Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Getting Shit Done

Okay, so you wanna get those gains huh... That’s fair, we all want those gains.  Wanna look tough, strong, dare I say… manly.  I get you boy. But ain’t nothing gonna make you look like a strong son of a bitch without actually being a strong son of a bitch.

You get me?
 … Let’s do this.

First thing is first; ditch the damn machines as much as humanly possible.  They look flashy as hell and it is nice to look down and see “hell yeah 100 lbs. leg extension” But ain’t nothing doing.  The hell good is a 100 lbs. extension?  Seriously… how is that going to be of any use to you what so ever? Also, machines isolate, which sounds grand, but what we need to do is get you to be actually strong all over, not just look strong.  Feel me?

So, we have to look at what exercises are going to make you strong.  That is simple: Compound Lifts. You need to focus on five very basic moves, and master them.
These are: Squat, Deadlift, Press, Row,  and Overhead Press.
All of these have one thing in common, they all make use of multiple muscle groups during the action.

For example:  Overhead Press.  You use many areas of the upper body to get that son of a bitch up there. No doubt.  Anterior and Lateral Deltoid, Clavicle Pec, Traps, Triceps. So, in that one move you are engaging four distinct muscle groups.  You’re not going to be able to push a lot up at first, but with time you’ll get it up there. 

Me? I’m aiming to eventually be capable of putting my own body weight above my head.  That’s called a target. Something definite that I can work towards, you have to have these, else, you will falter, and slow your progress.  Or worse, stall.  (gasp)

So when we are doing these moves we want focus on proper form, not weight, that comes with time. The basic moves, as I’ve stated, rope in multiple groups and thereby add to your overall strength. Which will, of course, result in physical changes… also known as GAINS!!!!

                So, strength training, and I say training with a very definite emphasis, is what we are talking about.  I don't workout, I train with the deliberate goal of getting strong.  I really don't care how it I am looking I care, primarily, about performance. My theory is; if you are strong, you’ll look strong.

So here is what I do
Session A:
Bench – 5x5
Squat – 5x5
Row – 5x5
You’ll note that the two upper body workouts are a pushing and a pulling combo, this is on purpose.  I used to do, Squat, bench, and then row; but I found I was gassing out on the row because I moved a lot of weight right before on the bench so I was losing out.  Once I made the move to squat in the middle I was having a better go at the Row.
Session B:
Squat – 5x5
Overhead Press – 5x5
Deadlift – 1x5
This is mainly a lower body session.  The volume does not look terribly high on this but remember that your lower body is able to carry more load that your upper body, so your weight is going to be higher.  You’ll note that I have squatting in both sessions, again by design.  Squatting is one of those moves that really affects the whole body if done properly.  It feels weird at first but over time you feel your stability improve over all of the other movements because of it.
You’ll see that there are zero isolation moves. This because you hit a little bit of everything on each of the Sessions.  If you want to add in touch up moves (curls, tri pulldowns... etc.) you can, but you don’t have to.
Now, you see that there is not a whole lot of reps in here. 25 reps max per movement.  You are going to be adding progressive weight to the bar over time, so what you are aiming for is a weight in the 60 – 70 % of what you think you can max at.  Don’t ask me about that, I’ve not gone for a one rep max, don’t care to.  I need to know I can move this weight.

Weight Loads:
Starting off I would begin with something I knew I could handle.  3 sets of 5 reps building up to what would be my “working weight” for that session.  I felt zero compunction about it looking light to start.
When I set up for bench I started with one rep of 5 at just the bar (45lbs.) the I would add a ten to each side (+20lbs.) one more set of five reps, then two more tens (+20lbs again). So, now in my warm up I had gone from 45lbs. to 85lbs. Not bad. Now I was going to go to my working weight. I honestly didn’t know what I would be working at so I guessed (not perfect).  I pulled the tens off and tossed on two 35lbs plates, so my working weight was at 115 lbs. I went ahead and did my 5x5 and felt that, yes, I could have done more. So the next time I went for the bench I upped the weight to two 45lbs plates, bringing me to 135lbs.  That felt right.  I was able to finish, but it was challenging.

