Archive for April, 2010

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you…

Posted in Athletes on April 30, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

The series continues…

Are you desended from Vikings…

Posted in Athletes on April 28, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

When you talk Old Country Strong you can’t leave out Svend “Viking Power” Karlsen. The man is a strongman legend and a total pipehitting marauder. Here is part one of six in a training documentary on this monster. I will be posting the other parts in a series, Nicky is also getting a write up on Svend together for you all.

But for now to sum Svend up I’ll take a quote about Marv from Sin City

” Most people think Marv is crazy. He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging an axe into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman arena, taking his sword to other gladiators like him.”

Posted by:  Z

Alexander Karelin

Posted in Athletes on April 22, 2010 by Swole Patrol

Ask anybody who was an amateur wrestler “who is the greatest wrestler ever?” and they will probably give you a short list of names.  Dan Gable, John Smith, Bruce Baumgardner, Cael Sanderson, but the name most universally recognized around the world is Alaxander Karelin.

Karelin was born in Novobirsk, Siberia, weighing 15lbs at birth Karelin was a beast from the beginning.  As a boy he hunted on skis and developed his strength carrying logs through the forest.  His coach convinced him to wrestle at the age of 13 and Karelin trained by running through thigh deep snow for 2 hours at a clip and rowing a boat on Siberian lakes until his hands bled.

A reporter once asked Karelin about his greatest challenge and he told the story of wrestling a refrigerator.  It was a huge fridge, and Alexander bear hugged the appliance and carried it to his apartment, 8 floors up.  Another reporter talks about Karelin standing in a hotel lobby, lifting his leg straight over his head, and touching a hanging chandelier with his size 15 big toe.  Standing 6′ 3″ and 286 pounds Karelin blended speed, strength, and stamina to compete for an unprecedented 13 years in international competition without losing a match.  He went a full 6 years without surrendering a point.  This is international competition, where some men train their whole life for one Olympics.  Karelin won gold medals in 1988, 1992, 1996 at the Olympics.  He was world champion from 1989 – 1999.

Karelin’s signature move, the reverse body lift, was thought impossible for heavyweights to execute until he started doing it.  In live competition against the best wrestlers in the world Karelin would lock his hands around the waist of his downed opponent, lift them to hip height, and then throw them over his head in a back arch.  All the while the 286lb men were twisting, turning, bucking, pulling on his fingers, anything possible to prevent themselves from being thrown.  His throw was so devastating that some wrestlers would turn their back to the mat and surrender points rather than get thrown.

Karelin owned several nicknames, Alexander The Great, The Russian Bear, Sasha, and The Experiment.  The latter nickname was in regards to wide held belief that Alexander was using steroids, hgh, and any other number of illegal drugs.  When asked about this nickname bestowed on him Karelin answered “I train every day of my life as they have never trained a day in theirs.”

Entering the 2000 Olympics Karelin was the hands down favorite to win the gold medal for a 4th time in a row.  The Russian hero came up 1 point short in his bid for a 4th medal.  In the Olympic final Alexander Karelin and Rulon Garnder wrestled for 6 scoreless minutes, neither man able to gain an edge.  In the first period of overtime the wrestlers started in the clinch, a position where both men have a bear hug on the other.  Points are scored from this position via takedown, throw, or if your opponent can not maintain his grip.  After 13 years of undefeated international competition, 6 years of never allowing a point to be scored, and 3 consecutive Olympic gold medals in a row, the Russian Bear’s grip failed him.  Karelin lost his grip for a split second, but that was all it took, the most dominate wrestler ever had finally lost.

Karelin retired from wrestling after the 2000 Olympics to fully dedicate himself to family and politics.  He was elected to the State Duma in 1999, 2003, and 2007, and is serving on the committee for international affairs.  Most know Karelin for his athletic dominance and menacing appearance, but Sasha is much deeper than that.  Alexander loves the ballet, opera, and theater.  He is a voracious reader of Russian history and has written poetry.

