A Fresh Start

Back in early 2007, when I first decided to start a website, I had a mission in mind: to parody, satirize, and criticize the Fitness Industry. For those of you that aren’t aware, even the “Amped Training” brand name was meant as a riff on the hype-filled ad-copy used to sell supplements and diets and workout programs. Long-time readers will undoubtedly notice that the site has taken a different direction since those days when the posts were mostly flames and trollposts, a change coincident with some fundamental shifts in my own belief systems and outlook on the world.

Still, despite the inflammatory postings, Amped was always about science and skepticism, about clear thinking, and penetrating the layers of obfuscation surrounding the niches of strength & conditioning, bodybuilding, nutrition, and general get-in-shape exercise. Even the harshly-worded criticisms were, at heart, about clarity, paring away the unnecessary and deconstructing the ridiculous.

As then, I still believe that scientific thinking and what Hemingway so accurately called a shock-proof bullshit detector are critical, whether you’re a coach, a trainer, or just looking to make the most of your own health and fitness. But with a new direction, without the motivating force of satirical hard-edged criticism, the Amped brand feels past its prime. So I’ve decided to change it.

My original passion, what got me into lifting weights, was bodybuilding, which then morphed into a love of strength via powerlifting — muscle and brawn, the typical motivations for young insecure males. I’ve never been much of a competitor, always hanging around the edges of the sport, more the mechanic and technician than the driver. As such my writings have always fallen into orbit around those topics, with occasional excursions into the worlds of nutrition and exercise for fitness and fat loss.

I think that constraining myself to just strength and just muscle has left a lot of potential on the table. For myriad reasons exercise science and nutrition are mutts as sciences go, with very few first principles of their own when compared to a ‘harder’ science like physics. Insights from other areas of biology and even superficially unrelated fields like psychology can be incredibly powerful when applied to an exercise context, as can more philosophical musings about how to look at science and the human world.

I’ve been writing more of those kinds of posts over the last year, and they’ve proven quite popular compared to more of the same, the usual hackneyed and overdone posts about how to obsess over squat form that you can’t change, or lists of exercises to work whatever muscle, or how to fixate on details in your diet or your training that convey exactly zero benefit. Boring.

So, in addition to my writings on exercise, I’m also writing more about those Interesting facets of neuroscience and cognitive psychology and epigenetics and computer science and whatever else strikes my fancy from Pubmed or ArXiv or Google Scholar. And while I’m at it, I’m going to talk more about daily life — what I’m doing in the gym and in the kitchen, books I’m reading, pretty much whatever I feel like chatting about. I make no promises on that front, as I’ve turned into a bit of an e-recluse the last few years as my posting droughts testify, but it’s on the table.

This is no longer a site about “lifting weights” or “getting big” or “making fun of idiots”. Think of it as my all-purpose Batman utility belt of a site, still encompassing my science-minded views on strength and muscle, but adding a new perspective.

On the technical front, this changeover hasn’t involved switching servers and the DNS records for the myosynthesis.com domain have been resolved for quite some time now, so this should be a relatively straightforward conversion. Likewise you RSS subscribers should have been switched over as well, but if not, here’s the feed address. That should have switched over on the back end but you may have subscribed view the http://url/feed method, so make the change if you haven’t already.

All old URLs should be redirecting, but I’m under no delusions that there will be a completely flawless transfer so don’t be surprised if older links redirect to 404 Hell. So far the redirection has been working smoothly, but if you’re missing an article or a post that you think should be there, let me know.

Also, you’ll have noticed that I did a mild redesign of the layout. I got tired of all the clutter, so I took a minimalist approach to a new template and streamlined everything. Here again, I expect to be some flaws with the display and shaking down bugs for all the new templates, so I don’t mind you letting me know about them — with one exception: if you’re still insistent on using IE, you’re out of luck. I’m trying to code with W3C specs for HTML5 and CSS3 in mind, and to be more honest, I just can’t be bothered trying to make my code reverse-compatible with IE6/7/8. Most things should work, but I make no promises and if something does turn up wacky, I offer no solutions.

If you aren’t using a modern browser, preferably Firefox or a Webkit-based browser by now, well, that’s what the RSS feed is for.

Squatting Like a Maniac [Hell Yeah]

This is going to be another short clip-show post.

The John Broz Q&A Thread – an older thread from BB.com, chock full of golden wisdom from Broz himself. The first 5-6 pages are mandatory reading if you want to squat to a max every day.

