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I Live My Life By The Principles of Strength

November 29, 2005 08:48 AM

Introduction

My name is Bud Jeffries. If you're reading this site you probably know me and you've probably seen my friend Dennis Rogers on TV somewhere, while you may not remember his name, you'll definitely remember the crazy feat of strength you saw him perform. I've been asking him to take some time out of his ridiculously busy schedule to write some articles, because I believe what he has to say about power and strength can be a huge benefit to both the beginners and the members of this community. There are some things you need to know to understand not only why you should be listening to Dennis, but how incredibly powerful he is and how that can transfer over to your training.

Dennis is a former Arm wrestling World Champion who is now the top professional old-time strongman in the world. I believe he is the living Grand-Master of the old-time strength feats. The Association of Oldetime Barbell and Strongman dubbed him, "Pound for Pound The World's Strongest Man for the feats he performs." He was given their "Super Strength Athlete The AOBS Highest Achievement Award," when he performed a feat called, "The Human Link," in which he held back two US Air Force T-34 Aircraft, preventing them from taking off. He also does many other feats just a few of which include full-range, double bodyweight deadlifting with one finger, a one finger-one arm chin up, tearing decks of cards into eighths (that's right? I said EIGHTHS!), driving a nail through a frying pan stacked on top of a license plate stacked on top of a two-inch board with just his hand. At a bodyweight of 148 pounds he one arm preacher curled a 117lb dumbbell. (Hence the "Pound-for-Pound" title). Because of the incredible shows he puts on and his deep commitment to God and helping people he averages 150 to 200 performances a year. Often in three to four different cities per week performing at schools, churches, corporate events, motorcycle dealerships, etc. He has been on basically every major TV talk show (Oprah, Montel, Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, etc.), as well as multiple appearances on The Discovery Channel, news stations and variety shows. There's a reason for this, because even though most people in the world have no idea what real strength is, Dennis is so strong that you just can't miss it.

When he talks about strength, everybody listens. You should too.


I make my living as a professional old time strongman. That means I perform feats of strength in shows all over the world to entertain, motivate and inspire people. Since this is what I do with my life the intensity and importance of the principles by which I train are magnified, but guess what, the same principles advocated here at Dragon Door are the principles that work for me. Here are some thoughts on how these principles of power apply in my everyday life and how they can make your training better.

Strength is a skill. A large part of my training consists of specific practice on the feats that I perform such as nail driving, card tearing, bending spikes, wrenches and steel bars. I also train with conventional equipment including dumbbells, bodyweight exercises, cables, grip equipment and even the kettlebell. In fact the kettlebell was part of the training that I used to build power for arm wrestling. But what makes a difference in the way that I train is not so much the implements that I use, but the way that I use them. You see whenever I'm training I'm generating maximal tension in the muscles that I train, regardless of what implement I'm using. By doing this I'm constantly teaching my body to create strength in the muscles that I can then apply to whatever the task is at hand be it bending, tearing, etc.

Low Reps For Strength

The fastest way to maximum strength is training at your highest possible level of resistance. That means low reps, one to five. All of the old time strongmen trained not only with their basic implements in low reps, but also just as I do with maximal level specific work or specific feats of performance.

You see the old time strongmen feats are not just displays of strength they are strength builders. By training them just as you would with a barbell you build strength that you cannot only apply to those feats, but will carry over to the rest of your life be it barbell training or day to day work.

Explosive Movements for Total Body Power

Some of my favorite exercises and exercises of many of the old time strongmen are explosive or ballistic movements. Not only are they great strength and conditioning, but they apply directly to the work of an old time strongman. In fact two of my favorite exercises for building the explosive ability necessary for driving a nail through a board with your hand are the one arm swing and the one arm snatch. They both help to coordinate the entire body behind fast, powerful contractions that then transfer directly over to your physical work, to total body strength or to combat. The principle behind what's necessary to drive a nail is just like what is necessary to perform a powerful strike.
Exercises like these help to increase that total body explosive power necessary for both.

High Reps for Endurance Training

Along with the strength necessary to perform the feats that I do, I must build endurance for three reasons. First in doing a proper, well thought out strongman show you'll be performing multiple, fairly difficult feats back to back with little rest and more than likely having to talk to the audience between the feats. That means I have to be in shape, because I can be neither out of breath (unable to talk), or too fatigued to complete my next feat. Secondly for many years now I have performed between 100 and 150 shows per year, (with a high of 212 in one year). That means I average multiple performances every week and have to be at full strength for each one. The better the shape I'm in, the faster I can recover between shows. Thirdly, performing high reps helps build healthy muscle. Muscle with great circulation and great endurance, which adds to my strength, something that is contrary to the popular belief that high reps would take away from it. It also completes the four great pillars of tendon building (low reps, high reps, partial movements and odd angle movements).

So what does it for me? Well two combinations. Either a high volume of moderate rep or effort specific strongman work or a combination of very high rep bodyweight (once did 78 dips without resting or coming off the parallel bars while competing with Bill Kazmaier, but that's a story for another time), or dumbbell work mixed with rope skipping. Regular cardio just won't do the job. I need the combination of high level cardio and muscular endurance.

Grip Training

A great majority of the old time strongman and the feats that I perform are grip intensive, therefore much of my training is geared to also be grip intensive. I also apply the same principles of whole body training to grip training. As in low reps, high tension, specific movements, explosive movements, high rep movements. I also try to make as many of these movements as possible what I call, "Tie-In Movements." That is a movement that serves multiple purposes by tying in multiple muscle connections to enhance their combined strength to perform strength feats.

Total Body and Abdominal Movements

No real strength is ever created without having a body that can function as one piece. Exercises that strengthen the abdominals and their connection to the upper and lower body as well as exercises that build a body that's generally strong from every angle. It is the only way to have a base that you can build on to get great at strongman feats or to be healthy and athletically powerful. If you want strong hands and arms they still need a strong base to work off of.

As Often As Possible, As Fresh As Possible

With the volume of shows that I do I can ill-afford to train to failure very often because of the excess fatigue it produces or to be extremely sore. Therefore much of my training is geared around practicing the feats and often I am doing so many shows that they are in essence my training. So I'm training the same body parts and movements four or more times a week and even often multiple times per day. Therefore each training session is set up to give me the work I need, but still let me be as fresh as possible. Because I'm practicing the feats very frequently I not only build strength, but I also have a very precise groove and spot-on technique.

When I'm home and have a few days rest I generally take some workouts with a little higher volume or a little more intensity, but always following the same principles. In fact if you look at it, these are the same principles that governed almost all the training of the successful old time strongmen. You should be using them too if you want to get real results.



Dennis Rogers is considered Pound-for-Pound the World's Strongest Man. He regularly performs astounding feats world wide for television and packed live audiences. No faking, always real feats done with real muscle with a real message. He has recently produced the first in a series of DVDs on how to perform the old time strongman feats called "How To Drive A Nail Without A Hammer", as well as a first of its kind strength entertainment DVD called, "336 Pounds of Fury", which showcases him and his prot?g? Pat Povailitis performing incredibly mind-boggling, inspirational and authentic feats of strength. He has also recently released an instructional and documentary DVD, on one of the last living old time strongmen, the mysterious and absolutely unbelievable Slim "The Hammerman" Farman. For more information go to www.dennisrogers.net.
 

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