Monday, August 31, 2009

The Ancients Trained With Dumbells - Gord Venables

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Louis Abele about to press 315 for an American record.

by Gord Venables (1942)

There has been much discussion concerning whether the use of dumbells antedated the use of bar bells or vice versa. A study of the history of physical education does prove, however, that both of these very useful health, strength and bodybuilding devices have been in use for thousands of years. It is believed that man, much as we know him today, has lived on this earth for at least 25,000 years. Our only record of the earliest human inhabitants of this earth is in the form of bones, weapons, and some crude drawings. Written history is approximately 6000 years old. But in the earliest recorded history we find considerable reference to training with weights.

The records of the Egyptians tell of training with weights. The descendants of ancient Mongolian races, long inhabiting the North and South American continents, brought with them in their migrations of thousands of years ago a knowledge of the value of the progressive training with weights. Stones in various forms provided the first weights of these peoples of Mongolian origin, both stones to be used in each hand, and stones with a long shaft joining them together which were the earliest models of bar bells. In Japan today, in particular, and also in China in the regions far from modern cities, bar bells made of wood and stone are common.

The Greeks, who were a superior race mentally and physically, have given us many references to dumbell training and the use of other weights. The American encyclopedia has this to say of the ancient people whose name is synonymous with all desirable physical qualities: “The Spartans were the most rigid in exacting for their youth a gymnastic training. Even the girls were expected to be good gymnastic performers. The exercises for pupils in the gymnasia consisted of a sort of tumbling, war dances for both sexes, hopping, climbing ropes, wrestling for the throw, jumping and springing with weights, the use of leaded dumbells, riding, diving, swimming, rowing and swinging to supplement the indoor work.” In Homer’s Iliad we have the first written record of Grecian training, including “jumping and springing with weights.” Undoubtedly a modern poet, if he visited the York Bar Bell gym, could no better describe the practice of the Olympic lifts he saw being practiced there – the straddle hop, the one hand snatch, the one hand swing, most of the dumbell lifts – in any way better than to say they were “jumping and springing with weights.”

In Leonard and McKenzie’s “History of Physical Education” we have a great many references to dumbell training in the world of the ancients and later in the period which is known as the Middle Ages. In a description of the Roman forms of training, the book referred to, which is a textbook on physical education, has this to say: “Other movements were exercises of the arms with dumbells in the hands, the fencing with wooden swords,” etc. And concerning the training of the Greeks, “No clothing of any sort was worn during the exercises. These seem to have included most of the forms practiced in later centuries: running and the broad jump with and without wooden weights in the hands, throwing the javelin and the discus for distance, training with leaded dumbells and above all wrestling, besides the rudiments of boxing and a form of the pancranium, a struggle which combined certain features of both wrestling and boxing with others of its own.”

There is a great void in our written records concerning exercise between the time of the Romans and Greeks, over 1900 years ago, until the 1500’s and 1600’s. In the physical education textbook referred to we find this report of the training at the time of the French Renaissance, 1490-1553: “He practices (referring to the training of the youth of the time) wrestling, running, broad and high jumping, swimming, rowing and sailing a boat, climbing ropes, masts, trees and walls, throwing stones, hurling spears, shooting with bow and with firearms, hanging and traveling sideways on a pole fixed in two trees, and putting up leaded dumbells.” And in England at about the same time Sir Thomas Elyot (1490-1546) wrote a volume concerning the education suitable for a gentleman’s son. Chapters 16, 22, 26 and 27, comprising a considerable part of the whole book, are devoted to physical training. This book went through a half dozen issues during a period of 50 years and even recently was reprinted in London and New York, as it contains so much sage advice. Quoting from this famous book, “Of sundry forms of exercise necessary for a gentleman. Exercises whereof cometh both recreation and profit, include exercises with heavy dumbells of lead or other metal, lifting and throwing the heavy stone or bar, shooting of the long bow, the principle of all other exercises.”

John Milton wrote the “Tractate on Education” (1644), in which at this time he associates bodily exercise with mental and moral training. In his model school he would have the young men between the ages of 12 and 21 live together in the barracks like the Spartan youth. “About an hour and an half ere they eat at noon should be allowed them for exercise, and due rest afterwards. The exercise which I commend first is exact use of their weapon, to guard and strike safely with edge or point, and to train with dumbells; this will keep them healthy, nimble, strong and well in breath; is also the likeliest means to make them grow large, tall and strong, and to inspire them with a gallant and fearless courage.” In many books, too numerous to mention, we have copious references to dumbell training. Early in the 1700’s a number of medical writers were urging the necessity of a good form of physical training in the scheme of education, and directing attention to the importance of bodily exercise in the restoration and preservation of health. In London, in 1705, Francis Fuller published “Medicina Gymnastica,” a treatise concerning the power of exercise. A German translation was made after the book was passed through seven or eight editions in England. Freidrich Hoffman, 1660-1742, a distinguished German physician referred to several times by Gut Smuths in his “Gymnastics for the Young,” published in Latin a book on “Motion, the Best Medicine for the Body.” Later volumes, “The Incomparable Advantages of Motion” and “Bodily Exercises and How They Preserve Health.” In 1780 a popular volume called “Medical and Surgical Gymnastics, the Use of Exercise of the Body in the Cure of Disease.” In the 1700’s interest in physical training with weights in various forms rapidly forged ahead. A common form of exercise for men was to walk with weights held either overhead of at sides, gauging their gains in gains in strength by the exact time when the limbs began to pain them due to fatigue.

During Elizabethan times, in the early 1600’s, dumbells became so popular in England that they threatened to replace the long bow as the chief means of bodily development. These men of the Middle Ages, not so far advanced in many ways, discovered that the greatest strength and the best developed physiques came from practicing exercises with dumbells. In 1728 another famous book was published, titled “A Physiological, Theoretic and Practical Treatise on the Utility of Muscular Exercise for Restoring Power in the Limbs.” The exercises included in this book were to be performed with dumbells and were little different from those included in modern courses. During this period of the world’s history, the use or weights with progressive practice, advancing from the lighter forms to heavier weights as strength and physical ability increased, became very popular, for physical educators and physicians alike had found this forming to be the best means to heal, overcome or cure physical injuries or handicaps of many sorts.

We moderns frequently look down upon these people of two and three hundred years ago, but the many books they have left for us show that they knew physical training, methods of progressive weight training, and their favorable effects better than most of our physical educators and medical men today. Exercise, with progressive weights or other apparatus which permits graded progressive increases in resistance, combined with proper eating, sufficient rest, is the best way to overcome ills, injuries and physical deficiencies of all sorts, as well as to build strength and muscle. It seems that almost nothing is beyond the power of physical training. There are so many cases of men who have overcome so many types of aches and pains, sciatic, rheumatic conditions, paralysis in its many forms, atrophied or withered limbs, stiff limbs and a long list of serious ailments.

