HB Recap

Guess the quote:
“I simply gave (them) a nudge out of the door.”

Time to recap our trip to Huntington Beach, CA for a barbell seminar this past weekend.

On Friday night Welbourn had our little crew over for dinner. “Little crew” is ironic because Johnny Pain weighs over 240, my buddy Josh is 235, Rip is at or a bit below 225, and I am at least 225. Not to mention Welbourn is almost 6’6″, 300 pounds. I caught a little bit of hell for being “the runt of the group”.

Me (225), JP (240+), and Josh (235).

Me (225), JP (240+), and Josh (235).

JP and I usually have one thing on our mind during these seminars: food. It had been a few hours since we got into town (we went from the airport to the hotel, then to the gym, then to a store, then off to Welbourn’s), and I was seriously worried about JP’s well being. A guy who is trying to get yoked can’t go that long without eating; he was getting 90’s small before my eyes. I assured him that “Welbourn will make us a 70’s Big worthy meal, just you wait.” I tried to make myself believe it. Not for my sake, but for JP.

Welbourn delivered:


Grass-fed beef

This wasn’t the first time I had met Welbourn, but the first time I got to hang around him for more than a few minutes. Aside from being a behemoth, he is both highly intelligent and damn funny. John told us some amusing stories from his time in the NFL and is friends with a lot of 70’s Big football players. You’ll here more about Welbourn in the coming weeks, especially if he keeps cooking like this:

Cooked meat. Note the wine in the background.

Cooked meat. Note the wine in the background.

The seminar itself went well. There was the usual collection of skinny fellas that need to gain >30 pounds, and I hope we reached some of them. Matt, I hope to see you in Wichita Falls next summer. In the mean time, be a good boy and drink your milk.

There was someone at the seminar who was actually quite large. After about an hour into the lecture on Saturday morning, a giant walked in wearing all black, short shorts, and combat boots. He was probably 6””””””””””””””””5″, 265 (somebody verify this for me) with an estimated 12% bodyfat. The dude was huge. Pete bent down to fill out his registration, and I walked over, hit him on the shoulder and said, “What the hell are you doing here? You’re not a CrossFitter.” He looked at me and kinda laughed, but I was still genuinely curious. In any case, Pete was a large human being, and we later found out he plays rugby. He also had been eating a paleo type diet that unfortunately caused him to lose between 30 and 40 pounds — when you are that big, you are gonna have to eat something more than just “Paleo” to maintain get enough calories. In such a case, Welbourn recommends eating “Paleo” + milk. This should be substantial to maintain a given body mass, depending on the training.

Later that night (when Pete ordered two entrees at the restaurant), he was a bit malcontent about losing all of that muscle. I was glad to hear that he was on our side, because he can easily conquer several small villages.

JP and I were able to make a milk run to sustain our caloric needs during the (nearly) 10 hour-a-day seminar. Milk and eggnog did the trick.

I do not recommend the dulce de leche eggnog. At all.

I do not recommend the dulce de leche eggnog. At all.

This made us happy. Very much.

Lat spread, front double biceps, and the crab.

Lat spread, front double biceps, and the crab.

Drinking milk in groups becomes synchronized much like the menstrual cycles of female roommates:

It’s science.

It’s science.

Our pal Rachel was some how convinced to drive one of those silly little eco-friendly cars that resembles a go cart. Hilarity ensued.

I still don’t know how Josh fit into the back.

I still don’t know how Josh fit into the back.

Now, I don’t want you women thinking that some of you are allowed to be painstakingly skinny either. My pal Pooja got a head start by drinking milk with her coffee on Sunday morning.

Good girl.

Good girl.

In other news, I’m pretty confident that I convinced Sean and Ruth to compete in weightlifting. They both have comical amounts of potential in their athletic ability, and I can’t wait to hear about their competitive conquest. It’d be a shame to see that talent untapped, so hopefully I gave them a nudge out of the door.
You two are obligated to stay in touch.

Ruth and Sean: the weightlifting couple.

Ruth and Sean: the weightlifting couple.

This pictorial wouldn’t be satisfactory without the inclusion of Michael, our Danish friend who traveled all the way to California to attend the seminar. Mike is an all around cool dude, and we all hope to see him again.


