31 October 2013

How Do You Make A Hormone? Don't Pay Her. #1

For the most part, estrogen sucks.  Whether it's because it's the cause of an argument in the sofa section of Ikea over one's appreciation for Swedish meatballs or because it cuases people to hold more bodyfat and feels, it's a pain in the ass.  Worse yet- estrogen seems to be the cause behind a lot of bad workouts for women in the gym and a lot of shitty experiences at meets.  Lots of research has gone into the subject in an attempt to determine what exactly is at the root of women's periodic issues on the platform, and the results of those studies are as interesting as they are contradictory... much like the best kind of women.

The good news is, however, that this condition is, in fact, manageable through diet, training, herbal regimens, and exogenous testosterone.  

[Because I lack a vagina and might just be talking out of my ass after reading a bunch of science, I enlisted the help of Nuprin to give a female perspective.  Thus, she'll be interjecting periodically.]  
Nuprin: In my experience, swinging wildly between suicidal and super happy is no picnic. But consistent lifting and regular eating has managed to not only quell my mood swings, but also regulate my cycle (cool, huh?).

Ladies, if you're still with us and have not ragequit the article to whip up a batch of anthrax to send my way, allow me to explain: there are three ways in which estrogen seems to fuck with female lifters- estrogen/testosterone imbalances, estrogen-cocktail birth control, and menstruation.  I'm not going to tell you guys that  have all of the answers, but as this shit is rarely, if ever, discussed, it seems it bears some discussion here, both because it will keep more of my friends from getting stabbed and because I'm fairly certain chicks are sick to death for being dominated by their endocrine systems.

It would be far too simple to state that estrogen is "the Debbil" and that women should just all start jacking test to solve all of life's problems.  While exogenous testosterone has been and continues to be used to treat everything from depression to low libido/sexual dysfunction to impaired cognitive function to impaired cardiovascular function to poor body composition (Davis, Davis), I'm not going to suggest that women start popping Anavar like Tic-Tacs every time they catch a case of the nutties (though I know of more than one chick who does to fairly good result).  Maintaining higher test levels is essential to dominating on the platform and the bedroom, and we'll address how to do so in a bit, but the bigger issue fucking up females when they hit the gym isn't so much testosterone deficiency as "estrogen dominance".

Femdom does not count as "estrogen dominance".

Though it's something of a hotly contested condition, doctors who have identified issues of estrogen dominance have found a massive imbalance in estrogen versus progesterone and testosterone.  When such an imbalance occurs, it leads to a massive range of unfun bullshit with which chicks are familiar, ranging from "an increase in PMS symptoms, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis, as well as symptoms including allergies, decreased libido, fatigue, fibrocystic breasts, headaches, infertility, irritability, to fat gain around the abdomen and on the top of the thighs" (Lucille).

While I've never had the grave misfortune to experience the Santa Claus-sized bag of hellish nonsense that is menstruation, estrogen dominance seems to provide year-round enjoyment of PMS without any of the wild-eyed horniness, bleeding, or eventual relief of a period.  As we all know, if a man is going to dance with a demon, he should end up with his red wings at some point, and estrogen dominance seems to spit squarely in the eye of that concept and simply turn everyone's life into a non-stop Shark Week with no reprieve.

Luckily, there is a way to treat this issue- simply raise your test levels like you're a member of the Esoteric Order of Dagon trying to raise Cthulu from the depths of the ocean.  There are a variety of ways to do this and they have varying levels of success.  Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to train your ass off and eat a meat and fat-rich diet, as cholesterol is a precursor to testosterone.  That, however, probably has the mildest effect.  Next up, you could try taking a variety of vitamins/minerals and prohormones aimed at raising testosterone levels and balancing estrogen and progesterone levels.  For this, I would recommend a combination of DHEA, ZMA, and vitamin C every day in the following dosages:

DHEA-  50mg-100mg (this dosage has been shown to dramatically raise test levels in women and alleviate or eliminate depression)
ZMA- something with at least 30mg of zinc.  ZMA is a great sleep aid, and zinc in particular raises libido and test in women (Poliquin).  Magnesium has also been shown to raise the testosterone levels of athletes (Cinar), and B6 seems to work synergistically with the aforementioned two (Simpson).
Vitamin C- 1.5g  Vitamin C helps reduce the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen in women, which is crucial if you're going to kill the estrogenic demon residing in your endocrine system (Simpson).

Another route, of course, is the "prohormone" (read: designer steroid) route, or just straight up steroids.  I've know a number of chicks who have done this with courses of action ranging from insane recklessness to ridiculous overcautiousness and have yet to see them anything but happier as a result, with none of the masculinizing side effects.  That's not to say I am recommending it, but Anavar or Winstrol would not be the worst course of action to take, either.  For those of you who think I am insane/irresponsible/an asshole (I concede to that), doctors have been prescribing anything from oral to topical to injectible testosterone to women to treat hypoactive libido and depression since the late 1930s (Abdallah, Dyett).  

20 mg of var a day will not turn you into this, honestly.

