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.

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?


CrossFit Good Vibes

Good gyms are hard to come by. Globo gyms should only be used out of necessity given their lack of equipment and attitude. The only reliable option nowadays is a CrossFit gym, but they may require attending one of their classes or have limited schedules.

Luckily, I found CrossFit Good Vibes in Augusta, GA. The owner, Brandon Cunningham, is a nine time Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion. He has a certified 1:17 500m row on the Concept 2 rower, and is a two time Pan American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champion. Above all that, he’s a great guy and let us train however we wanted to in his gym.

125k snatch at CrossFit Good Vibes. Within 7k of lifetime PR

A video posted by 70s_big (@70s_big) on

CrossFit Good Vibes AKA 3B Fitness AKA Gracie Elite Augusta AKA Iron Eagle Barbell Club is a wide open space. On one end, there are platforms worked into the rubber flooring for Olympic weightlifting. There’s a large pull-up rig in the center along with plenty of open floor space. There’s also a 50+ meter turf track for stuff like agility work, pushing the sled, or other shenanigans. The opposite side of the building from the platforms has an open area for CrossFit classes as well as a large matted area for BJJ.

The weightlifting area is equipped with a variety of Pendlay bars and bumpers, and this is where I spent most of my time. There’s a core group of people that lift together. On any given night there will be a nurse, an assistant principal, a former Special Forces soldier, a former NFL receiver, a fire fighter, a geared powerlifter (seen below), and a college student all training together and cheering each other on. For the first time in a long time, I felt at home in a gym.

I ended up hitting some numbers I haven’t hit in a long time. I pressed 205 lbs for 5, snatched 125kg, and clean and jerked 150kg while doing a variety of conditioning workouts in the Augusta summer heat.

I’d like to thank the trainees and coaches (Brandon, Steve, Joe, Tony, etc.) at CrossFit Good Vibes for their hospitality. If you’re near the Georgia and South Carolina border and need a place to train, I suggest giving them a call. They’ll welcome you into their training den and will undoubtedly encourage you to push yourself.

Memorial Day 2015

I typically use the same post every Memorial Day to remind American readers of their freedoms. Every year, families and friends gather to grill meat and wave flags, but getting a day off from work and drinking a beer doesn’t really do justice to those that have lost their lives in service of the United States of America.


A flag from the WTC rubble in 2001.

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, have personal responsibility, and always try to improve.

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. This is not a day if celebration, but of remembrance. Lest we forget.


Times are a changin’.

Folks in times like the Great War did things because they had to. Nowadays most of us privileged, first-world folk get to do things because we want to.

I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.

–John Adams, letter to Abigail, 12 May 1780


Little did Mr. Adams know, people would hide themselves behind glowing screens, living vicariously through the exaggerated deeds of others. Past efforts in politics, war, and commerce provide the freedom to do…or don’t.

But that’s what sets us apart. Every time you step under a bar, you’re doing. Instead of talking or watching, you execute. Every time you look at the distance you’ll sprint or the thing you’ll lift with an honest, healthy fear, you are doing. When you look down at your hands and see grit, callus, and blood, it’s the product of work. The product of life.

You train for a purpose, do you not? Training is nearly synonymous with suffering, because true training is difficult. At times, it’s a giant pain in the ass. The moment is hard when the doubt or fear sets in. The planning is hard when you pass on adult beverages or place head to pillow one hour earlier. But there is purpose to this suffering. Not only for the end result, but the moment of clarity when you burst through the fear or adversity. It’s the small victory, the success in the moment. It’s re-racking or lowering a weight with quivering muscles, the electricity flowing through your body. At the success in the moment. There is purpose to this suffering.

And that’s why we do it.



Update: Today is PR Friday, which is a forum to allow you to share your triumphs and failures with your strength training brethren. How has your training been this week? What questions do you have for 70’s Big or your peers? Talk and mingle. Follow 70’s Big on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.