Thursday, December 29, 2011

Greasing The Groove

I had a brief conversation with one of my athletes earlier this week, who was dismayed at their current inability to do large sets of strict pull ups. Rather than waste valuable hand energy by typing a long list of assistance exercises on the nautilus machines, I told her to do one thing: Grease the groove.

Like all great fitness regimens, greasing the groove originates in Russia, specifically from a Russian named Pavel Tsatsouline. Pavel was a former trainer for the Soviet Special Forces, and came up with a simple equation:
Specificity + Frequent Practice = Success.

I would make a note that frequent practice of correct technique is necessary for success, you can practice an incorrect movement frequently and strengthen the wrong neural pathways. This simple equation means one thing: to get better at a specific exercise you have practice it over and over and over again. The key with greasing the groove is to not train to failure.  Let's use pullups as an example. If you can do a max set of 10 pullups, then don't do sets of 10 pullups. Instead, do sets of 5-8 pullups, 4-5 times a day. You can do this with any bodyweight exercise throughout the day. For instance: when your computer is booting up, when the shower water is heating, or when you are cooking a dozen eggs.

Below is the manifesto for Greasing the Groove, written by Pavel himself.

1. Intensity 

The science of motor learning explains that an extreme, all out movement is operated by a program different from that used for the identical task performed at a moderate intensity. As far as your nervous system is concerned, throwing a football for maximum distance is a totally different ball game than passing it ten yards, no pun intended. According to Russian scientist Matveyev (yeah, the chap who invented periodization), you must train with at least 80% 1RM weights if you intend to make a noticeable impact on your max. According to Prof. Verkhoshansky, another mad scientist from the Empire of Evil, for elite athletes this minimal load is even higher--85% 1RM. Yet many comrades will be very successful greasing the groove with 60-80% weights as long they emphasize the competitive technique--high tension, Power Breathing, etc. Naturally, if you are training for strength endurance rather than absolute strength, you should train with lighter loads. To meet the Soviet Special Forces pull-up standard of eighteen consecutive dead hang reps stick to your bodyweight plus heavy regulation boots. It is critical for the program's success that you avoid muscle failure as aerobic classes and rice cakes. Do not come even close to failure, whether you train for max or repetitions! A triple with a five-rep max or ten pull-ups if twenty is your PR will do the trick. The secret to this workout is performing a lot of work with reasonably heavy weights. Pushing to exhaustion will burn out your neuromuscular system and force you to cut back on the weights or tonnage.

Columbo: Greased up while greasing the groove.
2. Repetitions
According to former world weight lifting champion Prof. Arkady Vorobyev, one to six reps are optimal for training of high caliber weightlifters and increasing this number hinders strength development. Or, as Luke Iams put it, "Anything over six reps is bodybuilding." Do more reps, and your body will think that you are practicing a totally different lift. Dr. Biasiotto who once squatted an unreal 605 @ 130 has switched to bodybuilding and knocks off 325x25 these days. His legs are no longer 'a pair of pliers in shorts' as they used to be in his days of heavy triples and world records, but he would be the first one to tell you that there is no way he could put up a massive single training this way. Of course, for bodyweight pull-ups, push-ups, and other commando feats of staying power you will need to bump up the reps to satisfy the law of specificity. Roger Antonson worked up to training sets of nine by the time he set a personal record of twenty chin-ups.

3. Volume

Vitaly Regulyan, one of the top Russian benchers, does fifty to seventy heavy sets per lift! What are YOU waiting for? A permission from Mike Mentzer? Up the volume! 'High volume' does NOT mean a lot of reps with Barbie weights. Such training is good or nothing but a muscle pumper's virtual muscle. Do I sound like Anthony Dittillo? -Good, the man is right, give him a cigar! 'High volume' on the synaptic facilitation power plan means maximizing your weekly tonnage with heavy weights. 'Tonnage' -or 'poundage' if you are not up on the metric system--refers to the total weight lifted in a given period of time, for example a day, a week, a mesocycle. Say your best deadlift is 500x1 and last week you did the following pulls: 400x5/20, 450x2/50. Here is how to calculate your weekly deadlift poundage: (400x5x20) + (450x2x50) = 85,000. As this number grows, so will your strength, at least up to a point. Make sure that volume does not come at the expense of intensity. Average intensity is calculated by dividing the poundage by the total number of lifts: 85,000 : 200 = 425 pounds. Intensity can be expressed in pounds or % 1RM. In the above example 425 pounds is 82,5% of 500 pounds one rep max; the intensity is on the money. The strong man must make an effort to gradually build up both the volume and the intensity while making sure his body can handle the load and does not overtrain. Trite as it sounds, listen to your body.

