Interview with Jim Wendler, Part I & II by Jason Ferruggia
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of welcoming my good friends Dave Tate, Alwyn Cosgrove and Jim Wendler to my summer house at the Jersey shore for the weekend. On Friday afternoon, while we waited for Alwyn to arrive from LA, Jim and I sat down over a few (pitchers, not glasses) vodka lemonades and discussed training, music, tattoos, girls, family and everything in between. During this time Dave was in the ocean trying to master the art of going under the waves and not over them. Unfortunately he never quite caught on and ended up on his back covered in sand in seashells much to my amusement. By the time Cosgrove arrived we were pretty well intoxicated and decided to end our conversation and head down the street to the bar. After Alwyn fed us vodka all night we headed home and passed out (supposedly I did a lot more than that but I am denying all such accusations). The next day Joe DeFranco stopped by and we all talked training and business for several hours. After the sixth or seventh hour of nonstop business talk, Jim and I decided that our brains were starting to melt and we needed to go to the beach and take a dip and throw the football around. Jim was also probably a bit burnt out with listening to the hours of hip hop that was playing in the background on my iPod. To his credit though, he never complained. It was during this time on the beach that we finished our talk from the night before. I always knew that I had the utmost respect for Jim Wendler and thought he was genuinely one of the coolest people I had ever met and was proud to call him my friend. That impression was strongly reinforced during that weekend. With no disrespect intended to any of my esteemed colleagues such as Dave, Alwyn, Joe, or any of our other staff members here at EliteFTS.com, I have to say that I also consider Jim Wendler to be the first person I would go to for training advice. From day one, Jim and I have always been on the same page as far as our thoughts on training go and I would take and use any recommendations Jim makes any day of the week. While he admits that he can not drop science like some of the so called gurus out there, he knows how to get strong. That's all that matters to me. The following is a recap (edited, of course) of many conversations that I had with Jim Wendler during that weekend at the beach.
Jason: Damn dude, you're looking sexy. Dropping thirty pounds did wonders for you. I can actually see your eyes now. The bald head's a nice look too. How are you feeling?
Jim: I feel about a million times better physically. I can actually walk now and can sleep through the night. There was a time when walking more than 30-40 yards would kill me. I remember one time I was walking my dog and I had to stop at every light post on the street. They were about 40 yards apart. I would have to lean up against it and catch my breath. This is when my wife made me take my cell phone on the walks just in case I had a heart attack. This is not a lie. It is kind of amusing, though. I rarely have heartburn and I can think a little bit clearer. I have to admit that mentally this has made things more difficult. I have spent the majority of my life trying to get bigger and now I am trying to lose weight. This has been very difficult for me. But people are dying in Iraq so when I put it in perspective, it's not that hard.
As far as my hair cut, this was inevitable. I was trying to hold on for as long as possible. Your intervention definitely helped. Tough love is a great thing but only in hindsight.
As far as being sexy, it's funny that you bring that up. Some girl came up to me the other day and told me how cute I was. I think she was on X and had a glass eye with an eye patch covering her good eye, but it came out of her mouth, so I'm happy.
Jason: How much do you weigh now and do you plan on losing any more weight?
Jim: I am always around 255 and have no plans to drop much more. If it happens, it happens. As long as I feel healthy, I really don't care what I weigh.
Jason: What have you been doing lately for conditioning? How often and for how long?
Jim: Conditioning sucks. I hated it during my sporting days, and I still hate it. But since I feel that I need to do this to remain healthy I've started thinking of things other than the typical treadmill/Stairmaster stuff. I try to get three days of conditioning in. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I lift weights and meet my wife and son at the local high school. My wife and I do various things such as the Parisi Warm-up, sled dragging, stairs, bodyweight exercises, and The Prowler. We use the highly evolved system of showing up and picking one.
This is very important to me as it allows my son to see both my wife and I training and this will hopefully become part of his lifestyle. Plus, it gets us out of the house and outside. I've never seen a depressed person kill themselves outside. The sun is a good thing. I am probably going to buy a new bike and bike to work everyday. But we will see how that pans out.
