T Nation

Kinda Pissed Off - Please Read


#1

Guys you need to understand two things:

  1. One part of my job is to produce educational material (articles) detailing my findings in training. I don’t write something to write something. I write about things I’m doing and are getting me excited. I’m someone who constantly experiments to find ways to build more muscle and when I find something cool I write about it and try to explain WHY it works; even if it might be different from something I believed previously

  2. I have worked with people of all walks of life. Athletes from 28 different sports, pro bodybuilders and average Joes. I do not have a single training philosophy… having a single training philosophy only works if you are working with only one type of individuals. As soon as you begin to work with a wide range of individuals you will need to have a wide range of approaches.

So why be surprised if some of my articles do not say the same thing as other ones? They all present concepts and ideas that worked great for the population it was designed for.
That’s why when I write an article I explain WHY something work, so that you can hopefully draw your own conclusion about if it’s good for you or not.

Now will some of my views changed overtime OF COURSE! The opposite would be a problem. This year alone I learned more about muscle growth than over the previous 10 years of my life. And it was a gradual learning process and experimenting to see how to apply that new knowledge to the real life to get maximum results. My articles are basically the evolution of my experimentations and findings… it’s a looking glass into my brain.

Everything I wrote work because it’s always based on something I actually tried. But as I gain a better understanding of training and how the body works some stuff will change and I’m not sorry for it. But I sometimes get pissed when people question me for actually wanting to continue finding better ways to do things.

So is my new views on proper training differ from my previous articles? Heck ya! And personally I’m so happy because things are now making a lot more sense in my head. That doesn’t make what I did earlier irrelevant. Muy performance stuff is still what I feel is optimal for performance. But I now have a better understanding of how muscle is built in the natural guy with average or below average genetics.

Never stop learning please.


Having a Rethink on Program, Can You Advise Coach?
#2

Was half expecting this after reading the comments over the last few days. You give awesome FREE advice and yet people still complain.

Keep up the great work coach, thanks for all the time you put in here!


#3

Almost surprised you didn’t write this sooner. I don’t remember any other article on T-Nation sparking so much butthurt and useless accusations of being a turncoat etc.

A professional coach giving free advice, writing free articles, programs, training and nutritional strategies and answering a wide array of questions daily? Nah, I’ll still complain.


#4

Well to be honest though, I kinda understand.

First the internet kinda takes the time factor out of the equation. Some people can read two articles that were written 12 years appart and they can’t conceptualize that. Lots of stuff can happen in 10 years! But of you read these two articles a few minutes, hours or even days appart you lose that perspective.

Second a lot of people are looking to articles to get comforted. They are insecure about the training they are doing and they are looking for something, an anchor, to comfort them in what they are doing. I believe that this is one of the reasons why 5/3/1 is doing so well: people are comforted in knowing exactly what they will be up to in 6 or even 12 months. So of course when an author in which they put their thrust for comfort changes some of his views it can rustle some feathers. But I’d rather do that than not evolve as a coach and individual.

Third people don’t understand that you really can’t have ONE training philosophy unless you are working with one type of person only. Which is not my case. I still believe in the same principles that I did when it comes to training for performance but I decided to approach hypertrophy from a different angle.

And of course if someone already has a negative view of someone (I try to help, be nice and get along with all, but nobody can be loved by everybody) the slightest discrepancy will be used to attack the person.

But all that is okay. I get it.

I changed some views because I discovered new things because of my situation; I’m getting older and have health issues, I’m now more like a “normal responder” whereas in the past I might have been more gifted than others. Also I have a new training partner who is 50 years of age and seeing what works for him gives me different clues as to what works than looking at how 20 years old high level athletes or drug using bodybuilders responded to training.


#5

I think people are busy putting other people in boxes. And for some reason, some people get up and about when their little label on the box THEY put YOU in doesn’t fit. See how much it ruffled the feathers when you spoke out about “it’s not about doing the most work in the gym” or similar. For some, that’s identity being challenged there.

