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26 November 2012

It's Time To Stop Mocking Indians For Their Clubbells #4- And You Thought Sumo Wrestlers Had A Fucked Up Diet



Before their jacked brown bodies were pulled into the cold, clammy bosom of the British Empire, Indians were hard as fucking nails.  I've already expounded upon this pretty hard, detailing the wacky shit up to which they used to get, like "sports" that consisted of angering male bulls in heat and dinging the world's most dangerous pole dancing, but it went further than that.  Additionally, Indians were fucking jacked back in the day, though their physiques differed pretty markedly from that of what one would typically think of when they're thinking "jacked".  Rather than looking like Ronnie "everybody wanna be big but don't nobody wanna lift no heavy ass weight" Coleman, they looked quite a bit more like what we'd all picture Paul Bunyan to look like- thickly muscled, big-ass forearms, and a thick midsection with a hint of abs but no real definition. They actually pursued that look actively, for some reason, thinking that bodybuilders simply look like a bunch of weird bodyparts jammed together and held in place with the liberal application of staples and hot glue. I don't think, however, it was their training that created the different physiques so much as their diets, however, and the modern diet of the pehlwans (which literally means "strong man", but essentially means "wrestler") is pretty much as wild as you can imagine.  If you thought sumo wrestlers got up to some dietary shenanigans, prepare to have your your mind blown harder than a university of South Carolina running back's knees.

This was not the face of India 500 years ago.  These "noble ascetics" would be called then what they are now- a pack of dirty bums that probably smell like the unwiped assholes of people who live on a diet of curry.  That is to say, they smell like themselves.

Before I dive into the diets of Indian strong men, it bears mentioning that Indian diets differ considerably from person to person, as they base their diet on your general personality profile and your activity level.  Thus, if you're quick-tempered and wrestle and lift all day, you want to eat cool foods, but if you're lazy and stoic, you should probably be eating hot food.  Additionally, Indian Ayurvedic medicine actually prescribes differing diets for each season.  There's a bit of weird logic behind it into which I won't really go, but they recommend, for instance, that you eat fattier foods in the winter, lighter foods in the summer, and lean, protein rich, dry foods in the rainy season.  Basically, you're eating to balance yourself out with the world around you.  This is, I realize, a far fucking cry from what you were probably expecting, given my penchant for breaking down shit by their macronutrients and delving into the complex physiological unpinning of a given dietary choice, but the Indians don't give a fuck about that shit.  They're relying, it seems, on good old-fashioned alchemy, some guesswork, and possibly some magical chicanery for their diets.  There are recommendations and prohibitions for flavor as well, which are too complex and numerous for me to detail but are as interesting as they are nonsensical and amusing to research if you find yourself bored on Wikipedia one day.


I cannot quite dive into Indian lifters' diets yet, though, because I have to debunk a common myth.  That myth is that Hindu Indians eschew any and all meat, with beef being format amongst their dietary taboos.  This is, like most "common knowledge", total fucking horseshit.  Though I would hardly call myself an absolute authority on Indian history, I can state that there appears to be compelling evidence showing that vegetarianism in India is a remarkably modern phenomenon.  It seems to have been imposed, over time, as an outgrowth of theocratic sentiment, rather than any religious prescription.  Similar to the prohibition of meat eating on Fridays by the Catholic Church, there was a rather dark economic rationale behind the prohibition of beef consumption.  Amusingly, the widespread prohibition of beef and other meat consumption occurred contiguous with India's precipitous fall from a position as a world power.  That's not to say these dietary proscriptions were followed, however, but rather that the edicts themselves were issued.
How could you worship a blue-skinned god who rides a crocodile into battle and not eat a steak every day?

In the distant past, Indians ate just about anything made of meat of which you could think- their highest castes considered consecrated meat consumption to actually be a form of worship.  The Rigveda frequently refers to the cooking ox meat for offerings to the gods (Jha 29), offerings of 1, 100, and 300 buffalo were made to the god Indra (Ibid), and cattle sacrifice to the gods Mitra and Varuna (Jha 30).  Compounding this are statements in the Taittiriya Brahmana that "unambiguously" refer to the sacrificial killing of cows, which are "verily food" (Jha 31), and multiple mentions of beef as the best kind of food in the Satapatha Brahmana (Jha 32).  Clearly, the ancient Aryans were busy grilling steaks every night while subjugating the existing populations, but you might wonder if the indigenous non-Aryans sided with or against the Chik-Fil-A cows. The answer's exactly what any rational person would think- they were sidling right up to the grill for seconds.

The Harrappan civilization was already established in India when the Aryans invaded, bringing with them the religion that would later become Hinduism.  These people weren't just lowly hunter-gatherers, either- they had advanced constructions in which they lived that featured toilets with flowing water sewage systems, the most advanced measurement system in the ancient world, the first dentists (evidence of the first drilled molars were found in Harrappan cities), and one of the oldest writing systems in the world.  Despite all of that advancement, they were apparently shitty warriors and got the brakes beat off them by the Aryans, who conquered the Harappans and supplanted their existing culture with Aryan culture and religion.  The produce of the Aryan religion were the Vedas, a series of Brahmanical texts written over time, not unlike the books of the Christian Bible.  Similarly, these books often contradict each other, though the Vedas are fairly uniform in the stance on meat consumption- it's allowed.  Most meat was allowed irrespective of the reason behind the animal's killing, though animals generally considered to be dirty were often avoided.  Until the 19th century, Indian sages and Punjabi badasses alike reveled in their meat and ate the fuck out of it.  It wasn't until Hindu temples laid down the law around the country to line their own pockets that meat really began to be eschewed on a wider scale, but cattle are still regularly slaughtered and eaten in rural areas of Eastern India, and the Indian Physical Culture Encyclopedia espoused the consumption of meat as well, particularly in the fall, which falls in line with the Ayurvedic dietary recommendations (685).

