n=1/m=1, and the Relevance of Street Cred as Opposed to “Conferred” Cred

An interesting phenomena that the communications ease enabled by the Internet has brought about: the relevance of the n=1/m=1 experimenter, the citizen scientist.  Less and less do credentials matter; what truly matters are documented results; results that can then be duplicated, verified and substantiated by anyone, anywhere (again, regardless of “established” credentials).  Blogs now serve as as living curriculum vitae, with theories, postulates, experiment results, etc. laid out for all to examine.  Art DeVany is an economist by training, yet that didn’t prevent (nor lend any particular credence to) those ideas that eventually became today what we know as Evolutionary Fitness.  Physical Culturalists read Art’s ideas and theories (myself included), tried them on for size, and found them to be (mostly) spot-on.  Many of us took Art’s ideas, gave them our own n=1/m=1 spin, and documented those findings in our own blogs.  Does anyone really give two shits that Art’s formal training happens to be in the “dismal” rather than physical sciences?  Results are what ultimately matter.  How one got to the point of being able to produce those results matters little, other than as an “oh, by the way” vignette.  The fact of the matter is that access to knowledge is virtually free to anyone with a want to dig; access to “impressive” credentials, on the other hand, is still rather limited by economic barriers.  But again, my point: what really and ultimately matters, credentials or results?  Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly do not discount the contribution of the subject academic — I simply believe that creative thought from outside of the box plays a much bigger role — a critical role, even — in discovering the underlying truth of a matter than has previously been acknowledged.

An interesting Huffington Post article, DIY U, Educational Access, and the New Elitism, by Anya Kamenetz, talks to some of these same points.  Also, Seth Roberts has an interesting recent post regarding self-experimentation, and the re-emergence of the citizen scientist.  And from the blog of Tim Ferriss, comes this piece, written by Ryan Holiday, titled The Experimental Life: An Introduction to Michel de Montaigne .  N=1 experimentation; life as a consummate epistemocrat.  A belief in those who actively seek the truth, and a healthy skepticism toward those who claim to have found it. Credentials might be useful as a sound-bite crutch, however, to those of us willing to dig, consider, contemplate and research, they matter very little.  To me and other like-minded individuals, the credentials litmus test is, well… passe, and worse than that, useless.  Does anyone really care what Louie Simmons’ formal education consists of, or whether or not he is “certified” for example, by the NSCA?

On to the workout front –

Monday, 10/25

Pendulum hip press (hierarchical set): 400 x 12, 500 x 6, 600 x 3;
then immediately to a superset of the following:
trap bar deadlift: 460 x 2, 2, 2
weighted chins: 50 x 6, 5, 5

Thursday, 10/28

a superset of the following:
power snatch: 95 x 10; 115 x 6; 135 x 3; 145 x 3; 155 x 3; 160 x 2, 2
ab wheel roll-out (standing, full extension): bw x 10 each round
– then-
behind-the-neck push-press: 135 x 7; 185 x 6; 205 x 3; 210 x 2; 215 x 2; 220 x 1, (miss), 1

Friday, 10/29

a superset of the following:
floor press: 185 x 10; 215 x 7; 235 x 4, 4
bent-over rows: 275 x 7; 305 x 6; 325 x 4, 4

Each set of floor presses was preceded by a set of 7 explosive push-ups; primers for the cns.  And speaking of cns primers, check out this post from UND S&C coach,

Aaron Schwenzfeier, on pogo hops as a potent cns stimulator and a mighty effective “warm-up” to boot.  I agree, and I use the same methods myself. 

…and to round things out, here’s a great article, from T-Nation, on the mechanisms of hypertrophy:

More support for the notion that physical culture cannot be boiled down singular “best” methodologies; what’s “best” in fact, is the intelligent co-mingling of many different techniques and methods, dependent upon the trainee’s goals and current status.


