REAL World Strength vs Pretty Boy Bodybuilding


It was the Fall of 2007......

Interesting story from today while training a crew of wrestlers and football players....

Two high school kids stopped by the gym while we were outside flipping tires, pulling and pushing sleds, carrying kegs, sandbags and Kettlebells. One of them looked to be 220 lbs of drugged up muscle. How do I know? Because this same kid attended a speed & strength camp that I ran 3 years prior when he was a freshman weighing 130 lbs. Three Years later, he's 220 and puffy.

The designer steroids of today give that puffy look and get you jacked without heavy lifting. Unlike the simplicity of the 60s and early 70s when bodybuilders DID lift heavy and took dbol (dianabol). Back then, even with drugs, you had to EARN it.

This article was originally written in 2008 or 2009. It's interesting that it still gets hate because I mention drug use. Today (2023) drug use is commonplace and I can say things have changed because I grew up in gyms going back to 1989. I have seen the changes.

Back to my story.......

This athlete was arrogant and delusional at the same time so it struck a chord with me. He was telling me how he was going to enter MMA and it kind of broke my heart. He was 5'5" and looked like he wouldn't be able to move like an athlete one bit. There's a difference in being "gym strong" vs performance ready.

I had seen this kid maybe 3 years ago and he was 130 lbs. It truly broke my heart to see he took the path of chemical enhancement when he was just a young teenager. He will never know what he was able to accomplish his own. I am not a believer in drugs when I have seen for decades what hard work and proper nutrition can do drug free.

At the time of my update to this article (Summer 2023) I am reminded as I train my high school football team and watch a new athlete struggle. The new athlete is entering 11th grade and has a very impressive physique but every training session I see the difference in a bodybuilding pump up physique vs a physique that was built through performance based training.

Trap Bar Deadlifts with 135 and this athlete with a great physique struggles; knees caving in, back hunching over and no understanding of moving like an athlete. Bench Press; the bar can't (does not want to) touch his sternum. "I've got bad shoulders". When incline DB benching, elbows are flared wide and when told to DB bench with palms facing in, "I can't, it hurts my shoulders."

The entire session today reminded that the pump up training gets you looking good yet moving like shyt.

The video below with Dr. Ken and Mike Gentry is an example of training for performance outside the weight room. I believe you should merge the two styles together when the time and place is right. 

I used to be the pretty boy bodybuilder myself. And although I was natural, the bottom line is that I trained the wrong way. Louie Simmons regularly says, "There are two ways to train; a right way and a wrong way." I was training with light weights, doing lots of volume per body part and focused on squeezing the muscle, forced reps and negatives. I trained slow, nothing with speed and power. I had no clue how to train for performance, unfortunately.

Here's where I used to learn my training from:

I thought this style of training was over for athletes but walk into a gym and you'll see teen athletes doing slow motion machine and cable exercises. You'll see them doing 4 day bodybuilding splits. You will see forced reps and excess machines. I wrongly assumed that with all the information available at their fingertips, teens today would be training smarter.

The reality is, most freshman can't do 10 push ups. Most high school kids have a flabby belly and boobs. This is a combination of poor training and ultra processed foods. Still, the information is out there on how to do this the right way but teens are weaker today than ever before.

When I was in high school, I LOOKED big and strong but when it was time to compete for sports, I was NOT strong. I would fatigue early in wrestling matches and it frustrated and confused me tremendously back then. This would then effect me psychologically and emotionally. My confidence would crash and burn. If you're a Coach, you hopefully understand how the mind drives the body. Nobody told me to do anything differently because they saw me working hard and training often but still, hard work on the wrong exercises helps no one!

I still remember reading way too many articles telling me to "squeeze the muscle" and "feel the muscle". I didn't read ANY articles on getting Strong, Tough, Explosive. Those 80s and early 90s magazines did not share sports performance training.

I could have used some Bill Starr training from The Strongest Shall Survive. Powerlifting USA was nowhere to be found and if I did see a Powerlifter, they were fat and weaker than most bodybuilders. Imagine if I came across some Louie Simmons and  Westside Barbell training methods back then. It would have been a game changer for me, as it is for the athletes I train today.

