21 December 2011

Ask The Asshole #11: I Got A Lotta Mo

I've been besieged with emails recently, and I know I've promised to expand on my answers to a lot of people, but have lost their emails amidst the flurry of random questions I get asked that are usually simply answered by READING THE FUCKING BLOG.  If you are one of the people I promised to include in the ATA, email me again to remind me and I'll do another.  For the rest of you, here you fucking go.

Q: From Reddit: "I also don't know about the whole cold water thing, seems like a silly hack." "I don't know, it just seems like some major bro science, or an insignif hack."

A: The shit I post, for anyone who's keeping score, is as about as "broscience" as I am inclined to chase Type 2 diabetes by drinking Kool Aid and eating chitterlings while listening to Ja Rule.  Prior to this accusation, I didn't even know what the fuck "bro science" was, since I avoid lifting message boards like the plague they fucking are.   I did, however, cite more than one source on it when I mentioned it in a previous blog on cutting. For those of you in the dark, allow me to bring you up to speed-  I once mentioned that Tim Ferriss pointed out that the application of cold packs to one's upper back increases their rate of fat metabolism.  Ferriss initially experimented with ice baths, but found that he could get much of the benefit with far less of the unpleasantness with an ice pack applied to the upper back, which is the repository for one's brown fat stores.  According to Ferris,

"Not all fat is equal. There are at least two distinct types: white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT).  WAT is what we usually think of as fat, like the marbling on a steak. A WAT cell—an adipocyte —is composed of a single large fat droplet with a single nucleus.
BAT, in contrast, is sometimes referred to as “fat-burning fat” and appears to be derived from the same stem cells as muscle tissue. A BAT cell is composed of multiple droplets that are brown in color because of a much higher volume of iron-containing mitochondria. Normally associated with muscle tissue, mitochondria are best known for producing ATP and oxidizing fat in muscle tissue. BAT helps dissipate excess calories as heat. These excess calories would otherwise be stored in the aforementioned WAT and end up in your beer gut or muffin top.   In a nutshell: cold stimulates BAT to burn fat and glucose as heat. Cold, as well as drugs called beta-adrenergic agonists,19 can also make BAT appear within WAT in mice and rats. In other words, cold might help you increase the amount of your “fat-burning” fat. This has tremendous implications." (4 Hour Body)

Hot-as-balls Ironman winner Hillary Biscay is a fan

As everyone's apparently fucking retarded and completely incapable of doing their own research, I did it for them.  Again.  Wonder why you're fat as shit and can't put your bodyweight overhead, Redditors?  It is probably due to the fact that you're so goddamned indolent you can't type a sentence into a fucking Google search bar.  Before you guys do the right thing and shuffle off that mortal coil for shaming your family, consider this: One source I found stated that "resting metabolic rate was positively correlated with brown-adipose-tissue activity both under thermoneutral conditions and during cold exposure, indicating that brown-adipose-tissue activity is involved in energy metabolism." (Lichtenbelt, et al)  In other words, the more you activate brown fat activity to regulate your body temperature, the faster your metabolism goes. Another study supported this, stating that 
"Prolonged cold exposure causes the adaptive recruitment of NST (non-shivering thermogenesis) capacity by hyperplasia of brown adipose tissue and by hypertrophy of mature brown adipocytes which results in a severalfold increase in the capacity for NST.  Early studies demonstrated that in cold-acclimated animals brown adipose tissue may dissipate heat at a power of 300–400 W kg -1 tissue, and contributes more than ~60–70 % of total NST (Foster & Frydman, 1979; Heldmaier & Buchberger, 1985; Puchalski et al. 1987). This emphasized the outstanding importance of this thermogenic organ for NST, but also suggested the existence of other unknown mechanisms and sites of NST in the body."  (Klingenspor)
Thus, Ferriss's assertions that the application of cold to one's BAT would seem to have merit, wouldn't they?  If you're still unconvinced, perhaps Ferriss's cites might sway you.  

I love giant asses.

Q: What's your fucking deal with Rippetoe, anyway? You guys agree on just about everything. Are you just trying to stir up controversy or [sic] somthing?

A: Actually, no. A lot of people have taken the comments I've made about Rippetoe to be personal, which they're not, and I highly doubt he'd give a shit even if they were. The guy appears, by all acounts, to be reasonably cool. Frankly, anyone who walks around the gym brandishing a machete has to be at least somewhat awesome. My problem with Rippetoe stems from his proclamations and admonitions surrounding overtraining. From my perspective, he spends just as much time attempting to instill fear of overtraining into his beginning trainees as he does encouraging them to do useful exercise. As such, the net result of his recommendations is nil.

"We believe that adaptation occurs on a sliding scale that varies with the level of existing work tolerance and the proximity to individual genetic potential. Someone far away from genetic potential (the novice) will adapt quickly, within about 72 hours, as a stressor large enough to disrupt such an individual's homeostasis is not really all that large and is recoverable from within that time frame. On the other end of the spectrum, the advanced trainee might require one to three months, and possibly longer, to adapt to a training stress that is sufficiently large and cumulative to exceed his highly developed work tolerance." (PP, 25-26)"Stage 3 - Exhaustion. If the stress on the body is too great,either in magnitude or frequency, the body will be unable to adequately adapt and exhaustion will occur. Selye posited that an overwhelming stress of one to three months in duration could cause death. This is an interesting observation if we consider maximal exercise to be an overwhelming stress. In practice, this is most applicable to intermediates and advanced trainees and means that a period of relentless maximal work of four weeks or longer should be avoided. The bottom line is that no one wants to be in Stage 3, which we typically call "overtraining.""(PP, 26)
All of this arises out of the astonishingly ancient theory by Hans Selye entitled "General Adaptation Syndrome" that dates to 1936.  This is rather hilarious, given the fact that Rippetoe has stated repeatedly that he has no faith in sports science.  As such, the man's theories about the body's recuperative abilities are based on an incomplete grasp of physiology and a strong belief that you fucking suck at life.
This man makes Rippetoe cry himself to sleep at night.

Contrast this with the opinions of people who've actually produced champions, like Abadjiev, who stated that "'In Bulgaria, many other sports disciplines were built on the methods developed by the Soviet experts. The main concept is distinct periodisation, preparation stage, interim stage and competition stage... I threw it away... Is it logical to achieve outstanding results by hard work and then stop and go back to a lower level?” Unlike Rippetoe's model, which is based upon classic Russian periodization that forces layoffs and deloads, Abadjiev suggests that lifters never stray too far from their peak performance weights.  His results produced decades of champions- Rippetoe's produced a lot of pretentious dickheads who would lose a fight to a cardboard cutout of me sleeping, and who actually believe, contrary to everything we know about successful lifters ever, that "the stronger an athlete becomes, the more susceptible he becomes to overtraining." (SS 189)  While he does allow that more advanced trainees can add more sessions over time, he still spends far more time focusing on the dangers of overtraining than he does the aggressiveness with which one must pursue their goals in order to achieve greatness.  

