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Thanks for the advice, but...
Entered on: January 20, 2007 9:00 AM by Ross

So as you all know, Heather and I are expecting our first child in August.  This is all very exciting for us, and I think it's probably almost as exciting for other parents, because people love to give other people advice.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the tips.  But I have to say, what irritates me is the way that nearly every single person somehow thinks that a) I have no idea what to expect and b) they have some special new angle on things.  See, these two ideas are mutually exclusive.  I know that I don't have it all figured out, but at the same time, I have had all kinds of people tell me their own personal horror stories (as well as the good ones) to the point where I'm not hearing anything new anymore.  So how could I not have any idea what to expect? 

The point is, while advice is welcome, this idea that since I'm not a parent yet, all of my views on fatherhood are somehow incomplete or flawed is fucking nuts.  Yes, I know I don't have the experience yet.  But you're not somehow going to impart that onto me in the course of a conversation, so why insist on doing it anyway?  I'll tell you why:  it makes people feel superior to know that they've done it first, and they must believe that sharing their anecdotes will make you a better father, because, hey, it happened to them, it must happen exactly the same way to you.  Even so, they'll still end every conversation with "you have no idea."  Fuck off.

You know why I'm confident in this view and I take all advice with a grain of salt?  Because I've been through it before, when I got married.  I had every married friend of mine tell me their personal experiences with marriage, that I didn't know what I was getting into, blah blah fucking blah.  And you know what?  To a large extent, I did know, because I actually listened to all these different people and figured out what stories tended to be the same and which were just particular to certain people.  Sure, like with this situation, I knew going in that I didn't know everything, and obviously nothing ever ends up exactly like how you thought it would, but to say that I had no idea going in is just fucking ridiculous.  This idea that everyone's experience is identical is so pervasive and wrong, and I've got to speak out against the "NO IDEA-ERS".   

So advice: welcome.  But the next time someone has to nitpick and contradict some point of everything I say about fatherhood because of the simple reason of my inexperience, I'm going to punch them in the face.  It didn't work that way with marriage, and it's not going to fucking work that way here either.   

And it goes without saying:  you will never hear me doing this kind of thing, as long as I live.  For one thing, I never give advice about stuff like this unless I'm asked, and I sure as hell don't pretend that I have some special knowledge that the listener couldn't possibly have heard before or fully comprehend.  

NEWS 395 - 39 Comments
From: Swerb Entered on: January 20, 2007 10:14 AM

What you need to remember, Ross, is that you have got to get the dip tet! The little munchkin can't be without the dip tet!

Seriously, though, I'm relieved to read this because A) I haven't heard a really good Ross Rant in a long time and B) I agree completely. Example: A friend of Stacy's always tends to impart "big sister"-type advice to her unsolicited, and it's condescending, bordering on insult. You almost want to say, "Hello! I have a brain! Look, I'm talking coherently, so it must be functional! Allow me to use it, please!"

My only advice comes from a Dinosaur Jr song lyric: "I got no advice about anything, just fuck it up yourself." Kinda funny, yes, and it's intended to be a reflection of indifference or self-involvement, but on one level, it's true: You'll learn about parenting primarily by YOUR OWN experience. You are not an idiot. You are an intelligent human being, capable and competent. You will not drop the kid on its head or shake it or feed it cyanide because you thought it was strained peas. I'm sure, once you get the baby home and start muddling through the process of raising it, a problem may arise for which you'll seek out advice. The point being, you don't learn to swim by listening to someone explain the mechanics of it to you at the dinner table - that would be a complete waste of time, and irritating to boot.

And if you really had "no idea" about what you're getting into, would you have done it in the first place? It's not like you didn't think about it beforehand, or plan for it, or consider the commitment, or weigh the positives and negatives - or that you don't understand that you're making a decision that will change your fucking life forever! Jeez!

I find that when you're going through a big life change like marriage or parenthood, it's a common topic of discussion, and most people are well-meaning. And while I wasn't the recipient of much (serious) unsolicited advice regarding marriage, there were two things that bugged the shit out of me: 1) "It's going to feel so different after you're married" - even though we'd been together for seven years prior to getting hitched. If that's what you want to believe, fine. But our level of commitment is the same, it's just formalized, and we're wearing rings now, which I got used to over the course of a few days. Discussion over. 2) This one comes after the fact: "How's married life treating you?" Oh, it's awful, Acquaintance at Work Who I'd Never Discuss My Problems With, just terrible. I mean, yesterday, we had an argument about how to squeeze the toothpaste tube, and I almost filed for divorce. What the fuck am I supposed to say? "Fine, thanks," roll my eyes, go back to work, internalize my irritation until it becomes rage, then spend thousands of dollars in therapy...

From: Ross Entered on: January 20, 2007 1:49 PM

I really like the swimming analogy.  I think I'm going to mention that next time just before I throw the punch.

On the plus side of this experience, we got our first decent ultrasound today.  I was shocked to see how active this little bugger was.  As soon as she put the device on Heather's belly, I saw him/her twirling around, rolling over and kicking like crazy.  And it's only about 2 inches long!  Quite amazing.  Here's the pics we got, not that anyone really cares but me...




From: BigFatty Entered on: January 22, 2007 8:44 AM

I hear you guys.....  Ross, the No-Ideaers crack me up for two reasons.  First, you know they had the same treatment with their first kid.  All the advice from their own flock of No-Ideaers.  But, If I can understand them right, they are saying that even THEY had No-Idea what to expect even after all that sage advice.  If that is the case, how can they expect you to be any different?  They certainly are not doing anything different for your benefit, same old stories, same old No Ideaing.....  It is clear to me that this is a viscous circle and Ross, I hate to say this, but they are right then.  You have NO IDEA what you are in for Laughing.  You are doomed to repeat their ignorance and will then do the same thing for Swerb and my benefit.  Which brings me to ....

The second reason they crack me up is THEY really have no idea - no idea how irritating they are.  C'mon, they had the same shit done to them, unless this is some new parent hazing ritual, how could they forget how much they hated hearing the same thing. 

