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Are You Training Your Athletes to be Explosive the Correct Way?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Training Athletes for Explosiveness

We can all identify an explosive athlete. Explosiveness is very noticeable, but extremely difficult to train and incorporate into a traditional high school strength program.

As a coach for arguably the most explosive athletes on the planet, track and field throwers, and owner of a gym that specializes in building the most explosive athletes in Rhode Island, I have been able to incorporate explosive movement training in ways that are non-traditional but very successful. In this article, you will learn how to incorporate these methods into your own coaching and training to build incredibly explosive athletes.

The “As _____ As Possible” Mentality

High school and college strength coaches have traditionally been brought up to think of athletic training in terms of maxes. It is what I like to call the “as _____ as possible” mentality.

For example, strength is defined as moving a weight “as heavy as possible” one time. A great example of this is a one rep max in the squat.

Strength endurance is defined as moving a certain weight “as many times as possible.” The 225 pound bench press for reps test at the NFL combine is a perfect example of this.

Straight ahead speed like you see in track and field sprinters is defined as running a certain distance “as fast as possible.”

Endurance is defined as doing a movement “as long as possible.”

It is my finding through years of training young athletes and speaking to strength coaches around the country that we are taking the wrong “as _____ as possible” approach when we try to build explosiveness in athletes.

What Are We Doing Wrong?

More often than not, when a strength coach approaches me and is having trouble getting athletes more explosive, they are incorporating too much maximum weight into the equation.

For example, I recently had a coach email me his training template that consisted of Power Cleans, Hang Cleans, and Box Jumps to build explosiveness. While these are great exercises to build explosiveness in athletes, his approach was totally wrong.

He had his athletes jumping on to a box “as high as possible” 1 time for multiple sets. He has his athletes doing power cleans “as heavy as possible” for sets of 1 without varying the weight. He had his athletes doing hang cleans “as heavy as possible” for sets of 1 without changing the weight.

“Using a maximum weight for multiple sets
or jumping to a super tall box one time
is not building explosiveness,
it is merely testing explosiveness
over and over again.”

The thing to keep in mind when training explosiveness is that an athlete will rarely have a heavy external load on their bodies while competing. Using a maximum weight for multiple sets or jumping to a super tall box one time is not building explosiveness, it is merely testing explosiveness over and over again.

Finding the Correct Formula

With all of this being said, what is the correct formula for building explosiveness? What is the correct “as _____ as possible” approach to ensure your athletes are doing everything they can to become as explosive as they can be. In order to guarantee your athletes are training for explosion, you must make sure they are training certain movements with “as much force as possible.”

I believe this is why strength coaches have such a hard time training explosiveness. Unless you have extremely expensive testing equipment, measuring force is nearly impossible. It is a lot easier to measure the weight on a bar, the height of a box, or the time it takes to run a certain distance. Add to this the fact that athletes are asked to be explosive and produce force over and over again during the course of a game and the training difficulty multiplies.

Force equals mass times acceleration. So the easiest way to measure force, or for a coach to see if an athlete is applying more force, is to watch the speed that he performs a movement with a selected weight through 5 repetitions.

My favorite explosive exercise to do with my throwers is a one arm dumbbell clean and press for 5 reps per arm. It is a full body movement that incorporates massive force with the lower body, transferring that force through the core into the upper body, and applying that force to the dumbbell. Very similar to the way a track and field thrower applies force to a shot put, discus, or javelin.

The application is simple. Give an athlete a dumbbell you know they can easily clean and press multiple times. Have them perform 5 repetitions with each hand, starting with the non-dominant (non-throwing) arm. Watch the speed that the dumbbell moves. Ask yourself, is the dumbbell moving as fast (or almost as fast) on the 5th rep as it did on the 1st rep?

If the answer is yes, the athlete is allowed to increase the weight of the dumbbell by 5 pounds for his second set.

If the answer is no, the athlete should decrease the weight by 5 pounds on his next set.

When dealing with training explosion, the name of the game is speed. Being able to keep the same speed (or have a very slight decrease in speed) over 5 reps will ensure that an athlete is able to produce maximum force and replicate that force time and time again, similar to what they will be asked to do during a competition.

