Thursday, December 31, 2009
The Two Hands Continental
by Peary Rader (1951)
In recent years most of the lifting has been done in what is termed the “Clean” style. That is, in one continuous movement from the floor to the shoulders. For men of a certain type of build this is quite OK. They are able to pull more to the shoulders in the clean movement than they can jerk from the shoulders to arms’ length overhead. Another group, however, can jerk far more to arms’ length than they can clean to the shoulders. At least one light-heavyweight can jerk well over 400 from the shoulders. It is reported that Moktar Hussein, former Egyptian light-heavyweight champion, jerked 410 lbs. from the shoulder. His best clean & jerk was 352. Our present lifting sensation Doug Hepburn can jerk far more than he can clean. Davis has repeatedly jerked 400 with ease and with practice could no doubt jerk as much as 440; however, his best clean & jerk is about 396.
We might also mention that a man can usually jerk more if less energy is expended on getting the weight to the shoulders. The measure of a man’s strength in the early days of the lifting game was the poundage he could elevate above his head in any manner. This took many forms, but the most popular method was the Continental to the shoulders and then the jerk from there. Bringing the weight to the shoulders in this manner received its name because it was the most popular method on the continent of Europe. Some of the countries over there used this style for some time after others adopted the clean method as being the more athletic style. They argued that since a man could lift more by this method that it was more truly a “strong man’s style.” There was much truth in this argument but the clean enthusiasts gradually won their point and this style was adopted for international competition.
The continental style to shoulders is still used extensively and is not only the best way to get the maximum amount of weight to the shoulders, but it is also one of the finest back, arm, shoulder and leg exercises. It trains the muscles to handle heavy poundages. In spite of what some coaches who have not tried it may tell you, it is a valuable training exercise for quick lifters, as it develops great pulling power for the clean and snatch. Your regular lifting poundages for the regular lifts will feel lighter after training on the continental for a time. Body builders will find that it gives them rugged development as none of their other exercises can.
Even though you do not care for the overhead part of the lift, the Continental to the shoulders can still be considered as a lift in itself. Professionals and amateurs alike on the West Coast often compete on this Continental to shoulders. The American Professional Weight Lifting Championships were lifted on the Continental & Jerk last year an some of the boys went on to test their abilities on the Continental to shoulders. Many of them have done well over the 400 lb. mark.
No accurate record of this lift has been kept but Walt Marcyan can pull 400 or more to the shoulders most any time. Leo Stern and Harold Zinkin hoist around 400. We have no idea what John Davis could do in this lift and doubt if he has ever really tried himself out on it. His top now with a good belt should be around 460, we would judge. This, of course, should represent either his limit or that of other lifters because none of them have trained or competed seriously on it. We would say that 500 lbs. should not be beyond possibility. All the men mentioned have used the two movement method of pulling the weight to the belt then tossing it to the shoulders. A more lenient method was much used by European strong men in which several movements were made starting about halfway up the thighs, then to the bend of the thighs, then to the belt, then to the lower chest and then on to the shoulders. The bar sometimes rolled or dragged over the last lap of the lift. This would enable any lifter to bring a still greater poundage to the shoulders. This is real work, though, and some times you may lose a little skin if you are lifting bare.
This brings up another point. It is always suggested that the lifter wear at least a T-shirt and better still a sweatshirt. This makes the lift more pleasant if you are going to do an rolling or sliding of the bar.
Pete George, weighing about 160, can easily bring 400 to the shoulders in two movements and we believe that he might possibly do 450 with practice at it. He is shown lifting the former poundage for the camera in the accompanying photo. Tony Terlazzo is also shown lifting in the Professional Championships last year. You will note that he has stuffed a towel behind his belt to keep it from pinching the skin on his abdomen. This is a good precaution but we fell that a towel is a bit too bulky. However, Tony could have cleaned the 300 shown if he had wished to, so did not need much concentration on the Continental but just used it to save his strength.
You will notice that all these fellows use a heavy belt with a large buckle on which they catch and rest the bar. This belt should be very strong and of heavy leather if you wish to lift maximum poundages. This lift used to be a favorite of mine, probably because I lifted around 350 the first time I tried it and since I could do so well at it naturally I liked it. It gives one quite a thrill to hoist around 400 lbs. to the shoulders in any manner. I made a lifting belt from an old threshing machine belt which I bolted together in front. This made a strong, stiff belt with which to lift although it was slow to put on and take off. If you will look at the photo of Walt Marcyan pulling in 400 lbs. to the shoulders you will see the type of belt he has constructed for this lift and which most of the fellows out there use. This belt is simply a heavy lifting belt turned around so the wide part is in front and then instead of a buckle to catch the weight on he inserts into prepared pockets in the leather a U-shaped rod with the closed end bent out to from a ledge on which the bar is caught. The wide part of the belt acts as a shield for the bar to strike on and prevents the skin of the abdomen from being pinched between the bar and the belt or buckle as was the case with a regular belt.
Now we shall give you a few details of performance to enable you to lift the greatest poundage.
The drawing above illustrates the various movements or stops that can be made in the Continental to shoulders. And by the way, it is incorrect to call this a Continental clean – it is not a clean but a continental to shoulders or bringing a bar to shoulders by the continental method.
Most of you may find it wise to learn to use the hook grip – that is, wrap the fingers around the thumb as far as you can. This binds the thumb to the bar and makes an unbreakable grip. Take a strong lifting position as if you were going to do a heavy dead lift – with hips down, head up, feet a comfortable distance apart and hands in about the same position you would use for a clean.