Swerb, I get the Married Life line less often than you, mainly because I am in a foreign country and don't speak the language.  But, I sure get the ample serving of it whenever I call the States.  What really bothered me was soon after the wedding, the question was -"When are you two gonna have kids?"  Good lord!  I have not even washed the socks I got married in yet and they are wondering about kids?  Let me at least finish the wedding plans - send out thank-yous, pay the bills, look at the photos.  Shit, I still am in wedding mode.  Plus, whats the crime in enjoying time with your new spouse?  Shit, I can have kids with anyone, but I can only have one wife (at a time). 

It is these moronic social rituals we get stuck into.  I'll admit, I've been the How's Married Life guy.  But, that is what I'm supposed to say.  You are supposed to say 'Great!'  Then we both move on.  Anything performed differently makes for an uncomfortable situation.  Really, I don't want to hear about your toothpaste fight.  (Unless it was in the nude and you have pictures of your wife slathered in toothpaste).  Why is it we say hello to co-workers in the morning, and if we happen to pass them in the hall later in the day, we feel like we need to greet each other again?  We feel like a moron doing these rituals, but if you don't do them, you look like a moron and don't fit in too well.  Its stupid. 

From: BigFatty Entered on: January 22, 2007 8:55 AM
AH Ross, you are becoming the typical, proud parent!  You crack me up!.  I'll be doing the same thing I'm sure.  Emailing pics to me is fine, just don't be one of those couples that want to share their birthing video.  Oh, another thing I don't like is when my friends give me school pictures of their kids.  What do they expect me to do with them?  Put them in my photo album I don't have?  Join a scrapbooking club so I can start a new page every year a get pictures of their kids.  I started to get a fair amount of them from many people.  At first, I threw them in a box, feeling guilty of even thinking of tossing them.  After getting a fair amount, I started getting angry at the pics for cluttering my life.  I realize it is important for my friends to share their pride and joy.  That is why I thank them for the pics and say how nice and big they are getting.  Now, when I get home, they go straight in the garbage.  No offense to anyone.  I like your kids, I just don't need any pics of them.  I'll wait until the girls are 18 and then I'll check out their photos in Playboy.
From: Ross Entered on: January 22, 2007 9:22 AM

Well Fatty I think you kind of got yourself off-topic with all the ranting, but who am I to criticize?  I don't think the who "you have no idea" thing is as much a social ritual as it is just people wanting to act like they know something you don't.  Maybe that's just my spin on it though.  

As for the pics of kids, agree.  No one gives me any because they probably feel that I would throw them away anyway.  We do get a lot of those kinds of Christmas cards with kids on them, and I think that's fine, and they do end up on the fridge.  I guess I'm too domesticated to complain about that and I'll probably end up doing the same someday.

And with the ultrasound, you have to understand: this isn't just some pic of my kid, this is the very first one!  So yeah, like I said, no one might care too much but me, but hey, I'll convert this whole site into Baby Jackassery if the mood strikes me, so watch out... 

From: BigFatty Entered on: January 22, 2007 9:56 AM
Yeah, I should have split the social ritual into another thread, that was separate from the No-Ideaers.  No criticism with the ultrasound.  I don't mind it on the site, or in an email.  I'll share in your joy in these ways.  Just don't hand me a copy!  Hell, I'm sure when I am a proud, expecting papa, I'll be putting the ultrasound on tee-shirts and giving those to my friends.  By then I'm sure I'll be a Some-Ideaer.
From: Creeko Entered on: January 22, 2007 5:16 PM


Assuming you are sensible and possess a minimal amount of common sense, you are better of than about 80% of the population. If you can manage loving and caring, you'll be up there in the 95 percentile. They say that when a baby is born so is a mother/father. It's a life changing experience, for sure, but it's not rocket science. It's normal to be uncertain at first, especially during the first few days. People who have been through it, in retrospect, appreciate some of the advice that was given to them. Most people are just well wishers and welcoming you to the "club" but you're right to take it with a grain of salt. People have been having babies since the beginning of time and (on the most basic level) not much has changed since then. You'll figure it out. I did, Roche did, your parents did...

Just live it and enjoy it, that's the only advice I have to give. Everything else will work itself out in the wash.

From: Heather Entered on: January 22, 2007 3:50 PM

Thanks Creeko!  I've never met you, but your words put tears in my hormonal eyes!  You are right...we don't know what to expect, but when the times comes, we'll figure it out just like most other parents.

And don't worry Fatty, you will only receive pics through email or on JA.  The only school pics I appreciate are of my nephews and Jordyn.  Some others make it on the fridge, but most end up, as you said, in a box that eventually go in the garbage.  The Christmas pics are a different story and are nice to decorate the fridge for a couple months.


From: Swerb Entered on: January 22, 2007 9:02 PM

Bert, don't think we don't care about your ultrasound pictures. In fact, I expect weekly documentation on the little wiggler until he/she is 18 years old. I hope you're up to the task. 

From: Ross Entered on: January 23, 2007 9:47 AM
I have been informed by one of the fellows who inspired my rant (and who is now also my boss) that I must place an asterisk at the end of the story and disclose the fact that the conversation in question took place in a bar, while we were all inebriated.  Adjust sentiments accordingly.
From: The Bone Entered on: January 23, 2007 11:42 AM
My advice to you is to know everything.*

From: BigFatty Entered on: January 23, 2007 3:38 PM
My advice is 'Guts are life!' *
From: Ross Entered on: January 23, 2007 4:44 PM
I have to say, I have never understood that one.

From: BigFatty Entered on: January 23, 2007 6:25 PM

Neither did anyone.  But notice the asterisk....

On reflection, it went back to a drunken Fatty at Jack's party, talking to this girl.  She was extremely hot, even after having 3 kids.  She was complaining about having a little gut.  Fatty, in his drunken logic tried to explain that her little belly was sexy, because giving birth was what made her a woman, women give life, this belly was an artifact of this.  But what came out was 'Guts are Life!'  Strangely, she could understand the profundity of this statement, nor could anyone else.  

