to me is like ball games and barbeques to most people. The world
of an iron addict is alien to just about everyone... Except you.
If you read this column, it is because you are ready to leave
the sandbox behind and step up to the Freakshow. My home gym is
everywhere Animal soldiers rep our lunatic set. I've trained just
about everywhere you can think of. You could say I walk on the
fringe of the iron game, so come with me on the ride of your life.
If you make it, you will have one thing that is impossible to buy
and very hard to come by--my respect. Look me up...I'm holdin'
down my spot in dirty Jerzy or in the city that never cares.
Freakshow is all I know. It is in the way the lady at the checkout
register stares at me. It is the way little kids' eyes light up
when I walk into a room. It is everything you want to be, and
I know why you want it... I live it everyday.
|March 2: Truth in Action
There has never, in recorded history, been more human potential in the
world than there is at this very minute. Just approach it strictly by
the numbers; you’ll see that fact staring back at you in the most real
terms. There is more wealth, more resources, more people, more
information, more technology, and unfortunately, there is far more
waste and misuse than at any time previous to this as well. We have
wealth absent value. We have information absent wisdom. We have
technology absent governance. We have communication absent meaning. We
have prosperity absent morality. We have enthusiastically ushered in
new dogmas more powerful and dangerous than any previously felt and
entirely synthetic in nature at exceedingly faster rates. Dogmas are
nothing new to humanity; in fact, they’ve been around for so long,
under myriad names, that many people mistake dogmas for cultural
structure with alarming regularity. Dogmas aren’t particularly
newsworthy from the standpoint of linking them to cultural malaise;
it’s been done and done again. The occasion which causes me to discuss
them here, however, is the inability or unwillingness of many to
discuss them or even acknowledge them at all for that matter. There
exists a certain fatigue, with regard to continually discovering one’s
own dogmas, hypocrisies, and dichotomies; but only if we fail to
confront them with sufficient vigor.
There comes a time in each person’s life when he/she must decide the
course of their conscious life in earnest. Not simply to decide what
he/she "wants" but to decide to believe in something as complete law.
Belief pinioned by baseless faith in one’s own self. Because let's face
it... We all “want” to be righteous, purposeful, devoted, truthful,
loyal, dogged, and highly skilled. That statement, however, illustrates
the very root of the issue; we “want” to be good. It's time to address
the ever widening gap between wanting to be something and actually
doing the things that make you what you are. You may want to be an
elite level athlete, but does your life, the things you do every day
reflect designation as such? Or are you just nurturing intermittent
desires between selfies? We've all seen how powerful commercials are in
television. Television commercials are a powerfully effective cultural
tool because they are designed to work in timing and in tune with human
desires. Fact is, television commercials, or any advertising medium for
that matter, can be described as quick hitting. Just like the
intermittent manifestation of human desires can be described as quick
hitting. This is no coincidence.
Very few people will wake up day after day after day pursuing and
nurturing the same goals over a protracted period. This is why
commercials of any stripe do not laud the virtue of perseverance, they
don’t celebrate workman like stubbornness in pursuit of goals. Rather,
talent and meteoric ascent are lauded; this is part of the great
untruth. The tools of malaise are nostalgia, emotion; sentiment, guilt,
regret, envy, fear, and shame just to name a few. We've all seen that
truth is seldom boiled down to one simple particle. Rather, truth can
be seen as the combined weight or effect of several factors prevailing
in any situation. Part of our truth can also be seen in our desire to
reflect our truth outward, and then it might be gauged, mistakenly, in
our ability to make others believe it. It’s time to stop believing the
fleeting images we’re bombarded with day in and day out. It’s time to
begin to believe in ourselves with the same vigor and rigidity with
which we believe an advertisement--there is no smartphone app to revive
a conquered spirit. It’s time to anchor our beliefs with the day to day
actions and decisions, which can seem monotonous, which will not only
reflect the truth of our lives but affirm that truth in action.
“Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”
“Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable”
|November 1: Testify, Pt. 2
I believe this disconnect is born from a failure on the part of the
American school system to properly educate the youth of this country on
its true beginnings. So much has happened to shape the mentality of the
modern man, but we need some concept of where we came from, the
struggles that preceded our relative ease of existence, and the labors
of the melting pot which constructed the entire infrastructure of the
United States. Is there any more utility in the logistics of
Bodybuilding 101 than there is in our ability to understand our
disconnected relationship with our past proletariat heroes? I for one
can see the value in knowing that my ancestors were brick layers,
machinists, masons, wood cutters, fishermen, pipe cutters, welders,
steam fitters, and ore miners. I know that they didn’t have the luxury
of a protein shake and a chicken breast every 90 minutes down in the
120 degree, asbestos-covered boiler room. So why do we forget that is
where we came from? Why do we not see any value in a return to the
simplistic values and physical culture of the past? Is there no value
in those life-smothering lessons of a few short decades we are so
comfortably removed from? It must be the tyranny of youthful hubris
that no attention is paid to the vacated souls of the painful past. I
see that history is so aptly forgotten in the way that each new
historical conflict gives way to war without any consideration of the
past losses for each successive campaign. The trenches were an
unthinkable and macabre slaughterhouse of twisted reality which
vacuumed up humanity by the second, but this knowledge did not prevent
another slaughterhouse meat grinder only a handful of years later.
My final statement is that we must stop the historical tradition of
disconnect from our wretched past lives and ancestry. We know that all
things, thoughts, lives, deaths, rituals, losses, and victories have
been had in the dread historical imprint of culture. We must be
original in the only manner that allows human originality— we must fail
to regress to imperialistic, patriotic, nationalistic, and economic
slavery in all of its ugly forms. In this way we may demonstrate by our
collective actions that we understand the weight of our lives and the
imprint of our selfishness on the landscape of human history.
|October 19: Testify, Pt. 1
My mind struggles to wrap around Sacco & Vanzetti, Sheriff Joe
Ship, John Brown’s sacrifice, George Jackson, and Emma Goldman.
Coffee-table books in $2 million dollar Upper East Side apartments
contain stories of imperialistic, autocratic, and disastrous images of
Americana, plastered across the tortured faces of proletariat heroes. I
can try to articulate the fear and suffering, but words fail the dread
task of morbid description. The slamming cell doors are playing their
siren call for the masses to wake up and force the fight against the
cruel overseers. The judge’s gavel dents out a cavernous line of
demarcation which tells the campfire story about the twisted framework
of colonial justice that has bent the consciousness of this truly
I am not anti-American. I have served my nation in the Armed Forces; I
have played my part to further colonialism. But my advancing years and
developing understanding of the suffering of many to placate a few has
wrought in me a revolutionary being. You may be thinking, “Why not just
write about the best way to prime the anabolic environment?” That is a
valid question. My answer is that as I turn my gaze back to the
burgeoning industrial revolution, even farther back than that, I can
see that the physical culture and strength of body were the determining
factors in length of life and assignation of leadership among the
working man. Fast forward to today. Much of the labor that was done by
the strong, alpha leader-types has been technologically disposed of, at
least on the hands-on level. While there are still heavy tradesmen in
this country, there are no bare-handed coal miners, cotton pickers and
sharecroppers, or pig iron molders. The bodybuilders of yesteryear
became that mass of sinewy muscle out of daily necessity; this was
their relationship to the work and the empire. So as I gaze around me
today, I see many people who remind me of those men and women… I see
you, my physically strained brothers and sisters. It is you who reminds
me that the physical renaissance is alive today. However, there seems
to be a sort of disconnect in the minds of the muscular armies of
today, concerning their limited understanding of their relationship to
the muscular armies of yesterday. Perhaps this may explain my position
on endlessly beating the dead horse when it comes to sets and reps
which seem to stretch on forever. I prefer to attempt a clear and
direct realignment from the blue collar artists and warriors of
yesterday to the disconnected, disaffected, leaderless armies of
physical culture of today.
|September 30 The Death of Temples, Pt. 2
In order to crack this corporate hijacking of our Temples of weight
training wide open, we must first expose the exaggerations, myths,
stereotypes, and outright lies promulgated as truths by the corporate
marauding pimps and profiteers. These infidels have besmirched us, with
the assistance of the bought-off media, they have touted us as water
jug carrying, spandex wearing, mirror staring, muscle bound idiots, and
I am sick of this hate mongering. As is usual in America, the corporate
fitness firms are successfully turning people against people by trying
to create a class war between the “mainstream” fitness practitioner and
the “hardcore” weight training practitioner. We must understand that
this is the standard operating procedure for the elite (the
corporations) in this country. They have always kept the populations
divided by spurring class war and factionalism in areas where a natural
balance existed previously. This is job one for them. This simple
tactic is the main causal factor in the analysis of the death of our
Temples; corporations created an “us against them” aura and then
convinced people (through mass media propaganda) that they failed to
train because they were intimidated away from the gyms by muscle-bound
idiots who plowed their way through gyms crushing all in their wakes of
destruction. In short; we (the previously labeled “hardcore”
practitioner) were to blame for the peoples’ avoidance of physical
activity. We were the reason they stayed away from the gyms of this
country. In reality, “they” didn’t stay away. The “mainstream”
practitioners were very much a part of the Gyms that I trained in
throughout my formative athletic years. We, both us and them, shared
ideas, we communicated openly, we helped and supported each other at
local, regional, and national meets, and we shared in victories as well
as failures alike. These idioms “mainstream” and “hardcore” had no
basis in reality until the corporations starting wielding those terms
like a crowbar meant to pry a gap between practitioners of an art who
had been previously conjoined.
|August 20 The Death of Temples, Pt. 1
As I look back over my time in the iron game, and I consider all of the
fantastic places which I had the good fortune to train at, I feel very
lucky to have slung iron is some of the most renowned weight pits the
world over. Some of those places are still around and going strong;
others are no longer with us, but each of them will hold a place in my
soul until I draw my last breath in this world. Sometimes the places we
spend time in can have a more profound impact on our souls than the
people we spend time with. I know that is true of some of the gyms I
have trained in, which to me were more like temples and less like
weight rooms, and my presence in those temples allowed for a
transcendental mysticism in my being at certain times. There comes a
time and place, in many athletes’ lives and in their training, in which
the body becomes no more than the diving rod which points the way
toward total consciousness. This seems to me to be akin to the Temples
of Shaolin and other places like it in that the total being is
challenged through a prescribed or ritualistic set of barriers or tests
in order that the practitioner become transported from the plane of
mere physicality toward supreme consciousness. I have been on that path
and I know that my indoctrination into this thin brotherhood would have
been impossible if not for the existence of these holy temples of
combat. These “gyms.” These “gyms” are so much more than merely places
to pump, pound, and sweat; they are more than modern fitness shops.
That is the part that is so difficult for many people to understand.
When we speak about “atmosphere” or “vibe” in a weight room, we are
really speaking to the availability of and the possibility for a
transcendental experience brought about through a prescribed,
ritualistic total test of the being. Believe me folks I could not have
walked that razor’s edge at Planet Fitness (with all due respect). The
place is just that; merely a place with weights, televisions,
treadmills, and fitness classes.
These special places, these holy temples, can exist anywhere that
athletes are willing to push themselves beyond pain and to defy the
limits of the physical. The primal necessary elements for a training
temple, or at least the possibility to endure a primal training
session, have been removed from the average contemporary “gym”
environment, and that which is left over is no more than a stale and
contrived corporate fitness boutique. I can reel down the names of the
gyms that I have trained. I can list the places which have allowed and
encouraged the environment for transcendental training, but I must
openly lament that there were too few of these places when I was coming
up, and there are almost none left at this point. In studying the
optimal training environment, we must take care not to describe the
tenants of a training heaven which has no hope of existing in the
“real” world, but we must speak to an aura, an atmosphere, an
environment which permeates struggle in all of its glory. These places
won’t necessarily be equipped with the most state of the art training
aides or machines. They won’t have to be 40,000 square feet of
mountainous weight pits either, they must simply allow the practitioner
the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual freedom to exude
struggle through its myriad machinations and physical manifestations.
Corporations are the enemy of the soul of the people, and so the
corporate gyms and fitness boutiques will be, by necessity, places
which are totally devoid of feeling, strain, struggle, sweat, noise,
and toil. It is totally repressive in my estimation. It’s as if we have
harkened back to Puritanism. We dare not emote, we dare not strain, we
dare do nothing other than predictable, scripted, restrictive corporate
“training” or “training” which has been blessed as “acceptable” by some
corporate neophyte. It’s disgusting.
|July 15: Friend or Parent, Pt. 2
it’s not typical for me to drone on about the “kids these days” as I
tend to advocate for young people pretty aggressively; but even I must
stop and take stock, every once in a great while, and assess where we,
as a society are headed. It seems as though some young people today
can’t, or more aptly won’t, do anything without their “friends”
literally up their asses, or without a mouthful of pills to help them
through their “tough” days. I wonder if some of these individuals
realize that they haven’t the foggiest idea what a “tough” day really
is--they certainly don’t comprehend that things could be a damn site
worse. I was recently asked what I would choose to give the youth of
today; my answer is simply this: courage. None of us has all of the
answers, none of us knows what tomorrow will bring, we are all subject
to the fickle finger of fate, and it does frost everyone from time to
time. It would be nice, however, to see just a little bit more
initiative, innovation, adaptation, resiliency, a “can do attitude”, an
attitude of never giving up or giving in, and a general sense of
confidence emitting from our young people. We need to stop firing pills
down their throats. We need to be better parents, teachers, leaders,
and role models. And we need to stop being our children’s friends once
and for all. To be a friend to your child, rather than a parent, is to
do your child the ultimate disservice. Our children aren’t developed
enough to understand what they truly need from us; they will falter
under strain and applied discipline, but that is where we need to
firmly support them and teach them to persevere. I know what it is like
to want to give your child everything; the urge to erase the want and
need of one’s own childhood by giving his or her child the world is one
of the most difficult urges to resist, in my opinion. I have wrestled
with that instinct, within me, which drives me to give, give, give, and
give some more. I have also seen the results of reward without work. It
is incumbent upon us, as parents, teachers, leaders, and supporters, to
hold the line and to be strong in the face of pressure to back down.
What are we saying to young people when we allow them to shrug off
rules, responsibilities, any semblance of regimentation, and in some
cases any basic daily ability to function in the modern world? Aren’t
we telling them that to give them the tools to go out into the world
and survive is just too difficult for us? Aren’t we telling them that
our workday was too long and stressful to sit down and supervise them
through their homework and school assignments? I think, perhaps, the
statement that we are making to our young people collectively is that
we are not strong enough to support them; we are not strong enough to
empower them to succeed in the modern world. So to revise my former
position; I would give the youth of today the courage to face all of
the trials and tribulations this world will throw at them, but I would
also give them an additional dose of courage to make up for what we
lack in the courage department. Maybe the hard truth to face is that
the deficiencies we see in our young people says infinitely more about
our failure to properly supervise, support, motivate, and teach those
young people. Can we face that fact? Or will we continue to shrink from
the responsibility of properly raising our children? My sense is,
judging by the state of the young people I work with each day, that we
really need to step up and give our children the help they need. Our
children need parents, not friends.
|June 28: Friend or Parent, Pt. 1
One cannot help but notice, especially around the holiday season, that
some folks don’t seem to have an attitude of gratitude these days. The
city streets are as hard and cold as they ever were; nothing has
changed much there. But the world just seems devoid of substance in
ways that can be spiritually trying, particularly around the silly
season. There are many, many people who don’t have the opportunity to
feel entitled; they are too busy “inheriting the earth.” I apply this
scenario to the people I hear and see around me every day; I would like
to hear a “can do” attitude out of more people, instead of the whining
and crying that passes for conversation these days. I can’t, I can’t, I
can’t… That is all you hear these days. I know all I need to know about
a person if, by the time we reach the thirty second mark in a
conversation, they have spoken the word, “can’t.” Where does the
relationship go from that point? Never before have I looked around at
my contemporaries, peers, friends, associates, bosses, and family only
to be as horrified as I am at present by their utter lack of ability.
Napoleon said it best when he said, “Men always want to discuss their
needs, never their abilities.” This is one of the more powerful quotes
I find relative to the state of the world today; but it does not have
to be this way. I spoke to a young lady not long ago who was
floundering without direction; she kept insisting that she had to go to
school, she had to know what to go to school for, even though she
didn’t know what courses to enroll in. The young lady was flustered and
panicking about not being able to adjust to online college courses; she
had enrolled in and had failed some courses, this added to her
agitation. I was struck by the sheer amount of times she used the word
can’t… She must have said it fifty times if she said it once. Of
course, it hadn’t occurred to her to simply understand who she is,
follow her passion, and let the dominos fall from that point.
|May 29: My Motivation is My Love, Pt. 2
The ability to sustain my vocational pursuit has been inextricably
linked to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. I am in touch with all
those elements which power my belief in my vision of fulfillment. Some
of what powers my vision can be seen, touched, and quantified; but the
power of the spirit and the soul cannot be contained, bottled,
marketed, or plugged into the nearest wall outlet. To love the pursuit
and not one’s self is folly because that “pursuit love” cannot be
supplied indefinitely if one cannot sustain one’s own physical,
spiritual, and mental well-being. In how many events and situations
have we witnessed “pursuit love” or the love of the art, which forsakes
all else, cause the end of the practitioner? We need not apply this
fatalistic conceptualization to the physical pursuit to the extent that
failing to pursue, or quitting, will kill the pursuer, not immediately
anyway. But it can be surmised that becoming detached from one’s
pursuit, especially pursuits which choose us, can have a severely
detrimental effect on the psyche, and can then cause ill effect in all
areas of mental and physical health. There is no hard and fast remedy
or prescription to deter this progression or to avoid this scenario
other than the one I can prove successful in my own vocational pursuit.
I utilize motivation from an intrinsic and extrinsic perspective to
fuel my pursuit in the physical arts. This brings me back to the scene
from the movie Pumping Iron; this is what I consider extrinsic
motivation, external stimuli which can be processed by my mind and
utilized almost any time to fuel segments of my regimen. There are
innumerable examples of extrinsic motivation; they are all acceptable,
and they all work to sustain one’s vision of fulfillment. For me,
intrinsic motivation is extremely important; this is the
unquantifiable, the intangible, the spiritual, and the metaphysical
aspects of my life and pursuit. That unshakable feeling of belief and
wellness which permeates every aspect of my training and daily life is
what sustains the pursuit itself. I was created with a deep and abiding
self-love. I know that I was born with vision, power, love, and
compassion for humankind. These are the elements which sustain my life
and physical pursuits; these are the real tools of my vocation. Failing
to sustain one’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivation aimed at the
vocation which has chosen him, and which he has embraced and chosen in
return, is no different than falling victim to a crush or fleeting
infatuation--it cannot be sustained and will not last.
|April 30: My Motivation is My Love
been thinking a lot about the scenes and pictures which first attracted
me to the iron game so many moons ago; I can remember a scene from the
movie Pumping Iron which moved me strongly when I saw it. The scene was
a training session in which Arnold and Franco were performing flat
bench barbell presses; they were moving smoothly through set after set
with no particular incident, when I picked up a minor detail which blew
my mind. Franco’s turn on the bench came; the weight was 315; Arnold
was making Franco laugh and distracting terribly. Undeterred for about
the first 4 or 5 repetitions, Franco (who was known for being
particularly strong) began to laugh heartily and allowed the barbell to
come to rest on his chest as he burst into a full laughing fit. I was
wrapped by this scene; I assumed that Arnold would soon need to rescue
Franco by pulling the barbell off his chest--but this was not to be.
Franco, without any determined effort continued his set as smoothly as
he had begun it prior to being distracted – he pressed out another 6
repetitions and then routinely racked the weight. Most people who train
with weights realize how difficult that scenario truly is; to break the
focus, to disengage from the track of motion as one is applying
exercise torque, and to reestablish these elements with a 315 pound
barbell sunken into the chest. Amazing. After I consider this scenario
for a few moments, I can easily remember being moved and compelled
toward the physique culture and toward strength as my physical ideal.
This simple movie clip, which, in reality, was really not simple at
all, played as much a role as any other word, image, or desire in my
heart and mind causing me to pursue this iron lifestyle. I believe that
we’re all drawn toward that which speaks to our souls in life; we are
chosen by our vocation; inasmuch as we’d swear that we chose it--we are
fools to believe that. The vocation chooses us.
through time in our lives, believing foolishly that we’re in control,
failing to realize that processes are at work within us to detach us
from our vocation. We will detach ourselves from our vocation each and
every time, no matter how much we love it, when the pain of its pursuit
becomes evident. The moment that dietary structure and discipline weigh
upon our lives, we will find a way to repel our vocation. As soon as
the monotony and tedium of regimented daily training sessions begins to
wear on our minds and bodies, we will move away from the lifestyle
which has chosen us. Add to the tedium and monotony; compete in
strength or physique trials; you will soon know the mental anguish of a
true vocation or calling. To spice things up even more, consider your
status in your community as a pariah, and you will be a pariah in all
social and employment settings--this will hardly be an appealing facet
of the physical vocation. Of course, the enlightened among us will not
suffer from the aforementioned tortures of pursuit, for he is centered,
he cares not what others think of him and his life’s pursuits. He is
resolved to become his vision of a life fulfilled. For those who are in
love with strength and physique arts; some consideration must be
undertaken in order to be centered within life’s pursuits, in order
that an ever elusive balance can be struck socially. To be chosen by a
physical, or any, vocation; and to love and embrace that vocation as
much as it has you is true happiness. There will be moments, in this
love affair, when the practitioner will enter the realm of the truly
sublime; boundaries will be blurred, pain and pleasure will trade
faces, and possibility will become immortal.
|March 28: Letter to a Soldier, Pt. 2
the age of thirteen or fourteen you were quietly disposed of
academically, the only classroom you would be permitted to enter would
be the public library. All state academic tests would be administered
at that location; you would be allowed to obtain your high school
diploma, but clearly you needed to be culled from the flock--your
presence at the plastic schoolhouse factory was no longer appropriate.
No formal classroom training was provided in mathematics, English,
literature, social studies, or health. You tested extremely well,
however, and suffered no ill effect from your academic exile.
This seemed to confound your academic superiors and administrators all
the more; you had equal contempt for them as well though, both parties
were content to remain at kicking distance from each other. The usual
cadre of social workers, school psychologists, psychiatrists, mental
health professionals, and medical personnel paraded through your life
with no discernible lineation. Great concern was given to your mental
status; much care and cautious deliberation was aimed at your life’s
future trajectory. You were amused by these people clumsily poking and
prodding about in your head, albeit momentary amusement. You had been
trained, and had been training yourself from the age of approximately
six. You were conditioned to be continuously aware of your
surroundings, to be hard, to be mean, to be tougher than all those
around you. You had been tested and tested yourself ritualistically
from that tender age in order that you would optimally endure heat,
cold, pain, discomfort, confusion, hunger, violence, battle, and
isolation. A “back room” martial arts practitioner in an academy
without belts or ceremony--the dojo was overseen by an associate of
your family and was open to very, very few students. Teaching
methodology was severe by any modern standard and discipline was meted
out enthusiastically. All this effort was aimed at making you a hard
and efficient soldier. Soon you had become a very proficient warrior
physically; your physical training was pinioned by a radical curriculum
of scholarly works prepared by the best military minds from great
Native American warriors, to the elite fighters of the armies of the
world, both ancient and modern.
The time came to enter the warrior forces of your own country; you were
more than sufficiently prepared. The discipline which your fellow
recruits cringed at felt like a warm bath to you, it washed over you
like a soothing song in your soul. The days and nights passed like cars
on a freeway; you wished they would last forever. This was home.
However, you could not allow yourself to believe in the actions of the
machine that your efforts served to promote. You were torn into two
sides of a man; on one side you knew a sense of belonging you’d never
felt in your life; on the other side you knew, you understood that your
presence in the machine was an obscenity. Those tortured days began to
reveal a chasm in your mind and soul; a divide which you could not
cross, you were a warrior whose abilities would be aimed at immorality,
inequity, injustices the world over. If you know the right thing to do;
it is hard not to do it, it is hard to go against the grain, to
deprogram all that you are and have been taught throughout your entire
lifetime. But you must aim your abilities and skills at developing the
world into a more just and safe place; a place where balance can
replace want, and equality can replace slavery. This is the way forward
for us all, this is the soldier’s path.
|February 12: Letter to a Soldier, Pt. 1
You never were the same as everyone else around you; not the kids in
school when you were younger; the teachers all treated you as if you
were a problem, a nuisance, a thing to be dealt with. You have always
known you were different, but not in the way that those around you
projected onto you. Your mind didn’t and still doesn’t work like the
people who surround you. You are an alien, an interloper, an intruder.
They told you you’d end up in prison; that you were a loser; dangerous,
stupid, and a misanthrope. But you had such belief in yourself; you
knew, deep from within yourself that you could accomplish things which
your peers and superiors would never even dare to attempt. You didn’t
know where this belief came from, you never understood your own limits,
and there were no limits, no boundaries, and no shelter from your rage.
Rage—not anger, coursed through your veins. Rage for life, for combat,
for violent transformation, for change, and rage at the thought that so
many would never know the strength you possessed. No one could get
close to you. They could not understand the way your mind worked, the
thoughts which permeated your daily life were so bizarre to the people
who were supposed to understand you. It looked so easy for them; living
joyfully out loud, smiling and laughing, strolling and playing. But
these were not the thoughts and feelings in your mind and heart. Your
soul was tormented, keenly aware of the injustices, inequities, and
immoralities which were ubiquitous in the so-called modern era, a time
of plenty for those fortunate ones.
You were embattled from a very tender age. Barely able to grip the
steel, scarcely old enough to comprehend the history of the planet you
lived on, you were called nevertheless. Born into a military and
paramilitary lifestyle, you were early indoctrinated into the ways of
discipline, force, violence, authority, combat, firearms and tactics,
and the use of edged weapons. Police and military culture, the culture
of war and authority were your realities. Baseball, basketball, and
football were the realities of your light-hearted peers. Friendship was
an elusive, if not an impossible element of your life, though you
constantly impressed those around you with demonstrations of
misdirected violence, senseless rage, and what must have looked like
insane bravery. Isolated and distrustful of almost everyone, you moved
through their world like a ghost, or a nightmare as it were.
Information, books, scholars, were your only friends, as peace and
tranquility lay therein. Henceforth you would consume the written word
insatiably, knowledge became another weapon—a most formidable one.
|January 30: The Wind is Blowing Again, Pt. 2
I sometimes find difficulty in being as “well rounded” as I know I
should be—athletically, professionally, and socially. It’s not that
these elements are unimportant to me; on the contrary, they are
critical to my survival, but I must be disciplined enough to apply care
and forethought to each of them as evenly as possible. I sincerely
believe that this requires an almost “renaissance approach” to daily
life. I know I have intermittently miscalculated the importance of each
of the aforementioned elements to my detriment. It would be optimal if
we could all be reminded of the importance of humanity, social justice,
and simple human interaction periodically. This is where idealism
clashes with pragmatism; it takes real discipline, applied in the daily
lives of people, to reshape individual and collective consciousness.
Although it costs nothing to “care” ideologically; it takes discipline
to devote time and energy to social and political activities which
might spur a change in collective consciousness. And it takes a
prescribed skill set, which must be developed and actively broadened
continuously, to pitch sustained effort in the aforementioned
direction. Culture on the move is the best way I can describe the need
for reshaping the elements of our daily lives in a way that pleases us
and that provides for a much more humane approach to living.
A “revolution” in thought or in the way that people think is something
that many people believe needs to occur across all political and
socioeconomic sections of our world. I tend to agree. I don’t
necessarily feel that there needs to be a violent or warlike action to
bring about these reforms; rather, I believe that a positive and far
reaching change in collective consciousness can be achieved through a
prolonged and sustained approach through peoples’ daily actions and
activities. That means that we cannot be self-absorbed, selfish, and
gluttonous in our lives each day. We need to care about our planet, the
people living on it, and about the state of the world, not just our
affluent neighborhood. I devour book after book on the famous and
infamous revolutionaries throughout human history. I have noticed that
each revolutionary moment has, in its formative period, a galvanizing
event of significant revolutionary relevance. And as I scan American
history, I see incident after incident in our recent history, which had
the requisite elements which should have served to galvanize the
revolutionary forces and elements prevailing in the US at that period
in time. And yet the revolutionary national reform never came to pass;
why is this? Was it some combination of laziness, subservience, dogma,
class or caste dominance, or was it simply that Americans could not
imagine a world without Betty Crocker and Starbucks? I don’t know the
answer to those questions; perhaps there is some degree of truth to all
of them. And we would be remiss if we failed to point out that many,
many large societal changes were born from great revolutionary struggle
in America. But those changes or reforms have fallen well short with
regard to significantly addressing issues prevailing today such as
poverty, racism, equal pay, police brutality, prison reform, political
imprisonment, government sanctioned covert actions against other
countries or regions of the world, exploitation of immigrant workers,
immigration, racial profiling, drug sentencing reform, healthcare
reform, failing public schools, illegal wars or military actions, third
world labor exploitation and so on and so on. One thing is for
certain—waiting or hoping that some system of government or political
party, or president isn’t going to come along and save the entire
planet. The common person, the “grass roots” approach, real everyday
people organizing and getting involved, instead of getting overwhelmed,
is what will make the difference to millions of people the world over.
|December 21: The Wind is Blowing, Pt. 1
There’s a lot of fear in the world right now; even in a place as
bountiful as America, it seems that folks are just overwhelmed by fear.
We can see the evidence of fear based decision making in the corporate
offices and board rooms, as well as in the state and federal government
legislative chambers. It’s a funny thing about fear--people never
realize how scared they are until they are touched by something
uncomfortable or unpleasant. And when they are touched by something
uncomfortable or unpleasant; they immediately make fear-based comments,
decisions, and judgments. I was never a man who was against the
“feelings” aspect of a professional environment; I am all for people
being in touch with and monitoring their feelings. But that has become
such a slippery slope these days. I can remember when you trusted your
“feelings” and intuitions, you used them to guide you through harrowing
workplace experiences on a regular basis. But somewhere along the way,
people started utilizing their personal “feelings” less as a guide to
workplace success and more as a justification for not being able to
perform. It seems proper that people’s feelings and life framework be
informed by some combination of their experiences, training, and
education; this is what primes their emotional and psychological
engines. It also seems proper that people develop professional and
social skill sets in order that they have rewarding and mutually
beneficial human interaction continually. This is the part that humans
are bad at: transitioning between their professional and social roles;
the contradictions that people impose upon themselves, as I see them,
must feel paralyzing and polarizing. I submit that one cannot, for a
protracted period of time, be successful at anything if they do not
understand their nature and the nature of their involvement with people
and the universe. You need to know who you are; what service you can
provide the world with, and from whence your happiness, fulfillment,
and rich rewards will be derived. In my case; I have always been
favored by broadening my knowledge base, by learning new things, by
being open to new and different ideas, this sustains my vitality.
