15 July 2018

Hugh Cassidy- Teeth Are For Strongman And Eating Your Way Through Sticking Points

Plateaus- exactly like the Babadook, only scary and real.

Plateaus are the ever-present bane of every lifter's existence.  Over time, a lot of us just develop the ability to change our focus- we switch from powerlifting to bodybuilding, to variations on the Olympic lifts, to strongman, to Crossfit, or whatever strikes our fancy.  The same weight will be waiting there for us when we return to whatever our previous focus was however, looming over us like the goddamned Babadook, only far less horrifically unscary and far more real.  There is another way, though, and it doesn't involve a five year training plan and spending enough money to put a third world kid to college for a couple of years- eating.

Ever want to know why Ripp tells people to look down when squatting? Question answered.

More specifically, the best way to blast through plateaus is (not coincidentally) the approach of the subject of this article:

"train like a psycho, eat everything in sight, rest up, and grow gargantuan" (Gallagher Primitive 34).

Clearly, the foregoing articles on Bruno Sammartino, Bruce Randall, Chuck Ahrens, Chuck Sipes, and Steve Merjanian stressed this point as well, so I present this article at the risk of flogging a dead horse.  It is a subject of interest to me, however, because I ignored it for about 25 years and it is only now, at the age of 41, that I realize the error of my ways.  Having adopted this strategy and watched PR after PR fall in the gym driven solely by the force of my appetite, I feel like I need to be standing on a fucking milk crate in front of every gym on the planet screaming like one of those end of times lunatics raving about hellfire and corpse gods.  If I had the ability I would travel back in time and beat my own ass like I was a group of heavily armed cops and my younger self was an unarmed black man.  Like I was Ed Norton tuning up the singer from 30 Seconds to Mars.  I would literally beat my younger self like I was my own dick, because it's about the only way my younger self would realize that the sacrifice of two abs to Khorne for a couple of years would mean that at the age of 41 I would likely be benching 500 rather than 415 and front squatting 600+ rather than 545, etc.  At the time I thought that mass would come over time but I might as well sacrifice strength for abs in the meantime was as stupid as it was sad.

If Hugh Cassidy had only been able to tap into the "wealth" of knowledge on Instagram, he could have "fixed" his form and really put up big numbers.

Unlike a lot of the guys pushing huge poundages in powerlifting's infancy, Cassidy was not much of an athlete growing up.  As a college junior he was 5'10" and 155lbs, and realized very quickly that he didn't have the size, strength, or ability to play football, so he bought a 110lb set of weights at a sporting goods store.  By his own account,Cassidy was so weak he might as well have been a modern-day Channer- he had to take two trips to get a 110lb weight set into the house from the streetcar he'd taken to buy them.  To say that the guy was not all that genetically predisposed to putting on muscle is like saying that a fistfight between Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber would probably end in buttsex or that if you left a bowl of heroin sitting out in a roomful of musicians, it would probably be gone by the time you got back from the bathroom.  After a year of training with that set, Cassidy was up to a whopping 156lbs and started looking around for other options.  Instead of taking the modern tack and consulting a bunch of weak strangers with no muscle mass on how best to go about getting jacked, Cassidy hit his local YMCA and joined immediately upon seeing the most jacked dude he'd ever laid eyes on walk out the front door.  Within six months of joining, simply aping the movements of the people around him, Cassidy was up to a respectable 185 pounds and took third in a local YMCA bodybuilding competition, a feat he repeated the following year.

After another two years he was up to 205 and joined the Army, where he started drinking seven or eight quarts (6.6L-7.5L) of milk a day and put on 46lbs in six motherfucking weeks.  It is no exaggeration when I say that simply typing that sentence inspired me to get up and make a protein shake in 24oz of milk (where in the past I would have made a shake at a predetermined time and mixed in water, rather than just said fuck it and bombed down a massive shake in milk just because gainz).  At that point he was big and strong enough that he decided to try his hand at Olympic lifting, posting an aggressively unimpressive 260lbs-200lbs-275lbs (the third being the press) because he had absolutely no clue how to do the lifts.  It was then he realized he had no future in Olympic lifting, but he persisted in smashing weights and milk like they were ladyboi asspussy in a Thai whorehouse anyway.

Just like this.

At that point, powerlifting was truly in its infancy, but although it was neither well-known nor well-respected, Cassidy was bitten by the powerlifting bug after watched the York Powerlifting Championships in 1965.  After going apeshit training the powerlifts for a year, Cassidy entered his first powerlifting meet and posted a 1410 total at 242- nothing terribly exciting these days, but it was respectable in those.  Bear in mind when you read his numbers going forward that powerlifting was not done then the way it is now.  The lift order was bench-squat-deadlift, and the attempts were not separated into flights- they went strictly by weight.  Thus, if your opener was so heavy that it was after the next strongest person's third attempt, you did all three attempts back to back, with 90 seconds between lifts.  Same goes for the weak guys- if all three of their lifts were crazy light compared to the rest, they might be doing theirs back to back.

In perhaps the last flattering photo ever taken of any of the three, a remarkably unincarcerated Big Jim Williams, Hugh, doing his best impression of Charlie Brown, an inexplicably brittle looking John Kuc, and Bob Hoffman with enough weird lapel medals to be tin pot dictator.  I guess he forgot his epaulets that day.

By 1969 Cassidy had found his groove and hit a 1765 total at 242 with 475-615-675, but it was the next year he really started to tear shit up, because he went back to strategy of "EAT MOTHERFUCKER" and hit a 2010 total at 275 with 540-730-740.  Drink that in like a baby bird sucking down its momma's delicious puke- by packing on an extra 30lbs of weight, his bench went up 65lbs, his squat went up 115lbs, and his deadlift went up 65lbs in a single year, long after his noob gains had disappeared.  The coup-de-gras was in 1971, though, when he defeated two absolute titans of powerlifting at the World Power Meet with a total of 2160, posting lifts of 570-800-790 at 291lbs (and absolutely no equipment- not even a belt).  To say that is phenomenal progress hardly begins to describe these events, because hardly anyone on Earth makes those kinds of gains 15 years into lifting, and it all comes down to one thing- eating your fucking face off.

