Here’s a reminder that not everyone who tells you that “they’ve got your back to just reach out if you need anything really mean it”
A heartfelt Thank You to those of you who were there for me over this past year or so as I worked to heal from an unbelievably toxic environment that tired to kick my ass BUT that toxic environment LOST when it tried to claim THIS GUY.
Donnie Maib hit the proverbial nail on the head with this slide!!
I'll be sharing much of the fight that I had with that toxic environment that I battled with the hope that if anyone is going though some tough shit that you can find strength to keep fighting.
Play Hard... Train Harder... NO EXCUSES
Here are 2 Examples of what I'm talking about
When the scrum laws changed in rugby New Zealand All
Blacks props Ben & Owen Franks asked me to find a way to train his fingers to have a stronger grasp the opposing props jersey. We trained the fingers, wrists, forearms AND biceps because all of that is necessary for them when they scrimmage and lift in the line out.
Once the coaches noticed the improvements that were made (because improvements made in training must show up in the sport) those “grip games” as I called them became required by Scrum Coach/Guru Mike ‘Crono’ Cron. Many of those grip workouts are still going strong with the New Zealand All Blacks Forward Pack.
Back in the late 80’s very early 90’s Mike Piazza and Alex Karros came to workout at the gym where I was training, before they were with the Dodgers they were with the San Antonio Missions MiLB. Anyways they saw me doing grip/forearm work and came over to talk to me asking a million questions and writing stuff down, they invited me out to a game which I of course accepted.
They wanted me to come early so I could watch batting practice and had given me seats by the on deck circle. They and others kept coming by the screen to tell me how they were loving the work I talked to them about. Next thing the manager comes over to talk to me then the general manager comes over to talk to me and a month later and I’m being flown out to Los Angeles to speak to the Dodgers players and training staff at the invitation of Tommy Lasorda!!
There was a guy sitting next me and he’d been listening in and he started talking to me and was extremely interested in the grip/forearm training ideas I had. He says, well if Tommy wants to talk to you then I damn sure I want you to come out and talk to our boys and he hands me his card, he was the Minor League Scouting Director for the San Francisco Giants!!
Those are just 2 of the many personal examples I can share…. I’ve got many, many more from my athletic and coaching career in Scottish Heavy Athletics, Football, Aussie Rules, Basketball, Wrestling, Softball, Volleyball, Hockey, Judo, Lacrosse, Bobsled (driver), Fencing, and even Badminton. By the way these are sports that I have worked in at all levels including professional and the Olympics.
PLAY HARD... TRAIN HARDER... NO EXCUSES
Like many ‘Old Strong Guys’ I got Terry Todd’s book Inside Powerlifting in 1978.
In 1983 I travel 8 hours from Ft Polk Louisiana to Austin Texas where the USA Powerlifting National Championships were being held. I went hopeful to get a chance to ask Terry about getting into the sport of powerlifting and for him to sign my copy of Inside Powerlifting. I got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes and he told me about his cousin Rick Gaugler who lived in Corpus Christi Texas and suggested that I travel there to learn from Rick. Maybe he thought I was from the Austin area but then I told him that I traveled some 8+ hours from Ft Polk LA that I was currently Active Duty Army … but hell I drove all the way to Austin JUST to watch the lifting and meet Terry so why the fuck not drive to Corpus Christi so a couple of weeks later armed with what Terry had told me I jumped on my motorcycle and headed the 8 hours or so to Corpus Christi Texas.
Now, I had absolutely no idea how I was gonna find this Rick guy or even where I was gonna stay but I had earned a 5 day pass from passing an IG Inspection so why not spend it near the beach and find a gym and this Rick Gaugler guy!!! Now remember this is in 1983 so there ain’t no ‘Google Search’ so you actually gotta work for the information you’re seeking. I found a great gym called America Health owned by Rex Kelly and his brother Tom and asked them if they knew Rick and of course they did and told me to go to Bradshaw’s Gym and asked Phil Bradshaw about how to find Rick and to tell Phil that they had sent me over there. Phil was awesome and said of course he knew Rick and would introduce me to him. I spent the next few days lifting and hanging out at the beach wondering when i was gonna meet Rick.
Since I was getting close to getting out of the Army so I was assigned to CQ Duty which had me working Monday 6am - 6pm; off on Tuesday; then Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 6am so I decided that every other Friday I’d drive the 8+ hours to train at Bradshaw’s and hope that ‘this would be the weekend’ that I’d meet Rick. I’d return return to base just in time to clean up and report for duty riding my Honda 750 all night long through the swampland otherwise known as Louisiana!!
Finally I met a couple guys, Rodney and Dan that were powerlifters being trained by Rick and they agreed to introduced me to Rick at the club they all bounced at!!! This happened at a good time because 3 weeks late I got out of the Army. I decided that I wanted to move to Corpus Christi instead of going home to Detroit, yeah honestly it was not a hard decision!!
Now I really didn’t know anyone nor did I have a job na just had the money in my pocket I’d been saving. Hell I didn’t even have a place to live or any idea how to get an apartment so for a couple of months I slept in a park on Ocean Drive. I joined Bradshaw’s and landed the typical meathead job…. Bouncer!! I started training with Rodney and Dan, so one Saturday they invited me to ‘the garage’ to spot Rick on heavy squat day but first I had to meet all of them at Luby’s Cafeteria where Rick ate every day but we all ate there together at 11 on Saturday then Rodney, Dan and myself went to Bradshaw’s to squat and after we were finished we headed to the garage where Rick trained.
The impact of that the invitation to the garage gym had on me was HUGE and although I’d been lifting and competing in weightlifting and throwing since I was 14, it was in the Army where I had gotten bitten by the STRENGTH bug and being around and spotting Rick who weighed all of 175 pounds was squatting well over 600 pounds for reps that day that really started me on this journey, this absolutely wonderful journey in the Iron Game.
Play Hard... Train Harder... NO EXCUSES
Really thought that I wanted to make a comeback in the Highland Games but …. Nope!!!
