Sexy Isn’t Always Better

Did OP deliver?

Sex certainly sells. There are plenty of training websites that put up scantily clad women to accumulate traffic (I’ll prove it today with the images). In fact, some of the most popular days in 70’s Big history include scantily clad ladies. The fact that pictures of me in a speedo compete for that top spot is immaterial.

Sexiness also comes in the form of shouting things at you and using cheap tactics to get you to click on a post. “7 WAYS TO GET STRONGER” or “THE 15 REASONS TO DEADLIFT”. Catch phrases, memes, and slogans result in traffic activity, but they lack substance. The same concept applies to training.

Pick a sport, any sport, step right up. How do the best in the world train for that sport? Neat! Fun! Let’s be like them! Now how should you train for that sport? By the gods, we’ll train just like the experts!

It doesn’t work that way.

The best and strongest competitors in a given sport are that way because they have accumulated years of training. They started at the beginning and toiled away to get where they are. It’s foolish to think that any of us can step in, emulate their program, and experience the same results. We can watch Ray Lewis focusing on plyometrics, agilities, and some dumbbell work and draw the conclusion that those training activities make one of the greatest linebackers ever. Ray developed his genetic talent of strength and power as he grew up, and he maintains those qualities. Now, late in his career, he refines agility and explosiveness with a weighted vest as well as keeps his body healthy. He works on solidifying his overall athleticism because he isn’t weak and lacking power for the sport of football.

Let’s look at two examples that are more relevant to all of us: weightlifting and powerlifting.


There are different successful systems of weightlifting in the world. To simplify, we could look at Russian and Bulgarian training. The Russian system traditionally integrates variety and periodizes the training approach. The Bulgarian system is limited to specific movements done at high intensity with high frequency. Budding weightlifters will see videos, past or present, and are awed at the capacity of Klokov or Süleymanoğlu and immediately want to do what they do. Whenever Klokov does any kind of complex, there is a crashing wave of YouTube videos of novice lifters imitating it. The complex is sexy! Klokov is sexy (no homo BRO)! We must do as he does if we are going to be jacked in a speedo and lift more than 70kg.

This even occurs with the top American lifters. The California Strength or MDUSA crews will train a certain way and everyone follows suit. What’s missed is that even our American lifters, who receive so much scorn from USA haters, have trained and advanced to a level in which they can actually handle their programming. That means that the recreational, beginner, and early intermediate lifters of the world have no business trying to follow their program in the same way that they shouldn’t emulate stone cold Bulgarian or Russian programming styles. It’ll just result in the lifter doing too much when a simple 3 or 4 days-a-week program with a basic approach will suffice.


The same thing occurs in powerlifting. Some of the strongest guys in the world are lifting at Westside Barbell, one of the most badass training environments with a badass program. However, in order to train at Westside a guy or girl has to be exceptionally strong already. They have to advanc enough to be worthy of acceptance. Westside’s specific approach is designed for the most advanced powerlifters in the world. To think that it applies to a beginner crowd is clearly a mistake. Does that mean that Westside, or any advanced training approach, can’t be broken down into concepts that can be applied to beginners? Of course not, but that’s not what the training public does. They see bands, chain, boards, sumo variations, wide grips, and boxes and throw them into their training. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen videos of weak people benching 200 with chains or box squatting 300.

The same goes for weightlifting. Trainees will jump into 6-day-a-week programs and squat to max every day. If some training is good, then more training is better! If regular powerlifting is good, then powerlifting with a bunch of random-ass tools and equipment will be better! It’s so fucking sexy.

Potential customers of crazy programming in weightlifting or crazy equipment in powerlifting have to keep in mind several things. First, they are not advanced. You can’t just skip ten years of stress-recovery-adaptation, sorry. Second, they are not on performance enhancement drugs. Most of the best guys in the world are using. Again, I don’t care that they are, but it’s an incredibly important distinction to make when you look at their programming. But keep in mind that even if you are on drugs, you still don’t have the training advancement (the stress-adaptation) of a guy who has been lifting since he was 9 years old. Drugs help with recovery, but they don’t let you jump right into the extremely advanced realm.

