Attaining your goals: Should PED's play a role?

“He’s up guys! Come on!!”

It was September 8, 1998. Steve Trachsel was pitching for the Cubs as they visited the St. Louis Cardinals late in the season. Mark McGwire was walking up to the plate and my dad wanted to make sure my brothers, my friends who were hanging out in my room, and anyone else in the house got a chance to witness history. I had informed him that any time McGwire came to bat, holler so we could watch.

The first time up, we had all gathered and watched Big Mac work the count to 3-0 before grounding out. This time up, there would be no such failure.

Joe Buck was announcing… “down the left field line, is it enough? GOOOOONNNEE!

We all cheered as we watched Mac, all 6’5” 250lbs of him trot around the bases and into history.

Big Mac crushing #62. His historic chase for the home run record in 1998 brought baseball back into the living rooms of America. 

Big Mac crushing #62. His historic chase for the home run record in 1998 brought baseball back into the living rooms of America. 

I get goosebumps just thinking about it. McGwire would go on to smash a record 70 home runs that season. I was lucky enough to be at Busch Stadium when he crushed a 462 foot mammoth for number 46.

Fast forward to October 6, 2001. I was living across the Bay in Oakland – and you could almost feel the crowd cheering as Barry Bonds walloped number 71 on his way to 73 and a new record in the wake of the attacks of 9/11.

2005, Lance Armstrong beats cancer to claim his record 7th Tour De France victory.

Three of my favorite athletes of all-time. Also on that list? Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Jose Canseco – you get it.

The Bash Brothers. Every little leaguer in America wanted to be like Big Mac and Jose Canseco in the late 80's and early 90's.

The Bash Brothers. Every little leaguer in America wanted to be like Big Mac and Jose Canseco in the late 80's and early 90's.

All of them used performance enhancing drugs. They are some of if not THE greatest players to ever compete in their respective sports. Watching them was inspiring. Their records are gaudy. They embodied everything I wanted to be as a kid - they were gods.

The first time I ever heard the word “steroids”, I was 7 years old. Sprinter Ben Johnson had just smashed his own world-record time in the 100 meter dash, winning gold in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and defeating America’s hero and race favorite Carl Lewis. I was in a grocery store with my mom and was reading the cover of the Sports Illustrated at the checkout aisle. “Scandal in Seoul” the top of the cover read. The word “BUSTED” in all caps ran across the bottom of a photo of Johnson cruising to the record.

The first time I ever heard the word "steroids" used. Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal in 1988, after allegations of PED use.

The first time I ever heard the word "steroids" used. Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal in 1988, after allegations of PED use.

“When and where Ben Johnson of Canada took steroids…and how drugs cost him his gold medal in the 100”. It was a “Special Report” by Sports Illustrated.

Johnson was the prototype of what a sprinter should look like. Muscles bulging out of his race suit, he looked like every guy in the gym wants to look.

But steroids were “cheating”, they were “bad”, they were “drugs”…right?

Ben Johnson was the prototypical sprinter. Ripped and fast - and allegedly on "juice".

Ben Johnson was the prototypical sprinter. Ripped and fast - and allegedly on "juice".

So why would all my dads friends joke around about how pitchers like Phil Niekro or Gaylord Perry used to scuff the ball or spit on it or use Vaseline to get an edge over hitters? Players like George Brett used pine-tar all the up the bat to help grip it better – all against the rules, but all accepted as part of the “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin” part of sports. It’s a competition and competitors look for any edge right?

Every week in NASCAR drivers get points taken away for a bumper that was too close to the ground or some other mechanical cheat the teams try to use to get an edge.

George Brett following his ejection for using too much pine tar on his bat - he hit a home run that was disallowed. He had to be held back from the umpire who made the call.

George Brett following his ejection for using too much pine tar on his bat - he hit a home run that was disallowed. He had to be held back from the umpire who made the call.

Hell, if a judge in a crossfit competition is only looking up at the target when I'm repping out wall-balls, I't not gonna go to full-depth in my squat. I look for an edge and exploit it. When I train, I don't, but in competition, you seek the edge and use what is available to win.

If I told you I had a pill you could take that would increase your salary to 4 times what it is right now – and your boss didn’t test for it, would you take it? If your salary would be $10 million instead of $1 million would you take it? A lot of people would and did.

Steve Pinkerton was suspended for using PED's after he failed a test at the 2015 Atlantic Regionals.