Delving into history throughout all the recorded ages we find that the value of dumbells as strength and health builders was well understood. Although the use of light dumbells has been generally known and approved of in the last half century in particular, and hardly a school, college or other gymnasium does not have its collection of light dumbells, few are completely aware of the great strength building value of dumbells. And by strength I don’t mean only muscular strength, but internal strength as well, organic and glandular. All the great strong men were habitual users of dumbells. In fact the majority of their was at times done with dumbells. Consider a few of them. Eugene Sandow, Arthur Saxon and others set many records and standards for strength and physical development, some of which have not been approached. Saxon, the world’s best one hand lifter, an expert in all forms of dumbell lifting, was so strong that a usual manner of ending his act was to place a 232 lb. bar bell upon his shoulder, place his 168 lb. brother upon this barbell, sitting on top of his shoulders, so far a weight of 400 lbs, and then invite eight men from the audience to hang upon the bell. With this great weight, ranging from 1600 to 2000 lbs., he would walk back and forth across the stage or whirl round and round in merry-go-round fashion, bringing laughter from the crowd when they saw the dizzy, apparently drunken manner in which these men walked off the stage. Most of Louis Cyr’s (generally believed to be the strongest an who ever lived) training was with dumbells. In the York Bar Bell gym we have the famous Cyr bell, the shot loading dumbell with which Cyr bent pressed 273 lbs. to break Sandow’s world record of 271. Cyr holds the world’s record in the back lift, 4300 lbs., and the majority of his strength was gained through the use of heavy dumbells. I have mentioned perhaps the three greatest: Sandow, who combined showmanship, lifting ability, and marvelous posing with his exceptional body; Saxon, who did not care about posing but traveled around the world astonishing huge audiences with his strength and lifting ability, and Louis Cyr, a man who weighed well over 300 lbs. and compared more than favorably in strength, size for size with an elephant. There were literally hundreds of other famous strong men of the same and a later period who trained almost exclusively with dumbells.

Our discussion so far has cited the fact that dumbells had long proven their worth as curative and health-building mediums, the fact that the strongest men of all time were regular users of heavy dumbells proves that they are excellent for building strength. And the fact that the best built men of the past and present are dumbell users once again proves that they are excellent as well for producing a magnificent physique. Siegmund Klein, famous perfect man, uses dumbells a great deal in his training. Frank Leight, New York City policeman, winner of many strength and physique honors, concentrates on the use of heavy dumbells in a large part of his training. John Grimek, Mr. America, uses dumbells more than any other training medium. The forward raise done alternately is one of his favorites, one and two hands swing, two hands cleaning with heavy dumbells, alternate press with dumbells ranging up to 125 lbs., side and bent press, clean and jerk, all forms of heavy lifting are included in the Grimek training schedule.

The cases where a man has reached a sticking point, and then through heavy dumbell training has again forged ahead in building his strength and physique, are legion.

The very light dumbells found in many gymnasiums have little value as strength and muscle builders. Any exercise is better than no exercise, but we obtain from exercise what we put into it, and with very light dumbells only slight gains are made. The old timers did not have the adjustable dumbells we have at present, so graded progress was more difficult. Most gymnasiums would have a pair of 50’s, perhaps a pair of 75’s, 100’s and a single dumbell weighing 150-200 lbs. or more. While a pair of 50’s are very easy in most exercises for men who train at the York Bar Bell gym, for instance, or any other advanced weight men, they are very heavy for others. There is such a variation in the strength of the various muscles of the body that only a full range of weights will accommodate complete training. I have mentioned that the back lift record is 4300, the harness lift record, lifting the weights with a harness about the shoulders is 3600, the hip lift, belt around the hips, weight suspended between the legs is 3200. Bob Hoffman has made the best bent press of any of the world’s modern lifters, 282, yet 100 lbs. in the one hand military press is very good. Few of the strongest men use more than 25 lbs. in the lateral raise, only the best can use 50 lbs. in the crucifix, the forward raise, or the lateral raise lying. Very powerful men such as Jake Hitchins, who specialize on the movement, can employ a pair of 100 lb. dumbells while lying on a box or bench. But the average man finds 25 lbs. sufficient in this movement. As before mentioned, John Grimek finds a pair of 125’s not too heavy in alternate pressing and alternate rowing. He also can perform the most unusual feat of two hands swinging with a pair of 110 lb. dumbells.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Power Rack Triceps Schedule - Charles A. Smith

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Power Rack Triceps Schedule

by Charles A. Smith (1953)

There was a play written some years ago by the late George Bernard Shaw, and although you lifters likely won’t be the least bit interested in it, I think you will be in its title . . . “Arms and the Man,” because regardless of the fact that they might be beginning lifters, physique champions, or just plain ordinary members of the public, everyone associates a large, muscular and powerful pair of arms with a manly, forceful character.

A pair of well-developed arms sets off a man’s physique; that is certainly true, and it is also a fact that people often judge you by your body and its shape. I have yet to meet a bodybuilder who hasn’t at one time or another spent twice as much time exercising his arms as any other part of his physique, and I have yet to hear of one who was satisfied with the results that followed.

The most common complaint among bodybuilders seems to be this . . . “My arms just won’t grow. I’ve curled and curled but they won’t grow.” Now it is easy for me to see why they fail on a program, but it isn’t always so easy for a beginning lifter. Experienced men have discovered their own easiest and fastest way to gain arm size and strength, and have found the main rules that ensure continued progress. But the newcomer often finds himself unable to make any gains, and is also unable to figure out why. Now, developing size and strength in the arms is not all that difficult, so why is it that some fail, and what is the best way to correct that failure.

The key to the problem lies in an understanding of arm muscle function and training methods. Every beginner trains to get bigger arms, but trains along the wrong lines, for he almost always devotes the major portion of the time spent in arm training in curling. One of the hardest tasks I know is trying to convince beginners that large arms are not obtained by curling but by exercising the triceps; that the bodybuilders with the largest, best-developed and most powerful arms are those with the biggest and strongest triceps.

Now it is true that the biceps muscle does add greatly to he shape of the upper arm and is responsible for some coordinated pulling strength, but it is the triceps that gives power and bulk. One muscle has only two sections, while the other has three, all of them contributing to the overall qualities.

Glance at the photo of any great physique model or strongman, especially one who is famous for arm massiveness. You will notice that the arm as a whole looks big. There’s nothing disproportionate about it. A great meaty curve to the triceps and a full, often high biceps formation that is even further set off by the muscle on the underside of the arm. It is obvious that a great deal of specialized bulk work has gone into building it up to such a model of strength and physical perfection.

Where do we go from here? One step further, to the training routines of these men. What magic have they used here? No magic, but simply finding out the functions of the muscle and applying certain straightforward principles. But there are other factors.

It is a fact that a great proportion of lifters are not nearly as flexible in the use of their exercises and routines as they could afford to be. Most of them use one or two movements for each basic muscle group and grind away month after month whether they make progress or not. The experienced, thinking man retains a favorite movement, and in addition uses an wide variety of exercises over the years, thus working the muscles with many different approaches. Take Reg Park, for instance. Reg’s favorite triceps exercise is the standing French, or triceps press movement. He also uses presses behind the neck with a barbell, bench triceps presses and some dumbell triceps work.

