My name is Alexey Zinchenko. I am a strength teacher and an athlete, an independent fitness writer, and the author of RoughStrength.com. I live in Kiev, Ukraine, and my goal is to share with you all the crazy ideas in my head regarding strength training, nutrition, mental toughness, and some life wisdom.
In my childhood, I have never really been into any sport except, I guess, football (in USA it is called soccer), but those days you could rarely find kids here in Ukraine that don’t play football all their free hours (there were no iPods and iPads at that time; heck, there were even no computers). At that time, I was taught how to do Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, and Dips by my dad (and I am really thankful for that). And again, here in Ukraine you can rarely find a male that can just walk by the pull-up and/or dip bars. It is inevitable that he will jump on them and crank out a couple of reps. As you can see, I was introduced to physical culture at pretty young age. However, that all ended without even starting.
The next stage was the gym. Again, I was introduced to it by my dad (and again, I cannot be more thankful). You probably won’t find such gyms nowadays, especially outside the post-Soviet Union space. It was a room on the first floor of a regular for Ukraine 9-floor building. It was pretty small. This room could barely handle 30 people at once (20 at best). There were no machines. Pull-up bar, dip bars, one pair of squat stands, two benches, 3-4 barbells, a very poor set of dumbbells (and by poor I mean that there were probably 3-4 pairs), and that’s all. A far cry from a modern commercial gym, or as they prefer to call it – fitness club. There were a couple of big men training, so I got acquainted with one of them and began to absorb the knowledge. He taught me the right things like concentrate on basic exercises, use progressive resistance, etc. So then I thought: “Why not listen to more people?” That was a pretty stupid idea. I “learned” that Full Squats make your butt so big that it don’t fit the trousers, that Close Grip Bench Press works the inner part of the pectoral muscles, that you need to blast your biceps with 5 exercises, and loads of other crap. I don’t recall why, but after some time, I decided to change the gym.
The second gym was pretty much the same. I remember one day of winter when that small room was overcrowded with 33 people! There was a row of at least 3 people to every implement. It was impossible to do Bench Press that day. The training went well at that time (or I thought it went well), but it had to stop.
I was diagnosed with a disease that required operation. I will never forget that day. The stress was so high that I urinated with blood. I was pretty lucky and operation ended good, but there was another problem. Doctors said that I could lift no more than 3 kg off the floor for the rest of my life. I was depressed. Just imagine taking a candy from a baby, and multiply it million times. So I followed the advice for at least a year. Then everything became worse. Lack of exercise is a powerful human destroyer. I became lazy, I had low energy, I was depressed all the time. I forgot the feeling of happiness. I started drinking booze. And sometimes I was drinking to blackout. I knew that things can’t stay like this.
So I fucked up doctor’s advice and started lifting weights again. And you know what? All the symptoms were gone. I was happy again. I burned substantial amounts of fat and built some muscle. I got stronger. Everything seemed to be at the right place. However, in 2010, one thing happened. My girlfriend’s mom got seriously ill, and she needed blood. It turned out that I have blood-type that matches, as well as my mom and dad. So I didn’t hesitate and made the right thing. We came to the clinics, made some tests and got prepared to donate blood. If you haven’t experienced Ukrainian hospitals, then you are a lucky person. Those are dark places with smell of piss and chlorine, lonely broken hallways and an atmosphere of desperation. My father donated first and I was the second. When I lied there and pushed my hand through a little window, I had a bad feeling. Here in Ukraine there are two ways to donate blood: 225 ml and 450 ml. I had chosen 450. At 350, the blood almost stopped. “Very smart” nurse said to make a fist to squeeze some more blood from me. That was a bad decision.
When I came back and sat right next to my dad, I felt pretty bad. You know, light-headed. I remember just telling him that I better lie down. The next thing I understand that I was being hit in my chest right where my heart is. They told me that I had a collapse and my heart stopped for a minute. My dad saved my life (he is the best man ever).
After recovering, I had a little fear to go to the gym (I guess you understand why), but at that time, I couldn’t imagine my life without strength training. So I started developing the system that will allow me to train at home just as effectively as in the gym. I already was familiar with kettlebells and sandbags (thanks to Mike Mahler, Pavel Tsatsouline, Brooks Kubik, Steve Cotter and other awesome guys). It took lots of time to make a system that works, and I am proud that I succeeded. In addition, I decided to add bodyweight training to the mix to make everything even more fun and well-rounded.
