Pavel’s Two Cats

While writing a piece for getupsweden.com, I stumbled upon footage from a recent StrongFirst seminar held last July in Denver, CO, where Pavel Tsatsouline tells the story of two leopard kills as a metaphor for the current state of the fitness industry.

There are so many gems in these 10 minutes that I would end up repeating Pavel’s words if I tried to sum them up. But I recommend that you watch it, as a teaser for my Part II of the Old School Strength series.

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Old School Strength: The Roman Origins [LONG]

Around 2.000 words, estimated reading time: about 9-10 min.

“Old school strength training” is seldom old school.

Most of what passes for “old school strength training” advice — for instance here, there, or there — amounts to multi-joint barbell movements like squats, bench press, and deadlifts, a lot of volume, and fairly heavy weights.

That’s pretty solid advice but calling it “old school” is hardly more than a term of endearment. As Jamie Lewis reminds us in Destroy the Opposition the bench press has been around for less than a century. And squats (as we know them) are not that much older. Since barbells appeared sometimes in the middle of the 19th century ([1], p.10), deadlifts are not that old, either.

Long before barbells, there were stones and tree trunks, but we don’t need to go that far back. Ancient Rome will do. But why should anyone care about the Romans?

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Can Everybody Benefit From Exercise?

Slightly above 1.600 words, estimated reading time: about 8 min.

Consider the following statement:

(A) Everybody can benefit from some exercise program

I am by education an analytic philosopher and a logician. Analytic philosophy is really glorified common sense. It may not always be useful but even when it’s not it on occasion be entertaining. Logic is more specific and is concerned with statements featuring every or some, if… then…, and, or and not, a well as therefore and true and false.

Logic and analytic philosophy common sense are all we need to discuss (A) and answer the titular question, but I’m going to throw in some science in the mix because it’s always better than just philosophy.

As always with philosophy, the journey matters more than the destination. Eventually, the titular question will remain open. But bear with me and enjoy the ride, and you will be rewarded for your time.

Or not.

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The Science and Bullshit of Lifting (Part II)

Around 1.500 words, estimated reading time: 8 min.

In science, there is no such thing as ‘naked facts’.

If you have read Part I, you already know that data is (always) corrected data. Part I introduced some basic philosophy of science, and why there is no such thing as a general method for telling science and pseudoscience apart.

Part I also outlined the philosophical analysis of bullshit and argued that most of the ‘science bros’ are in fact science bullshitters because they exploit some features of science that can baffle outsiders to advertise and sell their services.

In Part II (this post) I look into how scientists deal with internal conflict within their disciplines, with a specific focus on exercise science. And because the series is about science and bullshit there will be something about bullshitters as well in the end.

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How to Build Old School Herculean Legs

Around 1.500 words, estimated reading time: 8 min.

Once upon a time, dinosaurs ruled the earth and perky little mammals were their after-dinner snacks.

Then a meteorite or a giant volcano wiped their poikilothermic ass out of existence (or whatever else their ass was). Except for chickens. Soon the perky mammals evolved into puny humans and avenged their ancestors by enslaving the chickens, slaying them by the score and eating their flesh.

T-RexEventually, some humans began to feast on their cholesterol-laden eggs, and in so doing, they built up testosterone and became capable of squatting, benching and deadlifting heavy-ass barbells. The other still-puny humans clapped their hands in appreciation and the memory of the chickens’ ancestors was mocked and there was much rejoicing.

Wait. There’s one shortcut too many in this story. Heavy barbell deadlifts, sure. Heavy squat and bench? Not so much.

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The Science and Bullshit of Lifting (Part I)

Around 1.500 words, estimated reading time: 8 min.

I’ve been living and breathing philosophy since 1993.

Since 2013, I’ve been breathing chalk, too. But it was only recently that I realized how powerful the mix could be.

Philosophy is incredibly useful to tell apart science and bullshit. This is priceless at the gym because the majority of fitness-related YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook accounts that peddle ‘sports science’ to lifters are just psuhing plain bullshit.

How would I know?

Short answer: I’m a philosopher and damn good at what I do.

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Training like Sherlock Holmes

Three months without a post, really? What took me so long?

Well, I was that close to quit training, so writing about it did not make much sense anymore.

But I didn’t quit, so here I go again, etc.

