On Crushing Life, Training Stringhams, Hustle & Grind.

Crushing Life

Nearly two weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending 3 days in uncharacteristically not-so-sunny Venice Beach, California. Venice Beach as it so happens is one of my favourite places on earth, and somewhere that I believe everyone should visit at least one. While you’re there, you may just pick up a thing or two about crushing life, training stringhams, and hustle & grind. It seems to be in the salty, fresh, West Coast air.

The eclectic beachside feel, weather, laid-back West Coast vibes, all of the food…you can’t ask for much more. If the chance presents itself, I suggest you take the opportunity to pay the quaint, seaside section of Los Angeles a visit.

The mission of this Venice Beach run was to spend a few days with my business mentor, friend, incredible author and even better man, John Romaniello. We – okay, I – spent the early mornings crushing caffeine in all shapes and sizes (John doesn’t have quite the same caffeine affinity strike addiction I do), training at Venice Beach Golds (AKA the Mecca of bodybuilding) and getting in mandatory, traditional post workout feeding sessions at the Venice Beach Firehouse. The Firehouse holds a special appeal, and place in my heart as its where all the bodybuilders during the Golden Era ate after the majority of their 1-3 daily training sessions and many still do.

Nostalgic reasoning aside, If you make the trip you need to swing by the Firehouse and try their spinach pancakes. A classic Firehouse item, according to the menu. I’m still uncertain as to what exactly was in these besides spinach, tomatoes, and a handful of other Tex-Mex-esque veggies, but it matters little, for the taste was phenomenal and it fit my paltry, pre-contest macros. From there, I’d suggest moving onto the Golds Gym Rice Bowl. If you’re a fellow moron and decide to go there when you’re deep into a dieting phase and you’ve got some hard limitations on how much food you’re eating, ask for half the rice and add extra sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms. As a third option, an egg white omelet accompanied by chicken breast with salsa, and mountains of veggies is a great option if you’re just looking for something functional to kickstart some protein synthesis.

Our Firehouse meals often stretched into a short, focused work session interspersed with sporadic conversation. We’d then migrate across the street to Rose Cafe to focus, and hammer away at our respective businesses for the afternoon. Occasionally bouncing ideas off of each other, pausing for more coffee, and to discuss various nuances of entrepreneurship, Manhood, and life.

I can say with utmost certainty, it was these work sessions that were the most valuable aspect to this biz-cation, by a mile.

Training Stringhams & Big Will

What’s most invigorating about training at The Mecca, moves beyond all of the incredible physiques.

It’s about the atmosphere, vibes, and presence of true bodybuilding greats both young and old who’ve made Venice Beach Golds their training ground. Besides, how can you not feel surging waves of inspiration when you set your dumbbells down after a hard set of curls, look up and see pictures of legends like Tom Platz, Will Harris (more on him in a sec), Serge Nubret, Lee Priest and countless others overlooking your session. Talk about powerful.


Big Will Harris

Whilst we were smashing our stringhams and glutes with some high, wide stance leg presses I was approached by one very large, somewhat scary looking, but incredibly nice dude. I learned that his name is “Big Will” Harris, and he’s graced the Olympia heavyweight stage 3 times in his career.

Big Will shared some tremendous, helpful insights on my physique, complimented me and said he noticed me as soon as I entered the gym and had pointed me out to a few of his buddies. All because I was wearing short shorts (I KNEW short shorts had their advantages aside from comfort) and a sweater instead of the classic “bro attire” of sweatpants and a nipply stringer or tank. He spoke of how that attests to the pride I must (and do) take in my physique. He respected that I wasn’t there to show off, make a scene or draw attention but to keep on pushing, and make incremental steps forward. Self-masturbation and back-patting aside, I was more impressed that he took time out of his own training session to give some encouragement and feedback to a young dude who just wants to see what he’s capable of.

On my way out I practiced something I’d been watching Roman do time and time again. I tracked him down and re-engaged with him. I shook his hand again, thanked him for the insights, valuable tips and wished him well. In turn, he offered me his phone number and told me to message him anytime I had questions, for posing tips, bits of advice or in Venice again. Needless to say, I’ve got every intention of going back in August to hang out in the sun, and will definitely be booking a training session with him.

He also passed along a couple of training tips on improving quad sweep (the outer portion of your quad) and bringing some thickness and width to the lower lats. I want to share both of those with you, as I believe they will bring a positive impact to your physique as well.

Quad Sweep: Bring your feet up to the midpoint of the foot plate, narrow your stance, turn your toes in so they’re touching each, and pull your heels apart so it creates a reverse V shape. You will feel each rep from the bottom of your outer quad, all the way up to and deep into the origin on your hip.

