January 31, 2011

Benbata is an ancient method of getting yoked/gacked/yammed out, utilized by only the noblest of strength enthusiasts of the most exclusive strength training clans.  The secrets of Benbata have been handed down from generation to generation only to a select few factions who are still considered followers of this system.  I alone have unlocked the secrets of this lost art and for the benefit of science and will shed light unto Benbata’s forbidden past.

But first, a few facts about Benbata history and hard science:

-Benbata was 1st practiced by King Benbata of the Sumerian Civilization sometime around 5000BC.

-Famous athletes/heroes who’ve been known to practice Benbata include such celebrities as: Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and Galactus, Eater of Worlds.

-Recent studies suggest that Benbata is the quickest, most efficient method of catching a pump so you can look jacked in your V-neck on a Saturday night.

Galactus uses Benbata to look yoked in his V-neck.

How to properly perform a Benbata:

1)      Exercise vigorously.  This is to adequately “prime” your energy pathways for a proper Benbata, which takes place at the end of your workout.  Your primary outlet for getting jacked should be utilized first.  If you’re an Olympic lifter, lift.  If you’re a kettlebeller, swing away.  If you’re a crossfitter, shoot your WOD.

2)      Choose an exercise.  Push presses or lat pull-downs look awesome.  Weights should be between 40-60% of your max to ensure that you can get maximally yammed.

3)      Perform until volitional fatigue.  (20+? 30+? 50+ reps??!!)  Loud, exaggerated grunts or catchphrases such as “OH YEAH!” can and should be executed at the completion of each rep.  Advanced Benbata practitioners will often pronounce full sentences uttered between reps. Example: “Are . . . you . . . fucking . . . seeing . . . this . . . So . . . fucking  . . . jacked!” Full body movement is encouraged to increase dynamic power output.  Example: Feet can be alternated during split of push jerk to make more awesome.

4)      1 to 2 exercises.  Boom.  Done.  You just got jacked in less than 10 minutes.

(I would have provided a video of myself doing a benbata set but I did not feel like looking like a total idiot on the internet.)

also, I DID NOT DRAW THIS.  But I was cruising for pics of the Epic, Gilgamesh to add to the silliness of this post when I saw this pic on an art website. I dig it.

I dig this. I have no idea who did it.


Front squats: last 5×5 day.  157kg.  went up a LOT easier than 2 weeks ago.

Hang snatch:  these looked pretty slow and soft.  We started saying that they looked “half-mast” or “50-50.”  Went up to 110kg. for some singles.

(Press 50kg.x10/hanging leg raisex15)x4


-Beat the fire temple.

-Clean and jerk:  took a solid 140 and then clarked 150.  Go figure.

-Did some pull-ups and then sat down to watch the rest of the Ironmind vid that was playing.  China training hall ’95.  Classic.

Ocarina of Front Squats.

January 28, 2011

As I laid there on the couch, shivering, slipping in and out of fitful sleep, overcome by fever, I reflected on the series of disappointments that this week shaped up to be.  This week was to be week 2 of my heavy 5×5 weeks for my Front Squat routine.  I was also planning on competing in a local meet this weekend, the Friendly City Open, in Sonoma.  But having come down with a 103 degree fever on Tuesday, I knew this would be impossible as I could barely move.  My appetite went down to essentially nothing.  I’ve been surviving on soup and orange juice.  It is no surprise that I woke up at a pitiful 227lbs today and could barely stomach the steak salad that I had 4 hours ago.

So, after e-mailing my professors, bosses and clients the news of my plague, I did what any kid does when he’s home sick: play Legend of Zelda.  About 16 hours into the game, I realized something:  Link’s got it all figured out.  He carries with him a deep, unwavering sense of purpose.  Link is hacked at, shot at, burned, smashed, tricked, bitten, etc. but despite all this continues his quest no matter what.  I realized that I gotta play weightlifting like I play Zelda.

(The true nerds will recognize this song from a movie.)

Link faces disappointments on the regular.  When he gets knocked down, he get’s back on his feet, drinks some Lon Lon milk and gets back in the fight.  Because it’s never game over until you get frustrated and throw your controller at the console. Boom.  Video game analogies.  Fuckin’ smart.

That being said, I’m going to drive over to the gym and max clean and jerk 60kg.


HA! Didn’t even make it to 60.  But I did snatch the piss out of 50.

School of Champions.

January 25, 2011

The 1st time I ever saw School of Champions was when I traveled to San Ramon to train with the California Strength guys.  We were taking a break between lifting sessions and Jon wanted me to see it.  “We only watch one movie around here, bro.”  (This wasn’t completely true, because he had to take Gone in 60 Seconds out of the DVD player before we could begin watching.)  It begins, fittingly so, at an international weightlifting meet, setting the scene as the Bulgarians sweep the competition.  But the really interesting stuff happens later, when we get to see the brutal training that this team must endure.

