Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Leeman Powerbuilding Part Deux

As a follow-up to my last training related post, I wanted to share the type of training I'm doing right meow. I've been at it for around 2 months, and everything has been feeling pretty damn good.

Lower body movement x1 set to failure, (drop weight 20-50lbs) x5 sets to failure-1 rep
Partials x5
Lower body assistance x3 super set Abs x3
Minor lower body assistance 2x100

Upper body press x1 set to failure, (drop weight 20-40lbs) x5 sets to failure-1 rep
super set
Upper body pull x1 set to failure, (drop weight 20-40lbs) x5 sets to failure-1 rep
Upper body press assistance x5 super set Upper body pull assistance x5 
Minor upper body assistance 5xamap

The idea is to milk a single movement for as long as possible until I hit a hard single (on the x1 sets to failure). Once I find my new max, I'll switch out the movement and start training something new. In general, I'm adding 10lbs a session to all lower body/partial movements, and adding 5lbs a session to all upper body/oly movements. I'm adding weight to assistance and minor assistance work, but adding weight isn't really the goal of those exercises (feeling the weight is the goal in those cases).

Say for example I hit a front squat of 240lbsx11 reps. In my next session I'll attempt to hit 250x11 reps. The reps will naturally go down with time, but my goal will be to rep my old max by the time I get there in a few weeks.

Progression of Movements
Lower body movement: Front Squats > Power Cleans > Back Squats > Snatch high Pulls
Partials: Shrugs > Rack Pulls > Snatch Shrugs > Snatch Rack Pulls
Upper body press: Floor Press > Overhead Press > Close Grip Bench > Push Press
Upper body pull: Chinups > Pendlay Rows > Pullups > Barbell Rows

Examples of other movements...
Lower body assistance: RDL, Leg Press
Lower body minor assistance: Leg extensions and/or curls
Upper body assistance: Handstand pushups, pullups
Minor upper body assistance: Lateral raises, bodyweight rows

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lessons I have to keep learning part deux

Every year I spend lifting weights adds more tools to my toolbox. Most of these tools either don't work or only work for very specific purposes (see: peaking strength and size), but it's easy to overlook the tools that truly worked well for me. Here is a short list of what has worked over 2016 and why.

1. Stretching
This feels insane to write down. I used to be all about stretching. As in, I would do splits while working on my math homework into it (how the fuck).

For a few years I felt as if I needed to stop doing heavy deadlifts (and sub in oly lifts) in order to feel 'springy' or athletic. The truth is, my hips were just tight as hell all the time, and I did nothing to help them until an injury forced me to.

Stretching 10min a day has been a godsend. All of the usual nagging pains in my hips and knees are absent. I feel as springy as ever without having to leave deadlifting behind. Consider static stretching extra assistance work at the end of each training session. If you find it more boring than a high school reunion, it helps to do sets of arms (see: hammer curls, lateral raises, some kickback variation) in between stretches.

I've seen an immediate and consistent improvement in my quality of life and quality of lifts for minimal effort.

2. Specificity Rules
tl:dr Do a few things really well to expand your base of strength.

This is linked right up to body dysmorphia. The feeling that 'if I don't do X (which helped me get this big) I'll lose everything I worked for.' In trying to be good at everything, you'll end up being mediocre all around (except on some lifts which will thrive no matter what). Ask yourself, do I really need to be strong on X right now? Am I just afraid of not being strong on X anymore?

This feeling is not entirely wrong. If I do floor press and dips on my upper body days, I'm going to progressively get better at both at the same time. If I remove dips from the equation, my performance in dips is going to drop dramatically. Well, so fucking what? Concentrating leveling up a few movements is going to ensure that your nervous system gets a hard on for that movement pattern. I'm going to make my shoulders, chest, and triceps strong as fuck on that single movement. When I eventually come back to dips, the movement pattern will be weak but the muscles will be strong. Within a week I'll be where I want to be.

Your assistance work can fill in the gaps to work your muscles, tendons, and ligaments outside of the movement pattern you're trying to improve. Which brings me to...

3. Assistance work. It's kind of sexy yo
tl:dr Powerbuilding via intensity then volume is good hurghhhh.

Just because you're specifically trying to get better at a few movements by no means states that you can't venture out to other exercises. After my main intensity and backoff work, I like to add a shitton of volume with exercises that force me to feel my muscles working. Whether it's 100 rep sets of leg extensions, shoulder machine presses, or bodyweight rows, the idea is to get a pump using the same bodyparts I just thrashed to hell.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Paradigm Shift: How I View Food

For years I've kept shitty food out of my house. Why? The reason I've always fallen back on is that I have no self control. The moment I allow diet breaking food to surround me, it goes in my face (especially if I'm stressed or tired).