I think if I could get Catalina to predigest my shakes mama bird-style I could pack on mass even faster.  If anyone has her contact info, I am willing to give that a shot... for science.  There would be a marriage proposal in there for her as well to sweeten the deal.

Whatever you're thinking "eating your fucking face off" entails, you're thinking like a pussy.  According to Marty Gallagher, when Cassidy was making the jump from 242 to heavyweight (there was no 308 class at that time), the man was a machine.  When attending the first ever National Powerlifting Championships as a spectator, Cassidy waddled into the auditorium with a big-ass cooler full of milk and sandwiches- to be exact, a dozen sandwiches and two half gallons of milk.  As the lifting progressed, Cassidy methodically destroyed the sandwiches one by one, washing them down with big-ass gulps from the milk cartons (Gallagher Primitive 32).  When at home, he'd drink extra pint cartons of milk between sandwiches and meals, and after dinner would drink a protein shake consisting of "two eggs, one instant breakfast, and two cups of powdered milk with a half gallon of skim milk in a large container" that he'd sip slowly while winding down for the evening (Cassidy "Long Road").  He continued that approach day in and day out, endless sandwiches and gallon after gallon of milk, until he ended up nine pounds short of his goal weight of 300 at the World Power Meet.

Ever the innovator, that man could come up with some weird-ass methods for moving weight.  How he didn't end up on his face with this method is a mystery up there with the meaning of the Voynich Manuscript.  Here is his reasoning for this method, explained:
“Hugh Cassidy had us look at a spot on the floor roughly 3-4 feet in front of us as we squatted – this of course is totally contrary to everything taught in standardized powerlifting wherein the head is thrown up and back – Hugh felt this ‘site spot’ created a better spinal position for pushing – I teach this as an advanced technique – the triangle refers to the imaginary line that runs from ankle to ankle and from each ankle to the site spot” (Furman).

That weight gain didn't come without a price, however.  As Cassidy put it:
"I still plan to continue training although I'll be very happy to shed some of this excess poundage. Although I'm impressed with the "big guys" I find it isn't easy to be one of them without a lot of sacrifice. There is the constant sweating and the rashes that last until cooler winter weather. There is frequent acid indigestion and ever-present diarrhea from all the milk and eggs and protein powder. You have to walk like a duck or your thighs grind into hamburger. There are the spinal erectors that go into spasm whenever you walk up a grade and of course the food bill and the clothes that no longer fit. Big men's sizes are about as tasteful as some guy wrapped up in an awning. Most of my shirts look like I'm still in pajamas. What with the extra naps and the shortness of breath I've decided to reduce to the 242's again. I've been miserable these last two years but also very pleased with the gains in power" (Cassidy "Long Road"). 
 In short, eating like you're training for the World's Hot Dog Eating Competition non-stop, year-round, takes its toll on a human being.  Rather than being a fun-filled exploit wherein you simply see how much KFC you can jam down your throat in one sitting at all times, the type of aggressive eating required to make serious strength and size gains can be more miserable than being forced to binge watch alternating episodes of The Golden Girls and Antiques Roadshow, and in many ways is less pleasant than actually dieting to be lean.

"'Eat your way through sticking points!' 
He'd say.  If the poundage were feeling heavy on Saturday morning weighing 216, push your bodyweight to 220 by Wednesday and make those weights seem light" (Gallagher Primitive 35).

Such is life- if it were easy, everyone would do it, right?  As for training, it's astonishing that Cassidy and his training partners weren't puking into trash cans through half of each session, since they were all following Cassidy's prescription for eating-until-half-dead.  His training methods evolved over time, but the focus remained very simple- beat the living shit out of the main lifts and throw in minimal arm, shoulder, and neck work as supplementary work.  The supplementary work was only included to prevent boredom (and a throwback to his bodybuilding past) that he even suggested people vary their hand spacing, sets, and reps- the man was all business (Niemi).  For the World Meet, Cassidy's training looked like this (Cassidy "Long Road"):

Hugh Cassidy's WR Training Routine
Bench Press - 135x15, 245x10, 345x6, 425x3, 475x3, 510x1, 530x1 or 2, 545x1.
Bench Press (with two second pause) - 470x5, 505x3, 525x1 or 2, 545x1.
Squat - 275x8, 435x5, 560x3, 650x3, 700x3, 725x3, 650x3, 670x3.
Deadlift - 335x8, 535x5, 670x2, 750x2.

Upright Row (press grip, with straps) - 185x20, 225x12, 275x8, 205x15.
Neck Work (with helmet, front) - 40x25, 60x25, 75x20, 50x40;
Neck Work (with helmet, back) - 40x25, 60x25, 75x20, 50x30.

"'I'm so sick of this overtraining crap! It's such a cop out. It appeals to our laziest instincts. It says less is better and suggests there really is a substitute for hard work.  Kid, when you're squatting 800 pounds, then we'll talk about overtraining. Work load capacity can be systematically increased.... You can improve the body's ability to work heavier, longer and more often. INTENSITY, DURATION and FREQUENCY is what we're talkin' in this gym'" (Cassidy and Gallagher).
For a while, Hugh decided to use his teeth for something other than endless sandwiches and turned his eye toward setting records in teeth lifting.  For the life of me I cannot figure out what the logic is there- I have an easier time understanding why people might become furries and how two invariably fat people manage to make their naughty bits touch while dressed up like Disney characters.  I'm assuming he read the biography of Joseph "The Mighty Atom" Greenstein and was inspired, though I fail to understand why.  The why, however, isn't important- for all we know Hugh liked fucking old ladies' church shoes and while dressed like a flamenco dancer.  Hugh goes into great detail about his teeth training, which is such a bizarre and specific type of strongman feat there's no real point in detailing the bits about strengthening your teeth, choosing a mouthguard.  What should be of importance, however, is how the structure of his training changed to suit the specific type of strength he sought- and note the distinct lack of periodization, which Hugh stated at least once was a stupid fucking way to structure a program.

