If you are the strongest guy in the gym, LEAVE

Jeff Miller

          We all have seen that guy.  We know who he is.  The atmosphere in the building changes when he walks into the gym.  Some people talk smack under their breath about him.  Others make eye contact and shoot him an approving head nod.  According to some national gym franchises, women and children run for cover by the mere intimidation of his presence. As they cancel their memberships by the hundreds.  Younger lifters will actually stay after their workout is over just to see what feats of strength this man will do.  People give him nicknames like beast, animal, gorilla, monster, grizzly bear and tons more.

I know all this because for much of my life I was that guy.  As I walked into the gym the desk clerk would sing “Jeff Miller, Jeff Miller” like John Henry had arrived.  I was the animal who lifted the crazy weights.  I’d transform myself into a loud intense madman who looked at the weights as my enemies.  Those enemies were trying to stop me from where I needed to be.  I didn’t chit chat.  I didn’t take my headphones off.  I fed off of people’s weakness.  I used to love watching people miss their sets.  To me they missed because all the energy in that gym was drawn to one entity.  Me.  Anger, hate, rage, delusions of grandeur all fueled my training.  Over and over I would ask myself “Who’s the man? Who’s the man?”  I loved being the alpha dog in the yard.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing.  When you are 6’3 and almost 400 lbs. people are automatically intimidated by you.  Then, start breathing like a locomotive, talking to yourself and yelling out about shaking the ground and scaring villagers and some people flat out hate you.  I have had a ton of haters in my thirty one years of lifting weights.  My best friend of today even hated me at first.  He thought I acted like an idiot yelling and carrying on before my sets, when we first met.  Years later after training together and traveling to many meets together I guess we found common ground.  Now he is every bit as intense as I am and slightly crazier. Eventually he would stop training with me and start training with a group of bad ass powerlifting legends like Paul Childress, Joe Dougherty, Mike Wlosinski, Brooke Fineis and others.  His numbers shot through the roof.  While at this time, mine were actually struggling some.  I couldn’t figure it out really because we were on similar conjugate programs. Why was he getting so strong? I didn’t figure it out until I too switched gyms.

Was it the change of scenery that was the magic potion? Nope. I trained in commercial gyms, usually alone.   Then was it a new program, better supplements, diet or more sleep? None of that.  The missing link was hooking up with guys who blew my lifts away.  I wasn’t “The Man” anymore.  People didn’t kiss my butt when I walked in or sing songs about me.  They just out lifted me every training session and let me know about it.  I hated every second of it.  I don’t like losing.  It eats at me.  I’m hyper-competitive.  If you get 4 reps I’m getting 5 even if I have to tear my shoulder right off to do it.  So it motivated me to work that much harder not to be the low man on the totem pole.

Being internally motivated, I don’t need pep talks or a person in my ear to get me into the zone.  Talking trash is a totally different ballgame.  Now smack talking isn’t going to be very effective if it’s coming from some weak geek.  On the other hand, if it’s coming from a world champion who out benches you by two hundred pounds, it should definitely motivate you.  They aren’t going to be impressed with your lift.  They aren’t going to blow sunshine up your rear end.  They want to beat you just like you want to beat them.  Those are the best people to train with.  The type of guy who asks if you lost a little weight because your arms look really small.

Another plus about training with people who are better than you is the wealth of knowledge you now have access to.  Finding partners who understand the ins and outs of the iron game can be an invaluable tool for any lifter. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran of the gym.  The day you stop learning is the day you stop progressing.  That doesn’t mean to interrupt during training with a thousand questions. Most questions can be saved for after training, a text or DM.  I got some great advice once on the best way to get advice from a lifter you admire.  You ask if they want to grab a steak, your treat.  Explain you wanted to pick their brain on some things.  That shows you value their time and respect their opinion.

Are you the strongest guy in your gym?  Ask yourself if you want to keep on impressing the masses who don’t know any better?  Or do you want to get into a group of killers?  Do you want to use the motivation to pick them off one by one  until you are not only the strongest guy in the gym, but the strongest. Period.

