Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Starting Over and Getting Strong(er) All Over Again - By Jeff "T-Rex" Bankens

It has been a while since I have written an article for Bob, and I can honestly say that, as of the writing of this article, I am in one of the strongest places I have ever been in my life. This is, in large part, thanks to a couple of guys that have invested time in me as a person and as a lifter. One of them, of course, is "Maximum" Bob Whelan.

I have talked about this in other articles, but I believe it is worth mentioning again. About a year and a half ago, Bob gave me the gift of strength all over again. What I mean, is that he helped me take a step back, analyze my current training system, and see that it had some major holes.

The toughest thing (at first), was knowing that I had to "start over". The reason was that I had to take a lot of the "fluff" & "fads" out of my programming , and then transitioned to 2 full body workouts plus 2 (or 3) cardio days, per week. It is nothing fancy, just hard, heavy, & consistent lifting using the basics. I have a very simple home gym setup. My workouts are performed with barbells, dumbbells, a trap bar, a treadmill, and a few other useful tools. The transition back to "the basics" was quite a change, and took a break-in period. While this was a tough pill to swallow, it literally changed my life.

The other changes I speak of occurred shortly after I implemented the changes Bob helped me make. First, I was given the opportunity to train one on one with the best living old time strongman in the world. Next, I was given the chance to prepare for a four night children's revival at a local church, coming up later this year.

You see, I have the privilege of being a lifter, an old time strongman, and a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

With all of these changes and opportunities happening, I became (and still am) pressed for spare time. Beside ministering, performing, and lifting (all three are "hobbies"), I have a full-time job, a wife, and a three year old "big boy" named Isaac.

With all of this going on in my life, I have learned of the importance of three things:

Setting Attainable Goals will help keep you focused. These days I am working on making my body as strong and healthy as possible for the long haul while also becoming more proficient at the feats of strength I perform. I also have to have time to pray, write sermons, and put together a different program of feats for each night of the revival. None of this could ever come together without properly set, attainable goals.

Getting connected with the right mentors in life will help you attain the goals you set. If not for Bob and the other gentleman I spoke of earlier, there would be no Jeff "TRex" Bankens at this time. Because of their generous investments in me, I will get to carry on their legacies. This means that their investment in me will (God willing) bear fruit. I now get to invest what I have learned in others, including my own son. I would like to point out that mentors have been instrumental in every area of my life. In business, health, relationships, etc. Surrounding yourself with the right people is one of the best investments you can make. 

Decide today that you will never give in and quit. Life is but a vapor, it goes by fast. Do not waste it. Once you have found an attainable goal (or goals) that drive you, and you have been surrounded by the right people to help you attain these goals, decide here and now, that you will see these goals to completion.

Am I saying that if you follow these three principles you will become happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise? Or, that you will become anything that you think about, no matter what? No, not at all. I am simply saying that you will become a success, and your life will not have been lived in vain.

In just the short time I have implemented these principals into my life, I have achieved some lifting goals that used to only be dreams of mine:

1 set of 20 reps in the trap bar deadlift with 300 lbs. prior to this, I had not lifted 300 lbs. for more than 5-10 reps in any lift. This was a big boost to me mentally. My next goal is to achieve 2 sets of 10 with 400 lbs. Once this is done, I will set my sights on 1 set of 20 reps with the same weight.

A 134 lbs. Bent press with an oversized circus dumbbell. I did not even start training this lift until November of 2016. My goal is to be lifting around 150 lbs. before the children's revival later this year.

These are but two of the many goals I have been able to achieve since implementing these principles in my life. I know there are more things coming down the road, and once again, I am excited to see what lies ahead of me in my lifting career.

In conclusion, I would like to say that (up to this point), I have not ever been as sure of a training system and the direction my life is heading, as I am now. It is because God blessed me with the opportunity to implement three things in my life: 1- I set attainable goals for my life, 2- I was able to be surrounded with the right people that helped me attain those goals, and 3- I decided that I would not quit until those goals were achieved. I have also learned that once those goals are achieved, I will have to set new goals, attain them, and pass on what I have learned to others. Doing this over and over throughout your lifetime will allow you to leave a legacy that you would never be able to build on your own. You will truly be a success, in the gym, in your life and family, and (most importantly), in eternity.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Getting Back To Basics - By Jim Duggan

