The Holy Barbell


by Australian coach Peter Upham
(The Strength Coach)
“All rise.

Open your hymn books to page 69 and we shall all sing ‘Pump Iron’.

“Please be seated.

“A few announcements before today’s sermon; we’re praying today for a few of the missionaries that we sponsor, you all remember Ross and Nicole Livingston,……. well as some of you know, they’re in Uganda and they’ve started up the Ugandan Powerlifting Federation and that is an AFPF affiliate. They’re doing really well and having their first raw comp this weekend so we pray that that goes well. They’re a Barbell based gym and they’re doing their comps the right way, Raw is belt and knee wraps only; No elbows sleeves! As it is written in the Technical Manual.

“We’re also praying for Daniel Secombe today, as he embarks next week on an outreach program in the local strongman community. Daniel is hoping to talk to different strongman athletes about the Holy Barbell and will be inviting them along to a special service we are having next week where they can come and talk about the Barbell, ask some questions, and just get to know Strength the same way that we all do, so Outreach Week is going to be a great opportunity for this gym to see some new faces come along in the future.


“At the conclusion of today’s sermon, our Sunday School kids will be moving off to a special day we have planned for them. Our local Federation Commissioner will be holding a special question and answer session that we’ve been promoting where they can get answers to some of those challenging questions, that I know as a parent of 2 young ones myself, are sometimes hard to answer.

“Today’s sermon for the congregation is about injuries. The Technical Manual reading will come today from page 3 and Tracy is going to read for us.

“…. Verse 17. To Adam the Strength Spirit said, “Because you have listened to your wife and eaten the fruit from the tree of which I said ‘do not eat’,

“Cursed is the gym floor because of you;
endlessly will you sweep chalk.
Through painful toil will you eat food to bulk up.
Eating will produce flatulence and painful bowel movements.
By the sweat of your brow will you toil on the barbell,
Injured will your training history be,
until you return to the chalk, because from it you were taken
And to it you will return.”

“This is the word of the Strength,”

(ALL) “Praise be to Strength”.


(Strength Coach)
“We know that man is imperfect. But the Technical Manual tells us that when Strength first created the Heavens and the Earth it was made perfect. Injuries we know were only possible after the Fall, when man first turned his back on Strength and started to try to place agility and endurance and power on the same footing with Strength; in fact, there’s still many people in this world who still think that,….. mostly in places like India, they’re called polyathletests.

“Injuries are the penalty and price that we pay for disobeying Strength and trying to do things our own way. If we would just listen to the Strength Spirit’s word that he hath given us through the Technical Manual then we wouldn’t get injured so much.

“This week when you go out into the community to your regular jobs and you’re mixing with others, think about your opportunity to spread the word of Strength, the Technical Manual says when Strength came to Earth a Man it says in the Book of Arthur Saxon….

“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The slow speeded up, the crippled walk, those with cancer in remission, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”

“So the Technical Manual has a mandate for preaching the word of Strength, it’s a call to spread the Good News that Strength will rise again and take its proper place.”

Later in Sunday School…….

(Gym Sunday School teacher, Miss Conners)

“Children, Mr Eccels is here today to answer your questions just like we talked about last week, what I thought I might do is ask the first question and then anyone can ask a question after that. Mr Eccles is our Federation Commissioner.

“So, Mr Eccles, I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how dangerous commercial fitness is and bodybuilding, what can you tell us about what those people believe?”

(Federation Commissioner Eccles)

“Well that’s a good question. There’s a lots of information out there about Bodybuilding. They prey to the Prophet Joe Weider, they believe in Strength but their Technical Manual is different, they don’t test strength and you know they don’t teach the same things that we do about women. They put women in their own competitions and they can’t compete against the men like we do with the co-efficients that the Technical Manual gives us. I just think that’s wrong.”

(Little Jimmy)
“How do we know that the Technical Manuel is true?”

“Well the Technical Manual was given to us by the Strength Spirit so we know that its true. The Technical Manual says that the Technical Manual is true, so we can have faith in it.”

(Little Johnny)
“What’s Crossfit?”

“Crossfit does a lot of things different to us, we’re Powerlifters, Crossfit is just a new fancy thing that has started up; they have good marketing, I hear that Tom Cruise is a member, and it’s a lot about personality and flashiness. It looks like a bit of a money making scheme to me. A lot of people end up leaving or try to leave and there’s a lot of phony friendships that break down. They sometimes try to do what we do. They don’t even have a Technical Manual, and the guy who started it used to write Science Fiction (laughing) so how can you believe in that?!!”

