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The Purposeful Primitive
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Executed with the requisite tenacity, intensity and precision, Purposefully Primitive methods can and will favorably alter the compositional makeup of the human body. Primitive tools and simple modes are used to power sparse methods. We force the body to favorably reconfigure itself by generating physical and psychological fierceness during training. Commonsense nutritional strategies and Old School training tactics are synchronized and placed within a periodized timeframe.The three interrelated Purposefully Primitive disciplines (weight training, cardiovascular training and nutrition) need to be regularly and routinely practiced in a balanced and proportional fashion. Lock down all aspects of the program and within seven days of full implementation tangible results appear; by the end of the first month, body composition (the fat-to-muscle ratio) undergoes a dramatic turnaround; those who commit completely for 90 days undergo a total metamorphosis. No matter how deep a physical hole you are currently standing in, 90 days of maniacal discipline and teeth-gritting effort will enable you to utterly and completely change the shape, texture, efficiency and hardness of your body.
Published: Dragon Door Publications an imprint of Midpoint Trade Books on
ISBN: 9780938045946
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Marty Gallagher has produced an absolute classic! I couldn’t put it down… packed with real no b.s info from real ironmen. I am proud to be included with the outstanding athletes and their stories… A breath of fresh air!

—Dorian Yates, 6-time IFBB Mr. Olympia

"I would venture to say that I have read every book pertaining to weightlifting over the last three decades, and I have probably read the majority of the articles in this area. There are two things I can say unequivocally about what I have read. One, Marty Gallagher is the best writer in the world of physical fitness and strength, bar none, and two, Gallagher’s newest book The Purposeful Primitive is the best manuscript ever produced in this field.

Teeming with esoteric information on training, biomechanics, nutrition, and sport psychology, The Purposeful Primitive is a wealth of information that every serious lifter needs to read. You are going to like this book. NO! You are going to LOVE it. I promise you that. It’s Gallagher’s best work, and that means it is strictly world class."

—Dr. Judd Biasiotto, author of 46 fitness and health-related books, world powerlifting champion

"I really only have two things to say about Marty Gallagher that bear on his new book, The Purposeful Primitive. The first is that there are two classes of writers in powerlifting: 1) Marty Gallagher and 2) all others. The second is that one day, ten years ago, Marty called to say he knew a Russian guy who he thought might be a good writer for MILO, so we invited the guy to submit an article: It was called Vodka, Pickle Juice, Kettlebell Lifting and other Russian Pastimes, the author was Pavel Tsatsouline, and rest, as they say, is history."

—Randall J. Strossen, President, IronMind Enterprises, Inc.

"For those who buy or judge reading material by size, number of pages, volume, or distance able to be thrown and cause damage, Marty has your back on this one. For the intellectual athlete who actually thirsts for knowledge and sees content as King, you will get 30 years of genius and experience in the Iron Game mixed with the passion and ability of Hemmingway all wrapped up in one book and the result is The Purposeful Primitive. From me to you—Go buy the book and enjoy!!"

—Rickey Dale Crain, IPF/WPC/AAU World Champion, 2000 Powerlifting Hall of Fame Inductee

"As a student, athlete, teacher, researcher, professional coach, and businessman I have spent over 60 years in health, fitness and sport, devoted to ‘how to become the best you can be’. The Purposeful Primitive has been a very interesting journey for me… back-to-the-future…

Marty does a wonderful job bringing out the art and science of training, extracting many of the critical universal and specific principles (guiding rules to action—social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual) that are applicable to living a productive life in general, and in training for health, fitness and sport, specifically. In addition, I like the way Marty personalizes the lives of outstanding athletes and shows how they applied these fundamental, can’t-miss principles in their training to help them become the best they could be in their sport. My recommendation: if you want to achieve something ‘great in your life’, add The Purposeful Primitive to your training library… yesterday."

—Dr. Bob Ward, Sports Science Network, former head strength and conditioning coach, Dallas Cowboys

Marty Gallagher has written a most interesting book that contains not only telling first hand biographies from powerlifting’s heyday, but the routines and mindset of the top practitioners of the strength pursuit. His style is rich with anecdote, at the same time being right on point regarding the many divergent paths to the attainment of fitness. The basic truths underlying those paths have been distilled down to a certainty, allowing the reader to intelligently compose their own program. Good job from one who sought intensely over many years to grasp the essence of power and fitness and most importantly loves what he does.

—Hugh Cassidy, first world heavyweight powerlifting champion

Marty Gallagher is a brilliant writer who thinks deeply about subjects he knows and loves. His manifesto/encyclopedia contains a ton of wisdom, one-of-a-kind role models, awesome color photos… a truly fascinating read.

—Clarence Bass, author of the Ripped series, Lean For Life, Challenge Yourself, and Great Expectations

"Gallagher takes the gems of the greatest strength athletes in history and distills the keys to success for all of us.

After reviewing profile after profile after profile of great strength trainers in history, Gallagher goes the next step: he sums up their approaches then shows that all of them are right. As a person trained in the basics of theology, I understood immediately Gallagher’s great point: it’s not ‘either/or’ when it comes to strength and body mass, it is ‘both/and’. I live by the coaching point: ‘Everything works…for a while,’ and Gallagher breathes flesh and blood into this principle.

