The Training Methods of Bob Peoples

Since I’ve been back on a daily-squatting kick, I thought this would be appropriate an appropriate read to get some discussion going. For reasons that will become clear, Bob Peoples has been a huge motivator in the “just go lift” scheme of things. You see that he wasn’t shy of trying new and different methods … Read more

The Value of Restraint in Training Weights [Strength Progressions]

We like fast progress. All of us do. I like it. When poundages aren’t going up on the regular, I start second guessing. I wonder where I’m screwing it up. I need that regular feedback. I know it doesn’t work that way. I know in the sense that I’m aware of the facts. As we realize now, knowing is only part of the issue.

I know that muscle tissue can only synthesize so fast and there are limits to how much can be added on a given body without chemical intervention. I know that neural factors adapt on an asymptotal curve, increasing strength rapidly before leveling off in a new plateau as neurons rewire themselves. I know these things, and yet, it’s the psychological rush, the hit of mesolimbic pleasure-reward, of hitting new levels and new PRs that motivates most of us.

Without that quick feedback of success, the signpost on the road to tell us we’re heading in the right direction, it’s easy to start second guessing. Once that happens, you’ve lost.

Read moreThe Value of Restraint in Training Weights [Strength Progressions]

Pain Isn’t A Virtue [Muscle & Strength Gains]

In biology, it’s rare to find an instance where more is always better. Biological systems respond in dose-response relationships. More is better — to a point. Once you get past that ideal range, more is worse. You can visualize this as an inverted U-shaped graph, with the ideal range falling into a nice hump between … Read more

Zen and the Art of Squatting, Part II

Back in part I (read that first so you aren’t lost), I talked about the unconscious nature of motor learning and skill training, and mentioned how the brain rewires itself in response to outside changes, which include exercise. Now I want to discuss what this means for fitness goals.

We’re taught to fear overtraining from day one. We know, since we’re told so often, that if we train too much, we’ll basically die. A whole culture has developed around how to plan and apply training programs so that we avoid doing too much while trying to scratch out some kind of progress. I know it, as I was part of that culture.

Recent experiences have had me rethinking that viewpoint, to the degree that I’m no longer sure what’s a genuinely physical limit, what’s a psychological roadblock, and what’s just a good idea, limitations aside. ‘Overtraining’ has moved out of my vernacular — and this has happened because I stopped caring about the consequences.

Read moreZen and the Art of Squatting, Part II

Zen and the Art of Squatting, Part I

I’m not exactly sure where to start this post, because it’s a departure from the straight-up, I did this at the gym kind of thing I normally talk about. I’ll start with a little background.

I have a wide range of nerdly interests outside of weight training. I’ve mentioned that my approach to strength and physical culture came out of my earlier geekiness, but what I don’t talk about often is that my interest in the science of biology doesn’t stop with exercise and nutrition. I don’t want to go into a lot of the personal-philosophy details, mainly because they aren’t very relevant and more importantly, they’re kinda out there, and I don’t want to bog the place down with my wider thoughts.

For now, let it suffice to say that I’m big on neuroscience, how neuro-bio-chemistry relates to psychology, and how both of those relate to physical stress — the universal response to an organism being bothered by its surroundings.

Read moreZen and the Art of Squatting, Part I

Let’s talk about fitness.

I think by this point everyone has noticed the trend toward functional fitness, cross-training, and tactical elite athleticism that’s been creeping into the fitness industry. With the rise of Crossfit and everybody else rushing to copy-cat, it’s hard not to notice the rush of people jumping on the bandwagon of functional circuits for time, the sudden appearance of people wearing Vibrams or Chuck Taylors — the hallmark of shaved-headed powerlifters c. 2001-2008 — while doing weird combinations of deadlifts and plyometrics and other assorted exercisey things not generally seen in your average gym.

Those of you that know me know I’ve been half-ass critical of that in the past. Only half-ass, though; I couldn’t and still can’t bring myself to full-on hate, because there are a lot of positives that have come out of this trend. It’s hard to deny that getting people more active in general, and exposing them to solid strength & conditioning practices in the process, is a good thing on balance. Even putting aside benefits like the Andro Broads, Crossfit and the wider functional-fitness movement it has spearheaded has done a lot to popularize the effective training methods that I’ve tried to promote for years.

Again, on balance, this is a good thing. But this does not preclude any criticisms.

Read moreLet’s talk about fitness.

Raw Lifting and Linear Periodization

I’ve had to do a lot of thinking over the past couple of years as far as deciding what I want to do with myself as far as training and goals. I dabbled with powerlifting for years, but it wasn’t ever satisfying to me as a competitive sport. I like hitting big weights, and I even like competing from time to time. What I don’t like is how gear has become such an integral part of training and competing. Even in the IPF affiliates it’s gotten a bit wacky, and don’t get me started on the multi-ply feds.

This isn’t a swipe at geared powerlifting. If you enjoy it, then best of luck to you. But it’s not what I signed up for. The reason I lift weights is, for lack of a better phrase, because of “physical culture”. Bodybuilders back in the day actually had to lift weights in their contests. The earliest powerlifters trained more like what we think of as bodybuilding today. That’s the old idea of physical culture: that you develop both strength and the physique with well-rounded weight training.

Read moreRaw Lifting and Linear Periodization