Archive for May, 2010

Times they are a changing….

Posted in Articles on May 28, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

It’s been almost four years now sense I started training. A lot has changed in that time, more then I’ll go into in this post. But with the bad came lots of good. I use to be a hardcore disciple, back then I would probably fist fight someone for bad talking the program. I even passed up great jobs to stay in a small hole in the wall gym that I hated training at cause I refused to take jobs with CF gyms that didn’t follow a do or die attitude.

Well I guess I did hold out until I found someone willing to let me run the program I wanted. Which over the years saw more and more power and oly lifting taking place of furious air squats and pushups. I tried really heavy athletic based crossfit, strict gymnastics crossfit (including a obsession with handstands), and even just straight lifting. I’d dive head first into kettlebell programs and do old school squatten in your basement during winter stuff.

All this lead me to the way I train now. But the whole time I was changing styles and methods there was always one thing. The West Seattle Barbell Club, the same group of people I started Crossfitting with. We worked out outside, we worked out in the basement, we’d go to the track together, we did all that shit together. We were the original CFWS, well times they have changed. Most of those members have moved on, kids, jobs, life changes things.

We have a lot more pipehitters, boots, prospects,  and hangarounds now. There are only a few members left that grand fathered into the Club from back then(actually my brother and I are the only original silverbacks left).  So Johnny and I talked it over last night(at the Banya of course). We are dissolving West Seattle Barbell Club, and we will be renaming the Club. There are three people calling the shots for the Club and we all agree(well Nicky always ends up agreeing with me).

So chalk up bitches, grab your ammonia caps, and get use to hearing OLD COUNTRY BARBELL CLUB, cause times have changed. I figured we’d kick of the new name with some bad ass videos.

Old Country Barbell



Rip shit up…


Posted by: Z

Did he just say what I think he said…

Posted in Articles on May 25, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

There are many different versions of Old Country Strong. And while a lot of them fall under different names, the idea behind it is all the same. One I’ll touch on today comes from personal experience. Many of us from the Northwest probably recognize the term Island Strength. In the Seattle area and the Pacific Northwest, Island Strength runs wild.

What is Island Strength? It usually describes the natural strength and burly work ethic of people from Hawaii, Samoa, and Tonga. When I was growing up, I had a lot of friends who fell into this category.

In elementary school, my friend Nepo would often eat a pack – a whole PACK of oreos – with his lunch. Nepo went on to be one hell of a nose tackle – he had to have two jerseys sewn together to fit his massive size! He was shy but you knew he always would be behind you if you needed him – even in first grade.

While in middle school, my best friend Moses (who my Ma hates to hear me mention) taught me how to fight and stick up for myself. Moses was notorious for breaking stuff with his head. It never phased him. Not many people messed with Moses.

When I reached high school, my strength coach Eddie Oleoga (whose brother played linebacker for the Saints) helped shape my weight room ethic.  Eddie was so diesel that he would have to hang a 35 pound plate behind his head to get a decent stretch. Then he’d ask me spot him while he repped out 315 on the incline bench like it was nothing. The show would really go down when his other brother would come in. They’d slam in mouth guards to squat, yeah they were intense. He taught me to always go beyond what I thought I could do.

But the work ethic I got from my island friends really was instilled after I graduated when I did seasonal work for a large moving company. I wanted to make a good impression so I made the mistake of being a really hard worker and this caught the eye of Louie. Louie was the head driver for the Island crew in the company and they got all the big jobs.

Louie was a beast, but then so was Vinnie, and so was Vili. To sum these guys up, they were large and stocky, but didn’t look fat. I always imagined punching Louie’s gut would be like punching a boulder. They had huge cut-up arms and calves that looked like cantalopes.

Everyday I’d get to work, sit in the assignment area, and try and keep my head down. But pretty soon I’d hear it –
“Aye Zach!” This was always followed by a large slap on the back and “Aye, Bruta, you ready to work?” A long sigh would escape my lips  – “Yeah, Boss, I’m ready”

We’d load the truck with what ever we needed, then like clockwork, Louie would hand me a coke. “Here’s a coke – let’s go, Boss”. What I didn’t know was “Here’s a coke” was Samoan for “This is your lunch – we’ll take one ten minute break in the next ten to twelve hours.” Awesome.

