31 May 2012

Stop Bitching And Start Benching 2- Learn From People Better Than You

There are many ways to skin a cat, and the bench press is absolutely no exception.  Given the fact that many of you were shamed into depression with the news that a 130 lb girl out-benches you, I was initially planning to start with her and work our way through some of the greats.  Instead, I'm going to start with Rick Weil, who's got a lengthy but really insightful look at the bench press and methods for fixing failed attempts based on the part of the lift in which you fail.  Before I do, however, I'll mention that I noticed two striking similarities between the approaches of the people I outlined today- one, they don't seem to be overly preoccupied with limiting their volume, and two, many of them have backgrounds in bodybuilding.  I suppose that should come as no surprise, given that bodybuilders often list chest and arms as their favorite bodyparts to lift, but it's worth noting for those of you who eschew either or both.  After you drink in the goodness that's below, perhaps you should consider the possibility that you're not doing enough volume or enough variety for your chest and arms to facilitate an optimal bench press.  I'm sure that news is about as welcome as the teeth of a bath salt smoking homeless fucker's teeth on your cheek, but after reviewing the following programs and checking out their chest and arm development, you will probably agree.

Side note:  I want to stab everyone over the use of any spelling but "flies" when referring to the exercise.

Rick Weil
In a time when an afro and a mustache didn't necessarily mean you raped small children in the bushes behind elementary school, Rick Weil had both, and wore them proudly.  In spite of his incontrovertibly terrible taste in above-the-neck hair, Weil was a badass on the bench.  The records he set in 1983 and 1986 at 165 (485 lbs) and 181 (556) have remained untouched since he set them, and he's within 9 lbs of the world record bench at 198 with his lift at 181.  According to Powerliftinghub, "this is not only the record for the 181's but the biggest triple bodyweight unequipped bench press of all time across any weight division."  In other words, when Rick Weil opens his mouth about the bench press, you should fucking take heed, because he's the Ed Coan of bench pressing and can likely bench more with his semi-erect penis than you can with your entire upper body.

Interestingly, he is not averse to reverse gripping, either.  According to his post on Bodybuilding.com, "[he does] lift reverse grip, but never benched that way in competition. [He] did a lot of exhibitions reverse grip and actually did a 545 reverse in the gym. [He also] would do exhibitions with 505 for 5-6 reps." He was also a big fan of doing heavy negatives to increase your strength on the bench, though he cautioned that you should limit yourself to one or two singles at the end of a workout.(Critical Bench)  Doing so will strengthen your ligaments and tendons, in addition to work with better form on lighter weights, because you'll be accustomed to handling much heavier poundages.

Weil, who appears to be something of an intellectual, broke down the bench press into four distinct parts: the approach, the drive, the push, and the lockout.  Each of these distinct parts of the lift have their own issues, all of which Weil addressed with different assistance movements or techniques.
  • "The approach is the part of the lift where you bring the bar down to your chest. This is important because done properly it sets up the rest of the lift for hitting the groove. Remember to stay very tight during the approach, do not relax at your chest. The negatives will help here."
  • "When the bench command is given, the drive part of the lift begins. Practice pause benching in the gym because good habits are hard to break as well as bad habits. Also, injury can come from sloppy form, so always train as if a judge is watching. If you are stuck at your chest, perhaps you are forgetting a very strong and important body part at your disposal—your BACK. Remember the bench press is an upper body exercise and your back is part of your upper body. Powerlifters generally have very strong lats, so why not use them? With 135 on the bar, practice using your lats to drive the weight off of your chest. You do this by initiating a lat spread of sorts at the bottom of the lift. Trying is believing. It really works and with practice your lats will drive any weight off of your chest you would normally have been stuck with. Since powerlifters train their backs, only the lifters who strictly bench need to do special back exercises. I recommend doing lat pull downs and cable seated rows for building the muscles necessary for the drive part of the bench press. Those of you with strong backs need only to work the correct form, getting used to driving with the back."
  • "The push is that part of the lift between the drive and the lockout. Momentum is obtained from the lats in the drive, and then the front deltoids must take control. Front deltoids will move the weight, so train them as a separate body part. Steep incline presses will isolate the front delt if the bar is kept in close to your face and driven back towards the uprights. Seated dumbbell presses are not only great for the delts, but also one of my favorite exercises. This is performed seated straight up driving the weight with palms forward 3 sets of 5 reps on both of these exercises is plenty. Also only train them once a week. I have trained this way for three years, each body part once a week and made maximum gains on every cycle. This type of training also keeps injury to a minimum."
  • "Now we come to one of the most frustrating parts of the bench press, the lockout.  I have seen many lifters miss what appeared to be an easy lift, right at the top. There are two reasons for missing a lift at lockout; fatigue, which can cause bad form, or not enough tricep strength. If your gym does not have a dip bar, tell the owner to get one. Weighted dips are the best exercise for lockout power available. Close grip benching puts too much strain on the wrists and hinders complete tricep movement. Doing weighted dips with heavy weight, however, will not guarantee a powerful lockout. Remember the other reason I stated for missing a lockout? Fatigue. I had pushed 3 sets of 3 reps with 285lbs in the weighted dips in training, yet I was having a lockout problem. After a lot of thought I realized my problem was not strength, but tricep fatigue. My triceps were pumping too fast. To correct this problem I dropped the weight on the bench after doing negatives, down to 405 and did reps until failure. By the time I could perform 10 easy reps, my sticking point was gone. Now, I am not saying you should drop to 405, but 80% of your maximum lift is a good place to start. For example the 400lb bench presser would start with 320 to 325ls and try that for a week or two."(Rick Weil Bench Press Routine)
Quite frankly, I don't know if that's a reprint from Weil's book, and article he one wrote for another publication, or something he did for Critical Bench, but it's informative as hell and a great primer for troubleshooting a piss-poor bench.  For that reason, I started off this post with the mustachioed one.  Now, onto a broad who could likely whip you silly and fuck you stupid.

Outbenches you, even in LA Gear hightops.
Jennifer Thompson
This broad hit 300 raw a couple of months ago in the hyper-critical USAPL, so you know there was a motherfucker out there with a micrometer and someone measuring the weight on the bar to the nanogram.  After she lifted, she was polygraphed, strip-searched, beaten with reeds, polygraphed again, and then piss-tested for everything short of protein content.  I'm sure even after all of that they chased her around screaming "liar!" at her and pelting her with rotten vegetables until her blood tests came back negative.  Those motherfuckers are as unfun as they are men-out-of-time, since they would have been far more at home in early 20t Century Europe, when being a fascist made you cooler than Rob Van Winkle in "Cool As Ice".  In any event, you know Thompson's lift is legit if it happened in a USAPL meet, and she claims to have hit 315 in a less-jackbooted meet at some point.

Thompson's approach is completely unique, from what I've seen.  Instead of alternating speed and heavy days, she's got alternate speed and heavy weeks.  According to Jennifer,  "My heavy week involves static holds and heavy set work. My speed week uses bands and I work on my single max lifts. When I have a long period between competitions I do a 12 week workout that starts with exercises at 10 reps and works it way down to 5 reps. I use this to build up my base strength."(SPL)  Interestingly, the weight isn't as important as the speed of the lift for Thompson, and she will "drop 10 to 15 pounds on that exercise and work on the speed of the lift" if she's not improving from workout to workout.(Ibid)

Her overall split looks like this:
Day 1: Chest
Day 2: Off
Day 3: Back, Biceps, and Calves
Day 4: Off
Day 5: Shoulders and Triceps 
Day 6: Off
Day 7: Legs                                                  
Day 8: Off
*Abs are done as a warm-up on workout days.
(8-12 weeks on, then 1 week off. When restarting she simply lowers the weights and starts over.)(Thompson)
When was the last time you hit double bodyweight on your second attempt?

