Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Go Fuck Yourself

I'm thinking of starting a Facebook event called Go Fuck Yourself. Just so that everyone on my "friends" list will get a notice that says "Glen MacCharles has invited you to go fuck yourself."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Working Out Is Free

I see complaints online all the time about how healthy eating is too expensive. People want to blame the obesity problem on the fact that hamburgers and pop are more expensive than salads and bottled water. And while this might be a big part of the problem, it doesn't cover the whole thing.

First of all, I'm not into forcing anyone to work out or trying to shove fitness down anybody's throat. People who want to work out will and people who don't want to work out won't. That's just the way it is. Personally, I like working out and I can't understand why anyone who doesn't enjoy it does it at all. Just learn to enjoy life as a fatass.

But I was in a SportChek at a mall in Barrie yesterday and food is not the only expensive part of trying to live an active lifestyle. I couldn't believe the prices of some of their shit. A decent pair of hiking or running shoes is more than $100 and sometimes as much as $200. A decent bike might be $1000 or more. My own mountain bike I got from Canadian Tire, which is notorious for selling shitty bikes, and it's already falling apart after only two years. The one I had before that lasted about five years but I was constantly fixing it. It's bullshit.

And people are convinced that they need to buy this expensive shit. Under Armour clothing and whatnot. Gym memberships. Personal trainers. The list could go on and on and none of it is shit that you actually need.

Barbell plates are more than a dollar a pound in most places. Fucking kettlebells are more like two dollars a pound and then you've got these clowns who are telling everybody that even after you've blown your grocery money for the week on buying one, you'd better not use it until you've been properly instructed by a certified trainer. Fuck that. If you can't swing a kettlebell without hurting yourself, you're dumb. Plain and simple. Kettlebell swinging is boring anyhow. Flipping them around in the air is kind of fun for a few minutes once in a while. Again, if you need instructions on how to toss something in the air and catch it, you should go back and redo your schooling, Billy Madison style. It doesn't take long at all to figure out how to snatch a kettlebell either. The mechanics of it are pretty simple. If it takes you more than 10 minutes to figure it out you're a moron. The grip adapts fairly quickly and you can do a lot of reps very soon. Not that there's any point though since the kettlebell snatch doesn't mimic anything else you'll ever do, nor does it have any carryover to any other exercise whatsoever. The kettlebell clean is even easier than the snatch. The kettlebell press you should be able to do the first time you even pick one up. And if you can press it more than a few times with one hand then you can do a fucking get-up. What the fuck? If you can afford to buy a kettlebell you're allowed to play with it. You don't need permission from some asshole who thinks washboard abs and broad shoulders on a woman are sexy and whose one and only talent qualifies him to do nothing but teach said talent to a bunch of bored closet dykes with penis envy.

Walking is free. Running is free. Supplements are totally unnecessary. Weights can be found for free or really cheap if you look hard enough. Push ups and pull ups are free and if you need instructions on how to do them you probably can't walk and chew gum at the same time either. Five to 10 straight minutes of jumping jacks will give most people a better workout than they've had in years but no one will ever try it because it looks so simple and, God forbid, it's free.

Stone lifting is a great exercise for anyone serious about strength. It's free too. Those mold you can buy for making concrete spheres are another example of something that's way too expensive that you don't need anyway. And then once you've got it, other people will only want to borrow it off you and make their own cement balls for free. So if you buy one, particularly if it's just for personal use, you're a schmuck. Go for a walk along any creek or to most underpasses and you'll find more stones than you could ever count of all different shapes, sizes and weights.
You can do high reps, low reps or anything in between. You can carry them, throw them, for height, for distance, for time. Most of all for fun. And none of it will cost you anything.

If stone lifting is not your thing there are fields and playgrounds everywhere. Fields are great for sprints, swamp lunges, bear crawls, pull ups (if there are goal posts there) and any kind of circuit you can come up with. Playgrounds are excellent for pull ups and push ups of all kinds. The only limit is your imagination.

Basketball nets, goal posts for soccer and football, baseball diamonds, these things are also all over the place. A lot of basketball courts have hockey nets built into their fences as well.

