Next time you need motivation at the gym, think of Ray Williams.

The 6-foot, 361-pound Williams is a junior college football coach from Demopolis, Alabama. Over the weekend at the Alabama State Powerlifting Championship, he broke the U.S. record in the men's raw 275-pounds-plus division by squatting 860 pounds. That's right, 860 pounds.

And it gets better. Williams also put up 905 pounds, but that attempt was disallowed because he took a small jab step during the lift. Williams was pretty disappointed with himself because he wanted to see if he could squat 1,000 pounds.

For those wondering how to build bulk and muscle like Williams, the answer is simple: Cornbread and buttermilk.

"I’ve always been a big dude," Williams told the website 70sbig. "And one thing my grandma brought us up on was cornbread, collard greens, good down-home southern food -- it's always been a staple of my diet."

Making Williams' feat all the more impressive was the fact that this was just his second powerlifting meet.

"I like it," Williams told of powerlifting. "Just the fact that no one can say I'm big for no reason. Now, I can put my bigness to use. Plus I've always been just naturally strong, and I can refine that through powerlifting."

You can see Williams' record-breaking squat in this video:

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Here's the 905-pound squat that was disallowed:

(H/T to BroBible)

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It looks like we've got a favorite for the weightlifting competitions at the 2032 Olympics.

A video of a 6-year-old boy doing some heavy lifting has begun making its rounds on the Internet, and this kid is no joke.

It's hard to tell how much he's lifting in this clip, but it's probably nearly his entire body weight (assuming he's 40-50 pounds).

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This kid better keep lifting, because even though what he's doing is extremely impressive, he's not lacking for competition.

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Most of us learned a fantastic fat-burning exercise back in 8th grade gym class. You know it as the squat thrust -- or maybe the burpee. Besides being great for torching calories, it's also convenient: You can do it almost anywhere. The bad news? Unless you're in the military, you've probably long since forgotten about it. (Want to be as fit as a soldier? Try The Army Workout -- your abs will never feel the same.)

What's more, you've probably never even seen the newest version of this exercise, which combines the traditional squat thrust with a power exercise called the dumbbell high pull. This duo will blast fat, improve your athletic performance, and light your muscles on fire.

Ready to try it? Watch the video to learn how to do the squat thrust and high pull combo with perfect form. You might just find it’s the best exercise you aren’t doing.

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(To make sure you know perfect form, check out The Men's Health Big Book of Exercises and The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises, where you'll find full-color photos of more than 500 exercises.)

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Anyone who has seen Star Wars knows that lightsaber fights can get pretty tiring.

They require both a solid understanding of how to use the sword and a high level of physical fitness. Luckily for San Francisco residents, they can obtain both of these things at a new lightsaber class offered in the city's South of Market district.

The class, taught by software engineer and lifelong Star Wars fan Alain Bloch, combines lightsaber choreography with some serious exercise. The class even begins with stretching and calisthenics so students don't injure themselves in the midst of a fight.

"I'm fat and nerdy and I need this," Frank Knight, a lightsaber student, told Wired.

People who first hear about the class might brush it off as a joke, but the students aren't messing around. The lightsabers, which have LEDs and handles made of aircraft-grade aluminum, can cost thousands of dollars.

"At first they giggle because they think it's a little silly," Julio Reyes, a student, said of the doubters. "Then they're like, actually that's kind of cool. Then they start asking more questions.'"

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Star Wars

Louisiana swelters in the summer. August is the most intense month, with enervating heat and humidity. Athletes treat admonitions to hydrate well the way we all viewed our mothers' stern warning to stay out of the water for an hour after eating -- with surface acquiescence and extreme skepticism. In dozens of cases in the past 30 years, athletes have died of dehydration.

Henry White was a 21-year-old junior basketball player getting ready for his first season at Grambling State University on Aug. 26, 2009, when he showed up for the earliest conditioning workouts. He spent a rigorous session weightlifting. He then was punished for showing up to campus late by being forced to run four and a half miles that a day in the heat and humidity of August in Louisiana. He collapsed upon finishing, and he died 12 days later.

An idealistic young attorney named Scott Chafin from Shreveport, Louisiana, called me a year ago to ask if I would be an expert witness in a lawsuit asking Grambling State for compensation for wrongful death. Henry had left a young son. My role would be to project what his earning curve would be had he lived and played professional basketball at any level, been involved in television commentary or worked in his field of criminal justice. I generally shy away from such testimony. There are many faults with the entire tort system; there should be a better way of compensating victims and punishing wrongdoers. But when the case is particularly worthy and makes a larger point about reform, I have agreed.