That is the pattern behind almost every successful lifter’s arm strengthening and building progress. Keep to a favorite exercise and select a changing variety of movements for the same muscle group. The favorite movement can always be retained, but the rest of the schedule is changed as soon as it fails to yield further results. Marvin Eder uses bench presses with varying width grips for his triceps power and bulk. This is the main exercise, but he’ll often go to the dipping bars and pump away at scores of sets of dips with a heavy weight tied around him. Then he’ll go on to other triceps movements. Workouts are kept enjoyable in this manner and enthusiasm and challenge are always maintained.

When any particular muscle group is given special attention, that constitutes specialized training and one has to take into consideration not only the exercises and apparatus used, but also such matters as diet and rest. Any specialization routine entails the use of a lot of energy, both physical and nervous. You’ve got to work hard and sometimes work on your nerve to jar those triceps muscles into greater power and growth, then let them rest until ready again.

The triceps straightens the forearm on the upper arm. You don’t even have to move the upper arm to get full triceps benefit. Hold you upper arm tight against the side of the body, and straighten the forearm out from the curl finish position. As you move the forearm, resist with your other hand; hold the left hand with the right and just straighten the arm from the biceps flexes position. You’ll feel how much work your triceps does.

So, you will soon be able to prove to yourself that the triceps are worked pretty fully in all arm extensions. They are in their most powerful position when the upper arms are level with the shoulders, for overhead presses, and start to exert their main force from here. From here to arms’ length, there is a powerful movement or contraction of the triceps muscle.

The advantage of using demanding poundages and utilizing the Multi Power (power) rack in a triceps routine should also be explained now. Muscle receives the greatest stimulus from heavy resistance. You might say, “What if the weight is so heavy that I can’t even move it from the starting position?” If you shorten the range over which the weight is moved you will find that you can handle that “immovable” weight. In other words, if you perform a half squat instead of a full squat, you can handle poundages far in excess of your full squat limit. The same applies to any exercise, and you can build the power of ligament, tendon, and muscle, but you’ll become mentally accustomed to handling heavy poundages. And this, in my opinion, is half the battle.

Here I’m going to give you five triceps exercises. First you should use your favorite triceps movement, no matter what it is. Use the exercise that has proven to give you the best results over time, and perform each repetition from complete extension to contraction. After you have completed three or four sets of this movement, start your rack triceps routine. Each exercise should be used as a “half movement” at first, with the resistance increased either by adding more weight, or by lowering the bar in the rack. A good plan is to increase the bar a single hole and continuing in this manner as long as possible. Then you can return to the half movement again and handle considerable more weight. The illustration of the exercises give you the approximate half positions but you will have to experiment a little and find the position which is most comfortable for you to start at.

Each exercise should be concentrated on intensely. The triceps muscles can stand a great deal of work and you need not fear you’ll overwork them. Use as heavy a weight as possible, beginning with 4 sets of 5 or 6 repetitions, working up to 4 sets of 10 or 12 repetitions before lowering the starting position, and eventually increasing the poundage.

Exercise 1.) Lock Out Presses, seated – Place an exercise bench inside the rack. Sit on the bench so the bar is in back of, and level with the top of the head, or at such a height that the upper arms are horizontal. Grip the bar with a fairly narrow grip. Press to arms’ length, lower slowly and repeat the movement. Note, as shown in the accompanying illustration, that the elbows are pointing forward and not to the sides so as to place the strain on the triceps.

Exercise 2.) Lock Out Presses, standing – the bar should be raised to such a height that it is in the press position just above the top of the head, or at such a height that the upper arms are horizontal. Grip the bar with a hand spacing just slightly less than shoulder width. Press to arms’ length, elbows facing front, lower steadily and repeat.

Exercise 3.) Triceps Press, standing, palms up – Take a look at the illustration and notice the position of the lifter. The forearms are level with the ground while the upper arms point straight up and the elbows face forward. The bar is gripped with a narrow hand spacing, palms of the hands facing up, and is raised to arms’ length and then lowered slowly.

Exercise 4.) Triceps Press, lying, palms down. Set the bar in the rack so that when you lie under it, your forearms are level or slightly above level with the floor and your upper arms pointing straight up. Again you use a narrow grip but this time the palms of the hands are turned down. This is a very tough triceps movement and you’ll have to fight to get the weight to arms’ length. Don’t forget to control the bar down to starting position and note the elbow position.

Exercise 5.) Supine Lockout Presses – You’ll be able to use hundreds of pounds in this movement, and you’ll certainly get strong, bulky triceps. Set the bar to the position indicated in the drawing. Get under the bar and grip it palms forward with a hand spacing just less than shoulder width, elbows properly positioned. Press the bar to arms’ length, then again use that controlled lowering to return to the starting position.

In all these movements you must use the greatest amount of weight possible, in combination with the sets and repetitions indicated. Concentrate fully on the action of the muscle, be determined that you are going to build strong, powerful triceps of great development. Don’t forget to obtain plenty of rest and good food, high in protein content, but above all, WORK HARD!

Schedules are peculiar things. They won’t work unless you do.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Your Legs: Keys To Bulk And Power - Barton Horvath

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Front Squat

Bench Squat & Straddle Lift

Your Legs: Keys to Bulk & Power
by Barton Horvath

If you are interested in getting the most returns for your lifting efforts, pay attention to this next sentence. The ability to develop maximum physical strength and development rests solidly in your legs. To neglect them, even slightly, is to hold back your progress.

John Davis, noted for his heavy squats, created some of his greatest records at a time when he was regularly squatting with around 600 lbs. Doug Hepburn hit his peak in the bench press, created a world mark in the standing press and smashed half a dozen other records after he had worked his squat up to 700 lbs. Paul Anderson hit his weightlifting stride after he was regularly reported to be squatting with weights between 750 and 800 lbs. In fact, Anderson could be almost be called a complete product of the squat. If the reports concerning his training are correct, the first several years of his training were dedicated almost exclusively to squats. Not only did he develop such sensational power from them that today there are many who believe he is the strongest man in the world, but he also built himself up to weighing in the neighborhood of 300 lbs.

In the past, many bodybuilders have found their progress slowing to a standstill, with results coming at a near negligible rate. Then, after concentrating on leg work, they snapped out of this temporary slump. Classic examples of this include John Grimek, Reg Park, Abe Goldberg and many others.

While not all lifters may desire the bulk of Anderson or Hepburn, the majority are interested at times in gaining weight, and they can learn a valuable lesson from the above. If concentrated leg work helped Anderson and Hepburn to gain 100 or more pounds of bodyweight, it is sensible to presume that similar concentrated work on the part of the average lifter will result in a gain of 10, 15, or 20 lbs.

