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.


Times are a changin’.

Folks in times like the Great War did things because they had to. Nowadays most of us privileged, first-world folk get to do things because we want to.

I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.

–John Adams, letter to Abigail, 12 May 1780


Little did Mr. Adams know, people would hide themselves behind glowing screens, living vicariously through the exaggerated deeds of others. Past efforts in politics, war, and commerce provide the freedom to do…or don’t.

But that’s what sets us apart. Every time you step under a bar, you’re doing. Instead of talking or watching, you execute. Every time you look at the distance you’ll sprint or the thing you’ll lift with an honest, healthy fear, you are doing. When you look down at your hands and see grit, callus, and blood, it’s the product of work. The product of life.

You train for a purpose, do you not? Training is nearly synonymous with suffering, because true training is difficult. At times, it’s a giant pain in the ass. The moment is hard when the doubt or fear sets in. The planning is hard when you pass on adult beverages or place head to pillow one hour earlier. But there is purpose to this suffering. Not only for the end result, but the moment of clarity when you burst through the fear or adversity. It’s the small victory, the success in the moment. It’s re-racking or lowering a weight with quivering muscles, the electricity flowing through your body. At the success in the moment. There is purpose to this suffering.

And that’s why we do it.



Update: Today is PR Friday, which is a forum to allow you to share your triumphs and failures with your strength training brethren. How has your training been this week? What questions do you have for 70’s Big or your peers? Talk and mingle. Follow 70’s Big on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.






Letter of Intent

Letter of Intent – 2015

Follow this post up with “The Next Step“.

In 2009 my friend Gant asked website readers to commit themselves to achieving something through competition (Letters of Intent – 2009, 2010, and 2011). This isn’t merely a list of “resolutions” or meager goals — the point is to get your ass into a real competition, especially if you’ve never competed before. There’s no better time to sign up for a powerlifting, Olympic lifting, strongman, highland games meet, Tactical Strength Challenge, the dying CrossFit Total, or other strength and power events. We would prefer that you prevent in something that would take advantage of your strength and conditioning training so that you have the direct benefit from your training. In other words, flag football is competition, but it isn’t as dependent on your training as doing a meet. Adults will probably get more out of solo sports (like martial arts) than team sports since we don’t have the time to commit to proper team practice.

As Gant said in the original post:

I don’t want to hear any crap about how you can’t win. Competition isn’t all about winning at the amateur level as much as it is learning about yourself. Hell, I don’t win most of the stuff I compete it (in fighting, you have the added benefit of possibly breaking something or being choked unconscious), but I keep going back, and I get better every time.

Competition is helpful for more than just the introspective learning. Again, from Gant:

Competition puts your training into focus. A date on the calendar forces you to taper your program (hell, HAVE a program), tweak your nutrition (especially if you’re in a weight class), and arrange your schedule (sleep comes to mind).

You also get instant feedback on your training program. You will quickly find out if you did too much or too little conditioning, spent too much benching and not enough squatting, or didn’t work your technique enough.

You also learn game day management. I’m talking about how to pick lifts, when to warm up, what and how much to drink before your event, and the myriad other things that don’t come up during training. This can ONLY be learned by competing. Most of it is learned by watching and asking other competitors, many of whom will become your friends.

Gant has a focus these days on performing and teaching Judo, but he will always use proper strength training with high intensity conditioning to prepare for the sport. It’s easy for all of you to jump into a powerlifting meet since you’re already performing the lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift), but if you’re jaded with that sport that perhaps you should try learning something new, like Judo, and compete in a local tournament. There are Judo forums that could provide you with basic information, but find a local place and get started.

Today is about committing to a competition. Search the internet, find what is near you, and circle the date. Commit to it today. You don’t need to be a certain strength or skill to compete, but you do need to have a pair of balls (or ovaries) to actually commit to it, and that is much more meaningful. Committing to competition will immediately make each training session meaningful.

What is your intent?

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who strives…who spends himself…and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

–Teddy Roosevelt

Chalk Talk #3 – A Word On Preparation

Some people want to be bigger. Some want less body fat. Everyone wants to be stronger. There’s a recurring theme with all of these goals: they can’t be accomplished by merely going to the gym. Performance, aesthetics, fitness, or health are all optimized by doing more than just a training session.

Today’s Chalk Talk briefly touches on the importance of preparation. How can you better prepare your nutrition? Training sessions? Mobility? Sleep? Relaxation? Post your answers to comments along with what you’ll do to improve.

PR Friday – 23 May 2014

Post your training updates and personal records (PR’s) to the comments. 

In Norse mythology warriors are selected by Valkyrie to heroically die in battle only to resurrect as warrior spirits, enter the halls of Valhalla, and join Odin’s army. This was the noblest end to a warrior’s life: to transcend the Land of the Dead and cross the rainbow bridge to Valhalla. It is the greatest honor, the greatest payment for a valiant life and ferociousness in battle.

Imagine growing up with a sword in hand hoping that one day, too, you could have enough fierceness to die in battle, to earn a spot in the halls of Odin. It would be the greatest fate you could ever hope for.


You spend your life with the clang of steel and iron, the blood and sweat. On the eve of battle you pray for the Valkyrie to take you. Yet when you stagger away victorious, you bow your head to the thunder and say, “Death must wait another day.”

Yet each battle must have this same intensity for Odin and the Valkyrie could be watching, waiting to see if you are noble, bloodthirsty, and strong enough to be regaled in the halls of heroes. Each clang of steel could be your last, and if your strength isn’t true, you will be another corpse on a blood-stained field, a faceless warrior.

Not so with us, my friends. We will hold ourselves with higher esteem to crave the fight and revel in its toil. Go forth and please Father Odin with your grit, your courage, and your savageness. Bend iron with your will, cleave your enemy in two. You’ll never know when it’s your day to fall, but if it is…give them the fury of hell.