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BG5150 06-18-2008 08:04 AM

Get thee to the basement! (good read)
I took this off another post on a board that lifted it from elitefts. Good read:


Originally Posted by
No Respect? Go to the Basement!
By Zach Even-Esh

I have had some interesting conversations with Jim Wendler. One in particular struck a chord with me quite heavily. In fact, it has helped mold a process I use at my gym when training new athletes.

Jim and I spoke about the lack of respect for the weights nowadays, specifically by those who spend too much time on the internet and at these fancy gyms. I see how kids casually skip workouts that their parents pay for without a care in the world. I see how countless high school athletes don’t work jobs because they are full-time high school students who are “too busy” to work.

I see how incoming clients want to get started immediately on the same program as the experienced wrecking crew on their very first training session, completely dismissing the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it took to be able to follow such a program. I see how high school athletes think squatting half-way down actually means “squatting.” I see how way too many people have no ****ing clue what it means to be committed, intense, and passionate about something, especially getting strong!

I have turned down prospective clients many times. I have also fired clients due to their lack of effort or their overbearing parents who think smashing their son to the ground during every workout is what it’s all about.

The last kid I “fired” was prepping for college football. Weighing around 160 lbs on a good day and skipping more than half his workouts led me to tell his father that I simply could not take his money anymore and that his son was no longer allowed to train with me. Problems with a girl, this hurts and that hurts…before I knew it, more than half of his workouts were no shows. Some were even late shows.

Kids like this do NOT deserve to train among other motivated kids. I suggest to my athletes that they help their parents pay for their membership with me. You need to earn your way to train with me.

Kids like this need to be sent to the basement, locked up for one hour four days a week, and told they must figure it out on their own. “Here you go, son. I bought you a beautiful 300-lb weight set from Costco. Now, get the **** downstairs and figure it out on your own. No radio, no mirrors, no guidance, no asking for help. Figure it out on your own. Don’t let me see this door open up until I tell you that your one hour is over!”

Can you get jacked and strong using a 300-lb barbell set? You better believe it! And NO, there is no power rack. EVERYTHING begins from the floor.

Our new clients go through a baseline program that can last anywhere from a few workouts to a few months. The time spent on this baseline program depends on their intensity, progress, physical improvements, mental readiness, and commitment to growth, inside and out. We have them do hand walking, pull-ups, recline rows on thick ropes, box jumps for high reps, jumping rope, sled and Prowler work, high rep medicine ball throws, high rep medicine ball slams, sledge hammer work, push-ups, sit-ups, leg raises, recline rope climbing, and more of the same. The pace picks up every single workout, progress is expected, intensity is expected, sweating is expected….

Complaining is not allowed or accepted. Saying “I can’t…” or stating some other unacceptable excuse does not go over well with me. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be challenging. In case you were wondering...

If you are warming up and it looks like you don’t want to be here, LEAVE! We don’t want you here, and the weights don’t want to be touched by you. Negative energy has NO place in a hard core weight room. Don’t try to fool me either. I can tell who respects the weights and who doesn’t. If I see an ounce of disrespect, you’re going to get smashed. You’ll be hitting circuits of wheel barrows, pull-ups, recline rope climbs, and leg raises on the dip bar. I’ll have you pushing the “Prowler of death” until you’re seeing stars and laying in the middle of the parking lot dazed and confused.

The weight room was once a special place. Nowadays, everyone wants fancy this and fancy that and cries a river like Justin Timberlake because they see box squats, clean and presses, floor presses, pull-ups, sled work, and farmer walks on a program. They wanted fancy shmancy. Why do they want fancy? Because fancy is WAAAAY easier than the basics. It will always come down to the basics and gut busting effort if you want results. This will NEVER change.

Louie Simmons kicks people who don’t show respect out of the gym. George DeFranco did the same when he owned a gym. I’m doing this today and will do so until my very last breath on earth.

The kids who respect the weights nowadays seem to be those who have jobs and need to make their own money to support their gym membership. I used to cut lawns as a teenager to earn money for my gym membership. I also washed cars. I worked full-time plus overtime at a summer job to save cash for my first car. I had to stop working overtime when someone posted a sign on child labor laws and found out I was only 16-years-old but working 50 hours a week.

I rode my bike to the old school YMCA and could barely walk my bike home after some of my workouts. Today, a kid plays football for one hour and is too tired to go to the gym afterward and skips a training session that mommy and daddy are paying for!

I’m sick of the bull ****….maybe some of these kids do not deserve to go to the basement. Might be too warm and cozy. How about a 300-lb barbell set in the backyard, regardless of the weather, and some time to figure it out.

It’s time to raise the bar regarding what we expect of our youth or anyone else who starts a strength program. Donald Trump said the young generation is turning into a bunch of wimps. The schools focus so much on positive reinforcement and making everybody feel good that no one can handle the truth.

