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20 April 2014

Powerlifting Is Not A Fucking Fun Run, Part 3

And so it continues.  After a careful examination of the opinions of elite lifters and the the fact that modern lifters cannot hold a fucking candle to lifters of the Ninteen Seventies, one reality appears to loom stark over the horizon:


Powerlifting Seems to be Well and Truly Fucked.
According to the best of the best at present:
  1. Powerlifting is too fractured across feds and classes for any one fed to field enough good lifters to make a meet worth a shit.
  2. Powerlifting needs some sort of an "amateur" federation and system of meets.
  3. Unlike powerlifters of yesteryear, who competed because they wanted to prove they were the strongest, powerlifters of today are as mean as medieval English villagers and require compensation to do anything.
  4. Powerlifting is fucked.
Realizing that I had only examining this issue from the top down and that the socialists among you, with your love of the French people's particularly disappointing and dull style of historiography and concomitant analysis of societies from the bottom up, I decided to do some digging.  Unfortunately, the available data is not exactly comprehensive- my sole resource for information on powerlifter performance comes from Powerliftingwatch, which while a great idea relies heavily on meet promoter participation for its information.  As such, there are a few problems with the information, and may in fact make the entire enterprise wasted.  Those problems include:
  • the older the information is, the less reliable the averages. Powerliftingwatch only started in 2007 and they were not provided ample meet results.  The 2007 data essentially shows the entirety of reported data, as opposed to the top twenty best lifters.
  • raw classic (without wraps) and raw modern (with wraps) are not differentiated outside of 2013 and 2014, so the totals examined were a combination of the two.
  • some people were listed more than once in the top twenty.   
  • the numbers I'm using hardly give the whole picture- they're just the top 50.  Per Johnny Vasquez, one of the owners of Powerliftingwatch, there were 518 raw lifters in the 181 class since Jan 2013.  Thus, we're looking at roughly 400 lifters in that class per year.  That means, against all odds, there were 350 people in the 181s who posted a total lower than 1361.
Despite the statistical shortcomings I've listed above, I did compile the top twenty totals in every male weight class and four female weight classes.  Before we begin bandying about accusations of misogyny, I had limited time and resources and tried to pick the four weight classes with the most participation and competition.  Additionally, it's only been in the last couple of years that female powerlifting has really expanded, so the 2007 results actually show every reported performance by a female (and there were fewer than twenty).  Thereafter, I realized that the analysis I had conducted only told half of the story, so I expanded 2013 out to include the top 50.  If you would like to peruse my spreadsheet, I've posted it here, and if anyone would like to download it and contribute to the effort, please feel free to do so.


A visual representation of what I found, and remember those totals are the average of wrapped and unwrapped totals.

Quick takeaways from the data:

  • the 308 weightclass has no reason to exist, and 148 and 275 aren't much better
  • women powerlifters are rapidly getting better
  • raw powerlifting as a whole appears to be getting better, but is still fucking abysmal
  • there is a massive gap in performance between the top of the top 50 and the bottom of the top 50
Quick Sidebar: Johnny Vasquez of Powerliftingwatch is one of the guys who instituted the elite standards fro Raw Unity, and when asked for female elite classifications stated that he agreed with the USPA standards.  This means that unlike the men, the women are holding it down on the platform, as the averages for the top 20 in the 114 and 132 classes are over the cutoff for elite, and the 165 class is just under it.  Had I more time to investigate, I am fairly certain that the top twenty in every weightclass through 148 would exceed the elite standards for the USPA, which is impressive as hell considering the fairly low levels of participation, and often lifting backgrounds in the competitors of the females.
Make of it what you will- I realize in this effort how poor the record keeping is for powerlifting.  For instance, Michael Soong's top historical performances are a great starting point for the best performances in history, but I saw more than one unrecorded top total on the list just while looking up the rankings of the lifters I interviewed.  That is doubtless part and parcel of the sport's fractured nature, and makes direct comparisons of current and past generations of lifters even more difficult, but it also paints modern lifters in an even worse light- even if modern lifting is progressing at a phenomenal rate, it's still lagging far behind the lifters of the 1970s.  Before the Millennials chime in with insistence that survey of powerlifting performance is proof their generation doesn't suck, let me pre-emptively retort- one of the people interviewed above actually stated that generations like the Millennials are the direct cause of the rise of violent reactionary movements and pogroms.  Given that I doubted he wanted that statement included in the interview, I redacted it, but I felt it was worthy of note because it's rare I hear him say a cross word about anyone, and he obliquely advocated the liquidation of an entire generation.



The data above does not tell the whole story though- we're still left with the fact that modern powerlifters cannot hold a candle to the lifters of the 1970s.  Powerlifting, for all intents and purposes, sprang into being as a sport in 1966.  According to Paul Sutphin,

"Era One (1960 thru 1976)- All lifting in this period met the criteria for what is now known as "RAW" Powerlifting.  The only wraps allowed were ace bandages or a one (1) ply wrap with similar elasticity.  Beginning January 1st, 1973 all wraps were declared illegal in powerlifting competition.  Knee wraps and wrist wraps were reinstituted in 1974.  Throughout Era One, many Powerlifting meets were held in conjuctions with physique competitions which took place after the Powerlifting was over"(24-25).
This means, then, that the elite standards current lifters cannot match were met by roughly 5% of the total competitors in each weightclass without knee sleeves or wrist wraps.  I've already shown that there have only been 70 elite totals posted in the last 7 years, and though I didn't notice it when I wrote about it initially, that's including wrapped lifters prior to 2013 and multiple performances by the same lifters to the top 5% of lifters in each weightclass, but just to the top 5% of the top 50 lifters in each weightclass in 2013.  The picture of how shitty modern lifters is gets a little more stark- looking at my little chart above, it's really only 26 people in the last two years carrying the entire sport, and if you include lifters competing in wraps in 2012 and 2011, that number only increases to 34 people... in a sport that is ubiquitous to every corner of America, costs very little in terms of investment, and doesn't really require much in the way of special equipment or training.


Mel Hennessey- #19 on the bench at 242 on Michael Soon's historical rankings list, and who trained on homemade equipment made of wood.

