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I have recently starting reworking the second Ashman Strength System book and it is going very smooth and filled with solid tweaks to the original program such as:  template for power athletes, modifying the original template for speed work, less max effort work, bodybuilding style training, and more.

These have been added to give the user a more well-rounded selection to choose from in their own training and allows the template to be further customized across a wide variety of training needs.

This is still a couple months away from completion as it will contain a lot of information to use and I want to ensure it is delivered effectively.

The meat of the book will be the general outline of the peaking program I use for many of my powerlifting clients. Along with that program the book will contain directions as to how to transition from the off-season program into the peaking program seamlessly.

I am excited to finish this book, finally, and have it be a complete product for you to enjoy.

In OKC, we have two USPA meets coming up in July and August that our gym, BrewHouse Barbell, is a main sponsor for. In both of those meets I have a combined total of 5 lifters competing who are either personal clients or those who bought a customized peaking program to use.

Ryan Sullivan
Ryan Kropp
Susanne Kimball
Zachary Weeks
Logan Johnson

We have been open for 3 months and our crew of lifters is growing fast. Not only do we have the above five, but we have Daniel Hentges and Chris Thompson competing at Relentless MN, Blaine Sumner as our resident in-house world record holding IPF lifter, and Albert Adams who is a name who we will be seeing in the record books as he is only 19 years old and moving impressive amounts of iron.

The combined number of lifters, strength athletes, and knowledge in this gym makes us THE place in the OKC area to come for strength training.

We have plenty of other strong lifters who choose not to compete… yet.

Saying we are fortunate is an understatement, we all work hard to make our gym home a place to come to learn how to be your best. Thankfully Matt and Nick have allowed an environment like this to foster into something that is becoming a name quickly.

 

The beginning of my lifting journey by Dan Hentges

For about a year I have been lifting off and on with a fantastic training partner and great friend in Daniel Hentges. Ever since we’ve met he has been a supportive person in my life in ways that describe the meaning of lifelong friend. His dedication to his family, his friends, his lifting, and his stellar character are examples of what it means to be a man in 2016.

Dan is also a lifter for Relentless, constantly surpassing expectations in fund-raising and being a true example of what that mission stands for. He doesn’t take part in it to draw attention to himself, he steps up to the plate and shows what the meaning of service is.

If I could be half the person he is, I would be a lot better.

That is a small example of what Dan is. He isn’t an elite lifter by any means but his story below will resonate with many of you and it bears repeating here.

He sent me this the other day out of the blue because he just wanted to write it down. I am proud to share it.

—-

“My fat ass step-dad…”  That beginning of a sentence is what directed me to lifting after many years away from taking care of myself.  Sure, I had dabbled in different forms of lifting throughout my younger years, but I never stuck with it or followed any true structured training or diet regimen.  But when hurtful words from one of your kids (before I go any further, I have to be perfectly transparent and say that her saying this was in response to me grounding her) it takes on a whole new meaning.  Let me take a few steps back and lead up to this point in my life.

Like any normal kid, I loved sports and loved the idea of being strong.  What kid didn’t look up to a comic book figure or a professional athlete in amazement?  I remember growing up watching guys like Bo Jackson and Joe Montana dominating the gridiron.  I was infatuated with comics like Batman and Superman.  And, of course, I watched every Arnold movie I could get my hands on.  Being strong was just something I had a yearning for.  I just never really did anything about it.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t born with great genetics for strength.  I was born with a crooked spine that’s always given me fits.  Early on, I didn’t let that stop me.  When I was 14 my dad bought me a weight set at a garage sale.  From that day I was in my basement lifting every single time I had a few free minutes.  After about a year I became discouraged because I wasn’t seeing the results I thought I would get (because who knew nutrition was something I needed to worry about.)  For the next few years the only lifting I did was whatever my football and baseball coaches told me to do.  And again, I just ate whatever my mom made for food for the day or ran to whatever fast food or pizza buffet my friends were going to.  