So while it bothers me that "fitness" has become so expensive, it doesn't necessarily have to be because there are plenty of free (or at least cheap) alternatives. And believe it or not, everything you really need to know about exercise and a healthy diet, you learned during Phys.Ed  class back in school. So there's no excuse. If you want to work out, you will. And if you don't, it's because you don't really want to.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Top 5 Coolest TV Dads

Number 1: Red Foreman

Number 2: Al Bundy

Number 3: Homer Simpson

Number 4: Frank Costanza

Number 5: Frank Barone

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sometimes I Can't Decide Whether I Should Shit At Home Or At Work

Dropping a deuce at work is great because there's nothing more primally satisfying than getting paid to produce a natural work of art, especially when you've had a good one baking for a while. You also never have to worry about conserving toilet paper and can use as much as you need.

With that being said, I think given the choice I prefer blasting one out at home. The Home Throne Advantage can never be overestimated. Especially when you're not running late for anything and have all the time in the world. I'm all about the home slice.

If you had enough non-perishable food at your disposal and ate while sitting on the toilet long enough, I wonder how long it would take before you were growing a never ending turd. Trying it with corn would be a neat experiment.

As much as I like rocking the bowl at home, I am curious, now that I think about it, about how much money I've made over the years pinching loaves at work. I'm too lazy to do the math though.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


It always makes me laugh whenever "functional" fanatics take that odd form of pride in alledgedly not giving a shit what they look like, physique-wise.

"Who cares what you look like? It's all about what you can lift!"

They don't want to look like bodybuilders though. Bodybuilding is evil. They'd rather look like powerlifters. Or strongmen. Or Olympic lifters. Or their favourite MMA fighter. It doesn't matter though, what you look like, apparently. As long as it's not like a bodybuilder. Or a marathon runner. Or someone who doesn't squat. Etcetera.

Fuck that. I say you're not even big until you're "too big."

Everyone afraid of getting too big should immediately google the Pain Olympics for further instructions on how best to proceed with their lives. At the very least they should stop lifting weights and they never should have started in the first place. Yeah, everybody's got their own goals, blah blah blah. I DON'T GIVE A SHIT!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Farmer's Walk workout with my daughter

I went for a farmer's walk around the block with my oldest daughter today. I like including the girls in my workouts whenever I can, just because it's fun. The weights were pretty light at 115 per hand but I let her dictate the distance (within reason). That lets her feel important. I told her she was my coach and my spotter.

It also lets me feel like I don't know for sure if I'm going to make it back home with the weights. I need to push myself into that realm of self-doubt periodically. I can't do the whole comfortable, easy, never lifting to failure, never missing a rep thing. Not as my main style of training anyway. To me, strength needs to be as much mental as it is physical, and workouts don't become mental until you've pushed well past your physical comfort zone.

My favourite way to train the farmer's walk is with much shorter distance carries and at least 100 lbs more per hand. A lot of sets of about 20 to 25 paces each. I don't usually bother counting the sets but typically I'll do between 10 and 20 of them. That's the best way I've found to increase my numbers on paper with the farmer's walk. I'll use enough weight that 20 steps isn't easy, but I never go very far from the house so I always know I'm not going to end up stranded somewhere. I also always have chalk and water nearby and that takes a lot of the fear away too. When I'm thirsty I  take a drink, when my hands get slippery from the sweat I grab some more chalk. No worries.

Going for long distance carries is very hard on the skin of your palms and fingers. The more you sweat, the more you'll drop the weights and have to pick them back up again. And if you tear a callous, you still have to keep going unless you want to abandon your weights a block away from your house so some other asshole can steal them for himself. And for obvious reasons it's tough on your mind too.

Mental toughness is very important to me. Physically, I tend to be outclassed in the majority of competitions. Men's lightweight classes in strongman tend to go up to 220 or 230. Sometimes there won't even be any weight classes. The next contest I have coming up doesn't have any weight classes. The only stipulation is that you can't have ever placed in the top 12 at the Provincials. So I'll probably be the smallest male competitor there and I'm usually among the smallest anyhow. With boxing it was the opposite. I was too big for my weight class because of my background in weight lifting so all my sparring partners had a massive reach and height advantage on me. In both cases the only edge I have is mental. I'm willing to push myself beyond what most people will consider too painful or too dangerous to continue.