The next bit of Downton Abbey-style estrogen-induced horror is the effect of birth control on strength in women.  This is honestly something I had never considered, because being a remarkably self-centered man, I just thought it was something women did to avoid making sex about as much fun as showering with your socks on by including a hazmat suit for my cock.  When the issue was raised, however, it seemed to make a great deal of sense- no lifter is jacking estrogen to get their squat PR up.  As it happens, birth control does appear to have a profoundly negative effect on muscular strength.  This does not appear to be necessarily due to the fact that they're supplemental estrogen, however, but because most birth control pills contain antiandrogens to suppress test levels as the estrogen rises.  This creates a situation much like what I described above, and one study showed that the inclusion of the antiandrogens (most notably cyproterone-acetate) was roughly as useful for gaining fat free mass and strength as a diet of naught but mayonnaise while doing yoga twice a week (Ruzić).  

I blame this shitfest of a show completely on estrogen.  This show is so boring I wanted to drown myself in a dive bar urinal in the 10 seconds it took me to find this picture.  It's so boring that it actually makes me reconsider my stance on the Golden Girls.  It's so boring that I... fuck.  The show's too fucking boring to joke about.  Someone firebomb the BBC.

Other studies have shown that irrespective of the inclusion of antiandrogens, birth control doubles the recovery time women must endure between heavy weight training sessions (Savage), though it has no effect on recovery from endurance training (Thompson).  As if that were not enough, here is the coup de grace for worthwhile vaginal sex with serious lifters- birth control, no matter it's formulation, decreases free testosterone levels in women taking it by an average of 61%.  That means you're 61% worse at assimilating protein, creating fat-free mass, staying lean, and being an aggressive, world dominating, bad ass motherfucker.  Not only that, but as birth control reduces women's libidos and impairs their ability to orgasm, they're not even getting the testosterone boost or the dopamine and serotonin dump that comes with orgasm, they're even more likely to be frazzled, pissed off, and unready to train (Women's Health).

Hot until you realize that's your blood because you told her to "get her fucking head in the game" after she missed a lift.

Thus, not only does birth control virtually guarantee that chicks who take it are going to spend an extra 15 minutes a day picking out their workout attire because everything makes them look fat, but when they finally drag their asses into the gym they'll have less energy, and their pre-PR psyche-up will blow dogshit, no matter how hard their lifting partners try to pump them the fuck up, because they lack the necessary testosterone to harness the beautiful, white hot aggression that comes with high levels of testosterone.  

The great irony here is that vaginas are basically humongous vacuum-style testosterone receptors, and having a guy hose down their cervix with cum actually raises their testosterone levels significantly, which is part of the reason doing so is so pleasant for everyone involved.  Tragically, the only thing worse for your gainz are babies, so you really have to weigh your options before hopping on the good foot to do the bad thing.
Nuprin: A stack of B12 and Iron has almost always gotten me OK enough to train, along with plenty of water. 
Now that we've covered all that, all we have left is the dreaded shark week, which is pretty much a horrible time for everyone involved and for broads in particular.  Nuprin and I will make sure we arm you will of the knowledge we can in regards to managing and mastering training during shark week and why one should never, ever compete during shark week, if for no other reason than to keep you from resigning yourself or your girl to the red tent.  

Abdallah RT, Simon JA.  Testosterone therapy in women: its role in the management of hypoactive sexual desire disorder.  Int J Impot Res. 2007 Sep-Oct;19(5):458-63. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

Barnhart KT, Freeman E, Grisso JA, Rader DJ, Sammel M, Kapoor S, Nestler JE.  The effect of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation to symptomatic perimenopausal women on serum endocrine profiles, lipid parameters, and health-related quality of life.  J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Nov;84(11):3896-902.

Cinar V, Polat Y, Baltaci AK, Mogulkoc R.  Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion.  Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Apr;140(1):18-23.

Davis SR, Davidson SL. Current perspectives on testosterone therapy in women. Menopausal Medicine. 2012;20:S1.

Davis SR, Tran J.  Testosterone influences libido and well being in women.  Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Jan-Feb;12(1):33-7.

Dyett, Linda.  Should Women Consider Taking Testosterone?  Huffington Post.  30 Jul 2013.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/30/testosterone-women-hormone-therapy_n_3634847.html

5 suprising effects of the pill.  Women's Health.  Web.  30 Oct 2013.  http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/women/5-surprising-effects-of-the-pill-1#3 

Lucille, Holly.  Estrogen Dominance: Too Much of a Good Thing Can Certainly Be BAD!American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.  Web.  29 Oct 2013.  http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?admin=Y&contentid=401

Poliquin, Charles.  Top Ten Benefits of Zinc.  9 Feb 2012.  Web.  30 Oct 2013.  http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/812/Top_Ten_Benefits_of_Zinc.aspx

Ruzić L, Matković BR, Leko G.  Antiandrogens in hormonal contraception limit muscle strength gain in strength training: comparison study.  Croat Med J. 2003 Feb;44(1):65-8.

Savage KJ, Clarkson PM.  Oral contraceptive use and exercise-induced muscle damage and recovery.  Contraception. 2002 Jul;66(1):67-71.