To wit, he dusts off periodization, the unloved brainchild of the Eastern Bloc, and recommends a deload after every cycle, each of which is approximately one month in length.  For those of you who doubt this,  "during weeks five through eight, the trainee is actually "resting" from the previous high-training volume work."(PP 211) The high volume work? It's three days a week, with weights varying from 62%-82.5% of their 1RM and culminates with 25 reps with 85% of the lifter's one rep max.  Yes, I think we can all agree you'd need a three week recovery period after that horrifyingly heavy month.  Additionally, he recommends "a week or two of "active rest" or less frequent training with moderate weights is a good idea between cycles to assure that the trainee is rested and ready to undergo another period of stressful training."(PP 212)  Is it any fucking wonder I think the guy is full of shit?  I've trained heavier and harder in a cast from shoulder to arm the same week I had fucking surgery than his lifters train when healthy, in a "peaking" week.  It's fucking embarrassment and a slap in the face to humanity, who he apparently thinks is weak and lazy.

Finally, I don't know of a single elite lifter who credits Ripp with his success, and Ripp wasn't a particularly good lifter.  As such, I'm leery of taking his recommendations and find it odd that other people aren't.  I suppose their hesitance to question the mighty Rippetoe stems from fear of ostracization and a fear of hard work, combined with low self-esteem, possible impotence, and probably fatness.

Q: Anyway, my reason for writing is that a couple of months ago I was hit by a car that didn't look for pedestrians as it ran a red light. I was very lucky in that the only injuries I sustained were a dislocated shoulder and bruising up and down my legs. I had shoulder stabilisation surgery at the start of September and I want to start to get back into training in the next few weeks. The problem that I have is that I'm struggling to find any decent articles, books or blogs on recovery and lifting after surgery that was written by someone that wasn't weak in the first place. Do you happen to know of any articles or books on the subject that was written by someone with a clue?

A: I had surgery to repair a torn tricep and broken elbow spur two years ago, and I was back in the gym within a couple of days. I blogged about it here and here. When I was recovering, I focused almost exclusively on legs, and they benefited greatly from the attention- we're talking 8-10 times a week, and blogged about that here. My squat went through the roof, and I kept myself in damn good condition considering. Additionally, I worked a lot on my uninjured side with unilateral stuff, as I've read somewhere (although I can't find where I've blogged about it or the study) that you get compensatory growth along the lines of 75% across your midline. Thus, train everything but that arm. The only citations I could find on the subject, and they are legion, concern compensatory hypertrophy in kidneys and testes.  One thing to bear in mind, however, is that unless your your physical therapist is a strength athlete, they likely knows fuckall about PT for athletes.

 This guy, however, knows fucking everything.

Q: This is out of nowhere, but do you have any thoughts on fermented foods like yogurt? (not the sugary shit from the grocery store obviously)

A: Fermented foods are, by all accounts, fucking awesome for you.  Fermentation is actually the means by which ruminants begin their digestion, and is thus considered a more natural form of food preparation for vegetables than cooking.  According to  Charles Heizer Wharton, "A final major contribution of traditional diets is lacto-fermentation.  Lactic acid is a natural preservative produced by bacteria, usually lactobacilli.  The process enabled our forebears to preserve vegetables without freezers or canning.  Lactic acid not only enhances the enzyme content of vegetables but also apparently increases vitamin levels and improves digestibility.  Examples of lacto-fermented foods are sauerkraut, pickles, cucumbers, beets and turnips and include our relishes, chutneys and the famed Japanese umeboshi plum.  Other valuable fermentation products are (apart from alcohol and the rising of bread dough) in buttermilk, yogurts, cheeses and various sour beverages made from grains, fruits and nuts.  Kumiss, fermented mare's milk, is the principle food of wandering tribes in European Russia and the plains of south, western and southern Asia.  The fermentation of milk allows lactose-intolerant people to drink it; and both the vitamin B  and C content of milk appear to be increased by the process.  Like koumiss, there are a number of less well-known fermentation products."(
Wharton 100-101)  "In the midst of dreadful cancer statistics [in Soviet Russia after WWII], two districts in the central western Ural mountains stood out 'like neon lights' having any cancer, even though they were heavily polluted by toxins.  Investigators accidentally stumbled upon the fact that every home had crocks of Kvass or Kombucha."(Wharton 101)  "It has been said that the methods of preparing plants by primitives, pounding, soaking, and fermenting imitates the time-consuming processes that take place in the digestive tracts of ruminant animals such as cows and sheep."(Wharton 102)  There are plenty of studies showing the beneficial effects of fermentation if you feel like googling for them, and many books written on the subject.  Insofar as I know, the best book on the subject is Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, so you might want to give that a look if you're interested.

I guarantee he's never been in a gym, but he drinks his fucking weight in Kumiss every week.

Q:  Just wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I've been having some trouble getting my clean up of late. Everything else is progressing nicely, but this bitch just won't budge! It's a fucking poor excuse as it's currently a dismal 140lb & I should be shot for how fucking bad this is.  I've been working on it with heavy singles, doubles and triples and then the occasional lighter session, but I just cannot seem to get anymore weight up on it. I've done some research but have yet to find anything that would have a good carryover to it. I struggle with the last 1/3rd of the lift, from the top of my ribs up. I'm going to try some partials from this height but are there any exercises you have tried to help when yours has stalled?

Also, have you found any info or links on the diets of the Russian, Bulgarian or Chinese weightlifters. Dmitry Klokov & Li Hongli are absolute beasts!!! I want to emulate these guys & I've tried searching for things but have been unsuccessful so far.

A:  If you have a 140lb clean, you should probably take up chess and leave lifting to other people.  If you really want to pursue it, I'd find a coach, explain the situation, wait until his raucous laughter subsides, and take his advice.  In the event you're just going to plow forward, the thing that helped me to a terribly ugly 315 clean was high pulls. Basically, I just started yanking the bejeesus out of the fucking bar and essentially hitting myself in the chin with it.  I don't squat under cleans at all, so that's about the only thing that works for me. I, however, am the furthest thing from an Olympic lifter as you're likely to find who can execute a hilarious interpretation of a clean and press with 300+ pounds.  I've no idea why you people ask me for Olympic lifting advice.

As to the diet question, the only thing I've seen about the Bulgarians' diet comes from the Wall Street Journal, and you're not going to like it: "
Mr. Abadjiev's 'horrible diet'" consists of "candy and soda".  This is predicated upon Abadjiev's theory "that injury and fatigue are less likely while adrenaline is coursing through the body, stimulating protein synthesis. Junk food is fair game."  The best I could find on the Chinese diet was anecdotal and comes from a Milo article in which a Chinese lifter was persuaded to join the team with the offer of "meat three times a day"(Mcdonald), and that Chinese Olympic athletes " are fed special diets with special herbs and exotic Chinese medicines. Swimmers have been fed a concoction containing ginseng and deer horn while runners under the infamous coach Ma Junren were given an elixir made of fresh turtle blood."(Olympic Training In China)  I believe that all three are of the opinion, contrary to bodybuilders the world around, that you can out-train a shitty diet.  The catch, however, is that you have to make training your full-time job.

Someone just called Li Hongli "Nuprin" for the last fucking time- prepare to eat steel.

Q:  What protein are you using?  Is whey good?  What kind of whey should I take?  What other supplements should I be taking?

