20170502 strengthen your wrists for advanced huery

T-nation is an abomination (yes yes not even worth picking on as Fatman continually reminds me). Their new go-to article format is like “Eight disgusting things people do at the gym” with each “thing” written by a different author. In week one they post the article. Then in weeks two thru nine, they post something like “Tip – A Disgusting Thing People do at the gym by John Romano”

Anyway of course I still read it every week because i like being outraged and it’s good blog post fodder and 1% of the time there’s an interesting or helpful article.  I took a look at this:


because it sounded dinosairish at least not the same old “how to build quads without squatting by Ben bruno” or “6 tips to build your arms by seriously just take steroids and/or gain fifty pounds you nerd – people have been writing shit like this for a hundred years do you really think how you turn your pinkies on concentration curls makes a fucking difference” sorry that’s not a real article. 

Anyway, it started off rather unpromising with the author looking like a fat? bearded hippy. And some girl to help him demonstrate who was at least pretty but not in bikini. And tips were basic like “stretch your wrist by extending your arm in front of you and pulling your fingers back with your other hand”

But then this just tucked in at the end.

Tom Morrison is amazing.



 I was bothered that obie trice was not on the detroit vs everybody track or the extended cut. May splice this in and replace some of the subpar verses



Scantily clad women = R&B

Cough syrup, Pyrex glassware, the artist appearing as baby, president or animal, or anything purple or neon = trap music

Quasi Isometrics are a Hoax


forced reps quasi-isometric elite Russian military martial arts training

sorry Fatman for picking on T-mag again but some people like when I do it, and some people need to hear the truth (of course I know that the Venn Diagram of these two groups of people is two distinct circles but it’s fine)


TLDR: super-duper slow, e.g. a four minute pushup or 30 second positive and 30 second negative bench press reps.

First of all, it’s a Russian secret. Coach’s Rule #1: Saying something is a [nationality] secret means that it’s bullshit.  Pretty much the only actual Russian secret is using steroids in drug-tested competitions (yes this is also an American secret I know).  Not that the Russians don’t have a lot of knowledge about exercise, e.g. Sheiko, Supertraining, etc etc ad infinitum.  But it’s funny that Louie Simmons studied their methods for years and came back with all kinds of zany ideas, but didn’t really think much of super slow, high intensity training.

“Like being water-boarded,” “brutal,” “hellish,” “hell on earth,” “self-torture” are the adjectives Morrison uses to describe this technique in just the first section.  LOL at the bullshit hyperbole, but let’s just agree that he exaggerates a tiny bit and that QI is very hard and painful.

You know what else is crazy hard and exactly like elite military training? (trust me I attended multiple elite military training programs some of them more than once FML)  Get into pushup position.  Stay there until you’re tired.  Do an occasional pushup if you get bored.  There you go – realistic military fitness training guaranteed to result in fatigue – and it will do approximately as much for your performance as QI.

Hey I’ve got a better program. Instead of doing a pushup for 4 minutes, do one for 8.  That must be twice as intense.  No wait instead of doing a bench press with 30% 1RM for 30 second eccentrics and concentrics, do it with %1 IRM.  Twenty minutes up, twenty minutes down, baby.  Visigoth secret.

I hate to break it to you but I’m sure someone thought of this about 100 years ago, and if it were effective – people would train like this.  Like real people who are successful at things – like actual nonsecret Russian athletes, not just Ellington Darden and a few obscure martial artists.

Come on at least cite some poorly-done studies, guy.

I’m not saying that super slow training with light weights, or slow painful calisthenics have no value whatsoever.  I’m just saying they don’t have very much.  I’m apparently the world’s biggest hater of 5/3/1 – and I don’t even know what activity or sport you are training for – or anything about you – but if I had to refer you to either 5/3/1 or a program based on QI, it’s no contest, at least 5/3/1 is not a fucking Russian secret.

Man I’m glad I don’t train at a commercial gym anymore.  Brb next week thousands of idiots doing 30 second reps on bench press, thanks Nate Morrison.

“But be aware of your own strength once you start doing this! I know guys who’ve accidentally torn off door handles after a few months of QI training.”

ha ha don’t get too strong guys.

Mini Me’s and Cat Bee

wp-1478137001643.jpgEveryone is happy.

Coach Jr btw is 59th percentile height, 78th percentile weight and 89th percentile head size this is the first time in history someone in my family has been larger than average.  May get the growth chart framed.

Mon 10/31/16

wt 172.2

CGB: 220 x 3; 225,230,235,240 x 2

MRS: 295,300,305,310,315,320,325 x 1

Mil Press: 141,142.5 x 3

SLDL: 205,210 x2

time: 1:11 distracted by planning my nanowrimo novel which will be a version of Don Quixote in the original Spanish that is verbally identical to the original but infinitely richer.


Tue 11/1/16

wt: 172.4

Floor Press: 230,235,240,245,250,255 x 2

Squat: 355,360,365,370,375 x 1

BTN Press: 112.5,113.5 x 3

SLDL: 215,220,225 x 3

time: 1:19

Wed 11/2/16

wt: 170.8

CGB: 245,250,255,260,265,270,275 x 1

MRS: 225 x 6; 230,235,240,245,250,255 x 3

Mil Press: 143.5,145,146 x 2

SGDL: 250,255,260,265 x 3

BB Shrug: 305 x 10

time: 1:14

in my sledgehammery i noticed that whatever muscle moves my hand towards my forearm seems to be weak.  Like put your hand down and keep your arm straight.  Now bend your wrist and only your wrist in the thumb direction. Obviously the ROM is limited.

Anyway: what muscle does this?  Is it the Flexor Carpi Radialis?  Can I strengthen it or will I just get tendonitis or something?  I tried holding a ten pound plate in my hand and doing hammer curls without bending my elbow.  It went OK.

I don’t like the look of it.

let’s get this out of the way first:

wt: 171.0

Squat: 45×4, 135×3, 225×2, 315,355,385,405,420×1; 355×3, 360,365,370×2, 375,380,385×1

squat time: 1 hr

Bench: 45x8p, 135×4, 225×2, 275,305,325,335,345×1; MGB: 285,290,295,300,305×2, 310,315×1

Deadlift: 225×2, 315,360,385,400x1; SGD: 320x7x1

Time: 2:19

Now let’s take a look at Christian Thibaudeau’s t-nation article, Bulgarian Training Simplified.

Here’s what you need to know…

1. His analysis of the Bulgarian system contains several errors.

2. The attached program is total bullshit.

the only assistance work consists of front squats and the power variation of the competitive lifts

Wrong. Abidjaev said that he thought he would someday eliminate back squats.  His champions did not train like this.  Broz was skeptical.

Elite athletes in all sports fragment their daily training volume into more than one daily session, but the original Bulgarian system took this to the extreme.

All right, this is a common straw man that I need to address.  PL2Win says, “there isn’t a single powerlifter out there who truly uses the Bulgarian Method.”  The Bulgarians trained six times a day, possibly to keep them in line.  Fine.  Many of Broz’s athletes train two times a day.  Many other weightlifters train 1-3x a day.  Ok.  I usually train once a day.  Great.  If you meet the other four characteristics that Thibs (I’m going to call him this, not because I’m mocking him or because I’m his pal, but because it’s easier to spell and type) lists (extreme frequency, extreme specificity, max effort, low reps), then you are doing Bulgarian Training.  If you squat to max every day, you are doing Bulgarian Training.  If you squat to max 5 days a week, bench to max 3 days a week, and do some shit for your deadlift, you are doing Bulgarian Training.  I personally consulted the Prime Minister of Bulgaria and he approved my clarification, but told me to remind readers that if you are training every day but using a percentage system, you’re not doing Bulgarian Training, you’re doing Sheiko.

Practicing the same lifts every day or multiple times a day is the best way to become technically efficient.  Strength-skill work is great if you want to become good at a specific movement, but it’s not the best way to build overall strength

So if you are good at the clean, the snatch, the back and front squat, you are not “overall strong?”  If you are good at the bench, squat, and deadlift you’ve not built “overall strength?” What are you weak at?  Leg curls?

Sure we want to be the best we can, but enjoying what we do is also a big part of it. Most of us need some variety to maintain our motivation.

Honestly, I know what he’s saying and sometimes get burned out on certain exercises, and I drop them.  Right now I would like to drop the following exercises: Squat, Bench, Deadlift.  Ha ha!  Here’s a rule of thumb that applies to everything from the NBA to the Starcraft Championships: If winning is not enough motivation, you will not be the winner.

Very few elite weightlifters actually look muscular. There are exceptions (Lu Xiaojun, Klokov, etc.), but most don’t look much more muscular than the average guy you see in the gym.

What fucking gym do you go to?  Oh, that’s right the secret gym in the T-Nation compound where Tim Patterson has rigged the water fountains to dispense Plazma.  All elite weightlifters except the big fat heavyweight ones look muscular

It’s very hard on the nervous system.  Although it’s not metabolically demanding because of the low mechanical workload, working up to a 1 rep max is very draining emotionally and neurologically. It can even affect the hormonal system (the adrenal glands especially) over time.

I’ve been doing this shit for a year and a half.  So either:

A) I’m a genetically gifted superman

B) You don’t know what you’re talking about because you never tried it.

C) You did try it but it was too hard because you jumped in 110% like an idiot

D) You’re a pussy.

Choose one or more.  Take your time.  (Hint: I’d like you to choose A, but sadly, it’s not the right answer)

People have recently been saying that “CNS fatigue” isn’t real. Well maybe it is or maybe it isn’t, but something is definitely going on when you work up to your max frequently.

People have recently been saying that the “Loch Ness Monster” isn’t real. Well maybe it is or maybe it isn’t…

I do have a criticism of one of Broz’s platitudes/anecdotes.  I’ve never liked the one where he talks about how if you were a garbage man, you would be very sore when you first started out, but you wouldn’t take a day off or you’d get fired, and in a little while you’d be tossing cans and joking around.  My problem is not that it’s not true but that the proper analogy would be that you’d need to throw the cans farther than anyone else had ever done it before, otherwise it would be better to convince the boss to let you work every other day or something.

Listen, it is still completely undetermined whether:

1. Bulgarian training can/will make you an elite powerlifter

2. It’s worth training like this.  Not in the sense of “I don’t want to spend fifteen hours a week lifting” but in the sense of “I could have done this in ten”

However it has been established by numerous internet maniacs, including myself, that when performed with a proper buildup and knowing how to do the lifts, your adrenal glands and/or CNS, if those are actually real things, will not explode from this type of training.

Doing the original Bulgarian system is pretty much a full-time job. If you have an actual full-time job, it will be hard to do both.

Back to the straw man. Fuck six times a day.  If you squat every day, it takes about an hour.  If you bench and deadlift every day too, it takes more like two hours (the above was maybe my longest workout of the year).  I’m not promising that if you work an eight hour day and spend two hours lifting weights that it’s going to be easy and/or thrilling.  Or that if your job is running a jackhammer or being an infantryman, it’s even going to be possible.  Or that you’re going to be able to watch as much TV as you’d like.  But man walked on the moon, guys survived the Bataan death march, and listen, go to Chaos & Pain to find other examples of hard motherfuckers from days of yore.  I can promise you that it is possible to work for a living and do barbell squatting exercise every day.

