The Chaos And Pain Revolution

Giving you front row seats to the dawn of a new world.

Baddest Motherfuckers Ever: Phil “the Man With Four Legs” Grippaldi

Posted on: September 25th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments

Child stars are invariably more fucked up than a bondage scat porn film set to the looped theme songs of beloved childrens’ movies, yet the world constantly looks at them, hands wringing, and wonders “why?” and “how could we have saved them?” when in fact the answer is usually obvious.  It likely surprised no one when Dana Plato offed herself with Valium after years of being shit-poor on the heels of starring in Diff’rent Strokes- her cunt mom had been forcing the kid through audition after audition as a toddler, and Plato was whacked out of her head on coke as a 14 year old actress.  Same goes for Justin Bieber- the world will breathe a collective sigh of relief when that human shitstain hangs himself in a closet wearing nothing but a pair of thigh high stockings and a butt plug after being forced into pop stardom by an overbearing, formerly drug addicted, super ripshit pissed for Jesus (yet hates the Jews) mother.  Though strength sports rarely have child stars, they’re not immune to this issue either- that’s why when Phil Grippaldi, former protege of bouncer and bodyguard to the half-dead starvation model Twiggy, got arrested as the world’s oldest crack dealer at age 61, exactly no one was surprised.

On the left, Phil Grippaldi, at under 90kg.  On the right, Russ Knipp, world record holder in the press at 75kg, flexing his paltry 15″ arm.  Apparently the 30 lb difference in bodyweight was entirely in the arms.

Born in 1946 in the postapocalyptic nuclear wasteland of New Jersey, Grippaldi started training at age 14 under the watchful eye of a massive amateur, non-competitive bodybuilder Mike Gubliano.  Gubliano had this little guido trashing his arms for three hours a day in the company of like-minded spaghetti-gobbling benchbros, and by age 16 all of his hard work paid off.  No, Redditors, the kid didn’t end up in a cemetery from doing hours of curls and close grip bench presses every single day- he ended up a 16 year old kid with 19 inch arms weighing under 190 lbs, and likely more sopping wet vagina thrown at him on the street on a daily basis than most of us will see in the span of our lives (Everson, Gallagher “Phil” 2).

Shortly thereafter, Grippaldi met the coach of the legendary Keasby Eagles weightlifting team, which churned out badass American Olympic weightlifters throughout the 1960s and 1970s.  In his weightlifting debut, Grippaldi smashed the Junior World Record at 90kg by 35 lbs, then entered the Senior Nationals for his second meet and placed second to world record holder Bill March with another Junior World Record in the press with a 348 lb attempt.  The following year he switched coaches and broke his own record again with a 352 press.  At this point, the dude with arms so fucking big that he was studied by Soviet scientists seemed like he was on the verge of bending over the Eastern block and fucking it in the ear by himself.  That, however, was not exactly how things would play out.

“The grimly serious Grippaldi’s arms were so hypertrophied from bodybuilding done in his teens that the Russian weightlifting experts at the Soviet Academy of Sport—in an article translated for American magazines—diagnosed those prodigious arms as the cause of a technique problem that inhibited his ultimate success. Phil may have been okay with that. He didn’t get Olympic gold, but a silver medal and a band of worshippers is not too bad” (McKeen 87) .

In 1968, Grippaldi beat weightlifting legend Bill March in the national championships like he was a 20 year old Mike Tyson going up against an aging Joe Frazier, clocking a sick 1,055 lb three lift total.  Grippaldi went on to be a sensation on the international circuit, racking up some incredibly impressive finishes for an American whose nation had turned its collective back on weightlifting 20 years prior.  Working as a teacher by day and putting in 20 to 30 hours of training a day, Grippaldi continued to log massive numbers, even after his pet exercise, the press, was discarded like a used condom to cut down on duration of weightlifting meets (Gallagher “Phil”).  In spite of his nearly legendary success, however, an elbow injury sustained in competition in 1980 destroyed Grippaldi’s Olympic gold aspirations, although he attempted a comeback training only his legs that was apparently comprised of nothing but thousands of 1,000 pound-plus leg presses (McKeen 93).  No one’s quite sure how a teacher consumed with lifting could only have an ending crazier than the beginning, it seems, but it seems only fitting looking at the way he lived.


Phil Grippaldi’s Relevant Stats

Height: 5’5″

Weight: 195 lbs.

Arms: 20″-22″ (depending on the source)

Best Lifts

Clean and Press: 396 lbs.

Clean and Jerk: 451 lbs. 

Snatch: 341 lbs.

Competition History

1st- 1967 Pan American Games, 90kg

2nd- 1970 World Championship, 90kg (160kg Press, 140kg Snatch, 190kg Jerk)

1st- 1971 Pan American Games, 90kg

1st- 1975 Pan American Games, 90kg

By all accounts, Phil Grippaldi’s training methods ranged from “jesus fuck, he’s a maniac” to “my eyes are bleeding watching this guy.”  According to Jeff McKeen, a light warmup prior to pulling consisted of 5 totally cold reps with 495 on the squat, at which point he was ready to rock.  The guys around him considered him to be a demi-god, so Grippaldi was always the one setting the pace for their marathon workouts.  Thought the workouts varied widely, their mainstay lifts almost never changed.  On average, Grippaldi’s workouts looked like this:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Front Squats

Back Squats


Power Clean

Tuesday, Thursday



Clean and Jerk

Bench Press

Power Rack:

Four 10 second holds in full extended position


Total on all three lifts

Unlike most Olympic lifters of the time, Grippaldi absolutely refused to quit curling and benching, and for that reason often had trouble making weight at meets (Charniga).  Though most Olympic lifters though bench pressing would impede their shoulder flexibility, Grippaldi just knocked out shoulder dislocates before, during, and after benching to maintain a full range of motion.  Additionally, Grippaldi was famous in his gym for breaking lifts down into their component parts and training his weak points doing that.  This is how he build his press to such prodigious poundages- he’d identify component parts and use unrelated lifts to strengthen different parts of each lift, rotating the assistance work on a weekly basis (Gallagher “Grippaldi”). 

To make his sick overhead press so disgusting it caused nubile women to spontaneously ovulate in his presence, Grippaldi did the following three things:

  1. Blast his body with a wide array of non-shoulder specific assistance exercises
  2. Focus on press-related assistance exercises
  3. Refine his technique like a hipster refines his palette for wine tastings


In regards to the first point, which might seem about as sensible as owning one of those massive diesel pickup trucks dudes with micropenises have embraced during a global energy crunch, Grippaldi identified his abs and intercostals as incredibly important factors in his press.  Just as it’d be retarded to build a house on a sinkhole, it’d be fucking stupid to attempt and overhead press with a weak midsection.  According to the man himself, “A lifter must have excellent abdominal and intercostal strength and to that end it is imperative that the lifter employ some of the following abdominal exercises in his routine.  Ab work aids in creating the ‘giant spring.’ During the Olympic press the abs and hips must be coordinated to create the initial thrust. On a related note: remember to drive the hips forward as the weight is being pressed. A lifter must isolate and work on his thrust” (Gallagher “Grippaldi”)

Everyone’s heard about the exercise du jour in that era for abs- guys like Serge Nubret and Frank Zane were famous for building their shredded midsections with thousands of unweighted Roman Chain situps.  While Grippaldi gave no fucks about stepping on a bodybuilding stage, he did take a page out of the bodybuilders’ book and start doing Roman chair situps holding a 20kg plate either behind his head or on his chest.  Unlike Frank Zane, who would do sets of over 50 reps, Grippaldi held his shenanigans to 20 reps or less (Ibid).

181lb Gennady Ivanchenko regularly did hyperextensions with a 220lb barbell behind the neck to build that sick impression of the Grand Canyon where his spine should be.

After he knocked out abs, Grippaldi would flip over and do weighted hyperextensions to build thick spinal erectors.  This was the exercise of the Russians, and powered some of their most famous lifters to greatness just on the strength of their spine.  Though some Russians did these with a 220lb barbell behind their neck, Grippaldi stuck to a plate behind the neck or held to the chest and kept his reps between 5 and 15 (Ibid).

Grippaldi’s direct shoulder assistance work was fairly conventional.  It consisted of:

70-degree Incline Barbell Press- 6 x 5

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press- 6 x 5
Push press- 5 x 3
Isotonic/isometric rack pressing- 4 x 3.  This bears some explanation, as this was incredibly popular in the 1970s but has completely fallen out of use, likely because racks only come with a single set of pins.  Should you have access to two sets for a single rack, here’s how these are done- break the lift into thirds.  Set one set of pins at the bottom third of the rep and the other set at the top, then press the barbell from one set of pins to the other, holding the third rep against the top pins for 3-5 seconds.

“There was something wrong with us.  We chose a sport with no pot of gold and no rainbow.  Weightlifters didn’t get appearance fees or product endorsements, do commercials or interviews, and most spent their entire income on their training and travel to competitions.  Some lifters got fed up, and turned pro wrestler, or switched to the new sport of professional strongman competition; the strong legs and backs of Olympic lifters made it a natural transition. 

And we usually passed on fun.  Fun was tied to spontaneity outside of the weight room.  Skiing for the weekend?  Might get injured.  Trip to the Outer Banks?  Where should I train?  “You are going to the gym on Christmas Day?” my wife demanded, incredulous.

“It’s Wednesday.  Wednesday is jerk day.  I’ll just be a couple of hours,” I said.

“It is Jerk Day, isn’t it?”  She turned away.  Why the turn wasn’t permanent, I’m not sure.
All that for the possible reward of respect by a few thousand or so Olympic lifters in the country, of being a Grippaldi.  We few, we slap-happy few” (McKee 90-91).

So, he might not have ended up a world champion… and he might have ended up a piece of shit slinging crack rock on the corner, but for a decade, Phil “The Man With Four Legs” Grippaldi was the baddest motherfucker under 200lbs the world had ever seen, and was regarded as a god.  He represented everything awesome about an entire generation of lifters to that generation.  For ten years, no one looked back to the past for inspiration- they just looked across a dimly lit shithole of a gym to a dude with sides of beef for arms and an abject hatred of being a mere human.


Charniga, Jr., Andrew. There Is No System, Part IV.  Sportivnypress.  2009. Web.  25 Jan 2014.

Connelly, Michael.  An Informal Boston Education: Boston Boomers, Beaches, Buddies, Broads, Bars, Beer, Baseball, and Barbells.  Bloomington: iUniverse, 2007.

Everson, Jeff.  True Or False.  The tight tan slacks of Dezso Ban.  30 Sept 2008.  Web.  25 Jan 2014.

Gallagher, Marty.  Grippaldi the Great: How to Train the Overhead Press.  1 Aug 2013.  Web.  25 Jan 2014.

Gallagher, Marty.  Phil Grippaldi: Boy Wonder.  Starting Strength.  2012.  Web.  24 Sep 2014.

McKeen, Jay.  Heavy Metal Days.  Cimarron Review.  May 2012.  Web.  24 Sep 2014.

The Lemmy Of Strength Sports- Inside The World Of The USAWA #2

Posted on: September 16th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments

As we covered in the previous installment of this series, all-round lifting is about as popular in the strength world as an obese woman in a thong is on a Miami beach.  Part of the reason behind this, one might surmise, is the complete ignorance of the vast majority of lifters that all-round lifting exists.  The only magazine to acknowledge the existence of the sport is Milo, which though awesome could hardly be described as well-known.  In spite of their obscurity, the competition lifts of the USAWA / IAWA seem like they might be fun to try.  That said, one could write the coolest fucking book on the planet, but who gives a shit if it’s printed on newspaper in the back lot of a porn shop in Detroit?  No one’s ever going to have the chance to read it, so the hilarity and awesome inside will languish in some sticky, unlight corner of Detroit’s back alleys… just like all round lifting.

As such, it’s time to get the word out about odd lifting, as it’ll serve a s a break from the tedium of doing the same things over and over in the gym, if nothing else.  There are over 170 contestable lifts in the USAWA, ranging from the commonplace to the comical to the ridiculous.  I’m not going to bore you guys with the complete list of lifts and how they’re to be conducted, because that’d be a waste of everyone’s time and the USAWA handbook, which contains all of the lists, is available online if you wish to check it out.Instead, I’ll just cherrypick some oddities and obscurities you might find interesting, compelling, or at least a pleasant distraction for whatever boring bullshit you happened to be doing before reading this.

Allen Lift: As many of you know, I’m a hell of a researcher, and I take my research seriously.  In spite of that fact, I occasionally come up short- the only place I could find any information on this lift at all was in the USAWA rule book, so I have no idea who this is named after, when people started doing it, or why.  As for what it is, it’s a sit-up from the ground with arms locked overhead, holding weight.  If the bar moves inside a straight line from hip to shoulders or arms bend, the lift is disqualified.  In that way, it’s similar to a competitive stone lift I’ve written about before from India.  Lest you think there are people out there with abs that make Ross Enaimit look like a doughey chump, no one in the IAWA has used more than an unloaded bar for this, and most lifters are considerably weaker than that.


Arthur Lift: The Arthur Lift is so named, if you couldn’t guess, because it seems to emulate a trick lift Arthur Saxon used to do in his act.  That lift, however, used a powdered ovoid bag with no corners to grab filled with flour, and one end of the bag had a loose, heavy block of iron in it to make grabbing and balancing it more difficult.  Edward Aston stated of the Saxon Sack, “I do not believe that any man in the World, save Arthur Saxon himself, could lift and carry off his sack in the manner on which he insisted. This style compelled one to grasp and lift the sack from the floor to the knee, then to the thighs, and thence to the shoulder and finally overhead” (Aston).  That sack weighed 280 lbs, and the other sack used for similar competitions the Apollo sack, was heavier and had to be walked off stage on the lifter’s back.  Apollo’s sack, however, could be raised any way the lifter liked, so both Aston and Saxon lifted it by laying on the ground and pulling it onto their back, then standing with it.  The Arthur Lift seems to be a weird Sci Fi Channel monster-style chimera of the two lifts mixed, and it appears (very anecdotally), that Saxon himself did 386lbs on this movement.  Modern lifters haven’t come close to that- record lifts range from 105kg to 135kg between the 65kg and 105kg weightclasses, and superheavies (who outweighed Saxon by at least 40 lbs) have only managed 135kg.  Essentially, if you’re moving 200-300 lbs on this lift, you’re a bona fide Chuck Norris-esque hardass and likely grow a full beard in a single day.  You also have way to much fucking time on your hands if you’re doing this silliness with any regularity.

Danny Padilla, “The Giant Killer”, busting out a sick 225lb cheat curl at a bodyweight of around 180lbs- a 1.25x BW curl!