Sneaking Explosive Training into your Current Workouts

While I truly believe that having a separate day 100% dedicated to training speed and explosion is the most effective way of getting an athlete to produce more force, it is not possible in a typical high school setting. Let’s face it, practicing the actual sport is the most important thing a high school student will do and should take up the most amount of practice time.

If an athlete practices 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, they might only be in the weight room 2 days a week for 30-40 minutes at a time. How does a strength coach go about training explosion with a large team in a small weightroom while the athletes are also expected to be getting bigger and stronger at the same time?

Replace Slow Reps with Explosive Reps

One strategy is to combine the strength and explosive movement training into the same exercise. This is something I have done for the past few years and it works very well, especially with large groups. When an athlete is performing a strength based exercise on a typical linear periodization template, they will normally begin with a very light weight and gradually increase each set.

For example, an athlete with a 225 pound bench press will perform 5 sets like this:

  • Set 1 – 95 pounds for 10 slow and steady reps.
  • Set 2 – 135 pounds for 8 slow and steady reps.
  • Set 3 – 155 pounds for 6 good reps.
  • Set 4 – 175 pounds for 4-5 good reps.
  • Set 5 – 195 pounds for 3-4 tough reps to failure.

Instead, why not add one more set, and work the first 3 sets for 6 reps as explosive as possible?

  • Set 1 – 95 pounds for 6 explosive reps (plates should be clanging)
  • Set 2 – 115 pounds for 6 explosive reps (plates rattling, bar speed never decreases)
  • Set 3 – 135 pounds for 6 explosive reps (weight may slow down at the 5th or 6th rep)
  • Set 4 – 155 pounds for 6 good reps
  • Set 5 – 175 pounds for 4-5 good reps
  • Set 6 – 195 pounds for 3-4 tough reps to failure.

The athlete is still doing the same amount of reps for the exercise in both templates. As you can see, the addition of one extra set of 6 reps makes this one exercise become a blend of explosiveness for the first 3 beginning sets, and strength for the last 3 sets.

Instead of moving the lighter weight slow and steady, he is now moving the bar with as much speed as possible. Every week simply increase the weight by 5 or 10 pounds and decrease the reps by 1. After 3 weeks, change the exercise slightly (move to an incline press or a dumbbell press) and follow this same template for another 3 weeks.

This can be done with all of your basic compound lifts like squats and bench press. You will see great increases in speed and explosiveness without a decrease in strength.

Replace a Slow Assistance Movement with a Fast Bodyweight Movement

Another strategy is to replace a standard compound or isolation movement with a similar exercise focusing on explosion. For example, on the days that you have your athletes squatting, you may have them also doing a lunge variation.

Rather than do the lunge in a typical slow and steady manner, why not change the exercise to a jumping lunge?

So rather than doing 3 sets of 10 reps per leg while holding a dumbbell in each hand, do 6 sets of 5 jumps per leg working on getting as high in the air as possible? Or to look at it another way:

  • Walking lunges holding dumbbells – 3 sets of 10 reps – slow pace – focus is hypertrophy.
  • Repeat Jumping Lunges – 6 sets of 5 reps – explosive pace – focus is producing massive force.

(Both are lunges, both very easy to teach, but two separate results).

The same can be done by switching a dumbbell bench press to an explosive push up, or exchanging a leg press or leg extension with a repeat jumping squat.

Superset an Opposite Explosive Exercise Immediately After a Strength Exercise

A third strategy that you can use that works great with larger teams or if you have limited time is to superset an opposite explosive movement immediately after a strength exercise. For example, if you have your athletes doing a typical 5 x 5 strength template and you have 4 athletes sharing one piece of equipment, you are inevitably going to have athletes taking a large amount of rest between each set while the bar is loaded and unloaded.

Instead of having the athlete finish his set and sit down for a few minutes of rest, have him do an explosive movement immediately after his set is complete.

Here is a great example.

Exercise: Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps – increase weight each time
Superset with clapping push ups – 5 sets of 5 reps – perform immediately after squats.

