Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Surf the Big Waves

Has anyone done anything great without working hard and being dedicated?

Whether it is for powerlifting, weightlifting, losing weight, gaining muscle, or greatness in any endeavor, dedication and sacrifice have to rein supreme if you want to be great.

Even if you are a genetic freak and naturally talented in your chosen endeavor, when you are competing against someone just as genetically blessed and talented as you, if that person has better work ethic and is more dedicated than you are, you will lose.

 For instance, if you are not making the strength gains that you desire, break down everything that you are doing, and more importantly, everything that you are not doing that may be hindering your gains.

When one begins training, usually everything that they do in the gym works. And then, you start to have a bad day in the gym once in a while. The big deadlift day felt awful , every rep was a struggle, and you just don't feel sharp, you just don't feel recovered. That's when the folks who want to get big and strong break it all down and get right; nutrition and rest and massage, and alleviating many stressors, no random training, and a positive outlook. 

Because if you are working hard, the work ethic is strong, but you are not focusing on what you do the other 23 hours a day, your progress will never be optimal. And more important to me, you are wasting the workout that you put so much time into. I have done it many times, eating Mcdonald’s or having some beers or staying up too late. Your body is like, Here we go again!  Let me deal with all this other stuff that he is doing to me before I even start to repair muscle. At least that's the way I think about it. I hate that feeling when you wake up the next morning and nothing feels complete. Like your training was fine, but all the other pieces of the puzzle that help the  recovery /growth process were not fine, and you know it, hell, you can feel it. 

It is simple, really. Work your butt off on a well planned program. Eat your protein and healthy fats and good carbs. Rest and relax and get good sleep (a consistent bedtime and wake up is the best). Visualize the way that you want to look and visualize the great workout out that you are going to do. And use all the modalities at your disposal to hasten the recovery process, whether it's massage, or meditation or ice baths, or a  sauna. All of that stuff, done regularly, is really what separates the sorta big and strong from the WOW that dude is big and strong. 

It's like my friend Marty Gallagher always asks, “Do you want to surf New Jersey waves or Hawaii waves?” You can probably get by with plenty of mistakes when surfing the small waves, but in order to surf the giant waves of Hawaii , everything must be perfect and right on. 

So what kind of waves do you want to surf?

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Gym Types

I love to visit other gyms when I am traveling. I am not one to miss workouts, in fact, I can't remember the last time that I did, although I remember all the players that missed a workout when I coached all those years. Hell, I remember when they missed reps. But that's another story. 


So I always look for gyms that I can go to before I am going on a trip. And it depends how long I am staying at a particular place or what body part I am working while I am away. If it's just arms or shoulders, sometimes a hotel gym will suffice. They sometimes have dumbells that go up to 50-70 pounds, and I can get a great workout supersetting and moving fast. I'll be there dripping sweat everywhere and some guy will come in to do burpees or some shit and I'll be going around wiping the sweat off the floor, and the problem is when I lean down to wipe the sweat off of the floor, I drip sweat off of the tip of my baseball cap onto the floor. After awhile, I say screw it, and move on. 


I've seen some stuff in hotel gyms, people doing exercises that I have never even seen before. But I don't say anything, I let them do their thing. Sometimes, parents will bring in their little kids and they will start fooling around and I give them the most evil look that I can give them until they stop fooling around. And I'm not above telling the kids to stop fooling around. Hell, if the parents can't control them, I will. The cardio equipment is usually a bike, a treadmill and an elliptical or two. I like the recumbent bike, because it doesn't make my testicles go numb like the sit up regular bikes. If they don't have a recumbent, I will walk on the treadmill or go outside to walk. I can't use the elliptical because I would lose my man card immediately if I did.


Sometimes, like when I visit the same place more often, I get to know the gyms and sometimes the members remember me. There is a gym in Shelby, NC that I go to when I am visiting there, and it is a very good gym and the people are super cool. I think that I paid like 10 bucks for three or four days of training. The prices of all the gyms vary for training for a day or week. Most of the time its 15-20 dollars to work out for the day. I will only pay that if I am totally desperate. And some of those places don't give you a weekly rate, it's just fifteen bucks a day, period. Hell, I pay 24 dollars a month at my home gym!  The best gym that I go to on vacation is Rise Fitness in Rehoboth, Delaware. All the weights that you need and an area for chalk and powerlifters too. And its 35 dollars for the week. It's a great price for a great gym. And nobody bothers me, which I like. 


There are some amusing things that happen in the gyms where I train when travelling. I have seen it all!  One guy was using a crunch machine and he was literally crunching like 2 inches as fast as he could. My 13 year old son looked at me and asked, Dad what the hell is that? Which made me laugh out loud.Oh, you see people do all kinds of stuff in gyms. But I just figure, hell,at least they are working to improve themselves.