In health,


Intensity: the Real Key to Strength and Conditioning Success

“Basic, brutal, and brief…”

And if I may, to that I’d add intermittent to that as well.  Ok, so I’ve racked my brain and consulted my thesaurus to no avail — anyone know a synonym for “intermittent” that starts with a “b”?

Anyway, the “basic, brutal and brief” statement is just a snippet of the wisdom that long-time Strength & Conditioning coach Mark Asanovich delivers during this recent interview with Dave Durrell, of High Intensity Nation.  Another bit of in-the-trenches wisdom that Mark disseminates is that we as trainers and trainees should remember, first and foremost,  this: that all training boils down to “…physiology, physics and motor learning…”; and to that, I would add “psychology” or, more specifically, the ability to bring intensity to the training protocol.  Because, let’s face it: there’s not a training program that can ever be written that will produce results without the trainee bringing intensity to the table and, conversely, even the most mismatched trainee/protocol combo will work — at least for a while — if the intensity applied to that protocol is of top-notch quality.

Want results?  You gotta lay it on the line, brother — each and every workout.  Now, match super intensity with smart programming and, well…you’ve got the makings of the perfect Physical Culture one-two punch.

…and add a well-adhered-to Paleo diet to the mix, and we’ve got ourselves a perfect combination  🙂

Thought I fell off the Edge of the Earth, huh?

Well, I suppose I have fallen off the edge of the “wired” earth 🙂  Slowly but surely, though, I am making my way back into some sense of wired-world normalcy.  And hey, have I mentioned that I love my new gig with Efficient Exercise of Austin?  Yeah, it’s true; I’m like a kid in a candy store…er, more like a Neanderthal at a cave bear kill!  I get to train/partner with a spectrum of interesting clients (each with unique goals) for a living and I have access to so many fitness toys it’s simply mind-boggling.  How cool is that?  Very, very cool in my book!

So my day-to-day routine is totally out of the window for the time being, which is both a good and, in some respects, a very challenging thing to deal with.  One the good side of the ledger, my body has been exposed to a myriad of new movements and schemes which, in turn, forces a whole new level of adaptation.  This new “workout landscape” produces an exhilarating feeling and a CNS that is now hyper-wired as a result of trying to keep up with each new stimulus being thrown its way.  Also, my caffeine consumption has dropped dramatically; that will soon change, however, as Austin is replete with some of the coolest coffee shops anywhere, like the fantastic Thunderbird Coffee, which is only about a mile’s hard fixie sprint from my Rosedale studio.  Oh, and have I mentioned that I’m now in fixie paradise?  Yeah, it’s true, I’m lovin’ my new surroundings.

For the next couple of weeks, Meesus TTP and I will be living in limbo, as the closing on our new casa won’t take place until on or around the 15th of this month.  Then, another round of adjustment will unfold, and another new groove will be laid down.  Hang with me folks; eventually I’ll return to my old blogging ways.

I’ll leave you today with the following little food-for-thought morsel (hat-tip to TTP reader Dan for bringing this to my attention): the US Army’s lowering of physical fitness standards.  This is sad commentary indeed on the state of the nation’s well-being.  And this isn’t a problem particular to only the US — all “developed” nations face the same crisis of dwindling physical readiness.  Couple poor physical readiness with the push toward “low-fat” offerings in the chow halls and, well…let’s just say this is a bad double-whammy for the guardians of freedom.  How can a nation continue to adequately defend itself when its fighting forces are of dwindling strength and dwindling vigor?

Announcing an Exciting New Partnership!

“Wow” is such an understatement, yet it’s the only word I have to express my joy at the moment.  Maybe Robb Wolf wouldn’t mind if I borrowed his “Holy Cats!” for the occasion 🙂

Well, after much (and months worth of!) pains-taking consideration — the manner and degree of which was truly worthy of any life-course altering decision — all the various pieces have now finally all come together, and the timing is right.  Serendipity has manifested both an opportunity and the  perfect outlet for me to pursue my life-long love and exploration of Physical Culture, and to fulfill my desire of “paying forward” that passion and knowledge of the subject to those who might hunger for the message.  And to make a good situation even better, that opportunity just happens to be in my beloved native state of Texas…hey, who could ask for more?

