Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Weightlifting: Training the Lower Body without Squats or Deadlifts

Due to the back injury I wrote about earlier (which seems to involve my sacroiliac joint), I've had to lay off of heavy squats and deadlifts for the time being. To prevent becoming the thing in the above picture, I've had to find alternative methods for training my legs. Since I train at home, the leg press isn't an option. Here's what I'm doing instead:

Split Squats

Also called Bulgarian split squats for some stupid reason (I believe a member of the Bulgarian weightlifting team was messing with people and attributed his success at the Olympic lifts to this exercise, which is ridiculous), this exercise can be quite challenging if you've never done unilateral training before. You'll find your dominant leg handles squatting easily, while your other leg will have a bit more trouble. I avoid loading my back by using a pair of dumbbell like the above picture. To compensate for the lack of heavy weights, I do higher reps, usually 4 sets of 10.

Lunges are a basic movement that everybody has probably done at some time or another. Shorter steps will increase tension on your quadriceps, while longer strides will stress your glutes more. Higher reps are recommended. Can be hard on your knees, though still easier than leg extensions.

Leg Curls

Leg curls stress the hamstrings, unlike leg extensions, which target the quads. I usually don't go over sixty pounds with these, at least at this point. 4 sets of 8-12 reps, like everything else.

Leg Extensions
Leg extensions get a bad rep because they put a lot of sheer force on the knee joint. For that reason, you shouldn't do them with heavy weights. I usually use about fifty pounds per leg, just aiming for a pump.

Calf Raises
Never really did these, and my calves are a paltry fifteen inches, so I decided to start working on them out of vanity, which is the best motivator. Doing these for 4 sets of 20, three times a week.

Other than these, I usually do some side leg raises for my hips. Hopefully, the above routine will help me retain muscle mass while I wait on my back to heal.  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Your IBS Is Your Fault

Hey, you. Guy with three hot dogs in his mouth. I got a message for you. Your irritable bowel syndrome is your fault.

No one's making you cram two eggo waffles, a plate of chicken alfredo, and a bucket of animal crackers in your pie hole. Nobody forced you at gunpoint to sprinkle tabasco sauce all over the jalapeno scrambled eggs you ate for breakfast. That McDonald's value meal you just devoured? Pretty sure that wonderful amalgamation of soy fillers, trans fats, and carbonated soda didn't crawl down your gullet on its own accord. Naw, man. You put that stuff in you.

Cap 'n' crunch isn't made to be eaten three times a day. Diet coke was originally designed to clean coffee pots, not the lining of your stomach. That blockage in your intestinal tract was not put there by God. Just because you can eat a whole pizza doesn't mean that it's a good idea. In fact, if you've ever considered eating a whole pizza, I can assure you that good ideas come as frequently to your brain as the nightly cloud of dementia comes to the current President of the United States. Stop putting garbage into your mouth, dumb ass.

So you had a cleanse the other day. You drank spring water and ate nothing but graham crackers like some 19th century prude. You still don't know what a vegetable is, or how to cook anything other than refried beans, but your Medusa's nest of an intestine is feeling somewhat better. Your bowel movements are beginning to resemble the droppings of a large, herbivorous mammal rather than the shit-water of a man dying from dysentery. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about how good a bowl of Skyline chili would taste right now, followed by two or three chili cheese coneys. Let me tell you a secret that only folks from the Natty know: Cincinnati chili is recycled hobo shit. You can't digest it--it's already been digested. It's impossible, like a unicorn or a skunk ape. Don't try it, you can't do it. You just can't.

I once lived like you did, if you could call what I led a life. I dined on cases of Miller High Life mixed with bathwater bleach and ammonium nitrate. I ate the carcass of a dead animal, no matter what condition it was in. Once, just for the hell of it, I chewed up all the plastic in my house. What the dog ate, I ate. The stomach pains I suffered through were the stuff of legend. Sometimes it took weeks for me to poop. Other times, it just took a second. Underwear was a scarce resource. You can't wash the unwashable. You just have to throw it in the trash.

So don't tell me about your IBS, bro. Pull those hot dogs out of your mouth and get a grip before you find yourself eating gravel and tree bark. If I did it, you can do it. You can do anything.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Conan Brothers Q&A

RealAmeriKKKan asks "What do you guys think about all those loser football players kneeling during the national anthem? If they don't like it here, they can just get out!"