Working and living in a way that serves humanity also informs my
emotional skill set; it seems as though the world, or certain cultures
on it, have moved into a disappointing period of self absorption,
selfishness, as well as cultural and intellectual laziness.
|November 30: Fight Your Way Back, Pt. 2
When I hear things like, “I had to stop training because I hurt my
back.” It makes my blood boil. No. You don’t have to stop being who you
are because you got a flat tire in a snow storm. “I had to stop
training because I had orthoscopic surgery on my left shoulder.”
Bullshit! You’re quitting! “I had to stop squatting because I hurt my
back and my doctor forbids it.” That is pure rubbish. The body will
find a way to cope with anatomically correct athletic stress. An
athlete cannot suffer an injury then expect to move past that injury
without factoring in some latitude in the daily training regimen. That
would be utterly foolish, but so many never even try to press on
through a serious injury. So many simply fold like a house of cards,
complete with a note from the doctor (just like Mommy’s note excusing
you from 6th grade gym class) to make you feel justified in being a
total spineless jellyfish. When we are seriously injured, at that very
moment an impulse will rise within us, fear. We must fight this impulse, fear,
which seeks to preserve our emotional well-being at the cost of
everything we have worked fiendishly to achieve. This is the most
critical period you will face directly after you become injured. You
will subconsciously justify quitting, you will haphazardly rationalize
surrender to this foreign invader, injury. This is when you must reach
down inside of you, at night, when your hospital room is dark and
quiet. You must find the will to persist in your trials as an athlete.
You must find a way to make this trial of health an athletic endeavor.
It was during one of those long, painfully quiet, blacker than the
abyss nights that I fought my way to clarity, I fought my way through
the emptiness and took hold of my identity with great authority and
righteousness. I proclaimed that I would not die prone in some hospital
bed. I would rather die with a squat bar on my back, I would rather die
flipping a tire. And I made a solemn oath to myself that night that no
matter what it cost me, I would fight my way back to be able to earn a
good death doing something I believed in and loved and not lying on my
back in a hospital with death smirking at me. I would rather go out
big, strong, and in charge, smiling a big toothy grin at death when he
comes for me.
|October 15, Fight Your Way Back, Pt. 1
athlete who endures or lives through the “catastrophic illness” of
injury is loath to speak of it because it is one of those taboo
conversation topics that never seems to make its way into the forefront
of our table talk, gym banter, or internet prose. I have had some
catastrophic, or what I foolishly perceived to be catastrophic,
injuries in my athletic career; I was foolish in that I thought a torn
quad was a “catastrophic” or “career ending” injury at the time. That
was before the wrecking ball blasted me right between the fucking eyes…
There is no such thing as a career ending injury.
career can only end when one decides to end it of their own
volition--no wound, injury, illness, or malady can deter the athlete
from being who he or she is , an athlete. We all, each of us, must make
that determination his or herself. To commit to the athletic pursuits
is not something that any of us entered into lightly, nor was it an
instantaneous process whereby we were given an “athlete’s key to the
kingdom” by the stroke of a pen. Rather, it was an incremental process
forged over time, and each one of us is intimately familiar with the
peaks and valleys of his/her individual athletic strife. And though it
is fairly easy to stroll right into a serious injury in life and
certainly in sports; the introduction of pain, healing, struggle, and
complete rehabilitation are elements which make that easily incurred
injury all too real for us. Having walked right into a “catastrophic”
heart injury, I can tell you that I was rocked to my very core at the
start of that journey, and was totally unprepared for the struggle,
healing, and complete rehabilitation that would become so much of my
life’s purpose in the days, weeks, months, and years which followed
that fateful day. I thought about the fact that I had been “cut down in
my prime” so to speak; I thought about the world I knew to that point
and its possible contrast against the world I would come to know as a
“civilian” and those prospects did not make me very cheery. At that
moment, and with those thoughts racing around in my head, I decided not
to go gently into that good night; I decided I would be what I was, am,
and will always be--an athlete. Nothing; I don’t care what it is, is
ever easy. There is a cost, both seen and unseen, that each person must
bear for the choices he or she makes.
In deciding to keep the identity which I had developed all of my life;
I knew that I was opting for more work, more struggle, and more strife
than I had ever envisaged, and. I would not concern myself with the
question of whether all the work would be worth it, for that
determination too, was in the eye of the beholder. I would concern
myself with living, lifting, and struggling as an athlete does today,
tomorrow, and every single day I am above ground thereafter. Nothing
really ever dies or goes away; it just enters a new period or stage,
its life is nothing more than an expression of energy. It is silly to
imagine that energy is not self-sustaining and that the very act of
life is not self-affirming. Energy is self-sustaining and life is
self-affirming; that is being nothing other than what you are, no
matter what happens or what it looks like.
|September 10, Balance Pt. 2
I would like to make the following assertions relative to the
overarching principles that together help constitute the physical game.
Repetitions are inherently aggregate by their very nature, as is the
damage their performance can potentiate over the days, months, and
years of an athlete’s training career. It would seem that athletes have
the capacity for performing an indefinite number of repetitions; but
this is not the case and before long the adverse physical effect of
such high repetitions will be manifest in such ways as bursitis,
tendonitis, and chronic joint pain. I don’t say this to discourage
weight training; quite the opposite, I say these things to promote the
kind of weight training which I feel is reasonable and responsible.
Suffice it to say that my version of “reasonable” does not condone 40
sets of 12 repetitions each. And I will state freely that I am for
athletes performing the fewest possible amount of sets and repetitions
which still provide for muscular growth and the fostering of physical
2. Nutrition Nutrition is
what causes the physiological organism to remain undead and healthy
proportionate to the lifestyle of the animal and provided one doesn’t
overeat or under-eat to the point of dangerous excess on either front.
Many people, out of pure desperation, seem to eat massive amounts of
food at will in the hopes that everything they eat will be utilized as
fuel by the body in the all-consuming quest for bodybuilding success.
This is not a reasonable approach; one must consume foods that will
provide adequate sustenance while allowing a caloric excess in mind of
supporting the muscle mass present, and also acquiring new muscle mass.
This prospect becomes especially challenging when one attempts to
discern his/her optimal caloric consumption in mind of sustaining the
body without change, with a caloric deficit applied, and with a caloric
surplus applied. In short, it is optimal to consume plain and wholesome
foods such as; oats, sweet potatoes, lean red meat, chicken, fish,
turkey, brown rice, all manner of vegetables, and beans in order to
support the athletic pursuits and physical form. There are no absolutes
in this game but a rough configuration which will easily cross over to
your life is 9 calories per pound of bodyweight for a losing diet
platform, and 14 calories per pound for a gaining platform.
Here again we see the ever present hands of commerce, consumerism, and
capitalism fast at work; but this is good because all parties must
compete for your business. And because of this, the customer will be
the final beneficiary of good bodybuilding nutrition products. But
fundamentally, one must understand that even the best bodybuilding
nutrition products are no substitute for whole foods. Never, ever
forget that simple fact. And while sports nutrition has much to be
proud of in the way of scientific discoveries and breakthroughs; sports
nutrition is much better utilized as an athletic aid, and not the
paramount implement in one’s bodybuilding life. Supplementation has
proven to be a necessary element in bodybuilding and so one must avail
him or herself of competent products in order to remain physically
In any event; these three simple elements,
which must make up all athletes’ regimens, are the true controllers of
athletic success. One can ill afford to overlook any of these vital
pieces of the bodybuilding puzzle, but still so many do. If you stop
and take stock of yourself and some people in the lifestyle you know,
you will quickly recognize that each of them totally ignores one, or
two, or all of these vital elements in their zeal for bodybuilding
success. I have seen athletes who were fantastic in the gym but
couldn’t eat to save their lives. I have also seen cats who trained
like they were comatose but never missed a perfectly formulated
athletic meal. And I have also seen dudes who applied the fundamentals
of sports nutrition effectively but could not get the other shit
straight. I suppose the answer has something to do with balance… Let me
know when you figure out the perfect recipe.
|August 30, Balance, Pt. 1
Herschel Walker once proclaimed that he never lifted weights to prepare
for football instead he asked the world at large to believe that he
performed only pushups and sit-ups. Many, many people found this
assertion impossible to believe; I never considered this assertion to
be such an unlikely one. I have always put propagated the simple idea
that any and all methods of physical training, optimally employed at
the proper time, can have great success, and I feel that way know more
than ever. The truth of that statement is completely evident in the
gyms and weight rooms all over the country. As we look around us we can
see the droves of bodybuilding enthusiasts blindly performing 40 sets
of biceps and 30 sets of chest work in a single session. And the part
that is most confounding to logic is the knowledge that these people
actually do make real gains in spite of themselves. This is one of the
reasons that can cause me to believe certain outlandish or unorthodox
assertions relative to physical training or bodybuilding
accomplishments. I guess I believe that if people mistakenly apply
force multiplication tactics such as high intensity methods and high
volume training with weights and have incidental success; then it’s not
too much of a leap to believe that a man can get into top condition
with 1000 pushups and sit-ups a day.
But the fundamental outline remains unchanged; athletes can have
success with the rigorous application of almost any exercise program,
provided they remain in the ranks of the uninjured at length. Having
taken this decidedly unorthodox approach to understanding the
unorthodox approaches of my contemporaries; I understand that there
truly is no “normal.”
|July 27: Power and Humility, Pt. 2
do not concern myself with the prevailing opinions of my pursuits; I
turn inward and open my mind to the power of the universe which is
coursing through me every moment of the day—as it courses through you
every moment of all of the days of your life. We have access to
unlimited power, strength, toughness, and resilience; we need only
freeze out doubt and uncertainty in order to harness this power. But
how do we kill doubt? How do we block out or overcome feelings of
uncertainty? Negativity permeates almost every home, work, and family
situation that fills our lives; we must consciously choose not to
think, feel, act, or be negative in any amount or aspect. Because
negativity is a decidedly human default position; we must be ever
vigilant not to allow those thoughts and feelings to enter our mental
mechanism. There are many, many instances in which I can simply let my
positivity guard down; it’s as if, while engrossed in a great book, I
simply lost my place. We will always lose our places; we may let our
guard down momentarily, we must rise back up with full hearts and bury
negativity. Doing that, fighting negativity, takes daily persistence
and we must fight hard each and every day to keep on track. But there
is no evidence of negativity on the competition floor of the World
Strongest Man trials; there is no room for negativity there. But there
is so much more to be amazed by, there is more going on that leaves me
even more awestruck. The men in the pit are miraculous in their own
right; but there is something more though, something that makes this
strength trial epic in nature. This entire strength competition premise
presupposes a healthy athlete, which is almost laughable as we all know
that an athlete in the strength game is almost never completely
healthy. The plain truth is that as we are watching the athletes push
their bodies to the brink of failure and beyond, most of them are
nursing injuries that would put most people in the emergency room. This
fact only renews my awe at the focus, dedication, and perseverance of
strength athletes the world over; these cats are seriously hardcore,
positive individuals. I know much about these men partly because I am
part of their tribe, even from my earliest days in the weight room.
Those days of hot breath, smelly clothes, and crazy bravery--those days
have not left me, I live them each new day. Each time I go to the stone
yard and move a 10 ton pile of rocks with my bare hands, each time I
flip a tire up a lonely stretch of road just 1000 feet from my back
door, and each time I swing the heaviest sledge hammer I can find for
30 minutes straight – I am there with these strength athletes. But gym
lifting can be just as primal, just as intense as those rudimentary
lifting events I described; those are what made my early days of weight
lifting so magical. I concerned myself with primal strength, as defined
by no one but myself; I pushed myself past barriers in the early hours
of the morning without witness, without spotters, without hangers on,
and live without a damn net!
But the best part of that
trip is simply that I am still on that path; still sweating, still
persevering, and still so incredibly thankful to be on this twisted
road. Still amazed every time I lift a big stone, flip a heavy tire,
dead lift 600 pounds, or just walk into the arena--my arena. A place
with no crowds, no words, no thoughts… Just movement, power, grace, and
humility. For that place, for these things, I am thankful.
|June 29: Power and Humility, Pt. 1
can always be found watching strength sports whenever they are on the
tube; though it is my humble opinion that the strength sports don’t get
enough TV time, but that is another article altogether. But whenever I
see these strongmen in action, I am brought beyond my momentary
station, I am delivered from my humdrum existence, and I am so thankful
just to watch these athletes in action. It dawns on me that, for these
folks, becoming preeminent, conquering the strength implements is a
total labor of love. It is not aggression that we see in their
contorted faces as they push past the boundaries of what we know about
human strength, it is pure happiness. Lifting, pushing, pressing, and
working through the most challenging and torturous events ever devised;
these athletes transcend the vaunted weight room banter, they teach us
all something about the spirit of a man. They provide us with a glimpse
into our own capabilities. We say, “This man is made of the same
muscle, sinew, and bone as I.” This conceptualization fuels us to rise
to the very heights of human possibility; this picture is a dream that
comes at us at a thousand miles per hour straight to the heart. It
informs that piece of us that is silently uncertain about our
thresholds, our purpose, and our mission. Perhaps it says to us,
“Dream. Dream as big as you can imagine.” And I do. I dream big and I
lose myself in thoughts of transcendent pressure, strain, and applied
force.I often hear people speak about losing themselves in “the moment”
that pure crystallization of athletic performance; I know this kind of
talk must seem overly indulgent to people who have not experienced this
feeling. But I submit that the phenomenon is entirely real and there
have been, and continue to be, many, many days when the possibility of
feeling this feeling again is the one and only thing that forces me to
open my eyes in the morning. I’m certain the preceding statement
qualifies me for some quiet time in one of the local laughing
academies; but I never did desire to fit the mold of a “sane” person.
After all, under the loosest definitions of clinical sanity, what
“clinically sane” man would voluntarily place himself under the yoke of
|May 2: Captive Honor, Pt. 2
is honor defined? Or more importantly; how do you define honor? I can
tell you that I define honor as simply as what I will not do, because I
feel that defining the things I will not do under any circumstances
sets the stage which allow me to live in a way I can be proud of. Now
this is where most of us, as large mammals and athletes who are usually
strong in body and character, have a particularly important role in our
communities. We can stand and be present, as we have great presence,
and not allow our fellow man to be dishonored. To be bullied at home,
school or work is to be dishonored. To be marginalized emotionally,
intellectually or spiritually is to be dishonored. To be made a
scapegoat for the failures of others at work or at home is to be
dishonored. To have others decide for you is to be dishonored. To be
shouted down is to be dishonored. To be abused physically, emotionally,
mentally, or sexually is to be dishonored. And to quit or allow others
to make you quit is dishonoring one’s self.
understand what honor means to you, start to consider some of the
recent events which made an imprint upon your memory. So much of what
we do is misunderstood, or is a mask for a hurt, shame, or pain we have
endured. Once I told a comrade that he would find a way to quit; he
replied, “I haven’t ever quit anything in my life.” I knew we had a
different understanding of honor, so I told him that there are many
ways to quit. One can become angry enough to be expelled from the
community by being jailed or the workplace by being fired for cause,
one can subconsciously sabotage his or her efforts in the workplace
causing his or her eventual discharge, one can avail himself of one of
the many personal self destructive tools such as violence, drugs,
alcohol or compulsive behavior, or one can simply become defeated, but
in the end all of these are just variations on that age old standby
known as quitting. It must become morally imperative for all people to
value honor as the lynchpin which must hold all civilized societies
together. And we must understand that there are many ways to be
dishonored, there are many ways to quit on life and on one’s self, and
there is no excuse for allowing one’s self to be dishonored or for
dishonoring one’s self to punish someone else.
I’ve heard it said that life is too short to be angry or regretful; but
I submit that life is far too short to live for even one moment with
dishonor. The path to self discovery is laden with opportunity to
sabotage one’s personal and professional growth. We must all be
resistant to short cuts and quick buck artists as they will lead us
only to ruin. The only short cut worth taking is the one that goes from
ear to ear on the throat of any son of a bitch who attempts to dishonor
you. We see wrongs, deceit, dishonor, and degradation all around us
every day. The wise thing to do is not wish those things away, but to
view them as an opportunity to stand tall and make a difference in the
|April 21: Captive Honor, Pt. I
scene: a fairly large group of Chilean Miners trapped almost one mile
below the surface of the earth for many, many days and nights. These
men existed on a few milliliters of water and 3-4 grams of salted fish
per 24 hour period. These men were marooned inside the earth; their
plight was dire but their ardor was not dampened by the crushing weight
of their circumstances. This real life soap opera captivated a
breathless world, who sat in awe contemplating the messy logistical
aspects of the miners’ situations… Where do they sleep? Where do they
go to the bathroom? Will they be able to breathe much longer? Truly
this could be most aptly described as a test of the men’s physical,
mental, and emotional strength. The fear and desperation these men felt
must have been unbearable; yet they held on through the uncertainty and
doubt to finally be reborn out of that hole in the ground, and were
hailed by their countrymen as heroes for their honorable actions under
terrible strain. I see this as not only a modern example of captive
honor; but perhaps the best example to parallel the everyday conflict
between the hard right and the easy wrong which each of us face in our
daily lives. First, to pose the question, how difficult is it to live
honorably every day? That is to say; to live honorably through the
small and large struggles that present themselves constantly as we move
through life. How many times have you been placed in an uncomfortable
or compromising position in your personal or work life? I know, from
personal experience, that these compromising situations happen with
great frequency in the workplace. There are times when people want to
champion the cause of a co-worker or work friend who has been wronged;
but do you speak up when you know you should or are you a spectator?
The real question is did you ever think you had a choice?
I believe the absence of honor is one of the many flaws of so called
developed societies. Invariably; you will notice that all large and
allegedly advanced societies throughout the history of time have held
the absence of honor as a shared hallmark of their communities.
Irrespective of time period, geography, mode of currency, military
distinction, or scholarly prowess, each developed society, to its great
detriment, fails to value honor as a necessary element in the lives of
its citizens. I submit that honor is as important as oxygen; and any
man who doubts this does not know the value of his presence, and must
also have a flawed sense of measure with regard to his life’s impact on
the lives of others.
|March 30: Two Minutes to Midnight Pt II
wise person once made the statement, “In the absence of a clear path,
take no path.” I believe this statement has merit, but I add the caveat
FIND A FUCKING PATH QUICKLY! And this is what I mean by operating with
a clearly defined sense of urgency. One cannot afford to lie about
idly, vacillating between this position and that position, waiting for
the correct path to reveal itself. Become informed through whatever
method necessary, define the criteria for your physical experiment,
document your results exhaustively, be they good or bad, and never
relent in your implementation and execution. The most important element
will be your sense of urgency; but please don’t confuse the application
of urgency with spending five hours a day in the gym. Because you do
not need to spend five or four or three or two or even one hour in the
gym each day in order to attain positive results. This is simply not
the case; and let me end the suspense for you--one cannot attain
athletic preeminence through aggregate time spent in the gymnasium. For
clarification, no matter how many hours one spends in the gym, though
he may convince himself otherwise, he will not be delivered to the
bodybuilding promised land. Don’t waste time vacillating between
positions for the answer you seek is far more simplistic than you might
guess. Streamline your approach to weight training, streamline your
approach to collecting data, and streamline your expectations and
goals. And in line with those recommendations, there is really one
acceptable approach for you to take. Take the most basic and direct
path which will lead you to your goals--train your body with free
weights every day, reach a defined level of intensity in each session,
and don’t miss one session Ever. It would not be optimal for you to
vacillate between positions, it would not be optimal for you to move
without a sense of urgency, and it would not be optimal for you to lose
any time in clearly defining your goals and expectations. In this way
champions are made, in this way time is not wasted, and in this way you
can live with honor. You make the decision.
|February 28: Two Minutes to Midnight, Pt. I
position on urgency has always been that a certain amount of it was
definitely necessary to get even the most basic concessions from life.
Slow down, slow down, people would always tell me, but I would motor
right through no matter how they tried to get me to slow my roll. To a
large degree, I am no different today, I function with great urgency
because I know that time is short. There is so much to know, so many
levels of awareness are contemporaneously available if we engage, but
we must choose to be an observer, a disciple of experience. Sometimes I
wish I could go back to the years of primal struggle, back to the years
before bodybuilding. In those years, I had elemental awareness; it
could be said that I knew without knowing. I refused to participate in
the formal educational process; I fancied myself the revolutionary, I
fought everyone and everything that crossed my radar screen. I read
incessantly, I devoured information on all manner of subject matter,
but refused to allow my knowledge to be quantified in the traditional
way. I thought to myself, “I have a will of steel, I have a strong back
like my proletariat brothers before me, and I will live life on my own
terms.” That is why the sweat and self-imposed deprivation which
bodybuilding can sometimes occasion was a natural fit for me. I bathed
in the sweat, I loved the toil, I loved pushing past my physical,
mental, and emotional thresholds, and I still do.
in some ways, I find it fitting that a strong sense of urgency is still
with me in my life and careers, urgency feels like home to me. With
this in mind, I must urge all of you to move with a strong sense of
urgency in your lives and careers as we cannot move away from the
eternal truth of time, the prime asset. Human animals are imbued with a
sense of certainty that is almost ubiquitous in each situation we are
in, we feel we could not possible be incorrect. I have witnessed many,
many people move through precarious situations absent the requisite
caution which the circumstances demanded, and yet they were cavalier.
If there was one element I could remove from our world it would be the
seemingly ever present cavalier attitude we seem prone to relative to
our lives, our academic and career ambitions, and our spirituality.
Appearing cavalier in the face of dire straits, and we are constantly
in dire straits, seems to be the defense mechanism of the ill-informed
and foolhardy citizen these days. And believe me, I understand the
allure of this façade, warriors from all eras and myriad battlefields
understand gallows humor and forced bravado as real tools of war. But
to be truly cavalier is less than optimal in the precarious situation
which faces modern mankind.
|January 22: Fight Every Battle, Pt. 2
The cardinal point which must be made is that it is imprudent to allow
one’s self to feel as though he is one who retreats from every
engagement as this will inevitably lead to feelings of regret and
isolation. There are methods for not conforming to society’s rules
without throwing away your ability to progress in your chosen field.
Because people don’t ever affirmatively crush your dreams or block your
path to success, they just see to it that you don’t get picked for the
big game in the most cowardly manner. We must transcend this bottom
feeder atmosphere by never, ever allowing negative mental, physical,
spiritual, or emotional thoughts to enter your mind. In this way we can
ensure a clean mental palate; fresh, vibrant, and eager for battle. You
must not allow yourself to be dragged into someone else’s private
misery; into a place where caustic imps are the tragic clowns in their
own private middle rings. Once you have mastery of self, it will be
difficult for you be defeated in any arena of battle. Pick the location
of your battles and remember to optimally time your engagements, and in
doing so you will find that your need to retreat will be greatly
reduced or eliminated in total. You don’t fight a caveman with poetry,
you don’t fight a gunslinger with a knife, and you don’t go head up
with a 300 lb. defensive tackle, you take an angle on him. Realize that
situational comportment is as important as talent, brains, or
ambition--think of the last time you rolled your eyes in a meeting, or
contradicted your boss in front of the entire team. There is something
which is inborn in all of us that makes people absolutely need to show
people how they are feeling with non-verbal cues. These battles need
not be fought; mastery of self will potentiate success because when one
achieves it, the likelihood of one removing one’s self from
advantageous situations will be greatly reduced. If you consider the
reality of the situations of your life you will be confronted by the
fact that the person who is most likely to have blocked the way through
was you. And it is exciting to know that mental preparation and mastery
of self can emancipate the modern warrior; I say this because the
modern warrior never has to surrender…What a liberating thought.
|January 3: Fight Every Battle, Pt. 1
So now that I am an old man, I can see things from a slightly different
perspective than I did when I was younger. I have learned to marshal my
strength; I have learned to direct my energy at the things which are
important in my life. Long ago; I made an enemy of compromise and I
have not retreated a single inch in that regard. I still shake my fist
and shout at the sky from time to time; not as much to defy some
supreme being as to remind myself that I still need to feel wrath and
rage, just as I once did in my youth. It has been revealed to me that
we cannot choose our battles; I learned that very early on truthfully,
we must fight all of them. More importantly, or perhaps most
importantly, we can and must choose the location of the battles we
fight. If I search my mind and think back over all of the battles I
have fought throughout my lifetime, and that is a lot of battles, I am
confronted with very few instances in which I should not have fought
each battle. However; upon some careful deliberation, it becomes quite
obvious that the timing and location of each battle was almost always
incorrect or less than optimal. There has also been some opportunity to
study my interactions with the people in my life, and in that regard I
have found that people have often stated to me, “You don’t care about
anything.” Absolutely untrue! In fact, while I have no earthly doubt
that I have given people the impression that I don’t care about things
that they think are critical, I realize that it is merely a question of
my social norms being different than theirs. The truth, in my opinion,
is that I care about absolutely everything, I just cannot function the
way that people think I should.
As I have often said, I make no apologies for the fact that I am
misread or misunderstood, and I have no inclination to explain,
rationalize, or mitigate my activities, abilities, or lifestyle to
anyone at any time. What you get is never what you see… And what you
see is never what you get, simply because I will not be put in a box,
externally maligned, or marginalized by anyone or any system. I believe
that battles must be waged in an extremely measured, confined, and
methodical manner; but no impassioned position need ever be abandoned
for fear of being seen as incorrect, different, or wrong. Sun Tzu
extolled the value of being first in the field and while there is
virtue in this proposition, it does lend itself more to the act of
physical combat rather than mental, verbal, or psychological warfare. I
propose here that one can always be first in the field mentally if he
is adequately prepared for total war; but to be properly mentally
prepared, one must abandon the haphazard approach. It is a
miscalculation to rush headlong into any situation for which you are
not sufficiently prepared; an even larger mistake is to consider every
corner, board room, or classroom to be one’s personal battlefield.
Always remember timing and location in relation to the battles you need
to wage, these two elements will often be the deciding factors in any
battle you undertake.
|December 29: Water and Love, Pt. 2
Flash forward again to early September 2011; once again my home was
filled with water and once again I will be shopping for a new furnace,
hot water heater, and a contractor to repair the buckled foundation.
The truth is that I know the damage and distress my family and I have
endured is relatively minor compared to the total devastation that
others in the region have had to face. It is beyond inspiring to behold
them in action. They have smiles on their faces and are working as hard
as humanly possible to help those around them brave this unending
storm. Water is ubiquitous; it is all around us, we need it to survive,
and our bodies are made almost entirely of it. But too much water, as
we have all witnessed, is devastating to all of nature’s creatures.
This situation forces me upon a realization… If love was as ubiquitous
as water, just as necessary, and just as desired, and if humans were
made almost entirely of love… The world could easily withstand any
natural or manmade disaster. But the sad fact is that love is not as
ubiquitous as water; and if it is, it certainly doesn’t appear to be, I
mean… Have you seen the news lately? I believe it would be better for
people to forgo all holidays, all birthdays, and anniversaries and just
vow to treat each other a little bit better each and every day. I
sincerely believe that the reason humanity collectively suffers to the
degree that we do is that we cease to see each other as human beings.
Because of these factors; I have pursued my live in service to my
fellow man with great desire and in earnest. I find that serving
people, serving humanity is far more rewarding than simply serving my
own base desires. And I understand that my job is to put myself in a
position to make a difference in peoples’ lives, that each time I do
that I reaffirm my life’s purpose. It doesn’t always work out
perfectly, sometimes it seems like work than no one can bear at any
given time, but this appears to me as the only way to keep our world
intact. So I ask people all over the world to realize that love is just
as important as water; without water we will wither and die in just a
few short days. But without love our hearts and souls will wither from
emotional neglect and surely perish in relatively short order as well.
So now I see that I have love and water to carry me through the rest of
my days, and I hope that people all over the world will realize the
|November 1: Water and Love, Pt. 1
Being an Aquarius, I have always had a very strong connection to water.
A spiritual, emotional, and physical draw which always seemed to pull
toward water. From the day I could form my first sentence, I began to
express my affinity to water in all of its forms. As I grew, I soon
learned of the power that water wielded; how its timely delivery to
people could deliver villages and towns from the brink of destruction,
but was also moved by water’s ability to annihilate without mercy. It
can be said that nature is a sociopath in that it displays the total
absence of mercy or restraint; the water stops flowing when it stops
flowing and not one second sooner. Still, I loved the water and felt a
surging and life affirming power flowing throughout my body whenever I
was near it. As people from New York City know; there is myriad access
to the beautiful Atlantic and plenty of opportunity to get wet at
public pools, even in the concrete jungle--so my appetite for the wet
stuff was routinely satiated. As I grew up, it became obvious that the
Armed Forces would be the place where I could find the challenges I was
looking for, as well some answers to the nagging questions in my
psyche. As it would turn out, some of my questions would be answered;
others would require significantly more deliberation, reflection, and
investigation. But always, the water was there, speaking to my soul,
looming just over the bluffs and always close to my heart.
Flashing forward to the massively destructive flooding the United
States has endured for what seems like an eternity, and for some of us,
it has been a very long time indeed. My personal foray into the ravages
of flooding was in 2006, when rising flood waters caused $100K worth of
damage to my home. Of course; my insurance company saw that number, and
their financial responsibility to me and thousands of homeowners quite
differently--we, the dutiful insurance premium payers of this region
would get next to nothing. You see, there is quite a lot of fine print
tucked away on one’s flood insurance declarations page. But out of
necessity; I certainly learned about flood insurance, destroyed homes
and devastated lives in the year 2006. And for the first time in my
life, I felt something I had never felt before when it came to
water--complete vulnerability. In my lifelong love affair with water,
and in spite of the tragic experiences I had seen in different parts of
the world, this was my first personal experience with water as the
villain in my life’s play. I was part of the EMS rescue team and worked
with law enforcement to evacuate and rescue people who were trapped in
their homes by flood waters. We were part of a coordinated effort which
combined personnel from Department of Environmental Protection, The
local sheriff’s department, the town police department, the town fire
department and the National Guard. We utilized fan boats, hovercraft,
massive earth movers and zodiacs to remove people from their homes and
get them to where they could receive food and shelter.
|October 10: Enough To Go Around, Pt. 2
Maybe I’m wrong, but the people doing this shit certainly ain’t right
either. But the symptoms of a decaying society have long been manifest
in the indignities we are willing to mutually endure as human brothers
and sisters. Maybe that is just the way it is and things will never
change. Perhaps we need to use our strength and fortitude to
aggressively advocate a change, especially when it comes to things that
seem all but unchangeable. I think of women like Maya Angelou, Emma
Goldman, and many others and I become disgusted at how the lessons
these women suffered, bled, and in some cases died for, have been all
but wasted on our simple human minds.
