The Vinny Jones Zone
Always a critic... Posted on 24 Mar 14:43 , 1 comment
I was pointed out to a Facebook post which linked my blog. The person concerned wrote a rather scathing comment about some of the things I wrote. I think it’s important to address criticism not because the person has affected me in anyway but because the points raised are endemic of what the general population think. Education is key, as I keep saying, and I like to address criticism where the person criticising is ignorant, uninformed and deliberately distorts what I write.
The blog post that was being criticised is here: http://www.sportsfuel.org/blogs/the-vinny-jones-zone/16679185-strongman-101-part-one-training-steroids
A rather helpful guide into strongman training I thought? Written, essentially, for people looking to make their first steps into training and an eye opener about what happens in the sport with respect to PEDS (Performance Enhancing Drugs). This is her post:
Take time, ladies and gentlemen and all Primary school children, to ignore the dreadful grammar you take for granted (and the BS) and look a little deeper and we shall try and disseminate the post step by step just so the poor soul can see how their thought processes can be logically reduced to the ridicule it deserves.
“It does amaze me that people do really think the sport they do is the best take strongman for one they have the idea that they are the fittest people around because they can lift extreme weights”
The word “best” across my entire blogging activity is used twice to describe what it takes to compete with the best in the sport. Nowhere on the entire blog is it ever stated that strongman is the “best sport”. My opinion is that it is the most complex and perhaps hardest sport that currently exists. The main reason for this is that you need everything in your arsenal to not only compete but train successfully throughout the year. Cardio, endurance, speed, grip strength, power, brute strength, pain, awkwardness and determination… just some of the attributes needed to train. Yes a Triathlon is hard. Swimming is hard. Ironman is hard. Cycling 2/3 miles to work is hard (lol). But there is nothing in those respective activities/sports that covers everything you need to be a good strongman. In fact, I cannot think of another sport which comes that close but (I’m happy to be corrected).
And where did the word “fitness” come into play? Again, the word does not appear on the blog post or the rest of the blog. And I think I made it clear that strongman needs MORE than just fitness. So I would never say that a strongman is fitter than anyone else. But is it not better to be REALLY strong and fit rather than weak and the fittest?
I'll also take her up on her very loose argument for being fitter than a strongman. Cycling at approximately 10mph uses the same calories as walking. Why? Because some fella called Newton wrote the law of universal gravitation. Quite simply, because you're sitting on your arse you do not expend as much energy fighting the effects of gravity.
No-one disputes that top level riders are fit people. Tour de France etc. They're all super fit guys but they are ATHLETES. Not people who just ride to work or to the pub. Granted lots of amateur/semi-pro riders exist within the ride to work type scheme. But the critic is not one of those people. So their opinion is flawed. And all they have proved is that they have, essentially, the same fitness as someone who walks around. But she's not finished with her monologue... when acquiring fitness, strongmen can't do it on their own apparently:
“in that sport they openly admit that they need the help of steroids to do this”
Well firstly "openly admitting" use is a banana skin for many guys. Let's not go there. But the numbskull is clearly unable to extract the essence of what is actually being said. I made it quite clear that NO-ONE needs steroids to train/compete in strongman. In fact, to help her comprehension and get to the root of what I said I'll actually copy and paste what I did write:
“But for novice/intermediate comps? Of course you don't NEED to use. No-one needs to use anything at all. Just know that with all the will in the world, the gulf in class will be evident the higher up the ladder you go. But no, you don't need anything.”
Just where in that statement does it say you need to use steroids?
Exactly. It’s doesn’t. But the numbskull doesn’t need to let facts get in the way of making her point. And this is evident when it comes to her next comment:
“take for one this man's blog calls people idiots if they think they can compete with out them”
Again I did a search on the word “idiot” and could not find a single reference to it on my entire blog. Does this not strike anyone as strange? It’s almost as if the critic is making things up and lying to make a point isn’t it?
Again I think I made it clear you can compete without steroids with my words "you don't need steroids to compete".
Indeed I know lots of guys who do stay "natty" and I advise many people every week not to use them at a certain stage they are at with their training. Hardly the actions of a person who thinks people are idiots for not using steroids?
And what else did I say?