Dave: Been a while since we had a true moron ask a question.

Arnold: That's not true, Dave. Usually we just ignore them, but I feel that this one's query deserves an answer.

Dave: Let me ask all you hard-ass patriot motherfuckers something: What do you think black Americans owe this country?

Arnold: Oh my god, Dave, what are you saying?

Dave: I know it's impossible for a sociopath to put his or herself in another person's shoes, but all you Trump supporters out there, just try for a second. Imagine you're a black American. I know! The horror! Let's think about your history. Americans stole your ancestors from their country and enslaved them for two-hundred and fifty years. When they finally gained their freedom, they were treated as second class citizens that were often lynched, beaten, or unfairly imprisoned if they stepped out of their designated social arena. While things improved after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, racism and systematic discrimination continued, even though plenty of white people like to pretend that prejudice ended with Obama. "They got their black President, now I don't want to hear about racism!" these people screamed, even though the election of a black President resulted in a massive racist backlash that ultimately manifested itself in Trump. With a noted racist sitting at the head of the DOJ, and a police culture that continues to treat blacks like dead men walking, what do African-Americans owe this country? Honestly, jack shit.

Arnold: Well spoken, white man.

Dave: I find that patriotism is too often used as a shield against criticism.

Arnold: Yeah, I guess that sounds about right.


IntellectualHorseMan3000 asks "Do you assholes ever read anything besides muscle rags?"

Arnold: Cereal boxes. Craiglist ads for pool boys. Stuff on the internets.

Dave: Arnold thinks a book is something you use as a weapon or as toilet paper in a pinch.

Arnold: Actually, brother, I have just finished an excellent science fiction novel called Blindsight by Peter Watts. It's a first contact story set in a high tech future where baseline humans are redundant and vampires have been brought to life by the miracle of genetic engineering. The aliens are nicely alien, and the big twist of the novel has a certain Lovecraftian horror about it. The main theme of Blindsight is consciousness, and whether or not it is an advantage or a disadvantage to an intelligent species. I probably read it in a week.

Dave: So that's what you were doing in there all night. I figured you were twisting the bald headed moose or whatever.

Arnold: Well yeah, I was probably doing that too.

Dave: So do you think we qualify as conscious beings?

Arnold: You don't. Half the time you speak, I can tell it's the machinery underneath that's doing the talking.


GamerBait asks "So what have you losers been playing?"

Dave: Besides the skin flute?

Arnold: Enough with the masturbation euphemisms. Prey is really good, and a nice companion to Blindsight.

Dave: It's basically System Shock 3, although I've seen a lot of people comparing it to Bioshock which makes sense, I guess, since the Shock series has been defunct for a long time now.

Arnold: Talos, the space station in Prey, is probably the best fully-realized environment in gaming. It really feels like an actual place.

Dave: I feel like the horror angle is due more to the initial weakness of your character, rather than the alien design, though every time a Phantom walks by making those creepy sounds, I shit my pants.

Arnold: Yeah, and they're not even much of a challenge. I do agree, though, Prey is refreshingly difficult on normal, though not Dark Souls hard.

Dave: Nothing is Dark Souls hard. Not even the game of life itself.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

New Music: The Ringer

An old Theme Park Mistress song about a cereal killer/accordionist. Enjoy.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Taking Apart the Tenets of American Conservatism

Hey look, two assholes.

Good ol' fashioned conservative values are something we constantly hear Republican politicians harping about. If something is bad, then it surely doesn't adhere to the principles of conservatism, which were handed down from God to Ronald Regan at the summit of Mount Rushmore. Accepted as gospel truth by a good portion of the electorate (by good portion, I mean the handful of people who vote in this country), I thought I'd turn a critical eye toward sacred dogma, because it's 4:30 in the morning, and I'm pissed that I'm awake.