The next thing we need to talk about is progression.  This is by no means a fast process. At all. Once I’d taken a week to figure out my working loads I was ready to get after it though. The following week I stayed right at the working loads I had established the week before, for now I was zeroed in.  The week after that though is when I would begin adding weight to the bar.  Not a lot. 5lbs. that is all, two 2.5lbs, one on each side. I know that doesn’t sound like much but it adds up fast. Really fast.
So week one was officially the week after baseline week. Bench at 135lbs. again, challenging but doable. Week two saw me add 5lbs. so now my lift was at 140lbs. still challenging, but doable.  Week three saw another 5lbs.. 145lbs now, week four +5lbs. more, now 150. So, over the course of a month I had added 15lbs to my base line load. Not bad.
“But wait,” I hear you mumble, “that can’t go on forever.” You are 100% correct, it can’t. About week seven I missed a rep, just could not get the bar back up.  That was a failure. It showed me where my limit was.  So, I repeated that weight the following week (week 8), I was able to finish all of the reps that time. So week nine saw another +5lbs. made through no issues. Week ten, another fail. I was now in my strength range. I repeated the week nine weight the next session and was able to finish again.  Week eleven, same weight as week 9, week 12, +5lbs and completed all of the reps. So now, in the course of twelve weeks I’d added +50lbs to my bench.  Not bad at all.

As of late, I am now floating my working weight between 225lbs to 240lbs.  Benn there for about a month and a half. I have good weeks and bad weeks, but the important thing is, it's forward progress.

So that is the long and short of the weight lifting ideas that I have been playing over the last year or so. Lift heavy, lift slow and focus on the compound movements. This will generate muscle growth which will in turn elevate your base metabolic rate. Combine that with a sensible eating plan and you will get those gains.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bumps in the Road

So it happens, you're chugging along at a steady pace, clearly set on the road to success, when out of nowhere, you hit a snag.  It's always something silly too, something that you should have seen coming but somehow missed it.  Was it in the goal setting stage? The planning stage?  One thing is certain though, you feel like an absolute dork for not seeing it on the horizon.

Don't stress, it happens to all of us. The trick is, of course, how you respond. There are a lot of people say that you can either pick yourself up and move on or let the hiccup define you.  While this is a truism, in my experience the people that have uttered these words are coming from one of two camps.  You either can crumple into a ball of self loathing, allowing the mistake to grind down your resolve, or you drop it and move on.

I don't much care for this way of thinking.  It does not allow for the, required, self reflection that needs to be done.  It also assumes that getting down is a bad thing.

I speak from experience when I say that the black dog at your doorstep is just as important as the exulted feelings you get from a great success.  It's a tricky thing, finding that the down feelings are, in fact, a good thing. 

I'm a firm believer that the modern obsession with always being upbeat and positive is a wholly new development in the culture.  The pervaisive thought element that says "everything is going to be great" confounds me.  Maybe it's my upbringing , or maybe it's the books I read, but I know that not everything will always be alright.  You'll have failures. You'll have wins. But being happy that the failure occured is a patently stupid thing to do. 

Losing should hurt. It tells you that you need to get better.  Don't deny those feelings, and for god sake don't try to dress it up as a win that you lost. Seriously. Don't. You are better thatn that.

Take your licks and move on. Definitely say "never gonna do that again". But then... Don't ever actually do that again. 

Take the bad, it happens, it defines you as much as any victory, sometimes more so.

And remember, from time to time, we all need a black dog, she may be a surly mean bitch, but she's your surly mean bitch. Work with it.

Keep buggering on.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Regressives

I Don't know where the idea came from but it seems that lately it is in vogue to excuse awful behavior. Somehow it has become the norm to ignore actual injustice, to abandon the principles one "holds dear".

All over the news, social media I have seen the pearl clutching masses have had their absolutely fabulaous party of throwing under under the bus.  And they all but orgasm all over their sheets when they are watching their compassion porn.

For the most part they are all for playing the victim, so long as it is the right kind of victim, attacked by the right kind of attacker. If you are, say, a white woman that lives in the west, you have to punch up for those that you think are below you in the social strata. If course, if you are a victim and attacked by a member of a lower special interest group... Well... Suck it up butter cup. They don't care.

This is beautifully put on display in regard to the most recent news out of Germany that mobs of Muslim men made it their evening sport to go out and get their collective rocks off, by sexually assaulting or raping women in the middle of Cologne. The media has been suspiciously quiet on this matter. If course, it would do no good to actually have the concerns of rational people confirmed about the actions of refugees in their midst. But the mass of the SJW world... Crickets. Because of course, they were Muslims and the victims were white women, and the Muslims rank lower in the oppression Olympics.

Now then, imagine if this had happened in say... Cleveland. 

If you think for a second that the same silence would be heard, well I have a bridge that you might be interested in.

The Left, had become so adept at bending over backwards to not be perceived in a "problematic" way, that they actually compromise on other core beliefs, solely for the purpose of not offending another group.