The Program

ugh I doubt he did this program.  I don’t think anyone else he trained ever did this program.  Nobody is going to do this program.  Everyone who reads this article and wants to try:

A) is going to use an actual Bulgarian program

B) is going to change this one to make it even more shitty because they’re a T-nation pussy (“can I do this three times a week instead of four” “can i run sprints on the treadmill instead of training legs”)

C) is going to just make a comment in the facebook forum or retweet it and not do anything because they’re a T-nation pussy.

There’s so much to criticize and so little point (see above).  But really quickly:

1. Great idea to lead off with Zercher squats.  Because for a competitive powerlifter a) this matters b) you want to lift heavy weights with your fucking elbow tendons.

2. Percentages are not Bulgarian.  Okay fine, let me clarify:  Broz criticizes them but sometimes uses them as a rough guideline.  I make a guideline to keep my volume at 80% or more (otherwise I’ll be tempted to drop down to 135 and be a sissy).  But 90% of 4×3 of your 3RM is not fucking Bulgarian.

3. Periodization is a fucking scam.  Again let me clarify:  Training lightly a week before a powerlifting meet is one thing.  Lifting less during football season than in preseason is a similar thing.  Making complicated flow charts with Speed/Strength Phase IIIa -> Strength/Speed IIIb -> Power/Endurance Phase IV is utter nonsense perpetrated by the NSCA.  I have a theory that complex periodization is a Russian hoax that was motivated by:

a. revenge for our SDI hoax

b. an attempt to cover up copious steroid use

c. a need for the thousands of Russian sports scientists to seem intellectual/necessary

It’s not just me; Louie Simmons and Brooks Kubik (two VERY different guys) have both figured out that these complicated phases are a joke.  (Sadly, Rip has not)

4. Bulgarian training may be too much work for you but make sure you get in enough extra bodybuilding training: “Pump-enhancing techniques like partials, slow reps, rest/pause, double contraction and the like can also be used.”

5. How about, for an intermediate/semi-advanced type (target audience of T-Nation), starting off training every day or 6x a week, but not going to a real heavy max the first day, and not doing very much volume.  Do this on squats only.  Then, over time, you can try benching and deadlifting more frequently, increasing your max weights, and doing more volume.  You know, like Broz suggests.  Or, try this completely unproven program from a guy who doesn’t know shit.  It’s up to you.

squat question

The Swede writes:

coach, I want to ask you about two things regarding your squatting. please remember that your strength are ridiculously superior to mine.

1. when you squat, you tend to fall forward with your torso. isn’t this very taxing on your lower back? or are you just that awesome?

2. when you hit bottom, your butt winks a bit (as do mine). do you perceive this as a problem at any time?

anyone who prefaces their questions with flattery/self-debasement gets a free t-shirt.  i’m just kidding.  thank you, and i will do my best…

here is a video of me squatting 385 from today; it is at half speed for your analystic pleasures hence the first 5 seconds are of me standing there. (fuck you to anyone who thinks this is full speed yes i anticipated your joke celica)

1. I used to worry about bending forward.  I also did it when I squatted in Chucks with my feet wide apart.  Here’s the deal – the bar has to be always over the center of your foot or you’ll tip over unless you’re squatting like 10 kg.  If you watch the video you’ll see that this is for the most part true.  In order for this to be achieved, you can either 1) let your knees go forward or 2) shoot your hips back.  Back in my Westside days I used to believe that you needed to have vertical shins or your kneecaps would shoot off and this made me lean over even more.  But it was all good as long as I remembered to do a squat and hit parallel and not just stick my ass out and do a good morning. (now squatting wide stance like that hurts my knee)  Squatting is not taxing on my lower back in recent memory (knocks on wood) but I also wear a belt usually 275 or more lbs.

source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/squat-mechanics-a-deep-analysis

2. i don’t worry about butt wink. a lot of ink has been spilled in recent years over this.  to me it’s a sign that I went deep enough.  to bolster my position, i just googled it and didn’t read any of the articles that said that it was harmful because they looked scary and could recommend that I foam roll.  Instead I found this: http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/Injuries  – where it says it may be caused by tight hamstrings but is probably nothing to worry about. anyone else want to chime in, feel free.  The older i get the less i realize I know what the fuck i am talking about squat form especially my own.  that’s why i like rippetoe and the powerlifting2win guy who I can just read and ape.

weight: 173.0, AM in tshirt, boxers and sox, not as bad as i thought it was going to be but i need to get this under control

Squat: …385×1; 260,265×3

Bench: …315×1; 260,265,270,275×3

some days you got it some days you don’t

Speed deadlift: 210×3,3; 215×3,3

i did some conventional and some sumo, i know i change what i’m doing deadlift-wise every month.  i think conventional because: 1) it’s closer to my foot position in squat (if that’s a thing; pl2win says it is) and 2) on good days i can pull more sumo but if my knee is sore i can do more conventional, and sumo sometimes makes my knee sore 3) deadlift slippers are easier to put on than chucks 4) i now have a really close stance in deadlift which i think is gonna help because pl2win says that I have short arms.

time: 1:28

Responses and a Video

hsilman: I feel that Evans is far more thorough and unbiased than Shirer. He also doesn’t try and pretend that Nazis happened because of Martin Luther or any other bullshit. /endargument

I enjoyed this summary of the contemporary reviews of Shirer.  German historians were furious about the Luther->Bismarck->Hitler thing.  (Also that it would affect US/German relations at a time when we needed to work together to defeat the Communists – a view shared by extreme conservatives in the States).  They preferred something called totalitarianism to explain why the Nazis took over.  In my opinion, this is an attempt to say, “Look, a lot of European countries got dictators in the 20s and 30s – it could have happened anywhere.”  So while I don’t really know much about Martin Luther, I think something more concrete is needed to explain why Spain, Italy, Poland, and Russia ended up differently.

hsilman: I will reiterate my argument that you should avoid any of your planned movements beyond the very lowest of the partials. Maybe one pin above that at most. You can “squat” 1000# for 3″ at the top and it will never do shit for your actual squat a foot lower.


jackman: I had a good Thanksgiving, thanks for asking.


Jackman: You might want to check your burn laws too mane.

Not going to bother as my wife won’t let me.  In SC you could burn pretty much by calling a voicemail and leaving a message.

Jack: And what’s your computer doing? Is it like not connecting at all or is it saying it’s connected but won’t let you do anything online?

It suddenly won’t find the wireless network.  Then it will find it but refuse to connect to it.  Meanwhile 11 other devices in the house are connecting.  Magically it starts working again after about 12 hours.  I suspect part of the problem is my father-in-laws cable modem/router, which has like 2 stars on Amazon.  I’m taking over the internet duties here, and I’ve already ordered a new fancy-dancy modem and a (separate) router from the 22nd century.

hsilman: Now that you’ve had this equipment for a little while and have had a chance to put some decent weight on it, what’s your opinion on it? Especially the rack and cap bar, as that’s what I plan on getting. Is it going to fall apart when you load up 500#?

Rack is still 9/10, bar is still 10/10.  Watch the video and you will see that the bar – much like my cock – barely bends even with a quarter ton on it.  But also watch what happens when I rerack 255 on bench.

celica: Coach what’s your opinion on Lil B? [link to video from Ultimate Bitch mixtape]

I actually have that album, because I download thousands of songs at a time from mixtapetorrent.com.  Then I go through and delete the ones I don’t like by the hundreds.  Including this whole album.  As an interesting note, I still have 94 songs in my MP3 library that contain the word “Bitch” in the title or album name.

Fatman: The LB bypasses the weak point in the squat (quads) pretty effectively. The classical Rippletoe / sqhuatmourning physique boasts an enormous set of buttocks, broad, womanly hips and solid hamstrings, with zero to no quad development.

True, although a bit of an exaggeration.  I mean you’re not gonna end up with steatopygia like you make it sound.  But there’s a valid reason why bodybuilders do other stuff for quads besides just squat.  cf what Vince Gironda had to say on the subject

Fatman: As to the bench, I really don’t see the need for anyone to do anything more complicated than 5×5 until they get to at least the 245-275 range.

What about 3×3, or 10,8,6 – or 4×5, or 5×4?  Huh?

Fatman (advising celica about a bench press contest at his gym): If there are no rules at this contest, then do a simple PL progression where you cut reps and increase weight from week to week. Also start practicing bouncing, cutting depth and lifting your ass off the bench – no reason not to do it if it’s allowed. Also minimize all exercises that are not bench-related, goes without saying.

That’s my advice too.

Today’s training program:

Wt: 169.0

Squat: …315×1

(bent bar footage @ :19)

Partial Squat #14: 405, 475, 535×1

BTN: …118.5×5

Bench: …255×1

BP Bench #19: …355×1

Sumo: 265×3,3,2,2 in 21 seconds

i could pull the slack out maybe.  thanks to practice and pl2win, i now can get toes to plates, though you can’t really tell from this angle.



not really, and I’m not gonna call 5×5 @ 65% “brutal” like some rivals I won’t mention.  But now that I’ve declared a 2 hour “Fatman” limit on my workouts, I have to really manage my time and push the pace.  Gotta do a set of squats every 5 minutes working up to my max.  Only 9 warmup sets, then ya go for it.  I can do my earliest warmup sets a little faster, in order to save some time and get maybe an 8 minute break before I go for PR, but keep in mind I also have to press and do a set of band pullaparts between those squat sets.  The optimistic schedule for volume sets that I made in my head before I did a single rep – has to be rigorously adhered to. Usually it is 3 reps of squats, 3+ reps of presses, every 5 minutes, with either pullaparts, or if I’ve done all those – setting up the stupid damn mats to deadlift off of.  Either the squat reps or the press reps HAVE to be done by 1:30 so I can start deadlifting.

Sometimes I get tired and strike up a short conversation with one of the 3 people I can even stand, IOT procrastinate a couple extra minutes.  Same thing with walking over to fill my water bottle.  Still, I’m pretty good at getting it done in 2 hours, and am practically hyperventilating by the time I do my last set of squats.

I’m not telling you this to impress you with what a hard worker I am.  (When the phrase “try-hard” comes to mind during a workout, which it often does, I push it far far away).

I’m just telling you that:

1. weight training can be good aerobic-ish exercise even for the non-obese, and it doesn’t have to involve crossfittery. Just do 77% of your max for 3 reps every 5 minutes for almost an hour.

2. i’m the guy dripping with sweat, panting, monopolizing 2 pieces of equipment for 2 hours, grunting, never taking headphones off or making eye contact with anyone for fear they will talk to me and delay my workout with platitudes, dumb questions, or idle chatter.  See “try-hard,” above.

It is definitely whey protein.  Been back on it for a week, an old brand that I used to use (Walmart Body Fortress whatever) and the gastric disturbances have returned.  Off to the supplement store tomorrow to purchase another tub of rendered cow hides.