The wrong training will decrease your performance in sports. ALL Show, NO Go.

Beach muscles are completely different than muscles that are needed to perform and dominate in sports.

I used to be impressed when I saw athletes who were jacked, until I started seeing many of those bodybuilder looking athletes getting their a** kicked. I've seen this in Wrestling & Football quite often. The strongest guy in the weight room is not always the best athlete. The guy who looks imposing without a shirt is not always the best athlete.

The right exercises must be the ones you focus on. You need Transfer of Training.

Listen to the Louie Simmons STRONG Life Podcast below:

333 | Louie Simmons on Special Strength Training for MMA Fighters & Track Athletes, GPP for Youth Athletes & Lessons from The Westside Barbell Book of Methods

I had to explain this to the wrestlers when one of them told me how he got intimidated when he saw how his opponent was all jacked up, BUT, he said the kid did NOT feel strong when he wrestled against him. Luckily, it didn't psyche him out too much and so he was able to get out there and dominate.

The kids we train at The Underground Strength Gym..... They have become BEASTS and they are ready to compete in the REAL world.... their training has served a purpose beyond just "looking good" or getting 6 pick abs. Looking good is a side effect, of course.

If you want to build a Gladiator's physique, or maybe you want to dominate in your sport, or maybe you just want to walk tall and have the confidence knowing you strong in the gym AND in life, then you MUST stay FAR away from today's fancy training methods.

The fads, the gimmicks, the short cuts.... Don't avoid the tough work, the hard work.... chase it and embrace it! I don't care how many drugs a guy takes to look jacked, once it's "Go Time", the fake muscles will not get the job done.

We can call this building "Functional Muscles" or what was coined decades ago, Transfer of Training.

Does your training have a transfer to your sport, career, life?

The basics will never let you down and often times you need to get away from the pump up, squeeze and feel the muscle style training.

Train to Look Strong AND BE Strong....

Recommended Resources:

The SSPC Certification

SSPC Online Certification

Click HERE to Find out How to Build Dominant Athletes

The Underground Strength Academy

54 Responses

  1. AWESOME VID MAN , i honestly love ur vids dude watched maybe ova 40 of them , U are so right stuff that bicep curl, machine press crap, for the past 20 weeks ive been duing only compounds exercises duin full upperbody and then full lowerbody days with big lifts like clean and press , bench press , dips , pull ups chin ups , deadlifts ,squats , front squats , bent over rows etc. And u can bet im stronger than my peers at the gym ( university gym ) who cant deadlift half as much as me duin there 1 arm tricep kick back , and swiss ball crunches crap , thanks for your vids Zach your tommy

  2. Hey Zach well i know what you mean by pumped up guys, but dont be too hard on them they just havent learned how to use all that muscle. Its seems we’ve gotten away from Big strong usable muscles to just big muscles

  3. All I can say is amen brother! Awesome rant Zack… guys all jacked up on drugs yet doing the pec deck, concentration curls, and cable cross overs… haha, those people kill me. It’s because of guys like that at public gyms in my town, I now train in my basement and outside. Swamp walks looks good, gonna give that a go!

  4. great vid coach!

    and great thoughts, I am absolutely on your side. no one can build real-world-strength with sissy-super-concentration-hyper-extendended-shi…..

    work out like a dinosaur and one will get a dinosaur, work out like a pretty boy and one will stay a pretty boy!

  5. Bob Dodds says:

    Juiced personality traits go beyond revealed shoulders at the gym like Michele Obama at the inauguration(like JFK no hat at his that’s fine it’s not a gym!), to juiced high schoolers and cops and guards with synthetic attitude. To be fair to cops and guards, some of the juiced high school kids are trying to get a head start on their lives of crime, so the fear is real, but not the synthetic huff and puff.

    I was out in the dark, and the “Anytime” of Anytime Fitness sounded good for creatures of darkness. I looked in the window and there was a miserable numbed out certified caretaker facing the wall, looking away from two cops who were working out in there. One cop had the sense to use free weights, but dumb bells outnumber barbells a thousand to one there. The other cop was a girl who looked great like a fitness model before she got to a gym. She was advertising a treadmill but couldn’t fool me. There were ten treadmills and one barbell. I went back to my balls and chains without any envy. I have rights.

