25 June 2014

We're All David Rigert's Bitches: Smoke Em If You Got Em, Because Science Is A Liar Sometimes

Pictured above, you will see a man who could probably crack walnuts with his traps and or spinal erectors.
  • A man so unequivocally brutal that he is referred to as "a real man" in a country run by a violent psychopath who wrestles bears and conquers the Ukraine, shirtless and on horseback, in his free time.
  • A man who once stuck a lit cigarette up a bull's ass and lived to tell the tale (Butov).  
  • A man who set 68 world records in Olympic Weightlifting as 198 lb lifter (yeah, the dude above was 198, so feel free to start slitting your wrists now), won six world championships in Olympic weightlifting and snagged a gold at the 1976 Olympics.  
  • A man whose gym lifts were the height of ridiculousness: he squatted 300kg x 6, deadlifted 400kg from a 15cm box, strict military pressed 170kg, push pressed 220kg, jerked 260kg (after his retirement at around 100kg), snatched 200kg, power snatched 160kg, power cleaned 200kg, and benched 210kg with his motherfucking feet in the air (All Things Gym).  
  • A man who is currently the coach of the Russian Olympic Weightlifting powerhouse
  • ... and a man who chain smoked during training and meets, and who would slam shots of vodka in the warm up room at meets between his warmup sets (Van Vleck).

Yup, all of that boozing and smoking certainly took it's toll on ol' Davie Boy's physique.

"So fucking what?", you might be saying.  "Everyone knows smoking will kill you and my mom said drinking is bad and the kids on Bodybuilding.com say drinking and smoking and masturbating is bad and girls have cooties and only people on steroids weigh more than 150 lbs.!", might be your follow up.  This is, of course, because you've been snowed by the popular media and know about as much about the world around you as a sea cucumber might know about the aerodynamics of helicopters.  As we've already covered extensively (here and here), alcohol consumption, even to Gary Busey-esque levels of violent, dangerous, irresponsible, and flirting-with-alcohol-poisoning-because-it's-tuesday levels, is not only not deleterious to training, but it may in fact help your training.  This flies in the face of what MADD, teetotalers, Christians, the mentally challenged, and virgins might have to say on the subject, but as they're all generally incorrect whenever they open their mouths, this should come as no surprise.

Lesson: Just because everyone seems to agree on something does not make it so.  Remember- people are fucking stupid.

Likewise, it appears that while smoking shortens your lifespan, it makes those years you have on the Earth markedly better, because it raises your testosterone, drastically lowers your chances of suffering from neurological disorders, improves memory, attention and psychomotor speed, stimulates blood vessel growth, and drastically speeds fat loss (Wang, English, Phillips, Andersson).  Let's pause a moment while you drink that in, shall we?  We'll take a moment and look at some anecdotal evidence we can pile atop the Rigert example.
  • Arthur Saxon smoked like a smoke stack at the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works in the 1990s.  According to Thomas Inch, "Arthur seemed to have an objection to going to bed at a reasonable hour and often sat up right through the night smoking, playing billiards, even lifting at three or four in the morning (Inch).
  • During the halcyon days of weightlifting and powerlifting in the 1970s (you know, when people actually lifted weights and got strong rather than endlessly kvetching over bullshit like buttwinks and jacking off to other peoples' lifting videos), people smoked in the gym.  "Cigarette smoke often filled the gym and the ash tray was next to the chalk box" and people used to take "a drag off [their] cigarette, [set] it on the edge of the platform (with the “cherry” end dangling off the edge) and [hit] a set of power cleans" and then resume smoking (Van Vleck).
  • The half hour breaks one sees in Bulgarian training routines do not exist so lifters can catch their breath and lay down- they are pre-programmed smoking breaks, because European weightlifters traditionally take frequent smoke breaks during training and many Oly lifters still smoke regularly, even with the mounting prohibitions on smoking in Europe (Starting Strength, Lowe).
Smoking does a body good.
  • The Chinese Olympic weightlifting training center's floor is littered with cigarette butts (Larry).
  • Bodybuilder and mini-Godzilla Markus Ruhl smoked during contest prep to speed fat loss and help build muscle (Daily Motion)
  • Olympic weightlifting great Naim "Pocket Hercules" Suleymanoglu was an avowed heavy smoker (Smith).
  • Legendary old-timey wrestler and strongman George Lurich was a legendary drinker and frequent smoker who shocked the shit out of George Hackenschmidt with his "unhealthy" ways on the way to kicking Hack's ass in wrestling and being one of the first people to jerk over 400 lbs (Hackenschmidt).
Look at the toll smoking and drinking took on poor Lurich's physique!  Let's all take a moment of silence to mourn his utter lack of physical strength, lean body mass, and the fact he couldn't afford pants.

