Author / John

photo (68)I recently visited the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports in Austin, Texas. The Stark Center is unique because it’s a museum that is dedicated to the history of strength training for sports, the athletes that changed what it meant to train and the cultures of training for different sports. They chose the term ‘Physical Culture’ to be all inclusive of activities:

 “people have employed over the centuries to strengthen their bodies, enhance their physiques, increase their endurance, enhance their health, fight against aging, and become better athletes.”

You won’t find any trophies or medals there.  Showcased are the tools, the stories, and the coaches responsible for the training that enabled athletes to become world class performers. There is a wide range of representation from different sports; Olympic weightlifters, bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongman, and even a wall dedicated to Tom Landry and his athletic career.

I had the opportunity to tour the museum with Stark Center Director Dr. Jan Todd (once the strongest woman in the world).  The tour was packed full of interesting stories about featured lifters and the equipment they have collected over the years, and even what she had trained for.


The history of weight training is mind blowing.  You see the introduction of equipment that resembles barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells dating back to ancient civilizations to the modern equipment, the development of weight training programs and everything in between. Whether you are an athlete, coach, or just enjoy training, take the time to view some of the history of strength training for sports here. Fun fact, even Ben Franklin picked heavy stuff up. I’ve also included some photos from the Stark Center, including some of the first barbells ever made that weren’t on display and a 300# dumbbell that has never been lifted.


Walking through the halls of the Stark Center was extremely motivating being surrounded by hundreds of athletes with their own unique story of putting in hours, suffering and achieving greatness. It was like watching Pumping Iron meets Over the Top meets Blood Sport. This is the museum dedicated to the process, no one is up on a wall unless they earned it. Each athlete knew what they were training for and had a goal. These are the most essential tools for success in your training.


You can follow the perfect program, dial in your nutrition and sleep to the most minute details, and have all the athletic potential in the world. If you don’t have reason to grind, keep focused, and push your mental and physical limits then you are destined to fall off.

‘What are you training for?’

The answer to that question needs to be sought out.  We ask it to everyone who contacts us.  IF they know the answer, we follow up with ‘What are your goals?’. Two intentionally separate questions.

‘WAYTF?’ goes a lot deeper than a goal. Goals can be measured and quantified.  They are the directional components of bio-markers of performance. What you are training for cannot. It’s a spark. It’s that persistent pursuit of perfection. It’s whatever you make it and it’s yours. There is a lot of power and inner strength behind knowing what you are training for. A lot of us do not get paid to train and our game days ended in college or high school, but here we are, still grinding.

What are you training for?

It’s more than a goal, it’s a state of mind.


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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


  1. Ingo B on July 3, 2013 at 11:15 am

    This is something that I’ve known viscerally, but could never articulate. Thanks for this.

  2. Steven Platek on July 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Agree with Ingo – superb write-up.
    makes me want to go pontificate THE question…

  3. dredlocked on July 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Impressive strength and power paired with an unexpected level of conditioning.

  4. Jackson on July 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Solid write up Tex.

  5. TRuss on July 3, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    A question my buddies and I have been kicking around a lot lately. If you get your squats and other lifts and hit a few workouts a week and mix in a little of whatever else floats your boat without specific goals, are you then just “exercising”? Is that such a bad thing if that’s how you get your jollies? I know I would generally like to get stronger. I don’t need to lose weight and wouldn’t mind adding a few lbs. I’m not all that worried about body fat %s or having abs. So What Am I Training For? I’m not sure…

    • Tex on July 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Nothin wrong with a little exercise. We’ve met a lot of people at certs that owe a lot of their life accomplishments and over coming odds to exercise and training. It often times holds a deeper meaning than simply exercise or training to some, just curious what is out there in the PA Nation.

  6. me on July 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I want to be ripped as a motherf****r, be as strong as an ox and have good muscular endurance aswell as very good cardio fitness (be able to do wods without feeling a major suck).
    Am I expecting too much or aiming too high? I dont know. But hell I want all of those things

  7. Denny K on July 10, 2013 at 8:20 am

    excellent article Tex. I like the Ben Franklin nugget…it reminds me of a quote I read recently from Socrates…“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

    Also I like the pic of Kaz…my favorite strength athlete…..one bad ass mofo..

    • Tex on July 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      That’s is great quote, especially knowing it was said 2500 years ago and is still relevant.
      There aren’t many pictures of Kaz up there, but I’d say having doors with his photo is pretty respectful of his power.

  8. Latinos on July 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    The most obvious answer, for me, is life. My dad has an oft-debilitatingly bad back thanks to years of sitting at a desk with very little strength training. His dad has ha multiple heart attacks and now can’t walk more than 30 feet without needing to rest. My mom’s dad has smoked a pack a day for several decades and is confined to a motorized wheelchair. As much as I love them, I don’t want any of that to be part of my life when I’m older. Plus, with my own daughter just months away, I want to set a good example of a healthy, active, strong lifestyle. Just my $.02

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  11. Josh W on July 14, 2013 at 11:42 am

    My response is coming a little late here, just read the post so not sure if anyone will read my response, but this peaked my interest in regard to WAYTF. I also struggle with that question. I love training, following a program, getting stronger and putting in the work to see gains. I will never be a great athlete, or a strong as the majority of you following the program but for whatever reason anxiously await the next workout around 4pm every day and get fired up for the hour to hour and a half each day that I go out into the heat of my garage and suffer through the pain. I am in my mid thirties and my body hurts most of the time but I love it. To echo some previous comments, my grandparents now suffer badly due to a life of inactivity, my parents seem to have learned their lesson and stay very active. I want my kids, 8 months and 4 years, to see their dad as the badass who trains his ass off and manages to not just be active but athletic while supporting a family and running a business. I have have done a lot of things throughout the years starting with high school and college athletics, to standard globo weight room stuff, P90X, CrossFit, etc… but this program speaks to me more than any other. I love the process, mentality and thought that goes into the training. That is probably the most confusing and diluted response to WAYTF, but those are the things that go through my mind when I hear the question.

  12. Miller on July 29, 2013 at 8:52 am

    The Stark Center looks like a really amazing place. I am new to strength training, and this is really interesting stuff. Thanks for the post.

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