A:  First, check out this blog, in addition to this and this, wherein I mentioned that supplements are neither magic, nor the cornerstone of a workout routine.  They should not be the bedrock of your diet, and they frankly don't bear nearly as much consideration as most people seem to think.  The perfect protein powder is not going to make up for the fact that you shit your pants at the thought of a heavy back squat and your estrogen levels are higher than a pregnant broad on set at the Oprah Winfrey Show during a puppy makeover.  I feel like I constantly tell you guys what protein I'm using and for whatever reason you don't seem to take note.  As such, once more, for the record, I like blended proteins- whey is a waste product, is in and out of your system too quickly, tastes like dogshit, and given the fact that it's the dairy industry's trash is far too expensive.  The proteins I've been using of late are Monster Milk and Muscle Infusion, and I threw Carnivor in there for a bit as well since I got some free.  The Carnivor was surprisingly good, and the Cherry Vanilla flavor looked like you were drinking a cup of blood, which is damn good marketing.  Additionally, it did not leave my shaker bottle stinking like I'd filled it with hot trash and dogshit if I left it unwashed for a day, so I'd jump all over that shit if I could find some at a price.

Q: I've been experimenting in my own extremity recently, and though trying to implement chaos and pain into my own workouts, my volume isn't even close to yours. Today, I went for a personal best of 415 in the deadlift, after pulling 405 easily twice the past two weeks. I felt like I could perform the lift no problem, I got the bar about halfway off the floor before my back decided to say fuck you to my spine. Lift failed, pulled and what feels like a pulled muscle on the left side of my spine in my lower back. I don't think it was a form error, my butt stayed low and my upper back came up first, I wasn't even rounding much. Does shit like this randomly happen when implementing CnP? How do you deal with this in your work outs? What would you do to keep progressing?

A: Of course- you train around it. I've been meaning to blog about that, and I'll get one in there soon, but just do everything you can to get around it. Foam roll, do high pulls, shrug, do rack pulls, squat more, Pendlay Rows... just say fuck you to your lower back and find a way over or around that motherfucker.  One thing you're going to have to remember is that injuries are part of the game.  If you're never injured, if you never sprain or strain anything, if you're never aching, you're almost certainly not performing to your potential.  Don't be a jackass and take that to mean that an injury is some sort of goal one should wish to achieve- it's just part and parcel of the activity.  If you're in a gangbang and you get splashed with some nut, life fucking goes on- it's a hazard of the business.  The same applies to the gym- you can't make an omlette without breaking a few eggs.  Suck it the fuck up and figure out how to keep progressing. 

I recently finished a badass squat workout with some glute-ham raises supersetted with donkey calf raises.  I wasn't even going all that hard, but I somehow managed to either incur a slight tear or a severe sprain in my right calf.  Instead of taking 6 weeks off and vowing never again to do either lift, as most internet weight room jocks would insist I do, I simply stopped doing either exercise for a bit.  I'd stretch my calf as much as possible prior to lifting, but I kept squatting and kept pulling.  My calf's slowly returning to it's natural color, and I've got the benefit of knowing that I can fuck shit up in the gym even when I'm half a cripple.  Is it the only way?  No, but it's the way you don't end up a fat piece of shit who pontificates endlessly about the best usage of TRX straps while jerking off to a copy of Heavyhands using the filling from a jelly doughnut as lube.  Don't be that guy (and as I have trouble walking some days with those sorry motherfuckers hanging off my jock while they talk shit, I shall prepare to be amused by their astonishingly poorly-formed responses justifying their hilarious weakness and disgusting fatbodies).
Some fat fuck on a messageboard is going to try to masturbate to this after binding himself with some TRX bands tonight.

Ferriss, Tim.  The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman.  New York:  Crown Archetype, 2010.
Lichtenbelt WD, Vanhommerig JW, Smulders NM, Drossaerts JM, Kemerink GJ, Bouvy ND, Schrauwen P, Teule GJ.  Cold-Activated Brown Adipose Tissue in Healthy Men.  N Engl J Med 2009; 360:1500-1508April 9, 2009. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0808718
Klingenspor, Martin.  Cold-induced recruitment of brown adipose tissue thermogenesis.  Experimental Physiology.  Volume 88, Issue 1, pages 141–148, January 2003.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/eph8802508/pdf
McDonald, Lyle.  "Why the US Sucks At Olympic Weightlifting, Part 8." http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/training/why-the-us-sucks-at-olympic-lifting-part-8.html
"Olympic Training In China."  Facts and Details.  http://factsanddetails.com/china.php?itemid=1008&catid=12
Rippetoe, Mark and Lon Kilgore with Glenn Pendlay.  Practical Programming for Strength Training, 3rd ed..  Wichita Falls:  Aasgaard Company, 2006.
Rippetoe, Mark and Lon Kilgore.  Starting Strength, 3rd ed..  Wichita Falls:  Aasgaard Company, 2011.

13 December 2011

Hooliganism Spreads Like Herpes- The First Female Hooligan

Prior to the ebook, I was under the impression that I had precisely three female readers, all of whom emailed or spoke to me on a semi-regular basis.  After seeing the ebook sales, however, I came to realize that either there are a lot of porn-loving, ass-kicking guys with girlish-sounding names like Katie and Ellen out there, or there are enough broads who laugh at my misogyny and like tits and training enough throw $12 bucks at me.  Either way, that demographic's fairly numerous.  I think that to this point, however, the only thing I've produced for them were the "Just Because You Have a Vagina" series and my hate-filled diatribes delivered like a young, non-mustachioed Hitler against the Skinny Bitch books amidst a cloud of spittle, windmilling fists, smashed podiums, and heavily raped primary sources.  As such, I owe the assembled possessors of vaginas and apology for my oversight- apparently, there are far more of you that suck far less than I would have otherwise been led to believe.

One such chick is Jess, who I've decided to deem (officially) the first female Hooligan.  Before my overwhelmingly male readership gets all up in arms about this fact, consider this- she probably deadlifts more than you do, weighs less than you, and she's definitely fucking hot.  That's right, motherfuckers, it's time to whip out some fucking razorblades and sleeping pills, because this broad's about to drop knowledge and crush your spirit. For those vagina'd people amongst you, I actually asked other chicks to contribute some questions to try to get your questions answered, since it's recently come to my attention that the testosterone-laden world of strength sports message boards is not terribly accommodating to chicks, even if they're chicks who chucked their iPhone down a well and set all of their Cabbage Patch Dolls alight in favor of learning shit, fucking, and picking things up and putting them down.

Before we kick this whole thing off, you might as well tell everyone a bit about yourself- background, how long you've been training, etc.  

I’ve always been into exercise in some form or another. When I was a kid I played softball, then some volleyball and softball for my school teams, and one year in high school I decided to try cross country and track and field. I never really excelled at any sports, but enjoyed being active. I sucked at cross country, actually – the 3.1 miles kicked my butt back then.

I was never overweight, but I wasn’t super skinny and I wanted to be, so when I was in high school I joined a gym and did the elliptical every day, and “weights” a couple of times a week – mostly leg machines. I was too afraid to try out the free weights, because I had no idea what I was doing. Eventually I read some articles in women’s magazines and applied some ideas I’d picked up to my routine, so I was doing light curls, lateral raises, etc. – I had no idea what most of the moves I was doing were even called, but they were basic and simple enough to remember. I have vague, shame-filled memories of sitting down and curling 12s or 15s and feeling proud of myself for lifting such heavy weights. It’s sad how low the bar is set for females.

