Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jacked & Tan. Five Weeks In and Jackeder and Tanner Than Ever.

I've been getting a lot of questions about what I've been doing these last five weeks. Being that it's a lot different than my normal activities. 

Below is the answer. 

Well, I have been doing a more "bodybuilding" focused style of training. I'm calling this my "Jacked & Tan" phase. And do you know what? I'm loving every minute of it. As many of you already know I've been training exclusively with my "GZCL Method" for about two years now. Using that methodology I've become decently strong and made some good progress. Now, in the last five weeks (and it looks like the next three) I've strayed away from my typical training style and I've seen some excellent progress. 

Some lifts would be:

Bench Press: 315x2 (Old PR was 315x1), 285x7, and 245x10 (Old PR was 235)
4" Deficit Deadlift: 425x2 and 415x4 (Never really trained these before, but they were both easy and no belt)

Many of my lifts from the last five weeks can be seen on my YouTube channel, if you're interested. 

Anyways, let's get to the actual Jacked & Tan training. 

1. Determine how many days per week you can train. 

Personally I've got enough time to train six days per week with adequate resources for recovery. I'm talking sleep and food. Being in Afghanistan puts a serious limit on what else you can do. Luckily I've got plenty of time to train, eat, and sleep. And besides work, that's all I do. Pick a training frequency that is both manageable and conducive to your goals. 

2. Select a different "main lift" for each training day. 

You will progress these lifts in four 10 rep sets for weeks one and two, and four 8 rep sets for weeks three and four. (I'll have an example table below)

Examples of this would be: 

3-Days a Week: Monday Squat, Wednesday Bench, Friday Deadlift (3-Days a week is what I would consider to be the bare minimum allowed for Jacked & Tan) 
4-Days a Week: Monday Squat, Tuesday Bench, Thursday Deadlift, Friday Press 

5-Days a Week: Monday Squat, Tuesday Bench, Wednesday Deadlift, Friday Press, Saturday Front Squat 

6-Days a Week: Monday Squat, Tuesday Bench, Wednesday Deadlift, Thursday Press, Friday Front Squat, Saturday Bench (This is pretty much what I've been doing.) 

Now before we get any further I want to be clear that a close variant of these core lifts could easily be used in place of another. If you want to do zercher squats instead of front squats, cool. Want to do push press instead of military press, great. The point is that in Jacked & Tan we want variety. Hell, you don't really even need to do any competition lifts at all if you don't want to. Can only train four days per week? Well give push press, front squat, close grip bench, and deficit deadlifts a go. 

My personal main lifts were: High bar squat (Monday), SlingShot Bench (Tuesday), 4" Deficit Deadlift (Wednesday), Military Press (Thursday), Front Squat (Friday), Bench Press (Saturday). Thus I only had one truly competition lift, and that was my bench on Saturdays. 

This is essentially like the Accumulation Phase in classic block periodization. (And that's why I started it. Thanks to Nathan Poage.) Check this out for an easy to read break down of periodization. 

3. Pick one to two primary accessory movements to compliment your main movement of the day. 

For me this was things like incline bench and behind the neck press for my bench day and lunges for my squat day. Each day has one to two of these primary accessory movements. These are done for 4-5 sets of 8-10 reps each. The last few reps of the last set should be pretty hard, but finish-able. You can linearly progress these with weight, or just keep the weight and set/reps the same and just focus on finishing the work better. (Better quality reps, shorter rest, faster reps, etc.) I'm a big fan of including unilateral work in the Jacked & Tan phase as I never do it in my regular training; thus the lunges. 

4. Pick one to two secondary accessory movements to work on key muscles (or groups) in isolation. 

An example would be on a squat day: leg curls and leg extensions. For bench press these would be flys and triceps extensions. Military press would be Arnold press and lateral raises. You catch my drift. I like to super set these secondary accessories or perform them in a myo-rep fashion. (Read this article on myo-reps, it's fantastic, and so is doing them.) These stay consistent in set/reps and weight (Usually around 10-15+ reps for 4-5 sets). This is your "bodybuilders" bread and butter here. Build that so-called mind:muscle connection. Feel the pump. Be like Arnold. 

