Monday, December 3, 2018

Factions

You do realize, don't you, that in many things in life, (politics, gun rights, etc.)there are two factions. One faction is made up of purists and then the other faction are the ones that fudge the true meaning of the thing , skirt around issues and try to reinvent the freaking wheel.

Take lifting weights for football. I have railed before against making stuff easier and longer just because you don't want work hard. It's unreal to me, but maybe it shouldn't be. After all, there has always been contenders and pretenders. And those who follow trends and those that don't. 

I have heard it for years- "Oh, you don't need to lift heavy weights for football! Just be mobile." That's crap. Ask an offensive lineman who just got pancaked by a defensive lineman a few times if he would like to be bigger and stronger. If he could snap his fingers after the first pancake and be magically bigger and stronger, would he? Guarantee he'd rather be bigger and stronger. Mobility didn't have anything to do with it.

How to be more mobile? Repetition of agile movements. Like basketball. Best sport that there is for a football player. But coaches wanna set out cones and do 5 reps of this drill and 5 reps of that drill.... just freaking PLAY, let them have fun, and oh, by the way, he will be jumping , shuffling, dribbling, passing, backpedalling, sprinting, over and over again while he is having fun. So get to the hardwood. 

And get amazingly strong in the weight room. Max attempts, heavy ass doubles and triples on the squats and deads, violent cleans and box jumps, bench presses and close grips and bent rows and presses. Leave the pencil necks behind , as they talk about the perfect program while they stretch out. You will be tearing into gut busting squats and deads, just like all of the strongest men in the world have always done. Take the way of the strongest of all time. Do the basics and repeat frequently until you bust out of your shirt and pants, and rule the field. There is no other way, everything else is just a watered down version of the basics. A way to circumvent the truth. 

Heavy barbell. Heavy Dumbell. Repeat, repeat. Eat protein and repeat. And it is not gonna change. Oh, it may go away for a bit, it already has, but it will come back. It always does when folks get tired of fooling around and want to get into what works.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Thoughts

I don't even wanna write sometimes, it's the last thing that I feel like doing, but folks who like to write feel a need to put some stuff down on paper. It's a way of expressing yourself but really it is just words flowing out of the fingertips and I couldn't stop it or it would make me crazy. You gotta "write it off" like "running it off", as my coaches used to say when somebody got injured. Anyway, it means get it out of your damn system. So I was just sitting here thinking and thought it might help somebody, so what the hell.

I was thinking about good tips for beginners and damn, if the first one that I thought of and one that sticks in my mind over and over is to use good form. I have lifted since 1979, and I have used bad form and good form and let me tell you, you pay the price for bad form in the form of this question constantly asked in your own head, "What can I take to make my joints feel better?" as you go on with years of training. It really means (unless you are powerlifting), that you must try to just work the muscle that you are supposed to be working. Period. No rational person can refute the fact that when you want the most stimulation to a certain muscle you should try to minimize the involvement of other muscles. That applies for bodybuilding or just to get bigger. Which I guess is bodybuilding, but everybody freaks out when they hear "bodybuilding" and thinks, oh god, I just wanna be toned like some runway model not some freak with massive arms and legs, oh never that, when it just means Building Your Body. In powerlifting, there is tons of technique involved, but you encourage other muscles to get involved so that you can lift maximal weight. Use good form so you can lift forever. 

When I go to public gyms, I amazed how may exercises people will do instead of just squatting and deadlifting and pressing. They would be done so much faster. Bands everywhere, 3 water bottles, special gloves and matching clothes (I fit right in with my Archgoat T-shirt) and slamming 2 pound med balls and putting slide things on your feet and doing sorta a mountain climber thing  and various other crazy looking movements and if they would just look into the free weight section of the place... lo and behold! There sits the squat bar, in all its magnificent glory, or the deadlift bar, just waiting to be picked up. In 20 minutes, including warmups and ridiculous rolling around on stuff, you can be out the door, and feel as though you want to vomit but also feel as though you actually did something. And you did do something. But it ain't for the faint of hearted. Oh sure, half squats are, but deep 20 rep squats of barbell or safety or even hack squats are for real folks who like real hard work and real results. And the deadlift? Thats' a man maker. Pull a max set of 5 and listen to the ears ring and see the white buffalo dance across your vision. But your traps will be bulging and your erectors will be as thick as steel cables after a while. Hell Yes!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Memories Of Bill Starr

I wrote this column a while back when my friend Bill Starr passed away. I was on the phone the other day with a friend of mine that is a strength coach in the SEC, and he told me that he still uses Bill Starr's program's when training the football team. That got me thinking about Starr and how great he really was as a man and as a coach.