Anyways, Last week a local coach walked into Midtown Strength and Conditioning and dropped off his vast collection of weightlifting videos (and I do mean VIDEOS) for us to watch as we train.  You can imagine my delight after diving into the cardboard box and finding this particular gem along with approximately HELLA Ironmind vids, world championships, and Olympics all on VHS.

Here’s a link to School of Champions streamed online.  I’ve watched it twice today . . . on VHS, suckuh!

Here’s a couple sketches I drew of Ivan Abadjeiv.  Totally doesn’t look like him.  Whatever.

Get adapted.

Get "3rd world yoked."


-Power Snatch-kept it light because I was feeling shitty.  Hit like 5 or so singles at 90kg.

-Power clean and jerk-took it up to 140kg. for a couple singles, which is surprising because of how shitty I was feeling.

-Jerked 170kg. from the rack just for funzies.

I think I’m coming down with the flu or something, which is comical because at 1st I thought it was overtraining.  I was like, “Ben, you foool!!!”  But no, its just the flu.  If I feel worse tomorrow, I may need to take the rest of the week off. Maybe.

ALSO.  Check out the new shirt on! Why? Cuz I drew that sheeeiit.  Whachu know ’bout advertising!!??

Jim Gets It.

January 24, 2011

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to Jim Schmitz on his thoughts about weightlifting or have ever listened to him tell stories of weightlifting in it’s golden age, you realize that Coach Schmitz has it all figured out.  My adivice: Go to/lift in a PWA meet.  Talk to Jim.  Shake his hand and go meditate on whatever you two talk about.  Here’s a link to an article he wrote for Ironmind about “heavy Saturdays” (one of my favorite parts about lifting weights).

Also, check out this guy.

I don’t know what’s more impressive, the extension on his pull, or his mustache.


Front Squat: 5×5 at 152.2kg/335lbs.

Clean and jerk: took a single at 140kg.


-Snatch: worked up to 125kg. for a single

-Clean and Jerk: worked up to 143kg. for a single.  Took an attempt at 166kg. and missed.

In other news, I sat down for the better part of 6 hours attempting to do some sketching yesterday.  I guess it’s not something that can be forced.  But, I’m hopeful that I’ll come back to it soon.

The Gambler.

January 17, 2011

Saturday morning.  10 AM.  I just took my 2nd Snatch warm-up set at 90kg.  As I stand up out of the hole, I hear a small pop and my lower back seizes up.  I’m sitting down for the next 20 minutes.  No biggie, that happens every few months or so.  Sometimes I’m lucky and I’ll be able to finish up the workout, sometimes not so lucky.

Today is supposed to be my last “Best set of 5 day” in my front squat program.  On top of that, my dad and I are supposed to completely take down the garage today.  It is at this point, that the best course of action is to take a deep breath and say to yourself, “buddy, you just aren’t that elite.”

You’ve worked through a taxing 3 weeks of pretty heavy volume, and your dad needs you to at least be mobile for the next 5 hours for some (what I would classify as) heavy manual labor.  So no, it’s not the end of the world that you miss today’s workout.  Your body is going to be working hard enough as it is for the next 5 to 8 hours, and you just aren’t special enough to not have to worry about normal, everyday life stuff.  Besides, it’s too early in the year to try to work through something and wind up getting injured.  “Gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”

True to form, I pull up to my driveway only to find that my dad, despite being scheduled to have hip surgery in a few weeks, has already taken off three quarters of the roof by himself.  No discussion necessary, I throw on my jeans and boots and join the rest of my family in our weekend project.  Admittedly, destroying things with your family members isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon.  That evening I rewarded myself with a shot, a beer, a few spins of the latest Deerhunter record, and pizza.

This picture actually counts as my art picture of the day, because I drew the picture on the T-shirt

functional metabolic conditioning.

Monday AM

-Clean and jerk- took it up to 142kg for a couple singles

-F. squat-5×5 at 167kg./365lbs.  Missed my last rep on my 5th set.  I was still pleased though.

-benbata workout (to be explained at a later date.)

(I’m debating only doing 4-6 workouts this week instead of 8-10.  We’ll see.)

In other news . . .

After I went on that rant last week about words like “functional” and “metabolic,” Will sent me an e-mail.  Attached was a video with the only text reading, “functional core stability.”

Goddammit Will, you know that shit is funny to me.

Top 5.

January 14, 2011

Top 5 most overused/frustrating fitness terms of 2010.

1) functional. (This has become a catch-all term used to illustrate how much better an exercise is than those similar to it.  “Oh, but it’s more functional.”)

2) metabolic.  (Ambiguous. Used to describe extremely normal conditioning workouts)

3) power output.  (Makes trainers sound more “sciency” which people like nowadays.)

4) core. (Ambiguous. Open up an academic anatomy book and try to locate your core.)

5) elite. (If everyone is special, than no one is special. I will be the 1st one to say that I’m just not that special.)

To Illustrate my distaste for these words, I try to say them as much as possible when least appropriate (which basically makes me an asshole).  It is best to try to link as many of them together as you can.


“Bro, those heaving bicep curls I just did are twice as functional because with the extra hip thrust, I could better engage my core, thus increasing my power output.”

