26 February 2013

If Wishes Were Horses, We'd All Ride Instead Of Walk... And I'd Be Able To Make 165

192, the day after the meet... and a little vascular.

THIS JUST IN: there's no way in hell I can make 165.  

Thus, to all of the people who told me I was insane and that it couldn't be done, you were right.  After hot baths, wearing a sauna suit in a sauna, and about 18 hours without food or water, I managed to get to 170, and could go no further.  I'd thought that it would be just as simple to drop 15 lbs to get to 165 as it was to get to 181, but I was apparently wholly incorrect.  As I was bigger and leaner than I was a month ago, there was just not enough of me holding water to get 15 lbs off me.  Thus, I ended up guest lifting at 181 and have completely banished any thought of a future cut to 165 from my mind.  Again, naysayers, you were right and I was wrong; you are smart and I am dumb; you are good-looking and I am unattractive...
Unless you think crazy vascularity is attractive.

All of the cutting nonsense will go into the new competition prep book, I'm writing, which should be out next month sometime.  There was nothing new or Earth shattering in it, other than the fact that just because your brain says you can do something and you think you're essentially the fucking Terminator does not necessarily mean you can pull off any wacky weight cutting trick you want.

The meet itself went pretty well.  I went 606-622 (called for depth)-644 (fail) on the squat, 227-355-369.8 on bench, and 617-644-655 (fail)on the deadlift.  My second squat was so easy I just decided to pile on the weight and try to tie or break my total record at 181, and got a little overly ambitious.  While I was recovered from walking pneumonia, I still had back tightness issues plaguing me throughout the last month that prevented me from doing a lot of heavy training.  Additionally, Canadian 181 lb badass Willie Albert clued me in to the fact that the record at 181 in the squat is actually 673 (a Russian broke the squat record without knee sleeves, even, in 2011 or 2012), so I decided not to try 650.  Thus, I was pretty aggressive in calling attempts because the whole thing was pretty much a wash anyway- my total reflected that as a result.

Ridiculously easy 622.

Bench actually went well due to my addition of volume training one day a week for chest, it seems.  Rather than simply pounding singles, as I am wont to do, I took one day a week and did singles and doubles on close grip, and on another day did a traditional bodybuilder-type program.  Thus, my benching looked like this:

Bench Day 1
Close Grip Bench Press
1 x 1 x 135, 225, 315
10 x 2 x 325-345
5 x 1 x 345-365

10 x 10-20

Bench Day 2
Bench Press
5 x max 135
5 x max 225

Dumbbell Bench Press
5 x 10-20

Cable Crossover
5 x 10-20

Having more volume in my program seems to have helped with stabilizing my bench, which has a tendency to vary wildly from week to week and month to month.  With this, I was able to steadily improve my lifting and actually ended up far stronger than my numbers would indicate from the meet- I erred on the side of caution for my third after missing my second and third on the squat.

Getting back to the meet, the most impressive lifter there was Vashon Perryman, apparent love child of Bryant Gumbel and Wayne Brady.  This dude is nice as hell and so low on street cred that standing next to him I look like Eazy E, but he is one phenomenally strong motherfucker.  Vashon broke both the squat and the deadlift record at this meet, which is a feat one would generally ascribe to Klokov and his ilk, and pretty soundly fucks my "specialize in one or the other theory" directly in its ass.  In any event, Perryman hit 606 for his fourth on the squat and a ridiculous 716 on the deadlift to break both records.  Sadly, his bench is even worse than mine and he thus left the total record remarkably unscathed, but the dude is definitely one to watch.  Get on Facebook or something and show the dude some love- none of us are making any money at this, so you might as well make him grin more than usual over his afternoon tea and Tom Jones break by telling him what a bad motherfucker he is. That, or buy him a celebratory cardigan or something.

Krista makes an excellent beaker face.

For those of you who are curious, the gf did damn well in spite of the fact I forgot to tell her half of the rules, and hit a 242 squat, 126 bench, and was credited with her 275 opener on deadlift and not her 303 pull because I forgot to tell her she couldn't drop it from her waist.  She was a little overly hopped up on Hellfire at the time and appeared to have been having a panic attack as a result, but it was a badass performance for a 130 lb chick who's only been powerlifting since August.  She can only train with me when she's in town, and thus doesn't get the benefit of basking under the soft glow of my knowledge... though she never listens to me anyway, so anything I attempt to impart is ignored until someone else tells her.  Apparently, I need to beat her more.

L-R: Me, Jay, Jason, IFBB pro and sole non-fisherman from Nova Scotia Greg Doucette, and Kade Weber.