Bill Starr passed away a few weeks back. For those of you unfamiliar with him, he was an Olympic lifter, an author, and a helluva coach. He had been everywhere as a coach: The University of Maryland, University of Hawaii, Johns Hopkins, and way back when, the Baltimore Colts.  He wrote for a bunch of magazines and he was an author. He wrote the end-all-be-all book of football training, The Strongest Shall Survive, among other books.


I didn't get to know him until about seven or eight years ago. My friend and current Drexel Head Lacrosse Coach Brian Voelker had been coached by Starr at Johns Hopkins when Voelker played lacrosse there. "Starrman" was what he called him, and he loved him as a coach. 

So Voelker says that he knows him and I got all excited with a YOU KNOW BILL STARR!!?? and he said that we would go visit after Starr got back in touch with him. Starr was a minimalist to say the least and he didn't have a cell phone.  He did have a phone, a landline phone, but it was hooked up to a fax most of the day.  What one needed to do was to fax Starr with a message and he would call you later on. 

The next day, Voelker came to see me. He called, he said. We are going down tomorrow. And off we went to Aberdeen, Maryland. Starr grew up in Havre de Grace, Maryland, on the upper Chesapeake Bay and was a country boy at heart and a farm boy when he was younger. He now lived in an apartment in Aberdeen, close by to where he grew up. We arrived and Starr and Voelker did some catching up while I took a look around the place. He had tons of paintings everywhere, ones he painted himself, and they were quite good.  He had plenty of books and magazines and yellow notebook pads (He did all his writing on them) and a television set with a VCR.  No DVD player, and no cable.  Three channels. Seinfeld was his favorite show.  A few tapes of Willie Nelson in concert sat on the VCR.  He was a huge Willie fan.  A worn out copy of Tao Te Ching sat next to his favorite chair.  That was his go-to book.

After a half hour or so, we went downstairs and got into Voelker's car and Starr took us on a tour of Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, complete with the spot where the British Soldiers landed during the War of 1812.  Starr actually wrote a novel with the war of 1812 as a backdrop, so he knew a whole bunch about it.  And we are driving and then he tells me that he used to work for Weider back when Arnold first came to this country.  And he told me one story where Arnold was tired of not being paid by Weider so he said screw it and went to the airport to head back to Austria.  Weider raced to the airport to intercept his biggest cash cow, and the rest is history.  And then he told us stories of Franco and some pro wrestlers that were famous back then.

We get back to his apartment and walk over to a restaurant that was in the bottom of a Ramada Inn. I swear, I have had cream of crab soup all of my life, and this soup was the best that I have ever had. Starr drank Miller High Life exclusively, three to four a day.  He had a few that night. He ate a burger and skipped the bun. I was peppering him with questions the whole time. He actually worked with the Baltimore Colt's when Unitas was there. Unitas. Unitas. Anyway, he told me that when Unitas tore his Achilles Tendon that he rehabbed himself. How did he do it? He began by walking. Then he started jogging.  Then when that felt good, he started running. Made sense to Starr. Unitas also told him, along with Earl Morrall, that if they were younger players, that they would have lifted weights. But they felt like that at their age it was too late for them to start. 

He told me a story about Mike Curtis, the All-Pro linebacker. Curtis came up to him and told him that he was going to strict press 300 pounds. His best at the time was 250. So Starr says, you sure? And he says, I'M GONNA PRESS 300 POUNDS. So he puts it on the bar and misses. And then, and Starr said he had never seen anything like it, Curtis gets stark raving crazy fired up and on the second try, gets it, presses 300 pounds. And Curtis wouldn't lift if Starr's girlfriend was in the gym, no women when he was lifting. So Starr had to ask her to leave. We also talked about Maryland and how tough those guys were in the 70's when he was there, and how he lived in the dorm and the head coach wanted him to cut his hair. Starr said that he would have cut his hair in a second, but only if he got paid a little more money. And then he told stories about the players at Hawaii and how some of them would come to the workouts under the influence of a particular herb and he had to figure out a way for them to get the most out of the workouts when they were in that particular state. 

