Monday, December 16, 2013

The Gift of Life

I met my oldest daughter, Rebekah, 4 years ago today. I remember the halfhearted cry she gave me when one of the workers placed her on my lap while we sat in the orphanage directors office in the outback of Russia back in 2009. Her hollow little eyes told the tale, a little girl who's life up to that point had been a steady stream of hurt and dysfunction that is not appropriate for civilized conversation. But by God's grace, it is a past that has since been buried and plowed under many times over and the decaying remains now provide fertile soil for the garden of blessings her life has become. December 16th, 2009, Oh my soul, what a day.

We had to leave her behind that December. We had to go home and wait for our court date. As we left, I picked that little girl up and whispering in her ear: “I go to prepare a place for you...” Because that's what Jesus once told me. Then Allison and I watched her be led down a dark hallway where the children stay. We weren't allowed down there, and that is probably for the best...

Allison and I got home in time for Christmas that year, but it was tough to celebrate. The house was still empty, and there was a mountain left to climb in our journey come early spring, and a rugged mountain it proved to be. But we climbed it, and she's home... forever... What a gift.

Then there is Ruthie. Be still my heart...

On a cold morning last March we drove up to a hospital in Birmingham to meet our second addition. A little brown baby girl that had just been born 2 days prior and was about to be discharged from the hospital and needed a place to go.

There we found ourselves in the neonatal ICU, with our new daughter and the woman who gave birth to her. Many people have made a lot of presumptions about Ruthie's birth mother and they are always wrong. She is nothing less than a hero to me, and I'll never refer to her with anything less than my utmost respect. I hugged her and told her I loved her and we thanked her for minutes on end. We cried, she cried, all of the nurses cried, and then we held hands and prayed... Then we drove back home that afternoon a family of 4. I never will forget Rebekah's reaction when we stepped off the elevator into the lobby with her new baby sister. She beamed with pride and joy, deep down she knew what was at stake.

Getting Ruthie home wasn't quite the ordeal it was for Rebekah, but it was every bit as miraculous. It has been said that the most dangerous place for a black female is in the womb, sadly the abortion industry has made that statistically true. But our Ruthie's birth mother quietly and resolutely made a remarkable sacrifice and chose to give life, a decision for which I am eternally grateful. The gift of life... What a precious gift.

At almost 10 months old, Ruthie is now in to everything, and Rebekah is in Kindergarten and the finest big sister a girl could ask for. Both their stockings hang on the mantle waiting for gifts. The house is filled with the warmth of family, the smell of food, and lit with the glow of Christmas lights. And because of my diligent and loving wife, it has become the home every child deserves.

And soon presents will be opened, cousins and grandparents will be visited and Rebekah and Ruthie will continue to be part of something very special, a family. I wanted it like this, after all, I told Rebekah I would prepare a place for her... and we did... Then there was room for Ruthie... and there is plenty of room for more.

This year, like many others, my gift won't be unwrapped, they'll be the ones doing the unwrapping. Just fix me a cup of coffee and give me a good seat by the fire, because everything I ever wanted for Christmas I've already got. The gift of life.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My 10 Points

After my last strongman contest I took some time to re-evaluate where I was and try and answer the simple question "what are your goals?" It's the question Dan John hangs his hat on, and, for me, at least it's been one that is difficult to answer.

So I sat around and thought about what my training should focus on, and I did what I do best...  I made a list.

The goals are simple: look better, feel better, move better, be a better husband/father, and correct some weaknesses along the way, and maybe one day I'll come back to strongman and be better than I was before.

Now, I hate articles with titles like "THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF BEING AWESOME" and "12 THINGS YOU MUST BE DOING OR ELSE YOU ARE A STUPID". So, let's just leave it as 10 points, that are really only applicable to me, but I thought I might share and give you some ideas and maybe you might find something useful.

This is the list posted on the wall of my garage gym. A reminder of the things I forget. I'll go through the points and give a brief explanation.

I. Upper Body Hypertrophy - I have a relatively weak bench press/overhead press, and I believe that my technique on the issues is maxed out. So, in my estimation, the only thing that is going to improve my pressing is to add some meat above the sternum. Hypertrophy is achieved (primarily) through volume, for those that don't know.

II. Lower Body Strength/Power - I am old. I am getting slower. I need to intermingle some of the quick lifts. And get away from the grinding heavy movements. There is a time to grind, but remember, we're trying to feel better too.

III. Technical Quality / Quality over Quantity - No ugly lifts. The training session is over when the bar slows and form is sacrificed.

IV. Mobility / Stretching  between sets - If I'm going to maximize time and efficiency in the gym I'm going to have to use the time between sets and exercises to get this body loosened up.

V. Address Weaknesses - That's what this whole list is about

VI. Bar Speed is a Priority - Taking a page from Fred Hatfield's compensatory acceleration, move the bar fast. It will help keep the bar moving when the weights get heavier.

VII. Rowing, Pulling, Upper Back - This goes back to point one. But here I am thinking more about shoulder stability and long term health. Yes, more meat up top too. But strong traps, lats, rhomboids and thoracic extensors keep you young, upright and stable. At least 2 repetitions of pulling/rowing movements for every 1 of pressing is the recommendation of many.

VIII. Sometimes Think Single Limb - If you want me to look like I don't have the strength to stand up out of a chair, make me do lunges. I hate them for a multitude of reasons. Also, Pistol squats were once big back in the day, and now split squats with the rear foot on a bench are the measure of strength in many of the training facilities of professional athletes. They have their place and are another tool in the toolbox. And, like much of this list, we are overlapping with point five.

IX. DO NOT MISS REPS - I do not have the neurological recuperative ability to waste on trying to move a bar that is going no where. It fries me and ensures that I my next effort in the gym will be sub-optimal. So, I'm not doing it. This doesn't mean I don't go heavy, but it does mean that I don't have room to be stupid and that I'll have to put some thought into my weight selection when I do.

X. Address The Midsection - I refuse to use the word "core" Do some situps and side bends. Work on your powerbelly. It often gets neglected and it shouldn't.

Big Hairy Daddy Strength and Conditioning (my garage)

So there is my list. Do I always follow it? No. Now, go make your own list and put it somewhere you'll see it every time you go to the gym, especially if you are prone to forget your own great advice like me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to School

I threw up almost every day before Kindergarten...  What can I say, I've got a nervous stomach, and I'm a mama's boy, sue me...  I don't remember much about Mrs. Collins class except tracing my name, napping on a hand-me-down green and tan mat, and having a Masters of The Universe lunch box that was so awesome it would melt your face if you stared at it too long...  Those were the days.