 

 

MEET DAY FAQ

 

by Steve Decker

All In Personal Training

 

The following is a guide to navigating the day of a powerlifting meet. These are based on my own experiences competing for the last six years.  This is what currently works best for me. Bear in mind this is my own process and it is always evolving.

What do I eat on Meet Day?
What to eat the day of your meet largely depends on the lifter. There are many factors that will influence your meet day choices.   How your body reacts to different energy sources (fat and carbs), whether you can stomach different foods well or if you easily get bloated/gassy/diarrhea all influences your choices.  Also, how many flights/lifters are in the meet can determine how long a meet is and the duration between attempts.  The consistent factor is that you need to keep your energy levels up without going overboard and bloating up too much   You don’t want to poop yourself on the platform (sorry but it’s reality) or get lethargic from too much food to digest. The safest strategy is to try and eat as close to your normal diet as possible with an emphasis on more carbs than usual. Often a meet will run faster than usual.  Perhaps not allowing for you to sit down and eat/digest a meal of chicken and rice. This is where simple sugars (aka candy and pop tarts) may come into play. Every lifter is going to be different. Ultimately this is going to be something you experiment with on your own to perfect.
Steer clear of sugary drinks. I have used full sugar Gatorade more times in a meet than I care to admit. Literally every time I wish I hadn’t done so. Something about it just bloats the hell out of me.  In my experience, the extra carbs are just easier to eat than deal with that much bloating at this point. Sugar free sports drinks are great to keep hydrated, especially at a hot summertime meet.  Still, I try to just eat my carbs instead of drinking them.
In the event of an all particularly long meet, try to sit down between events and eat an actual meal.  Then lie right down and let it digest. You’ll have a good amount of energy without crashing this way.  It shouldn’t bother your stomach so long as you have sufficient time to digest. My best meet ever was Relentless Detroit last year.  While the meet took until night time to finish, I was able to sit down after both squatting and benching to have a real meal.  I had a sub for one and a plate of pasta and meatballs for the other.  Then I let it digest. I laid right down on the floor and relaxed for twenty to thirty minutes.
In the event of a smaller, faster paced meet, pop tarts can be a lifesaver. Try a package of pop tarts and a ready to drink (RTD) shake right after each event.  They will digest easily and give you enough energy to get back into the warmup room quickly.
Bring a gallon of plain water with you. At some point you’re going to want it one way or another.  Bring a second gallon jug and dump a zero sugar sports drink in, four scoops of amino acids, and ten grams of creatine monohydrate. Sip on this all day long even if you don’t feel thirsty. It will aid in recovering in-between attempts.  It will also keep you hydrated so you don’t cramp up.
Breakfast on the day of a meet can be tricky. On one hand, you don’t want to force feed yourself and then try to squat a personal record.  It might result in soiling your singlet.  On the other hand, you need a lot of calories to start a big day. I’m a big fan of a Belgian waffle with fruit on it and an omelet. This provides a good mix of enough calories without creating an issue. Pancakes are a great choice if you’re not a fan of six pack abs.
Take it easy on the pre-workout. Slamming scoop after scoop all day will just burn you right out.  You will feel dead by the time you pull no matter how many scoops you take. You should be well rested and amped up enough to squat on a cup or two of coffee. A midlevel caffeinated energy drink can work, as well.  Are you the kind of person that needs three hundred mg of caffeine to just get going for the day?  It may be time to work on lowering your daily stimulant intake to help your body re-sensitize. More is not always the answer.  Eventually you could end up needing to blow lines off of your thumb on the way to the squat bar.  Not really, but you get what I’m saying.   If I do use any pre-workout during a meet, it’ll be during deadlift warmups when all else is exhausted.

