When my friend, Ben Bergman, asked me to write about my journey into the world of Underground Strength training, I didn't have to think twice about it. I was blessed to find several coaches back around 2004-2005 whose methods were unorthodox, but highly effective. Some of the strength & conditioning renegades I found then were Mike Mahler, Diesel Crew, Bud Jeffries, Greg Glasman, and Zach Even-Esh.
All of them were training in warehouses, garages, parks, back yards, or playgrounds; any where except in gyms.
I still learn from all of them to this very day. However, Zach Even-Esh is in the spotlight today.
I had trained in martial arts for quite a few years and had always looked for something to that would fill the void in the training we'd been doing. I knew strength and power had to be improved to improve what I call "stopping power".
When I learned of Zach's wrestling background and got his first training manuals, which I still have and study), something just clicked for me.
Though I opened one of the earliest CrossFit gyms in the
USA, number 35
to be exact, I continued to follow Zach's methods. I was kind of the "black sheep" in CrossFit, and
still am, because I believed in learning from all valid sources whether they
are CrossFit or not.
Let me clarify one thing right now, I refuse to become a CrossFit hater or basher even though it is now the "cool" thing to do. If someone who doesn't do CrossFit can whip Rich Froning, Jr., then maybe their opinion is worth listening to. We are one of a very small number of gyms that offer CrossFit and Underground Strength training, in fact our gym has become known as the Cave, not by its' legal name of CrossFit Gulf Coast.
We are a strength-based training center. Our training regularly includes bench press, squats, deadlifts, and shoulder presses. All our athletes do strict pull-ups on a variety of apparatus like Zach's original Underground Strength Gym in NJ. Odd object lifts often replace barbell lifts, though we do a lot of heavy barbell work still.
I could go on about this for hours, but let me narrow it down to the subject Ben asked me to talk about, that is why I go the Underground route and how it has affected my business. Underground Strength workouts are harder and longer than what most people are accustomed to, but they produce great results. We usually train from 1 1/2 to 2 hours, not 15 minutes.
Another plus for Underground training is the shorter learning curve with odd object lifts than with barbells. This is especially true for the Olympic lifts, though they are tremendous. Underground Strength has let us rise above the herd. I have refused to run a "cookie cutter" gym. You could say, "I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference."