Friday, December 30, 2022

Strength and Athletics - By RJ Hicks MS, CSCS

One of the most common misconceptions in the field of strength is that athletes need to train differently than the common non-athlete. Many coaches believe that athletes must always train on their feet, train specific movement patterns, train only with free weight or use ballistic movements in order to best prepare them for their sport. These strength coaches confuse athletics and the Iron Game. They want to be attached to the athletes because of their love for athletics, not for their passion and knowledge for strength. They lose sight of why athletes are supposed to weight training and attempt to blend their training over to what the sports coaches is suppose to do. Athletes will benefit from weight training, but will not become better athletes because of it.

If you want to improve performance in the sports venue, you must train the entire body. It doesn’t matter what sport someone participates in or what position they play. It takes all of the muscles coordinated efforts at once to perform any athletic skill, regardless of their sport. Every muscle comes into play whether it is actively contracting to initiate movement, assist with movement, stabilize the body during movement or resist against movement. That is why the training program should include every muscle in the body, from the neck on down. The more force your muscles can produce the more efficiently your body will be able to move. It is that simple. When athletes train all the major muscles surrounding their joints, they increase their structural integrity. The most important aspect of training is to keep the athlete healthy so they can continue to develop their sports skills and compete in competition. Injured athletes can’t practice their sports skills and hurt the team’s chances from winning. By strengthening the total body, you are increasing the physical function of the body, improving the quality of muscle, increasing bone mineral density, and reducing the risk of soft tissue injuries by increasing the thickness and stiffness of tendons and ligaments. Dan Riley, Mark Asanovich, Ken Mannie and many other great coaches have said it many times that the number one priority in the weight room is to protect the athlete from the high levels of force they are exposed to in their sport.

The program should consist of mostly compound exercises and some isolation exercises to ensure all of the major muscle groups are being trained. There should be equal emphasis on pushing and pulling exercises, executed in both a bi-lateral and iso-lateral fashion. Athletes need to be strong front to back and left to right. Iso-lateral exercises will help balance out strength levels between each limb from the natural imbalance that occurs from playing sports. The program foundation should consist of: vertical push/pull, horizontal push/pull, leg/hip/back push/pull. Exercises for the neck, grip, calves, low back and the mid-section must also be included in the program so that the athlete can be strong from their head to their toes.

These basic exercises make up the main part of the program, regardless of the sport. The only thing you can do to make the program more specific it to identify which exercise an athlete can and cannot do and to identify the top injuries for each specific sport. At the end of the workout, you want to include a few exercises that combat those specific injuries. This is something I learned from Jamie Labelle, who coached hundreds of athletes at his old training facility “The Quality Repetition”. If the knee and ankle are the most common injuries for a basketball player, at the end of the workout make sure to perform a specific exercise to strengthen those areas. The more exercises you include in the program the fewer sets you will be able to program. The goal of the program is to strengthen all the major muscles groups of the body, not to develop a high-level skill of lifting. One or two sets for each exercise will be enough to develop strength if meaningful overload is used. Athletes do not need to perform three to four sets per exercise to develop strength. There is no rep/set protocol that produces more significant results than another. What’s more important is the quality of training rather than the quantity of workouts. Remember strength training is only part of the equation for athletes. They must be able to recover from specific skill work, conditioning, sports practice and competition.

The argument of free weights over machines for athletes is purely based on perception. Coaches like to argue that free weights are better for athletes, because they more functional due to the balance and skill needed to use them. Balance and skill have nothing to do with developing strength. They are not in the weight room to recreate different movement patterns in the weight room, they are in there to build strength. Greater instability decreases the amount of muscular force an athlete is able to produce, working against their ability to provide overload to the muscles. The more skill involved in an exercise often times the less effective the exercise becomes. There is no reason to incorporate exercises that require great skill for non-strength athletes. Motor learning experts agree that for positive transfer of a skill to occur, training must be exact not similar or close too. If an athlete is wanting to improve their tackling, they must practice tackling an opposing play with proper technique at near game speed. Lifting a bar from the floor to their knees and violently extending their hips is not the same movement and will do nothing to improve the athlete’s skill.

Athletes should use the best tools available to them, whether it is barbells, dumbbells or good machines. There are some good barbell and dumbbell exercises that an athlete can use, but training the neck, upper back and lower body are limited without good machines. As Bob Whelan says “good machines are nothing but guided barbells”. They are very beneficial to have and allow some athletes to perform movements productively they would not be capable of otherwise. The best option is to use a mix of both, but if free weights are the only option the training principles remain the same. With a mix of free weights and machines you can incorporate more exercises, greater variety and fit the tool to the athlete instead of fitting the athlete to the tool. Below are a few sample programs.

Basketball player-

Military press Iso lateral row Leg press Neck flexion/ neck extension Calve raise Iso lateral chest press Pulldown Iso lateral leg press Abdominal crunch/back extension Gripper

Extra work: Knee and Ankle Leg extension Leg curl Seated calf raise/tibia flex

Baseball player-

incline press iso lateral pulldown Squat Neck lateral flexion Abdominal rotation Iso military press Seated low row HS one legged deadlifts One legged calve raise Wrist roller

Extra Work: Shoulder and Elbow Lateral raise External rotator cuff Reverse thick bar curls Tricep pushdowns

The program is supposed to help protect athletes and maximize their muscular strength to improve their physical function. Moving fast with weights will not make an athlete run faster in competition. The speed at which muscle fibers contract are pre-determined by birth. Power cleans and depth jumps will not change their biological make up or their neurological efficiency. An athlete is either “hook up” or not based off of their genetic potential. Improvement in technique, tactical knowledge, experience, body composition, and an athlete’s determination to make the play are what make an athlete explosive past what was decided at birth. The only thing in the weight room an athlete can do to increase their speed is to continue to strengthen their muscles used for running. A stronger muscle will always produce more force. The safest and most efficient way to do this is to allow the muscles to lift and lower weights through the fullest range of motion. Yanking, jerking, bouncing or throwing weight around in the weight room will minimize the total amount of muscle fibers recruited at best and lead to acute or chronic injuries at worse.

