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Honin' The Barbarians
Bob Ottum
June 28, 1982
Twins David and Peter Paul make a lot of primitive noises and do some uncivilized things while building humongous bodies
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June 28, 1982

Honin' The Barbarians

Twins David and Peter Paul make a lot of primitive noises and do some uncivilized things while building humongous bodies

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And below the axes, it says:

TRAIN TILL YOU DIE

That's it, and it doesn't get any more complicated, no matter how many philosophical curlicues the Barbarians add to it. They believe that, to attain physical—and thereby mental—perfection, one must train like an animal, a beast, a barbarian. Traditional bodybuilding niceties are out—the carefully logged schedules and graduated weights, and those long reflective moments spent staring into the mirror at the lyrical curve of a deltoid. Savagery does it. "See, you've got to react in training," David says. "You can't spend any time thinking. You must learn to be mean by instinct, get to the point where you're operating just on your id...." Indeed, that's how they got their name. It has nothing to do with the current movie, Conan the Barbarian. What it's about is lurching around under weights that no sane bodybuilder ever considered and then looking at each other one day, through red eyes, and murmuring, "Jeez, this is barbaric."

Peter, weight no longer in hand, holds up one paw for attention. "In order to do the impossible," he says, "you've got to see the invisible." Then he blinks in sincere wonder at the majesty of what he has just said.

"Let me put it another way," says David, "so that you can understand it. This is very tricky psychological territory. Now, suppose you're training in a gym, say, and your girl friend is there. And some great big guy comes in and—whap!—he smacks your girl friend in the face and knocks her down. You got that? Well, now, do you look down the line of dumbbells on the rack for a 10-pound one you can pick up? No, you just grab the 250-pounder that's lying at your feet and you break it over his goddam head. That's a Barbarian reaction—and that's the way you should train."

"In-stinct!" says Peter. "You do it, you don't think about it. After all, the weights just lie there; they can't think."

David nods solemnly. "I've got another one," he says. "You ready? O.K. The Barbarian training method unchains your potential."

Well, maybe so, maybe not. But whatever it does, it plays in Los Angeles. Perhaps the community was fresh out of nut-ball fads when the Paul twins came along. In any case, the Barbarians have suddenly developed a following, small but intense. In bodybuilding, they're getting national publicity, and they're even receiving a degree of warm regard from the world of powerlifting, which has never exactly lavished affection on bodybuilders. The Barbarians actually made the cover of Powerlifting-USA magazine; the story called them the Cheech and Chong of the iron game. The Los Angeles Times has done them, as has local television. As for national TV, the twins have already lifted Merv Griffin and will no doubt bench-press Johnny Carson any time now. And they've written a screenplay that, they say, has captured the fancy of a certain Hollywood studio. Swell plot: It's about these twin brothers who are bodybuilders, see, who are "crudely lovable—totally without manners but, conversely, very moral."

But here's the wonder of it. So far, all of this has been done without the Barbarians ever appearing in a bodybuilding competition. Not one. Not Messrs. America, Olympia or Universe, not even Mr. Ocean Avenue in Venice. This phenomenon goes against all tradition. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu, all of the noted bodybuilders, paid their dues in an exhausting round of contests, each man carefully seeking and grateful for small scraps of publicity.

Not the Pauls. They have their special reason for staying away from contests, and it's part of a rather nifty plot that includes lumberjack costumes and eating 36 eggs apiece a day. Thirty-six eggs? But first, to better understand the peculiar makeup of these two boys and their dog, one has to go back to the beginning.

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