From what I could glean from our conversations,  I don't know if he ever made any money at any of the places that he coached. He loved it and would do just about anything to coach; drive a shitty car, work crazy hours, live in the dorm. I am telling you, money and material things did not mean a damn thing to this man.  He lived for the people that he coached, he kept tabs on them, he followed them in the papers if they were coaching. If you wrote him a letter asking for training advice, he became your pen pal and personal trainer. He was a good man. One of those guys that you meet that makes you think, I can learn things from this man, I can get better by just taking him in, by being around him. 

The next time that I saw him, I brought my assistant at the time, Brett Crossland, to meet him.  I, of course, faxed him first and then he called me and Brett and I headed down. When we got there, Starr asked us if we wanted something to eat. He had some soft shell crabs that he wanted to cook us. I know those as a delicacy, a true Marylander loves these things. You eat the whole crab, guts and all, and legs and arms and lungs. They are amazing. And they also aren't cheap. So Starr starts cooking and then he brings it out and serves us. Man, they were delicious. Now Brett being from cattle country Texas had no idea about a soft shell crab and once he bit into it, and I explained that it was the whole crab, he was backing away pretty quickly in his head. And then he committed the mortal sin that is just not done: He left some of the soft shell on the plate. I was telling him to finish it, motioning to him, mouthing the word, FINISH IT! And he was shaking his head, uh-uh and I was like YES and he was like NO and then Starr came in and saw Brett's plate and asked if something was wrong with the crab and I said, Brett just doesn't know how good he has it, Coach. And we left it at that.

Then I say, Coach, Brett doesn't like the high pull as a clean assistance exercise, and Starr, who loved the high pull, says, what ?and Brett explains how it teaches bad habits like bending your arms and not bringing your hips through. So Starr says, come into the bedroom. We get in there and there are magazines and papers and articles piled up, but there is also a weight set, an olympic bar with 45's on each side. So Starr starts instructing Brett on the high pull and Brett starts to do it and he's not doing it to Starr's satisfaction and then Starr says, FASTER! and PULL IT OVER YOUR F*%KING HEAD! and Brett says, but Coach I will hit the ceiling and Starr says, I DON'T GIVE A SHIT, DO IT! And Brett does it and sure enough, he puts those plates right into the ceiling, leaving two bumper plate indentations. 

Everyday, he lifted in his bedroom and then went for a walk.  A forty five minute walk. And on his way he stopped by the Goodwill store to see if they had any good books. He woke up at two pm everyday, and stayed up all hours of the night. You knew not to stop by before two and you knew to bring some Miller's if you came by. 

The last time that I saw him, I was coming back from a rough visit with my sister. She was in Johns Hopkins at the time, suffering with cancer. I needed a boost and I decided to go see Coach.  I got off at the Aberdeen exit and went into the Seven- Eleven that is up the road a bit from his place and purchased a twelve of Miller High Life and headed to the apartment. It was great to see him and he was cordial as always and understanding. His hip was messed up pretty badly, I don't think that he was able to go for his daily walks. He was in some pain. But he didn't complain, he just listened to me. 

It's strange when your mentors start to go. It happens, and this weird feeling of being sort of alone washes over you and it is definitely a feeling of despair, and then you reach for the phone to ask them some advice or a question about training or about life and then your hand stops short and it hits you. I can't do that, you think.  

I don't know. Maybe the right way to look at it is to be grateful for the conversations that made you see things differently and the advice that rang so true and of course, the cream of crab soup, and  to be thankful to have someone that special for even a little bit of time.




Monday, November 26, 2018

Fake

One time, I had a boss that asked me to write a proposal for something or other, for like a recreation contract or something. For a weight room, and why we needed the equipment or something.  At the time, my father did it for a living, he wrote proposals all the time and on a big time basis, lots of money involved. So I had my father write the thing for me. I mean, I never was Mr. Student, never too proud to ask for help. My Dad wrote it, cut and dried, black and white , very few words, right to the point.

