Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fuckarounditis

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Dear readers, it is with troublesome news I break my three months of silence.

The statistics all point towards the same conclusion: we have a global outbreak of fuckarounditis.


Fuckarounditis is a behavioral disorder characterized by a mediocre physique and complete lack of progress, despite significant amounts of time spent in the gym. 
Fuckarounditis most commonly manifests itself as an intense preoccupation with crunches, curls, cable movements, belts, gloves, balance boards, Swiss Balls and Tyler Durden. Fear of squats and deadlifts is another distinguishing trait. Physical exertion is either completely lacking or misapplied (towards questionable or unproductive training practices). 
Despite an alarming increase of fuckarounditis in recent years, prevalance may vary greatly depending on location. However, in most commercial gyms, it has been estimated that 90-100% of individuals are afflicted to varying degrees. 
Environment and social networks are crucial factors for triggering the disease. It has been proposed that the roots of the disease stems from misinformation and counterproductive training advice found in popular media ("fitness magazines") and information hubs on the Internet.  
Human nature and the so-called "laziness", "magic bullet" and "complacency" genes plays a permissive role for allowing the disease to take hold.
The disease spreads rapidly, as carriers of the disease communicate with other individuals in locker rooms, Internet discussion forums and other arenas of interaction and information exchange in real life or otherwise.   
The onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood and may go undiagnosed for a lifetime. Diagnosis is set by a professional and based on observed behaviors and physique progress.  
Symptoms, preventative measures and intervention strategies are reviewed and discussed. 

- Berkhan, M. (2011) "Targeting The Fuckarounditis Epidemic: Preventative Measures and Intervention Strategies." 


Fuckarounditis: A Serious Threat 


I have been trying to cure people of fuckarounditis since the late 90's, starting from the day I was first cleansed from it myself. Ever since I recognized the disease, I have acknowledged it as a serious threat to physique development and mental well-being. It is therefore with shock and horror I have watched an increasing number of people fall victim to the disease and the dubious training practices it inspires.

In educating myself of good strength training practices, I was very lucky. Yes, I wasted some time with the usual bench'n'curl/bodybuilding magazine-inspired crapola all my friends were doing, spending my time in the gym joking around more than doing any actual training. I was 16 or so when I first set my foot at the gym. (See "My Transformation" for pictures from this time period.)

However, I did not spend more than a few months fooling around with my friends. I found that I enjoyed strength training, so I started to take an increasing interest in the topic. I started to explore and I eventually came across an excellent resource that set the tone for my entire approach and attitude. The resource was the book Beyond Brawn by Stuart McRobert, and it taught me the value of working hard at the right things.

However, I may have never been lucky enough to find this tome of wisdom if I had first lost myself in the malicious maze that resides behind...the illusion of complexity.



The Illusion of Complexity


The Internet provides a rich soil for fuckarounditis to grow and take hold of the unsuspecting observer. Too much information, shit, clutter, woo-woo, noise, bullshit, loony toon theories, too many quacks, morons and people with good intentions giving you bad advice and uninformed answers. Ah yes, the information age.

Some of it is bullshit wrapped up in a fancy paper with scientific terms, elaborate detail, promising cutting edge strategies based on the latest research. This makes it easier to swallow for intellectuals and those seeking a quick fix; two different groups, both equally susceptible to bullshittery and easy prey for scam artists.

Yes, if anything has surprised me so far in my work, it's the complete disassociation between IQ and "exercise intelligence" (essentially common sense and knowledge in regards to training fundamentals). I have many clients from academic circles, many clients that are very successful financially and in their each respective field, but some were complete idiots with regards to their training before they came to me.

The problem at the core of the fuckarounditis epidemic is the overabundance of information we have available to us. If there are so many theories, articles and opinions on a topic, we perceive it as something complex, something hard to understand. An illusion of complexity is created.

We must read everything. Think long and hard about our choices. Only then can we hope to make an informed choice, we reason. And there are so many choices. Finally, that which we perceive as a good and informed choice is often the complete opposite, usually the result of whatever fad routine is trendy at the moment. Sometimes we do a little bit of everything - "can't be bad trying to be 'well-rounded' now, can it?" we foolishly argue.