In most every gym that I have been to, there are the same “types” of people. Let me explain what I mean.


You have the hungry kid- this is the teenager who is really into lifting, the type of kid who reads a pro bodybuilder’s workout on the Internet and prints it out and follows it to the letter and has on the latest bodybuilding tank top with a saying on the front, like SAVAGE, NO PAIN, stuff like that. He’s got his preworkout kicking in, his intra workout is good to go, and his post workout shake is in his gym bag.  He's into it and I respect that, but he goes too heavy for his own good and his form is a little off and he will just have to learn that all that work takes a bunch of calories and somebody might want to tell him that all the hormones that the pro is taking helps him recover a little better and he may need to reduce the sets a little. But that's fine, I like the enthusiasm.


Then you have the Mayor.  He is usually over 50 or acts like he is. The “old school” guy. Shuffles around from “old high school knee injury”. This is the guy who is a little loud, has a comment for everyone. Not mean spirited, in fact , usually super friendly. He's the welcome guy, calls me “big boy” and tells me what he used to lift when he was younger.  He likes talking to my kids and asking them if they are as strong as dad, and tells them to listen to their dad. 


You have the shy overweight lady or man. Gets on the cardio right away and then does a little machine circuit, maybe some dumbbells. I respect the hell out of people like them.  It must be so intimidating to come into a gym when you are so out of shape, to just take that step to join and to actually go and be consistent.  


There's the construction dude. Wears jeans and construction boots. Wears a shirt with either paint on it or a shirt with the name of the company he works for on it. Benches and curls and some push ups. Maybe half squats. Good guy, usually has a friend from work who he is mentoring and telling him how to do things. He's usually wrong with his teachings, but he's so adamant that he is right that there would be no telling him that he isn’t.


Also the senior citizen. Usually male, wears pants and sometimes a collared button up shirt. Does some machines, a little cardio. Usually alone. Quiet and gets his work done. I always figured that their doctor has told them how good weight training is for their health and bone density and they have joined the gym on doctors orders.


Oh man, how about The TALKER. Lawd, they kill me. I was wanting to use a machine the other day and there was a water bottle on it. I asked the two ladies who were in deep, deep conversation if the water bottle was one of theirs. Oh yes, the one said, we are going from one exercise to another. They weren't, they were talking. We only have one more set, said the one. I just looked at them. My mind is like, OK, tell them that they are just bullshitting around, and the other part of my brain says, let it go, let it go. I let it go. Then there is the guy who spends ten minutes at the front desk talking to the workers, then his phone rings and so he talks on the phone for awhile and then he sits at the lat machine and texts for awhile, and then he sees a lady he knows and talks to her, then talks to his friend at the bench press. He looks at me and I pull my hat real low and look away. You see, I don't want to be a dick, so I avoid the situation. Because if he tries to talk to me , I will just nod and smile. But if keeps going, I may ask him why he is even in the gym if all he is gonna do is talk, and that's why he looks the same all of the time, and how can he concentrate when he is running his mouth so much? 


Next, there is the calisthenics man/woman. I respect the effort, but all the switching in the air lunges and burpees and squats with a kettle bell going halfway down and then doing something where you look like you are punching with a cable in your hands and doing all of that over and over again for an hour can be replaced by just a few sets of squats , deadlifts and presses. Yes, I know that they don't want to do those lifts, and their goal is to get “toned” and “functional”, but they are going about it assbackwards. I think that the deal is that those people who perform those types of workouts like the sweaty, exhausted sorta feeling when they train. But that's not an indicator of any progress at all. In fact, the people that I see doing those workouts haven't gotten any stronger and they all look the same.  I also suspect that performing squats and deadlifts and presses are uncomfortable for them and that plays a factor, also. Why not just sweat a lot and spin their wheels? That's what they are doing. 


There is also the class taker- this is the person who signs up for every class, the spinning, aerobics with a light barbell, the circuit. Loves the camaraderie and sweating. Comes with a friend. Carries a towel and yoga mat. 


How about the guy who does weird stuff- this is a guy who makes up exercises as he goes. He does presses on the standing calf, presses the leg press with his arms, does some jumping squats, and does “combo” exercises, like a curl into a lateral raises and into a press. Unique. In their own world.


And you can not forget the overdressed/ under dressed- Lady whose clothes are super  skimpy, , turns her head in mirror and purses lips between sets.  Spends a lot of time getting ready for the gym. Right on with fashion. Not gonna sweat no matter what. Wears brand name clothes .  Wears risque outfit and wonders why everyone is staring. 