 I showed it to my boss, and ya know what he said?

"Oh no, Jim! It needs a lot more flowery language,  you need to make it sound really important."

And then I realized. And then I realized that it isn't what you know, and how quickly that you get to the point, it's all about trying to make it sound as complicated as possible so you can impress people with your knowledge or lack thereof and just use a bunch of big words so that the person reading it feels stupid that they don't know those words but is too afraid to ask what they mean or they may look stupid themselves.   

Oh, I was so naive. I thought that everyone wanted to be straight to the point, straight up and forthright. I always thought that was the case. You squatted the weight or you didn't. You made the tackle or you didn't. You won or you didn't. Simple.

Hell no, they don't. Because when you are like that, all upfront, you are then waiting on action. The point has been made and now, everybody gets it, so let's MOVE.

But that's too much.  Who wants to move? Hell, let's talk about it a little. Set an agenda.  Write some stuff down, talk about it! Let's talk, have a meeting and think about it some more. No, it's time to have a meeting, brainstorm and use some of these new fangled techniques to make all of it sound such a big deal that people will think, oh, how smart everyone is these days! Let's make it real complicated so that we can have 4000 meetings to discuss the discussion and use catchy phrases that most haven't heard but goddamn they sound so smart, but you really read it out of some freaking book, and your mentor said, oh you need to handle him this way and her that way and this meeting this way, all a bunch of useless crap. 

FAKE , fake fake

I love the books and stuff that talk about how to win friends and influence people and make people do what you want them to do, and guess what? It's all wrong. All that ass kissing language is going the wrong way. The right way is-here it is, love it or leave it, take it to heart or don't. But there shouldn't be ambiguity in the whole thing, whatever it may be. I start to think that being blunt and upfront is wrong because, well,  I can't find very many folks who are like that, or who think that is the way to be. It is,  you know? You get it, don't you? That being upfront is the best way? That hurting some feelings is better than speaking out of both sides of your mouth? If you don't think that is the best way,

I feel really sorry for you. 

It's ok, put me with the dinosaurs. I will take it. 

No, that squat was high.  Now, do it better.  Get your depth. You know what to do, now do it like you have been taught.  

Alright,  set up strong here. Get your feet set!  Huge breath, push your belly against that belt! Fierce here, really tight and don't stop pushing! PUSH! Yes, now THAT squat was deep. And you earned it. And that smile that you just gave me is because I didn't give a damn thing to you, you actually did it right and you earned it. Straight up and straight to the point and the truth.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Today

I had a darn good workout today. One of those days when you are locked in and everything feels so smooth. I did some hack squats today, with my feet hit up on the platform, because if I put my feet any lower, it feels like me knees would fall off of my body. I first thought that I would do like ten sets of twelve.  But I did that last week. Ten sets of fifteen? That would be progress. I decided on five sets of twenty, with the thought of adding one set a week for awhile, until I got to ten sets and then go back down again, starting the cycle over with heavier weights, or shorter rests, or slower eccentrics, etc. So I put some Inzer sleeves on, the ones with the velcro strap, pulled tight. I like this hack squat, made by Life Fitness, it's smooth, although the settings could be slightly lower so that someone short can really bottom out. Sometimes machine design may be done by someone that hasn't really lifted a whole bunch. Thats what I think happens. Not saying that happened in this case, but maybe.

So I did my first set. No warmup. I hate warmups with a passion. I really hate them. Maybe one set of ten with a light weight. But man, rolling around on a foam roller, a ball of some type, static stretching, track warmup drills, etc. I'd be exhausted before I started or more likely, bored. I hate being bored. And wasting time.

Anyway, the first set felt like I was ninety four years old, lots of snapping and crackling and popping . But I knew that the second set would feel much better, and it did. By the time that I marked off the fifth set on the dry erase board, I had decided to do five more sets, which to be honest with you, I had in my mind the whole time, but if you take it little by little chunks like five, and oh yeah, five more, its easier than saying ten. I don't know why, It makes it seem smaller, just two separate sets of 10.

