21 February 2011

Hooliganism Continues To Spread... and now includes endurance athletes

While I continue to plod through the next installment of the running blogs (which is fun because I'm trying to counter arguments before they're posted, but is intensely time consuming), I thought you fuckers might be interested by the following collegiate rower.  He managed to do what almost anybody on the internet would claim is completely impossible- he gained muscle, increased his maximal strength, improved his athletic performance, AND increased his aerobic activity, all at the same time.  When he first emailed me, I though the kid was completely batshit crazy.  As it turns out, he is.

Having had a shitload of people email me for detailed advice and then drop off the face of the Earth, I had him pegged for your average high schooler who intended to ask a shitload of questions, put none of what you told him into practice, and basically do his generation proud by sucking like none who had gone before him.  I was wrong.  I gave him some broad outlines for advice, rather than the detailed shit I had in the past, and answered periodic questions regarding diet and training as they popped up.  Will took the open-source concept to heart with that, and fashioned for himself a program that worked for him and helped him achieve his goals, tweaking it as he went to keep improving.

First things first, Will's not a strength athlete, powerlifter, or anything resembling a person who sits around waiting for his turn in the rack.  Instead, he's an 18 year old rower who spent a year busting his ass in the gym to get stronger while at the same time ROWING 2 hours a day.  Nor was he a neophyte to lifting.  That he'd at least lifted some prior to starting CnP is evident when you look at his before pics- the kid was skinny, but he was ripped to fucking shreds.

That's right- he gained 20 lbs of rip in one year, put 130 lbs on his deadlift, saw his BTN go up 55 lbs, gained a 70 lbs on his clean, and lost an inch on his waist.  Fucking crazy.  
145 lbs of nothing but abs when he started.

His year looked like this:
2 hour rowing practice 5 times per week, races every 3-4 weeks. Rowed lightweight, had to stay <155. Weighed in to Regionals at 154, took 2nd in single and 2V double. My 2,000 meter time in the single decreased by 30 seconds (8:51 to 8:21) from the beginning of April to the middle of May. Bench 235, Squat 230, Deadlift 345 as of May. Diet was Paleo with 2 cheats.

This was a shitty summer due to a leg injury in early that stopped me from lifting heavy until around mid-August. My lifts improved little, as I had to go light for that whole time.

September to December
Back to CNP basics during this time, starting at a weight of about 152. 5 days per week lifting going push/pull and squat splits. I also had lacrosse practice 3 days per week until December. Bench 245, Squat 270, Deadlift 375 as of December.  Diet during this time was carb-cycling (3 days high carb/low fat, 4 days Paleo, 1 cheat). 

January to Present
Lacrosse season has me doing a lot of running (3 days practice, 1 day conditioning) so I had to switch to a lifting schedule that would not result in debilitating leg cramps during practice. Since the beginning of January I’ve been following Defranco’s WS4SB with the occasional squat or deadlift fiesta thrown in to appease the heavy demons.  

How'd he do it?  Here's how:

During my CNP prime I'd go on a push+pull / squat split 5 days a week. Typically the 15x1, 12x2, 10x3 rep scheme with CNP-approved lifts. I'd throw in a 30-rep squat every month or so and I fucking loved that squat pyramid workout that you promoted. Now I'm doing Defranco's WS4SB program for in-season and I plan on doing a 6 week cycle of German Volume Training just to change things up once my season is over before I go back to CNP until my season starts again in the fall. 

I actually did Paleo with 2 cheats windows per week throughout rowing season, which makes my 10 gained pounds slightly more amazing. In hindsight, I should have gone with something more like carb-backloading (which is what I'm doing now) because the amount of cardio that I was doing/currently do makes fat gain nearly impossible. 
-- editor's note.  He and I discussed this as he was going, and I suggested that he add in some carbs.  I'd briefly skimmed Cordain's Paleo for Athletes book, which dealt solely with endurance athletes, and Cordain was big on adding carbs.

On my Paleo days I would hit around 3-4500 cals, up to 6-7000 on cheat days. Now I get about 4-5000 a day and eat the majority of my 4-6 meals out of my bachelor bowl. 