The truth is an athlete’s training program looks very similar to a non-athletes training program. There are no special exercises, equipment or training principles that athletes need. Muscle fibers are human. Human anatomy and philology do not change because of the activities you participate in. The same basic total body training template that works for an office employee will work for a professional soccer player. The weights, intensity and some preventative exercises may vary between the two, but the training principles remain the same. Good form, progressive overload and proper rest will allow muscle to adapt and grow for athletes and non-athletes alike.
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Thursday, December 29, 2022

Drugs - The illusionary Edge - By David Sedunary

Most (90%) of the bodybuilders we see whether on Google, television or in the magazines are chemical users. Even in my local Gym there are chemical users who try to fool all observers, “yes, they say I done it the natural way. What utter bullshit who are they trying to fool, not me as I have been natural for 55 years never touched drugs of any kind and never will. Believe it or not most of our influence and information on training is coming from the drug users. No one I have noticed does not want to listen to the people who have done it the hard natural way, built 180 to 190 pounds of muscle on 5 feet 10-inch frame, with a medium to small bone frame with a 7-inch wrist.

Gee you should be bench pressing more David than 260 pounds for a set of 6, and you only squat 355 for 6 reps, or 280 pounds 20 times and deadlift only 375 pounds for 15 reps. That was said to me when I was 38 years of age some 33 years ago, one could never do it now. It was all done naturally which I am proud of and are still under the iron. As mentioned earlier I have been training in weight training and bodybuilding for 55 years and have outlived many of our chemical contemporaries.

Look at the Olympic games most of us have become aware of the rampant use of drugs in athletes. The use of “Sports Drugs” is not new, and I am not all surprised. One can go back as far to the test results of even the 1983 games. Some track and field records had never been broken for 20 years, yet recently we have seen Olympic athletes shatter long – standing records. Was the results of superior athletes or training methods? I think not, this is the result of the use of sports drugs.

These athletes both men and women will never admit to their use? of course not. That is why so many athletes are disqualified all over the world either by the actual test or by not consenting to the test. This is the same as drug users who attend the workplace quitting their job because they will not pass the drug test. Simply stating it is quite clear they are using illegal drugs if they wont consent to a drug test. Where did it all begin and what is so bad about using these drugs. A well-developed physique has always been associated with health and strength since time and in the early years of bodybuilding. 

Soon men began to search for short cuts to the hard work and the time it took to develop a strong, healthy, and prize-winning physique. So, in their search they discovered there were certain chemicals which could be inserted into their bodies that could temporarily change the body chemistry and alter their physical appearance. This would give the body builder the artificial effect or the plastic effect which I call it, causing their muscles to appear, and much quicker than doing it the natural way. What a wicked web we weave when we practice to deceive.

There was only one drawback, the chemicals had an everlasting damaging effect upon the body and as a result, the drug using athletes jeopardized their health. This use did and now does even more cause irreversible damage to the internal organs, the main targets being the liver and the kidneys. These pumped-up New Breed chemical users want to win at all costs, with little thought given to health and wellbeing.

With the winning of all the trophies came the damaged livers, shriveled kidneys, triple bypass operations, cancers of all types, and death. Even as far back as the 60’s one well known Mr. Olympia developed prostate cancer took him out of competition and 10 years to recover. For physical perfection, the chemical athlete is looking at an early death, and huge amounts of suffering.

Epidemic of Dying Athletes Since Covid Jab Rollout.

I may be getting off the subject, but what disturbs and angers me is the Epidemic of Dying Athletes since the Covid jab rollout, were these athletes using chemical assistance along with the Covid jab, who knows. 

Fitness enthusiast, author and bodybuilding champion Doug Brignole died suddenly on 13th October after offering to be a test case for the safety of experimental COVID 19 gene – based. In the comment thread of one of his own Facebook posts, in which he promoted uptake of the controversial injections, the former Mr. America and Mr. Universe wrote “Those of you who think the vaccine kills people can use me as a test. If I die, you were right. If I do not die, and have no ill effects, you were wrong, and should admit it (at least to yourself). 

According to multiple reports the 62-year-old Brignole was scheduled to appear at the Amateur Athletic union Mr. Universe competition in Las Vegas on 22 October indicating his death was sudden and unexpected. In April, One American Network reported more than 769 athletes had collapsed on the field during a game between March 2021 and March 2022. The average age of these athletes was 23.

In Australia, the jab known as the clot shot – ending up causing irreversible adverse events for thousands of people. Australia has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world it never did stop transmission of COVID. How many people will have died by the time there is a widespread acknowledgement and anger over what was done with in the name of protecting us from a virus with a 99.73 per cent survivability rate.

Benefits from regular vigorous natural exercise.

Nevertheless, I am all for all-natural bodybuilding and weightlifting and exercise.