Bench Singles (1 rep strict bench singles): 3 singles with 65%, 75%, and 85% of max
Increase one of your singles every lift if you get all 3
Bench (with bands or chains): 3 sets of 5
Set up the bands or chains to add resistance to the top of the lift to increase your speed through the sticking point.
Incline Bench: 2 sets of 5
Decline Bench: 2 sets of 5
Speed Bench Presses: 2 sets of 5
Strict (long paused explosive rep) Flyes: 2 sets of 8
Stabilizer Push-ups (Push-ups on a stabilizer ball or board): 2 sets to failure

Shoulders and Tris
Military Press: 3 sets of 5
Upright Rows: 2 sets of 8
Side Lateral Raises: 2 sets of 8
Dumbbell Shoulder Presses: 2 sets of 8
Offload Bench Presses: 3 sets of 5 (Attach bands above the bar so that weight is taken off the bar at the bottom to help increase your transition into your triceps)
Closegrip Bench: 2 sets of 8
Tricep Extensions: 2 sets of 8
Pushdowns: 2 sets of 8

Heavy Hold (Unlocked bench press hold for 15 seconds) Bench: 3 sets of 5
Incline Bench: 2 sets of 5
Decline Bench: 2 sets of 5
Negatives: 2 sets of 2
Dumbbell Stabilizer Presses (Dumbbell presses while lying on a large stabilizer ball): 2 sets of 8

Shoulders and Tris
Heavy Hold (Unlocked military press hold for 15 seconds) Military Press: 2 sets of 5
Upright Rows: 2 sets of 8
Back Lateral Raises: 2 sets of 8
Dumbbell Shoulder Presses: 2 sets of 8
Heavy Lockouts (Bench press last 5-7 inches of lift): 3 sets of 5
JM Presses: 2 sets of 8
Weighted Dips: 2 sets of 8
Single-arm Pushdowns: 2 sets of 8

Ted Arcidi
Certainly not the most svelte motherfucker on this list, Arcidi's been credited with being one of the greatest bench pressers in history.  The records he set in the 275 and 308 weight classes have stood the test of time, and are at this point almost 30 years old.  Sure, Jeremy Hoornstra beat Arcidi's 275 record, but bear in mind that Arcidi hit 650 at 275 and 666 at 308 in full meets, which have been known to be a bit more taxing than a leisurely bench-only meet.  Arcidi's methods will likely look somewhat familiar to anyone who's done a periodized routine, although his rep scheme differs a bit, and one of his bench days per week was a simple 5 rep scheme and his volume would make most internet gurus start checking the blood pressure and cortisol levels of his family and friends for signs of second-hand overtraining.  Additionally, although Arcidi was not a bodybuilder, he did rock abs at over 300 lbs, and went on to work in the WWE and WCWW and was Triple H and Chyna's strength coaches long before DeFranco erroneously got all the credit for Triple H's physique.

12 Week Cycle
Weeks 1-3: 3 x 6
Weeks 4-6: 3 x 5
Weeks 7-9: 3 x 3
Weeks 10-11: combine sets of 3 and two reps
Week 12: meet day; open with a bench that you have done for at least four reps

Bench Press: 3 x 5/405-420
Behind-the-Neck Press: 3 x 5/260-300
Skull Crushers: 2 x 6/340-350
Standing Barbell Curls: 3 x 6/160-195
Lat Pulldowns: 3-4 x 10/240

Bench Press: follow 12-week cycle
Behind-the-Neck Press: 3 x 6/225
Skull Crushers: 2 x 6/340-350
Standing Barbell Curls: 3 x 6/160-195
Lat Pulldowns: 3-4 x 10/240
(Do all heavy bench press sets with maximum poundages. Occasionally, do some forced reps. Rest for 5-6 minutes between bench press sets and 2 to 3 minutes between assistance work sets. Perform the last heavy workout ten days before the scheduled meet. Peak for only one or two competitions a year.)

Squats: Your choice of sets and reps
Deadlifts: Your choice of sets and reps
Behind The Neck Press: 2 x 3/335-365

Jeremy Hoornstra
If there was ever a powerlifter who looked to be both good-looking enough and passably friendly to bang your girlfriend backstage while you were lifting at a meet, it's this motherfucker.  Hoornstra broke Mike McDonald's 33 year old raw bench record at 242 with 661 press last month after nipping at its heels for a bit, and looks to have a long career of putting the record at 242 insanely out of everyone's reach ahead of him.  Hoornstra competes in both bodybuilding and powerlifting, and sports arms big enough to make you consider heaving yourself off a fucking cliff.  Don't believe me?  Check out this pic, wherein he makes Sam Byrd look like a guy who did some pushups once.

Amusingly, Hoornstra's bench press routine is EXACTLY what you'd expect a bodybuilder's bench press routine.  This is probably why half of us are getting out-benched by alleged bodybuilders on a regular basis.  Surprisingly, it's not done on International Bench Press Day (Monday), nor is it followed by a bit of biceps, just to get a pump on before the club.  Instead, Hoornstra's split is a two a day schedule that looks like this:

Monday - Back, cardio (night)
Tuesday - Chest, Traps and Forearms (night)
Wednesday - Bi's, cardio (night)
Thursday - Shoulders, calves and abs (night)
Friday - Tri's, cardio (night)
Saturday - Legs

Biceps got their own day!  I bet you fuckers didn't see that one coming.  No stranger to volume, Hoornstra's throwing around a lot of weight for a shitload of reps with a variety of angles when he hits bench day, and rests no more than three minutes between sets.  A typical workout looks something like this, but according to Hoornstra it varies greatly with his mood and enthusiasm:
I wouldn't mind getting my liftoff from motherfucking Captain Kirk.

Flat Bench Press
225 x 15
315 x 10
405 x 10
495 x 8
585 x 3
635 x 2
405 to failure

Incline Bench Press
315 x 10
405 x 8
495 x 5
495 x 5

Incline Dumbbell Fly's
140's to failure for 3 sets (highest dumbbells the gym has)

Flat Cable Fly's
Weight stack for 10 reps, 3 sets

Hammer Strength Chest Press
6 - 45's each side to failure, 2 sets

If you thought that shit ran the gamut, that's because it did.  I just covered four world record holders in the bench, and they had no common denomonator in their programs beyond the inclusion of the bench press.  Telling, right?  If you remain unconvinced that you're going to have to find your own path to Valhalla via the bench press, I've got another post coming up soon detailing the workouts of powerlifting legend Ed Coan, powerlifter-turned-Ms. Olympia-runner-up Bev Francis (holy shit her volume was off the charts), current multiple record holder Scott Mendelson, bodybuilder Eddie Robinson, and general freak of fucking nature Ken Lain.

Go bench, because somewhere a tiny blond haired chick is warming up with your work weight.

