Monday, August 5, 2013

mass gain

oh the irony...

in all the years i have been training my goal has always to be smaller. my focus has been on strength and power output. recovery ability and work tolerance. my size was simply the packaging, and the less i weighted the less i had to carry around. i loved to push my power to weight ratio. i loved to be underestimated...

when i worked at anytime fitness guys would ask me about mass gain all the time, and frankly i was kind of a dick to most of them. i would ask them why they wanted to get bigger? what were they training for and were they willing to do the work to actually get results? if i was in a particularly pugilistic mood i would ask them what weight they considered "heavy" for a deadlift or a squat... because of this it is a surprise to a lot of the people that i train now that i am embarking on a mass gain program... this post is to explain a bit of the why and how.

why:  short answer - because it will be hard and it will make me uncomfortable. the long answer holds a bit more, but not much... one other part is i hate giving secondhand advice. i hate to tell someone i train that "this is what i have heard". in some cases it is unavoidable. in this case, it is something that i have the opportunity to do, and it was about time i took it. another reason is the self imposed discipline. what most people dont realize about mass gain in the 6-8 hours a week spent in the gym is the easy part. the hours themselves are grueling, but if you cannot push hard for an hour a day then we are going to make that  your goal until further notice - no. the truly hard part is the other 160 hours a week. 10 hours of sleep a night. 5000 calories a day. foam roll. deep tissue work. the support structure to make a meaningful change - especially in a short time - requires absolute commitment. or at least it does if you want to be successful.

i do also have a deep appreciation for the transformation. the experiment. to carve out 2 months and set one goal. to focus and to weigh every decision. to bring your entire will, your very being to bear on a singular outcome - and to see what happens...

 court failure.

how: it should be no surprise to anyone that i am using a plan written by the team over at GYM JONES based on the training they put Henry Cavill through to prep for his recent role as superman. specifically - well, it is not my place to give specifics - but it is about consistent signals. about convincing your body that it will be worth the cost to tack on size. it is about filling out a "sleep journal" every morning. keeping a food journal every day. it is about examining relationships. asking questions. fine tuning.... mostly it is about food and failure. it is about heavy and often. it is about recovering and repeating. and as Rob says, it is also about the fact that there has never been a superhero with narrow shoulders.

force. change.
grind it out. dont quit.

the results. bench press at 135# till failure chased with
strict dead-hang pullups to failure. rest 3:00. 5 rounds.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

being versus becoming

i was going to be somebody - until i decided to become somebody.

i dont know if it is a sign of the times, or the culture we are a part of, or simply the human condition - but the mistaking of a symbol for the meaning, of having and earning, of being and becoming is a mistake that costs us all something.

we see individuals who posses the traits we admire, we try and follow in their footsteps, to seek what they sought. but too often we find shortcuts, we find a way to buy the experience, we act as though the accomplishment is the transformative force as opposed to a symbol of the work that went into it. the goal is arbitrary - it is a husk, a shell. it has served its purpose. to bypass the struggle is to reduce yourself to a spectator. a consumer. and is about as meaningful as pictures of food to the hungry.

i am not explaining it well. i was a smart kid. that is not a boast. it would make as much sense to brag about having freckles or speaking english. maybe it was genetics, maybe it was because my mom read to me every morning or because my dad would take me on walks in the woods only to stop and tell me it was my job to get us back home. school came easy. i didnt have to pay attention. i didnt have to work. i had teachers who would riffle through my desk to find the assignments that i had finished and simply not bothered to turn in. i got A's in classes i liked and B- in classes i didnt (i would get grounded for a C). i coasted. i would work just hard enough. even in college, i was resentful -  i didnt want to jump through the hoops, didnt feel like i needed to prove my intelligence, never felt the need to work. Academia, at the levels i pursued it, did not change me. or, more accurately - i did feel the pull to change for it. it was all set, i was persuing a degree in computer science, the path was simple and without much effort i could have easily finished school, coasted into some mid level job, and continued exactly how i was...