Did I mention how strong the crew was? Island Strong –that’s how strong. Louie and I would walk up to a cabinet that’d weigh like 500 hundred pounds or more and he’d just say, “You get that side, Bruta”.  I’d look at it and say “How you wanna go about this?”  “1,2,3” – and he’d easily lift up his end then ask “You got that, Boss?”

The time I spent with Louie’s crew instilled a great work drive in me that I still carry to this day. Get it done. Don’t bitch. Smile the whole time (well they always smiled). Then we’d drive home, and they’d ask me about my family, and tell me about church and all kinds of other random stuff. I even got a nickname “We like you, Zach, you just like us, you our little Howli Boy.”

Yes, I know Howli isn’t exactly a term of endearment, so “Howli Boy” didnt sound so great at first. But they told me it was all about love. Vinnie had a son who was half-white and that was his nickname for him, so I guess I was his work son. I wouldn’t trade the life lessons I learned working countless hours in the summer heat and winter cold with those guys for anything. Islanders are not just strong – they are fiercely loyal to their friends, and in general, some of the nicest people I have every had the pleasure to work beside, grow up with, and call my friends. Now that’s Island Strength.

So this was kind of a random post, it actually came across from this video I found on YouTube. Anyone who knows me should get a kick out of it.

Posted by: Z

Last Video in the saga, but that is a story for another time…

Posted in Athletes on May 21, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

We’ve had a lot of post dealing with athletes lately. This had to do with how busy I’ve been with my competition season coming to a end. Expect to see more training, gear, and general badassery in the coming weeks. Now let’s finish our man Svend’s “Viking Power!”.

Posted by: Z

Big Walt…

Posted in Athletes on May 19, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Have you heard of the analogy of a person being like a “big cat”? How a person of considerable size moves with such quickness, strength, explosiveness and fluidity that the only thing you can you think that describes them is a lion or tiger. Most of the time you hear someone described like this you do not think twice about it. Two weeks ago I was listening to the radio and I heard this compliment being paid to Walter Jones before his retirement press conference and I right away I knew that I may not see find a better example. The belief amongst his teammates was that “Big Walt” would come out to the field with a paper sack, take the opposing defensive end out of the sack, played with him like a cat plays with a mouse, and when done put the end back into his paper sack and leave the field. He was a “big cat”, playing with his opponents, letting them think they had a chance when they never had a chance.

Walter Jones began his career at Holmes Community College starting at both tight end and left tackle. Once done transferred to Florida State University. It was evident when Big Walt first walked in Florida State that he was different. They are few things you can teach in life, the old basketball adage concerns height. Well at Florida State they say you can’t teach quickness. “He’s probably the best athlete that’s ever come through here on the offensive line. 6-5, 300 pounds, 4.9 speed in the 40. You know anybody else like that come through here?” Jimmy Heggins, FSU offensive line coach. Jones while at FSU added to his already impressive frame while still retaining his trademark quickness, clocking a 4.86 40 during spring drills, benching 455, and possessing a 34 inch vertical.

After one year at FSU, Walt declared for the NFL and was taken 6th overall by the Seattle Seahawks. In his 180 career games Walter Jones is credited with giving up 23 sacks and 9 holding penalties. Again that is 23 sacks and 9 holding penalties in a 13 year career. In addition Walter was named a first team All Pro 4 times and to the All Pro team 6 times overall. All-Pro guard and former teammate Steve Hutchison called Big Walt an anthropological assessment because of his long torso and short legs allowing for a very low center of gravity and legs that moved like ducks underwater, always churning.  Former Pro Bowler and teammate Robbie Tobeck got an in-your-face look when he signed with the Seahawks in 2000 after playing six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.“I had always been the fastest lineman on any team I played on.  We’re working out one day and he’s laughing at me. I’m running with everything I’ve got, and he’s toying with me when we were racing. So I said, OK, well he’s bigger than me and faster than me. Then the workout moved to the weight room, which I considered my domain especially in the squat. I’m like, OK, I’ll get him in the squat, instead, he buried me. It’s God-given ability that he took and developed even more by hard work and dedication.”

