29 October 2010

Innovate or Stagnate- The Choice Is Yours, Part 2

"Thus the great mass of men who inhabit the world today have no initiative, no originality or independence of though, but are mere subjective individualities, who have never had the slightest voice in fashioning the ideals they formally revere.... He who saith unto himself, "I must believe, I must not question", is not a man but a mere pusillanimous mental gelding." -Jack London (possibly)
I realize the massive irony inherent in utilizing a quotation to articulate my distaste for the inability of the average person to think critically or form an original thought.  The author, however, perfectly encapsulates my sentiments and is far more eloquent than I, so I felt that its use was justified.  Additionally, the word "pusillanimous" is fucking awesome, so it was next to impossible to pass up.
Scooter- the Liberace of Gobots.

That stated, we'll continue our exploration of the underpinnings of various groups of physical culturists' abject hatred for original through or innovation, and their resistance to outside influence.  (See part one here)  At its root is a concept called 'groupthink'.  Originally, the word groupthink was utilized to talk about more than "mere instinctive conformity -- it is, after all, a perennial failing of mankind. What we are talking about is a rationalized conformity -- an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values are not only expedient but right and good as well.'' Since William Whyte made that statement in a 1954 article of Fortune, the definition of the word has metamorphosed like the lamest Gobot of which you could think to mean "the result of successful pressure to conform", which is in my opinion hardly less pejorative than the original definition.  Groupthink is caused by a variety of factors, according to Irving Janis, the progenitor of the word and theory, but stated that "one of the most potent conditions making for groupthink... is insulation from direct contact with informative people."(Janis p 61)  The members of such a group, like powerlifters, then self-police themselves to ensure that they all ascribe to the same philosophy, and brook no dissent within their ranks.  They are then, in essence, very much like those vapid, cud-chewing high school twats we see at the mall while trying in vain to make it in and out of that den of iniquity with our souls and a shred of respect for humanity.
This close-mindedness is actually borne of a somewhat laudable goal, given their highly cohesive, insular nature, as it "consists of the members' strong wish to preserve the harmony of the group, which inclines them to avoid creating any discordant arguments or schisms.  When this constraint is dominant, the members engage in self-censorship of their doubts about whatever policy position seems to be preferred by their leader or the majority of the group.  They use their collective cognitive resources to develop rationalizations to support expectations of a successful outcome, usually by invoking shared illusions about the invulnerability of their organization or nations, and they display other symptoms of concurrence seeking (referred to as 'the groupthink syndrome').  Instead of fear of retaliation, which is the main motivation for conformity when the 'avoid punishment rule is used, the underlying motive for the 'groupthink' tendency appears to be a strong desire to avoid spoiling the harmonious atmosphere of the group." (Janis 56-57)
There's a reason why kegs are in every strongman event.

This is vaguely understandable, given that strength athletics are generally misunderstood by the public and considered the purview of the mentally deficient or those who have need of a physical compensation for either a small brain or a small cock.  Rather than banding together in a brotherhood of iron, however, any casual observer will note distinct divisions between strength athletes, which didn't exist in bygone eras. Clearly, the lack of these divisions begat much more well-rounded strength athletes and made for a far more enjoyable fraternal sentiment in gyms, as evinced by the fact that gyms were frequently attached to taverns and had a specific place in which to store one's stein while lifting. (Smith)  Can you imagine the Jersey Shore asshats rocking over to a bar after a hard lift and pounding some shots and steaks with the powerlifters and the strongmen?  I highly fucking doubt it.  The powerlifters would be busy with prehabbing, rehabbing, or not laundering their workout gear, while the strongmen would be eating small children, the Highland games guys would be cavorting about in skirts, hammered, singing songs in Gaelic no one could understand and admiring each others' facial hair while the bodybuilders would be jacking 'slin, preening in front of some mirrors and whining about how fat they are.  Any camaraderie that might have existed between physical culturists is gone now utterly gone now, replaced by fractiousness, shittiness, and general idiocy.  That is, of course, except for the strongmen, who seem content to kick ass and drink beer while laughing at the myriad failings of other strength athletes and of course, bodybuilders.
Meanwhile, a few "powerlifters" managed to tear themselves away from the internet for a photo op.

