(Part 2 of Jim Steel’s Odyssey)
by Marty Gallagher
“The worst part about the whole bodybuilding experience is the diet, for sure. You are hungry all of the time; you are weak all of the time…I suddenly had no patience for anyone who didn’t have the dedication to lose weight. When someone tells you that they just can’t lose weight, and at that very moment you would kill for one spoonful of peanut butter, your sympathy for the less-dedicated goes right out the window.”
Jim Steel is the consummate fitness professional: he was a nationally ranked strength athlete and played football at the collegiate level. Jim is the strength and conditioning coach for the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and routinely oversees radical physical and performance transformations for those athletes smart enough and disciplined enough to invoke Steel’s ancient methods to the exacting degree he requires. It is the “exacting degree” part that is problematic for Mr. Steel. Jim is tortured in that he knows what works: he has engineered a radical physical transformation on himself and professionally he renovates college athletes on a routine basis. Steel knows that in order to improve the human body and improve human performance, the trainee needs to subject themselves to a series of grueling procedures in a multitude of interrelated areas, and do so for a protracted period of time.
The problematic part is the degree of commitment, disciplined effort and exactitude required to trigger true change. If the human body were easily moldable, we’d be a nation of perfect physical specimens. We are first and foremost, confused. In this day and age, ancient methods requiring great effort and disciplined precision are decidedly passé. We are urged by popular fitness experts to continually move forward, to embrace the newest and the latest, to forget that those déclassé Old School methods actually worked, and because they worked they survive. We live in an era of information overload. Trainees are rightfully confused about what to do in order to improve the shape and configuration of their bodies: we want more strength, endurance, vitality, power, grace, speed, stamina and agility. However, we would prefer to obtain perfection without sweating or exerting.
We suffer the curse of too many choices. With so many competing and confusing systems, with so many conflicting modes and methods, with so many weight loss strategies, with so many fitness devices and products being overly and outrageously hyped, with so many possibilities, it is damn near impossible for the sincere seeker to find the righteous pathway of pure progress. Where is that elusive super-system? Where is the golden needle of continual physical progress and improvement? It lies buried somewhere deep within a massive fitness haystack.
How can the sincere seeker find the right method, a method that delivers results? First we need to define results: what realistically should we expect in return for our continual fitness efforts? The right method is one that provides the user gains. We seek measurable improvement, we seek progress in all the related areas; we seek more muscle, less body fat, improved athletic performance. Many promise and few deliver.
Unfortunately for humanity, when it comes to favorably reconfiguring the body, excruciating physical effort is required – this is the only way the adaptive response is triggered. Those that deliver the stark message of excruciating effort, the ice cold truth – those that offer harsh remedies, men like Steel, the truth-tellers – are not popular within the larger fitness community, where product sales rule every move, motive and action. Steel is the dagger of truth and reality twisted deep in the flabby gut of madcap lie-your-ass-off-about-results product whores. The commercial product pushers consider Jim a fitness fundamentalist – and Steel might agree, ready, willing, and able to cast the fitness money-lenders from the holy Temple of Iron.
Jim Steel has had the “muscle and strength” building aspect of the fitness equation down pat for eons. For a strange series of strange reasons, he quite recently took a 63-day crash course in body composition modification, using his own body as the test lab. His results were stunning – and all the direct result of the implementation of a simplistic exercise and dietary game plan. Intense physical effort was melded with precision eating. Steel knows what works insofar as strength training: his expertise as an athlete and coach is beyond dispute: he has squatted 800+ pounds and deadlifted 750 in official competition. And Steel knows firsthand how to achieve a 5% bodyfat level. Steel now knows exactly how to lose a massive amount of fat in a ridiculously short timeframe. This is profound knowledge. We will now relate that knowledge to you, the nuts and bolts: how one man melted away decades of accumulated body fat, and did so in an amazingly short timeframe.
Does Jim Steel’s fat-burning approach have any relevance for John Q. and Mary J. Public? Probably not. The degree of discipline, depravation, and the lack of variety, the radically increased volume of exercise needed to spur rapid fat loss, would be beyond the mental and physical abilities of a regular civilian. On the other hand, the athlete serious about reducing his bodyfat percentage in order to improve athletic performance would be well advised to read carefully how real pros go about using state-of-the-art dietary tactics to whittle off bodyfat. This approach is not “new” or “revolutionary” or “state-of-the-art” – this dietary tactic has been used for decades by those in the know.
Jim relates some background info. “My father was a professor at the University of Maryland, and Rich Salke worked for my dad; this was way back in the 1980s. Rich went on to become one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s top bodybuilders. Rich got his Ph.D. and effortlessly morphed into the best personal trainer in Washington DC. Rich knows how to get fat off and has been doing it for his bodybuilding career and his clients for thirty years.” Under Dr. Rich Salke’s studied direction, Jim constructed the quick-trigger training/eating matrix he would use. Rich is a pro’s pro that has prepared a hundred + bodybuilders for competition.
“When I hatched this plan, I shared it with him. I got on Rich’s recommended diet immediately. On October 2nd 2012 I started.” Prepare to be underwhelmed: the proven process for melting off body fat that the old Master Rich created (and then oversaw) for Jim is maddeningly plain and repetitive…
“Rich had me eat two pounds of ground beef per day, divided up into four ½ pound servings eaten at four food meals. I ate three sweet potatoes per day. These were eaten during the first half of the day so I would have all day to work off the starch. Rich allowed me to eat as many fibrous vegetables, like broccoli, spinach, onions, green beans, salads, etc., as I wanted to eat. However, I had to steam these or eat them raw – I wasn’t allowed to sauté them in oil or fry them in oil, or douse them in butter or commercial salad dressing. I also drank one protein shake per day. It was a whopper containing 75 grams of protein. I drank that before I went to bed.”
September 19 Training Camp (Press & Bench Press) : Chicago, IL
September 18-20 Starting Strength Seminar : Brooklyn, NY
October 2-4 : Starting Strength Coaches Association Conference
October 16-18 Starting Strength Seminar : Seattle, WA
October 24 - 25 : Starting Strength Fall Classic
November 13-15 Starting Strength Seminar : Hampton, VA
December 3-6 : Bullets & Bourbon
December 11-13 Starting Strength Seminar : Wichita Falls, TX