Anyway, after years of this basic cardio and machine business some friends got me into longer distance running. I was terrible at it, and finished a couple of half marathons in something like 2 hours and 45 minutes each. I eventually got slower and weaker, and with my awful, starch and soy based vegetarian diet I got fatter – I put on about15 pounds one winter a few years ago, and was not pleased. While in the midst of trying to figure out how to switch up my workout routine to lose the weight I was introduced to a rare individual – an intelligent and educated personal trainer who actually knew what he was talking about, and how to get results. He taught me basic compound lifts, and I loved it. I took to the deadlift immediately, as it was the lift I was able to use the most weight for. I had a harder time with squats – the first time I tried them my stabilizers freaked out and I couldn’t even squat the bar, so the trainer had me do goblet squats. Eventually I got into more advanced things like rack pulls – which became my favorite, as they were now my heaviest lift – and cleans and snatches, which I really enjoyed being able to do.

It has been about 2 and a half years since I met that trainer. I worked out with him for almost a year, then took what he taught me and ran with it. I noticed that I enjoyed lower rep sets, especially days where he’d have me doing super heavy triples, so I programmed my own workouts to almost never go above sets of 5 (except for the occasional upper body lift, for whatever reason). I started reading more about lifting, on sites like t-nation, and looking things up on google and youtube. This last year I got really serious about increasing my strength, as I was loving all of the confidence I was building as a result of constantly getting stronger. People started noticing, and I was constantly approached by guys at the gym who would ask me why I was lifting so heavy and if I competed. So I decided to look into competing.

... and apparently did so while asleep.  Additionally, she apparently dressed like a blind retard picked out her ensemble on purpose.  At least, that's what she says.

You just did your first meet, and you out-deadlifted half the guys who email me.  What was your total, and what numbers did you put up?

I chose to do the single-lift events at this meet, as it was my first experience with a meet and I was nervous, and didn’t want to have to manage too much. Actually, I was going to only compete in the deadlift, but at the last minute my bench started increasing like crazy so I decided to compete in bench too. I won best female deadlift and best female bench press, with a 319.5 dead and 137.5 bench. I was hoping for a slightly better bench, but waiting for the cues really threw me mentally, and I missed my third attempt (148).

I’m going to do a full meet in February, and am hoping to total in the high 700s. I’m squatting in the mid 200s right now, so it seems possible.
With the obvious caveat of the fact that she has all of the structural rigidity of the Tacoma Bridge, those are some easy fucking reps.

So after two and a half years of lifting, you're pulling over double your bodyweight?  That's fucking sick.  From what I've seen on boards, people claiming to be men are bitching because they can't do that after far more time than that.  Any secrets you care to share?  I've a theory that sumo deadlifting suits women better than conventional because of the angle of their hips- is that the style you used?

I did not sumo deadlift. I have video proof, haha. It kind of bugs me that most girls choose to lift sumo, because it seems like an easier way to pull (shorter ROM) and therefore a weaker way to approach the lift. I always pull conventional, and have a really solid back as a result, so I’m probably better off sticking with that style anyway. Plus I’m tall. Apparently that helps.

Dear Ed- You're a pussy.  Love, Jess.

Dear Eight Pound, Six Ounce Little Baby Jesus.  You've taken my "fuck everyone- the lot of you are a pack of slack-jawed pussies" to a different level.  Now sumo deadlifting is cheating?  Someone might want to send Ed Coan one of their spare razors before they start opening veins.  Putting aside your amusing, yet ultimately silly opinion, have you considered trying sumo?  I will again invoke the name of the mighty Ed Coan as a preemptive counterargument to your deadlift form.  A problem I recently discussed with an elite-level chick deadlifter is her reticence to shrug, due to the fact that she doesn't want to look like me.  That's completely understandable, but her deads are breaking down near lockout, which I would chalk up to an upper-back issue.  Now that I think of it, she's a great squatter and deadlifts sumo, so you guys have totally opposite strengths.  Thus, a two part question- have you considered sumo deadlifting just to see if you can pull more that way, and how do you combat your fear of developing massive traps, or do you even give a shit?

I have not tried deadlifting sumo, though I have considered it. From what I understand, the sumo stance deadlift utilizes many of the same muscles as the squat, and since I squat regularly it seemed like a less useful exercise to practice for my overall strength goals, plus, again I was under the impression that it allowed lifters to pull a bit more weight, so it seemed like a weaker way to go about attacking the most hardcore of lifts. That is not to say that those who utilize the stance are weak, by any means. It's just comparable to squatting with a wider stance, as far as I understand it (and I typically squat with a pretty wide stance, so I'm not hating). It shortens the range of motion of the lift. Right? That said, I am tall, so perhaps I just have better leverages for regular pulling and won't fare as well with the sumo stance. I'll give it a shot sooner than later, and let you know how it goes, ok?

With regard to traps/shrugs - I do fear developing huge traps, as that wouldn't be pretty, but I don't actually anticipate that happening. I don't shrug that often; it's just something I do maybe once a week max as assistance work for my deadlift. Even before I started training shrugs my traps looked very very slightly defined as a result of regular cleans and deadlifts, but as I am a female with female hormones, I'm not too worried about getting huge in general. I've only put on about 8 lbs of muscle over the past couple of years, despite seeing huge jumps in my strength. Also, I've seen plenty of guys who shrug (some even heavy) and have no traps, and some who don't (or use pathetic amounts of weight) and have defined traps, so I think they're something you have to train more intensely and directly than one might think. I imagine that you put a lot of hard work and focused effort into building huge traps, and you find the implication that it's easy to accidentally build them somewhat insulting, no?

That's just a small part of the hilarity that occurs whenever most chicks start talking about lifting.  I don't think they're so much worried about building my traps as they are with building any traps, but I've seen stream-of-consciousness writing out of women, and it's directly from the mouth of madness.  As such, I'll just go ahead and give no opinion on what women think about anything, because I'm incapable of generating a thought that bears as much relation to logic and emotionlessness as Michael Jackson did to heterosexual masculinity.  What's your current training routine like?  How's it changed over time?

I’ve tried numerous times to construct some sort of regular weekly plan or progression plan for myself, but I never stick with it. I feel I’m at a point in my training where I can self-regulate. I plan my workout the day of, usually, or sometimes the day before, based on my schedule, my energy levels, what feels sore, what I haven’t worked in awhile, what my goals are, etc.

A lot of my current approach to training was inspired by this site, as well as the article that T-Nation did on John Broz this summer. Before I was introduced to the idea that you can lift as often as you want I was only lifting 3-4x/week. I tried 5/3/1 for a few weeks, but got bored. I tried 5x5 for awhile. I did, and sometimes still incorporate, reverse pyramid training. I tried push days and pull days. I just finished serving my time in college, so I’m using my newfound free time and energy by lifting 5-6 days/week, just do whatever I feel like doing that day. I always do a full body routine with some squat or deadlift variation as my first lift, and I always push myself.  I keep things fun for myself by incorporating partials (squat lockouts, rack pulls), heavy assistance work (shrugs, good mornings), and other  variations on the main lifts. Some days I don’t go super heavy (yesterday I did your 3 minute squat set idea, for example), or just work assistance lifts that aren’t as taxing (dumbbell rows, dumbbell bench, strict OH press, lighter front squats).