Cheat Curl with 5′ straight bar.  Before you scoff at the picture above due to indoctrination propegated by halfwits on internet messageboards, bear in mind that Arnold was famous for doing these and was quoted as saying “cheating barbell curl stands alone for building mass” (Muscle and Fitness Editors).  Not even the USAWA give a shit if this turns into a bizarre reverse power clean- Arnold started this lift with a huge forward lean and then ripped the fucking bar up in a half swing/half hip thrust aided reverse grip clean.  Per the USAWA, the lifter stands upright at finish of lift, but there is no rule about how the rest of the lift is conducted- just get the fucking bar up and eat a steak so you can bath in the gainz that are surely coming.  In competition, spotters can lower the weight after the “Down” signal.  If you want metrics for what’s awesome, the tiny 55kg guys are curling 62.5 kg, and the range pretty steadily increases by weight class to 110kg for the superheavies.  or the ladies, the grouping is much tighter- ranging from 42.5 kg to 50 kg between 50kg and 105kg in bodyweight.

Strict Curl.  This record might still be held by none other than rambling, jacked Youtube sensation CT Fletcher, who busted out a 225 lb strict curl with a cambered bar about 25 years ago.  Since then, the there’s not really been a single federation or a single source to determine who’s the best at the lift, so I doubt anyone’s sure who the superheavyweight record holder actually is.  In the USAWA, the lifter’s ass and upper back must stay in contact with wall, and they must use a 5′ bar (the fed CT set his record in allowed a cambered bar).  Spotters can lower the weight after “Down” signal.

1 Person 1 Finger On Each Hand Deadlift:  A favorite of Hermann Goerner, I can attest personally to the fact that this lift fucking hurts.  You never know what true soreness is until your fingers are swollen and achy from one finger deadlifts.  Well, I would surmise it’d be not unlike the saddle soreness a chick might get after a 100 man gangbang.  Yeah, it’s that painful.  In competition, the spotters can lower weight if need be, so the lifter really just needs to get the weight to lockout.

The IAWA actually contests this lift with each one of the fingers (I cannot imagine trying to deadlift with pinkies only), so if you want to give some of these a shot and see how you stack up, go here.

Ziegler Clean: Quite frankly, I cannot imagine how in the fuck this lift could be completed- it’s a clean while balancing a 2.5 lb plate on your head.  If the plate falls, it’s no lift.  In an effort to locate the source of this lift, I came up empty.  The only possible attribution one could give this lift is to Dr. John Ziegler, who was the physician who came to be known as “the Father of Dianabol” after supplying Bob Hoffman’s lifters with gear in the 1950s.  Ziegler wasn’t just some pasty-faced nerd, though- at 6’4″ 240lbs, he met Hoffman’s lifters in a Maryland gym.  While I can’t state definitively that this goofy nonsense was thought up by the man responsible for the proliferation of steroids in the US, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility (Fair).

Judd Clean and Jerk: This, for me, is a recipe for disaster- I have all of the balance and grace of a drunken Andre the Giant.  As such, attempting a clean and jerk while standing on one foot seems on par with Hitler’s decision to make a three pronged attack into Russia.  Normal people who aren’t as wide as they are tall might enjoy this lift- frankly, I have no idea what normal people enjoy.  If you want to give the Judd a shot, you just follow the rules of the normal clean and jerk, but must be done on a single leg only, and your non-lifting leg cannot touch the ground or your body at any time.

Kneeling Military Press: Being the witty motherfucker I am, I prefer to think of this as the Gloryhole Press.  As you can imagine, it’s just a strict press from a kneeling position.  The lifter must clean the weight from the floor while kneeling, then press without excessive layback.  For the skeptical amongst you,  I’ll remind you that world destroying strongman and log press world record holder Zydrunas Savickas (499lb log press) is famous for doing seated overhead presses on the floor, in the rack.  As I lack the flexibility to sit on the floor like that, this seems like a viable alternative.

Miller Clean and Jerk: The Miller clean and jerk is an odd one- it’s an ultra painful clean and jerk using only the middle fingers of each hand, and only a couple of lifters in history have beaten his 135 lb effort in this lift.  Wilbur Miller was a top ten heavyweight in the US at Olympic weightlifting, and for a while was the world record holder in the deadlift at 242 with a 725 pull.  For any of you who’ve seen the ancient, deep dish York plates in an old gym, it’s said that Miller was the reason York ditched them- he couldn’t fit enough weight onto the bar to max out (Myers). In any event, if you manage 135 in this lift, you’re kicking the ass of an American strength sports legend, and if you can hit 167 you’ve beaten the heaviest effort ever recorded on this lift.

Jackson Press: Named after one of the founding members of the USAWA and rival lifter to the aforementioned badass Wilbur Miller, the Jackson Press is so named because USAWA lifter Wayne Jackson was famous for his 300lb reverse grip clean and press.  Some of you may recall this seemed to be a popular lift in the US for some time, as John Grimek is legendary for having nearly been beaten in a competition at that lift by a drunken, geriatric longshoreman.  The Jackson Press omits the clean, though, and is simply a press from the racks, using a reverse grip.  Start position for the lift is with the bar on the chest, at least two steps away from the rack.  At the press command, the lifter presses, and holds the bar at lockout until they receive a down command.  No world records are listed for this one, but if you find yourself in the 70+kg range, you’re in with the world record holders on the reverse grip clean and press.

Scott Lift: In spite of diligent searching, I’ve no fucking clue where this exercise comes from- even the USAWA admits it’s obscure.  It is, however, a Zercher Lift that starts with the the lifter on their knees with the bar placed in the crooks of the elbows.  If need be, momentum can be built by rocking the bar back and forth, but the lifter must stand with the bar in the crooks of their elbows.  This is basically the USAWA’s lifting version of Kuato from Total Recall, if you could imagine making Kuato even more disgusting and less easy to understand.

Kelly Snatch: This lift is also known as the Reverse Swing and is as obscure as it looks painful.  Looking at this lift, I’m wondering if the USAWA lifters would start jamming sewing needles into their taint and rose stems up their urethra to get an extra 50 lbs on their bent press if they discovered Albert Fish secretly broke Saxon’s record.  Granted, is it worth trying out with a dominatrix just in case?  Probably, but that still wouldn’t have me in the gym doing Kelly Snatches, which seem far more likely to rip my shoulders out of the sockets than they do useful.  In any event, for these, the bar is behind the lifter on the floor, as in an Arthur Lift.  Grip width and foot placement is up to the lifter, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. Then, through a combination of bad decision making, double jointed shoulders, child sacrifice, and sorcery, the bar is somehow teleported at arms length over the lifter’s head.  No world records are listed for this bad boy, either, presumably because people really like having full use of their arms.

That’ll do it for now, as you’d not imagine how much random research goes into hunting down these lifts.  I’ll hit you guys with another installment of wacky lifts soon, however, just in case you’ve got a bug up your ass to crack a world record in a sport not even the guys at your gym are aware exists.


Aston, Edward.  The physical superman.  The Superman Magazine.  Dec 1930.

Fair, JD.  Isometrics or Steroids? Exploring new frontiers of strength in the early 1960s.  J Sport Hist. Spr 1993;20(1):1-24.

Glassman, Greg.  The odd lifts.  The Crossfit Journal Articles.  Jan 2003;5:1-3.

USAWA Official Rulebook

IAWA World Records.  IAWA.  8 Jan 2012.  Web.  16 Sep 2014.

Myers, Al.  USAWA Official Rulebook.  8th Ed.  Web.  16 Sep 2014.

Myers, Al.  Wilbur Miller.  USAWA.  16 Apr 2013.  Web.  16 Sep 2014.

Smith, Art.  Wilbur Miller, power perfectionist.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  24 Sep 2009.  Web.  16 Sep 2014.

Van Vleck, Thom.  Wayne Jackson: chasing strength.  USAWA.  20 Dec 2013.  Web.  16 Sep 2014.

Insecticidal- Getting Jacked On A Zoophagous Madman (aka Renfield) Diet

Posted on: September 8th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments
“R. M. Renfield, aetat 59. Sanguine temperament, great physical strength, morbidly excitable, periods of gloom, ending in some fixed idea which I cannot make out. I presume that the sanguine temperament itself and the disturbing influence end in a mentally-accomplished finish, a possibly dangerous man, probably dangerous if unselfish” – John Seward.

It’s pretty rare, even in the modern era, that one refers to a 59 year old man as either having great physical strength or of being “possibly dangerous”, provided his name isn’t John Grimek and he’s not carrying a loaded firearm.  RM Renfield, however, was considered to be both, in an era when life expectancy in the United States was right around 45 years.  Sure, you might say, but RM Renfield wasn’t a real person, so this conversation is about as useful as pixelated Japanese pornography.  Not so, however, because I’m going to take a leap of logic and ascribe the great strength and dangerous nature of Renfield’s character not to a flight of fancy, but rather to his diet.

Anyone who’s seen a Dracula movie is familiar with Renfield’s diet- he’s the dude crazier than a bag of wet cats eating mealworms in the lunatic asylum.  Tom Waits apparently munched on one in the filming of the cinematic travesty Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and though that had most viewers in the West recoiling in horror, it happens that 80% of the world’s population eats insects as a part of their regular diet.  In fact, it’s only the pinkies-up-when-quaffing-our-champagne developed Western world that doesn’t partake of our exoskeleton-clad friends, as we can afford far more expensive protein sources than insects (Michels).

They love their bugs in Thailand.

The practice of eating arthropods (non-seafaring ones), which modern science refers to as entomophagy, is shared by all primates and is ubiquitous to every corner of the world.  Over 3,000 ethnic groups around the world are known to engage in this practice, and the number of creepy-crawlies they eat makes the “diversity” of my own diet seem laughable- I never even considered the fact that there were over 1,400 species of meat-sicles for me to eat, but then I despise seafood and generally stick to beef and chicken (Ramos-Elorduy 13, 44).  As you might have noticed by my qualification, most people are already used to eating one type of arthropod- crustaceans.   The other three types, insects, spiders/scorpions/horseshoe crabs, and trilobites, are all related edible species.  Well, one would assume trilobites would be edible, but they’re extinct.  In any event, eating arthropods is hardly unknown in the West.

The Club of Rome is Full of good news.  Don’t worry- this is how we’re going to hang onto our gains in the coming apocalypse.

Though it’s become very popular among the effete and the “green” to advocate the consumption of insects as a protein source, just as the Club of Rome nuts advocated soy as the savior of all mankind in the 1970s, Western authors have been advocating for the consumption of insects at least as far back as the 1880s, with the publication of Why Not Eat Insects?  As many of us in the strength community, at least those in the know, are averse to faddism, one might otherwise shy from a discussion about insects as a protein source- once something is advocated in the New Yorker, most skeptics turn a blind eye.  This concept, however, has both precedent and merit, as the consumption of insects is so common and in many cases lauded.  Why then, do we shun the shit that crawls on shit, in spite of the fact that half of the modern world under 40 has seen 2 Girls 1 Cup?

I’d venture to guess most people would react the same way to a plate of live mealworms as they would to that video.

Damned if I know, because by all accounts, insects are good eating.  “Because of their exoskeleton most insects give off very little odor and, therefor, smell has little influence on palatability.  Conversely, this same shell greatly influences texture.  Insects are crunchy and the act of chewing, couples with the resulting salivation, carries with it great oral satisfaction, similar to the pleasure of eating pretzels or crackers.  The exoskeleton is chewable and is actually an excellent source of fiber” (Ramos-Elorduy 16).  After spending time in Cambodia, Angelina Jolie stated that her kids were eating crickets “like Doritos” because they loved them so much (Angelina), and the wealthy housewives of Mexico City flock to upscale restaurants for a dish referred to as “Mexican Caviar”, which is actually boiled ants’ eggs (Armstrong).  Dubious?  This dish, known as escamoles, was selling for $25 a plate in 1999, which means it’s running closer to $35 these days if one adjusts for inflation (Defoliart 36).   White “gusanos”, or maguey worms, which are larvae of the skipper butterfly, sell for the same price, and the harvesters of those two insect dishes are the richest people in rural Mexico (Defoliart 37).  Apparently, eating bugs is literally the tits.

I am psychically sensing that no one is as yet on board with this idea.  Would it help to know that ancient Romans, conquerors of the Western World, ate snails and referred to grasshoppers, which were eaten incredibly frequently, as ‘four legged fowl’” (Brothwell 66, 70)?  Or that ancient Greeks, rampaging through East Asia on an empire-building mission led by the inimitable Alexander, thought cicadas were one of the world’s great delicacies (Brothwell 70)?  Eating snails in the desert could actually keep you alive in lieu of finding a water source, as a snail common to Libya, the Eremina, would be sufficient to enable survival for days if eaten in sufficient quantity (Brothwell 67).  Not in the desert but trying to get ripped?  Fried termites are the ultimate keto food- their exoskeletons provide fiber, and the rest of them is 44% fat and 36% protein, and rocks hard as a caloric belly bomb at 560 calories per 100 grams (Brothwell 68).  On a hike through the desert, leaving the granola at home and bringing a big bag of snails and another of fried termites would have you crushing trails like you’re a one man Badwater Ultramarathon.

Judging by those scars, Edward James Olmos got less ass in high scool than I did, which is impressive.  How do you get negative amounts of ass?

