This month we interview 325lbs of pro strongman veteran Jim
Glassman. I first saw Jim on TV when he tore his pec at the
World's Strongest Man Super Series (WSMSS) on Venice beach.
Huge, bald, with a goatee and a huge log on his shoulders he
was the image most of us envision when we hear the words “strongman”.
Unfortunately Jim had to withdraw due to the injury but he had
definitely left an impression! After that I started reading
all of Jim’s posts and realized he had a lot of valuable
info. Travis Ortmayer, elite proffessional and an amazing strongman,
credits Jim with showing him the ropes. Since you can’t
get a much better endorsement than that I thought I’d
pick his brain a bit for the benefit of the members at the Marunde-Muscle
Could you tell us a little about yourself:
A. I’m married to my wife of ten
years Heather; we have a 19mo daughter Hayden. I have a degree
in Economics from The Ohio State University. I currently am
the VP of a consulting firm that specializes in Business Intelligence
and Data Warehousing.
Weight: Currently 325, been as high 345
(which is what I was in Tulsa this year) and that was too big.
Years training: 14
Years doing Strongman: Since ’98,
but I took 3 years off for work so 6 years of competitive strongman
1998 Central USA Strongman Challenge
– 2nd place
1998 Strongest Man Alive – 13th place
1999 NASS Metroplex Strongest Man – 1st place
1999 Great Lakes Strongman (national qualifier) – 2nd
1999 AFSA USA Championships – 3rd place
2003 NASS TX State strongman – 1st place
2003 Central USA Strongman Challenge – 1st place (tie),
2004 Extreme strongman showdown, Boston – 3rd place
2004 Show-Me Pro-Am Strongman Challenge – 2nd place am,
2004 California Strongest Man – 1st place (won pro card)
2004 IFSA Czech Invitational - 7th place
2005 Met-Rx Fit Expo – 5th place
2005 Worlds Strongest Team – 5th place
2005 WSM Super Series, Venice Beach – Ruptured pec and
had to withdraw
2006 World Strongman Challenge Tulsa, OK – 12th place
2006 Utah’s Strongest Man – 7th place
2006 ASC National Championships 12th place
Q. How you got involved with strongman:
A. I saw a listing for the Central USA
in Powerlifting USA. I had been doing some power lifting after
I finished playing football and had always seen strongman on
TV. I called the promoter, Chad Coy, to ask him if I should
bother showing up or if I would get my ass handed to me. I remember
him saying it would be the most fun I’d ever had, even
if I did get my butt kicked and that if I came and did not have
fun he’d refund my entry fee. I took 2nd place and had
a blast. I lost to Doug Ahr who at the time was 6’7”
and well over 400lbs. Also, this was the first time I’d
met Dione and Willie. They were there to cheer on Pat Rankin.
This was long before they had any involvement in NASS; in fact
NASS was not really even a known entity then.
That was cool Chad said he’d refund your entry if you
didn’t have fun. Do you remember any of the details? Weights,
distances times etc? Which events where easy or gave you trouble
A. The weights now seem like nothing
but the one’s I remember were: Trap bar DL 500lb for reps.
Sandbag clean and press 180 for reps, clean each rep. Farmers
walk 150 dumbells for distance.
Bench Press 300lb for reps. Arm over arm truck pull a Ford Explorer
in the grass. I’ll never forget it had rained hard the
night before so this was one of the harder events.
Q. Where you naturally big and strong before you began training?
A. Yeah, always the big kid in school.
But I started training in the 10th grade so it’s hard
to say what I’d look like if I’d waited until adulthood
to start training like a lot of folks do.
Q. What was the first routine you used to lay a foundation?
A. I bought the book Super Squats, found
it in some magazine since this is before the web. Started hitting
it hard when football season ended and I was hooked. I was always
eating, lots of PB&J sandwiches and milk in class. I went
from 200 to 265 between December and June. Although I also grew
2 inches which helps. I was 15 years old, weighed 265, and was
squatting 365 for 20 reps.