I thought about this more over the weekend, and it is time for something new. Saying that I have a problem is on par with saying I have no control over myself. It means I can't say no. Although I'm eating healthy in my home, how often am I really there? If I take the road that says 'I can't say no,' then the moment I can't control my environment (see: work, social functions, any fucking where else) I'm open to eating things I damn well know are a counter to my goals.

This month is a paradigm shift. I'm not throwing out the Halloween candy that didn't get eaten (see: all of it...no one was around got halloween). I'm leaving it in plain view so I can decide to not have it day by day.

This is not a war on junk food. I've had these foods before, and I will have them again. This is a war on the belief that my diet today is good. This is a war on the idea that I can't say no.

Tl:dr I'm practicing saying no instead of saying I am powerless

Thursday, October 27, 2016

How to make friends as an adult (the Shayna edition): Why is it so hard?

Making friends as an adult is hard. Not hard like I'm living paycheck to paycheck and my house is haunted by knife Hobbits, but more like I have more freedom and money than I ever could have imagined and that freedom is constricting in its own right. It's counterintuitive, right? One would assume that with infinite choices comes infinite friends. Making friends growing up through college was easy right? How the fuck did you even do that? At what point can you say...this person is my friend? Unlike success, it's really difficult to connect the dots going backwards with friendship. When you visualize a person you care for, the feelings you have form the idea 'well....I've always loved person X, right?' Wrong motherfucker. This brings me to my first points on why making friends is hard post college.

1. In school, you were forced into social situations didn't care for
People bond over difficult situations and common scenarios. If we didn't, why would companies bother sponsoring escape from a zombie room events with new employees? Fuck that noise, i wanna play video games. The stress of having to solve a problem collectively brings people together whether or not they want to.

What is growing up if not a difficult situation? The constant exposure to learning makes people bond over studying together, making fun of teachers, or generally getting into trouble (my marching band group had an annual tradition of stealing as much shit from a Wendy's as possible in a blitzkrieg of puberty and snorting).  This is what forms the initial bonds. The reason so few bonds stick post education is that you really have nothing in common with these people. You were just in the same shit at the same point in time.

The fact is that no one is forcing you to spend time with anyone after college. Everything is based off of your own choices. But it's not that simple. If it were, you could choose a random meetup and meet your new group. This almost never, ever happens. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Part of growing up is realizing that life can be a series of closing doors
In high school, I was a part of concert band, marching band, jazz band, chorus, drama, wrestling, the Sci Fi club, and debate club. I had a part time job my sophomore year to senior year where I worked anywhere from 10 to 30 hrs a week. I also studied my ass off and ended up in the top 3rd of my class in an incredibly competitive school. I also jacked off to fuzzy porn at least 75% of my waking life, but I consider that off the clock.

Just looking at this list makes me sick to my stomach. Who the fuck has time for this? How did I do this, date, and get into trouble?

When you are growing up, the amount of energy you can spread out is insane. I never thought twice about how encompassing this list was. I also never really felt like I was overloaded.

College was a similar situation. I picked up two choruses, drama (it didn't work out), breakdancing, partying my balls off, a fraternity, caving, and film making. The list grew a little shorter and I didn't even notice.

Now a days I have what...powerlifting, cosplay, partying my balls off, and dancing to live music. I still jack off to porn, but it's in HD. Cause I'm a grown ass man that lives in the future that's why.
As I got older, I naturally gravitated towards becoming passionate about a few things instead of being interested in everything. This happens naturally whether you're noticing it or not. There are outliers who don't experience a drop in their ability to care. These people are assholes.

The same phenomenon happens to friendships. The ones that are important expand. The ones that are not contract. The people you meet as an adult are in full on contract mode. While everyone is looking for new people to trust and love, everyone simultaneously states how hard it is to make friends. Da fuck people? There is generally no room to accept new people into your life unless they already fit into your passions. Other people can be laterally grandfathered in (more on this later), but these people are usually extensions of the friend group you network into.

I've learned this the hard way a few times in my life, which leads me to my final point...

3. Everyone can like you, few people will love you
This entire segment can be summed up in the phrase 'you can't force people to let you in.' I can think of two (2) notable anecdotes for this.