Simpson, Jamie.  How to increase testosterone levels naturally in women.  Livestrong.  18 Aug 2009.  Web.  30 Oct 2013.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/21635-increase-testosterone-levels-naturally-women/

Thompson HS, Hyatt JP, De Souza MJ, Clarkson PM.  The effects of oral contraceptives on delayed onset muscle soreness following exercise.  Contraception. 1997 Aug;56(2):59-65.

Van Honk J, Tuiten A, Hermans E, Putman P, Koppeschaar H, Thijssen J, Verbaten R, van Doornen L.  A single administration of testosterone induces cardiac accelerative responses to angry faces in healthy young women.  Behav Neurosci. 2001 Feb;115(1):238-42.

Zimmerman Y, Eijkemans MJ, Coelingh Bennink HJ, Blankenstein MA, Fauser BC.  The effect of combined oral contraception on testosterone levels in healthy women: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  Hum Reprod Update. 2013 Sep 29. [Epub ahead of print]

29 October 2013

Apparently, Vilhjalmur Stefansson Wasn't The Only One Who Could Keto Diet For A Full Year

Clearly, no one who's familiar with this blog could possibly be unfamiliar with the ketogenic diet, about which I've written extensively.  Though I've detailed it in all of its myriad forms and outlined my personal methods for its use in the Apex Predator Diet series, I've neither tried nor considered doing a traditional ketogenic diet.  My reasons for this are mostly logical and partly just a concession to the fact that eating nothing but meat gets fucking boring after a while, but in the end I'd never found enough evidence compelling enough to get me to consider trying a TKD any moreso than I would start taking TKD lessons at the local karate dojo in an effort to learn "self-defense".  That is, until now.  Meet Jamie Caporosso, a psychotic who gave up pizza for an entire year just because fuck pizza.  I'd been waiting for his follow up reply to post this badboy, but I'm awaiting input from a collaborator on another blog series and so I figured I'd just ppost this bitch so we can debate the shit amongst ourselves.

While I know a little about you from checking out your website, would you mind filling in my readers on who you are, critical stats, favorite porn star, and whatever else you think is pertinent?

My name is Jamie Caporosso, I have been a competitive Drug Free powerlifter for over 20 years. I have lifted both equipped and RAW. I have ranked pretty high equipped back in the day when Powerlifting USA used to post the top 100. I have also dabbled in some strongman competitions and recently started adding in CrossFit for conditioning. I have a BS in Clinical Laboratory Science, minor in biology from the University of Michigan. I run the blog Paleo for Power with my training partner Darilyn Doddy. Porn Star? I used to really like Chasey Lane back in the day. No real favorites now.

I had only heard of Chasey Lain from the Bloodhound Gang song "Ballad of Chasey Lain", but I'll go ahead and approve this message.  So, from what I gather from your site, you're at least somewhat affiliated with Crossfit, and one would assume from the name of your site you at least started out as a paleo diet advocate.  Upon closer inspection, it looks like you're a powerlifter who keto diets.  Did you start out going one way and switch midstream?

Yeah, As a matter of fact I am opening a Crossfit gym, PFPCrossfit, with my training partner Darilyn Doddy. I used to make fun of it. Then I tried it. I loved it. I found a bunch of new ways to push my self... not just get stronger. Now I had speed, flexibility, endurance, coordination, agility etc.

I started out with just standard paleo. Now I practice what I call keto-paleo, (book coming next year). I was actually very anti-paleo in the beginning as I was programmed by some very good marketing as well as being misinformed. I’ll try and Cliff's Notes this for you as to how I got started with paleo. It was around the time my daughter was born (She’ll be 6 Oct 26th, 2013).  I was taking a long hard look at my mortality. I wanted to be strong and healthy. In a yearly physical with my doctor, he looked at me and said you know there is a direct correlation between belly fat and heart disease. I was like "what?" He knew I was a big strong powerlifter. Why would he say that? I was really close to 250 lbs at 5'11".  Well, I made a decision to drop some weight. I started looking at bodybuilder diets. It made sense to me. That’s what they do. Lose fat. Why not utilize their knowledge?

They seem to know a thing or two about being lean.

In a conversation with a friend of mine he said that it sounded like my real goal was not only weight loss but more interested in optimal health. Yeah, OK, I am. If you want to perform at your best you should be as healthy as you can possibly be. Turned me on to a book called Neanderthin. As far as I know the first published book on the idea of a paleo diet or as I like to say now, “A Natural Human Diet” After that I read and read and read. Until one day I decided to lean into it. Weight continued to drop off but more importantly the healthy kicked in. My asthma went away, my arthritis went away, my blood work turned completely around and I got stronger.

Now for switching to keto was a byproduct of researching and realizing the biology these bodybuilders were doing to get lean. Didn’t make sense that they eat a huge ass sweet potato/or oats with a huge glycemic load (not glycemic index, they are different things) then spend two hours on a step mill to burn through the sugar to get to the fat burning. Then a post workout carb load??? With a slow digesting Carbohydrate? Why not a fasted one? So you can get your sugar and get your insulin back down instead of dragging it out for hours.