According to Johnny Vasquez, there were a bit over 4600 participants in raw powerlifting in 2013.  This means that there should have been 230 lifters qualifying as elite, if raw powerlifting's average strength had simply remained static since the 1970 as the numbers increased.  Given the advances in nutritional supplementation and equipment (i.e. better racks, benches, recovery methods, etc.), this seems like a reasonable expectation rather than the pipe dream it actually is.  Instead, as powerlifting has grown, the elite classifications of the 1970s leave us with a picture of powerlifting more grim than one's opinion of dating after watching Closer and In the Company of Men in the same weekend (which I did accidentally and don't recommend).  Frankly, even those movies hardly capture the utter futility of modern powerlifting competition in a historical context because at least in the aforementioned movies, just about everyone got laid- in powerlifting, not only are the average saddies competing walking away with empty pockets and laughable physiques, but they're definitely not getting laid out of the deal, either.  Looking at it statistically, there are likely only .5% of participants who are... and they're the only ones totaling elite.



Pacifico, looking a proper beast at 198.

So what is the cause of the shittiness, you might ask?  Is it the Millenials?  The fracture of the sport of powerlifting into dozens of tiny feudal states?  Lack of participation?  Is it geared lifting, which drove raw powerlifting to the brink of extinction?  Is it drugs?  Is it the current method of training and programming?  Is it xeno and phytoestrogens in our water?  Our diet?  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?  I should hope I'm not the only one horrified and flummoxed by this issue- it seems like something worth of investigation from the top down.


Participation

For whatever reason, people seem to think that more participation is the answer, in spite of the fact that it's well known that an increase in the popularity of anything invariably leads to the decline of that things measure of "cool", in addition to the fact that whenever the teeming unwashed hordes get hold of anything, they ruin it.  Powerlifting is no exception- what was once a sport in which people were actually fucking strong (elite meant top 5%)- is now filled with people who outright fucking suck at life.  Posers overwhelm the squat racks at gyms, fucking about with foam rolling and stretching and warming up and yammering on about their program and calculating percentages and updating their Facebook and filming their shitheap lifts and NEVER ACTUALLY FUCKING LIFTING WEIGHTS, but at least they look adorable in their fucking Chuck Taylors and Elite FTS shirts, skinny-fat, sloppy, useless assholes that they are.


Remember how Bob Benedix mentioned you should look like you fucking lift?  Lifters in the 1970s were about being fucking jacked and smashing ass post workout- they were not about foam rolling.

No matter how many people espouse the idea that more participation will result in better competition, the facts simply do not support this concept.  In fact, there is no easier way to dissemble that argument than to point to the facts- raw powerlifting has regressed as no other sport has, and that regression has occurred in a time period describe by the IPF as one in which, "a matter of thirty-six years after its foundation, Powerlifting has achieved worldwide recognition and popularity that could only be dreamed of in those heady days of the 70’s" (Unitt)



If you're just there to participate, you neither count, nor belong.  Count bodies, not sheep.

Increased participation, then, is obviously not the answer, and may well be part of the problem.


Fractured Sport

This, at least, is a reasonable suggestion.  Powerlifting really used to be controlled by one or two major organizations.  Unfortunately, the AAU barely even exists as an organization any more, and professional organizations are limited by regional fractures and inconsistent rule application.  One must pay any number of minor potentates hundreds of dollars for "membership" in these different dogshit federations, with little opportunity to even recoup their membership fees and entry fees in the event they win.  Moreover, no federation really seems to respect another (save for Raw Unity, which has consigned itself to a Florida backwater that nearly requires a penny farthing and a fucking horse and buggy to reach), leaving lifters to either remain in one federation or to continually requalify for large meets if they have an interest in competing elsewhere.  All of this is, of course, fucking retarded, and precludes participation by lifters outside of their home region unless they truly enjoy burning money for no reason.  And let's not even bother bringing the USAPL/IPF into the discussion, as listing the problems with those feds exceed the limits of my patience- instead, we'll just deal with pro federations who encourage competitiveness and elite performance.  



Drugs and Geared Lifting

From time to time, I will see some ill-bred, uneducated, pompous, self-righteous, dickless dipshit bring up the subject of drugs, apparently in the belief that steroids and other performance-enhancing substances are the culprit in any number of scenarios that will justify their own shitty performance.  Knowing that these feckless retards are going to chime in on the subject of drugs, I felt it necessary to do some digging on the subject.  In the 1970s, steroids had not yet been demonized by Western governments, as our politicians had not yet realized they could use a class of drugs widely regarded to be excellent for one's health to become the demon by which they could accuse the Soviet bloc of cheating- that's right, "natty" bros, you're engaging in neo-McCarthyism because you're fucking sheep.  Congrats.  



In any event, steroid use fell off toward the beginning of the 2000s, then ramped up sharply in 2007 in the United States (Rogers).  According to multiple sources, steroids did not become popular among recreational athletes until the early 1970s, so it's highly unlikely that steroid use contributed that heavily to the superior performance of the athletes in the 1970s, despite the fact that the steroids used by those athletes were pharmaceuticals produced in labs rather than some sweaty guy's bathtub as they are now.  Quantity has a quality all its own, however, and “One center reported a ten-fold increase [in steroid use] in the last decade” (Bradshaw), so it's highly unlikely that steroid use is less prevalent now than it was in the early 1970s.



Approaching the platform for his third attempt on bench.

The other type of gear that might have contributed to the decline of powerlifting is the kind generally associated with bullets flying, bloodshed, and the possibility of an otherwise unassuming Indonesian man jump kicking you in the face, stabbing you fourteen times in various parts of your body, and then shooting you in the face- that which is comprised of denim and kevlar.  Virtually from the outset of powerlifting, lifters were doing crazy shit to boost their totals.  As Bob Benedix mentioned in the previous article, lifters were wearing multiple layers of squat suits as early as the early 1980s, and raw powerlifting really only existed until the mid 1970s.  As the decades passed, totals and individual lifts flew higher than powerlifters' bodyfat percentages as new gear generally associated with surviving gunfights made even more impossible poundages possible.  As I've long held that geared powerlifting is something fat people do to pretend they're strong, I decided to ask someone with a kevlar fetish and knowledge of pharmaceuticals for his opinion- did geared powerlifting kill raw strength?




Nick Tsourounis, 2100 pro multiply total at 242. 

