Real World Strength vs. Gym Strength (or dad strength vs. generation Z Tren Boosted Strength) underground educational series

| by Truth Seeker |

I will never forget that day.

I was waiting for a van loaded with IKEA-style furniture (particle boards) to arrive. (We were renovating.)

After 10 minutes, the delivery guys dropped the packages in front of the building entrance and left.

At the time, I was a skinny 17-year-old skater boy with strength levels limited to 30 banana push-ups.

I tried moving one of the packages, and it felt like deadlifting the world. A few moments later, my dad arrived and lifted one end.

“Oh, that’s light. Let’s go, Truth Seeker,” he said.

I did my best to help him. I was exerting enough effort to win an Olympic medal while he was calm, collected, and worried about everything else but the load we were transporting.

But my struggle wasn’t all that surprising. After all, I was skinny, untrained, and weak.

But what if I tell you that 4 years later, when I was 21 and capable of deadlifting 2.5 times my bodyweight I had a similar experience?

We had to relocate a lot of furniture again and while I was a lot more confident, my dad who had never lifted weights in a gym was still performing at least as well as me.

Similar experiences over the years led me to an important analysis:

< | Real World Strength vs. Gym strength | >

Real-world strength and gym strength are the product of separate training stimuli.

In the first case, the conditioning comes naturally from the lifestyle of the individual.

A basic example would be someone living off the land and doing all sorts of manual work – wood cutting, carpentry, farming, hunting…etc.

A man raised to do those activities will naturally be stronger than his modern equivalent spending most of his time playing World of Warcraft and paying for the OnlyFans of morally bankrupt women.

Gym strength, on the other hand, is the result of deliberate planning and execution of controlled exercises in a sterile environment.

Limited Overlap

Past a certain baseline, strength becomes incredibly specific. For that reason, you may witness the following situations:

  • A gym-strong guy underperforms when forced to do manual labor (e.g., moving furniture or construction work). 

This is a common scenario for brahs carrying tons of steroid muscle.

When a bodybuilder brah is extracted from the air-conditioned gym where he’d be getting a sick pump 6 days a week and teleported to a construction site, the rules of the game change.

Suddenly, he is outperformed by skinny-fat naturals who’ve never lifted a weight in their life.

Some might be 16-year-old kids; others could be seasoned veterans (50+).

I’ve seen that happen actually. One time, a big guy in the gym was talking about how his best workers were some “skinny kids” who could carry buckets of cement all day.

  • A real-world strength guy could suck in the gym. 

We’ve all heard the stories about some farmers who deadlift 4 plates on their first day in the gym. And probably many of those are true.

But it’s also common for real-world strong guys to underperform in the gym. I can guarantee you that if you take a bunch of carpenters, construction workers, and welders and put them in a gym environment their lifts won’t be all that impressive.

Of course, I am talking about average guys. Not some freaks of nature that are ultra-strong and ultra-muscular regardless of anything.


Because their bodies have adapted to a very specific demand. For instance, the skinny dudes from the example above may be able to carry/farmer-walk cement buckets all day, but if you put them on the bench, they may suck due to underdeveloped pushing musculature.

It’s also worth mentioning that many real-world strength men will have terrible form the first time they try some of the exercises. The lack of technique will hurt their strength and expose their joints to extra stress.

  • A gym guy is 100 times more likely to have a balanced physique.

Manual labor builds overall strength, but it doesn’t fully hit the entire body evenly no matter what you do. Good luck developing your chest to the max by being a farmer.

Some muscle groups just don’t participate intensely enough in specific manual labor to experience notable hypertrophy. Most of the time, those would be the pushing muscles (except for the front delts), the hamstrings, the neck…etc.

Truth be told, the forearms and the back do most of the heavy lifting during manual labor.

Task-specific Development Of The Connective Tissues

The sinew tissues are fundamental for the display of high-level strength.