Post meet, I went out with Willie (who's a fucking maniac and generally awesome guy), Jay Nera (who I'm going to try to get on a podcast for at least one episode to discuss libertarianism, training, his love of Reese's cups, and Crossfit), Kade Weber (who came within a hair's breadth of breaking Larry Pacifico's total record at 242), Jason Manenkoff, Krista (the gf), Sin Leung, Paul Ngyuen, Noriko Kariya (who has an awesome, full-back geisha tat) and a couple of other people and tore it up at some shitty dive bar in downtown Tampa.  The post meet and day after hangouts with the lifters were probably more fun than the meet, and it was a good meet. In any event, good times were had, butts were hurt about a variety of things, and vascular abdominals were prominently displayed (including a set on Ann Vanderbush, who is now fucking shredded).

For now, it's back to training whatever the fuck I want and eating my face off.  No idea when I'll do another meet, but the people shown above are definitely descending upon Clash for Cash to wreck fucking shop if it ends up happening.

21 February 2013

Raw Unity 6 Is Upon Us

The time has come for more records to fall.  I will be making weight this time in the 165 lb weight class to wreck havoc amongst the records there.  Currently, I'm about 180 and ripped to bits, and plan on weighing somewhere between 190 and 205 when I step on the platform at RUM.  To give you an idea of exactly how lean I am, I took a picture the other day with no pump, right out of the shower.  The veins on my abs have veins on their abs right now.

For those of you who plan on watching, expect to see me open with 605 on the squat, 325 on the bench, and 615 on the deadlift.  For those among you who are math challenged, that will put me at 1545 just with my openers, and a world record squat to kick things off.  I am no longer ill and crippled, so the meet should go far better than the 1615 I posted last month.  Right now, the squat record stands at 600 and the total record at 1636, which means I'll have to do marginally better than I did last month to break two records.  This should be a meet worth watching, as Jason Manenkoff plans on benching over 400 at 165, and I believe Paul Nguyen pulled 685 a couple of weeks ago in preparation for this meet.

The live stream is going to be posted here, if you want to catch the action, and lifting starts for the chicks and lightweights at 10:30AM EST on Sunday.  I'd venture to guess that they'll have the 165ers in the second flight, but I'll be posting vids of my lifts and updates as much as possible.  Before you guys start asking, the song I'll be lifting to is Annotations of an Autopsy- Stagebreaker, from their Dark Days EP.  It's pretty fucking brutal and thoroughly appropriate.

For any of you guys planning on coming down, feel free to come and bullshit with me any time I'm not getting ready to lift- I'll be manning the Nutrition Warehouse table with Dale and Krista (my girlfriend, who will be competing at 123 lbs) and eating my face off.  We'll be selling a bunch of Spud Inc gear and bullshitting with people, so don't be shy about popping by.  If you're closer to Columbus than Tampa, stop by our booth at the Arnold- I'll be there as well.

... and no, I've not "sold out".  I'm still unsponsored.  I manage a Nutrition Warehouse for Spud and like cross-promoting whenever possible.  Luckily, I work with such a band of misfits that I'm considered "the social one", so I get to do the fun shit.

19 February 2013

Self Assessments- Retarded In The Workplace, But CROOSH In The Gym

Those boots lack straps- luckily, she's got one in her hand.

For anyone who's been a longtime fan of this blog, you're fully aware of my belief in bootstrapping for any and all lifters, no matter how neophytic.  The reason for this is because I am unaware of the existence of any human being who has amounted to anything worth talking about from just having followed orders, be it in the gym, 
on the battlefield, or in the workplace.  Free thought and the desire to individualize one's actions and persona should be held as dearly to you as your girlfriend hold her pocket rocket or rabbit- you should be screaming and foaming at the mouth while raining down blows on anyone who would have the audacity to strip them from you.

This is what half of Reddit and all of Bodybuilding.com looks like.

It occurs to me, however, that many people suffer from analysis paralysis and that they are more or less reduced to a 2003 Christopher Reeve when they enter the gym, as they've had programming crammed down their throats like they're an 18 year old coke head in an interracial porn every time they have watched television or read a magazine about lifting- commercials and ads constantly exhort you to avoid "wasting your time" in the gym and to adopt whatever program is in vogue to do so.  Here's a newsflash- the only way you're wasting your time in the gym is if you're not exerting yourself.  Any workout at all done with the requisite effort is far superior to what most assholes do- print out a program and then phone in all of their workouts, as they've not actually considered the whys and wherefores of the program.  

Before you call bullshit and claim you know people who try hard and achieve no results, I will tell you unequivocally that

  1. that's not possible, and 
  2. even a shitty workout regime done enthusiastically over time will yield heaps more benefits than a "great" program, simply because the lifter in the shitty program will, if they stick with it, eventually develop the ability to program for themselves. At some point, they'll have tried everything under the sun, they'll certainly know what won't work, and they'll likely have a lot of insight into what does work.  Additionally, they'll know what their repetition/set sweet spot is (I'll cover this later), which is invaluable knowledge.  Thus, their time has not been wasted- it's been wholly consumed with research, rather than development.

