First week of school freshman year, we have our first JV football game against our cross town rival, Mount Pleasant Green Knights. After two weeks of doubles in the summer heat, the team is ready to dominate. Varsity plays on Saturday and JV plays Monday after school against the same team the varsity played two days prior. But, for some reason, to this day I'm not sure why, the JV played on the previous Thursday, two days before the varsity. This would be the last game my dad would watch me play.
You see, I was very fortunate in the sense that my family never missed a game. Never! My dad, Big Ben, was always the loudest guy in the stands. He was loud to the point of humiliation at times, but damn he was a supportive fan, cheerleader and parent. My mom was always there too and just as supportive, but her diminutive five foot stature would always be overshadowed by the screaming and yelling maniac barking over the four foot fence just a few feet from the track, seemingly just inches from the earhole in my helmet.
That momentary embarrassment as a 14 year old kid would eventually be realized as a sense of pride that a father feels for his boy. Today I know this feeling, not from my offspring, but from my athletes that I train at TSS. I occasionally get to see them perform in their respective sport and it always brings me joy to see the fruits of their labor. I realize it is not quite the same, but it's the closest thing I have at this point in my life. And yes, I make my presence known at their games as well. If you're a coach or a parent, you know the feeling.
In sixth grade my father was diagnosed with cancer and he spent a year being pretty sick but made a good recovery. The following year, while I was in seventh grade, he was doing well, working and just being Big Ben. Then in eighth grade, he got sick again and spent an entire year essentially in misery. I recall him once sitting on the couch at the end of the night just before bed, holding his belly in agony, moaning under his breath trying not to let anyone hear his discomfort and pain. Talk about the big fat elephant in the room. I glanced at my mom across the room on the cranberry and navy plaid loveseat, and she motioned to me to give him a hug with a tear rolling down her cheek. So I put my little hand on his once muscular shoulder and basically told him that everything was gonna be alright. I wasn't quite sure of the protocol when a small demon is slowly chewing on your dads guts with relentless hunger. Plus, I was always a shy kid, so initiating any type of contact was always difficult for me, even with dad. Actually, especially with dad. This is one of those moments that will unfortunately forever be etched in my mind, and it was a horrible feeling. I can't fathom what it was like for him to feel that way and be consoled by his baby boy. He was the protector, the provider, and the most powerful person I knew. And feeling this sense of helplessness must have been extremely difficult for him to say the least. The guy probably should have smoked some weed to feel better and increase his appetite at times, but the stubborn son of a bitch would have nothing to do with that. He always tried to be a good role model, I wish I had paid closer attention sometimes.
After a year of frequent and long hospital stays, he finally came home about a week before I started high school. He said he was home for good and we were all excited. A few days later we played Mount Pleasant for the JV season opener. I had several friends on that team as we lived in the same community and went to junior high together. I was the smallest kid on the field, barely five feet tall and maybe 110 pounds with a wet uniform. I was even outsized by a few cheerleaders freshman year, including Carmella, my girlfriend at the time. But it was totally cool because she had D cups, a whole can of Aquanet in her hair, and was regarded by many as the hottest chick in school, and I was one of the few cats on the team who wasn't a virgin anymore. BOOM, winning! Even if I came before my balls touched down, I was still doing it, and most were jealous. Considering it was 1991 and MC Hammer pants were cool, it was hard to stand out as a short, white, shy kid, but I found a way. Anyway, back to the game, one series early in the game we drove down the field to the one yard line. We had a great running back leading the way, but instead of giving the ball to Harold "Rock" Collins for an easy score, they called my number. I came charging in from the sidelines like a scared dear, and shook in the huddle before the play was called; I'll be damned if they didn't give me the ball. The whistle was blown, the ball snapped, my vision got blurry as I jumped out of my stance and sprinted forward, took the handoff from Scotty Mayne and plunged over the goal line from one yard out, straight up the gut, like a man. Damn I felt like a hero. Turns out it was pretty insignificant, as we beat the crap out of those chumps anyway, but it was a close game at the time of the score. That moment was powerful to me. My father was going nuts in the stands and cheered loud enough for China to hear. He was watching from the stands, this time in a wheel chair. He wasn't strong enough to move around on his own, but he made his presence known when I scored. I had mixed emotions at the time when my dad showed up in that chair, I didn't know who was going to tease me or what, but those feelings faded quickly as I knew how proud he was of me. I was proud as well, knowing how uncomfortable he was in that situation. See, Big Ben was an army guy, a jacked up buck ninety just a few years earlier. So being in this wheelchair at a dismal 130 lbs of skin and bones with a protruding belly and no ass couldn't have felt good. But he made it, in fact, he wouldn't miss it for the world.
