Werner Günthör

The other day I used a sweet picture of Werner Günthör. In an effort to teach all the newer readers, here’s a post I wrote in 2010 about him (with minor edits). 

Meet Werner Günthör, a powerful athlete from Switzerland. Günthör was an athletic shot putter who stood 6’6″ and weighed close to 300 pounds of pure 70’s Bigness (this website lists him at 130kg). His best put was 22.75 meters in 1988 in Bern — that’s about 74.5 feet. Günthör won a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics as well as three world championships in the late 80s and early 90s. He also won an indoor world championship and European championship. You can find videos of Günthör training on YouTube. His training was awesome, and here’s my favorite video (the last sequence is the best):

How awesome was that? It’s not a bad idea to model conditioning work after Günthör’s plyometric training, particularly jumping and bounding. Ease into these movements, especially if you haven’t done them since high school athletics; plyometrics will initially be stressful on the joints and soft tissue.

Here is another video of Günthör and who I assume is his training partner. The whole video is an impressive showing of athleticism and displays the old school mindset of including related physical conditioning to training.

Ladies will want to fast forward to 1:43.
More intense plyo training at 2:38.
3:33 is the start of a hilarious montage of Günthör doing all kinds of awesome things, including playing tennis. You can’t really get an idea of how massive this guy is until he wedges a racket in his fist. There’s another really funny part that I’ll let you see for yourself, so this would be the best part of the video if you were strapped for time.

Günthör is one of my favorite athletes because of his explosive training and awesome style. A 70’s Big man indeed.

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The 70’s Big LP and Paleo for Lifters for $29.99

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The 70’s Big LP is not your father’s linear progression. Most linear progressions leave you with big thighs, a big belly, and noodly arms. The 70’s Big LP is your guide to build a massive back, thick arms, and press numbers to be proud of. Pair it with the popular Paleo for Lifters and you have a recipe for being jacked. Lower body fat, recover better for lifting, and stop feeling like shit by improving food choices, fixing macronutrient ratios, and do all of it without weighing and measuring like a weirdo.
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This Texas Method series is well accepted in many a strength training dojo. There’s much more to it than merely doing a 5×5 then a 5RM. Use the same program that builds 600+lbs squats and 700+lbs deadlifts. Between these two books (The Texas Method: Part 1 and The Texas Method: Advanced), there are enough variations to run this template for several years; hitting 350/450/550 (bench, squat, deadlift) is easily attainable for any man with the balls big and hairy enough to tackle The Texas Method.
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How To Make A Training Session

Recently both of my younger brothers asked me to help them with a training program. One of the first “lessons” I gave them was how to organize a training session for a program oriented towards getting stronger, building size, and leaning out. Here is a quick guide on how to do so.

  • Begin with a general warm-up. This can be light calisthenics, walking, jogging, rowing, or biking for 2 to 10 minutes.
  • Do some mobility work. Massage or roll first, then stretch. Rolling the soft tissue helps loosen it up before trying to stretch on it. I’m going to remake a video o this soon, but hit the upper back, lower back, hips, and quads at a minimum. Joint approximation should be done last. The point of mobility before training is to improve range of motion to facilitate good mechanics — especially if the correct ROM of the exercise is limited.
  • Warm-up with the main lift you’re doing that day. That means start with the bar for a set of five and then progressively add weight until you reach the first set. As your warm-up sets go up, titrate the reps down. For example, if my first set was 225×5, I could do warm-ups like this:
    • 45×5
    • 95×5
    • 135×5
    • 185×3
    • 205×2 or 1
    • First set of 225×5
  • Do all of the work sets for the main lift of that day. Bodybuilding programs like to add unnecessary super-sets; to get stronger and bigger, do the compound strength movement first. Do it for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps.
  • Now it’s time for assistance exercises. Do compound exercises before isolation exercises. Do the strength related exercises first; do the hypertrophy (or muscle building) exercises last. Do them for 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps.
    • Compound assistance exercises include pull-ups, rows, lunges, and dips. You won’t need much more than this.
    • Isolation assistance exercises include curls or triceps extensions. Don’t bother with leg curls or leg extensions.

Werner Gunthor lifted, sprinted, and jumped his way into your heart.

Werner Gunthor lifted, sprinted, and jumped his way into your heart.