On a personal note almost as soon as I started wrestling I was aware of who Karelin was, I was at the same time fascinated, inspired, and motivated.  I wanted to be Karelin and I wanted to beat Karelin.  Maybe it’s fitting that in his final match of competition he was defeated by a pudgy farm boy from Wyoming.  Maybe the rule change that cost Karelin his undefeated streak should never have been made.  What ever the case for those 6 minutes Karelin was equalled and for one second he was bested, but make no mistake about it, athletes like Karelin come around once in a lifetime.  I’m glad he was in my  lifetime.

Posted by: John

Somethen smells fishy…

Posted in Nutrition on April 22, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Fish oil…  There are a lot of different ideas floating around about it and how much to take. My friend Skylar (also one hell of a pipehitter) wrote a interesting post on it. It can be found below, this along with a lot more information can be found on his blog http://skylarpond.blogspot.html which is also linked to the right.

Fish Oil- Believe Me Now and Listen To Me Later.

Let’s start from the end and work our way back here-
If you are a person you should take a fish oil supplement. Good. I’m glad we have that covered. The following paragraphs will explain how much to take. A future posting will explore the fats debate in detail but in the immortal words of Hans and Franz: “Believe me now and listen to me later.”

How Much Do I Need To Take Per Day?
Disregard the label on your supplement. Serving sizes are not determined by physiologic need, they are determined by price. Ever notice that a serving size almost always amounts to 1$/ day regardless of the supplement?

This is how much you should take per day:
Between .5 Gram to 1 gram per day for every 10 pounds of body weight. If you are demanding on your body either from heavy training and high stress load or from deficient sleep your body requires the higher 1 Gram per 10 pounds body weight. (Robb Wolf) When I say .5-1 gram I do not mean one gram of “total fat.” I mean one gram of EPA/DHA. That’s the good stuff. (1000 mg=1gram)

If you are confused because your product is measured in ml’s instead of mg’s then dig a little deeper Grambo. You are probably looking at the number at the top of the label under “Serving Size.” That number is not of interest because it is a volume measurement that includes flavoring agents etc. Follow along with the label below:

For your typical crossfitter or other highly active 180 individual the calculation looks like this:
1 gram/10lbs body weight= 18 grams/day.
For your average sedentary or 3 days of cardio/ week type that is .5grams/10lbs = 9 grams/day

This is the Innate Choice Omega Sufficiency supplement facts label from the gel caps. That’s why there is a range.

I use Innate Choice in my office which is pure but not necessarily significantly different than market brands such as Carlson’s. Innate Choice smells good and doesn’t make people burp so it’s the one I go with. My product has 4 grams “total fat” per teaspoon but total fat is not what we are interested in right? We want the good stuff: EPA/DHA so look further down the label under “Omega-3 Fatty Acids”

Per teaspoon (5ml) my product has:
825mg EPA/ 550mg DHA= 1375 mg= 1.375 grams per teaspoon.

For our 180 pound crossfit athlete to get 18 grams we divide 18 by 1.375 to determine the number of teaspoon sized servings he needs. This equals 13 teaspoons of fish oil per day. This would be obnoxious and who uses teaspoons anyway? So use 4.3 Tablespoons instead. (3 teaspoons= 1 Tbs.) Answer= 4.3 Tablespoons/day.

Your average person (Low stress load/ minimal training) requires half that amount: about 2 tablespoons per day.

This amount is not a problem as long as you can tolerate taking the oil straight without the gel cap which gets cumbersome quickly: To get the same amount of fish oil in 4.3 Tbs. from gel caps would require 52 caps per day!
So if you are a person, find a product that you like the taste of and follow the formula below.
(#pounds body weight divided by 10) times .5-1.0 grams= grams EPA/DHA per day.

Posted by Skylar Pond, D.C.

Johnny Pain…

Posted in Gyms on April 19, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Here is a sick video from GreySkull Elite Strength and Conditioning. This is John Scheaffer’s gym (also known as Johnny Pain), a regular at Coach Rip’s Starting Strength certifications and all around awesome coach. When my training partner Johnny hurt his knee, I got in contact with John for advise.  He sat on the phone with me for over a hour (I was a complete stranger at the time) advising me on a bench program for Johnny. I’ve followed his work for sometime now, back as far when GreySkull was a crossfit box.  A link to John’s gym can be found on the right, they move big weight out there.