 It will:

Lower triglyceride levels, Lower blood pressure, Lower cholesterol levels, increase level of coronary arteries, Prevent premature aging, Fat reduction in the overweight, Increase energy and stamina, Better general health, Better personal mental image, Increase physical strength, Added personal confidence, Improve mental and physical relaxation and Better oxygen utilization, and many more.

It may take more time to get a good physique the natural way, but you will have the consolation of knowing that this is real muscle, and it was earned with honest hard work, and it will not go away when you stop taking injections. 

The choice is yours.

Editors Note: Great information David! I can't get enough steroid bashing articles.

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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Raised Handles and Raw Lifting - By Jim Duggan

     Before the advent of the internet and social media, it was hard to keep up with current events in the world of lifting.  The muscle magazines were, unfortunately, limited to their print schedule.  If an event took place in December, for instance, you would not find out the results until the magazines published the event several months later.  And even if a contest was covered by television, you still had to wait for a few lousy minutes of edited coverage months after the fact.  

     When Powerlifting USA first came out in the late 1970s, it was the first time that a magazine was devoted strictly to the sport of super-strength.  Contest coverage was a big part of the magazine’s contents, and it was a great way to keep up with what was going on in the sport.  Eventually, there would be the “Power Hotline,” a twice-weekly newsletter that provided coverage that was even more current and up to date.  Naturally, the internet changed our concept of what is current.  We no longer had to wait to see record-breaking lifts being performed.  Even contests that took place overseas were just a click away.  

     Past experience with new things tends to indicate the results will be both good and bad.  While we were able to receive information almost instantly, we have also been subjected the downside of instant information.  The cringe-worthy things that take place on a daily basis in commercial gyms are now there for all of us to see.  And let me tell you, there is a lot to see, little of which is good.

     One thing that I’ve noticed lately is the increasing number of “lifters” who claim to be “raw.”  Now, the definition of “raw” insofar as it relates to lifting has also evolved over the years.  When I was competing, there used to be many Raw contests from which to choose.  Basically, a raw contest was one where the use of supersuits, wraps, support gear of any kind was not permitted.  Basically, you were allowed to wear a wrestling singlet, or a t-shirt and shorts.  No supersuit of any kind.  Likewise, there was to be nothing on your knees, elbows, or wrists.  Even your belt had to be made of leather, none of the thick, suede belts used in most meets.  You were truly “Raw.”  Naturally, your squat poundage took a hit, as did your bench, that is if you were used to benching with a bench shirt. Fortunately, I was used to benching with only a t-shirt so I was not affected by the rules.  Also, if you wee used to wearing a special “Erector” shirt for deadlifting, then your deadlift took a hit, too.  The plus side to all of this is that what you lifted at the contest was a true reflection of your actual strength.  The results of the contest were not decided by the quality and/or type of supportive gear you were wearing, because there was none.

     Lately, I’ve seen a lot of videos and social media posts from people ( I will not refer to them as lifters) who claim to be raw.  They will usually post a picture or video of their latest PR in the squat, bench, or deadlift.  The funny thing is that what constitutes raw lifting is a far cry from the original definition of the word.  Since when is wearing knee wraps considered raw?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a “raw: lifter setting up to do a squat while wearing wraps on his knees and wrists.  To say nothing of the fact that he/she is using a Monolift and having any number of “spotters” actually touching the bar as it is being lowered and raised.  Does anyone actually believe that someone who is wrapped to the gills, and has a spotter behind him with their arms wrapped around his waist the whole time, and lowers himself into a partial squat and then has the loaders rack the Monolift once the lifter has “completed” the lift, does anyone believe that this is anything near a legitimate lift?  If you do, then I’ve got some Yankee world series tickets I’d like to sell you.

     Let’s go to the Bench Press.  How many times have you seen someone wearing one of those slingshot bench shirts get set up to do a “record” bench?  He/she is wearing wrist wraps as well as elbow wraps.  The spotter will hand the bar off, but will not let go.  His hands are on the bar the entire time, from the descent through the ascent.  Most of the time there is no pause whatsoever, which is just as well because most of the time, the lift is not even locked out to completion.  At about the ¾ mark, the spotter will take the bar and rack it.  If the camera angle is right, you can see that the lifter in question has his/her butt coming off the bench and their feet are anything but stationary.  Sometimes I find it difficult to find one actual rule that is being complied with during these videos!  To sum it up, if you are wearing a bench shirt ( denim, multi-ply, sling-shot, etc.) you are NOT lifting raw.  Likewise, if your feet come off the floor, or your butt comes off the bench, or you do not pause or lock out evenly, then you are not even performing a proper bench press.  Why make a video and subject yourself to ridicule?     

     I’ll save the best for last, the Deadlift.  For various reasons, there has been a proliferation of deadlift videos over the last few years.  Certainly, the pandemic which closed down gyms and contests, is responsible for the increased use of videos.  Also, since the deadlift is the easiest and most basic test of overall body strength, people are inclined to test and/or demonstrate their strength in a lift that does not require spotters or special equipment other than a bar.  While I’m on the subject of the bar, one thing that is impossible to  overlook is the fact that the new, special deadlift bars are as much responsible for all these new “records” as anything else.  These longer, thinner bars have more flex in them than the old power bars that used to be used in contests.  Learning to “pull the slack out of the bar” is a strategy that has assisted many new generation deadlifters.  And, since these bars are longer, they have a larger loading area.  Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a worldwide shortage of 100 Lb. plates?  Funny, when I trained at Iron Island, there were plenty of “hundos’” as well as 45 kg plates.  Now it seems like there is a national shortage of 100s.  Is it due to the supply chain? Or is it because having the loading area filled with 45 Lb plates will work in conjunction with the bend of the bar to assist the lifter in pulling off the floor?  Having four 100 Lb plates on each side ( instead of eight 45s) of a legitimate power bar will definitely change the leverage of lifting.  It will definitely make it harder to “remove the slack.”