Structuring it all together

As you can already tell this is laid out a lot like my pyramid philosophy; which is essentially a conjugate method (Warning: Science) at its core. But rather than have specific intensity ranges correlate to specific volume ranges (like with my method) I'm just putting things in a tiered priority order. Your intensities will not be programmed off your 1RM, or anything like that, and trying to do so would be a mistake. Also, the 1:2:3 guideline for volume kinda goes out the window too. This whole phase is about volume, lots of it. How else are you planning on getting Jacked & Tan? 

Before you start, first- back plan! 

Think about what your most recent 10-rep max is on that specific "main" lift, or very close variant of it. If you have absolutely no idea (like me with the 4" deficit deadlifts) then be reasonable and stay conservative. I knew that I could hit 315x10 easily with conventional deadlifts from the floor, so I picked 275. Whatever your initial guess is, in that case of absolute uncertainty, just go ahead and knock 20 pounds off that. Just to play it reasonably safe. 

Volume creates a lot of fatigue pretty quickly if you're not accustomed to it. 

Now that you've got a reasonable 10-rep max in mind, add 5 pounds for upper body lifts and 10 pounds for lower. Then put that number as the last set, in the last week of training. Then draft your plan backwards from there. 

An example training day would be: 

Week One
Monday (Weight/Reps/Sets)
High Bar Squat: 185x10, 195x10, 205x10, 215x10
Lunges: 95x10x5
Leg Curl: 25x12x4 (Super Set) (Or, Myo Reps if you're interested) 
Leg Extension: 25x12x4 (Super Set) (Or, Myo Reps if you're interested) 
Dumbbell Row: 95x10x5 (Personal note: I've always split my back work across multiple days) 
Ab Wheel: 10x5 (Same goes for my ab work)

The monthly progression on this would look like: 

Week One
High Bar Squat

 185 10 1
 195 10 1
 205 10 1
 215 10 1
Lunges  95 10 5

Week Two
High Bar Squat

 195 10 1
 205 10 1
 215 10 1
 225 10+ 1
Lunges  105 10 5

Week Three
High Bar Squat

 205 8 1
 215 8 1
 225 8 1
 235 8 1
Lunges  115 8 4

Week Four
High Bar Squat

 215 8 1
 225 8 1
 235 8 1
 245 8+ 1
Lunges  125 8 4

(Note that I didn't include the secondary accessory movements, those stayed consistent through the duration.) 

A few things to pay attention to: 

One, the weight increases on the main movement is by 10 pounds per week for lower body lifts and five pounds per week for upper body lifts. (If you can do more, then do more. But be reasonable.) This is classic linear progression here, nothing fancy. 

Two, the increase on my primary accessory movement (lunges) was linear and went up 10 pounds per week also. However, you can choose to make it stay the same. This would be helpful if your fatigue is too great. 

Three, the (+) on weeks two and four represent AMRAP sets. Rep that last set out. Ideally you will be hitting 12 or more reps on week two and 10 or more reps on week four. 

How to progress on Jacked & Tan.

Now lets say on week four you hit your 245x8+ AMRAP for 10 solid reps. That'll be your week two weight for your next Jacked & Tan cycle- so that means you will have to AMRAP that and hopefully get 12 or more reps next time around. (This is why I'm reminding you to be fairly conservative with your 10RM estimations.) Your second cycle 8+ AMRAP set would be 265 pounds. 

I can already hear the question, "But GZ, when can I lift heavy?" Well, I too found myself wanting to scratch that itch, so on week three I worked up to a heavy single or double on one upper body lift and one lower body lift for the week. Then on week four I did the same for different upper and lower lifts. 

What I mean by this is:

Week 3: Heavy double or single on my military press and high bar squat. (Then planned for work.)
Week 4: Heavy double or single on my 4" deficit deads and bench press. (Then planned for work.)

Keep in mind, you shouldn't be killing yourself on those sets where you're scratching that itch. You've still got to complete the planned for work. But on those days where I wanted to lift heavy is when I cleanly smoked 315x2 on my bench and 425x2 on the 4" deficit deadlift. Those lifts were easy, the goal is to not strain! (I also did a widow-maker on week four cause I just felt like it.) 