Frankly, I don't give a shit what metaphor helps you- whether it's Jesus and the "teach a man to fish" story or Baron Munchhausen pulling himself out of a swamp by his own hair, you should be figuring shit out for yourself in the gym.  Again, however, the ugly problems rears its head like the singer Seal crawling out of an open sewer that most people aren't sure how to go about self-assessment, much less self-determination.  While the latter is going to have to wait for a week when I have nothing to do but write, self-assessment should be pretty easy for any of you with an ounce of introspective ability.  As such, I will teach you how to assess your own form and modify it by using myself as an example.

The Squat

My squat, clearly, is hardly a weak point, though that is no reason not to tweak it.  Over the last couple of years, that lift was increased pretty dramatically for me, due in part to new training methods and in part to modifying my form.  My form went through two different assessments in four years as I strove to make gains and to work through pain issues.  The first time, I noticed some pain in my right knee occasionally when squatting.  That being a rather major sign that something is amiss, I started playing with the width of my feet and the angle of my feet to try to alleviate that pain.  I did not, repeat DID NOT, consult with any internet message board for tips- comments about back rounding and "butt wink" are NEVER useful.  I did, however, check through Pubmed and a couple of powerlifting books to see if I could find any clues there.  Both resources were useless, but I quickly found that spreading my stance wider and pointing my toes forward alleviated the pain and allowed me to sit back far further than I'd ever done before.  I knew from doing lockouts that I had far more power when I dropped the bar lower on my back and spread out my feet, so I started using the exact form I used on lockouts for my full squat.  That took some getting used to, as my hips continually sent me messages that they were going to beat my ass like my name was Rihanna for making them stretch so hard, but the change in stance paid off.

My progression went something like this:

  1. Knees hurt
  2. Angle feet out more- knees hurt more
  3. Angle feet in more- knees hurt less
  4. Check sources to confirm this makes sense (as it runs contrary to everything I'd read in training manuals and magazines about foot angle on squat)
  5. Note that I am strongest on lockouts with a very wide stance and lower bar placement.
  6. Widen stance.  Lift more difficult because of bar position (too high), which shifted my weight forward.  I didn't notice the weight shift from videoing my lift, I noticed it because the lift was harder and I felt my weight shift on my toes... you know, because I was paying attention.
  7. Lower bar.  Retry.
  8. Lower bar more.  Retry.
  9. Find sweet spot on my back where the bar won't slip off.
  10. Pound the shit out of my new form and bask in the glow of continual gains on my squat.
Later, I started suffering from debilitating bicep knotting and pain, which kept me from squatting because every time I did, I found that my arms hurt for days afterwards.  I ended up spending hundreds of dollars on massages and spent innumerable hours using a Theracane to grind out knots in my biceps and brachialis like I was a housewife in the middle ages trying to make gruel, and I got the knots out... but my form brought them back.  Knowing that the loading on my arms had to be wrong, I started moving my hands around on the bar, eventually settling on an ultra-wide thumbless grip.  This took weeks to figure out, but the process resulted in me debunking yet another myth about "proper form", as I was under the impression that a thumbless grip would reduce the bones in my wrist to pain-filled fairy dust.  Had I asked the online community, that is likely what they would have told me as well- as I've mentioned before, large groups of like-minded people despise individuality.  In interdependent communities like online message boards, people will turn against you if you're perceived as different. "People who departed from the norm could be dangerous to the whole community- whether they were rich or very poor.  Either way, there was a tendency to seek the center and to resent people who were misfits"(Brafman 124).  As such, seeking advice from those communities will yield nothing but the same tired bullshit you see time and time again on those sites- finding useful, unique advice on most message boards about as uncommon as a Fulbright scholar in a Special Education class.  There's some shit you're going to have to figure out for yourself, no matter how aggravating and interminable the process seems.  It's not always going to be a laborious process, however.  To wit, here's my recent discovery about deadlifting.

The Deadlift
Though I'm hardly as good a deadlifter as I am a squatter (Ed Coan's records appear safe, for the time being), I'm hardly worthless at it.  I would credit high volume back work and a healthy serving of hate with my 670 pull at 181, as my form ranges from hideous to apoplexy-inducing in good pullers.  I rarely pull in the gym due to the fact that it reduces my ability to squat as heavily and as often as I'd like, so I've found a number of exercises that keep my deadlift reasonably good without putting undue strain on my upper and midback.  The problem I developed, however, is that the supplementary exercise I do are done with my head down- most notably, the Pendlay row.  As such, I have trained myself to pull from the floor with my head down, which makes my round-backed, stiff-legged pull even more horrifying to behold.  I hadn't known this, however, until I decided to tinker with it.

Since I had walking pneumonia, I've had worse than normal tightness in my upper back, caused by hours of blood-filled spittle coughing and vomiting.  Thus, squatting and pulling have been extremely painful, and always result in upper back cramping that only be described as crippling.    Pulling hasn't always resulted in the upper back cramping I normally get, even without the pneumonia, so I decided to figure out what the fuck was up with my back.  I started pulling in front of a mirror with 135, and my back cramped up, as it is want to do.  I then recaqlled that Benni Magnusson dips his hips right before he pulls.  As we have a similar style, I decided to try that, only to have my kneecap threaten me with violent explosive departure.  From that, I could ascertain something was amiss.  I then looked up, into the mirror, as I dropped my hips to pull, and the bar came up as if it was being levitated by mystical bisexual nymphs from the planet Vivid.  A chorus of angels sang a breakdown.  I might have cum a little.  And thus, my deadlift was fixed.  