Jumping forward to the modern era, pehlwans unfortunately aren't snacking on beef jerky all day as a fuck you to the assholes who want to keep them from eating delicious, delicious beef.  Instead, they eat a daily caloric catastrophe that makes sumo wrestlers look positively pro-ana by comparison.  The pehlwan's specialized diet is referred to as khurak, and consists primarily of ghee, milk, and almonds   They're not as concerned with what they eat, however, as how much of it they eat.  Not unlike the sumo of Japan, these motherfuckers put food away like their name was JM Blakely and they hated seeing abs more than a fat admirer at a BBW pickup bar.  Thus, they "drink buckets of milk, eat kilograms of almonds, and devour large quantities of ghi per day"(Alter).  Because they're constantly training, pehlwans attempt to eat the coolest, most sattva foods.  Though they don't always agree on what's most sattva, milk and ghee are considered to be paramount and are thus their two most important foods, and the foods around which they structure the rest of their diets.  According to Joseph Alter, many pehlwans still eat meat, however.
"While meat is regarded as rajas in nature, wrestlers who eat meat tend to rationalize this. They argue
that one can eat meat and to some extent avoid the consequences. The trick is to neutralize the rajas nature of meat by some form of counteractivity. I was not able to determine what these counteractivities were. However, many wrestlers implied that meat would only aggravate one's passion if one were “naturally” predisposed towards excitability, anger, and hypertension. Thus anyone who ate meat could, and often did, argue that they were so sattva by nature that meat did not adversely affect them. Moreover, by virtue of their
naturally aggressive “military” disposition, Rajputs are thought to thrive on meat (cf. Carstairs 1958; Minturn and Hitchcock 1966; Seesodia 1915; Steed 1955). Some Rajput wrestlers argue that meat is good for them because they should, in a sense, eat what they are"(Alter).
Even their goddamned statues drink milk.

I'm just going to go on record and state that I think the vast majority of this shit is fully insane- for me, this is an entirely intellectual exercise.  I'm sure there's something to be learned here, though, so it bears investigation.  That investigation does not include ghee, however, as I fucking despise its taste and smell almost as much as yak butter, which smells like a sweaty old man's balls.  It's fucking horrible.  If smegma and dogshit fucked, their unholy spawn would smell like a mild peppermint candy scented candle compared to burning yak butter, and ghee doesn't smell much better than yak butter.  Additionally, both of those horrid substances have scents that cling to your clothes through multiple washes, not unlike Animal Pak vitamins.  Leave an Animal Pak in your pocket for a day and see how long it takes to get the smell out- this shit is the same way.
A flamethrower is about the only solution to the Animal Pak problem.

Before you start googling, here's the nutritional breakdown on ghee- it's comprised entirely of fat, and the majority of that is saturated.  Ghee has 5 grams of fat per teaspoon, which will be an important metric when you see how much of it these maniacs consume daily.  According to Indians, ghee is "good for nearly everything" and "serves as a perfect, natural health tonic"(Alter). They have a variety of ways to get what amounts to liquified fat into their systems, and surprisingly none of them involve a caulking gun and an open wound.  Among the preferred ways to get ghee into your diet, here are the highlights:

  1. After exercise, place as much ghi as you are accustomed to drinking in a pan. Cover this pan with a fine cloth and sprinkle ground-sugar candy on it. Then take some milk and pour it through the cloth into the pan with the ghi. Drink this mixture.  There are a number of variations on this basic prescription. All entail the use of various specific, medicinal, tonic digestive powders referred to generically as churan. In all such prescriptions, churan, ground pepper, milk, ghi, and honey are mixed together in various proportions. Milk is always the final ingredient and is mixed in with the other items (Atreya 1984: 28).
  2. After exercise, take powdered black pepper and mix it in with as much ghi as you are accustomed to drinking. Heat the ghi to a point where it is compatible with your strength (the “heat” referred to here is not only the temperature of the ghi but its latent energy as well). Drink the ghi in its melted form.
  3. In its melted form ghi is also consumed with food. It may be drunk before the regular meal or mixed in with lentils and vegetables or poured on bread and rice.
  4. One of the best ways to take ghi in your diet is to mix it with dried, powdered nuts and grains. Basically anything which is dry in nature—dry in the sense of being non-unctuous—can be mixed with ghi in this way. Take whatever it is that you wish to mix—almonds, chana, (p. 122 ) dried peas, pistachios—and grind them into a fine powder. Put this powder into an iron skillet and brown it over a fire.  Add some water and continue cooking the mixture until about 150 grams of water remains. Take the iron skillet off the fire and heat up as much ghi as you are accustomed to drinking. Once this is hot, remove it from the fire, take the powdered mixture and add it to the ghi so that it is lightly and quickly browned. Drink/eat this mixture after you have finished your exercise regimen.
  5. In the evening, take your usual quantity of milk and warm it.  Add to this as much ghi as you are accustomed to drinking. Allow this mixture to form into yogurt through the addition of the correct culture. Drink this yogurt after your morning exercises. Be sure not to add any water.
  6. Grind almonds and black pepper together with some water. Heat up as much ghi as you wish to drink and then add the almond paste to the ghi. Add some sugar and drink this mixture.
  7. Mix together equal parts ghi, gur (hard molasses), and besan (chickpea) flour. Eat this mixture as a snack after exercise.
  8. Mix as much ghi as you wish to drink with as much warm milk as you are able to drink. Consume this after exercise. This is different from the other prescriptions in that no digestive tonics are mixed with the milk and ghi (Alter).

Unsurprisingly fat man who eats almost nothing but fat and sugar.

My abject hatred of ghee aside, there appears to be a little method to this madness.  Ghee's rendered butter, which means it's almost entirely saturated fat.  As such, it's incredibly anabolic.  The pehlwans seem to like to add both high-glycemic carbs and protein to ghee post workout, making what would probably be the world's most disgusting but reasonably nutritious post-workout shake.  Perhaps a bit more reasonable are their post-workout milk drinking habits.  Depending on the wrestler, they consume milk either raw or boiled, and then alter it for fat content to suit their needs.  Based on their digestive abilities, wrestlers seem to either go high-carb/low fat, or moderate carb/stupidly high fat.  For the former, they add sugar or molasses to low fat milk, and in the latter they add fruit and yogurt to full-fat milk to make a high-fat milkshake called lassi (Alter).
There is no reason to include this pic other than its existence.

While they have a bit of nutritional logic on their side for the inclusion of ghee in their diets, the volume thereof is another matter entirely.  these motherfuckers drink liquid butter in amounts that make me ill thinking about it, and i just finished eating four pounds of beef ribs.  According (again) to Joseph Alter,
"Wrestlers tend to increase the volume of consumption in proportion to the number of exercises they do in their vyayam (p. 126 ) regimen. There is no simple equation for this but wrestlers who do 1,500 dands and 3,000 bethaks consume about half a liter of ghi and two liters of milk per day. Since the amount of milk, ghi, and almonds one can eat is a direct reflection of one's strength, wrestlers tend to eat increasingly larger quantities of these items. In many respects being able to eat and digest half a liter of ghi per day is regarded as a kind of exercise in its own right. One must work up to this volume gradually. It is said that Sadhiki Pahalwan, a great wrestler of the late nineteenth century, consumed a canister (five kilograms) of ghi per day."
FIVE FUCKING KILOGRAMS A DAY.  Let's do the math, kids.