Juli, Michael, and I

We ate at Welbourn’s again on Sunday night, but we brought a smörgåsbord of stuff to eat from Trader Joes. After eating I was exhausted and some how managed to fall asleep on Welbourn’s couch when Predator was on tv, so I missed out on a lot of good story tellin’. Oh well. Thanks for the hospitality, John.

Well, it was another successful seminar. We always aim to educate and help as many people as we can. There is never enough time or space to mention everyone, but I’ll get a quick summary in:
Pete, send me your e-mail and stay in touch. Julie (not the one pictured above), let me know how getting stronger improves your Olympic lifts, and good luck at your next meet. Thomas, get your boobs problem situated and continue getting strong (and start thinking about how you would program this stuff). To everyone else, implement this material into your practice, never stop learning (we won’t), and remember…you’re never strong enough.

Starting Strength Seminar

“When one teaches, two learn.”
–Robert Heinlein

Some of you may be familiar with barbell training as it has been taught by Mark Rippetoe, whether learning it by attending the Basic Barbell seminar through CrossFit, reading his books, Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training and Practical Programming for Strength Training, that are published by The Aasgaard Company, or viewing the media that has been available through CrossFit.com over the past few years.

In order to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the coaches, the Basic Barbell seminar has been expanded into the Starting Strength Seminar. This new seminar is longer and more detailed with a 3-day format that allows the attendee to gain a better, more thorough understanding of the biomechanical model of the exercises that operate in a gravitational framework, how to appropriately coach the basic barbell exercises, how to program these exercises into an effective strength and conditioning program, as well as learning and performing the exercises.

The SSS is an incredibly valuable learning experience that cannot be attained anywhere else in the fitness industry. The value is augmented by the new testing format that will include an evaluation on the ability to coach and perform the exercises as well as an online exam that can be taken after the seminar. Passing both the practical and written assessments will award the attendee with a Starting Strength Coach certificate as well as access to an online “coaches only” message board, being included in an online directory of barbell coaches to refer trainees to you, as well as instant access to the experienced staff of the SSS. Many will learn extensively from attending the seminar, but only the best will earn the certificate.

If you have ever been interested in coaching barbell training, this is a good place to start. The more coaches we have with their heads on straight, the better the strength and conditioning field will become. More information on the seminars can be found at here. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to e-mail me any time.


Hi Chris

Hi Chris

By now you have read about my training partner (and super friend), Chris. We did a bit of filming last Friday, and the video below consists of his training session. Chris’ “story” is important for a few reasons.

1. Shoulder Injury
In January Chris had pretty serious shoulder injury — we think he had some kind of tear in his supraspinatus. He could barely lift a 15 pound bar overhead. I started working with him, getting him to press that bar for more and more reps every day. Eventually he could do 3 sets of 25. Chris slowly increased the weight while titrating the reps down until he was able to do 3 sets of 5 for sets across. We did the same thing on the bench press, and eventually he worked up to being on a linear progression in both presses. At the end of his linear progression, he benched 317x5x3 and pressed 210x5x3. Not bad considering he started at zero.

Riley v. Lascek

Riley v. Lascek

2. Bigger Guy on the Linear Progression
When Chris started all of this, he was a pretty big guy at 6’ and 250 lbs. We talked multiple times about his diet early on, and it was made clear that he should eat plenty of eggs, meat, and milk and take it easy on the carbs. Larger guys don’t need extraneous calories, they need protein, and calories to fuel their training. Gant always says eat enough protein to maintain or increase your muscle mass, enough carbs to fuel your workout, and enough fat to recover. With strength training, you don’t need a whole lot of carbs if you aren’t trying to gain a lot of weight. Chris loves to grill, so he eats a LOT of meat and eggs. “They are the BAYST”, he says.

Chris and I drinking 70’s Big shakes when we were skinnier

Chris and I drinking 70’s Big shakes when we were skinnier

About 2 months ago, Chris and I were training and he was at the water fountain. When he walked by, his back looked massive. I said, “Dude, you’re lookin’ kinda big, how much do you weigh?”
“250, I think.”
“Well, go weigh yourself.”
He was 265 and didn’t even know it. 15 pounds of muscle in a few months time. I assure you, his girlfriend wasn’t complaining. (Fun fact: Chris’ girlfriend and sister were some of the original gals to be supportive of our 70’s Big idea early on.)