Steve Pinkerton was suspended for using PED's after he failed a test at the 2015 Atlantic Regionals.

As a sports fan, I want to see people do things I can’t do. I want to see the best athletes in the world compete at the highest level in any sport. When I watch Ilya Ilyin clean and jerk a world-record 542 lbs, I don’t give a shit that he is probably doping. I LOVE watching him because he is the best in a sport where all the best athletes are using PED’s. He will probably go down as the greatest weightlifter in history. Who cares if he uses PED’s? He is the best, period – and people love watching him shatter records.

I love seeing records get smashed every year at the Crossfit Games. I love watching athletes nail PR’s and lift big weight…but let’s face it people, if athletes in baseball are using PED’s for an edge, do you really think athletes in a sport entirely about fitness, strength and endurance –aren’t? If you think that, I have some amazing oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.

Baseball experienced a comeback after a player’s strike because people LOVED watching Big Mac and Sammy Sosa smash home runs every night and break records.  We got to see the best players on the best drugs, doing things nobody thought was possible. That’s what sports should be about. Forget all this “they are role models” bullshit. If your kids are so malleable they look to professional athletes as their moral compass – you are a shitty parent. I loved watching Big Mac and Canseco when I was growing up, but I wasn't jabbing a vein in little league so I could blast homers. I pretended I was them when I hit homers - that was enough for me.

Barry Bonds is the greatest player to ever put on cleats and pick up a bat. Any argument to the contrary is invalid - You are wrong and above that, you are an idiot. Lance Armstrong is the greatest cyclist to ever live – your argument to the contrary, well you get it, read above. Why would you want to watch anything but the best, compete at the highest level humanly possible?

PED’s are good for sports and even better for fans. Don’t tell me you are a baseball fan and then tell me you didn’t get goosebumps watching Big Mac make history. Don’t tell me you are a weightlifter and your jaw didn’t drop the first time you saw Ilya C&J that 542. You want to see these performances – you love what PED’s do – so just admit it and enjoy it.

2014 Crossfit Games Athlete Richard Bohlken, suspended from the 2015 season after testing positive for a banned substance.

2014 Crossfit Games Athlete Richard Bohlken, suspended from the 2015 season after testing positive for a banned substance.

As athletes age, they look for an edge. When I'm in the gym watching 20 somethings who drink every weekend and eat like shit, crush my times and outlift me, it's frustrating. I rarely drink, I eat clean and train hard, but sometimes that is not enough to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Have I ever used PED's? No - but I understand the mentality of those who do. I'm not going to Regionals or the Games, but I understand why someone who is close to that goal would use any tools necessary to make it a reality.

I am not advocating people run out and start jabbing themselves with a needle to improve their lifts or metcon times. I am saying that if you do, more power to you. I understand the desire to be great - to be like Big Mac or Lance - to be viewed as a god - even if that hero worship is followed by the predictable disdain from those who don't understand the lifestyle.

When motivation wanes: 6 methods to stay wild/STRONG

Yesterday we covered skipping the gym and why rest days are for those looking for excuses. Today we continue our series on motivation and overcoming those times when training seems like a chore or task rather than something to revel in. When motivation to hit the weights, wanes, there are a number of effective methods you can employ to get over this bump in the road to greatness.

1. Compete: We here at wild/STRONG believe competition is key to everything. Nothing provides motivation to drag yourself to the gym and have a good training session, than having a date on the calendar looming – staring back at you – an invisible opponent who is in the gym every day, waiting to crush you on the field of battle because you didn’t prepare for the war.

This intensity is not replicated in training a couple times a week. Competition fuels the soul of the wild/STRONG and provides motivation that cannot be achieved anywhere else.

This intensity is not replicated in training a couple times a week. Competition fuels the soul of the wild/STRONG and provides motivation that cannot be achieved anywhere else.

Those who train but don’t compete, are lesser-thans. If your goals are different and competition is not something you strive for, that’s fine. Just don’t go asking yourself why you aren’t seeing the same gains as someone who does. The person who tests themselves in competition, on a consistent basis, will be better than you. They will understand their limits better than you do. They will be more effective at identifying their weaknesses than you are. Their training has a level of motivation and intensity you will not be able to replicate.

Training withou a serious goal? Welcome to being like this guy. His face says it all. "I'm miserable because I am at the gym." Don't be this guy.