Now let me explain myself because I had such an amazing career since first competing at the Salado Highland Games in 1997 before an injury forced me into ‘retirement’… well the asshole doctor that screwed up my surgery and caused the infections but that’s a story for another day.
I do have so many wonderful memories of the men that I was blessed to share the competition field and meals with and even a beer or two around not just the USA but all over the World and with that I even managed to win some championships and even set some records.
It always make me laugh when I look back over my athletic career and think that I seemed to have had a much more competitive career as a Master than I ever did as an Open competitor and I damn sure have had a hell of a lot more fun as a Master!!!
I am very proud of my career and hope that I always carried myself with honor and respect for the history of the Scottish Highland Games and all those who competed with me and those that came before me. It is the history that’s intrigued me so much and partially what drew me to the Highland Games but after competing this past November I just didn’t have the same concentration and focus with the training or even while competing and I doubt that I ever will again. I will not of course leave Scottish Heavy Athletics nor will I ever forget it even if I wanted to but I doubt that I will ever again return to it as I once had nor will it ever possess me as it once did. The sport provided me some of the happiest times of my life. I’m always asked how and why push myself in a sport where there was no monetary gain and very little publicity but I’m telling you that those were the happiest times for me throwing the weights and stones, picking a a monstrous caber and giving it a little nudge with my shoulder and taking off running then the elation after turning it.
Even more personally gratifying was the training; explosively lifting heavy weights , throwing medicine balls and jumping then you can add in hundreds and hundreds of drills that not only had to be done but had to be done correctly….each and every rep done to perfection. Let’s not forget the hours spent alone in a field throwing or the long early morning drives to different games and of course stopping for breakfast at Cracker Barrel to fuel up!!
So with all of this in mind (and a little more that I haven’t shared yet) I have concluded that it’s time to move onto something different in “The Wide World of (Masters) Strength Sports” and this next challenge is something that I have talked about and dreamt about since the early 90’s when I got a book from IronMind called “Of Stones and Strength” by Peter Martin.
There’s a feeling inside of me that I just can’t describe (trust me I’ve tried) when I look at a stone laying there in the tall grass thinking about the men that came before me and knowing that it’s telling me to move on, I’m not here for you to lift but if you want to try you better be prepared for the challenge.
There’s a short writing that I read many years ago from Steve Jeck that sums up my feels closer than I can so I’ll share that writing with you so maybe you can understand that feeling when passing by a stone and wondering how far you can throw it or if you can lift it!!!
The Choice by Steve Jeck
“There’s something about a stone; something intrinsically alluring. I’ve never been able to walk past a stone without trying to lift it or see how far I could throw it (our at least silently ponder such efforts if actually attempting them would seriously jeopardize others’ perception of my stability). I do, by the way, realize that the more sound members of society have little difficulty driving past or transversing such challenges. . . . pity.
I see the stone as a challenge, obvious enough, yet I view it in a different light than even the barbell. The barbell is designed to be lifted. The diameter of the bar, the knurled grip, the aerodynamic design of the plates - all of these features lend themselves to one ultimate purpose: to be lifted. Certainly, when one throws enough 25-kilo plates on a bar all this design crap flies right out of the window. And still I feel as if I’ve accomplished something just deadlifting the type of poundage Taranenko rams overhead. No, I’m not saying that lifting barbells is easy. The distinction I’d make is that barbells are heavy while stones are defiant.
To the prospective lifter, a stone seems to say, ‘I’m not here to be lifted. You have gyms and such to satisfy that need. Now, if you still care to proceed, then be ready to pay.’ What’s more, should you be blessed enough triumph over the stone, the only adulation you’re likely to receive will come from the local squirrels and millipedes, for most big stones are still resting obscurely in nature right where God put them.
Ultimately, a man is challenged and bettered by facing any task that exceeds his current abilities. Some choose big stones. Others drive or transverse past such challenges. . . . pity.”
Play Hard… Train Harder… NO EXCUSES
Down this road, in a gym far away,
a young man was heard to say,
“No matter what I do, my legs won’t grow.”
He tried leg extensions, leg curls, and leg presses too
trying to cheat, these sissy workouts he’d do.
From the corner of the gym where the big men train,
through a cloud of chalk and the midst of pain,
where the noise is made with big forty fives,
a deep voice bellowed as he wrapped his knees.
a very big man with legs like trees.
Laughing as he snatched another plate from the stack
chalking his hands and monstrous back,
said, “Boy, stop lying and don’t say you’ve forgotten,
the trouble with you is you ain’t been SQUATTIN’.
If you were a powerlifter in the 80’s & 90’s then you have a shirt with Dale’s poem on the back... I still have mine!!! #oldstrongguysrule #powersportstrengthconditioning
Let’s step into my Time Machine like Dr Who and travel with me to December 14th 1985… my birthday!! Good things have happened to me on my birthday here in 1985 and in 1996 I graduated with my Bachelor's in Science - Kinesiology. Welp back to my story.
I’m at my second powerlifting meet and it’s a big meet for sure being held at the hotel that’s so close to The Ballpark at Arlington that you can see the outfield from the windows of the hotel restaurant. I’m there with my coach Rick Gaugler and my two training partners Russell and Hank and all of us competing!!!
Now try and understand that this is a big deal for me because I’m fresh out off the Army all of 23 years old (turning 24), just a kid from the east side of Detroit and have never flown somewhere just to compete. Walked in and saw the venue and admittedly I got a wobbly in the knees at the prospect of being on an elevated stage in front of a huge crowd.
I was entered into the Open Class and had a decent opening squat of 611 pounds but we will come back to that squat in a few but remember this is 1985 and we are in single ply suits and have equipment check AND we weigh in 2 hours before competing.
Rick says that until I total 1650 my ass is staying in the 198 pound class, mind you it’s one of the most competitive classes in powerlifting at the time!! Of course I’m over by a few pounds so I’ll be watching what I eat, well in reality Rick will be watching like a hawk and if you’ve ever heard me tell stories about Rick then you’ll know that he will slap that food out of my hand before it gets close to my mouth!!
