I Trained Like a Strongman for Four Months. Here’s What Happened


Andrew Gutman competing at a Strongman competition
Erica Schultz

My descent from fit to flabby started after I met a woman in late 2016 named Thirsty (obviously that’s not her Christian name). Though fun and funny, outgoing and erudite, she never hit the gym and dined out nightly—and regularly encouraged me to do the same. I quickly found myself adopting those habits as a result of sticking with her and lost myself in the process. Well, I gained some things, too—an empty wallet and about 30 pounds.

After about six months of off-and-on again chaos, I broke it off. But losing the girl didn’t lose the weight, and I didn’t ditch the bad habits right away, either. In the aftermath of the breakup, the weight gain and my inability to snap out of bad habits began to pile onto my psyche and take its toll. My focus at work—and in general—faded. I stayed home more and more, neglecting the gym, sleeping too much, watching YouTube, and lying in bed staring at the ceiling. I stopped returning texts and calls to my buddies. My drinking became less social. I felt stuck.

It wasn’t until last September in LaGuardia Airport, as I was waiting to board a plane for Las Vegas to cover the Olympia Weekend (think Comic-Con for the uber-fit) that I impulsively made the decision to force myself out of my rut. I was chowing down on a bacon, egg, and cheese, feeling my waistband expand with every grease-drenched bite. Bloated, tired, and mildly depressed, I scoured the internet for local Strongman events in or around NYC. I found one scheduled for January 20 and signed up before I had a chance to talk myself out of it or process what I had just gotten myself into. Naturally, I knew training for the event would involve lifting heavy stuff, but as I’d come to find out, it’s way more involved (and expensive) than that.

SLOVENLY TO STRONG

The realization that I had just four months to go from pudgy to powerful hit me hard, so I wasted no time and turned to my two friends, Ian Engel and Andrew Triana, both of whom are strength coaches and competitive Strongmen. Engel would handle all of my training, and Triana took care of my nutrition and lifestyle changes. But before I could dive into my Strongman-focused training, Engel suggested that I build up my base strength before really digging in—yes, I was that out of shape.

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There are three main strength sports. Powerlifting, where lifters test their absolute strength by maxing out their bench press, squat, and deadlift. Then there are Olympic weightlifters, who train to be supremely powerful as they have to drive weight from the floor to overhead in the clean and jerk and snatch. Strongman, on the other hand, requires a more diverse arsenal of assets, including conditioning and coordination.

In any given contest—which consists of five events—you may have to work up to a one-rep max deadlift, then press a 200-plus pound log overhead for as many reps as possible in a minute, and then load five increasingly heavy stones to different height platforms in succession for time. In other words, you have to be both athletic and strong. And I had barely seen the inside of a gym in months.

To get my strength up to par, I followed the Hepburn Method, performing only the bench press, front squat, deadlift, and overhead press for two months. No cardio and no accessory work. Here’s how the program works: I’d perform six sets of two reps and two sets of three reps with 85% of my one-rep-max (1RM). Afterward, I’d reduce the load to 60% of my 1RM and perform three sets of seven. Each week, I’d add one rep to two of my main sets until I was performing eight sets of three with the same weight, and then one rep to my lighter sets until I was doing three sets of eight. Out of the gym, Triana implemented a series of guidelines I was to follow:

  • No technology 30 minutes before bed (this one was tough. I love me a YouTube rabbit hole.)
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • No alcohol outside of social situations (and I can’t seek them out) or inside of my home.
  • Consume two sources of probiotics per day (kombucha or kefir) for gut health.
  • Eat three meals per day—consisting of healthy carbs and fats, and 35 grams of protein.
  • Consume a pre-workout, intra-workout, and post-workout shake, consisting of whey protein and fast-absorbing carbohydrate powder like Dextrose.

After two months my weight stayed the same, but I resembled the letter O a little less. I felt mentally clearer, was sleeping like a damn baby, and had a regimen that forced structure—something I realized my life before was lacking. Of course, complete change doesn’t happen overnight, and I’d be remiss not to mention that I occasionally caved and chowed-down on junk food and imbibed on a few brews.

Once Engel gave me the nod of approval, I started his program, which you can find here. My back felt like it was walloped by a baseball bat the day after my first session, but shit didn’t get real until I started training my actual Strongman events. For me, those were the max deadlift, max clean and press reps with a log, a farmer carry and duck walk medley (for time), a max hussafel carry (for distance), and keg over bar (for reps). Unsure what most of that means? I was, too.

To get acquainted with these foreign objects, I hauled my ass to Mt. Vernon New York once per week for eight weeks to train at Mount Vernon Barbell. Between the travel and the gym fee ($10), JUST training events over the course of eight weeks cost me $208 and 32 hours of time. It was a real kick in the Atlas stones. After my first day of loading kegs over a bar, pressing a log, and performing all sorts of brutal loaded carries, I was toast.

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The next day I learned that Strongman brings on a different type of pain. I woke to find my inner arms covered in deep, painful purple bruises, and that my shins and ankles were cut up from the dangling plates of the duck walk. Bonus injuries: Both my Achilles tendons hurt to the point that I walked funny, I felt unrelenting pressure in my lower back, and my nose was banged up from pushing the log too close to my face when I drove it overhead. Concerned, I consulted Engel. His response: “Dude, it’s Strongman. Stop bitching about it.” Cool.

