Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Squat Snatch - David Martin

Happy New Year!

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Steve Reeves, John Grimek

The Squat Snatch
by David Martin (1953)

While on the subject of improving British lifting performances I would like to point out that for a variety of reasons my own lifts are not particularly good, and also impress on readers that mere “know-how” will not help them lift much more weight. It is on this point of “basic strength” that I agree with both Charles Coster, but disagree with him on the matter of the “trainability” of Strength being easier than that of Technique. Starting off as a 7 ½ stone weakling with as bad a set of reflexes as one could have, I have found that neither technique nor basic strength can be trained for “easily.”

This does not mean that either are impossible of attainment or improvement, but I do think that there are limits for certain people who, like myself, start off low down the scale. Further, I also believe that in spite of my own mediocre ability I am still in possession of enough “know-how” to help others. Only, however, if they apply the information given them and understand it thoroughly.

I don’t know if any of you boys have heard of G. I. Gurdjieff but he was a pre-revolution combination of Frank Buchman and Bernard Shaw. He was smart enough to move to Paris where they had more time and patience with what some may call “cranks of that sort” – however, I only mention him because of a statement he makes in the preface to one of his books.
Here it is:

“I want you to read this book
Three Times.
The first time – as you read your
The second time look at the Words.
The third time look at the Meaning
of the Words.”

Which sounds a bit of a cheek but that’s the way most philosophers treat their disciples. Now Larry Barnholt’s book on the Squat Snatch says the same thing more politely – it just says, “read this book over and over again.” I have done so and feel that the Barnholt boys who know their stuff may have overestimated their readers. Therefore, I am taking the liberty in this article of expanding their instructions slightly for the benefit of those who cannot read between the lines.

Before going into technicalities, however small, I must urge all my readers to try the Squat Snatch and to try it seriously for a while, because once the growing pains are over you might find that you can lift more in this manner than in the conventional split style.

However, once you have decided on the style you are going to use, you should not “fiddle about” for one reason, and that is that the secret of lifting technique is to cultivate good lifting habits. Your feet, hands and body must move without thought, automatically – it is therefore important to go through one set of motions as often as possible to build up habit grooves.

Now, about the precise interpretation of the Squat Snatch movements.

First, about the loosening of the shoulders. I was surprised to note that the Barnholt Brothers never used the word “dislocation” once. Yet the ability to take a barbell right overhead and down the back without bending the elbows is perhaps best demonstrated in another medium by the “dislocation” on the rings. If you can get a pair of Roman Rings to play on, by all means try the “Flying Dislocation” as well as the usual exercise of taking a broomstick with straight arms overhead and down behind the back.

Go easy with dislocation exercises as the deltoid muscle and shoulder structure are among the easiest to strain and the hardest to treat and heal.

The second point about the Squat Snatch which beginners are inclined to overlook is the immediate recovery. Perhaps the many photographs of Dave Sheppard and Pete George snapped at the lowest point of the Squat Snatch have helped us to think that this position is held for a long time. They certainly look “set for life” down there, but the Barnholts are quite definite about the “bounce up” and it will be quite obvious once you think of it that you can bounce up with much more than you could slowly rise with.

So, there are two points I am underlining for the Squat Snatcher:

1) Learn to be able to dislocate the shoulders forwards and backwards with ease.
2) Learn to bounce up from the full squat speedily and safely.

Now, for the third and last point – the Jump down to the Squat. This is precisely what happens – You do NOT “squat down.”

Let us take the split style first. Once the weight has reached eye-level, you “fling” the feet fore and aft, flexing the front knee as far as possible. By reason of the fact that the forward leg has a greater freedom of movement than the rear leg, this means that as you descend the rear foot will touch the floor first. This should throw the body slightly forward under the weight – repeating the action of the Egyptian Camel Step but doing this much snappier as the body is falling freely. At the same time as the legs are flung fore and aft, the arms are pushed upwards vigorously, which should accelerate the downward thrust of the body and cause the feet to slam on the floor.

Now, when Squat Snatching, there is no thrust from the rear leg, therefore the body has to come forward and the feet must jump forward in order to be in a position to balance the weight.

So, in the Squat Snatch as the weight passes eye-level, the head is poked out through the arms and the knees are both curled up to the chest while the seat is thrust well back. The arms are thrust vigorously upward against the weight which in turn shoves the body down against the knees. The body now in the full squat position, but slightly clear of the floor, should slam down on the feet and the chest, recoiling off the knees, should start the weight on its upward journey on locked arms.

I think a little free-jumping to “slam down” in the squat position without any weight should be tried just to give you the feeling and the balanced recoil that is necessary.

However, I repeat, once you have found that one or the other styles suit you, do not swap about any further.

Incidentally, while watching Jumping Jim Halliday breaking the record in the One Hand Snatch, I realized that his claim to be able to snatch in the Squat position as easily as in the Split was well justified. The position in which he finished his one hand snatches was similar to that of the best Squatters except, of course, for the half sideways twist that was necessary to hold the weight overhead with one hand.

As I said earlier, I came into this world from physically less than perfect parents, which brings us to what the late Czech Jan Masaryk would say when asked the reason for his success –
“I had the good sense to pick the President of Czechoslovakia to be my father.”

Train hard to improve your lot.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Weightlifting 4000 Years Ago - Irving Ray Clark

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Weightlifting Nearly 4000 Years Ago
By Irving Ray Clark

The value of halteres in training muscles for other exercises was recognized by the Romans, for in the medical writings of the 2nd Century A.D. “halter throwing” had developed into a regular system of dumbell exercises. Antyllos describes three kinds of halter training – bending and straightening the arms, the lunging, and bending and straightening the trunk, and Galen describes an exercise for the side muscles.

In a treatise on the Preservation of Health by Galen, one of the most famous Physicians of antiquity, there is a lengthy discourse on exercises suited to youths between 14 and 20 in which exercises for the legs, arms and trunk are separated. He further classified exercises into those for toning the muscles without violent movement, quick exercises which promoted activity, and violent exercises. In the first class he included carrying heavy weights and exercises for duo-resistance, and his quick exercises come into the category of violent when performed with halters.

The word “halters” was also probably applied to much weightier dumbells and the like. Martial, a poet and writer of epigrams (A.D. 40-104) asked: “Why do the strong men labor with their stupid dumbells” A far better task for men is digging a vine trench,” a sentiment to which the folks of that day with their unbounded facilities of open air exercises presumably subscribed. However, in modern days one cannot indiscriminately open a trench (vine or otherwise) when one has the urge for exercise, so the stupidity of which the poet speaks is perhaps not quite so apparent in those who still “labor” with their dumbells.

Weightlifting was not confined to Greece either. It was also practiced in ancient Egypt, according to Gardiner, who shows a drawing of an athlete lifting a huge tapering weight in the style known to us as the swing.

Weightlifting in a form presumably resembling what we practice today is traceable back in the country at least 400 years, but before referring to this ancient “heavy bar lifting” it is necessary, in order to place it in its proper perspective, to examine its connection with heavy athletics. Fundamentally all gymnastics or sport-gymnastics (such as weightlifting now is) spring from Athletics, using that word in the ancient Grecian sense of fundamental movements: running, leaping throwing, etc.

In this field we can go back even further than the traceable reference to Athletics among the ancient Greeks, for it is believed that the Irish (Tailtin) Games held as far back as 1829 B.C., no less than 3,679 years ago as I write, included weight-throwing under the name of “rotheleas” or the “wheel feat.”

Then, according to Strutt’s “Sports and Pastimes of the People of England” (Edition of 1831) “Throwing of heavy weights and stones with the hands was much practiced in former times and as this pastime required great strength and muscular exertion, it was a very popular exercise for military men.”

