What a day.....
What a night.....
I left the house at 2:30 PM to drive to Philly to meet up with John Welbourn & Tex from Power Athlete HQ. The original plan was for the guys to finish their seminar at 4 PM but like any passionate coach, you can't stop the freight train of passion when you're on a roll.
I believe things came to a close around 5:15 PM.
From there, we headed to U Penn to meet up with Jim Steel, the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach.
I had spoken with Jim many times via e mail and we connected right away. He's what some of us call "old school" - this simply means you LOVE the iron. You love the basics. You love training because it's the place where you lose yourself and find yourself.
Driving through Philly was awesome. The area we drove through was awesome. I saw some kids playing on side streets a few times. Some Basketball and some tag games. That is always refreshing to see.
We arrived at UPenn and the plan was to bang out a podcast and then grab dinner. I figured 1 hour for the podcast but as time will tell, I figured completely wrong.
Jim gave us a tour of The UPenn facility and it blew my mind.
The technology used to assess weak areas on athletes and then program individual workouts for all of the 900 athletes was awesome.
Like any true fan of the iron, there is a story behind all pieces of equipment.
I believe there were 36 Squat Racks from Sorinex. I spotted some monster sized swiss bars and the original Gerard Trap Bar, that is a rare sight for sure.
I was tempted to video the weight room tour but John and I agreed to enjoy the moment. I have spoken about this many times lately.
We can't just enjoy the moment anymore.
1) Just enjoy the moment with OUT technology.
We have people getting attacked by bears and it goes on Instagram. Nothing is pure anymore. To a bunch of die hard lifters, we just want to enjoy the iron without the technology and all the videos / photos.
That being said, we took ZERO photos together during this never ending podcast.
The front of the UPenn weight room was your typical room with squat cages down the sides. As we got near the back, there were specialty pieces of equipment for squats, cardio, old bodybuilding machines and more.
There was a back room with thai bags hanging from a remote beam. The bags could be retracted to clear out the room and sometimes the room is used for boxing / muay thai work and other times for some R & R where the lights go out and the athletes are taken through a visualization / relaxation session.
If you have been a D1 athlete, there is a lot of pressure.
If you're a D1 athlete at an IVY League school, there is a LOT of pressure.
2) Everything is Training.
Whether it's lifting weights, running, practicing sports skills, watching specific movies, reading specific books.... It is ALL training.
The athletes might NOT see it that way but I've been harping on this for a long time and Jim brought this up during the podcast.
Especially at our age, being in our 40s and Jim having much more experience than me as well as BIG powerlifting numbers, Jim does whatever he wants for his own training.
- Muay Thai
- Squats with free weights or machines
- Pushing Wheel Barrows
The list goes on and on.
3) Always Search for GREAT Books.
Jim also reads books and tries to find great books to share with his Coaching staff. I recommended Brotherhood of Warriors to Jim and he loved it.
Great books train your mind. A great book can inspire you to dig deeper, get tougher, work harder and expands your knowledge as well as changes your frame of reference.
I saw on Jim's blog a interesting book, Bust it Like a Mule and picked it up. It sounded BadAss and very much in line with my own training goals: Train to Be Dangerous. So I bought it on Amazon immediately.
Of course I gifted Jim my Encyclopedia of Underground Strength.
My hope is that everyone reads the back of the book, my dedication to my Grandparents.
My Grandparents' story always drives me to work harder and helps me view "challenges" as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.
Our conversations jumped all over the pace but we kept circling back to a few common themes:
- Hard Work
- Social Responsibility
- Never Getting Away from the Basic Barbell Lifts
4) Often times the most Successful Athletes are the Hardest Workers.
Sure, there are outliers and genetic freaks, but even most of the genetic freaks got to where they are because of their Relentless Work Ethic.
John and Jim are Football guys so most of the names escaped my memory but 1 guy that Jim spoke of often was NFL Hall of Famer, Randy White.
Jim interviewed Randy White HERE and if you're serious about kicking ass, listen to this interview. There is so much gold in that interview I listened to it multiple times already.
Avoiding the work is the path to mediocrity. You can't avoid the work.
5) Tough Parents Have Regrets But.....
With all of us being parents, we got to talking about the type of parents that help or hurt their child in athletics.
The answer was that successful athletes come from ALL types of families. They come from rich and they come from poor. They come from the hood and they come from the richest neighborhoods.
When John asked parents what they regret they often said they regret being so tough on their kids. Then, when asking many people why they are successful, they said having tough parents pushed them to be successful and they were grateful.
We spoke about Dan John who said Genetics & Geography are key factors in what an athlete will become as he / she matures. We added the intangibles of how there can be tough kids AND weak kids coming from the tough streets. There can be tough kids coming from the affluent areas as well.
But for the most part, the best athletes are the work horses.