So I wrote 6 7 8 9 10 on the board and now there was no way that I wasn't gonna get ten sets because I wrote it on the board now, dammit. SoI started the sixth set and the sweat was pouring off of the bill of my cap more and more on each successive set and I may have grunted a little on some sets as Godsmack was belting out Bad Religion and Moon Baby! How about that?!

It's the best feeling, pushing through the burning and wondering how the next rep will be and you push through it and push through it. And the completion of a bunch of sets like that is in you deep man. It reaches so deep inside and brings out a feeling that I crave.

Yeah, I guess that its accomplishment, but not, it's more like a feeling of all blue skies and  no worries or thoughts about anything, and you feel light and satisfied and you wonder why everyone doesn't want this feeling in their world.

I'm telling you, if you put that feeling of a great workout in someone's life and then put it in another person's life, and they put it in another person's life, it can change the world. People need to get that feeling where you have to reach so deep that you doubt yourself. And you smash those doubts and you are triumphant over the demon of doubt. It gives it to you man. A training session like that is right out there, waiting to test you.

When I was done, I was quivering a little and even after my shower, I was still sweating, but I really thought, damn , that was fun and just so good. Blue skies and a whole other feeling inside.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Inspiring Email!

The following is a super inspiring email from my friend, Ian Hendricks from England. Ian had written me and told me that he trained in the same gym as Dorian Yates way back when, so of course I asked for stories about the former Mr. Olympia, and Ian was kind enough to respond with a GREAT email back to me. Thanks, Ian!
Hi Jim

I did know Dorian. A few years before I trained at the Temple Gym, I trained at a community centre that had a small weight room that was well equipped for that time. It was around 1987 or 1988. There was a squat rack, a Smith Machine a  Leg press Machine ,a few benches, a dip station, a station where you could do triceps push downs  , a few barbells, loads of plates and dumbbells that went up to 100lbs. We used to think we were in the Stone Age as far as gyms and equipment was concerned compared to America.

The atmosphere at the gym was hardworking but light hearted. You trained hard but you had a laugh as well. One day I noticed black guy and a white guy come into the gym. All I remember is that they went over to the squat rack and got prepared to do THE EXERCISE. Those days everybody squatted regardless of your strength level . The white guy was noticeable because his physique was outstanding even though he looked liked he weighed around 190lbs.You could tell he had a physique even though he was wearing a red sweatshirt. He was more serious and business like than most. That was the first time I saw Dorian train.

Fast forward to around 1990 and I had started training at Temple Gym which Dorian had recently purchased. He was so happy to own a gym never mind making his livelihood from bodybuilding.

Dorian was always friendly and had a good sense of humour but  champions like him are a little different. He was obsessed with his training and Jim he always, always trained hard. I never saw him coast in a workout. Every set was carried to failure and he always did forced reps to prolong a set.

He was the first person I saw perform a full body stretching routine before a workout. No one at Temple did that back then and no one followed Dorian’s example and stretched before training.

But most of the gym members trained like Dorian, six sets per body part after doing a few warm up sets and all sets taken to failure.

But our hard training and Dorian’s hard training were worlds apart. I’ve never seen anyone train with such perfect form and concentrate on every rep like he did. His last rep of a set was the last rep he could muster. Dorian was deadly serious when he was training. No small talk or joking with the gym members between sets. He would only communicate with his training partner and it was best if the trainees kept their distance. He stopped training in the gym in the evenings when he came to international prominence.

But when he wasn’t training he was a normal guy. He was never loud, flamboyant or arrogant. You could talk to him anytime and he wouldn’t give you the brush off. He was a nice guy with a good sense of humour. When he became famous there was a lot of crap talked about him but I’d put that down to envy. He was cool, Jim.


Even before Dorian came to prominence, a lot of trainees in Birmingham, England were influenced by Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty training. I started going to train at gyms around 1983 and Heavy Duty training had really taken hold over here.

I loved training that way back then because pushing yourself in a workout really appealed to me. The guys who were training traditionally seemed to be training within themselves.

I can remember Dorian saying that if you can’t develop a good body within four years of training then you could never make it as a professional bodybuilder and if it could be proven that dog crap could assist your training efforts, then he would eat it.

