If you are the strongest guy in the gym, LEAVE

Jeff Miller

          We all have seen that guy.  We know who he is.  The atmosphere in the building changes when he walks into the gym.  Some people talk smack under their breath about him.  Others make eye contact and shoot him an approving head nod.  According to some national gym franchises, women and children run for cover by the mere intimidation of his presence. As they cancel their memberships by the hundreds.  Younger lifters will actually stay after their workout is over just to see what feats of strength this man will do.  People give him nicknames like beast, animal, gorilla, monster, grizzly bear and tons more.

I know all this because for much of my life I was that guy.  As I walked into the gym the desk clerk would sing “Jeff Miller, Jeff Miller” like John Henry had arrived.  I was the animal who lifted the crazy weights.  I’d transform myself into a loud intense madman who looked at the weights as my enemies.  Those enemies were trying to stop me from where I needed to be.  I didn’t chit chat.  I didn’t take my headphones off.  I fed off of people’s weakness.  I used to love watching people miss their sets.  To me they missed because all the energy in that gym was drawn to one entity.  Me.  Anger, hate, rage, delusions of grandeur all fueled my training.  Over and over I would ask myself “Who’s the man? Who’s the man?”  I loved being the alpha dog in the yard.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing.  When you are 6’3 and almost 400 lbs. people are automatically intimidated by you.  Then, start breathing like a locomotive, talking to yourself and yelling out about shaking the ground and scaring villagers and some people flat out hate you.  I have had a ton of haters in my thirty one years of lifting weights.  My best friend of today even hated me at first.  He thought I acted like an idiot yelling and carrying on before my sets, when we first met.  Years later after training together and traveling to many meets together I guess we found common ground.  Now he is every bit as intense as I am and slightly crazier. Eventually he would stop training with me and start training with a group of bad ass powerlifting legends like Paul Childress, Joe Dougherty, Mike Wlosinski, Brooke Fineis and others.  His numbers shot through the roof.  While at this time, mine were actually struggling some.  I couldn’t figure it out really because we were on similar conjugate programs. Why was he getting so strong? I didn’t figure it out until I too switched gyms.

Was it the change of scenery that was the magic potion? Nope. I trained in commercial gyms, usually alone.   Then was it a new program, better supplements, diet or more sleep? None of that.  The missing link was hooking up with guys who blew my lifts away.  I wasn’t “The Man” anymore.  People didn’t kiss my butt when I walked in or sing songs about me.  They just out lifted me every training session and let me know about it.  I hated every second of it.  I don’t like losing.  It eats at me.  I’m hyper-competitive.  If you get 4 reps I’m getting 5 even if I have to tear my shoulder right off to do it.  So it motivated me to work that much harder not to be the low man on the totem pole.

Being internally motivated, I don’t need pep talks or a person in my ear to get me into the zone.  Talking trash is a totally different ballgame.  Now smack talking isn’t going to be very effective if it’s coming from some weak geek.  On the other hand, if it’s coming from a world champion who out benches you by two hundred pounds, it should definitely motivate you.  They aren’t going to be impressed with your lift.  They aren’t going to blow sunshine up your rear end.  They want to beat you just like you want to beat them.  Those are the best people to train with.  The type of guy who asks if you lost a little weight because your arms look really small.

Another plus about training with people who are better than you is the wealth of knowledge you now have access to.  Finding partners who understand the ins and outs of the iron game can be an invaluable tool for any lifter. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran of the gym.  The day you stop learning is the day you stop progressing.  That doesn’t mean to interrupt during training with a thousand questions. Most questions can be saved for after training, a text or DM.  I got some great advice once on the best way to get advice from a lifter you admire.  You ask if they want to grab a steak, your treat.  Explain you wanted to pick their brain on some things.  That shows you value their time and respect their opinion.

Are you the strongest guy in your gym?  Ask yourself if you want to keep on impressing the masses who don’t know any better?  Or do you want to get into a group of killers?  Do you want to use the motivation to pick them off one by one  until you are not only the strongest guy in the gym, but the strongest. Period.

 

 

The Gym

I have been fairly quiet the past few months, meaning anything you have seen online from me is tied to the ever evolving life I am building AROUND my training, not letting my entire existence be defined by my training.

But what that has done, is prevent me from sharing ideas that I haven’t tested. I have been doing the work. I train every single day, many workouts have made little to no sense on paper, but they feel like they have been the best in reality. I have been delving into my past and contacting old training partners, and having them rehash some old stories with me. I believe that I have trained with some very incredible people, many that preceded the Internet in there lifting greatness.