Remember: Volume!
4. Frequency 

Prof. Vladimir Zatsiorsky, a Soviet strength expert who jump shipped from the Dark Side of the Force to America, summed up effective strength building as training as often as possible while being as fresh as possible. An eighties study by Gillam found that increasing training frequency up to five days a week improved the results in the bench press, something big Jim Williams knew a decade earlier when he benched in the neighbourhood of 700. Ditto for Dr. Judd. Before Biasiotto took up benching in the midst of his kitchen appliances, he had worked out in his training partner's spider web insulated and rat infested garage where he benched five times a week for fifteen heavy sets within an hour. That brutally efficient routine boosted skinny Judd's bench from 140 to 295 pounds in nine months! Russian strength researchers discovered that fragmentation of the training volume into smaller units is very effective for promoting strength adaptation, especially in the nervous system. In other words, one set of five every day is better than five sets of five every five days. It is even better if you chop up your daily workload into multiple sessions. Motor learning comrades know that while the total number of trials is important, the frequency of practice is even more critical than the total volume. Paul Anderson had it all figured out when he supersetted heavy triples in the squat with gallons of milk throughout the day. If you can swing it -all the power to you, people! 

5. Exercise selection 

Concentrate your gains on the snatch and the C&J, SQ-BP-DL, or any other few select lifts and forget assistance work! The synaptic facilitation approach is very powerful because it greases the specific groove of your pet feat. Additional exercises will just distract you from your purpose. I plan to expand on the cloudy issue of specificity of strength in a future article. For now, be a good Communist and show some blind faith!
The synaptic facilitation power plan can be summed up as lifting heavy weights as often as possible while staying 'fresh as a cucumber' (Russkies have a thing against daisies, you wouldn't understand). Contrary to what some snobby pantywaists believe, this heavy, high volume approach is not an iron fossil but one of the most scientific approaches to strength training there is. "Chain yourself to the squat rack and call me in a year." Words to live by.

Excerpts in this article were first published in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes under the heading "Chain Yourself to the Squat Rack and Call Me in a Year." Grease the Groove for Strength by Pavel Tsatsouline, Master of Sports

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Gluten-Free" As a Marketing Tool

Much like the fat-free craze that began in the 80's, gluten-free has permeated all levels of the food industry. And just like the fat-free craze, it is touted as having benefits ranging from a cure for depression to fat loss. It is the latest marketing buzz word (or phrase in this case) that is stamped on everything from lip balm and coffee, to hamburger buns and chicken noodle soup. 


Currently a $2.6 billion dollar industry in 2010, it is expected to reach $5 billion by 2015.

That is exactly what gluten-free is: an industry. It may have started as the only viable way to treat Celiac disease, but it has turned into the latest tool to convince consumers that they will lose weight by eating gluten-free foods. For those who are not allergic/intolerant to gluten, it's simply another way to make you feel better about foods you shouldn't be eating. Gluten-free pasta doesn't miraculously turn into a healthy meal, instead it has become a bowl of rice and potato noodles that is even more processed than the original pasta, along with a price tag that can be as much as 200% of the original price.

Food products are the main items where the "gluten-free" stamp is placed. They are called food "products" because although they were once food, they have been so heavily processed, vitamin-fortified, and repackaged that they scarcely resemble the food in its original state.

Food manufacturers have also put the "gluten-free" stamp on food products that never previously contained gluten and then increased the price. In many instances the gluten is replaced with higher levels of sugar, so the trade-off isn't exactly beneficial, especially for those who don't suffer from celiac disease.

