Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bench Press History - Sean Katterle

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Bench Press History, Records and Raw Lifts
by Sean Katterle


Bench pressing began in a crude form in the 1930s, when lifters literally lay on a wooden “bench” or box and pressed a barbell up off their chests. For decades before that men had trained on different versions of the floor press. Some lifted while laying flat on the ground, and others would arch during the lift the way a wrestler bridges. The bridged version of the lift was often referred to as a “belly toss” because the pressing portion of the movement began with a back and leg arching maneuver to get the bar started.

People could obviously move more weight through belly tossing than through flat-backed floor pressing, but many recognized that it was not a true upper-body anterior strength test. Belly tossing was a form of “cheating” for the same reason that barbell swing-curling isn’t an accurate test of a person’s biceps strength. The flat-backed floor press was and is an excellent strength-building exercise, but you need a handoff person to work it properly.

In the ‘20s and ‘30s the proper technique in England was to belly toss the barbell skyward. In 1939 the AAU made a move to standardize what it called the “pullover and press,” pointedly banning the bridging technique. Bending your legs, raising your butt or shoulders off the ground, or separating your heels was cause for disqualification. “Some men are so flexible that they do all of the lifting with the abdomen,” Bob Hoffman complained in one of his weightlifting books, “the arms catching and holding the weight only near the completion of the lift. Retaining the bar upon the abdomen, the body is lowered until the buttocks almost touch the floor, then, with a quick raise of the abdomen, or toss, the bar is thrown from its position across the body backwards over the face. There the lift is finished by a strong pressure from the arms.”
John Sanchez, a noted powerlifting historian, explains why Hoffman felt the need to outlaw belly tossing as an official way to attempt a prone press: “After the rules governing shoulder bridge/belly toss technique were relaxed somewhat during the late 1920s, Bill Lilly was able to set many records due to his incredible flexibility. Lilly could slowly elevate the bar on his abdomen to complete arm lockout position. Some would take issue with this extreme maneuver, alleging it was more a contortionist’s trick than a genuine display of strength, but his records stood nonetheless. Apparently, Bill Lilly was so gifted with this new version of the shoulder-bridge movement that challenges to his 484 lb. record were nonexistent during the ‘30s.

“While the shoulder bridge or belly toss exercise may seem rather arcane nowadays, during its heyday it was a respected lift. Impelling a barbell off of one’s belly to the degree that such a maneuver required could not have been very easy or comfortable. Nevertheless, that was the only way lifters of that era were able to exceed double, or in the case of Lilly, nearly triple bodyweight while lying on their back.”

What’s ironic about the debate over belly tossing and flat-backed prone pressing was that nowadays some lifters have increased their flexibility on the raised “bench” to the point that their range of motion is basically cut in half, and overweight lifters use the combination of a tight-fitting bench press supershirt and a rotund power gut to do a soft handoff to the top of their belly and back again. They hardly have to move the bar vertically at all. They support the weight of the bar with the ultratight-fitting, reinforced bench shirt and then let the bar drift horizontally down their torso until it reaches the peak of their gut, which is very close to the same height as where the bar was handed off to them. When they get the press command, they simply drive it back toward their chest line and few inches upward to lockout.

The best way to keep those people from benching that way is to ban supershirts altogether and to insist that the lifter’s entire buttocks and shoulder blades remain in contact with the bench at all times. It’s okay to arch, as arching is a part of power-benching leverage and stability, but it’s got to be kept to a reasonable level. When the supershirts are removed from competition, the arching becomes less severe, and the heavyset lifters are forced to bring the bar up to their lower chest level. You can’t pull off the belly bench drift without the “support” of the shirt.

It was in the 1930s that trainees began using benches and boxes for the prone press. It enabled them to plant their feet on the floor while keeping their hips low and their butt and shoulder blades in contact with the bench or box. The AAU also approved the use of a spotter for handing off the barbell to the lifter so pressers could begin the lift with the weight in position over their chest.

All three variations of the press on back – prone floor press, belly toss and bench press – persisted relatively unchanged through the 1940s, but a hierarchy among them quickly developed. For bodybuilders the bench version gained dominance, and by the 1950s it was the king of upper-body movements, with noted advocates like Marvin Eder and George Eiferman. A major reason was that, as chest-conscious athletes, they liked its effect on the pectorals. John Sanchez further explains: “Interestingly, the bench press was to remain a somewhat controversial lift during the 1950s as lifters sought to maximize their advantage with outside help during its performance. What many would object to during these times would eventually become the status quo for the sport of powerlifting, however. Bench-pressing during the 1950s was an exercise in the throes of evolutionary ferment. The popularity of the lift as an aid to bodybuilders was responsible for the innovative development of rack stanchions, which some ‘traditionalists’ considered ‘cheating.’ Moreover, hand-offs as a means to get the barbell in place were similarly disdained by those who thought the best way to bench was by oneself, or unassisted.”

Prior to 1964 the sport didn’t have a national or world championship. Lifting competitions were held by independent groups of athletes and promoters, and aficionados of the sport were brought in to witness and credit the “record-breaking” feats of strength. One of the first acknowledged record holders in the press on back without a bridge was the famous German wrestler and strongman Georg Hackenschmidt. In 1898 he pressed 361 pounds – with 19-inch diameter plates – and it stayed in the record books for 18 years. He was eventually exceeded by Joe Nordquest, a heavyweight who pressed 363 pounds in 1916 – while using 18-inch diameter plates. A year later Nordquest would also set a record of 388 pounds in the belly toss, breaking the previous 386-pound record of German strength phenom Arthur Saxon. Among the heavyweights, an early record holder in the belly toss was George Lurich, a Russian wrestler who did 443 pounds in 1902.

Bench press stanchions – the uprights now seen on every make of pressing bench today – showed up in the 1950s, as did the first official 400-, 450- and 500-pound lifts. In November, 1950, Canadian Doug Hepburn became the first to officially pause 400 pounds. He did 450-plus (456 paused) exactly a year later and in December, 1953, made the first official 500-pound lift (502 pounds paused). Four years after that he barely missed the first 600- pound attempt. Hepburn also won a gold medal at the 1953 World Weightlifting Championship in Stockholm, Sweden. Tom Thurston covers the career of Hepburn, one of the icons of the sport of powerlifting, in Strongman: The Doug Hepburn Story (Ronsdale Press).

Though the Olympic lifting powers attempted to stop the odd lifts being performed in competition, they were unable to do so. One reason is that the odd lifts were some of the best for building muscle size and brute strength. What’s more, many of them – notably the squat, bench press and deadlift – didn’t require the flexibility and coordination that the modern-day Olympic lifts demand. In addition, those three moves, now known as the powerlifts, were the most accurate way of determining who the physically strongest person was. Olympic lifts decide who the strongest, quickest, most flexible and coordinated lifter is.

Many strongman lifts are multi-rep events that require conditioning and a different combination of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Strongman competitions are usually designed to favor an athlete who’s taller than average and has a bigger bone structure in his hands. Powerlifting, without the supersuits and bench press shirts, is still the most accurate way to determine who’s truly the best at limit-strength lifting. Skeletal factors influence the lifts’ leverage, but the biggest squatters, benchers and deadlifters of all time are all right around 6’ tall and all have a relatively “normal” limbs-to-height ratio.

It was IronMan publisher Peary Rader who made the first strong move to get powerlifting sanctioned in the United States. In 1958, at a National Weightlifting Committee meeting, Rader petitioned that a list of records be kept. Records set in the power movements were considered unofficial, at least by the AAU.

“Nevertheless,” John Sanchez explains, “Peary Rader sought to provide a national meet venue for which AAU records could be officially set in the new AAU ‘power’ lift category. Had things gone according to plan, that would have been the first ‘national power lift championships’ ever organized and was scheduled for the Fall of 1959. Unfortunately, Rader’s national meet never came to pass. The first national powerlifting competition would not occur for yet another five years, only this time under the auspices of Strength & Health magazine’s publisher, Bob Hoffman.

When the 1960s rolled around, Pat Casey began to take the bench press scene by storm, and he posted his own 500-pound press. He would go on to become the first person to officially break the 600-pound barrier, and his career high was a 615-pound push on March 25, 1967. Pat Casey a highly accomplished powerlifter on all three lifts, and he was the first man to total 2,000 pounds in a meet.