I actually brought my deadlift up a lot this year. After reading t-nation’s article on John Broz this past July, I incorporated his ideas into my routine and started snatching or cleaning at the start of each workout, and deadlifting about twice a week. My theory is that all of the oly lifting, especially all of the cleans, really transferred over, as I saw my deadlift shoot from 225 for reps in July to a 285 pull that August. For my deadlift workouts I usually do reverse pyramid style training, with one heavy set and two back off sets, though occasionally I’d do sets across or singles just for fun. Today I actually did an old T-Nation challenge of 60 deadlifts in 30 minutes. I used 225. It was really fun. Around rep 30 I started channeling some inner anger and that helped a lot. So, if you have anger issues, deadlift heavy. It helps.

 I try to train my pulling muscles as often as seems possible, so I’ll do rack pulls or shrugs or barbell rows on a day where I feel I’ve deadlifted enough that week, or am too tired or sore or whatever to do full deads with sufficient weight.
Worked for Pisarenko, as did training in a near-thong

I've suggested something similar in the past- I found that high pulls with my particular brand of godawful form seemed to have lent itself to a higher deadlift, as does hate, which as we know does a body good.  I suppose I ought to get off my ass and read more of Broz's stuff, since I've been accused of being him on more than one occasion, and everyone seems to think that we're methodological twins separated only by the sports in which we compete, geography, common sense, and the fact that I doubt either of us knows more about the other than  passing anecdotes and the fact that we get asked a lot of questions about each other.  

Back to you, however.  As everyone knows, I definitely train like Clubber Lang- everyone stays the fuck away from me in the gym and I power weights aloft with little more than bad intentions and sociopathic tendencies.  How about yourself- Clubber Lang, or Rocky? 

I almost always lift alone, and I prefer it that way, as I get to do what I want on my own schedule with the weight that I want to use, etc. There is one guy who I’ve lifted with a few times, and he’s a good lifting partner because he’s strong and does basic compound lifts too, but he doesn’t like to do all of the random assistance work that I do (overhead squat lockouts, partials, etc.) so we don’t lift together often. It’s nice to have him around occasionally though, to spot me on bench or push me to get an extra rep out when I don’t think that I can.

Fuck an A, right.  If there's one thing I think that the readers of this blog can show the world, it's that you don't need anything more than a singlet and some hate for your fellow man to fuck shit up at meets.  This nonsense about teams, straphangers milling about with water bottles and baby powder and the like is all fucking nonsense.

So, what's the venue for your training?  Dungeon basement gym?  Clothing optional boutique gym?  If it's the latter, do you have pics? 

I lift at a 24 Hour Fitness, sadly. My excuse is that it’s less than $17/month, and I’m on a budget. Also in my defense, it’s a weird, small, kind of dirty 24 Hour that’s located in the basement of a random office building, so because there are no windows and it’s kind of dark and dingy not many people work out there so there’s always plenty of space to do what I want and the power rack is rarely in use by anyone else. And it’s definitely not your typical social scene that many other LA gyms are. There aren’t many serious lifters there though, unfortunately. Eventually I’d like to find a gym full of people who really know what they’re doing, as I imagine I’d make even more progress in a motivating and inspiring environment.

Lifting in that festival of douchbaggery has to be about as much fun as masturbation with a belt sander.  How'd you get over initially being intimidated/watched by guys in the gym?  How do you deal with guys in the gym?  I typically avoid the shit out of broads in the gym, as I'm not into leching around a place where people are ostensibly trying to get serious shit done.  That's not typically the case.  Do you junk punch them all up in their man business, ignore them, or what?  The serious chicks in the gyms where I lift typically leave their headphones on and don't make a lot of eye contact, for instance.

I’m no longer intimidated by guys in the gym, though when I was still getting comfortable lifting and learning what I was doing I would just wait until late at night to go to the gym, when I knew it’d be almost empty, so that I could practice new lifts in private and avoid any unnecessary attention or unhelpful “advice.” At this point guys recognize that I’m strong and that I know what I’m doing, so they no longer try to “help” or “advise” me (which, by the way guys, comes across as really insulting, condescending, and awkward).

There’s no avoiding people who are watching me lift, especially when I’m doing something loud or super heavy, so I just block people out and get into my music. Between sets I try to avoid eye contact, and keep an annoyed/busy look on my face. I’m usually one of, if not the only, girl on the weight floor, and I usually do heavy, random things that people aren’t accustomed to seeing girls do, so I’ve just gotten used to it coming with the territory.

I do try to be polite when people talk to me though, and only a small percentage of the guys who approach me now are creepers who are trying to hit on me, as most just seem to be interested in or have respect for what I’m doing, so I’ll have a short conversation with someone if they approach me and I’m in between exercises or on my way out. Last night I gave some guy advice on shrugs and deadlifts (though I doubt he took it), and once I taught some guy how to front squat. Why not?

Well, it's commendable that you haven't helped anyone divest themselves of their manhood, Sonny China-in-Street Fighter style.  How much do you rely on advice from guys as opposed to advice from girls?  Have you found that advice from guys needs modification to apply to girls?  Are there any girls up to whom you look?

There are a few female lifters who are natural and extremely strong who I find really inspiring and motivating, but I have actually only recently learned about them, and can’t come up with their names off the top of my head. When I’m looking for inspiration I’ll check the powerliftingwatch.com rankings or the raw female lifter records in my federation to see what other people are up to, and what I should be working toward. Also, the woman who won best female lifter for the full meet that I attended was an inspiration. She weighs something like 112, and deadlifted 10kg more than I did, benched more than I did, and squatted something like 248. You could tell from looking at her that she was going to kill it, as she was small but really solidly built.  It’s great encountering people like that, because they make me want to work harder to be better too.

I mostly end up following advice from guys, as I find that most females in the fitness industry aren’t as into strength training as I now am, and still incorporate certain exercises and ideas that don’t interest me into their philosophies. There is one female, actually Nia Shanks, whose blog I occasionally check, as she encourages females to lift heavy and train solely for strength.

Beyond that, my priorities seem to fall in line with those of mostly males who are into lifting, although males also train for size, and I do not (I obviously enjoy having some muscle, but would like to continue to appear feminine). So, taking that into consideration, I don’t do things that you suggest such as arm medleys or neck work, for example, the extras that are just for building show muscles, but I feel like that’s really common sense. I do shrugs occasionally, though solely to train pulling for my deadlift, and I keep it in the 1-3 rep range and try to incorporate my back too.

That, then begs the question- what are you favorite lifts?
The deadlift is obviously a favorite. Mostly because there’s no cheating it. You either can lift the weight, or you can’t.  The dudes at the gym who (unintentionally) quarter squat 315 but can’t pull 225 are why I love deadlifts. It’s an ego crusher if you’re not actually strong. And it works so many muscles. And it’s the only lift for which it’s widely encouraged to practice singles as opposed to reps. I like that.

I was getting really into cleans for awhile, though I haven’t practiced them lately as my current gym has iron plates, and I hated having to drop heavy cleans over and over and attract attention to myself, among other things. I just invested in some light bumper plates though, so I’ll get back to those soon.

Beyond that, I’m loving the overhead squat lockouts. They’re really challenging, work a ton of muscles, and allow me to put way more weight overhead than I otherwise would. I’ve only practiced them twice now, but both workouts were so satisfying and left my whole torso pretty sore. I got 185 for a bunch of singles and doubles, and am shooting for 200+ soon. Hopefully some of that pressing strength will transfer to my bench…

As seen in that deadlift vid you've got, you've got a booty on you.  Did you always have that, or did you get it from lifting?  If it's the latter, what do you credit with the creation of that thing?  --A chick I know who's seen your video desperately needs to know the answer to this question.