Jason: I'd love to see that happen. You keep telling me about this strict diet you're on. What's that consist of and how's it going?
Jim: First, let me explain my version of strict. Strict means about 75% of the time. What I've found out with diet, as with any kind of lifestyle change, is that you need to ease into it. The first thing that I did was eliminate sugars (including sodas) and white bread. Once I did this, I tried to increase my intake of fruits and vegetables. Now I'm trying to limit my consumption of red meat. I have always been a huge meat eater; I would eat about 7 or 8 steaks a week. I don't think this is too healthy. Basically, I'm just trying to eat better. I'm a huge fan of Chicago Style Pizza and I'm still going to enjoy that. The point is to eat right most of the time. When you start getting too rigid is when you have to let the sphincter relax.
Jason: So how does it feel to be officially retired now?
Jim: I feel really good actually. I met or eclipsed all of my goals. In 00, I wrote down that I wanted to bench 600 and squat 1000. In 03, I set a 2300 total as a goal. In 05, I reached all of these goals. I have no regrets and have no misgivings about retiring from the sport. Here's something to think about. My last year of football was definitely my last. I was tired of the sport. I left the last game knowing that I achieved every one of my goals. I walked out of Sun Devil Stadium (the site of my last collegiate game) pleased and content. But, I was also very depressed. When your whole life has revolved around one game and all of a sudden it stops, it's somewhat hard to deal with. I'm sure it's even tougher for pro football players. Anyway, the difference with football and powerlifting is that someone basically told me that I was done playing football. I had no choice. With powerlifting, there is no one telling you that you are done. So I didn't want to be the fat Elvis or the Wizard's Jordan. I wanted to go out on my own terms and do it the way that I wanted it. I think some people have a hard time with this concept.
Jason: I think that's very admirable and have the utmost respect for your ability to do that. Was there anything else that forced or helped make that decision?
Jim: There were four things that helped my decision. The number one thing is that it just wasn't fun anymore. I didn't want to do it. The second thing is that I had a great last meet and reached all of my goals. The third thing is that my health was rapidly deteriorating and I needed to lose some weight. I had two very scary episodes before my last meet and knew that something had to change. The last reason is personal and will not be discussed.
Jason: So what are your goals for your training now?
Jim: Get a huge f#cking neck and traps and be able to move with little pain. Years of football and lifting eventually takes its toll. Anyone who has tried to compete at the highest level knows that athletics are not that healthy. I was never a high level athlete, but I tried like hell. I never competed in the WPO or the NFL but I was one step away from both. And I did everything I could to get there. That is the nature of the competitive athlete and persona. That's what the general public will never understand about athletics and particularly the use of anabolics. A very competitive athlete will understand, but not necessarily agree with, the use of drugs in sports. I should point out that I have absolutely no regrets. How many people can say that they squatted 1000lbs and got to play on ESPN?
Jason: Not many. Where are you training now?
Jim: I've been training at the Compound. It's about 10 feet from my desk and it's been a great time. I train with Matt (Bash) but we really don't train together. We put on some music and do our own thing. This is the most fun I've had training since Kevin and I started training in 01. Kevin (Deweese) has always been my best training partner because like me, he doesn't give two shits about what people think of us or our training. We are both non-cheerleaders and get about as intense as a coma victim before training lifts. There was never backstabbing or hidden agenda's. I credit a large part of my success in powerlifting to Kevin; not so much for his help (which was a huge part) but because he wasn't annoying. This sounds retarded, but why the hell would I want to train with people I don't like? He made it fun to go to the gym. Being a RA-RA kind of person is not my style nor do I want to lift with one. All of the guys that I trained with in Kentucky were great: Jason Adams, Grant Lanning and Kevin. I got to train with Evan Simon for awhile and never trained with J.L. Holdsworth, but that's a whole other story that's funnier than hell.
I am very lucky to have spent time at Westside Barbell and it was a dream of mine to lift there. But since I am no longer competing I would be a hindrance to the other members.