Up through 1962, despite Peary Rader’s attempts, bench records were still not being kept, and it was up to muscle magazine reporters to keep tabs on who had lifted what. The press-or-no-press portion of the lift started getting a lot oaf attention because a lifter could dangerously add a lot of weight to his bench by trampolining the bar off his gut or ribcage.

Bill Pearl wrote about Pat Casey: “I was afraid the benches would not hold the weight. He would do chest exercises with a pair of 220-pound dumbells. There was a corner of the gym where Pat stored his weights for special lifts. Nobody touched Pat’s weights. Nobody other than Pat wanted to touch his weights.”

Pat Casey became the first 600-pound bencher in history just 40 years ago. To this day the 600-pound classic bench press is one of the greatest strength feats an athlete can perform. When I say “classic” I mean a traditional bench press where a lifter gets the weight handed off to him on a bench and can chalk his hands and use wrist wraps and a lifting belt. Lifters can’t use elbow wraps or a bench press shirt and can’t raise their butts or shoulders off the bench, and they have to complete the lift using a full range of motion, with arms fully locked out at the end of the press. The 600-pound Classic Bench Press Roster above is a who’s who of the greatest heavyweight benchers the sport of powerlifting has ever seen. A 600-pound bench done without a supershirt is a remarkable achievement that takes years of dedication, and these athletes should be recognized for their incredible strength accomplishments.

Friday, January 30, 2009

My First Quarter-Century In The Iron Game - Siegmund Klein

Siegmund Klein, center
at age 16


Klein at 18

At 20



My Quarter Century in the Iron Game
By Siegmund Klein – Chapter One


Unlike many Physical Culture Teachers, I am proud to say that I have always been a healthy child and realized at a tender age that I was considerably stronger than my friends. I would delight in testing my strength. At school I partook of the exercises with great delight, and was usually chosen at act as leader in the various sports.

My father was gifted with more than usual strength, and I would like nothing better than to listen to some of the stories he would relate to me. On many occasions, he would lift a 112 pound ring-weight with his little finger from the floor, and place it upon an ordinary table, then return it to the floor again.

I would, oh, on so many occasions, watch my father washing, with his sleeves rolled up, or without his shirt on, and never tire of watching his muscular arms moving during this period. Then I would go through the same movements, in front of my mirror, but in vain; my muscles did not look the same. My age at this time was about twelve. Even at so tender an age, I was “muscle-conscious.” I did want to get muscular and strong.

One day, while a carpenter was fixing our windows, new cords and window pulleys had to be installed. I kept my eyes on the old ones and wondered if the carpenter was going to take the pulley weights along with him. Much to my delight he left them, and these were my first set of iron “dumb-bells.”

I trained with these weights, going through the various movements I had learned at school with wooden dumbells. My enthusiasm could not be kept secret and soon some of my friends were invited to exercise with me in my “little gymnasium.”

Up to this time I did not know that Physical Culture books or magazines were published.

At school our physical training teacher took delight in teaching some of the more enthusiastic boys tumbling. Soon a trio – Mike Ritter, Yale Sharp and myself – was formed and we would give tumbling exhibitions at school displays and field days. We would attend the vaudeville houses in Cleveland, and would usually see some “hand-balancing” or tumbling acts, then go back to our school gymnasium which was at Kennard School, and try to do some of the more advanced stunts. I being the strongest of the trio would be the “bottom man” or supporter of the other two athletes, when such stunts required it. I was getting stronger and it was not long before I was able to lift Mike, the lightest member, overhead with two arms.

As enthusiastic as I was about hand-balancing and tumbling, I felt that this was not exactly what I wanted. My “dumb-bells,” which I kept exercising with, were getting much too light for me. I did not know of heavier weights at this time.

Our trio attended East Technical High School in Cleveland, but would go back to Kennard School for our practice periods.

At East Tech I was always happiest when gym period was at hand. Professor Kern, our gym instructor, was indeed a very good teacher.

He knew how to inspire and get the most out of the boys. Special classes were formed for those boys that intended to become physical training teachers. The preparatory courses consisted of apparatus work, tumbling, group gymnastics, and how to instruct calisthenics. I was selected for this class as I intended to make physical training my career.

Fate, however, had other plans for me at this time. My older brother who had a bake shop could not get sufficient help, so after school I would work in the bake shop until late in the evening as well as all day Saturdays and Sundays. This of course put an end to my attending the Prof. Kern “after school” gym class. My father thought that this would be the best for me. He wanted to send me to a baker’s college after completing high school.

While working for my brother, many opportunities presented themselves to “show off” my strength. When for instance supplies would be delivered to the bakery, I would, to the delight of the truck drivers, help them. I would take two jelly pails that weighed thirty-five pounds, “muscle-out” one of them, and walk into the shop. Or lift a sack of flour that weighed one hundred and forty pounds overhead with two hands.

It was about this time that a friend of mine, who knew my interest in strength, showed me a “Physical Culture” magazine. I was all eyes. I hoped that the magazine would have been published more than once per month. Each month exercises would be illustrated, and I would practice them faithfully. Tommy Faber posed for many of these illustrations, and little di I know at the time that Mr. Faber, who was, as I learned later, a professional hand-balancer, never obtained the shapely figure he had from practicing those particular exercises. From time to time Charles Atlas, Earle Liederman, William Waring and other well known athletes posed for these articles.

In the pages of “Physical Culture” magazine advertisements appeared such well known Physical Culture Teachers as Lionel Strongfort, Adrian P. Schmidt, “Prof.” W. H. Titus, Earle E. Liederman and Anthony Barker. Each of these advertisements showed a picture of the teacher and some featured one or several pupils. Most of them mentioned that for as little as ten cents (some gratis) they would mail you their booklets and therein describe what they had to offer you in detail.

I at once sent for the booklets. This was done without my parents’ knowledge, and when the booklets started to arrive, I was of course questioned about this, and my father was a bit perturbed, telling me that I was “strong enough” without taking any such courses. This was, as you shall read, only the beginning of trouble with me.

To take a “course” I was determined. Reading and re-reading the booklets, I could not make up my mind which course to purchase. Some o the teachers kept their system a secret until purchases, others would show pictures of the apparatus that was sold, with glowing terms of praise and informing you that if you followed this particular course you too could get the development shown. In fact, you could become a Sandow.

Up to this time I did not know or hear much of Sandow, save that he was reputed to be the “Strongest Man in the World.” I did see a picture of Sandow on a “strength testing machine.” It was his famous column pose.

Though this “machine” with Sandow’s picture was quite a distance from our home, I would, whenever the opportunity presented itself, go there.

This pose was to me, the greatest, most magnificent display of sheer muscular beauty that I have ever seen. Sandow’s well-shaped head, his handsome face, powerful and muscular arm, his well-molded torso, his capable looking legs – all inspired me to greater heights. Here, I thought, was the athlete that I would pattern myself after.

Knowing that Sandow was a weightlifter, and if Sandow obtained such a fine development by using weights, then I too wanted to train with weights.

None of the booklets I read advocated barbell training.

In 1919, an advertisement appeared in “Physical Culture” magazine that attracted my attention. Some pictures of a “Muscular Marvel,” Edward Goodman of Los Angeles, graced the page on which appeared a notice that subscriptions were being accepted for a little magazine called “STRENGTH,” and that this magazine was being published again, having discontinued publication during the World War.

I ran to the post office to mail in my subscription. I always thought that my subscription must have been the first one received.

After what seemed ages to me, the magazine finally arrived. I could hardly wait to get it out of the envelope. I read and re-read every page of that little issue of STRENGTH. Here, for once, barbells were being advocated for exercise!

A few days later a catalog arrived with illustrations of the various types of barbells that the Milo Barbell Company of Philadelphia sold. Inside were photographs of strongmen showing their fine development, and testimonials by these athletes mentioning that through the use of barbells they obtained their strength and development.

This was exactly what I had been looking for. The urge to send for the barbells was only dampened by what my folks would say or do if I purchased them, and had them shipped to our home. I did not dare ask for permission, knowing full well what the family thought about my training.

With determination, off to the post office to mail my money order. Together with the information sheet all filled out, I sent for a One Hundred Pound Barbell Set, and instructed the company to ship the weights by freight (so that I would call for the weights at the freight station). Though I was never aware hat it would take considerably longer than by express, it was nevertheless the wiser method.