The following Monday I remember getting ready for school, and when I went to say goodbye to my dad. He was blank, he had kind of a hollow stare and just moaned a bit. Meanwhile, my mom made me and my brother, Craig, and sister, Katie, say bye and go to school. Later in the afternoon, Craig and I got called to the principals office and were instructed to skip our after school activities and go directly home. I knew right then when the secretary told me to go straight home that something was very wrong, I knew since I left that morning. After school today was supposed to be the day we played Mount Pleasant, I probably would have ignored my instructions and went with the team, but we already played last Thursday and dad was there. So, because it was only a regular practice day, I decided to obey and went home. That's when we got the news.
I recall years prior to this event, when I was in the seventh grade, I played football for the Holy Rosary Bears; it was 7th and 8th graders. It was the only time the coach ever made a 7th grader, me, team captain. I wasn't the best player on the team, and I was the smallest, but I worked hard. I was the Rudy, so to speak, and coach respected my tenacity. At the time I didn't realize why my coaches did these things for me, like make me captain or give me the chance to score when others were bigger and better then me. But years later I understand what was happening. My coaches were giving Big Ben a chance to see his boy do his thing. And in the process, they gave a young athlete, with tons of emotional problems at home, a place to feel needed, wanted and valued. The gridiron was my place! Here is where I could excel as an athlete and grow into a man. I put that helmet on and transformed into a different person. I eventually grew into an exceptional athlete because my coaches believed in me, gave me responsibility and made me work hard.
I had hard times as I grew, and I was an asshole quite a bit to a lot of people, especially those close to me. I regret that. Junior year, I had a decent season and thought I was better than I actually was. Thus, I didn't work hard going into my senior year and I injured my leg in the first game. I came back and was able to play, but it was a disappointing year. When you get slack, you are going backwards, there is no place for complacency. You must make a conscience decision to work hard to get better, or do nothing and get worse. Maintenance is a fucking joke. I made it a point to never be outworked again. This proved valuable as I had a stellar college career and broke several records.
During these years I had thought about my father a lot and usually did things in his memory, stating things like, "this is for you, dad..." In the meantime, my poor mom, who was there for me the whole time, working her ass off, was just getting back seat attention. I put all my focus into doing things in memory of my father that it never even occurred to me that I should have focused most of my energy into dedicating more things to the person who was there for me now and supporting me every step of the way. My dad was gone but not forgotten, and I dedicated everything to him. My mom was here the whole time, with undeniable support, and barely even recognized and certainly not appreciated enough. I feel bad about my lack of recognition and appreciation for her to this day.
Make sure you recognize the people around you that support you and help guide your journey. No matter how alone you think you are or how much of a leader and maverick you want to be, there is a whole support system around you that you need to be thankful for. If it weren't for them, I promise you, you wouldn't be where you are today.
