24 July 2009

You ARE a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake

We've all seen Fight Club, right? RIGHT?!?! If you haven't, go fuck yourself twice. If you haven't seen it, but you've at least read the book, only fuck yourself once. In any event, Brad Pitt has a fairly memorable scene in the movie wherein he yells the following through a megaphone:

"Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else."

Well, I take issue with this statement as it pertains to the design of a workout program. Why? Well, due to the fact that there's a phenomenon called Biochemical Individuality to which few enough pay attention that it's astonishing.

What is Biochemical Individuality? It's the idea that every individual organism has a distinctive genetic background that creates in that organism distinct biological makeup and nutritional needs.

In stark contrast to this theory, modern science has propagated the idea that humans are nothing more than organic machines produced on a genetic assembly line. The concept of egalitarianism has compounded the message sent by science, vociferously insisting that everyone is exactly alike, has identical genetic potential, is of equal worth, and sundry other specious and patently ridiculous claims. The idea that you are exactly like your neighbor, save for a few purely cosmetic differences, is fucking offensive in its retardation. You ARE a unique snowflake (but who the fuck wants to be beautiful?), and I'll tell you why, my fuckers.

The Basics

Every individual is made up of a coordinated set of organs and tissues, each distinctive (quantitatively) in size, composition, and enzymatic makeup, There are a fairly large pack of factors contributing to this fact, which include:
  • genetics, birth trauma, and vaccinations
A note to pregnant chicks- Crack is bad.
  • diet (skewed, toxic, or high carb)
  • drug therapy (alters gut function and nutrition status, and changes immune response
  • level of exercise
  • water quality and quantity
  • environmental exposure (xenoestrogens and pesticides, many of which are directly related to water quality)
  • infections

Clearly, I've given some extreme examples here, but they illustrate my point- do you think Frank McGrath and that Indian thing have the same metabolisms or nutritional requirements? How about that fucking meth-head? i highly doubt that the rack and ruin she's visited on her body leave her, metabolically, in the same place as even the octopus. And fuck me running, what's the deal with that octopus?

Even in healthy people, basal metabolism in 2-4 year old children (kids who haven't had a lot of time for anyone to destroy their physiques through bad diet, drugs, and the like) varies from 45-65 calories/square meter of body surface/hour. Additionally, their growth patterns vay widely, as do temperature control patterns, sensitivity to pain, blood pressure and flow, and even the effects of electricity on their bodies.

These all seem like very obvious variations, and ones that you can pretty much see in a person. Obviously, our new Surgeon General doesn't have a metabolism that operates with the same level of efficiency as my own.
Think she's gonna add a Hostess group to the food pyramid?

By now, at least on the surface, it should be readily apparent that all people are not, in fact, created equal. the crack baby down the street is no more your equal than one of the vegetables in Special Ed was during high school. they have different requirements for training in nutrition than you do, just as your lifting partner probably does. In the next installment, I will address the biochemical individuality in the body's various systems, and drive home the final nail in the coffin for guys like the author of the Adonis Diet on getbig, who seem to think that everyone needs exactly the same nutrition, and that we can all diet on peanut butter sandwiches and get to 5% bodyfat. Yes, I know, he must be one of those Special Ed kids.

Now playing:
American Me - Son of a Machine Gun
via FoxyTunes

22 July 2009

*Chasing the Pump

So pumped!

Whenever I write a program for someone, I invariably have to deal with one of two issues- that they don't "feel the pump" or that they "don't feel like they're doing anything", which is another way of saying the same thing. As irksome as I find these statements, I'll explain what's up with the pump.

First, I'll address the lack of pump in heavy weight training. Yes, yes, I know, Arnold said that it rules, and Arnold is god, so anything he says is gospel. If Arnold said that one must chase the pump, then I suppose one should. Now that we've got that out of the way, take the time to gaze upon a 16 year old Arnold.

Arnold was a fucking freak. He could have done nothing but squat thrusts and Charles Atlas's chest expander and looked better than 99% of the douches you see in any commercial gym. If Arnold drank a glass of his own piss every morning, because it's sterile and he likes the taste, I'm sure everyone on the boards on Bodyspace would be debating the merits of chilling it versus drinking it warm. Be that as it may, it'd be just about as fucking useful as chasing the pump in the gym.