How Do I Stay Focused During a Meet?
Again, this is largely an individual thing. Some lifters will sit and watch the meet until it’s their time to warmup and lift. Some will sit around and laugh and joke with their crew. Some will find a corner to hide in. Again, I’ll tell you my preferences, and you can see if they work for you.
Staying focused at a meet, in my world, can be challenging because of my position as a coach. Every meet I go to I wind up handing off, wrapping knees, loading bars, spotting, running the computer and everything in between. I love this part of my job. I’m happy to help everyone that I’m able to.  However, if I am competing, this is too draining on me and my performance suffers.  I have learned after 6 years to be a little selfish and hide away so that I’m not worn out before I even lift a weight.  I also don’t really like to watch the meet because usually there are people in the meet that I get emotionally invested in.  I wind up getting all amped up and coming down too many times. Also, I really don’t need to see someone dump a squat or hurt them self before I take a heavy attempt. This is not good for the mental state. This may sound selfish, and maybe it is, but I think I do a lot for the lifters at the meets I’m not in.  So I feel like a little balance in that department is ok.
In a perfect world, I will find a quiet spot away from the excitement and just relax with my handlers.  Often I go off by myself for a while and just think of nothing at all. The visualization thing doesn’t really work for me.  I find that as close to a blank slate as I can get works best. I’ll sit and stare off or talk to my girlfriend or handlers a bit, but stay as low key as possible. I really don’t want to talk much or visit with people.  I just want to be. I love everyone who comes out to support me and cheer me on.  I’m down for a burger and a glass of scotch after the work is done, but if I’m about to lift it’s time to focus on that. Being amped up, pacing around, ready to stack bodies & listening to death metal all day is a great way to burn out before you even start. It can be annoying to your handler. Sit down and save your energy at every given opportunity. When the time comes to warm up and hit the platform you should be ready to dial it up and go hard. Not be ready for a nap.

How Do I Time My Warmups, and Work Around Other Lifters?
This can be tricky.  As easy as it SHOULD be, it’s usually the worst part of a meet. Most Raw lifters really shouldn’t need much more time to warm up than the flight before them. If you have a respectable level of conditioning, you shouldn’t need five minutes between sub-maximal singles in a warmup room.  If you do, your training needs to be evaluated.  Honestly unless you’re warming up into world class numbers, that’s ridiculous.  If you’re competing then you’re an athlete, treat yourself as such. Do some cardio.
Many warmup rooms can turn into a shit show unless there are a couple of very well versed crews running them. Powerlifters can be the biggest Prim a Donnas ever, if left to their own devices.  In the event that some jackweed is trying to make a spectacle of him/herself then just switch racks if possible. , This will save you a headache and blood pressure spike.  At a meet a few years ago, there was some idiot in my flight that was going out of his way to SLAM the bar back into the monolift hooks after every warmup. Thinking the noise would alert everyone in the building that he had the biggest balls in the room. I really can’t overstate how ridiculous and dramatic this was. We watched it from the bar up to the low 600s, waiting for the inevitable.  So, here I am waiting for my last warmup. I’m in full suit, straps up, knees wrapped ready to go.  Then this dingleberry goes for the big slam. As he’s descending into the hooks, with the fury of a thousand suns, one side misses entirely and six hundred plus pounds goes catapulting into oblivion, almost removing my handler’s foot. This is exactly the person you want to avoid.
At a big meet, you’ll often find each rack being loaded and organized by a crew of people that obviously train together and know what needs to be done. They’ll call out bar weights, enforce an order to some degree, be mindful of the time and people wrapping etc.  Do yourself a favor and stick with them. Or better yet, BRING them. Our sport needs more of that.
In any event, know ahead of time what your warmups should be. Make them feasible in reality and try to stick to some semblance of an intelligent rack choice. You shouldn’t be loading eight hundred pounds on a bar then stripping it to one hundred sixty two point five for some goofball using a calculator to take exactly 67.4598% of their projected three rep max. Take a plate or quarter jump.  For smaller lifters use quarters and dimes. A huge pet peeve of mine is using two and a half pound plates in a warmup room.  If that’s going to make or break your opener, it may be time to rethink some things.  Make it easy and efficient on everyone. This may be a time when you (or, preferably, your handlers) need to get a little assertive (or aggressive). You don’t need to be rude, but you DO have to be ready when your name is called. Your need and right to warm up is no different than that of a new lifter using just the bar, nor a world record holding monster.  Get in the mix and get your stuff done. Everyone paid the same entry fee.
If you’re lifting close to the beginning of the flight, try to finish up your last warmup toward the beginning of third attempts in the previous flight.  Usually five to seven minutes early if you’re in the first flight.  Then you can do a nervous pee, sit and rest a bit before you hit the platform. Seriously, you’re going to have to pee. If you’re toward the end of your flight, finish up right around the beginning of your flight or the end of third attempts of the previous one.
On another note: the lifters should NOT be loading bars. At all.  Every meet has forty three people standing around pretending to be important.  They need to sack up and actually do something useful instead of standing there trying to look big. They should be loading the bars, adjusting the racks, spotting, etc.
A raw lifter doesn’t need more than one handler in the staging area. You just don’t. One person to wrap and keep an eye on the flight is sufficient. There are few things more annoying than having to elbow three unnecessary hype guys out of the way to wrap a knee or walk to the platform. I really don’t care if you’re breaking a state record, doing your first meet, or about to take the ATWR.  The staging area is for lifters and their ONE handler. Your wife, videographer, mom, the local newscaster and former college roommate can all watch the lift from the seating area. So, if you’re THAT person standing around holding an ammonia cap or a wrist wrap just so you can feel important backstage, please give it a rest. Geared lifters may need a couple people for a three person bench handoff in warmups or on the platform.  Even then, extra people do not need to be standing around in the middle of the aisle blocking lifters from approaching the bar, etc.

