Ode and Origins by Paul Carter

(From Jim: This is an article Paul put on his blog a couple days ago.  I just read it this morning and am beaming.  I think of Paul as a good friend and to know that I helped inspire him to reach some of his goals; that is priceless.  I hope in some way, whether it be lifting or otherwise, I can inspire you to be better in some aspect of your life.  I hear a lot of things from different people who are just miserable in their lives and I want to shake them and let them know they have a choice; sometimes it takes awhile to make a change.  But ultimately, YOU have a choice in your life.  It is easy to be miserable and accept things as they are.  It is hard to be happy.  It takes sacrifice.  It takes some pain. But it is up to you to make a change and morph yourself into the person with the life you want.  You have one go-around on this planet – don’t waste it.  You don’t have to make a million dollars or be the greatest – sometimes “success” is simply following the path your heart takes you.)



Yesterday my buddy Jim Wendler put up an article that I wrote a while back.  He texted me some time ago to ask me if he could use it for his site.  I said of course, no need to even ask.  But Jim cursed me, and said he’d always ask first.  I laughed.

I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I know Jim.  Well, here’s the story.

It was over three years ago when I first sent Jim an e-mail.  Just basic training talk.  At that time, Jim’s training was evolving into what everyone knows as 5/3/1 now.  The things he wrote at that time about training, resonated with me because it so closely echoed my own thoughts about what a training methodology should look like.  Grass roots/blue collar barbell lifting, focusing on basic movements, simple progression, and doing some hard conditioning.  Nothing new, and certainly nothing that other coaches and lifters haven’t been doing for decades.  But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone talking about it then for the most part.  Especially at that time.
Grass roots barbell lifting had gotten buried under bands and chains and foam and all sorts of shit that never made sense to me.  All the strongest guys I knew of had gotten that way with a fucking barbell and dumbbells.  When did that go out of style?  Why was that not good enough anymore?  I was told “those guys could do anything and get fucking strong.  If you’re not a genetic mutant, then you have to do other shit to get strong.”
What the fuck?
If that were the case, then why did all of those guys CHOOSE to train that way?  They chose an inferior way of training?  Andy Bolton and Benni train like that.  So does Savickas.  So it’s not like those guys don’t know about other training methods, and yet they chose to train in a very basic fucking fashion.  You’re telling me that if those guys all trained using these “advanced methods” they’d be even stronger?  Get the fuck outta here with that bottle of farts.

People ignore simple training methods, because “there has to be a better way”.  It’s too simple.  I often think that most people that post on the internet that “train” (DYEL?) are more what I call, lifting intellectuals, than actual lifters.  They like to talk about training, and they like training methods that are fucking complex because, well, that gives them a lot of shit to talk about.

So this kind of shit, the kind that Jim was writing about, was too simple for them.

  • Work harder?
  • Add more weight to the bar?
  • Do more reps?
  • What are these things you speak of?

There has to be a “better” way.  That’s an inferior path.

Who the fuck said?

Why does there have to be a better way?  Because you aren’t strong?  Someone is hiding something secret program from you?  Here’s the real secret, no one is hiding anything.  And there isn’t anything special about bands or chains or foam or special bars.  You can get as fucking strong and as developed as you’re ever going to get with a very limited amount of equipment, and an unlimited amount of yearning to get better.

Fucking fact.
But no one wants to really say that anymore.  At that time, Jim was the only guy I knew that was really writing that.  So I followed his log for a while. And we exchanged more training thoughts and ideas.  One day, I sent him an e-mail about this cougar I know, and how she had this guy that was always bothering her. I named that guy Max Cady after the character in Cape Fear.  Jim told me was jealous that he never thought of using that name for a woman stalker.
From there our conversations took off, and we made a deal not to make a new e-mail.  Over the course of the next many months, Jim and I exchanged something to the tune of 700 replies in that one e-mail.  About lifting, life, music, porn, family, women, dogs, being a man, and about anything you can think of.  Things that I realized that my new book will be about.  What I named it.  Strength, life, legacy.
I’d wake up in the morning and have some reply from Jim, and jesus tap dancing christ, he’d have sent me some picture that I won’t describe here because some images you can’t get out of your head.  And he’d fucking laugh about it.  He taunted me with a link for weeks to this video I wouldn’t watch.  Finally I did.  I regretted it.  He still catches me now and again, as he did a few weeks ago when he asked me to look up Mr. Hands.
I’m sure people would pay good money for those e-mails.  Aside from the horrific pictures he sent me, there was a shit ton of awesome training ideas and knowledge in our exchanges.  And I soon started blogging about my training ideas and philosophies.  I didn’t care if anyone read it.  I did it because I had found that writing was a passion of mine, and it was something I could pour my creative energy into.

I initially called my blog “functional-strength”.  Because I hated that fucking phrase, and I wanted to redefine what that meant.  But I was just never happy with it.  So I eventually settled on lift-run-bang.  With “bang” being the variable.  It could mean anything.  Lift, run, football.  Lift, run, MMA.  Or….lift, run, bang.  Like banging some trim.  You get it.