Life has a way of coming full circle... imagine that.

Today my beloved daughter walked into Kindergarten. She didn't cry, or really complain, or (heaven forbid) throw up from nerves. She did the very thing she has always has always done, rise to the occasion. She put on her brave face and just did it. She's had to do that a lot in her short little life, her circle was broken, we fixed it...

I can't believe that's my little girl...  There's still part of me that thinks I'm not old enough to have come full circle and continue to make laps. I don't know that I was ready for today.

I peeked around the door a couple of times as Allison and I were leaving. She just sat and looked around at the new challenge before her, and then began another chapter in big book of growing up.  

Allison cried when we got home, I wanted to, but I poured another cup of coffee and thought about how quiet the house was with my little blonde treasure away at school. 

After work I got to hear all about her first day. She caught a lizard on the playground, and I'm pretty sure all the boys are now in love with her and went home an told their mothers how awesome Rebekah is. I got to hear about how glad she was to see mom, and Ruthie.  Ruthie kicked and laughed all the way home after picking Rebekah up from school, she missed her... They are sisters you know...

I remember my mom would come pick me up from kindergarten early everyday in a big white Ford LTD. There was scarcely a more welcome sight in my 5 year old brain than Carol Boman behind the wheel of the old tank. 

Mom always came to get me... Always..  

And I am so thankful that one day, when Rebekah is coming full circle, she will be able to say the same.

Mommy always, always, always came to get me.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let The Overhaul Roll On

Well, for those of you who might care (I can't imagine it's not more than a couple of folks and my mom) I finished up my most recent contest last week and the writing is on the wall... In short, it's time to take a step back.

I spent the last year getting ready for Georgia's Strongest Man 2013 and my best effort and preparation still couldn't dent the armor of the competition.  My hat's off to them, there are a lot of really big, young, talented, strong guys here in the Southeastern United States that are the real deal.  Me, well, I ain't got much for talent, but I guess as the saying goes fools rush in where angels dare trod.

My best isn't good enough, and in a world where kids grow up being told winning is the only thing, and they are a champion, or elite, or get a trophy and a pizza party for participating, frankly, I'm kind of proud that all I have to show for my competitive endeavors are aches, bruises, some good laughs, great memories and great friendships. Strongman rewards the best, of which I am not one, and let it be known that I would rather walk away with nothing, than some trinket I didn't earn.

And just one more thing, you'll miss out on a lot of living if you're too scared or proud to sign your name and send in the entry form...

But now that My Big Year is behind me I'm excited. The pressure is off and it is a new day.  So I thought I would write down some thoughts about how training is going to change for me. Maybe it will help you in your training or maybe you can get some ideas, honestly, I'm writing this so I'll remember what I'm doing for the next several months because I chase as many squirrels as anybody (fortunately I built squirrel chasing into the plan)

  • Jim Wendler gave me permission to train two days a week when he wrote this article. I love the setup for 5,3,1 training done in only 2 days. I'll probably trim back the volume on the extra stuff a good bit, but you get the idea. I plan on training 3 days a week, but I only want to have 2 days of structured programming (i.e. If I don't get to that 3rd training day it's not going to affect the long term outlook) Also, it is essential for me that I do some stuff I want to do and have a little fun OR here is a novel concept, not do anything. So there. 
    • Monday - Squat, Overhead Press, maybe some other accessories that I feel like doing
    • Thursday - Deadlift, Bench Press, and again, whatever
    • Saturday - Squirrel Chasing, Whatever I feel like doing, Have Fun, Do a little of this and that, work on some weak areas, some strongman stuff, etc.
    • On a side note, the original 5,3,1 training template was based on 90% of your 1 rep max and this was used as the training max for the program.  For my squat and deadlift I have programmed it with 80% of my 1 rep max to lighten it up for a little while and work on moving the bar a little more quickly. I'm still using the 90% for my pressing/overhead stuff since that is a very weak area for me, and one of the things I'll be concentrating on in the coming months. 
  • Fat loss is one of my short term goals (i.e. 6-8months). Now, the Monday morning after the show I weighed in at a bloated and tired 308lbs. I would like to whittle that down to 270 or so, but I probably won't weigh except every week or two, I don't care much about a scale. Unless you're a weight class athlete you shouldn't either. But there is no point in carrying all this extra fluff around. Plus like everyone I want to look and feel better. I know what I'm after and I know when I feel it in my clothes and see it in the mirror.
    • My perspective on dieting has changed. If I start some crazy diet straight up I'll melt for about 2 weeks and then my metabolism will wise up and I won't lose another pound, SO, we are going to ease into this diet thing.
    • I lost 5 lbs. this week eating whatever I wanted, just not sweets/desserts. "Steal the low hanging fruit first" as Dan John says. The minimally effective dose is all that is required to start a successful diet. When cutting out the desserts has lost it's edge we'll move into lowering the carbs and doing some more portion control, but for now, do the minimum to keep the fat coming off.
    • Also for fat loss I plan to walk the dog, do lots of swimming with the girls, and probably gonna throw in some kettlebell swings when things I need a little something extra. But I'm saving that for when the other stuff stops working. But now that I'm stepping away from competitive goals, I got nothing but time.
  • Other miscellaneous goals include working on my olympic lifts, maybe trying my hand at highland games, and, most importantly, get outside and enjoy my happy little family...  
  • At some point during all of this I'll have to consider mobility, so there's that.
  • One of the natural roles I found myself in last Saturday was that of a mentor and coach, as bad as I am I still have more experience and than any of the local competitors we took with us. I look forward to helping them achieve their goals and contribute to their success any way that I can. I couldn't be prouder of what their already doing.
  • I am on the fast track to being a Masters (older) athlete in whatever strength sport I choose. One year means nothing, I am only minimally stronger this year than I was last year, my Big Year didn't yield anything but an extra thin ring on the tree of strength. Long term investment is the name of the game and multi-year programming is going to be necessary for the big bang lifts like the deadlift, squat and press.
So there you go, a new outlook and a fresh start. Let the Overhaul roll on....

Friday, May 31, 2013

They Might Not Have a Daddy

One day my dad and I loaded up in the old orange Nissan pickup truck he drove for the better part of my lifetime to go fishing at the Fayette county lake a few miles from my little home town.