How can this be endured by the forward thinking, modern, sensitive men
of the world? What are our options for relieving the world of this
mentally destructive thinking which detrimentally affects our actions
and the actions of people all around us? Maybe before we can come back
around we need to stray even further off course than we already are? I
hope not. But I would be a flat out liar if I tried to tell you that I
don’t care, it doesn’t affect my life, or some such other hogwash. When
I look at my six-year-old son and think of the world he is walking
into, my sense of dread looms large. Why should our children walk into
a societal, socioeconomic, and social meat grinder? I remember watching
some cowboy movie once and the strong, silent type looked up from his
whiskey, which was served in a dirty glass, to tell the young buck
crowding him at the bar, “This land doesn’t suffer fools.” I realize
the scene was meant to crystallize the blood and guts aura of the Wild
West in the minds of the viewer. However, those words echo in my mind.
The plain truth is that I could give my son that same snide piece of
advice because those words may be truer than ever in our time. It’s not
that any of us could be called fools for choosing to live in this cold,
hard realm, it’s just that to a large degree one has to have a fool’s
acumen for living through tyrannies of the soul just to get by these
All that aside, even a fool stumbles across a good idea every once in a
great while. The real question is, as a collective are we going to
stumble across a good idea before this whole shithouse goes up in
flames or not? I think if each of us asked ourselves those tough
questions listed above, we would be significantly closer to finding
that good idea about how to treat one another as brothers and sisters.
I find it exhausting to restrain myself from lashing out against that
which I plainly see as the ruination of our hard fought kingdom— the
cheapening of our most precious resources and the buying and selling of
our conscience for a song. The outright shame which must be ours, is
for allowing our children to swim in our own mediocrity.
I don’t know if these things will change in time enough for me to smile
and watch a better world turn, but I think it’s high time we kicked
evolutionary psychology in the ass and demanded better of ourselves,
our leaders, our children, our parents, our friends and our world.
|September 25: Enough To Go Around, Pt. 1
I was looking at some bodybuilding websites (I won’t mention any names
so as not to embarrass anyone), and believe me, there is absolutely no
shame to be shared among these pimp and whore mongers. I’ve never been
much on judgment; never felt the need to point out anyone’s flaws,
especially being a flawed animal myself. But it is almost impossible to
look at bodybuilding websites or magazines without seeing what is
tantamount to pornography. I am no arbiter of social propriety, but I
don’t understand why modern man is so easily pacified and distracted by
cheap tawdry imagery. I understand that this is symptomatic of a larger
societal phenomenon, but there must be some time and place in which
some of us look up and say, “This is totally ridiculous.” Maybe that
point doesn’t exist at all. If it does, I sure haven’t seen any fucking
Physical culture is something inborn in all of us, and to some degree I
believe there is value in the study and appreciation of the physical
human form. That said, I often wonder if it is possible to take things
too far, or not quite far enough, in order to stimulate mental and
physical arousal on the part of a consumer. Again, I do not have the
answer to this question, but there must be some medium in this
conversation. The largest part of the problem that I can ascertain is
that no one seems willing to have those uncomfortable conversations
anymore. Where is the forum for uncomfortable conversations? Where is
the forum to voice a disagreement? Is there a forum for this as a real
issue? I have perused some of the seedier sites and scenes, but one
doesn’t really have to go any further than the websites and magazines
to see that the purveyors of the smut have inextricably tied our
culture to gigantic muscles, gigantic breasts, and suggestive scenarios
linked to products and content.
I am certainly no angel, believe me. I have no gift for modern male
insight which would make me any more or less valuable to society than a
common knuckle dragger would, but I do know when I am being played. I
know when someone is trying to sell me a shit pile with a big, fat set
of tits on top, as if I’m some kind of moron. At any rate, let’s ask
ourselves a few simple questions:
1. Does what we see have an effect on what we think and feel?
2. Does the objectification of women make you want to pursue your physique goals with anymore fervor?
3. Are you aware of the subtle and long-term effects that repeated
desensitization by mass media blitzing with sexually suggestive imagery
can have on men?
4. Are you aware that 1 in 3 American women are sexually assaulted during the course of their lives?
5. What affect are we having on young people looking to obtain real
knowledge through media relative to the bodybuilding culture?
|August 30: You Die With It, Pt. 2
This piece is very apropos to bodybuilding because bodybuilding courts
a man’s vanity like almost nothing else in the world. What other
pastime can produce massive athletes in line with what people would see
in science fiction movies? What other pastime can see a man weighing
310 plus pounds on one day; then weighing 255 pounds at 4% body fat
just a few short months later? How powerful it feels to manipulate
nature in that way; what other group can paint with flesh, can sculpt
with muscle, and can shape shift to suit their own fancy? If these
bodybuilding byproducts don’t massage the vanity of a man to new levels
of obscenity, then nothing will. But members of this storied and
glorious pastime hear me! You must not succumb to the notion that glory
is a virtue, that vanity can supplant confidence, or that you are in
total control of anything at anytime in your life, none of those
assertions are true. Even if it seems like the bad guys always win, the
squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the working stiff will always be
underfoot, you must struggle on valiantly, for no time is wasted time
and no love is ever lost love. I loved the sensation I got the very
first time I held that cold steel barbell in my hand; I was home for
the first time in my life. You must love your life, love what you do or
don’t do it, and never apologize unless you are truly sorry--the only
thing worse than an insult is an empty apology. Recently a FORVM post
asked the question, “What happens when your motivation dies?” I
answered without even deliberating for a second, “You die with it.” The
answer to the age old motivation question is as simple as that;
motivation is life force, you cannot run out of life force just as you
cannot run out of motivation, but you can lose you appreciation for
both elements. Appreciate these days brothers; we are giants, we are
men, we are radically engaged in transformation of the first order, and
we are sculptors of flesh and muscle. Treat those facts with reverence
and respect eternally because it won’t last forever and tomorrow is
promised to no man.
|July 26: You Die With It, Pt. 1
The gifts we are all given, the messages we are meant to carry, the
secrets we never tell, the feelings we cannot name or even understand…
They are the glue that binds us all together in the twisted game we
call life. But what for? To what end are we pitted against the fates?
Is there a meaning to the tiny microscopic particles known as human
beings; or are our lives just fodder for the Gods? I think that while
these are all valid and vital questions; they are all moot. Because,
you see, death will smile at each one of us at one point or another
along the highway, there is really no meaning or reason to why or when.
But all that a man can do is live his life in a manner befitting a man,
and should he die, and die he must, he should die in manner befitting a
man. That is really all that each one of us can hope for; but in this
country the Judeo-Christian inborn dynamic dictates that all men are to
be fathers and providers…or more aptly providers and then fathers--in
that order. I know how easy it is to get caught up in the fighting for
more of a living; struggling to make more money, trying to carve out a
future. Struggling to covet more of what surrounds us every day; but
through it all, I have always known that I must never lose my code. But
is gets easy to lose yourself, and more importantly, your code as you
blindly fight for more, more, more. And if ever there was a pursuit
that was predicated on the quest for more, more, more, it’s the sport
and the pursuit we call bodybuilding.
But we must be ever vigilant as we quest for that which we see as
fortune’s favor; for a man without a code is like a ship without a
rudder. And each of us has to pose those uncomfortable questions—Who am
I? What am I about? What do I reach for when it’s time to fight, fuck,
or hit the fence? Not an easy set of questions to ask yourself;
certainly not easy to answer by any stretch of the imagination, but
they must be asked nonetheless. Some people’s code tells them to covet
what they see around them each day and trample whoever gets in their
way. Other people’s code tells them to take only what they need and to
help others prosper, and still others have no code at all. Those are
the ones I feel pity for; the rudderless ships floating around on an
endless ocean of desperation, disappointment, and self doubt. Moving
only with popular fancy, or selfish motivation, or not moving at all
save for the fickle tide of their sad sea. I don’t know all the
answers; shit, I’m not even sure that I know a few of them, but I do
know, with every fiber of my being that every man must live by a code.
And he must never compromise on the code that he lives by; because each
time you circumvent the code, every time you look away it becomes
easier to look away the next time. Then one day you look up and realize
that your rudder has broken off and you are adrift in an ocean of
misery, and for what? Nothing.
|June 29: Diamonds and Dust, Pt. 2
I have been aware of the proximity of life-altering change in my days;
I have avoided tragedy in some cases; and I have potentiated it in
others, but always I have been of the belief that I was made of
everything and nothing all at one time. Sadly, one’s environment often
has the affect of trickery of the mind. The young man from the wrong
side of the tracks, who never had much luck to speak of might lament
his lot and close his mind, spirit, and soul to the potentially
positive life-altering events that live in close proximity to him. He
might be better served, as was I, by realizing that very little
separates the winner from the loser, the happy from the sad, the
assailant from the victim, and the good man from the bad man. The air
of possibility is alive in every situation, in every flick of the
knife, in every turn of the cards, in every tick of the clock, and the
air of possibility should serve to illuminate one’s being that he might
find fortune will smile on him more often if believes in the necessity
of both good and bad. Take comfort in the knowledge that though we are
formed form dust, we have the power to shape diamonds, but we must be
aware of the life-altering potential that exists in any situation. I
believe in the power of when… What do you believe in?
|May 26: Diamonds and Dust, Pt. 1
One cold evening, a long time ago, in the dusky, hard to define edge of
daylight, as nighttime lurked dangerously like an assailant in an alley
on the edge of town, in some anonymous, winter worn township, a late
model, Dodge 1500 crew cab barreled down a winding hick town road doing
well over the country town’s speed limit. There was a feeling inside
that rig… Something powerfully electric and yet black and ominous at
the same time. Riding three abreast; the young Turks bounced along in
the jacked up truck, ablaze in the full realization that at any moment
something could happen which would simultaneously light a fire in their
lives and leave their futures in a pile of smoldering ash. The average
age of the three man squad was 25; ten motherfucking feet tall and
bullet proof to the last swinging dick, the boys were ready to get it
poppin as they reveled silently in the rumbling growl of that big mean
Hemi. Anything could happen; they could see a wanton disregard for the
value of human life in each other’s eyes and they knew that death lived
at the ends of their gun barrels. And though they were all “good” men,
on that particular evening they would fucking unload with everything
they had in the truck on any man who stepped into their world with
clenched fists. Without warning, the truck’s driver pulled off onto the
shoulder of the road.“You men realize that I am wasted right, I mean,
we’re all fucking wasted? I don’t mind navigating this bitch anywhere
you please, but if a patrol car lights me up and someone comes to my
window, I will drop the first man that steps up because it’s just that
kind of night.” It all became as real as an incoming artillery shell in
that single moment; the electricity was pulsing through all of their
bodies, the opiates in the booze they had guzzled clouded any semblance
of reality or morality, and all three were ready to waste a whole
fucking village right there and then. Upon hearing the driver’s
comments, the middle passenger said, “I hear that.” And without another
word he drew his Smitty Wess--he didn’t work the action because he
never went anywhere without one in the fucking pipe, he placed his
weapon on the dashboard. He twisted slightly to feel the reassuring
discomfort of the three 15 round mags digging into his side, just
calling him to action like an old school buddy calling for a touchdown
pass. The right side passenger smiled wryly as he looked out his window
across the tired, rural landscape, he pulled his weapon, an H&K USP
Tactical, chambered in 45 caliber, and he slowly worked the action to
bring a potential life ending round into the breach. The driver
unlocked and dismounted the Mossberg 590 from the gun rack behind him,
chambered a round and tucked it between his thigh and the driver door
“You guys do realize that we are cops too, don’t you?”
I struggled to tell you this true tale from reality; it was penned for
your amusement / amazement /entertainment / inspiration / caution, but
primarily to remind us all that life changing moments are hanging all
around us and can come to call on us at any time along our journey.
Some life changing moments never become realized; we miss them by a
hair’s breath, both tragedy and fortune elude us by virtue of a couple
of precious seconds plus or minus, we travel past them each day,
totally unaware of their destructive presence and dangerous proximity
to our own position. You might say, “What does this have to do with
me?” the answer could be a very simple or very complex one. If you
decide that this tale has nothing to do with you, then you not only
deny the reality that is the unlikely roadside marauders and the fact
that destructive life altering events can be deliberated with the same
ease as where to stop for dinner. But you are also mentally
capitulating to the self realization that positive life altering events
can be decided and implemented on the drive home from work or something
equally mundane. I believe we need to face the fact that somewhere a
dentist is stuck in traffic right now; maybe his thoughts wander toward
his desire to learn the violin, or maybe he laments not playing college
football or joining the boy scouts or becoming a priest. But perhaps as
he drifts off into his shameful malaise; he fails to make a split
second but all powerful eye contact with his potential wife and soul
mate who sits smiling in the car to his left. There is powerful
electricity around us, and we are all just a hair’s breath away from a
life altering experience, the mistake is to believe that those thought
patterns fall neatly into certain categories like the socks in our
dresser drawers. Life is not good or bad, nature is not fair or fierce,
people are not sane or crazy, and men don’t do all good or all evil
deeds. The fact is that we are all made of both good and bad, cruelty
and kindness, love and hate. Life is everything and nothing and that is
okay, it’s just okay.
|April 26: A Shot at Forever, Pt. 2
So how do we get ourselves a shot at forever as it relates to the art
of physical culture? I have taken the liberty of outlining some of the
pitfalls and high water marks which I believe will keep us on the trail
to forever in the twisted real we know as the iron game:
1. Reduce your conversation with people by at least 30%.
And not just in the gym either. Conversation can be a vital link
between you and those in your life; conversation is a necessary element
in societal living. Conversation can also be monotonous, emotionally
exhausting, and universally pointless at times. Conversation has led to
innumerable negative situations including physical altercations,
arrests, divorces, and any number of other decidedly negative
scenarios. Act more, speak less, but the aim is useless without the
way. Lead by action.
2. Read printed materials that predate the advent of modern technology.
While modern technology is delightful in all of its ubiquitous glory,
it is best utilized for obtaining the telephone number of your local
pizza joint, or obtaining driving directions to world’s largest ball of
twine. However; please resist the temptation to make your computer the
center of your intellect arsenal, this can have embarrassing
consequences as people are finding out that… Newsflash… You can’t
believe everything you read.
3. Simplify your training and diet.
More physique ground can be gained with a loaded barbell and some
dumbbells than all of the crap in your typical climate controlled,
aesthetically pleasing, 40,000 square foot corporate fitness boutique
combined. Free weight training and simple wholesome food are the
cardinal elements that just cannot be supplanted by any modern cam
driven machines or scientifically engineered food stuff. Just stop
being a fucking pussy and lifts weights. The same holds true relative
to the athletes daily diet; stop fucking playing biochemist and just
eat simple wholesome food--the rest is all bullshit.
could take the easy way out and pontificate endlessly on the benefits
of carbohydrate cycling, macronutrient manipulation, fat loading,
protein loading, etc. But how does that help the 99%? And let’s face
it; if you are reading this article, you are the 99%. When we consider
that athletes whom I would consider elite level make up probably less
than 1% of the total world populace, it is vital to remember that while
everyone must begin somewhere. The 99% is who I must focus my efforts
on. Do not let your desire to become elite cause you to seek the path
of least resistance; resistance is the business we are in gentlemen.
Never confuse desire for ability, never overcomplicate to the point of
paralysis by analysis, never adopt methodology that you do not fully
understand, and never forget that the keys to preeminence in any field
lies in one’s ability to self manage, administer self discipline, and
to absorb pain. People who make it more complex than those elemental
features have made the fatal flaw which has been around since the dawn
of man’s existence--study long, study wrong.
|March 12: A Shot at Forever, Pt. 1
Show me forever. If forever be that romantic notion that permeates our
thoughts whenever we hearken back to the times of family crests, duels,
and bouts to the death for the honor of a damsel. However, I declare
that in that particular frame of thought, forever is dead. One would
think forever would be alive and well these days with the advent of
ever inclusive e-libraries and unabated computer archiving gaining
ground every day, but I submit the opposite is true. All modern
technology, while possessing the potential to showcase human history to
all people in a ruthlessly efficient manner, and perhaps because of
that fact, cheapens tremendously important subject matter. Technology
removes the contextual weight of images, words, wars, ideas, and
certainly the mistakes of the past, and leaves only ghostly shadows
which seem more like a 3:00 a.m. docudrama series reject than a guided
tour through living human history. A large part of contemporary living
is realizing that conceptual notions such as King Arthur’s Court are
not only long gone, but the fact is that their existence is almost
impossible to imagine in a contemporary sense. But I believe that
people need to believe that even though they are in the midst of modern
arrogance and cruelty; virtues such as honor, justice, courage, and
duty could still exist and be of importance in today’s world. Many of
you will be daunted by the prospect of the death of virtue at the hand
of modernity, but fear not – we’ve been down this road before.
One day, in between multimedia messages which require spastic thumbs,
you will look up and realize that you want a shot at forever. I believe
that many years ago people were more wired for concepts like forever,
destiny, fate, courage, nobility, and this list of tragic clichés goes
on and on and on. But there is a flip side to this coin, in days long
past, people who were not of noble blood were pretty much resigned to
their low station, but doubtless they must have certainly dreamed of
ascending to nobler heights. It seems that today people don’t need
courage - we have Netflix, we need only load an angst ridden, saline
drip of bastardized Americana into our DVD players in order to escape
from our frailties, in order to tightly trim down our hopes and dreams
like some twisted fucking home owner’s association’s “Rules of the
Neighborhood.” There are no rules to this game soldierz. There are
facts which represent themselves to us and non-facts that represent
themselves to us, we need only be cognizant of those facts and
non-facts in order to develop a plan of attack which will serve to
insulate us from the doldrums of modern “forever.” The last thing we
want is for someone to be looking into the latest technologically
advanced computer screen only to see some ghostly image of what we used
to be… We want more than that…We want a shot at forever.
|February 7: One Mind, Any Weapon, Pt. 2
Now to transition this thesis to modern bodybuilding, the outline
remains unchanged; all weapons utilized in the physical stimulus of the
human body must be employed with equal vigor, and must not be favored
one in front of another for reasons of destructive self indulgence.
Self indulgence is the folly of any man whose ambitions eclipse his
abilities; for he becomes blinded by ineffectual laziness brought on by
want of physical comfort. Examples of this abound in modern athletics,
and they are as egregious as ever in the gyms and “fitness centers”
across this country. Have you ever seen the same man, perform the same
work out, at the same time, and with the same or very similar weights
each time? Of course you have, if you haven’t been living under a rock
these many years you have toiled in the gym. We all allow familiarity
and cold comfort to dictate our training regimen to one degree or
another, and that kind of thinking leads to the worst kind of disaster.
Think of how often you have started down the path with a new training
partner… How uncomfortable those first few sessions are… How often some
of you battle over the implements of your physical stimulus. To that I
say why? Why differ over the employment of weaponry, when each weapon
which lives in the arsenal at your fingertips is elementally equal in
their ability to deliver you acceptable physical outcomes.
Does it matter if you begin your chest workout with declined flyes or
inclined barbell bench presses? Does it matter if you begin your back
workout with lat pull downs or barbell bent over rows? Is it vitally
consequential if you choose to begin your biceps work out with
concentration curls or standing barbell curls? Further than that, there
are individuals who delight in the certain feel a particular exercise,
sequence of exercises, or set and rep scheme they employ. These people
will not vary in their process at all. In fact, the issue of physical
and often mental comfort is directly tied into this phenomenon.
Witness: “I always start off with leg presses, I don’t like to open up
with squats, and it just doesn’t feel right.” Translation: I want to
perform the leg press while my strength is at optimal levels…I thrive
on it because it iw my strongest exercise…I like to have people notice
my training weight…I am not as good a squatter as I should be.
My meaning here is to say that it is of very little consequence which
tools we employ in the physical process as they are all equally
effective in their own right. Men are less effective than tools are, it
has always been that way, and the process is always much more pure than
the athlete. Weights do not have egos, eccentricities, desires,
imperfections, emotions, laziness, arguments, and idiosyncrasies. So
before you go around asking people on the boards to map out your next
cycle of exercises, take a long hard look around the gym. Pick up and
dust off some of the tools you never took the time to recognize. They
have value equivalent to the tool you rely on most in your physical
process. Ask yourself, when was the last time I performed behind the
back barbell shrugs, wide grip dips, barbell hack squats, barbell front
squats, standing barbell military presses, and on and on and on?
But above all things, you must remember to embrace the mantra which has
delivered victory to many, many soldiers through many, many battles the
world over… One mind, any weapon.
|January 7: One Mind, Any Weapon, Pt. 1
There is endless supposition, speculation, and assumption centered on
the proper methodology for the physical training of the body. Let’s
face it, the magazines, the boards, the blogs, and not to mention the
word of mouth around the water cooler at the neighborhood “fitness
center.” Not withstanding the scuttlebutt/rumor mill commentary and
certainly not withstanding the good intentions of all the involved
parties, it’s time to stop the fucking fiction. The road to hell is
paved with the good intentions of many wet behind the ears athletes.
Shit, some of us are on that well intentioned road as we speak. These
days there are plenty of opportunities for athletes to get swallowed up
within the fury of over analysis concerning nutrition, training
philosophy, and nutritional supplementation. There is a method for you
to embrace, on your path to glory, which when applied enthusiastically
can mean the difference between you becoming a successful athlete, or
just the most knowledgeable gym hero in the business.
Throughout the annals of ancient and modern warfare, there has always
been an appreciable overlying philosophy which calls for combatants to
be skilled in the weapons of their own army, as well as in the weapons
employed by the armies they battled. Why? Why is it important for
combatants to be skilled in many different weapons of battle? The
simplest reason, and the reason most likely to deliver an effectively
trained army to victory, is that at many times in battle one loses or
is disarmed of his primary combat weapon. Necessity being the mother of
invention, it becomes optimal to utilize the weapons of the dead or
dying as they lie about at your feet. Some of these weapons may be the
weapons of your adversary. You may be a swordsman or archer, but does
the muddy spear you quickly appropriated from the death grip of some
poor bastard not still kill the next motherfucker you draw a bead on?
Hence it becomes simple to extrapolate, from this timeless and
rudimentary military outline, that the mantra of any warrior worth his
salt on the battlefield must be “One Mind, Any Weapon”. The same
scenario has unfolded upon battlefields more modern, which have
employed all varieties of pistols, rifles, ordinance, and vehicles. The
modern soldier must be as skilled with the primary weapons utilized by
the armed forces of his adversary as he is with the weapons of his own
military forces. This scenario unfolds in quite the same way in most
every conflict, but the important thing to remember is that a knife is
a knife in any language, and weapons do not know who wields them.
|July 15: “True Wisdom” Part I
wish I could bottle and sell the courage of the troops at the battle of
Gettysburg. I mean, can you imagine the volleying rifles, the
incendiary artillery, the bayonet charges, the brutal, hand to hand
combat waged in the final human waves? The utter destruction would have
shook the resolve of the meanest motherfucker alive. There can never be
enough of the kind of courage that won that day. There’s a flip side to
that coin though, isn’t there? I bet you could reach out and touch the
sheer terror that must have wrapped a death grip around the hearts of
those ill-fated, school-aged boys.
Fear is a thorny branch
to grip in the face of a mad dog viciously tearing at your throat.
There was no shelter from the reign of blood that day. The blood flowed
in waves so thick it washed away the refuse of battle that littered the
scorched earth… Tiny pieces of wadding paper, cloth from fragmented
uniforms that had been perforated by musket fire, pieces of flesh,
truly, there was so much blood. The battlefield carried a pulse of its
The pulse of war is a very powerful thing, it
delivers boys to manhood, it delivers men to death’s door, and it
delivers nations to their ultimate ruin. But because battle is
elementally pure, and woven so thoroughly into the very nature of
man…it will never be wrong to fight. To do battle, as a man, is a good
and proper allocation of human intangibles…pride, rage, emotional
survival, the survival of the tribe. However, death by political
expediency, or the lack thereof, must be forbidden in future times if
we are to elevate man beyond the ruins which he built his new world
Though there may be many different skirmishes and battles raging the
world over, presently, it is not conducive to your mental health to
dwell on the ruination of the human species. We must fight. We must not
move away from our very nature. I know a way we can begin: We can speak
about the days in which giants walked the earth. One of those giants
was a man I knew as Big Al who worked out of Flex Gym in Virginia
Beach, Virginia. I was as raw as they come when I first walked through
the Flex Gym doorway. You see, I had moved to Virginia from Queens, New
York. A friend had gotten me a job in construction down there. Even so,
my true mission was to become a fucking freak. And even though I went
into it weighing over 300 pounds, I soon learned about the value of
functional bodyweight, which changed the very definition of what I
thought was a freak at that time.
learned many things form this man, but none as important as the motto
he spoke so often in the gym: “If you can’t load it up and hit it, then
don’t even try to fuck with it!” But that little gem was only the
beginning of what I would go on to learn in that marvelous place. Big
Al always threw a little twist into everything we did; he wasn’t
content to go through the motions with sets and rep just so we could
pat ourselves on the back for moving big weight. FUCK NO. I wasn’t
concerned with the Hollywood bullshit either (though we did tolerate
our fair share of yellow spandex wearing assholes in those days). But
while we knew we were no better than anyone, we were damn sure we were
different than everyone.
The basics are the basics from
Timbuktu to Katmandu, and I understand that we cannot reinvent the
wheel every time we walk into the weight room. But I am also aware that
if we seek to affect real change in our lives, as well as in our
physiques, then we must be willing to consider methods which aren’t
necessarily in line with the collective wisdom of the day so to speak.
To put it mildly, Big Al was old school… I mean OOOOLD SKOOOOL. This
man advocated everything that the experts of today say is wrong, wrong,
wrong. And yet his methodology worked.
His methods produced state champion power lifters, as well as
formidable bodybuilders of every level. He advocated dead lifting and
squatting in the same session. Shit, we flipped ridiculously heavy
tires in the same session as a large bodypart workout, hung ridiculous
chains off our barbells, swung sledgehammers, lifted heavy objects,
loaded kegs, push pressed behind-the-neck (a big no no in those days),
and many, many other things.
one thing that really made Big Al unique was his understanding of the
human hip structure, and how that structure factored into, if not
totally determined a man’s finite strength level across the board.
That’s one of those big ticket pieces of information that people “in
the know” really never talk about these days. God knows there are all
kinds of training regimens, rep schemes, and specific methodology
practiced the world over, that claim to turn a pencil-necked geek into
an Adonis in 6-8 weeks, guaranteed. Big Al knew that was all bullshit.
Al didn’t try to play “Rocky Balboa” either –you know how you see a
“trainer” pumping up someone to attempt something that he is in no way
suited to attempt, and the “trainer” implies that the dude can achieve
this miracle through sheer force of will… All this while the guy is
getting the living fuck kicked out of him daily to no practical end.
That is completely cruel. Big Al could take one look at someone and
know the correct path for that particular person. He wouldn’t always
tell you what that path was, but he knew. You would find yourself under
a serious workload if he believed you had the potential to accomplish
big things. You want to hear more? The next
installment is here if you got the nuts for it.
|June 9: “Mental Health 102”
the prevailing wisdom was to train for 35 minutes, I would train for 2
hours and 35 minutes. If they said it couldn’t be done that way, I did
it that way. If they said you couldn’t lift for 15 days straight, I
lifted for 30 days straight. The point is I wasn’t prepared to accept
the prevailing wisdom. I just didn’t believe there was only one way to
attain my physical fortress and that every other training option in the
entire reported or recorded history of physical culture should not even
So, before you go through your early
training years selecting this routine or shunning that routine, first
ask yourself this, “What it is you desire?” Then ask yourself how much
you know about how to get it. Then figure out how much stress,
disappointment, and physical discomfort you are willing to endure to
get whatever it is you want. That is the undisputed truth under the
stars and nobody can subvert those heralded principles.
There is no
easy way around the tough questions, there is no way to get there
without going through this place right now— this pain, this isolation,
this nutrition, this weight, this attack. Remember the rules of war.
Every soldier starts out committed and gung ho to capture the flag.
After months of engagement without victory, the summer soldier, the
sunshine patriot will always fade, will always question his own moral
resolve, will break his original resolve, will quit. And that cannot
happen. The only thing that anyone should ever quit, is quitting.
To understand your inborn nature is to commit to only that which you
may truly endure, hence the self analysis. You must decide what you are
willing to do, what you are willing to do without, and when to break
your commitment to the struggle. The ones who enjoy success are the
ones who find a way to persevere throughout the most harrowing
circumstances. Those who get back up when their ligaments tear, when
their bones break, when their muscles tear off the bone, find a way
because they already found the meaning to their struggle.
|May 14: “Mental Health 101”
Have you ever completely still, silent and motionless, long enough to hear the sound of your own beating heart?
answer to that question is as important to your growth and development
as protein synthesis, meal frequency, and your favorite IFBB pro’s
training split. However, this type of elemental approach to nurturing
your inner-self is often overlooked in today’s “fast food,” “give me
the world now” approach to things. The search is missing. The quest has
been forsaken. The advent of Bing and Google, while certainly
administratively expedient, might not be, shall we say, mentally,
spiritually, or emotionally enriching.
When I consider
anything, small or large, I begin by asking myself, “What is the nature
of this thing? What do I seek to acquire?” Because let’s face it,
although we believe we purchase the things we seek to own, we actually
acquire everything we desire. Don’t be fooled into thinking for even
one second that the green dollars in your pocket get you the items you
want. The person you truly are will invariably determine what material
possessions and lifestyle choices populate your world.
consider this information in the context of bodybuilding. I can finally
use my own old ass as an example; I never saw myself as a weight
trainer, muscle-builder, bodybuilder, etc. I only sought to elevate my
standing in the bullpen. I wanted to use my body, my strength, and my
physique as weapons against my perceptions of the world, and against
their perception of me. So, I went back to basics. I knew what I wanted
to become, I had my perception of why, and I set about creating my
vision of myself by absolutely any means necessary.