Smoking takes ten years off your life.  Well it's the ten worst years, isn't it folks?  It's the ones at the end!  It's the wheelchair, kidney dialysis, adult diaper fucking years.  You can have those years!  We don't want 'em, alright? 
- Denis Leary

Before I continue, I'll just throw out there that I don't smoke and never have.I do, however, almost exclusively date thick girls who smoke, so my levels of secondary smoke inhalation are likely unparalleled outside of people who work in titty bars, bowling alleys, and porn shops with jerkoff booths.  I've never really worried overmuch about secondary smoke inhalation, foremost because it's a generally stupid thing about which to worry, and also because I think it's fucking hot when chicks smoke, if for no other reason than the overt hedonism of the act.  I like sluts, all sluts smoke, so I like smokers, is basically how that progression went.  Interestingly, science actually backs this line of thinking, because women with high testosterone levels are more likely to be promiscuous (Waters), and smoking has been shown to raise testosterone levels in more than one study (Wang, English)

Sloots, how I love thee.

Now, I realize that you're still likely highly skeptical, and for that I cannot blame you.  What is amusing, however, is that the very same person who popularized smoking in the United States and who fomented a significant portion of the women's lib movement by associating it with smoking was the father of modern public relations, Edward Bernays.  Quite the slippery little fuck, Bernays essentially invented modern propaganda techniques, and his methods were so effective that infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels based his entire methodology on Bernays... in spite of the fact Bernays was a Jew.  As such, you might want to consider the possibility that the media has been used to manipulate your thinking on the subject of smoking, driven by a variety of "public interest" groups who may not have your best interests at heart.  I'm not saying smoking is good for you, but there is absolutely no justification for the current wave of smoker vilification that basically likens your average smoker not only to a child molester, but ones with 12" cocks who preys solely upon tiny infants with infinitesimally small vaginas and anuses.

Average smoker's van in the US.

In any event, the biggest study on smokers and their hormone levels was of course not conducted in the US because smokers are evil people who do not deserve to be treated as real human beings.  The Chinese, however, ran a study on 2,021 men (989 nonsmokers and 1,032 smokers), aged 20-69, and found that smokers had significantly higher total testosterone and free testosterone levels compared to nonsmokers, even after stratification as per age, BMI, triglycerides and alcohol consumption.  That's right- both total and free testosterone levels were "correlated to the amount of tobacco exposure" (Wang).  As if that weren't enough to blow your tits clean off your body, another study confirmed the findings of the Chinese, suggesting that smoking might "influence the levels of total and free testosterone through changes in the levels of SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin)" (English).  So, we've got pretty solid correlation between higher testosterone and smoking.

There also might be a correlation between endurance performance and smoking, which probably strikes you as impossible but is, in fact, a thing.  A cursory Google search reveals that there are a lot of endurance athletes who smoke, and they're all entirely on the defensive against the smoking community at large for their decision to have higher test levels than everyone else.  In the review paper "Cigarette smoking: an underused tool in high-performance endurance training", however, author Kenneth Myers states that:

"Cigarette smoking has been shown to increase serum hemoglobin, increase total lung capacity and stimulate weight loss, factors that all contribute to enhanced performance in endurance sports. Despite this scientific evidence, the prevalence of smoking in elite athletes is actually many times lower than in the general population. The reasons for this are unclear; however, there has been little to no effort made on the part of national governing bodies to encourage smoking among athletes" (Myers).
Amusingly, one of the studies on which Myers bases his argument shows that increased serum hemoglobin is also found in heavy drinkers, which could help explain how David Rigert got through his marathon training sessions (Milman).

The tragically under-muscled Rigert.

Next, we can move on to the myriad other positive effects of smoking- namely, the aforementioned lowering of your chances of suffering from neurological disorders, improvement of memory, attention and psychomotor speed, stimulation of blood vessel growth, and drastically improved fat loss.  All of these benefits come from the much maligned ingredient nicotine, which is an alkaloid that acts as a stimulant in mammals.  Though it's been vilified in recent years for its addictive properties (some organization called Drug War facts has ranked it more addictive than heroin), nicotine has a wide array of health benefits.  Namely, it:

  • can be used to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (Newhouse)
  • improves cognition, memory, and attention span (Warburton) 
  • promotes blood vessel growth and circulation (Heeschen) 
  • improves reaction time (Newhouse)
  • reduces depression (Duke)
Dennis Wolf being very busy with being bigger and leaner than you.

So, it seems we can put this particular baby to bed.  Smoking might kill you eventually, but it is certainly not going to kill your gainz and it's not going to hurt your training.  Quite the contrary- it has the potential to make you smarter, leaner, and stronger.  So, smoke 'em if you got 'em, because no matter how much you smoke, you're always be David Rigert's bitch.

Frankly, though, I'd rather be her bitch.

Up next, weed and hash- will they fuck up your gainz?  We shall see.

Andersson K, Arner P.  Systemic nicotine stimulates human adipose tissue lipolysis through local cholinergic and catecholaminergic receptors.  Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Aug;25(8):1225-32.