      Every lifter and strength athlete began their training journey doing similar exercises. Regardless of how old you were when you first wrapped your hands around a barbell, we all began with simple movements. The basics. Presses, Squats, Curls, Bench Presses. Perhaps, if you were fortunate enough to have been exposed to the proper training information and guidance, you also learned to do Deadlifts.  But, even without Deadlifts, a beginner can make tremendous gains in strength and size by sticking to the basic, multi-joint movements. No need for isolation movements ( lateral raises, concentration curls, pushdowns) because hard, heavy work on the basics was all that was needed to become bigger and stronger. And as long as the gains continued, then all was right with the world. Until, however, the lifters hit the inevitable plateau.
     Every person who has ever lifted weights has hit a sticking point in their training. That time when the gains slowed, and eventually stopped. Overtraining,  or simply the fact that the body has simply adapted to whatever stresses you have imposed on it, is the bane of all strength athletes. And while there are many solutions to this condition, ranging from a simple tweaking of your workout routine to taking a break from training, most lifters make the mistake of completely overhauling their entire strength training program. Abandoning the movements that have been the staples of their routines, and replacing them with inferior exercises. Or simply not doing any heavy exercises at all. Sometimes they will revert to a program consisting solely of bodyweight exercises. Maybe they will do a bodybuilding program of "pumping movements." In any event,  their strength will wane, their size will decrease, and their motivation could very well disappear for good.
     The absolute best thing to do at this point is to reevaluate your training, your goals, and the plan by which you will achieve your goals.  And while your goals might not have changed, time and other necessities might have caused you to make changed to your lifting routine that is causing you to fall off track insofar as it relates to achieving your goals. The solution to your lack of progress might very well be to return to the movements that have worked in the past. Exercises that have helped countless people get bigger and stronger over the years. I will offer my own training as an example.
     Over the last several years, I have avoided training in commercial gyms, for the most part. I rationalized this decision by noting that most gyms are woefully lacking in quality equipment. Shoddy bars, old free weights, lack of quality machines, plus the ever present crowd of pampers and toners made the gym experience something that I wanted to avoid. And while I was able to train effectively at home with a selection of weights, dumbbells, stones, and anvils, my training was not as complete as it should have been. I was not doing Military Presses, Squats, or barbell Deadlifts. Yes, Dumbbell Deadlifts are an effective movement ( particular if done for high reps) but they are not the same as heavy Deadlifts with a bar.  I was doing DB Presses, DB Deadlifts, weighted Step-Ups, and lifting my stones. And while I was making gains, and getting stronger,  there was still something that was lacking. I was missing that feeling you can only get from doing heavy, low-Rep Deadlifts. That feeling you experience from doing heavy Deadlifts that we've all experienced. That indescribable "hit by a truck feeling" that only Deadlifts can provide.
     At the beginning of the year, I joined a commercial gym and began doing the basic barbell movements again. Yes, the gym is not a serious lifting facility. But I was doing the basics again. However, there was one minor issue: The weights were not round, they were a ten-sided polygon that didn't allow for the bar to be placed on the ground smoothly. It's difficult to describe in words, but imagine having plates shaped like STOP signs, and loading them onto a bar and lifting it. Not a favorable situation. But it was a situation that is easily corrected. I ordered a Texas Power Bar, and, along with my York weights, I am able to do Deadlifts at home. And while it is not unusual for someone to do Deadlifts in the comfort of their home, I am willing to bet that not too many people get to Deadlifts in their living room! Since my home is built on a concrete slab, there is no basement.  Nor do I have a garage. So, the only solution is to lift in my living room. Not your usual workout facility, but I am doing heavy Deadlifts again, so, who cares about amenities? My whole body feels stronger, and the Deadlifts have even carried over into my stone lifting. So why complain about barbells in the living room?
     It doesn't get any more basic than the Deadlift. And with a first-class bar, quality weights, and a renewed enthusiasm, what more can I possibly want?


Thursday, June 8, 2017

One Year Update - By R.J. Hicks

1 year later training at

Over the past year I have had the privilege to train with Bob Whelan through his site I've gained more in this past year training with Coach Whelan than my last 9 years of training combined. My bodyweight has climbed nearly 20 solid pounds in a year with all of my lifts increasing between 20-90 pounds. Furthermore, the knowledge I have gained in strength training, coaching and the iron game is insurmountable.

Coach Whelan is far more than a strength coach, he is a teacher, motivator, and a mentor. Through our many phone calls, I have been able to gain insight to the most important principles of strength training, enabling me to sort between the "has-beens" and the "good guys" in the field today. I've been able to form my own strength training philosophy while keeping an open mind to the fact that many other methods and tools work as long as they stay in line with the fundamentals of strength training. Coach Whelan expects a lot whether through my increases in poundage, commitment to eating, or academics to become a strength coach. None-the-less, coach Whelan is always there to provide positive encouragement and to remind me of my end goal. Most importantly, I receive a great deal of mentoring from Coach Whelan on a weekly basis. We talk about the importance of  education through degrees, which certifications to receive, books to read, and future business strategies. I cannot be more grateful for the opportunity to train with Bob Whelan and I look forward to our next year of training together.

Lt. R.J. Hicks
Malmstrom AFB, Montana

R.J. ... Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure working with you.  Keep going strong!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

All You Want to Know About Peanut Butter - By Nancy Clark, MS, RD

This month's article addresses one of the all-time favorite sports foods: peanut butter. As you ramp-up your summer-time activities, peanut butter can be center-stage for your sports diet! Thanks for sharing it with your readers.


In my humble opinion, peanut butter (PB) is one of the best sports foods around. Not only is it yummy, it is also health-promoting and performance enhancing. A review of the research on peanuts validates why I routinely choose to enjoy two (!) PB sandwiches a day: one for lunch and the other to curb late-afternoon hunger.

If you are among the many athletes who try to stay away from peanut butter because it is fattening or too fatty, think again and keep reading (as long as you are not allergic to peanuts, that is). The purpose of this article is to educate you about the value of PB in a diet for sports-active people of ages and athletic abilities—as well as their parents and grandparents.

• PB is not inherently fattening. While any food eaten in excess can be fattening, people who eat PB (and nuts, for that matter) five or more times a week are not fatter than nut avoiders. A Purdue University study (1) reports subjects who ate peanuts daily did not overeat total calories for the day. That’s because peanuts and PB are satiating; they help you feel pleasantly fed. Peanut eaters tend to intuitively eat less at other times of the day.

• PB offers many health benefits. The fat in PB is primarily health-promoting mono- and poly- unsaturated fat that knocks down inflammation. People who eat PB and nuts five or more times a week have lower markers of inflammation than nut avoiders. For athletes who get micro-injuries every time they train, an anti-inflammatory food such as PB is a wise choice.