But before I could make the internal commitment necessary in order to
build my physical fortress, I needed to come to grips with my fears and
desires. Sounds hokey, right? WRONG! Every man, every warrior, every
person aiming to achieve a goal must be completely ready to decide how
far he will go in pursuit of his pinnacle. For example, I would
identify weaknesses in my physical person and then determine what
methods I could utilize to address them. Then, I would seek out
overdrive. I would do what others would not do. I would go at my
desires from the most unorthodox and unconventional angles. I would
challenge decades of physical procedures. I would go against the
|April 15: “Rich Man
are rich… Yes, you. You are wealthy beyond your wildest dreams and you
have a bountiful harvest at your feet daily. Maybe you think you are in
the midst of dire financial woes, maybe you can't pay your bills on
time and maybe some asshole bill collector is threatening to take your
car. However, I submit that you are still wealthy, comparatively. Right
now, as you are reading my words, there exists on our Earth levels of
poverty, loss and deprivation that could crush your soul. Virtual
rivers of tears carry the burned out vessels that once sailed the high
seas of hope. Oceans of pain and sorrow wash over the broken hovels
that were never homes and never filled with light or laughter. Absent
perspectives leave men crushed under the weight of their own self-pity.
Absent introspection leaves men forever cursed to seek outwardly for
the things they might find if they only looked inside themselves.
Absent spirituality exists as we dwell in boxes that we call homes that
are filled with things that render us devoid of identity. A wise man
would say, "Progress is the reward of my diligence. Hard work fills me
with purposeful pride. Indeed, I am a wealthy man." Are those not some
of the tenants that might lead us to an acceptable outcome?
I am fortunate... I have seen
and experienced loss, yet I remain whole. Pain has been laid on me like
layers of heavy blankets, yet I remain unafraid. Friends and brothers
have fallen beside me in the full stride of their young lives, yet my
anger at having lost them does not taint the joy I feel for having
known them. I am a sultan in worth of soul. You are the recipient of
all that you envision. You are the receiver of everything that you wish
to possess. I am sure that the space in which you dwell and spend your
days is filled with the objects you sought to own at one time or
another. Does that mean you are content, without desire or need, happy?
If I gave you every physical object that you ever desired would your
soul cease to treasure those things which are not easily or readily
attainable? Let's try a little exercise in truth... If your eyes can
read these words, then without delay let your feet carry you to your
safe place, full of comfort and quiet solace, your sanctuary. Then, let
your hands take hold of whatever thing moves you to perfect peace and
passion and fills you with purpose.
Now, those of you left here reading on have indeed faced the
realization of absolute emptiness. I say to you now smile, for your
heart still yearns, your hands are rough and ready, your back is
strong, your feet are planted firmly to the earth beneath your powerful
legs and they will carry you home. You have not lost your way. You
cannot lose your way, for home is where we are all headed. We are all
at different places on the same road... We can either slump along,
looking down at our feet or walk upright, looking at the horizon and
holding fast to our codes and ideals. Home must be where we begin and
it has to be where we end. Therefore, it is proper and correct that
wherever we dwell, we are already home. It cannot be any other way.
This is the acceptable outcome that awaits all of us who walk the road.
Now we must dictate the circumstances of our own existence. Now we must
battle our desires and our fears. Now we must divine an acceptable
outcome for every new day that we live... If we do, we are truly home.
|March 21: “In Reference To War”, Part III
all, once that fucker pops the worst part is over. From that point on
it's about rest and recovery. It's also the time in which we put away
the rhetoric and wartime slogans… This is when we find out who the real
warriors are. In bodybuilding, and in life, there comes a time when a
man must fight, fuck or hit the fence. Some people talk a good game,
but when it's time to put in work they run and hide. The true warrior
always gets up no matter how bleak the prognosis, no matter how slim
the odds for recovery. No matter how bad your lot seems, you must
always act as if you've already seen your future in all its brilliance.
You must act as if, in your heart, you cannot be defeated. Then, you
will not be defeated in life. You must act as if your honor is on the
line, because, damn it, it is.
I don't care what they call
you… Sooner or later, the bill comes due for every man, and that's just
the way it is. The road to distinguishing one's self in battle is laden
with assaults on one's physical person. For that reason, since the dawn
of time, societies have hailed the warrior. We salute the warrior's
courage under fire, his dutiful commitment to comrades and to the
mission and his ability to soak up pain and punishment like a roll of
heavy duty Bounty paper towels.
Take this with you on the
road to wherever you are headed-the warrior inside all of us lives not
only in conquests, but also in the times when he is called upon to
reach down deep after he has fallen. These are the times when warriors
find out more about themselves than they are often prepared to learn.
We shall see who remains upright in the years to come… We shall see.
|February 11: “In Reference To War”, Part II
you want to battle, shouldn't you be prepared for some war wounds and
battle scars? You can't always get the gravy without getting the grief…
Sometimes you gotta walk it like you talk it. Besides, very rarely does
one training injury preclude you from training at least some of your
uninjured body parts without ill-effect. For example, if it is part of
your lower body that is injured, you should focus on training the
muscles in your upper body while you are recuperating. If the injury is
part of your upper body, then you should use the recuperation time to
revamp and double the size of your wheels. If your back is fucked up,
well, then, you're just a pussy, because everyone in this game has a
fucked up back. You can efficiently perform within the constraints of
your current condition if you are willing to change the way you
You see, I always thought of an injury
as just another chance to sharpen my mental game. I knew if I could
make it through that tough time that the effectiveness of my daily
training would increase exponentially. The rate of return on your
physical investment is inextricably linked to your ability to hone your
mental edge. Under no circumstances are you to mentally submit to an
injury, regardless of how bad things may seem at the present time.
After you regroup and accept things as they are, you will bounce back
full of enthusiasm.
to human nature, things have a tendency to appear particularly hopeless
when challenges and hurdles pop up in our path. This is why one must be
able to divorce himself from emotion and say, “charge it to the game,
this is the cost of doing business.” This outlook will allow you to
fully focus on the mental faculties aimed at recovery...
|January 8: “In Reference To War”, Part I
first time I was forced to begin training after a devastating injury, I
was more than disappointed... In fact, you could say I was emotionally
destroyed. This is what physical injuries do to us; they damage us as
much, if not more, mentally than they do physically. The reality of the
situation is that no matter how prepared you are, how solid your
training plan is, how closely you pay attention to the fundamentals,
the shit we do comes with an innate risk factor. You can literally do
everything correctly, from soup to nuts, and still come up on the
business end of an ugly injury.
who thinks they can walk into a weight room five or six days a week and
lay it on the line without risk or repercussion is mentally deficient.
Having said that, there doesn't necessarily have to be gloom and doom
surrounding these occurrences… One must simply prepare himself for
combat, both mentally and physically. That last sentence delivers us
right to the doorstep of my purpose for this piece, which is the use,
or should I say overuse, of metaphorical, analogical and hypothetical
references to war within the context of physical training.
always perk up when I hear people break out the old war slogans in
relation to the iron game. I mean, come on, everyone loves to spew
forth with the ubiquitous war analogy, don't they? But as soon as the
inevitable injury rears its ugly head, nobody wants to sound like a
corny WWII movie anymore. It's funny how that works, isn't it? “Man,
you gotta be a warrior in the weight room. You gotta go to war.” Then,
something goes pop and the next thing you know you're on the surgery
table repeating your name, birth date and the appendage to be
reconstructed (so they don't go to town on the wrong fucking arm or
leg). This is the beginning of the endless pitiful posts on the boards
about your waning motivation or your heartbroken lament at having put
on a few extra pounds of belly fat… FUCKING RIDICULOUS.
I wish I could hand out a pamphlet on what to expect when you come out
of an injury, kind of like that pregnancy book that tells you what to
expect at every consecutive stage. Injuries are a tremendous blow to
your ego and confidence. Also, your sense of personal power is sapped.
It is extremely difficult to persevere through the challenge of a
physical injury with a positive mental outlook. However, if you prepare
yourself from the outset by acknowledging the fact that it is more than
possible that you will become injured at some point in your lifting
career, you have a better chance of facing the recovery process with an
|December 16: “Depth Charge”, Part II
but surely I have noticed all the major lifts being butchered in favor
of raising the weight before one is sufficiently prepared. Military
presses to the top of the head; bench presses that don't even touch the
chest; barbell rows that don't come close to touching the midsection;
leg presses that should really be called leg poppers; and on and on… I
have taken a guy like this and put him through a proper session and
reduced his workload by thousands of pounds. Guess what? He got a
better pump, a better overall workout and no joint pain. He was a true
believer from then on.
It's easy to proclaim to the world that you are a stud and a badass in
the weight room and then go and throw shit around like a sloppy
asshole... It's only when you get around someone that knows better that
you are really seen for the dickhead that you are. Don't be a big fish
in a small pond. Take the steel seriously and don't behave like a
fucking novice. Act like a professional even if you are not one. That
is the benchmark of a champion.
Give yourself at least one day out of every month for a "depth day" and
be prepared to reduce your poundages significantly. That is not a bad
thing though. It is a chance to perform at a higher level and up your
intensity level without really changing the concept of basic weight
training. On depth day you will be recruiting more muscle fibers than
ever before, you will be challenging yourself in a slightly different
way to affect the same result. Intensity equals stress equals muscle
stimulus. It's that simple... Or is it?
|November 12: “Depth Charge”, Part I
seems to me there are specific days for everything lately. Speed day,
power day, high reps day, chain day, band day. I'll throw in my version
and give it its own nam… Depth day. I see so many trainers going with a
rep range that can only be described as a partial rep range.
On depth day the emphasis becomes more about an exaggerated depth than
it is about rep range or strength. You will find out as you progress
that proper depth becomes less and less important to you, you end up a
slave to the numbers - be it the number of reps you perform or the
amount of weight on the bar, it is slavery nonetheless.
tell people take it to full depth. I don't care how many you can do…
You will feel a depth of soreness that is all new to you. I would
rather see you do 5 reps of squats to full depth with 225 than 1/4
partials with 315 any day. People go around back slapping each other
and snorting and screaming. Yet they cant even take a rep to full
depth. If you are guilty of this phenomenon, you aren't kidding anyone
but yourself. It's time to stop the fiction. Half reps are half
muscles, point blank. I have heard every piss poor excuse in the
fucking world for why a person cannot squat to full depth. It's all
The real story is that you don't want to start
from scratch and relearn how to squat correctly because you don't want
everyone to see you squatting the bar with no weights on it. That is
how I train someone to squat. There is just no point in performing a
technically complex lift without being taught properly. Many, many
people don't have the balls to learn correctly and fuck what everyone
else says. Squats are not the only move I see this happening with
|October 27: “If I Could Sing”
in the world loves to sing. If you could sing just one song, what would
that song be? Would you sing of days gone by when you were a wee, small
lad, full of piss and vinegar? Would you sing about missed
opportunities, lost love or a youth wasted watching other people
achieve the things that you wished you could have? We could all sit and
seethe singing tales of woe, but that doesn't have to be our reality.
We don't have to be empty inside, lamenting our fading vitality. If I
could sing just one song, it would be a song that could awaken the
souls of all my brothers and sisters and cause them to commit to the
war against the industry of disillusionment that threatens every one of
us. Even if you can't carry a tune, there is something you can do…
You can stand up and shout, “WAKE UP. THERE IS A WAY TO FIGHT.”
is possible for each of us to take hold of our daily existence. We can
begin our rapture and we can ignite the fire that smolders deep within
every single one of us. I'm not just blowing smoke at you here. I have
spent time doing exactly the things that I now warn against. I have
languished in the prison that I created for myself… I have been
captive, set to endure a self-imposed sentence. Thankfully, that was
not the fate that I was meant to embrace, and before long I woke to
find my path before me, as clear as daylight. It seems that society is
readily equipped to handle all manners of life, social or
socio-cultural maladies. However, I find that as people our
half-hearted approach to facing and coping with maladies of the spirit
is minimally efficient. If our souls are not dead, they most assuredly
are in a coma, no doubt induced by an overload of pop culture bullshit.
is why some of us embrace the physical culture in the form of the iron
test. For us, it is a much needed mental and physical awakening. A
sharpening of the metaphysical blade, so to speak, is afforded by
physical rigors aimed at the body, and the mental challenge that is
interwoven into this bodily pursuit. Don't get me wrong. I am indeed a
pragmatist. I have no problem with “Johnny gym rat” rolling up the
sleeves of his t-shirt to expose the newly acquired upper arm
musculature that he worked his ass off for. A positive self-image, and
an improved life choice, based on an inner self-awakening is truly an
awesome concept. I am also a dreamer in the sense that I believe our
motives must be born from our more noble ambitions. I need to believe
that it is about more than just posing, flexing and demonstrations of
In our travels along the road of
contemporary life we are surrounded by souls that meet their end by way
of countless tragedies. While this is appalling, and it does challenge
us to our very fiber, it does not diminish the suffering and the loss
that is felt by the living people whose souls have died. There ain't no
Hallmark card for that little problem, is there? Yet we see it every
day all around us. We are constantly in the presence of people who have
given up on their lives. Sadness has touched them so profoundly that it
is easier for them to conceive of their mortal end than it is to
imagine another day of emptiness. I can't think of another tragedy that
is as sad as somebody viewing life in such a dreaded way. At least the
dead have the solace of eternal rest to assuage the grief of their
I wish to call out to those that feel the weight of this pain like a
plague in their hearts. While the rest of us remain strong and driven,
we must not allow our brothers and sisters who do not share our joy to
perish and be forgotten. What is the true strength of any man that can
sit idly by and watch others fall by the wayside? What possible good is
a positive self-image, a foundation forged by the iron test and a
wealth of hard earned muscle if we are so distracted by our daily
pursuits that we do not take time to mourn the death of a soul? I think
this is the true calling of the iron brotherhood; to pick up the ones
who fall, to resurrect the mortal souls of all of the disaffected,
disenfranchised and disconnected people that surround us. We can't
expect anyone to do it for us... You cannot send money in lieu of
caring and you cannot send in an absentee ballot on this one. To stand
up and take notice of the living people all around us that are dying an
inglorious death is more than just the right thing to do... It might be
the only way we, as a people, can survive.
|September 10: “The Monkey On Your Back”, Part II
you’ve been in the iron game for awhile, if you have half a brain, you
eventually adjust to some of the stupid crap that is inextricably
associated with the sport. You will manage to make peace with most of
the nonsense involved, mostly because the good points of the iron
lifestyle far outweigh the bad points. However, imagine how the average
civilian must see some of this stuff and what they must think. I know
the resounding cry will be, “Who gives a shit what they think, this is
our twisted world, they couldn’t understand if they wanted to, which
they don’t, so fuck ’em,” and to a certain extent, I am down with that
However, the minute you start to think about your
own place in the world, and what that means globally, you’ll begin to
realize that certain messages that are sent out can be harmful to the
greater good. Is being an immobile, self-righteous, conceited, out of
shape jackass the message we really want to send out into the world
regarding our way of life? Think about how many people might be on the
fence about the whole bodybuilding thing, but are put off after seeing
some of these types of behavior and antics, causing our sport to lose
what might have been an incredible athlete. I don’t know for sure, but
maybe by behaving like Neanderthal assholes, we are losing scores of
talented athletes who could bring about a revolutionary period of
growth to the sport we all love.
But maybe, just maybe,
someone will read this article and consider the weight of their
personal actions and the effect they can have on an entire genre of
well-meaning people in the iron game. Maybe through a conscientious,
collective effort, we can all make a mark on society that isn’t the
punch line in some joke. For my part, I submit that being a great
athlete is far more important than being a cartoon character.
you look back at some of the biggest, strongest and most powerful
people down through this game, they have consistently been cats who
could have just as easily been Olympians or played professional
football, basketball, baseball as they could have been champion
Strongmen and bodybuilders. This is the point that gets lost in all the
madness... Who are we? Are we athletes in our own right? How do we
choose to be remembered? I will continue to push the boundaries of
physical development, but I will never do it at the expense of my
athletic ability, and you shouldn’t either.
|August 8: “The Monkey On Your Back”, Part I
is my passion to act as an advocate for bodybuilders who are driven in
their personal quest to become as physically developed as possible. In
realization of, as well as in spite of, the way society sees
bodybuilders, I find it important to continue to speak to athletes
about their responsibility to remain “athletically fluid”. What do I
mean by athletically fluid? I simply mean that while becoming larger,
from a bodybuilding standpoint, is certainly the goal we all share, we
must be careful not to become decidedly non-athletic in our everyday
lives. If you’ve ever been inside a gym for longer than ten minutes,
you know exactly what I mean when I say non-athletic.
the course of the life of bodybuilding as a genre in its own right, it
has become acceptable, even optimal, to walk around as if movements and
posture are strained by muscular development. In some cases, it has
become a benchmark of success to become almost robotic in appearance.
It’s as if being a larger mammal comes with some muscular constraints
on physical abilities and presence. Believe me my friends, I have seen
it all, from people needing help taking off their shirts to claiming
they need help wiping their own asses to huffing and puffing after
walking fifty feet. I’ve seen people act as if their level of physical
development is so extreme that it is actually painful to exist, and
most of the time I outweigh these guys by fifty or more pounds.
think to myself, “I am nearly twice the size of that dude, and yet he
walks like has a pole up his ass and he’s carrying canoes.” Yet, there
I am playing basketball in the park, playing adult league baseball,
running through the woods with a log across my back and living like an
athlete, as I always have. I am not one to glorify my personal
accomplishments at another man’s expense, but I don’t understand or
approve of this phenomenon, especially when placed in the context of
the general public’s perception of modern bodybuilding.
|July 17: “Simplicity”, Part II
The points I am trying to emphasize here are as follows:
• It is okay to be wrong, as everyone is from time to time.
• Try not to be wrong more often than you are right.
As you strain to make positive changes in your world, take time to
notice how good you have it, how blessed you actually are and don’t you
• Know the difference between heaven and hell, and never confuse the two… It can be easier than you think to do just that.
While you may feel that you are one of the chosen few who walk in the
light, never begrudge someone that you feel is not as enlightened as
• Fighting against the status quo means shouldering the
responsibility that comes along with the strength and power you have
• You can’t lead from the back of the pack, and
likewise, you cannot climb a mountain starting from the peak. Take the
time to earn your place at the table; you won’t regret it.
under the very best of circumstances, we all have so much to learn in
very little time. For that reason, one cannot afford to learn
everything and then share that knowledge with others. One must teach
only the things which they have mastered while remaining a student of
the things yet unlearned.
• The simplest, most direct route to
attaining something might be the very best route available. Just
because we live in a technologically advanced society doesn’t mean we
should forsake rudimentary tools of strength, which are often the best
way to gain power.
I hope this piece offers some measure of
clarification. I know that once I can visualize the best methods and
practices available to me at a given time, I will be much more apt to
attain an acceptable outcome in the final analysis. There is a war, so
you must become a weapon. There is a fight being waged as you sit and
read my words… The fight is for your future, for your very right to
exist. There are those who would seek to rule you, to compel you to
forsake the foundation which you have built over time. The path you
have taken is comprised of morals and principles, and it leads to
character and strength. Do not allow yourself to be tamed by the
intellectual, emotional and spiritual lull that is entrancing the young
people of today. Rise up and take hold of your life, your future and
your destiny by taking responsibility for your own actions. Good luck.
|June 14: “Simplicity”, Part I
makes mistakes; there is certainly no exception to that rule. However,
if you get to a point where you have no eraser left, and you still got
a whole lotta pencil, then something is damn sure wrong. I have seen my
share of hard luck stories… Shit, I’ve seen some of the hardest luck
stories around. So, I guess you could say that I’ve seen enough hell to
know when I’m looking at a piece of heaven. The opportunities that each
of us receive in our lives as a result of living the iron lifestyle are
too many to mention, but they are most certainly our tiny piece of
heaven. We are blessed with a remarkable perspective, a way of looking
at things that precludes us from surrender, self doubt, betrayal or
However, along with the intangibles come a huge
amount of responsibility and the moral imperative that dictates that we
must fight against the status quo. I have dedicated much of my life to
helping others divorce themselves from poisonous life choices. Many of
the people I have dealt with were salvageable, while others were not,
but all of them had one thing in common -- they all believed, for
whatever reason, that you start at the top of the mountain. They
thought they could get high paying jobs, have fruitful relationships,
be successful students and be productive members of society without
ever doing any of the little things that are necessary to move up the
mountain. A man can’t perform well at a high paying job if he can’t
even balance his checkbook. No man can start at the top of the food
chain, no matter how hard he may try. He must be qualified for the job
before he can complete the job.
Bodybuilding works the same
way… A man cannot start out as a champion, a massively built monster,
or become an acclaimed athlete without first paying his dues. There are
methods that can facilitate speedier growth under the correct
application and methodology, but they are methods which require grit
and intestinal fortitude. They cannot be sidestepped or ducked. Some of
the very best athletes in the world come from countries where there are
only rudimentary training facilities available. However, these men and
women manage to compete at the international level in all areas of
|May 8: "Waiting For The Fear", Part II
very next thing I remember is lying on the hospital stretcher with a
blinding light over me. I could here the voices of the trauma team who
were working to keep me alive. Some of them were shouting. One nurse in
particular was sweating like a pig. I could tell the prognosis was
bleak at best. One ER technician was standing over me, speaking into my
ear, asking if I liked the band, "A Perfect Circle". I tried to shake
my head up and down to signify that I did dig their music. He must have
got the message because soon after that I heard the song Judith pulsing
through the air. I remember an ER nurse telling me that I wasn’t dead,
she just kept telling me that I wasn’t dead yet. I still don’t know if
she was trying to will me to live, or just keep the team from quitting
on me. It did make me fight to live, which is something I never did get
a chance to thank her for. That is the very last memory I have
concerning that time period.
The next time I opened my
eyes, I was in another bed, in another room. There were tubes
surgically sewn into my throat and thigh and an IV in each of my
wrists. After a while my eyes fixed on a sign which was about
twenty-five feet away. When I finally pulled focus and saw the sign
clearly, I noticed it read in bold print, HEART TRANSPLANT UNIT. I had
been in a coma for 11 days and nights. I could barely move, but I felt
the familiar feeling of adrenaline warming my blood right then and
there… I was beginning to get excited knowing that I was still alive.
Even though I was met with the grim realization that I had been
delivered to death’s door by a serious adversary, and that I had a
long, seemingly impossible road to travel, I was back in my element,
and I did not feel the fear which I have been waiting for all my life…
In fact, I’m still waiting for the fear.
|April 3: "Waiting For The Fear", Part I
probably couldn’t count the number of times that pain has been
inflicted on my body. Between stitches, plates, screws, surgeries,
titanium, Kevlar patches and all the other shit I’ve soaked up like a
roll of Bounty industrial paper towels, it’s damn sure been a lot. As I
think back on all that shit now, I can’t remember a single time, not
even as a kid, when I actually felt fear. Sure, there was the warm rush
of adrenaline coursing through my blood vessels, adding to the almost
trance-like state that often accompanies great pain. Of course there
was a feeling bordering elation at having absorbed that pain without
any fear. However, upon reflection, the sensation which most accurately
describes my feeling is excitement. I don’t know if that makes me weird
or crazy. Maybe it makes me like many people in the iron culture… Maybe
we’re just built a little bit differently.
While I’m on the
subject of things that are different, something completely unexpected
happened to me on the morning of March 3, 2009. I developed a cough a
few days prior to that, leading me to believe that I might have an
upper respiratory infection, bronchitis or something else of that
nature. I certainly didn’t think it was something I had never seen
before. Saying that I was wrong would be the understatement of the year.
I was wrong.
I went to the
hospital to get treatment for what I thought were upper respiratory
symptoms. Upon studying my chest x-ray, the doctor said that my heart
was the size of a canned ham. He told me I would need a more advanced
test at a nearby facility. As we drove to the heart facility, I began
to blackout, to sweat profusely and to experience great pain in my
chest. This time there was not sufficient time to feel that sudden rush
of warmth from the adrenaline.
There was literally no time to confront death on the terms with which I
had always done in the past. I was waiting for a moment to seize the
situation, I was hoping for an instant to gain the upper hand and to
behave stoically in the face of death. You see, I have always been a
man that prides himself on defeating seemingly insurmountable odds,
fighting the unwinnable battle, proving to everyone that I am not to be
underestimated in any situation. This time I had to depend upon the
foundation of the mental, emotional and physical strength I had built
over the past thirty plus years on this earth to carry me through to
the finish line...
|March 18: The "Shotgun Cycle"
year, at the 2008 Arnold Classic, I participated in the national ABC
event at a local Columbus, OH gym. There were bodybuilding fans all
over the place, yet the gym’s doors had been closed so the ABC session
would remain private. People were engaged and inspired by the
collective presence of the Animal army, all training side by side. It
was extremely gratifying to witness all of my Animal brothers training
together, entrenched in our philosophy of ten thousand hammers, and
bringing it hard to the city of Columbus. Perhaps some of you noticed
me during your time in the gym. Perhaps you noticed the manner in which
I was training.
That day, I noticed others training,
just as I might notice others training in any gym. There were groups of
two or three people training in units, working on specific body parts,
alternating sets and urging each other on. I trained in the same manner
I usually do. I don’t know if anyone paid any mind to me and what I was
doing or not, but I think, perhaps unbeknownst to all of you, that
there is room for all of you to implement some of the ideas I was
using. I trained that day according to my usual schedule, and in a
predetermined manner designed to avoid any lapse in training minutes.
Every three months I employ a "shotgun cycle", which is a particularly
grueling type of physical training that cannot be endured for any
longer than four weeks without ill effect. I don’t fancy the terms
giant sets or cross training, or any of that other shit that I read
about from time to time. I simply call it high intensity, heavy
training. There is really no need to say anymore than that, but there
is a need for some explanation on the matter.
I enter the gymnasium for a training session under these conditions, I
ascertain the exercise layout and order to avoid any lapse in training
minutes. There should be no time in between sets or exercises, except
the time which is necessary to move between the apparatus. Once inside
the training area, I warm up with fifty-four point mountain climbers
and possibly ten minutes on the exercise bike. Then, I perform my first
cycle, which is relatively light for each exercise. I’ll use the day in
Columbus as a model:
• Hammer Strength Pull Downs
• One Arm Dumbbell Rows
• Seated Low Pulley Rows
• Barbell Rows
is the exercise layout and order of performance. Once you have
sufficiently warmed up, you are to proceed from one apparatus to the
next without delay. You are to perform three complete cycles. Once you
have done movements one through six, you have completed one cycle. The
most important factor here is that you are not permitted to rest during
any phase of this evolution. The entire point of this cycle is to
facilitate the improvement of your athletic ability, as well as your
cardio-pulmonary threshold, while pushing your strength to keep up
under increased intensity. The complete purpose of the cycle becomes
frustrated and lost if you give in to exhaustion along the way.
who did notice my effort, not that I expect people to watch my every
move, would have noticed that the process is absolutely exhausting. I
was completely entranced by the rigors of this routine. I was unable to
remain upright when I was finished, but the effect is unmistakable.
Through this method, and methods like this high intensity attack on my
bodily functions, have enabled me to increase my strength levels while
placing my cardio-pulmonary system in red alert mode. This is what I
feel has contributed to my increased effectiveness as an athlete.
recommend this procedure to anyone wishing to up the collective ante in
their personal assault in order to become a more complete and developed
athlete. When developing physical strength, it is not sufficient to
merely consider the gymnasium as a daily drudgery. New methods must be
utilized and added to your arsenal of physical training tools in order
to bring about positive outcomes. That which we neglect shall be our
ultimate undoing. You must ask yourself if you wish to become a
well-developed mammal, or if you wish to become a weapon of physical
destruction, which through grueling, self-inflicted punishment has
become a machine of devastation bent on world domination. Are you
content doing 3 sets of this, 4 sets of that and 2 more sets of this?
Hardly inspiring, is it? Become something more than just the sum of
your daily activities.
|February 2: The Way of The Walk, Part 2
When people around you submit to the age old, apathetic allure of
business as usual politics and policies, at work or at play, you must
turn on your little light. You must lead by example. It may be
something as simple as smiling into someone’s angry face, or it may
come in the turn of a phrase, strategically placed in a tense moment.
No single one of us may be able to change the tide of that stormy
ocean, which we know to be the negativity of society, but a million
little lights can illuminate even the blackest night. Try not to
construct too great a divide between you and your fellow man. Remember,
that while it is good to achieve individual success and identity, it is
vital to remain an integral part of society. Even if you feel that you
are screaming at the rain, if you feel that you are but one tiny,
positive voice among many screaming, choirs of insanity, you must be
that voice of hope. You must be that light in the dark.
a personal level, I love the fact that we are joined by the bonds of
brotherhood, bonds which can only develop under the severe strain of
combat. But I must remain aware, and be ever vigilant, as I think you
should be, that we cannot afford to hold our human brothers, who may be
mentally and physically unlike us, in low regard. If we do, we are no
different than the ones who cast so much heavy judgment upon our way of
life. If we fall victim to our own overgrown pride, we risk losing the
ability to shine, both individually and collectively, as brothers, and
as men, we must yield to the moral imperative which dictates that we
are our brothers’ keepers.
|January 30: The Way of The Walk, Part 1
pandering, and absent the usual posturing that accompanies most iron
pros, I find myself hard pressed to put into words… The love I feel for
this style of living. To set oneself apart from the pack, to live the
way in which we do, draws fury from the scowling multitudes down upon
us, and yet this way of life illuminates our souls at the very same
time. How are we supposed to feel about that? Please excuse me for
speaking on behalf of all of us, but I think I can tell you how it
feels... We feel like the only crook at the Policeman’s Ball. We feel
society’s contemptuous, mock pity. We feel it, and still we press on.
Society at large is content to revile us for cultural offenses they’ve
prematurely judged us to be guilty of committing. They say we are
self-absorbed, misguided, narcissistic, muscle worshiping, buffoons.
But I say they know, deep down inside their human core, they know that
the mountain chose us… And we merely answered the call. Perhaps, at
some point in their lives, they too heard the call but failed to
answer, perhaps those people went on to become the resentful High
School Gym Teacher we all remember, still angry that they never made it
to the bigs. Nevertheless, when the lights go out, and each man is left
alone to listen to the voice inside his head, which of us will smile
and drift weightlessly off into dreamland, and which of us will curse
every decision he ever made? I think the answer is obvious. We are not
in need of redemption… We are spiritually solvent… We are alive.
the man whose failures bind him to the soil of his soul’s
discontentment, watching another man fly free is akin to the pain one
endures during physical torture. Perhaps the spiteful man feels much
more than merely physical distress, for he is sick within his heart.