“I do have a theory that an average guy with passion, drive, hard work and luck can overcome a good athlete who is using something.“
Wow. Who woulda thunk it? I think I’ve made my point...
(What I would state is that people are naïve if they think that PEDS are not rife across all sports)
Then this gem...
“I cycle for pleasure and commute every day to work which helps me keep fit but have been ridiculed for this”
Actually, what this person did do was write a lot of vitriol on my Venom Tacky business page criticising anyone who bought the product as supporting steroid users and people who use steroids in strongman. Then she went on to say that she was fitter than the strongmen in there on account of her cycling. I did think the comments would end up being quite nasty towards her but actually there were some very funny moments. That said, this was a person who clearly does not cycle for pleasure. She is an odd woman who wanted to try and prove a point that she doesn’t need steroids for cycling and that guys who compete in strongman are disgusting creatures.
Ok, well assume that she is trying to make a point. At what stage would a person who cycles for pleasure and to work NEED steroids anyway? Especially an obese, 50+ year old woman? Precisely. It's almost like her saying she doesn't need a parachute because she goes swimming. Is it not a de facto statement already and one which does not really need to be highlighted?
Get this woman a bicycle... and steroids. Quickly.
If you need steroids to ride a bloody bike to work you need help. But to criticise people who compete in perhaps the hardest sport in the world for using something to increase their recovery, help injury prevention and all pretty much for the entertainment of others and to improve themselves? I find its pretty poor picking on those people. A typical strongman spends more on the sport than they would ever hope to recover in prize or sponsorship money. Why not go after the guys who actually lie about their use in sports where millions are thrown around?
Ahhh… well we’re not dealing with a normal person.
“so let's put this straight any type of exercise is good for you”
Really? I’ve seen broken bokes, ripped off fingers, obliterated toes, dislocations, cuts, bruises and tendon tears in 2 years competing in strongman. This is clearly NOT a sport that is “good” for you. Hence why many guys choose supplements to help them recover from the intense training. But the “exercise” she is talking about has nothing to do with competition training.
A bit of arse chafing from her bike is not quite the same is it?
“taking substances like steroids that are not prescribed by your doctor are not there are long and short term effects.”
Ignore the grammar and we will make a logical assumption that she is stating that there are short term and long term effects from using steroids.
Ok, well we know a few things about this person already. The first is that they lie about what I write. The second is that they have no idea what it takes to train and compete in strongman. The third is that they have a vendetta against strongman competitors who use PEDS.
And the fourth is that they are world renown endocrine expert with years of experience in the field of hormone replacement therapies able to deduce from the mere mention of steroids in a sport that there “might” be some short term and long term effects from using steroids. Muahahahahahaha... if I had £1 for every time this kind of person talked about something they don't know about I'd be buying more Strom tops than I currently do.
Ok well again, I think it’s clear to state that while this person has not directly said I have not considered that there are short and long term effects that the overall meaning of their final comment is to suggest that I am of the belief that there is a risk free, radical and almost laissez-faire approach to PED use.
If only this was the case. This is what I wrote:
“Some of your heroes are so injured, so much in pain, that they will use a cocktail of painkillers to mask it just to keep going. Some of your old heroes are now no longer alive potentially because of what they have done. To reach the top of the game and STAY there people will be using some form of assistance and mostly without the services of a medical professional.”
Is this the phrasing of a person who claims there are no risks to using PEDS?
“Next in line are some orals but I never recommend these because at the end of the day health is all that matters because no-one, no less at novice to intermediate level, wants to be relying on the state for hand-outs or struggling to put food into their kid's mouths.“
It seems I’m saying avoid some steroids BECAUSE of the effects. At times, I even surprise myself.
This was a little more serious than I would like to have been but PED use is a subject that is extremely close to my heart because I want people to be as educated about it as possible. And I think misinformation is bad for both sides of the argument. What is needed is a clear platform and a level playing field for arguments to be put forward from both sides.