And if you’ve worked to improve your bench with me at all then you know these.  Thanks John, “Big Back, Big Bench”

Posted by:  Z

Oldest sport in the world

Posted in Athletes, Gyms on April 14, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

A while back my brother sent me some videos of training that the US Greco Roman wrestling team was doing, it was some really good and inventive stuff. What were they training with? Their bodyweight, barbells, kettlebells everything a good strength and conditioning program should base off.

The more I looked into it the more I learned about the man who brought a lot of this training to the team. Ivan Ivanov, a former Bulgarian citizen who relocated to his new home in America and has help reshape our Greco Roman team. Below is a bio about Ivan along with some training videos of his as well as some of the US Greco team training. I really like the kettlebell pummeling workout and have done it myself sense, it’s a real burner.

Coach Ivan Ivanov

After the end of his carrier as a competitor in 1997, Ivan left his home country of Bulgaria to join U.S.A.

Wrestling as a coach to help develop Greco Roman wrestling in the United States. Ivan served as assistant resident coach for the Greco-Roman wrestling team in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the Olympic Training Center from 1997 until 1999. In March of 1999 Ivan began to work as the full time wrestling director and head coach at one of the biggest health clubs in Utah, the Tree-house Athletic Club or (TAC-wrestling) in Salt Lake City UT.

In February 2002 Ivan was hired by USA Wrestling and Northern Michigan University to serve as a head coach for the Greco Roman wrestling team at the United States Olympic Training and Educational Center (USOEC) in Marquette, Michigan. Currently the Program is the top Greco Roman wrestling program for college aged athletes in the United States.

Listed below are some of Ivan Ivanov’s wrestling accomplishments and current endeavors.

# 1994 Tampere Finland World silver medallist 62kg.
# 1996 Atlanta -Olympian finished 5th at 62 kg
# 6-Time Bulgarian National champion in Greco Roman Wrestling.
# 3-Time winner of Nikola Petrov Grand Pre international tournament
# 1995 Petrov Gold Belt winner
# USA wrestling Gold level certified coach
# USA wrestling national coaching staff since 1998
# 2008 Olympic Games Beijing — USA wrestling coaching staff
# From the period of 2005-2008 the USOEC Greco –Roman program led by Ivan Ivanov and assistant coach Jim Gruenwald, won total of 7 World Medals and 1 Olympic Medal.
# 55kg Spencer Mango 2006 University World Champion
# 2006 Junior World Championships – Bronze Medalist, 2008 Olympian finished 8th at 55kg.
# 84kg Chas Betts 2006 University Worlds Silver Medalist
# 66kg Harry Lester 2005 University World Bronze medalist, 2006 and 2007 Senior World Championships Bronze Medalist
# 120kg. Peter Kovalzchuk 2008 University World Bronze Medalist.
# 96kg. Adam Wheeler 2008 Beijing Olympic Bronze Medalist

And here is a video of some of the test they conduct for the team. I dig a lot of this, might have to do some of these in my gym one day.

Posted by:  Z

A good article from Zach Even-Esh

Posted in Articles on April 13, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

I’ve posted this on my gyms home blog before, seems to fit in with the Old Country Strong idea…

The Pussification of America

No photos or art work today, just a straight up rant…..

Something has been irking me lately and it’s exactly what I coin “The Pussification of America.”
On the flip side, I’m sure this article will get me in a lot of heat, mainly by those who are contributing to the weakness.

There is a rare breed of people out there who are also ranting about this and will understand where I am coming from, regardless of being male or female. I have a funny feeling it’s on the minds of many and I do not stand alone.

Not sure what’s going on in other countries, but in the states we’ve got one too many strained hamstrings, too much “I’m tired”, too much “I just gotta get my mind into it” B.S. floating around.

Weak Bodies have become common place and the age range is REALLY starting to stretch. Did you ever think there would come a day when a 6 year old would say he / she doesn’t want to play? Did you ever think that running 2 minutes would exhaust someone? I NEVER imagined such days would come, but they have come and they are HERE.

Physical Education is getting crushed in the states, especially in the middle and high school level where one too many PE Teachers (I should not even call them Physical Education teachers) are allowing students the option to walk on the track and consider this exercise.

If the teacher is allowed to describe such slow movement as “walking”, which is actually slower than a 8 month old baby crawling, then guess who allowed this lackluster effort to be accepted as “Physical Education”? Look at the top. The Administration gave the OK to allow the teachers to give options for those who are motivated to move and for those who are unmotivated to move.
Guess what happens to the Teacher or Athletic Coach for creating a challenging Physical Education environment? He / She will be reprimanded by the Administration.

Challenge the students enough (i.e. make them work outside their comfort zone) and the student tells Mommy & Daddy he doesn’t like you. Next in line? Mommy and Daddy call the school and complain about the teacher and get little Johnny transferred into a different class.

Lesson learned? Push beyond mediocrity and you get reprimanded or perhaps fired. My High School Wrestling Coach took a position at a different high school this past season and in the first week nearly 10 kids quit.

Maybe they said he was too mean, but the translation, which is clear as day, is that it was too hard. These kids will fit perfectly fine into the gyms that have dumbbells no heavier than 50 lbs and 95% of the exercises allow them to sit down, lie down or push and pull on a time wasting machine.

Then again, these kids will NOT be entering any gym as they have proven they are against hard work, or any work at all for that matter.

Teachers and Coaches are becoming the enemy to those who are expected to work hard or earn their way on to the starting line up. Many Administrators allow the parents to complain or cry about the required work of their child and then the Coach is reprimanded and asked to lessen the expectations.
This sends the WRONG message and a poor lesson is learned. Complain enough and you get your way is what they learn.

What happens when they grow up and become part of a large company / business, or even a small company / business?
Does the conversation now look like this:
Employee: “Hey Boss, I don’t really like to work, can I take it nice and easy today, tomorrow and the rest of the year?”

Boss: “Oh sure, as long as you’re doing just enough to get by we should be good.”

For the parents and administrators who are supporting the requirement of hard work, dedication commitment and consistency I salute you and thank you.
For the parents who are interfering because they have become experts at the sport by watching the sport and never having participated in the actual sport, you are screwing up the future of this country.

This shit is spiraling out of control and if you try to become part of the solution your co workers and the Administration will hate you for trying to rock the boat. For those supporting the new path of mediocrity, you are screwing things up across the country now AND for the future.

By the way, “rocking the boat” means you are trying to be progressive and stretch beyond the poor standards that have been set so low and are being accepted. Don’t rock the boat, because then you’ll be forcing other people to do that strange thing called WORK!

Take a look at what society has done to the large number of gyms popping up around the states. Dumbbells are not allowed heavier than 50 lbs and how dare you grunt or use chalk or break a sweat because some ridiculous alarm will go off and you will be removed from the gym. This sounds like insanity to me.

The person who created such a philosophy can not truly go to sleep at night knowing he has done wrong for so many and is now creating a society of straight up weaklings.
Punishment for hard work, that’s the lesson here.
Little do “They” know, that being removed from such a lame ass gym, and I dare stretch my vocabulary and call such a place a “gym”, this is the BEST gift one can get from these places. Removal from a place that supports mediocrity and lackluster effort. In a nut shell, they want you to be weak.

Now this individual will have to hide in his basement, garage or backyard with a 300 lb weight set pieced together from E Bay or Craigs List. He has no bench, no leg extension, no squat rack….. just a raw barbell.

Boo Hoo.

Thank You, Sir, May I have another!?!?

Do we need to have required military service from age 18-21 as they do in Israel and other countries? This could be the trick we need and the younger generation can no longer tell you, “I’m not going to school yet until I figure out what I wanna do.”

Response: No problem, Dude, you’re going to the Army so you have the next 3 years to learn discipline, responsibility, accountability AND your future aspirations.

My Grandfather was in the Russian Army, then the Polish Army and then the Israeli Army. No wonder why he was so damn tough. He never owned a car, instead, he rode his bike, walked and chased buses to make his travels.