In Montague Sherman’s review of the history of Athletic Sports (The Badminton Library) competitions in running, jumping and hurling of heavy weights are said to be one of the chief characteristics of both town and country life in England as far back as chronicles will reach. For example, young Londoners in the reign of Henry II (1154-1189) cast the stone amongst other exercises practiced in open spaces set apart for them.

In Scotland we learn from “Sports and Pastimes of Scotland” (Fittis, 1891) that putting the stone, tossing the caber and throwing the hammer are among the oldest of the Highland Games. In former times it appeared to have been the custom in Scotland to have a putting stone lying at the gate of every chieftain’s house and on the arrival of a stranger he was asked as a compliment to throw.

Another Scotch feat was to raise a stone of at least 200 lbs. weight from the ground and deposit it on top of another four feet high, and when a “stripling” could accomplish this he was thereupon deemed a man and allowed to wear a bonnet.

Strutt goes on to say that “casting of the bar is frequently mentioned by the ‘romance writers’ as one part of a hero’s education,” and a poet of the 16th Century thought it highly commendable, even for Kings and Princes by way of exercise to “caste by violence the stone, barre or plummett.”

In Medieval Times

Henry VIII (1509-1548) after his succession to the throne, according to Hall and Holinshead, retained “the casting of the barre” amongst his many and varied amusements. This sport had not always been in Royal favor, as the Kings of England were afraid that the practice of Archery might fall into disuse, and we find Edward III (1327-1377) prohibiting, among other things, weight putting or throwing the stone, by proclamation, although even after the accession of Edward II (1307-1327) to the throne, the later’s daily amusements had included such form of exercise.

Such weightlifting as there is in the form of small dumbell work was also known in early times in this country. John Northbrook, in a treatise against Diceing, Dancing, etc. written in the time of Queen Elizabeth (1588-1603) advised young men by way of amusement to “labour with poyses’ of leadde or other metall” which consisted “in brandishing of two sticks grasped in each hand and laden with plugs of leadde at either end” which pastime “opened the chest, exercised the limbs and gave a man all the pleasure of boxing without the blows.”

The first traceable mention of weightlifting or straightforward barbell work in England appears in “The bake named The Governour” (the book entitled “The Governor”) published by Sir Thomas Elyot, in the year 1531, relating to the education suitable for a gentleman’s son who prepared to serve the Commonwealth. Under the head of “sondry fourmes of exercise necessary for every gentleman” and “Touching such exercises, as many be used within the house” appears “Liftynge . . . the heavy . . . barre . . .” thereafter lost for some considerable time, but might not one assume that, as with “pitching the barre” (Stowe’s Survey of London, 1720), it became one of the diversions of the “lower classes” only, including the pleasurable reactions usually associated with the latter pastime it feel into disuse, shorn of the patronage which has always been such a feature of popular English sports and games!

It has, however, seriously occurred to me that for centuries a certain amount of “class distinction” appeared to have entered into sports and athletics in this country, and that this even now this may be reflected in our comparatively poor showing in the Heavy Athletics field, including Field events and Heavyweight Boxing and Wrestling. In other words, the more “manual” types of physical endeavor have never been fully catered for or fostered and in one glaring instance, Rowing, definite and deliberate rules were laid down forbidding manual workers to compete in certain events.

An interesting theory, and I content myself here by showing one or two examples. According to Strutt, James I (1603-1625), addressing his oldest son, declared that whilst bodily exercises and games were very commendable, he debarred all rough and violent exercises at his court. In Poachman’s “Complete Gentleman” (1622), throwing the hammer and wrestling were held “not so good.” In “Hereward the Wake” one of the characters is reprimanded for consorting with athletes of that type.

Generally, Lindhard (“Theory of Gymnastics) points out that up to the beginning of the 19th Century athletics were always the privilege of a chosen few, of the patrician of antiquity of the Middle Ages and the upper classes of the age of enlightenment.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Confidence - W.A. Pullum

Figures 1, 2, 3.
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Fig 4

Fig 5

Confidence is Half the Battle
By W.A. Pullum

Confidence, ‘tis said, is half the battle, and as this relates to supreme achievements at weightlifting, certainly this is so. To expect to do a thing, whatever it may be, sets to work the powers which make it possible under the best conditions. Frees them from the shackling handicap of half-hearted endeavour, brought about by fears of hesitating uncertainty – products of an indecisive outlook!

Confidence to the extent of expecting success in the performance of a weightlifting feat is built, in the first place – or it should be – on factual knowledge subconsciously operating; knowledge that all bodily positions going to be assumed are automatically dependable. It then proceeds from belief – a state of mind arising from appreciation of apparent physical powers possessed at that moment, computed from the “feel” of the weight. Assuming technique dependable, this is the deciding factor. If the weight feels “liftable” it CAN be lifted. That is a factual presumption!

As we are dealing now with matters of the mind, it is instructive to remark that all the greatest champions and record breakers that I have known, were (or are) men who never allowed themselves to be hypnotized by poundages; that is to say, to be intimidated by the figures of the weight. The only thing that influenced them was how it felt, according to their powers of the time. Because of that, they seldom attempted feats which were beyond the bounds of possibility. For the really great champion lifter is not prone to kid himself. At least, not when “on the job.”

Confidence – A Valuable Possession

Confidence has several aspects which are worthy of study. It not only manifests itself in the form of competent self-assurance, as this may be displayed in connection with the essay of some great weightlifting feat. Determination eventually to succeed with that feat, when it is first envisaged, can build itself on an innate belief that the feat is ultimately possible. Confidence can also be the feeding force all the time responsible for the sustainment of staminal morale. And without question, it plays a great part in the establishment of that particular faculty which I have dealt with in the past – the sense of balance!

Confidence, in all its aspects, is a valuable possession, as by its use great achievements become possible in all walks of lift. And no man has a better opportunity to develop this faculty within himself than the thoughtfully reasoning weightlifter. As many men have discovered to their advantage – not confined to champions at that! This psychological byproduct of its practice is one of the things which makes the Iron Game such a fascinating pursuit.

The first of the five pictures illustrating this article is an example of how one thoughtfully reasoning weightlifter successfully creates confidence within himself for an attempt on something which otherwise would little or no confidence backing the effort. It is a photograph of Jim Halliday about to essay a Press – a lift on which he does not shine because of structural handicaps. Study his position and general bearing, and it will be seen by anyone who understands these things that they represent confidence personified. That is because Jim has positively “willed” himself to a confident outlook, and the position he has taken up not only depicts this, but, as he knows – no one better – will assist him as far as this is possible.

Just as it is very difficult for some great actors to be really anything but themselves, no matter how they are cast – their individual personalities being so strong, their various idiosyncrasies so marked – so it is equally difficult for an experienced lifter to manufacture a belief that his powers are greater than they would seem to be, and confidently proceed on that assumption. Determination may impel him to try to make the superior essay, emotional stress (by its excitation of the nervous system) may temporarily supply the additional force and drive to make it possible. But it won’t proceed from possibility to certainty unless a supremely confident belief is held in mind that the latter IS GOING TO BE SO!

Study Jim’s Methods

Halliday has done such astonishing things in weightlifting – under the most adverse conditions possible to conceive – that an examination of his methods (so far as these can be legitimately be disclosed) is evidently well worth while. One has only to remember the base from which he restarted lifting after the war – 3 ½ years in a Japanese prison camp – to appreciate that these methods must be worthy of study, considering what they have since done for him, not only in the lifting sphere but the bodybuilding one also.

Jim is a great believer in the practice of special “assistance exercises” for everything that comes within the orbit of his activities; that particular type of exercise which I designed and so named in 40 years ago or more (-1910). It would therefore be very strange if one found that in his curriculum there were not some included for the promotion of the confidence factor.