Weight: 188.8 (-1.8)

Low Bar Squat: 45×6, 45bbx5, 135bbx4, 225bbx3, 315bbx2, 370bb, 410bb, 440, 450; 360×3,3,4,3,3,3,4,4,3

Behind the Neck Press: 45×8, 95×4, 120×3, 139×2, 149×2, 154, 159, 164, 169, 174; 130x6x3

Sumo+strong band: 6 sets, all PRs, up to 170 off 2.5″ deficit

Time: 2:00

The other people are just there.

I don’t know if I’m developing adult-onset autism, or I’m just a sociopath, but I had this interaction today…

First, quick backstory for new readers:  The little gray man is the guy who I yelled at for being passive-aggressive and asking me “So what, do you live at the gym?”  Crossfit Chris is the guy who squats 135×3 with excellent form and expensive shoes.

I saw LGM enter the gym, so I was glad that I was wrapping up my workout, and I headed to the locker room, studiously avoiding eye contact.  But then, LGM was there taking a piss at one of two urinals.  Why, guy?  You just started working out.  Why couldn’t you just pee before your workout like every other normal human? Now because of the way the place is laid out I could either stand there awkwardly, retreat, or go ahead and use the other one.  I chose to piss next to him.  CC walked by and saw me and struck up a conversation.  I don’t mind talking while I pee, either to fellow pee-rs or kibitzers.  Though, I understand that a lot of guys are uncomfortable with this, so I never strike up a conversation myself with someone who’s peeing.  LGM finished and went to wash his hands.  I guess the following conversation was colored by the fact that I knew he was listening and judging.

LGM (possible thoughts): Is this Ruiner guy really an aggro meathead loser?  Or does that fact that he’s friendly with almost everyone else mean that there’s something wrong with me?

CC: So, are you guys training heavy again today?

Me: What do you mean “you guys?”

CC: Don’t you always train with a buddy?

Me: No.  I train alone.  … The other people are just…there.

IDK, maybe he confused me with Andy and George who train together and both look like me.

Today’s Cherb Report: Emma was there without the other members of team Lone Star Barbell (Andy and George).  I considered mentioning that I saw pictures of her in her underwear on instagram #12weekTransformation #Paleo #strongHer, but decided that this would be awkward.  She approached me: “You squat sumo, right?” 

She was trying to squat “sumo”, like she used to a few months before the meet, and wanted me to check her form.  “Sumo” referring to squats grated my nerves unreasonably, but I explained to her, that yes, I had a wide stance, like her boyfriend.  But unlike deadlift, where 99% of people either pull sumo with a wide stance, or conventional, there is a lot of gray area in squatting, your foot position doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition between almost touching the rack or touching your heels together.

Checked her form.  It was good, except she needs Chucks for this, not a heeled shoe (she was wearing like a pink weightlifting shoe that is not actually a weightlifting shoe, but they started to give as she pushed her feet out).  Also told her that unlike a high-bar squat where you go down and then you come up, when you squat low-bar aka sumo you have to be a lot better judge of parallel bc going too low will just get you stuck in a hole with 80% of your max (trust me).  Finally said not to worry that they were a little harder than she expected because they work an entirely different set of muscles/skills than the kind of squats she was doing for the last 2 months.

Weight: 189 (-1.8)

Manta Ray Squat: 45×5, 135×4, 225×3, 315, 335, 345, 355, 360; 265x10x3

TSV: 7950

BTN Press: 45×6, 95×3, 115×2, 135×2, 145, 155, 160; 120x5x3

TBTNV: 1800

Sumo+Average Band: 9 sets, all PRs, up to 300 off a 1″ deficit.  Thinking about ordering the next size up in bands.

Chinups: 5×4 all slow and pulled my chest to the bar, feel the burn ah

Neck Harness: 25×20 got away from doing this for a while but I forgot how much I enjoy having a big neck, though really, not doing them for 2 months didn’t seem to hurt any when i see pics of my yoke.  I was up to IDK 65×10 or something before but I figured start back easy, it’s my fucking spine.

Time: 1:50

Powerlifting Meet – Part 4

Deadlift: I did a lot of sets of warmup for the deadlift.  Like 9, increasing the weight 40-70 lbs and decreasing the deficit with each set.  I did this because when I hit maxes in the gym, I’d done a lot of warmup sets beforehand.  And when I did that disappointing 495, I’d only taken maybe 5-6 warmup sets.

My last warmup set was with 445 from 0.5″ inch.  I was going to open with 485, but then after talking to Andy, I chickened out and tried to drop my opener to 475.  At the beginning of the day, they’d announced that you couldn’t change your opener once your flight had started, so I tried to do it near the end of the 3rd flight. 

“I’m not doing that!!  We announced several times that no deadlift openers would be changed after the start of the deadlifts.  I’m too busy right now, and you should have listened to the announcements.”  – Jimmy’s wife, with the microphone on.

I guess that’s what happens when you go home three times.  Miss announcements.  My wife said she didn’t hear me getting chastised.  Also, 485 was easy anyway.

515 was a little harder, and I thought about doing 565 for a world record/change to professional status, but I decided against it.  540 was pretty hard, but now I’m left with second guesses.  And I’m moving so I’ll probably never lift in this fed again anyhow.

I noticed a strong correlation between performance in the meet and cutting weight.  Not saying that there’s a causation.  Just that the people who did the best who I spoke to (several dozen people) seemed to either have actually cut weight or been very close to the upper limit of a higher weight class.  Wolverine cut down from 193.  Last year, he may have cut down from 200 the day before.

There was a guy who weighed 418 there last year.  Not sure what he weighed this year but he did not look any smaller.  Last year he went 605-335-600 in knee wraps.

So I didn’t watch much lifting.  And I only missed about 3 flights out of 12 by going home.  I lifted in 3 others, and I was warming up in 3 others.  So what did I do for the remaining 3+ hours?  I sat in a chair by myself and stared into space.  I brought a book but it was too hard to concentrate to read it.  George’s wife went up on the balcony and took a picture of me sitting and staring.  I noticed her and waved to her and she took another picture.  Hopefully these will be good pics for the blog.

Then the deadlift warmups were right where my chair was, so I had to move.  That’s when I realized the deal.  There were a bunch of guys with their chairs in little groups.  But I was sitting in a lone chair -> lonely.  So I just moved over and started talking to random people (also Wolverine bc I wanted to ask him questions).  I was pretty bored.

I was going to tell you all about what I learned from Wolverine but he posts his training log here, so you can read it yourself.

I think he’s maybe 5’10.  Certainly quite tall for a good 181 lber, at least compared to what I’ve seen.

From his blog in 2013:

Mon – heavy bench
Tues – rep bench variations
Thurs – heavy squat/dead
Fri – rep squat/dead

He says that it has changed a little, idk see for yourself.

He warmed up for his attempts with a lot of unusual practices, like leg presses, and various bands and kettlebell things.

According to PJ (who used to train at the same gym as him), he eats pretty clean and leads a semi-monastic lifestyle, though there are references to him drinking with friends on his blog.

Wolverine and I both agree that PJ is “a character”.

When talking about his training, he said this gem: “Everybody is interested but no one has ever tried it.”

My new training plan is gonna be 6x a week so that I have a day to get things done in my life and also to avoid that one day when I have to train in the evening and then go back the next morning.  Trying to keep the sessions under 2 hours.

pretty much will be doing the same thing for bench as I’ve been doing. 

For deadlift, instead of doing: no band – monster – no band – light – no band – avg, I’ll be doing no band – monster – light – avg. Otherwise the same.

For squat I think I’m going to try doing manta ray to max & volume on one day, then low bar squat for max and volume the next day.  Alternating exercises, but not too many/too crazy seemed to work well for bench and deadlift.  May add in a third day.  Box squats? Partials?  But I like doing low bar EOD, think it is absolutely necessary not to take a long break from my bread and butter.

It will be good not to have a meet for a while and not be under pressure to squat x and do y reps with z by a certain date.  I think that the Bulgarians did a lot of meets though.  Whatever.

Hamstring very sore still and for the past two weeks I’d been taking ibuprofen from 200-800 mg before training.  I think it’s a good idea to get away from that.  Also to reset my squat weights.

Weight: 189.4

Manta Ray Squats: 45×6, 135×3, 185×2, 225; 245×2, 255,265,275,280,285,290,295×1, 245x7x3

Floor Press: 45×10, 95×6, 145×4, 195×3, 245×2, 295; 310×3,4

Sumo+monster: 3 sets from high deficits with light weights (but at least PRs)

Chinups: 3,4,5,5

Good Mornings: 45×5,6, 65×6

^these were hard bc of hamstring, but the stretch felt good.

Time: 1:50

I tapered your girlfriend with another man.

BTW, Broz’s instructions:

When getting ready for a meet, stop pulls 7-10 days out (depending on your conditioning this will vary- better shape you can go 7, worse 10) and continue to squat daily. Just drop the volume and intensity but MAINTAIN the frequency the last 5-8 days (again depends on conditioning) It’s an ‘active rest’. Your back will not lose power in a week – 10 days but your legs will so continue to stimulate them.

For your comp, you might want the 10 days prior to look something like this:

10) stop pulls

9-7) normal squats/bench

6) last max squat and bench day, but no additional volume after

5) squat 80% x2 x2 ; bench 85% x1 x2

4) squat 70% x2 x2

3) squat 85% x1 x1 bench 75% x1 x2

2) squat 60% x1 x5

1) squat 50-55% x1 x2 bench 40% x1 x3

comp day: smash people

btw, when I type 80% x1 x2 this means (80%x1rep) 2 sets

Weight: 189.2 (-0.2)

I’m on Day 4

Manta Ray Squat: 45×6, 135×4, 225×3, 275, 290

Low Bar Squat: 225×2, 315, 350x2x2

Time: 30 minutes

Me & Mo

You can read about the first time I met Mo here.  He’s a senior in high school, I think, and I emailed him a copy of Starting Strength.  Back then, he could squat an ugly 145×5, not to parallel (@180 bw?) and 4 months later I am proud to say that he squats an ugly 145 not to parallel.

Maybe it would help if he had read the book or followed a single bit of advice I gave him (like watch youtube videos and practice by a mirror in your room, and restart with the bar until you actually can do a single correct squat).  He usually greets me exuberantly and looks like he wants to talk, but I recognize this, and keep my headphones on and greet him with a friendly wave and a smile, then immediately look away.  But today he caught me:


Mo (motioning for me to take headphones off): [unintelligible]

Me (sighing audibly & removing headphones): What’s up, man?

Mo: Yesterday you were totally bending the bar!

Me: Um, thanks.  Yeah it bends with like 300 or so.  It’s all right.  Thanks.


Mo: I haven’t squatted in a while, just haven’t had any time. (He was at the gym yesterday for at least 90 minutes.)

Me: Uhhh…(trying to think of an appropriate response)  That…sucks?

Mo: I know!


Mo: So what do you think of doing machines for legs after you do squats?

