Saturday, May 7, 2016


I believe I can say, without refute, that Rocky IV was one of the greatest historical documentaries of all time regarding the Cold War conflict.  However, today let us discuss its prequel, Rocky III, wherein we observed the case of Clubber Lang.  As is typical of my style, my intent today is to vilify the hero and make a hero of the villain.  

Image result for Rocky IV
He doesn't make it easy

For my readers who are either too young to remember Rocky III or not awesome enough to have watched it, the movie takes place after Rocky has taken the heavyweight title and, with it, the resounding fame, fortune and love.  His face is on pinball machines, lunchboxes, and postage stamps, he is in advertisements, he poses for autographs, and in general is the center of much praise.  We observe that Rocky is receiving the reward for his hard work.

But where, during this time, is Clubber Lang?  In a dungeon of a gym, with rusted and torn up equipment, hammering away on himself and anyone in his path.  He toils relentlessly, singularly focused on one goal; to beat Rocky Balboa.  He lives it, breathes it, eats it, sleeps it.  He pushes himself to the point of breaking, because he knows that’s what it’s going to take to win.

Wait...who is the star of this movie again?

Ask yourself this though, dear reader; during this training, do we ever see Clubber Lang bragging to anyone about his accomplishments?  Is there a scene where, after completing 30 pull ups off of some rebar, Mr. Lang takes a photo of himself to share to the world?  Do we see him calling his friends and family to tell them what an awesome training session he had?  Are there high fives all around with his crew for every single accomplishment he achieves?

And when the time comes, in their initial match-up, who fares better, Rocky or Clubber?  Why?  Because Rocky already GOT his reward.  He was absolved of the onus to work any harder, because he already had all the praise and glory that came with his work.  Clubber Lang, on the other hand, had yet to receive his reward, so he went out and took it.  And he did so violently, with murderous intent and unbridled furiousity (which apparently isn’t a word, but I’m using it).  As Jack Dempsey spoke of, he went out there with “bad intentions”.

And Jack might know something about bad intentions

THIS is the lesson young trainees NEED to understand; you only get your reward once.  With the social media explosion we have today, EVERYONE wants their reward, and they want it now.  For every insignificant accomplishment everyone “achieves”, they have to share it with the world and accumulate likes and thumbs up and retweets and whatever other insanity is perpetuated online.  However, this doesn’t boost your self-esteem; it dilutes the quality OF your accomplishments.  When you start getting praise for small things, there is zero need for you to accomplish anything greater.

Clubber Lang refused to seek out validation for his training because that defeated the point.  He didn’t want to be the baddest man in the gym; he wanted to be the baddest man in the world.  He wanted to put everything on the line, and make it so that the only time any of his effort was worth it was when he took the heavyweight title.  Can you fathom the pressure?  Can you imagine training hours on end, day after day, months at a stretch, losing friends and family, bleeding in training, going insane from isolation…and then losing?  For all of that to be worth NOTHING?  When we put the reward for our actions at the end of the journey instead of along the way, we CREATE that pressure, and in doing so provide the fuel necessary to achieve something significant.

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It's amazing what you can do under the right pressure

Rocky already GOT his reward.  The public swooned over every action that he took.  The man literally stopped in the middle of training to take a photo with the adoring public that was spectating his training.  Are those the actions of a man looking to win?  Are those the actions of a desperate man, whose only source of happiness comes from victory, or is it instead the act of one who is complacent, fat, slovenly, and happy?

If you already GOT your reward, you don’t deserve another one.  That’s just plain greedy.  You have to decide when you want to get your reward.  If you’re posting every meal, every set, every workout, every PR, etc etc, then that’s when you get your reward.  If you slave away by yourself, putting in the work, keeping your nose to the grindstone, refusing to share with the world, etc, then when the time comes to perform you get to put that ALL on the line.  I assure you, the one who hasn’t gotten their reward yet is going to fight much harder than then one who has.

Image result for 3rst place 
Sometimes it's worth holding out for a better reward

And if I may, let us address the insanity of competitors sharing their success in training online.  What manner of insanity IS this?  In war, would you share with your enemy your strategy?  Your troop numbers?  Supply info?  ANY intel?  Then why would you share this with your competition?  Why would you want them to know exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are?  It used to be, back in the day, athletes would try to HIDE their info from the opposition as best they could. Hell, people got in trouble in the NFL for filming the practice of another team so that their team could learn from it and get better.  Now we have competitors just GIVING it away.  What is this madness?  All so that you can get some likes on facebook? 

If given the choice, I’d rather knock out Rocky than have 13 people like a video of me doing chin-ups on facebook…but maybe that’s just me.