(Big Jimmy)
“Some new people moved into the house up the street from me and my brother, they go to an IWF school. Is it true that they’re not taught the right Technical Manual?”

(Little Johnny)
“They’re weird, they don’t even bench!”

(Little Sally)
“Yeah, and they don’t deadlift and they squat high bar!”

(Big Jimmy)
“Is that true?”

(Little Johnny)
“Yeah is that true?”

“If you look in the first few chapters of the Technical Manual it talks about the Strength Spirit’s chosen people and how they used to believe, but they kept turning their back on Strength and trying to do things their own way. Then in 1972 they angered Strength by taking away the Press from competition and they’ve been cursed ever since.

“Now there’s a lot of nice people in IWF gyms I’ve even had them come to our gym and they train in their own way but we just think they’re wrong about a few things and remember, the Technical Manual says, ‘Judge not or yee be judged’, so its between the Strength Spirit and the individual. Also they have a President who they listen to and think that he is some sort of intermediary between themselves and Strength, and we obviously think that’s wrong. At the moment their President is in a lot of trouble for moving on some people from one gym to another who were doing some bad things with steroids. Those people are sick in the head and they went on to re-offend.”

(Big Jimmy)
“Is it an abomination for two people of the same sex to spot each other no-homo-style on the squat?”

“Yes, the Technical Manuel is very specific about that, it’s an abomination. I don’t care what you see on television or the internet these days.”

“What’s a schism?”

“Well that’s a big word, where did you hear that?”

“I heard my parents talking about it.”

“A schism sometimes happens if people aren’t teaching things from the Technical Manual or they think they can write their own Technical Manual.

(Taps at his AFPF ‘Another Fucking Powerlifting Federation’ logo on his shirt)

“See we’re AFPF lifters at this gym, that’s the pure strain of Strength (makes gesture with hand drawing a line straight down). We follow strictly what the Technical Manual says.”

19 thoughts on “The Holy Barbell

  1. I am so happy you posted the video. I’d never seen it. It’s hilarious and for some reason reminds me of the early years of COPS. Maybe all the mustaches. Oh, and holy fucking crotch shot at 1:57

  2. kinda rambly and a little blasphemous but he makes good points especially about the press being taken out of olympic competition. Over at the sportviny press, there are some great articles about why the US sucks at weightlifting or how the downfall happened but essentially a large part had to do with the rise of iso-metric training and an unrelenting focus on strength (because of the press, which americans were freaking great at) versus adapting and focusing more on speed under the barbell, which the ruskies did tremendously. If anyone gets a moment, you should read “there is no system” at the sportviny press- shit is great. But yeah I would argue that olympic lifters are freaking strong but the fact of the matter may be that what US lifters on an international level may be lacking is not overall strength (which they have in large quantities as seen by huge squat numbers at cal strength, abg and lsu) but rather the rapid application of this strength in an immensely small period of time, which differs greatly from powerlifting and traditional high school/ collegiate strength training. One thing of note that coach pendlay makes a point of in talking about jon north is how his max snatch is 77% of his max squat, which is a great percentage. It suggests that quickness and technique play a larger role the snatch success rather than overall brute strength. Just to throw it out there, I dont think that max sets of 5rep deadlifts and presses will make the us champs… just saying. I am kind of rambly too anyways I definitely think that taking the press out was a game changer in many ways, I mean it had to go because of how hard it is to judge (some might say the press out rule is also equally ambiguous) but I think it had a huge effect on what type of athelete succedes in olympic lifting. Interesting piece.

  3. “Pump Iron”, what a great find. I’ve never seen this before.

    Damn the MAN! Damn my family! I’m off to pump iron, PEACEOUT!

    He totally winked at me!

  4. Pingback: » LATEST POST IS UP OVER AT 70′

  5. I thought this was going to be an article about certain gyms and federations that are really pro-Christian like Son Light Powerlifting Federation and a gym like Jackson’s Weightlifting Club. I don’t have a problem with religion but in my opinion certain things should be kept more private. If I am competing or training, I don’t want to deal with evangelism.


    There is an Arthur Saxon book out there. It is titled “The Development of Physical Power” from 1905.

  6. @NolanPower.
    Possibly true.
    Personally i’m British and i love American weightlifters, the dedication to getting better found in your lifters is second to none. And let’s face it the Shankle is king.