Archive for the 'Rants By Ross' Category
Below is a brief video that I recently posted to Facebook. Within the clip, you will see a man performing chin-ups on his 73rd birthday.
Clearly, his display is impressive particularly when considering that he was born in 1938. This man can perform more chin-ups than most healthy males born in the last 30 years.
So what is his secret? He must follow a highly touted routine, right? I wonder what form of periodization he is using. Perhaps he receives daily training updates to his inbox that allow him to display such strength? It’s got to be something, right? Maybe a new supplement? What could it be?
Unfortunately, those looking for an overnight secret are not going to find one. The secret to this man’s ability aren’t found in a book and can’t be purchased in bulk from the supplement store. This elderly man’s ability is the result of hard work and consistency over many years.
In a previous Youtube video, he mentioned that began performing pull-ups at age 40. When he started, he would do pull-ups every day. He’d always try to perform one more than he did the day before. He didn’t have any fancy rep schemes or periodized programs to follow. What he did have however was the determination and perseverance to keep showing up day after day.
Showing up and legitimately pushing yourself regularly are two of the best ways to produce results in the gym. You don’t need a fancy plan. And no, I’m not knocking the potential value of a well thought routine. My point is that while some people obsess over program creation, others just wake up and train. What they do may not always be right, but their repeated effort makes up for it, often allowing them to surpass those who possess more book knowledge on the subject.
There is no denying that most men cannot perform a fraction of the chin-ups that this man performs. Many half his age who are physically active and so-called experts in training cannot even perform as many chin-ups as him. Who knows what they will be doing in their 70′s.
So what’s the lesson to be learned?
Keep it simple. You don’t need to know everything. Keep showing up and keep pushing yourself. In time, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll learn more by doing than you will with anything else.
If you want to learn to swim jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you. – Bruce Lee12 comments
Below is a video that shows a creative backyard exercise station. I first came across this video on my forum and I later posted it to Facebook.
The Youtube description states that the entire exercise station was created from scrap materials. I tip my hat to the man’s creativity and ability to construct an inexpensive home gym that is both challenging and fun.
Unfortunately, as soon as I shared this video, critics came out to highlight the faults of a home gym that was made from scraps. I find it humorous that people will criticize something that they’ve never used. It is even more comical when some of the critics would struggle to perform many of the exercises demonstrated within the video.
Personally, I have no idea what it feels like to train with this man’s invention. I’m not here to judge. All I see is a man who has created an inexpensive exercise station that allows for challenging home-based workouts. What is wrong with that? Why not commend his creativity and eagerness to train, rather than focusing on the possible limitations of a device that you’ve never used?
Contrary to what many believe, equipment does not guarantee anything. Just look at all of the hardly used equipment that regularly shows up on Craiglist. People buy into the idea that an expensive tool will deliver results. Sorry folks, but it doesn’t work that way. The human body can be challenged with almost anything (including bodyweight). This is particularly true when discussing recreational athletes. I’m guessing that the man seen within this video isn’t training for a world-class competition. He’s exercising. That’s all. Why make such a big deal out of it?
It often seems that the Internet has provided too much information. Rather than investing their time in the gym, some folks are now more content to discuss training. They’d rather debate various styles than get their hands dirty in the gym (which is where you really learn). The same paralysis by analysis is often seen with nutrition. Those suffering from such paralysis can often be found micro-managing and scrutinizing every last morsel that finds its way to a fork or spoon. They seem to believe that their ancestors sat around the camp fire calculating zones and nutrient ratios on the abacus.
Confucius once said,
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
I’m almost inclined to believe that he was talking about exercise and nutrition. His words of wisdom certainly apply to both. If you want to get in shape, steer clear of the complicated nonsense that clutters the web. The real secret is to show up, remain consistent, and find ways to regularly challenge yourself. Even one of the three will put you ahead of most of the world. Showing up is more than half the battle.
In summary, the video above offers yet another example of how easy it is to exercise with a minimal investment in equipment. You don’t need anything fancy to get in shape. If you are willing and eager to put in the work, you’ll find a way to get it done.