As we sat along the bank and baited our hooks a young boy, perhaps just a little older than me, came over and took a keen interest in our fishing. Me, being painfully and shy and self-conscious as a child, sat quietly hoping he would lose interest and move along. My father, being the portrait of charity and kindness, invited the boy to have a fishing pole and fish for a while with us, which he did gladly.

My memory can't piece together many details of the number of fish we caught, or how we bid farewell to our stranger companion, I think his mother may have eventually come calling for him. But as we got back in my dad's old truck and drove home I remember telling my dad how I wish he hadn't invited that little boy to fish with us.

I remember he said something to this effect - "Son, that boy may not have a daddy that will take him fishing..."

It was about all he said the whole drive home, and it was all he needed to say. I've never forgotten lessons like that.

Tonight I stood on the banks of a lake out in the country with a half dozen or so Ukrainian orphans. They each had fishing poles in their hands.

I thought about the lessons I learned some 25 years ago, as I tied hooks, fixed reels, untangled lines, showed a few the perfect spot to throw to, and how if you slide your hand over a bream's head to hold him, his fins won't get you when you are taking the hook out... All things I learned because, you know, I had a daddy, and a good one at that.

We fished a while and then had some barbecue with other friends and families that had gathered along side Bridges of Faith to fellowship with this group of kids from Ukraine.

As we got in the car I thought about how in the joy of fellowship I had forgotten that there are eight or so of those children who won't have a family to take them home and tuck them in. Who belong to no one, and who after this grand adventure to America may not experience again the sweet fellowship of families or the joy of an evening out in the country... I won't stun you with statistics for the children who age out of Eastern European orphanages. But I urge you to pray for these kids, pray that someone will take them in and make them part of a family. I encourage you to consider donating to Bridges of Faith and making opportunities like these trips possible for orphans in Ukraine who stand little chance of a normal life after aging out of their institution. And also, I encourage you to be and extension of God's Grace to the children you come in contact with daily, you never know the lesson they learn that will stay with them for a lifetime.

I am forever thankful that I was shown what to do when I'm standing along side children who might not ever have a daddy.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Quiet House

The house is quiet. And I'm finding myself in the middle of all together unfamiliar situation as sit here in the silence.

My wife took the kids (sounds strange to say that, as now we have more than one) to her parents for the weekend while I was faced with the delight-less task of covering some open shifts in my schedule at work this weekend. So now I'm home alone for the first time in a long time and have a chance for some solitude.

I have become so accustomed to the the chaotic loudness of baths needing to be gotten, bottles to be prepared, diapers to be changed, and the frantic urgency with which my marvelous bride and I get the "kids" in bed so that we can steal a brief moment to talk about our life, it's events, and this blessed adventure we find ourselves on, that when the quiet house loses it's novelty I find myself waiting with a faint, peculiar anxiety for my blessings to be safely back under my watchful care.

But solitude is a necessary practice for a man. It's healthy, I believe it firmly. A desire assigned by our Creator. Deep down there comes a point when a man needs to withdraw for a short while and think, and pray, and plan, and prepare so that when the delightful chaotic loudness returns he smiles and embraces it with great joy, and has renewed strength to meet the demands of such a rigorous task, trying to be the best husband, father, and strongman God's grace will allow him to be.

I wish all men saw a quiet house as a gift for service, and not an end goal.

As I sat alone at the family table tonight, I couldn't help feeling anger and pity for the men who desire solitude above all, and in doing so have impaled the well being of their own family with the sword of abandonment as a bloody sacrifice for their personal freedom... Or sat apathetically by while others did the impaling for them.

I am convinced that nothing is more frightening to a weak-willed man than love that requires a great deal of self sacrifice. Nothing will cause him to draw the sword of abandonment more swiftly, nothing will make him wheel it more recklessly, and nothing, sadly, can prevent his own family from being the first of it's many casualties.

Please Lord, never me... Men, resolve is yet another product of wisely used solitude.

Ten years ago this June I watched my lovely bride walk down the aisle. We said "I do", and "I" still "do". We've been fortunate to stay "in love" through want and plenty. But marriage isn't about love, it's about covenant keeping, it's about service, it's about sacrifice, it's about resolve.

My beautiful wife and I are the proud adoptive parents of two children. Our family was no accident, it was intentional pursuit, divine appointment, and more miracles than I can recount. And I'll admit three years ago, I didn't know what I was getting into, but we've burned the ships and are here to stay.  My treasured girls came to me fatherless, and that fatherless-ness came to a dead stop when it ran into me.

Every night I spend a few moments lying on the floor after we turn out the lights while my oldest daughter tries to go to sleep. After about five minutes I lean over her bed, kiss her on the head and tell her "I love you, and I'm always going to be your daddy"...  I say it with such deliberate conviction it's as if I'm trying to pour those words like medicine into the wounds she has suffered in her short little life.

"I do" and "I'm always going to be your daddy" - Increasingly rare and precious promises that require sleepless nights, long days, unmet ambitions, strong constitution, a shortage of solitude, and drawing your sword to defend your family, not murder it for selfish gain...

I challenge you, be the rare man that finishes the course of kept promises. You will not miss your freedom, but you may just, instead, find it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thoughts on Strength and Training - Part 2

The year was 2001, the package came in the mail. The shape of the plain brown wrapper indicated my illicit contraband VHS tape had arrived. I carefully opened it and there on the label shining in all it's glory it said "Westside Barbell Bench Workout"....

Now, I had been reading Louis Simmons articles in Powerlifting USA for about two years leading up to this point. I used to read them over and over and over, because, let's face it, he had the goods. He had bands and chains and boards and boxes and a plethora of gimmicks and percentages that led me to believe that FINALLY, I had struck gold. I had sailed beyond Fred Hatfield's compensatory acceleration technique and landed on the golden shore of heavy banded box squatting barbell paradise sure to make pound after pound of easy weight land on the bar. I invested in some bands, Kaz's Fitness Center had some chains and I began training Old school Westside style in earnest. After a few months and a little progress, the next logical step in becoming a Westside disciple was, of course, order the videos...

The warm glow of the screen filled the room and there I watched the most poorly produced, low-budget, home video camera with Vaseline on the lens training video my eyes had ever beheld. It was glorious.