The majority of the time, "gluten-free" is code for processed junk that has been re-processed and packaged for the grocery store shelves. For those without Celiac, "gluten-free" is not a god-send that will cure your depression or help you lose 60 pounds. If you really want to try and fix these problems, get rid of the frozen meals and packaged food bars and start cooking your own meals from scratch. Anything that is sitting on a grocery store shelf has lost most of its original nutrients and has been replaced with  artificial ingredients whether it is gluten-free or not.

"Gourmet restaurant quality"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

414 Tire Flips With 400lb Tire For Charity

On a dare, I posted on Facebook that however many "LIKES" a status update received in 60 minutes, I would do 2 tire flips with a 400lb tire. The post received 207 Likes in 60 minutes, so I had to do 414 flips.

Various Facebook fans around the world pledged that they would donate money to their favorite charity for each flip I completed. Knowing that my traps, forearms and lower back were about to be fried, I suited up with RockTape to help support the movements of my muscles and decrease inflammation. I started off with a few sets of 20, but as I reach about 200 flips, my sets decreased to 14 or 15. After passing 260 and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I increased my sets to 30-35.

Halfway through the video I pulled down the blinds in the gym, that's why it looks darker. I also put on a sweatshirt half way through because my shoulders were giving me some pain from all the pressure of the tire.

Since I was in a Crossfit gym though. I was obliged to take my shirt off...I completed this after 3 hours and 7 minutes.

My post recovery meal was 2 burritos, 2 tacos, and 2 crispy burritos from Taco Time,  plus 1/4 gallon of milk: my standard meal.

This experiment was a success, and I am going to try a variation of it every month. I may challenge my readers to get involved as well by doing the experiments along with me and reporting their results. Would you participate? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Long Will You Hate Yourself?

My site has been getting a lot of traffic lately from, mostly due to my sweet hoodies. There are a few of my fellow lifters on the site, representing the LiftBigEatBig mentality, but after checking the site out I have to say I am pretty shocked at some of the posts--partly because I work with a lot of women whose goals are throwing a lot of weight on the bar, and feasting on a big steak afterwards, with little regard for the numbers on the scale.

It really disappoints me to see women caught in a cycle of hating themselves and their bodies, while simultaneously pronouncing freedom from society's oppression on their self image. I'm not pretending to know what it is like to be a woman by any means. I do know, however, that subscribing to magazines like Cosmo will only continue to teach you that you need to improve yourself and lose weight so you can please your mate.

The entire magazine is devoted to how YOU, as a woman, should change yourself so men will like you more. All this does is set you up for a life of inner self-loathing and a feeling of inadequacy. You may think that if you just "lose that last 5 pounds and then everything will be fine", but in reality, you will just move on to find something else about yourself that disgusts you.

Instead of devoting your life to visually pleasing another and focusing on your looks, instead try to build your abilities. For example, I don't want a rock hard 6-pack, and neither does my wife. We would both rather increase our strength as much as possible, and have the ability to teach others the same knowledge we possess. 

My wife and I.
Let's face it: your body type is your body type. Let's not waste time looking at pictures of people whose body type we wish to have, because you will never have their body type no matter how much you starve yourself or how many miles you run. Take your focus off of a weight goal that is not only unattainable, but extremely unhealthy. Yes there is such a thing as a healthy weight, but everyone remembers that muscle is more dense more than fat and if you are a solid 150 and look great, who cares what your weight is?

Do you really want to spend your entire life obsessed about your weight and despise what you see in the mirror? I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Cancel your subscription to Cosmo, toss the scale, grab a barbell and a t-bone and start lifting big.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

10 Excuses For Not Exercising & Why They Are Horsesh*t

Ahhh December. The month when everyone plans their New Year's resolutions that will last about 3 days. A lot of resolutions tend to focus on health-related issues, whether it's quitting smoking, losing weight, or going to the gym more.  People who drop their resolutions simply lack the mental cojones to see them through, and it isn't long before they whip the excuse book out of their back pocket. I have compiled a list of 10 excuses for avoiding exercise and why they are a crockpot of sh*t.

1. "The Govt. Says That 30 Mins of Walking, 3 Times a Week, is Sufficient Exercise"

You are going to take fitness advice from the same folks who say that tomato sauce is a "vegetable", soy is a good alternative to meat, and strawberry milk is fine for kids because they are getting calcium?

I didn't think so. And technically, a tomato is a fruit.