 There is always the half squat guy- he loads on the plates, puts the pad on the squat bar, has a partner filming him and yelling at him to draw attention to themselves, takes the bar off, the whole gym is watching with anticipation, and he starts his set and goes halfway down and then finishes and everyone sorta looks at each other and his partner slaps him on the back and says, “good job”.


And one or two of the tatted up guy- covered in tattoos from head to toe, works hard , doesn't talk much, tough guy persona. Either a cop or outlaw biker. 


 I can’t take the grunting guy- calls attention to himself while using light weights. Yells, sings out loud with his headphones on.Makes 225 on the squat bar seem like 900 with the grunting and groaning. 


The “Hey, I’m using that” guy- never heard of the concept of “working in” on an exercise. Monopolizes machines and dumbells while supersetting and trisetting. Looks at abdominals in the mirror a lot, giving the impression that he is done training, but is secretly waiting to tell someone, “Hey, I’m using that!”


 Uh oh, I almost forgot the gallon of water guy- This one kills me. Who ever told these people that you had to carry a gallon of water around? Or that everyone should drink a gallon of water each day? You mean to tell me that they drink a whole gallon of water each day? Can I just drink out of the water fountain at the gym when I’m thirsty? And it's just so cliche also, the wide billed cap on sideways (Why is that cool? Do you need help putting your cap on straight?), and sometimes backwards and sideways, the designer shirt and pants from an online bodybuilding clothing company, the gym bag filled to the brim with who knows what, and the ever present water jug.


I was trying to figure out where I would fit in all of the above descriptions. I sorta figured it out. How about the sweaty, non friendly guy? I do sweat a lot, and it's not that I'm not a nice guy, but I have always felt that talking and bullshitting would make me lose my focus, and it would. So I sorta look down and pull my hat down real low and sometimes add headphones, too. Then I can close myself off to the world and have my little time to myself. And I really don’t talk at all except to say excuse me or to say hello to the front desk guy. So I guess that's not friendly, but it's not a bar or social hour. Its training. Its serious and important, at least to me. 


I reckon that it takes all types to make up a public gym and it does make it interesting.  Some of the types are inspiring and some others serve a very useful purpose for me; they irritate me so much that it fires me up for training.

Old Jobs

So now that I am out of the normal, hamster-wheel "work force," I have been able to look back and reflect on the old "odd" jobs that I have had over the years. There have been a few.

My first job was cutting lawns when I was in high school. I got ten bucks a yard, no matter how big the yards were. I remember one time , I was cutting my aunt's lawn, and her sister, my mom, was inside visiting with her at the time. My aunt was like, "And Jim is gonna do a little extra today, some weed eating and pulling weeds." And my mom was like, NOT FOR 10 BUCKS, HE ISN'T! But I didn't care, I liked the anonymity. I like nobody bothering me. I understood at a young age that having a boss or having someone looking over your shoulder really sucks. Just tell me what to do and leave me alone.

And then I worked at a gas station my senior year in high school. Adelphi, Mobil. Is Mobil Gas still around? I worked all day on Saturdays, 13 hours. I actually liked it . The only bad thing that I remember was when this old dude, I guess he helped out in the garage or something, was ordering Steak and Cheese hoagies on the phone from Pizza Oven for all the workers and he demanded my money up front but gave all the others credit towards the meal. I wanted to snatch his ears off of his head. But I let it go.

I had never dealt with the public before, and that was an eye opener. I quickly found out that people, in general, suck. They really suck. They want more than they paid for, they treat people that they think are beneath them like crap, and they are so unhappy. I remember wondering, what the hell is wrong in your life that you have to take it out on a gas station attendant to feel better about yourself? and let me tell ya, I had no idea how to do stuff,  If they paid cash, we had some rule where we subtracted something like 4 cents a gallon or if it was credit, we didn't. Hell, I can't  really remember. All I remember was that nothing was digital, you didn't have a cash register telling you the change (I think it had a crank on the side that you had to pull to open it) and you better get it right or you were gonna catch some hell. And then after work, I would go home, put my workout clothes on and run to my girlfriends house, a few miles away. Then I would go down to her basement and squat. She didn't have Olympic plates at the time, so I'd squat on the little standard weight bar. I remember doing 395 pounds on it one night, with all the little plates spread out to the end of the bar.

I also worked as a bus boy for a couple of nights. I walked out when the snotty manager yelled at me. Just went and got my lettermen's jacket and left. Boy, my mom was pissed about that one. She was a little disappointed, "You mean you just walked out?!"