     Additionally, if you are wearing lifting straps, then you are NOT lifting raw.  These straps have gotten to the point where sometimes you don’t even have to have your fingers around the bar in order to pull it off the floor.  Those figure-eight straps can make anyone look like they have a grip of steel.  What’s even funnier is when you get some joker using a thick-handled bar or axle and using straps!  The whole idea of an axle lift is to tax your grip.  Why make it easier with the use of straps?  

     There is something else about deadlifting that I have noticed lately.  It regards the use of the Trap Bar, which is one of the best innovations to come to lifting that I can remember.  It seems like most of the trap bars made today have a set of raised handles.  Naturally, simply flip the bar over and lift like you always did, but it seems like most people today prefer to use the raised handles.  Sometimes these handles are about six inches high, therefore changing the entire performance of the movement.  To paraphrase a former president, let me make this perfectly clear:  If you are using raised handles to do your trap bar deadlifts, then you are NOT doing a trap bar deadlift.  You are doing a PARTIAL trap bar deadlift.  Substituting a partial movement for the purpose of using more weight might make for a nice video, but who are you fooling?  Anyone who is knowledgeable about lifting will see right through the charade.  

     While it may seem like there is nothing useful to be gained from keeping current, there is a whole world of useful information to be disseminated and exchanged.  Don’t allow the yo-yos to tarnish all that is good about hoisting the steel.  Train hard, progressively, safely, and use proper form.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Properly planning your weight training session - By David Sedunary.

I am closing in on 71 years of age and I still get nervous and anxious before I train, things I ask myself :  have I rested adequately, have I eaten enough food and the right food to give me sustained energy and strength, is my mind right, what are my goals  strengthening my body is one of my three main goals, not  to be a normal 70 year old, challenge myself, focus and use great form.  Planning a big protein and carbohydrate meal after my workout is important to me and being able to rest for a period after my hard work out tops off my training. While resting I reflect upon my workout, I rate my workout, could I have done better pushed or pulled harder and used better form and focus. Or better still did I give my all, if so tell yourself great workout, keep it up. You are awesome.

Before weight training I ensure I planned my workout correctly and have all the exercises written down in my diary, with weights used and rep goals or even weight increasements. The workout diary needs to be right and ready to go as it is my guide. I always take my small workout diary with me into the gym I train at.

What are the results we all are aiming for one may ask, normally should be an intense workout where all muscle groups are worked to failure or near failure. And the food you have fed yourself is going to encourage those stubborn muscles to replenish and get a little bit stronger and bigger, just a little bit, hopefully with God’s help. So here I go I always attempt to be in bed most nights at 10-30 pm and up at 7a m, the days before training I have eaten 3 large meals aiming for 50 grams of protein or more at each meal. 

For breakfast on the morning before I train which is normally consumed and finished at 9 am is 4 eggs, spinach, avocado, yogurt and 2 green apples. The glycogen in green apples will break down into glucose, which enters the blood and transport back to the muscles to be used in glycolysis or stored as glycogen.

Weight training for me is done at 12-30 pm every 4 th day. I then complete my diary, fill in all the exercises, weights to be used and rep goals. On the opposite page of my diary, I right in squares my goals, could be focus on form, challenge yourself, last workout of your life, make savage the body and civilize the mind, write in anything that motivates you and drives you hard during your workout.  

When arriving at the gym, whether it be away from home, in your basement or the back shed, don’t be bothered by anyone or anything especially earphones, telephones or lap top devices. Switch off and focus, workout of your like remember, maybe your last, warm up for 5 minutes and lift simple as that.

I am totally convinced that a properly planned and intelligently followed program of weight training does increase one’s life expectancy. I cannot believe that all other things being equal, a person who trains religiously will not live longer than a person who remains sedentary. I have met men in their 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s who were obviously in better shape than men in their 20’s simply because they worked out hard and they have always worked out hard.

I also believe life’s expectancy is increased through regular participation in such activities as martial arts, boxing, swimming, running, hiking, rucking, climbing and gymnastics. As well as other healthful pursuits. Getting old does not mean  demise in our health, whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically. I believe it is the opposite – as we age, we can become stronger and wiser. 

What I think is important, is not the debate about who lives longer (“the man who trains or the man who doesn’t “) but who lives better. I think that the improved quality of life that a hard training person enjoys so far surpasses that of the sedentary person that, even if the non-exerciser is a financial expert, his life is pitiful by comparison with the vigorous person’s. 

As we age, we can evolve and remember who we are spiritually and continue cultivating all those important aspects which prepare us to train hard and continuous. Diet plays an important role and is one thing we can investigate and experiment with to see what works.  I am a living testament to this, and so many others are. As we age find the time to strengthen your body, expand your knowledge and improve your health.

That is simple but achievable.

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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Professor Attila: The Father Of Modern Strength Coaching - By James Athanasiou

Professor Attila was a groundbreaking innovator, a spectacular strongman, considered by many as the greatest figure in physical culture: And for good reason. A true phenomenon, Attila shaped the careers of the finest strength athletes to cross the Earth, while being remembered as the Father of personal coaching over a century after his death.

