What It Takes To Be A Monster: Lessons In Training and Life

Note from James:  I was pumped when Zach agreed to put this piece together.  He truly embodies the notion of being a monster in training (see 705lbs deadlift below) and life, and I think the information he provides below is a game changer.  Enjoy!

Have you ever tried the last level of Super Mario Bros?

You know...the one where you're attempting to get to Bowser's lair.

It's hard as shit right?  And incredibly frustrating.

All you want more than anything in the world is to complete the level, but the game does everything in its power to prevent you from doing so by placing obstacle after obstacle in your way.

One minute you're cruising along, and then all of sudden you get swallowed up by some lava, harassed by a koopa paratroopa, hit by one of those annoying cheep cheep's, or wrecked by a firebar.

Cue throwing of controller.

What if you had a cheat code though?  One that turned Mario into a monster fully capable of handling each and every obstacle he would encounter on his journey.

Wouldn't that have helped?

Well that's what I'm hear to talk about today.

But instead of talking about Mario, I'm really talking about you and you're training because the stories are one in the same.

Regardless of where you are in training and/or life, you have a goal, and the path to achieving that goal is filled with obstacles like lava, firbars and koopa paratroopas.

In order to get past the many obstacles in your way, you need a few things.

For starters, you need programming and nutrition specific to you because you have to know what you are doing in the gym and in the kitchen for everything to come together.

But those two things are only part of the equation.

To really be a monster you need the following:

Positive Mind

Positive mind is first on the list because I believe this is the most crucial piece. When all else fails, this is the go to because this journey is all a mindset.

Before embarking on a mission, you must really let it sink in.

Ask yourself, how bad do you want it, and if the answer is "I want it," then scratch the idea all together because you don't want it bad enough.

You must sweat, twitch, itch, cry, perk up, and think deeply. Your eyes should be popping out of your head. It should not be a want anymore, it becomes a need. It becomes your lifestyle.

Don't put energy into something you "kinda" want.

Usually something drastic has to happen to get to this point--a real eye opener.

Maybe it's losing/winning a competition or game, failing/acing a test, or losing/getting a job.  Either way, you must remember the feeling of that moment and don't let it go.

Once you are at this point, then you can proceed to start the mission.

I believe that the battle is won and lost at this point. How bad do you want it?


Once the positive mindset is in place, consistency will almost fall into place on its own.

There will be days where you don't want to make or prepare food. There will be days you don't want to go to sleep/wakeup early. There will be days where weight feels extra heavy. There will be days where weight feels extra light.

Respect all of these feelings.

Don't look into it too much.

Revert back to that positive mindset. Remember what you set out for to begin with.

This is all part of the journey. Don't question what happens. It happens for a reason. It could always be worse.

You are going to eat shit no matter how strong you are. It is all a matter of enjoying eating shit. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. It will never get easier, and it should not be crippling bad.

Find that fine balance of “perfectly way too much,” and know the difference between uncomfortable and pain.


Stay within yourself.

It sounds so simple, but the weight will win 10 times out of 10.

There is always a weight out there that will absolutely bury you, which will lead to injury or horrific form. If you get injured then you just accomplished the exact opposite of our goal, and if you have ugly form then there will be a ceiling on how strong you can get and it will probably lead to injury anyways.

Numbers are numbers, but you can’t measure effort. I can deadlift 500 pounds without any effort; this is actually where I start on deads. But I treat that 500lbs like it is my max. I go in with the same mentality, and respect the weight.

Weight is all relative, so 500lbs to me might be 400lbs to you, but never overlook that 400lbs.

Apply more effort to everything you do, squeeze harder, no need to worry about numbers just yet.

And this isn’t just for deadlift, it applies to everything.

You have to be calm and cool during training. What do you have to be afraid of? You are a human...the baddest fucking species on this planet.

However,there is something out there that can stop you:  YOURSELF.

Mental/Physical Progression

Just sit back and take a deep breathe. I’m serious, do this now.

Take a big breath in; fill up your stomach and upper back with air. Now breathe out ALL of your air. When you think there is no more air, push out that last little bit. Now pause for 2 seconds, you must earn your next breath. And repeat.

That was just the most basic of corrective exercises, and if done properly you should feel different right now. Mental and physical change just happened.

If that was too much and you got confused, we need to take a step back because that is the most simple of tasks. We breathe more than we do anything, so why not perfect something so simple.

My goal is to get you to master the little things, and I promise the big things will fall into place. I don’t want you to come into this program anxious. This is a tedious process, and you will have to do things that feel uncomfortable.

I would rather you feel uncomfortable and annoyed over getting injured.

Have a goal in mind, and do not lose sight of that goal, so when it gets uncomfortable or tedious you will continue to push through.

about the author


Zach Hadge is a World Champion strongman, Super Mario Bro extraordinaire, and overall monster in both training and life. He’s here to show you the doors, to tell you when its time to grease the hinges, pick the lock, find a new door, or just bust the door down completely. The only other thing he asks for in return is effort.  Follow Zach on Instagram (@hadge_brothers) for all the latest happenings.