Q. Squatting 365 for 20 at 15 is awesome. Where they low bar
or oly style?
A. Low bar, fairly medium stance.
Q. What squatting style did you come to prefer?
A. I’ve always favored a low-bar
squat with a medium (slightly wider than shoulder width)
Q. Have you ever had any knee pain squatting over the years
and if so how did you overcome it?
A. Nope, never. Had two knee surguries
and still squat without issue. Guess I’ve been lucky.
Honestly it stayed pretty basic. I continued to focus on heavy
core lifts with simple accessory work throughout my football
career (high school and college). Probably one thing that helped
was I always lifted heavy even during football season. Obviously,
I wasn't hitting PR’s in mid-season but you have to lift
as heavy as you can to keep your strength. My coaches at the
time had the team doing all this circuit training crap during
the season and people could not figure out why they’d
lose 20-30lbs over the course of a season. I reasoned that all
you do on the field is rep work. Blocking drills, driving the
sled, punching the bag etc. Even trying to drive a 350lb defensive
tackle off the line is still hit and chop your feet; it’s
all repetition. So I still squatted heavy twice a week during
the season. My coaches would freak out seeing my squat 500 for
reps in the morning and then practicing in the afternoon. They
told me to stop and I told them to f*@$ off and leave me be.
The deal was if I showed up for the stupid circuit training with
the team, I could do what I wanted. Most football coaches have
no business being anywhere near the weight room.
Q. Could you tell us a bit about your knee injuries, the surgery
and the rehab. Also, anything you do currently to keep them
A. Both knees had the same injury which
essentially was a fracture of the hard glassy surface on the
tip of the femur. Just a genetic thing I guess. So surgery was
pretty simply scope job and rehab was a few months. The first
one was my left knee in college and I was back playing football
in 14 days. I’ve been lucky to have not had major knee
Q. Anything you learned from the knee injuries pertaining to
footwear for different events?
A. Nope, I do come from the Chad Coy
school of footwear though, I probably have 8 or more different
pairs in my gym bag for an event. Never know which ones will
Q. Any thoughts on shoe inserts, arch supports, knee wraps?
Never used inserts or arch supports. My
opinion is that guys that have trouble with arches and the like
either had genetic foot issues, or they are carrying WAY more
weight than their body was designed for. I was 285lb when I
graduated high school at 17 yrs old so on the one hand I’ll
never be a swimsuit model and Jon Anderson will always beat
me in the posedown; but on the other hand my body was designed
to carry a lot of weight so I don’ have the problems some
other guys get when the put on lots of weight like falling arches,
sleep apnea etc…
Q. Obviously you are an expert squatter. I always have had
problems with my knees lining up right when I squat and have
had a lot of pain as a result. Any recommendations on set up,
footwear, bar placement, how to align the knees etc?
A. Yeah, here’s my squatting 101
for what it’s worth:
Wear flat shoes or shoes with a very low heel. If you want to
do Olympic style squats then that’s one thing but I know
nothing about them.
Place the bar in the groove under your traps and on top of your
rear delts. If you don’t have such groove your too skinny
and in that case put the bar as low as possible without having
it slip down your back.
Remember to sit back, I can’t stress this enough. You
squat like you sit on a toilet. You don’t straddle the
shitter and sit straight down on it do you? (Please don’t
answer this because if you do you have more issues than poor
squat form). You sit back and “reach” you ass back
until you have to start sitting down. Squatting is the same
way. This is why if I train someone who has no squatting experience
I start them with box squats because they can’t yet handle
enough weight to sit back properly without falling over backwards.
The other thing is keep the knees forced out. If you keep the
knees out and sit back you will minimize virtually all knee
stress, yet still get most of the benefits of a good squat.