Hugh Cassidy's Teeth Lifting Program (Cassidy "Teeth")
Deadlifts – 335x8, 435x8, 505x8.
Upright Row (press grip) – 115x15, 135x10x3sets, 115x15.
Neck Work (helmet with weights loaded on a pipe on top) – 40x25x2, 55x25x2, 70x15, 70x20, 50x30x4.
Teeth Lifting – 85x20, 150x15, 200x10, 250x5.

There were two standard accessories from which Cassidy never strayed- neck work and the stiff legged deadlift.  Neck work, Hugh (rightly) believed, was crucial to total body strength.  Beyond aiding in the bench press by providing stability and being an obvious critical area of strength for teeth lifting, Hugh espoused direct neck work (which is basically listed above but covered in detail here) for anyone competing in contact sports because the next serves as a shock absorber, and for everyone else just because a person with a powerful looking neck is a powerful looking person.  I can attest to the fact that I automatically have more respect for men with thick necks, little respect for pencil necks, and I want to fuck Gina Carano almost entirely due to her awesome neck.  My lizard brain screams to me that I need to produce offspring with a woman who's got a neck bigger than most of the dudes reading this, and that our progeny would easily dominate coming generations simply by the authority and power derived from their massive necks.

Hugh's other beloved assistance work was stiff legged deadlifts.  As I alluded to above, Cassidy was a devout believer in the adage that the best assistance exercises are those that most closely match the lift itself- close grip bench for bench press, narrow stance squats for the squat, and the stiff legged deadlift for the deadlift (Gallagher "Trade").  To that end, every deadlift workout would conclude with two sets of stiff legged deadlifts, ultra strict, with the goal of turning lifters' spinal erectors "into industrial cranes" (Ibid).  Occasionally done standing on a 3" thick 100lb plate, these would initially be pulled off the floor conventional, as a deficit deadlift, keeping the bar in contact with the shin the entire time.  It'd then be lowered with a stiff-legged method, maintaining contact with the shin and a slight bend in the knee, light touch to the floor, and repeat.  Like Chuck Sipes with the skull crusher, Cassidy and his lifters knew for a certainty that if their stiff legged deadlift PR increased, their deadlift would too.  The ratio was different for every lifter, but seemed to hover in the 40-50lb range- ergo, if their stiff legged PR was 650, they were good for 700 or so on the conventional deadlift (Ibid).

Cassidy, at a lean 195lbs taking third yet again in a bodybuilding competition after retiring from PL.

After setting his world record, Cassidy blew out his knee and retired from competing, but as you can see above, he definitely didn't quit lifting.  Cassidy cut back down to 195 and competed in bodybuilding for a while, but he kept training powerlifters in his basement gym for years.  A man after my own heart, Cassidy was Marilyn Manson-style weird- a metal sculpture artist in his spare time, Cassidy built demonic metal monstrosities that scared the living shit out of any Christians who happened to wander by his yard.  Additionally, he was a badass guitarist and bass player, but the bulk of his ingenuity was devoted to new ways to torture his proteges into become powerlifting behemoths... and it worked.  Cassidy coached retired semi-pro baseball player-turned-powerlifter Marshall "Doc" Peck to a 790lb squat, 530lb bench, and 710lb pull at 220 using what I assume was first gen powerlifting gear, and Mark "Duck" Dimiduk to an 800lb squat and deadlift and a 500lb bench at 220.  Their program was even more brutal than the one Cassidy used to hit his world record total.

Hugh Cassidy Training Split (Gallagher Primitive 34)
Squat- Top set of 8 reps, then 3 back off sets of 10 reps (Week 1-4)
            Top set of 5 reps, then 3 back off sets of 8 reps (Week 4-8) 
            Top set of 3 reps, then 3 back off sets of 5 reps (Week 8-12)   
Bench Press- Same as squat cycle
Deadlift- Same as squat cycle
Heaves (Heavy high pulls)- 2-3 sets done explosively for 6-8 reps
- Stiff Legged Deadlifts- 2-3x5
*One of the two
{Bicep Curls- 3-4x6-8
{Tricep Pushdowns or Skullcrushers- 3-4x6-8
* Arm work was generally supersetted
** 2-3 sets of 5 of close stance squats could follow squat if you want, and the same for bench, though generally he only had his lifters do deadlift assistance.

Repeat Saturday

As to the loading for the backoff sets, here's how it worked:
"'For a 500 pound squatter, we might go 145x15, 235x10, 325x7, 400x5. No suit, no wraps.  Okay, after you work up to your heavy five rep set, reduce the weight to 275 or so an do a set of 10 reps. Take a five minute rest and load the bar to 300 and do a set of 10 reps. Rest about five more minutes and load the bar to 320 and do your final set of 10 reps. All three back-off sets must be done within 15 minutes. That's the cardinal rule. We're building reserve power here and increasing the body's workload capacity" (Cassidy and Gallagher).
I couldn't find any pics of Hugh Cassidy's demonic art, but this seems to be a suitable replacement.

And there you have it- the best way to smash through sticking points and demolish plateaus isn't any of the happy horseshit you read about changing exercises and rep schemes, or finding a coach and paying him hundreds of ultimately wasted dollars to provide you with some tired routine that is almost guaranteed not to work.  The best way to smash through sticking points and drive your lifts into the stratosphere is to eat like you're the glutton in the movie 7even and just try not to die at the end, then lift until you're practically bleeding from the eyes.  Then sleep and repeat.  Stop making this shit out to be harder than it is.


