Learn to cook

“Winky Dinky Hocake. Cause hoes got to eat, too.”

(Good luck with that one)

I am not very creative with titles, so there you go. Learn to cook.

Cooking for yourself ensures that you get exactly what you need to get 70’s Big. It is also more cost effective than eating out and (hopefully) a hell of a lot cleaner. And it’s a useful skill to have. Modern man should know the difference between a Wok and a saucepan.

I realized early on that most girls my age weren’t spending much time in the kitchen and that if I wanted to keep eating well, I would have to feed myself. Fortunately my mom was (and still is) a good cook. She taught me the basics of cooking and how to make my favorite dishes. I learned a few more things over the years and, at some point, became a moderately competent cook.

So learn. That is all there is to it. Help your mom/wife/girlfriend/mistress/live-in-tranny. Watch a cooking show. Take a class. Do whatever you need to do to learn to cook. You would be surprised at how simple some of your favorite dishes are to make.

Your first assignment is an easy one. Make some Texas Chili this weekend. To help with this, Jacob Cloud has sent in a video. This video has everything: history, training, Texas beer, mild hazing, and skillet corn bread! Yes!

Here is his recipe list:
2 lbs course ground beef
2.5 lbs tri-tip, trimmed and cubed
1 can peeled whole tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1-2 minced jalapenos (more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
4-5 crushed/minced garlic cloves
1/2-1 cup chopped white onion
1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Lime juice from 1 large lime
Thickener (corn starch, masa, flour, etc)
6 pack of Texan beer

Chili Mix (all measurements heaping!):
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1+ tbsp cumin
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp Mexican oregano leaves
1-2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
1-2 tsp salt (to taste)

Jacob notes that you can be a real man by adding some habanero peppers to the mix. You can also make JM Blakely happy by using MSG instead of salt (like they do in chili cookoffs).

So go forth and make chili. Then shove a 90’s small guy into a snow drift.

Happy eating.

Note: Andy Gann also provided a recipe that looks outstanding. This will be on the updated FAQ when I get to it this weekend.

Note: Yes, it’s PR Friday. Post weights lifted, gained, or consumed.

Chicken Fried Awesome

I hope everyone had a good holiday and is ready to climb back under a bar. As promised, here is some more footage on how to prepare a simple version of an outstanding 70’s Big offering from Texas.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Chicken fried steak is a piece of tenderized steak that is coated in seasoned flour, pan fried, and served with cream gravy (Yankees screw this part up and serve it with brown gravy or, ketchup, which is even worse). It is similar to Wiener Schnitzel (VEE ner!) and was brought to the promised land by German immigrants. Historians guess it originated in Bandera, but I’d like to think that some Texan from New Braunfels sopped his biscuit with gravy outside of the saloon at Gruene and claimed the dish as his own.

CFS has amazing utility. Like pizza or fried chicken, it can be eaten any time of day. It can also be combined with most of the things it is served with. Drag a bit of CFS through your gravy mashed potatoes. Make a breakfast sandwich with fried potatoes and toast. It’s all good.

There are a lot of regional variations and personal touches you can add. What I’m showing you is a very simple recipe that will have your guests licking their fingers and asking for more.

You’ll need:
* tenderized cubed steaks
* flour
* seasoning (S&P are fine)
* eggs
* milk
* cooking oil (vegetable is fine)
* potatoes

The first video talks you through the prep and putting it in the pan. The second is a quick mid-cook check. The third video goes into making gravy and mashed potatoes. Timing is crucial here because you want everything to be served hot. Sorry for the length. I hope they’re helpful.

The plan is to eventually expand the FAQ into more general matters and include a video recipe section in the nutrition part. Submissions are welcome so long as the recipe promotes strength. There will be a link to new videos from the main page article, so don’t worry about your fine work going unnoticed. Happy eating.

Edit: I want your help in closing out the Texas Three Step. I’m talking about BBQ, CFS, and chili. I’ve done two, and I want to get y’all involved. Send me a recipe or a clip [gantgrimes@gmail.com], and we’ll get it on the site. It can be measured to the teaspoon, or you can ballpark it like me (but remember chili’s heritage…). No beans, please.

Edit 2: Casa Manana in Wichita Falls has a dish called chili steak, where two piece of greatness are combined. It features TWO chicken fried steaks (floured but not battered) covered with chili con carne and cheese. It’s served with the mandatory red taco.