Weak joints = weak performance

In this case, the adaptation is once again specific to the task. If you lift heavy lumbar all day, the involved connective tissues have no choice but to get stronger and more resilient.

Are Steroids Users Cheaters?

Resilience vs. Pussy Tren-Induced Muscles

So, finally, we arrive at the most important question – who’s tougher – a guy with “dad strength” or the local Tren addict?

The Tren addict will have more muscle mass and a more balanced physique than some dude who specializes in transporting furniture and splits wood on his off days for his off-the-grid cabin.

But when it comes to real physical resilience, nothing beats men who’ve done manual labor for long periods.

How so?

The physique of the tren-brah is spoiled and too easy to lose. For example, if we take someone like Sam Sulek and make him drop the steroids and work construction, the first few weeks will be terrible for his mental and physical state.  His addiction to drugs and overly-muscled body will be the source of non-stop internal and external complaints.

Meanwhile, if you take a construction worker and put him on Sam Sulek’s lifting regime, it will feel like a breeze.

In one of his many interviews, the legendary weightlifting coach Ivan Abadjiev compares manual labor to weightlifting. Before becoming a lifter, he would work with his grandmother on the “plantations” for many hours a day.

Those days of brutally hard work and the adaptation that he and his grandmother experienced were among the motivators behind his crazy methodology.

He later admits that lifting in the gym was 1000 times easier than working the crops as a youngster.

Of course, agricultural work cannot build “weightlifting” or bodybuilding strength of the highest order because it’s mostly based on endurance, but it certainly builds more resilience than a tren-pussy will ever have.

If you extract a worker from a similar environment and put him on a hardcore bodybuilding schedule, it will feel like visiting a spa center.

Building Real-World Strength In The Gym 

There is also a way to get “real-world strong” in the gym. To do that, it will be necessary to focus on grip training and the development of specific strength endurance/toughness.

There is no way to accomplish this with pure hypertrophic work Mike Israetel style. Similar training just doesn’t work for that particular goal.

Example exercises:

1. Odd object lifting (sandbags, natural stones..etc.). If you want extra points, you can do those outside even when the weather is suboptimal (snow, sun, rain…etc.)

2. All sorts of grip and finger training. (Having brutally strong finger tendons is fundamental for the formation of “dad strength” that sends shivers down the spine of your future son-in-law.

Don’t waste your time on expensive grippers, though. They are overpriced and very likely to injure you.

3. “Weird feats of strength” such as nail and horseshoe bending.


The Choice Is Yours

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preferences, goals, capabilities, and internal desires.

The most crucial point to understand is that you can’t exactly have both.

For instance, if you have to grow bigger biceps, “real-world strength training” is simply suboptimal.

And if you want to have that manual-labor-guy toughness, you can’t acquire it by injecting roids and doing triceps pushdowns while sipping on creatine.

See you later, my friends.

– Natty

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  1. Ahmed Salem

    It’s insane how this was the physique of the boxing heavyweight champion of the world back in the 20s. Jack Dempsey also said in his book that during his fighting career he only ate one egg, one toast, and a slice of bacon a day that’s it. Which also proves the point that most people are overfed fatsos.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Good material. I will analyze that.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thanks. And bro, if you’re wondering why I have no longer a YT channel, it’s simple – they banned me.

        1. Truth Seeker Post author

          I don’t know. It’s either their AI bot got it wrong, or the guy posting my content in Spanish reported me. It’s nonsense. And I am not going back there.

          1. dk

            Or you are revealing info that undermines their business model. Tinfoil hat on!

            Maybe give it a try with Rumble. I hear they have less censorship.

      1. fanofthesite

        That’s no shock really. Your entire content basically undermines 100% of youtube’s fitness content. As if they’d ever allow someone like you to gain traction.

  2. Victorio

    Reminds me of some friends who do dips and push-ups , after construction work, oh and some running , and have hard physics , while some of us , myself included go through tortious workouts in the gym and look like we don’t workout.