5 Kg = 5000g
5000 g ghee = 4995 g fat
4995 g fat = 44955 kcal from fat

That is, of course, impossible for a human being to consume or digest, but even if it was a tenth of that, it'd be a hell of a lot of fat.  No matter what kind of silly-assed Herschell Walker workout nonsense you're doing, that's a ridiculous amount of fat, and an astonishing amount of calories for a single food source... a food source that is a fucking condiment.  Even the half a liter a day number is ridiculous, however- a half liter of ghee a day yields 499.5 calories of fat, which is 4495 calories from fat.  That's a preposterous amount of fat for a person to consume in a day.


Grind them almonds!

As I mentioned, the third member of the pantheon of food that comprises the pehlwan's dietary abomination is almonds, which they believe improve their stamina and speed.  Almonds are crazy expensive, however, so chickpeas are often consumed as a substitute.  The almonds get mashed into a paste and then added to milk or ghee, whereas the chickpeas are left to sprout in water, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon.  The water used in the sprouting process is then drunk to increase the pehwan's strength, apparently utilizing some metabolic pathway of which I am wholly unaware.  They appear to eat the fuck out of chickpeas, however, as they're the cheapest protein source available to the average Indian.


Beyond the aforementioned, pehlwans eat a variety of foods, ranging from in season fruits to green veggies to grains to meat.  All of those, however, are simply considered supplements to the aforementioned 4 foods.  There's actually more to the Indian dietary craziness, but it's too weird and too complex to go into right now- as a preview, it involves trying not to cum for as long as possible.  If you cannot figure out what that has to do with eating, we're in the same boat, but I'll make an attempt to explain it going forward.

Did You Know?

  • not all Indians are Hindu.  A mere 8 of 10 Indians are Hindu.  My failure to mention this makes me a bad person, apparently.  Although Indians invented Buddhism, no one in India appears to give a shit, since they're less than a percent of the population.  Muslims and Christians make up the majority of the remainder, and are not vegetarian.  Well, not as a general rule.  Some of them might be.  We can only hope they're not.
  • it is not nice to make fun of ascetics, no matter how much they beg you to with their existence.  
  • although I mentioned that certain regions of India eat meat, some of you missed that part.  Vegetarianism is widespread in India, especially in major population centers, but is not universal.
  • chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans, and might be magical.   To get 150g of protein from them, you need only eat 10 cups of them, or a bit over a kilo and a half of them (about 3.6 lbs)
  • although I mentioned it's difficult to cover all of India given it's wacky diversity, I am a bad person for failing to mention every specific subset of Indian culture, am extraordinarily mean, and might be a communist.  Oh, and I know nothing about India.


That's about the only way my diet's going to include much milk.

Sources:

Alter, Joseph.  The Wrestler's Body: Identity and Ideology in North India.  California Scholarship Online.  12 May 1992.

Jha, D.N.  Holy Cow:  Beef In Indian Dietary Traditions.  New Delhi: Matrix Books, 2001.
Mujumdar, DC (ed.).  Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture.  1950.

20 November 2012

Chaos And Bang Your Earballs: .44 Magnum Edition


In this wild and woolly installment of Chaos and Bang Your Earballs, I fly off the handle about National Diabeetus month, we discuss the broad who ran over her husband because he didn't vote, Eric Lillebridge's new squat record, the heyday of thrash metal, why Phil Collins sucks so badly, and, of course the ubiquitous .44 magnum round to the chest.

By the way, if you guys need supplements or training gear, Spud's blowing shit out the doors, and he's still got the now-banned "prohormones" and ephedra shit you want.  I got these emails today and thought I'd pass them along- shit's getting serious on those sales.


UPDATE:  After talking to the guys at Nutrition Warehouse, I thought you should know not all of their shit is posted online.  As such, if you want crazy fatburners or "prohormones" and don't see them online, call them. Dale said they're expecting a shitload of call ins and are prepared to handle them.  I'm using the fatburner Hellfire right now, and it's the tits.  Also, I picked up Cloma Pharma's crazy ass preworkout Methyldrene EPH there, which contains ephedra, DMAA, Yohimbine HCL, and a bunch of other illegal shit.  Call them if you want the good shit.  

... and, because omitting more Gracyanne Barbosa would be wrong, let's do it right.



18 November 2012

Squatting Like You're The CEO of the Paper Street Soap Company #3- The Chaos And Pain Guide To Brutal Squats

Gracyanne Barbosa.  Sweet jesus christ.

The conclusion to this series has been a long time in coming, but as a greatly expanded version of this series is included in Destroy The Opposition, I didn't think it prudent to post this while the book was still in its infancy.  Given that the majority of the books sold months ago, those of you who bought the book could likely use a refresher, and the rest of you can get the gist of the information contained in the conclusion of the series.

Before I jump into the meat and potatoes of my squatting strategies, I recently heard some interesting tidbits about the guys who set all of the records in the early 1970s and 1980 I thought prudent to pass along.  It seemed odd to me, with the improvements in sports nutrition, alleged improvements in training methods, and the advent of a variety of new pharmacological and ergogenic aids.   As such, I've started to pick the brains of guys who trained in the 70s and 80s to see what, if anything was the primary driver behind the insane success of the lifters in the 70s and the 80s.  You guys might want to run and grab some duct tape and slap that shit on your asses, because what I discovered is pretty much going to blow your butt cheeks directly off your fucking bodies.  For one, they were remarkably inventive in creating new ways to win.  I'm not talking about coming up with crazy training routines or wacky diets- I'm talking about straight up, good, old fashioned cheating.  Had they spent half the time they spent on coming up with ridiculous methods for artificially boosting their numbers in the gym lifting weights, their records would still be unbroken.

If you've not read DTO (buy it on the right!), you likely don't know that powerlifting is a remarkably new sport- it only came into official existence in the early 1970s.  It evolved out of odd lift competitions that had a three or four lift format, but those lifts could be any of 42 offical odd lifts.  During the 1950s and 1960s, these meets actually outstripped Olympic weightlifting in terms of popularity in the US, and typically consisted of the bench press, squat, deadlift and/or strict curl.  Eventually, these morphed into "powerlifting" meets, a name that became popular after it started being used in Muscular Development, which was apparently far more devoted to strength sport sin the past than it is now.  In any event, powerlifting was very much a catch-as-catch-can sort of affair until the mid to late 70s, from the rules to the equipment and even the order of the lifts.  At the outset, the meets used the order of bench-squat-deadlift/curl, and the order in which the attempts were taken was by weight.  As such, the strongest guys had to do some or all of their attempts in a given lift back to back.  Likewise, there was no real standard for equipment, so most of the racks and benches were actually made out of lumber until the 1970s, as the standard gym racks would just fucking collapse under the weights in competition.  Thus, when shit started getting standardized in the 1970s, people seemed confused by the simplicity of the meets and decided to fuck shit up.  Thus, you had guys wearing ultra-tight denim shorts under their singlets as makeshift briefs and using shitloads of ace bandages as knee wraps.  Lest you think that's the least of it, there was apparently some dispute on what constuted legal wrap length, so the British lifters wraps that were at least in one case, 18 feet long.  Shenanigans went even further than that, however, as lifters like former multiple record holder and alleged Mafia hitman Tony Fratto would wrap tennis balls behind his knees to give him more drive out of the hole.  That would explain why his wrapped record stood until the last couple of years, I think.
Tony Fratto.  If that isn't the most godawful looking squat I've ever seen, I've no idea what it, but he was probably hiding a gun in his pants.