The beauty of leg training is that you can go just as far as you want in it, and then. with a minimum of effort, retain all that you have gained. You can use leg work for almost any bodybuilding goal. To gain weight, the repetitions are to be low, from 5 to 8 a set, working up to 5 sets of each exercise. Selecting two of the listed leg exercises and concentrating on them for a month or so, making an effort to handle limit poundages, can result in a remarkable gain. For endurance perform sets of 15-20 repetitions, very strict and concentrated. To develop power try this – warm up with about ½ of your maximum weight and perform 3 or 4 easy repetitions. Take a short rest and add 15-20 lbs., doing 2 or 3 reps. Take another short rest, add some more weight and perform another 2 reps. You should now be warmed up. Take a slightly longer rest and then add more weight and perform a single repetition. The weight increments can be altered after determining how many total sets of singles you plan on performing. Continue doing this, adding weight until you fail to make a single repetition. Then, take a good ten-minute rest try that same weight once more. Whether you make it or not, drop down 30-50 lbs. and perform as many reps as you can with this lighter weight. Only attempt a workout of this nature when you feel full of pep. On less energetic days, stop short of your limit for one repetition and perform 5-10 sets of one single rep each.

And – leg work need never be boring. There are many variations of squats, some of which I shall list in this article. My suggested plan is to select two of them and work hard on these two for a month. Then, pick another two variations and work them for a month, and so on. Regardless of which variations you choose each month, work on them hard if you want real results.

Now, to take a look at a few of the various types of heavy leg exercises shown in the accompanying photos.

Regular Flat Footed Squat – note how deep Clarence Ross sinks and how he maintains an erect back. This depth of squat gives real stimulation and the flat back focuses more of the work on the hips and thighs.

Deep Knee Bend on Toes – It is harder to maintain the balance in the variation and less weight must be used.

Squat with Heels Raised – A shoe with built-up heel can be used, or the heels of the feet can be placed on a board. Some lifters believe that this style is the easiest. Only experience will tell if this holds true for you. Note the angle that the knees are turned out in the illustration.

Marvin Eder demonstrates the Close Stance Squat. This is tougher than the knees pointed out position and places great stress on the frontal thighs.

The Wide Stance Squat strongly affect the thigh biceps and can be used to add stability to your regular squatting.

Forced Rep and Lowering Only Squats – In this variation a very heavy weight is used and two training partners assist in the raising of the weight when the lifter reaches the sticking point. Squatting with heavy weights such as can be used with this version give you a better feel for lifting greater poundages and can build up exceptional power.

Overhead Squat – Tremendous muscular coordination, balance and support strength are developed with this version of the squat, though less weight must be used, especially when first learning the movement.

Front Squat – This type of squat, besides building up the legs and front thighs in particular, is especially valuable for Olympic lifters.

Bench Squat – In this exercise, the lifter sits down as shown and then arises to a standing position. Various heights of high or low benches or boxes can be used and tremendous weights can be handled once you become used to the movement.

Irvin Koszewski demonstrates a wide-stance bench squat, straddling it with both the toes and knees pointed well out. Different combinations of squat variations and stance alterations can add variety to your workouts, however, care must be taken to adjust to each version before adding weight.

The Straddle Lift is a real power and bulk builder. The only objection to it is that the grip of some lifters is too weak to be able to match the strength needed to work their legs. This can and should be corrected, or the use of straps can aid in holding the weight. The use of a harness which fits over your shoulders and can be attached to the barbell will also solve the problem and permit you to use maximum poundages.

The Hack Lift is performed by standing erect holding the weight behind the body as shown in the illustration. A simple to construct apparatus can also be used to hold the bar in this movement.

There are, of course, many other types of leg exercises possible. I haven’t included any of the iron boot movements, those with a leg curl/leg extension machine, one legged squats, jumping squats, step-ups, etc. These exercises are all valuable, but for the most part they are not on the same level as the listed bulk and power producers I have described.

That’s really about all there is to it. Now go to work.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cheating Shoulder Routine - Leo Robert

Sergio Oliva

Bob Bednarski

Peter Caputo

Cheating Shoulder Routine

by Leo Robert (1955)

A beginner can follow a routine for all round gains, but when it comes to a specialization program you must plan that program for yourself alone. Beginners can stick to rigid rules when they commence weight training, more seasoned lifters must take into account such factors as body structure, diet, temperament and personal living habits.

Those with a narrow shoulder width due to skeletal structure need not be disheartened. If you can’t believe this, consider the case of Doug Hepburn. Measured for shoulder structure, Doug was shown to possess shoulders of average width. But when measured for actual shoulder breadth, he has one of the widest pairs of shoulders in the current world. This shows that great shoulder size in not merely a matter of owning a large bone structure, but also one of muscle size. The more you work on your deltoid muscles the broader you will become.

What about diet? You’ve certainly heard the expression, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison,” and it is true that certain foods will agree with one lifter and cause disturbance in another. But these occurrences are fairly rare. Lifters, for the most part, either have or can develop healthy appetites, and can generally eat anything . . . and frequently do, which is where the trouble lies. Make sure you obtain a generous diet rich in all the foods necessary for good health. If you cannot currently take in enough food to grow on, a progressive system of adding more to each meal will eventually solve the problem.

And what of temperament? There are some lifters who insist on driving themselves whether they feel like taking a workout or not. But the wise, experienced man adjusts his workouts to the way he feels on that day. If he is tired or lacking in energy, he takes things a bit easier. If he feels nothing can stop him then he really opens up and goes all the way. This is really no outstanding or elusive “training secret” . . . nothing more than common sense applied.

And he maintains favorable temperamental factors by selecting a schedule of effective movements which he enjoys using, avoiding those that can cause injury to him, if not to others. In this way, training enthusiasm is kept high and the likelihood of physical or mental staleness is diminished.

Now, for the training. Notice the title of this article? If you did, then you’re probably wondering how cheating comes into play in increasing your shoulder size and strength. A little reflection on your part will show you that the shoulder muscles are subjected to a great deal of use during every daily activity. Therefore, at times they may need a system that allows the use of heavier poundages to jar them into new progress. In regular, strict training the minor muscle groups can often “give out” before the muscles you are targeting have received their fair share of work. By using a looser, cheating style you place these minor muscles in a more favorable leverage position, and enable the targeted muscles to work to their utmost. You can handle heavier poundages than you have become accustomed to and further stimulate muscle and strength increases.

I will give you eight movements from which you can select four to comprise your shoulder program, Please DON’T attempt to use all of them in one workout. Select four and work on these with every ounce of your power that day. Better still, use a different routine every week, regardless of how often you use this routine each week. The first week, begin with exercises 1 to 4. The second week start with exercise 2 and go on to 3, 4, and 5. The third week start with exercise 3 and go on to 4, 5, and 6 . . . and so on. Start off with a poundage you can handle for 3 sets of 5 repetitions, and work up to 3 sets of 9 reps before adding weight. Don’t be afraid of going below 5 repetitions on days when your energy is high. Handle as heavy a poundage as possible and really force out the last few repetitions.


Wide Grip Seated Press Behind Neck – Sit on an exercise bench, your hands touching the inside collars on the bar, which rests behind your head across the back of your shoulders. Press the weight up to arms’ length for the first rep, then lower it quickly and with a little rebound, press it back up to arms’ length again. Don’t pause between reps but get that little muscle rebound to force out each repetition. Don’t be afraid to cheat a little with a slight lean back, to get the bar to arms’ length.