    1. SamS

      Same here, although I’m doing pullups, dips and push ups myself. But I look like I’m not doing anything 😀

  3. Sean

    An experienced mover knows how to plant his feet, keep his back straight and bring his arms in close to lift a heavy piece of furniture. I have seem gym bros try to lift heavy boxes the way they do bicep curls: bent over and arms stretched out full length. They always fail. The techniques and movements to lift weights in the gym are highly specialized and do not translate to real world work.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Yes. Good observation.

  4. SamS

    Although I’ve never been and I’ll never be a farmer, I’ve still done some yard etc. work during the last decade or so. One thing I’ve learned and realized is that because of the repetitive nature of it (if you have lot to do), you’ll easily end up with overuse injuries. Which are difficult bitches to heal. And that’s where the endurance and low intensity comes in. The more you need to do that stuff, the more you need to pace yourself, and the more you need to pace yourself, the more you’ll have to cut the intensity. Which makes it pretty much the opposite of what I’m trying to do when I do strength / bodybuilding training because when I exercise, I try to be quick and efficient, in and out thing, rather than sparing my energy.

    As a kid I used to spend summers in my granpa’s childhood home. In the neighbor there was this dude who was taking care of a big house and big land by himself. Don’t remember the story why it was so but he did it all alone. He had cows and all sorts of shit. He never found anybody in his life, probably because he had no time. I thought he was a cool dude, always smiling and seemed very fresh and able. Then I saw him a couple of decades later. Some of it may because I had grown to a man myself but damn those years had taken a toll on him in my eyes. He was walking very slowly with a hunched back, he wasn’t smiling anymore, he didn’t do all the physical stuff by himself anymore. He needed help. His face so very sad and when he tried to force the smile, it looked very bad.

    His state was probably largely caused by all that repetitive physical labor. And of course because he had to do it all alone (mental and physical burden). But the deterioration of his body was crazy. And he wasn’t even that old.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for another insightful comment, Sam.

  5. Aoi

    Dad strength or functional strength is superior! Because you can make a living with it!
    Natural bb is a scam, if you have unaesthetic bone structure, e.g, having wide hips as a man, narrow shoulders, short muscle bellies.

  6. Matt

    Great article . There’s something called shovelglove that’s built around this principle of manual labour . The guy that invented it is pretty ripped on such a small amount of exercise . His writing is really interesting . Like this one of the few interesting blogs still around.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I looked it up. Looks pretty interesting. I also miss old school blogs, to be honest.

      People have gotten dumber..and moved to TikTok.

  7. conflagration

    Soviets were trying to build weighlifting champions from manual workers, but they concluded that there was no difference in results between them and random guys.
    Downside of manual work is that it increases imbalance between dominant and non-dominant sides as you usually perform work with dominant side.
    Whole body building business is against nature, you organism will develop as small amount of muscles as possible to do the job and will gladly drop them when unused.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      True. Body is built to survive not to bodybuild.

  8. Jose

    Many followers asked for this (myself included), but I didn’t expect to see an article about this topic so soon lol.

    Great analysis with interesting insights and advice as usual. Besides custom gym exercise routines, finding hobbies actually involving heavy manual work (carpentry, gardening, repairing/building machines, etc) is a good way to develop this kind of strength that is getting less common in these generations.

  9. Sean

    I once worked at a firm that dealt with the Teamsters union which includes a category called “helpers” who are the guys who lift the cargo into and out of the trucks. These guys were always claiming a personal injury at age 60 to get early retirement and pension because, in fairness, they were basically physically shot by that point. Bending, lifting and carrying are highly repetitive and injury-prone activities. Think about it: even in the gym, most injuries come from manipulating the weight in and out of starting position, not the actual exercise. I have seen several injuries from lifting dumbbells into position for a bench press or down again after the press; I have yet to see someone injured while actually performing the exercise. Arnold Schwarzenegger once visited a real working gold mine in South Africa and came back saying a full day lifting in the gym was a vacation compared to that heavy work.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      That’s some excellent info.