Regular practice – when he IS able to practice, that is – of the position shown in Fig. 1, allied with the state of mind discussed, is one of them. So is the movement shown proceeding in Fig. 2, which is the “high pull in” (clean) without split, the bell being fixed at the chest with only a slight “give” at the knees as the heels come back to the ground. Jim has reached a very high poundage in this exercise, and it is this exercise, as much as anything else, which has made him so confident and powerful a performer on the heaviest of the Olympic three.

Jim has another favorite for developing confidence, which is all his own. This is his commendable penchant for correctly lowering weights which he has jerked overhead, first to the chest, then to the ground. Fig. 4 shows the bell just having been “turned off” the chest (note its height from the ground and the distinguishing angle of the arms). Fig 5 showing what invariably happens when he releases hold of the bell after it has been lowered in this special way – the agile recoil action which has caused him to be alliteratively called “Jumping Jim”.

Fig 3 shows him performing another confidence developing movement, a “crossed hands” Snatch, first shown in this country by Hermann Goerner, the 17 stone, 7 pound German strongman who was placed in my hands for management by Tromp van Diggelen, who had made his acquaintance in South Africa. The weight of the bell Jim is using in the photograph is 150 lbs. He is capable, however, of more that – for he has the confidence, as well as the strength required!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Travis Was Tough - Earle Liederman

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Elwood Holbrook

Travis Was Tough
by Earle Liederman

This happened about the year 1916 at Coney Island. I was connected with a sideshow there, and in it Warren Lincoln Travis did his strongman act about 10 to 12 times daily. Hence, I talked to him a lot, saw much of him also; and even tried to lift some of his weights during occasional intervals between his exhibitions. Warren was a rather nice sort of fellow but he had, it seemed to me, a sadistic propensity. He enjoyed making people wilt under his power. Many times I have seen him select a sunburn-faced fellow and coax him up onto the platform where his weights were, and after a few pleasant words with the fellow Travis would suddenly slap him vigorously and repeatedly on the sunburned back until the poor sap cringed and almost collapsed. Lotsa fun! – for Travis. If anyone could be called a backslapper, Travis was IT. Often his mighty arm behind his paw slapped a guy in friendly fashion, of course, so hard upon his back that it was enough to almost knock out all the poor guy’s bridgework. His high pitched, soft voice made one wonder if he were not one of those “gentle boys” who would scream when stepping on a cockroach. Yet, his roughness reminded me of a seven year old grizzly bear playing games. Travis had an ego, too!

At every performance he would flash a genuine $1,000 bill and offer it to anyone who could duplicate his lift of his global 110 lb. dumbell. He first showed the crowd how easily he could do it. After all, 110 pounds isn’t so heavy, and yet not one person ever succeeded in picking this weight up off the floor and putting it overhead with one arm. In the first place, the small handle was about 3” thick and defied the grip holding it even to shoulder level or less. It just slipped. However, I always suspected a trick. I think that Travis had a steel prong under his thick middle finger-ring, and the prong entered an almost hidden slot on the bell’s handle. How else? If so, it would certainly not be the first time this method was employed by a famous strongman. Travis’s hands were not very large ones.

But, back to his roughness. One time when both of us were at leisure, he suddenly pretended to show me how glad he was to see me (This didn’t make sense, as I had already been talking at length with him). He quickly grabbed my hand, swung me around and secured a double arm hold around my lower chest. He squeezed me so hard that he cracked three of my ribs. If anyone who has read this far has ever had a rib fractured, he may well appreciate the lingering sharp pains that followed for the next eight or nine weeks.

Ah yes! There was always six feet of space between him and me afterwards.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cheating Exercises - Charles A. Smith

Larry Scott

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Cheating Exercises – Boon or Bunk
by Charles A. Smith (1960)

In this “without fear or favor” article, Charles Smith, world famous lifting author, makes his return to the Iron Game after several years absence.

In his funeral oration over the body of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has Marc Antony tell the crowd he’s trying to incite to riot that “The evil men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.” Now the Immortal Bard may have been a supreme student of human nature, yet I can’t agree with this particular piece of philosophy.

I believe that the exact reverse is true. Good always lives on and the mistakes a man makes are 99 out of 100 times forgotten. I’ve been out of this Game for a few years now, but during this period my good works have been kept alive by other authors who have not hesitated to use my ideas in their articles. And the number of times my old articles have been reprinted under other titles and bylines has also been a source of satisfaction to me. Those of my prognostications that flopped have mercifully – been forgotten.

That those writers who used my ideas, words and phrases conveniently forgot to mention the source of their material doesn’t matter so much now. What is important is this – that tho’ I’ve been out of the picture for a while, what small amount of good I previously have done has lived on.

I’m now working as a law enforcement officer – a Probation Officer – a field that is in some respects closely allied with the Iron Game. It is active – dynamically so – it is sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes revolting – but always a challenge.

One trait shared by those who come within Probation scope and certain members of the Iron Game is a total inability to face the truth, to escape from a nebulous dream world into the bright sunlight of reality.

What I’m referring to right now, insofar as the lifter and bodybuilder are concerned, is the so-called CHEATING PRINCIPLE and CHEATING EXERCISES. There are some “authorities” who will have you believe it’s a universal weightlifting cure-all – a rocket fast trip to any strength quality iron-slingers may desire. On the reverse side of the coin are those who do all they can to convince you that the principle and exercises have ruined more promising athletic careers than any combination of dope, dames and drink.

In this article let me help you sift fact from fiction and let you decide for yourself just who is right – and it isn’t too tough a job. Just keep an open mind, use your common sense and – if you don’t already possess it – acquire a superficial knowledge of the Iron Game’s history.

Let me make my stand right now and say that I’m all for the Cheating Principle. So far as I’m concerned there’s nothing wrong with it but two things – it’s name and the way it’s sometimes used, and I, and others in the Game who agree with me can produce facts and examples to substantiate our faith in it.

I now challenge any opponent of the Cheating Principle to produce one single valid argument, one single piece of evidence to show that a cheat version of any exercise has ever had an adverse effect – if used correctly and sensibly and moderately.

Look through any lifting or bodybuilding magazine. No matter what strength athletes’ photos grace the pages, you can be certain of one thing – each and every one of them used some form of the Cheating Principle to build his superb strength and development. Later on I’ll deal with a foregoing qualifying statement – “If used sensibly, correctly and moderately.” First let me put the opponents of the principle on the griddle.

Their main objections to the principle are somewhat vague, but are mainly confined to the following: “A cheating exercise never completely exercises a muscle.” “A cheating exercise is a poor movement for a lot of muscles.” “A cheating exercise is bad because it damages muscle tissue and destroys muscle tone.” All these claims are made without the slightest validity.

First let’s try to find out what’s “strict” and what’s “cheating”. I’ve been in the Iron Game for more years than some muscle magazine publishers have been in business. Way back in 1926, during my first weeks as a weight lifter, I listened to a lecture on strict versus cheating exercises, and I still cannot determine what the lecturer had in mind when he described these two qualities, for the simple reason that what was cheating then is considered strict now.

The best I can come up with is that the term “strict” applies to the way a lift should be performed according to the competition rules for that lift – plus the way some lifting officials interpret these rules during a lifting meet – and they can weave around the regulation like a drunk staggering down a straight chalk line for the benefit of arresting officers.

During my old British Amateur Weightlifting Association days there were two particular lifts in the book that even today entirely exemplify the difference between strict and cheating exercises – The Two Hands Clean and Military Press, and The Two Hands Clean and Push.

In the Military Press, the lifter was required to grip the bar with his hands not more than the width of his shoulders apart, knees locked, heels together, toes turned out at an angle of 45 degrees. The entire body from heels to top of the head had to be kept in a strictly military or erect position – no back bending – no knee bending – no hunching and heaving of shoulders – no sudden lowering of the bar and no sudden heaving it overhead – just a straight, strict military press – the weight keeping time to the slowly rising finger of the referee. If you think that Rudy Sablo, the late Charles Ramsey and Charles A. Smith were tough officials, you should have faced Messrs. Lowry, Lavender and Pullum.

