Thursday, March 21, 2019


You were born in the 60's and you went through your young years thinking that the President was pure, all girls were pure, and Clint Eastwood hung the goddam moon.  

But it wasn't really like that. As you got older, you started to realize shit. You started to realize that everyone is not on your side and Nixon lied and what about that war and what if I go? No, it will be over by then, by the time you are old enough. Dad told me that.

 But still. 

Innocence did not exist and the sooner you realized that, the better off you were. 

You got picked on by some old kids and you marked in your head the fuckers who will get an ass whipping when you get big and strong enough to render one. 

You handle shit that comes up and you know that kids these days don't have a prayer handling what you had to handle.

Wasn't shit back then. No computers, no cell phones, no internet. Just you. Handling your business day after day. Until you are bigger and stronger and you can do what you always wanted to do. Revenge. Payback. You remember that time? You will real soon.

And the years go by, the years run ragged the thoughts of youth and are replaced by real life. Real life is when you again have a realization: That people are sorta dumb but most of all that they are out for themselves and there are only a few friends that will stick with you through thick and thin. 

I reckon everyone had that, but it sure felt unique to me. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Highlander Lifestyle

I have suffered for bodybuilding shows in the past, dieting on fish and beef and sweet potatoes and riding the exercise bike for hours each day for twelve weeks at a time. No alcohol, no cheating, a monk's lifestyle that was always necessary for me to lose twenty to thirty pounds in a short amount of time. To do this type of activity, everyone and everything takes a back seat to your goal. Folks just  have to understand that this is different from what they are used to, and that it is just what you need to do to get in shape. I have to admit that there is part of me that enjoys the deprivation. I know that others don't need to starve themselves or do so much exercise but it is what works for me. I feel the need to do this to myself once in a while. It "resets" me for the rest of the year.

I know that all of this getting ready for a bodybuilding show would be much easier if I stayed close to "contest shape"year round, but for me, well, to put it bluntly, I don't want to do that shit.

I want to be a Highlander the rest of the year.

I'm part Scottish (MacDonald Clan) and I seriously doubt that the men of the great clans of Scotland worried about their body fat percentage as they competed in feats of strength and tested themselves on who can lift the bigger rock to their shoulders and challenged each other in feats of strength.  I bet that they were fierce in their competitiveness but afterwards they sat around and drank their homemade brew and feasted on meat with the bone still in it and they laughed and patted each other hard on the shoulders and went over the competition , exaggerating their feats from the day.

So for the rest of the year,  I change my mindset about the whole thing.  I think about the old, old days and what men used to live like and what men should live like and all the forgotten ways that men used to live. I don't want to worry about anything even close to the bodybuilding lifestyle. For the rest of the year, I want to picture myself living like a Highlander, which to me means not caring about being proper or strict or worried about the food I eat or what I drink.

To me, this means lifting weights, hunting geese and ducks, shooting guns, working with my Black Labrador Storm, eating Maryland cream of crab soup and burgers and whatever the hell else I want to eat and enjoying good friends and good times.

 To live like this means to me that you get done with a squat training session and you are spent physically but on a high mentally. You and your friends drive over to Bucks Tavern and when you walk in the tavern is dark and cool and it takes a minute to make out everything in there coming from the brightness of the day. You say hello to the surly bartender who deep down inside is a sweetheart and you and your buddies sit on the barstools with the torn vinyl on them and order ice cold beers and  big ass burgers and a bowl of cream of crab soup and you talk about the squat session that you just finished. Everybody laughs and cuts up and deep inside you know that this is a good time, but you don't want to ruin it by talking like that, so you just enjoy everything that is about right now.

All of this is much easier when you are young and carefree. But as the years go by, you start to accumulate responsibilities; kids, bills, work. 

Not a Highlander, but a badass picture

But in my mind, you must have the things in your life that keep you feeling alive and worth a damn as a man.

Doesn't that feel good? To walk around with camo on, a 12 gauge Remington over your shoulder and a big old dip in of fresh Copenhagen and your jet black dog bounding ahead anxious to get to the band to do the one thing that she loves above all else? 