For more homemade equipment ideas, please refer to the link below. Those returning to the site will notice that the equipment archives are much easier to navigate now. I’ve added some click-able links within to allow for easy browsing. Take a look…41 comments
Following a recent entry, I’ve received several follow up comments on the topic of success. If you enjoyed the Will Smith interviews, I’m guessing that you will enjoy these videos as well. Richard St. John has some interesting things to say about becoming successful and remaining successful.
First, he shares eight keys to success.
He then comments on success as a continuous journey.
At first glance, much of his material appears obvious. There are times though when we overlook what is obvious advice. Although you may not learn anything new, you will certainly be reminded of several important concepts.
It is well known that not everyone in the world has the interest or ambition to become successful (ex. at school, work, sport, etc.). If you do wish to excel however, you’ll find much of St. John’s advice to be highly relevant as you move closer towards your goals.8 comments
Giuliano Stroe was discussed on my forum several months ago, but it wasn’t until this week that he became an Internet sensation. Earlier in the week, his story was featured on numerous sites including Yahoo. Within a matter of days, my inbox has filled with emails about the young boy.
The messages that I’ve read indicate that there are mixed feelings regarding his development. Some parents labeled his upbringing as child abuse, while others asked how they could train their own children similarly. Some even thought I was training my kids like Giuliano. Based on the confusion and influx of questions, it is time to address the topic.
To begin, I am not here to judge this boy or his family. I know nothing about them other than what I’ve seen on a brief Youtube clip. I’d like to believe that this child is a young phenomenon. I hope that he isn’t being pushed to do something against his will. My comments within this entry do not apply to him specifically, but rather the broad topic of childhood development. It’s also worth noting that I am obviously impressed by Giuliano‘s ability.
Yet despite his ability, I hope that other parents do not try to replicate his early success. Kids need a chance to be kids. They need a chance to play and enjoy childhood. They should not be forced to exercise or train. Some may counter these statements by saying that it is better for a child to exercise than sit in front of the television. I agree with this statement, but it is still just a partial response. Almost any activity is better than sitting in front of the television. What about practicing the alphabet, learning to count, learning to read and write, playing a musical instrument, working on various art projects, learning to become self sufficient, and learning to behave with proper manners. Why doesn’t anyone mention these other pertinent tasks? Childhood development includes much more than hanging from a pull-up bar. In my opinion, physical development ranks nowhere near the top of the priority list. Children must also advance socially, emotionally, cognitively, etc.
Over the years, I’ve met several young adults who were pushed into sports by their parents. After early success, they eventually burned out, and some even rebelled against their parents. Not only did their athletic pursuits fail, now they are dealing with damaged relationships that go far beyond the playing field. Many also deal with social problems. After years of being pushed and told that their best isn’t good enough, these young men are socially challenged, confused, and lacking in confidence. The candle that burns twice as bright often burns half as long.
Leading vs. Forcing
I have a three year old son and a 16 month old daughter. As I mentioned recently, they both love to play in the gym. They have been around professional athletes since day one. It is normal for them to see fighters at the house training. My son still thinks that everyone is a boxer. It’s the lifestyle that they have grown up around.
I never force my children to do anything however. They are far too young to be pushed into any physical activity. When my son comes to the gym, he is there to play. I don’t make him do anything. He keeps himself busy by copying those around him or creating his own games. Just the other day, he was playing a game with a pile of sandbags. He would climb to the top and then jump down to a punch shield. When I asked what he was doing, he said that he was pretending to jump to an island that was surrounded by alligators. It was all a big game to him. He laughed and giggled the entire time.
Leading by example is far different than forcing a youngster to perform an activity. Children imitate their parents. If you are active, there is a good chance that your children will follow the lead.
Children Are Not Financial Investments
I’m sure many who read this entry are familiar with the Richard Sandrak story. Refer to the clip below if a refresher is needed.
As a young boy, Richard’s father was suspected of mixing steroids in with his supplements. The family then launched a supplement line, using the young boy’s picture to market the product line. Soon after, Richard’s father was jailed for assaulting the boy’s mother. It was not until his father was jailed that Richard was allowed to socialize with children his own age. Fortunately, Richard appears to be doing well now. It is sad though that any child would be raised in a manner that prevented him from playing with friends his own age.