I was training with Van Hatfield a month or so before this year
nationals and he was saying that he had not been squatting much
because of pain in his knee and that even box squats were causing
him pain. Being the man I am I assumed he simply had to be doing
something wrong. We trained that night and he was doing box
squats but was not sitting back enough. You really need to reach
your ass back; this is what hits the glutes and hams so well
and is why Westside has so many insane deadlifters. When it
comes to squatting around knee pain remember there is nothing
special about the box per se, what is special is that it allows
you to sit your weight back thereby shifting the stress off
the knees and onto the posterior chain muscles, namely hams
Also, make sure you squat to a box that is a least slightly
Q. How did your training evolve as you got more advanced?
A. I started training at Westside when
I stopped playing football. There I was introduced to a whole
new world of lifting. Westside is like no other place. I don’t
care who you are, the first time you show up there it is intimidating.
I learned about max effort and dynamic effort, conjugate method
training and all that stuff. At first it sounded like crap to
me. But everyone there was f+#$ing huge, and had such insane
lifts how could they be wrong? I learned a lot from those guys.
Q. Once you made the decision to start training for strongman
how did you change your training to include the events?
A. I had to somehow shorten the number
of days I was spending in the gym to make room for my body to
recover from the events. Early on I could not train for 3 or
4 days after a good event training day. Chad Coy helped me out
and was the person who got me training twice a week in the gym
with events on Saturday. It sounded to easy, but it worked.
I consolidated my 4 day/wk Westside routine into 2 days and
then did events on Saturday.
Q. As you got further into strongman what did you find to be
your initial weak points and what did you do to overcome them?
A. Initially the yoke was my worst event,
I hated it. I was an 800lb squatter at 275 so I figured I’d
do well at it but I sucked bad. Believe it or not my overhead
press was not really great when I started either. Stones too
I sucked at, everything else was pretty good. For the yoke I
just had to focus on my core ab and oblique strength, that pretty
much cleared up the yoke issue. My press came along as a function
of simply training my shoulders and triceps heavy and strengthening
the core to keep me stable. My stones still suck relatively
Q. What exercises/sets/reps/frequency did you use to bring
up your abs and obliques to improve the yoke and keep you stable
on the OHPs?
A. I like box squats w/bands and no belt,
also like taking a moderate weight, say 225, and pressing it
overhead and then doing controlled high knee lifts. One foot,
then the other. These really work your core and make it easier
for me to make fun of Jesse Marunde and show him he’s
not the only one who can stand on one leg!
What where your strong points and how did they get that way?
A. After the year I’ve had it’s
hard to feel I have strong points……. My grip is
above average. I’ve got a good squat, an 815 DL and a
385 axle clean & press so I’m good at most power events.
Q. How did your training evolve later as you became a pro?
A. Well, that’s a tough question
since I think I’m the only person I know who went pro
twice. I qualified for pro nationals in ’99 and this is
before you need a pro “card” to go to a national
qualifier. Did nationals and took 3rd then did some more pro
shows that year. I got to compete against Magnus ver in St Louis
in ’99, one of my strongman highlights. Granted he was
not the Mangus ver of old, but still it was cool.
So my first run my training was very
simple, trained events once a month or so. Maybe twice as contests
Then in 2003 after a few years off focusing
on work I came back and realized I’d lost my pro status
since I went 2 years without competing. My training was much
more focused and I trained the events a lot more. Once a week
religiously. I also met Travis in 2003 and we started training
together which helped quite a bit.
Q. Competing against Magnus Ver is awesome. Could you tell
us a bit about what that was like. Any interesting stories there?
A. It was frightening. It was Sep 1999
and I was just coming off taking 3rd at the US nationals behind
Odd and Schoonie. I was feeling pretty good and like 3 days
before I come down with this wicked flu. I’d already bought
my ticket so I was going no matter what.