So what’s with all the elation today?  Well, Austin Texas’ Efficient Exercise president Mark Alexander and I have recently came to terms on a deal that will bring me and my North Carolina dog-and-pony show down to the Austin area to become an integral part of the Efficient Exercise team (which includes, by the way, Skyler Tanner).  And I couldn’t be more thrilled over the prospect.

I can’t think of a more perfect outlet than Efficient Exercise for me to freely coach (some would say “evangelize”) my brand of Physical Culture – High Intensity Training (HIT) that is results-driven, essentially protocol agnostic, and personally tailored to meet each and every individual client’s unique needs and goals.  Mark and I share the same vision of providing not only excellently-crafted and uniquely tailored personal training, but also comprehensive life coaching.  We all know that Physical Culture doesn’t end in the gym; in fact, “training” is only a small part of a 24/7, life-long wellness pursuit.  Training, diet, day-to-day lifestyle choices – all of these are interwoven threads which contribute to the great tapestry of a life well-lived.  My personal aims and goals coincide perfectly with the Efficient Exercise vision of providing a comprehensive and personalized Physical Culture education to those who endeavor to look good, feel fantastic, and perform optimally.

One client at a time, one life change at a time; uniquely-crafted, personalized service.  That’s the Efficient Exercise standard of excellence, and that commitment to excellence is why I’ve ultimately decided to become a part of the fabulous Efficient Exercise team.

How this will ultimately affect the Theory to Practice blog going forward, well, at this juncture, I’m not quite sure.  I can certainly envision posting much more “through the trainee’s eyes” type content, as well as more Austin-area based posts (I can’t wait to dive head-first into the Austin area fixie scene  J   ) from the Efficient Exercise blog.   We also plan to enhance the Efficient Exercise web presence, and so TTP may become absorbed into the cumulative, revamped Efficient Exercise web experience.  Or, it may be that I’ll post the more “nuts and bolts” diet and training related ideas on the Efficient Exercise side, while keeping to the more theoretical and conjecture-based topics here at TTP.  Time will tell, and these things will eventually shake out.

So needless to say, this is very, very exciting for me.  As the Austin/central Texas area is a Mecca for endurance-based athletes, I’d love to bring some of these folks into the Efficient Exercise fold, and chronicle their strength-derived, endurance performance progress.  Hey, c’mon by and check me out Lance,  🙂  — and all the guys and gals out at Mellow Johnny’s, too – added strength and a rockin’ anaerobic metabolism are the endurance athlete’s heightened performance secret weapons.

But then again, added strength and a rockin’ anaerobic metabolic system are the secret weapons to everyone’s looking good, feeling fantastic, and reforming optimally.

So you’ve been good to me, North Carolina; really good to me.  I’ll cherish all the many, many good memories, and I’ll certainly miss all the close friends I’ve made here over the years.  Time doesn’t stand still, though, and we all have to heed our calling if we are to be truly fulfilled.

Stay tuned TTP readers, for more updates, and a new edge to the TTP blog.  And if you’re in the Austin area and looking for a personalized training experience and/or some serious lifestyle coaching, give us a call, or drop in and see us.

The Value of Machines — a Pre-Exhaust Example, and a Couple of Days of Training

Dave Durrell, of High Intensity Nation, recently posted on a very effective, isolation + compound movement shoulder training technique, utilizing a good ol’ weightlifting standby — the pre-exhaust method.  This is a fine example, in my opinion, of employing the right tool for the job.

