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Foreword to Convict Conditioning 2


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The Many Roads to Strength
by Brooks Kubik

 After writing over a dozen strength training books and courses of my own, and literally hundreds of training articles, I’m finally able to take it easy and write a short foreword to someone else’s book. In this case, Paul Wade did the heavy lifting (if I can use that term in the foreword to a book about old-school physical culture through advanced calisthenics), and after Paul knocked out 300-plus pages, I get to be lazy and type a few words of my own.

The fact that Paul asked me to write this foreword may surprise you – just as you may be surprised by the fact that I agree to his request. After all, Paul is the guy who wrote Convict Conditioning—a book devoted to old-school calisthenics—and I’m the guy who wrote Dinosaur Training and other books dealing with old-school weightlifting and weight training.

"So where’s the common ground?" you might ask.

Well, I’ll tell you. 

Let’s begin with the cover of Dinosaur Training. It features a simple line drawing of an old-school physical culturist lifting a heavy barrel overhead. The photo comes from an old-time forearm and grip training course written and sold by George F. Jowett, an old-school lifter, wrestler, strongman and athlete who was setting records about 100 years ago, and who wrote his courses and books way back in the 1920s. If you’re familiar with his work, you know that he was one of the best and most inspiring writers in the history of Physical Culture—and you also know that a lot of people have gotten really strong over the years by following his training advice.

(Brief note: Jowett’s best book is The Key to Might and Muscle, which is available in a high quality modern reprint edition from a very good friend of mine—Bill Hinbern at Bill also carries that old George Jowett forearm and grip course I mentioned. Both are well worth reading.) 

In any case, imagine my reaction when I read through the final draft of Paul’s manuscript for Convict Conditioning 2 and spotted a line drawing of an old-school physical culturist lifting a heavy barrel. It’s not the same drawing that appears on the cover of Dinosaur Training, but it’s from the same George Jowett course.

And that’s a clue to why a guy who primarily writes about lifting heavy iron is writing this foreword. 

The real link is an appreciation for old-school physical culture, and the training methods of old-school athletes and strongmen. As both Paul and I have noted many times in our respective books and other writing, most people who think about building strength and muscle make the HUGE mistake of thinking that the way to do it is to go to the nearest commercial gym—what I refer to as "Chrome and Fern Land" in Dinosaur Training— and start following the latest super program in whatever muscle comic you happen to be reading. In other words, they start doing a modern-day bodybuilding program, they train for the pump, they use the latest exercise machine knock-offs of the Nautilus machines that flooded the training world in the 1970s, they use the cardio equipment, they guzzle the supplements and follow this month’s version of the super-duper muscle-building and fat-burning diet for bodybuilders, and in way too many cases they start looking for someone who can supply them with their first stack of steroids.

I’m opposed to that nonsense. I believe in building strength and muscle the old-fashioned way. I believe in things like hard work, sensible training programs, and training for lifelong strength, health and organic fitness. I believe in following the training advice of the old-time strongmen who flourished in the period I call the Golden Age of Strength—which was roughly from 1890 and the days of the French-Canadian powerhouse, Louis Cyr, and the magnificently muscled and remarkably strong German, Eugene Sandow—through the 1930s, and 1940s, and the amazing exploits of men like Tony Terlazzo, John Grimek, Steve Stanko, John Davis, and others— and into the 1950s and the era of men like Reg Park, Tommy Kono, Doug Hepburn and Paul Anderson.

And Paul seems to believe much the same thing. Interestingly, in Convict Conditoning and Convict Conditioning 2 he mentions many of the men I write about in my various books and courses. I’m working off memory right now, and this isn’t an exhaustive or complete list, but we both cover the strength, power and exploits of Sig Klein, John Grimek, Maxick, Doug Hepburn, Bert Assirati, George F. Jowett, Eugene Sandow, and Thomas Inch. And as Paul properly notes, each of these men—all of whom are Iron Game immortals, meaning that long before steroids, wraps and super-suits they set lifting records that very few men can match even today—were accomplished gymnasts, hand balancers, and acrobats or combined their weight training with some form of advanced calisthenics.

So that’s the common thread. Both of us have turned our backs on modern-day training—which really means modern-day bodybuilding—and have turned back to old-school physical culture. We’ve done that because the old-school stuff works—and the modern stuff doesn’t. And both of us want YOU—the reader—to do what works. We both want you to achieve great things—and to develop the type of strength and development exemplified by the legendary athletes of the Golden Age.

You hold in your hands a book that can help you build some serious strength. Use it wisely, and use it well—and grow strong!

Yours in strength,


Brooks Kubik