Training withou a serious goal? Welcome to being like this guy. His face says it all. "I'm miserable because I am at the gym." Don't be this guy.

Having a tough time pushing yourself to the limit in your training? Get on the internet, locate a competition and sign up, today.

2. Buy new gear: It’s amazing that this works, but it does. We are like children when it comes to new stuff. Buying a new pair of shoes, wraps, knee sleeves, shirt, hoodie, whatever it is, can jump-start your motivation levels. We want new gear to work better or make us feel better – some if it actually does, but generally speaking this is a placebo effect. If some of your gear is older, not as effective, doesn’t look as cool – go replace it. Treat yourself and then get in the gym and test it. Investing in your fitness level is never a waste of money, as long as you use it. Obviously nothing will motivate you to train more than throwing on a new “Definition” T-shirt from wild/STRONG or a nice, form-fitting “Untamed” ¾ sleeve (A study is being conducted now, but we are fairly certain these raise your test levels by 40%)

New gear can give you a jump-start in the gym. Just in time, the popular "Definition" shirt is on sale now! Click the button below to get yours!

New gear can give you a jump-start in the gym. Just in time, the popular "Definition" shirt is on sale now! Click the button below to get yours!

3. Get training partners: Having someone you train with every day is a powerful motivator. This person should be someone who pushes you to be better and vice versa. This must be a two-way relationship. Don’t be the one who is always seeking the push. This can be your significant other (if you are lucky enough to be with someone who shares your passion, Just don’t take one of those “we are kissing while we do overhead squat” pictures. Those people suck.)

We get it, you train together. I'll start being impressed by these pictures when someone actually takes one with big weight on the bar.

We get it, you train together. I'll start being impressed by these pictures when someone actually takes one with big weight on the bar.

Having a variety of training partners who hold you accountable, support you when you are down and push you to be better - is an important tool for anyone who wants to achieve their goals. Just be sure to return the favor.

4. Watch Youtube: Watching videos of whatever activity you train for can be a great source of motivation. Thinking about skipping the gym tonight? A couple videos of Illya Illin hitting a world-record clean and jerk can turn that right around. Youtube is filled with motivation videos of people doing awesome shit. My personal favorite, even though I am not a powerlifter, is Mark Bell and Brandon Lilly’s Powerlifting: The Mentality video. If I ever think about not training, I can watch that and immediately turn into a rabid dog, foaming at the mouth until I can get into the gym to lift some heavy weight. Whatever your sport or reason for training – log on and watch a couple videos and then go hit some PR’s.

5. Listen to Good Music: We covered this in our piece on “Preparing for a PR”, so I won’t belabor the point here. Suffice it to say, music can be a powerful influence on your motivational levels. Make a playlist next time you are recovering from a training session.

6. Learn to Meditate: This is something I wish I had started doing at a much earlier age. Spending time by yourself visualizing your goals is very effective at motivating you to train. A great mentor of mine once told me, “Work back from your goals.” That is to say, identify your goals, and view the steps to get there from the goal, backwards. This is a simple and very effective way of achieving what you want – in training and in life. Meditating is a perfect way to view this system and what you need to do today to make those dreams a reality. If you are new to meditating, there are a number of apps out there that can point you in the right direction. I personally like “headspace”, it is a free download and you can try it out for free before given the option to pay for some of the premium services.

Meditation is a powerful form of motivation. Visualize your goals and achieve them. You don't have to have a view like this one for it to be effective, but I can tell you from experience, it doesn't hurt.

Meditation is a powerful form of motivation. Visualize your goals and achieve them. You don't have to have a view like this one for it to be effective, but I can tell you from experience, it doesn't hurt.

At the end of the day, motivation is up to you. You are the only person that can make the choice to get up every day and pursue your goals. These are just a few of the ways I push myself. I hope some of them work for you – identify which ones do, and make them part of your repertoire. Now go have a great training session!

Rest Day? Never heard of her: 6 tired excuses for not going to the gym

You slept in. You are sore. You had a bad day at the office. Your schedule is pulling you in all different directions. You have a nagging injury. You are lazy. You need a “rest day”. The list of excuses for why you won’t make it to the gym today can be endless…and pathetic. Your training MUST be a priority in your life – when you don’t show up to the gym, people should immediately assume something is wrong. You don’t want to be one of those people who shows up sometimes and nobody really misses until you’ve skipped out on a month of training.

