Hired Guns


Arthur Saxon performing a bent press.

Image via Wikipedia

Traditionally, I have turned to friends for mentoring and motivation (at least when the latter is not to be found in sufficient quantities internally). However, a couple of the generally-accepted bits of conventional wisdom when it comes to strength training is that, 1) you’re going to hit a plateau, 2) you need to be around people stronger than you, and 3) everything works for a while, but nothing works forever.

To mitigate all three of those things, and at the back-handed suggestion of the guy a mutual acquaintance and I call as “our Tall Friend,” I reached out to Josh Bryant, of JoshStrength.com.

Tall Friend:    I am somewhat scared of working with Josh Bryant.  He apparently is into psycho volume.
Rafe:    his focus is, what? strength or size?
TF:    Such as 70 working sets on bench day.
Rafe:    volume doesn’t scare me. i should probably do more *laugh*
TF:    Josh does “power building”.  Extreme size through intense strength
Rafe:    of course, turning down the intensity to reach that kind of volume in any reasonable amount of time is where i run into trouble
TF:    yup.  Mr Balls to the Walls.
Rafe:    that sounds like my style, though i’m not going for “extreme size.” i’d be satisfied with “you know, i should probably go back to wearing a large, because these mediums are just too fucking tight” (which, in the shoulders and arms, is beginning to happen)
TF:    Ditto.
TF:    Josh is also pretty inexpensive.  He quoted me $250 for 12 weeks (includes an initial diet consultation, and then weekly customized routines)
Rafe:    that… is my kind of financial ballpark.

I did say it was a very back-handed suggestion, but, really – how could I conceivably say no to “cheap and insane”? (Also, TF exaggerates; there were only thirty-eight working sets on my last bench workout (well, there were unofficially 42 the first week, because I inadvertently doubled up on two weights due to lack of familiarity with how he was describing the weight/set/rep breakdown).)

I have to say that, after a week plus one of following what Josh has laid out, I can definitely feel some changes. Curiously, my pullups have suffered; I’m hoping this is a temporary thing. On the upside, though, I feel stronger on just about everything else, and, in the right light, something that could potentially be construed as an ab or oblique is becoming visible.

One other benefit is that it’s cut down on my arbitrary fucking-around factor, though there is still a certain measure of that; I’m doing the pullup-pushup-lunge thing, where you add one rep each day as an add-on to whatever your regular workout is going to be; I’ve also exercised a group fitness class LivingSocial deal that will, when I’m not under a time crush, offer two or three days of cardio for a few weeks. This has resulted in more focus on the lifting I’m supposed to be doing, as well as changing up both the rep and set scheme (to keep me from going on autopilot) and adding new moves that I not only don’t usually do, but some I’d never heard of and had to look up to figure out what the fuck I’m supposed to be doing.

The upshot of all this is that, at the end of the twelve weeks, it will be just before my birthday (which will be celebrated by visiting Tall Friend, as well as meeting up with some of my other enablers fitness enthusiasts for a llama race in Colorado; I have every expectation of being, by almost any objective measure, in the best shape of my life.

Better late than never, I reckon.

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1 Comment

  1. Technically, I said the 70 sets for bench day were what Josh had someone else I know doing. I never said that is what he would give you.


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