The Bulgarian Method of Training Olympic Weightlifters.  Starting Strength.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://www.calciatori.com/notizie/the-bulgarian-method-of-training-olympic-weightlifters

Butov, Sergey.  The Performer Turns 60.  IWF.  2007.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://www.iwf.net/weightlifting/issues/071/2007-1_40-41.pdf

David Rigert Interview.  All Things Gym.  30 Jul 2013.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://www.allthingsgym.com/david-rigert-shatoy-interview/

Daily Motion.  (2014, Jan 28). Markus Ruhl- Made in Germany [Video File].    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ag4wk_markus-ruhl-made-in-germany-bodybuilding-muscle-fitness-documentary_sport

Duke University Medical Center.  Nicotine Lessens Symptoms Of Depression In Nonsmokers. ScienceDaily. 13 Sep 2006.  Web.  25 Jun 2014.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060912225448.htm

English KM, Pugh PJ, Parry H, Scutt NE, Channer KS, Jones TH.  Effect of cigarette smoking on levels of bioavailable testosterone in healthy men.  Clin Sci (Lond). 2001 Jun;100(6):661-5.

Hackenschmidt, Geroge.  On George Lurich.  Iron Game History.  Aug 1991.  Vol 1 No 6 4-7.  http://library.la84.org/SportsLibrary/IGH/IGH0106/IGH0106e.pdf

Heeschen C, Jang JJ, Weis M, Pathak A, Kaji S, Hu RS, Tsao PS, Johnson FL, Cooke JP.  Nicotine stimulates angiogenesis and promotes tumor growth and atherosclerosis.  Nat Med. 2001 Jul;7(7):833-9.

Inch, Thomas.  My Friendship With Arthur Saxon.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 7 Jan 2009.  Web.  23 Jun 2014.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/my-friendship-with-arthur-saxon-thomas.html

Larry’s Chinese Weightlifting Experience Part 1 – Snatches & Squats.  All Things Gym.  4 Jan 2014.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://www.allthingsgym.com/larrys-chinese-weightlifting-experience-part-1-snatches-squats/

Lowe, Sid.  The joy of heavy men in bulging leotards.  The Guardian.  26 Aug 2004.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2004/aug/27/athensolympics2004.olympicgames8

Milman N, Pedersen AN.  Blood haemoglobin concentrations are higher in smokers and heavy alcohol consumers than in non-smokers and abstainers: should we adjust the reference range?  Ann Hematol. 2009 Jul;88(7):687-94.

Myers KA.  Cigarette smoking: an underused tool in high-performance.  CMAJ. 2010 December 14; 182(18): E867–E869.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3001541/

Newhouse PA, Sunderland T, Tariot PN, Blumhardt CL, Weingartner H, Mellow A, Murphy DL.  Intravenous nicotine in Alzheimer's disease: a pilot study.  Psychopharmacology. June 1988, Volume 95, Issue 2, pp 171-175

Newhouse PA, Kellar K, Aisen P, White H, Wesnes K, Coderre E, Pfaff A, Wilkins H, Howard D, Levin ED.  Nicotine treatment of mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month double-blind pilot clinical trial.  Neurology. 2012 Jan 10;78(2):91-101.

Phillips, Harry.  The health benefits of nicotine.  Health24.  26 Feb 2014.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://www.health24.com/Lifestyle/Stop-smoking/News/The-health-benefits-of-nicotine-20140226

Smith, Gary.  The Weight Of The World.  Sports Illustrated.  22 Jul 1992.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1004018/7/index.htm

Waters, Preston.  The Truth Behind The Promiscuous Girls.  Elite Daily.  13 Apr 2012.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://elitedaily.com/dating/gentlemen/truth-promiscuous-women/

Van Vleck, Thom.  Smoking & Weightlifting: Part 1.  USAWA.  19 Jan 2011.  Web.  24 Jun 2014.  http://www.usawa.com/smoking-weightlifting-part-1/

Wang W, Yang X, Liang J, Liao M, Zhang H, Qin X, Mo L, Lv W, Mo Z.  Cigarette smoking has a positive and independent effect on testosterone levels.  Hormones (Athens). 2013 Oct-Dec;12(4):567-77.

Warburton DM, Rusted JM. Cholinergic control of cognitive resources. Neuropsychobiology 1993, 28:43-46.

19 June 2014

Drive Trucks, Break Arms, And Arm Wrestle

If I'm honest, I was completely unaware that armwrestling was still a thing in the 21st Century- I thought it was a flash in the pan thing that died in the 1980s.  My only exposure to armwrestling in my lifetime has been limited to the hilariously awesome but utterly nonsensical movie Over The Top, and in spite of the fact that the movie was centered around armwrestling, I recall very little of it aside from the fact that Sylvester Stallone had a weight stack set up in his big rig for the sole purpose of lifting while driving.  When faced with the revelation that such a thing is possible, it's easy to understand how a sport so consigned to the periphery of strength sports could have been overshadowed by the addition of a cable lifting apparatus to be used while driving.

Later, my apparent misapprehension about the sport of armwrestling was upheld with the advent of X-Arm, which is exactly the type of event one would expect out of the type of troglodytic, knuckle-dragging, monosyllabic, skunk beer swilling, white trash retards who seemed to fill Over the Top to overflowing.  For those of you who are unaware, X-Arm was the brainchild of Art Davies, the man behind the original incarnation of the UFC, and was a hybrid of MMA and armwrestling, with the combatant's hands tied together in a farcical attempt to make it seem as though an armwrestling match might break out while the fighters reenacted the amazing hockey-style dustup between Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama.  Don't get me wrong- the idea has some merit simply for the fact it resembled that epic fight, but beyond that the idea was dumber than Britney Spears' decision to procreate, and likely required a similar amount of moonshine and methamphetamine to come to fruition.