• Compared to nut avoiders, unhealthy women (with type 2 diabetes) who ate 1.5 oz. (250 calories) of peanuts (and/or nuts) five or more times a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 44% and the risk of having a heart attack by 60% (2). Routinely swapping a burger for a simple-to-make PB sandwich is a heart-healthy choice.

• PB, like all sources of plant protein, reduces that risk of developing Type II diabetes. A breakfast with PB offers a positive “second meal effect.” This means, it helps control blood glucose through lunchtime and into the afternoon. Stable energy—and a reduced desire to eat. (3)

• The fat in PB helps absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. You want to include some (healthful) fat in each meal; PB is a painless way to do so!

* If you are an endurance athlete, such as a marathoner or cyclist, you’ll optimize your sports diet by eating at least 0.5 grams fat per pound of body weight. The body stores some fat within muscle cells and uses it for fuel during extended exercise. PB in oatmeal before a long bike ride or a PB & J sandwich on a long bike ride are yummy and healthy ways to enjoy adequate dietary fat. Fat-phobic athletes (who avoid fat) can hinder their endurance.

• PB is a good source of arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels flexible so that blood flows more easily and reduces blood pressure. The more PB you eat, the bigger the effect on health protection.

• What’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. Research suggests PB eaters improve their brain-blood circulation and mental function. This contributes to enhanced processing speed and better short-term memory (4). Plus, a diet rich in healthy fats helps slow cognitive decline. Given the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases exponentially with age, eating PB and nuts today is a wise investment in your future brain health.

•Peanuts offer slightly more protein than nuts. That’s because peanuts are a legume (like lentils and dried beans) and not a nut. One serving (2 tablespoons) of PB has 8 grams of protein, while 2 Tbsp. almond butter has 6 grams (at a much higher price!) Athletes want to target about 20 grams of protein per meal or snack. You can get that by swirling PB into oatmeal cooked in (soy) milk, enjoying a PB & honey sandwich with a yogurt, or making a PB-banana smoothie. Quick, easy, and inexpensive.

• PB contains numerous bioactive compounds (phenols) that bolster the immune system. Spanish peanuts and shell peanuts are particularly wise snack choices because the peanut skin is rich in anti-oxidants and fiber. Fiber feeds gut-bacteria (your microbiome); these bacteria strongly enhance your immune system, overall health and mood.

•All peanuts are non-GMO and have low risk of pesticide residue, in part because peanuts grow under the ground.

• Is all natural peanut butter far better than Skippy of Jif? All types of PB need to meet a “standard of identity” as defined by the USDA. Conventional brands might have 2% added saturated fat (palm oil, hydrogenated oils) to control the oil from separating. This small amount does not over-ride the positive health benefits of PB.

• What about all the sugar added to Skippy and Jiff PB? “All” that sugar is only 2 or 3 grams. That’s nothing compared to the 10 to 15 grams of sugar in the jelly or honey you might enjoy with the PB, or the 6 g sugar in the sandwich bread. Regardless, sugar fuels your muscles. Please fret less about added sugar and focus more on PB’s zinc, folate, vitamin E, niacin, and selenium. It is nutrient-rich.

• What about all that sodium in PB? The 150 mg. sodium in a serving of PB is less than the sodium you get in one slice of bread or 12-ounces of Gatorade. Regardless, as an athlete, you want to replace sodium you lose in sweat.

• But what if I can’t eat just one spoonful…? If you stay away from PB because you can’t eat just a reasonable serving, think again. Overindulging in PB means you like it; you should eat it more often! By enjoying PB at every meal, in a few days, you will stop craving it. No more binges!

Avoiding peanut butter just sets you up for “last chance eating.” You know, I just blew my diet by eating PB so I’d better keep eating it. Last chance before I go back on my diet. Denial and deprivation of PB lead to overeating. Do not deny yourself of this yummy sports food. You will deprive your body of valuable health benefits!

Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD has a private practice in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875), where she helps both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes create winning food plans. Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and food guides for marathoners, cyclists and soccer are available at For workshops, see .

(1) Alper, Int'l J Obesity 26:1129, 2002)
(2) Li, Nutr 138(7):1333-8
(3) Reis, Br J Nutr 109(11):2015-23, 2013
(4) Barbour Nutr Neurosci July 7:1-8, 2016

 "Helping active people win with good nutrition."

Friday, May 26, 2017

Get Off Omeprazole! - By Bob Whelan

If you have frequent heartburn or acid reflux, its hard to quit omeprazole because IT FEELS LIKE IT WORKS. (And Larry the Cable Guy has those great Prilosec commercials.)

Prilosec (omeprazole) gets rid of the burning sensation, yes, but it only makes the root cause of the problem worse. Acid reflux is caused by too little acid in your stomach, ... not too much. The reflux is caused by your stomach trying to spread the "too little" acid around like a washing machine on spin dry.

Omeprazole is a "Proton pump inhibitor, ... a group of drugs whose main action is a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production." (Wikipedia) Besides making the problem worse, the long term side effects of omeprazole are huge, (from kidney damage to irregular heart beat), and not worth the risk. Google it and see for yourself.  Not to mention the growth of bad bacteria in your gut that needs stomach acid to keep it under control. The uncontrolled growth of the bad bacteria in your gut, (due to lack of stomach acid), can lead to all sorts of serious health problems.

A better alternative is Apple Cider Vinegar. I've been using it now every day for over a year. No more heartburn at all. It tastes like crap but you get used to it. I take 2 table spoons in a glass of water, once or twice a day. If I use it once, it is before bed. I usually mix a heaping big kitchen spoon of Metamucil in with it. The mix is good for you and makes the ACV taste a lot better. 

