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


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. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Switch

I was thinking about how just being motivated solves a lot of issues. Issues like little injuries crush people when excelling doesn't mean anything to them, but the motivated athlete overlooks all the little stuff and wills himself to excel. Its a switch, a switch that turns on when something inside of someone just happens, an awakening, and you see it and feel it. 

I have a kid that I coach who always wanted to clean 315. A real Power Clean. No straps, from the floor. Legit. He is under 200 pounds, and when he told me his goal about a year ago, he was cleaning something like 265, and I was like, yeah right, and he was skinny and he liked to lift, but he didn't LOVE it, it wasn't all consuming. But he suprised me,  he kept going. He kept reading, watching videos, getting into it. He asked me questions, he started hanging around people who loved to train.

In March, he cleaned 315, and today he deadlifted 545 like it was nothing. I mean, this was a skinny little kid who I thought was all talk, and lots of bravado, but damn, he kept pushing, kept drinking protein, pushing, pushing, showing up on Saturdays and training....never questioning. When he met Kirk Karwoski, he was thrilled, I was suprised that he knew who Kirk was, but he was pumped.

And it is like I always have said, Motivation is Life. Think about it, you can be tired as hell, and feeling sorry for yourself, but if something comes up that is really important to you, something that fires you up more than anything else, you would get your ass off of the couch pretty quick.

I play those tricks on myself all of the time. I'll be lying there and think, now if Randy White(my boyhood idol) walked through the door and asked me to go lift weights and run hills and then go to the bar to discuss his greatest games, I would be out the door in a second. So I say to myself, well, you really ain't that tired. Get your ass up.

Or you picture those guys in World War II, on the Battaan Death March, starving, drinking out of Water Buffalo holes on the side of the road because they were so thirsty and actually getting shot for drinking that dung water and you say, I can't go deadlift? Ooh, my back is sore, I didn't get my protein in today, I missed a meal, my girlfriend was mean to me, my car didn't start, I just couldn't get it in, I was too busy, I was gonna but my boss pissed me off so I went to the bar instead...and on and on.You didn't earn the right to go to the bar. But then you turn on the Training Hall tapes from Bulgaria with the holes in the windows and they are lifting in the freezing cold and damn, you feel shitty about yourself. Get your ass up. I guarantee that you aren't that hungry, not as hungry as most of the world.  I guarantee that you aren't overtrained, it's hard as hell to get overtrained. Most of the time it's lack of motivation. 

Motivation! Its the spark. Life is not worth living if you can't get immensely excited about SOMETHING, something that raises the hairs on the back of your neck and makes you move.

 I am proud of the kid who cleaned 315. He was motivated, he was hungry, it meant the world to him to succeed.  Mostly I am proud that he proved me wrong, and that he had that switch inside of himself that I didn't know was there. Good stuff.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

All The Daily Dirt

Do you find that all the bull that you deal with day to day doesn't mean a whole lot as each day ends?

Do you think that most of the things that you do could be done with or without you? 

You ever feel like everyone is so damn stupid chasing something that they can never catch?

Are you one of those people who sit in meetings and you understand what the topic is and the conclusions within the first five minutes and the rest of the time you are doodling and thinking, is this how they justify their jobs? By having meeting after meeting with useless jargon that really doesn't mean anything but everyone nods their heads like something brilliant is being said but its just people talking about the "lowest hanging fruit" and let's discuss the next meeting time to discuss what we just discussed. And you are looking around like, am I the only one who knows that this is a waste?

Find that somedays you feel out of touch? Like everything is moving fast by you but going nowhere and people look at you funny , like they are all saying hey you just get with the program but you feel like just dropping out of it all? There is no program for you to be part of, because you feel out on the edge while everyone else is all huddled together on the inside sharing a secret that you aren't a part of?

Throw away all thoughts that the way that you feel is wrong and all the news blaring how you just aren't with everyone else because you have different thoughts than the masses, spoon fed their thoughts by the big whatever corporations and special interests groups that bank on all of us staying blind and dumb to every real thing that is really poisoning us and killing our kids and paving the way for a future that is bleak, dank and dismal? 

You better believe that your gut feelings are right, that soon its gonna be over and the things that are preoccupying everyones mind are useless and meaningless and you are looking for some answers as the walls seem to be closing in on you at a pace that sure seems fast, fast moving like all bad things move and all good things move so slowly and don't last nearly long enough as you would like.

Your mind goes back to the past and the past always seems  great, but you always remember the great stuff and pack away the bad stuff somewhere where you mind can't touch it except in the darkest times but sometimes that bad stuff has a mind of its own and it comes bubbling up when you need it the least.

And the tv talk show hosts and the know -it -alls keep espousing this positive thinking and this mindset that you need to be successful and to be happy but you know that the happiness is just a place that nobody really reaches and you stop and say to yourself, self, I am outta here, I am into my mind, not the idea of what the popular notion is on what is real, and you have no interests in getting all involved in the silliness of life, what most attach meaning to but you just can't see it or feel it. 

Much of it seems fake and out there and a place that you don't want to go and you couldn't even if you tried. And you wonder what would it be like, what would happen if everyone just dropped out of the pushing towards everybody and instead walked away from it all, just put down the material stuff, cut up all the credit cards and said, screw Walmart and Amazon and the cell phones and smiled and destroyed the big buildings that house the evil and instead replaced them with woods and open meadows and made folks survive and be themselves without airs or qualms about who has more and instead it would be better to have less and the less you carry is better, you can move like that, you can be free and go where you must go in a pace that you want, not dictated by the traffic or gas prices or whatever thats invented to hold you back from being truly alone without the brainwashing. 