I volunteered at a popular improv theater in Atlanta for 5 years. I did not make a single friend in that time. Everyone knew me, everyone was friendly with me, and I genuinely had a good time there. Yet while their click was considered a family, I was only a visitor. I never got to know any of them on a deeper level (and vice versa), no matter how much I tried.

In another instance I tried getting into crossfit (a few times actually). Here is an activity that lines up completely with my own desires (to become jacked and tan), but my main goal was to meet new friends. Social media is ripe with people who have gotten into crossfit and base their free time entirely around it. The same thing happened there that happened that the theater. No one wanted anything to do with me. I was well liked, everyone was friendly, but that is where the buck stops.

This is important, so I'm going to revisit this later on (future posts). For now, I will only pose that the common thread between these anecdotes is the fact that the activities in themselves were not struggles on a collective basis. Everyone who was there was there for themselves, myself included.

In the next installment, I'm going to review less of the 'why' and more of the 'how' on making friends.

Till next time.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Secret Squirrel Exercise

If you want to skip the click baity title and just know what the secret exercise is...there is none. Go home. Effort and consistency are the only things that matter.

If you want more Metal Gear Solid amount of insight, read on.

The Actual Article
I draw weight lifting questions like shit draws flies. Poop never asked be a meal. Why poop gotta be a meal? Huh? HUH?

Thankfully, these questions are limited to when I'm lifting weighs (unlike my friend Keenan, who gets them out in public by literally any dude he has a conversation with), but the conversation is always the same.

1. Ask if I'm a trainer (no)
2. Tell me about how they used to be the strongest man in the world (cool story brah)
3. Ask for the secret exercise

The third question in particular always gets to me. I've actually choked up a little. Here is someone who has found themselves to be too fat or too weak for their liking, and have come to the gym to level up. Good on them. But asking for the secret exercise that makes you lose weight, run faster, and fuck harder is belittling the effort needed to actually be good at something. It's saying you aren't interested in suffering through the journey, you just want your reward, and you want it now. It's entitled, and it's ignorant.

The only things that work are consistent practice and effort. In general, this is going to include getting better (see: increasing reps and weight over time) at compound exercises. Which ones you choose doesn't really matter if you are looking for general health. Sure, some exercises will swing the needle a tiny bit one way or the other. I generally find I feel slightly more athletic when I'm training with oly lifts consistently, but in the long term my exercise choice means absolute dick. What is important is that I strive to improve. What matters the most is that I show up and try.

There is no secret. Go forth and get stronger.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

High Frequency: Ending One Path and Starting Another

I've ended my stint of high frequency, low volume, and low movements after 14 days. I'm taking a brief lessons learned and migrating back to what I know and love.

Lessons Learned
Fatigue is a fucking killer. I didn't suddenly get strong enough to lift 50 lbs over my old maxes like they were candy waiting to be picked up. I practiced nothing but a few lifts and saw my ability to lift my real maxes appear.

What I Did Wrong
No matter what discipline I look at, I did not follow the intended guide path of high frequency groupies (isn't that the point? whatever...).

- If we look at Bugenhagen's model, I used too many exercises (3 instead of the prescribed 1) and did not make every day a grinding max set.

- If we look at Squat every day, Damien Pezutti, or Broz's model, I was lifting way too damn heavy. All 3 of these methodologies also entail lifting to a daily max (which is heavy but not a grinding max) followed by backoff work with 1-3 movements.

What I Absorbed
If I want to prep for a competition, I sure as shit know how. Ramping up to more volume or weight over time (and switching movements when I've topped out) should be a regular practice. I.e. get damn fine at a few movements over months of practice, then switch them out for something new. I am especially guilty of this with oly lifts, of which I kept grinding out the same shitty lifts over months.

What This Looks Like Now
Snatch High Pull
Overhead Press

Front Squat

A. 1x5, 3x6-8
B. 5x2-3, 3x6-8
C. 4-8x1
D. (Optional) 5x1 negatives, 3x6-8 full range of motion

Note: the 3x6-8 on a, b, and d use the same weight.