This is the man who skips the gym. Do you want to be like him? If so, stop reading now.

This is the man who skips the gym. Do you want to be like him? If so, stop reading now.

Skipping the gym is easy. Laying on your bed playing Playstation or watching Netflix is easy. Saying you are “ok” with being mediocre or having a soft body, is easy. Easy is the enemy of progress. Easy doesn’t get you a body like a Greek god. Easy makes you average.  In Rocky 3, the champ is living an easy life. Clubber Lang was doing upside down pull-ups in a shitty garage gym at 5am. Clubber beat the brakes off Balboa (My girlfriend has never seen ANY of the Rocky movies, so I am going to make references to them in every blog until she watches the entire series, by “the entire series” I mean 1-4, the rest don’t count).

Clubber Lang didn't skip the gym. Clubber didn't live the easy life like the champ - and he beat the holy hell out of Rocky.

Clubber Lang didn't skip the gym. Clubber didn't live the easy life like the champ - and he beat the holy hell out of Rocky.

1. You slept in: So what? Get your ass to work or whatever else it is that takes you away from the gym every day, and go to the gym later. You fucked up and were lazy, now you need to make some minor changes to your schedule and simply make it happen. Start going to bed earlier instead of watching “one more episode” of Sex and the City, or whatever it is people who make excuses not to train, watch every night.

If you are missing the gym because you sleep in every morning, go to bed sooner. Read instead of watching TV. Sleep is an important part of your recovery, especially if you train every day.

If you are missing the gym because you sleep in every morning, go to bed sooner. Read instead of watching TV. Sleep is an important part of your recovery, especially if you train every day.

2. You are sore: Newsflash, this is what happens when you train hard, it isn’t a valid excuse to skip the gym. Unless you are an Olympic-caliber lifter or top ranked powerlifter etc., the chances you are “overtraining” are very low. If you Crossfit five days a week, and you are sore, you are not “overtraining”. If someone says you are, remove that person from your life.

This looks like a great article. Although my version would be a tad repetitive: Reasons 1-7 are all the same: Cuz you're fucking awesome. 

This looks like a great article. Although my version would be a tad repetitive: Reasons 1-7 are all the same: Cuz you're fucking awesome. 

3. Bad day at the office: Sorry Nancy, if I missed the gym every time I had a bad day at work, I’d never train. Work sucks – the gym doesn’t. If you had a bad day, make it better by crushing weights, not going home and sulking like a bitch who needs a mental health day every time his boss yells at him.

This is keeping you from training? Smack that pen out of his hand and tell him you're headed to the gym.

This is keeping you from training? Smack that pen out of his hand and tell him you're headed to the gym.

4. You’re too busy: No you’re not. If I could put a device on your TV that would log every minute you watch it, I’d bet my salary you aren’t too busy to train. If you are going to use this as an excuse to miss training – be honest with your teammates and gym partners and just say “Not gonna make it tonight, I’m a lazy piece of shit who would rather watch TV and eat shit food than pursue greatness with you all tonight.” Now get back to watching “Hot Girls Wanted”.

Says he's too busy to train. Watches Netflix with girlfriend all night. Two problems here: One, you skipped training to hang with your girlfriend. Two, obviously this means your girl doesn't lift.

Says he's too busy to train. Watches Netflix with girlfriend all night. Two problems here: One, you skipped training to hang with your girlfriend. Two, obviously this means your girl doesn't lift.

5. You are injured: It happens to all of us. Unless you are in a full-body cast or injured every part of your body in a horrible car accident – you can still train. Work around your injury, use it as an opportunity to attack a weakness. Shoulder is injured? Squat more. Legs injured? Press more.

Arnold got it. He achieved greatness. What have you achieved that makes you better than him?

Arnold got it. He achieved greatness. What have you achieved that makes you better than him?

6. You need a “rest day”: Rest day? Never heard of her. Every time I think about taking a rest day, I ask myself “is the person who is gonna be on the podium at my next competition taking a rest day?” No he isn’t, because that person is me, and I’m headed to the gym.

