Life & Lifting, they go hand in hand.
It's amazing what you learn from life as you put yourself through hellish workouts and commit to becoming the strongest and biggest you possibly can be - "NO limits", you say to yourself!
Here's quite an interesting story.....
Mid July, 1 of my athletes competed in 'The World's Strongest Athlete' Contest, hosted by Joe DeFranco. College athletes flew in from around the country to go head to head and toe to toe in this brutal contest.
The Underground Strength Gym sent over 12 athletes to compete, more than any visiting gym that would compete that day.
ALL eyes were on 1 of our athletes....his name?
The summer before, Curls had won The DeFranco Strongman Challenge as an 18 year old college student, shocking others and impressing the hell out of everyone, including the NFL athletes who were competing against each other that day.
The "FUNNY" thing about this story is that not many people know the history of Curls.
The fact that he was a chubby, slow, weak, unathletic kid.
Most say Curls is some sort of Genetic Freak.
He's the opposite, actually. But, what he lacked in genetic supremacy, he overcame via work ethic, commitment, consistency, not just in training, but nutrition as well.
Back when he was a kid, he was a rolly polly type kid, slow, not very athletic, tagged first in every tag game and usually dead last every time he ran a lap around the field with his classmates.
But, during 8th grade and upon entering high school he began doing what the majority of aspiring athletes & lifters do NOT do, regardless of age, and that was the use of Bodyweight Training.
Most people skip this foundation and then struggle with no progress as they try to master basic free weight exercises without any muscle to support their efforts.
So what DID Curls do?
Lots of push ups, lots of jumping activities via jump rope and Basketball, sit ups, hill sprints and pull ups at the local playground or hanging off the edge of soccer goal posts.
Through high school he hit the weight room hard using the basics: trap bar deadlift, bench press, squat and hang clean and of course....Curls - the typical high school football stuff, right?
Great stuff, when performed properly.
Curls finished his Football season Junior year and was encouraged to join The Underground, back when operations were being run in my garage, backyard and the local playground.
With his ability to be able to perform push ups, sit ups, pull ups, sprints and jumping rope it was time to add a NEW element of training to his program!
Once we began adding more to his program, such as Kettlebell training, strongman training, sleds, sledge hammer work and olympic lifts with dumbbells and sandbags, his progress skyrocketed.
But, regardless of his training tools, he was committed.
Commitment IS THE Difference Maker, especially when the action taken is performed with the optimal methods.
You gotta be committed to EVERYTHING you do or your results will simply be half ass.
Commitment means you eat, live and breathe your goals.
Curls ate the way I told him to and trained the way he was supposed while at The Underground.
His commitment and desire to succeed created a powerful BELIEF in everything he did. He KNEW he would become a BEAST!
So understand this: Your level of commitment and your belief in your ability to succeed is the critical driving force to keep you going.
You must be absolutely certain that you're going to become a Bad Ass MoFo from your training - this will keep you commited to your workout.
Without certainty in what you are doing, you will likely quit and give up.
Too many e mails have been drowning my in box starting with something like this:
"No matter what I do, no matter how I train and no matter how I eat, I just can't get stronger or bigger"
That's the wrong attitude to have if you want success in training or business and in a nutshell, in life.
Belief + Commitment = AMAZING RESULTS
So through the years, Curls showed up to my garage, never skipping workouts and always doing what everyone else was NOT willing to do.
The training was brutal. A typical garage workout looked something like this:
1A) Trap Bar Deadlift: Build up to 2 heavy sets of 3 - 5 reps
1B) Kettlebell Swings x 6 reps every set
Max Rounds in 10 Minutes of Circuit # 2
2A) Rope Climb x 12'
2B) 1 Arm Kettlebell Snatch x 5 ea. hand
2C)) Sledge Hammer Work x 10 ea. hand
Max Rounds in 10 Minutes of Circuit # 3
3A) Sled Drags on Grass x 200'
3B) Hill Sprint x 5 - 7 seconds
These workouts were downright brutal AND effective. But, not everyone was willing to go through such hellish workouts. Those who did, prospered 🙂
After graduating high school, The Underground Strength Gym moved out of the 2 car garage and into the first ever warehouse location. Our athletes were invited to compete as guests, a first ever, at the world renowned DeFranco's Strongman Challenge.
We had never flipped tires before nor had we done much squatting due to the lack of equipment in the 2 car garage. 1 week before the Strongman Challenge we acquired a 600 lb tire to prepare our athletes for the contest.
Curls showed up as a dark horse along with the rest of The Underground Crew.
His background in sandbag lifting, olympic lifts with dumbbells, truck pushing and kettlebell training made the transition into strongman work very easy.
Curls narrowly lost the entire contest by 1/2 a second in overtime!
The following year, with plenty of Underground preparation, Curls took 1st, dominating the college category at only 18 years of age, shocking and impressing even the NFL competitors, especially when they found out Curls was only 18 years young!