This is a similar powerbuilding structure a la Doug Hepburn I know works well, but it gives me the ability to top out and switch movements instead of asking what the fuck I do with myself. The immediate substitutions will be:
Snatch High Pull --> Power Clean
OHP --> Btnpp
Front Squat --> Back Squat
Dips --> Floor Press or Bench Press
Each lift will move at its own pace. For example..
Snatch High Pull
Workout 1: 225x1x5, 175x3x6
Workout 2: 230x1x5, 175 1x7, 2x6
Workout 10: 275x1x3, (whatever)
Failure, rest and try again or go to next progression.
Workout 11: 265 1x3, 4x2, 190 3x6
Workout 12: 265 2x3, 3x2, 190 1x7, 2x6
Workout 30: 295 (fails)
Failure, rest and try again or go to next progression.
Workout 31: 295x4x1
Workout 32: 295x5x1
Workout 45: failure
Replace snatch high pull with power clean and start over.

The last progression (D. using negatives) are something I want to toy with to take movements further, but this can really only happen with squats, dips, and floor press/bench.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

High Frequency Training Day 11

Nothing special to report today. I need to bring more aggression.

Front Squat 310x1, 255x3, 215x8
Notes: 310 set slowed down a TON, but my upper back kept straight
Dips BW + 120 x 1, BW + 60 x 9
Tbar Row 5plates x 15

The tbar row is pissing off the dude who owns my gym. It's really a shame, since I really like this movement (but I'm also friends with the gym owner, I don't want to damage his property).

I may switch to power cleans until we can figure something out.

Monday, October 3, 2016

High Frequency Training Day 10

Yesterday is the first training day I've missed since I started this jazz. I've found that switching movements (and then suddenly coming back) causes more of a backslide in progress than taking time off. Noted.

Arms and shoulders are definitely smaller. I'm less 'springy' from discontinuing oly lifts. That makes me a bit sad, but it could have also been a product of this week being pretty rough.

Front squat 305x1
Partial Front Squat 605x3x1x5 seconds
Dip BW + 115 x 1, easy
Dip negative BW + 145 x 1

Friday, September 30, 2016

High Frequency Training Day 8

Not 8 hours after my last session, we're back in business. This is kind of a fucked up day overall. My roommate lost her mom earlier this week, so I took off today to make it to the funeral. Right after, I'm headed to Disney World (totally and completely unrelated activities...Disney was already on the menu).

It feels odd and even a little uncomfortable to celebrate things like hitting my 500 deadlift (I immediately pulled the video from Facebook, it didn't feel right to post this week) and Disney this weekend. I know that sounds dumb, but that's the way I feel.

Front squat 285x1
Note: still easy. I'm going to build back up to above 315 before I switch to another squat.
Partial Front Squat 595x1x3x5 second lockout
Note: almost passed the fuck out on every rep
Dips BW+110lbs x 1
Dip negative BW+135 lbs x 1
Note: doesn't feel solid yet, but the rep was easy
TBar row 5 plates x 12
Note: 2 rep increase over last night. Yahtzee.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

High Frequency Training Day 7

Today was the first truly difficult training day. I'm sore all over, and spent the entire day flying home.

Front Squat 275x1
Note: I had way more in the tank, but I'm lifting again in 7 hrs. No need to break the bank.
OHP 155x1
Note: dogshit
T bar row 5 plates x 10

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

High Frequency Training Day 6

Woke up this morning with no back pain anymore. Super weird. After deadlifting my first 500 yesterday my back was a mess until I did some hip stretches in my hotel room. Apparently that shit was cure 3 because I've felt awesome all day.

Walking into the gym feeling weak in my shoulders but strong in my back and abs. I won't be able to train tomorrow, so I did some assistance for my lateral delts.

My sex drive has been all over the place, but a ton of that can be attributed to low sleep and high stress. My appetite has been high. Creativity and confidence equally high. Quality of sleep has been outstanding.

OHP 175x1, 135x8
Note: my shoulders felt pretty weak today. Not totally surprised this happened. I kind of like pressing first in the lineup though. My backoff set felt really, really good.
Zercher squat 355x1
Note: this sucked. I should have done power cleans like my brain told me to.
T bar rows 4plates, 1 quarter x 20 reps
Note: mega. I fucking love these. I wish I did them (cheated) years ago.

How do I look?
A little fatter for sure.
Leg size +
Arm size +
Shoulder size no change
Back size no change

I'm looking forward to getting back to hammering front squats next week. If anything, I miss working oly lifts for medium volume. I always felt leaner and faster when I had that under my belt.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

High Frequency Training Day 5

Woke up this morning to a dull pain in my lower back. Odd...did this happen when I was lifting yesterday or did I hurt myself in my sleep? Considering I tossed and turned all night, I wouldn't be surprised if sleeping me hates sleeping me.

