31 October 2011

Evolution Of My Diet #3- The Birth Of The Apex Predator Diet

In the last installment, I explained that the basis of my dietary regime is the paleolithic diet, but that I've added a considerable amount in the way of tweaks to it in order to optimize my performance in the gym.  By tweaks, I mean tweaks in the same way a Japanese tuner enthusiast "tweaks" a pickup truck to make it appear as though it's a dragon- I took a giant, steaming shit in it's mouth, threw half of it overboard, and started wildly looking about for anything close at hand to make it appear exactly as it shouldn't.

My problem, you see, with the paleo approach was that I was eating way too fucking much food.  I'd been able to get away with this in the past, but time fucks up just about everyone, and my desk-jockey job and middle age conspired to fuck me in the ass.  Thus, I began tinkering with my macronutrients to see what, if any, interesting results I could derive.  The only way I could do this, however, and remain true to my Robb Wolff-esque ketoish pale diet was to either start eating a shitload of beef jerky, which would have been as delicious as it was economically unfeasible, or start replacing more meals with shakes.  That's exactly what I decided to do, influenced heavily by T-Nation's original Velocity Diet.
There are some damn good reasons to visit T-Nation.

For those of you who are unaware, the Velocity Diet is a T-Nation product used to sell their Metabolic Drive protein powder, a powder priced so insanely that one would think that it was created by a team of Russian alchemists using naught but powdered diamonds and dessicated unicorn cock.  As I, unlike many T-Nation readers, was cognizant of the fact that Biotest's products differ from others on the market only in their method and ferocity of wallet-raping, I decided to go with products that weren't priced by Bernie Madoff's evil uncle-in-law- Monster Milk and Muscle Infusion.  I chose the former for the fact that it tastes amazing, has an impressive blend of proteins that is heavy on the slow-released ones, and because it's got creatine included.  The latter was chosen on a combination of price point and protein blend, in addition to the fact that it was low carb.  Essentially, I wanted to maximize my protein intake while minimizing my caloric intake, in the spirit of the Velocity Diet.  For those of you who are unaware, the V-Diet 1.0 consists of 5 protein shakes a day supplemented with EFAs, fiber, and a multivitamin.  Once a week, you're allowed one real food, but non-cheat meal.  It's hardly rocket science, though they would have you believe otherwise.  Additionally, they claim that it's not a protein sparing modified fast (though without a shred of logic to support that claim) due to the fact that you'd not be in ketosis (though I think this is a recent addition, as their PWO product Surge didn't exist when I read that article years ago).

 Dave Palumbo- keto advocate and bodybuilder who strangely resembles the bad guy in Cobra.

As some background, the Protein Sparing Modified Fast is a concept that arose in the 1970s as a way to get Precious-type fatties back to human weight in a hurry.  They were characterized by being high in protein (at least in comparison with typical diets), and low in both carbohydrates and fats.  As such, they were intended to preserve what little muscle that land beast had while stripping away the blubber to let their human side show.  You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, however, and some of those non-humans perished in their quest to lose weight due to the fact that the researchers conducting the studies apparently knew very little about nutrition.  The doctor in charge of the diet had his collection of farting, wheezing, pre-Klumps drinking a concoction of his own invention called Prolinn, which "was a liquid protein that provided fewer than 400 calories a day, consisted of ground-up and crushed animal horns, hooves, hides, tendons, bones and other slaughterhouse byproducts that were treated with artificial flavors, colours and enzymes to break them down."(Diets)  From this, we learned that a lack of protein can cause cardiac heart loss and a lack of minerals can cause arrhythmias, which led later experimenters to choose a more suitable protein source and supplement with vitamins and minerals.(MacDonald)  Thus, diets like the Dukan Diet were born, which promotes this as the Attack phase, in addition to the first two iterations of the Velocity Diet and Lyle Macdonald's Rapid Fat Loss Handbook diet.

Apparently this broad is not getting much cock, as the Protein-Sparing bit doesn't appear to have kicked in.

According to Macdonald, the PSMF was the outgrowth of the use of starvation diets to aid in fatloss.  Though they did result in considerable fatloss, starvation diets had the unhappy side effect of rapid muscle loss, which is of course not the goal of any strength athlete.  As such, it's necessary to abate that side effect with regular infusions of protein, which is what PSMF diets aim to achieve- it spares muscular bodyweight from conversion into glucose by providing the body with a source of protein from which it may do so, while at the same time maintaining ketosis.  For this reason, it would seem to go nicely with the diet I'd already had in place, perhaps (as I envisioned it) in a caloric cycling scheme, as I couldn't imagine training the way I do on that sort of a diet.  I did, for a period of a few days, attempt the Velocity Diet.  It fucking sucked.  I was so distracted during my workouts from hunger that I cut them short.  No amount of ephedrine and caffeine would push me through a ninety minute workout of singles and doubles in behind the neck push press without gravely endangering my life.  As such, I deemed the Velocity Diet unsuitable for my goals.

Four months of dieting ago.

But, you might be thinking, "what about losing all of your fat"?  It's simple- I was never a giant fatass.  Although I let my bodyfat creep up to uncomfortable (for me levels in the 12-15% range are about as fat as I'd ever get without being in a coma) levels, I didn't see any reason to sacrifice muscle for fatloss.  Though the title of the diet is "protein sparing", that's not to say that such a diet would preserve mass on a 6-10 workout a week program, especially with the weights I handle.  Additionally, I saw no reason to lose the weight quickly if I could take it off over time and get stronger.  As such, I needed to find a way to keep my saturated fat intake high for optimal hormone levels while accelerating my metabolism with dietary trickery.  In essence, I would have to become the Loki of diet and exercise.

How to become a mythical god of shenanigans? I explained that I found parts of the Warrior Diet to be intriguing, as it's an intermittent fast made popular by the rather convincing Ori Hofmekler.  Hofmekler based his diet on that of the soldiers of the Roman Empire, who ate sparingly throughout the day and feasted at night.  That seemed reasonable to me, and eminently doable, though I was concerned about catabolism during the day.  This is where the Velocity Diet/PSMF came in- provided I kept my calories low throughout the day and simply utilized shakes to offset any catabolism I might encounter from two-a-day workouts, I might be able to combine the fat-burning effects of the undereating phase with the anabolic effects of the overeating phase to achieve both goals simultaneously.  As such, this is similar to what Martin Berkhan espouses, however without the actual starvation and potential catabolism.  Berkhan himself admits there's no clinical evidence to support the theory that catabolism is arrested in IF with heavy weight training, and as I've no interest in conducting that research with my hard-fought muscle and PRs, so I figure there's no harm in hedging like a motherfucker and chugging some protein shakes.
The godfather of IF.