Speaking of squats and maxes, Max Aita gives his input on frequent squatting over on Glenn’s board. And congrats to Max for finally hitting that 302 kg (that’s 665 lbs) squat after his 17th try. No-no-no squats have always been the most impressive to me.

Otherwise been a slow week, so that’s all I’ve got for you. I’ll be back with a real post next week.

Back to Overtraining

I’m a bit short on time (read: behind) this week, so this won’t be a big update.

I highly suggest a look at The Death of Heavy Days: How To Do More Work with Less Obsession by Nick Horton of PDX Weightlifting.

I’ve recently become aware of Nick through Glenn Pendlay’s forum, and we are very much in agreement on the mindfulness or — pardon the somewhat overused expression — ‘Zen’ of training.

Speaking of Glenn’s forum, there have been quite a few interesting threads popping up recently. This one on specificity vs. variation in training is worth a read, as is this one on the current popularity of “Bulgarian” training (pay special attention to post #53 /shamelessplug).

I started back on a full John Broz-influenced powerlifting routine this previous week, based on this post of John’s. As of this writing I’ve squatted to a max six days in a row, pulled three times, and pressed three times (alternating push presses and incline benches, as I’ve completely dropped the bench press) — and I’m ready to do more.

The deadlift was my bane last time I tried this method. I could not figure out how to fit it in, so I’m giving his suggestion a try — lots of doubles at reasonable percentages and varied mechanics (all off the floor for now). I’m rotating between clean pulls, snatch pulls (using straps when the hook gives out), and then one day of more traditional roundbacking. Hook gripping is mandatory, as another way of ‘training weak’ to compete strong.

There’s a sweet-spot with this kind of training. You want to get enough to stimulate the nervous system, to get the potentiation effect, without going overboard and leaving yourself exhausted. There is a learning curve (though I suspect most anyone with a year or two of ‘serious’ training could pick it up quickly). Once you hit that zone, you go on cruise-control. Training makes you feel better, almost like you need to squat to a max to feel right.

Which is, of course, the desired effect. You want the extraordinary to become normal. When maximum lifts become as casual as getting out of bed, you’re in shape to do some amazing things. Like this lifter of Broz’s, lifting in a completely raw AAU meet:

Also worth reading: Broz on dealing with injuries. There is much truth in what he says about, effectively, hardening up and going to lift. Popular forum wisdom says that training more often will lead to greater injury rate. Yet I’ve noticed exactly the opposite — the more often I train, the less my old injuries bother me. Sure you get the floating Mystery Pain that changes from day to day and is more an annoyance than a real injury. What has yet to happen is the larger muscle tears or joint kinks that have always happened when I was only training a lift once or twice a week. There’s another piece of forum wisdom to disregard.

I’m not dead. I’m out of ideas.

For those of you that were asking, I’m not dead. I’m not even hurt again, which surprises me more than anyone.

About the recent lack of updates, to be totally honest, I just don’t have anything to talk about. I get my inspiration from two places: 1) from interacting with people and 2) getting ideas that hit me when I’m at the gym. The latter also requires that I’m thinking about something interesting enough to write about, and that I follow up on it (or even remember it) when I get home, which isn’t always the case.

I’ve pulled myself away from almost all forum participation in the last half-year. There’s no drama behind that; I just don’t enjoy forum participation the way I used to. It’s always the same questions, the same personality archetypes, the same people arguing over the same stupid shit with the same piss-poor reading comprehension and child-like lack of reasoning abilities. The bottom line is that I get very little back from the time spent on forums (or Twitter, or Facebook, or any social media construct), and I’d rather be doing other things with that time.

The reason I mention this is because it’s dried up a lot of my inspiration. If there was a benefit to being a pajama-clad postulator in a most Shaf-like fashion, it was that I almost always had some kind of topic to write about. The well is much drier these days. Combine that with my seasonal burn-out that seems to come every few months and it’s slim pickings on the blogging front.

Which brings me to the point. If you folks want me to talk about things, chime in with some ideas. I’m horrible about responding to emails and private messages, so don’t get offended if I don’t reply to you. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I’m easily distracted and don’t prioritize my electronic communications. But I do read most everything that isn’t spam, so if you’ve got things you want me to talk about, let me know.

Hell at this point it doesn’t even have to be lifting, fitness, or diet-related. I’ll talk about booze, coffee, fighting, how to troll web communities, my favorite TV shows, I don’t even care.

Leave a comment, Tweet me @ImpulseStrength, or just post in this thread I made on the forum.