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01 July 2015

Hey Paleotards- You're Doing It Wrong, Fuckfaces.

One of the most frustrating things about the internet is that while it provides a bounty of information, there's nearly as much conflicting information or misinformation as there is useful information, and for the average person it's incredibly difficult to differentiate between the wheat and the chaff.  It's almost as if a blind man got dropped off on an island populated by 50% gorgeous women and another 50% trolls in corsets, Spanx, and sexy clothing- it's gonna be hard as shit for him to determine which broad would get him high fives from his bros and which would get him mocked on Facebook for the rest of his life.  Tragically, I think the worst subjects in this regard are training and diet, both of which are written about extensively, but at least half of the missives penned seem to be the produce of minds rocked by people with IQs below room temperature.


Paleolithic dieting is perhaps the worst of sub-subjects to diet, because even outside of the internet there appears to be no consensus among authors about what, exactly, paleo dieting is.  In fact, the debate about what actually constitutes paleo is frankly more mind boggling than the fact that anyone finds Jack Black to be amusing.  To date, I've read the following paleo books:
I'll hardly assert that having read the above makes me some sort of an expert on the subject of paleolithic dieting, but I've done a tremendous amount of research into the actual archaeology and into the evolution of fruits and vegetables, which puts me heads and shoulders above all but perhaps three of the above listed authors.  Before we delve into the actual archaeology, however, I felt it necessary to employ some aid from renowned internet paleo author J. Stanton, author of Gnoll Credo, to help me flesh out the divisions in the paleo community.  You know, so I can eviscerate half of the internet for being the dumb fucks they are thereafter.  As such, the following portion was cowritten by both Stanton and myself.

The Main Paleo Categories

Strict Paleo

“I determined, therefore, to eat only those foods that would be available to me if I were naked of all technology save that of a convenient sharp stick or stone.” (Ray Audette, Neanderthin) As mentioned above, this is for all intents and purposes the paleolithic dieting bible for anyone actually concerned with dieting in the manner of our ancestors.  In practice his statement means meat, fat, organs, and any other unprocessed animal product from animals fed and finished on grass (or forage, in the case of non-grass-eaters like chickens); fish and shellfish; eggs; tree nuts; vegetables; roots; berries; mushrooms. Cooking is permitted, but dairy products, legumes, grains, potatoes, sugar, added salt, and processed foods of any kind are not.  For reasons that will be covered later in the article, fruit is allowed but limited.  Raw honey is allowed but very strictly limited to small amounts.

My two cats, Clean and Sober, just think I'm TOPS!

Traditional Paleo 

This trend is currently exemplified by Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution and the Hartwigs’ It Starts With Food / Whole 30.  Building upon strict paleo, it brings the additions of delicious, delicious salt, and other spices (except soy sauce and other grain-derived sauces), sweet potatoes (but not white potatoes), cooking oils made from animals or fruits (tallow, coconut, palm, olive).  Clarified butter gets a hall pass, as do limited amounts of coffee, tea, mate, etc.  Red meat is encouraged over white, eating the entire animal (offal and all) is encouraged, and there is a bit of fat-phobia in Wolf’s book, though he's backed away from that position somewhat over time.  This diet is also more tolerant of processed food, but it doesn't allow for “Paleo” junk food nonsense like "paleo cookies" and "paleo pizza", even if it is made with coconut flour, arrowroot, or other technically "legal" ingredients, no matter how much people who "have been on paleo for 4 days and just feel TOPS" might whine.

This pic pretty much sums up the word primal, even if the diet doesn't.

Primal

Primal is Mark Sisson’s brainchild, and is explained in his book Primal Blueprint.  Primal includes all of the Traditional paleo foods with the inexplicable additions of white potatoes (an explanation on why white potatoes aren't paleo is forthcoming.  Just keep yer britches on.), dairy if you tolerate it well, and gluten-free soy sauce is OK.  Though he's apparently a glutard, his diet is fat-tolerant, as his general recommendation for carbs is around 150g/day depending on one's goals.  Completely counter to Audette, for whom cheating on a diet is tantamount to (and possibly worse than) cheating on one's spouse, primal is more tolerant of occasional cheating (the famous “80/20 rule”).  It's essentially paleo-lite for housewives.  In spite of that, Sisson was the first paleo source to cover issues like sleep and exercise in addition to diet, which makes his approach not entirely crap.

Captain Potato there in the middle is 3 years old and weighs 154 lbs.  One potato, two potato, three potato, CHOMP.

Perfect Health Diet

The PHD is essentially Primal with the addition of white rice and a few other tropical “safe starches” (e.g. cassava, sago, taro, tapioca).  This diet recommends a starting point of appx. 15-20% protein, 50-60% fat, and 20-30% carbs, with modifications to suit various specific goals like hypertrophy or weight loss.  It's focused on nutrients like a fat kid with Prader-Willi syndrome on an ice cream cone, with specific recommendations for quantities of organ meats, bone broths, fatty fish and shellfish, etc.  It's more in line with Audette, even if the food choices aren't, because the PHD is less tolerant of outright cheating but more tolerant to occasional low-fructose sweeteners like dextrose and rice syrup.


Specialized and obsolete versions of “Paleo”

Being something of a fad diet, certain versions of paleo have gone the way of reel to reel, the Dreamcast, the RCA video record player, and the Shake Weight.  Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, stop and consider the fact that paleo is, for all intents and purposes, a fad diet.  It arose out of a series of articles in mainstream journals about "Ancestral Diets" in the 1980s, turned into "Evolutionary Medicine," and then became a diet with something of a cult following in health food stores.  Later, CrossFit boxes abandoned the archaic Zone diet and pushed paleo's popularity further, but since everyone has the attention span of either Lindsey Lohan or a gnat (they're basically the same thing), paleo was dropped like a fat girl in swing class when everyone decided that gluten was the enemy and moved on to glutardation.  I'm certainly not suggesting that the paleo diet isn't useful, but rather that, like any other diet, its popularity will wax and wane with media coverage and, sadly, internet message board discussions.