     Powerliftinghub.  Rick Weil.  http://powerliftinghub.com/Lifters.html
     SPL.  Jennifer Thompson Talks With Seriouspowerlifting.  http://www.seriouspowerlifting.com/2927/womens-interviews/jennifer-thompson-talks-with-seriouspowerlifting
     Rick Weil Bench Press Routine.  http://www.criticalbench.com/bench-press-routine.htm
     Ted Arcidi's Bench Press Routine.  Reprinted from Powerlifting USA.  http://www.angelfire.com/ab/bigmuscle2/arcidi.html 
     Weil, Rick.  Forum Post on Bodybuilding.com. http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=113787111&page=1
     Tatar, Ben.  132 Pounds of Power: A Critical Bench Exclusive Interview With World Record Holder Jennifer Thompson. Critical Bench.  http://www.criticalbench.com/jenniferthompson.htm
     Tatar, Ben.  Interview with Bench Press Record Holder Jeremy Hoornstra.  Critical Bench.  5/31/12.  http://www.criticalbench.com/Jeremy-Hoornstra.htm
     Thompson, Jennifer.  http://www.132poundsofpower.com/speed_heavy_workout.htm

24 May 2012

Stop Bitching And Start Benching

Without question, the most maligned and simultaneously ballyhooed exercise on the planet is the bench press.  I've taken a steaming shit on it over the years for one reason- I fucking suck at it.  I'm fairly certain that is the reason most people trash talk the bench- it sucks to be so bad at the one exercise virtually everyone does.  As such, you simply sidestep the conversation by decrying it as a pointless and useless feat of strength fit for naught but bodybuilders and sundry weightroom dilettantes.  In the end, however, the people who yell most loudly about the uselessness of the bench press are probably the same guys masturbating to it like a pedophile at a McDonald's Playroom.  They're looking at great benchers in the gym with jealousy on a level generally reserved for flat chested gold diggers when they spot a big tittied woman working a guy with an Amex Black.  They hate the fuck out of themselves for sucking at the lift, but not enough to get fucking good at it, so they make excuses not to do so.  It's time, however, for that shit to end- everyone needs to sack the fuck up and admit that if it's good enough for Dmitri Klokov, it's damn sure good enough for them.
You've disappointed Dmitri and his Uncle Hitler.

I suppose a great deal of most peoples' frustration stems from the fact that benching seems to come easy to some and not to others.  I've come to the realization, however, that like everything else in the gym, big weights come to those who break their asses for them.  If you suck at benching, it's your own fucking fault.  I was a disgrace to my lineage at the bench press until what I thought was a shoulder injury (which ended up just being knotting) forced me to change my bench press style.  I worked hard at learning the new form and experimenting with it because I had to, and I've become considerably less of an embarrassment to family and friends at the bench since..

THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD START REVERSE GRIPPING.  This simply means that if you suck on the bench, you need to re-examine every single facet of the lift, including your grip width, your elbow flare, your arch, your foot placement, the bar path, the strike point on your body, the assistance exercises you do, and the number of times per week you train the lift and accessories.  Over the last year, I've played with every possible permutation of my new form and frequency to arrive at what I think works best for me, and it's nothing whatsoever like 1) people would generally suggest, or 2) what I started with.  Thus, this is one more instance wherein you'll stop taking advice from every half-assed guru on the planet and fucking figure it out for yourself.  Know which form is the right form?  The form that gets white-lighted at a meet and allows you to move the most weight.  If it doesn't meet either of those criteria, you're fucking up.  Again.

I'm glad you asked, nameless moron who make idiotic statements in public forums and likely cried themselves to sleep upon hearing of Donna Summers' death!  Allow me to elucidate all of the reasons you should get good at the bench press.
  1. Like it or not, the bench press is one of the most basic standards of measure for physical strength in the gym.  It's a universally accepted measure of upper body strength for lay people and lifters alike, and it's consequently utilized everywhere you go, from the grocery store checkout line (I'm constantly asked by customers and employees how much I bench) to the NFL Combine to the gym.  Thus, it doesn't fucking matter what the pencil-necked pussy on a message board thinks about the efficacy of this measure- it's the standard.  Refusing to adhere to the standard would be like trying to pay for your Jamba Juice with back issues of Hustler- no matter how much better a measure of personal wealth you might think they are, you're fucking wrong.
  2. The bench press is an event in one of the three most popular strength sports in the Western world.  Sucking at it limits your ability to prove your mettle and compete in competitive sports that don't involve stupid pants played by people who are waiting to die.
  3. Sucking at the bench press is generally evidence that you're either a woman or are considering becoming one, as it is again the most accepted measure of upper body strength, and upper body strength is associated with manliness.  If you are a woman, consider this- kicking ass at an upper body lift like the bench makes you pretty much the top of the fucking food chain.  Case in point: 132 lb natural female powerlifter Jennifer Thompson has benched 315 in a non-sanctioned meet, raw.  That sound you're hearing is thousands of guys violently opening kitchen drawers in search of anything sharp with which to slit their wrists.
  4. There are plenty of instances wherein you need to have the brutal strength necessary to violently shove objects away from your chest- never mind shit falling on you or holding up the car while someone changes a tire, fellas.  Having a strong chest, shoulders, and triceps means you will fuck better.  If you cannot envision how this is possible, you're either a virgin or retarded.  In either case, just focus on the aforementioned reasons.
  5. Arnold had a huge chest, and everyone revers Arnold.  The bench press will give you a better developed chest, just like Arnold.  Arnold benched often and he benched heavy (he hit 540 lbs at one point).  Therefore, bench.
Now that we've got that ridiculousness out of the way, I'll address the fact that there is no universally perfect bench press form, no matter what anyone fucking tells you.  If anyone argues, treat them as you would any noisome blight and cave in their head with a rock or hammer.  To wit, some of the greats' form:

Ted Arcidi- Virtually flat back, wide grip, elbows flared feet away from bench and slightly wide.  Ted was the first person to officially bench 700 lbs

Ryan Kennelly- Hard arch, fairly close grip, elbows in, feet a little tucked.  He benched 1074 shirted and at least 650 raw.

Marvin Eder- Practically a snatch grip, completely flat back, and legs nearly straight.

Jennifer Thompson- Wide grip, elbows flared, hard arch, wide, tucked feet.  She benched 297.5 at 132, fellas.

Rick Weil- Close grip, elbows flared, back totally flat.  He holds world records at 165 and 181 that have stood for over 25 years.

The Barbarian Brothers- Ultra wide reverse grip, hard arch, wide foot placement.  In this video, one of them hits 200kg for 5 bounced reps, and they both had 500+ lb benches for singles.  Before you talk shit, consider the fact that none of you could get within shouting distance of that feat.

This discrepancy extends beyond the setup and execution of the competition bench, as well.  The greatest benchers of all time have wildly different routines, in addition to different execution of the lift itself in training.  Some of the best benchers I know, for instance, train with a touch-and-go method and the occasional massive bounced off their sternum.  This includes two guys I know who bench over 500 and incline in the mid 400s.  Additionally, they do all of their rep work with incomplete ranges, basically doing bottom-half reps throughout.  This does not, however, prevent them from putting up big numbers when they try paused benches.  For myself, I find that like Ken Fantano, I have to practice the paused bench to be good at it.  If I practice touch and go in the gym, my form breaks down and I lose the tightness I need to move big weights. Other guys seem to find that the looser form yields greater strength when they apply it to strict form.

I could go on, but I think at this point it should be fairly apparent to those of you with developed nervous systems that there is no one golden bench press technique, and that anyone who claims to know of one is a fucking liar worthy of a full-on Islamic stoning.  In the next installment, I'll cover the routines of some of the best benchers ever, so you can see how they in no way resemble one another, except for their utilization of the bench press and their total lack of excuses for why they don't do the lift.
Bench press badass (he benched 545 at 242 in competition with 3 broken ribs) Doug Young says, 
"Stop making excuses and go bench, pussy.  Just know you'll never have chest hair like this."

21 May 2012

Chaos And Bang Your Earballs #5

There were titties discussed at great length, a decent amount of training, and Phil from Ironradio sat in, high as shit on Percs.  When I say high, I'm talking At one point, he says he wants to fuck Attila the Hun.  This is good shit.

The pics we discussed are this:

and this. 

You are welcome.

Mediafire for the nonstreamers.
Incidentally, this took forever to compress at a lower bitrate and those of you who requested I do so should throw yourselves down a flight of steps onto a pile of broken glass.

Just because I love you guys.

17 May 2012

Accessories To Murder 3-The Deadliest Moves

In the previous installments, I covered deadlifting in general and some of the greats' routines, all of which differed greatly except for two factors-consistency and volume.  They all did a hell of a lot of pulling, and they did it regularly.  You'll likely find, over time, that those two factors are evident in the lifestyles of any elite lifter, as they're really the only necessary factors for overall success in anything.  I certainly don't put myself in the pantheon of lifters like Coan and Kuc, etc, but I'm not a bad deadlifter either.  Of late, I've done no deadlifting because my focus has been on the squat, so I've had to come up with assistance exercises that will provide me with the necessary base of strength from which I can draw when I do finally step onto the platform to deadlift.  As such, so it would stand to reason that my assistance exercises are the tits, sincethey seem to be working pretty well.

