If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. I’d never want to be the big guy who was weak, nor would I want to be the impressive lifter pushing big numbers with no physique. One in the absence of the other is, to me, empty. Be as strong as you look and as big as the weights you can move… That is the powerbuilding mandate.
A weight training athlete, especially one not using illicit anabolics, must literally will his body to grow. The body is preprogrammed to maintain a certain homeostatic size. To counter this inborn inclination, one must place their body under such stress and make such a consistent demand that the accumulation of lean mass is determined to be a critical component of survival. The “any means necessary” in the process of creating a guerilla gorilla out of a mere mortal man is the impetus behind this article.
As red blooded post-millennial alpha males, too often we walk around with much pent up aggression… The sort of bottled up piss and vinegar that can generally do more harm than good, unless channeled properly. Years back, my boy Machine characterized what we do as “an alternative to needlepoint”. As a means of extracting productivity from angst and rage, I’d term my exploits in the gym as an alternative to big game hunting or a less criminal substitute for beating the hell out of your neighbor. Pacifism is far easier an ethos to champion when you empty the dark, simmering cess pool of your soul, leaving a daily puddle on the gym floor. Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years, principles to ensure progress, behold The Powerbuilding Precepts…
Diversify Your Portfolio
Every exercise works, every rep range works, every training philosophy works. While the human body is an amazingly intricate and adaptive machine, the process of building muscle is a simple one. Overload your muscles in a targeted, strenuous and unique fashion and then feed and rest enough to optimize the growth response. For the sake of this argument, I pose that muscle tissue is sublime in its stupidity. Where the mind can turn chocolate pudding into nuclear fission, muscle grows and adapts--plain and simple.
The tiny filaments threaded through a red or white muscle fiber don’t know Doggcrapp from dog shit, they don’t know heavy duty training from heavy metal music. They know fatigue and pain, they know rest and recovery. Utilize this vast available arsenal to the best of your ability. Don’t let any apparatus in your gym collect dust. Let go of the ethos you’re married to and fucking train hard. Supersets, drop sets, circuits. Barbells, dumbbells, machines and cables. Singles, doubles, 50 rep sets. It all fucking works and it works well, but none of it works forever. Tax your muscles, train heavy, test your endurance and call it a fucking day. Be efficient, be thorough and be open-minded. In this sense, powerbuilding is the anti-philosophy of training. The only style of training I’m loyal to is hard training. The only system I pledge allegiance to is the one that will help me grow today.
Support gear exists for a reason. That reason, is that contrary to popular opinion, we are not, in fact, bulletproof. I’m sprinting toward my third decade on this planet and I’m more than 12 years deep in this game. I don’t miss workouts, so you do the fucking math. Train your fucking ass off long enough and train around enough injuries and you’ll discover the need for a little help. This is not an excuse to be the genius walking on the treadmill with his belt and gloves, but here is how and where I employ the use of the necessary support gear. On back and legs, for my heaviest compound movements I use my belt. I’ll also break it out for often overlooked classics like the standing military press. The only other gear I use regularly are my wrist wraps. I use my 24” wrist wraps on all heavy pressing movements for chest and delts as well as for most of my arm training. Wake up enough mornings with your joints feeling like you were run over by a cement truck and you’ll see the light. Let my pain save you some of your own.
Live to Fight Another Day
The only training session that is as important to me as the one I’m in the midst of is my next one. Consistency and the ability to string together weeks, months and years of meaningful workouts is the absolute most important element in surpassing your limitations and leaving your peers in the dust. In this sense you’ve gotta train intelligently. It is a cliché, but listen to your body. Know the difference between half stepping it and playing it smart. There is no excuse for a lack of effort, but caution is preferable to rash bravery. Train around injuries, alternate high rep weeks with the sessions where you max out. My ego is responsible for the man I am today, but I do check my pride. Pride will get a motherfucker hurt. Where the average onlooker is concerned with how much I’m lifting today, I’m preoccupied with how much I’m lifting tomorrow. Where the next guy is comparing himself to me, I’m comparing myself now to where I’ll be next week. Bigger than yesterday, smaller than tomorrow. Always. Believe that.
Heavy is Relative
225, 315, 405 whatever. Yeah these benchmark digits come to mean a lot to us, the few warriors in this arena. They are, however, just numbers. I’m guilty of that shit too, waiting for somebody to powder my nuts cuz I did 20 reps of whatever the fuck on the bench. Big fucking deal. It is all relative. Heavy training is critical to the growth of thick, dense, enduring muscle. But heavy training for you, heavy training for me, heavy training for Sam Byrd and heavy training for your uncle Ned ain’t all the same thing in terms of numbers. However, it is exactly the same from an experiential perspective. The real shit, the shit that makes you grow hurts. No way around that. It is scary. It gives you the cold sweats. It strains your organs, making you feel like your guts are gonna leak outta your butthole or your brains are gonna stream outta your nose. If you’re benching 500 lbs and it doesn’t make you feel like you’re gonna die, guess what playboy? You ain’t training heavy.
Just a few more verses from the gutter for my boys to ponder. Do with them as you please, but by all means use them for good and not evil. There are a whole lotta scandalous, shady, motherfuckers in this game looking to take what we live for and turn a profit from our blood, sweat and tears… Looking to lead the youth astray and sell them a pipe dream. Not on our watch. Not while I’m here. We’re here to illuminate the path blazed for us long ago, to set an example. To show the way. To do what is right, even though what is right is rarely easy. When I speak to you of our challenge, I reference larger concepts and write in grandiose terms worthy of the greatest journey and the most epic struggle. Because after all, we do what we do because we must. We do what we do to survive. The rest of the world just lifts fucking weights…