It just made more sense to go into nutritional ketosis, then use paleo criteria to avoid all the anti-nutrients, especially with the performance increase I read about in Phinney's book. I have a few posts on this on my blog. I could type all damn day on the subject. One of our most popular posts is “Stop Carb Loading! There's a better way!” I recommend that to everyone interested in nutritional ketosis.

I'm assuming Pauline Nordin has read Neanderthin.  Maybe not.  Thong.

You and I are pretty much the only two people on the planet who have actually read Neanderthin.  As I understand it, it's been out of print forever, but I would contend that it is pretty much THE seminal paleo book.  If you combine that with Cordain's academic work, every bit of information you need to know about why paleo dieting is the balls is right at your fingertips.  Unfortunately, most people (ATTENTION REDDITORS) either make up their own version of a paleo diet or read the watered down, for housewives only version.  It's not the original paleo book, by the way- a much shittier book preceded it, though the name escapes me at the moment.   Back to paleo, what would you say are the two or three must have paleo books?  Down to the meat, sans potatoes- you've been in ketosis for half a year, correct?  Take us through why you decided to try this, and why you're doing a traditional ketogenic diet in lieu of a cyclical ketogenic diet or a targeted ketogenic diet.  

I read a book by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek called. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. The book made a lot of sense to me. He mostly worked with endurance athlete but the biology seemed to be very applicable for strength training. He research has shown that unless you get a full 4-6 weeks of nutritional ketosis you truly don’t get keto adapted. You won’t reach the full benefit. He says it’s like kinda going to Hawaii but stopping partway- you end up drowning in the Pacific.

Not pictured:  an "athlete" with the same dietary requirements I have.

Seems like a bit more of a ketogenic dieting book than a paleo diet book, but that works.  I've posted four or five useful paleo books in the past, so that's just another to drop on top of the "to read" pile.  I didn't realize Phinney had written a book- I think every decent keto study I've ever cited had him as an author though.  I'll have to snag it when I grab this ridiculous Strength of Samson book I've been meaning to review.   Back to your comments, though, there are quite a few authors (all of them, I think) that contend that once one's adapted to a ketogenic diet, they enter ketosis far more quickly than 4-6 weeks.  This is why they always recommend an initial two weeks to a month of keto dieting and then keto runs of about a week.  I'm assuming Phinney's basing his recommendation on his work with testing cyclists on a ketogenic diet, but that seems to be too small a sample size to really base an entire dietary theory upon.  In any event, what does your typical macro breakdown look like?  I've seen the macros of your partner and they seem very low on protein and very high on fats.

Lots of fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates.  I’m usually around 165 grams of protein, 275g from fat, 20g from carbs.

If this fucking guy needs 35% protein, I damn sure do.

Jesus fuck, your macros in no way resemble my own.  165 g of protein?  Why so little?  Expand on how you arrived at this nutrient profile, if you would.  If you're curious about my horror at this, the basic way I structure my diet is double my bodyweight in grams of protein, then halve that for fat and keep my carbs under 30g a day.  That ends up not matching my total caloric intake exactly, but that's how I do it as a general rule.  In practice, I generally am 220-300g fat, 374-434 protein, and 20g of carbs or less which puts me at around 55% fat, 40% protein, and 5% fat.  You're rocking more like 20% protein, 75% fat, and 5% carbs with what appears to be tragically low levels of calories.  [Ed- he didn't respond to this, so I'll just fill you in on my thoughts here].  I'm not terribly clear on why this would be, because the highest fat diets in the paleo world are those of the Inuit, and even they eat at least 35% protein.  As such, that seems quizzically low.  

Nevertheless, I personally have not experimented with a traditional ketogenic diet much, save for a couple of months in college.  Instead, I've been following a cyclical ketogenic diet for the majority of the last 5 years, with brief breaks for sanity's sake.  How in the hell are you managing the tedium of a traditional ketogenic diet?  Aren't you bored fucking stiff with it? Additionally, I find that if I stay ketogenic too long that either my appetite disappears or it becomes unmanageable.  Have you encountered that at all?

 Eh, once you get over the fact that food is fuel and not entertainment it’s pretty easy. As soon as I hit that 6 week mark I feel like Superman. Energy high, recovery is fast, and I lean out quickly. Basically, I look and feel like an action figure.  When I hit that 6 month mark, all of my enzymes are supposed to be in full force and that’s when I noticed a big difference. I do plan on going off it in October as it's my birthday and we are taking a family trip to Disney. From now on though, I really think I’ll stay in ketosis from Jan 1st-Oct 31st just for the health and performance reasons. Halloween is my birthday and I'll probably just stay standard paleo until the holidays are over for convenience's sake.

So, there you have it- it is possible to keto diet for insanely long stretches without dying or losing all of your gainz.  In July, Jamie hit a PR bench at age forty, 25 weeks into his ketogenic experiment, and seemed to thrive off the diet.  I have my issues with the structure of his diet, but if nothing else this shows that there is more than one way to skin every cat.  If you want to get into contact with Jamie Caporosso, grab some keto/paleo recipes, or get step by step instructions on how to build shit like plyoboxes, check out his site Paleo for Power.

