I routinely find myself engaging in self-reflection, where I’m teetering between my rigid views on best principles and my desire to enforce them … and the realization that I might just be the guy sticking my finger in everyone’s Snack Pak.
That’s never more evident than when I’m watching popular lifting channels where the feature of the day is some mode of lifting that I think is trendy, overhyped click bait at best and a counterproductive or outright dangerous influence to it’s viewers at worst.
Take Juji, Boogez and Szat.
3 guys who are as popular as they are jacked, obvious veterans to the barbell and who likely have a ton of experience-driven wisdom to pass on to their viewers.
But then they do some crazy, “hey look at me” shit that’s useless to the viewer at best and a dangerous influence at worst.
KONG is up live on Boostcamp and the 115 page ebook is LIVE here!
This tier list is dedicated to all things spinal. Inspired by the odd-lift rant I went on yesterday, I began to think a lot about risk vs. reward. If it wasn’t for the low back being such a tempermental, irritable shrew of a body part, none of this discussion would need to take place. So how do we get the low back just stupid, cock strong?
Well, I have a tier list for that. Let’s indulge.
Pros – accessible, relatively easy to master, connects with competition, fun to do!, actually gets the back and supporting structures really f—ing strong
Cons – while not ‘technical’ technique matters (bracing and stability more than posture), difficult to recover from when you get good, makes programming a bitch, is a cause of a lot of the injuries to the low-back
The Verdict – I give deads a solid A-tier rating. As much shit as I’ve given BBM for their insistance that rounding doesn’t matter and their fixation on never committing the mortal sin of nociception, which will scare off droves of young, skiddish lifters like so many baby deer….. I agree with most of their points. The population that deadlifts, I believe, will be a healthier and more capable one. Just try to do it while keeping your stomach more rigid than day-old tres leches.
I put off reviewing Nsuns for years despite numerous requests because it looked…. daunting. It claimed to be inspired by 5 3 1, but the program had long runs of varied reps that seemed disconnected from each other, with set and rep schemes that were needlessly jumbled.
In scrolling down the Boostcamp app (check em out here for FREE access to Kong and Bullmastiff!) I saw how popular the Nsuns program was; there were more people running that than any other program on the platform! So, I decided to suck it up and do a thorough review.
The first website I came across summarizing the program began as such:
“Nsuns is a program inspired by 5 3 1 and Sheiko.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!”
A strong back is it just beneficial; it’s necessary.
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.
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.