I realize that this is, quite literally, hard to stomach- the thought of eating insects is more repellent than Edward James Olmos’s acne scars.  I can attest, however, to the fact that ants actually taste pretty awesome.  In a hilariously failed effort to get small children to leave me alone at a backyard party- I tried to gross them out by eating ants.  I ate a hell of a lot of them.  Instead of grossing them out by eating what essentially taste like tiny little lemonades, the little shit machines decided I was officially the coolest adult on Earth, and they proceeded to collect a wide array of bugs for me to eat.  As I had no interest in having a live grasshopper in my mouth, I declined.  The memory, however, still serves to remind me that bugs definitely taste better than you’d think.  According to people braver than I, here’s what the most popular edible insects taste like:

If I were trying to sell beetles to people as food, this is not the posterchild I’d pick.  Nevertheless, there aren’t many picks of Westerners happily munching beetles, so you fuckers will have to settle for a forlorn Sub-Saharan African.
  • Beetles.  Most beetle larvae taste like pork rinds, and those from aquatic environments have a fishy flavor (Ramos-Elorduy 20-21).  One type of beetle, the sago palm weevil, is supposed to taste exactly like bacon (Strochlic).
  • Butterflies and moths.  These are, thankfully, always eaten in the larval or pupal stage.  Their flavor depends on the environment where they lived and the manner in which they’re prepared- some taste like chicken, others like codfish and herring.  The white agave (the worm at the bottom of bottles of mescal) is the most popular insect in the world from a luxury standpoint- a kilo of them costs $32-$35 (Ramos-Elorduy 21).  Like the white agave in South America,caterpillars are considered delicacies in southern African countries. Because it eats nothing but bee wax and honey, the wax moth caterpillar / wax worm, apparently tastes like an enoki mushrooms mixed with pine nuts (Strochlic).
  • Bees, wasps and ants.  Wasps are known for their pine nutty flavor.  Bees, however, range in flavor from pine nuts, peanuts, or almonds.  Ants are almost always nutty, though certain species have a citrusy flavor (Ramos-Elorduy 23)
  • Grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts. Grasshoppers are the most consumed type of insect in the world, and their flavor depends entirely on their method of preparation (Ramos-Elorduy 24).  Some people describe cooked locust as similar to smoky bacon, which most of you should get excited about (Dubois).  Africans call them “desert shrimp”, though, and claim they taste quite a lot like the locust’s sea faring cousin (Murray).  There, the dip fried locusts in a chili powder called yaji (the recipe for that is here), and it’s basically become one of the most sought-after protein sources in Nigeria in recent years. As such, I’d start here or with ants and a bunch of sriracha.
  • Flies and mosquitoes. The flavor of flies depends on where they were raised.  Flies raised on cheese (like in Sardinia) taste like cheese, while ones from water environs taste like duck.  Fresh mosquitoes taste like fish (Ramos-Elorduy 24)
  • Water boatmen and backswimmers. I grew up calling these things water striders, but irrespective of what you call them, their eggs are known as Mexican caviar and taste like fish when fresh and shrimp when dried (Ibid)
  • Stink bugs. Horrible as it would seem to eat one of these noxious motherfuckers, they’re damn good for you.  They possess anesthetic and analgesic properties, and add an apple flavor to sauces.  Additionally, they contain iodine, which is awesome for people in regions where it is not readily available (Ibid).  Just don’t eat them raw, or the toxins they contain might kill you.
  • Witchetty (witjuti) grubs.  Apparently these are only found in the land of Crocodile Dundee, but the larva of the cossid moth has been a staple in the diets Aborigines for centuries.  These little high protein, mobile boogers taste like almonds, and when cooked their the skin becomes crisp like roasted chicken (Food).
  • Tarantulas.  Having seen wolf spiders up close, all I can think when approached by a spider as big as my fist, all I am capable of is complete arachnid destruction.  For those of you who can stave off the “destroy everything” Hatebreed-esque respond and just stick to simple murder, tarantulas are said to taste like to soft-shell crab or shrimp (Strochlic).  As I hate seafood almost as much as spiders, I’ll leave that to you lunatics to test.

What’s weird in the above list is that the favorite of internet weirdos, paleo outliers, super-green non-vegan psychopaths, and every bizarre foodie on Earth is the mealworm.  When looking for Thanksgiving Day recipes, I happened upon 10,000 recipes involving mealworms, for no reason whatsoever.  Mealworms are apparently the shit.  They can be eaten live, they can be pan-fried, or you can do what most people do- dry-roast those nasty little sons of bitches.  Dry roasted mealworms would make for excellent post-apocalyptic food, if nothing else- roasting removes most of their moisture and retains all of their nutrition.  On top of that, they apparently taste just like peanuts, but lack the allergens that have housewives all over America shitting their collective pants (even though it’s half as common as bee sting allergy), and their macro nutrient and amino acid profiles ball harder than P Diddy in a room full of ATMS and big bootied white women.  Mealworm meat compares incredibly favorably with red meat, as mealworms average between 45-55g protein, 40-57g fat, and 1.4-2.3g fiber per 100g of dry weight.  As for aminos, they contain more of every amino strength trainers care about (especially leucine) than beef:      

(T. molitor = tenebrio molitor = mealworm beetle)
Please disregard the hilarious mispelling of “beef”.  Not sure who fell asleep at the wheel proofing this academic paper.


As I don’t own anything ironically, don’t wear tweed, and cannot stand indie rock, I’ve not yet tried eating mealworms.  Since I lack that hipster street cred, I’ll just relay the preparation methods for mealworms I’ve found in case you’re curious:

“Dry roasted mealworms can be salted or dipped in chocolate and eaten as a snack, sprinkled on salads, and added to soup. They taste a lot like peanuts and can replace nuts in cookies, cakes, and other desserts. Since roasted worms are brittle, they can be ground and mixed with flour when you bake muffins, pancakes, or bread. The different ways these insects can be added to recipes is almost limitless.

How to dry roast mealworms
Place your live mealworms in a colander and toss and rinse them under cool water. This is to remove any food and substrate from the worms. Be sure to pick out any dead worms or pupae.

Pat the worms dry with paper towels, place them in a container or plastic bag, and put them in the freezer for about fifteen minutes. This will quickly kill the worms.

Spread the mealworms out evenly on a non stick cookie sheet. If you are worried that the worms may stick, you can lightly grease the sheet.

Place the worms in an oven at 200 degrees and bake them for one to two hours until they are dry and crispy. Some people do not like the smell of baking worms and prefer to cook them outside on a gas grill set to a low temperature” (Mealworm).

If worms aren’t your bag, it’s not just mealworms that crush red meat in a battle to protein overdose induced kidney-failure death- insects in general hand beef and chicken a pretty stout ass whipping.  They’re crazy high protein, keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, organic, naturally fed, free-range, and the only carbs they contain are fiber, so they have no chance of throwing you out of ketosis.

For most of you, this will have absolutely no impact on your life- you’ll just carry on eating the same poorly fed, poorly treated, factory farmed animals… as will I, likely.  This information is likely going to fall into the “good-to-know” category, then, but if you ever find yourself in a situation wherein you’re heading facefirst into catabolism without a helmet fashioned from an array of protein bars, you know know you can get your anabolism on ancient Greek and Roman style.  One thing to note, however, is that not all insects are edible.  Though the list I’m about to give you (Bryant, “How”, seems pretty much a full listing of insects, it’s apparently not. I’m not an entomologist and don’t pretend to play one on TV, so I’m not even going to make an attempt to help you identify the safe ones.  

They are, however:

  • Anoplura – lice
  • Orthoptera – grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches
  • Hemiptera – true bugs
  • Homoptera – cicadas and treehoppers
  • Hymenoptera – bees, ants and wasps
  • Diptera – flies and mosquitoes
  • Coleoptera – beetles
  • Lepidoptera – butterflies and moths
  • Megaloptera – alderflies and dobsonflies
  • Odonata – dragonflies and damselflies
  • Ephemetoptera – mayflies
  • Trichoptera – caddisflies
  • Plecoptera – stoneflies
  • Neuroptera – lacewings and antlions
  • Isoptera – termites 

Given that most of us couldn’t tell a caddisfly from a sparrow, you might want to bear in mind the following little rhyme if you decide to much on bugs:

“Red, orange yellow, forget this fellow.
Black, green or brown, wolf it down”

(Bryant, “Entomophagy”).

It’s also best to avoid eating overly colorful bugs or bugs with a strong odor (Bryant, “Entomophagy”), as that sort of gay pride parade style flamboyant is intended to warn predators they’ll get fucked up if they try and fuck with the bugs.  If that’s all you have for eating, just boil, roast, or smoke the bug.  Boiling is the safest way to kill of toxins, but roasting or smoking should serve the same purpose, and any kind of cooking will vastly improve the taste and texture (Bryant, “Edible”).


So there you have it.  Bugs, they’re what’s for a ketogenic, paleolithic, green, socially conscious dinner- third world tested, hippie approved.


Angelina Jolie admits her children eat insects.  Mai FM.  20 Jul 2011.  Web.  4 Sep 2014.

Armstrong, Hilary.  Ant’s eggs, Mexico.  MSN Travel.  Web.  4 Sep 2014.

Brothwell, Don R.  Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples.  New York: Prager, 1969.

Bryant, Charles W..  “How Entomophagy Works”  15 April 2008.  How Stuff Works. Web.  3 September 2014.

Bryant, Charles W.  How can I tell if a bug is edible? How Stuff Works.  14 April 2008.  Web.  8 Sep 2014.

DeFoliart GR.  Insects as food: Why the Western attitude is important.  Annu. Rey. Ennmol. 1999;41:21-50

Dubois, Sirah.  The Nutritional Value of Locusts.  Livestrong.  24 Oct 2011.  Web.  3 Sep 2014.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Edible Insects: Future Prospect for Food and Feed Security.  Fao Forestry Paper.  Aug 2013;171:67-89.

Mealworm Care.  Web.  3 Sep 2014.

Michels, Spencer.  Bugs for dinner?  PBS. 7 May 2012.  Web.  2 Sep 2014.

Murray, Senan.  In pictures: Desert shrimps.  BBC News.  Web.  3 Sep 2014.

Nutritional Value of Various Insects per 100 grams.  Iowa State Entomology Department.  Web.  3 Sep 2014.

Ramos-Elorduy, Julieta.  Creepy Crawly Cuisine.  Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.

Siemianowska E, Kosewska, Aljewicz M, Skibniewska KA, Polak-Juszczak L, Jarocki A, Jędras M..  Larvae of mealworm (Tenebrio molitor L.) as European novel food.  Agri Sci.  May 2013;4(6):287-291.

Strochlic, Nina.  Cicadas, Grasshoppers, Locusts, Ants Among the Tastiest Insects.  The Daily Beast.  14 May 2013.  Web.  3 Sep 2014.

The Lemmy Of Strength Sports- Inside The World Of The USAWA

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments

Of all of the bands in metal, one stands out as forever existing in the conversation, though you’d be fucked if you had to find a die-hard fan of the band- Motörhead.  Formed in the mid-1970′s, Motörhead’s been hailed as one of the seminal heavy metal bands, and are credited with being the progenitors of thrash metal.  In spite of the fact that metal fanboys will namedrop Motörhead for any reason or none at all, you would be hard pressed to find a person who can name a single Motörhead song beyond The Ace Of Spades, and only then because the hard rock anthem was in three Rock Band releases.

The singer of Motörhead, Lemmy, is the only human whose appearance could be compared with that Chinese Hairless that won World’s Ugliest Dog a few years back.  Known affectionately by his fans as “The Warted One”, Lemmy is to rock star good looks what a gelatin tuna salad mold (yeah, people ate that shit in the 1960s, apparently) is to delicious comfort foods, and his face is to Ben Affleck’s what krokodil is to Adderall.  Beyond that, the man drank at least a bottle of Jack Daniels a day for 37 years, and essentially lived off LSD and speed for the entirety of his career, which might not account for his face but should earn him a trip to a medical think tank to determine what sorcery gave his heart and liver better longevity than a naked mole rat.

Looks more like the kind of guy who’s fucked a handful of chicks in the dumpster behind fast food joints, and might occasionally land the diner waitress with some hard miles on her face, a speed habit, and a bunch of C-section scars than the white Wilt Chamberlain.

In spite of the fact that his music is generally unmemorable, he’s uglier than a can of smashed assholes, and he consumed massive amounts of every substance commonly believed to make your dick limper than Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wrists, Lemmy’s banged over 1200 women.  While many of them were likely of the brown snaggletooth, massively bespectacled, infamously ugly 1970′s British variety, that’s still quite a feat.  Oh, and did I mention the man credited with inventing speed and thrash metal has stated in numerous interviews that he fucking hates the genres of music with which he’s credited?  If Jesus had only managed to convert colonies of syphilitic hermaphrodites and subsequently decided that Mithraism was far cooler than modern Christianity, it still wouldn’t do justice to Lemmy’s quizzical actions.

If I entered one of their meets, I am betting I would be struck my lightning as I tried to enter the venue.

Like Lemmy and Motörhead, all round lifting and USAWA/IAWA (United States All-Round Weightlifting Association / International All-Round Weightlifting Association) don’t play nicely with the strength sports to which their traditions gave birth.  Instead, all round lifters seem to inhabit their own niche miles distant from powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and strongman- instead of raving about massive numbers and brutal training regimes, the USAWA guys are handing out courage and sportsmanship awards (no shit- it’s as if their organization is run by a kindergarten teacher who lives next to a trophy shop) and discussing the weirdly massive age ranges of their competitors.  Nowhere on the USAWA website will you find anything with a BR00TAL or extreme theme- everything is tidy and polite, nodding respectfully to the drunken lunatic strongmen of the past as if they’d actually hang out with them if, say, Saxon were to stumble into one of their gyms demanding a barrel of beer for himself and another for the people in the gym, and then lifting random shit until everyone else collapsed from exhaustion, they’d be super psyched he’d vomited all over their platform.

Grimek busting out an exercise of which I’ve never heard- the Kelly snatch.

Weirder still, one sees very little crossover of athletes from USAWA into the other three disciplines, or vice versa.  Despite the apparent likeness of the two sports, it’s not been widely publicized if a strongman ever made a crossover into USAWA.  Instead, the sport is content to garner the occasional mention in Milo… which is a far cry from its roots as the beginning of organized strength sports competition in the Western Hemisphere.

Though its roots are in the late 19th and early 20th Century, all-round weightlifting as an organized sport began in the US in 1985, when groups of odd lifts aficionados from the US battled lifters from the UK.  Lifting competitions at the turn of the century were formal affairs often contested for decent sums of money, but they had no set format.  Instead, the contestants, usually two, agreed upon a number of lifts, then determined the winner when one lifter defeated the other in more events.  In that way, it was much the same as how strongman events are contested now.  With the resurrection of the Olympics, weightlifting became a bit more organized, as the focus shifted to one and two hand versions of the snatch and clean (and for one Olympics, the swing).  Perhaps due to the fact that fun and the Olympic lifts are more akin to matter and anti-matter than anything else, informal lifting competitions persisted locally as “odd lift” competitions, which also included a physique round to determine the overall winner (Salado).

Only a people as awesome as the Germans would turn the deadlift into a drinking game.

Though the competitions were a far cry from those of the Bavarian beer gardens half a century and an ocean away, lacking both the standout lifters and large crowds, odd lift competitions flourished in the US in the 1940s and 1950s (Ibid).  With no set program of lifts, the participants themselves chose the events, which ranged widely between power lifts, Olympic lifts, and bodybuilding movements, the points from which were then added to the evening physique competitions to determine a winner (Salado).  Now, before you channel your inner Leslie Chow and shout “HA! GAAAAAYYYY!” at the screen, bear in mind that these competitions, while small and local, were incredibly popular.  So much so, in fact, that the godfather of Olympic weightlifting and evil authoritarian overlord of strength sports, Bob Hoffman, decided to destroy them.

Terry Todd busting out the world’s first 700 lb competition squat.