There is so much more to this book, of course. The mental training section blends the Western and Eastern approaches to the mind game of training. Again, we find ‘both/and’, but Gallagher also spends a lot of time detailing how to incorporate these tools in one’s training.

But wait, there’s more! There is a section on cardio training for strength athletes that really makes me more comfortable with this notion of ‘doing cardio’. It’s nice to see the return for the widely misunderstood teachings of Len Schwartz’s Heavy Hands. Moreover, we see a commonsense approach to this whole overhyped field.

The section on diet towards the end of the book again reflects the idea of both/and’. It is simply this: refreshing. Gallagher gives clarity to the calorie conundrum. Yes, every diet approach works, but Gallagher shows us a way to link them together. Truly, this man of experience understands that success leaves footprints and every approach is worthy of discussion.

Oh, this book is a joy. I put this book next to Tommy Kono’s Weightlifting, Olympic Style for sheer fun and delight and love of training. I am convinced that I will probably keep reading The Purposeful Primitive in bits and snips for years. It’s just fun and funny while pounding into the reader the ‘secrets’ of advanced training. Many won’t like the message. The secrets involve training really hard and really heavy."

—Daniel John, Head Track and Field Coach, Juan Diego Catholic High School, American Record Holder, Masters Weight Pentathlon

"What can one say with certainty about the author of this book—Marty Gallagher? Nothing other than the facts that he has ‘been there and done that’ as an 800-plus pound squatter! That he has written over a thousand articles about fitness and nutrition in the published print media (not to include his amazing blog). That he is not just a genius, but the best interviewer and storyteller going. And that he has not only truly trained the world’s strongest athletes, but that he has distilled the most useful information from 15 of the foremost weight lifters, bodybuilders, psychologists and ‘bodymaster’ nutritionists of the last half century into a form that can be used by anyone from overweight, exercise-adverse beginner to world champions in their sports.

From Olympic lifting to power lifting and bodybuilding, whether muscle gain or fat loss, from cooking to supplements, from changing exercise and eating habits to molding the psychology of a champion (whether one is even remotely interested in competition or not), Marty has covered it all. I only wish I had had a book like this when I was growing up and trying my best to get bigger and stronger. Marty has demonstrated, without question, that he is the current and undeniably best ‘trainer of champions’ and ‘ultimate guide to physical—and mental—transformation.’ This book not only provides the simplest instructions and cheapest financial and lifestyle requirements, it is absolutely the single best book ever written on being the best you can be physically and otherwise."

—James E. Wright, Ph.D, former Director of Sports Science, U.S. Army Physical Fitness School; former Health and Science Editor, Flex Magazine

"Absolutely magnificent. What a breathtaking book on a life with iron. Marty Gallagher delivers an outstanding, comprehensive book with a writing style worthy of Hemingway himself. This book takes you on a journey through the iron-history of the great ones and in the most sophisticated way Marty presents probably the best ever written material on life, iron and mental fortitude.

This book is impossible to put down once you start reading it. It should be the first read of any who aspire to lift weights and be healthy. There are not enough words in the English language (or Danish for that matter) to describe how excellent this book is. It is an absolute must to any Strength & Health enthusiast. I give it my highest recommendation!!"

—Kenneth "the Dane of Pain" Jay, MSc, Sr. RKC

"The Purposeful Primitive both inspired me, and also challenged some of my long-held notions about strength and athleticism. In the foreword, Pavel calls Marty Gallagher his mentor, and once you read this book, you’ll understand why. The Purposeful Primitive is the most significant strength-training book I’ve read in 10 years."

—Charles Staley, Staley Training Systems

"Marty’s literary style intrigued me and I could not put the book down!! I was drawn into being educated by a powerlifter that made points that would make me a better high school teacher/coach as well as an excellent Olympic weightlifting coach.

I was hooked by page 263, with Marty’s ‘physical and psychological weak points’. "What’s the toughest lesson to learn in all of fitnessdom? I would nominate prioritizing weaknesses and not continually playing to our strength.’ There it is! That did it! If nothing else, this chapter needs to be read by all coaches and by all athletes and all trainers in the fitness world …

I highly recommend The Purposeful Primitive as a must read."

—Mike Burgener, Senior International Weightlifting Coach, Coach for the Junior World Women’s Weightlifting Team

"Marty Gallagher has convincingly presented the concept that successful people in all domains ‘stand upon the shoulders of those who have gone before them.’ He has accurately indicated that most of the fitness gurus and elite athletes of today are chasing after the golden fleece instead of following the tried, true and scientifically and empirically proven and validated principles of physical training, cardiovascular training, nutrition and psychology.

Marty characterizes this by stating; ‘Old school methodology is the modern solution for achieving true physical transformation.’ Readers will sink their teeth into the substance and procedures of the masters found between the covers of The Purposeful Primitive.

The Purposeful Primitive is an enlightening read, filled with great insights into the masters of the last century in Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Cardiovascular Training, Nutrition and Psychology.

Great job Marty Gallagher, master of: writing, powerlifting, physical training, cardiovascular training, nutrition and psychology."