Thanks to genetics I lived most of my life with no booty. At one point in time I referred to it as my “lower lower back.” I actually have a photo on my phone’s camera (that I am not sending you, haha) [editor's note: Fuck that noise] that I took of myself from the side the first time I realized I actually had some booty, as I was so surprised and excited that I felt I must commemorate the moment, ha. It just took a few months of some serious, heavy squats and deadlifts. I did some weighted glute bridges and step ups (my least favorite exercise ever, step ups) and thrusters and things like that too, back in the day. Really any heavy, lower body exercise that incorporates the glutes should do it. I recently tried out that glute isolation machine at my gym, just to see what I could do, and I could easily move the entire stack with one leg for a ton of reps. Squats and deadlifts. They prepare you for any and everything.

Onto other girlish shit- We went through a number of different diets for you before you settled on one that worked for you, as I recall.  Initially it was paleo, then Ferriss's slow carb diet, and then one of your own creation.  Could you fill everyone in on how that evolved, why you ended up with the one you did, and thoughts for everyone just in general about dieting?  I'm barely human in the approach towards food, so I think everyone would benefit from something a little less T-1000 and a bit more Sarah Connor.

Ugh. Diet. This was the toughest part of the process for me. When I decided to train for the meet back in August I had this delusion that I’d be able to cut down to the 132 weight class while bringing my deadlift up from a 285 PR to 319.5. As the federation I joined does weigh-ins day of, extreme last minute cutting wasn’t an option for me. After a few months of stressing, briefly toying with certain diets and other weight loss methods, and ultimately just being frustrated and briefly giving up I found that I had built some strength but lost no weight, and was sitting at around 155 with about 6 weeks to go until the meet. I managed to lose 7-8 lbs during that time, while again still gaining some strength, and am now down a few more pounds thanks to my current diet plan.

But first, the trial and error. It wasn’t actually paleo that you suggested, but keto. The way I typically eat is mostly paleo anyway, though I enjoy potatoes and rice for my starches, and don’t eat as much fruit or nuts as paleo people do. I try not to get too strict about anything, as I find that it really messes with my head when I intentionally avoid certain foods or food groups.

Anyway, keto. I went 8 days eating only meat, fish, and eggs. It was a good way to introduce discipline back into my diet, but as I didn’t do any carb refeeding in that time my lifts dropped significantly. When I found I couldn’t get at 265 lb deadlift off the floor at the gym one day, I knew I needed to do something different. I gave myself one day to reefed on carbs, and went crazy with tortilla chips and tacos and shitty frozen yogurt, and of course all of the water weight that I’d dropped over the first 8 days came right back and stayed back, so I moved on.

The slow carb diet was next. This one was the worst. My body did not appreciate eating beans that often. They made me bloated, among other things.  During this time I also tried Ferriss’s PAGG stack, and his ice bath idea. I will concede that I didn’t give either practice a long enough try to really gauge whether or not I’d see results, but ultimately they weren’t working for me so I moved on. The ice baths though, again, were a good way to force myself to be disciplined about something, so I enjoyed them in a strange way. If you ease into it in the manner that he suggests it’s not the worst thing in the world, and at some point the body adjusts. I set my laptop up next to the bathtub and distracted myself for the 20 minute baths with random shows off of hulu (in case anyone wants to try the ice baths, I’d definitely suggest having a distraction of that sort). I did feel my heart rate increase after the baths, and I am curious as to how they’d work in the long run on a fat loss plan, but between the cost of 20 lbs of ice at a time and the increasingly low temperatures in my apartment I gave them up after a short run.

Finally, I decided to put together my own diet based on common sense and things I had read (including some T-Nation articles by Nate Miyaki, who has a lot of good advice about diet in my opinion). I set up a basic food plan of fish, meat, eggs, vegetables, and rice, charted out the calories and macros for all of the food that I planned on eating, figured out some approximate macronutrient goals for different days of the week (cycling in the rice, and therefore carbs/extra calories 3x/week) and built my menu each day from those food choices. They were mostly lean meats, so chicken and 94/6 beef, canned wild salmon or tuna, lots of eggs, and occasionally sardines. Sometimes I’d do a baked potato or a banana instead of rice, but that was about as exciting as it got during the last 4 weeks leading up to the meet. I tried to avoid alcohol, but when I did go out for a drink (or 3) I stuck to red wine, though I’m sure hard liquor with soda water or diet coke would have been an equally reasonable option (or white wine, which I just personally don’t like). This was the diet I had the most success on. I found that when I didn’t cycle my calories enough my weight loss stagnated. I need to have higher calorie days (1500-200 range) and lower calorie days (800-1200 range). When I was hitting around 12-1400/day for 2 weeks I lost no weight whatsoever.

Also, I should mention that I typically follow Martin Berkhan’s version of IF (sorry Jamie), though I will say that in and of itself fasting is definitely not a weight loss miracle. Ultimately total caloric intake does matter, as does whatever meal frequency and timing plan works best for one’s personality and work/life schedule.  I just find that if I limit my eating window (and I’ve found that a 2 meal/day plan is ideal for me most days) I can eat big, satisfying meals when I do eat, and I enjoy that. You can pack a fair amount of chicken, eggs, vegetables, and even rice into two 600 calorie meals. This is something that I’ve adjusted to doing over the past year, so at this point I am comfortable going most of the day without eating. I try to get to the gym before my first meal of the day, and I typically have my first meal between 2 and 6 pm.

Oh, and protein is always the cornerstone of my diet, obviously.  Vegetables are good for fiber and for feeling full off of less calories, but protein is always my #1 priority.

I hope that helped…just common sense, trial and error, and when in doubt, protein and vegetables would summarize it, haha. And don’t obsess. Just make it a habit, and stick with it. I prepare most of my own meals, and bring a meal with me to work if I plan on eating during my shift. That makes it a mindless habit, and eliminates the possibility of making poor last minute choices.

And that's how you fucking do it- experiment, experiment, bust your ass, take absolutely no pictures of yourself with insanely hard nipples after an ice bath, deadlift your fucking ass right off.  Or on, as the case may be.  For any of you who might've thought that 319.5 isn't shit in the grand scheme of things, consider the following- she's a girl who weighs less than some mini-fridges and she landed just slightly outside of the top 20 deadlifters in her class without wearing a fucking belt in her first meet.  That, my friends, is fucking metal.
Someone had to make up for her oversight.  And for the ladies- that manass earlier was all for you.

Sack the fuck up and go lift something, because somewhere there's a hot chick who's probably outlifting you.

04 December 2011

Efficiency And Elite Strength Are Asymmetric Goals

To begin, this will likely be the most contentious piece of writing I've done thus far.  My personal belief in regards to "efficient training" is not a widely held precept, but that is due to the fact that every single person who disagrees with me on this subject is unequivocally wrong.  I'm not talking "mark that fucker down ten points on their SAT" wrong, either- I'm talking "Michael Jackson fingerfucking a four year old while wearing a poop helmet and singing 'I'm a Little Teapot'" wrong.  The reason for this is that efficiency is not a path to excellence, but rather the way to maximize production while minimizing cost.  As such, efficiency in the minds of most is linear growth- slow and steady incremental progress.  Becoming elite at anything, however, requires far more effort than that, and exponentially more effort than that which most modern Westerners will put into anything but consumerism, sloth, and obesity.
Legs like this don't come from 5x5 or once a week squatting.  They come from years of  doing 35-42 sets of legs twice a week.