Thus, save for strongmen, who train in endless permutations of splits, exercises, and frequencies, weightlifters, powerlifters, and bodybuilders each band together in their cliques like frightened sheep in the middle of a field, braying at any other animal that enters their space. They insist that the predominant method of training is the only way one could possibly achieve greatness in their respective sport.  "According to the groupthink hypothesis, members of a concurrence-seeking group sometimes engage in mindguarding, which reduces the amount of dissent to which they allow themselves to be exposed.  But it does not follow that they never allow themselves to hear or read about dissenting views.  Rather, the hypothesis states that when they are exposed to dissenting views, they do not take the objections seriously enough to reconsider any of their assumptions or expectations pertaining to the policy option that they collectively favor, even though some members may have strong residual doubts."  (Janis p. 279)  This is why bodybuilders, in spite of massive amounts of evidence to the contrary, will continue to assert that the only method by which one can "get hyooge" is to carefully balance their pervasive fear of overtraining with sets of 6-10 reps on the most pathetic weaksauce exercises one could possibly invent.  
The Coan/Philippi routine got him this 300lb-ish deadlift for a 1st place win at 181! W00t!

Many powerlifters do the same for their vaunted Smolov, Sheiko, Coan, and 5/3/1, insisting that any other training methodology will lead to rack and ruin, and is ultimately nonsensical.  Faced with proof to the contrary, they'll do exactly as Irving suggested, claiming that the source of the proof is invalid of any number of half-baked ideas, simply to reassure themselves of their correctness.  The internet makes this phenomenon even more common, as the groups become far more "cohesive and well-insulated from outside sources of opinion and information, two important antecedent conditions of groupthink." (p 283)  As such, they cement their ingrained opinions, lose all objectivity, and indoctrinate neophytes into their special brand of close-minded insanity, for which there appears to be little cure.

Next, I'll deploy post-modernist philosophy, Mariusz Pudzianowski, and Zen-influenced clinical psychology to continue the deconstruction of this fantastic brand of idiocy.  

Irving, Janis.  Crucial Decisions: Leadership in Policymaking and Crisis Management. Free Press: New York, 1989.

Langer, Ellen.  Counterclockwise.

Safire, William.  The Way We Live Now: 8-8-004: On Language; Groupthink.  The New York Times Magazine.  8/8/04. Retrieved 10/26/10.



  2. That quotation is from Arthur Desmond, not Jack London, in the book "Might is Right," which he wrote under the pseudonym "Ragnar Redbeard."

  3. There's no reason not to try different routines.
    Especially if your goals are broad.
    I have been creating my own routines (aka winging it in the gym) for a while now and I've had a lot of success, but sometimes I want to see if a scheme will "jive" with me.
    In this case, the generic "Russian Squat/Press Program."
    Initially I thought the volume was kind of low, but seeing as how it's 80 percent or above 3 days a week makes me think that the volume is fine.
    And every day I'm not squatting I'm clean+pressing and benching.
    I can't fucking wait.
    It may not even work, but its not like I compete in any sports- I lift because it's fun.

  4. That wolf is fucking brutal.

  5. This is probably the most densely written post you've yet made, in the grammatical sense...I like the change of pace, but this part was rather shitty:

    "They are then, in essence, very much like those vapid, cud-chewing high school twats we see at the mall while trying in vain to make it in an out of that den of iniquity with our souls and a shred of respect for humanity."

    Especially since misspelling "and" really fucks it up.

    Now that I'm done being a twat and bemoaning typos (though I only do it because one of the reasons I enjoy the blog is your writing ability), I enjoy where this is going very much.

    Have at it, Jamie.

  6. I'm doing a variation of 5/3/1, and it is working great for me. I don't think this method is the Jesus Christ of lifting, but I'm going to continue with it until I see a plateau in gains.

    The difference is that no one "told" me to do 5/3/1. I discovered the program on my own through my own research into lifting programs, and use it only because after a few cycles, it has returned good gains on all my lifts.

