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What you need to know if you’re worried about your genetic potential. (Especially if you’re not Ramanujan.)

Much ado is made about muscle building and fat loss genetics.

I would know.

I used to try to calculate my genetic potential using mathematical formulas (like this one). I used to be the pimply poster boy for worrying about genetics.

I have a skinny frame. I can wrap my hand around my opposite wrist and touch pinky finger to thumb. I don’t have a square hulk jaw. Most muscular dudes have a big body frame with the alpha male hulk jaw.

I’m tall at 6’4″. Most acrobats are smaller.

I had a solid layer of body fat on me as a teenager. A lot of successful guys in the body composition space have never wrestled with body fat and are naturally lean.

Truth is…

I’m still kinda’ sorta’ the same pimply poster boy.

I still think about my genetic potential. Because genetics ARE important. You’d be a fool to completely ignore genetics.

But I no longer worry about my genetic potential.

Even if Casey Butt’s calculator is true…

…does it matter?

Maximum muscular potential is the goal. Even if you want to gain some muscle without  being as muscular as you could possibly be, the goal remains: be somewhat more muscular.

But goals make for bad focus. Focus on the system instead. (And if this doesn’t make sense, read this.)

Building muscle, losing fat, jumping higher, chucking backflips, eating nachos and drinking beer without getting fat …

I just bought a pill that promised me all of this for only $147, plus tax. And shipping. And handling. And fondling.

…it’s nice to WANT these things. But this stuff doesn’t happen outta’ nowhere. You have to make it happen. You have to go to war against your body. It wants to zig. You need to make it zag.

Have you ever thought about what it means to change your body? Because the whole process blows my mind.

Do I look like a serial killer? Who thinks about this? The people selling the pill aren’t telling me I have to think about anything. What is this…Soviet Russia?

Anthony Mychal mind blown

Picture this…

You own a car. You don’t like the way your car looks or performs. If you do nothing, nothing will change. Zig. So if you want to upgrade the thing, you have to get your hands dirty. Zag.

Want a more powerful engine? Then take out the old engine and put in a new one. Want tires with better tread? Then take off the old tires and put on new ones. Want better…you get the idea.

This is the only thing you’ve ever said that makes any sense.

With a car, you take out the old. You install the new.

Now you’re in the business of upgrading your body. If you do nothing, nothing will change. Zig. But there are no auto body shops with spare superhuman organs lying around. You don’t take out old parts and put in new superpower infused parts.

There might be an abandon looking house owned by a slightly maladjusted human that has some spare body parts lying around, but I’m not sure that’s some place you want to visit. And I doubt those spare parts are “superhuman.”

You have to reach into your guts and twist nobs, ring bells, and blow whistles.

I can’t believe you said “blow”.

But how do you reach into your guts when you can’t even fit your elbow into your ear?

You don’t.

If your Ramanujan maybe you already understand this psychedelic process. I know I didn’t. I’m still not sure I understand how it all works. I’m not sure I want to confidently understand anything biological because, more often than not, years down the line, those people look insane. I’m sure the guys that invented leaching and lobotomies thought they were onto something.

Way to protect yourselves from the trolls. The old, “I know nothing, so don’t listen to me, this is just a very private journal of mine that also happens to be public, as if I never intended for anyone else to see it even though I’m writing to a reader” technique. This is about as clever as your italicized inside voice technique.

This is a mental model that looks at why the body zigs and what you can do to make it zag. (Without having that whole kalima thing done to you.)

And the crazy part?

Everyone — no matter background, genetics, steroids, other drugs, macaroni and cheese, senzu beans, no matter WHAT — uses the same single simple recipe to hijack their body (and mind) in order to get leaner, build muscle, jump higher, do backflips, and master movements.

This is what we’re here to uncover.

The one recipe.



Follow the white rabbit.


May the Gains be with you,




And if you’re still wondering…

but my genetics…?

Do me a favor. Right now. Think about getting a call from your doctor. You pick up the phone. He says, “You have cancer.” Or think of getting a call from someone you’ve been “hanging” around. She calls. Says, “Sorry I didn’t tell you this, but I’m HIV positive.”

If you’re remotely human, thinking those thoughts made your heart rate jump a bit. Maybe they made you feel flush. Just like when, at 2AM on some random Tuesday, just as you’re about to fall asleep, you hear a noise in your house and your eyes spring open and your heart pounds rapidly into your ribcage…even though you didn’t even move a muscle.

You CAN change what’s going on inside of you. And if you can change how things inside of you work with thoughts, just imagine what eating, sleeping, and training can change.