Their desire to get their numbers higher at any cost is what led to the death of raw powerlifting, I think, during the 1980s and 1990s.  As I posted previously, Ricky Dale Crain Pretty much summed up the feelings of lifters of that period with this:
"RAW IS A PHENOMA OF THE PAST 5-10 YEARS....IT DID NOT EXIST BEFORE THAT.....
I AM NOT SURE WHAT HAS PROPAGATGED IT OTHER THNA GIVE SOME VERY AVERAGE OR BELOW AVERAGE LIFTERS A CHANCE TO WIN A TROPHY OR BREAK SOME RECORD THAT REALLY MEANS NOTHING.....
MOST LIFTERS THAT LIFTED IN THE 60'S AND 70'S WHO USED WHATEVER THEY COULD DREAM UP TO LIFT IN TO HELP THEIR NUMBERS AS WELL AS A SAFETY FACTOR......LIFTED WAY MORE THAN 99% OF TODAY'S SO CALLED RAW LIFTERS SO WHAT HAVE THEY ACCOMPLISHED??????
I SQUATTED 575 IN A SINGLET IN 1976 AT 147 POUNDS AT AGE 22....
I DARE SAY PROBABLY NO 148'ER TODAY COULD DO THAT......AND WITH IPF JUDGES LOOKING AT IT...BUT I WOULD BE FOOLISH INDEED NOT TO BELIEVE THAT IF I CONTINUED LIFTING IN THAT SINGLET FOR 35 PLUS YEARS I WOULD BE CRIPPLED FROM INJURIES BY THIS TIME..." (PL Watch)

Given what I've learned of late, the above seems pretty spot-on.  It would also explain why raw lifters generally suck- they're using training methods designed for geared lifters, which is an entirely different sport.  As I'm a fucking awesome raw squatter, I'll clue you fuckers in on how to get awesome at the squat so I can get a little competition at a meet sometime before I die.


My Method For Building a Badass Squat
First and foremost, I’m of the opinion that your one rep max on the squat represents the sum total of all of the training you’ve done over your life.  More so than any other lift, it is evidence of your unrelenting dedication to the development of physical strength and your continued efforts thereto.  Thus, there is no quick fix for the squat.  Certainly, tweaks to your form can help get your squat to change quickly, but those changes will be static without continued effort.  Thus, there are three factors that I believe play heavily into building a squat that Milo of Croton would respect: persistence, frequency, and intensity.

Persistence
Unless you are mentally retarded, you should have a pretty clear understanding of what persistence is.  Squatting is not something that comes easily to most, and it is grueling, taxing, and generally a bastard.  As such, you really have to tap into your inner masochist, wrap your brain in a latex gimp suit, and whip your own ass to get it into the gym from time to time.  This is not something to which elite lifters are immune, either— the more you train, the harder it’s going to be to fill yourself with the kind of ferocity you need for a successful workout.  Thus, you’re going to have to accept that some of your squat workouts are just going to be washes— you’re not going to be Billy bad-ass in every workout, and some of your lifts are going to downright suck.  It’s how the game goes.  Your duty, in this case, is to look past it, take it as it comes, and just attack the next one.  If that one sucks, attack the next one.  I have had mental slumps that have last months, and I’ve had nagging injuries that dogged me for over a year.  Around 2000, I attempted to do a one legged squat as a goof and lost my balance, pulling some muscles in my groin as I hopped around one-footed trying not to bust my ass.  A couple of hours later, I squatted heavy, and suffered felt like the ghost of Albert Fish was haunting me by jamming red hot, 12” needles up through my groin and into my lower back for about a year after that every time I squatted or deadlifted.  I continued performing those lifts, however, week in and week out, tweaking my form and my workouts as I went to minimize the discomfort as much as possible.  That’s what I’m referring to when I state that persistence is key.

  • If you’re not masochistically enjoying squatting for some reason, tinker with your rep ranges until you find one that’s tolerable.  I personally despise doing more than 5 reps on squat, and would rather simply not squat than do six reps.  Sam Byrd is the polar opposite.
  • If squatting hurts your knees, try squatting with a significantly wider stance to reduce the strain.
  • If your lower back hurts, try moving your stance in and working high bar Olympic style squats to minimize lower back loading.
  • If you’re bored with full rep squats in the same rep range, alter the rep scheme or the exercise itself— there are plenty of alternatives with which to tinker, like front squats, jump squats, box jumps, low box squats, high box squats, Zercher squats… The list goes on and on.  You’re only limited by your imagination here.
  • Though it might seem like I’m joking about mentally donning a gimp suit, I’m not.  Squatting is fucking brutal.  Accept it and move on— it’s not a reason to avoid squatting, but rather a reason to attack and conquer squatting.


Frequency and Intensity
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unless you’re Kirk Karwoski, you’re likely not going to possess an elite squat unless you hammer that lift more than once a week.  If you’ve chosen to make the deadlift your specialty, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to one squat day a week to increase the number of days you pull, but frankly you might be better served by adding some light squats on a pulling day than avoiding them.  Pavel Tsatsouline’s theory of “greasing the groove”, also known as the Hebbian Rule, has become rather famous of late, and refers to the phenomenon wherein successful performance of an action will create and strengthen the neural pathways associated with that action (Tsatsouline 17).  The key to harnessing the benefit of Hebbian Theory is the completion of the reps, however, as failed efforts don’t reinforce the neural pathway.  This is why I rarely max out in the gym- I’ll do singles with near-max weights, or triples with my 4 or 5 rep max, but I rarely train to failure.  The “intensity multiplier” techniques of bodybuilders are focused on one thing- failure.  In case you’re unaware, failure rarely leads to victory.  Thus, you train for victory to achieve it.

“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
– Bill Belichek, head coach of the New England Patriots

Beyond the “greasing the groove” of my sub-max poundages, there’s another biochemical reason you should avoid frequently training to failure- the utilization of intensity multipliers when working out increases one's levels of cortisol significantly, which reduces one's ability to recover for future workouts, protein synthesis, and one’s overall health.  Additionally, training to failure reduces production of IGF-1, which has a negative impact on your ability to grow and retain skeletal muscle reduces your strength and power (Izquierdo et al).  So, essentially, by training to failure, you're creating a metabolic shitshow from which you're not likely to recover prior to your next session.  This means you cannot train as much, which means you’re limiting your subsequent workouts for no reason.

