Ashley Jones


Thirty two years ago this year as a nervous but excited 14 year old boy I climbed the steps of Vince Basile’s gym, American Health Spa, in Brookvale a suburb of Sydney.  I guess that was one of the first contradictions I experience throughout my life so far both in and out of the gym.  Since Vince was a Canadian and a former Mr Canada, why American Health Spa, I never did get to ask him that question, but I digress.

Vince put me on a diet of the basics an encouraging word and a gym filled with photos of the greats and most of the local power lifters and body builders trained in the same gym so advice and inspiration and motivation were never far away.  There was “Big Dennis: the biggest man I had seen as a naïve 14 year old, his training partner Pat, both were builders and bricklayers, they both looked more capable of demolishing buildings with their bare hands rather than constructing them.  There were a host of other guys but you two were the ones I remember the most, thanks.

I started reading Iron Man, taking desiccated liver, kelp and alfalfa tablets making foul smelling and worse tasting concoctions out of Soya bean protein in my mother’s kitchen.  I got stronger put on some weight played better rugby and I was hooked and thus the journey began.

The one thing they all pushed was technique a lesson learned so young lasts a lifetime, I have never been very strong but hopefully people would say I had good technique and that is a credit to all the guys at the gym who were never short of a word when you tried to lift with other than perfect technique.

So this year also marks the 30th anniversary of my first job in the sports conditioning and fitness industries. Thanks to Steve and Tony at the Nautilus Fitness and Leisure Centre in Crows Nest, Sydney for giving me the start that has become my livelihood. So please allow me a trip down memory lane as I work my way through the alphabet of my life in this wonderful industry to date, this will also give you readers a fair insight into my mentors and my philosophies as well, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed living it.

Atrophy or muscle tissue loss, avoidable to a major part of anyone partaking in an Active Aging, “tis better to wear out than to rust out” to the great man Dr O’Shea, you more than anyone else exemplified this to your last actions, passing away doing what you dedicated your life to strength training.

Bill Starr, you were the first author whose book I bought, “The Strongest shall survive”, no nonsense easy to follow advice that has stood the test of time, and you are still delivering the goods, I am honoured to have some of my ideas published in Milo with you.

Complexity, as Christian Thibedau puts it so eloquently, is the language of simple minds.  Why do so many people not get the most obvious, just look at the wood and forget about the trees, forget the window dressing and stick to the basics.  If your goal is to get big, eat and train hard, if you want to get the “cut” muscular look you have to be big first.  You can’t carve a spatchcock.

Dinosaur training and all alternate types of lifting from stones to truck tyres that provide unique methods for training all people, no matter what they want to achieve out of there lifting it provides new ways to motivate people who have become stagnated. To the man who brought his ideas to the world, Brooks Kubik, we are all better off for you putting pen to paper, cheers.

Empty bar, if it’s good enough for  “The King of the Jungle” Hossein Reza Zadeh to warm up with then I don’t need anyone else’s advice, particularly some expert saying, 50% of IRM for x number of repetitions.  Having been in the training hall prior to a world championship and chatted to other Coaches who have been to many other training halls nearly all the best lifters start with just the bar.

Frequency of training is dictated by your ability to recover.  About three years ago I had a free week, which I devoted to a training experiment.  I front squatted only for the entire week, three times a day, on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, two times a day on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday and only one workout on Sunday.  The volume and intensity was adjusted for each session, I ate like a horse and swam and lay in the sun and slept ten hours a night.  The result – 11% increase in my front squat and a 6% increase in my clean, even though I didn’t train it.

Gyms, not fitness centres or health spas, you all know the difference otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this journal if you need further reminding read Dave Tate’s excellent series in T-Nation archives on “Sick of your gym” or the Hard Core Gym Series in Powerlifting USA.  I am very lucky to have a rugby specific gym slowly being developed along Westside lines when that is no longer possible, it is back to the garage for me.

Hypertrophy, is straight forward and simple result of combining effective methods of training with a solid nutrition plan. Do not be in too great a hurry to get away from the exercises that most contribute to the foundation of size, Squat, Dead Lift, Bench , Bent Over Row and Shoulder Press, always have and always will be your mainstay to great physical size. As the legendary Reg Park, Arnold’s idol, once said, “show me a man who can Press 140kg above his head and I will show you someone who will never have to do DB Laterals in his life”.

Ima, the Japanese word for NOW, the most important time of your life, living each hour as the now and focussing your being on what you are doing, be it on the platform, coaching someone, training or being with the most important person in your life, “be in the now”.

Jim Schmidtz, 5,4,3,2,1 Done (Milo) among other classics exemplifies the logic that simplicity is rewarded with results.  If your goal is strength follow this philosophy and you will get stronger guaranteed.  Time is precious, why spend longer than you need follow the 80/20 rule, which states you can get 80% of the way in 20% of time.

