(The article which spurned the DVD series – Outlaw Challenge)
This article comes as an answer to some questions in a minor exploration of my own personality. We hear all the time from people, “Why don’t you just go out and compete and prove that you’re the strongest at this, or that, or whatever it is your claiming?”
Well… I have competed. Frankly it doesn’t hold anymore charms for me. I still do compete sometimes. I’m sure I probably will again. There are some goals I would like to accomplish in the competition arena. But frankly, I’m not going to force myself to fit into a mold of competition simply because someone in particular decides that “this” is the way it should be done.
Strength is much more broad than the current styles of competition. I have trained enough and competed enough to come to the realization that I have to do what makes me happy, what works for me and what accomplishes the goals I wish to achieve regardless of how it’s viewed by other people. I can no longer define my goals along the competition line, because they limit me. They don’ fit into what I believe is the pure expression of strength. Therefore I must go beyond them.
There is little that can be truly proved in competition. The manifestations of strength in the human body are so diverse that there is no way to truly prove who is the strongest man. Consider Dennis Rogers and John Brenzk (I think I spelled his name right). Neither one of them could win a world powerlifting championship, yet at their specialties almost no one in the world could defeat them. Dennis Rogers brakes hand cuffs, bends wrenches, and tears cards like they’re made of air. Can he squat 1,000lbs? Not even close. How many 1,000lb squatters can do what he does?
John Brensk has for many years now, beaten just about everyone in the world regularly in arm wrestling, both right and left handed. Yet he hovers around 200lbs, does only minimal weightlifting, none of which is particularly impressive. That is no offense to John. He’s the best in the world at arm wrestling. Weightlifting is just not something which has much effect for him.
Both of these guys are world class studs at what they do. But if you judge them in a narrow-minded way, they don’t measure up. Even though either one of them could just about literally rip your arm off.
This list really goes on and on and on. Very few people in the world, if any, can out squat me. That’s not a shot at anyone. But if you play by my rules, then it’s the truth. Take away equipment, drugs, and start from the bottom. I say all of this to bring out this point: You’ve got to define your own set of rules and play by them. Just because someone else recommends it doesn’t make it the truth. You’ve got to decide what in lifting makes you happy and then pursue that happiness.
If it puts you outside of the lines of commonly accepted practice, so what? The sky doesn’t fall, national security is not compromised, they probably won’t even start running old PeeWee Herman shows because of it. You literally have to “do it your way,” to quote Frank Sinatra and then later Burger King. This applies in your training goals, in your training style and even in the performance of particular exercises.
Yeah there are certain things that are just good biomechanics for the performance of particular exercises. Keeping your back arched when you squat and deadlift. Keeping your knees, toes and hips in line, etc. But beyond that it’s up to you baby to decide what’s best for you. Do you want strength, do you want endurance, or a combination of it all?
I want a combination of it all and I don’t want to sacrifice one for the other or one TO the other. I want world class heavy maximum strength. But the blessing and the freedom of the training world is that I get to decide what I do it in. I don’t have to play by somebody else’s rules. You don’t either. That goes for many other things in life as well.
My dad always rags me, because I don’t function on the same time schedule or many of the other conventional concepts that other people accept. He says, “Boy I don’t know where he got that, but he’s got some outlaw in him.” Heather’s parents say just about the same thing. Now I don’t know why I haven’t been able to function the way everybody else does. It’s just not in me. I didn’t say any of that to brag or take the cool term “outlaw” because it’s both a blessing and a curse.
What I want you to understand is that… stop being afraid of doing what you want to do and live your life! Train how you want to. When you get past the boundaries that other people set for you there is a great deal of freedom and happiness. In pursuing that for your own happiness, you discover what you’re good at in training, what you really like to do, and you build greater enthusiasm for it. Don’t wait on anybody else’s style or accolades or rules. If it feels right to you, do it. Have some confidence in yourself. If that means you have to take some criticism, so be it, suck it up. Be a man about it. That’s part of what being a man is about. Having the belief in yourself to know what you’re doing is right regardless of what anybody else says.
I truly care about other people’s spiritual welfare. I even go sometimes to speak in churches and schools when the Lord blesses me with the opportunity. But that sure doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I have plenty of flaws. However, being able to admit that is part of being a man. I’m over aggressive. Occasionally short-tempered. When I’m short tempered, I can be really explosive. That’s just a pick of the couple of problems or idiosyncrasies that exist within me. In short, I’m human. I’m going to flat out tell you that I have flaws and that I don’t feel worthy to be anybody’s example. But I’m still blessed to be able to share God with you.
We want to look for perfection in people, but we’re asking too much. What we need to look for is the truth of intent, because everyone falls short and has things that we don’t agree with within themselves. It’s not our place to judge those things. Only whether they truly are trying and are sincere in their efforts, be they spiritual, physical, or whatever the case may be.
So to summarize… I’m going to compete only when I feel like it. When it’s convenient, accomplishes a particular goal for me and doesn’t interfere with my family. I’m going to train the way I want to. Heavy squats, dumbbell presses, and partial deadlifts. Really heavy or really crazy strongman event training. Old school and showman style strongman training. Conditioning with bodyweight exercises, kettlebells, Indian clubs, martial arts, cables, isometrics, and maybe, God forbid machines and little pink dumbbells if the mood strikes. (Don’t worry… it’ll still have a hardcore reason behind it.)
Stop being afraid. Do what you want to do. Train how you want to train.
Here’s just a little sample routine that you might want to play with or plug your own goals in and go from there.
Four Days A Week
Three days a week. Warm up with one minute each nonstop of bodyweight squats, push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, flutter kicks and squat thrusts. From there work up to a moderate single of full or partial squats and full or partial one arm presses every day. Pick a pulling exercise either bent arm or straight arm alternate them and work up to a moderately heavy top set of low reps. Finish with five to ten minutes of alternative conditioners. Rotate a different one every day. Could be light strongman work such as sled pulling, farmers walking or stone lifting. Could be light, high repetition work with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, stones, sledgehammers, clubs, etc.
The fourth day is your “Outlaw Day.” Do something that is just radical. Find a challenge that you want to complete and work on it till it’s done. Something that really stretches you. Find a bodybuilder and see if you can work him in the ground. Some of the whacko things I’ve done: press an 85lb dumbbell 400 times, carry a yoke ½ mile. Drag a heavy sled 1/3 mile. Carry a heavy stone 1/3 mile. 1,000 pushups/2,000 squats. You get the idea.
Remember that most of the people we respect, now in many areas of life were a heretic at some point. Almost everybody who makes radical strength breakthroughs, has done something against conventional wisdom and been labeled wrong for it, but in the end they got stronger. This applies to everything else as well. Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, Copernicus… you understand what I mean.
Be your own man.
Now, go out and set some personal record about something that you thought you could never do. And then, help someone else to do the same thing.