Edit 3: This comes from the late great Jerry Flemmons of Fort Worth, “As splendid and noble as barbecue and Tex-Mex are, both pale before the Great God Beef Dish, chicken fried steak. No single food better defines the Texas character; it has, in fact, become a kind of nutritive metaphor for the romanticized, prairie-hardened personality of Texans.”

That brings a tear to my eye.

Steroids: Part I

Anabolic steroids.

If you train with and around people that lift heavy weights, you know at least three people that are on steroids. If you don’t, then you are either naïve to that fact or you’re not really training heavy.

This is the first installment in what will be a multi-part discussion on the hows, whys, and what-fors of steroid use. If you’ve been in the iron game for awhile, you’re not going to learn anything new. If you’re reading this stuff for the first time, you’re not going to learn as much as you would from a good site on anabolics. The point of this article is to get the geared up elephant out of the room and clear up one unfortunate misconception.

I’m going to give away the ending so the 70’s Big detractors can quit reading. Yes, Doug Young, Anatoly Pisarenko, and company took steroids. Damn right. Back in the day, they stacked their stacks. Breakfast was meat, eggs, black coffee, and DBol. Lunch was a cigarette and 200mg of Cyp. They had more test than a boy band. But to say that this is the only reason they were champions is short-sighted and ignorant.

Roger Estep could have passed CrossFits drug test but not WADAs

Roger Estep could have passed CrossFit's drug test but not WADA's

For the record, 70’s Big advocates hard, clean training. The guys that are shown lifting on this site—Justin, AC, and Chris—are all natural. I know this because I’ve seen them train and I’ve seen their logs, but mostly because I’ve seen them in person. They are strong as hell and densely muscled, but they don’t have the look (we will talk about the look later).

I want to address a Rip quote that has been taken out of context numerous times. A guy asked Rip about taking steroids while doing linear progression and got this response:

“There are no shortcuts. The fact that a shortcut is important to you means that you are a pussy. Let me be clear here: if you”d rather take steroids than do your squats heavy and drink enough milk, then you are a fucking Pussy. I have no time or patience for fucking Pussies. Please tell everyone you know that I said this.”

Most people cite this for the proposition that steroids are a shortcut and bad in all instances. This is wrong, and it is not what Rip meant.

The linear progression program in Starting Strength works. If you work your ass off in the gym and in the kitchen, you will get stronger every week and add muscle. Thousands of people have figured this out. There is no point in short-cutting a process that gets more weight on the bar every time you lift. Rip took issue with the fact that the guy was looking to avoid time in the gym.

Our co-captains were in a different situation. At the elite levels of sport, there are no shortcuts. At that level, progression is limited by the ability to recover. The Piz didn’t juice so he could miss workouts. He used so he could work more, work longer, and work harder. That is a key distinction.

There are no shortcuts to a 733# deadlift at 220 while wearing short shorts.

The bottom line is that you can and should squat, deadlift, and eat your way to male adulthood (over 200 pounds) and beyond. No alternatives should be considered until you are well into intermediate programming (if ever). We’ll talk about what some people do next in a future issue.

Next: Chemistry, Benefits, Side Effects, and Misconceptions

Letter of Intent Day

Justin and AC are traveling to Georgia today. I don”t know if he”ll get to comments and emails or not.

What are you going to do in 2010?

Today is 70s Big Letter of Intent Day where we commit to competition in 2010. It’s where we state our competitive goals for the coming year. If you’re already competing in something, stay the course. If not, browse the web, find a local comp, and circle the date.

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.

Guess who did linear progression.

Guess who did linear progression.

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.

Everybody reading this could at least do a PL or OLY meet. If you’re a CrossFitter, find (or host) a CrossFit Total competition (and make sure the damn thing is run correctly). If you’re not close to one of those places, find a training group, and enter a Tactical Strength Challenge. Find SOMETHING.

Finally, manage your expectations. If you’re squatting 400 in training, don’t open with 500. You probably won’t win your first time out, either. And that’s ok. But you’ll learn a lot that you can take back to the gym with you.

Consider Jared Allen your inspiration for the day.

