here are a few things you can do besides walking to get better at life, and less fat.  The first thing is called a get up.

As you can see from this video--28kg is about 62 lbs, by the way, which you will note is around half her bodyweight--the point is to get up.  She is using a kettlebell, but it can be done with a barbell, a sandbag, a human, or weightless.

The latter is how we are worried about it today.  If you are in dire need of weightl loss, lie down on the floor, and get up til you are standing, and don't worry about holding anything.  Your body will be moving against gravity, and against your lack of will power, which will be your biggest obstacle.  Do it for time.  If you are skinny, learn how to a getup from a trainer, and do it with weight for time.  Increase weight as necessary.

Another exercise good for all of us would be squats.  If you are fat, you will do them with your bodyweight. 

Knees behind toes (for the most part, it's a little different with everyone), ass back, look straight.  Do these for time, for reps, or however you feel like.  Just do them.  If you are skinny, add weight.  Do them on one leg.  Just do them.  If you don't wish to walk, do these exercises, and your heart rate will go up, and you will start to get better conditioning, if you need it. 

If you are a fat powerlifter, stop using the excuse that it helps you lift more weight, and eat something sensible and swing a goddamn kettlebell.  It will make your deadlift go up. 

Not a fat powerlifter.  

In conclusion, none of you reading this (unless you are huge) should be walking for exercise.  If you are cripple it goes without saying that walking is tough, but the rest of you have no business.  If you are fat, take the stairs, and learn to squat, and learn to get up. 

07 October 2010

Your back hurts? Quit fucking whining and fix it part 2

If you all recall, last time we talked about how having no ass can lead to back problems.

Read it,  and look at the following pictures of Hank Hill for a summary. 

In this episode, Hank had to race his lawn mower, almost couldn't because his back started to hurt, and when he went to the doctor, he got diagnosed with Diminished Gluteal Syndrome and had to wear a fake ass.  

This is a real ass, to contrast with Hank's false orthotic ass. 
One of the other key ingredients to living a life free of back problems is to have a strong waist.  In fitness today, people call it "the core," as if it has some sort of esoteric significance.  Which, it does, but not because it is called the core.  And FYI, training on a goddamn bosu ball is not gonna do jack shit for your core.

Doing crunches will not do anything for your midsection either, and might irritate your back.  So save the pansy shit for your spin class.  If you must lie down, only to raise yourself back up again, do a sit up, with weight, and use your hips, too.   Other options to strengthen your core include:  Walking with a heavy weight, picking a heavy weight up off the ground, holding a heavy weight over your head.  Another viable option is to use an ab wheel, something I enjoy doing and use often.

According to "Intra-abdominal pressure increases stiffness of the lumbar spine" (Read it here)  Intra abdominal pressure increases stiffness in your lumbar spine during heavy lifting.  To translate, if you pressurize your breathing, your spine won't break like a match stick.  And how do you get better at intra abdominal pressure? By activating your core. 

If you try to slap her for useless exercises, a sharp exhalation when you make contact will cause intra abdominal pressure and put tension into your movement, and if your lucky will knock her out.
 Another important aspect of this equation is your breathing.  If you breathe correctly, you should feel your abdominal muscles tighten.  Here's an experiment.  Think of anytime in life you had to lift something heavy, and note that your gut reaction was to hold your breath.  With your breath held properly, you have tension in your diaphragm and this will cause pressure on your abs.  You are "bracing for a punch," as Pavel says.  Pavel also goes in depth with breathing by having you hiss through your teeth--since you are exercising you cannot hold your breath, you have to "breathe behind a shield," and the hissing method accomplishes this.

Breathe behind the shield, comrade.
The best way to think of it is as if you are a house.  Something I have told many people who have started on their strength journey was to imagine a house.  The foundation must hold up a shit ton of weight, so the foundation cannot be weak.  If the foundation is weak,  your house will fall. If you, the human, try to hold up a shit load of weight, and your important areas are lacking, you will fail, meaning you will get injured, or worse, not lift the weight and set a PR.   Any of the above movements I mentioned will train all the areas as a unit, including those areas we touched upon in part one.  In sum:

In heavy lifting, squeeze your ass, pressurize your abs, and lift.  Be it overhead, or off the ground, stay tight and provide a good foundation for your lifting.

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

06 October 2010

The pitfalls and possibilities of group training

For the better part of a few years, throughout the majority of my training, I have trained with a stellar group of people.   Well, more like a couple that were steady and always willing to do the work and stragglers who may or may not have been swell to have around, but they eventually faded away.  As a human, chances are you have competed in something before.  Whether you are a man or a woman competing with other men for a cheap lay in a bar, or you have competed in a ping-pong tournament, or you have competed for academic honors you have competed. 

For this cheap slut, the winner must have a large wallet.  Wallet+Trampstamp+an already cheap slut=The Clap.  Congratulations, you win a doctor's visit. 
If you follow philosophical thought, Friedrich Nietzsche espoused this theory of the will to power.  One way--out of so many vastly incorrect ways--to interpret this is that humans don't merely adapt to survive and live and in complacency, but that the human will try to get better and better and become a master of its surrounding world, and also be a master of its reality.

The will to get better and not settle for mediocrity is why he had a bad ass mustache.
One way for a group of motivated people to get better is to compete with other people in sports.  If I were to compete in sports against someone--say in powerlifting--I sure as fuck don't want some piece of shit to beat me, so then that is my motivation to win, and to get better. I would be less likely to achieve the best I could achieve if I didn't have to assert my will to power over other people.  By the way, I say "piece of shit" regarding my competitor in jest, as in actuality these people might be my friends, or family.

If any of you remember the classic movie "Pumping Iron," we can recall that Arnold and Franco and the rest were all good friends, and ate together and partied together.  And the fact that they trained together made them try harder.  But when they stepped on the Olympia platform, they wanted to beat each other, and the process to exert their will over the competition started long before the competition--In Arnold's Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding the Oak relates how the guys wouldn't show off their physique before a competition, but in order to weaken and demoralize their opponents, Franco Columbu would run around in shorts and show off how great he looked. 

Franco was Arnold's best man at his wedding, but they still competed against each other at the Olympia's. 
Overall the group dynamic was a good thing for these guys.  Sometimes, group training is not always that fun, and it can leave you pissed off and demoralized.  I have read of others having training partners who were nothing but whiny little pussies, but I didn't think it would affect me ever, until recently when some slackers started showing up to my group.  Now, when I say slackers I mean, people who barely do anything and wonder why nothing is happening, when they didn't listen to instructions, or advice that was freely given out.  Other times some people decide to take it easy because they worked out super hard, or maybe even maxed out a lift the day before.  There is a difference. 

The bad people in your group can distract you or other people from making any progress (though you can ignore them, if you got the willpower).   The key to dealing with them?  You can always expel them from your group.  If you are a university club, it's not likely.  So what is the next best thing?  Ignore the problem and focus on what you want to do, and find others who you will motivate and be motivated by within the group and let the asshole be a pariah for the duration of your lifting session.  In the end, only you can fuck your own goals up. 

Pauline Nordin knows how to get shit done.