Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Opening Your Own Pandora’s Box


What are you really afraid of? Are you scared of finding your true potential, something holding you back or do you have something to hide and you don’t know how to come out of your shell? Many people have some of these and some have all of them but in the end it’s all about what you want out of it. Your true potential is within yourself and whatever influence got you to open up it gets you into a world you didn't realize was out there.

            In your mind there’s a million things going on but what happens to the most important thing that you forget to use, your ability to use your mind as if it will give you opportunities you didn't think had. It’s really all in the mind, we all have it, some of us overuse it, some hardly use it and some just know how to use it and make it work for them. If you stay in the same spot, you won’t move forward. It takes practice and progression, it’s not like you go from a weak runner to a marathoner overnight or go from someone who’s afraid of heights to climbing Mount Everest. Open up gradually.

            To really unlock your true potential, you have to go outside of your comfort zone but again be gradual, give yourself time and push it and give yourself a chance to go a little further each time and before you know it you're doing things you didn't realize you didn't know you could do. I know what it’s like to be afraid. When I broke my legs, for a period I never thought I'd walk again, I was scared and felt depressed for a bit but I went out of comfort zone and slowly changed my thinking and built myself up without having a thought or care in the world, I fought my way back even when I didn't want to because if I stopped completely, I would be like most people who didn't care anymore. The true secrets are within your soul and not from a book/cd/dvd or always a seminar.

            The real secrets to unlocking your own Pandora’s Box are found within all of us. We have levels of potential that even ourselves can’t grasp but how we choose to use it is up to us and if you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to make it work for you and have it work for the rest of your life. It’s a box full of things you've never thought were there and if you knew what was in it, you most likely kept it hidden and tossed the key somewhere and never wanted to come back. It could be anything, your past, your development to becoming strong, your style of writing or ability to handle stress whatever is in there, you can use it in a positive manner and learn from your mistakes and take control of your life on your own terms.

            Give yourself a chance to become the person you want to be, nobody knows your body, your soul, your livelihood and the way you think more than you do and when you have a hold on it, nobody can take it away from you and you have more power and fierce strength than you've ever had before or since. See what’s inside or keep it locked up, up to you but you always have a choice.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Going Rogue

            We all want to find the best ways to get results in the fitness world. Some use equipment, some don't and the rest just make shit up. You don't to have equipment to get the best but yet you can find what’s useful to you and make it worth your time to go at it hard. I love using certain things because they give a sense of purpose and meaning when I want to create something exciting and having the tools provide that.

            When it comes to equipment in a gym, there are two types of gyms that have a complete different type of world, the health spa and the underground gyms you see in various parts of the country including one of the craziest in New Jersey. The difference between the two is that a health spa consists of “beautiful” people with chrome and fern machines, state of the art treadmills, most weights in the dumbbell rack go up to about 50 lbs. and you see plenty of people wanting to look like Tarzan or Arnold yet have the strength of Jane. The Underground guys are bad to the bone (yes even the women), some are tough as nails hitting iron, flipping tires, lifting, dragging, carrying, pulling, pushing and even a few becoming a machine instead of focusing on one. This is the type of gym that turns little boys into tough hardcore men with strength to go with their look like the old school strongmen of legends past.

            If you want to use equipment to get results, you want ones that are productive, basic and simple to use because in the end, the basics give you the most out of everything else. The true weapons of Mass Destruction are your Barbells & Dumbbells which you only need to consist of a few things, Presses, Pulls, Squats and the occasional Grip Work which you can add with to your training by going to Stronger Grip to give you that extra edge. To supplement, you can use medicine balls, Kettlebells, Jump Ropes ect. It doesn't need to be complicated with all the crappy machines like a Lat Pulldown or a leg extension.

            In the Military, our forces need the proper training to stay in the best possible condition for battle, stealth tactics, running towards enemy fire and the ability to fight in self-defense so why not give them the best deal there is and help them fight for our country so they can come home safe and sound. Not all Military personnel lifts weights but if we showed them a foundation of Monstrous proportions, they’re be able to handle the rough and tough terrain of lifting, carrying and throwing with ease that can save their life and those of their troop or squadron.