Another option for Jacked & Tan progression.

Now it is certainly possible to continue a few cycles through the above progression I laid out. But I wanted to tinker with the idea of over-warm sets (Because you know, it's difficult to not answer the phone when heavy weights are calling.)

So that's what I've done this week, and what I'll be doing in the next three.

In my second 4-week phase of Jacked & Tan I've started to include an AMRAP over-warm set followed by three increasing sets of ten (for weeks 1 and 2) and then three increasing sets of eight (for weeks 3 and 4.) It looks like this:

Cycle Two
Week One
Wednesday  LBS /Reps /Sets
Def. Dead 415 1+ 1
245 10 1
255 10 1
265 10 1

Week Two
Wednesday  LBS /Reps /Sets
Def. Dead 425 1+ 1
255 10 1
265 10 1
275 10 1

Week Three
Wednesday  LBS /Reps /Sets
Def. Dead 435 1+ 1
265 8 1
275 8 1
285 8 1

Week Four
Wednesday  LBS /Reps /Sets
Def. Dead 445 1+ 1
275 8 1
285 8 1
295 8 1

There you can see my fifth through eighth week of training with Jacked & Tan. 

Some things to note.

On this second cycle through I've reduced the number of 10 and 8 rep sets to three (from four). 

I've added that over-warm top AMRAP I was talking about. This permits the desire to lift "heavy" and test rep PRs.The requirement is the bare minimum of one rep, with the goal of... well, more than one. Obviously that depends on how I feel that day. 

I've also cut out the 10+ and 8+ sets. No need to extra AMRAPs when you're already doing one for your over-warm set. Just try to progress those with 5 and 10 pound increments. Keep it simple. 

Progressing the tan of Jacked & Tan. 

It's pretty simple actually. Focus on linear time progression. I started with 15 minutes front and back for week one and two, two to three times per week. Weeks three and four were 20 minutes front and back, two to three times per week. Just make sure to put sun screen on your face. You don't want too look like the Marlboro man when you're 30. Also, be sure to set up perpendicular to the sun, not parallel. You don't want one side more tan than the other.  

Don't go out there all overzealous trying to get too tan too soon because that'll result in burning, which means you won't be able to fully utilize your time during the Jacked portion of Jacked & Tan. 

Think of this as Starting Tanning. 

What happens after Jacked & Tan? 

Well, after these two 4-week cycles I'll probably move onto something similar to the "Transmutation" phase of block periodization. Again, nothing crazy, new, or proprietary. That means more competition specific movements, a little less variety and volume, and more intensity. Here is a great read which breaks down the fundamentals of different periodized training styles. 

Remember what I said at the beginning. Jacked & Tan is all about volume and variety. The future is about intensity and specifics. 

Don't worry so much about lifting the heavy weights right now, just get jacked. (And tan.)

The negatives of Jacked & Tan.

Well, due to smashing my pulls/rowing movements on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (I've always broken it up like that, never dedicated a "back day.") I've got some serious knotting going on in my left lat/rhomboid area. Also because I haven't directly trained abs in a while I had some crazy painful abdominal cramping after doing the ab wheel one day. That sucked. I almost got a bad hamstring cramp when doing some supersets with leg curls and extensions. The cramps I'm chalking up to me being a dumbass and not drinking enough water out here. It's getting hotter, and the heat can sneak up on you. 

Results of five weeks of Jacked & Tan.

Bodyweight wise I've gained an average of two pounds. Going from an average of 185 to an average of 187. Although, the Marines around me are saying that I'm looking bigger and leaner, but myself looking in the mirror, I'm not too sure. I do however feel like my shoulders, legs, and arms have gotten bigger. Measurements show a small increase from 1/8 to 1/16th of an inch across those three areas. That could however be due to measuring error. I'm open to that possibility. My waist has gone down about .5 to 1 inch though. (Maybe I was bloated before?) 

I've also got new 8, 10, and 10+ rep maxes on pretty much all my lifts. Which is a great base to start off of for getting into heavier and heavier intensities in future training phases with the goal of moving heavier weights. I haven't been the kind of guy who desires chasing 1RM on my lifts, and switching it up every now and then like this keeps it fresh. And I find that when I do get around to testing for a new 1RM, I'm usually going to kill it. 

