Shrugged Collective

Built by The Iron

On Episode 177 of Barbell Shrugged, we shared a little of our training history.

In total, Mike, Doug and I have been pursuing strength collectively for over 50 years. Our mileage is high, but the clear upside of all that barbell time is that it’s the source of countless hard-earned lessons and immense personal change.

We didn’t have time to get into why we started training on this show. Maybe we’ll do that soon. But until then, I’d like to start by sharing one of my biggest influences growing up, and a huge reason why I started lifting weights – Henry Rollins.

One of my big influences, Henry Rollins. 


In the early 90’s I came across a magazine article written by Henry entitled, Iron and the soul. I already knew about him from Black Flag, a band I watched all the time on MTV’s old Headbanger’s Ball. But this was the first time I had ever heard him talk about training, why he started lifting weights, and what it really means to be strong.

I’ve gone back and read that article every year or so for my entire lifting career, it’s that good. Henry has now captured that story on his new podcast, and I have to say, it’s a must-listen for anyone who’s into training and wants to get strong.

CLICK, enjoy, and share.


I’ve always identified with Henry because we both seemed to be punk middle-class ADD kids. The only difference was that he was a skinny runt who spent a lot of time crammed against school lockers, while I was your average fat kid who carried around a lot more than his body weight.

But Henry made it. He worked his ass off, took the risks and made himself into a rock front man, spoken-word artist, actor, writer, publisher, you name it. I always told myself that there was nothing stopping me from doing the same damn thing. In fact, I haven’t stopped saying that.

In Henry’s case, his strength journey began with his 8th-grade history teacher, a quiet, very intense, jacked Vietnam Vet named Mr. Pepperman. Apparently, this was an impressive guy who wasn’t beyond snatching teenagers over his head in class to set examples and establish respect. A real no bullshit kind of guy, you know?

“Hello, I’m Mr. Pepperman. Walk in, sit down, open your book and shut your mouth.”

Mr. P trained, and he could tell that Henry was curious about that. He could also see for himself that there was no better candidate for barbell work. Henry had shit confidence and no real direction at home, but he was willing to listen and he worked super hard. So, Mr. Pepperman kicked Henry a hard truth that would change his life forever.

“You’re a skinny little (insert expletive here). You need to lift weights, and I’m going to show you how.”


Mr. Pepperman’s simple strength lessons apply just as well today, to any person and any situation:

  • Stick to the basic, big movements. A barbell is all you need to transform your body forever.
  • Record everything. You cannot make progress and change unless you measure thoroughly all along the way.
  • Increase your load by no more than 5-pounds a week on any given movement. That’s not a universal truth, and certainly changes with training experience, but you’re always better off being patient.

All this help came for free, but there was one condition in place. Henry was not allowed to look at himself at all for the next few months, from the start of fall semester on through Christmas break.

The motive was simple – he wanted Henry to be focused on the work. The daily habit of piling up repetitions is what matters most in building strength. It helps to be highly focused. Also, having a senior father figure type coach to guide you and engage with makes all the difference in the world.

If you think you’re weak, just consider where Henry began. Under Mr. P’s direction he went out and bought a 100-pound department store weight set, but then struggled to load it into his own car when it was time to take it home. But he wouldn’t stay weak for long.

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Strength is power.

Henry stuck to his promise. Week after week, he avoided mirrors and any glimpse of himself, but of course he noticed the changes. Within a month, he started to get picked for teams in gym class, which was a brand new development. He was also always hungry, as evidenced by his typical lunch of a double hamburger with six cartons of whole milk. That’s always a great sign that your training is heading in the right direction.

By the time Henry was allowed to look at himself at Christmas, a full metamorphosis had taken place. He was no bodybuilder, of course. That’s not something you can achieve with just a few months work. But he did have biceps and big back muscles now. He looked very strong, precisely because his kept his focus on the daily effort, not the reward.Henry’s reaction, once he did finally look in the mirror, say’s it all.

“I’d run from me.”

Bigger muscles are great for all sorts of reasons, there’s little doubt. But weights don’t lift themselves. The primary reward that comes with heavy barbell training is an incredible sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Strength is something you earn, repetition by repetition. When you lift heavy barbells, you are empowered, both physically and mentally. Your point of view is strengthened. Your voice grows distinct and loud. All in all, a physically stronger you is a much better you. That’s the real lesson of The Iron. It doesn’t matter where you’re starting. Pick a time of day, go to the gym and hit it, no matter what’s in the way. That kind of habit and commitment that will transform your life.


Come lift heavy barbells with us. Check out our all-new Shrugged Strength Challenge.


