Functional Hand Strength

Functional Hand Strength

John Wood's Blog of hard training and unusual strength development



Is it the stairway to Heaven – Or the Stairway to Hell?

I left for college the day after Memorial day back in 1998. It was a Tuesday. After a 4 hour drive, I arrived in Ann Arbor at 3:15 in the afternoon. By 3:45, I was already warming up for my first workout as a Michigan football player.

At Michigan, they never waste an opportunity to improve.

It was real simple, run from the football building to the stadium. Then upon reaching the stadium, jog down the first set of steps, in front of the first row of seats and then sprint up the next set of steps.

We were supposed to go make it around the whole stadium like that but the trainers pulled me out at the 2/3rds mark. I could have made it, but they had orders not to let me pass out so I jogged (really hobbled) back to the football building for the remainder of the workout.

Running those steps was tough, as tough a thing as I had ever done but during the workout two days later, I made it all the way around with a little more gas left in the tank.

The View from the Top
There are 73 steps at Michigan Stadium which start out about 4 inches tall and get progressively taller and longer the higher up you go. You are roughly 3 stories above where you started when you hit the top.

That summer, we ran the steps at least once a week

On Tuesdays, we would jog over to the stadium and everyone would line up at the bottom of the steps in small groups of 8-10 guys.

The strength coach would blow the whistle and the first man would sprint up the steps, When the first man was half way up, the whistle would blow and the next man would go and so on and so on.

When we hit the top, we turned around to make our way back to the bottom where the process started again. It was a continuous cycle and we did this until every man ran up the steps 10 times,

The first day we did that, I made all 10, but my body locked up at the top and they had to take me back in a cart. - Not fun.

Every time we went to the stadium I did a little better. I dreaded every minute of it and so did the rest of the team… but we did it, and it made us Champions.

Four years ago I stopped playing football but these days I still go back to that stadium twice a week and the reason I keep going back is to run those steps.

A little crazy I know but let me tell you why.

You see, when I was a player, I hated running those steps because I knew how tired I would be afterwards. Nothing will screw you up more (in a good way) than running steps. Today, I go back there for that very reason.

When I go run those steps, I'm leaving my mark

My goal right now is to be able to sprint up and down those steps 10 times without even thinking twice about it.

Looking up - You want some of this?

Right now I can jog 7 flights (and have to walk the rest) which means I’m roughly six to ten weeks away from my goal. I have little doubt that I will get there but the fact that its 12 degrees and raining right now isn’t helping matters.

And when I reach that goal, I'll do 15, then 20 then I'll skip every other step then Ill jump rope for a minute between sprints – really it never has to end

But why, you ask?

All I can say is because its there, and because I have unfinished business with those steps. I want to see just how far I can take it.

Truth is, there is magic power in “a thing” – no one probably knows or even cares if you close the next gripper, or put 5 pounds on your bench press or do 50 pushups every day -- or run those damn stadium steps – but you care, and its important and meaningful to you, just to see if you can.

Ill be running those steps today -- wish me luck -- or on second thought don't bother, I won't need it

Whatever you do, however you train, stay the course, make it important
and make it happen...

Train hard,
John Wood

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