As I wanted to cover a few topics with Nick due to his unique perspective, this one will read much in the same way my conversation with Bob Benedix did.  Not only does Nick compete in gear, which is incredibly rare in my life, but he is a registered pharmacist, which will address a couple of the outstanding questions at once.

In re whether geared lifting has advanced raw powerlifting, i.e. since geared lifting seems to basically amount to extreme forklift driving, what its effect on raw powerlifting was.

"OK - soapbox moment - and don't take offense to this- I'm not saying the geared guys are crossing over at the same level they were geared, but you see a lot more geared guys cross over and do ok in raw, rather than vice versa.  Raw guys won't cross over - so that forklift comment is a perfect example of not having a frame of reference.  Many guys take their gear off and are still pretty damn strong right away- connective tissue little dicey, but whatever.  I'll give you that guys who start out raw are strong enough to handle the loads with gear and guys who start out in gear are flashes in the pan, and guys who train in gear all year, just like the guys who run gear right from the outset of training- the 20 year old phenoms with more backne than muscle mass.  
Look at it this way, though- go to a high level geared meet and watch the guys in the warm up room.  Most people don't want to acknowledge it, but the best geared guys are incredibly strong raw.  I'll give you an example- Frankl smoked 40lbs under the raw world record in the warm up room before his geared WR bench.  I've seen more 500 and 600lb raw benches in the warm up room at geared meets over the years than I've seen on raw platforms.  Another factor playing into the myth that geared guys are weak out of their gear is that geared guys don't even know what their raw maxes are, because maxing raw is risky, and if that's not your sport why bother?  It's like an MLB pitcher trying to find out how fast he can throw a softball.
In short, geared lifting has made me stronger raw.  It brought my tricep strength up a lot being in a shirt, and my confidence to get under a heavy squat.  You guys might think it's just a way for fat fucks to move weight, and that we're all weak, but that's just not the case- we're strong as hell, and [Ed: sometimes] jacked too.  Ladnier and Pacifico were jacked, as was Coan. Chaillet (my first coach) was a monster.  Kaz, Doug Furnas, Rick Weil, John Gamble, and Kirk were all incredibly strong and muscular in and out of gear."

In re the death of geared lifting:
"Geared lifting is on the decline but not necessarily dying. Take a large step back from the sport - interest in powersports in the US are dwindling across the board.  In my perspective it's a cultural issue - the demasculinization of America.  Planet Fitness is a perfect example of this phenomenon, and moving past that, children are raised to NOT be competitive, to NOT want to be better than their peers, so we're losing that new crop of young kids that is supposed to come in as new talent.  CrossFit is bringing a few people back to the iron sports, but it's not like it was 15 years ago when you would see high schools with full PL teams.  The CrossFit crew is competing raw - further depleting the talent pool.  On top of all of that, times are financially tough, and geared lifting costs too much.  Gear is ridiculously expensive - not many people can afford $500-700 in new gear for each meet."
If only the saddies were as awesome as this dog.

In re raw powerlifting and the decline in performance there:

"Historically speaking - all raw feds starting popping up in 2002ish. These feds tried to agree on standards and thus the elite totals dropped from the original AAU 1973 lists then (around 2005-2006 if I remember correctly). 
Another factor that needs to be considered is drugs.  Though recreational steroid use has steadily increased over time, you are also not dealing with pharmaceutical 'I got this at the pharmacy' grade drug use.  Pre-1991, you could get bottles of dbol, anadrol, deca, test, equipoise, and halo from your local CVS, straight from an FDA approved manufacturer.  Now the stuff you get is questionable at best- made in a bathtub or someone's kitchen.  The raws now come from China, and just look at the news reports the past 6 years- we can't even trust them to make dishes, dog food, or tampons without accidentally poisoning the end product anymore, can we? What makes us think that powder is real, or at least - not contaminated?  People are getting heavy metal poisoning from a lot of these powders that are contaminated, especially with primobolan and masteron, it seems.  How many guys have you known get on HRT and say '200 of the real shit feels like 500 a week of homebrew'?"
I tire of finding non-porn pictures.

In re the concept of "fairness", as it pertains to cutting weight, cutting squats close rather than sinking them, etc.

"Squeaking around the rules has ALWAYS been there- it's what happens when people get competitive.  Hatfield had the spotters pull the rack away from him so he didn't have to walk out.  People can add all of the arbitrary and uncodified additions to rules about form they want, but interpretations are a bitch, and bending the rules is still going to happen.  Throw on top of that the non-uniformity of enforcement and people will always bitch."
In summary:
"All of the aforementioned factors combined - and I just skimmed [the first article in this series] you shared (now that's fucking GOLD) - is a multifactorial view of what's wrong.  I agree with the millennial bullshit as well."
Well, then.  It was apparently not geared squatting, and probably wasn't drugs, in spite of the fact that the drugs of the 1970s were far better than those of today.  What's that leave, then?  It leaves the internet convincing every special snowflake that he's not wasting his time, and the modern programming methods.  That's right- the programs against which I have consistently railed, because beyond that and xenoestrogens and being useless Millenials, the lifters of today, save for myself and about two dozen other people, suck fucking ass.  Want to know why?



GREAT LIFTERS LOVE TO LIFT

That's right, bitches- we love to lift.  When do we ask what a lift works?  NEVER.  When do we worry about "crossover"? NEVER.  When do we worry about "overtraining"?  NEVER.  Know why?  WE LIKE TO FUCKING LIFT.  We actually like to go into the gym and move weight.  We like trying new things.  We like seeing what our maxes are.  We like going heavy.  We like looking like we lift.  We like thinking for ourselves.  In short- we are everything the average lifter is not.  Just look at your program- it's one of a handful of shitty cookie cutter programs, and it lacks volume, accessories, and fun.  Then, look at how lifters in the 1970s lifted- they hit the big lifts 3-4 times a week, then did bodybuilding shit 2-3 other days.  That's right- they trained like bodybuilders half the time.
  • Mel Hennessy (#19 bench at 242in Soong's historical rankings) trained heavy two days a week and did bodybuilding the other two days.
  • John Kuc (#3 total at 242 in Soong's historical rankings) trained the powerlifts three days a week and did bodybuilding the other three or four (Kuc).
  • Ricky Dale Crain (#1 squat and #3 total at 148 in Soong's historical rankings) trained powerlifting and bodybuilding side by side five days a week, using unreal volume and capping every workout with 200 situps Todd).
  • Vince Anello (#5 equipped deadlift at 198 in Soong's historical rankings) did one set to failure on every Nautilus machine to finish his workouts "for all [his] bodybuilding" (Anello).
  • Gene Bell (#12 equipped squat and #7 equipped total at 181 and ranked top twenty in both for 198, using shitty 1980s suits and wraps) competed in both powerlifting and bodybuilding simultaneously, and incorporated all of the typical bodybuilder lifts like hack squats into his routine year round (Tuscherer).