Anyway I had a good time with my daughter today. Hopefully she wasn't too bored to want to do it again. No pictures or videos today.

I finished with high rep curls, wrist curls and reverse curls using my axle bar and my wedding ring barely fits right now. All the callouses of both hands are raw.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strength training, character and cults

Something occurred to me earlier today. I think it was Pavel Tstasouline who popularised the phrase "Strength training is not about building character," or something along those lines. I think what he was getting at is that everything should be based on numbers and progression. And that most training sessions should be easy. A whole lot of other shit too.

I personally disagree with most of it. I like Pavel sometimes. His articles and books are fun to read but for myself anyway, strength training is about more than just increasing numbers and very much about building character. And I despised half-assed, easy workouts. The only time I'll have an easy workout is when I'm bored and completely wiped out by recent actual workouts but still feel like training anyway. That's when I'll play with a kettlebell or something.

Here's another thing. Dipshits who like the word train better than workout.
"Oh, I don't work out. I train."
What's the fucking difference? Is it like one word makes it sound so much more serious than the other? Fuck you!
So here's the main thing. Pavel has built up quite the flock of sheep over the years with the RKC and now Strongfirst. I've never actually met anyone from either of these cults in real life but from what I've seen online I wouldn't want to. Crossfitters are bad enough with their obsessive conformist behavior. I really don't like these cults. When I first started competing in strongman back in 2003 I don't think I even knew what Crossfit was. Now it seems you can't go to a contest without seeing at least one or two Crossfitters "representing" their gym. I just find it very strange. Maybe because I'm a loner who trains, sorry, WORKS OUT by myself and have never even thought about representing anyone or anything other than myself when I compete. I did wear a Wipeout T-shirt to a contest once but even that was just more about me selfishly wanting people to watch that show to see me on it than promoting the show itself. I'm just that kind of an asshole. But it's not the cult members I don't like so much as the overall cult mentality itself. They're obviously doing what they enjoy and I can't hold that against them. I do what I enjoy too.

My friend Ashley Werner, a popular Crossfitter here in Ontario who was also on the same Wipeout episode as me, brought me to a Crossfit gym once and I could tell right away that it wasn't something I wanted to be a part of.

Ashley Werner and me.
After Wipeout and after then after the Warrior Dash.

People take their kids to these Crossfit gyms with them and the kids look bored out their minds. They all do the same cookie-cutter workouts on the same day. I just couldn't train like that. I need more self-expression than that. More character.

Here's what I don't get anyway. These cult members live and breathe their cult memberships. It's not just something they do, it's who they are. It's their identity. They view their fellow cultists as family. Much like a gang. Now I'm not much better in the sense that I feel that working out is a big part of who I am and I'd be a totally different person without it. But at the same time I don't want it to be my identity. I don't want it to be the only thing that I am. I get the impression from the cultists that I've met that all they ever think about is working out. Everything they wear is about advertising that they work out. All their friends work out and all they ever talk about is working out. That bores the fuck out of me to be honest. When I was young and first started competing, at competitions in between events most of us would talk about working out. Exercises, sets, reps, etc. As years went by I realised more and more that all that stuff is piddly shit compared to the big picture. When you train consistently and it's a part of your life, you'll do a million different workouts with a million different set and rep schemes so who the fuck gives a shit about any one of them over any other. So as the years passed, we talked about that sort of thing less and less. Fellow competitors and I tend to talk about our kids and our jobs and other assorted catching up way more than sets and reps. We all work out. Why talk about it? So when the cults started coming on the scene it just seemed really strange to see the resurgence of obsession over the hobby itself. So all I can gather is that it must be the one and only thing these people have in common. Sad. But if "strength training is not about building character," why is it that the very people who apparently feel that way can only express themselves through the fact that they strength train? They get tattoos of their cults. They advertise their cults everywhere they go through their clothing and language. Their whole attitudes and personas are based around their cult memberships. They are no longer individuals. Their training is who they are. So if it's not about building character, who is this character that they're all playing?