Cassidy used protein shakes to blast through his sticking points, so it makes sense I might as well make it cheaper for the lot of us to get to 500lb benches.  Use promo code Bloat20 at checkout to get 20% off your entire order at Chaos and Pain- our badass whey Cannibal Kraken is back in stock with 5 badass flavors (including Pumpkinhead Latte, which I've been adding to my Honduran Lempira Chaos and Pain coffee like a basic Starbucks bitch).
Cassidy, Hugh.  My long road to the top (1972).  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  8 Oct 2017.  Web.  2 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2017/10/my-long-road-to-top-hugh-cassidy-1972.html

Cassidy, Hugh.  New wrinkles in neck work (1973).  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  16 Oct 2017.  Web.
 2 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2017/10/new-wrinkles-in-neck-work-hugh-cassidy.html

Cassidy, Hugh.  Teeth lifting.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  15 Oct 2017.  Web.  2 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2017/10/note-this-article-was-first-posted-here.html

Cassidy, Hugh and Marty Gallagher.  All Trax Lead To Jax: A Modern Squatting Parable  (1985).  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  4 Mar 2017.  Web.  2 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2017/03/a-modern-squatting-parable-hugh-cassidy.html

Furman, Tom.  Really, really simple strength from Hugh Cassidy.  Train for Life.  22 Nov 2006.  Web.  2 Jun 2018.  http://www.tomfurman.com/really-really-simple-strength-from-hugh-cassidy/

Gallagher, Marty.  Trade Secret #77: Stiff-leg deadlift.  Powerlifting Watch.  5 Feb 2008.  Web.  2 Jun 2018.  https://www.powerliftingwatch.com/node/7221

Gallagher, Marty.  Purposeful Primitive.  St. Paul: Dragon Door Publications, 2008.

John, Dan.  10 things every lifter should be able to do.  T-Nation.  10 Jun 2016.  Web.  2 Jun 2018.  https://www.t-nation.com/training/10-things-every-lifter-should-be-able-to-do

Niemi, Paul.  Power training simplified.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  2 Aug 2010.  Web.  2 Jun 2018.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2010/08/hugh-cassidy-paul-niemi.html

11 July 2018

Berserker Or Zen Monk? Choosing The Path To Victory Means Knowing Yourself, Part 1

Every time I have ever run across an article regarding the correct mindset for success in the gym or in sport, it was written with a specific viewpoint in mind is right and any other is patently incorrect.  While I will state that I am unequivocally correct in my assertion, it's not because I pick one side or another.  The proper mindset when training and competing, whether you are headbutting the fuck out of the bar and have a latex-clad dominatrix punting your balls before a lift, the chillest bro anyone's ever seen carve up Jaws in Maui, or ice man-serial-killer-quiet, is not a question with a catch-all answer.  Instead, it's entirely dependent upon your personality and mentality.

Half of it is incredibly useful and half of it appears to me to be utter garbage.  the latter half made me wonder if I was just much more insane than I knew myself to be.

For years, I had wondered what in the fuck people were babbling about regarding the benefits of a cool head in compeition.  I've definitely gotten myself overhyped and gotten under squat weights with my legs shaking like my name is Michael J. Fox, but acting like your typical USAPL lifter and listening to some smooth jazz and speaking in entirely PG language never helped anyone do anything other than annoy me in an elevator to my knowledge.  In spite of this, people like Bradley Steiner and Frank Zane used to write about the evils of metal and aggression, and Vince Gironda would tear up memberships if people wore headphones in his gym.

At the same time, I knew I liked getting hyped the fuck up in the gym and before competition, Lattimer-in-The Program-style, that martial music had been used for millennia to scare the opposition and encourage the combatants, that certain warrior cults would whip themselves into a frenzy for success in battle, and that Muscle and Fitness, Flex, and Muscular Development articles always contradicted the fuck out of Ironman magazine's authors by citing studies showing that aggressive music increases performance.

Flower arrangement vs facial rearrangement.  
Holy shit, was I ready to riot at the end of this episode of deadliest warrior.

What aggravated me about this situation most is the fact that no one seems to be willing to concede that there is a middle ground, and as it's obvious to anyone with a working set of fucking eyeballs there is.  And that middle ground is very simple- Zen Buddhism, asceticism, and silence works for some people, while freaking the fuck out and running around like a maniac so hyped you're fucking bleeding adrenaline and testosterone works for others.

The Science
Getting Pyched / Getting Metal
  • In one study of twenty participants split between men and woman, their five rep bench press tested using "a free-choice psych-up, a cognitive distraction, and an attention-placebo."  Peak force recorded after psyching-up was 12% higher in the psych-up group than the distraction, and over 8% from the placebo.  Thus, the study showed that if you're a trainee with a year of training under your belt, your peak force on the bench when you're pumped the fuck up will be considerably higher than people who are, say, fucking around on their phone between sets or people who've done nothing to increase their focus, such as the people in Gironda's gym (Tod).
  • There is something to that old school weight room battle cry- it improves muscle activation and peak O2 and VO2 when busting your ass in the gym, and improved hand strength in one study by 7% (Chen, Welch).
  • Whether you get psyched by being happy or angry, either is a gift compared to being anxious or calm in competition (Rathschlag).
  • Fast music benefits people exercising far more than slow music and which was more helpful than no music at all.  The perception of exertion isn't reduced, but the length of the workout was (Thakari, Thakur).
  • Even if you can't listen to music when you're competing, listening to music while you warmup increases your power output significantly (Chtourou, Jarraya).
  • Music might be useful for fighters, Olympic lifters, and throwers.  Speed and reactivity in surgeons was increased significantly in those listening to music than not, especially where the surgeons played music they liked (Allen).
  • Music makes you more explosive- it improved the velocity of takeoff and force development in squat jumps in one study (Biagini).

Psyched or Chill?  It depends.
  • There was a hell of a lot of variability in a study on the performance of karatekas while angry.  Performance ran the gamut on athletes by performance and the intensity of anger.  "In best performances, the intensity of experienced anger was perceived as increasing the generation of energy whereas in worst performances, anger reflected an ineffective generation and utilization of resources (Ruiz).
  • Moderation seemed to be key in one study on the use of anger in rugby, and self-confidence is necessary for the control of anger and its effect on performance.  Importantly, however they found that "cognitive anxiety was a significant predictor of anger, while self-confidence was a significant predictor of control of anger" (Robazza).
  • Anger is indeed a gift, but one study showed that it was more a gift for extroverts than with introverts (Woodman).
  • Psyching up does not help performance in 1RM in the squat, according to one study (McGuigan).