DO NOT SHOW UP TO A MEET ALONE.

You need a handler. I don’t care if you train alone. You need a handoff on the bench.  Then you should have help running to get your drink, your wraps, your belt, load your plates, wrap your knees, pretty much everything but wiping your backside.  A good handler should be letting you rest and not worry about anything but lifting the barbell.  If you don’t have a training crew that will do this for you, find one, hire someone or train a stranger. Just stop showing up to a meet with no help. This leads to one of several things: you wind up stealing someone else’s handler who then is running ragged and not helping anyone enough.  You screw everything up because you don’t know what you’re doing at all.   Then you don’t enjoy the day or you are exhausted and leave pounds on the platform. None are good. One note for the people in the back: BRING A GOOD HANDLER TO YOUR MEET!!  Let them help you as much as possible. Buy them a burger and a beer for the effort, but make them earn it!

In conclusion, these are the things that through trial and error have led to success on the platform for not only me personally but the athletes I train.  Over time you will find what works and doesn’t work to triumph at your powerlifting meets.

 

For Coaching & Programming Inquiries

Steve Decker

All In Personal Training

(716)481-8443

Stevendecker@AIM.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gym

I have been fairly quiet the past few months, meaning anything you have seen online from me is tied to the ever evolving life I am building AROUND my training, not letting my entire existence be defined by my training.

But what that has done, is prevent me from sharing ideas that I haven’t tested. I have been doing the work. I train every single day, many workouts have made little to no sense on paper, but they feel like they have been the best in reality. I have been delving into my past and contacting old training partners, and having them rehash some old stories with me. I believe that I have trained with some very incredible people, many that preceded the Internet in there lifting greatness.

There were several gyms that we came to know as “THE GYM” in my town. you had Sipple’s in the early to mid 80’s, then Total Fitness, then Powerhouse, then Total Fitness, then Richmond Athletic Center, then Total Fitness. The gym may have changed over and over, but in this small town of 10,000-15,000 (thats a stretch) people you could walk into these gyms and see routinely 400, and 500 lbs bench presses, 400, 500, and 600 pound squats for reps, buried ass to grass, wearing a Wal-Mart lifting belt, deadlifts for 500, 600, for reps, and the occassional 700 lbs single.

How did this happen? Most of this was done, prior to the internet explosion, prior to anyone knowing what the hell “pelvic tilt” was, and most of these guys looked like in shape bodybuilders. Well, as one guy put it “we were too stupid not to get better.” These guys didn’t have a million resources to pull from, and they most certainly didnt have the latest and greatest training knowledge. Sound familiar? I quit listening to all that was being put out and just reinvented my relationship with the iron. I stopped allowing myself to see myself as an “expert” and started back doing what built my desire in the first place. I worked hard, and i built progression into each workout from the last. Simple. What they had, that I proudly tout as my own gifts, was heart, drive, and pride.