What?!? How could I state such blasphemy? How could I make such a bold-faced claim? Well, let's think about it.
  1. How is it that bodybuilders achieve a pump before they go onstage? They do very, very light weight for sets of more than 20, in an effort to flush their muscles with blood and bring out their vascularity. That's the fastest and easiest way to get a pump. In spite of this, do you see those same oily, homoerotic fuckers doing that silly horseshit in the gym?
  2. Ever ridden the stationary bike? I don't know about you, but my legs get pumped all to hell and gone. that is not, however, a good indicator of hypertrophy in my mind, as most distance cyclists see to have tiny legs in comparison to mine, in addition to the facet that they'd collapse like a matchstick house under my warmup weights on the squat.
Now, I'm not saying that you should studiously avoid the pump, and leave the gym immediately after you start feeling the slightest hint of a pump. hell no. Pumps are fun as hell from time to time, as you get all vascular and scare the shit out of small children and women, much like Stewie in the episode Stew-Roids. They have their place, but are generally unconducive to ChAoS and PAIN.

"You look like Lou Ferrigno's poop."

Seem contradictory? I'll explain. While fun to get, and certainly the bulk of what's happening on the light days in C&P, they will impede your ability to lift heavy in most exercises, as they reduce range of motion on certain lifts, and make the rest fairly uncomfortable when you go really heavy. Don't believe me? Get a sick pump on your legs and then get under 95% of your max squat and see how it feels. I guarantee that your depth will be utter horseshit, and you'll lament having wasted your lift.

Getting a pump will definitely do a couple of things- it'll make you look better in the immediate future, so it's useful for things like impressing visiting family at Thanksgiving dinner, or as one idiot from Iron Sport Gym used to do, pumping up IN THE PARKING LOT OF CLUBS BEFORE GOING IN. Yes, it happened, and that individual might be one of the least intelligent motherfuckers I've ever known. Don't be him. Getting a pump also increases your vascularity, as one of the ancillary benefits of high-repetition movements is to increase blood flow and stimulate the formation of blood vessels. As we all like vascularity (and come on, chicks REALLY want a vascular guy... it's what they dream about at night), that's a valid reason to pump. You might also subscribe to the idea of fascial stretching, which is the pseudo-scientific idea that pumping stretches the web of connective tissue that surrounds each muscle (the fascia), thereby allowing the muscle to grow larger, because the fascia appears to be the only thing holding FST-7 lifters from unlimited hypertrophy. Yeah, and I'm a Chinese jet pilot. That's like saying that because you once got your car to go two miles an hour again while going downhill with a tailwind, it will now be able to go that much faster on level ground with no wind.

Muscular trauma leads to the construction of new muscle, not pumps. If you want to pump up, go ahead, but while you're doing it, give this some thought- do you think that you're going to build more muscle deadlifting a car out of a ditch, or curling a paperweight hundreds of times while sitting at work?

Go heavy.

Now playing: American Me - Attribute Of The Strong
via FoxyTunes

16 July 2009

*Things I Know... and You Should Know as Well

I have had a shitty week, and going on Bodyspace makes me lament my evermore tenuous connection with humanity. As such, I feel it necessary to rant.
Bodyspace truly shakes my faith in humanity, what little of it I have.
  1. The big lifts work best. When in doubt, squat, deadlift, or do heavy overhead press. Thereafter, go to quick lifts and complexes, like cleans, c&p, snatches, the Bear, etc.
  2. No one gives a fuck how much you can leg press. Every leg press machine is different, so there's no basis for comparison between weights. Furthermore, if you're spending enough time on the leg press to brag about that as a lift, you're easily identified as a pussy who's too scared to squat.
  3. Hercules curls are useless. Stop doing them.
  4. Cable crossovers are useless. Stop doing them. If you feel as though you must, use bands instead.
  5. Leg extensions are the primary destructors of knees in the gym, not squats. They don't "warm up your knees". They put an insane amount of shearing stress on the entire joint, and can snap the shit out of your ACL. Stop making excuses, and go squat.
  6. Unless you have 18"+ arms, there is absolutely no reason for you to do concentration curls or kickbacks. None. At all. If you have them, you can afford to waste time in the gym with worthless exercises. until you're there, though, save your energy for shit that works, like heavy barbell curls and close grip bench, or weighted chins and dips.
  7. If you've ever squatted on a swiss ball for anything other than a goof, throw your computer off a bridge and dive off after it. You're an idiot.
That's all I've got for this session. Tune in next time for something a bit more positive, haha.