I don’t have a scale in the hotel room so I head to a gym nearby to sit in the sauna then back in the room we turn up the heater and I wrap up in blankets to sweat off weight since all 3 of us needs to drop weight, Rick has his own room and ain’t struggling with his weight so I’m sure he’s sleeping comfortably.
Saturday morning and we head to weigh in before we eat so I step on the scale and I’m 194…OH GOD panic sets in as I think that my squat suit won’t fit right because I’ve lost too much weight so off to the fancy buffet I go and I eat everything in sight and I’m not kidding when I say I’m eating everything that’s not nailed down!!! Think I had a solid 20 pieces of French Toast and eggs. Afterwards we head to the rules meeting and equipment check then to the warm up room…. Starting to feel a little queezy from the food… have a sip of Sprite and nope that’s not any better!!! side note: to this day I still cannot drink Sprite
So lets come back to that 611 opening squat…. Nice and easy but as I’m coming up so is all of that French Toast… I'm about half way up … and out comes my breakfast right in the Head Judge’s lap!!! I’m standing there waiting for the “rack” signal and once I get it I ask if it was a good lift? The Judge comes back with ‘I’ll tell you when you clean up your mess’
Funny thing with this story is in 1987 I moved to San Antonio and walk into probably the best gym there is in the World of Strength. Bob and Mary Dickson’s Olympic Gym and there behind the counter is Dave Spadafora the Head Judge who I puked on just a few years before….he jumps up and yells
“OH NO DON’T PUKE ON ME” and the entire gym erupted in laughter, me included!!!
Dave was one of the toughest powerlifting judges in Texas if not the USA. My training partner Milo and I use to say that if we could get Dave to pass our squats then we’d have no problems getting white lights at the meets (side note here; we didn’t want someone to tell us our squats were good only to get to a big meet and find out we’ve been squatting high). We knew Dave worked nearby so we decided that on Squat Day we’d get Dave to come to the gym and judge us. We would go get a sandwich and all the goodies (sure as hell wasn’t gonna ask him to give up his lunch time to help us without buying him lunch). We’d set Dave right in front of the platform and had it timed perfectly that we’d be at our final 2 warm up sets then into the work sets… we’d get done and Dave would give us some additional feedback and off he went back to work.
It’s been a long time since I’d seen Dave but I have never forgotten the impact he’s had on not just my powerlifting career but on me personally. We’ve run the back stage area for Bob and Mary at the South Texas Bodybuilding Show… he and the rest of the Powerlifters gave me lots of shit when I decided I wanted to compete in a few bodybuilding shows and cheered the loudest…. when I became an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Antonio Spurs he told me how proud of me he was!!!
The other night Sally and I went to Little Italy to eat and this guy comes walking through the restaurant and I immediately recognize my old friend. It’d been at least 20 years since I’ve seen him but when we stood there introducing our families it was like we had just seen each other yesterday.
Sometimes you never know the impact that you have on a person until many years later… Always make sure the impact that you have on people is positive!!
Play Hard… Train Harder… NO EXCUSES
I can’t breathe.... damn this hurts... why is my heart beating so hard that it hurts my ears. It’s like something is just not right... but I got a group coming in so fuck it I’ll take care of it later maybe I need to add some cardio in at the end of my workout later and we all know it’s NOT gonna happen.
Low intensity cardiovascular training to strengthen the heart!!! NO WAY… it’ll take away my GAINS!!! Why does our ego think like this until it’s too late, the damage has been done.
No one wants to face their own mortality... especially a fucking strength coach!!! I’m not mortal I have to be PUMPED UP for the next group!!! I’ll just eat a little at my desk before the group comes in... shit I had a good hard workout this morning.... even though I slept like crap from snoring so bad that I woke up more tired than I was before I headed off to bed… Funny thing about my sleep apnea and its not the damage that it did to my heart … actually it’s more sad to think that when I was with the Spurs the athletic trainer, doctors or anyone else never said anything to me and never intervened even when the players would not allow me to sleep on the same floor as them because they could hear me though the doors or walls!!! Not one person spoke up and said shit to me that I was doing irreversible damage to my heart. Sally sure hell did that’s for sure and she didn’t give me a choice in going to get a sleep study done and then using my CPAP machine once I got it but by then the damage to my heart could not be undone.
Fast forward 6 years and I can add more to the cause of my heart diease with the asshole Dr. Marvin Brown of San Antonio Orthopedics and Associates who fucked up my Achilles and ankle surgery leaving me with infections that caused me to have an additional 9 surgeries in order to save my life, almost dying twice from septic shock or that I came damn close to having my left foot amputated and the 20+ weeks of seriously nasty antibiotics that were given to me through a PICC Line. That PICC Line was inserted into my brachial vein and it went all the way to my heart so those antibiotics that destroy the organisms or should I say all organisms (you can actually feel them burning as they run through your veins) can get straight to the heart and pumped out to where they need to be!!! I could tell you more but you’d probably want to vomit…. I know it leaves me feeling that way. It was barely 2 years later that I suffered my heart attacks. Oh and a side note to the asshole politicians, lawyers and lobbyists that rewrote Texas’ Tort Laws making it next to impossible to sue for medical malpractice because the piece of shit lawyers can’t make enough money since they capped the payout!!! Never mind the lifelong damage that was done to me from now having only 20% of an Achilles attached or the ankle ligament that was eaten away by the infection. I’m left with permanent weakness and a limp….but i still have 2 feet so I guess I’m supposed to be thankful for that tidbit.
I know the scenarios... I know the excuses.... I lived them and used them and now I have the damn +12” scar that serves as a reminder of the “prize you get for not taking care of your heart”!
