Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get some real perspective regarding health and training. Please post feedback or questions to Charles directly in the comments below this article.
 

A Fundamental Question

If you had to pick just one of the following options, which one would you choose?
 
  • Option A: Do the right things.
  • Option B: Work really hard.
 
I know that’s an artificial construct, but these “if you could only” questions are fantastic for stimulating thinking and deeper conversation. While I’ll concede that the best of all worlds would be to consistently work hard doing the right things, what would you choose if you had to pick between the two?
 

The Critical Ingredient

This question is just a different way of asking, “How important is hard work relative to everything else?” I’ll go with working hard every time. I’ve worked with large numbers of successful clients over the years, and every super successful person I’ve trained has worked very hard on a consistent basis over long periods of time. 
 
I’ve also seen lots of people who seemed to do everything right, but didn’t have a whole lot of success to show for it. The missing ingredient? Hard, consistent work. Here’s how it breaks down:
 
  • If you’re doing things completely wrong, no amount of hard work will save you. It might even make things worse. 
  • As long as you’re doing things reasonably well, that is enough, as long as you’re working hard. 
  • If methods are 100 percent dialed in but you’re not putting in the work, it simply won’t pan out.
 
A half-hearted effort at the right methods will not yield results. But hard work at imperfect methods will.
 

Hard Work Covers a Multitude of Sins

Over the years, I’ve worked with and consulted a number of highly talented athletes. I’ve always been struck by two seemingly disparate observations about these people:
 
  • They often make surprisingly obvious mistakes in their training and/or nutrition.
  • They work very hard, very consistently.
 
Interesting, don’t you think? I think it’s because it’s not easy to know whether or not you’re doing everything right. It requires a lot of study and experimentation, and even then, you’ll never know for sure if you’re on the right track. But working hard is available to everyone. You simply have to be willing. 
 
It’s not my intention to downplay or discourage you from seeking out and using the best practices. Far from it. I’m simply encouraging you to assess whether or not you’re working hard enough, consistently enough. Because if you’re not where you’d like to be, it probably isn’t because you’re not using the best methods. It’s much more likely that you’re just not working hard enough. 
 

This Week’s Training:

Volume: 70,739lb (Last Week: 105,659lb)
 
Significant Lifts:
  • Swings: 124x20
  • Bench Press: 190x10
 
This week started out with signs that I’m in need of a deload. I couldn’t better, or even match, last week’s squats. Although I did exceed last week’s performance on the bench press, on Thursday I felt super flat. Warming up on deadlifts, it soon became evident that I wasn’t going to come close to bettering the previous week’s pulls. So after only managing to pull 365x3 (my goal was 400-405 x10), I decided my deload had already begun by default.
 
Next week, I’ll continue low-volume training right up to and including Wednesday’s session, and then I’ll be back to the grindstone on Thursday. I’ll also make several exercise substitutions and drop down to sets of 5, as I’ve been doing sets of 10 for about 7 weeks now. As grueling as these sets of 10 are, I do think they’ve improved my body composition slightly, as you may be able to tell from the video below.
 
Until I decide when my next powerlifting competition will be, I’m planning on training for hypertrophy and base strength on a 2-to-1 ratio. So I'll program 8 weeks of hypertrophy using higher reps, followed by 4 weeks of strength using lower reps.
 
Thanks guys. Train smart, but (you knew this was coming) train hard.

Monday, January 11, 2016

 
Bodyweight: 200.8lb
Volume: 24,344lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 35lb × 10
  • Set 2: 75lb × 10
  • Set 3: 100lb × 10
 
Power Clean
  • Set 1: 45lb × 5
  • Set 2: 88lb × 5
  • Set 3: 110lb × 5
  • Set 4: 132lb × 5
  • Set 5: 154lb × 3
  • Set 6: 176lb × 1
  • Set 7: 176lb × 0
  • Set 8: 154lb × 2
  • Set 9: 154lb × 2
Notes: I got to the gym later than I wanted, and might have been rushing these, hence the 176 miss.
 
High Bar Squat
  • Set 1: 95lb × 10
  • Set 2: 135lb × 10
  • Set 3: 185lb × 10
  • Set 4: 225lb × 7
Notes: Felt super flat on squats. I think I smell a deload.
 
Swings
  • Set 1: 124lb × 20
  • Set 2: 124lb × 20
  • Set 3: 124lb × 20
Notes: Grip is the only issue with these.
 
4" Block Pull
  • Set 1: 315lb × 10
 
Toes to Bar
  • Set 1: 7 reps
  • Set 2: 7 reps
  • Set 3: 7 reps
Notes: the last 1-2 reps of sets 2 and 3 difficult!
 
Seated Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 70lb × 10
  • Set 2: 70lb × 10
  • Set 3: 70lb × 10
  • Set 4: 70lb × 10
Note: 4th set was just to get more over 24,000 pounds of volume for the session.
 
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 200.6lb
Volume: 27,950lb
 
Bench Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 10
  • Set 3: 135lb × 10
  • Set 4: 175lb × 10
  • Set 5: 190lb × 10
  • Set 6: 170lb × 10
  • Set 7: 170lb × 10
 
Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Set 1: 100lb × 10
  • Set 2: 140lb × 10
  • Set 3: 140lb × 10
  • Set 4: 130lb × 10
 
Seated Row
  • Set 1: 165lb × 10
  • Set 2: 180lb × 10
  • Set 3: 180lb × 10
  • Set 4: 180lb × 10 (Video Below)

 

 

Dual Cable Low Cable Curl
  • Set 1: 90lb × 10
  • Set 2: 90lb × 10
  • Set 3: 90lb × 10
  • Set 4: 90lb × 10
 
Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension
  • Set 1: 60lb × 10
  • Set 2: 60lb × 10
  • Set 3: 60lb × 10
  • Set 4: 60lb × 10
 
Thursday, January 14, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 200.6lb
Volume: 18,445lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 35lb × 10
  • Set 2: 35lb × 10
  • Set 3: 35lb × 10
 
2.5" Deficit Pull
  • Set 1: 135lb × 10
  • Set 2: 185lb × 10
  • Set 3: 225lb × 10
  • Set 4: 275lb × 10
  • Set 5: 315lb × 10
  • Set 6: 365lb × 3
 
Hack Squat
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 90lb × 10
 
Standing Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 180lb × 10
  • Set 2: 180lb × 10
 
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Photo courtesy of CrossFit Empirical.
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