There were several gyms that we came to know as “THE GYM” in my town. you had Sipple’s in the early to mid 80’s, then Total Fitness, then Powerhouse, then Total Fitness, then Richmond Athletic Center, then Total Fitness. The gym may have changed over and over, but in this small town of 10,000-15,000 (thats a stretch) people you could walk into these gyms and see routinely 400, and 500 lbs bench presses, 400, 500, and 600 pound squats for reps, buried ass to grass, wearing a Wal-Mart lifting belt, deadlifts for 500, 600, for reps, and the occassional 700 lbs single.

How did this happen? Most of this was done, prior to the internet explosion, prior to anyone knowing what the hell “pelvic tilt” was, and most of these guys looked like in shape bodybuilders. Well, as one guy put it “we were too stupid not to get better.” These guys didn’t have a million resources to pull from, and they most certainly didnt have the latest and greatest training knowledge. Sound familiar? I quit listening to all that was being put out and just reinvented my relationship with the iron. I stopped allowing myself to see myself as an “expert” and started back doing what built my desire in the first place. I worked hard, and i built progression into each workout from the last. Simple. What they had, that I proudly tout as my own gifts, was heart, drive, and pride.

I remember on numerous occassions seeing a training partner of mine bench 315 for 25 reps on say a Tuesday, someone would come in running their mouth about how they could beat it, and he’d lay down cold and do his best, and my partner would also lay down cold and rep out 27, or 28.

I remember one time our workout was “Hack Squats for an hour”. We just hammered rep after body and mind numbing rep for an hour. Does this fit into any book of methods? Or reason? No. But, you know what it does accomplish? One, I think it built a tremendous base of muscle and strength in my body. Two, it removes your “quit button”. You know the guy you see in the gym that has some reason to quit during workouts? EVERYTIME? I wouldn’t have been allowed back in the gym had I quit.

So what the hell happened? My gym experience mirrors life. Kids now are increasingly disconnected from physical effort. I watched two of the best state football teams last fall, and aside from a couple of standouts, the rest looked they don’t know Muscle or efforts address. The majority of young lifters that I talk to online want huge results with minimal effort. Parents have allowed their kids to be weak, and they expect them to succeed in this life? Anyway without further rambling keep checking back, as I will be reviving my gym past through guys I used to train with, and I am sure some of the stories will inspire you, cause disbelief, and probably make you wish you had trained harder, but that’s the point.

11/6/18

Biceps

DB Curls

40 x 12 x 2

45 x 10 x 2

Standing Preacher Bar Curls

125 x 15 x 4

Seated Concentration Curls

45 x 12 x 4

Seated Incline Skullcrushers

125 x 15 x 5

Cable Pushdowns

100 reps

Single Arm DB Press

45 x Failure x 4 sets

Thats it for today. This was my second arm workout of the week. One is a bit heavier, and the other more for a pump.

11/7/18

Competition Bench

Warm Ups

275 x 6 x 4 sets

295 x 3 x 3 sets

315 x 3 x 2 sets

335 x 2

Close Grip

245 x 21

275 x 16

Tricep DB French Press

45 x 20 x 4 sets

Incline DB Press

100 x 15 x 3 sets

Tricep Pressdowns

100 reps

Lat Pulldowns

100 reps

11/8/18

For those of you wondering about my Knee Rehab there is nothing fancy to it. I warm up walking on the treadmill, or Eliptical this is usually 5-10 minutes to warm the joint. Stationary Bike x 15 minutes varying the seat height to change the movement of the knee.

Leg Press 135 x 10 x 5 sets, 185 x 10 x 5 sets, 225 x 1 set to failure

Step Ups x 20 x 4 sets

Squats

275 x 20 x 4 sets

Forward Leans (Partial Lunge Movement) x 10 x 3

RDL’s x 10 x 4 sets

11/1/18

Training has been on a positive upswing. Weights are moving well, and body is responding well. I was at Sorinex HQ last Monday, and Tuesday to lift at the SQUATOBER PR PARTY, and also to record some podcasts. All in all it’s always a great time at HQ. There were lots of people coming in to lift so I got to enjoy the process of helping others, and just observing intensity in its purest form.

When it came time for me to squat I was happy to squat beside Bert Sorin, and Tony Sentmanat (@realworldtactical). Both guys have become good friends of mine, and any time I get to lift with them it’s a bonus.

Squats

Bar x 8

135 x 8

225 x 6

275 x 5

315 x 5

365 x 3

405 x 2

455 x 2

500 x 1

510 x 1

Jx Squat (Jammer Arm, Belt Squat)

300 x 12 x 3 sets

Chest Supported Row

3 x 10

GHD

3 x 12

Lilly Shrugs

3 x 10

Core Work

Row

12 cal x 10 rounds

I also lost two people in my life that motivated me to be better. Konstantin Konstantinovs, and Chaz Cable. I will reflect more on this later.

