Working Hard and Paying It Forward

Working Hard and Paying It Forward

Limitless Bodybuilding

By PJ Braun

Sponsored by Blackstone Labs

I knew I wanted to write this column for a month now, but it took until today at my RDAP community meeting where I received positive praise from three community members thanking me for giving back to the community that it all came to me. If you asked me, who was the most jacked guy I met in prison, I would give you the same answer if you asked me who was the most inspiring or interesting? His name is Robert McCune aka “Hammer.” When I got here one of the guards recognized me and said, “It’s cool to meet you, we have another big dude here you got to meet who played NFL football” and literally seconds later I saw this man walking into the cafeteria and said, “That’s got to be him!”

Hammer has such a unique look with traps that start at his ears and shoulders and arms as good as a pro bodybuilder but with the height and aesthetics of a world-class athlete, I was shocked that someone could look that way with prison food and no weights. We hit it off right away and through getting to know him once again I learned that only when you combine stellar genetics and extreme hard work and discipline can you get a Ronnie Coleman, a Kai Greene or in this case Robert McCune.

This did not just happen for him overnight though. At 7 years old, McCune was already working with his dad outside doing manual labor and he remembers getting up with his dad at 5:00 a.m. and watching “The Incredible Hulk” with Lou Ferrigno and being enthralled with Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Conan the Barbarian.” McCune would actually do push-ups during the commercials! He started running track young and by high school he was a track star where he ran the 100 meters in 10.6 seconds. He did not even start playing football until his junior year at 190 pounds … very lean and super fast.

Although McCune played football at Louisville, he wasn’t some spoiled athlete at all. In fact, he joined the Army first, did four years active traveling around the world to South Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq to name a few spots and then did four years National Guard while walking on to play football for Louisville. So, while he was earning his degree in education and playing football, he was also doing overnight military drills at Fort Knox and told me he often had to race home, change out of his military gear and into his football uniform and get right on the field. After eight years combined military time, he was drafted in the fourth round to the Washington Redskins and spent some time playing for the Dolphins, Ravens, and Browns before going to Canada to play another six years and earn the Grey Cup (the equivalent to the Lombardi Trophy in the NFL) with the Argonauts.

Only when you combine stellar genetics and extreme hard work and discipline can you get a Ronnie Coleman, a Kai Greene or in this case Robert McCune.

I asked Hammer about his training, nutrition and supplementation over the years, and he broke it all down for me. He told me that in the Army they had state-of-the-art gyms with everything top of the line and were encouraged to do lots of powerlifting-style training. He ate a diet rich in clean foods like oats and fish and plenty of MREs to get calories. He also supplemented with Phosphagen HP fruit punch flavor by EAS. Fun fact, that was the first supplement I ever used back in the day when I was 13! When McCune was out being a soldier no matter where he was stationed, he never stopped training. He would even hang from tree branches to do pull-ups with his rucksack on for resistance and while in the desert, he would lift rocks to maintain his strength and explosiveness. His genetics are so crazy that when he started basic training at 190 pounds, he finished just eight weeks later at 225 pounds … just as lean. That’s insane!

Louisville is where he got into Olympic lifts. I don’t know if my readers know how hard it is to walk on to a football team and become a starter. But to do it and then make it to the NFL is almost impossible. McCune was in the gym 24/7 doing lots of Olympic lifts and eating a diet rich in chicken, fish, steaks, protein shakes and he said they had an unlimited supply of Carbo Force … ha-ha, who remembers that stuff? I loved those when I was young.

By NFL time the 6-foot-1 McCune was a lean and mean 250 pounds … fast, strong, and explosive but built like a classic bodybuilder. He has never counted calories or taken measurements. He never focused on his looks; he just happens to look like a freak. In fact, coach Rex Ryan took one look at him and gave him the nickname Hercules!

McCune never took time off to party; he stayed in the gym year-round and it wasn’t until he retired where things sort of went left for him. I won’t talk about the charge that sent him here with me but it’s a shame that could happen to a professional athlete but that’s a story for another time. Instead of feeling sorry for himself he figured out how to train in here and somehow looks even bigger than when I met him over a year ago.

So now that I have shared this, let me tell you why it was important to me. Hammer designed a boot camp program for the inmates open to everyone on the compound and 35 guys signed up. He had them doing all sorts of drills and came up with so many creative ways to exercise and get in shape and the guys loved it. Many of the guys became passionate about bodybuilding and fitness and some of them totally transformed (shout-out to Nick A). Hammer told me he is motivated to help other people and he gets so much joy from it. I get inspired just being around him and told him he has a gift.

The crazy thing is Hammer has never had any kind of social media before. He did say some of his former personal training friends and clients put videos of them working out on YouTube and I encourage you guys to look him up. In the meantime, I have figured out a way to continue giving back by spreading the word about this man and teaching him everything I can about social media so when he comes home shortly after me, he can continue to motivate and inspire. I have no doubt that he will become one of the most popular influencers in the fitness world, not just because of the info I am sharing, but mostly because of his humble demeanor and huge heart. That’s something that is engrained in him from his youth where he earned his own money working for his dad to pay for his school clothes and supplies.

I asked Hammer what message he wants to share, and he summed it up like this: “My dad taught me at a very young age of the importance to work hard for what you want it life.” I think that fits this column and my bodybuilding message to you all perfectly, doesn’t it? So, Google my friend Robert McCune and be ready for him on social media soon enough. And until next time, I love you all. Peace out, bye.

Instagram @pjbraunfitness

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