The soreness is starting to settle in and with it a profound sense of accomplishment. I spent this past weekend with my mentor, Elliott Hulse, at his gym in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a wild ride of knowledge, lifting, brotherhood, alpha males and Ireland. The reason I was in St. Petersburg was Elliott’s Strengthology 101 certification. This is the first of several posts about this weekend. I’m eager to get this out so I will just let it flow, stream of consciousness style, and as such I have no idea how many parts this will have. I’ll let you know when I’m done.
If you follow me on Facebook you know of my love for Elliott and his work. I share his ideas more than anyone else’s and while I follow the work of many trainers, none has had the same impact on me and my work as Elliott.
If you don’t already subscribe to his newsletter I suggest you do so. I recommend the same for his YouTube channel as well. Elliott’s style is aggressive and often controversial. Clearly an alpha male, Elliott exhibits the highest expression of the alpha, what Cesar Milan refers to as “quiet dominance”. Elliott knows exactly what he’s capable of and since he knows he has no need to prove anything. Everything I’ve seen him do is done in the spirit of “Here’s what I think, take it or leave it.”
His primary audience is young weight lifters and fitness enthusiasts but his message is relevant to everyone. His mission? To help everyone he comes in contact with become “the strongest version” of themselves.
I arrived in St. Petersburg, Florida early on Thursday. By the time I had settled into my hotel room it was only 2pm. I quickly changed into my gym clothes and set out in search of his new gym. Elliott had moved from the original Strength Camp to a larger space and I was eager to see his new digs.
When I got there Elliott was editing another one of his Yo, Elliott! videos. This time a trans-gendered female (wait, is that right? Do you name the sex they were or have become? Confusing. Anyway, it was from someone who was a girl and is now a guy) had sent in a video question asking how he should train in order to appear more masculine. Not only was Elliott responding he was doing so in a genuine manner. In the world of powerlifting, bodybuilding and strongman, who does this? You can see the video here.
While he worked I knocked around the gym hanging out and spending time with his assistant Chris Barnard, a very talented trainer, a former client of Elliott’s who played football for the University fo Miami and has designs on the NFL. Later while Elliott worked on getting his video equipment in order I worked out in the back alongside Chris. At first I thought I’d just follow Chris and do his workout, but once he started his plyometric training and I saw how he could jump, I decided I was on my own. Just so you know, white men can jump.
Luckily, Elliott came out after a little while. He has a strongman competition next weekend and he needed to work with the atlas stone. The atlas stone is a large ball, almost the size of most stability balls, made entirely of concrete.
Elliott came out, did a few stretches and promptly walked over to a 320 pound stone which he then lifted to a platform set somewhere around 50 inches off the ground.
Do me a favor. Read that again. In front of my eyes without any real warmup he just lifted 320 pounds to face height on his 5’8” frame. Again I ask you, who does this?
If you’re starting to notice a slight bit of hero worship here it’s not surprising. Most of us who attend these seminars are big time fans. We’ve followed his work for sometime, seen most, if not all, of his 417-and-growing videos and are proud to count ourselves amongst his supporters (currently reported to be over 300,000).
After Elliott had finished his single rep effort he turned to me and said, “Wanna try?”
Yes, I did.
After ascertaining I had never lifted stones before he sent Chris after the camera. And here I got my first big lesson of the weekend. Never pass up an opportunity to shoot a training video.
Elliott then proceeded to teach both me and the world how to lift stones. The most important thing to know about stone lifting? Pick it up. Put it on the platform. Sure there’s some technique, but the most important message? Pick that shit up.
He started me with a more modest 150 pound stone. It went up fairly easy. We then moved to the 225. That one? Not so much. I could get the stone to my lap, but couldn’t get it high enough from there to put it on the platform.
For the next fifteen or twenty minutes Elliott would do a one rep set with the 320 and I would try with the 225. After several failed attempts and much coaching from both Chris and Elliott he told me to go back down to the 150 and to lift it for a set of 5. Just to mollify my ego I did a set of 6. After that set I tried the 225 and…success!
This little experience set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
There is much more to write about from this weekend. Strengthology is all about becoming the strongest versions of ourselves. It’s more than just lifting, it’s about how everything about us from the state of our bowels to our thoughts and mental conditioning to our spinal alignments to how our emotions are sometimes locked into our bodies affect us and affect our strength.
Most of us don’t consider these things. As athletes we want to know how much to lift, how to lift it and how often to lift it. After that we want to know what to eat and when. That’s usually it.
I’m here to tell you there is so much more. Get ready my friends, I’m about to take you on a very wild ride.