Make your pull as you would for a clean. If you are using maximum poundages or if you are rather slow of movement the bar may come to rest in a dead lift position. The you can bend the legs slightly and rest the bar on them and then pull it to the bend of the legs, then with a heave of the legs toss it up and catch it at the belt. After you heave the weight do a slight squat under it to catch it on the belt. Then with another heave and a squat, catch it at the shoulders. Possibly it will go only to the lower chest where you can catch it by arching the chest and abdomen forward. Then another slight heave will enable you to catch it at the shoulders. This is the multiple heave method and was used much by fat European lifters because their protruding abdomen would not allow the bar to pass in one movement.
Present day lifters usually use a faster method that is equally as active a style as the clean. This is the method we prefer and the one we recommend.
In this method you make an all out pull the first time, pulling the bar as high as you possibly can – which won’t be very high with a heavy weight – and then like a flash drop under the bar and arch forward slightly, much as you would in a correct clean, so as to catch the weight on the belt and behind the buckle. Most men of the present day split under the weight. You will not need to go into a full split nor is this recommended as you would never be able to get back up with the high poundages you will be lifting. Getting the weight to the belt is usually the easy part of the lift although at times a man may have to heave it from the bend of legs to belt. As soon as you come erect, place the feet firmly in line is a strong position and give another mighty heave and a terrific pull with the arms. This arm pull is important as it helps a lot. This will throw the weight up. Always heave the weight so that it will go straight up or slightly back if possible as it will be impossible to catch and hold it if you throw it forwards. Arch the back and throw the chest forward and catch the weight at the shoulders. Concentrate on a firm locked position at the shoulders because it will be impossible to hold a heavy weight if it hangs on the arms. In making a split for this catch at the shoulders you may find it wise to step slightly forward under the weight. Make such moves carefully calculated ones however, as you are handling heavy weights and a wrong and unwise move can result in a strained muscle. You will find that you can give a really explosive drive to the weight from a good belt so that the weight literally shoots up to the shoulders. Flashing speed is just as important in this style as it is in the clean if not more so. This heavy weight starts back down very quickly if you don’t get under it at once or quicker. Every move must be very determined and decisive. We say this because some men will develop a complex of fear, perhaps unconsciously, because of the unaccustomed heavy poundage they are bringing to the shoulders.
After you get the weight to the shoulders and return to the erect position you are ready for the jerk. Or if you are just working on the continental to shoulders hold it at the shoulders for a time and jump it up and down. This will develop drive and sustaining power in the entire body.
Lowering the weight should be given some thought. This can be done by first lowering it to the belt by a direct drop or by sliding it down the chest and abdomen if you have a sweat shirt on. Never drop it all the way to the floor as it is too much weight to handle in this manner and may result in a pulled muscle. After it reaches the belt then jump it off the belt to the bend of thighs then lower to floor.
You will find that a few repetitions of this will give you a real workout. You should not use over 6 repetitions per set of this for either bodybuilding or lifting power. Two or three sets will be plenty for most of you. Take it easy to start with. Learn the positions well first and accustom yourself to the lift before hitting the heavy poundages. While most fellows of today use the split you will also find the squat, sort of a half squat while leaning back, will be a very strong position.
Like most lifts, the best training you can do for this lift is practice of the lift itself, if you have already built a strong powerful physique, of course. Valuable exercises for preparing the body for this lift are the squat and the dead hand dead lift.
Increase Your Bench Pressing Power
by Anthony Ditillo (1968)
A friend of mine, not long ago, was stuck for two months at 218 lbs. bodyweight and a 205 lb. bench press. Try as he might, he just couldn’t seem to make any headway with his limit attempt. His training partner, who weighed 30 lbs. less than he, outbenched him by 49 lbs. So, as a last resort, Tom came to me for help. I managed to put together a program which increased his prone by 65 lbs. in five months. It also enabled him to gain 30 lbs. and most of this was pure muscle.
I had Tom start each workout with the behind the neck press. At first this may seem incorrect, for it would appear as a waste of energy to perform this exercise first when the program was to be for bench pressing specialization, but I found through my own experience that after any type of overhead pressing my own prones would go up much smoother and easier. This was probably because of a more complete warmup of the involved pressing muscles. So, Tom started the behind neck presses with 115 lbs. and continued in 20 lb. jumps until he hit 175, which, at the beginning, using a cheating style, was his one rep limit. He then went into his bench presses and started with 155 and proceeded 3 reps per set using 10 lb. jumps, ending with 3 singles with 205.
The bentover row came next. In this exercise Tom used two types of performance. First, starting with 135 for 3 strict reps, increasing the poundage until his final set of 3 reps with 175 was reached. Then he went on in 10 lb. jumps from 185 to 225 using a looser, cheating style. I felt that inadvertently, a strong upper and lower back would be very valuable when executing a limit prone. Tom would then go back to the power rack and perform 2 sets of 10 reps in the press behind neck, for a finishing pump. This he also did with the prones and rows.
The only change in diet was the inclusion of one extra quart of milk in the morning and another before bed, bringing his daily total to five quarts.
The results which followed are truly amazing. Approximately five months Tommy pressed 205 off the back of his neck and proned and rowed with 270 in a pretty strict style. I am sure this routine, when followed diligently and combined with an abundant diet, can bring great improvement in one’s pressing power.
Combine Weightlifting & Bodybuilding
by Achilles Kallos (1968)
Peary Rader: Lifting movements improve the physique in a manner that bodybuilding exercises never seem to. Observe the great improvement of the physique of Dennis Tinerino, Mr. America. Unquestionably his recent efforts on the Olympic lifts were a major contribution to his progress. Others have had like experiences. All bodybuilders ought to incorporate both the Olympic lifts and the powerlifts.
