Thursday, January 14, 2010

Waiting for Godunk: Bigger, Stronger, Faster

I was driving home listening to my Philadelphia sports radio station 610 WIP, as I do religiously everyday, and I heard the reports that Mark McGwire admitted to taking steroids. The first thought that went through my mind was “No Sh*t.” I am an enormous baseball fan and when I see guys put up over seventy home runs I can’t help questioning their workout routines. The entire steroid issue is one that has annoyed me from the start. Coming from a guy who has worked so hard to fight genetics and become strong enough to compete on a professional level, I am truly bothered by it.

Steroids and baseball have been synonymous throughout my playing career, but I am sure that it might be fairly common in my sport as well. I have played against a few guys that I definitely questioned how they became so strong, fast, and athletic so quickly. In a game where athleticism seems to be favored more than intelligence (I’m the latter.), a guy who is suddenly blessed with these traits might stand to make a lot of money.

For me, steroids never really crossed my mind. Mainly because I am seven feet and don’t know if my heart could take it. I would much rather go through life skinny with working genitalia, than be huge and dead. Although, looking back on my career now, I sometimes wonder if I had taken it when I was in the D-League…and not died, could I have made it to the NBA? If I was bigger and stronger than Reggie Evans, could I have made him my bitch as opposed to the other way around? Regardless, I am happy with doing it the old fashioned way.

I would be lying if I said I never had any help bulking up. I have been trying different supplements for a few years, figuring out the right fit. (Don’t worry, I am always reading labels looking for banned substances considering I go to the same Vitamin Shoppe that got JC Romero suspended for fifty games.) My first experience with supplements came in high school. I came home from school and saw my brother drinking a chocolate protein shake. He explained to me how the protein makes you stronger. That and the fact that it looked like a milkshake sold me. Unfortunately back then, my brother was a little possessive about his things, so I was told I could not try it. That night I crept downstairs to taste it for myself.

Now during this time my brother was significantly taller than me. He grew steadily throughout his childhood, while I developed in a more choppy way. We recently watched a home movie of us growing up and had it not been for my brother’s girly prepubescent voice, I would have assumed he was my dad. Anyway, the reason I mention this is because my brother used to hide things from me on top of the cabinets. So when I reached up to grab the protein I ended up knocking over the entire tub. Only when I flipped on the kitchen light did I see the extent of the mess I had just made.

Protein dust was scattered all over the floor and counters. Knowing that this would surely lead to an ass-kicking I began sweeping up the evidence. When I took a sample out for me to taste I noticed over half the container was empty. I decided to do what any other frightened little brother would do. I swept the floor protein back into the canister. With the evidence of my crime cleaned up, I was all set to try my first ever protein shake. It was not what I was expecting. It tasted like what I imagine paper would taste like in its liquid form. I quickly spit it out, dumped the rest and went back to bed not as strong as I had hoped for.

In college I finally decided it was time to put on weight. I’m not sure if it had to do with my weakness on the court, or the bird chest I was showing off to anyone who wandered in the gym during a pick up shirts versus skins game. Regardless I went to GNC to figure out a way to find some of these muscles I heard so much about.

I started off with some creatine. I would have to “load it” into my system with a cramp inducing four daily doses. I wish someone told me that protein builds muscle back then, might have sped up the process. I kept at this routine till I started working out with a former pro basketball player. He told me about a new protein that tasted great and worked well called Muscle Milk. I started taking that as well as some whey protein and the muscles started growing.

The biggest problem I have during the season is weight loss. Most athletes can go through a season and only lose a few pounds. I on the other hand lose drastic amounts of weight. Even when I am eating right I still walk away at the end of the season at least 25 pounds lighter. It wasn’t till I got to New Zealand and met my trainer Gavin, that I found the way to keep weight on. Gavin was a former British military man, who now is a physical therapist, but in my opinion should be a strength coach. I learned so much from him about keeping muscle on. I also participated in my first “300 Workout” with Gavin and Nick Horvath. The 300 Workout is a workout made famous by the men who trained the actors in the movie 300.

I am now hoping to play again in the New Zealand NBL in hopes of reuniting with Gavin and Nick and finding some new insane workout routines. Hopefully between my agent and I calling around New Zealand we can make it happen. It was by far the most beautiful place I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

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Dan McGowan said...

Really enjoyed this post. Took me back to my high school days when I first started lifting. Totally hated that loading up process as well.

Best of luck,


fAthom said...

I live in Wellington, Gavin was my physio when I played basketball in some NZ Junior National Teams. Got to say he knows what he's doing.