2. "I hear that ___ is bad, and I don't want to get injured"

You are absolutely right. Staying home and dicking around on the computer in this optimal position will keep you from getting injured.

3. "I Don't Have Enough Decent Equipment"

Nice try, if you can find some rocks and you can take off your shirt, that is all you need to start a gym.

4. "I Don't Have Enough Money For a Gym Membership"

But you have money to go to happy hour 4 times a week? If this looks like your Friday night, you could have used the money it took to get to this point for a gym membership.

5. "I Don't Have Enough Time To Exercise"

Busy with work, school, or kids? I can respect and understand that.  Still doesn't get you out of exercise though. You will never "have time" for exercise, you simply make time. Some of my best trainees are individuals who have hectic schedules. This means that they don't have time to waste in the gym. They get in, finish their training, and get out.  Become one of these people.

6. " I Have Gained Too Much Weight To Start Exercising Again"

Think you are the only person with a few extra inches on your waist? Not bloody likely.

7. "I Am Too Old To Start Exercising Now"

Tell that to this 79 year old gentleman. Thanks for the find, Gorilla.

8. "I Am Afraid That People Will Judge Me"

You think you are the only one facing a little adversity or judgement in the gym?

9. I Can't Find A Diet Plan That Works For Me"

If you are on a diet plan that recommends meals like this, then I think we have found the problem. Maybe you should stop worrying about diet plans and just eat actual food.

10. "I Hate Working Out Alone"

Locations of CF gyms in America
Hate working out alone? You are in luck. Maybe you have heard of this new thing called Crossfit? It's this new thing where people sweat in groups, it just so happens to be on every street corner and it has more locations that Starbucks (well not really, but close). Whether or not you like Crossfit, they still have more equipment or space than you can find in a regular gym.

Did you find yourself among any of these excuses? If so, I hope you are ashamed of yourself and from now on you can buck up and put in work like the rest of us. Make this the year that you stick to your resolution.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kinesthetic Awareness & Proprioception

Kinesthetic awareness is a necessity for Olympic lifts
Proprioception and kinesthetic awareness are two different terms that are often used interchangeably, but have two distinct meanings. However, it is absolutely imperative that a successful athlete has a high degree of both. This article will take a look at the differences of proprioception and kinesthetic awareness, and how they work together to keep you alive.


Put simply, proprioception is the body's sense of its parts and the relative location of its other body parts, and the amount of strength that is being exerted in movement. The central nervous system (CNS) is the broadcast powerhouse of the human body that receives sensory stimuli from the outside. When our CNS receives the impulse, it sends the appropriate instructions to our muscles and joints on how to react. The brain  also receives some messages that cause the body to react unconsciously (for example, rubbing your nose or running up stairs).

Gymnasts have unbelievable levels of both proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. This video has a lot of fancy graphics to show you just how impressive it is.

Kinesthetic Awareness

In simplest terms, kinesthetic awareness is the body's sense of its own relative position in space and time (no, I am not talking about time travel, calm down Stephen Hawking). Kinesthetic awareness gives your body the ability to coordinate motion and the ability to perform almost any activity. People can have different levels of natural kinesthetic awareness, and it is definitely a skill that can be lost with use.

This is why when someone is wasted off of butter beer, their coordination is so impaired. The alcohol has affected the CNS and their proprioception and kinesthetic awareness has been impaired.

Even if you are an accident-prone klutz, your skills can still be improved with exercise. Specifically exercise that challenges both your balance and equilibrium. Two forms of exercise with the ability to increase balance and equilibrium immediately come to mind: Olympic weightlifting & gymnastics.

It takes a high degree of these skills to be able to take a fully loaded bar off the ground, hit the triple extension, and land on the heels with bar overhead in a solid position.

Everyone's favorite Russian.
The same goes for Gymnastics, to be able to transfer from high bar to low bar and be in control of ones own body in the midst of a 720 degree turn is no small feat, to say the least.

Proprioception and kinesthetic awareness decrease after an injury--although, your brain will still have the skills stores, so it is easier to re-learn them. Even though your strength may come back easier, you will still need to spend time improving your proprioception and kinesthetic awareness so that you can fully recover.