Me: Machines suck.  Just do more squats.  Or do different free weight exercises.  Front squats…learn how to do front squats.  And Romanian Deadlifts.  For the most part, you want to stay away from machines, they’re a waste of fucking time.

I would have been a lot more nuanced if I was talking to someone who I actually gave a fuck about (i.e. I generally prefer free weights but certain machines can be a good and/or convenient supplement and if you’re training solely for size…) but I didn’t want to waste any more time on this goofball.

Ten minutes later he had finished his squats and was doing leg extensions.

Some other high school kids were fucking around, laughing and joking, doing a set here and a set there.  Also staring at me hard, especially while I benched.  (The cop spotting me commented on this; I was hoping he would cite them for loitering) 

Imagine what an awesome world this would be if adult women were fascinated by me and teenage boys spent all their time ignoring me and doing cardio.

These kids are my primary suspects in last week’s chalk explosion.  They’re the same ones who I yelled at for screwing around in the squat rack.  I remember because one of them looks like a potato.

While I was setting up for a deadlift, all three of them walked in directly front of me to get to the squat rack. Potato loaded the bar to 115 (25s and 10s, no collars, facing the mirror, but backing in and out of the racks) and did a few low-bar squats.  (He did actually have quite correct low-bar form)

Then they left the weights on the bar and went to bench press, then to the leg machines.  After about 10-15 minutes, I decided they weren’t coming back and decided to approach them.  My reason was that I didn’t want to get blamed for them leaving weights in the squat rack.  My real reason was that I enjoy confrontation, hoped it would lead to a fistfight, hoped I might get kicked out of the gym and the meet & thought it might help psyche me up for my final set of deadlifts.

Me: Hey, are you done with the squat rack?

Potato (smiling): Yeah, you can go ahead and use it.

Me: No. You left your weights on the bar.  Please put them away.

(unspoken subtext: …you little bitch)

(unspoken sub-subtext: I’m an angry little man who just wants an excuse to fight high school football players as a surrogate for my own earlier life disappointments)

Potato (smile instantly disappearing): Um, okay, we’ll be right there.

They came over right as I was about to do my last set of deadlifts.  I was right, it did boost my aggression.  This time they did not walk in front of me.

Weight: 190.8 (+1) went a little out of control with candy and oreos last night and by a little I mean i let my son extort $4 for a paltry amount of stale halloween candy then ate like half a box of golden double-stuf oreos which I don’t even really like.

MRS: 45×5, 135×3, 185×3, 225×2, 265×2, 305, 345

LBS: 225×2, 315, 365, 405, 425, 445, 455; 345,350,355,360×2, 365×3

MGB: 45×10, 95×5, 145×4, 195×3, 245×2, 285, 315, 335, 345, 350, 355, 360

Slingshot: 385, 405; 385×2

MGB: 340×3 (was gonna do two, then tried for another.  Got it, but lifted my butt a lot)

Sumo Deadlift: 8 sets, several PRs, up to 465 off a 1″ deficit.

Time: 2:20 hate benching bc it takes so long will probably only do floor press or only bench weights not requiring spotters or talking to anyone

The cycle of delusions

1. Choose a new exercise that you think will help your lifts.

2. Start light.

3. Perform it everyday, adding a small amount of weight each time.

4. Do preposterous calculations.

If I benched 300 lbs today and add 5 pounds every day, let’s see…carry the one… at the meet, I’ll bench 1250.

5. Know this is not true but figure you’ll still hit a really big number.

6. Exercise starts to get really hard.

7. Get stapled, or your form is atrocious.

8. Go to step one.

The really crazy thing is that this has actually worked for some exercises (sumo deadlift, floor press, maybe RDL or snatch grip DL if I had kept at it.)

Weight: 188.4 (-1.0)

MRS: 45×5, 135×4, 185×3, 235×2, 285, 315, 335, 355, 370

LBS: 225×2, 315, 365, 405, 415; 325,330×2, 335×3

the cycle begins anew

Floor Press: 45×10, 95×5, 145×4, 195×3, 245×2, 295, 315, 330, 340, 350; 305×3,3


Sumo Deadlift: 10 sets, up to 480 off 0.5″ deficit.  The hardest thing is the hook grip.  I’m sure when I switch to over-under, I’ll be shocked that I’m out of practice and it is not much easier.  Or rip a bicep

Pretty pleased with the day, overall.  Gotta fix my camera/buy a new one.

Time: 1:55

Volume Explained

Jackacactus writes:

Do you have any particular percentage you do for the volume sets or do you just pick something that seems reasonable?

Here are some thoughts on volume:

1. Broz recommends 30 reps, and in extreme examples as many as 50.  However, he may be including single attempts and warmup sets over 80% in these figures (I don’t).  He says to drop down 20-30 kg and work back up if possible.

2. I just don’t have time to do that many.  For example, if I benched 365 that day and wanted to use 315 for volume, to get 30 reps, I’d be doing 15×2, or 10×3.  Either of which I think I could achieve, it would just take me another hour in the gym. 

3. What I keep track of is two numbers for each exercise.  The lowest weight that I use for volume*, and the number of total volume reps.  E.G. if I bench …365; 315×2, 320×2, 325×2, 330×1, 315×3, then my lowest weight is 315 and my number of reps is 10. 

*The only exception is that I like to do a couple of lighter manta ray squats to get my groove back and I don’t count those at all. 

4. I try to beat either or both of those numbers.  This tends to results in me doing less volume with higher %.  Because I see 315×20 as my record on bench, lets say, and think, UGH.  Or I need to go home early that day.  I can just go to 320 and do a few and beat that record. 

That said, there was not much volume done today.

Weight: 191.4 (-1.2)  love losing weight after a filthy cheat meal/weekend

HBS: 45×5, 135×3, 185×2, 235, 275, 315, 340, 365, 375

High bar squat is a fun warmup for low bar squat. The sole difference between high bar squat and manta ray squat for me seems to be that high bar squat makes my traps hurt.  So tomorrow, I’ll plop on the ray both before and after

LBS: 405, 425, 445

Could blame rushing with 20 lb jumps instead of 10.  But instead I’ll blame Fatman.  Even his encouragement is toxic 🙂

MRS: 225, 315, 345, 370x2x1

External factor was 370 was heavy, and the fat old guy didn’t ask me to use the rack, so I let him use it.  He is up to 185, which whatever, he looks like he learned from Starting Strength; he’s in terrible-looking shape; and he started working out on New Years with 135, so good for him.  He’s still a little wary of me after our encounter a few weeks ago.

Floor Press: 45×10, 95×6, 145×4, 195×3, 245×2, 275×2, 305, 315, 325, 335; 305×3

335 is the most I’ve gotten since doing this the day after benching instead of the day before.  I’ll take a 375 bench and a 335 floor press over a 345 floor press and 345 bench, btw.

Sumo+Monster bands: 10 sets, up to 385 from half-inch deficit.  Good bar speed, only 2-3 minutes rest between sets.  Ran out of water close to the end and didn’t feel like walking to water fountain for refill, consequently felt a little nauseous at the end.

Chinups: 2×8

Time: 2 hrs.

Training Template

Dirty Dave wrote:

So is your training set up as some kind of bulgarian/westside hybrid? I just notice alot of frequency and variation in your training. Maybe you’ve done it before but you should lay it out.

I think I’ll publish an e-book.  The title will be “How to bench 2x* bodyweight raw and drug free”.  The subtitle will be “Reduce your squat in only 2** hours a day” 

*(actually 1.99x)

**(sometimes 2.5)

Kidding about the e-book.  Here’s how I train right now:  I pretty much follow Broz’s Bulgarian methods for powerlifting.  Read more and visit my useless forum here.  I use things that are Westside-ish (bands on some deadlifts, floor press, high rep dumbbell bench) but I wouldn’t call it a hybrid.  Broz training = Lion.  My training = Tiger.  Westside = Zebra.  Just because tigers and zebras both have stripes…okay, I love analogies but I suck at them and now someone is gonna post “how dare you call yourself a tiger and louie simmons a zebra”  Just forget it.

1. I always superset my training.  I do a set of squats with the bar.  I do a set of benches with the bar.  Squat with 135.  Bench with 95, etc, etc.  If I finish the pressing, (provided I’ve already hit my heaviest squat for the day), I start deadlifting.  Superset squats and deadlifts?  Yes, and not give a fuck.

2. I train 7 days a week.  I missed 5 days in the last 6 months.  Christmas, Thanksgiving, once when I was sick, once when I was really tired, and once when I went to visit my Grandma who lives in the mountains.  I don’t train as well on 12 hours rest (if i train in the evening and then again the next morning) as I do on 24.  It took me a while to accept that fact, but it’s fine.  If I miss a day the next day I don’t max, just go up to where I’d do volume at and do that.  I train about 2 hours a day, sometimes 2 1/2, I could physically do more, but I have family and work obligations.

3. I sometimes wamup by sometimes doing the first of these stretches.  Other times I just warm up by doing the bar.  I don’t never foam roll.  Sometimes I’ll stretch my hamstrings after I train.  I do these band pulling exercises for my shoulders in between my earliest sets.  So: Squat-Press-1 x band pull -Squat…etc  Sometimes I hang from the chinup bars for a few seconds between sets.  Feels nice.

4. Squat – I do Low Bar Squats everyday, and work up to a max.  That’s either where I get stapled, or more usually where I start grinding and it looks and feels awful.  Then I stop.  Then I put on the manta ray (or u could do high-bar squats same difference) and do a couple of light/medium singles (225, 315).  Then I do volume.  I just do singles, doubles or triples.  I just do as much as I can.  My goal is to get 30 total reps and I can do that with like 325, or i can use a higher weight like 365 and just do a few singles.

note, right now my squat is going terribly, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

5. Press – I do the rotation of bench, floor press, light stuff.

5a. Bench – *this depends on how much time I have and if i have a spotter, but if I have both time and a spotter, then: I use medium grip one time, then comp grip the next time.  Except with the slingshot I always use comp grip.  I go up to a max, and then I put on the slingshot and go to a max.  Then I drop the weight and do a little volume (like 2xdoubles, or a triple) with the slingshot.  Then I drop the weight some more and take off the slingshot and do more volume.

5b. Floor Press – Go to a max, drop down & do volume.

5c. Light stuff – a few light high rep sets with dumbbell bench.  Then Behind the Neck Press which I am not very good at but I go up to a double or whatever.  Then military press, i start above my last BTN press, go to a max, then drop down and do a little volume.

6. Deadlift.  Do sumo deadlifts like this:  Sumo – Sumo+monster underfoot – Sumo – Sumo+light – Sumo – Sumo+ Avg – repeat.  Just do about 10 singles at different deficit heights or even from boxes.  Try to pull fast and not grind, but do try to set PRs

7. Accessory work.  One day I will do chinups/pulldowns.  Then the next day I’ll do some kind of row.  Sometimes I forget/don’t care/don’t log these.  I do these medium heavy.  don’t like BB rows, well i love ’em but by the end my back is pretty tired and I really don’t feel like loading up yet another barbell when i could just do cable rows or machine rows or something fun.