Jason: Dave was just talking to us earlier about his days in bodybuilding and talking about setting up bodybuilding style workouts which both of us were completely unfamiliar with. Now that you're not competing in powerlifting anymore, could you ever see yourself going down that route and going to the gym and just doing a day of bi's and tri's?
Jim: Dave had an intervention with me the other day. He sat me down and told me the secrets to getting huge. And who better to tell me? Dave can be 290lbs with a slight hint of abs. The problem is that his advice is something that I can't do. I have always trained like an athlete and don't see myself changing. Of course, I can't do what I used to do but I still love training like this.
Jason: I know neither of us feel like talking about training that much right now at eight o'clock on a Friday night, but lots of people will be interested in what you have to say so before we shift gears lets discuss a few more training related issues. First of all when I was in the bathroom before I overheard you saying that you think people should do six to ten lifts over 90% on max effort days. Most people are usually conscious to get three lifts above 90% but not six to ten. Can you give your reasoning for this?
Jim: Let me clarify this before people start going ape shit and e-mailing their congressman. I like simplicity. So let's break down how to get strong to its simplest form. To get strong you have to lift heavy weights. No one is going to dispute that. If they do, they are selling a gimmick. And you need to lift heavy weights frequently. You do not get stronger by lifting heavy weights every 6 months. And you need to lift heavy weights without overtraining. So, with this in mind, you need to lift heavy weights frequently enough to get stronger but not enough so you overtrain and get hurt. I hope this makes sense.
Now since everyone is different in regards to how they respond to volume, start with the low end of Prilipin's chart regarding 90%. This would include 3 lifts at or above 90%. The maximum, according to Prilipin, is 10 reps. The problem with Prilipin's chart is that it was developed using Olympic lifts and with junior weightlifters. This is something that seems to escape some people. So it's not something that is gospel, but it's a tremendous guide to start with. You have to know where your drop off point is and how much you can handle. This is something that you can use guidelines for but will have to find out for yourself.
This kind of training was used quite extensively by the Bulgarians and was shown in the book; Pocket Hercules. This book, more than any other, has shaped my way of training (at least for strength sports) more than any other.
I should mention that this kind of training was used only AFTER a large amount of time was spent on preparedness. So this is NOT for beginners. The book touches on what Naim did prior to his intense training regimen.
I should also point out that this is just ONE way to train. Not everyone can do this, obviously. But it is something that some people have gotten results with. It's definitely not something I would do with athletes, but great for a powerlifter.
Jason: If you could only pick one, what would you say is the single biggest mistake most people make when trying to get stronger?
Jim: The biggest mistake is not using cybernetic periodization and not listening to your body. You can somewhat plan your workouts, but if you feel like crap, what are you going to do? If you are feeling great, do you not push yourself? This is not very applicable for strength coaches at the high school, collegiate or professional levels. But if you are being trained by yourself, this is the best way to train. Obviously, a beginner needs a plan and needs to stick to it. He needs to learn what works and what doesn't. As one gets more experienced, he will know that if he feels like crap or his knee is swelled up or he didn't get much sleep in the last week, he needs to tailor his training accordingly.
I learned long ago that if I did a program with a lot of volume, that I would be fried, mentally and physically, for about a week. So even if I had a ton of energy after my main lift, I would be careful of what I did. This ensured that I could train more often. Again, this is a personal thing. Take a look at what Brian Siders is doing. His volume is insane, but that is what works for him. Everything you've ever read will tell you that Brian Siders' training is wrong. Fortunately, Brian never read these books or cared enough about them. I should point out that I am not in the same league as Brian Siders; not even close. I'm just giving two different perspectives on training.
I know people want a program laid out for them and have everything monitored. That's great to write about and great for a beginner. In the real strength world, that doesn't apply.
Jason: How much negative impact does training to failure and getting too fired up all the time have on your training and your ability to get stronger?
Jim: This usually kills me. Dave is known for getting fired up and he will admit that it really doesn't do him much good.