With the advent of specializing, bodybuilders seem to lack that something in their physical makeup which many of the older physique title holders always had. I believe this is because champions like Roy Hilligenn, John Grimek and many others spent a lot of time in their training doing weightlifting.
Physiques have changed considerably, sad to say, for the worse. I am sorry to say this, but I just don’t believe that the present day bodybuilders are any comparison to those of the era of Grimek, Stanko and Hilligenn, to name but a few.
In my opinion it is the advent of specialization in training methods of the modern bodybuilder which causes that all-round polished finish to be lacking in their physiques.
Overdeveloped pectorals, beefy arms and sadly lacking all-round back and deltoid development. Instead of having a well developed symmetrical physique, too many of the modern bodybuilders look disproportionate an unathletic. Hours of specialized pumping exercises, particularly the lying down variety, have helped promote this ugly and unbalanced physique so often seen today.
Men like Bob Hoffman, Peary Rader and Oscar Heidenstam have for years been advocating the combination of weightlifting with bodybuilding for a well developed, proportionate physique. It does not mean that a bodybuilder must train exclusively on the Olympic lifts. All he has to do is incorporate at least one of the fast lifts in his normal workouts. Obviously, by doing so he may have to curtail some of his bodybuilding exercises in the routine, but it will prove beneficial and result-producing.
We need not concern ourselves with presses because bodybuilders always do some form of the press. Snatches, power snatches, cleans, power cleans, jerks and high pulls are the movements that should be done. These exercises develop the too often neglected muscles in one’s physique such as the lower back, the trapezius, deltoids and forearms.
As a matter of fact, these muscle groups mentioned will add the finishing touches to the body. By doing lifting exercises you will not only become stronger, more athletic and fitter, but you will also begin to enjoy your training more than ever before – that aspect too is important. Take for instance the snatch or clean & jerk. Instead of doing three repetitions as weightlifters do, try seven reps with a moderate weight. You will be amazed at how breathless one or two sets of this exercise will leave you. As a matter of fact, those who want to reduce or obtain more muscularity should include either the snatch or clean & jerks in fairly high repetitions, between 7 and 15. Normally, repetitions between 3 and 7 should suffice.
You need only incorporate one or two lifting movements in your regular workout. It is best to start off with the lifts and then carry on with bodybuilding. For those who have never done weightlifting, you should consult an expert on it on how to execute the various lifts such as the snatch and clean & jerk correctly. Attending a weightlifting meet will also help give you and idea of how they should be done.
You may find that a considerable amount of time and effort will be used mastering the lifts. Nevertheless, once you can do a snatch, etc., correctly, little effort will be needed to maintain good performance for bodybuilding purposes. Power snatches and cleans can also be done with little practice by the bodybuilder. Actually, you may find it easier if you first concentrate on power snatches and power cleans. Once you have gotten used to these movements (stiffness, etc., as you will be pretty stiff in the traps, lower back and forearms) you can try snatches and clean & jerks with light weights.
Now let us presume you can snatch etc. Here’s a sample routine you can do 3 times a week:
1.) Seated Barbell Press.
2.) Power Snatch or Power Clean – 5 sets of 3 to 7 reps.
3.) Proper Snatch or Clean & Jerk – 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps.
4.) Dumbell Bench Press.
5.) Bent Forward Barbell Rowing.
6.) Lying Triceps Extension.
7.) Incline Dumbell Curl.
8.) Regular Squat.
9.) Calf Raise.
10.) Abdominal Work.
I have not given the sets or repetitions for the bodybuilding exercises. I leave that to you, because by incorporating the lifts as suggested you may have to adjust the amount of bodybuilding work you usually do. And remember, this is but one of many, many possible workouts integrating the lifts with bodybuilding movements.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Kolotov shows the preferred style for cleaning a press. This saves a lot of strength and permits a better starting position than cleaning in a low squat position.
How I Perfect the Press
by Anatoly Zhitetsky
I perform all the movements in the two-hands press in different variations depending upon my physical and technical preparedness in a given period. When performing a press with maximum results, I am not successful in lifting the bar to the chest at a high stance. Therefore, I resort to a deep squat clean.
The main things I watch when lifting the bar to the chest are: straight line movement of the bar, maximum starting speed, the power of the final effort, the coordination of the effort of the legs, trunk and arms, the depth and precision of the squat, the correct rising out of the squat, and the bar’s correct resultant position at the chest. While pressing the bar from the chest I try to complete the movement precisely, with the right direction of the bar’s movement, and with maximum speed.
In order to perform the press from the chest correctly, I work not only on technique, but also develop the strength of the arms. For this I use auxiliary exercises with a barbell: push press (press with the help of the legs), press behind the neck, and supine press. To obtain good results in the press I train more often with maximum weights and once or twice a month I test my strength. Training painstakingly in the press with great loads, I also gain something more: the growth of strength helps me raise the results in the two-hands snatch and jerk.
I now train four times a week, the length of each training session is 2½ to 3 hours.
During the weekly cycle I arrange the load in the two-hands press in the following manner: In the first session – heavy, in the second session – medium, in the third session – heavy, in the fourth session – light. Two to three weeks before a meet I add two light training sessions in the two-hands press between the first and second sessions.
When performing the two-hands press I give special attention to the correct organization and arrangement of the training session, and its correct goal orientation.
To obtain maximum possible sports results in the two-hands press, great physical effort, and speed and accuracy in the completion of the separate movements are necessary. For this reason movements in only the classical press are insufficient; it is necessary to utilize special-assistance exercises and general development exercises, without which it is impossible to discover completely an athlete’s potential possibilities.
Results in the press also depend in many ways upon the ability to bring the bar to the chest. I employ special-assistance exercises for this: lifting the bar to the chest at a high stance with a low dip; jerk pulls (power-pulls with a heavy weight); lifting the bar (medium and heavy weights) to the chest from a hang with a full squat; squatting with the bar at the shoulders or at the chest.