Autoimmune Paleo 

Autoimmune paleo was essentially traditional paleo minus all of the nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, all peppers, both sweet and hot, eggplant, white potatoes, and the few common allergens remaining in a paleo diet, like eggs, nuts, and shellfish.  This diet was typically only used by people with autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, and although it was generally very helpful for them, it fell out of fashion faster than two polo shirts worn at once with popped collars.


Cordain’s original Paleo Diet

This is perhaps one of the saddest books ever produced, because Cordain created a trend that flew in the face of his own research harder than that bird that smashed Fabio's nose.  It's likely that Cordain wishes he could gather up all of those books and burn them, because what he essentially did was try to combine the low fat-faddism of the 1990s with paleolithic eating, which essentially created a horrifying chimera of diets that resembled the monster at the end of The Thing.  In spite of the fact that Cordain suggested in "Implications of Plio-Pleistocene Hominin Diets for Modern Humans" that hunter gatherers' diets (which he believe mirror paleolithic diets in many ways) contained between 19% and 35% fat, the original Paleo Diet includes bizarre admonitions like “cut all the fat off your meat and then fry it in flaxseed or canola oil.”  Luckily, he managed to get his wits about himself in the last ten years and replaced his original pile of trash with a much more sensible and accurate book,  The Paleo Answer.

Though these diets are all fairly disparate, they have a number of critical features in common:

  • No grains.  That means no bread, no cereal, no crackers, no tortillas or chips.  (Exception: Perfect Health Diet allows white rice in moderation.)  Grains (wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats, rye, and other seeds and grasses) weren't eaten much in the paleolithic because they require milling and long cooking to be made edible.  Raw grain plus water essentially equals paper mache, and there's not a primate on Earth that can eat paper mache without shitting their proverbial pants.
  • No grain products.  This means no “vegetable oils” like corn, soy, sunflower, grapeseed, and canola, no corn syrup or Frankengredients like TVP (textured vegetable protein).  That pretty much puts 75% of the supermarket off limit if you're any kind of paleo.
  • No peanuts or peanut butter.  They’re a legume, not a nut.  Plus they’re only 18% poor-quality protein (PDCAAS = 0.5) with boatloads of inflammatory linoleic acid (“omega-6 fat”).  Peanuts, like corn, also contain a fungi called aflatoxins which is one of the most carcinogenic toxic substances known.  There's no treatment for aflatoxin infection, either- once you have it, you have it.  Cooking can kill aflatoxins, but it's not 100% effective- for some reason ancient man knew this, but flight attendants don't.
  • No sugar except what naturally occurs in fruit, and limited amounts of honey.  Obviously, ancient man had little access to sugar cane, and they certainly weren't going to tangle with a bunch of bees for honey on a regular basis.  Thus, sugar and honey are pretty much out, which basically eliminates all junk food from one's diet when combined with the grains.

In short, no matter what kind of paleo you're doing, you're essentially limited to the meat counter, the produce section, the spice rack, and maybe a stop in dairy.  As J Stanton puts it “Eat anything you could pick, dig, or spear.  Mostly spear.”  He's got an article to that effect called “Eat Like A Predator, Not Like Prey.”  One caveat to the "dig" portion of Stanton's quote I'd like to point out, and one to which I alluded earlier, is regarding modern tubers and fruits.  Agriculture does funny things to food, and fruits and tubers are perhaps some of the best- they in no way resemble their ancestors.  Tubers, for instance, were basically oblong pieces of bark with a tiny bit of meat in the middle.  According to Loren Cordain (the academic, not the shitpile author of pandering diet books), most of tuber eating was chewing on and digesting insoluble fiber- paleolithic man got over 100g of fiber daily from gnawing on tubers .

Apparently, there is a trend among hippie to engage in "aboriginal birch bark biting."  I just don't even know what the fuck is going on in the world anymore.

Because eating tubers was so time intensive (and likely led to more TMJ than a 12 hour stint at a glory hole), tubers were likely the initial objectives of cooking (Ungar 36).  Tuber consumption increased concomitantly with meat consumption and was likely the fallback food for primitive man, no doubt because that fiber filled up empty bellies (Ungar 203).  That, however, is a far cry from the sugary-sweet sweet potatoes with Saran Wrap-thin skin upon which you'll see your typical paleo advocate munching.

They might look like funny-colored cherries, but those are actually what apples looked like in the paleolithic.

Similarly, white potatoes in no way resemble their ancient ancestors.  The wild potato, which still grows in Peru (where it was originally domesticated 7000-10000 years ago), is more bitter than a fat girl on prom night, more gnarled than your great grandma's arthritic hands, and thicker skin than what's likely on your palms.  Apples in the paleolithic were little larger than cherries and were incredibly tart- in fact, they were far more like the crab apples that litter your driveway every fall than the Granny Smith you see in the grocery store.  If you want to see what an ancient strawberry looks like, look no further than a wild strawberry- they're basically the size of blueberries and about as tart as a lemon.  In short, none of the produce you're eating is paleo, and tubers and fruits are the worst culprits in this regard.


I'll continue this insanely lengthy article soon and hash out more of the reasons why people who eat paleo aren't, in fact, eating like paleolithic man.  Unfortunately, the introduction to the disparate types of paleo dieting took so long it left me with little room for explication of the difference between modern paleolithic eating and the actual diets of paleolithic man.  In any event, there's plenty more to cover, so we're going to school these paleotards like they're sitting in those tiny chairs with the desk attached.  Luckily, their legs are so fucking skinny form all of the cycling and jogging that they can probably fit- let's just hope they've eaten enough calories to hold onto their crayons as they take notes.

One final note- I love the idea of paleolithic dieting.  I just hate the motherfuckers who do it.

29 June 2015

Movies, Music, and Books That Are Devils Rejects Approved

For whatever reason, I've had brutal writer's block on training and diet.  I've got a couple of articles in the works, namely on on Paleo dieting and the third powerbuilding article, but I've hit a wall on both.  Since I've not posted anything in over a month, I figured I'd hit you guys with something, which I suppose is better than nothing at all.  Thus, I give you another installment of the books/movies/music series that might give you guys some entertainment while you wait for me to get my head out of my ass.