Simple programs will always out-weigh complicated programs, especially for weak or beginning lifters. There’s a whole generation of guys out there who don’t make a lot of money because all they say is, “Do less. Be simple. Rest hard.” I’ll point out that the principles in The Texas Method: Advanced are still quite simple. Each lift in training uses the same mechanics as in the meet. Work is distributed across the week, the lifter goes heavy, and he won’t use a bunch of weird exercises or equipment to get there. Because he doesn’t need to yet. The last chapter in the book provides some options of where we’ll go with the programming, and those options include using the slingshot, bands, chains, and maybe a box. However, we’re just throwing these new methods in with the same mechanics because there’s no sense in using different mechanics in training from the meet until we need to.

Take a look at your programming. Is it overly complicated? You’re either trying to do too much for too many goals or you’re trying to emulate a sexy lifter, programming style, or use of equipment. Sex certainly sold you something, but is it providing quality gains? At the end of the day, you can’t ignore the stress-adaptation cycle, even if the alternative is hotter and sexier than a simple and efficient program.

Equipment Matters

Chris deadlifted heavy at the 70’s Big Seminar this past weekend at CrossFit Annandale. He’s about six weeks out from Nationals and is still coming back from an injury to his back. He was disappointed that he didn’t get the double, yet there are some factors that influenced it.

CrossFit Annandale has a pretty cool barbell club, some nice strongman equipment, and lots of accessory tools (fat grips, sleds, etc.). However, they don’t yet have a power bar (at least one will be purchased soon, so get off it). The bar Chris was using in the video and during his warm-ups is just a standard “econo bar” that most CrossFit facilities purchase. They are optimal for the lightly loaded conditioning workouts aside from being economical.

Different kinds of barbells have different levels of tensile and yield strengths. Power bars are going to be more stiff (with a 29mm circumference) and can handle a lot more weight while Oly bars are going to be more whippy (with a 28mm circumference). A good Oly bar will make the difference between a snappy or sloppy jerk. In slower powerlifting movements, having whip on the bar is terrible because it produces a constant vibration on the bar throughout the movement. While a power bar will stay solid and not have much, if any, oscillation, a cheaper bar will vibrate subtly. This makes the movement more difficult; the bar is essentially moving around in the lifter’s hands on a deadlift. To add more weirdness, Chris had to use 100 pound plates to get enough weight on the bar. Most CrossFit facilities don’t have any iron plates at all, but CF Annandale has a good stash, just not enough to have 7 on each side (to make 675 on the bar). 100 pound iron plates theoretically shouldn’t have an effect on a good bar, but they will make a cheap bar even more wobbly because of the uneven distribution of load. That and Chris put them on as the third plate instead of putting them on first (I think this would have an effect, but I don’t have personal experience with it).

The bar oscillation was easy to see when Chris warmed up with anything over 405. It’s analogous to lifting with chains hanging off the end of the bar; Chris has to use more force and energy to stabilize against the extraneous forces. I think that if he had better equipment that he would have had a shot at the second rep at 675. Yet he still got a 96% of 1RM rep in and accumulated the same tonnage as when he did 655×2 in January (his last warm-up of 635 added with 675 makes the same tonnage of 1310) — the tonnage doesn’t paint the whole picture, but my point is that it wasn’t a worthless session.

If you train at or own a CrossFit facility, or any strength training gym, take note of the how much a good bar can help your training. It will allow you to hit heavier loads with greater efficiency in training to result in better meet/competition performances.

Nolan to Worlds

Quick post today due to travelling.

70’s Big reader Nolan Power has gone to Sweden for the first ever IPF Raw World Championships. He decided to cut down to the 93kg class (the weight classes are different nowadays in the IPF). You can read his post about his planned attempts HERE; it’s part of his training log. The stream for the meet is in the post, and he lifts some time on Friday. Good luck, Matt.

I just learned this morning that Chris is now considered the first place winner in the 120+ weight class from the 2012 NAPF Raw Challenge that occurred at The Arnold Sports Festival in March. This means that he won his first international IPF meet, and it also means he is the North American Champion! The guy who won the weight class tested positive for some kind of PED, so he was disqualified.

To celebrate, here is a video of how Chris trains bench press:

In case you missed them in the Facebook/Twitter feeds, here are some videos of Mike and Chris training recently. Mike squats 530×3 pretty easily and then reverse band deadlifts 615×6; Chris rack pulls up to 675×3 about a month and a half after injuring his lower back. Oh, and this video was part of Chris’ “rehab” of working back into things; I’m linking it cause Mike says something funny at the end.

If you’re still hankering for more vids, then review the “hip torque” concept: