Thursday, 2 June 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed : My Journey Into Strength

By Coach Cj Swaby

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree , I would spend four hours preparing the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Quite a few people have been asking me about the massive gains that I have been continually been making in my weight training recently. I decided to share HOW i’ve managed to consistently go from strength to strength DRUG FREE with NO INJURY and manage to lift over 2.5 times my own body weight in the past 8 months of training in preparation for the Strength & Power Meet 2011.

It is amazingly simple. There are no real “secrets” just a process that has to be respected to make it work. This blog series aims to make your process a lot more efficient than mine, so that you can get solid results. I will detail everything from my workouts to nutrition, to seeking out appropriate help, my research, training tips and my peak mental performance strategies.

I was not a typical “strength athlete” my background is combat sports and endurance running . while I have been weight training for over 16 years and familiar with different systems, this was a whole new ball game. An education process was necessary, and it was important to immerse myself in this world to create the correct mindset, remain inspired and lay solid foundations for success. Today’s blog entry is about my first step in the process.

STEP 1: Do Your Research

After seeing Andy “Iron Mac” Mckenzie of Iron Mac Fitness blow away the competition in the 2010 Strength & Power Meet, I was inspired. I decided I wanted to do the same in the 2011 Strength & Power meet. I checked out the times and totals of the Strength & Power meet competitors and mapped out what I saw. What I noticed was that in Andy McKenzie’s weight category, Andy was always in the top three for every event, and was often first place in the majority of events. In my weight category I noticed that the top three contestants in each event was rarely the same . What did this tell me?

1) In my weight category there was a big discrepancy in the competitors training between their Strength training and Power training. Plus potentially the time spent on technical training for the “special events”

2) I only had to ensure that I was consistently in the top three for each event, and win some to get the overall first place.

3) I needed to identify where my training was sufficient and where it was lacking for me to be successful.

With this in the back of my mind, I continued my research. I had always been a fan of strongmen of old, such greats Eugen Sandow, George Hackenschmidt, and Arthur Saxon and others to name but a few. Men who managed incredible feats of strength,and power –to- weight ratio in the nineteen hundreds BEFORE the steroid epidemic distorted TRUE STRENGTH. The feats they achieved and their chiselled , statuesque physics were an awesome sight to behold. I had been lucky enough to glimpse some of their works. Already familiar with Mel C Siff’s Super Training, I digested works by Pat o Shea, Super Squats by Randall J Strossen, and past editions of the strength journal, Milo, and more.

As part of my research I checked out the “All Time Historical Men & Women’s Powerlifting Top 20 Rankings” The rankings below are in the 198lb (90kg) men’s division. They give the “Total” which is the competitors combined lifts of deadlift, squat and bench press, plus their individual lifts. Read it. Then read it again – AND TAKE IT IN!

In 2008, Shawn Frankl of the USA at a body weight of 197.7lb (89.9kg) ripped a total of 2460.00 lbs. For those of you that operate in old money that’s 1120.4 Kg. That was the heaviest 12 times body weight male total of all time as of 2008.

Sergiy Naleykin of the Ukraine weighing in at 198lbs (90Kg) pulled a total of 2460lbs (1025.5) giving him a 11.5 times body weight total. Impressive stuff. Further down the list the totals while not as great were still mind boggling.

I decided to see what the heaviest weight for the individual lifts were to give me a better perspective. I checked out the three individual lifts.

198lb Division: Squat

Top spot went to Sam Byrd of the USA. At meagre age of 26 years old, in August 2007, Sam popped 1050lbs (476.3 kg) out of the rack for a phenomenal squat of more than 5 times his own body weight (he weighed 198lbs / 90kg on the button). Sergiy Naleykin of the Ukraine came in second position with an outstanding 990lbs squat (449.1 kg) in 2008, weighing in at 89.5kg (196.9). This was 5.02 times his body weight.