In order to perfect the two-hands press from the chest, besides exercises in the supine position, the press behind the neck, and push-presses, I set aside a large place for exercises with dumbells, especially during the preparatory period. Exercises with dumbells can localize the work of the muscles in that part of the body which interests me. I avoid a large number of repetitions and the lifting of great weights when training in the press. In the beginning of a training session I do up to 5 repetitions of an exercise with light weight (warmup). Beginning with a weight equal to 60% of my best result, I complete 4 to 5 approaches to the bar and, increasing the weight in each approach, I go up to my medium training weight (85% of my best result). At this weight I do 4 to 5 approaches, repeating the movement 3 or 4 times in succession. Upon increasing the results in the press, I increase the medium training weight accordingly.
In my workouts I include exercises for the development of flexibility and coordination of movement, which helps me to complete the two hands press in a technically correct manner without difficulty.
I conduct training in the two-hands press in a separated manner – first the cleans, and then the press from the chest. To me, such a division has a large advantage over other methods.
Perfection in the lifting of the bar to the chest at a high stance or with a squat (the latter for me particularly) also has a positive influence on my results in the quick movements.
I have observed that in training sessions some weightlifters direct their attention only to the second part of the movement – the pressing of the bar off the chest. This is incorrect, since success in the press depends in many ways how effectively the bar was lifted to the chest.
My preparation for the two hands press does not remain standard because of many factors, such as the workout conditions, the time of year, the competitive calendar, the condition of health and other reasons. In order to avoid staleness from the very same exercises, from time to time I bring about a change in the workout scheme.
Prolonged monotonous repetition of the load entails a decline of interest in workouts, and tends to an overtrained state. In such instances it is not obligatory to lower the strength load. It is possible to train with the former load, changing only the character of the exercises and the order of their fulfillment. As a result, interest in workouts will arise anew, the organism will cope with the load, and sports achievements will steadily increase.
In the achievement of high sports results in the two hands press, I assign great significance to the buildup of will power upon lifting the weight, which I cultivate at training sessions, completing the exercises with maximum weights only when I feel good and have good coordination. Only be continuous completion of the movements in correct style can one lift weights in perfect form.
In the process of year-round training I give great attention to observing my diet, which frequently becomes the deciding factor, when the question concerns the achievement of high sports results.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Basic 5x3 Routine:
1.) Take a weight you can do 5 sets of 3 repetitions with. This does not include warmup sets.
2.) Build up over time to 5 sets of 5 with it.
3.) Once you can successfully complete 5x5 with this poundage, add to the weight and go back to 5 sets of 3 repetitions.
The first workout you do 5 sets of 3 reps. The next workout you try to add some repetitions. You might not do the same number of reps for each of the five sets, perhaps 3 or 4 for some sets. Stay with the same weight until you can make 5 good reps for all 5 sets, then add weight . . . and repeat the process.
1.) Take a weight you can do 5 sets of 3 repetitions with. This does not include warmup sets.
2.) Build up over time to 5 sets of 5 with it.
3.) Once you can successfully complete 5x5 with this poundage, add to the weight and go back to 5 sets of 3 repetitions.
The first workout you do 5 sets of 3 reps. The next workout you try to add some repetitions. You might not do the same number of reps for each of the five sets, perhaps 3 or 4 for some sets. Stay with the same weight until you can make 5 good reps for all 5 sets, then add weight . . . and repeat the process.
For a Better Back
by Bradley J. Steiner
In this article we’re going to cover a lot of important territory. There are more basic exercises for the back than there are for any other single body area, and they should ALL be used, at one time or another, by every lifting in his training program. Heavy back training will build enormous body power. It will help in bringing about overall muscle and weight gains. It will help in bringing the body to a peak in physical fitness and all-round condition. Along with heavy leg work, BACK EXERCISE is the key to great development and strength.
To begin then, here is a list of the essential exercises for the back:
1.) Stiff-legged dead weight lift.
2.) Repetition power clean.
3.) Barbell bendover, or “good morning” exercise.
4.) Heavy, bent-forward rowing.
5.) Heavy, one dumbell rowing.
6.) Heavy shoulder shrugging.
7.) Neck bridge with weight resistance.
This last exercise you might want to say, is not for the back at all, since it works the neck muscles primarily, but remember, please, that this movement is a fine developer of the trapezius muscles, and also – since we are concerned in this series with the essential exercises for the entire body, it is necessary to place neck bridging somewhere in our repertoire. It is logical to include it with the back work.
In glancing at the above list you may suddenly protest that this writer is off his head for neglecting to have included the standard dead weight lift. After all, everyone knows that the basic exercise for the lower back is the deadlift, no? No, it is not. The regular deadlift is a fine test of one’s basic body power, but as a developer of the spinal erector muscles in the lumbar region of the lower back it is highly overrated. It is my intention to present in this series only those exercises that have proven themselves to be the finest developers of the muscles that they work. I am interested in building bodies, not in experimenting with them. It may not be popular to say it, but for the purpose of back development you can dump the traditional deadlift. Rest assured that the exercises herein discussed will bring you satisfactory results – if you work hard with them. In previous articles we’ve discussed the importance of concentration and effort in your training programs; now we’re concerned with those exercises you should be concentrating upon. So, taking them one at a time, in the order previously listed, let’s examine each basic back exercise and see how you may utilize it in your training.