Sample Paleo Day
5:30--Pre-workout shake (25g whey isolate)
Lift or Erg
7:00--3-4 eggs, some sort of PWO starch
10:00--Tuna fish or more eggs
12:00--Beef, chicken (fucking wings, sometimes thighs), or sausage with kale or spinach
2:30--Pre-rowing shake (25g whey isolate)
5:30--Large meal, sometimes PWO starch, always about 1/2 pound of meat and leafy green vegetables
7:30--Leftovers from that meal
9:00--Apple and peanut butter snack
10:00--Shake: 25g egg protein, peanut butter, banana blended
The "bachelor bowl".

Sample day of eating now
7:00 Meal 1: 4-5 eggs, sausage, coffee
9:00 Snack 1: Mixed nuts
11:30 Meal 2: Dining hall food, generally sandwiches and large salad, etc.
1:45 Pre-workout shake of 25g whey concentrate
2:00 Lift
3:00 Post-workout shake of 25g whey concentrate, 60g waxy maize
5:00 Meal 3: 1/2 pound of pasta with beef or chicken or 2 cups brown rice with beef or chicken
6:30 Practice
9:00 Post-practice shake of 25g whey concentrate, 30g waxy maize
10:00 Meal 4: More pasta/rice and beef/chicken, mixed berries
11:00 Snack 2: Apple and peanut butter or 30g Myofusion shake

On non-practice days I go higher on vegetables (kale, broccoli) during the day simply because I have more time to prepare them. My practice days also happen to be the days when I'm at school from 8-2 and then lifting until 3 so that leaves little time to start sautéing. 

Clearly should have been eating more, but my school schedule made it difficult and I didn't have the same attitude toward stuffing food down that I do now. Also, fuck waking up that early to train. My energy and weights increased substantially once I pushed that back to either 8am or (now) 2pm. My summer job required me to walk all day but I actually ended up eating more because I could snack on nuts and stuff constantly before and after lunch break, which would generally be copious amounts of wings and beef with kale (reheated in the microwave, much to my co-workers' delight).

I think one of the mistakes that I made during rowing was not doing enough sets. I went for weight over sets and did 6x3x85-90% when 10x3x80-85% or 15x1x90% instead of 8-10x1x95% probably would have led to greater size gains. That being said, I weighed into Regionals at an otter-like 153.5, so I didn't have much room to gain anyway. 

One of the greatest benefits that I got from CNP is confidence. Do 15-20 singles with a compound exercise like squat or dead week after week and nothing will phase you physically. I took Kyokoshin karate for a few years, and they have a saying that I paraphrased and adapted to lifting. When I'm on the field, or when I was sitting at the start line of a race, I had unmatchable confidence compared to my opponents because I walk, row, run, and carry myself with the confidence of over 1000 squats and several hundred deadlifts. You can't say the same about cable flies and drop sets.
Kyokushin is the shit.

Q:  That's fucking badass, man.  The total volume of work you were doing is insane, and it's not often that endurance athletes see a rise in ME strength with a concordant rise in bodyweight while losing fat.  Crazy.
What got you interested in training like this, anyway?  

A:  I was pissed. For some reason I had bought into Pete Fucking Sisco's "Static Contraction" program and wasted a month of training doing low-volume partials. Toward the end of January I was looking down the barrel of my last rowing season and a high-school project and somehow came across your blog online. I decided that it was the furthest thing possible from Static Contraction and therefore must be good. That was about when I emailed you about my senior project, which was to make myself a guinea pig for CNP on a 5 month scale and meticulously record progress, etc, and then present it to a board of teachers. While they may have been less than enthusiastic about the fact that one of my sources included a Rwandan genocide picture, I passed that project (ad-libbed presentation) with flying colors.  
You mean like this?  Genocide is always good for a laugh.

Q:  I found Cisco and Little's info to be good for anecdotal information and for tweaking a workout, but like you said, it's nothing around which one should structure a program.  Did you see an improvement in your overall sport performance?

A:  I spent my rowing season in the single-shell (2 oars, one person) and the double (2 oars each, two people). I wish I had gotten a better stat on this, but just from the beginning of April to the end of May, my time in the single improved from an 8:51 2k to an 8:21 2k, which put me in 2nd place at Junior Regionals. I have just started playing defense in lacrosse and in my short time on the field I have found that I have no problem putting guys who are bigger than me on the ground. 