Back in that day, Louis pushed the accessory movements. You want a big bench, you gotta have strong triceps (which is true). And obviously if lying dumbbell tricep extensions with 65lbers. with 10 seconds rest between sets was good enough for Louis it was good enough for me (I was so naive ya'll).

So the course before me was set. Max out every week (just rotate the exercises, you'll be fine Mr. Raw drug free lifter), dynamic (nay almost plyometric) bench pressing every week and dumbbell tricep extensions until the cows come home... After all Louis said pushing the accessories was the key... And it works... especially if you add some testosterone, and 2 ply canvas gear... (so, so naive, ya'll)

It wasn't long before the too heavy tricep extensions (and a million other things I did) had caused this dreaded plague of medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow) to find it's home in both my arms.  I tore my left hamstring doing another stupid exercise. Not only that, but the perpetual max effort work had left me stagnant and I had gotten stronger in all of my accessory lifts with little to show for it where it counted, on the barbell. I was about burned out before I even got started.

I took several weeks off from training after that, and started over, I start over a lot, that was about 2002... 11 years ago, wow.

I left the Westside training methodology behind, and I would give anything to have those days back with a copy of Starting Strength in hand. However, I still use bands and chains some, but they are not anything close to essential for strength (in fact they can be a huge distraction).

Now that I am older and minimally wiser I have learned a little about what works for me in the gym. Accessory movements are more about keeping healthy, correcting weaknesses, and hypertrophy than they are for pushing a heavier barbell. Do I want stronger triceps, biceps, hamstrings, ect., you bet, but I'm not so sure those things can be found in training those muscles soley in isolation.

So I've been doing a good amount of shoulder complexes with a mini band before I press.  I've been doing some upper body sled dragging for my ailing left elbow, and I've been doing some calf raises because lately I've had an irrational fear that I'm going to tear my Achilles tendon...  It's all extra bricks for the foundation. Are movements like these a secret ingredient? No, but they make me feel good, and keep things interesting.

A couple of months back I started a loose version of The Cube Method for Strongman by Josh Thigpen. I have a de-load week every 4th week and that is the week I do all the little silly exercises that I enjoy, and step away from the platform to make sure I heal up, spend time with my family and take Ferris Bueller's advice.  Curls in the squat rack, overhead squats, that grip/forearm exercise you've been wanting to try - they all land right there in the de-load week where you're healing up for what really matters - adding weight to the bar, log, or axle as the case may be.

Training for me will be a lifelong process, I'm settling into that notion. The point now is consistent, thoughtful training over a very long time. Lift heavy, do what keeps you healthy, do what gets you better... and every now and then, stop smells the roses until you're ready to lift heavy again.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thoughts on Strength and Training - Part 1

The older I get the more I realize that thoughtful, goal-oriented strength training is much more simple than most people realize.

When you're 17 years old and you walk into a rusty weight room with abused equipment from the 1970's (the year was 1996) everything works. Every stupid exercise you saw in a magazine and tried made you stronger, better, faster, whatever.  And after a while you begin to think you need those exercises. But as a person's training age advances the little dumbbell exercises and isolation movements that used to pack on the strength, and muscle are reduced to physical therapy exercises and warm up movements to keep you healthy for what really matters - Picking up as heavy a barbell as possible, the measure of strength.

My buddy Roberts and I have a lot of good talks on strength.  A long while back, after not bench pressing for about two years (partly because of strongman, partly from a shoulder injury) I decided to bench press one day. I pressed a relatively easy 315 after not touching the lift in 2 years (and I'm a terrible bench presser). I got to talking to Roberts about it, and how surprised I was be able to do it. I remember he said "you can pick up over 600lbs. off the floor, of course you can bench press 315..." He was right, if your absolute strength is high enough, you will find yourself capable in a number of tasks.

For a competitive strength athlete, at some point, absolute strength becomes the only goal.

Mark Rippetoe posted a great article this week that really got me thinking about all this. Especially how barbell training elicits a "systemic change" rather than an isolated improvement of a specific body part. The article is a must read really.

Everyone thinks strength is so hard, complex, and only attained through discovering that secret exercise to propel your muscle mass and power through the roof.  People scour internet forums, articles, and (Heaven forbid) bodybuilding magazines for it as though it were the lost city of Atlantis, but the whole time it is starring them in the face.

Folks listen to me - strength, real strength is attained through the long term practice and programming of the basic compound barbell movements; The Squat, The Press (both bench and overhead), and The Deadlift. (Or if you like, the clean and jerk and the snatch, but get a good coach for that.)

There it is, that is the Holy Grail of strength, some iron discs on a steel shaft.

Now practice these three movement at least once per week, heavy and to exhaustion, for 8-10 years and I guarantee strength will arrive at your doorstep.

Notice I said strength- not tight buns, ripped abs, or the body of a fitness model. Lots of other variables have to be manipulated to get you there if that's your goal. But right here, right now we are talking about strength.

If you keep your diet in check will you look good on the beach, or in a fitted t-shirt? Probably, but we are talking strength.

I have made the conscious choice to have a few fat rolls and test the limit of what I can move. I'm ok with that, my goal isn't vanity. We are talking about strength.

I sometimes marvel at the training blog of Strongman friend of mine, Brad Stanford. I take lessons from him, he's been lifting since I was in elementary school.  He squats, he deadlifts, and he presses, then he spends a little time on the treadmill...  He knocking on 42 years old and is easily one of the strongest men I know personally. I read his training log and think, that's it?... Yes, That's it.
He ain't so bad for a Bama fan

He keeps the main thing the main thing. Take a lesson, I've taken many.

So on Friday I pulled some heavy rack pulls and made sure my last set was a real booger, then I went on a walk with the family.  On Saturday everything from my shoulders to my calves was sore.  That training session was 5 sets, it took less than 30 minutes to complete the workout, I'm still feeling it, systemic change.

I learn these lessons weekly. Hey, just because I know what the Holy Grail is doesn't mean I follow it.

I'll spend part 2 discussing some more thoughts on accessory movements, and the other side of the coin. But if it's strength you're after, it's as simple as a barbell and 3 movements. Does it sound boring, yeah, but when you're in your 40's and someone looks at your training log, they'll wonder if you're part grizzly bear...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

From my training log - Day 314

No training today, still recovering, but here is today's highlights.

