Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Training Solves It All

I have been a little ....conflicted, lets say, about writing lately. Maybe what I write is taken the wrong way or that it smacks of sappiness for some or it is not enough about training or...but then I figured that if it helps one person, one person out there needing a voice to tell them that it is alright or that its gonna work out, or just take ACTION and you can do it also. SO, really, if this stuff is not your cup of tea, simply do not read it. Or start your own blog. That is it. Put yourself out there. Or simply live your life hiding behind the keyboard like a coward. Either way, this stuff is for the few hardy souls who test themselves with life, who are out there in the arena, pushing when they don't feel like it, pushing when the avalanche of life is coming down on them, those who lie awake at night, trying to sleep, but worried about all that life has thrown at them. 

And they keep glancing at the alarm clock. Shit! Its 1 am , now 2 am , 3 am....they take a sleeping pill or slam down a few shots of whiskey to help, and then around 4 am or something close to it, they drift off, only to have the alarm ring at 6am. 

All the problems are still there, all the worries are too, but you know that relief is just one workout away. SO you push snooze, and then get damn mad at yourself for doing it. You remind yourself that although things are bad, there are others out there who are worse off. There are others who would kill for a roof over their heads or for a nice warm bed, or to have people who love them. The kids in the mountains where the coal companies raped the land and then left , playing in the creek down the way that is polluted with chemicals. The  city kid who has no feelings about love or kindness because all that he has seen is cruelty. The kid whose Marine father was murdered in Tennessee and everybody just sweeps it under the rug. The kid who walks out of the doctor with a diagnosis of a terminal disease, not sure just what it all means, but one thing that he is sure of is that life right now feels a little different, and his parents are looking at him a little strangely,  and all the nurses and doctors are super nice , even more than usual, and MAN!, can't this just happen to someone else right now? Why me? 

And that alarm rings at 6am and you steel yourself to get up. You think that you have problems? 

Get up, coward. 

And you remind yourself of WILL OVER HOPE, and you think of all the fighting men from this country who have endured great hardship and still persevered and you say to yourself,

 And I can't get my ass up to train? So you get up.

You slug down 3 cups of coffee and then you let the dogs out in the backyard and you see how happy they are and you think, live your life like a dog. No worry, no thoughts of the future, no holding grudges, no hard feelings. No thoughts of death or disease. Feel sick? Slow it down for a few days, let the body take care of it. Feel energetic? Romp and play and live it up. Eat when hungry , find a human who loves you above all else. Then one day? One day it is over, but you lived it as well and hard and one hundred percent as you could live it.

Down to the basement to squat. You turn on the light, just a small lamp in the corner. You turn on some Judas Priest, old Judas Priest. Load 135 on the squat bar and crank out 20 reps. Your knees and hips sound like Rice Krispie's but you know that after the first set, a few beads of sweat will appear and your body will start to feel warm, so you persevere. Next is 225x10. It feels great and you put 2 more 45's on the bar. 315x8, 365x8 405x8. All deep. No belt, no wraps. 

Nobody watching you, nobody cheering you on. It is you and all you and that is what it is all about. No trophies or Workout Of The Day. Who needs that? You just need you and this therapy that someone invented long ago that you are damn thankful for.

 This a purge, a cleansing, and the weight doesn't matter and the sleep doesn't matter and what anybody in the world says or does does not matter, all that matters is the moment, or even the moments where you and only you are fighting the demons, fighting the weight, and pushing through no matter what, showing yourself that you have what it takes to endeavor to persevere no matter what  is going on in this fleeting thing that we call life. And you rack that last set and sit down and the dogs come over to you and they love on you and all of a sudden, you know, you just know, that you can handle whatever lies ahead.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Divorce is a bitch. You know anyone that is divorced? Bet that you do. Kids get pulled all around, mental anguish, bad feelings , good times, bad times, all of that and more. It messes up everyone, it just ain't the kids, it is everyone way on down the line: grandparents, friends, uncles and aunts and more and more .

My oldest son just flew home to his mother, my first wife.

and it sucks, choked up at the gate while he walks all by himself with his head down, disappearing. Walking until I can not see him anymore. Helpless feeling, strangers all around, those strange faces, nobody understands, want to drink whiskey until I no longer remember, but I can not, gotta take care of other kids, dogs, drive to home, two hours away. All the emotions bubbling to the surface, hate, pain, anger, sadness. Man the hell up and move on. Fight on, think of the other options. There are none but to fight it.

