T Nation

Who Inspired You?

In light of so many topics about how social media, movies, the internet, etc have been setting up “dangerous and unrealistic” expectations out of trainees, I’m curious as to who inspired YOU to lift. It’d be interesting to see who people drew inspiration from and, in turn, where they went with it. I theorize that MANY people here were inspired by people that were enhanced or downright impossible to ever achieve and still did great things through that inspiration.

I’d say my two biggest real world inspirations were Arnold and Hulk Hogan. In saying that, I’m giving away my age, but if you grew up in the 80s and 90s, Arnold was the greatest action star ever, and Hulk Hogan was definitely the strongest and baddest man on the planet. I was inundated with these images since before I can remember, and from that I knew I always wanted to be big and strong. And yeah, both guys clearly enhanced.

But if you want to talk REAL enhancement, my other 2 big inspirations were this guy

and this guy


Better seen here


I watched Popeye cartoons religiously as a kid, and even begged my parents to buy some canned spinach for dinners, convinced it would get me to be strong like him. There was nothing more cathartic than watching Popeye down the spinach and take out Bluto. And for folks not fluent in 90s arcade games, that jumble of pixels is Mayor Mike Haggar of Final Fight. You have no idea how much I lost my mind when I found out you could play as him in the game. Normally, in video games, you’re always an average sized if not slightly muscular dude that has to take on people much bigger than yourself. When I saw you could play as some 300lb monster, I was like “why would you possibly pick anyone else?”

Drawing from these inspirations, real and fake, both enhanced in different ways, I sought out to get big and strong. I’ve never used anything illegal to enhance myself, and yes, I’ve never reached their levels, but I’ve never been upset about that. I’m still as big and strong as I can be at this moment, and I wouldn’t trade that time or effort away for anything else.

What about you?


Yeah, similar age to you and those were the cats, for sure.

When I was a kid everybody cool was jacked. Like, everybody. All the coolest film stars like Arnie, Stallone, Dolph, Van Damme, etc. were all fucking stacked; all the cartoons I watched like He-Man, every superhero, even the ninja turtles were rocking some serious musculature.

And, yeah, computer games for sure. Streetfighter II, Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, etc., were all dudes who didn’t need no clavicle lengthening surgery, that’s for sure.

But it was never about beating people up, ever. I realise that all of those examples are basically dudes who kicked ass for a living, but I never once wanted to be big and jacked so I could go around kicking the shit out of people. On-screen violence is the best thing ever, but I’ve never been a fan of it in the real world. Having big muscles is just cool.

And It’s hard to say even why it’s cool, to be honest. I have a friend who’s like 6’ 4" and naturally built like a brick shithouse. I have no doubt he could be benching 3 plates and probably overhead pressing 2 without having ever trained for it. I tried to convince him to come with me to the gym like “mate, with your genetics you could get massive,” to which his response was “yeah but what good would that do me?”

It’s like trying to convince someone a song you like is good when they don’t like it. There’s just no way you can convince someone to change their mind about something like that.

So here at age 33 I have not achieved a physique like the dudes I have described, and I know that’s because of my genetics. I recently made the choice that instead of dipping my toes into the steroids water occasionally in the hope that’d be enough, I am now going to fully embrace steroid culture (although still using what is, in my mind, sensible doses and drugs, such as they are) in order to do so. I could have cried and bewailed my lot about the unattainable physiques, and even now I’m a full-time drug user I know that I don’t have the genetics (and am unwilling to push the drugs far enough) to ever look like Arnold, but I can sure as hell look fucking dynamite and exactly how I want to. It’s a pretty exciting thought.


I didn’t know it at the time, but he became my workout partner and best friend. I was in college, married and wasn’t in the greatest shape by any means. Pretty heavy drinking issues and I was taking a class with this guy. We had to the whole “team” thing and I stopped by his apartment one day to pick some work from him. He was outside by his pool and the MF had the thinnest skin I’v ever seen. He was vascular AF, deep separations, the whole thing and at the time, he was 36 years old. A full 9 years older than me and looked 100 times better.

I finally got around to actually joining a gym that he recommended and while working out in FULL NEWBIE MODE he walked up to me and said “man, you’re just flailing around”. He killed my ego but I swallowed my pride I asked for his help and we started training together and worked out as partners for the next 4 years. We graduated with our Masters together and became lifelong friends seeing each other as often as possible, working out when we did get to visit.