Many brands of ACV are worthless. They are processed, pasteurized and the main beneficial nutritional and pro-biotic elements, (The Mother), are destroyed. Make sure you buy ACV "With the Mother" ... In unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar, this beneficial group of bacteria and acids remains and creates the murky web-like Mother.  MAKE SURE it says "With the Mother" on any ACV you buy or you are just wasting your money. The best brand to get is BRAGG but WHITE HOUSE is also good. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Real Men Do Grip Work - By Bob Whelan (An Oldie But Goodie from 1996!)

The article was originally published in Osmo Kiiha's great magazine: The Iron Master, In the January 1996 (No.19) edition. Things have changed for the better in the last 21 years. I have to give most of the credit for this to Randy Strossen at Iron Mind. A lot more people now seriously train grip compared to 1996, thats for sure.

All those (past and present) who are "one of us" do grip work -- period. Toners and buffers don't do grip work. In fact, they've never heard of it! In "Spa-Land" you will find every type of gadget, gimmick, or "miracle" supplement, but you won't find thick bars, weaver sticks, telegraph keys, steel suitcases, or even wrist rollers. Even the most "roid-pumped" freaks won't bother with grip work -- the cosmetic payback is too low for them. They are interested only in things that make them look good for the bar scene. Only the serious, dedicated, knowledgeable, proud, and few understand the importance of it. Grip work separates the men from the boys and the phonies from the true "men or iron." I believe that grip work should henceforth be known as the litmus test for membership in the Iron Game/Physical Culture Fraternity.

Take a look at the guys you respect, the ones who have a passion for what they preach. Take, for example, Kim Wood, Dr. Ken, Vic Boff, Osmo Kiiha, and Randy Strossen, just to name a few -- they are all into grip work big time. Coach Bob Hise II (Mav- Rik), who is a walking Iron Game encyclopedia (and who began his competitive Olympic lifting career in 1929), states, "Everything starts with the hands. The first thing I do when I take on a new lifter is stress the importance of grip work. You will never get close to doing your best without it. You need strong hands for every lift -- even squatting."

Our Iron Game heritage is filled with stories that feature the old-timers doing serious grip work. Take, for example, John Davis' clean of 308 with a 2" thick bar; Bob People's deadlift of 725-3/4 with both palms forward; Al Berger doing pinch grip chins from his 2x12 ceiling beams; Hermann Goerner's one-handed deadlift with 727-1/2 pounds; and Thomas Inch's one-handed deadlift of 172 pounds with a 2.47" inch thick handled dumbbell. Warren Lincoln Travis, with just his right middle finger, lifted over 600 pounds. Ask Vic Boff about the importance of grip work. He was a champion at the art of finger twisting, which was very popular years ago. John Grimek set the record in the weaver stick lift with 11 pounds with his right hand. Apollon's thick axle bar is still widely talked about today. Ian Bachelor could crush metal beercaps between his thumb and each of his four fingers.

Guys who do grip work are tough and are proud to have strong, hard, thick, callused hands. Serious grip work builds mental toughness, too! Do one entire workout using just thick bars of at least 2" in diameter, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Could you imagine Steve Stanko worrying about his hands "getting too rough"! Stanko used to cut leather making lifting belts for Bob Hoffman at York. One day, the knife slipped, and he deeply cut the palm of his hand, putting the knife almost all the way through it. He had a big meet scheduled a few days later, and everyone thought it would be impossible for him even to compete. It was a bad cut and took many stitches. He not only competed, but he won, setting a new National Record in 1938. During the contest, according to Bob Hise, the stitches broke and his hand was bleeding profusely. To "plug it up" he used a handful of chalk, and with his grip at half strength, he still won! All that grip work paid off for Stanko. His toughness was typical of men of that era. It is a shame to see what has become of most "modern men." (Now they complain that their spray aftershave hurts!)

If you train with the regular Olympic bar, (or the few good plate loaded machines), at least don't use wimpy supportive gear (i.e., straps, hooks, etc., and God forbid, gloves); you might as well be wearing a flashing sign that says "wimp!" Make your hands hold the bar; they are the weakest link in your muscular chain. You have to get them stronger. They will never get stronger if you use supportive gear. If you do not yet have any thick bars in your gym, I strongly recommend that you ADD them to your program. Your forearms and hands will be throbbing by the time the workout ends. In fact, you may not be able to do a whole workout with them right away. They are that tough! The wrist roller is also a must and can be easily made. Do it palms-up and palms down. Implement the telegraph key, weaver stick/lever bar, and plate loaded crusher into your program too.

Hammer Strength sells thick bars and IronMind sells everything dealing with grip work including all types of devices to build both pinching and crushing strength (Titan's telegraph key is a must) as well as bars. You don't have to train to be another Rich Sorin or John Brookfield to reap tremendous benefits from doing grip work. Consistency is the key; an extra 10 minutes at the end of your workout, or even less if you use a thick bar, will reap tremendous benefits. If you can't hold the bar, you can't lift it! The biggest names in the Iron Game, past and present, put a primary importance on grip work. My friend, Bob Hise knew most of them. Remember his words, "Everything starts with the hands!"

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Q&A - Whole Body Training vs Split Training - Bob Whelan


I have one question for you please sir. I have went back and forth with this until it has gave me a headache. Whole body training vs split training. I have some people saying that for power, size, conditioning that whole body training is superior and then you hear others tell you split training is better for you. I hear you should listen to your body but shouldn't you listen to others that have done both of them too? Would you be kind enough to explain this to me and your advice on this? 