—Dr. Paul Ward, PED, QPT Publications

"WOW! My old friend Marty knocked this one out of the park.

I was so fascinated I could not put the book down. These are exactly the routines most of us experienced in those days. It brought back a lot of memories.

For all you young powerlifters out there who want to build real power like we did it in the old days this is the book to get. Thank you so much Marty."

—Dan Wohleber, former national powerlifting champion, multiple world record holder, 1st man to deadlift 900 pounds

"When Marty called and asked if I could pose for a few photos for his new book, I knew I didn’t have to worry about associating myself with anything he was writing. I knew it would be a quality book focused on proven, basic training principles and based on Marty’s vast store of real, first-hand knowledge. What I didn’t know until receiving my copy and really giving it a close look, was that I was stumbling across a small role in one of the most comprehensive, well-written, and above all else, entertaining, books on weight training that’s ever been written.

I have a pretty extensive strength training library, and Marty’s book belongs on the top shelf with Dreschler’s Weightlifting Encyclopedia, Starr’s The Strongest Shall Survive, McCallum’s Keys to Progress, and McRobert’s Brawn. I realize now how lucky I am to have been in the right place at the right time to be a small part of Marty’s crowning achievement and lasting contribution to the Iron Game. Thanks so much Marty for not letting these great stories and this wealth of information fade away with the old masters!"

—Chuck Miller, attorney, journalist, C.S.C.S., AAU world and national powerlifting champion

"I enjoyed Marty Gallagher’s new book and particularly liked his ‘resurrection’ of the methods of the Iron Masters. So much of that Old School training wisdom has been forgotten or discarded in our modern era. The training philosophies of men like Bill Pearl and Ed Coan are timeless and grounded in principles that have stood the test of time. These philosophies are based in the idea that first and foremost, hard and sustained physical effort must be implemented for a protracted period. This requires using lots of Old School discipline.

I agree with Marty’s premise that to modify the human body, to improve it, to make it more muscular and leaner, requires real work. Too many individuals in this day and age want to believe that some miracle method exists that can magically bypass the requisite pain and struggle. By spotlighting men from a simpler era, Marty shows that real gains can be gotten from methods that need not be unduly complicated. I would hope that modern readers could absorb some of the iconic lessons he relates in his own unique way."

—John Parrillo, CEO Parrillo Performance Products

I have been studying the industry for 20 years. Marty is in a class of his own. Combine his fitness knowledge with a unique talent for writing and one has an unbeatable combination.

—Larry Christ, multi-time national master powerlifting champion

"Once again, Marty Gallagher has proven that he is powerlifting’s most articulate and informative writer. The Purposeful Primitive is an outstanding read, with credible and essential information for beginners and elite lifters alike. I will be honored to promote the book at my gym and the many contests we host each year."

—Dr. Spero S. Tshontikidis, R.A.W. United, Inc.

Wow! Marty Gallagher did a tremendous job! Not only was it a very interesting and entertaining read, but can be used as a reference manual. A must read for anyone interested in fitness and or strength.

—Bob Gaynor, WPC World Record holder

"The Purposeful Primitive is Marty Gallagher’s magnum opus. It’s the most entertaining book about physical culture I’ve read in a long time. The hilarious over-the-top reminiscences of Old School powerlifting and powerlifters is combined with the basic, bare-bones, best-practice information needed to dramatically change your physical appearance and become radically bigger and stronger as long as you are willing to sacrifice your blood, sweat, and tears to the loa of the Purposeful Primitive." —Steve Shafley, Powerlifter and Highland Games thrower

Marty Gallagher has laid out simple tried and true old school principles that yield results. I believe that is what this book is all about; results. In a world full of bells and whistles, this book is a great reminder of what training should look like. I think this is an outstanding resource for physical transformation. I would recommend this book to anyone who is serious about building a real-world body.

—Tim Anderson, RKC Level II, CPT







Copyright ©2008 Marty Gallagher

All rights under International and Pan-American Copyright conventions.

Published in the United States by:

Dragon Door Publications, Inc

5 East County Rd B, #3 • Little Canada, MN 55117

Tel: (651) 487-2180 • Fax: (651) 487-3954

Credit card orders: 1-800-899-5111

Email: • Website:

ISBN:   13 digit: 978-0-938045-94-6      10 digit: 0-938045-94-6

This edition first published in June 2008

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

Printed in the United States of America

Book design, Illustrations and cover by Derek Brigham

Website http//

Tel/Fax: (763) 208-3069 • Email:


The author and publisher of this material are not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury that may occur through following the instructions contained in this material. The activities, physical and otherwise, described herein for informational purposes only, may be too strenuous or dangerous for some people and the reader(s) should consult a physician before engaging in them.


Foreword by Pavel Thinking Simply and Seeing Clearly

I Prometheus

The Purposeful Primitives

There Is No School Like Old School

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants


Paul Anderson—Primitive Patriarch

Typical Paul Anderson Workout

Bill Pearl—Anti-Aging Role Model

Bill Pearl’s Classical Bodybuilding Training Regimen

The Anti-Aging Role Model

Bob Bednarski—Iron Icarus

Clash of the Titans: Barski goes to work for The Man


Bob Bednarski Training Template

Aftermath: The Iron Icarus melts his wings

Hugh Cassidy—Iron Master Renaissance Man

Eat Your Way Through Sticking Points!