            One of the most fun types of training in lifting is being able to lift a heavy ass weight. My good friend Bud Jeffries knows what it’s like to lift some super heavy weights and not always in a full range of motion but in a Partial. Partial Lifting is moving a weight from a specific range of motion which you can lift heavier and heavier weights than usual. Some people think Partials don’t do anything, some think they're the best to help their range of motion for a full lift, I personally feel if you're going to lift some crazy weights, you ought to progress the lift to the point where your best lift is at full range. Say your best bench is probably 400 at full range, you can lift far heavier if it was at lockout or quarter lift say for instance like as high as 600 at a lockout or 525 at a quarter and work your way down, it may be less weight at the longer range of motion but you're still building crazy strength in order to reach that point. My best deadlift is around 400, not a great amount of weight to right home about but yet I rarely ever lift weights, so far my best quarter DL is at 475 for 4-6 reps which I'm proud of considering I never moved weight in that type of lift in any other part of my life but anyway you catch my drift. In order to do partials you're most likely going to need a good solid Power Rack which you can adjust the range of motion to any lift you want.

            Have fun with these things and get as strong as you can. Whether you lift weights or not, it’s best to create what you want to get the best possible results and study the best in the best people who are drug-free and have great knowledge in how real strength and physique can be obtained through sheer hard work, balanced eating and rest. The simpler the better.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Strike That Will Always Be Heard

           Training with a sledgehammer gives you a sense of power and strength in your hands. The feel of the old-time laborers who smashed their way through granite, rock and stone in quarries, mines and other manual labor jobs that were back breaking and built on mental toughness with the strength of your own body. No one in the strongman world knows this better than Slim The Hammerman. Swinging a hammer just has that Raw, Uncanny strength that can only be applied by practice. The sound hitting stone or hitting a tire is quite the sound and can be heard from a good distance if you do it right.

            Lately I've been testing with my Thor Hammers, the high rep levels of conditioning hitting the tires with as little rest as possible. The only rest I take is when I roll a 20-sided dice and whatever comes up I do that many reps sometimes doubled or tripled the amount that comes up and just go after it as hard as I can. I've hit over 300, 600 and even got up over 1100+ reps and it feels incredible. To get great benefit it takes mindful practice and sometimes a bit of an imagination to really get the feel of that much power and endurance. For optimal results you can combine different elements such as Barbells, Dumbbells, Cables or whatever you decide and build a Monstrous Foundation to get the best results you can possibly imagine.

            One of the biggest challenges as of late is how one would handle a sledgehammer like Ryan Pitts’ Epic Sledgehammer which starts at 26lb. empty and can go up to 70 lb. using Shot Lead. Now some might say that’s not a lot of weight, some say that’s too much to handle but then there are those who just say “screw it.” Very few guys can have a workout with that much hammer. John Brookfield of Strongman Legend has swung sledgehammers for as long as an hour with the hammer weighing 50 lb. and striking it up to 28 times a minute, that’s insane. When you have that Epic hammer in your hands a part of you might have that fear that it will fight you and break you but yet if you let it work for you, it’ll give you strength in your whole body you never thought you'd be able to achieve. Think about it.

            Every time you strike the hammer, your whole body comes into play, stabilizing muscles, the tendons, legs are good, your arms are connected and ready to go and your breathing becomes a factor. What many people don't realize is how much your breath uses up your power. If you're a shallow breather, you won’t last very long and even a few strikes at first will get huffing and puffing. With practice and finding that rhythm, your lung power will skyrocket and your endurance becomes greater. You won't just be strong and enduring but you'll get stronger mentally as well.

            My boy Bud Jeffries always had a philosophy of combining strength training & endurance training in the same workout and he’s proving it many times over that if you put these two elements in the same session, you'll gain results faster than if you did one or the other. Conditioning in this manner can be used in different ways but the principles still apply. Using a heavy sledgehammer and doing high reps is one example of this, it already takes great strength just to hold up one of those bad boys but to do high reps with them is something that you can only find in experience and seeing for yourself how that is done. If any other piece of equipment that can take you into the stratosphere it’s the power of the hammer. If you have one, treat it as if it was a Samurai sword, its beauty can be deceitful if you don't use it properly and it can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s special and sacred and when you train hard with it, it gives you that love and respect that nothing else might give you. It’s not just an object; it’s a part of you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fitness Of The Mind

           When it comes to training, some people look forward to getting their ass kicked because they're getting something out of it and they've earned what they put into it but others feel it’s a punishment because they didn't do it the day before or something that makes them feel it’s something they have no choice to do and they hate themselves for it. It’s really all in their thick ass skulls and whatever reason they have it’s either going to happen or not.