Thank you sir and God bless

Rick C.

Hi Rick,

I don't have time to explain in depth as it would take pages of typing, but I can give you a brief opinion to point you in the right direction. Ask yourself these questions before asking someone this question.

Are you SURE the person you are asking is 100% against the use of PEDs and has never used them?  What type of split are we talking about? There is a big difference between a 4 day split and a 6 day split.  What are the training goals?   Does the person doing the training have great, good, average or below average genetics for training?  
What is the age of the trainee? Does he love to train? Have any injuries? Drug Free? How much time does he have to train?

In a nutshell: There can be exceptions, but 90% of the time WHOLE BODY is better for NATURAL DRUG FREE trainees.

Rick, listen to this podcast. I talk about this on it. 

If you need more help, go to and get either a consultation or 4 weeks of training.

Good luck. I hope this helps.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Please write us a review of Iron Nation on Amazon

If you bought and read Iron Nation, please write us a review on amazon. Just tell the truth and it can be just a few sentences. Please be specific and mention the chapter and author of what you are writing about. Many people have bought the book but only a small fraction have wrote a review. Thanks for taking the time. Click HERE and scroll down.

Some Reviews of Iron Nation


Vic Boff, Stephen Boyd, Matt Brzycki, Dick Conner, Jan Dellinger, Jim Duggan, Clyde Emrich, Fred Hahn, Bill Hinbern, Drew Israel, Osmo Kiiha, Brooks D. Kubik, Jamie Labelle, Dr. Ted Lambrinides, Tom Laputka, Kathy Leistner, Dr. Ken E. Leistner, Ken Mannie, John McKean, Stuart McRobert, Tom Metzger, Bill Pearl, Gregg Pickett, Glenn Pieschke, Steve Pulcinella, Mabel Rader, Ralph Raiola, Dick "Smitty" Smith, Jon Schultheis, Bill Starr, Bradley J. Steiner, Dr. Randall J. Strossen, Mike Thompson, Dennis B. Weis, Bob Whelan, Paul Young

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Seeing the Forest through the Trees - By RJ Hicks

The field of fitness has improved tremendously over the last 100 years; however, people are still confused. Evolution in fitness has led to better gyms, equipment, and nutritional information as well as a number of variations in training methodology. Yet, the amount of conflicting information on training is overwhelming in today’s fitness. Coaches are using the words “strength” and “strongman” as popular labels to attach to almost any type of training. These labels confuse beginners by mixing the idea of becoming STRONGER by doing almost any form of fitness, to building a strong powerful body many old time strongmen possessed. Progressive weight training is by far the best method for building strength. Many of these other training method groups are productive and have their place in the field, but if you use them in place of progressive weight training you will never reach your potential.

Bodyweight training only enthusiast

Many bodyweight only trainees attach words such as real strength or functional strength to their training, when in reality words such as fitness or exercise should take their place. Yes, bodyweight exercises will make you STRONGER, but do not pretend it is BETTER than heavy progressive resistance training for building strength. Old time strongmen, such as George Jowett, knew training with apparatuses that employed progressive resistance were far superior to bodyweight exercises for building strength. Some people believe that bodyweight exercises provide you functional strength since many of our military and police train in this manner. However, the truth is bodyweight training is free, easier to do in large groups, and can be done almost anywhere. While bodyweight training only allows for an increase in reps or an increase in instability, progressive resistance training offers weight to increase proportionate to individuals’ increases in strength. Bob Hoffman recognized this downfall stating, "bodyweight training often employs too little resistance for light weight trainers and too much for the heavier". With that said, bodyweight training is a great form of exercise and can even be made progressive with movements such as chin ups and dips, provided a weight belt is used. Take heed of the deceivers who want to convince you to replace, rather than include bodyweight training into your weight training program.

Effort only crowd

Some of the effort only crowd focus so much on intensity and training to failure, that they forget about poundage progression. Effort is a key factor in muscle stimulation, lifting to where the last few reps are challenging (regardless if it's true failure or not) works. Without a goal (any reasonable rep and set scheme works) with which you work towards as a means of poundage progression progress, training to failure with the same light loads is no better than bodyweight only training. It is similar to the story of the man trying to dig a hole with his hands and refusing to use a shovel, sure it’s hard work but it’s not efficient work. The truth is, training to failure WITH poundage progression is ONE very productive and time efficient way to train for MOST clients. You can get the same great results from using one or two sets instead of 5. However, training to failure alone is not the optimal method for a lifter who competes in one of the strength sports nor is it the best for trainees who are not willing to work hard enough in each training session. HIT promotes full body workouts, the importance of recovery, proper technique and effort, but the truth is without poundage progression all of the above does little to build great strength.

Kettlebell only trainers

Kettlebell training has become very popular in today's fitness industry. Buzz words such as strongman, functional strength and other propaganda promoting some of these kettlebell clubs has brought a ton of confusion to strength training. Men like Sig Klein and Hackenschmidt validate the effectiveness of kettlebells to build tremendous strength. When in reality these men included heavy kettlebells into their full body barbell training on occasion. Kettlebell training can be great depending on your GOAL. For a full body, fast pace workout kettlebells are great, for getting big and strong they are not as effective as sometimes advertised. Do not let kettlebell trainers fool you into thinking swinging light kettlebells is the new athletic strength training program. As a new trainee, lifting light kettlebells will get you STRONGER, but this is not as efficient as heavy progressive weight training. The truth is most kettlebell training is focused towards building muscular endurance and conditioning, creating a variety in training to meet trainees’ interest, and providing a very minimalist way to train the whole body. Kettlebell training can be a productive training tool for developing strength and some old-time strongmen INCLUDED them. However, if you are replacing full body progressive weight training with only kettlebell training, instead of just including them, you will never reach your physical development goals.