When it comes to strength training, the right choices are limited and uncomplicated. There are right and wrong ways to do things, not "it depends", not alternative theories based on new science that we need to investigate or try. Basic do's and don't's that never change. Unfortunately, these fundamental training principles are lost to many, and stumbling over them is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Isn't it the same with nutrition? Do we have diet-related fuckarounditis? Sure enough, there's diet-related fuckarounditis; people who live in the fear of insulin faeries, avoid carbs like the plague for a few days and then binge the hell out of a few boxes of cereal, and never manage to get lean, for example.

However, in contrast to training-related fuckarounditis, rates of diet-related fuckarounditis have remained fairly stable. The lipophobes have merely been replaced by carbophobes. On the whole, I might even venture to say that people have been getting a bit smarter with regards to nutrition. Not so with training practices, unfortunately.

Yes, the global prevalence of fuckarounditis is increasing at an alarming rate. The plethora of bad choices increases at a much higher rate than the good choices. Soon the bad choices will all but drown out the good ones, I fear.


"I See Weak People"


In my dreams? No. In gyms? Yes. Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're weak.

The afflicted are everywhere; the Shape Magazine-reading receptionist who greets you at the gym, the 135-lb skinny-fat PT who tells you that deadlifts are off limits, the bandana wearing bro in the cable-cross machine and the guy with entire day devoted to "abs". All of them suffer to varying degrees of the debilitating disorder known as fuckarounditis. Yes, even you might be among the afflicted. Today you shall find out if there is cause for alarm.

Keep in mind that this is a disease that sneaks up on you and then progresses gradually. Some people walk around with a mild case of fuckarounditis that do not completely impair their results in its initial stages. In others, the disease has reached a severe state, which dramatically interferes with their progress and usually stalls it completely.

Finally, there are those who are all but lost and for whom there is little hope of a cure. Unfortunately, these people will probably never read this. They are too busy emulating the latest bodybuilding pro, doing the Biceps Blaster routine, or rolling around on a Swiss Ball somewhere.

How can you tell if you are suffering from the fuckarounditis? Ultimately, it boils down to your results and whether your progress is reasonable relative to the time you put in.

Let's be concrete and talk numbers. After all, there needs to be some overarching and objective way of judging whether you are afflicted or not.


Progress and Goals


For someone interested in aesthetics, which I assume most my readers are, relative strength is the single best measure of progress and the quality of your physique. Before seeing a picture of a client, I can easily get a very good idea of his or hers body composition by simply knowing three stats: weight, height and strength. Relative strength is therefore the parameter that will be used to determine reasonable rates of progress, which will then tell you whether you might be suffering of  fuckarounditis or not.

Within two years of consistent training on a decent routine, the average male should be able to progress to the following levels of strength (1RM):


Strength Goals: Intermediate

Bench press: body weight x 1.2

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.2 or 8 reps with body weight.

Squat: body weight x 1.6

Deadlift: body weight x 2

These numbers are for a raw (no straps, belt or knee wraps) single repetition.

The progress towards the intermediate strength goals should be fairly linear, meaning that there should be no plateaus that cannot be solved in an uncomplicated manner. By "consistent" training I do not mean never missing a training day, nor do I consider taking 2-3 months off from training consistent.

By "decent training routine", I mean "not doing blatantly stupid shit" (training 5-6 days/week, 20-25 sets for chest and arms, etc.). I do not mean optimal and flawless.


Strength Goals: Advanced 

Under the exact same conditions as the previous example, 3 out of 4 of the following goals should be reached within five years, along with all of the strength goals listed under "intermediate":

Bench press: body weight x 1.5

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.5 or 15 reps with body weight.

Squat: body weight x 2

Deadlift: body weight x 2.5


Strength Goals: Highly Advanced 

Under the exact same conditions, all of the following goals should be reached within ten years. Alternatively, 3 out of 4 should be reached, and one should be "Elite":

Bench press: body weight x 1.5, or x 1.8 (elite)

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.5 or 15 reps with body weight, or x 1.8 / 20 reps (elite)

Squat: body weight x 2, or x 2.4 (elite)

Deadlift: body weight x 2.5, or x 3 (elite)

"Elite" denotes one lift that is often ahead of the others. For example, people who are natural pullers (long arms) may very well hit a 3 x body weight deadlift before a 1.5 x body weight bench, and vice versa for the presser (short arms, stocky and barrel-chested) benching 1.8 x body weight but not being able to pull 2.5 x body weight in the deadlift.

The highly advanced strength goals falls in line with what could be considered the pinnacle of physique and strength development for most average and natural trainers. At this point, progress is very slow.