I gave up the whole psych routine. The best way to cure yourself of this misguided energy is go into a weight room with no intention of lifting and watch someone that loves to get frothy. There is no doubt that you will say to yourself, 93What a moron.94 A good example is getting drunk. Next time you find yourself remotely amusing when drinking, go to a bar, about one hour before closing, and watch the people that are stumbling around. You will quickly realize that you were/are one of those idiots.
Jason: Guilty as charged.
Jim: But it still makes for a great time.
Jason: That it does.
Jim: As far as training to failure, I don't think that this always the most optimal way to train. I won't say that you should NEVER do it, but it shouldn't be a staple in your program. Maybe that's why true HIT'ers can't train more than once every 15 days or whatever.
Jason: I finally learned to give up the whole psych routine myself, due in large part to your influence, and my training has been much better since. Moving on, what do you think are some of the best training books out there?
Jim: All of the Russian manuals are great as is the aforementioned Naim Suleymanolgu book. I think that Starting Strength is one of the better books out there.
Jason: Are there any other resources you recommend for people looking to learn more about training?
Jim: There is a lot of great information out there and I think that most of the books that are prescribed are good. But I will always say that I have learned thousands times more by training myself, listening to other lifters and coaches and asking questions. I've also learned a ton by coaching.
I don't know if it's cool for me to say that, but it's true. I have the opportunity to talk to coaches everyday and have been exposed to training for over half of my life. The only bad thing about the mass exchange of information is that no one is giving anything a real shot. They will read about some sort of training, do it for a month, and then switch when they read something else. So they have never given anything the proper time to take effect. When I first began training, there was very little that I had to go off of, as far as books. I had to learn from others and from myself. I made a lot of mistakes but I learned from each of these.
The best thing that books, DVD's and other resources did was patch holes in my training.
The strange thing is that I've always made great gains by training with strong people. But, I've also had a lot of fun training by myself. What I've found out that with a family and a great job, I've had little time to myself. Training alone has given me the opportunity to have that alone time where it's just me and the weights. I know this sounds kind of strange, but there is nothing like training to trance inducing doom and getting stupid. I know I'm rambling right now, so I'll stop.
Jason: What is any strength coachís most important responsibility to his or her athletes?
Jim: To prepare the athlete for their given sport. Some may say injury prevention, but itís hard to get injured sitting on the bench. Remember that a strength and conditioning coach is only one piece of the puzzle, but still an important piece. The key is have the athletes ready to play at their highest possible level for their game/match, etc. This could mean a ton of different things, but the bottom line is if the athletes are ready for their competition, and are as physically and mentally ready as possible, then you have done your job.
Jason: What does it take to be a good strength coach or trainer?
Jim: Iím going to first say that I have been out of the strength coach/trainer game for quite some time. So Iím not an expert by any means. But looking back, and talking with coaches on a regular basis, I think the most overlooked thing is NOT education but communication. I know a lot of people that can tell you everything and write a book or article on it, but what happens when 30 swimmers show up unexpected and the head swimming coach wants to train forearms? How do you approach it? How do you approach a misguided sport coach? How do you maintain your integrity without telling the coach that heís a moron? This is the key to communication. A coach that believes in his program is terrific; how he is able to effectively manage all the people around him (and for a strength coach there are a lot of people to deal with) and foster relationships that promote trust is the key.
Jason: Well put. If you were going to outfit an athletic training center what equipment would you get in order of importance?
Jim: The most important pieces would be a rack w/ a chin up bar, bench, a bar, plates and a set of dumbbells. A lifting platform would also be great. I think med balls are a terrific tool for athletes. Once you have the basics, then you can start branching out into more specialty items such as a glute ham raise or a 45 degree back raise. The key to setting up a training center is look at your philosophy and build around it.
Jason: Some guru's tell us that it's possible to gain huge amounts of muscle and still eat extremely clean and stay under ten percent body fat all year. What's your opinion of this?