This is a great way to blend a strength based exercise with an explosive exercise. With this strategy, just make sure that the explosive exercise is opposite (uses a different movement pattern) than the strength exercise. So if the main strength exercise is a bench press, superset with an explosive jumping movement.

In my experience, supersetting an explosive movement with a strength movement that is too similar will be counterproductive. The athlete will be too tired to produce the energy necessary to lift heavy and the heavy lifting will prevent them from being explosive. Truly a lose-lose situation. Neither exercise will accomplish what it sets out to do.

Implementing These Strategies Properly

Properly implementing these strategies should be done gradually so you do not throw off whatever progress you have accumulated thus far. Don’t completely revamp your training templates and switch around what your team has been doing. Take one strategy from the three above and implement it for the first 4 or 5 weeks of the season. Test it out with your team (certain sports and athlete body types respond to each strategy differently) and see if the response is favorable when they play their sport. If it is, try to incorporate an additional strategy for the next 4-5 weeks and see how your athletes respond.

If your athletes show an increase of explosion in their sport, you know what you are doing is working.

If your athletes are looking lethargic and are gassing out during their weight room sessions, that is a sign to pull back and decrease the amount of explosive work.

Whatever is done in the weightroom should enhance what is done during competition. You are training athletes. They can’t be bodybuilders in the weightroom and athletes on the field. They can’t be Olympic lifters in the weightroom and athletes on the field. They can’t be powerlifters in the weightroom and athletes on the field. Train them like athletes by blending their strength training, explosive movements, and hypertrophy in the weightroom to compliment what they do in their sport. You will see over time that their explosion increases along with their strength and muscular size.

-Coach Matt Ellis-

DIESELS, Coach Ellis and I worked together on a project last eyar and we are about to release it. It’s called Grip Training for Track and Field Throwers.

You can get on the early bird list for this DVD release by adding your email to the box below. You’ll be the first to know about it when it comes out.

All the best in your training – Grip for Throwers comes out next week!


The Brutal 5K
2013 Strength Challenge Number 1

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The Brutal 5K

By Josh McIntyre
Check out Josh on his YouTube Channel


We were seated at a common table with a family we didn’t know. No problem, my wife is pretty social and I can fake interest in just about anything for 30 minutes. It was the German Bier Garten at Epcot, and $13 a beer wasn’t going to stop me from enjoying myself.

As I looked around the large auditorium like seating area, I noticed something troubling. At nearly every table sat a skinny, smug looking d-bag with either a livestrong bracelet or some kind of motivational running t-shirt. What was stranger, none of these “men” even had a beer in front of them.

One man with hair past his ears appeared even to be wearing a beret! As I turned to look at my wife in bewilderment, down sat a young guy in the vacant seat next to me. I watched on in horror as he opened his beardless face and a high, slightly pitchy and annoying voice screeched out. Thus spoke the Beta-male: “I can’t wait for tomorrows 5k!”


I won’t bore the masses with every feminine thing this little neophyte said, but here’s a run down:

  • Running 5k’s are his life
  • 3 days grace is great running music, And…
  • “Eewww, who could drink an entire liter of beer? I can’t stand the way that stuff tastes”

That last one hit my ears as I lowered one of the liter beer mugs from my face only to raise another with my other hand, and it made chills of rage run down my spine.

I turned to look upon the baby deer like runner, my neck creaked as scar tissue broke under the immense weight of my beast fur. My beard twitched as it parted the way like great red drapes for my mouth, reminiscing of Moses when he made the Red Sea into a nature path. Surprise and terror washed over this wuss’s face as I set my cold dead eyes upon his virgin baby blues. With sheer malice, the churning hell pit of my stomach sent forth a metric ton of gas. The terrible cloud left my face at nearly mach 2 and blew the club-friendly-rock fan’s head clear from his shoulders. His own family cried as they thanked me for what I had done. I responded with an aftershock.

Once I cleared out the entire left half of the buffet and broke a third of the dishes due to just how rough I eat, I decided that super lunch (the meal between lunch and 1st dinner) was over. I payed in red whiskers and tipped the waitress with 3 farts, which she graciously accepted.

