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"Thinking Simply and Seeing Clearly"

Pavel's Foreword to Marty Gallagher's The Purposeful Primitive

Ten years ago a gruff voice left a message on my answering machine inviting me to write for a muscle magazine. The caller signed off as Marty Gallagher. He would become the big brother I never had and my mentor.

Since their overwhelmingly warm reception of Paul Anderson half a century ago, Russians have always been respectful of American strength and I am no exception. Anywhere Marty and I met, be it in a powerlifting meet where he was my "corner man", on a meditative walk through the mountains, over a glass of wine at the Ritz in Washington or a fine Mennonite-raised steak at Marty's country compound, I prodded and cajoled my friend for more knowledge. What I have learned has blown me away by its beauty and simplicity. I invite you to be equally blown away from your reading of The Purposeful Primitive.

The author of the book you are about to enjoy is the best writer in the iron game, period. He is so far ahead of the competition, both in his inner and outer knowledge of his subject and in his masterful delivery, that he is in a league of his own and the second best is not even in sight. It only took him forty years to reach his overnight success.

Marty was twelve when his father, an Irishman of few words, bought him his first barbell set. Like many, the boy learned how to weightlift from photos in Strength & Health. Like few, the self-coached weightlifter went on to win a national teen title and set a record in one of the lifts—even though he had not seen a live snatch or clean-and-jerk until his first meet! Then he found powerlifting and never looked back. Like mixed martial arts today, powerlifting in the sixties was an aggressive, anti-establishment sport. It was populated by rough characters like Don Blue who had to get a permission to leave prison for a day to compete in the World's—with a barely healed knife wound. Marty the juvenile delinquent was inevitably drawn in.

The young street tough apprenticed under another Irishman, Hugh Cassidy, a world champion and a legend of the strength sport. Weighing less than 300 pounds, Hugh benched 570 raw with a two-second pause! How many men could do it today? Far from a stereotypical musclehead, Cassidy was, among other things, fluent in German and an accomplished sculptor. It was this Renaissance man who would encourage the young gun to write his first powerlifting article. It was Cassidy's training methodology that would become the foundation of Gallagher's "purposefully primitive" method.

Training and competing alongside the iron elite, men like Mark Chaillet and Doug Furnas, Marty Gallagher kept learning, adding what was useful and discarding what was useless. His analytical mind, raw talent, and grim determination rapidly propelled him to the top.

Marty got strong. Very strong. He squatted 840 and had a clear shot at breaking the 871-pound world record. Then, like a tragic twist in the plot of one of Gallagher's beloved dark Russian novels, came the accident. Aided and abetted by a well meaning but unskilled gym member, a fully loaded barbell shattered the contender's leg…

His victorious comeback as a master lifter decades ahead of him, Marty Gallagher stayed in the game as a coach. And what a coach he was! His stable of athletes reads like "Who's Who" of the sport. Ed Coan. Introverted and enigmatic, he has brought down over a hundred world records and is undisputedly recognized as the greatest powerlifter in history. Kirk Karwoski. Explosive and bigger than life, this 'ber-champion is admired by the hard to impress Russians. Making his Jedi master Cassidy proud, Gallagher has carried on the Old School legacy and continued an impeccable iron lineage.

This coach extraordinaire kept "polishing the chrome" of the Method until it met French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint Exupery's criterion for perfection. "In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness." Enter The Purposeful Primitive.

Gallagher has two passions, lifting and literature. He is as good as anyone in either. Bring the two pursuits together, and he has no equals and no runners-up. In this one of a kind volume he brings you the hard won strength discoveries from the golden age of powerlifting, the seventies and the eighties. Filtered, systematized, and refined by one of the best coaching minds anywhere. It is a method second to none, even today. Consider this. As this book is going to print, the deadlift world records in four weight classes stand unbroken since they were set between 1982 and 1992. These records were set by American athletes who followed the Method revealed in The Purposeful Primitive.

The Method is at least as good as anything new out there. Its edge is its beautiful simplicity, something that contemporary methodologies, American and Russian, are lacking. For instance, the Russian national powerlifting team bench presses up to eight times a week. "Purposefully primitive" lifters do it only once or twice a week. The new generation of American athletes practices a great variety of esoteric exercises. The old school lives on a monastic diet of the basics. "If two methods deliver similar results," reasons Gallagher, "I will pick the more efficient one".

