Follow the Strong


This picture, taken at the Portland Highland Games when I was about to unleash a world record taken by LV Camera Girl (Victoria Wechter) is my most favorite throwing picture of any of my throws.

About 6 years ago, I had a conversation with the wonderful man who helped revamp our tosabarbell logo. After writing a post on why strength matters for EVERYONE, he commented that he didn’t understand why he needed to be strong. If he could carry a bag of lawn seed out of his car, why did he have to be stronger than that. My reply was something along the lines of life doesn’t always allow you to plan on how strong you need to be.

And here we are. Life is demanding that we be strong. Strongest actually. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, another story. A few years ago my former (brief) community of Wichita Falls had horrible flooding. They basically went from record drought to mass wildfires, and then to devastating flooding. A friend from the gym, Gant Grimes, had shared a picture of himself pulling a trailer through the waters while he was helping others in his neighborhood. In fact, during the crisis as he was moving the family piano around to try to protect it from the rising waters his wife asked what people do who don’t have someone strong in their life.

They die. Obviously.


Another Portland Games picture from 2 years ago. We just really look good in Portland.

Okay, maybe they don’t die. But what we’re realizing right now, is that they actually do.

ONE more story, I promise this is the last one before I start lecturing. Today Matt and I ran to the grocery store to do our standard week of shopping. That means that everything in our cart was the same thing that is in our cart every Monday EXCEPT for 2 additional emergency pizza’s and one bag of Easter M&M’s. We like to have a pizza or two for emergencies in the house (usually drinking related;) and we ramped up in case we have the kids over. Other than that. Status quo. We still haven’t bought toilet paper because WE DON’T FUCKING NEED TOILET PAPER. Yet. We’re still good for a couple weeks since we bought the Costco case back in January. Good on us.

Anyways. We were tooling around the store and people have increased the amount of crazy that we’ve been seeing the last couple of weeks. First off, when I asked the deli workers if they’ll be making more chicken breast soon (they make grilled chicken breast that I buy about 6 pounds a week. It’s already cooked and all I have to do is weigh it and eat it. Lazy, yes but I don’t care) and the worker replied with, “I have no idea.” Ok, well since she didn’t know and I didn’t know, I thought it okay to ask her to perhaps ask someone who WILL know if they’ll be making more chicken breast with Italian seasoning. This prompted a terse conversation towards the back of their kitchen with another worker when they both started to scream (yes, scream), “WE HAVE NO IDEA WHEN WE’LL GET MORE CHICKEN! THERE’S A SHORTAGE! WE HAVE NO IDEA WHEN WE’LL GET RESTOCKED.”

Okay, while I appreciate their passion for letting me know so aggressively that I may be on my own for cooking up the chicken, I walked closer to them and calmly raised my hands about mid-height and said very quietly, “Calm down.” They started yelling again and I just said two more times, “Calm down.” We don’t need to panic the entire store that we may be in the great chicken shortage of all time (we’re not by the way) by screaming that there’s a shortage and now is the time to panic!!!

Fucking calm down. As we made our way through the store, there was an older gentlemen we ran into a couple of times who was clearly already health impaired but spirits were high and I tried to throw him a smile each time we passed him. At one point, I was hot stepping it for those M&M’s and another man almost hit me with his arm while he was screaming at this kids to stay 6′ away from people. My health impaired friend saw this happen and watched as I side stepped from the impending hand towards my face moving with significant momentum and said, “Whoa! Careful there!” to the arm guy. He then looked at me and said, “I like you. You’re awesome and smiley.” (Ya, that’s not something I hear often so it made an impact.) Heh.


Army Strong. In WWII, many church goers risked death by attending church each week. Now, our churches are closed. But our abortion clinics are open. Just one way the response of this virus is completely anti-American and complete bullshit.

I’ve watched this last week as gyms have shut down and I watched how quickly people I know got their home gyms up and running or at least are posting workouts they can do without equipment. See, that’s how strong people deal with this shit. The ability to stay strong is one of their first priorities. Why? Because we know that the opposite of strong is weak and weakness opens you up to dangers you had no idea were coming.