So I get there and everyone is warming up, Gillingham, Pfister,
Magnus Ver, I’m freaking out. Not sure why because I had
done well in Vegas but anyway I was super nervous. Then the
1st event was a keg load medley and I draw number one. Well
you went two at a time and guess who dre number 2? You guessed
it, Maggie. So I am ready to about shit myself at this point.
I don’t think I was ever that nervous before or since
to start a contest. Anyway, we do the event you had to load
5 250lb kegs into a high truck bed, think the distance was 25
feet. So I’m doing real well, actually ahead of Maggie
and as I get ready to load the last keg I drop it and it rolls
under the truck! I got it back pretty quick and loaded it, think
I took like 7th on that event. I then went back to the athlete
area and puked my guts out. I guess the cold medicine was a
bad idea because my heart was racing bad. I ended up making
it through the contest but did not do very well.
Q. What is your current workout split like?
Q. What (max effort) ME exercises are your favorite to rotate
in and out for Squat?
Chain suspended GM
Using different bars and stances for each; close, medium, wide…..
Buffalo bar, SSQ bar, cambered bar, ect
Q. What ME exercises are your favorite to rotate in and out
Axle clean & press
Q. What ME exercises are your favorite to rotate in and out
All the Squat movements greatly help the
DL, that’s why there is only one ME day for SQ/DL, but
these are some more DL specific lifts:
Pulls standing on a box
Q. When you do the dynamic day for strongman
what do you use for exercises? I read that Chad Coy rotates
in a different exercise for his (dynamic effort) DE every workout
(for example: week 1 log, week 2 axle and week 3 Viking press
combining each with bands chain etc) I know that’s the
plan on ME day but I thought the point of the DE was to use
the same exercise and follow a wave so you increase your speed
and technique like Westside does with bench and squat.
A. So ME day has lots more variety than
DE day. DE squat/deadlift day is always box squats with bands,
with an occasional change do DL with bands every two months
maybe. DE press day is either log or axle press.
Q. Do you rotate your accessories as well or do you keep them
A. No, I purposely try to rotate them
with certain exceptions, squats, pullups, and shrugs are pretty
Q. Do you try and plan progressive increases in volume and
weight on your accessories or do you just train them hard as
you can that day?
A. I train them as hard as I can, but
always try to leave a rep or two in the tank. I’m not
a fan of doing accessory work to failure.
What are some of your favorite gym assistance exercises for
A. In no particular order:
Close grip bench (flat or incline)
Heavy DB rows
Fat lady taco – This is good for people new to the sport.
Lay down in the gym and have your training partner lay 100lb
plates on your chest/midsection and breathe for 30 seconds,
then add a plate, breathe 30 more then and a plate, ect, ect.
Good for learning how to breathe of the conan’s wheel
and people at the gym will give you very crazy looks.
Q. It’s hard to tell if the “Fat lady Taco”
is a joke or not. Well, if it is serious at least we know not
to train that one to failure-lol!
A. Oh yeah, this one is dead serious.
Travis and I started doing them after struggling to breathe
during the Conan’s wheel. Not sure if it really did anything
other than a little mental training but we both improved from
Q. Do you ever have mini workouts between your major days like
A. I’d like to but my work schedule
does not permit it.
Q. If time did permit to do the Westside “mini workouts”
what would you do?
A. Sled drag. Backwards, forwards, f*#$ing
sideways if I could. The sled is so versatile and is great for
Q. Do you believe in training sore or do you like to be 100%
A. I believe in training sore, but not
in pain. Training through a little soreness is healthy.
Q. When training events do you tend to do a lot of volume and
technique work or do you just try and simulate what ever will
be coming up?
A. I’ve never been a fan of doing
much volume with event training, or a lot of warm-up frankly.
You don’t get to take a warm-up run with the yoke at a
show so why would you in training? I normally will take a run
at an event at contest weight and if it feels OK take a second
at more than contest weight. 2 runs max.