You gotta ebb and flow, push and back off, run then walk, change it up and then change it up again. Oh, you still lift weights! You never stop that, ever. But you ain't counting calories, that's for sure. You feel full? Stop eating. But there is no weighing of food, you are a Highlander, after all. They didnt do that, did they? Doubtful. They were too busy eating freaking rabbit and whatever else stew and chugging some concoction that left them seeing the Gods by the end of the evening. 

Pretty cool, right, the Highlander thing? It can be anything, a Heathen thing, a Viking thing, a Barbarian thing. 

Whatever makes you think of men being men and wearing skins as clothes, strong and muscular as hell, with huge beards and dirty all over and hunting and with food stuck in their beards and sucking on the bones of their last kill. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Bobby's First Day at the Gym

Bobby stood outside the plate glass windows and peered into the old gym on Main Street. It was five thirty am on a Monday morning.  

Hank's Gym had been there in a broken down looking strip mall for a long time, since the 1940's, he had heard. He wasn't even sure how long ago that was, but he knew that the gym was an institution here, a hardcore place much different from the fern and cardio and glistening chrome dumbbell places that could be found all over town. Those places had donut night and pizza night and they banked on the fact that people would join for a year, and then show up the first week, but then not come in much any more than that for the rest of their membership time.

Bobby wasn't interested in those gyms at all, he wanted to train at Hank's.

He had heard all of his life from his Uncle Mike, the powerlifter and bodybuilder, that if he really wanted to get big and strong, he should eschew the pretty places and go to Hank's Gym, where the real lifters trained. He was fifteen now, and although he had lifted some weights fooling around in the school weight room with his buddies, he hadn't gotten stronger or bigger. Bobby was almost six foot tall but he felt weak and he weighed only one hundred and sixty-five pounds.

He had earned enough money cutting lawns and cleaning gutters over the summer to pay for a six month membership to Hank's. He had chosen to walk to the gym today, but he really didn't have a choice. His father worked nights at the Walmart, loading shelves and doing inventory so he was sleeping and his mother had been down on her luck for a while and was interviewing for a position at the post office today so he didn't even ask for a ride, didn't want to be any trouble to anyone.

So today was the day and Bobby was all alone and he was nervous and a little out of sorts, but he was excited, also.

As he opened the doors, he was engulfed by the smell of the place. It smelled like that Icy Hot stuff that Uncle Mike rubbed on his knees and elbows before he weight trained. And a mixture of that liniment smell and sweat and testosterone all came at him hard and then the music was so loud that he could barely hear himself think. He knew that it was Iron Maiden playing because his dad listened to them when he was out in the garage tinkering with his old truck. Hearing that music made Bobby feel a little more comfortable, more at home.

Nobody was manning the front desk so Bobby just stood there, waiting for someone to come to help him, and while he was waiting, he scanned the gym. In the far left corner, there were four guys at the hydraulic squat rack. One man was squatting with six plates on each side, doing rep after rep. He had knee wraps and a belt on and this dude was big. His legs looked like tree trunks as he handled the weight with a determination that Bobby hadn't seen before in his young life.  The man's face and bald head were red with exertion and his sleeveless shirt that read on the back, "Phil's Bar and Grill" was soaked with sweat as he pushed through a last rep and then set the bar back on the rack. The other lifters were sitting on a bench, placed in front of the rack and turned sideways. As soon as the one man got done squatting, another was wrapping his knees and then getting up and approaching the bar. Bobby was amazed at the size and thickness of these men. He wondered just how anyone got so big and strong. He was dying to know the secrets behind attaining this type of massiveness and strength.

Other areas of the gym were active too. On a wooden platform in the middle of the gym, a few men and one woman were deadlifting and they encouraged each other as they pulled some prodigious weight. They were serious; just the encouragement and the weights clanging were all that Bobby heard. There was no idle chatter.

There was a heavy bag in the far right corner and two members were in the process of destroying it, taking turns throwing hooks at full power. There was a dumbbell rack and some free standing benches towards the front of the gym, on the right side. Bobby watched as a man, wiry and defined, performed dumbbell benches and was spotted by an older woman who was also in great shape.

And there were a few machines, too. A few lat pulldowns, a  T-bar row, and a few Hammer type machines .

Bobby was still scanning the area when he noticed that the massive man who he had been watching squat was coming right towards him, and looking right at him. Bobby's heart was pounding as the man got closer to him.