    Like most things in life, irrespective of how "good" anything (be it a lifting program, learning method, organization method, etc.), you have to incorporate it into your own schedule/temperance to evaluate how effective it is for YOU.

    Responding to the O-BAMA dude, it's really sad that shit worked so well getting him elected. It really demonstrates how absolutely soul-crushingly fucking true "group-think and collectivism" is in this country. People still have the goddamn stickers on their cars; even after he broke all his "promises" and continued the ass-raping the GOP continued after Clinton, ad infinium.

  7. Excellent post. And so true...

  8. I've just put a whole wine bottle up my pussy!

  9. Lol@ the Wine bottle. Go eat your cookies!

  10. RainingPiPs, when the plateau happens you'll be faced with the choice of either thinking for yourself, identifying the problem(s) and manipulating your current program (531 or whatever) to better suit your current situation and start gaining again, or dropping the program completely so you can find a "better" one. Which way are you going to go?
    Some people can use a preexisting template as a jumping off and over the course of a few years eventually make it their own. Most people, though, lack any instinct for building strength whatsoever and will simply hop from one routine to another for years assuming they'll sooner or later land on the one that will work for them.
    Newsflash. Nothing will work for you. You have to make it work.

  11. Glen, I don't want to sound like a dick, but that is essentially what I meant when I said you had to apply the lifting program(s) to your own schedule/temperance.

    I'm not huge like the author of this blog, but I'm probably going to be incorporating more volume into my schedule. I think 5/3/1 has been great so far, but I feel like I'm recovering faster than the program's watermarks; and think I might be wasting a couple of days "recovering" when I could be lifting.

    That's what I meant by applying the program to your own individual temperance.

  12. Even wendler would say to lift for ten years before getting on the internet and finding out what others are doing.

    His program is meant to be followed to the letter only if you want to test the program against your previous efforts or programs. It seems that 5/3/1 was written to put down on paper what everyone who has been strength training for any appreciable amount of time could already figure out. I don't blame him for putting something like this out, because it will sell and work to an extent, but even the author says that willpower, going heavy, and tweaking the program to fit your own goals is going to lead to success more than blind adherence to some program.

  13. Anon- To my understanding, the identity of Ragnar Redbeard's not yet been completely resolved.

  14. Transcribed from a talk given by Anton Long at ONA Sunedrion, Oxford, yf 99)

    What is occurring more and more within society, is adherence by individuals to ephemeral causes and ‘opinions’ as a result of the subjection to individuals to propaganda both overt and more ‘covert’ (i.e. ‘subliminal’). That is, society is developing so as to make practical experience of the traumas of life more and more distant – the individual becoming shielded not only by the ‘State’ and its Institutions by also by ideas. Thus, the world is seen via the distorting lenses of these ideas. In the past, wisdom arose usually painfully over a period of time by diverse and often traumatic personal experience – that is, a very individual’ ‘view of the world’ was formed as a result of these varied experiences. Of course, few arrived at even this stage of conscious development.

    Magick, properly understood, was an attempt to ‘short-circuit’ this process – hence, for example, the tasks and procedures of the Grade Rituals in the seven-fold Way. Thus, magick built, from within and without ‘the individual, a genuine foundation – an ‘inner core’ which enabled the individual to not only survive in an often-hostile world, but also enhance their life quite significantly. Magick restores the individual in a very important way to the ‘roots of their being’ allowing thus a personal growth.

    However, society in general does the opposite. Its ‘education’, its Institutions, its Laws all act together to produce an individual lacking in spirit: that is, devoid of a personal world-view. Moreover, this occurs whatever the outward political allegiance of the society -e.g.. Socialist or capitalist or shades in between. – and occurs whether or not a particular society is ‘democratic’ or overtly ‘repressive.





  15. Interesting. I'll have to check out that entire talk. Thanks for the link!

  16. I don't normally leave comments on blog posts. In fact, this might very well be my first. But I just had to remark upon how poorly you write. Honestly, it almost hurts.

  17. Step right up, Sssstepp rite up and git ur WEAKSAUCE.