Thursday, September 7, 2017


Isn't it funny how there are different levels of men? Like rankings of men, if you will. 

Some of this is tongue in cheek, so relax. 

There are the badasses. These are men who do not sweat the little things. They are usually (in my experience) former college athletes or military or cops or EMT or firefighters or have been through some serious stuff in their lives, stuff that made them realize what is really a big deal and what isn't. These are men who fight for what they believe in. These are men who are strong, and in great shape.  These are men who are laid back when they aren't in action. Men who follow no trends. They are kind to little kids and older folks. And loyal to a fault.  They are men who constantly say, "No problem" and just get things done. They are alpha males in the sense that when stuff goes bad, folks look to them first. They hunt, fish, shoot, eat meat, drink whiskey. And they are smart. They don't accept mediocrity in anything. They give you their all, all of the time. They listen to music with instruments in it. They don't dance. Well,  maybe a slow dance in 11th grade at the Sadie Hawkins Dance, maybe. Usually bearded, usually can fight their asses off and usually listen to Metal and Country. And drive trucks. They love knives. And bars with plywood floors.

Then there are those men who panic at the drop of a hat, who constantly think that the sky is falling, the Chicken Little's of the world. Oh man, everything is drama and whining and softness and they sorta lift weights and they act like a squat workout is so traumatic. But their numbers are stagnant and citizen-like.  Meanwhile, their own mediocrity is going strong. They are so self involved and self important that they don't realize that life moves on with or without them and nobody really cares. I have known coaches like that: They think that they know it all, but behind their back, everyone is laughing at them. They use big words but those words don't mean anything. They dazzle with bullcrap to those that don't know any better.  I hear the stuff all of the time.  I'm like, HE DIDNT SAY ANYTHING! He just moved his hands around a lot, said some corny expressions  and tried to look wise. They ask questions to hear an answer that they want to hear and when they don't get it, they dismiss the answer as wrong. They criticize what they don't understand. That's easier right?

Of course, they are not self aware enough to realize it. They are usually attention whores. Some hide behind religion as a crutch to excuse their bad behavior or their weakness. They bend religion to fit their needs. It don't work like that, but they don't get it. Jesus wasn't a coward. They are more judgmental than loyal. It's their way or nothing. And their way is usually cheesy, dramatic and self serving.

Monday, August 14, 2017


I have a column all ready to go that I wrote about women and lifting weights and why there are stereotypes about women getting bigger and more muscular by lifting weights and society's idea of what a woman should look like, all soft and dainty.  And why some women and some men say, "OH GROSSS!" when they see a muscular or even halfway muscular woman and how shallow that is for them to not consider the work that went in to building that body and that maybe, just maybe, that is how women are supposed to look, and maybe that's the look that they should strive for in their exercise regimen. And doesn't someone who is athletic as hell and looks like she could defend herself to the end look great?

But then I thought, why even go down that road? It doesn't help anything getting all excited about it, people are gonna do what they are gonna do and think like they wanna think.

 But then I thought, where did all that come from, the idea that any type of softness is good? Evolutionarily speaking, how did being soft and weak help versus being strong and muscular? I bet the weak couldn't cut it and the tribe left them behind when they couldn't keep up and some saber-toothed something or other had a nice, tender snack. That is just common sense, bygod. But whatever. Get your matching outfit on and do your ten pound curls. I'd rather watch the Crossfit Games and see those girls getting after it like they are meant to .

Zach-Even Esh and I did a podcast the other day, and we were talking about how there were very few overweight kids back when we were in elementary and junior high schools. There was maybe a few kids in the whole school who needed to drop a few pounds. It was unusual. I spoke to a group of high school kids the other day, and by my estimation, over half of them were carrying too much adipose tissue.

And then I was watching a movie about Evel Knievel and they were showing the crowd at the Snake River Canyon and there were plenty of wiry, almost skinny folks but I don't recall seeing anyone with any weight issues. Why is that? Video games!

Just kidding. I have spoken with plenty of smart people that I respect tremendously about the reasons behind the overweight epidemic and there seems to be a general consensus of cheap, crappy food, the prevalence of advertising that gluts our airwaves espousing the positive aspects of high sugar food, the lack of playing outside by youth today, lack of education among parents.

