When to Scrap Your Program

Quite a bit of my content has been programming related. I’ve tried to break down the mystery of effective strength programming by taking apart popular programs and seeing how they work and then comparing them to others to see what they have in common. I emphasize this in my contents so much because it’s important shirt but also because I struggled with his so much in the early days of my training. So as far as topic goes it has kind of a special place in my brain.

 Programs aren’t the end-all-be-all, however, and this is something that I haven’t made much mention of in the last few years. The biggest asset that programming can give you is the ability to prepare for performance on a specific deadline. So for any athlete any lifter or even people who are just concerned with strength in general knowing how and when to structure your heart efforts is going to make sure that you can train sustainably to continuously increase performance.

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Not All Grip is Created Equal

This is the Whiteboard for my newest YouTube video on grip strength.  In it, I scratch the surface as to the different types of grip strength and what some of the most productive approaches to training them are.

The human hand is much more diverse and complex than we often give it credit for and that means that lifters have a huge opportunity to specialize in individual aspects of grip strength. But it also means that not every grip related activity might carry over to your sport the way you think. The needs of an arm wrestler are going to vary from the needs of a competitive strongman. Both of those are going to be very different than the training of a martial artist or a rock climber.

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Getting Good at Things That Terrify You

THE FEAR, or general performance anxiety, can be a crippling experience to anyone who needs to perform. Performance, of course, isn’t just limited to athletes and entertainers. It can describe any number of day to day events that are seemingly easy enough for the rest of the world while being a major problem for you. Public speaking and social interactions are the most common and failure to gain some amount of confidence in these areas will effect everything in your life, from your ability to get a date to the likelihood of getting that raise you won’t ask for.

The important thing to know about FEAR is that it stems from one thing: the anticipation of pain. You will see this repeated in any self help book or seminar: the essence of fear, hesitation, procrastination are all part of some calculus by your brain to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. Physical pain and discomfort is especially relatable to lifters; how many of you have experienced sweaty palms and a turning stomach on the drive to the gym on leg day? Fear of failure and embarassment is also a powerful obstacle to performance, as these represent a psychological pain that is arguably more formidable than the physical kind.

The simple wisdom to getting over the fear so that you can execute reliably and with authority is to alter your associations. 

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Fullsterkur: Acheiving Full Strength in Any Gym

Boostcamp is a fantastic app that digitizes a lot of the free strength programs that you seen around the internet. If it just provided these programsin one place, that by itself would make it a pretty useful tool. But the fact that you can punch in your numbers into your phone and have the often complex percentage-based programs auto-populate with appropriate weights makes it a pretty invaluable resource.

 I know what it’s like to take something like a Sheiko template (which requires calculating dozens of percentages for each work out and doesn’t progress in a very intuitive or comprehensive way) and try to hand write it into a notebook. It’s a giant pain in the ass.

 I was happy to partner with Boostcamp and put up some of my programs for free, but we also saw an opportunity to do something new. Michael Liu, co-founder of the company, had the great idea of putting together a program that was tailored towards strongman. It’s a popular sport and a unique style of training but people are heavily limited in their ability to participate by their access to equipment. 

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7 Ways to Work Around and Prevent Pain While Benching

Benching has always been one of my least favorite exercises, which is why I had such a hard time admitting that it was actually necessary for getting strong. For the longest time I had convinced myself that it was a stupid lift, mainly by relying on some vague point about it not being ‘functional’ enough.

Truth is, I was bad at benching and didn’t especially like the way it made my shoulders and elbows feel. Creating the narrative that benching was actually ‘bad’ was an easy way to absolve myself of any responsibility to figure out the lift WHILE feeding my elitist sensibilities (I really enjoyed looking down my nose at the common bench-pressing plebs as I bogarted the squat rack for 90 minutes of overhead pressing).

“You’re never going to be lying on your back in real life!!”

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Rowing for Size, Strength and Symmetry

A strong back is it just beneficial; it’s necessary. 

Click HERE for the slides to this video, a sample back workout AND my mass program, Bullmastiff, entirely free!

Thick traps and wide lats are essential to supporting big squats, presses and deadlifts. Keeping the spine rigid and close to a neutral position under competitive weights is no easy task and  slacking on upper back development is a  way to ensure that your back is the first thing to go.

A developed back is also a cornerstone of aesthetics. Sure, part of that is because symmetry is important: you should want your back to be at least as well developed as your shoulders. arms and pecs. But even by itself, really noticable upper back development stands out because it is a sign that you’re good at moving things and hard to move yourself. It’s one of the quickest signals to everybody else that you are physically capable and not to be trifled with.

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Complete Breakdown of “Bullmastiff” (Plus Free PDF of the Program)

Two years ago I released my first book, “Base Strength” which included 10 prefabricated programs at the end. I never meant for these programs to be ran as written or to be done in sequence of some kind of bucket list of training programs (though I knew they would). Rather, they were specifically meant to be examples of the concepts that I’d spent the early part of the book fleshing out.

 The fact is there are a lot of viable ways to train that involve different frequencies, exercise selections, set and rep schemes and so on and I wanted to give the reader plenty of opportunity to see how these same principles pop-up in differently structured programs.

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The Problem With Being a Fast Gainer (and the Superpower of Slow Gainers)

 Choosing an appropriate training split requires knowledge of your own recovery abilities and training tolerance. It can be kind of tricky to get that down as starting out in weight lifting usually involves just copying what other, more successful lifters are doing. In the beginning, everybody grows and it’s not until you’ve been around for a while that you recognize that the same old thing doesn’t work or that what will work really well for somebody else may not provide satisfactory results for you.

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Comparing Training Splits

Download the slides for this video here.

  1. The Bro Split (one muscle each day)
  2. One Lift per Day (squat/bench/deadlift/overhead)
  3. Push Pull Legs (bench/ohp, row, squat/deadlift)
  4. Upper Lower Upper Lower (bench/ohp, sq/dl, bench/oh, sq/dl)
  5. Whole Body (sq/bp/dl every day)

These are just 5 of the endless options you have for training organization. It can be mind numbing to look at all of the (seemingly arbitrary) ways to put together a workout and the result is paralysis by analysis.

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How to Spot Bull Sh*t: Charlatans in the Strength Training Industry

I did a video last year covering charlatans in the lifting/performance/fitness industry. My main focus was Joel Seedman, somebody who’s gained quite a bit of notoriety by  peppering his Instagram with videos of his clients doing ridiculously complex exercises. Seedman is known for gems like “ squatting to 90 degree knee angle is superior to squatting to depth” and likes  to insist on his very carefully branded method of training, which primarily consists of training  conflicting movement patterns within the same exercise and often in a massively destabilized  setting.  Do a curl with one arm and a press with the other, stand in a split squat, control the eccentric and try to resist external band tension pulling you out of position. Seriously, that’s an exercise.

 Now, in his case it’s one thing to argue the efficacy of any one movement. Of course A movement can’t be evaluated until you have a specific goal to apply it against; NFL players, for instance. Seedman often uses Pro players to prop up his methodologies, which is a compelling sales tactic. Understand that these athletes need to be strong but also fast, reactive and coordinated more so than they need to be big. So it stands to reason that standard hypertrophy work is going to be a smaller piece of the puzzle than things that might lend themselves to sports specific performance. You wouldn’t evaluate a program for an NFL player the same way you would a powerlifting or general fitness program for the average Joe.

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