"You Mike's nephew?"  

"Yes, my name is Bobby."  

"Nice to meet you. I'm Randy." Bobby glanced at this behemoth's arms. Veins snaked up his forearms and his biceps looked like they were stuffed with air. "Mike told me his nephew would be coming in. I told him that I would show you some stuff. I just got done squatting. You want to try some squats?"

"Yes, sir, I would like that very much."

Bobby knew to be polite and not say too much, his Uncle had advised him on the proper protocol. He told Bobby that the worst thing to do would be to go in there and run his mouth and act like he knew everything.

Randy introduced Bobby around to all the massive men, and he looked all of them in the eye and he shook their hand just as firmly as he could, being taught by his father that you only had one chance to make a good first impression and that a firm handshake and looking another man in the eyes was one of the keys to making that good first impression.

They headed towards the squat rack in the back. "Let me go through the squat with you, son." Randy said. And he went through it all with Bobby, from where your grip should be, the width of stance depending on how someone is built, the setup, the execution of the movement, the speed of the movement, how squats fit into a program, and the muscles that were being worked.

Then it was Bobby's turn. Randy started him off with just the forty-five pound bar. He coached him through the lift every step of the way.

"Remember, find that spot on the wall with your eyes and burn a hole in the damn thing! Keep your chin down slightly and keep it rigid. Push through the middle of your foot!" After ten reps, Bobby put the bar back in the rack. "Let's put a little weight on," Randy said, sliding a twenty-five pound plate on each side. "Okay, let's get a little training in," said Randy. "We will do five sets of five and I want you to focus on your checklist that we went over. Always do your checklist of grip, bar placement, the walk back, the width, chin position and where your body weight should be centered. Do that BEFORE you approach the bar every single time. And Bobby did just what Randy had told him. Randy didn't cut him any slack. After every set, he broke down what was right with the set, and what was wrong with the set. Randy kept putting more weight on each set, about ten pounds each time. He was testing Bobby, to see if he would back down, to see if he would say that it was too hard. Most kids were like that these days. But Bobby stayed strong.

Bobby could feel his legs in places that he had never felt before, and it was a unique feeling, like his muscles were screaming during the set and after the set, they almost felt sore already, deep down sore. Different than after basketball practice, he could feel this deep in his bones, it seemed.

"It's all new to you," Randy said, watching Bobby rub his legs,"but you will get used to it soon enough. I'm going light with you today, and you already feel it. But squatting is a skill like everything else. Your body has to find the correct groove for each exercise.  And you have to master the skill. I have done thousands of squats over twenty years. When I pick up the bar, it feels like an old friend to me, totally familiar."

When it got to the fifth set, Bobby was sweating profusely and his legs were visibly shaking. Randy chuckled, "Your body is wondering just what the hell is going on. But you will be amazed how it will adapt to the new stimulus. You will look back at your early workouts and laugh at how weak you were. You will be amazed at the progress and how quickly it comes." Bobby liked what he heard from Randy, because right now, just squatting what the weakest looking folks in the gym were squatting seemed like light years away for him. But Randy gave him hope that with hard work and consistency, the strength will come.

"Lets hit those hamstrings a little more."

They went over to the lying leg curl and Randy had him focusing on the contraction at the top and also had him lower the weight slowly. After three tough sets of ten reps, Randy told Bobby that he was done lifting for the day.

"Lets go get a shake and talk a little," Randy said. They walked over the counter and Randy bought them both a protein shake and they walked outside and sat on a bench against the red brick wall of the gym.  Randy took out a pen and notebook from his gym bag that was lying at his feet and handed it to Bobby. "Take notes," he said. "Okay, here we go. Training is number one, but that right there," said Randy, pointing at Bobby's protein shake, "that right there is important , too."

"This shake?"

"Well, what's in that shake. Protein. You need to eat a lot of it. Red meat, chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, milk and protein shakes are important. You need to eat some protein at every meal and also have a shake after training and before you go to bed. Don't worry about counting the grams, just have some at each meal for now. You have to do that, it's imperative. And you can have some carbohydrates too. With your build and your age, you won't get fat. You will burn everything right up. So eat fruits and veggies and don't worry if you have rice and some bread and pasta. And have some fats too. Take fish oil and eat avocados. And you have to sleep. No phone or television or video games when you are in bed. I want you to read until you fall asleep every night. Makes your eyes tired and you are learning , too. I want you to read this every night." Randy took out a weathered copy of Bill Starr's The Strong Shall Survive. "Read it," he said. "The guy knew his stuff. When you are done with that one, I have another one for you."