  10. Ani

    Hi truth seeker. What do you think about gymnastics training, in rings, like L-sits and all that stuff?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Depends on your goals. It’s obviously a nice way to train and fun too, but if you’re tall, it’s gonna suck majorly.

  11. A fan

    I actually liked your youtube narration… The art that you used in your videos were very unique and complemented your story telling greatly. Its just sad that they simply removed your account like that. Maybe try vimeo or dailymotion? Maybe there is a way your own forum can host videos?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Yes. I had zero warnings. Just woke up the other day to an e-mail saying : we deleted your account.

      1. Jose

        That sucks man. There are channels with actual toxic and malicious content there (self-proclaimed redpill and blackpill content creators included, which are often considered “incel” witch hunting material) and somehow YouTube doesn’t touch them.

        It’s sad what the platform has turned into lately. There are still some good enough niche spaces there, but it is basically a video Twitter or TikTok clone now.

        1. Truth Seeker Post author

          It’s possible it was just an error of their AI Bot (AI is garbage and often makes error unless supervised), but I have no desire to go back.

          The platform is too controlled and who is to say that it doesn’t happen again and again…

          I have no control over this.

          1. Jose

            Their moderation AI is as dumb as the one from Facebook and other platforms for sure.

            I have an old YouTube channel that almost got banned a few years ago due to bogus sanctions on some ancient geeky shitpost videos from my teenage years (like 15 years old or so). I had to delete most of them to avoid my channel to be deleted. The videos were crap anyway though, so it wasn’t too painful.

            In any case, these experiences are a proof that, if you want to become an active content creator, you should get your own website on a low profile hosting service. Nowadays most mainstream social media and web services platforms are extremely politicized and can choose to deplatform content creators out of whim for even the slightest disagreement.

          2. Truth Seeker Post author

            Back in the day, my first hosting dropped me actually. Deleted one of my sites (don’t remember which). I think it was because they were a small company. The current one is solid. It’s been 10 years.

  12. dk

    Re: finger and grip training. Every time I get serious about my grip training, my grip ends up weaker than before. My point is that it’s incredibly easy to overtrain the grip. Especially since most dedicated grip programs don’t take into account the other training that you do that can have an impact on grip (deadlifts, pullups, etc) and other hobbies you might have (in my case, I like working on cars). I’m going to spend some time thinking of a grip routine that can be worked into my lifestyle and other training. It will probably be very low volume. Open to suggestions

    1. mattsk1

      I have the same issue with over doing grip training. I went to doing Farmers once a week and to my suprise my grip gains finally came and I could finally start holding heavy weight per hand and for longer. I am just shy of body weight in each hand.

      1. dk

        Good idea, will start working in farmers carries.

    2. Baron2Duke

      Hands and fingers consist of small muscles and ligaments. Boyos from various calisthenics books suggest you should not punish your hands too frequently, that is training them more than 2x per week. My current sweet spot is training the grip only 1x weekly with one additional session that consists mostly of 2-3 types of (assisted and Australian) pullups, as my hands and underarms are sore for two full days.

      1. Baron2Duke

        * The progress is there, but it is painfully slow. I have been switching the crusher/free weight/powerfinger/ProHand exerciser difficulty every 6-12 months or so. You can’t rush your ligament strength like in case of full-body exercises.

      2. dk

        So 1x/week direct grip training session and one indirect. Seems reasonable. Do you deadlift?

        1. Baron2Duke

          Yes, I only do one day of hand/finger ‘destruction’ per week. I also noticed that it helps me a lot if I progress to endurance training first before increasing the difficulty, that is playing with 50-150 reps or at least 3 min holds per set. Many guys don’t find this approach helpful at all, though, and also need more weekly sessions to get the expected effect.