After all, what happens if a child prodigy is injured? What if he doesn’t make it? There are far more failures than success stories. What happens then? Why aren’t parents spending as much time encouraging their toddlers to read and write? Could it be that some parents are living out their dreams through their children? Could it be that a father who didn’t make it wants to capture fame and fortune by living vicariously through his child?
It is pathetic to live your dreams through a child by forcing him into specific activities. You had your own chance at life. It isn’t your right to live out another life through your child. Leading from the front is different than abandoning your responsibility as a loving parent. If your child is destined to become a champion athlete, it will happen in time. You don’t need to jump start the process at age 3. Hanging from a pull-up bar at 3 isn’t going to be the deciding factor between success and failure when he is 18 years old.
Toddlers have limited attention spans. Any toddler who is training for hours on end is being forced to do so. I don’t care if he is smiling or not. Even terrible two toddlers have moments when they laugh or smile. That doesn’t mean they are doing something by choice. There is reason why almost every toddler class in existence is an hour or less. The last thing that anyone wants is a crowded room filled with over tired toddlers.
It is also worth noting that children advance exponentially in short periods of time. The difference between my son at age 2 and 3 is incredible. There are often significant changes in just a month or two. Each month my daughter is able to say and do things that she couldn’t the month before. It is incredible to witness. Encouraging a child to work hard at a little league practice (in a sport that he chose) is far different from forcing your child to do something as a toddler. The difference between a 3 and 9 year old child could be calculated in dog years. It isn’t even close.
Personally, I don’t care if my children become future world champions or future piano players. I’ll support whatever it is they aspire to become. If I can help, I will do everything in my power to assist, but I will never force them to do anything. My children are not financial investments. On the contrary, having children has only motivated me to work harder than ever before. My primary objective in life is to care for my children. I’d rather work hard so they can have a better life. I would never look to my child as a way to cash in.
Lastly, I’m not here to raise your kids. I am simply sharing my own thoughts on the general subject, but I can’t imagine that anyone would argue against letting a kid be a kid.20 comments
As a father of two, I’m amazed at how physically active children are by nature. My three year old son would play outside all day if we let him. He loves to run, jump, climb, wrestle, ride his bike, hit the bag, and throw the ball.
He often tags along at the gym and keeps himself busy by making up his own games and “moves” (as he calls them). When it is time to pack up and leave, he does his best to delay the exit. He always looks to extend the gym stay by a few more minutes.
My 15 month old daughter is following closely in his footsteps. One of the first things she wanted to do after learning to walk was put on her brother’s gloves and hit the punching bag. She was obsessed with her big brother’s gloves. My wife and I finally broke down and bought her a pair to help keep the peace.
She now brings the gloves and mitts to me. She smiles and laughs as she plays with them. And just like her big brother, she too is sad when it’s time to put them away. I’ve learned to distract her when it is time to clean up, otherwise she would keep the gloves on all day.
Lead By Example
I am not writing this entry to suggest that we push our kids to become champion athletes. If my kids want to play sports when they are older, I will support them, just as I’ll support them if they want to play the piano instead. I will never push them towards something they don’t enjoy.
Yet based on my own observations, it is clear that children imitate their parents. Their view of normalcy is based on what they encounter each day at home. I happen to be in the business of training fighters. My kids have seen fighters training here, and at the gym since day one. They are surrounded by a gym scene. It is both normal and fun to them. I first bought my son boxing gloves so he would stop taking dirty gloves out of the gym. He wanted to imitate what he saw around him. My daughter now imitates her big brother.
When my son was two, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He asked for a pull-up bar. Initially, I thought I misunderstood what he had said. But in fact he wanted a bar to imitate what he saw at the gym. Almost a year later, my son and daughter both pull at my leg to ask for a turn on the bar. We can’t get upstairs without one of them asking.
My kids find these physical activities enjoyable. I’ve never asked or pushed them to do anything. Kids by nature do what is fun. They will not actively do something that they do not enjoy. It is their nature to seek out and do what they find fun.
As a parent, it is my responsibility to prepare my children for the world around them. I don’t care whether they participate in sport or not, but it is important to foster physical, mental, and social development.
Unfortunately, many parents seem to believe their responsibility ends in the bedroom. I’ve met parents whose idea of entertaining their children is to sit them in front of the television. They don’t want to be bothered playing with their kids. They are too busy to play, yet oddly enough find time to update Facebook, track their favorite sporting teams, and keep up with their favorite television shows.