Every society, from the dawn of time, down through the ages to the
present time, has suffered the wrath of angry, little men. Doomed to
languish in the self imposed, solitary confinement that are the
compilation of their life’s failures, these angry, little men feast
upon the pain and disappointment felt by those around them. And so, the
logical question might be asked, "How do we shine as individuals, as
well as collectively, under the weight of the aforementioned societal
pressures and judgment?" The answer might not be attractive to you, and
the solution will not come overnight. But I think the very first step
on the path to basking in the rays of a thousand points of light, is to
turn on one small light in a very dark room. Little lights are a lot
easier to carry, and they can be turned on at a moment’s notice in even
the bleakest of situations. So while you might not be a profit, daily
filled with the wisdom of a thousand lifetimes; you can choose to be a
soldier of truth, blessed with the inner courage to face every hopeless
circumstance you may come across.
|December 3: Comes The Executioner, Part 2
My point here is not complex. Any man can wave a flag and any person
can rave about something they want, but to actually achieve these great
heights, to truly own the images we hold so dear in our hearts and in
our minds takes something more than daydreaming and empty rhetoric. The
word, my friends, is execution. I will grant you the word execution is
not as sexy as some of the other buzzwords that are so often associated
with success and victory. We always hear words like determination,
perseverance, courage, fortitude, and of course the sexiest one of them
all, desire. I submit to you now that desire without execution is like
a sword with no blade, a gun with no bullets, or a bird without wings.
Furthermore, the result of missing or failed execution will produce a
man without achievements.
Notwithstanding the power
of all these five dollar words, I can readily assure you that words
will be of little comfort to you at 5:30 am, when the snow is knee high
and you are the only swingin dick in the weight room. However, if you
happen to remember a single word when you’re alone in the dark or on
leg day when you’re on your knees in front of the fucking toilet, in
the name of all that you hold sacred in this world, remember the word
EXECUTION. It will serve you far better than any romantic notion you
may harbor about what is necessary to achieve something in this hard,
Modern, socio-cultural, pop-psychology
enthusiasts would have you believe that all you need to do to achieve
something in this world is to want it bad enough… I say nonsense. I am
here to tell all the kiddies that Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, the
Tooth Fairy and the impossible dream just ain’t enough to get you that
brass ring; that’s just not the way life works. It takes more than a
dollar and a dream to make something of yourself, but then, that’s the
beauty of it. Not everyone will endure the rigorous challenges that
stand between you and that which you seek to possess. Not everyone can
see it through to the end, using their basic animal instincts, a
burning desire to become something and most importantly, a conceptual
understanding of the word execution. Execution can be the difference
maker that stands between what you are and what you could become. It is
the word that stands between emerging victoriously and retreating
ingloriously. A champion executes a well conceived plan of attack, he
never wavers from that plan and he doesn’t panic when the pain sets
|November 11: Comes The Executioner
believed that the id (the part of the unconscious mind responsible for
pure pleasure seeking) is what drives most of our external actions.
Irrespective of your sensitivity to the inner workings of your mind,
you are driven to covet the things that you desire most. This complex
mental process has been written about and puzzled over for decades, but
at its core, it is the supreme element of human truth. Perhaps at your
core you desire the warmth of blood rushing to your well developed
muscles. Maybe you have become enraptured by the images lodged deep
within your unconscious mind, images of heavily muscled warriors,
straining to move heavy objects. The problem begins on the battle
ground. The battle rages between the forces within your mind and the
reality is brought to bear when you are trying to achieve this mental
vision. In short, it ain’t that easy to get those muscles… Is it?
Every one of us is susceptible to the waking visions that project our
deepest desires across our imaginations, but the pick and shovel work,
the ugly part of it, is far less coveted. Contrary to popular opinion,
desire, in and of itself, is not the key ingredient necessary to
achieve pre-eminence. While desire might be likened to the high octane
fuel that drives the machine, or the vehicle, it is execution that
forges champions, winners and survivors. While desire is critical to
your success, and vital to your survival, execution is that all
important element that is absolutely necessary to obtain whatever it is
that you want in life. For example, take two professional football
teams that are each filled with elite talent that has made the
necessary sacrifices to achieve victory. Each man on the field is
filled with a burning desire to win, but only one team can prevail. The
team with the ability to execute the given plays and carry out the plan
of attack is the team that will walk away victorious...
|October 2: "A Simple Plan..."
an effort to flush your training clean and challenge your physique at a
new level, it’s important to stay ahead of the stagnating cycle of
inefficiency that threatens to creep up on us and catch us with our
pants down. The foundation of our training, from a practical
standpoint, must remain constant. We must never avert our vision from
the basic, sound elements that have brought countless people
before us optimum results. Also, we must consider timing, applied
stress, overall workload and joint integrity in our daily regimen.
manners and methods of training hold value, no doubt. We must seek to
render that value on a consistent basis, over a protracted period
and often under less than optimal conditions. This should be done by
carefully analyzing your factors of training and living, which are very
often at odds with one another. For example, let’s look at a highly
trained athlete that is also a business owner and parent… An
overachiever to say the least. This model of athlete is typically
under-nourished, over-extended and training at optimum levels for too
long with inadequate rest. Even though this individual has existed thus
far with only above average results in accomplishment and physical
appearance, he is still considered a "stud" by most people’s standards,
and therein lies in the danger of unintended stagnation. This person is
convinced that they are on the correct path. After all, everyone around
them tells them so. So what if all their contemporaries are in piss
poor physical condition, everyone likes to be the "stud," don’t they?
These are the makings of a real pain in the ass situation.
know of a woman who is a martial arts expert and instructor, an
aerobics and spin instructor, a marathon runner and an avid weight
training enthusiast. This woman owns several businesses, has a family,
and chairs several political committees... Sounds like she has a full
plate, no? To say that she and I have different goals and methods would
qualify for the understatement of the year, but that doesn’t mean that
she can’t benefit from certain basic principles that our bodies share,
whether she is aware of it or not. For example, nobody can demand
optimum levels of physical output over a protracted period with a
caloric deficit, or more truthfully, a vast caloric wasteland.
is this woman’s daily schedule: 0500 wake up, have a shake, and drop
the kiddies off at school. Run 20 miles, attend a sales meeting and
have two cups of coffee. Then, one hour in the pool and high impact
aerobics for 45 minutes followed by a few ounces of fish with some
greens for lunch. Next, work through the afternoon and then weight
train for one hour. For dinner, she eats chicken and some greens.
Before bed, she has two glasses of wine.
issues of basic training needs, inadequate rest and caloric consumption
in terms of input and timing? All this and she wonders why her body
isn’t responding the way it used to? Localized fatty deposits, skin
elasticity problems, weight control problems and so on. This case is
worth mentioning because although we are different athletes with
different goals we must not deviate too far from the basic proven and
necessary methods of nutrition and training. She is thinking "I train
using a wide variety of methods, I train hard all day, I do not over
eat and I am intense in my training." In her head, all the needs are
being met so there is no way she could stagnate. Is there?
she fails to realize is that in her efforts to bomb her body from every
angle with high intensity methods and schemes, she has done exactly
what she didn’t want to do. She has taken all that we know about how
the human body works and turned it on it's head. She has a caloric
deficit in the face of enormous caloric expenditure, she is training
too intensely for too long and she isn’t getting adequate rest.
Question: How does this compare or contrast to a hard core bodybuilder
or strength athlete? Conceptually, can there be a living parallel
between you and this woman? Answer: A resounding YES. There are many
living parallels between both models of athlete, and many of you are
placing yourselves in the same danger as this woman. Whether you
are aware that you are jeopardizing your training or not, the game is
the same. We have some work to do, yes?
Sometimes it is
appropriate to put away the science and let your nuts hang out there.
Other times we must use the most important part of our body... Our
brain. In part two of this exercise we will examine ways to
stay in tune with and recognize our changing caloric needs, the
importance of timing those all important feedings, the need
for result-based training modifications and the revolving cycles
of training intensity and methods based on individual goals and
results. STAY TUNED…
|September 19: "Alternate Routines with the Same Movements"
thunder in my mind tonight... Tripwires and cover fire symphony of
demise... Better roll right if I am alive tonight... We gotta let'em
fry tonight... No time to say goodbye tonight... We're screaming at the
sky tonight... I thought once about takin' people with me... I thought
twice about weapons formed against me... If I prayed at all... I'd
say a word for us all... Better to ask forgiveness... Than to beg
permission... Hope just took the last bus... And I ain’t one to sit
around wishing... So I ball up these fists... Head down... Knuckles
up... It’s still my life to lose... So let’s see what’s up."
for a moment the amount of intensity that you could generate during
exercise by simply reversing the order of your movements. Even if the
reverse only served as a tool to shock your muscles, there could be a
huge increase in training intensity. Notice I said "could be." The
reason I worded it as such is that I am aware of the skepticism with
which most people read training articles. As someone who has had his
shoulder to the wheel for many moons, I find that many athletes and
trainers, including me at one point or another, tend to push the sled
uphill at the expense of other meaningful tactics. It must be on a
subconscious level because before you know it you’re at your top weight
set for 3-5 reps. I have seen people start out with a training strategy
that employs different tactics, but they can’t help falling back into
the same routine. I also know a few people who pride themselves on
never doing the same routine twice, which I can’t say I fully endorse
unless it’s meant to treat some sort of training plateau or rut. My
training recommendation involves a small compromise.
a typical training session, you most likely warm up sufficiently and
then proceed to your first power move, which might be the bench press
or dumbbell press. You perform your pre-ordained scheme of sets and
reps before moving on to the next station, which might be inclined
flyes. Then, you probably do another press and a cable crossover or pec
dec to finish off the session. For one workout a month, I recommend
flippin' the script. Use the beginning of your session when you are
fresh to perform your precision movements. Start out with hard sets of
both pec decs and cable crossovers, followed by four hard sets of
dumbbell flyes. Now that you hare engorged with blood you can move on
to the pressing portion of your routine.
I will tell
you without delay that your pressing power will not be as high as
normal... Do not despair. Training intensity is the key beneficial
factor here. Look at it as a new challenge. How strong will you be with
half of your reserves gone before you've even pressed a weight? In
terms of strength you come out a winner due to the new kind of power
you will need to grind out reps with one half the weight you typically
use. The first session done this way will be somewhat disappointing and
difficult. The second time around you will notice a rise in pressing
power and stamina… Both victories. The added stamina and deeper
reserves will be of benefit to you as you roll back into your usual
Finally, you will notice a deeper and
different pump and burn than you’ve ever felt before. You will be
flooding the muscles with blood through elongation and pump, only to
bash them relentlessly with presses to finish your muscles off
completely. If done correctly, you should have a hard time washing your
face with your tits so full of blood. The upside is you HAVE to become
stronger. It’s like walking two miles to work every day, then walking
two miles to work every day with your dad on your back... The next time
you stroll to work without dad on your back the walk will be much
easier, which means that you have become stronger. It works. It’s as
simple as that. The trick here is not to throw away your ego, but
merely to put it in your back pocket for a while.
|August 3: "Balance"
you are like me and spend many, many hours of your life in the gym,
you’ve probably noticed a few things about people. One thing I notice
in just about every gym I train in is that people tend not to stray too
far outside their comfort zones. People become "strong body part
trainers", meaning they become invigorated with the thought of training
their favorite or strongest body parts or muscle groups. I can see how
easily this syndrome can creep into one's life, without that person
even realizing it. The math is not difficult: John
trains all his body parts routinely. His arms seem to respond
quicker than everything else. In no time, John's arms are easily his
best body part... This sound familiar?. So, what does John do now?
EASY... He doubles his arm training.
The reality is
that even under optimal conditions most results in bodybuilding are
hard fought and slow in coming. Everyone invariably finds a
muscle group that responds very well to stimulus and grows rather
quickly in comparison to their other body parts. Once you get that
taste of result, it’s easy to get caught up in chasing weights and
inches for that strong point and forget about the other muscle groups.
Another factor here is that making gains in larger muscle groups takes
sweat and pain, and requires an abundance of patience, which most
people don’t have. This is why all eight of the flat benches at
the gym are always occupied, but none of the squat racks are being
used, except to bench press because all the flat benches are
This is why there are always people waiting to
do lat pulldowns, but nobody is waiting for the deadlift platform. Or,
my personal favorite -- a few guys barbell curling out of a power cage
or a multi position squat rack... There is no more sure fire way
to piss me off, as well as have me throw your monkey ass out
of my gym, than that horse shit. Power cages
and squat-specific half cages are for serious fucking work.
You don’t see me trying to squat off of one of your fucking step mills,
do you? You will notice a man training quads on the leg press, and
a group of guys waiting to get on it too, but you never have to wait
for the lying leg curl machine or to do front squats. I could go on and
on, but I think it would belabor the point, which is simply this: You
cannot afford to train and/or fall in love with training only your
favorite or most responsive muscle groups.
good rule of thumb is that if you can sqaut 400 for 10 reps you should
be able to use 400 for 10 reps in the Romanian or stiff-legged
deadlift. It seems that people today aren’t concerned with this kind of
muscular balance. In the past I’ve advocated a reduction
in arm training to guard against or help break out of a
plateau. I’ve since escalated my position. If your arm training is good
and your results are good, but no other body part is growing or even
responding, stop training arms altogether. You have more pressing
areas of concern.
If your squat numbers are good, you
are leg pressing big weight and your quads are growing, STOP AND THINK.
There is an imbalance between your quads and hams simply by virtue
of the fact that your quads are receiving heightened priority
every week. Train your hamstrings first and push the weight and
intensity through the roof. Trust me, you will be better served to
learn this lesson early. If your arms are big and your shoulders
are small, double your shoulder work and drop the arm training. Am I a
heretic? The only training methods or theories that should be out
of bounds are those that haven’t produced results. Don’t be afraid to
eat your steak before your salad. Stop prioritizing strong or well
developed body parts, because the longer you do the further behind the
weaker parts are falling... Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
Prioritization should be used to bring your body into balance and
strengthen your weaker links.
If you told me that you
were an experienced trainer, I could make an educated guess as to your
routines and regimens, sight unseen. Most likely, you train your
quads before your hams and your arms are probably getting about double
the attention they should be. We won’t even speak of calves at this
point. Most of you train, and will continue to train your legs
this way regardless of deficiencies or uneven development.
This is not prioritization. Prioritization, periodization and
specificity of training exist to ensure overall balance
and minimal deficiencies in the development of the body. These
training concepts DO NOT exist to exacerbate the problem of
muscular imbalance in your physique. It wouldn’t kill you to
train something other than chest on Monday, would it? Monday must be
worldwide chest day for fuck's sake. Remember to look six
miles down the road, not six inches in front of your face. You are not
training for the body you want now, but for the body you want in five
|July 16: "You Can't Do It"
say that I understand the nature of most men is inaccurate. Struggling
to understand the nature of who I am is, most times, all that I can
handle. I have remarked in the past about the overuse of words and
images aimed at selling something to us. Presently, it’s to the point
of saturation. Have you ever stepped out of your house after a three
day rain storm and planted your foot in the sloppy mud that was once
your front lawn? This image serves as an adequate metaphor for the slop
I am speaking of. I can live with physical and environmental slop, but
I can’t tolerate mental slop. The words and ideas floating around in
the hemisphere are so voluminous that they put our collective intellect
into virtual slow motion, almost like mental quicksand.
spend most of my day in the gym, which is where I have most of my
mental breakthroughs. I don’t know if this phenomenon occurs in spite
of my location or because of it... It is immaterial, I suppose. The
fact remains that I find relative comfort in the place where my life's
work unfolds. To that end I am fortunate. Most weight rooms and gyms
aren’t riddled with strength and power athletes twenty-four hours a
day. There are a lot of what I would term “casual trainers” and “soccer
moms” found there daily. No judgment offered to either of these types
of people, especially since they pay two thirds of the bills in the
place and have just as much right to pursue their physical goals as the
next man or woman.
Anyway, imagine if it’s possible,
Machine, intermixed with all of these folks. It is a strange image for
me to ponder, so I’m guessing it must be almost unimaginable for you.
Be that as it may, I was looking at the bulletin board, which is
conspicuously positioned in front of the treadmills and unavoidable to
anyone using those machines, and noticed that it is festooned with all
the typical anatomical charts and instructional exercise posters that
one would expect to see in a gym. However, there was a rectangular
piece of paper that was in the middle of all this instructional and
motivational fanfare. It was a cut out that read "YOU CAN DO IT!" The
paper was no doubt placed there by one of the many perky little aerobic
bunnies hopping around the place.
In the course of my
regular business, I don’t have occasion to give a particular shit about
anything on that board as I have a lot on my plate most days. However,
the other day as I sat entrenched behind the desk for my post workout
feeding, I found myself noticing the slogan for about the fifth time in
as many days. I stood up, grabbed a black magic marker, walked over,
climbed behind the treadmills (which were all occupied by people that
were watching me intently) and stared at the slogan for a few moments.
I uncapped the marker and drew in a large black T right after the
letter N in the word CAN. My gym's cute, little, post-modern sneaker
sales pitch, presupposed highbrow slogan was now perfectly changed to
represent a stern new reality.
The sign now read "YOU
CAN’T DO IT" I no sooner planted my ass back down in my seat when the
first huffs and sighs were let loose. There were a few hushed comments
between the treadmill people. Then, one older lady got up the nerve to
say to me, "Now, why would you do something like that?" The answer to
this question had been reverberating around in my brain for days now,
just waiting to be set free. I responded, "In all the days of my life I
have been propelled further than I ever imagined I could be. I have
pushed myself harder than I thought was possible and I have refused to
give up on any of my dreams no matter what trials befell me. I know in
my heart that little black T motivated me more than anything else in
this world could have.”
Everyone on the treadmills
smiled from ear to ear. As I sat back down to finish eating, the lady
called to me and said, "That is the truest thing I have ever heard." I
smiled and got back to work. While I do believe in the power of
positive thinking and am aware of the power of the mind when it is free
to reach any height imaginable, I am a realist. I am grounded firmly in
the thought process that all of life is but a test. The challenge
doesn’t come from the outside, but from within. Can I do it? Am I
capable of enduring such trials? The phrase, "YOU CAN’T DO IT" should
echo in your mind and soul every time you hear it. Then, you must do
what you know you should... FIND OUT IF YOU CAN DO IT.
|June 21: "Angst?"
time to come up people, in all aspects of the phrase. It’s time to come
up and face our shortcomings. To come up in the world of commerce by
patronizing only companies that DO NOT patronize us. To come up in the
world of politics by disallowing the mainstream to marginalize us as
the "lunatic fringe.” To come up spiritually to the extent that our
souls are alive and indomitable and to give ourselves the room we need
to follow our own paths. In short, it’s time to come the fuck up from
all over the world... From the ghetto, from the 'burbs, from the upper
crust and from the underground. "When I was a child, I thought as a
child, I spoke as a child and I behaved as a child; but when I became a
man, I put away childish things," 1 Corinthians 13:11. It’s time to put
away childish things across the board.
I came up
believing in every man's shot at the brass ring. Although, the brass
ring may as well have been the fucking crown jewels because I had about
the same shot at getting both. My American dreams were clouded with
nightmares that weren’t anybody’s fault, but the product of mere
circumstance. I remained a kicking distance from the system all of my
life. I’ve always viewed the system of this country the way that many
people view the ocean, with a healthy skepticism and fear. I’ve known
many people who came up on the business end of the system. Trust this
-- the American dream is no dream for many people. That imprint on my
skewed young mind took time to cleanse. In time, the anger and
pessimism of those years gave way to strength of mind and an
unbreakable will to be free. It is with this transformation in mind
that I call out now for a new transformation in all areas and inside
all people that these words may reach.
I used the
word "transform"... I mean to say "transmogrify". I think we need to
alter the face of this world to a grotesque extent. The new face should
bear no resemblance to the old face. If we want the face of our country
to be one that people look to for strength and depth of character, for
a determined and unbreakable ally, for a resolute and confident friend,
then we must embark on a journey of self discovery. We must journey
through the hottest desert and the coldest darkest tundra, through
lonely and restless days and nights. For in the journey, we will find
the answers to questions we never had the courage to ask. Then, we will
know how to be firm and fair, steadfast and loyal, strong and
We will be kings, and kings never die.
Will you be at the front line of the battle when this new journey
begins? Or will you be manipulated by the purveyors of the status quo,
the rapists of countless cultures and infinite ideas and ideals? We
don’t have to settle for progress at the cost of our collective
conscience. Who says we can’t have it all? I say when the bell tolls we
let them know our name and destination. We let them wear our pain
across THIER faces. We let them know what we came to do. It’s the same
concept in the weight room... Do not drop that weight until you've done
what you came to do. I came to tell all the people to stop marching to
the slave drum... That makes me a dangerous man... That suits me just
fine, cause I'm a hard motherfucker to kill... I'll see ya in the ring.
|May 16: "Soldier"
The history books tell us of a time when men were not bound by any
formal law or code, instead the preservation of their sacred honor was
the unwritten creed they lived by. This way of life was predicated on
the notion that one must conduct himself in a manner befitting a
proper, honorable man. With that understanding cemented in men's minds,
they were compelled to act in accordance with the principles that they
held to be sacred and true. Principles like never allowing any man to
take from you what is yours without a fight. Principles like leading by
example and being slow to speak. This was the path toward living with
Indeed it is a real tragedy that these high rights and practices are
seen as lost by some and as a romantic fairytale by others. In recent
times, if we pause to consider this brave history, we reflect with
sadness and a profound longing that touches our souls. If we even pause
for reflection at all these days, what with the glorious advent of
myriad electronic devices, that render our memories' and original
thoughts all but obsolete. It is easy to long for days gone by, with an
emptiness that is all too real. Perhaps there is a way to harken back
to that way of life, if only in some small measure. Cursed by the
spirit of eternal optimism, I would sooner climb on perilous cliffs,
tempting death itself, before I would accept a dishonorable fate, and
lie face down in the mud.
Having said that, it is entirely up to us both as individuals, and
collectively, to bring these principles to the forefront of modern
living. All one need do to make these principles live again, is to
acknowledge the code of honor that has no end, that is timeless, and
ever-present. To turn away from the code can only breed a sad,
desperate and ultimately lifeless existence for us all. For those who
have the courage to act boldly. For those with the conviction to press
on with a new resolve. For those of us who will not be moved by the
flame of passing fancy, I offer a new life enriched by the glory of
eternal struggle. To raise the bar and to hold ourselves daily
accountable to this high standard will not be easy. But then, we are
accustomed to living absent any ease of existence, aren't we?
propose that we elevate our spiritual beings, by living with character
and conviction. By staying the course when others cannot or will not,
we plant our flag in the time's violent terrain. By choosing to
shoulder the weight when others refuse, while others bend and are
broken, we are shouting to both the heights and the depths. We will not
crawl. This way… This path we will take is the warrior's road. Those
that have doubt in their hearts need not walk this way. Those with less
than honorable motives will be crushed by the weight of their own
aspirations. Those who fail to heed the call or act dishonorably shall
perish in the sea of desperation that is life without the code. The
code is its own master There is but to heed the call or not to. What
are you prepared to do?
|April 1: "The Shaman Is Dancing"
Headlong into the black winds of fate. Walk with me, brothers. Feel the
cold, raw fingers of time lay across your heart. Visionaries are born
out of man's desire to reach a higher level of consciousness. The
foreseeable future looms ripe with the songs of discourse and the seeds
of violent change. Can we turn from the coming cataclysm? Will we
further agitate for the fiery death of the status quo? Mustn't we see
this fight through to the subsequent rebirth of integrity? Visionaries
are like a brilliant star that lights even the darkest night, a star
that illuminates a path for others to walk upon.
The men of vision from days gone by often pointed the way forward for
all of us and without their force of will, we would surely have
perished many times over. It is my sincere opinion, however, that a
visionary can be of even greater value by shining a needed light on an
old and treacherous path. By pointing to a time when honor, integrity,
strength and quiet resolve were the hallmarks of a real man. No doubt,
these are vital qualities that are all but deceased today. I have
thought often that we are standing on the edge of a new time, in much
the same way that the pioneers and pilgrims of old must have felt.
Times like these are volatile and primed with violent energy, one can
feel the atmosphere teeming with this energy. I have spoken and written
about this revolutionary period we live in before in the hopes that
people will rise to the challenge that beckons us. It is easy to
believe the sales pitch. They have drained the value out of man's
greatest accomplishments just to sell you a fucking car. They have
stolen your sense of destiny, of urgency, of dynamic consciousness.
They have tried to sap your will to survive and to thrive.
These things are your birthright but you have to fight for what is
yours and that which you seek to own. No one is going to give you
anything. If you haven't learned by now, most people's specialty is to
TAKE. This may come off as a depressing aside or an exercise in
negativity. Hardly. There is no need to be down in the mouth about any
of this information. This has been the playing field since the dawn of
time. The only difference being that the players are not worthy to take
the field these days. We are perpetually outgunned. We are perennially
under-manned. The numerical odds for our collective survival are
laughable. Guess what? WE'RE GONNA FUCKIN WIN ANYWAY. The theories and
life philosophies of our forefathers were both visionary, and extremely
out of place in their time. Their ideas were met with ridicule and
oppressive violence as is the case with most ideas that threaten
The way to find the smallest man in the room is easy. Speak of change
and see who becomes angry first. Ironically, you will see that
similarly, our life philosophies and ideas are often met with some of
the same apprehension and ridicule. There is a definite parallel
between our time and their time but is there a parallel in our strength
of heart? Our fierce mental attitude and standpoint of self reliance,
rugged individualism, and reckless abandon are very much out of place
in our own time. You see, we have this "odd man out" status in common
with these great men who came before us. I only pray that we are as
equal to the task we face, as they were equal to the trials that befell
them. Blessed is the sage, the shaman, the mystic, the seer, the
medicine man, and the soothsayer. Blessed many times over is he who can
call the armies of the world to war in a common fight. For what earthly
good am I if I cannot illuminate this path for my brothers?
my words do not call you to arms in the fight of your life--the fight
for your life, then I have missed my mark. In my mind and in my soul
the medicine man is dancing again. He is calling me to war. I must be
true to my vision. In no small way, I would cherish the right to be at
the front in this fight. I train my mind and my body for the right to
lead my brothers into battle. I am radically engaged in a violent
transformation. My evolution is the dangerous element the powers that
be cannot allow. Some ask "where is my motivation?" I answer in a
scream if not now… When?
Our ignorance is their triumph,
our confusion is their solution, our sadness is their joy. The bonds of
our imprisonment are the wings that give them flight. We will not go
quietly. I will continue my war in the trenches, on the boards, in the
gym, on any battle field where few defiantly challenge many. This is my
way. Come with me.
|January 30: "Balance"
you are like me, and you spend many, many hours of your life in gyms,
you begin to notice the same things about people whereever you go. One
thing you will notice in just about every gym is that people tend not
to stray too far outside of their comfort zone in many ways. People
become "strong bodypart trainers" meaning that they really only
become invigorated at the prospect of training their "favorite" or
"stronger" body parts or muscle groups. I can see how easily this
syndrome can creep into one's life and without the person even
realizing it. The math is not difficult: John trains all
his bodyparts routinely. His arms seem to respond quicker, and in no
time John's arms are easily his best bodypart. This sound familiar? So
what does John do now? Easy. He doubles his arm training.
reality is that even under optimal conditions, most results in
bodybuilding are hard fought and slow in coming. That said,
everyone will invariably find a muscle group that responds very
well to stimulus and grows rather quickly, in comparison to their
other bodyparts. When this happens, one gets a taste for
results and can be easily lulled into backing off other muscle groups
in favor of chasing weights and inches on what
are obvious strong points. Another factor here is the fact
that making gains in larger muscle groups takes sweat, pain, and
requires patience that most people don’t have in abundance.
is why when you walk into a gym or weightroom, you notice that
all eight of the flat benches are occupied. But none of the squat
racks are being used except to bench press out of because they ran out
of flat benches. This is why you will see people waiting their turn to
do lat pulldowns and no one waiting for the deadlift platform. Or my
personal favorite--a few guys barbell curling out of a power cage or
a multi position squat rack... There is no more sure-fire way to
piss me off, as well as have me throw your monkey ass out
of my gym than that horse shit. Power cages and squat
specific half cages are for serious fucking work... You don’t see
me trying to squat off of one of your fucking step mills, do you?
will notice a man training quads on the leg press and a group of guys
waiting to get on it too but you never have to wait for the lying leg
curl machine, or to do front squats. I could go on and on, but I think
it would belabor the point, which is simply this--you cannot afford to
train and or fall in love with training only your favorite or most
responsive muscle groups. Here is a rule of thumb that goes
back a while and I don’t hear it mentioned or passed on anymore... If
you can squat 400 for 10 reps, you should be able to use 400 for 10
reps in the Romanian or stiff legged deadlift. It seems that
people today aren’t concerned with this kind of muscular balance.
the past I have advocated a reduction in arm training to guard
against or to help break out of a plateau. I now feel ready to
escalate my position. If your arm training is good and your results are
good but no other bodypart is growing or even responding, stop training
arms altogether. You have more pressing areas of concern. If
your squat numbers are good and you are leg pressing big weight and
your quads are growing, stop and think, because you know there has
to be an imbalance between your quads and hams simply by
virtue of the fact that your quads are receiving heightened
priority every week. Train your hamstrings first and push the weight
intensity through the roof. Trust me, you will be better served to
learn this lesson early. If your arms are big and your shoulders
are small double your shoulder work and again drop the arm training. Am
I a heretic or what?
No training method or
theory should be out of bounds except the ones that haven’t produced
results. Don’t be afraid to eat your steak before you eat your
salad. Stop prioritizing strong or well developed bodyparts because the
longer you do the farther behind the weaker parts are falling. Tick,
tock... Tick, tock. Prioritization is supposed to be used to
bring the body into balance and strengthen your weak links. If you tell
me that you are an experienced trainer, I can then make an
educated guess as to your routines and regimens sight unseen. I am
confident that most of you train your quads before your hams and your
arms are probably getting about double the attention they should be. We
won’t even speak of calves at this point.
Most of you
who read this have trained and will continue to train their legs in
this way, regardless of deficiencies or uneven development.
This is not prioritization. Prioritization, periodization, and
specificity of training exist to ensure overall balance
and minimal deficiencies in the development of the body. These
training concepts do not exist to exacerbate the problem of
muscular imbalance in your physique.
kill you to train something other than chest on Monday. Would it?
Monday must be world wide chest day for fuck's sake. Remember
to look six miles down the road, not six inches in front of your face.