And of course, last July, Curls entered the World's Strongest Athlete Competition again, taking 1st place, even with no practice in the challenging Strongman Yoke Walk.
Oddly enough, as I stated before, I know Curls - others tout him as the genetic freak, the beast.
True, he IS a BEAST, but, his humble beginnings, to say the least, are what are not known, and, it is very likely he started off a lesser physical specimen than you have.
The Difference Maker, as I mentioned before, is the commitment + the belief.
Now, ask yourself, do you have commitment AND belief EVERY SINGLE DAY, year after year?
Drop a comment, let's get this discussion rolling!
PS: Reccomended Resources from this story are:
The Brand says
Please tell me that is a “true” photo of Curls with the cricket ball as a youngster !!! 🙄
The Brand says
If so – is it at all possible to add say two or three other before 14 year old photos???
My own son is now 12 years old – and most of his friends are fatties, weak, clumsy and un-athletic – this article might just be more than you ever could imagine.
Several different photos then and now would be amazing and very very convincing !!!
Thanks for posting this article – well done !!!
Eric Moss RKC says
I believe that pic is from one of the Harry Potter movies.
Z it is amazing what some good honest hard work, consistency, and time will do to someone. Keep it up!
I totally agree with you hard work pays off no matter what your genetics are. Over the years my hard work and dedication has helped me gain muscle and more importantly gain strength. I find it interesting that even though I do not not have access to a gym I make progress like curls has made through working out in my apartment with bodyweight exercises and a few free weights. Keep up the great work.
Christopher Reed says
Great true story! I can relate all to well! We used to have a running joke every summer when returning to play ball in Uni.
Guys would show up, some in shape and some not the one’s who did show up in shape were always asked what supplements they were taking and what they were eating. After rhyming a list off of your usual suspects: lean chicken, fish, salads, protein powder and creatine we would usually add one more supplement – “HW”and then we would just watch the puzzled look come over people’s faces.
We would sit there and laugh our asses off watching people try and figure out what “HW” was. If you weren’t supplementing HW into your workout regimen you would never get the results!
Love the story! Good job Curls your story will serve to inspire!
Age Quod Agis
p.s. Any guesses on what “HW” stands for?
HW = hard work in my opinion.
I love stories like this because they showcase the type of success and results that can be yielded from an iron-willed commitment to something.
I love reading this blog before I go hit the gym on my lunch break. Curls is a damn beast…so impressive.
Just wanted to throw this quote in from Bruce Lee.
“Circumstances….? Hell I will make circumstances!!”
Al in Vancouver says
Great story Zach. Thanks, again, for all the inspiration you send us.
Jamie Sulc says
That’s an awesome story Zach.
It’s truly amazing how hard work and dedication will always pay off.
I wish more people could wrap their minds around that concept.
Fellas, ha ha, NO, that is NOT Curls, BUT….I was actually Curls’ teacher in grades 4 and 5 back when he was age 9-11, and guess what, Curls was BIGGER than that harry Potter kid, meaning…chubbier!
Through middle school Curls continued to play a variety of sports but he was very aggressive with his calisthenics, it made a huge difference for him by 8th grade.
It would do the same for others as well.
But NO joke, Curls was fatter and pudgier than that kid in Harry Potter.
Love the comments bruddahs!
Vic Magary - GymJunkies says
Awesome! The ones who make it to where they want to be are the ones who never quit. You gotta have that-Never SURRENDER,(GIVE UP) attitude.
great article zach. nothing beats hardwork
I would love to know more about curls and his success. Especially his athletic career..
The Brand says
Thanks for replying and clearing the Harry Snotter photo 😉
Do you realise you shared an awesome piece of info with us?
How many teachers do you know who’s pupils follow them – away from the classroom – and then follow them and their advice for years and years.
Zach – THAT ALONE – elevate you to an even higher level of respect in my mind.
THAT – is special !!!
R E S P E C T !!!
The Brand says
Ask Curls for some – historic photos – and please post them.
Before and after photos – that every ‘chubby’ kid in primary and high school MUST see 😉
Matty Holmes says
I was bummed I didnt get to meet curls when I was out there bro!
BUt I believe this, you have to believe in your training and commit to it. I just wrote a little post on something similar with life and training over on mine bro. Let me know what you think.
You have been THE biggest influence in my career and training. Thank you bro!
Your workouts are somewhat easier than what I used to do (hey, at 70, you do what you can do).
Why don’t you try this one on for size.
Buy yourself a full size tractor chain (20 footer).
Take your 10 “full sized” railroad ties (not he down sized ones sold at Home Depot or Lowes) that you have fully and neatly stacked in one pile 4 high.
Start by pulling the top RR tie off the top to the ground.
Put the chain underneath and lock up the chain on it.
Pull RR tie (facing the tie) 50′ up your driveway or slope.
Go back to RR stack and take #2 off the stack.
When you can do 10 in a row, put together your video.
Am I serious? Yes.