T Nation

Who Inspired You?


What a genuinely great thread topic and first post. No surprise that it’s drawn some excellent responses already.

Like others, I have a combination of “my dad” and some larger than life folks (in my case, football players & WSM competitors that I saw on reruns). I’ve also had two “lifting lives” so there’s a second layer to this for me.

My dad and his best friend were casually into Masters powerlifting in their 40’s. I was already into football and wrestling so naturally I started lifting with them (on and off at first around ages 10-11, for good at age 12) and we did a couple meets.

As I’ve mentioned in my log, I took awhile to fuck around with endurance sports from age 22-28 or so.

The WSM events remained a lingering fascination and once I came back to strength training at 28, I found myself gravitating toward the exploits of Shaw, Bjornsson, as well as some folks here like flip, Punisher and Alpha.

Another one: CrossFit athletes. When I got back into lifting, I was working out in a CrossFit gym (not taking the classes, just in open gym - place was more welcoming to doing squats and deadlifts than the commercial gym I started going to first). But I got into watching the CrossFit games videos on YouTube and was impressed by the athletes. That also was an inspiration to my wife as she got into barbell training - like many women, I think she was afraid that weightlifting would make her feel less feminine, but seeing athletes like Katrin Davidsdottir helped her get over that.


A big inspiration to me was Franco Columbo. I think other legends from his era have fantastic physiques, like Arnold and Frank Zane, but there’s just some about Franco that’s really inspiring to me. He just seems…“solid” for lack of a better term. Some great pictures out there of him deadlifting that really makes you want to get stronger.


Another big one is just this one single picture of Roger Estep deadlifting:


The deadlift, and any type of pull, are definitely my favorite lifts, and seeing these guys lift really inspires me.

And while I grew up in the 00’s, I was raised on 80’s media, and and Stallone is definitely at the top of the list. Spent a period of time when I was 14 drinking eggs then going for a run after watching Rocky for the first time, and when my uncle showed me Blood Sport for the first time, I discovered Van Damme and found his physique extremely impressive. As well as the fact that he could do the splits. Has anyone seen that Volvo Trucks commerical with him?

And another one to add is my dad - overall he doesn’t have a super muscular body but he’s been a bricklayer for almost 20 years and I hope my forearms are as big as his someday.


My Sunday School teacher, oddly enough. He wanted to get back in shape after kicking drugs (religious conversion was how he gave them up) and invited me to be his work out partner. After a few years of martial arts, I had realized that I would never be one of those really quick, thin guys so decided to play to my genetic pre-disposition and agreed to his offer.


This is how many disturbing stories begin…


Yeah watched that a bit earlier and just showed my girlfriend. Really nice video.


Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. Still one of my favorite comedies of all time.

Seriously, don’t tell me this isn’t funny as hell.

Then there was a picture of Arnold in my old gym that the owner cut out from a magazine and pasted on the wall.


It was always Serge Nubret for me. Great symmetry, full muscle bellies and a small waist.


Does anyone care for Bruno Samartino’s physique? Probably not my thing but its growing on me in my older years. I reckon I can frighten the kids better this look…


As a chubby man with a small penis it’s nice to see a realistic goal for me.


Yeah Bruno was strong as hell in his prime credited with a 560 bench and to be honest i probably resemble that build anymore as I have gotten older


I feel young as fuck here now.

When I first started lifting it was those bodyweight/calisthenics guys who were jacked as fuck probably from the drugs lol

Then it was the dime a dozen “physique” guys.

Nowadays while I still admire those crazy v tapers and aesthetics I am inspired by all kinds of powerlifters.


I remember when I first got into lifting, thinking that I was going to look like Chris Benoit after a years training. What the fuck was I thinking :joy::joy:


Shotgun response time

@Yogi1 it is weird how much of the culture revolved around both being big and strong and beating people up a lot. Along with wanting to be big and strong, I also pursued martial arts for the very same reason: I wanted to be JUST like these dudes. When I hit 21, I had to make the decision about which was more important, as my time was becoming more valuable, and ultimately I settled on lifting. I’m glad I did, but I still miss fighting.

@flipcollar The X-men were huge for that too! Strong Guy is a lesser known but still awesome character. Always liked Colossus on the X-men team, because even without powers he was jacked, haha. Big Juggernuat fan too. Never so much cared for the Hulk: I think it was the mindlessness that turned me off.

American gladiators was classic too. I still watch the reruns.

@mr.v3lv3t DBZ definitely inspired some bad decisions on my end, haha. Lots of time with ankle/wrist weights.

@ActivitiesGuy Glad you appreciated the topic. For strongman, the 03-08 era definitely grabbed my attention more than anything else. Right now is a great era as far as human accomplishment goes, but I was a much bigger fan of Mariusz, Kevin Nee, Jon Andersen, Derek Poundstone and the like. Still big and strong dudes, but closer to lean.

@jshaving I remember that Rippetoe had used that Estep photo so much that some people thought it actually WAS a photo of Mark. Lot of disappointed Starting Strength fanboys from that, haha.


Arnold and Ronnie in lifting.

Watched a shit ton of martial arts movies, so Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Tony Jaa, Jet Li.

And Kaz, nuff said.

But yeah, DBZ cannot be overlooked. I wanted so badly to simulate a high gravity chamber. It never went well.


This OG


I’d definitely train in the hyperbaric time chamber too.


Like most of you, my dad was a huge one for me. He’s a mechanic so he always had a big frame, but was and is still strong as hell. One of the craziest things I remember him doing was when I was in high school I asked him how to get big forearms like him and he gave me a pair of vice grips. He told me when I close them all the way tightened, my forearms would be big too. I literally thought it was imposssible so I told him there was no way just to have him close it effortlessly, give it back to me and have me open this spring loaded death trap and never close them again.

Another one was this contractor I met while working plumbing and septic with my grandfather. He has one of the most insane handshakes I had ever encountered. Literally almost broke my hand just shaking it. Afterwards I hop in the truck with my grandfather rubbing my right hand with my left. He looks at me and says “He hurt your hand, huh?” I replied yeah to him just to have him say “Yeah, he’s left handed.” Shit still boggles my mind to this day.

As far as others, it would be Bill Goldberg, Mariusz Pudz, Frank McGrath, Wolverine, Venom, Macho Man Randy Savage(all those old school wrestling guys honestly), Kaz, Machoke and Machamp from Pokémon, Sean Sherk, Ronnie Coleman, etc. I could probably go on forever about the people that inspired me honestly. I just always wanted to be massive and strong.

Also, to those who said Samartino, I agree as well. The older I’ve gotten, the less I want the shredded look and the more I just want to be fucking massive. It’d be cool to be shredded, don’t get me wrong, but being a mass monster whose strong as hell just appeals to me so much more now. Plus, I like to eat way too much now to be ripped again so there’s that.


Wanted to add too that Jeep Swenson was one of the first guys I ever saw and was like “Fuck, that looks awesome” when I was a kid.

Tom hardy will never have anything on the colosal monster Swenson was as Bane.


Jeep was also in the Adam Sandler movie “Bulletproof”. Very small role, but a very big human.


Wolverine (do you mean Hugh Jackman’s portrayal?), has been a big one of mine throughout my teenage years. Feel like it’s similar to when Stallone played Rocky - every movie the physique seemed to get better.