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Diesel Iron Master – Graham Bartholomew

Hey everybody. Jedd here. I hope you are getting some outstanding workouts in and really killing your PR’s.

Today, I have an Iron Masters Recipient that I know personally. In 2004 and 2005, I competed in two strongman contests he promoted, Maryland’s Strongest Man. This gent is a good promoter, a fantastic strongman competitor himself, as well as an awesome guy that is knowledgeable and always willing to help you out.
This week’s Iron Master is Graham Bartholomew, and the nomination comes from Dan Cenidoza and many other friends of Graham.

Graham Bartholomew, 2nd from Right

“I met Graham in 2003 when I first got interested in strongman. He was the Maryland state chairman and recognized by everyone I talked to as an authority on strength. I attended (as an observer) the Maryland Strongest Man contest that he put on that year (and won) and after the show I approached him about where to start in the world of strength sports. From that very first day, Graham has served as a mentor and role model for me. He has schooled me on technique, progressive training, psychological discipline and just about every other facet of the Iron Game. I would not be where I am today without Graham’s tutelage. You will not find a better teacher, coach or inspiration than Graham!”

Dan Cenidoza, CSCS
Be More Training

A Wheaties box that was presented to Graham at his 50th birthday party celebration by Dan and several other friends.

Tom Bruns sent me this compilation of information about all that Graham has done both himself and to help others:

“One of my closest friends and my mentor in the iron game has been Graham Bartholomew. I met Graham at the 2006 Maryland’s strongest man contest, I was there as a spectator looking for a way into competitive strongman. I never imagined that I would be training with Graham at the time, or that I was making a life long friend. The following week I went to train with the Garage Gang, Graham’s crew, and I was immediately hooked.

It would have been very intimidating for me, as an 18 year old, to walk into most “hard core” gyms but Graham had created one of the most welcoming environments I have ever encountered. Ever since that week I have been making the long drive from my home to train with him, every week. Not only have I received the highest quality coaching and gone on to compete at the national level in strongman, I have made friends.

Graham hasn’t just been a coach to me, he has been one of my closest friends. He helped me work through many of the problems that young men face, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the man I am today without his friendship and instruction.

Graham’s personal achievements are many and varied, but they all speak to the intensity he brings to everything he does. He attended Hargrave Military Academy and played varsity football, basketball, and tennis. After graduating from high school he went on to run marathons, including several Marine Corp Marathons. He ran his last marathon in the late 80’s and then transitioned topowerlifting. He trained at Chaillet’s powerlifting gym with many other national and world level powerlifters, eventually deadlifting 700+ at under 220 pounds of body weight.

After the Chaillet’s gym closed he transitioned to strongman, and promoted many of the first strongman shows in Maryland. He ran these shows for several years and then carried on as the Maryland state chairman for NAS (National Strongman Society) until last year. He has promoted almost all of the Maryland strongman contests and has done a great deal to promote strongman in Maryland. He also has a storied strongman career that includes 300 pound per hand farmers walks, 700 pound yoke walks, and 750 pound axle deadlifts. All these lifts were performed after the age of 40, around 200 pounds, and with one fully functional leg thanks to an infection from a knee surgery.

Training with him has been truly inspiring, and his strongman crew, The Garage Gang, is a wonderful training environment. He is now trying to turn his hobby into a gym,, and is teaching classes at local gyms.

In spite of his personal accomplishments in athletics it is his ability to motivate and teach that is most impressive to me. He has trained everyone from people seeking base fitness to high level athletes. Everyone he has trained says wonderful things about him. One of the athletes he trains currently in his Art of Strength classes, Roger Stenbaucher, who suffered brain trauma as a result of concussions he sustained playing hockey and will no longer be able to play hockey or attend the Naval Academy. In spite of theses set backs he says that, “Graham has been of invaluable assistance to me in my recovery. He recognized my limitations and guided me so that I was challenged in my training but did not go to far. He has always looked out for my safety and well being as an athlete. Because of his commitment I have made remarkable progress, increased my stamina and strength. I now recognize I can be involved in sports even though I can’t play ice hockey.”

There are many success stories from his classes at local gyms in Southern Maryland. Timothy Smith says that Graham really helps everyone he trains to be their personal best, and Karren Cozzenes says that she looks forward to training for the first time thanks to Graham.