The first exercise is the Stiff-legged deadlift, and let me say this at the outset about this fine exercise: If you work to your limit on the stiff-legged deadlift, constantly striving to handle more and more weight, you will find this to be the best lower back builder, a super-power developer, and a superbly efficient body conditioner as well. With the inclusion of a very few other exercises in a program, the stiff-legged deadlift can turn you into a Hercules if you’ll put forth an honest effort in training.
The stiff-legged deadlift should always be done with the heaviest possible weights. You should always use a barbell; never dumbells, for the simple reason that more weight can be handled in this manner, and when you are advanced you should do the stiff-legged deadlift while standing on a strong bench or block. This will enable you to lower the barbell below your feet, and the enormous development of power and flexibility that will result from this exercise style will utterly amaze you.
For the LOWER back then, the stiff-legged deadlift should be employed almost to the complete exclusion of any other exercise. Yes, it is that excellent. Yes, it is that important. Yes, it will give you the results that I have said it will give you, and no, I stand nothing to gain if you employ it in your program. You simply should know, to save your own time and effort, that this particular exercise is number one for its purpose, and you’ll be cheating yourself if you fail to use it.
There are two other essential exercises for the lower back area: the Power Clean and the Bendover or good morning exercise, but use them only as a means of getting out of a training rut or as a variation from time to time. They are good, but they cannot approach the stiff-legged deadlift. Since they are good, let’s turn to them next.
The power clean is a favorite exercise of Reg Park. It is hardly necessary to point out that Park’s back development leaves little, if anything, to be desired! Let’s face it – he must have done something right to get it, and one of the “right” things, no doubt, was work hard on the power clean.
The secret of getting the most out of your power cleans is, of course, to constantly strive to handle heavier and heavier weight. The exercise, like the stiff-legged deadlift, can be done with a pair of dumbells, but the necessity of always striving toward maximum poundage makes me warn you not to use dumbells unless you have access to real super-heavies, such as might be found in some commercial gyms, or set up with sturdy plate loading bars. Otherwise, stay with the barbell!
The power clean is NOT a weightlifting feat. It is an exercise. Do not confuse it with the type of cleaning done by Olympic lifters. In the power clean there is no significant body dip and there is no leg split or squat whatever. One simply grasps the bar with both hands in the overgrip (knuckles forward) and “cleans” it to one’s upper chest and shoulder level. Then the weight is lowered to the floor and the exercise is repeated for the desired number of repetitions. After a few weeks of power cleaning you should notice a very pleasant increase in both your overall bodily power, and in the muscular bulk of your upper back. The power clean is a triple-purpose exercise that will give a thorough workout to the trapezius, latissimus, and erector spinae muscle groups. You’ll find that in addition to the wonderful back-building results you’ll slap some extra meat on your upper arms also. How about that for a bonus?
The third and last exercise for the lower back region is the barbell bendover, better known in weight training circles as the “good morning” exercise, and no, I do not know why it’s called the good morning exercise. Call it the “good night” exercise if you will; I do know this: it is an excellent developer of the lower back. Weightlifters frequently use this exercise as a supplement to their training on the basic lifts, and it will quickly prove its worth to you after a few weeks’ training. The performance of the good morning may not be known to you, so briefly, this is how it’s done.
Take a barbell, of moderate weight in the beginning, and hold it behind the neck as you would if preparing to do a set of squats. Now, keeping the legs straight, and being careful to maintain a flat back and strong grip, incline your upper body forward from the waist until it is parallel to the floor. Using lower back strength only (DON’T bend your knees), raise your upper body to the erect starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
This movement takes some getting used to, but it is nevertheless a fine back exercise. When you become sufficiently advanced you will be able to employ heavy poundages, and of course you’ll reap excellent gains.
By far the most important group of back muscles to every bodybuilder are the “lats” or upper latissimus dorsi group. Huge, bulky lats do give the entire physique a broad, powerful appearance. To acquire powerful lats that possess corresponding shape and bulk, you need concern yourself with only two exercises and their variations. The exercises are: the heavy bent forward barbell row, and the heavy one-dumbell row. We shall begin our analysis with the heavy, bent forward barbell row since it is number one on the list, and number one in importance.
Reg Park (one always has to refer to Park when one wants to cite physical perfection) considers heavy barbell rowing to be the best all-round back developer. It is. Please note at this point that I say “heavy” bent forward barbell rowing. Brothers, if it’s a mighty back that you’re after, you’ve got to face the fact that only heavy training will achieve your goal. For upper back development you should push heavy barbell rowing in every workout. Keep forcing the poundages way up. This is terribly important, and if there is a reason why some lifters fail to reap satisfactory gains from barbell rows it is due to their use of weights that are too light.
There are three methods of doing your barbell rows. The first is to use a wide grip and to pull the weight up to the chest in fairly strict form. The second method involves a closer grip, and you pull the weight up to your stomach. The third method is to use an ultra-heavy weight and to perform the exercise as a kind of bent forward “clean.” Surprisingly, this last variation is not at all a bad one to employ, since, no matter how you cheat in barbell rowing it is still the back that always bears the brunt of the work. I advise you to use all three forms of barbell rowing in your routines. It doesn’t matter which style you do when, just DO it.
The heavy one-dumbell row is a fine lat developer and the only reason for possible failure with this exercise is, you guessed it, the use of weights that are far too light. You absolutely MUST use heavy weights if you expect maximum development of the back. In order to increase the poundages that you employ in this exercise it is desirable at times, as with the barbell rows, that you cheat. DO NOT, however, let your cheating take the form of pulling the dumbell to the waist or midsection. When you utilize a heavy dumbell row, this will not result in satisfactory progress. You’re better off staying with a weight that you can pull to your chest. Again, cheating from time to time is O.K., but it should take the form of using body impetus to pull the weight up to the upper chest, NOT to your midsection.
