Heather, Noah and I all went out to eat Sunday night. Now Noah is a very sociable little boy most of the time. He tends to dominate waitresses when we eat at restaurants. He will talk their ear off particularly if he’s really animated about something or is in the mood. So he proceeds to say to this waitress that, “Daddy is a strongman and I do show with him sometimes and me lifted triple my body weight and I bent a spoon into a cobra…” and a lot of other little fun things that aren’t actually relevant to this topic. (He really did do a hand and thigh/quarter dead lift type movement with a 365lb barbell. He’s 8 years old and weighs 110. He really did bend a spoon into the shape of a cobra. It’s done by coiling the handle of the spoon around tightly several times and rotating the cup inward so that it sits up looking like a coiled up cobra with its cover spread. Dennis Rogers showed him that. We don’t usually let him train heavy; he just sort of walked up and did it.)
So the waitress thinks he’s hilarious and he’s delightful her and she says to him, “Oh are you going to be a bodybuilder when you grow up?” Now he’s heard so much of this particular term around my house for so long, that he was a little upset by the term, “Bodybuilder.” We stopped him before he started to explain the difference to her. But here’s the point that I want you to see about this little story:
People just don’t know the difference on average between bodybuilders, power lifters, strongmen, all around lifters, kettle bell lifters, wrestlers, or anything else that has to do with strength. It is the proliferation of information that is available to the universal public that basically only informs them about bodybuilding. Here’s what I want you to see about that. If you look at the way people have always treated the term, “strongman,” it has always been applied to one with overwhelming physical ability. “Bodybuilder” has become the modern term in America, but the term strongman or whatever synonym is used for it has always lumped us all together. And in the old days of physical culture, men did strive to be good at every area and skillful it. We should be doing the same thing. Now how you look is going to be to certain extent, geared by your heredity and diet and I’m not overly concerned in looks-only based training. But most of us are going to gain enough muscle to be noticeable to the average person. I think that in doing so we ought to be prepared to physically back up our look with whatever challenge is presented to us.
So when you train, prepare to accept any challenge you can think of. Prepare yourself to truly be able to work hard. If your strength only applies to limited movements or barbells alone, then you’re doing something wrong. Now there is something to be said for repetitive specificity for the general workman in being good at what he does, but your training should give you the ability to step into just about any physical situation and have some competence. Yeah, you’re not going to outrun a marathon runner or beat an Olympian at his or her particular sport, but you should be looking to build the physical vitality to play in anybody’s arena and make a decent showing for yourself.
Is your training addressing all of these areas?
Are you getting maximum strength speed, power, flexibility, endurance, ability to move with weight?
If not, you’re missing the boat. Step back and examine what you’re doing and if it’s getting you the results that you want and if it’s giving you physical competency and vitality in every area of your life.
Some steps to take in this area:
- Lift something heavy on a regular basis that doesn’t exhaust you.
- Master your own bodyweight.
- Build up your lungs.
- Do something that requires you to move fast.
- Do something that requires you to move in a long range of motion.
- Do something that requires you to pick up something odd and move around with it.
- Do something that makes your hands stronger.
These are just a few of the things to think about. If your program is not addressing all of them, then can you really call yourself a strongman?