Far be it from me to say, but... I tend to think that the assault of multiple women is slightly more important a thing than to not hurt the feelings of some blue haired harpy, that might get mad and throw a tantrum all over tumblr. But... I'm also a little bit smarter than most of that ilk.

When a whole group of like minded people join hands in the same ideas, yet those very same ideas are not universally applied, any rational minded person, by rights, should look at the whole of the work of those people and, correctly, question the validity of those same thoughts.  Not to do so, is to allow the other bad ideas to flourish. 

These people are backwards. Of this fact I the little doubt. They do not, or will not, accept when they have shown their colours and I love calling them out on it. If for no other reason than to watch them thrash about in the squalid mess of their intellectual hog pen trying to figure a way to nail me. Never really works, because I can always respond with "but am I wrong?"

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Get a grip

So it is 2016... And what have you done?

What did you spend your 2015 doing?

What did you do to make you better?

Did you do anything to make you better, or did you spend the year telling people that they are terrible for not thinking the way you think?

I spent the last year on a mission to try and make myself a better person.  I decided a year ago that I was going to let people get along with their own lives and I would focus on me.  Little did I know that 2015 would be the year that society lost its collective mind.  While I was trying to understand the teachings of Aristotle and Aurelius, people were freaking out about hurt feelings. The term "cyber-bullying" became a thing.  I was aghast at this... it's pretty easy to not that get to you... turn off the computer, or if you really need to be online for social media, block the offender. On the internet you are under zero obligations to interact with other people for whatever reason.

But no, we ended up having one of the founding members of Feminine Frequency, testifying before the UN that people are not nice.  No shit people are not nice. They don't have to be, and when you have made your living by running crowdfunding to malign the people that you are saying are not being nice online, you really did kind of do it to yourself. Now, on that front, was it right for members of that same maligned group to go out of their way to actually threaten and dox the poor woman, by no means. But when you open a can of shit, one should be prepared for the offensive effluvia that will very definitely waft from the inside.  The fact that police and other authorities found no credible threats is interesting to say the least.

But I found the whole thing, sad, and quite boring actually.

What I did find very, VERY, entertaining this year is that apparently "The Man" is so omnipresent, so overt, that black college students have literally began stumping for segregation.

Let that set in, they have been so led a foul by the system of entitlement that they have decided that they need to have "safe spaces" that are in fact black only areas.  MLK is rolling over in his grave, and I'm fairly certain that Malcom X would have some serious dope smacks to hand out to the lot of them.

I mean really, think about, you are part of a country, that for the last fifty or so odd years has been trying its damnedest to fix the racial divide (notwithstanding the extreme fringe) that you have decided that there is still "institutional racism" that you demand to be re-segregated from the population.  Piece after piece after piece this last year came out and started demanding that we become post racial... when a large majority of the country is looking at the issue saying... um, we are trying really hard.  And what kills me... what absolutely kills me; is that even through all of the nonsense and name calling most people have tried to be polite about the matter.  The same way that we are nice to a child, because it's not nice to pick on children, they literally don't know any better yet.  But there is always a point hat is reached where the child starts throwing a tantrum.  That's is when the "hard talk" starts.

I hazard to guess, that had there been harder talks with these emotionally stunted adults when they actually were children, we would not be having the mass college sized tantrums that we saw this year.  Hell, I have that talk with my daughter all the time.

Daughter: I didn't win! *stamps foot
Me: You can't win all the time, can you?
Daughter: No *adorably kick nonexistent rocks

Boom. Problem solved, problem staying solved. I of course have to do this a great many times, because... well she's four. In 15 years though, she will have gotten this talk, and many others, so many times that it will be in there. And she won't feel personally offended that someone else won a thing and she did not.  That is called being an adult.

So while I was worrying about becoming a better man and father, society decided that it was easier, or more fun to be children, or so it would seem. I don't know.  The real question is, did you take part in this?  Were you one of the blue haired harpies, screeching on and on about wage gap and perpetual sexual consent?  Did you get up in arms about the latest race bait? Are you now or have you ever demanded that there need be a space that you can be safe from the scary opinions of others?  or did you, for a moment even, Think that the way to act as an adult was to shout down or try and metaphorically tar and feather a person for saying something off colour?

If you did, you are part of the problem of 2015. 

