I had the idea to interview one of the loudest guys on Internet forums, and self proclaimed asshole Jamie “Chaos And Pain” Lewis. It turns out that an interview is an exercise in futility. Jamie is like a bulldozer on steroids. So, what follows is more like a conversation and Jamie. Read on, as Jamie Lewis takes a sledge hammer to modern training protocols. Enjoy.
Mike Gossett: First off, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule of pillaging small villages to do this interview.
Jamie Lewis: (Laughs) No worries, it’s too fucking cold out to do much pillaging.
MG: I know the feeling. For those reading this who don’t know, tell us a little about yourself.
Jamie Lewis: I’m a wildly over-educated strength athlete from Philly. I’ve bounced all over the place, but I wrestled in college, have competed off and on in raw, natural powerlifting competitions for the last 12 years, did a strongman a couple of years ago, and have been consistently appalled by just about everyone on Earth for the duration of my life (laughs).
I got my undergrad in history and East Asian studies from the University of Arizona, an MBA from University of South Carolina, and dropped out of a JD program at the University of San Diego, because I hate laws and lawyers. I’ve been lifting since my sophomore year in high school, and was weak as shit to start. I couldn’t bench 135, weighing 130 for a football strength test.
I currently live in Birmingham and work for a software company. That’s an awesomely disjointed personal history.
MG: Something like that. If I remember correctly you also won the raw worlds a few years back, right?
Jamie: Yeah, the WNPF worlds. It was pretty hilarious, because I was under the impression raw meant RAW, so I competed sans belt, wraps, etc., and the entire time, people talked shit about me not knowing what the fuck I was doing, and that bodybuilders shouldn’t try powerlifting because they’ll get killed at it.
They were somewhat disconcerted with the result, I think, and I was called for a “random” drug test the second I set down my final deadlift attempt. The entire time, I was busy being offended by the fact that they had called me a bodybuilder. (laughs)
MG: Well, to be honest you do look like one.
Jamie: Thanks. I actually learned to take it as a compliment. I think bodybuilding comes with a set of negative stereotypes with which I’d rather not associate myself. I don’t own a Christian Audiger shirt, so I don’t think they’d allow me to compete in a bodybuilding show, anyway.
MG: (Laughs) To change subjects, you posted your workout philosophy on your blog a while back. Can you tell us a little more about that.
Jamie: (Laughs) My philosophy is fairly simple – people need to man the fuck up. I read a quote by the barbarian brothers years ago – “There’s no such thing as overtraining. Just undereating and undersleeping.” That always rang true with me, because I enjoy training, and always wanted to train more rather than less.
People seem obsessed with efficiency lately, and while that’s a good thing in some respects, no one who actually enjoys doing something give’s a flying fuck about doing it efficiently – they do it in a manner that pleases them.
Mentzer and the HIT Jedi clearly hate training, and it shows. He was a fat crackhead and dropped dead at an early age, possibly due to an allergic reaction to the sweatsuits he wore in every pic I’ve seen of him. And no one who’s a full on HIT Jedi amounts to shit.
Pile on top of that, the fact that most people who do bodypart training are weak as kittens and look like hammered dogshit, and you’ve got the roots of my training philosophy. Additionally, I found that the most effective exercises don’t fit neatly into a bodypart program, and that realization caused me to abandon bodypart programs for full body routines.
Later, I realized that endlessly pumping away on shit was boring and mostly ineffective, and that the more ultra-heavy work I did, the leaner I was, and the stronger I was, and the better I felt. Thereafter, I kicked my reading into full gear and amassed a fair library on nutrition and training, and Chaos and Pain was born.
My watershed moment, as I recall, was trying a back squat into overhead press (which later became my BTN push press), and realizing I couldn’t put that on a bodypart day without dropping the whole scheme. And I loved that movement, so I ditched the bodypart routine that day.
MG: Wow, anything else you’d like to say, or anyone else you’d like to rip a new asshole before we move on?
Jamie: I think you know my feelings on Stuart McRobert, but I’d like to send out a hearty fuck you to Joe Weider, whom I will personally eviscerate if I should ever see him.
