Long before Metroflex LBC, I was fresh out of college and training in the garage at my parents’ home. My buddies and I would sit around the barbell and cook up the craziest challenges we could think of—real gut-check workouts. And like you’d expect from the competitive A-holes we were, every challenge included an extreme amount of trash-talk from our entire group.
Equipment was basic. With little money and space, I owned only what was necessary: squat rack, barbell, bumper plates, sled, kettlebell, and a sandbag. The variety of movements we could perform with that gear combined with sprinting up the giant hill by the house and swimming in a nearby pool was more than enough to get the job done. Looking back now, the lack of equipment forced me to be extra creative.
It was always entertaining to invite over friends who normally worked out at a corporate gym and slapping them in the face with the reality of real hardcore training. The invitation to train in the garage spread to a friend of mine. A bodybuilder. Although we knew that bodybuilders adhere to a certain style of training that may not necessarily prepare them for high-intensity interval training, we wanted to give this guy an ass-kicking he wouldn’t forget. Of course, this was assuming we could convince him to attempt the workout in the first place.
The ploy was to lure him into the workout with simple movement patterns, basically the primary functional lifts you would see in powerlifting, except the bench press was replaced with an overhead press. (We didn’t own a bench, and also, I think the overhead press is far more functional.) Movements were kept relatively heavy but light enough to justify a bit of volume: 20 reps per lift. Blended in between these three lifts was a 50-meter Prowler push with 245 pounds on the sled.
It seems simple enough, right? Well, this workout is a bit more complex than how it looks on paper. Each of the three main lifts require a significant amount of oxygen in order to complete them. The Prowler sucks up oxygen like a house fire, leaving the athlete with little energy to exert on the subsequent lift. Similarly, each lift requires a ton of muscle exertion, especially at the given weight. Sprinting with the Prowler, however, is a movement that exhausts muscles and builds up lactic acid, making heavy lifting difficult. Basically, the Prowler pushes would inhibit weightlifting, and the weightlifting would make the Prowler sprints almost impossible.
Before we even tried this workout, we knew that we had something special. It’s basically a test of overall work capacity, a combination of redline weights and cardio. With the simplicity of the movements, and the complexity of the metabolic systems in place, we knew it was going to be killer. And sure enough, upon completing this massacre of a workout, we agreed that it is a game-changer. We dubbed it “The Fat Eddie,” which was my nickname in high school. (The name was pretty accurate my freshman year, but by the time I became a senior it had become a statement of irony.)
Work capacity is one of those attributes that just about every athlete could use more of: Even the most anaerobic strength athletes can benefit from some cardio. Increased blood flow means oxygen is carried through the body easier. Additionally, increased blood flow means faster recovery, as nutrients are able to distribute across the body more effectively. By the same token, cardio-intensive athletes can benefit from more functional strength. Even marathon runners need the force production that muscle provides.
Therefore, in the interest of being the most balanced athlete possible, why not test both strength and conditioning all at the same time? And that’s what The Fat Eddie did so well. Painfully well.
One by one we put ourselves through this hellish workout, and one by one we found ourselves completely demolished. Waiting for my turn, watching everyone fall to the ground in agony, made me feel like I was a cow entering a slaughterhouse. And sure enough, when it was my time to throw everything I had at Fat Eddie, I brought myself to hell and back and ended up wincing in pain and gasping for air, just like the rest of guys. It was glorious. (I had the fastest time that day, at 14 minutes.)
When our bodybuilder friend started, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. He came out strong in the beginning, smashing all 20 squats and the Prowler push, but the Prowler ripped apart his lungs, and before he even hit his third deadlift, he ran around the corner of the house and puked his guts out. To his credit, he wiped his mouth and went right back to the deadlifts. But his hamstrings were fried, from both the squats and Prowler. And with each deadlift he squeezed through one by one, his hamstrings became even more and more fatigued. I knew he could deadlift damn near 550 pounds and was definitely able to squat 315 pounds for 20 reps, so it was surprising to see such a dramatic crash and burn. It took him almost 10 minutes to complete all 20 deadlfts, and as he limped to the Prowler for the second of three pushes, it took everything he had to just get the damn thing moving. The Fat Eddie took him over 25 minutes and told him that his training had some serious flaws in it.
Along with a severe case of DOMS the following day, The Fat Eddie provided me with an eye-opening revelation to the flaws of corporate gyms and how poorly they delivered on the promises they made to their members. This is one of my favorite training memories, but I knew it never would have happened at a commercial gym. They simply wouldn’t allow this type of workout. So with that spark of inspiration, I decided to take it upon myself and open a facility that was conducive to the Fat Eddie.
I like to think the Fat Eddie inspired the conception of Metroflex LBC. The gym was built upon principles that athletes should be able to train hard and with a purpose—from bodybuilders, powerlifters, fighters, functional athletes, and anyone else seeking elite hardcore training. Friends should be able to rage workouts like the Fat Eddie together and experience the same camaraderie, humor, and bonding I shared with my garage buddies. You can’t find that in a corporate gym.
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