Hopefully you learned something new. My proprioception has improved simply from typing "proprioception & kinesthetic awareness" multiple times in this article.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Muscle Memory

This photo is relevant.
Muscle memory is one of those terms that is thrown around a lot, but it is not really understood; it has been butchered on TV shows and used in the same sentences as muscle confusion. The problem with the term "memory" is that it implies that your muscles have brains in them. This article will take a look at what muscle memory is, and what it is NOT.

It is well-known that as individuals begin strength training, the movements in each session get progressively easier to repeat. Even though the load is increasing, an athletes motor skills are adapting to these new movements. As the muscle fibers are exposed to new challenges in the environment, they adapt. However, unlike the term "memory" implies, there is not a brain inside of our muscles that remember intricate movements we have engaged in previously. (For more information on this, please read my previous article on "Muscle Confusion")

Some science you don't care about.

Muscle adaptation is a form of motor learning which involves "consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition". Individuals who begin strength training with no prior experience are often clumsy, forget steps of the movements, or complete the movement in an incorrect order (think about the first time someone does a thruster, or a power clean). This is simply because the neural pathways have not been created in their brain yet. As they practice the movements more and more, the movements become almost automatic with little thinking needed to complete the task. The memories are stored in our brains, not our muscle fibers, and the brain commands our actions and responses.

An interesting facet of muscle memory is the special relationship it has to strength training. Strength training is known to create a higher number of nuclei in muscle fibers, and they are even retained during periods of non-use. We have all heard the phrase "if you don't use it, you lose it". While this may apply to the muscle tissue itself, it certainly does not apply to the nuclei of the muscle fibers. 

This means that even if an individual takes years off of training, their protein synthesis will occur at an accelerated rate.

For example: a 30 day test called the Colorado experiment
This would also explain why my training partner, David Chow(hound), after taking 15+ years off of Olympic lifting, can clean & jerk 250lbs+ his first time being back in a gym.

Enjoy your new nickname, Chowhound.
Even after years away from the barbell, motor skills will be stored in an individuals brain for later use, and nuclei in the muscle fibers will be retained so that muscle growth can occur at an accelerated rate.  Since motor learning and muscle nuclei have a special relationship with strength training, I petition that the phrase "just like riding a bicycle" should be changed to "just like doing a clean & jerk".


  • Adkins, DeAnna L., Boychuck, Jeffery. 2006. Motor training induces experience specific patterns of plasticity across motor cortex and spinal cord. Journal of Applied Physiology. 101: 1776-1782.
  • Sinha-Hikim I, Artaza J, Woodhouse L, Gonzalez-Cadavid N, Singh AB, Lee MI, Storer TW, Casaburi R, Shen R & Bhasin S. (2002). Testosterone-induced increase in muscle size in healthy young men is associated with muscle fiber hypertrophy. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 283, E154-164.

  • Bruusgaard JC, Johansen IB, Egner IM, Rana ZA & Gundersen K. (2010). Myonuclei acquired by overload exercise precede hypertrophy and are not lost on detraining. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107, 15111-15116.

Friday, December 9, 2011

So You Think You Can Squat?

"So You Think You Can Squat" is a series of videos created by that showcases world record powerlifter, Matt Wenning, go through all the steps necessary in teaching the squat to a beginner. This series is one of my favorites because Wenning goes through every step of the squat from beginning to end and from head to toe. The squatter's form is analyzed for consistency, and they test to see where his form breaks so they can know which muscles are weak and which muscles are overcompensating.  I highly recommend watching the entire series and taking notes. It is only 5 videos, each about 5 minutes long. You know you will be wasting time at work anyway, why not learn something useful?

Video #1 analyzes the squatter's back weaknesses, bar and head position. It also takes a look at the quadricep overcompensation because of his weaker posterior chain.

Video #2 talks about the importance of keeping the chest big, especially when unracking the bar. Wenning also discusses why the musculature of the spinal erectors cannot move once the bar is unracked.

In Video #3, Wenning describes that bad form is what keeps novice lifters from accomplish PR's, not heavier weights. Where you box squat or not, his methods will still hold true.

In video #4, Wenning shows that simple fixes on form can add 40-50lbs to your squat. He also discusses various accessory exercises to help strength weak points of the squat. 
In the final video Wenning continues to show accessory exercises (notice that he doesn't use momentum to complete reps of the GHD, it is all hamstring).