24 October 2013

Crazier Than A Bag Of Fucking Angel Dust

"Crazier than that?" you say?  Ok, maybe not crazier than that, but still pretty fucking crazy.

Some months ago I realized that my bench press should be, though did not seem to be, the easiest of my lifts to improve in a hurry.  For the life of me, I could not figure out why I sucked at the bench- just that I did.  Part of my problem, it seemed, was the fact that I despise benching, and when I do multiple heavy sessions of bench every week the tendinitis in my elbows flares up and anything I do pressing-wise sucks for a while.  Additionally, it seemed that every single failure on bench press occurred in the bottom quarter of the lift, as is the case with most raw lifters.  It's rare you see a person fail at the lockout of the bench press, unless that person has pointedly neglected training their arms.  If that's the case, the prescription for fixing their bench should be handing someone nearby a tack hammer and having them beat the shitty bench with it about the face, neck, and head until they cease respiration, because they're too stupid to deserve to live.
An aside:  There seems to be a never-ending spate of people decrying "vanity" lifts as useless.  THIS JUST IN: Almost any time you lift a weight, it's useful.  The guys who focus on vanity lifts definitely out bench the pussies talking shit in the corner while "skwatting ATG, bro" with 135 lbs. like they're some sort of mythical gods of the weight room.  I'm not suggesting you should start squatting on a bosu ball, but for fuck's sake think before you start preaching bullshit on the internet like you're a modern day weightlifting Socrates.  I'm looking at you, endless stream of pussies decrying people curling in the squat rack in spite of the fact that half of you would fold up like wet origami under the bar if you tried to squat the weight being curled.

As I'm doing this wildly uncommon bit of introspection, one thing stood out at me- I needed to bench more.  Because I hate benching so much, however, and invariably end up doing naught but singles without a spotter, which simply exacerbates my elbow tendinitis and makes overhead pressing painful, I decided reps were the answer.  "But", I thought to myself, "I fucking despise doing reps.  Like, more than Hitler hated the Jews.  More than Pol Pot hated people who could read.  More than Stalin hated people without mustaches.  More than the Westboro Baptist church hates logic, dignity, and self-respect."  That left me in a bit of a pickle- either I was going to have to do something I hated with the passion of Lindsay Lohan's infested, fiery crotch, or I was going to have to find a different route.

Then, it occurred to me- I should do the dumbest fucking thing of which I could think for the bench.  Something so incomprehensible and inexplicable that I couldn't help being amused by it.  I started doing neutral grip barbell floor presses with chains.  Those were great, and helped with my explosion from around my sticking point, but I felt like I could get crazier.  I looked over at the bench and thought, what about a fat bar with chains?  I tried that, and enjoyed it- the fat bar kept my bar path perfect, because if you get your bar path wrong with a fat bar, that shit is going to roll out of your hands and either crush your pelvis or smash your face into a bloody pulp.  That got me driving the bar hard up in a straight line, rather than back toward the rack as I usually did.  Chains, however, are a tool for geared lifters with bulletproof bench shirts and less muscle than you'd see on your average twink.  They're not useful for raw lifters other than a monotony breaker, or in the event they feel like emulating Branch Warren and using them for dips (which I think is about as fucking retarded as the sound of deaf people arguing, but to each their own).

Thus, I looked for something else, and what I came up with was something I didn't know had been done before, but as it happens, there really is nothing new under the sun.  In an effort to make the bench press as absurd as possible and put the maximum amount of stress of my weak point (which is most raw lifters' weak point), I hung kettlebells off of the fat bar with resistance bands.  Frankly, I thought it was hilarious enough to continue doing, and then was informed that this idiocy actually has a name- Crazybells.

When I came to that realization, it occurred to me that this method of training was pure fucking genius.  Physiologically, bands adjust the force curve to make the lift much harder than it would normally be, plus they stress the dogshit out of your ligaments, tendons, and the entire cast of supporting muscles.  Basically, it'd be as if Mike Tyson had decided to take up Crossfit at the peak of his career and had his entire entourage take up MMA, forced overeating, steroids, and powerlifting, all in an effort to roll up a whole nation's army in a street fight.   The ability to handle much greater loads with far greater stability when you're using crazybells occurs because the load is increased to Oprah-in-winter-bulking-phase levels in the bottom position (where you leverages are the poorest), and decreased where you leverages are the best because of the rebound of the bands and bells from your drive skyward, even though the instability of the lift is vastly increased at the top so you end up looking like someone with Parkinson's trying to balance a clay pot on your hands in the middle of a hurricane.  In the end, your muscular activation is greatly increased throughout the lift (Kohler), but the potential for injury is reduced because the load is most unstable at your strongest point.