From: The Bone Entered on: February 16, 2007 8:41 PM

Here's some better advice. I ran across this and thought it was fairly interesting. Pretty basic and common sense approach but interesting.

Carnal's treatise on heavy Iron: A Treatise on The Lifting of Heavy Iron

By Taylor C. Wilson

Caveat: I'm a nobody in the irongame. I don't think I know anything, I just want to share what little I've learned with people who haven't learned it yet. The following is mostly for newbies. Read it, or don't. If you do, you'll probably get something out of it regardless of your experience level. A lot of it is shit I've written about before. It's poorly written, and full of errors. It's 6:30 AM as I write this, I've been up all night fucking, but somehow ended up in front of my computer smoking Djarums with this bullshit filling the screen. The following is not a scientific study, it is by no means comprehensive, and is the opinion of a 19 year old powerlifter. What follows has been gleaned from personal experience and conversations within individuals much smarter and more experienced than myself.

Part 1: The Nuts and Bolts: It ain't about biology

The road to massive strength is perilous, and many lack the heart trek down the path to real size and power. They don't have the guts, the balls, the will. If you want to get strong, you need to make a commitment to yourself right now. A commitment to give it your all. A commitment to be tenacious, to let it all hang out in the gym. Lifting heavy weights is a microcosm of the world as a whole. You get out what you put in. There are up's and downs. Somedays you're a god of steel. Otherdays you're a piece of shit who needs to go flog yourself with a phone cord for doing so fucking shitty in the gym. What matters is that you put in the hurt. Don't forget the commitment you made to yourself, and always remember that each time you set foot in the gym is a chance to get bigger, stronger, and more powerful. Do what you will with that opportunity. One thing you must never, ever do, is underestimate yourself, or what you can achieve if you really give it your all. It sounds trite, but it's true. Aim for the stars, and if you put in the effort which such lofty goals deserve, you will likely be successful. Or if not, you will find yourself far beyond where you might have ended up had you settled for more mediocre goals. People will doubt you, put down what you do, but you can't let that shake your confidence. Regardless of who you are outside the weight room, you absolutely must believe in yourself when it's time to get down to business. Your resolve in your abilities must be solid. You are there to lift things that you couldn't lift before. The power to change your body, and who you are is (quite literally) in your hands.

Ok, inspirational self-help bullshit aside, you're gonna miss workouts. Oh well. That opportunity is gone. Forget it, and get ready for your next session. The same is true for workouts where there is just no gas in the tank. I have weeks where I miss weights 50-100lbs under my max. It happens. I get a bit down about it, but you can't let it get under your skin. It's simply the nature of the beast. You take the good with the bad. Savor your victories in the gym and do your best to put your failures behind you.

If you've made an honest commitment to getting big and strong, it means you're going to have to make some sacrifices to accomplish that goal. It might mean missing a night out with some buddies because you have to deadlift the next day. It could involve getting up early to lift before work, or missing some time with the Mrs. to get to bed early so you can get enough rest. Take a look at your lifestyle and pinpoint the things that hinder your training. Early on I realized that my use of hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs would make it impossible for me to train seriously. So that had to stop. A more common hinderance is habitual alcohol use. Alcohol has the potential to completely ruin your training. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not recommending you go XstraightedgeX. Up until a few months ago, I was a two-pack-a-day smoker in addition to my marijuana habit. I decided to quite smoking, mostly because I was already in terrible shape and smoking made my condition even worse. Ok, really it was because I couldn't afford, but fuck off. As of late I've cut way back on my pot smoking (once again mostly due to financial constraints). But the point is, I am continually fixing parts of my life that don't fit in with my goals in the gym. Recently I've been working on getting into better shape, so that I can work harder and longer with heavy weights. It's a real challenge for me because I am a fat slob. But when I am huffing and puffing, I remind myself of the commitment I've made, the time, effort, pain and heart I've poured into accomplishing what I have. It's way too late to turn back, the only direction to go is forward. Even if it's challenging as hell. So I urge you to take a look at you ownr lifestyle. First identify potential roadblocks on your way to accomplishing your goals, then decide how important those roadblocks are to you. Run a cost/benefit analysis. More and more for me personally, no roadblock is making it past the quick pro/con check. I enjoy my old vices less and less because of how they negatively impact my training. Remember though, that while you must make sacrifices, that you should lift to make your life better, not live to make your lifts better.

Part 2: Recovery

Some of you are surely wondering why I've decided to put this ahead of the training section. The answer is simple: training information is everywhere (in fact there is too much information on training) while solid, reliable info on how to recovery properly from demanding workouts is difficult to find. The better you can recover from your workouts, the harder you can train, and the stronger/bigger you'll get. It's important that you take your R&R very seriously, just as seriously as you would your training itself. It's easy, once you know how the game is played.

Food! Eat for fucks sake. Probably the best way to improve your recovery is to increase your food intake. Despite what Flex tells you, the road to bulk is not paved with tuna and oatmeal. Eat like you mean it. I often times eat more in one sitting than a crybaby "hardgainer" eats all goddamn day. When choosing what you eat, the first thing you want to look for is a protein. The more the better. Don't worry about 1 gram per lb of lean mass or any of that bullshit. Chances are if you're reading this, you're not at a level where you even need to consider that. Just get as much protein as you can, especially animal protein. You know like pieces of dead animals. Don't be afraid of fat and carbs either though, those will make you bigger. Here is a partial list of what I consider Growin' Food:

Corned Beef Hash (the grocery stores answer to Anadrol 50)
Chicken (fried, baked, BBQ'd whatever)
Mac and CheesePizza (especially with lots of meat)
Potatoes (mashed, au grattin, red skin, golden, whatever, just shove them down your gullet)

More or less, if it's full of protein, fat and carbs, you want it in your belly.