  1. I've got to say man, I've really been enjoying your writing. Your competitive mindset and the 'simple', singular focus on the 'goal' is a nice change from a lot of the other stuff out there. Keep it up man.

    "And if I may, let us address the insanity of competitors sharing their success in training online. What manner of insanity IS this?"

    This never sat well with me. I competed in Muay Thai for a long time, and now Strongman, and I've never understood posting videos of your training. Good to know I'm not the only 'crazy' one.

    1. Hey thanks man. Glad to have you as a reader. I'm sure the background in Muay Thai pays off well in strength sports, what with you being used to being hammered and abused, haha. It is simply mind blowing that people would willingly share their weaknesses with their opponents just so that someone will like their video on social media. Maybe the reduced risk of getting knocked out helps.

      Let me know if there is ever anything you'd like covered in the blog. Take care till then.

    2. I think a big difference is that you aren't *really* competing against others in PL/Strongman the way you are in fighting or even other team sports. Obviously NFL you want to keep your plays secret. If I can only hit 10 reps on log, if someone posts a video of them doing 12, how does that affect anyone? I get that, at the highest level, it could make a psychological difference, and I still think it's dumb, I just don't think that it's an issue of strategy for 99% of PL/SM competitors.


    3. You raise a good point. Allow me to demonstrate from my own experience where seeing videos of others allowed me to be more successful in a strongman contest.

      Since I train alone and most of my contests involved my first time with an implement, I'd have no idea what a competitive number was for an event. I'd find out what the events are, and then just start hammering away at them, splitting my attention equally among them, trying to improve all of them.

      However, once, while prepping for a contest with a press medley in it, I was trying harder and harder to complete the medley in a shorter time, until I saw a lot of folks posting videos of their training...only to see that they were struggling to compete the medley PERIOD. It wasn't a question of "who was going to do this the fastest", it was "who is going to do this", and since I was already knocking out the medley, I decided to completely deprioritize training it, and instead start really focusing on my weaker events. Had that video not been made available, I would have been wasting training time on an event I already had nailed and NOT been improving the things I was really lacking at. Consequently, this was the first event I ever placed in, taking second out of 14ish competitors.

      Now, I'm still just a local scrub and this is just for fun, but I still think it's possible that some of those folks that weren't great pressers might've beaten me on the moving events if I wasn't able to prioritize training them.

    4. Yeah that's fair and I'm sure you aren't the only one to have benefitted from it. I just think for 90% of competitors the social media side is worth more (as entertainment) than squeezing every last drop of competitive advantage out of training. I think it's particularly dumb when you read/hear about competitors psyching themselves out of events or competing because of another competitor's videos/lifts. One of my buddies does highland games. Threw in college, had dicked around a bit with the games events in a guy's backyard kind of thing, and obviously didn't have any official records of his Games throws (they call them marks). He shows up to his first games, local fair kinda place, and there's this douchey guy who goes, "Oh, you're ____? I looked up everyone's marks and you don't have any, so I'm thinking I can beat you today." Kid looked especially dumb when my friend beat him and is now pro 2 years later......spend less time on the internet, more time throwing things.

      At the end of the day, I think social media is dumb and everyone takes shit way too seriously. Shut up, lift, and have fun!


    5. Haha, amazing story and great conclusion!

    6. My mentality towards it has very much carried over from my time fighting, and it doesn't really apply in the same way (at least at the level of competition I'm in now) but I still can't shake it, it's just the competitor in me haha.

      One of the ways I saw it was I never wanted to motivate my opponents/competitors to train harder or smarter. Showing a weakness is one thing, but I also don't want to show anything that's going to 'inspire' them or drive them to put in more effort. I know for sure that if I see someone putting up numbers just a little off what I can handle I'm definitely upping the training, and I expect and plan for others to do the same. A lazy opponent is always preferable to someone motivated.

    7. Another excellent point Ben. Showing weaknesses can be fatal, but so can showing strength. I'm of the same mindset, where seeing someone do something better than me doesn't discourage me, but encourages me instead. I say "Hell, if someone else can do it, then so can I"

      Much better to keep your hand hidden and pull out the trump card on contest day.

  2. Great read, including the comments discussion, but I have to give you nerd props for the still from the Punisher videogame from back in the day, haha.

    1. Thanks for that man. I'm really appreciating how much more active the comments section has become as of recently. Makes the writing process all the more rewarding.

      Along with being in the video game, that still was in the Punisher comic "Born". If you've not read it, it's great, as was everything Ennis wrote. Very real imagining of the character.

      And I will always fly my nerd flag with pride, haha.