Sunday, November 27, 2011

No Classes At The Gym

Maxim #33

BARBELLS. DUMBELLS. THE BENCH. THE TREADMILL. That's it. That's the list of authorized gym equipment. No giant rubber bouncy balls that look like they've been stolen from Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. No thigh masters. And above all else, your trip to the gym may not involve a class.
You're not quite sure what happens in those so-called classes, but they seem to include lots of spandex, lots of pink, and lots of women writhing on the floor like they're auditioning for a Christina Aguilera video.
You view these classes with deep suspicion, lumping them in the same category as cricket, ska music, and imported cheese that doesn't need refrigeration. The one thing you know is that each class has only one guy. And it's not you.
Five classes you want no part of:

(1.) Cardio Kickboxing. You like the idea of kicking something... as long as it's to crack a dude's ribs or bust down a door. Granted, if you were in Will Ferrell's truth tree (the one in Old School with the little birds), you'd concede that you've never kicked anyone - much less broken down a door - but you understand, instinctively, that kicks are reserved for violence and bloodshed, not opening up chakras.
(2.) Pilates. No man's exercise should focus on "centering." It shouldn't be about your core. Exercise must involve powerful, brutish, injury-inducing motions that build raw muscle. You might be tempted to infiltrate the women's class so you can be that "sensitive guy." Good idea. Here's a better one: pretend to use the same gynecologist.
(3.) Yoga. (See MAXIM #36.)
(4.) Step Aerobics. Like Rocky, you frown on precise, sophisticated training that can just as easily be performed outdoors. If you want to climb steps, you'll sprint up and down the bleachers, dammit. If it gives you pneumonia or shatters your ankle, so be it. Better to get fat and injured honorably than get trim, healthy, and attractive the wrong way.
(5.) Pole Dancing. No.

It always begins the same way. You're having trouble hitting the gym on a regular ("regular" meaning more than twice a baseball season) and your buddy tells you about this awesome class that toned his abs, dropped his weight, and ripped his delts. You're intrigued. You remember what it was like to have abs, all those many years ago. You're not quite sure where your delts are, but you know they could be a little bigger. So you go for it.
Once you're in, you're in. Soon you're signing up for "Abs boot camp" (boot camp is for the Army, Navy, Marines, and nothing else) and "Jazz Aerobics." You drink wheat-germ shakes. You start matching your workout tops and bottoms. (You've long since stopped calling them shirts and shorts.) And none of this strikes you as weird.

This is a gray area and somewhat controversial, but you are allowed to join a cycling class. True, it's better to do this alone - on a real bike on a real road - but if you absolutely must take a gym class, you may save face in this torture chamber. Why's this different? Because there's nothing patronizing or emasculating or gimmicky about it: the goal is to sweat. And sweat and sweat until you're Ted Striker from Airplane!

From The Maxims of Manhood

Friday, November 25, 2011

Vasily Alexeev RIP

When I was very young, I used to watch Vasily Alexeev lift on ABC's Wide World of Sports. He was the last international weightlifting superstar.

534.5 pounds Clean & Jerk

I wish I spoke Russian - this looks pretty good!

ABC's Wide World of Sports Intro

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Who doesn't like to watch strongman contests? Fun stuff. The cooperative lifts (loading and log) were really interesting in this contest.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Christmas List For 2011

Rudolph, I bought you a brand new squat-rack for Christmas!

The local easy-listening radio station has already started playing Christmas classics, so I've decided to put this year's Christmas shopping suggestions out for everyone a little earlier than usual. As always, I've tried to include items that work with a range of budgets.

Chalk - $12.95 + S&H
This is one of those supplies a lifter could always use more of...

Dan John's "Mass Made Simple" (book) - $19.95 + S&H
I did a review of this product here. If you have someone in your life that, despite their best efforts, can't put on muscle mass, then this book is for them.

Pulling John (DVD) - $24.99 + S&H
Arm wrestling is one of those very primal strength sports that every meathead enjoys doing, or at least watching. John Bryzenk is a arm-wrestling champion for the ages and this video documents his attempt to stave off young bucks trying to dethrone him. The DVD looks fantastic and it's on my personal list for Santa this year.

Easy Strength (book) - $39.95 + S&H
I reviewed an advanced copy of this book by Pavel and Dan John and it was great. Research and anecdotes, and Dan John and Pavel talking shop - what more could you want? I ordered a paperback copy late last week and I can't wait to read the final version.

4' x 6' x 3/4" Rubber Mat - about $50/mat at your local farm supply store
Most of the stuff online seems overpriced, but if you are looking for affordable, durable floor covering for lifting, this is what you need. Put  a layer down on top of concrete and unless you are dropping Olympic medal-level weights from overhead with regular metal plates, your floor is probably safe.

