Veteran’s Day 2015

In Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, the Terran Federation is a limited democracy in which full citizenship comes with a price. Earning citizenship and suffrage — the right to vote — was accomplished by two years of voluntary Federal Service. The concept that a society be made of people who have contributed to their country and government was important to Heinlein, who served in the Navy after graduating from the Naval Academy. Earning a voice in government, in Heinlein’s eyes, is better than anyone “who is 18 years old and has a body temperature near 37 °C.”

The idea that veterans are deeply rewarded for their sacrifice is an admirable one; something that would inspire appreciation for gained freedoms and instill a foundation of work ethic. In our society, veterans make analogous sacrifices. First, they pledge an allegiance to uphold the longstanding tradition of morals and honor of their respective country. Second, they knowingly surrender various birth-given rights and are held to a higher standard for their actions. Third, they play their specific role in an organization that provides and maintains the security of freedom for all countrymen. And fourth, they do so with meager compensation and the occasional “thank you.”

Some might say that the veteran has chosen their fate; their own volition led them into their job just as a civilian has chosen theirs. Yet the difference is that veteran made that decision knowing what was at stake. The Airman who works on jets or the Ranger who puts two rounds into an extremist consciously made a decision that subjects them to the needs of their respective branch. They chose to reduce their freedom so that you and I can under appreciate ours.

Many of you will feel noble on these holidays by publicly saying, “Thank you, troops,” but words are dust; they usually blow away with time. I won’t spin tales of heroes, sacrifice, and death. I won’t ask you to thank anyone or give a donation. All I ask is that you live honorably. Most service members believe this country is worth enduring a lot of shitty situations. There’s an idea that despite our flaws, America is an amazing place to live full of righteous people who work hard and have personal responsibility.

Do not let them down; live honorably. Convince the families of the fallen that their loss was worth it. Convince the service members who still toil that their effort is worth it. Take responsibility of your life and actions, respect others, and never, ever stop trying to succeed. Teach others how to do the same.

The only true memorial is to live this way, to live honorably. Everything else is an obligatory charade.

Thank you to current and past veterans for making the choice to serve your country at the expense of limiting the most important values of all: freedom and liberty.

No Secrets

I’ve been away for a bit, and when I look around at the realm of strength and conditioning,  I see the good and bad.

The good? The training population swells with eager trainees aiming for a bigger deadlift, a beautiful snatch, or a better metabolic engine. We have awesome lifters in USAW, raw powerlifting is surging, and thousands of people train instead of fiddling around with exercise. This is good.

The bad? Everybody’s an expert. Strength and conditioning is interesting because if a guy is good at doing it, he is not automatically good at teaching it. Athlete X accomplishes Y and then opens up shop for consultations and seminars. I’m not saying there isn’t room in the market, but a lack of knowledge in physiology, anatomy, metabolism, programming, etc. results in a disservice to the student and customer. This is bad.

It’s rare that any of the new information is profound. Organizing performance training isn’t complicated and there are no secrets. Consider the following:

– Perform large compound strength movements like squat, press, bench, deadlift, row, and pull-ups on a regular basis.

– Address mobility and muscular imbalance/weakness issues.

– Don’t do a stupid amount of volume and avoid most aesthetic-focused programs.

– Understand “met-con” or “high intensity conditioning” does not mean “consisting of retarded shit all the time.”

– Organize the training week to apply stress and give subsequent rest.

– First, specify to your needs, then your wants.

These are the tenets of performance training. Stick to these concepts and you won’t really need a glistening six pack telling you “IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS.” I understand the “How and why?” are your limiting factor. Now that I’ve knocked some rust off, I’m here to help. If I can’t stream the content out, I’ll at least be a bubbling brook.

PEDs at the 2015 CrossFit Games?

Edit: The formula Romano/Roberts used accounts for body fat with the CrossFit competitors. They used a conservative estimate of 9%. 

Last year I wrote “Steroids and CrossFit?“. The article was an extension of my opinion regarding performance enhancement drugs (PEDs) as well as highlighting an article Anthony Roberts and John Romano wrote about the likelihood of PEDs in CrossFit (the original link is broken, but here is an image of their original article). Their article is interesting and provides the context for everything below.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • these guys are experts on PEDs
  • drug tests are very easy to beat
  • testing agencies are mediocre at best, purposely negligent at worse
  • every major sport (including the Olympics) has steroid users
  • given some formulas (backed by research) that look at musculature on a man’s frame, CrossFit competitors fit the mold of steroid use

The formula Roberts and Romano used is as follows:

The FFMI formula taken directly from the Romano/Roberts article.

The FFMI formula taken directly from the Romano/Roberts article.

Roberts and Romano plugged in the stats of the top ten finishers of the 2013 CrossFit Games. The research would indicated anyone with a value of over 25.4 would qualify someone as a potential PED user. They modified the variables in favor of the CF fellas (such as estimating a higher body fat percentage and allowing a cut-off coefficient of 26), and 5 of the top 10 finishers still fell in the “potential user” category.