Despite my initial concern, I’ll admit that the attention I got from co-workers and friends regarding my battered physique made me feel badass. To me, it was the first sign that I was shedding my soft, weak exterior and budding into an actual competitor. After that first day in Mt. Vernon, I couldn’t get enough—it was love at first bruise.

JUDGMENT DAY

The rest of the training passed pretty quickly, and before I knew it I was in the musty basement of a convention center in White Plains, NY waiting for my competition—NY Strong-est Man & Woman 5— to start. Excited, full of egg sandwiches (what goes around comes around), and wearing more spandex than should be acceptable, I warmed up for my first event: the max deadlift. For my third and final attempt, I gave 485 a go, which was 50 pounds heavier than my all-time best. Hyped up by the atmosphere and the presence of my friends and family, I managed to move the bar. As it ascended closer to the lockout position, the pressure in my head was so great that I felt as though I was going to pass out—I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. The lift was good and enough for fifth place (out of 21 competitors).

I failed to get the 205-pound log overhead, but I did go on to place top five again in the farmer carry (250-pound per hand)/duck walk (300 pounds) medley, moving both implements 120ft in 21 seconds. Better than two top-five placings, though, were the people I was competing with. All of my fellow competitors were altruistic dudes who were happy for me when I did well, always down to offer form pointers, and supportive as hell when I underperformed. Case in point: I bombed during the hussafel carry, which had me lugging a 250-pound steel coffin-shaped implement back and forth until failure, first place going to whoever covered the most distance. Pissed off and caught up in wanting to crack the top three, I stomped around in a bad mood until one of the other guys slapped me on the back and offered me some constructive criticism along with a handful of gummy bears.

Andrew Gutman after the Strongman competition

Erica Schultz

After that, I was ready to tackle my last event—keg over bar. I’ll keep it short: I placed in the middle of the pack and ended up in 13th place. I wasn’t thrilled. But on the bright side, I set personal records in every event, made a few new friends, turned my dad—who initially thought this whole venture was a big waste of time—into a fan of Strongman, and unearthed a passion for competing that, honestly, I never thought was in me.

I’ll admit that diving headfirst into this challenge scared the crap out of me. I was worried that, in giving up happy hours and my nights out with friends, I’d lose what I perceived to be my freedom to have fun. Committing to the process, though, made me realize that the things I associated with fun were the very things that stopped me from experiencing growth—both physically and as a budding adult. The reality is that indulging in those “fun” events only brought short-term enjoyment. And in the long term, they brought on a dwindling bank account and a growing gut. Both of which weighed heavily on my mind, and, as a result, I lost sleep. I lost friends. I lost sight of who I was.

Now I’m in the midst of preparing for the same show but a year later, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve lost even more weight, strengthened my friendships with my fellow strongmen, and found balance in my life. And if you’re wondering—yeah, I still hit up the occasional happy hour or throw back some brews with my buddies. The only difference is that now I’m strong enough to handle it.

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UFC Welterweight Champ Tyron Woodley’s Title-Card Workout


Tyron Woodley
Per Bernal

Tyron Woodley has spent the past decade becoming one of the top draws in mixed martial arts—first as an up-and-coming rookie in 2005, then as a UFC contender in 2013, and since 2016, as UFC welterweight champion. Early on, T-Wood kept fans on the edge of their seats. His versatility, jaw-dropping athleticism, and knockout power put asses in chairs and opponents to the canvas. At press time, he had an 18-3 record, with 11 finishes (submission, knockout, technical knockout), but he began losing favor with fans after claiming UFC gold last year.

MMA fans don’t pony up to watch boring fighters, and the UFC doesn’t put together fight cards that generate lackluster ticket sales or pay-per-view buy rates. This, unfortunately, connects to Woodley because the past three title defenses have been certified duds. At his last fight, at UFC 214 last July, he and Demian Maia set a record for least amount of strikes thrown in a championship bout with a measly 86. Post-fight, outspoken UFC president Dana White opined: “Who would pay to see Tyron Woodley fight?”

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At UFC 228 on Sept. 8, Woodley is set to fight undefeated Darren “the Gorilla” Till (17-0)—a brawler 11 years his junior and arguably the most hyped this side of Conor McGregor. It’ll be T-Wood’s first bout since having a partially torn labrum on his right shoulder repaired 14 months ago. Whether ring rust will be an issue has yet to be seen, but even more important is whether a young, hungry contender will spoil his comeback.

“Shit, I’m that older fighter now,” Woodley says. “I have to channel that young punk and remember what he was willing to do and sacrifice to get to where I am now.”

In truth, a Till win does more than unseat the champ; it catapults him into a new tier of fighter, with the opportunity to snatch much bigger purses. On the other hand, a Woodley win secures the title but doesn’t strengthen his case “to solidify myself as the greatest welterweight of all time.” What will do that now is a string of high-profile victories. However, what could have accomplished that already was a win over MMA legend Georges St-Pierre.

When GSP came out of retirement in 2017 to fight for (and win) the middleweight belt, rumors of a GSP-Woodley matchup circulated. Ultimately, the fight would never happen, since “Rush” was forced to vacate his title to deal with medical complications due to ulcerative colitis, and there’s no guarantee he’ll make another return.

So after Woodley’s last snooze of a fight, he had the surgery and spent the better part of 2018 recovering, which included a rigorous physical therapy regimen, stem cell injections, and even platelet-rich plasma (PRP) shots—the latter two being methods to speed up the rebuilding process of skeletal muscle to accelerate healing. During this time he stayed visible to fans, appearing on Fox as an analyst for UFC Tonight. He also took on an acting gig in Escape Plan 2 and even tried stand-up comedy.