However, not ALL opinions are valid. Everyone has the right to an informed opinion. If you have a genuine criticism of PEDS, don’t say “PEDS are dangerous, will kill you and your children’s children’s children’s pet dog in a car accident in 2122 because great-great-Grandad use Deca once to fix his knee”
What you should be doing is, where you know sod all, is asking the question and then perhaps doing your own research? Why can’t people use PubMed or get a book these days for an answer? Phrase criticisms about something you don’t know in the form of a question and it makes you seem less of an idiot (see, I used the word idiot).
Anyway, too late for the next Mrs Lance Armstrong. But as with all comments to my blog I like to send a free gift. This seems more suited to her future endeavours…
Strongman 101 - Part One: Training & Steroids Posted on 29 Jan 10:37 , 1 comment
This will cover what you need to get into strongman training and planning your training. The second part will cover what you need at the competition. The third will cover some useful tips I've picked up along the way.
STRONGMAN 101: PART ONE
So, you want to get into strongman? Good. Go to a gym. Train. Eat. Train more. Change your programme several times a month. Carry on with bodybuilder training anyway because you wanna look “hench2. Sign up to a novice comp. Lift a 60kg log for 65 reps. Put “strongman” in the middle of your facebook profile name. Create an athlete page. Tell everyone that you are a strongman.
Now if you’re actually serious this is my advice. It’s not the “end of” or “final say”. It’s just advice. And Part One is based on the top 3 things I get asked… where to train, what programme to follow and do I need to take steroids.
1. Find a strongman gym.
Nothing prepares you for strongman lifts quite like actually doing the lifts. No mechanic will ever be a good gynaecologist despite the latter being just as messy, dark and mysterious. You might fiddle around for a while but until you’ve plunged your hand into the filth, nothing prepares you (the filth being a tub of tacky of course… what else did you think I was on about?)
The pain and sheer awkwardness of handling some equipment is going to give you a big shock. I have seen many a bodybuilder give up strongman training/competing simply because nothing smears fake tan quite like a stone run. And no-one looks good in speedos with a prolapse.But a strongman gym is likely to have people who train strongman. So win win over a franchised rent a chain.
2.Pick a programme and stick to it for a while
Advice from Mark Rippetoe is right on the money… Everything works. Nothing works forever. Some things work better than others.
This doesn’t mean persist with a routine that is killing you week by week because you’ll never retain enough enthusiasm to make it last. But at the same time, while a 12 rep system has its place... it’s not with a 185kg stone as an end of session finisher.
I’d recommend keeping it simple if you’re a new guy. Learning some basic lifts first like squatting, overhead pressing, deadlifting and learn how your body reacts to training 3 times per week as a minimum.
If you’re overweight, lose some chub and just concentrate on getting your reps in each week with a slight increase in weight and you’ll be amazed what 3-6 months can do. The 5x5 routine is decent enough for this very basic start and add in some grip work and simply learn how your body responds. Throwing yourself straight into a lot of strongman work can break you before you've even had chance to squat your own bodyweight. Get a good base of strength over 6 months then crack on.
If you’re underweight and have quads like Macaulay Culkin’s wrists then I advise you to eat lots of meat, spaghetti, drink egg whites and go back to being breastfeed.
Consistency is the key (for both training and breastmilk). Rocking up whenever you feel like it and curling in the squat rack is cool. So long as it’s your own squat rack. In your own garage. Preferably in a very distant land far, far away.
If you want to make a commitment to strongman and a commitment to yourself, find a strongman gym and find a programme that suits the harshness of the exercises.
Many recommend a modified version of the Cube Method which was written by Josh Thigpen, a 2 x WSM athlete. Just bear in mind he did not get to WSM by following the Cube Method. And not only that, but he doesn’t even follow his own plan. And he doesn’t do strongman anymore. So who can ya trust eh?
If you want a living breathing strongman focused programme, I recommend hiring the services of Graham Hicks or John Clark. I recommend, even more, finding a way to train with those guys on a regular basis.
This is going to be hard for some of you to understand but it will save you some heartbreak further down the line. Performance Enhancing Drugs are rife. Some of your heroes are using steroids to train and compete. Some of your heroes are so injured, so much in pain, that they will use a cocktail of painkillers to mask it just to keep going. Some of your old heroes are now no longer alive potentially because of what they have done. To reach the top of the game and STAY there people will be using some form of assistance and mostly without the services of a medical professional.