Simple improvements in your form may be all that is hindering you from adding more weight to your squat, there are quite a few take-aways from this video and hopefully you learned something. Test them out for yourself.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Strongman Training for Men & Women

Blonde with pigtails, you are clear for takeoff.

The benefits of Strongman training are many and will benefit all of those who implement it--especially Crossfit athletes who are aspiring to compete at the 2012 Games.  Rob Orlando has been making some serious waves in the CF community with his strongman training methods, and it is bound to show up at the Games next year.

A lot of folks claim to like functional training, but I think that word has become meaningless. How functional is a one legged overhead squat, or a kipping handstand pushup? If you want to look at REAL WORLD functional training, give Strongman a shot. It doesn't get more functional than picking up a giant log, flipping cars, or carrying giant stones. Why do you think events like this exist? Because this is what they used before fancy rubber plates were invented. I love all of the lifts, but Strongman training is the oldest of the old school and deserves the utmost respect. Not only will you gain an unbelievable amount of strength in your glutes, low back, shoulders and hamstrings, your forearm, grip strength, and anaerobic conditioning will increase dramatically.

I have compiled a list of videos detailing a few of the Strongman events, for women and men.

This female terminator flips a 500lb tire for 10 reps. F*cking impressive.

Like the title hints at, this is a video of the legendary Bill Kazmeier, the Strongman in the world through the 1980's. Watch the whole video to see various real-life situations mimicked in the competitions.

This video is an example of a Strongman training session. Note the part where they use the Continental Clean to get the axle bars overhead.

Jamie Kovac, Hitting a 420lb PR with the yoke.

Jamie is also a gladiator on American Gladiators.

Here is a 230lb male flipping an 1,150lb tire with excellent form

Check out Strongman training for yourself, and you will see the carry-over it will have on all of your other athletic endeavors. Start with tire flips, stone carries, and yoke carries.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hacking the Human Body

When someone hears the term "hacking", 3 things usually come to mind: Neo, Wikileaks, and 01010101. One definition of a hacker is "anybody who tinkers with any kind of system, mechanical or electrical, in order to better understand how it work, and to possibly improve its function." While most folks will probably limit this definition to computers or machines, they forget that the human body can also be considered a machine. In my opinion, it is one of the most well designed machines in existence--but this doesn't mean the human body isn't without weaknesses. Examples include our inability to produce all amino acids, gene mutations, and my increasing weakness for Taco Time hot sauce.

However, there are ways in which we can exploit some of our body's weaknesses and find loopholes to help improve the overall system, usually with minimal effort involved. One of the most renowned body hackers is Tim Ferris, whose information I will be using as a source for parts of this article. Let's take a look at some of the more unconventional body hacks. I am not a doctor, so use this information at your own risk.

Ice Baths for Increased Fat loss

Many of us have heard the claim that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps eats 12,000 calories a day to maintain his training and bodyweight. But how can this be? It definitely isn't from just swimming. In order to burn that many calories, he would need to be doing continuous butterfly swimming every day at a competitive speed.

It turns out that it is from the thermal load of the water. Since water is 24 times more thermally conductive than air, the body has to work much harder in order to keep the body at 98.6 degrees. But it isn't just cold water that can increase fat loss, its also just being extremely cold in general. Every time I summit Mount Rainier, I always come back at least 6 pounds lighter. I gain 2 or 3 of those pounds back, so that is just water weight, but what about the other 3 pounds? People who summit Mount Everest routinely eat sticks of butter and lard to help stave off weight loss, yet usually come back about 25 pounds lighter.

Ferris discovered that our brown fat helps dissapate excess calories as heat, unlike white fat, which is the bad fat (aka cellulite). Cold water immersion and general cold therapy activates brown fats ability to burn fat and glucose as heat. Since the body wants to stay at 98.6 degrees, it is going to need to burn white fat tissue to stay at that temperature. Sticking an ice pack at the base of your neck will also contribute to fat loss, since that is where a lot of brown fat is stored (probably less painful than an ice bath, too).

Maybe ice baths do serve a purpose, after all.