Being seventeen years of age at this time, another discouraging thought occurred to me. Would this company accept my order without the consent of my parents?

A few days later a letter arrived confirming the order and that my set of barbells would be shipped as requested in a few days . . .

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Soft-Hard Routine - Mike Livingston

Frank Schofro

Jack Lalanne


The Soft-Hard Routine
by Mike Livingston


What is a soft-hard routine? Essentially, it is a two-part, four to six month program in which the muscles are first softened by very heavy, low rep movements, then toughened and expanded by use of high repetition movements.

Before beginning, however, two things must be assessed. First, decide what you want from this program. If it’s size and physique development then perform bodybuilding movements in phase one. If power is your aim, then concentrate on presses, squats and cleans, etc. Second, determine how much weight you need in each exercise to complete 1 set of 2 reps. Once the exercises are determined and the weights ascertained you are ready to begin.

Do between 6 and 8 sets of singles with the weight you’ve selected in each movement. Forget completely about reps and endurance work. It’s power you’re building now. Increase weight as soon as you can perform 2 reps in your first set and still complete 7 more sets of singles. For example, with a best single bench press of 300 you might work to 280 for a double and 7 singles before adding weight.

But – and this is important – don’t jump too quickly. Make sure the first 4 sets feel as if you could force out another rep. Otherwise you’ll go stale too quickly. Phase One must last at least two months to be effective.

The moment you begin to go stale, that is, when you dread each workout and your lifts begin to drop, switch to the second phase. Now, instead of doing the double and singles, force out 3 sets of 8, 10 or even 12 reps with the same movements. Put power completely out of your mind. Concentrate on expanding and pumping the muscles. At the end of the two phases you will have gained in strength and in development.

I guarantee you’ll be surprised at the effect.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Q & A - George Turner

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Ronald Walker




Q & A
by George Turner


Question: How have you adjusted your training and diet as you’ve gotten older?

Answer: My training has changed a number of times over the years. Back in the 1940s I trained my entire body every time I worked out. When I got out of the service in 1946, I continued training that way and was lucky enough to get a lot of help in planning my workouts from Clancy Ross. In 1948 I got a job running the weight room at the YMCA where I trained, and around that time I began working out four days a week. To my three-hour, Monday, Wednesday and Friday workouts I added a Saturday session. I was still training my entire body each time and actually added a set to each of the dozen or so exercises I did. I was 30 years old, and I thrived on all the work.

In 1950 I opened my first gym and began training five days a week on a two-way bodypart split. One week I worked legs, chest and back on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday, and shoulders and arms on Monday and Thursday. The following week I simply reversed the bodyparts worked, with Wednesday and Saturday always my off days.

I moved to Santa Monica and the Muscle Beach scene in 1957, and managed the famous Dungeon for two years. For the next ten years I did variation on the five-day schedule. By now my workout included many sets and again lasted about three hours.

In 1967 I began separating upper- and lower-body training. I worked my entire upper body on one day, then on the next I ran two miles and trained legs and abs. I’d follow that schedule as many as 12 days in a row before taking a second day off. I continued training that way until late 1968, when I opened another large gym.

I was now 40 years old and had been training very hard for 26 years. I realized that I’d begun to need additional recovery time. I was quite strong but was beginning to experience wear-and-tear problems, tendinitis, muscle pulls and the like – not really injuries but clear warnings. To give my body the recovery time it required, I cut back to three days on/one off and started warming up thoroughly before each session. That way I was training each bodypart seven or eight times a month. I was still separating upper- and lower-body training. It’s a simple principle: You cannot work upper two days in a row, no matter how different you think the bodyparts might be. It just knocks the top off the recovery cycle.

I continued this method very successfully for a number of years, but by the early ‘80s even the three-on/one-off schedule began causing me to experience the overwork syndrome again. I knew quite well what the problem was – it’s called aging.

By 1984 I’d brought down my weight – which had been approximately 230 for 30 years – and settled in at a constant 208 to 210 pounds, even dropping to 185 to enter the Open division at the ’84 Mr. USA. I also started spreading my three workouts over five days, as follows:

Day 1 – chest and arms
Day 2 – cardio, legs, lower back and abs
Day 3 – rest
Day 4 – back and shoulders
Day 5 – rest
Day 6 – start again

I don’t sacrifice any heavy free-weight work with this schedule. I squat and deadlift religiously six times a month, heavy! I always warm up for 10 minutes on upper body days and ride a Lifecycle hard for 12 minutes to start my lower body workout.

My diet is very simple. I take a shitload of vitamins and supplements every day and have for the past 50 years, and because my metabolism has slowed, I eat just three moderate-size meals a day. I also take a meal replacement drink in the afternoon after my workouts. And, by the way, I eat two dozen eggs – including the yolks, of course – a week and about three pounds of meat. My cholesterol is 168 and my blood pressure is normal, as it’s been all my life.

I hope this long-winded answer to your question helps in your training.


Question: I like bodybuilding, but I also like powerlifting. Can I do both and be reasonably successful, or should I just concentrate on one?

Answer: I don’t think you can do both, I know you can! After all, powerlifting is a compilation of weight lifted in the three most fundamental bodybuilding exercises: the squat, bench press and deadlift. The list of champion bodybuilders who were also great powerlifters is endless. How about Bill Seno from Chicago? Bill was a world champion in the ‘70s who also placed in the top five or six at several Mr. America contests. Ten years earlier Chuck Collras was winning one big physique show after another in addition to being one of the three or four best 148 lb. class powerlifters in the world. Bill “Peanuts” West, my close friend for many years, has been credited with creating the modern sport of powerlifting around 1960, but before that he won any number of West Coast physique contests. Six or seven years later Bill won the national powerlifting title at 198 lbs.


Question: Who’s the greatest bodybuilder you’ve ever seen, Arnold, Reeves or Yates?

Answer: John Grimek.


Question: How do I get my calves to grow?

Answer: Your problem is one that has baffled bodybuilders for as long as we’ve been around. The easy way, of course, is to have parents who have large, well-developed calves; however, if, as with most of us, that isn’t the case, there are a number of things you can do to make them grow. Remember – it won’t happen overnight.

If you’re like most lifters, you’re likely doing too many exercises and, I suspect doing far too many sets and reps. There’s no point in analyzing your mistakes, though. Just switch to a routine that will get the job done right. This one has done the trick for many top people I’ve worked with and there’s no reason it won’t work for you as well. Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Train calves three times a week.
2) Do only one exercise. Never worry about your so-called lack of proper equipment. I owned several gyms between 1950 and 1992, but I can tell you that the most exciting, fun times I ever had while training took place in my basement and, later, in a handball court at the local Y that had been converted to a weight room.
3) Make that one exercise the first one you do on those three days.

The best calf exercises around, in my opinion, are donkey calf raises done with a partner – not on a machine! – and the standing calf machine. Since it’s not always easy to find someone who’s the right weight for donkeys, I’d stick with the standing calf machine.

Do only 8 sets total – and no more than 12 reps per set. It’s not how many reps you do but how you perform them. The reps are 12, 12, 10, 10, 8, 8, 8, 8.

Start with a weight that you can handle for 12 strict, slow reps. Hold each rep at the top, fully contracted position for a count of three. Without bending your knees at all, lower the weight slowly and deliberately to a full-stretch, heels-depressed position. Hold it for a three count, then, with the same smooth, deliberate action, raise your heels back to a complete contraction. Hold for a three count at the top and bottom of every rep.

Increase the weight by one plate on each successive set. When you get to the fifth set, stay with that weight for the 4 sets of 8.

Don’t kid yourself. If you do this exactly as I’ve outlined two things will happen. Your calves will get sore as hell, and they’ll start growing. This workout will test your powers of concentration, but it’ll give back what you put in.

Teeth Lifting - Hugh Cassidy


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Teeth Lifting
by Hugh Cassidy


The first time I tried teeth lifting I knew I was in for a real challenge. There was a tremendous pressure on the teeth and jaw, and the facial bones around the nose and eye-socket area really ached. When I released the weight I felt the bones ease back into place and the pain was even greater, and later in the day the back of my neck was somewhat sore.