There is so much more to my story, but I'll save it for another time. The take home point here is two fold. One, always try to notice and appreciate the things that you have, the people that are supporting you, and the growth you get from the people who love and help you. Its important to remember the things you lost, but put your focus in the things you have presently and move forward. Two, if the opportunity ever comes along in your life when you can pick someone up and give them hope, build their confidence, and generally make them feel good about themselves, you better realize the power you have at that moment and do the thing that needs to be done to make that person feel great. You will be remembered forever in their mind as the person who gave them a chance, built their esteem, and literally changed their life. Those moments don't come along with flashing billboards, they are barely even recognizable at the time. But they happen every day. Hopefully, we all notice it and do what we can to empower to next guy, pay it forward. Being a coach is more than showing someone how to get stronger muscles, its about building a better person, from the inside out. This is my way of giving back. This is the real role of the coach, the teacher and the leader in general. Help the other guy be the best they can be and not take responsibility for others success, just teach them what you know and let them flourish.
To see how we train and become a part of our community, click here to get a week FREE at The Consummate Athlete
and please share this with your friends if you find it of any value.
If you are trying to build an athlete that will dominate their chosen sport, you need to know how to make them as strong, powerful, mobile and stable as possible to perform at their best on a consistent basis. The video is a great way to help you accomplish that goal!
Video of the strongest tee shirt on the planet in action...
A reader of the blog asked me the following question and I responded with the video below.
Hmmmm....I've been thinking about what to write to you all day because I'm all over the place in my thinking. Here are my uncontrolled, random thoughts and hopefully something will strike a chord for you.....
Let me first tell you why, I, a non- weightlifter loves your blog. The constant message to push yourself, not being perfect, always room for improvement, and the importance of moving forward, working harder, not taking the easy road. I love that. I need that in my head in order to go the extra mile or sometimes just get the hell out the door. It's refreshing for me to see someone as ripped and dedicated as you having the same thoughts as someone like me, a mom that just wants to try and try and try to get my pre-baby body back. It's the constant fight and want to look better, even if your want is to get bigger and mine is to get smaller! (On a side note, I'm totally obsessed with your abs and wonder if after four pregnancies with huge babies if it's even possible to have a flat stomach!!! What can I do??) Anyway, working out for me is beyond the physical aspect, it's so mental. I think if more people knew how therapeutic and stress relieving exercising can be, more would do it. I find if I push myself in my work outs, it translates to the rest of my day or life in general. It makes you know that you are capable of doing more than you thought you could. It also seems like you keep things basic at your gym, meaning no high tech machines or crazy supplements and that's what I love too. Proof that plain, hard work and discipline works best. I've tried every diet known to man, even weight loss drugs and the only thing that works is eating healthy, smart and working out. I don't even go to the gym anymore, I run outside, swim outside in the summer (bay or pool) and do pull ups and shit on my kids swing set. It works!
I'm currently obsessed with the scale and wonder what you think of that? It's probably so different in your world but in mine, a high number ruins my day. Seriously. To the point where I can't weigh myself some days. I struggle with this because I know sometimes when I'm at my smallest, I don't necessarily weigh my least. Sorry, this is probably girl shit here. So here are some questions, what's more important, workout or diet? What's one without the other? Where does drinking come into play (convinced that's the reason I can't drop a few more pounds)? Is ANY workout better than nothing? Is working out twice a day beneficial or dumb ? Also I'm scared of weights but know they could dramatically help me. But someone got it into my head that if you don't know what you're doing, you're wasting your time. Therefore I don't do anything with weights. I've tried but totally feel like I'm not doing anything right. How do you start? How do you tone without adding bulk? All things I'd love to know. Can I do it on my own without a gym? I've got a full set of free weights in my garage but have no clue what to do. Can moms ever get their stomachs back without lipo??? See, I told you I was all over the place Sorry if this way more than you needed to know or totally unhelpful. At least you know I like your blog!!! Okay tell me if you think I'm retarded....
Video Part 1 0f 3
Video Part 2 of 3
I made a video of my Russian friend, Boris, playing with his new toy, check it out...