Standing Cheat Lateral Raises – Stand erect with a dumbell held in each hand, arms slightly bent at the elbows. Bend the body forward and then swiftly return it to upright position, at the same time using this body motion to swing the dumbells up to shoulder level. Don’t go above shoulder level position and do all you can to lower the dumbells as slowly as possible. Remember to keep your arms bent to take the strain off the elbow ligaments, and experiment with holding the bells with palms facing forward to relieve any possible strain on the shoulder joints.


Seated Alternate Dumbell Presses – With a dumbell held in each hand, seat yourself on a bench. Press one dumbell to arm’s length and lower it, at the same time pressing the other dumbell up to arm’s length. Continue pressing the dumbells alternately. When you lower the dumbells down to the shoulder, do so quickly and bounce them up again by leaning slightly over to one side as you press the weight up. Don’t pause between reps. Don’t forget to use that bounce off the shoulders and lean over to the side as you press each dumbell.


Wide-Grip Bench Presses – Lie on a flat exercise bench, a barbell held at arms’ length above your chest, gripping the bar with a collar-to-collar hand spacing. Lower the bar down quickly and with a slight bounce off your chest, press it to arms’ length and repeat. Don’t pause between reps and don’t be afraid to BRIDGE to grind out those last two or three tough repetitions.


Cheating Bentover Row – Bend forward, a barbell held in the hands at full downward stretch of the arms, knuckles to the front. Your hands should be shoulder width or slightly wider apart. Drop the body down and return it to level position, combining body motion and pulling power to bring the barbell up to the waist. Lower the bar down SLOWLY to commencing position and repeat. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of body heave and all the weight you can handle.


Standing Press Jerks – Here’s an exercise partly responsible for Doug Hepburn’s pressing power. Take a barbell out of the squat racks across the shoulders, into the start of the regular two-arm press. Don’t use too wide a grip . . . just slightly more than shoulder width. Bend the legs at the knees and straighten them suddenly, thus jerking the weight part way up. The bar should be jerked enough to take it to just above the head, where it is pressed out to arms’ length. Now here is the important part of the exercise – keeping as erect as possible, lower the bar back to commencing position SLOWLY and repeat.


Cheating Bentover Laterals – With a dumbell held in each hand, bend the body over at the waist until it is level with the floor and the arms are hanging down at full stretch from the shoulders. Now bend the arms a little, drop the body down, then quickly snap it up to a little above horizontal position, combining body motion and arm movement to being the dumbells up and sideways to shoulder level position. Lower slowly and repeat. Don’t pause between reps and don’t be afraid to use plenty of body motion, remembering to lower the bells slowly.


Incline Bench Forward Raises – With a barbell held in the hands, knuckles up, lie on a steep, upright incline bench, the arms at full downward stretch. The bar will be resting on the hips or tops of the thighs, depending on your arm length. Raise the body from the hips up, off the bench and then as you lower it down again, combine body motion and arm movement to raise the bar up to shoulder level position. Don’t go above shoulder level position and don’t forget to keep your arms bent at the elbows. Lower the bar SLOWLY back to commencing position and repeat with no pause between repetitions.

And now I repeat to you . . . I don’t care how narrow-shouldered you are. Hard, consistent work on your deltoid muscles will broaden your shoulder width over time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Workout For A Working Man - Strength & Health 1956

Jim Bradford

Steve Reeves

Workout for a Working Man
from Strength & Health (1956)

Muscle magazines are constantly filled with yummy pics of gents with 19-inch biceps demonstrating how to get muscles one size larger than an elephant, and with exercise programs geared to achieve such results. This is fine, except that frequently we get letters from hardworking guys who complain that whenever they try to keep up with these two-hour workout schedules they get smaller and weaker instead of bigger and stronger. They just don’t have the necessary energy, or the time, to spare.

“What I would like to see in Strength & Health,” writes one reader, “is an exercise program for a working man. One I can go through in about 30 minutes and one that will leave me feeling strong enough to sit up for an hour or two and watch the fights on television. I don’t want to be Mr. America or win a lifting medal, I just want to look good and feel good and get just a little more strength to carry me through a hard day’s work and a day’s play.”

Okay, pal – you got it. Here’s a Workout for Working Men guaranteed to take less than 30 minutes, and what’s more, to leave you feeling energetic, and actually keep building up muscle and strength.

There are just SIX exercises in the program, and if you really hurry by shortening the rests to a bare minimum, you can do them in ten minutes as a conditioner too. We recommend, however, that you do it the “easy” way most days. Do an exercise, then rest until breathing returns to normal, then do the next movement. Certainly you can do all the exercises within 30 minutes. Do this three times a week and you will be doing enough to gain in size and strength.

The first exercise is the Continuous Clean & Press. You clean the weight, press it to arms’ length, lower it to the shoulders, then to the floor again. Immediately clean the bar again and press it overhead. You should try to get at least 8 clean & presses. When you can do 12 with a weight, increase the poundage next workout.

Second exercise is the Deep Knee Bend or Squat. Breathe in deep on this one – consciously. Squat on full lungs, and blow out all the air through your mouth as you rise to the full erect position. Take in another big breath and squat again. After 10 reps you should be puffing, and at this point it is wise to pause at the top and take two or three deep breaths before each squat. Do no less than 15 reps and increase the poundage when you can do 20-25 reps with a weight. After doing the squats, it’s a good idea to lie down on a bench and do a set of 15-20 light straight-arm breathing pullovers. This will not only return your breathing and heart action to normal faster than plain resting, but it will serve to stretch out your rib cage. This is not counted as an exercise in the program, just think of it as part of your squats.

Exercise three is the high-pull to chin, a very good arm, shoulder and trapezius movement, and one that builds lifting power. Stand erect, heels together, pull the barbell from a position in front of the thighs slowly and steadily until it touches the chin. Lower and repeat. Do at least 8 reps, and when you can do 12, add weight to the bar.

Exercise four is the standard bentover barbell row. Bend to right-angle position and pull the bar up to touch just below the chest. Do 8 reps, and when you can do 12, add weight to the bar.

Exercises five and six are dumbell exercises designed to give strength and size to the arms and shoulders. Do the alternate (see-saw) dumbell press first – repeat for 8-12 reps – then do a set of seated dumbell curls until you’re blue in the face, you’ll know when to stop and hit the showers.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Casety Viator's Training - Achilles Kallos

Casey Viator’s Training

by Achilles Kallos (1971)

Nineteen year old Casey Viator from New Iberia, La. is the youngest bodybuilder to have won the Mr. America title. He started training when he was fifteen, which, in my opinion, is the right time to start bodybuilding.

Casey has been fortunate in many ways, having a good physical background, sound training advice and a superb genetic potential. At the same time, however, he is an exceptionally hard trainer, in spite of the fact that he works long hours at his job as a welder.

