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CountryStrong Training

Train like Mickey Mantle!

CountryStrong training is a method of training in which pure strength is transferred to life and sport.

Barry Heyden has been around, trained, tested and spoken to some of the strongest athletes in sports.  Many were the strongest and never worked out in the weight room.  They completed manual labor, farm work, construction, delivered ice blocks, moved furniture, etc.  Back in the day before large salaries, pro athletes had to work hard labor jobs in the off-season.

To further explain his method, here is an excerpt from “A biography of Mickey Mantle” by Lewis Early:


“Mickey also developed tremendous strength working at the lead mines during the summers. One job in particular, that of “screen ape,” was responsible for Mickey’s incredibly strong wrists, shoulders, arms and forearms. A screen ape smashed large rocks into small stones with a sledgehammer. There were two screen apes, one of whom smashed rocks until he couldn’t hold the hammer any longer, and then rested while the other took his turn. The strength Mickey developed from this work and other farm chores gave him the strength to hit some of the longest home runs in the history of the game.

His speed was unbelievable to Yankees’ manager Casey Stengel. He was clocked at an incredible 2.9 seconds from home to first on a left-handed drag bunt (after his 1951 World Series injury he slowed to a still blazing 3.1 seconds), and could round the bases in an amazing 13 seconds! He pounded homers to places where a ball had rarely been seen hit before.

No one in the history of the game has hit the ball farther than Mickey Mantle. His 565-foot home run hit at Griffith Stadium in Washington on April 17, 1953 is the home run that coined the term “tape measure home run.” It’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest home run ever measured. Guinness also notes that Mickey’s 643-foot homer hit at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium on September 10, 1960 is the longest home run measured “mathematically after the fact.”

In an exhibition game at the University of Southern Red arrows show the paths of two historic Mickey Mantle home runs hit at Bovard Field, USC on March 26, 1951. The longer one was measured to have traveled 656 feet! California during his rookie spring training in 1951 Mickey walloped a 656-foot shot left-handed that left Bovard Field and crossed an adjacent football field. It may be the longest home run in history. It was also his second monster homer of the game. He also hit a ball right-handed that cleared the left-field wall and landed on top of a three-story house well over 500 feet away. As Mickey’s teammate and close friend Billy Martin put it, “No man in the history of baseball had as much power as Mickey Mantle. No man. When you’re talking about Mickey Mantle – it’s an altogether different level. Separates the men from the boys.”"


Biofile with Hank Aaron:

“I mowed some yards, picked some potatoes. The best job I ever had was delivering ice. It would come in 25-pound blocks and we had tongs to carry them into the houses.  I believe that my style was developed by batting against bottle caps as a kid.”


Barry has created a method and place to train like Mickey and Hank did as a kid and in the off-season.
Bailing hay, swinging sledge hammers and axes, fence post-digging, walking barefoot, climbing walls and ropes, carrying ice blocks, bags of stone, wheeling wheel barrows, walking on beams, vibration of jack hammers, pulling fire hoses, moving furniture, shoveling stones, and lifting and moving rocks are just some of the CountryStrong training techniques we use.  We teach CORRECT MOVEMENT MECHANICS WHILE COMPLETING THESE TASKS, AND EACH TASK REINFORCES CORRECT MOVEMENT PATTERNS THAT ARE SAFE AND DEVELOP PURE STRENGTH.

Barry Heyden on CountryStrong:

As I write this workers are in front of my NYC Brownstone using a jack hammer and pounding concrete with sledgehammers.  This is my thesis and idea for CountryStrong Training.  With the current and recent trend of injuries in Pro Sports, people are questioning and trying to find the reasons why they are occurring at such an alarming rate.

When I go around and speak with old timers, many of them say, “These young current players don’t know what a hard day of work is.”  As a Pro Strength Coach with the Texas Rangers and NY Mets I noticed that some of the strongest, fastest and healthy athletes did not lift weights or workout, but hunted, worked outside baling hay on the farm, or did construction.  While speaking with other trainers and strength coaches, many have said the farm guys, or outdoor workers are some of the toughest, strongest and most durable.  The Boise State trainer told me many logging stories.  Children that grew up barefoot and ran outdoors in open fields developed into fast athletes.  

If you are not a believer, try shaking the hand of an Ol’Time bricklayer, farm worker, boatyard worker or carpenter.  They can crush your hand with their grip!

I have researched and listened to many stories of Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron and Nolan Ryan.  I've had lunch in the NY Jets cafeteria with Tim Tebow and discussed how he was raised.

Weight rooms did not exist until the early 80’s with many pro teams and colleges.  Performance training centers were not even in existence at that point in time.

CountryStrong is not only physical strength and power, but a mental toughness as a result of overcoming adversity.  When working on something that is repetitive and grueling, the human body will figure out a way to overcome by creating proper form and building specific muscles needed to do the work.  So the old addage goes: only the strong survive.


County Strong is based on nature: tending to and working and eating from the earth.  The sun provides essential Vitamin D, which is now at a deficit in many human beings.


Quotes from Luther Standing Bear:

"Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library."

"The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth. Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The birds that flew into the air came to rest upon the earth and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing"


"The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too."


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