I’ll go first:
• Win gold at the Texas Brown Belt Championships. I took silver last year, but I want the big prize.
• Get three scoring throws in the caber at a Highland Games. I won the novice division at a Games next year and threw the B caber for one score. I don’t expect to make any noise in the B’s, but I’d like to throw that damn pole.
• Go 100/130 at an OLY meet. This would force me to actually practice the lifts. Since I only do power versions of the lifts, this sounds pretty reasonable.
• Enter and finish a mountain bike race. It’s been four years since the last one.
• Schedule permitting, do either a Strongman competition or a Masters Track Meet.


“Alls ya need to do to get strong is yer knee bendin’, yer bar liftin’, and yer bar pressin’.”

We got most of everyone’s PR’s in our comments the other day. If you haven’t done that, you can post them today. However, Friday is now going to be known as PR Friday. Post the improvements you made throughout the week whether they be in weight lifted, reps, bodyweight increase, or eating PR’s. If you made some kind of improvement this week towards getting stronger or yoked, I wanna hear about it.

Note: Somebody tell Anthony from Washington state that he should have already gained 5 pounds. Also, Scott from the Inner City Gym needs to send me an e-mail (forgot to get it in Washington).


The rest of the post was written by Gant.

Today’s spotlight is on Arden Cogar, Jr., a Timbersports champion and a hell of a nice guy. He has been 70’s Big since, well, pretty much the seventies. He was 14 when he squeezed himself into a size 48 jacket. As an adult, he sports a 13.5 shoe and wears a size 13 ring (which would be a collar to most 90s small guys).

Arden has been a fixture on the professional lumberjack circuit for over 30 years. If you haven’t been watching manly programming (perhaps you’re 90s small and have been watching Glee), you might have missed ESPN’s Stihl Timbersports, a series of lumberjack events that challenge competitors to chop, cut, and saw their way through white pine as fast as they can.
To date, Arden has won 47 world titles in lumberjack sports, including the U.S. Stihl Timbersports Championships three times in the past four years. He is the current Captain of the U.S. National Lumberjack Team.

He came into this the old fashioned way, through his family. His 75 year old father, himself a legend in the sport, is a retired logger who spent over 50 years in the woods. Arden Sr. instilled a work ethic in his son that sticks with him today.
In addition to his dad, his four uncles participated in Timber Sports for many years, and they passed it on to their sons. Currently, there are over 20 members of the Cogar family who are active in some facet of Timber Sports.

Standing Block Chop

Standing Block Chop

How long have you been competing in lumberjack sports?

Last weekend I wrapped up my 31st year competing in professional lumberjack sports. I started at age 8 when my father put modified chain saws in my hands. I started chopping and sawing when I was 12. I became the youngest participant ever in ESPN’s Stihl Timbersports Series at age 17.

What is your training background?

I started lifting weights when I was 12. I competed in my first bench press contest when I was 14. I competed in my first three lift powerlifting contest when I was 17. I stopped power lifting when I realized I would have needed to turn to “the dark side” in order to remain competitive. For the next 14 years, I did “power bodybuilding” until I was introduced to Crossfit. I then started doing more “metabolic conditioning” workouts to make myself fitter and tougher. Through Crossfit I fell in love with the Olympic lifts. Through that love for the Olympic lifts, I was introduced to my current coach, Randy Hauer, who has completely revamped my entire training protocol.

Through Randy’s diligence, I’ve made more progress in the past two years (as a middle aged man), than I did in the previous 20. I’ve turned my event training sessions into my metabolic conditioning sessions and my weight training is now speed and speed strength based.

Editor’s note: Before any of you Crossfitters think Arden is building off-season GPP by doing Fran, snatching PVC, or taking pictures of himself doing handstands in public, think again. Here is Arden’s idea of a conditioning workout:


How has this change in training philosophy helped you?

My weight training has gone from “grunting and getting hurt” as I settled into middle aged to “halfway grunting for a week, resting a week but still lifting; three quarters grunting for a week, resting a week but still lifting; 4/5’s grunting for a week, resting a week but still lifting, back to half way grunting.” Training this way has allowed me to make more progress in the past two years (at age 38 and 39) than I did the previous 20 years combined.

Moreover, Coach Randy has done the same sort of lay out with my event training, that keeps me chomping at the bit to train more than what he’s allotted for me. The heaviest times of the year are the Fall and Spring, but I only do what he says and it has kept my performances ever improving.
I love it. I’m totally looking forward to my 40s and I think the sky’s the limit.