Thankfully, I was lifted out of the fog of ignorance of armwrestling a couple of years ago after watching the documentary Pulling John, a biopic about legendary giant killer John Brzenk.  Though most people only know of Brzenk as the little guy in the polo shirt who armwrestled Stallone in the aforementioned Sly film, Brzenk is a legend in the sport.  In spite of the fact that in the film Brzenk was a rather uncompelling protagonist, my interest in armwrestling was piqued by the training methods and overall awesome of Alexey Voevoda.  Don't get me wrong- as the "giant killer" of armwrestling who's dominated the sport for about 30 years, Brzenk is nothing short of a stone cold badass the likes of which the world hasn't seen since Aleksandr Karelin dominated Greco-Roman wrestling, but he's duller than an episode of the Facts of Life as a person and likely considers beige to be the greatest single color ever to grace the human retina.

What made armwrestlers truly interesting to me, however, was the wild variance in their training methods.  In most sports, there is a general overall structure to training that everyone seems to follow.  In armwrestling, however, the training methodologies are more varied than the means by which Justin Bieber continually invents to publicly embarrass himself, and for that reason I decided to conduct further investigation.  What I found boggled my mind further, as there appears to be no information readily available for strength training for armwrestling, and scanty information on how the armwrestlers practice for their sport of choice.  As such, I decided to pick a few of the more colorful and successful characters in the sport to determine exactly how they developed the strength most of us would like to be capable of putting on display at our local happy hour without tearing our shoulders to bits and exploding out biceps tendons all over the little old ladies avidly surveying the luscious landscape of meaty goodness before them.

Sarah Bäckman

5'8" 154 lbs.  
Swedish Senior and Junior Champion (left and right-handed divisions) (2006), Junior World Champion (2007), Senior World Champion (2009)

If there is a single word to describe Bäckman, it's hot.  A cursory glance indicates she's a Swede with arms most men would like to either lick or possess themselves, and further investigation reveals she's too hot for anyone to approach without pissing themselves in fear, and that our collective fear is just as completely justified as is our fear of deep sea creatures.  She's been a dominant force in armwrestling since she was 15, and has now moved on to the WWE where she will undoubtedly moonlight wrestling pasty-faced, sweaty schmoes for $1000 an hour.  To develop her insane pulling power and guns, though, Bäckman revealed the following:

"I practice armwrestling 1-2 times per week and I work out at the gym almost every day. I love the gym, it's my 2nd home. I plan the training myself. In the gym I train my whole body because I think it's fun, and of course I focus a lot on armwrestling exercises - wrist, forearm, side pressure, back pressure, etc" (World Challenge).

Though it will come as a shock to some, I was wholly unsurprised to find Bäckman has no set routine and just trains by feel.  Her workouts, however, generally consist of the following:

  • one or two body parts a day, with two to three exercises of up to 30 sets for each. 
  • heavy, basic, compound movements, with a lot of emphasis on Olympic and powerlifting movements.
  • low reps- she never does over 6 reps.
  • Fat Gripz work for everything from chins and dips to rows to build bone-crushing grip strength.
  • hammer curls and dumbbell rows to build a strong brachilais, which in turn helps her top roll 
  • walks 5km four times a week and rocks 10 sets of 100 m sprints afterward. 
Using that sort of a system, Bäckman's gotten crazy strong at a very young age- at 21, she's rocking a 300 lb deadlift, 235 lb Oly squat, and a 190 bench press, all while maintaining a physique lean enough to get her in the conversation with seriously accomplished physique competitors.  She credits the Pauline Nordin's Fighter Diet with her physique, which is a modified paleo diet that if Bäckman's meal photos are a good indication consist of mostly massive slabs of ribs and steaks accompanied by a pile of veggies.

In short, Bäckman's exactly as brutal as her training routine and diet would indicate she'd be.

Denis Cyplenkov

6'1" 308 lbs.
2009 and 2010 Nemiroff 95+ kg and Open Right (7th in Open 2009 due to Injury) and Left Hand Champion

Perhaps you've seen the hilarious pictures of Cyplenkov's hands measured against those of a normal person- if not, he appears to be the descendant of Shrek and 1990's bodybuilder Mike Matarazzo.  This badass Russian has forearms that stretch the tape at just over 20 inches, and his upper arms are an equally ridiculous 23.6 inches.  Though you'd expect his resume to include dismemberment of dozens of opponents and concomitant pictures of a hungry Cyplenkov dining on the raw, bloody, severed arms of his fallen opponents, Cyplenkov's wins are limited to the 2010 Nemiroff World Cup of Armwrestling champion in the 95kg+ category for both his right and left arm and similar placeings in 2009.  Perhaps of greater interest to the readership of Chaos and Pain, Cyplenkov benches 639 lbs. in competition, squats 705 lbs., and deadlifts 749 lbs., which would put him at #2 in the 308s currently, and at a very solid #1 in the bench.