Thus, we come back to paleolithic eating and to the meal itself.  It was, almost to a day, the exact same thing- beef ribs.  The reasoning behind the ribs was initially a revolt by my taste buds against chicken wings, of which I've grown sick after a couple of years of occasional reliance.  I found that beef ribs had a similar macronutrient ratio to the wings, tasted amazing, were high calorie, and had one more thing in common with the meat I'd cast aside- beef ribs are meat on the bone.  Though most people would posit that this is a ridiculous reason to choose a food, I have always found meat on a bone to be far more satisfying than other cuts.  There's something visceral and animalistic about tearing the flesh of an animal from its bones, and although I possess no scholarly evidence to prove it, I'm convinced that this animalistic act has a significant effect on one's psyche and hormonal profile.  In essence, if one wishes to be the apex predator of our forebears, one must eat like that predator, and rip the flesh of their victims from their bones with their teeth.  It's for this reason I started referring to my diet as the Apex Predator Diet, discovering later that another author had a very similar idea himself.

Up next, I'll wrap this motherfucker up with a bit more science, doubtlessly field eleventy million Martin Berkhan questions, and we can move on with our lives.

CBS News.  Diets: A Primer.  CBS NEWS In-Depth.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/food/diets.html
Hofmekler, Ori.  The Warrior Diet.
McDonald, Lyle.  The Ketogenic Diet.
McDonald, Lyle.  The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook.
Berkhan, Martin.  Intermittent Fasting During Weight Loss Preserves Muscle Mass?  http://www.leangains.com/2011/03/intermittent-fasting-for-weight-loss.html

26 October 2011

Beat Them Like A Rented Mule, Or How To Break In Spud Straps

Before I begin what will be one of my shortest posts, I'd like to address what I consider to be a hilarious sentiment propagated around the likes of Bodyspace and other internet message boards- the idea that I promote products because I get paid to do so.  Never in the history of the human word has a theory been so easily debunked, for two reasons:

  1. I am shit poor.  Had I sponsors, you'd have Chaos and Pain t-shirts for $10 bucks apiece on sale nonstop.  I have no cash, and thus have been scrambling around trying to find a way to make the new shirts affordable.  I've got bad news- right now they're looking like $35 shirts.  I'm going to put them up on Zazzle, but I'm not happy about it.  I could give a shit about the $3 I'll make off them and tried to drop it to something like a quarter, but no dice- they have a minimum revenues of 10% of their hideous prices.
  2. No one on Earth is going to sponsor a guy who competes simply to fuck with the other lifters in a sport with which he doesn't even identify himself, nor will they sponsor someone who peppers every over-cited post with scat porn, gangbangs, tits, and more instances of "Fuck" than any 20 minute clip in Goodfellas.  It's not good game, and it's damn sure not good business.  
Clearly, I'm not in it for the money.  Whatever dreams I had about making loot died with the economy in 2008, and I don't like being in anyone's pocket.  I tell people about the things I like simply because I have a forum to do so.  The only revenue stream this site generates is a very tiny one from Amazon, and that's from people checking out my recommendations (which I greatly appreciate).

In any event, in this ATA post I mentioned that I love Spud Inc. Straps.  I discovered these while training at Marc "Spud" Bartley's gym in Columbia, SC, and fell directly in love with them.  They're eminently durable, comfortable once broken in, and I believe confer grip strength due to the fact that they make every move done with their aid a fatbar lift.  When I say durable, I mean that they're the only strap that's lasted me more than 4 months- with every other brand I've tried, they snap mid lift and I end up flat on my back with a bloodied lip right around the beginning of month three.
Spud hitting a 1024 squat.

The key to getting the most out of Spud Straps, however, is to break them in.  This is my highly unofficial and unsanctioned opinion, by the way, so if you ask Spud or Dale at SC they might tell you otherwise.  They answer the phone when you call and represent the pinnacle of avid conversationalists, so they'll doubtless regale you with tales of glory about squatting over 1000 lbs and keep you on the line for hours.  That, or they'll reply to everything in a monotone and somewhat disinterested tone.  Likely the latter, but they know their shit and are definitely good guys.

Initially, Spud Inc.Straps will appear as they do above.  Slightly shiny, very slick, possessing notable and visible ridging, and with a melted end that will tear the skin off your hands like they're Russian mobsters looking for information from some less-than-talkative Yakuza member.  You will bleed profusely from this melty bit.  As such, that's the first thing that needs to go.  
  1. Take your straps outside to the parking lot.  Rub the melted end vigorously on the roughest curb you can find until you've ground the hard edge completely off.  
  2. Then, begin systematically rubbing the surface of the straps along the curb as well, scuffing them until they're no longer shiny.  This will give them more purchase when you wrap them around the bar.
  3. (Optional) while they're looped, run your car over them a couple of times.  This will make them far less stiff, much as it would make even the hardest cock.
  4. Throw them in the washing machine with some dark clothes (what with the dirt that's now on them) or by themselves.
  5. Chalk the everloving shit out of them.  If you think they've got enough chalk on them, they don't.  Run that shit into the fibers so that they become a non-Crossfit version of a chalk bag.  The more chalk, the better your grip.  I rechalk them every three or so uses just to make sure they're good and saturated.
What well-loved straps look like.  The stain on the one on the right is blood.

As you can see, it'll take a bit of work, but it'll be a labor of love.  I could not love a human baby as much as I love those straps.  If you want some, you can get them from Spud's website.  

