My drink of choice when I’m out and about is a variant of a martini that I call a “smartini”. It’s nothing but a double-shot of vodka on the rocks, with olives, and some olive juice thrown in.
I order it exactly like that, with my favorite reasonably priced vodka, Monopolowa (the ‘w’ is pronounced like a ‘v’, if you want to sound cool).1
The dirty vodka smartini is basically just a martini without the vermouth. If you’re a vermouth fan, close your ears!
Why would I waste space in my glass that could be filled by something good… like more vodka?
I know what I want and I’m going to ensure that’s what I get.
Your Strength Training Routines Should Be Like A Smartini
I like to start off conversations with beginners, or people who come to our seminars, by asking them what their goals are — in detail.
FAR too often I get one of two responses:
- A long list of answers, each totally incompatible with the others.
A wishy-washy answer that tells me this person hasn’t seriously considered the question before.
Neither of those is going to result in goal-reaching! These are people who don’t have goals, they have dreams.
Dreams and goals are opposites of one another.
The first is fancy, and pantsy, and up in the clouds, full of glitter and happy thoughts. The second is hard, boring, and full of failures that actually lead to successfully reaching said goal.
I don’t have dreams, I have goals.
The PROBLEM is that goal-reaching requires FOCUS. And focus is hard enough to come by in the first place, let alone maintain for any length of time.
That’s where Vodka can come to your rescue!
Imagine that you are a new member of our gym, Asheville Strength, and you have decided your goal (not dream!) is to be an Olympic Weightlifter. Here’s what your first year of work will look like, in a nutshell:
- Vodka: Squats & heavy pulls done constantly, all the damn time, no mercy.
Olives: Snatches done for uber-quality and awesomeness, NOT weight. (Sometimes you will go heavy, most of the time you will work on facing fear, going fast, and being beautiful.)
Ice: Ninja Nemesis: Chin ups, push ups, core work, mobility and flexibility, etc. You will master this shit as though your life depends on it.
The Vodka (squats/pulls) is there to ensure that you maximize how strong you can get. Strength, pure unadulterated brute strength, must be gained as fast as you can gain it. If you can’t squat 200 pounds, you sure as hell ain’t gonna snatch it.
The Olives (Snatches) are all about quality. It takes years to get even marginal snatches. That’s a good thing! That’s what makes them so awesome. The downside is that you can’t go bro-ing out, gunning for big weights all the time. You don’t have the skills yet to lift heavy weights. You DO have the power to give yourself the time to build those skills.
The Ice (Ninja work) makes you cool. It also keeps you from getting injured! I don’t want to hear about how much of an awesome athlete you are if you can’t even do a single chin up. If you are a BIG superheavy, I might let you pass on that. 2 But, everyone else has no excuse. Strict, clean, ninja-like chins and push ups are a bare minimum for me to believe you are a real athlete. 3
We can sum up all of this work like this: quality first, then as much of that quality as humanly possible. No upper limits, so long as the quality is there.
No crap, no bullshit, no lying to yourself.
Just a fuck-shit-ton (as our lifter Eli is fond of saying, and putting into practice) of quality work on the basics, nothing more.
When In Doubt, Leave It Out
You’re biggest problem in life is a lack of focus over the long-haul. (OK, I don’t know that for sure, but statistically, I’ve got a good chance of being right.)
You want to get good at deadlifts, marathons, you want abs, and huge legs, you want to speak 14 different languages, and you want all the things.
Good news! You CAN have all the things.
Bad news! You CAN’T have all of them now.
If you want to learn Chinese AND Spanish, you can do that. But, you’ll have to learn them in succession, not at the same time.
That’s how our physical programs work.
EXAMPLE: For the entire first year of training, cleans and jerks are subclass citizens in our gym. Sure, you’ll do them, and you’ll do contest that require them. But you won’t be focusing on them — at all! And when push comes to shove, we always shove them out.
If you can snatch and you can squat, you can clean. There is no equivalent in reverse.
The clean is like vermouth. It’s nice and cute, but it ain’t essential. In your first year of training (or better yet, in your first FIVE years of training), spend ALL of your time hammering out the essentials and becoming a master of them.
The rest will come with time. Whether you take the time is up to you.
Stick to the basics, drink some vodka, chill out, and have fun. That’s a recipe for everything good in life.
Now go lift something heavy,
- A horribly sad fact of life is that I’ve found it impossible to find this wonderful Austrian brand of vodka, Monopolowa, here in Asheville. I’m on the hunt for an alternative if you have one. “Absolute” is not what the name suggests. ↩
- All of our supers can do chins. For instance, Zach, when he weighed 300+ pounds, at a height of 6’6”, and LONG arms even for that height, was able to do 9 chins in dead-hang style, strict. Hell, Tamara weighs 205 pounds right now, and she can do a chin up! No excuses. ↩
- When I say “real” athlete, what I mean is a person who seriously identifies as one. If you could care less, then that’s just as cool with me. It’s just for fun, anyways! But, if you go around bragging, and talking tough… but the only pull ups you can do are kipped… I’m not impressed. That just makes you a “bro”. ↩