Jim, I didn’t realise how privileged I was to be around the man. He was just a normal, modest guy who happened to be the best in his field at the time. Jim, looking back we didn’t realise how fortunate we were to be around him but you just got used to seeing him training and it didn’t seem a big deal. if I’d known how working out would become so widespread and popular, I would have made a career in the industry. Bodybuilding was a subculture back then and It was the thing you just loved doing. If I would’ve been good enough to enter a show that would have been heavenly but just training hard was a an abundant gift in itself. 



When Dorian is back in Birmingham, I have to make it a priority to meet him again. His life has taken a turn as he is vey spiritual by all accounts but I’m sure he won’t be that much different from how he was way back. If you’re a good person, you stay a good person in my opinion.

Jim, whatever you’re doing today, have a great day.

All the Best

From Ian

Sunday, October 28, 2018

What's important?

I've had a lot of jobs over the years. I have worked in a gas station, been a bouncer, worked in an athletic equipment room, delivered pizza ( a bunch), I was a helper on a construction crew (pretty much all that I was qualified to do), cleared land (bunch of that one), and coached football in a bunch of places. I never made much money, in fact when I was coaching football in North Carolina, I was the defensive line coach, strength coach, and was in charge of cutting all the football fields and the maintenance and painting of the fields. The most money that I made at that job was 560 dollars a month. And I loved it. 

I liked the guys that I worked with (sans the head coach), and I loved the fact that I could hunt before work and hang out in the woods and swim in the river a few miles away. And I had a job offer at a big time university one year, and I turned it down because I couldn't take my dog with me and my workouts maybe would suffer and I would miss my friends. 

I figured out a long time ago that money is needed to do some things like eat and of course, hunt, and for dog food, but if you hate the people that you work with, and you have a boss just hanging over you and you can't do the things that you really love, that money doesn't matter one bit. 

It's hard for people to understand, they think that I am nuts when I tell them that I'd rather be happy than rich or that I will stay at a job for things like training, friends and hunting. Like right now, I am an hour from my buddy Steve's farm where we train dogs and hunt. It'd be tough to go anywhere if given the opportunity, because Steve is my buddy and I like to hunt and train dogs. And I love going to work, because I work with my friends. So it'd be tough to leave because of that fact, too. Actually, I wouldn't go anywhere because of those things right there. And my parents are two hours away. I know I listed my parents after hunting and dogs but I do love them first.

 Damn, I have been so broke before that I remember writing in a notebook, NEVER FORGET HOW BROKE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, but I made it through it, and I loved my job so much that I was smiling everyday. Up until about ten years ago, I never bought a vehicle in my name, because I didn't make enough money to not have someone cosign. So what?  I coached in a freaking National Championship. That's better than money right there. A whole lot better.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Football Summers

I was thinking about how I trained all through high school and college for football. I'm getting nostalgia chills as I write all this down. Especially about the running workouts.

Wake up. Have coffee. Walk outside. It's six am.

It is July and it is already hot, Maryland Summer hot.If you are not familiar with summer’s in Maryland, no, it aint Alabama, but the sun beats down hard and the humidity will mess you up if you are foolish enough to challenge it when it gets high and you are not acclaimed to that type of heat.

 I loved it. Summer was the time when I was in high school and college that I enjoyed training for football the most. Weights came first, a morning workout. Squat till my legs quivered, man the hell up and do seated behind the neck press until my arms quivered.

Then, venture into the dirt bike trails by my house in the hottest part of the day. Didn't have a water bottle, or five of them strapped on a belt around my waist, or a watch that tells me every damn thing about myself, or a shirt that wicked away the moisture. Maybe I had a white undershirt on, maybe no shirt, didn't matter. Definitely not tights on my legs, give me strength. Just. Take off.  Running. Through the woods, through the small creek. Up the hills that dotted the course. 

Nothing fancy, ever. I never used parachutes, stood on a damn bosu ball or hired a performance place to train me. I never even thought of stuff like that, that weak ass stuff.  I don't even remember if any of that stuff was even around. I lifted weights as heavy and as hard as I could and ran through the woods, everyday.