How do kids go from laughing and playing at the park to becoming sedentary, overweight teens and adults? It certainly isn’t natural. By nature, humans were born to move. Unfortunately, as children grow older, they are often encouraged to do otherwise. It’s easier to plop your kid in front of the TV as opposed to taking him outside to ride his bike or throw the ball.
Clearly, there are other causative factors, but the inactivity of our children is without question a contributor to the continuously increasing rate of adult obesity. Consider the link below for some recent statistics:
It is sad to think that children who by their own accord would gladly run around all day will eventually become overweight adults. All too often parents look elsewhere for solutions, rather than taking a moment to ponder their own responsibilities. No one is more responsible for a child than the parents. It isn’t the responsibility of the school or government to develop a healthy child. Parents must take it upon themselves. The ability to freely move and enjoy the world around is something that all kids should enjoy. No parent should deprive their children of this simple pleasure.
We as parents need to take it upon ourselves to foster an active lifestyle for our children. Making time for active play is the most enjoyable part of my day. I wouldn’t trade those smiles for anything in the world.
I’m amazed at what many consider to be such a complex topic (ex. childhood obesity) is actually so easy to correct. The first step is for parents to begin leading from the front. Is that really too much to ask? I can’t think of anything more important (to me) than my children and their health. How could any parent think differently of their own children?
Parents need to wake up and take matters into their own hands. They must put their children first and stop making excuses about what the world owes them. They should instead worry about what they owe their children.46 comments
Last week I came across a camel jumping video that had been posted to the forum. I later posted a similar video to Facebook. It didn’t take long for the humorous comments to follow. I even found it a bit amusing. Something about jumping over a row of camels struck me as funny.
Fortunately, I’m not here to suggest that we all construct life size paper-mâché camels to increase our vertical. I do however believe that there are valuable lessons that can be taken from these Yemen jumpers.
First, take a look at a few demonstrations.
There is no questioning the impressiveness of these jumpers. With or without the raised jumping surface, these guys have some serious hops. Yet oddly enough (or not), I don’t see any of the latest Nike air shoes. All that I see are bare feet flying through the air. I’m also willing to bet that GNC doesn’t have a supplement store in this Yemen village. I’m guessing there aren’t any post-workout shakes being consumed after a camel jumping session.
What about state of the art training facilities? I doubt it. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world.
Call it a hunch, but I’m also willing to bet that these jumpers are not “certified” in camel jumping. Imagine that it’s possible to fly through the air without a camel jumping certification… Amazing!
What about breakthrough periodization models? Nope…
Simplicity and Specificity
So here we have several impressive jumpers without any of the so-called requirements that are commonly plugged in the industry. No fancy equipment, no fancy supplements, and no certified trainers to hold their hands. In many ways, these Yemen jumpers are a welcome slap in the face towards much of the industry.
If you want to run faster, you need to run. If you want to jump higher, you need to jump. If you want to punch harder, you need to punch. Working hard with the basics will often warrant the best results. And no, I’m not suggesting that supplemental work cannot be useful, but I am suggesting that many overemphasize it, which in turn leads to less time actually practicing the required sport. If you want to jump a row of camels, you’d better spend some time jumping.
Take what you want from this message, which hopefully means working hard towards the specific (unique) needs of your chosen event.18 comments
A recent study suggests that 1 out of 5 children (age 4) are obese.
As stated within:
The study is an analysis of nationally representative height and weight data on 8,550 preschoolers born in 2001. Children were measured in their homes and were part of a study conducted by the government’s National Center for Education Statistics. The results appear in Monday’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Researchers then went on to estimate the following:
Overall, more than half a million 4-year-olds are obese…
Life As A Parent
If I read this story 5 years ago, I would have likely skimmed over it and moved on without much thought. It’s not that I would have wished obesity on any child, but it simply wasn’t a topic that I followed closely before having children of my own.
I am now a proud father of two wonderful children. There is no denying that life changes after becoming a parent. My life now revolves around caring and providing for my children. If they hurt, I hurt. They mean everything to me. I can’t imagine ignoring their health and well being. Even the best legal counsel in the world couldn’t sway me to believe it is acceptable to allow children to eat themselves to obesity.