All Aboard the Pain Train!

Hugh Cassidy Training Split

Lift Big, Eat Big, Rest Big, Grow Big!

Mark Chaillet—Powerlifting Ultra Minimalist

How Little can you do and still get Super Strong?

Mark Chaillet’s Super Simplistic System

Competition Training Cycle

8 Week Periodization Cycle

Stopping Machine Gun Sales at Chaillet’s House of Pain

Doug Furnas—The Athlete’s Athlete

Near Death Experience Leads to Iron Introduction

Dennis Wright: Simplistic Genius

Coaching Coan, Furnas and Chaillet Simultaneously

How did Doug train?

Ed Coan—The Greatest Powerlifter Of All Time…

How the Greatest Powerlifter in History Trained

Coan Trains

Ken Fantano—Power Theoretician

Powerlifting Architecture

The Weight Don’t Care; It Has Only One Friend: Gravity!

Power Enduro

Fantano Phase II Competition Training Template

Dorian Yates—The Iron Monk

The Quantum Leap Forward

Blood & Guts: Film Noir Extraordinaire

My Day with Dorian

Bodybuilding, Blood & Guts Style

Kirk Karwoski—Prototypical Purposeful Primitive

Karwoski’s Four Day/Week Power Training Program

Karwoski 4 Day Training Split

Karwoski Reemerges


The Purposefully Primitive Resistance Training Amalgamation

Recapitulation of Modes and Methods

What the Iron Masters Have in Common

How to Build Muscle

Getting Started

Primary Exercises


Bench Press


Secondary Exercises

Overhead Press

Biceps Curl

Triceps Extension

Tertiary Exercises

Romanian Deadlift

Calf Raise

Decline Sit-up

Auxiliary Exercises




Two Day A Week Training

Two Day Split: Simplistic, Time Efficient, Deadly Effective!

Three Day A Week Training

Three Day Split: Work the Whole Body Thrice Weekly

Four Day A Week Training

Four Day Split: Ground Zero Split Routine

Five Day A Week Training

Five Day Split: Iron Immersion

Six Day A Week Training

Six Day Split: Volume Over Intensity!

The Purposefully Primitive Training Week

Periodization and Preplanning

4 Week Peaking Cycle

Periodization and Creeping Incrementalism

8 Week Beginner Periodization Cycle

Logging Entries


Primitive Roots

Build a Retro Home Gym

Stone-Age Tools for Accessing the Third Dimension of Tension

You’ve Got About An Hour

Capacity is a Shifting Target

Progress Multiplier: The Training Partner

How Simple can the Physical Renovation Process be made Without Losing Effectiveness?

Ebb and Flow

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis Embrace Change, Legislate Contrast

No One System, Mode or Method Trumps All Others

Better To Use a Lousy System with Great Intensity Than A Sophisticated System Halfheartedly

Don’t Turn a Once Effective System into a Religion

Legislating Contrast

Contrast Is King

Direct Muscle Soreness and Deep Muscle Fatigue

Progressive Pulls

Six Week Progressive Pull Periodization Cycle

Base Strength

The Seductive Siren Song of Machine Exercise

Spawning Season

Back in the Day

What Not To Do How Not To Train

Remembrances of Days Past


Mental Mentors

The Functions of the Human Brain

Jiddu Krishnamurti—Intuitive Primitive

Aladar Kogler—Iron Curtain Brain Train Grand Maestro


The Tao of Fitness

Shikantaza Checklist

Auto-Visualization Ideo-Motor Checklist

Suggested Reading

A 10 Step Program Based on the Kogler Brain Train Approach


Purposefully Primitive Psychology

Reprogram the Central Processing Unit of the Soft Machine

Making the Mind/Muscle Connection

Physical and Psychological Weak Points

Brain Train

The Psychology of a Champion Athlete

Purposeful Layoffs

Brain Train Feats and Tactics

Want to Change Your Physique? Start by Changing the Way You Think


Purposefully Primitive Cardiovascular Exercise

Mr. Analogous Strikes Again

Many Roads Lead to Cardio Rome

Getting Our Cardio Facts Straight

Leonard Schwartz, M.D.—Aerobic Avatar

Birth And Death Of An Exercise Craze

Len Sets Me Straight


The Three Types of Cardio

The 1st Way: Steady-State

The 2nd Way: Burst or Interval

The 3rd Way: Burst or Interval

Muscle Fiber Nuts and Bolts

Muscle Fiber Reference Guide

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Way Cardio Modes

Every Self-Respecting Purposeful Primitive Needs this High-Tech Gadget

The Three Benchmarks of Aerobic Activity

Six Week 1st Way Periodization Cycle

Nine Week 1st Way Periodization Cycle

The Heart Rate Monitor Allows Aerobic Mode Cross Comparisons


Aerobic Exercise Is Irreplaceable

Step Outside the Cardio Box

Walking for Exercise is Different Than Normal Walking

Zen and the Art of Walking

The 1,000 Calorie Cardio Burn

The Carefree Psychotic Peeks Inside Ali’s Near Room

Hammer Time!

