I've been going back to my favorite books and magazines a lot lately, the stuff I grew up on from the late 80s and early 90s (Arnold's Books) along with the stuff I missed out on (The Strength Magazines of the 70s and prior).
Man, that information was and still is awe-inspiring, I am saving it all with hopes that my son takes to it as I did, the memories of staying up way past midnight to read the old books, the stories told, the black & white photos and magazines is something kids today don't know about.
Not only do I want my son to be inspired by these vintage books and magazines, but how about educated on the basics!!?? All of this information is awesome but still, even at The D1 Level, the basics are clutch.
I want my son to grow up on Squats, Cleans, Sprints, Calisthenics, etc.
Do people still read books? This technology thing is supposedly taking over but what's better than the smell of an old book or magazine when the pages crackle as they finally come apart after years and years of collecting dust?!
I was in middle school, maybe 11 years old or so, and my brother and I were in Israel at the small town book store.
My brother was sitting on the floor reading Arnold's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding for what seemed like hours on end until we got kicked out at 1 PM when all stores close down until 3 PM. Everyone would take a nap at this time, I look back and see how smart that is for our health.
We came back that afternoon and of course, my Grandfather bought Arnold's book. I believe it was $50 to purchase it, double the American price.
I still have that book and I believe it to be one of the all time greats; Everyone should read this book, from young teenagers to experienced strength coaches.There is so much to learn and to be inspired by from that book.
The Summer before my sophomore year in high school my brother and I went back to Israel for about 4 weeks. I knew there would be no gym in town and by this time in my life, ALL I wanted to do was train.
It's all I could think about!
So, the day before leaving I went to the gym and Squatted for well over an hour, hitting 50 + sets of squats.
I've heard of college football players performing 10 sets of squats after winter break and then going to the hospital with rhabdo, coaches getting sued, etc.
I LAUGH at these stories because I did 50 + sets of squats with weights in the 275 lb range and had NO issues. No hospitals, No suing anyone, just training hard and LOVING IT.
Because there was no gym in this small town, I jogged to the local school playground every other day and did 20 sets of pull ups.
The first set was always a set of 20 reps and I did the first 10 sets overhand grip. The next 10 sets I performed with mixed grips. Since then (age 14) I was ALWAYS able to do 20 + chin ups strict until shoulder surgery.
I weighed about 150 lbs that Summer and was doing 20+ chins even when I weighed 225.
Strong is Strong!
I was inspired to do those volume pull up workouts from the stories Arnold shared in his Encyclopedia. He said that sometimes his back workout would be a challenge against his training partner, they would go set after set of chins until their hands could no longer the grip the bar.
Talk about "optimal training" - those guys were STRONG back then! They lifted heavy and followed a high protein diet with moderate carbs and moderate fats.
I wonder, who is inspiring the younger generation of today with regards to training?
Going to the Gym was a special place for me. I took it quite seriously and it was a place I always described as "A place I lose myself and find myself."
I still recall training and seeing some of the older guys (These guys looked to be in their mid 20s to mid 30s) were reading newspapers between their sets or simply talking non stop with anyone and everyone.
I didn't understand how people could be so lax and devoid of intensity.
Fast forward a few years into my late teens and early 20s, I saw 1 of those guys STILL reading his newspaper between sets and he looked EXACTLY THE SAME.
He wasn't bigger or stronger and I learned a few lessons in that moment:
- If you don't train hard, you will get ZERO results
- Focus is Key. Between sets you should be getting mentally prepared and focused for the next set.
- Getting bigger and stronger takes YEARS! It was a good 5 - 6 years from the memory of first seeing these guys and then seeing them again 5 - 6 years later. I probably weighed 140 lbs when I first started at this gym and then some 5-6 years later, I was closer to 200 lbs.
Get a Job.
This seems to be foreign territory to teens and even many adults. GET A JOB. Do something with yourself.
I had a few jobs in high school. My favorite job was mowing lawns. I felt accomplished after mowing a few lawns in 1 day and sweating buckets from the work. Those were my early days of learning how "The Work is the Gift."
1 of the jobs I had was not so fun, but I stayed with it, regardless. My friend got me a job at the local pizzaria. I would clean, fold boxes, get cursed at and threatened by the owner, clean some more, answer phones, etc.
I remember one night my parents came to visit, I had mopped the floors and had all the spice shakers filled up, chairs and tables organized and had just finished cleaning the toilet by hand.
The owner was cursing at me in the kitchen some 30 minutes prior, telling the cook he was gonna kick my ass! I swear to you I couldn't believe what was happening. I'm folding boxes and thinking to myself, Damn, I'm gonna have to hit this guy with a blast double! He's gonna attack me!
When my parents came in he was telling them how great I was, how hard I work and how much he likes me. I couldn't believe my ears, one moment he wants to kill me, 30 minutes later he is lying to my parents telling me I am great.
My last night working there I lost 8 lbs from sweating in the kitchen. I wrestled in a tournament the next day and weighed in realizing how much weight I lost. I remember feeling great the day I told Abdul, the cook, I won't be coming back as I'm mowing lawns for work now.
I've got a lot of memories from jobs I've had.
The lessons I've learned from these various jobs was to:
- Contribute to society
- Don't be lazy
- Your job is more than the "job description"
- Nobody owes you anything, so do a Great job. Period. No excuses.
When I had a paper route my neighbors told me to deliver the paper to them in the morning before I left for school. They also told me to never walk on their lawn. EVER.
My neighbor once flipped out on the mailman for cutting across his lawn. I thought he was gonna murder the guy. I still see adult mail men / women cutting across lawns.
If you've been following me for a while, you have heard about my paper routes and cutting lawn stories quite often.
When my first bike was stolen in 3rd grade, I got a second paper route and now delivered papers both before and after school.
My Dad never offered to buy me a new bike, it was understood that I should save money and buy one myself. I walked the streets for 3 or 4 months saving money while all my friends rode their bikes. It crushed me because I lived for my bike.
That was also my first lesson in what happens when people are bigger than you.
I still hawk my bike and feel a certain edge when people come near my bike some 35 years later.
When I began lifting weights regularly at the end of 8th grade I was 13 1/2 years old.
I remember being inspired beyond words at all the black and white photos from Arnold's books. The thick and powerful physiques of Sergio, Franco, Draper and the "Golden Era Bodybuilding Crew" blew me away.
Every photo spoke so loudly to me, even if there was no text or story written about the photo. The photos were so powerful, they told their own stories.
To this day, when I take a photo, I am trying to take a photo that speaks so loud it doesn't need words or an explanation behind it.
When I started training athletes out of my garage, the first photos that went on the walls were a bunch of vintage Arnold photos and an autographed photo of Dave Draper, shown above.
I called my group "Combat Grappler" because I was only training combat athletes. From there, a group of Football players began training and man, these guys became HAMMERS!
I recently came across a documentary on ESPN and saw the guy lifting in Dr. Ken's garage and driveway, something I can see myself returning to. There is a purity when you run a small business that no amount of money can buy or take from you.
I always loved that feeling of having nothing hanging over my head, where nothing and no one can make you feel like you owe them anything.
Perhaps one day I will try to bring back the physical newsletters, the stories of old, the training of old and new.....
I always loved as the days approached when a new magazine was about to be delivered.
But who knows.....
Perhaps it is best to let the past be the past. Those who want to find that info will equally enjoy the journey of seeking it out......
Till the next time....