25 October 2011

Pimpin' Ain't Easy, But Overhead Pressing Is

The B-I-G D-A-double D-Y K-A-N-E

One of my least favorite bodyparts to train, historically, has been my shoulders.  Until the last couple of years they've fucking sucked, and I've almost always had training partners born with sick shoulders who rubbed that fact in my face every time we trained them.  It started in college, where my lifting partner and fellow wrestler had ridiculous shoulders in spite of a workout routine that began with lateral raises and ended with upright rows.  As my traps have dominated my shoulders as long as I can remember, that type of routine did exactly fuckall for me.  Throw on top of that fact that I was weak as Michael Jackson's drug infused corpse at putting weight over my head, and I had a recipe for disaster anytime I tried to do something useful in that regard.  Thus, in spite of the fact that I was benching into the 300s, I struggled to get anything over 200 overhead with a push press of any kind, and jerking was out of the question due to shit flexibility and a lack of confidence that makes that squirrelly kid from Superbad seem like the Dos Equis guy. 
To those of you who've emailed me about adding me on Facebook:
I plan on having my FB profile live on or about the 7th of Never.

Clearly, I don't have this problem any more- if anything, my shoulders are one of my best bodyparts, and are headed in the direction of being some of my strongest as well.  Thus, here is the story of how I got decent weights overhead and built semi-respectable shoulders in the process.
...if the girlies want my tip they gotta pay a fee.

As I stated, my shoulder workouts early on consisted of naught but lateral raises and upright rows.  Why?  Because I listened to Joe Weider, whose advice is really only suited to twinks who have aspirations to gay porn.  Hindsight's a bitch.  Over the years I added more and more pressing movements and reduced my lateral raise work considerably, but I didn't really see true improvement until I quit with the bullshit and began lifting weights over my head in earnest, and with a vengeance.
Take a stand and command to demand what's grand.
The inimitable Maxick was a huge fan of the standing military press, and hit a max of 230 lbs at a bodyweight of 145lbs.  He believed that "an excellent performance in this lift would be one and a half times the lifter's body weight", a fact that has stuck with me since I first read it in 2005.(Maxick 41)  Given that at the time I was hard pressed to even hit my bodyweight (then somewhere in the neighborhood of 175), I rarely even attempted the lift.  As if I were a large, flightless bird native to Africa that closely resembles a dinosaur and is scary as all fucking hell up close, I stuck my head in the ground and ignored it.  At the beginning of 2011, however, I was in the midst of my typical yearly burnout period, and decided that I might as well start working on the lift if, for no other reason, than it would be relatively easy on me.  I soon discovered that I was as bad as I'd expected at it, and couldn't muster more than 5 reps with 155 at the outset.  I kept at it, however, throwing it in at the end of workouts and doing them on my "off" days with fair regularity, and my weights slowly started creeping up.  I focused myself during the lift on maintaining full body rigidity, which is exceptionally hard when you're used to heaving weights around like you're Lattimer in The Program and some broad's been leading you on.
According to Maxick, the military press is done thusly: " the rules provide that the heels must be kept closed, the legs straight, and the body quite erect throughout the lift."(41)  U.S. Olympic Weightlifting coach Mark Berry added the following:
"At present, we recognize two styles of performance, the International and the American, which has been adopted from the British. The two principal points of difference are the position of the feet and the starting position of the bell. In the International style the feet may be kept forty centimeters (about 16 inches) apart; in the American style, the heels are kept together. The American style permits holding the bell at chin level before making the press, where the International calls for the bar to be rested on the chest. Otherwise the actual lift is the same. Keeping the body rigidly erect, the knees locked, and the eyes pointed forward, the bell is pressed slowly overhead to full length of arms."  
Though he's actually describing what we'd now call the strict press and the military press, respectively, that's a hell of a lot different than what you'll usually read about in any physical culture publication when reading about the military press, which typically seems to involve a padded bench, spandex, bronzer, and a whole lotta dude sweat.
Though I've not yet hit Maxick's suggested "elite" bodyweight percentage, I'm headed in the direction.  Quite frankly, even the strongest people I know couldn't hit that weight for a single.  Nevertheless, it's always in the back of my mind as a goal worth achieving.  Like the military press, the strict press is another lift at which I've worked over the last 10 months, and have had reasonable success.  It's performed more or less exactly like the military press, although in later years it became a weird back-bend lift that seems to be more of trick lift version of the bench press than a proper shoulder exercise.  According to Mark Berry,
"the complete lift consists of Cleaning the bell to the starting position, and after a pause of two seconds, pressing it overhead. By flexing the buttocks muscles and locking the hips and thighs, you may assist considerably in the successful completion of a heavy Military Press. Note that instead of encircling the bar with the thumbs as well as the fingers, rest the bar on the thumbs. This grip is especially valuable in the Two Arm Press, as by releasing the thumbs the biceps are kept from exerting a downward pull."  
This thing's ancestors were foxes.  This guy, however, lunged so hard at the cage when the interviewer walked past it that it broke a tooth.  Why?  For the same reason Russians do anything- in the furtherance of evil.

According to one source, the reason for the devolution of this lift was that the Russians are evil.  No one, Russians included, will dispute this, I'm sure, as the Russians have even managed to turn foxes into what they describe as "Dragons" and what any rational person would describe as "KILL THAT MOTHERFUCKING THING RIGHT NOW BEFORE IT EATS US ALL."(Kukekova)  J.V. Askem explained in one article that "The rules [in the 1940s] did not allow for any back bend when performing a press.  However, the Soviet lifters were encouraged by their officials and coaches to ignore this rule, and soon a new form of Press was introduced that became to be known as the "Russian style" Olympic press. This double lay back or back bending style soon crept into international competitions, and with uninformed crowds, thinking such lifts were good, many referees got intimidated into passing bad lifts."  Thus, the strict press came to look thusly:

Frankly, I've never tried that form, but it's done this way: "Lay back start with the knees locked. Thrust forward and upward. Then before the bar slows, lay back a second time as the bar passes through the sticking point. Push hard with the arms during the entire pressing movement. The double "lay back" is used to prevent the bar from slowing. A properly executed Olympic press is a fast lift. However, although not a strict military style press, the Olympic press is also NOT a jerk. It is a lift unique unto itself."(Askem)

Yo, I'm the illest. Plus I know more different strokes than Arnold and Willis.
So, you've got those two to tinker with, onto which you can throw the push press, behind the neck push press, the squat to press, Viking Press, and the overhead walk.  I've covered these in the blogs I've linked, in case you need a refresher on them, but I utilized all of these in my efforts to bring up my overhead press.  Insofar as programming goes, I attempted to utilize at least three of these a week on non-consecutive days, and cannot recall a week other than the occasional deload in which I did fewer than two shoulder workouts. Even on days wherein I felt weak or mildly injured, I typically did Viking Presses on the leg press machine for extra overhead work.  The keys, I feel, to increasing your overhead press are as follows:
  • Consistency and Frequency.  As with just about everything I suggest, consistency and frequency are key.  The more you practice the overhead press, the better you'll get at it.
  • Lockouts.  In the past, I spent far more time focusing on the initial drive, and virtually none with the lockout.  After I began doing overhead lockouts in the rack, I discovered that I enjoyed full-body effects that transcended simple overhead pressing movements.  My stability increased, my bench increased, and my tricep strength increased.  As such, the carryover effect for locking any weight overhead seems to be very, very high.
  • Variability.  Ever the chaotic motherfucker, I've found that mixing it up on these lifts really seemed to improve all of them.  Thus, I never did two lifts in a row, and always tried to do at least one strict and one explosive movement a week.  That ensured I'd avoid staleness, not overload my shoulder girdle, and avoid injuring myself with shit form due to exhaustion.  If I had to guess, I'd say that my improved military press had the greatest carryover to the other movements.  As such, I definitely recommend doing it heavily and often.

You may now commence the pressing.

Askem, J.V.  A Pressing Situation.  http://jva.ontariostrongman.ca/PRESS.htm
Berry, Mark.  Physical Training Simplified.   1930.
Kukekova AV, et al.  Measurement of segregating behaviors in experimental silver fox pedigrees.  Behav Genet. 2008 March; 38(2): 185–194.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2374754/
Maxick.  Great Strength Through Muscle Control.  1913.

20 October 2011

The Evolution Of My Diet #2- The Diet Cometh

A complete lack of testosterone.  Not pictured: Drum circle and hemp clothing.

One of the writers currently in vogue in the popular media is Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma,  In Defense of Food, and Food Rules.  The first two books are actually fairly good reads, although I don't agree with all of Pollan's opinions, and the last is essentially a Cliff's Notes version of the first two.  In essence, Pollan wants the Western world to abandon the processed foods diet that we've recently embraced and return to a more natural (paleo-esque) diet.  That's definitely a concept with which I can get, but his execution and my own vary quite a bit.  In stark contrast to my personal opinion about the true nature of the original human diet, Pollan takes the pacifistic/leftist/liberal/weaksauce point of view that humans are best served by following a near vegetarian diet.  This is of course the opinion du jour of most of the fringe elements with whom I share a marked dislike of the Establishment, but we definitely have oppositional views to food.  As I've posted previously, primitive humans were the ultimate predators, hunting a massive array of pants-shittingly vicious and humongous beasts to extinction with little more than brawny physiques and sharp sticks.
You weren't confronted with this motherfucker on your morning commute because one of your distant ancestors ate his entire family and picked their teeth with that cat's bones.

Though the old adage is that "Form Follows Function", I find that in life most things are circular, and in that very same way I think that dieting and exercise adhere to that circularity.  Thus, you need to eat to look the way you want to perform, which in turn deepens the necessity for that food and training.  As such, when I drastically alter my training or my diet in any way, I find that my appearance an performance suffer.

In spite of this fact, it's a colossal pain in the ass to train and eat the way I do when I'm being extra-serious about strength.  Though many (generally fat and weak) people will contradict this statement, I find that I am typically weaker when I'm fatter, and grow stronger as I lean out.  This is perhaps a result of the fact that I'm much more assiduous about my diet when training hard, and vice-versa, but that again returns to what I consider the circular nature of everything in life.  Thus, it's occurred to me that though Michael Pollan might be right about ditching the modern diet of processed food, he's fucking up by eating like a goddamned bunny.  I don't want to look and act like a like a bunny.  I want to look and act like like the humans of yore- a musclebound predator that strikes fear into the hearts and minds of everyone and everything around me.
A pet hyena might help, but flip flops and a skirt definitely ruin the effect.

As such, I've found that I have need of a diet that will simultaneously lean me out while providing me with the necessary energy to train extremely heavily and frequently.  This is by all accounts a tall order, and to most people is well-neigh impossible.  Conventional wisdom can go fuck itself, however.  Given that half of Americans thought the US "goes too far" in granting rights with the First Amendement, I'm inclined to do the opposite of what everyone thinks.(Paulson)  That's what I decided to do with this diet, as I think it's total horseshit that one couldn't find a way to gain muscle and lose fat if they're re willing to break their ass, do a bit of research, and diet like a crazy person.  Luckily, I'm crazy as a shithouse rat and have a hell of a lot of time on my hands.  The following is the produce of my lack of a social life and insanity.
Insanity's not always a bad thing.  This broad is crazier than a bag of wet cats.

Obviously, at the very root of my diet is Paleolithic nutrition.  As I mentioned before, the people of the Paleolithic era definitely seemed to know what was up.  They were considerably larger, had greater cranial capacities and more muscle than the modern human, and produced impressive architecture without the aid of modern machinery.  (Wiki, Hirst, Addendum)  As such, it would stand to reason that an effort to emulate those apex predators that our forebears were would be to eat like them.  There appears to be a bit of confusion about what exactly constitutes paleo however, and varies widely according to which author you read.

On the one side there are the hard-liners like Ray Audette, who advocate eating nothing but lean meats, vegetables, northern fruits, and nuts, and eschewing all else.  On the other side of the spectrum, you've got authors like S. Boyd Eaton, who basically advocated the Mediterranean Diet in 1988 with his Paleolithic Prescription.  In the middle you'd got the keto-paleo guys like Robb Wolff, Mark Sisson, and Art DeVany, and headed in the direction of Eaton you've got probably the most recognized paleo author, and the one with (in my opinion) the most polished academic credentials, Loren Cordain.
Pauline Nordin- paleo dieter and all-around bad ass hot chick.(Addendum)

The reason behind all of the apparent confusion behind the nature of the paleolithic diet are two things: money and geography.  Cordain's academic work explains the latter fairly simply:the proportions of plant and animal food in hunter gatherer diets range from a low of 26% protein and 74% plant among the Gwi of Africa to a high of 99% animal / 1% plant with the Nunamiut of Alaska.  8 out of the 13 cultures he outlined ate 68% of their calories as meat, while another 3 ate 41-48% meat and 2 ate less than 41% meat.(Ungar 368)  Throw on top of that the fact that our knowledge about the foods ate in the paleolithic change rather frequently, and you get a geographic and temporal gradient and sundry disparities in the makeup of the "diet".  As such, it's difficult to claim one universal "paleo" diet.  That's where the second issue comes in- money.  Because one can semi-rightly claim that any nonsense that happens to issue forth from their money-dirtied fingers is ostensibly paleo,  all of the aforementioned authors probably (and in Cordain's case, definitely) made concessions to what they likely considered their target audiences.  As such, Wolff went with paleo for the meatheads and Eaton went carb-crazy for the chubby housewives.  For them, it was win win, but for anyone trying to make sense of their lunacy, it's a bitch.
Who could say no to this other than Ray Audette?