I remember on numerous occassions seeing a training partner of mine bench 315 for 25 reps on say a Tuesday, someone would come in running their mouth about how they could beat it, and he’d lay down cold and do his best, and my partner would also lay down cold and rep out 27, or 28.

I remember one time our workout was “Hack Squats for an hour”. We just hammered rep after body and mind numbing rep for an hour. Does this fit into any book of methods? Or reason? No. But, you know what it does accomplish? One, I think it built a tremendous base of muscle and strength in my body. Two, it removes your “quit button”. You know the guy you see in the gym that has some reason to quit during workouts? EVERYTIME? I wouldn’t have been allowed back in the gym had I quit.

So what the hell happened? My gym experience mirrors life. Kids now are increasingly disconnected from physical effort. I watched two of the best state football teams last fall, and aside from a couple of standouts, the rest looked they don’t know Muscle or efforts address. The majority of young lifters that I talk to online want huge results with minimal effort. Parents have allowed their kids to be weak, and they expect them to succeed in this life? Anyway without further rambling keep checking back, as I will be reviving my gym past through guys I used to train with, and I am sure some of the stories will inspire you, cause disbelief, and probably make you wish you had trained harder, but that’s the point.

11/6/18

Biceps

DB Curls

40 x 12 x 2

45 x 10 x 2

Standing Preacher Bar Curls

125 x 15 x 4

Seated Concentration Curls

45 x 12 x 4

Seated Incline Skullcrushers

125 x 15 x 5

Cable Pushdowns

100 reps

Single Arm DB Press

45 x Failure x 4 sets

Thats it for today. This was my second arm workout of the week. One is a bit heavier, and the other more for a pump.

11/7/18

Competition Bench

Warm Ups

275 x 6 x 4 sets

295 x 3 x 3 sets

315 x 3 x 2 sets

335 x 2

Close Grip

245 x 21

275 x 16

Tricep DB French Press

45 x 20 x 4 sets

Incline DB Press

100 x 15 x 3 sets

Tricep Pressdowns

100 reps

Lat Pulldowns

100 reps

11/8/18

For those of you wondering about my Knee Rehab there is nothing fancy to it. I warm up walking on the treadmill, or Eliptical this is usually 5-10 minutes to warm the joint. Stationary Bike x 15 minutes varying the seat height to change the movement of the knee.

Leg Press 135 x 10 x 5 sets, 185 x 10 x 5 sets, 225 x 1 set to failure

Step Ups x 20 x 4 sets

Squats

275 x 20 x 4 sets

Forward Leans (Partial Lunge Movement) x 10 x 3

RDL’s x 10 x 4 sets

11/1/18

Training has been on a positive upswing. Weights are moving well, and body is responding well. I was at Sorinex HQ last Monday, and Tuesday to lift at the SQUATOBER PR PARTY, and also to record some podcasts. All in all it’s always a great time at HQ. There were lots of people coming in to lift so I got to enjoy the process of helping others, and just observing intensity in its purest form.

When it came time for me to squat I was happy to squat beside Bert Sorin, and Tony Sentmanat (@realworldtactical). Both guys have become good friends of mine, and any time I get to lift with them it’s a bonus.

Squats

Bar x 8

135 x 8

225 x 6

275 x 5

315 x 5

365 x 3

405 x 2

455 x 2

500 x 1

510 x 1

Jx Squat (Jammer Arm, Belt Squat)

300 x 12 x 3 sets

Chest Supported Row

3 x 10

GHD

3 x 12

Lilly Shrugs

3 x 10

Core Work

Row

12 cal x 10 rounds

I also lost two people in my life that motivated me to be better. Konstantin Konstantinovs, and Chaz Cable. I will reflect more on this later.

10/26

After a hectic day of travel, a late night working in my hotel room, I made my way over to meet Matt Vincent, and the team from Muscle Monster. The goal of the day was to get some great footage of us training, and getting photos showcasing the Muscle Monster Line.