OHP 180x1
Sumo deadlift 500x1

Wtf just happened...
Tied my best all time press. Deadlifted an easy 500 for the first time. I'm still waiting for the floor to drop out on me.

I didn't have a timer running today. Given the volume I did, I was likely in and out in 20min.

Monday, September 26, 2016

High Frequency Training Day 4

Traveling for work this week. Started out in St. Pete at 4am, lifted at 11am in bum fuck Alabama. The gym I lifted in is a run down old YMCA with little equipment and weights, so I took this chance to switch out movements (even though I had more juice left in my front squat).

Zercher squat 345x1
Note: super easy. It's been half a year since I tried these, so I left some gas in the tank (not to mention I was lifting in a bench press rack). No Partials today. The equipment and weights just aren't there to make it happen.
OHP 175x1, 135x9
Note: both crazy easy. I'm not sure of this is because of practice, the lack of squat partials, or the fact that I stopped all shoulder assistance. Regardless, it looks like we've got some pounds left to squeeze out of the press.
T bar row 4 plates x 20

Total time: 28min

I did less stretching today than usual (I need to get back to work), but I've been doing light sets of hammer curls in between stretches. Previously I was doing lateral raises, but I may keep hammer curls instead since they don't interfere with my other large lifts.

In general, I feel pretty friggin awesome. Physical and emotional health feels pretty stellar. I may have gained some weight over the weekend...not ok.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

High Frequency Training Day 3

Went out drinking last night. Got in around 2a, but got a full 8hrs of sleep.

Today I pulled some awesome PR'S out of my ass

Front Squat 315x1
Note: this has been a long term goal for fucking ever. Considering a week ago this would have sounded insane, I'm quite pleased.

Partial Front Squat 575x3x1, 5 second holds

Overhead press 165x1
Note: piss poor. This has been feeling heavier and heavier each day. Not sure if I need to swap it out or increase the reps in my max set (in general...I've seen better adaptations from higher rep upper body pressing). I'm really just looking for an excuse to go back to weighted dips.

TBar row 185x20
Note: getting more difficult, but very enjoyable

Total time: 28min

Stretching my hips and shoulders for 10 to 20min was not only a great idea, I think it is necessary for daily training. I feel loose and bouncy as fuck.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

High Frequency Day 2

Day 2
Drank a bit last night, but was still in bed by 1230a. Got up at 730a to train.

Squat warmups didn't feel great. I'm not sore...it was more like my muscles and tendons being like 'wat, this shit again?'

Once I hit yesterday's max, it was clear I had way more in me, so I kept going.

Front Squat: 300 (PR)
Partial Front Squat: 565, hold for 3 sets of 5 seconds
Overhead Press: 170x1, 130x8
T bar rows: 4 plates x 6. The mother fucking bar kept on sliding away. Chalking today up to a loss and finding a corner to lift in tomorrow.

Total time lifting: 32min

The front squat felt good, but is likely a fluke. We'll see tomorrow. The overhead press was brutal. A grind all the way up. I added a backoff set for some smoother volume. I heart partial front squats, and they're so easy to level up. Let's keep this train moving.

I stretched today and yesterday for 15min after lifting. This is something I've never really done before, but I'm a fan. It definitely aids the way I feel post workout. I came into the gym today ready to bust shit up. Gooooooood. Gooooooood.

Friday, September 23, 2016

High Frequency Training Day1

High frequency weight training usually comes out in articles holding hands with promises of increased muscle mass and strength from rapid nervous adaptations. I.e. you practice thing, you get better at thing, profit.

I've flirted with the idea of high frequency training for years. Every time I come close, the idea of super low volume scares me away. That being said, I owe it to myself to give it a go. My training right now is going well, but it's draining as all hell. I wish I could train more often, but I know that lifting with my current strategy 3 days in a row kills me. I am full of butts.

Today I started driving into high frequency training modeled after Eric Bugenhagen ' s approach. It goes like:
- train 1-3 movements every day (Eric states less is better)
- 1 to 2 working sets per movement. Preferably hit a max single and call it a day
- when you hit a plateau (1-3 weeks), switch the flat lined movement for something similar

Absolute worst case scenario, I know I can get myself into the shape I want for next year's Dragoncon in 2-3 months. If there was ever a time to experiment with something new, this is it.

Today's training Front Squat 280x1
Overhead Press 165x1
TBar row 3 plates x 20

Easy all around, but it's just day 1. My energy before and after is very high (very different than I usually feel post workout). Squatting and pressing was easy even though I did the same thing in higner volume yesterday.