It all came to a head, 8 years ago late on a Friday night (6/5/2014) after coaching and training all day as I sat on the edge of the bed “bartering with God” looking into my wife’s beautiful eyes and said good bye to our bulldogs because I honestly didn’t think I was gonna be coming back home... and yet I still acted like I was invincible because I was taught throughout my life to never show weakness. I’ve battled through a childhood of violence to become an Airborne Ranger, Champion Strength and Power Athlete all while bouncing in some shit clubs and I never once showed weakness or fatigue, it’s just not in my DNA or I would have been eaten alive.
10 June 2014 I believe that God answered my prayers to not take me just yet as I finally had a family to call my very own, blessed to be loved by Sally and our Furbabies but God had something in store for me, something that I feel is why he spared me that late Friday night into Saturday’s early morning hours. I know this because the doctor told my that my heart was in bad shape, I coded twice before he finally got the stent inserted giving me a fighting chance by stabilizing me while I waited to have triple bypass surgery on 10 June.
I felt compelled to write this after several of my friends and people I know from lifting have died from heart disease and many more have had bypass surgery. I always reach out to them to prepare them for the journey ahead.
I’ve had a lot of folks reach out and ask me questions on how I developed heart disease. I know that all of this that I’ve written about contributed to it along with that old strength athlete adage of “mass moves mass” so even though I was lifting heavy, regularly jumping on a 30” box and throwing heavy shit really far being 5’10” and weighing 286 pounds (130kg) and more probably wasn’t the best thing especially at the Masters level.
In the coming weeks I’ll be writing and sharing my journey from barely able to walk to squatting and yes…. at week 16 I started snatching again!!
Play Hard… Train Harder… NO EXCUSES
Here’s a little birthday rant for ya and it goes something like this…
To all of the “Strength and Conditioning Coaches” I see posting on social media or that I hear about from the athletes that I work with…
If you want to add Strongman Training or Strongman Conditioning Circuits into your athlete’s training programs that’s great BUT at least understand what it is you’re adding and how to do it safely and effectively.
Here’s an idea instead of just copying shit…. learn to use them by asking someone that actually does it. The
Trust me there’s more goes to it than you think… selection of exercises, weight of implement, time limits, technique and so much more. Take the time to learn before someone gets injured and you blame the exercise instead of blaming YOURSELF!!
I took the time to learn from and train with the very best in the world before I ever had an athlete do any strongman training.
I’m not exaggerating on this and here’s a little taste of the action…. I was at Sorinex Summer Strong and Bert has the original stones from strongman with the MacGlashen Stones and I was taught to lift the stones by World’s Strongest Man competitor Dave Ostlund and a few years later I was outside lifting the #2 stone and a voice asked me if I’d like him to help me to lift the stones and I turn around and standing there is non other than one of the greatest strongmen / powerlifters in history Bill “Kaz” Kazmaier. Still at Sorinex Richard Sorin the ‘Grip King’ worked with me on grip training…. I couldn’t grab my fork or my manhood to pee for days my hands and forearms were so sore and fatigued. Again more information that you think when it comes to something like Strongman Training.
Back at my gym back in Houston Travis Ortmayer would come in to train and invited me to train with him at my place as well as his storage shed where I learned more stone lifting, log clean and press, farmers carry, yoke walk and much more. I’ve listened to and trained with other Worlds Strongest Man competitors as well AND the people that coach them!!!
Here’s another and a biggie too …. Dr Terry Todd who as a kid I watched talk on the late 70’s version of Worlds Strongest Man back on CBS and of course his book Inside Powerlifting but that’s an entire other story so back to my rant, I visited with Terry and his wonderful wife Jan at The University of Texas where they are professors and Terry explained in great detail how to choose exercises and everything that went with that but down to the scientific reasoning…. Bet your ass you didn’t expect that shit!!!! Yeah a lot goes into this….. more than you think!!!
The biggest impact on me was actually training and competing in Strongman contests!!! Back when I was a kid and it was on CBS I’d head outside and try my best to recreate the events, later when I was in the Army and stationed in Germany this type of training was all we had to do at times. Fast forward to competing in Scotland doing a Highlander Challenge (a combination of Heavy Athletics and Strongman) but in 1997 Bill Holland started an amateur strongman competition in a field in Azle Texas I went on to compete for 5 years before concentrating on the Scottish Highland Games.
There’s more to the story and it’ll continue in a later blog…
Old Man Rant Over!!! ?
(actually this has been brewing inside of me for a long ass time probably around 2006, I don’t know how I kept it bottled up inside me!!)
#oldstrongguysrule #3xlstout #powersportstrengthconditioning #tight5performance
Play Hard...Train Harder...NO EXCUSES
Sitting here on the eve of my 60th birthday looking in the mirror wondering just who the fuck is looking back at me? I don’t seem to recognize this person staring back at me…. He’s older than he used to be with more gray hair in the goatee and an age line or two by his eyes and a lot more scars on the body and spirit.
Just who is this person looking back at me?
Looking back at my journey especially over this past decade, I may not be where I expected to be nor where I wanted to be and like many others I have made some critical mistakes but I’m trying not to beat myself up over them. I look at my dream board that I haven’t updated because I have been too busy helping others achieve their dreams that it seems I have left no energy for my own dreams. What a decade its been!! It’s definitely been tough but the past couple years have truly tested my resolve but while I may stumble I will never ever quit.
To be honest I’m a little embarrassed at this because it’s something that’s never happened before to me. I’ve always taken care of my own dreams and goals while of course working to help others to achieve their goals and dreams.
Several years ago I heard NFL Football Player and Coaching Legend Mike Ditka read a poem on an inspirational video that resonated with me.
The Man In The Mirror
By Dale Wimbrow
When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you king for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t a man’s father, mother or wife,
Whose judgement upon him must pass,
The fellow whose verdict counts most in life,
Is the man staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test,
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But the final reward will be heartache and tears,
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
Yes, now I recognize the man in the mirror looking back at me and while I may not happy with him right now I do love him and I do trust that he will right the proverbial ship and achieve his goals and dreams and make the most out of what’s left of his time here on earth. I understand that I haven’t cheated the man looking back at me and that man looking back at me is my friend.