A 185-lb male that has been training consistently for 5-10 years should therefore be expected to:

Bench press 275-280 lbs.
Do a chin-up with 90-95 lbs hanging from his waist.
Squat 370 lbs.
Deadlift 460-465 lbs.

Respective goals for women:

For women in the 115-155-lb range, the corresponding advanced strength goals are 0.9 x body weight bench, 1.1 x body weight chin-up, 1.5 x body weight squat and 1.8 x body weight deadlift. Relative to men, women have much less muscle mass around the chest area and shoulder girdle (men have much higher androgen-receptor density in this particular area), but the lower body is comparativly strong to the upper body.

A 135-lb woman that has been training consistently for 5-10 years should then be expected to:

Bench press 120-125 lbs.
Do 4-5 chin-ups with body weight or do one with an extra 10-15 lbs hanging from her waist.
Squat 200-205 lbs.
Deadlift 225-230 lbs.

So where do you fall in regards to these goals? If you've met them, you've received a reasonable return on the time you've invested in your training and it's safe to say that you do not suffer from fuckarounditis - even if you have some of the symptoms, remember that it's not fucking around if what you're doing is working for you.

If you have not met them, then something is amiss. And if you can't do 8 good chin-ups or struggle with being able to bench press your body weight after a decade of working out....something is horribly amiss.

This is no laughing matter. I've had clients that spent 10-15 years working out with little or nothing to show for it and some made very basic mistakes that could have been fixed at an early stage. But as fuckarounditis took root, they seemed to only have succumbed deeper, eventually losing that last shred of training sense.

Taking early preventative measures is key. Where this is not possible, rapid intervention can save the situation. Enter The Fuckarounditis Test.


The Fuckarounditis Test


Please review these 25 common symptoms and behaviors associated with fuckarounditis. If you recognize yourself in any of these, and have not met the strength standards recently discussed, you must immediately cease the behavior and implement the necessary changes. There is no time to waste.


1. You don't keep track.

How much can you bench, squat and deadlift? How many chin-ups? You need to be able to answer those questions right now. Don't let me hear "I THINK I can" or "I'm not sure but...". You need to know how much weight you can maximally lift in one set when you're fresh.

Whether it's a set of 1, 4 ,6 or 8 reps doesn't matter. You need to have concrete reference points in order to evaluate your progress. Keep track of them in a training log. Not "in your head", write it down. The single act of writing it down is more important than you think, whether you keep those data points in a notebook, on your computer or on Post-It notes like me.

With tracking comes the motivation to train, the results and everything else. I can't even imagine where people get their motivation from if they don't keep track and just choose weights at random based on whatever feels good that day.

You should at all times be aware of the best performance in a few key lifts, your body weight and the conditions under which those sets were performed.

More on tracking progress and "checkpoints" in "How to Look Awesome Every Day".




When I recently evaluated client and American poker pro Phil Galfond's progress after his first month on my training routine, I was pleased to see his bench jump from his old personal best of 225 lbs x 4 to 225 lbs x 8 - and he's dieting. Phil says "The 4 to 8 rep jump is actually bigger than it sounds, since my 4 reps were done with terrible form, bouncing the weight as hard as I could, and the 8 reps were done very controlled." That's outstanding progress, but in order to spot it, you need to keep track. 


2. You are not methodical.

The only thing that should be changing from week to week is the load on the bar or the reps with the same load you used last time. If you're doing it right, these should be increasing. Everything else stays the same; the movements and the order you did them in, the sets and the rest periods in between sets. You don't add in new stuff.

This is the only way you can fairly evaluate your progress and see if you're headed in the right direction. It might sound tedious to keep doing the same movements every week and the appeal of "mixing it up" can seem strong.

However, the tediousness will soon be replaced by the much stronger joy you get from seeing your lifts go up on a weekly basis. Don't fall for "muscle confusion" bullshit. The only ones confused are the people who keep talking about such nonsense.

Mixing together too much shit and being methodical about the process was one of the fuckarounditis symptoms that plagued social media expert Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents, before I set him straight. Here's what I told him back when he asked me to comment on his "routine" before we started working together:

...Summing it up, I suspect that your laughable progress can be explained by the following: 
1. Your bullshit training routine, which is a haphazard mixture of strength and conditioning. Some people get decent results from CrossFit and the like, but it spells death for hardgainers like yourself. If we work together you will stop flopping around like a fool and start lifting heavy, with plenty of rest in between sets. 
2. Not tracking progress, be that in some key movements like chins, bench press, etc, or benchmark CrossFit-sessions (which I use regularly for CF clients). Training whatever feels good for the moment is one of the worst ways possible to make progress, not to mention serious progress. It's such a fucking waste of time that I was completely horrified of how you approached it all. That's going to change if we work together.
He has since then gained muscle, added more than a hundred pounds to the main lifts, and has not gained an iota of body fat. I cured him with lots of food and a simple regimen of basic movements done consistently on a weekly basis.