If you happen to be a skinny fuck naturally, then you can go even crazier. Eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's before you go to sleep. Set your alarm for the middle of the night, get up and down a pre-prepared protein shake and go back to bed. Most ectomorphs who think they're eating a lot aren't eating enough to feed a gerbil. Eat as much as your budget will allow you to. If you have more or less unlimited access to food, eat until you feel sick. When you don't feel sick, eat some more. I'm dead serious. This is especially true if you've got a lot of Growin' Food handy.

The second most important factor in terms of recovery is sleep. Sleep as much as your schedule will allow. If you can get away with sleeping 10 hours a night, fucking do it. If you can catch a nap during the day, take advantage of it. It's not a waste of time, it's not lazy, it's a great way to let your body recover and build some goddamn muscles. Sleeping is a productive activity for a serious lifter. A two hour nap will do you a lot more good for your training than watching the VMA's or whatever trash is on TV. A few simples tips on sleeping:

A. I find playing some relaxing music when I lay down for bed helps me fall asleep faster. I prefer to listen to jazz or light classical, but new age, trance, or whatever chills you out will be just fine.

B. Make sure the room is fucking dark. As dark as you can get it. For years I slept with a light on, and was amazed how much my rest improved when I switched to a pitch black room. It'd be worth your while to invest in some heavy curtains, or at least nail a blanket over your bedroom windows.

C. Relaxation/breathing exercises, while massively femmy, can be a good way for an overworked, stressed lifter to get some rest. I find something as simple as taking deep breath, trying to empty my mind and focusing on my breathing to be very relaxing and helps me get to sleep more quickly.

D. One of the only supplements I hold any stock in is ZMA. It's not the test boosting super-vitamin cocktail it's advertised to be, and drug store vitamins work just as well as fancy supplements. But I do find that taking some zinc and magnesium before bed tends to lend itself to a deeper, more restful sleep.

Recovery workouts or "active rest" are another awesome way to bounce back from demanding workouts. I prefer to use Jumpstretch bands for my recovery workouts, but any light load will work. The basic idea is to do some high rep work to get some blood into the sore/worn out area. For example, a few hours after a hard deadlift session, I might do 4X20 doing "band goodmornings" (one end of the bands around my neck, the other under my feet) with very little rest between sets. Or I might do band tricep pushdowns for 100 total reps after a heavy bench day, band rows after heavy upper back etc. These workouts SHOULD NOT be challenging in the least. They should be easy, but you should feel a slight "pump" in the targeted region. As I previously mentioned, bands are excellent for this type of training, but an empty bar, light DB's or whatever else is just as effective assuming the amount of resistance is low enough.

One recovery method that never fails to make people think I'm nuts is the contrast shower. These are uncomfortable experiences, and for that reason I personally use them sparingly, but they are very effective. Set the shower as hot as you can handle it and let the water run over you for a minute or so (I usually focus on my lower back/hams as this is the area I punish constantly), then switch the water to as cold as you can stand it and let that run for about 30 seconds, then predictably, back to hot. I like to do 4-5 cycles through hot/cold. I usually start with warm/cool and end up with fucking hot as hell/surprised ice isn't coming out of the showerhead. This shit sucks, I'm not gonna lie, but it is exceptionally effective.
If the contrast shower is a bit extreme for you, heat on it's own seems to help a bit too. A very hot shower, lounging in a hot tub or sauna, or even using a heating pad (once again, especially on the hams/low back) have all had positive effects on my recovery. One method I tried recently and enjoyed quite a bit was creating my own po' college student version of a hottub/sauna simply by drawing a super-hot bath, and pulling the shower curtain (on the outside of the tub remember). I got to relax in some hot water (I recommend regularly adding in more water, as hot as you can handle it) and the curtain was enough of a barrier for some steam to build up.

A vigorous massage, even by an untrained individual will also help speed ones recovery along. If you have to rely on a weak handed, non-professional, try looking into a massage tool (and not the kind your old lady keeps hidden under her panties).

If you find yourself sore when it comes time to train again you have two options A. Don't train/go really light or B. Deal with it and get to work. 90% of the time I would advise picking the first option, especially if you are new to lifting. However, as you become more in tune with your body and your training there will be times where you choose to push the envelope and train anyhow. Try the following in that sort of situation: Take some ibuprofen, stretch/warm-up more thoroughly than you would normally, and apply liberal amounts of Icy/Hot, Bengay, Jacks Blue or Pink Heat or any other topical analgesic to the area that's causing trouble.

Part 3: Training

Probably surprising to you, is that training is a lot simpler than you've been led to believe. Training is a fairly straight forward thing for all but the elite. Consistency is the key. Being in the gym on your scheduled workout days, training hard and heavy. Training can be broken down simply enough that even somebody who's never touched a weight in their life could figure out how to get strong. Here are the fundamentals of getting big and strong, so pay attention:

1. Train using multi-joint, "compound" lifts that involve a lot of muscle groups. These are the core of any effective routine. Particularly the "Big Three", the lifts contested in powerlifting meets. The squat, the bench press and the deadlift. There are multitude of other great lifts like bent over rows, chin-ups, overhead presses (standing, seated, barbell, dumbbell etc.). A list of all the useful exercises is far outside the scope of this writing, so I'll leave that for your own discovery. When trying to choose what exercises to include in your routine ask yourself some questions, such as:
-What am I trying to accomplish by performing this lift?
-What is the likelihood of this lift improving what I want it to?
- Is the exercise "safe"? (Yes, training your lower back is safe)
-Is the lift redundant? (Are other lifts doing the same thing as well or better already?)

2. Lift heavy. Put some weight on the bar. I personally prefer to do 1-3 reps on my main lifts (the squat, bench and deadlift). For a novice, 5 reps might be a better starting place. Lifting heavy is hard, and requires a lot of mental toughness. But it's the way strength is built, so butch up and get ready for your worksets to feel like they're going to smash you right through the gym floor.