Yeah, I realize this is from House of 1000 Corpses, but the gif rules and it's from the same series, so suck it,

For those of you who are unaware, The Devil's Rejects has been one of my favorite movies since it dropped.  From the "I am the Devil, and I'm here to do the Devil's work" line to Sheri Moon Zombie looking ridiculously hot in ripped up jeans to Bill Mosely's insanely brutal portrayal of a cop driven to the brink of insanity by a foe more evil than he could conceive, The Devil's Rejects has it all.  If you've not seen it, it's basically Natural Born Killers with far more brutality, less weirdness, and a much, much hotter lead actress.  Given my predisposition to liking movies of that ilk, I decided to make a list of films, books, and bands that would be appreciated by people who share my appreciation for that film- in other words, for people who want it filthy, sexual, and violent.  With that, here's a list of movies, books, and albums that have fit that bill in recent months.

Movies

Avenged- This is probably one of the coolest movies I've ever seen, and was life-affirming in the same way The Woman was- it pointed out the hypocrisy of "civilized" people and illustrated the nobility of "savages".  Basically a mashup of The Crow and Last House on the Left, it's about a deaf woman who is raped and killed while traveling cross country to live with her fiancée and is then resurrected by an Indian shaman and has to kill everyone before she rots to bits.  It's so brutal maggots actually fly off her as she beats the brakes off of a pack of white trash hell bent on killing Indians for no good reason.  Yeah, it's that awesome.  In the meantime, her fiancée is trying to murder rednecks and while he fails miserably, murders abound.



Rites of Passage- Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff in a movie in which everyone is whacked out of their head on Indian drugs or meth, Christian Slater has a sock puppet friend who talks to him, and titties abound.  Something of a whodoneit, it's a bit of a slasher flick, a bit of a stoner flick, and a bit of a mystery.  Plus, with Christian Slater as a meth-addicted greenhouse keeper hellbent on revenge against a college-girl drunk driver as the side story, you really can't go wrong.  Not the greatest movie in history, but certainly an awesome way to spend a slightly drunken evening watching A minus to B grade horror films.



ABCs of Death 2- If you enjoyed any of the V/H/S movies or if you're a fan of short story books like Steven King's amazing Night Shift and Skeleton Crew, you will love this film.  Comprised of 26 short films, each film is associated with a letter and conveys a different message.  The best of the bunch are certainly D is for Deloused (a truly disturbing stop-motion short film that has inspired me to get a tattoo of the line "You pay for life" somewhere on me this year), X is for Xylophone (starring the awesome Beatrice Dalle from Inside and featuring some awesome gore effects), and then the best part of the entire film, Z is for Zygote, which is perhaps one of the most fucked up things I've seen in the last year.  Even if you watch nothing else in this movie, check out Deloused and Zygote.  You can skip P is for P-P-P-P SCARY!, which is utter dogshit (if not still a bit disturbing), and cartoonist Bill Plympton's utter work of trash, H is for Head Games.  Beyond those two, though, everything else ranges from entertaining to fucking awesome.



Inside- Without question, the most brutal movie I've seen in the last few years.  Inside's plot is essentially this- a woman who is scheduled to give birth on Christmas Day, whose husband died in a horrific car accident, is stalked and attacked repeatedly by a female assailant in her home.  The gore is off the charts and none of it is CGI- it's good, old fashioned gore effects.  I won't give away the ending, but you literally cannot conceive of the brutality of this movie, and the opening credits wherein it's nothing but oozing, pooling blood pretty much sums up the movie.  I honestly cannot recommend this movie enough if you like gore and psychological horror.


Wyrmwood- If there was ever a unique zombie film, this is it.  Not only do the protagonists in the movie have the sense to armor up, which in and of itself makes the movie worth watching, but there are a number of unique twists in this movie that make it worth a watch.  Telepathy, zombie-breath-run vehicles, and armor-clad Kiwis make this movie fucking amazing.



Music
Nasty- Shokka.  I've loved Nasty for years, and they keep getting better.  German beatdown hardcore with a groove.  What more can you ask for?  And if you don't know of Nasty- check out their last album as well- "Love".  The tracks "My Brain Went Terribly Wrong" and "Look at Me, and Fuck You" are amazing.  Shokka picks up where that album left off, and Nasty just keeps getting harder and ... nastier.



Rise of the North Star is an awesome throwback to the mid 90s rapcore scene, with a bunch of weird Japanophile nonsense thrown on top for good measure.  Surprisingly, they're a Parisian band, making them the hardest thing to come out of France since Clovis and the Franks won the battle of Tours.  Even if you don't like rapcore, think of a harder version of E-Town Concrete but more fun.



Books

Monster Hunter Nemesis- Larry Correia  I've mentioned this series on numerous occasions, and with the exception of one installment, it has never failed to entertain.  This one, however, is even harder than the rest.  More blood, more gore, more fighting, and weirder monsters.  Well worth the $8.  Seriously, pick this up.



Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors Part I- Randy Roach  This is the single greatest resource on the history of strength training and bodybuilding I've ever found.  Combined with the Super-Athletes, you literally don't need another book on the subject of physical culture if you want information on any facet of it- from training methods to diet to overall culture, this has it all.  Additionally, it chronicles the feuds within bodybuilding, the feud between bodybuilding and Olympic weightlifting, and the rise of powerlifting.  Expensive, but well worth the price.


Better Nutrition- Bob Hoffman Although it's about as archaic as the Gutenberg printing press it's old enough to have been printed upon, it's an important look into the history of bodybuilding and strength training nutrition.  Written by the godfather of American Olympic weightlifting, this was a pioneering work in nutrition at the time it was written.  Hoffman was the first lifter to really espouse a high protein diet, though he also suggested that lifters should eat soy in large amounts, and he really seemed to be prescient about where bodybuilding and strength training nutrition would go in the future.