And I know what is realistic and what is not and that with all the technology that gets on my nerves and drives me crazy comes essential needs that keep us alive more than ever and without the medicine and surgical techniques and advances in science some of us , including myself, may not be around. Maybe there is a way to separate the needed from the useless. 

But I am not talking about the advances that are used for good, I am talking about the distractions that bring us down, the posts on Instagram of how great everyone is doing that serve to make you feel like crap about your life,  and the lack of mystery about a lot of things, the fact that the latest controversy that is really just click bait is right there poisoning your soul.

 All that you need in the new world is a bag filled with essentials, and the dirt under your bare feet just like when you were a kid. When all the moments were right in front of you and the creek was what your destination was, just to drop a fishing line and not think too much or when you were given the task of chopping wood for the first time or had to heave some hay bales on a hot South Carolina day or squatted outside in the snow with nothing on but some shorts and a t-shirt and within you, you found something so pure in the effort, and the euphoria of the sweaty exhaustion brought a sense that this was the type of day that you were meant to have, it felt so natural and brought you back to some place and time were you felt like you were meant to reside more often, and that feeling that you achieved and  loved was worth striving to reach whenever the times felt confusing or strange or you just didn't feel a part of it . 

And you think that maybe if everyone had that feeling, if they could have that feeling every day at some point, that things would change, that we would fall back to the times before the useless waste of the days that are leaving without much meaning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Flip Flops And Training

I was having a conversation the other day with a couple of people that I have known for many years, and they were talking about a guy, about 45 or 50 years old and that he was a great guy and all that. I believe them when they say that he is a great guy, I guess. He is a well respected professional in his field.

Besides the fact that he wears "flip flops" (those things where the "thong" goes through your toes), his appearance was, well , normal. Meaning normal for the average 45-50 year old man in America today. "Normal" meaning that he doesn't lift weights at all. I mean you could tell that he has never picked up a weight, he had zero muscle tone to speak of, just soft and all, little bitty arms sticking out of his little bitty shirt, and little bitty legs.

Now, I realize my shallowness in this regard, my belief that everyone should train, but man, I really do believe it. I do believe that everyone should , within reason, do what they want to do as long as it isn't harming anyone else, but lets just say that I dont get it. I don't get the fact that a man wants to walk around all soft and flip floppy and sorta squirrely, and needs to ask for help to lift a box or maybe even he needs help with his groceries.Or what if he is walking the streets of Baltimore (just got back from there and it is literally like the Wild West, you better have your head on a swivel when walking down the street) and he has to defend himself? Now he may be a secret Clark Kent kind of guy with mystical MMA power who can explode on somebody like a lion when cornered or a spider monkey, but I doubt it. Just looking like that invites people to mess with you. And yes, I do know some special forces guys who are like 5' 10'' and 175, but they are the badassery exception, not the rule.

How about just training a little? Thirty minutes three days a week will do wonders for your appearance and confidence. Squat, deadlift, press. Or even just machines. Something to gain some muscle. I have always believed that-“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

Old Socrates knew what the deal was all about. The deal that a well rounded man does it all, intellectually and physically. Of course we all are a work in progress, but doesn't it make sense that one would try to achieve excellence in both?And those guys wore sandals, not flip flops. Still questionable, but it wasn't easy to make manly shoes back then.

The men and women that I am around on a daily basis all lift weights, so I have a tendency to think that everyone lifts weights. Then I go to Walmart to get some fishing stuff and then I realize that most people don't, and I have to admit, its kinda shocking when I see them.Do you think that the aforementioned flip flopper flexes in the mirror? I bet he does. Does he like what he sees?My six year old was walking down the hallway in my house the other day and I thought that he was gonna go into his brothers room and cause trouble so asked him what he was doing, and he replied, "Dad, I'm not doing anything wrong, I am just looking in the mirror and flexing," which passed as okay in my house. Start them early. And then flexing becomes your standard practice, and in order to stand in the mirror and see some muscular progress, you better do some training. 

So what is the point here? The point is that no man should wear flip flops, but besides that, the point is that every man should hoist a barbell or dumbbell or kettle bell or something that can give him some strength and hypertrophy. Shoot, even dips and chins and pushups will do. 

I have a doctor friend who I have been training for years that used to be a high carb soft and flabby marathon runner (flip flops? Not sure), who now swears by eating meat and squatting and deadlifting and in fact, his workouts take precedence over all else in his life because he knows that when he is on point with his lifting and eating, his whole damn life is better. His performance at work is better, his overall well being has improved.   And now, instead of shuffling along on asphalt and squirting energy gels in his mouth, he is training with weights three times a week for 45 minutes and kicking ass not only at his job but at his lifting. He boxes and walks the dog and hits the exercise bike, too. But the cornerstone of it all is the lifting. He found out that you learn just as much deadlifting and squatting as you do getting the "runners high",  and it carries over into all aspects of his life; work is better, yard work is easier,  and he can perform simple tasks that used to be arduous to him with ease.

You can feel it when you get stronger and gain some muscle. Walk down the street after a great workout and you will feel on top of the world, and your energy will be boundless.

It's not that hard.ANYONE CAN DO IT. Just get started. Don't listen to the naysayers. You won't hurt your knees and you wont lose your flexibility. You will find the fountain of youth and you will want to tell everyone about it and then you will start wondering, as I do, why everyone doesn't train also.

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.