Explore Physical Culture and Become Old School Strong!

James Fuller doing a classic physical culture lift, the bent press

Physical culturist James Fuller

Why Physical Culture?

It’s time to explore physical culture.

My goal is to be strong. Not strong twice a year in only two or three events that most of the world doesn’t care about.

Strong. Not strong as long as I’m wearing the right products and my song is playing.

Strong. Dave Draper pick up the car and hold it while my buddy changes the tire because the rental didn’t come with a jack strong.

Pick up my wife one handed and hold her overhead like Bud Jeffries or Arthur Saxon strong.

Fold a frying pan in front of you like Dennis Rogers strong.

Real world strong. Every day strong. No wristwraps no knee sleeves strong. I want to grow up to be like myself strong.

No excuses no exceptions.

Redefining Strength Athlete

I’m a strength athlete. I think too often we focus on the strength part and ignore the athlete part, or over emphasize athletic movements (jumps, crawls etc.) and forget about strength. The person I admire most in physical culture is Franco Columbu for his ability to compete in multiple arenas. I grant you that you can’t excel at one if you dabble in all but I’ve never been hurt for example, doing strongman lifts as a finisher. I have been hurt several times when I stuck to strictly powerlifting movements. And let’s keep it real. If you’re not poised to break a national or world record, you need to make sure that your weekend competition doesn’t destroy you for work on Monday.

Evidence for the Value of Cross Training

Compare the injury rates of those who only powerlift to the injury rate of people historically who cross train and you’ll see that it’s healthier to do multiple things. Look at somebody like Chris Rice who’s still breaking records in his seventies. He started as a fifth grader and competes in powerlifting, Highland Games and grip strength. I had the privilege of being the last person to interview the great powerlifting journalist Paul Kelso before he passed. Paul said he didn’t start getting injured until he tried to stick to just one sport.  Yeah, I hear you mumbling about accessory work. Sorry Homie, nobody can be intellectually honest and say that doing sets of fifteen with fifteen pound dumbbells on rotator cuff work can equal pressing three hundred plus pounds horizontally. Do you want to be that guy who can bench 400 but can’t do anything else? Is that why we started lifting so we’d have to make excuses for why we can’t do something?

Time to Go Old School

Over the past year, I’ve become more and more fascinated with the olde time strength legends who learned to do a huge variety of strength feats night after night without injury. You never heard of rotator cuff issues in the days of Arthur Saxon, Maxick, John Davis, John Grimek! So with that in mind, I now use my off season from powerlifting to explore other things for strength. It’s a journey filled with learning and as Bud Jeffries told me, “It could take years because there’s a million ways to be strong.”

So I guess I’m neither powerlifter nor strongman.

I’m a man.

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on Amazon.com.