Look at the way lifters press today. Not in the old style military press, but in almost exactly the way a weight was lifted in the lift known as the Two Hands Clean and Push. Any resemblance between the old style military press and the modern Olympic Press is imaginary. Today you can get away with weightlifting murder and, “in spite of the rules”. The old style cheating has become the modern “STRICT STYLE.” And is any modern lifter the worse for it? Are they weaker lifters than those of yesteryear? In a pig’s eye they are!

Records continue to rise and rise and rise and the end isn’t even in sight. Today’s fantastic predictions are tomorrow’s NEW WEIGHTLIFTING RECORDS. Only today, March 7th, 1960, I have read that a Russian lightweight, Anatoly Zhgun has made a new world record snatch record of 278.3 pounds. That’s more than the Olympic heavyweight champion, El Said Nosseir could snatch, way back in the late 20’s and early 30’s. And here’s a featherweight lifter – Russian Minaev, in the same report, pressing a new world’s record poundage of 264 – more than the fabulous middleweight Khadr El Touni pressed when he won the Olympic middleweight title in 1936. May I ask my former colleagues in the Metropolitan Weightlifting Committee to recall the time when I predicted that a featherweight would one day do just this. Some suggested that I must have been smoking a particularly potent pot of opium. Yet here we have a seemingly fantastic prediction now the new lifting record of TODAY.

Bantamweights are now totaling what heavyweights made 30 years ago. The little men have already gone 80 pounds and more beyond the record Olympic lightweight total made in the late ‘20’s when Haas and Helbig tied for the gold medal in the 149 lb. class with 697 odd. A lightheavy has already approached within a few pounds of the total once considered the ULTIMATE AGGREGATE FOR HEAVIES – 1000 pounds. Middleheavies are making mincemeat of the totals that brought heavyweights fame and acclaim nearly a decade ago. And all of these new titans of power have used some form of cheating exercises and all are cracking records left and right.

Take Kono, Ashman, Louis Martin, the George Brothers, Emrich, Vinci, Berger, Hepburn – the guy I coached to a world title in three years – Davis, Anderson, all the present crop of Russian champs, but why belabor the subject. Just look at the records of these men, then compare them with those of even ten years ago – those of the year 1950 – and try to den that there is no value in the Cheating Principle. All great strength athletes and record holders of today have used High Pullups, Hang Cleans, Hang Snatches, Bouncing Squats, Hopper Dead Lifts, Loose Style Presses, Continentals off a belt to the shoulders, and all boosted their power in what we call “STRICT LIFTS.”

So we can safely say that there is, really, no such thing as a “strict’ or “cheating” exercise, but just mere terms describing the way to perform exercises. For what was “Cheating” yesterday can be “Strict” tomorrow. And even the opinion as to what constitutes strict and cheating can change without the particular movement so tabbed losing the slightest value as a strength and muscle building exercise – “That which they call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

And we can safely say that there is no such thing as “a poor exercise for a lot of muscles” – that there is no exercise that fails to “completely exercise” a muscle – and Phys. Ed. majors will recognize this through the “All or none” law. Each and every exercise has a definite value according to the way it is used – intelligently or otherwise.

Now let’s return to the qualifying statement I used at the start of this article – “If used correctly, sensibly and moderately.” I well remember the reply I made to an indignant reader who had written in to the mag for which I then worked and had thoroughly knocked the bench press. I took the stand in my reply that actually no exercise could be blamed for any ill results that ensue from its use. It had to be the fault of the lifter using the exercise.

If a man with a ruptured appendix insists on eating a meal of pork chops, sauerkraut, beans and cream puffs, washed down with several bottles of beer, you don’t blame the meal for the man’s demise, you blame the man for being fool enough to eat it.

Each and every one of us writes his own ticket to wherever he wants to go. And so we alone are responsible for what we do. Thus we cannot blame this or that exercise or principle or advice for any ill effects that follow. A 4-time loser can no more blame the building he burglarizes for the life sentence he nets than a bodybuilder can blame a cheat curl for a ruptured biceps muscle.

Somewhere along the line the burglar and the bodybuilder MUST reach this one conclusion – they have only themselves to blame. The burglar for breaking and entering and the bodybuilder for trying to use too much weight or trying to work beyond his physical capabilities. When a man is tried for murder and found guilty, they send him to the chair, not the instrument with which he committed the crime. The MAN responsible takes the rap, not the instrument or exercise.

If those who condemn the Cheating Principle took care to investigate, they’d easily discover that cheating exercises have been used since the Dawn Years of the Iron Game. If Bent Presses, Side Presses, One and Two Hands Swings, Two Hands Anyhow Lifts, Continentals and Jerks aren’t loose lifting forms – in other words, cheating exercises – then I ain’t here and you’ve never existed.

Who discovered the Cheating Principle? Who really knows? Arthur Saxon used it. Eugen Sandow used it. Tommy Inch used it. Edward Aston used it. Josef Steinbach used it. Hermann Goerner used it. Karl Swoboda used it. George Hackenschmidt used it. Henry Steinborn used it. Francois Jean used it. Countless others before you and me and all the modern muscle building magazine editors and publishers were born, USED IT.

Way back in the late 1920’s, in Allen P. Meads’ London, England gym I was introduced to the cheating principle. Later I saw Cheat Curls used by Bert Assirati, the famous British Strongman wrestler. Those of you who keep copies of Iron Man will remember the article I wrote about Bert, also the “Questions and Answers” column written at the end of 1947, which finally appeared in the July, 1948, Vol. 8, No. 2 edition on page 34. Using Cheat Curls, Bert worked up to 15 reps with 200 pounds and his arms taped 19 ¼ cold. He was a real powerhouse.

The best results from this Q and A column came from an enthusiast named Russell Stoker who was kind enough to write me and say that he’d used every biceps exercise known but none of ‘em had given him the results nor the reactions he’d obtained with Cheat Curls. I still have his letter.

In one of the finest articles ever written on the subject of the Cheating Principle – “Is Strict Form a Must?” – by Walter G. Boucher, IRON MAN MAGAZINE, July 1957, Vol. 6, No. 5, p 22, Walt makes it clear to all who passed beyond 5th Grade that the principle is not a new way of exercising but was known years ago at the beginning of the 20th Century to the various authorities then living. Jowett, Calvert, Berry Liederman and other greats of their time used the principle as anyone reading their books and articles can see for himself.

Thus those who condemn the Cheating Principle are either fools or humorists or hypocrites. With all the evidence before them testifying to the benefits of the Cheating Principle they can’t be anything else. Let’s try and prove it. Let’s take the strictest possible way of raising a barbell with two hands to arm’s length overhead. Then let’s consider the claims made by the advocates of strict exercising that this – Strict – is the only way to work out.

The strictest, toughest way to lift a weight overhead to arm’s length is by using the lift known as the Forward Raise With Barbell. Place your back against a wall, Grip a barbell in your hands, arms at full downward stretch. Without moving your body away from the wall, keeping your arms rigidly straight throughout the lift, raise the bar forwards and up to arm’s length overhead.

If the advocates of strict exercises were sincere, this is the only exercise they’d use to raise a weight above the head. They’d forget about the snatching and jerking and pressing. After all, so far as they are concerned, the strictest movement is the best, so why don’t they use the strictest? But as each and every one of us knows, lifters and bodybuilders continue to use the Cheating Principle and every loose exercise form and none of ‘em suffer.

In what way can Cheating Exercises help a lifter improve his limit lifts, or a bodybuilder his muscular development? How is it possible for the loose style to help improve the strict? Each method compliments the other like eggs and bacon, cream and coffee, apple pie and ice cream.

