Reflections in Iron: Mike Webster – Starting Strength

Last week, I was forwarded an article by Mark Rippetoe on Mike Webster's training.

Reading it I was flooded with more than a few emotions. And since I am clinically unemotional this was no small feat. I finished the article saddened by his journey, angry the NFL has forgotten and proud of the man nicknamed, Iron Mike.

For those of you too young to remember Mike Webster, he was the center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played 6 times longer than the average NFL career, 17 years and 245 starts. His nickname was "Iron Mike," not because he played for the Steelers but because he looked like he was forged in a foundry and kept playing long after most couldn't. To put it in perspective, I played 9 years and started over 100 career games, making 1/2 the journey Iron Mike did.  I was fortunate to play with Will Shields who started 231 games in 14 years, another iron man.


Hit the Starting Strength site for the full article

You need to read it.

"...The problem was he was using some kind of foreign plates, in kilograms. I didn’t understand this until much later when I loaded up the bar with “25 pound” metal plates rimmed with thick rubber bumpers.  I was trying to put 300 on the bar, to warm up for squats, and was nearly crushed as soon as I took the bar to my shoulders and began to squat down. These days there are a lot of kilogram-only plates floating around most gyms, and I still check to make sure what I’m loading.  I do remember him saying that for a long time, his bench press was just around 350 or so, but his best workout was 445 pounds for six sets of eight reps on the bench. I think he said he finally jumped up in progress when he started really tucking his elbows in, it took a few weeks to adjust, but once he did his bench went up. As his career went on, most of his workouts were with an almost close grip on the bench, more for the reason that he needed to focus on involving his triceps as much as possible, not a muscle isolation thing. His hand placement needed to be inside the other guy’s to control him, and it carried over better..." cont



John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.

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Posted in Aggressive, Football, Talk to Me Johnnie, Training | Tagged , | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Reflections in Iron: Mike Webster – Starting Strength

  1. Eddie Wiz

    That article is fantastic. Great perspectives from a kid watching his father.

  2. Will

    That’s the iron bug.

  3. just browsing through old posts and came across this. What a great article and at the same time completely and utterly heart wrenching. This brought images of a steel curtain to my mind, on one hand something that keeps things out but also unfortunately keeping things locked in. From reading the article, it sounds like he had a great mind and a great heart that became trapped.

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