12 August 2010

Baddest Motherfuckers Ever #17- Vasily Alexeev

Clearly, when I post about the baddest motherfuckers, I'm not simply out to find the strongest people ever, but rather colorful people about whom you might not know, and who had a rare combination of intellect, aggression, sense of humor, and brute fucking strength that very few people embody.  I've gotten no shortage of comments and emails to the effect that various people of weak constitutions find my verbal shrines to such criminals and lunatics as Benny Podda and Charles Bronson objectionable, which is true.  With that admission, I'll lay it out for you people in simple chapter and verse- if you're not offending anyone, you're living a sad, boring, trite life, you lack the ability or willingness to think for yourself, and you'll die completely forgotten.  No one gives a shit about human robots who sleepwalk through life toeing every line that society puts in front of them, as those people are so pathetic that they don't even garner loathing- they live and die in utter obscurity, ignored by the world in which they refuse to actually live.
Greatest. Metal face.  Ever.

Thus, I present to you Vasily Alexeev, a man who was considered to be, hands down, the greatest super-heavyweight of all time, until that gigantic Iranian weightlifting machine Hossein Rezazadeh stepped onto the scene.  Fuck HR- that man's so boring, I fell asleep twice reading his fucking Wikipedia profile.  Allow me to introduce you to Alexeev, who was the Russian Mas Oyama of weightlifting, a general lunatic, and an innovator in training methodologies the likes of which we'll likely never see again.

As I stated above, Alexeev's considered to be considered the greatest, or one of the few greatest, super heavyweight weightlifters of all time, due primarily to the fact that he set 80 world records and 81 Soviet records in weightlifting during his career.  Alexeev was considered a national hero in the Soviet Union during his career, and was even beloved by the neo-Stalinist Premier Leonid Breznev, who pretty much hated everybody.  "Brezhnev loved Alexeev, considered him a symbol of Russian strength or, as it was said often, "the stongest man on the planet" (Iriston)  Alexeev stood 6'1" and weighed around 350 lbs, and was a bonafide badass on the platform.  His best lifts included:

Snatch: 418 lb (190.0 kg)
Clean and press: 520.3 lb (236.5 kg)
Clean and jerk: 563.2 lb (256.0 kg)
Total: 1419 lb (645.0 kg) (clean and press + snatch + clean and jerk)
Total: 979 lb (445.0 kg) (snatch + clean and jerk) 
One Arm Snatch: 231 lbs. (105 kg) (Left Hand) 

While your mind is reeling from those insanely gigantic numbers, consider this:  he had no set training routine.  At a time when everyone in Russia was forced to shit on a timer, and they were sent to the camps if their deuce was over or under the established Soviet limits for ass loafs, this guy was left way the fuck alone, and he got up to some crazy nonsense in the gym.  
"Vasily includes a great variety of exercises in his training", wrote Ivanov. "Besides exercises in the· snatch, jerk, or press, pull and squats, I have used many other exercises with the barbell and weights. Bends with the barbell on theshoulders; bends with the barbell on the shoulders while lying on the 'horse' bracing one's hips with the legs secured [back extensions - ed.]; jumps with the barbell on your shoulders; press on crossbars with weights; bending and unbending the arms in the elbow joints; squats on one leg; throwing the bar upward and behind; and other exercises. In addition, in the first year of the time span analyzed, these exercises consisted of, on the average, 360 lifts in the preparatory period and 158 lifts during the competition period. In the second year, correspondingly 841 and 506 lifts, and in the third 880 lifts a month."" (Ivanov)  

Thus, his training variation was leaps and bounds beyond that of the Russians or the Bulgarians, both of whom restrict their training to the basics.  

Alexeev didn't stop with simple doing the occasional bench press or jump squat in the gym, either.  He'd drag a shitload of kettlebells and loaded barbells down to a river, toss the shit in the water, and lift in the middle of the river.  He apparently believed that getting what amounted to a violent colonic with near-freezing water in the Volga was a bracing start to a snatch attempt. Due to a combination of factors, which were likely that everyone knew he was batshit crazy, and the fact that Soviet guards likely would have shot anyone who stepped off the platform to attempt Alexeev's wacky routines, he trained alone.  As he was left to like an ultra- old school Clubber Lang, Alexeev massively increased his training load, which according to Ivanov was regularly 40 tons per session.   
"The difference between my methodics and others is great," said Alexeev.  "What is mainly different is that I train more often and I lift more weights than others. I never know when I will train. Sometimes deep in the night, sometimes in the morning.  Sometimes several times a day, sometimes not at all. I never repeat myself. Only I understand what is right for me. I have never had a coach. I know my own possibilities bestly. No coach knows them. Coaches grow old and they have old ideas."" (Ivanov)
I live alone! I train alone!  I'll win the title alone! I can't be beat and I won't be beat!

