“Here you go, motherfucker,” I said to myself, grabbed the bar and got serious.
The weight felt chained to the floor, but I kept pushing. The barbell started moving with the enthusiasm of a sleeping cow. I could sense that my back position was compromised, but I didn’t let go. Once the bar was below my knees, it flew up. “Easy”. I locked the barbell and let it fall under control.
I knew that people were looking at me, the skinny boy deadlifting bending barbells, in-between their moronic knee raises and political talk.
A fat man came to me and said – “Your back looked like it belongs on a camel.”
I expected admiration but got criticism.
“What does this Oreo addict know? Why is he even talking to me? This lard-ball shouldn’t be allowed to speak at all,” I said to myself while looking at him with the most anti-social grimace I could make.
I went home and played the video on my old camera.
He was right. My form was atrocious. Disgusting. Once I was under the shower, my spine started screaming at me. I felt like a loser. Worse. I was a loser. Who does that to himself?
I stopped lifting for months. I lost all motivation. “Why bother?”
After a long break, I worked up to the same weight but with much better form. Guess, what? My back complained even louder despite the better technique.
In short, I did the wrong thing and got pain. Then, I did right thing and got pain again.
This will happen to you too. You will eventually arrive at weights that will somehow always manage to drain you. At every bodyweight, there are hard limits. When you are close to them, it takes a monumental amount of work to reach beyond while avoiding joint pain. The weight becomes so stressful on your structure that you may get injured even when you do everything right.
This led me to a simple realization – strength training is for egomaniacs and suckers. If you have a base, all else is an egoistical pursuit of peaks that will never fill the void. More money does not make you happier when you are already rich. So, what is the goal? To reach that point and stay there.
The Real Driving Force Behind Heavy Lifting
My motivation was simple – I wanted to get big as hell. I also wanted to enjoy other people’s admiration. I wanted the insects to look at me and feel bad about how good I am. I wanted the demon of humiliation to wrap around their steroid-loaded hearts.
Whether you admit it or not, you had/have the same motif. People will drop lies like “I do it for health.” but that is nonsense. The ancient dudes in the gym recovering from an injury do it for health. You do it for glory.
Heavier weights satisfy the formula. The heavier you lift, the bigger you are supposed to get. The larger the barbell, the bigger the envy in the spectators’ hearts.
Rippetoe’s pupils and others pretending to do it for function are liars too. Want function? Enlist in a furniture moving company and keep working there.
Advanced Naturals Don’t Get Bigger Even When Their Strength Increases
The experts in natural lifting who are almost exclusively not natural say that if you add 50lbs to all the major lifts, you will experience a surge of extra growth. Sweet.
Unfortunately, many are at the point when adding 50lbs to a lift requires great sacrifices capable of producing undesirable results. But even if you succeed in gaining the extra pounds, muscular gains are not guaranteed because strength can be amplified without hypertrophy.
A more efficient central nervous system, stronger joints and denser muscles equal more strength without size. If your goal is hypertrophy, the extra weight is close to worthless.
This notion applies to advanced guys.
Who are those? If you ask Jason Blaha, advanced lifters are those benching 400 and squatting 600. Nonsense. Similar numbers are not anywhere near the natural potential. Sumo wrestlers are not included.
Here’s a more realistic definition of advanced – lifters with 3 or more years of persistent, consistent and determined lifting. That’s it. Numbers? They are individual.
Making Light Weights Heavy
The goal is not to lift the most weight. Never has been. That idea resides only in the mind of the delusional and unaware lifters. You can get stronger by lifting less.
Here’s an example representing a potent rage trigger for many.
In other words, grip that thing naturally.
This simple adjustment will make the lift much harder. Still not enough?
Try a snatch grip deadlift with a double overhand grip. The weight will be pathetic according to the professors’ standards, but in the end, you will be stronger without overloading your system.
Here’s a great comment that I received from a reader depicting his experience with the snatch grip deadlift coupled with a standard grip.
Are you kidding me… I swear I had the exact same reasoning as you 8 months ago.
I’ve been doing snatch grip deficit deadlifts for a year now, and considered the hook grip because I thought it would be impossible to hold on to the bar. I even used straps for my heaviest sets.
8 months ago i just said fuck it, if in a perfect environment with a tiny perfect barbell designed to be holded perfectly I can’t lift the weight because my grip is too weak, then there is no point in lifting the weight. You are only as strong as your weakest link, and in the real world your grip/forearm strength is the bridge between your other muscles and objects.
So I started snatch deadlifting with a double overhand.
And in the begining, I couldn’t hold on to it for my life. But now.. guess what, my forearms grew, and the grip is no longer that much of a limitation. deadlift strength went up tremendously, Even tho I always work with “suboptimal” weights. Plus I dont get fatigued as I did after the deadlift days.
Also. If I conventional deadlift, I can literally pull more with double overhand than mixed grip. And that is just f*cking amazing.
If you can’t grip a tiny perfect bar, how do you expect to hold on to messy shit in real life?
Double overhand forever
There are many ways to make an exercise harder without moving a baby elephant. For instance, deep high bar squats without a belt won’t allow you to hit your low bar numbers done with a thick belt around the waist but build just as much if not more strength.
Stagnation or content?
The world is super-focused on gains. The status quo is to want more and more and more and then some more.
We live our lives in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction precisely because we always ask for more. We are sad regardless of whether we get it or not. If you don’t succeed, you cry because your goal did not manifest. If you win, you are unhappy because your victory is not what it appeared to be. Besides, you can’t hold on to your success forever. It’s a lose-lose situation.
That mentality is not needed in the realm of natural bodybuilding.
What if I tell you that you can actually reach a state where you are good enough and stay there for a long time with minimal effort?
Some will say that this is stagnation, but stagnation and content have many overlapping points. What’s wrong with being happy with your current situation? Why should you always pursue a higher number? It makes no sense, especially if you are a natural. Why are you demolishing your joints? What are you trying to prove by playing hero in a sterile environment such as the gym?
Gains? You won’t get them as a natural.
But strength is the most important thing…blah….blah.
Strength is a nice product to sell. It’s attractive, seems healthy and promises muscles. Yet there are troubles under the hood. If you pursuit strength long enough, it will start to hurt you viciously while giving you almost nothing in return.
P.S. The book Potential: How Big You Can Get Naturally Is available for USD 7.55 until the end of the week. (the regular price is 14.99)