I could go on, but I think my point should have been made at this point- all of the elite lifters I interviewed look like bodybuilders.  I am constantly accused of being a bodybuilder.  The lifters of the 1970s included bodybuilding specifically in their routines, and many of them competed in both bodybuilding and powerlifting.  That's not the entire story, however, because as Paul Sutphin described when I asked him what he thought the problem with modern lifters is, they don't go heavy enough, either.  As I've long harped on this, I don't think it really bears much more treatment.  In the event, however, that you need an example, just look at the training methods of Mike MacDonald, who is in the top five on Michael Soong's Historical Rankings List for the bench press at 181lbs (#4 with 522), 198lbs (#2 with 562), 220lbs (#1 with 582), 242 lbs (#3 with 603).  Mike barely trained the other two lifts, as he really just wanted to be a badass at the bench, and he obviously fucking was.  His routine was simplicity itself, and it was fucking HEAVY (Todd):



Science is still trying to determine how those arms handled that poundage, but he fucking moved weight.

Bench Press 

135 x 5 x 2 sets, to get the feel of the bar.
325 x 1
325 x 1
325 x 1
425 x 1
525 x 1
625 x 1, all sets concentrating on technique and form.

Sticking Point Lockout (moves grip in 2"-3")

475 x 3
475 x 3

Bent-Bar Benches (using a special bar that increased his range of motion for an extreme stretch at the bottom that would turn a 300lb bencher into a 225lb bencher using it)

435 x 3
435 x 3, using a 5-second pause on each rep
435 x 3

According to numerous online programs and powerlifting historian Paul Sutphin, lifters of the 1970s were incredibly strong because they trained to be so- they lifted with low reps and extremely heavy weights as often as possible to ensure their strength would never backslide (as it does on periodization routines) and that they would be comfortable under the weights they would face in competition.  Most modern trainees have moved away from that in deference to block periodization routines based on 60 year old science, bad diets, and training several months a year in hyper-intense training camps... in spite of the fact that no one continues to live that lifestyle.


Unless this is a shot of your bedroom, block periodization is likely not your best bet.

In summary- the state of modern powerlifting is poorer than a rural Moldovan IT technician, and it seems from the feedback that there a a great many people content with that situation, and who will bandy about the performance of the few people who actually give a shit about training as a counterargument to the unassailable fact that modern lifters cannot hold a candle to the lifters that preceded them.  As such, it is incumbent upon everyone to drag this shit up out of the muck, as meets these days appear to be rapidly dissolving into something akin to a Bronie convention, and that cannot be allowed to happen. 




 This, however, needs to happen more often.

Sources:
Anello, Vince.  14-Week Deadlift Cycle.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  11 Feb 2011. Web.  20 Apr 2014.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2011/02/14-week-deadlift-cycle-vince-anello.html  

Bradshaw, Nick.  Steroids investigated.  Men's Health UK.  Web.  17 Apr 2014.  http://www.menshealth.co.uk/steroids-investigated


Hollister, Vernon.  Mel Hennessey, Bench Press King.  Muscular Development, 1972.  Web.  20 Apr 2014.  http://www.strength-oldschool.com/topic/187-mel-hennessy-bench-press-king/


Kanayama G, Hudson JI, Pope HG Jr.  Illicit anabolic-androgenic steroid use.  Horm Behav. 2010 Jun;58(1):111-21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883629/


Kuc, John.  An Advanced Squat Training Program.  Tight tan slacks of Dezso Ban.  22 Oct 2013.  Web.  20 Apr 2014.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2013/10/advanced-squat-training-john-kuc.html


Rogers, Cori.  Anabolic steroid imports up and on the rise.  Zepol.  19 Jan 2013.  Web.  17 Apr 2014.  http://www.zepol.com/blog/post/2013/1/19/anabolic-steroid-imports-up-and-on-the-rise.aspx


Sutphin, Paul.  Powerlifting: The total package.  Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2014.


Tatar, Ben.  Vince Anello Deadlift Legend With Interview.  Critical Bench. 20 Apr 2014.  Web.  20 Apr 2014.  http://www.criticalbench.com/Vince-Anello.htm 


Todd, Terry.  Mike MacDonald.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  13 Sep 2011. Web.  20 Apr 2014.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2011/09/mike-macdonald-terry-todd.html


Todd, Terry.  Rickey Dale Crain. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  16 Jul 2011. Web.  20 Apr 2014.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2011/07/rickey-dale-crain-terry-todd.html  


Unitt, Dennis J.  The history of the International Powerlifting Federation.  IPF.  Web.  17 Apr 2014.  

13 April 2014

Trevor Kashey- Beardo, Nerd, Strongman, and Bodybuilder

At the risk of flogging a deceased equine, there truly are myriad ways to reach the same end point, whether you be dieting or training.  One guy whose theories and practices differ wildly from my own yet obviously produce massive results is Trevor Kashey, a bodybuilder-turned strongman who's a PhD candidate in biochemistry and the "science guy" for Mountain Dog Diet.  A couple of months ago, I contacted Trevor after being pointed in his direction by a reader, and what follows is the produce of our ensuing back and forth about strength training and nutrition.



First off, tell everyone about yourself.

Pleasure to get to talk with you! My Name is Trevor Kashey, I am a currently a PhD(c) in biochemistry, pursuing my RD and am certified through the International Society of Sports Nutrition with the advanced nutritionist certification. I am currently 22 years old, and received my bachelors degree in biochemistry in my wee teenage years. I also have 2 years of industrial nutraceutical formulation experience.  I have always been huge into science, and when I discovered lifting weights in high school, the two melded pretty quickly. It was amazing to me how many people lacked the most basic nutritional concepts, and I made it my goal to try and educate the best I could. As such, I lecture relatively frequently at local colleges in the areas of supplementation and effective applicable nutrition.