that, was being smart. was inhabiting the comfortable. i did not start to grow until i began to set my sights on things that i could not as yet achieve. i began to work outside my comfort zone, to try things that scared me. i got an idea of the person i wanted to be, noted where i fell short and began the long, slow process of fucking changing. the mark of any good journey is that the person arrives is not the same person who started. we are changed in the seeking. the earning. the struggle. the gym turned into a crucible. a laboratory. a clear cut measure of my will to change.  the goals we set in the gym are often rather arbitrary  - very few people would live a radically different life if they were somehow granted elite levels of strength or endurance. it is the fight, the work and the wanting and the attention to detail. to relationships. for most of us the training, whatever training, is an analog. a vehicle. a carrot we dangle in front of ourselves to encourage the changes we want to make. here, at our gym; there is a reason why allegory is in the fucking description.

becoming is important because in setting these goals. in risk and work and fear and doubt we discover so much, we change and grow. more so, when we finally realize our goal, the joy is momentary. brings more questions and new goals, it is the path. the journey that calls us. that is what others respond to. the hunger of the truly exceptional. the seeming paradox of speaking with such humility while standing in utter confidence. a true journey familiarizes us with our limits. redefines them. in doing so, we are humbled. by fear and failure and doubt. we see how far we want to push ourselves and feel the pain every inch. at the same time, it develops an intimate knowledge of what we are truly capable of. we can respond from fact and history instead of fear and posturing. it earns you the right to be truly confident. to speak from experience and the ever present urge to improve.

this is another half starved workout induced rant, it is spurred out of a sickness of seeing people equating "having" a thing with "becoming" a thing. set goals. lofty, difficult goals. work your ass off to achieve them. push limits. end days with more questions than answers, understand that the short path leaves you as you are, but with a picture of food and an aching belly...

or you can take the long road. the hard road. to arrive as something new, scarred, yes.  but satiated... for a little while anyway...

often times the goal is simply an excuse to tread a new path

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

for the record.

for the record, this is not a "judgement free zone"

every word. every action. someone is watching and forming opinions. and you should be too.

to put it bluntly, if you are fucking up up so badly that you feel it is unfair for me to form an opinion about you based on your words and your actions - i have already made a judgement about your character. who am i to make that judgement? i am the gatekeeper of my own life. i decide who to let in and who to shut out. i decide who to spend my limited time investing in. i will judge every word and every action and constantly weigh and assess your worth to me. what does this mean for you? most likely nothing. for my friends and those who i train - my judgement matters exactly how much i have made it matter. it matters to the extent that i have earned it. what i have proven.

judgement can be a grindstone. defending your decisions honestly against a hostile audience will make you stronger; will show you your weaknesses so you can fix them. it will help you learn, it will force you to confront mistakes in the hope that you will learn from them and move the fuck on.

judgement can be a lodestone. water seeks its own level. judgements only effect us if we let them. through our judgements we form our support structure, our network. with our choices attract and repel individuals in equal measure. we help shape the person we will become by creating the environment in which that person will grow - by dictating the type of people we measure ourselves against.

everyone is entitled to their opinion. we are all ultimately responsible for ourselves, and that includes who we let into our lives. who we let effect us. but on a personal level it comes down to this: are they right or wrong? we can argue tact and intent but if someone, regardless of their competency or intentions, points out a flaw in my character - that is on me. i can accept it or or accept the responsibility to change it. no excuses, no whining, no finger pointing. own it or change it. i will weigh their words against how invested they are in me, how knowledgeable they are, and their intentions in sharing - but ultimately their judgement will either not matter to me, or give me a chance to improve. trust those close to you, but remember that even the most malicious fool can be useful. the key there is useful - do not get bogged down in useless arguments, take the lesson and move on.

instead of berating people seen as judgmental, we should be carrying ourselves in a way where judgement is not as threat. on an individual level, the judgements of others can be one of two things: helpful or irrelevant. surround yourself with people who judge you harshly and often and to your face. people whom you respect. our friends should tell us the truth. should be a little ruthless. should hold us to the highest standard and encourage us to become more than we are, and be the first to tell us where we are fucking up. the confidence that is forged in such a crucible is not a fragile or dainty thing. through judgement, through testing, our sense of self can be honed into a valuable tool. a functional weapon.

a thing of consequence.

Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.

-george rr martin.