Jim: I donít think thatís possible to gain huge amounts of muscle without the use of G.H. and anabolic steroids. This is especially true for an advanced athlete that eats very clean. For most people, thatís just not reality. There are genetically gifted people that can do this, but letís be honest; how many people do you know that can achieve this?
Jason: What are some of the best weight gaining foods out there?
Jim: In my experience, large amounts of red meat, milk, and a lot of rice and potatoes. This has always worked for me. Itís just a matter of doing it, which isnít always the easiest.
Jason: Do you have any weight gain tips and tricks you could share?
Jim: This is what I did to gain a ton of weight. Itís not healthy, but it worked. Breakfast: 1 lb of ground beef plus 2 cups of rice
Snack: Weight gain shake
Lunch: Whatever Ė usually another 1 lb of beef
Snack: Weight gain shake
Dinner: 1 lb of ground beef plus 2 cups rice
Snack: Weight Gain shake
3 A.M feeding: Weight gain shake
I felt like crap doing this but I got strong as hell.
Jason: How does being on steroids affect your ability to train? Should your volume be higher or lower and what other considerations must be made? I know there are many common misconceptions here and would like to hear your opinions on them.
Jim: I find this issue to be strange. First, most of the ďresearchĒ on anabolics was done on bodybuilders. They train their muscles. They do train with a certain amount of exertion, but there is a big difference in doing sets of ten then doing several sets at 90%. Athletes are training their nervous system, which is much different that what a bodybuilder is doing. So while it may look like an athlete should be able to do more volume, based on the bodybuilding research, in reality, it is not the astronomical increase that people would have you believe. Being "on" does not mean you can handle more volume. Most of the people that I know that are "on" are very experienced lifters and don't do as much volume as they once did. This is because of their training age. Most people that delve into the "dark forces" are experienced lifters (at least the ones that I know) and have already paid their Schwarzenegger (volume) dues. Also, conditioning during a workout has a lot to do with bodyweight. Being "on" usually increases your bodyweight and thus many times, your conditioning level goes in the crapper. So, you can't do as much as you did before you started. If you think I'm bullshitting you, try putting a 30-40lbs weight vest on and doing your standard workout. Welcome to the land of good stuff. Also, as anyone with half a brain can tell you, taking orals is a great way to screw up your conditioning. D-bol/Anadrol will definitely make you out of breath. So while in theory, taking drugs will be able to increase your workload, I've seen results that say otherwise. I also think that a lot of the ideas on drugs are being put forth by bodybuilders, who train the muscle, not the CNS.
Jason: What kind of recommendations would you make to some one coming off steroids? What should they do to keep their gains and how should they alter their training?
Jim: The most important thing is that they are mentally ready to get off. You can have all your clomid and HCG lined up and ready, but if you arenít mentally ready to get off, then you are going to have problems. You can visit any steroid forum for advice on what drugs to take afterwards but here is some unique advice. Iíve already stated that the mental portion of getting off drugs is the most important. What you need to do is attack your mental problem areas one by one and see what you can do to correct them. This is the most important thing. If you are not ready for a diminished sex drive, getting weaker and losing mass then this can be very difficult. For example, if you are worried about losing sensations in your nether region, then take some Tribex. For losing weight and strength some creatine would work pretty well, also. If you have one body part that makes you feel ?big?, then devote some more time to this area (or do whatever you need to do) to keep it pumped and keep it bigger. The bottom line is that you need to attack this mentally rather than physically.
Jason: I noticed you doing lots of mobility and flexibility work earlier today. Was this always important to you or is becoming more important now because you are more focused on feeling better and not ending up like Dave?
Jim: I used to do a lot of this and then listened to all of the experts and stopped doing it. What a massive mistake. I started stretching again, despite the warnings, about three years ago and things have gotten better. I did the basic toe touches, groin stretch, hip flexor stretch, the same stuff that you did when you were in pee-wee football. This was the only way that I could squat. I have very tight hips. I canít sit for prolonged periods of time without extreme discomfort. This is not good when Iím on a plane. Do I want to end up as banged up as Dave? Hell no. A lot of this stuff is preventive medicine.