If you go looking for excuses, you’ll find them. We don’t make excuses at wild/STRONG, it’s just not the way we work. We chase greatness every day. You can’t chase greatness while you’re sprawled out on the couch with a bag of chips in front of you. Greatness is the paycheck earned only by those willing to put in the hours and the work necessary to earn it. You want to be average? We don’t want you in our tribe. Don’t buy our gear, don’t rep our brand. If you don’t make excuses and pursue greatness every single day of your life – click on the link below, because we would be happy to have you. 

Preparing for a PR

This week we made a pretty strong case for why you should be lifting heavy-ass weight. If you missed the blogs, you can read them here.

There is nothing more wild/STRONG than hitting a PR.

I am in the middle of a pretty intense squat cycle. My squat is one of my weakest lifts compared to my size, so I decided to address it while battling a shoulder injury that has kept me from hitting my Olympic lifts. Today I am halfway through the cycle, so we are testing our 1rm to set the percentages for the rest of the cycle.

PR's don't just get handed out to you. You have to earn it and prepare for it. 

PR's don't just get handed out to you. You have to earn it and prepare for it. 

Preparing for a 1rm is something I take very seriously. Some lifters don’t think about it at all, can just show up at the gym ready to “show and go”. I have to get my mind right. So I figured I would share this process with the wild/STRONG Tribe. It may be something that works for you, or not. Either way, I challenge you all to come up with your own system – and maybe some of these will carry over into your preparation.

My process starts the day before: If I don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, I feel it in the gym. I’m not gonna get into any scientific shit in this post about GH production, or dietary shit. This is just my process and I readily admit much of it is purely mental – but sleep is important for GH and Test levels. If you aren’t getting enough sleep during a lifting cycle, you aren’t recovering properly. The night before a 1rm I have to get at least 6-8 hours or I will feel sluggish in the gym.

Visualization: From the moment I wake up, I begin visualizing my PR. I see it happening. I see it play out all day. In my mind I visualize all the points, from the moment I walk into the gym, how I will warm up, what I’m wearing, what weights I will hit on the way up, what music is playing. I break down every aspect of the lift. By the time I walk into the gym for real, the PR has already happened in my mind so many times I can’t count.

You don't get guns like this eating like shit and not recovering properly. The journey to a PR starts long before you ever step up to the bar. Featured in photo: Paul Waggener from Operation Werewolf.

You don't get guns like this eating like shit and not recovering properly. The journey to a PR starts long before you ever step up to the bar. Featured in photo: Paul Waggener from Operation Werewolf.

Music: Music plays a big role in my preparation and in my lifting. A lot of people will say they don’t even hear the music playing when they lift. I am not one of those people. If Nickelback is playing, I’m not gonna PR. Call me mentally weak, but I absolutely have to be hearing music that pumps me up if I’m gonna hit big weight. My favorite songs to PR too can be found at the bottom of the blog.

Think that new Justin Bieber playlist is gonna get you a PR? It won't. Try my favorite list of PR music found at the bottom of the blog.

Think that new Justin Bieber playlist is gonna get you a PR? It won't. Try my favorite list of PR music found at the bottom of the blog.

Food: Eating right is essential to fueling your body for a PR. If you eat like shit during a cycle, you probably won’t hit big weight. I don’t care what your diet is like, if you aren’t logging your food in some form or fashion, you obviously are not serious about getting big or lifting big. Logging your food is the only thing that really allows you to tweak your diet, see what numbers you are hitting and judge how these numbers impact your performance. So many people will say they eat enough, but if you aren’t logging, how could you possibly know? I use IIFYM, it works and it’s easy. Want big gains, want to lift big weight, want to be a sexier version of yourself? Do it. It’s easy. Just click here and get started.

I always strive to hit my macro goals spot on every day. This becomes even more important on PR days. Mentally I want to know my body is fueled properly for a big lift. I generally lift in the early evenings, so I’ll have consumed about 80% of my calories by the time I hit the gym. I like to stop eating about an hour before I train. I’ll drink some aminos or pre-workout or both about 15-30 minutes before and during my lifting session.

In the Gym: Now you are here. It’s time for your final preparations. Mentally you should be completely prepared to get nasty by this time. Focus on warming up properly. Use a foam roller, bands and other movements to get your body loose. I like to listen to some slower music, usually movie scores or classical shit at this point so I am relaxed as I warm up.

On the bar: Once I am sufficiently warmed up and stretched out, it’s time to hit some weights. I’ll focus on speed and form as I start my lighter warm up sets. Once I get to about 70% of my current 1rm, I’ll drop down to some triples, at 80-85% I switch to doubles – 90% I go to singles.