I testified as an expert for the wrongful death trial that involved my client Derrick Thomas, who later perished of injuries he sustained in an automobile accident when his car flipped over on an icy freeway. I testified for my friend Merlin Olsen, who died of cancer caused by exposure to mesothelioma. Each of those cases involved safety issues, and the chance for better prevention, as death from dehydration does.

Athletes at the professional, collegiate and high school levels train and work out every summer with a risk of dehydration. Signs of dehydration include fatigue, flushed skin, heat intolerance, light-headedness and dark colored urine. Fluid is lost and also chemicals like sodium and potassium. Too little or too much electrolytes like sodium and potassium in the body can cause trouble. Consumption of beverages containing electrolytes and carbohydrates can help sustain fluid-electrolyte balance and exercise performance. A loss of more than 2 percent of body weight can create an emergency.

Chafin faced a daunting task in trying to get compensation for mother Tiffany Williams and her son. The county of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, is very conservative, where jurors tend to look askance at large claims. In front of the county courthouse sits a massive statue honoring the generals who fought for the South in the Civil War, placed there by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The courtroom looked similar to the setting of John Grisham's novel and the movie made from it, "The Rainmaker."

Chafin argued passionately that Grambling State did not have adequate emergency procedures and trained personnel to deal with White on the campus after he collapsed. The first protocol would have dictated placing the collapsed athlete into an ice bath in one of the tubs present in the training room. Chafin was able to show the jury that with the proper procedures in place, White might have lived. The jury proved to be wise and compassionate and returned an award, which will allow his child a more promising future.

This is a critical issue that needs to be revisited at professional, collegiate and high school levels. The younger an athlete is, the more risk he or she faces. One death -- that of Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer -- should have been enough. Weekend warriors, runners, as well as younger athletes need to be prepared before play or practice for the dangers and able to avail themselves of proper emergency treatment if necessary. Williams vs. Board of Supervisors sends a clarion call to all sports organizations, athletes and parents to be aware of the risks of dehydration.

-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.

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Jeremy Frisch, owner and director of Achieve Performance Training in Clinton, Massachusetts, trains everyone from college football players to middle schoolers. (Want to train like a professional athlete? Then check out Warrior Cardio to build power, speed, and agility.)

As you'd expect, the college athletes are much, much stronger than the kids. But there's one exercise that the kids can do no problem, but the athletes struggle with: The crab foot reach. Watch the video below to see how it's done:

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"When I try to do it, it's so tough," Frisch admits. "But my 5-year-old son can do it easy. He’s so mobile and he has a free range of movement."

Most adults struggle with hip mobility and glute strength. Blame sitting all day, which leaves your hips tight and your glutes weaker than a frat party keg beer. The crab foot reach targets both, which is why it's such a challenge -- and why it's so important to do, since those weak points can limit your deadlift and squat.

If you can't do the crab foot reach as shown in the video, start by sitting on the ground with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the ground behind you. Grab your left foot with your right hand. While still holding your foot, raise your butt off the floor.

Think this exercise is challenging? Here's one that will annihilate your core: The Crunch That Works Every Muscle.

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By Drew Manning

Fitness trainer Drew Manning was the guy you love to hate. The guy who would rather drink a protein shake than indulge in a cheeseburger, the guy who made a six-pack look easy. Until he gained 75 pounds in half a year -- on purpose.

He stopped working out and started eating junk food. In just six months, he went from 193 pounds with a 34-inch waist to 265 pounds with a 48-inch waist.

In June, he gained public popularity with an appearance on "Good Morning America," where the audience learned that he not only gained all that weight in six months, but then lost it all in the same amount of time -- all so he'd empathize more with his clients.

Before his transformation, he "was convinced people used genetics or similar excuses as a crutch ... You either wanted to be healthy or you didn't," Manning wrote in his new book, Fit2Fat2Fit. Having to lose the weight he gained made him realize how hard it can really be for people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and lose weight.

Manning shared with AskMen Lessons what he learned through going from fit to fat and back again.

1. Losing Weight Is All About Your Mental State
Gaining 75 pounds in six months was not only more than I bargained for physically but opened up my eyes to how much my journey (and the journeys of everyone else trying lose weight) was psychological. Most of us know it's simple to lose weight -- just eat healthy and exercise -- but it's not easy. The mental and emotional challenges are tougher than we think. I was humbled going through this experience and I now better understand that it's more of a mental and emotional battle than anything else. So, yes, the meal plans and exercises are important, but if you can overcome the psychological hurdles (plateaus, lack of motivation, cravings, lack of confidence, etc.), that’s how you make it a lifestyle, rather than just another diet (which will never work long-term).

2. Losing Weight Is A Lifestyle, Not A Diet
Here in America we unfortunately have what I call the "Biggest Loser mentality," which is what we see on weight-loss shows or diet infomercials that show us ways to lose as much weight as possible as quickly as possible. This mindset is why we go on all these starvation or deprivation "diets." With a mentality that

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There are four coaches with stopwatches, one stationed every 30 feet along the 40-yard path. There is a guy with a video camera. There's a woman with a still camera and my camera man. There are two assistant coaches. There are 14 of the best NFL running back prospects in the country sitting on two benches. That makes 23 people watching. If I was running the 40-yard dash at the actual NFL Combine in Indianapolis, there might be 2,300.

I bury my right hand into the turf, stagger my feet and bring my left arm back and up behind my body as nearly every NFL prospect has done. I take a deep breath and try to visualize my sprint as I was taught, going through all of the motions we spent the last hour working on ... but my mind keeps wandering.

The Kansas City Chiefs aren't monitoring my results. Drew Rosenhaus isn't calculating my draft status. In fact, whether I rip it down the line for a personal best or I do the chicken dance for 40 yards, my time won't affect my salary one bit. And yet, the scrutiny of my peers (for the day) and the pressure to perform (pride) and the number of people analyzing my run have me taking the timed event seriously. I set out to sample a day in the life of a running back preparing for the 40 at the NFL Combine and this, even without a seven- or eight-figure contract hanging in the balance, is what it's like. I force myself to focus on each element of my start. Fire my arm. Drive my plant leg. Keep my chin down. Tighten my core. Run.

5.12 seconds later, it's over. I try to imagine how I'd feel knowing that I missed out on millions of dollars because I didn't run a 5.02. I can't.


It should take you about two-tenths of a second to read the word "tenth" in the phrase "tenth of a second." It's an almost imperceptible amount of time that can bolster or break a running back's draft position. Between the 40-yard dash, the three-cone drill, the 20-yard shuttle run and the 60-yard shuttle run, half of the events at the NFL Combine are measured using tenths and hundredths of a second in the results. With those numbers figuring heavily in a player's draft status, speed pays, and since the NFL is a billion-dollar business, speedy people are more than willing to find someone to train them to be speedier.

That someone for many current and future NFL players is Pete Bommarito, CEO and president of Bommarito Performance Systems (BPS). Bommarito has trained more than 500 NFL Draft prospects at every position and he is, as Mike James, a projected late-round draft pick out of Miami says, "the man you go to when you want to run fast."

It's barely 6:30 a.m. and Bommarito is setting up his electronic timing equipment for the 40-yard dash on the visitor's side of a football field. The sensors look like two mini-strobe lights sitting on tripods on opposite ends of a running lane. They're connected to a stopwatch the size of an old Sony Walkman that measures the results. Between checking and re-checking the connection, Bommarito explains how the process of preparing an athlete for the 40 begins.

"Everyone comes to us hurt," he says. "If you're not hurt, you're not playing college football. That's just a part of the sport. That's why we don't have guys throwing down 40 times on day one. After a long season and a bowl game, they all have deep bruises and scar tissue that needs to recover. The wear and tear on the joints is also hard. The hips, the spine, the shoulders, everything. You can greatly accelerate that healing process if you have the right medical care, but it's not just about making somebody faster. If I have enough time, I can make anyone faster. It's about getting someone to reach their genetic maximum in a short period of time, namely between their last game and the combine."

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Paul Theodore knew he could 30 pull-ups in a single set. He didn't know how many he could do in a single workout. But he learned the answer this past Saturday, when he pumped out 2,501 reps in a grueling 15-hour sweat session.

 It was an amazing feat by any standard, save one: Theodore fell short on his attempt to break the Guinness World Record of 4,020 pull-ups in 24 hours.

But his bigger goal was secure: Raising $25,000 for Zoë Watterson, a courageous 17-year-old competitive cheerleader who lives with cystic fibrosis. And that made this workout the most satisfying of Theodore's life.


Theodore -- who is 5-9 and 175 pounds -- had a simple strategy going in: He would do 6 repetitions every minute until he reached 1,000, and then drop to 5 reps every minute.