    Cops who police their own neighborhood by choice don’t work out in rooms full of exercise machines or shoot their partner in the back from juice or crank dependency. I can profile a currently estrogenized former I don’t care what kind of celebrity football coach by the way he jumps behind an effigy in the big game ever week now. We to choose our own hormones every few hours, train hard, hydrate, sleep, and then we won’t s*** *** like ****** *** ***** when a little bitta **** ******. I will be looking for that small bug that squashed me last time.

  6. Zach, couldn’t agree more with your comments on the ‘pretty boys’. I am 42 years old and have always enjoyed a varied fitness life style. I train at my local sports stadium where I have for a long time incorporated many of the training principles you use. I get a bit of name as that guy who always comes up with some wacky way of doing things. A guy I know overheard a conversation between two juiced up pretty boys talking about me and saying that to be able to train like that, ‘that dude must be on the gear.’ I was really f**king pissed off when my I heard this, so the next time I saw these two guys I put them straight then challenged them to train with me for a session. One wimped out before we even started and the other cried off after 20 minutes. Guess they’ll be keeping their comments to themselves from now on. Keep up the good work, enjoy the site and the training info, Gerry.

  7. Aaryn Smith says:

    good stuff zach. What you said also realtes to all these young cats who are now involved in mma. I dealt with one these clowns here in italy who wore all the “fight gear” and talked a big game, usually involved him looking ridiculous in the weight room grunting and growling while doing his lateral pulls and leg presses on machines but first time i sparred this “striker” i rearranged his face with my 6 years of on and off kickboxing experience, my buddy whos a blue belt out submitted him and he got his ass handed to him by a few wrestlers. But yet he continued to wear his affliction shirts and warrior shorts and growl at the gym and i hope he gets his ass kicked while hes in cali dealing with a legitimate acadamy, that is all.

  8. Ralph Foster says:

    HEy Guys!
    You’re right on. I’m a fifty one years old strength and endurance athlete that has played almost every sport available at one time or another and still train as heavy as ever with “odd objects”. As a result, I’m just as strong as ever and am currently concentrating on building even more strength, power and endurance. I am getting your information because with over 40 years of experience I can tell you have the REAL DEAL. I’ve never worked out with sandbags that much but I am adding them to my current program of martial, artsbody weight, indian clubs, kettlebells, power walking and the big three bench, deadlift and squat.

  9. Guys, thanks for the awesome responses.

    I agree, maybe they have NOT been shown the right way.

    Being right next to a gym, they have LARGE garage doors and they were watching us carry sandbags, buddy carries on our backs, the anvil and doing many of this while wearing a 88 lb weight vest!

    It peaked their interest – and it reminds me of a jacked up kid who came here to train, natural, strong kid, but very beach muscle oriented

    The athletes were a bit stricken by him because he looked the part of bad ass, but 10 minutes into the workout their confidence changed as they saw he could not row the 130 lb dumbbells for 15 – 20 reps using no straps, he could not handle the pace of the aggressive workout, and the prowler almost sent the ambulance coming for him.

    he had the potential though – b/c he was not relying on the drugs.

    I used to train with juiced up bodybuilders ALL the time. I was TOO scared to get involved.

    I would outwork them with intensity and my only goal was to punish them and send them into the bathroom puking.

    They may have been bigger, but REAL world strength and intensity they didn’t have.

    I relied on my own mind while others relied on the drugs they took.

    On the flip side, let me say this…there are MANY who use the drugs and DO train hard as hell…unfortunately, this is part of their sport and it makes for their own level playing field.

    In the end though, it’s the guy who still trains harder and smarter, eats better and does everything with consistency that will win, no matter what drugs he does / does not use.

    Looking forward to more comments dudes.

    Kill it!


