London, 1964 - Bill Stevens bench pressing two 220 lb. dumbells. He has succeeded with 245 lb. dumbells and benched over 500 lbs. with a barbell while wearing a suit and street shoes. Did his first 500 lb. squat in 1960. His feats include a Single Arm Dumbell Press of 175 lbs., Two Hands Dumbell Press with 2 -150's. He is practicing an attempt on a Two Hands Dumbell Bench Press with two 165-lb. men sitting on the specially designed dumbell handles. Weighs around 250 lbs. and runs a floral shoppe.
Jerk Out Of That Rut With A Change In Workout
by Ivan Dunbar (1964)
Most of us are familiar with the expression “a change is as good as a holiday”. This is especially so in relation to training, when one tends to get into a rut after employing the same exercises month after month. It has also been said there is nothing new in training and although this is not entirely true, basically the work must be done. Anything that makes this work more interesting and enjoyable is therefore worth consideration.
Why not try a course involving a complete change of exercises – exercises that you may have never done before? You might be amazed at the number of routines you can compile with this thought in mind. And while it would obviously be impossible for me to tell what exercises you have or have not done, I think I can list one or two that you may not have used before – or have not used for a very long time.
One of the major advantages to be had from this type of training is the mental and physical relaxation. With a limit of only a half-a-dozen movements being employed it is not necessary to start training at a certain time to fit it into you day, plus there’s the fact that the workout doesn’t become a long, drawn out affair. An ideal time to give this kind of course a try would be after you’ve been training five or six times per week, and are due for a bit of a break. Here is a readymade chance to unwind and at the same time make progress.
Here then, with comment, are the six exercises I have chosen.
(1) Jerk Behind Head. This one is performed with the help of the squat racks. Select a weight – your best military press is a good starting poundage – and step out of the racks with the bar on your shoulders as you would in the back squat. From this position dip the knees slightly and jerk the weight to arms’ length overhead. In doing so make sure that – after the initial jerk – you “get under” the bar, otherwise it will become more of a push press than a jerk. Deltoids, triceps and upper back receive tremendous benefit from this exercise, and it also gives the lifter a chance to do some heavy overhead work, thereby bringing the lower back into play as well. After a few weeks you’ll find you are capable of quite heavy poundages, and a couple of repetitions with about 100 lbs. above your bodyweight is quite possible, with sustained work over time. Do 2 sets x 4 reps; 2 x 3 reps; 2 x 2; 2 x 1.
(2) Dumbell Cleans from the Hang Position. Again the deltoids, traps and upper back get a terrific workout. Take a pair of dumbells and let them hang at arms’ length; dip the knees slightly and ‘clean’ the dumbells together to the shoulder position. Lower to arms’ length again and repeat for 6 repetitions, 3 sets. Use a weight that you can handle for 6 reps. If you can use 70-80 lbs. it’s a very good average. If you can eventually work yourself up to doing 6 reps with two 100 lb. dumbells you’re right up there.
(3) Pullover and Press. This one is a combination movement with particular emphasis on the pectorals, triceps and deltoids, though the rib-box and lats get a share of the work also. As always, experimenting will give you the correct starting poundage. The commencing position is lying on the bench with a bar resting on the chest, held by a grip approximately shoulder width. From this position lower the bar back over your face and down behind you. Pull the bar back to your chest, press it out to arms length, lower, and repeat. 8 reps, 3 sets – counting each pullover and press as one repetition. Once you become accustomed to the movement, don’t be afraid to use all the weight possible.
(4) Pumping Squat. If you have never practiced this version of the squat before I can guarantee you improvements in leg strength, size and endurance. Take a poundage that you can handle comfortably for 15 reps. Go down into a full-squat position and return to the half-squat position – no further. Repeat this for four consecutive reps, and on the fifth one straighten your legs, as in the normal squatting procedure. Now repeat the process for another four reps, and, this time on the tenth rep, straighten the legs again. Finally, complete the last five reps making a total of 15 in all. By this time your legs should have had quite a workout, but after resting, repeat for a further 2 sets of 15 reps.
(5) Zottman Curl. This one some of you may remember, though I seldom see it practiced in the gyms nowadays. Take a couple of dumbells that will enable you to do approximately 12 reps in the regular dumbell curl. Now from the commencing position (dumbells hanging at arms’ length) curl the dumbells alternately, commencing with the right hand. However, instead of curling in the normal way, curl the dumbell across your body – whenever you have completed the cross-body curl, twist the dumbell so that it can be lowered as a reverse curl. While the right hand dumbell is being lowered the left hand one should be curled across the body. It may take you a few minutes to get the timing correct, but as you will see there is great all-round arm involvement and improvement to be had from this one. 3 x 8 reps with each arm, making a total count of sixteen.
(6) Handstand Press-ups. These will require the help of a training partner or the use of a wall. If you use the wall, kick-up into the handstand position, with your feet against the wall behind you. Now lower yourself until your chin touches the floor of thereabouts, and from there press yourself to arms’ straight position. Repeat as often as you can, eventually trying for 3 x 12 reps. If you have a training partner to hold your feet you can do the exercise anywhere in the gym. Once you have mastered this form of the exercise try this advanced version. Assume your starting position, only this time on the top of two solid boxes or benches. This way you will be able to lower yourself until your shoulders touch the benches, thereby increasing your range of motion and making the exercise tougher. If you can work up to 3 x 12 reps on this one you should be highly pleased with yourself. I have seen lifters able to do this movement with weights added as well.