Cyplenkov has two different training splits- in season and off season.  In season, he does three weight training workouts a week with two table sessions, and off season he does five weight training sessions and three table sessions a week.  Though details on his workouts are really only obtainable by watching his training vids, Cyplenkov:

  • employs Fat Gripz in all of his arm work, and seems to prefer EZ Bar curls for biceps.
  • simulates armwrestling movements with bands.
  • incorporates strongman and powerlifting movements year round.
  • employs Fat Gripz on his bodyweight work, which includes pullups and chins with a variety of grips, and dips.
  • trains arms with relatively high reps and short-ish ranges of motion- he neither goes to full extension on curls nor pushdowns.
  • goes full 1970s on the deal and does an odd combination of Heavyhands and the elliptical, where he does short range hammer curls while using the elliptical for cardio.  I was frankly surprised to see this, in spite of the fact that it makes sense from a logical standpoint, just because no one's even spoken the word "Heavyhands" in 20 years.
If you're not starting to catch on to the pattern, it might be a good idea to get some Fat Gripz, stat.  They definitely appear to be working for Cyplenkov and Bäckman.

John Brzenk

6'1" 200-225 lbs.

Of all of the wrestlers thus far discussed, none has the pedigree of John Brzenk.  As a light-heavy, Bzenk has dominated the sport of armwrestling since 1983.  Since that time, Brzenk has only lost one supermatch. and has defeated all comers ranging from Cyplenkov to Voevoda and a 60 lb fatass who tried to heave his useless bulk into the limelight by taking on the best ever.  The weird bit, however, is that Brzenk hates weight training and rarely does it.  According to Wikipedia, he was able to close grip bench 315 lbs for 5 reps at one point, and frequently trained with 50 lbs dumbbells for bicep curls and wrist curls.  For the most part, however, Brzenk just trains on the table.  According to the man himself, the greatest implement with which an armwrestler could train is a great team, not a barbell (XSportNews).  Weird, certainly, but apparently the man is onto something- he is indisputably the greatest armwrestler the world has ever seen.

Alexey Voevoda

6'4" 277 lbs.

Never in history has a man been more suited to wearing a matte black suit of armor and cleaving every motherfucker with anything to say about anything in twain with his trusty kilij than Alexey Voyevoda, longhaired badass from the Ukraine.  Voevoda is a multiple gold medal winner in the bobsleigh event in the Winter Olympics, multiple winner of the prestigious Zloty Tur armwrestling tournament, and one of the only men to defeat the legend John Brzenk.

Voevoda's training methods are nearly as unconventional as Bzenks, though far more brutal.  As he grew up in the Ukraine, a land famed for getting fucked in the ear by the Soviets harder than Sabrina Johnson got fucked in her two day gangbang with 2000 dudes, Voevoda had to get inventive with his training, which is exactly what he did.  Voevoda mad waves in Pulling John by doing bench press lockouts in a leg press machine with a positively ludricrous 926 lbs.  Voevoda's armwrestling training routine basically centers around arms, though he's capable of doing an easy flag even at his heaviest and trains his entire body year round to stay in shape for bobsleigh.  His training routine is not available online anywhere, though bits an pieces of it can be picked up from a variety of videos.  We know for sure that:

  • Voevoda will have two people attach straps to his pulling arm amd pull against both of them simultaneously while armwrestling a third person.
  • he does shitloads of arm circles with light dumbbells as a warmup.
  • Voevoda benches 405 for a double
  • he does a tremendous amount of cable work, and rope hammer curls in particular, to strengthen his arms for wrestling.
  • Voevoda believes training for explosiveness is the key to winning in armestling, so training must be ear maximally heavy and extremely explosive and fast.
Bizarrely, Voevoda's been adhering to a vegan diet for the past three or four years, with no ill effects.  Whether this is a testament to the fact the man cannot be killed, we can only speculate, but he insists he avoids protein drinks and mainly subsists on a diet of fruits and vegetables.  

Travis Bagent, most amusing man in armwrestling.

As you can see, there's not a great deal of consensus on the best way to train to enable you to snap a motherfucker's arm like a piece of dry kindling over your knee.  What there is instead is a wide array of disparate training methods, freaks of fucking nature, and Fat Gripz.  Given the paucity of information on the subject of training for armwrestling, it seemed prudent to consult with Chaos and Pain's own Talia VanDoran, who recently added "armwrestler" to her strength sporting acumen, piling that atop her strongwoman and powerlifting competitions.  The following is what transpired in an interview we conducted some time ago in an effort to shed some light on how armwrestlers train.

