Guru’s, Arguing, and Biases.

This is something that was on my mind and I felt like writing my feelings down as one or two people may find them entertaining.  Many people in the fitness industry enjoy taking a firm stance on their beliefs.  Whether that be “no one should ever do dips,” “don’t eat fructose,” “don’t eat less than 6 times per day.” Their Procrustean bed seems very comfortable.


One can go on pubmed and search for whatever they want to prove their point, simple confirmation bias.  Even without reading research, everyone suffers from confirmation bias.  If you want to find a study that concludes “training >4x per week led to an increased chance of overtraining syndrome,” I’m sure you could find something.  As a matter of fact, I just typed in “training frequently leads to overtraining syndrome” into Google and generated 4610 results (I’m sure 5% of them are even relevant, but you get the point).  Meanwhile another person can pour over this research, such as  Matt Perryman, and have a whole section of his site devoted to how much you can train without becoming overtrained.


Who do you trust, the researchers’ conclusion, or an individual who reads multiple pieces of research to come to their conclusion?  Due to confirmation bias, the argument over who you should or should not believe can be argued ad nauseam.  There is so much that we don’t know, and to pretend that we do is human nature.  We are built to put facts into place, even if they don’t actually exist. Our mind will simply make inferences for us in order to make sense of shit.


Perhaps you are thinking about losing weight.  You search google for information.  Perhaps low-carbohydrate diet comes up first, you click on it and get to reading.  You like what you read, you think to yourself that would be easy and it would probably work.  Three months later you lost 40 pounds and now you are telling everyone to stop eating carbohydrates to lose weight.  Someone you talk to tells you “that carb restriction is all horseshit, you just have to lower your fat intake.”  Another person tells you “screw that, I love my carbs, I just eat a calorie restriction regardless of the macronutrient composition and I can still lose weight.”  You argue with them incessantly, e-mailing research and anecdotal evidence and you probably won’t change the mind of your antagonist.


So you think to yourself “I don’t get these people.  I ate less carbs and lost weight.  Why would anyone want to lose weight any other way?”  Perhaps you are forgetting that not everyone wants to remove their favourite food and beverages over a period of time in order to lose weight.  They think they can lose weight while still consuming “unhealthy” foods.  The hypothetical low-carb guy can easily say ‘bye’ to these foods without any second thoughts, others can’t.  Learn to live with it!


Apparently, some individuals can’t accept that in the fitness and nutrition field, there are more than one ways to go about things.  There really is!  Coach A might say you can’t train more than 3x per week and boast of a legion of lifters who have gained strength and size.  Coach B might say that you should train everyday and has a small team of athletes who are headed to the Olympics.  Their training is completely different, but both groups are getting results.  Sure the Coach B could have a dick measuring contest with Coach A because his athletes are going to compete against the worlds best whereas his (Coach A’s) athletes are simply weekend warriors who just want to increase their chances of getting laid.


This doesn’t mean that either coach is “right,” they’re using training styles for a different demographics, and it’s working.  Even within a demographic, you might find completely contrasting training methods, and yet they both work!  It’s like nutrition coaches, coach A might have his clients eat 2x/day and coach B has his clients eat 6x/day.  They both have their star clients who lose a bunch of weight, the normal results client, and the client in which nothing works.


What is the point of all this jibber-jabber you ask?  People on the internet need to learn that their Guru or whatever, isn’t God (crazy proposition, I know).  They don’t know everything, they don’t know THE way, and their way isn’t THE only way.  If someone claims these things they’re trying to make money from you, have an enormous ego, are being intentionally ignorant, or some combination of the three.




A Quick Guide to Squatting Daily (Or Just More Frequently)

  I’ve written quite a bit about squatting frequently, but I haven’t really covered much of the specifics of how to implement squatting daily (or just more frequently) over a time period.  Going from squatting once per week, to 7 days a week is a reasonably large shock to your system.  It definitely can be done, but some degree of moderation is needed in order to not feel like a a piece of ‘used’ gum on the bottom of someones shoe.  This guide will show you a few steps you can take in order to squat daily.  From here on out I will refer to squatting daily as merely squatting no less than 3x/week.  Most people would be in shock and awe if you told them you squatted heavy 3x/week, 7x/week is usually thought of as complete madness.