  10. UR KiLL’n it(fancy-boys) I appreciate full weLL your ‘grip’on what actual strength training iS. Thanks be.
    Be fit be sTrong..
    Nekoamas ~

  11. kevin green says:

    I am 54 years old. have worked before at very hard manual labor before I.E. putting in fences. digging holes mixing cement with a shovel carrying rolls of wire and metal pipes around ,in the hot sun and while working for a hardass older brother.
    I also am a black belt judo player coming out of a very competitive judo club. i have lifted weights since 1972 had college level weight training classes
    other words ‘been around’. I have known world team wrestlers olympic wrestlers and olympic judo players.

    I can tell you guys that steroids make abnormal muscles as evidenced by plugs taken of actual muscles observed under microscopes. they also dont have the stamina that regular muscles have.

    Creatine , zma, bee pollen (if not allergic!) are good for results as are beef eggs etc. water also but you gotta do the work, so suffer bitch!
    With the pain comes the tunnel vision the eye of the tiger so to speak. I do see red and get extremely pissed off from pain and you get that by walking it off not giving in to it.
    not by sitting down and whineing
    Anyway keep it up you are doing a tremendous service to alot of guys that dont know how to push themselves in the right direction. Remember the motto of the french foreign legion MARCH OR DIE! the dicipline comes in small increments your workout buddies and trainers help push you thru the can beleive in zach he has your best interests in mind

  12. yeah, i worked at a commercial gym where these “pretty boys” and “juice heads” would try to take over the weight room with their bodybuilding routines. It makes me sick.

    after a year I decided that I was going to do a bodybuilding show to show some of these dudes what was up. I trained the old school, functional way with athletic movements and underground methods. Its hard as hell to do it naturally but I did it. I won the short class but lost to a “dirty” tall winner for the overall.

    7 days later I was contacted over the phone and told that the winner was indeed “dirty”! They stripped him of the overall title and gave me the title but it pissed me off knowing that I paid the price week after week of training smart and intense without ever juicing or using illegal drugs!

    I laugh when I run in to the dude in the gym from time to time. He still does his pretty boy routines and spends about 45 mins curling in the squat rack! He’s a disgrace. He knows when he sees me around. He towers over me but looks stright to the ground when he sees me. He ain’t underground like us and never will be.

    It takes a special breed to do what we all believe in and endure on a daily basis with the underground training methods! I got the chance to experience it first hand with Zach and his boys at his gym in Edison. Real World Shit!

    The fact is a dude can get extremely jacked up using these methods of training Zach preaches about. Thus I became a certified underground strength coach to continue to spread the philosophy of hard core, no bs, old school gladiator training! So if you want the real stuff, you’ve got to get to Edison to see how it is if you dont know.

    It’ll make you a beast both mentally and physically!

    For Zach and everyone else who believes in this stuff, keep killin it!

  13. I go into these gmys where I am from and these guys think they are strong due to someone being pumped up but when they get under the bench or deadlift they are weak. I do floor presses, deadlifts, cleans, KB’s and I love farmers walks and they wonder why they lack stability strength I train my stability by doing push-ups on a bar that is loaded with 45’s and elevate my feet Its on hell of a exercise!

  14. Zach. At the root of your video is a simple concept; it’s a choice we each need to make sometimes- Does one give in to one’s ego of trying to impress people with how one looks, or does one dedicate his days, and much effort, into becoming a genuine person/athlete? It’s good to see web sites like your dedicated to the honest and pure pursuit of human strength conditioning. The famous psychiatrist Carl Jung once said “Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a small voice inside us says, ‘Something is out of tune.’ ” Thanks for keeping your readers in check and making sure we’re doing the real deal- strength conditioning the old school way.

  15. you guys are beasts, love the comments, and, I also understand not everyone will agree w/my stance or opinion, so no worries

    Kevin and fellas, I would NOT want to tangle w/you guys down a dark alley.

    Kevin – regarding Judo, we have a beastly guy here, training under Cranford Judo Club, their coach is former Olympic Judo Coach – David Ellis is a nice guy, until he steps on the mat, which is when I would fear my limbs!


