Pictured above, you will see a man who could probably crack walnuts with his traps and or spinal erectors.
- A man so unequivocally brutal that he is referred to as "a real man" in a country run by a violent psychopath who wrestles bears and conquers the Ukraine, shirtless and on horseback, in his free time.
- A man who once stuck a lit cigarette up a bull's ass and lived to tell the tale (Butov).
- A man who set 68 world records in Olympic Weightlifting as 198 lb lifter (yeah, the dude above was 198, so feel free to start slitting your wrists now), won six world championships in Olympic weightlifting and snagged a gold at the 1976 Olympics.
- A man whose gym lifts were the height of ridiculousness: he squatted 300kg x 6, deadlifted 400kg from a 15cm box, strict military pressed 170kg, push pressed 220kg, jerked 260kg (after his retirement at around 100kg), snatched 200kg, power snatched 160kg, power cleaned 200kg, and benched 210kg with his motherfucking feet in the air (All Things Gym).
- A man who is currently the coach of the Russian Olympic Weightlifting powerhouse
- ... and a man who chain smoked during training and meets, and who would slam shots of vodka in the warm up room at meets between his warmup sets (Van Vleck).
Yup, all of that boozing and smoking certainly took it's toll on ol' Davie Boy's physique.
"So fucking what?", you might be saying. "Everyone knows smoking will kill you and my mom said drinking is bad and the kids on Bodybuilding.com say drinking and smoking and masturbating is bad and girls have cooties and only people on steroids weigh more than 150 lbs.!", might be your follow up. This is, of course, because you've been snowed by the popular media and know about as much about the world around you as a sea cucumber might know about the aerodynamics of helicopters. As we've already covered extensively (here and here), alcohol consumption, even to Gary Busey-esque levels of violent, dangerous, irresponsible, and flirting-with-alcohol-poisoning-because-it's-tuesday levels, is not only not deleterious to training, but it may in fact help your training. This flies in the face of what MADD, teetotalers, Christians, the mentally challenged, and virgins might have to say on the subject, but as they're all generally incorrect whenever they open their mouths, this should come as no surprise.
Lesson: Just because everyone seems to agree on something does not make it so. Remember- people are fucking stupid.
Likewise, it appears that while smoking shortens your lifespan, it makes those years you have on the Earth markedly better, because it raises your testosterone, drastically lowers your chances of suffering from neurological disorders, improves memory, attention and psychomotor speed, stimulates blood vessel growth, and drastically speeds fat loss (Wang, English, Phillips, Andersson). Let's pause a moment while you drink that in, shall we? We'll take a moment and look at some anecdotal evidence we can pile atop the Rigert example.
- Arthur Saxon smoked like a smoke stack at the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works in the 1990s. According to Thomas Inch, "Arthur seemed to have an objection to going to bed at a reasonable hour and often sat up right through the night smoking, playing billiards, even lifting at three or four in the morning (Inch).
- During the halcyon days of weightlifting and powerlifting in the 1970s (you know, when people actually lifted weights and got strong rather than endlessly kvetching over bullshit like buttwinks and jacking off to other peoples' lifting videos), people smoked in the gym. "Cigarette smoke often filled the gym and the ash tray was next to the chalk box" and people used to take "a drag off [their] cigarette, [set] it on the edge of the platform (with the “cherry” end dangling off the edge) and [hit] a set of power cleans" and then resume smoking (Van Vleck).
- The half hour breaks one sees in Bulgarian training routines do not exist so lifters can catch their breath and lay down- they are pre-programmed smoking breaks, because European weightlifters traditionally take frequent smoke breaks during training and many Oly lifters still smoke regularly, even with the mounting prohibitions on smoking in Europe (Starting Strength, Lowe).
Smoking does a body good.
- The Chinese Olympic weightlifting training center's floor is littered with cigarette butts (Larry).
- Bodybuilder and mini-Godzilla Markus Ruhl smoked during contest prep to speed fat loss and help build muscle (Daily Motion)
- Olympic weightlifting great Naim "Pocket Hercules" Suleymanoglu was an avowed heavy smoker (Smith).