Talia VanDoran

5'4" 180lbs

In re how her training has changed to suit armwrestling:
"My training has adapted in many ways now that I am incorporating arm wrestling to the list of strength sports I play with. Arm wrestling isn’t necessarily about big arms. Actually, it isn’t about big arms at all. I’ve seen some amazing pullers with arms smaller than mine. May be a little embarrassing for them, but they can take down giants! We are really talking about TENDON strength, wrist strength and grip strength. Coming from a background in powerlifting and strongwoman has helped me jump to the top of the pack. More specifically, the strongwoman training has been my biggest asset in the transition into arm wrestling. My supportive, crushing and pinching grip is solid due to my work with implements such as axle, stones, farmers etc. Also, strongwoman is bicep intensive. Arm wrestling is also bicep intensive. My tendons are conditioned to that type of strain, so I have done relatively well in a short amount of time. My wrists have also really thickened up since becoming a strongwoman. Carrying events are amazing wrist builders.

I do spend time in the gym working on upper back strength, but that is not only for arm wrestling. Everyone knows a big upper back will lend well to massive lifts across the board. Most women come into arm wrestling without a training background. This is where I am able to excel."

At the very least, powerlifting equips you to handle ebola.

In re program structure:"My program is based in powerlifting while adding in strongwoman implement work, arm wrestling accessory and body building hypertrophy. Brandon Lilly has been working with me to create a program that can sustain all three sports while not completely wrecking me. I never really thought I would be a multi-sport athlete and it does pose some interesting programming challenges, but it is some of the most fun I have ever had. I love pushing myself to the limit, so my programming has to allow for recovery while still seeing gains and prepare me for multiple competitions no matter the sport. Sounds like a lot of hard shit. I promise you it ain’t easy! Brandon has really worked hard to help me take on this crazy idea, stay healthy and SAFE."

In re arm wrestling practice:"Arm wrestling practice consists of table time. Getting on the table and pulling other people is what is going to make you better at arm wrestling. We run through some wrist warm-ups and then start pulling. At practice we really focus on technique. Most matches are won in the hand. If you can get your hand placement to where you are in the leverage advantage, the match is basically over. Arm wrestling is truly a game of leverages and is complicated as hell. This is why being “strong” isn’t enough. Focusing on different style techniques is also a major part of practice. The hook and top-roll are your most common styles. There are variations of each and different combinations of the two. Practice is a great time to play with your style and find what works best for you. We also get some strap work in, which eliminates a lot of hand/wrist leverage. The strap plays to the strength of those with big backs/lats. You will use a strap in a match when you have a slip, so always being prepared for that to be an option is important."

Finishing a full hand top roll.

In re her armwrestling style:"My AW “style” is more of a full-hand top-roll. A lot of women like to high-hand top-roll because the strength isn’t there. This looks like a lot of finger grabbing and pinning, instead of what you traditionally think of in arm wrestling. I’ll get into a high-hand with some girls, but in most cases I’m going to show them what power feels like. In a full hand, I’m able to utilize my lats/back/shoulders/triceps instead of playing the "finger dance." Due to my lifting background I’m able to overpower my competition in most cases. Even women that weigh 50+ pounds more than I do will struggle to match my strength at the table. I’m thankful for that advantage and I go into my matches with a good amount of confidence. That’s where the “mental” component comes into play. Arm wrestling is a personal sport. You are all up in someone’s space. Emotions are high. Intensity is palpable. There is NO other feeling like it. Intimidation is key. Setting up with confidence and showing no weakness will win matches. I don’t fear my opponents. I have pulled some amazing women. I have lost matches, but I never fear them. I welcome the challenge and don’t allow them into my mental space. I’m there to dominate. We can shake hands and exchange pleasantries when the match is over."

In re the idea that bodyweight training is ideal for armwrestling:"Bodyweight training ideal??? No. I don’t think so. Maybe if you are sport specific for arm wrestling, but even then you won’t build as solid of a muscular base as you will with weight training. I can see the advantage to some bodyweight movements when considering the development of tendon strength and wrist conditioning (pull-ups etc). However, I think it is of paramount importance to get your ass under a barbell."

In re the ideal diet for an armwrestler:"I’ve never seen a diet for arm wrestlers. In fact, a lot of guys will eat just about anything with no concern for how it will impede their training. The upper level pro pullers will eat a very “body building” style diet. Typically, they train like BBers as well, which I find to be very interesting. My diet consists of meat. Lots of it. Fat. Lots of it. Starchy carbs are minimal and veggies are just fluff in addition to the meat and fat. It’s worked well thus far. I’m sitting at 178#s just shy of 5’5”. #flatgutfatbutt"

In re why Talia gets so salty when people say "Nice tatts" or "nice ink" to her:
"Here’s the deal. When someone comes up to me (mostly men) and says, “nice tats” or “nice ink” I say thank you and move along. Generally, if this conversation is entertained, it will turn into talking about their tattoos, the tattoos they want, the tattoos they wish they hadn’t have gotten, the tattoos they want to show me (which usually involves removing articles of clothing) and potentially touching my tattoos. These are all things I’d like to avoid. I’m not quite sure what it is about the words “tatt” and “ink,” but I have found that when those words are present the conversation goes south. A lot of women that are heavily tattooed will get stopped to talk about tattoos. That’s ok in my book, but there is a slightly trashy connotation to the words “tatt” and “ink.” And guys…let’s be honest…”nice tatts” and "nice ink” usually tell a female you are hitting on her and could care less about the quality of her tattoos. Sorry. It may be unfair, but lots of things in life are unfair. Just say “nice tattoos” and you might have a better time."