Making "getting better" a priority. To learn some of the "secrets" of improving your fitness and enhancing your athletic performance, visit my website at the link above. Essentially you need a mix of sickening hard work and consistent training with sensible progressions that most people either ignore or do not know. To learn my secrets, check out The Consummate Athlete
, FREE, for a week.
I did some training on the beach this morning with just one 20kg kettlebell and a little bodyweight. I get to clear my mind and just enjoy the ocean, the waves, the majesty of the universe. It sounds about three fourths queer, but it helps me connect. To what, I have no idea. I did think about my friends, Martin, Bjorn, Linda and others I met over in Sweden a few months ago. I know their weather will not allow them to do too much outdoor training soon enough. I wish you guys a great winter, but I know it will be brutal soon. Take care guys, send some sill and nube, and I'll send you a cheesesteak!
Glute Hame Raise
-run faster, pull more, jump higher, have the glutes that every guy envies...
The equipment isn't the best part of the video, but learning how to assist yourself is crucial for most people who can not perform the movement effectively.
I know this is not a true glute ham raise, they are actually natural leg curls, or Nordic raises, tomAtoes or tomatoes, it doesnt really matter that much, what matters is that they strengthen the backside pretty effectively. I know this is not as good as any piece that Westside or EliteFTS puts out, they are obviously better. But, they are $700-$2000 more expensive. If you have the cash and space, by all means get the good stuff. But this will get you going and probably sufficient for most people. I have a real GHR from Garage Gym Store (which I do NOT recommend, sorry), but I choose to perform the movement this way sometimes as well, just like I vary my style of pushups. There's more than one way to flog a molly. I just got tired of finding a place to tuck my feet under or getting someone to hold my feet, or holding someone else's feet while they strain with the movement and rip a fart in your face. This is easy to put together, very cheap or free with available parts, and requires very little time and effort for the strength you can gain in your posterior chain. This is also a great way to spot yourself and adjust the resistance/assistance for the movement.
"I don't want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me!"
-Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed
Hell yeah, I'm friggin jacked up, flying around on cloud 9, droppin bombs all over the place, causing disruptions and making waves. This is how I feel when I walk into the gym to train. But you wouldn't know it to look at me. I remain calm on the exterior, but there is a social distortion going on inside me that would frighten most mortals to death. I'm fuckin raging, I'm hungry, I want that edge that I don't fuckin have yet, no one is going to give it to me. Im gonna take that shit, I'm gettin it today, motherfucker. I'm pickin up stones and droppin em on your motherfuckin head, motherfuckjer. This shit aint gonna be nice and it aint gonna be pretty. If I had to change routes and go to a professional environment, or a typical job right now, I would surely get fucking fired, kicked out, have the god damn police called, and I would most definitely burn this stupid fuckin building to the god damn ground, and murder every stupid fuckin asshole in this bitch. Fuck you, I'm mad as hell.
Damn, son, why you so mad?
I don't fuckin know, but I'm about to rip your ugly fuckin face off, get away from me, shit head.
Maybe I listened to too much Hatebreed, maybe I didn't sleep enough, maybe I heard too much pitiful bitching and my tolerance just snapped, and you're about to hear it all in your motherfuckin earhole.
You never felt like this? You never get furious? You won't understand me. You should've turned away a long time ago, got the fuck outta Dodge, bitch. Today is not your lucky day, youre in the wrong place son. I came here to wreck shit and do fuckin damage. My veins are on fire and I am fuckin raging. You will never know what I feel like, whats happening inside me right now. I'm a motherfuckin time bomb and i'm almost outta ticks. Don't walk, run, motherfucker.
I need to feel that steal, I need to vent before i blow my shit. I'm gonna take a fuckn flame thrower to your face, your family and your god damn dog. I would boil your cat, but that shit would take too fuckin long, so I'll just eat it, ass end first and hear that little hairy fuck cry.