The people who know just enough about nutrition care WAY too much about advanced concepts that don’t even apply to them (why do fat middle aged men care about the osmolality of their intra-workout carbohydrate!?). I try to help moderate both ends.  I did my first bodybuilding competition at 15, my second at 19 (won them both) and then almost immediately transitioned into strongman. I have been in many competitions at the local level and have competed nationally. Most recently, I won the title of Arizona’s Strongest Man in my weight class.



I see you're a licensed nutritionist, which blows my mind because you're as hardcore about keto as I am it seems, and sports nutrition and keto generally go together like testicles and napalm.  Which came first- keto or the nutritionist gig?  How'd you get the two to sit in a room together and play nicely without keto running across the room and stabbing conventional dieting conceptions to death and raping its girlfriend?

Ironically, they both came about at the same time. As a scientist, I tend to think of things more pragmatically and thermodynamically (likely to a fault). It may not be the best what (what is?) but I find it the most straightforward and scientifically based. Sports nutrition is kind of a catch-all. I think the reason why keto and sports nutrition seem to be bitter enemies is because of the current lack of scientific studies backing it (from the viewpoint of performance). It’s not that there is any science saying high fat low carbohydrate is BAD. There are just tons of data that suggest high carbohydrate is GOOD. So people take the position while not being completely informed. Not to mention, almost all the damn studies out there are on endurance athletes. Of the studies that do in fact look at high fat, nearly none of them take into account the amount of time it takes for the body to correct it’s chemistry to accommodate the new diet (everyone feels like crap the first 1-2 weeks of cutting their carbs out). OF COURSE performance will decrease… The money is after this transition has occurred.

There is data emerging in this community that is slowly showing otherwise. Also, I’d like to mention I’m not against carbohydrates at all, I’m just NOT against fat. It isn’t my goal to show that tons of fat is better than tons of carbohydrate.

It was merely to show that fat:
  1.  Is not as poisonous as people think (with blood work to show it).
  2.  Will not destroy a lean physique in high amounts (barring energy balance is maintained).
  3. Can provide the energy necessary (when combined with adequate protein) for high intensity strength training.
So to answer your question, I didn’t stop it. I watched and grinned; it’s just energy for christ’s sake. You either use it or you don’t. You can argue the other minutia until you are blue in the face. Total energy content is priority 1, with total protein at number 2.



That's a hell of a resume at 22.  I noticed you went to Chico State East (I went to U of A and we spent no small amounts of time mocking ASU for being the repository of all of the drunken retards of the West), but you must have burned right through that curriculum.  How'd you manage all that at your age?

I started college courses at around 14 or so while in high school, combined with advanced placement tests, I started at the university (full time) with more than half of my undergraduate already completed. In fact, I was almost booted out of high school my senior year because I was regularly “ditching” school to get to my organic chemistry class early. Combined with overall hatred for bureaucratic nonsense, I forged my way into almost twice the allowed credits. I slithered my way through the cracks unnoticed until my graduating semester. By then all the damage had been done.

ASU definitely has its share of drunken retards. Unfortunately, that’s most of the school’s population that can speak fluent English. I spent most of my time with the 90 pound scientists who eat microwaved fish eyeballs with broccori.

So to answer your question, I didn’t stop it. I watched and grinned. It’s just energy for christ’s sake. You either use it or you don’t. You can argue the other minutia until you are blue in the face. Total energy content is priority 1, with total protein at number 2.


So, how do you train?  I know I have a lot of strongmen who read my stuff, but I rarely have the chance to cover training for strongman- in the couple of contests I have done for fun, I really didn't alter my training at all.  Wind becomes and issue, but you just nut up.  Rest-pause training with huge weights and low reps seems to translate decently, for me, into strongman.

My programming is actually very simple.
I train in 12-16 week cycles. I train 4 days per week. 5 days per week pre contest.
M: Squat
T:  Overhead
W: Rest
Th: Deadlift
F:  Bench
S:  Rest (events pre-contest)
Su: Rest
  • I train 1 heavy compound movement with 3-4 single joint exercises.
  • With the accessory moves, I focus on mind-muscle connection, bodybuilding style.
  • As the training cycle progresses, I lower my reps. I try to hit a weight PR in the rep range I am currently working in before I switch to the next rep range. I don’t really test my 1 rep maxes at all. At the end of a training cycle I just take a week off and then go back to the grind.
  • I ride my bicycle to work and to the gym to train, so I think that also keeps me moderately athletic.
  • I don’t feel like it’s terribly beneficial to train events year-round. Unless you really have no idea how to do the event, I find that they only serve as ways to beat you up and cause premature fatigue in a training cycle. It is different when prepping for a specific contest, but most all strongman events are so heavy in the posterior chain that it’ll just stall out your power lifts. Training the events enough to become proficient at them is really all that is needed at the amateur level. Other than that, focusing on static strength (and grip strength) is probably going to prove more useful.
I get my training professionally programmed, so out of respect for my coach I won’t go too much more specific than that, but I think I get the point across.


Triple bodyweight beltless farmer's walks..

You use a strength coach?  WHAT?  Explain.

A little over a year ago, I was huge, and I was strong. My mobility was also GARBAGE.

All hell broke loose.
  1. I suffered a catastrophic groin tear (which then got infected and went septic).  I spent a long time in the hospital and couldn't even walk with the help of crutches for weeks. As soon as I was able to roll out of bed and not want to rip the head off of a neonate, I drug my ass back to the gym so I could at least bench press.
  2. My high volume bench press ended up causing a pec tear.  So here I am, super gimp. By the time the inflammation on my pec went down enough for me to function, I was able to stand on my own and not want to die, I started overhead pressing.
  3. My left shoulder decided to take a dump.  Due to an underactive serratus anterior, and proximal biceps tendon that refused to stay in the groove, my shoulder decided it did not want to stay in the socket when I overhead pressed.
I had to start over.

When I was functional enough to move around (almost) like a modern human, I took on the strength coach Mike Mastell. This man has helped me to improve my mobility drastically, work around and improve weaknesses to prevent reinjury, and made the mechanics of my lifts light-years better than they were before.

Almost a year later, I am tons more athletic, flexible, and stronger, while at a much lighter weight. I still have huge hypertrophic imbalances that we are currently working on to maximize my potential and help prevent reinjury.