Two former Mr. Americas have guided him: Boyer Coe and Red Lerille. For the past year Casey has been training under the watchful eye of Art Jones of Deland, Florida. As you may know, Art Jones invented the Nautilus machine. This machine enables you to train your body harder in less time with outstanding results.

According to Jones, Casey is one of the strongest men he has ever trained and no one yet has been able to exceed the poundages he uses on the Nautilus machine. Although Casey has not really bothered to exert himself with maximum poundages as he prefers to train for bodybuilding, he has done the following: Bench Press 460 lbs.; Full Squat 505 x 14 reps; Press Behind Neck 280 lbs; and Barbell Curl 225 x 4 reps.

Casey trains three times a week, working the whole body in one workout lasting about 2 to 2½ hours. He employs the Nautilus machine mainly for the arms and lats and conventional barbell and dumbell movements for the rest of the body. When he trains on the conventional exercises he does some of them one after the other without much rest. That is why he is able to train his whole body thoroughly and in such a short time.

Here is Casey’s three day a week routine:

Legs (conventional method)

1.) Leg Press 750 lbs. x 20 reps.

2.) Leg Extension – 250 lbs. x 14 to 20 reps.

3.) Full Squat – 505 x 14-20.

4.) Leg Curl – 150 x 14-20.

These exercises are done one after the other without the usual rest associated with such large poundages. I would like to see anyone else duplicate this.

Lats (Nautilus machine)

1.) Pullover – 3 sets of 20 reps.

2.) Circular Pulldown – 3 sets of 20.

3.) Chins – 3 x 20.

Each exercise is done in the normal set fashion.

Deltoids (conventional and Nautilus)

1.) Standing Laterals – 60 lbs. x 3 sets of 20 reps.

2.) Barbell Press Behind Neck – 215 lbs. x 3 sets of 20 reps.

3.) Nautilus Lateral Raise – 3 x 20.

You will note that two movements are done with barbell and dumbells and one on the Nautilus.

4.) Barbell Shrug – 280 lbs. 3 x 20.

Chest (conventional)

1.) Barbell Bench Press – 350 lbs. 2 x 20.

2.) Incline Barbell Press – 225 lbs. 3 x 20.

3.) Dips – 100 lbs. 3 x 20.

4.) Cable Crossover – 40 lbs. 3 x 20.

Arms (Nautilus)

1.) Conventional Barbell Curl – 200 lbs. 1 x 20.

2.) Combination Triceps and Biceps exercise – 120 lbs. 1 x 20.

3.) Triceps Extension (similar to pulley pushdown) – 110 lbs. 1 x 20.

4.) Compound Triceps movement – 1 x 20.

Calves (conventional)

1.) One Legged Calf Raise – 85 lb. dumbell 4 x 50.

Forearms (conventional)

1.) Barbell Wrist Curl – 145 lbs. 2 x 20.


400 lbs. 1 set of 30 reps.

Many of us think we are training hard, but after looking at Casey’s routine we might have to review our definition of hard work! You will note he employs high reps. Obviously this involves a lot of concentration as well.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rib Cage Development - George Coates

Casey Viator

Rader Chest Pull

Cross-Bench Pullover

Rib Cage Development
by George Coates

To fully realize the biggest chest measurements possible you must pay special attention to the rib cage. One of the things I most regret is the fact that when I started to work out I didn’t pay enough attention to enlarging my rib cage. I hope I can help a lot of beginners in this respect. Please do specific rib cage work, especially in the first year of your training. The average beginning lifter sees a picture of a well-known bodybuilder with a huge chest and immediately embarks on a program which includes lots of lat and pec exercises. Believe me, this is one of the silliest things you can do, because a truly big chest starts from within. The most pleasing aspect of stretching the rib cage is that it’s a pretty easy thing to do, relative to most other lifting and especially if one is still quite young. My own chest was 32” when I started to work out. It is now around 47” and I believe it would have been around 50” had I worked hard on my rib box during the first year or so of working out. Rib cage work and leg work go hand in hand. The reason for this being that the breathless condition induced by doing special squats called breathing squats help the stretching exercises used for enlarging the rib cage do their work a lot better.

If you have enough will power you won’t do any pec work when you try this program. I suggest you complete the workout program to suit your own needs, but assure you once again you’ll do better by not doing any pec work while you are on this program. You will also find this will be a complete thigh workout and to complete your leg training you’ll only have to work calves.

I would suggest you start with your shoulder exercises then go into the rib cage stretching routine outlined here. You can then proceed to other work as you so desire. The four exercises in your rib cage routine are as follows:

1.) Squats – Ordinary squats with one difference. You are going to take four deep breaths between each rep. Even if you normally squat, in this instance I recommend a raised heel, either with proper footwear or a board under the feet. You will find that you are using less than your normal squatting poundage when including the breathing but don’t worry about it. In fact it means you are doing the exercise correctly. Breathe deeply four times, hold the last breath, and squat; breathe out forcefully as you come up. Do 12 reps and remember the breathing is as important as the squatting. Hold your chest high throughout the exercise, keep your stomach pulled in and concentrate on breathing high in the chest. It may feel awkward at first but you’ll soon get used to it. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

2.) Cross-Bench Dumbell Pullover – Perform one set of 15 reps immediately following each set of squats. If you did the squats right you will be puffing like a steam engine. Don’t stop for a rest but go straight into a set of pullovers. Lie across a flat bench as shown, forcing the hips and buttocks down. This is important. Arch the chest over the bench with the head and shoulders clear of the bench. Keeping the elbows slightly bent, slightly out of lock to prevent shoulder injuries, let the weight back as far as you can, at the same time take the deepest breath you can. Remember this is NOT a musclebuilding exercise, but one designed to enlarge your rib cage, so all you’ll need in weight is about 15 to 25 lbs. If you use more weight you won’t be performing the movement correctly. Reg Park used about 25 lbs. when performing this exercise for this purpose. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone with his strength, which he had plenty of, but was trying to build a large rib cage, which he did.

3.) Breathing Squat – One set only. That’s right, one set. When you get through get through doing this one set you’ll probably feel like going home right then and there. Load the bar up to bodyweight, or, if you weight over 200 lbs. use about 190. Now all you have to do is 15 to 20 reps. During the first five reps take 5 deep breaths between each rep. I mean deep, as much air as you can possibly force into your lungs through the mouth. Hold your stomach in as tight as possible, throw out your chest and keep the breathing as high in the chest as you can, like you did in your other squats. Without stopping, do another five reps, but now increase the number of breaths to 7 between each rep. The deep, concentrated breathing should make your legs feel weak at this point and if your chest doesn’t feel about to burst you’re not breathing deep enough. Go straight into your next five reps again without stopping, but this time take 10 deep full high breaths between each rep. That completes 15 reps, which is enough, but if you still have something left try to do another few reps, complete with the deep breaths.