3. You don't plan for progress.

Never choose training weights at random. You look at what you used last session and make the choice based solely on that. Not on your ego. Not because you feel like trying higher or lower reps for shits and giggles.

There many good progression models but I will recommend two common models that I use depending on the situation.

Beginners and people who need a "reboot", i.e. they may have training experience but have been fucking around so much they're essentially at the beginner stage (e.g., I used a slightly modified SS routine for Julien), Starting Strength is an excellent model.

This is a very simple 3x/week-program with frequent training and practice of the Big Three (bench, squat and deadlift), starting at 1-3 sets of 5. Example:

Squat: 200 x 5 x 3.

When you can complete 3 sets of 5 reps with 200 lbs, resting 5 minutes between each set, increase the weight next session. The training load starts at your 7-8RM, which means that you do not go to failure initially.

For experienced trainers, I recommend the double progression model of reverse pyramid training. This is what built most of my physique and it's also by far the most common approach I use with clients. Example:

Squat: 200 x 6-8 x 2.

Set 1: 200 x 8
Rest 3-5 mins. Reduce the load by 10% for the second set.
Set 2: 180 x 8 (however many reps you can get)

When the highest number in the interval (6-8) is reached ("8" in this case), increase the weight by 2.5% or 5 lbs the next session. Thus in the above example, you would use 205 and 185 lbs for your sets the next time. All sets are to be performed with maximal effort and movements are only done once a week (3x/week training frequency). "Double progression" means that you progress both in reps and load; first you hit the reps you need, then you increase the load.

RPT is very time-efficient. It's also far superior to anything else I've tried for strength/muscle retention/muscle gain during a diet.


4. You're doing too much shit.

Be a minimalist, like me.



I snapped this yesterday and stay in this condition all year round. 

I built my physique with these movements primarily: squats, deadlifts, bench presses, chin-ups, triceps extensions and calf raises. These have remained staples throughout the years. I have flirted with other movements, but these were brief periods.

On the whole, that's one movement per muscle group, with the exception of abs and biceps, which I never really trained except for early in my training career, and then very sporadically every once in a while.

The point is that most people are doing too much shit. This dilutes the focus and effort that they are able to put into that which really delivers.


5. You think more about supplements than squats.

No single factor in strength training receives so much attention, yet deliver so little in return. Don't play the fool who chases magic pills, thinking it will compensate for a lack of effort, a fundamentally flawed training routine or a poor diet.

There are supplements that you might actually find useful, but they won't turn the tide if what you're doing right now is not working without them.


6. You're lifting weights for the calorie burn.

Strength is strength. Cardio is cardio. Don't mix, keep them separate, and use cardio sparingly on a diet or if your primary goal is strength and muscle gain.

If you're adding 2-3 sessions of HIIT to your 3 sessions of weights, it is almost comparable to adding 2-3 days of weights. Keyword is "almost", I'm obviously not drawing direct comparisons. That's all fine and dandy if you think working out 5-6 days/week is a good idea on a diet. But I don't think anyone - no matter what level of experience - needs more than 3 days a week in the gym when cutting. (Yes, this goes for competitors and beginners alike.)
In conclusion, if conditioning is not terribly important for you, if your goal is really about getting shredded while keeping your muscle, I highly suggest limiting moderate to high intensity cardio on a diet - or ditch it completely. Save it for some other time when your recovery is good and not limited by your diet.

A calorie deficit is a recovery deficit. Avoid deficit spending.

My full answer here.



Rickard Nikoley is one of those I saved from fuckarounditis. Before I intervened, Richard was flopping around like a monkey in the gym. Nothing good came from that. There's nothing primal or Paleo about being weak. I cured him with squats, bench presses, deadlifts and proper rest periods. That way he could put up the effort when it counted.



7. You're looking a bit too happy in there.

If you're not grimacing, grunting, or experiencing some sort of discomfort, you're not training hard enough. One good set where you have to fight for the reps is better than a week of half-ass sets.