            The mindset that can make you or break you really all comes down to just one person and that’s who you look at in the mirror everyday. You can have people train you, you can watch all those dumb ass cardio dvds like hip hop abs or that really annoying Insanity crap and you can even drive to the gym and run on a treadmill (really idiotic I’d say) but nobody really tells you what to do unless you get yourself doing it. If you really want to enjoy what you do, you have to change the way you think because if all you're going to be is miserable it’s your own fault because you thought it was going to be that way. Being happy in what you do means you make things happen, you make the effort and you even push yourself without bitching or complaining. See the difference?

            My philosophy is if you want the best learn from the best but make it your own. Following others all the time won’t make you reach your potential to where you want it to be. To be the best you can be, learn how all the things you were taught and create something for yourself. I know what it’s like, I've read the magazines and tried to follow what they do and guess what happened, minor injuries, sores, back pain, pulled muscles and even couldn’t move out of bed at times so I switched things around after my accident. I learned a few things but I did not follow exactly to the T what they said, I made up 90% of the stuff I learned because I wanted to create something for myself. So I say this, you can be the sheep for a little bit but eventually you'll want to be the Shepherd and build your own following and teach them to be the Shepherd.

            In the wild, some animals travel in packs, some are solo and some are in between but for the most part they do what they can to survive, they don't listen to the latest trend or what’s been studied, they do what they need to do because their mind is programmed that way. Make things happen by learning and finding how things work and run with it. Be happy with what you have but don’t ever be satisfied because there’s so much more you can do but do it one at a time.

            Find what you want to do. Learn from the best and learn to venture out on your own to build your own thing after mastering the basic things you want to do. We are all different and have different needs and goals we want to achieve so master the foundation and progress on your own after because no one knows your body like you do and you know what functions well and what doesn’t. Be who you are and be a first rate self and not a second rate somebody because the majority of people end up being the ladder and are too damn scared to discover something in themselves.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Expanding Knowledge & Experimentation

            The ability to learn different things that keep your mind and body flowing is a gift in itself. Learning what you want to do makes things all that much simpler even when it gets difficult sometimes. Why is it important to learn what you want to learn? Because the more you experiment and practice, the better knowledge you'll receive and having it become a second language. Billy Robinson of Catch Wrestling legends said it best “Learn how to learn.”

            What is it you want to do? Want to learn to lift weights, practice hand balancing, move like a wild animal, become a old-time strongman or yet you want to learn them all who knows but whatever you decide to do, make not only the best of it but make it your own, you can learn the basics but it’ up to you to find what you're best at and making the habit to become self-reliant in your own style of training. We all use different patterns, moves, training ideals and what can work and what can’t but yet its how you interpret the way you experimented and practiced.

            In the commercial gyms today, you see a lot of trainers who push you when you're not ready, they'll tell you to do something and if you get it wrong they'll let it slide but then they get pissed and give you a hard time when you're just learning. I'm not saying they're all like that, I know a few guys and they're good at what they do but a lot of them just don't give a damn and rather take your money then share and help you succeed in what you want to accomplish. I’d say for the most part avoid commercial trainers. A lot of those guys don’t tell you how to be successful, they tell you to work this, work that and more stuff that has nothing to do with results, just them to keep cashing the checks.

            When you have learned a few basics and have mastered them, the next step is to climb the ladder and get better at some of the harder stuff. After a while, you'd want to put them together to create your own program to suit your goals. Nobody does things the same exact way because our body to weight ratio is different and we have to work things that suit our structure. Use what you learned, from different tempos, speeds, movements and holds that work for you.

            One of the most important aspects of expanding your knowledge and experimentation in what you want to do is this, break the rules. Sure you can learn a thing or 2 but you don't have to follow every single person’s advice, if you did, you're only closing off instead of finding what works for you. When you train, make up your own rules, you already have the basics down so why not rebel and make it your own. You're the king/queen of your own program, you know what works and what doesn't  and nobody can tell you what to do. Once you have mastered what you learned from others, break away from them and become who you want to be.

            Be creative, open up your mind and make it happen for you and only you. You can pass down what you learned but don’t give away all your secrets otherwise you won’t let them discover things for themselves.

Be sure to check out Don Powers’ new book Catch Wrestling For Cops here at Strongerman. You don't have to be a cop to make it work for you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What Is My Fascination With Tarzan????

             Ever since I was little watching guys like Arnold, Stallone, Ford, Van Damme, Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and others, I always wondered what a picture perfect athlete would be like. Yes I even got a kick out of Brendan Fraser in George Of The Jungle being a Tarzan wanna-be. As I got older and transitioned from a weightlifter to a bodyweight guy I loved the way certain athletes moved through the air like a gymnast or an acrobat in the circus and how they’re built not like a bodybuilder but like a real and graceful athlete. In reality (contradiction I know) Tarzan to me is the picture perfect athlete.

