Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back Day

Left, Yours truly, and right, the Strongest Woman in the World, Rebecca Swanson

Today was back day, and I trained at my favorite gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Liberty Gym, where this photo was taken with my friend, Rebecca Swanson, the strongest woman in the world. We both weighed in at 215 the day this photo was taken, January 31st, 2009. That was with platform boots and our wrestling outfits! I have met Rebecca over the past few years at the Olympia and Arnold Classic Expos, but never really got the chance to know her. My first opportunity to really hang out with her was in November of 2008, and we met in LA concidentally, and she asked me if I would join her for a workout at Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, California, the mecca of bodybuilding. I was all too happy to do so, as this is analogous to a college basketball player playing with Michael Jordan, or a golfer with Tiger Woods for the day. I was in iron heaven! I told her that I always wanted to learn how to deadlift better, and asked her if she would critique my form, and she was all too happy to assist. Rebecca was the first woman to ever benchpress 600 pounds in a powerlifting meet, and total over 2,000 pounds as well (benchpress/squat/deadlift). When she was at the top of her powerlifting game, she weighed somewhere in the vicinity of 240 plus pounds. Since that time, she has decided to retire from powerlifting, and streamline her physique. Before she started powerlifting, which, amazingly enough, only about ten years ago, she did a few bodybuilding shows, and I remember her when she appeared in the magazine, Women's Physique World, because I used to collect them when they were still publishing. While at Gold's, we suited up in our gym attire, and when she came down the stairs, she could have eclipsed the sun. I asked her how much she weighed, and she told me around 210 lbs. I did not believe her, and made her jump on the scale to prove it, as her upper body was just too massive, and she appeared all of 225 lbs. So, she hopped on, and she weighed 211, and that day, I weighed 209. I told her I could not believe she only weighed a couple more pounds than me, but she was quick to point out that my legs and ass were much larger than hers, and I had to agree that was true. All the years of her heavy benching and deadlifting was quite evident in her thick barrel chest, wide back, and huge arms.

We warmed up with some light deadlifts, about 135 pounds. Rebecca then loaded the bar up to about 185 and watched me ever so closely, and then gave me pointers on foot positioning, hand positioning, and the technical merits of a proper deadlift. She told me my form was good, and that I would be a great deadlifter. My long arms helped in the deadlift. We topped out at right around 300 for a few reps, so not bad for a light training day. Rebecca and I are right about the same height, 5 ' 9". Which is very tall for a powerlifter, particularly a female, as the levers are longer and in some lifts, not conducive to huge lifts because of the distance the weight/bar must travel. But, mind over matter, it does not matter if you have the will to do it!

All in all, we had a great workout and finished up with some pulls and rows. Rebecca attracted a lot of attention in the gym, and a few fans recognized her. She has elegant composure, and decorum, and is so sweet and kind to everyone. My friend, Al and I dropped her off with some of her friends that did a documentary on her, I believe it is entitled "Strongest Ever", and they are college students form Ithaca College, New York. They followed her lifestyle as an elite world class powerflifter for about two years.

I had a great time with Rebecca at the gym, and it felt more like playful fun rather than work, and she is a very patient coach. I could tell she has a natural grace and style to coach, and she truly enjoys it. She owns her own gym and personal training business in Omaha, Nebraska.

While we were filming in Albuquerque, we were supposed to have a volunteer "victim" for size comparisons, but he bailed out early (I thought he was too intimidated). I will be certain to secure him in the future, I promise you that; he will not escape me the next time. In his place, we recruited the desk manager, and tempted him to get into the video with us. Rebecca was ever so charming to persuade him, and he agreed! I applauded her for her charm and efforts. She was definitely on her "A" game! However, when we got to the nitty gritty of size comparisons, he balked on being in the video, and I will post a photo of our "trainee" in a subsequent post. He was very gracious to volunteer his body and appear in our video as the measurer of our biceps. In between takes, Rebecca coached him on how to increase his benchpress by performing some one arm tricep extensions with a dumbbell, and I saw how she was ever so diligent in helping him, much as she was with me in coaching me on my deadlift at Gold's in Venice Beach.

So, back to the featured photo of this post. I invited Rebecca to come out to my home in Albuquerque, New Mexico so we could do a little videoshoot, and perform on webcam at So, we shot a few hours on January 31, 2009, and got some decent footage. We will more than likely do some more work in the near future, as we would like to produce some entertaining DVDs of two big strong girls doing what we do best. At the moment, Rebecca is training to become a professional wrestler, so she told me that she is in pro wrestling school, and has her nose to the grindstone, learning all the moves and bumps. I truly admire her ability and aptitude to shift gears from a huge Amazon, Worlds Strongest Woman Ever, to pro wrestler. She makes her debut in a few more days, so I am excited to hear how she will do. I am really excited to see how she will lift men overhead and throw them around like ragdolls.

So, every time I go into the gym now, I think of Big Becca, the strongest girl ever on the planet, and I envision being as strong and as big as I can be. She truly is an inspiring woman, and what's more, is the fact that she has a heart of gold.

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