Then I worked at an equipment room at the University of Maryland in the Kinesiology Department, and that was cool. I folded towels and washed clothes and stuff. One time , the Dean (who was also my uncle), came in and said, " Jim, I want you to take apart some lockers," I was like, "Okay, Uncle George."He said, "Just take this wrench, it should only take you a little while," "No problem," I said. He walked me to the locker room.

Well, you know how some people are just naturals with their hands, they can open up a hood of a car and be like,, "it's the transmission and it's your left ventricle by this piston and you just need to tighten this up and she will run good as new?" Yeah, not me. At all. I can barely turn a screw driver without breaking something or getting frustrated and throwing the screwdriver across the room.  So I was assigned to this task: Take the lockers apart. About 50 of these little cubby looking lockers. NO problem. And I tried. Swear to you, I tried. I couldn't take one locker apart. I don't know if it was the wrong tool or if Uncle George was messing with me, but I could not figure them out. So I sat there on one of the benches in front  of the locker. I knew that If I went out there then and told Uncle George that I couldn't take the lockers apart that he would  tell me to go try again.  But I knew it was of no use to try again. It was too soon to go out to him, so I made a decision.  I decided that I would take a nap!  That would give me enough time would go by that Uncle George would think that I gave it my best shot. But the funny thing is that I did give it my best shot, I just couldn't get it done. So after a while, I went and found Uncle George. "I tried, Uncle George, but something wouldn't work with those lockers." "OK, Jimmy, how many did you get done?" "Uh, none." I said. "Give me the wrench," he said. Later that day, I asked what he did about the lockers. "Oh I got a kid to do it and he had them all taken apart in about 30 minutes". Then he walked`away. What the hell!?

Then I didn't have a job again until I started coaching college in North Carolina. I was the assistant defensive line coach and assistant strength coach. And I got paid the whopping sum of NOTHING. So I did other stuff to get by. I cleared land, I delivered pizza. I smiled a lot at the cafeteria girls and they would let me in without punching my meal card.  Pizza delivery was fun. Way out in the country, houses with no numbers on them, trailers way back in the woods.  Frozen crust though. Actually it was Tony's Pizza AND Dry Cleaners. How about that combo? Anyway, back to the frozen crust. That's a sacrilege anywhere from Maryland and up. Anywhere that there are Italians, I guess. Can't have frozen crust. But I drove all over, delivering this frozen crust pizza. I got lost all the time, and Tony would get all frustrated with me and bust out his non filtered Camels and smoke one after the other. There was no GPS! Tony would be like, "Go down to farmer brown's house and take a right and then go straight for awhile and then take a left at the big bull standing there and then go straight until you see Thompson's pond and it don't have house number on it, but the little bitty trailer at the end of the road is the place." Thanks, Tony. I'd be an hour late, the pizza would be cold. But I tried. Just like taking apart those lockers for Uncle George, I tried.

I did all kind of odd jobs when I was coaching. I had a friend who was a pharmacist and bought a bunch of land but it was wild there and he needed someone to help clear it and he was also building a house on the land so he needed little stuff done in there also. He'd show me what to do, and then he'd leave. Perfect. I'd get the job done, he'd come back and pay me, and I'd go to the convenience store in Cherryville and buy a can of dip and some gas.

I bounced some, but that sorta is no fun. You always have the drunks who want to ask how much you can bench , which is tolerable, but then you have the  real drunk people who want to fight , both men and women, and then you have the ass who stays until closing every night, even on like a Tuesday when nobody else is in there. Just to be a jerk. And we have all the chairs up on the bar and on the tables except his, and he never gets the hint and he's still there until the last minute.Hell, I was still working the door while I was a Head Strength Coach. I wasn't making much money at the time. But bouncing is no good because you can never tell when some asshole is going to come in with a gun ad start shooting for no reason because he was "disrespected".

I'd say my most enjoyable side job was being on the tractor when I first started coaching, and cutting the practice and game fields. I  could get lost in my thoughts for hours and nobody bothered me and I really liked it, just out in the country and the smell of the fresh cut grass on a beautiful spring or summer day.

 I also worked at a golf course, which was fun. Cut the roughs. My buddy and I got pulled aside by some old timers for working too hard. They said that we were making them look bad, but we were trying to get the day to go by faster. We were outside all day and that's what was best about it.

It's funny when I look back at those jobs, I smile. I liked all of those jobs. I remember at the time thinking how bad some of the pay was, but when I look back I don't even think about how broke I was , but of the good times that I had doing those jobs.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Tips For Beginners

There are many things in training that you can get caught up in that really don't matter so much, especially when starting out.

First off, if you are first starting off training, don’t freaking worry about a million little things. Worry about being consistent. Endeavor to never miss a workout, excuses be damned. People get so stressed out about how they should be training and also how they should be eating, sometimes so much so that they end up not training because they are so confused. Analysis Paralysis.