I remember my Grandfather jogging with my brother and I or riding our bikes over 1 mile to the pool to get us swim lessons where my older brother usually attempted to drown me on a daily basis. After swim lessons we would jog or ride our bikes back home.

He didn’t tell us to take it easy, have a nap, stay inside, it’s too hot outside to play. And mid summer at 1 or 2 PM the heat climbs near 100 degrees.

We played soccer on a cement playground with other kids and falling on the cement was NOT fun. But we got up every time we fell. I still remember the best goalie was playing in his flip flops! I know of elementary schools that have disallowed running during recess due to some kids falling.

The next step is to tell them to crawl….. where do we go after that? Lay down and wait to die? Perhaps Lunch Aides will have taser guns and start zapping kids who dare to run.

This teaches the young kids to NOT get up after they fall down. This lesson carries over in life. Forever. The kids grow up and become adults, who fear trying new things or taking adventures and they live a boring, safe life. They view running as evil and they view action as evil.

What happens to these kids as they near the end of high school? Are they motivated to study harder to get into that school they always dreamed of? Or, do they lack the mental toughness to wake up early or stay up late so they can do the necessary studying and make better grades?

5 years later you run into Johnny or Susie and they’re still trying to figure out what to do, and they have a kid, but they’re a single parent because being a parent and married at age 19 isn’t what they wanted to do.

They were never encouraged or taught to handle adversity, accountability, responsibility or decision making skills.

Ask most high school kids why they don’t eat breakfast. They’re answer will more often than not be, “I woke up late.”

Translation: I’m too lazy….. I lack the mental toughness, discipline and dedication to wake up 20 minutes early and make my own breakfast.
Boo Hoo

Let us raise the bar for life. Expectations have dropped so low and excuses are common place for why we can not achieve excellence. We have young kids with high blood pressure and signs of early heart disease. We have varsity athletes who don’t know how to perform push ups and adults who prefer pills over exercise.

Will Physical Education transition into something that challenges all and moves away from accepting mediocrity? Exercise is what my Dad was doing when he was a young kid in Romania, which was the REAL PE back in the early 60’s.

Here’s a taste of the required “Physical Education” my Dad & each kid had to perform before being allowed to organize a game. And YES, they organized games on their OWN!

– Sprints on the track
– Hurdle Jumps on Track
– Throwing of small shot puts
– Gymnastics Movements: tumbling, jumping on, over and off of
objects such as benches, boxes and gymnastics equipment
– Crawling on hands
– Climbing Rope

After the required 30 minutes of challenging activity, a large field was available with various sport activities for the kids to organize on their own. This taught them responsibility AND accountability. Problems with the score? Figure it out on your own and learn to settle differences without calling for a mediator.

Some of the games played were:

– Hand Ball
– Soccer
– Basketball
– Track & Field Races

Some kids continued to practice gymnastics, others ran the hurdles and others rotated to and from the various sports games on their own.

Why has Physical Education become less physical, less challenging and basically less of EVERYTHING compared to 50 years ago? Doesn’t this strike anyone as being strange?

Donald Trump said that all the “feel good” lessons kids have learned through school has produced less business men / women who can succeed in tough times, or succeed at all.

Why do we have Varsity high school athletes unable to perform 10 pull ups, 25 push ups or even
ONE freaking full range of motion bodyweight squat.

I left my teaching job behind, and now, with my own business and my own gym, I can create a TRUE Physical Education program through my gym, also known as Physical Culture.

Our athletes run, jump, climb, use Kettlebells, perform Gymanstics drills, etc.

There comes a time in life where you must stop allowing society to do a shitty job and cheat the health and future life success of our kids. This means you will have to go against the norm and rage against the accepted mediocrity.

I hope it’s not this embarrassing outside the states.

Lead from the Front!

And a video of the man Rob Orlando, funny even the name reminds me of our workout “Diesel”

Posted by: Z

It’s simple… Get your ass under the bar

Posted in Interviews on April 10, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

So I was planning on writing a long post about not being afraid to try lots of attempts at heavy Olympic lifts, even if you’ve missed say 10 times in a row. I was gonna talk in the same post about the Bulgarian system which emphasizes lifting constantly close to 1RMs. Where  multiple failures before a successful lift are is a norm.

