Friday, August 8, 2014


I spent some time with some friends yesterday. Rob Wagner (former IPF Gold Medal winner in the squat,  winner of a bunch of national championships, world records, former boss of mine) met me at my house and after I killed some wasps with a fervor that had to be seen to be believed, we set out to Iron World writer extraordinare Marty Gallagher's mountain lair about three hours away in Pennsylvania.  Marty has been a friend of mine and mentor for quite awhile now. I reckon I am one of his "boys" as he describes a group that he advises, bails out (not me), checks deadlift form of, tells amazing stories of his days at Weider to, and generally enthralls us with the super secrets of the subculture known as the world of weights and weirdo's.

Anyway, the three hour trip was spent discussing training, training, and more training. Wagner is the most knowledgeable strength coach that I know, so I picked his brain on everything from the benefits of Sheiko to the proper application of Plyo's for football players. Unlike trips that I have been on involve many females and small children, we did not stop on our way to use the bathroom. We just motored on and held it in. 

One interesting story that I relived with Wagner was the time that he won the USAPL Nationals and didn't call a soul on the telephone to tell them. The man is absolutely incapable of braggadocio for any reason. Quite the opposite of some lifters these days who think that the world revolves around them and that people actually care what weights they lift in the bench, squat, and deadlift.

Passing through Mennonite country was interesting. We only saw the women, driving tractors, in the fields, jumping on trampolines. Yes, trampolines.  That scene was like the Twilight Zone. 

Beautiful country, with corn and soybean growing and deer in the fields.

Marty met us at the front door of his one hundred and thirty year old wonderful house and gave us a tour. Then we hopped into his jeep for a ride in the country, on a search for fresh baked bread. Trout streams, and more corn. Stone walls and barns immaculately maintained. Red-Tail Hawks and Groundhogs. The farm where Marty buys his bread was a Mennonite farm and the prices were amazingly low, different than what I am used to.  Back through the country we went. Wagner later related to me that being in the back of the jeep, he could not hear one word that Marty and I were saying and that he was getting sick to his stomach as Marty was hitting those rolling hills at top speed. In my mind, I pictured him in the back, slightly leaving his seat as we rolled along.

We returned to the house where Marty began cooking and Wagner and I were sent on a beverage run. Upon return, we were joined by Marty's buddy Matt from Maryland . What a great guy. Of course more training discussion ensued. And then Marty began serving course after course of amazing food: A stew with lamb shank and ham, roasted asparagus, biscuits, Spaghetti with homemade meatballs and gravy. And a fried chicken cutlet that was amazing.   Oh yes, we also discussed Hemingway, Faulkner and by the way,  is volume training really that important?

Trips like these for me set my mind back in the right place. Getting away from the city and talking to folks who have been around the block longer than I have always make me want to learn more and study more. 

Wagner and I set off back for Jersey with full bellies and plenty to talk about on the ride. Of course I had to pound some coffee and a twenty ounce Diet Mountain Dew to counteract the carb coma that Marty had inflicted upon me.

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.