The lifting is number one. What kind of program? Well, what are your goals? Powerlifting, bodybuilding, olympic lifting? Just get in shape? Get stronger and more muscular?

For any of those(except olympic lifting, too specialized), you can , for a long while, focus on benches, squats, presses and rows and deadlifts. Stay 5-8 reps and perfect form. Don't be greedy and don't be stupid. Add weight only when you have completed your sets with good form. When you are young, you do all kind of stupid shit, swinging the weight, bouncing the bar on the bench press, rounding your back on the deadlift. But, I'm telling you, there is no place for that stuff. However, it's so hard to tell a gung ho beginner to go slowly, to have patience with the training. It's more important to never miss a workout than to go crazy in there and not be able to train because you got greedy. Anyway, the key is the basic stuff and consistency. That's not to say that the aforementioned “basics” are for everyone. The barbell squat may be a safety squat for you, the bench press may be a barbell incline.  You don't have to be married to a particular exercise to get stronger or bigger. You may not be built for the exercise, so you find a substitute. No big deal. 


Diet is number two. Tying to get huge? Trying to get stronger? Protein. And you don't have to get too specialized here either. My son is 13 and he has started training with me. As far as his diet goes, I am realistic. He's gonna have some junk: Ice cream and breaded stuff sometimes. What I am stressing with him is to minimize the junk, yes, but just to make sure that he has protein at every meal. That's simple enough. Then I will just keep talking to him about the right choices to make, but I'm not going crazy about it. Just get the protein at every meal. And screw the supplements when you are starting off. I mean, have a whey shake if it makes you feel cool. That’s what I always thought of when I was a kid. I’m taking this and it looks cool and I am gonna drink it because Arnold and Mentzer drink it even though it tastes awful. These days, the shakes taste great, But if you are eating real food and making gains, skip the pre, intra and post workout stuff, or rather , get into the mindset that food is number one, there is no magic in the supplements and when you get further down the road , you can experiment more. 

On the training, just use progressive overload and go a little heavier each week on the exercises. It is pretty simple. But you must learn how to correctly lift. Then, once you know the form, you are ready to go. That , along with a protein-first eating plan, will be your recipe for success in the weight room. 

So don't worry about a bunch of stuff when starting off, just say to yourself that you won't miss a workout and that you will have protein at every meal. Do that for 3 months, and your whole body will change. 






Thursday, August 22, 2019

Big Deal

Everyone thinks that every damn thing is a big deal


I'm not sure what has happened. No , this is not a column about the good old days and how everything was better way back when. But here is something that I have noticed lately: Everyone makes a big deal out of everything. 


Look on Instagram. Oh it's leg day! Don't skip leg day! Leg day leg day. Gimme a  break. Do you think that Kirk Karwoski was like, OK guys, its leg day and it's gonna be painful but I'm going through with it anyway!? You're not crossing the Alps, you are doing some squats and lunges or something. People have been doing that forever and not even talking about it. And honestly, I don’t believe that anyone really cares anyway. 


It's like, just be cool about shit. You had a bad day? Please don't write a post about it with a meme. C’mon man. Act like its no big deal .


Act like almost nothing is a big deal.


It's like college football summer practice. Oh my god, we are going to camp. Last year when I was coaching in college, the players had like 3 practices with no gear, then they put on helmets (no hitting) and then a few days later they put pads on. And the complaining. Oh, I'm in CAMP. Camp is brutal! And remember, there are no two a day practices.  I hate to break the news but when I was in college and at many schools , there were three practices a day in training camp. Nobody made a big deal out of it. And even with today's lax practice schedule, kids still got injured(Here's a theory, quit talking about injuries so much. And maybe the kids won't get hurt so much. It's like when you tell someone to not think about pink elephants. What are they gonna think of?) Probably because of the NFL network always talking about “going to camp” and reporting from every camp, that everyone from little leaguers to college guys think that it's the end of the world, a huge monumental event. It's practice. Go to practice and shut the hell up about it. 


When I worked at universities, everything was a huge deal. Meeting after meeting after meeting talking about nonsense that pertained to nothing. Administrators who just wanted to hear themselves talk. Surveys of our philosophies and if we like each other or some bullshit. Let’s figure out a way to make the athletes softer because we don't want them triggered or to have them uncomfortable or to have to fight through adversity and actually figure things out for themselves. Can I go now? I’d rather be coaching instead of receiving  handouts (that went right in the trash) from someone who never played a down in their lives. Or got punched in the face.