"Thanks," said Bobby.

"No problem, Randy said, "I have done this for people before, but usually they let me down. They go hard for a few days and then they quit. And that's what they tell me, that it was too hard. Well, that's the point. It's hard. Everything that is worth a damn in life is hard. I mean, people either want to get big and strong or not. It takes a lot of dedication, and most people don't have that. Bottom line is that folks like the idea of getting big and strong but it takes lifting weights for years, eating your protein and recovering and never missing a workout. People don't want to do it consistently so they remain pencil necks.  Don't be normal like everyone else. It's Will Over Hope, Bobby. You can't hope shit to happen, to hope that you will get big and strong. You must use your WILL to make it happen. You must have a strong will to succeed!  It's your choice, but damn, it feels good to be strong and have muscles. Your body will fight you every step of the way. Punish that sucker with hard work and great food. Make it grow. Grow or die! That's what we always say. It's do or die with this shit, man.  Bobby saw that Randy was getting fired up. "Squats 'til you wanna puke and deadlifts 'til the skin rips off your hands. You have to go for it everyday! You can still party some and have fun but your number one priority has to be becoming a specimen, a physical damn specimen! And another thing: Sometimes your mind messes with you. There will be days when you don't want to go to the gym. That's your mind messing with you. Screw your mind. Override it with pure fury!  Rage at its weakness! Your mind doesn't get a vote when it's acting like that, just go do the work. Most people take the road with least resistance. Don't be one of those people, Bobby. If you are really serious about this, I will see you tomorrow at 5:30 in the morning. We have some pressing to do. And get your own notebook and write down everything you did in the gym today and the food that you ate. I want to look at it. That is, if you have the balls to show up tomorrow."

Bobby thanked Randy and with a hearty handshake, headed home. He thought about Randy said. Bobby loved the workout, that was great. But Randy's words about dedication and being different are what got Bobby most excited. The chance to be different from everyone else appealed to Bobby. And damn! He wanted to be big and strong. So he decided to dedicate himself like Randy said to do, to be the guy who Randy would tell people was dedicated and never disappointed him.

He went home that night and ate beef and drank milk and lay in bed reading Bill Starr's book. Before he drifted off, he got up and wrote on a piece of paper, "Will Over Hope". He posted it on the wall in his room where he could see it last thing at night before he went to sleep and where he could see it first thing in the morning.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Bas' Barbell Gym and Bar

I started thinking how cool it would be to have a gym and bar combo to go to. A gym with old York weights and a heavy bag in the middle of the gym, and dumbells that go up to 200 plus pounds and where the music comes from a boombox in the corner. A gym where you can train shirtless and barefoot and where there isn't anyone checking social media or texting.  A place where you can get done with a great training session and go through the next set of doors and see all of your buddies and have a good time. A bar where everyone feels right at home. Where the mugs are always frosty and the bartender has an attitude but deep down inside she's a sweetheart but she does have a gun behind the mini fridge if anyone pisses her off.  One where the people police themselves. One where if you feel like punching someone in the face or getting punched in the face, everyone heads out back and the two participants put on some gloves and get it on. No big deal.

I have been in great gyms and I have been in great bars, but never the two combined. The time is now for this to happen! Hell, I will be the owner. So here are some of the rules for my establishment:

Some hard and fast rules for Bas Barbell's Gym and Bar

1. NO stretching allowed. In the gym or in the bar.

2. Chalk is allowed and encouraged.

3. No Velcro belts, ever.

4. Honorary president of gym-Kirk Karwoski  Honorary president of the bar- Ronnie Van Zant

5. No backpacks allowed unless they are camo and have a slot for a canteen

6. You must Deadlift a certain minimum weight to give advice to anyone- 700 for men, 405 for women

7. No whining (in the gym or the bar)

8. No false chatter, no cheering of any sort, no high fives, no clapping

9.  Absolutely no phones allowed except for the payphone on the wall at the back of the bar.

10. Music is controlled by the strongest person in the gym. One rule about the music no matter how damn strong you are: No rap

13. No tights/yoga thingies of any kind. Cut off sweat pants encouraged.

14. Use of the outdoor shower is on a first come first serve basis. Bring your own towel. The hose outside can also be used. 