I'm not ashamed in the least that I enlisted the help of an expert for my training. The information I gained was invaluable.


Bodybuilder first, strongman second.

That sounds like the worse year of anyone's life, ever.  You could have contracted Ebola and had a marginally better year.  Hell, you could have discovered you were raped in your sleep and contracted AIDS and would have been less miserable.  Anyway, I won't dig into your program too deeply as I don't want to steal from your coach, but I find your comment in re hypertrophic imbalances interesting.  You're incredibly young to have that many catastrophic injuries, and I think it speaks to a psychotic rant I recently made about why the under-25 crowd is going to kill the sport of powerlifting.  To summarize- they're insanely dogmatic and close- minded, and seem to think training for hypertrophy (i.e. bodybuilding) is tantamount to powerlifting sacrilege.  Thus, they end up with no shortage of injuries and plateaus they could have avoided if they'd just do hamstring curls on occasion.  You, as I recall, were a bodybuilder first, so how do you think you came all of these imbalances?

I am pretty sure all my imbalances started in high school when I was doing some barbell squats and managed to tweak my psoas. I didn’t know any better and just ignored it. Honestly, I think everything just went downhill from there.

Here is the history of dismemberment: Look close enough, and the order makes sense.
Psoas tweak > pelvic tilt > spine misalignment > shoulder girdle shift > groin tear > pec tear > shoulder subluxations.

This of course did not happen overnight, it was years of acting like a total idiot on top of massive weight and strength gain that caused this.

 I was never really taught how to lift weights by anybody; I just copied older kids on the football team and hoped for the best. Most people get gains no matter how poor their form is when they start initially. I saw that I was improving and never realized I was doing something particularly wrong.

After my second bodybuilding competition, I quickly switched to strongman where I was EASILY the smallest fish in the pond. Where your weight classes are over and under 231… I weighed in at a measly 180 pounds. For my first several contests, I wasn’t even strong enough to move the prescribed weights for the competition, so I spent the entire time trying to play catch up with the big boys. Every competition I entered was just slightly heavier than the previous, never giving me a mental break from sitting back and actually having a rational training program. I was too obsessed with being able to compete at a particular contest and not looking at the big picture.

This is also important to realize the issue of competing TOO regularly. By the end of my first year of strongman I had gained 50 pounds and qualified for nationals; I competed and actually did pretty well! After that, my body pretty much shut down on me. I kept getting heavier and stronger so I just didn’t bother doing routine maintenance. It caught up with me.

Pig liver on celery with mustard.

You are ripped to fucking shreds.  Run us through a day of eating, if you would, because I know everyone's dying to know what your diet looks like.

Sure thing! I suppose I’ll just answer your question succinctly instead of trying to give you some pre-meditated answers to questions you may have about it. I will let you know, that I have not always eaten like this, and it has taken me almost a year to get up to this point. It’s an interesting story in itself and has been an ongoing self-experiment since about 11 months ago. I have been increasing my calories EVERY SINGLE WEEK since the inception of this diet.

Here is an off day example:

Meal 1:
(112g) 4 oz fatless meat (chicken breast/turkey breast/white fish/pork tenderloin etc. etc.)
(56g) 2.5 oz nuts (peanuts/almonds/cashews)
(84g) 3 oz green veggies

Meal 2:
(112g) 4 oz fatless meat (chicken breast/turkey breast/white fish/pork tenderloin etc. etc.)
(56g) 2.5 oz nuts (peanuts/almonds/cashews)
(84g) 3 oz green veggies

Meal 3:
(112g) 4 oz fatless meat (chicken breast/turkey breast/white fish/pork tenderloin etc. etc.)
(56g) 2.5 oz nuts (peanuts/almonds/cashews)
(84g) 3 oz green veggies

Meal 4:
(112g) 4 oz fatless meat (chicken breast/turkey breast/white fish/pork tenderloin etc. etc.)
(56g) 2.5 oz nuts (peanuts/almonds/cashews)
(84g) 3 oz green veggies

Meal 5:
6 eggs
(56g) 2 oz sharp cheddar cheese
(84g) 3 oz green veggies
(28g) 1 oz nuts

~3000 calories ~80g carbs ~200g fat ~215g protein

The numbers vary a little depending on meat/nut/veggie choice, but you get the idea. I hit 3000 calories on off days (currently)

Here is an ON day example:

Meal 1:
(112g) 4 oz lean meat
(160g) 2 cups oats

Meal 2:
(112g) 4 oz lean meat
(160g) 2 cups oats

Meal 3: (pre workout)
(112g) 4 oz lean meat
(80g) 1 cup oats

Intra workout:
15g EAA
5g BCAA
50g carbohydrate

Meal 4:
1 scoop whey
7 cups of kids cereal
1 cup almond milk
(170g) pasta
(112g) pasta sauce

Meal 5:
(112g) 4 oz lean meat
(200g) Cornbread (from mix)

~4550 calories ~780 carbs ~80g fat ~220g protein

Again, all these numbers vary a little depending on exact food choices, but this week my goal was to hit 4550 calories for my total energy content on workout days.
I realize I have discrete meals after my workout listed, but the reality is that I just get home from the gym and eat until I pass out.



I see you eat carbs around your training- I don't because all of lifting is really done in 5 seconds or less.  Muscle glycogen is never touched.  What's your take on ketogenic dieting for people who train with more time under tension than that?

I think that people may be short-changing themselves by not consuming carbohydrates while training with more time under tension (or just overall higher volume). It has been shown in a controlled setting that consuming carbohydrates before and during resistance training increases peak force output and time to exhaustion (study was done in elite lifters, not old ladies). So even though carbohydrates don’t DIRECTLY lead to increases in skeletal muscle protein synthesis; by lifting more weight for longer periods, I feel you can put yourself into a better position for supercompensation (via neural adaptation, or otherwise). There are other factors involved, but for somebody trying to squeeze every ounce out of their training as humanly possible, allocating some calories for peri-workout carbohydrates won’t hurt. If somebody has a protein intake as massive of yours, what little glycogen you do use will be replenished through gluconeogenesis anyway. Since you have multiple meals before your next training session, you are almost never at a risk of going depleted.


Four ounces of meat is about the same size as a deck of cards or a small child's snack.