Odd object training only crowd

There are some who resort solely to the lifting of odd objects. These trainees claim they are developing farm boy strength as if it is a separate type of strength derived from use of barbells, dumbbells and machines. They attempt to deceive you that they are stronger when in fact some of them lift odd objects full time to camouflage the amount of weight they can lift. Do not pretend that flipping a 300 pound tire is building more strength than deadlifting a 300 pound bar. Many strongmen in the past PERFORM feats of strength using odd objects, but this is in ADDITION to their full body heavy progressive resistance training. The truth is odd object lifting does not truly develop the entire body and can leave trainees with many muscle imbalances. Odd objects make it difficult to track progression and make certain lifts more difficult, due to the balance and leverage involved. However, odd object training will build strength, utilize a large number of muscles, add variety, and a physical challenge. These types of lifts should be implemented in hardcore trainees’ routines after the full body lifting is complete or as Bob Whelan says "as a finisher or dessert".

Grip only trainees

Similar to odd object training there are some who resort solely to grip training and label themselves strongmen and functional trainees. If a muscle is contracting and relaxing it is functioning, therefore all forms of exercises can be considered functional exercises. A strong grip is very important, however so are the rest of the muscles in your body. These grip enthusiasts spend more time collecting grip apparatuses and competing to close grippers then they ever do talking about strength training. They want you to believe they are strongmen because of their forearm and hand development. It is great to have a strong grip and compete in grip competitions, but only if you train the rest of your body. Do not be fooled to think that they are a strongman with just phenomenal grip strength but a weak body. Real old time strongmen had great strength in their grip but also throughout the rest of their body too! The truth is grip training is often overlooked by most trainees and is a limiting factor in many pulling exercises; therefore, it should be INCLUDED in every full body program.

Performing strongmen who don't lift

Strongmen can be broken into two different categories, "competitive strongmen" that lift heavy things and "performing strongmen" who do feats, stunts, and acts etc. Competitive strongmen are without a doubt strong and lift terrific poundage, competing to lift more than they could before. I also admire some of the performing strongmen. The ones who do their performing in addition to heavy weight training. But some of the performing strongmen don’t hold up to the name and have replaced their heavy weight training with the acts alone. I admire those who lift heavy weights and tear cards, but there are many performing strongmen who never even think about lifting heavy weights. Do not let the label strongman confuse you into thinking that breaking chains, bending and blowing up hot water bottles are the same as heavy progressive weight training. Weights are not going to lie to you, there are no tricks to it. You're either getting stronger or you’re not. We owe it to the great strongmen who performed in circuses and carnivals before weight training became popular, to keep that strong powerful image untarnished.

The pursuit of building strength today has become a self-promoting egotistical open forum, filled with deceit and lots of confusion. It is important to look past the misleading wording, egos and hidden agendas to observe the big picture. A lot of people with big egos are diversions to the core of getting stronger. They don’t keep on fighting and pushing the iron, instead they get frustrated and surrender to progressive weight training, switching to an entirely different easier activity. The bottom line for building strength is heavy progressive resistance for the entire body, while allowing enough rest in between sessions and proper nutrition. It is the same way Alan Calvert, Hackenschmidt, and many of the old-time strongmen trained, and although we have evolved greatly in today’s fitness, weight training still boils down to these principles.

Editors Note: Awesome job on this RJ! This is one of the BEST articles I have read in a long, long time!   My buddy Jeff T-Rex Bankens is a great example of a performing strongman who does it right. Jeff, (unlike some others), lifts heavy weights and the core of his training routine is the basic barbell exercises. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gym vs. Home Training - Jim Duggan

The age-old debate of whether it is better to train at home or in a commercial gym has been around for as long as there have been gyms, health clubs spas. Just about everybody who has wrapped their hands around a barbell has grappled with this question. Most of us are introduced to weight-training in the same fashion: Get a set of weights and find a place where you can train. For most people, it's a basement or a garage. For me, it was an enclosed porch in the house where I grew up. For most beginners, all that is needed is a set of weights, a desire to get bigger and stronger, and a sensible workout program. However, at some point, there will come a time when additional equipment is needed. More weights, and additional benches and/or machines will become necessary. The confines of space- not to mention the cost- will inevitably lead to that important decision: "Should I join a gym?"

For most people, the decision is simple. Limited training space at home, plus the fact that there are numerous commercial gyms available, make it a no-brainer. Since most gyms offer a wide variety of equipment, flexible membership options, and other amenities, joining a gym is an easy, economical decision. But is it always better to train at a gym as opposed to training at home? Does training at home produce the same results that can be obtained at a commercial gym? There are various reasons for training at home. Sometimes the hours of operation at a gym aren't compatible with a trainee's work/school schedule. Training at home allows you to train whenever you wish. Additionally, you'll save considerable time travelling back and forth. Basically, you can make your own hours and be your own boss.

There are several drawbacks to training at a professional gym. You are at the mercy of the gym when it comes down to the choice of equipment available. If a gym has lousy equipment, then you're pretty much stuck with having to train with inferior training products. There is also the issue of a crowded place where you might have to wait to use a particular piece of equipment. Certain days, at certain hours, you may have numerous people lined up to use a specific machine. Nobody likes to wait, especially if you are pressed for time. You are wasting valuable time if there is an excessive wait between exercises. How many times have you gone to the gym on a Monday night, and all the benches are being used? ( I don't know why, but it seems like EVERYBODY does bench presses on Monday nights.)