 It really is that easy- you simply have to identify where and when you're failing, then examine what's happening when you fail and tinker with the movement until it flows.  Up next, I'll detail some common flaws with the squat and deadlift and the insanely easy fixes for them, and probably issue yet another harangue about thinking for yourself and the fact that you should not take advice from anonymous idiots.  That will likely be next week, as I have some records to break in the meantime.

RUM is streaming online here, in case you guys want to watch me terrorize the 165 lb weightclass on Sunday.

Brafman, Ori and Rom Brafman.  Sway: The Irresistable Pull of Irrational Behavior.  Doubletree: New York, 2008.

12 February 2013

Issuance of Insanity Volume 2 Now On Sale!

Issuance of Insanity Volume 2 contains heavily edited and in some cases completely rewritten versions of every training article posted since October 2010, in addition to the Baddest Motherfuckers series and the So and So Got So Fucking Jacked series.  Highlights include:
  • completely rewritten entries on a couple of the BMEs, most notably Benny Podda.
  • FOUR NEW BADDEST MOTHERFUCKERS- Dana Linn Bailey, Jeff King, Zabo Koszewski, and Ed Corney.
  • full edits so you guys don't have to read a bunch of obnoxious typos
  • the entire So and So Got So Fucking Jacked series, including a rewritten version of the original.
  • full citations on everything, in case you want to look up sources for more information.
DLB benches more than half of you and knows the words to Blood for Blood's best song, "Maldito."  
She bad.

In case you're curious what's come out in the last two years, IOI2 includes:
  • the entire Indian lifters series
  • the entire Pimpin Ain't Easy series
  • competition prep and writeups for RUM 5, the USPA Nationals, my record-breaking lifts at Clash for Cash, and my recent failed attempt to get to 165 in which I nearly broke two world records
  • the final installment in the Zercher series, which outlines stone lifting in India, China, Germany, Tahiti, Finland, and Switzerland
  • the final installment of the Run and You'll Die Tired series
  • and one of my favorite posts- "Efficiency and Elite Strength are Asymmetric Goals."
  • 278 pages of awesome

Grab it in the E-Store!
my banner

For those of you who preordered stuff, I'll ship it out Thursday.   It should arrive from the printer tomorrow- they ran out of grey shirts and had to reorder.

07 February 2013

I Like To Break A Mental Sweat, Too: More Documentaries Worth Watching

I've blogged at some great length in the past about my opinion of vegetarian and veganism, here, herehere, here,and here.  In case you missed the series on the Skinny Bitches, I can give you the Cliff's Notes- I think veganism and vegetarianism is an unhealthy practice and a primary indicator of a mental health disorder.  Much like some people like watching reality television to observe the activities of people that would have been liquidated in any other period of human history, I enjoy watching the shenanigans and tomfoolery of vegetarians and vegans, if for no other reason than their illogic amuses me.  Vegucated, however, was a bit more logical than anything I've witnessed before, as the intellectual basis for the diet isn't based on it's alleged healthiness, but rather on the fact that factory farming is pretty fucking awful.

Shit's not cool.

Like any person who knows anything about factory farming, I'm inclined to agree that something should be done to reduce the abuse of the animals we eat.  A couple of years ago, I read a fascinating novel called Animals, by Don LePan.  It was, without question, the most depressing book I've read since reading Johnny Got His Gun in high school, but it definitely raised some interesting questions about the practice of factory farming and what I'd do in the event of a reduction or elimination of meat animals.  Animals, in case you're curious, is set in a near future in which a disease killed all of the non-human animals we could farm for meat.  Humans then started breeding and eating low-functioning humans- basically, they started eating the retards.  The focus of the book was about a kid who appeared to be retarded, and was treated as a pet by a family who bought him for their child.  He was, in essence, their dog.  Late in the novel, it's discovered that he isn't actually retarded, but it's too late to save him from the butcher.  To say that the novel was sad would be like saying that getting a blowjob is nice- it was downright .44 Magnum-style depressing. Nevertheless, it's worth a read.

She really wants to eat that goat.

Back to Vegucated, the movie centers around a fairly hot broad who convinces six people (the three they really profile are a chubby Mexican, a woman so ugly a paper bag over her head probably wouldn't help, and an effeminate guy), who eat the typical, shitty American diet that they'll lose weight and feel better if they adopt her vegetarian diet.  As the film progresses, she fills them in on the evils of factory farming and basically guilts them into sticking to the diet.  A couple of the people in the film take to the low-testosterone/low protein diet like models to a bowl of coke, while others, like the chubby Mexican, have a hell of a time shrugging off the shackles of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution that have made humans into meat-eating creatures.  Perhaps the most amusing bit of the film is an interview of a vegan "bodybuilder" who appears to have done a few pushups in his quest to get jacked, but little else.  To wit:

No animals were killed, and apparently no weights were lifted, in the building of this body.

