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. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Just thinking about something.

That YOU can do it, that no matter how bad it is with your weight or strength or whatever is holding you back, messing you up,  and wondering about yourself, questioning all of your discipline, hating yourself in the morning. 

MAN! Don't worry about it. It is all okay, all gonna work out. You can do it with just a little action.

You ever had those days where the cruelness and unkindness and the politicians and the media and the politicians and the traffic and the cell phone and the politicians and social media and all that BS feels like it's closing in? Makes you question the very existence of every damn thing? Where you look at people and everyone seems like they are from another planet? Where you can't believe that folks just don't get it, where everyone is shallow and soft and dumb and are breathing your air for no reason? Where death and life are the same and Hemingway and Bukowski and Mailer and all the damn good authors are dead and it pisses you off? That you actually think of them when you are lying in bed in the morning? And why you signed a contract with a publishing company and they lied to you? Maybe that one was just me. Anyway, ever had a day like any of the aforementioned days?

Guess what you need to do? 

Train anyway. Today was one of those days for me. The sky too gray, the  world too much.

So I got on the bike. Four Thirty AM. No, I didn't want to get on the bike. I wanted to eat cake and drink beer.  But I had done the bike many times when I didn't feel like doing it, and I had done it  for two hours a day when I was eating 300 calories a day for weeks at a time. And I thought of that time. So I just kept pedaling, and I watched TV and everything pissed me off, but I just kept pedaling. Thirty minutes done, fueled by anger.

Then I thought, well, I lifted yesterday so today is really a day off, and the knee is clicking and locks up,  and this goes on and on in my head and then! the little voice speaks...talks in the ear, whispering, the devil that calls you out...the message is clear, Harden up.  HARDEN UP! 

SO maybe instead of resisting it, and being a punk, I should squat. So I did.

 And then I broke a sweat and voila! I forgot about all the bullshit, because I was squatting, and you have to be focused and right on it when you are squatting!

 And lo and behold, the skies opened up and the world was okay again, and I did shrugs and dips, and cable rows and swiss bar curls. And kicked the bag and punched and drenched in sweat I felt damn good. I took almost no rest at all, and the heart rate was up and the goal was there just to reach for the burning and push beyond it.

What was I so worried about?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Let It Go

Park your soul and step outside.

Replenish your being with

vices of youth.

Fear not

the consequences.

Do what you want

Do what you will,

worry will not chase you,

Trouble is far, far away.

Conger the images of all the first times and go

there again.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

All That Is Meant To Be

I am just sitting here, thinking, listening to Willie and Billy Joe Shavers and maybe some old Charlie Daniel's Band and I am  thinking.

Woods and water, old dogs and favorite shotguns.

Time on the water, on the Chesapeake, the magical Bay.

Snake hunting, trout fishing, beware of the Snapping Turtles deep in the swimming hole. "That's My Job" by Conway Twitty and tears of what is inevitable.

It is a sad state when the closest neighbor is way too close, not supposed to be this way. Build it up? It will all get torn down.

Look right in front of you and see the future.

but the brilliant ones, the all knowing, see beyond the first look.

Your ego will die with you, your false self esteem means nothing because YOU mean nothing.

Leave it all in puddles on the floor.  Leave it all above it all.

Delineate freely the good and the bad, separate only the Uberman and the Superficial.

They will soon go. If the great scroll is left with us telling of the history of it all, it will be written of all of the Great Ones, the one's whose potential has been reached in intellect and physical power.

Emptiness is no literature , no art, no Hemingway.

Fulfillment is the fight , the gun, the kiss, the knowledge, the history, the great authors and scientists, the end of the nights, all of the lonely nights, with the curtains flapping , bringing in all of the Eastern Shore breeze, talking to you and your soul and talking to you about the way that all is meant to be.

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.