To say I was an average-at-best athlete in high school would be an understatement.  My physical stats at graduation were a whopping 5’9” and 170 lbs soaking wet.  So it’s safe to say playing sports in college wasn’t going to happen.  So my focus turned to school, eating terribly, and drinking way too much.  No big deal, right?  These are normal bad habits for everyone in the 18-25 age group.  No.  It was bad.

A handful of years later I found myself using food and alcohol to mask the pain of a very nasty divorce.  There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t pounding a case of beer and eating pizza/cheeseburgers/whatever.  Before I knew it I was up to 250 pounds.  Friends and family dropped hints, tried to get me to be more active, but all I wanted to do was live a life where I didn’t care about my reckless behavior.  Even on weekends that I had my son, I would just substitute the drinking (I wouldn’t allow myself to drink a lot while I had him) for more junk food.  

Luckily I met a woman that helped me really believe that I was worth something.  Sure, things didn’t instantly turn on the gym motivation, but I was able to start taking better care of myself.  Sadly, the damage had been done and I was still massively overweight.

Then, one day in the midst of an argument I overheard my step-daughter refer to me as a fat ass.  I knew at that moment that my kids didn’t view me in the way that I wanted them to.  That was honestly the biggest wake-up call I’ve ever had in my life.  It was also one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever experienced.

So, from there I joined a gym and started regularly lifting and tried to structure a more well-balanced eating plan.  It was hit and miss for a while.  Thankfully I met a guy that is very knowledgeable in nutrition and he helped me get my weight down to around 180 pounds.  I felt great and looked better than I had in years.  During that time I was introduced to a group of guys at a nearby gym that were competitive powerlifters.  After training alongside them a few times, it is very safe to say that I was hooked on getting stronger and wanting to compete.  I had spent the last year trying to improve my image to look “better” for my family, now it was time to have fun with it.

Over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure to work with a few coaches to help provide a ton of knowledge and support, and have competed in a few meets.  Progress is still being made and I’m still having just as much fun as I did when I first started.  I can honestly see myself competing for several more years.  There’s something very fulfilling about pushing yourself to new milestones and surprising yourself when smashing old personals bests.

While I may regret that it took me until the age of 35 to start faithfully following a healthier lifestyle and finding the sport of powerlifting, I am a huge believer that everything happens for a reason.  Maybe I wasn’t meant to find this hobby until later in life.  After all, it took listening to my evil step daughter (haha…had to) to realize I needed to find something to make me better.  And I’ll never be able to thank her enough.  

Short term progress is possible

One of my Physique competitor clients, Jeff Dennis, competed at his first show in April.

He didn’t finish top 3 but we did get some great feedback from the judges as to what we needed to improve on for his next show. The original plan was to gain some more size, work on the weakpoints, and pick a show several months down the line with a better package.

Jeff had other ideas and found one much, much sooner.

This leaves us with little time to prepare but with enough time to work hard to make some changes.

In 5 weeks we tightened up his waist even more, we threw some more muscle on his back, and we are going to be bringing him in much tighter, fuller, and leaner than before.

Fat is very low in his diet, he is eating enough carbs to fuel his workouts and recovery, he is training 5-6 days a week with extra workouts focused on the back, delts, and biceps.

In five weeks he has improved tremendously and you can see a profound difference in his back.

Jeff Dennis

A focused plan along with a goal-oriented diet is more than capable of short term progress. Often you read about “long term goals” and while they are needed, there are a lot of good things that can come from setting short term goals along the way.

Do you have long term goals? How can you break them up into short term goals to set steps along the way?

Comments are welcome.

Big Pharma is killing me

Nothing like some atrial fibrillation and subsequent side effects of it to really make you change gears in training and life.

For the uninitiated, let’s take a ride on a timeline to give you the quick and dirty recap.

Beginning of Oct – Come down with strep and flu.

Middle of Oct – trying to recover, stomach is screwy, can’t digest food, can’t lift hard, always tired, starting to see edema in my ankles.

Beginning of Nov – Relentless Detroit. I fly up, I compete, I shit the bed because I feel like hell and edema worsens as does shortness of breath.