Another uncomfortable fact is that most commercial gyms do not really cater to people who really want to train hard and heavy. Many "health clubs" do not offer a dedicated area for heavy Deadlifts or Olympic lifting. There certainly aren't any lifting platforms where you can do heavy Deadlifts under contest conditions. And chalk is almost always anathema in just about every place that calls itself a gym. In fact, one of the easiest and quickest ways to determine if a gym is dedicated to serious strength-training is to ask the owner/manager if the use of chalk is allowed. Another good question would be to ask it the gym is equipped with a power rack. If they give look at you as if you have two heads, then you can reasonably expect the gym to be lacking in serious lifters.

Another inconvenient fact about training in a commercial gym is something that has been written about by numerous people, myself included. Quite simply, the atmosphere of most health clubs one that has been widely ridiculed. Those of us who have trained in commercial gyms know all too well that there are more then enough yo-yos populating commercial gyms throughout the land. Pumpers, toners, posers, screamers, and blowhards are just about everywhere. Then there are the ones who have to have headphones blaring at a level that surely must cause serious damage to their ears, not to mention their brains. I'll be charitable and not mention the people who take up space on a bench endlessly texting between sets. It takes a lot of focus to block these people out, especially the screamers, but you must try to ignore them if you wish to make progress.

The bottom line is to ask yourself: Can you make meaningful gains training at home? The answer is YES. It's up to the trainee to select a program for his/her benefit, and, more importantly, you must dedicate yourself to following that program. You must strive for poundage progression, along with allowing yourself sufficient rest and adequate nutrition. You can have access to the best equipment in the world, but if you don't put forth the effort you will never gain. Likewise, you can be stuck with primitive training conditions, but if you work hard, and consistently, you will become bigger and stronger.

If you prefer the privacy of a home gym, then you should equip your garage or basement and train hard and heavy on the basics. If I had a basement or garage, there are several pieces of equipment that I think are crucial for anybody who trains. The first- and most important- consideration for any gym is the barbell itself. To me, it starts and ends with the bar. Get yourself a quality bar. If you will be training the powerlifts, then get a good power bar. This is the one item where you should not spare any expense. Sure, a quality bar will cost you more, but isn't it worth it? A good bar will give you years of use. In lifting, as in life, you get what you pay for.

My second choice of equipment would be a heavy-duty power rack. With a sturdy rack, you can so Squats, Presses, and various pulls. More importantly, you can do these movements safely. If you acquire a bench ( either flat or adjustable) you can now do various Bench Presses inside the rack. Again, you can train safely without spotters. If you do not have a power rack, do NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to Bench Press without a spotter. Heavy-duty loadable dumbbell bars and a Neck Harness would round out my top five gym necessities. With these five items, you would be able to build great strength and muscular size throughout your entire body.

When it comes down to it, it is really up to the individual. If you prefer the gym atmosphere and find you can make better progress there, then train in a commercial gym. If you prefer the privacy of a home gym, then train at home. It's an individual decision you must make for yourself. Just remember, you'll get from it only what you put in.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Strength Training Principles - By David Sedunary

How to get the most out of your workouts

Muscular Strength is one of the most important factors to a Footballer. 

· It is my feeling that strength training has had the greatest effect on the improvement of athletic performance, more than any other variable.


1. It provides the power behind every movement.
2. Because of the role it plays in protecting the Footballer from injury.

· Stronger muscles enable a Footballer to hand ball and kick farther, hit the ball harder, tackle harder and not get knocked off the ball so easily. 
· It builds self confidence 
· Stronger muscles also provide increased joint stability- whether it is ankle, knee, shoulder, hip, neck, elbow or wrist. 
· Many Athlete/ Footballers have strength training programs of some form or fashion. The results that are gained through from the vast amount of training time and effort fall far short of what they should be. 
· Most Footballers lightly scratch the surface of their potential

The problems seem to stem from:

1. Faulty training techniques, which limit results and contribute to injuries, and

2. Lack of understanding built on long list of myths and superstitions, such as what is the right way to build strength? How often should I train? Which methods should you use? What exercises are best?

How can one distinguish between Fact and Folly?

This presentation was put together to answer these questions and provide Football players with some basic guidelines to use in establishing sound strength training knowledge and programs.

I will present 6 basic strength training principles

Principle 1.

Strength training must be progressive: you should constantly attempt to increase the resistance or repetitions in every workout.

(Force your body to use its reserve ability; it forces muscle to get stronger).

Sub principle 1.1 – In general best results will occur when repetitions are kept in the 8 to 12 range.

If you perform less than 6 reps, of an exercise, little in roads are made into your reserve ability.

Sub principle 1.2 when you can perform 8-10 reps in good form increase the resistance by 5%, in that exercise at the next workout.

Sub principle 1.3 Never terminate a set simply because a certain number of reps have been completed.

Sub principle 1.4 –Training should be done to build strength, not to demonstrate it; therefore how much you can lift for one rep should be avoided. (Don’t throw a weight or jerk a weight it will damage connective tissue)


Principle 2.

The building of strength is related to the intensity of exercise; the higher the intensity, the better the muscles are stimulated.

Sub principle 2.1- The set that is terminated prior to the point of failure, will not involve the maximum number of muscle fibres.

Sub principle 2.2- If one decreases the intensity of effort, a reduction in results will occur.

