Written by Team Juggernaut
Jon Andersen is a great white shark. Never at rest. Always moving. Always seeking. Always improving. Ever adapting. Devouring obstacles and silently moving on into the cold, dark waters.
It was only natural that Jon would eventually get around to Olympic weightlifting. He had resisted for years. He had done exceedingly well at Strongman and power lifting. He had enjoyed a fantastic career as an internationally recognized pro-wrestler. Now it seemed obvious to him that this was the next link in his progression as a strength athlete.
The thing is, anyone who has ever tried to casually segue into Olympic weightlifting will casually tell you it’s fucking impossible.
Many of the world’s strongest athletes are unable to smoothly make the transition. In fact very few power lifters or strongmen have successfully made the switch, often lacking the speed and flexibility required to snatch and clean and jerk. There are some exceptions to the rule: two time Olympian Mark Henry had some amazing numbers as a power lifter; Shane Hamman is still the greatest super-heavyweight in American weightlifting history with truly world class results and he was a world class power lifter who squatted over a thousand pounds; Caleb Williams is a junior World record holder in power lifting and is a current US national weightlifting champion and world team member.
Needless to say I was skeptical. Jon is unbelievably fast for a man as muscle-bound as him. He’s fast by any standards. And extremely powerful. He can jump higher than most athletes half his size.
Jon’s limitations in the Olympic lifts are due to his incredible lack of flexibility. Years ago Jon wanted to work on his speed and explosive power. He knew if he was going to compete as an international strongman he would have to learn to snatch. But his gigantic pecs and shoulders prevented him from achieving the range of motion needed to do a full snatch. Rather than change his methodology Jon adapted his weaknesses and used them to his benefit. We decided to do clean grip snatches. This is a great exercise used to develop shoulder mobility and an aggressive top pull. For Jon it meant not having to move his grip out collar to collar.
He became extremely proficient at it. During one of our legendary Deep Water sessions Jon Andersen clean grip snatched 115kg/253lbs for 35 consecutive reps. No straps. No rest. No shit.
But this time around Jon was serious. He figured if he was going to do it he would do it right. Jon jumped head first into Olympic weightlifting, applying his Deep Water methodology to his workouts. He progressed fast, quickly adapting to the new type of fuel system he was operating. Soon he was doing sets of 10 in the snatch with 125 kilos/275lbs.
I was amazed and a bit pissed off at how easily Jon adapted. There isn’t much I am better than him at. Snatching is definitely high on that list. And I’ve always spouted about how hard it is to snatch. Needless to say I was a bit frustrated. I have barfed in front of Jon because of Jon more times than a man should ever barf in front of or because of another man. I saw this as my opportunity to pay him back for years of cramping and sickness in the gym. Instead he paid me back by becoming one of my star pupils.
Jon was doing the impossible. Again. Once again Jon proved that a strong mind with a strong body can accomplish anything. We made some goals and set a date for our first competition. I was ecstatic.
Just as we were gaining momentum Jon met one of his childhood idols. Achim Albrecht is a former IFBB Mr. Universe who later became a pro wrestler under the name Brakkus. Achim instantly recognized Jon’s raw potential as a bodybuilder and offered to train him for the 2014 Governor’s Cup.
The bodybuilding world was a complete mystery to Jon. The dieting, the training… All of it was foreign to him. Even more foreign than Olympic weightlifting. At least he had been doing power cleans and jerks every few days for as long as he could remember. This was new territory for Jon. For Jon this was a far tougher path. A far greater challenge. Picking up heavy things quickly had become a way of life for Jon. He had been doing it for years. Olympic weightlifting was just a more challenging version and it wasn’t going anywhere.
Body building was new to him. Very different and very unknown. He was looking into the abyss and he loved it. His Deep Water workouts had conditioned his mind to embrace the unknown. To always swim into the deepest, darkest waters and forge the tougher path.
He had no idea that the next 15 weeks would be the toughest, most challenging physical journey he had ever taken.
At the start of his preparation for the Governor’s Cup Jon was gigantic. By the time he hit the stage he was a hard, lean super-hero.
He was by far the largest and most heavily muscled competitor. It is surreal to see that much dense, quality muscle packed onto a human frame. In fact the man weighing Jon in could hardly believe the scale.
“I haven’t weighed anyone in that big since… ever.” He muttered as Jon gently stepped off the scale.
Onstage he is confident and commanding. His years as a pro athlete have given him something that can’t be taught: presence. He is a showman.
At 42 his back is thicker and more heavily muscled than anyone onstage with him. It is denser than any of his competitors. None of them ever shouldered the tonnage that Jon has. The muscle quality is undeniable. Forged by decades of pushing his body’s limits, moving gigantic implements and grappling other behemoths.
Jon dominated his class and the open division in his first ever body building competition. If you saw him on stage you would think that he did it easily and that there was never any doubt. And you’d be half correct. There was nothing easy about it and there was never any doubt.
In reality preparing for this contest Jon stretched himself to his limits both physically and mentally. He relied heavily on his Deep Water principles to get him through his darkest hours. He constantly reminded himself that he purposefully chose the more difficult path. That the only way to succeed is to overcome big obstacles.
The reality is Jon’s dedication to hard work and intensity always yields big results. The reality is Jon is always searching for ways to grow and adapt. He knows the gains are found in the pain. He knows the pain is nowhere near the sunny, cozy beach but way off-shore where the water is rough and the outcome is unsure. That’s where the treasure is: in the Deep Water.