This does not in any way mean you should not push yourself in your workouts, however.  This means you’re going to need to be cognizant of the speed of execution of your lifts and gauge your ability to continue utilizing that.  If a weight is flying up for triples in your first couple sets and it’s a grinder for a single after a few sets, it’s time to move on to something else.  That’s the beauty of high-frequency workouts- you can always make up for a shitty workout in the next.  If you’re limiting your squat workouts to once a week or once every ten days, you lose that ability, and every workout becomes do-or-die.  Fuck all that- I’d rather have the ability to cut a subsequent workout short because I went for broke earlier in the week and dominated than feel like there is an axe hanging over my head every time I enter the gym to do a single lift infrequently.  This does not necessarily mean, however, that you need to drag your ass into the gym twice a day and lift near-maximal weights until your eyes pop out and you shit blood. As much fun as that might sound, it's time to temper your enthusiasm with a modicum of sense- if you're fucking dead, your squat's not likely to increase much, is it? Thus, don't get stuck on stupid- approach this as you would a growling wild dog.  That wild dog might tear a new hole in your ass, or it might wander up and lick your fingers, depending on how you approach it.  Ju
st as you would that dog, move slowly, keep calm, and don’t do anything painfully stupid.
Probably best not to approach wild dogs.  Or if you live in Pittsburgh, maybe don't throw them into the African Wild Dog enclosure at the zoo.

If you’re wondering how frequently you should train the squat, there is unfortunately no easy answer to this question- strength training demigod Vladimir Zatsiorsky himself states at the beginning of his seminal work that "it is absolutely unclear which criteria one should use for selecting proper intervals between consecutive workouts" (Zatsiorsky 13).  As I've stated before, training capacity is a wildly shifting target, due to the massive number of individual factors, both biological and environmental, that play into its determination. For this reason, you're going to have to feel this one out like a blind man at an orgy. The most common frequency for squat training appears to be twice a week.  I personally vacillate between two and four squat sessions a week, as a general rule, and I vary the rep scheme and exercise at every session.  Thus, I rotate between full squats, weighted jump squats, front squats, partial back and front squats at a variety of ranges, and zercher squats at a variety of ranges of motion.

I made a poopie.

If You Don’t Know Squat,You Need These Routines
Running the Ladder
Like I stated in the deadlifting blogs, I did this program a great deal in my early years after picking it up from an Iron Man magazine and used it for both the squat and the deadlift.  I never used this routine more than once a week for either lift, though I did use it for both lifts in the same week.  For instance, I might use this set/rep scheme for the squat on Tuesday and the deadlift on Friday.  This was due more to the fact that at the time I’d not considered using a full-body routine, and my lifts suffered as I adhered to a bodypart routine.  I spread back and legs as far from one another as I could, however, to maximize recovery from one to another and ensure that my deadlift and squat didn’t adversely affect each other.  Yeah, I labored under the misapprehension that I had the recovery ability of a burn victim with cancer and AIDS for years as well.  Assuming a 405 max, this is what running the ladder would look like.
1 x 10 x 135
1 x 8 x 225
1 x 6 x 275
1 x 4 x 315
1 x 2 x 355
1 x 2 x 365-375
1 x 4 x 315
1 x 6 x 285
1 x 8 x 265
1 x 10 x 225

The key in this routine is to make sure that your second half of the ladder is noticeably heavier than the first half.  It’s great for breaking plateaus and ruts, and also for getting your comfortable with your form on the deadlift.

Might As Well Jump
This program grew out of a short writeup in Muscular Development magazine that stated that the use of an explosive movement prior to a grinding strength movement would lead to greater strength and hypertrophy gains.  I was never able to hunt down the article on which that was based, but I’ve used it pretty much continuously since I started competing two years ago to keep my IT bands loose (dropping into the hole of a very deep squat acts as an explosive stretch for me), and it seems to have kept my squat numbers on the rise.
Weighted Jump Squats (Assuming my current max jump squat of 500)
1 x 3 x 135, 225, 315, 405
6-10 x 2 x 455

Partial Back or Front Squat (I vary between just above bottom-position, half, and quarter squats)
Work up to 3RM
6-10 x 3 x 3RM (This is one of the few exercises on which I go to failure, and I extend my rest periods to allow me to keep getting 2-3 reps.  Hold each rep for 10 seconds at the top)


Squat Variants You Should Be Doing
It’s not enough to simply back squat, quite frankly, if you want to be an awesome squatter.  I don’t mean that you should head for the nearest hack squat machine and start slamming out some super sweet reps on that utterly fantastic machine (this is called sarcasm, in case you’re confused), but rather that there is more to the squat than meets the eye.  Thus, allow me to introduce you to a couple of the best friends a squatter could have:

The Jump Squat.  The jump squat is to the competition back squat what liquid Viagra is to porn stars— it enables you to perform at the highest levels without fear that you’re going to go limp in the middle of the competition and make a total ass of yourself.  The jump squat makes getting out of the hole (the bottom of the squat) a simple affair, because you’ve conditioned your body to literally explode out of that position.  The powerlifting back squat is a fundamentally slow affair, and could easily be conducted to the slower parts of a Wagnerian opera in a Viking helmet.  Slowly grinding through the squat sucks, though, and the very worst part is that second at the bottom wherein you pause for a moment to wonder “is it really possible to get the fuck out of here with my life?”  For this reason, I despise pause squats, because it makes sitting in the hole an even more protracted affair.  If you regularly include jump squats in your program and go heavy on them, that moment of indecision will be lost in a thoughtless explosion of muscular force the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since JFK first got Marilyn Monroe naked in the White House.  Additionally, a long term study in Russia in the 1980s showed that the utilization of different tempos in a training cycle produced far greater strength gains and hypertrophy than did a single tempo (Verkhoshanskii).  Thus, it makes sense to include these regularly in your workouts.

Suggested Set and Rep Scheme: I don’t recommend high reps for these due to the fact that your speed drops precipitously as your reps increase.  Thus, 4-10 x 1-5 would be best.

Form Tips:  Vary your stance on these.  You will have to keep the bar higher on your shoulders to prevent it from slipping, but you can still change your stance to alter the loading on your quadriceps and hips.


The Front Squat
No matter your sport, the front squat can have a profound positive effect on your lower body strength.  The front squat places the primary emphasis on the quads, so it’s a great companion exercise if you’re a low bar, wide stance squatter, as wide stance squatting focuses the bulk of the load on your hips.

Suggested Set and Rep Scheme: 4-10 x 1-5, once again.  There’s really no point in doing higher rep sets if you’re interested in improving your competition squat, as taming the beast that is fear and getting used to a heavy, uncomfortable weight driving you downward is key to mastering the squat.