Out of my way, no it's okay, I  didn't mean it. Hug the wife, kids and dogs. Look into everyone's eyes to judge the love. It is there. They do not know what you are doing, and that is fine, it is all in your head, and your head is spinning and heavy and needs relief. Guess what?

It is life and it's a bitch just like most everything else in life, a total bitch. Good times interspersed with tons and tons of reality, what life is really about- death, disease, accidents, food and atmosphere poisoning you, life gets broken down and dies, pets die in your arms, you go to the doctor and get the worst news, you see your older relatives go from strong as hell to needing you for everything, or almost everything. And you feel bad for all the duties that you may have shirked because you were thinking about some girl in 8th grade while they needed your help.

 Looking past the bad times, ya gotta know, there is some good in there, but it is mostly good memories that you look back upon that delete the bad memories. You ever wonder if right now, right then, you are gonna remember this time? This great time with a sneaky suspicion, hell, not even a suspicion, a fact of life, that the great time that you are having is fleeting and here it comes-a bad time,  a black cloud hovering, bringing it on, like a tornado happening all of a sudden when you least expect it.

Well, expect it, it always comes. It's inevitable.

it's a freight train a coming round the bend. Red lights flashing, cross the tracks at your own peril.

What to do?

Savor the moment, that good moment, that great moment of love and hugs and all that is clear. Relish it, realize it and dive into it. It is all that you have.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Friend

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. He is a world famous strength coach. He is also a MD. The guy is smart. Really smart. He trains the most elite athletes in the world.  What is unique about him and what is most appealing to me about his makeup and philosophy is that he eschews all nonsense and goes with what works and throws all BS to the side. He does not waste one second of time on what might work regarding training. No time for that way of thinking. 

 I love to get him on the phone, because he validates a bunch of what I do but more importantly, his answers are to the point. Right to the point. He can expound on the sliding filament theory but he would rather talk mental toughness. Every time that I talk to him, I hang up the phone fired up to train.  

 So I called him because I was frustrated about gimmicks and visors and functional and collared shirts and talking shop and do you know this guy and what's the latest and chocolate milk and phasics and....and you know what he said to me?

"Sometimes it's as simple as, you have a weight on the ground, you pick it up. You have a weight on your back? Go down and stand up with it." Ah yes, the simplicity of the complicated that always comes back to the simplicity. Ground zero. And this is a guy who trains famous, zillionare athletes. They hang on his every word.

Because what he believes in, what he coaches, and mostly what he attributes the success of his athletes that he trains and is around every day is the mental toughness, the fortitude to get stuff done when others can not get it done or to get stuff done with an unshakeable belief that they will get it done. Programming is important, and coaching and rest and all of that. Yes, it plays a part. But in my friend's point of view, the guy who is shipwrecked and swims 10 plus miles to shore to survive is damn sure not concerned if he had his preworkout and peri workout and postworkout window of opportunity shake/meal/carbs/gycosupershake. The mental toughness and sheer will of resolve is what got him to shore. An isolated example? Yes, of course. But let us say that you use 50% of that drive and adrenaline and focus to get your training to super levels. Programming a ton of volume and weight and intensity will not matter much, because you will complete what ever is thrown your way. It's a mental toughness thing.

Also refreshing is the cut to the chase part of his programming.  Here is an example of what he faces on a daily basis- "So now, let's get this straight- you are never in an aerobic energy system in the sport that you play, but in order to get ready for your sport, you want to run five miles a day. Ok, makes sense. Have at it. But you will get slower, you won't be ready for a game and your chances of injury will increase." He makes his point.

And he believes that once you make a commitment, that is it. No backsliding. Supposed to have so much protein a day? Of course he gets it in. No cheat days? The mere word, cheat is silly. Why would he? Don't need it, made a commitment. He can have whatever he wants to eat, but he chooses to eat this way. Silly to even think about eating what isn't needed. Eight servings of veggies a day? Yep, every single day. Missed workout? Never. Too busy? Just an excuse. Got a cold? You will feel better when you get that training in. It's refreshing to be around him or to just talk to him. Slicing through the internet theories and the swole- til -you -die crowd with science, commonsense and brain power.