The film is nothing ground breaking, but it's interesting enough to keep your attention for a couple of hours, and will inspire at least the occasional splurge on some free range meat because you'll feel fucking horrible about the manner in which factory farmed animals are treated.

Kai Greene: A Day In The Life
For those of you who have been living under a rock and are blind to the wild and wooly world of professional bodybuilding, Kai Greene is the 2012 runner-up to Phil Heath in the Mr. Olympia. Greene's a bit of an enigma, and prior to the series I knew little about him other than a vague recollection that he used to compete for Team Universe (as a natural bodybuilder), that he put on 60 lbs of muscle in one year, and that he is apparently a great poser.  In retrospect, I suppose that's a considerable amount to know about a guy who competes in a sport about which I could give two shits, but I had a subscription to Ironman in college and used to read that shit religiously- at the same time Greene competed for Team Universe.  At that point I think Greene was around 190 lbs, so I thought it was cool that he had a physique I could possibly attain.  He was never featured in the magazine, however, so I never really knew how he lived or how he trained.  that sucks, because the dude is fascinating.
Greene at 200 lbs.

Mike Pulcinella, internet phenomenon and meme Steve Pulcinella's cousin, filmed a three part documentary on Greene that's on Youtube, and in it you learn exactly how introspective, intellectual, and respectable Greene is.  Greene trains fanatically, twice a day, and shows everything from his food prep to the interminable boredom of himself trudging away slowly on a stair climber.  Throughout the series, he fills you in on his rathr philosophical take on the sport of bodybuilding, and you come to really why he's as successful as he is- he fucking lives and breathes the sport.  Additionally, you have to respect the guy for being phenomenally strong in spite of the fact that he really doesn't train for strength- he inclines 495 for 3, within two weeks of a show.

280 lbs and hanging out with hotter-than-hot Dana Lynn Bailey.

From the fact that he always trains in a hoodie with the hood up (a practice I've since adopted and think is fucking awesome), to the fact that he stresses the fact that victory in competition comes from the prep more than the competition itself, to the fact that he keeps his shitty apartment in the ghetto to remind him of his roots, Kai Greene's the fucking man.  If his take on the sport of bodybuilding and on training in general isn't motivational or fascinating to you, you should probably just quit going to the gym and take up knitting

Girl Power: Going For Gold
Girl Power is a BBC documentary detailing the preparation and training for a couple of chicks who are trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.  If you're anything like me, you'll be jealous as shit of Zoe Smith, Hannah Powell and Helen Jewell, as they get to train full time with the sponsorship of their nations.  As such, they're in the gym constantly, and it's interesting to see how the training for the same competition differs from gym to gym.  All three have similar issues with their diet, which is part and parcel of being a chick, I suppose.  Though not nearly as philosophical as the Kai Greene series, this documentary is worth checking out just to see the mindlessness of their training and dieting (which they don't appear to understand at all but just robotically do), the drive that these chicks have to push through injuries, the fact that they have to balance their media commitments with training (which is something I doubt any of us would have ever considered to be an issue), and the fact that these chicks have the weight and aspirations of an entire nation on their shoulders as they try to qualify for an Olympic event at which the dentally-challenged Brits have perenially sucked.

This broad is unfortunately not in the film.

Strong! is a hilarious insight into the cellulite-ridden mind of one of our famously obese female Olympic lifters, Cheryl Haworth.  Haworth is renown for eating a sheet cake every single day to maintain a horrifying physique and compete in an non-competitive weight class comprised of broads who will have diabetes before they're 40.  Haworth grabbed a bronze in the 2004 Olympics and attempted to qualify for the Olympics again in 2008, which is the subject of this documentary.  Her training is somewhat interesting, but the real reason to watch this thing is to see a fat broad whine about the trials and tribulations of her life and the horror of having to walk around a bit in her part-time job at Home Depot.  If you want to laugh at a fat chick who thinks she's an athlete, check this out.

For the chick who wrongly accused me of being a tit man.  Behold the power of the whooty.

This concludes my review of documentaries I've watched recently... all of which were in a fever-induced delirium in December but remained memorable in spite of the fact that I generally couldn't remember my name.  As such, they're absolutely worth checking out if you've got the time.  If you hadn't noticed, the titles are all hyperlinks to the vids.