3. A major reason a lot of people fail to make gains is that they don't add weight to the bar, or struggle to improve. If you did 200X3 on the bench last week, try 205X3 this week, or 200X4. Even 201X3. Some weeks this won't happen, you won't be able to improve. Some weeks you might even have to take a step back and take it easy that workout. On the flip side, there will be days were you are "on" and will find yourself smashing huge PR's left and right. But you must always be looking forward, you must always be striving to do more than you've done before.

4. Keep it simple. The most common mistake beginners make is wanting to do 50 sets on 100 different exercises six days a week. That's a quick way to accomplish absolutely nothing. Stick to the basics, and add in some assistance as you see fit. It's entirely possible to get strong doing 3 different lifts per session, three times a week. If you choose the right lifts and work them hard. Especially if you are new to lifting weights.

5. Put out. This is harder than it sounds. Talk is cheap, really pushing yourself is fucking hard. So learn how to do it. It'll take some time, but eventually you'll learn how to push beyond what you thought you were capable of. Really heavy sets often come down to your will vs. your body's desire to give out and the lingering fear in the back of your mind (which you must do your best to abolish on a permanent basis). Big lifts don't just occur, you have to MAKE them happen.

6. Don't train until failure all the time. It's usually best (especially for a novice) to leave a bit in the tank. If you squat 315X3 and think you could go for a fourth, don't. There are times where it's advantageous to push yourself to your absolute limits, but doing so on a weekly basis will quickly lead to burnout, and probably a regression in training poundages. Your body is only capable of so much, even if you followed the above advice about recovery. This is especially true on assistance work. There is no sense in going buck-wild on some DB presses after you've already done your heavy bench presses. Training should be difficult, but everyone session shouldn't be nightmarish battle between your mind, your body and a piece of heavy metal.

7. There are a bunch of muscles regularly neglected/undertrained by the uninitiated. What's unfortunate for them is that these are the same muscles that are chiefly responsible for great strength. They are: The lower back, the hamstrings, the hips and the glutes. Training these muscles should be of primary importance in your lifting routines. These muscles are trained (generally) with heavy deadlifts, squats, goodmornings and all the variants of those lifts.

8. Put your ego aside, and learn how to perform the lifts with good, rock solid form. This is especially important for the novice, but even seasoned lifters need to spend time improving their form. If you've never lifted before, your main concern should be learning how to execute the important lifts in the proper fashion. As you advance you may find (as I have) that on certain lifts you actually get better results by "cheating" a bit. I do my rows in a semi-sloppy fashion( I "cheat" with my legs and back slightly at the start). This isn't the textbook way of doing them, but it's what's made my back way bigger and stronger.

I have a very simple, basic way of training. It's worked incredibly well for me, and a number of others who've given it an honest try (including at least one woman). Here is the very basic skeleton of how I set up my workouts:

Main lift, usually squat, bench or dead, sometimes a variant there of, such as close grip benches, or deadlifts off pins. I work this lift HEAVY 1-5 reps.
Heavy Assistance. Generally my heavy assistance is a variant of the main lift. Stiff legged deadlifts for example on deadlift day.

After those things are out of the way, it's time for some lighter assistance. Consider the lift you're trying to improve, and also what your individual weaknesses are. You want to cover all your bases by training all the muscles involved in the main lift, but also hit your weak areas especially hard. Here is a super-simple bench workout for somebody with weak triceps:

Bench Press 5X5
Close Grip 3 Board Press 3X5
Incline DB Bench 3X6-12
Tate Presses 3X8-12

This example also illustrates the nature of the main lift/heavy variant idea I usually work off of. The longer you lift, the more liberty you can take w/ adding in extra sets, exercises etc. If you're a total greenhorn, keep it as simple as possible, and remind yourself not to over do things. Below is an example of a three day, powerlifting style split I'd recommend to a novice lifter. It's written exercise first, then sets (which may be a range) then reps (which might also be a range). Here it goes:

Day one: Deadlifts
Deadlifts 5X5
Stiff Legged Deadlifts 3-4X5-8
Bent Over Barbell Rows 4X6
Shrugs 3-4X6-12

Day Two: Bench
Bench Press 5X5
Skull Crushers 3-4X6-8
Overhead Press (seated, standing, dumbbells or barbells) 3-4X6-8
DB Bench Press 3X8-12
Add in an assistance lift for what you consider your weakest area

Day Three: Squats
Squats 5X5
Front Squats 3-4X6
Whatever ham/lowback/quad assistance you'd like, but keep it limited

The above is but a template. An idea of how somebody like me, might lay out a routine for a new lifter interested mainly in size and strength. It can be done as written, but as with any routine, one must consider their own strengths/weaknesses, what lifts they like to perform, what rep range works best for them etc. As a beginner, you might not know any of those things and that's fine. But as time progresses, you will want to customize any routine you use to suit your individual style and needs.

One thing you will encounter, if you haven't already, is the dreaded "plateau". This is when a lifter stops making gains. I'm not talking about a bad day or even a bad week in the gym. If you're relatively new to lifting and you haven't made any gains in three weeks or so (and all other factors are similar) then you've probably hit a plateau. So, what to do? First take a week or two off. Then it's time to bust a plateau's ass. The key to fresh gains is to do something different or new. There are a number of ways of going about this, and they can be used in tandem. The first is to raise or lower your overall volume. If you've been doing heavy triples on the bench, go up to fives, or even up into a much higher rep range and work your way back down. Or try adding in an extra set on the key exercises here and there. You could also gradually introduce a few new assistance lifts into your workouts. Similarly, if you've been really busting your sack in the gym, hitting a lot of exercises hard and heavy, the solution might be to drop an assistance exercise here and there and cut back to a very simple, low volume routine. Another option is to change the lifts you are doing. If you've been using Romanian deadlifts as your DL assistance, try switching to stiff legged deadlifts off a platform. Or if you're stale on the bench press, do some close grip benching for a few weeks. Those are only examples of how the situation might be handled, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Another aspect of training that is absolutely not up for discussion is keeping a workout log. I don't care if it's loose-leaf paper or a book bound in human flesh with paper made of the pulp of Californian redwoods. Just write your fucking workouts down somewhere. At the very least keep track of the weights, sets, reps, and exercises you perform every workout. You should probably date the entries as well. Many people like to keep track of other information also, like time of day, how they felt at the start/end of the workout etc. Keep as much information as you'd like. However you must, MUST keep track of what lifts you've done, and what weights sets/reps you used. This not only allows you to track your progress (and thus see what works for you and what does not) but is also a key to progression. How are you going to lift more than last week if you don't know what you lifted last week? Eh? In addition, it can be a kick to look at old training journals and marvel at how far you've come. You'll find yourself "did I really used to use X weight for close grip benches?!"

