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Foreword to Jon Bruney's Neuro-Mass by Marty Gallagher


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A New Approach to an Old Vexing Problem

By Marty Gallagher

Jon Bruney is a very large, very fit performing strongman. Jon is a thinking man who has developed his own very unique approach towards answering the eternal dilemma of the hardcore athlete: what protocols and procedures work best for morphing human performance from mundane into sublime, while concurrently and simultaneously morphing the human physique from ordinary into extraordinary?

Big Jon, whom I have never met, has a protégé-mentor relationship with grip grand maestro John Brookfield. Big Jon is a longtime performing strongman and coming from this unique blended background, one sees how Bruney’s experiences would certainly bend and shape his philosophy towards all things power, strength and muscle-related. Aristotle once said, "We are what we do repeatedly."

I am somewhat familiar with the grueling training regimen of Brookfield champions. I hope I am doing him justice when I say that for me, Brookfield’s approach is a lot more than that of a grip master. Brookfield, Bruney, Steve Justa and other iron pioneers champion what I would call strength/endurance" or "sustained strength." To excel in the sustained strength world a man needs a high tolerance for pain—pain is factually too strong a word. Pain should be reserved for injurious happenings and occurrences; what we are talking about is major league, self-inflicted physical discomfort.

Pain tolerance can be increased over time. Increasing the ability to tolerate pain requires a purposeful visiting and revisiting of current tolerance limits. Over time we push back existing boundaries and limits. The ability to withstand a certain amount of intense physical discomfort is a mighty attribute for any real man (or woman) to possess. Arnold Schwarzenegger once noted, "Those that can stand deep and repeated trips into the pain zone might become a champion—those that cannot have no chance of ever excelling."

It is purely conjecture on my part, but one can easily imagine how grueling grip training would steel the mind for the intense protocols Jon Bruney offers up. Grip mastery is as much mental as physical; grip work requires long, excruciating isometric holds clutching ponderous poundage for protracted periods. High level grip work is about steeling the mind to ignore the very real, very unpleasant burning sensations in the working muscles.

The idea of isometrics is very big in both Jon and John’s approach. This is a fantastic thing because isometrics is a legitimate exercise mode worthy of resurrection.

I remember reading one memorable Brookfield article in MILO that involved driving to the country (in my case I already live there) and knocking on a farmer’s door to obtain permission—no, not to date his gorgeous daughter—but instead to ask if he could push with all his might against a giant, immovable, one-ton hay bale that lay in that farmer’s field. I often drive by monster bales in my rural neighborhood and wonder what my reaction would be were I to be driving by and suddenly came upon giant men screaming, frothing at the mouths like mentally insane people; grunting, swearing, pushing with their might against seemingly immovable objects.

Any human over age 6 could grok the "impossibility" of  moving the giant bale and would avoid such taxing, seemingly mindless activity. Little do civilians understand that Brookfield was looking for an isometric/isotonic workout of the first magnitude; hay bale isometrics was madness rooted in logic. That Brookfield succeeded in pushing the one-ton bale clear across the field is beside the point. The logic behind the madness was a method, a protocol, a strategy for increasing sustained strength by engaging in protracted isometric and isotonic struggle. Brookfield tilts at hay bales like Don Quixote tilted at windmills.

Out of this tradition of grip and pain tolerance and isometrics and strongman competition sprang Bruney. Strongman feats are all about sustained strength: drag giant chains, carry heavy weights for distance, pick up multiple stones—strength alone, pure strength, one rep max strength, will not win you a strongman competition.

Strongman in its current state should not be called ‘World’s Strongest Man’ that title should go to the one-rep max champ—the appropriate title would be "World’s Strongest Strength/Endurance Athlete."

So how does one go about attaining sustained strength and all the fabulous attributes that accompany its acquisition? Jon Bruney offers us his solution in this book. The premise of this book is to provide the reader with a new and "revolutionary" system that provides the diligent user both absolute strength and sustained strength along with maximum muscle hypertrophy, all by using a unique protocol that couples different strength methodologies.

The guts of this book, to my way of thinking, is Jon’s three-part "set" that maximally taxes a multitude of pathways. Bruney’s approach creates maximum muscular exhaustion or muscle "inroad," as we used to say in the 1980s. Maximal inroad occurs when a muscle, or group of muscles, is totally devastated on a variety of levels. Jon has devised a devilishly exhausting protocol that consists of three parts: grind, explode, and iso-push. Target muscle or muscle groups are routinely shattered, inducing muscle hypertrophy, assuming you don’t wuss out on the poundage. Jon’s procedure makes terrific sense….
  • Grinds: slow, controlled exercises that require maximum body tension. Grinds make light weights heavy and ingrain proper technique. We start with grinds.
  • Dynamic Power Drills: explosive movements require power and speed. The purposeful use of momentum delivers enhanced effect.
  • Isometrics: push or pull against an immovable object. The joint-angle and musclelength remain constant for the duration of the isometric contraction.
Jon features a telling quote by Mike Mentzer, "Anything that you can do to make your workout harder is a step in the right direction." Jon has definitely picked up Mike’s battle flag and added a few Brookfield-ian influenced intensity amplifiers along the way.

The Bruney Neuro-Set is pure conjured-up hell: you commence the set by grinding the poundage, purposefully slowing the rep speed on both ascent and descent. After a predetermined number of grind reps, commence performing high velocity ballistic reps making use of speed and momentum. Finish this man-breaker set with a final push-or-pull-your-guts-out isometric finale that targets the muscle(s) already shattered in the grind/explosive portion of the set. Ouch! This has got to hurt! Sissies need not apply.

Anyone looking to blast themselves out of whatever quagmire they find themselves mired in need look no further than the protocols and strategies outlined in this excellent book. Any team sport athlete would be well advised to immediately commence a cycle incorporating Jon Bruney’s methods. Athletes need what Jon is offering: pure power combined with amazing capacity for sustained and continual strength output. This type of training can provide users an entirely new strength approach that will prove particularly beneficial to fighters, athletes, military and law enforcement types. The approach will also allow regular folks a method with which to round out their current capacities and capabilities.

Let us not always and continually play to our strengths, let us identify, embrace and celebrate our physical weaknesses. As all real pros know, working weak points is where the real gains lie. Bruney’s book mercilessly attacks weak points and this is always a recipe for tangible progress.