Let’s take a step back and consider the various ways in which a body can be “strong”.  On its face, this seems an odd notion – you’re either strong or you’re not, right?  Well, not exactly.  We’ve all seen examples of someone who’s quick as a cat – super explosive, say — yet who’s lacking in absolute strength (the classic Allyson Felix scenario).  Conversely, there’s the super-strong powerlifter for whom you’ll have to break out a sundial to clock their 40 time.  Power, then (what we’re really ultimately looking at) is a combination of different finely trained strength attributes appropriated and expressed over a given duration; the fine-tuned execution of which is a type of kinesthetic “genius” in its own right.  Of course, the predominant strength attributes required of a 2 second duration snatch are undoubtedly different than those required of a 3-and-a-half second deadlift, a 100 meter sprint, a wrestling match, or the full duration of a football game.  The best athletes in each of these endeavors, though, will undoubtedly excel at not only the predominant required strength capability, but in all strength capabilities.  This is what Louie Simmons is getting at when he trains his athletes to be proficient in all “strengths” (I wrote a little about this most recently, here).  A proficiency in all strength attributes is, in fact, what separates the “contenders” from the mere “competitors”.

But back to Dave’s post.  It’s been fashionable within the free-weight community these days – hell, actually ever since the emergence of Arthur Jones, and advent of Nautilus equipment upon the physical culture scene – to bash machine-based work.  The thing is, though, machines are just another tool.  And for pre-exhaust work, isolation purposes, repeated-effort method work and the like, they’re a damn good choice.  Again, it’s all a matter of determining what your immediate training needs are, and choosing the right tool from among your available options to satisfy your needs.  Whenever I’m asked the old “machines or free weights” question, my answer is always “yes”…and bodyweight exercises, and sprinting, and climbing, and gymnastics… Why would anyone choose to voluntarily limit their available options?

Late revision (6/25/10) – I just ran across this, via Seth Godin’s fine blog (hat tip to Mike Robertson).  In my mind,  Ism Schism pretty much sums-ups the whole machine/free weight debate.

Tuesday’s Training –

front squat: 135 x 3; 165 x 3; 185 x 3; 205 x 2; 215 x 7 rest-pause singles


hang cleans (light; workin’ the groove again): 135 x 5; 155 x 5; 165 x 6 – very fast, perfectly executed reps.  Fat bar.


Jump squat + BTN jerk: 135 x 3; 155 x 3; 175 x 3, 3, 3

then a superset of-

db tricept extensions (lying flat): 45 x 12, 12, 12 (rest-pause last 5 reps of last set)

EZ bar bicep curl: bar +70 lbs x 12, 12, 12 (rest-pause last 3 reps of last set)

Wednesday’s Training –

clean grip pull jumps: 135 x 3; 185 x 3; 205 x 3; 225 x 3; 245 x 3, 3, 3

then, a superset of –

kneeling db clean and press: 40 x 15, 15, 15

ghr: bodyweight x 15, 15, 15


Nautilus 4-way neck: 50 lbs front, side, side; 60 lbs to the rear

Took Thursday completely off – no lifting, riding or anything.  Felt kinda strange.

The Five Elements — Matching “Wiring” to Modality

So, how are you “wired”?  Here’s another aspect to consider when mapping a training plan.  As one becomes more adept at “reading” one’s own body — and now we’re digging down to some serious n=1 activity — is determining one’s physio-psychological make-up.  Charles Poliquin uses the analogy of the Five Elements, or the five physical types described in Chinese medicine.  I think this is a fine analogy, so long as we resist the urge to “categorize completely and wholly”.  As is the case with astrology — stick with me here, I’ve not completely stumbled away from my gourd! — purity of type (sign, element, ect.) simply does not exist.  People can be “heavy” in one aspect or another — predominantly influenced by this element or that — to be sure, though, the human personality is more an alloy than a pure element; the n=1 challenge being to tease-out that predominant element in one’s own (or your client’s own) make-up.  I think it’s also important to note as well, the fact that no one is absent any “element”.  Diminished or understated, yes; each aspect, though, is present in every trainee — the matter of degree is what we’re searching for.

