It all starts somewhere…
I’ve been into fitness most of my natural life. Beyond simply being a very active kid, I really enjoyed the challenge physical activity presented to my body and mind. I loved riding bikes and running; along with all of the things kids do (at least they did in the 1980s). In 1992, I picked up my first loaded barbell. It belonged to a friend of mine that owned a set of concrete weights his big brother left behind when he moved out of his parent’s house. We would do all kinds of exercises with what I’m sure was terrible form, while blasting Metallica on a tape player. Yes, I said tape player. I remember my first exercise being the “ez bar” curl. We would work out in his father’s small garage no matter how hot or cold it was and loved every minute of it.
I eventually talked my parents into letting me put a small weight set and punching bag in my bedroom (I had a huge bedroom). I wish I had $1 for every hour I spent pounding those weights and beating the crap out of that Everlast punching bag. See, at that time in my life, my family was going through a rough time. Not to mention, the neighborhood we lived in was rough. Fun for the kids in that neighborhood was to basically beat each other up. I was a skinny weakling that brought nothing to the table, sadly. These conditions fueled my workouts, though I stayed somewhat skinny well after we moved out of that neighborhood.
Circa 1993- Gainless
I didn’t mind being so lean, though. My hero was Bruce Lee and I figured if he could be such a bad a$$, while being so lean, then so could I. Well, it took an epic beat down by a guy way bigger than me to spark a new ambition. I was 15 years old and felt like I could hold my own, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had been heavily involved in karate and endurance training, up to this point, but none of that helped even the least bit when I found myself pinned by a big fat dude sitting on my chest and pounding my face in. Beaten and broken, I went home. I immediately gave up karate and focused my attention on changing my whole approach to training. I did, however, still maintain a few strikes that would prove worthy in future street fights. During my high school years, if I wasn’t getting in some real world practice, I was beating a punching bag I had hanging in the back yard of my parent’s house.
I also switched from doing so much endurance training to focusing more on packing on quality mass. Ignorant to the fact that steroids made (and still make) all of the guys in the magazines huge, I ate and lifted like a monster thinking it would make me as big as them. I tried every supplement I could get a hold of, legally, and kept my head in the game. I did this for a very long time, but still stayed about the same size. Life eventually happened; but I made sure to make it to the gym at least three days a week in high school, in the military, and all through my crazy 20s. Though I never truly reached my full training potential, due to bad lifestyle decisions, I still made it a point to do SOMETHING. There were a few years where I simply maintained what I had because I was working laborious 12+ hours a day and found myself on the road most the time.
I was 31 years old when I started to feel like I was really getting a hold of my true training potential; though discovered by accident. By this time, I was married and had a schedule that was perfect for what I wanted to accomplish concerning training. Not to mention, I was married to a very supportive woman who didn’t mind having a muscular husband. It was at this age that I was diagnosed with a bout of severe sciatica. If you don’t know what this is, it’s paralyzing pain caused by inflammation of the sciatic nerves in the lower back. In my case, my sciatica was caused by random muscle spasms in my lower back. I can’t describe to you how painful this experience is, and it would hit me at random. It has to be what it feels like to have a knife stuck in your lower back, severing your nerves to the point that you can’t feel your legs. These bouts of pain led me to seek medical attention. It was through doing so that I learned these muscle spasms were occurring due to weak lower back muscles, not spinal issues. This was great news, since spinal issues are not good, but I was bummed at the fact I had a weak lower back. Not one to shy away from a fixable issue, I immediately started focusing on strengthening my weakness.
I began researching strength exercises and totally changed my training routine. I incorporated squats, deadlifts, and barbell bench presses into my normal training schedule. I was a dumbbell freak, beforehand, and NEVER EVER did the “Big 3” movements. It took me a great amount of time to learn how to properly perform all of these lifts, but luckily I had the help of some great mentors along the way. The back pain eventually disappeared and my strength skyrocketed. I got so strong that I entered my first powerlifting competition at 32 years old. My first competition PRs weren’t much to write home about, but I was stoked. I have since been in three competitions. I go from being paralyzed from insane back pain to deadlifting 507 lbs. in front of a huge crowd. That in itself is an awesome accomplishment for me! The solid mass I gained was also a true sign that I was progressing in more ways than one.
Now creeping up on 35 years of existence, my strength is steadily climbing and I am over 15 lbs. heavier than I was when I was 31 years old (mainly lean muscle). Though not a hulk, I’m far from the skinny dude I was as a teen. I have also dedicated a great amount of energy attempting to motivate and inform people of all the positive rewards living a healthy lifestyle brings to the table. Some of this energy is applied by maintaining my own blog and personal training (when time permits). Regardless of where God leads me in this pursuit, I will continue to feverishly work at my goals and never worry that I will not succeed in some way.
Circa July 2015-Biggest I’ve ever been (lean)