Before I jump into my favorite routines and assistance lifts, however, I'll mention that I agree with Louie Simmons on at least one thing- "deadlift" as much as you can every week.  That's not to say you're actually going to deadlift, but you would be doing something to help your deadlift nearly every day.  Chuck Vogelpohl was famous for hitting the gym 10-14 times per week, hitting abs every time and lats five times a week.(Simmons)  He did this to build a base for deadlifting, and to keep his body conditioned to the incredible stress deadlifting puts on your body.  Though I had no knowledge of his routine previously, he and I are pretty much two tits in a bikini top on this issue, since I do something similar.  I do a combination of weighted and unweighted ab work at least 4x per week, upper back work in my morning workouts in the form of face pulls, pullups, high cable rows, or behind the neck pulldowns with a narrow grip, and hit back very heavily at least twice per week with one of the exercises listed below.
This is somehow relevant.

My Deadliest Deadlift Routines
Over the last 20 or so years, I've tried more permutations of programming than any neophyte could possibly imagine.  Given that the deadlift was my pet exercise for the better part of those 20 years, I've more or less acted like Pepe LePiew with the deadlift, and have come up with more rape and stalking strategies (for the deadlift) than he did for cartoon broads.  That is to say, a fucking lot of them.  My favorite deadlift workout, though, would have to be one of the following two.  The first was one i used religiously getting to a 500+ deadlift about ten years ago at a bodyweight of around 160, and the latter is one up with which I came in 2009 out of a combination of masochism and boredom.

To The Death (Deadlift Program 1)- assuming a 500 lb max
6-8 x 3-1 x 435-455 (I started with 435 for three and then added weight depending on whether or not I got the reps.  Once I got to 455 I went until it got nearly impossible to finish a rep, which was around the 6th set.)
Max reps x 315 (My record was somewhere around 20, at which point I usually greyed out and slumped to the floor.)

Rest When You're Dead (Deadlift Program 2)- assuming a ~600lb max
Max x 1 x 515 in 30 minutes.  On this one, I just deadlifted for exactly a half hour, pulling 85-90% of my 1RM as many times as I could.  Occasionally I'd do doubles, and every now and again a triple.  By the end, I think my record was 32 reps in 30 minutes, and I was cashed.  Shortly thereafter I pulled 615 in an unsanctioned meet, which was a huge PR for me.

The Deadliest Assistance Movements
The following are my favorite accessory movements for the deadlift.  I'm not going to get into the biomechanics of each, as doing so is generally the purview of people who fail to realize that the biomechanics are going to range from subtly to wildly different for each lifter based on their leverages, relative muscular strengths, and individual technique variations.  You'll also note that the very same people who will babble on about the biomechanics of lifts are generally shitty lifters hiding behind textbooks.  They're little more capable in terms of educating someone on the proper methods for completing an elite level lift than is a man who's read a shitload of carpentry books but barely touched a hammer would be if he were to educate you on the whys and wherefores of mansion construction.

What I do when selecting an accessory exercise is examine movements that resemble my main lift in whole or part and then incorporate that movement to shore up weak points and strengthen my overall support structure.  This means I'm using my brain to determine for myself which exercise is best, rather than nitpicking pointless minutia and dithering over physiological and neurological responses to various loading protocols in sundry in angles to facilitate the greatest hypertrophy, or whatever it is people do rather than actually lift weights.  Additionally, I will modify my form and range of motion on those assistance exercises to further compound the benefit derived therefrom, after, of course, a period of experimentation.  The following are exercises I've found that help my deadlift of late.  It is in no way a comprehensive list, nor any sort of a bible you should follow religiously, but it might give you some ideas.
Deadlifting doesn't always make you into a hideous, retarded-looking non-human.

In Order of Awesome...
Shrugs/ Rack Pulls.  Anyone who's seen me in person will tell you that the first thing they notice, aside from my astonishingly smashed nose and scarred face, are my traps.  The mountains on either side of my ears have risen to their current state of awesome by the rigorous and religious application of shrugs.  I could not love a human baby as much as I love shrugs.  As such, I've embarked upon a neck holocaust the likes of which the world will never see again.  I do these as a combination rack pull from knee height and shrug to get in extra pulling work, and I use my exact deadlift stance and grip width.  I always use straps on these, however, and pull double overhand.  Before you scream "That's bullshit!", simmer the fuck down and consider the following:
  • I have tiny little rat claws for hands
  • I have no interest in joining Diesel Crew
  • I use Spud straps, which effectively make this a fat bar pull
  • Powerlifting doesn't have a fucking grip event
  • I've never failed a pull because of my grip

Any time you see someone decrying the use of straps on a heavy pull, it's jealousy motivating his comments. Make no fucking mistake about that.  Thus, make like a hot broad in some sissy porn and strap it the fuck on.
Recommended rep range: 2-10.  Singles are more for fun than anything else on traps, and anything over 10 is cardio.
Ladies is pimps, too.

Bent Row.  I've done a wide array of bent over rows over the years, and recently have started doing what some would call a Pendlay row and what others will nitpick to death.  I could care less what you fuckers call it, but this is the form I've found to be most beneficial for the deadlift.  If you're not interested in watching the video, the lift begins and ends on the floor.  I take exactly the stance and grip width I'll use on deadlifts, then pull the bar like I'm trying to rip it through my solar plexus into my spine and then essentially drop it to the floor.  In doing so, I use as little upper body motion as possible with the maximum weight possible.  The key here is that violence plus heavy weight equals awesome.  I've found this has helped my pull from the floor tremendously, and I regard pretty much any weight on the deadlift under 600 with utter contempt since I've begun doing these on a regular basis.  Bent rows are to Olympic lifters and powerlifters what Coco Austin is to both black and white men- beloved by all.  They're also one of the mainstays of the much ballyhooed Coan/Phillippi program, if you need more convincing.
Recommended rep range: 1-5.  I generally stick with triples, but there's something to be said for the occasional single.

Zercher Squats.  Interestingly, this is one of Louie Simmons' pet lifts, and he's even built a harness with which to do these so his lifters with bicep tears can rock out with their cocks out (or if they're chicks, their baby cocks).  These definitely build upper back strength, in addition to beating on your abs they're trash cans in "Stomp".  I do these out of the rack or off the pins, depending on my mood, and have taken to calling partial Zerchers off the pins "Tombstones"... I guess due to the fact that they make me feel like I've going to fucking die, and because it mimics the action of ripping a tombstone out of the ground with your bare hands.
Recommended rep range: 1-4.  I despise doing these for reps, mostly due to the fact that it's hard to breathe.  By the end of a repalicious set, they're about as anaerobic as can be, because I'm definitely ready to pass the fuck out.

Stiff-Leg High Pull.  I love these and do them every so often, although I think I started doing them based on a misunderstanding of an exercise description in an article I can no longer find.  In any event, these definitely seem to transfer into a shitload of explosiveness off the floor, and they didn't hurt my knee when my patello-femoral tendonitis was acting like a bastard.  As such, I hammered the fuck out of these for a while, to seemingly good effect.  Like the aforementioned exercises, I used the same stance and grip width as my deadlift, then with more legs more or less straight pulled the bar as violently as I could, as high as I could.  My goal here was to increase my break speed off the ground, in addition to strengthen my upper back to compensate for the end of my deadlift, when my shoulders round and my legs are nearly locked out.
Recommended rep range: 1-3.