And how did he build this amazing strength, hard work in the weight room and oh yeah pushing cars. What was a locally known secret became well publicized in a Sports Illustrated article posted below. So Big Walt thank you for playing the position the way one hopes it is played, with quite dignity and dominance.

When the Seahawks asked Walter Jones to attend the team’s off-season conditioning program this year, he said no thanks. He’d worked out on his own for three summers, and after making the Pro Bowl each season he wasn’t going to change. The key to his workout? Pushing an SUV around a parking lot near his home in Harvest, Ala. When he played for Aliceville (Ala.) High, Jones and the other linemen sometimes had to push small cars in preseason workouts. These days Jones is up to a three-ton Escalade. Twice-a-week truck pushing is the only lower-body training he does, and Jones says it’s an excellent substitute for squats, which hurt his back. The work in the parking lot also translates well to the field. “The hard part [about playing offensive line] is staying low for that long,” he says. “After doing this, it doesn’t bother me if I’m stuck in my stance for a long time. I also feel like I finish off blocks better.” Other elements of his self-training regimen: weightlifting, abdominal work and sprints. “I run short sprints, because a lineman’s game is about short bursts,” he says. “I can’t work out like a wide receiver or a defensive back. Those guys have to run all day.”

Walter Jones’ Five-Day Workout

Abs exercise (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays)

1. Lay on your back with legs extended straight out and heels on a exercise ball. Keep hands on stomach and head and shoulders on the ground as you lift the midsection up. Try to keep the body in straight line while holding that pose for at least 45 seconds. Do four to five reps.

“You don’t worry too much about your abs when you’re a lineman because it’s hard to have a six-pack,” Jones says. “But you want to do exercises like this to handle situations on the field. If someone gives you a shot in the gut, you don’t want to start crying out there.”

Lineman Stance drills (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays)

1. With back against a wall (or a goalpost in Jones’ backyard, in this case), bend the knees and lower the hips into a left tackle stance (with legs bent at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees). Keep arms extended straight out and hold for at least 45 seconds. Do four to five reps.

“By doing this, you can improve your ability to stay in your stance for a long time,” Jones says. “You should be able to stay in your stance all day if you’re a lineman, whether a quarterback is calling an audible or not. This will help keep you low.”

Truck-pushing (Tuesdays and Thursdays)

1. You need a driver to put the truck in neutral with the brakes on. You should be on pavement with a very slight downward slope.

2. Put both hands on the back bumper and bend your knees at an angle of about 90 degrees. As you lean into the truck, keep your back straight and your arms nearly extended (elbows slightly bent). Put one foot forward — whichever one feels most comfortable to you — and the other back.

3. Yell “Go!” After the driver releases the brakes, start pushing immediately and continue for 25 yards.

4. Rest for 90 seconds. Do it 10 times in all.

Weightlifting (Mondays and Wednesdays)

1. Dumbbell bench (3 sets of 10) 70 to 90 pounds
2. Dumbbell incline (3×10) 65 to 75 to 80 pounds
3. Dumbbell curls (3×10) 70 pounds plus bar
4. Shoulder press (3×10) 60 to 80 pounds
5. Shoulder shrugs (3×10) 100 pounds
6. Abs crunches (200 reps/day plus another 100 reps after dinner)

“When I lift weights, I’m really just trying to maintain the strength that I already have,” Jones says. “People ask me what I can max but I don’t have any idea. I haven’t done that since college. My main goal with the weights is to just do the little things that help me on the field.”

Cardiovascular (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays)

1. Run 10 80-yard sprints
2. Run eight 60-yard sprints
3. Run six 40-yard sprints
4. Run 10 20-yard sprints
5. Run 10 10-yard sprints

(After each sprint, walk back to the starting point and immediately start running again. The recovery time is the time that passes between the end of the run and the start of the next run. He doesn’t time the sprints.)