"I had originally thought I would get to 2,000 reps pretty quickly, in about 6 to 7 hours, and then battle it out from there," says Theodore, who is the owner of Fit Me Up, a youth and adult fitness company in Westlake, Ohio.

But that was before the problems began. At 800 reps, his hands began to blister. While he used gauze and athletic tape around the top of his palms to fix the issue, the onset of blisters caused an unexpected side effect: "They took my mind away from focusing on my nutrition," he says. "I didn't take my first bite of a granola bar until the 4-hour mark. At that point, I missed my window for properly refueling and there was no going back."

"Then came severe tightness in my left shoulder and right biceps," says Theodore. "The pain was so bad that it took me from 5 reps to 3 reps at the 1,500 mark."

At that point, Theodore took a 30-minute break to shower and recoup.

"Although I came back to my senses, my muscles never did. My biceps in both arms tightened up tremendously and never loosened up," he says. "I fought for the next 6 hours like this, but I realized at the 1,700 rep mark that I wasn’t going to break the record."


With the world record out of reach and his body shutting down, Theodore could have stopped. But he had a bigger purpose to keep going: Zoë.

Due to the effects of her disease, Zoë has to take 52 pills a day, and has only 50 percent lung capacity.

"Two years ago, Zoë was in the hospital for 5 months," says Theodore. "Her wish is to renovate the floor she lived in at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, for all the children that regularly stay there. She believes that a better environment will help other patients be happier, healthier, and recover faster." (All $25,000 raised from Theodore’s world record attempt will go toward making Zoë's dream come true.)

Like Theodore, Zoë found a purpose bigger than herself.

So what's your bigger purpose? It's a great question to ask yourself before your next workout, says Theodore. Or before you skip your next workout. Or before you stop early because you're "tired."

Just think about a person who can't exercise, he says. It could be a friend who's ill or injured, a family member who has passed, or someone you read about in the newspaper.

It’s called an "active prayer," and it’s about training for a deeper purpose, and remembering how special it is to be able to move.

"When you dedicate your effort to someone else, you find greater strength and motivation because of it, and you honor that person with your intention,” says Men's Health fitness expert David Jack, who cofounded ActivPrayer, and helped coach Theodore through his 15-hour pull-up workout. "It's no longer about you. It’s about something greater than yourself."

Try it, and you might just make every rep, every mile, every second of your workout more enjoyable and more extraordinary.

Which just leaves one question: Who are you dedicating today's workout to?

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In this continuing era of steroids and supplements, whether the story is about Alex Rodriguez or Lance Armstrong or Barry Bonds, it has become very easy to accuse almost any athlete of performance-enhancing drug use.

Last week, Mitch Ross and Christopher Key of Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.), brought a new batch of names under this dark cloud. It included Ray Lewis, Johnny Damon and Brett Favre, among others. But at his New Orleans press conference two days before Super Bowl XLVII, Ross tossed out a less prominent name: Steve Weatherford, the Giants punter.

Ross said Weatherford used "performance chips," which are tiny holographic patches worn on the skin at Chinese acupuncture points that supposedly help the body maintain and replenish its energy supply.

"I'd have to think the reason he used my name is because of my fitness level and how people view me as being a fitness freak," Weatherford says.

According to Weatherford, who threatened legal action for having his name dragged into the conversation, Ross has since apologized to him and said he will not mention the punter's name again.

Weatherford has been heralded in the past for what has been described as his "maniacal" workout routine. Around the time of last year's Super Bowl, Men's Fitness ran a story specifically on Weatherford's training regimen. He was also a track and field star at Illinois, finishing third in the heptathlon as a senior in the 2005 Big Ten Indoor Championships.

When Weatherford heard Ross mention his name, he was stunned.

"If you think about the people he named, they were Ray Lewis, a Hall of Famer, Brett Favre, a Hall of Famer, Terrell Owens, a Hall of Famer, and then he used my name," Weatherford says. "The only reason I think I deserve to be in that group is because I'm in really good shape."

Weatherford says he does not want the incident to be talked about any further. He says he has taken Ross' apology and does not want to "put fuel in the fire."

As Weatherford goes into his offseason workout mode, he has a bitter taste in his mouth. He feels his image was attacked with no evidence.

"It really bothered me because I work so hard to be a positive influence on people," he says. "The harder they work in life, the more they're able to achieve. That's something I really preach when I go speak to children, so that actually hurt my feelings and made me angry."

Weatherford is refocusing on his personal offseason workout routine. The Super Bowl XLVI champion has no time to waste if he wants to return to the big show.