Awed by the lifting feats of Terry Todd, who at the time was the strongest man in America not named Paul Anderson, Grimek had taken a shine to what were then being called the “power lifts”, as the bench press, deadlift, and squat started to pull away from the odd lift contests (Fair 212, Sutphin 413).  Seeing powerlifting as the best method by which Hoffman could counter Weider’s growing legion of oily man magazines, Hoffman founded Muscular Development as a powerlifters’ training and diet resource (Fair 215).  He had, however, an even more nefarious goal- to destroy the sport of odd lifting, which he saw as a threat to his beloved Olympic weightlifting.  According to Hoffman, “there were not enough Olympic lifters in America and that physique and odd-lift contests were ‘killing our chances of victory’ in international competition (Fair 216).  To that end, he advocated upright rowing and behind the neck pressing for “power-lift” programs and sponsored the first two national powerlifting meets in 1964 and 1965 in an effort to force lifters’ hands into choosing a side (Ibid).   If that seems to be counter-intuitive to you, as it would seem that powerlifting would simply steal great lifters from Olympic lifting, you’re not the only one.  This would be like a Christian pastor decrying the loss of straight men in a bar to a club for bisexuals and deciding to sponsor a homosexual-only bathhouse and promote the gay lifestyle as a stop-loss.

Hoffman celebrating the death of odd lifting in the US.

Predictably, odd lifting was all but dead by the 1970s (History).  Like the martial arts masters of China going into hiding in the mountains when the Qing took power to refine their arts while living in caves, odd lifting aficionados retreated to the dusty corners of forgotten gyms and practiced their art in secret, awaiting a day when they could again pit themselves against other lifting Renaissance men.  One of these men was Ed Zercher, the guy for whom the zercher lift is named.  Ed was well known in Missouri for helping any young lifter in the area, and they all trained in Ed’s dungeon basement.  For those of you who know what a zercher lift is, it will come as no surprise that Ed’s gym lacked a squat rack, so it stood to reason that he and his lifters would begin to keep track of the weird shit they did, just so they had a metric against which to measure themselves.  It was this small group that eventually formed the basis for the USAWA, training in a tiny gym in a backwoods town, doing lifts of their own invention, those they’d heard about in passing (like the zercher lift, which Ed heard of being referred to as an elbow squat and started using), and those they had read about in the books of turn of the century strongmen (Van Vleck 99-100).

An ancient and wizened Zercher- like a leg pressing Yoda in a singlet.

For some reason, these pasty subterraneans eventually came into contact with other groups of like-minded, anachronistic, Morlocks.  Over the first few years of the 1980s they had enough of a cohesive structure that groups of odd lifters from both the US and the UK made contact, and by 1987 the first international odd lifting competition took place.  For whatever reason, the sport’s gained very little traction in the interim, but like Lemmy and Motörhead, the mere fact they seem anachronistic isn’t necessarily a reason to ignore them altogether.

Ever the egalitarian, Lemmy on women: “Women, they’re the same as me, with tits. If they want to be crazy, well, that’s all right, because I’m a little crazy myself sometimes.”

Here’s where it gets tricky, though, because the number of lifts that can possibly be contested in the IAWA borders on ridiculous.  A rival organization, the Odd Lift Strength Association, had a much shorter list of contested lifts, but appears to have been dead for the last few years.  Their competition lifts numbered only 25, and none of them seem esoteric enough to deserve a mention in a Dennis Miller monologue.  By contrast, the IAWA’s website lists no fewer than 170 movements, many of which are likely only known to a few people on the planet.  That is not going to stop us from finding out just what the fuck it is these guys are up to, however.  So, next time, we are going to delve into the lifts of the odd lift movement and see if we can figure out why that entire sport is consigned to a possibly interconnected, Viet Cong-style series of basements in the Midwest.


Fair, John D. Muscletown USA: Bob Hoffman and the Manly Culture of York Barbell.  University Park:  Pennsylvania State Press, 1999.

History of I.A.W.A. (UK).  IAWA.  Web.  29 Aug 2014.

Salado, Julio.  From Odd-lifts to Power-lifting: Boston’s weight lifting pioneer Archie Burgess.  Fitness Foundry.  10 Aug 2013.  Web.  29 Aug 2014.

Sutphin, Paul.  Powerlifting: The Total Package.  Bloomington: Authorhouse, 2014.

Van Vleck, Thom.  Do You Zercher?  Milo.  2009 Sep;17(2):98-103.

Cut me, Shoot me, Kill me, But Don’t Bore Me, Bro

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments
(Guest Author and Full-Time Asshole, Grimmtano contributed this one)

Truth be told, I’ve very little interest in watching or keeping up with most sports.  I like participating in them as a few games of football is a great way to put some hurt on your boys for talking shit all week.  Also, I’ll hit the road to head back to the yearly Auburn/Alabama Iron Bowl to get wasted with college students while I’m still young enough not to be that creepy old guy on campus.  Otherwise, I haven’t had a boner over a Super Bowl or World Cup in years and even when I did, it was because the broad next to me was wasted to shit wearing the shortest skirt known to man and bragging on how many cocks she can fit in her mouth at one time (I’ve known some sluts).  I’ve attended one baseball game in my life and I debated tossing myself and the people who made me go there right off the top of the stadium.  Americans are some boring bastards if that is truly is our national pastime [Ed. Note: According to the Harris Poll, "In 2014, 35 percent of fans call the NFL their favorite sport, followed by Major League Baseball (14 percent), college football (11 percent), auto racing (7 percent), the NBA (6 percent), the NHL (5 percent) and college basketball (3 percent)", so America is doing a-ok].  

Pro wrestling’s “Superstar” Billy Graham representing at the WSM.

My opinion of strength sports is about the same.  With the small exception of World’s Strongest Man (and even that gets stale compared to the older competitions), weightlifting and powerlifting bore the living fuck out of me to watch.  While I’m sure a few shit sipping retards just spit out their $100 paleo protein shakes at that statement, I’m confident that there are many that will agree that jerking off to a donkey banging a midget is a far more intriguing thought than sitting through a powerlifting competition webstream. 

Samantha Wright only has so much drawing power.

There are some that would like to see powerlifting or weightlifting presented in the same mainstream manner as American football.  That’s cute.  It’s not fucking happening, but it’s cute.  As a consumer of entertainment, which is exactly what mainstream sports are, I can go to my local gym and get all I’m ever going to want to see from a powerlifting/weightlifting meet.  There aren’t any killer plays, very few “come from behind” victories, no one kicking your leg out from under you during a squat, and these days if you even try to start a rivalry, PC internet pansies will white knight you out of existence.  The only real difference between a meet and what any fucktard does at a gym is the presence of a crowd watching you and I’m confident I can draw a bigger crowd anywhere without paying $100 if I yell, “Hey!  Watch this, pussies,” at the top of my lungs and attempt to hoist the nearest fat woman over my head.  Even if I fail to accomplish that, dropping said fat woman and the police chase afterwards will definitely make me some some Youtube fame and money and still be more interesting than most meets.

Until Jesus squats 700lbs at 148, no one cares.

Something I find lacking with meets, from a casual viewer’s standpoint,  is the lack of clear adversarial competition.  So many competitors I read about state that they are, “competing against the weights and not other people.” Well, that’s cool if you’re into that zen bullshit but I’m not paying money to come see you do your best David Carradine impression on the platform unless it involves hanging yourself whilst jerking off into the crowd.  I don’t care about your favorite weightlifter’s personal journey, philosophy,  and how much that saddie loves him some Jesus.  I’m here to see someone kick ass, leave the defeated butthurt and crying, and roll out to the titty bar victory party and subsequently get arrested on prostitution charges by vice cops.  That’s the American fuckin’ way and one would be delusional to think that humming Barry White songs while lifting some weights for free protein powder is more interesting than a coked out football player hitting people so hard they spin three times in the air before hitting the ground and, subsequently, peeing on him! Look, you don’t pay cash just to show up and put your numbers up on a public chalkboard.  That’s retarded.  You come to win.  If you lose, just say you lost and you’ll do better next time.  But don’t expect the audience to pay to come view a bunch of dudes losing and going into some New Age chant about it.  I rather listen to 13 years olds scream homophobic slurs on Xbox on a loop instead of seeing that bullshit.

Pretty straightforward.

Powerlifting has so many federations and different rules that a casual passerby would have no idea why some guy’s squat didn’t count without you pulling out a 500 page manual explaining it to him.  Weightlifting isn’t much better as it’s the strength sport version of golf with all the silence and monotony to boot.  That isn’t even my opinion.  Random booty call number five made that observation as she was cleaning herself up for the night.  She literally had no idea of the amount of weight being lifted, who they were lifting against,  why a weight didn’t pass when it looked OK, or “why they keep doing the same thing all the time?  This is dumb.”  I don’t know every rule in football but I can watch it and still have fun because the core game is simple.  Bitching about an inch here and there turns the viewer right the fuck off, especially when one fed passes the lift and another one would not at all. 

I’ve never heard of a fight at a powerlifting weigh in.  These guys destroyed the entire press coference set.

Now, before you think I’ve completely lost my mind posting this on Chaos and Pain, there are two groups that have gotten the entertainment aspect of strength sports right: strongman and, unsurprisingly to me, CrossFit.  Those two events have individuals or teams clearly matched up against each other, varied events to avoid viewer fatigue, athletes that look like people you’d want to have hot sex by a fire with and not the fat dude at McDonald’s, and there are signs of mild rivalries that don’t require researching Twitter for 3 nights straight to know “they gots beef, yo.” 

And they’re bringing back the tandem deadlift?  Awesome.  Inb4 internet lifting gurus weaker than these chicks criticize their lift.

CrossFit, like it or not, does have a central ruling body in their HQ.  While you may not like their HQ, it is far easier for people to understand what is going on when there is generally ONE fucking rule set!  I can sit down, not knowing jack shit about CrossFit, but quickly grasp what is going on.  Strongman shares this quality as well in the World’s Strongest Man competition.  The competitors are clear, the events are easily understood and it’s exciting to see two mammoths side by side pulling cars and cheering for your guy to go for that last rep to win!  

Rivalry is a big draw in sports.  Hell, the WWE is literally rivalry opera.  Strongman of the 80’s was the shit not only because of Bill Kazmaier’s and Jon Pall Sigmarsson’s strength but the fact that they seemed to hate each other guts while they competed! They were showmen and knew that we want to see champions having a clash of the titans before our eyes, not two huge dudes hugging each other lovingly talking about how much they respect each other and their new curtain setup at home.  Even some of the CrossFit broads call each other out on Twitter and probably get all bitchy at the games…then make out later.  All 40 of them.  What?  Fuck you.  That’s hot.

Strongmen competing against sumo.  Strongman knows how to put on a show.

I can’t get behind the powerlifting going mainstream idea because it’s just not exciting enough to be appealing to the majority of people.  It is fun to lift and it’s great when you have a group of people that feel the same.  But to the rest of the people outside of that immediate circle, squatting a weight once and waiting around an hour to watch you do it again is not entertaining.  If it isn’t entertaining, Nike isn’t going to sponsor you and Lululemon can’t make yoga pants big enough to fit that 300lbs ass anyway so they are definitely going to tell you to roll the hell on.  Frankly, altering the contest to something of a strongman or heavier CrossFit style would seem a decent idea to the problem.  Sure, cut all the cardio and seizure looking pullups.  But instead of just having max lifts, have a three lift record event.  Put the overhead press back in.  Shit, go crazy with it and toss some sumo wrestling in after the main events a la 80′s Kazmaier for shits and giggles.  People will come to see giants make fucking spectacles of themselves and living large. While you may hate CrossFit, they had some good ideas in what makes a strength sport fun to watch.  

Meanwhile, in powerlifting, everyone’s yammering about the “value” of humility.  Blech.

If you want the sport to go mainstream, then it just can’t be about the numbers.  Legit personalities have to emerge that can put up big numbers, pull a crowd and know how to handle big sponsors.  I mean, goddamn, Arnold Schwarzenegger is still the de facto weightlifting personality and that fucker will be pushing 100 years old soon.  He was spot on in Generation Iron that most lifters essentially have the personality of wet cardboard covered in cat shit.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s lifts pale in comparison to the elites but i bet your grandma knows him and has a mulatto dildo with his fucking name on it.  Why?  Because he knows how to talk to people and pump them the hell up!  Even if he’s hated, he’s still known.  Powerlifting and weightlifting have been around longer than CrossFit and people will actually come up to a lifter and say, “oh, you CrossFit” if they see him/her overhead press or front squat.  

Powerlifting would have trouble comining every meets’ crowd for three years to match a single CrossFit Games crowd.

You want mainstream?  Well, the sport may have to alter from its current form to become more appealing.  Fat people will have to lose weight.  The competitors will have to be interesting and exude a love of awesome in all forms.  If the people that want it to be mainstream don’t want to see it from outside their box, then it will remain niche.  That is probably for the best if being pure is the aim.  But goddammit, don’t bitch and moan about the CrossFit Games or the WSM having a spot on cable TV if you refuse to bring anything interesting to the table.  You are ignoring the most important thing that CrossFit and WSM has now: the massive crowds.   If they are not entertained, your sport is nothing.  If you want a stadium full of people, alter the sport or use powerlifting as a training tool  for CrossFit/strongman.  Otherwise, accept that your sport is small but it means something to you and drive on.  Just don’t be that sagget on a message board whining about your sport not being mainstream because no one gives a shit.  Roll it.

Baddest Motherf*ckers Ever: Henry “Milo” Steinborn

Posted on: August 19th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments

For the vast majority of you, Henry “Milo” Steinborn is (erroneously) the inventor of the squat.  As I’ve mentioned in my weight lifting history “There Is Nothing New Under The Sun” series, however, that’s absolutely not the case- the barbell squat has been around in the fashion Milo Steinborn did them since the middle of the 19th Century.  “What fashion?”, the less well educated and sadly confused among you might be asking.  This fashion:

Having cleared that up, Henry Steinborn might not have invented the squat style subsequently named after him, but he was definitely the greatest of all time at it.  Lacking a rack out of which to squat, Steinborn loaded up a barbell with 553 lbs, up-ended it, dropped that quarter ton onto his back at the bottom of a squat, and powered out of the hole with it.  No person before him had ever come close to that record, and it’s only been in the last decade or so that anyone has done so since (IAWA World Records).  Steinborn was so far out ahead of his peers in the squat that at one point the richest man in the world at the time, Jean Paul Getty, took notice of Steinborn and ended up paying him a considerable sum when Steinborn busted out 33 reps with 315 at a bodyweight of 205, presumably after betting him that Steinborn couldn’t break 30 reps with 315 (Strossen 5).

Before you turn into a smug little Dennis Miller impersonator and start blabbering an esoteric list of relatively unknown people who can do that off the top of your head, bear in mind that Steinborn did them from the floor, and he was the world’s first squat specialist.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate- Steinborn was an all around badass who made lifting historian David Willoughby shudder and spontaneously climax when Steinborn’s name was mentioned- he just also happened to be the world’s greatest squatter at a time when the squat was about as well known and understood as electrical light.  According to Willoughby, Henry “Milo” Steinborn was a super athlete who “manifestly possessed the requisite combination of strength, speed, agility, and endurance” to be considered one of the greatest lifters of all time, (Strossen 5) and whose awesomeness exceeded so far beyond the limits of human comprehension that the man correctly predicted the year of his own death decades before he died (Orlando Sentinel).

Henry Steinborn’s Stats

Height: 5’8″

Weight: 205 lbs.

One Hand Snatch: 218 lbs.

Two Hand Snatch: 247 lbs.

Clean and Jerk: 375 lbs.

Squat: 553 lbs.

Strict Curl: 175 lbs. x 5 reps

One Hand Jerk: 255 lbs. 

Looking at the numbers above, you might be thinking, “So?  Who givers a shit?  Plenty of 200 lbers can move those weights.”  Indeed, they can.  Using today’s rankings, Steinborn would only be ranked 110th in the world at 198 lbs… but that fails to take into account that the Berg barbell had only been existence for a short time and was hardly the finely lubed, smoothly rotating, springy-steeled wonder of engineering with which modern lifts are completed.  Additionally, Steinborn wasn’t an Olympic weightlifting specialist, and he put up those numbers when the lifting world was still trying to figure out what in the hell Olympic weightlifting was.  Put more strongly- Steinborn and behmouth Louis Cyr went back and forth taking the world record in the clean and jerk until Steinborn accidentally clean and jerked 375 (he’d asked for 350 and the bar was misloaded to 375).  At that point, Louis Cyr was considered untouchable in strength sports, and he’s still considered by many as the greatest strongman of all time.  Steinborn beat the man badly by accident- he wasn’t even really trying.

The closest thing the world will ever see to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: From left to right, Henry “Milo” Steinborn, Olympic weightlifter John Terpak, Mr. America and former world record holder in weightlifting Steve Stanko. badass heavyweight champion boxer and wrestler Primo Carnera, first man to win world championships in three different weightclasses and Olympic gold medalist Stan Stanczyk, and weightlifting and bodybuilding legend John Grimek at the York Weightlifting Club.  Steinborn and Carnera were passing through to go to a wrestling match in Baltimore and decided to hang out with Hoffman’s guys for a bit.

While that was not an official record (Steinborn was a professional strongman and was ineligible for the Olympics), no one on Earth at his weight came close to a 375 clean and jerk for nearly half a century, and it was only super heavies who could get more weight overhead in any fashion for decades.  If Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Barry Sanders, Jim Thorpe, and Mariusz Pudzianoski all ejaculated into a blender and created a delicious, frothy milkshake of elite man goo to pour into a heavily sedated Ronda Rousey, the kid they produced would not be as dominant in any sport as Steinborn was in lifting in the first half of the 20th Century.  350+ lb Karl Swoboda was capable of continental and jerking 401 lbs, and Paul Anderson managed to put 400 overhead in a clean and jerk weighing even more than his fat German counterpart, but it wasn’t until John Davis hit 390 lbs in 1948 that anyone in Steinborn’s relative weight class was able to best the German superman in the clean and jerk.

Ronda Rousey… NOMZZZ.

At this point, you might be thinking we should all move to French Guinea and start a cult with a taste for Koolaid to bring about the second coming of this wondrous beast of a man, but I’m not even halfway through a comprehensive retelling of Henry Steinborn’s epic Santa Claus bag of awesome.  Henry Steinborn was born in Siegburg, Germany in 1893.  Not much is known about his upbringing, but Steinborn’s introduction to training came in the most unlikely place imaginable- he learned to lift in the four and half years he was Australian prisoner of war after he was captured in World War I (Strossen 5,8).  Life in post-war Germany blew- inflation was through the roof as the Germans were saddled with massive reparations payments, and life for Steinborn basically consisted of trying to make a buck by entertaining people with his lifting.  Unlike the modern, communist, vegan, skinny jean clad Germans, early 20th Century Germans spent their evenings in the pub, in the back of which were were barbells so the men who’d spent all day shoveling coal or hauling pig iron in a factory could get hammered and test each other in drunken feats of strength (Strossen 5).

Steinborn lifting at Hermann’s Gym, the site of which interestingly enough, is only two blocks from my brother’s cupcake shop.  

As incredibly awesome as that sounds, Steinborn realized that earning money that was worth less than the paper on which is was printed was pointless, so after coming in second to 5’2″ 220 lb Karl Moerke in the German National Championships in 1920, he stowed away on a ship to the US and applied for citizenship as an economic refugee (Ibid).  By 1921 Steinborn’s name was already well known in the US, as Steinborn had broken three world records in front of Alan Calvert at Hermann’s Gym in Philidelphia (Orlando Sentinel, Klein).  After an intervention by Arthur Saxon, who convinced Steinborn there was no real money to be made in exhibition lifting, he adopted the nickname Milo (because of his affiliation with Calvert and the Milo Barbell Company), and proceeded to wrestle in over 300 ultra-violent catch style matches in every corner of the world from 1922 to 1953.

That elephant appears to be the opposite of psyched.

Steinborn wasn’t done blowing off faces with nightly displays of weightlifting awesome, however- apparently snapping limbs every night wasn’t enough of a challenge for this Teutonic Destroyer Of Hopes, Dreams, and Limbs.  Under contract for Pepsi in the 1940s, Steinborn had to squat at least 400 lbs at every performance, and Steinborn often participated in what has been described as “one of the most lethal fighting arts the world has ever known” twice a day… when he was over the age of 50 (Strossen 7).  At the 1950 World’s Fair, Milo backlifted an 800 lb elephant while wearing a suit (at age 57), and busted out another 400 lb squat for an audience when he was 70 (Strossen 8).  All of this is even more incredible considering Steinborn had his had and legs crushed when his famous leg bridge feat, in which 5000 lbs of car and people traversed a bridge Steinborn held up with his legs, went horribly awry in 1926 (Boff).  Exactly 0 shits were given and no excuses made, and the dude who had been squashed 60 years prior was still squatting 300 into his 80s (Ibid).

Milo weighed around 170 when he was 92.  Here, he’s in his 80s and looking better than 3/4 of the people in any gym you visit.

I think at this point, we all understand- Henry “Milo” Steinborn was indeed one of the greatest strength athletes, and without a doubt one of the baddest humans to ever live.  To what, then, can we credit his badassery?

  • he started out as a gymnast.  Due to his background in gymnastics, Steinborn had great flexibility, body control, and balance.  This ingrained the necessity for good form, so conscious thought was unnecessary while lifting (Strossen 8).
  • he was concerned with overall health.  Steinborn sunbathed regularly, took a lot of long walks, and ate a ton of protein (Strossen 8-9)
  • he was obsessive about training through a full range of motion, and abhored cheating on any movement (Strossen 9)
  • he wasn’t a disgusting fatass- Steinborn showed the world that muscular “development, speed, and technique” are what makes good lifters, rather than massive bulk and retard strength (Strossen 7).

Given his rigorous traveling schedule and the fact he had to perform feats of strength so regularly, Steinborn had no training routine.  According to his son,

“Before he did any heavy lifting he did some stretching exercises.  He had an exercise stick that he used for stretching and calisthenics.  He did dislocates on the rings.  He could do giant swings [on a high bar]” (Strossen 8).  

Lifting, then, generally consisted of the quick lifts- one arm snatches and clean and jerks, then the two hand lifts (Strossen 9).  The one exercise he always did was, of course, the “squat- it was the foundation, whether he could do any overhead lifting or things like that.  The squat was like the fountain of youth- he could keep going back there and rejuvenate himself” (Strossen 7-8).

From those descriptions, Steinborn’s training seems no more out of the ordinary than a girl pissing in my mouth on the first date.  The apparent banality of this training methods, however, stand in stark contrast to his eating style, which is so bizarre it borders on unbelievable.  As I’m not one to be a contrarian simply because there’s no video of the feat on Youtube, and given Steinborn’s amazing muscular control in his wrestling and strength feats, I shall treat the following as both possible and true.   Henry “Milo” Steinborn could, according to eye witnesses, chew food without swallowing and bring up individual pierces of that food at will, to then masticate and swallow.

I am not making this up, and one author thinks this may have played a role in Steinborn’s success, though i would contend it’s just evidence of Steinborn’s preternatural ability to control his own body.

“Shortly after that we had gone to dinner and I witnessed his method of eating. On this occasion he had eaten boiled onions and steak. He had bolted it down in a tiny fraction of the time I required to consume my own dinner. As I watched him swallow his food in great chunks I thought, what is this? I had always read that strong men were deliberate eaters. They chewed their food well, keeping it in their mouths as long as they could while reducing it to the smallest possible particles. But here was something new. I didn’t ask Steinborn about it because I had only met him and did not feel that I knew him well enough to interrogate him concerning his eating habits.

A few minutes later we were walking down the street and I noticed his jaws moving methodically. “What are you chewing, Mr. Steinborn?” I asked. “A piece of steak,” was his reply. I wondered where he got the steak, could he have a rubber pocket in his coat and have slipped part of his dinner in there? Then Steinborn said, “It’s a gift I have to be able to eat hurriedly and then bring the food up for more thorough chewing. Do you want to see me bring up the onion?” He showed me that his mouth was empty and then almost immediately a big, white onion popped into view. He chewed this carefully and swallowed again. “Now do you want to see a piece of steak?” and then he brought up another piece of steak” (Schmidt).

Second from left next to the human the man with the impossibly skinny-fat arms, Karl Moerke.  Presumably, this was taken after the 1920 German National Weightlifting Championships in which Steinborn took second.

Bob Hoffman, who was then the coach and sponsor of the US Olympic Weightlifting team, apparently stated in his book Better Nutrition that “Steinborn swallowed 24 hard-boiled eggs, bringing them back up one at a time for thorough mastication” (Ibid).  In yet another account, Alan Calvert claimed Steinborn could bring up individual pieces of lettuce from a salad at will (Ibid).  Yes, I know it sounds insane, but “washing out his stomach”, as Steinborn referred to it, ensured healthy digestion and good overall health (Ibid).  Whether or not it did so, it is certainly further proof of Steinborn’s badassery.

The feat of strength that nearly killed him when he was 29.

So, there you have it- Steinborn could outsquat everyone on the planet, kicked ass at the Olympic lifts in spite of only having a few years of practice at them in a POW camp, was a prolific and dominant wrestler, and had control over his digestive tract the likes of which the world has never seen.  Not only that, but the man had longevity- he was still asking people to jump off of tables onto his ripped six pack at age 92 (Boff), three years before he died the exact year he’d predicted and had carved onto two watches at the ripe old age of 95.  Not bad for an illegal immigrant prisoner of war, eh?

As hard as I try not to use images, this one was unavoidable.  Apparently no one wanted to photograph Moerke’s disgusting fatbody.

A random aside:

While Steinborn gets credit for being one of the sickest squatters of all time, and he is, the aforementioned real life troll doll Karl Moerke deserves some notice.  Though shaped like a trashcan at 5’2″ 220 lbs, Moerke was an unequivocal lifting badass.  He “bounce squatted” 650 lbs, which apparently meant he cut the lift short but did it otherwise in the same fashion as Steinborn… making him ostensibly the better squatter, Facebook comments regarding depth notwithstanding.  He also represented in Olympic weightlifting, rocking the following lifts:

  • Right hand snatch 187 lbs 
  • Right hand continental jerk 248 lbs 
  • Two hands snatch 231 pounds lbs 
  • Two hands military press 265 lbs 
  • Two hands continental push 308 lbs 
  • Two hands continental jerk 386 lbs 
  • Squat (bounce style) 650 lbs 
  • Dead lift 650 lbs


Boff, Vic.  Reminiscing about Henry “Milo” Steinborn.  Iron Game History.  Web.  18 Aug 2014.

Grimek, John. Unforgettable Moments. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 7 Dec 2008. Web. 19 Aug 2014.

Henry ‘Milo’ Steinborn, 95, Weightlifter, Promoter.  Obituaries. Orland Sentinel. 11 Feb 1989. Web. 18 Aug 2014.

Klein, Sigmund. My Quarter Century in the Iron Game – Chapter Three. The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 7 Feb 2009. Web. 19 Aug 2014.

Schmidt, Bob.  Henry Steinborn.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  21 Mar 2009.  Web.  19 Aug 2014.

Strossen, Randall J. Henry “Milo” Steinborn: A conversation with Henry Steinborn, Jr. Milo. Apr 1993;1(1)4-9.

Willoughby, David P. Karl Moerke.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban. 8 Aug 2008. Web. 19 Aug 2014.

F The Treadmill 2.5- Answering Sundry Questions About Tanning And Sunscreen

Posted on: August 13th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments
Tanning does a body good.

For the sake of my sanity, since I’ve been running myself ragged this week, I am just going to address the questions I’ve received in re the last article as a question and answer format.  While I expected a lot of blowback on the previous series, I honestly didn’t expect it about something as innocuous as doing what every human prior to hardline Judeo-Christian faiths overtook the West and Near East has done- which is to say, get a tan.  Quite frankly, I’m not certain when people started viewing glorified pimple-poppers as the saviors of all mankind who are never to be questioned, but I suppose every day is a new day in which I can be even further disappointed by humanity as a whole.

One would think this topic might garner a bit more attention, especially in the strength training world, as I’d posit most of us are vain enough to warrant the use of a snorkle every time we peer into a pool of water to check out our swole status, but apparently the world at large disagrees.  What we do know for sure, however, is that tan people are considered more attractive (at least in the Western world- I’m aware it has negative class connotations in other cultures), and given our communal narcissism, that information should make you perk up a bit (Chung).  Thus, without further adieu, the questions and comments I received.

If the chick in Thanatomorphose has just gotten a fucking tan instead of rocking that SPF 100, this whole movie could have been avoided.

“Sunblock DOES NOT cause cancer. Halfwit” and “What sunscreen ingredients should we be avoiding then?”