So, there you go- a little something to keep you entertained while I figure out how to write again.  If you're curious, the things I'm reading now are The Rise of Superman by Kotler, which is about managing flow to become a better athlete, Machine Man, which is a book on transhumanism that I'm rereading for that series, and the Crossed graphic novel, which is an ultra-violent and sexual comic about an apocalypse in which people contract a disease that puts a crucifix on their face, then makes them feral, hypersexual killing machines.  All three are awesome, if you've interest in things other than what I listed above.

28 April 2015

Natty Or Not? Not That Anyone Should Give Two Fucks: The History of Performance Enhancing Substances

Zero fucks are given.

Interestingly, when I began lifting weights, steroids were not a topic of discussion.  Of course, we knew some people used gear and took it for granted that the top pros used shit, but no one actually cared.  It didn't stop us from following their programs, from lifting 10 times a week, or from doing 60 sets a bodypart.  Instead, it gave us an aspirational goal which, while probably unrealistic, made us shoot for the stars.  It made us definitively and pointedly better, because it gave us supermen for idols- it gave us a huge goal for which to shoot that kept us from being mired in the mediocrity in which modern lifters seem eminently comfortable.


Doug Young- literally everything millenials aren't.

For the modern lifter, that must seem completely insane- modern lifters spend more time programming and making excuses for their shit lifts than they actually spend lifting.  They endlessly discuss their lack of progress, parse their programs, and nitpick their form, because doing all of that shit means they never actually have to exert themselves in the gym.  They've given all of the societal indications of caring without actually putting their heart and soul into training, which is what we used to do, and it's why we succeeded in spite of the fact that our programming and exercise choices were often subpar, led astray by the evil left hands of Ben and Joe Weider.


Natty bros, the guy on the left is to blame for your plight- Dr. JB Ziegler.  He brought steroids into the American zeitgeist.

Then, we have the "natty" excuse, an excuse so hollow and pathetic it is difficult to describe the contempt for it that I have.  Bear in mind, I never even saw a capsule of dianabol until I was 32- I knew of steroids, and I knew people who used them, but I never gave a shit.  I didn't give a shit because I knew I could succeed without any assistance, and did so.  I didn't look to "gurus" to assuage my ego with limits on my natural progress, begging them for an upper end to my gains by which I could measure myself as the peak of potential "natty" gains.  The idea that I was limited by genetics or "nattiness" never occurred to me.  likely because I am not the biggest fucking pussy on Earth, and the fact that I've read enough that I know that winners will always do what it takes to win.  Always.  Thus, when I needed a boost, I would take one, but until then, I would strive mightily against genetics, gravity, and humanity in a bold effort to transcend the normal and achieve the impossible.


Elite and not a bit sorry about it.

Don't believe me about the fact that winners will do what it takes to win?  Well, science says "go fuck yourself", because you're obviously not a winner.  A "researcher, Bob Goldman, began asking elite athletes in the 1980s whether they would take a drug that guaranteed them a gold medal but would also kill them within five years.  More than half of the athletes said yes.  When he repeated the survey biannually for the next decade, the results were always the same.  About half of the athletes were ready to take the bargain" (Reynolds).  Conversely, only 2 out of 250 recreational lifters said they would do the same (Ibid).  That's a pretty impressive disparity- 50% of elite athletes will do what it takes to win, whereas less than 1% of normies would.  Amusingly, this study was done at a time when both steroids and ephedrine were legal and acceptable for use among the average trainee, blissfully avoiding the unnecessary, illegitimate, and indefensible stigmas they now bear.



Bringing it back around to the topic of my generation and steroids, we didn't think of steroids in a pejorative manner or regard them as the magical group of pharmacological miracles that turn shit lifters into supermen than modern trainees do.  Instead, we regarded them as a tool in a toolbox... an option that might confer benefits... and basically something one could do if one wished.  There was neither stigma nor reference for that group of drugs-  they simply were.  It was accepted as a matter of course that methyltestosterone or dianabol were in the supplement Hot Stuff, and that clenbuterol was in the preworkout Ultimate Orange (along with ephedrine and every other heart attack-inducing substance Dan Duchaine could find).  It didn't matter if people used a stepped up androstenedione to us, or another substance to drop in on ephedrine to make our blood pressure even more ridiculous, but they were considered to be tools for use by people who wished to rather than magical death drugs used by "cheating" psychopaths- they were just a part of a panoply of performance enhancing drugs that humans have used since time immemorial when they wanted to win.



Frankly, I would not be surprised if nearly every person under the age of 25 reading this right now was bleeding from the eyes.  For those of you who are struggling not to punch your laptop, consider the opinion of the Washington Post's sports columnist Sally Jenkins:
"Maybe we shouldn't ask athletes to live up to ideals that, let's face it, are unsupported by the chronically weak performance of human nature. Maybe it's time to decriminalize performance-enhancing drugs, in view of the fact that the first drug cheat was an ancient Greek and runners brought sport-doping into the modern age in 1904 by dosing themselves with strychnine.
Our Air Force gives fighter jocks "go-pills" to get them through long missions, but we don't refuse to call them heroes because they're on speed. So what's this strange amnesia that causes us to seek purity in athletes? Why should they have to meet a higher moral standard than soldiers? Call me naive."
"What's the job of an athlete really? It is to seek the limits of the human body, for our viewing pleasure. Athletes are astronauts of the physique, explorers. Some of them choose to explore by making human guinea pigs out of themselves. So maybe we should quit assigning any ethical value to what they do, and simply enjoy their feats as performance artists. Virtue was another notion dreamed up by the Greeks, only they were a lot less confused about what they meant by the term. Their word for virtue could also be accurately translated as simply "excellence." As for the word "amateur," it didn't exist to them at all."
"Doping is not a modern art. It's just the medicine that's new. As a recent story in National Geographic pointed out, performance enhancement grew with chemistry in the mid-19th century. Athletes choked down sugar cubes dipped in ether, brandy laced with cocaine, nitroglycerine and amphetamines. In that context, the current scourges of steroids and blood boosters are merely a sequential progression" (Jenkins).