As soon as I sent out the email asking for help writing this I received wonderful emails from the rest of the Garage Gang including this one from Lou D’Ambrosio, “I met Graham Bartholmew in 2003 through a fellow powerlifter who said I should seek him out for help with my lack of deadlifting technique. I found Graham in the Sports and Health Fitness gym in Waldorf MD where he immediately started showing me the ropes after I introduced myself and expressed some interest and effort. I continued powerlifting after his coaching assistance and now have powerlifting records in the APA for the state of MD in the SHW class still. In 2006 a few years after our first introduction I started changing my training toward the strongman field.

Graham welcomed me into “THE GARAGE” where there was already an established crew of strongmen. Graham took me under his wing again and showed me the ropes of strongman and I began training regularly with him and what is now some of the best friends I have ever made. In 2007 I not only continued training with Graham but he offered me a room to rent out of his home. My training took on a whole new level. What I have failed to mention in this email is that when I transferred from powerlifting to strongman I started at a body weight of 365. Under Graham’s training and tutoring in strength I dropped 100 lbs of body weight and in 2009 competed at the National Strongman Competition in the 265 lbs weight class. I DROPPED 100lbs and got stronger NATURALLY! I finished 47th in the nation at the Amateur National Strongman meet in Carenco, LA. I cannot express how deserving Graham is of any award available. Graham is an incredible friend and great trainer. I’m indebted to Graham. The guy put years on my life.”

This is just one example of the sort of environment Graham created, and I can say with total honesty that I don’t believe I will ever find a better place to train. In 8 months from the time I started training with Graham, he had turned me into a real competitor. I did my first contest and placed 4th, and not in the teen division but the open division. A year later I qualified for nationals, in Salt Lake City Utah, and placed 4th in the 265 class and in the top 30 over all. One of the best parts about going to contests all around the country is seeing the respect that Graham has in the strength community. When you go to a contest wearing a Garage Gang shirt, there is a very good chance that competitors will be asking you about Graham and telling you what a great guy he is. I can’t remember a single contest where this didn’t happen.

That is just the experiences of two of the Garage Gang, though. In the time that I have known him Graham has trained many competitors and enthusiasts alike. He has coached top level competitors such as Kyle Wells (4th 2007 NAS Nationals), Joe Bosnick (2008 NAS Nationals competitor), Brian Hosford (long time competitor), and many others as a part of his crew. The success he has enjoyed as an athlete and a coach have been truly inspiring. His hard work, dedication, and intensity have been a great example to everyone that he trains or works with. Finally, I can say from personal experience that having him as a friend and mentor has lead me to a better and happier life and he has come to be like family to me.”

And yet another nomination for Graham from Joe Snavely:


I look back to my first encounter with Graham in 2001 quite often and fondly. It is my beginning and my point of reflection today. I entered my first Strongman competition not knowing what impact it would have on me today. From that point forward Graham became a superior mentor, colleague, and most of all, friend. Even when I hit rock bottom with the loss of one of my closest training partners, Graham helped me push forward when it seemed like all hope was lost. Back then he was the “old strong dude” who gave countless bits of advice. He presented many different viewpoints and angles to approach strength training that enabled me to start thinking way outside of the box. Over ten years later, I still compete, but more importantly, I am now passing on the same knowledge that Graham has helped me come to know today. I now have a young daughter, and work with many different athletes in both the mental and physical approaches to their upcoming challenges. It make me laugh since I am now being referred to as “the old guy”. My journey would have never reached this point if it were not for the countless and tireless efforts of Graham. I have you to thank for what I have today. You deserve this and so do the many people you will help that don’t even know it yet.”

Yours in Strength,
Joe Snavely

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As you can see, Graham is a person who exemplifies the Iron Master recognition program. He not only continues to keep chugging away, hitting the iron after 50, but he inspires other trainees with new challenges and to help them improve their lives and health.

Thanks for all you do Graham. I am glad to put your nomination up on the site. All the best of luck with your new personal training

If you are looking for a personal trainer, Graham can show you how to accomplish your fitness goals. Check out his site, here = > Grahambo’s Garage.

All the best in your training,


Send in Your Nomination

I know there are more outstanding stories out there of inspiring coaches and mentors. Send in your story to me at jedd(dot)diesel(at)gmail(dot)com.

All I need is a paragraph telling the story of why you think you have a good candidate for the Diesel Iron Master title, and a picture of the person you are recognizing. The only requirements are that they have to be over 40 years of age, train with the iron and inspire others to do the same.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to receiving your nomination today.

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2 Responses to “Diesel Iron Master – Graham Bartholomew”

  1. Joe Hashey Says:

    LOVE the stories!


  2. Jedd Says:

    Anybody you’d like to nominate buddy? Just shoot me an email!


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