Is anything more useless than the “form check”?

I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea to post videos of squats and deadlifts on the internet to get a “form check”. This almost always turns out to be the blind leading the blind, and even when it isn’t, has anyone actually made their form “better” by reading a list of generic form cues? What does “better” even mean? Do people even have a benchmark in mind when they ask for advice, or are they just giving in to their own neuroses?

“Better form” is the leprechaun of internet fitness communities. Want a better squat? Get under the bar and practice it until you can handle over double body weight. Better pull? Pick the thing up. Figure out how your body wants to move under load. It can move just fine without “expert” biomechanical advice. Doing the thing and paying attention to what happens is more valuable than any internet checklists.

The Limits In Your Head (CNS Fatigue)

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“The CNS recovers in 12-24 hours after a workout”. What does that even mean? What’s recovering? What got tired in the first place? Nobody talking about the trendy subject of “CNS fatigue” ever seems to know, and being skeptical as I am of the outrageous-sounding, my suspicion is that the shroud of mystery is hiding voodoo — or just plain old ignorance. We already know that “fitness people” typically have a grasp of biology somewhat less than what you’d expect from a middle-school science education, which lets them speak of “toxins” hiding away in your body, or with a belief that genes “evolve for” certain types of foods found only in organic supermarkets.

Unfortunately even many who come through exercise science programs come out thinking of the human body as a Mr. Potatohead, just a bunch of pieces that happen to stick together and do stuff. Biology is not a rigid machine obeying a clear set of formal rules. Think storm. Think global economy. Complex, nonlinear, exponential.

Central fatigue is nevertheless a real and observable phenomenon, and I was recently pointed at an article, The Race Against Time, which neatly sums up how it applies to sport.

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Sheiko Powerlifting Routines

Boris Sheiko has been receiving a good bit of attention recently for the programming he employs with the Russian powerlifting team. Sheiko’s methodology, in contrast to more traditionally known powerlifting philosophy, is known for using high frequency and very high volumes of work, as opposed to the usual method of having intensity as the prime … Read more

Louie Simmons on Bodybuilding

I was going to call this “Westside for Bodybuilders” but I didn’t want Louie, Dave Tate, and Jim Wendler making a funny YouTube video about me, or kicking my ass. And they’d be right to do it, really: this isn’t “Westside for” anything. This is a program based on the principles that Louie Simmons popularized at his Westside Barbell club.

This came from an old issue of the now-defunct Peak Training Journal where Louie was discussing how he went about training IFBB Pro bodybuilder Mike Francois (allegedly, as I haven’t been able to track down an original copy of this article, I’m going by faith that the Internet hasn’t lied to me).

The influences of Louie’s more widely known Westside Barbell System are obvious, and following with his entire philosophy: an athlete must be strong to be effective. All other qualities flow from strength, and then it’s simply a matter of filling in the weak points. Weak points, in this instance, refer to anywhere the athlete is lacking.

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The Finnish Deadlift Routine

This is a solid program for those that like to pull. This is in some ways similar to the program Andy Bolton has described, using blocks of deadlift-related accessory lifts based on percentages before finally peaking the deadlift itself. Bolton’s routine differs because of the very low percents used in the final peaking block….but when … Read more

Bulgarian-style Training for Strength & Powerlifting

There’s been a recent resurgence of interest in frequent ‘daily’ training and the Bulgarian weightlifting system, and yet very little written about how to adapt this system from weightlifting to more traditional gym-lifting or powerlifting programs. I want to use this article to sketch out some ideas on how to organize such a system. Those … Read more

APRE for Strength & Size

All this talk about autoregulation and about getting strong in more general ways has had me doing a lot of thinking. This workout scheme in particular was inspired by this post of mine and the paper it references. Autoregulated Progressive Resistance Exercise (APRE) is similar to plain old PRE, which some of you may know … Read more

Brian Siders: Intermediate Powerlifting

Courtesy of Brian Siders This is a high-volume sample workout from powerlifter Brian Siders. Besides being an incredibly strong guy, Brian is also known for his very high volume workouts. As you see, this program has you training six days a week with an alternating upper body/lower body split. If you’ve never played around with … Read more

Doug Hepburn: Power & Pump Routines

Doug Hepburn was one of the famous old-school lifters of the golden age, a guy who was knocking out some spectacular feats back in the 1950s and 60s. We’re talking about a guy that was putting 370 lbs over his head, with strict form, for triples, and 400 lbs for singles; strict-curling 225 lbs; and … Read more

Death by Monotony [Staleness]

Do you ever get bored in training? Do you ever get stuck and wonder why it’s so hard to get any stronger? Sometimes it comes down to repetition. You do the same things over and over, to the point that the monotony alone brings on staleness. You get stuck because you aren’t doing enough to … Read more