The morning started early at Storybook Farm, watching my oldest ride her pony, Corduroy. Many thanks to that great ministry and the joy they have brought to Rebekah. She got a blue ribbon for her good riding and I don't know that I've ever seen a child be so proud of anything in their life.
Rebekah and Corduroy

Then breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

Then it was back home and a trip to campus to walk around and enjoy the Auburn A-Day atmosphere, boy was it crowded.
Me and the Girls at The Auburn Arena 

I skipped the game and came home and took a nap. Then we all got ready and went up to Toomer's Corner for the last roll...

You know, it was great, we sent those landmark trees out with a bang. I freely want to admit to you that it breaks my heart a little.  My granddaddy Cleland stood by those trees and hitchhiked from school back home. I've spent many a night there myself in celebration.

I'm pretty sad that it had to end at the hands of Harvey Updyke, and I'll tell you that I don't really enjoy college football as much as I did before this whole tree poisoning thing happened. I look at it through a different lens now.  It's value is greatly diminished... Maybe that's a good thing.

One thing is for sure. You can count your life as a monumental failure if  let it be defined only by your allegiance to a sports team... Just look at Mr. Updyke...

But if your like me and your heart is a little heavy, or your sad, or you've been knocked down a few times... I suggest that on the next sunny Saturday afternoon you grab a roll of toilet paper, meet up with your family, and celebrate the memories of a life well lived. It may just prove to be good medicine for body and soul, and it may help brings things into focus, and lend a little joyful perspective on the trials of life... Oh, and wear a smile... Nothing bugs a rival team more than if you smile... :-)

War Eagle.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Remember (Easter and Fatherhood Eve Revisited)

I live on the verge of tears around Easter. It always will coincide with the the anniversary of the adoption of our first daughter, Rebekah. I'm tearful because I remember it all....

I remember when I was a boy, maybe 12 or less, watching a special on 20/20 or one of those programs about a couple adopting a little girl from Russia.  She was probably about 9 or so. The adoptive parents had returned to Russia to finally bring the little girl home. The cameras were rolling when they brought the little girl out.  I remember when she saw her new parents waiting for her, she burst into tears and said "They told me you were coming back for me, I didn't believe them, but you came back, you came back for me!"...  I suppose I will never ever forget hearing those words...  I still remember...

I remember meeting Rebekah in Astrakhan, Russia in December of 2009, I remember saying goodbye the first time...  I picked up a pale frightened little girl while muttering the words of Jesus Himself  "I go to prepare a place for you"... It was the only thing I knew to say...  I remember the orphanage worker taking her by the hand and leading her back down the long dark hall, I remember how she turned and looked back at Allison and I curiously wondering who in the world we were.
Rebekah and her favorite caregiver at the orphanage
in Astrakhan, Russia

I remember a few months later being back in Russia to bring her home, sitting down and composing these words on Easter and Fatherhood Eve.

"When we left from that first trip, we left a small picture album, with pictures of Allison and I, and Family, and even Gracie the hound with Rebekah. We wanted her new home to at least be familiar to her in picture. We were told when we came back this trip that it had become her favorite thing. That she would sit in the corner and look at it again and again and again. Allison and I fought back the tears on the playground that day, I have never been filled with more love and heartbreak than I was that day. Oh how I wanted to pick her up and tell her “precious girl, if you only knew...” Little does she know that with those pictures she is merely looking at a mirror dimly, but soon she shall see it all face to face. It will be real, the past will be gone, and she will receive a new life. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

And now Allison and I stand together, holding onto each other and a Resurrected Savior. I am fearless about tomorrow, it will be hard, but in the end we will see the Glory of God unfold in the life of this beautiful little girl.

So, this Easter is special, we will celebrate Christ’s resurrection today, and in a practical way we will celebrate it tomorrow as well. Rebekah will leave everything behind, and we will dress her in new clothes and finally we will step, as a family, beyond those rusty iron gates forever.

Rebekah Grace Boman will walk out of an orphanage tomorrow, because Jesus Christ walked out of a tomb today."

That was three years ago... I remember right where I was sitting when I wrote those words... I remember.
First Beach trip 2010

I remember when Rebekah saw the beach for the first time. She laughed and ran and played with more joy than I thought I child was capable of expressing. There we were, a family, standing knee deep on the shores of the ocean we crossed to bring her home...  My God, how I do remember...

I remember our first Christmas together and all of them since...

I remember playing, swinging, swimming and hearing 'I love you' for the first time...  I remember drinking deeply from the well of life, and then going back for seconds...  I remember...
Our Annual trip to the beach 2012
Rebekah's first Auburn football game 2012
I remember how scared I was, of fatherhood, the unknown, and our desperate condition a million miles from home. I remember singing Rich Mullins words to myself a thousand times again, "Hold Me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf, you have been King of My Glory, won't you be my Prince of Peace".  I still sing those words in my head when doubts and fears assail me...

I remember wondering what life would look like in the years to come...  In my wildest imagination I could not have dreamed that it could be so completely saturated in this rich a joy. I remember a road fraught with trial, but I also remember that intentional and sacrificial love has washed over a multitude of things.

I remember just a few weeks ago when Russia closed it's doors to international adoptions, it makes it hard for me to breathe just thinking about it... I remember their little faces... Oh, how I do remember...

I remember when we stepped off the elevator a month ago with our newest adopted daughter, Ruthie.  Rebekah's reaction upon meeting her was the most jubilant and joyful of all... Maybe because deep down somewhere, she knows what's at stake...
My Family

I remember on Easter...  I remember the death, burial, and The Resurrection of Our Savior, that we might receive the adoption as Sons and Daughters. I remember that we adopted, because we have been adopted by God...

I will always remember that if ever I am asked for proof of Christ and His Resurrection. I will only need to point to the girl the world forgot, but whom God remembered, and who's very life is a testimony to His miraculous healing power, and I'll remember to say, on the verge of tears, "Right there, right there is your proof..."

I remember...

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."- John 14:1-3

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Strongman Eve

I hate Winter, specifically January and February.  I hate those two months as much as any warm blooded southern man could.  So, I'm going to start a couple of new holidays called "Strongman Eve" and "Strongman New Year" to celebrate the end of the very worst months of the calendar. 

From here on out "Strongman Eve" will be the last day of February and "Strongman New Year" will be the first day of March. 

Why do I hate January and February you ask? Ok I'll tell you.