It's inspirational in it's simplicity. And it's comforting to hear it. Because it's real and it's the basic premise that all of this training stuff was built upon many years ago: Mental strength, dedication and common sense.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Stuff, Part Whatever

What you know good? That's a Southern expression (Anybody still allowed to be Southern? Or is everybody offended by the term? Sorry, some of the best folks I know are from there and black or white, don't give a damn what anybody thinks about them up in Yankeeland (offensive)or the rest of the world) picked up from my time in North Carolina, South Carolina and Central Florida. Like, what's good in your life? Or, what is happening?

I would like to think that there is a literal meaning to it, like, Is there any good damn news these days? Not a whole lot if you look at the major news coming out of everywhere. And of course, you have our servicemen getting murdered and nary a mention of it from the powers that be and they died for what? And doesn't it piss you off? And what is being done? Whitney Houston type sadness among the masses? White House mandate for flags at half mast? No? That's just common sense, isn't it? But I thought that common sense meant that our servicemen carried guns, also. I had no idea! Gotta be me, all messed up with my thinking.

If it was up to the PEOPLE, I believe, everything would be okay. The government stirs stuff up and tells folks what they ought to think and then it masks the real issues and then people start squabbling amongst themselves and then a new law comes out that take away more and more of our freedoms for some reason and the debt continues and a lady in San Fransisco is murdered for no reason because the "system"failed. And where, oh were is the outrage? Any marches?  I guess that issue does not buy enough votes.

I probably look at it all too simply. And it keeps me up at night, and for what? Can anyone keep the big steamrolling machine from crushing us all? You think that anyone in BIG WHATEVER cares about you? Nah, only folks that care about you are right in your face, and even then, you better watch your back. If you have 2 or 3 folks that will never stab you in the back, you are batting 1000. And it makes my heart beat fast thinking about all of it, and for what? Don't matter at all. Just watch TMZ, eat Cheetos and listen to Kathie Lee. And read People. Now I will fit in.

All rolling along and the world topples like a domino game in Luchenbach , Texas.

Maybe I should just write about lifting weights. Okay! Work hard. Work basic. Don't fool yourself. Train legs. Train for life.  For life. I had a guy tell me the other day that his dog ran way from him and he was like, WHOA, I have forgotten how to run! He forgot one of the basic human needs! Escape, chase, evade by running.  So he began to run again. That is life training and realizing what you need to survive. I reckon if you are driving to the gym on a sunny day to ride the elliptical or walk/run on the treadmill, you really don't get the whole life training way of thinking.

What else? Train any way that you want to train. But there is stuff that works better than other stuff. Grimek, Starr, Bednarski, Reeves, Franco, etc, knew it. Might as well read it, learn from it. And Mccallum. He knew his stuff. Lots of sets to get strong in most cases. Grease the groove. Older lifters train everyday, but short and intense and frequent. And fun. And you may find that you are limited on what you can do because of injuries so just do what you can, and work it into the dirt. And have an open mind. I saw where a Canadian bodybuilder , a pro, uses the Prowler for fat loss. That is thinking outside the box and using science against dogma. Good. Break the mold.  AND put your arms down. Arnold never walked like that, because he didn't want to be seen as a fool. Ah, you probably don't even know that you are doing it.

What else?  Hunt, fish, shoot, play catch, chop wood, get a dog, kiss your dog, talk to your dog, live life like a dog, drink good whiskey with good friends, sit alone and let it all go, laugh at it all, turn off the cell phone, see the other view point, run just for the hell of it, get punched in the face and smile, train without saying a word, look but don't speak, buy a tomahawk and throw it against a tree, hug someone unexpectedly when you just have an inkling that they need it, ask someone about themselves and just let them talk, read Hemingway's short stories before they are banned, get a great knife, listen to METAL and the Highwaymen.