Whether those things became a distraction and whether his right hand still packs the same punch are up for debate, but Woodley remains upbeat. “I have to be confident,” he says. “My right hand is my moneymaker.”

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Though it seems as if the champion is backed up against the wall and fighting to stay relevant in a young man’s game, it’d be unwise to count Woodley out. Along with being a world-class wrestler with a whip-fast right hand and a savvy fight IQ, he’s also in familiar territory, because he’s been fighting his entire life.

Woodley wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth or golden gloves on his hands. He and his 12 siblings were raised by a single mom in a high-crime, drug-riddled neighborhood in Ferguson, MO. Despite those pitfalls, Woodley never allowed his environment to dictate his path. He instead relied on hard work and dedication and fought his way to becoming an All-American high school and collegiate wrestler and the first-ever Big 12 wrestling champ while attending the University of Missouri.

In 2005, he began his MMA career, and by the time he made his UFC debut in 2013, Woodley had a 12-1 record, with eight wins coming by way of knockout or submission. In the big leagues, he made his presence known with first-round knockout wins over Jay Heiron, Josh Koscheck, Dong Hyun Kim, and then–welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.

At UFC 228, the end result will likely set up one of two scenarios for Woodley: help him to reestablish himself as the premier welterweight, or force an aging fighter to reestablish himself as a contender. Judging by the past, smart money would bet on the former, because despite his moniker of “the Chosen One,” greatness was never left to chance for Tyron Woodley—it was a choice.

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Snapshot

  • Birthdate: April 7, 1982
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 200 lbs; 170 lbs. (when fighting)
  • Birthplace: Ferguson, MO
  • Nickname: The Chosen One
  • MMA Record: 18-3-1
  • Instagram and Twitter: @twooodley

Woodley’s Training Regimen

Woodley has come a long way since his days as a wrestler at the University of Missouri, where he worked out with one goal in mind: to move as much weight as possible.

“When I first got to Mizzou, everyone did the same football lifts—Olympic lifts, squats, bench presses, and deadlifts,” Woodley says. For those of you wondering, yes, T-Wood is as strong as he looks. At 165 pounds, he squatted 425 pounds for five reps, benched 365 for five, and deadlifted “600 or 605…something crazy.” An elite athlete to boot, he also boasted a 43-inch vertical jump.

Those days are long in the past. Now Woodley forgoes heavy weights altogether and focuses on his agility—with ladder and band work—and conditioning. “Now I don’t need to be underneath anything more than 185 to 200 pounds,” he explains. “I don’t need more muscle. I need endurance. I need explosion. I need quick feet. So that’s why I’m hitting the agility ladder, pushing a sled, doing sprints, and slamming the medicine ball. These are the things that I can do and still perform at 100 percent.”

Below is one of the full-body workouts Woodley used to prep for UFC 228. Win or lose, he no doubt was in the best damn shape he’s ever been in.

Woodley’s Title-Card Workout

Perform exercises marked with the same number back-to-back, with no rest in between. After each circuit/superset is complete, adhere to the prescribed rest time.

  • 1A. Versaclimber Sprint: 3 sets of 30 sec.
  • 1B. Swiss Ball Plank Extension: 3 sets of 20
  • 1C. Banded Back Extension: 3 sets of 20 

Rest 45 sec.

  • 2A. Lateral Band Walk: 1 set of 20 (each way)
  • 2B. Forward Band Walk: 1 set of 20 (forward and back)
  • 2C. Lunge With External Rotation: 1 set of 10 (per side)
  • 2D. Walking Hamstring Stretch: 1 set of 10 (per side) 

Rest 45 sec.

  • 3A. Trap-Bar Deadlift: 5 sets of 10
  • 3B. Vertical Jump: 5 sets of 5

Rest 45 sec.

  • 4A. Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 sets of 15, 12, 10
  • 4B. Lateral Band Abduction: 3 sets of 20 (per side)
  • 4C. Pullup: 3 sets of  12
  • 4D. Banded Face-Pull: 3 sets of  20

Rest 60 sec.

  • 5A. Inverted Row*: 3 sets of 15
  • 5B. Dumbbell Raise Series**: 3 sets of 20 (each move)

Rest 45 sec.

*Begin each set with a 5-second isometric hold at the top.

**Perform 20 lateral raises, then 20 front raises, then 20 more lateral raises with light dumbbells. (Woodley uses 10 to 15 pounds.)

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Sylvester Stallone Is Fitter Than Ever During ‘Rambo 5’ Training


Sylvester Stallone Looks Jacked During 'Rambo' Training
officialslystallone / Instagram

Sylvester Stallone has been a fitness icon for decades, and he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. His Instagram feed is full of workout videos and motivational posts, and he’s been going harder than ever in preparation for the next installment in the Rambo franchise.

Stallone will reprise his role as seasoned Vietnam War veteran John Rambo in the much-anticipated film, and he’s been training with celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson to get in top shape for the action flick. In a recent post, he shared a video of himself flipping a tire during a workout with Brad Siskind, a trainer at Peterson’s gym.

“Getting ready for Rambo,” Stallone captioned the post. “Also just because you’ve REACHED a certain age doesn’t mean you have to FEEL that age! Keep pumping, keep punching!”

At 72, the longtime action-movie star is in killer shape, and he makes throwing a 250-pound tire around look like no big deal. No matter your age, that’s an impressive move to master. 