So there you have it. Jacked & Tan training. Now go out there and get Jackeder and Tanner. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Uncovering the Soviet Strength Ruse

For decades now lifters around the world have been led to believe that Soviet training methods are superior.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m going to make it known that all this socialist strength science has been created and distributed as misinformation in an attempt to undermine the abilities of non-Russian lifters everywhere.

Below lists the reasons why I believe this to be true:

1. Is it logical that USSR sports scientists studied lifters, collected data, and created “superior” training methods then released their findings to the world? All the while their efforts were completely funded by their government? Of course not! It is highly unlikely that these socialists in the middle of a Cold War with the U.S. would spend all this money and energy on their athletes in the course of dominating us in the Olympics, only to share it with us.

This would be like if the United States had just one day decided to fly an SR-71 Blackbird over to Moscow and land it in the Red Square with a big red bow on it and a happy birthday card.

Do you honestly believe that there was such a thing as peer reviewed research in Soviet Russia? No, there wasn’t. It is all a crazy amount of propaganda that was created to make western society begin to overanalyze their training programs. This over analysis resulted in them going nowhere. Paralysis by analysis. Meanwhile the eastern block communists got stronger by the day. We on the other hand started gluing electrodes to our nipples in the hopes it would stimulate more muscle fibers- or some crazy shit. 

They never held any studies. There was never any Prelepin and he never found any optimal ranges for anything. He was a made up character in what I’m calling The Cold War of Strength. It is a war the U.S. doesn’t even know it’s losing.

2. Ever since western countries have adopted the so-called “Eastern Block” training methods our performance in weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman has dwindled. Between 1990 and 2005 the United States didn’t have a single athlete place in the top three at the Worlds Strongest Man. Since 2005 the U.S. has had 10 athletes place, but many of them are repeats, like Brian Shaw. Who for all intents and purposes is a genetic freak with training methods that matter less than what t-shirt he wears to an all you can eat buffet.

It is Mariusz Pudzianowski from Poland who has the most championships at five, next behind him from “the western countries” is Bill Kazmaier whose winnings are at three. Way back from ’80-’82; early on during the siege of  Soviet strength hype.  Sure Iceland has some very strong showings but when you have to fight ice giants just to escape your hellhole country you’re going to end up strong regardless.

What about weightlifting records? Well, turns out they’re all held by current or former communist or socialist countries. Countries who I theorize were never sieged with the Soviet misinformation which polluted their best coaches mind’s and athlete’s bodies. These now thriving countries are where they are now because the USSR never conducted this psychological warfare in their gyms, like it did the U.S. specifically.   

You don't want your balls in the hands of Vladimir Putin do you? 

3. Only in the last couple of years has the U.S. taken the lead in the sport of powerlifting. At least, outside of the International Powerlifting League, which again, is largely dominated by Eastern Block countries that were never subjected to the Soviet training misinformation distribution.

However, I have reason to believe that many of these “U.S. lifters” are acting as double agents. These lifters are pretending to use training methods supposedly akin to the Soviet training models only to misguide the larger population as a whole. These guys train in secret with the real Soviet methods but in public claim to be following one of the more “traditional” models founded on the science of Smolov, Shieko, and other coconspirators.  

Even their shaker cups are bigger than ours.

Now, this might result in many threats of my life, but I’m willing to put myself out there and name some of these double agents. These are lifters who I believe to part of the inner circle of Soviet Union who play a pivotal role in keeping the rest of the world weak. Their main role is to become as strong as possible while claiming to follow one way, when in fact their programming is Top Secret and likely sent to them in cypher radio transmissions across many unknown repeater stations from around the world.

Double Agents as follows:

Brandon Lilly, creator of the infamous Cube Method. This method is tried and true by many thousands of lifters across the world. These many thousands, if not millions of cult-like followers are all unfortunately being driven down the wrong road. They will never get as strong as Agent Lilly as he doesn’t follow the Cube Method. His classified programming is received via a series of immigrant couriers around the U.S., each of which carries only one number. Agent Lilly then listens in to a secret radio frequency for assembly instructions and then continues his training.  Below are some pretty compelling photographs, which prove his affiliation with the USSR.