If you use ibuprofen to relieve inflammation of your muscles so that you can train again the next day then guess what? You’re using a performance enhancer. If you use caffeine, EPH, aspirin, muscle rubs, hot water bottles, a Thai happy ending massage then guess what? You’re using a performance enhancer. Anything, in my mind, which increases your performance over and above the perceived limit of what you would be able to achieve WITHOUT that crutch is, for me, a performance enhancer.
With this I go back to the Rippetoe quote and I will, on this occasion, bastardize it.
All performance enhancers have the potential to work. Some performance enhancers work better than others. Not all performance enhancers work forever.
Some performance enhancers are illegal. You will need to check with your governing bodies and your fictional god to find out which ones are banned. There really is no consistency across sports for the large part. In general, I will state that narcotics will be banned everywhere due to their status and if you do have a problem I recommend contacting Paul Smith at Ironworks Gym in Birmingham who has come through the other side.
My general rule is this: if it’s not banned, it’s not cheating.
Steroids are used by guys competing in novice comps right up to WSM. Don’t believe, in general, about what people tell you about their use. I have met too many liars and in any event just because someone uses x, y and doesn’t mean its right for you. Do your research. But don’t try to denigrate the achievements of any person stepping up to compete at any level with PED assistance or not. It’s hard to compete and so long as the people you compete with are doing everything within the law and spirit of the competition you don’t really have the right to judge them. The same goes the other way. Save your hate for the cheats.
If you do want more info, join the Strongman PED Research Group on Facebook for no nonsense advice based upon scientific studies and genuine stories/insights.
As for whether you NEED steroids or not. Well no-one can tell you how your own body feels. Not everyone will be suited for them and there are plenty of strong guys making the choice not to use anything and are doing extremely well in certain competitions. I do have a theory that an average guy with passion, drive, hard work and luck can overcome a good athlete who is using something. But I also believe that at some levels there will be an obvious gulf in class between the people who are good athletes, use gear and those who are good but don't use. And I believe that gulf in class is quite wide.
But for novice/intermediate comps? Of course you don't NEED to use. No-one needs to use anything at all. Just know that with all the will in the world, the gulf in class will be evident the higher up the ladder you go. But no, you don't need anything. But if you want to be the BEST then yes, you do. To compete with the best, you need to use something. This guy tried and failed...
As for what to use, well the advice from someone like Jim Wendler is to save your money on ridiculous mass gainers overloaded with sugar or spending a fortune on the latest bulking fad. Just use a gram of test. In my opinion this is sound GENERAL advice. It is NOT medical advice. But it is the truth and most guys who use will be on that kind of dose as a bare minimum.
Nandrolone is favoured by many (erroneously called Deca in most quarters due to the popular ester that Nandrolone is bind to - an ester is a compound effectively which determines the rate as to which the active ingredient is released into the body) as it can offer some positive joint benefits and increase muscle mass. Trenbolone is another but it's never been approved for human use. It will mess up your cardiovascular system with fluid going onto the lungs to some extent. But it will cut fat as an added bonus and if you're looking to stay within a certain weight class the benefits are potentially there along with using Stanozolol). Boldenone is favoured by many US powerlifters and it appears, anecdotally at least, that staying on a conservative dose (300-600mg per week) over 25 years is feasible.
Next in line are some orals but I never recommend these because at the end of the day health is all that matters because no-one, no less at novice to intermediate level, wants to be relying on the state for hand-outs or struggling to put food into their kid's mouths. So do your research before making any decisions. This is on you. Just don't be like this guy...
Costs are going to vary. And I don't really feel the need to look at this in much detail. All I will say is make sure your priorities are in order first. Don't miss a rent payment to buy a bottle of test. It's REALLY not worth it. Many of the guys on big doses at the top end of sport in general are sponsored by their countries on national level drug programmes (mainly in the Far East and Eastern bloc). You can't compete for that level of infrastructure and you're likely to be looking at using underground labs for your gear. So try and be safe and again I stress... RESEARCH!!!