Adding to all of that massive goodness is my inclusion of the fat bar, which adds a lot of muscular tension in addition to training you to use the most efficient bar path.  The muscular tension addition occurs because of something Pavel Tsatsouline refers to as "irradiation":
"It seems preposterous to a bodybuilder that clenching your cheeks and bracing your abs will strengthen your grip, but that's the way your body works. What I teach is just the opposite of isolation. Isolation is impossible anyway. There is something called irradiation.
Whenever you intelligently contract other muscles — your glutes, your abs, your diaphragm, and if you're working the upper body, your grip — you automatically increase the intensity of the contraction of the target muscles" (Shugart)

The Exercise Itself

This isn't fucking brain surgery, people.  You loop the band through the kettle bell handle (and you can sub 25 lb plates if you don't have kettlebells), slide that fucker on the inside of the bar, and then put your plate weights on the outside if you're not suffering from brain damage or some mental disorder that causes you to spend an inordinate amount of time doing shit that's not lifting while they're in the gym.  Loading and unloading the bands every time you want to change plate weight is stupid.  From there, it's touch and go bench.  Do not pause.  If you pause, you obviate the entire point of the movement because you're not taking advantage of the extra weight provided by the stretch at the bottom.  Here's a video showing you Talia's first attempt at crazybells (which she now loves) and a couple of my heavier sets.  I think I ended up with about 325 in bar and kettlebell weight for three, which is maybe 25 lbs less than I could do at that point with a dead weight bar, to give you an idea of the loading protocols.

The way I structure my benching using these is thusly- I have one ultra-heavy day and one goofy day.

Ultra Heavy Day

Work up to a weight I can double for at least 5 sets, then carry on with singles until I have to dump the weight in the catches.  This means I'm benching for about an hour with 30-90 second rests.

Goofy Day
5-10 sets of 3-5 reps with as much weight as I can handle for 3-5 reps.  I stick with 30-90 second rests and just go until I can't.  Afterwards, I do a bunch of face pulls and rope pushdowns.

The key, as you can see in the video, is to fucking EXPLODE out of the bottom.  This is going to get rid of that nasty stall nearly everyone has at the bottom of their heavy benches.  Stick with these and they will bear fruit like no assistance work you've ever seen, ridiculous-looking  or otherwise.  I would imagine it bears saying, as I know that some of you are going to bemoan your lack of a fat bar, that you can get Fat Gripz.  You won't have the benefit of using a non-rotating dead bar, but you will get the irradiation effect.  Thus, they're worth the $35.

Now, quit your' bitching about your shitty bench and start benching like a goofball to get that shit poppin'.

Did someone order the thickness entree?

Kohler JM, Flanagan SP, Whiting WC.  Muscle activation patterns while lifting stable and unstable loads on stable and unstable surfaces.  J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):313-21.

Shugart, Chris.  The Evil Russian Speaks: Part 1.  An Interview with Pavel Tsatsouline.  T-Nation.  5 Apr 2001.  Web.  22 Oct 2013.  http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_interviews/the_evil_russian_speaks_part_1

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18 October 2013


After nearly a year of testing, groundwork, begging for money, getting fucked over by overzealous Christian printing companies, and fighting with every private label supplement manufacturer on the planet about dosing and ingredients, the products have finally see the light of day.  For those of you who've wanted to check out the blog at work and couldn't, I'll be reposting my shit, PG-13 style, on that site, and we'll have contributions from other authors as well.  Alex Viada (the guy who eviscerated Kiefer), Sin Leung, Talia Vandoren, Wayne Banks (my business partner), and Grimmtano (a buddy of mine who's pretty fucking funny) will all be posting shit there for your reading pleasure, and we'll be adding authors as we grow.  Right now, we've got our fat burner Cannibal Inferno on sale, plus all new shirt designs.  Cannibal Ferox, our brutal new preworkout, drops in two weeks.  

Click the images to check that shit out!

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15 October 2013

Random Awesome Shit- Movies, Books, and Music That'll Get You Banned From The USAPL

I think this is the part of USAPL Nationals that happens right in between the rules meeting and the Pledge of Allegiance   not sure what time nap time is, but they only give you water crackers anyway, since Nilla Wafers might enhance your performance.

All of my information about the USAPL comes second hand, as I only compete in pro meets and they're still chasing their ridiculous pipe dream of getting yet another sport about which no one cares into the Olympics.  I have, however, never heard a single good thing about their meets.  I've seen videos of them, and they appear to have all of the frivolity and pomp of a Russian Orthodox funeral, only without the heavy drinking.  In fact, I believe the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the USAPL, along with:

  • being strong
  • lifting with training partners who compete untested
  • yelling
  • smiling
  • telling off-color jokes
  • cheering while other lifters are lifting
  • treating the sport like it's not a gold tournament held in a giant church
  • being strong
  • using profanity
  • drinking too much coffee
  • competing in other (i.e. better) federations
  • and, of course, being strong (the two obvious exceptions being JT and Jesse Norris- unbunch your panties, motherfuckers.)
From what I've seen, you could have more fun getting tested for AIDS with dirty needles at a clinic in Bangkok than you would at a USAPL meet.  You'd have more credibility as a lifter if you spent most of your time on a Bosu ball than you would flashing your USAPL membership card. Their meets might also be the only place where people dress even more conservatively and 1980s dad nerdy than a southern frat party.  There is literally no redeeming quality to the federation insofar as I've seen, and I'm not sure why it exists except to give weak people a showcase and excuse for their unimpressive strength.  I'm quite certain simply reading this blog would earn you an automatic ban from the fed, but on the off chance I am wrong, here are a list of things so awesome they'll get you a lifetime ban from the "U Suck At Powerlifting" federation without even unzipping your fly.