If you are 40 or older, you most likely remember the carefree days of your youth where you played all day and then came inside to eat wholesome, home made food. Meatloaf, green beans, fresh fruit, burgers, salads, etc.  Yes, some ice cream once in awhile, but nobody in my neighborhood went out to eat except on special occasions. McDonald's was reserved for special occasions, like when my Adelphi Boys Club 75 lb football team beat Bladensburg at Fletcher's Field in the mud. But It was just a hamburger, small fries and maybe a small Coke.

Then the supersize came and then supersize folk.

I have no answers for it all, no solutions except education and awareness of the issues.

Speaking of nutrition, Joe Rogan's podcast with keto researcher Dom Dagostino was one of the best that I have heard in a long time. amazingly informative. You won't wanna eat carbs after listening to that one, and I'm gonna stop after a slice of my son's birthday cake. Maybe.

Now, Check this out- 42 reps!

Friday, July 21, 2017

First Time

I'm thinking of days gone by, I'm thinking of when I just started lifting weights. 

I was in 7th grade and we had gym class. We had our blue and yellow gym uniforms on. They were like these wool punishment clothes that they made us wear. Didn't matter, we put em on and didn't say a word. We went into a small room next to the main gym and in that room sat a Universal Machine. Basically a multistation stack loaded circuit. Bench, military, curls, leg press, etc. It was pretty cool.It looked some medieval torture device. 

 Anyway, I thought that I was strong, until my friend, Davrill, benched 20 pounds more than me and he weighed a lot less than me, 25 pounds or so. I got pissed off, and started asking him questions. How did he get so strong? How did he get his arms and chest so big? His chest was bulging through his uniform.  He said, You gotta eat protein, Jimmy, and take protein powder and do your benches, flies and curls. My head was spinning.

Davrill told me that he trained at the Boy's Club near his house. He invited me to go there. I boarded his bus after school and we were on the way. Darrell lived near the Washington DC line, in a rent controlled apartment high rise. This was quite a change for a kid like me from the suburbs.  We went up to where he lived, met his parents and brother, dropped our school stuff off and headed to the Boy's Club. 

I don't think there was a squat rack in the place, but there were plenty of big dudes in there with massive chest's and biceps. Legs weren't big back then. It was the era of Arnold and Arnold was all about chest and biceps, and everyone used the Weider Arm Blaster because of that famous picture with Arnold doing ez curls with it around his shoulders.

Bench and curls where the order of the day. In fact, I get the feeling looking back that bench and curls was the order of the day every day in that place. Lots of pumping, set after set, volume, volume, volume.

What Davrill had was a bunch of older dudes who cared about the kids in the neighborhood and helped them with lifting if they showed interest. It was a way to keep the kids out of trouble and keep them off of the streets. Those guys helped me as soon as Davrill introduced me. Set after set of bench (feet in the air), probably 10-15 sets, just pumping, and then curls and more curls. 

When we walked outside after the workout, I remember feeling so great, my muscles felt filled up, I was tired but a good type of tired, ya know what I mean? That magical pump had taken hold and I knew right then that I loved that feeling and I would be chasing that feeling for a long, long time. I was like, Davrill, I feel great! He said, thats the pump. Jimmy! Oh, I said, I love it!

 Darrell let me borrow his muscle magazines. The first one was Muscle Up! Magazine, and had Tom Platz on the cover. And then a Muscle Mag International with Mentzer on it. Wow! People actually look like they do? I was enthralled and read every single word in both magazines. And they were good. Problem is, I took it too far and would bring muscle magazines to school, and instead of focusing on my Algebra, I would read the magazines, hence summer school Algebra. But! I wouldn't trade it for anything.

 For once, I had found something, other than football, that I loved, and I was going to learn all that I could so that  pumped feeling would come back again and I wanted know the fastest, best way to get that feeling and also to get super strong and what to eat, and how many reps , and just who is this Arnold guy? A lifelong love, and a whole new world had been discovered. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017


I was emailing a soldier friend of mine the other day, and we were talking about training. He has had a history of low back injuries and shoulder issues. He was saying that he has started to train for bike racing, but that his strength has taken a hit with all the riding. I told him that was no big deal, that he should train twice a week as heavy as he can, try to maintain, but that riding is his priority, and that is good.