So I wrote some articles that no one would read, but that was ok.  I liked having the outlet. Anyway, Jim read my shit and encouraged me to submit them to elitefts.  That was weird to me, because I had no background in writing, nor did I think anyone would want to read my shit.  But I did.  And the feedback was positive, so I continued.  And soon 5-12 people read my articles. My and Jim’s ideas were so similar, I read in more than one place that “they seem to just rip each other off.” in regards to the things we wrote about.  I laughed, and took that as a compliment.  Often times Jim would write something almost word for word on an article I would be working on.  And I’d have to scrap it because of that.  I always took it as a compliment anytime someone compared our work because I think Jim is a fantastic writer, and his article that he put up on t-nation sometime back, about overhead pressing is one of the best articles I’ve read about concerning lifting weights, in a long, long time.

Jim and I also developed the what constitutes strong standards, and what we thought from a repping standpoint, that meant.  No bodyweight percentages, no formulas.  We didn’t give a fuck about that shit. Weight on the fucking bar.  And how many reps can you do that with that shit.  Simple.  Just like our methodologies and ideas about training.
We also kept each other in check in our training.  One day Jim told me how much ass he had been kicking in his training.  How he’d been setting PR’s at his lowest bodyweight in a long time, and how fucking awesome he felt overall from his conditioning.
“I’m going to change some shit up.” he told me.
“Fucking why?”
“Because I can make it better.”
“Sounds dumb.  But ok.”
Jim’s a smart guy………sometimes.
I figured if he were making changes, he had a good reason for it.  However my train of thought has always been, when shit is going good, don’t change a god damn thing.  Milk those times until the well is dry.  Then go back to the drawing board.
A few weeks later he e-mailed me to tell me that he had fucked himself up.  I lit into him pretty good at that point.  Telling him “weeks ago, you told me you were hitting PR’s and kicking ass.  And then you go and change shit like a dumbass.  Go back to fucking what you were doing.  Train twice a week, and limit what you’re doing.”  He listened, and then went a did a meet and went over 1750 raw.  Jim gave me credit for the nut punch that help get him back on track.  I was just glad I said something that helped him out.  Like I am with and try to do for anyone and everyone else.

Lifer –

Much like myself, when it comes to the iron, Jim is a lifer.
Lifer – Someone who will/would continue to lift weights and train, even after the Armageddon has happened, and there would be no one around to see it.
If we were the only two fuckheads left on the planet, we’d still lift weights.  Still run hills, and sprints, and talk about basic ways to get better.
We’re lifers because the lesson we learned, and that everyone has to learn if they really want to get better, is that you have to do this shit for you.  How many fucks do you think I give that someone is stronger than me?  Zero.  Zero fucks given.

You know why?  Because there is someone stronger than everyone somewhere.  I have no control over that.  I only have control over my own shit, and what I can do about it.  So that’s what I focus on.  That’s what you should focus on.

The day you stop worrying about what other people are doing, and other people think about you in regards to training, is the day you take that a step towards getting better.  Because then you start making decisions to get better for YOU.  Not to please someone else, or find their approval.  You learn to stop asking permission, and know you don’t need to ask for forgiveness.  Why?  Because it’s your own god damn training.  Do what makes shit happen for you.  Grok that fucking motto, and you’ll wake up one morning to the amazement that you’re pretty fucking awesome, and you didn’t need to give someone a rusty trombone in order to get that way.  You did shit like it needed to be done for you.

Embrace that attitude.  Embrace becoming a lifer.  When you’re a lifer, you know the little victories add up.  5 pounds on the bar this week, and 5 in a month, and 5 more in 6 months just increased one of my big lifts by 15 pounds.  I didn’t need to run some special Russian secret program in order to add that weight in a few weeks, only to realize you can’t sustain those gains.  I did it slowly, methodically, and that way, they became cemented in the foundation of my strength.


My ode to Jim is that lift-run-bang never exists without the support and friendship he has given me over the years.  I could have never helped the people I have, if Jim hadn’t given me a similar nut punch to write and get my ideas out, and take a few steps forward.  For most people, those first few steps are the hardest.  To have someone there to encourage you enough to take those steps, can be the single biggest factor in making something happen.

I think it’s always important to acknowledge the people who make a positive difference in your life, and I wanted to do that with this post, acknowledging Jim and how much he helped me in getting my feet off the ground, so to speak.

Thanks, fucker.


Got a question for Jim Wendler? Email him at jim@jimwendler.com or northofvag@gmail.com.  Legitimate questions will be answered via the website/blog.  All older questions will be answered in time via www.JimWendler.com.  If the answer is clearly answered in any of the 5/3/1 books, your question will not be answered.

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  • Comment by Chad — May 21, 2012 @ 9:38 am

    Great read first thing this morning.

  • Comment by mark — May 21, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    That’s a good fucking article and I’m only 19

  • Comment by Stefan — May 21, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    a fucking good stuff

  • Comment by Head Shave — May 21, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

    Awesome lifting. Awesome website.

    Love the pack of Jimmy Deans on the back of your head – that’s sexy baby!!

    Keep kicking ass!

  • Comment by Rich — May 22, 2012 @ 2:48 am

    Great motivation!

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