You are not training for the body you want now. You are training for
the body you want in five years’ time.
|December 20: "You Are the Victor"
"Cast away illusions... Prepare for struggle."
man said, "Build your castle strong and high. Let your banner wave for
all to see without exclusion. It is the hope of the wise man that
before the last brick of his castle fades to dust, the will of the
people is made real for generations to come."
bid farewell to most of the illusions that I clung to in my
youth? Great foolishness is at the heart of any man who has not
cast away his illusions. This must be true, but, am I truly prepared
for the struggle that lies ahead of me? I am. Who could possibly
have conceived of the heights mere mortals have
indeed ascended to? Men conceived of their own greatness. While
they were by no means great, they had the will to become
great. They exerted true force of will on their universe.
is the responsibility of the "common" man? The responsibility of
the "common" man cannot lie only in his his recognition of
greatness in others. He must rise individually and inspire the
collective masses with his will to become. If one is aware of
the great exploits of another man, another athlete, is it not incumbent
upon him to rise internally, individually, as well
as outwardly in an effort to meet this man's marvels externally?
If not exceed the other man's force completely. Or will the
watcher remain watching, content only to observe struggle from afar, to
observe glory from the safety of the cheap seats?
chance favors the prepared soul is it not then prudent to cast away
illusions and meet with struggle headlong? Adversity is my silent
mentor for he teaches me even in times of seemingly outward
contentment. Adversity is the lighthouse in the fog draped night. If
I am care free and without purposeful direction under some strain,
what I am I? Who am I? What will become of me? This war. This battle.
This search is not something I do, but instead, it is what and
who I am. I am not in a fight; the fight is in me... It
lives within me.
"I am the child of fortune, the
giver of good, and I shall not be shamed. She is my mother; my sisters
are the seasons; my rising and my falling match with theirs. Born thus,
I ask to be no other man than that I am..."
times of relative peace, the war-like man sets upon himself. Adversity
is not the enemy of accomplishment but the enabler of victory. Through
pin-point focus and an indomitable, war-like spirit, the peaceful man
can transcend the monotonies of modern societal emptiness. And so,
it must be with untrammeled foresight, and the gift of unbridled
optimism in the face of enormous adversity, that I call upon you. That
I scream to you from the depths of my soul, to cast away illusions and
to prepare for struggle. To create a clear line of demarcation between
our enemies and our allies. To conceive of new heights for us to reach.
To be prepared for the struggle that lies ahead of us. To impose your
will on the forces of this universe, and chase down the ghosts of
all our faded idols. In that we can reclaim the glory of our lives and
our future heritage collectively. Make it so...
|November 15: “Dangerous”
ever want something so bad, you could taste it in your mouth? Feel it
in your hands? You could almost smell it? I think alot about my path
and what fate will be mine in the end. For so long I have lusted for
blood… Lived like today was my last day... Hunted down the things I
needed... Chased every number I ever wanted to own... Done battle with
no regard for my health or safety... Withstood the load on my back no
matter how heavy. Now it occurs to me how much more I want to be a
I can almost salivate on myself thinking
of my humble place on the mantle of warriors. So many have come before
me. Am I worthy to keep company with them? I must prove my worth. Not
just sometimes... Every time and with every breath I can muster. I want
that humble place so bad it burns me to the core like acid in my veins.
How will I become this thing? How will they remember me? How will I
burn my image into this world’s memory? Am I to blame for all that
lives within me? Am I to blame? Sanctuary lies within this fight I
would be a fool to look away now.
A while ago, we were
going home from a training session and dinner. The police pulled us
over. “Get out!”, they screamed over and over again. I smiled from ear
to ear. I don’t know why. So there we are in the lights with about 15
cops around us. The ones closest to us have their guns out. I couldn’t
stop thinking about faith and fate and where I was going. You’d think I
would be concerned about our little police drama... I wasn’t. This
happens sometimes where I hang out. Anyway, I hear the portable
radio call on the cops mic that says, “Two white males armed, shots
fired, in a black Escalade.” The cop transmits back to HQ, “Suspects
detained”. My boy Joey looked like he was gonna shit his pants.
had a huge smile on my face at this point, partly because I know I
didn’t fucking shoot anyone and partly because of how I knew I was
expected to be afraid. That made me smile... It always does. The point
is, I was so consumed with all this desire in my mind that I couldn’t
care less about Kojak and the boyz trying to pin a body on me. It’s
I took my hands off the truck and
leaned against it. Of course they were not pleased. I said, “Unless
your boy got killed in the steak house down the block, you got the
wrong guys.” He was just about to say something to me when over
the portable comes, “Stand down 243. Shooters in custody.”
I laughed out loud and told Joey to check his shorts. The cops offered
their apologies and asked me if I work out a lot. I said, “Not really”.
Off we went.
A weird tale to say the least but it put
me in touch with my desire for the next level. I didn’t ever stop
thinking about my next workout even at gunpoint. I didn’t ever lose my
lust for carnage. My mind is a perfect weapon. I wonder if the cops
knew how dangerous I am to become a pure thing in harmony with my
desires and attached forever to my opposition from all sides, and to be
thankful deep down in me for the strain I was born to bear. Thank you...
|October 21: "Engage the Opposition"
nothing new to me to deal with doubt laid across my shoulders by those
around me. I can’t say I’ve gotten used to it by any means though. Why,
with all that human beings have achieved in our brief history, is it so
hard for people to believe in possibilities? I would love to tell you
that I have the answer to this, but I do not. Better I should use the
negative energy to sharpen my focus and attain the very things people
don’t believe I can attain. Better to light a candle than curse the
darkness. Doubt, just like pain, is very real and for that reason we
cannot act as though it doesn’t exist.
We can use
this mistake of human envy to heighten our sense of self in order to
aggressively pursue our goals. Sense of self is not meant to be wielded
like a loaded gun. In fact, to me, sense of self is more like a target
than a gun. A target will ultimately make you a more efficient killer
before a gun ever will. Sense of self is your target and you can use it
to set your mark in this world or you can put it in your back pocket
long enough to forget how to use it. Make adjustments in your
personality with the same vigor as you make changes in your physique
the doubt of all those who have confronted you in your life hanging
fresh in your mind let us set about a task to lift our spirits--arm
training. Those of you who know me are aware I don’t put a high
priority on arms in general. Not because I don’t like training them, I
just hate that the whole concept of strength training is dumbed down to
one question: “How big are your arms?” It’s just something that has
grown tiring to me. There are things to be considered well before the
arms, I assure you.
Genetics play more of a role in
this one than in most other factors you will face. You cannot change
the shape of your arm or how it peaks... Done.
cannot make them bigger by training them four times a week with fifty
sets a session. No matter how strong you are or how much you curl, they
still might not grow. You might tear your bicep though... Done.
sure you ride the bike or walk the treadmill. Even though “it’s only
arms” you still need to warm up your connective tissue and avoid
injuries to the best of your ability... Done.
My position on biceps is as follows:
1) A position of pure power, for example standing barbell curls
2) A position of pre-stretch, for example inclined dumbbell curls
3) A position of isolation, for example preacher curls
that simple. How many of you consider this common sense approach when
training biceps? This solution must be followed if you hope to increase
the muscle mass of your upper arms. Or, you could just keep doing
arbitrary, random routines that have no intended purpose. The choice is
yours. To me, cake now is better than cake later.
waste time and energy? When you hit these moves, aside from the opening
exercise, do one “feel” set and then get to work. You don’t have to
spend two hours running up the rack... GET WHERE YOU’RE GOING AND GET
|September 26: "Sorry?"
at every level is something that used to be put at a high premium and
was a good trait that very few people possessed. These days it’s almost
impossible to find, let alone be an individual. I sometimes make the
mistake of thinking that honesty is as important to others as it is to
me. Forcing me to learn the distasteful lesson one time too many that
in fact people don’t put a premium on truth anymore. At least, not like
they used to. It seems that they don’t even want to know what the truth
is, let alone know it when they see it.
me on many levels, but none more than the basic level of the human
dignity that is lost when we live a lie. I won’t engage in
dishonest practice or lie in as a written device for any reason
whatsoever. It demeans me as a man and as an athlete. It seems that in
living in this way, my way, I tend to step on toes and ruffle feathers
everywhere I go. Now, the modern way to handle this situation is for me
to get “in touch” with the “inner” me and resolve the “turmoil” in my
soul so I can “relate” to people on a more “metaphysical” plane. I am
not going to do that. I am a throwback to a time when a promise between
men meant something. I wish I could face down my opponents in a fight
to the death. If it were up to me, it would be pistols at dawn
I started this whole trip with no
apologies and no regrets and I will be dammed if I’m gonna switch up
now to gain acceptance from anyone or any thing as an entity. I find it
daunting to speak about my experiences with people I trust, let alone
people I will never meet in person. I have faced this task and tried to
take it in stride and to some degree I find it therapeutic and
insightful. I accept the responsibility that is mine as it relates to
the ideas I speak about and I submit that these ideas were gleamed from
literal years of training. Training and the cumulative sum of successes
and failures I feel privileged to have had laid upon me. I still don’t
know what fate I will find at the end of destiny’s road, but I am
prepared for all out war until I have no breath in my body.
those who would seek me out to hinder me or stand on my back to climb
higher, I pledge an oath of warfare to the last drop of blood. My
agenda now and for the future calls for brutality and bone-grinding
mule work and to be sure I won’t stop heading for the top no matter who
the next big thing is. No matter if I ever win a show again. No matter
if I ever even compete again. No matter what this world thinks of me or
how they “relate” to me I will endure and strive to dominate my
surroundings now and in the next realm. For me, it’s more than words,
more than ideas, more than promises more than lies, it is all I am and
all I will ever be and I won’t let myself down.
to those who I upset along the way, this is as close to an apology as
you will ever hear from me. I hope that my honesty and purity of heart
is something that at least you, my brothers, still hold in high regard.
There is a war and I am a weapon bent on the destruction of the status
quo. Bent on the destruction of the lies we have come to accept as
common place. I am a mechanism set in motion to fuck up the system and
shake the pillars that hold this shitpile up. If I have to bash myself
against my enemies like a battering ram, I will and there wont be any
tears from my eyes. Call me psycho, call me ugly, call me whatever you
want because I have heard it all before.
my high school guidance counselor telling me I would be in prison
in ten years time, so this is all a big victory lap for me baby. I
warn those of you who live the lie that tomorrow will be here
quicker than you think and your running out of time. You can’t
afford to waste your time here and hope there is a bonus round at the
end to redeem yourself. I play for keeps and I will show you what I
mean very soon...
|August 28: “Angst”.
It's time to come up people, in all aspects of the phrase. To come up
and face our shortcomings in many areas of achievement. To come up in
the world of commerce by patronizing only companies that do not
patronize us. To come up in the word of politics by disallowing the
mainstream to marginalize us as the "lunatic fringe". To come up
spiritually to the extent that our spirit is alive and indomitable and
also to that extent we need room to follow our own paths free from
corporate malice. In short its time to come the fuck up--from all over
the world. From the ghetto, from the burbs, from the upper crust and
from the underground.
"When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child and I
behaved as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish
things." It's time to put away childish things across the board. I came
up believing in every man's shot at the brass ring, although the
brassring may as well have been the fucking crown jewels. Cuz I had
about the same shot at getting both. My American dreams were clouded
with nightmares that were no one's fault, only the product of mere
circumstance. I remained at a kicking distance from the system for all
of my life. I always viewed the system of this country the same way
that many people view the ocean--with a healthy skepticism and fear.
I know of and have known many people who came up on the business end of
that system. Trust this; the American dream is no dream for many
people. That imprint on my skewed young mind took time to cleanse--the
anger and pessimism of those years in time gave way to strength of mind
and an unbreakable will to be free. It is with that transformation in
mind that I call out now for a new transformation in all areas and
inside all people that these words may reach. I have used the word
transform. I mean to say transmogrify. I think we need to alter the
face of this world to a grotesque extent, in that the new face will
bear no resemblance to the old one.
If we want the face of our country to be one that people look to for
strength and depth of character, for a determined and unbreakable ally,
for a resolute and confident friend, then we must embark on a journey
of self discovery. We must journey through the hottest desert and the
coldest, darkest tundra, through days and nights of loneliness and
without rest. For in the journey, we will find the answers to questions
we never had the courage to ask. Then we will know how to be firm and
fair, to be steadfast and loyal, to be strong and compassionate. We
will be kings and kings never die.
When this new journey begins will you be at the front line of the
battle or will you be manipulated by the purveyors of the status quo?
The rapists of countless cultures and infinite ideas and ideals. We
don't have to settle for progress at the cost of our collective
conscience. Who says we can't have it all?
I say when the bell tolls, we let them know our name and our
destination, we let them wear our pain across their faces. We let them
know what we came to do. It's the same concept in the weight room. Do
not drop that weight until you've done what you came to do. I came to
tell all the people to stop marching to the slave drum. That makes me a
dangerous man. That suits me just fine, cuz I'm a hard motherfucker to
kill. I'll see ya in the ring...
|July 27: "Eternity"
day the game changed for me was much like any other day. I was
going through my rituals and routines the same as I always do, but
things were not the same whether I knew it or not. The
planets were aligning themselves to serve me up something new this
fine day above ground. To my credit I've always lived in a way that
kept my mind open to the unknown and to events beyond explanation, but
I still was not ready for this kind of awakening.
hit the gym about 7:00 a.m. and with the understanding that leg day was
at hand, I carried myself with a certain amount of hatred and contempt
for the status quo that is a prerequisite for such a day. Needless to
say I was ready for fucking total war. I proceeded to the leg extension
machine and wasted no time ripping off 15 sets with a pause at the top
of each rep. The leg press was next. Leg presses in general are all
different, in terms of maximal load, angle of press and overall feel of
the sled. The one I use is two tiered and can hold 38 plates on it if
you squeeze a plate onto every square inch that exists.
hit my warm-ups with usual zeal and made jumps in weight accordingly. I
reached the max weight I estimate to be about 1750 lbs. I should
mention that as I ascended in weight I was becoming frustrated by the
fact that I was recruiting too much hamstrings for my liking. On the
first top weight set I did, I decided to lower my foot placement about
2 inches. Don’t ever do that. I knew that all the years of experience
told me not to do this… I did it anyway. At about the 12th rep I
reached back and took my knees to my mouth... I took the weight as low
as I could go down. A quarter of the way through the ascent came the
pop. My quad shifted and I saw the muscle roll up my thigh--not a
completely new feeling to me, unfortunately.
people in the gym puked right where they were standing, including my
partner, who looked like a fucking ghost reached down and grabbed his
balls. I said one word… “Quad.” I used the other leg to press the whole
load up and then I felt the pain kick in. I got up to let the muscle
elongate so I could see how bad it was. It was bad, but not totally off
the bone. I threw up in the tiny shithole bathroom and almost ripped
the bowl out of the floor cuz I was so mad. I was mad at myself for
doing something so stupid. I do not recommend anyone using the methods
that I use. I then went to the leg extension machine and forced my
bulging thigh to bend into position. People left and women cried and
ran for ice. I did 10 more sets of extensions as sure as I fucking sit
here. I don’t know if I was punishing myself or refusing to grasp
the fact that I was hurt.
It's hard for anyone to get
hurt. But when this shit is what you do, it’s unbearable. The people
who saw me that day they were changed forever. Since that day they have
come to me and said they can’t get the popping noise out of their head,
it haunts them. They are afraid to go hard now. I look at them and
smile. Apart from them thinking I am totally insane, I think I gave
them a gift. I gave them the complete and committed pursuit of
greatness. I gave them the most real and true experience some of them
have ever had. I gave everything I had to the point of hell and back.
The awakening I had was on that leg extension machine. I found out
about what I am made of... I found out about leaving everything you
have on the battle field... I found out how to live forever, even if
you live on only in the minds of others. I bathed in everything and
nothing all at once and I wasted not one second of it. I was so
thankful to fight another day in the hopes that I could see the face of
eternity again. This is my home... This is my war... This is total
|June 28: "Self Help 101"
Self Help 101
doomsday clock is ticking for all of us on one level or another. At
some point we all have to decide to be the windshield or the bug. It’s
at that moment and in that decision that your true clock begins to
tick. Will you putter away the hours and days half alive in some kind
of haze? Or will you take control of your own existence? Will you do
the things that are necessary to initiate the growth of your body and
mind? Will you defy all the people in your world who try to hold you
down? Maybe you would be better off with another pursuit. Maybe this
shit is just too difficult. If anyone wants to bow out now we will
It’s easy for me to understand why people
don’t want to bury themselves is pain and ceaseless challenges. It’s
much more fun to shake your ass at the bar, isn’t it? Chasing ass and
wearing your little brother’s shirt to show off your arms (which
incidentally is what you train 3 times a week). I know, I know... I am
a cruel motherfucker. Like the saying goes, “You have to be cruel to be
kind.” I am not your friend. I am not here to pat you on the ass and
say nice job when you fuck up. What I have to offer is the razor sharp
sword that is the truth. It is not my truth. It is not your truth. It
is the only truth. Cuz like it or not, there is only one truth,
contrary to popular belief. What I have to offer is better than a
friend. I can offer you the advice of a brother. Your brother is not
going to sugar coat things for you... He is going to throw some reality
at you, whether you’re ready or not.
Check your level of commitment every day... If you don’t, you might
lose your mental edge... Do that and your finished. You might as well
go sell ice cream or some shit. The right to live this life we chose
and to walk with pride can’t be taken lightly. They are fundamental
elements necessary to sustain our ability to make war. If our effort is
not sustainable, our goals become unrealistic and our sight becomes
blurred. It can happen without us even knowing it. There are reasons
that I am telling you these things, I want you to have longevity in
this game. So many come and go without reaching the visualization they
had for themselves at the start.
You must avoid the
pitfalls of those who fell by the wayside along, the same road you are
on now. I will tell you that one of the most disturbing and distracting
things you will face is life. We all know life is hard all over. That
is not what I mean. I mean having relationships with "normal people".
How many times have you felt like a stranger at your own dinner table?
How many times have they looked at you like a lost cause. It’s hard for
people to cope with and understand our lives and the way we live them.
"But why?" Ever heard that one? “Why do you want to look like that?”
"Why do want to get all big and veiny?" Or "All you do is work out--you
don’t even get paid for it". They just don’t get it and every time myou
stop to address their assertions, you have allowed them to distract
You see, it is the perfect breeding ground for
an isolationist mentality. Instead of watching Dr. Phil and trying to
figure out how to fit in, say, “Fuck it.” Fuck every one of them and
you use that isolation to concentrate on your vision of what you want
to become. For one chest session per month, begin your training with
inclined flyes. Move to incline barbell presses. Move to incline
dumbbell presses. Move to inclined cable flyes. Move to wide grip dips
as your finisher.
Incline Flyes: 40 lb/20, 60 lb/15, 80 lb/12, 100 lb/10, 130 lb/8, 150 lb/6-8
Incline Barbell Presses: 185 lb/15, 250 lb/12, 345 lb/10, 415 lb/8-10, 460 lb/6-8
Incline Dumbbell Presses: 85 lb/12, 135 lb/10, 160 lb/10, 180 lb/8-10
Incline Cable Flyes: 100 lb/15, same weight for 4 sets
Wide Grip Dips: Bodyweight for 20 hang 45 lb/15 hang 90lb/10 hang 135
lb/10 hang 180 lb/8, then drop the weight and rep to failure.
at least 15 minutes stretching and include rotator cuff moves for
rehab. This is a routine I did this week. The poundages are incidental…
I included them because people are always asking. My numbers are just
that though… Numbers. They only serve as an instructive guide and an
intuitive baseline for your training. Make the numbers serve you--don’t
become a slave to the numbers. All of my beliefs are intertwined with a
desire to achieve maximal efficiency. My point is waste nothing. Use
all of your experiences and desires to draw power and inspiration then
leave it all in a puddle of blood on the weight room floor.
|May 25: "Anger"
in all its forms and nuances, is the best motivating emotion there
is. Success is scarcely found without ties to this potent agitator
lurking somewhere down deep. A kid looks in a store window, he
sees a shiny new red bike, then he feels the holes in
his pockets... The fire is lit. From that primal emotional
reaction, the child realizes that want and anger are directly
linked to each other. Now, I know we live in a so called
"enlightened" society and I certainly don’t want to discourage any
zen aficionados out there. But I say, why fight it? Is the kid
supposed to be thankful he doesn’t have a pot to piss in? Or should
he remember that feeling every time he feels far away from
something he wants?
Every time I feel too far away from
my destination, every time my vision is blurred, I become that kid
again. I become angry at myself. I become angry
everyone around me. I feel the sense of urgency rush back over me.
I know that there is a mean streak a mile wide across my back and
I am thankful
for my anger. Lurking beneath every loss, every tear,
every broken dream is anger. We, as a people, are about as far
from a utopian society as we have ever been in my way of thinking,
so fuck it, ride the wave.
A real warrior doesn’t
lament what he has lost. He becomes angry. He goes on the warpath.
He goes looking for a fight. I find a hundred reasons every day
be thankful and that is correct. I can find one reason a day to
be angry and that is when I step in the gym. I see that shiny new
bike in the store window and I'm mad cause I don’t have it yet. I
won’t lament mistakes or catalogue regrets, but I will get on the
warpath and go looking for a fight. To be brutally honest, I stay
angry pretty much all the time and I have found no greater
motivator than anger. I'm sure there is someone somewhere
whistling zippidy-doo-da, it’s just not my way.
train upset. I stay upset. People ask me how much is enough. I tell
them, I'll let you know when I get there. They ask does it ever
get any easier. I tell them, I hope not. Who wants easy? What is
worth having that comes cheap? I would rather write the book of my
life in my own blood and be able to say I paid for that shit in
full. It is ironic.
There are things all around me...
here are people all around me. There are people all around me who can
give me all the things around me, but no one can give me what
I want. I have to pound it out myself. I have to take what I need
for me--no one else. For what the people around me do give me, I
am thankful. The space to run into brick walls and the right to be
angry, it’s all I know. This is probably the place where I should
say I'm sorry for being a first class motherfucker. I'm not ready
to yet and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting if I were you. Like I
said, no apologies. I paid for this shit in full.
if you still think it’s wrong to be angry, ask yourself if it’s
wrong to be sorry as well. The way I see it, I would rather be
angry than sorry--at least you can build on anger. And don’t tell
me you don’t get mad when you’re half way through your third nasty
dry chicken breast and you wish you could swallow it whole. You
may as well use that anger in a positive way, right? And don’t
tell me you don’t look around the gym and while your covered head
to toe and still looking respectable, you see some asshole in a
yellow tank top talking to the soccer moms who, incidentally, are
only there cuz hubby doesn’t notice them anymore and they look at
you like you don’t belong. Tell me you don’t get angry... I
fucking dare you.
The point here is anger is a
stimulus too. It stimulates some instinct in you to tap into your
own power over your own universe. I suggest you find a way to
use it, cuz it ain’t going anywhere.
|April 6: "A Sacred Place"
The Animal forum, The Forvm,
opened a few months ago and I have sat in the quiet hours of
night, many times reading. Watching. Smiling. Smiling to myself because
you would never believe how many people bet the house that this little
thing of ours wouldn’t last. In fact our little thing has
turned into quite a big fucking thing... Thank you all very
It always comes back at you when you dare
to face the haters and the negative individuals that all too often
come your way in this world. It comes back at you because you stood on
principle when they turned away. You stood to face the fire while
others ran home to Mommy. It comes back at you and all you can do
is smile. It has always made me feel proud to stand alone and
press on through the waves of doubt and hate that befell me. It
was always a point of pride to scream back at them with my
silence, my diligence, my sacrifice.
others felt this pride too. It turns out we are many. It turns out
the assholes were wrong again. So I sit in the dark smiling and
knowing what is worth having is worth working for. Smiling and
seething with rage and bathing in our defiance. This is our
victory and they can’t take that away from us. Sadly, the images
you see in this sport are not always representative of reality and
I have known that for a long time now.
reality. You are the living breathing chaos that makes up this sport,
not them. Not the Hollywood happy people. They don’t have to work the
day after legs and they don’t have to pound nails in the bitter
cold all week waiting and chomping at the bit for the whistle to
blow so they can heap some more punishment on their bodies. You do
that and you will continue to do that. That is why I share my
religion with you. That is why I let you into my twisted life and
that is why I remain. I won’t turn away when the war pops off... I
won’t sell your dreams. I won’t ever walk away.
true test of a man is one who owes nothing but continues to give.
You give to me in more ways than you know. I will give all I can
to this life I chose until it pulls me apart. I will always get
up. I will always come back for more. I will never quit. I will
continue to scream at them in my silence. When you see me
somewhere you might notice I won’t speak freely and converse openly...
That is my way. When in fact you do see me, though I may be silent, you
must always know inside I am screaming... Screaming for those who
never had a chance. For the ones who have no voice and for the
ones who punch the fucking clock every day because they have a
will of iron. Through the pairing of divine guidance with
a maniacal work ethic... I have been given a chance to scream and
to have others hear my screams. This is all I know.
they hear us and realize we won’t be fooled or conned. We say what
is real because we know what is real. We are fucking real. The
power brokers will not stop feeding us bullshit, so we had to find our
own place. A place where we could help each other and keep each other
honest through the open exchange of ideas. I hope everyone
understands how valuable this place is and I hope everyone is as
thankful as I am for its birth.
It feels like a
victory for our way of life. More victories are coming... I know
my destiny is a winding path and my time has not yet full come. I
am on fire with enthusiasm and redoubling my efforts every day to
meet the future with the requisite strength and force. You must
will your self to do the same through the days and the nights of
reps, sets and pain. There is plain few things that can’t be
accomplished with sweat and hard work. We're used to that. Aren’t
we? Hail victory...
|March 1: “Live Through This”
So you think this is a fucking game? You think this don't count for
street chips? I guess you are ready to give up your space on the board.
Throw your cards in motherfucka... Your game is over. One time is all
it takes to lose your head. If you let your guard down, you lose your
mental edge. Fear creeps into your heart. Doubt creeps into your mind.
is only a state of mind but so is winning. I learned to win when I
practiced street preparation. I never learned to lose mentally and
that's why I'm still here. Something about that phrase never sat well
with me, “Learning to lose gracefully”. I never wrapped my brain around
learning to lose period. I also never conceded that the ones who judged
me were fit to do so. The stakes to me were always so much higher than
the “judges” could even fathom. The people, places and things around me
as well as the circumstances I was immersed in helped grow me up.
Look at a man and see not only what you think he is, but who he really
is. I've known guys who won an award or title or a game and it never
dawned on the spectators that he probably shouldn't even be alive at
this moment. The spectators don't know the real battles some of us have
fought. Some of the battles you have fought are your own personal
victories. Those games you play now don't encapsulate you; they don't
define who you are.
Don't forget the battles you have won, the streets you have walked, or
the chips in your pocket. Where I come from you don't let anyone snatch
your chips. You die before you lose and you lose only when you die.
After that nothing much matters. The first thing you ever do and the
last thing you ever do is what bonds you together with the rest of the
What's in between determines how you pass through the gates. Will it be
in honor or shame? I know if you stick with what got you this far you
can't go wrong. Don't forget who you are or where you come from. Don't
allow others to judge you worthy of some stupid prize. It's
meaningless. The life you live gives your life meaning. Spend your life
spitting venom and dare to live truthfully even in the face of
hypocrites and fools. Live.
|February 5: "Nameless, Take Two"
this into your existing split three times weekly. If you perform these
movements as prescribed they can elevate your muscle trauma levels
without pushing you into so called “overtraining”. This method is an
excellent power booster and is just what the doctor ordered to blast
past your current sticking point. Warm up sufficiently then proceed to
the power rack.
Perform 3 high rep warmup sets of
squats to full depth. Then perform six sets in succession with
ascending weights. These sets must be with a weight that allows perfect
form with full depth and no fewer than 12 reps. Overall weight is not
of maximal importance as much as the once count pause you are to
incorporate into the bottom of every rep. You should squat and when you
reach full depth pause for a one count, then explode up as forcefully
You will not be able to use the amount of weight you normally do. Do not let that concern you.
set a bar at the low portion of an open power rack or if using a cage
set the pins at the point just below your knees. You are going to
perform “rack pulls”. This is essentially the top half of a deadlift.
This move though is a “pure power” movement and will force you to
overload all of your large muscle groups for a full on blast of fiber
recruitment. Perform six heavy sets of ascending weights until you
reach 6 reps and no more per set.
Now finish up on the flat bench and before you even think about the
weight on the bar you must forget that shit. Perform your reps and sets
perfectly and also incorporate a pause when the weight touches your
chest. Then as in the squats explode upward as forcefully as you can.
Perform warm ups of course before you raise the poundage. Then perform
six sets of 10 reps and make sure you are able to hit 10 reps.
format will provide a surge in strength and size because not only is it
a change in your program but it is an addition that will force your
body to regroup and adjust to its new demands. The result is the
definition of physical development and that is what the game is all
about. One way or another we grow… Your results are only as limited as
|1/11/07: "Nameless, Take One"
articulate the thoughts in my head seems all but impossible to me. Up
is down, black is white and I can’t find an uncluttered moment to
reflect, or to just breathe. At what point do today’s thoughts become
tomorrow’s compulsions? When do all the plans we etch into our minds,
like so many blueprints, become just another rained out ball game? I
think I can make it another mile if I can just trust my own instincts.
I’ll keep moving and try to feel my way through the darkness.
dreams have bent themselves into demented pieces of a reality that must
have been half-imagined. When I am awake scenes from a collection of
memories are smeared across my mind, and I begin to see in the colors
of true violence. I feel what it is like to be trapped under ice, to be
rubbed raw by the coldness of my own mental solitude. I am, for lack of
a descriptive category, a pile of blood and bones.
always come before the questions, and the questions enrage me more than
the answers. I cannot forget anything. Sometimes I want to carve my
ninth grade locker combination into someone’s forehead. The numbers,
the colors, the streets in which I was baptized. The hits, the misses,
the people who’s ghosts are my constant companion. The voices that are
never silent, always playing like a stuck record. To be separated from
them would be such a sweet relief, to feel the distance of time, and to
remember them only as a faint echo. Maybe they where never there… Maybe
none of us are ever anywhere.
If I make my way to the
weight, maybe I can find out who I am. If I get another rep up, I might
find out why I’m here. Closer to the ground, it’s where I’ve always
been. They can’t separate me from the earth if I’m fused to the ground.
I am the ground, I am the weight, and I am the burnt air expelled from
my lungs. Born from my own visions of mortality and violent release.
First the suppression and then the release. The release can be violent
if held down too long...
|December 21: "Survivors"
always seem suprised when bad things happen to us. Maybe it's because
we have within us a preprogramed reaction to adversity. Perhaps this
reaction is what keeps mankind from extinction. In my estimation,
without that built in reaction, we would already be atomic dust. I know
on a personal level the need to fight through adversity is not
something I observe from the sidelines. It is the very fabric of my
existence. Many other people feel this way and some of them come to
hate life for this reason. At times it seems as though we are born only
to be enslaved with strife and laborious toil. I submit that this is
not our bond or imprisonment. It is our foundation and our legacy.