Over the course of the next blogs I’m going to share more of the journey over this decade of 50 I’m leaving so share the struggles and triumphs as I work towards my goals and more. This will keep me accountable but putting it all out there in the universe for everyone to see.
A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.
A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.
A plan backed by actions makes your dreams come true.
Play Hard…Train Harder…NO EXCUSES
I don't know the reason that I had gotten away from using my powerlifting belt very often except sometimes on squats, shit I can’t remember the last time I used it for deadlifts or even did a dedicated deadlift workout with heavy rack pulls and not a clean power pull trying to shrug at the top.
I do have other training belts that I’ll use but the other day I was looking at that beautiful black and purple belt just sitting there and I began remembering so many of the heavy lifts done with this belt of mine. (cue "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen) so I gabbed my belt and headed to the gym to train.
Picking it up off the squat rack (I’ve never put my belt on the ground) then wrapping it around the squat rack to get a good pull to perfectly tighten it… a true Powerlifter’s belt has a permanent bend from doing this!! Then I rub my middle finger across the holes to make sure it’s in the right hole before adjusting it into the perfect position on my waist. It always seems to slips into groove like it was made to just fit perfectly in that spot.
Maybe I stopped using it because my current lifts don’t come close to what I’ve done before, back then (was it really that long ago?)
I was regularly hitting 160-180kg push press behind the neck, 100-120… hell 140kg seated press, 250-300kg squats and deadlifts (no wraps or sleeves) 300-350kg tire flips and YES even 100kg power curls (cheat curls) and this shit was done for multiple sets and reps not any “just hit a heavy single” bullshit!!
Guess that's just the cold hard fact about getting older and still being in love with the Heavy Iron. I was in my mid to late 40’s the last time I hit these numbers and now as I quickly approach 60 I still have strength goals that require me to be at the strongest that my body can be at whatever age I am.
And YES after all the years I’ve been training ... I still love the Heavy Iron.
Thank You Pete Alaniz of Titan Support Systems for my belt!! I got this beauty back in 1995 after I had moved up a few weight classes and out grew my old Bob Morris belt.
Huge thanks to my Dad who started me on this journey, Terry Todd who I would later become friends with but in 1978 through his book Inside Powerlifting he was the first to inspire my passion for Strength and Power and a very special thanks to Rick Gaugler who didn’t just introduce me to the sport of powerlifting, he ignited a passion and love within me and then coached me to heights that I could never have dreamed of when I first started this journey in 1976.
Play Hard...Train Harder...NO EXCUSES
June 25th is a BIG day for me for 2 very different reasons. .
On today’s date in 1980 I entered the US Army headed to Ft McClellan Alabama to start Basic and AIT.
And also on today’s date in 1999 the San Antonio Spurs won their first NBA Championship becoming the first ABA team since the NBA/ABA merger. Why is that special to me because I was an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach on that team!!!
At my wife’s instance and best mate’s prodding I’m gonna start sharing stories from my life. I honestly never thought anyone would really care about my journey but when I do tell stories I get so many unbelievable responses that motivate me to share more.
That and after some of the concussions I’ve had maybe I can go back and re-read the stories when my mind is fuzzy and realize that I lived a great life!!! It’s not been all rainbows and unicorns…. Actually far from it but I’ve managed to do some amazing things and meet some wonderful people along the way.
It’s often been said that “I write or tell stories of training fiction to make a point about training reality” which is close to the truth although much of what I talk and write about is truth but the names, dates and places have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty alike.
Stories are how we use to share history and stories are the best way to learn. I’ve always been a huge fan of the stories that I’ve read though the year not much of a fan of boring ‘matter of fact’ tellings so I’ll do my best to keep things interesting. Now anyone that knows me know I love to tell stories but I’ll tell you right now that they won’t be in any specific order, sorry my brain just doesn’t work that way!!
Please feel free to go back through the blogs on my website and read some of the stories I’ve already shared.
Let's get to looking back at a life well lived. I hope y'all enjoy.
Play Hard...Train Harder...NO EXCUSES
Well the first month of the training program and judging by the emails and text messages that I've been receiving the training is going very well. Athletes are loving having a dedicated program that they feel is making them better and that was in the first 4 week block just wait until the next block is completed.
It's been going so well and I've gotten quite a few inquiries about starting another group that I'm going to open the training up to another group of dedicated and hard working Rugby Forwards!! If this is you then scroll down the page a few for the particulars on getting started.
I will make the same offer and the timing will be good for you Forwards ending the program about the end of September just in time for a little PreSeason Training leading into the start of the real 15's season which is generally in January.
So what do you say.... wanna join in and take your game to a whole new level??
If you do then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
PLAY HARD...TRAIN HARDER... NO EXCUSES
On a cold November day in 1997 in a field in Salado Texas I found the sport that would take my competitive spirit to a different level.
I was a Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Baylor University and was conditioning the softball teawhen saw a guy throwing stones and weights so I asked my girls about it and they told me that was Coach Boynes the volunteer throws coach and that he competed in something called Scottish Highland Games, they didn’t know what it was but they knew that he wore a kilt.
They must have thought I had lost my mind when I just walked down to the bottom of the hill telling them that I'd be right back then smiling and telling them that training was over!! It was as we were just stretching and talking about the next day's training plan.
I’d been a faithful and passionate subscriber to MILO magazine since the very first edition and saw article after article about the Scottish Highland Games and I had asked so many people how to get into these games but couldn’t find any information. I was leaving competing in powerlifting and wanted something new to challenge my competitive spirit so to see this man at the bottom of the hill that we were running thawing weights and stones I just gravitated towards him.
I introduced myself and Coach Boynes invited me to train with him taking time to teach me and explain the events and history of the Games. I remember this was a Tuesday night and he told me there was a Highland Games competition that weekend not too far from Baylor and that he could get me into the games to compete. I told him that I hadn’t thrown in some 15 years or so and he just looked at me and said “Yeah so…. You want to compete or not?”