Performance enhancing drugs have been used since prehistory.  Ancient neanderthal burials all contain ephedra plants, which were used by that species for unknown purposes, though it is considered to be a PED.  Given the fact that neanderthals were well known for their slaughter of megafauna, it's not outside of the boundaries of consideration to think they used ephedra as a performance enhancing drug to aid in that pursuit (LoPorto).  And it's not just the neanderthals who have used PEDS- the ancient Greeks were well known for using any means they could to gain an advantage on their opponents, and not only was that expected, but it was appreciated, provided they didn't get caught (Bowers).  The Roman gladiators doped to get through fights, and nineteenth century French cyclists and lacrosse players used a combination of wine and coca leaves, called "Vin Mariani", aka "wine for athletes," to gain an edge on their competition (Murray).



It's not just hominids who look for an edge, either- horses consume locoweed, which affects them much in the same way nicotine affects humans (it's an ergogenic aid [Pesta]); capuchin monkeys and lemurs get high off millipedes and use them as a sex aid, narcotic, and a natural bug repellent (Zambone), reindeer eat the same mushrooms Viking Berserkers used to ingest to make them fearless before  going into battle (leading to a very weird cycle in which shamans and reindeer drink each others' piss to get high) (McBain), elephants are incorrigible drunks and rampage drunkenly through Indian towns causing wanton destruction (Hussain)... the list goes on and on.  Many high-functioning species use narcotics and other substances to perform in an altered state- it's the way of the world.


Thomas Hicks: Powered by rat poison.

Fast forward to the modern era and you'll find nothing's changed.  In the 1904 Olympics, marathoner Thomas Hicks began the tradition of doping at the Olympics when he won his event using a combination of strychnine, egg whites, and brandy (Abbott).  By the 1940s, the Germans were experimenting heavily with steroids and amphetamines, and Hitler was allegedly guinea pig #1 amongst them.  Pervitin and Isophan, methamphetamines, were the Nazi soldier's drug of choice (Ulrich), and later in the war the Nazis developed a pill that was a combination of morphine, cocaine, and methamphetamine to optimize performance.  Hitler himself was one of the first test subjects for steroids, and it's reported that he recommended their use for all German athletes as a result (Taylor 146).  Due to the success in the field of combat, athletes began taking these substances shortly thereafter, referring to amphetamines in particular as essential for optimal performance.
"These drugs — nicknamed la bomba by Italian cyclists and atoom by Dutch cyclists — minimize the uncomfortable sensations of fatigue during exercise. By setting a safe upper limit to the body’s performance at peak exertion, these unpleasant sensations prevent bodily harm" (Noakes 847).
Tommy Simpson straight KILT by amphetamines in the Tour de France.

In the 1960s, two athletes died in competition due to complications from amphetamine use, and shortly thereafter, drug testing began in competition.  In 1975, the IOC banned steroid use, but it wasn't until 1988 that Ronald Reagan banned the non-medical sale of steroids in the United States.  Bear in mind that this ban had nothing to do with the public health- this was simply a political move intended to demonize the Eastern Bloc countries, who had been kicking the shit out of us in international competition and openly admitted to widespread and prolific use of anabolic steroids.  By banning their sale, Reagan made the use of these substances taboo, thus taking away some of the glory the Russians and their satellites could take from their wins in international competition.  Demonization of these substances and propaganda against them has continued until today, in spite of the fact that doctors routinely prescribe anabolic steroids and growth hormone for everything from longevity to mental health, and prescribe amphetamines as a matter of general course to everyone from small children to the elderly.


6'6" 330 lb offensive tackle (and massive draft bust) Tony Mandarich

And it's not just lifters, football players, and cyclists who dope- it's truly a matter of "if you're not cheating, you're not trying."  Amphetamines have long been a part of baseball:
"Baseball and greenies [amphetamines] go together like hot dogs and apple pie, assuming the hot dogs come flying off the grill at Warp Seven and the pie sort of jitters and sweats slightly as it is removed from the oven. They've been together for a long, untouted while, is the thing" (Kreidler).  
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has stated that he's heard about the use of amphetamines in baseball as far back as the 1950s, in fact.  Shit, even badminton players use gear- Indian and Chinese badminton players have gotten popped for steroid use in the last few years, and star tennis player Rafael Nadal is routinely accused of using steroids.  Swimmers and soccer players routinely use albuterol and clenbuterol to improve their performance, competitive pistol shooters and archers take beta blockers, and fighter pilots take amphetamines (Harris).  In fact, performance enhancing drugs essentially permeate every competitive sport or activity, ranging from chess (Grossekathöfer) to golf (Rosaforte) to professional orchestra (Wise) to, believe it or not, billiards (Deardorff).


Badminton champion Lee Cong Wei, who has popped positive for corticosteroid use.

Performance enhancing substances are not limited to steroids, amphetamines, and growth hormones, however.  The most widely used PED is caffeine, and it's estimated that 85% of the US population consumes caffeine daily to improve alertness and performance (Mitchell).  Similarly, athletes in every sport use ibuprofen to improve their recovery times (Harris).  Miraculously, this is one of the few substances not banned by the WADA, which has banned 162 substances ranging from completely legal selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) to steroids to rat poison (Banned).  This, of course, essentially means that the banned substances list is a more or less arbitrary line in the sand drawn by non-athletes to limit the options of actual athletes to perform to the best of their abilities.



Up next, we'll cover the history of sports supplements and the bans on those substances by governments and various sporting bodies and federations, and continue to explore reasons why "natty bros" are nothing more than whiny, uncompetitive bitches looking to excuse their poor performance by drawing arbitrary lines in the sand on performance enhancing substances and ascribing near-magical attributes to substances routinely taken across the board by competitive people across the globe and throughout time.

Sources:
192 Banned Performance Enhancing Substances and Methods
with Pros & Cons of Their Health Effects.  Pro Con.  Web.  23 Apr 2015.  http://sportsanddrugs.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002037#VI

Abbott, Karen.  The 1904 Olympic marathon may have been the strangest ever.  Smithonian.  7 Aug 2012.  Web.  23 Apr 2012.  Web.  23 Apr 2015.  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-1904-olympic-marathon-may-have-been-the-strangest-ever-14910747/#18o2VX77ep0dtmJb.99

Bowers LD.  Athletic drug testing.  Clin Sports Med. 1998 Apr;17(2):299-318.

Grossekathöfer, Maik.  Outrage Over Ivanchuk: The Great Chess Doping Scandal.  Spiegel Online.  11 Dec 2008.  Web.  28 Apr 2015.  http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/outrage-over-ivanchuk-the-great-chess-doping-scandal-a-595819.html

Harris, William.  10 performance-enhancing drugs that aren't steroids.  HowStuffWorks.com.  06 Nov 2012.  Web.  28 April 2015.  http://science.howstuffworks.com/10-performance-enhancing-drugs.htm

Hussain, Wasbir.  6 drunk elephants electrocute themselves.  Seattle Times.  23 Oct 2007.  Web.  23 Apr 2015.  http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/6-drunk-elephants-electrocute-themselves/

Jenkins, Sally.  Winning, cheating have ancient roots.  Washington Post.   Aug 2007.  Web.  23 Apr 2015.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/02/AR2007080202497.html

Kreidler, Mark.  Baseball finally brings amphetamines into light of day.  ESPN.  15 Nov 2005.  Web.  27 Apr 2015.  http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kreidler_mark&id=2225013 

LoPorto, Garret.  Surprising Way Your Neanderthal Genes May Affect You.  Huffington Post.  10 May 2010.  Web.  23 Apr 2015.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/garret-loporto/surprising-way-your-neand_b_568455.html

McBain, Michael.  Strange fungi facts.  Amanita Shop.  Web.  23 Apr 2015.  http://www.amanitashop.com/strangefacts.htm

Mitchell DC, Knight CA, Hockenberry J, Teplansky R, Hartman TJ.  Beverage caffeine intakes in the U.S.  Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Jan;63:136-42.

Murray TH.  The coercive power of drugs in sports.  Hastings Cent Rep. 1983 Aug;13(4):24-30.

Noakes TD.  Tainted glory--doping and athletic performance.  N Engl J Med. 2004 Aug 26;351(9):847-9.

Pesta DH, Angadi SS, Burtscher M, Roberts CK.  The effects of caffeine, nicotine, ethanol, and tetrahydrocannabinol on exercise performance.  Nutr Metab (Lond). 2013 Dec 13;10(1):71. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-10-71.

Reynolds, Gretchen.  Phys Ed: Will Olympic Athletes Dope if They Know It Might Kill Them?  New York Times.  20 Jan 2010.  Web.  20 Apr 2015.  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/phys-ed-will-olympic-athletes-dope-if-they-know-it-might-kill-them/

Rosaforte, Tim and Sam WeinmanWas Vijay Singh's biggest crime ignorance?.  30 Jan 2013.  Web.  28 APr 2015.  http://www.golfdigest.com/blogs/the-loop/2013/01/was-vijay-singhs-biggest-crime-ignorance.html

Taylor, William N.  Anabolic Steroids and the Athlete, 2d ed.  Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2001.

Ulrich, Andreas.  The Nazi death machine: Hitler's drugged soldiers.  Der Spiegel.  6 May 2005.  Web.  23 Apr 2015.  http://www.spiegel.de/international/the-nazi-death-machine-hitler-s-drugged-soldiers-a-354606.html

Wise, Brian.  Musicians use beta blockers as performance-enabling drugs.  WQXR.  16 Aug 2013.  Web.  28 Apr 2015.  http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/312920-musicians-use-beta-blockers-relieve-stage-fright/

Zambone, Jennifer.  Of monkeys and millipedes.  CEI.  30 Nov 2000.  Web.  23 Apr 2015.  https://cei.org/news-letters-cei-planet/monkeys-and-millipedes

22 April 2015

Powerbuilding #2: It's Not JUST About The Mustaches

"BUT WHAT ABOUT POWERBUILDINGS THOUGH? 
OH YOU WANNA TALK ABOUT THE POWERBUILDINGS DOE?
YOU MEAN WHEN YOU LIKE *WHEE* AND *WHEE* AND BE LIFTIN' UP DEM WEIGHTS LIKE HERCALEEZ?!
OOOOWWWWWW DON'T EVEN TELL ME ABOUT DA POWERBUILDINGS.
POWERBUILDINGS
IS
MAH
SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!!!"

Key and Peele could not have said it better, what with their love of Khal Drogo aka Big Dave Navarro, because powerbuilding is my shit.  Apparently, however, the wise "menfolk" of the interwebz feel differently, because of a variety of very weak and easily disassembled arguments.  In any event, here are the wonderful things I've learned after feedback from the last installment of this series:
  1. People love dogma like dogs love drinking out of the toilet.
  2. Lazy people too lazy to even bother getting out their recliner to take a shit will scream about being "natty' until my ears are bleeding like I've been listening to Michael Bolton on 10 and refuse to try anything new.
  3. Everyone seems to want to know my opinion on Layne Norton.
  4. The wise men of the internet has developed a very stupid acronym that I've already forgotten for "natty bros" they don't consider to be natty.
Here are my responses to that news:
  1. People are less intelligent than your average drunken koala.
  2. See above and add "lazy."
  3. I know literally nothing about the man other than he the seeming fact he uses the word "natural" so frequently one would think he's considering a name change to Natural Norton, and he undulates or something.  I guess he's some sort of snakeman who panders to the drunken koala people?
Just so you guys keep posting that stupid internet acronym for fake natty.  Because that endears all of you to my heart.

But, being the swell guy I am, I will plate the aforementioned parties by including more "natty" bros in this article, since everyone seems to have missed my inclusion of Mike O'Hearn (who insofar as I know no longer uses that dumbass word) and Roy Hilligenn.  Let me add the qualifier "alleged", because I don't know who's on or not and neither do the wise young men populating Reddit and filling it with all of the love and intellect that website could possibly hold.