Ya know, if you get punched in the face once in a while, or have ever been punched in the face, you really don't think everything and anything is a big deal. I mean, what's a bigger deal, your latest problem or getting punched in the face? Think that's silly or barbaric? Why don't we have a meeting about it and talk about it ad nauseam. Once you have been punched in the face, your big deal meter will go way down when confronted with what you used to think was a big deal. And another thing, people don't think that the next step is to punch them in the face. Meaning, some folks think that they can say and do whatever they want to someone else without consequences. How about, you say the wrong thing to the wrong person and BAM! Take that for your troubles. You’d be thinking twice about running your mouth. That's a big deal.


I have read where soldiers coming home from war get irritated when they hear people complain about standing in line or if their pumpkin spice latte is not quite right. That's a big deal to those folks, but not to folks that have been getting shot at and living in the desert.it's all perspective, isn't it?


When you are young, you think that everything is a big deal. You are in middle school and the girl who you had a crush on gets a boyfriend. The Cowboys lose to the Redskins. You lost your 80 pound football game. You had to come in early from outside to do your homework. And then as you get older, really bad stuff starts to happen to you, relationships end, people get sick, people die. Have someone get sick or die that's really close to you and your perspective changes. Things pale in comparison to those kinds of tragedies.  After that, especially in my case, I stopped caring about pretty much everything except vital stuff in my life. You look at situations through different eyes when bad times happen to you. 


Honestly, I have about three or four things that I give a crap about. After that, I just shrug my shoulders and move on. No big deal.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Back In Time

There just seemed to be something missing from life lately, like some enclosed feeling that I was having and I was just feeling like everything is like, too on top of me, too many people and flashing of advertisements everywhere and all the fakeness of doublespeak and passive aggressiveness and participation medals. Like I was getting crushed by the over commercialization of everything, and of the protective shield that society has placed over all of us to make sure that nobody is hurt or offended in any way. 


It was much better in the 1970’s and 1980’s. We jumped our bikes over ramps(sometimes over a small fire) like Evel Knievel, and we all had pocket knives and our parents had no idea where any of us where. You learned on your own and solved problems on your own. 


So I'm going along wondering just what life's all about and why things are the way that they are today, and I decided to take the family to a western theme park that I haven't been to in forever, since I was a little kid in the 1970’s, Frontier Town. It's right near Assateague Island in Maryland. I wasn't expecting much. You know, the memories of your youth get fuzzy sometimes and maybe it wasn't so great and maybe just going there is going to screw up the memories that you had of the place. 


I was pleasantly surprised. Basically, this trip to Frontier town was a trip back in time. A trip back to a simpler time before the commercialization of all that is holy took over, First thing, they had a big old gunfight on main street right in front of us. And the guns were loud, The shotgun is a shotgun filled with blanks. And when it went off, people jumped out of their seats. But there wasn’t someone passing out ear protection, there wasn't anyone putting up ropes to keep you from walking into the fray. It was just OK, time for a gunfight. And the bad guys got shot dead, hell, even the good guy got shot dead. And then we went into a shop because, now, my kids had to have some guns, there were tons of cap pistols and knives and leather goods. And there was an older gentleman who worked there who went over all of the guns, which one is the loudest, and he was so pleasant and not rushed that you thought the time machine must have got to him too, Back to a time when folks assumed ownership in the place that they worked and weren’t in such a damn hurry to get nowhere or to look at their phone,. And then there was a train ride with a hold up by some outlaws and there was a bank holdup with more shooting and then there was a trial where they actually sentenced one of the outlaws to get three dunks in a pond. And so we all walked over to this oxbow of some creek or river, covered with algae. And they put the outlaw on the end of a long log/seesaw and dunked him over and over again into the real water. I mean, it was just some tepid pond water and the seesaw that the guy was at the end of was actually being controlled by real people pushing on the log,and dunking him and bringing him up and dunking him and repeating. 


And then we went to the “Indian Village” where there were Native American folks who actually taught you how to shoot a real re curve bow and arrow and actually taught you how to throw a real tomahawk also. Real, like severely wound you real. And there wasn't any signs to do any of this at your own risk, it was just a given that the teachers knew how to teach the skill and they trusted you and it was real. I keep thinking about the realness of the whole thing, and maybe there is a better word for it, but everywhere you go today, everything is just watered down and sanitized and oh , you must be careful of this and watch your step here, and by agreeing to do this, you are absolving us of blame. It all contributes to this “be careful” mentality that contributes to our kids being so tentative about everything. It's a hot stove, don't touch it. Oh, you touched it? And you got burned? I told you not to touch the stove. And the gun and knife thing, My 7 year old wanted to buy a tiny plastic grenade and put it on his backpack for school. I told him that no way would school let him wear it. Nobody would mistake it for anything real, but I knew that they would shut the school down and my son would be disciplined if he wore it.  