Honestly,  I’d love to turn the story about why I didn’t quit into an inspirational tale, but I suck at this, so instead, I’ll stick to facts, and keep the color comments to a minimum.

In a nutshell, what happened is that, while trying to rehab myself from a debilitating injury, I made unexpected progress that was prima facie a mystery to me. And since my day job is to figure out how Sherlock Holmes solves problems [1], I applied what I know, and solved the mystery.

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Yoga for Lifters (Part II): Loaded Yoga

This post is not about a yoga variant of Zui Quan. That would be fun, though.

Still, this is merely a follow-up on my previous post on the topic.

I concluded with an the observation that the Turkish Get Up (TGU) and the Windmill are loaded variations of the yoga Side Plank pose (Vasisthasana) and Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana). And I suggested that the loaded variations are more appropriate for lifters.

Now, there’s a whole range of yoga poses that do not have loaded variants, and I don’t want to dismiss them. In fact, I believe that the most important yoga pose for lifters, or anyone else for that matter, is the Cat-Cow. As I found out, I’m in good company, with no less than Chad Waterbury and Stuart McGill.

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Training Older Avocados (and Younger Ones, Too)

Lately, I’ve had to take some time off sitting and/or standing at a desk. And because I cannot simply chalk up my sequence of injuries to bad luck—it’s more likely poor planning, and even poorer execution—I’ve done my homework, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong in the first place.

Fortunately, I’ve only gone wrong with myself. People I’ve trained have consistently done better, and I’ve only gone worse when I tried to train like them, but shouldn’t have—because I’m an old avocado, and they are not.

So I should know better. And I finally figured (some) things out. Furthermore, my conclusions are not specific to older avocados like me, and if you are a younger avocado, there will be something for you too (and not only to-be-remembered-when-you’re-old).

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Yoga for lifters (Part I)

Most lifters I know don’t practice yoga,  or use a handful of yoga poses as a substitute for static stretching. Most likely, because it’s slightly less boring (and looks cooler). This reflects how yoga instructors push “yoga for lifters”, aka mobility work.

But in fact, yoga-as-mobility is unnecessarily time-consuming for liftersAdding half an hour of yoga practice from time to time may not seem much, but that does not take into account the learning curve of yoga poses. As far as mobility is concerned, lifters are  better off with less time-consuming options.

However, there are excellent reasons for a lifter to incorporate yoga into their training. These reasons extend to any athlete using barbell work for strength and conditioning purposes. But they are slightly different from the reasons yoga is usually claimed to be beneficial.

What are those reasons? Well, let’s start with what they are not.

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Turbo 2.0: A blueprint for daily training

A few posts ago, I argued that it’s a good idea to train more often, and touched upon how to turn a 3 days-a-week routine into a 5-to-6 days-a-week routine. The post was about the why, and not so much the how.

This post goes the other way around, and deals with how to jump right away on a 6 days-a-week routine, without spending hours at the gym or burning out. It’s more a template than a routine, though, because I’m big on autoregulation—the genuine kind, that crowds out rigid programming—and on experimentation.

Autoregulation and experimentation require wiggle room, but you should keep your eyes on the prize, namely getting better at a few important thingsThat being said, if you understand the principles behind the template, you can have a pretty good idea of how to make it work. These principles are:

  • If it’s worth doing, do it everyday; if it’s not, don’t do it at all.
  • If you need to change something, do the same thing, but different.

But this post is not about training philosophy, so suffices to say that I got the first from Dan John, the second from Pavel Tsatsouline (and Dan John).

Now, let’s get practical. Continue reading

Slow cooker Cajun beef

Re-post from #Lazybuthealthy because this recipe kicks ass. If for no other reason. Also, the macros are awesome.

LAZYBUTHEALTHY

Jump to the recipe’s instructions

This is maybe the laziest recipe I’ve ever done. Lazier than that is takeaway, and we wouldn’t like this, would we? It is also one of my favorite slow cooker recipes, so I thought I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. I had to share it with you guys. Because I love you. And this recipe is pure love. Okay, maybe a bit of meat too. And some spices. Cajun spices to be exact. My very own special Cajun spices mix.

I have known and appreciated Cajun cuisine since I was young, because after all, this is almost like French cuisine, albeit with a Louisiana twist. No? Well, maybe I’m simplifying the matter a bit too much here, but what I can say for certain is that I’ve been experimenting with this cuisine for a long time now. My aunt even brought me back some cookbooks…

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