How do you train for your sport?

My training for Timber Sports events is sports specific. We have various disciplines in the sport that require use of the axe, the crosscut saw, and the chainsaw. I train those events as though I were doing them in competition. I do not however, use my best equipment when I train. I do try and simulate the events that I’m training for – in other words, If I am cutting a 12″ white pine at a contest and I estimate it will take me 16 hits and 15 seconds to cut the log – I will train the log to be cut in 16 hits and 15 seconds.

The volume of my training and the “perceived intensity” of my training varies depending upon the time of the year. When in my off season my volume is higher, but my “perceived intensity” is lower. When the season rolls around my perceived intensity increases as I get myself race ready; my volume of training drops somewhat. During the season, my perceived intensity is still high, but my overall volume of event work is limited.

Numbers time. Any cool feats of strength you’d like to talk about?

I’m a natural puller. I could deadlift a lot of weight at a very young age. The most I’ve ever singled was 775 (I can do a lot more, but I have no interest in trying). Last Christmas I pulled 615 for 9. My goal is to do it for 10 this Christmas. I’ve back squatted well into the 600s. And, at 39, I can still dunk a volley ball; not bad considering I’m very under tall. I can also still do 20 consecutive dead hang pull ups with little or no effort (and never training them).

You have recently started training the Olympic lifts. How are those going?

Currently, my best squat clean is about 150 to 155 (but I can see that increasing quite a bit as my technique improves), my best power snatch is about 110 (I’m still mastering the squat snatch), my best overhead squat is about 140.

How does one become a professional lumberjack?

Getting involved in Timber Sports is an expensive endeavor. If a person is willing to invest the money in the equipment and the time into training, they can be very successful in the sport. The contests are all over the world and we have various levels of competition (novice, intermediate, professional and masters). There are also events completely and exclusively for women and younger athletes. The axes cost about $400 a piece; the crosscut saws cost about $1,500 a piece; and the modified chainsaws cost about $4,000 a piece. So it’s in expensive endeavor. But the contests offer prize money that can result, through diligence and training, enough placings to pay for the equipment and the costs of travel.

Right now, there is a big push on the collegiate level by Stihl which has resulted in a great influx of very good young competitors. Stihl has recently sponsored the Collegiate Timbersports Series which is aired on ESPN U. There are over 400 universities and colleges in the United States that have Forestry programs that have Forestry Clubs and Woodsmens’ Teams. These college lumberjacks or timber sports athletes are building the future of U.S. Timbersports.

For a person who’s not in college, the best way to learn about the sport is to contact someone such as myself or another professional. Most of us are very wiling to share what we know about the sport because we see it as a hobby that we want to preserve and share with the world. Tons of people have offered to pay me to train them and I’ve turned it down every time because it would take the fun of the sport for me. My father trained hundreds of competitors over the years. He told them everything he knew because he wanted them to beat him. He wanted them to make him work harder so he would become better. I live by the same adage.

I’ve noticed that not all lumberjacks are 70s Big. What kind of physical skills do you need for this sport?

The physical attributes for good Timber Sports athletes are all over the place. While physical size is a plus, it is not the true indication of success. My father was 5’7’ 200 pounds during his prime years in the sport. I’m not much taller at 5’11″. A lot of today’s top athletes are very tall and rangy. One of the best axemen in the world is 5’10″ and weighs 135 – or a little over 60 kilos. I weigh nearly twice as much as he does, yet he can drive an axe in as deeply as I can. I am much physically stronger, but his timing and technique is absolutely perfect.

The true test is perfecting technique while continuing to become stronger and more athletic. That is my challenge and one I hope to master in the upcoming years.

What should the readers know about Timbersports?

Timber Sports is a wonderful family oriented sport that has it’s roots in hard work and sweat. Many people who watch a Timber Sports event say, “wow, that looks like a lot of work.” Simply put, it is. It’s great fitness and a great event that celebrates a rich logging and lumbering history that is the basis for the infrastructure of what is today the United States.

Thanks for talking with us. Any parting thoughts?

To quote a good friend and 2006 World’s Strongest Man, Phil Pfister, – “Alls ya need to do to get strong is yer knee bendin’, yer bar liftin’, and yer bar pressin’.”

Working the hotsaw at the 2009 finals.

Working the hotsaw at the 2009 finals.