As always, support these bands- they need that $5 on bandcamp more than you, and there's no reason to steal shit that's that cheap.  Don't be a cheap, thieving pigfucker if you like their music.

Stray From The Path- Anonymous
As anyone who knows me is aware, I love the mid-90s "Blech" more than I could love a human baby.  Stray From the Path's vocalist sprinkles that shit liberally over this album like Emeril is behind him egging him on screaming "Again!" and "BAM!" every time he hears a Rick Ta Life Style puking noise.  Basically, this shit is 90s Jersey rapcore (yeah, I know they're from Long Island, but I always think of NJ Bloodline when I think of rapcore) channels their 90's style hardcore and slaps it in the face with a heavy dose of old RATM harmonics like they're a prankster beating his best friend unconscious with a 10 lb trout.  If you've heard old SFTP, you'll not be disappointed with this album, and if you've never heard them, this is pretty much the best intro you could get.

Hacktivist- S/T

Most or all of you will disagree that this album's awesome, but I don't care- I like djent, and I like rapcore, and this shit is both.  Grimy London Dizzee Rascal style rap (but political) mash up with Structures-style djent makes for a good fucking listen.  If nothing else, it's about the most original fucking thing I've heard, and since Dizzee hasn't gone Necro style and gotten Jamey Hatebreed to collaborate on a song with him, I'm gonna stick with Hacktivist on my mp3 player.

Sworn In- The Death Card
Sworn In has been on my mp3 player ever since I randomly stumbled across a tiny Baltimore hardcore blog that mentioned them in passing.  I've no idea why these guys aren't better known than they are- they're the perfect mix of djent, sludgewave, a tiny bit of rapcore, some of the most scathing, angry, bile-spitting lyrics of all time, and 43,000 pounds of breakdowns, most of which sonically punch a hole through your soul.  This band literally has something for everyone who likes heavy shit. If you do not like this band, you are a bad person.  Worse than me, even.

Breakdown to end all breakdowns at 4:15.

Genocide District- Revolutions

I gave up on bands that utilized solos in their songs in or around 1994.  Quite frankly, I never really gave a shit about them, was much more prone to playing air drums than air guitar, and never really liked Van Halen.  Thus, the endless conversations about who was the best lead guitarist always bored the tits off me, and I'd try to turn the conversation to something useful, like "would you rather be chased by a T-Rex or an M1 Abrams tank?"  That, I felt, was a far better use of everyone's time.  In spite of all that, I find myself liking Genocide District, in large part likely due to their name, but they're so fucking brutal i can forgive them their stupid fucking guitar solos, which likely include gratuitous use of rope as well.  Mash together Black Tongue and Thy Art Is Murder with the guitarist and his stupid fucking rope and you get Genocide District.  Can't hate on that shit.

Unit 731- Res Ipsa Loquitor

Picking up pretty much exactly where Shattered Realm and Built Upon Frustration left off years ago, we have Unit 371.  Their breakdown construction is slightly more refined, but this band is about little more than starting a break with a brutal line and then inspiring people to beat each others' guts onto the floor at shows.  If you're curious about the name of the album, it seems to be a catch all for the theme of the album, which is that people in Western society deserve the shitty treatment they get by the moneyed/landed elite because they're all bleating sheep who accept their fate without a fight.  I doubt, however, that any of you find yourselves giving a shit. Like me, I'd imagine you guys are not looking for complexity of topic and song structure in the gym- you're on the hunt for brutality, and these motherfuckers live up to their moniker.

Vow Of Hatred
VOH is a pretty much entirely unknown band, but I love the balls off this song- toughguy hardcore with a cross between Shattered Realm's original vocals and the Hoods' former vocalist Benny, plus digital bass booms and lyrics that consist of almost nothing but threats.  They're working on a new album, so check this shit out and if you like it get over to their Facebook and like their shit so they actually cut a full fucking album rather than releasing yet another 4 song EP.

Path To Misery- Disarmament
Path to Misery should suit those of you who love old Earth Crisis, like Trash Talk, and need something fucking hard in your life.  they definitely bring the brutality, and given that the band's members read like a resume of every badass bad to ever come out of Pittsburgh it's no fucking wonder.  Put aside your skepticism that vegetarians can come correct- every now and again one can emerge from the much and bring it fucking hard.  These guys take that hardness ten steps further with an EP that makes you consider renting a backhoe for the bodies this thing might inspire you to create.


