Q: Jamie, tell us a little about yourself and your training history.
A: Trying to adhere to a staunch advocacy of brevity- I’m a strength athlete who’s wildly overeducated for his job in software and who has no academic background whatsoever in physiology or nutrition. I’ve got an MBA in Marketing, quit a JD program a year in, have lived in three countries and 19 different cities, and have held a panoply of jobs that would confound any reasonable person. I was a trainer and group fitness instructor (yes, I know, hilarious) for a couple of years, during which time I developed an abject hatred for 99.9% of the trainers on the planet, and massive disrespect for the various luminaries in the field. My knowledge of strength training and nutrition is the result of about 15 years of training, a voracious intellectual appetite, and the fact that I’ve read more texts, and far more esoteric texts, than most of the purported exerts, though I’ll give Anthony Roberts the edge over me in that regard.
Over the years, I’ve tried virtually every kind of training under the sun, and adhered mostly to bodypart training routines for the first 7 years or so of my 15 years of training. Thereafter, I started experimenting more with full body and push-pull style routines, and started gaining more muscle and shedding more fat. Things really took off for me when I lived in Austria in 2007, where I started using a couple of Waterbury routines and adhering to Ray Audette’s Neanderthin blended with the cheat window philosophy of Warren Willey. Using that, I got incredibly lean and tremendously strong for my weight, to the point where I was front squatting 440 at a bodyweight of around 170. Three years later, utilizing the lessons I’ve learned thereafter, I’m a lean 195-200, front squatting 535, back squatting 615 (though it’s been a while since I maxed and I’m betting I’ve got at least another 20 lbs on that), deadlifting 625, and I randomly reverse grip bench pressed 405 last year, haha, something I’ve not come close to duplicating since. That’s a far cry from my chubby 130 lbs where I started in 1994, especially given the fact that I got pinned under 135 the first time I tried to bench it.
Q: What is Chaos and Pain?
A: Chaos and Pain is a training and nutrition methodology I devised as an expression of my basic rejection of all for which the modern world stands. Essentially, I’m what Mike Mentzer should have been- a philosopher utilizing an anarcho-capitalist, postmodernist philosophy to define a lifestyle that centers on the idea that modern man is physically and mentally weak. Unfortunately, Mentzer completely cocked up Ayn Rand, and arrived at the conclusion that one should do less, rather than more, and that the human body was an impossibly fragile, nearly useless husk that should be babied and coddled. This could not be further from the truth- history is filled with examples of the insane workload under which the human body can flourish, and the feats of which we’re capable when we simply refuse to acknowledge the possibility of failure.
Drawing upon these examples, and combining them with both anecdotal and clinical evidence that the human body thrives under great stress, I developed this philosophy: If you train more, and much, much heavier, you will grown and get stronger. I know this runs counter to conventional wisdom, but conventional wisdom results in conventional strength and physiques.
- The Bulgarians are the most accessible example of this philosophy- they lift weights for roughly 45 hours a week, training 6 days a week for 6-8 hours a day, and they’re the most dominant group of athletes in the history of strength athletics.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger is considered the greatest bodybuilder of all time, and he trained 6 days a week. Other bodybuilders who were both strong and jacked on a high-volume routine include John Grimek, Bill Pearl, John Defendis, Arthur Saxon, Franco Columbo, Marvin Eder, Sergio Oliva, and countless others.
- Interestingly, the most successful bodybuilders were generally the strongest as well. Notable exceptions include Flex Wheeler, who now looks like hammered dogshit and boasts a 13” neck, Frank Zane, and Serge Nubret, all of whom lost their size and shape shortly after they abandoned competition. The bodybuilders who trained heavier, however, seemed to retain their physiques for far longer.
Q: It takes a lot of mental and intestinal fortitude to train the way you do day in and day out. What words do you offer critics who would scream “overtraining”?
A: They suffer from clinical vaginitis, and lack library cards. Anyone who’s read anything about successful strength athletes is aware that nine times out of ten, it’s the guys who train more, not less, who have the majority of success. For that matter, they lack the ability to view the issue logically- who has ever gotten better at something by doing less of it? No one.