 And fish. And marvel at the silence of an evening, an evening alone, just before dusk, when you are fishing in a farm pond for bass. Can you just picture it? If you have never experienced it, get out there.  Because at those times, it isn't the size of your rims or the shoes you wear or the latest anything trend and it doesn't matter that your opinion is squashed among so many others. It is your time and just your time. It is simply the moment. And when you are there, when you are experiencing the special moments, it doesn't matter if the fish are biting or not.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cristi's Final Deadlift

Cristi Bartlett dropped down to the 185 pound USAPL class(from 198) to qualify for the Nationals last weekend. She squatted 330, benched 248 and deadlifted a national record 501. Here is the 501. She shows a lot of drive and fortitude when finishing this lift. 


Friday, July 10, 2015

I Am Offended

With everybody so offended by every tiny little thing these days, I decided to put a list together of some TRULY offensive things in this world that need to be banned tout de suite!

Words, bad drivers who won't let you merge into a lane, long red lights, big trucks that cut me off, rap music, doughnuts with not enough cream(or creme), CNN, New York City, Flags that sorta look like American flags but really aren't, knives made in China, reality shows, 2 wheel drive pick up trucks, the term "talk shop", cheering of any kind, high fives, celebrations of any kind, rap music, dancing except for slow dancing at the 5th and 6th grade dance at Cherokee Lane Elementary in the late 70's, Three's Company(objectifies women, makes fun of Mr. Roper), high squatters,  rounded back deadlifter's, neighbors that don't wave back to me, whistling, fu manchu's, Wayne Dyer (bare feet), mountain climbing, strength coaches that don't lift weights, politicians, Jane Fonda, vegetable juices, smoothies, Game of Thrones, safety patrols, security guards without guns, small parking spaces, hula hoops, clapping, collared shirts, loudspeakers at drive throughs, coaching shorts, grunting tennis player's, motel's, fish that won't bite, geese that won't come into the decoys, rap music, the terms "grande" and "venti", People who wave at the camera when they are in the background of a TV show, little dumbbell's, 35 pound plates(big time!), honor roll bumper stickers, bumper stickers in general, car dealership's service departments, BOTTLED WATER, grocery clerks(miserable), expensive beer, licking fingers, PEOPLE THAT LICK THEIR FINGERS BEFORE OPENING A BAG WHEN YOU ARE BUYING WHAT THEY ARE PUTTING IN SAID BAG. KEEP YOUR SPIT TO YOURSELF. Katie Couric,  Andy Griffith when Opie got old, little furry dogs, all cats, tighty whities(weird), no see 'em socks, Kiss now that they got old, Andy Griffith when it was in color, and finally, rap music. Offended by all. Please remove or I am gonna freak out. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Better Back Then Part 3

It seems to me that it was a very short time ago when I began training with weights, but it was almost forty years ago. There have been some memories packed into all those years.

 As a little kid, I used to roll the small weight set from under my Dad's bed, do some curls and then put it back before he saw me. He thought it would stunt my growth. A lot of people thought that way in the 1970's. 

My first memory of seeing people train was when I used to roam the basement of Cole Field House at the University Of Maryland. My Father's office was down there and that's where I would hang out in the summer. I couldn't have been more than six or seven at the time. There was a gym, a dark and dank gym, down some steps at the end of a long corridor in the basement. The door would be open and I would peak in. Huge guys were in there doing squats and chin-ups and benches. They had sweatpants on or jeans and had their wrists taped with white athletic tape. They would look up, see me there, and then get back to their sets. That place scared the crap outta me. It was so strange back then to lift weights. I mean, nobody lifted weights back then, but I was drawn to it for some reason, maybe the secrecy of it all appealed to me, I don't know.

 And then a few years later, I would go to the Maryland Football weight room and watch the players lift. Intensity! And you know what? There wasn't a coach in there. They had a program to do, written on the wall. They surely did not need a coach to motivate them. They were pushing each other, exhorting each other on, heaving 120 pound dumbbells for curls, benching 315 and up for reps. Mike Mentzer trained there when he was in town. I watched him do seated behind the neck presses while straddling a flat bench. He was not using as much weight as the players, but he was working hard, seriously hard. "C'mon Mike!" the players were yelling. And then he finished his set and walked over to the water fountain. I was in his way. "Excuse me," he said, politely. I glanced at his forearms. They were so vascular that it looked like they had a hundred green snakes running up and down them. He was short, but thick as hell. Another time I was there to watch the players lift and this huge guy was doing barbell cheat curls with 225 pounds. He had a crib in there with his young son watching him also. It didn't strike me as odd. I just figured that he had to babysit and he also needed to get his lift in for the day. 


