Life Can Be A Bummer

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Yo!

Life can hit you pretty hard sometimes. Lately, it’s been beating the crap out of me. But there is one important thing that you have to remember.

It’s all your fault.

Every last piece of everything that’s frustrating you right now is your fault.

Sound crazy?

Good, because sounding sane just makes you average. If everything is your fault (which it is) then everything is your problem to solve. There is always something you could have done to resolve the issue. There is always something more that could have been done. Do you want to live in a world in which there isn’t something that could have been done?

I know it isn’t a fun to just blame yourself.

But life isn’t always fun.

Hang in there champ!
Hang in there champ!

Share Your Passion

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Today’s post is for all those introverted perfectionists. Yeah, that’s me too. I know how it is. You have this passion, this thing that consumes you, that you love doing. But who do you tell about it? Not a soul. Maybe someone really close to you but even then you keep it low key and down play how seriously you take it.

Why?

Because you’re afraid. You’re afraid that if you talk about anything you should be perfect at it. You can’t talk about body building without looking like a professional bodybuilder. Simply not true. Everyone starts somewhere.

Somewhere.

Where are you starting? If you haven’t told anyone anything about your goals then you haven’t started.

You’ll be surprised what happens when you start sharing your passion with the world.

Try it.

And let me know.

-RK

You Don’t Need A Break

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Here’s the number one thing you can change today to get more done: Stop assuming you need a break. Stop thinking you are burnt out. Stop thinking you can’t cut the non-essential and work. I touched on this at the end of my last article about why I stopped cleaning my house.

What it comes down to is that society has programmed you to believe you need a break. That you can’t go further and harder than everyone else. Even if it’s true, what’s the value in believing it?

Every year in school you had a scheduled “break”. Winter break. Fall break. Summer break. Great for kids, not for you. Assume you don’t need a break and see where the line really is. See how far you can go. This reminds me of the great overtraining debate. Most internet heroes fear the monster called overtraining. But most are so far from ever touching overtraining that talking about it is a waste of time. This goes for the concept of a break. Yeah, you got me. People need breaks, just like they can be overtrained, but are you one of those people? Probably not. And you will know when you are.

Every time I go down the “I need a break” road it’s only to convince myself to play video games or watch the Walking Dead. I don’t need a break. I need sleep and food. I need oxygen. I need a few other things, too. But I don’t need a break.

Naw, you don't.
Naw, you don’t.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rest. You should protect your asset at all costs. You are the asset. But that doesn’t mean you need to sit around. I’m keeping this post short (not because I need a break) but I challenge you to assume you don’t need a break and see what you can do.

Will five minutes every 30 minutes help you work better? Yes. It will and it’s scientifically proven. But are your breaks 5 minutes? And do you really work 30 minutes straight (Facebook doesn’t count).

Break free and go break-free.

-RK

Why I Stopped Cleaning My House

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house cleaners are the way to go or else I look as angry as this guy when I cleanYo. I hate cleaning. It’s no secret. I was a messy kid with clean freak parents and I guess I never grew up in that regard.

But I did get smarter. And instead of accepting that I hate cleaning because I’m lazy or whatever I now know that I hate cleaning because it’s a waste of time. A total waste of time. There is a lot more I could be doing with my time besides cleaning. My goal is to earn 3 times what I pay my house cleaner in the time that they spend cleaning the house. I already covered house cleaning in general as a way to buy more time but I want to expand on that concept.

It isn’t necessarily about cleaning. Cleaning your house is just one of those things that people do in order to not do what scares them. I can’t think of a less scary thing to do. Heck, watching TV is scarier than cleaning your house. At least you might accidentally run into a challenging idea.

And that’s the point. The idea is to challenge what is normally accepted as a standard approach. Think about how many weekend routines you know that revolve around zero return chores. Not only that, think about how many people take their sweet time when they clean. Let’s put on a show. Clean a little on the commercials. Watch the cleaner soak. Hey, I’ve done it. But if you must clean yourself, please do me a favor and clean quickly.

Not sure what that looks like? Hire a house cleaner. I was home the third time my maids cleaned the house and my mind was blown. They have it down to a system. They it treat like they are getting paid for every house they can get to that day. Because they are. And you should be getting paid all day every day too. Your time is money. So why do you clean like a bum? Why do you clean at all?

Not sure if you can afford it? Ask yourself what your hourly rate is- do you pay your house cleaners more? You should be getting paid a lot more. And if you aren’t, then consider it an investment. You are investing in your cleaning service to buy your time and get that rate up. Either way, man, drop the cleaning.

But don’t stop there. How much do you spend cooking? Driving? Eating? I know, this is some wild stuff here but you don’t have to watch an hour of TV everytime you eat dinner. You finished that meal 15 minutes into the show. What’s stopping you from eating in the car? Sound too tough? Don’t like the idea of not getting a break?

Well, I don’t like the idea of being average. Do what everyone does to be like everyone else.

Your choice.

-RK

Grand Goals- or, Chris Duffin is the Man

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I’m a little behind on his latest video but Chris Duffin has put out some awesome content as part of his #grandgoals campaign. I always love a good pun and grand goals is a great one. Duffin is talking about lifting 1k in the deadlift and the squat but more than that Chris is talking about some grand, as in huge, goals. Goals that you realistically would never reach. But realism and goal setting aren’t in the same zip code. Put any major scientific advancement in a historic context and you will see that the trend of success is not being afraid to pick things that are out of our reach.  Yeah, this can lead to some dissatisfaction as you never achieve what you want but I believe that’s a misinterpretation of a goal. I would go so far as to say goals aren’t to be met, they are to be pursued.

But enough about me. Duffin doesn’t want to limit his pursuits to the weights. He wants to inspire the world to reach further than they feel comfortable. There is no opportunity in comfort.

The great thing about Duffin’s video is that it isn’t just Duffin saying, “Hey, get out there and do something you young punk.” Duffin is throwing out his grand goals. Suff that people would laugh at if you told them. Things like I want I want to inspire everyone, not just strength athletes.

That’s the way it’s done. The people that laugh, keep moving. The people that hear a goal like that and throw one back at you, join the crew.

Grand goals? I just call them goals.

-RK

Tracking Weight Gain

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Hey, I squatted today bro.
Hey, I squatted today bro.

Tracking weight gain sounds simple but it’s something that a lot of people, probably most, mess up. It seems simple to just use the scale weight as your measure of success but it can’t be the only thing that you use. While most people don’t gain the muscle they think they do during a bulk or a caloric surplus, you are still gaining something and without a proper plan you can’t determine what’s good weight and what isn’t.

That’s why you need to break out the measuring tape.

You need to keep track of the weight on the scale and key body parts. I’m pretty sure you didn’t gain 10 pounds in your biceps, bro. Break out the tape and let’s see.

By using the tape to measure you can make informed decisions on your progress. But first, let’s go over a few things with the scale. You have to weigh yourself at the same time in the same clothes. You know this, but you don’t do it. Now, I’m big and so my fluctuations can be pretty big too. I’m 6’6″ and I weigh in at 285 at the gym in the morning. That’s with the same breakfast and wearing the same clothes and shoes. I track it. I will pick the same clothes anytime I do a serious weigh in. Now, if I weigh myself at work, I can break the 300lb mark. That’s with a gallon of water, a big lunch and a business casual get up. And these variations can go further than that. The point is, look at averages and not just the one-offs or else you will drive yourself crazy.

Alright, now comes the measuring tape. Again, this needs to happen at the same time with a similar food intake. I will let you take a guess at how much belly fluctuation you think I can come up with after 40 wings and a large pizza (do as I say, not as I do). But we aren’t just going to measure the stomach, we want to measure major muscle groups but even more important are the muscle groups where you are less likely to hold fat. For me, this is my bicep. I don’t’ get the fat-ceps too badly so I know that I can use them as a reasonable indicator of my body fat.

That means that when I cut, I should see little to no change in biceps with a change in my gut. That is, after my water retention as settled. And when I gain muscle, I should see an increase in my lower fat muscle groups that isn’t accompanied by a big gut increase.

Lastly, even if I do see an increase in both I need ask myself, “Is it worth it?”. Is 4 inches on your gut worth .5 inch on your arms. Probably not. But a smaller ratio may be all good and a sign to continue.

You have to measure to manage.

Don’t fear the tape, fear the ignorance.

-RK

Book Review: Hardcore Zen by Brad Turner

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hardcorezen
amazon.com

I listened to Hardcore Zen on audiobook about a month ago. I have been meaning to write this review but haven’t had the time. You may be wondering why I, the badass workaholic Ryan Koss, would want to listen to a book about Zen Buddhism? Might not seem to match up but I do believe that self-awareness is the key to success. And Buddhism puts big stock in self-awareness. I had also always wondered what the “zen” part was all about. So here we go, let’s get into it.

First off, the book is read by the author which is really the only way to go. Brad is clearly committed to his book and his passion comes through in the reading. But not necessarily his passion for Buddhism. Which is the problem; instead, Brad maintains the sometimes juvenile punk rebellion attitude that marks the the subtitle of the book and shows his passion for passing judgment more than anything else. Now that’s not to say I minded or that I didn’t get anything out the book, but before you get your hands on this you should know that this isn’t a peace, love and everyone is nice type book. At some points it feels like Brad is trying so hard to live up the image of “not your typically Zen master” that he is just playing a character.

But what do I know. We could be getting pure Brad.

The general theme that I got from the book is that Buddhism and the punk aesthetic have one major thing in common: the drive to question authority. Buddhism teaches it’s practitioners that there is no self, that there is no reality as you know it. That the self and ego is an illusion. The ego, to me, is the ultimate authority in our lives and to challenge it is the challenge everything we have be taught that we have to believe. Nothing more punk than that.

I always struggle to see how Buddhism doesn’t just turn into Nihilism, but at the same time I don’t see the problem with that. But that’s a post for another day.

If anyone of this talk sounds interesting to you I recommend you check out Brad’s book. I picked up for about $4 off of audible and it was worth the listen. By doing these reviews long after I finished the book I get to really see what stuck. And what was it with Hardcore Zen?

The author tells the story of the Buddha’s last words. After a lifetime of teaching anyone who would listen and developing a decent following (at least for a religious leader, Jesus didn’t do so hot), the Buddha’s follows gathered around him at his death bed and asked him how they could go on learning without his guidance.

The Buddha replied, “Be your own light.”

Which Brad interprets as a plea to see things for yourself. Don’t follow blindly, see for yourself. In the end, Brad invites the listener to take this same approach to Zen Buddhism.

Pretty awesome last words.

Be your own light.

-RK

 

 

Eccentric Training for Improved Mass and Technique

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You all know I love efficiency. If I can do two things at once (like driving and listening to an audiobook) than I am all about it. The trouble is, I am a big proponent of block periodization which basically says that you can only do one thing at once. However, adding eccentric focused training into your strength or volume phases can allow you to get more out of your block. More in term of technique and hypertrophy work. This is huge for powerlifting

First off, let’s go over what I am talking about here. The eccentric portion of the movement is the lowering portion. So for the squat, it is going into the hole. By focusing on the eccentric portion you are lowering more slowly than normal and extending your decent. Most of the time, this is done with triples for descents of 6 second, 4 seconds and 2 seconds respectively. I can tell you right now that 6 seconds feel like a long time with 400 hundo on your back so your best bet is to download a metronome app and let that count for you. Alternatively, you can just count to 8 or 10 knowing that it will be a bit fast.

By slowing down the movement you really train yourself to keep tight. Dropping into the whole with great speed makes it very hard to stay tight and braced throughout the movement. By exaggerating the motion you force yourself to stay tight- that is really the only you could even pull off a six second decent in the first place. Doing this kind of work has really helped me focus on some of the more elusive cues- like bracing your lats during any of the big three movements. You will have a very hard time performing a slow, controlled decent and by performing the lift in this way you effectively force your body to find its strongest position.

Now for hypertrophy. Exaggerating the decent allows you to increase the time under tension which means greater hypertrophy. By using this approach for time under tension you can still keep the weight heavy and continue to focus on strength focused training.

Improved technique, hypertrophy and general badassness. What’s not to like?

Definitely roll with a spotter on these though. You can get gassed pretty quickly and sometime unexpected. You wouldn’t want to have to do the roll of shame.

 

Go get stronger

-RK

Three Reasons Audiobooks Are Amazing

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I love audiobooks. I love making the most out of an otherwise uneventful and frustratingly useless drive. I drive quite a bit, 25 minutes to the gym, 20 minutes from the gym to work and another 20 minutes home. That’s over an hour a day. Just by listening primarily in the car I have been able to consume roughly one 4-6 hour audiobook a week for the last 10 weeks. That’s just awesome.

  1. The Limits of Your Language Are The Limits of Your World

This is a quote that I remember hearing in high school but never knew who it was attributed to. Google tells me that it links up to Ludwig Wittgenstein.  According to Wikipedia, our homeboy Wittgenstein “argues that language has an underlying logical structure, a structure that provides the limits of what can be said meaningfully. The limits of language, for Wittgenstein, are the limits of philosophy.” I think the limits of language argument struggles when it comes to basic ideas like naming things. The word “bird” for example is most likely tied with an image in your head but understanding your fear of vulnerability or the finer points of essentialism is much more difficult to connect to an image.

And in that way, I tend to agree with the idea that your vocabulary limits your understanding of philosophy but also your ability to communicate this with anyone. While listening to Essentialism by Greg McKeown I often found points that resonated deeply with me but realized I had never been able to develop a language to communicate the philosophy that I had already been working on in many ways.

One of those ways is simply saying “no” in favor of focusing on priorities. In other words, however truthy it sounds, you can’t always do both. If I want to perform to the best of my ability tomorrow morning in the gym, I can’t go out the night before. Obvious I know but often our default is to say yes. By saying yes too often, we spread ourselves too thin. This is type of “I can do everything” attitude is heavily promoted by our culture. I know many of these things to be true but the book provided not only the philosophy but a language to evaluate things with. I have no doubt this has expanded my philosophical world.

2.  Passive Income (of knowledge)

Everyone wants everything good to happen without having to do anything. That’s what passive income really means- making money without having to anything. This desire is why people are able to sell those electromagnetic pulse things that are supposed to burn fat. People want an easy way.

While you will always get more through active listening, audiobooks do provide a way to absorb knowledge that you would otherwise simply not get. Even better, if you feel like you didn’t get the whole picture just listen again. I find ideas from audiobooks popping up in my head throughout the day. Ideas that in the moment did not register as hugely significant. I’m not saying I’m learning through osmosis here but I do believe that I am able to absorb information in a passive way. The most important thing to consider here is that the majority of time I listen to audiobooks is time that would be simply driving the same route I drive every day.

3.  Attitude Adjustment

What if you took an hour a day to listen to positive ideas. To hear about how it is possible to do what you want to do and to see a plan laid out before. To apply the plan to your own goals. If you took an hour a day to do this do you feel it would improve your life?

What if instead of listening to the catalogue of failures provided by the news you spent an hour a day listening to the blueprints of success used by others. Do you think it would change the way you think?

You are a product of your surroundings. So ask yourself, what do you what to be surrounded with?

I know that listening to audiobooks has improved my overall attitude simply by adding a positively and optimism that I may not otherwise be able to find.

Audiobooks are a critical part of my self development and allow me to consume more information than the average person while still having time to apply this information and push forward.

Don’t miss out.

-RK

 

Three Ways to “Buy” More Time

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I have 8,760 hours in a year. Every year. For as many years as I have left. How many do you have?

 

Hours in a year

The exact same amount. Everyone has 365 days and 8,760 hours a year to get done what they need to get done. Keep this in mind when you look at your heroes- they have no advantage in time whatsoever. Or do they? There are ways to “buy” time and focus on the most important tasks in your life. You are the only one who can complete what I often call “you” tasks. Only you have access to your own creativity or knowledge and there are many tasks in your life that require your specific skill set. This article for example. I could easily pay someone to write this article based on a three sentence outline. But it wouldn’t look like this and it wouldn’t reflect my personal creativity and experiences. I have made the deliberate decision that this article is a “you” task. What are yours?

Here are my top three ways to cut the non-essential and focus on the “you” projects:

1. Virtual Assistants

Remember, a “you” task requires your own creativity. Creativity can’t be boiled down or automated. On the other hand, anything that you always do the same way or that you can write a protocol for can be delegated or done by anyone. Enter the virtual assistant. The way I use my virtual assistant (VA) is by asking myself “If X happens do I always do Y?” This comes up a lot with scheduling, emails, book keeping, travel plans and data analysis. For example, during a recent trip to visit family in Florida I gave my VA the dates and they handled the rest. If I find the cheapest, no layover flight at a reasonable time do I book it? Yes, so it’s easy to ask a VA to do it. Booking flights and rental cars is not a “you” task. You know your tasks better than anyone and I am sure you have already started a long list of tasks a VA could complete for you- but how much will this cost?

A VA for general work (as described above) will run you about $500 a month. If your workload is small and you just need a couple hours of help (my personal scenario) you can pick up a VA for about $200 a month. For a full guide on hiring a VA check out
this article.

2. House Cleaning Service

I hate cleaning. But I do love a clean house. The problem is my tolerance for a messy place is high. Like “I can’t possibly let a person into this house” high. It would be easier to say I was out of town and band of squatters took over than explaining my lack of cleaning. Not to mention this task is clearly not a “you” task. Now even with maids you will have to keep up with some day to day cleaning but you can have a cleaning service come by on a twice a month basis (at least) to get everything looking good. If you’re living the single life have your maids come by on Friday night- you know, just in case.

This is standard operating procedure.
This is standard operating procedure.

There are a lot maids of questionable immigration status that run freelance house cleaning- I would not recommend this. Hiring someone like this puts you in the position of employer rather than client since they are typically not covered by any insurance should they get injured or damage anything. The big companies on the other hand cycle through so many people you get a different person every time. The sweet spot is finding a good local service. Do a google search for a service- or if you happen to live in the Castle Rock/Denver area you can use my local house cleaning maids.

3. Meal Prep and Delivery

Meal preparation is the real limiting factor in the success of most casual lifters. It takes a lot of time if you don’t know what you’re doing. While I have it down to a science, it took a while to get there and meal delivery played a big part in the process. I will still stock up from time to time just for a change of pace or if I have a busy week. I have even had meals delivered to my hotel when cooking wasn’t an option. There are a ton of options out there but the best value is B-Elite Fuel.

Picking up these meals not only saves you time cooking but also at the grocery store which is an absolute time trap.

You are probably thinking- “I can’t afford this crap!” Well. Maybe you can’t afford this stuff because you are spending your time cleaning, cooking and hunting down flights rather than flexing your hustle muscle.

Get at it!

-RK

Fat Loss- Rhino Style!

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Who is Stan “The Rhino” Efferding?

Stan “The Rhino” Efferding is an IFBB bodybuilder who also holds the all-time raw world powerlifting record in the 275 pound weight class without wraps with a 2,226.6 pound total. This article is a video summary of the fat loss portion of an interview between Mark Bell and Stan Efferding. Stan covers a wide range of topics including the training of professional atheletes and how he went from 140 pound college kid to the 280 pound shredded world record holder that he is today.

Fat Loss Basics

Stan asserts that it is nearly impossible to talk about fat loss beyond the basics. All of the possible mental and physical variations between lifters make it useless to true and offer one plan that works for everyone. Stan has two basic tenants for fat loss: focus on calories in vs calories before worrying about all the other details of specific foods and macros and try to achieve this calories deficit by increasing workload and lean body mass rather than simply decreasing calories. Put simply, move more. Stan focuses maintaining muscle mass throughout all of this by keeping protein intake high. Lean body mass increases your body’s capacity to burn fat and should be valued as the most important tool for long term fat loss and increased performance. Stan is always quick to point out that you don’t grow in the gym but you also don’t lose fat in the gym. In fact, one of Stan’s popular articles on training, and one that any athlete should read periodically in this internet age of over complication, is titled “Powerbuilding: You Don’t Grow In The Gym”

These are the basics that apply to all lifters. Stan notes that, “Beyond that[the above guidelines] we’re really going to be into specifics for people’s personal needs.”

What are you telling your body?

Long term you want more lean body mass. According to Stan, when you engage in endurance cardio what are you telling your body is:

“Hey I need to be able to perform this activity for an extended period of time. And muscle tissue is heavy. It has a high nutrient demand, it has a high oxygen demand, it has a high water demand. So immediately when talking about jogging etcetera for an extended period of time walking the treadmill or even the step mill I think that you are setting yourself up for failure long term because you are going to start slowing your metabolism you’re going to start getting rid of the muscle tissue that’s so valuable, the engine that burns the fuel[fat].”

Additionally, this lose of muscle mass will decrease performance and make any athlete more prone to injury. Stan’s focus is anyone who values performance, not just those that want to get in a little exercise. Additionally, this focus on workload allows the athlete to eat more food which improve adherence the specific of the diet and also improves the length of time the overall approach can be used.

Calories In VS Calories Out

Efferding reminds viewers that, “First and foremost, its calories in calories out. The macros are only marginally as important.” Still, Stan keeps the focus on increasing workload first to find the deficit rather than starting with cutting food. The diet should be trained drastically- try to stick with foods that are close to what you are already eating. The goal is the achieve a reasonable caloric intake with decent quality of food. The details will come as you progress and will be specific to you. As you keep improving and reaching goals you have remember that, “you gotta start taking yourself somewhere your body hasn’t been before if you want it to change.”

How to Increase Calories Expenditure with Workload?

Efferding supports HIIT (high intensity interval training) in multiple variations. The goal is to get the heart rate up. This can be by supersetting similar body parts, pushing the prowler, running stairs or anything that involves short, explosive bursts of power. Other options include high repetition compound movements like 20 rep sets of squats. Again, the specifics of how you get your heart rate up is not critical but being consistent is. It will take effort to stick with a workout that truly gasses you like HIIT or 20 rep squats will. Improvement to your cardiovascular health will occur faster than other training. You will see rapid improvement over a period of weeks.

Improved Recovery

Not only will you improve your overall metabolism and work capacity, or as Louie Simmons says your GPP,but you will increase your ability to do complete more volume during your training sessions and your ability to recovery from that training. Stan sums it up by explaining that, “If your weakness is your cardio. That’s another huge factor in terms of your recovery. Because the better your cardio is the higher your red blood cell count the thicker your blood volume all those things contribute to healing the damage after the fact and if your not in somewhat good condition its going to take you longer to recovery from those workouts therefore you can’t train as often and that becomes a very important part of your progress.”