Q:  What the fuck do you have against training calves?  You do realize bigger calves will likely make you faster, right?  They won't increase drag or overall wind resistance, if that's what you thought.  

A:  Not everyone began doing calf-raises and bench the second they got in a weight room.  I've been starting to get on the calves, though. 

Q:  It was weighted dips, fucker.  Get it right.  Anyway, your pulls went way the fuck up, which is interesting given the fact that you were rowing 2 hours a day.  Do you think that helped or hindered your pulling progress?

A:  I'd say that the rowing can't have hindered my pull, but it probably didn't help it much either. Your range of back motion is pretty low compared to a dead and the load is relatively light. So it may have had a small effect, but I'd attribute the progress more to heavy singles, heavy shrugging, and squats than anything else. The bulk of my progress on deadlift also came after my rowing season had ended (345-405). 

Q: Any other random shit to add?
A:  Yeah. My brother is a wrestler and has been doing CNP for the last few months and texted me yesterday to inform me that he (at weight 112), pulled 300 and shit his pants in the progress. If he hadn't been pulling almost 2.7xbw I would have given him shit for that (pun intended), but there's another testament to heavy singles and triples for deadlifts.
112 lbers I want to wrestle.

On another note related to your running blog, I absolutely abhor any running other than sprints, which are now a large part of my life. Even then, anytime someone suggests that we run a 400 or something in lacrosse, my response is typically "If I ever have to run the ball 400 yards to the goal, just fucking sub me out."

So, there you have it.  In spite of the fact that every slack-jawed bitch on the internet will continuously and vehemently assert that you cannot get lean and strong at the same time, or train for cardio and strength simultaneously, it appears that you can, provided you bust your fucking ass inside out, lift heavy, and diet hard.

Surprised?  I'm not.


  1. Just found something on a lifter, Buster McShane someone commented on once. Apparently he raced Reg Park to 500 lb's...


    Also had some recommendations on benching, not that that's the favorite exercise of most hooligans.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Whoops, fucked up my above post. If you have further questions, go ahead and post them and I'll try to answer in more detail to spare Jamie's inbox.

  4. so is he fucking natural or what

  5. You fucking kidding me? I'd be the worst steroid user ever if that's what I looked like after running a cycle or two. That aside, I like my NCAA eligibility, so yes.

  6. How often did Jamie tell you that you should have been bating?
    I see nothing about it in your program.

  7. Cool stuff !! Pretty kickass actually to improve max strength, endurance and lean body mass at the same time.

    Brings up some big questions though.

    Would he have gotten better results by focusing on more on one goal at a time ie periodisation

    If this guy can do it, why can't everyone else?
    Or what did he do that most people fuck up.

    Is it shear manning the fuck up and putting in the work?

    Either way, good shit, fucking impressive

  8. Adebisi--I'm a college guy living alone, I need no advice when it comes to that matter.

    Josh--Thanks. It's about sticking to the work. I picked this "program" and did it hard for 5 months straight before I significantly changed any part of it. Most people either lack the consistency, motivation, or testicular fortitude to do that. I am periodizing now because I'm in a different athletic environment, I can give you more details on my plan if you're interested.

  9. If you don't mind, I'd like to hear more about this program. Could you send me an email? jeremy@crossfitvernon.ca

  10. Send that shit to me too, please.


  11. Good job Will! Quite impressive. I'm a skinny endurance athlete who's trying to gain muscle and is having a hard time being anabolic so I can appreciate the hard work you did.

    Questions for you: Shouldn't the waxy maze be taken pre or during workout and or instead of after? Also, by "2 cheating windows" you mean 2 meals or 2 days?

    thanks and keep up the good work. It's inspiring.

  12. Richard---

    Possibly, but there's no fucking way I'm chugging that down in between sprints at practice. I've tried that once while lifting and almost lost it all so I stick to small amounts of water or gatorade.

    2 cheat windows lasting 3 hours each.


  13. How is the 5 day push / pull squat split sat up? Push pull everyday squat every other?

  14. Boris--

    Depending on what I wanted to focus on and how much running or rowing I was doing, I would either go push+pull mon/wed/fri and squat tue/thur or the other way around, with my mid-week squat being a light (though painful) session of 1-2 sets of 20-30 reps. This could look like...
    Mon: BTNPP and Shrug
    Tue: Back Squat
    Wed: Bench and Bent-Over Row
    Thur: Front Squat
    Fri: Partial OHP and Chinups

    I found that this worked better for me than the CNP "program" wherein you do a push, pull, and squat all in one session 3 times per week.