Then I had an enlightment. If my system is so awesome and works so well, then I can share it with the world through the internet. That is how Rough Strength was born. Everything else is history.
Rough Strength Doctrine
The goal of Rough Strength is to educate and help people in reaching their health and fitness goals rough. And by ‘rough’ I mean without any luxuries and conveniences, with anything you have at hand. Pure raw strength is, of course, the number one priority. And as the old-time strongman Georg Hackenschmidt said: “Strength is health”. You should remember that due to the natural selection only the strongest will survive. And you might want to be the one of them.
Rough Strength is about discovering your primal potential. I’m not saying here that you should give up all the modern conveniences and go live in caves. Despite the fact that it would be beneficial for some people, in general, it would be not well-thought-out.
Rough Strength is not only about training. It’s about overall mental toughness and creative force buried deep inside you. Training is the unique tool to attain something more than strength or size, or leanness. It can help you develop mental strength and even superhuman qualities that will carry over to all areas of your life.
Why Rough Strength?
Long time ago gyms were sanctuaries of strength and power. Experts say that if you haven’t pressed 90 kg (200 lbs) barbell overhead, you were considered weak and newbie. Every man in York Barbell Club could do at least one One-Arm Chin-Up no matter what their weight was. Some strongmen could shoulder 100 kg (225 lbs) sandbag with one arm. Many feats of strength of that time weren’t replicated today (even with all the supplements, equipment and steroids). Every man sought strength aggressively. Today’s situation is quite opposite. People go to the gym to ‘tone up’, to work their rear delt and outer thigh, to socialize, to pick up chicks, whatever. It seems that strength training is the last thing they go there for. It is pity because people are wasting time and space among useless machines. Natural strength enthusiast can find gyms quite annoying with all that crap. In my opinion, Rough Strength is the solution.
Rough Strength Mission
So what is it? The mission of Rough Strength lies in:
- educating you;
- showing you that things can be done differently;
- giving you more freedom;
- challenging conventional thinking regarding strength training and nutrition;
- helping you to reach your fitness goals in more effective, efficient and fun ways.
I’ll reveal you a big secret. Regular commercial gyms are dead. Not because they are unprofitable (believe me, they bring A LOT of money to their owners). They are dead because of the imbecile system and low value to customers. Just imagine a regular commercial gym. To get access to training equipment, you must pay for the membership. Of course, you are probably not educated enough to build an effective training program. So you need to pay a personal trainer too, which is the right thing to do. But how do you know that this personal trainer is not a moron who just injects megadoses of testosterone and human growth hormone (or any other steroids)? How do you know that he is qualified enough to show you the proper path to results? How do you know that he is not just smiling to you while hurting your health? There’s almost no way you can answer these questions. Besides, I know the industry from the inside. Read any educational book for personal trainers. It says: “Personal trainer’s first objective is to sell the service”. How can that possibly be more wrong?
This shit pisses me off big time. Remember, any respectable personal trainer’s primary goal should be helping people not selling more. And I’m here to help you not make mistakes. Gyms are dead, but the knowledge is alive. The goal of my blog is to educate you. Don’t believe lies. You CAN gain strength, build muscle and lose fat without gym memberships. You CAN gain strength, build muscle and lose fat without supplements. You CAN gain strength, build muscle and lose fat without steroids. But you can’t do all that without knowledge, discipline, dedication and hard work.
“Quit your job. Start a fight!”
The classic quote from the book/movie “Fight Club” fits our issue perfectly. Quit your gym. Start a fight! Train rough. There are so many options you’re missing and from which you will benefit tremendously. Don’t be a slave of the mass culture. Do not know where to start? Start here.
There are times in life when you need to play rough to succeed. And this time is now. Be serious and consistent about getting results and let me help you in attaining them.
P.S. To avoid any misunderstanding here is some more information. I’m not a gymnast and don’t consider myself one. I’m not a doctor and won’t give you any medical advice. I’m not a scientist unless it’s bro science. If I write something, it’s all based on experience of my own and with my clients. So either deal with it or get the fuck out of my way.