Strengthen Your Body – Transform Your Mind
How It All Started
strength is a necessity
It was my senior year of college. I was in the cafeteria eating dinner with some of my basketball teammates, as it was the first night we could officially start practicing as a team in the pre-season. As I was eating, I felt a sharp pain shoot down my leg. It was sudden and it shocked me a bit. At first I thought it was a “quick cramp” that I could kick out by straightening my leg. That, however, was not the case. To keep this part of the story short…I played basketball that night, couldn’t walk the next morning, my foot was dead due to “drop foot” the day after that and I was in surgery within a week for herniated L5-S1 discs. The simple fact was that I had been playing basketball for years… I never lifted weights, I didn’t eat well, and I put constant strain on my body, consistently playing 5-7 days/week for years. This situation caused me to start searching for the “why”. I wanted to understand what potentially caused it and learn how I could make my body strong, capable and “bulletproof”.
While being laid up, I got to reading. The first strength training article I came across happened to be Dave Tate’s, “The Periodization Bible“. I can’t tell you how many times I read this. From that day forward, I started reading about strength, nutrition and supplementation. I was curious to a fault at times, as I would go around in circles until I could piece everything together. Once I felt like I understood the theory of it, I needed to understand the application. When my back was healed enough to start lifting, I sought out our football coach from high school. While I never played, I knew Coach Knight (Scott Knight) was a competitive powerlifter. He was a great guy, and invited me right in to train with him. After a couple of months, he introduced me to a gentleman by the name of Wayne Andrews. Mr. Andrews was a retired fireman and had a small powerlifting gym that he ran out of the basement of his home. It had a 24 hour key code and people could come and go as they pleased. This was my first experience of a real “powerlifting gym”. It was a dark, dungy, cold basement filled with trophies from meets, different bars and a ton of equipment I had never seen in person before. I continued to learn from Coach Knight and Mr. Andrews for a while, until an opportunity came for me to move to California.
Upon moving to San Francisco, I remembered seeing this powerlifting gym on the UFC Countdown Show “St. Pierre Vs. Shields”, as this was where Jake Shields trained his strength & conditioning at the time. I immediately found the number and called them to see if I could start training there. When I called, I was asked when I wanted to come down. I told them Saturday would be great. The response….”Saturdays may not be the best day to come watch for the first time”. That intrigued me even more. Fast forward a week, and I’m there watching. I was in “awe” when I first walked in. While I can’t remember the exact amount of weight, I saw this guy with 700+lbs. on the squat bar with bands and chains attached. I’d barely seen that type of weight done in videos, let alone real life. I knew immediately that I wanted to train there. Next, I had to try out. It was really more to see how coachable I was, if I could take direction, follow the basic cues given to me, etc. I had been reading articles from EliteFTS, the old articles from Louie Simmons and really anything else I could get my hands on to learn more about training and technique. However, I realized quickly that I did not know how to apply the techniques I had been reading about. That was abundantly clear, quickly. Our gym was built off of a “Westside Barbell mentality”. For anyone who has seen the documentary, “Westside VS. The World”, it was very similar to that. It was sink or swim. If you couldn’t keep up or catch on, you were out. In fact, they (and eventually me) tried to run people out as they only wanted people who were 100% in. At first, I was terrified to spot, handoff, even load weights. If you had any type of ego, it got checked at the door. And if it didn’t, you did not last long. I knew immediately that I wanted to achieve big things in the sport of powerlifting, and I could do it with the help of my teammates at this gym.
The process, the journey, the environment, the people, that would be a lot to get into here. Those will eventually become separate articles. What I will say is that I grew tremendously while training at this gym. While it wasn’t the smoothest departure, I trained and coached there for approximately 10 years. For the last 2 years, I coached the powerlifting team. In terms of competition lifts over that time period I was able to achieve a 1,003lb. squat, 800lb. deadlift and 540lb. bench. This was in the “equipped” lifting division. That was the kind of gym I came up in. You lifted equipped. I hated it at first, but it was what it was. I learned quickly that my technique had to be fully on point if I was ever going to make a respectable total in competition. Again, another story for later. I had best raw gym lifts of 735lb. box squat in sleeves, 785lb. deadlift and 465lb. bench. Respectable numbers, but I still wonder what I could have accomplished if I focused on a raw competition.
With all that being said, however, my biggest gains weren’t physical strength or larger muscles. My biggest gains were on the mental side of things.
I Became More Confident And Learned What It Really Meant To Work Hard For Something Not Easily Attainable. Showing Up Consistently Equaled Discipline, Confidence And Grit. These Positive Changes Were A Byproduct Of Doing Something Difficult, Going Through Struggle To Achieve Goals I Never Thought Possible. As I became stronger in the gym, I became “stronger” everywhere.
I started using the term, “BuiltThroughStrength”. This represented the mental strength component of physical training. I felt like I became unstoppable in every area of my life, from work to relationships to being able to deal with and handle situations that would have been very challenging for me in the past. I am grateful to the sport of powerlifting for showing me what I was capable of and what I could do if I put my mind to it. I knew if I could go into a gym and over a 6-7 year period squat 1,000 lbs, I could create a game plan for any goal that I had. I learned the patience, discipline and “formula” for achieving larger tasks, and will take those lessons with me for the rest of my life.
These days I am still enjoying coaching and learning jiu jitsu. I will continue to further my knowledge in the strength and conditioning areas, along with nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in general, and will hopefully continue to help people achieve their goals for years to come! I hope this blog provides some insight for others who are on the same road as I was many years ago.
For anyone who took the time to read this section, I genuinely appreciate it. I’m always available if you have any questions via e-mail or Instagram.