            The beauty of Tarzan’s development is that he is forced to adapt to his environment in the jungle, swinging, climbing, moving in awkward positions and being free out in the open. There have been a lot of Tarzans in films over the years from Johnny Weissmuller to George Scott to even the original Highlander Christopher Lambert. To train is to think and very rarely you see that today in your commercial gyms and health spas because too many people just go through the motions, hop on the treadmill reading a book or watching TV, even blasting their ipods while lifting weights not even paying attention at times to what they're doing.  

            When it comes down to it, they say the lion is the king of the jungle but I believe when it comes to sheer power, size, forced to adapt and having the most powerful grip strength pound for pound are the primates like Apes and Monkeys. You won't see a lion swing through trees jumping from place to place, he'll run, chase and wrestle you to the floor but an Ape can crush your bones just by squeezing them and have tendon strength that most animals don't have. The Wrestlers of the Jungle are the Gorillas and Chimps, the acrobats are the Gibbons and smaller primates. They move with power yet with grace at the same time. Yes they're structure is a little different but yet we can adapt to what can work for us.

            Training shouldn't be a hassle or something you need to punish yourself with but what it can be is an adventure. Think about it, being out in the open, having fun, putting yourself in different situations with practical application and having the time of your life. If you can't get outside due to bad weather or there’s trouble out or whatever, you can still have fun inside and maybe not move so much like a wild animal but adapt to what you have and the space you have to do what you can. Karl Gotch once said “adapt and improvise” this meant that you can do things anywhere at anytime but yet improvise with what you have to make use of what you can do. Be open to ideas and have some fun.

            As some of you know, one of my favorite styles of training is moving like an animal in the jungle, stalking its prey, jumping and speeding up on an object, using my imagination to make things more exciting. As of late I've been trying different things and one of them is a system called MovNat which is using only your body and the environment to create different situations which are used in crawling, jumping, running, lifting, climbing and carrying different things to build your body from adaptation. Erwan Le Corre is the founder of this type of training and is one of the fittest guys in the world today. It’s pretty interesting considering some of the things he does is almost a spitting image of Tarzan. Check out some of his Youtube stuff. It gives you a different perspective to how you move and put yourself in different ways to adapt and improvise in a practical and safe way.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Where Do We Go

            People tend to ask “What should I do and how do I get there?” that can be asked about anything and in the fitness world its one of those daunting questions that doesn’t have the simplest answer. You want to be fit but how do you plan on getting there, by watching a few videos or reading a book or posts by other people? The truth is, what are you looking for?

            It’s difficult to give someone a straight answer because you don't always know what their intentions are. Some just want to look good, others want to be really strong and some don't even know what the hell they want. When I was going to the gym and lifting weights, I had somewhat of an idea of what I wanted but I didn't have a whole lot of patience of how to get there so I just went through the motions, never really had a coach, just diddling notes about some exercises and half-assed a lot of a routines. Unlike today where my patience is far better, I've discovered that if you want the best, you have to put in some thinking of what you really want.

            You don't need to put in a lot of time to find what you want and where you want to go but you do however have to find out what it is you want, a healthy body, a powerful physique or just want to be in awesome shape whatever it is. Research, find courses that are suitable to your goals and use progression to build your foundation in whatever program you choose. There are a lot of quacks out there that just rather take your money than help you, others deem themselves as “experts” when half the time they have no clue what they're talking about but the ones you do find will help you reach your goals in ways you couldn’t by yourself. In the last 8 years I've gone from being in a wheelchair to being a pretty decent conditioned athlete and I still have no idea where I'm going but I'm always willing to learn which should be apart of your mindset by growing mentally. Learn from other people, study how your own body works and functions and what training ideals suit you best.

            When you discover how you understand certain aspects of training in your own way, you develop strength internally that can carry over to anything else in life. Make it a habit to learn, put in the time and effort to make your goals happen, write them down if you have to which is always a good idea. Find who you are, if something clicks for you, use it and take advantage of it because not many find their best ways to do things. Where do we go? Who knows but every one of us has a journey that must be used in our own way to find our true path in whatever we do. 

Legendary Strength's House Sale is still up for a few more days. Get your hands on some kick ass deals including a Handstand Course that's only $7. Everything is 20-80% off and this will most likely never happen again so get cracking and spread the word.