15 March 2011

If You're In This World To Live Up To Others' Expectations, Expect To Fucking Suck

Generally, I have about as much faith in psychotherapy as I do in a higher power who will heed my every whim and bestow upon me every little thing for which I wish.  That is to say, less than none.  There's one guy, however, who caught my attention based on the fact that his entire theory of therapy revolved around taking personal responsibility for shit- basically, he was all about having people man the fuck up and wreck shit themselves, rather than asking for permission from others and allowing them to limit your growth as a person.  The guy, Fritz Perls, is quoted as having said “I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine”, which is both fairly poignant and important in a modern era wherein nearly everyone on Earth constantly seeks approval from others on their dumbass social networking sites.  Few places is that shit more horrifying and disgusting than weightlifting-related sites, where there's sundry threads all devoted to asking what reasonable expectations a person might have given a bunch of retarded caveats and personal body measurements.  If you've ever penned one of those threads, you should punch yourself in the fucking face.  I've sort of posted about this phenomenon before, but I thought I'd revisit this issue for a couple of reasons.  They are:
  1. people often have hyper-inflated and ridiculous expectations of what they can expect physique- and performance-wise, and seem to want everything right fucking now
  2. people seem to think that a random person on the internet could accurately gauge the potential of a perfect stranger over the internet
  3. people seem to have no fucking idea what to expect when they enter the gym on any given day
As such, I've decided to come to the rescue and save you from your baser, sadder, more needy motivations and put you on a path on which you at least stand on your own two feet and lean on other people, if you don't just fucking stand up like a goddamned man with your hands on your hips and your legs spread in the universal stance of "I dominate shit and will melt your face off Charlie Sheen style if you fuck with me."  And ladies, this applies to you as well- being a woman's not really an excuse to be needy, and it's simple enough to out-man most of the eunuchs you'll find on the street anyway.
On a side note, standing like this actually tricks your brain into making you feel more powerful.  You should do it all the fucking time, as the master of your domain.  Studies even show that standing with your hands on your hips and legs spread (a dominance/power pose) increases testosterone by about 19 per cent and decreases cortisol by about 25 per cent. If you stand like a little bitch with your arms and legs all intertwined like some sort of ridiculous contortionist / human pretzel, you can actually decrease testosterone by 10 per cent and increase cortisol by 17 per cent.  As such, you should try to stand like a fucking superhero whenever possible.(Carney)
 But I digress.  I shall start at the end, as that's how I respond to emails and read magazines, and it occasionally confuses people, which I enjoy immensely.  Additionally, it's the thing I really wanted to address with this post- what to expect when you enter the gym.  
You should not expect this.

My answer, for once, is purely based upon my own experience, and has no basis in science.  As such, you should take it for what it's worth- it's a benchmark/suggestion/anecdote, not the answer to all of one's questions and the meaning of life.  In any event, I've found that when training 6+ times a week (moderately heavy to very heavy sessions), one quarter to one third of those sessions will probably not be stellar.  I'd say they'd suck, but my "suck" workouts generally exceed in duration and poundage any three workouts I see other people doing, but they're those with which I feel generally disaffected, and wish could have gone better.  This is not something I expect, however- I never look at my week and think, "well, I can blow off this fucking workout because I've already had three awesome workouts in a row."  Rather, it's just something that happens as a matter of course.  The more session I add, the more the 1/4-1/3 rule seems to apply, but it's never a constant thing.  It could boil down to two weeks of setting the gym on fire and tearing shit apart, and then one during which I seem to be suffering from general malaise, or couple of months of awesome followed by one of a lackadaisical attitude.  Again, it's never something for which I plan, but something I accept as the cost of doing business.
Not even Stan Efferding's on the top of his game 365 days a year.

Nor is this something that causes me to rethink my training frequency.  I think this is simply a function of the cyclical nature of humanity, and the natural ebb and flow of things.  You're not a machine, and you should not expect your body to behave as one.  If you lived in a universe where you could control every single factor affecting your athletic performance, you might have a shot at preventing this ebb and flow in microcycles, but you wouldn't on a macro scale- everyone has their slumps.
Speaking of which, I've found that nearly every year I have a slight backslide.  Over the course of my decade and a half of training I've definitely strung together multiple years of advancements, but everyone gets bogged down in the trenches every now and again, and everyone has to give ground from time to time.  Over time, you'll find that weight training is VERY analogous to WWI- at the outset, you'll make a badass, hardline drive for Paris, but after a year, you're measuring your progress in scant inches.  That's just how shit works, and there's fuckall you can do about it.  As such, be glad for your inches and keep pushing forward.
Again, don't expect this.

But "what should I expect?", you might be asking.  WHO FUCKING CARES?  If you know you should expect a certain amount, you'll stop once you hit that amount, or slack off.  If you failed to reach the prescribed numbers, you'd probably bitch and quit lifting anyway.  As such, asking strangers on the internet about your personal potential is fucking stupid to the point of offensiveness.  Don't fucking do it.  Ever.  They've no way to accurately assess what your potential is, especially given the fact that they've never met you, never will meet you, and have no way of checking the veracity of any of the claims you've made about your height/weight/prs, etc.  Even if there were a way for someone to semi-accurately predict "how much weight you could gain in a year" or "how much your bench could go up in a year", it would still be an artificial limitation on your progress, which will ultimately lead to your failure.(Van Fleet 59)  Push your limits.  Take chances.  Stretch yourself.  Learn.  Grow as a person.  Stop relying on others to tell you what you can do, who you are, and what you can be, and find out for your fucking self.
You're doing it wrong.