I don’t know that I ever stated sunblock absolutely caused cancer- instead, I stated that it was carcinogenic.  As I mentioned, many sunblocks contain carcinogenic substances, and others, like phenylbenzimidazole and titanium dioxide particles, cause DNA damage in rats (Yu).  All of that sounds like a big bag of not-fun to me, especially when one considers that most of the shit that blocks UV rays generates free radicals, and free radicals are basically cellular terrorists (Allen).  When compiling a short list of some of the carcinogenic substances in sunscreen, I took a look at the shit I had in my bathroom- Coppertone Sport SPF 15 contains oxybenzone, while Ocean Potion Sport SPF 30 (which I think is my roommate’s) contains the same.  I’m simply listing the stuff that was easy to find on carcinogens and sunscreen, but if you want to check out how horrible your sunscreen is, go here and search yours (mine were 4 and 5, respectively).  Here, then, is a short list of the worst shit to avoid in your sunscreen:

  • oxybenzone- This ingredient really is the biggie, but it appears that it’s in so much shit and causes so many health problems, it’s going to get you in the end anyway.  Oxybenzone has been linked to “allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage”, and in spite of the fact that studies show it to be toxic, the cosmetics industry seems to think it’s either indispensable or good for you (Allen, Nakajima).
  • benzophenone- Benzophenone, while not quite the bad, bad man that walks into the bar, smashes a bottle of the head of the first man he sees and rapes his girlfriend, then burns the bar on the way out, still sucks for you.  It’s been shown to cause DNA damage (Cuquerella), which should be considered a bad thing unless you’re putting all of your eggs in the “it’s a mutation that will turn me into a superhuman mutant” X-Men-style basket.
If only hippies would stick to failed social causes and leave the “science” and nutrition to thinking people.
  • octyl methoxycinnamate- Otherwise known as OMC, this is bandied about by hippie “science” websites as a “mutagenic toxic substance”, though like other hippie websites, an attempt at confirming that just led me into a Google ring-around-the rosie between sites that would smell of patchouli if sites could smell.  Despite the fact, however, that OMC is not the secret ingredient in the ooze that created the teenage mutant ninja turtles, it’s not great for you.  It’s not great at blocking out sunlight, and the “gene expression results suggest that the overall cellular response to DNA damage was significantly altered by OMC” (Duale)… and not in a good way.  This would be another substance to avoid.
  • retinyl palmitate- This one had me skeptical, frankly, because I’ve mentioned before I find the panic about Vitamin A toxicity to be even more overblown than Rex Manning’s dick.  A study by the National Toxicology Program, however, showed that retinyl palmitate increased the incidence of skin lesions and tumors, and decreased the life expectancy of the rats in the study.  While not nearly as compelling as the oxybenzone results, it’s worth noting that this stuff may have the potential to have you looking like a krokodil addict at some point.
I think Lass Suicide might actually be hotter pale than tan.

“Is melanotan acceptable for ginger Irish people who just burn and get more freckles in the sun?”

Melanotan II is an interesting substance.  You can purchase it from peptide resources as a “research chemical”, as it’s not gotten FDA approval and so it’s not scheduled.  It was developed at my alma mater as a method of inducing more rapid tanning, and thereafter produced the world’s first actually positive side effect in the history of pharmaceuticals- it works as an aphrodisiac and causes uncontrollable and random boners.  I suppose the reason it’s not being distributed for free on the street is that guidos and frat boys are tan and rapey enough, but for the rest of us, Melanotan II is basically manna from heaven.  Direct from Web-MD:

“Melanotan-II is POSSIBLY SAFE when used under medical supervision for treating ED (erectile dysfunction). It may cause nausea, stomach cramps, decreased appetite, flushing, tiredness, yawning, darkened skin, spontaneous erections of the penis, and other side effects” (Web MD).

In other words, have at it.

I do not miss working like this.  Jesus fuck, what misery.

“Any suggestions for UV producing lamps for those trapped in an office?”

This was an interesting question for me, because my knee-jerk reaction was “just go tanning, for fuck’s sweet sake.”  Tanning is, for me, intensely relaxing, provided you use a bed and not one of those bullshit standup contraptions.  you lay down, have a nap, and wake up feeling warm, fuzzy, and generally awesome.  If you happen to find a gym with a tanning bed, even better- pop your preworkout before you get in the bed, hit up a 15 minute nap, and come out fucking swinging.  As I mentioned in the first, ancient part of this series, studies have shown it gives a marked performance benefit.

That’s neither here nor there, however- you wanted to know about UV lamps.  I did some research, and it appears that the light boxes designed to treat seasonal affective disorder do not aid in Vitamin D production- those lights filter out UV rays (Stopa), and UVB rays are what get you tan and trigger Vitamin D production (Bianchi).  Thus, I dug deeper and discovered that they do make desktop tanning lamps you could have at your desk.  Apparently, the bigger appliance companies got out of the sun lamp business years ago due to liability, but you can still get stuff like the CalSun Facial Tanning Sun Lamp on Amazon.  It’s apparently not super awesome, but it’s better than nothing.

Tanning bed selfies are apparently a thing.

On the other hand, you have the Naturebright Suntouch Plus Light has gotten some badass reviews, is super ridiculously on sale on Amazon, and combines bright light and negative ions for mood improvement, but you don’t get the Vitamin D production or a bit of color on your pasty epidermis.  Frankly, I’d never heard of negative ion therapy, but studies have shown that both bright lights and negative air ions result in a 50+% improvement in mood for people suffering from depression (Goel).  So, using something like that will kill a couple of birds with one stone, though I still doubt it tops rubbing one out and napping in a tanning bed (wipe that fucker down when you’re done, if you would).

In re being an indoor worker- you actually appear to be at a higher risk of getting melanoma than outdoor workers (Godar).  UVA rays are the shitty, non-Vitamin D-inducing, cancer causing fuckers, and those pass through glass, while UVB rays don’t.  As a result, the incidence of skin cancer has risen steadily since 1940 in indoor workouts, but not people who actually work in the sun (Rivers).  As such, you might want to jump on some sort of tanning solution, stat.

I tired of looking for a soft-core milk bath pic, so I settled on a pic of the Turtles by my favorite comic artist in honor of this weekend’s release of the new Turtles movie instead.

“Pale girls are better though, should women instead increase vitamin D intake by bathing in milk and/or [original verbiage edited] enterically absorbing milk?”

Sadly, highly lipophilic vitamins like vitamin D have too many factors at play to determine whether or not they’ll be adequately absorbed in the intestine (Borel), but enteral absorption of Vitamin D has been successful in rats (Khamiseh).  This is happy news for me, as I thoroughly enjoy [edited version] introducing liquid excretions via micturation into her anal cavity and then requiring she hold it for the duration of the concurrent cunnilingus until she has achieved one or more series of rhythmic pelvic contractions, so if I double up on my Animal Pak, I could square her away on vitamin intake as well.  As to the bath, the answer there is going to be no- a plain old Vitamin D supplement taken orally should suffice if you’re not trying my unique enteric method.  Additionally, you could always try my plan with oral administration, if she’s into urophagia- just shoot for 1000-2000 IU of Vitamin D per day, which is what one of the professors of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University recommends (Giovannucci).

“I’m about the palest cracker on earth, and I’m in def considered ‘high risk’ for skin cancer (had multiple severe sunburns as a child, my father had a pretty bad case of melanoma and has had a lot of cancerous or pre-cancerous growths removed, etc etc). So I’ve always been the clam who hides from the sun and lubes up in sunscreen when I have to.”

Well, dude from the shitheap of a movie Powder, that sucks for you- a recent study showed pretty definitively that adult sunburns don’t seem to cause melanoma, but early-life blistering sunburns do (Wu).  You might as well start a skin-cancer savings account, just in case, because while melanoma isn’t exactly the most common thing (only 1 in 5,000 people ever has any incidence of it), you’re pretty much a rock solid case for getting it (SEER).  At least now, I suppose, you can just tan to your heart’s content- whatever damage is going to be done already has been, unless you start taking daily sunblock baths.

So, there you have it.  Questions answered, idiots silenced, and you guys got no boobies because this is the censored version.  In any event, you’re welcome.


Allen JM, Gossett CJ, Allen SK.  Photochemical formation of singlet molecular oxygen in illuminated aqueous solutions of several commercially available sunscreen active ingredients.  Chem Res Toxicol. 1996 Apr-May;9(3):605-9.

Bianchi, Helena De Souza.  Which sun ray is responsible for the production of vitamin D: UVA or UVB?  12 Jun 2012.  Wen.  13 Aug 2014. P.  Factors affecting intestinal absorption of highly lipophilic food microconstituents (fat-soluble vitamins, carotenoids and phytosterols).  Clin Chem Lab Med. 2003 Aug;41(8):979-94.

Campbell JA, Morrison AB.  Some Factors Affecting the Absorption of Vitamins.  Am J Clin Nutr. 1963 Mar;12(3):162-169.

Chung VQ, Gordon JS, Veledar E, Chen SC.  Hot or not–evaluating the effect of artificial tanning on the public’s perception of attractiveness.  Dermatol Surg. 2010 Nov;36(11):1651-5.

Cuquerella MC, Lhiaubet-Vallet V, Cadet J, Miranda MA.  Benzophenone photosensitized DNA damage.  Acc Chem Res. 2012 Sep 18;45(9):1558-70.

Duale N, Olsen AK, Christensen T, Butt ST, Brunborg G.  Octyl methoxycinnamate modulates gene expression and prevents cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer formation but not oxidative DNA damage in UV-exposed human cell lines.  Toxicol Sci. 2010 Apr;114(2):272-84.

Giovannucci, E.  Quotes on the State of Vitamin D Science, Reference to IOM Report.  Grassroots Health.  Nov 2010.  Web.  13 Aug 2014. DE, Landry RJ, Lucas AD.  Increased UVA exposures and decreased cutaneous Vitamin D(3) levels may be responsible for the increasing incidence of melanoma.  Med Hypotheses. 2009 Apr;72(4):434-43.

Goel N, Terman M, Terman JS, Macchi MM, Stewart JW.  Controlled trial of bright light and negative air ions for chronic depression.  Psychol Med. 2005 Jul;35(7):945-55.

Khamiseh G, Vaziri ND, Oveisi F, Ahmadnia MR, Ahmadnia L.  Vitamin D absorption, plasma concentration and urinary excretion of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in nephrotic syndrome.  Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1991 Feb;196(2):210-3.

Nakajima D, Asada S, Kageyama S, Yamamoto T, Kuramochi H, Tanaka N, Takeda K, Goto S.  Activity related to the carcinogenicity of plastic additives in the benzophenone group.  J UOEH. 2006 Jun 1;28(2):143-56.

NTP Technical Report on the photocarcinogenesis study of retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate in SKH-1 mice.  2012 Aug.  NTP TR 568.  National Toxicology Program.  Web.  13 Aug 2014.

Rivers JK.  Is there more than one road to melanoma? Lancet.  Feb 2004;363(9410):728-730.SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Melanoma of the Skin.  National Cancer Institute.  Web.  13 Aug 2014.

Stopa, Marsha.  Winter Blues Tip 3: Light therapy and Vitamin D don’t mix.  Winter Blues Coach.  12 Dec 2012.  Web.  13 Aug 2014.

Wu S, Han J, Laden F, Qureshi AA.  Long-term ultraviolet flux, other potential risk factors, and skin cancer risk: a cohort study.  Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Jun;23(6):1080-9.

Yu, JX, Li TH.  Distinct biological effects of different nanoparticles commonly used in cosmetics and medicine coatings.  Cell Biosci.  2011;1(19)1-15.

F the Treadmill- I’ve Got A Real Warmup For You #2

Posted on: August 6th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments
Can you imagine how many idiots would fuck this up trying to take selfies if this were reenacted today?

Since we’ve already covered the other parts of summer- namely, drinking your face off and smoking cigarettes and weed, we might as well cover the other important aspect of summer- tanning.  Like most things that people have considered to be a part of normal, everyday life for the entirety of human history, like drinking, eating red meat, putting salt on food, and having promiscuous sex, the powers that be have warned against sun exposure for the last 30 years as if sunlight was some new and horrible emission from space humanity had never faced.  While any thinking person would conclude that the hysteria about exposure to sunlight was, rightly, naught but the produce of gibbering, pants-shitting insanity, the slower ruminants among us have seen fit to slather themselves with opaque glop in an effort to prevent a single ray of sunlight ever reaching their epidermis.

Again, thinking persons should find this hilarious- after all, what the fuck do these cattle think they’re rubbing on their skin?  Natural botanical oils?  Not bloody likely.  Instead, these blubbering halfwits are slathering themselves in carcinogens to offset the extremely highly unlikely onset of melanoma- yeah, that’s right… EXTREMELY UNLIKELY.  According to the editor of Reuters Health, less than .3% (three tenths of one percent) developed melanoma, even in people who use tanning beds frequently (Oransky).  So, in an effort to avoid something that’s less likely than a woman dying during childbirth in North America, people are soaking themselves in oxybenzone, which has been linked to hormone disruption and cell damage that might cause skin cancer, and retinyl palmitate, which “may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight” (Dellorto, Problem).  Think you’re dodging that bullet?  you’re likely not- according to the Environmental Working Group, only “Twenty-five percent of 800 tested sunscreens are effective at protecting your skin without the use of potentially harmful ingredients” (Dellorto).  In other words, your odds are not good when using sunscreen.

If you avoid the sun, you avoid the sluts, and that’s bad business practice.

Oh, but consumer genius doesn’t end there.  When they douse their disgusting fat bodies in carcinogens, they don’t just expose themselves to an increased risk of cancer- the same people who slather themselves with sunblock are the ones who go out of their way to avoid sun exposure in general, which is awesome because that limits their Vitamin D production.  Studies have shown that melanoma patients with more sun exposure have an increased rate of survival over patients without intermittent lifetime sun exposure, that “intermittent sun exposure had a tendency to be inversely associated with the risk of death from melanoma” (Rosso), and that people with the highest concentrations of Vitamin D in the blood had the thinnest melanomas (making them easier to treat), greatest survivability of melanoma, and least incidence of melanoma (Caini).  In short, getting a tan is considerably healthier than looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost.

The benefits of irradiation in action.

As I stated long ago, here, there are plenty of performance benefits to tanning, otherwise known as “irradiation.”  Getting out in the sun has a shitload of benefits beyond those that help you on the platform, though- it promotes bone growth, prevents and treats tuberculosis, reduces “the risk of dying from Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic, prostate, and other cancers,” may decrease the risk of multiple sclerosis, lowers the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease, as well as hypertension and rickets (Mead).  It makes sense, then, that the old school strongmen loved sunbathing and recommended it to everyone- for instance, Saxon Trio loved sunbathing and did so whenever possible (Gaudreau), and champion strongman and wrestler George Hackenschmidt recommended naked sunbathing (Todd 11).  World class German trainer of strongmen Theodor Siebert had a specific facility built in his state-of-the-art school for physical culture (Wedemeyer 9), and Hermann Goerner was reputed to be an avid sunbather as well.  In the 1970s, much of the reason Venice Beach was the mecca of bodybuilding was due to the fact that the bodybuilders could train outdoors and then lay on the beach, and guys like Dave Draper, Arnold, and Franco were always found on the beach midday, between training sessions.

