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