Let's begin with January.  Christmas is over and the socks and underwear you got don't fit as well as you had hoped... It is generally too cold to do anything enjoyable in the form of outdoor recreation and the only thing there is to celebrate is the fact that you have managed to reach a new wrist-slitting low in post holiday depression thanks to a severe lack of sunlight and vitamin D.  And generally by the time you work up a healthy motivation to train and get serious under the bar you come down with strep throat or an upper respiratory infection or the flu, and you find yourself starring in the bathroom mirror between vomitous outbursts questioning everything about your life and wishing the broken capillaries around your eyes were made from a personal best deadlift rather than the rocking ab workout you just got wretching everything you've eaten since thanksgiving into the commode (oatmeal when I'm sick, great choice). Oh, and don't forget the pus pockets on the sides of your throat . Happy January! Hope that 103°F fever is treating you well let me know when the hallucinations start!

Then, when your broken, beat down, rented mule of a will power has left all your New Year's Resolutions in the trash can, along comes February to pour a little salt in the wound. 

February is just January's older unemployed, emo, drug addict brother who's only job is to make sure your life is a comedy of errors and your every effort to obtain a goal is sabotaged. Your knees and low back hurt with such chronic agony you find yourself grinding 135lb. squats in your warmups. Oh, And there's more good news... it's raining (at least in my part of the world, how do you snow people do it?) every day... all the time... no matter where you go, even inside a little...  Now every effort to do anything in the comfort of dry warm clothing has been utterly abolished and your feet are perpetually damp as you change into your lifting shoes for your next set of push presses with 115lbs. because you hurt your shoulder in January bracing yourself over the toilet while you were vomiting...

Oh! And all that sinus drainage? Yeah.... It's in your chest now... And by about rep five on a set of anything you are wheezing like you've been double fisting cigarettes since you started kindergarten. Woo Hoo! Where's my inhaler?  

And the sun never shines, and there is no good television, and all you want is the ocean, a sunburn and some fried shrimp...  So that is February.  It's one big coffee spill on the white dress shirt that is the calendar year...

But now they're over.

And the "Strongman New Year" is beginning.  Spring break, sunlight, vitamin D, green grass, and everything you love about training.  Will it still be cold? Yes. But is there hope for the outdoor bound strength seeker in March? You bet. And it's only going to get better...

Magnus Ver Magnusson going over the rules tonight before the Arnold Strongman Classic tomorrow
photo courtesy of Arnold Strongman on Twitter

I don't know, maybe I'm just excited about the Arnold Strongman Classic starting tomorrow, or maybe it's my Alabama pride after watching Ray "Cornbread and Buttermilk" Williams break National records in his second powerlifting meet of his life... But there is something in the air today, and it smells like sweat, 45lb. plates and chalk.  

So I'm calling it. The new year for strength athletes is March 1st.  Happy Strongman Eve everyone...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Paul Anderson

The following article will conclude the countdown of my 10 favorite strongmen. Paul Anderson is not only my #1, but his individual achievments in the powerlifts, olympic weightlifting, and feats of strength, all accomplished in the pre-steroid era, make him hands down the strongest man who ever lived.

I remember...

I remember it from when I was just a little boy. My dad would puff out his chest and hold his arms slightly out to the side and try and look as big as he possibly could. In as deep a voice as he could make he would walk around a say "I'm Paul Anderson, The World's Strongest Man..." as matter of factly as I'm sure Mr. Anderson himself once did. Then he would tell me about the time Paul Anderson came to Oxford, Alabama to the High School and performed feats of strength... He would hold 50lb. weights on his pinkies as he talked to the students, how he could pick up the end of a car, and how, on the day my father saw him, he had the starting Oxford High varsity football team sit around a tall table, and Paul wedged his behemoth frame underneath and picked them all up off the ground in his trademark back lift. Then he would tell me about the Youth Home and how Paul took in troubled boys and gave them another chance. I've never forgot those stories, I don't guess I ever will. It's where it all began for me...

The Beginning
Paul, Age 5
Paul Edward Anderson was born in Toccoa, Georgia on October 17th, 1932.  At the young age of 5 he came down with Bright's Disease, an inflammation of the kidneys that in those days was commonly fatal. Paul lay nearly dead at a hospital in Murphy, North Carolina. Family and friends gathered and prayed through the night... Paul survived.  After his miraculous recovery his doctor prescribed him a strict diet of virtually no meat or protein. After a few weeks showing less than desirable improvement, Paul's mother began feeding him milk, eggs, and meat... The stuff future strongmen are made of. And a mother's wisdom enabled Paul to recover fully, but the damage the disease had done to his kidney's would plague him later in life.

After finishing high school in Toccoa he attended Furman University in 1950 on a football scholarship. While there one of his friends showed him the secret gym they had set up in an upstairs empty room of the Furman gymnasium. Weightlifting was forbidden for scholarship athletes, as Paul put it "it had earned a bad reputation from comic book ads and muscle magazines", and at that time it was believed to also make a man "muscle bound" and inflexible. There he began lifting in secret and discovered his natural ability to move with ease heavier weights than anyone else. That is the place that Paul's love for weightlifting began.

Except for that gym, Paul hated school and after one year he quit and devoted himself to the pursuit of strength full-time. After moving to Elizabethton, Tennessee in 1951 with his parents he trained at home. With wagon wheels, oil drums filled with cement, an old broken safe, and some weights he was given by his brother-in-law, Julius. In what to most would appear a junk yard, Paul Anderson moved mountains in a makeshift gym and cleverly devised many new approaches to strength training that are still in use today.

In the summer of 1952, some weightlifting friends took Paul to north Georgia to introduce him to legendary lifter, Bob Peoples. Bob was a humble farmer, strength patriarch, master of the deadlift and, though retired, still a well known strength figure. So, one evening, after introductions Paul, Mr. Peoples and some other local strength figures gathered in Bob's dungeon-like gym. Bob asked Paul what he would like to warm up with in the deep knee bend (barbell squat)... Paul said "600lbs." The current official world record in the squat stood around 575lbs. and with much skepticism and hesitation they loaded the bar. Paul stepped under it and the men gathered around to spot him, prepared to save his life if necessary. Paul took the weight on his shoulders, stepped back and squatted down and back up never wavering. He stood there a moment and went down again for another easy repetition and then stepped forward and re-racked the weight...

...Bob Peoples and his friends stood there in stunned silence, two easy repetitions far above the recognized world record... they were amazed...