As I walk through the valley of death, I fear no one because I'm the baddest motherfucker in the goddamned valley.

Now playing: Hoods - Ghettoblaster
via FoxyTunes

08 July 2009

*If You Think Partials Will Only Yield Partial Results, Then You're Partially Retarded.

I was once asked why I do squat lockouts with 1100+ lbs. My answer? Because I fucking can.

There's more to it than that, though. Partials, as I'm sure you all know, boast such myriad benefits as building stronger and thicker tendons, ligaments, and attachments, stimulates the CNS greatly and forces the body to build a greater mind-muscle connection, overloads one's muscles in such a way as Chad Waterbury insists it will instantly increase your body's capacity for handling full range of motion weights, and is useful for hypertrophy. Lost? I'll feed you, baby birds.

First, in re HYPERTROPHY. Yes, I'm sure you guys are all interested in the subject, as no one wants to stay the same size year after year. So, how can you increase muscle mass with partials? A couple of ways. Some bodybuilders use partial reps to train in the range of motion where they are strongest, which would ostensibly stimulate the greatest amount of muscle fiber activation, and thereby generate the most force. As such, you'd appear strong as shit and build a shitload of muscle at the same time. Is this my preferred method for hypertrophy? Nope, but I know for a fact that it works well for guys like Chris Cormier, who is to full reps on the bench what Eskimos are to anorexia.

If Cormier's coaching him, I think we can rest assured that the bar has, at most, one more inch to go.

You can also use partials to stimulate muscle growth by the simple fact that it allows you to handle more weight, which will stimulate more muscular response. According to a recent article in Muscle and Fitness, Johnny Jackson is a huge fan of deadlift partials for this very reason. Given the fact that his back is fucking jacked, I'd say it's working.

In re the STRENGTH benefits of partials, I'll address this in three ways. First, partials definitely increase your confidence under a given weight. That is, if you throw a weight you think you might be able to lift, but aren't terribly comfortable with, a way to feel like you're bare-assed on a bear skin rug with a centerfold on the floor of the Playboy mansion is to do some lockouts with the weight, and lose your fear of it. Pretty soon, you'll be itching to lift that fucker because you know for a fact that you can, or you'll realize that you've got no shot in fucking hell and you'll reassess your strength levels. Either way, you benefit. Second, partials build tremendous lockout strength, so that you can kill the weight in at least a portion of the lift. As it stresses those muscle beyond any conceivable point they might reach in the course of a full-range lift, you're going to get some ancillary benefits, in addition to being able to smoke the lockout of the full-range lift when you finally start doing it. Lastly, I'll repost an explanation by the great Chad Waterbury in Primed For Muscle:
"Supramaximal holds effectively induce a neuromuscular phenomenon known as postactivation potentiation. This event is caused by numerous complex mechanisms with an emphasis on phosphorylation of the myosin regulatory light chains. (1) Such a response can be effectively induced by supramaximal holds.... After the hold, the ability to perform a maximal voluntary effort is enhanced due to increased sensitivity of the contractile proteins that effectively bind up large amounts of Ca+2 that were released during the supramaximal hold. Therefore, due to enhanced force of the mechanical twitch you end up stronger than before. Cool stuff!"
In layman's terms, what he's saying is that doing lockouts increase the contractile force of your muscles, so doing lockouts prior to full range of motion exercises will increase your muscular ability to lift a given load. Frankly, I feel like doing lockouts prior to full range lifts sucks, and wears on my CNS without any real strength gains thereafter. It's worth trying, and if your lockouts aren't being done with four times your bodyweight, it might be a good idea.

Apropos of nothing, I really want to fucking stab Zac Efron in the neck with a knife.

In re TENDON AND LIGAMENT STRENGTH- partials might be a good idea for those of you who dabble in AAS, due to the fact that AAS frequently cause muscular growth disproportionate to tendon and ligament growth, which can result in torn biceps and the like. George Jowett was a big proponent of this, and he was a bad motherfucker, pre AAS, so it's worth considering. he based the backbone of his workouts on partials, rather than the Olympic lifts that were popular at the time, as he knew they built tendon and ligament strength, which would stabilize his muscle in the course of a lift, in addition to preventing injury. I've looked, very briefly, fo scientific backing to Jowett's theory, but in my limited search, found none. i did, however, find a great deal of anecdotal evidence, and discovered that the use of partials for strengthening ligaments and tendons is endorsed by the likes of Brooks Kubik, Ted Arcidi, Doug Hepburn, Chuck Sipes, Marvin Eder, and others. As such, I'd say they're worth doing, as those guys seemed to know what the fuck was up.