198lb Division: Deadlift

So this is the lift that really caught my attention. I had seen Britain’s finest, Andy Bolton rip some impressive lifts the previous year at Body Power 2010. At the time of doing my research Andy was the first man to officially rip 1000lbs deadlift and held the record for the Deadlift, Bench and Squat Total. I wanted to see what kind numbers the guys of my size were lifting in 2008.

Ed Coan of the USA ripped 859.8 lbs (390kg) at a bodyweight of 89.7kg (197.34 ). The year was 1985, when Ed managed 4.35 times his body weight. The Russian, Andrey Belyaev, pulled a respectable 837.8lbs (380kg) weighing in at 89.35kg, the year was 2006.

198lb Division: Bench Press

Shawn Frankly held the honours for this one, with the heaviest quadruple times body weight lift of all time. In 2008, Shawn slipped his solid 198 lb frame under the bar, and benched 850 lbs (385kg) – 4.29 times his body weight! In the same year Jason Coker (185.2lbs / ) managed 805.0lbs (365.1 kg) to take second place with a lift 4.35 times his body weight.

(source: http:/ - List compiled by Michael Soong)

HOW This Helped Me

It gave me perspective. By doing research I understood WHAT was required and if I was prepared to actually DO IT, plus HOW I could improve my training and “weak” areas for the Strength & Power Meet, and other Power Lifting Competitions. It enabled me to see the “lay of the land” and see pitfalls or short cuts as I saw it. I began to understand what the human body was potentially capable of, and how that might affect my goal and what to aim for.

I was far off those kind of numbers, and they seemed daunting. But by reading the books and checking out the tables, I was beginning to learn about the colourful characters, and for a short time inhabit the kind of mind set of what it takes to achieve that level of strength. Plus it gave me a reference point to shoot for when it came to the lifts. It’s a tough feat to constantly measure yourself against world class athletes when you are not yet in the same league (but it keeps you humble). My reasoning was pretty simple, and summed up in this quote below ( I can’t remember who said it, so let me know if you do)

“If you would hit the mark you must aim a little above it. Every arrow that flies feels the attraction of the earth.”

It was about the same time my training partner James Bower, handed me a copy of Brooks D. Kubik’s Dinosaur Training, which was arguably the most useful, and influential strength training books I have read in recent years. Kubik distils strength training to its simplest, effective form, he covers performance strategies and maps out templates for training. If you only read one book, make it this one, and get yourself over to his website and sign up for the Dinosaur Training newsletter. It will keep you inspired and motivated throughout your training.

As a DRUG FREE athlete (who lifts RAW – no suit or belt) Dinosaur Training helped put into perspective what was possible by giving a formula to work out power-to-weight ratio’s for clean athletes. This was paramount in setting my goals and formulating a training schedule to achieve them, plus keep me focused.

HOW This Can Help You

Research it. Decide what interests you. Is it the deadlift? The bench press or the Olympic lifts? Kettlebell Sport? Whatever it is – DO YOUR RESEARCH . Find out what other people in your chosen field are doing. Use it as a measuring tool, then set your own standards. What do YOU want to achieve? what would be an amazing feat for you. Aim big. Collect stories, anecdotes and information that inspires you and gets you going. This is all an important part of getting your mind right and creating the correct environment for you to grow into your chosen goal.

In my next blog entry I will look at Step 2 in the process, Goal Setting and Training. Showing you examples of my initial training that packed on four kilo’s of solid muscle and had me consistently improve lifts week in, week out.

This weekend I will be sending out details of books, articles and websites that I used as part of my research in our newsletter. If you would like to receive this information, simply join our newsletter and you’ll receive a copy of this useful information.

Yours in Strength

Cj Swaby


Unknown said...

Personal Trainers Sydney

Really trustworthy blog, please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it to a few friends of mine that I know they would enjoy reading it.

Coach Cj Swaby said...

Thanks Mik, our aim is that people find it useful and can help them with their own training.