Deadlift and Bench Daily Too?!

First off, some more information on deadlifting everyday in case you are interested.  Bob People’s deadlifted everyday, his best digits were 725 @ a bodyweight of 180 pounds.  Insane.   At one point this is what he was doing on a daily basis for deadlifts: “Dead lift 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 550, 600 all three repetitions each then did 660 once for a new personal record.” (Reprinted from April/May 1952 Issue of Iron Man)   Did I mention he was a farmer, who did manual labour on a daily basis?  I personally have never tried this method, but after deadlifts, I’m usually pretty damn sore the next day.  Perhaps I could train myself to deadlift more frequently, but since it takes about 5 sets just to warm-up for my work sets, I’d be having very long training sessions.


Arguable the best femal powerlifter of all time, Bev Francis would bench everyday.  She’d use a variety of set/rep schemes, then go and crush shit in competition.  The point I’m trying to make is that people have shown the ability to train heavy movements on a daily basis for a long, long time.  I leave you the choice of what to train frequently on.


Personally, I feel that training heavy (I’m referring to above 85% of you 1RM) daily on the bench and deadlift probably would be tough and incredibly time consuming .  You could probably do it, but you’d have to drastically reduce your perceived 1RM in order to make lifts using that high percentage on a daily basis.  I’ve tried benching heavy 3x per week… My shoulders gave me the middle finger and I had to stop benching all together for about a month. Since switching to 2x/week, my shoulders have not bothered me at all.  This means 2x/week works for me.  Others may be able to get away with more, but from my experiences, I wouldn’t really suggest benching heavy more than 2x/week, although speed work could be added if you really wanted to increase frequency for a bigger lift.


As for the deadlift, depending on how sore you get would largely determine what kind of frequency you could use.  Recovery is an adaptation, so you could adapt your recovery to an increased frequency.  If anyone has tried deadlifting (heavy) more than 2x/week let me know how that worked for you in the comments section.  Konstantin Konstantinovs, one of the best deadlifters in the world deadlifts extremely heavy 2-4x/week.  He mixes in pulling off blocks, speed pulls and deficit deadlifts in as well.  KK also squats everyday by the way…



Anyways, I’ve explained that I prefer to deadlift 2-3x week because my deadift sessions can take a while, and I have other shit that I like to get done.  If I could get paid to lift weights, I’d probably work up to deadlifting everyday, but until that happens, I’ll stick with what’s working for me.


Back To Dem Squats

Now, the squat is a lift that people can recover from much quicker than either the deadlift or bench.  I have witnessed this from numerous clients, friends, and colleagues who have messed around with higher frequency squatting.  At first, one may or may not recover well (read: heavy soreness), however, after a short time (a few weeks) this soreness seems to dissipate.  Your recovery ability is improving, and your body is getting ready for another bout of squatting.  Bam.


There are a couple ways to start squatting daily.  You can take the conservative approach (which is my recommendation) or the shotgun approach.  Depending on how nutty you are, I will let you make that decision.  Just be warned, that taking more of a shotgun approach will most likely make you walk like you just dropped the soap last night in a high security prison…


I suggest that you eventually work up to what would be perceived by most to be a shotgun approach, by starting with a conservative approach.  Squatting daily will have it’s ups and downs as your body is not always going to be ‘tuned’ to squat your 1RM everyday.  Some days, you might work up to a heavy single that would be a PR.  The next days you might struggle with your warm-ups and decide that a lower number should be used for your max set.