I had sent away for a mouthpiece after first making a cardboard impression of my teeth. Teeth lifting sounds fascinating and very unusual, and as I was interested in neck strength I thought this might help and add variety to my training. After that first experience I was ready to chuck the whole business. Being part Scotch, however, I was determined to at least get my money’s worth out of the mouthpiece. One of the first problems I had to overcome was gagging. The mouth and throat seem unwilling to accept anything inedible at first. It was only after whittling the strap shorter allowing more space for the tongue that I overcame the gag reflex.


Getting the Proper Fit

It is important that all of the teeth, especially the rear ones, fit onto the mouthpiece, yet the strap be no wider or deeper than necessary so as to allow tongue and mouth freedom and to prevent gagging. The mouthpiece has as extra layer of leather on each side to prevent it from slipping out should your jaw pressure relax or give out. These two layers rest against the front teeth and it is a good idea to put the weight down when you feel great pressure here of you’ll never lisp again! The pressure should be felt in the neck and molar area. Too much pressure on the front teeth is your warning of trouble and indicates the molar pressure is lessening. A well-known English bodybuilder lost a few ivories a while back by evidently ignoring the pressure on the front teeth. I had 360 lbs. about six inches off the floor trying to pull it higher. The audience was shouting encouragement and I was pulling for all I was worth despite the great pressure on the front teeth. I didn’t want to set it down and look like a quitter and yet my teeth were really beginning to move instead of the weight. So I eventually wised up and put the weight down. Sometimes an audience will make you overexert yourself and get to, or actually, injured.

A good lifting mouthpiece sustained with a strong even jaw pressure will eliminate any strain on the front teeth. Without a good mouthpiece you’ll eventually have teeth so spread apart you’ll be able to gnaw an ear of corn through a picket fence. A well-fitting mouthpiece such as the one I recently had made and was a steal at $30. One can readily fashion his own cheaply with a little help from the local shoemaker, or send away for one. My teeth lifting partner Gary Beltoya put many hours in, whittling my mouthpiece to an exact fit. He worked from a plaster model of my teeth which my dentist (who thinks I’m nuts) made. Gary got a perfect fit, covering every tooth and getting the proper thickness of the outside layers even with the gumline. My strap is so constructed so that if one tooth goes, they’ve all got to go. Unless you’re eccentric or trying for a world record, or both, the regular mouthpiece will do nicely.

If your mouthpiece fits properly you will quickly find that teeth lifting is more a test of neck strength than that of teeth or jaw. I’d suggest a good warmup of the neck prior to a teeth lifting attempt, or else start very light. You’ll be surprised to find that you’re able to work up to over 100 lbs. quite soon. Even Bill Trueax, one of my training partners, was able to lift 145 lbs. on his first workout and he has no front teeth. Teeth development can serve two goals, that of neck development and that of strength. With practice and some heavy lifting, you can start lifting people with straps as well as weights. Lifting a human body never fails to elicit surprise and wonder in a gym or in front of an audience. Unfortunately, I stole the show from Santa Claus at a Christmas party last year. The kids completely flipped when I lifted Santa a few times. I was fatter than him but nobody seemed to notice. There are often comments of “Who’s your dentist?” and “He’s gonna break his teeth out!” Keep ‘em guessing if you will, but the secret of teeth lifting is in the neck. Long after your face and jaw and teeth become accustomed to the weight, the neck will still be the limiting factor as to how much you lift.


Feats of Teeth Lifting

Warren Lincoln Travis holds the World’s record in the teeth lift with hands behind back at 460 lbs. Joe Vitole, a middleweight, holds the record of 550 lbs. in the teeth lift with hands on knees. Others have approached these records. Both Alexander Zass (Samson), a traveling Russian strongman, and Eric Soeder, a Scandinavian circus strongman, were quite proficient in this lift. Pullum, the famous English chronicler, credits Zass with an unofficial training lift of about 580 lbs. consisting of a girder “weighing about 300 lbs. with a 10-stone man seated on each end.” Soeder claims a 550 lb. teeth pull, also unofficial. Both Zass and Sigmund Breitbart were able to drive loaded wagons where the only connection between horses and wagon was a “bit” held in the teeth of the driver. More common some years ago were the circus “iron jaw” acts where the performer hung from a trapeze by his teeth or slid down an inclined tightwire. Somewhat less bizarre, and easier too, are the feats of pulling cars and trains etc. with the teeth. In his fantastic book The Super Athletes, David Willoughby mentions the feat of Joe Tonti, who in 1945 pulled a five ton truck with his teeth while walking backwards on his hands! Needles to say, the feat of pulling an ordinary car is considerable easier – provided you are on level ground. Te hard part is in starting the car rolling and overcoming inertia. Once it gets rolling the feat becomes one of endurance. One parking lot length ought to give you a good workout. As for freight cars, I haven’t tried one, but I’m told that the tracks and wheel bearings do 80% of the work.


Training

If one desires to really elevate some poundage in the teeth lift, it would be advisable to incorporate into your program a few assistance exercises. Teeth lifting requires a strong lower back and good hamstrings. You will quickly realize this when you attempt reps and pull them as high as you can. Stiff-legged deadlifts will take care of both of these areas, and high reps are preferable. Also of value is some trapezius work. Both the spinal erectors muscles terminate at the base of the skull and are therefore much involved in teeth lifting. With the shirt off, it can be seen that the upper back and trap muscles flex quite a bit when teeth lifting. Shrugs, upright rows and high pulls will serve to condition this area. and if done just prior to your teeth lifting will help to get some needed blood and warmth to the affected area facilitating your first teeth lifting set. Direct neck work, of course, gets the area better and should be done next. Or, if you prefer, go right to your teeth lifting, starting with a low poundage for reps to avoid neck injury. I like Frankenstein’s sidekick Igor for five days once after failing to do a few warmup sets. In Igor’s case it was, unfortunately, somewhat worse as his neck was broken from a hanging and never healed properly.

For my teeth lifting, I use a stout chain about two feet long with an S hook on either end. I loop this through an 85 lb. block weight for my warmup of 20 reps. The hooks, of course, hook right on to the ring on the end of the teethstrap. You’ll have less jiggling and be able to set the weight down more firmly if you get a block weight or facsimile, or use a stopper of some sort on one end of your chain and load from the other. Some fellows wrap a chain several times around an Olympic bar and lift using the hands lightly on the weights for balance. In any case, don’t get a kink in your chain, as if invariably comes out during your lift and can give you quite a head snap. Sets of 10 and 20 are great for developing the back of the neck as well as serving as warmups for the maximum triples, doubles or whatever. My present routine for teeth lifting consists of the following:

Deadlifts – 335x8, 435x8, 505x8.
Upright Row (press grip) – 115x15, 135x10x3sets, 115x15.
Neckwork – 40x25x2, 55x25x2, 70x15, 70x20, 50x30x4.
Teeth Lifting – 85x20, 150x15, 200x10, 250x5.

The neckwork is done by means of a helmet with weights loaded on a pipe on top. Second and third numbers above in each group represent supersets working the front and back of the neck laying on a bench with head hung over. All of the above is done twice a week except for the rows which are done three times a week. I’ve only had one trial with my new mouthpiece, but it looks like I’ll be able to improve on the 360 which really isn’t very good as teeth lifts go.


Technique

Your light teeth lifting sets can be raised much higher than the heavier sets and you should try to lift it is high as possible. If not too heavy, you’ll be able to stand fully erect. Heavier poundages only come about 6” off the floor as the back, leg and neck strain is so terrific. The legs are used a lot in this lift and the neck tends to stay in a rigid isometric condition as the weight gets heavier. For more neck involvement, throw the head up at the highest point of the lift. This again can only be done with the lighter sets. When lifting a maximum weight you may have to pull a few seconds longer, but once you get it started you’re sometimes good for a triple. At times it will feel as though your teeth, gums, eyeballs and even the whole face is going to tear right out, but keep pulling a mite longer and the weight will slowly rise. Often with maximum attempts, as in other lifts, a psych condition is the only thing that’ll get it going.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cinquavalli - W. A. Pullum

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Cinquevalli
by W. A. Pullum


It is said of some men that they were born great; of others, that they won to such eminence by achievement. Of the great Paul Cinquevalli it can be said his name is on both registers!

To know Paul, one must first know Valli, an Italian trainer of tumblers and acrobats extraordinary. Valli, like all good men at this branch, believed in getting his material young. To do this, he periodically traveled a good bit of the world, being familiar with most of its capitals.