Does this defy virtually everything you've ever read about deadlifting?  Probably.  Are fucks given?  Definitely not.  As I stated above, most of the articles you read about training are written by know-nothings who lift nothing.  The preceding is what's worked for me, so it might work for you as well.  With luck, you'll use your deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills to synthesize all of the information in this series of posts and come up with something unique that works for you.

You're not a fucking gingerbread man, so stop using cookie-cutter routines, fuckface.

Simmons, Louie.  Westside Deadlift Training.  Elite FTS.  http://www.elitefts.com/documents/westside-deadlift-training.htm

12 May 2012

Tired Of My Music Recommendations? Tough Shit.

If you guys hadn't noticed, I've been breaking my ass coming up with content of late, and I'm taking the weekend off.  As such, I'm giving you new content that isn't terribly time consuming.  Additionally, I get dozens of emails asking for more recommendations.  As such, those of you who don't like that shit can suck my fucking dick.  The bands are the tits.

Recognize- Revenge. Recognize brings together the best of a couple of genres- toughguy hardcore, deathcore, and old-school two-step Hatebreed style moshbros-core.  They're in a weird hiatus status waiting for people to give them money to restart as a band or somesuch nonsense, and quite frankly, they're a worthy charity.  This shit is the truth- it's a bunch of pissed-off, face tatted, apparent Satanists playing misogynistic moshcore.  Witness:
That clothing company's about to do bumper business with me, too.
Recon- Hell.  For those amongst you who are long in the tooth like myself and 1990s hardcore kids, you'll likely remember the straightedge hardcore badasses One King Down and their epic dancefloor destroying song "Bloodlust Revenge".  Their original vocalist was Rob Fusco, who's returned to hardcore to break shit and melt faces in Recon.  Recon had a couple of horribly recorded previous releases that would have been great save the shit-poor leveling, but on this one they added a badass vocalist who actually competes in powerlifting and managed to figure out ProTools on this one.  The result was a cd dripping with breakdowns, digital bass booms, and harder than Clint Eastwood lyrics.  If you like Recon but prefer more Hatebreed-esque vox, check out Recon's Hell disc.

Structures- Divided By.  When I write, I generally listen to mathcore, which will likely surprise a lot of you.  The lack of groove in mathcore suits my writing style, as I write in short bursts as a general rule.  In any event, I recently happened across this band, and discovered that not only are they awesome for writing, but they bring the mosh enough to suit my needs when training as well.  If you're not a fan of the aforementioned bands, you might want to give this a try.  If you're not a fan of the aforementioned tits, you're not human.

World Of Pain- World Of Pain.  Combine the styles of Recognize and Recon, make the lyrics even tougher, and add in one of the singers from Billy Club Sandwich on one of the songs.  This is the best shit I've heard since Shattered Realm's first LP.  Epic fucking breakdown at 1:45.  I've been playing this in constant rotation since I first bought it, and if you've any sense at all, you will too.  Adds at least 100 testosterone points per song.

I can't stop posting pics of Alice Goodwin.  Bear with me.

Your Own Destroyer.  I have to admit that I have a terrible weakness for rapcore, and this band is by far and away the most ridiculous entry into that genre.  They combine elements of deathcore, OLC-style wiggerishness, and rap in ways that are awesome beyond any reasonable expectation.  Most of you will probably hate the shit out of this band, but fuck you- this shit is fucking amazing, in spite of the fact that their singer may be wearing an insulin pump. He's fat as shit.

Stout- Sleep Bitch.  I saved the worst recorded and most hilarious for last.  Stout's an anachronism the likes of which I've not seen before.  They're basically a throwback to Bulldoze and Boxcutter, half shouting and half rapping.  Their lyrics are fucking incredible:

Sleep.Count bodies not sheep. 
Go to sleep little creeps. 
Nighty night bye-bye. 
It's a thin line don't deviate, 
you're dancing with the devil and you're playing with fate, 
you don't know me, 
not the me that was the me that is I'm the noxious gas that will kill your kids, 
lay them on their backs, 
turn their souls to black, 
in the small of my back the Pachmayr's packed, 
to help you with those Z's 45 ACP. 
The Sandman cometh it's time for sleep. 
Sleep bitch, sleep bitch, sleep. 

You can't make this shit up.  Download it here and try not to kill yourself laughing.

Next week, I'll finish up the deadlifting series and try to bust out something content laden.  
Because why not.

09 May 2012

Chaos and Bang Your Earholes Continues

Send us more questions or I'll have this broad whoop your ass.  Actually, make that, will not allow her to do so.

If you want less tits and more collabs, check out http://chaosandbang.blogspot.com

06 May 2012

Martial Arts Movies That Will Give You A Viagra Hardon

In the inaugural article for Chaos and Bang (which I'm reposting), we're going to review our favorite martial arts movies of all time.  We've got no real criteria for this, other than the fact that they have to be considered martial arts movies, and for this one, won't be weapons-based.  As such, no Zatoichi films and no Jeff Speakman up in this motherfucker, may his mullet be praised.  Paul and Jamie have somewhat different background in the fighting arts, as Jamie fucked about in TKD (as did most of us) for a couple of years before abandoning it for wrestling, followed by jeet kune do and then judo and mixed martial arts.  Paul, on the other hand, trained in Ninjutsu, (Togakure) Kenpo, and Krav Maga .  Where we converge is that we both love awesome, and by awesome we mean dripping with testosterone and does not in any way involve Ang Lee.
Fuck Ang Lee.

Jamie's Ultimate Chop-Socky Playlist

Fist of Legend.  Without question, the greatest kung-fu film of all time.  FOL stars a somewhat young Jet Li in his best-received role.  In FOL, he plays fictional Chinese historical figure Chen Zhen, a guy who's a blend of Chinese masturbatory material and anti-imperialist Fong Sai Yuk and a student of vaunted Chinese martial artist Huo Yuenjia to become the ultimate Chinese folk hero.  This movie's actually a remake of Bruce Lee's Chinese Connection, and was used as the basis for a sequel/remake starring Donny Yen in Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen,  which gets honorable mention for being fucking awesome.  In any event, this is Jet Li at his best- right from the giddy-up, he's breaking limbs and cracking skulls, and culminates in his utter destruction of the largest Japanese man since Sonny Chiba was last seen on screen in the bloodiest Jet Li battle ever.  Given that his battles are never bloody, this means there were a few trickles of blood, which makes this the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of Jet Li films.
This movie's awesome for a couple of reasons- one, minimal wirework.  There's nothing more annoying than watching a couple of tiny Chinese people skip through the treetops and occasionally bounce off each other in what's more of a homosexual interpretive dance than a fistfight.  Two, first use of a belt as an ass-kicking device in a film.  Without this film, Jason Statham would have half of his fight scenes cut out of the Transporter series and would be reduced to perhaps whipping people in the eyes with his suspenders.  Three, it features almost none of the wushu bullshit you see in modern Chinese films, and seems to utilize a fair amount of wing chun techniques mixed with western boxing against traditional Chinese and Japanese styles.  This must be an homage to Bruce for his work in the Chinese Connection, as Chen Zhen seems to espouse JKD without naming it as such.  Four, training montage, motherfucker, with a full on Rocky-running-through-the-streets scene.  Finally, there's minimal bullshit and maximal asskicking, so you can watch it without having to wash the shame off you like you did after waking up at the end of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky.  If' you've not seen this film, punch yourself in the fucking face.  Starring little known Hong Kong martial artist Louis Fan, Riki-Oh's an adaptation of a Japanese manga by the same name.  The plot of Riki Oh is the same as half of the pit-fighting movies of the 1990's- dude's girlfriend gets whacked by local crime boss, boyfriend avenges, evil corporations/corrupt legal system put him in jail, he must fight to survive.  That, my friends, is where this motherfucker goes right off the rails.  Riki's blessed with inhuman strength, which he uses to kill the Double Dragon style bosses in hilarious and awesomely gory ways.  Riki punches a dude so hard his eye pops out, ties his own hand back on by connecting veins and tendons with his teeth, gets strangled by a guy with the guy's own intestines, sees a guy crush another dude's head with his bare hands (which was a meme on the Daily Show before that retard Kilbourne quit the show), and stuffs an extra from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers into a giant meat grinder.
This movie's more fun than having a preacher's daughter lick your asshole while playing Call of Duty and getting fellated by a toothless whore at a live GWAR show in Rio during Carnivale.  Seriously, watch this movie- it was the first movie to get rated NC-17 in Hong Kong without showing any graphic sex.