Why is it good? Because I am firmly convinced that periods of hard training where weights are number one should be alternated with periods where weights aren't the priority. Of course you still train, (everybody knows that), but your new activity takes priority. This accomplishes a few things:

1. If you are the type of person that can't take a break from weights because it makes you feel soft and weak, you have permission mentally to kick butt in another activity.  You are still training hard, just in something else. It's mental, and it works. 

2. I think it increases your longevity in regard to lifting. You can't stay foot down on the accelerator all the time, so backing off may reduce those little injuries that pop up when your brain and body get a little stale.  Lets say that you are boxing, for example. You train boxing for 6 weeks and you jump rope and shadow box and hit the mitts and you still get in the weight room a few times a week but the weight training is fast and you are in and out after a half hour. Then after your six weeks is up, you go back to a heavier lifting schedule. This can be done 2-3 times a year.  Change the activity- kickboxing, bike riding, a Spartan Race, or maybe you want to break your old mile time or a 40 yard sprint time. Have fun with it. 

You can also switch up your training in the weight room if training for another activity isn't your cup of tea. If you are a powerlifter, try some bodybuilding and high reps. And bodybuilders can try some powerlifting or olympic lifting. How about bodyweight training? Dips, Chins, walking lunges, burpees, all done outside in the fresh air. 

 We all know that everything in this game is mental and if you change it up and then go back, you feel refreshed and motivated. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Certain Memories, Future Thoughts

And you are coming to me but then you aren't ,and you are right in front of me but then you are just a light through the curtain. Daunting light, splashing of light, light that reminds me of a lonely and scared youth

Certain memories, future thoughts.

 December. I am hunting on the Upper bay. It's goose season, and I am in a blind with my dog and a  friend, Steve. The morning is beginning. It's amazingly beautiful. Snow flurries begin and we both smile. It's like a Ducks Unlimited picture, I say. Steve nods.  My dog looks at the both of us, and we know that she knows. This is special. We have put our two hundred decoys already. I did not get much sleep last night. I still get excited like a little kid the night before I go hunting or fishing. It's the most fun that I have.

1988. Summertime in Maryland. It’s 100 degrees, and its humid and its sweltering and its just like all of the years before when I have trained. Almost fifteen years of football?  Seems like all of my life. I am sweating, dripping sweat. I love every second of it. Its “throw up hill” and it seems like an old friend of mine. Sixty yards long, complete with rocks and gravel and sand and sometimes even a small tree laid across it with a natural spring fed stream that you must jump over at the beginning of the hill. Jumping over the brook starts the vertical sprint. Nestled deep in the woods of suburban Washington DC, a veritable woodland paradise that has been your secret training place for many years. If I can make 10 of these hills without puking my brains out, then I know that I am in shape for football season. It's a challenge, a challenge that I must push myself through every offseason. You get that feeling, sprinting up the hill,  that your legs just want to stop moving as you get about halfway up. You will yourself to the top, pumping your arms to help you get there. Sand and gravel kicking up behind you. Not that bad, you think as you reach end. And then the long walk down the hill begins. The Hill hits you then, the oxygen deficit, the quivering legs. How many reps have I done? Was that 2 or 3? You can’t remember. So you decide on 2. Always better to do an extra one than to cheat yourself. The 60 yard hill has some rules, self made rules. One of them is that as soon as you reach the bottom, you must go again right away. No resting.

And then it is night time. All is quiet. I can hear my breath, my heart beating slowly, strongly. I start to wonder just how many beats of the heart that I have put through hell has left in this life. It is finite, ya know, this crazy span of nothing that we are given to smile through, to grin and bear it through, and quite brutally, to suffer through. Because we all get in in the end. No matter what you are, your success level, your material wealth, your thoughts and aspirations, your kids and your vacations, your big promotion, all of it. We all end up shitting and pissing ourselves in the end, wishing that we had taken more chances, wishing that fear never stopped us from a goddam thing. It all doesn’t seem so important what people think now, does it? Hit the nurses button and see the look on her face as she fake smiles her way through another sponge bath. You scan the room for your family, nobody is there. Your wife died a few years back, and you have been a burden to your kids ever since, going from house to house to live, a border in their houses. You feel useless, unwanted, and although nobody ever said that to you, it’s the way that you feel. Fear of what, man, fear of what? You should have done it all, you should have published that book, gone to Europe, fought that fight, walked away and done what you really loved, seen the world, made that phone call, made that speech, shook that hand, spent that money, ran that race.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


I don't want to see anyone, don't want to be near anyone.

