Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cuz Stone Cold Said So

It was May of 1997. I walked into a bar in New York City with my brother and our friend Todd. Standing right in front of us was none other than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin who had just begun what would turn out to be the biggest and most successful run in the history of professional wrestling. Since I was at Wrestlemania I and had been a huge fan since 1982 I was star struck and excited by the sight of “Stone Cold.”

Inexplicably, he was standing alone so we went right up to him and started talking. Before we knew it an hour had passed and we hadn’t had a drink. Steve suggested that we head down the street to another bar and we were on our way.

“Am I really talking to Stone Cold Steve Austin like he’s an old friend I’ve known for years?” I wondered. As a lifelong wrestling fan it seemed like a dream. Before I could ponder the situation any further, I felt a huge hand slap me on the back. “Ready, Jay?” Stone Cold asked.

Indeed, I was.

When we got to the next bar we grabbed a few bottles of Guiness and went over to a corner of the room where we continued our discussion which soon turned to training. While you are usually disappointed when you talk training with professional athletes or other famous big dudes after you learn that they built all their size on 50 sets of leg extensions and flyes, the conversation with Steve was actually quite surprising.

His favorite exercise was squats. “If you do a lot of heavy squatting, you’re gonna get big; I don’t give a sh*t what anyone says. I used to squat all the time. Loved to squat. It’s the best exercise there is. My favorite squat workouts and the ones that really got my legs to grow were real high reps. I used to do 20-40 rep sets and my legs blew up.”

“Yeah, high rep squatting is definitely one of the best things you can do to build huge legs.” I said. “I first learned about that from reading Super Squats and some stuff about how Tom Platz used to train. You can’t argue with the greatest legs in the history or bodybuilding.”

***As a side note, my good friend recently moved next to former Olympic gold medal wrestler and former WWF world champion, Kurt Angle. While they were taking the kids out trick or treating the other night they started to talk training. Kurt said that he, too, loved high rep squats and had done something like 405 for 20 and 315 for 50 reps. More proof of the value of high rep squatting. (High rep leg presses or hack squats also work quite well).***

Steve told me that some of his other favorite mass building exercises were the big, old school basic compound movements. What a relief this was to hear. Although his training had evolved because of how beat up he was from years of wrestling he swore by the basics for getting big and strong.

No training talk with Stone Cold Steve Austin would be complete without asking him how he got such an enormous neck.

“Oh man, I had a neck harness and just did this sh*t all damn day,” he said as he mimicked the motion of doing an extension with a harness around his head. “Everyday, that’s all I did. Ya gotta have a big neck.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” I replied.

Later that night, Steve hopped in my truck for the ride back to his hotel in Jersey where he was staying. We exchanged handshakes, hugs and phone numbers and planned to meet up again soon.

We did so a month later when he invited me back to the locker room after a show in Boston where I met Bret Hart, Vader, Mick Foley and quite a few others. We discussed many things that night including conditioning and nutrition, but that’s another story for another day.

Until then, remember what Stone Cold said and make sure you’re squatting heavy and, at least some of the time, for high reps (12-25). Keep making consistent progress and upping your weights and you will be buying new jeans before you know it.

Jason Ferruggia

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