He’s led millions of lifters astray for years, and the damage that he’s done to strength sports, and the gym industry in particular, is irreparable. I hope he gets cancer of the AIDS, bleeds out of his fucking eyes, and his offspring are covered in boils.
We can move on now. (Laughs)
MG: Hold on I need to remember how to breathe first.
MG: Ok, here’s a question from Steve at MAB.com…What are the most inane, retarded, fucked up, OCD beliefs that bodybuilders stick to, but should get rid of?
Jamie: Well, obviously, the first thing is overtraining and rest days. Bodybuilders have gotten it into their heads that they will shrivel up if they “overtrain”, in spite of the fact that there’s very little objective criteria for overtraining.
And their theory flies in the face of common sense – I mean, look at anyone who works with their hands, like carpenters or brick masons – their forearms are insane.
I think it’s just a salve to their psyches telling them it’s okay to be a fucking pussy. But masons in particular are typically drunk all day long, eat virtually nothing, and heave big ass blocks of stone all over for 10 hours a day. They’re ripped, and their forearms and upper bodies are far more muscular than they have any right to be, given their diets.
According to the theory of overtraining, they should be withered usks of humans, populating the ICU of every hospital on earth, but they’re not.
Next, bodybuilders need to drop their belief in the 1-5 reps for strength, 6-12 for hypertrophy, and 12+ for endurance. It’s fucking preposterous. Clinical evidence supports that, but the vast majority of those studies are conducted on machines, with detrained fuckers who’ve never lifted before. Of COURSE they’re not going to get results from singles. They’re fucking weak, they’re on machines, and they generally suck.
Hypertrophy can be induced from singles, in my experience, from reducing rest periods to 60-90 seconds, maximum. 90-95% 1RM singles with those rest periods will induce hypertrophy because they recruit so many muscle fibers.
It’s almost like a rest-pause set, if you’re going by Weider principles.
I don’t have my notes in front of me, but a decent part of Science and Practice of Strength Training will corroborate this, as will just about every strength athlete on earth – it’s not as if Olmypic lifters are bereft of muscle. And they primarily stick to 1-3 reps per set.
Lastly, the belief that cardio is necessary for fat loss should be abandoned altogether. That and the idea that high reps burn fat. High reps are fucking stupid – they’re not metabolically intensive at all. I mean, how could a person think that lifting a paperweight a thousand times will be more beneficial to fat loss and metabolism than lifting the back end of their car a few times?
There’s only one guy of whom I can think offhand who succeeded with ultra-high reps for fat loss, and that’s Bobby Pandour – an old-school bodybuilder from the turn of the century.
But back to the cardio issue. I’m of the opinion that since higher testosterone levels lead to lower bodyfat, and because muscle is calorically expensive to maintain and increase, weightlifting is the best way to lean out. Thus, I recommend adding light weightlifting sessions as opposed to cardio for fat loss.
MG: What about the farmer’s walk, and stuff like that?
Jamie: That’s lifting. GPP that involves lifting things is great for fat loss. But I don’t really consider that to be cardio, as it still spurs hypertrophy.
MG: True. But few things have left me gasping so hard for air.
Jamie: (Laughs) I had someone recently suggest to me that I need to look into my recommendation for low rest periods and it’s connection with oxygen-deprivation induced euphoria. (Laughs)
But it’s still anaerobic.
MG: Very true. Switching topics again (laughs), what’s on your agenda as far as competitions and such?
Jamie: Well, on the urging of Marc Bartley, I’m going to compete in a real powerlifting federation this year. And I’m going to try to total elite, raw. Which, as I understand it, has never been done. He seemed pretty confident I could pull it off though. I think it would be amusing if I tried out for Ninja Warrior as well. Additionally, I’m going to do a local bodybuilding competition at the end of the year, in spite of my general dislike for the sport, simply to prove that repetition lifting and cardio are unnecessary.
Expect my posing routine to be non-stop most musculars to death metal, or me in a rhinestone studded pink banana hammock posing to Bye Bye Bye. I haven’t decided which yet. I’m going to post every training session and meal during those prep periods.
MG: Sounds interesting, my vote is the pink banana hammock.
Jamie: I figured as much. (Laughs) The worst part about bodybuilding is the posing routines to gospel, in my opinion. Makes the shows completely intolerable.