Of course, if you’re put off by all of this “touchy-feely” stuff, we can just agree that people are wired differently and respond to a given protocol rather uniquely.  Many times “non-responders” or “hardgainers” simply have not coupled their “elemental make-up” with the right modality.  Remember, few things in physical culture can be taken as absolutes — other than that there are no absolutes.  By cultivating a healthy n=1, pioneering attitude though, (embracing the “wood” aspect), one will eventually lock-on to a modality that fits.

Tuesday’s training –
An evening session this go-around.  One advantage for working out in the evening is that my CNS is fully “awake”; no matter how much I warm up in the morning, my CNS is just not ready to fully blow-and-go.  Of course, working out first thing in the AM has multiple advantages in its own right — the biggest being that “life” is less likely to bump a workout.  There’s a give and take to everything in life, and each person’s “optimum workout window” is no different.

About a 20-minute fixie ride to warm-up — “warm-up” being the understatement of the day; damn, it’s friggin’ hot out lately.

Superset fashion with these two –
clean-grip low pulls: 225 x 3, 3; 245 x 3; 255 x 3; 265 x 3, 3, 3, 3
weighted dips: 45 x4; 80 x 3; 90 x 3; 95 x 3; 100 x 3, 3, 3, 3

Followed by another superset here –
barbell muscle-up: 135 x 4, 4, 4
straight bar muscle-up (the pull-up variety): bodyweight x 3, 2, 2

…and then, some Nautilus 4-way Neck work: front and each side – 50 lbs 10 each; rear – 60 lbs x 10

Finished-up with a nice fixie sprint home to some damn fine leftovers — grass-fed eye of chuck being the main player.  Meal porn to follow.

Thursday Morning (6/10/10) GPP, and Good Eats on a Buck a Day? Yeah, Right…

Nothin’ fancy about this one, just a straight-up, down-and-dirty, early morning GPP iron session.

farmer’s walks: 100 lb DBs for 1 lap (150 yards) x 1, 1, 1, 1
whip snatch + OHS: 115 x (3, 3), (3, 3), (3, 3), (3, 3)

Want to make 115 lbs feel like a friggin’ ton?  Whip snatch and overhead squat that piddling amount following a hundred-and-fifty yards worth of farmer’s walking with a pair of 100 lb DBs.  I did two “sets” of 3 each round — with a minimum break between the 2 “sets” — because I couldn’t perform 6 straight; not with anything resembling decent form, anyway.  I completed each lap of the walks with a single short break about midway through; had to take 2 breaks, though, on the 4th lap.

I followed that 4-round lovely with an additional 150 yards of farmer’s walking; this lap, though, with a break at the half-way point for some Nautilus 4-way neck work: 50 lbs x 10, front and each side and 60 lbs x 10 to the rear.  I reduced the tempo with these to 5/0/1/0.

Good overall workout.  The real key to pulling off this kind of a session is the same as in pulling off a successful HIT/SS session — battling the mind’s incessant calls to “throttle-down!”.  There’s just not much for the mind to fixate on during a farmer’s walk other than the suffering that the body is enduring.  I played mind-jedi games (20 more steps, 19, 18, 17…) and concentrated on “walking the line”, which also doubled as working the hip girdle even more (moving toward a “crossover” step.  Using these techniques, I was able to squeeze out a little more distance between breaks.

I Appreciate the Guy’s Moxie, I Really Do — But…

…but this seems to me more like a speed-shift into the metabolic-derangement fast lane — all for a low low $1 a day!! — than any kind of long-term “bargain”.  Hey, there’s a reason why these foods are cheap — for the most part, they’re subsidized by the government.  How many coupons do you ever see for grass-fed beef or locally grown vegetables?  Good food might cost me a little more than a buck a day, but I’ll gladly pay it.