- Legendary old-timey wrestler and strongman George Lurich was a legendary drinker and frequent smoker who shocked the shit out of George Hackenschmidt with his "unhealthy" ways on the way to kicking Hack's ass in wrestling and being one of the first people to jerk over 400 lbs (Hackenschmidt).
Look at the toll smoking and drinking took on poor Lurich's physique! Let's all take a moment of silence to mourn his utter lack of physical strength, lean body mass, and the fact he couldn't afford pants.
Smoking takes ten years off your life. Well it's the ten worst years, isn't it folks? It's the ones at the end! It's the wheelchair, kidney dialysis, adult diaper fucking years. You can have those years! We don't want 'em, alright?
- Denis Leary
Sloots, how I love thee.
Now, I realize that you're still likely highly skeptical, and for that I cannot blame you. What is amusing, however, is that the very same person who popularized smoking in the United States and who fomented a significant portion of the women's lib movement by associating it with smoking was the father of modern public relations, Edward Bernays. Quite the slippery little fuck, Bernays essentially invented modern propaganda techniques, and his methods were so effective that infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels based his entire methodology on Bernays... in spite of the fact Bernays was a Jew. As such, you might want to consider the possibility that the media has been used to manipulate your thinking on the subject of smoking, driven by a variety of "public interest" groups who may not have your best interests at heart. I'm not saying smoking is good for you, but there is absolutely no justification for the current wave of smoker vilification that basically likens your average smoker not only to a child molester, but ones with 12" cocks who preys solely upon tiny infants with infinitesimally small vaginas and anuses.
Average smoker's van in the US.
There also might be a correlation between endurance performance and smoking, which probably strikes you as impossible but is, in fact, a thing. A cursory Google search reveals that there are a lot of endurance athletes who smoke, and they're all entirely on the defensive against the smoking community at large for their decision to have higher test levels than everyone else. In the review paper "Cigarette smoking: an underused tool in high-performance endurance training", however, author Kenneth Myers states that:
"Cigarette smoking has been shown to increase serum hemoglobin, increase total lung capacity and stimulate weight loss, factors that all contribute to enhanced performance in endurance sports. Despite this scientific evidence, the prevalence of smoking in elite athletes is actually many times lower than in the general population. The reasons for this are unclear; however, there has been little to no effort made on the part of national governing bodies to encourage smoking among athletes" (Myers).Amusingly, one of the studies on which Myers bases his argument shows that increased serum hemoglobin is also found in heavy drinkers, which could help explain how David Rigert got through his marathon training sessions (Milman).
The tragically under-muscled Rigert.
Next, we can move on to the myriad other positive effects of smoking- namely, the aforementioned lowering of your chances of suffering from neurological disorders, improvement of memory, attention and psychomotor speed, stimulation of blood vessel growth, and drastically improved fat loss. All of these benefits come from the much maligned ingredient nicotine, which is an alkaloid that acts as a stimulant in mammals. Though it's been vilified in recent years for its addictive properties (some organization called Drug War facts has ranked it more addictive than heroin), nicotine has a wide array of health benefits. Namely, it:
- can be used to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (Newhouse)
- improves cognition, memory, and attention span (Warburton)
- promotes blood vessel growth and circulation (Heeschen)
- improves reaction time (Newhouse)
- reduces depression (Duke)
Dennis Wolf being very busy with being bigger and leaner than you.
So, it seems we can put this particular baby to bed. Smoking might kill you eventually, but it is certainly not going to kill your gainz and it's not going to hurt your training. Quite the contrary- it has the potential to make you smarter, leaner, and stronger. So, smoke 'em if you got 'em, because no matter how much you smoke, you're always be David Rigert's bitch.
Frankly, though, I'd rather be her bitch.
Up next, weed and hash- will they fuck up your gainz? We shall see.
Sources:Andersson K, Arner P. Systemic nicotine stimulates human adipose tissue lipolysis through local cholinergic and catecholaminergic receptors. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Aug;25(8):1225-32.
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