Given that I attack lifting with the same ferocity that which a fat person employs in the pursuit of type two diabetes in a Krispy Kreme shop, incremental progression wouldn't be my style in any event.  Though my opinion might be skewed because it suits my style of lifting, I believe that a more aggressive, volume intensive, and unmodulated approach results in progression that is volatile, but will resemble a cubic progression rather than a linear progression if averaged.  The problem most people have with my approach, however, is threefold- one, they lack the necessary motivation to attack the weights with the necessary vigor; two, they are either unwilling or unable to continually alter their training to maintain forward progression, and three, they're too busy listening to the astonishing amount of negativity coming from the weak-willed and -bodied peanut gallery to take this path in the first place.

Ultimately, I think the problem lies in large part with one man- Frederick Winslow Taylor.  Before you start googling him, know this- he's got fuckall to do with lifting.  Instead, he is the evil mastermind behind one of the most insidious schemes in history, which sucked the soul out of the American working man and is currently grinding the lot of us to a bloody fucking nub: the plot to make the American workforce "efficient."
Shocked?  She is too.

Even his mother would probably have told us, Frederick Taylor was a fucking asshole.  He went everywhere with a stopwatch and notepad, timing everyone as they did everything and constantly nitpicking, henpecking, and berating them about their form, style, and execution because the wanted them to operate like robots in a factory.  Fucking Frederick Taylor, had he been capable, was likely a blazingly fast and probably unfelt affair consisting of a rapid series of pumps calibrated by stopwatch and in time with a metronome, after which he critiqued the woman for everything he could possibly think.  Though the man was utterly despised by the workers he oversaw, he was the darling of the management of corporations, and his worship of efficiency became the American religion within a century of it's adoption.

If you're wondering why I think this fucked up most lifters, consider this- the core of Taylor's work was standardization.  He studied things, averaged the results, and used that to determine what would achieve acceptable results for everyone, rather than what would achieve optimal results for individuals.  He promoted four essential principles:

  1. Replace rule-of-thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks.
  2. Scientifically select, train, and develop each employee rather than passively leaving them to train themselves.
  3. Provide "Detailed instruction and supervision of each worker in the performance of that worker's discrete task".
  4. Divide work nearly equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks. 

This has since been applied to programming, which by my research (and that's been rather exhaustive), is a relatively new phenomenon- even in the early 20th Century each lifter essentially created their own program.  Now, however, most people dogmatically and rabidly adhere to programs they neither understand nor question who have been designed by people in a distant foreign land for a very discrete group of people.  That, or they do the same with a watered-down program designed to do exactly what Taylor sought to do- achieve acceptable goals for all, but not optimize anyone's output.  Thus, no one trains themselves, they receive "detailed instruction and supervision" in the "performance of their task", and lifters leave the management principles to strangers while they unthinkingly perform the tasks set out for them.  In short, Taylor created an environment where society not only creates robots, but it creates robots who want to be even more robotic.  This is how we've ended up with an internet full of discussions of same three powerlifting or bodybuilding programs, people who think that being fat somehow confers great physical strength (I'm talking to you, GOMAD fuckers), and endless fucking form check videos.  As such, most people are as useless as the annoying black chick from Saved By The Bell on the best of gym visits, and at worst are more likely to resemble that skinny, whiny bitch from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
I haven't seen this movie in ten years and would still stab this motherfucker on sight.

"Efficient" programming seeks to provide the masses with the best results from the least effort every time they enter the gym.  People, being fucking morons, confuse "best results from the least effort" with "best results", and this is how they've started championing Mark Rippetoe as the god of all things lifting.  Because they think that "best results" also means maintaining a strength level that would get you laughed out of a supermarket in Denmark when you threw your back out trying to lift one of their giant wheels of cheese, they think that anyone doing more work than them (and thereby easily surpassing their best lifts) in the gym is a mutant, obviously using steroids, and in danger of "burning themselves out" in short order.  They'll heave excuses aloft like they're Russians blindly firing shit into space in an effort to beat the US at anything at all, and will achieve about the same amount of success as the Russians- there will be a lot of shit erased from their record books out of shame, and weeping will be about the only sound they hear each night as they go to bed.  They will never push themselves to test their limits, force themselves to go beyond what they believe possible, or even attempt something slightly out of the ordinary, because they're content with leading dull, uninteresting lives bereft of excitement and devoid of conscious thought.  They're fucking robots, basking in the pallid glow of their own mediocrity.

Cursory examination of memorable and elite lifters throughout the ages will leave you one very definitive impression thereafter- there is no one best way for everyone to train.  The very idea of such a thing is patently ridiculous, as the adoption of that theory involves a tacit admission that you're no better than anyone else- you're neither smarter, nor stronger, nor in any way better than the toothless, meth-addicted broad checking you out at Wal-Mart, nor are you better equipped to attack the weights than the special needs kid with a thyroid disorder who's eating crayons in isle 3.  If you're comfortable with that idea, then I encourage you to adopt a cookie-cutter routine on the recommendation of a faceless stranger with a total that barely exceeds his bodyweight.  If you realize that there's a chance that you might be able to rise above the level of "barely human", perhaps you should examine the routine you've been doing to see how it could best benefit you, as an individual.

Another takeaway from that examination is the fact that if you want to be great at something, lifting included, you're going to have to do more than just the bare minimum in the gym.  To wit:
Tom Platz's Leg Routine (which he did twice in 8 days):

Squats 8-12 5-20
Hack Squats 5 10-15
Leg Extensions 5-8 10-15
Lying Leg Curls 6-10 10-15
Standing Calf Raises 3-4 10-15
Seated Calf Raises 3-4 10-15
Hack Machine Calf Raises 3-4 10-15
Using this routine, Platz hit 500 for 23 reps and 635 for 8, at a bodyweight of around 220 and ripped to the fucking bone.

Bob Peoples' Full Body Routine (done 4-5 times per week)

Deadlift 1 x 15-20, 1 x 10, 1 x 8, 1 x 6, 6 x 1 (10 sets total)
Squat 5 x 5
Press 5 x 5

That's right- People maxed out on the deadlift 4-5 times a week. Because he broke his fucking ass and wasn't a bleeding vagina, People's pulled a world record 725 at 181 lbs.  Also contrary to convention, people pulled with all of the air expelled from his lungs, with a round back, and with a double overhand grip, form he determined to be best for himself after experimenting with a wide variety of forms and then actually sitting down and studying what worked best for him.  Can you imagine such a thing?  The horror!

Konstantin Konstantinovs Full Body Routine (training every other day)

Workout 1.
1. Light squat for a warm up.
2. Deadlift. I do a different variant every time I train: rack pulls – 7, 11, 15, 20, 23 cm from the knees (higher than that I never pull). I do either a set of 3 reps or 8-10 depending on how I feel.
3. Bench press. I consider bench press as rest between heavy work. I bench either with touch and go with a medium grip, or with a close grip pausing at the bottom. I might do a single set of 10 reps with touch and go, or might max out pausing at the bottom. It all depends on how I feel and my mood.
4. 2nd deadlift. I pull either from a floor or from a deficit (about 9 cm). I do a single set of 2-3 reps pausing at the bottom. Then if I have enough energy, I might do another set of 6-8 reps.
5. Box squat. Heavy box squat as described above.