This doesn’t mean they are using PEDs, it just means the conditions exist that achieving a lean body mass naturally are not probable due to researched norms. In defense of the CF guys, my values placed my coefficient around 25 as well.

Everything up to this point in this article is a recap to get you up to speed. If you’re lost, read both of the linked articles above.

A 70’s Big Reader crunched the numbers from the 2015 CrossFit Games, and here are the results:

2015 calculationsEveryone above the red bar has the bodily parameters for PEDs use. That’s nearly 30 competitors from this year’s CrossFit Games that have a muscularity and height ratio greater than Mr. Universes of years past.

Is CrossFit just like any other sport in that people will use PEDs to gain an advantage? Or is the realm of CrossFit and Strength and Conditioning such that we are making impressive physiques? Do I think that all of them are using? No, but we’d be foolish to assume all of them weren’t.



Hybrid Weightlifting Programs

Everyone wants it all. CrossFit. Powerlifting. Weightlifting. All of it. Well, unfortunately the body doesn’t work like that. The more performance metrics you aim for, the more you limit the development of one of them; this is the concept of specificity in training.

Sometimes you have weightlifters who want to get stronger, jacked. Some times you have lifters wanting to dabble in weightlifting. Sometimes they just want it all. Well, here are a few resources for hybrid weightlifting programs.

I couldn't find out who this is, but it's a sweet pic

I couldn’t find out who this is, but it’s a sweet pic

Pendlay’s Super Total Program

This is Glenn Pendlay’s answer to how he would structure training for both powerlifting and weightlifting. I like the template. It allows for decent squat work, benching, overhead work, and still leaves room for two weightlifting days. The first weightlifting day is lighter and technique oriented while the latter is a heavier day.

70’s Big – Transitioning to Olympic Weightlifting

I wrote this a long time ago for myself and some of my lifters. It’s similar to Pendlay’s program above, but the weightlifting day comes before the strength day. This allows the lifter to be fresh for the quick lifts at the expense of the squatting and pressing. Also, the set/rep scheme for the Olympic lifts is a bit different. The weightlifting sessions are set up where one of the lifts is done with light to medium weight while the other lift is heavy. There are all kinds of different set/rep schemes, including the newer ones from The 70’s Big LP that could be dropped in.

Another note about this template — it’s what I always recommend to strength athletes who are getting into weightlifting. Without fail, they will jump into a program where they snatch and CJ three or more times a week only to run into some kind of joint issue. Whether it’s sore knees, hips, elbows, or shoulders, I see it every time regardless if they are weak or strong. Do yourself a favor and use the “progressive overload” concept of programming and ease into new training.

Another 70’s Big Transition Program — 3x/week

This is just a 3x/week adaptation of the previous 4x/week program.

What are some other hybrid weightlifting programs you’ve used? Have any others to add to the list?


What is 70’s Big?

Maybe you’vee heard of this website, maybe you haven’t. It’s been around for about six years and you may have seen various shenanigans or articles. I find it difficult to articulate what 70’s Big to a new person. It turns into, “Big like guys were in the ’70s, except they were on a lot of D-bol…”

It sounds pretty silly, after all. If it’s not pornographic then what is it? The About section details the long standing mission statement: strength training as a means of performance development resulting in a robustly muscular physique. There’s a key secondary objective: to lift intensely and have a good fucking time doing it.

70’s Big is more about attitude than anything else. Goals will change. If you’re in that “consume and destroy” lifting stage, then you should eat the world. Maintain that for a few years and you’ll turn into a sloppy mess, and that’s just irresponsible. 70’s Big becomes an attitude and mantra for men and women who like to jack steel, get stronger, and overcome adversity. It’s about punching through fear and doing something different. It’s about setting the bar high, taking chances, and persevering through the shitty days, training sessions, or lifts to overcome it all and stand on top, victorious. Sure, it’s about the 405 squat, the 225 press, or the boulder shoulders, but it’s more so about the journey. Those defining moments of turmoil — and how we respond to them — make us who we are. And if you keep pushing with the undying intensity, that, my friends, is 70’s Big.

There was a guy on the Facebook Fan Page who asked, “Why don’t any of the people that run 70’s Big look “70’s Big”?” The answer is obvious: we’re all pussies! I only snatch 125k right now, and there are dudes at my body weight in this country snatching 160k and more. We’re not on steroids and we don’t lift as a profession. I put a premium on athleticism both out of necessity and because I prefer it. AC tries out new lifting sports, Mike works his ass off to become a pro strongman, Chris finds time to train while owning a gym and raising a kid, and Brent coaches, works, and eats a lot of Korean food. But we train hard, are stronger than an average lifter, and — most importantly — push hard and have a god damn good time.

There are a lot of things I aim to teach, but I hope everyone can walk away with the idea that attacking each day with the intensity of a max squat is the only way to live.

Here’s a really old video of all of us pussies living the 70’s Big life — the life worth living (various WFAC folk make an appearance):

Texas Pt. 2 from A.C. on Vimeo.


And an encore, if you’re into that kind of thing.