His recent knee injuries I feel were staged as a diversion. His disguise was likely crumbling faster than the Soviet authorities liked, so they pulled the plug on him for the time being. However, it is only a matter of time until he comes back stronger and more influential in the misdirection of the U.S. strength athletic community.

See the resemblance between the two?
The proof is in the beard and the t-shirt...
which is a pretty obvious marker of a Double Agent. 

Louie Simmons, creator of the Westside Conjugate training method. Nearly every interview or article this man is in, or writes, is littered with references to lifters in the Soviet Union supposedly doing this or that to get strong. From a piece he wrote, In the early 1970s, the Dynamo Club inthe Soviet Union had 70 highly skilled Olympic lifters.”

Oh did they? And how would he know that other than by going there, and training with them, and becoming educated with the propaganda tactics of the USSR. Whether or not he is knowingly a double agent, or simply brain washed to believe in earnest the Soviet’s lies, I’m not sure. It is unmistakable that his Westside training methods largely influenced powerlifting through the 1990’s and early 2000’s yet produced no one the caliber of Andrey Malanichev or Konstantin Konstantinov. Why? Because like Agent Lilly they’re training with the true methods of the Soviet Union.

This is a photo of Agent Simmons leaving 
a hotel in Moscow after a top secret meeting
with Soviet officials regarding the popularization
of false "Russian" training methods in the U.S.

Ben Rice, the nice guy on YouTube who trains using “Shieko” and somehow has blown out of the water every other lifter who reports to use the same training method. Sure, Agent Rice might get his training methods directly from Boris Shieko so he may not be a liar but I assure you they are far different than what everyone else has access to.

The Lilliebridge family, their name is so close to Agent Lilly’s that it would be impossible to not see the irrefutable connection. Dan Green and Chad Wesley Smith, two other coconspirators known to be in communication with Agent Lilly. In fact, I have reason to believe the entire Juggernaut Strength crew, and possibly Animal, is affiliated with this Soviet strength propaganda machine. I mean, “Juggernaut” sounds a lot like  “cosmonaut” which is what the Russians sent to space to spy on American moon landings. These guys were just sent to spy on our strength and conditioning operations.

The Lilliebridges all wearing red, 
the color of their motherland. 

Jamie Lewis, a world record holding 181 lb. lifter has been known to travel the globe and if my information is correct, has a degree in Asian Studies. Russia is in Asia, he’s clearly a double agent as well. Except his training methods are so off the wall and insane many reading this would point to him as a non-Soviet. But that’s exactly what they want you to believe. Jamie Lewis is attempting to destroy lifters who stray the path of Prelepin, Verkhoshansky, and company.

Let us not forget Mike Tuchscherer, whose name is also uncannily Russian sounding, but more compelling is the argument that his Reactive Training Systems is founded upon science. What science? Soviet “science?” Exactly.

Agent Tuchscherer lifting Eleiko weights.
Which you guessed it, are Russian. 

These double agents are against you. They may walk you down the path towards greater strength, but it is a path that ends prematurely. They will only take you so far, and it will never be as far as the Soviets will allow.

Vasily Alekseyev, probably one of the greatest weightlifters of all time said in a tell all interview that he never once had a “coach.” It was his position that if he was stronger than someone, why should he listen to them? Besides spending time in jail and lifting nothing but railroad tracks he still became a legendary lifter.  This was all before the Soviet Union began its Cold War of Strength against us. And I believe it was his perseverance and success that led the USSR to begin its misinformation machine. They saw what one man could do, even if it was their own man, if left to his own devices.

And they weren’t about to let any American discover his secret. So what did they do? They fed us some bullshit “science” and we bought off on it, hard. And we have never recovered since.

Our only hope is to forego “common knowledge” about strength training. Throw out all modern “science” and wipe clean your mind from anything that has ever been referenced as Soviet, Russian, or Eastern Block.  We must, as civilized lifters, revolt against the strength propaganda that we have been led to believe. It is the only way. Forget what “science” has told you and just go out and get strong.

Because science starts with “s” and so does Soviet.

Read the second installment here.