Stallone also took to Instagram on Sunday to share a throwback from his Rambo 2 training days, reminding everyone why he’s been such a physique inspiration for so long.

If the old-school bodybuilding training equipment and Sly’s ridiculously jacked arms don’t make you want to hit the gym today, we don’t know what will.

Follow Stallone on Instagram at @officialslystallone.

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‘Raw’ Recap: Roman Reigns Gets Ambushed by Braun Strowman


'Raw' Recap: Roman Reigns Gets Ambushed by Braun Strowman
Courtesy of WWE

Braun Strowman isn’t used to losing. So it’s no surprise he wasn’t too happy about getting powerslammed by Roman Reigns and his “Shield” teammates last week.

On this week’s episode of Raw, Reigns immediately called Strowman out, mocking him for his lack of WWE championships. He then taunted Strowman to cash in his Money in the Bank contract.

But Strowman didn’t bite. Instead of having to deal with another assault at the hands of “The Shield,” he told Roman he’d face him in one place where Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins can’t help him: Inside a steel cage at Hell in a Cell next month. The two came to an agreement and shook on it.

Shortly afterward, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre showed up in the ring, claiming that they needed new competition after their constant bouts with Seth Rollins. Strowman and Reigns formed a temporary alliance to take on Ziggler and McIntyre—or so it seemed.

When the match started later on in the night, it appeared to be a fairly typical tag-team match. Ziggler and McIntyre seemed to have an upper hand against Reigns, who finally tried to tag in Strowman. And that’s where everything went off the rails.

Instead of helping Reigns, Strowman refused to be tagged in and let Ziggler and McIntyre beat on him, causing the match to end in disqualification. When Ambrose and Rollins ran in to help their comrade, Ziggler and McIntyre came to Strowman’s aid to dispose of the entire “Shield.”

Only time will tell if Strowman’s alliance with Ziggler and McIntyre is as temporary as his team-up with Reigns—but one thing’s for sure: Strowman knows how to get even with his opponents.

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Lady Gaga Turns Heads in Fetish Boots With 7-Inch Heels & Electric-Blue Coat

Lady Gaga certainly knows how to get noticed.

The “Born This Way” singer was spotted today arriving at Paris’ Photo Studio dressed in quite the head-turning outfit. While her hometown of New York braves a blazing heat wave this week, Gaga covered up in a Nicolas Jebran belted trench coat made from a shiny electric-blue PVC material.


lady-gaga-boots

Lady Gaga arrives at Photo Studio in Paris.
CREDIT: Philippe Blet/Shutterstock


lady-gaga

The singer dazzles in an electric-blue PVC trench coat.
CREDIT: Philippe Blet/Shutterstock

She accessorized with oversized square-shaped shades and a pair of towering platform booties from Pleaser, a brand she keeps in regular rotation. Featuring a lace-up design, the boots are perched on 7-inch stiletto heels. A similar style is available on Pleasershoes.com for $81.95. It comes in three material options: leather, vegan leather and patent leather.


lady-gaga-pleaser-boots

A closer look at Gaga’s Pleaser booties.
CREDIT: Philippe Blet/Shutterstock

The previous day, Gaga enjoyed a romantic stroll around the French city with her fiancé, talent agent Christian Carino. She was a vision in red, dressed in an uncharacteristically prim chiffon dress, detailed with long sleeves, a nipped-in belted waist and a pussy bow at the neck. She paired it with simple — and surprisingly low-to-the-ground — black pumps. The two got engaged last November but have yet to announce a wedding date.


lady-gaga

Gaga looks glamorous in a red chiffon dress and black pumps.
CREDIT: Philippe Blet/Shutterstock

Mother Monster has a busy month ahead of her as she prepares to hit the press circuit for her new movie, “A Star Is Born.” Scheduled to premiere in theaters on Oct. 5, the film, which also stars Bradley Cooper and Dave Chappelle, spins the story of a hard-drinking country musician (Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with a talented young singer (Gaga).

See Lady Gaga’s wildest shoe moments.

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Adidas’ White-Hot Summer Shoe Gets a Colorful Makeover — Here’s How to Shop the Look

Adidas Originals released one of the hottest all-white sneakers of the summer in the Continental 80. And soon, the clean and classy silhouette will arrive for men in a trio of bold colors — but you can order them online now.

The new eye-catching colorways ready to hit retail are solar yellow, aero blue and clear pink monochromatic looks, with minimal Adidas Originals branding on the uppers to distract from the crazy hues. (The uppers feature a red and navy stripe, as well as the trefoil logo.)


Adidas Originals Continental 80

The Adidas Originals Continental 80 for men in solar yellow.
CREDIT: Adidas


Adidas Originals Continental 80

A look at the Adidas Originals Continental 80 for men in clear pink.
CREDIT: Adidas

The sneakers boast a soft French terry lining, a nod to the brand’s ’80s style and a split rubber cupsole with an EVA insole for what the brand describes as a comfortable and flexible feel.

If you’re in a hurry to secure your pair, Champs Sports has the style in the three new colors (as well as the all-white and all-black original models) ready to shop now via ChampsSports.com, which will ship once they become available.

The upcoming Adidas Originals Continental 80 drops will retail for $80 each.

But if you can wait to place your order, Adidas will start selling pairs of the new three colors on its website, Adidas.com, at 3 a.m. ET on Thursday.

Adidas Originals Continental 80

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Nike’s Winning the Word-of-Mouth War With Teens, While Converse and Reebok Decline

If brands want to win over teens, they have to give them something to talk about — and Nike is doing just that.