Martial Artists and 3rd Way Hybrid Cardio

In Praise of Steve Justa Sustained-Strength Grand Maestro


No Need to Square the Nutritional Circle

John Parrillo

Bigger and Leaner

Build the Metabolism

A Day In The Life Of A Parrillo-Style Dieter

Parrillo On Manipulating The Insulin/Glucagon Axis

Ori Hofmekler

The Warrior Diet Template

Avoid Extreme Low Calorie Diets.

Detoxify the Body


The Nutritional Amalgamation

The Right Tool for the Right Job at the Right Time

Which Way to Jump?

Jumping into the Deep End of the Pool

A Hypothetical 12 Month Rotational Nutritional Macro Cycle

The Psychology of Taste

Where and How to Start

Purposefully Primitive Performance Eating

Thermodynamic Reality Check

Periodized Nutritional Rotation

Parillo Nutritional System Synopsis

Warrior Diet System Synopsis


The Anabolic Effect of Food

Post-Workout Smart Bomb

Ori’s Take on the Window of Opportunity

Getting in Touch with Hunger

My Meal with Mongo

The Diesel Leads the Way

Dorian Yates Daily Meal Schedule Pre-Competition Phase

Holiday Hedonism Setting Up the Anabolic Burst

What’s the Biggest Myth in ALL of Fitness? Spot Reduction!

Where Body Fat Is Drawn Down From Is Beyond Your Control

Want a Ripped Waist? Reset the Metabolic Thermostat

Ab Exercise Heretic

The Caloric Cost of Exercise is Vastly Overrated

The Procedural Consensus of the Iron Elite

Food Tricks

Magnificent Mini-Me!


The Purposefully Primitive Manifesto Doing Fewer Things Better

An Inch Wide and a Mile Deep

Rationalization, Visualization, Actualization

Fitness from Big Pink





Foreword by Pavel

Ten years ago a gruff voice left a message on my answering machine inviting me to write for a muscle magazine. The caller signed off as Marty Gallagher. He would become the big brother I never had and my mentor.

Since their overwhelmingly warm reception of Paul Anderson half a century ago, Russians have always been respectful of American strength and I am no exception. Anywhere Marty and I met, be it in a powerlifting meet where he was my corner man, on a meditative walk through the mountains, over a glass of wine at the Ritz in Washington or a fine Mennonite-raised steak at Marty’s country compound, I prodded and cajoled my friend for more knowledge. What I have learned has blown me away by its beauty and simplicity. I invite you to be equally blown away from your reading of The Purposeful Primitive.

The author of the book you are about to enjoy is the best writer in the iron game, period. He is so far ahead of the competition, both in his inner and outer knowledge of his subject and in his masterful delivery, that he is in a league of his own and the second best is not even in sight. It only took him forty years to reach his overnight success.

Marty was twelve when his father, an Irishman of few words, bought him his first barbell set. Like many, the boy learned how to weightlift from photos in Strength & Health. Like few, the self-coached weightlifter went on to win a national teen title and set a record in one of the lifts—even though he had not seen a live snatch or clean-and-jerk until his first meet! Then he found powerlifting and never looked back. Like mixed martial arts today, power-lifting in the sixties was an aggressive, anti-establishment sport. It was populated by rough characters like Don Blue who had to get a permission to leave prison for a day to compete in the World’s—with a barely healed knife wound. Marty the juvenile delinquent was inevitably drawn in.

The young street tough apprenticed under another Irishman, Hugh Cassidy, a world champion and a legend of the strength sport. Weighing less than 300 pounds, Hugh benched 570 raw with a two-second pause! How many men could do it today? Far from a stereotypical musclehead, Cassidy was, among other things, fluent in German and an accomplished sculptor. It was this Renaissance man who would encourage the young gun to write his first powerlifting article. It was Cassidy’s training methodology that would become the foundation of Gallagher’s purposefully primitive method.

Training and competing alongside the iron elite, men like Mark Chaillet and Doug Furnas, Marty Gallagher kept learning, adding what was useful and discarding what was useless. His analytical mind, raw talent, and grim determination rapidly propelled him to the top.

Marty got strong. Very strong. He squatted 840 and had a clear shot at breaking the 871-pound world record. Then, like a tragic twist in the plot of one of Gallagher’s beloved dark Russian novels, came the accident. Aided and abetted by a well meaning but unskilled gym member, a fully loaded barbell shattered the contender’s leg…

His victorious comeback as a master lifter decades ahead of him, Marty Gallagher stayed in the game as a coach. And what a coach he was! His stable of athletes reads like Who’s Who of the sport. Ed Coan. Introverted and enigmatic, he has brought down over a hundred world records and is undisputedly recognized as the greatest powerlifter in history. Kirk Karwoski. Explosive and bigger than life, this über-champion is admired by the hard to impress Russians. Making his Jedi master Cassidy proud, Gallagher has carried on the Old School legacy and continued an impeccable iron lineage.

This coach extraordinaire kept polishing the chrome of the Method until it met French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s criterion for perfection. In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness. Enter The Purposeful Primitive.

Gallagher has two passions, lifting and literature. He is as good as anyone in either. Bring the two pursuits together, and he has no equals and no runners-up.