When I was in school, everyone would have been like, oh cool, a grenade! I mean, my one son drew a knife in first grade and the teachers freaked out. They approached me in the hallway and were like, Mr. Steel may we have a word? We just wanted to tell you that your son DREW A KNIFE ON A PIECE OF PAPER TODAY! I looked at them and told them that I would take care of it, and I did, I told my son that there was nothing wrong with drawing a freaking picture of a knife, but that the world  that you live in is a soft ass place where the soft people make the rules and they feel threatened by everything because they are so far removed from real life, so sanitized and paranoid and they have lost touch with nature because they have never killed their food before and they think that the beef that they eat comes from a grocery store, not from a real animal that had to be slaughtered so that they can have their Fourth of July barbecue. In other words my son, there wasn’t anything wrong with what you did, but don't draw any knives in school, because people don't get it. The next day, the teachers asked my son, what did your dad do to you for drawing the knife? And he said that I had done nothing about it. They were incredulous. And they are out of touch with reality. 


So my kids and a bunch of kids shot arrows and loud cap guns and threw tomahawks and watched gunfights and there wasn’t one “enter at your own risk” sign and there wasn't any Nike on Under Armour sponsorship signs anywhere. That was great. We are inundated with this corporate bullshit. And I write this while I’m wearing a Yeti shirt and Huk Fishing Gear shorts. I'm guilty also, wearing advertisements for the big corporations. Inundated.


We finished with some Native American dancing and in the one dance, the male simulated stalking and killing an animal, and miraculously, nobody in the audience was triggered or had to leave for counseling. 


 I needed that trip to Frontier town. I was questioning a bunch of stuff before I went there.  It transported me back to a time when you could speak more freely (You can't say that!) and there wasn't a harness or a leash on kids and guns were something that you learned about as a little boy and you learned to respect them, not freak out about them.

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Answer

Remember when you found the answer? Those teenage years when you first begin training with weights and that weird feeling that you had, that connection that you had right away to weight rooms and weights and barbells and dumbbells. That exhausted but glorious feeling of a hitting some maxes that you once thought were only pipe dreams? You looked in the mirror and saw some new muscle and you smiled and prayed that you would keep getting bigger and stronger. How about the first time that you played a sport after lifting for a while and you felt your new strength? You felt the magic power of getting stronger and you swore that weight training gave you the answer to life itself. The answer. Strength is the answer to anything physical. Seriously. If you are stronger , everything physical comes easier for you than for the spindly guy next to you. 

You can get strong in many ways, but the most efficient is with weights. I had a high school coach tell me that the best way to get strong is to do gymnastics but it takes too long. Puzzling, and wrong. Gymnastics will get you strong to a point, but where is the progressive resistance? Eventually, you have to add weight. That coach was a prick, anyway. What the hell did he know? And just like the lumberjack- he gets stronger at first swinging the axe and gains some size, but then he maintains. Unless he's swinging a heavier and heavier axe, he won't continue to gain. And there is the efficiency point about weights again.  

So get stronger. Ignore all that you hear and see of fancy gizmos that look promising but have no way of providing progressive resistance. Run from that shit. And it is really stupid to not want to get stronger. What is the alternative? Weaker. And when is physical weakness a good thing? In no circumstance that I know of is it a positive. I mean, "I got weaker today!" or "I got stronger today!" I think that stronger sounds better.  

And ladies at the gym that I see rushing to the cardio and ignoring the weights? Stop it. Walk down to the weights and get stronger and put on muscle.  You guys still don't believe that crap about women looking like men if they lift weights, right? Who sold you that bill of goods?  Bunch of crap. And replacing weights with cardio? No way. And I believe in cardio, but not instead of weights, never ever, not ever, in place of weights. 

So the magic is right there waiting on you. It's those barbells and dumbells that look menacing but, no, they are your friend. Give them a shot. They will change your life. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Three Amigos

Since I don't coach at a University anymore, my life has changed a whole bunch. I train people online, write and do podcasts for Ironcompany.com and write for Startingstrength.com sometimes. I also train some athletes at a local baseball academy. It's all great and rewarding. I don't have to deal with "administrators" telling me what to do when they have zero knowledge about strength and conditioning. I don't have to go to meetings where Im pounding coffee and speed like substances just so I don't fall asleep when big wigs are discussing some horseshit that pertains to nothing.You know, people who just like to hear themselves speak. And I never deal with coaches whose only lifting experience is lifting their soft asses out of bed in the morning.