  16. Great bit, Zach! I coach football at a small high school in the mountains outside San Diego. I’ve got my kids doing all your work. We threw a makeshift weight room together with equipment off of craigs list. My team is working out Mon/Wed/Fri… Bench, deadlift & squats… Killing it and going heavy! On thursday we have Gladiator day down by the field in a dirt lot. Sled drags, tire flippin’, san bag step ups, 100 lb keg presses & 200 lb keg lifts onto the back of my flatbed truck. Farmer carry bars, heavy rope swings, pull ups and 40 yard back peddle draggin a 90 lb rail road tie. These kids are loving it & some of them are just turning into animals. Every week one or two of them are walking off & puking in the bushes.. but they come back for more! I’m 40 and I get under the bars with them and flip tires with them. I believe as a coach, you got to lead from the front! You can’t fool these kids… you either got it, or you don’t! Keep up the great work. Can’t wait for the season to start in September so my guys can reak havok on all the pretty little private schools in San Diego with their $100,000.00 weight rooms.

  17. Show me a big bodybuilder, natural or not, thats not throwing around heavy ass slag iron in addition to his cable curls and pec decks. Ever seen Big Nasty (Ron Coleman)’s videos where he front squats 600 for a double, squats 800 for reps, pulls 800 for a double, 200 lb db’s thrown all over the place for chest and shoulder work, and lunges for days with 315 on his back. How about Blood and Guts, where Dorian Yates is barbell rowing more 500 lbs for reps? Ever seen how Skip LaCour trains?

    Strong is strong is strong. There is no “real world” strength. Strength by its own definition is “real world”, and anyone who tries to argue that you NEED kb’s, fat bars, giant ropes, sleds, sand bags, tires, or whatever else is no different from the coat rack saying that you NEED the latest supplement, bosu ball, stability CRAP.

    I really wish people would stop hating on bodybuilders (the real ones, not your typical gym rat guido) for being pretty boys, powerlifters for being gear whores, and anyone who is using any sort of drug to get bigger, faster, and stronger. Were all here to do the same damn thing, and thats get better than our competition as fast as we can.

  18. Ain’t that the truth! Awesome, Zach. Tell it like it is, man.

  19. paul from ireland says:

    I am training for bodybuilding comp at the moment because i want to give it a go i am one of the strongest men in the gym never used any juice not even creatine. for hypertrophy you need the tri kickbacks and pecdeck shit but all the fun is in the deadlifts squats big ass movements you speak alot about old school and you are right natural movements multi muscle moves are best for overall strength but for perfect tone you have to walk that walk as well thanks for all the great advice keep up the good work

  20. Hey Tom – not hating on “real” bodybuilders – been there done that myself, nor did I say YOU MUST use tires, k-bells, etc.

    REAL world strength can come from a heavy barbell and nothing else – did that in my garage for months and made some kick ass gains like never before

    Ronnie Coleman and Skip train like beasts – that is serious f**ing strength, regardless of the drugs they use or not

    BUT, they ain’t gettin’ prettied up and lookin like models to train and pump – they move massive f**ing weights.

    If you’ve seen the early videos here, maybe # 9 of my tour through my old bodybuilding gym, diamond gym – we trained like powerlifters / bodybuilders.

    Talking was a waste – the music was too loud to hear one another

    Weights were big. It was heavy or not at all.

    Paul from Ireland – I disagree bro, you don’t need the kick backs

    the thick rugged bodybuilders from the 50’s – 70’s focused on heavy dips, heavy extensions w/barbells and d-bells

    REAL world strength is such a thing – it means being ready for whatever may come your way

    You don’t get that by pumpin light weights, spiking your hair and taking juice.

    I also believe it doesn’t develop mental toughness like heavy, aggressive, heart thumping training does.

    Lumping Ronnie, Skip, Dorian, etc w/the guys who do what I mentioned in this video is totally unfair, 100% unfair.

    I stick by my words but totally respect the fat that you state your thoughts and feelings.

    Also, let it be known, I don’t want this place to be a place of arguing, rather a place for all of us hardcore lifters to discuss and communicate our opinions and thoughts.

    And BTW, when I was bodybuilding, my idols were:

    Mentzer bros
    Casey Viator

    I used to cut school to record every episode of American Muscle Magazine on ESPN

    I stupidly passed ALL of them on to some 1 who I thought had the passion for strength.

    More to come bruddahs and sistas!



