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Why you should buy a calf: The Milo of Croton Story

2015 Update

Back in 2013 one of our coaches wrote a really cool post about Milo of Croton, the father of weight lifting. While Coach David has moved on to bigger and better things we still love reading his post and really feel like the message is still applicable.

The core concept is “to gain strength and add pounds to your lifts, progressively add weight to your lifts every week until you can no longer lift the weight“. But this concept works for more than just weightlifting. Progressively adding small increments of intensity to your workouts while being safe and consistent is fundamental to how we do things here at CrossFit Regeneration.

If you’re interested in learning more about CrossFit Regeneration and how we do things in our gym check out our “No Sweat” Intro.
Here’s Coach David’s post in its entirety:


Why you should buy a calf: The Milo of Croton Story

by David Diaz


I have a challenge for you and it’s very paleo. The challenge is very simple at first and then progressively gets a lot harder. What is the challenge you ask?

Buy a calf and lift it every day……….for four years.

That’s it, it’s that simple and why should you do it? I’m glad you asked, there is a story of a man named Milo and he is one of the defining characters in all of strength and conditioning lore, he is from Croton, which is in Greece somewhere.

Anyway the story of Milo goes like this, when Milo was a child he had a young bull calf and every day for four years he would go and lift the calf on his shoulders. After four years he lifted the now full size bull on his shoulders and carried it around for a little bit then slaughtered it and ate the entire bull in a day.

Has this story been fabricated? No, it is 100% fact. Even if it is not, here are some more fun facts about Milo taken from his very own Wikipedia page: His daily diet consisted of 20 lbs. of meat, 20 lbs. of bread, and eighteen pints of wine (nutrition challenge anyone?). It is said that Milo carried his own bronze statue to the place in Olympia where it still stands; he could snap a band fastened around his brow just by inhaling and making his temples swell, and he was compared to Hercules in terms of strength. Can all of these be exaggerations? I hope not, the guy is my ancient Greek hero…..see what I did there? Moving on, here are a few reasons why we should all look up to Milo of Croton.

  • First of all we all need to look up to him because the man was a literal giant.
  • Second, he is the father of weight lifting, can you think of a better example of progressive overload?
  • Third, he was at the peak of his sport for 24 years, that’s pretty much a quarter of a century performing at the top of athletic prowess, very, very impressive.
  • Fourth, as legend has it he died by a pack of wolves when he was trying to rip a tree stump asunder, how many would even attempt ripping asunder anything besides a cantaloupe?

What can we learn from the life and death of such a man? Mainly we can learn that great feats of strengths and accomplishments can come about through patient training, what I mean by that is Milo didn’t wake up one day and become an Olympic champion he started training at a very young age and didn’t stop. Secondly, we can learn that for beginner lifters, the best way to gain strength and add pounds to lifts is to progressively add weight to your lifts every week until you can no longer lift the weight. Finally, and most importantly what Milo of Croton taught us is that if we want a body like a Greek god all we have to do is go buy a calf and lift it every day for four years. BOOM!

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David Diaz is the Training Director at CrossFit Regeneration in Louisville, KY.

Some say he looks like Superman.

Other say he is…