Jason: When we were on the beach before you mentioned how some experts have said that running in sand has a negative impact on athletic ability and that you did not agree. Can you share those thoughts with our readers as well as name a few of the biggest myths and misconceptions that you do not agree with?
Jim: Hereís where Iím going to go with this answer. No matter what training or diet advice you can get, there is going to be someone or something to dispute it. Now you are left confused. So you are left basically doing nothing. Everything is great and everything sucks. After awhile, people will do two things; train the way they know or give up. For example, all through high school I ran hills. I grew up just outside of Chicago so Walter Payton was a huge influence on me. Now I know that running hills isnít supposed to be the greatest activity, especially because it messes up your mechanics or whatever. But guess who was in better condition and had stronger legs? Now was it the most effective? Youíre goddamn right it was. Mentally, I thought I was the baddest SOB on the field. Who ditched all of the Friday night parties to run hills on Saturday morning? Who left most of their lunch on the hill after the workouts? So while it may have not been what a sprint coach would prescribe, for my situation it was what I needed. You give a kid strength is his head, and you have strength in the body. You just need to know how to tap into this. Fast forward to 2005. According to every chart and every book, the way that I trained was wrong. I didnít do a ton of accessory work, and very little speed work. Yet I still had my best meet ever. Itís more important to do WHAT you need to do, rather then what you are supposed to. I have talked to James Smith about how we forget the most important factor of sports: the mental portion. I talked to him about this the other day and I will use Ray Lewis as an example. Here is a guy that is a leader; there is no doubt about it. The Ravens defense is based around him and he takes charge. I guarantee that if someone is not doing their job or not giving 100%, he will call him on it. And he expects the same out of himself. Is he the fastest linebacker? No, but heís certainly quick. Is he the strongest? No, but heís not weak. What he has is a personality that allows him to get the most out of himself AND his teammates. Instead of looking at him physically, look at him mentally. Find out what makes him so good. This is so overlooked.
Jason: Thatís a great point that I think people miss all too often and needed to be said.
Okay, enough about training. I think weíre both to drunk for anymore of that talk so letís move on. How has having a family changed your views on training, work, life, etc.?
Jim: The first thing that I learned was that I was no longer the center of the universe. For almost 30 years, it was all about me. Now I have two people that rely on me to live. I also have a responsibility to both my wife and son to set the right example. I may not always do it, but I try. And maybe the right example isnít correct in some peopleís eyes, but if they want to start pointing fingers they can start by looking in the mirror.
When it comes down to it, I want to give my family a life of laughter and comfort.
I know some people seem to think that because of my family that I was ďforcedĒ to retire. They obviously donít know much. My wife has been and always will be supportive. As stated before, I wasnít having much fun anymore and thatís the real reason.
Jason: In Jim Wendlerís opinion, what is the meaning of life? What is most important to you and what are some of the biggest problems in the world today?
Jim: The meaning of life? Wow. I had a long talk with my wife the other night and we talked about this. Now this is my opinion so many people might not agree with me. The meaning of life, according to me, is to make the world around you a better place. Let me explain. I hear all the time how people need to ďmake a differenceĒ and ďlend a handĒ, etc. The problem with this is that most people think that in order to make a difference you need to cure cancer or save a starving nation. They feel like they canít make a difference. The key is the phrase ďthe world around youĒ. This needs to be clarified. The world around each person is different. You donít have to venture to unknown lands to make a difference. Letís examine Dave Tate. Dave started EFS and has helped thousands of people reach their training goals. He has answered countless e-mails, phone calls and coached at many seminars. He has helped the lifters at Westside Barbell as well as visitors and coaches that came in. Without realizing it, this helped his business grow. In doing so, he has had the ability to hire more people (letís use me as an example) and help them achieve a great life. Of course, there is his family and friends, but you get the point. Dave, in the world around him, is making things better.
Even simpler, just thank the people that serve you on a regular basis. Thank the waiter/waitress and the people at the bank. A smile isnít that difficult.