Mass shutdowns. A virus with seemingly devastating affects. Constitutional rights and civil liberties being trampled “for our own good.” Patience to deal with a potential chicken catastrophe. Ya know, shit that happens when our lives aren’t perfectly perfect.

I was joking with the cashier that the M&M’s were our only hoarding buy. Everything else was normal. She played along and said she doesn’t blame us and do I want a bodyguard to get out of the store with my candy safe and sound. I said, pointing to Matt, “Nahhhhh, I’ve got him.” Nuff said.

Some time ago, a man at Matt’s work who doesn’t lift with weights asked Matt why he thinks he should stay strong even though he isn’t competing at Strongman anymore.


Strongman pictures where Matt is average sized. Vilnius, Lithuania. He killed it!

Matt’s reply to these types of questions have never wavered, “I will stay as strong as possible in the event life throws shit my way I’m not prepared for. What will YOU do?” Again, nailed it! He’s also told people that if he and that person were to get a serious illness, Matt’s strength will enable him to fight it harder and faster. HEY! All you men who are in your 30’s who think it’s cool to weigh what you weighed in high school? Ya, you weren’t a grown man in high school. You are now and you’re too little to fight this thing and be worth a shit. (Of course unless you were a fat fuck in high school. Same thing applies.)

On that note. So far, and even with today’s completely incomplete and confusing statement by our Governor saying we are now a ‘stay at home’ state but with the current list of everyone who CAN stay open there is really zero difference in how things have gone the last week but because he came out with new words he’s caused new panic; one way we have been encouraged to help out our now depressed economy is to buy take out from local restaurants. So yes, we have done that. IN FACT, we have eaten out more in the last 10 days than a regular month for us. Basically, if we eat out we’re not at home or we’re celebrating something. Geebuz people! Y’all can’t eat take out every day or you’re not going to be able to fight this thing! Stop with the fucking takeout. If a business dies it’s very sad but it’s not worth your health!

Anyways. Back to strong.


Personally, I give no shits about cellulite. It’s like the shape of my toes, something I have zero control over. I do give many shits over the fact that my fucking left foot should be down and pushing against the ground. That’s super annoying.

Each and every strong friend we have checked in with is doing the exact same thing. They ARE social distancing as possible. They ARE continuing to eat (mostly) as if health and strength is a priority. They continue to train (as they can.) We are so very fortunate to have a full gym set up. In fact, I did enough kettlebell swings the other day that you could actually call it, hang on to your hats, cardio. Our friends, like us, refuse to live with fear but rather a rational respect for this virus.

But at the heart of each day, strength matters.

And this is my point of today, follow the strong. They are working to retain and even improve strength; do that too. There are things you can do RIGHT NOW to be stronger (no, running isn’t on the list.) There are heavy things in your house, lift them. There are chairs, start sitting and standing up as many times as possible. When you can’t, catch your breath and do another set. You can eat more protein than 30 grams a day, even chicken (but you may need to cook it yourself. Good luck.) Seek out your strong friends and ask them how to fight this shit, and then listen!

Follow the strong. Will it guarantee your safety? Nope. Nothing does. That’s the rub. Strong people may succumb to death, seriously. They might die. Of what, we don’t know. There is a high chance that a strong person will die at some point in time. But today? So far so good. I’ve just snatched higher than I have since last March and heavy pulls felt good. Yeah 53 year old me.

There are many unhealthy and weak people in our lives that we love. I’m sad for them. I am concerned for them. At the same time, it’s on them to stay weak. They have resources on how not to be weak, it’s up to them to decide that they need more strength than to carry some lawn seed from their cars to their lawns.



No, you don’t need to be strong enough to throw a 19 foot telephone pole thingy and turn it a perfect 12:00. But if you were, you’ve got a fighting chance!

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

Abraham Lincoln


About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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1 Response to Follow the Strong

  1. stef says:

    Was just starting to get worried about you. Glad to see this.

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