As you'll recall from previous blogs, I've long been a fan of ketogenic diets (you can now search past blogs with the search bar on the right, so I no longer have to link every motherfucking thing I've ever written).  Though I've credited Bodyopus with giving me the kick in the ass I needed to start the diet, it was actually the fact that I was sick to fucking death of dieting on chicken breasts and turkey lunchmeat (in a sort of PSMF) and awoke craving the fuck out of breakfast sausage one winter day around 1997.  That's actually what got me to start my experiment.  I've had generally positive but mixed success with them over the years, and found that my previous extreme fatloss on a high calorie ketogenic diet was not easily replicated when sitting behind a desk at work.  As such, I did a bit of research.  I realized that while the calorie-festival style keto approach I had taken in the past worked while I was more active (as were people in the paleolithic era), it was not serving me well while I spent the vast majority of my waking hours chained to a desk, writing scripts in SQL and trying to explain financial accounting software to people who should already know what they're fucking doing, since that's their industry.  From this, I discovered that impotent rage is neither anabolic nor metabolically stimulating, and came to the conclusion that I was going to have to rethink my return to awesome.
Looking like an ancient tank is a fairly compelling basis for a diet, frankly.

In my musings, I mulled the concept that people have not been historically capable of finding and eating protein in regularly-spaced intervals throughout the day.  This brought me to the concept of fasting, which is currently popular in LeanGains and formerly popular in the Warrior Diet.  It occurred to me that something like the Warrior Diet might be the ticket to fatloss, provided I combined it with a ketogenic evening splurge rather than Ori's grain-filled bonanza, given my natural predisposition towards keto dieting.  In the WD, one is generally suppose to eat very little or nothing throughout the day, which ostensibly simulates the body's fight or flight response.  While I found that to be a fairly interesting concept, I was unprepared to go all in with that sort of craziness without a bit of trial run.  My trial run, I decided, would be the Velocity Diet, one of the major T-Nation products.

This trial lasted precisely three days, in which I came to but one conclusion:  not eating SUCKS.

As this is running very long, I'll stop here and hit you guys this weekend with the remainder of my experimentation and the ultimate result.

1. Cities like Göbekli Tepe and Çatalhöyük.  The latter was a 10,000 year old city that was home to as many people as lived in London in the early middle ages, but with what appears to be a much higher standard of living, and in which there is no evidence of the consumption of grains until the end of its 2000 year existence. The former, along with Nevali Cori, is over 11,000 years old and is one of the oldest man-made structures on Earth.  For those feminists out there, all of these cultures appeared to worship the Mother Goddess, and all show signs of having been egalitarian societies without gender or class differentiation.

2. Paline Nordine's diet is called the Fighter Diet and is more or less a mashup of the Dukan Diet and paleo dieting.  Check out descriptions here and here if you're interested.


CBC News.  Diets: A Primer.  CBC News Online, 5/17/2004.
Hirst, K. Kris.  Why Don't We Call Them Cro-Magnon Anymore? http://archaeology.about.com/od/earlymansites/a/cro_magnon.htm
MacDonald, Lyle.  Rapid Fat Loss Handbook.  2005.
Paulson, Ken.  Too Free?  American Journalism Review, 2002.  http://ajr.org/article.asp?id=2621
Pollan, Michael.  Food Rules.  New York:  Penguin, 2009.
Ungar, Peter S., ed.  Evolution of the Human Diet: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Wikipedia. Çatalhöyük.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%87atalh%C3%B6y%C3%BCk
Wikipedia.  Cro-Magnon.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cro-Magnon

13 October 2011

The Evolution Of My Diet

Some people think throwing a bunch of diets in a blender is a giant pile of horseshit.  I, however, think that most people should keep their fucking teeth together most of the time because they have the analytical and general cognitive skills of a low-achieving turnip.  A turnip jammed up the ass of a fat, hairy, drunken Moldovan with a penchant for buggary and an unwillingness to wash his genitals for the last several years.  A turnip who chose that situation as ideal, because that turnip has particularly bad decision making abilities, even for a turnip.  I've blogged at length in the past about the theories of biological individuality and metabolic typing, both of which have played major roles in my dietary formulations and experimentation.  For those of you who'd like a primer on them, here's a bit of a rundown:
All up in his ass.

Biochemical Individuality is the theory that "Every individual organism that has a distinctive genetic background has distinctive nutritional needs which must be met for optimal well-being." (Williams, 190)  Though the concept of human individuality is treated like the kiddie-touching Uncle at a family reunion in the modern era of egalitarianism, it's been noted by anyone with eyes throughout history that humans vary widely in size, shape, and color, both inside and out.  For instance, English surgeon and possible scat-obsessed necrophiliac Frederich Traves noted that intestinal lengths in human corpses he studied varied between 15 and 31 feet, and that colons varied in similar ways.  (Wharton, 184)  In BI, Williams goes on to note that humans aren't simply limited to wide variations in intestinal length, but that there are differences in terms of orders of magnitude between the size, shape, and location of organs throughout the human body, and that these differences account for massive discrepancies between the function of each person's individual biological systems.
Ava Cowan.  Who gives a shit what type she is?  She's the right type.

Metabolic Typing (the modern version) is the brainchild of William Wolcott and derives its basis from the aforementioned biochemical individuality, in addition to a landslide of historical precedent.  It states that there are three primary human genotypes in terms of dietary necessity- Protein, Mixed, and Carbo.  Essentially, the theory is that once you determine which of the three types you are and eat accordingly, you'll achieve optimal health.  More on that one to come in a subsequent blog, but for what I've posted already, go here, here, and here.