As we walked out in search of more beer for my face, I couldn’t help wondering:

What if there was a 5k for Alpha males?

It wasn’t until much later when I sat down to release a school of brown trout into Walt Disney’s magical sewer system that it hit me!

A “race” To 5k (5000#)!

I flushed the toilet and immediately contacted Jedd Johnson. This is what I told him:

The 5k challenge will be as follows:

  • Total 5000lbs in ONE day using the FEWEST singles you can
  • Only Squat, Bench and Deadlifts will count
  • One of each must be performed, but may be repeated as needed to reach 5k
  • Lifts must be reasonably close to a good competition style lift (squat depth, paused bench, no hitched dl’s)
  • knee wraps up to 3.5 allowed for raw
  • Film it at your house, in a gym, in a garage, in a parking lot, wherever
  • Gear allowed, just specify in the vid description

(Example: if DL is your best lift then it may look like:
SQ, B, DL, DL, DL, DL, DL, DL, DL, DL = 5000)

Glory is just 3 steps away:

  • 1. Upload your video submissions to youtube
  • 2. Add the title: “Brutal 5K (and the # of lifts it took you)”
  • 3. Post the link to:

The Ladies’ Brutal 3K

This challenge is for the Alpha-females as well! I know not every lady is sitting around the house reading 50 shades of Gray. Some of you She-Ra’s are doing power cleans and front squats with twice the weight that our beta-male could curl in any standard power rack. So Ladies, get your war face on, tie your hair back with some barbed wire and embarrass some of these guys.

The Top 10 Performances (men and women), using as few attempts as possible, will be posted here at

This is a new spin on the 3 classic lifts. Who can do this in 15 lifts? 10? 9? Less!? Give it a try and see where you stack up!


The Light Was My Training Partner

Friday, November 16th, 2012

A few weeks back, I invited my personal training client, Mark, to come train with me on a Saturday. He travels a great deal in his business, so that particular week he was unable to train with me at all, so i thought this would be a good way for him to get some work in.

That day, it was a great workout. We really got a lot of good quality work in, so I told him if he wanted to do that session with me each week, I would not charge him for the session, and he agreed.

This past Thursday morning, we were supposed to train together again, but his flight schedule got changed, so he wasn’t going to make it in. And so he called me on my cell while I was warming up and let me know he wouldn’t make it.

I normally train in the afternoon, so I almost said screw it and went back upstairs to work, but instead I hit the workout solo, and I am glad I did because it was awesome.

See why in the video below.

A little tribute to two of my best friends, Rick Walker and Mike Rinderle. Thanks for always having my back guys! I dedicate this workout to you.


Old Friend, New Training Partner

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Random pic of Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle) never hurt anybody…

I was driving a few weeks ago and decided to give an old friend, Kyle Kintner, a call.

Kyle and I had known one another since at least the 5th grade, went to the same high school and college, and have always kept in touch here and there. He had moved away when he got married though and I had just recently heard that he moved back into the area, so I gave him a ring to see what was up.

We chatted for a few minutes and before hanging up I invited him to come up and lift with me if he ever was in the neighborhood and had the interest. Kyle’s job takes him all over the county and when I described where I lived, he said that he drives by multiple times a week, he just didn’t know where I lived or else he would have stopped in sooner.

I live in a small town and admittedly don’t get out much, nor do I really want to, since I’d rather hang around with my family, but that situation makes it hard to find a training partner. I thought I picked one up last Fall, but the Winter hit and he disappeared just as the Arnold Classic Mighty Mitts was coming up, so I was back to training alone again.

It’s one thing to train alone. It’s something altogether different to start to depend on somebody during a workout and then as the start time for the session approaches the guy is late every time or just plain doesn’t show up.

So, I had made the overture to Kyle, like I have done countless times to friends and people I meet who have a history of training, but wasn’t sure what to expect as far as a follow-up response.

To my surprise, however, Kyle texted me back about training the very next day. He said his rounds were bringing me back by my house and that he’d like to train and try out some of the stuff I was doing.

