Our website is pretty much a billboard for our gym. It gets 30 or so unique vistors a day and only the most occassional of likes. The blog serves as a bucket in which I dump training knowledge (whatever I have), revelations, experiences, and yes, personal gripes. Early yesterday morning I began thinking about some of the issues I have in dealing with new lifters, many of which insist that they have a serious drive to learn and compete but most of whom insist on limiting their training to their idea of what powerlifting is. This gave me an idea for a top 10 list that I found pretty damn funny at the time and would resonate with people in my circle who are either guilty of this or have laughed at this in the past. All in good fun right?
Well the 30ish visits that I get turned into 20,000 within the last two days and the facebook post was shared over 100 times. The feedback was split about 3 to 1 between 'Oh my god I know so many people that do this this is hilarious!' and 'You're a weak piece of shit go die'. Now I see why the 'disgruntled internet guy' persona is so prevalent, because making black and white statements in an angry tone stirs a lot of shit and slaughtering sacred cows appears to be insanely effective at driving publicity. With this new spotlight (and the tiniest voice in my head that tells me to give a shit about my reputation), I feel like I should clarify some things.
Only a few points represent things I take real issue with and they are things most experienced lifters would agree with. The others are half truths at best. Let's start with the not so serious points.
#1-4 Beard, Hair, Tats, PL lifestyle
An unsettling amount of people were genuinely angry at the beard/tattoo comments, about which I could give a shit. Nothing says how secure you are quite like writing hate mail towards someone who dislikes your style choices. Do I really need to play the white-guy-being-accused-of-racism line? "Some of my best friends have beards and tats!" These points were, at the most, picking fun at the way lifters (primarily newbies) use their title of Powerlifter like a Girl Scout merit badge to accessorize their 'hardcore' lifestyle. If you are a person who lifts (or does anything) because you want to represent an appearance of strength, accomplishment, or general bad-assery without having earned it, you deserve at the very least to get ribbed. This line was dedicated to them. They exist and everybody knows one. This wasn't dedicated to accomplished athletes who have spent their lifetime establishing greatness in their field.
More than a few came back with, "Powerlifting is a sport of outcasts and attracts people with beards and tattoos. You think people trying to get as strong as possible are going to be normal?"
Hipster (noun) - a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream. (Drops mic)
This is not a view held by guys at the top, it's a view held by people hanging on the lower rungs. The idea that doing a deadlift is any more 'hardcore' or appeals to outcasts over doing a clean and jerk or running a four minute mile is bullshit. Who looked like this in Powerlifting pre-1990's? The sport has been around for a very long time and includes people from all walks of life, the most successful of which don't go out of their way to over-represent this 'hardcore-ness'. Oly lifters, distance runners, and ball players push themselves to the limit in every bit the same way, but are not flying their freak flag in the way that some PLers do. This reenforces the point that there is a style-based incentive to join the ranks. But remember, it's a humorous point. I don't have a dislike of beards, tats, and whatever else you think makes you Alpha AF. I only laugh at those who rely on their image to compensate for lack of substance.
#9, 10, 13, 15 Pulling Sumo, Favorite Lifter, Nattyness, Metal, and Crossfit
These were almost completely intended to piss people off. Conventional pulls are a better developer of general physical ability and sumo isn't allowed in strongman anyways, so it had to be on my list. In reality, I could care less how someone pulls as long as they are being effective in reaching their goals. (Matt, you still need to stop pulling fucking sumo.)
The favorite lifter line was funny because everybody has one. But on a serious note, you can't be a giddy fanboy while also demanding people take you super serial.
Oddly, not one person griped about the natty comment. Hmm
And oh my God. It's music. Calm the fuck down.
No clarification needed on the Crossfit correlation. Stand by it 100%. Again, doesn't apply to most vets because people that have done this shit for a long time don't usually act like this. Just the annoying newbies that wear their 'outcast' status on their sleeve.
Now, the more serious points.
#7, 8, 12 Westside, Louie, and Pecs
I knew this was a sacred cow. But I don't care. I fell in the trap early on of trying to make these methods work for strongman and raw lifting and never had the same returns that a basic linear program with the same compound movements had. The easy rebuttal is that I didn't know what I was doing and needed specific coaching. Almost definitely true. But if a simple linear program based on repeating the same movements over and over will make an amateur lifter strong as shit without the need for such specialized instruction, how can you call it superior? Again, this is directed towards relatively new lifters, NOT the ones who have made this program work for them. However, for the Louie apologists, it is telling that the number of really good raw lifters who have made the conjugate system work for them without majorly overhauling it makes up a pretty damn small piece of the pie. (Jay Ashman said he is writing a 'friendly rebuttal' on this.... I'm making room for the new asshole he's about to give me)
Also, there was a lot of blowback on the three words I wrote against geared lifting. I don't hate lifting geared. I hate that it's a sport. That's my opinion and I don't care if you agree. It takes a sport which has been synonymous with the acquistion of strength (a desirable and useful physical quality) and stripped from it every bit of relevance it could have to other areas of life. A big geared total doesn't tell the same story that a big raw total does. It took a one dimensional sport and made it.... more one dimensional. Yes it's hard as shit and it takes balls to get under super-maximal loads over and over, but it divides the talent pool and splits up an already obscure sport between it's former versions and newer, worse versions. You can't argue for a healthy competitive environment when 120 lifters show up to a USPA meet and people are still left competing in divisions by themselves. I know, I'm a piece of shit for not liking your hobby.
Long story short... Westside is proven for geared lifting (which we already established has no relevance to other strength sports) but is sparsely applied with success to the rest of lifting-dom. This, paired with observation of banded box-squats, super arched/tucked benches, and rampant dynamic work being done by droves of new lifters compels me to believe that it is a style, not results, driven phenomenon which means it deserves to be made fun of.
I'm going to now throw some more gas on the fire by growing the list.
Chad Wesley Smith added this, which I'm mad escaped me earlier because it deserves to be higher on the list.
#17 "You have absurd levels of love for coffee, donuts, and bacon" - Jesus Christ if I have to see one more Instagram post of someone eating bacon in a Caffiene and Kilos tee....
Derek McCracken (owner of Deadweight Strength in San Diego) contributed these.
#18 "You cut 20 pounds in your first contest because for some reason you think your class 2 total is going to impress everyone vs a class 3 total in a heavier weight class" - Weight cutting among new, non-competitive lifters is out of control. Just stop it.
#19 "You sign up for a ridiculous category like junior 20-23 push-pull with crossovers for both bench and deadlift only so you can take home three first place medals to show your 1,000 Instagram followers" - The over-abundance of trophies in the sport and the personality type that patronizes this deserves an entire article to itself.
And from Carlos Ortiz...
#20 "You wear tight neon leggings" - Nothing like seeing a bearded heavyweight wearing Virus leggings while squatting to make a person satisfied with their choice of sport. (Sorry, Chad)
Let's keep the train rolling. What am I leaving out? Best post gets a free IE Barbell t-shirt.