“I run shorter sprints because a lineman’s game is about short bursts,” Jones says. “I can’t work out like a wide receiver or a defensive back. Those guys have to move at fast speeds and change direction and they have to run all day. What I need to worry about is having the right technique and stamina.”

Posted by: Nickay


Posted in Athletes on May 18, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

The 5th part of the epic Svend training saga…

Posted by: Z

New Plan Get the Ball to Billy…

Posted in Competition on May 14, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

“Winners want the ball when the game is on the line.”

I still remember when I said that to John once. He looked at me and in his straightest John face and said.

“Hey in wrestling the game is always on the line.”

It might have gone differently then that, he throws out a lot of deep quotes. But I do see the similarity between that and this weekends Championship. Yes it’s a team, yes you have to bust your ass for the team. But this is competition this your time to dig down deeper then you have before. And in our sport it doesnt come down to one play, or shot, or goal. The games on the line every second of every event this weekend.  I feel like my team is ready to step up to that challenge.

I sent this to all of them, I love this speech…

If my Hair could Talk what would it say?

Posted in Articles on May 13, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Sorry for the day late post. Our gyms competition team is gearing up for this weekends Crossfit NorthWest Regional Champioships, in short it has me swamped (I myself also being on the team). I had a plan yesterday, Job, post, job, eat, sleep, job, train, eat, sleep. It was a good plan until I realized I had other shit to do and my post kept getting put off.

So instead of getting something really informative here is a run down of a day in the life of a head trainer. Did I forget to mention I was exhausted yesterday because my brother had seen it fit to give me season 2 of BSG (thats BattleStar Galactica to the lay person), and I felt the need to stay up watching it.

5:00AM – Wake up hit snuse button for 20 minutes
5:30AM – Out the door after making the dog get up
6AM – Teach Class
7AM – Teach Class
8AM – Teach Class
9AM – Teach Class
10AM- Teach Class
10:45AM – (Shit need a hair cut) bounce out early to head to barber
11:30AM – Get totally BadAss haircut

12:30PM – Eat teriyaki and take in how BadAss my haircut is
2:30PM – Watch episode of BSG (It’s like crack)
3:30PM – Coffee and back to Gym
4:30PM – Teach Class
5:30PM – Teach Class
6:30PM – Teach Class/have team meeting/and train (I can juggle shiz like a mother)
7:30PM – Post on Gyms home site/eat again
9:00PM – Arrive at Banya 5 for recovery sauna
11:15PM – Get home to go to bed, man I got a lot of shit done (I forgot the OCS post!).

Well as you can this really comes down to the fact that I decide to get my hair cut. But if I was to blame my hair it’d just tell me to kiss it’s ass and probably slap me. My hair is probably as badass as Master RKC Instructor, and professional performing strongman David Whitley. I was planning on profiling Dave yesterday but just ran out of time. Here is a teaser clip for the writeup I’ll get to at some point and a link to his site

Posted by: Z

Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it

Posted in Athletes on May 10, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

The saga continues…

Posted by: Z

Put your money where your mouth is

Posted in Articles on May 7, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

A few weeks back I ended my first group test cycle on our Caliber program. The test group followed a three on, one off, two on, one off work schedule. In the six weeks they followed it they alternated between two heavy lift days consisting of squats on a RVT (Russian volume Training) model. And a linear progression on the deadlift and a day of RVT front squats. The lift days took place on Wednesdays and Saturdays with metabolic conditioning taking up the other days. The results were even better then I hoped for. I will be profiling some of the athletes gains that came from this in the coming weeks.

Below are the stats and a small testimonial from one such athlete. He has been in our gym for awhile now following a standard Crossfit GPP (General physical preparation) program. When approached about the strength Cycle, his goals were to get stronger and put on weight. He not only met both those goals but also found himself becoming a member of the gyms BarBell Club (not a easy task, there may have been a cheer leading costume involved). He wasn’t the only one to meet his goals. I will be profiling a female athlete next week who followed the EXACT same workout program (minus a lot of milk to help in the males athletes diet) and got stronger and gained muscle while lossing fat and leaning out.

