You mother f**kers have it easy. At least when it comes to getting information about training. If you can sift through the crap, the internet is a great resource for coaches, athletes, and lifters. It is definitely harder now to know what is actual information and what is just hype. But back when I started my journey into the iron game, even before I started coaching, there wasn’t much to choose from.

The 80s

Just about all of my training information growing up was from Muscle & Fitness. My idols growing up were Rich Gaspari and Lee Labrada. Lee Haney was winning the Olympia and there wasn’t much else but bodybuilding.

If you were to get a glimpse of a powerlifting workout or even the strongest athletes in the NFL, you were privileged. Those types of articles were few and far between. Every once in a while there would be a bench press article featuring Ted Arcidi or Ed Coan. Ironman magazine would have an article by Bill Starr and the NFL issue would show the make-believe workouts from guys like Steve Emtman. I spent the other half of my time looking at pictures of Corey Everson, Claire Furr, or Kathy Unger when I wasn’t bench pressing and curling six days a week. Funny, there are still assholes that do that today and there are people everywhere telling you not to.

The Early 90s

I got crazy and added the leg pres, the bench press, and lat pull-downs. I never had a strength coach and our inner city high school weight room had four of us lifting in a closet. I spent the rest of my time at King’s Gym. University of Pittsburgh Head S&C coach Kim King was the owner and she won both the NC Nationals and USAs in ’91.

Once I got into the Marine Corps I expanded my subscriptions to Muscular Development, Flex, and Musclemag, in addition to M&F and Ironman. The best thing I ever did was finally get a subscription to Powerlifting USA. This basically changed my life. I was training hard in the USMC, but not knowing what the hell I was doing. I did whatever I could when I wasn’t in the field.

While aboard the USS Ponce for six months, I started to read and figure some things out. A lot of downtime to read and lift, and that is when I started to purchase some training books (or at least started to read them). The first four books I bought (which I still have) were:

Power: A Scientific Approach by Dr. Fred Hatfield
Brawn by Stuart McRobert
Explosive Power and Strength by Donald Chu
Strength Training for Football by Doc Kreis
Things started to click a little more and my training improved. I got stronger, but that is the problem with the body’s adaptive ability: everything works for a while.

The Late 90s

By the time I walked on at Clarion University, I was working and training at Harris’ Monster Factory. I got to lift with Jamie Harris and Anthony Clark in the same session. Cole Dworek took me under his wing and I entered my first competition in ’97.

I was also fully immersed in the WSBB training that Louie would write about. See, back then, PL USA would have maybe 3-5 articles every issue that would come out once per month. Elitefts™ has 3-5 per day, for free. You could only be exposed to Louie’s mind once a month for about two pages.

At the same time, Dave was writing for and thank goodness he was. He was one of the few people that could decipher what Louie was taking about. As time went on and the internet became more popular, information became more readily available. I would try to soak in everything I could. Along with, T-Nation would publish Dave’s article and the Periodization Bible I & II laid the groundwork for me. Not too many people remember when T-Nation was a print magazine called Testosterone.

When I wasn’t training at the Monster Factory or any other gym that would open and close in three months in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, I trained at school. I started coaching in ’98.

I was a student coach and then a GA D-line and strength coach while earning a BS and M.Ed in Education. I had to lift at 9 pm at night in the Rec Center. The floor was carpet and the racks were actually wider than the athletic weight room. I would literally push a TV cart with my 12″ plyo-box and my set of chains (you had to buy them from Topper Supply Company back then). I also had bands. At the time I drove 45 minutes to Youngstown, Ohio just to pick up a set of average bands. Right when I was pulling into the driveway of the Sig Tau Gamma house, my car caught on fire. No shit. I had to dive back into my car to get those f**king bands and then watched my car transform into a burnt marshmallow.

All because Dave and Louie told me to to dynamic box squats to get stronger…and I did.