All the cars, all the people, they just keep coming at you. It never stops, it is endless. A sea of smartasses who need to be shown that there will be consequences for all of their actions.

 All of them are just no damn good. The trash man who said something smart to me the other day, so cool hanging on the side of the trash truck. The rude hostess at the Mexican restaurant, the ass who cut me off in traffic,  Oh! How about the jerk who won't let you in when your lane is ending? Oh, you are so tough with your white shirt and tie, so safe behind your who- knows- how- much- you- paid -for- it- but- its- much -more- than- my- salary car that I would not be caught dead in. Hell, you can't hunt or fish or put a muddy Labrador retriever in it, so what good is that? Status? Status doesn't mean a damn thing to me. You will crumble just like everyone else.

 I can do without them all, every single one of them.

All these people, all the talking, all the meaningless crap that everyone is spewing out of their overused traps. Goddam, just sit there once and look around , observe , don't talk about yourself, about how you look, or if your profile is up to date. Sit.

And then

I am walking with my kids on the boardwalk of a crowded beach resort. Man, the humanity.  And I have to be ever vigilant with my five year old so that some sick bastard doesn't try to nab him when I am not looking. What kind of sick world do we live in today? Bunch of weirdo's , man.  I see it in their eyes when I look at them. How do they live? How do they make it through life? I see them smile at my kids and I want to break appendages off of them. What the hell are you smiling about? I picture myself hitting them as hard as I can, right in the throat. I picture myself, with my knife, slicing them up as they reach for my son. 

Ever vigilant, ever wary, ever alert. Stay sharp, stay ready, keep training. Listen to everything that Green Beret Tim Kennedy says, and listen to soldiers and cops talk about the dregs of society. They have seen the worst, they know just how bad it can get and how very quickly it can go bad. My detective buddy goes to Chuck E Cheese with his granddaughter and keeps his hand on his pistol the whole time that he is there, watching because of the scumbags that he has dealt with on the job. Oh, you are so paranoid, says one of my lawyer friends. Really? Last I checked, there was a convicted child molester living in my neighborhood. LIVING. Get the rope out and slap the horse right in the ass. Giddyup.

Just get gone

It all makes me want to go so damn far out in the country that nobody can mess with me or mine. And not just for the kids sake , for everything and everybody and for sanity.. Try being around people for an extended period of time, or even a short period of time. And when it comes to training with weights, especially when it comes to training with weights, people are so full of excuses that I don't even bother. Excuses. I don't feel well, I have a pain right here, I didn't sleep well last night, I have a cold, I, I, I I, I. Too much, because I could care less, I just want to train and I gave up on pretty much everybody a long time ago.  Because when I am ready to go, I am ready to go. Screw your gym bag or your pre workout or your special outfit.  You should have been ready. Look at your phone once and I am gone. Most of the time I train solo, I squeeze out the reps, I do 10 sets or 20 sets or 6 reps or 50 reps and I don't have to explain myself one bit.

It could be so perfect

I see this picture: A cornfield. Cut out of the cornfield is a path. Follow it and you will see my cabin. It is summer and it is 5:30 AM. Feel the heat starting to rise up and hear the hum of the  locusts as a far away glint of daylight starts to become visible. My family is inside the cabin, sleeping. Safe.  My dog and I are training. I am squatting on an old pair of York squat stands. Between sets, I throw a bumper for my Labrador to retrieve. She brings it back and it is time for my set. She watches me dutifully. Five reps done and I throw it again. And again.  Sometimes, after she gets all heated up, I tell her to, "Get some water," and she runs down to the pond and launches herself into the cool water. She swims and drinks and then returns to me. Time for a set. I can't think of a finer life. No phones buzzing, no music, no talking. Just life, my life, pure and simple and cut and dried, and just what I want it to be.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Best Workout