With our modern day widespread appeal of strength training, it's easy to neglect how this life changing movement needed more than a century to be established. Many battles against criticism towards physical culture had to be won over time, and it took a great bunch of insanely strong and outlandish folks to raise the public's awareness of the benefits of strength training. And none other contributed more to this revolution than Professor Attila.

Part 1: The Solid Foundations That Shaped The Legend

Ludwig Durlacher was born on July 2, 1844 in Karlsruhe Germany. His intelligence was prominent, speaking five languages and mastering the piano from an early age. However, Ludwig's destiny would far surpass these standards, as he soon steered his eyes off the textbooks and towards the gymnasium. As a child, his passion for fitness was  sparked by his interaction with the legendary Felice Napoli, the Italian Strongman that would go on to help him develop his talents.

During this era, strongmen were above all performers. Their feats of strength were backed up by a story, a stage act where they were called to steal the spotlight as either a mythical figure, challenging the limits of human potential. Bending irons, tossing with animals and heavy machinery, all the while dancing and acting on stage were the standard schedule of every Strongman Show.

Ludwig, determined to reform the standard, adopted the stage name of Attila and began performing in 1863, at just 19 years of age. The choice was no coincidence. Ludwig took his name from the emperor Attila the Hun, realising the need for brand recognition and marketing. Together with a partner by the name of "Valerie the Female Gladiator" they toured Europe and America, stunning the world with feats of strength.

Part 2: An Original And Generational Trainer 

During his tours throughout Europe, Louis made a great contribution to the Strongman scene, inventing numerous acts. His most notable ones were the Roman Column, card tearing and the "Human Bridge", which came to be known as the Tomb Of Hercules. The last lift was the most incredible act, since the lifter held a reverse plank position while balancing a full grown horse and its rider on his stomach. He's also to be credited for the invention of the Bent Press, a very tough overhead lift in which he went on to become  the first man to lift over 200lbs.

He was also the first to perform solitary strongman acts, setting the standard for the Strongman Contests as we know them today. As the years went on, Louis would harness his coaching ability to spark a new age for fitness and strength training. The fame he acquired allowed him to come in touch with the elites of his era, establishing him as a high ticket personal trainer, making physical activity more appealing than ever before. In fact, he gathered such big fame for his time that he would go on to perform for Queen Victoria in the Buckingham Palace in 1887.

By the time he opened his famous gym in Brussels in 1886, his associates included wealthy individuals like Alfred Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan, royals from Greece, Russia and Britain. More importantly, he coached other Strongman Greats, including Louis Cyr, Lionel Strongfort and Warren Lincoln Travis: a remarkable athlete who at only 200 lbs came close to matching Louis Cyr's superhuman feats, as well as exceptional athletes of other fields, most notably the heavyweight champion James J. Corbett, the only man to ever beat John Sullivan.

Throughout his coaching, he continued to figure out innovative training systems for every individual student. His most notable piece of work was the 5 Pound Dumbbell System, a groundbreaking program demonstrating nearly 30 exercises anyone could perform that would drastically improve their conditioning. He was also one of the very first people to encourage women to take part in strength training and boxing, for the overall health benefits.

Taking a closer look at Attila's Athletic Studio and School Of Physical Culture, one can really understand the variations and uniqueness of Professor Attila's methods, truly embracing the aura of a museum. This landmark of physical culture would later be inherited by his son-in-law and Bodybuilding pioneer Siegmund Klein, who married his daughter Grace in 1924 and ran the gym up until the 70s. The amazing thing is that much of Attila's original equipment from Belgium was preserved, including his Roman Column.

Part 3: The Spirit Of An Athlete And An Innovator

However, his breakthroughs in strength training are only one aspect of Attila's brilliant work. His bright mind allowed him to revolutionise the entire strength training field by inventing the Roman Chair, the Globe Barbell and even the Plate Loading Barbell, most of which are heavily utilized by millions of people to this day. Before him, only dumbbells and various objects were used to train and perform.

More than anything, Attila emphasised on the essence of movement and physical activity. He was a very accomplished athlete outside of weight training, highly gifted in swimming, jumping and running, gathering over 200 medals throughout his competitive years. As the years went on, he became concerned with the health of New York office workers and of people whose jobs demanded that they sit down for hours everyday. His Studio was dedicated to rejuvenating such people and encouraging everyone to stay active.

Part 4: The Unique Bond With Sandow

One day, a young lad walked into his gym in Brussels. The 19 year old Friedrich Muller was first employed by professor Attila as a janitor, but as time progressed, he had the opportunity to showcase his incredible strength. Attila soon realised the raw talent he had in his hands and worked his life to made the young man into the legendary Eugen Sandow, training him in his spare time and guiding his strongman career at his own gym in Brussels in 1886.

After opening his gym in Bloomsbury in 1889, Attila continued to train Sandow. Around the same year, he encouraged him to enroll in his first ever strongman contest. This legendary event would go down as one of Sandow's most notable victories, beating both Charles Sampson and Cyclops.

From then on, Attila and Sandow would perform on stage as a duet, allowing one to benefit from the other's fame and thus strengthening their bond as a student and teacher. Even though they eventually fell out, no one can deny how both men built one another. Sandow had the backing necessary to unfold his talent, while Attila gained the fame and the knowledge necessary to kickstart his coaching career.

Part 5: The Passing On Of Attila's True Inheritance 

Throughout his life, he always rocked a light compact frame. At the peak of his career, Louis measured at 5ft 4inch and 175 lbs in bodyweight, matching and surpassing the performances of much heavier competitors, giving more credibility to the effectiveness of his teachings.