At the time that this story commences, the preface to a project he had in mind was nearing its consummation. Explained, this was the discovery of five youths who could bee trained into super-performers. His eye for latent talent had already lighted on four. Now he was looking for the fifth.

In Poland, he found the boy Paul, and knew that his search was over. A dreamy mystic was this child, with large, wondrous eyes in which gleamed the lambent flame of genius. At least, so thought Valli as he gathered Paul unto himself. How right he was, we shall see!

Back in Italy, the training of the selected five began and progressed. Time passed, and eventually their mentor decided that enough of it had to market his creation. Casting about for a suitable title for the act, he finally fixed this with his own imprint. So were launched “The Five Vallis” to an immediate and expected success.

The years went on, and Paul had won to the leadership of the act. In a group of the most extraordinary talent, he was seen to be a scintillating star. Graceful, daring, amazingly strong, all his work was marked with uncanny skill. His stage presence, too, was remarkable. Deportment, actions, smile – all had the same magnetic touch.

Paul, though, was still young, and no wiser, in some things, than his years. With all his skill, he secretly exulted in the strength he also possessed. Whereby came what appeared to be a disaster. Trying something once which came within his province as “bearer” in the act, he shook, staggered, then collapsed. Obviously in trouble, when examined afterwards, he was found badly ruptured.

His career seemingly finished, actually it had not really begun. For out of this misfortune, aided by a great spirit, rose Paul Cinquevalli, probably the most wonderful juggler the world has ever seen. To live up to that title, he was not content simply to work wonders – as other contemporaries also did that. Paul Cinquevalli seemingly worked miracles!

As he sojourned in hospital after the operation, downcast by the blow that Fate had dealt him, he mused upon what he could do on the stage when his hurt had mended. For he knew himself to be now a true child of “the footlights,’ the world outside possessing no glamour at all. Temporarily he toyed with the idea of becoming an outstanding instrumentalist, for he was a most accomplished musician. Continuing reflection, he finally rejected this in favor of becoming a juggler, leanings toward which he had already shown by mastering the elements of the art.

Recovered, he set out on his path, resolved to carve his way to the top of his new profession. With the genius that was truly in him, it was written that he could not fail.

Identifying himself with his old mentor and associates by adopting the name of Cinquevalli, Paul speedily showed that he was not only mindful of the earlier days, but that those to come would prove a crowning sequel. I have been able to supply the Editor with a few illustrations of this wizard-juggler performing. They portray some of his most extraordinary feats!


In all he did Cinquevalli was daringly original. Take his great billiards cue performance, for example. On the butt-end of an ordinary cue he would first “set” one billiard ball, then, on top of that, set another. Into a socketed mouthpiece held in his teeth he would then place another billiard ball, on to which he would then place the tip of the cue, still balancing the two balls, one on top of the other, on its butt-end. Indeed, also in fact, a wondrous feat of skill.

This, however, was not all! Attached to a special coat he wore for this feat, which he designed himself, were four “cup-pockets,” one at the side of each shoulder, the others fitted at its back and front. After maintaining everything under control for a few seconds, he would then knock the cue away and catch the falling balls in three of the four pockets. Seldom, if ever, did he fail.

Balancing two steel tubes upright on his forehead, a glistening cannonball on one – “rocked” over afterwards to the other, without the first one falling – was yet another of his miraculous feats. Spinning a large, flat tub on a high pole overhead, knocking the pole away and catching the tub as it fell dead in the center on a spiked helmet he wore, was yet another in the same category.

He loved juggling with gleaming cannonballs, as they reminded him of his strongman days. After erecting a heavy one overhead balanced on a slender steel shaft, he would drop it and catch it at the base of his neck. To convince people that it really was heavy, sometimes he would purposely fail and let the ball fall on to a table behind him. When it did, this table was always smashed.

After performing other spell-binding feats, he would raise aloft a man seated on a chair, reading at a table. By an ingenious method of counter-balance, he would hold the lot by his teeth and walk off slowly – meanwhile juggling with three or four balls at once.

Cinquevalli died just as he had finished playing the piano one night to a friend. Among other things, he left £27,000.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Thousand and one Exercises" - George Walsh

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“Thousand and one Exercises”
by George Walsh


A famous American authority urges bodybuilders to practice what he calls the “thousand and one exercises”. By this, of course, he means that faster and better results will be achieved if an enthusiast becomes an all-rounder in training and devotes at least some attention to every good exercise he encounters.

Another American authority advocates the selection of four or five “fundamental power” movements and declares that, if wisely chosen and concentrated upon with sufficient patience and determination, they will carry the lifter to the utmost limit of his possibilities.

Neither authority, in my view, is correct. But I have to admit, in all fairness, that neither is completely wrong.


There are certainly at least one thousand different exercises which can be carried our with weight training appliances alone; and many of them are good. A man whose repertoire of lifting movements numbers fifty is quite likely, at the peak of his career, to be a more complete and perhaps a better developed athlete than the man who knows but ten.

I say it is likely! It certainly isn’t inevitable. Versatility and frequent changes of routine are beneficial for most and absolutely essential for many lifters; but they have no virtue in themselves. There must be some degree of continuity in the practice of any exercise of arrangement of exercises if they are to produce the maximum of results; and no lifter can ensure the required continuity over the range of a thousand different exercises, however long his training life.

Four or five movements – whether you call them “fundamental” or not – are certainly sufficient to bring a man to the limit of his possibilities. Two, in fact, are sometimes sufficient, as the remarkable achievements of Indian athletes who practice only squats and press-ups have so often proved. One exercise alone might do it – though it would, I imagine, require a degree of patience surpassing even that of the Indians for a man to refrain from all but one solitary exercise.

But a bodybuilding exercise isn’t and cannot be a static and unchanging movement like a conditioning or corrective exercise. If it is to be effective the resistance must be increased or the number of consecutive repetitions multiplied. In the majority of cases – especially where weights are involved – after a time such advances can only be secured by an alteration in position. And so, in fact, it becomes a different exercise.

The truth is that there is no one exercise which is essential to the building of a strong physique.

Touni’s gigantic musculature was built by the practice of the three Olympic lifts and one or two associated movements. Sandow’s revered physique owed nothing at all to the Olympic lifts – of which, save for a very crude version of the press, he was entirely ignorant – but was fashioned by the handling of weights in a style which the Egyptian strongman has never attempted.

It has happened more that once that two splendidly developed men have presented themselves before me in a physique contest having in common only a near approach to perfection and not, apparently, the slightest similarity in the exercises they have performed to reach the finalists’ stage. Out and out Olympic specialists – men who have never practiced anything but an Olympic lift or something closely associated with it – have ranged before me by the score.

I have examined – and sometimes appraised most highly – men who have used weights only experimentally or under protest. I have often accorded my vote to a man who had never, in regular training, lifted anything more than his own or his partner’s bodyweight!

So, though it is true enough that four or even lesser number of exercises are sufficient to bring a man to the limit of his possibilities, it is quite obvious that no one group possesses this quality exclusively. Not any group of four, but certainly many quite different groups will do the trick.

I have known major bodybuilders who avoided the chief danger inherent in the “thousand and one exercises” creed (that of using an exercise for too short a space of time for maximum results) only to make the mistake of following routines which are badly balanced. I have known still more, of course, who completely ruined their chances of success by selecting and following for a considerable period a limited number of exercises which, together, formed a badly balanced schedule.

It is comparatively easy for a novice to avoid the dangers lurking behind both the training schemes I have mentioned it he is clear in his mind about what constitutes a well balanced routine.


All-round Work

The Two Hands Snatch is considered by most authorities to be the most comprehensive of all lifting exercises and even regarded by some as a complete schedule in itself.

Why? Because it involves these basic constituents: vigorous extension of the legs, vigorous extension of the arms, powerful work for all the major muscles of the back and shoulders. Examination of the Indian system of squats and dips shows that it contains the same necessary ingredients – and so does every schedule whether short or long which really produces results.

The man who likes variety, therefore, can accept the general principles of the “thousand and one exercises” creed provided that (a) he keeps to one particular routine for a sufficient length of time for it to produce results, and (b) that each new routine is well balanced on the basis outlined above.