Practice strict movements for a few weeks and you’ll find your loose or cheating poundages have improved. Return to cheating exercises and discover how you can handle pounds more in these. And not only will you improve your physical power so that you can handle heavier weights in “strict” competition form, but you’ll also develop a peculiar mental strength described by British lifter Jim Halliday as a “contempt for poundages” or what I like to call a superb self-confidence. Take this as an example – handling heavy poundages off a belt in the Continental to the Shoulders makes you less afraid to try your limit in the Orthodox Clean.

If you come across any “new” principle or exercise, the only way to handle it is by the empirical or “trial and error” method. Thus the results obtained determine the value of the principle or exercise for you. If well meaning friends warn you against using cheating exercises, but you go ahead and use them, and if the results are better than any others you have obtained, then the Cheating Principle so far as YOU are concerned is TERRIFIC.

And, as I’ve said, there’s nothing wrong with the Cheating Principle – only it’s name and the way it’s used. Take the name. If you think a little, it figures. And I shall, in all future articles call it by the name Joe Assirati and I originally called it back in 1934 – FREE STYLE EXERCISE. But call it what you will, you won’t detract one iota from its value. It’s a TERRIFIC power, speed, definition and stamina building principle. Only its misuse can cause trouble, and the same goes for any exercise or principle – or for that matter any innovation.

Well, it’s great to be back, great to be writing for you all again. And if you want to drop me al line I’m right here at 4807 Shoalwood Avenue, Austin, Texas.

And may the Great Architect of the Universe keep you safely and guide your footsteps along the straight and narrow path.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Explosive Strength & Power - C.S. Sloan

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Explosive Strength and Power
by C.S. Sloan

For many bodybuilders strength is simply a means to an end – a by-product of larger, shapelier muscles. For the strength athlete, powerlifter, Olympic lifter or power bodybuilder, however, it’s the alpha, omega and everything between. Sure, you might gain plenty of muscle to go along with your strength, but that’s not what really matters to you. Strength is everything.

Thumb through any recent muscle mag and you’re guaranteed to find articles on nutrition, training and supplementation for gaining new muscle size. You probably won’t find much, if anything, that deals with pure strength training, though. And that’s a real shame.

What follows is a strength program geared toward increasing your numbers on the three powerlifts. It’s aimed mainly at lifters who train mainly for strength; however, if you crave muscle before strength, you won’t be able to deny the benefits of strength training on the big three lifts for adding muscle mass that’s as powerful as it is large.

This program includes two cycles. Use the first one for at least 8 weeks before switching to the second.


This is a 3 days a week program. You train each of the major lifts – and the assistance exercises – once a week and take a day off between sessions. Just make sure you take two days off after your final session of the week.


The first session of the week works the squat and the muscles associated with it. You focus on increasing your strength through heavy neural training – performing 1 to 5 reps with 80 t0 95% of your one-rep max, and explosive neural work with lighter loads.

Bottom Position Squat – 5-6 sets of 2.
You start the session off with increasingly heavy doubles until you work up to two all-out reps on your last set. Start the lift from the bottom position, no partial reps. Even if you’ve been going deep on traditional squats, you’re going to be surprised how hard it is to do the lift when you begin from a dead stop at a deep position. Just remember – the harder you work, the more you’ll gain. For your first set use the empty bar for 2 reps. After that add weight on each successive set until you reach the maximum you can handle for 2 good reps. Take long rests between the last sets and try for a new record one the last one whenever possible.

Explosive-rep Squats – 9 sets of 3.
After you’ve recuperated from your heavy bottom squat doubles, perform regular squats with a weight that’s approximately 50 to 60% of your one-rep max. Lower the weight for a count of two seconds, and then explode out of the hole as hard and as fast as possible. Perform 3 sets with a medium stance, 3 sets with a close stance, and 3 sets with a wide stance. Rest no more than 2 minutes between sets, less is better. Remember – slow down, explode up. Think of yourself as a spring being compressed and let loose.

Front Squats – 3 sets of 6.
Take another rest after completing the explosive-rep squats and move on to front squats and move on to front squats. Use a heavy weight on these, one with which it’s nearly impossible to get six reps on the first set. Once you can perform 3 sets of 6 reps with the same weight, add poundage at the next squat workout.

Weighted Crunches – 3 sets of 10.
If you want a strong squat, it’s vital that you have strong abdominals. Use as much weight as possible; your goal is to reach muscular failure on the 10th rep while maintaining good form.


Flat Bench Press Complexes – Superset – 3 sets of 2x90% 1RM / 3 sets of 2x60% 1 RM.
Warm up on the flat bench press with several progressively heavier sets of two reps. Once you reach a weight that’s approximately 90% of your one-rep max, perform 1 set of 2 reps. Strip some weight off the bar so you’re down to 60% of one-rep max and immediately do another set of 2 reps. Pause for one second on your chest and then explode to lockout.
After the first complex set rest 4 to 5 minutes and repeat, continuing until you 3 complex sets. Shoot for 2 reps on each 90% set. Once you can manage the 2 reps on all 3 sets, add weight at the next workout.

Close Grip Bench Presses – 3 sets of 5.
After your last explosive bench set take a good rest, then load some weight on the bar for your next exercise, the close grip bench press. If you feel warmed up, jump directly into your first heavy set. If not, perform 2 progressively heavier fives, building up to your work-set weight. It should be extremely difficult to complete 5 reps, but you should get them. On the next two sets you will probably drop by one rep each set. Stick with the same weight at each workout until you can do 5 reps on all 3 sets.

Lying Barbell Extensions – 4 sets of 8.
Once you’ve completed the close-benches take a good rest and prepare for some direct triceps work. Most people’s weak link on the bench press is triceps strength and power. For that reason you do lying extensions before shoulder work.
Pick a weigh that you’d usually use for about 10 reps and go for 4 sets of 8, resting no more than a minute between sets.

Narrow Grip Dips – 4 sets of 8.
Rest a few minutes and perform 4 sets of 8 with no more than a minute’s rest between sets.

Plate Front Raises – 3 sets of 15.
Grab a 45 lb. plate, or whatever you can handle for the required reps, and grind out 3 sets of 15 reps to strengthen your front delts.

Standing Presses – 3 sets of 10.
You won’t be performing bench work for another week, so there’s no reason to hold back on these. Work hard.


At your final session of the week before two rest days, you concentrate on strengthening your deadlift, though it works the muscles associated with the squat as well. You also get the benefits of heavy lat work which will help strengthen the bottom portion of your bench press.

Deadlifts – 2 to 6 sets of 1.
This highly effective method of training deadlifts has been around for many years and was favored by such old-timers as Mark Berry, J.C. Hise and Doug Hepburn.
At your first Day-3 session do progressively heavier singles until you reach a weight that’s approaching 90-95% of your one-rep max. Don’t calculate this, you’ll know it when you lift it. It should be a weight with which you can only get 2 singles. Add one singe at each session until you can perform 6 singles. Then add more weight at the next workout and start the process over again. Adding just one single each session may not seem like much – until you try it.

Round-back Good Mornings – 5 sets of 3.
In my view – and the view of others like Bill Starr – this is the best lower back exercise there is. Work this one hard, and you can bet that your deadlift and squat poundages will increase.
Warm up with as many sets of progressively heavier sets of 3 as it takes, and follow with 3 sets of 3 done with your work weight. Play it on the safe side with these. If you have any back issues with round-back lifting then go with the arched-back or seated version.

Bentover Rows – 5 sets of 5.
Use the same warmup and work-set scheme as you did on the previous exercise, but perform sets of 5’s.

Weighted Crunches – 3 sets of 10.
As with workout 1, perform 3 heavy sets so you reach muscular failure on or around the 10th rep.
Use all-out intensity on this 3 day a week program for the recommended 8 to 10 weeks and you can expect some good gains. After that it’s time for the second cycle.


This is a 4 days a week program. It incorporates heavy neural work and explosive work, as the first cycle did, but it uses varied repetition patterns and plyometrics in order to bring you additional strength on the three powerlifts.