Lower Lat Thickness: Big Will stressed the importance of proper, bent over barbell rows. “I don’t care what weight you use, you do what you can while staying totally flat.” Use a supine (palms facing up) grip and pull back towards your hips. Breathe. You will feel this light up your lower lats.

Crushing life, training stringhams, hustle & grind

I THINK Big Will may know a thing or two about a thing or two.

Wise Words from J.R and the Internet

The week was filled with valuable interactions, meaningful conversation, blazing productivity and steps in the right direction. To that end, I want to share the instances and conversation snippets I gained the most value from in hopes that the same value can be brought to you.

“You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” – John Romaniello.

Think about this long and hard. You’re capable of achieving literally, fucking anything. That’s something I believe to be true from the bottom of my heart. But on the other side of that coin, you cannot do everything. At least not with any substantial degree of quality and value.

“Pick your battles and find the reasons for whichever hill you’re willing to die on.” – Somewhere on the internet.

This was largely pertaining to debating random shit on the internet. Before you engage in a debate, pause and ask yourself if you’re willing to die on whatever hill the argument may be about. Chances are, it’s not worth your time, energy, or mental stamina.

“Everybody needs to get punched in their fucking face at least once.” – John Romaniello.

This quote warrants an entire blog post in of itself. One that begins with the introduction of what it means to be a male, moving along the path to adulthood, knowing what to stand for, and how to operate from a place of power and control.

Until the day comes where I write said post, I’ll leave you with this: You learn A LOT about yourself when you get clocked in the face.

Crushing life, training stringhams, hustle & grind

How can you turn that down?

“Forget everything that you think you’re not.” – Somewhere on the internet or in the book I was reading.

This serves no purpose in your life. Let’s not dwell on what we believe we cannot do. Instead, I challenge you to frame things in a positive light. Focus on what you’re great at, what moves you forward, and what you want to become. Forget everything you think you’re not, and allow yourself to be consumed by all that you’re capable of.

The Dichotomy of Hustle & Grind

At one point during a work session at Rose, the following question was posed by John:

“What do you think the difference between hustle and grind is?”

Hustle & Grind are two words that are quite often misconstrued and mistaken for one another. When in reality, they couldn’t have more polarized definitions.

Here’s the answer we came up with: Hustle is the act of putting yourself in a position to succeed. Going to events, networking, engaging with new people, taking gambles with potential for high payoff. In my case, flying down to LA just to hang out with someone for a few days is an example of hustle.

Grind is the execution, the day to day actions that generate results from your hustle. Now that I’m home, it’s time to

Crushing life, training stringhams, hustle & grind

Fucking EXECUTE.

execute on what I’ve learned. Put the lessons into practice and keep pushing forward. You set yourself up for success with hustle, then build and grow while you execute.

Now that my inner fire has been stoked, and I’m ready to obliterate the coming months. That’s the grind. Find your balance between the two. Some grind all the fucking time – as a result, they choose their moments of hustle with precision, and certainty that they will be of utmost effectiveness. Others swing to the other end of the spectrum. I’m of the opinion that a 50-50 split is a great place to start. Then as you build and progress, move towards a 70-30 or 80-20 grind-hustle ratio. Think about it. What’s the point of hustling to create opportunity if you’re unable or unwilling to execute on what you’ve created?

One last thing – If there’s ONE thing I learned on this trip, it’s this: Talk with and engage people in conversation.

Don’t be a dick who thinks they’re too cool to strike up a conversation. I put this into practice while boarding for my flight home..instead of casually ignoring the flight attendant patiently waiting for people to board, I said hey, asked a bit about where she was from, how her day was, politely asked if she could fill my water bottle to quench a ravenous thirst and had a light-hearted conversation.

Good things come your way when you engage, and it makes the person on the other end feel great.

In Closing

Last thing – If there’s ONE thing I learned on this trip, it’s this: Talk with and engage people in conversation.

Don’t be a dick who thinks they’re too cool to strike up a conversation. I put this into practice while boarding for my flight home..instead of casually ignoring the flight attendant patiently waiting for people to board, I said hey, asked a bit about where she was from, how her day was, politely asked if she could fill my water bottle to quench a ravenous thirst and had a light-hearted conversation.

Good things come your way when you engage, and it makes the person on the other end feel great.

In closing, I have a burning question I want to ask you.

How can I add more value to your life? What articles can write, what products can I build, what can I do for you that will bring clarity and direction to your training, your nutrition, and your life?

If you could take 2 minutes to shoot me an email, or head over to the MASSthetics FaceBook page and let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Looking for training sessions, recipes, and muscle building tips? Join the #MASSthetics Clan (it’s free).