“We are the future, Charles, not them!”

Starting Strength Seminar in Wichita Falls, TX
If you are on the quest to get 70’s Big or have considered coaching other people to get strong, then check out the new Starting Strength Seminar. You will learn the nitty gritty details on mechanics and anatomy, and then apply those lessons while coaching other people and getting coached while under the bar. There will be one at the Wichita Falls Athletic Club in Wichita Falls, Texas on February 26-28. This would be a good chance to train and learn at one of the best gyms in the country.


Some of you are actually doing what you’re supposed to: getting strong and not complaining. AC has been busy coaching people in getting strong at Georgia Southern University. His pal Pat has done well:

Pat Squat and Deadlift (506) from A.C. on Vimeo.


I my as well run all of these Rippetoe interview videos again for all you noobs. Let’s start at the beginning.

70’s Big Presents: Mark Rippetoe Interview Pt. 1 from 70s Big on Vimeo.

A Legend Visits

Rippetoe has a new project he is working on. Years ago, he had his own radio show here in Wichita Falls. I haven’t gotten him to pull out the tapes yet, but I’m sure they are interesting, or at least amusing as hell. Rip has done quite a few audio interviews over the past few years, and you probably have noticed that he drives the topic of discussion. This gave him a pretty good idea: why doesn’t Rip become the interviewer and produce some legitimately interesting interviews for all of you to see?

The project has already started, and these interviews are professionally done in a studio in downtown Wichita Falls. Shane Hamman has already been interviewed. Other big names include John Welbourn, Jim Wendler, and Charles Staley. All of these should be awesome interviews. Welbourn is a hilarious guy but I haven’t actually met Shane, Wendler, or Charles although I constantly hear good things about them from Rip. I know these interviews will be better than anything you have seen before, because A) I have spent hours and hours talking to Rip — his mind is always working and there is never a dull moment, and B) the only interviews you have seen are crappy sportscaster interviews on TV. The good news is that Rip despises these interviews, and is going way the hell outta the way to ensure his interview has nothing to do with that slop.

I left one interviewee off of the list: legendary weightlifter and coach Tommy Suggs who happens to be visiting right now. Suggs was one of the most dominant Olympic weightlifters in the sixties, a member of the original York Barbell Club, editor for Strength and Health, the head strength coach for the NFL’s Houston Oilers, an outstanding Olympic weightlifting coach, and an all around nice guy. Bill Starr paraphrased someone in an old article about Suggs saying, “I never met a man who didn’t like Tommy Suggs.”

He and his wife got to the gym today while I was training the Olympic lifts (the Texas State Meet is Saturday), and within a few minutes Suggs was at my platform ready to talk shop about lifting. At 72 years old he is energetic with broad, muscular shoulders. His thinning gray hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and he excitedly leans forward as he talks about weightlifting. I swear it seems like this is his first time getting to talk about technique, and after 50+ years you’d think he was used to it.

I’ll never forget the first snatch I did when Suggs was watching me, because I didn’t finish my pull and missed the damned thing. A few minutes later, I hit it cleanly. Later I tied my PR with a very nice technical lift, and he eagerly rushed forward, shaking his hands, smiling as he told me what went right. The guy is a joy to be around.

I moved onto clean and jerk, the whole time talking with him about different technique cues. He gave me one in particular that seemed to magically make me rock the hell out of the jerk. Learning from Suggs in this short amount of time is an experience I won’t forget, and his weightlifting knowledge is unmatched. He placed an emphasis on being strong as possible to be a good weightlifter and preached a vertical bar path, especially off of the floor. Being coached by him is one of the most enjoyable experiences in my very short weightlifting career. American coaches in our country can learn a lot from him.

Tommy Suggs coaches me on this 155 kg clean and jerk

Tommy Suggs coaches me on this 155 kg clean and jerk

I feel like I can’t really type anything that will do the man any justice. Just trust me when I say he is one cool dude.

How To Break In A New Belt

“Who is but the form of what, and what I am is a man in a mask.”

In case any of you have been trying to order 70’s Big shirts, I did a poor job of re-supplying them when inventory was short. The delay in getting them delivered is my fault and has nothing to do with The Aasgaard Company. I’m pretty new to this kind of thing, so I’m learning from my mistakes.


Some of you have been asking how to break in a new, stiff belt. Rip and Mike teach you how to do so in the following video. AC does the editing on these. That means the Kenny Loggins thing was his idea.

Breakin in that stiff belt from 70s Big on Vimeo.

Belt Me Up, Scotty

“…but dogs can look up.”