Survival is the pinnacle of our acheivement. Again on a personal level,
my survival is invariably linked to an instinct within me. To fight
toward a ray of light, to claw for every inch of territory though it is
only dirt and rocks. Around this time of year I am compelled to look
past the revelry and sentimentality we are bombarded with every minute
of the day from all angles. I look at the survivors of the war on
humanity… Those who by our decadent standards are poor in wealth or
material goods. Those who wear the struggle on their faces. You can see
it in thier eyes and in the way they move. They are cautious and
evasive but they are swift. They are shadows but I see them everywhere
I look. I won’t name them but you know who they are. You see them too.
Do not condescend or allow yourself to feel pity. The survivors know a
nobility and honor most people will never feel. Take a lesson from them
as I have… Learn from their strength and dignity. Do an extra thousand
push-ups today in honor of the survivors. Do a few more sets and think
of how some of us are lucky in a way to never have to be a survivor in
the battle for humanity.
|November 27: “Dirt”
make big holes, teachers forget what it’s like to learn, and the
subway always smells like piss. Life is full of certain truths that are
non-negotiable. Now we step inside the arena. I sketch broad strokes…
When I speak about my passion for steel, my mind jumps around like a
bum on fire. Hard edged? I guess so. Nice guy? I never said I was. What
about you? You got eyes on you too. Can you shrug them haters off you?
Can you go in any direction—North, South, East and West—and still
remember you are a member of the most brutal species this world has
seen? Can they defeat you? Can they beat you? There is a difference
between the two, you know. I feel the eyes on me. I smell the fear on
these bitches. Some talk hard, but when it’s time to get it poppin’
they’re ghost. No matter what happens we walk hard. Fuck that… WE
STOMP. We slap faces that have traces of smart ass. We walk together,
an ARMY of soldiers. In the game to rip off the top half and let
them know that the law of the jungle is the only code
that matters. We eat dirt so the rest of the world knows that they
don’t own hate...
|October 12: "This Ain't No Bake Sale, Take Two"
The basis for this routine is a 5-day program--something comparable to this…
Your new program is as follows…
Tuesday: Chest & Arms
Thursday: Shoulders & Arms
begins the cycle again. This program is extremely
physically punishing and mentally demanding. The way to give it a
real kick in the ass is to stay with free weight exercises on leg day
one and overload the weight with the machines on leg day two.
leg day one is as follows: Barbell back squats, barbell front squats,
barbell lunges, weight-assisted sissy squats, stiff leg deads, dumbbell
Leg day two is: Leg extensions, leg presses, hack squats, stiff-leg deads, lying leg curls.
else to remember is that you will not be performing two full arm
workouts. You will perform 6 sets of bis and 6 sets of tris in each of
your arm sessions. You will be focused and expeditious and don't fuck
around about it. The idea is to stimulate a surge in growth from new
tactics, a straight up bombing of the legs and a guerilla attack from
the rear to shock your arms into a new phase of development.
hope this makes sense to you from a standpoint of efficiency… You don’t
have to wait around for things to happen. Kick that program in the ass
and reduce the time it takes to affect real change in your body.
|September 27: "This Ain't No Bake Sale, Take One"
heard it said that in order to gain something you have to give
something up. In this case you don't have to totally give up
on anything. You do however, have to be flexible beyond the rigid
confines of your possibly stagnant routine. Don't rush to judgment
over those first few lines, status quo happens to us all at one point
or another. Now, what are we going to do about it? Answer: Double up on
the leg training.(This will surely make me the most popular fucker in
the world) Uncomfortable yet? Please read on and allow yourself to
believe in alternate theories based on fucking insanity. Let's
face it, this is not mental health 101. If any of us were mentally
sound we might not enjoy puking in the fucking gym parking lot with a
group of disapproving soccer moms looking on in horror. Now enough
talk, let's bleed. The most commonly asked questions to me are,
“How can I get my arms to grow?" Followed only by the over asked
question, "How can I get more growth out of my legs?" This here is
a genuine two for one sale and this shit sells itself...
|August 30: “Wars Within The Weight”
order of exercises in the session is a factor that has become more and
more important to me as time goes on. The reason for this is there is
increased intensity as well as productivity in each session based on
the way your body sets itself up to play off the engorged muscles as
you get a pump.
Start your leg training with 6 sets
of leg extensions. Follow that with 6 sets of leg presses. Next do 6
sets of squats (remember to perform ascending sets in the leg presses
and squats). It is important, no it is IMPERATIVE that you use good
form and master the weight as you increase it. Adding weight is a
privilege, NOT A FUCKING GUESSING GAME. When you know what you are
capable of, and what you hope to achieve based on your data from
journal entries, then you make an increase that makes sense.
move to barbell lunges for 6 sets and for all of these, keep the reps
around 12-15, more if possible. The fact that reps are a priority does
not mean I want you to take the fucking day off. STAY ENGAGED. Commit
to this session… it is your lesson for today.
as you run to the bathroom and spill your shake in the bowl, come on
back to the weight room for some one-legged extensions, 20 reps each
leg in succession. Fuck yeah, it’s over… Ha ha ha. Only kidding. Now
it’s time to reach down deep and pull 12 good sets of hamstrings out of
Start with lying leg curls for 6 sets of 15
reps-, 3 sets with your feet close together on the pads and 3 sets with
your feet wide apart on the pads. Move to stiff-legged dead lifts and
be sure to thoroughly warm up and stretch your hams as you would all of
your other body parts. Another 6 sets are in order.
think to yourself… I just did 42 sets of legs. This is an
accomplishment you can carry with down the road and draw upon and use
to fuel your other sessions. Don’t attempt this workout if you ain’t
ready for WAR. I mean this with the utmost sincerity. Take these
sessions seriously and be strong because you will need it. Remember
there is no such thing as overtraining, only weak minds. Live strong.
Live free. Answer to no one.
|July 31: "The Vehicle"
man stands in the middle of the road. He strains to see if a vehicle is
approaching. The man knows he must move, but he is powerless. Legs are
stronger than pistons, his feet are planted like mighty oaks. This man
is neither crazy nor a fool though his position suggests otherwise. A
vehicle is coming, moderate in pace but solid as a freight train. The
man understands what the vehicle is and makes no attempt turn away...
His eyes are wide open. The vehicle is nearly upon him and will surely
leave nothing of him that will resemble what he once was. The lights of
the vehicle shine a beam that penetrates the man to his very core, yet
he feels a calm move across him like a cloud that hides the hot
You see the vehicle has been coming since the day he was born. The
twisting road that delivered the vehicle to the man gave his soul
weight and breadth, the road made the man what he was meant to be, and
the road would deliver the man the rest of the way to his destiny. I
believe the vehicle comes for us all. It is pointless to turn away from
your destiny or from who you are. There are challenges to be sure, days
on this earth that are fit for no man. Never forget that the road makes
the man. The road pounds your feet and blinds you with toil and
unending strife. Always remember, as I do, that the vehicle is coming
to deliver you from this world to the next. So it is imperative that
you move through this realm as a champion and a warrior to make certain
that your place is a place of honor.
|June 30: "Ashes in Your Mouth"
Pray with me now as you read these words. Perhaps we can move the
mountains together. Stay with me brothers, we have many miles to travel
yet. Long and hard is the path that out of Hell, leads up to light.
Listen carefully to the beat of your own heart, that sound can become a
thundering battle drum. As you stare straight down the highway of life,
use your senses. Don't look, but rather truly see the things around
you. Breathe deeply, take in the smell of things alive and things that
life had its way with. Feel the motion of all matter surrounding you;
your senses are your weapons system. We've discussed how to keep our
weapons systems functioning with zero defects.
way we live is very spiritual and based on one's intuitive responses to
the stimulus that is everywhere and part of everything. Part of my
daily systems check is to repeat the mantra “gimme blood, gimme pain”.
I know that sounds a little weird. To me blood and pain are the
byproducts of the tests that befall me as I walk the earth. Blood and
pain are no stranger to me than hair gel and yellow posing trunks are
to many so called athletes these days. Without struggle, there can be
no progress. Besides, blood and pain are coming your way sooner or
later. So you may as well look it in the eye, breathe it in and ask
that motherfucker for seconds, because that's how you stand up against
the rising of the tide.
Now pray with me in our little church of pain and be sure to give till
it hurts when the collection plate comes around. You owe to yourself,
you owe to those that came before us, and you fucking owe it to me
because that's what I demand of you. Fight hard and no matter what the
outcome you may walk with pride.
|May 31: "Twice As Hard"
as hard as I thought it would be… That's how difficult life has turned
out to be, at least up to this point anyway. I interact with the people
inside my little universe. I mantain some level of association with the
beast that is popular culture. I have come to embrace the sad mantra of
“The more I know, the less I understand." Many times I am confronted
with a feeling of frustration. Many times I am lost in this world of
commerce and compromise. There are days when I can shrug off anything.
There are other days when I feel more than the weight of a barbell
pressing down on me. Still, in all, I try to remind myself that I am
here for a purpose. The good days and the bad days wash over me in
waves. I hope the currents will take me someplace beyond the mess I see
everywhere I look. I hope there is a place in time, however small, that
will make sense.
Twice as hard as I ever imagined it could
be…. That's how hard my will has become. My will to survive the "close
quarters battle" that is life in our times. I try to defend my
territory with walls and anti-personnel mines. I set up a perimeter and
stand a constant watch so that there is no breech. My resolve is strong
to beat the demon that lives in me, to destroy the chains that hold me
down. I think about others that must feel the same way as I do. I
wonder if they feel the weight of iron that pushes down on them. I hope
they have the strength to defy those who doubt them. I hope we all
remain as strong and steadfast as these times demand of us.
We must be diligent in our efforts because something tells me it's
gonna be three times as hard to make it the rest of the way home...
|April 25: “24 Hour Living, Take Two”
second point: I have another full time career that is extremely
challenging as well as rewarding. The point I make here is that I think
most people can relate to me more realistically than some lazy ass,
primadonna, over-privileged, typical bodybuilder. In most peoples’
lives they are not afforded the luxury of being one dimensional… They
have children, careers, and long term goals for their development that
reach into areas other than bodybuilding. That doesn’t mean that I
don’t fucking bust chops every day to be a winner in this field. I
pride myself on discipline and personal strength and I don’t live under
other peoples’ limitations.
The point I’m trying to drive
home here is that no matter what your job is or how challenged your
growth is by the circumstances of your every day life, you can still
seize the day and capitalize on situations that would make most people
throw up their arms and walk away. If you can’t sleep, you can damn
sure eat. That is the weapon of the new breed of athlete, 24 hour
nutrition and forward thinking training principles based on time tested
|March 20: “24 Hour Living”
there not 24 hours in a day? If in fact we live in the 24 hour day,
then why don’t we schedule our lives and meals and work days
accordingly? I have lived the 24 hour day for many years now and I
think my productivity has been greatly increased because of it.
Franklin said, “Never let the sun rise to find you sleeping the day
away.” I agree. I rise at 3:30 am daily. My morning workout is my first
phase of the day. So to anyone listening and thinking, “What does this
mean?”, it means that while I don’t get 8 hours of sleep a night, I do
get to eat twice before 7:00 am. That is why I don’t mind living the 24
hour lifestyle, I can keep my muscles flushed with fresh nutrients and
ultimately I can grow bigger than most people living so-called normal
Many people make a case for the body of a
performance athlete needing 10 hours of sleep daily to function at
optimal levels. I don’t believe this theory because the fundamental
basis for all life as we have come to understand it is the theory of
adaptation. We adapt to every element that seeks to restrain our
development—it is the premise which nature is founded upon.
|February 25: “Thank You”
I was in the weight room at 4:15 am hammering my triceps to a bloody
pulp, set after set. I just didn't want to put the shit down… What a
fucking addict. There was complete silence--no television, no radio, no
bullshit conversations. I was by myself, the same way I started this
It's amazing how clear the recollections can be about moments like this
one. It comes back to me when I remember being injured; all the days I
had to stay away were so frustrating. I could smell it. I could hear
it. I could see it all so clearly in my mind. It's like that. You
become so focused, so mechanical, it's religious.
one day you look up and see the steam on the windows, the snow falling
outside, the whole world is at rest. Right now you are the only man
alive... You are a monster, a savior, a demon. This shit is so fucking
real. I looked up from a ton of weight and saw myself in a dirty
mirror… I can't believe how much I love this moment and the collection
of moments just like this one. I just looked up and said, “Thank you.”
why it always made me laugh seeing those shoe ads, “Just do it.” You
say to yourself, “I've been doing it, motherfucker.” I never needed a
shoe salesman to tell me how to get it done. Corporate encouragement
isn't what builds a warrior or an athlete. I've been knuckled up
against the grain for a while now. Ass in the bucket squats, dumbbells
bigger than most adult men, snorting fire like a fucking dragon. I do
it cuz it's not for sale, not because it's profitable, and it sure
won't make no fucking shoe ad.
That is where the value comes from, because there are so few things
left that aren't for sale. What I want to say is, remember to look up
once in while and be thankful for this opportunity, this time, and the
balls to live it like there is no tomorrow. We've been given a chance
to walk in a world apart from the others, but together our footsteps
are like thunder. Be steadfast.
|January 13: “Life Is Messy”
Human beings... At our most sublime, at our peak of mammalian
efficiency, we are a mess. In the words I've written for this project
called Animal, I've tried to convey my feelings that even though we are
a mess, it is irrelevant. I've had days when nothing feels right--I've
done close grip benches a million times, but today the weight won't sit
on me right. I can't lock into a groove--no matter what, it seems
impossible. Messy right? When that happens to me, I walk away for a
moment, and look back at the bar. I see myself pressing out reps at top
weight. I become upset... I become impatient... I become FUCKING
HOSTILE... Before you know it, I'm on the bench knocking out a personal
best. Messy is real, messy is good. It forces you to knuckle down a rep
at a time. That's why I laugh when I see people training without
sweating or without effort. They look like they are at a fucking clam
bake. To each his own I guess. I guess for me it's a mess from the time
I enter the gym until I leave there. I struggle to place my aggression
squarely on my enemies' heads, on mediocrity, on complacency, on
anything that threatens the mission. Life outside the gym is messy,
especially when you tear yourself apart everyday. Inside the gym is
better because you can pull up your sleeves and CLEAN UP THE FUCKING
|December 14: “Dumbbells and Bars”
lot of times we opt for newer and so-called better methods of training,
and in doing this we throw away slabs of muscle. I love to go into the
weight room and touch only dumbbells and bars--it's so swift and
direct. After a few feel sets, the groove is on you and the rest is
fucking gravy. You don't stand there saying, “I don't know why I'm not
feeling this.” The weight sits on you and lets you know you are in for
a ride. If you want to achieve a physique worthy of admiration then
heed the Doomsayer and hit the fucking steel. A few lesser known moves
I count on are listed below.
EZ- Curl Bar Shrugs
the innermost grip on these and use lifting straps. Your grip forces a
plane of movement that seems to reach the deepest insertion points and
torch the traps totally. Five sets of these will have you burning like
a prom queen in the boys locker room.
One Arm Rear Delt Raises
fact that you are using one arm at a time allows you to force the power
into one delt, instead of splitting your focus and strength. Grasp a
low post like the end of a dumbbell rack and bend at the waist. Perform
these the same as you would a traditional rear delt raise, only use the
post to steady yourself. As you reach for a full stretch, power the
dumbbell backward while squeezing your rear delt and focusing the
strain on the spot you wish. Additionally, you can reach across the
spot where the dumbbells would have hit each other if you were using a
pair, resulting in a greater range of motion.
and mind you, I do have more. But remember, you have to play this game
with a big bag of nuts in your pants. Now get the fuck to work.
|November 30: “Redefine”
REFUSE TO BE DEFINED. The most crucial piece of information about a
radical element is its refusal to be defined. You are a radical element
filled with power. True power cannot be defined or put in box. You
should be the same. Let no one corner you into a compromise or put you
in a bullshit category. True power transforms itself so that elements
around it race to conform to it. People and circumstances will
redefined themselves when confronted with radical power. Never let
circumstances dictate your
Actions. Search for a level of power that forces others to redefine who
they are. Then when they have you sewed up in a pocket, radically
redefine yourself. There is no right way. There is no wrong way. There
is only the path you choose to walk and you... Solidified in your
refusal to DEFINED by what you are or what you are not. Be RADICAL be
POWERFUL and rage through this world like a freight train off the
|October 31: “Rise Or Fall”
the kiddies to bed because it's big boy time. At times during my life I
noticed people making excuses for their shortcomings. Think about it,
every day we find ten reasons why we missed the mark. Be it training,
missed meals, blown diets, injuries, or things in other areas of our
lives. Maybe it's natural to seek a scapegoat rather than take personal
responsibility. After all, personal responsibility is so out of fashion
this season. We can do better… I know we can do better.
have always believed that when a person knows what is expected of them,
they should fall down dead before they fail to reach their objective.
So then, let's make that our primary goal. First, to know what we
expect of ourselves. Second, to put into action a plan to achieve the
things we desire. If we point the finger at ourselves, who would be
left to blame? There are some things in this life you have to figure
out on your own. No one is gonna come running to help you figure it
out. It's on you, sink or swim, rise or fall, win or lose, live or die…
On your own.
Whatever should befall you, resist the urge to make excuses. An excuse
is a lot like a complaint--it insults everyone around you and makes you
look silly and weak. Remember, tough times make tough men, and if you
can be tougher than the ground you walk on, you are tough enough to
beat a path into this earth for others to recognize and follow. That
would be a real accomplishment in this world of shrunken expectations
and lost dignity. Without struggle there can be no progress.
|September 30: “Full Circle”
There is a giant circle that we are all traveling through. The circle
is huge. It is too vast to even measure. As we walk along, we are faced
with adversity. We are also rewarded with accomplishments and glory. At
times, it seems the circle will never bend. We will never make a turn
to bring us closer to the truth. It is in those times that we are
twisted and bent, sometimes beyond our limitations... Many of us are
broken. Many of us fall down. Some don't get up. I have been bent and
twisted. I am covered with scars from falling down... I get tired from
the journey. I grow frustrated by the walls that pop up in front of me.
We are the same, molded from the fires of generations of people who
continued to have hope... People who always got up when they fell...
People who saw things through. They never lost faith in who they were.
The circle is unbroken. The changes, the challenges, the waiting, the
wanting, the defeat and the glory are all part of the circle that is
our life. The dream I have is that some day, maybe I will come full
circle. Maybe I will arrive at what I'm destined for. If I am that
lucky, and I pray I am, then it will have been worth every step along
the way. I hope the same for you and although you must have blind
faith, I think the path is more clear than it seems. So push on and do
the things you must so that you can fulfill your dreams. I will do the
|August 31: “Quads, Round One”
What is the best way to develop the outer sweep of the quad? That is a
question put to me at least once a day. The answer rarely changes and
is never exciting to anyone who hears it. Ready? Here it is... Squat,
squat, squat. Sounds simple, doesn't it? There is a problem though. Few
things are ever as easy as they seem to be... The theory as it is put
to you is sound and clear and appears easy on paper. Now give it some
thought because hard and long is the road that leads to the development
of great quads. I say what the fuck? What's easy anyway? It's not even
easy to get your ass out of bed in the morning, but we find a way to do
that, don't we? I propose we use this time together to speak of ways to
recruit maximum muscle fiber. I suggest that there is more than one way
to do just that. First, YOU must allow yourself time to decide if you
want to make this commitment. DON'T say "yes" in your mind. I know most
of you are not ready, but if you prepare for this battle mentally, then
the physical part will be academic. Trust me on this... It will take a
tremendous amount of effort and pain to form this foundation, and don't
expect miracles overnight. This is not the "wheels in a week" program
that some fitness shithead is selling on QVC. Think about it for a
while and if you're down, then you know where to come for round two.
|July 21: “Eaten Alive”
the articles I read in magazines and the websites I tour are all summed
up into cute little recipes, almost like a cookbook. Isn't that sweet?
So I got to thinking, why don't I put together my version of a
bodybuilding cookbook recipe? Right from the jump we need a big set of
balls. The next big ingredient is Individual Thought (be careful not to
use the no-frills brand). Also the recipe calls for a strong gut to
stomach the bullshit that will no doubt come our way. Now we need a
bucket of sweat and a 10 lb. heart. Wrap it all up with meat and bones
(the serving size may vary so cook according to occasion). Now we are
down to the cook time. A lifetime on 500 degrees, baste with courage
and enthusiasm. Most important, if your base of ingredients is not
pure, you will only serve up enough meat for a small meal… And I hate
small meals. So that's it. Happy eating as they say. Remember, the work
that goes into the meal is directly related to how it tastes. So take
precautions to avoid a giant shit sandwich.
|June 29: “Combined Efforts”
days go by… You look up and the month is gone. One month after another
the same way. That point is worth mentioning only to the extent that we
must manage our time effectively in order that we can make sure to
achieve our goals. With that in mind, some things you can do to
incorporate cardio into your training is to take an early A.M. session
of abs to the limit by choosing high rep sets with no more than 45
seconds of rest in between sets. Using extended sets and a little
creativity, you can burn your abs and pick up an added cardio session.
Try four sets of hanging leg raises, followed by four sets of inclined
crunches. Cap it off with pole twists in full rotation for three
hundred rep sets. This approach works for me in the way that I can
develop the muscles of my abdomen while reaching levels of exertion
that also serve to help me burn fat.
Another way to serve two masters is to train your calves while training
another body part. I would never use this approach while training,
let's say, legs because there is a demand on your oxygen and you must
fully recover in between sets to be at your best. Having said that,
chest training does not place a heavy demand on your oxygen and you
should be able to recover sufficiently as you are blazing your calves
with sets of seated raises inserted between chest work. This is a great
way to cut out time spent doing nothing and standing around conversing
with your buddies or scoping out the ladies. It is not always the case
that you have to toil for hours on one body part exclusively. Often we
must make use of our minds and create new ways to give our training a
lift. Also too often we are not maximizing time spent in the weight
room and we end up staying way too long. Remember, because you spend
four hours a day in the gym doesn't make you hardcore. Think about
quality instead of quantity.
|May 23: “Time”
is time worth? What time will we have left to chase the sun? Laugh at
you is all time will do. As I read the commentary on the passing of Don
Youngblood, I was struck in the gut by my own mortality. Now, it's
funny how we never think of our own mortality until someone in our
realm passes. What do you mean? That shit could happen to me? Oh yeah…
That very thing could happen to any of us at any time. The weird thing
is that this thought didn't make me shrink from my rough ideals and
hard-hitting mindset. It did just the opposite… The message in my head
was clear. We do not have unlimited days at our disposal, and so we
must hold them in even higher regard. The real tragedy is not the
passing of someone we love and appreciate, but wasting those precious
days that none of us are ever promised to begin with. Don't shrink from
the voice within you that cries out to compete and to fight. If you
don't win that is okay. Shit, it isn't even relevant. I hope what I'm
saying is understood, and not sloughed off like some old saying that
nobody really believes. A guy like Don Youngblood who basically
competed for the first time when he was about forty represented the
true spirit of a competitive being. He was never going to be the next
big buzz in the bodybuilding world, and I bet that was just fine with
him. He didn't follow a guru or travel with an entourage, and he didn't
speak about himself in the third person. The man set a goal. He
outlined a time frame for the results he desired, and he got busy.
Thank you Don Youngblood and all those like you for the example you
have shown me. I hope I can live in a way that does honor to your
|April 26: “Monday… Legs”
I start out with 15 minutes of bike and 15 minutes of light stretching.
extensions: 3 sets warm up, 5 sets all out, 20 reps each. Leg press:
The way I do these lately is something new for me but it is making my
legs look sick. I start out with 10 plates per side do 10 reps, add a
plate on each side and do 10 reps, add another and do 10 reps, and add
one more then do 10 reps. I do 4 sets of these fuckers. By then, I
don’t know whether to shit or go blind. And now it's time to squat… I
do free weight barbell squats: 5 sets ascending weight and usually tops
out at 405 for 20 reps. I try to keep my reps high for lower body
because the development is greater and also allows you to master the
move, and focus on the contraction instead of “a” to “b” lifting.
Lunges: I do these on the Smith machine to facilitate a strong smooth
motion and to reduce the amount of energy I have to waste on steadying
myself throughout the move. One legged extensions: 4 sets 20 reps to
flush in the freshly oxygenated blood. Stiff-legged deadlifts: 5 sets,
12-15 rep range (I perform these 4 seconds down and 2 seconds on the up
phase). Lying leg curls: 5 sets of 12 reps (slow and deliberately). No
calf work on this day (too much exertion on major parts).
|March 21: “The Train”
one block. That’s how far I lived from the subway. No fuckin problem.
Three stops to the spot where I held it down. People from the city know
what I mean. You count everything everywhere you go. One block, three
stops, forty-five steps up out of the stink, go to the corner and turn
right… There it is the spot where they know who you are. Count the
steps, the minutes, the reps, the days and nights. Add it all up and
then get on that fuckin train… Become that train and drive past the
doubters, the haters, and leave the cowards in the dust. I got on that
train every day. I sat there in between stockbrokers and street
hustlers and I seethed. I seethed with anger because I knew the weight
was there waiting for me. I heard the words as I walked by… Freak…
Disgusting. I didn’t care and I still don’t. I wanted to exude a
mentality of warfare and radical tactics because I knew these things
would help me arrive at my goals quicker. I used those tactics then. I
used them the first time I walked into Bev Francis’ Gold’s Gym. And I
use that mentality now. In my mind and my heart I'm still on that
train. If I'm in some gym in the middle of nowhere, in some airport,
some strange city, it doesn't matter to me cause I'm still on that
train and I will ride that bitch till the wheels fall off. There are
many questions along the way and some will be answered and some won't.
Rest assured I am not to be counted out. I have business to take care
of. So if you’re with me, the train pulls out now. If you’re not on
board stay, off the fuckin tracks.
|February 17: “Odd Man Out”
stairs creak as you put one foot after another down in front of you.
The faded grunts of exertion and the faint clang of bars and weight
stacks are growing louder as you approach. The time will soon be at
hand. The muscles underneath your skin shake as your mind fires the
warning impulse into it. The pace of your heart is quickening… Your
mind draws on the trauma of workouts in past days. That smell… There it
is. It rushes up your nostrils. I never quite knew how to describe it,
the sum of all the elements in the weight room rush into your senses.
Fear. Excitement. Pain. Defeat. Victory. It's all there for you to
breathe in. Walk through the doors. Don't sit… Don't catch up on
current events… Don't fall in love. Get ready for TOTAL WAR. Breathe in
everybody else's wasted energy. No, fuck that. Straight up take their
energy from them. That is what I do. I scan the weight room as my
energy fades, see the people standing around and doing nothing. See the
waste, see the energy in the air, that could be yours. Feel the surge
in your body as you prepare for war. There is no time to study, no time
to say sorry, no time for half measures and talk. The only thing left
to do is attack. He said, she said, they said… WHO GIVES A FUCK? Become
what you need to be. Become wrath. Become a slave to your power. Become
the master of demise, the DOOMSAYER.
|January 25: “Motivation”
up. Walk to the bathroom. Look in the mirror. What do you see? I see
another chance, another 24 hours to get it right, another chance to win
the day. So there you have it… 24 chances with every new day. What a
gift. Stop stalling. It never gets any easier. The weight never
magically gets lighter. Cardio never gets easier. Dieting never gets
fun and you will never be big enough. That's not the point. Those are
all good things. That's what makes membership to the club so special.
If it was easy, what would make it special? That's the reason you carry
yourself as a warrior, a champion. You have pride because "glory
belongs to the one who runs when there is no race". Your time is this
minute, this day, this week. So keep running even if there is no race.
THE CLOCK IS TICKING.
STAND UP NOW. ATTACK NOW. DESTROY NOW.
|December 13: “Two Things”
I continue down the road in my own journey, I feel I should pass on
some tips that might save you some heartache. First, always warm up the
connective tissue by doing at least 15 minutes on the bike. People jump
right to an exercise and in 2 sets they are at serious training weight.
They think this is hardcore, but what is hardcore about going to the
doctor's office because you developed an injury? Common sense will help
you stay in the game and stay hungry for gains as time goes on.
Training becomes drudgery when you are always hurt. Second, if you
train with ascending poundages in your routine, when you get to the top
set, perform another set at your top weight. This will further your
foundation and up your workload. This sometimes can break through a
training plateau. I perform a few calculated warm-ups and then I reach
a top set and perform 3 working maximum sets at a desired rep range.
This simple strategy will help you avoid common burn out syndrome. Good
luck and stay hungry.
|November 17: “The Fight”
people out there live life as though they had a million times up at the
plate. Sometimes they take swings without care and strike out. It's not
bad to strike out sometimes. There are battles fought and lost in every
war. But the fact remains we must fight as fiercely as we can. As we go
through life, we make choices. They can be clouded by emotions we can't
control. Sooner or later we must try to gain control. Choose whether or
not you want to be the windshield or the bug. At the crossroads decide
to turn your body into molten steel, formed into what you envision. The
destination is the journey, the pleasure is the pain. We don't hit any
home runs or score any touchdowns or three pointers. We battle our
minds and bodies to achieve the impossible. We stand alone in the
circle and lean on no one. We will be judged by our work over a period
of years, not one single act. I will not fail. I will live in a
warehouse of steel. I will not lie around waiting to win. More
importantly I will fight for the small daily victories that will make
me a champion. Will you?
|October 19: “Rotation & Placement Of Execises”
I put a flye exercise in the number one spot in my workout to stretch
and prime the pectorals. The importance of continued training
injury-free necessitates a way to use moderate to heavy workloads day
in and day out without ending up on the surgery table.
me the toughest son of a bitch known to man and as hardcore as he is,
sooner or later, he will compromise his growth. The ironic part is that
his strength will be his own undoing, should he fail to see farther
than six inches down the road. Look at some of the top guys who have
managed to stay around for a while… Cormier, Levrone, Taylor. These
guys have managed to train at an elite level for long periods of time.
The way I see it is as follows: moderate to heavy training along with a
high rep range. Even with proven mass builders such as dumbbell presses
(flat or inclined), my reps stay in the 12-15 range even at the
heaviest. I have learned different methods other than coming into the
weight room and lining up the same 5 exercises in a row all year long.