In other words, Alexeev knew that a cookie-cutter routine was not going to get him to the pinnacle of weightlifting achievements- instead, he said fuck you to everyone, trained around the clock, used crazy poundages, and did shit that's beyond explicable (like doing Olympic lifts in the Volga River) to increase his maxes.  He even trained on his off days, calling them "vital days", and using them to do shit like cutting down trees.  Though he lacked a beard, Alexeev apparently loved to play lumberjack when he wasn't in the gym (Sorin)  In the spirit of never fully resting, Alexeev apparently invented the barbell complex- "Usually the athletes lift barbells and then immediately drop them. This takes several seconds. According to Alexeyev's method, the sportsman finds himself under the weight for a period of two or three minutes. The entire body must sustain this prolonged effort, as the athlete completes several consecutive exercises without letting go of the equipment. " (Ivanov)   

Though he looked like a massive wad of uncooked cookie dough, Alexeev was a bad motherfucker both in and out of the gym.  I can find little more on his diet than he allegedly ate 36 egg omlettes for breakfast, which he must've followed by loading a caulking gun with mayonnaise and injecting it directly into his femoral artery, because he was a fat motherfucker.  We do know that the man liked to drink, and that he thought about as much about the traditional sports discipline of sleeping and refraining from getting hammered as he did about Russian training methodologies- they were a pile of horseshit.  "When they were in the training hall sizing each other up Vasily was always gone only to return after hours.  The other competitors slept in their beds like giant babes while "Uncle Vasily" ran up and down the halls drinking beer from the case held under his arm while thowing bottles and firecrackers in the other sleeping giant's rooms. " (Sorin)  Ex-fucking-actly.  It's not as though a 600 lb snatch is going to cure cancer, and Alexeev knew it- he was out to lift big weights, live big, and have a good fucking time.  That said, he was apparently not above handing out an ass-whipping when one was warranted.  Rudolf Plyukfelder, an East German who briefly coached Alexeev, said that  Alexeev "already served time in jail for ruthless beating of a man. But they pulled him out from jail because he was a "pride of Soviet sport."  (Malkin)  You know you're a weightlifting badass when the cops let you out of jail so you can represent yo' shit.

That's not to say the man was a drooling retard, either.  He might have looked like a half-shaved and flabby gorilla, but Alexeev was an intellectual.  He held a Master of Sport title and a degree in mining engineering, and spend a great deal of time pontificating about lifting.  For instance, he often felt that improving a lift did not depend on improving one's technique, but rather on strengthening one's body to maximize one's strength with their existing technique.  He said the following on that topic:
"What upsets me is that the method of training used by an overwhelming number of weightlifters, in spite of the amazing growth in records, is still at the same point it was in the fifties. For example, you want to improve your technique on the snatch - you practise the snatch; the jerk -- you practice the jerk. I tell them to correct their mistakes differently -- to strengthen separate groups of muscles. A simple example: an athlete is having trouble with the snatch. They advise him to start differently, to change his grip on
the barbell -- wider or narrower. But it turns out that it's enough to build up a group of muscles which 'do the trick' with the maximum effort and he gets better results ..."
"We often see the effect but not the cause of what's lacking. If an athlete doesn't know how to jerk, he's not going to learn this only by jerking. But if he were to do some necessary exercises in order to strengthen a group of muscles (those necessary for the jerk) then he will get results. No one seems to understand that, even though an exercise does not 'lie' [functionally] right alongside the jerk, it influences, it gives you the jerk . . ."(Ivanov)
Additionally, he encouraged people to think for themselves, rather than to blindly follow the recommendations for others.  That's a sentiment that I currently echo, as I'm consistently horrified to find people who are willing to follow a stranger's recommendations about training and diet without thinking about the reasoning behind it.  "Most important," Alexeev stated, "he must teach him to reason and make important decisions independently. Without thought there's no creation. And without creation, progress in our difficult work is impossible." (Ivanov)  The ability to think for himself was one of the most important components of Alexeev's competition preparation, and he credited it with handing him victories over far more physically impressive specimens, like Rigert and Reding. 