Form Tips:  You have three options in terms of the way you grip the bar on the front squat.  No matter which you choose, however, the bar will essentially rest on your neck, as it’s your front delts that hold the bar in place.  As such, you can squat hands-free if you wish, because your hands are more or less redundant.  If you cannot take your hands off the bar without it slipping off your delts, the bar is in the wrong position.  As for where to put your hands, you can either hold the bar in an Olympic-style clean catch position, cross your arms like a bodybuilder and hold the bar in place with your thumb and forefinger, or you can hook your straps around the bar and hold onto those.  If you choose the form I do (bodybuilder style) I would recommend against hooking your thumb all the way around the bar, as it generally hurt and can pinch nerves and reduce circulation to your thumbs.  Regardless, vary your stance as in the jump squat.

The Partial Squat (for advanced lifters only)
The partial squat is one of my favorite movements, although I wouldn’t really recommend it for neophytes, as they really need to get the basics down before messing with the formula too much.  Thus, if you’ve not lifted for at least three years, stick to the back squat, the front squat, and the jump squat.  Tony Fratto was a really big fan of doing these as I do them- from the pins a couple of inches above parallel.  He managed a set of three with 750 at a bodyweight of 198 when he wasn't whacking people out for the Mafia, so you should probably throw some fucking weight on that bar and get after it if you're not some pasty-faced noob (Seno).  If you are a noob, just stick to the basics until you're strong enough to wear your big boy underpants and move decent weight in the gym.

Suggested Set and Rep Scheme: 6-10 x 1-3, with the inclusion of the occasional death set.  This movement is really about moving heavy-ass weight, not getting in a ton of work.  Frankly, this is something you can do a lot of if you’re not doing bottom-position squats every time.

Form Tips:  My favorite method for performing these is at or just above the bottom position of your squat.  It’s godawful the first time you try it, but if you work it hard, it is the easiest way to get your squat up quickly- the more weight you can move from a dead stop at the bottom of your squat, the more weight you can squat in general.  I use this as an indicator of what my competition squat is going to be- if I can bottom position squat 600, for instance, I am 100% certain I am good for 635, and have a pretty good shot at 660.  On the other end of the spectrum you have lockouts and top half squats, which are useful for feeling out weight and strengthening your abs and lower back.  If you’re doing the former, there’s no real reason to hold the weight at the top of the movement, but if you’re doing the latter, a 5 to 10 second hold makes the most of the movement.  At the end of an ultra-heavy festival of half squats, you will literally feel like a human bulldozer- not terribly agile, but fucking unstoppable.


Basic Tips on the Squat Itself
This will probably be a fairly unpopular opinion, but I believe there’s not that much to the squat, other than training it.  Clearly, I’ve done a lot of tweaking with my form over the years to arrive at what works for me, but the sum total of my knowledge there will help exactly one person on Earth squat better- me.  With that in mind, here are a couple of things that I believe are pretty much universal.
  • Show me your tits.  When I show chicks in particular how to squat, I tell them to show me how a slut stands.  They always stick their tits and ass way out, which is basically the position in which you should be in when you squat.  A less interesting way to say it would be “chest full, head up, ass back” which is what you should be repeating to yourself every time you get into the squat rack.  Eyes looking straight ahead at the top of your head if you’re looking in the mirror, chest as full as you can back it, and reaching your ass as far back as you possibly can as you descend.  One fascinating trend on the internet currently is a preoccupation with “butt wink”.  For those of you living in blissful ignorance, “butt wink” occurs when you tuck your ass at the bottom of a squat.  If you do it, you’re squatting incorrectly.  When you squat, you should be reaching your ass back like you’re trying to find a chair you know is somewhere behind you in a dark room.  Rather than bust your ass on the ground, you force it behind you like it’s a spear you’re using to fend off a particularly ugly stalker at a really cool bar.  You know, the kind of bar that allows you to bring in a spear.  If you’re reaching your ass that far back, tucking it is a physical impossibility.
  • Do not deload to the bar, EVER.  Even the weakest asshole on Earth can squat more than 45 lbs, and using nothing but the bar does not give you an accurate picture of what your squat looks like.  In order to determine how to squat, you’ll need to have some weight on the bar to ensure your leverages are correct.  
  • If your squat is stuck, have someone look at it from the front or back, rather than the side.  Nearly every time I’ve seen someone with a squat that is truly stuck, it’s the result of one thing- their weight is improperly distributed between their legs.  You can see this from the front because their ass will gravitate toward one side or the other.  There’s a very simple way to fix this- make a conscious effort to force your ass to the other side as you squat.  It will feel incredibly unnatural at first, but if you feel like you’re forcing your ass so far to the other side that you’re in danger of falling over like a drunk chick at the aforementioned spear bar, your ass is probably dead center.  Keep working that for a couple of weeks and then have someone recheck it.  Within a month, your squat will be up and you won’t have to worry about your weight distribution again.  This is usually a problem with new trainees and people who’ve had a lower back or lower body injury.
  • Fear makes you strong.  If you’re not afraid of a weight you’re using for your top weight sets, you’re definitely not going heavy enough.  You should be so piss-scared of the weight you use for doubles that you consider skipping the gym altogether.  If you’re not, you’re definitely stronger than you think, and need to raise the weight.  We’re talking Manchurian peasant fear of the Japanese Army circa 1940 kind of fright- this is not a mild discomfort sort of fear, but a fill-your-pants-with-liquid-shit-because-100,000-armed-Mongols-are-bearing-down-on-you sort of fear.  Master it and you’ll master the squat.  Succumb to it and your squat will forever suck.

In my opinion, the squat gives you the exact measure of a man or woman.  If you’re a great squatter, you’re damn near fearless and possibly indestructible.  If you’re a shit squatter, you have no work ethic and you’re likely to piss yourself at the sight of a dwarf clown holding a bouquet of posies.   No matter whether or not you choose to become a squat specialist, you need to make the squat a cornerstone of your workout.  Failure to do so will invariably lead to mockery from friends and family and dismal showings at meets, and will prevent you from becoming as awesome as you know you can be.