These two theories have played massive roles in my personal dietary development, and have thus guided my research into various dietary regimes.  Given that I've a penchant for investigating a massive array of esoterica, I've managed to combine those theories with a bunch of others to come up with my own personal system.  I've found, however, that even within an individual, you'll have significant variation in what will work over time, which I attribute to aging, differing work loads and types (both in the workplace and the gym), stress, hormonal fluctuations, and probably the position of stellar bodies.  As such, I've found the need to constantly reinvent myself from a dietary perspective.
Earlier this year, I realized that my previous diet that consisted of naught but chicken wings was 1) failing me in terms of fat loss and 2) boring as all hell.  Having utilized beef ribs in their stead quite a bit while dieting for my last meet, I decided to incorporate them into my newest dietary plan.  In an effort to drop weight quickly, I decided to give the original Velocity Diet a shot.  If nothing else, I figured that it would be far cheaper than my typical mealplan, and couldn't possibly fail to take some of my unwanted adipose tissue off of my midsection in particular.  What I found, however, was that I was so hungry during my lifts that I was distracted, and literally found myself fantasizing about eating.  Thus, I set about to find something that might work better for a guy who trains between 6 and 12 times a week, rather than the 5 weak-sauce workouts recommended by the T-Nation Staff. [ed- I've since discovered that there's a VD 3.0, which is not a protein sparing modified fast like the previous incarnations]
Bukkake's Japanese for "Protein Sparing Modified Fast"

Skipping over the science for the moment, as I'm running short on time and want to get this motherfucker published, is the following:

Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: 
5-6 protein shakes throughout the day (and one overnight, which I'd leave on the toilet and chug while peeing).  I usually had Monster Milk in the morning, and followed that with Muscle Infusion throughout the day.  If I did a morning workout, it was a short workout (20 mins) usually consisting of one arm deadlifts, and I usually did not have a pre-workout shake.  On two of these four days I typically substitute one shake at lunch with wings or other no-carb meat.
2-4 lbs of beef ribs with a dry rub post workout.
This was Deadliest Warrior night (and now that the season is tragically over, Call of Duty night), so I'd go to a buddy's house, grill either bone in Ribeye or T-bones, and eat .75 to 1 lbs of those instead of the ribs.

This was cheat meal day, so I'd usually make 1 lb of 94% lean ground beef as taco meat, and eat it on low-carb tortillas for two meals.  My post-workout meal was usually some kind of sugary protein bar like a Met-Rx Big 100, and I'd usually have either another protein bar or a shake as a 4th meal.  My 5th meal was my cheat meal, which consisted of the usual culprits, and I generally avoided sugary foods.
This would be one of my typical keto days, wherein I'd have the beef ribs at night, and would usually have 10 Hooters' Spicy Garlic Wings for lunch.  Dinners were either ribs or more wings, and I'd make up the balance with shakes.

For this one, I more or less avoided drinking the entire time, as once I saw the fat coming off and my lifts going way up, I didn't want to fuck with what was working.
Me, directly out of bed after eating my fucking face off all day on my birthday.

Where did this diet get me?  I'm floating between 195 and 200 lbs, lean, and stronger than I've ever been.  Up next, I'll hit you guys with the entire rationale and science behind why this diet works for me, and why it might work for you, followed by an Ask the Asshole, a training article, and the finale to my until-now abandoned Metabolic Typing series.

Wharton, Charles Heizer.  Metabolic Man.  Orlando: WinMark Publishing, 2001.
Williams, Roger. Biochemical Individuality.  Austin: University of Texas Press, 1956.

07 October 2011

I Think This Is Officially Middle Aged- Random Shit I've Learned

When I told someone recently that I was going to be 35 today, they nearly shit their pants, which was a pretty cool reaction.  I suppose half of that is due to the fact that I'm fairly immature, owing to a near-complete lack of responsibility for anything other than myself, and the rest of it owing to my appearance.  Nevertheless, it was pretty cool compliment.  