"They say that the strongest wins. But the strongest in what way? I remember, at the time of the championships in Lima, that Reding in training lifted record weights. He had acquired a terrific strength and huge muscles, but he lost to me, even though he was physically stronger. Why? Serge and I had different ways of training. Others thought for him. He carried out the suggestions of his coach, Dupont. Roughly speaking, Reding took in 'the science of winning' though his ears. And this showed when he was on his own with the barbell. But, as for me, I thought for myself. Serge also lost because he wanted to beat me. That's all he thought about. He worried constantly and burned himself out before he even got to the platform . . ." (Ivanov)
To Alexeev, and any man worth wearing a plaid shirt and carrying an axe, injuring onesself was merely a part of the learning process.  On injuries, he said:
"It seems to me that some of the talented athletes lack one thing-- they haven't had an injury. That's right!  An injury that will put them out of commission for a year during which time they'll have a chance to weigh everything.  I, too, would not be where I am if I had not injured my back.  I suffered for a year and a half thinking everything over ... After a misfortune, people pull through and become, if possible, great people -- and sportsmen, in particular. Those who are stronger find their way out and to the top ..."(Ivanov)

Although I am generally loathe to take advice from fat people, as their disgusting physique indicates to me a massive hole in their discipline and preparation, there's a great deal that can be taken from Alexeev's methodologies.  Thinking for one's self and training in a manner that suits you, not some internet guru or allegedly renowned strength coach is the best path to success, provided that it's fueled by introspection and research, rather than half-assed idiocy.  You're going to injure yourself at some point, and likely when it's most inconvenient, but that's simply an opportunity to better yourself.  Most of all, being batshit crazy and enjoying yourself is the linchpin to your entire life- no one gives a fuck about the guy whose favorite color is beige, and his favorite flavor is vanilla, and who listens to easy listening music while gently lifting light weights.  Victory goes to the guy who will smash down the fucking walls like they're a modern day Kool-Aid man, and then fight, fuck, and think their way to winning.

Ivanov, Dmitri.  "EFS Classic: The Science of Winning According to Vasili Alexeyev" http://www.elitefts.com/documents/science_of_winning.htm
Sorin, Richard.  "A brief history of sport's most recognized man" http://store.sorinex.com/Articles.asp?ID=253
Sport of Iriston.  "INTERVIEW WITH ASLANBEK YENALDIEV." http://chidlovski.net/liftup/a_aslanbek_yenaldiev.asp 
Malkin, Yevgeny.  "Maestro of the Iron Game." http://chidlovski.net/liftup/a_interview_plukfelder_122302.asp


  1. How long do you think it took him to make 36 omelettes every morning?

    i wonder if he ever worked out drunk? Doing shots between sets is fun when training strongman events.

  2. I believe you've read that incorrectly. That's one 36-egg omelette. Not 36 egg-omelettes.

  3. Great post, this guy is the shit.

  4. Great article dude. It really makes me think that guys like Alexeev, you, Glen MacCharles, unique dudes are the ones that make any kind of difference in the weightlifting world. And the real word for that matter.

    My brother keeps trying to get me to do some shitty 3 day a week workout telling me I can't possibly recover doing workouts every day. Guess what his PRs are? A 200 kg (440 lbs) deadlift. About a 150 kg (330 lb) squat. A max bench of about 90-100 kgs (220 lbs).
    He's been lifting since he was about 18, he's in his 30s now.

    I'm going to laugh at his ass when I'm hitting a higher deadlift, and doing his bench and squat for sets of 5, probably by early next year. After having trained for a year, hahaha.

  5. the red kool aid guy is actually Alexeev - the eyebrows chico they never lie

  6. Why the random picture of misha koklyaev? He should be on the Baddest Motherfuckers list too by the way.

  7. This is the shit that gets me going right here. I had been lifting for a while with little to no real results until I found Chaos & Pain. It pains me to say this but I was lifting like a pussy and it showed. The funny thing is that I kickbox and train jui jitsu like a maniac(no tapout douche)hard at it 6 days a week 3-4 hrs a day with complete disregard for my safety or any nagging injury I might have. The human body can handle just about anything you want to put it through, the harder I trained the better I got. Now when it came to lifting I was actually scared of injuring myself with puny ass weight! I guess all that 5X5 shit had me mindfucked. Reading this blog made me approach the weights like I do a fight, with aggression and a mindset to completely dominate all that lies before me. Keep this shit coming and soon you will have built a Viking army one man at a time.

  8. I remember watching Alexeev on ABC's 'Wide World of Sports' with my dad in the 70s. Quite a character. He boasted that he was the best pool player on the Russian Olympic team and also that he could beat any of them in chess. They interviewed him at his house once with an interpreter. He lived out in the country in a big villa. He had a flagstone patio with grass growing up between the stones and a bunch of rusty plates and barbells lying around. He picked up a huge dumbbell and did some presses while he talked - said he just came out there when he felt like it and did whatever he wanted. He attributed a good bit of his success to his diet of Russian vodka and beefsteak with the pungent peppers he grew on his farm.

