It was my sophomore or junior year in high school, sometime around 91 - 92. I was training with a guy in his mid 20s. His name was Jeff. He was intense and I loved training with anyone who was intense. We worked well together, pushing one another past the breaking point. He never quit and neither did I. No challenge was too much including the time I did 50 sets of squats for my workout before leaving for Israel because there would be no gym for the next 3 weeks. I looked forward to every gut-busting workout together.

We were training legs one particular day and cranking away on the leg press. I remember one set where I was feeling like the weight was going to crush me but I wanted to get an extra 2 or 3 reps with his help, aka forced reps from my good ol’ bodybuilding days.
Arnold Forced Reps

I was grunting through my last reps and I said to him with my last breath, "Help me!" Jeff immediately snapped back at me and said, "Help yourself."

"Holy shit!" I thought to myself!

I got pissed and scared at the same time. Scared that the weight would crush my rib cage, I fought back and pushed through those last few reps on my OWN. I helped myself. Jeff was right. NO help was needed. That little voice in my head needed a good ol’ punch in the face. The exact thing that I needed was for me to do my OWN work. Jeff knew I was capable of doing the work but that little voice inside of me doubted myself.

You’ve been there before. You second guess yourself. You doubt yourself. You get confused and think there is something complicated out there that you must have or do.

I’m gonna give it to you straight here:

Success requires HARD friggin’ work.

Success requires consistency.

Success is gonna require you to go head to head, toe to toe with physical and emotional pain, discomfort, doubt and sacrifice. Or, maybe it’s NOT a sacrifice, if you’re TRULY going for your goals and refuse to stop until you reach the summit.

Often, success is all around us, we just need to open our eyes and open our mind and realize the answer is staring us square in the eyes.

Why am I writing about success?

You likely already KNOW what it takes to succeed in the gym, at work and in life. Deep down, we KNOW. We know it’s gonna require work. We know we’re going to have to work a little more than the other guy and a little smarter—sometimes, a lot smarter.

It’s NO secret that hard work coupled with a smart plan is the big ticket to success, both in AND out of the gym. Your mindset must be in the right place.

Weak Mind = Weak Body. The two go hand in hand.

Hard work without an undying belief in yourself will get you nowhere. Believe in yourself and believe in your mission. You don’t need to tell others about it or announce it to the world. You can keep that fire in your gut private. No need to shout it from the rooftops and from your Facebook page 20 times a day.

It’s not about anyone but you. If you’re looking for the easy way to achieve your goals—the short cuts, ALL the answers on a silver platter handed to you—forget it, you’re OUT.


WHY am I writing this?

Because even though we KNOW what needs to be done, we ALL need a reminder to stop wasting time impressing others and start getting our hands dirty. We ALL need that kick in the ass, the proverbial slap in the face, the TRUTH.

As the saying goes, "Do the damn thing."

The day I got fed up with the "globo gyms" playing sappy music and giving me the look of death every time I dropped the bar I decided it was time to do minimalist style workouts in my parents’ garage. The garage ceiling was only about 6’6" tall, and the walls were old cinder blocks.

The equipment I picked up was bare bones:
  • 300 lb. barbell set from Costco
  • Pair of 50 & 100 lb. dumbbells from newspaper classifieds ads
  • Dip Bar
  • Flat Bench
  • Utility Bench
  • Flimsy Squat Stands
The dumbbells I saw in the newspaper classifieds were for sale in Newark, NJ—one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. This was long before Craigslist and eBay. I was scared parking in Newark and stashed some money in my socks, some in my pocket, and some in my… never mind. I met the former gym owner at the storage unit and snagged those dumbbells, a utility bench and the dip bar.

I didn’t have any other dumbbells, so it was either 50s or 100s when it came to dumbbell work. The lack of equipment worked in my favor.

Those workouts were epic. I made strength and size gains faster than I had experienced in a long time. No gym manager telling me not to use chalk, not to wear work boots when I trained, or to say don’t do this and don’t do that.