Kairikido, the way of super human strength, permit a self indulgence my personal training philosophy (Milo) an amalgam of Olympic, Westside, Strongman/Dinosaur and bodyweight exercises and strategies to train all links in order to maximise strength and power performance.

Love what you do and do it with passion.  It is no coincidence that most successful people in any area of activity endeavour simply just love what they do.  So no matter what your desired training is commit to it with passionate resolve make it happen set your goals and work towards success with a fire in your soul, love in your heart and a smile on your face.

Milo,  Peary Rader (founder of IronMan) would be happy his life continues in all of us who read the advice offered in this superb publication, try the training routines and live with lifting as a part of our lives and you will be rewarded in far greater terms than size and strength because your spirit will soar and influence and motivate those who come into contact with you.

Neural system drives the muscular system, not the other way around, so ensure that irrespective of what you are weight training for include phases of neural activation work.  This will ensure that you learn to synchronise and recruit a higher proportion of your fast twitch fibres, which after all is where you will make your greatest gains in size, strength and rate of force production.

Olympic lifting, my personal favourite of the weight sports and my preferred style of training, speed, strength and flexibility nothing else comes close for me.  The joy of competing with the bar, sometimes I get a points decision in my favour, but most often the bar is a convincing winner, no matter, it is always rewarding and always fun.

Peary Rader’s, Iron Man magazine, the original, that inspired everyone who read the collected wisdom within the covers of this publication.  Anyone who is my age or older would have fond memories of the advice offered and the eager anticipation of the arrival of the next edition just as we do now with the quarterly bursts of Milo.

Quality over quantity anytime, whatever your training is for, junk sets eat into your training time elevate fatigue levels for no result and impair recovery.  Get in, train hard, get out.  Look at the Westside workouts very few if any appear to go over 60 minutes but how great is the intensity, as Poliquin I think once said if you are training for longer than an hour you are making friends.

Recover Big, the missing ingredient in most programs to ensure that you reach the goals you set for yourself, for it is in recovery that we reap the benefits of the workout, so with the equation holds the Train Big, Eat Big + Recover Big + Think Big = Get Big and Strong.  Simple really, not rocket science after all.

Simple is not bad, don’t waste half your training life looking for some unified theory of everything in order to get the results you want, get in the gym, lift as heavy as you can with good technique, don’t chop and change stick with it for six months and you will amaze yourself with your results.

Technique allows you to use the strength you have to maximum advantage. No short cuts, learn your trade, spend time under the bar, you need to maximise your technique to not only get stronger but to stay injury free and remember you are on show whenever and wherever you lift, be the best you can be.

Uesaka, the equipment of choice at the Olympics or if you are an Eleiko devotee, nothing comes close to the feel lifting with what the best of the best use and just for a brief moment as you chalk up and take your hook grip for a limit snatch attempt you are Khrapaty, I do have the mop of curly blonde hair but there the similarity ends, you nail a new PB and the legends are with you.

Verkhoshansky with Mel Siff responsible for Super training, a loadstone to get us back on track when so called “gurus” tried to dissuade us of the importance of strength one of the only books that sits permanently on my desk, always there for clarification and inspiration. Before this collaboration one of the great thinkers of training theory and coaching, for me the father of modern training theory as we know it and who I believe is writing his legacy to us all, which we wait for with eager anticipation.

Westside the proving ground of theories for producing most of the strongest power lifters and for getting the rest of us to think outside the square, to question our beliefs and to understand what works in getting anyone stronger. Louie and Dave, you and the lifters that prove week in and week out what works, need no introduction, but we owe you in no uncertain terms. Thanks.

Xtraordinary every time we walk into a gym we are leaving ordinary behind, we have broken away from the regression to the mean mentality that is leaving others physically and mentally destitute after all when all is said and done who wants to be ordinary anyway. There is a great poster with the slogan “obsessive is a word the weak use to describe the dedicated”, that and the Squat poem should adorn the walls of all weight rooms around the universe.

You choose your mental state and your mental state will dictate how you see life, as Helen Keller said “Life is a glorious adventure or nothing” will you accept the nothing, training is a part of this glorious adventure, it shouldn’t be a chore, enjoy the journey with passion igniting your spirit of adventure.

Zen philosophy I believe is a part of lifting the two most important being living in the moment, full concentration for that moment when you and the bar are connected as one, and mushin, not thought just action a perfection of technique that is waiting to be released.

Bring on the next 30 years, I hope some of what you have read touches your spirit, gets someone else started on the journey of a life time, thanks for reading.

“Yesterdays love is a pleasant memory
Future love is but a fantasy
Real love is here and now, today. “

Ashley Jones

Ashley Jones specialist in the physical preparation of rugby athletes. He has worked with professional sports teams that include Sydney Kings, Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eels, Northern Eagles, Crusaders, New Zealand All Blacks, and Australian Wallabies. Irish by Ancestry, Australian by Birth, Japanese by Accident and a Kiwi by Choice.

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