19 February 2010

Baddest Motherfuckers Ever #11 -John "Intensity or Insanity" Defendis

When people think old-school training, this is the guy they're thinking about.  John Defendis came up in the 1970s, when training was all about crushing weights for endless sets, running around screaming like and asshole and bitch-slapping anyone dumb enough to get in their fucking way.  Contrary to the speculation of endless droves of weak-willed internet pussies, this was not a mindset created by drugs, and a workout only survived through the consumption of copious amounts of anabolics- this was the way everyone trained, because they didn't suck at life.  Moreover, the few tabs of dbol they were taking in those days were no more gear than anyone who's doubled the dose on a Superdrol knockoff has taken, so before any of you even get started down that path, I'll posit that you don't know what the fuck you're talking about and should perhaps keep your inane comments confined within your head.

Defendis began his epic bodybuilding career as a disciple of one of the meanest motherfuckers ever to enter a gym, Steve Michalik.  If you've never heard of Michalik, think "pedophillic mustache and ripped abs" and conjure up any image you can from 1980s bodybuilding reading material.  Still nothing?  You suck.  Michalik was a Mr. America and Mr. universe winner, and the progenitor of the Intensity or insanity regime that later made Defendis so popular, and the bearer of a mustache so awful that the motherfucker had to bring the pain inside the gym, or risk constant accusations of diddling small boys and abducting little girls in his Big Red Van.
Too many questions, and not enough answers.

In any event, it was in Michalik's gym that he and Defendis put the finishing touches on what has since been regarded as the benchmark for weight room lunacy.  This gym, I might add, boasted a sign at the front emblazoned with the phrase "Up Your Dose!", and the sign-in pen was a ballpoint filler inside of a syringe.  these guys were not fucking around.  Tefore you fuckers begin to swoon and cry "foul play" due to the obvious and blatant use of anabolics, I'll remind you that this was the late 70s- GH didn't exist, and a heavy steroid regimen was probably more akin to a jacked high schooler's supplementation program than a modern bodybuilder's.
That stated, here's a rough outline of what they did, because they had no set program:
  • split the routine into two parts- legs and back the first day and chest, shoulders, and arms on the next day. Calves and abs are worked at every training session. 
  • Train two days in a row and then rest the third day. 
  • Repeat pattern of two on and one off indefinitely.
Sounds simple enough, right?  No biggie, right?  Fucking wrong.  Michalik and Defendis became famous for ultra-heavy giant set training that involved 40, 50, and even 75 set-per-bodypart workouts.  They would rope off their area in the gym, scream at anyone who came near, and wreak fucking havoc therein.  They'd do shit like this:
"Michalik struts across the gym floor with a set of 60 pounders for incline flyes. I know the routine. Three benches, three exercises, all sets to failure. Nonstop ass-kicking supersets. Steve begins with almost 300 pounds on the incline Smith machine. He then proceeds to the second bench to complete a set of incline flyes, and finally, pullovers across the last bench with a 100 pound dumbbell."
and this:
"50 sets of heavy barbell curls? Been there. 30 sets of squats. 500 pound inclines. 100 pound dumbbell curls. 90 pound dumbbell laterals. 60 set back workouts."  
"Squatting 450 for 40 reps to the floor, warming up with 315 on the Incline press for 30 reps, doing 50 sets of barbell curls for biceps and 60 sets of heavy back work!"
and the fucking capper: 
"We never did less than 40 sets for each body part and sometimes as much as 100 sets for a single area." 

Between them, Michalik and Defendis sent more people to the hospital than AIDS and cancer combined.  Defendis himself spent a weekend in the hospital after his first week of training with Michalik, and they felt that it was a measure of a true man to cowboy up and return to Michalik's den of pain for a second go at greatness after a quick trip to the ER with rhabdo.  Shitting blood didn't stop these motherfuckers- they were hardcore to a level of extremity usually reserved for special operators and Crossfitters (sarcasm should be obvious).  The best part about it?  They fucking laughed at the guys in the hospital and went around telling other gym members that the motherfucker they just hospitalized was mentally weak, and might as well take up badminton or croquet.

His bio:
Born: 1958
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 225 lbs. (though he apparently weighs a lean 260 these days)

Titles Won:
• 1977 AAU Mr. New York City
• 1978 AAU Mr. Atlantic USA (Teen)
• 1983 NPC Western America Championships
• 1988 NPC USA Championships

Since retiring, Defendis has trained everyone from pro baseball star Mike Piazza to politicians like Newt Gingrich, pro boxer Andrew "I will punch you dead in the nuts repeatedly" Golata. and clothing designer Calvin Klein.

The fact that Michalik and Defendis lived through these projectile-vomit inducing workouts, much less thrived and grew on them is a testament to the human spirit and the ability of the human physical form to adapt to any and all stress and THRIVE.  After reading about these workouts, I'm fucking embarassed at the way I half-ass it through the gym, because I can do more.  Defendis has shown us the way.
Fucking get some. 
1) "How Steve Michalik Trained in 1972. http://bodybuilding.ericsgym.com/trainingarticles/stevemichalik/index.htm
2)  Intensity or Insanity Articles.  http://www.defendis.com/flash/index.html


  1. Your site is down ...

  2. A while ago I shave my beard and took a pic of what I'd look like with a mustache...I dunno if I beat him in the dodgy mustache stakes, but he definitely beats me in the dodgy short shorts competition. *shudders*

  3. They say that fashion trends follow a circular pattern, so we may yet see those again in our lifetime. Let's hope, however, that the short shorts skip a generation.

  4. Hey Jamie, I was wondering what your take was like on this "DC Training". Maybe write-up thoughts about that for an article.

  5. Under the pic "so many questions" - the pic of him on the left, his legs look oddly thin. Esp for the amount of weight he's holding up top. The front of his thigh is disturbing.

  6. It's a cropped photo. Looks like it got trimmed a bit too much.
    That's what you took from this entry?

  7. I've used Doggcrapp training (or "DC training") in the past with a lot of success.

  8. reply to glen -

    do you do any ab exercises? it seems like a cool program, and some principles (stretching, rest pause). I could definitely use those principles in CnP workouts. Just wondering what Jamie thought of this.

  9. I don't know anything about Defendis, but Michalik's former steroid obsession is public knowledge, as well as his extreme health issues from steroid abuse. (stroke, heart attack, etc)
    I saw him interviewed, he is a shadow of what he use to be.
    Good common sense training, huh?

  10. Who the fuck said anything about common sense training? If you want to be common, have the fuck at it. I, on the other hand, am pretty happy eschewing mediocrity.

  11. It isn't common sense to destroy your health.

  12. Apparently, it isn't common sense to know what the fuck it is you're talking about, either. Does my post bear Michalik's name or Defendis's name in the title. Michalik is insane, and not in a fun way. He was, however, instrumental in developing Defendis's training philosophy.

  13. One moment you are swooning over these guys, and now Michalik is "insane"? nice flip flop, dude.

  14. It was real and yes...
    We set the benchmark for Intensity.
    Only Tom Platz came close.
    john defendis