15. Must know the password to come in. Password is Bill Starr

16. Maryland flag must be prominently displayed in gym and bar.

17. No water bottles. Absolutely none. Drink from the sink.

18. Official beer is Budweiser, official whiskey is George Dickel

19. Mason Jars are the only glasses to drink from in the bar.

20. Budweiser and a shot of Dickel are 5 dollars everyday

21. Jukebox in the corner of the bar must play only country, southern rock and metal. Marshall Tucker, Kieth Whitley, Merle Haggard, Skynyrd and Pantera (Not Cowboys from Hell), are the main artists on there. Each play costs a quarter.

22.  Fights are allowed but only in the field out back. No kicking, because Johnny B from Southwest Philly says that only girls kick in his neighborhood. So girls are allowed to kick when they fight, I guess.

Take it out back, Elvis!

23. Dogs are allowed and encouraged in the gym and bar area. Big dogs only. No yapping dogs. No fluffy dogs. No dogs with sweaters or bells. 

24. Dropping of dumbells allowed. Dropping of Mason Jars not allowed

24. Hats on frontwards or backwards, never sideways

25. Guns and knives are encouraged in bar area.

26. Six month trial for all new members, gym members must vote unanimously on the new member

27. Certain folks are grandfathered in-Randy White and any old Baltimore Colts

28. Any military active or retired are allowed in. If you are in the military and are not 21, you can still lift here and also drink here. If you are putting your life on the line for your country, you can have a few beers.

28. Food on the menu? Maryland Crabs, Steak, burgers, pork roll sandwiches, Old Bay fries, cream of crab soup, rockfish sandwiches.

29. Dart throwing area and knife/axe throwing area in the bar are used on a first come/first serve basis. 

30. No darts or knives or axes are allowed to be used while fighting. 

31. Sign the waiver so you can't sue anyone if you get your ass beat. Proper etiquette upon receiving an ass beating is to shake hands, walk back into the bar and buy your opponent a drink. 

32. No man buns. Even if you deadlift 1,000 pounds, no man buns.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Getting Back Into It , Week 4

Week 4!

Day 1

Squats and deadlifts. For the squats, add 10-15 pounds to last weeks 6x4 workout and drop down to 6 sets of 3. For the deadlifts, add 10-15 pounds to last weeks sets but do 5x5

Day 2

Bench press - warm up and then do 4x10 with 5 more pounds than last week
standing dumbell or barbell press add 5-10 pounds from last week and do 5x5
add Barbell shrugs 4x6

Day 3 -

This is an assistance day or bodybuilding day.
You will do 2x20 of all of these exercises. You can do them in a circuit, or you can do one exercise at a time, but make sure that you move fast (30-45 sec rest between sets) . The weights that you choose should be challenging but not to failure. I want you to feel great when you walk out of the gym.

Db bench press
seated laterals
any type of curls
Push ups
Chins or one arm rows

Cario? 90 minutes total this week. Still not a lot, and just make sure to sweat, don't go crazy

Diet- No carbs after 7 for 3 days this week. And there has to be 3 days where you eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Joy Of Kids

Kids are a real pain. I often wonder why I have kids and what the benefits are to having them. It's not for the joy of it, that's for sure.

I have three boys. The two who live with me are so wonderful.

Starting when they are infants, they become a crying, crapping, uncommunicative pain.

And then it gets no better. They begin to talk, and they invariably find that the word "NO!" wields a lot of power. It can make Daddy go nuts when you say it when Daddy tells you to do something, or when you say "NO!" after Daddy puts a meal in front of you that you swore was your favorite meal of all, or when Daddy tells you that its' time for bed or for a bath.

Thats one of my favorite things, when its bath or bed time. I mean, and I say this constantly, do you  want to be the dirty kid in school? You do see the mud on your knees that looks like it's been tattooed on there, right? And then when they get into the bath, they don't want to get out of the bath. Their skin will turn into raisin skin and they still won't want to get out. And soon, a Hot Wheels car will be stuck in the drain, and the kid will start crying because he knows that A) Daddy told him no cars in the bath, so Daddy will be pissed and B) If he would have gotten out of the bath when Daddy told him to, the car would not be stuck in the drain.  Uh oh, here comes Daddy!