Now it’s now early on a Saturday morning and the field still has its morning dew on it and the bustling of the festival getting ready to open had my senses on high. I was introduced to Earl Linza who was the Athletic Director (throughout Texas, Louisiana & Mississippi) and he was more than happy to take my $20 entry fee and tell me Good Luck and YES I had a kilt because …. well because doesn’t everyone own a kilt??!!
What a day I had and at the end of it I was hooked. I came into work on Monday morning and began planning my training exactly like I did for so many of my athletes. I went right to my MILO magazines to see what weekends games were usually on and I wrote to every athletic director for an entry into their games for 1998!!! Yeah back then you either called the AD or you wrote him to get an entry form that you filled out and mailed back with a check!!!
I competed until 2014 when injury robbed me of the joy I felt every time I laced up my throwing shoes and wiped the morning dew off my stone. I’ve struggled since then not just working to recover from 2 Achilles tendon ruptures and heart surgery but because my training has no focus, no motivation, no direction and Lord knows I have tried everything to soothe my competitive spirit that runs deep inside my heart and soul but I always come back to Scottish Heavy Athletics where I enjoyed every bit of the training and competing along with sharing the field with great friends and of course sharing a meal and a beer or 3 after the Games were over...truth be told if I had 3 beers I'd be face down on the floor!!! Yes I am a cheap date!!
I’ve grown tired (and a little angry at myself) of allowing my injuries to define or dictate what it is I want to do in my life…. I feel like I’ve lost my way a little for not doing what it is that I love to do.
I have decided to come out of the retirement that was forced on me and take my place on the field once again. I will be competing a few times this summer and early fall and then in November 2021 I will be compete at the Masters World Championships in Austin Texas, ironically not that far (in Texas driving standards) from where it all started in November of 1997 in a field in Salado Texas.
Now I don’t expect many of you to understand what goes on in my heart or head… hell I barely understand at times!! Especially when the voices in my head start arguing with each other!! I have other physical goals in mind as well all of it working towards Raising Awareness to Heart Diease in Strength Sports. There was always something missing after my recovery from bypass surgery and for me maybe not you, but for me it’s always been the training and the competitions. There has always been something special about getting on the field early in the morning feeling the grass beneath my feet and the weight in my hand or the stone pressed up against my head.
I refuse for another day that is left in my life to allow the injuries or circumstances that I have no control of to control my life!!!
You can cheer for me and/or follow my training on Instagram or here on my website where I'll post much of my training or you can do like most timid souls and not even try to understand and talk shit about my decision .... of course that' crap has never really worked on me
PLAY HARD... TRAIN HARDER... NO EXCUSES
Cheers and Thank You for your interest in the 12 week Off Season Tight 5 Program.
The response has been overwhelming and makes me even more excited to offer this program.
The Program cost is $300 for the 12 weeks.
This Program of General Physical Preparation will be 3 Blocks each lasting 4 weeks and building towards PreSeason Training.
Off Season is when we get Strong, Powerful and Fit BUT also working on being a ‘Complete Athlete’. It does no good to make gains that don’t transfer to the rugby pitch so you MUST continue to work on your rugby skills and rugby IQ. Fitness is important but it’s more than just mindless running especially for the ‘BIGS’ of the Tight 5, so there will be Work Capacity Builders within the program that are sure to get your heart beating!!! Mobility and Flexibility Training is also built into the program.
Block 1 - Building Strength and Body Armor (building lean muscle mass)
Block 2 - Building Explosive Strength and Power
Block 3 - Building Athletic Strength and Power
We will chat twice a month to make sure that you are progressing and you’ll also be able to send me videos of your lifting for coaching analysis. In addition we will do a group ZOOM Call once a month to discuss training and I am trying to line up a few of my former/current athletes to join us. Once we start the training we will find a day/time that works and I will record it for those that can’t make it.
All this for $300!!! Payment will be collected via PayPal.
The program is yours forever, you can come back to it anytime.
Any further questions please email me at email@example.com
Over the years on my social media accounts I've put up my training for presses and pulling using thick bars. Since most are homemade they don't spin and that is alright with me because I'm using them to make my training HARDER not easier. The tremendous stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments makes this a great training tool.
Grabbing a thick barbell or dumbbell will have you feeling like you're grabbing a damn telephone pole!!! Safety first here.... always and I mean always do your pressing inside of a power rack because of the thickness and the fact that it will roll out of your hands you have to protect yourself. Usually the thick bar work is performed starting on the pins set at various points but DO NOT let the bar simply crash back to the pins this will for sure get you kicked out of most gyms and honestly there ain't enough gyms out there that cater to the more hard-core lifter. I'm telling you this from personal experience, as much as I travel for coaching I can attest to the difficulty in finding a gym with the equipment that I need to train.
Using thick bars will develop unparalleled open hand grip strength, forearm, wrist, finger and thumb strength. If you've used a thick bar then you know the thumb is hard at work for sure while the barbell or thick handled dumbbell like the one you can find at IronMind which brings me to another benefit and that is and that is the FEAR FACTOR.. don't drop that damn thing on your chest or head!!! I'd also say that there is a mind-body connection beyond the fear factor, when you grab that Fat Bar and lock in your grip to start the pull on a power clean or just a pull that damn thing is fighting you all way..... to me it's a ME vs YOU and dammit I'm determined to win that battle.
You want to make sure that you strengthen your body not damage it so you be best to follow a few simple rules.
1. Set your body tight
2. Do not just press the bar off the pins, you have to flex your shoulders and elbows then you drive into to until it begins to move then you can jam that damn thing up
3. When lowering the bar back to the pins you want to control it the whole way so I play a game and that is to set the bar back on the pins as quiet as possible. I really emphasis this on the final rep coming down super slow and this is more of a fuck you to the bar because I refuse to let it beat me!!!