We see the same with musicians all the time. If they write the same record year after year more people are happy because they fit in their pre-defined box. If the musicians/bands go and make something new, exciting, innovative they catch a lot of crap. But that’s not entirely true, because the successful ones expand on their existing base.

Your approach to “finding out more” is THE main reason I have followed your work the past 10 years and continue to do so! Also, because it’s not only just to" do new things" for the sake of new, it’s to improve - and no matter - even if that means discarding old ideas you once stood behind. See, even though Rippetoe has good information - why would I keep following his body of work? I can read his book once, and then that’s it. There’s nothing new under the sun.

I also think the reason you have such a success and easier time with “doing it differently” - is because it seems that is what you identify yourself with. It seems you don’t identify yourself with high volume (as you may have done) or some other concept, but identify yourself with improving.

There’s still something to be said about the editorial approach of “THE BEST…” or other usual hyperbole words or phrases “THE BEST… SLABS OF MUSCLE…”, but that’s another thing people should learn to glance over.


#6

x2
Ct, keep on rockin’…!
(Also a 10+year reader)


#7

Thanks for all the advice you give out to all readers


#8

My training is much different then when i was 20, and at 43 my arms are almost as big as when i was doing hammer curls with 120 dumbbells, and close gripping 365x7. Keep it up CT we are not all the same, or have the same goals.


#9

Christian, I really appreciate the way you write. I think you’re one of the few coaches who can write with personal experience to so many different strength (and other) athletes.

As a female who mostly lifts for health and aesthetics, but sometimes goes off on a BIG 3 tangent, wants flexibility for ballet, and would love to have more explosiveness for my newbie Snatch and C+J … I know you aren’t always talking to me in a particular article, but I still often find things that are helpful or that make me think about my programming in a new way.

I appreciate the personal advice you’ve given to me, and to to other people here. You just can’t be discouraged by people who don’t realize that your views naturally evolve over time, and won’t be the same for each demographic. I recently said you remind me a bit of John Meadows in that, in my view, he’s always experimenting with equipment or with some aspect of training. I don’t know him, but I mean that as a compliment.

P.S. Some of this is just the limitations of writing advice for someone you can’t actually see. I’m training with a WLing coach now, and it’s just so fantastic to have someone be right there correcting my form, or writing individual programs to fix my issues. I think sometimes people are frustrated because they hope you can give them really individualized coaching for a problem, and there’s no way you can do that without seeing them in motion in the gym. So often people have postural or other issues that they are unaware of, unless they have a good coach. Part of this frustration is just a limitation of people trying unsuccessfully to apply something that may not really be a good fit for them anyway.


#10

Thanks for posting this, been a big fan of the articles, explanations and posts over the years. More than just the programs themselves the theories behind them have been of tremendous value to me over the years.

One thing that i do want to point out though is that it’s very hard to tell when an article was actually written. If I go to the main page and search for your name, articles like iBodybuilder come up with a post date of 3/25/2016 instead of 5 years ago when it was originally posted. Same deal for something like 6 Weeks to Superhero. Makes it seem as though your philosophy isn’t changing over a period of 10 years but instead over 6 months.

For someone who has read everything you’ve posted over the years this isn’t confusing at all but without knowing some of the articles are re-posts/refreshes of old items it’s less clear.

Also, if you ever have time you should think about making a podcast, I heard you in some interviews over the years and I’m sure it would be a hit!


#11

I’m certainly new here and have only recently started lifting. I came to T-Nation because I didn’t want to go into this thing ignorantly. I’ve read tons of article here, but yours always stand above the rest. This is not to downplay the contributions of the other knowledgeable experts on T-Nation; however, your explanations of WHY things work makes your work stand out.