Q. You tore your pec last year and came back as strong as ever.
What was your rehab like and what did you do differently in
your comeback to protect the pec yet gain all your strength
A. Honestly it was not too bad. I had
a great surgeon and the first 6 weeks were just spent working
on slowly getting the range of motion back. I tried to train
during this phase but it was real sporadic. Having a knee or
ankle injury I can train around, but having a torso injury literally
any movement you make in your body you feel at the injury site.
I figured once I got the ROM back the
doc would send me for physical therapy but he said they would
not know what to do with someone like me and that I knew my
body better than some pencil neck therapist would. So he sent
me back to the gym with instructions to take it slow and easy.
I was inured in June and by November I hit a triple with a 330
log. In December I hit a 385 axle clean & press.
Q. You made a comment that your stone loading was better than
ever and if you knew it would have turned out that way you would’ve
torn your pec years ago. What do you attribute the progress
in stone loading to?
I had to focus on getting my hands farther
under the stone and scooping it up rather than using my pecs
to squeeze it. I think that was the biggest thing. Also, I was
fat which gave me a great shelf to bounce the stone off. In
January I loaded a 385 stone to Odd’s tallest platform
which I think is 65 inches, but I was so big that I could not
load it as the 5th stone of the series to the lowest box because
I was having a heart attack by the time I got to the 5th stone!
When you’re 345 a 385 stone feels pretty light.
Q. What do you recommend to someone who has log press as a
A. Triceps, tricpes, tricpes. Anyone that
has seen me press a heavy log knows it does not go up fast,
I get a little leg drive and then let the triceps kick in. Travis
calls it the slowest press he’s ever seen. But the crowd
really gets into it, I like to keep them in suspense!
Q. How did you bring up your shoulder and tricep power?
A. At Westside the focus is so heavily
on triceps that most of it stuck with me. All the stuff you
read about, board press and pin press are my favorites. Floor
press always hurt my shoulders a little so I stay away from
them but try them out because many of my friends swear by them.
Also heavy close grip bench and incline. The trick is too always
do your max effort press with a close grip. Say fingers where the knurling on the bar starts,
maybe a touch wider depending on the bar. You are trying to
build tricep and shoulder power, not shape so don’t feel
that closer hand placement is better because it’s not.
Since most of my tricep movements are close presses the shoulder
strength seems to come along easily. I throw in some standing
DB and barbell work here and there and log and axle work.
Q. What do you recommend for increasing your grip on the stones
(when tacky isn’t allowed)?
A. If you find something let me know.
Q. When training events do you specialize on the events coming
up in your next show or do you just try and train your weak
events and deal with what ever is thrown at you?
A. Usually try to train the events that
are upcoming although lately there seem to be more contests
with shorter time in between them so the training is becoming
less contest specific. You can’t train specific to get
ready for 3 shows in 4 weeks.
Q. Travis Ortmayer has credited you with teaching him all about
bands and chains and how they are essential in training. Can
you give us some examples of how you use bands and chains other
than the DE day or is that all they are used for?
Is that all he credited me with teaching
him! Seriously, the bands and chains are only used for DE movements
and occasionally for an assistance movement. I’m honestly
more of a fan of bands. I only use chains to break people in
and then graduate them quickly to bands.
Q. Can you give us some tips on training the following:
Axle Clean and Press: LOL I was training
with Jon Anderson on this event and he gave me the nickname
of “Barstool” because he said I could sit the axle
on the top of my ab and sit there and have a drink before I
cleaned the to the top and pressed it. So again having a solid
core will help for the heavy weights where a continental clean
is needed. I saw some guys at nationals this year where having
a big axle on the midsection really seemed to cave them in,
making the clean hard and gassing them out for the press.
Yoke: Again, strengthen the core. Band
squats without a belt are great. Also, make sure to keep your
feet close as you walk. If you get wide you’ll wobble
side to side and then you’re hosed.
