“That Boy is Strong as an Ox…”

You’ve heard all the one liners before I’m sure…

“He’s one of those farm boys”

“Best way to put it: he’s country strong”

“Big ol’ cornfed offensive lineman”

“That’s what happens when you buck hay your whole life”

“Definitely farmboy strong”

 I know I’ve heard all of these, and many others. My family is from the midwest, Iowa to be exact. My Pap grew up as cross town rivals with Dan Gabel’s highschool. And I’ve heard stories of the Donnie Brooks the different athletic teams would get in. That gritty Iowa farmboy attitude follwed my old man into college where he was more exposed to weightlifting. He was an All Conference linebacker, team Captain, and a bad mother from the stories I’ve heard from friends and an actual chance interaction with Dan Gabel.

I saw pics of my Dad from back in the day. He wasn’t some monster roaming the middle of the field buffed out all over. He was tall, athletic and, like I said, a hard nosed bad ass. He actually helped retire a star running back in college who was having his going away ceremony at half time. The star runner tried to go up the gut on Mike Filer and got his ass lit up. Stretcher, no cermony, nice way to end it all.


My Dad still tells me that weight training wasn’t the same then. Then what made him so strong and such a bad ass? My Pap tells me about all the manual labor stuff he use to do. My favorite stories are about all his time spent in the meat packing plant. No he wasn’t punching sides of beef like Rocky. He was doing things like hucking sides of pig with pitch forks. Does this all really work? Is old school how we should do it in the new school?

Atlas stones, farmers walks, all kinds of stuff we see in our program could be considered old school. But I wanted to know more. So I started researching and found some interesting articles. This one comes from the Baseball Factory. Now I know many of us who read this arent baseball fans, but just humor me.

  Steve Bernhardt: Building the Better Ballplayer
When Mickey Mantle was growing up he worked in the lead mines in the summers. One of his jobs involved smashing large rocks into smaller ones with a sledgehammer. Some credit his immense wrist and forearm strength to this. Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks both worked in the cotton fields as young men building naturally strong hands from their hours of picking cotton. These “farm boy strong” players combined for 1,803 home runs in their storied careers. As the rules continue to eliminate players with chemically enhanced strength, I think the player with some skill and natural strength will become an extremely hot commodity.
         – Steve Bernhardt is the Executive VP of Baseball Operations with Baseball Factory. Bernhardt played for five years in the Colorado Rockies organization. As Executive VP of Baseball Operations at Baseball Factory, he oversees all events and instruction. Bernhardt formerly served as an Associate Scout with the Colorado Rockies. He received his B.S. from the University of Richmond where he was an All-Conference player.

“In the last week, I have spent a lot of time shoveling snow. Here in Baltimore, we received 50” of snow in a five day stretch. As I piled snow higher than my head on the sides of walkways, driveways and cars, I taxed muscles that had not been awakened in some time. Hours of doing this also gave me plenty of time alone with my thoughts. One thought involved the type of shape I would be in if this kind of shoveling was a daily routine for me.

It made me remember a scouting term that I have heard before: “farm boy strong.” This term is used to describe a young player who is naturally thick and strong referencing young men who grew up on a farm and developed their strength by doing difficult manual labor on a daily basis. These guys are hard to find these days. We see many more “soft-bodied” prospects than “farm boy strong” prospects. Society has changed with more jobs done by automated machines than in generations past, but it is also widely chronicled that today’s young players spend more time playing video games and staring at the computer than ever before.

Maybe some of today’s young high school players should pick their summer jobs not based on which is the easiest, but by which will build up some usable strength for them in the future. It paid off for guys like Mantle, Banks and Aaron.”

Alright interesting, but I still wanted more. You’d be surprised what you get when you start typing things like “farm strong” into Google. But it was our little Cowgirl Roo who found this awesome site for me. “FarmStrength.com” is pretty sick. I found it to be along the lines of what I was looking for. http://farmstrength.wordpress.com/articles/

I’ll let this article by one of the founders who go by “Doc” finish out this post. I’d suggest you guys make a trip to the site and check out the “York plate hub pick up video”. Bet he would have killed the “Moneky Claws” WOD we did yesterday.

Getting Strong on the Cheap: By Doc

            We all want to improve our physical abilities.  Unfortunately, our budget can limit our ability to purchase all the nifty stuff we see advertised.  Here’s a real simple and super cheap way to get strong.

 1)      While driving around, keep your eye open for stones unearthed by construction.  When you spot a likely pile, stop and ask one of the workers if you can have some of the stones.  He’ll prolly look at you weird.  You really only need 2 stones.  One that you can barely get into your lap, and one that you can almost press overhead.  The bug may bite you tho’ and then you’ll end up with a pile of 10 or more stones.  This is just fine too.  I never regret having lots of stones until I need to move them to mow…..

 2)      Pick a fine sunny day.  Pull on some weather appropriate work clothes, and work gloves if you want. 

 3)      Run around the yard.  Do some stretching/calisthenics.  Get nice and warmed up.

 4)      Lift the stone you can barely lap as high as you can.  Repeat 5-10 times.  Eventually you want to work up to the point where you are shouldering this stone 10 times each shoulder….then you’ll need a bigger stone.

 5)      Now lift the stone you’ve selected to press and take it from the ground to as high overhead as you can.  Repeat 5-10 times.  Progress to 25-30 total reps, then get a larger stone.

 6)      Now pick a nice tree branch or swing set crossbar and do a couple sets of chinups.

 7)      Finally pick up the stone you were pressing and carry it as far as you can.  Repeat 3 times.

8)      There, time to go inside, lay on the couch and drink milk.  Your significant other may demand you shower before you lay down on the couch…in this case I flop on the bathroom floor for 10 minutes then shower.

 9)      Repeat this workout 2-3 times a week. 

 I figure it’s pretty cheap and it oughta get you strong.”

Boy’s strong as an ox…

Posted by: Z

4 Responses to ““That Boy is Strong as an Ox…””

  1. Scott schactler Says:

    Or… Pick up a bull everyday fromthe time it was born.

  2. The picture of my papa bear is witness to an interesting fact, that Mike Filer is Tom Selleck’s alter ego. Ask yourself, do you ever see Mike Filer and Tom Selleck at the same time, no. Everytime Tom Selleck goes to film a movie have you noticed that Mike Filer has to go on “work trip” or “golfing”. Our whenever Mike Filer heads to the Hawaiian Islands how he is treated like royalty due to the immense publicity he..I mean Tom Selleck brought with Magnum PI.

    This clip from the recent Disney film “Meet the Robinsons” explains how the Filer boys feel about this subject. Just guess the part.

  3. Thats my Pappy

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