Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The struggle

I copped the above photo from Adam Glass's blog. I think it is perfect. It perfectly encapsulates what the hell it's all about. This is not some tricky equation, it's simple. Here is the thing that wants to kill you. In order to succeed you must go head to head with it and walk away the winner. In the end that's what much of life is about. People who have never had a gun pointed at them or been up to their ears in human struggle like to think that everything is super cool and that struggle is unnecessary. Guess again. The sooner you prime yourself for struggle, the better off you'll be. This doesn't mean you have to be confrontational with people or have a bad attitude, it just means that you are ready for what may arise. Life is hard. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
Adam also had a great post on the DD forum regarding strength.

"Simple answer, I am strong bro. 50% of my upper body work is bending draft horseshoes, bending short steel at chest level, tearing phone books, breaking chains, levering hammer and a whole other mess of stuff.
My other 50% is KB Bottoms Up presses, BB bent presses, Get ups, plate curls, and rubber band work with my chest expander sets.
I do a lot of one arm pressing, so i am very good at one arm pressing. Specific Frequent Perfect Practice.
I know it's hard for some people to believe, but strength is really a very simple affair.
The last Four years can be summed up as this for me
2007--ETK + PttP in cycles
2008--Strongman work + ETK
Really simple stuff. Don't listen to anyone once you start. Stick to one plan and drive it out. Stop reading magazines and internet training sites (I am not saying stop reading the DD forum, but you have to become solid on your training plan) The "Best" plan in the world is the one your not using. Funny how that works huh?
Most people who will try to sway you have made no progress to speak of. Don't listen to them. I recently read a term I love "Might makes right" Damn Skippy it does. I don't listen to anyone who is weak when it comes to my strength training. I don't take medical advice from auto mechanics and I don't take computer programming classes lessons from grain farmers.
Beware of what Brett Jones calls "shiny things" I am the first person to say I love new stuff when its fun, but nothing cuts in my deads and presses.
Trying to increase your press and DL while dieting does work, but you have to be smart about the whole thing. I do not know enough to really give you solid advice other than this--I have leaned out a lot in the last 3 months. I eat a ton of yogert, protein shakes, veggies and lean beef. it is the most boring damn diet in the world, but i am stronger every week, and my clothes fit better...
Work in cycles. You have to understand the DL is a strange beast. you will progress for weeks, than it stalls on you. My 2 cents is to stack up heavy swings and take some time from deads when you feel the wall coming. Invest in a HEAVY bell. i bought a 56kg for nearly 500 from Australia when i lived in Japan and never looked back. Here stateside you can get a beast, or look in to the heavier bells. Just remember why you bought it-Swings. Dont get stupid and try to press out a super large bell, it will rip your arm off in the process.
For the presses, alternate between Bottoms Up Presses, Side press, strict one arm press and bent pressing. With four different presses you can mix and cycle them to your hearts content. Do a lot of pressing. press almost every day, keep the weights fairly heavy, dont do too much. Some days the most i do is one set of 3, other days i may do 5 sets of 5. I rarely do more than that.
The reason I have stuck around this forum for so long is because the training advice pushed here works. Pavel's stuff is no trick or marketing gimmick. "DO THIS" if you do it works. I do not pretend to be smarter than the SRKCs, I listen to them like a good boy and because I do, I'm becoming a pretty damn strong dude.
So all I just did was outline PttP or I said, strength is a very simple affair. "
So look, it is very very very simple. Stop trying to find the perfect program, stop asking if this is a good or bad drill. Pick something and do it. O-lifting, PL, WestSide, ETK, PttP, PP, BB, Doggcrapp, Naked Warrior, AKC, Flowfit, sandbags, big rocks, heavy hands, combat conditioning, dinosaur really does not matter, "mastery of one thing leads to mastery of all things"--from some samurai"

This also goes back to my first conversation with Rif when I started at Girya. The number one problem people have is showing up day after day. People want super complicated magic programs. See, the programs have to be magical in order for them to work despite the fact that you aren't actually doing them.
Over the past six months I have made dramatic increases in my strength, conditioning, and flexibility. I mean, seriously. Not to toot my own horn, but a jump from 91 reps of snatches on the 24 kg. in five minutes to 68 reps on the 32 kg. in five minutes in just five months is pretty damn good. How did I do it? I kept showing up. I took the pain and self abuse, made the corrections, and stuck with it.
I also stopped B.S'ing myself. If I wasn't able to do something that falls into the realm of basic strength, I was weak. That's all. It's not because "That's not the kind of training I do." or any of the other lame excuses I hear from non-hackers. It's because I'm not strong enough. What is the realm of basic strength? I've talked about this before, but for me it's basically:
1. Deadlift
2. Weighted Pull Ups
3. Squat
4. Military Press

I could stick pistols or one arm push ups in there, but that opens up the skilled movement debate. Sure deads and the like are skilled movement, but everyone can pick up their keys. Not everyone can do it by lowering themselves to the ground on one leg.
Inability to perform decently in one of the above exposes weakness. It might go all the way back to you having inflexible hamstrings. On occasion I'll talk to guys in their twenties who proclaim that they pretty much do none of the above because of 'injuries'. It takes me about two minutes to distill 'injuries' down to "I'm inflexible and never corrected it so I can't do that stuff."
That's where the part about being honest with yourself comes in. Attack your weaknesses, build your strength, prepare yourself for the coming struggle.


  1. Yup! Just gotta get stronger. Fortunately, it's usually a straightforward process for most people.

    What can you possibly say to an otherwise healthy guy who can't do pullups besides "you need to get better at pullups."

    Work them hard, and you'll get better.