Here is an example from one of my clients squat session: 135×3, 225×3, 275×1, 295×1, 315×1, 325×1 (tMax), 225×2,2,2,2.  The next session, he feels a little worn down, I can see his rep speed isn’t quite as fast as usual and his depth is lacking a little bit, here is what might occur: 135×3, 225×3, 275×1, 295×1 (tMax), 225×2,2,2,2,2.  I decreased his tMax because he was feeling a little drained, I slightly increased his back-off sets to make up for it.  Some days he might feel like complete crap, and I’ll either just have him work to a lower tMax, or just do back-off sets or speed work.  There really isn’t a set program.  The bulgarians didn’t have a set program either (which is what this is based off by the way)


The Bulgarians, who massacred everyone in weightlifting are currently ranked 4th overall in Olympic medals.  Behind the Soviet Union, China and the US, countries that are literally 100’s of times larger in population than Bulgaria.  Anyways, the main gist of their “program” is squat up to a tMax (which stand for training max, which is lower than competition max.  Training max was a weight that a lifter could hit on a daily basis.  If they felt good one day they’d lift more than their tMax, if they felt like garbage, they’d lift less), then doing back off sets.  There was never a set amount of training percentages or even sets and reps.  You went by autoregulation, which is “a process within many biological systems, resulting from an internal adaptive mechanism that works to adjust (or mitigate) that system’s response to stimuli.”  (Wikipedia)


The modern equivalent of the Bulgarian method has been popularized by John Broz.  He would have his star athletes work to a max, then do “at least 30 reps in either sets of 2, 3, or 5.” (Broz Interview on his star athlete Pat Mendes from **Side note: LOL**)  This is eventually what Mendes was able to do:


Now, the Bulgarian method mentioned above would be perceived as the shotgun approach.  Like I said earlier, perhaps you might consider working up to this rather than going all out to begin with.  Here is what I suggest:

  • Implement squatting into every training session.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be back squats, it can be goblet squats, sumo squats, high-bar squats, low-bar squats, paused squats, box squats, squatting off pins, whatever really tickles your fancy.
  • Start with one heavy day and keep the other days moderate.  I won’t go into particular intensity levels, just use your head.  Day one might be squatting to a tmax, the other days might be working up to a tMax – 50lbs.
  • Use speed days as well if you wish.
  • Pair squats with another exercise to make the session quicker if time is an issue.
  Let’s take a look at what you would do over time to progress to more of a shotgun approach:
  • Begin hitting your tMax multiple times per week.
  • Add backoff sets
  • Increase your tMax – 50 to something like tMax – 25, then work down some more.  Or if this makes more sense: increase the  weights of your lighter tMax (but still try and be conservative).
  • Keep on taking steps until you are hitting a tMax for all your sessions followed by however many back off sets you feel the need for (which can honestly be from 0-20)
  Now you’re a squatting machine, who is hitting a tMax daily. Let’s go over what can be done when you are either moving the bar super fast, or super slow.  We can also cover how to increase your tMax over time to get a bigger squat:
  • If you’ve been hitting your tMax for a few workouts and its starting to move faster, or you are feeling like it’s just getting easy, it may be time to increase your poundages.  I usually like 10 pound jumps, but there is no reason you can’t try going smaller, with 5 lbs.  The time you choose to stick with a tMax is completely dependant on performance and enironmental factors.  There is no set time limit where you are somehow compelled to lift more weight if you aren’t ready.
  • If the weight is moving slowly one day, you simply lower your tMax for that particular training session.  The next day, you will be looking to hit the same tMax as usual.
  • If you are finding you are constantly unable to hit your tMax, you may need to lower your tMax, hit that daily until it get’s easy and then progress again.  Don’t let your ego make you do stupid things.
  I didn’t cover any overtraining business because you know what I think about it.  I will probably go over the overtraining fairy tale in the near future.  Instead of complaining about how it’s not possible for a drug free lifter to squat this much, I have this to say to you: I have been doing it completely drug free for the past 9 months, I have friends and clients who have done it drug free as well and not experienced anything except the occasional staleness.  So instead of complaining about how this won’t work, go out and try it for a month and then make your decision from there.
Get squatting.