  21. Great post, Zach! I lived for years and years amongst bodybuilder roof-heads…even dates a few! Scary! Anyhow, I don’t give a crap what anyone says…juice is cheating…it’s not good for you…I look at dudes (and chicks, eww) who use it and my opinion of them is that they have a work ethic that’s less than mine…they can’t handle hard work! Why are people so friggin lazy these days? Argh! Ok gotta train my next victim!

  22. hmmm…you tarred some good men zach,without roids we wouldn’t see 1000lb. lifts.i wonder if coan,pacifico or the kaz would be champions clean,a topic for another day!

  23. Joe Chizek says:

    What you said is real life stuff man! It’s funny how we all learn and grow. When I was getting into lifting I thought to get big and strong was lifting like a body builder. Little did I know that years down the road I would run into coach Z and the underground gym. It took me back to reality and when I was a kid growing up on a ranch in Wyoming. All the stuff I did working on that ranch is what I should of kept doing. Good thing coach Z saved me and took me underground. I will never ever go back to doing those wimp as body builder routines. Anyone wanting to know how to build real world mass and strength go to Zach and he will take you under his wing….

  24. Great video… Those Hokies are beasts wish I could get my hands on that video

  25. zack, you always bring the realness!!! thank the lord!!!

  26. Scott – that’s a damn good question bro. If they are all on roids, then it IS a level laying field.

    Would the same dudes be champions if we took away the drugs?

    Once again, it would be a level playing field.

    I still remember back when they drug tested the Mr. Olympia – they all dropped 20 – 30 lbs and Lee Haney still won.

    In powerlifting, maybe it would be the same?

  27. Nice stuff Zack

    Is funny because other trainers I know tell me that I’m going to get hurt because I train hard, heavy and don’t do any curls and things like that.

    The funny thing is that they have bad shoulders, bad back and bad elbows. When we train together they are scared of lifting heavy and they get mad because I don’t do arms.

    I think that by saying “pussified training methods” you hit right on target. Not only is pussified training, but is also making your body less strong, less fast and increasing injuries.

    Thanks for telling it like it is.

  28. You got it man, you gotta be able to back up your muscle. fuckin eh man! light weights aint worth the time like you said. Go big or go home!

  29. Dude, that video was totally bad ass! Your ability to be brutally honest about stuff is what makes us log in all day every day. Right now that kind of honesty is what the world needs to hear. If you get haters then f**k it, they’ll get over it! By the way the Swamp Walk was kick ass!


  30. kevin green says:

    When things get rough whether its lifting weights or going thru lifes ups and downs, there are mind games that I found help. Like the line George C Scott says in the movie ‘Patton’.
    “There are brave men dieing out there , waiting for us to come and help them. We are going to attack thru the night, then we are going to attack into the morning, after that we are going to attack some more. And if we arent successful, let no man come back alive”!
    Attack Atack Atack! Atack those weights, squeeze that bar embrace that burn. Pain is a sign that you are still alive!
    There are two ways of learning …Science and suffering. And Zack embraces both!

  31. Pingback: Fitness Blogger » Blog Archive » Underground Strength Training vs Pretty Bodybuilding
  32. Justin A in Nor Cal says:

    When a pumped up bodybuilder shows up to my gym, if he’s got a bad attitude, I Fran him. It’s kind of entertaining to watch what happens. Word to the wise, better keep the pukie bucket close….

  33. i work some nights as a bouncer, i don’t like to tangle with anybody in dark alleys or dark doorways. always the last option. i used to be surrounded by pretty boys and walking pharmacutical companies, all it did was make me push harder. wish zach had been around then. i quit the gym scene a long time ago. the last good gym in my area closed down about 5 years ago. i work out now at home in the yard. try to taylor it to the weather. don’t want to deadlift in a rainstorm but guess that would be one hell of a grip workout. i don’t even have a garage. check the pics on face book.ha. i get the kids involved when i can, so they are learning the right way. personaly i think zachs way is the future. we will see more and more warehouse gyms, the weider era is over.