John of course shares his stories of his tough Mom and Dad and how his upbringing taught him to work for everything he wanted and to NEVER come home if he lost a fight.
6) Back in the Day.....
Back in the day kids used to LOVE lifting more than today.
They loved going heavy with squats, cleans, presses, etc and got fired up to train.
Injuries were less common yet we're smarter today than "back in the day".....
7) How We Train Our Own Kids....
- Have FUN
- Stick to the Basics: Squats, Deads, Presses of ALL Types, Run Hills
- Play Multiple Sports
- Manual Labor and House Chores to Build Respect, Accountability and Work Ethic
8) Train In Your Garage / Basement So Your Kids Can See You
Want your kids to grow up strong and fit?
Show them how it's done.
Make it part of the family. Take them with you to the gym or set up shop inside your house somewhere.
Jim has a basement gym.
John is setting up a barn gym, something I plan to do myself. I've always wanted a barn gym. It's pure, simple and rugged.
I have a garage gym and I train on the weekends while my kids play out front.
Teach your kids that being Strong is "Normal".
9) Should we Create Content in the Video format or Written format?
I used to write a LOT more. Then, with my insanely busy schedule, I began doing more videos so I can get my point across faster.
But, people on youtube seem to be looking for a shock factor and entertainment.
Those who say "I'm too busy" to read your articles are the exact people we don't want to connect with. The serious Coaches all tend to prefer reading vs watching videos.
Sometimes, we feel by creating too much content, it creates a helpless type of student because they refuse to dig up the answers to their questions in prior writings. They want the answer handed to them.
I came to a conclusion I need to create much less content on the blog / youtube, etc and focus on the die hards who are members of Gladiator STRONG or The Underground Strength Academy.
Handing people the answer doesn't make them stronger nor does it help anyone.
If you're truly dedicated to learning, you must invest in yourself and put in the time to read.
10) Social Responsibility
John is more up to par than I am on the Presidential race and my opinion is that it's every man for himself. I have no clue how things will pan out and my answer to not getting stuck in the BS to put my head down and work.
Take care of your own business and do the work. Blaming The President or anyone else won't help.
John realized that MOST decisions from people will be made after they read something on twitter or facebook.
Many people can't or refuse to further research the politics beyond short bursts of Twitter posts and 2 - 3minute facebook videos.
Let's face it, we're in a world of distractions where people are WASTING endless daily hours on Facebook & Instagram.
John explained that "Back in the day" the early Presidents stepped up in a form of social responsibility. They felt an obligation to rise up and do great things. Hillary vs Trump is a battle where voters are choosing for the lesser of 2 evils.
So on our own part, we gotta take care of our work and our own responsibilities.
11) Dogs, Genetics & Tough Athletes
John, Jim and myself are long time dog owners.
We tried figuring out how, when and why some athletes have that mean streak in them while others have a tough time flipping the switch.
I explained it took me a while to learn how to flip my own switch and this brought to John's conversation of how 1 of his dogs would be willing to fight or attack while never backing down while another is willing to back down.
I told stories of my 2nd Doberman, who was born in our house. He was mean and tough. It was in his blood. We never raised him that way. He attacked any animal that tried to pass through our backyard and I still recall that time I was walking him around the block. Another dog walked around the corner on no leash and turned around when he saw Oz, my Doberman. He was out to fight and always ready to protect the family.
Some dogs are born that way while others are not. This is something you can find in athletes. Some are born with a certain X factor and others are not.
12) Train On Your OWN
The 3 of us grew up training in Spartan conditions, learning a lot on our own as well as being mentored by lifters who understood that Strength was crucial.
How many kids today train on their own?
How many do 100 push ups a day? A week? This month? This year?!
As a Coach, it's important to empower and educate the athletes you work with to OWN their training and entire lifestyle.
Let them know that success is no accident and neither is mediocrity.
This list will be continued as I ask Jim and John to contribute.....
Live The Code 365,
Matthew Schifferle says
Thanks for the list and wisdom zach! And thanks for the hook up to John’s podcast as well.
Aaron Lewis says
Thanks for linking up the Randy White interview. Thats some good stuff!
Great stuff you’ve written here. I couldnt agree more about the written vs video comment, and everything else you’ve written here. You are really on the right track with your varied approach. Thanks for putting a good spin back on New Jersey; you’ve rebuilt most of the credibility we’ve lost thru MTV’s Jersey Shore! Seriously though, keep up the great work. I look forward to see what polished results come from your garage lab. You are on the road to true discovery. Live the code! Amen!
Lee Pinac says
Love the picture of Randy White at the Cowboys practice facility back in the ’70’s off of Forest Lane in Dallas. Basic, simple and got the job done.
Great blog post, Zach!
Got to buy “Bust It Like A. Mule” tonight.
I will listen to the interview with Randy White also.
Keep crushin’ it, brother!