His modest and kind personality never allowed him to take credit for his incredible work. The desire to preserve the Sandow myth, alongside the lack of biography elements left Attila in the shadows. As Bob Hoffman, another Iron Game great, once observed:

"The modest Attila deigned to remain in the background, never seeking publicity, for he had built a better mousetrap and the world beat a path to his door. . . . Modern strength athletes owe more to this man than to any other.” 

Sadly, in 1924, father time came down knocking on Professor Attila's door. He died peacefully that year, running his gym and changing people's lives for the better till the last breath. Always modest and focused on muscle building for everyone, he never once seeked credit for his remarkable contributions.

His true heritage however was given to none other than the generations after him. All the teachings and strongman feats done throughout his life could not match the impact his methods had on our understanding of coaching and our appreciation for physical fitness. So the next time you think of the forums and the people that helped you come closer to achieving your goals as a strength athlete, take a brief moment to say "Thank You" to Professor Louis Attila.

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Sunday, November 6, 2022

A Different- But Familiar- Training Philosophy - By Jim Duggan

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of strength.  Even today, at 58 years old, there is nothing I enjoy more than lifting weights.  Like any respectable drug-free lifter, I usually lift two or three days per week.  One might think that the “off days” would represent a substantial void that would remain unfulfilled.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

     I love reading about strength, especially vintage books and magazines.  I love talking about strength and training, especially with those who share my fascination with the world of weights and strength.  I love writing about strength, and have been doing so for a long time.  In short, when it comes to the Iron, I can’t get enough!

     “Rock, Iron, Steel” was written in 1998, so I don’t think you could accurately describe it as “vintage,” but in many ways it is a classic.  It was written by a gentlemen named Steve Justa, from Harvard. No, not THAT Harvard.  Steve was from Harvard, Nebraska.  Published by Ironmind Enterprises, Inc, it soon became a favorite of the many readers of MILO magazine.  No less an authority than Dr. Ken Leistner described the book as a “must read.”

     If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, I highly recommend doing so.  Now, I want to make it clear that I don’t completely agree with everything in the book ( pitchfork lifts, shovel lifts, barrel lifts) but that’s alright because the wonderful thing about reading about other strongmen is that you can pick and choose what you feel is important, and that with which you do not wish to spend your time and effort reading.  Besides, there is enough quality information to satisfy any strength fanatic.

     There are fourteen chapters in the book covering a range of topics like “Lifting for Strength and Endurance,” “Partial Movements,” and “Carrying Weight,” to name just a few.  However, I’m going to focus on Chapter 12, “Training Philosophy and Attack Plan.”

     Everyone who has ever hoisted the steel has his/her own training philosophy, and Steve Justa was no exception.  My own opinion is that it is impossible to be exposed to a surfeit of information from which to pick and choose.  I will describe some of his personal philosophy with the exception of the information relating to diet and eating.  If you are seeking nutritional advice, consult a registered dietician or nutritionist.  Don’t listen to medical or nutritional advice you hear in the gym, unless of course you are fortunate enough to train with doctors and other medical experts.

     “Positive attitude, will power, consistency, belief, visualization, sacrifice.”  These are the tools that will build strength.  This should come as no surprise.  If you’ve been around the Iron Game for any length of time, you have probably employed most if not all of these concepts.  The harder you work, and the more consistently you train, the better your chances of achieving your goal of greater strength.  The power of belief is crucial in building confidence.  However, I’ve always felt that the key to developing a belief in yourself lies in demonstrated ability.  You have to prove that you are capable of doing something before you have the right to have self-confidence.  There are no shortcuts.

     “Training includes experimenting; learning to listen to your body; setting long range and short range day-to-day goals.”  There have been many articles devoted to the importance of persistence in lifting weights, and in the achievement of goals.  The importance of staying focused cannot be overestimated.  Various authors have endorsed the idea of “Conceive, Believe, and Achieve,” over the years.  While this might seem trite, it’s important for anyone who has experienced the ups and downs of trying to achieve a seemingly difficult goal.  It’s also important to remember that everybody is different, so don’t blindly follow someone else’s training program.  Additionally, don’t compare yourself to others.  The only person you’re competing against is yourself.  

     “Listen to Your Body.”  This concept is important to anyone who lifts weights, but it is especially important for older, drug-free lifters.  You can save yourself a lot of frustration, overtraining, and injuries if you just follow this often repeated warning and listen to your body.  If you’re not sufficiently recovered from your last workout, take an extra day to allow your body to recuperate.  A missed workout here and there will hardly matter in the grand scheme of things.

     “Think smart.”  This goes hand in hand with listening to your body.  It also ties in with consistency.  Small improvements in each training session will add up to great gains over the course of months and years.  Let’s face it, most of us are in this for the long haul.

     When you set a goal for yourself, and then develop a strategy for achieving your goal, you must apply yourself by means of a consistent and progressive program of workouts.  Every once in a while you will have that “lousy workout,” but you have to stick with the program and believe in the system.  But never ignore the signals your body is sending you.

     What exercises work best for you?  Which ones don’t?  Steve Justa has his own exercises- most of them are familiar, some are unique- but all of them work for him.  While it is beneficial to “change things up” occasionally, for the most part you must stick with the movements that bring the most success.  Spoiler alert:  Tricep pushdowns and cable crossovers are NOT exercises that are covered in the book!