  34. I agree totally! I had a guy at my chiro that was lifting and walking all flared arms. Barely able to walk through the door at a whole buck 85! He looked at me and asked what I benched. Now I respect the big benchers, but I do look at it as a measure of manhood. I told him I don’t bench. I do dumbbells and push ups. He laughed! So I explained that boys bench and men deadlift! Taking a look at his little legs, lack of upper back thickness, and lack of hand gloves he had no clue what I was talking about. I told him that real strength comes from moving your body weight. At 285# I can still do 20 full range pullups (granted I then drop to 15x2sets and 12 to fail) and a 100 pushups without stop/sagging hips/and touching the chest to the floor/full lockout.
    Some knuckleheads just don’t get it!
    I like the handing of the super gripper to the beast in training. I have a place that I get my training tires from. One day I was getting new wheels for my wife’s van when I told the guy to put two in the back of the van. Being a new guy he had no idea that I was a regular there. He asked why, and the manager leaned out of his office and said,”I bet it is for your boys.” You better believe it! I don’t make them workout, but they do what I do. So if I am flipping tires they do. Everything I do they do on their own. They eat what I eat, and love to train. It could be worse. I could be a smoking, drunk that treats his wife like crap. Instead I’m a stay home dad that doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t eat processed foods/junk foods, and trains.
    Keep up the good work! And I have already told the wife when I save up enough pennies I am coming to your gym for a cert.

  35. Love it, very entertaining video especially with ‘Dude’ working out.
    I don’t do the strength training but I guess truth is in flipping those tyres but I hope that mixing the gym and real world strength training I could adopt in the gym somehow.

  36. anthony c says:


    i’ve been following the blog for a while but really just lurk. seeing this sentiment for the second time- i’ve coming out of the dark and posting.

    this is SO right on the pulse of what i think about when i train.

    i work out at the park in front of my house with the usual underground gear- bells, tires, sandbags, pull ups, olmypic bar etc.. my neighbors or people at the park always ask me what i’m training for- i tell them for life.

    we used to be hunter-gatherers. now we work behind computers and have reality TV and credit cards. if all that sh*t went away, where would you be? that’s a question i ask myself. then i lift heavy things with reckless abandon and push myself. when i want to quit- i remind myself that if i can’t lift what’s in front of me or do one more sprint of one more round of pull ups- how can i expect to protect myself or my loved ones or evade a horde of zombies (only 60% joking on the last part).

    i’m with you on this 100%- my own anecdote and then i’m done rambling. i’m 30 years old, 5’10” and about 150lbs. i was in vegas for a work conference and i went to the hotel gym. i was doing dead lifts and pull ups. a no neck affilction-short wearing, hair-gelled-at-the-gym d*bag was cranking out lat pulls on the machine. when i get serious, i turn up my head phones, take off my shoes and go. i don’t care who’s around me, if i’m feeling it, i’ll make a little noise. after a set of pull ups i caught him snickering. i said screw it. went back to work. when i was done and walking out, he asked hey dude, whadaya bench? i told him i did’nt know and didn’t care. watched him do another set of lat pulls with the whole rack on the machine and then asked him, hey dude, how many pull ups can you do? he said let’s see. walked over to the pull up bar and couldnt do one. not a single one. he tried and tried. FAIL. he was PISSED. i laughed and left.
    yeah- he look great pulling that whole stack of weights with his gelled hair. but when the zombies swarm, i’m climbing my ass up on a roof and running and he’s lunch.

    thanks for all you do zach. knowing you and others are out there makes me hate less.

  37. P. Fitzpatrick says:

    If you get sick and bedridden and you are bodybuilder, you watch your pumped-up muscles shrink fast. If your have trained for strength, endurance, and conditioning, you bounce back harder and faster. I am sure there is a scientific explanation (red fibers, white fiber, etc.) but there is a simple difference between show and substance.

  38. What I don’t understand Zach, is why they don’t want to train with all the methods, if you don’t want to be confined to the little box then one should abandoned the safe confines and explore other things that can surely get you stronger which will enable you to lift heavier and build bigger, stronger, permanent muscles. I’m a competitive bodybuilder in the natural arena and when I see these implements I get very excited like a kid in a candy store, but, I’m 53 so I’m far from the kid but I do act like one when there is a tire, sled or any implement around so I can mix up my training with. — OLD SCHOOL, REAL SCHOOL.