The man who prefers simplicity can be quite sure that a minimum number of exercises will take him to the limit of his possibilities. But he, more than anybody else, must be quite sure that his chosen routine satisfies the training requirements typified by the Two Hands Snatch.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Advertising's Early Days - Bob Hoffman

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Advertising’s Early Days
by Bob Hoffman


During the years of 1920, ’21 and ’22, very lean years in my life, I still managed to procure in some manner most of the courses which were being offered in the physical training magazines of those days. I have complete sets of such magazines as Strength, Correct Eating and Strength, Arena and Strength and Physical Culture, Bernarr McFadden’s magazine. I have every copy of the McFadden Muscle Builder which was published from 1922 through to 1925. I have bound copies of the Strong Man and a great many copies of Sandow’s magazine and the British Health and Strength.
Our own magazine, Strength & Health had its beginning in 1932. We purchased the rights to Strength which had its inception at the beginning of the century and at one time I had every copy of this magazine. I have the first copies of Sandow’s magazine which started in 1898, the year I was born. I have the first copies of Physical Culture and the first copies of Muscle Builder. Let us see who was advertising in those golden days.


The young, slender Bob Hoffman was reading these advertisements trying to learn how to build strength and muscle. There was a double page spread of Lionel Strongfort, who died at the age of 92. A few weeks before his death he wrote to me and asked if I would like to offer his course for sale. It was still a good course and he believed that I would do well with it. It was called Strongfortism, The New Science of Health Promotion. He said nothing about apparatus.

Another advertisement was by Bernarr McFadden. He offered to add 15 years to your life.

Charles MacMahon, who apparently was with the staff of Strength magazine, had a course of his own and a full page ad. He offered to help you get muscles like the fellows in the photos – Grimbach, Simms, Rotan and Geiser. MacMahon, whom I came to know well, was one of the three in the famous Milo barbell ad. The others were Matysek and Tauscher. MacMahon had another full page ad for his wrestling book.

George F. Jowett had an ad. Although he was one of the strongest of men, a good wrestler, tumbler and hand balancer, he offered a pair of 15-pound dumbells and showed some really outstanding men who had taken his course.

There was a Milo Barbell ad showing Owen Carr. There was a Eugen Sandow ad.

There were five full pages concerning the Earle Liederman course. At time he had 12 full pages and he was the leader in the train-by-mail field. He had two Rolls-Royces and a Hispano-Suiza. His usual advertisement asked, “How would you like to walk up Broadway with Earle Liederman?” He was offering an elastic rubber exerciser. Earle is still with us and writes for Muscular Development and Strength & Health (1970).

In those old magazines there would be a full page ad by Hobart Bradstreet offering a spine motion course of training. Jimmy DeForest offered a 20-week boxing course with the heading, “Wanted by 10,000 fight promoters, men who can box.”

Siegmund Brietbart had a full page advertisement concerning the offer of “Brietbart, the Superman of Strength.” His book was called Muscular Power and after a few weeks of free hand exercises he offered a spring made with a number of layers of steel having the same action as our crusher grips of today. I had his course and his springs, and liked them but it would do little more than build good pectoral muscles. Years later while driving a spike through a board, it slipped and entered his flesh. He died of blood poisoning.

Michael McFadden (no relation to Bernarr) had a 2/3 of a page ad in the old Strength magazine. His advertisement was headed with the line, “You too can have muscles bulging with power.” His medium of power and muscle building was a cable exerciser which he said was manufactured and sold under patents awarded and pending in all countries. Infringers would be punished by law! (cables were used 50 years before in Germany.)

The Marshall Stillman Company had an advertisement concerning a scientific boxing course. The course also included deep breathing and muscle building.

The Weil Company offered a rubber belt that looked strangely like our “heat belt” of today. They advertised, “New self-massaging belt makes you look many pounds lighter and inches thinner the moment you put it on. Actual fat disappears as quickly and as surely as though under the hands of an expert masseur. No dieting, no drugs, no exercise. A wonderful new invention that not only gives you an instant appearance of slimness but actually reduces your bulging waistline to normal in an amazingly short time is now being used by thousands of men who were formerly overburdened with an excess of fat. With this remarkable discovery it is no longer necessary to resort to heart straining exercises or weakening diets and few men can take the time or pay the exorbitant fees charged by a professional masseur. As everyone knows, the masseur, by skillfully manipulating the loggy tissues right at the spot sets up a vigorous circulation that seems to melt the fat away.”

The Weil Scientific Reducing Belt operated on the same principle. Made of specially prepared rubber it not only reduced your waistline from four to six inches the minute you put it on but it was so constructed that every movement you make, every breath you take, imparts a constant, gentle massage to your abdomen. it massages away the abdominal fat so quickly and easily that it seems almost like magic. In a few weeks inches and inches of fat should actually disappear.

The ad said, “Thousands of men who were formerly burdened with bulky, disfiguring fat, have not only vastly improved their appearance at once with the Weil Reducing Belt but have quickly acquired a normal waistline.”

Free proof – Try the Weil Reducing Belt at our expense for ten days. Take your waist measurement before and after this ten day period. Note the difference in inches. Feel the improvement in your general condition. According to the terms of our guarantee you must be satisfied or you pay nothing.”

The price in 1924 was $9.95, which was a great deal more money than it is now. The Weil Company’s advertisements appeared in the next ten years of Strength magazine. I do not know what happened to them after that.

The Weil Company had competition, competition that would now get the advertiser into considerable trouble. Another company, the Sanden Belt Company advertised their belt as a source of strength and vigor. They advertised, “If you seek that perfect health, strength and vigor which makes men also powerful and magnetic, or if you want to get rid of rheumatism, nerve weakness, lame back, lumbago, poor circulation, dyspepsia, sleeplessness, kidney, liver, bladder weakness or other distressing chronic complaints, then send right away for out free booklet telling you about the famous Sanden Belt. This is your opportunity to become well, strong and capable without the use of drugs. The Sanden Hercules is the best in the world and has thousands of satisfied users. Sold by the Herculex Company, New York City.”

These advertisements would make you wonder just how good these belts really were. The Weil Belt somewhat resembles the BH Waistband, more often called a “heat belt.” Although some strong statements are made considering the performance of these belts in the past they could not operate as well and the BH Waistband for it is made of an entirely new rubber-like material which generates a fantastic amount of heat.

We receive fabulous reports concerning the services these belts render and these reports verge on the incredible. Not surprising to us, however, for many years I have stated that heat, massage and exercise are the best ways to avoid athletic injuries and to overcome injuries which have occurred.

I was talking to S & H editor Bill Starr and Tommy Suggs and they both agreed were it not for the BH Waistbands and BH Kneebands, they would not be lifting today! Both had knee and sacroiliac injuries which put them out of weightlifting until the BH bands brought them back into the game.

Tommy Kono tells us the same thing. If he had knee bands sooner he would not have had to give up weightlifting and turn professional. A report I received recently from an enthusiastic user of BH Waistbands and Kneebands stated that it was the greatest invention since the revolving barbell. It is a piece of equipment that well-dressed weightlifter and athlete should wear and serves well for Mr. and Mrs. Average American.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Bob Peoples I Knew - Bob Hise II

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The Bob Peoples I Knew
by Bob Hise II

Some lifters have bulging biceps, some have massive chests. Bob Peoples had robust rhomboids, a spinal column encased with spinal erectors the size of forearms; a back highly developed from the head bone to the tail bone, atlas to coccyx, with ligaments and tendons that could be equated to steel cables.
In the 1940s he deadlifted 728 lbs. weighing 178, minus drugs, wraps and body suits. This was done using a cross hand (knuckles out) grip. He wore no shoes (only socks) and was the forerunner of ballet-type deadlift shoes.
In 1937 the Tennessee State Olympic Weightlifting Championships were held at the Frye Institute (a Mecca for the Iron fraternity) in Chattanooga. Bob Peoples, an unknown lifter from the eastern part of the state was entered. If memory serves me right he did a 190 press, 215 snatch and a clean & jerk of 265. He used a powerful pull and shallow split in snatching and cleaning which denoted tremendous back strength. When the competition was over he asked to put on a deadlift exhibition. With no warmup he opened with 500 which he did for 4 reps. Bob went on to do 600 and 650 with much to spare at a bodyweight of 175. The most unusual part of his lifting was the way he gripped the bar, a straight no-cross grip and a steady, no pause lift from the floor to a strong stand up finish. We became friends from then and continued until the end when I served as a pall bearer at his funeral.