My lifts and the way I look are entirely the product of doing a hell of a lot of research and experimentation over the years- I've never had a coach, only sporadically had lifting partners, and rarely consulted the internet beyond T-Nation scintilla of lifting information.  Instead, I read actual physical publications, and though they ranged from relatively shitty things like Muscle & Fitness to Men's Health, I've compiled a fairly impressive library of actual strength training and nutrition resources, and have scoured every library and bookstore for more information.  Despite all that research, I've found that a lot of my best discoveries come from just walking into the gym and trying random shit.  The following is a non-comprehensive listing of that information, with one point that will shock the living shit out of those of you who've been reading this blog for a while.
  • There's no such thing as "pointless" strength training.  I see a lot of bullshit on strength boards wherein people posit that strength training without a definable goal is "pointless".  This is, of course, utter fucking nonsense.  If you're engaging in anything that could be reasonably construed as strength training, you're building strength, and there's your point.  Most people are never going to compete in the world championships of any strength event, and as such should concern themselves with doing something they enjoy to ensure they'll keep doing it over time.  There's no sense forcing yourself through endless workouts of drudgery and incremental improvement if you don't enjoy them, especially when there's all sorts of random fun shit you could be doing in the gym instead.  Thus, there's absolutely nothing to stop you from doing six weeks of squat lockouts every fucking day for two hours if that's what you enjoy.  Frankly, you probably couldn't do much better than shit like that if that's what you enjoy- supports are one of the best ways to improve muscularity and strength on Earth, and provided you're not going to be competing in full-range events, doing them exclusively would be an interesting experiment.
  • While I'm on the subject, I've found in the last couple of years that one of the surefire ways I know of to lose muscle mass in spite of great training and diet is to eschew heavy supports.  This might not apply to everyone on Earth, but I know for a fact if I skip squat lockouts and partial deads/shrugs, I will lose bodyweight- it's more of a sure bet than it is that it would be to get Hepatitis if you showed up on Courtney Love's doorstep with a hard cock and a big bag of heroin.  If you want to gain weight, eating big and doing ultra heavy squat lockouts is a fucking lock.  If you want to lose bodyweight, I'd skip the lockouts for a while.  
  • On the subject of losing bodyweight, I intended to blog about this ages ago and don't think I ever did.  The first time I got really honestly ripped was when I lived in Vienna, and did so by doing nothing more than following Chad Waterbury's routines and eating a mostly paleo diet.  Should you want to see your lower abs in fairly short order, try the following- eat 1 kg of chicken breast a day in chicken broth with .5 kg mix of cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots every day, in addition to a couple of protein shakes.  Post workout I always ate a big fucking turkey durum kebap with nothing on it but turkey and as much hot sauce as they'd put on the thing.  Given that we're not awash in Turks in the US, my fellow Yankees likely have no fucking clue what a turkey durum kebap is, which is a motherfucking shame, as it's pretty much the greatest culinary feat man's yet achieved.  It's essentially shaved turkey in a burrito with some salad, Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce, and hot sauce.  I skipped all of the nonsense, however, and got right to the meat of things.  Yes, I am a witty motherfucker.  Once a week, I'd eat some pizza, and drank enough Jagermeister once or twice a week to drown a small village.  With that, I got down to 165 lbs and leaner than I'd ever been, even while wrestling 134 in college.  I've uploaded Waterbury's programs to Mediafire for you guys here and here in case you want to check them out.  Before you ask me which ones I did to get lean, try fucking experimenting first.
You guys were expecting scat porn, weren't you?  Sick fuckers.
  • Before you take a shit on Waterbury, remember that your mind can be your Yoda or your Emperor.  Closing yourself off to shit just makes you look like a fucking dick, especially if you've not even given the shit a shot.  Additionally, too much negativity can and will get the best of you.  I've blogged about this phenomenon a bunch, but I've noticed even in the last few months that I'll find myself stuck for months on a given weight or a given number of reps on a weight for no reason other than the fact that my brain tells me to stop, even while my body tells me to keep going.  That's one of the weirdest revelations I've had in the gym, but it's also one of the most poignant- I literally went from doing 5 reps on 275 on the bench to 12 in two sets, after realizing that there was nothing on Earth stopping me from doing more.  I spent the rest of that morning workout doing death sets with 275, just to grind into my brain the fact that even half awake, I could make 275 my punk bitch for a shitload of reps anytime I fucking want.  The following day I talked to another guy at my gym who is fucking gibungous, but whose squat had always been a fucking embarrassment.  Simply from my chiding and encouragement, he stopped thinking 405 was the end-all be-all of squatting and jumped up to a double with 600 in a month.  Not only that, but he did the reps to depth in spite of godawful bodybuilding form and the fact that he's a bodybuilder.  His legs have been growing like crazy since, as he realized that the only thing holding him back was his brain.  
Motherfuckers set off the lunk alarm on me on my second warmup set on bench at this very Planet Fitness.  In the Smith Machine.  
  • Your brain's ability to beat you isn't simply internal, lest you start thinking that you just suck and should have your parents take you out behind the shed and put you out of their misery- your gym is likely a huge part of the problem.  With the movement towards "fitness" in gyms, the environment in which most of you hoist weight is likely only conducive to getting a beach body and fucking around on the treadmill.  As such, you'll have to do what you can to combat that.  Getting a little evil would probably not hurt.
Shit certainly worked for Charles Bronson.

  • Your brain can also produce some cool shit and shouldn't always be ignored.  For instance, you can come up with some random and ridiculous ways to cut bodyfat if you'd spend a little time thinking about it.  One of the things with which I credit my recent fatloss, aside from the four months of dieting, tons of two a days, and stimulant overuse is pretty stupid-sounding, but I swear it helped- I started standing up while playing Call of Duty.  Though that sounds asinine, I've spent a lot of Friday nights playing eight hours of Call of Duty, and did it all standing up.  I noticed fat started coming off much faster when I began doing that, so I started doing it all the time.  Danny Bonaduce had some similar ideas, and credited dumbass games like Dance Dance Revolution with his ability to stay super lean as he got older.  Other things I've noticed help with fat loss are taking walks, which I did a fuck of a lot of in Europe and of which I've done a lot in the last month while dogsitting, and fucking. I can say with the utmost certainty that when I'm fucking a couple of times a day on the regular, I'm lean without even trying.  Really, really lean.  Whether that's due to the combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise or the raised testosterone or a combination of all three I've no idea, but if someone'd like to fund that study I will be the first asshole in line.

  • Though I doubt the last bit came as a revelation to anyone, this will come as a bit of a shock- I'm fairly certain that mixing cable or band crossovers into your workouts here and there raises your bench press considerably.  I know it does mine.  I actually started doing them when I was casted up from elbow/tricep surgery two years ago, as it was just about the only thing I could do while in a cast to hit my chest.  I continued doing them after I got out, as I skipped PT altogether and rehabbed myself, and I thought that my constant aggressive rehab might fall into the category of "outright fucking retarded" if I started benching too soon.  As such, I just stuck with doing band crossovers as much as humanly possible.  I kept doing them while living in South Carolina, but after leaving there, I dropped them from my workouts... and my bench dropped with them.  In attempting to get my bench back out of the fucking gutter this year, I came to the realization that I'd dropped crossovers and added them back in, and lo and behold, my bench has gone through the roof.  My birthday tradition is to bench 10 times my age without a warmup, which I had to modify this year due to a niggling pain in my left pec when benching of late.  As such, I did three warmup sets and then did a paused rep with 350 for this birthday, which was easy as all hell.  While I don't credit crossovers for this in it's entirety, I will say that I think they've helped.  As for how much and when, I generally do them as part of my light AM workout two or three times a week.  I go pretty light, get a deep stretch, and do sets of twelve froma variety of angles.  I'm also a big fan of doing them unilaterally, so I hold one hand in the contracted position, do a rep with the other, and switch.  In case that's unclear, here's another description- start a  rep on the crossover, and hold it in the contracted position.  Then, return to the stretch position and then the contracted with your right arm, hold that in the contracted position, and do your left.  
Also, Roland Cziurlok was a big fan of crossovers, as I recall, and that dude had one of the sickest chests ever.
  • Finally, if I've learned one thing in the last 18 years that I'd say is of the utmost importance to impart upon other people, it's that you should give no fucking thought whatsoever to what other people are doing, and even less thought to what they think of what you're doing.  Without question, that sounds pompous and solipsistic, but it's fucking true.  People, by and large, go out of their fucking way to suck, and try hard to make you suck with them.  They'll fight you tooth and nail on the latter, as they resent the shit out of the fact that you excel, as it sets the bar that much higher and reminds them of their myriad inadequacies.  Thus, insofar as lifting goes, ignore everyone around you and do what you want.  It's a near certainty that if they object it's out of fear or jealousy or a combination thereof, and it's even more likely that they've got no fucking clue what they're doing anyway.  In short- fuck everyone.  Fight hard, fuck hard, study hard, play hard, lift hard, and generally be hard.  Enjoy yourself, and be awesome.  Everything else is bullshit.