And the bed thing! I cannot wait to go to bed at night. My kids act like they are being burned at the stake when I tell them to go to bed. I hate bed time. I hate telling them 47 times to go to bed before they start to comply. And then they say, I'm hungry! and you start to feel bad because maybe they really are hungry and you want them to grow, and should you deny them? And then they know how to get to me, they tell me that they just want to eat some protein and you just know that they are playing you like a fool, but you always fall for it, anyway. You set out some food and then they eat it grinning at me like the cat who just ate the canary.

My twelve year old  raises all kinds of hell when it's time to go to bed. Then he waits until I go to bed and then I hear him trying to be quiet as he sneaks around the house looking for his phone. I now keep the phone next to me, but he still tiptoes down the hallway, searching.

Sometimes, I get up out of bed real quietly and I burst in his room to try to catch him either looking at his phone or watching television. I swing that door open and he either tries to turn off the TV real fast (and he is quick) or he hides the phone and pretends that he's asleep.

"Whhhhaaaat is it?" he mumbles , acting like he's freaking been hibernating for weeks. "Lemme have the phone," I say. "I don't have it," he answers. I know he's lying, so I rip off his covers and it looks like there is a graveyard of phones and remote controls and even his computer from school. He couldn't possibly fit anything else under there if he tried. I don't even yell anymore, because it's happened so much. I just put out my hand and he gives me everything, slowly, like it's killing him.

And the seven year old has to be covered in bed just right, just like his mother does. Well, when his mother isn't around, I screw it all up. I don't remember that the bottom sheet goes to his waist, the big blanket goes mid chest level, and then some furry fleece thing covers his big old head. So shoot me, who can keep up with all of that? I finally get it right after like ten tries and then he can finally go to sleep.

And another thing that the seven year old does is kick me out of bed every night. He gets out of his bed every night and comes in like clockwork at around one o'clock and comes over to where I am sleeping. He actually taps me on the shoulder, indicating that it's time for the old man to get out of bed and move to the couch so that he can have my place. I comply, reluctantly. I have tried to tough it out and have all of us sleep in the same bed, but he has dreams where he's beating up his brother and he begins kicking and flailing his arms while still sleeping. After being kicked numerous times in the testicles, I have decided that the couch isn't a bad option after all.

There is more about the boys, especially the joy of car rides, but that's enough for now. I  can hear the two demons screaming at each other upstairs. Pretty soon the seven year old will cry and start swinging. The twelve year old will be laughing and teasing him. It is inevitable that it all will happen. I'm used to it and  on the way up the basement steps, I start asking myself if I am being punished for something. Or  is it a big joke that is being played on me?

 This kid thing! So much fun. I lie in bed (actually the couch) every morning and wonder what the day will bring with the two hellions.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Remembering The Wiz

The late Robert Hill, "The Wiz", was a boxing trainer of mine. He was a Marine,  pro boxer, garbage man, collector, pimp and an all around nice guy. I guess that he was around six foot one and two hundred and fifteen pounds.  When I first began training with him, I figure that he was in his mid fifties. I trained with him on and off for six or seven years give or take.

I began training with him years ago at Daddis MMA in Philly. We would meet early in the morning, 5:30 am or 6am . I'd walk in and his greeting was always, "JIM! How you feel?", and then he'd say, "Okay, Jim, tell me when you are ready."  "Ready" meant get ready to hit the mitts. He didn't care if I jumped rope or did a bunch of other stuff first. To the Wiz, doing mitt work was when the work really began. He did a 25 punch " Wiz Special" that you needed to perfect . It consisted of a  25 punch combination sequence  that you had to get in correct order and execution to get certified in the "Wiz Special". He excelled in holding the mitts. He would work the living tar out of me.  We would always do a minimum of 5, 3 minute rounds. I'd be dry heaving like I was gonna puke and he'd say,"Come on, Jim! Let's get your son over here, he can do better than that!" and it would incense me and I'd punch the wrong mitt in my fury and he'd hit me in the face which would infuriate me even more.