Bear in mind this, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 allows the use of various drugs under Class C classification. This allows the use of products without a prescription and they do not have to be in medicinal form. This means you can purchase, quite legally, all manner of performance enhancers. What you cannot do is use a website based in a foreign country to import them. And you cannot sell, distribute, give away, loan, inject or otherwise supply ANY class C drug. You can however, again quite legally, is visit a foreign country and import performance enhancers for personal use. Just bear in mind there are many fakes out there and you're likely to get stung. Quite literally. Fancy some cheap growth hormone from Egypt. Properly packaged. Pfizer branded no less? For only £40 for 100iu which will last about 30 days? (normal price at least £150). Ah, the "Pharmacist" at the "Pharmacy" is simply selling pure acid. No joke. Again, do your research before you visit anywhere. They love to scam the strength community out there.
So that's all I'll write here about that topic. If you want to know more, you know where to start looking (the Facebook page above).
Part two to follow…
New beginnings Posted on 26 Jan 11:43 , 0 comments
Well the launch of Strom Nutrition’s HQ/shop/hang out/batcave is nearly upon us. A great testament to hard work from lots of different people to get the whole thing off the ground. From meagre surroundings in Richard’s kitchen/shed to a retail store in a prime location is no mean feat. Big congrats to all.
This got me thinking about how we make a new start or take an idea and then run with it to a natural conclusion. Strength training, for many, begins in this way. We either want to change our body or our mindset. Or we set a new challenge for ourselves either by moving from one sport to another. Or maybe many of us take that step from being a gym rat to a competing athlete.
However you make that step, hard work is always the backbone. Frustration, commitment, resolve, focus. Make sure it’s something you enjoy though.
Well my training has been piecemeal due to moving house, illness, sorting out child access blah blah blah. I’m still nailing my big lifts though. Dreadful session at the Farm with legend Dave Meer and the guys but I came away learning more than hurting. It’s all progress whether physical or mental. Ant Brown helped fix up my deadlift form and I can now pull “back” more than “up” which if you notice on my previous video I tend to drive up a weight rather than sit back with it. I felt so much more comfortable so I’m hoping 320kg breaks in the next 3 months. That’s my target anyway (and 300kg for a set of 3).
Well Venom Tacky is nearly up and running as a fully-fledged business. As always there are stumbling blocks but the key thing is February is going to be a busy month for the brand and lots of samples will be going out. A new secret formula, or brand-X, will be released in March time and was developed with the research of a Chemical Engineer. A few more tests and I think it will be ready.
Alongside this is a the release of Venom Saltz – a bottle of smelling salts to get you up for a big lift and in a double walled pot which means no leaking, no seeping, no “sweating” which kills the half-life of the product. It will also be fixed at a good price point considering the quality and size of the product.
I’m hoping that it will be taken up by lots of different athletes to get them up for a lift or people in general when they need focus. Brenda the dinner lady will be shovelling mash potato onto your plate quicker than shit flies off a shovel.
The work on a training drink is in the mix, if you pardon the pun (actually, no, you can’t pardon the pun because it is fucking genius). We’re looking at the summer time before this becomes available but it will be available through Strom for sampling so look out for that.
New meal plan goes into full swing from next Monday. Kerry and I will have moved house and we will finally have a freezer. No excuses then. I’ll be focusing on egg whites and meat as the backbone of my diet. The rest will be made up of homemade spicy tomato sauces, rice, cottage cheese, water, oxygen. You know, generally if it grew from the ground or ran/flew at some point it is ok.
Just need someone to tell me how to grow my own cottage cheese as I think it will be cheaper.
Strongman 101 posts
Well the strongman season enters into full swing soon. So I WILL get around to posting up a 3 part series about what you’re going to need at a comp or how I think people should prepare. But good luck to all in your prep.
I start back on the 9th of August at Tawarden’s Strongest Man comp… then a Manimal team event in Rotherham on the 15th before Tamworth’s Strongest Man on the 22nd where I’ll be vying for a podium finish of some kind. Then all focus will be on the England’s Strongest Man qualifiers in 2016.
*And yes, I’m quite aware that cottage cheese does not grow for fucks sake. You obviously have to hunt it.
Strongman 101 series Posted on 31 Dec 22:22 , 0 comments
Lots of New Year resolutions on Facebook and lots of people looking to not only get into strongman training but also get into competing which is great to see. Whether you're an amateur or pro, or an under 58kg female athlete or seasoned opens competitor... good luck with your training and staying injury free. Hope to see you at a comp in 2015.