     It should come as no surprise that a lot of thought should be devoted to your workouts, but there is such a thing as overthinking something.  A simple warning from chapter 12 “When it comes time t lift, then lift, don’t talk.  You’ll never get stronger thinking about training.  You must train.”  This is just plain common sense but, as has often been stated, common sense is not always common.

     If you’re patient and give it time, you will adapt to- and succeed with- any type of sensible workout program.  It’s when your body begins to adapt that you’ll begin to see progress.  “All great lifters learn to generate consistency and patience.”  Consistent, progressive workouts over time are the “secret” to getting stronger.  Another salient point that he makes is that it’s better to do less work on a consistent basis than to do a lot of work from time to time with no order or consistency to your training.

     I realize that most of these ideas are not new.  They have covered been covered in other articles, sometimes even by me, but they are worth repeating.  After reading the book, you will find that the training philosophy followed by Steve Justa is similar to that of many lifters and strength athletes.  He may use different methods and exercises to achieve his goals, but the general idea is remarkably similar to that which has been used by many lifters through the years.

     I recommend reading this book to one and all.  While I don’t endorse the idea of carrying sections or railroad track in mud, or building makeshift backlift platforms, by following the lifting philosophy set forth in the pages of the book, you will find that they reinforce the ideas that have been promoted by various authors. 


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Sunday, October 30, 2022

Building Yourself into a Warrior, and a happy one at that - By David Sedunary

“First a warrior, or all else is folly”

I first heard this engrossing quotation from my late friend and mentor, Bradley J Steiner. Bradley Steiner said “No one is born a warrior; they are in the final analysis self-made. Some people are it is true, born with great physical strength and natural athletic sharpness. However great an advantage to a warrior as inherited physical capacities may be, such capacities do not make or guarantee the warriors mindset and the ultimate fighting abilities and spirit of the one so fortunate to be blessed at birth with these advantages.”

Bob Whelan often says to me “David you are a happy warrior! Become a happy warrior, David!" No one is born a warrior. “This to me means as an individual you decide upon your allegiances, and you stand by them, and you remain steadfast even when the worst threat arises to endanger that which you have given your allegiance to. And you will then fight and remain unyielding, no matter the danger, and no matter the cost to yourself.

I have an allegiance to improving my health, strengthening my body, expanding my knowledge, and improving myself spiritually. I remain steadfast and stick to my goals, regardless of whatever threats or negatives come my way. I will then fight and remain unrelenting, no matter the danger, and no matter the cost to myself. Because of the hardships I have had as many have had themselves, this way of being and becoming a Happy Warrior is the answer to health, strength, and wellbeing.

Many mentors my father, Bob Whelan, Bradley Steiner have taught me to be a warrior, which has come about by seeking knowledge from these mentors’ others and applying it and be so damn determined to never give up attaining it. When one becomes strong mentally as well as physically you can manage anything and anyone that comes your way. You have done the work under the iron and strengthened your mind mentally as well as spiritually and have a strong mindset. Even when you repeat it yourself “I AM A HAPPY WARRIOR” you get a sense of strength and well-being.

Audie Murphy, the most decorated combat soldier of World War two, recipient of the medal of honor, failed the physical examination for the US Marine Corps. He enlisted instead in the Army, and would never have been accepted in airborne school, were it not for his appeal to a commanding officer, who agreed to give him a chance. Murphy was "under par".

The legendary William Wallace, Scotland’s great warrior leader and hero, was not a military man. He was a simple, typical young working man, who simply wished to live an uneventful, normal life until he realized that only by defeating an aggressive enemy would he ever have the opportunity to live as he wished. Note with great interest that none of the above real warriors present a tough guy image or aggressive appearance.

A split second’s reflection should reveal to any honest person how and why such a mindset and attitude as the warriors is all but required, to live, and to protect and preserve that and whom one loves and values, in a dangerous feral world. Take some time and think about that which is of great and irreplaceable value to you in your life, your strength, your health mental and spiritual, your freedom your dignity, those you love. 

When you train remember that if you avoid in your efforts or relent in your resolve, you are letting yourself down and those you love. Make yourself into a warrior. Not the kind of mindless warrior who serves a master or a ruler, the kind who lives for and serves that which is of pivotal importance and value to himself.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Miraculous Strength & Influence Of Louis Cyr - By James Athanasiou

It's hard to comprehend the level of strength and potential Louis Cyr forced the world to witness. Since his strongman debut, he never stopped pushing the boundaries of what was thought impossible. Today, we're diving into the rise, the glory, the unique assets and the unfortunate end of a legend.

1: The Early Life: Standing Out Already

One could argue that his genetic gifts were apparent even before he was born, since his mother was a tremendous 6'1'' 265lbs woman.  Born as Cyprien-Noé Cyr in 1863, in Quebec Canada, he was forced to exploit his strength through a very early labor at both a lumber unit and his family's farm. It was this exposure to manual labor that allowed the world to witness his already outstanding feats.

During that stage, Cyprien had two great influences in his life. He was first inspired to follow the training principles of the ancient Greek athlete Milo, who carried a bull on his back at a young age, discovering for progressive overload as both he and the bull grew up together. 

However, due to an unprecedented incident with his calf, Cyprien was forced to use a sandback progressively loaded by 2lbs each day. His mother's admiration for his feats led to his association with Samson, the biblical character who possesses superhuman strength through his long hair. Sampson would carry on the legacy of Sampson, alongside his long hair.

Having left school at an early age to work in a lumber camp within the winter and in his father's farm the rest of the year, Louis had all the time to experiment with animals and objects to increase his strength rapidly. For instance, at age 14 he moved 15 bushes of grain for a total of 900lbs for 15ft.