If I had to guess, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people that strength train in the past few years. The majority of these people have limited experience with getting stronger. Compound this with all of the new experts in the “functional fitness” community, and you have a lot of misconception on what methods, exercises, and equipment would best be used to get stronger. One of the more irritating topics is whether or not to wear a belt.

It is basic knowledge among strong people that a belt makes you stronger, but the exact mechanism that accomplishes this is not well known. However, the “functional fitness” community likes to make outrageous claims and fairy tails to not wear a belt. We won’t be addressing any of them here; it isn’t worth acknowledging illogical rubbish.

To understand why a belt works, we must understand what is occurring physiologically during a heavy lift. If you have been taught correctly, then you already take a big, deep breath and hold it throughout the lift. This big breath of air increases the intra-thoracic pressure and subsequently the intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure acts like a pneumatic brace against the anterior portion of the spine while the erectors of the back brace it from the posterior. This increases the support of the spine, and more support means more strength.

The belt’s purpose is to constrict the abdominals to give them something to contract against. This contraction of the abdominals with an appropriately tightened belt is like trying to increase the volume in a non-expansible container — it increases the pressure even more. Not only is it helping to increase the intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure more than without the belt, but the abdominals also contract harder into the belt to do so. More pressure is more support which means more strength to do the task at hand.

You can see Mark Dimiduk’s abs bulging into his belt here

You can see Mark Dimiduk’s abs bulging into his belt here

The belt will allow heavier weights to be handled, and then heavier weights can be handled un-belted too — more than if you had not worn the belt to begin with. In other words, it makes you stronger whether you want to believe it or not. If a lifter chooses not to wear a belt while knowing this, then they are choosing to not allow their trunk to become as strong as it could. In other words, anybody who is serious about getting stronger will wear one.

I was having this conversation with two lifters at the gym yesterday, and after explaining the belt’s purpose, I said, “So, just wear the fucking belt, ok? Please?” It would be silly not to (especially because our gym has lots of them hanging on the wall).

Tomorrow we will talk about where to buy belts, what to look for, and how to learn how to start wearing one on your own.


Here is a flashback video from a few months ago. Rip tells a pretty cool story about 70’s Big co-captain, Doug Young.

Seattle Trip

This story has everything from poop to french toast…

I decided that whenever we travel to do a barbell seminar that I can do my best to chronicle the event. Aside from the the seminar itself, these trips have a focus on eating, drinking, training, and taking in the scenery. Maybe in that order.

Washington state is lush with consistent rainfall, and the leaves are in the middle of melting into golden and pink flecks along the rolling landscape. Giant maple leafs litter the damp ground while douglas firs huddle with their Christmas tree cologne. Alders and ash, cedar and birch, hemlock and hawthorn, oaks and pines, willows and spruce…Fuck, that place was pretty.


Well, when we got into Seattle, two of the three bags we checked did not make the trip with us (mine was the one that made it). The belligerent airline employee had no reasoning for the delay, but I suspect this was the TSA’s fault. They don’t do anything but fuck things up anyway. The airline employee working the baggage claim area gave Rip some lip about his company losing Rip’s bag. The exchange was mildly amusing if you weren’t Rip or Stef. Why would anyone hold onto a job in which the sole purpose is to deal with people who are pissed off?

CrossFit Eastside was the gym that was hosting the seminar. Mike Street and Carrie Klumpar co-own and coach at the gym. Unlike most silly CrossFit “gyms”, this one has some power racks, weightlifting platforms, an emphasis on barbell training, and coaches who are good at making people strong. If you live in the Bellevue and Redmond area and want to get strong, pay Mike and Carrie a visit.

CF Eastside held a CrossFit Total meet (a powerlifting-type meet that includes a squat, standing overhead press, and a conventional non-sumo deadlift and follows a weightlifting meet format) on Friday night. I was the head judge while Rip announced the meet. It’s always good to see people get excited about getting strong and hitting PR’s in a meet.

More importantly, on Friday and Saturday we went to a sub shop where I got a giant size (which had to have been 16 inches long) Philly cheese steak with double meat and double cheese. I’d estimate 1,500 to 2,000 calories in one of those bad boys. I thought it would give me detention with the commode later, but my digestive tract has experienced some sort of adaptation to this kind of thing. Sorry, no pictures of these beasts — I wasn’t thinking properly because I felt so famished. Famished = 90’s Small. That, my friends, is a dangerous thing.

In the seminar, we have a little friend named Mr. Thrifty who helps everyone learn skeletal and muscular anatomy. Mr. Thrifty lost an arm, and as a result, started hitting the bottle.