Given the reaction of the company, Paul elected not to go back to school that fall and began competing. With the help and guidance of Mr. Peoples. Paul's training took off and he entered several local meets and breaking state and local records in the process.

Early Career

A win over weightlifting world record holder , Norbert Schemansky, at The North American Weightlifting Championships in Montreal in 1953 gained Paul some notoriety in the strength world. However, a leg injury prevented him from making the tryouts for the United States Amateur Athletic Union team that would go to the World Weightlifting Championships that year. Then in 1954 he broke his left wrist when his foot slipped while bringing a world record attempt press to his shoulders at a YMCA meet in Philadelphia shortly before nationals. Then a car accident later in 1954 would ruin any hope of making the AAU team and leave him with broken ribs and a hip injury that would stay with him forever...  Again his hopes were dashed.

Paul was discouraged, but he refused to quit. He began rehabilitating his injuries and devoted himself to the study of anatomy, nutrition, and training. And he knew his time would come, and indeed it would...

In 1955 the United States Weightlifting team would have to be assembled by June so they could travel and compete in Communist Russia. No American athlete had been behind the Iron Curtain in years.  So Paul called Bob Hoffman, of the famed York Barbell Club and coach of the USA weightlifting team made his pitch to be on the team. The coach told him very plainly that while his reported lifts were impressive, he had failed to produce when it counted and that the heavyweight spot on the team belonged to then World Champion, Norbert Schemansky.

Paul's last shot would be to win the National Championships in Cleveland, and then somehow get Bob Hoffman to give him the spot on the team over the legendary Schemansky.  Paul got his passport and inoculations, just in case he got the nod. Several trucker friends of Paul's even began sending telegrams from all over the USA to York Barbell Club to make it appear as though Paul had national support. Paul appreciated the creativity, but humorously thought it did little to help his efforts...

Paul arrived in Cleveland prepared to compete against Schemansky. To Paul's surprise, Norbert had a back injury and wouldn't compete. Paul took one heavy lift each in the Press, Clean and Jerk, and the Snatch, just enough to prove himself and impress Hoffman. At the end of the meet, when Hoffman discovered Paul had his passport and was ready to travel. He was on the team and on his way to Russia.

Miracle in Moscow

June 1955, 16,000 spectators gathered in the rain in Moscow's Gorki Park. The US weightlifting team stood on the stage was introduced. When Paul's name was announced he stepped forward, all  5'9" 370 pounds of him. There were a few claps, but mostly snickering due to his size, but regardless, he was primed and ready to show the world what he could do.

Alexei Medveyev was Paul's  Russian heavyweight counterpart, that night he planned to tie the Olympic press record, a mark just over 330lbs. The way the meet worked, 5lbs. was added to the bar every few minutes until a lifter stopped them to make his attempt. When the bar reached the 300lb. mark, all the other lifters had finished, it was just Paul and Medveyev. The Russian took his first attempt, then his second, and then his third successful lift to match the Olympic record of 330lbs.When he made it the crowd went wild... but Paul had yet to make an attempt.  They kept adding to the bar, 5lbs. at a time. Paul waited... The bar weight eventually exceeded 350lbs. There was some confusion at first as to whether or not Paul was going to make an attempt. Finally the officials just asked him how much weight he would like on the bar. "402 1/2 pounds" was his reply... Forty pounds over the existing world record held by Doug Hepburn of Canada, the Russians laughed at the thought of this preposterous weight, but honored the request and loaded the bar to 402 1/2 pounds.

Paul stood on the platform and chalked his hands. On his first attempt at the weight his hand slipped due to the bar being wet from rain. He dropped the bar to the platform, the audience sighed as if to say "we knew it was impossible". But calmly and carefully Paul dried the bar with a towel and chalked his hands again... He was not unnerved by adversity... Gripping the bar with authority, he cleaned the weight to his shoulders. The head judge clapped his hands to signal for him to press, and press he did...

Steadily and perfectly he drove the new world record of 402 1/2 lbs. over his head and held it there in victory, and then returned it carefully to the platform...

The unknown man from Toccoa, the Dixie Derrick. had done what no one believed could be done, and for a solid ten seconds the crowd sat in shock and silence, and then...  erupted in cheers.  The Russians named him Чудо природы, "The Wonder of Nature".

Paul would go on to break two more world records that night in the Clean and Jerk and the total weight lifted. The next day he was front page news. Instantly and internationally he was known for his achievement.  Offers to speak came pouring in and an article was written about him in the Saturday Evening Post. After years of hard work, Paul Anderson had made a name for himself. 

At the 1955 World Weightlifting Championships he won handily, broke a few of his own records, and began looking to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne Australia.

Melbourne 1956

Paul Anderson's victory was such a forgone conclusion that the Russians didn't even enter a heavyweight lifter in for the '56 games. But two weeks before the Melbourne Olympics an inner ear infection would begin taking it's toll on Paul. For the days following he ran a fever as high as 104 degrees.  He had planned on weighing in at the Olympics a svelte 340lbs. However, the day came to lift for his country, and by the time he made it to the platform, he weighed a depleted and weakened 304. To make matters worse the lifting was running behind schedule.  As a fever raged it was 1 A.M. before the heavyweights took their turn on the platform. Paul sat alone as the fever, fatigue and dizziness drained his strength further. He took virtual warm up weights in the press and the snatch, and for the first time in competitive career, he was behind going into the clean and jerk. Humberto Selvetti of Argentina was in the lead and having the best competition of his career...

 Paul went and laid down at the aide station on a cot.  He simply told them his Australian friend,  wake him when it was his turn to lift. At 3am his friend woke him up to tell him that he must clean and jerk 414 1/2lbs. to tie Selvetti's total, then he would win by being the lighter man in body weight.

Paul rose from the cot and walked to the platform. 

On attempt number one he cleaned the weight to his shoulders, but couldn't even begin to drive it overhead.
On attempt number two after cleaning the weight he pushed and drove the best he could...  only halfway up.

He had 3 minutes before his next attempt. Here is how Paul described that time.

"I used my officially allotted rest period to walk up a long, dark corridor; I felt as if God were reminding me of everything He had ever done for me. He had made me what I was. Everything I had accomplished had been because He had let me survive Bright's disease as a child. He had given me loving Christian parents. In spite of His countless blessings, I had Ignored Him." -A Greater Strength pg. 72

Paul Anderson, the strongest man since the Biblical Samson, returned to the stage for his final attempt. The arena was silent. He chalked up his hands, placed them on the bar and said a quick prayer.  "I want to be a part of your Kingdom, and from here on out I'm making a real commitment... I must have your help to get this weight overhead. - Paul Anderson, A Greater Strength pg.73"

Then with everything he had left in him he cleaned the bar to his shoulders... It felt impossible... 