Understand that we all have a different world that surrounds us. Letís be honest and say that most lower/middle class people have little shot at being President of the United States. You have to have money to win. But those that choose to embrace that potential role need to take into account that their world is now vastly different than most of ours. But, and I digress, the values of those in the political machine are so vastly different than most Americans, that I wonder if they even realize when they are doing something wrong. I will use Woody Allen as an example. When he married his adopted daughter, everyone thought he was a sick bastard. But sometimes I wonder if Woody Allenís morals, having been away from the normal world for so long, were so skewed that it really didnít phase him. The same can be said with many of those in the federal government. How long do you have to be part of the process that everything you were taught when you were young goes out the window?
As far as the biggest problems today - I think the biggest thing is the lack of spirituality in the world. Now this may surprise some people because I have a huge pentagram tattooed on my arm and other assorted ďevilĒ goodies. But again, let me clarify. Spirituality can have a religious context, but it doesnít have to. What I see around me is a lot of people who are relying on physical objects for emotional well-being and self worth. They believe that by having X car or X house that their life will be better. Look at all the credit card debt and all the commercials on TV that are trying to sell you something. They arenít selling you a product, they are trying to make you feel guilty if donít have the correct pair of jeans. They want to make you feel that if you donít have something, you are worthless. The best thing I ever did was severely limit my TV watching and start going outside more. I donít get caught up in petty gossip and try to stay away from negative people.
I used to get really mad about some of the above things, but realized that I have a family that I need to take care of and these values are something that I need to pass on. I canít clean the world if my own house is a mess.
Jason: Wow. Great stuff bro. Letís see you tackle this one. If you were president, how would this country be different?
Jim: What a question. The thing that I would focus on the most would be education and getting our priorities straight in that department. Iíve been in high schools that have weight rooms in their bathrooms because of no funding. The plumbing has not been updated in decades and they are just NOW getting rid of the asbestos. What a joke. The school lunches are full of crap and the idea of standardized testing has forced the educational system to focus on them, rather than education. You have schools in Ohio that had to cancel all sports, all after school activities because of budget problems. I canít imagine going through high school with no sports or no dances. These things are important to kids and sometimes we forget that.
Things such as art, music and gym class have all been left hanging. What a tragedy. These things are essential in developing the person. Itís funny how everything seems to revolve around the advancement of technology but as soon as I got rid of our telephone, our home computer and almost all T.V., our lives have changed for the better. Makes you wonder why our system is so geared for ďmaking our lives simplerĒ when all it does is make things complicated.
The key is to stop pointing fingers and do something about this. Maybe itís the Democrats or maybe itís the Republicans. Who cares, really. The problem is that most of us have no idea how politics really work. The solutions that seem so simple are wrapped in so much red tape that itís almost impossible to get anything done. Do we attack everything independently or do we do a complete wash of everything? I think weíve taken an approach to problems similar to that of a competitive athlete that is injured. Instead of looking for the cause of the real problem, we simply put a wrap on it, tape it up, take some painkillers and hope it can last for awhile. This works for awhile, but it always causes more problems.
Both of my parents were teachers. The thing that Iíve learned from them is that education starts at home. When parents donít take the initiative to teach their children, even if itís very basic stuff, then this is when education starts to break down. This doesnít mean teaching a kid how to split the atom, but simple things can go a long way.
This is still the best country to live in. While I was getting my last tattoo, I had the privilege to speak to a Marine that was home from Iraq. He commented to me that he wasnít quite sure about the reason of why he was over there, but he did his job and spoke with great pride. You could tell from his eyes that he was proud of serving his country. This was refreshing and gave me more confidence in the American people that ever before.
Look at the response to the tragedy of 9/11. New York responded, as did our whole country, and this speaks volumes of our citizens. It was not the politicians that did this, but the people of the country. People put aside the B.S and worked to make things better. Not for themselves but for others. This is what this country is about.