          No, I don’t deadlift due to my dislike of the gym microcosmos. However, I occasionally have a session with sandbag raises and similar movements.

    3. fanofthesite

      I got up to closing the CoC #3 with both hands when I was in my early 20s. I was doing a lot of work with the captains of crush, but it was bar holds that really helped. I would do 5 seconds holding a bar with switch grip. Keep increasing weight until I couldn’t hold for 5 seconds. I was doing this primarily for deadlifting. My rationale for 5 seconds was that any pull that lasted more than 5 seconds wasn’t going to be successful, and if you look at most of the top deadlifts, they’re all under 5 seconds. When I eventually stopped lifting heavy I had worked my way up to holding 735 for 5 seconds and being able to close the #3 CoC.

      1. dk

        CoC3 is a good reach goal for me as well. 2.5 first, I can close the 2 right now but not easily. I’ll work in bar holds. Switch grip = mixed grip? Wouldn’t double overhand be more useful for training grip?

        1. Baron2Duke

          False grip (overhand with the thumb not clenching the bar) could be also challenging.

          1. fanofthesite

            Switch grip is mixed grip yeah. I tried both double overhand and mixed, but I found that the much heavier weight from the mixed grip was more beneficial to building the grip strength than the double overhand. Even when I could hold 735 mixed grip I couldn’t double overhand 405. What the double overhand DID do though was strengthen my wrist flexion.

          2. fanofthesite

            Also, I forgot to mention I was using this thing called the Titan’s Telegraph Key. Got it from ironmind. That thing is INSANE for grip strength development. The diversity of training; I was doing individual fingers, thumb isolation, and every other variety you can imagine. If there’s one piece of kit I could recommend, it’s that.

  13. fanofthesite

    This post is such an obvious truth to literally anyone who has ever done any manual labour. My own personal experience with this. It’s a bit long, but bear with me because I think it’s a perfect illustration of this truth:

    When I was 23 back in university (am 43 now) and I was powerlifting (never took steroids, thank God), I weighed 200lbs, could DL 565, was doing 5 second bar holds with 735, and could close the #3 Captains of Crush. I was spending about 16 hours a week in the gym.

    My father is 150lbs, 5’8; has done brutal manual labour all his life. When my father and I shook hands after not seeing eachother for 2 years and did the grip test war that almost every man does when they shake hands, it took every ounce of will power to match him.

    Rewind time a few years earlier to when I was 17 years old and got my first job I ever had; it was as a labourer in a stone quarry. My job was to take a hammer and chisel, split limestone slabs, and pile pieces of limestone weighing 50lb to 200lb for 10 hours a day. I weighed 150 lbs. The job was so brutal I literally cried every morning for the first 4 weeks and prayed to God for the strength to not give up. Where I lived at the time getting a summer job in the stone quarry was like a rite of passage for kids at that age and the test was to see who could stick it out; over 90% of the kids quit before the end of their 2nd day so I was determined not to give up.

    By the end of the summer I was the strongest I had ever been, and will ever be, in my entire life. I went back the next summer to work there again and when I joined the army 1 month after that, part of the recruiting test is grip strength. I set a provincial record with my right hand. The recruiter commented how he had seen guys over 300lbs with a weaker grip than me.

    At this time I was also able to match my father in the hand shake grip war. Not beat, but only match.

    The futility and stupidity of excessive time wasted in the gym is absolutely absurd. I remember seeing a yotube video years ago withy Mike O’Tren, it was called something like “nice body, but what can you do with it?”. Well I think that the stone quarry is probably one of the ultimate tests and there is not a single juice monkey I have ever met who could survive there.

    1. dk

      ” I weighed 200lbs, could DL 565″

      “I was spending about 16 hours a week in the gym. ”

      “The futility and stupidity of excessive time wasted in the gym is absolutely absurd.”