And there you have it- there are a million ways to skin armwrestling's cat.  Whatever you decide to do, however, just don't tell Talia VanDoran she has nice tats, or you might end up staring up at her as she gnaws on your severed and bloody right arm.


Interview: Alexey Voevoda about armwrestling and bobsleigh.  18 Aug 2012.  Web.  19 Jun 2014.  http://www.xsportnews.com/armwrestling/interview-alexey-voevoda-about-armwrestling-and-bobsleigh/

Interview: Denis Cyplenkov – Winner of A1 RUSSIAN OPEN – World Armwrestling Grand Prix – 27-28 July 2012.  XSportnews.  8 Aug 2012.  Web.  22 Sep 2013.  http://www.xsportnews.com/armwrestling/interview-denis-cyplenkov-winner-of-a1-russian-open-world-armwrestling-grand-prix-27-28-july/

Interview with Sarah Bäckman.  World Challenge.  8 Jan 2012.  Web.  22 Sep 2013.  http://www.worldchallenge.se/Default.asp?oewCmd=3&id=56201&archiveid=1517&pageid=29935&path

John Brzenk. Wikipedia.  Web.  13 Sep 2013.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Brzenk#Training_and_strength_feats

John Brzenk about armwrestling training.  XSportnews.  25 Oct 2013.  Web.  19 Jun 2014. http://www.xsportnews.com/armwrestling/john-brzenk-armwrestling-training/

Plummer, John.  Changing Attitudes.  Muscle and Fitness Australia.  Web.  18 Jun 2014.  http://www.muscle-fitness.com.au/features/article/0-news-and-features/192/changing-attitudes

The Most Jacked Athlete in Every Sport.  Muscle Prodigy.  18 Jul 2012.  Web.  18 Jun 2014.  http://www.muscleprodigy.com/the-most-jacked-athlete-in-every-sport-arcl-3187.html

13 June 2014

Books, Movies, and Music That Will Make Your June Even More June-y

For whatever reason, I feel compelled to write intros for these things, even though the intro to a post about music, movies, and books is about as necessary as Obamacare and about as useful as the guy from 30 Bananas a Day's cock.  As such, allow me to rep some of the bands I'm jocking of late, and those of some of my friends, two books that rule, and movies wherein people get fucked up with hammers.  For those of you who give two shits about my recommendations, Danni Kalifornia.


Malice is a tiny band onto which I was turned by randomly clicking links, as I recall.  After posting about the song I heard on Facebook, the brutal-as-fuck chick singer of the band let me know they dropped an even harder track with even more brutal vocals.  I have never jocked a band because of their novelty and usually disregard chick fronted bands due to the fact that they usually use effects on their vocals and rely far too heavily on sex appeal to draw fans.  Malice, however, is just about being harder than a gay man's cock at a Liberace look-alike convention, and I get the sense their singer is likely the toughest person in the band.  Whatever the case, if you like old Hatebreed, Misura (they had their album on Bandcamp for free, so fuck it, here it is, and check out Icarus first), or old school New Jersey toughguy/beatdown hardcore, you're gonna love this shit.  Aussie broads bring it hard.

I've got Candice from Malice keeping me updated on their merch and EP if you love this shit half as much as I do.  In the meantime, here's their old song again in case you want something awesome for your lifting mix.  Support your scene, motherfuckers!

Steel City Firm and End of Humanity
At the end of what was perhaps the most pants-shittingly insane roundtable discussion I've ever heard in one of the coolest used bookstores I've ever visited, one of the presenters mentioned he was in a band whose EP and split with Vow of Hatred (who I mentioned here) I'd just purchased off Amazon.  I then leapt out of the stacks pretty much screaming about how much I loved the band (I'd had a lot of Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Genius that day), and after everyone calmed down and realized I wasn't about to beat the dude to death for some reason, I bought him a couple of shots at the bar next door.  There, we decided to cross promote brands, and he subsequently gave me their full discography for your beatdown satisfaction.

If I had to label SCF's sound, I'd say they're metallic hardcore in the vein of late 1990's Victory bands- a mix of No Innocent Victim and In Cold Blood (both of whom you should check out, actually).  Gang vocals, tough guy lyrics, two step parts, and breakdowns are all there in abundance... which means they fucking rule. Also in the discography I posted for you guys is SCF's split with Vow of Hatred, so their epically tough beatdown is in there for your listening pleasure as well.

New Jersey Bloodline
This band is one about whom you've never heard, but definitely should have.  A mainstay in every badass East Coast show in the late 1990s, NJ Bloodline was at the forefront of the toughguy hardcore scene in its heydey.  I've been keeping in contact with the the guy who wrote all of NJ Bloodline's stuff, Frank Gallo, who in spite of his hardon for Mike Mentzer and HIT is actually cool as fuck.  When I told him none of the kids in the scene or in lifting seemed to have heard of his band in spite of the fact that their song Fist has accompanied the first song they ever wrote, Blackout #2, on my lifting playlists since the early 2000s, he was horrified.  Thus, we agreed to put their entire discography online for everyone to enjoy, because this shit goes hard as fuck and is next to impossible to find anywhere.