He died of colon cancer on 2014. He saved my life and I will never forget it.


Typical child of the 80’s, I was heavily influenced by movies, pop culture, and comic books.

Bruce Lee

I could also mention my old buddy Scott, who was a few years older than I was in college, and took me under his wing in the gym. He was pretty built, but also crazy smart, always cool and confident with women, and just seemed to be the type of person anyone would want for their big brother.


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IRL: my dad and grandpa. Both of them were part time farmers and full time riverboat captains. They always pitched in when the deckhands needed help. It takes some real strength to throw a lock line over to the next barge. My dad hasn’t been to the gym since college and is still strong as hell. He pulled a 230lb man overboard out of the water two months ago with one arm. That’s like a 4ft deficit deadlift. Pulled a muscle in his back doing it, but saved the guy. Neither of them were aesthetic really. Just barrel chested with gigantic forearms.

When I was little the first jacked people I saw in person were working security at a Styx concert. I didn’t know real humans could actually look like that. Did double the pushups the next few weeks haha.

Popular culture: Arnold, Stalone, van dame, NFL players, Kurt Angle (he came to our wrestling camp back when he was an Olympic wrestler).


That’s a hell of a question.

Ed Coan for me. I knew about Arnie and Sly and all those guys growing up but I never made the connection to wanting to be big and jacked. I was more concerned with wanting to not be fat, except I did nothing about it until I was in my mid 20s. When I finally meandered my way into strength sports Ed’s name kept popping up and the more I found out about him, somehow he just embodies it all.


I use to not want to work out at all. In HS I liked to play sports, but I HATED lifting in the gym. But a funny thing happened in college. I realized that for my health I’d have to lift. It’s not HS or childhood where I can just run around all the time. Now I have to make a dedicated effort to stay healthy and strong as I can both physically and mentally.

One day when looking at workout programs I discovered Olympic weightlifting.

I saw videos of Klokov, Ilyin, Ehab, etc. I was like I want to look like some of these guys!

Some of these guys didn’t look like they were really even super strong, but were squatting over 500lbs like butter. I’ve never been an attention seeker. I want to be the producer while others want to be the artist. So when it came to my body I viewed it the same way. I want to be athletic and strong (numbers quantify those qualities), but I didn’t really care for my size or “aesthetics”. I figured if I can get to these following numbers eventually:

C&J - 315x2
Snatch - 275x2
Back Squat - 500x3
Front Squat - 405x3
Deadlift - 500x5
Bench Press - 315x10
OH Press - 225x10
1 Mile - 6 minutes or less

I would look exactly how I want to look!

I’ve always been a contrarian so idk what this says about me lol.


I had a few physiques that I always thought were like “wow that’s insane” but growing up, 2 things I loved was rugby league and WWF
I idolized two people in those retrospective sports, rugby was a guy by the name of Gorden Tallis, and in wwe, it was the undertaker

Taker, only because I grew up in the late attitude era when the American badass theme was in full swing. Here’s this 6’10 340pound biker covered in tats, dwarfing everyone else kicking ass. I remember getting a deadman.inc tall tee a few years back, best present ever.

And Gorden Tallis, his nickname was the raging bull. It was like a switch flicked then the ref’s whistle blew, untamed aggression and an unrelenting fear to hurt as many people as he can
my first league game I ever went too was a series we have down here in Australia called “state of origin” and I was a mad Broncos and Queensland fan, teams that Tallis had played for.
Anyway, the opposing teams player was running across field trying to find a break, all of a sudden Tallis comes running across and grabs him, literally manhandling him and drags him 20m across field and into touch
As a young kid, I’m just sitting there in awe at the presence of this bloke


Love this topic.

Arnold is definitely numero uno for me. The first thing I ever read that had anything to do with weightlifting was his Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding. It never mattered that his physique was unachievable. It was still what I wanted to work towards. I never really wanted ‘achievable’ to be my goal. I think I’ve succeeded in what I do largely because I’ve always set my sights higher than what I believed was possible.