Workout 2 (in two days).
1. Medium heavy squat as described above.
2. Heavy bench press for a single set of 3 reps. Once in two weeks: negatives – 1-2 set for 1 rep. Then a single set of 8-10 reps with either close or medium grip depending on how I feel.
3. Cardio – 15-20 min.

Workout 3.
1. Light squat.
2. Medium heavy bench press: a single set of 6-8 reps.
3. Speed deadlift with bands: 8x1. Bands increase weight by 130 kg at the top.
4. Pull ups with weight or bands. ONLY explosively. Very important for my deadlift.
5. GHR, hyperextensions, very heavy abs work (6 sets with emphasis on strength).

Workout 4.
The same as workout 2.
In other words, the man who's the strength freak of our time and who hold the World Record in the Raw Deadlift at 242 and 275 and the total at 308 squats every fucking training session and deadlifts twice a week.  Conventional wisdom can officially go fuck itself.
Bennie Podda, being insane per the usual.

There are myriad other examples, and all of the Baddest Motherfuckers I've chronicled threw a metaphorical fuck you to the world every single time they entered the gym.  That's because they knew, instinctively, that there is no one best way for everyone to train- there's only the best way for you to train yourself.  Just as the cookie cutter programs predominating in the strength world today should arouse the ire of the lifters using them, as they're forced from what works into what usually works for most people, Fred Taylor's methods made him a fucking wanted man in factories the world around.  Artisans and factory workers despised him, because he took away their free will and individual expression and replaced it with robotic movements and communal behavior.  Amusingly, the Soviets were some of his biggest proponents, in spite of the fact that Marx himself decried the dehumanization of the worker.  Similarly, Christian existentialist Simone Weil proffered the following, which is a pretty excellent summary of modern society's mental state:
"However tied and bound a primitive man was to routine and blind gropings, he could at least try to think things out, to combine and innovate at his own risk, a liberty which is absolutely denied to a worker engaged in a production line.... Thus, in spite of progress, man has not emerged from the servile condition in which he found himself when he was handed over weak and naked to all the blind forces that make up the universe; it is merely that the power which keeps him on his knees has been as it were transferred from inert matter to the human society of which he is a member."
I find that particularly striking due to the fact that Christianity doesn't seem well suited to individual thought and expression, by and large.  If they and the progenitor of one of the most disgusting and insidious political movements in the modern era could see the evil inherent in Taylorism, anyone on Earth should be able to do so.
But, you might be saying to yourself, those guys are fucking freaks, and while I'm not retarded and half-crippled and don't resemble a young Kuato from Total Recall, I'm hardly a strapping young KK.  He's a genetic freak, and I'm not.  Interestingly, science has addressed that theory, and they've told you to nut the fuck up.  In a meta-analysis of thousands of elite performers across a variety of disciplines ranging from hockey to violin, researchers discovered that "Individual differences, even among elite performers, are closely related to assessed amounts of deliberate practice. Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years." (Ericsson et al. 363)  I've mentioned my issues with Sir Francis Galton before, and he's the one who's got it in your mind that you simply lack the genetics to be elite (which is not surprising given that "Genetic influences are still incorrectly viewed as deterministic factors that lead to unmodifiable consequences determining the structure of the  human body and its nervous system"[Ericksson et al 364]).  Well, once again, you and Galton are about as correct as the 29% percent of American who couldn't identify the vice president of the United States.(Daily Beast)  Instead, what studies like that show "is that 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert" (Outliers 40)  In studying these elite performers, they found that "the people at the very top don't work just harder or even much harder than everyone else.  They work much, much harder." (Outliers 39)
Working harder already
They don't just work harder, either- they react, adapt and overcome, just as elite Special Forces units do as a matter of course.  In a study in the late 19th Century of Morse code operators, it was discovered that even a tremendous amount of practice and experience did not inure Morse code operators from the dreaded plateau we all know from training.  What they found was interesting for another reason, though, because it applies directly to my point- people who unthinkingly performed their tasks found themselves mired in bullshit, while those who approached their task thoughtfully and busted their asses did not- "with mere repetition, improvement of performance was often arrested at less than maximal levels, and further improvement required effortful reorganization of the skill. Even very experienced Morse Code operators could be encouraged to dramatically increase their performance through deliberate efforts when  further improvements were required for promotions and external rewards."(Ericksson 365)  Put simply- you have react and adapt if you want to overcome obstacles in your path to greatness.  You're not going to do that, however, if you're taking the easy way out, resting on your laurels, following some program designed by a person who's never met you and used (identically) by everyone you know, and never deviating from the path set out by that stranger.  You've got to identify your strengths and weaknesses and motivate yourself to overcome them through the thoughtful application of sheer, unrelenting will and brute fucking force.

To sum up- if you do the same thing everyone else is doing, you'll suck just as much as they do.  "Remember, you never want to be in a fair fight if an unfair fight is an option" (Griffin), and by doing what they're doing, you're making every competition a fair fight.  You can always push harder, lift heavier, and fight harder for what you want, and you're going to have to fucking do it if you want to rise above those around you.  Claiming that your sessions are more efficient is simply another way to say you're a fucking corner-cutting slacker, and I'm going to laugh at you when I outlift you and your lifting partner combined at a meet.

Don't be a fucking pussy.  Go do something epic.

I left this bit out because this post ran so long and covered so many things that I forgot to mention it explicitly, though I thought it would be more or less apparent:
Optimal training for an individual will not be "efficient" due to the fact that you will have to put more and more effort into lifting in order to transcend your previous bests.  This coincides with the "Law of Diminishing Returns", which states that "in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower per-unit returns." (Wiki)  Those lower returns, however, are necessary if progress is to continue, and is the point I was attempting to make by citing the study of the Morse code operators.

Additionally, it appears, via the comments, that many people are confusing "optimal" and "efficient"- optimal training is training in which you're maximizing your maximizing your output.  "Efficient" training, on the other hand, is achieving the best possible result form a minimum of effort.  As such, it is rare that "efficient" training will yield optimal results, due to the fact that so much more effort will eventually be necessary to continue your progress, and because of the delicate balance of man's internal systems it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine what will achieve the greatest output as increased effort is required.

     Carson, Brian.  Bob Peoples Deadlift Training.  http://ezinearticles.com/?Bob-Peoples-Deadlift-Training&id=1522211
     Kasatov, Konstantin Dmitri.  Interview with Konstantin Konstantinovs.  http://www.lift-run-bang.com/2010/04/interview-with-konstantin-konstantinovs.html
     Ericksson KA, Krampe RT, Tesch-Roemer C.  The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. 1993:  100(3) 363-406.  http://projects.ict.usc.edu/itw/gel/EricssonDeliberatePracticePR93.pdf
     Frederick Winslow Taylor.  Wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Winslow_Taylor
     How Dumb Are We?  The Daily Beast.  http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/03/20/how-dumb-are-we.html
     People, Bob.  "The Training Methods of Bob Peoples".  http://pressingtostrongman.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/bob-peoples-speaks/
     Tom Platz Leg Workout – The Man Who Became Famous For His Remarkable Leg Development.  SimplyShredded.com. http://www.simplyshredded.com/tom-platz-bodybuilding.html