Gain 25 Pounds in a Month with GOMAD

GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk A Day) is the silver bullet for all so-called "hardgainers". 110% of the time, a hardgainer is just someone who isn't eating enough, is too lazy to do the required eating, too scared to eat that much, or a combination of all three. The first time I did GOMAD I was on it for 45 days and went from 178 to 215. No small feat for someone of my height and caloric requirements. The thing that sets GOMAD apart from just simply eating more is the fact that it is a liquid and takes advantage of the body's ability to digest liquid more quickly than solid food. If you break up in a gallon into 4-32oz servings (600 cals each), you can drink them after a meal with greater ease than you would have with a 600 calorie meal of solid food.

Whole milk is required. If you are drinking a gallon of soy milk then you need to get off of this site and reassess your life. The combination of protein, carbs and fat in whole milk are ideal for increasing testosterone production, calories, and muscle mass when combined with heavy compound lifts and your normal food intake. Simply drink a gallon a day isn't enough, you have to do it ON TOP of your regular diet. Fat gain is not inevitable, but if it worries you, then watch what your food looks like, and keep it clean. 

This is a prime example of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). What better way to be strong like bull than drinking moo juice?

Worried About High Iron Levels? Donate Blood

I donated blood to the platform gods last week
We are regularly told that donating blood saves lives, but interestingly enough it can actually be more beneficial for the donor than the recipient, especially if you are a male. Dangerously high iron levels can also be a contributing factor to Type 1 Diabetes because it can destroy the pancreas' ability to make insulin. The reason I say especially for men is because men are usually the ones walking around with high iron levels. Women rarely have this problem because of their menstruation. I have heard more than my fair share of hippies tell me that high levels of iron are caused by too much red meat, but it's simply not the case. Things like cereals and other processed food products that are fortified with iron are usually the culprit, along with an excess of alcohol consumption. Maybe that's why Sweden noted that the iron that is added to foods is more similar to rust than iron found in red meat.

High levels of iron can be toxic, and so are anti-antioxidants. Donating blood is one of the best things you can do if your iron levels are dangerously high. Here is a link where you can buy an iron test online to use at home.

A human body hack is simply an unconventional method to solve a conventional problem with minimal effort involved. What are some unconventional methods you use to solve conventional problems?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Turning the Holiday Feast Into a PR

It was literally the biggest meal I had in over a day.
It's December, and that means that this month will probably be filled with family gatherings, work parties, and some extra days off. It also means that you will see articles all over the internet that tell you how to watch your waistline or how to cut down on calories over the holidays. Luckily for you, I won't wasting your time with a topic like that. Instead I am going to discuss how you can use the holidays to help overcome a plateau or hit a new PR.

Especially for students, December is when you will have extra time to train, eat and rest. This would be an ideal time to get off of your 5-6x a week routine and get on to a 3-4x a week program. It is also an ideal time to eat more because there is usually more food around, especially at family gatherings (the best place to get a swole belly). Rather than hitting the gym every day at 6AM, take this month to get more rest, because it is the recovery that will help you hit that PR, not murdering yourself every morning. This is the month to train big and recover bigger.

I love being in the gym, and I don't always like the idea of taking time off, even though it's a necessity. However, every time I take a weekend off and spend that time eating big and recovering big, I always come back to the squat rack stronger and highly motivated for another week of training. If you are smart about your eating patterns, you can still eat a 2 or 3 thousand calorie meal every day and lose bodyfat (Jay Stadtfeld will be writing an article about this later). Along with all of the other Thanksgiving food I had over the weekend, I also ate this giant burger and still came home 2 pounds lighter:

By planning ahead, you can schedule your training days to be the day after you have eaten a copious amount of food, thus flooding your muscles with glycogen to help you break that plateau.  I gave my 100 pound friend Dana Bowling this advice before she successfully attempted her 200lb squat, a 15lb increase from her last PR. I am always stronger the day after a big meal, my joints feel better, my DOMS has worn off, and I am ready to attempt new weight.

The mental aspect of training after a weekend of rest is also incredibly beneficial. The feeling of being burnt out can hold you back, especially if you feel like ass and every inch of you is sore. If you spend your holiday weekends working on SMR & mobility, stretching, getting enough sleep and eating big, you will have no problem hitting your new PR goals the following day.