So You Want Bulk
by Earle Liederman (1953)
You may start with horses – a race horse and a truck horse. The race horse is kept trained down by exercising it with the speediest work and carefully watching its food intake; whereas a truck horse is utilized for hauling heavy loads which require no speed. And the more of these heavy loads the truck horse pulls, the bigger it becomes – and the more it eats. But it is the effort of pulling a load that makes the horse become stronger. I recall the days of my youth, before automobiles, when the horse was the sole means of getting products form here to there. I remember the huge brewery horses with a lot of hair around their feet. They were hitched to an extra large truck that held about a hundred barrels of beer. Usually two horses were needed for the job, but what huge animals they were! Power was displayed right from the first strain against the strong harnesses as they leaned forward to get the extra heavy truck into motion. And these horses were really fat things – wide of back, heavy of neck and with substantial legs. Only such sort of horses were sought for such hauling and by the time that they were kept in harness for a year, their strength had greatly increased. That was my first example of what heavy work meant for greater increase in bulk and power, yet in those days m thoughts ran elsewhere. Now I can use the horses as an opening example of the value of slow heavy work as a means for gaining strength and bulk.
So I must now switch to lifters. By lifters I do not necessarily mean just bodybuilders, for there are a gang of topflight lifters who have never given a thought to muscles, or the size of same, or to how they might shape up before vanity’s mirror. These fellows take greater pride in actual ability. And among all of these weightlifters you will find a bunch of well proportioned men. Some may not have the muscle control of one who specializes on muscle posing, nor will any of them possess the muscle separation of a bodybuilder who trains for muscle shape, yet the muscles of all strength lifters have the powerful ligaments, fibers and quality superior to the muscles made by constant repetitions. True, some lifters do both. They train for development as well as for power, yet the top ones lean more towards muscle strength and consider their muscles secondary.
Now then, if specializing in lifting supplies greater power and heavier proportions, which it does, it certainly is the solution to the problem of adding bulk to one’s framework. Those who practice the three Olympic lifts and who, after sufficient practice, call it a day, might offer profit to the reader who wishes more bulk. However, I do not advocate over-enthusiasm with heavy work. Many might feel that the more heavy work they do, the quicker they will acquire the desired bulk. There is such a thing as overdoing anything. Overtraining will keep anyone form accomplishing his purpose. Just sufficient effort should be expended and no more. None should lift and lift until fatigued, rather stop before becoming too tired. In plain words, common sense should be used.
By adhering to strict lifting and disregarding efforts towards muscle separation, the dimensions of all the bodyparts will increase, but there will be a loss of definition to a great degree. Of course, when anyone feels that he is big enough, he can always change his diet and training and revert to strict musclebuilding movements and regain, or acquire, the separation wanted. Each form of training will help the other, yet the heavy lifting will better aid the muscles than will strict muscle-training aid the lifting. If you want strength you must use strength to get it. And in using power you also gain more muscle, the contour of which will be better defined after a long period of specialization work.
It may be of interest to relate the experience of one fellow who was dissatisfied with his size and felt too slim for his height at the time. He is Fred Chamberlain, of
The first example of his experimentations began with the curl. The amount of weight for this standing curl if done is strict style is limited, especially at the sticking point. Much more poundage can be used at other places during the exercise, so Fred broke down the exercise into four parts. He began loading the bar to 400 pounds and then, by bending forward, would swing the bell up an inch or two. This placed extra heavy work upon the lower insertion of the biceps. Next he worked the belly of the biceps by lessening the load, half-bending his arms and curling as much weight as possible up and down a few inches. After that he worked the top section of the movement by doing lean-back curls of a few inches with the bar near his shoulders. Finally, in lowering the bar, he used the “Zeller” style. See this article for an explanation of the Zeller Curl - http://classicphysiquebuilder.blogspot.com/2008/05/so-what-is-zeller-curl.html
From such bicep training he obtained 18-inch arms, cold.
The same principle was applied to squats. Fred loaded his bar to 600 lbs. and did quarter-squats; then he worked the middle section by performing the same very limited motions with his legs in a half-bent posture so that the thighs moved but a few inches, up and down. After this he worked full squats with as heavy a poundage as possible for 3 reps. he also utilized a leg press by pressing up with 825 lbs. and then lowering it as slowly as possible with one leg only, for 3 reps. In a few of his extra heavy exercises he used only one repetition. In other words, Fred Chamberlain did those “truck-horse” starts with his greater initial effort, and if he was performing 3 reps, naturally, he was forced to make three great starting efforts.
The principles he used for curls and squats he also applied to other lifts, and it was from such training that, after much training, he finally obtained the size he desired, along with a great increase in full body strength.
He does a unique exercise for his leg biceps, which consists of placing a 200 lb. barbell upon boxes and kneeling under it so that his body slants forward as the bar rests on his shoulders. With his heels locked under it so that his body slants forward under another barbell to hold them firmly, he performs a sudden heave by straightening his body and contracting he hamstrings and buttocks. He is still experimenting with this special movement and hopes to eventually secure 29 inch thighs with more power by specially developing the his thigh biceps to a great degree.
Another training exercise worth mentioning which Chamberlain does consists of lifting a wooden barrel, 22 inches in diameter at the widest part and 33 ½ inches from end-to-end. He fills this cask until it weighs 325 pounds and lifts it above his knees, using outside hand grip. He has done 350 pounds with the same barrel, but missed at 363 when he became too ambitious too quickly.
Now, the experiences of Fred Chamberlain are worthy of retaining, for if such methods of training can give him the extra bulk and power he really wanted, then surely they should help others. And even though an individual may not care to duplicate Fred’s regime, at least it will afford an idea as to the value of low reps and great exertions.
I fully believe that a movement which cannot be done more than three times will help strength and bulk-building much more than other motions of six or eight reps. Of course, one should use judgment and common sense by first getting his muscles warmed up before attempting any extra heavy lifting. To not do so would prove dangerous. Also, should the ambition exceed the ability, it would be additional foolishness to strive to lift an object, barbell or otherwise, if it just cannot yet be done. In other words, find your limit through careful tests, first and always, and never drive yourself beyond your general capacity for accepting unusual resistance. No matter how much a horse is whipped, if the load is absolutely too great, it will not move.