25 Lessons From My 25 Years in The Iron Game, Part II

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

If you missed Part I, where the hell were ya?

And what’s your excuse?

Check it out HERE then rejoin the rest of us back on this page.

We’ll wait and try to figure out exactly what exercise this girl is attempting.

While we’ve got some time to kill I should mention that my babysitter did NOT look like Elizabeth Shue.

Nor has she aged as well, which was evident when we reunited for the remake of Dirty Dancing not too long ago.

Anyway… Everyone all caught up?

Cool, let’s roll.

14) Low Rest Periods Rule

Years ago I bought into the whole notion that you need to rest 3-5 minutes when training for power or maximal strength. But after years of experimenting on all my guys I found that it doesn’t make a huge difference. My buddy and downstairs neighbor, Chad Waterbury has spent countless hours studying the nervous system and believes this is one of the most flawed ideas in all of strength training.

One time, limit strength is rarely the deciding factor in any physical endeavor other than a lifting contest. The ability to display strength repeatedly and in a fatigued state is actually far more important. Low rest periods train you for just that. They also keep your training weights in a safer range. Sitting down and cooling off for five minutes between sets of squats doesn’t sound that safe to me.

If you ever watched any of the Westside videos you’ll notice the strongest guys in the world moving quite rapidly through their workouts.

The other advantage of lower rest intervals is that they’ll lead to better body composition changes.

15) Most Exercises with Straight Bars Beat You Up

A straight bar puts you in an unnatural position on most upper body exercises and is more stressful to the wrists, elbows and shoulders than a neutral or angled grip bar. If you have access to something else sub it in.

Squatting with a straight bar is fine for smaller dudes with great shoulder mobility but can be hell on the shoulders of others. If you have a Buffalo bar use one. If not, a safety bar is another great option.

If you’re gonna compete in power or Olympic lifting that’s one thing, but if you don’t there’s no reason to live by their rules.

16) Lower Back Endurance is More Important Than Strength

When it comes to staying healthy, that is. Focus on high reps and long time under tension when doing exercises like back raises, reverse hypers and swings.

17) You Should Do Something Physical Every Day

Humans are made to move. You should do something physical every day for at least thirty minutes. This could be strength training, conditioning, mobility work, whatever; just do like Ludacris advised and “move, bitch.”

Years ago I used to mindlessly repeat the old hardgainer mantra, “Don’t run when you can walk, don’t walk when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lie down.” Talk about an unhealthy way to look at your training.

If you can’t make gains on more than two hours of training per week something is seriously wrong.

Marketing guys advised us all long ago that you should always tell people that they can get in great shape with minimal training time.

You can’t.

Everybody can find 15-30 minutes to spare if they look hard enough.

Besides, like Henry Rollins said…

Training is the best anti-depressant there is.

18) Most People Lack Ankle Mobility

That’s often why you can’t squat properly. Sometimes you think it’s tightness or weakness elsewhere when it’s really a lack of ankle mobility. Work on it regularly. Also be sure to stretch the shit out of your calves while you’re at it.

19) You Have to Cycle Your Loads

You can’t sleep with the same girl every day and… wait, wrong type of loads.

What I meant to say was that an obsession with constantly going heavy will eventually destroy you. When you see old time lifters who overdid the heavy weights and big exercises you see people who are beat to shit. They don’t move well, their joints are ruined and they live in constant pain from age fifty on. As a result their workouts are limited to ultra light weights and machine circuits.

Don’t be one of these guys. Limit and cycle the heavy lifting intelligently. It’s great for developing maximal strength and should be included for that goal. But you need to spend at least an equal amount of time on less destructive exercises like glute ham raises and inverted rows as well.

20) Maintain the Squat, Train the Deadlift

This is a direct quote from Gray Cook. The point is that to be healthy you should maintain the ability to do a full squat. It’s the position you were born in and the position that many inhabitants of this great planet still poop in. If you have lost the ability to do it then something aint right. So you need to maintain it but you might not necessarily need to load it heavily.

Dan John has mentioned that goblet squats might be all the average person needs and I tend to agree. Not if you want to be huge and strong, of course, but for general health purposes.

For real world strength development it might not always be necessary to put a heavy bar on your back but you can’t replace picking up something heavy. That should be trained.

21) Almost Everyone Sits Too Much

As a result they have chronically tight hip flexors (often mistaken for tight hamstrings) and weak, underdeveloped glutes. Physical therapist Kelly Starrett humorously noted that, “Your ass is not a load bearing surface.”

If you work on a computer all day get a standing desk and perform some hip mobility drills here and there while you’re working. Sure, this will draw strange looks from coworkers but you can laugh at them in another few decades when they’re in their rockers and you’re bustin’ moves like Scoob and Scrap (props to those who got that reference).

If you have to sit, don’t remain still for too long. According to leading spine researcher, Dr. Stuart McGill, the best sitting position is one that is always changing.  So be sure to move around often when you do have to be parked in a chair.

If you sit a lot be sure to get up and stretch the hip flexors on the regular.

22) The Deadlift Should Usually be Trained With 60-80% of 1RM

Going heavier than this really puts the kybosh on your recovery ability. Throughout Iron Game history countless dudes have gotten incredibly strong pulling submaximal weights. Lighter loads allow you to recover faster and, as a result, use more volume and frequency on the exercise.

I shouldn’t have to mention this but if you were going to compete in powerlifting you’d want to pull some heavier singles in the 90% and above range. Westsiders and badasses like Mark Bell and his SuperTraining team pull above 80% more often, but for the average dude I strongly prefer lower weights.

23) Everyone Should Do Some Single Leg Training

Squats are obviously the best thing you can do for building bigger thighs, but we can all benefit from the inclusion of some unilateral exercises. They help with balance, injury prevention, mobility and strengthening of stabilizers muscles. Plus they allow you to get some volume in without loading the spine.

24) Most of the Accepted Rules About “Hardgainers” Are Wrong

Even though I once believed them, as many still do. True hardgainers are actually the ones who won’t get their best results on a steady diet of nothing but compound exercises, can’t go on a “see food” diet and need to do a decent amount of conditioning. They also need to do more training than they think. I will have a lot more to say about this in a future post. That’s all for now.

25) Having a Support Group Can Make All the Difference

No one who is successful in any endeavor goes it alone. You need a team of partners and mentors. That, along with trying to help those who suffer information overload in The Age of Distraction, is the main reason I started The Renegade Inner Circle. Because I know that, through our coaching group, we can help guys get laser focused and achieve far better results than they ever could out there on their own. Most of the members would tell you the same. Having that support team and a group of brothers to travel this path with makes reaching your goals significantly easier.

If you want to see what I’m talking about join us today and be prepared to take your training to next level.

Thanks for reading.

Drop a comment below and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.