  9. P.S. he may have been fat but I bet you could've broken a battering ram on that gut if he balled it up.

  10. Great write up on Alexeev, although I thought your opening paragraph was ridiculous.

  11. 36 Eggs...
    Wow, he must have owned one badass fucking skillet.

    Why am I thinking of Zangief from Street Fighter?

  12. I saw a video of him shooting the breeze at his dacha in later years. He said something like: "I'm not happy if my body isn't in pain - that's shows what an unusual person I am." I'm assuming he means the serious discomfort associated with what others would call 'over-training'. Vasily knows better: 80 world records!
    He also came out with some classic Soviet-era paranoia (or was it?) about the coach poisoning just before he lifted at the Moscow Olympics - 'they' didn't want him to win, apparently.
    A true legend/lunatic.

  13. Ohhh man, this is what "the baddest motherfuckers ever" section should be all about!!! this post totally rocks man. Some of your last entries on this topic where lacking of what makes a real bad motherfucker (like the shit of defendis you posted a while ago). Who gives a shit if this guy is a fat bastard? Bad Motherfuckers can be of all sizes and shapes.

  14. Off topic but I am about done with BB.com. The sheer fucktardery there and number of "experts" with 14" arms and 275 bench presses who actually think they know shit about training or getting big... is just rediculous.

    Joe Wieder and his muscle rags have all but destroyed bodybuilding and any resonable knowledge of training or nutrition that was known 30+ years ago. Most natural bodybuilders today get hung up in this high rep, single factor supercompensation bullshit (and obsessed with snake oil suppliments... eat some eggs you fucktards) that only works for guys on 3 grams of test a week, hgh and insulin... then wonder why they aren't as big, and sure as fuck nowhere near as strong as some of the guys from the 50's and 60's. Yes high reps can have their place in bodybuilding but the core routine of EVERYONE is got big before they hit the juice was based around heavy power training and full body routines. The big guys who do high reps aren't useing light weights (most of them use like 405 for those sets of 12 on the bench... Ronnie Coleman did sets of 12 with 200 lbs dumbbells not 35's) they built a foundation of strength first, and use higher reps becuase they can get away with it with their strength, all the drugs, and becuase quite frankly if to save wear and tear on their joints given the volume they train. For the novice... the stronger you get the faster you will grow... proven over and over again in the real world... and anyone with a 16" arm is a fucking novice.

    Ok rant over... thanks for letting me vent. Damn I feel better now and my steak is just finishing cooking. :D

  15. Thanks, Captain Obvious. Way to bogart what was, up until you posted, a great comments thread.

    Jamie's been saying what you managed to mush up into your cutesy, pseudo-toughguy rant from the beginning. Ever read the old posts?

    Thanks for jumping aboard. Better late than never.

    P.S. Nobody cares about your steak.

  16. I like high reps. You get out of them what you put in obviously. I like low reps too. I like all kinds of reps. Last Sunday I did a set of dumbbell shrugs for 170 reps. Two days later I did a set of curls for 100 reps and then 51 reps the next day. It's fun sometimes to see how far I can push myself. Sometimes it gets to the point that the bar will feel almost like you're squeezing a sponge because of all the sweat oozing through your fingers.
    I hate supplements though. I think if any supplement actually gave you an advantage of any kind they would make it illegal just like steroids are illegal.

  17. Considering how most of the comment thread consisted of "o wat a grate baddest motherfucker ever" I don't really think it was all that incredible.

  18. Go steal some clothes from the library Dray. Or lift a rock, ya shmuck.

  19. Where the hell's Rant? Did he kill himself? Shit, we've got to dig him up! Bounce him around on our swords for a while. Drag him through the streets behind our horses and then set him up on a throne on the Capitoline, like the early popes of Rome. Question and answer him and, unable to answer, sentence him to death all again. Skull fuck him and leave him on the shores of the Styx for the water rats to eat.

  20. In re the Misha Koklyaev pic, I googled Alexeev and that popped up. If it's a big deal, I'll change it, but fat people pretty much all look the same.

    In re the poisoning, in that linked Yenaldiev article, he claims he was poisoned at least 3 times by his coaches, haha.

  21. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFesjbNd-D4

  22. JasonDB I would be quite impressed if I saw a dude with 14" arms bench 275. That would be one tough skinny motherfucker.

  23. Holy fucking shit. I retract my statement about Kolklyaev. That was just fucking ridiculous. He put a weight overhead I only just got off the ground within the last two years.

  24. I love how he talks shit about Reding when he cheated his way to his Olympic win over the fucker. Fucking leg drive...

  25. Go fuck yourselves!!Alexeev is a true crazy motherfucker and noone of you can't even came close to that results that he's got!!