Whether you are breaking a world record like Eddie Hall, or shattering your own PR's, having a pre-lift routine will help.

Whether you are breaking a world record like Eddie Hall, or shattering your own PR's, having a pre-lift routine will help.

I will NEVER lift my current 1rm. In fact, once I PR, that will likely be the last time I lift that weight, certainly for a single,  until I PR at something higher and that old PR becomes a warm-up single. I cleaned 300 lbs a few weeks back. I clean up to 285-290 for a single now, then 305 for a new PR. I always skip my old 1rm.

You’ve hit a single at 95% or higher. It’s time. Get your favorite PR song on and prepare to unleash everything you have on that bar. This is a time of fury, frenzy – crazed aggressiveness. I like to pace back and forth – my eyes never leave the barbell. I envision the lift one last time. I talk shit to the bar in my head. I disrespect the weight. It’s nothing. It’s light. It’s cakeweight. I have my own little mantra I say to myself before I approach the bar.

Pre-Lift: The pre-lift routine is something you should have. No matter how elaborate or simple it is. Basketball players go through the exact same routine before every free-throw. This is how I envision my pre-lift routine. It doesn’t matter what yours is, but you should have one. Make it the same every time. Make it routine.

Last step: You put in the work. You prepared properly. Step up to the bar and crush that shit. If you miss it, give yourself at least three attempts at the PR. After that, it’s up to you if you want to keep taking shots at it, depending on how close you are.

If you fail: This doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard. This means you didn’t work enough. Don’t tell yourself you put in the proper amount of training – if you had, you wouldn’t have missed. Respect the work you put in, but understand you need to do more. Get back to work. Read about dealing with losing/failure here. Good luck and go crush some weights and hit some PR’s.

 

PR Songs: all available on Spotify. Follow my playlists by searching “Seth Allan” and following my “EDM 1rm” playlist if you like EDM. If you are more into hip-hop, check out my “Get Heavy” playlist. If you like movie scores and bagpipes (sorry, I’ve got Scottish blood in me) check “1rm motivation”. Stay away from the “Slow Jams” playlist. That’s for Netflix and Chill recovery with your partner, AFTER you hit a new PR.

300 Violin Orchestra – Jorge Quintero

IBETCHU – Yellow Claw

Run This Town – DJ Crazy Jay Rodriguez

Going in –Skrillex

Paper – 12th Planet

Murder Style – Protohype & Datsik

Split (Only U) – Tiesto

Hustle – Antiserum and Mayhem

Dafuq – Ookay

Bugatti – Ace Hood

Let’s Go – Trick Daddy

Ambitionz az a Ridah – Tupac

Presidential – Youngbloodz

Ima Boss –Rick Ross

Hard in the Paint – Waka Flocka Flame

All The Above – Maino

Pop That – French Montan

Scotland the Brave – The Scottish Bagpipes Highland Pipers

Lost Song – Saor Patrol

Sail – AWOL Natio

Compete - or get the f*ck out of my way

Editor's Note: This blog, one of our firsts, defines what and who wild/STRONG is. We are a brand that believes competition is where we learn about ourselves, become better people and learn what deficiences we have, both mentally and physically - then we attack those deficiences with abandon. We train, we compete and we become better. We don't make excuses. If you feel the same way, we want you in our tribe. If you don't, the headline is pretty clear, get the f*ck out of our way, we don't want you. We don't want you repping our brand, clothes or gear. Wearing the wild/STRONG logo on your chest or back means something - it means you don't give a shit what other people think about you or what rules they live their life by - because you are far too busy becoming better than they are...and you are willing to prove it. We have added a few points to the original post.We hope you enjoy it.

Author (foreground) and teammates - 307 Throwdown 2015 - Casper, WY.

Author (foreground) and teammates - 307 Throwdown 2015 - Casper, WY.

“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

The ironic part about this famous line from Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club – is that only people who had actually been in a fight, appreciated how awesome that line truly was.

Durden preached and lived a lifestyle based on the knowledge that you learn what you are truly capable of, through competition.

Durden preached and lived a lifestyle based on the knowledge that you learn what you are truly capable of, through competition.