I was even more pleased that when Kyle showed up he came ready to throw down. Kyle was always an athlete, setting the Pole Vault record in high school and earning a scholarship to college for his track and field prowess, and he brought that same athleticism to the gym – it was an awesome workout right off the bat, and he said he hadn’t used free-weights in a workout for years because he owned a Bowflex, but it was hard to tell by watching him throw the weight around.

In a Grip sense, he was also very impressive, getting partial lifts on 5-Tens-Pinch and 2-35’s-Pinch.

For some reason, I wasn’t smart enough to film our first few lifts together (we’ve been hitting it for about a month now) but I did grab the camera last week and I put together a highlight video.

Some of the stuff we did:

1. Overhead Push Jerks and Presses

Kyle is a naturally powerful athlete. We would train together in college occasionally and he would almost always match me in the Olympic lift variations we would do. To this day he is still able to move the weight fast.

2. Incline Bench

Our previous two workouts, we hit flat bench, so we made sure to switch it up a bit. I don’t have an adjustable bench, so we sat one end of the bench up on a stack of bumper plates. Works great.

3. Grip Training

We did Adjustable Thick Bar and various forms of Plate Pinching. I got a good lift with either hand on 2-45’s-Pinch and Kyle got his first full lifts on film with 5-Tens-Pinch.

3. Biceps and Triceps

This was kind of a De-load Workout, if you can call it that, because we had been killing upper body so hard, but we made sure to stick some Curls and Push-downs in there for good measure. We hit some volume sets, and then I went for the “All important 1-rep maximum bicep curl,” aiming for as strict of form as possible i.e. The Vigeant Curl Challenge, and I matched my best ever mark of 75-lbs with either hand. I must say that this time it felt much better on my elbows, as the last time I had a touch of elbow pain, but my preventive work that I share in Fixing Elbow Pain has been working very well.

I didn’t film the Tricep work because my machine is in the storage room adjacent to the garage and it is scary in there.

Training with Kyle has been great. He is Intense and brings it hard every workout. He gets in my face, picks up on form and technique errors, and even has the balls to mention them, plus the biggest benefit of them all is that Kyle is supportive. You might not hear it in the video, but he gives the little cheers you want to hear before big attempts. That is the kind of thing I have been missing for years in my training.

I will close this post by saying this…

You don’t NEED a partner in order to have a good workout or to get stronger. Since 2008 when I began training alone, I have never had a steady partner for more than a few months.

So if you are using the excuse “I don’t have a partner, so I can’t train,” then that is complete hog wash. Get in there and get some work done, partner or not.

However, I do plan on getting Kyle fully immersed in the Grip Life, and I am hoping to get him to help me try some drills I have been meaning to try for some time with the Inch Dumbbell but haven’t had anyone with me strong enough to do them. It should go well.

Stay tuned for more developments, as I am sure Kyle is going to learn fast and with time progress nicely.

All the best in your training,


P.S. I also plan on getting Kyle involved in some Strongman Training. I will of course work him in slowly.

If you want to introduce Strongman Training to your program, or that of your athletes, make sure to do it the right way with the right technique.

Our DVD, Introduction to Strongman Training will help nicely.

Why We Lift II

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I have had a lot of incredible and unforgettable workouts in the past.

For instance, I’ll never forget the time I deadlifted 405-lbs one repetition every minute for about an hour and then ended up with a total of 100 reps in 75 minutes or so.

I remember marathon training sessions doing strongman training out in the yard with half a dozen or more friends on more than one occasion. These were the types of workouts where you just knew it was going to take two or three days to recover from them, but you were having so much fun enjoying training that you couldn’t stop.

And I’ve also had days where the lifting I did was no fun at all, in fact it was downright scary, like the time I found one of my long-time friends tipped over in her SUV after a car accident on Christmas Day a couple of years ago and had to pull her out to safety.

But the toughest lifting of my life, in fact the downright scariest lifting of my life, took place yesterday.

The Call

I got a call from one of my best friends in the world, Tom, from where I used to work. “Hey would you be able to help John (another guy from work I am friends with) move something this afternoon?”