Years Since the Storm
For some reason, I have a feeling that posting this band is going to hurt some butts, as I know there's no shortage of metal snobbery in my readership.  For those of you who think that black metal's worth playing, just go ahead and skip this band, as you'll likely start screaming "mallcore" the second you realize this band has groove parts.  For the rest of you, you need Years Since the Storm in your playlist- they're both brutal and groovy, and are basically what a band like Soulfly might have become ten years after producing Primitive if they'd not become the Soulfly they are today.  Look past their propensity for taking zany photos and just enjoy the fact that a brutal band can actually settle into a fucking groove that will get your head nodding.

Plan To Prosper
I would be remiss to post about music these days without dropping a badass sludgewave band on your faces.  Plan To Prosper is djent sludgewave, with enough groove that when the breakdowns hit you're already nodding.  There's not a band I can really liken these guys to, which is good, because sludgewave has a tendency to all sound the fucking same.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, as I love sludgewave more than a fat broad loves Twinkies, but it's always nice to get a little variety even within the boundaries of a specific thing- you don't always order the same toppings on your pizza from the same pizza place, do you?  Nah.  And just like you occasionally have to flip a bitch onto her back with her head off the bed and ram your cock down her through until you can feel her duodenum tickling the tip of your dick, sometimes you want a bit of weirdness to go with your brutality in sludgewave.  Chugxcore aleady posted their stuff for download, so hopefully they won't mind me posting it as well- just remember to snag some merch if you ever get the chance.

It wouldn't be a party without Cherry Torn.


Go Kill Crazy
This was my first introduction to horror novelist Brian Smith, and the book was actually purchased for me by a badass redditor with a penchant for posting booty pics but who seems to have svunted, but shouts out to her and her booty anyway.  Go Kill Crazy has nothing whatsoever to do with Reddit or the internet in general, and is instead a sort of Natural Born Killers on meth and steroids, wherein three bisexual psychopaths snort a ton of blow, fuck everyone within arm's reach, and then randomly torture and murder people for no reason.  There's a subplot involving a Jim Jones-esque cult, and eventually the two juggernauts of insanity go head to head, with the mob assisting on the psychopath's behalf.  It's gory, jammed with unnecessary amounts of drug use, graphic depictions of torture and dismemberment, and gratuitous sex.  In short, it's everything you could possibly want in a book.  Snag it on the Amazons if your interest is as piqued as mine.

This Dark Earth
I just gave this book away on the Chaos and Pain Facebook (might want to like that shit if you haven't already) because it was the best book I've read in a hell of a long time and I wanted to give it to a good home.  John Horner Jacobs brought the fucking ruckus in This Dark Earth, a post-apocalyptic zombie novel in which shit goes down the way it actually should, the protagonists are intelligent, and Jacobs ACTUALLY HAS PEOPLE ARMOR UP.  Without question, the only zombie novel worth reading outside of Last Man On Earth unless you're a fucking masochist with a fourth grade reading comprehension level and a burning desire to limit your intellect by reading the produce of the minds of halfwits.  I bought this on a whim on Amazon, and that shit paid off in spades.

Quite frankly, I've not been overawed with a lot of movies of late, and let me tell you, I watch a lot of bullshit to separate the mounting piles of chaff from the wheat.  What follows is the best of a mountain of movies I've watched in the last couple of months, and all three of them made for a decent way to waste a couple of hours.

The Family
If I'm honest, I'm not a fan of De Niro or Michelle Pfeiffer, really.  After the Meet the Parents series, all I wanted out of De Niro was the man's funeral, and Pfeiffer has never really impressed me, though she has aged better than anything in history but fine wine and Sophia Lauren.  The Family, however, was a fucking triumph over their collective desire to produce family-friendly dreck.  In it, DeNiro and the rest are a family in witness protection, sent to France because the entire American mob wants them dead, and they keep killing random people in the towns to which they're relocated.  After tearing through a small French town's asshole like it was made of tissue paper, The Family gets discovered and all hell breaks loose as the mob sends hit men to whack them.  Think a teenage blond is worth fucking with?  This movie might make you think again.

Old Boy

For those of you who've seen the original, you might scoff at the idea that the remake could be better.  I, however, will contend just that- Josh Brolin took the source material and made it even harder.  This is just as dark as the original but with a better hammer scene and just as much fucked-upedness.  Don't believe me?  Check out the clip below.  You need to see this.

Raid 2: Berendal
Hardest movie ever.  I shouldn't even need to explain this movie, so I'm not- just watch it, because it's fucking amazing.  There's no real romantic subplot, and nothing in the movie other than murder, by the bushel.

And that's that.  Coming up, I've got an article on the training of armwrestlers, and there will be a SFW-only interview with Ryan Celli going up over at www.chaosandpain.com.