4.) Rader Chest Pull – In my opinion this is the most effective exercise for stretching the rib cage. Study the photo carefully. Perform this movement as soon as you are finished the breathing squats. Grasp the post as shown, about eye level. Now take a deep breath and pull down and toward you with both arms. Raise the chest as high as possible and if done properly you will feel a strong pull at the sternum or breast bone. The object is not to overarch the back but to lift and stretch the rib cage. Direct your attention to this aim and override the urge to simply arch the back. 10 to 15 reps will pull your rib cage like you’ve never experienced before. If it doesn’t, then assess and correct your performance until it does.

If you are willing to work hard on these exercises as prescribed for about three months straight (yes, I know it’s a long time) I will almost guarantee an increase of 3 to 5 inches depending on your age and how much pec development you have right now. The less pec you have, the more cage size you’ll gain. Incidentally, the Rader Chest Pull can be practiced anytime there is a proper setting available. So there you go, get chesty. It’s easy if you do it right.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Four Month Bulking Schedule - Bradley J. Steiner

Doug Hepburn

Marvin Eder

Chuck Collras

A Bulking Schedule

by Bradley J. Steiner (1971)

It seems that two problems, or questions, are uppermost in the minds of many young trainees. The first is, “How can I gain weight?” The second question, the ever-present “big arms question,” is by far the most common, and when you come right down to it, both questions are directly connected to each other. You can’t follow a well-planned bulking schedule without adding to your arm size. You might think that all a gaining program will do is fatten you up, but I’ll tell you quite honestly that the average lifter will make umpteen times the gains – ON HIS ARMS – from following a good all-round gaining routine than he will from following all of the super-blitzing arm specialization schedules yet devised. The reason is simple.

The arms do not possess very heavy or powerful muscle groups. They tend (especially with harder gainers and most small framed individuals) to break down more than they build up if the trainee tries to blitz and blast his limbs into super-rapid gains. On the other hand, when a gaining routine (emphasized leg and back work) is employed, then the indirect action that the arms receive from the extremely heavy holding, lifting, pulling, pressing, etc., serve to coax them into making the best gains possible along with the added muscular bodyweight. Only very slight localized (isolation) exercise is then needed for the arms – when a good bulking program is followed. In fact, very moderate amounts of arm work, when included in a properly designed bulk-up routine, should be more than enough to bring about excellent gains. So, if you’ve been hammering your head against your flat bench because your arms won’t budge no matter how hard you train them, or if you’re among the majority or lifters who desire a pleasingly well-developed, bulkier physique instead of your present sparrow dimensions, I think that it will pay you well to devote very careful attention to the following training routine, and the advice contained in this article. There’s a very, very good chance it’s the solution to your problem and an answer to those two questions above.

The key exercise in the bulking routine that we shall outline here is, of course, the squat. But you’re going to be using it in a variety of ways for the duration of a four-month training period. the aim of this routine will be to build lots of good, solid bodyweight – and to do it fast. Follow the course exactly as you find it enumerated here, and you’ll be a different person four months from now. You’ll be heavier, stronger, and very well prepared to go on and build closer to your limits in development. But before you plunge into your training, let me suggest the following:

First, take a nice, clear week off from any training you may have been doing. I assure you that if you start this program (which is quite severe) when you’re rested and fresh, you’ll make infinitely greater progress in the long run.

Second, cut out ALL other physically demanding sports and pastimes for the four months. You will only slow your progress by detracting from the energy that might be better spent on your workouts.

Third, drink two quarts of whole milk every single day while you’re on this gaining routine. This, in itself, will do more to insure adequate protein intake than all of the supplements you could use, and cost a lot less, too!

Fourth, sleep eight hours or more each and every night.

Fifth, eat lots (and I mean lots) of meats, eggs, fish, poultry, peanut butter, whole wheat spaghetti, and fruits and vegetables.

Remember these points, because to the extent that you adhere to them, they will add materially to the progress that you make in your training.

Remember this also: You must constantly strive to lift the MAXIMUM POUNDAGE you are capable of, without cheating. I get lots of mail from guys who say that they just can’t use the limit poundages that I advocate. Apparently these gentlemen misunderstand what I’m talking about when I speak of “limit poundages.” I mean the maximum weight for you as an individual, in accordance with your PRESENT level of development – weights that you can use in correct lifting style, for the required number of reps and sets. I am not speaking of arbitrarily drawn up poundage schedules that I am insisting you force your body to adjust to. This is absurd. I try to be reasonable, and I don’t suggest that you must exercise with poundages approaching Reg Park’s or Doug Hepburn’s, unless, of course, you happen to become as strong as they have. Simply strive to work to YOUR limit. Of course you must always, always, always, ALWAYS try to keep pushing that particular limit up a wee bit more as the weeks pass . . . for this is the secret of continued gains in strength and development.

Without some scheme trying to work with heavier and heavier weights you’ll only reach a standstill in the progress you make. And now for your four-month program.

I want you to keep a record of the work you do during this schedule. Record your routines, exercises, sets, reps, poundages, etc. in a notebook and also keep a small notation of how you feel at the completion of each workout. If you find that, for example, you train for three consecutive sessions and are constantly lethargic, then you’ll have provided yourself with a reminder to really wake up and work starting with your next workout. Should you see, on the other hand, that you’re quite satisfied with your progress – GREAT! Seeing just those very words right there in front of you on the paper will serve to inspire you to even greater efforts (and hence better gains) in future training sessions.

You might think that small items, such as this type of record keeping, are nothing more than trifles, but keep this very important point in mind – nothing that may help you to achieve any of your goals can be considered “unnecessary.” I’ve always found that keeping a training record helps immeasurably, and I’ve spoken to several other men in the weight game who agree 100 percent.

Hoping that you’ve assimilated the advice I’ve given here – and hoping that you will always keep it in mind as you train – here is your first month’s schedule:

1.) Warm up with Prone Hyperextensions – 2 sets of 15-20 reps.

2.) Breathing Squat – 1 set of 20.

3.) Light Dumbell Breathing Pullovers – 1 x 15.

4.) Stiff Legged Deadlift – 2 x 15.

5.) Bentover Barbell Row – 4 x 10.

6.) Straddle Lift – 2 x 10.

7.) Standing Barbell Press – 2 x 8-10.

Follow this schedule on three non-consecutive days each week for one month. That’s a total of only 12 workouts – yet, if you work hard enough, eat well and get enough rest – then it will be just enough to start triggering gains all over your body, and coaxing your metabolism into adding some bulk to your frame. And it will prepare you for your second month’s routine:

1.) Warm up with rapid flip snatches – 2 sets of 6 reps.

2.) Alternate Dumbell Press – 2 x 10.

3.) Close Grip Barbell Curl – 1 x 10-12.

4.) Breathing Squat – 2 x 15.

5.) Light Pullovers after each squat set – 2 x 15-20.

6.) Bench Press – 2 x 10.

7.) Stiff-legged Deadlift – 2 x 15.

8.) Bentover Barbell Row – 3 x 12-15.

Follow this schedule for another month. Three days a week on alternate days. After two months you ought to be in really high gear, so here’s a routine that you should use for your third month of training, that will jolt your growing muscles into a slightly new groove and keep it growing.

1.) Warm up with Leg Raises – 1 x 15-25.