Since reading this article in the news yesterday, I’ve already seen arguments defending those parents whose children are overweight. At the top of the list, many have highlighted the troubled economy. Their argument is that it is too expensive to consume healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.
Yes, the economy has gone down the gutter as of late, but even tough times don’t give us a reason to overfeed our children. Does anyone actually believe that a poor economy somehow justifies obesity? Are we really that pathetic as a nation? What happened to stepping up and taking some responsibility? Times have certainly changed…
My mother raised two kids on her own. We certainly weren’t wealthy. That didn’t stop her from picking out what foods we ate. My brother and I didn’t do the shopping. Our voting rights were not recognized. We weren’t in charge. My mother ran the show. She bought the food. She cooked the food. We ate the food.
Yes, we had snacks, but there were rules in place in terms of what and when snacks were allowed. For example, we were allowed to pack one snack with lunch. That was it. I can remember telling my mother that the other kids had more than one snack with their sandwich. She would respond by reminding me that I’m not one of the other kids. She was not about to give in.
Looking back, I’m glad my mother took care of us the way that she did. She is all the proof that I need to completely discredit the economy as a viable excuse for obesity. My mother was (and still is) a very strong woman, and we certainly learned from her example. She did everything in her power to take care of us and I’ll never be able to thank her enough.
We can’t blame a poor economy for nationwide obesity. Personally, I already run a very small business and the slow economy hasn’t helped. Tough times don’t mean that I’ll start stuffing my kids with crap however. We still do our best to purchase and consume healthy foods. It’s all about priorities. I’d rather cut back in other areas. Nutrition and health are at the top of my priority list when it comes to spending.
Furthermore, what happened to kids getting outside to play? I practically lived outside as a kid. That’s all we ever wanted to do. No one wanted to sit inside and watch television. It’s natural for kids to get outside and play. It isn’t natural to sit inside and watch Elmo re-runs all day.
Is it really too much for parents to get off their ass and play outside with the kids? You can go to the park for free. Throw a ball in the yard. Take your kids for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Find something that you can do together. I cherish the time with my kids. I’d play outside all day if I could. My son would too. He was in the gym with me last night and asked me to build him a sandbag. He’s not even 3 and he’s already trying to lift our sandbags. He follows my lead. He sees that his parents are active and he wants to join in on the fun. When you lead, your kids will follow.
Another common excuse is lack of knowledge regarding various health related topics. I don’t buy into this excuse one bit however. I have no sympathy for parents who complain that they don’t know what foods are healthy for their children. Does the word “Google” ring a bell? How about you turn off American Idol and instead do some research regarding your child’s health? Bookstores are also great. You can even go to the library and check out books for free!
No one really knows anything about being a parent until it happens. There isn’t an instructional book that you can follow step by step. My wife and I read everything that we can find regarding the development of our children (ex. cognitive, social, physical, etc.). Infants aren’t able to make decisions on their own. We as parents must assume the role.
If you have time to make a child, you better have time to take care of the child. No one is born with answers. Parents need to actively search for answers. If my kid has a problem and I don’t know how to fix it, you can be damn sure that I will not stop looking until I can.
Lastly, I’ve never seen a child become obese overnight. It’s a gradual process. It’s not as if obesity breaks out like a rash. It takes time. Parents have the ability (and time) to make changes before obesity robs their children of their health and vitality.
We need to stop coddling ignorant parents as if they were the toddlers. Parents need to step up to the plate and stop making excuses. I’m beyond disgusted with this entire topic. I can’t imagine where we’ll be in another 20 years. I can only hope that my prediction is wrong.56 comments
Below is a video that includes still images of several strength athletes from past eras.
For those interested, the video creator has listed photo references within the Youtube description. Among the list includes one of my favorite sites (Sandowplus).
The Old School
I often reference material from the Sandow Plus site. As I’ve said before, many of the greatest strength discoveries came long before our time. Contrary to what today’s market would like you to believe, strength isn’t new. In fact, many of the feats performed by past strength athletes are seldom replicated today.