An excellent variation to the one-dumbell row that can be used at times is the one arm row with the loaded end of a barbell. This is not really a variant of one-dumbell rowing per se, but the similarity in performance is what prompts me to consider the movement a variant of the one-dumbell row. John Grimek has used this exercise to good effect, and need I argue the point that Grimek knows what is happening in the Iron Game? Perform the exercise very strictly, using heavy weights, and for heaven’s sake, stand STRADDLING the bar! I once noticed a fellow in the gym trying to do the movement by standing off to one side. That’s a swell way to get a nice back injury. You should prop the empty end of the bar against a sturdy support, and place your non-exercising hand on its corresponding hip; leave it there, and unlike the dumbell row, do not permit yourself to cheat at all.
Often neglected by bodybuilders, yet nonetheless important for all-round strength and symmetry, the trapezius muscles rank as an important group to develop. To an extent all forms of rowing and the power clean affect these muscles, but for really powerful and complete development you should include what is another essential exercise: Heavy shrugging.
In shoulder shrugging it doesn’t make one bit of difference whether you use a heavy barbell or a couple of heavy dumbells. What counts is only that you use HEAVY weights, and that you take care to perform this apparently simple exercise correctly. Correctly means letting your trapezius muscles do the shrugging, and not allowing your arms and hands to relieve the back of its work. This, by the way, is a very common error among trainees, and you would do well to guard against it. Remember: your hands are to serve only as links to hold the weight. LET YOUR TRAPEZIUS MUSCLES DO ALL THE WORK. To put it even more simply: SHRUG, as the name implies, and DON’T PULL with the hands.
The final essential exercise for the back area is the bridge with weight resistance. I consider neck exercise to be important, both from an appearance, and certainly from a health standpoint. Since, as was explained earlier, this exercise does work the trapezius muscles in addition to the neck, I have chosen to include it in this, the back exercise part of our series on the essentials.
The neck muscles are very quick to respond to exercise. They develop rapidly. While it is wise to take it easy on the neck for the first week or so of training, the fact that it is a body part that responds readily to exercise will enable you to work up to considerable resistance, and thus build a fine neck. DO NOT NEGLECT THIS BODYPART. When you are doing the neck bridge, keep a barbell plate on your chest, and always (unless you happen to have an unusually thick skull) place a folded towel or pillow under your head. Raise up SLOWLY, lower SLOWLY, and repeat. Again, it will pay you never to neglect neck exercise, even if you have read somewhere that Mr. Superman spends four hours a day working everything but the neck. Phooey on that garble! You want a real body, not a puffed up anatomy chart.
Back exercise is tremendously simple in its performance, tremendously difficult in the effort it demands, and, lest we let your forget, tremendously important for total development. Do not be misled into taking the easy way out, no matter what you may read or hear, as regards back or any other exercise. The movements we have discussed are IT – the very best – so give ‘em all you’ve got. Always strive to constantly work harder, for in the lifting the hard way is the easiest way to succeed.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
How to Use the Curl
by Peary Rader (1951)
If one were to ask the average bodybuilder what the most popular or most practiced exercise was he might answer in the majority of times – the curl.
Probably the reason this exercise is most used is because to many of the uninformed as well as to many bodybuilders the biceps muscle is “The Muscle”. Just ask a man to let you see his muscle and what does he show you? His chest muscles, his leg muscles, his back muscles? No, almost without exception he will roll up his sleeve and flex his arm to show his biceps muscle.
The reason the curl is so popular is because it is the most direct and effective exercise yet discovered for developing the biceps the quickest and most massively.
Because of the specialization on this muscle and the curl exercise, bodybuilders have evolved quite a large assortment of variations in the curl. Such men as Aronis, Pederson and Counts have developed their biceps to the peak of perfection and size by a wide variety of curls almost exclusively. They have worked the biceps from every angle. Of course you can obtain a very large biceps by doing nothing but several sets of the regular two arm curl but you will obtain a much larger development if you will use a great variety of curls. In some positions you will be able to force a greater and more complete contraction of the biceps. In others you are able to effect a greater extension.
We have not carried an illustration of the biceps and will not go into detail of the anatomy of the muscle because this has been covered many times previously. If the reader wishes to know the why and wherefor of the exercises we are about to present we suggest a study of the anatomy of this muscle with special attention given to its actions. In this manner you will be better able to intelligently apply the exercise.
You will hear much argument about the correct form for the curl. The bodybuilder if he listens to all the pro and con arguments will soon find himself quite confused. Loosely speaking we would say that there is no absolute correct way to do a curl. All methods are correct if performed with adequate poundage and maximum number of repetitions. They all have their own peculiar effect on the biceps. If you wish a certain effect then you will use a certain variation.
Generally speaking we might say that your favorite method of curling is the best for you since you are more likely to work harder on this method and the most important secret of success is plenty of hard work. so far we have found no other method for acquiring maximum muscular development and strength.
The first three illustrations are of common curling variations. In the first photo we have the regular curl performed on one of the new Dymeck curling bars. Of course you don’t need one of these bars for effective curling but they are of great use. They can help relieve the strain that is so common to the straight bar as the wrists are badly twisted. after trying one of these bars for a while you may like it too well to go back to the straight bars. Of course you can do this curl with pulley weights by using the floor pulley and if you have one of the cambered bars so often used on pulley weight outfits you can invert it and you will obtain the same effect, relatively, that you would with the Dymeck bar. We especially enjoy doing the curl with a floor pulley-weight outfit equipped with a floor pulley as the pull on the bar is so constant and smooth.