  • Finish the session with high intensity conditioning. Conditioning should be something short and hard, just like your pecker. 30 seconds of running fast, 30 seconds of rest on a treadmill. Or 30 second bike sprint and then 30 seconds of easy pace. 50 to 150 burpees for time. 400m sprints. Some of the old benchmark CrossFit workouts like “Cindy” (you can cap the time at 10 minutes) and “Helen” are pretty good. Push a sled. Sprint up a hill. Running has a bad rap because it’s the worst fucking thing ever, but athletes need to sprint. You can’t look like an athlete without training like one. So, sprint.

There’s nothing flashy or sexy about how to organize a training session. Do something that looks like this three or four times a week consistently, sleep eight hours a night, and pay attention to not eating like shit, and any beginner will make progress.

If you’re interested in beginning diet information, read “Garbage In; Garbage Out” or “Improving Diet“.

Veteran’s Day 2015

In Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, the Terran Federation is a limited democracy in which full citizenship comes with a price. Earning citizenship and suffrage — the right to vote — was accomplished by two years of voluntary Federal Service. The concept that a society be made of people who have contributed to their country and government was important to Heinlein, who served in the Navy after graduating from the Naval Academy. Earning a voice in government, in Heinlein’s eyes, is better than anyone “who is 18 years old and has a body temperature near 37 °C.”

The idea that veterans are deeply rewarded for their sacrifice is an admirable one; something that would inspire appreciation for gained freedoms and instill a foundation of work ethic. In our society, veterans make analogous sacrifices. First, they pledge an allegiance to uphold the longstanding tradition of morals and honor of their respective country. Second, they knowingly surrender various birth-given rights and are held to a higher standard for their actions. Third, they play their specific role in an organization that provides and maintains the security of freedom for all countrymen. And fourth, they do so with meager compensation and the occasional “thank you.”

Some might say that the veteran has chosen their fate; their own volition led them into their job just as a civilian has chosen theirs. Yet the difference is that veteran made that decision knowing what was at stake. The Airman who works on jets or the Ranger who puts two rounds into an extremist consciously made a decision that subjects them to the needs of their respective branch. They chose to reduce their freedom so that you and I can under appreciate ours.

Many of you will feel noble on these holidays by publicly saying, “Thank you, troops,” but words are dust; they usually blow away with time. I won’t spin tales of heroes, sacrifice, and death. I won’t ask you to thank anyone or give a donation. All I ask is that you live honorably. Most service members believe this country is worth enduring a lot of shitty situations. There’s an idea that despite our flaws, America is an amazing place to live full of righteous people who work hard and have personal responsibility.

Do not let them down; live honorably. Convince the families of the fallen that their loss was worth it. Convince the service members who still toil that their effort is worth it. Take responsibility of your life and actions, respect others, and never, ever stop trying to succeed. Teach others how to do the same.

The only true memorial is to live this way, to live honorably. Everything else is an obligatory charade.

Thank you to current and past veterans for making the choice to serve your country at the expense of limiting the most important values of all: freedom and liberty.

No Secrets

I’ve been away for a bit, and when I look around at the realm of strength and conditioning,  I see the good and bad.

The good? The training population swells with eager trainees aiming for a bigger deadlift, a beautiful snatch, or a better metabolic engine. We have awesome lifters in USAW, raw powerlifting is surging, and thousands of people train instead of fiddling around with exercise. This is good.

The bad? Everybody’s an expert. Strength and conditioning is interesting because if a guy is good at doing it, he is not automatically good at teaching it. Athlete X accomplishes Y and then opens up shop for consultations and seminars. I’m not saying there isn’t room in the market, but a lack of knowledge in physiology, anatomy, metabolism, programming, etc. results in a disservice to the student and customer. This is bad.

It’s rare that any of the new information is profound. Organizing performance training isn’t complicated and there are no secrets. Consider the following:

– Perform large compound strength movements like squat, press, bench, deadlift, row, and pull-ups on a regular basis.

– Address mobility and muscular imbalance/weakness issues.

– Don’t do a stupid amount of volume and avoid most aesthetic-focused programs.

– Understand “met-con” or “high intensity conditioning” does not mean “consisting of retarded shit all the time.”

– Organize the training week to apply stress and give subsequent rest.

– First, specify to your needs, then your wants.

These are the tenets of performance training. Stick to these concepts and you won’t really need a glistening six pack telling you “IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS.” I understand the “How and why?” are your limiting factor. Now that I’ve knocked some rust off, I’m here to help. If I can’t stream the content out, I’ll at least be a bubbling brook.