  39. I have tried to tell people that for years. What good does it do to lift a lot of weight if you cannot apply it anywhere. I love your training videos. I coach wrestling and am getting my team involved in sandbags, kettlebells, and body weight training. I am trying to get the money to buy tires, more ropes, chains, sleds, etc. I have looked my whole life for people that think like this. Thanks for all of your stuff. One of these days we will meet in person and tear it up together. Keep it coming.

  40. I agree in 100 %. Remember when once bodybuilder (lean, ripped, and pretty) came to our Krav Maga training. Coach told him to fight with me and he had that stupid smile (I weighted like 160 and he like 200). Guess what happened when he get first few shots. I could saw amazement and fear in his eyes. NO MENTAL TOUGHNESS NOR REAL WORLD STRENGTH!

  41. Hey zach I just call a lot of the bodybuilder that just do for the look of big muscle showcases for the fact that they can only be looked at and not able to use the so called power that they think they have lol it like the old snl skit of the two guys with pillows for muscle saying. We gonna pump you up.

  42. I got asked a couple of weeks ago by the manager at my gym how come i never use the nice shiny expensive machines they offer..i told him it’s cause im not a pussy and im not elderly…he doesnt talk to me anymore

  43. What purpose does being able to fight serve? I’d prefer to look good and have brains and maturity to not need to be able to whoop people in a dark alley! One purpose of looking good – not as big as a bodybuilder – is girls love it, far more than a guy who is insecure and needs to think he is tough. Today brains is far more powerful than how much we can lift!

    1. To the guy who asked “what purpose does being able to fight serve?” ask that the next time you are out with anyone you care about and are subsequently threatened (maybe in that dark alley).

      1. We must live in very different countries! Where I live I don’t lock my car or house when I’m home. The POLICE look after the peace and I’ve protected myself my more by understanding human psychology than being “strong”. Even in America – which has far higher crime rates than Australia – being strong means nothing… people are allowed to carry guns!

        1. Carlos Ortiz says:

          In the real world, it takes intellect,attitude,and the physical ability to respond effectively when it comes to handling problems and getting things done.Very rarely does a problem require a solution that is not multifaceted.The age we live in is one where danger is a constant threat regardless of where we live.People who follow the Underground Strength Methodology do so because WE REFUSE TO BE CAUGHT UNAWARES.WE REFUSE TO BE MENTALLY DOMINATED AND WE FOR DAMN SURE AINT GONNA BE PHYSICALLY DOMINATED. So, if that doesn’t interest you, please, locate the nearest exit and get the fuck out.

  44. Functional power!!! The first 6-7 years of my 10+ years of training were built around the bodybuilding lifestyle…im so glad those years are over. I was strong and I learned a lot but there is something about moving heavy things in a natural productive way that gets me more fired up than anything else! I wish I had this stuff coming at me when I started training years ago!! Good post Z

  45. SoCalBrian says:

    And the crazy thing is, you have way less injuries strongman training! hmmmm? maybe because strongman training developes real core strength and not just puffy pretty muscles! keep up the great work Zach!!! stay dirty!

  46. Great video! I was just having a discussion with a buddy who was crapping on my “gym muscle” workouts. He doesn’t understand the difference between “pump up” workouts and Underground style training. For some reason weight training is being confused for GTL, “pretty boy” type training. There is a difference! I say “bring on those guidos!”. Hahah!

  47. This is the future of REAL strength training, respect Zach. Looking to finish my studies (mature student after 20 years in British Army) & attend one of your courses from the UK next year. Where did you get hold of the Dr Ken footage by the way? It is rarer than rocking horse s**t lol, followed him back in the day of Stuart McRoberts original Hardgainer magazine that got me on the right road to training back in the mid 80″s.

    1. Craig, a guy dropped off a bunch of VHS tapes at my gym when I first opened, it ws the Fall of 2007 and he gifted me some old school stuff, amazing!

  48. “Swamp walk”, that’s the kind of real world awkward problem that fills in between classic gym movements.

    Kettlebells and sandbags have some awkwardness built in.

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