You definitely want to take two days of rest at the end of your workout week on this one. The most obvious schedule is to train on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and take Wednesday and the weekend off. Alternately, some people find they do better if they take two days off after every two days of training. Try the first version at the beginning and determine for yourself what works best in your situation. As with any routine, make whatever adjustments are necessary to make progress.


The first session of this cycle works the bench press, as well as the muscles that assist the movement, with dynamic reps.

Explosive Rep Bench Presses – 6 sets of 3x60% 1RM.
Warm up with a couple of light (but not explosive) sets using an empty bar, and then a light weight that’s less than your 60% one-rep max. Load the bar with your 60% poundage and do 6 sets of 3. Lower the bar faster but under control, pause on your chest for a one-second count and then explode back to lockout.
Don’t let the speed of the bar drop as the sets progress. In fact, try to increase the speed as you move up in sets. The sixth set should be as fast as, if not faster than, your first set. Rest only 30 seconds between sets.

Plyometric Decline Pushups – 4 sets of 5.
Perform these with your feet elevated on a bench. Explode off the floor as hard as possible on each rep. Once again, move quickly on every rep.

Close Grip Lockouts – 5 sets of 5.
Get in the power rack and set the pins so you’ll be performing the last few inches of the bench press movement. Do 2 warmup sets of 5, and then 3 sets of 5 all-our repetitions.

Standing Behind the Neck Presses – 5 sets of 5.
Use the set and rep scheme listed for the close grip lockouts. Even though you do these from a standing position, don’t make the movement a push press. Let your shoulders perform the brunt of the work.

Cuban Presses – 3 sets of 10.
This exercise is great for strengthening your front delts and rotator cuff muscles. To get the feel of the movement and perfect the technique, warm up with an empty bar.

give an explanation of the exercise.


This session works the squat and deadlift with explosive neural work as well as several assistance exercises.

Alternate: Squat/Deadlift – 8 sets of 3.
Warm up with progressively heavier squats and deadlifts. Once you feel your body is ready, load the squat bar with a weight you’d normally use for 6 to 8 reps. Do the same with another bar for the deadlift.
Perform 8 sets of 3 on both exercises, alternating them with no more than 2 minutes rest between sets. Concentrate on exploding on every rep. Don’t worry about adding weight consistently; instead, concentrate on increasing your explosive power. It’s okay if your explosiveness starts to dwindle on the last couple of alternating sets. Just stick with the same weight until you can really power up all 16 sets.

Hyperextensions – 3 sets of 20.
Here’s another good lower back exercise to help strengthen your squat and deadlift. 3 sets of 20 reps should be plenty.

Weighted Crunches – 3 sets of 10.
Do these as described in Cycle 1.


Bottom Position Bench Presses – 2 to 6 sets of 1.
Use the set and rep scheme listed for deadlifts on day 3 of cycle 1. Make sure you set the pins as close as possible to your chest and assume the same bottom position as that used in your full bench press.

Incline Bench Presses -3 sets of 3.
Take a good rest after the bottom position benches. On the incline bench, perform as many 3 rep warmup sets as necessary, then load the bar with a weight you think you can use for 4 or 5 reps and perform 3 sets of 3.

Close Grip Bench Press – 3 sets of 5.
After a few warmup sets perform 3 hard sets. When you get 5 reps on all three sets with a constant weight, increase the poundage.

Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 5.
As above.


The last workout of the week is a maximum intensity lower back and leg session that utilizes different rep ranges to work the squat and deadlift, plus some assistance exercises.

Squats – 2 sets of 7, 5 or 3.
For this cycle you use different rep ranges during different weeks. For the first 2 weeks do 2 sets of 7 reps. During the 3rd and 4th weeks do 2 sets of 5, and on the 5th and 6th weeks perform 2 sets of 3. For the 7th and 8th weeks of the cycle go back to 2 sets of 7, using more weight than you used in the first 2 weeks. If you include a 9th and 10th week in your cycle, do the same with the 2 five-rep sets.
Since you only do 2 work sets, make sure you push each one hard.

Deadlifts – 2 sets of 7, 5 or 3.
As above. If you prefer, perform the deadlifts first or alternate each week, however, this will have an effect on how much weight you can handle for each lift.

Overhead Squats – 3 sets of 5.
With the bar locked out over your head, perform 3 sets of 5 reps, squatting as deep as possible. Be sure to do a couple of warmup sets, and make the work sets WORK sets.

Seated Good Mornings – 3 sets of 10.
Here’s a good lower back exercise that’s not quite as intense as the three previous exercises – perfect for a finishing movement. Do them as you would regular, arched-back good mornings, but do them seated on a box or bench.

Hanging Leg Raises – 3 sets of 10.
Once again the last exercise is for your abs. Don’t ever skip the ab exercises as they’re essential for continued progress on your squats and deadlifts.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Erectors - Charles Poliquin

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Neck - 23 inches

by Charles Poliquin

Here’s a great way to build the erector spinae. I call it a retro workout because the routine was devised in the past, and is true to the workouts of old-time lifters and bodybuilders. It consists of four exercises commonly used by Olympic lifters to develop strength for the competition lifts. The difference is that they’re less technical than the Olympic lifts and can be performed for higher reps safely, thus providing an increased muscle building effect.

I generally don’t recommend the use of straps, but do use them when you feel that not doing so will compromise your technique or the amount of weight you are able to use on each exercise.

The program alternates between exercises performed by lifting the bar from the floor and those performed while standing on a small platform (podium) about 4 to 6 inches high. The variation changes the line of pull of the posterior chain – that is, backside – with each new exercise. The workout consists of four exercises performed for
5 sets of 5 reps
and is much more difficult and demanding than it appears on paper. Break in slowly!

1.) Power Cleans From The Floor.
2.) Snatch Pulls On Podium.
3.) Clean Pulls From The Floor.
4.) Snatch Deadlifts On Podium.

If there’s anything to be learned from such a brutal retro workout, it’s not only that, as the saying goes, everything is new again but also that, sometimes, old things are still the best!

Stubborn Forearms - George Eiferman

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Stubborn Forearms
“by” George Eiferman

It’s strange the way certain ideas about bodybuilding take hold, grow in proportion and become accepted as being true with the passing of time. Particularly is this true when it comes to distinguishing between “receptive” muscles and “stubborn” muscles.

The bodybuilder today gives only incidental thought to his pectorals, lats and biceps. It’s mighty hard to see any advanced lifter who does not have these sections highly developed. But more than one bodybuilder, including some really advanced men, are quick to admit that they have trouble with their forearms and calves, and that these parts are “stubborn” when it comes to growth.

I feel this is a throwback to the dark days of bodybuilding, when it was a struggling infant and not the mature science it is today. Even the earliest bodybuilding programs offered plenty of work for the upper arms, chest and upper back, with direct forearm and calf training being ignored or neglected, with the result, excepting the few . . . the old timers were notorious for their slender forearms and calves.

In fact, a 14” forearm was considered as being a rarity only a short while back. I recall reading about a posing and lifting show Sig Klein promoted about 15 years ago, in which one of the star attractions was a pupil of his who owned a pair of 14” forearms. He stood under the posing lights, displaying his forearms in various poses to the amazement of the audience.

Today, 14” forearms are comparatively common. Still, the old-fashioned belief persists – that they represent a stubborn bodypart. Maybe they are a bit more stubborn than the upper arms or pectorals, but certainly with proper attention, every bodybuilder can develop them to a larger size and more muscular form.

It is in this phrase “proper attention” where the key to forearm strength and development lies. Ask the average bodybuilder who complains about stubborn forearms “WHAT” he is doing about them, and he will answer . . . “Just about everything!”