The entire session took 30 minutes. I used the next 20 minutes to stretch (something I rarely do for that long).

Friday, August 26, 2016

People are people

I just got back from a team summit with my company in Canada. Besides eating a shit ton of delicious asian food (ramen, korean bbq) and hearing what my coworkers thought I would look like after 4yrs of phone conversations (pasty, short, pants hiked to my nips, beardless, and a surfer bro), I got an opportunity to learn and reinforce some soft skills from the head honcho in HR.
Here are a few things that stuck with me...

1. Maslow ' s Hierchy of Needs when applied to stress
I'm not going to pretend I understand the full extend of Maslow ' s hierarchy of needs. In short, Maslow built a construct that tries to understand what motivates people (diagram from wiki is below).

Each need on the pyramid (starting at the base) must be satisfied before the subsequent needs further up the pyramid are something obtainable. The takeaway from my summit was that people tend to fall further and further down the pyramid the more stressed they are.

Professionally, I need to work on my approach to handling client problems with this in mind rather than moving them forward on my agenda.

2. Influencing people to do what you want by mother fucking inception

This topic is unrelated to the previous two (2), but nonetheless was impressive. Our presenter demanded attention in a way I've never seen before. She never once raised her voice or told us to do something. She was personable while also being professional. Most impressive, she displayed a skill (it was discussed during our seminar, but put into action on accident) that I would like to practice. Mother fucking inception, or getting someone to do something you want by making them believe it was their idea.

One of our team leads was standing and taking a call while our presenter talked. It wasn't distracting, but it was very noticeable. Instead of telling him to sit down, she asked him (with genuine concern) if he would be more comfortable if he sat down.

Holy shit. Everyone at the table is very sharp and took immediate notice to what she did (a good laugh was had Har Har Har). Without calling rank or imposing her will, she had created a situation where she was telling someone else what she wanted. If he accepted, he lost no face or pride. If he rejected, she would have continued on without skipping a beat. He had not rejected a demand, so she would have not lost anything in the process. If he got upset, he would look like a douchebag and have lost face in front of his team. It was literally one sentence that told a story, and I loved it. More than anything, I want to practice this for myself. How can I create a win win situation for both parties and still get what I want?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Lessons I Have to Keep Learning

Fast lifts done right make me feel younger, stronger, and more athletic the longer I keep them in my stable.

Decent short term strength and size peaking is possible and (kind of) easy. The intensity and volume used to extract these peaks is not sustainable and will lead to staleness if used over a long period of time.

If your routine takes a spreadsheet to remember or is hard to read, it's too fucking complicated. Your progression should not read like a Java script.

If your goal is not sport or task specific, keep to powerbuilding.

Limit the number of main movements in your stable at any given time. Strive to increase the low and high rep maximums of these movements for as long as possible, then swap them out when you stall out.

An addendum to the above. 1-2 weeks of bad workouts is not stalling out. Focus on quality and quantity of both your rest and nutrition before making a call to change gears.

On the other hand, small bodyparts lifted exclusively for volume and the pump may swap out movements anytime.

Neglect abdominal work and conditioning at your peril. They are the glue that tie your effort into strength.

Speaking of conditioning...kettlebell swings are vastly underrated. For incredibly low risk, you can perform a useful form conditioning that brings blood to muscles that are apt to shut off or get extremely tight.

Practice all rep ranges. There should not be a point where you can not put up a decent 10rm in a movement you regularly practice.

I generally classify movements to keep myself honest. Every movement is a ratio between these categories, but there is always a focus on one or the other.
- moving weight
- feeling weight
- getting an extreme stretch and contraction with a pump as a goal
- isometric contractions and partials

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Injured Training: July 2016

On July 3rd, I blew most of the skin off my right hand with fireworks. Guess what, lifting weights and second degree burns don't really get along. Who fucking knew?

With the exception of herniating a disc in my back, I've never stopped lifting because of an injury (even then, I only took a few weeks off), and this time is no different. I really just needed to see what movements are in and which movements are out until my hand is better.

1. Rack pulls and shrugs
Any heavy pressure on my hand causes blood to well and splash out of the open burns (no fooling...I bled all over the bar). Although I can still hit ~600 rack pulls, the pressure is pretty unbearable to the point where volume is more a test of pain than it is training. Although I'm doing shrugs a bit lighter (425-500#), the bottom of each rep also hurts something wicked.