In this one of a kind volume he brings you the hard won strength discoveries from the golden age of powerlifting, the seventies and the eighties. Filtered, systematized, and refined by one of the best coaching minds anywhere. It is a method second to none, even today. Consider this. As this book is going to print, the deadlift world records in four weight classes stand unbroken since they were set between 1982 and 1992. These records were set by American athletes who followed the Method revealed in The Purposeful Primitive.

The Method is at least as good as anything new out there. Its edge is its beautiful simplicity, something that contemporary methodologies, American and Russian, are lacking. For instance, the Russian national powerlifting team bench presses up to eight times a week. Purposefully primitive lifters do it only once or twice a week. The new generation of American athletes practices a great variety of esoteric exercises. The old school lives on a monastic diet of the basics. If two methods deliver similar results, reasons Gallagher, I will pick the more efficient one.

I would be kidding myself if I believed that more than a handful of readers have dreams of listening to the Star Spangled Banner standing atop the champions’ podium at a powerlifting world championship. Most simply want to transform their physiques, build muscle and lose fat. Again, The Purposeful Primitive delivers.

When it comes to building muscle—prime meat, strong as it looks—powerlifters are the ultimate experts. Although endless pumping allows bodybuilders to develop huge fake muscles, it easy to tell these pretenders by their inflated, rather than dense, look. Real muscle, on the other hand, is rock hard and the person carrying it walks with an unmistakable presence of power. He draws attention because everyone is subconsciously recognizing him as the leader of the pack, not because he looks like a freak. Ironically, even in competitive bodybuilding the top dogs are rarely pumpers. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbo are former powerlifting champions. Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman are powerlifting strong.

Building muscle the powerlifting way has many advantages over the popular pump artist routines. First, you get strong. If you see no benefit in that, may I suggest that you put this book away and join a Pilates class? Second, strong muscles don’t shrink in a couple of days away from the gym. Some years ago a certain Mr. America came to New York to give an exhibition, reminisces professional strong man Sig Klein in his old age. I always admired his photos and asked him to show me his arm. He refused, saying that he had just made the long flight from California and this could have shrunken his arms. I was flabbergasted. If a few hours trip or a few days layoff from training makes that much difference in his muscles, then those muscles were useless and I didn’t care to see them.

Third, the purposefully primitive method demands very little of your time and even less of your money. Most hobbyists buy the highest quality professional grade equipment if they have the means. No self-respecting chef would pick Walmart knives over Williams & Sonoma’s. Yet amazingly, when it comes to fitness, people shun the tools and the techniques of the professionals and opt for mass market choices, the equivalent of cheap plastic. It is especially bizarre, since, unlike in any other endeavor, a strength professional tool kit is a lot less expensive than the amateur alternatives! Compare the price tags on a barbell and on some fancy exercise machine. Ditto for the membership at a no frills gym like YMCA as opposed to a ritzy health spa. When you are listening to Gallagher, you are getting Williams & Sonoma quality at Walmart prices.

You might argue that while powerlifters may be masters of piling on thick slabs of muscle, what do they know about getting lean? A good point. Fortunately, Gallagher is no ordinary powerlifter, he is a Renaissance man of all around fitness. Not content with just being muscular and strong, he is also lean and athletic. Recently on a bet this baby boomer smoked a local high school football star in a sprint! Marty’s sensei, Hugh Cassidy had shown his apprentice the way when he cut down from 300 pounds to ripped 190. The Method stands on a balanced tripod of Iron, Cardio, and Nutrition. The author has spent decades researching the most effective and reliable methods of getting lean and this book features cutting edge recommendations from experts like nutrition visionary Ori Hofmekler and master of lean Bill Pearl.

You might suspect that, akin to those academic elite who remain completely out of touch with the People, world class coach Gallagher has nothing to offer to a regular Joe or Jane such as yourself. Wrong again. A true training system can be scaled up or down. If it can’t be, it is not a system but a collection of tips. One Russian powerlifter has said this about the system of Marty’s Russian counterpart, the national team coach Boris Sheyko: the methodology was… attractive… primarily because it was a system built from the bottom up on the same principles. Which is why beginners, masters, and the elite ‘train Sheyko’ basically the same way. The only difference is in the load and volume. The author of The Purposeful Primitive has had remarkable success with extremely obese regular folks. I have had the privilege of watching him train some of them. I have heard women cry, grateful about the many pounds they had shed, thanks to his tough love.

Last but not least of the arrows in Gallagher’s quiver is the brain train section of the book. Don’t expect beaten to death clichés about positive thinking. The author’s purposefully primitive psychology is as far removed from the psychobabble which has thoroughly discredited mind power techniques in this country, as a world record squat attempt from a half-hearted set of leg extensions. And it does not matter whether your goal is to add pounds to your deadlift or subtract them from your spare tire, these techniques will dramatically shorten your journey to wherever you desire to be.

In addition to learning some of the most effective techniques of body and mind transformation, you are about to treat yourself to some of the best writing the English language has to offer. Gallagher is a samurai, equally adept in the manly and the literary arts. Since his teens Marty has been inhaling Hemingway, London, Chekhov, and Turgenev. After four decades of voracious reading and hard living, the brooding Irishman has become their equal. He retreated to the country where he, in the words of Jack London, could be living close to the earth, thinking simply and seeing clearly, and wrote the Great American Novel of Strength.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to present Marty Gallagher’s The Purposeful Primitive.

