The Mr Olympia Problem
Posted on January 09 2018
This past weekend the Olympia was held in Las Vegas. For those that don’t know, the main draw of the Olympia is to crown a bodybuilding champion, dubbed Mr. Olympia. The winner is generally judged as having the best muscular symmetry and physique. Each year the contestants have pushed the limits in this regard. Phil Heath came out on top for the 7th year in a row, tying Arnold Schwarzenegger. Only two have gone on to win 8 contests. I salute the men (and women) that take part in each of the classes. The work and sacrifice each has put in to reach this level is astounding and a fraction of a percent of people in the world has the will and discipline to achieve such an honor. But as I look at each competitor, their muscular striations and their shear size, I cannot help but wonder how their presence and popularity on stage, has changed how the Tactical Athlete views his own fitness.
The Ah-Nahld from Commando circa 1985
I remember as a child seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando (yes I’m that old). In one of the opening scenes, he’s cutting down tree’s and carrying obscenely large logs around. I remember being stunned by the size of his arms. This scene arguably led me to my first weight set which consisted of plastic plates filled with sand on a shaky bench. My prized possession of course was the curl bar that my dad bought me and I was determined to get Arnold’s arms, cranking out as many curls as I could. Within a few years I was feeling pretty confident in my young self. But then one day I shook the hand of a farmer.
I grew up in Iowa and my guess is that the picture that just entered your mind was endless corn fields. You would be correct. When it came time for summer jobs, my dad would tell me to go find a farmer that needs help detasseling corn or bailing hay. He’d tell me that if I wanted to learn how to work hard and build grit, go detassel corn. If I wanted that plus strength, go bail hay. I’d scoff and go back to my curl bar. Then one day at church, dressed in my Sunday best, my dad introduced me to a friend of his who farmed. He was nothing to look at. I remember thinking that if farmers are supposed to be so strong, what was he doing wrong? He didn’t look like any Arnold to me. And then he shook my hand and I just about buckled at the knees. Trying to mask the pain through a gritted smile as the pain coursed through my knuckles, I quickly realized that I’d been missing the point. I’d been focused on Arnold’s bicep while carrying the log. But there was a lot more at play here, the bicep probably being the least critical of the muscle groups in Arnold’s action. And so I wonder, as people watch the Olympia, how many of us in the Tactical Community go back to the gym and start doing curls in the squat rack?
There is little doubt in my mind that American’s are vain. We must have the six pack abs, the chest and of course the biceps for others to envy. As men, we want our shirts tight (or as my friend says, size SMedium), sleeves short (if there’s sleeves at all), and veins to pop. We’ll even spend hundreds of dollars on supplements that literally swell our muscles and increase vascularity. We drink it and “get a pump on” before going to the club or beach. Instagram picks are only taken when we’ve got an optimal pump and under the correct lighting. And then when it comes time to sling a CRRC (Combat Rubber Raiding Craft) up onto your shoulders and run it down to the beach head, we’re dying and wondering why that skinny kid Carl is kicking our ass. If this is you, you’re focused on the wrong things and asking for injury.
The Tactical Athlete requires balanced strength, power, and stamina. And though you may not want to hear it, it means you shouldn’t be skipping leg day. It also means doing exercises that aren’t going to make you bigger. In fact, it could have the opposite effect, such as running for distance. That’s not to say that you won’t look good with a solid program. But Sheepdog Strong programming is created for the job. And we believe that if combined with a proper diet, an athletic cut will come as a consequence.
If you’re ready to focus on the right things, contact us for a program that works for you, with the equipment you have available, to excel at the job you’ve been assigned to do. Everything else will come.
Founder / Sheepdog Strong