Yes, ultimately what matters is what works and what doesn’t, and as you’ve pointed out on more than one occasion - results are what matter most. But I’m the kind of person that needs to know WHY things work the way they do. Your constant need to improve and unwillingness to be satisfied with “good enough” in order to strive for excellence come through clearly in your writing. In some small measure, your passion and drive inspire my own passion and encourage my own drive.

I understand why some people are frustrated - I have been too for the very reasons you pointed out. But I do appreciate what you do here, even if - especially if - it challenges my previously held beliefs and preconceptions.

Thank you for doing what you do here. Thank you for not apologizing for what you do. Thank you for meeting, understanding, and addressing the frustrations of those that follow you. Keep doing what you do!


#12

CT,

I have long enjoyed your advice and innovation.

the other thing I people should keep in mind is that training and the human body change over time, or should. It is certainly different for me now in my sixties then it was going into my fifties. Had I any sense I would have understood that in my thirties and forties as well.

I for one would love to hear what you and others have learned on training and muscle retention for seniors. There are getting to be a lot of us out there you know.

thanks coach


#13

tout a été dit dans les posts précédents , et je rajouterais que seuls les gens intelligents comprennent les gens intelligents .
Ce que vous faites pour tous les pratiquants en soif de connaissance et de progrès est inestimable , vous êtes un pro mais aussi très pédagogue ce qui rend le partage plus accessible a tous .


#14

I think a lot of this has to do with so many people’s search for the perfect/optimal program. When your methods and philosophy evolves (as it should), this makes it nearly impossible for people to believe that the program they are currently following (and probably butchering) is THE optimal program.

It’s the pursuit of the fastest and most extreme results. We’ve all been there, especially when we’re younger. Unfortunately, this mindset can also undermine the pursuit of consistency (both in frequency and effort). Really, the most optimal method/philosophy is probably the one you can stick to for months/years while putting forward your best effort.

The people giving you a hard time are probably the same people who say something like:

“I’m going to do this best damn workout for natural lifters program, except I’m going to choose different exercises and rep schemes, add a bit more volume, and reduce this to 4 days.”

This group is a frantic group looking for magic. They obsess over the minutiae while giving little thought to the big long-term picture. They will always be shaken when the person they listen to changes their mind. I don’t think you’ll ever stop catching crap from these people.


#15

Wait…are you telling me I should rethink my trusty fat melting jiggle machine


#16

I have read and learned from people with different approaches and philosophies, and I’m drawn to smart, thorough, and caring people like yourself. If opinions and approaches never changed, you’d be a politician and not a world-class coach and trainer.

Before I really knew who you were, I used the 915 program and it was one of my favorites. Then I used the Superhero program, and I realized “Hey, I like this guy’s style of programs”. Now I’m using the “Best Damn…” My other favorites are much different: bodyweight experts like Paul Wade and the Kavadlo brothers. I love their mind-body philosophy and the focus on skills and progressing through harder variations.

Also, your participation on this forum is great. You tell it like it is and can be direct, but are always respectful and useful.


#17

As a member of the Over-50 club, I’d be very interested to hear you expand on your observations vis a vis what works for those of us in this age group. (Recognizing that this particular thread might not be the right venue for those observations, say the word and I’ll start a new one.)


#18

Well I think the may thing is that the training methods that work best to maximize muscle growth might also speed up the aging process.

This is something I’ve only recently started paying more attention as I’m getting older and made some realisation through careful analysis of my own progress over the years. More about that later.

One thing I believe is that to maximize growth you also need to maximize mTOR activation. You CAN gain muscle without maximizing it, but it wont be as rapid.

Here’s the thing… I also believe (after talking with a M.D. specialized in the aging process) that mTOR activation can also speed up the aging process by speeding up the cell turnover of many many cells in your body. It can also speed up the development of cancerous cells.

So I do think that once you are past a certain age it is worth asking yourself if continuing to pile on more and more muscle tissue is more important than aging well.