Never a 40 yard dash in a straight line, never. I never did that on the field, I always had something or someone in my face. To me, running up hills, dealing with the elements was what made me tougher physically and mentally and prepared me for the season. I reckon that It was cross country running but turbo charged cross country running.
I guess that I was also just getting prepared for life, testing what I had deep down inside of me when nobody else was watching. That's the true test, right? Doing it alone, Nobody talking to you, bothering you, blowing a damn whistle, talking about your breathing or your positive mental outlook. Hell, I wasn't positive at all. I used the most negative talk that I could think of while I was approaching that hill. You are soft, you aren't worth a damn, everybody works harder than you. That is as fast as you can run? 
If a 45 minute run through the  woods was tough and pushed me to the limit, then the rest of the day was going to be easy. Many times I staggered home, legs barely moving, pumped with blood, so pumped that my knees didn’t want to bend. Legs burning from that last, final hill at the end of the course.  Back to the house,breathing like a locomotive, covering my body with water from the outside hose and drinking huge gulps of the water from it. 
I worked a summer job that still allowed me to train, and I looked forward to every single run in the woods, that challenge, man, of how hard I could push myself and not thinking of anything else. I couldn't think of anything else, or I would falter. 

And I am not saying that I was anything special at all, what I am saying is that those workouts were what I needed, and what I felt that I needed the most to get ready for football. Oh, I miss those days!  Ever day a challenge! So young and full of idealistic thoughts, when all was black and white, and cut and dried, and hard work is all that mattered. 

 I will miss the consistency and the innocence of those days and workouts for a long time.


Monday, October 1, 2018

Transform

I feel so sorry for people that it freaking eats me up inside. 

 I was watching this college kid cross the street in Philadelphia this morning and he was so unsure of himself, like he just wanted to disappear, and I thought that he looked so afraid of everything, that he had no confidence. He had no muscle to speak of, he was just a little out of place amongst all of the other people walking near him, most of them students.  

He was alone, had poor posture,  was pale and soft looking.

And of course I am projecting, I have no idea if any of my ideas are true, but I have known kids who just need to be shown the way to get out of a scared, tentative life. 

I imagined what his life must be like, being a college kid and all. He's probably got a small circle of friends, he's pretty good in school, but he wants something better for himself, he wants to have confidence, to be sure of himself, to be able to defend himself, he wants to lift weights but he doesn't know where to start and he's too embarrassed to go to a gym. 

Maybe his dad didn't set him up right for manhood, never took him fishing or hunting or bought him a BB gun when he was a kid or took him into the garage to squat or got him a pocket knife for his birthday.  Maybe he just needs a little guidance , someone to tell him that he can do it, that he can set his mind on being stronger and eating right. Really, he needs to just take that first step, realize that he is no different than anyone else that if they can do it, he can do it. Take that massive step and never look back again. 

He can do it, you can do it, everyone can do it. I'm telling you, I have seen it, and it is like magic when it takes hold.

And maybe taking some boxing lessons will open up a whole new world for him, that along with his studies which he is pretty good at, he will now have an all around being a man feeling that he never had before. Maybe the time spent in the gym will be just the boost that he needed to step out and get the gumption to ask the girl out that he always sees on his way to class but always thought that she was too good for him. 

Maybe with the boxing lessons that he won't be afraid to walk down the street at night, that his life won't be stifled by his weakness.

And then maybe he will take off his shirt after a few weeks of getting his body right and he will see some muscles starting to appear and he will swell up with pride and confidence and this whole new beginning will be something that he will continue pushing and pushing until he is all the way the way that he wants to be. And with every workout he becomes better, he becomes right in the head about that the fact that he did it and that accomplishment is his best accomplishment to date in his young life, and he really can't think of anything better. 

Because when you lift weights and eat right, you set yourself apart from the masses and that feels so good to do that, it is a unique feeling, a secret that you have just for yourself because YOU did it, you set goals and reached them.

And maybe he continues to look at the reflection in the mirror and he wonders why he didn't do all of this sooner, but its just because he didn't know, man, he didn't get it and he was scared to venture out and that scared kid looking back at him is there, it never goes all away. But keeping that old him in the back of his head is okay, that is a good thing because it makes him never , ever wanting to go back there again. 

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a year...it's for life. Whether its training or your family or your job...it 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.