The truth is hard work—gut busting hard work—on the basics is where it’s at. From my point of view, it looks like we’re going to have some very crowded basements. It’s time to instill some morals, values, and work ethics.

Hard is not what we do! Challenging is not what we do. We have it easy my friends, and when I hear complaining or whining, it sets me off like a time bomb. I almost lost it when one of my own clients requested me to change the rules of our LIFT Strong fundraiser because he was not a sure win. I told him not to compete because he has no clue what it means to fight for something, which is exactly why we hold LIFT Strong events. It represents the fight that Alwyn Cosgrove fought for several years.

Rather than complain about the “challenge,” we must be grateful for it, embrace it, and become better people because of it. Hard is what guys like Alwyn Cosgrove have fought through as well as those like Lance Armstrong, Mrs. DeFranco, Deon Anderson, and the like. These are the people who have experienced what “hard” is.

That’s my rant, and yes, I’m pissed off! And if you walk into my gym, you had better believe that I’m going to take it out on YOU! So be ready!

Zach Even–Esh is a performance coach for athletes and the owner of the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, New Jersey. You can learn more about his methods at or

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at

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hrdgain81 06-18-2008 09:00 AM

I understand where he is coming from, so many people these days have such a sense of entitlement that they think they dont have to work hard to get what they want.

On the other side, i dont think its smart or safe to send a kid into a basement and tell him figure it out on your own. Thats setting the kid up to fail, or worse injure themselves.

If it was my kid, I would drag them to the gym with me to see what real dedication and intensity was all about. And if they weren't interested, then they wouldnt be joining me again. I know this is a different situation for him because he is a trainer, and you can only do so much to motivate other people's kids, and it gets frustrating. but you really cant want more for people then they want for themselves ... it just leaves you exhausted.

BG5150 06-18-2008 09:04 AM

I don't think the sticking the kid in the basement was meant to be taken literally. But was meant to be not to give the kid a free ride.

hrdgain81 06-18-2008 09:10 AM

gotcha, I have a very strong and dedicated friend who has an affinity for the phrase "no deposit, no return". I think that holds very true here.

EricT 06-18-2008 10:57 AM

Kids are kids. They are not all going to respond well to pressure tactics. You can't expect to treat them like adults and have them respond the way you like. Sounds like a lot of complaining about the kids when it is a coaches job to know how to motivate kids in general. They are not emotionally mature...they are not adults. And kids need to play and have fun. There are ways to get results when working with kids but the methods are not the same. If you can't do it...then shut up and don't train kids. Whining is whining.

It's true that kids these days are not active enough. That is for sure. But it's not about lifting weights. It's about getting off your ass and going out and participating in a wide variety of activities and play. If a kid wants to compete then fine...but don't expect a boot camp attitude to work all the time nor be safe or appropriate.

If all there was to being a trainer or coach was to rant and rave and bark out orders...there would be a lot more good coaches and trainers.

I started working and supporting myself at a young age as well. If fact when I was 14...way illegal. And if I could do it again...Id rather be off hanging with my friends rather than telling them I can't go cuz I have to work. I worked cuz I had too not cuz I was some "motivated" person. If I was training children I woudn't expect them to be a carbon copy of me as a child. It's not about me. It's about them. Most of that article really sounded like it was more about Evan-Esh than about those he trains.

_Wolf_ 06-18-2008 11:08 AM

good post Eric. when i read it i didnt know how to word my thoughts because i basically understood that if you want kids to co-operate, you must be able to make them want what you want from them.

all he was doing was grumbling and whining.

EricT 06-18-2008 11:12 AM

To me you have to look at it from a foundational perspective. If you want to train people and you think of them first and foremost as "trainees" or "athletes" you are not going to be as effective. They are people first then athletes. And with children they are kids, then people, then athletes.

I think Brijesh Patel said it best when he stated that you have to realize you coach people.

I rarely see anything constructive come out of "rants and raves".

iron_worker 06-18-2008 11:44 AM

It was a little too rant-ish for me as well but he did make some good points about dedication and hard work etc. I think everyone could use a good solid dedication to something...and its obviously not going to be strength training for everyone like he makes it sound.


EricT 06-18-2008 11:48 AM

I agree with that. It just doesn't matter what you are doing though, you are not going to inspire motivation and dedication in children, adolescents, or post-adolescents by taking out your mood on them. You'll just desenstitize them to everything you yell about. That won't really work well long-term for anyone, I don't think. It kinda of reminds me of all the TV shows where trainers are portrayed as a boot camp guy who barks out orders and abuses his clients. Makes for good TV but is far from general reality.

hrdgain81 06-18-2008 12:18 PM

^^ yup, as i stated in my previous post, lead by example, and others will follow. I know thats how I learned, i went to the gym, saw some big strong dudes working with intensity and moving serious iron and thought to myself, thats how i want to be.

Being a fat kid didnt hurt my motivation either ...

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