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08 October 2009

*There is Nothing New Under The Sun

I am consistently amused and somewhat disheartened by the propensity for people, especially in the strength training and community, to "create" programs and training styles that are simply repackaged versions of old training regimens. Of course, this hardly is a phenomenon limited to our esteemed brethren in iron, but rather is a ridiculous trait brandished unabashedly by shameless self promoters worldwide. The French, for instance, have the gall to claim that they invented modern democracy. A preposterous idea, for one, as democracy has existed for most of recorded human history, and was utilized by everyone from the Vikings to the Greeks to the medieval Japanese, but people persist in the faulty idea that the French in some way resurrected the idea for modern times, when it in fact never went away. But I digress.

An early proponent of democracy.
P90X is an immensely popular routine trumpeted on TV like it's heralding the second coming of Jesus, and bases its success on a concept called "muscle confusion". Really? I'm fairly certain one cannot confuse something that lacks a brain. As such, it's a stupid name for a concept. Semantics aside, it's not even a new concept- Joe Weider's been blathering about "Weider principle of muscle confusion", and as Joe Weider is the Thomas Edison of bodybuilding (i.e. he steals other people's ideas and makes them his own), I'd venture to guess that Weider heard it elsewhere as well. P90x is nothing new- it's what personal trainers have known for years: if you kick the everloving shit out of your client for an hour straight, forcing them to do active rest rather than sit around yapping, they'll get leaner. This is especially true if you put them on a tight diet and convince them that there's no way they can fail. Sound familiar? Yep. P90x, common sense mixed with pretty packaging and a Joe Weider aphorism thrown in on top for good measure.
P90x can make you look like this. Whee.

This brings us to the latest silliness of the Joe Weider/Frenchmen ilk. An article posted on T-Muscle recently detailed a trainer named Scott Abel's epiphany, and his utter scientific genius, in getting some douche to grow legs.

"I showed him how to do an extended set. When he notices a force decrement at around rep 8, I have him lock out and re-oxygenate. We repeat this process for every successive force decrement to the point where he's doing lock-out singles. So, even though he starts to fail at rep 8, he cranks out 22 reps for that set. And in the next set he gets 17 with the same weight. (Our goal was actually 5 sets)."

Does that sound in any way familiar to you? It sure as shit does to me, but that's because I've read more strength training books than anyone else I've ever met. What Abel did was use a fantastically absurd and arcane scientific jargon to describe PEARY RADER'S BREATHING SQUATS. Fuck me sideways, though, he made it sound pretty, didn't he? The great irony is that no one has apparently noticed this, in spite of the fact that super-vegan Mike Mahler took time out of his busy kettlebell filled days to write an article about Peary Rader's program less than a year ago. His article, however, mentioned nothing of force decrements, because even as impressed with himself as Mike Mahler is (and tip of the cap to him, he looks pretty brutal for a guy who eats like a field mouse), he's not so impressed with himself as to try to explain a simple training style as if it were quantum mechanics.

So, what's this tell us? There is definitely nothing new under the sun, and chances are, the best training regimens ever created were birthed from the minds of people who would neither care about the impact of a force decrement on their repeition scheme, and would would "re-oxygenate " WHEN THEY WERE OUT OF BREATH. Imagine.

A model posed for this sculpture in the 3rd Century AD, and I guarantee you he didn't give a flying fuck about his force decrements.

Now, go read a book on and tell me I'm wrong. Dismissed.


  1. What about existentialism and blow jobs?

  2. you need to sign up at t-nation and spread the gospel over there.

  3. T-nation is for pussies.

  4. The great irony here, is that I was going to attempt to get published for the first time there. I would venture to guess that's not going to happen at this point. Just about the only bridge I've not burned at this point is EliteFTS, I think, given the fact that the DragonDoor guys are Rippetoe marks.

  5. Did a real model really pose for the statue? I mean it's not like Penny Underbust is based on a real person...