The Legend of Mark Brown

There is not a man, but a legend. There’s a man whose name is whispered into the night by children in distant villages. There’s a man who some may call a conjurer — not of cheap tricks, but of demons. Others call “that crazy guy”. Still, yet, others simply call him Mark Brown.

Mark Brown is a good friend of mine that lives in Texas. He trains at least three times a week, every week. When people boast about not having a light day, that is just standard ops for the legendary Mark Brown. The reason I love Mark Brown so much is because he brings intensity EVER. SINGLE. DAY. His intensity shifts depending on what he’s training that day. When he snatches and cleans, he is a stolid, grim figure. He paces back and forth between lifts. In an instant he’ll snatch 100 kilos, then shake his shoulders out and walk away. Yet when he’s squatting or deadlifting, THE WORLD IS ON FIRE. The intensity is cranked up, because there’s an animal within Mark Brown, and he must — HE DESIRES — to unleash it on the bar.

Some of my most favorite training sessions of my life — and I’ve had many in the 13 years that I’ve trained — are with Mark Brown. We would yell and kick and antagonize each other. We would summon the demons. I still remember the exact phrases Mark Brown would say as I would go to hit a PR squat.

“C’mon Justin. GET MAD AT IT. Grit your teeth!”

Mark Brown is about 5’8″, 185 pounds. He can deadlift about 550, and squats at least 450. He’s about 50 years old nowadays. At the same time he can do a set of ten ring muscle ups unbroken. One of his finishers is to hook his toes over a pull-up bar and do sit-ups (bring his elbows to his thighs) with a 25 pound plate. He can do one armed chins and the flag. Another finisher is to do kip-ups off the floor to his feet. He has long hair and is one of the craziest, most amusing people that I’ve ever met.

I still think of training with Mark Brown during those dark times when I’m feeling sorry for myself. It allows me to “summon the demons”, releasing a surge of unprecedented adrenaline. The other day I was in my second Oly session in a long time. The first session I worked up to 100 and 125kg for a few singles on the snatch and CJ respectively. In this session, I had snatched up to 120 and CJ’d 140 — numbers I was happy with in my second session. I don’t have a squat rack, so in order to front squat, I have to clean the weight. I lost some weight in my hectic month, so I’m using around 5 reps with eating and sleeping well to put some weight back on. I haven’t squatted in over a month and have done some lighter front squatting until this day. I say all this because the weight I am using is not all that impressive, but I’ve accepted that I’m not purely a weightlifter.

I did 125kg on the first two sets, and I was feeling a bit knackered. Then I started thinking…What would Mark Brown do? This is what transpired.

I hope that you all can learn to summon the demons, because mindset is important for getting the most out of your body in the gym. Just ask yourself, “What would Mark Brown do?”

39 thoughts on “The Legend of Mark Brown

  1. Awesome. Been 4 years since I saw Mark Brown. But that guy does go hard. And pound for pound strong as hell. Used to love training with him.

  2. I have followed the site for some time now and this post has inspired me to comment. I have not trained with Mark Brown but have been at WFAC to observe many times. He is a hero of mine and I hope to be kicking as much ass as he does when I am in my 50’s.

  3. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to finally transitioning to TM intermediate programming is that you just do one work set on intensity day. It’s pretty grueling having to muster all that adrenaline for three sets on the linear progression when you are basically doing your 5RM, so you have to take 5-7 minutes to rest, and then get fired up again, and even then, those further sets are always on the back of my mind. Then again, I’ll probably end up eating my words and which I was back doing LP when the weights on Volume day get heavy enough.

    It’s also the reason I love absolutely love Deadlifts, because even on a LP you only do 1×5 of your 5RM, which means I can give it my all in that one set and not have to worry about further heavy sets. :D

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  5. I was telling AC about Mark Brown once. He said,
    “Why do you call him that?”
    “Mark Brown.”
    “Because that’s his name?”
    “Yeah, but why do you say Mark Brown?”
    “Because his name is Mark Brown.”
    “But why do you say his first and last name?”

    He was legitimately mad at me for a while because of this.

  6. Justin,

    Somebody should interview this Mark Brown that you speak of. I think the 70’s Big community would enjoy this.

    That is all. Carry on.


      • There’s a pic of him with Chris and Mike, but he’s a very humble guy. He doesn’t like to perform for other people. I’m going to e-mail him the link to this, but I still think he’ll be a bit bashful.

        I’ll ask if he wants an interview. He’s one of my favorite people in the world.

  7. I didnt read this post until this morning, but last night I did my heavy squat session to 1rm at 10 at night in my sun room while a thunderstorm passed on through. On my way home that night I had heard Thunderstruck and that kept ringing through my mind while I squatted.

      • My Oly bar is just a York Oly training bar, so it was around $300. Still something I wouldn’t want to put in a rack (despite the fact that my grip is so narrow on the snatch it doesn’t fucking matter).

        I’d prefer to have a power rack because I want to use iron plates.

        • My gym is looking for stands for a new platform, and I’m trying to help do some leg work. Need something the O-lifters can use their silly expensive bars on. I actually really like the York training bars, we have a couple.

  8. That is how I prep myself to lift. Get all angry and shit. I have been known to request a slap on the back when I need a quick shot of adrenaline. That’s what I prefer about power lifting to olympic lifting. The yelling, the loudness, the agression.

    Good Talk.

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