8. You spend more than 5 minutes on abs.

If you can't see your abs, you need to unfatten yourself. Simple as that. You can't spot reduce and you'll get plenty of ab work with squats, deadlifts, chin-ups and overhead presses. Let me see someone at 5-6% body fat deadlift 2.5-3 x body weight for reps with with weak abs and underdeveloped abs. It ain't happening.

I'll allow you one set of "abs". Beyond that don't waste your time with crunches, ab machines, hanging leg raises or whatever the hell you're doing. It won't give you shit and it will only suck time and energy from what you should be doing.


9. Is this you?


10. You're afraid of "bulky muscles" and use terms like "toning."

Women, you need to put down those pink dumbbells, throw that Shape Magazine in the trash can and stop with this nonsense. You seem to believe that the modest amount of strain will cause you to wake up looking like a bodybuilder in the morning. Horseshit. You're not using enough drugs to ever come close to looking muscle bound. With the training intensity I see most women apply in the gym, they might as well skip weight training altogether and stay on the treadmill.
.




Jenn has actually gotten stronger since she shot that video; she's now up to 27.5 lbs added weight. That's more than 99% of the guys at my gym...and I bet it's more than many male readers of this site as well. Her routine?

Day 1 (Monday)

5-min walk for warm-up.
Deadlift 2-3 sets of 4-5 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins.
Leg extensions - Same setup as deadlifts, but reps a bit higher (6-8).
Rest 5-10 mins.
Chins - Same as deads.



Day 3 (Wednesday)

5-min walk for warm-up.
Bench press 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins
Pull-ups 2-3 sets with body weight.
Rest 5-10 mins


Day 5 (Friday)

Squats 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins.
Walking lunges 2-3 sets same as squats.
Rest 5-10 mins.

Overhead Press 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins



That's the routine Jenn was doing when she sent me the video and the one she gained all that strength on. This is a solid routine, regardless of gender, and it's vastly superior to what you're doing if you're in the fuckarounditis camp. Why not try it and see for yourself? Throw in a set or two of curls, triceps and calves if you want but don't mess with it beyond that. 


11. You're "training the core"...and it involves a Swiss Ball, Bosu Ball or something else that makes you look like an idiot.

"Training the core" is a phrase that is all too often used by people who are afraid to squat. You don't need special movements for the core, because it comes with the territory if you squat, deadlift, press and chin. No one squats 2 x body weight with a weak core.


12. You want that Tyler Durden look.

Whenever I hear a client say this, alarm bells go off. There's nothing wrong in having ideals. The problem is all the pain I feel after seeing the dumb shit that follows in the questionnaire, under the part where I ask them about their current training routine. I'll often see some horrifying cardio/pump'n'tone hybrid, some celebrity workout variety or the kind you'd expect to see in those kind of routines. Nothing more faddish than made-up "celebrity workouts". God damn, how I hate those.

Want to look like Tyler Durden? Then you need to build up some modest amount of muscle and then you need to lose fat, period. The muscle is best built with heavy weight training, not 15-25-rep set flyes followed by an hour in the pec deck machine. Your gut is best lost with a good diet, not "fat burning workouts"/tons of cardio/pump'n'tone crapola. All those will do is leave you under-muscled, weak and with a severe case of fuckarounditis.



The Tyler Durden look, brought to you by squats, deadlifts, bench, chin-ups and a good diet. When this client told me that he was "closing in on his goal" of achieving a physique similar to that of Brad Pitt, AKA Tyler Durden in "Fight Club", I told him to gain some fat, start smoking, get into a fight, and stop training his arms and shoulders. (The implication of that being that he had already surpassed his goal.)


13. You're using belts, gloves and straps for no good reason.

What is your reason exactly? Don't use equipment as a crutch.


14. You avoid squats and deadlift, because you think they'll give you a wide waist.

Bitch please. Yes, squats and deadlifts will put muscle on your obliques and thicken up your lower back. But weighted chin-ups or pull-ups will give you wider lats, and if you train all these movements, your waist-to-shoulder ratio will develop very favorably. Training all these movements will also help you grow some balls, so you can finally stop making up bullshit excuses for why you shouldn't train hard (AKA squat and deadlift).

