Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CARDIO - For Life and For You! - By Jeff "T-Rex" Bankens

Last summer, our friend Christian Tackett wrote an article entitled “Cardio Thoughts”.  In this article he talks about the “fake news” he was told regarding cardio vascular training for most of his training career.  He then goes on to say that his coach (our coach), “Maximum Bob” Whelan advised him to take another look at cardio.  It changed Christian’s life.  

You can read that article for yourself at this link ( )

As soon as I read that article it struck a cord with me.  You see, it was not very long ago that, Like Christian, I too believed I did not need cardio.  After all, I was not only a weightlifter, I was a performing strongman.  I saw those two activities as a free pass on cardio vascular training.  Enter “Maximum Bob” Whelan.  He taught me something that I pray I will never forget.  He said, ‘Jeff, do the weight training for YOU, and the cardio for YOUR FAMILY’.

What Bob meant, was that, while weight training alone will make your musculoskeletal-skeletal system strong and virile, it will do little to nothing for your cardio-vascular system.  What point is there in having a strong, powerful body if you are not going to put in the necessary work to ensure that body STAYS strong and powerful for years to come.  If I want to be around to see my son grow up, and (God Willing) play with my grandkids, I better do something to ensure that my heart and lungs stay healthy enough to get me there in one piece.

Bob shared that advice with me a little over two years ago.  I am here to tell you that it was some of the best advice I have ever received!  In the last two - three years, God brought mentors into my life that I am convinced were meant to help bring my physical game to the next level.

Rather than re-hash that story, I suggest you read it for yourself at this link ( ).

After seeing the physical changes I have experienced over the last 2 years, I can say that Bob knew exactly what he was talking about.  I can also say that, on the other side of two years’ worth of cardio training under my belt, I now see that the cardio is not just for my family, it is for me too!  I heeded good advice that brought about what we are all looking for: RESULTS.  I would like to take a few minutes of your time to share with you the results I have seen manifested in my own life, to encourage YOU, the natural lifter.

I was told that, besides two days of weight training, I needed to have a minimum of two cardio workouts per week.  Implementing this was not that difficult, as I already had a treadmill in the house.  It even came with a built-in incline and two cross-country ski poles to boot!  I was all set, and began implementing the cardio work into my regular weekly schedule.  I usually have two - three cardio sessions per week that are usually thirty - forty-five minuted in Length.  While the intensity varies, I try to make a practice of regularly pushing myself so that I do not become “satisfied” with a certain level of fitness.  Just to be clear, when I say I push myself, I do not go crazy.  For example, I may try to increase the length of time I maintain a certain speed before  slowing down to catch my breath.  Other times I may walk an extra five minutes, or try to get another quarter or half mile in before quitting for the night.

Doing these things has helped me get stronger and fitter than I have been in many years, at an age when many people have started to let go and  become couch potatoes, forty.  I now find it quite thrilling to be getting stronger and leaner at the END of youth, looking down the road at middle age with a smile!

As I mentioned earlier, I am a performing strongman.  In fact, I am also a minister.  As stated in previous articles, I have a unique ministry that allows me to combine the feats of strength of the performing strongmen of old, with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ!  This has allowed me to speak and perform for many 1,000’s of people over the years.  I regularly speak at elementary schools, churches, youth groups, employee picnics, and other family-oriented venues.  It is a really unique way to connect and share with others that I really enjoy!  

Even though I have been doing this a long time, I have never done a large multi-day event as “TRex”.  One of my desires for many years has been to be given the opportunity to do something big, and last summer I did it!

It all started in October of 2016.  I reached out to the largest church in my area, in hopes that I might be able to schedule a time to speak and perform for them one Sunday or Wednesday.  The children’s pastor contacted me and asked that I meet with him.  I was hoping and praying for a successful meeting, but I had no idea what God had in store for me!  I was about to find out just WHY GOD had brought mentors Bob Whelan and Dennis Rogers in my life.  It was to prepare me for this very meeting!  You see, the children’s minister was not looking for someone to speak and perform for some random service, he was looking for someone to be the children’s speaker at a four-night / two-day church-wide revival!  

He proceeded to explain to me that I would have to prepare and preach four different sermons, with a unique performance tailored to each sermon, as well as write an anti-bullying program that would need to be presented seven or eight times during a two-day period that same week!  I can only imagine the ridiculous look I must have had on my face!  I had just been asked to do exactly what I had been dreaming of doing for so many years!

To be honest, I knew I (in myself) was not prepared, but I could not pass up an opportunity like this.  These types of events can be life-changing for the attendees, as well as the presenter.  It was a once in a lifetime event and I had to say “YES”.  I said yes to this because:  1) I knew this was an opportunity from God that I could NOT pass up; 2) I WAS prepared as an experienced speaker / preacher; 3) God had brought two men in my life that were ALREADY helping me get ready for this event, Bob Whelan and Dennis Rogers.  Knowing these things, even though I was very surprised and nervous, I KNEW it was going to be a success.

From October 2016 through August 2017, I trained my butt off!  I learned during that season of life that having an end goal in mind will keep you in the weight room and on the treadmill, not to mention on your knees (in prayer), and in the Word (studying the Bible).  After all of those months of preparation, the week had come, and it was showtime!  I ended up performing more than TEN times over a four day period, with little rest between performances.  I also spoke more than TEN times, either preaching from the Bible or giving an anti-bullying program.  We probably ministered to a couple of thousand kids that week.  Make no mistake about it, by the end of that four night period I was tired.  I was tired mentally, physically, AND spiritually!  But, I was not nearly as tired as I SHOULD have been.  You see, I had been preparing for that week for a long time, because of the mentorship of the men God brought into my life.  HE planned ahead for my success, so that those kids would get to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

I can tell you for a fact, had it not been for the hours of proper cardio-vascular training, I would not have been able to display the strength I had forged through the hours of weight training and practicing feats of strength.  I can also tell you that, had I not built up my “wind”, I would have been hard-pressed to properly present the Gospel or the anti-bullying program.  

I was successful because I was obedient to the instruction I was given, and you can too!  Remember, weight lifting is for YOU, cardio-vascular training is for YOU AND your family!

Jeff “TRex” Bankens is available for performances and speaking engagements.  He can be reached via his website or e-mail address listed below.  Feel free to drop him a line, as he loves to communicate with people from all over the world.

Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me:

Vintage Bodybuilding Literature

Vintage Bodybuilding Literature
Oldtime Strongman Books

This site does not provide medical advice. We assume no liability for the information provided in NaturalStrength articles. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Copyright © 1999-2023 | All Rights Reserved.