Kentucky Strong: Get Back to the Basics

TAGS: Paelo, back to the basics, strength gains, strong(er), increased strength, Chase Karnes, training program

If you aren’t any bigger or stronger today than you were last year, listen up. I want you to forget everything you know about training for a little bit. It’s 2013, and to be honest, there is too much information floating around. No wonder you haven’t made any progress. We're going to take a trip back in time, back to the 1970s before the internet, pre-workouts, and training tempos, back when all that mattered was more weight on the bar and more food on your plate.

In the 1970s, most guys had a barbell. They focused on getting stronger by deadlifting it, squatting it, pressing it overhead, and pressing it off their chests. They added more weight and typically worked in the 3 to 10-rep range. They also hit some doubles and singles on occasion, weren’t afraid of some back-off sets, and weren’t afraid of some twenty-rep squats after their heaviest set. They didn’t give a shit about a 3/2/3 tempo or any of that bullshit. Trust me—if you’re able to count any tempo on a lift, you aren’t using enough weight and you aren’t strong. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you're moving more weight than you were last week, last month, or last year. That’s how you get bigger and stronger—doing more weight for the same amount of reps or more reps with the same amount of weight. I think some newer lifters think that basic progressive overload is too simple and won’t work for them. Bullshit.

Accessory work is important, but it isn't nearly as important as deadlifting, squatting, overhead pressing, and benching. Too many guys get bent out of shape over their accessory work. That’s majoring in the minors, so to speak. Everyone wants to know the best accessory movement for this or that. The best one is the one that you do after you’ve worked hard on your main lifts and focused on getting stronger. That’s what matters people. No one will ever ask you how much weight you did on your triceps extensions or face pulls because it doesn’t matter. And if they do ask, they obviously aren't strong and their opinion doesn’t matter. The main lift is where it’s at. Put your focus there and keep it there.

People need to stop trying to trick themselves into thinking that they just may be getting bigger or stronger with all these fancy training protocols—tri-sets, drop-sets, muscle confusion, tempo training, short rest periods. Stop rotating your movements so damn often. You need to learn how to squat with the barbell on your back first. You need to do this for weeks on end before you think about rotating bars or, even worse, switching to the fucking leg press to keep your body guessing. Give me a damn break. If you do the leg press over squats, you're probably weak and will never be strong.

Not everyone has what it takes to get big and strong. It’s just the reality of it. This shit requires hard work, dedication, discipline, and time. There isn't any magic pill or supplement that will allow you to bypass all the hard work. If it was easy, we’d all be walking around jacked and strong. The ones who don’t have what it takes are the ones who will always be hopping around from program to program, always looking for the next new secret supplement, magic program, or top-secret exercise.

A guy recently told me that it was too expensive to eat enough food to get bigger and wondered what supplement he should take instead. The best part is that he’s 18-years-old and drives a brand new SUV. And the food is too expensive? Bullshit. You drive a $40,000 vehicle but can’t afford some food? You’re just looking for a shortcut that doesn’t exist, and if the food is too expensive, maybe you should really evaluate your priorities. I can tell you right now that I’d downgrade my vehicle in a heartbeat to be able to afford the food to help me reach my goals.

Stop jumping on every new nutrition trend. I just want to slam my head into a wall when someone is trying to put on maximum size and strength yet talks about using intermittent fasting or ketogenic diets. Those diets aren’t designed to make you big and strong. And what’s with this gluten-free nonsense? In the 1970s, do you think guys even knew what the hell gluten was? If you’ve been told by your doctor that you have a gluten allergy, don’t eat it. But if you want to get jacked and strong and are eating a gluten-free diet because it’s trendy, well, you don’t really want to be jacked and strong. I can tell you that much right now. Your Facebook friends don’t give two shits whether you eat gluten-free or not, so stop posting that on your wall. Get off the internet and get in the kitchen to start eating for your goals.

Stop worrying about your precious abs. If you lose them for a little bit, that’s fine. Eating to keep abs and wanting to be jacked and strong are two conflicting goals. I’m not saying that you should get fat or lose all regard for your physique in this process, but if your abs fade, so be it. If you’re worried that hot chicks won’t want to date you because you’ve lost your abs, two things—you’re wrong and if a girl only wants to date you because you have abs, she’s pretty shallow and not worth dating to begin with.

Stop eating like a bodybuilder who’s four weeks out from his next contest or, better yet, eating strict Paleo. There isn't anything wrong with either of those things in general, but they don’t match your goals. As Dan John says, “Look at your behaviors. Look at your goals. Do your behaviors match your goals?” You’re going to have to eat a lot of food to get big and strong. I’m not saying that your health isn’t important because it is, but there will be a time when you have to eat food that maybe isn't considered healthy to help get in some calories. It’s the reality of it. It isn't like you'll be eating like this for the rest of your life.

While we're on the topic of healthy, it isn't healthy to have fifty more pounds of muscle than the average man. It isn't healthy to deadlift 500 pounds for ten or more reps. So let’s stop kidding ourselves that we're so worried about our health. If you want to be healthy, brush your teeth, do yoga, exercise, and eat Paleo. But if you want to get jacked and strong, you may have to eat some food that may not be the healthiest—at least for a short time.

1970s diet:

  • Beef
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Tuna
  • Bacon
  • White rice
  • Potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut butter
  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Cheese
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Pizza
  • Cereal
  • Milk and chocolate milk

1970s program:

  • Main movements—squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press
  • Accessory movements—chin-ups, pull-ups, dips, front squats, lunges, incline bench, close grip bench, triceps extensions, curls, sit-ups, rollouts, hanging leg raises, planks
  • Reps—3–10 on most main movements, 10–20 reps on squats after working up to a heavy set, 8–15 reps on accessory movements

1970s supplements:

  • Protein powder
  • Chocolate milk
  • Multivitamin

1970s recovery:

  • Sleep
  • Food

I may have come off angry or pissed, but I’m not. Honestly, this isn’t even a rant. I’m just hoping that it’s the kick in the ass some guys need to get on track to reaching their goals. I’m just passing on what I’ve learned over the years so that hopefully you don’t have to make the same mistakes I've made and figure it out via trial and error on your own. It isn't nearly as complicated as you think. Train for performance, get stronger, and eat. Let’s bring strong back. When in doubt, deadlift, squat, bench, and overhead press. Eat four meals a day and drink a gallon of milk a day. Do this for five years. You’ll thank me.

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