The last issue regarding training I want to cover is that it is absolutely essential that you as a lifter set goals for yourself. If you bench 185lbs, start thinking about what you need to do to bench 225 (two plates per side). Once you bench 225, it's time to set another goal. In the past I've done things to remind myself of my goals, like posting signs in my basement gym with the numbers I want on them. Generally in a place where I will see them before performing the lift (perhaps directly opposite my bench, so when I sit down to get ready to set up, I have to look at that number). I also have found that posting pictures of those who lift much more than me, not only keeps me humble, but helps inspire me to pursue my goals with tenacity in my lonely basement gym. In addition to these short-term goals, start thinking about where you'd like to be six months. How much more do you want to be squatting in a year? It's important to have both types of goals. Your short term goals are stepping stones to the big PR's that you dream about. Set your short-term goals in such a way that you can reasonably achieve them, and set your long-term goals high. Never sell yourself short.

Once you set a goal, do whatever it takes to keep that number in the forefront of your brain. When you drift off into a daydream at work or school, you'll no longer be wondering if Brittany shaves her pussy or what car goes 0-60 the fastest, instead you'll be fantasizing about hitting that big squat you've been working so hard for. One way of speeding along progress toward your goals that is not only effective, but fun, is setting up a friendly bet/competition with a fellow lifter who is of your approximate strength. In 2003, I made a bet with an older powerlifter that I could out-total him at an APF meet in mid-December. I trained hard for that meet, and when I felt like slacking I thought about that old bastard beating me, and everyone who doubted me getting to laugh in my face. I didn't live up to my goals for the meet (I expect too much of myself a lot of the time), but I did get a hell of a lot stronger, and I won the fucking bet (and got some cash, and more importantly got to ride a 36 year old man like a pony). Currently (Sept. 04) I have two bets going: One with a grip freak (if he can lift 700lbs with one hand on a special grip-apparatus before I can deadlift 700 the real way) and another with a guy I tied with on grippers at the Michigan Grip Championships (whoever closes the hardest gripper at the Nov. 04 grip comp). Both of these bets have spurred me on to accomplishing what were already goals (pulling 700, closing the #3+). In fact, my gripper strength has taken way off (I've actually closed the #3 once). My deadlift is still sucking, but I'll own his ass yet. Just watch.

Part 4: Supplements

Supplements by and large either A. Don't work at all or B. Don't work nearly as well as their ads promise. My advice for anyone who's been lifting for less than a few years is to completely ignore supplements. You don't need andro, you need to lift some fucking weights and eat some growing food. The only "supplements" I use are whey protein (it's just protein, it's just easier to blend up a shake than cook a steak sometimes), a simple grocery store vitamin, and additional vit c, zinc and magnesium. An extra b-complex vitamin might also be worthwhile, and I may try that in the near future. No creatine, no 1ad, none of that shit. Just food and vitamins. If you're looking for the newest supplement to give your lifting a boost, first kick yourself in the ass for trying to find a quick fix, then remind yourself that getting strong takes hard work, a lot of dedication, and that there are no short cuts. Spend your creatine money on some more food or 45's. If you've been lifting for a while, know all about what it takes to get strong, and have some cash to burn, go ahead and try out some supplements. Hopefully you'll have better luck than most.

The only other information I'd like to add is regarding the use of pre-workout stimulants. My use of such products has been limited to ephedrine and caffeine (and combinations of both). I find them to be very useful on days where I am lacking proper sleep, or for workouts which are of particular importance. I do advise however, that you use stimulants pre-workout sparingly, as they pose some health risk, and can contribute to overtraining (this is advice I should take myself).

Part 5: What Lifting Can Do For You

Ok, so now that you know that getting strong is hard, and it hurts, and takes a lot of time, and a lot of guts you probably don't have, you might be asking: Why should I bother? Well assuming being huge and strong isn't enough of an answer (I can't imagine), let me tell you my story. Five years ago I was a chubby piece of shit with no self esteem, no motivation, and no self discipline. I hadn't done anything even close to athletic since fucking tee-ball. I played n64 and ate Doritos all night. One day my dad came home with a tiny Weider bench, 150lbs worth of standard plates, a shitty bar and a couple little plate loaded dumbbells. I had no idea at that time, but the chincy weight set sitting in the laundry room was going to change my life. I had no clue, that the piddly pile of iron by my moms ironing board was going to transform me completely. In truth the transformation took years, and didn't really start until I was about 16. But the seeds where planted with that Weider bench (that I still own, I have a serious sentimental attachment to it). Pretty soon I started to grow. And not like I'd grown before, not the Doritos congealing around my fucking belly. Every week I would put more weight on the bar and make it happen. Every week I bettered myself. Pretty soon I learned if I lifted every time I was supposed to, and put my heart into my workouts, I could get stronger even faster. In short order, people I hadn't seen in a few years no longer recognized me. This is a journey I'm still on you see. My training is still paying dividends way beyond the physical. I've always struggled with being overweight, but while I'm still fat, I'm jacked, and stronger than almost everyone I meet (excluding of course, when I am in the company of other powerlifters). I'm not tooting my own horn, that's a fact. It's something I worked my ass off to do. Working out gave me the confidence I never had. Lifting has taught me more than any book, summer job, or school teacher ever managed too. Lifting taught me that I am capable of accomplishing what I set my mind too. I remember when I was 15, watching UFC and hearing that Kevin Randleman could squat 600lbs. I was in awe of that weight hoped that someday, I too could squat 600lbs. Four years later, I am a 700lb squatter. Lifting taught me what self discipline was: hauling my tired, ragged ass into my shitty basement gym so I could pump some iron to accomplish something I'd promised myself I would do. Thanks to the lessons I learned in the gym, I went from being a highschool drop-out, to being on the Deans' List. The point I'm trying to make (underneath all that sentimental bullshit) is that heavy lifting is one of the greatest things a man or woman could ever do for themselves. If you put in the hurt, the returns will be greater than you can yet imagine.

