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Freakshow 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.
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 American nation.

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

Now, 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
I’ve 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.

We move 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
Around 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
The 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.

One’s 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.

1. Repetitions 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 strength gains.

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.

3. Supplementation 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 relevant.

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
I 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
I 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 torturous strain?
May 2: Captive Honor, Pt. 2
How 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.

To 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 world.
April 21: Captive Honor, Pt. I
The 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
A 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
My 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.

So, 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 same thing.
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 days.

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 sign posts.

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.

I 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

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 very own.

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 upon.

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.

I 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.

But 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.

Big 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”

If 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 be considered.

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?

The 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.

Let’s 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 grain...
April 15: “Rich Man
You 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
After 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
If 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 perceive injuries….

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.

Due 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
The 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.

Anyone 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.

I 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 upright attitude...
December 16: “Depth Charge”, Part II

Slowly 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


It 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.

I 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 bullshit.

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 either…
October 27: “If I Could Sing”

Everybody 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.”

It 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.

That 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 raw strength.

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 passing.

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
Once 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 stance.

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.

If 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
It 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.

Over 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.

I 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 dare complain.
• 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 you.
• Fighting against the status quo means shouldering the responsibility that comes along with the strength and power you have been given.
• 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.
• Even 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
Everyone 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 laziness.

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 competitive sports.
May 8: "Waiting For The Fear", Part II

The 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

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"

Last 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. 

Before 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
• Chins
• Barbell Rows
• Deadlifts

This 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. 

Anyone 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. 

I 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.  

On 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

Without 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. 

To 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, cold world.

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 in.  
November 11: Comes The Executioner

Freud 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..."

In 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. 

All 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. 

I 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. 

Here 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.

Remember the 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? 

What 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"

"Rolling 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."

Consider 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. 

During 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 routine. 

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"

If 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 taken. 

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. 

A 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 years. 
July 16: "You Can't Do It"

To 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. 

I 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?"

It's 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 compassionate. 

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 honor.

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?

I 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 change.

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?

If 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"    
 
If 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. 

The 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. 

This 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? 

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. 

In 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. 

It wouldn’t 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."
 
A 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." 

Have I 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. 

What 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? 

If 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..."
 
In 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”

You 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 breed apart. 

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. 

I 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 fucking hilarious. 

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"

It’s 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 pursuits.

With 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. 

You 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.

Make 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

It’s 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. 

Why 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 IT DONE.
September 26: "Sorry?"

Individualism 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. 

This disturbs 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 motherfucker. 

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. 

To 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.  

So, 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. 

I remember 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"

The 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. 

I 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. 

I 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. 

Three 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 commitment.
June 28: "Self Help 101"

Self Help 101 

The 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 understand. 

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 yourself. 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. 

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.

Spend 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"

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
at 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 
to 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. 

I 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. 

So 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 much. 

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. 

It seems 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. 

You are 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. 

The 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. 

I hope 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.

Losing 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 world.

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" 
Incorporate 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 as possible. 

You will not be able to use the amount of weight you normally do. Do not let that concern you.
Next 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.

This 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 your imagination.
1/11/07: "Nameless, Take One"

To 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. 

My 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. 

Answers 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"

We 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”

Shotguns 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…

Monday: Arms
Tuesday: Legs
Wednesday: Chest
Thursday: Back
Friday: Shoulders

Your new program is as follows…

Monday: Legs
Tuesday: Chest & Arms
Wednesday: Back
Thursday: Shoulders & Arms
Friday: Legs
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

Monday 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. 

My leg day one is as follows: Barbell back squats, barbell front squats, barbell lunges, weight-assisted sissy squats, stiff leg deads, dumbbell leg curls. 

Leg day two is: Leg extensions, leg presses, hack squats, stiff-leg deads, lying leg curls.

Something 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. 

I 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"

I've 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”

The 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. 

Next 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 soon 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 your ass. 

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. 

Now 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"

A 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 sun. 

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.

The 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"

Twice 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”

My 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 practices.
March 20: “24 Hour Living”

Are 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.

Ben 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 lives.

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”

Today 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 thing.
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.
Then 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.”
That's 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 MESS...
December 14: “Dumbbells and Bars”

A 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
Use 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
The 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.

Try these 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 tracks.
October 31: “Rise Or Fall”

Put 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.

I 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 same.
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”

Sometimes 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”

The 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”

What 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 memory.
April 26: “Monday… Legs”

I start out with 15 minutes of bike and 15 minutes of light stretching.
Leg 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”

Just 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”
The 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”
Wake 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”
As 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”
Many 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”
Sometimes 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.

Show 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”

At 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 rest.

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.

High volume 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 TRAIN. Now.
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”

Today 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”

Sessions 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”

I 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”

Even 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”

Too 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”

Nutrition 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.

Nutrition 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.

For 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.

When 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.

I 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”

This 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.

Not 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.

Which 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.

That 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 something.

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.

My 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 head.

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 this earth.
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 laziness.

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.

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.

My 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"

Normal People
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.

Commitment
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 meals.

True Bodybuilding
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 struggle.

Pain
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.

Intensity
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.

Teamwork
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.

Wannabes
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.

Spotters
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.

Eating Big
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,
Machine


 

 

 

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