If never seen an ugly girl working at a tanning salon in my life.  I’m pretty sure it violates the Geneva Convention to hire one.

Think you’re fucked because you live in Seattle, Pittsburgh, the UK, or all of the frozen places from Scandinavia eastward?  Nah- all of that bullshit about the dangers of tanning beds are just that.  In a study conducted by Moan, et al, the evidence is quite definitive- “The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased CMM risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure.”  In the largest study ever conducted upon the use of tanning beds, in which over 106k women were involved, “less than three-tenths of 1 percent who tanned frequently developed melanoma while less than two-tenths of 1 percent who didn’t tan developed melanoma,” which is a significant increase from a pretty negligible chance to another pretty negligible chance (Veierød).  Plus, every tanning place on the planet is staffed entirely by hot, if orange, chicks of questionable morals.
In summary, you’ve got a month of decent weather left in most of the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s time to fill up the cooler and head outside, because getting a tan will leave you healthier and likely a better athlete than you are pale.  I realize this will cause a problem for the fatties amongst you, but that adds to the laundry list of reasons the Crossfit Games gave you to get your abs out into the open to get your fat ass in shape.  Fat, pale, and weak is no way to go through life, so take a page out of the guidos’ book and hit up some heavy benches, vodka shots, and the beach.


Caini S, Boniol M, Tosti G, Magi S, Medri M, Stanganelli I, Palli D, Assedi M, Marmol VD, Gandini S.  Vitamin D and melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer risk and prognosis: A comprehensive review and meta-analysis.  Eur J Cancer. 2014 Jul 30. pii: S0959-8049(14)00806-5.

Dellorto, Danielle.  Avoid sunscreens with potentially harmful ingredients, group warns.  CNN.  16 May 2012.  Web.  6 Aug 2014.

Gaudreau, Leo.  The Saxon Trio: What they ate & how they trained.  Natural Strength, from Muscle Power Magazine.  Web.  6 Aug 2014.

Mead MN.  Benefits of sunlight: a bright spot for human health.  Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Apr;116(4):A160-7.

Moan J, Baturaite Z, Juzeniene A, Porojnicu AC.  Vitamin D, sun, sunbeds and health.  Public Health Nutr. 2012 Apr;15(4):711-5.

The odds of serious risks that people can relate to.  Riskcomm.  Web.  6 Aug 2014.

Oransky, Ivan.  Tanning beds: What do the numbers really mean?  Association of Health Care Journalists.  7 May 2010.  Web.  6 Aug 2014.

The problem with vitamin A.  Environmental Working Group.  2014.  Web.  8 Aug 2014.

Rosso S, Sera F, Segnan N, Zanetti R.  Sun exposure prior to diagnosis is associated with improved survival in melanoma patients: results from a long-term follow-up study of Italian patients.  Eur J Cancer. 2008 Jun;44(9):1275-81.

Todd, Terry.  Muscles, Memory: and George Hackenschmidt.  Iron Game History.  Jul 1992; 2(3):10-15.

Veierød MB, Weiderpass E, Thörn M, Hansson J, Lund E, Armstrong B, Adami HO.  A prospective study of pigmentation, sun exposure, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in women.  J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Oct 15;95(20):1530-8.

Wedemeyer, Bernd.  Theodor Siebert: A Biography.  Iron Game History.  May/June 2000; 6(3):5-13.

More Than One Way To Skin A Cat- The 500 lb Bench Press With Mel Hennessey And Serge Nubret

Posted on: July 31st, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments


One of the most horrifying trends in powerlifting in the modern era is the tendency for most lifters to adopt the program du jour and then proceed to suck at lifting along with every other weaksauce dipshit blindly performing the reps and sets outlined therein.  Conscious thought among the average lift in powerlifting is completely dead, and it’s been replaced by dogmatism reinforced by scientific jargon that ultimately is as meaningless as the unused piece of flesh dangling between the knees of the male segment of those automatons.  Anecdotal evidence has become passe, and they’ll only do it if there exists a spate of peer-reviewed studies claiming that untrained lifters get some benefit out of whatever mysteries are contained within.


In short, most modern lifters are little more than robots with access to the modern internet but only outfitted with the hard drives and processors of Apple IIes, so their capabilities are limited to the first 256kb they could download.  They’re illiterate mongoloid children in search of the meaning of life inside the Library of Congress, and insisting that the meaning for which they were searching is contained inside the only book they were actually able to somewhat read.  They’re cripples, and someone needs to smack them in the face with a set of fucking crutches.  Luckily, I happen to have a pair handy.


Iowa State’s 2013 500lb Bench Press Club.  Roughly 10% of their team are 500lb benchers.  It’s not as rare as the internet insists.


Dogmatism about training methods and aversion to anecdotal evidence in training are about as sensible as booking a flight over the Ukraine.  Thus, I thought it prudent to dig up a couple of lifting routines from lifters who managed to press 500 or more in ultra strict form, just to give everyone an idea of how disparate methods could be to achieve the same lofty goal.   Notice, this is not an article about how a couple of choads cracked the 300 barrier, because frankly no one should really give a shit about that for more than a day or two.  400 is, of course, an incredibly elusive number for a lot of lifters, but 500 is really the number where jaws start to drop- 5 wheels clanging against each other as they conspire in a quarter-ton attempt to crush the person fighting them and gravity into a paste.  As you’ll see, it’s not the assholes who enter the gym with a 90 lb bag filled with $1000 in trendy prehab and rehab equipment, foam rolling their way to glory as they brandish their Chuck Taylors in a futile attempt to at least look the part- it’s guys who enjoy lifting and do shit their own way who eventually slam 500 lbs to arm’s length in ultra-strict form.


Pro wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino bench pressing 565 in what appears to be a completely do-or-you’re-fucking-dead type of situation.  Kim Jong-Un gets more support for his attempt to get a worldwide ban on The Interview than Sammartino appears to have had from his sawhorse/bench or spotters in this attempt.


Two of the guys who immediately sprang to mind when I think of 500 lb bench presses are actually from two different sports, but hail from the same era of flat-backed, elbows-flared, ultra-strict bench pressing- Serge “The Black Guy From Pumping Iron” Nubret and powerlifting legend Mel Hennessey.  Not only were their training routines completely unlike each others’, their chest days were so markedly dissimilar you’d find it almost impossible that Nubret was capable of a 500 lb bench press at 212 and Hennessey a 571 at 228.  This, in turn, should show you quite plainly that there is definitely more than one way to skin the powerlifting cat, and that anyone who tells you otherwise is a fucking moron.


Simply because I’m an asshole and want to make you people wait for the powerlifter’s program like you’re Rwandan refugees in a Ugandan aid camp waiting for food, I’ll start with the program you’re definitely not going to try- that of Serge Nubret.  At 6’0 and 212 lbs with arms that hung practically to his knees, the “Black Panther” boasted the leverages that would have any Redditor screaming to the heavens that even a 300 lb bench press was out of the question.  What Nubret lacked in r/weightroom-approved leverages, however, he made up for in weightlifting volume and intensity that smacked of insanity and could be construed as auto-terrorism.  Nubret trained six days a week, and while most of his contemporaries consigned themselves to a mere four hours a day of training, Nubret went a bit further.  According to Frank Zane:

“There were times,” recalls former onstage adversary Frank Zane, “when he would work out all day — literally. He’d get to the gym at 8 or 9 a.m. and train until noon or so. Then he’d go for lunch, and then he’d return to the gym to train for another few hours. After that he’d get dinner at 5 p.m. or so and come back for his nighttime workout. It would be a 12-hour day centered on training” (Perine)


Nubret trained chest twice a week, and although he never really had a set routine, he generally stuck to high reps and low weight, for tons of volume… and when I state he did tons of volume, I mean that literally.  Nubret was famous for doing 40 sets of 25 with 225, or even higher reps with 200 lbs (Perine).


Maniacal as Nubret was (he was reported to do all kinds of shit ranging from 20 sets of 20 and up to an hour of continuous benching with 135), Nubret himself stated that the following was really more of what he normally did (Perine).  What follows is far more similar to what most guys in the 1970s did- over 30 sets per bodypart, and enough reps to rival pumps in a marathon fucking session by a couple who both had Parkinson’s.


Bench Press: 8 x 12
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye: 6 x 12
Incline Bench Press: 6 x 12
Incline Dumbbell Flye: 6 x 12
Dumbbell Pullover: 6 x 12


Nubret busted that workout out twice a week, usually on Monday and Thursday, and the did his bench press assistance work for shoulders and arms on Wednesday and Saturday.  Resting only 30 or so seconds between sets, Nubret would blaze through the gym like a fucking forest fire, which makes it all that more incredible that he would remain in the gym as long as he did as often as he did.  Nevertheless, Wednesday and Saturday were a festival of pain from the rotator cuff downward, and looked like this:


Behind the Neck Barbell Press: 6 x 12
Alternate Dumbbell Front Raise: 6 x 12
Barbell Upright Row: 6 x 12
Cable Lateral Raise: 6 x 12
Barbell Curl superset with Triceps Pushdowns: 8 x 12
Dumbbell Curl superset with Triceps Dips: 6 x 12


As I stated above, Nubret was not wedded to a program or routine designed for a long-dead foreigner living so unlike his own it may have well from from another star system, and he rarely did the same workout from week to week.  This, then, is simply an outline of what a typical day might have looked like, all of which assumes The Black Panther didn’t get a bug up his ass to train his brachialis for 6 hours while singing patriotic French songs and nibbling on bits of horse.
Quick!  Someone tell Serge to tuck his elbows before he doesn’t have a bench press that embarrasses 99.7% of the people on the planet!


We come, then, to the other side of the coin- Mel Hennessey, who stood a mere 5’5″ but competed at 220 and 242 and moved some ridiculous poundages with what was by all accounts the most deliberate, slow, and precise form ever witnessed on the bench.  Interestingly, Mel Hennessey is described, physically, not unlike Nubret.  According to Verne Hollister, “incredibly and massively muscled that he could be a competitor for the most muscular title in a physique contest,” and according to Anthony Ditillo, “when it comes to thick, dense, heavy muscular development plus pleasing shape and the power to match, Mel Hennessey stands above ALL his contemporaries of the present day and his competitors of the past when it comes to physical impressiveness.”


Though he never competed as a bodybuilder, Hennessey didn’t train unlike a bodybuilder. He trained between three and six days a week, alternating what amounted to powerlifting and bodybuilding days.  If he was training six days a week, Hennessey would do all three power lifts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then assistance movements on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (Ditillo), and if he was training four days a week, he’d train heavy on Tuesdays and Thursdays and do “light” bodybuilding stuff on Thursdays and Sundays” (Hollister).  As you’ll see, “light” is an exceptionally relative term when it comes to Hennessey’s training, and no matter what the day, Hennessey always had the bench press in mind- it was his baby, and he treated it like a tiny little baby Jesus with bones made of glass and the brain of Stephen Hawking.

In spite of having his bench in mind at all times, Hennessey’s routines were as esoteric as those of The Black Panther.  Whatever he was doing on the heavy days, Hennessey would focus on the big three lifts, but he’d never know if he was doing low reps, high reps, or attempting a new max until he go to the gym.  Unlike some of the people you’ll read about who apparently never laid in bed at night and wondered , “what could I put up off the platform”, Hennessey was all about living in dreamworld like he just slid off the paint-spilled set of What Dreams May Come, and hit 590 on the bench in the gym right around the time he hit 571 in a meet.  Likewise, he bested his meet best on the squat (690) with a massive unwrapped 740, and pulled a full 45 lbs more in the gym than he did in a meet, all while casually demonstrating an easy set of ten with the 150s any time he decided to show off a bit and do some dumbbell clean and presses (Parrillo).

For his heavy work, Mel liked to mix it up like he was the unnamed founding member of Girl Talk.  After completing anywhere from 10-20 heavy sets on the big three, he would utilize partials in the rack, negatives, isometrics, and heavy supports (Ditillo Milo).  As he did with all of his movements, Hennessey kept his reps incredibly strict and deliberate, though that is not to say he didn’t train like a manic.  In the power rack, he’d pick a “zone” in which to work, and would begin by doing rep rep sets in that range of motion.  Over time, he would gradually increase the weight used in that “zone”, keeping his reps just as high until he was doing extremely heavy partials for high repetitions in what had formerly been weaker than a WHO aid worker in Liberia a week after their suit punctured.  Staying in the three to five range year-round is a mistake, according to Hennessey- high rep partials bring far more benefit than low reps due to their positive effect on tendon and ligament strength, and don’t come with the same joint pain and stiffness that low reps will give you (Ditillo Milo).


5’5″ and 240 lbs in this pic.  Dat thickness.

Hennessey’s light days resembled Nubret’s workouts more than your average “fuck machines and the fucking horse they rode in on” powerlifter might expect- Hennessey focused as much on appearance as he did on performance on those days.  He’d generally start with his “day brighteners”, which would include things like the good morning, working up to a single heavy set of five with 325, and then move onto his favorite lift- the close grip bench press, on which he works up to 360 for a set of five, jump setting with high rep lat pulldowns (Hollister) for between eight and rep reps of around twenty sets.  Yeah, that’s right- 20 or so sets of 8-20 reps, or between 160 and 400 reps on lat pulldowns.

Nor is he done there- sticking with his method of using ultra-strict form, just as he does on the bench press, Hennessey then loves onto lateral raises, starting with the 70s and working his way up to the 150s, and then polishes off his day with situps and barbell curls with around 125 for 3 sets of 6 (Ditillo, Hollister).  Though the exercises were never absolutely consistent, Hennessey always used a wide variety of dumbbell movements because they allowed much greater range of motion, which Hennessey believed would “give the muscular areas and joints will promote flexibility which will enable a more forceful contraction and explosion during the performance of a lift” (Ditillo).  They also allowed Hennessey to achieve his ultimate goal, which was a physique without any weak links- by training as a bodybuilder and working at a variety of ranges of motion, angles, and planes of movements, Hennessey ensured that there would be no tiny neglected muscle groups that would impede his progress due to omission, or the haughty shirking seen amongst powerlifters and American Olympic weightlifters these days, most of whom seem to think they’re too good and too strong to touch a cable or a Hammer Strength machine (Ditillo).

As this is an article about bench pressing, I suppose I might as well divulge Hennessey’s favorite bench press assistance exercises, lest you guys decide to abduct and behead me like I’d suggested to an ISIS fan that a caliphate in the 21st century was a pretty fucking stupid idea.  The movements Hennessey used to increase his bench were not unlike those found in any 1970s bodybuilding routine- heavy front dumbbell raises, ultra-heavy side lateral raises, lying laterals for rear delts, dumbbell concentration curls, dips, lying and standing triceps extensions (on which he worked up to a ridiculous 300 lbs), pushdowns, pulldowns, and bent over rows with dumbbells, on which he always started out light and finished with a set of 5-10.