A writer’s job is to tell the truth. His standard of fidelity should be so high that his invention, out of his own experience, should produce a truer account than anything factual can. For facts can be observed badly; but when a good writer is creating something, he has time and scope to make of it an absolute truth.

—Ernest Hemingway

I am bringing fictional techniques to reportage.

—Truman Capote

I Prometheus

Like Prometheus I stole fire from the Gods. In my case, I stole from the athletic Gods, in order to help normal people in their quest to physically transform themselves.

My role is that of fact gatherer and interpreter. I assemble data, I codify and identify ideas; I explain theories and philosophies. I sort through and restate profound methods, making them user-friendly. As a Purposeful Primitive my prime directive is to reveal the irreducible training and nutrition methods used by elite athletes to build muscle and reduce body fat. Implement these methods and you will create a stronger, leaner body. Stronger and leaner makes any athlete better at what they do, regardless of the discipline or sport.

I am an athlete, a lesser athlete, just as Prometheus was a lesser God. I have stood on the 1st place pedestal in a foreign country at a World Championship and heard the National Anthem played. Still, my athletic achievements are Lilliputian compared to the Gods I write about. My achievements were sufficient enough to allow me access to the realm of the elite. Still, I was always an athletic overachiever, in that my accomplishments vastly exceeded my limited genetic gifts. In one sense this was a blessing: as art critic David Gelertner once observed, Some great artists (say Raphael, Degas, Rodin or Picasso) are born with great technique. Others like Cezanne are born with more will and insight than technical means. If you are an artist in the second category, your work gains in depth, integrity and power from your dogged technical struggles. Lack of fluency concentrates the mind. I engaged in dogged technical struggles and my lack of athletic fluency concentrated my mind.

I was a physiological overachiever whose lack of genetic gifts caused me to overcompensate in ways that eventually resulted in a certain uniqueness that set me apart from my athletic contemporaries.

My limitations meant I had to train smarter, research deeper, learn and figure harder, riddle longer and ponder more on how to improve and further my own athletic quest. I continually searched to find ever-better methods and mentors. This book is the summation of the modes and methods I gleaned from the Masters with whom I came into contact. This book is my very own version of G.I. Gurdjieff’s Meetings with Remarkable Men. This book is an accumulation of ideas, a treatise on the commonalities and particularities that draw together and differentiate the true Masters.

The rationale, the raison d’etre for this book is profound: how best to stimulate, trigger, ignite or instigate tangible, irrefutable, undeniable physical progress? How do we transform the human body? The athletic elite know how to reconfigure the body. The average fitness acolyte who seeks physical renovation needs to access and incorporate these elite tactics.

Being an athlete interested in improving my own game, being in a position to quiz and grill top athletes about the training and eating protocols that got them there, I made the most of the opportunity. I talked long, often, and in great depth to hundreds of top athletes. My job was to write articles about the tactics they used to excel. My fate was to be a good, not great, competitor. As a journalist I knew enough to ask the right questions and then shut up and listen (in awe) as the great ones took the time to talk and share the training, nutrition or mental tactics that made them great.

I knew their language and I knew how to interpret often arcane abstractions into readable prose regular folks could understand and utilize. Too many interviewers make the mistake of trying to impress the interviewee instead of letting them tell their tale. As one curmudgeon said, I never learned a damn thing listening to myself talk. Like Prometheus, I stole fire from the Gods. I now pass along their accumulated wisdom for use in your own transformational quest. Be smart enough to use and apply their methods. Their ways are the proven ways and their ways will allow you to morph from what you are into what you want to be. And that, my friend, is truly incredible.

The Purposeful Primitives Masters, Modes & Methods

Transformational Techniques & Tactics

Physical transformation is made way too complicated. When people talk about fitness or diet they are really talking about physical transformation. They are dissatisfied with how they look and feel and they want to do something about it. In actuality what people seek, though they may not think of it in this way, is transformation. They want to morph their physique, change it, modify it, and improve upon its current state.

What constitutes a better body? The irreducible core definition of what people seek from fitness could be boiled down to two things: decreased body fat and more muscle. There are lots of other benefits they might seek from a diet or exercise plan, but at the root core, the reason all those diet books are sold and all those abdominal devices are purchased is that people want to lose body fat. The reason people belong to gyms and purchase exercise equipment is they want to build muscle.

Unfortunately in this day and age, the Information Age, we are awash in a sea of health and fitness confusion and contradiction. This approach contradicts that approach, this diet plan claims incredible results, yet is precisely the opposite of another diet plan, both of which present powerfully persuasive arguments and (pseudo) science to back up their claims. One school of exercise will champion one approach for sculpting the physique that stands in stark contrast to another school of exercise; both schools have compelling arguments and trot out radically transformed adherents that tell you how this particular system transformed their physiques in no time flat with a minimum amount of time, effort and expense. Everything related to fitness nowadays comes with a price tag. In order to lure you into purchasing one mode or method over another, be it diet-related or exercise-related, the manufacturer will claim that radical physical transformation can be yours and can be made both quick and easy—assuming you buy their magical product.