Section 6: Carnalisms
There are two topics I'd like to cover here because I have no scientific evidence to back them up. They are however, issues I feel strongly about and would like you consider with an open, unbiased (as possible) mind:
1. Marijuana: I believe that occasional marijuana use can actually help a lifter. Pot is relaxing, and we've already established that relaxation is a good thing for a serious lifter. Weed also greatly boosts the appetite of most who smoke it, and we all know more food=good. Marijuana is also useful in getting to sleep, especially for somebody dealing with a lot of stress in their everyday life. Habitual marijuana use (which I've been guilty of) will however, fuck up your training. Not because it lowers your test or any such bullshit, but because it will indeed as you've been taught to believe, lower your motivation. When I have a fat sack of weed in my drawer, it almost always corresponds with a decrease in the frequency of my training. Let me leave you with this, those of you who yet believe Marijuana is some sort of Green Satan that plans to turn you into a vegi-leather sandal wearing freak with no testosterone: the night before I squatted 700 I was up until 5 AM smoking a boatload of kind cheevas. Food for thought, eh?
2. Sex: A lot of old-timers will have you believe that spilling your seed will somehow pussify you instantly. This is true of the time immediately following sex, and for that reason I choose to abstain from sexual activity prior to any heavy lifting session I might have planned for the day (generally). However, I still feel sex has a lot of benefits for the serious lifter. For one thing, it's excellent active rest for the entire body. A good hard screw is effectively a recovery workout for your entire body. I know my poor, abused posterior chain tends to feel a bit better after romp between the sheets. Secondly, sex can be (as previously mentioned) extremely relaxing. Relaxing, of course, is good. So please, do away with notions of sperm being the secret to your strength, and go fuck your ass off (credit for that phrase goes to Leather Strip)

Section 7: Excuses

Here are a few of the most common bullshit excuses I hear in regards to lifting:

1. I have no time: I lift with people who work 60 hours a week and have a family, if you're less busy than that, you have no reason not to train. If you can't find 3 hours a week to devote to training with heavy weights, then perhaps you had better take a look at your life as a whole. People make time for the things that matter, you follow?
2. I am small and weak: Yes, you probably are, and you shall remain that way unless you start heaving some heavy iron and pouring some growin' food down your fucking throat. Throw any notions of being a "hardgainer" out the window. We've all got problems. So work around them, and start down the road to not being so skinny and weak. That is, by lifting heavy and eating a lot.
3. I am too poor: I'd like to begin by saying that a barbell with 300lbs of plates can be purchased for a tad over $100 at most sporting goods stores. So start scrimping and saving. You can also go over to your local army surplus store and buy a large canvas bag for about $15 dollars, and a few hundred lbs of sand from anywhere (shit you could steal it if you wanted) for a few bucks. Now put the sand in some trash bags, duct tape them shut, put them in the canvas bag, and duct tape it shut. Bingo, there is your new training tool. Carry it, press it, lift it, bear hug it, deadlift it, do whatever you want with it while you save up for your barbell. You can also begin a regime of body weight exercises while you are scrounging for the money to buy your weights (really, how long can it take you to put together $100?). Also, if you attend a highschool or university, there is a really good chance you have free access to some facilities in which you could do some lifting. Shitty or not, something is better than nothing.
4. I want to look like a skinny ***got: You should have stopped reading this when I wrote that shit right at the start about commitment and getting big you dicksucker.
4.A I need to look like a skinny ***got to get girls: If you're relying on your appearance entirely to get you women, then son, you ain't got no game. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I got girls even when I was a fat, transvestite looking 13 year old with Dorito belly. If you can't get laid, you've got other problems besides not looking like a lily livered homo.
5. I have an injured such and such: If you have a real injury, go see a sports doctor. You should do this, because chances are you've been mislead by some health professional, and that has set you up for a life of sedentary wimphood. Chances are, not only would you not injure yourself by lifting weights, but it may very well help correct whatever problem it is you're experiencing. I can't stress enough however, if you have a pre-existing injury, consult a reputable, well informed professional in the field of sports medicine before you start lifting heavy.


From: Jackzilla Entered on: February 16, 2007 10:36 PM
Wow.  I think my computer ran out of memory downloading that post, Bone.  I think I'll wait for the CliffsNotes version.
From: Ross Entered on: February 18, 2007 10:45 AM

Here, I'll summarize it for you Jack.  This is the best part:

I got girls even when I was a fat, transvestite looking 13 year old with Dorito belly. If you can't get laid, you've got other problems besides not looking like a lily livered homo.

From: The Bone Entered on: February 18, 2007 9:22 PM

This quote summarizes my opinion of doctors:

5. I have an injured such and such: If you have a real injury, go see a sports doctor. You should do this, because chances are you've been mislead by some health professional, and that has set you up for a life of sedentary wimphood. Chances are, not only would you not injure yourself by lifting weights, but it may very well help correct whatever problem it is you're experiencing. I can't stress enough however, if you have a pre-existing injury, consult a reputable, well informed professional in the field of sports medicine before you start lifting heavy. 

From: Jackzilla Entered on: February 27, 2007 9:04 PM

As some of you know, Angie & I are pregnant (due August 15).

I propose we start a lil jackassary section for posting baby pics & stories before it takes over the main JA site.

Get on it, Bert. 