Vince Gironda probably screamed this at young whippersnappers in Venice Beach 20 times a day.

Chill the fuck out
  • Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is lower when athletes train in silence (Biagini).
  • Encouraging weaker training partners kills their performance, so keep your mouth shut while you're training partner is lifting (Irwin).
  • Relaxing music lowers heart rate and RPE in high-intensity cardiovascular training (Karageorghis)
  • Relaxing music lowers grip strength, but silence or exciting music don't do jack to improve grip strength, so whatever you do, don't train in an elevator (Pearce)
Thus far, it looks like the maniacs are taking it to the monks in our little "Deadliest Iron Warrior Sacrificing on the Throne of Crom" battle- just in getting psyched up and throwing in a yell or grunt when you attempt a lift it looks like you might be able to improve your force output by 20%, which is a hell of a lot.  Hell- we've all lost a pull because of grip strength.  Just imagine if you could get an extra 7% on your deadlift just from an old-school karate kiai.  If you've got a 500lb pull, you're instantly pulling 535lbs just from making a bit of noise.  Maybe all of this old school "meathead" shit isn't as worthless as whoever your favorite weaksauce evidence based coach might say.

My man might have been built like a Redditor, but that kiai might have put him into Bodybuilding.com levels of "super strength."

Frankly, there is not a lot of scientific evidence out there that silence or being a chill bro will get you to the next level in strength sports, but as I will show in part two, there is some anecdotal evidence in that direction.  As i said at the beginning, I obviously tend toward the "throw on the new Hate Diplomacy (which fucking slams), rip off my shirt, and terrorize everyone in the gym wearing a loincloth and bleeding all over the equipment," but one of the reasons I rarely interject my personal experience into these articles is that I want to give you guys the ability to make an informed decision on your own.  As such, Part 2 of this series will have the anecdotal evidence for both sides.  The list of shit I have in various stages of completion is absolutely preposterous, running the gamut from an extremely unique dieting style based on ancient history, John  McWilliams (the first guy with 20" arms was not in fact Leroy Colbert), Jon Cole, a few others 1950s guys you've likely never heard of, and Part 2 of the Training for the Apocalypse Series (Robot Rape and the Nuclear Option).

Until then, here's Bud Jeffries' take on the debate:

"It's an interesting topic. I've done it both ways. I've actually come to a place where I feel like those are both doors to the same room so to speak one from the angry side and one from the calm side. Today I actually view them similar to the way the Chinese view Qi Gong. With the berserker style being a hard chigong and the calm stop being a soft chigong. I grew up in the old school powerlifting gym and American football atmosphere rowdy and slapping and berserker type. Later I'm adopted a more calm style through the influence of martial arts that really more so from the years I spent performing as a professional strongman. In a three-year time span I did literally 1000 anti-bullying shows in schools. Each show had about 6 feats of strength.  
Now what you doing a show isn't max effort usually but you still have to be able to immediately give a person strength and go right back to talking without missing a breath. To do that you need to be in shape but you also need to be able to harness and immediately get to the mental place to do a feet of strength at the snap of a finger and then go right back to the flow of speaking. I think both are useful at the appropriate time but I also think you get more mental training out of learning to be calm and immediately turn on and off your adrenaline / mental power. I have found that stronger when I remain calm and then immediately go into action versus spend a lot of time doing psyching. The problem with a beserker style is it tends to burn up a ton of mental energy and you start to become dependent on it. In other words I want to be able to spring into action at a moment's notice without having to spend 5 minutes getting my head together and banging on the wall. I think it can be a good thing for young guys because they almost like a learning process they need to go through. And sometimes they have a lot of anger they got a harness and get in a positive direction instead of unleashing it in stupid ways.  
The problem I see with using a berserker style long-term is that you develop your own Pavlovian response. That means this if you're teaching yourself to be angry all the time that starts to flow outside of the gym as well and every time you walk into the gym you immediately get that overly tense response because your condition to it. This is going to sound weird but I have actually found on strongest when I'm laughing. I think that comes from a place of add a lot of background of focusing so I can be focused very quickly and still actually display other qualities. But I also think when you laugh you you gotten past any kind of fear with a thing, or past taking things overly serious which I have the tendency to do in regard to lifting, and into the pure joy of what's going on and I tend to respond best to that. When I was young I be mad for days if I missed a lift. Now I simply go on and make it later. kind of like this I want to condition myself for that endorphin response and happiness to be built up through my workout instead of to get there through going through a hard mental place and being exhausted. 
Still have that absolutely intense desire that comes with the berserker style but it just comes out in a much more calm use of energy and maniacal laughing way, haha."
Allen K, Blascovich J.  Effects of music on cardiovascular reactivity among surgeons.  JAMA. 1994 Sep 21;272(11):882-4.

Andrew, Evan.  8 legendary battle cries.  History. 21 may 2015.  Web.  4 Jun 2018.  https://www.history.com/news/8-legendary-battle-cries

Biagini MS, Brown LE, Coburn JW, Judelson DA, Statler TA, Bottaro M, Tran TT, Longo NA.  Effects of self-selected music on strength, explosiveness, and mood.  J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1934-8.

Chen CL, Yu NY, Tang JS, Chang SH, Yang YR, Wang L.  Effect of yelling on maximal aerobic power during an incremental test of cycling performance.  J Sport Sci.  2016 Dec;5(4):456-61.

Chtourou H, Chaouachi A, Hammouda O, Chamari K, Souissi N.  Listening to music affects diurnal variation in muscle power output.  Int J Sports Med. 2012 Jan;33(1):43-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1284398.

Coombes, Kevin Flanagan.  The Irish war cry and what it meant to the Celtic tribes in battle.  Irish Central.  6 May 2017.  Web.  4 Jun 2018.  https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/the-irish-war-cry-and-what-it-meant-to-the-celtic-tribes-in-battle

Gibbons, Phil.  Craziest facts about Viking berserkers, history's hardcore Norse warrior-shamans.  Ranker.  Web.  16 Jun 2018.  https://www.ranker.com/list/viking-berserker-facts/philgibbons

Hughes GM, Rudin-Brown CM, Young KL.  A simulator study of the effects of singing on driving performance.  Accid Anal Prev. 2013 Jan;50:787-92.