      Well maybe absurd in some sense but it got you very strong. Do you think you could have gotten there with 5 hours/week (1hr/day M-F)? Maybe the quarry work from years earlier also contributed to your strength.

      1. fanofthesite

        The quarry work absolutely contributed to my strength, for sure. In fact some of that grip strength still lingers with me to this day. But the reality is that as a natty, you reach the law of diminishing returns VERY quickly in the gym. Like, absurdly fast. The amount of work you have to put in just to get a 5% increase in strength becomes so huge that it’s almost impossible. 5 hours a week would never ever get me that strong even if I had a lifetime of uninterrupted weeks.

  14. Treil

    Labour worker “works out” 50+ hours a week, an average body builder 5-8 hours.
    Average body builder lacks of forearm and grip strength, because it’s a waste of time to train them priority for looking good. First thing yield when I have to carry furniture my grip and forearm muscle. Also hard workers skin adapt to the duty, my grandfather has a palm with elefant skin, I’m sure I can stump a cigarette without causing any pain. So don’t forget using gloves.
    Other observation is the pace of work. Hobby builders lack of experience tend to work with too much intense, after few minutes catching air, sweeting and all involved muscles in burn. Don’t hurry, you feel compared gym extremly slow, but you can do all day much more work.
    As you learn how to do excercises, you have to learn how to grab, how to lift and hold. I often lifted heavy thing mostly with my arm and of course I can’t move heavy weights despite I was quite big and muscular.
    Even if you working out 4 times a week you just don’t beacome that stronger, unless you recover from hospital with absolute zero physical activity. Normal case you don’t beacome some kind of superhero with 4x strength, I don’t know exact numbers, but don’t sure you gain even 40% with regular work out, not using drugs.

  15. ani

    Hi truth seeker, what do you think about one meal a day for natural bodybuilding?

    1. Juanjo

      My lower back is put a lot of stress with the squat with a belt attached to the rack. Do you think I could get the same from the lunges? I am an ectomorph tall 185 cm

  16. Slonk

    Nothing is true everything is permitted

  17. SamS

    A lot of useful grip training stuff in here! I was thinking that a thread about grip training would be cool in the forum if there isn’t one already (I could even post some pictures of my nonexistent natty grip muscles). I don’t have any great numbers to talk about, but I think I got fairly good results with my grip by training it only once a week, twice max. Although I’m counting only the direct work here. I was also doing pullups and hanging leg raises and open palm pushing stuff (handstand stuff and push up progressions). But gripping and extensors I started to train completely on separate days at some point. I did them as separate sessions altogether and never on an upper body day. I treated the grip work like the main moves.

    I ended up with two arm hangs for 1 minute per set for four sets, so 4 x 1 min. I rested a lot between sets. For extensors I did fingertip pushup progressions, I kind of did them just to balance all the hanging stuff. But Bruce Lee’s two finger pushups were a bit too much 😀 I also experimented with finger hangs, so three fingers or two etc. Unfortunately, because of an old shoulder injury I was never able to really progress the way I wanted to (was planning on doing one arm hang progressions). Oh yeah, I also had and still have a custom-made pullup bar which is thicker than a regular pullup bar. The idea behind it was that I wanted it to be harder for the grip. And I also did some towel hangs too.

    But one thing that I can say is that my grip and fingers felt strong. To show it to myself, I often tried different things. Carrying shopping bags with pinkie or ring finger. Opening heavier doors by gripping handles with one finger or stopping doors with a fingertip. Opening jars were never a problem. Bending steel bars was also a thing. And in general, I always felt strong with my grip and fingers. Oh yeah, it also wasn’t only because of wanking because both of my arms felt strong.

    But yeah, pictures would be only things to really show some results because I have no impressive numbers. And to be honest, I haven’t done any direct grip work for a few years now. And I can sure tell that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it 😀 I still dream about doing a kind of specialized period of gripping, but life always seems to bring up something more important. Some with arms specialization.

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