“Sure,” I said, “Just tell me where to be and I will be there.”

Now, ever since I was 12, I have been known as the tall guy
. I was almost as tall then (6 feet) as I am now (6’ 2”), so it wasn’t unheard of for a teacher to ask me reach something for her in a classroom or for an elderly person to tap me on the shoulder at a store, or even for my grandmother to call me to come to her house and grab something.

But now, as an adult
, since I worked at a company with a 1200-employee roster where I met about 3000 people from 2001 to 2010, and I was practically the only guy there that lifted weights seriously, I was also known as the strong guy. There haven’t been that many requests to help move stuff, but there have been a few. And if it is someone that is a genuine friend, I always go help them out as long as I am not sick, hurt, or out of town.

The Lathe

This Thing is a Lathe

So, around 4PM, I drove to the spot where I needed to be and found that the thing that needed to be moved was a 600-ln lathe. If you not familiar with what a lathe is, or does, then you are not alone, because I barely know either, but I do know two things about lathes:

1. Lathes are capable of extremely precise work, able to work within ranges of accuracy of like .000002 inches

2. Lathes are very heavy

I soon found out that this particular lathe, which the original owner used to craft replacement parts for guns, and that it was also upwards of 600-lbs. In fact, when it was first purchased by the original owner, the factory wouldn’t touch it. They had it strapped to a pallet, lifted it with a fork truck in order to load it into the owner’s truck and then they said they had no responsibility for it whatsoever.

I also learned that this lathe was extremely unbalanced. Talk about odd object lifting, 400 of the 600 pounds were on one side and then the rest of it was spread throughout the rest of the nearly 4-feet of length of this piece.

Also, I’d estimate the head of this lathe stood about 2.5 feet in the air, making it extremely top heavy.

I chatted with the original owner for the first few minutes and he told me some stories about being in Kuwait during the most recent gulf war and also time he spent in preparation for Desert Storm, although he never went over. His tale of a trip from one city in the Middle East to another city 8 hours away just to test fire some equipment in an area with enough sand dunes for a good backdrop in 150-degree plus heat seemed to be an eerie foreshadowing of what was about to come as we embarked upon our trip to relocate this immense lathe.

The Crew

Not sure how good at lifting lathes these guys are…?

After a couple of his stories, I heard some cars pull up and I saw the new owner, another man of about 50+ years old and two other men who I know are in their 40’s. The original owner would be of no assistance in the move, as he has a very banged up knee from his time fighting. Also, the girlfriend in the car ended up never even touching the lathe throughout the whole entire day.

I knew right away that this move was not going to be an easy one. I knew all three of these men very well, and none of them did any sort of regular exercise aside from their day-to-day jobs. In fact, I think all of them were full-time smokers putting away at least a pack a day.

Let’s just say it was clear without stating it that I would be carrying the heavy end of the lathe.

The Planning

We began assessing the weight, bulk, positioning and other factors about the lathe and how it would be best for us 4 guys to move this thing off a 4-foot work bench, 5-feet to the doorway and then another 4 feet to the truck. At the same time, the heavier end of the lathe had some sort of a gear box in it that wasn’t very sturdy, so it would not serve well as a spot to hold it.

Instead, the holding spots were four 4-inch handles that could be pulled out. Unfortunately, they were almost completely even with the bottom of the lathe, meaning we could not get our fingers under the handles unless we tipped the lathe up using a sturdy object like a board. Of course, every time we did that, the top-heavy 400-lb end of the lathe would try to completely turn over so we had to be very careful.

We got into position, holding what we could, and attempted a lift. With these three guys, it would have been impossible. We stopped the job and two of the guys went to get another guy, a friend of theirs from a nearby bar.

Fantastic. Another helper whose the better part of a 6-pack into a Thursday night bender. Awesome.

That took about 45-minutes, as I believe the two guys that went and picked up the 5th guy had a can of Old Milwaukee inside the bar, but they finally got back and I was relieved to see the 5th guy in the equation was about as big through the belly as he was tall.