Training like this isn’t as hard as it seems.  Olympic lifters do similar.  My  recommendation to someone jumping into it is not to do 3 days/wk, then a month later 4 days/wk, then 5, etc.  I would just do 7 days a week, but be very conservative with your maxes and volumes at first.  Let’s say your best squat ever is 405.  The first day, what’s that, 350 was sort of hard-ish?  Fuck it, onto the volume:  Maybe 225 for 10 sets of 2.  You can go up from there and you shouldn’t be a pussy about it, but yeah don’t kill yourself neither.

Everybody always asks me about it but nobody ever tries it for themselves.

Weight: 191.4 (+1.6) not laffing about that laffy taffy now, are you?  and went out to dinner tonight probably only gonna get worse ugh way to turn a cheat meal into a cheat weekend you undisciplined fuck

High Bar Squat: 45×5, 135×4, 225, 275, 315, 345, 365, 375

already violating the template, but yeah my squats are a problem so I’m trying new approaches and mentalities to fix them

Low Bar Squat: 380, 400, 410, 420, 430, 440

Manta Ray Squat: 225, 315, 360×1,1, 365×1,1

Dumbbell Bench: 35×35, 45×30,15, 55×30

BTN Press: 45×6, 89×2, 109×2, 119×2

Mil Press: 135×2, 155, 175, 185, 190, 195; 179×2

195 and 179 from a rack.  didn’t help me press 195.  i should maybe use 1.25 lb plates again for this

Sumo+Average band: 10 sets, 20 lb PR at every height, up to 275 from the floor which was pretty quick

Time: 2:10, i think

No worries

I appreciate all the bros who offered their two cents about my dilemmas.  To clarify – because I tend to blather on and muddy the waters – the main issue is, “How do I get back into doing low-bar squats without torquing my low back,” and “Should I still do partials and bot-pos squats.”  not, “I had a bad day, I’m so fucked.” or “How do I peak (reduce volume) prior to the meet”

Re: the latter, the Swede always tells me that everything’s gonna be okay.  And I actually have a shitty day every time I work out with less than about 20 hours of rest.  Kind of wish I could do double sessions, I’m sure I would adapt.

To make a long story short – too late, I know – I’m going to begin low bar squatting, slowly and gradually upping the weight and intensity, while decreasing manta ray squatting.  I ain’t doing anything else different really, until about 10 days out.  Gonna still do special squat exercises but not as balls out.


Weight: 189.6 (+0.6) very pleased

Manta Ray Squat: 45×5, 135×3, 185×2, 225, 265, 295, 315, 335, 350, 360, 365, 370, 375, 380, 380, 385

took a while to warm up bc of leg soreness, but then got in the zone

Bottom Position Squat #12: 225, 275, 315, 355

still really sore, so 55 lbs short of a PR, but it’s fine

Low Bar Squat: 135×3, 225×2, 275, 315, 335

Dumbbell Bench: 30×30, 35×20,15, 40×25,15, 45×25,20, 50×20

BTN Press: 45×6, 65×7

i love paul carter

Mil Press: 95×4, 135×2, 155, 165, 175, 180; 155×3,3

Sumo+Light Band

4″: 135x3nb, 135

3.5″: 205

3″: 235

2.5″: 260

2″: 280

0″: 305

-1.5″: 335

-2.0″: 340

Chinups: 2×6

Time: 2:30


Kip Eng

I fell asleep at 9:30 last night. Just for a little nap.  It’s fine.  Not even going to shower, brush my teeth, drink my protein, take my vitamins.  I’ll wake up in like 20 minutes and take care of that stuff.  10 hours later…

So I had to take a shower before the gym today, so as not to offend the populace.

I haven’t done hip thrusts in a while, but I saw the male personal trainer doing them with a client.  He had two good ideas which I will try.  First, instead of using a bench (too high & slides), he was using aerobic steps.  Second, instead of using the puss-pad on the bar, he’d put the bar through a rubber roller.  Both good innovations.  He left out the bar with the roller.  Then some middle-aged dad came by and started deadlifting it.  With 85 lbs.  Probably liked the feel of the roller smacking him in the cock with each rep.

The Swede tipped me off to this article about the deadlift.  An epic troll by guys pretending to be crossfitters in the comments.  Here’s the best one:

Kip Eng, CFL1, BS, JJ Grand Master, ANZAC

Posted February 25, 2014 at 1:53 PM

I’m sorry, but a client just forwarded this to me and I can’t just sit here and keep quiet about such bad advice. Are we’re really supposed to listen to a decrepit lunkhead from the geared powerlifting world? A guy who’s done everything but lift with a damn car suspension spring under his ass? I just looked through this website and I can’t find a single video of him where he’s lifting hard: there’s just plenty of him curling and doing leg machine exercises. It’s like he’s a Planet Fitness customer or something.

And the deadlift is just a horrible lift that’s been PROVEN to ruin your back. The only good deadlift is the one-legged variety. Anything else is a slow-motion version of shoving a lit firecracker up your ass. I never let clients at my box do regular deadlifts. Deadlifts are just a dysfunctional trainwreck. How often do you just bend over a pick a loaded bar off the floor? Do you think our ancestors ever loaded plates on a barbell and just grunted it up off the ground? Or that doing this will do you any good? Seriously, when in nature will you ever do some sort of important, single-effort activity punctuated with five-minute rest periods? We weren’t designed for that!

I’m sorry, but this is just stupid. When I want my clients to get strong I have them do 1-arm KB swings, broad jumps with medicine ball tosses, cleans with a full stomp, and jump snatches off a plyo box. These are real world movements that build explosive strength, endurance, and suppleness. They’re FUNCTIONAL. They won’t leave you looking (and feeling) like Quasimodo or Shrek.

But if you want to waste your time splattering the wall behind you with your vertebral discs, at least know what you’re doing. Tate doesn’t even touch some of the most important facets:

Warm-up: Where are the mobility drills? Are you really going to go into a dangerous exercise like this without at least doing some star lunges or burpees? I’d personally never even attempt a lift like this without doing some Bosu squats first to prime my proprioception. Anything less is asking for injury.

Knees and Hips: The quads are a huge muscle that he completely neglects. They are ESSENTIAL to a big deadlift. It’s basic biomechanics—if you want to extend your knees, you better use your quads! If you want a big deadlift, you have to get your knees bent and your HIPS LOW. Otherwise you’re just using your hamstrings and tiny lower back muscles. Would you squat with your hips up in the air? The deadlift is just a squat from the ground, so lift like it. (Unless you’re a powerlifting wearing a ten-pound suit made of elastic and canvas—then do it out of a damn handstand for all I care, because it doesn’t matter since the suit does most of the work.)

Quadratus Lumborum: And speaking of your lower back muscles, he doesn’t mention direct QL training AT ALL. It’s the glue-muscle of your back. If you don’t train it directly, you won’t come close to your potential.

Core: A strong core is essential to any fitness activity and to your general health. Unless you can hold a plank for at least two minutes, you shouldn’t even think about performing a lift like this. Unless you’re a mouth-breathing powerlifter, then you can just cinch off your internal organs with a leather belt that’s an inch thick and needs a winch to close.

Grip: Straps or a mixed grip? This is a website about strength, but he says to use straps or a mixed grip if you have weak hands. Oh, yeah, let’s flex the hell out of my lumbar spine and then torque it with a mixed grip. That’s safe! Or just puss out and wear straps. Hand strength isn’t important, right?

Back position: You have to protect your back. Keep your entire spine in neutral, with your scapulae pinched and depressed. Otherwise, your discs will shear and your upper back won’t be able to absorb any of the stress. And try doing that with the deficit deadlifts he recommends.

Training Style: How can you talk about the deadlift without talking about training methods? If you put a gun to my head and forced me to recommend something, I like Rogue’s Future Method, which uses high-tech resistance bands to displace barbell loading. I even use it at my box for what we call “below-ultimate attempt” training where we use light weights explosively to build what we call “dynamite strength.”

Footwear: We’ve got a lot of strong guys at my box. If they ever were high on drugs or something, they might try regular deadlifts and some of them might get 300 or 400 pounds on the bar. That’s a lot of extra weight being borne just by your feet. I’d never let them try these weights without a good shoe. Reebok sells a great shoe with a wide toebox that’s perfect for moving caveman-stupid piles of iron.

He doesn’t cover any of this stuff, but he talks about “arousal.” I’ve never heard arousal mentioned once at a cert or a lecture and I’ve been to dozens. And that whole deal about falling backwards? The goal is to move the bar up in a straight line—how’s that going to happen if you’re falling backwards? Use your brain and leave the playground equipment comparisons to your kids.

This whole article is just a bunch of baa-ing to the powerlifting sheeple out there. Anyone else should wake up and steer clear. Let Tate stick to curling his “grenade balls.” If the moderators are brave enough to let this post go through, reply to this message if you want to learn more about how we train our clients at Elite Functional Fitness Systems.

Kip Eng
Owner, Elite Functional Fitness Systems
Co-Creator, Jaguar Jump Boot Camp

Read the name aloud.  Epic.  Hilarious.  And – dozens of comments from outraged, barely literate powerlifters.  This guy should get a Pulitzer.

Weight: 189.6 (-1.4)

Manta Ray Squat: 45×4, 135×3, 225×2, 315, 340, 360, 370, 380, 390, 395; 365×1, 390×1,1

Partial Squat #10: 405, 495, 535, 565, 595

TSV: 390×7

Dumbbell Bench: 25×25, 30×30, 35×35, 40×20,20, 45×20,20

BTN Press: 45×6, 50×6

yes 4 real

Mil Press: 95×4, 135×2, 145, 150, 155, 160, 165, 170; 155×3

Trying to better my hang cleans which are garbage.  Also not sure if I should press heavy today as I had some pain in my shoulder last night.  Sort of like a phantom limb, the pain was approximately a foot behind and above my shoulder. Felt better today.

Sumo Deadlift

2.5″: 135×3, 205, 275

-0.5″: 345

-1.0″: 395

-1.5″: 415

-2.0″: 430

-2.5″: 440

Forgot my workout sheet today.  So basically wasted my time on deadlifts by not setting PRs on several heights.

Machine Row: 1 good set

Time: 2:10

Poop Carlton

Been reading a lot of LRB lately.  Particularly his gems of training wisdom, as I’m unable to care about his life philosophy (you should try hard and addiction can be very difficult to deal with in a loved one, and I love my family and I’m from the South, and) or his training logs (i squatted double bodyweight for 5 while on steroids and being fat)

I know you guys like talking about him, so I classed his statements into unscientific categories.  Also, paraphrasing my examples, I’m not gonna fucking cite him.  Most of this shit is either from the last month of his blog or the first month or two (been reading archives).

1. 5% – New things I learned from him.  Like behind-the-neck press always hurt, but he said listen – if you’re doing band pullaparts behind-the-neck, it’s the same thing, nerd.  So as I warmed up for mil press, i did a few BTN presses with the bar, and he was right, it felt good. Maybe I’ll try some light weight on the bar next time.