Get him to be more specific, and it will be discovered that he is relying solely upon a wrist roller, reverse curls and maybe two more forearm exercises AT THE MOST in his training. He admits that the forearms are a stubborn part, still he does LESS for them than he does for his upper arms, chest or back. When they don’t grow in strength and size he becomes discouraged and often cuts down on even this small amount of forearm work, devoting more energy and attention to other parts which respond more readily. He is sure that his forearms will not grow . . . and of course they won’t with this limited attention.

Malcolm Brenner hit the secret of forearm training pretty much on the head when he was approached by a young enthusiast, who, looking at Malcolm’s forearms and comparing them with his own, asked Malcolm, “What exercises can I do to increase the size and strength of my forearms?”

Malcolm smiled and answered, “The best exercises you can do for your lower arms is ALL OF THEM.” The kid nodded, thanked him and walked away. Maybe he got it and maybe he didn’t, but Malcolm had just given him a million bucks worth of advice.

Unlike other bodyparts in which it is possible to bring about an overtrained condition from overwork, the forearms can not be overworked. Mankind is anatomically constructed for manual work, work in which the hands wrists and forearms are used a lot. The strapping and interweaving of tendon, bone and muscle which composes our lower arms makes this part of our body a potential source of great power and unlimited endurance. The way the hands, fingers and wrists can be rotated, moved side to side and up and down is concrete proof that they were meant for a tremendous variety of movements and that any developmental process MUST take this fact into consideration. The network of tendons and sinew which composes them is also proof that our hands and forearms were intended by nature to be practically tireless and capable of continued use over long periods of time. Therefore, the BEST forearm exercises are those which cover a huge variety of different movements, and a generous amount of time must be allowed to the training of them each workout.

That was what Malcolm Brenner meant when he told the young fellow to practice ALL the forearm exercises. He knew that only in this way could maximum development and strength be achieved. The same advice DOES NOT hold true for other parts of the body. If you tried to perform this number of exercises for the upper arms, thighs, chest or back and so on, you would soon become overtrained and fail to improve. Only in the calves is a similar comparison possible - for these too are capable of tremendous exercise without overtraining.

There is another fallacy which must be discounted in this discussion – that of the relation of bone size to forearm size. While it is true that a man with big wrists can generally get more forearm size than one with smaller joints, the difference is not too great. In fact, because of his smaller joints, a bodybuilder with a slender wrist will possess A MORE IMPRESSIVE forearm if it is fully developed.

And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t develop a powerful grip with a small hand or a slender wrist. One of the outstanding grips in the world belongs to Johnny Davis, who has a hand that could fit into a woman’s glove and the gripping strength to walk a couple of blocks holding a pair of thick-handled 100 lb. dumbells in his hands at the thighs. In pinch gripping, he plays with a pair of smooth surfaced 35 lb. plates, gripping them together and tossing them from one hand to the other in midair like they were made of so much wood.

There ARE no handicaps when it comes to developing a massive forearm and a powerful grip . . . unless you cook them up in your own mind! If you give the forearms the attention they need, you cannot fail in making them larger and stronger.

One feature about forearm training is that it is not really hard work, relative to large muscle group exercises and lifts. Not hard work in the way you look at squats, deadlifts, cleans or even heavy bench presses. In most of the exercises you use comparatively light poundages and the effort is restricted primarily to the forearm region. However, if you are performing the exercises right you should feel a great burning and pumping up action. You MUST feel this if your forearm training is to be successful. Only in this manner can the exercise influence be felt in the tough fibres of the forearm and results be obtained.

Since the forearms need and respond best to a lot of exercise, I have found it best to perform my own forearm training right after my upper arm exercises. When upper arm exercises are performed there is always some forearm stimulation that serves to warm up the area before the actual work begins.

Here is how to follow this forearm program – perform ALL the exercises included in it, in the order they are listed. Use a weigh which gives you a good workout but still permits you to perform 3 sets, 15 repetitions each, of each exercise.

Do not rest too long between the sets or the exercises. Just as soon as the aching feeling subsides, begin the next set. Don’t be afraid to work hard, to push yourself – and don’t worry about overtraining. You can do all the forearm work you want, and that can ever happen is that they will grow larger and stronger. Here are the exercises to follow:

Exercise 1. Zottman Exercise –
Hold a pair of light dumbells at the thigh. Curl one dumbell to the shoulder. Now, turn that wrist out, and away from you, and lower the weight with an overhand grip. While doing so curl the other weight to the shoulder. Keep the movement rhythm smooth and steady. Illustration No. 1 shows this.

Exercise 2. Reverse Barbell Curl –
Hold a barbell at the thighs, with a knuckles-front over-grip. Now, start curling the barbell, but permit the wrists to drop down while doing so, as shown in the illustration No. 2. After the weight is nearly completely curled, raise the wrists and finish the movement with them near the shoulders.

Exercise 3. Reverse Curl with Dumbells –
This is performed the same as the last exercise, except that two dumbells are used instead of a barbell. (Illustration No. 3)

Exercise 4. Dumbell Wrist Curl –
Start with dumbell in one hand, wrist dropped down as shown in Illustration No. 4. Now, without moving the arm, curl the wrist up and in as far as possible. Repeat equally with each arm.

Exercise 5. Wrist Roller –
Illustration No. 5 shows how the weight is rolled up on a wrist roller using an under grip. You can also perform this exercise using an over-grip and both styles should be used in each workout.

Exercise 6. Standing Wrist Curl –
One of the finest exercises to flush up the forearms and strengthen the grip is to hold a pair of dumbells in the hands as shown in Illustration No. 6. Then, as quickly as possible, twist the wrist back and forth until the forearms ache. In this exercise DO NOT follow any specific number of repetitions . . . merely continue the movement until the forearms are aching from the vigorous stimulation.

Exercise 7. Leverage Bell Exercise –
You can load up a dumbell with plates only on one end as shown in Illustration No. 7, or use a leverage bell which is made expressly for this type of forearm movement. Hold the bell in the hand as shown and then move the wrist up and down against the leverage. This can be performed with bell pointed to the front as well as with the bell pointing rear.

Exercise 8. Forearm Deadlift –
In this exercise you are to HOLD a HEAVY barbell in the hands, after it has been lifted in a dead lift position. Use a couple of sturdy boxes to raise the weight off the ground so that you will be able to lift a really heavy poundage, as shown in Illustration No. 8. Then, once you have lifter the weight, JUST HOLD IT, until you feel your grip weakening and the weight is about to drop out of your grasp. This is one of the best grip and forearm exercises known.

Exercise 9. Pinch Grip –
For your final forearm exercise, practice pinch gripping as shown in Illustration No. 8. Load a few plated onto a dumbell bar as shown, and practice pinch gripping with them, just lifting the weight off the ground and holding it for a few seconds. Practice equally with both hands and as you progress in strength and endurance following the first 8 exercises, add plates on the bar for added resistance.

If you will give this forearm program a fair test for a good number of weeks, I feel certain that you will revise any previous ideas you had about the forearms being a stubborn area to develop. Just try it and see for yourself.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Triceps Training - Reg Park

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Triceps Training
by Reg Park (1952)

I have been asked one question thousands of times since I became prominent in the bodybuilding game. Whenever a group of the “uninitiated” and I get together they always want to know what satisfaction I get out of working with weights. It is hard to explain to those who have never used barbells. That you realize this I am sure, but one would think the obvious signs a weight training course stamps on the general bearing and appearance of a man would be sufficient explanation. But, no . . . always that old sleeping pill crops up: WHATEVER do you see in weight lifting? I can’t understand what you get out of picking up lumps of iron.” Maybe the person who asks me this question happens to be a golfer, so I promptly ask him what joy there can be in knocking a small ball away from you and then running after it.

When he recovers from this reply, and gives me a somewhat weak grin, I then start in to sell him workouts with weights. I tell him first of all how barbell exercises and kindred heavy resistance movements are recognized and respected all over the world by physicians and surgeons. I also indicate that these exercises have done wonderful work with the war wounded. I talk of the increased self-respect, the better posture, the greater joy experienced in living a life that is healthy, carefree and happy. I tell him how personal appearance can be improved – the clear eyes and complexion, the upright carriage and springy step etc., and then I invite him along, if I happen to be training at a nearby gym, to take a workout with me. And this I have NEVER seen to fail, that these skeptics become the greatest and most enthusiastic missionaries for weight training inside of a month.

Perhaps it is because of the near miracle that barbell work accomplishes, or that feeling of overflowing energy that makes them want to run everywhere instead of walk. But whatever it is that brings the swift conversion from skepticism to a missionary-like fervor, or whatever they may think, I have my own ideas.

Now, all pressing movements are good triceps builders but they hardly place direct stress on the muscle. Presses are performed by a wide range of muscles with the triceps playing a part. Exercises in which the forearm is straightened out on the upper arm are best for maximum triceps development. However, if you are working solely for triceps size and strength it is best to incorporate a number of pressing movements in with the direct triceps work. Thus you can add thickness to the muscle as well as definition and an increase in LOCAL power. If, however, you are working for maximum arm size, that is a horse of another color and thus I will discuss at the end of the article.

So, let’s get to my favorite triceps movements. The first movement is one that Charlie Smith introduced me to about a year ago and since then I have worked very hard on it and I believe that it has affected the overall growth of the triceps, particularly the inner head, more than any other movement. Charlie told me, as I also knew, that it wasn’t a new exercise by any means, but he thought that with my rather long upper arm it would be particularly effective.

It is performed as follows; You lie on a bench and you have the barbell handed to you as you hold your arms straight up. You take a rather narrow grip . . . the hands should not be more than 5 to 6 inches apart, with the palms facing to the front. From this initial position the bar is lowered by bending the forearms . . .THE UPPER ARMS DO NOT MOVE . . . and the weight is lowered either to the forehead or behind the top of the head, as you lay on the bench, and raised back again to straight arms. You will find that the movement is harder when the barbell is lowered to the forehead than behind the head. The reason is that the upper arms are forced to come out of perpendicular when the bar goes behind the head. After you have broken in to the exercise, you can have someone hold your elbows so that the upper arms get no “play” at all and are kept absolutely immoveable. Use 3 to 5 sets of the movements and with a poundage you can squeeze 5 reps out of. When you can do 9 reps, it’s time for a weight increase. The important point to remember here is that you DO NOT MOVE THE UPPER ARMS.

My second favorite triceps exercise is the movement popularized by Johnny McWilliams – the triceps curl, or as some call it, the french press. Here, you stand upright, with a barbell held at arm’s length overhead. Your grip is narrow again . . . the same as in the first movement. From this arm’s length position you simply lower the barbell back of the head, again keeping the upper arms as immobile as possible. You will also find it best to have a training partner place his hand in the upper section of the back for support. You can do this movement two ways . . . in strict form and with slow and deliberate movements, or with a bouncing motion. And it is also good to force the reps by using a slight body movement or “push” to get the bar up when the last couple of reps get tough. Start off with a barbell you can use for 4 sets of 6 reps and as soon as you can do 4 sets of 10, increase the poundage and start back at 6 reps.

Parallel dips are wonderful triceps builders, but as in the other exercises, it is that “special” way of performing them that makes all the difference. Dips are my third favorite triceps exercise and it was Marvin Eder who got me to include them in my routine. It is advisable that you practice them for form until you are able to rattle off a fairly rapid 4 sets of 12 reps, before you start to increase the resistance. Keep the body as straight as possible and the arms CLOSE to the body and go all the way down. When you start up force to arm’s length with everything you’ve got, and LOCK the elbows. Take care that you don’t strain the elbow joint by being foolish in your progression or careless in your performance. It is a good idea to rub warm olive oil into the joint after you have finished. When adding extra resistance I tie weight around my waist, letting the triceps get full benefit by having the weight in back of my body.

No muscle specialization course is really complete without at least one dumbell movement. I have included one that Clancy Ross has used. As in the other exercises, there are particular ways of performing it for certain results. Simply hold a dumbell at arm’s length above the head. Press the upper arm against the head, lower the dumbell behind the head by bending the arm at the elbow and then straighten the arm again. KEEP THE UPPER ARM STILL, DON’T MOVE IT. When you’ve finished working one arm, change over to the other hand. You’ll find 4 sets of 6 reps, working up to 4 sets of 10 to be just right.

Now, you can work this triceps schedule in one of two ways. If you want to work solely for triceps specialization, then it is best to use it just as I have given it here. But if you want to obtain MAXIMUM arm size and power, you would do well to remember that the main muscle groups of the upper arm are the biceps AND triceps. I generally spend three months on a biceps specialization routine, then three months on a triceps specialization routine. Then I take a three week layoff and start in again as follows. I perform one triceps movement and then a biceps exercise, alternating one triceps and one biceps exercise until my entire upper arm program is completed. I would advise that you try both approaches at first to see what reactions you get personally.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Return To The Rest Pause - John Carl Mese

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A Return to the Rest Pause
by John Carl Mese

When Mike Mentzer was in Miami I discussed training methods with him, in particular his recent marked improvement. Mike mentioned he was using a form of the rest-pause system as a means of intensifying exercises.

Rest-pause is a set of an exercise performed with rest intervals between reps. For example, Barbell curl – 1 rep, rest 10 seconds; 2 reps, rest 10 seconds; 3 reps, rest 10 seconds, etc., on up to 10 reps. The rest-pause is done not only in ascending rep fashion as in the example but also in descending rep fashion. For example, Barbell curl – 10 reps, rest 10 seconds; 9 reps, rest 10 seconds, etc. on down to one rep. As can be expected, this is a terrific pumping type of training and is very effective for two to three week periods. This format has worked exceptionally well for me.

The application of rest-pause that Mike incorporated was slightly different. He would do one set of 6 reps with a weight he would normally handle for 2 good reps. He would do 1 rep, rest 15 seconds; 1 rep, rest 15 seconds, etc. This would increase the intensity of training and the amount of work done is a short period of time.

Well, we all know Mike has genetic advantages that most trainers don’t possess, so I tried the system to see how effective it is on us lesser mortals. The system was appealing to me because I have very limited time to train lately, I grow on low reps, I like heavy training and have a tendency to overtrain – like most lifters.

Results – It has worked for me on the three exercises I tried. I used three group exercises – squats, deadlifts and barbell curls. My exercise weights increased steadily and I felt well spent the next day. I intend to expand the use of rest-pause to other exercises at a later date. A step by step summary of how to try this method in your own training follows, using the squat as an example.

1.) Perform several progressive warmup sets to prepare the muscles, ligaments and tendons. This system is extremely hard when lifting heavy weights. It is easy to pull or tear any of the above.

2.) Select a weight you can use for five consecutive reps.

3.) Use this weight to perform a set of 10 or 12 reps with a rep being performed every 10 seconds, in good form. (A squat in this case).

4.) Every workout, try to increase your weight. Work hard at increasing your poundage.

5.) Put the weight on the squat stands while you are taking your 10 second rest between sets so your spine and trap muscles are not being compressed.

6.) Do two sets of an isolation exercise following the squats (e.g. leg extensions, etc.).

You could then do rest-pause deadlifts and standard-set leg curls to complete you workout.

This system is effective, but as always, changes need to be made to fit the individual. The first problem is the starting weight, and in the above case I suggested a 5 rep weight so the trainee can work into heavier weights. The other problem is the selection of exercises. I feel that compound type exercises will be most effective, especially since it is hard to use heavy weights on isolation movements unless they are done on machines. Even then, isolation exercises are better done with moderate weights to fully work the muscle.

Don’t be afraid to experiment – the key is to train hard.

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