This assertion will surprise certain readers. We live in a fast paced world where technological breakthroughs occur each day. It isn’t uncommon for us to assume that everything we are doing now is better than how it used to be done. The industry then plays into this belief. Everyone wants fast results, so the market attempts to satisfy this demand. It is more profitable to fulfill a need, rather than telling the truth. A quick Google search is all that is necessary to confirm my beliefs. It took a matter of seconds for me to find programs promising rapid strength gains, rapid weight loss, and 30 day miracles.
It isn’t marketable to suggest that you’ll need years to develop impressive results. Who wants to wait years when a supplement or book says that we can do it in weeks?
Unfortunately, so-called breakthroughs are often everything but new. More often than not, we discover that what’s new is old, and what’s old is new, again and again. Take a look through Sandowplus.co.uk and you’ll find almost every exercise from today’s era has been performed for longer than you’ve been alive.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t strive to improve on the past, but rather a reminder that the wheel has already been invented. I’m also not suggesting that you can’t make gains in a short period of time. I am however suggesting that impressive gains take time. It is important to approach your training with this understanding. I encourage ambition, but I also encourage realism.
Real strength requires strong ligaments and tendons. The process doesn’t take place in a week or a month. Real time must be invested for real strength. The old time strength athletes were patient. Legends weren’t built in weeks or months. They were developed over years of consistent and focused work.
Furthermore, let’s not forget that the amazing strength feats from the past occurred long before the multimillion dollar supplement industry existed. I’m not suggesting that supplementation cannot be useful, but don’t be fooled to believe that you need certain products to improve. Need is an overused word in today’s industry. All that you need is an intelligent, consistent, dedicated, and patient effort.
The Modern Industry
Today’s industry would like you to think otherwise. Quick results are often promised. If a particular program doesn’t offer quick results, the user abandons it as fast as he found it. This cycle often continues over and over again. Program jumpers hop from program to program, ignorant to the fact that their inability to see something through is the real problem. It isn’t actually their fault however. The industry has brainwashed many to believe that serious results can come overnight.
I receive hundreds of emails each week, so I have a general idea of what many are thinking. Last night, I had 17 year old athlete email me in frustration. He’s been lifting with his team and is upset with his lack of progress. After inquiring about his program, I soon realized that he’s only been lifting for one month. That’s right… just one month!!!
He wanted to know what supplements he could take to speed his gains. I wish I could say that his email was unusual, but I’ve actually grown accustomed to it. He’s one of many victims to the marketing powers that exist among us. He isn’t the first to fall into the trap. In his mind, if he isn’t ripping through new shirts in 30 days, something must be wrong.
The World Has Changed
I’m only in my 30′s and the world has already changed significantly since my time as a child. I didn’t know what the Internet was until I was in college. When we had papers to write, we went to the library. We flipped through old encyclopedias looking for answers. Book reports meant that you actually had to read the book, rather than typing a few search queries on Google.
I still remember when we had rotary phones.
Now I see young kids with cell phones.
Many of the younger readers will be shocked to know that television stations used to go off the air at night. And when the television was on, there weren’t remotes. You’d get a few stations, and you’d manually change the channel by walking to the TV and adjusting the dial. Now, you can sit back and impatiently flip from station to station.
I remember when the Atari 2600 first came out. It’s no wonder why we went outside instead of playing video games.
Yes, the world has changed. We’ve grown used to finding answers while sitting behind the keyboard. We communicate online. We shop online. We perform research online. Almost everything is available through a click of the mouse. We are all used to it. I’m no different. I get irritated when my Internet connection is slow. To think that it’s only been a few years since I was connecting through a slow dial up modem.
Separate The Body From Technology
I welcome the advances in technology, but I realize that the human body must be kept separate from our fast way of thinking. The body isn’t new. We’ve been around for a long time. Real change requires real time. Shortcuts usually turn into dead ends. We can’t gain strength behind the keyboard. You still need to get up and put in the work. The old timers didn’t need any of the fancy gadgets that you’ll find today. Looking back in time is all the proof that you need to determine what you actually do need.
Stay consistent, stay determined, and the results will come. Ironically, slow and steady is often the fastest and most productive route.32 comments
As Youtube video clips become more and more popular, it appears that there has been a simultaneous increase in self-certified exercise form freaks. It is officially time for the form police to return their crack jack badges. I am calling for a worldwide recall.