Sworn Vengeance- ...And With This Hammer Of Vengeance
I think I've related the story more than once, but I have been a fan of Sworn Vengeance since I discovered them in a tiny record shop in San Diego in 2001.  Unfortunately, the band folded shortly after I discovered them, leaving me sadly bereft of music from a band that consistently goes harder than a foot fetishist's dick in the shoe section of Charlotte Rousse.  Then, out of nowhere, the guitarist of the band emailed me that he was a fan, and the dude actually rocked a CnP shirt in promo pics for the band's new album.  In any event, you shouldn't just support this bad because their music would provide a nice soundtrack to a Mad Max style apocalypse or because they're CnP fans- you should support them because if you don't I might  find out where you live and then I come to your house, see? And I beat down your door with a fucking baseball bat! And, then I make a bonfire with the furniture, maybe roast that Golden Retriever, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, then eat it! And then I'm coming upstairs, fuckface, and I'm gonna grab you by your Spiderman pjs, and then I'm gonna take your dumbass iPad and cram it up your tight ass before I fuck your girlfriend into a coma if you do not. Do we have an understanding?

Best Band Shirt Ever

Music On The Lighter Side...
Dangerkids- Collapse
I realize that some of you are likely about to toss your laptop in the trash at this recommendation, but I give exactly zero fucks.  Some of us actually get laid and want to split the difference between the shit you hear on Octane (it's a satellite radio station, foreigners) and music more our style.  Dangerkids should fit that bill- a little dancy, very reminiscent of Linkin Park's old stuff (which was actually good, you crotchety, unwashed, metalhead elitists).  Not a bad album to have in your back pocket in just in case- it'd certainly bet better than listening to Mumford and Sons, may they burn for all eternity.


Angeldust Apocalypse by Jeremy Robert Johnson
One of my favorite methods of conveying an idea in prose is the short sotyr.  Done well, the author always leaves you wanting more, and your mind spirals off into alternate universes at random points throughout your day as you revisit a good short story over and over.  Provided that alternate universe is the Hell universe featured in the film Event Horizon, that's exactly what happens in Angeldust Apocalypse.  Tight out of the gate, Johnson's writing is dripping with the kind on intense insanity you'd only find in the darkest bowels of an insane asylum, but it's overlaid with such a feeling of normalcy that you honestly wonder if you, not he, is the fucked up on the reader/author relationship.  Though they're not all gems, his reasoning behind writing what he has is almost as interesting as the stories themselves, and a couple of those stories will stick with you indefinitely.  Definitely worth the price of admission.

The Blue Blazes By Chuck Wendig

I honestly cannot think of a person to whom this book would not appeal- it's equal parts mob wars, pulp noir, HP Lovecraft, and Larry Correia's Monster Hunters series.  I've no idea if this guy plans to make this into a series, but he fucking better.  This book is the balls.

Suffer the Flesh by Monica J. O'Rourke

Don't let the description on Amazon fool you- fans of the Your Fat Is Your Fault series will love this.  Abducted off the streets after nominally accepting admission to a fat camp, a chubby broad is raped and tortured until she is skinny.  It's unfortunately not much more kinky than my average Saturday night, but it's still a fun read and might give you your own ideas for shenanigans.  Imagine 50 Shades Of Grey, only with actual BDSM, a chubby broad, and none of the lovey-dovey bullshit.

Mega Moobie Muffins

American Mary

It's hard to know exactly how to describe this movie.  It's dark, and it's gory, but I wouldn't precisely call it a horror film- irt's really more of a thriller, I think.  In any event, this is a wildly original movie about a chick who, broke and having been taken advantage of by her professors, so she starts moonlighting in torture for a titty bar owner who for some reason has a need for a personal torturer.  From there, she becomes a surgeon for people who want extreme body modifications, and the entire thing is as bizarre as it is hot.  If you like it, you might want to check out Dead Hooker in a Trunk, which is the directors' first film and was also pretty surreal and awesome.

Frankenstein's Army
I can't say I was disappointed with this movie- I was just wholly unprepared for how unrelentingly bleak, dark, and gross this movie was.  It was perhaps more disturbing than House of 1000 Corpses when I first saw taht, given that I was expecting something a bit lighter.  The entire reason I saw this film was because I've been pumped for years to see Worst Case Scenario, a movie that died in development hell only to resurrected as Frankenstein's army.  You'll note, looking at the trailer for WCS, that the constumes are exactly the same, and I'm sure much of whatever the original moive was to be is the same.  If I had to guess, I'd imagine that bringing his baby into the light of day was such a shitty, laborious, painful process that Raaphorst just dropped the fun aspects of the original and set out to show how truly horrible humanity can actually be (and his conception of horrible and mine are apparently MILES apart).  In any event, it's a cool fucking movie, if bleaker than Paris Hilton's future life after 50.

Booty might be banned by the USAPL for raising test levels unnaturally.

The rant blog is almost done, and will be followed by an article on managing women's hormones for lifting, the crazybells article (finally), and the story of my exploding bicep at the Olympia.  New site launches this weekend at www.chaosandpain.com for all of your supplement and merch needs!!!!  the blog will remain, lest you guys fly into a panic.  They'll be two separate ventures.