According to new research from Engagement Labs, a data and analytics firm that focuses on conversations about brands, 11.2 percent of shoppers between the ages of 13 and 20 talk about the sportswear giant on an average day, up 34 percent from 2013. This vaults Nike into the top five most-discussed brands among teens, behind only Apple brands, Coca-Cola and Samsung.

Over the course of 12 months, researchers surveyed 6,736 Gen Z consumers about their offline conversations, and compared the results with a similar data set from five years ago, as well as to consumers aged 21 and up. They found that teens are far more social overall (perhaps unsurprisingly, if you remember high school) and spend a good deal of their social time talking about products and services. In fact, members of the under-21 set have an average of 13.4 of these conversations, compared with 9.9 for people 21 and older.

Unfortunately, other sneaker brands aren’t getting nearly as much airtime as Nike is. Reebok, for one, fell 38 percent in terms of teens that said they talked about the brand each day. (While industry experts say a resurgence could be around the corner for the brand’s classic silhouettes, they haven’t quite picked up yet.) Converse, likewise, dipped 18 percent, mirroring the decline in the brand’s overall sales that parent company Nike has reported in recent quarters.

One surprising name on the list of brands losing “conversation currency” is Vans, which saw revenues skyrocket by double digits last year and is on track to see similar growth in 2018. Puma, too, has gotten a significant sales boost from its work with celebrities like Selena Gomez and Rihanna, both of whom have huge youth followings. Still, both brands saw conversation dip 15 percent over 2013.

According to Brad Fay, chief commercial officer of Engagement Labs and the principal author of the report, this could mean these brands are seeing more interest from the millennial segment than the under-21 generation. “Teenagers are more of a barometer of the future, and thus these brands need to be concerned they are not connecting with them as well as they did five years ago,” Fay told FN. “In this context, Nike’s success with teens today is impressive indeed.”

7 of the NBA’s Most Fashionable Ballers — And Tidbits From the Stylists Crafting Their Looks

Thirteen years ago, former NBA commissioner David Stern implemented a mandate that would reroute the course of men’s fashion. The infamous dress code imposed on the league — dubbed the Allen Iverson rule because of his resistance to conform — required players to dress conservatively in business attire during NBA-related activities. Once a dreaded guideline, the regulation paved the way for multimillionaire athletes to craft their now-coveted style.

“Even though at the time there was a lot of backlash, in a way he helped a lot of players start to be seen as influencers and fashionable people. It’s not that Stern taught them how to dress, but he helped them take it more seriously,” said shoe designer Armando Cabral, who counts Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony among fans of his namesake brand. As players elevated their off-duty looks, they garnered exposure for Cabral and others.

Once the public started paying more attention, [players] took it to a new level. It’s become a highlight in their arrivals to the game, in interviews and in their day-to-day [lives], according to Ovadia & Sons, which has outfitted the likes of PJ Tucker and Steph Curry.

Khalilah Beavers, the image maker behind Jimmy Butler and Anthony, was among the initial cadre of stylists helping to merge sport and style. “It grew from a couple of guys being watched and followed to everyone. It’s like a competition now,” said Beavers.

Designers now willingly accommodate players’ athletic frames, particularly their atypically large feet. Fabrice Tardieu, a Dwyane Wade favorite, has extended his offering up to a size 17. Meanwhile, Cabral remembers the largest shoe he’s ever made as a whopping size 22 for the retired Dikembe Mutombo.

Wade, who is signed to a lifetime deal with Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning, told FN that he became vested in fashion as an athlete because it is a “vehicle for self-expression and individuality.”

“I enjoy taking risks and pushing boundaries,” he said.


Executive producer LeBron James attends a premiere for

Executive producer LeBron James at the Toronto International Film Festival.
CREDIT: Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

NBA style has even evolved into a team exercise in some instances (not to mention a notable hashtag with over 65K Instagram posts attached to it). Earlier this year, Wade’s stylist Calyann Barnett dressed LeBron James and the entire Cleveland Cavaliers squad in head-to-toe Thom Browne for their playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. With 11 years of experience under her belt, however, Barnett emphasized the importance of sending a deeper message when dressing her players — at a time when athletes and fashion players alike are raising their voices about politics and activism.

“Basketball is a predominantly black career. So when there are issues facing that community — that many of [these athletes or their family members] have faced or still can face, that should be a focus,” Barnett said. “These fashion houses have been around for years and if I am going to support them, let’s make sure they support my causes and what’s near and dear to me.”

Here, FN explores the key moments that led to the fashion influence of James, Wade and more of the league’s other sartorial heavyweights.


Russell WestbrookTom Ford show, Arrivals, Spring Summer 2018, New York Fashion Week, USA - 06 Sep 2017

Russell Westbrook at the Tom Ford spring ’18 show at New York Fashion Week.
CREDIT: David X Prutting/BFA/REX/Shutter

Most Valuable Player of Fashion: Russell Westbrook

The NBA’s annual awards ceremony incorporates a Best Style accolade — a publicly voted honor — and for the past two years, Westbrook has claimed the crown.

Aside from being a fan favorite, the Oklahoma City Thunder star has earned more than his fair share of fashion cred. Just this past May, the notoriously self-styled Westbrook was casually sandwiched between Kendall Jenner and Eva Chen at his Met Gala table. And between front-row sightings at the likes of Louis Vuitton and Tom Ford, the Jordan Brand athlete’s fashion calendar arguably rivals his basketball schedule.