For the uninitiated, steroids in the US basically started with a man named Dr. John Zeigler.  They were only ciminalized in the United States in the 1990s, however, after one of our athletes popped positive and lost his gold medal in about the same way a person in Los Angeles loses his car at gunpoint.  Bear in mind, it was not because he died or had adverse effects- it was because a body of Frenchmen said that he couldn't win because he tested positive for a substance that was legal to use in the US.  In any event, Ziegler was a third generation doctor who tested the effects of dianabol on American weightlifters around or after 1959 after traveling to Russia and witnessing feats of brutal weightlifting badassery.  Thus, any lifter mentioned before 1959 could be considered (for the excuse- and retardation-oriented) "natty".  That's not to say they necessarily were, however, as Ziegler himself noted in 1954 that the Russians "had to catheterize all of these young [lifters], say 22 years old just so they could urinate" because they were taking such enormous doses of methyltestosterone, which was first produced in 1947 (Roach 329).

So, we'll start with a man who was ostensibly "natty", to satisfy the Redditors who weep and wail and gnash their teeth about the subject, and then move on to more modern trainers.



Jack Delinger
5'6" 195 lbs

You've all heard of the 20 rep squat workout, right?  The workout about which old heads and "natty" kids who only want to lift twice a fortnight jack off to before they go to sleep at night after chugging a gallon of milk a day and admiring their nonexistent abs in the mirror?  Delinger comes from that era, except for the fact that he thought 20 rep sets on squats were for fucking pussies- he would just put 415 on the bar and squat it until he literally fainted.  As you can see from the picture above, his method clearly worked- apparently squatting more than double bodyweight for six sets of more than twenty reps is the way "natty" bros can defy modern conventional "wisdom" and actually get over 160 lbs.



Not a lot of planning went into his workouts, either- Delinger would lift five or so days a week, doing a full body workout that was roughly the same each time.  As to his split?  He essentially lifted as much weight as possible until he literally couldn't move, rested, and then hit the weights again when he was able.  He didn't fuck about with a slide rule and a notepad determining what his training weights and percentages should be- instead, Delinger beating every body part to death like he was Braveheart with a warhammer smacking about the British with heavy weight and high reps, with no fucks given about his exact training volume.



To gain weight, Delinger found that high reps with basic compound movements were his best bet- an interesting departure from the norm.  He apparently gained 33 lbs in two and a half months doing 6 sets of 15-20 reps on the following exercises (Delinger):

  1. Heavy Bench Press
  2. Heavy Cheat Barbell Curl
  3. Cheat Bentover Row
  4. Squat
  5. Cheat Upright Row

Definitely a different approach from what you usually see out of powerbuilders, but apparently a highly effective one, because Delinger was built like a brick shithouse.


Mike Francois
5'9" 235lbs in season/270lbs off season

Mike Francois was one of my favorite bodybuilders of the 90s simply because he was massively strong and looked it.  Though he didn't ever really get to show the world what he was truly capable of, due to his contraction of ulcerative colitis, Francois definitely brought the most brutal physique of the 90s to the stage every time he stepped on it, and certainly is in consideration for the title of "greatest uncrowned Mr. Olympia" of all time.  Want to know what makes it even better?  His numbers- a 700lb squat, a 525 bench, and a 800 deadlift, which are serious numbers for a 242 lb powerlifter.  Know how he did it?  When he was contest prepping, Mike Francois trained at Westside Barbell.

To get his brutal-as-fuck physique, Francois incorporated a lot of 5×5 and 8×2 rep schemes, then used high rep backoff sets and accessory work to backfill his program with volume.  True to his powerlifting-esque training regime, Francois used box squats and rack pulls to supplement his main lifts, in addition to his favorite accessories:
  • Chest: Incline barbell bench press (30* incline)
  • Upper Back: Wide grip cable row to chest
  • Biceps: Barbell curls, Hammer curls
  • Tricep: J-curls.  [Edit: This may be a half retarded description of a JM Press.  I've no idea- I just repeated what he described in an interview.]This is a Westside exercise that is kind of a combo skull crusher and close grip bench. Take the weight down to your chest using a narrow grip, the at the bottom of the motion slide the bar back to about your nose, then slide it back out to your chest and then press it up. 
  • Quad tear drop: leg press with feet on lower portion of plate, 6-12 inches apart.
  • Quad sweep: front squats with heels elevated.
  • Rear delts: dual cable flies or reverse pec dec
  • Calves: standing calf raises



Francois credited the no-fucks-given attitude of nonstop competition in the gym for a lot of his physique success.  "Each day was a competition. Being the lone bodybuilder (even though I was treated great by all the guys), there was an unspoken challenge. It may have just been in my mind, which is all the really matters anyway when you are trying to make improvements" (Colescott).  That's where his massive shoulders arose, apparently, as the constant competition led to Francois and his training partners using 400 to 500 lbs on seated shoulder presses, over 900 lbs on rack pulls, and other hideously heavy weights on everything else.




Phil Hernon
5'6' 239 lbs

Without question the bodybuilder of whom you've never heard with the most brutal physique you've never seen, Phil Hernon was the fucking man.  Allegedly a proponent of the H.I.T. training system, he was anything but- Hernon trained each bodypart three times a week with ridiculously heavy weights and rotating rep ranges.  And when I say ridiculously heavy, I mean it- at under 240 lbs, Hernon was repping out with over 400 lbs on the incline bench, and was apparently a serious squatter as well.


If those tree trunks he called legs were any indication, Hernon was moving serious weight in the squat rack.

Herndon generally only did three working sets per bodypart, but he did a hell of a lot of warming up beforehand.  For instance, when doing back, shoulders, and chest, he'd do pushups and light lat pulldowns to get his blood moving, then move to incline bench press for a couple of sets of 6 paused reps with 225 and 315.  After that, he'd do a single set of paused reps with 405 for 5.  Then he's hit up the incline bench press for a set of 8 to failure, followed by a warmupless set of low incline dumbbell bench press with the 125s for 12-15 reps.  Finally, he'd hit back, shoulders, and traps with the same set and rep scheme- machines mixed with compound movements starting with low reps and then working up to higher rep ranges on his accessories.