In our program , it’s not uncommon for a time cap to be placed on sets. A simple example would be giving a athlete 12 minutes to establish a max with a twist like a power clean and split jerk 1rm. This in place of the traditional snatch 1-1-1-1-1 gives the athlete as many attempts as they want while keeping a bit of urgency to the lifts. But there also is a time to take as long as you want – even hours – hitting lift after lift until you achieve your goal.

Now I could ramble on all day about this, but there will be a future post about the Bulgarian system which will be making an appearance in one of our gyms future Caliber Cycles. But for today, I have my own training to attend to and the fact that I’m still a bit distracted by the good news I received last night. My brother Jaime took 5th in the Blue Belt Absolute (open weight) Division at his first Pan Ams! This is really exciting because Jaime had really leaned out to be in a lower weight class for the tournament. Hey! Strong is strong even if you aren’t even over 200 pounds. So I’ll let this video give you all some more info on repetitive lifting.

Posted by: Z

“King Kong aint got SHIT ON ME!!!”

Posted in Competition on April 9, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Today starts the Pan American championships for Jui Jitsu. My oldest brother Jaime is competing in the Blue belt division. He will be representing Team Foster while down in LA. Good Luck Jaime! I’ll keep you all posted, Old Country Strong is about getting out and getting it done, nothing is more old school then combat sports.

Posted by: Z

A good post from 70’s

Posted in Articles on April 7, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

“Figure it out”

Look, I know a lot of you are training out of CrossFit facilities. There ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. But, most people wanting to get better at doing CrossFit stuff will do so by getting stronger. This isn’t new, we’ve been saying it for a while. It may not be in everyone’s best interest to weigh 260+ and be a lifter. That is okay, although the lot of you guys reading the site are horrendously underweight, regardless if you compete in anything or not.

My friend Gant moved up a weight class in Judo (from 90kg to 100kg) and has won his last two tournaments. The point is that he maintains a bodyweight below 220, but still has the 70’s Big mindset. He strength trains properly and conditions very well for his sport. Oh, and he also eats like a man should: heartily. Actually being big enough to be considered 70’s Big will not be in everyone’s best interest, but the quest of 70’s Big is one that aims to get stronger and improve.

“The Scott” is a good example of this. He’s a guy who got involved with CrossFit after a period of dicking around in gyms, and then got pretty damn strong by lifting and drinking his milk. Recently he competed in two CrossFit competitions; he weighed 215 for the first, and then 205 for the second. During one of these he was interviewed by a camera crew, and they asked him a series of questions. When they finally asked about his beard, Scott replied, “It’s all about 70s Big, bulking, chocolate milk and lifting heavy.” Scott is a patriot.

Oh, for those of you who were upset to see him lose ten pounds, he told me in the e-mail, “I am glad that I’m going back to strength training and minimal [conditioning]. This winter my goal is to [weigh] 225 lbs, a 500 deadlift, 450 squat, 400 bench press, 250 press, and 270 clean and jerk.”

In any case, Scott is a guy who really found his niche by going through CF first. CF can be a gateway to lots of competitive endeavors, yet I still stand by the statement that hardly any people that “do CrossFit” put their necks out on the line to actually compete, and this is an integral part to the whole “70’s Big thing”. If you aren’t interested in powerlifting competitions, or you are unable to get into weightlifting, that is fine. But it is in your best interest to pick something, train for it, and compete in it. You’ll learn more about yourself than you would by just dicking around and hoping you’ll get good at something. Figure it out.

I liked this post and feel it touches on some things I’ve mentioned about setting goals outside the gym. Competition is where we see all of our hard work pay off. It’s why we regularly have competitions, totals, and such at CFWS. It gives our athletes a time to come and really throw down, competition is fun and bar time after always seems that much funnier. So I’ll announce CFWS’s first upcoming “Pipehitters Classic”, details will be coming later. We have the CF Northwest Regionals coming up so expected information before then with the actually comp taking place after.

Posted by: Z