Again we planned and postulated the best methods for moving the lathe. This time, we decided that instead of crushing our fingers with the lathe’s actual handles, we would use ratchet straps wrapped around our hands in sort of a human-link type of fashion to support the weight of the lathe.

This was my idea as I had seen some sort of professional movers’ commercial on the Yankees Sports Network utilizing straps, and it seemed to work very well as we were able to pick the 600-lb lathe up and move it the 5 feet toward the doorway.

The Wife-Beater

Unfortunately, once we got to the doorway, we were in trouble. The doorway was just a regular-sized doorway and there was no way for me, the lathe and the guy across from me to all fit through the door at the same time. As we all strained to support rh weight of the lathe, I tried to let the guy across from me go through the door first. To my dismay, not only did his shoulder or elbow knock a phone off the wall (and I am talking one of those out-dated phones with the obscenely short spiral cord on it) but he also got one of the little “spinny-turny” (sorry, I don’t know the terminology) handles of the lathe caught inside one of the shoulder straps of his wife beater. Yes, he and his brother both were wearing the plain-jane white wife-beaters like Eminem, and matching faded black stone-washed jeans. I am not creative enough to make this stuff up.


Incidentally, I think Eminem could out-lift all four of my partners, put together.

The Panic

So once this handle got stuck in this guy’s favorite wife beater, he started to panic, which in turn caused all the rest of us to panic, and before I knew it, the lathe was on the floor. I don’t know how it didn’t end up on someone’s foot or over on it’s side, but it was still in one piece, an unscathed lathe, if you will.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as now, we could do the unthinkable – push the lathe the rest of the way to and outside the door. In our rush and apparent Groupthink, we never even considered just lifting the table down carefully off the table and down to the floor in order to scoot it around. This was an important lesson that we built on later on this story though…

The Dog

Once we got outside, it was time for refreshments and recovery
. I was given a Pepsi, while the other gentlemen somehow managed to score more cans of crisp, clean, Old Milwaukee. We took a break and I watched the original owner of the lathe throwing this mangled dog toy out into the grass and then his dog, which I am told is a cross-breed between a one sort of nice, peaceful kind of dog and a Dingo.


If you don’t know what a Dingo is, they are these fierce, crazy pack-hunting dog-like creatures from the Australian outback which are famous for eating children. They get wild like an LSD Zombie. This dog would jet across the yard like a flash and would nearly catch the dog toy in the air, or sometimes on one bounce and I thought that it would probably be real tough to beat him in a game of Kickball 500, where you kick a ball back and forth to a guy and they have to catch it either in the air or after as few bounces as possible because they get fewer points after each bounce, and you go to 500. The original lathe owner told us that he was walking the dog one night around 10:30 PM and a pack of 6 coyotes came up along the trail and his dog, Mr. 500, killed 3 out of the 7 of them by gripping their bodies in his mouth and shaking them until their necks broke.

Would have been nice to have had
Dingo Warrior involved in this move…

After everyone finished their cold one, we tackled the lathe once again, utilizing the straps to the best of our ability. This time, the lift wasn’t nearly as hard, but somehow the original owner with the bad knee got involved and somehow crushed one of his fingers to a certain degree, but I am not sure how bad. We pushed the lathe further into the bed of the truck and they took one of our ratchet straps and harnessed it down.

The new owner drove very carefully with his new toy the entire 5 miles back to town where he lived. I am pretty sure I could have scored perfectly in the full first round of Angry Birds, playing one-handed during this drive, we were going so slow.

Then there were two surprises…

1. The two brothers, the girlfriend, and the guy from the bar all of a sudden took a mysterious detour. I was in the end of the caravan, and then they turned off the road and I was now driving behind the new owner. I followed him the rest of the way. He continued to drive very carefully throughout town, that is until he got to his driveway, at which point he decided to seemingly “floor it” and I saw the lathe wavering back and forth like a buoy out on the ocean.

2. Finally the two brothers with matching wife-beaters and faded black stone washed jeans came pulling in with a giant monster truck looking vehicle following them. To our surprise, they had enlisted the help from the brother of the 5th man in the equation, who had also been at the bar drinking as well. We were now 6 strong.