Petter, the Tyler Durden lookalike, was squatting and deadlifting regularly on my routine. Last time I checked,  he was squatting 2 x body weight (300 lbs) for 9 reps. He was also close to being able to complete a one-arm pull-up. Does it look like he has a wide waist? Are my clients notable for their wide waists? Take your "wide waist"-argument/excuse and shove it up your ass right now.

What's funny is that this argument is usually brought up by guys who want a "Hollywood"/underwear model type physique. They're often a) dieting, b) not training legs and c) likely doing tons of cardio. That particular combination will strip off whatever little leg muscle they have faster than Gary Busey can do a gram of coke off his dog Chili's back. It leaves them looking pathetic and weak, and if that sounds good to you then go ahead.


15. Doing this?


16. Are you still warming up? I can't tell.

A warm-up is a warm-up. Treat it as such. It should be light, just enough to get the blood flowing and prepare the nervous system for the real stuff. It should never cause fatigue or interfere with your performance in the work sets. All the time, I see people doing sets of 10-15 reps before they get to something that remotely resembles their real set. Which is completely retarded, because you will be fatigued and glycogen-depleted, and your performance in the work sets will be limited for metabolic reasons, and not limited by your actual strength.

The only standing recommendation I have regarding warm-ups is for compound movements: 1-3 sets of 4-6 reps of 40%-80% of target weight for the first work set. Warm-ups for assistance movements is whatever you feel is needed. Personally, I only warm up for squats, deadlift, bench press and chins. If you do these at the start of your workout, which you should, you'll find that they usually get your whole body warmed up, which makes warm-ups redundant or entirely unnecessary for the rest of the workout.


17. Are you still warming up? I can't tell. What's that? You're already done and I can take the bench?

Let's see some fucking effort next time. Don't take up precious space here when you can get a better workout from walking your dog through the park outside.

You can be doing everything perfectly, but you will not go anywhere if you're not willing to experience discomfort on a regular basis. If you're in the gym 5-6 days a week, lack of effort might actually be the explanation for your lack of progress. If you were actually in there training hard, most people wouldn't be coming back for more 5-6 days a week.


18. Was this you?

Learn good form early, so you don't have to pay for it with injuries and shitty results later down the road. Don't let your ego screw you and don't slap on weight indiscriminately. Be methodical and patient.

No need to be a form nazi either. People who "practice" form in all eternity are sometimes just afraid to train hard. Striving for picture perfect form on your final reps can be counterproductive when taken to the extreme.



19. Your workout buddy gets a set of barbell rows on the house when he "spots" you benching.

Tell him to keep his fingers off the damn bar and assist you as little as possible and only when it's truly needed; meaning only if you are about to fail on the very last rep in the set. Don't be one of those clowns slapping on twice of what they could lift by themselves to stroke their ego. It looks pathetic and it will make it impossible for you to properly evaluate your progress.

And for me, an unwanted spotter can make it hard to evaluate the progress of the client, like I had to explain to this actor/client:


I am your trainer, the guy who follows you around is only there to make sure your form is not completely retarded. His function right now should be redundant. I assume you know how to perform most movements well by now. If he interferes with your sets, he is counterproductive to the outcome.  
You're my only client right now with a personal trainer on top of the help you receive from me. I imagine he is eager to "correct" your form and tinker with your training in any way he can in order to not feel useless. Make sure he stays out of it beyond spotting you on some sets where it's warranted (i.e. when and if you are about to fail). Some PTs can't even get that part right and goes way overboard with the helping part.  
This is another danger of having him around, as it gets impossible for me to measure your progress (strength gains) accurately (i.e. did you gain strength since the last session or did he just help you more this time?). Make it very clear to him when and how he should help (last rep you can't complete by yourself).
This actor played a key role in an award winning and Oscar-nominated movie last year. I'm preparing him for a new movie with some very big names that start shooting early next year. I can't tell you more beyond that, but rest assured that his "celebrity workout" does not include mickey mouse curls supersetted with cable flyes, or anything of the usual variety you read about in magazines.



20. You obsess about "tempo".

Forget about tempo. Tempo takes care of itself if you're working with heavy weights (80% 1RM / 8 reps or less), because your control over the load is very limited. Lift the damn weight, repeat, it's that simple. Don't overthink it.

Tempo was hot stuff a few years ago and frequently discusses in articles an on the boards. It seems to have slipped off the radar now. Why? Because it's yet another distraction from the important stuff.



21. You're into "functional" training.

But you can't squat body weight and your "functional" muscle mass is non-existent. Unless you're an athlete with a very good reason, stay the hell away from anything that involves Swiss Balls, balance boards or pogo sticks.