“Westbrook is probably the most authentic with his off-court style. He seems more comfortable in his choices of silhouettes, colors and brands. He plays with proportions … like an oversize sweatshirt with slim jeans or a baggie look and printed tops,” said creative director Jerome LaMaar.

Still, some of his choices are considered divisive. His exaggerated high-water pants or the ombré elephant-print tights he debuted in his 2014 Westbrook XO Barney’s collection come to mind. Paige Geran, Kobe Bryant’s former stylist, has grown to enjoy his ingenuity.

“He’s creative. I adjusted to it after watching for a while. He’s one of the few that can pull that off,” she said.


Dwyane Wade in the front rowDior Homme show, Paris Men's Fashion Week, Spring Summer 2017, France - 25 Jun 2016SUNGLASSES BY DIOR

Dwyane Wade at the Dior Homme Spring 2017 show wearing Dior sunglasses.
CREDIT: Swan Gallet/WWD/REX/Shutterstock

Team Leader of Style: Dwyane Wade

Despite Wade’s worldwide recognition, many designers didn’t understand his fashion appeal at first.

“We had to connect the dots and say, ‘This guy is an international superstar.’ I had to make an 11-page document explaining who he was. The first time Dwyane went to Paris Fashion Week in 2011, he was the only player there. He’s still one of the few that goes to Givenchy and the only basketball player that has gone to Hermès and Berluti,” said Barnett.

Outside of established luxury houses, the Miami Heat shooting guard spotlights emerging brands. He put Tardieu on the map by sporting his kicks, with the Maximilien sneaker being one of his preferred styles. “They were the first ones to get him out there and do things like colorful shoes even before I was in the game,” said Tardieu.

The renowned player also represents his Way of Wade signature sneaker with Li-Ning, both while playing and behind the scenes as a creator.

“It’s something I am extremely passionate about and I feel very fortunate to be intimately involved in the design process of my fashion partnerships,” he said.

Best Wardrobe: Chris Paul

After being benched due to an injury last season, it was Chris Paul’s sideline style that seized a win. Printed Happy Socks added quirkiness to his crisp white Common Projects sneakers as he cheered the team on — a look that Paul’s stylist Courtney Mays described as meshing with his “classic, young professional” aesthetic. As president of the National Basketball Players Association, minimalistic pieces are his staples. The Houston Rockets point guard’s clean-cut taste is exemplified in his current clothing collaboration with Five Four Club, a contemporary men’s subscription-based fashion service.

“Chris is a veteran player so the silk shirts and heavily logoed items are not as appealing. When he’s not playing, he’s kind of the businessman of the NBA so we make sure his look reflects that,” said Mays.

The Jordan athlete will push the envelope on occasion. His colorful, patchwork Dolce & Gabbana suit (paired with Don C Jordans) was a lighthearted ensemble for the Kid’s Choice Sports Awards last month.

“His style has evolved. Sometimes it takes someone that has that eye to say ‘this could work for you.’ Now, he’s a little more interested in taking those fashion risks,” said Mays.


Chris PaulKids' Choice Sports Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 19 Jul 2018WEARING DOLCE & GABBANA

Chris Paul at the Kids’ Choice Sports Awards, July 2018, wearing Dolce & Gabbana.
CREDIT: imageSPACE/REX/Shutterstock

Fashion Player of the Year: LeBron James

It’s not uncommon to catch James in a freshly tailored Thom Browne ensemble, which was his choice for the launch of his I Promise School last month. But the four-time NBA MVP broke ground long ago when he became the first black man to appear on the cover of Vogue in April 2008. While it was a historic marker and a signifier of James’ stake in men’s fashion, the controversial image — he’s pictured holding model Gisele Bündchen in a pose that many likened to a King Kong poster — sparked debate.

“That cover incited a lot of conversation about race and stereotypes, and it was one of the most impactful things that I was a part of during his career,” said his previous long-term stylist, Rachel Johnson, who now works with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Ten years later and now a seasoned veteran, the Los Angeles Lakers newcomer deliberately uses fashion to underscore issues he’s passionate about. For last year’s season opener, the Nike star sported sneakers engraved with Equality on the heel as a show of solidarity with the ongoing football protests spearheaded by Kaepernick.

“Watching players express their views out loud makes me very proud. I stand up and applaud loudly,” said Johnson.


Carmelo AnthonyRochambeau show, Spring Summer 2018, New York Fashion Week, USA - 10 Sep 2017

Carmelo Anthony at the Rochambeau spring ’18 show at New York Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Madison McGaw/BFA/REX/Shuttersto

Sixth Man of Style: Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony is one of the original players in basketball’s fashion class. He is a mainstay at Paris and New York fashion weeks, and he fronted Italian luxury label Ermenegildo Zegna’s campaign in 2015. As a regular attendee at the famed Met Gala, the Houston Rockets incomer has attended the annual affair more than most other players.

Beavers, who has worked with Anthony for more than nine years, has seen the style transition in the NBA firsthand.

“It was initially, ‘These guys are big, so how do we make them look great?’ In reality, they can go to a black-tie event wearing fitted clothes and look amazing,” she explained.

Now, the Jordan athlete is branching into design. Earlier this year, he collaborated with hat label Goorin Bros., and it marks the first co-branded product line that the company has ever done with a professional athlete.

BONUS

Fashion highlights from James Harden and PJ Tucker, the Houston Rocket teammates who have become the Batman and Robin of NBA style.