Your protein consumption seems low to the point of near criminality.  What's the logic behind such a low protein intake?  4oz of lean meat only yields about 25 grams of protein.  I fail to understand the logic behind that.  to give you some idea of how diametrically opposed our diets are, my Apex Predator Diet consists basically of meat on the bone, and is about 45% protein, 50% fat, and 5% carbs.  I essence, I double my bodyweight in protein and then halve that for grams of fat.  Carbs are limited to one or two days a week, capped off by an epic cheat meal for three to four hours one evening.

In short? It's because there are other foods that contain protein.

It doesn't have to be meat. Heck, on some days I get well over 150 g protein from (non-soy) plant sources (Nuts/Graints etc). These are NOT insignificant amounts. Just because the general fitness community does not count these foods as protein sources does not mean they don't contain protein and that your body cannot utilize it (for muscle building OR energy). There seems to be a bastardization of the diabetic exchange used by most these days. 1000's of calories are unaccounted for in some cases. As your carbohydrate intake increases, the need for protein (as an energy source) decreases. So I believe there is a happy medium between eating protein for maximizing anabolic capacity and consuming carbohydrate to prevent protein from being oxidized as energy and used for anabolic processes.

People can argue the "completeness" of protein all they'd like. It still contains calories, and just because there might a shortage of lysine or cysteine in a particular non-meat protein doesn't mean the metabolic capabilities are FUBAR. It's not like the body says "Hey! There is no methionine in there, shit this out undigested!". Furthermore, a person may gain precious few GRAMS of muscle mass per workout MAYBE (per week more likely). Scarfing an extra 200g protein (daily) will hardly result in a dramatic increase in (lean) mass gain. People hit the asymptote of maximizing anabolic capacity (via protein intake) at a much lower amount than they think. The extra protein will just be used for purposes of general metabolic expenditure, in which case I don't believe including carbohydrate instead of extra protein would hurt you. I don't honestly think I'd be bursting through an xxxl shirt (at this bodyfat) if I ate more meat. I am confident I get enough essential amino acids (and more importantly BCAA) from the food choices I make to maximize my anabolic capacity. I've attached a more recent picture of me supporting 222 lbs on what some (and by some I mean A TON) people would calculate as around 110 grams of protein daily (meat/dairy sources only).

There are times I eat massive amounts of meat, but this is because I am HUNGRY, NOT because I want to add more muscle mass. I'll just make isocaloric adjustments as necessary.


Trevor's diet leaves a hell of a lot of steak for the rest of us.

Interesting in re the protein consumption.  Given the wildly contradictory scientific evidence and the mountains of anecdotal/historical evidence suggesting that humans have the ability to absorb and utilize high intakes of protein, I err on the side of caution.  Additionally, I may just have low nitrogen retention naturally, but I've found that I cannot maintain high bodyweight at lower protein levels.  Whereas your diet is based on calories, mine is based on protein- I double my bodyweight for grams of protein per day, then make that roughly half of my caloric intake.  Thus, I eat about half as many grams of fat as I do grams of protein.  In practice, it ends up being more like 40% protein/60% fat, because I need the calories, but I'm more of a broad strokes than a minutia guy.

I only consume as much protein as I feel I need to maintain a positive nitrogen balance. The rest, as most everyone knows, just gets oxidized as energy. So instead of eating sacrificial protein, I just replace it with other calories instead. I eat more protein if I want, but I keep my intake at roughly 1g per pound. As I raise my calories, it of course goes up, but I don’t make a point to eat massive amounts. My meat servings are in the 4 oz range. I’d also like to mention that I count protein from all sources. That’s another can of worms that tends to make people cringe. Evidently, protein calories don’t count in sources besides meat and dairy in a large percentage of the population. EVERYONE KNOWS  “incomplete” proteins don’t get oxidized for energy at all (yikes). I don’t know why some people think that if a protein source is deficient in something like lysine, it no longer has the capacity to participate in anabolic biochemistry.



Protein is protein, eh?  That's a surprisingly laissez faire take on something that usually gets people foaming at the mouth.   You eat a surprisingly small amount of calories for a guy who's 230 lbs.  What's the logic behind that?  Are you not trying to continue to gain, or are you trying to lean out?

Correct, I am not Keto as much as I am PRO fat. Like I said before, I am just on a mission to prove that fat is not as poisonous as people think. People can argue until they are blue in the face, but as a biochemist I just view it as form of energy. I have regularly used ketogenic style diets in order to drop bodyfat.

Taking into consideration that athletic prowess (not just strength and power) is a priority of mine; I don't feel that a ketogenic diet (year round) is optimal for my performance.

Currently I am around 220 lbs. Before my catastrophic groin injury I was tipping the scale in the mid 250's. A combination of depression and not being able to walk deflated me to around 220.
After I was mobile enough to get around I just decided to diet all the way down to 200. I was very lean at this weight. Since I had to start EVERYTHING over (It was so bad that I was keeping track of PR's on how look it took me to get out of bed). I decided to slowly increase my calories and work my way back up the food chain the RIGHT way. I now maintain a low body fat percentage while adding food every week. I am stronger, healthier, and more athletic than I was at my heaviest weight. The bodybuilding mentality has really made my diet and training extremely productive. I am happy to be able to view this injury as a blessing in disguise.




Picture 1 (October 2012): 255 lbs Pre Injury
Picture 2 (May 2013):       200 lbs (May 2013) Post injury (recovering) and Post diet.
Picture 3 (Feb 2014):        210 lbs On the upswing with the priority of staying lean

I suppose my beard growth is as good of an indicator of chronology as any.



Going back to your training, I forgot to ask- to your training, how many days a week do you train heavy?

Out of the 4 days per week I train:
2 of them are heavy: Squat and overhead
1 moderate: Deadlift (lots of speed work, unilateral work, and volume per unit time)
 
Instead of trying to lift heavier weights all the time, I just try and squeeze in extra sets and/or extra reps within a time limit and set PR's that way. Eventually weights go up, but right now squat is my priority lower body lift due to having (previously) inactivated glutes and hamstrings. I have footballs for spinal erectors and concaved craters for glutes. Now that my mechanics and muscle activation have improved, everything is starting to explode up in weight and speed. Most of the 10 pounds I put on all went to my glutes and hamstrings. Squat was terribly behind because I could not perform it correctly, It was ALL lower back.