22. You're the guy who sent me these two direct messages 5 minutes after I tweeted this:

do you think 8x20 abs is enough ?? i do hanging superstrict..really feel working lower abs!!. also i need bcaa if i situps in fasted state??
also how much bcaa u recommend


23. You're working on your "lagging biceps", but you can't even do 8 chin-ups with good form.

First of all, you're weak and fat. Second of all, body part specialization has its place, but it's always the ones least qualified that are doing it. Worry about body part specialization after you achieve the major goalposts involving the muscle group that lags behind. Until then, body part specialization is a distraction that will interfere with your development as a whole.

Let's see if your chest and your shoulders are lagging once you can bench 1.5 x body weight or overhead press your body weight and if your legs and back are lagging with a 2 x body weight squat and 2.5 x body weight deadlift. Keep doing targeted work for muscle groups like triceps, hams and calves.

Yes, you can keep a few sets of curls in there, but 2-3 sets is enough for now. Do you really think your guns will be lagging once you're doing chin-ups with 100 lbs hanging from your waist? My clients have told me they saw more biceps growth from the increased focus on weighted chin-ups than any amount of curls they did in the past. I never spent any time on curls and they grew just fine from all those chin-ups. I can say for damn sure you'll put on a good deal of size on your arms if you add 50 lbs to whatever you can chin-up right now.

Ask Paul Wilson and his 8 reps with 110 lbs of solid chin-up mastery:





Paul flexing in exclusive LG Gear, only available as an award for excellency and strength.



24. You think ripped abs will get you laid.

I hate to bust your bubble lil' buddy, but women don't give a shit beyond a guy looking reasonably fit. Lower than 10-12% body fat won't make an ounce of a difference. If women is your main motivation for dieting, don't bother getting shredded. Women have similar delusions in terms of thinking men like them super-skinny.

Training to be liked by others is a very poor motivational factor in itself. You need internal motivation, not external. No one that ends up making something out of his or hers physique, something impressive and head-turning, gets there by training to get liked by others. It might have started out as such, but it changes. I think this quote sums up why and how we make it:

You have to discipline yourself, and through this discipline will come some level of achievement, and from this achievement will come your pride.
- David Lee Roth.

And then there's the fact that nothing beats the feeling you get from breaking a new personal record. Some of the happiest moments I remember are from walking home after a new 20-rep squat record way back in the days. Walking up stairs was like being repeatedly stabbed with a blunt and rusty butterknife. But it was still pure bliss.


25. You have all kinds of elaborate excuses for why you don't need to squat and deadlift.

You get your leg training from playing soccer, you're afraid you might hurt your back, you read somewhere that single-leg training is better, you talk about rear-foot elevated split squats with a 45-degree twist during the concentric being the future of leg training, etc. Horseshit, all of it.

Listen carefully. Squats and deadlifts are undisputably the two best full body movements in the god damn Universe and that's reason enough to be doing them.

But that's not the whole story. Their true greatness lies in the mental fortitude they foster if you train them hard and consistently. This will benefit your training as a whole and leave echoes in your life outside the gym.

Did I miss something? Well, I actually left a few signs and symptoms out because this article was getting way too long for my own good and it feels like my eyes are bleeding right now. I thought I'd leave it up to you to finish it.


The #Fuckarounditis Contest

You need to do three things if you want to be eligible for participation in the contest:

1. Follow me on Twitter.

2. Tweet or retweet this article.

3. Send me your best/funniest/most original fuckarounditis symptom in 140 signs by using a hashtag followed by fuckarounditis, like this: #fuckarounditis (so it'll actually be less than 125 signs not counting #fuckarounditis). That way I can click the hashtag and see all contributions.

The contest will be running from today until the end of October (ends Oct 31st). After the end of the contest, I'll pick 5-10 winners that each will receive $100 by PayPal. That's five, ten or any number of winners in between, I'll just pick whatever great contributions I get. I'll announce the winners shortly thereafter and they will be added to this article.

Important: Don't PM/email/write your contribution in comments. I already get too many emails and PMs to keep up and I want to keep all contributions in one place: on Twitter. So you make your contribution by: (text goes here) #fuckarounditis. I'll be retweeting good ones on a daily basis. When I choose the winners I'll go through my retweets and pick 5-10 winners.





My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

Welcome to the Internet's leading resource on intermittent fasting and all things related.

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