2. 10% Stuff I agree with wholeheartedly but I never saw in print before.  You should not have more shakes than meals in a day.

3. 45% Things I agree with, but duh.  You should use good form on your exercises.  To gain weight you have to eat more.

4. 30% Stuff I disagree with, but whatever.  Singles won’t build strength, you need to do lots of sets of 5, 8, and 15. Then after you deadlift 400×15 you should be good for 550. I think Brooks Kubik and Bulgaria would disagree about singles.

5. 10% Stuff that is, in the words of my former drill sergeant: “As wrong as two boys fucking on church on Sunday.”  Stan Efferding totalled 2300 training 2 days a week. You shouldn’t train so much.

If you read a lot of the Russian and (scientific) American sports-science textbooks, shit, even Bud Charniga’s website, you will notice a common theme: X will not build power, only absolute strength.  Weightlifting requires power.  Most sports require power more than absolute strength.  (X is usually something like slow heavy work, partials, etcs.)  That’s why I find it strange that Louie Simmons and other powerlifting coaches read these sources and the major takeaway is: “We need to develop more power”.  Powerlifting is the one sport that is all about absolute strength, not power. No one gives a fuck how long it takes you to make a lift as long as you make it.  (Regardless, I’m a big Simmons fan, just not a fan of speedwork for PL)

Baby (14 mos.)  is sick now, so the trip gets postponed another week.  She’s fine, just sneezy/snotty.  Today she was eating lunch (peanut butter sandwich cut into tiny fragments) and she sneezed and a thick snot strand was connecting between her hand and her face.  She totally did not give a fuck, glanced at it briefly, then just continued eating until I ran over to wipe her nose. 

Also today – pooped her pants at Staples. My wife is in charge of changing babies in public, so I handed her off.  But there was no changing table, not even a sink counter in the bathroom.  Karena brought the awful-smelling baby back to the car and she rode home (it was only 5 minutes) in her own filth.  Fell asleep anyway. I had to change her when we got home.

Babies are dumb.

Weight: 190.6 (-2.4)

Manta Ray Squat: 45×4, 135×4, 225×2, 275, 315, 335, 355, 375, 385, 395, 400; 385×1,1

Partial Squat #9: 405, 495, 565, 605, 635

TSV: 385×7

Floor Press: 45×10, 95×4, 135×3, 175×2, 215, 255, 295, 305, 315, 325, 330, 335; 280x3x3

Sumo (2″): 135×2, 205, 275, 345

Sumo (-0.5″): 390

Sumo (-1″): 400

Sumo (-1.5″): 420

Sumo (-2″): 425

Time: 1:55

More about the Manta

The Swedish Murder Machine said:

how does the manta ray work out for you, other than it being fun? do you need to adjust your technique in any major way?

Fat and Skeptical said:

My gym has one of those gimmicks. I’ve never tried it. What’s the advantage?

Queersp said:

I kinda lump everybody who uses the manta ray and/or MaxiPad into the same category. Does it have an actual purpose (besides making you look like a girly man)?

All right, listen.  Here’s three things about the manta ray:

1. It makes the bar sit about 2 inches higher than it would when you do a high bar squat.  So if low bar squat is the most “good-morning”-ish, and high bar is a little more upright, then with manta ray your torso will be the most upright, sort of like a front squat.  Why would someone want this?  Well if you do high-bar squats and you like them, then you will also like the manta-ray, either for the variation, or to work on your form with a little less weight.  Like I can use about 30-40 lbs less than my best high bar squat with the manta ray, though I expect the gap to lessen.  If you are a dedicated low bar fanatic, well Louie Simmons also has his guys use it (for box squats but whatever).

2. It is more comfortable than squatting with the bar across your back/traps/rear delts.  A lot of reviews on Amazon stress this point.  I would argue that if this is the sole reason you bought the thing (unless you have some physical ailment) then you need to either toughen up, grow upper back musculature, or learn to squat correctly (or all three).  Seriously though, I do a lot of regular squats, and let’s face it, I don’t exactly enjoy getting under the bar for my 20th set of the day.  I have raw red abraded skin and/or callused strips across my upper back.  Yes, I deal with it, it’s fine.  But I look at the comfort factor as a pleasant side effect rather than the device’s raison d’être.

It is not like the so-called “puss-pad” (foam cylinder).  The puss-pad just lets you continue to place your small squat weight on your neck and pretend that everything is fine while at the same time making the bar more unstable.

However if you are a masochist, I can reassure you that there will be a new minor stabbing pain in your traps from the front overhang of the two flaps.  (Whatever, I’m not a technical writer).  Take your index finger and jab it annoyingly into the front of your traps.  That’s what it feels like.  Now my traps are red and scratched looking too.

3. It blasts and shocks your quads.  Yeah.  They’re sore for the first time in years.

Is there a carryover to regular squats?  Well I guess we’ll find out.

Manta Ray Squat: 45×4, 135×3, 225×2, 280, 320, 340, 355, 365, 375, 385; 290,295x1p, 300,305,310,315,320×1, 295×3

Partial Squat: #9 405, 495, 565, 600; #10 495, 545, 570

I know fatman would not approve, but I kind of hate partial squats because I picture everyone else thinking “He thinks he’s hot shit but he’s not even going close to parallel.  Show off.”

Light Stuff:

Military Press: 45×10, 95×5, 135×5, 145×5

DB Bench: 40,45,50,55 x 20+

Pushups: 1 set

Tri Pushdowns: 4 sets

Band Tri Pushdowns: 4 sets

Band Shoulder Pulls: 2 sets

Chinups or Pullups: 2 sets

DB Row: 50,60 x 10

RDL: 135×3, 205×2, 275×1, 345×1; 295×1,5

Today I just wasn’t feeling like heavy RDLs okay? this was the best I could do. leave me alone.



Unsolicited Advice?

From my crossfit post, I think Sr. Fatberger has the idea that I roam around the gym dispensing advice (and dirty looks) like an unpaid personal trainer.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Well, the dirty looks part is pretty close.

There were two scenarios today where I considered providing unsolicited advice.   I’ll provide the scenarios.  You be the judge.  To clarify: Judge me on the internet for my judgement about whether to judge – or not judge – people in my gym.  

A. John (the bodybuilder & my favorite spotter) and I are pretty good acquaintances.  He started doing squats, front squats and deadlifts a while ago.  I observed him doing 6 inch squats for a month or so, biting my tongue, until finally one day he turned to me and asked “How was my depth?”  Well this was the moment I was waiting for and I said “Incredibly high”.  Then I showed him how to squat properly, and he actually did it.  From then on he was squatting to parallel. 

Today I was working in with him, and I noticed that as his weight got heavier, his depth got shallower, until at 315, he was about 4 inches above parallel.  Should I say something?

B. There aren’t a lot of “bad benchers” in my gym. By bad benching, I mean not touching the chest, upper arms at 90 degrees to torso, bouncing off the rib cage or lifting the butt 3 feet in the air. Probably because a lot of the guys enter (or have notions of entering) powerlifting meets.

Instead the favorite exercise of the preposterous is the “seated” “military” press, which is done with weights in excess of the exerciser’s flat bench press (by arching ridiculously high and/or adopting a shortened range of motion).

Today I moved over to the half rack for most of my sets because my buddy Chad told me he wanted to use the power rack for “shoulder press partials”.  Here’s how this exercise is performed (after dragging a mil press bench into the rack and loading up 300+ lbs, obviously):

1. Set pins to a height slightly above the head.

2. Begin pressing.  As you do so, arch your back until the top of your head is the only thing touching the bench.

3. Have the spotter lift the weight until you have it extended at arms length.

4. With arms still locked, move from back bridge position to proper military press position (i.e. sitting down).

5. Now return to back bridge position.

6. Lower weight to pins.

This was some insane shit.  I swear the above description is not in any way an exaggeration.  So should I a) make fun of him, b) politely note that “your back came off the bench a little” c) do nothing?


1. No.  John is a bodybuilder and they just want to feel the burn anyway, so what’s the point?  Also his squats were deeper than 95% of people at commercial gyms, so fuck it, if he really wanted to know he could have asked me.

2. C) Do nothing. Who am I to discourage him from training for the SPF seated military press world record?

High Bar Squat: 45×4, 135×3, 225×2, 310, 330, 350, 370, 385, 395, 405, 410; 370×2, 375,380×1, 370x5x1

Didn’t press heavy, just did some light assistance exercises, including: DB Bench, Pushups, Tri Pushdown, Dips, 1 arm Standing Cable Row (not on bosu ball), chinups and shoulder band pulling.

RDL: 135×3, 205×2, 275, 345, 380×3; 285×1,3

Front Squat: 135, 225, 275, 295, 310; 280×1, 285×1,1, 280×2

Box Squats

I’ve been meaning to ask you how you think about box squats. from what I’ve read, strong people think they are really good to bring up your squats. but I wonder this: do box squats serve as an exercise to build form rather than absolute strength, if such a distinction is possible?

what is your take on this, coach?

First of all, for you new folks: this is the deal with me being “coach”.  It’s a joke, but I will gladly give some wise advice about box squats.  Dave Tate himself personally* taught me how to box squat, and he learned from Louie Simmons, so I am sort of like one of the BJJ black belts who can trace his lineage back to Helio Gracie.

1. Box squats are excellent for learning how to low-bar squat properly.  If you are training any of the following populations:

  • elderly women whose last athletic endeavor was playing hopscotch during the Truman administration
  • freshman football players with the grace of extinct flightless birds
  • guys who read about squats in Men’s Fitness and do half-squats with 185×6 then complain that their knees hurt

The easiest way to teach proper squat form is to get an adjustable box or multiple boxes; show them how to box squat on a high box; lower the box height; and eventually take away the box.  By eventually, I mean after about 20 minutes for the football players and the geeks, and after about 3 weeks of 3x a week sessions for the old ladies.  (Note: by “taking away the box” I don’t mean secretly in the middle of a set, although it would be funny)

2. Box squats can fix your squat form.  They teach you to keep the shins perpendicular to the ground and to sit back.  You can do them unweighted or with a bar looking at yourself in a mirror on your side.

3. Box squats can work weak muscle groups.  “Posterior chain,” like “core,” or “CNS”, are words that I dislike because I don’t have those things.  But if you only do high-bar squats and front squats because you fancy yourself an Olympic lifter, box squats will, like, do more glutes, hamstrings, low back, and stuff.

3. There is nothing wrong with doing box squats as a main exercise instead of squats.  I mean if you just want to get stronger and don’t compete in anything.  If you did box squats 10 months out of the year and squats 2 months, you wouldn’t turn into a pumpkin or anything.

4. Box squats can make you a monstrous geared squatter.  Read any Louie Simmons article.  Talk to guys who train Westside and squat 700, 800, 900, 1000+ in ridiculous triple-kevlar denim canvas suits.  They’ll all tell you: BOX SQUATS.  (I’ll tell you that geared powerlifting is almost as bogus as the WWE but whatever.)