 Then with every last bit of strength had remaining, he dipped and pushed as though his whole life had come down this moment... 

The bar went up... It stayed.

The country boy from Georgia, Paul Edward Anderson, had just won the Olympic Gold Medal. And to this very day he was the last American to win weightlifting gold in the heavyweight division.

A relieved Paul smiles and waves.
 Selvetti (left) still wondering how he lost it.

Professional Life and The Paul Anderson Youth Home

Paul became a professional strongman to escape the auspices of the AAU that put tight restrictions on the amateur Olympic athletes earning money by their trade. He began speaking, sharing his faith and doing strength demonstrations in schools and prisons.

During this time Paul developed a deep conviction for the welfare of young people. He spent the next few years earning what money he could from appearances, demonstrations and even boxing for a short time, to start a Youth Home.

In 1959 Paul became reacquainted with the lovely blue-eyed brunette, Ms. Glenda Garland, the daughter of a family friend. Paul and Glenda fell head over heals and got married that following Fall. Glenda, shared Paul's deep conviction to begin a youth home and became his greatest helper and friend. In the early days of their marriage, they lived in a motel in Vidalia, Georgia and saved every dime they could to begin their life and ministry together.

In 1961 Paul got a call from the local sheriff, a mother had tried to sell her two daughters as prostitutes, the mother was arrested and the girls needed a place to stay... What better place to stay the under the watchful care of the World's Strongest Man... So those two little girls shared the motel room with Paul and Glenda,  and The Paul Anderson Youth Home was born.

They eventually rented a big house in Vidalia and Paul began travelling the country to raise support for his home. After a few years of fundraising they were able to purchase the house and land they were renting. And Paul felt called and most burdened to focus their ministry efforts on young men. And for the many years following Paul Anderson was a father to the fatherless and a bold Christian Witness. 
Paul and Glenda outside the Youth Home in 1963

Today, The Paul Anderson Youth Home receives young men from broken, traumatic, criminal and dysfunctional situations and provides them with a home, education, love, discipline and stability. 

Failing Health and Going Home

In 1983, the kidneys which had been damaged by his early childhood disease, finally began to fail him permanently. Paul lay nearly dead again from an infection related to the dialysis treatment he was receiving to sustain his life. His sister, Dot, in an act of great love and sacrifice, gave him a kidney... That kidney extended Paul's life for many years, and he continued his work at The Youth Home in whatever capacity he was able. 

On August 15th, 1994, Paul Edward Anderson threw off the shackles of this earthly flesh that had served him so mightily and went Home to be greeted by The Savior he so sacrificially served. 


One evening in 1983, about 500 people from The Georgia Baptist Assembly gathered at a banquet to honor Paul Anderson. After being introduced by friend, Tom Landry, Paul, sick, weak and pale from the infection, struggled to the podium and leaned against it. He said a few words, many of them thank you's, and then, in closing he said "If someday you hear that Paul Anderson is dead, he's not dead. He's gone to live with God. He can't live anymore in this tired old vehicle. Don't weep for Paul Anderson." As Paul left the podium people stood to their feet in applause and tears. Paul, with the aid of his wife Glenda and a walker, made a slow exit to a waiting car outside, exhausted from the evening.

It is true, the body ultimately failed him, but he lives on in eternity with The God who saves. 

Paul's race has been run, and he ran it so well. There are hundreds of young men who lives would be drastically different had the strongman not heard the call to action and intervened.

Some may measure Paul's success by gold medals and world records, but even Paul would point not to his weightlifting achievements, but would point instead to the big white house down in Vidalia, Georgia where the outcast youth of society are given a second chance...

"Some people have looked at my travelling schedule and my daily routine at the Paul Anderson Youth Home and admonished 'Paul, you are doing too much, you are burning the candle at both ends.' My answer to these dear, caring individuals has been, 'But Oh, what a beautiful light!'" - Paul Anderson

Oh, what a beautiful light indeed...

The Paul Anderson Memorial Park

On a cool winter afternoon my wife, daughter and I exited I85 and took a rolling two lane road through some North Georgia farmland. After a few minutes we arrive in Toccoa and made our way down East Tuggalo Street looking for the man himself. We had nearly rolled right by it when my wife exclaimed "there it is!" After parking the car, I couldn't help but feel reverent and nervous as I walked up to the memorial, almost like walking into a quiet church building.

The park was beautiful and quiet, paved with brick and a fountain in the center. And there he stood with the winning lift over his head.

There we stood, with our adopted immigrant daughter, my own family, built by sacrifice.

We didn't stay too long, the road home was calling, but we stayed long enough for me to have plenty of thoughts about life, family, Jesus, and real strength. We read all the plaques and and took a hundred pictures. My daughter ran, rolled in the grass, climbed everything that could be climbed, and was eventually brought to tears by the scratch of a holly bush... All the while, completely oblivious to the fact that we were standing in the shadow of the man who inspired her daddy to consider the orphan and defend the fatherless.

On the brick encircling the fountain and statue it asks one simple question, a famous quote from Paul's many messages:

"If I, Paul Anderson, The World's Strongest Man, cannot live a
single day without Jesus Christ, then how can you?"

Pondering that question for a moment, I already knew the answer...  I can't.

Back through the rolling hills we went on the road to my Alabama home and the words of Jesus Himself came to my mind to summarize what I could not. 

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." 
Luke 9:23-24

Thank you God for Paul Anderson, and thank you God for the work You continue to do through his life. 

Paul's Achievements

Backlift - 6270lbs. - The largest weight ever raise by a human. This lift was, until the 1990's, recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records. Some doubt the veracity of this lift, however, Paul himself described the ordeal of assembling the table and all the weights and weighing each one to accurately get a total weight. This lift alone qualifies him as the strongest man who ever lived. 

Squat - 1000+lbs. without any supportive gear. 

Barbell Press (official) - 408lbs. 

1955 World Weightlifting Champion

1956 Olympic Gold Medalist

Father and Mentor to hundreds of young men over the last 34 years of his life through The Paul Anderson Youth Home.