The Raid: Redemption.  I managed to see this movie in the one week it showed in the festering shitlhole referred to by local Alabamians as "Birmingham".  While watching this movie I gained a solid pound of muscle mass and afterward I had a hardon for three straight days.  This is the ultimate action movie- boatloads of non-cgi gore, broken bones, incredibly hyperkinetic hand-to-hand and non-firearm fight scenes, and a hell of a lot of shooting.  The movie features what is for many a little known style of martial arts called Pencak Silat, which is actually a redundant term that refers to all of the Indonesian martial arts.  While a bit flashy, they're practical enough to earn Paul's seal of CCQ approval and the weapons scenes make the ultra-awesome Rob Zombie vehicle House of 1000 Corpses seem tame by comparison.

If you're curious about the plot, it's pretty simple- an Indonesian SWAT team tries to raid a MOVE/New Jack City style slum fortress, only to get trapped inside and have to fight their way out.  In short, just about everyone shown on screen dies in spectacular, bloody fashion.  This pic's slated to become a  trilogy and to get an American remake, so you might as well check it out ASAP so you're up to speed when the rest of them come out.  This shit is going to be like Harry Potter, only without all of the pussy bullshit.  I suppose, then, it'll be nothing whatsover like Harry Potter, as these movies will actually increase the size of your dick, rather than transforming it into a bloody vagina. Players of quiddich should not watch this, and probably should consider various creative ways to end their lives for bringing shame upon their families.

Out For Justice.  In the 1990s, there were exactly two names in martial arts films- Van Damme and Seagal.  On the one hands, you had a guy that meshed the best of 1980s chop-socky flicks with Stallone's physique, the splits, and a terrible Bruce Lee impression, and on the other you had a NYC guido with a ponytail and a penchant for breaking bones and throwing people over counters and through walls.  They both had their place, but most people would agree that Steven Seagal's films were, at their peak, totally unfuckingtouchable.  Seagal's best three films involved so much gratuitous violence and gore that they were practically horror films, and they made Van Damme's attempts look PG by comparison.  The best of Seagal's films was, by far, Out For Justice, if only for one scene.  In it, Seagal drops a cue ball into a bar towel and proceeds to knock out teeth and break bones, as only 1990s Seagal could.  Best of all, he mocks the shit out of the mooks he's beating as he does so, making the scene both hilarious and erection-worthy.
The plot is essentially that Seagal is chasing a coked up gangster-wannabe around NYC, throwing people through windows and beating them bloody in the process.  Oh, and he saves a puppy.  If nothing else, OFJ deserves note for being the only thing in history to lend credence to aikido as a fighting style.  Additionally, "Sticks" in the above scene was none other than Dan Inosanto, Bruce Lee's most famous and successful student.  If you're still underwhelmed, Seagal's actually been credited with coaching Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida to knockout victories in the UFC, and he's married to an actual Mongol, which is fucking awesome.  Although Seagal's fight scenes eventually devolved into him flailing his arms in front of the camera like a basketball player in one of their epic "thug" slap "fights", Seagal in his prime was about one thing- kicking ass like he was a donkey herder on a timetable.

Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior.  Boasting that same total disregard for the health of their extras as the Raid, Ong Bak features Tony Jaa wrecking shop using Muay Boran, and ultrahard style abandoned in modern times for the much more sensitive style Muay Thai.  I'll admit the plot is fucking retarded (a guy living in the jungle travels to the big city to battle crime lords for trinkets stolen from his village) and the music sounds like whales raping each other, but the fighting is pretty much second to none and the stunts gave Jackie Chan a hardon.  When Jackie Chan's impressed by your stunt work, you know you're the shit.
Filled with elbows to the face that clearly connect, a ridiculous jump through a cart filled with knives, ridiculous chase scenes, and Tony Jaa jumping off shit and landing on top of people while leading with his knees, this movie probably had more insurance claims filed in its making than any other film ever.  That's including the Wizard of Oz, wherein the midgets apparently went berserk while drunk, raped some broads, and torched the movie set.  Although you'll likely feel a strange compulsion to slam the point of your elbow into the crown of your neighbor's skull for stepping on your grass for the rest of your life, this film definitely needs to be in your collection.

Those are testicles in his hand.

Honorable Mention:
Street Fighter- Sonny Chiba works out on a Marcy Trainer (Bruce Lee style) and rips a rapist's cock and balls off with his bare hands, then shows it to the guys and disgustedly wipes off his hand on the dude's shirt, and rips out another guys trachea.  Nuff' said.
Bloodsport- Van Damme's finest work.  Monkey kung fu, Bolo Yeung, and splits.
No Retreat, No Surrender- Imagine Karate Kid + breakdancing and Van Damme as Johnny.  Yeah, it's that good.
Transporter 2- The best of the series, features a fairly hot broad and Jason Statham's best fight scenes prior to Safe.
The One- Statham and Jet Li in a movie that doesn't blow dogshit (like Chaos did) but unfortunately does not feature Kyokushin champ Dolph Lundgren.

You'll note there's no Jackie Chan and no Bruce Lee.  This is because Jackie Chan's movies have great stunts but shit fighting and G-rated plots, and Bruce's movies were great in their day but pale in comparison to modern films.  I'm sure that raises some hackles, but as always, feel free to go fuck yourself- I'm right and you're wrong.

Paul's Top Martial Arts Movies

Much like our training, mine and Jamie's picks for Martial Art movies run pretty opposite ends of the spectrum in some ways, and not so much in others.

I had to dig deep for this.  Mainly because I have become very fastidious and critical about what I really like from a movie perspective.  So most martial arts movies have become too cliché for me.

Nevertheless, I watched more martial arts movies in my youth than Jamie has jacked off this week.  So I will draw upon my dense database of martial arts movies that I remember loving and go from there.

Rapid Fire I was a huge Brandon Lee fan.  I thought he was doing a very amicable job of picking up the legacy of movie making left by his father, Bruce.  Everyone knows the "best" movie he did was The Crow, however that was not a martial arts movie.  Rapid Fire was.  And as a kid I must have watched this movie 10,169 times.  This particular scene was quite funny because he kept beating the shit out of these two guys by using doors.

Brandon plays Jake Lo, a student who witnesses a murder between two rival drug lords.  Jake is took into protection to make sure he stays alive long enough in order to testify.  You've heard and read this one before I'm sure.  He ends up getting framed, so Jake has to beat the shit out of some people do some outrageous shit to help clear his name.  And that's where the fighting comes in......

Revenge of the Ninja I have watched this movie since I was a kid, and it is utterly ridiculous in so many ways.  From Sho's family getting killed by a Ninja clan for what seems like, no reason at all, to the quote that "only a Ninja can stop a Ninja", it's truly a grade B piece of shit.  There's even a scene where Sho and his cop friend go out to a children's playground to talk to some former convicts, to get a lead on a robbery.

Why are ex-cons hangout out at the fucking play ground?  I'm not making this shit up.  Not only that, but in that particular scene, both the cop and Sho beat the shit out of each convict about 18 times, because there is a fight scene, then a cut scene back to the other guy fighting, so forth and so on.  It's fucking ridiculous.

With that said, it was still responsible for my love of Ninja's and martial arts through my youth, and the score for the movie is still epic.  There is also hot tub scene with great big tittays.  And what's wrong with great big tittays in a hot rub?  Nothing.