01 February 2013

Baddest Motherfuckers Ever #29: Bert "I Can Do A One Handed Handstand, Motherfucker" Asserati

Once upon a time, there lived an impressively muscular but homely woman who was known throughout the lands for her physical prowess.  After spending years toiling on her parents' farm, lifting hay bales over her head and throwing them at hecklers who mocked her for her frightful visage (from a distance, of course), she happened upon Beorn, the shape-shifting bear man from JR Tolkien's horribly written fairy tale about hirsute fat kids with giant feet.  Surprised that he actually existed, she struck up a conversation with him while gently masturbating one of his many pet horses, as she was a horny broad and no one was brave or blind enough to bang her out.  Finding him to be the only creature in the land who would slip her the dick, she ravaged him sexually for months until she was finally full with child, if you can really call a baby that's a quarter ursine and 100% ugly a child.  That child's name was Bert Assirati, and he owns your fucking face.

Billed at 5'7", but actually 5'6"- the NFL didn't invent the idea of inflated stats... wrestling did.

Though I frankly prefer my story and explains far more about Bartolomeo "Bert" Assirati than any other backstory about him you might find, Assirati was actually born to a fitness-obsessed couple in the land of inedible food, bad teeth, and worse weather (I, of course, am referring to England) in 1908.  Growing up in a household filled with lifters prepared Bert for a life of unremitting badassery, and he learned weightlifting at an early age by practicing lifts with his mom's flat iron and listening to his brother Joe, one of Britain's foremost bodybuilding experts at the time, pontificate about the merit of various movements.  Assirati started lifting in earnest at age 12, and at age 14 was seen lifting the back end of his father's taxi on more than one occasion (Smith).  

Assirati was one jacked 16 year old.

Discontented with just making the men of his neighborhood feel like eunuchs in the presence of a remarkably old-looking teenager, Assirati ventured forth into the world to embarrass the fuck out of proud men in front of large crowds.  To that end, Bert and his father traveled to London on his 16th birthday to see Maxalding enthusiast Alan Mead perform a posing routine that would make Kai Green look like a uncoordinated hillbilly spastically dancing to Bluegrass onstage.  The other performer at the event was a world champion strand puller who broke the world's record for opening a chest expander in front of a wholly unimpressed Bert Assirati.  The champion, not realizing he had a quarter bear man in the crowd with a lingeage stretching all the way back to The Hobbit, threw the expander down at the end of his record breaking performance and challenged the crowd to take a crack at it.  Unfazed, Assirati popped off his shirt, jumped onstage, and proceeded to bust out 15 reps with what had just been a world record single.  I presume he then handed the former world record holder a .44 Magnum to blow his fucking brains out and went home, where in five days he received a 225 lb weight set from a thoroughly impressed Alan Mead, who assured Assirati he'd be one of the strongest men in the world if he stuck with it.

Alan Mead was a man who knew what the fuck he was talking about when it came to lifting.

Over the next 6 years, Assirati gained about 40 lbs of muscle and went to work in the circus as a handbalancer and gymnast.  It was here that he learned how to do the things with which he later blew peoples' minds- back flips, which people hilariously used to refer to as "flip-flaps", one hand handstands, and a variety of tumbling moves.  He kept lifting, however, and moved into wrestling at age 20 at the urging of the wacky circus folk with whom he hung out.  It was then that Assirati really began to pack on mass, so much so that legendary lifter and wrestler George Hackenschmidt pulled him aside and told him to quit wrestling and focus on lifting so he could claim the title of World's Strongest Man.  Assirati, however, gave exactly zero fucks about that and proceeded to become one of the most hated, most violent, and strongest wrestlers ever to hit the mat, content with blowing random lifters' minds in the gym rather than proving himself in competitions.

At his peak weight of 266 lbs, Assirati was not to be fucked with in the gym.  Though his lifts are all unofficial, they were all witnessed by multiple people on multiple occasions.  Most of the accounts come from noted strength writer Charles Smith, however, with whom Assirati staying in pretty constant contact.  The 30 year old Assirati posted the following ridiculous numbers in the gym, causing many a sallow complected, parents' basement living, message board warrior non-lifter to call bullshit on his lifts.  Nevertheless, the lifts were good enough for David Willoughby, and should thus be good enough for you.  Bear in mind these were done by a 5'6", 266 lb 30 year old beast of a man- Assirati could do:
(Per Charles Smith)
  • A one arm handstand, at any time.
  • Three consecutive one arm chins
  • Execute and hold an iron cross
  • Right hand military press – 160 lbs.
  • Left hand military press – 145.
  • Lateral raise lying – 160 (two 80-lb. dumbells).
  • Two arm pullover with straight arms – 200 lbs. (This was a world record for some time)
  • Two arm pullover with straight arms – 140 lbs. x 17 reps.
  • Two arm curl – 180 lbs.
  • Two arm curl, arms tied to sides – 160 lbs.
  • Two hands continental jerk – 380 lbs.
  • Two hands clean and jerk – 360 lbs., though in Tribute, Smith stated Assirati allegedly (and unofficially) broke the world record of El Said Noseir, the Egyptian heavyweight, who had hit 363 lbs. in competition.
  • Strict military press – 285 lbs.
  • Squat – 550 lbs. x 10 reps.
  • Press on back, no bridge, – 400 lbs.
  • Deadlift – 800 lbs., and he claimed that he could pull 700 lbs. at any time or day.