Irwin BC, Feltz DL, Kerr NL.  Silence is Golden: Effect of Encouragement in Motivating the Weak Link in an Online Exercise Video Game.  J Med Internet Res. 2013 Jun; 15(6): e104.

Jarraya, M., Chtourou, H., Aloui, A., Hammouda, O., Chamari, K., Chaouachi, A., & Souissi, N. The Effects of Music on High-intensity Short-term Exercise in Well Trained Athletes. Asian J Sports Med. 2012 Dec; 3(4): 233–238.

McCoy, Daniel.  Berserkers and other shamanic warriors.  Norse Mythology for Smart People.  Web.  16 Jun 2018.  https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/others/berserkers-and-other-shamanic-warriors/

McGuigan MR, Ghiagiarelli J, Tod D.  Maximal strength and cortisol responses to psyching-up during the squat exercise.  J Sports Sci. 2005 Jul;23(7):687-92.

McManus, Mark.  Muscle mind hack #2 – Use music for more muscle and strength!  Musclehack.  10 Jun 2009.  Web.  4 Jun 2018.  https://www.musclehack.com/muscle-mind-hack-2-use-music-for-more-muscle-strength/

Paul, Annie Murphy.  Does Listening to Music While Working Make You Less Productive?  Time.  12 Sep 2012.  Web.  4 Jun 2018.  http://ideas.time.com/2012/09/12/does-listening-to-music-while-working-make-you-less-productive/

Pearce K.A. Effects of different types of music on physical strength. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1981;53:351–352.

Rathschlag M, Memmert D.  The influence of self-generated emotions on physical performance: an investigation of happiness, anger, anxiety, and sadness.  J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2013 Apr;35(2):197-210.

Robazza C, Bortoli L.  Perceived impact of anger and anxiety on sporting performance in rugby players. J Sport Exerc Psychol.  2007 Nov;8(6):875–896.

Ruiz MC, Hanin YL.  Perceived impact of anger on performance of skilled karate athletes. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2011 Jun;12(3):242–249.

Thakare AE, Mehrotra R, Singh A.  Effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate among young adults.  Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2017; 9(2): 35–39.

Thakur AM, Yardi SS.  Effect of different types of music on exercise performance in normal individuals.  Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Oct-Dec;57(4):448-51.

Tod DA, Iredale KF, McGuigan MR, Strange DEO, Gill N.  J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):599-603

Welch AS, Tschampl M.  Something to Shout About: A Simple, Quick Performance Enhancement Technique Improved Strength in Both Experts and Novices.  2012;24(4):418-28.

Woodman T, Davis PA, Hardy L, Callow N, Glasscock I, Yuill-Proctor J.
 Emotions and sport performance: an exploration of happiness, hope, and anger.  J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2009 Apr;31(2):169-88.

02 July 2018

Fuck Buying Weight Gainers- Bulking Shakes Of The Golden Age

In the aftermath of my run of articles about brobdingnagian badasses from the era of surf rock (if listening to that dogshit was the key to a 500lb bench I'd stop doing the fucking lift altogether) I've received a steady stream of inquiries for more details on their diets, programs, and gainer shakes in particular.  Though I've covered some of the shakes here and here, it seemed worth digging a bit deeper into the subject, because if there is any bigger, Santa Claus-sized back of baby back bullshit than the commercial weight gain shake in the supplement industry, I have no idea what it is.  Commercial weight gainers are nothing more than overpriced whey mixed with sugar, and all that is going to get you is fat and bloated enough that you'll look like you're prepping to slap on some blackface and rock out with your cock (or lady cock) out in Medea's Family Gets Diabetes Again.  I realize that the foregoing sentence presumes you're white, but given the fact that Wayne Brady is far more thuggish than the couple of black dudes I know who read this site, they'd likely have to slap on a few coats of tanner and megadose Melanotan 2 for an entire summer while watching Boyz in the Hood on repeat to be black enough to receive a ghetto pass.  I'm not saying they're Carlton from Fresh Prince-style white, but they would have to be wearing iced fronts and holding a goblet of Purple Drank to even be street enough to make it into a Kid n' Play movie.

New Line damn near made Freddy vs Jason vs Kid n' Play, which would have been the greatest cinematic achievement in history.  

The demographics of my audience aside, my hatred of commercially-produced weight gain shakes and recent interest in 1950's and 60's strength training luminaries has produced an answer for those of you who want to pack on the mass without resorting to eating McDonald's and hot dogs all the live-long day- old school weight gain protein shake recipes.  These recipes will be off-putting at first to great many of you due to their insanely high calories and fat content, but there is a very thoughtful method to the weight gaining madness of Golden Age of bodybuilding and prehistoric era of powerlifting.

Contrary to the assertion of every douche who's ever pushed up on a girl while she's trying to lift, cum is not a good source of protein and thus would not qualify as a post-workout shake or a Rheo Blair-style "protein pudding."

The recipes of this era focus on a caloric balance between fat and protein, which protein powder pioneer Rheo H. Blair considered essential.  Blair was the first real phenom in the supplement industry, using himself and other test subjects for experimental trials training in his state-of-the-art facility and protein meal/shake.  Blair himself referred to it as protein pudding due to its thickness, and his own progress in the gym and testimonials from his trial subjects set the lifting world afire like a seaman's dick after shore leave in the Philippines. 

Don Howorth looking big as fuck at 51, with Vince Gironda.  

Hoffman and others followed right on Blair's heels with protein shakes of their own, but where Blair's drink was a surprisingly modern and tasty milk and egg blend, the rest of the proteins on the market were foul tasting, man titty bestowing soy.  Nevertheless, everyone in the lifting scene started chugging shakes and swore up and down by them.  Everyone from legendary weightlifter Paul Anderson to bodybuilding phenom Don Howorth to super saiyan bodybuilding trainer Vince Gironda to Bruce motherfucking Lee were downing shakes like Japanese weirdos eating the ass cheeks off of Dutch students, and all of them credited the shakes with helping them pack on mass and build strength.