10/26

After a hectic day of travel, a late night working in my hotel room, I made my way over to meet Matt Vincent, and the team from Muscle Monster. The goal of the day was to get some great footage of us training, and getting photos showcasing the Muscle Monster Line.

On a typical day like this training is not gonna be on the teams mind, so long days often turn into missed training opportunities. Not yesterday. I was able to get my training in, do so as I would normally, and the film team worked around that. I had a great workout…

Warm Up

Assault Bike

:30 sprint/:30 pace x 10 rounds

KB Swings x 3 sets x 12

KB One Arm Press x 3 sets x 12

Band Face Pulls 100 Reps

Yoga Stretches (4 poses I utilize to open my back muscles, my knees, hips, and hamstrings) I will discuss these more in depth later.

Squats

Warm Up Sets

405 x 8 reps x 5 sets

Bench Press

Warm Up Sets

315 x 8 reps x 5 sets

Dead Lifts

495 x 6 x 5 sets

Med Ball Slams

24 lbs x 12 x 3 sets

Strict Press

135 x 5 x 4 sets

Ring Work

It doesn’t look like a whole lot, but it was enough to get me breathing, and sweating pretty hard. California is much warmer than back home in Kentucky so I hadn’t really adapted to the heat. The reward for such a workout was In n’ Out. Getting those delicious burgers when I’m out West is a must. Beyond the training, the food, it was time for a nap.

As for the night, I had some really amazing Curry, and ended up in a Dive Bar listening to 4 bands. It was right off the water in San Diego, and the atmosphere was one of the best I’ve been in for music. Just really great people, having a great time. I got in bed just after 1am, but I was able to sleep until 9:17, so I got my sleep, had great food, a great time, and some awesome memories.

10/25/18

Training has been a struggle. I hate admitting that, but it’s absolutely been one of the most difficult challenges of my life to do what I’ve needed to actually heal. Heal as an athlete, heal as a man. For 15 years, training was my constant. I was able to forget everything, even when that meant self destruction in my personal life, to pour myself into the gym.

The roller coaster of injury, emotions, and pushing to be who people wanted me to be took its toll. I ended up a huge, strong, lifter but that shelled the struggling, insecure boy that never figured out what went wrong.

I’ll cover more on that in the coming blogs, and I apologize for starting, then changing direction, but as I type I realize that perfectly mirrors the last five years of my life. But if you care, and I assume you at least have some interest in my story if you’re reading this, but I hope this isn’t a medium that you use to put me on some type of pedestal. I hope you read this and somehow translate my mistakes, my triumphs, and use them to improve your life.

I want to share myself, but I don’t want a “look at me” over the top approach. To be honest I despise that in the sport I love. We all desire to be liked, and valued, but it seems to me that the sports of strength are no longer drawing in the masses so that they can attain paramount strength. The sport is growing, and it’s trendy, so people are finding ways to overcome the lack of platform performance with other means. “T&A” are the flavor of the day, and if that’s what you’re looking for here then you can stop now.

I love the gym, strength, and the feeling of seeing lifters overcome the bar. Watching a lifter that balances job, family, self, and the gym should be admired, and that’s what I’m interested in myself. Balance, but also adhering to my mentality expressed in my book “365STRONG” that we are only as strong as our weakest link, on our weakest day. Formerly that was all geared toward the gym, now I apply it to my life.

Here I will talk about my travels, my failures, my climbs. I will talk about the gym because it’s a part of my day to day, but I will talk about so much more. Because that’s who I am… I’m more than what you think, or expect, and I’m probably not what you think or expect. So this sets up an interesting dynamic. You will understand in time, just as I will too…

For now, training this morning was at 2:30am. I got 3.5 hours of sleep (horrible, but it was good sleep) and I am currently typing this as I sit on a runway, on a too old plane, beside a too old lady, that smells overwhelmingly like some mix of cigarettes, and an everything bagel. Exciting times.

I’m headed to San Diego to meet up with Matt Vincent, and some others on the Monster Energy Team of athletes. Should be a great weekend. But now:

Tabata is:

20 seconds work

10 seconds rest

8 rounds

4 minutes total

Round One

Two Handed Center Mass Bell (CMB) Swing

70lbs

Round Two

One Handed Clean CMB Switch every 30 Secs

45lbs

Round Three

Push Press

50lbs

Round Four

Snatch

50lbs

Row

Max Distance in 20 secs

6/6 to 6/8

Following my original post I had a curveball thrown into my plan. Not one that would take me off track, but one that would raise the intensity. I haven’t spelled it out, but I’m actively preparing for some very serious terrain for a few hunts out West, and into Alaska.

A longstanding desire to return to a childhood joy, was always halted because there was a competition, or an exhibition to prepare for. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of it, but as I’ve realized my abilities are somewhat limited in powerlifting, I’ve taken to old interests with new vigor, and I’m jumping at chances that I would have once feared.