This standard curl is probably the most commonly used variation and the first style taught to beginners. It is also one of the most effective. Even in this style you can vary your performance considerably. The very strict style is of great importance. In this style you stand strictly erect and with arms completely extended you curl the bar to the shoulders bringing the elbows well up to finish. Then lower it to the thighs again. These movements should be smooth without a sudden jerk and not too fast so that you can “Feel” the curl all the way. There should be no body swing whatever to aid the curl. In other words you “muscle” it all the way.
Another effective way to prevent cheating in this type of curl is to stand with your back to a post or door frame and lean back slightly. This will prevent all body movement. You will find it necessary to lean back slightly to preserve your balance, otherwise the weight will carry you forward.
Of course many other variations of this style will occur to you. However one more important variation of the regular curl should be discussed. This is the cheating or swinging curl. In this style you use whatever body swing necessary to get the weight in motion and curled in to the shoulders. Most men start out with a weight that requires but little swing and then while increasing the poundage for each set they also increase the swing until they are almost making a dead hang curling clean. This style is most effective for developing great strength due to the heavy poundages used but it is also valuable for a developer and often will break down those stubborn tissues that have become accustomed to the regular style. Some instructors are of the opinion that every exercise should be done in the strictest possible form at all times but we know from experience that varying the program from strict to loose then back to strict styles again, etc. has great value. It breaks the monotony and also provides the muscles with a more varied field of effort which prevents them from becoming accustomed to one type of movement and thus coming to a standstill in growth.
The hand spacing should be varied in this movement. Some of your curls can be done with the hands touching while others should be performed with a rather wide grip. Most men can curl a little more with a medium grip than with a narrow grip.
When performing this curl or any other of the variations you should also curl the wrist strongly as you curl the arms so that you also make the exercise a very valuable forearm developer.
In the middle photo we have the reverse curl, performed virtually the same as the regular curl except that the over grip is used instead of the under grip. Here the similarity ends however for the reverse curl is much different from the regular curl in that it strongly effects the upper portion of the forearms and also the biceps in a much different manner. Many men find that they can use very little weight in this exercise because of the construction of the forearm and the muscular attachments. It is also said that certain muscles are missing in many men’s arms which makes it hard for them to perform this movement with heavy weights.
Perhaps the best man on this movement is Al Berger of Philadelphia who can perform this movement correctly with 200 lbs. or over. In fact he is about equal to the best regular style curling experts. In the regular style many men claim correct curls with 200 lbs. and we have seen Davis do 205 correctly. At least two men claim 225 in this lift but it is doubtful if it was performed in strict style. It is said that Goerner did 220 in correct style. It is possible that he may have accomplished this for he certainly was one of the strongest men of all time. It is doubtful if anyone ever did more than this correct or should we say strict style.
This movement is also much more enjoyable and just as effective if performed with the Dymeck bar or a bent or cambered pulleyweight bar with floor pulley. This relieves most of the extreme twist of the wrists which in some men make it almost impossible to perform the exercise.
Another difficulty experienced by some men is that of holding as much weight in the hands as they can curl due to a weakness of the thumb. Of course this exercise will strengthen the thumbs but it will also be found that you can use a hook grip for a more secure hold on the bar. A hook grip is one wherein you lap the fingers over the thumbs thus securely bringing them into a strong grip. It is slightly painful at first but this soon passes.
The range of movement is the same as in the regular curl and you can likewise use both the strict style as well as the more lenient swinging style. The swinging style is of more value for weight lifters than for bodybuilders however. You should use care in adding weight too fast in this exercise due to the possibility of straining some of the small muscles involved.
In photo No. 3 we have an exercise that is not too often practiced but a very good one nevertheless. You can use dumbells only in this movement. You stand with bells hanging at sides and then curl them to armpits and as high as possible. This exercise has a very much different effect on the biceps from the other curls.
Before going to the next illustrations we would like to mention that the regular and reverse curl can both be performed with dumbells. Some men prefer dumbells for the exercise. In this case we often recommend the single dumbell as by working only one arm at a time you can give deeper concentration to the movement which is a very important factor if you wish satisfactory results. You can also perform dumbell curls with loose style as well as strict. In performing the reverse curl with dumbell you can also hold the dumbell pointing front and back throughout the movement. This does not give as great a twist to the wrist as the regular reverse position and yet effects the muscles in virtually the same way.
We would also like to mention the half movements that are often effective in jarring stubborn muscles loose and making them grow. These are usually of two variations. That in which you curl a heavy weight to about the waist and that in which you start at waist height and curl to the shoulder. In the latter movement you can if you like start from a low table or the backs of chairs.
Turning to photos No. 4, 5 and 6 we see some curls performed with the pulley weights. This apparatus we feel is equally valuable to body builders as the barbell. There are so many exercises that can be performed to much better effect with pulley weights than with barbell or dumbells.
Photo on the left shows the curl to back of neck with overhead pulley. This is one of the most effective curls as it causes the most complete contraction of the biceps muscle. In fact you probably will cramp the muscle quite badly if you are inclined toward cramps. Many instructors feel these cramping movements are the most effective developing movements and try to use them on all the muscles. We do not entirely agree on this but do believe they have certain values. Complete contraction (whether the muscle cramps or not) of a muscle is important to maximum growth. It is not too important, however, in the development of maximum strength. In fact a muscle in this position has but little of its strength in a more normal position. You should be sure of complete extension of the arm in this exercise for every repetition. Nothing can be gained by doing this exercise in a loose style since it is basically a strict movement. Of course it can be done either standing, sitting or kneeling. This exercise can also be done with two hands at a time on the long bar tho we prefer the one arm movement because of the ease of concentration with one arm.