If anything was going to hold me back, all the responsibility would rest on my shoulders. I loved it—100% accountability and responsibility.

I did basic barbell and dumbbell exercises along with dips and push ups. I felt like a gladiator, training in these imperfect conditions. The garage was freezing, literally. Steam surrounded my face as I would sweat while bundled under layers of sweats.

That return to the basics, simplicity, and gut-busting hard work taught me a powerful lesson—you can always count on the basics, hard work and consistency. And even though I teach this minimalist style on a regular basis, people still do not want to believe me.

They want more. They want fancy. They want something flashy and exotic. I am the wrong guy for flashy and exotic. I only care about results.

A recent comment on my Facebook page stated these exact words:

"Hey, Zach. How can I go about losing weight, how should my workouts be and what should I eat/avoid, thanks brother!!!"

I will get questions like this on the business side as well:

"Hey, Zach, how can I find athletes to train and what are the top 5 tips you would give for starting a warehouse gym?"

Both of these questions are great. Asking questions shows me that they want to learn. But, both questions also show me that neither person ever did any leg work of his own, or tried to see if the answer was out there already.

They never took the time to search my blog, listen to my podcasts, search for my interviews. Sometimes people tell me that they are too busy to read my newsletter (maybe a 3 minute read).

With over 1,500 YouTube videos and hundreds of articles out there that I’ve shared, the answers to those questions are provided. But rather than read, listen, or take notes, people want the answer handed to them.

People see ALL the information out there and they’ve become immune to it all. They don’t respect the answers or the information. The desire to work to find answers is not there. It takes effort, time and thinking.

When you don’t work for what you have (things given to you freely and easily), you don’t respect what you have.

Sounds rude, right? WRONG. I know that once you do the work, you will respect what you have. You will follow through with your information.

Today, more than ever before, we have information everywhere, yet more and more people are weaker, less healthy and less willing to "hunt and gather" than ever before. Why? It’s very likely that there is too much information, and it is too easily available.

What’s the perfect workout?

What exercises are the best for my vertical jump?

What’s the best way for me to silence the critics?

Stop looking for the secrets, and stop sitting on your ass while telling yourself you will only begin when you find the perfect workout or when you get this or that piece of equipment, or after the new year or when school is over.

NOW would be a great time to start training.

The answers to your questions are in your own backyard. You don’t need an entourage. You don’t need the perfect workout. The imperfect workout is often what you need to do.

The hard training will push you beyond your normal boundaries.
(Adult Language)
You want to get stronger and bigger? You want to get healthier, lose weight, improve your mobility and cardio? You can find the information and you can get the guidance—BUT the only person who will deliver the results is YOU.

YOU must do the work and follow through. Period.

You don’t need more equipment. You don’t need to wait for that gym membership or for your kettlebell to arrive before you start training. Training can be simple and effective. I always tell coaches who attend my Underground Strength Coach Certification:

The amateur tries to impress others with fancy equipment and flashy exercises. The expert understands and knows the power behind the basics. Very much like Bruce Lee said, "To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is."

And this quote as well: "It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential."

Many of my best workouts came from doing basic training with just a barbell and bodyweight. Stripping things away until I reached the essentials: power cleans, deadlifts, presses, rows, lunges, pull ups, push ups, jumps and sprints.

Perfect will never come. Success will not go to you. You must do it on your OWN.

Z Deadlift Garage thumbnailZach Even-Esh is the founder of The Underground Strength Gym and the creator of the Underground Strength Coach Certification and author of The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning now available from Dragon Door Publications.

Since opening his gym, Zach has trained hundreds of athletes from youth levels to the Olympic level. Many have gone on to achieve All-State, All-American and National Championship titles.

In addition to operating his training and coaching services on a daily basis, Zach serves as a consultant for Division 1 wrestling teams along with coaches and athletes around the world.

His mission is to help you kick ass & take names in life AND lifting without the hype, fancy fads or gimmicks coupled with real world experience dating back to 1989.