Not unlike what some current powerlifters do, Hennessey would front-load his program with assistance work and then gradually reduce it as the contest drew near, to allow for more heavy bench pressing.  He felt that the assistance movements initially hold back your one rep max in the bench, but they build a very strong foundation, so when you reduce the assistance movements and focus more on the heavy singles, the increased mass from dumbbell work allowed him to handle far bigger poundages (Ditillo).  That is the problem with most lifters, in Hennessey’s mind- most guys avoid the assistance work at the beginning and focus too heavily on training the big three exclusively, which just leads them to hit their limits faster and limits their overall gains.  Training the way he did, however, steady and consistent gains over time were always coming.


So, there you have it- two examples of guys with completely disparate goals and physiques, yet they both managed 500 lb bench presses without the aid of dead Russians, stupid internet programs, form check videos, or ultimately useless information from Pubmed.  Instead, they built their badass bench presses through brutally hard work, doing what they enjoyed, and actively thinking about, modifying, and adapting their training to their needs.  Lemmings don’t bench press 500.  Bad motherfuckers do.  Stop being a tiny fucking rodent and get your honey badger on.

Ditillo, Anthony.  Bench Pressing with Hennessey.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  29 Mar 2014.  Web.  10 Jul 2014.

Ditillo, Athony.  The training wisdom of Mel Hennessey.  Milo.  1997 Mar; 4(4):96-99.

Hollister, Vernon.  Mel Hennessey, Bench Press King.  The Tight Tan Slacks of Dezso Ban.  21 Jul 2008.

Leistner, Ken.  History of powerlifting, weightlifting, and strength training- part 36.  Titan Support Systems.  13 Sep 2013.  Web.  10 Jul 2014.

Overhead Pressing with Barbells and Dumbbells: The Once and Future KING of Shoulder Development.  Parillo Performance Press.  26 Sep 2008.  Web.  17 Jul 2014.

Perine, Shawn.  The late Serge Nubret.  Musclemag.  Web.  21 Jul 2014.

Pride, Victor.  Serge Nubret’s Old School Workout Routine.  Bold and Determined.  2 Feb 2011.  Web.  31 July 2014.

Greatest Strength Athlete Of All Time Entries

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by chaosandpain No Comments
The most recent Chaos and Pain of the fast-and-furious giving-away-the-farm contests was to identify the “greatest strength athlete of all time.”  Entrants could offer up any person could have come from any corner of the strength training or bodybuilding world, and the top three answers earned the lucky submittors free Cannibal Davinci, Cannibal Genius, or Cannibal Inferno.  The following, then, are the entries and the winners, for your reading pleasure.

First Prize: Adrian Theroux on Dmitry Klokov

There have been a myriad of absolutely ridiculous and badass strength athletes throughout history.  From Arthur Saxon, the moustachioed circus monster; to absolute lifting scientists such as Bob Peoples; to Arnold, who’s inspired so many guys to start lifting, we probably wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now if it wasn’t for him.  However, the greatest strength athlete of all time, in my opinion, is also the most notorious strength athlete of our time: Dmitry Klokov.

The first reason why Klokov deserves this accolade is that he’s a total fucking rockstar.  Seriously, the guy lives in a mansion, his wife is basically a Russian supermodel, and he travels the world doing whatever the hell he wants, all while having a physique and lifts so awesome that he’s most likely the star of most weightlifters’ (male and female) wet dreams.  He has just as many videos on his YouTube channel of him going skydiving or doing interviews as he does of him lifting, and more views than CalStrength and MDUSA combined.  This guy gets paid a ton of money to lift weights and be a badass; he literally is living all of our dreams.

What else makes Klokov a total badass?  The fact that he gives exactly zero fucks.  This is the guy who decided to throw 4 years of training out the door and drop out of the London Olympics because he wanted to run another cycle.  This is the guy who decided he’d fuck around with Crossfit out of what can only be assumed is boredom with his own sport.  He then goes and does a bunch of seminars for American lifters who are all too busy bitching about USADA to actually lift anything heavy.

Finally, not only is this guy strong, but he’s innovative and downright nuts sometimes.  We’ve all heard of and tried the hard-as-balls Klokov press, well how about trying the Klokov deadlift?  There’s a video of him doing snatch-grip, stiff-leg, 4-inch deficit deadlifts with 400+ lbs.  May as well call that the “lumbar holocaust” because there’s no way you could do it with a straight spine.  He does snatch-grip front raises with 135… in the bottom position of a squat!  Oh, and did I mention that he can do the splits?  So not only is he strong as all hell, but he’s as flexible as Pauly Shore in Biodome.

In closing, what makes a great strength athlete is not necessarily the total weight on the bar, but the way in which said athlete lives their life, and how notorious they can be.  If people are talking about him/her, then they’re obviously doing something to break the mold and make an impact on the world.

CONGRATS!  You’re getting Cannibal Inferno, Cannibal Genius, and Cannibal Davinci!


Second Prize: Aladdin Awad on Jon Pall Sigmarsson

His name was Jon Pall Sigmarsson- a god amongst men. This Viking brute was not satisfied with merely dominating one strength sport, he had to obliterate the competition in all three. He started off his career by winning a Icelandic bodybuilding competition in 1984 (Wikipedia). Obviously not satisfied with just looking like a he further demonstrate his brute strength by dominating European powerlifting. Some of his record lifts include  an 804-pound raw competition squat, 815-pound deadlift and a 518-pound bench-press (all powerlifting). After wiping the floor with his “competitors” in both bodybuilding and powerlifting Sigmarsson went on to win four world strongest man titles along with  setting many world records. As if spectators and competitors alike needed a reminder he  would boast about yelling “I am a Viking!” and god help the man who tried to tell him he was not. This man was so strong that after he grew tired of riding his bike he thought it be funny to entertain the crowd by crumpling it up (fuck that bike). Basically, Sigmarsson could walk up to your girlfriend, wife, or mom finger bang her till she quivers with pure  ecstasy of having this Nordic god inside her while he made you watch. Although, he was such a nice guy he would probably just do it in private just to make sure your pussy ass feelings were spared. This man was the definition of intensity. He demonstrated why one must be crazy in order to lift some heavy ass shit. Unfortunately, he had played to close  to the razors edge and passed away on January 15, 1993. Like the prolific song writer Kurt Cobain once said “its better to burn out than to fade away”. May you forever rest in Valhalla.

CONGRATS!  You’re getting Cannibal Genius and Cannibal Davinci!

Lucas Elliott on Arnold Schwarzenegger

Sometimes the box is there for a reason and its best not to over think things.

GOAT has got to be the Austrian Oak.  A by no means comprehensive list of accomplishments:

  • Had an unprecedented run of success which through the power of his charisma and force of personality leveraged in to a career in movies and politics.
  • He tore through life hitting his prime in the 70s (can you imagine being Arnold in the 70s? Even pre-Aids, how did he not die of STDs?) and sustained an impressive physique through the 80s.
  • Changed what an action star looked like, from Kirk Douglas in Spartacus to Dwayne Johnson in…pretty much everything.
  • His arms caused innumerable raging boners in otherwise heterosexual adolescent boys.
  • Decades after he stopped competing he’s still held up as the standard for the ideal bodybuilder.

The fact is he remains an icon and personified an era.  Without Arnold bodybuilding never grows to the still niche sport that it is now.  Plus, he has arguably contributed more to the expansion of the talent pool of other strength sports than anyone else.  Even the hardest, most beastly power/oly lifter who made earth shattering lifts would only be exposed to a relatively small number of people where Arnold was idolized by millions.  If only 0.01% of his fans started lifting because of him, and only 1% of those took up and excelled at strength sports, that’s still more recruits than any one else can claim.

No one else has elevated and symbolized their sport more than Arnold.  Not Jordan.  Not Gretzky.  Not even Babe Ruth.  What bodybuilding was before Arnold and what it was after Arnold are completely different beasts.

CONGRATS!  You’re getting Cannibal Davinci!
Here were the rest of the entires, so you guys could see who else was mentioned:

Roula Athanasakis on Kacy Catanzaro

My favorite athlete at the moment is Kacy Catanzaro.  Not only is she the first female to complete American Ninja Warrior, but she has become a huge figure for females all around the world.  Her athletic ability showcased in American Ninja Warrior is one of the best i have seen, thus giving me and others a female figure to inspire too.  She has proven anything is possible if you just try and try again.  I am more inspired by her strength and control she possesses and shows in her run, most likely due to her past gymnastics abilities.  The dedication and commitment needed for that alone has got me in awe.  I have this picture as my screen saver to inspire me everyday to achieve my best in my athletic abilities.  I aim to have half the strength and control she has.

Erick Galinkin on Arthur Saxon

But seriously, it’s got to be Arthur Saxon.  Aside from having a mustache that would shame Tom Selleck, the man lifted 448lbs over his head at a body weight of 200 pounds, which regardless of the fact that he did it “anyhow”, should shame the fuck out of just about anyone lifting today.  Not only that, but he Clean and pressed 342lbs and pressed 370lbs overhead with one fucking hand.  To even further his badassery, he shit-talked Eugen Sandow into attempting to best his bent-press, which even the inestimable Sandow couldn’t do.  All of this happened well before the advent of modern PEDs, which further cements Saxon’s position as the greatest strength athlete of all time.  Also, the dude was cut to fucking shreds and didn’t even have clen.

Josh Meyer on Louie Simmons

There’s far too many badass weight lifters from the past & now to count, but the one who stands head above shoulders is Louie Simmons. Frankly, I’ve never been more impressed nor motivated to continue along my own path than when I read his articles (practically every one I could grab) and watched his videos. He’s probably best known for training geared power lifters, but he was a great power lifter himself back in the day. Louie Simmons totaled Elite (1655) with no gear – hell, even raw lifters use belts & knee wraps today. And take my word for it when I say that it’s impossible to want to quit lifting barbells when the going gets tough – how so? I’ll tell you. Just by knowing that men like Louie Simmons exist is enough. The man’s torn his right biceps, just to deadlift 700+ pounds 6 months later. He broke one of his lumbar vertebrae……twice; add to that torn abs and a ruptured patella tendon, and you have something that more so describes a cripple than a successful weight lifter. Yet, he made a comeback; no, he made more than that. He improved – he got stronger. Even today, he can out squat, bench, and deadlift anybody I’ve ever known personally. What he is, is a champion of what he does. Plain and simple, a true badass.

Eric Bakey- “Why I Hate Jamie Lewis of Chaos and Pain”

I found Jamie’s blog a few years ago while searching for the “Holy Grail” of training programs on the interwebs. Before coming across his insane recommendations for a training “split” I was somewhere between a HIT Jedi and a skinny-fat weakling. I had been program hopping for the better part of ten years, and while I felt like I was training intensely, I barely looked like I even lifted weights. Sure, I looked better than all my friends and 90% of dogshit America, but I was nowhere near where I felt I should be after 10+ years of training. After dabbling with some of his scientific-referenced dogma, I decided to pony up for a month of his month of personal training. The workouts were nothing revolutionary, but it had me working harder than I ever had before. In fact, it leveled me. I even showed real signs of, nay should I ever utter the word, overtraining!  Never had I worked harder in the gym and in the kitchen to make progress. I felt totally burned out, and the weights never felt so heavy. However something magical happened at the end of that month of suffering – I didn’t die. I got stronger. My veins pumped with increased testosterone. My skin got thinner as my muscles grew denser. I am reminded of the line in Forrest Gump when that lovable retard recalled, “Something jumped up and bit me!” I was hooked. Jamie’s programming, while for me, was a bit too much, showed me that I could train everyday if I wanted to. I was not a frail bird struggling to open my wings, but a fucking master of my domain. He made me do form check videos where he exposed my lower back weakness to which we attacked everyday. Now I squat more, with better form, than ever before. The reason I hate Jamie is because now I squat and deadlift twice a week and overhead press three times a week. Why? Because the alternative to being a weak bitch is swallowing a Frisbee. I chose life. I choose to attack my weakness with focus. I’m tracking like a god-damn Scud missile. I hate Jamie because now I’m in the gym every fucking day, crushing weights like a boss. I hate Jamie because he showed me how to fucking rule my life. My muscles got bigger, my abs got clearer, I cut the fat from my life and my training program. Now I’m banging hotter girls, making more money, and showing the people in my world that I’m a fucking boss. I hate Jamie for taking me out of my comfort zone, and getting me hooked on a lifestyle that will never lead to an end. I’m my own worst critic, and the only person who could talk worse shit than me is Jamie. He basically called me a bitch, and I almost believed him. I now proved him wrong. I manned up and put more weight on the bar.  I’m a firm believer that, “To bench more, you have to bench more.” If there was room in this e-mail for a before and after photo, I’d have a selfie exposing my lower stomach all the way to the stem of my dick, just to be an asshole like that prick Jamie. So thanks for nothing you trash-talking powerlifter, wanna-be bodybuilder, turned supplement peddling freak. Post a little more often on your blog, and I hope you enjoyed reading this e-mail as much as I enjoyed getting it typed out. Your posts inspire me to be more awesome than I already am, and the tips on new porn are pretty rad too.

Charles Brooke on Zydrunas Saviskas

I’m not going to be nostalgic over the strongmen of the past like Kaz and Wilhelm. To be honest the weights they used in World Strongest Man competitions are weights that lightweight amateur strongmen throw around all the time. 300 pound logs and 250 kegs overhead are commonplace. While they were amazing at the time, a new breed of strength athlete has emerged and has pushed to the top like delicious cream in keto morning Coffee, Zydrunas Saviskas. Other strength athletes are out trying to tell everyone why they are the best and why they should listen to them. Big Z doesn’t say a fucking word, he knows what he is doing is new ground for everyone and he continues to break away at the rocks like the massive ocean he is. People make rumors about how he will retire soon and when confronted about it he just says no, “why would I quit?” I get stronger and I get better (with lots of accent). People quit because they want to leave the spotlight before someone takes it from them, Big Z isn’t worried about someone taking it from him, that’s why he won’t quit, he has no fear of loosing. While other athletes are riddled with injuries and fear of competition Big Z is a constant acceleration, Like something approaching the speed of light everyone around him is moving at a snails pace. If Einstein were alive to explain relativity of huge ass fucking lifts it would go something like this. “Big Z is moving so fast in his pursuit of greatness that what is only a kilogram of increase for him is seen by the world as a metric fuckass ton. “ it can be said that given the progress Zydrunas has been making compared to everyone else in the sport around him is almost like the other competitors are standing still, just treading water in the ocean that is Zydrunas Saviskas.