Montana, and Alaska in the fall to winter months can not only be harsh, they can be deadly. So I’ve been training at repetitive tasks, and things that just make me uncomfortable. I’ve been hiking, running, or rowing a 5k every single day. Minimum. As I’ve progressed I’ve added a pack, and I am getting stronger, and more confident.

As I woke on Wednesday June 6th, also give pause to recognize that it was the Anniversary of D-Day, I saw a friend had decided to show respect and hike 30 miles. 3-0. I think most of us neglect the reality of 30 miles because it’s 25-30 minutes in a car. On foot if you’re a monster, 3 hours. Most will finish in the 6-8 hour window if they’ve trained, others will be 10 hours plus. Did I mention he had a pack?

So as I packed my own bag and began to venture to my own hills, I felt embarrassed that I was going to do a 5k hike. So because of time, and really no planning I set a goal of 10, and then I thought I have to at least make it to a half marathon. 13.3 miles just for extra credit. I was hurting, and my feet were on fire from the steep climbs, but I spoke to my friend and he again made me feel like I was weak. Haha, some guys just never admit how tough something is, but he’s damn tough so I believe he was ok.

As far as training with weights I just did KB complexes.

So in 3 days I trained with KB’s for an hour total. 20 minutes per day, and I hiked 20 miles in 3 days, with 13 being on one of those days. I have to get better on the days after a long hike because this fall/winter I can’t slow others down and I have my own self respect to keep. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m gonna push. Thanks for reading.

Day 1

For the sake of those reading this I believe we will call today “Day 1”. Honestly, being 20 years in, calling my training Day 1 seems odd. However it’s a public notice of my goals, and how I intend to shape my training moving forward. Most people looking from afar would assume that my lifting days are done. Far from it.

I had surgery last July, and in the hospital I had a very hard conversation with my surgeons, and doctors about the overall condition of my body. It was not good. My heart was being abused via high blood pressure, and resting heart rates that for most would measure the same after a good workout. My liver/kidney levels were elevated, and my sleep was terrible due to sleep apnea. I was 342 lbs, and I don’t care how you try to frame it, that’s not good.

I had chased a sport I loved so much, that I traded my body, health, and in many ways my happiness to be the best I could be. Good on the platform. Terrible in every other way. So I decided that I could literally keep killing myself slowly, or I could adjust my life to focus on health, and overall strength.

In doing so my diet has evolved to a keto/carnivore style diet where my primary food sources are fat and protein. My training is revolved around movement, strength, and conditioning.

I’ll give more detailed coverage of those things as we move forward, but to start my goals are to be happy, be a better man, friend, father, family man, businessman, and to help others struggling to let go of things that hold them down, and to help propel them forward. Thanks for joining me:

Day 1:

Wake Up: 4:42 am, immediately drink 20 oz water, and take 1stPhorm Master Brain AM.

Training:

*Warm Up

400m Row x 6

1:00Rest- 8 Air Squats per Rest

*Goblet Squat- 3 x 8 Reps

*KB Swing- 3 x 10 Reps

Worksets

*Squats

315 x 6

355 x 16 (As an AMRAP)

335 x 5

*Pause Squats

275 x 4 x 3 sets

3 count

*Step Ups (Knee High)

75lbs DB w/Straps

3 x :30 fast paced

*Lilly Shrugs

3 x 10

Conditioning

*2000m Row- 7:28

Training Log: Part 26

1/21/18

Leg Press

Warm Up

4 Plates x 12 x 8 sets

Leg Curls/Leg Extensions

4 sets x 15

Lat Pulldowns

3 x 20

Lilly Shrugs

3 x 20

Rower

12500m

1/22/18

Competition Bench

Warm Ups

315 x 6 x 4 sets

365 x 3 x 2sets

405 x 7

Close Grip

315 x 8

315 x 8

Tricep DB French Press

45 x 20 x 4 sets

Incline DB Press

100 x 20 x 2 sets

Tricep Pressdowns

100 reps

Lat Pulldowns

100 reps

1/23/18

Leg Press

2 Plates x 10

4 Plates x 10

5 Plates x 10 x 3 sets

6 Plates x 5 x 4 sets

Prowler

3 x 100 feet

Bodyweight Squats

20 x 4 sets

Forward Leans (Partial Lunge Movement) x 10 x 3

RDL’s x 10 x 4 sets

Row

1/2 Marathon

1/24/18

Bench

315 x 5 x 3 sets

335 x 5 x 3 sets

Close Grip

275 x 6 x 3 sets

Dips

4 x 15 Reps

Lilly Shrugs

4 x 15 Reps

Tri Pushdowns/Bicep Curls

3 x 15 Reps each

Row 500m/1:00 Rest x 10 Rounds- 26:20 total time