The Finish

The last part of the job would be to lift the lathe out of the truck and move it into the new owner’s machine shop, which was very dark and extremely hot.

The idea was to put this 2 by 6 board beneath the lathe and then carefully rock the lathe over the edge of the pick-up truck’s gate and then slide it down the floor. Good, efficient idea right?

Immediately upon trying this, the lathe started to slide all over the place and it nearly fell out of the truck.

So at this point, I am starting to get scared. Not only are these guys up in years, but they are also severely out of shape and now fatigued (not to mention some of them half drunk).

The Manager

When I was still at work at the company, I was in the Safety and Training field, so I had trained most of these guys on one or more occasions. I guess they felt used to listening to my guidance, because when my worry hit a climax I finally spoke up to them…

I said, “Wait guys. We need to make sure we’re doing the right thing here. That lathe almost fell off that board.”

We decided to get the 2 by 6 board out of the equation completely and we got extra straps, this time, legitimate 3-inch broad tow straps in order to lift it up from the bed of the truck, and then one of the women’s wives would pull the truck away and we would gently set it down.

Plus, at this point we had another extra guy added to the mix, the new lathe owner’s son-in-law, who thankfully had on what looked to be Spider Man sandals. We might not have noticed them, but thankfully the new lathe owner pointed them out to us under his breath, “Oh God, he’s got on sandals.”

The Work Bench

We were getting smarter with each step of the game and we were able to lower the lathe out of the truck very easily when the wife pulled the truck out from under it. Now it was a matter of pulling the lathe in through the door of the shop. I hooked the original ratchet strap under the heaviest part of the lathe and with both hands performed a partial deadlift and then scooted it backwards on top of the step-up leading into the building.

We then scooted it along the floor over to his work bench, when we got the final shock of the day…

There was no work bench.

Instead of a work bench, the new owner had a wobbly particle-board table. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked like it would snap if I leaned against it, let alone if we loaded it with a 600-lb lathe. The new owner assured us it would hold, as apparently he had been storing something else of a comparable weight on that very same table.

The Lift

In our final lift of the day, we hoisted the lathe up onto that table. During this maneuver, I was clenching the straps that were wrapped around my hands so hard that I popped seemingly every blood vessel in my left hand. The lathe also was sat upon the new owner’s leg for a short time before it made its way fully to the table. All 6 or 7 guys that helped on this lift (I had tunnel vision at this time, so I don’t really know who all pitched in) were huffing and puffing, thinking we were done.

The Handles

I say thinking because we had made one critical error in our planning process – the “spinny-turny” handles were positioned facing the wall, and the back of the lathe was facing out. We then had to turn this thing all the way around in order to get it facing out the right way.

At that point we were done with this insanity, and I made my way home to be with the family. While the temperature never hit 150-degrees and the trip didn’t take 8 hours down and back, it still seemed like a nearly endless affair.

The Reason

Earlier, I called this the Scariest Lifting Session of my life, or something like that, and the reason is because it was downright scary how out of shape these men were.

I found myself not only worrying about my lifting form and how to keep this monstrosity balanced so it didn’t clip off one of my fingers or jack my back, but I was also trying to best situation these guys based on their height and abilities so they didn’t get hurt as well. All of these guys have manual labor jobs they do, so through my head was running all of these thoughts like how I could make it easy on them as possible, but there was no EASY about this at all.

It made me glad to be in good enough shape to carry the brunt of the work through many of the efforts but at the same time, I was just in disbelief.

I never want to be in that position. I started lifting all those years ago so that I could be in shape all throughout life. So that I could be the grandfather that all the kids talk about as the strong grandpa.

I hope this is why you train as well. Sure numbers in competition are impressive.

Of course it’s good to look great in a swim suit…

The Health

But the most important thing is about being healthy. The strong, the size, and the power should all be the by-products or the coincidences of being healthy.

Keep that in mind DIESELS. I don’t want to sound like I am preaching, but my eyes were certainly opened up yesterday.

All the best in your training and health.


P.S. I am very thankful that we got the lathe to where it needed to be without any serious injuries and without damaging the equipment.

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