Anything you want to impart to everyone in regards to avoiding muscular imbalances?
  1. STAY MOBILE
  2. Maintain good mind muscle connection
  3. DON'T work through injuries.  It impresses nobody. Work AROUND them.
  4. Make sure that your lifts have adequate form for your body type. There are multiple correct ways to perform all lifts, make sure you find the variation that suits your body the best.
  5. Train every muscle. Every one. No matter what sport you are in. Not to mention, there is nothing shameful about having a symmetrical physique.
In any event, what's on the horizon for you?  you look to be in contest ready shape, and I'm guessing the sub-200 strongman weightclass is going to be out of reach for you soon.  Any upcoming competitions?

I am zoning in on several pro-qualifier competitions this year for strongman. Since there is no pro class for 200 (and nor am I naturally that light), I have been focusing on adding lean mass so I don’t have to embarrass my fellow strongmen by beating them whilst 25 pounds under the weight limit (yeah, right).

Staying as lean as possible while adding beef has been the goal, I think I am heading in the right direction, regardless of how the scale changes. I have always been a fat kid; so keeping my body fat low has been my top priority, above strength even. As Dan Green says (paraphrased) “competing without abs kicks you up a weight class unnecessarily”.
At my height, I will need to accrue considerably more lean mass to be competitive in bodybuilding (at higher levels). Until such time, I will be strength training for purposes of powerlifting and strongman. But EATING to gain muscle and keep fat down.



You're a crossover athlete. What do you think allowed you to easily transition from sport to sport? Do you have any recommendations for guys going from bodybuilding to strongman, strongman to bodybuilding, or either to or from powerlifting?

For bodybuilding at the local level, it’s all about conditioning. I think anyone can be a successful bodybuilder at the state level so long as they eat like one. I think the bodybuilding lifestyle can improve performance in ANY of the strength sports. Eating like a bodybuilder and training like a powerlifter/strongman will only help you. If you want to prepare for a bodybuilding contest, there is no reason to change the way you train, just beware that you won’t be at 100% strength when your body fat gets freakishly low. It’s all about the diet. I “easily” transitioned to strongman because it was the PERFECT excuse to get fat and strong. So I did. In the long run, it did not help me.

I’ve become rather infamous for this phrase, but I will own it:


Guys who refuse to lose their bellies because they are scared they will lose their strength are no better than the chicks that refuse to lift weights because they think they will get bulky.

Using the strength as a security blanket to have a gut isn’t only unnecessary, it is unhealthy. People making a (legitimate) living off of being strong (or trying)? Fine. These men are in the dozens.



Before I forget, everyone always wants to know how tall everyone is.  I've no idea why.  As I know they'll all be dying to know, how tall are you?

I am in the 5’10-5’11 range. Depends on whether or not I do heavy yoke walks the week before.




How would you recommend that an average trainee train to best prepare him or herself for any or all of those sports?

Train to be strong and healthy. Use rational, progressive overload with adequate fatigue management. If you get strong and eat correctly, the muscles will come. I think powerlifting year round for the strongman (with tweaks as necessary) and training events only some weeks before a contest is the best way to increase longevity and overall workload throughout the year.
You’ll build as big of a muscular base as any from powerlifting. If one decides to transition to bodybuilding from a strength sport you are at an even bigger hypertrophic advantage. If you start strong, then your higher rep work sets will be at a heavier weight than a person who has trained for hypertrophy only. Repping 405 will elicit more growth than repping 315.
Any well known cookie cutter strength program will work, the problem is just sticking to it. People try to outsmart themselves and just program in circles, never getting anywhere. If you tweak something it is no longer the original program.



Some pundits are crediting a return of power building with the rise in crossover athletes. I've always insisted everyone train to have great all-round strength and never be fat, which I suppose is power building. What's your take on this trend and that approach?

Not only is staying lean sexier, it is healthier. I aim to keep this trend going full-steam ahead. I am REALLY trying to force a paradigm shift in strength sports and body fat levels. If you don’t care how you look or feel that is one thing (or, as previously stated, if you make your living being strong), but purposefully sacrificing health in order to add a few pounds to a bench press is silly for the weekend warrior. I just can’t see a reason for a strength athlete to NOT eat for muscle mass and fat loss. I am not saying everyone has to walk around carrying abdominal veins, but if you are so massively fat it impedes everyday function (but helps your squat leverages) you may want to reconsider your lifestyle choices.



What are your general diet recommendations for the average trainee? Does the diet change much from sport to sport?

Generally, I don’t think the type of diet has to be different between sports. You either eat to build lean mass, or you don’t. Powerlifters and other strength athletes will need less overall caloric load (likely from carbohydrate) in order to facilitate progress because they just don’t burn as many calories in (or out) of the gym. On the same token, I don’t think intra-workout nutrition is as important for the strength only athlete due to the exercise load. To me, the low volume workouts don’t justify extra intra-workout calories. Although it certainly won’t hurt.

So long as your protein and fat requirements are met then filling in the rest of your energy gap to achieve a surplus is really up to you, I just choose carbohydrate because there is a greater pharmacological value compared to fat or protein.
Everyone is different, and there is more than one way to skin a cat. There are many “advanced” nutritional guidelines some people follow, and they may work, which is great! However, I am not convinced they work any better than keeping your diet simple stupid. If you are implementing more “advanced” nutritional principles but still making gains the same as a person eating a moderate diet, then you are unnecessarily complicating your life, this will be almost 100% of the time.

For the most part, there is a reason why most all the best athletes (strength or otherwise) and bodybuilders in the world eat a balanced diet. Present company excluded, of course.



Ah, that made me smile.  My diet is balanced as hell- 50% fat and 50% protein, bro!  Anyway, that was awesome and interesting.  If people have more questions, how can they get in touch with you?

I can be contacted through my website: www.trevorkashey.com
My facebook is also totally public: www.facebook.com/trevor.kashey

Trevor also has a badass food blog with some seriously cool recipes (like almost no carb waffles) here http://throwaneggonit.blogspot.com/

So there's something to tide you over as I continue to pound away at the data for the third and final portion of Powerlifting Is Not A Fucking Fun Run series, which should be out early this week, followed by a new Baddest Motherfuckers article, a Keto recipes article, and an article about the training methods of elite armwrestlers like Alexey Voevoda.