Ever since I was a kid, I loved splitting wood. I was fortunate to grow up with a hundred or so acres of woods behind my house. Trees fell constantly, and my Dad and my Uncle George would cut it up with chainsaws and I would commence to splitting. I'd try to get as much done before my Dad came home from work and I wouldn't stack it either. I'd leave it scattered all over the backyard just so it would look cool and he would really see how much work that I had done. And he would stand on the back porch overlooking the backyard and he would say, "Wow, good job, Jimmy." And that is all that I needed to hear. That was my reward. And maybe that is one of the reasons that I like splitting wood so much, because I associate approval from my father with it. But its probably more about that I like the challenge of it.

I like it because I am all alone, except maybe my dog, and I can sort stuff out in my head if I want to, but I don't have to either. I can just focus on the wood and get lost in all of it.

 I absolutely love seeing the finished product right in front of me,  it is instant gratification. And it is by far my favorite workout. After a few hours of doing it, I am drenched in sweat, my forearms and biceps and shoulders are all blown up and you feel so damn alive.

Being inside on a hot day in a gym is not fun for me.  I have always loved hot days, the hotter the better. Lifting weights outside is good but doing some actual work outside and getting a great workout at the same time is the best.  I always wonder, evolutionarily speaking, why certain activities are so satisfying. Planting flowers doesn't do anything for me , but moving dirt and splitting wood satisfies  some inner caveman yearnings that other stuff just can't touch.  You mow the lawn and its boredom, drudgery. Let's get this over with as fast as possible. But picking up an axe and crushing something that can actually be used for firewood or building or whatever is where it's at for me. And no, I can't hit a tire. It's fine if you wanna do it as a workout, it's just not for me. Bong, Bong, bouncing off the rubber, no satisfaction in a finished product, just Bong, Bong.

So getcha an axe, find a woodpile and start splitting. Let your mind get right in there, finding the right lines in the wood to hit, and when you feel that axe go all the way through the wood for the first time, I promise you that you will be hooked on this type of training for life.


I was speaking with a friend of mine one day. This friend is a verifiable  badass, death machine, fighter, shooter, lifter, hunter, father, husband, athlete, soldier, etcetera.

And with all of that, with all of the attributes that he possesses that make him a capable as hell son of a gun in my book, I had to ask him one day:

What makes someone a real man?

And you know what he said?

" A real man is someone that helps his friends when they need help until they don't need his help anymore. And he should keep helping them before he ever worries about taking care of himself."

And that surprised me. It floored me. And it pleased me and it gave me a feeling of relief that someone such as he would be aware enough to get it and to be a well rounded person who realized that along with his ability to do all of the badass things, that he still has the ability to perhaps do the most baddass thing and that is his ability to be totally selfless. And with all of his experience in life, he has come to realize that his friends are what matters, his brothers in arms.

And it is a lesson, perhaps , for those who want to listen and to now take a deep breath and  let your shoulders relax a little and  just let it go a little or more than a little and stop worrying about yourself.

Hell, man, stop worrying about everything. I am worried right now. Worried about a loved one going into the hospital, worried about my parents getting older, there is always something to worry about.

And what good does it do? Nothing. Doesn't help a damn thing, but I know enough that I won't stop worrying but I will try to do better and that maybe the best thing to do for me and for all of it is to just let go and do or be something selfless, for a better cause, for action against selfishness and action for selflessness.

And I submit that the selflessness has some selfishness in it too, because it makes you feel good when you are helping your friends or family, but thats okay. Go with that feeling and know that it means a whole lot to whom you are helping and nothing wrong with it making you feel good as well.

So maybe that is the answer. Think of others. Ignore yourself and your thoughts. Not sure what we all control anyway. Seems like life just moves on and we all are pretty damn expendable.

 Might as well make somebody feel good as we just hurtle along.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


I had to put my dog, Bas, to sleep the other day. I woke up in the morning and found him lying there, and he didn't know where he was, he couldn't see or hear. He couldn't stand up.