NBA player James Harden, of the Houston Rockets, left, winner of the most valuable player award, poses in the press room with his teammate P.J. Tucker at the NBA Awards, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif2018 NBA Awards - Press Room, Santa Monica, USA - 25 Jun 2018

James Harden (L) poses with teammate P.J. Tucker at the NBA Awards, June 2018.
CREDIT: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/REX

Most Improved: James Harden

Frontrow sightings: Valentino, Yohji Yamamoto, Public School, Neil Barrett

Standout piece: A custom Neil Barrett suit featuring embossed black flowers to accept his NBA MVP Award this summer. “It was made in eight days just to have it from the runway to L.A. It had to be hand carried from Milan,” said Kesha McLeod, Harden’s stylist.

Shoe selects: Balenciaga Triple S, Chanel sneakers, Raf Simons x Adidas, Saint Laurent Chelsea boots. “He wants the luxury of everything. He loves the texture.” — McLeod.

On his style rise: “Overall, with the season he had on court it was time to take everything to the next level.” — McLeod.

Best Shoe Game: PJ Tucker

Designers he’s wearing: Jerry Lorenzo, Tom Ford, Gucci, Nick Fouquet

Aesthetic accolades: 2018 Sports Illustrated Fashionable 50

Kick game: He reportedly spent $200K on sneakers last season.

What a stylist says: “I love his personal style. He styles himself during season, but he also has a unique sense of style because he played overseas for four years, so he is really into fashion and knows the brands,” said Geran.

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This Is Why Kanye West Wore Those Too-Small Yeezy Slides That Twitter Mocked

By now, you’ve likely already seen those pictures of Kanye West sporting slides that were a few sizes too small for his feet at 2 Chainz’s wedding on Aug. 18 in Miami. (In case you missed it, here’s a peek at the shoes.)

It’s been a little over a week since the viral moment, with the internet, and even his wife, Kim Kardashian, roasting the rapper-designer’s choice to wear ill-fitting Yeezy Season 6 slip-ons. Now, West has come to defend his footwear choice, reasoning on Twitter with accompanying images that the sized-down pair was worn “the Japanese way.”


yeezy season 6 slides, kanye west feet

West rocking Yeezy Season 6 slides.
CREDIT: Splash News

One photo depicting a caricature of a traditional Japanese shoe illustrates that “the straps should be snug but not too tight between the two toes,” with the heel needing to “extend 1-2 cm off the back of the wooden sole.” Another simply shows a foot on a slide, indicating the appropriate measurement between heel and the back of the shoe with red lines and a two-way arrow.

Offering a lesson in style, West argues that the wearer’s heel should fall slightly off the shoe, à la Japanese zōri.

Whether it’s a trick to prevent blisters or a hack that helps with overall balance, one thing’s for sure: West’s fashion sense has earned enough publicity for the shoe, which is now sold out on Yeezy Supply.

Separately, West tweeted a photo of a T-shirt designed by fashion Instagram sensation Diet Prada, which was printed with drawings of the infamous slides in a number of motions.

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APL Just Delivered the Next Must-Have Slide in Bold Colors — Here’s How to Buy a Pair Now

Slides are as hot as the weather right now, and APL may have delivered one of the most sizzling looks of the summer.

Out online now is the APL Big Logo TechLoom Slide, which can be picked up at  Athleticpropulsionlabs.com for $100 each. And if you’re interested in having many color options, you’re in luck: The brand released several different hues for men and women.

Both can pick pairs up in black, cosmic gray, gray denim, mauve, parchment and red. And blush and sunbeam yellow are out for women only.


APL Big Logo TechLoom Slide

The debut colorways of the new APL Big Logo TechLoom Slide.
CREDIT: APL

The APL Big Logo TechLoom Slide is machine-washable and weighs in at 4 ounces. The look boasts a seamless and flexible TechLoom strap (with oversized APL branding) featuring a mesh backing to keep your foot cool and dry. It also has antimicrobial mesh on top of the 3-D molded footbed built to massage the foot with every stride, and the brand’s new lightweight Propelium midsole and outsole. Finishing the slide is a segmented lattice-grid traction pattern for comfort and structural integrity.

“We sought out to create the world’s most comfortable slide. … We engineered this slide to the highest degree, as we do with all of our footwear and are very excited to be entering in the slide market,” Adam Goldston, co-founder of APL, explained in a statement.

And Ryan Goldston, co-founder of APL and brother of Adam, added, “We approached creating a slide in the same manner that we do for creating a running shoe. It was important to us to treat the design process very similar to the one we use for all our other footwear. We started with reimagining how a slide could be constructed and what materials we were looking to utilize. The result is what we truly believe is the world’s most comfortable slide.”


APL Big Logo TechLoom Slide

A look at the APL Big Logo TechLoom Slide.
CREDIT: APL


APL Big Logo TechLoom Slide

Another look at the new APL Big Logo TechLoom Slide for men and women.
CREDIT: APL

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These $28 Combat Boots Are So Popular, They’re Going Viral

Combat boots are set to be a huge trend this season. To help you find the perfect pair, we’ve scoured the internet high and low to see which styles people are already loving — and this option from Daily Shoes is quickly topping the list.

The brand’s military combat boots for women have a whopping 3,289 customer reviews on Amazon, more than half of which are five stars. Retailing for as low as $28, the midcalf style features sleek buckle details and comes in 24 versatile colors perfect for completing any wardrobe. But it’s more than just their aesthetic shoppers are raving about. In addition to featuring a surprisingly plush insole, the pair is equipped with a hidden interior pocket — so you can go completely purse-free on days when you need to carry only a few essentials (like credit cards, keys and even a phone charger).