Many were the times that we visited in each others homes and discussed lifting. His many innovative training philosophies, routines and inventions guided him as he became the world’s greatest deadlifter. His early training was done with crude objects. Two barrels with a heavy pipe attached, large timbers were placed in the ground and were used for supports of this huge apparatus. The barrels were filled with rocks, each having the weight painted on them. This was one of Bob’s first training devices.
Sinking Creek ran in front of the Peoples’ home, and a suspension footbridge skirted the creek. Bob would load up his barrels, take them off the racks and walk across the swaying bridge, turn around, walk back across and place the weight on the supports. I’ve seen him use 500 lbs. for this feat. He called it building ‘super-strength’.


For deadlifting he would place the barrels on the ground and use different height platforms to stand on – which gave him different lifting positions with bar touching insteps, to medium, and a high finish position.

The only conventional pieces of equipment he owned at that time were a 150 lb. standard plate-loaded barbell and two solid dumbells (one 60 lbs. and one 75 lbs.). He would do one-arm swings, presses, and snatches with dumbells. Of course, Bob later acquired conventional equipment – a Jackson Olympic 400 lb. set. He had the local foundry cast four 100 lb. weights to use in his various exercises.

Peoples was much in demand for deadlifting performances and I accompanied him to Atlanta, Nashville, Detroit and other areas. Many times we would have to take extra weights because the sponsors would not have adequate barbell plates. One of these times was an event at the Nashville YMCA, an Olympic lifting contest, plus an exhibition by Pudgy Stockton and Bob’s deadlifting. I had recently been discharged from World War II days in the Army Air Force and had an Army Jeep. Highway 41 was being worked on and we had to detour over the mountains via Richard City (home of famed western film star Tom Mix). Logging and mining trucks had left the road in horrible condition and driving at a reasonable speed carried you all over the road. With weights in back and makeshift bed on top where my wife Billy was sleeping and Bob in front with me shivering, we made the lurching journey as fast as possible so Bob could get back to work. I asked Bob to drive ad get warmed up – his reply, in his usual dry wit, “No, I might get the Jeep in jump gear and we’d really have a disaster.”
Bob, along with Pudgy, stole the show. He lifted 728 weighing 178. No wraps, wearing only socks on his feet. To quote Bob, “It gave me better leverage.” He used his underhand grip here because it is the natural way to lift. Ask any beginner to lift a barbell and they’ll start in this manner. He used both styles of gripping but always thought this was the best way to lift heavy weights.
Bob was always cold and when I walked him to the passenger boarding train platform his knees were actually bouncing together from the extreme shivering. He had to catch the Southern Railway train “The Tennessean” and get back to Johnson City for work that afternoon.
This reminds me of when Bob and his wife Juanita visited us in Los Angeles (which as you know is not a cold area). Bob asked me if I’d turn on the forced air furnace so I adjusted the temperature to a good warm setting and opened the vent wide in their bedroom. For the first time ever the thermostat malfunctioned and the burners cut off – blowing cold air into their room. Bob never believed this wasn’t intentional.

Some of Bob’s training methods were unique. He built a bouncing platform of two oak 2x12” boards, 8’ long, nailed barbell width apart on 4x4” timbers underneath at each end. By using the lift on his tractor (extending a lowering/raising mechanism which he could operate by placing his head against the actuator) 800 lbs. would be lifted to an upright extended position, and he would lower this, with a bounce, and attempt to get the bar to his knees. This would build great starting strength (50 kg. Mav-Rik bumpers can be used for this type of training). Bob also did a lot of eccentric movements by using his tractor lift to raise an excessive weight and then lowering it himself.

I witnessed him doing cleans with two 110 lb. dumbells for ten reps, one from the floor and 9 dead hangs. He used no straps which showed his great gripping and tremendous back strength. His theory: you start most every lift with the hands so they must be strong. I think many power and Olympic lifters neglect grip strength training.

I’ve never known a man who did so much: worked in a rayon mill (changing shifts every week), a member of the Johnson County Road Commission, farmed, and still trained, and I mean HARD TRAINING – many times at 2 a.m. after he finished his evening shift of work and had a bite to eat.
Bob bought another farm with a huge house sitting on a hill. Here he built his basement dungeon gym. Not only did he train here, but he trained Paul Anderson as well. Peoples was really an organized man.
He was a mild man, but did have a flare up temper at times. His wife Juanita told me of times he would get so angry with himself because he wasn’t progressing that he would actually carry his weights from the dungeon and throw them down the hill – swearing never to lift again. A few days later he would lug all the weights up and back to the dungeon and train harder than ever. A real layoff.
Yes, Bob Peoples was ahead of his time. His photo is enshrined in the Tri-City: Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol Airport, denoting his position in the Tennessee Athletic Hall of Fame. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee and won honors as a livestock judge.
Yes, Mr. Peoples was a great lifter, a fine gentleman, and a true friend whom I miss very much.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Full-Body Workouts - C.S. Sloan

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Full-Body Workouts
by C.S. Sloan


In the era of go-for-the-pump bodybuilding we’ve forgotten one of the best methods for building bulk, power and strength – the three days a week full-body workout. There are those who say there’s no way you’ll grow by training a bodypart more than once a week. Well, I’m here to tell you that the three days a week method is still the best around for packing on power or busting out of a rut.

Not convinced? Take a look at these examples of bodybuilders and lifters who have periodically used three days a week full-body workout.

Marvin Eder – In my opinion, the greatest all-around bodybuilder, powerlifter and strength athlete ever to walk the planet. Eder had 19-inch arms at a bodyweight of 198. He could bench 510, squat 550 for 10 reps and do a barbell press with 365. He was reported to have achieved the amazing feat of cranking out 1,000 dips in only 17 minutes. Imagine doing a dip a second for 17 minutes. As Gene Mozee once put it, “Modern bodybuilders couldn’t carry his gym bag.” One of Eder’s favorite routines for adding bulk and power was a three days a week full body routine.

Steve Reeves – Steve Reeves was renowned for the beauty and proportion of his physique. It was quite possibly the most perfect structure that ever graced a bodybuilding stage. He always used a three days a week full-body routine.

Joseph Curtis Hise – In the 1930’s, J.C. Hise had been training for a number of years but weighed only 180 at a height of 5’9”. He was unsatisfied with his results until he took up a three days a week workout built around heavy, high-rep breathing squats. Hise then gained an unheard of 29 pounds in one month. His results were so amazing no one believed his progress.

Mike Bridges – Bridges was one of the greatest powerlifters of all time, competing in the 165 and 181 pound classes. He bench pressed well over 400, squatter more than 700 and deadlifted close to that. Bridges trained all three of the power lifts in the same workout, three days a week.

George Oleson – Considered by some authorities to be the strongest man alive, Oleson holds 14 Guinness records. In addition to several amazing feats of strength, George bench pressed close to 600 pounds, squatted more than 900 and deadlifted more than 800. His favorite weight workout involved training all the major lifts in one session, doing 3 sets of 3 reps for each lift.

Still aren’t convinced? Just give the following routines a fair try and I guarantee you’ll be a believer in no time.


Beginner to Intermediate Program

If you’ve never lifted a weight before – or you’ve only been lifting for a few months and your buddies at the gym have convinced you a six-day split is the only way to go – it would be wise to take a back to basics approach. If you’ve been lifting for years without make appreciable gains, that advice goes for you too.

What follows is very similar to a routine Marvin Eder would often use and recommend to other lifters. Perform it on three non-consecutive days of the week.

Squats – 3 sets of 5.
Use a medium-wide stance with the bar resting across your trapezius muscles. Make sure you lower to below parallel on each rep; that is, your hips should go below your knees. Also, stay tight on the descent, and explode back to the top. Note that the sets and reps listed do not include warmup sets.

Incline Barbell Presses – 3 sets of 5.
Use a bench set at 45 degrees. Grip the bar so that your pinkies are on the power rings. Lower the bar to your upper chest, just below your neck, pause briefly and explode to lockout.

Wide-Grip Chins – 3 sets to failure.
Take a grip that’s a good deal wider than shoulder width. As you raise yourself, try to come close to touching your chest to the bar. Descend slowly and focus on getting a good stretch in your lats. Perform 4 sets of as many reps as possible. I don’t care if you can only manage 1 ½ reps on your first set. Stick with the exercise until you’re performing multiple reps on all four sets. You can alternate these with the incline presses if you like: do a set of incline presses, rest a few minutes and then perform a set of chins. Continue like that until all sets are finished.

