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Strongman Life: Kilted Wisdom

“If your training is not based on peer reviewed research, you are wasting your time.” Saw this posted on Facebook. From a real human, not from one of those bullshit “You must follow this one life hack for perfect abs” posts. Funny how these kinds of posts (or articles along this line) almost always come from people who are not very strong or not very large. And typically neither.

I’ve had to privilege of talking at length with some of the strongest people on the planet. None of them have ever brought up Prilepen’s chart, none of them have quoted Mel Siff, and none of them had a tattoo of Tudor Bompa (unless it was well hidden). Maybe they’re were just guarding their secrets from me and really have that stuff wallpapered all over their rooms and sit around rubbing one out to the works of Verkhoshansky (known as a Verkho-jerk in the trade), but I doubt it.

Now before people start going into fits, hyperventilating and urinating on themselves, I’m not saying this stuff is bad, pointless, or whatever. My point is that the biggest and strongest people on the planet don’t seem to be dogmatic followers of what other people say should be done. They have, to a person, discovered what works for them personally and that doesn’t always mesh with latest trends in fitness. Except for the thigh master. Brian Shaw keeps one in his gym bag at all times. I seen it!

Science and research isn’t the end all and be all of strength training. Why? Because there are too many variables. I pointed this out to someone online, though my point was lost on her. “Oh really? Well, then, please tell me where I can find some studies regarding 40+ year old men weighing over 300 pounds with severe arthritis in both knees and 20 years or more of training experience who are trying to get their overhead press stronger.” She’d quoted a brilliant double-blind crossover study as the proper way to train upper body…a study using untrained college kids as subjects. You don’t have to be an exercise physiology major to know that the training response experienced by a 20-something kid who has never touched a weight in his life has dick all to do with what an older guy with a long training history like myself will get out from that program.

If you’re smart (and if you plan on doing this for a while and actually making progress), science is your starting point and you conduct research on yourself constantly. Over the 20 odd years I’ve been lifting, I’ve tried tons of different things. I followed Arnold’s training programs, Mentzer’s Heavy Duty, Power Factor Training, the 20 rep squat program (aka the squat and milk program), hardgainer programs, Westside, some jacked up Bulgarian thing that had me training 3-4 times per day and damn near killed me, 5/3/1, and many others. Some worked, some didn’t. Some worked and then stopped working. Some aspects still work and have become staples of my training, never to be removed.

In every case, I followed Bruce Lee’s method of taking what is useful and throwing out what is not. And my training is STILL evolving. I still read books and articles by respected people in the field looking for ways to make my training better. I still attend seminars and I still ask people questions when the opportunity presents itself. NOTE: I ask questions, not for someone to write me a full training program for free (it’s called not being a cheap dick). But if something gets added to my routine, it’s not because it was peer-reviewed or because some guru said it was the way to go based on his research or because the ghost of Paul Anderson came down from the heavens and pointed to the link on my screen (that usually only happens when I’m looking through old South Park episodes, anyway). Things get added because I experiment with them and make an honest assessment as to whether or not they actually are working for me. And a very important point – I never add new things at the expense of the important basics that have been proven to work for me over many years. So read, study, learn and then experiment and figure out what works best for you and use it. Don’t just blindly follow along with the latest fad if you ever hope to get really big and/or strong. Well, except for the thigh master.

Random thought: Why is it PRs with a monster bell at a given weight are almost always preceded by smashing yourself in the face and/or the side of the head with said given weight? Is it too much to ask to get a PR without a black eye or concussion first? I’m going to start wearing a helmet when I do that stuff…

Useful advice: Guys, get as huge as you can. Not all guys build a huge, muscular physique to compensate for a small penis, but there is no denying it will help. Don’t believe me? Think on this: Even a toothpick can kill someone with 300 pounds of force behind it. Ladies, this is reason #1 (and probably reasons #2 through #5) why you should pursue a strong guy. On that note, though, if he is huge and does not have a small dick, make sure your insurance is paid up…and that those tires on the wheelchair are properly inflated.

Chris is a strongman promoter and passable masters competitor, having spent his formative years training with Steve Slater. Chris was voted "Whitest Man in South Columbus" for three straight years and was recently named in an injury lawsuit by several Greenpeace volunteers who suffered multiple contusions after trying to drag Chris back into the ocean after he laid down on the beach.


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