Goals are good, but they aren’t enough. (Here’s the one other thing you need.)

Goals are childish.

Important? Absolutely.

But childish.

Goals are one of the first things you’re asked about when you get into fitness.

What are your goals?

A construction worker might wanna’ get rid of chronic back pain and get lean. A new father might wanna’ barbell and bodyweight train for muscle in the most time efficient way…maybe even from home.

A first year college kid might wanna’ sleep around without getting STDs.

You get the idea.

Goals are the Land of Oz to Dorothy. Movie would have sucked if there was no Land of Oz. No one cared about Toto and Aunt Em. The real action was with Oz the Great and Powerful.

Goals are the guide, but also childish.

A five year old has goals.

Mommy, mommy, I wanna bicycle!

We should rename goals for what they really are: wants. And wanting is easy. I want a lot of stuff.

I want one million dollars. I want an infinite supply of peanut butter. I want to drink imperial stouts. I want to look good naked. I want to deadlift 600 pounds and then immediately do ten consecutive backflips.

I got lots of goals.

And now that my goals are established…

…what’s next?

Usually nothing.

Goals sit in the back skulls gathering cognitive dust. Because goals guide you to where you want to go, but they don’t tell you HOW to get there.

This is why you need systems.

Dorothy wanted to get to the Land of Oz. Cool. How was she going to get there? The yellow brick road. 


Once you have goals, you need systems. The gist of a system = HOW you’re going to reach your goals.

Want to be more muscular. OK. How are you gonna’ make it happen? I’m going to go to the gym four days per week and touch a barbell in some way, shape, or form.

Want a more “X” shaped physique? OK. How are you gonna’ make it happen? I’m going to stop flat benching. I’m going to incline press at least once per week. I’m going to do rows with flared elbows once per week. I’m going to do chin-ups as if they were heroin (and I was a heroin addict).

Want to lose body fat? OK. How are you gonna’ make it happen? I’m going to start every meal with two fist sized portions of vegetables. I’m going to eat until I’m not hungry instead of until I’m full.

Starting to get a hang of the difference between goals and systems? Good. Because we aren’t done here. Not by a long shot.

It’s one thing to identify a system. It’s another thing to use a system.

And when it comes to using systems, most people make one giant mistake.

They rely too much on willpower.

Better systems = less willpower.

I’ll explain it in full next time.

If you get this message, then…

You’re keeping in touch with me in an antiquated way that’ll ensure you mayhem. The best way to keep in touch is to hop on board a new project of mine. It’s called the Level Up Letter…as of now. Because I played too many video games as a child and I lack creativity otherwise. Who knows what it will be called in two days, but the premise remains.

You’ll start seeing sign-up forms around my website for it. It’s going to be an informal email once or twice per week (promise) that’ll include everything from personal writings to books I’m reading to beers I’m enjoying to links I find useful.

But here’s the important part:

You have to sign up.

The perfect cure for people paralyzed by perfection


The perfect cure for people paralyzed by perfection

it’s been a long time since i felt this way.

i feel good. great, actually. i feel like i can breathe. i feel like i’m free.


i’m doing things as shitty as i possibly can.

it’s liberating. by doing things shittily, i’ve unlocked parts of me that were otherwise dormant.

i’ll explain ~

fitness is similar to writing, so i’ll start with writing.

in Rework the author(s) write: when it doubt, hire the better writer.


our brain is a cesspool of input. it’s hard to stay afloat. even when you do, you’re still surrounded by garbage. good writing is a sign of being able to organize thoughts and construct ideas despite your brain brewing in brine.

and that’s really the hard part: the structure. being able to see the pieces of the puzzle and wondering…is this stuff better off over here or over there?

the hard part about writing isn’t having thoughts or finding information. no one has talker’s block, as Seth Godin often says. the hard part about writing is being able to deal with the following idea: whatever you create probably won’t be perfect.

so now let’s look at biological fitness demons.

there’s a common link between writing and fitness: perfection.

the hard part about fitness isn’t finding a diet or a program. Google either of them right now. the number of hits will be stupid.

the hard part is, instead, being able to deal with the idea that whatever you pick probably won’t be perfect.

when you search and strive for perfection, it’s a struggle.

but when you strive to do things intentionally shitty…?

the game changes.

when you try to write perfect, you’re like a mother…

…that just dropped her newborn daughter on her head.

on concrete.

covered in thumb tacks.

you have every reason to unlock MAX WORRY because nothing in your vision tells you otherwise.

are the commas in place? is the paragraph long enough? what about punctuation? i want to shove a pencil into my cornea.

and you end up spinning your wheels trying to fine tune details that don’t really matter to anyone but you. and, even then, they don’t REALLY matter.

Mega Man shitty spelling fail


is this missing capital letters? good punctuation? yes, yes, yes, yes. it’s shitty.

but what’s the point of writing? to have perfect grammar? or to transfer thoughts and ideas and stories from my head to yours?

now look at the opposite.

the pursuit of perfection. i could have spent a zillion more hours editing this. obsessing over every last detail. trying to make this super perfect.

and if i’da done this i probably never would have hit publish. (you don’t want to see the amount of things i’ve written that no one knows about…not even me, because i’ve forgotten about them).

perfection, more often than not, leads to procrastination, panic, and punking out.

…the OPPOSITE of the point of writing.


i’m not using punctuation well right now. i’m not using capital letters. i’m doing it for a reason. i’m purposely letting myself write shittily without care for perfection. when i do this, my writing changes. lots.

because when you eliminate the need to be perfect, you enable the ability to be SOMETHING.

that didn’t sink home hard enough, so let me say it differently…

when you try being perfect, you often end up being nothing. because the perfection prevents you from doing much of anything.

when you allow yourself to be shitty, you’re allowing yourself to be SOMETHING because you’re actually going to get something done.

words, words, words. word. word. words, words, words.

example ~

i know of lots of people that don’t strength train because they don’t think they have the perfect training program.

it sounds stupid, but i still find myself falling into this category here and there. you go to the gym, you’re ready to do work. but then you wonder…well, if this isn’t a good routine then what am i doing?

then you don’t give food effort. you mope around.

same goes for finding and using the “perfect” diet or food plan or whatever the cool kids call it these days.

perfection is a heavy weight to lunk around. perfect is a lot of pressure.

no one wants that kind of pressure. i know i don’t.

so it’s easier to do nothing.

…but what would happen if you let yourself be shitty?

Here’s what would happen:


…because the stakes are so much lower.

what holds us (me) back often is the ANTICIPATION of mistakes, not necessarily MAKING the mistakes.

and the layer atop this (the moral) = mistakes don’t render the product useless.

this isn’t to say mistakes 100% don’t matter. making better grammar choices might make this easier to read. but the purpose is served. i’m communicating an idea. if you made it this far, it’s working.

  • should you squat two or three times per week?
  • should you do six or five reps?
  • should you rubber buns and then liquor?

chances are the mistakes you think you’re going to make aren’t going to change the eventual output all that much. the point will be made.

and besides…

what’s better –

  • doing no work for fear of perfection.
  • doing shitty work.

and even if you’re doing shitty work that’s really shitty — i’m talking about shitty work where the mistakes DO matter — like if i were trying to write this like sFGREOGUVFsafhhkg e qehehb dafgfd hadh dhfadfh bdafdhafghtrh

at the least, doing shitty work will get you into the habit of doing work. from there you can then learn how to do better work. and it’ll be a lot easier because you’re used to doing work.

as said here (which was my inspiration):

Practice makes perfect, but awful makes practice.

but some of the skill searchers might be popping up a red flag.

this goober doesn’t know anything. practice makes permanent. the only practice that makes perfect is perfect practice. i’ll leave him and his poopy antics to himself.

re: doing no work for fear of perfection.

1-UP: even the best artists start with a sketch.

it’s customary to end writings with something that’ll get the reader to remember the main message. something that’ll spark warmth and fuzz inside the belly.

that’s the perfect scenario.

which is why i’m going to instead leave you with a picture of toast.

powdered toast.

powdered toast man.


 Powdered toast man

General organism strength: the what and the why

Not all strength is equal.


  • You can get stronger using a pec deck machine.
  • You can get stronger using the bench press.
  • You can get stronger using push-ups.

You can build strength lots of ways, but the effects will vary pending what you’ve gotten stronger at.

We’re talking about strength because strength is good for physique and performance. (Although, surprise surprise, the relationship isn’t linear.)

But now it’s time to talk about the exercises to use for strength training, otherwise you can be hammering away at “strength training” without getting as much benefit possible.

I kind of blew the pooch earlier: freeweight and bodyweight training are different beasts than most other forms of training.

And this is where using machine training as a reference point becomes useful.

You can feel the burn on machines, man! And they’re so much safer than those circular hunks of iron! Right? So if you can still feel your muscles work, then what’s the matter?

But there’s something special about you moving and controlling your body through gravity…and then beyond gravity. And when you think about freeweight and bodyweight training, that’s all you’re doing.

Every time you stand up from the toilet, you’re working against gravity, but—really—it’s similar to lifting a barbell. Imagine yourself on Jupiter, standing up from the same toilet. If you weigh 220-pounds here, you’d weigh 529-pounds on Jupiter.

Sit on the Earthly toilet, load up a barbell with a cumulative 309-pounds, and then put the barbell on your back. You have Jupiter living conditions. Now stand up.

How’s this different than, say, machine training?

Because you have to consider the totality of stress. And there are two factions of stress.

Local stress is strain on the structures involved. You can make a simple muscle contraction very locally stressful just by contracting as hard as you can.

  • Flex your bicep as hard as you can.
  • Lockout your knee and flex your quad as hard as you can.
  • Stand up, then try touching your heel to your butt — contract your hamstring as much as possible.

Global stress goes beyond and looks at how the exercise effects you, as an organism. Because training stress is much, much, much more than muscular stress.

As Buddy Morris once said:

The stress of training is greater than that of a broken bone because it encompasses the entire system. It encompasses the cardiac, cardiopulmonary, detoxification, hormonal, metabolic, central nervous system, neuromuscular, and […] immune system. That’s all affected by training. And those systems do not recover at the same time.

So, yes, training directly stresses the structures involved. The bones, the muscles, the tendons, the ligaments, et cetera…

But it also stresses structures that influence the rest of your body. The nervous system you use to contract your muscles in a squat is the same nervous system you use to write with a pencil.

Training causes different degrees of total organism stress. This global training effect was coined general organism strength (by a pretty famous sprint coach named Charlie Francis, I believe).

Every exercise delivers a local hit (to the muscles and structures directly involved) as well as a global hit (to the entire organism).

Think of getting the flu. Your entire body goes out of whack (fever-global), but there’s also a very specific response to the thing that’s doing the damage (antibodies-local).

Your body is selectively dealing with a specific pathogen (benching stressing the chest and triceps), but you also have a fever because of the general immune response.

This is why sedentary people can get stronger in the squat (or even the bench press) by bike riding. The activity stresses you, as an ORGANISM, on a global level. And if you aren’t very trained, this global stress bleeds throughout your entire body.

Charlie Francis had his sprinters do heavy bench pressing a few days prior to a competition to serve as a general-global hit to the organism. This kept his athlete’s “fresh” and “trained” without stressing the legs.

Global stress also explains the crossover effect. If you have an injured limb, training the uninjured limb also strengthens (or retains strength within) the injured limb.

And even more? Pavel Tsatsouline often says, to retain strength during an absence from training, train your midsection and your grip.

Think of general organism strength as a power level or a “level” in an RPG. It tells you about your potential abilities, but, at the same time, it tells you nothing about your specific abilities.


In general, exercises that have low global impact are for the birds. This is why methods like dynamic tension by Charles Atlas didn’t quite prove effective.

But what impacts global stress?

Lots of things:

  • Used percentage of maximum ability (% 1RM). The closer to your max you train, the more global the stress gets.
  • Number of muscles involved. The more muscles that are involved, the more global the stress gets. So a deadlift (in which your legs, back, and grip are heavily taxed) is much much much more stressful than a bicep curl.
  • Body position (standing, seated). Standing exercises are typically more stressful because there’s more muscle mass involved. Takes a lot of energy to stabilize your body in space.
  • Total weight lifted. A bench press can be more taxing than an overhead press even though it’s done lying down simply because you can press a whole lot more weight during the bench press.
  • Specific muscles involved. The hand and feet are neurologically intensive areas. If you do a lot of intense grip work, your system will be more fatigued than if you could have gotten away without using your hands. (Think of a deadlift with straps vs. a deadlift without straps.)
  • Level of psycho-physiological arousal. Bashing your head against the wall and listening to Trivium will zap you more than being relaxed and listening to classical music. DON’T LET THE RESIVOIR DOGS KNOW YOU’RE LIFTING.
  • Complexity of movement. Complex movements are more stressful. More joints, more muscle mass. But also more mental energy (to fathom the complexity).
  • Novelty. New things are more stressful than old things.

The best way to think about it: how close am I to moving my body through space in a way that opposes gravity?

The more supergravity the conditions, and the more holistic the conditions (spread across your body), the bigger the general stressor.

Ah, yes — perhaps now you see a little why getting stronger within freeweight and bodyweight training are preferred.

Now, this isn’t exactly shelling out the darkest parts of my programming philosophy. I’ll get to that soon though. (Hint: slow cook the global, make it boring…have fun with the local, keep it fresh.)

First, onto the why of strength. Next letter, of course…