If that doesn't blow your fucking mind, nothing will.

(Per the Bert Assirati website)
  • Squat – 800 lbs. x 1
  • One Legged Barbell Squat – 200 lbs. x 1
  • Squat – 235 lbs. for a half hour straight using a barbell previously owned and used by Eugen Sandow
  • Back flip while holding a 56lb block weight in each hand
  • Carry a piano a long distance on his back
  • Carry a telegraph pole a long distance on his back.
Assirati was not just a hard motherfucker in the gym, either- he was so feared in the wrestling ring that it was difficult to find him opponents in the US, and most of his matches ended in win or loss by injury- either he'd break his opponents' bones or they'd dislocate something on him.  Known as a "ripper" and a "pain freak" (which apparently means he was both a sadist and a masochist in the ring), Assirati was pretty much despised by his opponents  who often ended up in the hospital (Online World).  Amusingly, Assirati isn't remembered so much for his feats of strength as his is for his "penchant for hurting opponents and inflicting unnecessary pain".  According to one wrestling site, 
"Ray Hulm was big fan of Assirati, 'Just the sheer presence of the man.' Ray trained with those who knew and worked with Bert and they told him of a man capable of inflicting pain at will.  David Schmida told us that in Rene Lasartesse's biography Assirati was described as really stiff and brutal; when his opponent didn't hit him hard enough he would get angry and provoke him to not fall asleep and start fighting. If his opponents hesitated he would start punishing them" (No Angel).

If that's not the very definition of a bad motherfucker, I don't know what is.  Assirati can't be entirely blamed for his wrestling style, however, as he was a product of one of the hardest styles of wrestling ever developed- the Lancaster style of wrestling, which became catch wrestling in the gym where Assirati trained- the Snake Pit in Wigan, UK.  The style originated with coal miners, who apparently really enjoyed blinding and maiming one another in their free time.  The gym in which Assirati trained produced basically every awesome submission fighters the world has ever seen, including Antonio Inoki, the lantern-jawed Japanese dude who fought Mohammed Ali in one of the first major Western mixed martial arts fights.  Catch wrestling contributed heavily to modern mma, and explains why Assirati was busy with breaking bones and relocating his opponents' duodenums every minute.  In spite of the fact that Americans were pretty much piss scared of Assirati and he never really had of a career here, he traveled all over the world wrestling the best of the best to test his skills.  Throughout his life, Assirati snapped fibulas and crushed tracheas in Britain, Scotland ,the United States, Germany, France, Belgium, Singapore, Malaysia, Ceylon, India, Pakistan and South Africa, all due to his ridiculous strength and general insanity, which drew crowds of 100,000 people in his matches in India and Pakistan (Feats).

Though I thought the press slam was basically invented by the Road Warriors, as they were the only motherfuckers strong enough to perform it, Assirati predated their steroid-and-coke fueled insanity by 50 years, as that was one of his signature strength moves.  He was also a huge fan of the inimitable Boston Crab, which we've all enjoyed utilizing to torture younger siblings and neighborhood kids in the past.   
"Bert put the Boston Crab on [Chick Knight], and it was thought he had broken Chick's back; he did spend some time in hospital.  Alan Garfield towered above Bert, but it did not stop Bert from lifting him up over his head and dropping him with all of his weight on Garfield's head. Afterwards Mr Garfield left with his head on one side twice the size of the other side, and with a big bandage around him"(No Angel).
Asserati fighting boxer Arnold Corlen in a proto-MMA fight.

Assirati had a fairly checkered wrestling past as a result of the violence with which he performed his moves, his steadfast refusal to adhere to the programs given to him by wrestling promoters (all of his matches were "shoots" rather than "works", as he was a man who would pretend he lost to someone who didn't actually beat his ass around the same time he'd pretend to be a pretty lady in a Thai brothel), the fact that he was less a showman than he was the harbinger of violent, bloody doom for joints, and the fact that he was suspended indefinitely by the Maryland Boxing Commission for beating the brakes off a referee during one of his matches (Wiki, Online World, No Angel, Yohe).  As such, he found various ways to supplement his income, including proto-mma fights, being a leg breaker for local bookies, and being a bouncer in rough clubs- basically, Assirati lent his skills anywhere someone wanted someone to end up a bloody mess his mother wouldn't recognize in the morgue.

When he wasn't reducing people to blood-sodden, mushy, broken messes, Assirati was "up in the gym, workin' on his fitness" [Ed: Didn't see a Fergie quote coming, did you?]  Though his primary focus was on strength training, he was still such a proponent of gymnastics and cardio that he might as well have worn a cheerleader's costume and brought pom poms into the gym.  Like the Indian wrestlers he eventually fought, Assirati thought strength without endurance was pointless, and once commented to Charles Smith, “Of what use is it to be able to press 250 or 280 or any other great poundage if you can’t run a good mile or wrestle for an hour?” Echoing the same sentiments, he expressed an obsession with developing "supple" muscles, a concept I'm still not sure I understand, outside of the fact that early 20th Century lifters were absolutely overwhelmed with preoccupation with developing them.  To enhance his suppleness, agility, and quickness, Assirati ensured that he always included gymnastics, spring board diving, cycling, and tumbling in his workouts (Drucker, Part 1).