Stones: Damn, I’m not really the
person to ask. But from what I see reliance on the tacky can
get you in trouble. If the weather is cold or the show is indoors
I’m pretty good at the stones now, but if it gets warm
or humid I still suck.
Conans Wheel: I like to set it high so
it can slide down into place I get started. However, if you
set it too high you’ll pass out cold in about 3 seconds.
I’ve done this twice so find that place and set it just
Tire Flip: This was one of the first
pieces of real strongman equipment I got. I trained it all the
time and still start most training days with 10 flips on the
900 just to get the blood moving. Also great for conditioning.
As far as tips I’m from the old school of driving into
it and then kicking the shit out of it with your knee so you
can spin your hands under it and then push it up and over.
Hussafell stone: Pick it up and carry
it. No real technique to discuss. I guess just wear something
to pad the arms so it doesn’t dig in too bad.
Farmers: Move your feet fast. Your grip
will only last so long so cover as much ground as you can before
it gives out. Over time your grip will improve and you’ll
just be fast. Although people say I move faster with implements
in my hands than I can without so what do I know.
Truck Pull: Probably my worst event currently.
I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
Arm over Arm: Don’t train this
with a sled because the feel is too different from a vehicle.
I used to simply pull with my arms until I felt the truck slow
down and then I would rebend the legs but this caused me to
be slow so now I try to pull myself back to the “coiled
up” position and then pull. Also, helps to be tall so
Viking Press: I don’t really have
this on completely figured out yet either. The trick is to use
your entire body like a big spring and not to stop once you
get started or use too much strict press power.
Deadlift: Wow, I like heavy box squats
and rack pulls. If my box squat goes up I know my DL will go
up as well.
What is your diet like? Do you pay attention to getting in enough
Prot/Carbs/healthy fats or do you just eat what you feel like?
A. It’s not great, but something
I am trying to get better at. I pretty much try to keep my protein
intake high, and no make stupid food choices. I’m starting
to really work on dialing my diet in better this off-seaon.
We’ll see how it goes.
Q. Do you use any protein, essential fatty acids or vitamin
A. I’m always taking some sort
of protein. Honestly, I end up taking weight gainers simply
to keep the calories up. I’m a big fan of the Cytosport
products. Cyto-Gainer and the muscle milk RTD’s. Something
in them keeps my metabolism up which is hard to find with a
Q. Who do you think is the best strongman of all time and why?
A. Magnus ver. What amazed me about him
was watching the shows and he knew he was going to win, and
everyone else knew he was going to win. And if he got behind
it didn’t matter because you knew he’d pull it out.
Q. Who do you think is the strongest man (if different from
above) of all time and why?
A. All-time is hard to say because I
haven’t been involved with things a super long time. But
today I’d have to say Zydrunas (sp?). He always looked
like he was a level above strength wise but competing with him
this year in Tulsa and seeing it with my own two eyes was something
else. That dude is a freak. I was 345 at that show and everyone
was like. “Jim your huge, your shoulders this, your arms
that….” Yeah, I was strong but I was carrying a
lot of extra weight I didn’t need and was not in good
shape. Anyway, I have a couple of photos of us just hangin around
that weekend and Zydrunas made me look like a kid. The only
person I’ve ever met in person bigger than him is Dominic
from Canada but Zydrunas is way stronger than he is.
Q. Who is your favorite strongman of all time and why?
A. Magnus ver. I know I’m going
to sound like the chairman of the Magnus fan club, but I guess
I just grew up watching him. The first time I met him was at
the Arnold Classic, before I ever started doing strongman and
I think before they were doing the strongman show at the Arnold,
he was there working some booth. Anyway, we got to talking and
he starts telling me and my wife about how his luggage got lost
and he ended up in Ohio and his luggage was in Frankfurt. He
was so damn funny, I’d have never guessed from watching
him on TV he had such a crazy sense of humor. I was hooked after
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I appreciate
how well thought out and thorough the answers have been and
can’t wait to implement a lot of it in my own training.