2.) Standing Press Behind Neck – 4 x 8.

3.) Squat (in breathing style – 3 deep breaths between each rep with absolute limit poundages) – 5 x 8-10.

4.) Flat Flyes between sets of squats – 5 x 10.

5.) Bench Press – 4 x 6.

6.) Power Cleans – 5 x 5.

7.) Good Mornings – 4 x 8-10.

After this third month you should be noticing a change in your body, if indeed you haven’t sooner. For the fourth month (three alternate days a week) let’s wind this gaining cycle up with another variation:

1.) Warm up with rapid Flip Snatches – 2 x 6.

2.) Seated Press Behind Neck – 4 x 5-8.

3.) Squat (breathing style, three breaths between each rep) – 1 x 20, this time with every ounce of weight you can handle for the one set.

4.) Pullovers after squats – 1 x 25.

5.) Stiff-legged Deadlift – 3 x 15.

6.) Bentover Barbell Row – 5 x 10-12.

7.) Barbell Curls – 2 x 8-10.

There’s four months of workouts to help you push forward to bigger gains in strength and development. You could make a big change in yourself if you start this program and stick with the hard work through it all. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

Cleans - Charles Coster

Norbert Schemansky

Dave Sheppard

Phil Grippaldi


by Charles Coster

The most specialized training must be given the Clean & Jerk because it is the heaviest, the most complicated and most difficult lift of all. It is comprised of two distinct parts and takes last, when the lifter’s strength and energy have nearly passed their peak. Therefore, all the little details of style, speed and timing become very important when the Clean & Jerk is attempted. It is these oft-forgotten details of training that I shall try to help you with in this short article, for if you slip-up on just one of them when handling a heavy weight, the result is failure.

There are four factors that must be noted and corrected in the performance of the Clean & Jerk, and all four are concerned with the initial phase of the lift – the Clean. They are:

1.) Inability of the legs to go into the split or squat with the sufficient speed because of the lack of style-and-position training.

2.) Hips and knees that haven’t a free range of movement so that when you try to go into a low split or squat with a very heavy weight your torso doesn’t lower fast enough. This can cause the “lock-in” action of arms and elbows to be too low as the bar reaches the shoulders. Consequently it bounces off and falls to the floor because the faulty action of legs and hips makes a fast arm-action impossible.

3.) When a heavy weight is being cleaned the bar must land either in front of or behind the sternum bone. But in either case – to successfully hold a heavy weight at the chest – your elbows must flash underneath the bar (and to the front) so that the weight becomes tightly locked to your shoulders as you make leg-recovery movement, and prepare for the overhead jerk.

4.) Complete coordination of your knees, thighs, hips, torso, arms and shoulder muscles can be brought about only as a result of patient training, and when you’ve finished all normal routine training cleans, the “hang” style technique which I shall describe will put the finishing touch to all the work you’ve previously done.

Now here’s some suggestions on how you go about ironing out such difficulties:

After making your heaviest regular cleans, lessen the weight by about 30 pounds. Then lift it up until you are in the upright position. Now lower the bar to knee height and try cleaning it from there. Make two reps if you can without placing the weight on the floor.

When you do this you’ll find that you have to concentrate on the arm-pull and the elbow-whip, and that your full cleans will become faster, more coordinated, and the bar will “settle in” more better at the shoulders.

Now lessen the weight on the bar by another 20-30 pounds for another variation of hang-style cleaning. This time you lower the bar to just about 8 or 9 inches above your knees and make your hang cleans from there. Now you haven’t got so much pull velocity this time, and that means that your knee, hip, shoulder and elbow action must be more perfect as your try to make 3 or 4 reps high hang cleans.

Another thing you will notice in the performance of this variation of the hang clean is the great amount of mental concentration that you must use as you make each repetition neatly and successfully.

When you lifted the old way, the bar may have banged against your chest several inches below the sternum, not it almost touches your throat as you give every rep all the speed, timing and energy you have. And it’s so easy to swivel your elbows underneath – and forward – for a guaranteed, sure-fire clean.

The ultimate in “hang” training methods is the Dead Hang style of cleaning. This means that you lessen the weight on the bar to a poundage you can start reasonable comfort. Then you lift the bar from the platform until you are standing completely upright with the bar hanging lightly against your upper thighs.

Because your body is already upright, all pulling action must come from your arms, plus a lightning-like leg split or squat as you try by every means in your power to rip the weight upward and get it firmly locked against the upper chest.

Don’t give in to the temptation to “dip” when you make rep cleans this way. The term “dead hang” means just that . . . Dead Hang. You train yourself to pull-up from an absolute dead hang start, and with no cheating.

Now there’s nothing very new about this kind of training. It’s something borrowed from the Egyptians long ago. Their training methods are quite remarkable. They merely concentrated on terrific speed plus the mastery of these small but important details just discussed . . . details that other lifting nations neglected.

American and Russian lifters know that the power-pull is tremendously important – they lead the world in this aspect of the lift. But the Egyptians realized that no matter how powerful the upward pull, the whole effort would be useless unless the lifter could guarantee to hold the weight securely at the shoulders when in the deep position.

Very few Egyptian lifters ever lost control of a clean after the bar had arrived at the shoulders because the lifter’s arms would flash under the bar and fix it there so quickly and strongly.

They used the same techniques just described here to accomplish this. To them the great danger point was in the changing over from a pull-up movement to a supporting position when the lifter’s legs squatted or spread fore-and-aft. They have an amusing but quite logical philosophy which helped them in overcoming this difficulty in the lift.

Since most lifters make the common error of going all-out at every workout, the Egyptians created another plan. They reasoned: the clean and jerk is the heaviest lift, and our climate is one of the hottest in the world so let’s work on the clean first, while we are strongest and most energetic.

The snatch will feel lighter than usual after handling much heavier weights and this is another advantage. By the time we have finished doing all the clean exercises, the muscles of the arms and shoulders will have already had a considerable amount of exercise and this will be sufficient to stop the pressing muscles from deteriorating until we get ready to work on that lift.

With this thought in mind Egyptian lifters would warm up with light cleans, go on to something heavier and heavier, until they were getting near their limit. After making one or two heavy cleans, however, their training schedule for the clean is not finished by any means.

They stop to examine any special little fault details that may have occurred, and they immediately start to cure them by lowering the weight on the bar by 15-20 pounds at a time. Never finish your training routine with a heavy weight! This is a maxim they follow faithfully.

Heavy cleans often force the lifter into a faulty position, and faulty technical positions must be made perfect by using lighter poundages in the various hang positions.

A heavy clean may force you into a lop-sided position. It may cause you to lean backward. It may force you to lean forward. It may cause the bar to hit the chest too low. Your elbows may not whip up underneath the bar with sufficient speed and accuracy.

Any one or all of these faults will cause failure when you’re handling more weight than you’ve ever tried before. The important thing to do is to arrange your training sessions – along the lines suggested here – so that you cure these weaknesses well in advance of them becoming habitual. Hang cleans are on of the best fault-curing methods ever devised.

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