The Devil’s Advocate: Random Thoughts

TAGS: powerlifting, strength training, barbell


The Monday after the 2005 Arnold Classic I had to attend a meeting about 45 minutes away and found myself driving the back roads of Ohio. I have found that road trips seem to inspire the greatest thoughts and have brought about many training ideas. Unfortunately, this particular trip was not one of them. All it did was make me madder than hell.

I began to think about some of the lifting that I witnessed at the Arnold Classic and the great characters that graced the platform; Mash, Vogelpohl, Frank, Bolton, Thompson. The list goes on and on. Since powerlifting is not in the Olympics, I would consider the WPO events to be the Olympics of powerlifting. This is not some kind of federation debate but the WPO is where the best compete against the best. If you want to see strength, then this is where to go.

As I was driving I began to wonder that if the WPO is in fact where the strongest compete, then where were all of these self-proclaimed experts that I read of? Were they competing? No. Were their athletes competing? No. Were they there to watch? I didn’t see anyone there. If you go to watch a world-class sporting event, I am willing to be that there will be numerous top-level coaches in attendance. If you were to attend a top-level gymnastics event, would you not expect to see the best coaches? What I did see was an amazing amount of real guru’s, both on the platform and in the warm-up room, doing what they do best. These are the people that know strength. These are the people that I ask for advice. This is where knowledge is passed. This is where you learn.

When I got home, I called Dave and was full of piss and vinegar. I told him that when I began to seriously pursue the academic side of training, I read whatever I could and believed almost anything. How could I not? These people were PUBLISHED and seem to have credibility from some great sources. So I took the bait; hook, line and sinker. Then as I began comparing my real-life training to what they said to be true, I realized the discrepancies. I began to question what these people wrote. I began relying on my own experience and those that I lifted with.

This subject has been covered numerous times and has been pretty much beaten to death. I’m sick of reading about it and I’m sick of writing and talking about it. But there may be a young kid that is starting to fall for some this garbage and this may be the article that could set him straight.


I recently heard someone comment that the “Westside System” does a poor job of telling people how to track volume and that cybernetic periodization is crap. In my second year of training (not competing, but lifting weights) I realized that you have to trust your instincts with training. Some days you may be able to handle a ton of volume, other days it’s “one movement and get out of there.” Cybernetic periodization is not a new term or concept. It’s what people do when they get their head out of their ass and start listening to their bodies and their recovery abilities. You can plan but you had better be able to make changes and make them on the run. I can honestly say that I don’t know one strong person that tracks their volume.


Dave and I noticed one thing at the Arnold Classic. Not all jacked up people were strong, but all strong people were jacked up. Do yourself a favor and use all three methods to get stronger (repetition, maximal effort, dynamic effort). Of course someone will mention that they know this one guy who is 48lbs and can deadlift 6042lbs. If they say this to you, make sure you point out the fact that it is ONE GUY. I’ll play the odds on this one.


As we were walking from our parking spot (approximately 34 miles away) to the Arnold Classic, I asked everyone why America is in Iraq. No one could answer this question. It’s too bad. Recently in Grove City, Ohio, the school board had to cancel all after school activities (this includes sports) and their homecoming and prom because of lack of funds. Well, as long as NASA received a budget increase. We must keep those green, bug-eyed Martians in check. I love this country but will always question our government.


Everyone wants to know the X’s and O’s of strength training. They want to know how many sets, how many reps, rest periods, angles, vectors, cosines, and exact protein intake. They will spend years and years of their time trying to figure this out. But I always wonder how much time they take to find quality, strong training partners. This variable, above all others, will make the biggest difference in their training.

I’m done with my random thoughts. I’m going to go eat a pizza and take a multi-vitamin so I don’t feel guilty about not eating healthy.

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