I won’t lie, it would be a dream come true to have Henry on Barbell Shrugged to talk training and life. Fortunately, YOU can help me make that happen! 🙂

A big thanks to Henry, and also to Mr. Pepperman. Sir, you ended up changing a lot of lives for the better. We will always work as hard as possible to pay the favor forward and do the same.



For More


Chris Moore is a writer, recovering meathead, fledgling raconteur and rabid imbiber. He's also cohost and resident potty mouth on Barbell Shrugged, a weekly podcast devoted to Crossfit, strength, fitness and all things brash. His experience is drawn from over twenty-years spent training for and competing in American Football, Powerlifting, a bit of strongman and a dash of mixed martial arts. Also, it's possible that he's had one too many cups of coffee. A caffeine fever is a hell of a thing, you know?


  • Henry’s incredibly responsive to those who get in touch with him through his website. Give him a shout, you might not get an interview but I’d bet he’d respond knowing you wrote this.

  • Awesome article. Henry Rollins is a true genius in a world of fakes. Am starting to lift myself June 1st and have no clue what to do. This article helps a bit!!! Thanks!!

  • Getting him on the show would be the greatest thing ever! The man can talk about any topic and somehow captivate every person in the room through unabashed honesty and genuine, extreme enthusiasm.

  • My age, past 50, throwing weights around 30+ years, Black Flag I really never got into. That being said, I’m a huge fan of Henry. There are very few people that can speak so openly with knowledge and passion as Henry does.
    I’d love to hear hear an episode with him. My favorite quote “Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.” and yes, I’ve actually used that in business presentations.

  • Henry got me motivated to start lifting by watching his live gigs on vhs. Started with aerobics, push ups and chin ups. That started the bug to enhance that with weights and soon enough it motivated my friends and brother to start lifting too. I guess they saw my results and increasing sense of confidence. Then it pushed my running to the point where I completed the LA Marathon 2005. Life took it’s toll on me thereafter and put on a ton of weight but it’s giving me the bug to start lifting again.

  • Three people have influenced, shaped, formed and guided my training life. I’ve been lifting for over 30 years, I run a great little S+C gym in Cardiff (Wales), I have 3 great kids and a fantastic wife. I genuinely owe this all to Arnie, Bruce Lee and Henry Rollins. Arnie and Bruce were aspirational Gods from Olympus, who breathed that rarified air that only immortals can breathe. I felt I could admire but never replicate them.
    Rollins wasn’t aspirational, he was inspirational. I could do what he did. I could become what he became. Middle-class with issues? Yep. More geek then jock? Oh yes. As likely to be found with his face in a book then in the weight-room? Yeah buddy.
    He showed me that you could be strong yet humble. That you could be a Badass but a good man. That consistency, commitment and the ability to put your head down and grind and grind and grind trumps everything else.
    I love what you Barbell shrugged boys are doing. Changing S+C one podcast at a time.
    Peace and love.

  • My roommate an ex-Marine, I mean a ret. Marine, once a marine always a marine, gave me a Black Flag tape when we were in our twenties, a cassette tape that I listened to in my Alpine car stereo. I remember cranking his version of “Louie Louie” I had only know the version my Dad’s band played and Rollins’ one was intense. I always thought, this guy is fucking intense, then I saw him and knew he was intense. Lesson learned, grow mentally & physically as a human and you can do anything, do not remain stagnant.

  • Chris,
    I will absolutely be contacting Mr. Rollins to collaboratively influence him for Barbell Shrugged. I recently wrote an article for our website referencing Henry Rollins article and my transformation as a high school lifter. 20 years later I still think back to his article and how weight training is such a big and powerful part of my life. The iron never lies to you. Love it and good luck.

    Keep up the awesomeness,


  • Chris,
    On one of the shows either you or Mike mentioned the greens supplement that you take daily. If I remember correctly the supplementation was Protein shakes at times(sometimes just more meat), creatine daily, greens daily, zma daily.



  • […] “La fuerza es algo que se gana, repetición a repetición. Cuando levantas pesas pesadas, te sientes poderoso, tanto física como mentalmente. Tu punto de vista se ve reforzado. Tu voz crece clara y fuerte. Con todo, tú, físicamente más fuerte, eres una versión mucho mejor de ti. Esa es la verdadera lección de El Hierro. No importa dónde empiezas. Elija una hora del día, ve al gimnasio y levanta, no importa lo que está en el camino. Ese tipo de hábito y compromiso transformará tu vida.” – Chris Moore. D.E.P. Built by The Iron- Barbell Shrugged. […]

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