  15. Dude that's some motivating shit right there. You proved all of the naysayers wrong.

  16. I'd love to experiment with that program for a while!!!! Awesome shit!!!

  17. Hey Will! What you've achieved is really inspiring! I was a skinny endurance athlete (triathlon) for ages but gave it all up to get bigger and stronger about a year and a half ago and have made really good progress in this time. However recently I have had the itch to return to triathlon because I really do miss it - racing, being outside, club spirit etc. Bodybuilding and strength training is pretty non-existant where I live in the UK....especially among females and therefore is pretty isolating! But I'm just worried incase I set myself back at all - dont want to lose any of the gains that I've managed to make!

    Just wondering if you think it would be possible to do something similar to what you have done with my sport, and if you could send me some more info/advice?!!



  18. Jamie, did you know that if you try to access this blog through google google warns you about questionable content that may be on this site? appearently someone reported it to google...

  19. Hard to compare with the two photos, but the PR progression is fairly good coupled with a cardio-like sport.

    Benching more than squatting at the beginning? That is certainly the curse of rower, now you have a really decent ratio.

    Im wondering if you can still progress in weight training while keeping a <155 bodyweight though; never want to try the next weight-class ?

  20. I've nothing to comment on this subject, but here's another chance to look at a shot of my awesome fucking back. Deny it if you like, but most of you guys would want to be me, and the chicks to suck me off. Enjoy.

  21. No dude your back just looks fat... But good goin.

  22. Thanks Mars, I appreciate the complement!! Just one thing though, the spelling's actually 'phat'. And I bet you've been going back and looking at my photo all evening haven't you, you little minx!

  23. Lauren-- Thanks, but I really have no idea how to train a true endurance athlete. Rowing is a weird combination of endurance and sprint because races typically last close to 7 minutes (endurance) but each 500m are different parts of a sprint so you never really achieve that "steady state" of endurance sports. I would doubt that you could really be equally effective at both, but hey, you just have to experiment and find a balance that works for you. Sorry I can't help more.

    Paul--The bench vs squat weight is largely a result of my not being able to squat until 2009 because of a torn meniscus...I basically benched 3-4 times a week and took my bench from 165 to 225 in about 9 months, while my squat sat at approximately nothing. I'm sure that I could cut some weight now, but seeing as I have no need (no weigh-in for lacrosse) and it would actually be detrimental to my current performance, I doubt I'll be trying to cut down anytime soon. My brother is did CNP while wrestling at 112 and had pretty good gains while staying in his class.


  24. I Am Spartacus, have you ever accidentally killed a puppy from petting it too hard, or been run out of town for trying to thumb the soft fabric of a young girl's dress?

  25. Yes, but then I've done a lot of crazy shit.

  26. Lauren,

    I guess it is possible. I know a couple of triathletes that perform well and are over 200 pounds... Actually The guy who won IM Lanzarote in 2005 was not a typical small skinny guy.

    I'm trying to get bigger but still have some big mountain running race in my todo list.

  27. Are you goin to stock more T shirts in Large or Extra Large?

  28. You got that right Spartacus :D but still if you lose that extra weight I'll be checkin you out even more you sly fox. :)

    Btw Jamie.. Damnit. Too many numbers. Long ass blog posts... Can't... Cope...!!! Reading comprehension.. ENDU... WHAT. pain in my skull..... brain melting.. ARGH

  29. Richard,

    I think you're right. I reckon if I continue to lift heavy weights and eat shitloads then I'll be fine.

    Good luck with the mountain running race!

  30. Lauren--

    The only advice I can really give is to make sure you get all your sets in and drop the weight if you need to, instead of doing it the other way around. I said this in the blog, but one of the mistakes I made was doing, for example, 8 sets of 1 with about 95% of my max instead of 15 sets of 1 with more like 85%. IMO, size=more sets, even at the expense of weight. Strength=fewer sets, all about how much weight you can push. Again, it's a balancing act when strength training is not your primary goal.

    Good luck.


  31. In re the tshirt question- I should have a zazzle store up shortly. Sending the shit out myself sucks.