I would be kidding myself if I believed that more than a handful of readers have dreams of listening to the "Star Spangled Banner" standing atop the champions' podium at a powerlifting world championship. Most simply want to transform their physiques, build muscle and lose fat. Again, The Purposeful Primitive delivers.

When it comes to building muscle—prime meat, strong as it looks—powerlifters are the ultimate experts. Although endless pumping allows bodybuilders to develop huge fake muscles, it easy to tell these pretenders by their inflated, rather than dense, look. Real muscle, on the other hand, is rock hard and the person carrying it walks with an unmistakable presence of power. He draws attention because everyone is subconsciously recognizing him as the leader of the pack, not because he looks like a freak. Ironically, even in competitive bodybuilding the top dogs are rarely pumpers. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbo are former powerlifting champions. Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman are powerlifting strong.

Building muscle the powerlifting way has many advantages over the popular pump artist routines. First, you get strong. If you see no benefit in that, may I suggest that you put this book away and join a Pilates class? Second, strong muscles don't shrink in a couple of days away from the gym. "Some years ago a certain Mr. America came to New York to give an exhibition," reminisces professional strong man Sig Klein in his old age. "I always admired his photos and asked him to show me his arm. He refused, saying that he had just made the long flight from California and this could have shrunken his arms. I was flabbergasted. If a few hours trip or a few days layoff from training makes that much difference in his muscles, then those muscles were useless and I didn't care to see them."

Third, the "purposefully primitive" method demands very little of your time and even less of your money. Most hobbyists buy the highest quality professional grade equipment if they have the means. No self-respecting chef would pick Walmart knives over Williams & Sonoma's. Yet amazingly, when it comes to fitness, people shun the tools and the techniques of the professionals and opt for mass market choices, the equivalent of cheap plastic. It is especially bizarre, since, unlike in any other endeavor, a strength professional tool kit is a lot less expensive than the amateur alternatives! Compare the price tags on a barbell and on some fancy exercise machine. Ditto for the membership at a no frills gym like YMCA as opposed to a ritzy health spa. When you are listening to Gallagher, you are getting Williams & Sonoma quality at Walmart prices.

You might argue that while powerlifters may be masters of piling on thick slabs of muscle, what do they know about getting lean? A good point. Fortunately, Gallagher is no ordinary powerlifter, he is a Renaissance man of all around fitness. Not content with just being muscular and strong, he is also lean and athletic. Recently on a bet this baby boomer smoked a local high school football star in a sprint! Marty's sensei, Hugh Cassidy had shown his apprentice the way when he cut down from 300 pounds to ripped 190. The Method stands on a balanced tripod of Iron, Cardio, and Nutrition. The author has spent decades researching the most effective and reliable methods of getting lean and this book features cutting edge recommendations from experts like nutrition visionary Ori Hofmekler and master of lean Bill Pearl.

You might suspect that, akin to those academic elite who remain completely out of touch with the People, world class coach Gallagher has nothing to offer to a regular Joe or Jane such as yourself. Wrong again. A true training system can be scaled up or down. If it can't be, it is not a system but a collection of tips. One Russian powerlifter has said this about the system of Marty's Russian counterpart, the national team coach Boris Sheyko: "the methodology was… attractive… primarily because it was a system built from the bottom up on the same principles. Which is why beginners, masters, and the elite 'train Sheyko' basically the same way. The only difference is in the load and volume." The author of The Purposeful Primitive has had remarkable success with extremely obese regular folks. I have had the privilege of watching him train some of them. I have heard women cry, grateful about the many pounds they had shed, thanks to his tough love.

Last but not least of the arrows in Gallagher's quiver is the "brain train" section of the book. Don't expect beaten to death cliches about "positive thinking". The author's "purposefully primitive psychology" is as far removed from the psychobabble which has thoroughly discredited mind power techniques in this country, as a world record squat attempt from a half-hearted set of leg extensions. And it does not matter whether your goal is to add pounds to your deadlift or subtract them from your spare tire, these techniques will dramatically shorten your journey to wherever you desire to be.

In addition to learning some of the most effective techniques of body and mind transformation, you are about to treat yourself to some of the best writing the English language has to offer. Gallagher is a samurai, equally adept in the manly and the literary arts. Since his teens Marty has been inhaling Hemingway, London, Chekhov, and Turgenev. After four decades of voracious reading and hard living, the brooding Irishman has become their equal. He retreated to the country where he, in the words of Jack London, could be "living close to the earth, thinking simply and seeing clearly", and wrote the Great American Novel of Strength.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to present Marty Gallagher's The Purposeful Primitive.