Proskaor (Viking) Ikaika (Hawaiian)

By Jim Bryan

Two cultures that interest me are Norse (Viking) and Hawaiian. Both are fascinated with physical strength and so am I. I had my own home gym by 14, put together starting around 12 years old. I used money earned from my job with the Ski Show at Cypress Gardens . As youngsters, me and my friends were always trying to lift things. The kids most looked up to were the strongest. At that time I wasn’t one of them, but I was trying. My first courses were the York Barbell Courses. The pictures helped but you had to fill in the blanks. Before that I did body weight exercises and gymnastic movements. I also started Boxing. Fights broke out in the neighborhood often, I was usually one of the participants. We didn’t have video games, so we improvised. Sports and the resulting fisticuffs were part of it. I was good at wrestling but not so good at boxing. Our fights ended up on the ground most of the time and usually ended with some kind of bending a body part until you couldn’t stand the pain and said “Uncle.” This is called submission today. I was pretty good at this but had no formal training. I Just learned by having it done to me. Several of the Fathers were WWII Vets and showed their sons how to bend arms, legs, necks, and backs. It was good that I was strong. When I started Boxing I didn’t pay anymore attention to the wrestling. Today I feel that was a mistake, but I wanted to be better at Boxing. So I lifted weights and boxed too.

At first I lifted or boxed every day. I was getting better at both. Then at 14 I was riding my motorcycle (Triumph Tiger Cub) and was hit by a car. Damn near killed me. As I was getting better I read all of the Muscle Mags I could get. I was more determined than ever to be strong again. At 70 something pounds I was far from looking like a lifter. The Dr. told me that lifting weights had saved my back from being ruined in the accident. It seems that my Spinal Erectors were well developed and protected me. I got better slowly and went back to my gym and even started adding to it again. Mostly, I had free weights and some crude machines (leverage and pulley) my Dad made. I was into “Strength body building.” I wanted to look good but I also wanted to be as strong as I looked. I got interested in Olympic Lifting and met Bill LeMacks. Bill was an Olympic Lifting Champion as well as one of the top Physique guys in the South. He later was a Champion Power Lifter too. So now I was bodybuilding, boxing, and Olympic lifting.

Al and Vera Christensen opened up a Gym in Winter Haven , Florida where I lived and still live. Al set up a nice lifting platform for us in the back and I went as often as I could. Al was also well known as a lifter and Body Builder. Olympic Lifting was my thing then. I did a few curls after my sessions but mainly used the Olympic lifts, Squats, Front Squats, Presses off the racks and Jerks off the rack. I used High pulls, Dead Hangs and dead lifts. Taken to singles most workouts. I entered meets around Florida and when I started competing in Body Building I used the lifting as my athletic skill points. (Back then you had to show you could do something other than flex your muscles) I also continued my boxing, which by then I was pretty confident in.

I got interested in Power lifting and for awhile I used the Olympic Lifts and the Power Lifts in my training. Sometimes, all in the same day. Pretty much all I did was workout somehow, some way. I was tired much of the time. It took me a long time to figure out that I could get more out of less. Al tried to tell me and so did Bill. I wanted to be as good as them and just figured I had to work harder and more to get there. If you needed me I was at the gym. My workouts were in the two hour range. Sometimes, longer. Fortunately, I did learn to train in a briefer format. It wasn’t a piece of cake though. Brief, hard workouts can take it out of you too. You just have to pay attention to how you are feeling and plan accordingly. For me, I quit using the Olympic Lifts because of injuries incurred by competition and other Sports. I just couldn’t keep up the pounding I was taking on my joints. By this time exercise equipment had come out of the “Dark Ages” and I found I could train very hard again. I was still doing Power Lifting on the side. These movements complemented my Body Building pretty well. I didn’t want to be just another “Weak Body Builder.” I was training with Arthur Jones (I called him Art then) by now. I drove back and forth to Deland as much as I could. I met some great people (Kim Wood, Jim Flanagan, Casey Viator, Dan Howard) and was very inspired to train. I also had gotten married and bought a house. Funny thing happened, I acquired an Olympic set and set up a gym in my garage. I had a bench, 300 Lb. Olympic set (later 400lbs Plus), and squat stands. I was Power lifting and Olympic Lifting on alternate days. Didn’t compete but I was strong as hell (could it be the things I was doing in Deland helped? (Naw, there’s no evidence for that type training.) One day I fell while doing squats (heavy) and thought it was over. I trained by myself and used squat stands and not a rack. S-t-u-p-i-d. I wasn’t hurt, just shaken. Not long after, my back and shoulder started bothering me when I did the Olympic lifts. I stopped doing them and just trained High Intensity and some volume too. I used mostly machines. I sold all of my equipment to a local High school.

Since then I still use mostly machines. I like the Leverage machines and have a Pendulum Multi Machine. I’m still planning to get a Power rack someday and an Olympic Set, Just to have when I want to use it. My Cardio equipment is a Jumprope or the Squat Station on the Pendulum. We usually get our cardio from fast paced workouts including 20 to 20+ rep squats.

As you can see, I have done most forms of Strength Training, and competed in some. I feel you can get strong, and get stronger using ANY form of progressive weight training. Keyword PROGRESSIVE. What you have to figure out is what form is best for you? What are your goals? What is your experience? Can you get strong and well built from Olympic Lifting? Yes, you can. Can you get Strong and well built from Power lifting? Yes, you can. Can you get strong and well built from Volume training? Yes, you can. Can you get strong and well built from High Intensity Training (HIT) and it’s subsystems? Yes, you can. Do you have to train “explosively” in the weight room to be “explosive” on the field? No you don’t. BUT “The NSCA says I won’t be successful if I don’t!” The NSCA has an agenda and probably isn’t relevant to your situation. The choice ultimately comes back to you. What do you want to do? Don’t listen to some Bubba or some Brain if they are telling you to do something you don’t want to do. No Bro Science. This includes supplement usage.

No magic pills…….. Eat as raw as you can. Train as hard as you can. Train as safe as you can. If you want to compete in the Strength Sports……… it! You’ll have fun. Train for life. BUT don’t ever let anyone tell you that you have to train any certain way. I guarantee, if you don’t like what you’re doing, you won’t do it long. I train mostly High Intensity, or what I call High Performance Training but that’s just me. You may like something else and that is OK. Know your subject.

Live strong – Live long! Aloha!

Some Final points
1. You don’t have to Olympic Lift to be successful at sports other than Olympic Lifting.
2. You don’t have to use “free weights” to be successful at sport.
3. You don’t have to use machines to be safe. Training safe is a matter of choice and there are ways to use most equipment and still be safe.
4. You don’t have to lift weights explosively to be explosive in your sport.
5. You don’t have to mimic your sport in the weight room. Train for strength and practice your sport.
6. Using single joint movements in your routine doesn’t automatically make you a Bodybuilder.
7. You can use brief, hard workouts and succeed.
8. You don’t have to have supplements to be successful.
9. You can mix protocols.
10. Men and Women can train the same.
11. Don’t listen to Bubba Platehead or Discussion Board Bro Science. Gather your information the same way you do for other interests in your life. Bull dookey is still bull dookey no matter where it comes from. It all boils down to common sense.

“As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction.”

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my freind Jim Bryan for continuing to share his words of wisdom with us here at Hybrid Fitness