He didn't want to drink water, he didn't want to eat. It was time, and I knew it. I was telling him that it was okay, it's okay, buddy. And my shoulders started heaving and the sobs started coming and then my son yelled, "What's wrong with Bas?" and he started crying when he saw him. So I picked him up and usually he'd squirm around when I did that but this time he just let me carry him. I set him outside with my wife while I called to find an emergency vet to take him. I walked to the truck to get the back seat ready for him and I punched at the air as hard as I could out of life just being the way it is and goddam that's my best friend lying there. 

I put him in the truck and we went.

So I took him to the emergency vet and I carried him into the examination room because he couldn't walk and I was petting him, waiting for the assistant to come in and give him a shot to make him sleepy and I was looking Bas over. His elbows had no fur on them, he had all kinds of screws and a rod in his shoulder. He had a tumor on his side that had progressively gotten bigger over the last few months. His hips were shot. They collapsed on him at times when he was running and it took him forever to get up the basement steps.  He had all kinds of scars and his muzzle was gray.

He'd been on a downward slide for a while, and I knew that it was coming. He'd retrieved the night before, he got that in. I was even able to take him swimming last week, and although he couldn't find the bumper that I threw for him, he loved being in the water. 

And I started thinking that he did it right. He crushed life. He went as hard as he could for as long as he could and he wore everything out that he had until there was no more to give, all of him was spent and he never once held back. He was loyal, hard as nails and brave. He used it up, he spent his life hunting and running and swimming and breaking through brush and flooded timber marshes and never hesitated, not once. Full speed into the water, full speed into the brush. 

One time he made a seemingly impossible retrieve on a duck that landed in flooded timber and I didn't even see where it went down after I shot it. When I saw him swimming back to me, I blew the "come" call on the whistle and then he sat next to me with the duck in his mouth and I was so proud of him that I yelled, " Good boy!" , and with that, he got excited, jumped up and hit me in the chin with his hard ass head. I still had the whistle in my mouth and my two front teeth chipped off in the perfect shape of the whistle that I still had in my mouth. It was worth it though. What a good boy.

Another time I was goose hunting with some other guys and their Lab's. We shot a goose, but it was just wounded and a wounded goose is pretty nasty. One of the guys sent his Lab out there after the goose and that goose hissed and reared up and that Lab came running back into the blind without the goose. So then I sent Bas. He hit that goose full speed and sent it flying and proudly brought it back to me, tail held high in the air. I was yelling,"Did you see that? What a tackle! Like Dick Freakin' Butkus!"

He retrieved his last goose two years ago. It was wounded also, but Bas tracked it down and brought it back. He wasn't as fast as he once was but he was still a retrieving fool and get this- he was so happy to go get that goose that when he was sitting next to me with it in his mouth, he was actually whining with joy. The boy loved doing what he was bred to do. 

It is weird thinking of life without him. Dogs become family and they put up with you through all of your moods and they can tell when you need them and they can tell when you just want to be with them and not anyone else. I never could imagine life without him and I am trying not to think about it too hard right now, I am trying to put it deep in my head where I can store it and not get sad and choked up because hell, if you think about it, he had a great life, he did it right, like everyone should do it. Dogs are something, man. You read all these books and everyone speaks of about being present and in the moment and damn if humans don't struggle with that a whole bunch. Not dogs, and certainly not Bas.  Right now was all that mattered and right now is all that ever should matter. 

After putting Bas down yesterday, my 10 year old son and I loaded my other Lab, Storm into the truck  drove down to Maryland to my buddy Steve's farm. Bas loved it there, it is a retriever paradise.  My son and I started fishing but something didn't quite feel right to me, so I stopped. Now , I never stop fishing. But I needed to work something off, and Steve had a huge pile of oak stumps and I put my rod down and asked Steve if I could split some of that wood. We went up to the top of the hill and I split the wood for about an hour. And Bas' face would come into my head once in a while and I'd hit that stump harder when it did because it started to mess me up inside and when I was done I was soaked in sweat from head to toe, I could wring my shirt out with the sweat that I accumulated. I love that kind of work, and I didn't want to sit around feeling sorry for myself for not having my buddy around anymore, I wanted to work those tears out in sweat. 

When Steve and I were done working, we walked into his garage and we sat down he grabbed us both two ice cold beers and we toasted to Bas. 

Steve said,

"Here's to Bas.  He was a good boy." 

Damn, I loved that dog. Here's to you, Bas.

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.