Finally, abandon the thought that you can have everything you want right fucking now.  You've heard for years that our society is obsessed with instant gratification, and people laugh this off while they bitch about how they can't have what they want instantaneously.  This is made worse by the fat fucks getting gastric bypass and people getting implants all over their bodies and shooting synthol.  Spend five to ten years breaking your ass inside out in the gym and at the dinner table.  If you still suck then, you can start bitching, but do it quietly, off the internet, and know that at the end of the day, the fault likely lies with you.  There's always something more you can do in furtherance of your goals...
so go fucking do it.  Just don't expect any miracles, unless you happen to know a purportedly magical Jewish carpenter or something.

Carney DR, Cuddy AJ, Yap AJ.  Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance.  Psychol Sci. 2010 Oct 1;21(10):1363-8. Epub 2010 Sep 20.
Van Fleet, James K. Hidden Power:  How to Unleash the Power of Your Subconscious Mind.  1987.


  1. Hard hitting and dead on!
    Good Stuff!

  2. this article wont apply to any of the people smart enough to read this blog

  3. That's only time a female should do a plank - when a man is pressing her.

    Hilarious pic: you're doing it wrong.

    Great read as per usual.

  4. http://moynihaninstitute.com/

    The Moynihan Institute got an awesome makeover.

  5. Interesting post.
    I've been maxing out on back and front squats (about 85% BS and 15% FS) every day since January and maxing on Olympic press and full cleans every other day.
    When doing this kind of thing you learn that it doesn't matter what you do, because there's always tomorrow.
    And, strangely, my lifts are progressing pretty linearly, as in I'll hit a weight pretty consistently for about 2-3 weeks and then hit a new PR and hit another new weight consistently.
    When I was doing programs designed by others, my lifts didn't really progress steadily.
    Basically, when I kept my head down and just kept training my lifts began climbing.
    These days I tend to think of my time in the gym as "practice."

  6. Listening to LIGHTNING BOLT usually helps me power through any weak feeling days I have at the gym.

  7. I havn't done any research on this phenomena because I'm lazy but apparently humans and animals alike become highly excitable when a full moon comes around.

    At a seminar I was at recently for security staff the instructor was saying how he couldn't explain it but it is common practice for door supervising teams to put extra staff on around a full moon.

    It would be interesting to record performance and mood in the gym on those nights I think.

  8. Dray- HAHAHAHAHA. The latin bit was perhaps the best part.

    Slowfuse- I actually thought of that while writing the blog... hoping that this will be reposted.

    Kieran- I've read that sleep patterns are interrupted, which I've definitely noticed.

    Adebisi- Never heard of them. I did rock out All Else Failed yesterday, though.

  9. Best part for me was opening the page up and thinking...

    "...man, I kinda love the Moynihan Institute. He changes his mind about everything on a weekly basis which is pretty entertaining. Hey, I wonder if anyone's ever considered hacking the si-"

  10. Excellent post Jamie, everybody who even thinks about lifting needs this kinda truth..you would want to be careful though with this kinda honesty and insight you almost come across as being a sensible human being with feelings and stuff..careful now:)

  11. Jamie, All else Failed, got to see them multiple times at the Unitarian Church in philly.....shit was fucking crazy. I swear Dillenger's new lead singer aped all of his "moves" from the singer of AEF, including the incredible lasso microphone occasionally hitting a random attendee

  12. All new hardcore bands swiped their stage presence from old bands that ruled at life. My personal favorites are the kids who dance like they're on meth in the crowd in hopes getting noticed by the singer of some corny neo-hardcore band that they have a man-crush on.

    Then again, I haven't been to a decent show in years, so...what the fuck do I know. I'm willing to bet it hasn't gotten better though.

  13. What are your guys' thoughts on high bar/olympic squats? Don't think i've seen them mentioned in the blog before. I've been using them the last few weeks and definitely prefer them over low bar. I think it may be my stupidly long legs that just makes them feel a far more natural movement, plus they have much better carryover to front squats and i'd assume they'd be more effective for quad hypertrophy.

  14. Jippo -

    I agree on all points.
    I have long legs as well, and the high bar is definitely way more natural-feeling (and athletic-feeling).
    Nothing gives you massive quads like heavy olympic squats, and IMO, no one exercise has more carryover to other lifts and general strength/power/athleticism than the olympic squat. Except maybe heavy clean and jerks. I'd say they're tied.

    Re: front squats.
    A while ago, my olympic squat PR was 130kg, and my FS PR was 110kg. Pretty gay.
    I didn't do FS and did only BS for a long time until a few weeks ago.
    When I maxed out my FS for the first time in a long time, my BS PR was up to 175kg, and I managed a 130kg FS.
    So, 20kg PR in FS after several months of doing only BS.
    The shit works.

  15. Where are the damn blogs... You said you already have one written. Post the shit up, dammit.

  16. Is Jerusalem artichoke considered paleo?

  17. This is such a great post! It should be a sticky on every message board on the net.