From: The Bone Entered on: February 27, 2007 11:11 PM
How'd YOU get pregnant too? Man, I must have been skipping class that day with Roche.
From: Ross Entered on: February 28, 2007 8:07 AM

Congrats, Jack and Angie!

Well, we could do that, but I am thinking of maybe creating something that can hook into Flickr that can pull back photos tagged a certain way, say "baby" or whatever, from whoever on this site wants to register their flickr account.  I could write something that just randomly pulls back a photo every time you load the main page, like the random photo thing, but bigger.  What do you think?

From: BigFatty Entered on: February 28, 2007 1:59 PM
Yup - It is about time for some site enhancements....  This is VERY premature, but the Pee Stick says....... YES (Little Britian Reference).  In fact, since my news was spoiled (I'd like to tell people myself - DAMN YOU ROCHE!)....  There is still another JA member who has not seen Aunt Flo in a while.  It must be a pandemic!  Swerb?????  What is your story?  You still hittin' it?  Its about time you be squirtin out some youngins too.  Don't be left out!  Hit it tonight!
From: Ross Entered on: February 28, 2007 3:52 PM

Congrats, Fats (Confats?), that's great.  Looks like you were up to the devil's bidness (Raising Arizona ref) mighty quick after getting hitched.

We (hopefully) get to find out the gender 3 weeks from today, I'm very excited.  Zills, are you guys planning to find out?  If so, when?  We're due at the exact same time, pretty much.

From: Creeko Entered on: February 28, 2007 4:59 PM

Yerp, Thank's Brohair. That would  be me, er my wife who is pregnant. Nº 2 for us. I must say the second time around iis far less daunting than the first but you never know. I guess we got lucky with the first. Everyone says they would sign on the dotted line if their kid were half as good as our daughter, so I'm half expecting a little Chucky to pop out and start wreakin' havoc and burnin' shit.

We still havent past the 2 month mark so we're not in the clear as of yet, but the pee stik says - all signs point to yes (Magic eight ball ref.)

From: Ross Entered on: February 28, 2007 6:07 PM

Good lord!  Congradulantions to Creeko as well!

From: The Bone Entered on: February 28, 2007 9:07 PM
Good grief, what is this world coming too? Condratulantions everbody, blah blah blah.
From: Jackzilla Entered on: February 28, 2007 10:14 PM
Come on, Bone... all eyes are on you!  From what I've heard from the grapevine, you could have 4-5 kids with different baby-mamas if you play your cards right!
From: The Bone Entered on: March 1, 2007 12:53 AM
Hell, I might  have 4-5 kids already. I never stick around long enough for the DNA check.
From: Ross Entered on: March 21, 2007 4:22 PM

Had the ultrasound today.  The pic says it all (not that I could make heads or tails of this picture, good thing she threw the label on there): 



From: Swerb Entered on: March 21, 2007 4:55 PM

Congrats, Bert and Heather!

P.S. Do not name him Aswipe.

From: BigFatty Entered on: March 21, 2007 4:56 PM

I got my clue from the wording at the top - 'Johnson'.  I didn't see the little banner your boy was holding up.  I swear Johnson, you and your gadgets...

We've had 2 ultrasounds so far.  But, only being 9 weeks along, the only thing our Baby is looking like is its nickname - Smudge.  I have to admit, in the shadows of the current ultrsound, I kinda see a face of a grumpy old man.  Not to mention, I'm reading a shape on the scan as a 48 mm penis - not bad for a 24 mm baby!  I am very impressed, but slightly jealous that the baby now has a larger penis than me.

No, no, forget all that Fatty nonsense.  We have yet to have the gender determined.   It is way too early! 

From: Jackzilla Entered on: March 21, 2007 7:45 PM

Congats, Bert!

We had our ultrasound this week too and it looks like we got ourselves a daughter!  This makes Angie happy (she's made it very clear she favors having a girl) but I have mixed feelings considering the little joke I made with both Fats and Bert.  Let's just say that I've already decided she's not dating til she's at least 30.

What kind of voodoo and Jedi mind tricks are involved in making out these ultrasounds anyway?  I sat for 15-20 minutes watching and listening but I had a hard time seeing anything.  I guess they can do some sweet 3D ultrasound stuff too but it isn't covered by insurance.  I think I'll wait til the kid's out, then we can hit the Sears Photo Shop.

From: Ross Entered on: March 21, 2007 8:47 PM
You had to know that was coming back to haunt you.  I already told Roche that there was a good possibility I'd be turning the tables.   Refer to the current quote!
From: Creeko Entered on: March 22, 2007 2:19 PM

The ultrasound looks best when you see it live. You can see the image shapes and contours better as the magic wand zooms in and out.

 We've decided to have a 3D ultrasound done at 4 months. They're expensive (not covered by insurance) but worth it if you want an intelligable photo of your kid before its born.

From: Ross Entered on: March 22, 2007 5:00 PM
We're going to do the 3-D one too, I think at around 25 weeks.  But hell, I thought the regular ultrasound was pretty fucking sweet.  I could easily tell most of what was going on - tons of good shots of head, hands, feet, heart, spine, etc.  I could see the little guy kicking and waving his arms and whatnot, all very clear.   They have a really amazing machine to do all that stuff with.
From: BigFatty Entered on: March 23, 2007 2:26 PM
Remember, we are in Europe.  Our ultrasound machines involve a tin can and string.
From: Ross Entered on: July 30, 2007 5:34 PM

Well, we had our version attempt today... it failed.  So Logan is still breech.  This means that barring any complications, he'll be delivered via C-section on August 10.  

Everything else is as well as can be expected - keep up to date on all the news by visiting! :) 

From: Swerb Entered on: August 1, 2007 6:02 PM

Good luck with the C-section, Heather... and BTW, I've added the RSS feed to my list. Sweet!

From: Heather Entered on: August 1, 2007 7:08 PM
Thanks, Swerb!  It's not what I had planned, but I guess my days of having control of my own life are about over.

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