I intend to be part of the solution in 2016.  I refuse to accept that my fellow people are so idiotic as to be hustled into a mindset that people should not be free to speak their minds completely, or that an artist not paint a tit.  I will not accept anyone trying to "shut them down" of an author that says or writes something inflammatory, as a matter of fact I will stump all the harder. This will not be reserved to those that I agree with, but for everyone.  You have a god given right to say fuck head retarded things, and people have that same right to call you out on it.  If you're right, fine, you're right.  But no more will I listen to anecdotal argument of "this poor person" or whatever.  Facts and data are the order of the day, not feelings and reactions.

Seriously, get a grip. 

You are the product of 4 billion years of evolution, fucking act like it!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Getting started

Where to begin?

A regular enough question.  One that is asked regularly.  I always feel a little weird when asked. Because , honestly, I'm not in the greatest shape. I know guys, and girls, that are killling it on a way higher level than I am. So I sometimes feel a little awkward in these moments.

Just to be clear, if you have asked me, and I seemed standoffish it's because I'm uncertain I am the right person to be asking. But I do feel humbled that you asked.

Now then, to the question at hand: where to start?

Go for a walk.

That's all. Doesn't have to be complex. Through on the shoes and venture out.  You don't have to have some grand design, or meticulously crafted calorie intake to outtake formula.

Just go for a walk.

If you are not a regularly active person, this is the best way to go out and move.  Going for a walk is easy. There is no fancy equipment you need. No complex plan. And.... It's totally free. Ah yissss.... Free... Mmmm free.

A walk does a few things for you. First off it gives you a chance to have a moment of quiet, rare enough these days. Second it feels good. Third it is the easiest way to let you body know that things are changing.

Weight lifting is wonderful, but it puts a ton of stress , good stress, on you nervous system. But, if you not already acctive, it could be too much. Also, going from 0 to 60 without letting the engine warm up is a recipe for disaster.  Going for a walk let's you just move with out strain.

I found that getting started, most of my hiccups stemmed directly from the fact that I tried to much too early.  So I would get frustrated, and down on myself because I wasn't "sticking to the plan". So I would miss a work out here and one there.... Sometimes a whole week would burn up in my ennui.

A plan is good, but getting fit has to become a habit, and anyone who has had to change a habit knows that it's all about baby steps. Getting in shape is a habit of being active, just as much as being unfit is a result of the the habit of sitting on one's duff.

So, you have to take the time to make that new activity a habit.  A month... It is generally accepted that it takes a month to break or create a habit. So pick a time each day and just go for a walk. You'll be surprised how easy it is. After a month... Add something. But for that first month, just do twenty minutes,  ten out, ten back. Get to a point that you can carry a conversation, but feel a good rate moving.

It's really that easy getting started, just go for a walk.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


So last time we talked it was about the basics of "you can do it"

Let's go ahead and keep on that path and start looking at the how.

First thing is first. I talked about how the change in eating was , and still is, the trickiest part of the process.  Always will be.

You can run millions of miles, hoist ton after ton of weights, but with a bad intake of food, you'll get absolutely nowhere. Bad diet means bad shape. That's the long and short of the matter. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect about it. No one is. I love donuts, milkshakes and chocolate. Oh, and French fires... mmmm french fries.

To be honest, on a whole most of us eat like junk. We know how to eat right but we generally don't.  And why? I hear you ask , because eating right is hard, as well as boring.

But, as AA has taught so many, admitting your problem is the first step to overcoming it.  I love junk food. Of all the food types it is my favorite. Of course, my love of junk food will also lead to an early grave by way of my heart trying to explode outta my chest.

The trick is, how do we mix our love of fries against our, understandable, love of life.  In all things moderation is key. 

We've all had the day after way too many buffalo wings, beer, and the like. We all know exactly how we felt. Junky.

Then again we've all had the day that we did it all right and go to bed easily.  I know which one I prefer.

There are a lot , A LOT , of snake oil diets out there but none of them really stand the test of time.  All proteins, no carbs, half gallon of celery juice.... You name it and some shiester has tied to peddle it.  Nothing in my life has done me better than, eat smart.  If you have to pour a whole meal out of a box and let it simmer until it congeals, it's most likely not a sound choice.

I try to stick to the "outside wall" theory when at the store. Stay out of the aisles as much as possible. For there is not but salt and preservatives in those lands. 

The grocery, meat.. dairy. These are the path to good eating. And you'll find that you actually get more food there for your buck than not. Seriously.

My wife is able to feed all four of us , heartily, for a little over a hundred bucks a week. Think about that. A week's worth of food for four people, the baby doesn't count , for 25$ a head. Because she stays outta the aisles. As a result we are all doing very good and I have few concerns about the nutrition we get.

So... Eat smart. Eat cheap. And from time to time... Get some fries.