"We would mix the powder with heavy thick cream, half & half, throw some ice cubes in it, mix it so it was like a pudding and eat, not drink it. It was delicious. We would eat this throughout the day eating perhaps 4-5 servings per day.  The idea was to keep our bodies filled with protein all day long."
"Once I started [supplementing like this], I blew up. Gained tremendous size without gaining bulk. My waist stayed the same. This freaked me out. I still had good definition"
- Larry Scott, who used four pounds of Rheo Blair's protein every eight days while training for his 1966 Mr. Olympia win (Wayne).

No matter which powder was being being used, the consensus was that protein shakes should be calorie dense as a fucking neutron star and made with either store-bought half and half or (preferably) a homemade mix of half cream and half milk.  As Rheo H. Blair said himself, 
"The preferred liquid for mixing the protein is half-and-half, and for a good reason. Nature seems to indicate that protein and fat should be taken in even balance. Milk with 3% protein is balanced with an equal amount of fat. Likewise eggs, meat, etc."
"By mixing the protein [powder] with half whole milk and half heavy cream, we restore some of the fat removed during processing, and we achieve a product more normally balanced as to proportions of protein and fat … One may use the protein in pure cream, with no milk at all! (Blair).
That's about how appetizing I find low fat bodybuilding diets.

I'll admit that when I read this when coming up I was beyond dubious, having been raised in the fat-phobic 1980's and 1990's and weaned on bodybuilding mags touting the tired-ass and ultimately counter-productive chicken breast/broccoli/rice diet that was all the rage in those days.  As such, i used a small amount of skim milk and left a lot of gains on the table.  in the years when i was keto I left even more gains on the table by failing to sacrifice a little in the way of carbs for gaining the anabolic benefit of half and half, so I continued fucking up.  Now that I'm older and wiser, I'm using half and half and 2% in my shakes and growing like never before.  I'm generally loathe to give this kind of personal anecdote because for some reason I think that it diminishes my academic credentials in ways that apparently hardcore porn and gore don't (it's logical if you're a borderline sociopath).  And if my personal experience is uncompelling, consider the following:

  • Lower fat diets are not nearly as anabolic as moderate to high fat diets because a reduction in dietary fat invariably leads to a decrease androstenedione, testosterone and free testosterone (Hämäläinen).
  • Increasing the dietary fat intake of athletes to 42% has a crazy effect on both your immune system and your exercise endurance.  You'll spend less time sick and a hell of a lot more time in the gym or pushing the sled, because it "improves endurance exercise performance at 60-80% of VO2max in cyclists, soldiers, and runners" (Venkatraman).
  • Diets with insufficient fat and protein fully fuck strength athletes and heavy weight trainers, because that kind of diet destroys your serum T and free testosterone (Sallinen).

Finally, Vince Gironda himself had this to add:
"A word to those who do not understand cholesterol:  Exercise is the very best fat emulsifier known, because man still reacts to stress (which is the primary cause of cholesterol overproduction) as he did when in a primitive state. Cholesterol calls for action (Fight or Flight). Cholesterol prepares you in case of injury (stops bleeding if you are cut, or protects a rupture of veins).  Also, a little known fact is that the body manufactures more cholesterol that you can possibly eat. The body reduces cholesterol output - or produces more - depending on how much of it you ingest.  Fats and oils are fat emulsifiers themselves (lepotropics).  So, who started the misconception that fats and oils cause unnatural cholesterol levels?  As a matter of fact, if you study this problem you will find it is a substance known as tri-glyceride that is the culprit" (Gironda).
Actor Bill Smith was also put on to Rheo Blair's insanely effective shakes and became the Arnold before there was Arnold.

As to consuming them, Blair was surprisingly adamant that his protein shakes be sipped or slowly eaten as pudding- never, ever chugged.  This is an anathema to me- I would no sooner sip a protein shake than I would a shot of tequila.  The entire idea seems weirdly perverse, yet guys in the 60's and 70's swore up and down that this method was the way to go.
"The way you get this protein mixture into the stomach is important. Mistakes at this point can spell disappointing results. The protein drink is never to be gulped. It is to be sipped slowly. Some persons should take at least 30 minutes to get the glassful swallowed. 
The same goes for milk, which ought always to be sipped slowly, taking fifteen minutes to sip a glassful. To make it easier, use a straw and pinch the end together. This puts milk into the stomach at the same rate a baby does, and that is the best way. 
Now, we don't suggest sitting and looking at the drink for thirty minutes! Sip it slowly while you keep busy at other things like getting ready in the morning, working, studying, working out, etc. 
You might do as Don Howorth does. First thing in the morning he would mix or pour the protein drink and start sipping. Then he'd shower and sip some more. After shaving, some more. After thirty minutes or so he's ready to sip the last and start the day's work. 
This slow sipping is important. Many people I meet do not have the ability to digest foods as efficiently or to metabolize them as readily as they should. Putting foods into the stomach slowly helps to handle them more efficiently" (Blair).
It likely won't come as a shock that of the 1973 Gold's Gym competitors, Arnold, Franco, Ken Waller, and Ric Drasin were all huge proponents of Rheo Blair's supplements and methods.

Having explained the whys and the wherefores of these badass bulking shakes, here are a couple of old school recipes you can use to pack on some mass and start moving some weight.

Blair's Creamy Delicious
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 3 scoops of protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs (drop in boiling water 30 seconds)

Blair's Light Creamy
  • 1 cup half and half (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 scoops of protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Blair's Yogurt Delight
  • 3 scoops of protein powder
  • 3 ounces half and half
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 12 ounces of 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Blair's California Coconut Delight
  • 3 scoops of protein powder
  • 4 ounces of light cream
  • 12 ounces of 2% lowfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut extract
  • 1 egg boiled for 30 seconds

Blair suggested that you "freeze these recipes in an ice cream freezer or divide into individual portions in cups and place in the freezer. Before eating thaw the ice cream slightly. You can also use different extracts like almond, black walnut and others. You can also try using fruit like strawberries, peaches, pineapple. For juices you may add some carrot juice" (Blair).  the key, however, was to consume them slowly, which I doubt many of us have ever tried.