MG: Dude you’re in the bible belt now. Gospel is almost on non-stop on.
Jamie: Yeah, it’s fairly horrific. I’ve got a sticker in my car window that read “I don’t worship Satan, but I really like the guy.” in one week, I’ve gotten two notes under my wiper that read “I’m praying for you” or some such nonsense. (Laughs)
MG: (Laughs) Why not just put a big pentagram on there?
Jamie: Eh, too goth. (Laughs)
MG: Okay (laughs), let’s say a beginner was brave/stupid enough to ask you to train them, what would you have them do, and what tips would you give them?
Jamie: How raw of a beginner?
MG: Fresh out the womb.
Jamie: Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever trained a raw beginner. I would have them train front squats, standing overhead presses, and deadlifts three times a week, and then pullups, dips, and abs two other days a week. I’d keep the volume fairly low, especially at first, and have them focus on learning the movements.
After about a month, we’d take the training wheels off and start loading them up, but keep the routine the same.
MG: Ok, any nutrition tips?
Jamie: What, you’re not going to express horror at the fact that my program is bereft of the benchpress?
MG: No, the dips and shoulder presses would take care of them for a long time.
Jamie: Look at you. I’m proud of you. I have an ongoing argument with a friend over my hatred of incline bp, which he thinks is essential. Meanwhile, his upper chest looks like shit, and his shoulders hurt. I’ve got a decent upper chest, and no shoulder pain, and he just won’t accept the fact that the log press is far better for upper chest development than incline bp, and better for your entire shoulder girdle.
I guess he just likes laying down when he should be lifting.
MG: Well, any shoulder pressing will hit the upper chest to some degree not to mention the dips.
Jamie: Exactly. So, onto your question. Nutrition tips.
I think everyone should read a couple books – Neanderthin, by Ray Audette, and the Metabolic Man, by William Wolcott. I know they’re not going to read the second, because it’s a meta-analysis of metabolic typing diets, but the first is a must read. Though I’m not a hard and fast Paleo guy, it’s a good guideline to which one might stick.
If you’re eating lean meats, veggies, nuts and seeds, there’s no possibility that you’ll be anything but lean and muscular. From that basis, you can tinker with your diet to find out what works for greater hypertrophy, but that’s a perfect basis.
Next, I think that keto dieting is essential to getting ultra lean, even if it’s simply short keto runs. Right now, I’m ascribing to a diet wherein I keto diet Monday-Thursday, moderate carb with high protein and low fat Friday, and then a 3 hour cheat window Friday night, moderate carbs, high protein, low fat on Saturday, and then same as Friday on Sunday. Cycling my macro nutrients that way helps me lean out and build muscle simultaneously.
Warren Willey is a big proponent of those cheat windows, and I swear by them – refeeds really will get you leaner.
Incidentally, I don’t give any nutrition advice to women. So my recommendation on carb cycling is just for guys. Especially refeeds.
MG: Why wont you deal with women?
Jamie: Women have a psychological attachment to food. Meaning no disrespect to women (for once in my life), I think they need a psychologist more than a nutritionist for dieting. Because I have no idea how to break that emotional attachment, and it alternately amuses and horrifies me, the refeeds derail their diets every fucking time. Thus, they’re either dieting, or they’re eating like shit. There’s no in between. I can’t be bothered to deal with that. (Laughs)
MG: (Laughs) Also I’ve seen your chicken wing keto runs. I have to ask – what does your blood work look like?
Jamie: That’s a good question. I’ve been to the doctor twice in the last 10 years, and have not had a physical since I was an undergrad. I never get sick, so I haven’t seen the need. I did have my anti-oxidents tested during a keto run a couple years ago, and they were off the chart. I can only attribute that to Animal Pak. But blood lipids and cholesterol are not typically negatively impacted by keto dieting. There’s plenty of empirical evidence to support that. And saturated fat is positively correlated with testosterone, so I’m all about it.
MG: Another question I meant to ask about C&P training. What is your progression scheme?
Jamie: I progress whenever I can, as much as I can. There’s no scheme, because there are too many variables for one to accurately calculate a proper progression scheme, or to predict when such progression might occur.