Sources:
Izquierdo M, Ibañez J, González-Badillo JJ, Häkkinen K, Ratamess NA, Kraemer WJ, French DN, Eslava J, Altadill A, Asiain X, Gorostiaga EM. Differential effects of strength training leading to failure versus not to failure on hormonal responses, strength, and muscle power gains. J Appl Physiol (2006)100: 1647-1656.
Leistner, Ken.  History of Powerlifting, Weightlifting and Strength Training - Part Twelve.  Titan.  Web.  18 Nov 2012.  http://www.titanstrengthandpower.com/history_of_powerlifting_part_12.html
Seno, Bill.  Pushing for Power Part Three.  THE TIGHT TAN SLACKS OF DEZSO BAN.  Nov 2008.  Web.  18 Nov 2012.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2008/11/pushing-for-power-part-three-bill-seno.html
Tsatsouline, Pavel. Power To The People. St. Paul: Advanced Training Solutions, 1999.
Zatsiorsky, Vladimir and William J. Kraemer. Science and Practice of Strength Training. 2nd ed. Champaign: Human Kinetics, 1995.
Verkhoshanskii IuV, Biru AA. Patterns in the long-term body adaptation of the athlete to
physical loads. Fiziol Cheloveka. 1987 Sep-Oct; 13(5):811-8. Print.

13 November 2012

Chaos And Bang Your Earballs- Fuck The Incline Press

I desperately need an off-the-shoulder pastel sweatshirt.

Paul loves inclines, the Barbarian Brothers loved inclines, and they can all get fucked.  We discuss that and sundry other (almost exclusively training-related) topics in this relatively short iteration of Chaos and Bang.




By the way, happy Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Day!  I'll be online tonight if anyone wants to play- my Xbox Live name is xbrutalizerx, so add me if you want and you can watch me run around with a Striker and generally act like an asshole in the new Nuketown map.
I desperately need one of those shirts.


07 November 2012

It's Time To Stop Mocking Indians For Their Clubbells #3: Yoga, The Indian Way, Is Actually Fucking Badass



As I mentioned before, weightlifting was the preeminent sport in India from about the 15th Century through the 17th Century, and was a sport in which many people around the country participated far earlier than that.  The reason for this, as I also mentioned, is that there exists in India no Cartesian duality, that is to say a separate mind-body relationship, in the minds of Indians, who rather believe that the one is a reflection of the other.  Thus, they lifted weights because they literally thought they'd die if they didn't.

"Activity is life, while stagnation is death.  Exercise brings healthful activity to every organ, gland, and cell of the body; it makes the entire body actively and radiantly alive with a feeling, energy, and well being that make one so buoyant and alert that you feel like running and jumping.
Exercise is the best insurance against disease or sickness.  It builds a fund of resistance of healthy blood-corpuscles, which can attack and overcome any disease germs which come in contact with the body.
Lastly, exercise builds confidence; for there is no road to supreme confidence as sure as the knowledge of one's physical and mental ability.  It cultivates power of will and determination; it gives you complete mastery over your physical and mental self; it promotes personal efficiency and all desirable mental characteristics" (Mujumdar xvii)

For the religious amongst you, this should speak fairly strongly to you, for it makes far more sense than most of the bullshit you hear out of "spiritual" people:  "You were meant to have a fine looking strong and super healthy body.  God cannot be pleased with the ugly, unhealthy, weak and flabby bodies.  It is a sacrilege not to possess a fine, shapely, healthy body.  It is a crime against oneself and against our country to be weak and ailing"(Ibid).


Though I am rarely so eloquent, that seems to echo my sentiments pretty much exactly, and should resonate with the lot of you as well.  This is the type of shit Indians thought before the Brits clipped off their balls and sent them back to join the rest of the crown jewels- they were badasses because they thought they would drop dead on the fucking spot the second they gave up in the effort to become hard as titanium nails, and then they would burn in hell thereafter for pissing off their gods with their suckitude.  The crazy thing here is that you'd never expect that sort of attitude out of the Indians these days- certainly, you could see a mustachioed, Rasputin-looking Russian Orthodox priest screaming fire and brimstone at Dmitri Klokov on Sundays, insisting that if he failed to snatch a world record the following week that Jesus would suck out his soul and shit it into the worst hell imaginable, but you can hardly imagine a potbellied Indian defending physical culture with the same vigor.  They did, however, and with a vengeance for the better part of a millennium, becoming a nation of legendary wrestlers that were often emulated but never duplicated, like the Bulgarian weightlifting teams of the 1980s and 1990s.  That, my friends, is how hard motherfuckers are made, and that's how Indians rose to prominence as the fittest, strongest people on Earth before Western technology fucked India harder than a six year old male swimsuit model at a NAMBLA convention.


Indian exercise methods can be broken down into two distinct types:

  • Gymnastics
  • Weightlifting




Gymnastics:  Though Cracked recently blew the butt cheeks off of the concept of yoga as an ancient form of exercise, they weren't really 100% accurate.  According to Cracked, "Yoga as we know it today -- a set of postures (asanas) combined with breathing techniques -- dates back to around the grand old year of 1960"(Coville).  Hatha yoga has never, in India, been considered to be exercise.  Instead, that shit was used by yogis who basically tried to remain still as they starved to death.  Hatha yoga dates to the 15th Century and was apparently invented so monks could stand around and just breathe, and was later introduced to the West as a codified series of movements taught by people wearing pastel and speaking with a ridiculous, super-chill affectation in their voice in the mid-1900s. Western yoga is basically a combination of the standing around done by the ancient monks and their breathing exercises with a couple of traditional strength movements added in for fun, which is why people think it's "exercise" I suppose.  The strength movements that form the basis of yoga have existed for about a thousand years thousands of years and are considered to be both gymnastics (mallakhamb) and bodybuilding exercises.  Most of the movements you see in a yoga class at your gym arise out of basic mallakhamb asanas (postures).  Mallakhamb was used by wrestlers and the average people since about the 1100s as a means by which to develop and maintain physical strength without equipment.  Over time, the movements expanded in scope and it flourished, then fell from national prominence with as foreign powers took hold of India.  There are two distinct types of mallakhamb in its current form, and neither of which is performed on the ground like modern yoga.  What you think of as yoga, by the way, is about as much like traditional Indian gymnastics as the broad from Shrek is like Texas Alexis- nothing whatsofuckingever.  The postures you assume in yoga are essentially the first baby steps toward doing real mallakhamb asanas, which are postures for which you have to be equal parts high-wire artist, balance beam expert, and loincloth-clad pole dancer.  Oh, that's right motherfuckers- they do all that shit on top of a nine foot tall freestanding pole or hanging from a fucking rope .




As you can see from the video above, yogic movements as they were performed in India in the past is nothing whatsoever like the stupid bullshit your girlfriend does on Saturday mornings.  Instead, yoga as the Indians used to do it was often performed atop a "pillar" which was more or less a vertical miniature telephone pole, or a gigantic club bell, based on your perspective.  That's right, motherfuckers- according to the Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture, which predates the yoga movement in the West, "Yogik Body-Postures have been treated as health-giving exercises from ancient times in India.  Breath-control (Pranayama) is the key to these exercises.  These exercises should first be practiced and steadied out on the ground.  When the performer has gained thorough control over these, he should try them on the top of the Pillar, with the help of an instructor.  To practice these on top of the Pillar really requires remarkable skill and courage.  The feats are greatly appreciated by the spectators"(Mujumdar 359-360).  If you're not thinking "of course they fucking were", consider this- there were people exerting just the right amount of force with their bodies to stay upright on an unsupported pole while swinging around like drunken monkeys and managing to not smash their face to fucking pieces all of the ground.  Anyone who could see that and not appreciate it is either retarded or... really retarded.  there's just no way you could not be impressed with that.



