Thank you for joining me here. It’s a hot summer comin’.
That is why i shaved my head. . .
Aerodynamics mean everything. Appearance, nothing.
That was a lie. I am concerned with my appearance. Which is why i began lifting weights initially. My story has been posted here and on other blogs and forums, so please allow me to truncate my history:
I began hitting the weights in the basement at age 13.
Went to the high school weight room for the first time at age 15.
Joined my first gym at 17.
Enlisted in the Marines at 18.
Discovered Pavel’s kettlebell system at 22.
Met Adam Glass at age 30.
Up until i met Pavel i associated strength with size and muscularity. I figured that if dude was big and lean, dude was strong as well. Pavel noted that this was not always the case, and in a nation of “catty beauty queens” [his exact term for modern bodybuilders], few were “as strong as they looked”.
I admired the model in Pavel’s book beyond bodybuilding, Clark Bartram. Marine Corps, fitness author and model, and now sci-fi film actor. He has a great physique and was hanging with Pavel, so he must be strong, too.
I admired Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman, as they were two bodybuilders who Pavel said were strong. As strong as they looked.
Noticing a theme here?
Well, i ‘abandoned’ all cosmetic training in 2005.
This means that i ditched bench pressing, lateral raises, cable rows, calf raises, etc. Anything that did not move me closer to pressing the next heaviest kettlebell or doing more snatches in ten minutes was jettisoned.
6 years later i type this the day after a memorable memorial day, a day after a great post by my friend and coach Adam Glass, and a few months after really, truly, returning to the root of my life as a fitness professional. Yes, this is my life.
Here is what i learned from Pavel that i will not forget: strength is a skill, acquired through practice. Even if someone who touches a weight for the very first time is already relatively strong, they are going to have to practice in order to get stronger. Who guides their practice and what they should do is not for me to say until i meet them and they communicate to me what they desire.
Another thing i will not forget that i learned from Pavel: strength is important. If you asked me as recently as 18 months ago why strength was important i would have told you that “when the world ends you better be able to deadlift your body weight or else you will be cowering in the corner like a little bitch during the zombie apocalypse wishing that you trained Hardstyle”.
Yes, that is what i would have said.
Now, here is the Adam Glass corollary: Performance goals validate our physiques.
So true. The understanding i have of this now is that performance goals are one measure of physique validation. Another could be ‘this guy i train gets a lot of women into bed because he is now confident after gaining 15lbs. of lean mass and dropping 13lbs. of body fat”. Another measure could be ‘she dropped 29lbs. and her hip does not bother her anymore!’
So, if ‘strength’ is defined [by me] as the ability to move against resistance, i am going to tell you that when you say someone is strong, i will ask you to enumerate how they are strong, and maybe even how strong they are.
If you tell me that a guy is small but strong, i will ask you “How is he strong?”
You: “He can deadlift like a sonofa beach ball”.
Me: “Well, how strong is he?”
And that is what i mean. Can he deadlift 405 at 155lbs. body weight? Or, if you are talking about a big dude like me, can he perform a one handed chin up on both arms?
How are you strong, and how strong are you?
Can you run 3 miles in 18:00?
Can you take your damaged hand and restore form to it?
Can you stop partying your life away without Narcotics Anonymous?
Can you ask someone for help in your most dire of situations before you lose your mind?
Or can you just bang away some iron and have sex with as many people as you desire?
All of the aforementioned quantities of strength are impressive to me. So let’s move ahead with the understanding that i am talking about relative strength and the achievement of relative goals.
Or, is someone getting as strong as they can?
Ahhh yes, we have left the Dagobah system and entered Tatooine, where things are bright and clear.
Brett Jones and David Whitley trash frankie Faires, Gym Movement, and applied kinesiology practices directly to my face and say that Adam Glass has lost his mind. They note that ‘not all movement is corrective exercise’ and i input “but they believe it is, if it tests well“.
A collective chuckle ripples across the lunchroom at Dayton’s Bluff rec-center in St. Paul. . .
So i split that meeting, having already known i was going to leave the community, with a clearer idea of why i was leaving that community. And i was so stoked to have been in that meeting, the one where it was decided that Josh Hanagarne would be banned for life from the Dragon Door forum, because Brett Jones said something that i will never forget.
The exchange went from person to person to me, to David Whitely:
‘. . . and he [Adam] says that he even knows when something will test well’ *
To Brett Jones: “And we have returned to the Weider Instinctive Training Principle, it has come full circle!”
Another chuckle ripples. . . .
I veil a smile. . .
*[DW was possibly implying that the psychological component of Gym Movement testing invalidates the physical result. I can’t prove that is what he meant, but if you ask him, he will tell you]
INSTINCTIVE TRAINING Experiment to develop an instinct as to what works best for you. Use your training results along with past experiences to constantly fine-tune your program. Go by feel in the gym: If your biceps just don’t feel like they’ve recovered from the last workout, do another body part that day instead.
How does that sound to you? Callous? Unscholarly? Vein?
I’m sure that even though i was an inflexible prick for years with regard to my training beliefs, i would have never disagreed with this one.
Some ‘top’ people will tell you that your body will lie to you. That may be true. Some people will tell you that you will lie to your body. These two people may not agree with each other, even a bit.
These days, i am willing to budge on just about anything i believe, due to the fact that:
Everything works [for a period of time], and if you want to continue to get better [stronger?], you could ask yourself ‘what am i building here, and what am i sacrificing?’
Or, as frankie Faires taught me that one of his teachers taught him, the question may be “for what purpose, and at what cost?”
So when Adam writes about increasing performance in any given [desired or chosen] arena while concurrently improving physique composition [more muscle, less body fat] he gives some excellent examples.
Himself, and me 😉
Now, while i do not plan to train for the Zombie Apocalypse anymore, i am confident that i will be strong enough to get by when it comes.
And while i do not plan to train to press a 106lb. kettlebell any time soon, i do have performance goals. One of which was posted about here last week, and another is to improve my grip strength, as measured by pinch, crush, lever, and the double overhand axle deadlift. Events that i choose to train for because
A] My coach holds a world record
B] The shit is fun!
C] To have the same aesthetic goals as a catty beauty queen or a greased up beauhunk does not bother me at all, but i would also like to back up my physique by being as strong as i look, getting as strong as i can within a given lift during a given time, and validating my physique.
-Me, to the little hottie with green eyes and brown hair “Hi, my name’s Will, in addition to taking Zumba with my pal Megan K i also lift 383 pounds off the ground with one hand, would you like to salsa with me? Arriba!”
D] Grip training does wonderful, well tested things for pain relief on the tissue in my neck, shoulder, and arm.
E] I work at Trader Joe’s, and i must prevent my wrists and hands from injury by testing movements with Gym Movement and the specificity model in order to keep going forward.
Ah, so there it is. We are here on Tatooine, in the fluid present, where things are bright and clear [and hot]. I have no hair on my head and my trusted Wookie AL is asleep at my feet and we have cranked the air conditioner up today for the first time. I have already scored two intensity PRs with my AM training session and one of my favorite bands is streaming a live performance of their new record [released today] online at 9PM EST.
These goals are mine, and though i have developed them and arrived at them with the aid of countless other people, they remain relative to me and exist to become my future, test my instinct, and to inform my intuition.
Smilin’, stylin’, and buck whilin’,