Do you think more lifters should try something similar, meaning should bodybuilders try powerlifting and vice versa?
Probably not. Think about it, if you want to play Division 1 football, is it really going to help if you go play basketball everyday? Sure, you can go out and have fun and maybe even have some success, but I doubt the average person will have the same level of success versus if they just buckled down and did one thing.
At some point a serious lifter really has to choose one or the other, cause most people just aren't good enough to do both. In other words, most people aren't Bo Jackson That doesn't mean that the average guy can't take a detour on occasion and steal some ideas, but to excel at something you should generally focus on just one goal.
But there are definitely things bodybuilders and powerlifters can learn from one another, right?
Of course. Train for a bodybuilding show and you'll learn how your body responds to diet, to different exercises, and to volume. The greater isolation work will likely help identify and maybe even correct some imbalances as well.
So does that mean you're going to pose on stage?
No. Bodybuilding has got to be the most disciplined sport in the world; well, if it's a sport at all. Look at football. Sure, you have to practice every day and lift weights, but at the end of day you can still have a life. In bodybuilding that's just not the case. I have tremendous respect for it cause I sure as hell couldn't do it. I think to succeed at anything you have to have both heart (the want to do it) and the discipline (the want to do it even when you don't want to do the work).
How important is environment to making optimal gains? You hear guys talking about Westside Barbell and EliteFTS like they're these Meccas of strength where every serious lifter has to train at.
It's not really that important. Well, I shouldn't say that-it is for the people who let's just say are "extrinsically motivated." For these type of lifters, environment is very important. But that certainly isn't everyone. Granted, if you're going heavy and require spotters, obviously it helps to have experienced people around.
What is important is that your level of expectation is raised; you walk with people who limp, you too will limp. So it's not really the atmosphere as people see it (screaming, "intensity" or however you want to classify it) but the result of being around strong or stronger people.
And to learn from as well?
Sure. Let me put it this way: if you're a relative beginner, a good crew is very important. It would be great to be able to learn from people who have experience and can teach/coach that experience; even if it's not with words, but with actions. But I would rather have no crew than a bad crew any day of the week. And trust me, there are plenty of turds floating around the punch-bowl of training.
If you train raw: meaning no gear, no shirts, and walking all your lifts out, then you don't need anyone. I trained alone yesterday and had one of the best workouts that I've had in ages. Once you know what you're doing, it's just a matter of doing the work; being more about action than plastic.
In general, I think that people make too much of it, and I used to, as well. Now I hate cheerleaders. I don't need some asshole yelling at me to make a lift. I know what to do. But as I said before, if you know nothing about training it'd be good to have someone help guide you.
Are you saying you don't need to get slapped in the face before every set?
Listen, this is what I learned. When I was at the University of Arizona and Rob Waldrop, who was the Outland Trophy Winner (awarded to the best college football interior lineman), was squatting. This guy was insanely strong. That day he was squatting in the mid-600's for 7 or 8 reps, and he was just getting under the bar when some kid yells, "C'mon Rob, lets go man!"
Rob just stopped, turned around, and gave the guy this death glare, basically saying, "Would you please shut the f*ck up?" and the whole weight room got whisper quiet. Rob then just turned around, did his set, and got it done. That's when I realized that if the Outland trophy winner didn't need a bunch of cheerleaders then I didn't need them either.
But you don't think you could've reached a 1000-pound squat training on your own, do you?
No, to lift that kind of weight you do need some guidance, but really, most people aren't looking to do that. I've just noticed that people who don't train in hardcore gyms like Westside Barbell or Elite will often use that as an excuse for being mediocre. Screw that, you should embrace it. You're going to have to reach this goal on your own, and that's the greatest gift someone can give you-the freedom and ability to make it on your own. Total independence is the highest level a man can achieve; it's impossible and obviously if you reach this level, you will be really lonely. However the quest for this status, or rather when you adapt that attitude, your whole lift becomes easier and your relationships become better. It's very difficult to explain in an interview but is something my wife and I teach our kids.
Hill sprinting is like your go-to exercise, isn't it
If in doubt, squat and run hills. So you walk into the gym and don't know what to do? Then squat and run hills. Have a miserable day at work and want to break someone's neck but aren't sure who's? Then squat and run hills. it's kind of meathead-ish and stupid, but it's what I use to stay on track. I like to think of it as my meathead system of checks and balances. Regardless, it seems to work, for me.
One thing that I've learned since college is that you need to learn how to cruise. Look, I love living life intensely but you can't maintain that for a long period of time. There comes a time when you need to scale it back.
I've learned that when you experience something in your life that's fairly monumental and really knocks you on your ass, you gain perspective. Then, none of the other shit makes a difference. You need to learn to cruise and enjoy ever day as it comes.
Why would you sacrifice this one life that you have for just training? Everybody has their own set of gifts, and those things can develop or change over time. But if you're always on Blast mode in the gym, everything else just gets thrown to the side. Sometimes, you need to step back and take notice of other things; especially the people who've helped you the most, and matter the most.
Wherever you are, that's where you should be. So if you're at work, be at work. If you're at home, be at home. If you're with your buddy, be there for him.
In other words, don't constantly be thinking about training when you're at the park with your kid?
Exactly. If you have a bad day at the gym, don't take it out on your wife or your kid. They didn't have anything to do with it. It's a fucking squat. It's the most important thing when you are actually doing it; that's all that should matter when you have that bar on your back. But when you are at home or at work, it is no longer where you are. Very simple concept.