The Perfect Weapon I saw this flick in the movies based off nothing but the cardboard pop up.  I remember being blown away at how fucking awesome Speakman was, and how they laid out his Kenpo training.  Of course, this made me want to take Kenpo really bad, so when I moved from Mississippi to Louisiana and found out there was a Kenpo school just up the road from me, I was on it.

The great thing about Kenpo is that it's a soft style martial art, meaning the defender uses the attackers momentum or force against them, or to the defenders advantage.  This was the first time I had really seen this put into action this particular way, even though I realized later I had seen many examples of soft styles before.  For me however, the way Speakman incorporated into this flick really made it stand out.  His mullet, while miniature, also stood out as well.

Speakman is basically just a "dude" who goes home to see his old friend, only to find out he's been thrown under the bus in a racketeering type business and can't get out.  Speakman of course, is going to go around town forcing rusty trombones on people until someone coughs up who is doing this is and why.

There are two really awesome fighting scenes in this movie for me.  The first one is in the store, where the guy splits Speakman's stick in half.  The look on his face of "thanks for doing me that favor" is priceless.  The second one was the one where he went into the dojo, and fought three guys.  Lucky for me, this clip basically covers the whole movie!
Above the Law Jamie picked Out For Justice, but to me, Above the Law was Seagal's best movie, and I must have watched it 324 times, which coincidentally is what Seagal was weighing in at for some time.  The actual movie was pretty good, which is saying something for ol Stevie, since he made some fucking whoppers in his time.  And by whoppers, I mean the most horrid shit ever put on "direct to DVD".  And by the most horrid shit ever put on "direct to DVD" I mean....well  you get it.  

In Above, Seagal is a cop (no fucking way?) in Chicago who has a shady CIA past.  He's trying to put away some drug dealings that ends up having ties to his past, and there's the majority of your plot.  But Above the Law was really solid.  And much like The Perfect Weapon, the appearance of the mullet was inevitable.  

Enter the Dragon Without a doubt the best Bruce Lee movie of all time.  And interestingly enough, for a bit of trivia, it was Lee's only English speaking movie.  I agree with Jamie that this movie pales in comparison to more modern day martial arts movies, but I put it into mine because it is such a classic and I felt like it would suck to leave it out.  

Lee is hired by the British government to participate in a martial arts tournament on this Island Fortress, so he can investigate a possible slave ring/trade that is going on there.  Lee learns that the dude hosting this event is also responsible for his sisters death, and now we have a vehicle.  

The most classic scene from the flick is the one where Bruce fights his sisters actual murderer, O'Hara.  The opening bitch slapping sequence is one of my fave scenes of all time.  

Honorable Mention:
No Retreat No Surrender:  Jamie stole this from me.  Let me say what you really need to do, is get high as fuck and watch this movie.  You will never EVER be more entertained in your life.  

Cyborg  Beyond terrible movie with Jean Claude God Damn, however there is a fight scene up in an abandoned building that is pretty fucking mint.  And by pretty fucking mint I mean the choreography in it was pretty first rate for a shitty ass B movie with no movie and no names and no-idea-if-it-was-direct-to-dvd....movie. 

Way of the Dragon Chuck Norris vs Bruce Lee.  Nuff said.

Undisputed II  Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins in a Russian prison where a martial arts tournament is taking place.  That's your flick.  Adkins is retardedly talented and personally I thought them letting the "good guy" (White) beat him was pretty fucking stupid.  Sorry for the spoiler, but it's not like it's Schindler's list.
Satisfied, fuckface?

04 May 2012

I Am Not A Superhero #2

This pic has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that it's fucking cool.

In the first installment of this series, I began to detail the ways in which you might elevate your overall perfomance and attitude, as I found it odd that people view me as some sort of freak beyond their capacity to match or exceed in performance.  My success boils down, essentially, to one thing- I fucking want it more than other people do.  I want to transcend anything anyone has ever done and ultimately transcend the human condition, by sheer force of will alone.  I'm neither genetically predisposed toward extreme strength nor am I particularly well-framed for powerlifting.  I've got tiny joints, small bones, and incredibly tiny hands at the end of arms neither short enough to make the bench press a simple matter nor long enough to confer anything remotely approaching an advantage on the deadlift.  As such, I find it objectionable when people will claim that something is impossible when it's within their reach, or claim that they've achieved some great feat when in reality their accomplishment is remarkably pedestrian by any realistic and critical standard.  To wit:
  • A bodyweight squat is not an accomplishment.  Frankly, it's not even cause for minor celebration, unless you've spent a considerable portion of your life bedridden, paralyzed, or otherwise crippled.  You know who gets excited about bodyweight squats?  People who should keep their dumb fucking mouths shut about it and go back to the sad little prison of a basement apartment out of which they apparently crawled for an internet signal.
  • Unless you're a woman or weigh less than 115 lbs., a 225 bench press is not noteworthy.
  • With the same caveats as the first two events, a 315 deadlift is not noteworthy.
The bullet points listed above are easily achievable lifts for ANYONE within a year of lifting.  If you've not hit those marks, you need to sit down and do some real soul-searching.  You'll arrive at but one answer.

You're not fucking trying hard enough.

The face of seriousness- generally fucking retarded.

This likely comes as a tough pill to swallow for the lot of you, but the only thing that's going to get your weights to rise is hard fucking work.  Picking the right program, using the right form, having the right gym... that's all ancillary bullshit that will help, but cannot take you where you want to go without the necessary mindset driving the whole thing.  Basically, most people are trying to build a Ferrari from the ground up but  are too busy fucking with the paint and the stereo to bother putting anything under the hood bigger than a lawnmower engine.  It'd be like preparing your entire life to bang 100 chicks in a row, getting tan, hitting the gym, making sure your hair looks right and reading the Kama Sutra, only to realize when you get there that you're gay and cannot get hard in the presence of women.  The whole fucking thing is ass-backwards, but most people think that the mere fact they talk and stress about the details of lifting so much that the rest will take care of itself.
Before we start whining about steroids- that dude is straightedge.

This isn't entirely your fault, though, especially if you're under the age of 25.  Since its inception, the internet's made great strides in reducing humanity to a gibbering fat sack of shit capable of doing little more than posting pictures everyone's seen a million times bearing slightly altered and badly rendered catchphrases on them and clicking buttons to play games with which retards would grow board in seconds.  Growing up in this environment has fucked the younger generations, because in the face of all of this idiocy people under the age of 25 are used to having their own insecurities affirmed rather than denied, and think they're capable of far less than they actually are as a result.  This is actually due to the way your brain develops, though- "The prefrontal lobes, which allow for salient decisions, don't fully mature until you're 24,  Until then, you're at the mercy of the prevailing opinions of your memetic organism."( Travis-Henikoff 92).  In short- you suck because you've not lobotomized yourself to erase the overwhelming theme of catastrophic failure and mental weakness with which your generation has brainwashed you.

Your Smolov calculator's not going to lift the fucking weights for you, champ.
Unless, of course, it looks like this.

To illustrate my point, I'll give you an anecdote from my life.  Pursuant to my posts about deadlifts, I've been working them into my workouts.  Yesterday, I deadlifted sumo for the first time in about 10 years.  I took a crazy-wide stance that exaggerated my new squat stance and worked on getting my ass down to work my hip flexibility.  Using that, all of my sets through 495 were crazy easy- I lifted the weight effortlessly just so I didn't have to stay in the stretch position.  The first time I tried 585, however, I couldn't budge the weight, which was preposterous.  I was appalled, and considered just saying fuck it to the entire workout and going home, thinking maybe I needed more rest, since I'm taken 2 days off in the last 21.  I walked to the water fountain and resolved to do more pulls with 495, since I'd barely worked out and sumo deadlifts couldn't possibly be that difficult.  I started tearing the weight off the floor, legitimately pissed at it for fucking with me.  Then I increased the weight to 545.  Then 585, then I pulled 605 for a single, about a half hour of lifting after I'd getting my balls kicked in by 585.  I did that because I refused to lose, which is something more people need to fucking learn.