If radical physical transformation were truly quick and easy any outfit that produced such a product, system or method, one that truly delivered quick and easy results would rule the world. There is no such thing as quick and easy physical transformation. We’ll call this the 1st truism of the Purposefully Primitive Philosophy.

Human nature wants desperately to believe that a mode or method, a pill or potion exists that will magically shortcut the sweat, toil, tears, blood, time and teeth-grinding effort it takes to trigger tangible transformation. Human nature wants desperately to believe that a magical system exists—but you just haven’t found it yet. So you keep looking and you keep buying, you keep hoping and wishing, you keep purchasing books, DVDs, gym memberships, dietary food plans, exercise equipment, fat burning pills, nutritional supplements of every type and kind; anything that promises you what you want to hear. All in the hope of finding that magical method, mode or substance that will enable you to undergo a significant physical makeover with a minimum investment of time, money and especially effort. You want nothing less than to undergo a phantasmagoric metamorphosis, from ugly earth-bound caterpillar into a gorgeous celestial butterfly. So you buy and buy and you try and try—yet still you stay the same. Understand that true transformation is difficult, arduous, prolonged and intense. You need discipline, grit, tenacity, perseverance and patience. That’s the bad news. The good news is that certain systems, methods and modes can and will transform the human body. Certain disciplines, done diligently, radically reduce body fat and create new muscle tissue. My task is to share with you the battle-tested modes and methods of the true Masters.

There Is No School Like Old School

The human body is subject to biological imperatives, cause and effect, i.e. do this and that will happen. Biological cause and effect is not about new, better, improved, revolutionary or double your money back if not satisfied within 14 days of purchase! True biological imperatives are about science.

Scientifically speaking, if a muscle, any muscle, is subjected to a specific resistance protocol of sufficient intensity, the target muscle must grow larger and stronger if that muscle is then fed and rested. That is science.

Another biological imperative informs us that if the human body operates in negative energy balance (NEB) for a protracted period, a resultant loss in bodyweight must occur. This is basic caloric thermodynamics. Furthermore, if the body operates in NEB for a protracted period, and if other specified procedures and protocols are enacted, the human body preferentially calls up its body fat reserves (stored energy) and uses body fat to fuel activity. Enact specific training and eating procedures and the human body must grow new muscle and must oxidize stored body fat.

Cause and effect is objective: enact certain procedures and certain predictable results occur. The body has no choice. There are certain resistance-training protocols that have been used for decades and have been proven to deliver real results. These training procedures were invented and refined by Master resistance trainers. There are certain forms of cardiovascular exercise that have been used for decades and have been proven to deliver amazing results. There are certain nutritional modes and methods that have been used for decades and accelerate the oxidation of stored body fat while promoting recovery, healing and muscle growth. These systems work because they are rooted in science and biology. They have proven track records and have been used by elite athletes for decades. All are battle-tested with irrefutable, empirical, earned-in-the-trenches pedigrees. These systems produce results: the human body is transformed when these methods and modes are methodically applied.

In this book I introduce you to the absolute Masters of four interrelated modes of transformation: resistance training, cardiovascular training, nutrition and psychology. This is the age of fitness confusion. What actually works? What is patently bogus? How is the average civilian to differentiate between the truly profound and the slick commercial product draped in sly, sultry seductive garb? What better way to introduce you to truly effective modes and methods than to introduce you to the absolute Masters of the four realms.

Every intelligent fitness regimen needs a progressive resistance element, a cardiovascular element and a nutritional element. I add a psychological element because mental recalibration is the most neglected aspect of the transformational process. If you want to get your facts straight about resistance training, learn from a resistance Master. If you want to get your facts straight about cardiovascular training, quiz a cardio genius. If you want to get your facts straight about nutrition, listen to those who have decades of experience in that arena. If you want to get your facts straight about recalibrating your brain to better aid the transformational effort, expose yourself to hardnosed psyche Masters.

I have selected fifteen Giants, men who’ve made indelible marks in their respective fields of expertise. You can see a hell of a lot further standing on the shoulders of Giants: the vista is not obscured by the fitness dwarfs and pygmies that clutter the view at ground level.

In this day and age everyone frantically seeks the next breakthrough, innovation or angle. I say unequivocally: Old School methodology is the modern solution for achieving true physical transformation. Be done with the jive seduction. Be done with the illusion that somewhere there exists an effortless way. Sink your teeth into something substantive. The transformational procedures of the true Masters lie between the two covers of this book.

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

In 1927 G.I. Gurdjieff wrote Meetings with Remarkable Men. In it he spoke of his encounters with various mystics: the Armenian Sarkis Pogossian, the Russian Prince Yuri Lubovedsky, Ekim Bey, Professors Karpenko and Skridlov, plus an odd assortment of seers and occultists. In describing these characters Gurdjieff wove their stories into his own story. He tells of his interactions with spiritual masters in Central Asia and calls this group The Seekers of Truth.

Since 1962 I too have been on my own journey. I too am a seeker of truth. I too have experienced my own version of Meetings with Remarkable Men. Instead of mystics and