4. Set up for the next rep exactly the same do not get in a hurry.
For Pressing I'll usually set the bar right at my chest or chin and perform 5-4-3-2-1 working to the heaviest possible single for today. This requires some thinking on your part to plan out the weight to use on those first sets so it can help you as you learn to challenge yourself for the number of reps that you have assigned. I don't miss reps very often in training, I plan out what I'm gonna do for the reps that are written. I'm challenging myself to get stronger and more powerful not to stay the same.
I do a lot of barbell rows in my training so I like doing 2 weeks on a regular bar then I'll throw in the fat bar for a week before going back to the barbell. Don't be scared.... get some power cleans with the Fat Bar.
I also do double arm and single arm holds.... why do that with a regular barbell... same goes for curls!!
Challenge Yourself and grab a fat bar!!!
PLAY HARD...TRAIN HARDER... NO EXCUSES
Everyone knows that I competed in Scottish Heavy Athletics otherwise known as the Highland Games for a long time before I was forced off the throwing field because of an incompetent doctor who repaired my Achilles. If you want to read the story then please scroll down the blogs and read the story.
Later I’ll write about my time traveling the world throwing heavy shit and turning big cabers but this is about a man that had a huge impact on my career today I want to write about Ryan Vierra and his impact on my throwing career.
In a field on a cold Texas winter’s day in February I was competing at my buddy Shadow’s games held on his huge property with some serious colorful characters like Shadow’s brother Mayhem who was later killed while he was a bodyguard for DimeBag Darrel (former Pantera guitarist), athletes from as far away as Canada and as close as Austin and there was a huge physical presence with professional Highland games athlete World Champion Ryan Vierra now let’s just say it …… a damm stud and top of the proverbial food chain. He was there to judge on Saturday and then the next day armed with his observations he held a throws clinic. Coaching us with drills to correct our different issues that he saw and then talking about strength and power training that would help take each of us to a new level. Yeah he did all this for $50….$50 damn dollars for a day long clinic and ended with Ryan out there throwing bombs that had us just standing there with our mouths hanging open and shagging his weights like ‘giggling school girls’!!!
I would go on to form an unbreakable bond and friendship with Ryan. I talked to him often, back when you actually called people, I’ve gone out to California to be coached by him and like all athletes that went to see him we stayed as a guest in his home. Ryan picked you up at the airport and took you to one of his favorite restaurants that served huge portions of Polynesian food then the next morning you’d get up and eat a huge breakfast then spend hours upon hours throwing before lunch of a huge burrito that if you finished it you’d get it for free before lifting weights, jumping and throwing medicine balls then doing throwing drills until you got it right before being fed steaks and enjoyed a few beers while watching videos and being coached even more until the early hours of the morning….. you’d do this for a few days before going home not just a better thrower but a better person. Every time I was on the same field as Ryan he would take a minute to watch my throws and remind me of what I was doing wrong or what I was doing right…. think more wrong than right at some competitions!!!! Hahaha!!!
Just as important as the throwing were the meals after the competition then of course the quest to find some ice cream and snacks for the hotel room to be ready for the next day’s throwing!!
Because of Ryan Vierra I had a wonderful career throwing stones, heavy weights and turning big cabers while traveling the USA and eventually the World. Besides his personal coaching Ryan and either Kurt or Jason Pauli (I can't remember and I'm too lazy to get up and look) put out some great instructional videos on VHS with drills and old 70's porn music!!! I still have them....hahaha!!!
It's through massive tears running down my cheeks that I will tell you that my mentor, my coach, MY FRIEND is battling prostate cancer and is currently in hospice so please say a little prayer for Ryan, his wonderful wife and daughters.
FUCK CANCER - the medical, research and pharmaceutical community can find a way to get rid of wrinkles on a person's face, find a vaccine in a couple months for COVID-19 and more but can't unlock and find a cure for cancer or maybe it's such a money maker that y'all just don't want to find a cure.
Thank You Ryan for everything
Play Hard...Train Harder...NO EXCUSES
It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and written anything besides training programs so please bear with me as I get back to something that I really enjoy.
I’ll write about the athletes that I work with and those that I have worked with (and where they are now), my travels spreading my love and passion for Strength and Power Training and those that have had an impact on my journey and finally my time with NOLA Gold Rugby (giving folks an inside look at professional rugby in America and how Americans are treated when it comes to positions on the coaching staff)
BUT what I will write about the most is my coaching and training for the Tight 5 Rugby Forwards which will, of course include those loose forwards who understand the importance of being strong, powerful and explosive whether its in the scrum, lineout or rucking and tackling and my own personal passion of Old Strong Guys Rule because unless you’re on ‘Old Strong Dude’ working to stay strong and powerful still training with passion through everything that life can throw at you AND competing in sports NOT content with sitting on the couch yelling at the TV while telling anyone who will listen your tales from middle school … then how the hell can you tell me how a Masters Athlete needs to train.
Play Hard… Train Harder… NO EXCUSES
And I’ll explain the tag line above and how it came to be!!!!
So let’s get started………
I miss my Dad.... Every. Single. Damn. Day.
If you know me then you know that my Dad and I never had the normal 'father/son' relationship that so many of you out there enjoy with your fathers and so when I see the young men that I coach struggle with the dynamics of this important relationship I share with them stories from own personal struggle. First off, my Dad was a great provider for his family and he worked hard on a production line at Ford Motor Company spray painting whatever came down the line. This was at a time of very little work place safety and I know my Dad inhaled enough lead paint to kill him several times over. He also grew up in a rough time in an even rougher city, the East Side of Detroit. He shared few stories but when he did they involved alcohol, mischief, and the beatings of so called discipline he'd get when he got caught. Unfortunately when that's what you're taught that's what you share...my Dad was quick tempered with the beatings he'd give me. Not saying I didn't deserve punishment but I did not ever deserve to be beaten like I was leaving me with marks all over my body but at this time in the world that was seen as punishment and folks concluded that I must be a bad kid. I remember that was the reason I was given when I was kicked out of Boy Scouts. I also remember finally getting into a basketball game in the 6th grade. I was so excited when Coach called my name I stripped off my warm ups and ran to the scorer's table when Coach called me back and said to put my warm ups back on, you see I had done something wrong I don't remember what it was but my Dad had taken his weightlifting belt to me and I had so many belt marks on my body that the Coach concluded 'I must be a bad kid'. Unfortunately there are too many memories of no one protecting me, no one asking me what was going on at home or I could have shared with them the drunken bastard I tried to escape every weekend. Not my teachers in school, not the coaches in the CYO where I played sports, not my Pastor at church, not the cops I came in contact with, not our neighbors, not my own family, not anyone.....so maybe I was just a bad kid who deserved the beatings that I got.