Now, for those seasoned competitors it's quite easy to know exactly how to prepare for the day/weekend. For newbies and amateurs? Not so simple. So I'm going to write a three part series called Strongman 101.
This will cover what you need to get into strongman training and planning your training. The second part will cover what you need at the competition. The third will cover some useful tips I've picked up along the way.
But seeing as many of you will be too pissed to read this sort of valuable information tonight... I'll wait till you're in a more coherent. Just please think of us committed and passionate trainees who have avoided alcohol tonight (or, rather, have been FORCED to because their partners have to work... but, err, yeah, I'm still committed).
Have a great night. Have an even greater 2015. And I wish you all the best for your future in strongman/strongwoman... and remember to get your training off to the best start by browsing the online shop here at Strom and grabbing a bargain.
Peace. And War.
Greetings! Posted on 28 Dec 21:33 , 0 comments
A little about me…
I’m 32, a Dad of 2 brilliant boys and engaged to a wonderful gal. Nothing marks me out as being anything special aside from what my family and friends see in me. If you meet me in the street, I’m easy going and have a dry witty sense of humour. Online I can be a little bit to the point. Knowledge wise, I want to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING.
What I do, that marks me out as different to the average person, is that I compete in strongman. Yes; flipping tyres, picking up heavy shit, damaging my body in new and interesting ways… you get the drift.
I’ve torn muscle, broken bone, ripped ligament, dislocated limbs, thrown a bit of blood out of my nose under pressure. You could say I’m demented. You could argue I’m accident prone and shouldn’t be allowed within 100 feet of strongman equipment. I dunno. But it doesn’t mark me out as something special. Just different.
I’ve met a lot of good guys during my time in the sport. Met a lot of bad ones too. Such is life. I guess I take it to heart if someone doesn’t like me and thinks I’m one of the bad guys. But hey, can’t please everyone all of the time.
So have I achieved anything? Well, yes. Lots of personal goals. I started competing in 2013. Finished top 4th in my first novice show against a guys who have gone onto win comps (and one even lifted a 190kg log this year so the standard was good). Then I had a go at Bodypower where I finished 9th beating a friend in the process who everyone tipped to beat me.
Then I won England’s Most Powerful Man (novices… ssshhhhh) when EVERYONE I spoke to said I had no chance
What happened next was not so nice... I tore my shoulder up in three places (RC, labrum, bicep tendon) and the surgeon predicted I’d never lift anything overhead again. 8 months later, I popped up a 140kg press. I then competed 3 times starting off with a 20th place finish at Bodypower in the Heavies class against guys like Mariusz Lalas, Graham Hicks, Mick Brown, Adam Bishop… then went onto finish 4th behind a good friend Mark (who came second at the England’s comp I won) at Tamworths Strongest Man… then I finished 2nd at a Charity comp in Birmingham (although I dropped out of the points as I was guest lifting.. still, I beat some VERY good strongmen in that comp).
Anyway, I guess you could say I’m the type of guy who likes proving people wrong.
So what now? Well I’m back to blogging, keeping a video diary and aiming for a spot competing at Britain’s Strongest Man. I’m giving myself a 4 year plan to get there. And this blog will survive for as long as I stay the course or they get rid of me.
I train with some good guys and have trained with some of the best (Simon Johnston, Graham Hicks, Dave Meer, Mikey Lane, Stig Parker, Sean O'Hagan, Alex Curletto). So I've picked up a lot of knowledge along the way and I know what it takes to get to their level. As for whether I will...??? I'll give it a good go.
So what will this blog contain? Mainly my training thoughts, a bit of a weekly diary, some hints and tips, stuff I've learned, random philosophies and gym shit. Might talk a little about PEDS and peptides along the way... but if you have things you want to ask then please do and I'll create a weekly Q&A.
Big thanks to Richard Foster and Strom Nutrition for this platform. They are heading in the right direction that's or sure!
This is a timid start to what will be a brutal process. But I’m all about opinions and pissing people off it seems. But some of you might like to read the journey?
So let’s see how it goes...