Two days later he would repeat the first day's workout, but with the rep ranges and exercises reversed to rest the first day's heavy exercise by doing 11 to 15 reps instead of 5 to 7 reps.



Hernon would only take a day off when he felt like he couldn't continue, as he believed that a muscle would start to degenerate if it wasn't stimulated within 48-72 hours.  This was the reason he kept each workout's volume low- frequency of training trumped long, volume-filled training.    In short, Hernon recommended everyone:
  • train a muscle often.
  • keep protein at very high levels to add in the needed synthesis
  • train just enough to stimulate growth but keep it to a point where you are able to train each bodypart again two days later
  • train even when sore, as soreness is not an indicator of recovery
Other Notable Powerbuilders

Bill Ennis

Lest you think that powerbuilding is only good for bodybuilding, think again.  Obviously, all of the dudes I've mentioned thus far were strong enough that they make the strongest guy at your gym seem like he's got enough AIDS that he pops AZT like Tic Tacs, but powerbuilding worked for all of the best lifters of the 70s and 80s as well.  One of those guys, the aforementioned (in the previous installment) Bill Ennis, used powerbuilding to dominate the 198 lb weight class and post a 1906 total at 5.5% bodyfat in 1980.



To achieve this wholesale domination of his class, Ennis used a combination of ultra-low rep sets with bodybuilding assistance exercises, which he considered to be essential for the achievement of complete strength.  In the end, however, Ennis credited his diet with much of his success.  Unlike many powerlifters of the 1980s, Ennis focused heavily on nutrition and utilized what was essentially a strict competition bodybuilding diet- moderate fat, moderate carbohydrate, and high protein.  In many ways, it mirrored Phil Hernon's paleoish Zone-esque diet.  Ennis ate 9-18 egg whites a day, low fat cottage cheese, and tons of raw vegetables and fruits- roughly 6 oranges and 6 apples daily.  

Like the Bulgarians of his day, Ennis's training sessions were short and heavy, 45 minutes to an hour.  He focused on one lift per training session and would work up to a daily max and then back off and do low rep sets.   When doing the basic movements, Ennis believed that repping out on the three main lifts was counterproductive, as it cut into his recovery and slowed his gains.  Instead, Ennis used bodybuilding movements like lat pulldowns, pushdowns, leg extensions and the like to backfill his volume and get in his rep work to ensure complete development and prevent muscular imbalances.



Franco Columbo
At a height of 5'3" and a bodyweight of around 194, Franco was an absolute beast in the gym.  He competed int eh World's Strongest Man against guys who outweighed him by over 100 lbs and did well until dislocating his leg running with a refrigerator on his back, squatted 655, pulled 780 in the gym, and benched 525 in competition. and deadlifted 700-plus, training twice a day and hitting each bodypart three times a week.  If you want to check out his brutal powerbuilding program, go here.



Aaron Baker
At 5'8" and 236 lbs, this dude was inclining 435 on the Smith Machine for 6 or 7 reps two weeks out from a show, and worked up to 105s for reps on dumbbell flies.  Though not particularly recognized for his strength, what amounts to a proto-Kai Green, nicknamed "Batman", was a legit badass powerbuilder in the 1990s.




Johnnie Jackson
The 5'8" 255 lb Jackson crushes 800-pound deadlifts and 100-pound side laterals, moonlighting as a powerlifter when he's not competing in bodybuilding. Referred to as the second strongest bodybuilder next to Ronnie Coleman, Jackson might be the third strongest behind Jackson and Stan Efferding but is likely the strongest current IFBB pro bodybuilder with an 825 geared squat and a 600 lb geared bench, plus an 823lb raw deadlift and a 225lb strict curl.

At this point, if you're not confinced of the efficacy of powerbuilding, you very well might be mentally retarded.  Get your shit together and start adding in bodybuilding movements to add volume and improve your physique and your main lifts- it's essential.

Sources:

Aaron Baker Workout.  Get Bulky.  Web.  22 Feb 2015.  http://www.getbulky.com/aaron-baker-workout.html

Bass, Clarence.  Ripped for powerlifting.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  6 Jan 2012.  Web.  3 Mar 2015.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2012/01/ripped-for-powerlifting-clarence-bass.html

Colescott, Steve.  Mike Francois at Westside Barbell!  RX Muscle.  21 Jul 2009.  Web.  22 Feb 2015.  http://www.rxmuscle.com/articles/nutrition/525-mike-francois-at-westside-barbell.html

Delinger, Jack.  Bulk Training.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  28 Oct 2009.  Web.  22 Apr 2015.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/10/bulk-training-jack-delinger.html

Forum Post.  Phil Hernon's Training Program.  T-Nation.  29 Mar 2010.  Web.  22 Feb 2015.  http://tnation.t-nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/phil_hernons_training_program_want_opinions

Jack Delinger: An All-American Bodybuilder.  Muscle Old School.  Web.  22 Apr 2015.  http://muscleoldschool.com/jack-delinger-an-all-american-bodybuilder/

Meadows, John. October 2013 Interview with IFBB Pro Mike Francois.  Mountain Dog Diet.  23 Oct 2013.  Web.  22 Feb 2015.  http://mountaindogdiet.com/media/interviews/interview-with-ifbb-pro-mike-francois/

Merritt, Greg.  Rated hardcore.  Flex Online.  Web.  22 Feb 2015.  http://www.flexonline.com/training/rated-hardcore

Sloan, C.S.  Big Beyond Belief, HIT, Phil Hernon, and Other Things from the '90s.  C.S. Sloan's Integral Strength.  18 Apr 2014.  Web.  22 Feb 2015.  http://cssloanstrength.blogspot.com/2014/04/big-beyond-belief-hit-phil-hernon-and.html