But my real job is taking care of the "boys" in the household. That's the 12 year old son, the seven year old son and the 6 month old male Labrador puppy. Seems like that's no big deal, taking care of them?

Guess again.

First off, because I am still trying to housebreak the puppy , Rebel,  I let him out at night whenever he stirs in his kennel or barks, no matter what time.  If he makes noise,  I get out of bed and let him out. Last night he was good; he only got me up at 12 midnight, 2:30 and finally for good at 4:15. I do this because I'd much rather miss out on some sleep than be on my hands and knees mopping up a river of urine (Just how does his bladder hold so much?), or holding my nose so that I dont puke when he does other "things"in there. Lord, thats awful. And he's sitting there looking at me like, I feel great, Time to retrieve? Yeah, in 20 minutes after I fumigate the place.

The kids? A joy as usual. My 7 year old started coach pitch baseball this year. My thing was to try to get him to not swing as hard as he can every at bat. And to watch the ball.Watch the freaking BALL. He'd get 15 swings and crush it on the 15th swing and then after wards, he'd get in the car and I'd try. I'd try to be so positive as we were driving away from practice, telling him what a great job he did, but then, I'd start coaching him.

So did you watch the ball like daddy has been telling you to do? Yes? Then how did you miss the ball so much? Silence. He only wants to hear positive feedback and looking in the rear view mirror, I see his crestfallen face. I say , if you cry, you are walking home. I'm just trying to help! I know, he says and stares out the window. Now , I feel awful. Just let him have fun, I tell myself as I grip the steering wheel with white knuckles. He is so sensitive that I have to temper things with tons of positivity in order for him to keep his head up. I get it, I understand it, I am not a little league father nut, but watch the damn ball, right?

And the food thing. My kids don't think anything is good if it is made at home, but if we bought it at a fast food place, it is stupendous, the best thing that they have ever eaten. My wallet is empty and they wanna go to Burger King. And the 7 year old only likes a few foods at home. I swear, the two foods, the two real foods that he will eat are grass fed, organic hot dogs and Italian wedding soup. That's it. Vegetables? They make him dry heave. Fruit? Berries under protest. Go to a restaurant and he will eat only the bread. He likes fries and Italian ice when we go out. And dough nuts. Last night, he ate 6 hot dogs with ketchup.

The 12 year old has always been a food snob. If he was eating pancakes and the syrup touched the bacon a little, he wouldn't eat anything on the plate. I'm like, WHAT? There are starving people all over the world and you don't like pancakes and bacon because a little bit of syrup touched your bacon? Unheard of when I was growing up. We were visiting my mom and dad one day and he didn't finish his main meal, but then had the cojones to ask for dessert. My dad was like, oh no no no. The kid saw nothing wrong with the whole situation.

When I was a child and my dad made me a sandwich, if I lifted up the bread to see what was on it, he'd take it from me. You either want it or you dont .

My 12 year old tears the sandwiches apart that I make him, dissecting the amount of meat or the type of mustard on there. My dad would freak out if he saw him doing it. I just watch him do it and wonder where I went wrong in raising him. And then I'll say, lets go out! And they get excited but then in the truck, they fight like cats and dogs. I hate you! You are the worst brother ever! Dad, Max is breathing on me! Dad, James is looking at me! I try to stay calm, thinking about how I had told myself that I wasn't gonna yell at all today. I do that when I wake up in the morning, I smile in the mirror, and tell myself, no yelling,  lots of patience, no yelling. But then a few hours into the morning, I am yelling and threatening and I know that they have broken me once again.

In the morning, they wake up and right away its, Dad, can we go to McDonald's for breakfast? No, I say. I will make you something here. No, that's okay, they say. So you aren't gonna eat? No. For them , its McDonald's or nothing. They'd rather starve than eat a homemade omelette. And then the 7 year old asks me 20 more times about going to McDonald's. I get madder and madder and more frustrated as he keeps asking me. He is trying to wear me down and I know it, and sometimes, I am ashamed to admit, I load them up in the car to go to McDonald's just to shut him up.

Meanwhile, after feeding the dog and letting him out 10 more times before 8 o'clock in the morning, he starts whining agin. Then I let him out the back door, thinking that he has to go to the bathroom so badly because he was protesting so loudly, and he literally walks out the backdoor and lies in the sun, and looks up at me.That makes me crazy! I THOUGHT YOU HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM, YOU BIG DUMMY? And then he looks at me and cocks his head and continues to sun bathe.

So it's not easy, I have no control over any of them. I keep thinking that this is a test somehow, but its a test that is kicking my ass, like the SAT did.  I love them all though, and I'll keep trying to get it right!

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a year...it's for life. Whether its training or your family or your job...it doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.