Overhead Presses – 3 sets of 6.
Use a slightly wider than shoulder width grip and clean a barbell off the floor. Keeping your back straight press the bar up to lockout, hold for a moment, lower to the floor and repeat.

Standing Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 6.

Pullover and Presses – 3 sets of 6.
Although you may not have heard of this exercise, it’s fantastic for triceps mass and power as well as being an excellent finishing movement for the upper body. Lie on a bench and grab a barbell, holding it over your chest. Keep your upper arms locked into place and lower your forearms as if you were going to do a skull crusher. Once they are at 90 degrees lower the bar back behind your as in a pullover. Reverse the process and repeat.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of this workout –
- After two weeks increase to 4 sets per exercise.
- After four weeks – 5 sets per exercise.
- After six weeks – 6 sets per exercise.
- Try to conserve your energy for the program.
- Don’t add anything. The time for that will come later.
- Increase your poundages whenever possible.


Advanced Programs: Using the Heavy, Light and Medium Concept

When lifters reach more advanced stages, they often switch to a split routine. Sometimes a split can be a good idea and sometimes not. A periodic return to a three day a week full-body routine is ALWAYS a good idea. One advantage is that all the muscles get equal attention, which gives you proportionate strength throughout your entire body and helps to determine any weak part. With most trainees the split system is often upper-body heavy and lacking in work for the legs and lower back.

A lot of lifters say they can’t perform three full-body workouts a week because they can’t do justice to other bodyparts because if they train legs first they’re too tired. The reason for this is simply – they’re out of shape. After a few weeks on a full-body routine they’ll have their strength up to previous levels on all bodyparts, and before long they’ll have surpassed personal records.

Another advantage for advanced lifters is that their muscle groups get worked more frequently with a full body workout. Here’s the kicker – you still hit each bodypart heavy only once a week. The other two sessions are light and medium workouts. This form of training has worked for many decades and still works today.


ADVANCED PROGRAM 1


Heavy Workout

Squats – 5 sets of 5, 1 set of 10.
Perform 2 warmup sets followed by 3 all-out sets of 5 reps. Pick a weight that makes you struggle to get 5 reps on all 3 work sets. Add weight at the next heavy workout and again whenever you manage 5 reps on all 3 sets. After the last set, drop down in weight for 1 set of 10 reps. The 10 reps should be next to impossible to perform.

Flat Bench Presses – 5 sets of 5, 1 set of 10.
Follow the same plan as squats.

Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5.
The same as above, but omit the higher-rep set.

Push Presses – 5 sets of 8.
Do 2 warmup sets of 8 followed by 3 work sets, going as heavy as possible for 8 reps.

Barbell Curls – 5 sets of 8
As above.

Incline Situps – 3 sets of 45.
Perform 15 reps as regular situps, 15 twisting to the right, and 15 to the left.


Light Workout

Squats – 5 sets of 5.
Use a weight that’s 60 to 65% of the weight you used in the heavy workout. You’ll probably need only one warmup set, so you can do the remaining 4 sets with you work weight. Concentrate on speed and explosiveness. The concentric portion of each lift should be done as quickly as possible.

Flat Bench Presses – 5 sets of 5.
As above.

Good Mornings – 5 sets of 5.
This exercise is great for building strong lumbars. Perform 2 warmup sets followed by three heavy sets of 5 reps. Heavy, of course, is relative on this exercise. The mechanics of the exercise don’t allow for great poundages, thus, it falls on the light day.

Seated Dumbell Presses – 5 sets of 8.
Do 2 warmup sets followed by 3 all-out work sets.

Concentration Curls – 5 sets of 8.
As above.

Crunches – 3 sets of 45.
Perform these as you did the incline situps in the heavy workout. I put them on the light day because they don’t involve the effort that other ab exercises do.


Medium Workout

Squats – 5 sets of 5, 1 set of 2.
Perform 2 warmup sets just as you did on the heavy day followed by 3 sets of 5 reps with a weight that’s less than what you used at that workout. I like to use around 85% of what I did on the heavy day. After your 5th set rest a few minutes and do a heavy double with more weight than you used on your heavy day. That will prepare you for the upcoming heavy day, when you’ll attempt to use the weight used for a double here 5 reps.

Flat Bench Presses – 3 sets of 5, 1 set of 2.
Same as above.

Stiff-legged Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5.
Do two warmup sets followed by 3 heavy sets of 5. The weight you use on these should be somewhere between what you use on the good mornings in the light day and the deadlifts in the heavy day.

Behind the Neck Presses – 5 sets of 8.
Do 2 warmup sets followed by 3 heavy sets.

Barbell Curls – 5 sets of 8.
As above.

Hanging Leg Raises – 3 sets of 45.
Perform these to the front, right, and left side.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this program:
- Stick with it for least 8 weeks.
- After a month on the program, increase the weight you use on the light and medium days. Go to 75% on the light day and 90% on the heavy day.

ADVANCED PROGRAM 2

This program incorporates the heavy/light/medium system, but goes about it differently. In this routine you perform different lifts on each day, and the exercise itself determines what day it falls on.

Keep in mind that what follows is just an example. Feel free to exchange the exercises on the light and medium days regularly as long as they fall within the guidelines.

Heavy Workout

Squat – 7 sets of 5.
Don’t deviate from the instructions for this exercise, no matter what. The full squat, or some version of it, should be the cornerstone of every workout in every routine. Here, however, you do 2 more sets than you did previously. Perform 3 progressively heavier warmup sets followed by 4 work sets of 5. Once you can get 5 reps on each of these sets increase the weight at the next session.

Flat Bench Presses – 7 sets of 5.
Same as above.

Deadlifts – 7 sets of 5.
Same as above. If you’ve followed the first two programs faithfully, you should be capable of handling this workload.

Alternate – Dips/Chins – 4 sets of 5.
After a good rest, and a few warmup sets, perform a set of dips, rest, do a set of chins, rest and continue back and forth until you complete all 8 sets.

Alternate – Barbell Curls/Pullover and Presses – 4 sets of 5.
Same as above.

Incline Situps – 3 sets of 60.
20 reps in each direction.


Light Day

Olympic-style Pause Squats – 5 sets of 5.
Use a fairly close stance and squat as low as possible, pausing at the bottom for a second before starting the ascent. Perform 2 warmup sets. Shoot for a weight that’s at least 75% of what you use on the work sets for your squats in the heavy workout.

One-arm Dumbell Bench Presses – 5 sets of 5.
This exercise will be tough when you first try it because of the coordination it takes. Stick with it, however, as it will greatly aid your regular flat-bench presses. Five sets each arm.

Round-back Good Mornings – 5 sets of 8.
Use caution with this exercise and go much deeper into the negative portion of the lift. Add small amounts of weight slowly.

Superset – Dumbell Curls/Lying Dumbell Extensions – 5 sets of 8.
Do a set of curls and go directly into the extensions, then rest and repeat.

Crunches – 3 sets of 60.


Medium Day

Bottom Position Squats – 5 sets of 5, 1 set of 3.
Set the pins in the rack below parallel. This exercise will bring new meaning to the words hard work if you’ve never performed it before.

Incline Bench Presses – 5 sets of 5.
Do 2 warmup sets followed by 3 work sets.

Power Cleans – 5 sets of 5.
This is one of the best back exercises in existence. The beauty of it is that you can work your lower, middle and upper back all in one exercise. If you’ve been lifting for a number of years and have never done any cleaning, you’ve done yourself a disservice. Do 2 warmup sets and 3 work sets.

Close Grip Chins – 5 sets of 5.
Use a regular knuckles-front grip on these. Add weight on the 3 work sets when possible.

Lying Barbell Extensions – 5 sets of 5.
Add weight slowly and in small increments.

Hanging Leg Raises – 3 sets of 60.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of the program:
- Remember, this workout is only a guideline. There are many applicable substitute exercises you can use to tailor the program to your own needs and limitations.
- If you feel overtrained or run down, avoid taking a layoff at first. Try switching to exercises that require the use of lighter weights for a week or two. That will decrease your total workload and may get you back on track when you return to the heavier exercises.
- After the first month, don’t be afraid to add a back-off set to your core exercises.

If you’ve never tried full-body workouts you owe it to yourself to give them a try. They may be retro but you can bet your butt they still work.

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