Dragon Door 1.5 Pood (53lbs) Kettlebell - $118.75 + S&H
I have kettlebells from 10lbs to 88lbs, and I still use the 1.5 pood for most things. For me, it's not so heavy that I dread using it, and it's not so light that I need to wonder if I've worked hard enough. Most of the time, it's "just right".

Rouge 2" Axle Bar - $125 + S&H
I bought one of these this year and I've enjoyed it. I generally lift light with it, but friends have loaded it up to 400lbs and put in some reps with it and it's held up just fine.

Dan John's "Intervention" (DVD set) - $129 + S&H
I reviewed this DVD set here. Folks, it really is great. If you are a strength and conditioning coach, or a trainer, it's a "must-have". Yes, I've said that before, but it's more true for this product than any other. Get it if you can. If you can't, borrow it.

Shopping Lists From Previous Years:
Holiday Shopping List 2008

Holiday Shopping List 2009

Holiday Shopping List 2010

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

RIP Andy Rooney

I was always a huge Andy Rooney fan. When I was a young kid, we'd eat Sunday dinner at my grandparents house and, seated in the living room with our "TV trays", we'd watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and Disney. Sandwiched between those two kid-favorites, was 60 Minutes - I didn't watch the news segments, but I loved Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney as much as the adults.
If Andy Rooney had been a blogger or tweeter, he would have been one of the best. His writing was clear and concise, humorous with a point and a lesson, often moving.
The following is one of those pieces that you read now and think to yourself "This guy's a genius!!!". At least I do. Thank you Andy for all the wonderful wit and wisdom you've given us over the years.

The Andy Rooney Upside-Down Diet
   The biggest sellers in any bookstore are the cookbooks and the diet books. The cookbooks tell you how to prepare the food and the diet books tell you not to eat any of it.
   The quickest way for a writer to get rich is to write a diet book. A cookbook is more difficult. With a diet book all you need is one bad idea and a lot of statistics on what has how many calories. If you want to make the book thicker, you put in a whole series of typical meals that adhere to your idea.
   As someone who's been eating too much all his life, I think I'm as qualified to write a diet book as anyone, and as a writer I'm twice as ready to get rich. Not only that, I have an idea. My book would be called The Andy Rooney Upside-Down Diet Book.
   My theory is based on the idea that the average overweight person has to change his eating habits drastically. The overweight man or woman has fallen into a pattern of eating that is making him or her fat, and the only way that person is going to lose weight is for him to turn his eating habits upside down.
   The appetite itself (I'll say in the Foreword to my book) is a strange mechanism. Our stomach often signals our brain that it's ready to have something sent down when our body doesn't really need anything yet.
   As I understand it - and you don't have to understand things very well to write a diet book - the appetite is depressed as the blood sugar level rises. The trouble is that the blood sugar level rises slowly as your digestive processes start taking apart the food you've consumed, so that you can still feel hungry for quite a while after you've had enough because your blood sugar level hasn't caught up with your stomach.
So much for theory. Here, in brief, is my diet. You'll want to buy the book later, I imagine.
   Basically, what I'm suggesting you do is reverse the order in which you eat things at a meal, and change the habits you have in regard to what you eat for what meal.
   Forget cereal, pancakes or bacon and eggs for breakfast. We're going to start the morning with a bowl of chicken soup. Chicken soup will serve a dual purpose. It's nourishing, not fattening, and because it's a hot drink you won't need coffee. If you don't have coffee, you won't need sugar. No one is going to be tempted to put sugar in chicken soup.
   The beauty of the diet - and I want them to make this clear on the jacket of my book - is that you don't have to deny yourself anything. Eat absolutely anything you feel like eating. The magic of my diet is in making sure you don't feel like eating much.
Before dinner many of us consume what we call appetizers. Don't take appetizers off your diet if you like them, just don't eat them first. In our Upside-Down Diet Book we'll be laying out more than one hundred weight losing model meals. A typical breakfast might consist of half a grape, a bowl of chicken soup and plain butter, no toast.
   Lunch might consist of ketchup, a Fig Newton, two Oreo Creme Sandwiches and lukewarm Ovaltine. In other words, Eat All You Want, but Change What You Want.
   Your main meal will be dinner. Classic cuisine has called for an appetizer first, soup, a fish dish, meat, vegetables and potatoes, followed by cheese and then dessert. We're going to ask you to shake that up if you want to lose weight.
   Each of our Upside-Down Diet meals will start with a bowl of ice cream or a chocolate eclair. Follow this with a small fish dish or oyster, clams or shrimp with a chocolate sauce. This will have the effect of raising your blood sugar level abruptly, and by the time the main course of oatmeal, corn flakes or Fruit Loops with buttermilk comes, you might not want any at all.
   I don't want to be greedy, but after the book is published I have high hopes that it will be made into a movie.