“Bro, that’s so elite.”

You can even freestyle and mix and match the beginnings and ends of the words to create even smarter fitness terms.


“functional power output.”

“funabolic or powerbolic”


Cleans x2: worked up to 152kg. and then took a few downsets.  Felt surprisingly good after those god awful 5×5 front squats at 150 yesterday.

-I then proceeded to get huge on some chin-ups, lat pull downs and some funabolic core exercises


-Snatch deadlifts: 3×3 at 140

-More pull-ups, chin-ups and other nonsense

No sketches today.  Not enough time in the day.

Front Squat Hangover.

January 13, 2011

Everyone knows that the  best way to cure a hangover is a big ass breakfast followed by more booze.  The same principle applies to front squats.  Boom.

Thats why today we have a special cooking segment from my good friend and training partner, Will.  I’ve entitled it, “Get Huge Cooking with Will.” So smart.  Hopefully he will be providing more of these in the future because for some reason I found these hilarious.


Finished product.

“Got the vegetables right where they belong.”

Will is going to be leaving to go back to college soon, so in the spirit of selfish thought I will be losing my most consistent training partner.  But in all seriousness,  I am thankful that such a driven and inspired young individual has no problem hanging out with a degenerate burnout like myself and I wish him luck in his academic and career endeavors.  He may be e-mailing me content for this site while he is away as well as keeping us updated with his training progress.


5×5 front squat day at 145 or 150kg.  I haven’t decided yet.  And most likely (especially if Will is there) I will be doing an unnecessary amount of swollpertrophy training after (pressing movements most likely).


Breakfast. Wake up.

January 10, 2011


-2x power clean, 1x jerk:  worked up to 2 sets at 125kg.  Took a few attempts at 135.  No go.

-Jerks from the rack: worked up to a single at 175kg./385lbs.

-pull ups, double unders and other nonsense

Then I ate this . . .



Stop hating.

“Breakfast ‘aint breakfast without a big ass omelete.  Am I right, hater?”

Contains: 3 eggs, 2 egg whites, ground beef, green bell peppers, red onion, olives, artichoke hearts, with 2 kinds of sliced cheese and ketchup. Tall glass of milk? Check.  And yeah, thats a half eaten chocolate cake in the background.

It’s cool.  I take fish oil.


Yet to be done.  I guarantee it won’t be much because I am pretty busy with running classes the rest of the day and I want to save my legs for my last idiotic day of 10×10 squats.

Oh yes, the picture of the day.

Snatch. Boom.


Best Set of 5.

January 8, 2011

PR: Got 375lbs/170kg. for a set of 5.

1 more week of heavy volume before I start to settle down a bit.  I’ll write more about it later after this weekend.


Snatch: worked up to 120kg. for a single

F. Squat: 170kg 1×5

RDLs: 140kg. 3×6

Got huge.

Then I ate my recovery meal.


I take nutrition very seriously.

What you’re looking at is a bed of Spanish rice, mom’s chicken enchilada, and 3 eggs.  (Not pictured: glass of milk).  I’ve actually been losing weight which is a telltale sign of over-training (More volume means more calories needed, duh!).


-Clean and jerks: I was feeling exceptionally snappy tonight so I worked up to 150kg. for a single (Best clean and jerk in a month!).  Then took a few down-sets of triple power clean and jerk.  Here’s my last set at 120.

-1x power clean, 3x pushpress: worked up to 100kg.

-muscle snatch: worked up to 90kg. 3×2

-presses, etc.

Next Level Oats.

January 7, 2011

I don’t trust anyone who tells me not to eat oatmeal and neither should you.  I’m not saying that I’m a nutrition expert.  What I am saying is that strong, athletic people eat carbohydrates and if you want to be strong and athletic, you will too.  Carbohydrate watching nonsense is for weight loss and weight maintenance, not for athletic performance.  Now obviously, I’m not the picture of perfect physique,  but thats probably because of the biscuits, eggs, sausage, French toast, and gravy that I ate this morning.   I’m a big guy because I eat big on the regular.  And I’ll be damn surprised if steel cut oats is going to be the thing that kills me.

Get your fiber on.

Next level Oats:

-2 cups steel cut oats

-8 cups water

-dash of salt and nutmeg

-as much of the following as you want: local honey, brown sugar, skinned and diced apple, banana, etc.

-Directions: Boil water.  Add oats.  Reduce heat.  Let thicken.  Add other stuff.  Done.

-serves one big person 3 or 4 times.

-You can freestyle and add milk, maple syrup or whatever as you reheat.

Also, here’s the picture of the day.

His name is Longbeard. He’s a character from a children’s book that I’m working on.


Clean and Jerks: worked up 1 4×1 at 125kg.

snatch balance: x3 up10 130

push press: 90kg 5×3

got swolle: 1 arm stuff including TGU’s, windmills, presses.  Torso work.


May hit a few hang snatches tonight.  I’m getting focused for my best set of 5 front squat for tomorrow.  Aiming for 170-175kg.