My mom finally had enough and left but that's other story. My dad continued to drink until one day driving his drunk ass home he got in a car wreck and talked his way out of it with his old Detroit Police ID, yep he had been a Detroit Cop at one time until he had seen enough. Anyways, he was woken to the sound of the Baptist Church next door, a sound he complained about waking him up on Sunday mornings only this time he didn't complain he got up looked at himself in the mirror and was disgusted at the man looking back. He cleaned himself up and walked next door and asked God to forgive him and was Baptized that day and from that day forward my Dad never touched another drop of alcohol again and became a man of great faith believing in the same Bible he once told me was the most beautiful piece of fiction ever written. I still carry the Bible he gave me while I in the Army and was getting ready to go deep undercover and he also helped me understand my feelings from having shot and killed a person in the line of duty.
With the help of my wonderful wife Sally over the years my Dad and I slowly repaired our relationship. I worked hard to set aside my anger of him rarely being there for me to accepting the man he was and the man he was working to become and one day I decided to forgive him and put it all behind us. I loved and looked forward to his and Carol's visits to Texas. Some of the funnest times was watching him and Sally interact. I love my Dad dearly and I miss him so much that some days it just hurts inside. Those days I hold tight the Bible he gave me and reflect on the good and caring man he was. Unfortunately, 4 years ago the battle against his demons got to be too much as he had injured his hip and was getting no relief from the doctors. He was afraid to loose his battle and fall backwards into the bottle so he decided that his only option was to take his own life.
So many memories both bad and good so I choose to think about the good and I share the bad as a lessons in overcoming and forgiveness. So those of you who's Dads have always been there PLEASE give them a thank you and some love.
I was able to get 2 training sessions at the gym in addition to my 2 physical therapy sessions. Of course I pushed myself hard and left the gym wondering if I was going to be able to get in up into my truck. What a wonderful feeling waking up from a nap with my body sore. Sitting on the edge of the bed wondering if I really wanted to try this walking thing or not!! It's nice that the pain was from training and not the debilitating pain that I've had to deal with for the past year or more. Still I am only 12 weeks from massive surgery and it is going to take a lot of time to fully heal especially since the doctor had to clean off and reattach my Achilles and by clean off I mean scrap the calcification off of tendon.
I was feeling really good and both sessions were intense but a little nervous during the sessions and since most people just don't understand how damn scary it is coming back from major injuries where you constantly wonder if you'll push too hard and re-injure yourself. So call me whatever you want but unless you've gone through it (more than once there sweetheart) then just shut your pie hole!!!
Everyone you meet has a story and I have always been somewhat reluctant to share my stories of perseverance because there are some folks who are worse off than myself but over the years with the battles I have waged in 2012 with my left Achilles then in 2014 with my heart attack and triple bypass surgery. I have received so many messages from people telling me how I have inspired them or given them hope because when I have chosen to speak up I am not shy about my personal struggle not always sharing the glory but also the defeat that comes with this journey. Dusting yourself off and getting your ass back in the game of life makes you a champion not just a participant.
I have decided to share more of the journey of my rehabilitation and also to go back and share the battles I waged in 2012 & 2014 because this is MY STORY OF MY PERSONAL BATTLES TO GET BACK TO MY PLACE IN THE WORLD OF STRENGTH SPORTS and LIFE and if it helps one person then its damn sure worth getting out of my comfort zone and sharing.
Throughout my life and especially over these past years I have persevered though so much because I just do not know any other way to do it. I love pushing my body well beyond any conceived limitations and injury is just part of the journey. When people ask me or learn of the battles I have waged they usually walk off shaking their head. Shit I’m not going to lie, sometimes I stand back myself and wonder just how in the hell I have not just survived this long but have succeeded where most have failed.
As I shared over on social media, it's been 12 weeks since the surgery and about 15 weeks since rupturing my Achilles. As I have had plenty of time to look back at this journey and the first thing I realized is that I had been in pain for well over a year to a point where it began to effect my training and coaching then my daily life when walking became so painful I would be forced to limp and those changes to my gait patterns lead to additional problems with my hip, knee and ankle. Shit, a couple hour drive would have me crying out in pain then because of the inflammation and swelling of my Achilles, ankle and foot the skin on my heel began to crack and bleed this went on for 7 months where it certainly began to affect my quality of life. Imagine sitting on the edge of the bed and just the simple task of your first steps would have you in so much pain that you would damn near be in tears not wanting your heel to touch the ground but you can't walk for even a short distance on your toes because your Achilles won't let you. I also had an impressive big ole knob right where the Achilles attaches to the heel that I swear I bumped 20 times a day and that pain would send me to my knees, hell it got so bad that that there were times I couldn't wear shoes.
More than enough times I got told to go see a doctor....yeah no shit geez why I didn't think of that!!! I saw the doctor that saved my ass back in 2012 after my other Achilles surgery had gotten infected and a couple other orthopedic surgeons about my problem and solutions that friends over in the UK and in New Zealand had found for the same basic type of injury but I got the same response over and over again... Oh that's considered experimental here in the US so the insurance company won't cover that. So my option was to simply wait for it to rupture and pray it didn't rupture at a bad time like walking back with a heavy squat or trying to run across the street... by the way I'd like to offer a sincere FUCK YOU to UNITED HEALTHCARE and the rest of you insurance assholes for not covering jack shit but you have no problem collecting the premiums every month!!!
Play Hard...Train Harder...NO EXCUSES