Furthermore it is my belief that we all have our own limit as to how much muscle we can naturally carry. I’m not necessarily referring to the “maximal lean body mass formulas out there”, but to the fact that every body has a set limit to how much overall muscle we can support.

When we have reached that limit we can still continue to improve performance, get leaner, making small gains in overall mass but mostly we can change how we carry the overall muscle we have by emphasizing some muscles more than others.

Here are some thoughts I had on that topic:

There are somethings that I’d rather not say because it’s not what people want to hear. But I’m not a cheerleader; my job is not to sell you sunshine and rainbows but to give you tools to fulfill your own potential.

So even though it will not be pleasant to some here is something I found to be true.

Each of us has a certain genetic limit to the amount of muscle tissue we can carry naturally (without the use of performance-enhancing drugs). I don’t know exactly what determines it (myostatin? Testosterone levels? Genes? Skeletal system?) but I absolutely believe that such a limit exists.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep on progressing.

I’ll illustrate what I mean with my own example.

From 1998 to 2002 I trained and competed as an Olympic lifter. I was really strong in the lower body with a front squat of 220kg (485lbs) a back squat of 270kg (595lbs), a Zercher squat from pins (starting 1” below the knees) of 250kg (550lbs) and a pin pull from 1” above the knees of 1000lbs. My upper body strength wasn’t as high, I could barely bench 315 for example. I was built like a traffic cone: huge legs, thick back and traps, small arms and chest… and I was 215-220lbs.

I then switched to more of a powerlifting program, training a lot like the Westside Barbell crew. My arms, especially triceps, delts and chest grew a lot. My bench press went up to 180kg (398lbs)… and I was 215-220.

In 2005-2006 I decided to compete in bodybuilding. My upper body continued to get larger, my legs were downsized (to be honest I was sick of squatting 2-6 times per week!) but were now in balance with my upper body. While I was 190lbs on stage, my “lean but not ripped” weight was … 215-220.

5 years ago I played around with gymnastic training, following the progression explained in “Gymnastic bodies”. I did that for 6 months. My biceps, lats and delts were great. Legs were downsized, chest might have come down a bit… and I was 215.

4 years ago I decided to do Crossfit. Mostly to share an activity with my wife, but eventually it became my full time training for about 4-5 months. My arms and pecs got a bit smaller but the whole body was well balanced and athletic… and I was 215.

Fast forward to this year; at the beginning of the year I started focusing on the Olympic lifts again. My physique once again changed. Traps, legs and abs got thicker… and I was still 215!

Then I had to get in shape for a photoshoot. So I trained like a bodybuilder again for about 5 months and I did less leg training. Arms, chest and shoulders drastically improved. I ended up being 202lbs in the pictures but I was 215 “lean but not ripped” before I started to diet down.

Now I’m training for performance using strength-skill circuits; I also do a small amount of bodybuilding work. I don’t have body parts that stand out now, but everything flows better and is in balance… but I’m still 215!

So basically, my overall muscle mass stayed pretty much the same (maybe a small improvement since I am leaner on average) for the past 10 years or so. And it’s not like I don’t know how to train; I am great at getting results for performance and muscle mass. I pretty much never skip workouts and I always train hard and smart. So the only conclusion I can make is that my body is not designed to carry more muscle than what gives me a fairly lean 215lbs or very lean 200lbs body.

Oh I was bigger at times. I was 225-228 in some pictures for T-nation from about 6 years ago. But to be honest it was a lot of water retention. Lucky for me I tend to retain more water inside the muscles than beneath the skin, so it makes my muscles look bigger and fuller. But I had to eat like crazy, became physically uncomfortable and my body couldn’t sustain that weight for a long time. I also got heavier the few times I tried steroids. But under normal circumstances, regardless of my training style, I seem to be limited to being 215 lean. But the way I train can totally change how that 215 looks.

Trust me, I did try to force growth by eating more, a lot more. I did get “heavier”… up to 235 and even hit 245 at one time but was pretty fat. At 235 I looked thick and solid… looked great with a t-shirt… but not so much without one… when I decided to drop the fat, I would go back down to 215!

So what I realize is that I have three choices:

  1. Continue to be hard-headed, doing everything I can to try to beat my physiology and get bigger… likely getting much fatter and hurting my health and longevity

  2. Take steroids and growth hormone to get past my natural limit; also endangering my health (especially considering my health issues)

  3. Be satisfied with the overall amount of muscle I carry and focus on making small tweaks to change my overall look and put more emphasis on improving performance and well-being.

To me the choice is very simple!

I’m focusing more methods that minimize mTOR activation, improves systemic function, target an improvement in the physical capacities that are lost first as we get older (speed, power, strength). And then add a very small amount of localized hypertrophy work, only on the muscles I want to emphasize to get the type of look I want.

So for most of my workout:

  • I de-emphasise the eccentric (1/3rd of my lifting is olympic lifts, 1/6th is deadlifts where I drop the bar on every rep. I also do prowler and farmer’s walk)

  • I keep reps low to minimize reliance on muscle glycogen (which spikes cortisol release) so my sets for most of my workout are 2 or 3 per set.

  • I focus on fairly heavy BUT not maximal work to avoid creating excessive inflammation and CNS stress. I start my training cycle with 80% on my main movements (for 2-3 reps) and progress really slowly.

  • I do most of my work as a circuit to improve cardiac output. Again to improve my overall health. Its not an endurance circuit, there is still 60-90 sec between exercises… enough to maintain performance but also to keep my heart rate elevated.

  • I do jumps and throws to maintain power

  • I avoid methods maximizing mTOR activation on big movements as I believe that these will really speed up the aging process. I limit these methods to a small amount of isolated work and only for what I want to emphasize.


#19

Hey, I think we can all agree that you’re one hell of a writer on strength subjects. Myself and several others make a special effort to read your articles. Not trying to be a suckup, just saying- don’t let it get to you.


#20

That response was interesting. I’m 43, and my training has been different but I have observed some of the same things. I looked and felt my best doing gymnast rings workouts (not gymnast workouts, but things like ring flys, ring chins, ring dips, ring muscle ups, ring HLR’s, ring rollouts) with one heavy day of pulling. SG high pulls, muscle snatches, RDL’s, then weighted pull ups and loaded carries. I weigh ~172 now.

About 6-8 years ago, I was really into “insanity”-style fitness, jumps, and running. I did a 5K in 19:20, could do muscle ups for reps, and rep out 30 pull ups. My weight was down to ~162-164. Do you think working out to exhaustion on things like vertical jumps, burpees, mountain climbers, etc… are bad for longevity? I don’t work out like this anymore, and did it for maybe 2 years.

For the last few years, I’ve been on bodyweight plus adding in barbell routines. I do sprints, muscle ups, and olympic lift variations to stay explosive. I play sports and do yoga once a week. I just did my blood work, and everything came out perfect. My T levels are >800, my cholesterol is low, my blood pressure is 110/74, and my resting heart rate is ~50 beats per minute. I’ve been on your Best Damn for a while, but I do get worn down from barbell lifts and will go back to bodyweight focus next week.

Also, as I’ve gotten older, I have stopped all supplements. I used to do green powders, different types of protein powder, BCAA’s, and multivitamins. I haven’t used any supplement at all in 5+ years, and my blood work levels are all great. Also, I haven’t lost any weight or strength (in fact, I’ve gained a bit of both) and feel better than ever. I eat lots of greens, vegetables, lots of raw nuts (unlimited in fact, but only raw), chicken/fish, fruits, and olive oil. My pre-workout is coffee and my post workout is a banana. I talk to guys at the gym my age who worry about pre-workout drinks, protein supplements, etc… but look and feel way worse than me. They also ask me what supplements I take.

Sorry for the long reply.