3. Groin Injury
During the linear progression, Chris got up to squatting around 450 for his work sets, but strained something in his lateral groin area (I think it was the sartorius). This kept him from squatting with a bar for at least a month and a half. The injury got a little better, so I had him start squatting with an empty bar while in pain. We went through the injury protocol, working up the weight, titrating the reps down. He got back up into the upper 300’s for his work sets, but he still felt some residual pain. So, instead, we moved his squat to the Texas Method. This injury was not due to a form problem, and so we experimented with the Texas Method (5×5 volume on Monday, light day on Wednesday, and 3RM intensity on Friday) to see if it would heal up with less weekly volume. It did; as you can see in the video, he squats 500 for a very easy triple.

Chris pulling 625

Chris pulling 625

4. Natural Deadlifter
When I started working with Chris on the linear progression, he pulled 445 for an easy set of five. From there, he made quick work of the deadlift (his favorite lift) by making 15 pound jumps up until 500. From there he made 10 pound jumps, then a few five pound jumps to finish with 545 for a set of 5 (the most he had ever pulled). A few weeks later he pulled 600 and 625 (with a slight hitch on the latter). Chris loves him some deadlift.

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 StartingStrength.com. 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.


This isn’t just “working out”

There are some people who are not familiar with the primary method of training implemented at the Wichita Falls Athletic Club to get 70’s Big. If 70’s Big is the goal, then strength is the goal. A novice will make the most successful strength gains doing a simple linear progression with five basic barbell lifts: squat, deadlift, press, bench press, and power clean. These movements are extensively analyzed and taught in the text “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Ed.” by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore. The explanation of how the body adapts to strength training as well as how to program the barbell lifts is elaborated on within “Practical Programming for Strength Training, 2nd Ed.” by Rippetoe and Kilgore. There isn’t a better resource for any level of trainee and coach regarding strength training. You’ll need it if you are on the quest to being 70’s Big.

The local fitness gym is full of people working out. The skinny girl is running and the upper body boy is doing curls in the squat rack because that is what they decided to do that day. Their goals are vague and typically revolve around being nude with the opposite sex. Moving around and getting sweaty without a plan is called working out (or some kind of activity with the opposite sex). Training, on the other hand, has a goal in mind. Each training session has a task that is known before hand, and that task aids in accomplishing the known goal of training.

The majority of people who are actually training for a sport would benefit from improving their strength. Strength is the fundamental capacity for all other physical attributes. Strength and/or strength training, when done properly, will improve everything from speed to flexibility. Since this is the case, it would behoove the majority of trainees to exhaust the potential of making linear gains in strength for as long as possible. When this is done correctly, an increase in muscular bodyweight will occur.

An increase in muscular bodyweight will not be detrimental to performance regardless of sport. With muscles comes more force production ability that translates into performing the desired task easier and more efficiently. A bigger motor does not slow the car down. On the other hand, excessive junk in the trunk can.

In order to ensure that in an increase in strength and subsequently size occurs, proper recovery is required. Recovery is dependent on nutrition, particularly protein and total caloric intake. The amount of these two variables is independent to an individual, but most individuals will be in a position in which they need to gain muscular bodyweight. It has been recommended in “Practical Programming” that a person in this situation should consume at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Protein alone does not ensure proper recovery and/or weight gain. Total calories will affect the recovery from structural and metabolic fatigue. In this case, an excess of caloric intake is necessary. The amount of other macro-nutrients (fat or carbohydrates) that should be consumed with protein are typically unimportant at this point as long as a caloric excess occurs. This emphasis of macro-nutrients may change with advancement.

A perfect way to consume enough protein and calories to get 70’s Big is to drink a gallon of whole milk and consume AT LEAST three hearty meals a day. Requirements change depending on an individual and their specific circumstances, but this is a good rule of thumb to abide by (and The Dude abides). No one is suggesting that all people need to drink a gallon of whole milk a day, but those who are in need of muscular bodyweight would be foolish to not do so.

The emphasis here is that eating is not only equally important to training – it IS training. You don’t get stronger in the gym, you get stronger from eating and recovering outside of the gym. And chances are that you aren’t eating enough.

To continue with Doug Young Week, here is a video of a short interview with Doug Young along with footage from the 1977 IPF World Championships. Doug won the world championship with a total of 1956 pounds (699-545-710) — with three broken ribs. It is one of the most impressive performances in powerlifting history.