Warhammer art gets me fucking pumped.
In the last couple of months I've had to drag myself from the depths of mucus-filled-lung hell and back into the land of elite lifting, pretty much by sheer force of will. Doing so, however, required me to abandon most of my chaos in favor of a hell of a lot of pain, and not the fun kind, either. Nope- no whips, chains, kicks to the balls or pegging- just a hell of a lot of weird upper back cramping that basically turned my back into a dehydrated broad off the pill in the middle of the desert on her worst period ever. The last two months in the gym have sucked harder than a vacuum cleaner caught on Hugh Hefner's shag carpet, and I've basically had to force myself through interminable, boring workouts consisting of scant few exercises while trying desperately to watch and not watch the clock at the same time.
What my workouts should look like.
If you don't know what I mean by that, allow me to explain- I don't have a prescribed number of sets and reps, but rather do a major exercise for twenty or thirty minutes move to another, repeat, do a bit of accessory work, and then bail. My internal clock pretty much knows when that is, but I usually have to check myself because I get too excited about a certain thing and do it for far longer than I should. The last couple of months, however, I've been checking the clock like I'm the President of the USADA going through Lance Armstrong's dirty underwear drawer. Not because I'm having too much fun and overdoing it, but because I've just wanted the workouts to be more over than the cast of the Hills' careers. That has sucked. After giving it some thought, I realized that I've been focused only on the powerlifts and their accessories, and have thus lost most of the chaos I champion. Losing the crux of one's existence is pretty fucking eye-opening when you realize it's happened.
Yeah, efficiency rules.
One of the main reasons my style of training developed the way it has is my hatred for scheduling. I despise the fact that everything in our lives is subject to review by some imaginary board of Weights and Measures, that we must do things a certain way over and over at the same time, daily, and that we blindly accept the way of life as if it's natural. It's not. Despite what most people insist is their religion or spiritual belief system of choice, the Western World has really adopted the God of Efficiency as their lord and savior, crawling at his feet with offerings of blood, sweat, and tears, begging for a pittance of a few more minutes so they can work a 10 hour day at a job they hate to sit on their couch and watch Real Housewives as they wait to die.
Efficiency is what you call a tiny, shithole apartment that consists of one room.
Efficiency is a bunch of people dressed in identical clothing that might as well be prison garb, doing identical tasks at the same time, constantly watching the clock to be directed to their next task..
Efficiency is a bunch of "powerlifters" whining on the internet about their sub-400 lb deadlifts because it's "inefficient" to train more.
Efficiency is a "man" driving a pink Toyota Prius to work because he thinks the extra 20 minutes of driving he has to do at 60mph is less valuable than the time he's wasted in his commute.
Fuck that noise. I'm not in the business of getting the most of the least- I'm in the business of getting the most. I don't mind spitting in the face of the laws of diminishing returns if it means I can get or do something awesome, because I'd much rather be fucking awesome than simply better than most. I realize this is anachronistic thinking, but fuck it- I love being an anarchonism. I love to fight and drink and fuck and scream unintelligible gibberish at random passersby and read actual fucking books, rather than wearing pastel and drinking expensive bottled water (because you never know what you'll get out of the tap *gasp*) while nibbling on soy-based "food" and watching television on feminine furniture paid for on credit so I can a have a tasteful view of my matching flowered drapes. I'll be off making offensive statements and doing cool shit while the "efficient" people wait to die, just as the people of yore did. This is why I have to look back, for the most part, and not at the present for inspiration, and why I invoke the deeds of so many old-timey lifters. They gave two shits about efficiency. They climbed tall mountains because fuck mountains. They'd whack back a shitload of opium and racewalk from Paris to India just because. They lifted heavy weights because it was fucking fun, and they'd do crazy shit because it amused them, like lifting a grown man overhead with one hand and running up and down a flight of stairs a few times while holding a beer in the other. They needed no more of a goal for doing impressive physical feats other than the fact that they thought it was cool, and because other people said they couldn't or shouldn't. That shit is fun, and it's why I'd be much more at home with a pack of 14th Century Mongols than the assholes populating any Ikea on the planet.
One ugly motherfucker.
In the spirit of looking to the past for inspiration in the present, behold this ugly motherfucker- in the 5th Century BC, the dude pictured a guy popped onto the Greek philosophy scene and started wrecking fucking shop, in addition to giving the best shocker any chick's ever had during cunnilingus with his creepily long fingers. He formulated a number of heady theories that made those of his contemporaries obsolete, including the idea that the Earth is a sphere, the concept that air is a substance rather than a lack thereof, a primitive concept of the theory of evolution, that light travels at a speed, and that centrifugal force exists. In other words, the people of the Middle Ages would have burned him at the stake as a witch rather than hail him as the genius savior of science that he was. This man was named Empedocles, and he thought he was the shit, so much so that he likely referred to himself in the third person and would have worn sunglasses indoors if they'd existed at the time. Once he'd gotten sufficiently big for his britches, Empedocles decided it was time to set things straight, and offered the following poem as a proto-battle rap intro:
"Friends who inhabit the mighty town by tawny Acragas
which crowns the citadel, caring for good deeds,
greetings; I, an immortal God, no longer mortal,
wander among you, honoured by all,
adorned with holy diadems and blooming garlands.