Example of working hard or hard training- is the last 2 reps of an exercise are very hard to perform in good style.


THAT IS WHY your workouts are supervised. 

Principle 3.

Each repetition should be performed with special attention given to a slow speed of movement, a great range of movement, and pre stretching of the involved muscles.

Sub principle 3.1- The speed of movement must not be too fast, or too slow. Reps performed in a slow smooth manner, apply steady force throughout the entire movement. (2 to 3 seconds up)

Sub principle 3.2- Special attention should be given to the lowering portion (eccentric contraction) of all exercises.

(4 to 6 seconds down)

Sub principle 3.3- Jerky movements should be avoided at all costs.

3 to 4 times the actual; weight is directed on the muscles and joints if we jerk or throw a weight.

Sub principle 3.4- The range of movement from full extension to full flexion of each rep should be as great as possible.



Principle 4.

Exercise should be selected that involve the greatest range of movement of the major muscle groups.

Sub principle 4.1- The greater mass of muscle involved the greater the value of the exercise. For example the Squat, Dead lift, Chin up, Dip, Press, Bench press, Lat Pull downs. (Compound exercises, which involve rotation of two or more joints, the standing press involve movement around the elbow and shoulder joint).

The following exercises, grouped by muscle group and equipment, are applicable to most strength training programs, such as the program the West Football Club are using.

Buttocks/lower back ---- Squat /Trap Bar Dead lift, Leg Press, Hyper extension

Quadriceps-------------- Squat, Leg press, Leg Extension.

Hamstrings ------------Squat, Leg press, Leg Curl.

Calves-------------------Calve Raises, Leg Press

Latissimus dorsi----------Chin up, Pull down on lat machine, rowing

Deltoids --------------------Press, forward raise, side raise.

Pectorals -------------------Bench Press, Parallel dips,

Biceps--------------------- Curl, chin up.

Forearms ----------------Wrist curl, wrist roller

Abs--------------------------Sit up, side bend, leg raise.

Neck--------------------- Neck harness, tension using ball.

Principle 5.

Increases in strength are best produced by very brief and infrequent training.

Sub principle 5.1 -- High intensity training must be very brief. It is impossible to have both high intensity exercise and a large amount of exercise. Many Footballers / Athletes make the mistake of performing far too many exercises, to many sets, to many workouts in a given period of time. (Total recovery between workouts becomes impossible)

Sub principle 5.2---- Seldom perform more than 1 set of any exercise in the same training session.

Sub principle 5.3----- A well supervised, (as we do) properly conducted, strength training session should not exceed 30 minutes.

WFC program 1# of B Press, Dips, Chins, Lat Pull downs, Squats,

C raises, Abs and neck 8 exercises performed to the limit, of one all out set per exercise will take no longer than 30 minutes, and covers the whole body.

Sub principle 5.4 -----There should be at least 48 hours rest between high intensity workouts, sometimes longer. Strength training breaks the muscle tissue down and you need give it time to replenish and grow. Do not exhaust the nervous system by training to hard and to long. Less is always best.

Sub principle 5.5 -----An advanced trainee does not need more exercise than a beginner; he needs harder exercise and in most cases less exercise.


Strength training : advantages for football

1. Increases all round physical toughness and hardihood.

2. Supreme health and confidence builder.

3. Correct training improves flexibility.

4. Strengthens joints and connective tissue.

5. Improves speed (muscle can contract quicker).

6. Improves balance and c o ordination.

7. Improves performance on the field.

8. Reduces and protects against injury.

9. To intimidate a strong, strength trained Footballer, who has reached his potential in strength, is not a good move.

Boxing training : Advantages for Football

1. Builds confidence for physical; contact

2. Teaches quick decision making

3. Excellent conditioner

4. Like strength training is a great health builder.

Strength and Boxing training is conducted at the Club Gym .

· Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5pm till 7pm

· Strength workouts take 30 minutes, boxing 15 minutes Total workout time 45 minutes to an hour.

“If you keep doing what you have always done”

“You will always get what you always had”

Any Questions?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Update from David Sedunary - Strength & Conditioning Coach - Australian Rules Football

Hello Bob

Hope this email finds you strong and healthy.

Strength training at our Club Gym is going along fine, I am also now teaching players Boxing, just basic punches straight left, right cross, left hook and left rip, then they work the punching bag over for 3x 1 minute rounds with a 1 minute rest.( sometimes I get to them to throw in some elbow strikes, you know Brad Steiner style)

Believe me it quite exhausts them.

Boxing is done on Wednesday and Strength work Monday and Friday. 35 players have commenced Strength training , some have trained more than others over a 10 week period twice a week. 11 players who have trained more than 8 workouts have increased their strength from 30 % to 62 % , granted they started with moderate weights, I will check again in 8 weeks.

One of my strength athletes who is only 17 years old, was dipping and chinning with his bodyweight for 8-10 reps , he now dips and chins with 22 pound around his waist, for 8 reps good improvement.

Obviously I need to get more of our players to be more consistent, but most are coming on board and having a full body workout once to twice a week.

Workouts take 30 to 35 minutes and each exercise now, is completed for 1 hard to the floor set of 6 to 10 reps, when they reach their goal in reps the weight is increased, always in good form.

The advice you gave me is working very well.

Our Club is the only Club in Town who strength trains their players.

Regards David

Editors Note: Great work David! Keep us updated. I think your much stronger team should dominate.

Dick Conner Arthur Jones Deland Kim Wood Hammer Strength Bob Hoffman John Grimek Vince Gironda Joe Gold

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