2. Sumo deadlifts
Same reason as rack pulls and shrugs. However, I may be taking an indefinite hiatus from heavy deadlifting. Before I got injured I was working up my 10 rep max on these, and actually hit my first long term goal of 405x10. The size increases that went along with this was pretty awesome, but the price I had to pay with the rest of my training isn't really worth it. I've found I get better size in my traps and better strength gains to my squat if I stick with Olympic variations instead of heavier deadlifts. I'm not a powerlifter...so fuck it.

Other than that...it's pretty much business as per usual. I'm revisiting an old Hepburn routine for everything except my Oly lifts (which I go for a PR on every time I'm in the gym) with some added assistance for my weak points.

As a side note...I prefer floor press over bench press for a few reasons.
- I fucking hate asking a random for a spot
- I've yet to find a bench grip or width that's easy on my shoulders
- Bracing against the ground with a flat back feels WAY better than bracing my feet/hips against the ground

Front Squat 5x2-3, 3x6-8+
- ~2min rest in between sets
- Add one rep for the power and pump sets each workout. Increase weight when you hit 5x3 or 3x8
Overhead Press 5x2-3, 3x6-8+
- ~1min rest in between sets
- Add one rep for the power and pump sets each workout. Increase weight when you hit 5x3 or 3x8
- super set with weighted ab wheel rollouts
Assistance work
- Handstand pushups
- Lateral raises (drop set until failure. bent over, partial range of motion to avoid trap activation)

Powerclean or Snatch High Pull 1x5, 5x3-5
- ~1min rest in between sets
- increase the weight when you hit the max reps indicated
Floor Press 5x2-3, 3x6-8+
- ~1min rest in between sets
- Add one rep for the power and pump sets each workout. Increase weight when you hit 5x3 or 3x8
- super set with weighted chinups (same rep/set scheme)
Romanian Deadlift 1x10, 350 method
- ~2min rest in between sets
- the 350 method refers to completing 50 reps in 3 sets (i.e. you would hit your top set of 1x10, then the next sets would strive to hit 50 reps between the sum of all reps completed in the final 3 sets)
- super set with hammer curls (1x10 of cheat reps, 3x10)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This is not even my final form: July 4th weekend

To summarize...I had a hell of a weekend.

- 1st car accident
- Blew off most of the skin on my right hand operating fireworks
- Partied under a bridge at an impromptu rave

On one hand, this kinda sucks. On the other, I'm happy weird shit like this still happens. I plan on lifting later with my half hand to see how far I can push myself.

Good times. Gooooooood times.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fuck the fucking fucks

I got in my first car accident today. Some piece of shit turned left in front of me (he wasn't in a turn lane) as I was going straight. Cops show up and it's basically my word against his. No citations given out, I just listen to this clown talk about I turned into him instead of the other way around.

Lessons learned
- get a dash cam
If I had footage of this, he would have been ultra mega fucked. I would have enjoyed taking that bag of dicks down a peg after he lied his ass off.

- have my paperwork in line
My glove compartment is full of junk. The cop looked at me like...is this kike fucking serious? The other guy can't drive in a straight line, but he had his stuff ready to go.

- have sex with Cameron Diaz
Might be nice

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Difference Between Cheating and Breaking Your Diet

This has not been my best day.

I stumbled out of bed at 3:30am to catch a flight, work a full fast paced day upon landing in PA, then stumbling to my rental car in order to drive to get some much needed dinner.

After a whole 5min of looking, I booked it into a pizza shop and ate three giant ass slices. Immediately, I feel like shit. This wasn't some planned cheat meal used to restock glycogen or break a carb fast. This was me feeling depressed and too lazy to get a meat salad at the grocery store next door. I wanted to talk briefly about the difference between deviations from your diet. One plays a purpose, the other throws you off the rails.

Cheating on your diet plays a purpose. It refuels you, it allows you to let go and enjoy some decadence with friends (who usually look at you like you are a weirdo when you pass on every pizza and cake passed around), and reminds you that you can use food for pleasure rather than enjoyment periodically without any major detriment to your goals or health.

Breaking your diet has no purpose. It is filling a void, or replacing emotion with sugar and salt. 100% of the time I feel guilty after breaking my diet. Not just because I know I've set myself back days of hard work, but because I know I would have felt immeasurably better if I had just stuck to my plan and eaten like a human being.