Nov – Feb – Symptoms get worse, start feeling it more and more, can’t sleep, and wake up catching breath at times. Eating one meal a day because appetite is shot.

Beginning of Feb – I am really getting scared so I go to ER. Resting heart rate is 199. I am in massive a-fib and I am admitted to the hospital.

My girlfriend flew down to help which was absolutely needed and incredibly sweet.

Ok, back on track from the loving shout out.

In the 2 weeks that followed my hospital stay – wasn’t feeling better, continuing to get extremely short of breath, hospital called me to check on me and said “you need to see your cardiologist ASAP”.

That was Friday, appointment was made for Monday.

Went to Cardiologist – upped my diuretic and changed a med up.

Lost 45 fucking pounds of water in 6 days.

Go from feeling like death to feeling like “holy shit I am going to be ok”

Cardioversion scheduled, it didn’t hold.

Electrophysiologist puts me on a rhythm controlling medication this week with a second cardioversion to follow.

That is a huge, clinical nutshell.

I am holding at 248, feel good, back to training people full time, business is growing and Big Pharma is trying to kill me… sure… if you believe the natural living is better shills they are.

I am on 6 different medications.

  1. Beta Blocker
  2. Diuretic
  3. ACE inhibitor
  4. Rate controller
  5. Blood thinner
  6. Rhythm controller

Goddamn, right?

Side effects should be killing me, right?

Nope… not a one.

Of course I can’t take a shot to the head with force, as the blood thinner prevents that so my lofty plans of running face first into a wall are derailed.

Other than that, if I didn’t know I was still in a-fib, I would have no damn idea I was.

Logic says (or asshole natural living logic says) I should be rotting from the inside out from the medication I am on, but instead I feel like 999,999 bucks. I would feel like a million but I am reserving that extra dollar for when the rhythm issues are corrected 100% and my heart is completely out of “failure” which is what caused the water retention.

I mean you can buy Hawthorne, plant sterols, CoQ-10 and all that shit, but they aren’t doing a damn thing when a diagnosis happens. When something goes wrong, Big Pharma is your best bet.

Of course I don’t mean you need to crush pills for every little damn thing. Got a virus? Rest. Have a headache? Use aspirin instead of swallowing 6 Advil. The list of common sense goes on.

When you have real issues, Big Pharma has real solutions.

Don’t agree? Have fun dying young.

This message is paid for by the fan club of Monsanto.

Free shit Wednesday – The ASS 3-day a week tweak

When I released the OG ASS book it was designed for a 4 day a week plan only, but I have received inquiries on how to make it into a 3 day a week plan.

At the time I didn’t give it thought but lately I have taken a look into the format of the original template and came across a great way to convert the 4 day a week plan into a 3 day a week plan, get the amount of work needed done, rest and recover properly and still reap the benefits of what the ASS can do for you.

The block system remains the same but with a minor change.

Block 1 is 3 sets for 8-12 reps, bodybuilding style as usual

Block 2 you will do 2 top sets of 3-5 (RPE is the method I use and you can find out the exact RPE if you have the book or if you fucking buy it)

Block 3 is one top set of 1-3, again buy the book for the RPE we use.

The 3 day a week plan is easy to implement as you will choose 3 days a week to train, I don’t care which ones but do your best not to make them back to back as recovery is what we are going for here.

If you have the book you will have a pretty solid list of what exercises I would like you to choose from, you may have your own as well which is fine.

There are a few ways to attack this 3 day a week template:

  1. Powerlifting base offseason plan – tailor your accessory selections to target your weak points with exercises that directly benefit them.
  2. Powerbuilding gym rat plan – have fucking fun with a wide variety of exercises, gain some size while not stressing over weak point training necessarily.
  3. Lazy bastard plan – use Therabands for accessory work, if you do this, I hope your family disowns you.

For more information you may want to pick up the book to find out the rest.

For the 3 day a week template, all excelled and laid out for your viewing pleasure, you are welcome:

3 day a week ASS Template Download