Just recently, the following video clip was posted to my forum. Within the clip, you will see an absolute beast (Matt Kroczaleski) perform rows with a three hundred pound dumbbell.
Matt Kroczaleski is an accomplished powerlifter with some incredible lifts. He’s squatted over 1000 pounds, benched over 700, and deadlifted over 800. You can read more about him here.
Most members of the forum were blown away by his strength display. Anyone with any experience in any strength related activity will realize how impressive Kroc’s strength truly is. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before the form police came out from hiding.
I had someone email me asking what was so impressive about the video. Rather than offering a written response, I wish I could have instead strapped three hundred pounds to his arm and let him find out for himself. He ridiculed Kroc’s form, and of course had his own suggestions. Such a response is typical from the form police. They almost always include a line such as, “What I would do is…”
No One Cares!
Do these people ever stop to think that no one cares what they would do? I don’t mean to sound rude or offensive, but if someone wanted your opinion, I’m sure they would ask for it. I find it particularly amusing when members of the form police hold down other positions such as armchair quarterbacks or 120 pound 15 year olds who struggle to carry in a few bags of groceries.
These self-appointed know-it-alls are quick to offer advice and suggestions on topics that they don’t understand. If knowledge is power (as suggested by Sir Francis Bacon), these people need to buy a generator.
Despite what some might like you to believe, working out isn’t a sport. Unless you compete in a specific lifting event, no one is keeping score. You don’t get judged on how you pick up a piece of iron or how you perform a pull-up. There are times when you need to go for broke. You bite down and use everything that you have to lift the weight or complete the exercise. Yes, there are benefits to this kind of training!
Just for example, did you ever play tug of war as a kid? Did anyone judge how you pulled the rope? Did your parents comment on strict pulling form? Did they offer advice on controlled pulling to maximally target the latissimus dorsi? Of course not! There was only one thing that mattered and that was pulling as hard as you could to ensure your side won. You clenched down and pulled with every ounce of strength that you had. No one had to tell you to do it. It’s just what you do. You naturally wanted to win!
I knew this even back in the 1970’s at age 3! (I’m pictured in the middle)
And I still know it now…
If you’ve never lifted a significant load the way that Kroc demonstrates, how can you comment on potential pros and cons? It doesn’t make sense. I don’t offer advice to NASA on how they should improve their space shuttle design. I don’t know what I’m talking about. My opinion on the subject is about as useful as pissing into a windstorm.
And please don’t misunderstand this entry. I’m not suggesting that we disregard form entirely and seek out ways to injure ourselves. Conversely, we all need to realize that others often do things for specific reasons that we may not realize or understand. For example, in the video below, Kroc discusses his use of the row and how is has benefited him significantly in terms of improving his deadlift:
Clearly, his use of heavy rows has benefited his performance significantly. Whether the resident expert on a fitness message board approves of his form is irrelevant. No one cares. Improved performance is what truly matters to the competitive athlete. The results don’t lie. Kroc’s results speak volumes to the effectiveness of his training.
Talk Is Cheap
No one wins an argument on the Internet.
To the former form police officers (who have returned their badges), we don’t hold your past against you. We’ve all made mistakes. I simply encourage you to focus your time and energy on yourself. Worry about your goals and needs, and realize that others are likely doing things for different reasons. There is a good chance that you won’t understand these reasons. You don’t walk in another man’s shoes, so you have no idea why another man does what he does. Whether or not you understand doesn’t matter. Athletes don’t do things in the gym to satisfy the form police. Athletes work in the gym to better themselves for specific events. Competition is specific, and working out isn’t a competition.
Athletes don’t argue with each other on the field or inside the ring. Athletes compete. What you do in the gym is often unknown by all spectators. No one cares. Fans come out to see you compete. Differences are settled not through verbal insults, but instead through live competition.
When it comes to training, the ends often justify the means.41 comments
As mentioned here recently, I believe that training should be fun. If you enjoy what you are doing, you’ll bring more passion to the gym. If I truly dislike an exercise or routine, I won’t do it. Why bother? My competitive days are over. There is no reason for me to do something that I dread. There is almost always an infinite list of options that are equally useful.