And we would keep going, and invariably I would drop my right hand when I would throw a left hook and he'd smack me in the head over and over. But I learned eventually. If I didn't want to get hit, keep my hands up. Then we'd do a drill called "10's" on the heavy bag. It consisted of a series of 10 digs on the bag and then 10 straight punches high on the bag and the drill was a good one, tons of punches in short amount of time. Here is the 10's drill in detail.

 We would alternate, Wiz and I. It was a brutal drill and Wiz would go through it with no issues. And the we would get done and he'd say, "We gotta do some Romans, Jim."  He meant roman chair sit ups which crushed the discs in my back but I did them anyway because I didn't want to disappoint the Wiz.  Then he'd grab a med ball and we would throw it at each other's stomachs to toughen up the midsection, get it prepared to take punches. If there was a woman training with him and it was her first lesson, he would always ask her, "Is you pregnant?" before he threw the ball at her belly. He'd also let new clients punch him in the belly when they first walked in to be trained by him. After the person would punch Wiz in the belly, he'd always ask, "Is that all you got?"

Once in a while, we would spar. He would see everything that I was gonna throw before I threw it. I would try real hard and he would counter my punches right away.

One time, when I was between marriages, I was closing up bars every night of the week and raising all kinds of hell, trying to find out what life was really all about in the beer soaked neon signs nights. I'd be ready to leave the bar at midnight. After all, I had  a lesson with the Wiz at 5:30 the next morning. But then the owner of the bar would come sit next to me and he'd ask me where I thought that I was going so early in the night, and I'd say, I gotta go, but I didn't really want to go home to my apartment, all alone. The owner would begin buying me shots and pretty soon it was 2 in the morning and I had to get home, get my ass to bed and get ready to throw up the next day. I showed up one morning, clearly hung over and I walked in and Wiz was already sparring. "You are next, Jim," he said, matter of factly. I jumped in the ring and Wiz commenced to beat the hell out of me and I got so frustrated and ended up throwing my headgear across the gym because I was so pissed off at myself for staying out all night and not being ready.

And we would train together months at a time and then I'd get into Muay Thai or bodybuilding and lose touch with Wiz for awhile. Time would go by and I'd want to see Wiz and I started bringing him to where I worked to train me and some staff members. He lived in a rough area in South Philly on Oregon Avenue. I'd pick him up on the corner of Passyunk and Oregon Avenue. He'd be buying lottery tickets as I pulled up. At the workout, he would hold the mitts for everyone, and he'd be drenched in sweat, working hard.  After,  he'd go to the Veterans Hospital so that they could look at his bum knee and whatever else was ailing him.

Wiz also was my corner man at a tough man contest I fought in years ago. He showed up with a spoon in an ice bucket. I was like, what the hell is that? Wiz told me that the frozen spoon was old school and meant to reduce swelling on my face.

 Halfway through the fight, my nose was broken and blood was everywhere. I walked over  the corner and Wiz asked, "How you feel, Jim?" I said, "Like shit! Tell me what to do!" And Wiz said, I swear that he sad this-  "You need to Duck!" I looked at him, waiting for more advice. Nothing more came, so I ventured back into the ring.

A few years ago, Wiz passed away. I don't think that he had much when he went. But he did leave an impression on those that he trained. I think, technically, there were better boxing coaches out there. But Wiz was one of a kind, a good man who took great pride in the folks that he trained and he did it with all of his heart. I can still hear him now, "C'mon, Jim!"

Getting Back Into It, Week 3

Week 3!

Day 1

Squats and deadlifts. This week we will change it up a little. For the squats, add 10-15 pounds to last weeks 5x6 workout and drop down to 6 sets of 4. For the deadlifts, stay the same weight as last week but do 4x8
Remember, short and sweet.
Day 2

Bench press - warm up and then do 4x8 with 5 more pounds than last week
standing dumbell or barbell press add 5-10 pounds from last week and do 5x7
add db shrugs 3x12

Day 3 -

This is an assistance day or bodybuilding day.
You will do 3x15 of all of these exercises. You can do them in a circuit, or you can do one exercise at a time, but make sure that you move fast and you are huffing and puffing and sweating. The weights that you choose should be challenging but not to failure. I want you to feel great when you walk out of the gym.