A steadfast refusal to admit defeat is what has perennially delineated winners from losers, and the successful from the unsuccessful.  If you're satisfied with "good enough", then good for you, but fuck off, because the adults have shit to talk about.  Elite athletes all share two things in common- and insatiable desire to win and internalized motives to succeed.(Connaughton)   Without those things, you cannot become pretty fucking good at something, much less elite, unless you happen to be a complete freak of nature.  Although elite athletes are the parties most generally studied in regards to their motivation the its contribution to their success, there's another group of seeming superhumans who generally transcend even the mindsets of athletes- warriors.

Though warriors have a bit of an added impetus to succeed, like not getting shot in the fucking face, they've honed their skills at being fucking awesome.  They know, however, that before you get into the nitty gritty of sallying forth and conquering shit, you've got to focus on your goal.  Of all the people in history, few are more renown for their ability to focus on a goal and achieve it than elite military forces.  I've no background in the military due to my overwhelming hatred of authority figures, but the guys in elite military units ranging from the SAS to the Seals to the former Selous Scouts to the Spartan 300 know that they're capable of driving their bodies to superhuman feats through nothing but the power of iron-clad minds.  Though we're not humping a bunch of shit into the ass end of nowhere to fight for a cause only rich white men with a shitload of cash to earn off it can fully understand, the warrior mindset can aid lifters as well.  Our war's not an exernal war, however, it's an internal battle against weakness.  Done right, blood and sweat will be shed, but in the end, the victor will emerge strong, more confident, and more resilient than when they entered the fray, or they'll become a bitchy poster on some internet board whining about how "nothing works for them and they're doomed forever.  Please help."
A pistol in your grill doesn't hurt, either.  With that kind of motivation, I'm thinking we'd see a lot more 500 lbs squats.

One thing all warriors share is a survival mindset, which essentially boils down to a psychotic focus on a specific goal, which ostensibly includes the continuation of breathing.  "A survival mindset denotes a presence of mind allowing the warrior to focus completely on the task of the moment.  It is a mindset totally devoid of emotion, where perception, analysis, and response all merge into one process."(Siddle 134)  Lest you think it's not, this is totally applicable to weight training or any other sport- you have to focus on what's at hand and not on the other bullshit in your life.  If you focus your attention entirely on that deadlift rather than half-assing it because it's been easy up to that point, you'll make the lift rather than miss it.  No matter what the Chicken Littles on the internet might say, you life is rarely at stake in the gym, but your honor, your integrity, and your self-worth sure as shit are, especially if the person you've been trying to impress happens to be watching you out of the corner of their eye and you've made a show of getting psyched up for a big attempt.  You have to learn to focus your entire existence down to a few scant moments and a couple of square feet if you truly want to move huge weights- if you're preoccupied with bullshit, you're effectively dead.

Psyching yourself up for a lift, then, become fucking critical.  I've personally always hated the whole slapping scenario before a lift, but it does stimulate your CNS to dump adrenaline.  In my world, getting slammed in the face is either a prelude to fighting or fucking (or both), but not lifting.  I personally find it distracting, and it makes me angry as shit when people touch me as I'm preparing to hit a big lift.  Not angry in a good way- angry in a distracted, "I want to fucking stab the toucher" sort of way.  Thus, it's important to figure out what is going to work for you to get into the proper mindset, help you control your emotions and aid you in removing negativity from your mind.  Negativity in any form while lifting is a terrible thing, even when it comes in the form of the oft repeated "Lift that weight, pussy!" format.  If your spotters not bleeding from an open head wound after you rack the weight, you likely believe that you are in fact a pussy, so you're pretty much fucked from the get-go.    Some fear of the weight you're lifting is positive, however, as the adrenaline dump you get from initiating your fight or flight response redirects blood flow to major muscles.(Siddle 89)  The adrenal secretions from the FOF response have been shown to increase performance in gross motor skills like simple pushes, pulls, and squats (i.e. powerlifting movements), so that fear (or any other mentally excited but focused state into which you can put yourself) is actually a good thing.(Siddle 43)  Walking into the gym piss scared of every weight, however, is just as destructive as being too relaxed, however-"Too much anxiety, fear, sadness...can paralyze."(Rosenberg Forging)  Thus, you are going to have to lift a lot of fucking weights before you even come to a reasonable conclusion about what constitutes a genuinely big weight.

This is where high volume training comes to save the day, once again.  Not only does high-volume training make you demonstrably stronger (see the eleventy billion posts I've written on the subject for citations), but it allows you to learn to perform at very high levels in a high stress environment, like in a competition.(Siddle 35)  Doing this is considered by experts to be a critical aspect of training, and is absolutely necessary if you want to perform consistently at the highest levels.  This isn't just because you're strong as shit after training with high weights and low reps day after day, but because at that point your form and response to high weights are controlled completely by your subconscious- there's no lag as you think about shit, and there's no degradation in performance due to high levels of anxiety inspired by a load that greatly exceeds that to which you are used.
Rizelyx says "Fuck Smolov in his stupid ass".

Sometimes even the most John Henry of motherfuckers finds him or herself completely flummoxed by their lack of success, and injury, or just a blase mood.  Should you find yourself fucked and betrayed utterly by your body, you need to go against your instincts to fall back on dogma and approach the problem with a flexible mind.  If the internet is any indication, you motherfuckers will start screaming "SMOLOV!" at the top of your fucking lungs and run screaming for a camera and a calculator at the first fucking setback.  Restrain your apparently natural impulse for attention whoring and rigid systems of training established by a Russian for whom I couldn't even find a fucking biography.  Sit down and actually think about what you've been doing.  Think about your levels of motivation, your recent progress, your form.  One-size-fits-all programs are in vogue in our current environment, as most people appear to have a fucking hardon for a benevolent dictatorship that will give them all of the fucking answers while eliminating any trace of individualism we might have left.  Fuck all that- rigidity is rarely the answer, and it's never the answer for elite athletes when attempting to reach a positive resolution when mired in a negative situation.(Troy)  Remember that Smolov's only been popular since Pavel brought it to the US, and most of the records in the US have been stagnant in that time.
Well, he certainly appears as one would expect an authority on powerlifting to look.

Though you might think I've run rather far afield from my original theme, it all ties back to the original theme- the shit I do is possible because I've got the correct mental environment to facilitate it.  No great feat in history was ever achieved without a burning desire to achieve greatness, and aiming low will only limit your capability to be remembered positively.  Get your fucking chins up and expect more out of yourselves, because I'm no more a fucking superhero than you could be if you simply stopped letting your goddamned brains make you suck.

Sack the fuck up and go do something epic.

     Connaughton D, Wadey R, Hanton S, Jones G.  The development and maintenance of mental toughness: perceptions of elite performers.  J Sports Sci. 2008 Jan 1;26(1):83-95.
     Rosenberg, Robin.  Forging Steel. Part 2: Soldiers, Superheroes, and Resilience.  The Superheroes.  Psychology Today.  10/22/11.  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superheroes/201110/forging-steel-part-2-soldiers-superheroes-and-resilience
     Siddle, Bruce K.  Sharpening the Warrior's Edge.
     Travis-Henikoff, Carole.  Dinner With A Cannibal.  Santa Monica:  Santo Monica Press, 2008.
     Troy AS, Mauss IB.  Resilience in the face of stress: emotion regulation as a protective factor.  Chapter appeared in S. Southwick, D. Charney, M. Friedman, & B. Litz (Eds.), Resilience to stress. Cambridge University Press. Published online.  http://www.du.edu/psychology/erl/troy%20mauss_resilience.pdf