Don't blow your wood in 2 years. The way to stay consistent is to
remain uninjured and to spur new growth through alternate methods. This
is real hardcore. Take it from a guy who has had many injuries that
could have been prevented. I'm not saying to avoid exercises that are
uncomfortable. However attack your training from every angle, and you
will build a three dimensional body.
|September 21: “Frequency Of Training”
best we have 52 chances per year to train a particular body part… Less
if we space our training past 7 days rest per part. I suggest we train
each body part 1 time per week. Calves and abs 4 times weekly and, even
off season, 30 minutes of cardio 4 times weekly. My method is using
many sets and different exercises in a workout. Spend it all cause
you're not gonna touch it for a while. Then allow the body part time to
I've come upon this system through the need to train
a body part hard from angles and as you do this, you look up and
realize you've done 25 sets easily. Then I said to myself don't fight
it… Go with it. Ever since that day, my back has grown wider and
thicker than ever. That's why hard training and high volume tempered
with the proper rest is my method to my mayhem.
has taken a bad rap in the magazines and many people scapegoat their
injuries on high volume. The human body is made to overcome obstacles…
It's called evolution, natural selection. The strong survive as the
weak fall by the wayside and the way to strength is through training.
Training is sets and reps… So why are you sitting here reading? GO
|August 24: “Shoulders By The Pound”
It's shoulders on today's menu and that means at least 22 sets. People
will swear that's too many but when you think about it, there are three
"heads" or parts of the shoulder. The good part of this is that you
have the ability to prioritize a certain portion of the shoulders based
on what your needs are. I feel that two different presses are the best
for overall size and balance. I use Smith machines presses and dumbbell
presses for this job.
Seated laterals are extremely difficult, but add width. Cable side
laterals, one arm at a time, provide a great burn. Bent over rear
laterals not only thicken the rear deltoid but also help to tie-in your
back and traps. I've named five exercises, at least 4 sets each,
totaling 20 sets. I throw in two sets of barbell front raises and six
sets of barbell shrugs.
Now, it doesn't really matter if you're the strongest guy in the gym,
you're gonna be traumatized. We all walk to tough road and I hope you
find comfort knowing someone feels what you feel and has for a long
time. We don't have to score on every play. We don't have to win every
fight. But we must never let ourselves become defeated. People
underestimate us, they doubt us, they write us off and we say thank
you, that's the inspiration I needed. Everyday is a good day, so never
fucking surrender. Strength and honor.
|July 16: “Embrace Solitude”
is a struggle just to breathe because last night I did 28 sets for back
and wound the whole thing with deads to eye-straining weight. The day's
struggles turn into the evening's struggles trying to find a way to fit
in with the people around me. The end result is a feeling of total
solitude, a lot like the way I've felt all my life. The truth is, you
will never fit in with anyone because honor and pride are elements that
have been all but phased out of people's hearts... I guess all we can
do is push on through the hours of darkness and eventually morning will
come. The darkest night can sometimes give way to the most beautiful
morning. Hold true to the values that brought you this far. Strength
and honor will be our guide home... Until you can see the light of day,
walk into the weight room and do battle with yourself and everything
around you. Even during times of peace, we remain at war. The new
bodybuilder will be at 5000 RPMs when all others are resting. We
will become the new breed that will be a breed apart. Be proud of who
you are and embrace solitutde. It will put you on the path to total
focus. Fight hard brothers.
June 2: “Ten Things”
of absolute torture? Brothers, they are an irreplaceable rung in the
ladder. Here are some things that have helped me in pursuit of my goals
and helped me stay in line when I wanted to slip into madness. This is
what you must do before you can use all these fancy ass routines you
read about every month. This is exactly how I got through those days,
nights, weekends, holidays, injuries, and beautiful glorious agony.
Stay focused and don’t quit before it all unfolds.
1. Believe in one person: Yourself. Everything flows from that pool.
2. Don’t be afraid of pain. It will teach you.
3. Define your surroundings; don’t let them define you.
4. Don’t be a fucking pussy. Life hurts. So does loneliness, and so does change. But they are all necessary to your growth.
5. Don’t add extra fat to your diet for calories.
6. Make things happen. Don’t wait for them.
7. Lift for gains, not glory. Control your ego and the weight.
8. Don’t count protein grams from nuts or grains.
9. Quitting is a habit, as is winning and losing. The second two happen
to everyone. The first one should never happen to anyone.
10. Lead by example. Never become someone you aren’t proud of.
|April 5: “Doubt”
wonder if today is the day… Will the quad go again? I stepped to the
rack, ready for whatever situation came down the road. I felt my left
quad quiver as I set the bar up on my back… The weight sat on me like a
brick shithouse. The spaces in my spine closed up and began to tighten.
I said to myself, "If it goes, it goes, cuz it ain't getting fucking
lighter thinking about it." Set ‘em up and knock ‘em down, all day
long. This is the fucking war I wage. Pull up a chair if you got the
stomach for it. Strength and honor.
|February 16: “War & Peace”
when we are at peace, we are at war. The essence of competition lies in
our own ability to challenge ourselves and rise to a level of increased
stress. To function under stress or strain, to wage war in any sense of
the word, is necessary for one to achieve their potential. When times
of low energy or diminishing interest arise, smash your mind back into
the groove. Only when I am in the midst of pounding reps with weight do
I feel myself slipping into total focus. Every set and rep becomes like
passing a knife across a sharpening stone, until my blade is razor
sharp. I look forward to that feeling in every session; you can feel
yourself crushing the barriers in your way. Tap in to the power, but
you need have gas money if you’re going to ride. Nothing for nothing.
The choice is yours. Take the steps to prepare for war, even at times
of peace. When I step outside to go to the gym, the sky is blue. The
sun is out and people are happy. For me, the sky is black. It’s raining
blood. I see bullets and bombs all around me. There is no shelter here.
There will be no shelter until my destiny is fulfilled. I go to the
weight room and throw steel. Strength and honor.
|January 26: “The Value of Flyes”
many times trainers overlook flyes in favor of pressing moves. Flyes,
when done correctly, can open up the chest muscles with an incredible
stretch. The muscle fiber recruitment is incredible. When you lie back
with the dumbbells, set your shoulders back, try to pinch your shoulder
blades together. Elevate your chest and ribcage and push your
hips down into the bench. Be aware that you must use your supporting
muscles to control the path and range of the weight. From the start of
the rep, bend your elbows 1 or 2 degrees, and then allow the weight to
descend slowly down and outward. Don't loosen your shoulder girdle;
stay tight throughout your upper body. Stretch down until full
anatomical restriction but stay in control. Pull the weight back to the
home position, from the middle of your sternum, where your pecs attach.
You must pull from the middle of your chest to keep the weight where it
should be. As you reach the top of your rep bring the weight out over
your face and flex your pecs. I'm not saying don't press. I'm saying
press then stretch, press then stretch and on and on.
|December 12: “Nutrition Is Your Secret Weapon”
that makes sense is the single most important weapon in your
bodybuilding arsenal. You need to find out the caloric values of all
the foods you eat every day. Then come up with a comprehensive strategy
detailing what you expect to happen as you consume those calories over
the next few months. That’s right, it will take months to get there.
Not days, Not weeks. There is no quick fix, no simple answers.
is an area for me that doesn’t allow for any bad days or mistakes. As
you will come to find out, if you have the balls to stay in this game,
the hallmark of a consistently tough competitor is his ability to
withstand the boredom of eating the same shit every day for most of
your life. After all, one of the few things you have total control over
is how you eat. It sure as hell isn’t contest placings. You can only
control what you can control.
How does it go? The strength
to change the things I can, the faith to cope with the things I cannot
change, and the wisdom to know the difference. I’m not saying my way is
the absolute only way... all I’m saying is that it’s the only way for
me. I hope you can take some of the info I put out there and use it to
make some of your goals and hopes a reality. You already have
everything you need to blow the roof offa this game. Just don’t buy
into the bullshit. Strength and honor.
|October 24: “Raising The Competitve Bar”
Too many times, I have seen bodybuilders win major shows despite missing one
or more body parts. This is something that should never be allowed. I'm
thinking that the judges are forced to choose a winner based on what they
are looking at that day and not what they should be looking at on any given
day. The best man wins. It's our job to train all of our body parts with
balance and vigor. Maybe then, the judges will have what they need to
consider complete bodies instead of slapped together, rush jobs.
example, you might see trainers routinely doing 12-18 sets of quads and only
2-3 sets of hams and other supporting muscle groups. The reason for this is
mainly that training the back of the thighs is much more strenuous and
painful, especially after bashing your quads with some serious fucking sets.
Me, I hit my hams with 5 sets of stiff-leg deads, glutes with 3 sets of
barbell lunges, spinal erectors with 4 sets of rack pulls, and calves with 4
sets of standing raises. My philosophy is train thoroughly and completely.
If you do, we can all raise the competitive bar and carry the sport the way
it was mean to be. Strength and honor.
September 26: “The Bodybuilding Legacy”
One day Bob Dylan went to an electric guitar and many of his fans
booed him off the stage. A decade later there was already talk of him
entering the rock 'n roll Hall of Fame. The point here is simple:
popularity and the status quo are the enemy of innovation and
imagination. Do things in life according to the way you might be spoken
about 25 years after you've passed, not according to the way people
speak about you now. The more accurate and realistic way to judge a
man's power is by who hates him, not who loves him.
it comes to bodybuilding, a lot of people say that athletes are cut
from the same "cookie cutter " mold, and to a certain extent, they are
correct. Instead of doing things a little differently and trying to
innovate and take the sport somewhere new, we often merely take the
industry pulse or swallow the spoon-fed propaganda of the
self-appointed gurus. There is a whole world of ideas in every small,
shitty gym out there. Every small town has a kid who’s made peace with
pain and sacrifice, and traded daily comfort for an inch here and a rep
there. We are there. We pound our fucking heads in every single day for
those inches and reps.
Yes, we overtrain. No, we don't
stop when it hurts… We don't lie around in our beds when we get the
sniffles. When I got a fever running 103, people aren’t gonna ask,
“Where's Andrew?” Where do you think? The fucking weight room, right
the fuck where I belong. I'm in there with John Grimek, Steve Reeves,
Reg Park, Ed Coan, Dorian Yates, and Mike Mentzer... Everywhere I go, I
take these warriors with me. They’re a part of me. I thank the men who
came before us and I say, "Brothers, you were right." That is the
legacy I take with me when I go to the weight room. People look at me
and say this shit is unreal. I say I'm just getting started. Come with
me if you got the balls. Strength and honor.
|August 31: “Gaining Weight”
When I was first decided to gain weight, I bought a college textbook on
nutrition and studied it for weeks. That book contained the calorie,
protein, fat, carb, vitamin, and mineral breakdown of almost every food
and food product in existence. I then added the kinds of foods to my
diet that I thought would produce a gain in weight. I stayed away from
the high glycemic carbs and took in a lot of natural fats and proteins.
My first gainer's diet looked something like this: 40% protein, 30%
carbs, and 30% fats. As I went along, I noticed that I was rapidly
gaining weight. I kept it going as far as I could take it and I topped
out at 339 pounds. Yeah, I also gained a lot of useless fat, but I
think this process was vital to making me the athlete I am today. That
added weight allowed for extra leverage and incredible strength gains.
It also helped forge a base of thickness that you don't see very often.
Today, my caloric intake is different in some ways because the demands
on my body are different. I consume an average of 650 grams of protein
daily. My carbs are staggered to prevent my body from becoming
stagnant: 400/300/200/200/500/400/300. That is what I mean by
staggered. For my body, carbs are the problem. I cannot consume high
carbs, high fats, and high overall calories at the same time, so I go
extremely high protein, staggered carbs (except when dieting for a
show), and moderately low fats (meaning only those occurring naturally
in the foods I eat). I consume no outside sources of fat. However I do
eat a lot of eggs and beef, so that helps me get my calories in the
range I need to support my body mass.
I don't get my caloric requirements from off a chart. I already know
the foods that I respond well to, and the ones I don't respond well to.
This comes from years of trial and error and constant monitoring. This
is work. The reality is, I did some extreme things from a dietary
standpoint to propel me to the size I desired. Obviously, there is a
slower way to do it, but I am happy with the way it turned out for
me... I gained 100 pounds in one year. That ain't too shabby.
think the best way to gain weight is to establish a baseline for your
calorie needs and be specific down to the individual calorie. It's
important to keep a diet journal and monitor your progress daily,
weekly, monthly, and yearly. If you see that you are not gaining, then
add good calories (not fucking Burger King) and watch what happens. The
key is to do things in increments, slowly. I can’t tell you how many
times I've seen people start with the intention of becoming a monster
and end up becoming a fat pig.
If you don't gain muscular
weight the correct way, under a controlled system, the only contest you
will win is a fucking pie eating contest. You can take that to the
bank. You can find a good food value register in any bookstore and you
need to look at the label on whatever foods you are eating. Again this
is work. It’s obviously a different kind of work than lifting a
barbell, but bodybuilding is about all kinds of different work. And,
like I always say, if it doesn't make sense to you, then don't do it.
Strength and honor.
|July 30: “Isolation Exercises”
statement will be highly disputed, argued over and debated widely, but
who gives a shit what civilians think anyway. There's a war going on
out there, and the soldiers are in the trenches. Everything is an
isolation exercise, from squats and bench presses to deadlifts and
military presses. The term “isolation” seems to have become
misrepresented as of late.
I don’t know about you, but
when I squat, I focus on the area of the quads that I most want to
create growth and development in. Or when I deadlift I don’t focus on
moving the weight from point A to point B. In fact, it's just the
opposite: I focus directly on the zone from below the traps, all the
way down to my ass. I try to use the weight to pull that entire complex
of muscles right off the bone.
Same with the bench press. When I do them, I know I'm not creating new
growth and development in my calves. I am, in fact, isolating my entire
chest, through the elongation and explosive contraction used in my rep
style. I never accepted the standard way people did things as gospel. I
always felt I could find a better way. Many trainers believe the edicts
that have come to be accepted as law and they rest on this and do not
force themselves to search and forge out new ways to become massive.
Follow this creed, my creed: improvise, adapt, and overcome. Never
allow your mind to become disconnected from the pursuit of size. Joe
Blow over there does x, y, z, so I guess I should to. This truly is a
case of the blind leading the blind. If you want to be a leader and not
a follower, you must have the balls to stand on your own two feet and
find a way to overcome every single day.
a day will go by when shit’ll pop up to de-rail your progress. Trust me
on this one. Defeat can creep up on you if you let it. It begins when
you lose the fire and start going through the motions… when you take
another guy’s word as the truth and stop questioning… when you allow
pain or laziness to pull your mind down.
Walk your own
path. Remove yourself from people who want to pull you down to their
level. Believe me, I know it's hard, but at the end of the day, who
else can you really depend on but yourself? I was born alone. I'll die
alone. So I damn better be able to figure this shit out alone. If I
don’t, I’ll be just another bug on the windshield.
one do you want to be? The windshield or the bug? The boxer or the bag?
The pavement or the fucking steamroller? Yeah, I know what I am, and
I’ve found out through the battles I fought… many wins, some losses,
but always bloody. The bottom line is, we all fall down. But if you
train with me, you better get the fuck up and push the weight back or
you won't deserve any respect and you won't get mine.
is why I chose to write about isolation… because everything we do is in
isolation. When we do the exercises. When we train in the weight room.
And when we’re out there in the world. Anyone who fools himself into
believing otherwise is just pissing in the wind...
|June 29: "Herd Mentality"
Every time some young kid comes up to me with a question, I am
reminded of when I first started training. Yeah, I read the magazines
and tried hard to differentiate between the real info and the bullshit.
I was young and didn't know shit from shinola. I remember reading some
stuff from the so-called "big boys" of the sport. I can't fully explain
my frustration with their attitudes. When they wrote, their
condescending tone was enough to make me want to fuckin' smash
These guys acted like if you couldn't spend 40 hours in the gym each
week, get 10 hours of sleep every night (plus a 3 hour nap in the
daytime), then you would never amount to anything. The question I had,
as many of you probably do, is how do I work? Who pays for all this
shit? How do I possibly support the lifestyle of a lazy bum, as they
described? The conclusion I soon came to was as follows: You fuckin'
don't. You don't get to float around acting like a pro when you're not.
You don't have to sleep 100 hours a week and take daytime naps and not
work and forget about your family.
What you do have to do is start taking your workouts seriously and
set serious goals for the immediate as well as the long term future.
You also have to do something most people can't do: Think for yourself.
Don't be led by one-hit, flash-in-the-pan superstars. In this sport,
most bodybuilders are a legend in their own minds. Divorce yourself
from the idea that there is an easy way to step into this arena. 99% of
this life is what you make of it, so if your life sucks, you suck...
Resist the temptation to quit or make excuses and don't stand on the
shoulders of others to shape your image or your body.
point is simply this: If you want something so bad that you would sell
your soul, then there isn't one thing that will stop you... Never
believe that the circumstances of your life dictate that you can't
become a huge, rampaging, fucking beast. Instead, use the situation
you're in to motivate yourself to become an Animal. Train like someone
is gonna' kill your family if you fail. Remember, all we have is what
we do in this life... if you're doing nothing, then you're just waiting
to die. See you in the arena, fellow warrior.
|May 31: "My Letter To You"
To whom it may concern,
I am here to chew bubble gum and kick some ass, and I'm all outta'
bubble gum. Be advised, there is an upcoming assault scheduled for
2003. I am coming to the stage to show what 40 hours a week in the gym,
and a whole lotta attitude can do. I am not coming to be political. I
am not coming to make friends. I am coming to show the world that you
can come from nothing, but if you work, struggle, bleed, bite, kick and
scratch for every fucking inch, then you can take what you've
accomplished and dominate the competition. One man can make all the
difference in the world if he is properly motivated. One thing I will
say right here and now is that I won't be discouraged. I don't care how
many times I have to go back... I will eventually leave with the
trophy. These are not threats and predictions. I have the balls and the
determination to destroy anyone or anything that gets in my way... I am
the hard line that separates determination from insanity. Thanks to
Universal for the ongoing support and thanx extra big to all the hard
heads out there who beat the shit out of themselves every day chasing a
dream. You are what bodybuilding is really about. I'm proud of being an
Animal and I won't stop until I make my mark on this sport. Pity the
man who gets in my way.
|April 23: "Overcome"
I get a lot of questions about my tattoo, "Overcome". It started out
as a tribute to a fallen friend. Later, down the road, it became a part
of what people thought of when they thought of me. People associated
the tattoo with my attitude: If I have to go around it, over it or just
right fucking through it, I'll get to where I'm going. The main thing
they realized was that when I'm set to go off, they had better be some
place else. When they saw me eat or train, they began to think of me as
a man-machine. That's how I got this nickname, "Machine". It's because
that's the only way they could describe what they saw. "Damn, this kid
is a fucking machine," they'd say. They are right.
I am living proof that one motivated individual can become whatever
he sees himself to be. You can become huge if you find a way to
transcend limits. Limits are what people all around you try to place on
you throughout your life. Limits is what makes people mediocre. The key
is not to allow them to weaken you by infecting you with their loser's
attitude. Spend 99% of your time ripping yourself apart to get better,
and the other 1% of your time punishing yourself because you should be
further along. My advice: Becoming your own worst enemy is the only way
to know greatness. This is how you overcome.
|March 10: “Mediocrity"
If you don't have a mental attitude that's as sound as your
training, then you might as well stay home and eat doughnuts. You want
to know about sacrifice? How about training six days a week no matter
what? How about telling that drop-dead gorgeous girl of yours you can't
skip training to take her out to dinner? How about sticking to a diet
plan? Other than fruit and oatmeal, I haven't eaten carbs in 3 years...
no pasta, no rice, no potatoes, nothing. You think you can run with me?
Maybe you should just tell yourself, "Hell, what's one time. I'll do
shoulders tomorrow." And that's when it hits you. This is the turning
point. You've just taken you first step on the road to nowhere, to that
overpopulated town called Mediocrity. You know, the one filled with
lardasses, posers, washed-up has-beens... the guys who could have been
something but ended up as fat slobs. That where you want to be?
Listen, don't make it easy for your competition. Don't give them
excuses to beat you in the gym or on stage. Don't coast and take the
straight road. Take the high road, the hard road. Do what the other guy
won't do. Commit yourself to the real fight. That fight is in your
head. That fight is where most guys run screaming. Nobody rides for
free. The price is high, but once you decide you want to pay, the road
will be clear as day.
|February 4: "Commitment"
Too many people think that going to the gym and spending hours there
means you're hardcore. Having seen and done some of most absolutely
ball-busting hardcore routines, let me tell you, this is not the case.
Occupying space for an extended period of time so you can convince
yourself that your paying your dues doesn't mean you are paying the
piper. You're just taking up space. The number one reason people lose a
battle is that they're not 100% committed to the fight. When I step
into the weight room, I know what I'm in for. I know it's time to call
in the dogs and piss on the fire cause it's gonna be a long day.
One time I was training with someone and he asked
if his brother could come along. Right away I knew I wasn't liking his
attitude when he asked me how long the routine would take. I pulled him
close to me and said, "Go home and have your mama change your huggies,
boy. Do whatever you want, but don't ever ask to train with me again."
I told him the routine will take as long as it takes for us to puke.
It'll be over when we achieve the desired effect. In short, when he
doesn't have the energy or breath to say something so fucking stupid
again. I advised him to go find some other interests cause this wasn't
no damn rest home. When you step into this weight room with me, you'd
better have your shit wired tight, and your priorities in order.
By the time I was finished with him I had him so fuckin crazed, he
tried to throw every single weight through the roof. He thanked me and
to this day he still does. The point is that the plan that you design
for your body takes however long you systematically determine it to,
not one fuckin second longer or shorter. I can't stress to you enough
that you can't afford to waste time. Sometimes I see people come to the
gym, linger, train a little, hang out, train some more... In the
meantime, I've already shown up, ate once, trained, and ate again all
the while they've accomplished nothing, except maybe trying to win a
fucking bullshit contest. Just take my advice, in for a penny, in for a
pound. Take care of the business, or the business will take care of you.
|November 29: "Honor In The Struggle"
Everyone has a vision of what his life should be. It never works
out. What you got to do is focus on one thing and make that one thing
your life. Make no excuses. Rip yourself apart every single fucking day
trying to get it right. Do that and at least you'll be able to look at
yourself in the mirror as a man. Maybe I won't win the Olympia, but
know there's honor in the struggle. When it comes to the struggle, you
can't take any prisoners. You got to fight harder than that guy on the
other side of the line. You got to train like you got a gun to your
Nothing in life worth having comes easy. When the bombs fly and the
roof falls down around you, all you can do is hope that your foundation
is strong enough to withstand the pressure. All you can pray for is
that all your hard work will pay off. That you weren't lazy and didn't
overlook something that might have helped you prepare for the battle.
All things in life have a purpose and a reason for happening. User
every second, every fiber in your body, every last breath to make
things happen. Everyone fears death. But I say this: Live proud and
fight as hard as you can. If you do, you'll live beyond your time on
|August 8: "Protecting An Investment"
If you're serious about bodybuilding, then you have to understand
that time is an investment. Training, eating, and dieting requires a
lot of time. If you're like me and you can't stand wasting time, then
you'll do whatever it takes to protect your investment. Now, how do you
get your investment to grow? You've got to drill this into your head:
Every single thing counts when you're trying to achieve something
special, something only a few people can ever hope to achieve.
For me, it starts and ends with nutrition. In my world, there are
two kinds of people. The ones who can metabolize a shitload of calories
and those who can't. Depending on the show prep, the latter need
anywhere from 5000 - 9500 calories daily. Most of the time, my calories
are very high. They need to be. Calories help me recover from my
workouts, most of which are 20-30 sets long. Nutrition is the only tool
that can compensate for the abuse I put my body through.
To protect your investment, you need to watch what you eat and how
much you eat. I weigh my food every single day. Missed meals aren't an
option. As far as I'm concerned, you're better off missing a workout
than missing a meal. Sound tough? Yeah, so it is. Before you think
about getting into it, ask yourself this: "Am I committed? Will I do
what it takes to protect my investment?" If you're not in 100%, get the
fuck out now. There ain't no room for half-stepping.
Bodybuilding is war. Once you start, you can't back out and say you're
sorry. When you enter a war, you plan for invasion. Every piece of the
puzzle has a place. You have to assume tactical command and take
responsibility for your theater of operations. The competitive life you
save may be your own.
Ever wonder why other athletes
are passing you by? Maybe it's because you're at a nightclub, shaking
your ass to the early hours of the morning. These are the same guys who
attack my style of training. These fat fucks whine about how you can
only do so many sets for this, and so many for that. As if they know.
What divine power came to them and told them all of those secrets? I
know when I'm done, if I'm not standing on top, it wasn't out of
There is no accident. No shortcut. No easy way out. There's only one
thing you can't bottle or stick in your ass. It's a work ethic. Blood,
guts and hard work are my main tools. Rage and anger is what fuels my
intensity. Muhammad Ali once said there is no shame in going down. The
only shame is if you don't get back up.
|August 1: "Bodybuilding Is My Job"
Everywhere I go, people ask me about bodybuilding. They want to
know, "Is bodybuilding a real job?" or "How much money can you make
doing that?" When I hear this, a bell goes off inside my head. From
somewhere deep inside, my anger begins to rise up. As I sit there and
seethe, I wonder who the hell are they to ask me that? Who are they to
judge what I do? Every time this rage comes over me, I tell myself to
deal with it. After all, once you win, no one can take that away from
You can't touch my level of sacrifice. Why? Because I don't care
what happens to me. I don't care if I die, as long as they bury me in a
big fucking box. Every comment, every question, every remark I turn
into pure aggression. More fuel for the fire. Extra horsepower. So when
it comes to training, I see every single workout, every lift as a
stepping stone in my career.
I remember when I first started lifting. I knew I wasn't the biggest
guy or the strongest. What I did know is that I could outwork anyone in
the joint with 100% anger. Then I started to grow. 245. 275. 305. 320.
335. I told myself, "Now is the time. You have nothing to lose." I
wanted to win. Right now. I remember being in the middle of my workout,
thinking I was screaming these things inside my head. Instead, everyone
was staring at me.
father once told me that life goes by in the blink of an eye. Don't
wait to ask permission for what you want. Everything is about respect.
Making a mark. Millions of reps, constant pain, constant dieting. Why?
It all comes down to respect. Separating yourself from the pack. Like
that time in the gym when I was buried under a mountain of plates,
screaming "I want my fucking respect!"
Lead, follow or
get the hell to of the way. I don't have time for doubts or regrets. I
don't want a friend or a priest. I just want to be good at my job. I
don't have time to explain myself to anyone who doesn't understand
where I'm coming from. I'm the one busy on set 40 of legs in a hot
weight room that's about to close. I'm the one with a bunch of people
standing around, wondering how I can make miracles happen everyday. For
all the doubters who said it couldn't be done, I hope you can see my
middle finger from the stage when I'm posing at 265 ripped to the bone,
with a chip on both shoulders.
What matters in life is what you do. Not how much shit you can talk.
Anytime you want to see me at work, look me up in the weight room and I
will show you the meaning of pain and transcending limits. You want to
beat me, don't miss a meal, because I won't. Don't quit on a set
because I'll always be one set ahead of you. Don't walk out of my gym
without leaving your guts spilled on the floor because you can bet your
ass, I won't.
|July 6: "Observations"
People on the street look at me like I just stepped off the
mothership. They think I'm a freak. Just because I'm a 300-pound
bodybuilder, they think I'm a vain, roid-raging maniac who just wants
to stare at himself all day long. They just don't get it.
When I started out, life was tough. I worked construction during the
day but made time to train heavy at night. No matter how tired I was,
no matter how hard I trained, I always told myself it was never enough.
I never believed in my own hype. When it comes to bodybuilding at this
level, there are always more sacrifices to make. You always have to
give more. You give up everything, your social life, a normal schedule.
I mean, it takes me more than two hours every day just to prepare my
Close your eyes and imagine you're all alone on a deserted island.
There's no hope of rescue, of ever seeing another person again in your
life. In the middle of that island is a squat rack and a pile of
plates. Down the beach, there's fruit, water, warm sand and an easy
life. What do you do? If, in this dream, you choose a ball-busting quad
workout, then you have an idea what hardcore is all about. On the other
hand, if you tell yourself, "What's the point? No one will see my quads
anyway," then walk away. You just missed the point. Looking good for
appearances or for competitions is one thing, but great bodybuilding is
more than that. It has to be more than that, or you just don't get it.
When I see that squat rack, I move the weight because it's daring me
to. The weight is saying, "You can't defeat me." Maybe you can lift it
today, maybe you can't. But there is truth in the pain, honor in the
Every workout has a story behind it. I can tell you about doing 200
pound dumbbell presses for reps. Or squats of 315 for sets and throwing
up afterwards. One time, I was doing decline presses out of a power
cage. When I went to rack the weight, my index finger got cut and I
practically cut if off. I remember not being able to stop the bleeding,
so I cut up my shirt, wrapped my hand, and did 20 more sets. The guys
in the gym told me to get my finger stitched up, but I also had to do
calves that day. So I did calves.
There's going to be plenty of hard times when you train with this
kind of intensity. When you get hurt, you lick your wounds after the
battle. When I cut my finger, I remember working through the pain and
thinking, "What if someone on stage has better calves than me?" And
maybe it was because I missed this training session. Thoughts like this
keep me going. I've been through worse, like the time I tore my quad
muscle from the bone. Win, lose, or draw, I'll find a way to keep
going. This is what intensity is all about.
Bodybuilding is an individual sport. I do everything myself, with
little help from anyone. Not that I don't need it, but I have a hard
time asking for it. Asking for help means I can't do it on my own.
Training To Failure
Training to failure means giving it everything you got, lifting until I can't possibly do any more reps on my own. No spots.
Some people like to rely on "gurus," or so-called experts. Others
want a group of wannabes following their every step, patting them on
the back with every big lift. If you train for a pat on the back, then
join the Boy Scouts. But stay out of my weight room.
I don't like people standing over me when I train. A spot is a false
sense of strength. Either you lift the weight, or you don't. To me,
lifting is like a test. You can't stand behind someone taking a test
and feed him all the answers. You've got to take the test yourself.
It's about putting the effort and work behind everything you do, and
not taking the easy way out.
Old School Bodybuilding
I learned old school methods from old-time bodybuilders. Old school
means you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. It means enjoying
the feeling of lying under bone-crushing poundages. Most people can't
wait to put the weights down. Old time bodybuilders live for it.
I come from a family of large people. When I graduated high school,
I weighed 202 pounds without lifting a day in my life. I got big
because I also ate big. Two gallons of whole milk every day, along with
at least three pounds of beef.
|Strength and Honor,