Another bonus? Customers also noted that the boot is super-roomy up top, making it a perfect pick for people who have larger calves.

So what are you waiting for? Shop the in-demand style just in time for fall.

Daily Shoes Women’s Military Combat Boots

DailyShoes Women's Military Combat Boots

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Aretha Franklin Wears Bright-Red Louboutin Spike Heels in Her Gold Casket — And They Have a Hidden Meaning

Aretha Franklin will be remembered in fabulous fashion — the acclaimed singer would not have it any other way.

The Queen of Soul had a grand public viewing today at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit after dying of pancreatic cancer at age 76 on Aug. 16.


christian louboutin shoes, red dress, Promethean casket, Aretha Franklin lies in her casket at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History during a public visitation in Detroit, . Franklin died Aug. 16, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76Aretha Franklin, Detroit, USA - 28 Aug 2018

Aretha Franklin lies in her Promethean casket wearing Christian Louboutin shoes.
CREDIT: Paul Sancya/Shutterstock

The two-day public event precedes her funeral on Friday, but fans will have lasting memories of her one of her final looks. Franklin is seen in a shiny, gold Promethean casket clad in a red lace dress with custom red stilettos by Christian Louboutin. The shoes have a glossy upper and pointy profile on a nearly 5-inch heel.

Sabrina Owens, her niece, shared in an interview with “Inside Edition” that the red colors symbolize her membership in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, adding that the outfit looked like “something she would have selected for herself.” The floral arrangements also had a hue significant to the singer — pink, her favorite color.


christian louboutin shoes, red dress, Promethean casket, Aretha Franklin lies in her casket at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History during a public visitation in Detroit, . Franklin died Aug. 16, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76Aretha Franklin, Detroit, USA - 28 Aug 2018

Aretha Franklin lies in her casket at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
CREDIT: Paul Sancya/Shutterstock

Franklin was a fan of making eye-catching fashion statements, often wearing furs, jewels and embellished heels.

She began her career in her teens singing gospel music at church, later catapulting to fame with her hit “Respect” topping the charts in 1967.

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Kanye West Teases Glow-in-the-Dark Yeezy Boost 350 V2s on Twitter

Every time a new Kanye West-designed Yeezy gets revealed, the sneaker world goes nuts. So it’s a safe bet that the attention of sneakerheads will be solely focused on what he just posted to Twitter.

The creative just revealed a pair of glow-in-the-dark Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 styles, monochromatic looks boasting highlighter-esque green and orange hues.

“Can’t wait for these glow in the dark 350s ??????,” West wrote on the Twitter post with the accompanying photo of lateral views of the sneakers.

While the rapper-producer posted an image and teased the possibility of these two sneakers releasing, he refrained from posting a release date or price point.

But this isn’t the only noise West made on the social media platform today. This afternoon, he explained through a photo why he wore what many fans called ill-fitting slippers with wife Kim Kardashian to the wedding of fellow rap star 2 Chainz. He said he wears the style the “Japanese way.”

One photo depicting a caricature of a traditional Japanese shoe illustrates that “the straps should be snug but not too tight between the two toes,” with the heel needing to “extend 1-2 cm off the back of the wooden sole.” Another simply shows a foot on a slide, indicating the appropriate measurement between heel and the back of the shoe with red lines and a two-way arrow.

Offering a lesson in style, West argues that the wearer’s heel should fall slightly off the shoe, à la Japanese zōri.

Whether it’s a trick to prevent blisters or a hack that helps with overall balance, one thing’s for sure: West’s fashion sense has earned enough publicity for the shoe, which is now sold out on Yeezy Supply.

 

Shoe Carnival’s Strong Performance Is a Good Sign for Footwear Retailers

Things are feeling festive at Shoe Carnival going into the third quarter of the year.

The mid-price chain, which operates 402 stores across 35 states and Puerto Rico, followed DSW’s lead on Tuesday in beating Wall Street estimates for Q2 revenues and earnings. Executives also said August — a key month for back-to-school — was off to a strong start, with comparable sales up 7.6 percent over last year.

“We’re happy with the initial sales in the bootie category especially,” said Cliff Sifford, Shoe Carnival’s president and CEO on a call with investors and analysts, adding that the company expects these seasonal offerings to be particularly popular with shoppers, weather permitting.

For the second quarter ended Aug. 4, women’s non-athletic footwear saw double-digit gains, Stifford said, outstripping the retailer’s other categories, which were mostly up mid-single digits.

The Evansville, Indiana-based chain also raised its full-year outlook, bumping earnings per share to between $2.07-$2.15, largely above the consensus estimate of $2.08 and up from a prior view of $1.90-$2.05. Net sales increased 14.2 percent for the second quarter to $268.4 million, and comparable sales were up 6.7 percent over last year.

Christopher Svezia, SVP Footwear and Apparel Analyst at Wedbush said the results represented “a nice comp outperformance that was broad-based and at favorable margins,” and pointed to the company’s momentum as it approaches fall.

“Overall, the sector continues to see generally strong performance given favorable weather, product trends and availability —and a generally strong consumer backdrop,” Svezia told FN.

While Sifford cautioned that the Shoe Carnival customer “shops at need” and so sales of boots and booties will rely on falling temperatures, he said the company plans to have everything they want when they do.

“We made a decision going into this year that we were going to focus on key categories, the exec said. “We’ve taken the same philosophy for fall. We’re not afraid to buy in depth on key categories.”