Vince Gironda's Hormone Precursor Shake

Vince recommended having three of these a day, so you can rest assured no one was going hungry on his diet.  The first shake served as breakfast, then the other two were sipped on during lunch and in the evening.
  • 12oz half and half (milk consisting of light and heavy cream)
  • 12 raw eggs
  • 3 scoops of protein powder
  • 1 banana (for taste, can be omitted if strict low carb)

Bob Hoffman's Hi-Proteen Shake

Hoffman seems not to have given specific recommendations for his soy protein powder (Hi-Proteen), but he did make a list of "some of the foods that mix together well as a milk shake" (Hoffman 114).  His protein apparently tasted like pureed, burnt dog assholes (and his later release of fish protein powder was apparently even worse) no matter which of five flavors you used, so I would guess that this recipe was as much to mask the horrific taste of soy as it was to provide nutrition.  In any event, the US Olympic weightlifting team at the time served as his test subjects and as some of the biggest consumers of the stuff, and they were fucking beasts, so it must've had some positive effect.  Because he failed to provide any portion control, I'm just kind of winging it with the recipe- the ingredients are his, but I filled in the blanks on the amounts.  If anyone's got an actual full-blown recipe, hit me up.
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tbsp peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
  • 1 banana 
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • (optional) quarter brick of chocolate ice cream

McCallum's Get Big Drink

While Bob Hoffman was the 20th Century's predecessor of the modern day giant-behind-the-keyboard who populates electronic dumpster fires like 4Chan, believing he was far more capable and impressive than he was and telling everyone stories that might s well have been printed in cowshit on used toilet paper, he had nothing but the highest praise for John McCallum's "Get Big Drink."  Hoffman included it in a hell of a lot of articles and recommended that all of his athletes at York use it, which is insanely high praise. 
  • 6-8 scoops of protein 
  • 2 quarts of whole milk 
  • 2 cups of dry skim milk 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter 
  • Half a brick (.875 quarts or 462 grams) of chocolate ice cream 
  • 1 small banana 
  • 4 tablespoons malted milk powder 
  • 6 tablespoons of corn syrup

So there you have it- all of the nutritional WMDs a growing boy or girl could need to smash through plateaus and pack on mass like you're Christian Bale after The Machinist.  If you decide to pass on these because you're afraid of getting fat, just know I'll be there to verbally bitch slap you when you come whining about how you're gonna reset to the bar because of butt wink and some other stupid bullshit and the internet supports your decision to remain weak but you want to send me form check videos anyway.  Don't involve me in that bullshit- just stop being a fucking pussy, eat up, and move weights.

Life's too short to be small, and it's far too short to be weak.  

To that end, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Chaos and Pain's badass whey blend Cannibal Kraken is now available in five sick-ass flavors (including shit like Pumpkinhead Latte and Honey Graham Reaper) and because I'd rather lose money than have to watch one more fucking form check video of some idiot squatting 135, I'm hooking you up with 25% off your entire order at checkout if you use the promo code Kraken25.  Snag some protein, bulk the fuck up, and smash weights.  

And if you're curious why our blend includes both concentrate and isolate, there's a damn good reason- whey isolate is lower in fat and carbohydrate and higher in protein than concentrate, which leads to a far cleaner nutrient profile and the impression that it's superior to concentrate, but whey concentrate is jammed with a variety of awesome things isolate lacks. For instance, whey concentrate contains much higher levels of IGF-1, TGF-1, and TGF-2, all of which aid aid in hypertrophy and strength, in addition to much more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), immunoglobulins, and lactoferrin, leading to faster body recomposition.

Catanzaro, John Paul.  The protein pioneer: lessons from a Golden-age guru.  Bodybuilding.com.  27 Aug 2013.  Web.  30 Jun 2018.  https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-protein-pioneer-lessons-from-a-golden-age-nutritional-guru.html

Gironda, Vince.  How to use and prepare protein for muscle size.  Reprinted from IronMan Magazine, 1976 Mar 35(3).  IronGuru.  Web.  2 Jul 2018.  http://www.ironguru.com/how-to-use-and-prepare-protein-for-muscle-size

Hall DT, Fair JD.  The pioneers of protein.  Iron Game History.  2004 May/Jun 8(3):23-33.

Hämäläinen E, Adlercreutz H, Puska P, Pietinen P.  Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men.  J Steroid Biochem. 1984 Jan;20(1):459-64.

Hoffman, Bob.  Better Nutrition.  York: Strength and Health Publishing Co., 1953.

McCallum, J.  The high protein diet.  1997 Mar 4(4):86-90.
McCallum, John.  Keys To Progress.  Nevada City: IronMind, 1993.

Poliquin, Charles.  Weight gaining on a budget.  Max Muscle.  21 Aug 2008.  Web.  30 Jun 2018.  https://www.maxmuscle.com/article/2008/8/gaining-weight-on-a-budget.html

Rheo Blair Protein-How to mix the protein drink.  Iron Guru.  Web.  30 Jun 2018.  http://www.ironguru.com/rheo-blair-protein-how-to-mix-the-protein-drink

Rheo H Blair's Protein Recipes.  Iron Guru.  Web.
 30 Jun 2018.  http://www.ironguru.com/rheo-h-blairs-protein-recipes

Sallinen J, Pakarinen A, Ahtiainen J, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, Häkkinen K.Relationship between diet and serum anabolic hormone responses to heavy-resistance exercise in men.  Int J Sports Med. 2004 Nov;25(8):627-33.

Venkatraman JT, Leddy J, Pendergast D.  Dietary fats and immune status in athletes: clinical implications.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Jul;32(7 Suppl):S389-95.

Wayne, Rick.  Muscle Wars: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of Competitive Bodybuilding.  New York: St. martin's Press, 1985.