Db laterals, seated
Db incline bench
hammer curls
Push ups
Chins or one arm rows

Same cardio as last week! Ride a bike for 60 total minutes this week. Or walk, or any cardio that you prefer. Just sweat. Don't go crazy. You should be able to have a conversation while doing it. So you have 60 total minutes. That could be 2, 30 minute sessions, 6, 10 minute sessions, 1, 60 minute session.You decide!  Whatever. Just get 60 minutes in.

Diet- No carbs after 7 or 3 days this week. For 2 days, I want you to count your protein grams. You should be at 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. See how close you are, I want you to become aware of your protein intake.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Strength Or Kumbaya?

What make you think that the "old ways" are the bad ways? What makes you think that what the pioneers of strength training were wrong in what they were doing in the 60's, 70's 80's? That if you took the baddest NFL player, a death machine, and trained him like the old guys did with cleans and snatches and front squats and back squats and presses and all of that they wouldn't be better than someone who uses bands as resistance and stands on a ball for gods sake and doesn't get his muscles, tendons and ligaments so strong that they can withstand all the forces that they have to face on the field?

What makes people think that freaking yoga benefits an athlete that is loading his spine with 500 plus pounds over and over again? Its better to stretch in ungodly, unnatural positions over and over and then expect the athlete to be able to be tight like a spring on the field when he explodes to knock the snot out of someone or overstretch their shoulders over and over and then wonder why he tears his shoulder up when he puts his arm down on the field to balance himself?

The problem is that you have people making decisions on what the athlete really needs and they have never really lifted heavy and seen the benefits or played a sport where your life is in danger if you are the weak, hyper flexible one.

I have had an (cough) administrator (defined as someone who meddles into strength coach business and has endless meetings about a "value system" or some horseshit to justify their jobs) ask one of my assistants , " What's with all those heavy weights? What's with all that squatting?"

 Okay, dummy, put a football lineman in the game and have him go against a bad ass who is benching 405, squatting 600 and cleaning 350 and all your guy has done is stretched and breathed and practiced mindfulness and some positive thinking? Talent being equal, your flexible, mindful kid will find his dick in the dirt over and over.  I'll tell you one of my favorite stories on how being strong and lifting heavy matters. I had a collegiate linebacker go home for the summer one year. He left about 225 or so. He needed to get bigger and stronger. I expected him to and told him so. Then he comes back to camp and I swear, he weighed like 203. He was small and his maxes went down. But I'm quick coach! My trainer told me that I needed to be more flexible and I really worked on it! I feel great! And I'm like, okay, we shall see. And then we get in the first game and the other team has a freshman running back weighing around 225 and a total killer. He came through the hole one time and this linebacker kid stepped up and BAM! 

The linebacker who was flexible as hell (but weak as a kitten left on the side of the road for weeks) helmet came flying off (I swear it went ten yards in the air) and there were freaking cleat marks on his chest as he got stepped on and thoroughly destroyed.

You see, one of the problems is that people get done with all the fad workouts and say, well, I feel great, and I'm sure that they do.  Because when you get done with 5x5 at 500 in the squat or dead lift, you don't feel great, you feel like shit. But if you are that strong, you know that feeling like shit means that you will kick ass on the field. You walk out after the workout, shaking, numb as hell, hand shaking as you raise the protein shake to your mouth. Oh, that's not healthy. Yeah, it is. We were meant to challenge our bodies with Herculean tasks that test every bit of our mettle.   But those strenuous bouts will all be worth it on Saturday. And you know this. When you are done playing sports, and you want to find yourself , be as flexible as you want to be. Breath deeply and eat tofu and cry at a dead deer on the side of the road. Hold hands and sing Kumbaya while sipping on a pumpkin spice latte.  But if you are playing sports and want to be great, burn your stretching and breathing mat and chant to the Almighty Gods Of Squat and Meat, because you are gonna need strength to be great and injury free and to dominate.

And it's the same with every sport. Talent being equal, the stronger athlete will always win. It doesn't matter if the other guy practiced deceleration (cleans teach that the best), or stood on a ball and hailed Satan or  rubbed his belly and chewed gum while chanting some yogi chant, if their opponent is strong as hell, they will be laughing at you all the way to the winners podium.

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.