Be a cheater, not a breaker. Get stronger.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Real Strength versus Gym Strength

This weekend, we filmed movie 2 for my new channel, POWER LEVEL. The featured movement was how to clean and press like darth vader (a la Jedi when he tosses Sidious into the void).

We filmed the physical act first while I was fresh, and I quickly ran into a brick wall. Cleaning a human being was really not that difficult, but the press was next to impossible. I can make all of the excuses in the world, but the fact is, I was unable to press something above my head that would be cake on a barbell.

This type of thing pisses me right off. It always does. Physical acts outside of the gym should be a test drive of the sweat and blood I've left on the bar, not the other way around. I want to be strong enough for anything and everything. Not being able to do something like this is not ok. Although I'm starting to train for the Highland Games later this year, this weekend showed me that I need to push myself into the strongman gear and diet now rather than later.

Getting stronger.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tips and Tricks: Positive Reflections

I want you to try something.

For the foreseeable future, say something positive (in your head) about every person you pass. Seriously, do it. It doesn't matter if they are attractive, an ogre, a screaming child, a happy couple...whatever. It doesn't have to be a complicated thought either.

"They have a nice style, I can tell they have pride in their appearance"
"His nose has a lot of character"
"I bet she's a great grandmother"

It does NOT matter if this person is being an asshole, minding their own business, or already being kind to you. It does NOT matter if these things are true. These are merely thoughts echoing around in your head. The important takeaway is that you make the tiniest effort to notice something good about someone else. Once you become comfortable with this expand this out to your surroundings as well.

"It's a beautiful mother fucking day today"
"The air smells wonderful"

The reason I'm asking you to do this is because of reflections. Ever notice that when you are feeling great, everyone else seems pretty cool too? When you see someone being a dick (in real life or online) you are less likely to get sucked into their negative vortex, and just end up laughing about the fact that they are losing their shit. Likewise, when you are feeling down, it's easier to notice that everyone around you is being a jerk.

The way you feel about yourself is a reflection of the way you feel about your world and vice versa. Beautiful thoughts and feelings attract other beautiful thoughts and feelings. Negative thoughts and feelings are chum for negative feelings as well. Projecting positive thoughts into your brain about the world around you (even fabricated) positively influence the way you feel about yourself by inviting more positive thoughts and feelings your way. In a sense, it is a way to 'fake it till you make it' for positivity. Try it for a week and see how your outlook has shifted.

One more thing. With all of these positive vibes in your brain about strangers, make sure to share these thoughts about your friends, SO's, and family. It's strange to think about, but people don't really get compliments that often. When compliments are doled out, too often they are direct and to the point, and do not have thought put behind them. You'll make someone's day who is close to you, and spread your own positive reflection even more.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New YouTube Channel: Power Level

A few weeks ago, my friend's wife asked me what I would do if money was not an issue. I had an answer in my pocket immediately.

'Create and publish content on youtube about strength training for cosplay. The channel would also feature all of the gaming shorts I've been writing for years but have never made.'

I was joking, and also trying to grieve (see my last post), but something clicked when I said that. How many times have I dreamt of putting on my Batman costume and creating an impromptu music video (answer every day I was stuck in Atlanta traffic). How many times have I imagined giving advice to people just starting out trying to look like their con hero or villain only to get paralyzed by (bad) advice or the standard 5x5 + GOMAD*? How many times do people spend their hard earned money on bullshit supplements because marketing is more powerful than reason? I've wanted to address all of this in a public arena for years, and my personality mixed with the admittedly fringe niche I'm going for are unique enough to make an impact.

This, however, presents an issue. I'm still a work in progress. My credibility will be incredibly shaky in the beginning stages of this channel both due to my incredibly average strength and my bodyfat percentage. Unless I get myself in line by the time I publish content, make the content about me improving, or be silly enough for people not to care (more likely, it will be a mix of 2 and 3), the channel may be dead before it begins. For the first time in my life, there are real consequences to not being in shape (other than no one wanting to take pictures of the chubby cosplayer). It's...fucking excited and scary. I'll start to post content on this blog as it starts to stream. No reason to lose a couple of years of history just because I'm starting a new chapter.

*GOMAD = gallon of milk a day
I kept 3 gallons at both my house and my office. My gas could have been considered a war crime. I literally had to throw out sheets because my night milk farts had sullied them. I pissed off a girl cause I couldn't cum during a BJ. It wasn't that it didn't feel nice. It was that if I released tension and let my balls empty, I would release a mountain of day dairy in her Italian face. In short, be a nomad, don't do GOMAD.