This is the ugly side, the shit others dont wanna see, the scary shit that some suppress, and others embrace. Don't worry, I'm not really gonna melt you, or eat your cats asshole. But I am gonna take my frustration and crazy inhuman energy out on this weight right here, and after that, some lucky lady is gonna have her fuckin ass waxed til i can see my ugly mug right in her butt.
I'm a fuckin destroyer!
I'm a god damn Goliath!
I will flip you on your head and punt your ugly fuckin face!
I'm taking this shit out on some heavy fuckin weight, bending steal over my back, melting knurling in my grip. Hearing these iron wheels knockin next to my head is like heavenly music. These chains rattling from the ground give me strength. They tell me whats up. I hear you, motherfucker,! You want another one? I got you, bitch. The chains count my reps as I rip them from the ground, again, and again, and again...
Fuck the plan! Fuck a damn five by five. I gettin after it today. I wanna see something snap, somethings gotta break and it wont be me. King fucking Kong aint got shit on me! I dont even know what the fuck I am doing next, but its gonna hurt something fierce. I am NOT scared, I want the pain. I aint got shit to do tomorrow but fuck up more shit.
I am not here to impress you, I do not want your god damn acceptance. You judging me? Fuck you! I'm not here for your approval. I am not trying to fit in, I do not want to be like you or feel easy in this place. If you want a lesson, stand back and watch, and feel your nuts swell up in the fuckin process. This shit right here will make a man outta you, like a god damn circumcision on a wooden chopping block with a machete in the fuckin desert.
Don't fear the pain that is coming, the shit is gonna happen regardless, Do what you gotta do to survive. Heal your wounds and clean your blood up.
The things that go through my head may not be right, or accepted by most, but sometimes rage happens, and we think fucked up shit. How are you gonna deal with it. Whats wrong with you? We all got problems. You gonna take it out on your ol lady? Or you gonna go out and do something of value? Don't be a fuckin pussy, do something worth talking about in places other than the police blotter, you silly fuck. Stop slackin and complaining and get out and do something motivating. It will be hard, it will not seem convenient. It will take a lot of effort and you might not be rewarded at all. But get back out there and do it again, and again. We all have an ugly side. Some hide it, some use it for a greater good. Don't let that shit hold you back. That is fuckin fire, the fuel you need to blaze a new path. Light it up and get moving. Keep working, dont stop, wear yourself the fuck out. You'll be fine, the sun will come up tomorrow. And there will be your barbell, without a scratch, without a dent, ready for another beating. You thought you fucked that mother fucker up, but he enjoyed it, the sick fuck. He absolutely loved being thrown around, picked up, slammed down and sweated on. He feeded on your sweat, skin and blood. He wants more. Do you have more to give today than you had yesterday? Thats man shit. Everyday won't see your best, but your best can be delivered at any moment. What brings it out of you? Lying inside you, dormant, is something incredible, just waiting and begging to be unleashed. Many will not like it, some will think you're fucking disgusting. Fuck it, you are not here for them. But, there are many who want and need you to show them the way. You are fuckin gifted, at what I have no idea, but you got something that they don't and they need that shit. You might have to make serious changes. You might have to look deeper into places of your soul than you ever have. You might scare the fuckin shit out of yourself. You might see an ugly side that may make you quiver with truth induced heaving. Or you may rage against the norm and set yourself free and discover your rare ingenious talent. Maybe you cant find it alone, Maybe you cant let go. Maybe you should eat a half ounce of Wisconsin's finest shit shrooms and take a long walk and figure your shit out. We all have many ugly sides, and we have a unique passion that guides ourselves, and others, to greatness. Be the fuckin one. Be on. Fuckin rage and be epic.
I do not want to be a product of my environment, feeling sorry for myself because there may be pity and sorrow all around me. I want others to feed off of my energy, learn from me, and grow stronger knowing that they are more badass and empowered by the pain and suffering they endured, and they are ready for a bigger challenge every God damn step of the way. I can't help everyone, but those that I can help will be fuckin better for it.