Weatherford's 2013 offseason workout is divided into three parts. The first takes things slow:

"The first trimester will be lighter weights and explosive stuff to kind of get me back into good shape," he says. "I'm dealing with less machines than traditionally I use in the offseason. My workouts usually weren't geared toward machines, but this year I'm not using machines at all."

When the first third of Weatherford's offseason is over, he will start to crack down at the gym. As training camp nears, the maniacal side of Weatherford is unleashed.

"The second trimester will be a lot of really heavy lifting to build strength and explosion," he says. "The third will be a combination of both with a little bit more running to get my legs to where they have enough strength and stamina to be effective for 16 regular season games. That's what I found has been best for me because you can get as big and strong as you can possibly get, but if you're not able to sustain that for 25 weeks of the season, then it's all for nothing."

The anatomy of a football player has changed, and with that, the size of a punter. Although punters may be known for what they do with their feet, Weatherford insists it is important to be bulky, as well, in today's game.

"The punters nowadays are bigger than the linemen of the 1970s," he says. "The game has changed. The position has evolved. It's not the era of the kicker and the punter that can't make tackles and is not an athlete."

The importance of having an athletic punter was noticeable at last weekend's Super Bowl. Ravens punter Sam Koch executed one of the game's most critical plays in the fourth quarter when he roamed the end zone for an intentional safety. Koch slashed the game clock from 12 seconds to four seconds on the play. In the third quarter, Koch had a big hit to knock Ted Ginn Jr. out of bounds on a punt return.

Earlier in the game, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker attempted to run for a first down on a fake field goal. He was stopped a yard short, but Weatherford admires the Tucker's athleticism.

"He looked pretty fast," Weatherford says, "If he had another blocker, he would have gotten into the end zone. The game has changed since 20, 30, 40 years ago. The returners are obviously bigger, faster, stronger, but so are the punters."


While Weatherford engages in his offseason grind, he also is focusing on the non-football part of his life. The Crown Point, Indiana, native is especially vocal about his family and philanthropic time. He says he is busier now than he is at some points during the season.

"The offseason, right now, it's the time of year when I focus inward on myself and improving myself as a person, as a punter, as a father, as a philanthropist, as a leader and as a role model," he says. "It's time for me to be with my family and be a dad. Time for me to get out in the community and be a role model."

Last season, Weatherford celebrated his Super Bowl championship with a good will trip to Ghana. He helped build a school and a clean water well filtration system for a Ghanaian village.

He also brought 200 pairs of shoes and 200 New England Patriots Super Bowl Champions shirts to Ghana.

"The kids were walking around naked and barefoot on rocks, so that was an amazing experience," Weatherford says. "Even though those T-shirts were a waste, the kids didn't know any better and they loved it, so it was great to be able to help."

This offseason, Weatherford is keeping his focus in the tri-state New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area. He is working with individuals still struggling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and he also has a plan to spend time with children from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Teaming with the New York Yankees and Steiner Sports, Weatherford is planning a trip with some of the students to Yankee Stadium this spring.

"I think as far as finances are concerned, that area is not a place in need of people giving it money," he says. "To be able to reach them and help those children, it would be better to give them an experience and a fun day to take their mind off what they've been through."

Before baseball scene begins, Weatherford is fulfilled his sporting event needs with some of New York's other professional teams. He is frequently scene at basketball and hockey games in the city.

"I love New York," he says. "I love the fans, I love the people, I love the food. This is home. Going to those sporting events gives me a chance to get out in the community and meet the fans of this area. Rangers fans, Devil fans, Knicks fans and Nets fans are all football fans as well. Whether you're a Jets or Giants fans -- I played for the Jets. When Jets fans see me, they're happy to see me and obviously same for Giants fans. It gives me an opportunity to be in an intimate setting with them."

Weatherford could spend his offseason cooped away in his house, dodging fans and the media. Instead, he shows up in the most public of New York events and spends hours of his day maintaining his social media outlets on Twitter @weatherford5, Instagram @weatherford5 and Facebook.

"I love the fans, the season-ticket holders. I loved the kids," Weatherford says. "I have no problem missing ten minutes of a game with a group kids telling them how I got to where I am and what it takes to be a pro athlete and what it means to be a New York Giant."

Unfortunately in the current landscape of sports, that status also means dealing with the kind of accusations Mitch Ross and others are quick to make, even if, as Weatherford asserts, there is no basis behind the claim.

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