To whatever illustrious towns I go,
I am praised by men and women, and accompanied
by thousands, who thirst for deliverance,
some ask for prophecies, and some entreat,
for remedies against all kinds of disease"(Wikipedia)
Empedocles probably would have looked this cool if he'd made it out of the volcano.
This 5th C BC Greek P. Diddy actually believed this shit, and decided to prove it. With much fanfare, Empedocles announced that he was going to jump into a volcano and pop out unscathed, as he was the Grecian answer to the Terminator- he couldn't be bargained with or reasoned with, he didn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and he absolutely would not stop, ever. That is, of course, until he stepped into a fiery volcano and burnt up like Richard Prior trying to freebase.
If you're not getting where I'm going with this, I'm of the opinion that it's time to start jumping into volcanoes again and quit being a bitch in the gym. As such, I'm declaring a weekly Empedocles Day. On that day, I intend to do something fucking ridiculous in the gym just because, common sense be damned. I'm not going to do it on the same day if I can help it, and I'll never do the same thing twice- I'm just going to pick a direction once a week and go nuts, in the vein of Tom Platz's wacky ass workouts, Benny Podda's trumping of those crazy workouts, Steve Michalik's Intensity or Insanity workouts, Kolkaev's ridiculous Youtube videos, and Arthur Saxon and Maxick's daily reminders from 100 years ago that we're all half the men they were on their worst day and our best. Some weeks I might jump in with a bench bro for a massive dose of humble pie in a two hour bench press extravaganza, and another week I might just try Tom Platz's 10 minutes of hell with 225 squat set. This week, I decided to start easy. I did pullups for 25 sets of 2 reps with 90 lbs in 45 minutes, wedging 6 sets of overhead presses to max with 135. Thereafter, I did 15 minutes of standing crunches. By the end of the workout, my shoulders were so pumped they felt like they were tearing, my back felt like I'd been stabbed, and the following day it felt like my biceps were going to pop off and go running into the forest to play with squirrels and other tiny, fluffy forest wildlife, but I had my mojo back. No more clock watching- I just went fucking nuts on pullups until I was doing rest pause reps and struggling on the singles.
When I was younger, I spent a lot of time reading the routines of the maniacs who trained in the 1970s and 1980s. That sort of set the stage for how I'd train later in life- the wacky workouts about which I'd read put ideas in my head for what was possible, and what I might try. Reading about Tom Platz's leg training, for instance, got me thinking about trying higher reps on squats. Thus, I managed to hit 97 reps with 135 on the squat years ago when I weighed about 155, and I did sets of 20 twice a week with 315 at around 170. Platz occassionally did 50 reps with 350 on the squat at a bodyweight of about 200 lbs, just as a gut check. After hearing about that, Benna Podda started doing 5 sets of 50 with that weight. Guys back then had innumerable random challenges against their lifting partners, and these challenges pushed them further in their training than any incremental progression program might have.
We haven't had a President this cool since Teddy Roosevelt, and never will again.
If you're thinking this sort of a thing is stupid, you probably drink soy milk, listen to Mumford and Sons, and think that Obama is a better role model than Vladimir Putin. As such, you should probably just turn off your computer and look for something with which to kill yourself. Forget the incremental progression that's been drummed into your heads, the belief that you should live and die by percentages in training, the belief that any one way is the way, and you'll find yourself doing shit in the gym you never dreamed possible. If there's any one thing holding back the majority of the lifters I see in the gym and on the platform, it's fear- they fear the unknown, and they don't trust in their own abilities. The only way to overcome that fear is to push yourself further and harder than you ever dreamed possible- tiny improvements and little victories in low volume environments won't do that. I do this less and less in my training as I get older, not because I am afraid of injury or somesuch nonsense, but because at this point I know I can jump into the volcano and walk out unscathed. What I've realized is that this means I should do it more, rather than less.
No guts, no glory!
It's worked for plenty of the people in the past, and if nothing else, it will ratchet up the insanity of my training back to the levels that got me a world record total. It cannot possibly hurt your training, because if the training logs on the internet are any indication, nothing could. There's a fine line between genius and insanity, and I intend to cross it at every possible opportunity, because fuck lines.
Now slap on your favorite pair of panties- John Defendis says it's time to get jacked or die trying.
Empedocles. Wikipedia. Web. 2 Mar 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empedocles
Tom Platz Leg Workout – The Man Who Became Famous For His Remarkable Leg Development. Simply Shredded. 3 Mar 2009. Web. 2 Mar 2013. http://www.simplyshredded.com/tom-platz-bodybuilding.html