Mike Mentzer, Stuart McRobert, and anyone else who preaches against the evil, ephemeral, and generally nonexistent phenomenon of overtraining are preying on the modern tendency towards sloth and weakness. They’re the same people who will get snowed by John Basedow later in life.
English railway navvies in the 1850s were expected to shovel, by hand, 20 tons of earth daily. Nepalese porters weighing an average of 49.7 kilos routinely transport loads of 90 kilos over 95 kilometers of steep mountain trails per day. If they could do it, so can we.
Q: Aside from being a freak under the bar, you possess an impressive physique. Tell me how you feel your style of training has influenced that.
A: I believe wholeheartedly that form follows function. If you train like a beast, you’ll look like a beast. If you don’t, you’ll have that lame, puffy, cartoonish look that guys like Flex Wheeler had. If you’d like to be referred to as a pretty man, high reps on machines are the way to go. If you want to look like you were carved out of granite, however, heavy, brutal, nearly insane workouts with death-defying weight are the only way to achieve this goal.
Q: You stay incredibly lean well maintaining high levels of strength. Any secrets there? Your eating habits? I know you’re a proponent of metabolic typing; can you explain that briefly?
I’m not sure who it was that initially promulgated the theory that being a disgusting fatbody makes you stronger, but it’s a ridiculous supposition. Arthur Saxon pressed 400+ pounds overhead, a feat no one has since reproduced, while being tremendously lean. You’ll notice that powerlifters are definitely tending more towards leanness, like Kroc, and the best strongman competitors now look like bodybuilders a month out from a show. I think the key lies in both understanding your metabolism, and keeping your workload high enough to force your body to maintain a very high metabolic rate.
Metabolic typing is actually an old nutritional philosophy, but one only rarely espoused by strength coaches or nutritionists. Insofar as I know, it’s only Paul Chek and and I who espouse this philosophy. Metabolic typing can take a tremendous number of forms, ranging from Paul D’Amato’s nonsensical blood typing diet to the Ayurvedic system to William Wolcott’s system, and I espouse the latter. It utilizes a fairly complex test (in his text, though the online tests are abbreviated greatly) to determine your ideal macronutrient profile, dividing people into three types: protein type, mixed type, and carb type. For anyone who’d like to take the abbreviated test, you can find it here: http://www.naturalhealthyellowpages.com/metabolic/self_test.html. Frankly, I don’t accept that diet on its face, but find that it’s a useful guide for developing a diet plan in conjunction with Paleolithic dieting and more cutting edge sports nutrition, and it explains in complex terms why you’ll find some people who can flourish on a ketogenic diet (like myself) and others who have no benefit, or on whom it has deleterious effects. As a protein type, I’ve found that if I rotate my carbs between virtually none and about 100g a day (except for those days on which I have a 3 hour cheat window) I can stay lean, or get leaner, and build muscle simultaneously.
Q: Jamie, thanks so much for your time. Is there anything you’d like to add?
There will be those who will state, with no factual basis whatsoever, that only lifters taking an immense amount of drugs can achieve the types of results that I have. This is nonsense- pre-steroid era routines were almost uniformly more volume-intensive than are modern routines, and they produced results that we cannot reproduce in the modern era, even with the benefits of cleaner drinking water, vastly improved equipment, and more readily available food. The belief that humans are incapable of adapting to vastly increased workloads is borne of nothing more than intellectual weakness, historical ignorance, and a complete lack of understanding of ontogeny.
Essentially, the adoption of high-volume, heavy weight workout routines is a rejection of the modern tendency to suck, and an attempt to reclaim the physical and mental strength of the Paleolithic era. People need to stop bitching and start lifting. Ronnie Coleman pretty much said it best- “Everybody wanna be big, but don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy-ass weight.” I might take issue with his grammar, his demeanor, and his wardrobe choices, but he’s on the money with that statement.
Q: Website, contact, shameless plug of any kind?
My blog is chaosandpain.blogspot.com and the associated website is www.chaosandpain.com. Anyone who doesn’t suck ought to check them out.