Once Assirati actually got down to the business of lifting, he brought the ruckus.  Like most exceptional lifters of his era, Assirati didn't follow a strict program, preferring to change his program periodically by adding, subtracting, or substituting exercises, which he felt kept him progressing and prevented him from developing any muscular imbalances.  The only exercise he didn't substitute or drop from his workout, however, was the squat, which he did with zealotry generally reserved for Islamic suicide bombers or Christian fundamentalists at gay pride parades.  His squat workouts were legendary, and he combined low and high reps to build some gigantic legs.  Assirati had an 800 lb squat in an era wherein hardly anyone squatted, and no one could challenge him in that exercise.  Every squat workout concluded with a death set of ten, on which he eventually hit 550 lbs.  He was so intent on performing that set with that weight later in his career that when traveling started interfering with his training, he just dropped the squat altogether for cycling, as he figured that there was no fucking point to squatting if he couldn't go as heavy as possible.  

Assirati enjoyed squatting so much, in fact, that he took to squatting Eugen Sandow's 235 lb. fixed barbell for time- at one point, he was squatting that thing for 30 minutes straight, without even stopping to take a deep breath (Drucker, Part 2).  This sort of insanity seemed to fall right in line with the insanity Assirati utilized in the ring, leading me to believe that he might have been at least slightly unbalanced.  As crazy makes for interesting people, however, Assirati is pretty fucking awesome.  He kept the crazy at the forefront when he hit the gym, ripping it up with 800 lb deadlifts, and matching world records in various odd lifts as a matter of course.  He loved doing one arm dumbbell presses, and hit huge numbers on those, in addition to floor presses, standing military presses, weighted back bridges, and was one of the first people in the United States to bench press utilizing the actual apparatus for which the exercise is named (Smith, Bench).  Basically, if it was an exercise that could be considered a "man maker", Assirati went at it like a badger on a honeycomb and tore that shit up.

Due to his love for violence, his general insanity, and the fact that haters gonna hate, Bert Assirati is not remembered fondly in many circles.  I'd chalk that up to jealousy and the fact that most people are so boring that beige is an acceptable color choice and black pepper's a bit too spicy for them.  Whatever the reason, however, it's all bullshit- Bert Assirati is the very definition of a bad motherfucker, and certainly a man who lived and died to be fucking amazing at everything, even if that everything was simply doing one handed handstands and riding a bicycle ridiculously long distances while obese.  If you take nothing else away from this entry, that should pretty much be the message- more craziness, more intensity, and more fearlessness will always lead to being more epic, and more epic is better than less.

Bathurst, Jim.  The Big Guy’s Guide to Holding the Handstand.  Diesel Crew.  20 Apr 2010.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.dieselcrew.com/how-to-do-a-hand-stand

Bert Assirati.  Online World of Wrestling.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/bios/b/bert-assirati/

Drucker, Rob.  Bert Assirati- Part 1.  Oldtime Lifting.  5 Sep 2012.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.oldtimelifting.com/740/bert-assirati-part1/

Drucker, Rob.  Bert Assirati- Part 2.  Oldtime Lifting.  9 Sep 2012.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.oldtimelifting.com/743/bert-assirati-part-2/

Drucker, Rob.  Bert Assirati- Part 3.  Oldtime Lifting.  13 Sep 2012.  Web.  31 Jan 2013. http://www.oldtimelifting.com/745/bert-assirati-part-3/

Feats of Strength.  Bert Asserati.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.bertassirati.com/strengthfeats.htm

No Angel of Islington: The Story Of Bert Assirati.  Wrestling Heritage.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://www.wrestlingheritage.co.uk/noangelofislington.htm

Smith, Charles A.  The Bench Press.  Tight Tan Slacks Of Dezso Ban.  4 Nov 2009.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/11/bench-press-charles-smith.html

Smith, Charles A.  A Modern Hercules- Bert Asserati.  Tight Tan Slacks Of Dezso Ban.  9 Apr 2009.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/04/bert-assirati-charles-smith.html

Smith, Charles A.  New Approaches to Neck Specialization.  Tight Tan Slacks Of Dezso Ban.  26 Jul 2011.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2011/07/new-approaches-to-neck-specialization.html

Smith, Charles.  Tribute to a Strength Athlete–BERT ASSIRATI.  Iron Game History.  Vol 1, 4-5.

Yohe, Steve.  Bert Assirati in Baltimore 1932.  Wrestling Classics.  19 Mar 2002.  Web.  31 Jan 2013.  http://wrestlingclassics.com/cgi-bin/.ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=print_topic;f=10;t=001035