All these athletes met goals of fat loss, muscle gain, faster run times, more pullups, better workout times, all while following a heavy strength based Cycle.

Athlete 1: Graham Kent


Old: 172lbs

New: 185lbs


Old: 285lbs

New: 315lbs (335 is next goal)

Power Clean:

Old: 155lbs

New: 185lbs

Fran: 21-15-9 thruster 95lbs/pullups

Old: 7:59

New: 5:37

Grace: 30 Clean and jerks for time 135lbs

Old: 7:49

New: 2:51

“My thoughts on the Cycle is that I have never experienced such dramatic strength gains in such a short period, let alone ever in my life. Mentally, to know I can do multiple sets AND reps around 95% of my one rep max on squats and to know I can deadlift heavy weight for reps is HUGE. To knock 5 MINUTES off my Grace and 2:30 off my Fran was insane, but to squat 3 wheels and have it feel pretty easy when I could barely properly squat 205 at our first total sums up how effective your program is. I fukin PR’d during warmup for my squat at our recent total, that was the shit! The almost 15 pounds I have gained in 7 weeks is pretty fucking sweet too.

I felt like the coaching was right on the entire time and I never did anything that I didn’t feel prepared for. I definitely felt the program really pushed you to improve and you had to really want to do it, it was not easy and that’s the way it should be. I loved every day of it.”

Posted by: Z

Who doesn’t try world records in practice…

Posted in Athletes on May 5, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Svend “Viking” Karlsen was born October 6, 1967 in Norway. Svend wanted to be a best at everything he did from a very young age. He happily admits that he wanted to be just like Arnold and actually began working out seriously at the age of 14 to achieve that goal. While training he was realized his inherent strength and started to focus on powerlifting. The first time Svend tried Squat, Bench-press, and Dead lift he did 330 lbs (150kg), 220 lbs (100kg), 330 lbs (150kg). In 1986 Svend started to compete in powerlifting competitions and began to break numerous records. Svend during his time as competitive powerlifter broke 30 Norwegian records, 3 European records and 1 world record, won the Norwegian championship 3 times, the Nordic Championship and took third in both the European and the World Championships.

After power lifting Svend decided to proceed with first childhood ambition of bodybuilding. Competing as a heavyweight, Svend won the Norwegian championships and in 1993 placed second in the World Games, earning his pro card. Svend competed in several professional shows before retiring from an injury.

After the end of his bodybuilding career Svend was encouraged to start to participate in strongman competitions. Svend competed in one of the 1996 qualifying heats and narrowly missed qualifying for the 1996 World’s Strongest Man finals. In 1997, Svend made it to the finals, but during the warm-up for the squat event, he tore his hamstring and had to withdraw from the rest of the contest. Svend returned in 1999, finishing in third place, and finished in second place in 2000. Svend finally became victorious at the 2001 World’s Strongest Man competition. Other notable Strongman titles Svend won include Europe’s Strongest Man 2001, 3 time runner-up at the Arnold Strongman Classic 2002-04, and 2 time Norway’s Strongest Man in 2003 and 2006. Svend is the second athlete inducted into the World’s Strongest Man Hall of Fame in 2010.

Now retired, Svend runs the Viking Power Challenge event in Norway, which is part of the Giants Live tour for qualification into the World’s Strongest Man event. Oh he also finds time to continue to train. How about  a 704 lb (320 kg) deadlift with not too much training?  Or a 374 lb (170 kg) close grip bench press? Or 110 lbs (50 kg) x 8 alternate dumbbell curl?  Not enough?  Svend hopes to deadlift 704 lbs (320 kg) x 4, then 748 lbs (340 kg) x 4 . . . on his way to 880 lbs ( 400 kg) x 1 this summer. Viking Power indeed.


Height: 6’2”

Competition Weight: 300 lbs (135kg)

Squat: 880 lbs (400kg)

Bench: 572 lbs (260kg)

Deadlift: 902 lbs (410kg)

Favorite strongman events: Super yoke/ Max deadlift

Posted by:  Z

Write up by: Nickay