A year later, Cyprien lifted a farmer's heavy loaded wagon, attracting enough publicity to get him a shot at competing with Canada's strongest man, a strongman he ended up beating at just age 17, weighing a full 230lbs. After his family moved to Massachusetts in 1878, the now named Louis had the chance to further develop his talent.

2: The Dawn Of The Strongman Era

5 years after his first strongman encounter, Louis would make his official debut in Boston, lifting a fully grown male horse off the floor. Although he met great success whenever he competed, his main occupations varied over time, since his profits from strongman were very little in the early stages of his lifting.

In 1882, he worked as a logger. Then he switched careers, enrolling as a police officer for 3 years. He landed the job by carrying two knife fight participants to the police station. Even though he was initially turned away for being thought of as too heavy, Louis beat the majority of them in a foot race, despite weighing around 290lbs.

Although many of his lifts became exaggerated over the years, there were witnesses to some incredible feats that stand unbeatable to this day. Some of which include:

  • Lifting a platform with 18 men standing on top on his back for a total weight of over 4,300lbs (his most famous feat)

  • Lifting 534lbs with just one finger

  • Lifting a 514lbs rock off the ground to his shoulder, aged only 19

  • Lifting 273lbs in the Bent Press, beating Eugen Sandow's record by 2lbs

  • Resisting the pull of four draught horses, a feat he would perform publicly many times during his career

3. The Mythical Size Of Louis

There's been great debate on the numbers that are mentioned. However, they are an important testament to Louis's superhuman build. In 1985, he was measured by a Harvard professor, putting up the following numbers:

  • Height: 5ft 8.5inch

  • Weight: 291 lbs

  • Neck: 20 inches

  • Biceps: 20 inches

  • Forearms: 16 inches

  • Wrists: 8 inches

  • Chest: 55 inches (normal), 60 inches (expanded)

  • Waist: 47 inches

  • Hips: 48 inches

  • Thighs: 28.5 inches

  • Knees: 17 inches

  • Calves: 19 inches

These already incredible measurements were said to have increased by up to 20% and his weight by up to 70lbs in his late 40s. He never weighed in lighter than 270, in contrast to his wife who never surpassed 100lbs. 

4. The Rise To Fame

By the time he got married, Louis began arranging tours all over Canada and America. His first tour in the Maritimes ended up producing zero profit for him. During his officer years, he teamed up with a boxer and a wrestler and a weightlifter.

His next competition came in 1886, where he would go on to become the strongest man in Canada. Perhaps his greatest appeal to the public was within Britain, where at one time, during his London debut in the Royal Aquarium, 5,000 people, including many celebrities, gathered to watch his feats. The side wager that night was £1000 ( equivalent to about around $100k as of today ). In Montreal, 10,000 people witnessed him performing the iconic four horse pull.

Like every other strongman of this era, his displays varied, including some wrestling matches to feed the public's interest. He learned the techniques to face Édouard Beaupré in 1901, a giant of a man at a height of 8ft 3inch. Both men weighed in exactly 365lbs, with Louis being the decisive winner.

Throughout his career, he faced off and humbled many great athletes, including Cyclops, Sebastian Miller and Richard Pennell. He never managed to compete with Eugen Sandow, as Sandow became very picky of his opponents after suffering an early loss to McCann. People were so eager to see such a contest that a genuine diamond studded belt was to be offered to the winner.

5. The Exciting Persona Of Louis

As the years went on, Louis embraced the identity of the "Strongest Man On Earth" more than anything. He was fueled by the crowd's astonishment, eager to present the world with more and more unique feats.

Rumors say that during a meeting of his with the Queen of England at the Buckingham Palace, Louis attempted to impress her by digging his heels into a, certainly expensive, red carpet and ripping it in two with ease. 

Like many of the strongmen in his era, Louis was also a charismatic showman. Conducting numerous tours with his family and his brother Pierre around Europe, Canada, USA and Britain from 1888 to 1897. Having already developed his own circus in Canada by 1994, his team would provide spectacular shows for five consecutive years.

He never once backed down from a challenge, oftentimes battling titans of strength with favorable terms for them - still coming out on top. When he didn't lift horses or dozens of men in carts and platforms, he would spend his time quietly working a regular job, either as a tavern owner, a police officer or a laborer. Truly a humble man, Louis let his actions speak louder than any words.

6. The Downfall Of Samson

Sadly, the very thing that enhanced his already surreal abilities ended up causing him irreplaceable damage. His eating habits led to a rapid health decline in 1904. During that era, he had to cut down from 400lbs just to compete at his last ever contest, retaining his title till the very end.

In Montreal 1912, Louis Cyr passed away due to chronic nephritis. Great homage was paid by people all over the world, particularly from his homeland of Canada. In Montreal, Parc Louis Cyr and Place des Homme-Forts are named after him, while statues of his have been scattered throughout Quebec and his parks.

The story of Louis is that of a man who pursued what was natural to him. Never backing down from challenges, always pushing his body's potential. It's truly a miracle when an athlete gets to unleash his potential the way Louis Cyr chose to do.

I urge everyone to push harder on his training in honor of Louis, perhaps the strongest man ever gifted to Earth. Just keep a reminder on how your journey is more like a marathon's runner rather than that of a sprinter. Don't try to rush through things, respect the weight and dedicate time to listening to your body's needs. I wish everyone Strength and fulfillment through your training, thank you for sticking till the end.

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