So, in conclusion, I'll give you a couple of my favorite partial movements:

Deadlift Lockout- Great for building up the traps and upper back, in addition to overall pulling strength. Set the pins just above your knees for best results, and hold the lockout for ten seconds before dropping it back to the pins. Johnny Jackson approved!

Squat Lockout- An overall man-maker, this exercise strengthens every inch of your body, and is a great break from squats of all kinds. Paul Anderson swore by these, and did them at all sorts of heights. I've done them mostly from the full squat position at the bottom, and the 1/4-1/8 rep range, and fucking love them.

Bench Press Lockouts. I've been using these to build up my elbow strength, and my bench is flying up as a result.

Overhead squat lockouts- These are fucking ridiculous. Set the pins about four inches below where the bar would be in an overhead squat. Then, with arms extended, grab the bar, squat underneath it, and stand. This is fucking BRUTAL. Nothing will hit your abs, low back, shoulders, or triceps like this.

So, how often should you do them? I wouldn't throw them into every workout, but they're definitely worth keeping in the regular rotation. 6x a week might be overkill, but I'd get them in there one something at least once a week, if at all possible.

... Every fuckinbeatin’ I’m grateful for. Every fuckin’ one of them.

Now playing: Belay My Last - Death Unto Others
via FoxyTunes

05 July 2009

*An Update on Overtraining One's Legs

It works. I trained legs between 4 and 8 sessions a week for 6 weeks, with reps mostly in the 1-5 range, and this was the result, with very little in the way of real dieting:
Bigger and more striated, in spite of the fact that I lost about 10 lbs due to my inability to do just about everything to which I'm accustomed.

Now playing: Knuckledust - Justice?
via FoxyTunes

**What's That Spindly Thing Holding Up Your Head?

Don't be this guy.

I read somewhere that there's no excuse for having anything less than a 17 inch neck... and I would tend to agree. I've personally got a 17.5" neck, and it's pretty much the result of a hell of a lot of neck work, as I'm naturally a pencil necked geek.

Most often, the reason that guys give for having pathetic, scrawny necks that look like a drinking straw with a tennis ball stuck in it is that their gym lacks a 4-way neck machine. That's fucking lame. There's a shitload of ways to work your neck without one, but I'm going to give you my favorite. I've tried all the rest, and they suck. So you know what your options are, though, I'll list them.

Partner assisted isometric holds- One, these require a partner, which is a pain in the ass, since I LIVE ALONE, I TRAIN ALONE, AND I'LL WIN THE TITLE ALONE. Fuck an a right. Mr. T wouldn't have a training partner, and neither do I. Additionally, I don't think these do much of anything beyond warm up your neck for football practice.

Neck harness- I own one, and I hate it. The straps always rub against my ears, and as I have brutal cauliflower ear, I say fuck that to the harness.Uh... yeah. Not for me.

Neck bridges- I did these prior to figuring out how to REALLY work my neck. They're useful for wrestling, but beyond that, they suck.
If Matt Furey's in, I'm out.

4 way neck machine- The one at my gym is plate loaded, which is a pain in the balls, and the padding on those things always sucks, so you end up prissing your head against the edge of a metal plate, 9x out of 10. Fuck all that.

And so, I present to you... cable neck extensions. To do these, you'll need the following:
1) a high cable
2) a strap for hanging leg raises

First, you will punch the douche doing hanging leg raises from one of those straps in the duodenum for being a fucking pussy, and then shove him in the general direction of a manly ab exercise like the ab wheel, or tell him to grow a grip and fucking hang from the bar like a real man. Neck, you will detach said strap from the pullup bar and attach it to the high pulley. You will then put a reasonable amount of weight on the cable (50 lbs should do), and basically do weighted crunches with your neck. It will rule. I typically do high reps on one day and low on another, and hit it a few times per week. nothing too crazy- 20 sets in each direction (front and back) a week should be enough to build a neck befitting a lumberjack or Milo of Croton.
A thick neck is essential to a brutal appearance and a functional physique, so throw in some neck work before I slap you so hard your head falls off.

Don't make me come out there and start pimp-slapping motherfuckers. Do it.

Now playing: Blood Of Our Enemies - Dead In Hell
via FoxyTunes