Fun for me is often a moving target. I regularly shift gears towards new goals. Doing so helps keep the training fresh and challenging, as opposed to dull and monotonous. Considering that I’m only 32 years old, I am hoping to have at least another 50+ years of exercise in me. I can’t imagine doing the same thing day after day for the next 50 years. Variety for me isn’t just about avoidance of plateaus, but perhaps more importantly avoidance of boredom. This isn’t to say that I randomly knock my routine down and start from scratch, but I will make subtle adjustments and changes. I may target a new exercise or perhaps a new variation to an old exercise. I may also reintroduce a movement that I’ve used in the past. For example, I haven’t flipped tires in a few months. There has been too much snow and ice on the ground. I’m itching to use the tires again, but I’ll need to wait until spring. Tire flipping isn’t new to me, but taking a break from the exercise has rekindled my interest.
The shift in gears is similar to the weather here in New England. No matter what season it is, there will always be people waiting for the next season to come. During the cold winter, you can’t wait for the spring. During the spring, you can’t wait to hit the beach in the summer. During the humidity of August, you can’t wait for the fall. After raking leaves in the fall, you can’t wait for the first snowstorm. We are always looking forward to a new season. I often feel the same way about training.
One of my recent additions has been the parallel grip deadlift (using what is often referred to as a trap bar or hex bar). I unexpectedly received the bar as a Christmas gift a little over a year ago. At the time, I had never used such a bar. It was brand new to me. I initially used it for a few weeks, but then put it aside after leaving for training camp with a boxer who was preparing for a bout last year. I was away from home, so didn’t have access to the bar.
I started getting the itch to use the bar again last year however. It’s been an on and off thing for me. I then mentioned using the bar on my forum, and was bombarded with private messages asking why I used the bar. What was the reason? It’s as if there had to be a functional, highly classified, spec-op, Spartan warrior secret for me using the bar.
All I could muster for a response was just because. I’ve been using the bar because I’m enjoying it. It’s new and different for me. I can’t say that using the bar has or hasn’t made me better at anything. I don’t know. I didn’t wake up the day after using the bar with super powers. I work hard no matter what I’m doing, so I rarely notice a major difference from a single movement. All that I know is that I’m better at lifting the bar than I was before I lifted it. Does that even make sense?
Some people didn’t like this response. They needed a reason. WHY ARE YOU DOING IT! Why aren’t you using a regular barbell!
Meanwhile, all I can think is why do you care? Is it really that big a deal? My wife bought me the trap bar as a gift. I picked it up and liked how it felt. You may like red cars and I may like blue cars. I’m not going to run you off the road because we have different preferences. You may like the feel of a barbell, while I personally like the feel of my trap bar. Who cares?
In a few months or years, I may take an interest in traditional deadlifting. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure the time will come when I get bored with the trap bar. It’s just happens to be something that I’m enjoying at the moment. I’ve never spent much time deadlifing, so I’m sure the deadlift bug will hit me again at some point. Perhaps next time it will be with a traditional barbell. If it does, the reason will surely be just because. There is a primal feeling to picking up a heavy weight from the ground. I can now see why people really do enjoy it. It’s fun. My son even enjoys watching it. He says, “Daddy, pick it up.” That’s all the motivation I need!
As for the trap bar, one unique feature (at least the model I have) is that there are two handle options. Below is a video of me pulling 585 pounds. I flipped the handle over on the bar which shortened the range of motion by a few inches. This really made a difference for me. Last week, I had failed on 585 with the handles turned the other way.
My bar holds 6 plates, plus a collar. I can load five 45’s and one 25 (totaling 545 pounds), but the next step up is 585 (six 45’s). I don’t have any 35 pound plates so I can’t jump to 565. Last week I pulled 545, but failed on 585. This week, I turned the handle around and 585 went up nicely. I suppose this means that I need more work on the bottom of the lift. I’m hoping to pull 585 soon with the full range of motion.
I’ve watched some monsters on Youtube pulling 800+ pounds with the trap bar, so that’s motivation for me! I can definitely see how pulling heavy loads can become addictive. And if it isn’t for you, I respect that too. We all have unique interests, and that’s something no one should attempt to change.
Even good old Dr. Seuss could tell you that…
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
And in the words of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (one of my favorite quotes, that I often reference):
“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”
If only more people listened to Jung’s advice…16 comments