5. Doing box squats exclusively can make you a sh*tty raw squatter.

[Video of me squatting 445].  Look at this douchebag.  He’s a raw powerlifter who followed a Westside program and did box squats almost exclusively for a year.  (Note: he’s not really that fat, just pushing his belly against the belt.)  Look how the hips break first.  You can’t see his feet, but I can assure you that his knees do not even come close to passing his toes.  Also notice that he does not break parallel with a weight he used to be able to double. He squat-mornings. He is uncomfortable in the hole. “Where is my nice safe box?” he wonders.

6. Use the right box.  Unless you are 6’7″ and 110 lbs, using a bench for box squats is wrong.  Too high and too narrow.  Buy plastic boxes.  Use aerobic steps.  Build one.  Just don’t use a bench.  Don’t use a 1 foot square metal box jump platform either.  Most importantly, don’t use a bench.

7. Do them right.  Unlike squats, which 2% of commercial gym goers (of those who attempt them) do correctly, I have never seen ANYBODY in a commercial gym do a proper box squat.  It’s not hard to learn.  Youtube.  EliteFTS.  Google.  Westside.  There are a million resources.  I’m not getting into a step-by-step guide here.  Here’s are the major mistakes I see:

  • You don’t brush your buttocks against the box to gauge your depth.  You don’t clunk down on it like you’re trying to break your tailbone.  You sit back back back until your rump is resting on the box.
  • You don’t go limp and relax when you’re on the box.  You stay tight and in position.  At the same time, 90% of your weight should be on it.  The other 10% being on the soles of your Chucks (which should be in a wide stance, of course).  If someone vanished the box you would fall over, not hover like you were trying to use a filthy gas station toilet.
  • Your shins should be perpendicular when you’re sitting on the box.  If you can’t keep them perp when you box squat, you got issues.  Break at the hips and Sit Back.
  • This is a mistake I was making just last week:  If you lift up your hips to get off the box, you will do an ugly good morning.  Instead, head moves first, then shoulders.  Your traps will flex hard if you’re doing it right.

8. I don’t think much of bands and chains on box squats for raw lifters.  Think about this:  Where is the sticking point in a bench?  It depends.  Some guys can’t get it off their chest.  Some stall out halfway up.  What about the deadlift?  Some can’t break the floor, and others just can’t finish.  But in a squat, there is one hard part.  The hole.  Either you’re stapled, or you get two inches out of the hole and that’s it.  No one misses a squat any higher unless they forget to wait for the “Rack” command.  So overloading the top part of the squat with a lot of bands and chains, to make that part harder doesn’t seem to be worth the bother.

9. The proper rep range.  One is best.  Two is okay.  Three is pushing it.  Never more than three, unless you’re doing your very first warmup sets or just learning. This could wreak havoc with 5/3/1.  Especially don’t do that last “as many as you can” set with box squats.

10. Where I actually answer the question he asked.  For raw, low bar squatters, I would say it’s 30/70 form/strength.  (For high bar squatters, it’s all strength, because that’s not the same form as you use when you squat.)  I sort of made that ratio up.  I mean, if it were all “form” you’d do it with a broomstick on your back.  It reinforces good technique, when done in conjunction with other exercises.  Namely, actual squats.

* I went to a Westside seminar in 2001.  There were 20 people there.  Dave Tate probably does 50 of these seminars a year.  Plus coaching at his own gym.  He’s probably shown tens of thousands of people how to box squat.  Still, it sounds impressive.

Rich vs. Poor

Now I live in a middle-class area, compared to Bacon-not-books, South Carolina.  The gym I go to, however, tends towards upper class people, for two reasons.  First of all, it has a lot of indoor tennis courts.  I am a big fan of tennis even though I have not played it since sixth grade and watch an average of 45 seconds of televised tennis a year.  This is because the vast majority of the yuppie douchebags, tubby soccer moms, and uppity geezers at my gym play tennis instead of cluttering the weight room. 

It is not uncommon for me to arrive at the gym to find the main parking lot totally full with 60? cars.  But, upon entering the gym, there are two ladies on the cardio machines, one old guy on the weight machines and no one on the free weight area.  The tennis courts are full.  There are old guys in the locker room with their pants off talking about racquetball.  The saunas and hot tub are presumably full.  There are 15 gross women and 5 dorky guys having a wine and cheese party (i’m not kidding) by the tables and chairs that overlook the tennis courts.  Thank goodness for tennis.

Also, my gym is very expensive ($50 a month).  But it is only $30 for students, and less if they run student specials.  So you get a wider variety of social classes in the college group.  I stopped being a grad student a year ago, but I am still going on my recurring student membership.  Shhh.  (Actually I think they have a military/veteran deal anyway, which I’d be eligible for)

Gyms in poor and affluent areas are different.  This is not a comprehensive list, and I have no idea what goes on in a free gym in the inner city, or Beverly Hills Fitness.


  • Very few people actually use the gym at all
  • Men often work out in their work clothes (work boots, jeans, wifebeater) after just taking off their top shirt
  • Average fitness level is very low (most people don’t even know how the machines work), but a few outliers are incredible (the area in SC where I lived consistently produces NFL and top college players – I remember one hulk coming in and doing a seated military press with 315×8 – and with good form)
  • Obesity is epidemic
  • Very few hot girls, as they tend to have kids early, then just get fatter and fatter
  • Lifters seem unaware of the internet, books, etc, and just completely make up their own programs.  If you say the word “crossfit” you’d be met with blank stares.

Upper-Middle Class

  • Gym is always full.  In a similar-sized population area, there are, on average, 15 times as many people in my gym as there were in SC.
  • Many men and women have expensive, color-coordinated outfits (lots of lycra for the ladies, Nike/Underarmor/Adidas stuff for the guys)
  • Average fitness level is medium.  People know how the equipment is used, or they get a trainer to show them. No exceptional athletes (who typically train at a “hardcore” facility, or with their sports team)
  • There are a few fatties, mostly getting “Biggest Loser” style workouts from a trainer, but most people are “trim and toned.”
  • Loads of hot girls.  A lot of cougars and MILFs who drop the kids off at school, then hit the elliptical or aerobics class.
  • Lifters are mostly on some program from the internet, a book, or at least a muscle magazine.  Everyone has heard of crossfit and some have actually been to a “box”

Now that I’m done playing sociologist, here was today’s workout:

Front Squat: 45×4, 95×3, 135×2, 175, 215, 255, 285, 305, 315, 325, 335; 275,280,285,290,295,300×1, 275,280×2

Not counting that front squat harness record any more.

Push Press: 45×6, 95×3, 135×2, 175, 195, 205, 215, 225, 230; 190,195,200,205,210,215,220,225,229, 190,195,200,205,210×2 190×3,3

My wrists were stiff, which prevented me from getting a good rack position until halfway through my volume sets.  Need to fix this, as I could have done a lot more.

RDL: 185×3, 255×2, 305×1, 330×3, 235,240,245,250,255×3

Note: Even though I’ve been going up on my RDL, I don’t use straps and my form is still pretty good.  This is bogus. Just because you don’t have to touch the floor with the weights doesn’t mean you can just do a Dimel Deadlift.  This is better.  Dude is strong – but his back is not in the right position.  Here’s how to do it. Note: just skip to about 9 minutes in, unless you are totally clueless, or like hearing Rip ramble.I

Pullups: 6,6

My Training History – Part 3 and Lessons Learned

Now I was free from the Army, and no one was sending me on week-long camping trips or making me run 5 miles.  Also, at this point my records become much neater and I started doing powerlifting meets again, which make comparison easier.  I kept doing Crossfit for a little while, but then started doing…

11/2009 – 6/2010 – The Wave

Routine: As I explained in a previous post, this was a four-day a week routine.  Squat, Deadlift, Mil Press and Bench were the main lifts.  Then I would do 5-6 assistance exercises for 1 warmup set and 1 hard set each.  Rep schemes for the main lifts varied in a wave-like fashion (get it?).  10-8-6, then 10-8-6-4, then 10-8-6, then 10-8-6-4, then 10-8-6-4-3, etc, with some other variations.  You always tried to break all your records.

Results: When I started the program, my lifts were: Squat:340×3, Bench: 270×3, Deadlift 385×3.  On 1/30/2010, I did a contest and lifted: SQ 410, Bench 320, DL 470  Tot 1200 @ 198.  When I concluded the program, in June 2010, that week I hit SQ 410×2, BP 321×3, DL 437.5×2 (using thick bar, maybe 1.5 inches)

Why I stopped: Progress was great at first as you can see. Then it slowed.  One of the annoying things was that the sets of 10 and 8, as they got heavier, seemed to detract from the ability to lift heavy weights in the later sets.  Also, I was starting grad school and moving so I wanted a less frequent program.

6/2010 – 7/2011 – “HIT”

Routine: Squat, Bench, or Deadlift for 2-8+ reps for one set.  Then about 6 assistance exercises.  Usually I would get to the gym 3x a week for 45-60  minutes, sometimes 2x if I was busy.

Results: I did not get much stronger and did not enter any meets during this period.

Why I stopped: I found a better gym closer to my house & got less busy in life. So I could work out longer and more frequently.  Also, I wanted to give Westside a real try.

7/2011-11/2012 Westside (for real this time)

Routine: Westside 100%.  I downloaded and read every article Louie Simmons ever wrote.  Took notes (during a 15 hour car ride) and listed exercises I needed to do & various ideas he had.  I got various bands (chains are IMO very expensive for the benefit).  I did it all, good mornings, dynamic days, GPP, special exercises, extra work, etc.  This was not like last time when I sort of incorporated some Westside principles into my training.  No sir.  I became a disciple.

Results: Meet 12/03/11 – SQ 430, BP 310, DL 500 Tot 1240 @ 181.  So yeah, a little stronger and at a lower weight class, but it was 2 years later.  How much was due to WS?

Meet 3/17/12 – SQ 445, BP 330, DL 495 Tot 1270 @ 181.  Good progress, even though my DL went down – I have to say this is not Westside’s fault.  The meet director was insane and decided to go to a system where the “bar is always going up” for the deadlift.  This meant that he called out 135, 140, etc.  To show you what a weak meet it was, I had the 2nd highest DL there so I had to follow myself on all 3 attempts with 1 min rest.  So missed my third attempt at, I think 525.  Anyway, even statistics can lie.

Why I stopped: These meet results were good (for me).  But I would test myself every 8 weeks in the gym and during the first 6 months or so, I would hit PRs.  I had two consecutive max days at the gym where I was actually getting weaker.

11/2012-8/2013 Dinosaur Training

I liked doing real squats, and felt they were necessary.  I liked partials in the rack.  I was tired of a lot of the stuff I’d been doing.

Routine: 3x a week, I would do all three lifts (or a close equivalent) to a max single, then some assistance.  So monday might be Squat, Pin Press, Deadlift.  Wed: Bottom Position Squat, Military Press, Deadlift from box.  Fri: Front Squat, Bench, Trap Bar DL.  Assistance was about 3-5 exercises for one heavy set from any of the following: Abs, Neck, Prowler, Bis, extra pressing work, Rows, Chins, Dips, Traps.  Workouts took about 90 minutes.  Then I started adding medium-heavy squat singles if I wasn’t doing regular squats that day, working up to 405-455 lbs.