Principle # 1: A smaller government is always a better government. I don't think there's any truth to this, and it doesn't make sense if you give it more than a second of thought. America is the third most populous nation on earth; over 326 million people live here. That seems like a whole lot of people to govern! It seems reasonable that you'd need a considerable federal government to deal with a population of that size. Well, maybe they mean that the federal government is too powerful, and more power should be returned to the states. Crazily, it appears that our ancestors fought a long and bloody civil war over that very subject, and the consensus of that war was that federal power supersedes that of the states. In any case, a large state government is required because a lot of people live in the states. There are 39 million people in California, the largest state by population, and 585 thousand in Wyoming, the smallest. That's still a lot of people in Wyoming, though, isn't it? Still, they probably shouldn't get any electoral votes. They're responsible for Dick Cheney, after all. Remember that guy? He was like an evil George Costanza, and he was still better than any of the maliciously useless member of the Trump administration, which is looking more and more like a mentally-challenged version of the Legion of Doom.

Principle # 2: Free-market capitalism is the solution to every problem, ever. Sure, if you are the majority owner of a powerful corporation, then yes, less regulation will probably be good for your business. If you're a small entrepreneur, well, maybe not, because with less regulation, that powerful corporation we were just talking about could easily drive you out of business. If you're a wage slave like most of the population, then free-market capitalism probably isn't helping you out much. Corporate profits have soared over the last decade, while wage growth remains stagnant. You see brain-addled politicians like Rand Paul cling to this tenet like the hem of Marilyn Monroe's dress even in circumstances when it's blatantly obvious that capitalism is failing us, such as our health care system. "Obamacare is socialism! If we let it, the Market will find a way!" screams Paul, even though we allow hospitals to charge patients ridiculous prices which then get passed on to insurance companies, who in turn pass the expense back to the consumer. That's free-market capitalism at work, folks, and that's why your insurance premiums are sky-high and yet you still have to pay a fortune every time you visit the doctor. Really, every time Rand Paul opens his mouth I hope he'll just projectile vomit over anyone he's speaking to, since his words are basically repulsive nonsense at this point. Fuck you, Kentucky! You're also responsible for Mitch McConnell, a failed human-turtle hybrid so riddled with hypocrisy, it's a goddamn miracle he hasn't dropped dead from lying out of his asshole.

Hey, there's old Mitch. What a fucking bitch.

Principle # 3: Christian values are American values, and when we abandon them, we lose our souls. I don't really think Republicans believe this one; they're just pandering to evangelicals, which are a decent portion of their base. I mean, would the party of family values really nominate Donald Trump as their Presidential Candidate? Donald Trump thinks a family is something you evict and then sue until it goes away or dies. He's been married three times, and he had to buy his third wife in some Eastern European country, and it's fucking obvious that he's a shitty husband and she wants to kill him. Getting back to the subject, Christian values are all over the place. You've got denominations that think women shouldn't speak and that homosexuals are an abomination, and then you have Pope Francis, who thinks Trump is a dumb ass and that maybe the Catholic church should like, lighten up a bit or something, man. This country was founded on religious freedom, and the hallowed founders, who've been mythologized by conservatives to the point where they sit on the right hand of God himself next to Christ, insured that America was a secular nation with a clear definition between church and state. So the next time some so-called Christian starts moaning about whatever moral crisis we're apparently suffering through, tell them to shut their ignorant pie-hole and stop shitting all over the Constitution, which currently allows queers, unwed mothers, and atheists just as the founders intended (hah, yeah probably not, but fuck those guys, right?).

Principle # 4: Let the people have all of the gunz! The gun lobby is one of the most powerful in Washington, despite the fact that only 36 percent of Americans own guns. Republicans think that you should have a gun on you when you go to the movie theater, when you attend school, and when you're taking communion at church. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos thinks that we should have armed guards in public schools to shoot bears, for Jesus's sake. Guns are as American as apple pie, type two diabetes, and big, bouncing fake titties. What are the consequences of letting people have all the gunz without requiring any training or reasonable level of vetting? Why, gun violence levels that are 25 percent higher than the average of any other developed country. Every time there's a school shooting, you should call your Republican representative and thank them for not taking all the gunz away. Sure, little kids had to die, but isn't your AR-15 more important? Remember those Christian family values!

I'm part of teh gunz lobby.

Principle # 5: Our god-level military is the only thing keeping us safe in a dangerous world. The United States spends more on defense than the next eight countries combined. Yet Trump thinks our military is weak and wants to jack-up spending by 54 billion. This supports my theory that conservatives are fucking terrified of their own shadow. A lot of people will say "Well, we are a superpower, why shouldn't we spend a ridiculous amount on our military?" I dunno. Look around you, buddy: can you think of any other area where that money might be better spent? I dunno, maybe health care? Public infrastructure? Education? What are our priorities as a country? To be big, dumb, sick, and well-protected? Shit, I answered my own question.

So yeah, I think I'm done here. I'm about to fall asleep in my chair. Hopefully I don't dream of Ronald Regan.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weightlifting: Training Around a Back Injury

I've had a sharp pain in my lower left back for some time now. It's not terrible, but it's fairly constant. Because I've always had a strong back, I think I've gotten careless and lifted too often with a round back. My injury seems to be lessening after doing a few things:

1) Cutting out problem exercises. One of my goals was to deadlift 600 lbs this year, but I've had to lay off heavy deadlifts for the time being. One armed deadlifts are a good temporary substitute because the weights handled are relatively light, and although the motor pattern is slightly different, it is similar enough that you're still getting deadlift practice, as well as improving your grip. I've also stopped low bar squatting--it was the worst exercise for my back pain. High bar squats and front squats can be done with a minimum of pain, so I've continued to squat.

2) Working the back directly. I've always gotten the majority of my lower body volume from squats and deadlifts, but I think that was a mistake. Good mornings hit the lower back directly, and after performing them for a couple weeks, they've become a necessary part of my training. I do good mornings with a heavy dumbbell for reps instead of a barbell, because the movement feels more comfortable with a dumbbell.

3) Remembering to tighten your torso before lifting. Before a squat, deadlift, or press, make sure to flex your abs and tighten your back. Doing so will prevent an injury due to bad form. This is common sense, yet I've certainly gotten into the habit of just getting under the bar and unracking it.

4) Foam roll. Lying on the floor with a foam roller under your spine can alleviate sore muscles and elicit a couple good back pops. A massage would probably be even better, but we take what we can get.

That's all I got.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Meet the Deplorables, Eight Months in

Pointless Venture thought we would check back in with all of those humble souls who voted Donald Trump President of the United States. What do the deplorables have to say?

Bret Adkins, 27 years old, formerly employed at Borg Warner, favorite hobby was jerking it to big diesel engines.

Current Whereabouts: County jail after arrested for selling heroin.

Evaluation of Trump's Performance: "Big D's sure is fucking over a lot of those Washington homos, ain't he? Heard he rustled a few feathers for not criticizing white people when Black Lives Matter terrorists ran over a white girl in Charlotte. White people should have the ability to protest just like all those whiny minorities. Met a solid bro who was jailed for speaking German and cosplaying in a Stormtrooper uniform. When I get out, I might meet with his gang and burn some crosses and shit. Trump will protect our rights! Go big D!"

Candice Lawrence, 35 years old, professional house wife, favorite hobby was gradually letting herself go.

Current Whereabouts: Parents' house after husband left with secretary.

Evaluation of Trump's Performance: "I'm a little disappointed, to be honest. I thought Ivanka would have a bigger role in President Trump's White House, but her Jewish husband is hogging the spotlight with all his Russian meetings. Really think Ivanka could've done better--if she had to marry a Jew, then why not one that looked more like Paul Rudd than Jessie Eisenberg? Oh my, that's the wine talking. Please don't print that."

Anita Dooger, 40 years old, employed at In His Holy Fire church, favorite hobby was producing offspring.

Current Whereabouts: Walmart, loading up on toilet paper and paper plates.

Evaluation of Trump's Performance: "I think President Trump has done a wonderful, blessed job. God's wisdom has influenced his hand! Trannies are no longer allowed in the military, and Muslims better watch their backs! I have felt liberated to express my support in public for the crucifixion of homosexuals, which is a wonderful thing to share, let me tell you. President Trump will turn this nation back into a haven for Christian values!"

Bretfart1942, 22 years old, formerly employed at community college dining hall, favorite hobby was trolling for the lols.

Current Whereabouts: Mom's house, taking a break from the crushing pressure of two classes a semester.

Evaluation of Trump's Performance: "Honestly, I was hoping the whole system would just crash, and all the bitcoins I've mined would make me king of the wasteland, but things haven't quite proceeded as planned. The feminists are still working hard to undermine my masculinity, and President Trump hasn't done as much to rein them in as I would have hoped. Still, I've gotten plenty of lols from his presidency so far (have you watched a White House press conference? It's like a masterclass in internet doublespeak), and I only imagine they'll continue. Trump 2020! Pepe forever!"