Jason: And people wonder why I love you. Before I start singing the national anthem with tears in my eyes lets shift gears to some lighter topics. You mentioned your last tattoo and I must say that the new ink looks sick. You beat me to it but I still want to get that kind of lettering done so I hope you don't mind if I bite your style. Where do you get all your stuff done and what do you have planned next
Jim: Everything but the lettering on my forearms was done by Beef Stu. Heís a tattoo artist that is located in Austin, Texas. He used to work in Lexington, Kentucky and thatís where I first met him. I came to him with some twisted stuff and he jumped on it. He was sick and tired of doing dolphins, college logos, roses and other assorted mainstream goodies. What I do now is get a couple of ideas and let him run with it. When I sit down with him, we have a general idea of whatís going to happen, but thereís some improv. Since we both know what we want, itís really easy. We have such a wonderful relationship. (massive sarcasm)
Jason: How does that go over with the in-laws?
Jim: I donít know about the in-laws. I donít think they like it too much, but I refuse to live my life by someone elseís standards. They have always been great to me, so I canít complain.
Jason: I know Whitney is cool as hell and you guys have a great relationship so she won't mind me asking this. Who are the top five hottest girls out there right now?
Jim: Iím very lucky to have Whitney. Sheís secretly crazy. To be honest, I havenít the faintest clue on whoís hot and whoís not. But I will say that Kate Hudson is pretty damn hot. The fact that I canít answer this question makes me feel old.
Jason: Kate Hudson?! I donít know about that pick. Iíd opt for Jessica Alba or Jessica Biel any day over Kate Hudson.
Jim: But Kate married a stoned out singer, so she canít be all bad.
Jason: Good Point. I know youíre a big movie guy so what are your top five movies of all time?
Jim: I am a movie snob. If Iím going to sit down for two hours of my day and watch something, then it better be good. I have no problems turning a movie off. With that being said Iím going to list two movies that I think most people donít know about but should see. Keep in mind that I am very picky about movies and have different tastes. The first movie is Zero Effect. One of the funniest, wittiest movies Iíve seen. The second movie that no one has seen is The Spanish Prisoner. It was written by David Mamet and the dialogue is certainly different. If anyoneís ever seen Oleanna than they know what Iím talking about.
As far as more mainstream movies, Iím a huge fan of Usual Suspects. That movie knocked me on my ass. I stayed up all night watching that movie; I got a D on a quiz in college because I didnít read part of Homerís Odyssey.
Jason: Thatís definitely one of my all time favorites.
Jim: I loved ďO Brother, where art thou?Ē because of the dialogue. Iíve watched that movie more times than I care to admit.
It seems like Hollywood has put out the same movie for the past 20 years. They are kind of like AC/DC. They change the actors and the time period, but it just gets too boring. I want a movie that will kick me square in the crotch and I still want to come back for more.
Jason: What about your top five books?
Jim: The Demon by Hubert Selby, The Fermata by Nicholson Baker, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Stand by Stephen King.
There is something to be said for an author that can tell a story and you never want to put the book down.
Jason: I hear ya. On one final note here to wrap this up let me ask you this. I know we covered this a bit earlier but when itís all said and done, how do you want Mason to think of his dad? What do you want him to say were the most important things you taught him and what would you like to hear him say when reminiscing about the time he spent with you?
Jim: I want him to think of his Dad the same way that I think of my father; a man that has helped me through bad times, picked me up when I was down, and put me in my place when I was too high. Someone that gave me money when I was hungry, taught me how to throw a baseball and told me that anything less than my best was/is unacceptable. A father that co-signed for my first guitar, listens to my weekly rants and nods his head even if he thinks Iím way off base. A man that came to every single game, even when I was in college, and always reserves judgment until he has the facts; I hope that my son is as lucky as I have been.
Thanks for posting this JT.
Great article, cheers for posting
Some interesting stuff in there. The points on steroids and volume training are new to me, I'd never heard it explained that way before.
I simply don't like forcing things. I prefer a natural progression.
Wendler's simplistic approach has always appealed to me and you can almost always rely on an entertaining read from him.
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