People aren’t machines, and nothing in nature follows linear progression. If macro-evolution isn’t incrementally progressive, I cannot imagine why I personally could shrug off the nature of life and progress that way. The idea of incremental progression is counter-intuitive, and I believe limits progress far more than it stimulates it. Have you ever followed an incremental progression scheme?
MG: No not really, go for broke every time is my motto.
Jamie: (Laughs) Nice.
MG: Except for DE days.
Jamie: Ah. I fail at DE (dynamic effort) days altogether, and they always become max days.
MG: I have to fight the urge.
Jamie: But I know other people who agree – there are days on those programs wherein they KNOW they could add 15 or 20 lbs to the bar, but only add 5 like the program says. And then later can’t hit the weights the program tells them to. So they miss the opportunity for a potential PR for nothing.
It’s depressing. The only time I use machines is on deload days, by the way – just so I CANNOT max. (Laughs)
MG: (Laughs) Well, then since you have ripped bodybuilders apart, why don’t you take a swing at powerlifters.
Jamie: Ok. My problem with them is threefold:
1) Most of them think, in the face of a shitload of evidence, that they have to be fat to be strong. And that fat somehow shields them from injury. That’s absurd. Fat is pretty much bereft of capillaries, so they’re getting shitty nutrient and bloodflow to their joints when they’re fat. Which would leave them MORE, not LESS, prone to injury.
2) The gear is fucking retarded. Spud’s a great guy, and I respect the shit out of him. But when a guy uses gear, you’re ALWAYS going to wonder how much of his epic squat was the suit. I mean, fuck, if you want to see how much you can lift using a forklift, do that. Otherwise, get out there and fucking lift raw. I just dislike the questions that the gear raises. It is tempting to see what kind of numbers I could put up in a suit, but that’s also fucking irritating. But it’s like an evil fucking siren song calling me to gear, which also pisses me off.
3) Most of them suck at anything that’s not one of the big three, because they never train it. I remember reading an interview where one of Louie’s guys, I think it was Brian Schwab, but if not it was some other 165-er, who lamented the fact that HE COULDN’T DO A PULLUP. WHAT THE FUCK? If you weigh 165 lbs and cannot do a pullup, you should fucking kill yourself immediately in whichever manner speeds your dispatch best. Matt Kroczalesky is the obvious exception.
MG: Ok, anything to say about strongmen?
Jamie: No problems with strongmen. I love their debates about which is the “true” strongman style. WSM vs whatever the one at the Arnold is. If I didn’t have tiny little t-rex arms and weigh 185, I’d be all over competing in strongman. But no one gives a rat’s ass about lightweight strongman, and I fucking blow at stones.
I can lap the 308, and after that, it’s fucking curtains for me, because I can’t get my arms around the fucking thing.
MG: How about Olympic lifters?
Jamie: I wish the US could put together a decent team. It’s nothing but sloth that keeps us out of it. Americans are fucking lazy, and are afraid of overtraining. So with the best fucking food, medicine, and training facilities on earth, we suck shit at Olympic lifting. That’s unacceptable. There should be no sport in which we don’t dominate.
MG: What about chess?
Jamie: Not a sport. And I prefer quadrago. It’s 3 dimensional Connect Four, and it fucking rules. Frankly, I prefer to read than play chess though. I’ll play it if it’s that or watch tv, but that’s about the only reason I’d do it – faced with reality tv or chess, chess wins. As do bleach enemas.
MG: Okay, any swings to take at sports training?
Jamie: I haven’t spent all that much time with it, honestly. I think that anything that involves a stability ball should be stopped, stat, and the trainer should be summarily executed. Frankly, 99% of the trainers on earth deserve liquidation.
MG: Cash for clunkers?
Jamie: And every sport is different, so they’d necessarily require different preparation, but heavy strength training should be a cornerstone of each.
Are you asking me what I think of the cash for clunkers program?
MG: No, joking about the liquidation of trainers.
Jamie: Ah. (Laughs) While the ovens are hot from the trainers, though, we might as well stuff in every single politician in the country. Though if someone bombs congress, I will go down and roast marshmellows with that fire. Which is pretty much how I feel about planet fitness as well.