Only someone who has tapped into that next level savagery -  fueled by the most insane adrenaline dump you’ve ever experienced, walked through a couple of flush punches to their face – or stood back up after absorbing a kick to the head - the feeling of invincibility when your opponent cannot continue – the pure primal joy of knowing you went head-to-head with someone else, and you bested them. Yeah, all of that.

So how can we feel those emotions on a regular basis…without ending up on the wrong side of ol' Johnny Law? We compete. Not just in combat sports – any competition fuels this desire to beat someone, to test our skills and abilities. I don’t care if you are an MMA fighter or a chess player, you should be competing. Only the weak view training as competition. The strong train FOR competition.

I’ve always enjoyed playing sports and the biggest reason I enjoyed this, was the competition. When I was 9 years old, I would get my baseball uniform on about 3 hours before we even had to leave for the field. The nervous energy drove me crazy even at that young age. One of the most vivid memories of my childhood, was the feeling of losing a playoff game in the late innings. I can remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach – that understanding that the season was over and we had lost – as if it happened yesterday. I was 10 years old – that was almost a quarter century ago. Even then I hated losing more than I loved winning.

I struggled to find an outlet for this competitive desire as an adult – until one day, I stumbled into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Author (top position) during first match of his first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament. This was just after he swept his opponent for two points to secure the win. Birmingham, AL circa 2006.

Author (top position) during first match of his first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament. This was just after he swept his opponent for two points to secure the win. Birmingham, AL circa 2006.

I was hooked…and “competing” against the guys in class was never enough. I could not sign up for enough competitions, local ones, out of state, it didn’t matter. I would sometimes have 10-12 matches in one day because I would enter as many divisions as I could.

Author (right) and teammate, Dothan, AL circa 2010

Author (right) and teammate, Dothan, AL circa 2010

It kept me in shape, it provided a tribal community atmosphere and it fed my insane competitive streak. After about 7 years of BJJ, I decided to switch things up and try Crossfit. My biggest fear was that it would not adequately feed my drive for competition.

I was wrong - Crossfit feeds all the same hungers BJJ did. The amazing community, the fitness aspect and of course the competition. This year alone I have competed in an Olympic Weightlifting meet and at least 4 Crossfit events, whether team or individual. This sort of schedule gives your training a purpose.

Crossfit feeds the same hungers as any other sport. It forces you to continually go beyond what your mind tells you that you can accomplish. Author, Casper, WY 2015

Crossfit feeds the same hungers as any other sport. It forces you to continually go beyond what your mind tells you that you can accomplish. Author, Casper, WY 2015

If you are one of those people who goes into the gym and views that as your competition – I feel sorry for you. You don’t know if the person you are matching up with is taking it easy today, training for an event and just lifted heavy – the list goes on. Yet you march in and put up a better score, or you submit him, or get him in check-mate (if you really do play chess instead of this other stuff) and view that as a “win” – Wrong, you lost. You lost because you don’t know what it truly is to compete. You lost because deep down you know you didn’t have to go to a dark place to get your “win”. You lost because you never experienced the feeling of looking into your opponent's eyes and seeing it happen – seeing the moment he begins to accept that he cannot keep up with you – the moment his desire to win is extinguished by a wave of exhaustion and acceptance of you as the better man. None of that happens in the gym - it happens on the field of battle. Your “win” is a soldier besting his child at a wooden sword fight in the moments before he departs for real war. Go hard in training, but remember training isn’t the goal.

How do you know where you stack up if you never test yourself in competition? Author (in sunglasses), Cheyenne, WY circa 2015

How do you know where you stack up if you never test yourself in competition? Author (in sunglasses), Cheyenne, WY circa 2015

Competing is not for everyone – some people are weak losers who don’t want to know where they stand in any given activity. We need  weak losers around (I don’t know why, I literally couldn’t think of a single reason after I wrote that, but it sounded like something that made sense. Perhaps I’ll update later)

Author's Update: My brother answered this question for me and I decided to put his quote in here because it is 100% pure badass. "Weak losers exist for the kings of the world to stand on the backs of. To command, to be servile to us, in order for us to accomplish more. In other words, kings and warriors will rule and slaves shall serve."

Author, Wyoming Open, 2015

Author, Wyoming Open, 2015

 

I surround myself with people who compete. I only have time and space in my life for people who can inspire me. If you can’t even test yourself against an opponent, how the fuck are you gonna inspire me to be a better version of myself? Start competing or get the fuck out of my way.