Look at me. I lift weights. No, really, I do!
This whole rant made more sense in my head before I started writing it down.

Monday, July 1, 2013

2nd Annual Strength in the Valley Strongman Competition

I competed in the Second Annual Strength in the Valley strongman contest today. It was part of the Canada Day celebration at Dundas Driving Park in Dundas, Ontario. I only did it because I wanted to do the deadlift event contained within it. I do that sometimes. Compete in contests just for the sake of one event that sounds like fun. At the time I agreed to it, it sounded like there would be a series of heavier and heavier barbells and whomever made it to the heaviest bar would win the event. They changed that later on but it was still good.

First event was the aforementioned Deadlift Medley.

We were allowed to use straps on all but the axle bar. I wore mine just in case but didn't end up needing them. This event was way easier than I thought it was going to be. Everything felt super light. I came second in this event and the guy who won it beat me by only half a second. I feel like I hesitated after dropping that first bar, as if I was waiting for a command to move on to the next one. That was probably what cost me the half second difference. I've done individual sets during workouts that were harder than this event but it was fun nonetheless.

Lifting this bar with my psychokinetic psionic wild talent.
I might have called it The Force, but... I'm not a geek.
This is the one I thought I might have trouble with. I didn't though.
Couldn't have been easier. I think I might actually prefer axles to Olympic bars at this point.
The hardest part of this lift was worrying that I might drop them on my feet so I threw them out sideways. Those handles were thicker than I'm used to on farmers but the lift came up pretty easily so I've got nothing to complain about.

The next event was a combination of a hand-over-hand pull and then push with a pickup truck.

 I came first in this event and had no trouble with it whatsoever. I took some skin off my elbow at some point with the rope but what are you going to do? It's an extreme sport after all.

Look at those calves, son! FUCK YEAH!
After that it was decided that we were running ahead of schedule so they added an extra event. An Axle Press for Reps.
I felt totally unprepared for this. I didn't even do any overhead work leading into this contest (despite my knowing after the last contest that it specifically needs work) and my best single at home here is still only about 175. So I was expecting one or two reps at best. My wife told me to stop being such a pussy and aim for at least 10. As it turns out, something made this bar feel extremely light today. I have a feeling it was the bumper plates. My own 2" axle bar is built to hold standard plates, so the handle is two inches thick but the ends, where the weights slide on, are only about one inch thick. This all makes for an extremely awkward bar to work with.
I've got it set up on my squat rack here. Useless for any form of squat other than Zerchers.
I came in dead last on this event but I will say that I had to go first here and was at a disadvantage to begin with. Had I gone later in the rotation I'm sure I would have gotten more reps. Bumper plates make everything feel so light I'm actually kind of thankful that I rarely get anywhere near them.

The final event of the day was a stone lift for reps.

We had a minute and a half to get a 180 lb stone over a 53" bar as many times as we could. The stone itself I didn't find all that difficult but fuck that bar was way too damn high. I had trouble getting it over a few times. This event was a lot of fun though. I can't remember how many reps I got but I took second here and the guy who beat me only got one more rep than I did. I've always liked stone lifting.

In the end I was lucky enough to walk away with second place overall in the Men's Under 220 lb division. I still weigh right around 176 or 177 depending on the day and the scale being used.

 Second Prize was a jar of whey protein powder. I never buy the stuff but what the Hell. Maybe I'll go up to 185 by next month and take pisses that glow in the dark.

Standard post-competition group photo with no one at all paying attention to the camera.
I suppose if I'm being perfectly honest, this one is the much better group shot. It just happens that I'm one of those rare individuals who actually gets uglier when he smiles. Oh well. At least it doesn't look like everybody is trying to figure out who just farted.
It wasn't that long ago that I was going back and forth in my mind as to whether or not I would even continue competing in strongman contests. I'm glad I decided to keep up with it though. I'm doing fairly well at it so far and if I stopped now I know I would regret it later.
And by the way, Happy Canada Day!