If you’ve read my site at all you may be familiar with some this all ready. However, I wasn’t always the incredibly smart gentleman who stands before you. I, like you, am constantly learning. Deleting things that don’t work from my mental inventory and adding new tidbits of information for me to test on clients and myself. Here is a small sampling of 5 things I held as high as the Pope holds the word of God.
This blog post will discuss my thought processes of why I believed said “fact,” and what occurred in order for me to challenge these truths.
1. Nutrient Timing
For so many years I was fed this crap and ate it all up. If I didn’t eat before training I’d have fodder to blame my shitty workout on something. Get this, if didn’t have my post-workout meal or shake, I would feel like I wasted a training session… Brutal. It even got to a point where I was drinking some nasty-ass concoction consisting of PowerAde, waxy maize starch, protein, and creatine. It was god-awful.
After fasting for many, many months and being the strongest as I have ever been, I have come to the conclusion that nutrient timing is largely horeshit propagated by the nutrition industry for marketing purposes. The sad thing is, I based much of my views off a book that was very well written, and had a few very notable authors (1 of whom has changed their stance). This goes to show you that you need to keep your eyes open and experiment with new things. It’s simple but not easy…
2. Multiple Meal Frequency To Stay Anabolic.
This is one that still pervades the fitness industry. I’d assume the reason it’s still so rampant is in its’ bodybuilding roots. Pretty much all bodybuilders are semi-psychotic about food. They’ll package all their food so they don’t miss one meal, believing erroneously that they will lose all their gainz if they miss a 500 calorie meal and go without eating for more than 2 hours… Just reading that makes me laugh, but it’s true.
I’ve currently bulked up to 230-234 while eating 2 meals per day. I’m as strong as ever, and leaner than I’ve been before at the same bodyweight. This is just me, so the skeptic in you could say that I am some sort of genetic mutant who can do weird shit without suffering the consequence a mere mortal would if they tried the same. Well, look at Martin Berkhan’s clients, they’ve done excellent things. I have a few clients who do this style of dieting and have enjoyed similar results as well.
Unless you enjoy being anal about eating on a timer and consuming small amounts of food frequently then mess around with you eating frequency to find out what works best for you.
3. Full Body Training Reserved for The Weak and Small.
I feel I used to believe this because you’d rarely see a full-body split out of someone who was big and strong. They’d be doing some sort of split, whether that was upper/lower or more of a traditional bodybuilder split. The main guys who were singing the praises of training the entire body were mainly Chad Waterbury, Alwyn Cosgrove and a few others. These guys weren’t exactly giving Ronnie Coleman or Ed Coan a run for their money in the size and strength department…
So I read, but largely ignored much of what they preached in favour of said upper/lower splits etc. As I began training clients however, training the entire body made more and more sense to me. If you can only make it to the gym 2x per week, there is no reason to not train the entire body during those sessions. As I read more and more and began diving into information on Olympic weightlifting I realized that many of the strongest lifters trained the entire body (albeit with only a few exercises) incredibly frequently.
So I experimented. I started squatting everyday. I then began benching and overhead pressing multiple times per week, challenging the traditional weight training dogma. To my amazement, I not only was able to train like this for a long time, but my lift all increased dramatically. Sure I had to experiment with the exercise selection for full-body sessions (benching heavy more than 2x/week is a no go for me), but I found what worked and have been training this way for the past year religiously.
4. The Inability to Train a Lift Hard Multiple Times Per Week.
This pretty much ties into #3. I had been a huge fan of Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that program, you basically go hard for one set of squat, bench, deadlift, and overhead press once per week. So you train one lift hard once per week. I had been in this mindset for so long that training a lift hard (as in using a high percentage of my 1RM) multiple times per week seemed folly.
Lucky for me, I read an amazing well-written, unreleased book by Matt Perryman that was untitled. I believe he wanted to call it “You Can’t Squat Everyday” or something along those lines. That book really opened my eyes to what the body was capable of doing. I looked for more and more resources to see if perhaps this training style could work for me. I stumbled upon John Broz and the Bulgarian system. Interestingly, perhaps the methods used by many countries much stronger than North America may have been born out of necessity according to Broz:
“Well, the way I really think about it is this: There are two forms of motivation. There’s motivation from desire, and there’s motivation from necessity, and if you’re coming from point of desire, it can always change — day by day, minute by minute: “Yeah, I want to lose weight, oh there’s a candy bar, it looks really good. Maybe I’ll eat this.” Your desire can fluctuate, so the problem with that is you float above or below the line of success all the time.
But, if you’re coming from a point of necessity, you can’t fail because you never see that as an option. You won’t allow yourself to fail. So when you look at things from point of necessity — “I must do this. I don’t have an option” — you can’t fail. Those people always succeed.
“I want, I want” is different than, “I need. I know I have to.” If you come from a poor country, and you must do this to support your family and have a place to live, or they’re going to execute your family or provide food to eat, you’re going to train when you don’t want to train. You’re going to hate your coach just like you hate your job, but you’re going to go to work and you’re going to try as hard as you can because you have to. It’s not a choice.
The problem here in this country is people are hobbyists. They want to be great: “I would love to do this. I want to make a team.” Yeah, you want. You don’t need to, and that’s the difference. If I asked you this simple question — it’s been all over the net, I think Bret Contreras even posted it in his article about me — but if you said, “Hey, if you were on an island, and everything was paradise and you could train whenever you wanted, how often would you train?” Everyone basically spouts the information that has been brainwashed with: “I would train three days a week. I would max once every so often.”
Now, you’re in the cell. You’re locked up. Everyone you love will be executed if you don’t hit a certain weight by a certain date. Are you going to still train three days a week?
“No, I’ll train every day.”
“Because, well, I have to.”
“Well, no shit.”
If you have to, now it’s different.”
John learned 20+ years ago to train a few lifts as hard as you can as often as possible and you may become a god among men. He’s used these methods on some of his weightlifting athletes to put up some pretty good numbers. Although the lifts I do are different, I felt the concept wasn’t domain dependent. So I gave it a shot. I trained a lift hard multiple times per week and it paid off.
5. A Program Is Required to Succeed.
Please don’t take this, as “all programs are useless.” They are largely useful for a ton of people who are new, or don’t feel like putting in time and effort into thinking about what they want to do in the gym. Having a program tell you what to do, and when to do it can be great. However, if experimentation is something you desire then don’t feel that you must always stick to a program in order to meet your goals.
For many years I followed strict programs. I got really, really good results. After time, I decided that I wanted to train like a mad man. There really aren’t many programs that require the trainee to go into the gym and train hard 5-7 times per week. So I began reading up on the Bulgarian method. The interesting thing about the Bulgarian method is that there really isn’t a specific program. It’s more of a series of general guidelines: train hard, train often, give a giant middle finger to overtraining, and repeat. Most Internet gurus would assume this wouldn’t work, well as you know, it most certainly does.
Unfortunately for me, there isn’t exactly a program that meets these guidelines. Yes, Sheiko and other programs have crazy high amounts of volume, but the training frequency is only 3x/week. So I found some middle ground. The results were phenomenal: huge PR’s in every lift that matters for me (squat, bench, and deadlift). They keep going up as well. I don’t follow anything specific; I just lift heavy, without failing and do it often. I don’t worry about deloading, peaking or any of that and I have set PR’s on a near constant basis.
This method does require you to know a thing or two about training and have experience in the gym. If you have these qualities, then don’t be afraid to take a plunge and seek out alternatives. I strongly suggest checking out Chaos & Pain to help give ideas on what to do. That site has taught me a lot about what other incredibly strong guys do, believe me, they do things a lot differently than you might expect.