No internet to look up stuff back then so I would just go to gyms and talk to people. I went to Dynamo Barbell  in College Park, Maryland and watched the weight lifters train. Now that was weird. I had never seen a clean or  snatch performed before. I was in 9th or 10th grade. One of the guys asked me about the programs that we were doing in high school. I told him a few weeks of 8 reps, a few weeks of 6 reps, a few weeks of 4 reps.... He laughed and told his buddy what we were doing. He laughed also. You need to do a lot of doubles and triples, he said, and then went back to cleaning and snatching. I was too shy to ask any questions about his advice and he wasn't volunteering a whole bunch of information. I do know that I wasn't impressed by the way he looked. I like the Mentzer look at the time. I still do, I reckon. 

I watched the Barbarian Brothers lift at Gold's Gym in Wheaton , Maryland, and also went to one of their seminars where they extolled the virtues of milk and training as often as you can and eating what you want and taking amino acid tablets that looked like horse pills. They were cool as hell and they misspelled Barbarian on my signed picture. " Barbrian" was what he wrote. But of course, I didn't care. They were huge and strong as hell.

I saw Tom Platz in seminar. Legs were nuts. Super guy. Very Zen in his approach to training. Spiritual almost in his reverence of the rituals of the workout and of the workout itself. He spoke lovingly of performing dumbbell curls and how he lost himself in them when he was executing the movement. And then he pulled down his pants and flexed his legs. I have never seen anything like those legs. Paper thin. Cross striations. Crazy.

I used to call up some of the top lifters in the area and just bullshit with them. Ask them how they trained, how they ate, about their supplements. All of them, to a man, were giving of their time. 

I remember visiting a Gold's Gym in the area one time and I noticed this teenager on the lat pulldown machine. He was wearing a cutoff sweatshirt and you could see that he was ripped up by the definition in his forearms and the sunken look of his cheeks. He would perform a set of some high reps lat pulls to behind his head, and then when the set was over, he'd take a swig from a gallon milk jug filled with what looked like lemonade. He'd never get up from the seat, just do a set, take a swig. I asked my friend who was working there at the time what was going on with the lifter and he explained that the kid had just won a local show but that he wasn't defined enough and that the Junior Nationals was coming up in a week. So in order to get more ripped, he was living on Lemonade Crystal Light and amino's. "That's it?" I asked. "Yup, so he only has enough energy to just sit there and do his sets." Do a set, take a swig. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fortitude, A Book, Randomness

When it comes down to it, the nitty gritty , the nuts and bolts of the whole damn thing, when taking into account all of the fake training protocols out there, it all always comes back to one thing: Being true to yourself. 

Do you squat deep enough? No? You can do it. You just have to face that feeling. That head pressure, ears exploding, eyes bulging, pressure everywhere, feeling bottom of a squat.  
Because it is a test. A test of your intestinal fortitude.  Sorting out the also-rans and the champs and the "always bettering themselves" and the "exaggerated lat syndrome dudes".

All of that stuff can be learned with just pushing through it all a few times. And then you will see the growth and you can measure it by seeing more weight on the bar. 

Great book, nutty book, profane beyond belief book, laugh out loud book, 

At Night She Cries, While He Rides His Steed

By Ross Patterson 

is a must read book if you have a crazy, un PC, fun loving sense of humor. That book really
made me laugh.

Do not worry about your training if it is random.  Did the GOD'S of training declare that you must work this and this body part on this and this sacred day? And that each body part must be worked only so many times in a 7 day period? Who says? Do what you want in training. 

Follow your instincts and have a good time. Because there are no rules. People are just guessing. The Bulgarians or the Russians? Louie or Ed Coan? FMS or A coaches eye? Latest science or anecdotal? All are filled with some conjecture. Because new stuff comes along everyday in terms of research. 

But I do know that life in the old days, lets say, 1940 and before, was pretty damn random with what it would throw at you. Lots of farmers. And if you worked on a farm, you were milking cows, shoveling crap, bailing hay. And before that , you were hunting, foraging, sleeping, messing about. And before that, you were hunting, procreating, scavenging.... So since nobody really knows a damn thing, do what you want, what you feel in the weight room.. No rules. 

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.