Haggar is a fucking great one. I was all about that game, and him in particular. I always liked the strong, huge heroes. Beast was my favorite X-Man. I loved the Hulk. Strong Guy from X Factor was always a favorite. Juggernaut. Even Venom. I was in love with brute force.

Not a particular name, but World’s Strongest Man was one of my favorite things to see on TV as a kid. And American Gladiators. I watched Gladiators every morning at 10am through a few summers.

I also loved WWF (never got into WCW). Ultimate Warrior was my first favorite wrestler. Later on, I really liked the Steiner Bros… When I first saw Lex Luger, I thought ‘how could anyone ever beat this guy?? He’s the strongest guy in the world AND he has a metal plate in his forearm!!!’

Favorite moment in Hulk Hogan’s career was him bodyslamming Andre the Giant. Man, that was cool. I also really liked his match against Yokozuna, which ended controversially with a flash going off in Hogan’s face and me screaming ‘that’s not fair Yokozuna CHEATED!!’

The guys who inspire me right now are a bunch of middleweight strongmen… lol. So that gets into the weeds a little bit. But I follow guys like Terry Rady and Anthony Fuhrman closely. Those are the more realistic inspirations I have in my life today.


Irl- my dad. He wasn’t big but very athletic and was always doing crazy stuff like tree and cliff diving when we’d go camping and stuff. A couple of my cousins were also huge. One was a local amateur bb’r and the other was a college football player. Another cousin was in and out of prison for a good while and he was also pretty big and ripped and generally pretty much a bad ass mo fo.

All of my wrestling coaches. They provided a lot of structure and encouragement, and seemed keep getting bigger and badder between elementary, middle, and high school.

Tv- Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, all of the old pro wrestlers, and of course Bruce Lee.

I should add my kiddo. He’s a little squirt but I’m inspired by him to keep pushing and change things up a little. The dude has a lot of energy and loves to get out to run, hike, ride bikes, etc.



Preventing preventable diseases at first. Once I realized 33 isn’t too old to get strong as shit my inner 80’s child took over.


Most of my inspiration came from pro athletes, football players in particular.

I also grew up on the action movies of the 90s and early 00s. I distinctly remember 1 moment from pro-wrestling when Bill Goldberg and Hulk Hogan interlocked hands in a sort of power struggle, and when Goldberg won I thought he was the most bad ass dude ever.

I was a huge DBZ fan as a kid too, and those characters are hilariously ripped up.

Now, I’d have to say Alphas YouTube channel is my biggest source of inspiration. Especially when he puts out videos of the adaptive athletes, really puts things into perspective.


Damn… had too think hard on that to narrow the list down. Here are few of the top ones and I would be very surprised if anyone could name them all.



Ivan Putski! Polish Power!


Me and him have a similar body type short legs and long torso

That dude was pretty yoked. No way I’d want him putting me in a head lock and noogying my face.

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I thought he was a major bad ass as a kid.

I’m going to make a goose of myself here.

I love Arnie movies, I lived Van Damme movies but it never clicked that they were big guys but I remember seeing the red hot chili peppers and thinking those guys are hyoooooge ahaha

Also Rambo 3 literally blew my mind. I couldn’t believe the backshot below. That he was that big and lean (despite literally watching movies with bigger leaner guys right before that movie)



Man did you see the one he put up recently with the guy with cerebral palsy at the powerlifting meet? I teared up.

Back on topic, 100% Frank McGrath. I remember seeing his black and white pictures and videos on animal and the whole vibe of no nonsense hard work and apathy that I thought was so cool and trying to emulate that. It was actually all of the animal sponsored athletes but there was something about Frank (probably his massive forearms) that made me be like I want to look like that dude.


My cousin- Marine Recon and later MARSOC, 6’4 probably 250-260. Growing up, he was my hero, and the closest thing to superman I had ever seen. When I was a kid, he was the strongest man in the world. For what it’s worth, now he is a little older, working with SWAT, and hit a 385 bench a few weeks ago, so I still say he is pretty damn strong.

John Cena- I watched hours of monday night wrestling just to see him come out and brawl. Loved him as a kid, and even now I am a big fan.

Sylvester Stallone- You cant watch rocky and tell me that you don’t feel a desire to drink raw eggs and fight Russian juggernauts.

Arnold- Enough said