Results: Good. At a meet on 4/20/13, I did 465, 330, 510 @ 181 (1305).  I continued to make progress in the gym after the meet, hitting a 485 squat and 345 bench. Deadlift is difficult to tell bc the most I’d hit in the gym is 485, but the bars suck.  A Texas bar gave me 25 lbs.  I got my gym deadlift up to 505.  So theoretically that should be 530 in a meet.

Why I stopped: I started missing a lot of lifts in training.  I was using micro plates and if you squat 476 (for example) and then the next week expect to hit 477.5, but got stapled with 455.  So then what?  My intensity was very high on these singles.  I like singles.  Singles make you strong.  S/B/Dead 3x a week was no problem.  It was working up to a 100% max that was beating me – when I missed.  I toyed with the idea of doing back-off sets when I missed.  But I wanted to try something new.

9/2013 – Sheiko Experiment

I read a lot about Sheiko and wanted to give it a try.  There is a lot of nonsense about these programs on the web, so I made sure to get Russian source materials and translate them (I used Google Chrome or asked a Russian friend).  Take it from me, you do not want to trust a) some spreadsheet made by a ninny, b) a random geek on a forum, or c) someone who is too weak/scared to do a real Sheiko program.  The programs are scaled by what level lifter you are so there is no reason to be frightened.  At this time I also read various scientific training books, including “Periodization”, “Supertraining”, “Science and Practice” and several others of that ilk.  These helped me understand the programs better.  What also helped was looking at ALL the Sheiko programs (at least the ones close to my level – I did not study very much of the World Champion ones) and comparing them in terms of volume, intensity, etc.

Routine: I did Sheiko #29.

Results: This is the 1st 4 weeks of a 16 week cycle, and I did it to experience a very different type of training.  What would it be like to squat 5x3x80% instead of 1x1x100%?  And etc. For me to say “Sheiko is great” or “Sheiko does not work” would be foolish.

But it was useful to me.  The numbers on the spreadsheet are meaningless unless you know what x reps at X% feels like.  Conversely, because the programs are very similar in terms of intensity/repetitions per session, I could look ahead and have some understanding.

I also learned:

  1. I needed more volume than my last Dinosaur routine.
  2. I needed to train more than 3 days per week.
  3. The Sheiko bench pressing was just too easy, plain and simple.  I had to bump up the weights every workout.
  4. I did not get much out of the bench pyramids. Sheiko swears by them.  Interestingly, although he seems to follow the teachings in textbooks I mentioned (his rep schemes also typically fall into Prilepin’s table), at least two of them (Supertraining and Science and Practice of Strength Training, I think) had quotes to the effect of “Pyramiding up and down is another tactic that has fallen out of favor since the 1960s”  My opinion is not due to the books, just that I did not see the point of pyramiding up to 295x2x2 which was easy, then continuing down to 260×4, 240×6, 205×8, 175×10 which are all also laughably easy.
  5. I was nervous before doing the programs about rarely/never handling heavy weights.  Afterwards, I still was, though I have faith since it has worked for others.

Why I stopped: At the conclusion of the four week experiment, I had several ideas.  I could have done (there are a lot of lists in this post, I know):

  1. #30, the next Sheiko program.  3 days a week, but more volume.  The workouts would have gone 2.5+ hours some days based on my experience without being significantly more challenging
  2. CMS level Sheiko program, since my gym lifts put me in that category.  4 days a week, and I liked the look of it, but then what?  When to test max?  Commit to the whole 15 week CMS cycle?  What if it did not work?
  3. I made my own “Sheiko” program, which was 4x a week and following all of his principles and guidelines, but with exercises I preferred and no bench pyramids.  This took quite a bit of calculating but the man himself recommends that his programs be individually tailored.  I don’t feel I am being hypocritical when I criticize the modified Sheiko programs on the web because a) my program was just for me b) I would not claim it was written by Sheiko like some unscrupulous types c) it is not some sissy version for people who cannot handle the real thing.

10/6/13 – Present  The Broz Experiment

Instead of doing any variant of Sheiko, I tried something new.  This took a lot of thought.  I figured I still have about 6 months until my next meet.  If things go horribly wrong with whatever crazy scheme I try, I felt I could still go back to my old way and total high 1300s.  I do not approve of “program jumping” and criticize it in others.  Perhaps my history may seem otherwise, but consider that until a month prior, I really had only tried a few different _strength_ programs in 20 years: 10-8-6 types of pyramids, “Dinosaur” heavy singles, “Leistner” HIT and Westside. (I’m not counting strength/endurance or bodybuilding-focused programs)

Routine: Read my blog!

Results: After 26 days I hit my highest bench press ever @ 181.  21 lb PR in push press.  Squats, no PR yet but I hope soon.  Deadlift: well I should have listened to what Broz said and not assumed that I am a specially different robot who can pull heavy with over-under grip 7 days a week.

Disclaimer: I say “Broz” to label what I do in the gym because I got my program from an interview with him and from his answering questions about modifications for powerlifting in a web forum.  I don’t know him and am not affiliated with him or his gym.  I use his name because he developed the program (except the part that I fucked up – that’s on me), and if I didn’t, it could seem like I was trying to take credit for it myself.  I have a lot of respect for him and his lifters and I admit that someday I hope to show good results that I can thank him for.

Lessons Learned

I know this post has been long.  I will try to focus on what I gained from rereading my training logs rather than spouting general nuggets of “wisdom”

1. I spent a lot of time doing things in the weight room other than powerlifting.  Rather than cry about being mediocre, I remind myself that I’ve been lifting in meets for less than 4 years and for most of my life, I was doing “general strength training”.  Well, hurrah, I am generally strong…

2. …compared to most people at a commercial gym.  If you find that you are the strongest person in the chrome-and-fern palace, rather than being satisfied – like I often was – FIND A NEW PLACE TO TRAIN.  Or at least go on the internet and see who is better than you and be more like them.

3. You can do more than you think you can.  You can do more than anonymous people on the internet say you can.  You can do more than some old guy at the gym thinks you can. You should do more, and you should build up to this gradually (but not glacially). This, of course, applies to what I’m doing now.  But some people thought I was crazy for lifting squat/bench/dl 3x a week.

3a. The only exception to this seems to be, if you are 14 and weigh less than 100 lbs, you cannot do a program that consists of an amalgamation of various pro bodybuilders’ routines.

4. Don’t miss workouts.  Don’t quit.  When I first started, I weighed 98 lbs and benched 65×10 for my 1st set ever.

5. Assistance exercises are overrated.

6. Whether you log your workouts in a computer, a notebook or scraps of paper, buy a nice 5-subject notebook and recopy your workouts, 1 week per sheet at the end of every week.  This is the best way.  I’ve done this for the past 4 years and I have 2 neat notebooks.  I did not do it for the previous 16, and I have 60 chewed-up looking pieces of shit that I can barely read.

6a. Use your neat notebook to determine when you should switch programs, make minor changes, or keep going.

7. Okay, I can’t resist – this has nothing to do with my training logs.  But learn to squat right.  And I don’t mean worrying about your butt tuck or whether to look straight ahead or at the ceiling.  I mean 99% of people I see can’t even come CLOSE to parallel because they just bend their knees and do nothing with their hips.  It’s called youtube – use it for something other than watching “What does the Fox Say”.  In my day, all we had was a  poster on the wall with a badly drawn cartoon man and we figured it out.

8. Good program: anything inspired by Dinosaur Training.  You can get stronger just by thinking about that book and making a growling sound.  Try it now.

Awesome for multi-ply lifters: Westside

Not the best for raw lifters: Westside

Good for maintaining gains when you are busy: HIT (with free weights, multi-joint exercises, no forced reps, no super-slow silliness)

Good for squatting 315×12, but missing 400×1: HIT

overrated: 5/3/1 😉

underrated: 10,8,6

Disclaimer and My First Advice: Muscle Imbalances

Note: Any training opinions I give on my blog are designed for: 1) competitive raw, drug-free powerlifters. 2) people who want to be very strong.  With #1 taking clear priority. My opinions are not designed for: 1) people who vainly want to look “muscular” or “ripped” (beyond the basic desire to not be a disgusting fatbody or famished twerp)  2) athletes in sports I know nothing about training for e.g. baseball, track, speed-skating etc. 3) athletes in sports I know a little about training for, but don’t care to address because it’s been done to death elsewhere: e.g. grappling, football, military training 4) injured people – if I say foam rolling is for pussies and weirdos (which it is) and your physical therapist wants you to foam roll for your sciatica, who should you listen to?  The guy making 100 K a year?  Or a random stranger on the internet?  5) drug abusers – everything works if you take enough juice.  6) geared lifters – yes I’m sure you are quite strong underneath that kevlar denim supersuit.  No really, I care…

Also, while I do have a CSCS and various crappy powerlifting records and trophies, I do not recommend that you take my advice as I’m 1) perhaps dangerously mentally ill 2) a random guy on the internet 3) possibly lying to mislead my enemies who are everywhere. 4) intentionally insulting and trollish to get people to read my drivel

I used to be very concerned about muscle imbalances.  From reading bodybuilding magazines, I learned that you must do hamstring exercises in a no less than 1:1 ratio to quad exercises.  Since squats were a “quad exercise” and I didn’t know about stiff-legged deadlifts that meant a lot of leg curls.  Later, I learned that both squats and regular deadlifts work the hamstrings adequately.  Also, endless sets of (worthless) laterals and bent-over laterals to balance all the pressing I did.  Standing presses work the lateral head enough, and various pulls and rows, do the rear just fine.

Now it is the 21st century and I see pencil-neck trainer/therapists on T-Nation and elsewhere blathering on about thoracic imbalances and so forth.  I don’t even want to get into the sodomy and malfeasance that goes on in the commercial gym that I train at in the name of warmups/prehab/rehab/sports specificity/high-tech wizardry.  It is too depressing.

This is not to say that you cannot mess yourself up by being “imbalanced”.  For example, I knew a guy who bench pressed every day and never trained back and he ended up with a hunched forward posture and eventually a bum shoulder.

How to avoid the mostly imaginary syndrome of “muscle imbalance”:

  1. Do a variety of multi-joint free-weight exercises and learn to do them properly.
  2. Work in all four upper-body planes – Vertical Pull/Push & Horizontal Pull/Push (i.e. Chinup, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Row)  (about the only useful thing I learned from my Ian King book and not exactly an earth-shatterer)
  3. Do various band pulling exercises for your shoulders.  This is something you can do for 5 minutes after a workout or at home.  I hesitate to even mention this because band pulling should not consume your every waking hour or replace actual work. This is good : http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/band-pull-apart-super-series-for-healthy-shoulders/
  4. Shut up and get stronger.  Do you think Goerner worried about muscle imbalances?  Shit, I dunno, maybe he did.