Quite frankly, it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows much about India to find that Indians traditionally did their "yoga" atop a nine foot high pole while onlookers screamed like they were in the front row of a Metallica concert circa 1987- these motherfuckers have not one, but two individual traditional sports in which they fought horny elephants.  Satha-Mari is a "manly sport in which foot-men irritate the intoxicated elephant.  In this sport they try to save themselves by tricky moves from the excited elephant"(Mujumdar 296)  The other "manly sport involving a horny elephant is Dag-Daree, in which dudes on horseback "try to irritate an intoxicated elephant and save themselves and their horse from the attack of the elephant"(Ibid).   Let me repeat that- they fuck with an animal weighing between 4,000 and 11,000 lbs. by yanking on his tail repeatedly, while the animal is in heat, for sport.  Try that with a golden retriever and see what happens- I cannot imagine the reaction from a Godzilla-sized stomping machine with massive tusks.  If you think that sport is an anomaly in India, you can throw that on top of a pile of other "manly sports" like Vajra-Mushtee wrestling, which is mma with one hand clad in a weapon made of bone that looks suspiciously like brass knuckles; the Thai-style kickboxing  in Benares I mentioned previously in which spectators routinely kill each other in hand to hand combat; Lathee fighting, which is basically unprotected stick fighting using a leather-wrapped billy club; Ban fighting, which is the most preposterous sport in this list- it's a massive bottle rocket battle between 100 people wrapped in wet canvas so they don't CATCH ON FIRE; and a whole shitload of armed combat sports with swords and garrotes.  Shit was officially off the chain in India before the arrival of the British, so feel free to pee on a Brit if you see one.  In any event, it should not surprise you that Indians think yoga's just as fucking stupid as the rest of us do in terms of exercising.  

Getting to modern yoga, however, the most prominent of those exercises arose out of some of the oldest movements in traditional Indian exercise- the surya namaskar, or what your hippie friends refer to as the "sun salutation" during their yearly one-week detox from weed.

"Of all the exercises, Indian and foreign, intended to impart health, strength, and longevity, the Surya Namaskar Exercise is the first and foremost.  The principal organs which keep the body fit are the brain, the spinal cord, the stomach, the heart, the lungs and the respiratory organs,  All these organs and others as well are fully developed and strengthened by Surya Namaskars.  If the Surya Namaskar Exercise is scientifically done daily and regularly with proper diet and rest by men and women, old and young, there will be no danger of any disease attacking them.  They will enjoy superb health and strength throughout the span of their life.  The Surya Namaskar Exercise also makes a body beautiful and with Dands and Baithaks added to it makes it graceful" (Mujumdar xxiii).
The face of patriotism?

The movement was actually invented with Indian cultural and national integrity in mind, as it combines traditional Indian gymnastics movements with meditation and stretching to basically make what the Indians considered the Superman of exercises.  Though it seems like a fucking weird concept to modern Westerners, who believe our mind controls our bodies, the Indian lack of dichotomy between the mind and body led them to this conclusion: "In the beautiful and harmonized movements of surya namaskar, [the guy credited with popularizing the movement] clearly saw the harmonized body of a united Indian polity that would turn, collectively, away from the gross sensations of modern life—sex, drugs, power, pride, prosperity— and toward the pure experience of self-realization"(Alter 9-10).  Thus, this hybrid movement, however maligned and embarrassing when viewed with modern eyes, was pretty much considered to be an exercise capable of resurrecting Indian pride when it was invented.  It consists of ten individual movements, a couple of which are stages of the wacky Indian pushup known as dands.  Frankly, I think they should have stuck with anything involving the pillar, as the pillar is the height of baddassitude.  In any event, they went with the sun salutation, which goes a long way to explain why India's sucked at lifting ever since.

Even Indian saints are jacked- Samartha Ramdas is a saint in India and used to bust out 1200 surya namaskars perday, as did his disciples, one of whom got so jacked he subjugated the entire nation and founded the Maharatha Empire.

Though it appears at first glance to be exactly the sort of silly bullshit you'd see in yoga, the surya namaskar is actually considered a mass bodybuilding exercise- in other words it's intended to be performed in a large group with the express purpose of building muscle, such as in the military during calisthenics or kids in gym class, etc (Mujumdar 453).  A national diet of namaskaras was actually prescribed to strengthen the Indian populace, with the daily regimen set at 25-50 namaskaras for kids aged 8-12, 50 to 100 per day for kids 12-16, 100-300 for people 16 and up.  A cursory internet search showed that the maximum number recommended by yoga instructors in the US was 12, which really brings home exactly how far from actual Indian exercise "yoga" actually is.  If they weren't so hot in those black pants, I'd say any time is a good time to punch a yoga instructor in the face for besmirching a culture of elephant-taunting bottle-rocket battling MMA fighters.




Up next, I'm going to cover the weightlifting portion, then touch on the Indian hygenic ideals, diet, and whatever else I can wedge into this series.  If you haven't caught on yet, an Indian from the 15th Century would have torn your face off and fed it to you while chanting a hymn to Hanuman, just because he didn't like the color of your shirt.   These people are to be studied in depth, or we may well meet the same, sad, potbellied fate of modern India.



India still has its redeeming qualities.  Too bad their food still sucks.



Sources:
Alter, Joseph.  The Discipline of the Wrestler's Body.  The Wrestler's Body: Identity and Ideology in North India.  12 May 1992.  California Scholarship Online.

Coville, C.  7 'Ancient' Forms of Mysticism That Are Recent Inventions.  Cracked.com.  6 July 2011.  Web.  6 Nov 2012. http://www.cracked.com/article_19283_7-ancient-forms-mysticism-that-are-recent-inventions.html

Malinowski, Erik.  Wince-Inducing Wonder of Mallakhamb, India’s Extreme Gymnastics.  Wired.  20 Aug 2010.  Web.  7 Nov 2012.  http://www.wired.com/playbook/2010/08/mallakhamb-extreme-gymnastics/

Mujumdar, DC (ed.).  Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture.  1950.

Vijayakar, Pradeep.  Mallakhamb going places but not in India.  Times of India.  23 Sep 2004.  Web.  7 Nov 2012.  http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2004-09-23/mumbai/27168669_1_mallakhamb-jutta-schneider-yoga-forum