On a typical day like this training is not gonna be on the teams mind, so long days often turn into missed training opportunities. Not yesterday. I was able to get my training in, do so as I would normally, and the film team worked around that. I had a great workout…

Warm Up

Assault Bike

:30 sprint/:30 pace x 10 rounds

KB Swings x 3 sets x 12

KB One Arm Press x 3 sets x 12

Band Face Pulls 100 Reps

Yoga Stretches (4 poses I utilize to open my back muscles, my knees, hips, and hamstrings) I will discuss these more in depth later.

Squats

Warm Up Sets

405 x 8 reps x 5 sets

Bench Press

Warm Up Sets

315 x 8 reps x 5 sets

Dead Lifts

495 x 6 x 5 sets

Med Ball Slams

24 lbs x 12 x 3 sets

Strict Press

135 x 5 x 4 sets

Ring Work

It doesn’t look like a whole lot, but it was enough to get me breathing, and sweating pretty hard. California is much warmer than back home in Kentucky so I hadn’t really adapted to the heat. The reward for such a workout was In n’ Out. Getting those delicious burgers when I’m out West is a must. Beyond the training, the food, it was time for a nap.

As for the night, I had some really amazing Curry, and ended up in a Dive Bar listening to 4 bands. It was right off the water in San Diego, and the atmosphere was one of the best I’ve been in for music. Just really great people, having a great time. I got in bed just after 1am, but I was able to sleep until 9:17, so I got my sleep, had great food, a great time, and some awesome memories.

10/25/18

Training has been a struggle. I hate admitting that, but it’s absolutely been one of the most difficult challenges of my life to do what I’ve needed to actually heal. Heal as an athlete, heal as a man. For 15 years, training was my constant. I was able to forget everything, even when that meant self destruction in my personal life, to pour myself into the gym.

The roller coaster of injury, emotions, and pushing to be who people wanted me to be took its toll. I ended up a huge, strong, lifter but that shelled the struggling, insecure boy that never figured out what went wrong.

I’ll cover more on that in the coming blogs, and I apologize for starting, then changing direction, but as I type I realize that perfectly mirrors the last five years of my life. But if you care, and I assume you at least have some interest in my story if you’re reading this, but I hope this isn’t a medium that you use to put me on some type of pedestal. I hope you read this and somehow translate my mistakes, my triumphs, and use them to improve your life.

I want to share myself, but I don’t want a “look at me” over the top approach. To be honest I despise that in the sport I love. We all desire to be liked, and valued, but it seems to me that the sports of strength are no longer drawing in the masses so that they can attain paramount strength. The sport is growing, and it’s trendy, so people are finding ways to overcome the lack of platform performance with other means. “T&A” are the flavor of the day, and if that’s what you’re looking for here then you can stop now.

I love the gym, strength, and the feeling of seeing lifters overcome the bar. Watching a lifter that balances job, family, self, and the gym should be admired, and that’s what I’m interested in myself. Balance, but also adhering to my mentality expressed in my book “365STRONG” that we are only as strong as our weakest link, on our weakest day. Formerly that was all geared toward the gym, now I apply it to my life.

Here I will talk about my travels, my failures, my climbs. I will talk about the gym because it’s a part of my day to day, but I will talk about so much more. Because that’s who I am… I’m more than what you think, or expect, and I’m probably not what you think or expect. So this sets up an interesting dynamic. You will understand in time, just as I will too…

For now, training this morning was at 2:30am. I got 3.5 hours of sleep (horrible, but it was good sleep) and I am currently typing this as I sit on a runway, on a too old plane, beside a too old lady, that smells overwhelmingly like some mix of cigarettes, and an everything bagel. Exciting times.

I’m headed to San Diego to meet up with Matt Vincent, and some others on the Monster Energy Team of athletes. Should be a great weekend. But now:

Tabata is:

20 seconds work

10 seconds rest

8 rounds

4 minutes total

Round One

Two Handed Center Mass Bell (CMB) Swing

70lbs

Round Two

One Handed Clean CMB Switch every 30 Secs

45lbs

Round Three

Push Press

50lbs

Round Four

Snatch

50lbs

Row

Max Distance in 20 secs