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)

Squat Every Day Cover

Like this post? You might also be interested in my book which covers this subject in much more detail.

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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

Bulgarian-style Training for Strength & Powerlifting

If you’re interested in this article, you might also be interested in my book Squat Every Day which covers this subject in much more detail. Get your copy here. 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 … 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

Dispel the Dogma and Find the Gems

A few days ago, my buddy Bret Contreras wrote up a summary of John Broz’s training methods over on T-Nation. I’ve been following Broz and his athletes closely for the last year and a half, and he’s never failed to impress. Whether you agree with his methods or not, you can’t argue with his results.

My own experimentation with daily training started when Broz’s comments convinced me to give it a good try. Over the years, I’ve always found that I respond better to more training, but less “intensity” in each session. By intensity I don’t mean weight on the bar as a percentage of maximum. I mean effort. I mean exhaustion. Typical wisdom says you need to throw all your energy into your workouts and leave yourself crawling out of the gym.

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