02 October 2011

Shit You've Probably Never Tried- The Trap Bar Carry

In the past, I've looked at the trap bar mostly as an annoyance in the gym.  Kids who use them are typically weak as shit, leave the bar wherever the fuck they want and rarely unload the two to four massive plates they load on it.  Additionally, the vast majority of trap bars can't hold enough weight to make their use worthwhile, so they've simply been a speedbump to my workouts because they're in the fucking way.  I have, however, fallen in love with precisely one exercise that can be done with a trap bar in a variety of ways, and it rules harder than than Vlad the Impaler in his forest of impaled bums- the Trap Bar Carry.
Jesus tittyfucking Christ.

Unlike the methodology espoused by Stuart McRobert, which encourages people to deadlift on the trap bar because they're great for people too weak to actually lift weights (like the super tactical toughguy pictured above), my thought process on the trap bar goes like this- if you're strong, you're likely too strong for most trap bars.  In spite of this fact, there's got to be some way to make the giant hunk of metal darkening the corner of your gym and providing spiders with an ideal breeding ground useful.  So, when bored and sick of doing the same basic shit day in and day out 8 to 12 times a week for the last few months, I loaded that fucker up and started walking around with it, and I discovered something- it was a hell of a lot of fun.

We're not talking orgy with midgets, porn stars, midget porn stars, and a circus freaks fun, but it was a damn sight more fun than doing whatever the hell it is most people do in the gym.

If only.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who's come to the conclusion that this is the only truly useful purpose for Stuart McRobert's masterbatory fantasy about a 400 lb deadlift.  Author Craig Weller recommends these as well, though I think he'd take issue with my form- he recommends doing these considerably lighter than I do (doesn't everyone?), and with extremely strict form.  It's just about the most primitive movement one could imagine, however, so primitive form works for me.  Bob Peoples in all of his round-backed glory would agree with me, I believe, so fuck Craig Weller.  Actually, Weller's article is pretty good- I stumbled across it while looking for Dan John's article on the same topic, and he's the only other person who seems to have written about the trap bar walk.  Unlike Weller, I actually loaded the thing with weights, but he's got some great ideas for other loaded carries if you're inclined to use small weights and wear Vibrams, such as:

This saddens me.

The Underwater Rock Carry- "Take your rock, carry it as far as you can into the water from the beach, and then sprint with it under water while your partner swims on the surface. Once you’re out of oxygen, come up to the surface and switch out with your partner. Alternate in this fashion until you reach a set distance, like a depth of water you no longer feel like diving to, and then return."

How else would you carry a yak carcass up a mountain?

Sherpa Skull Carry-"While backpacking in Nepal, I spent quite a bit of time with the Himalayan Sherpas, and they have an interesting means of carrying double (and sometimes more) their bodyweight up the mountain. Their packs are so heavy that they couldn’t use standard shoulder straps because the weight would pull them over backward. Instead, they run a strap from the bottom of their pack up that loops around the head, and allows them to carry the brunt of the weight using the skull and neck. This helps them to keep the weight centered well enough forward to balance and maintain a steady pace up the mountain."

Brutal as those suggestions are, they're about as practical as wearing a cotton candy condom at an all-anal gangbang in Swaziland.  Instead, I suggest doing one of the following, which are my favorite ways to do trap bar carries:

Beast Mode- Load the bar with an appreciable percentage of your one rep max on the deadlift.  I ended up working up to 600 and doing a number of these.  I'd venture to guess my 1rm on the trap bar deadlift is at or around 650-660, so 600 was about 90% of my 1RM.  Walk as far as you can with it, which is probably not going to be all that far.  Rest and repeat until you feel like you might shit out your guts- this was about 90 minutes for me, including all of my lighter, longer distance reps.

Rocky Mode- If you read my Rocky vs. Clubber Lang blog, you'll know I rarely train with a partner.  This exercise, however, is an exception.  Doing this exercise with a lighter weight than you would for beast mode and a partner lets you do a bit of metabolic conditioning, as you can do carries for distance and rest only the amount of time it takes for your partner to go the distance, as it were.  If you happen to have a partner not quite on the same superhuman level as yourself, it's no skin off your upper lip- just adapt and overcome.  The guy with whom I've done these in my gym can get across the gym, Beast mode style, with 315.  As such, I carry the bar in a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio in terms of gym lengths to his- I'll go down and back twice to his single trip.  This gives him an opportunity to recover and me the opportunity to get in a decent amount of time under tension.

"So why do them?", you might be asking yourself.  If "because they're awesome isn't compelling enough for you, perhaps this is: weighted carries like the trap bar deadlift carry can have a profound carryover effect to your deadlift, due in large part to the fact that the deadlift is a show movement that doesn't rely on a stretch reflex (unlike the squat).  According to Mike Tuscherer, isometrics are excellent for this sort of an exercise, and given the fact that the carry portion of this movement is, for all intents and purposes, an isometric, it should help your deadlift considerably.(Tuscherer 34)  The fact that it combines a variety of movements just adds icing to this awesome cake.

Weighted carries also have the benefit of increasing the amount of muscular tension over your entire body, the quality of which "determines how big and strong you can become", according to Charles Poliquin.  (Poliquin 47)  Lifting weights at 90% or more of your 1RM results in the maximum hypertrophy in Type IIb muscle fibers, as does slowing down the tempo of your repetitions, both of which occurs when you're doing an exercise along the lines of a weighted carry with extremely heavy weights.  (Poliquin 48-50)  According to Dan John, loaded carries will allow you to "build more muscle faster, drop fat quicker, and kick any ass on any field of play" and recommends doing them three times per week.

Seems to be working for me- this was last Saturday at 196 lbs.

In short, trap bar carries are awesome, and you should start working them into your workouts, stat.

Bondarchuk, Anatoliy.  Transfer of Training In Sports. Michigan:  Ultimate Athlete Concepts, 2007.

Tuscherer, Mike.  The Reactive Training Manual.

Weller, Craig.  Weighted Carries for Size and Strength.  http://www.wannabebig.com/training/weighted-carries-for-size-and-strength/