Mr. Thrifty goes over the edge after his limb loss

There were a lot of interesting people at the seminar. My buddy Charlie marked himself on the first day with his choice of socks. Luckily he’s one cool dude. He’ll be trying out for a minor league basball team next May, so he should understand the importance of strength to do so. It should be easy — he’s got one helluva mullet brewing.


There are some other notables from the seminar. Billy is a strong fella who competed in the Total meet on Friday, went through the seminar, then trained again Monday night. If I remember correctly, he weighs a solid 220, and he’s got some 70’s Big potential. Billy: get to 240, quick.
Then there’s my pal Anthony, who is 6’6″, and somewhere around 180. I mention him because he is SUPPOSED to be going on a milk and meat fetish. Anthony: please gain 100 pounds. You will easily conquer small villages at this height and size. Again, I don’t have any pictures; cut me some slack because I didn’t decide to chronicle the weekend until Monday.

Street and Carrie had an anatomical model that was conveniently used to teach the relevant musculature in strength training. I just thought it was amusing because he had a removal penis.

Mr. Thrifty and Removable Penis Guy

Mr. Thrifty and Removable Penis Guy

Sunday morning we experienced the Brown Bag in Redmond (I think). You guys won’t believe the awesome 70’s Big breakfast I had. Giant cinnamon rolls were cut, battered, and fried. I had cinnamon roll french toast. Behold…

Eggs, bacon, sausage, and cinnamon roll french toast. Heaven.

Eggs, bacon, sausage, and cinnamon roll french toast. Heaven.


I had it twice. Scrambled eggs this time. Food porn.

This is one of the more awesome things I’ve had to eat in a while. I could eat it every day.

The seminar ended, I had a 1 pound burger and some other stuff…yada yada yada. Usually we leave on Monday, but we hung around to travel up north towards the Cascade Mountains. We stopped off in Sultan to go to the Sky River Meadery. Mead is an ancient honey wine that has been enjoyed by warriors and poets for ages. When we drank a bottle that night, Rip was disappointed that we lacked a horn to drink out of. Find yourself some mead and enjoy it like a viking (but make sure it is dry mead, the extra sweet flavors would be the equivalent to drinking Zima). After purchasing the mead, we wandered around a Skyhomish, a town that is more or less near the base of the Cascades. We got coffee several times, once in a stand run by a rather ravishing girl who asked if we wanted ice in our coffee to cool it down (weird). There were some interesting lawn ornaments around the parking lot, including this:


Hopefully he grows to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner

After perusing some antique shops (I bought a book called “The Age of Louis XIV” by historian Will Durant), we headed up a road that led us deep into the thick forest that surrounds the mountains. When we stopped to hike around a bit, we saw the following sign:


A sense of humor in liberal Washington state

Rip, Stef, and I got out and started walking down a gravel road. Everything was still. The forest around us was incredibly dense and swallowed the sound waves that our blundering made. Mist started to grow along the treeline, and the sky marbled darker as we walked. It’s an interesting contrast to walk upon a dewy trail that is slung right in the middle of lavish, green grass. I found a nice cross sectional piece of cedar which carried a rich, sweet aroma. After drinking from a busy stream, we turned to head back. Somehow we missed the pile of glistening shit that lay in the middle of the trail that was probably left by a coyote not too long before us. Rain drops spattered around us as the day descended away. Getting back in the car was a rude awakening to reality.

We headed back to the Bellevue area, consuming calories along the way. It was time to train again at CF Eastside. I’ve already given an account of clean and jerking 145 kg for five singles, squatting 450 lbs. for three sets of five, and doing some light bench press. I still felt the affects of this training session when I snatched on Wednesday. That night, we drank a bottle of mead, something I recommend to every nobleman out there.

Our little traveling crew had joked about finding a giant maple leaf before we left, yet we hadn’t really had the chance to look for one. When we approached the car on Tuesday morning, a maple leaf was waiting for us on the back windshield. A serendipitous delight, indeed.

Rip and the maple leaf

Rip and the maple leaf

On the way back, our flight was delayed by two hours. This helped push back our return to Wichita Falls until after midnight. These trips to do barbell seminars are always worth it to me, and hopefully by chronicling them I can keep track of the people we meet that should be getting 70’s Big (somebody’s gotta hold them accountable), allow those people to see the recap of their seminar group, list the food we eat, the delicious drinks we partake in, and any interesting experiences the group has. There’s not enough time to cover everything, but hopefully this gave you an idea of what we are up to.

As for what goes on in the seminar itself, you’ll have to find that out on your own. For a synopsis, visit This is where you can find information about the new seminars that will begin in 2010 as well as the location of Rip’s question and answer forum that was previously located on Strengthmill.