In the middle photo we have the regular one arm curl performed with the floor pulley, and by the way you can perform more exercises with the floor pulley than you can with an overhead pulley so no pulley weight set is complete without some form of floor pulley – be sure it is correctly fastened to the floor. This exercise is about the same as the one arm curl with dumbell except that you have a more constant resistance to the completion of the movement with the pulley than you do with a dumbell. Another variation with floor pulley is the curl to the back instead of the front of the body.
On the right we see a variation with the wall pulley in which the exerciser starts with arm extended towards the wall and then curls it in to the shoulder as shown. You will like this variation as a change in your routine and it is a fine developer if you have a wall pulley available. You can vary this movement alternately by bringing the hand to the back instead of the front.
Now let’s lift our gaze to the next set of pictures and get ourselves seated in a chair for some really serious curling. This shows Bud Counts doing a one arm dumbell curl and you can see how great the contraction of the biceps is in this position. This is a favorite movement of Bud’s as well as many of the big arm boys. They spend a lot of time on this movement. Note the position of the free hand and supporting knee. This is important as it gives a solid support from which to work. A few sets of this movement will make your biceps ache. This is essentially a muscle building movement. There are several slight variations of this exercise but we feel the one shown is the best.
In the next photo we find another exercise preformed with the wall pulley. However you can also use a dumbell for this movement although we feel the wall pulley weight is much to be preferred since it maintains steady resistance over the complete range of movement. This exercise gives strong action over a complete range of the muscle from extension to almost complete contraction. You will find it a superb exercise. Of course you can use a box or a convenient support.
Now down to the next series of photos. We have Hal Stephens demonstrating two more exercises with the floor pulley. Both of these can also be performed with either barbell or dumbells. We especially like the pulley weights for these because of the steady resistance over the entire range of movement.
The two photos on the left show the beginning and finish of the curl with elbows resting on knees for support. This is an excellent exercise and gives almost complete contraction to the biceps. On the right Hal is shown as he performs the curl while bent at the waist. This position should be maintained all during the curl with no up and down movement or “cheating”. In both exercises you should bring the bar s high as possible so to obtain complete contraction of the biceps.
Now in the next series of photos we see our model doing the curl while prone on the flat bench. In this case he is using one arm and dumbell. Some men prefer to use the barbell and two arms. If you do this you should use a rather high bench and position yourself farther forward over the end of the bench. In the photo on the right the model demonstrates the dumbell curl on the incline bench. This is a favorite with many bodybuilders and is considered one of the best as it gives such a complete extension to the biceps whereas most of the other curls discussed give complete contraction although not quite complete extension. Starting the curl from a complete hang you will feel the biceps completely stretched out then curl them to as near the shoulders as possible. In the first exercise you should not use a poundage that will not permit of strict performance although in the incline bench curls many bodybuilders work up to heavy weights with a slight swing with benefit. However some of your curls should be in strict style.
We have by no means exhausted the varieties of curling exercise. There are a great number of other styles used by various bodybuilders but we have selected what we consider the best to present in this article and any more would result in confusion. If you are an advanced man you may develop certain variations that you like better than others. If they prove effective then they are probably best for you because you will certainly work harder on an exercise you like more than one you don’t like. Again we repeat, it is hard work intelligently applied that gives results. Of course we can’t minimize the importance of diet, sleep and other factors conducive to health.
With such a list of exercises we know you will be undecided as to how to make up a biceps building or curling program. The biceps can stand a lot or work and you are not in as much danger of going stale with biceps work as you would be with presses or squats. If you are a beginner we would of course suggest that you break in gradually with the regular curl and work up to about 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps then add another exercise, in this case the reverse curl. By this time you will have reached an advanced stage where you can use one of the following programs:
Regular curl with back against post.
Incline bench curl with dumbells.
One arm reverse curl.
Perform the above exercises 8 to 12 reps adding 2½ pounds for each hand when you reach 12 reps. Start with one set of each exercise than add another set each two weeks.
When you reach four sets of each exercise for four weeks then change to another program such as the following:
Heavy, swinging curls with barbell.
Seated one arm curl as shown in photo No. 8.
Curl to back of neck with overhead pulleyweight. (if you don’t have a pulleyweight substitute bent over curl in rowing position.)
Use the same rep and set system as for first program.
Your next program will be made up of pulleyweight exercises entirely:
One arm curl, standing, with floor pulley.
Side curl with wall pulley with elbow raised as in photo No. 6.
Two arm seated curl as shown in photo No. 10.
Reverse pulley curl with one or two hands.
Use same set and rep schedule.
The next program will be made up of cheating exercises and will aim at developing additional power and also additional size from a change of style and poundage and considerable effort:
Two arm swinging curls.
Two arm reverse swinging curls.
Swinging curls with dumbells on incline bench.
In the above program you should change the rep schedules and do from 6 to 8 reps and work up to 5 sets of each exercise by one additional set each two weeks.
This gives you four programs of specialization which should take you approximately 8 months to complete. By this time your biceps should be approaching their maximum in size and strength. We suggest that you may wish to change these programs slightly by including some of the other styles and variations we have given. If you are an advanced bodybuilder you are probably quite justified in making a beneficial change if you wish. However, if you are quite new to the game, we suggest you follow them just as we have given them.
Some confusion may result from our instructions regarding the increasing of the sets in each program. You should drop back to 1 set of each exercise when starting each program and progressively work up to the suggested number of sets which is usually 4 of each exercise. This constant variation of effort is more conducive to rapid growth than if you maintained one permanent schedule of 4 sets per exercise after you reached this number.
We realize too that all men do not gain best on the same number of sets, or above all, the same number of reps. Quite a few bodybuilders go as high as 15 reps while a great number never go over 8 reps per set with equally good results. I personally prefer the latter. Some variation in this should be practiced from time to time. Try different numbers until you find the one best suited to yourself. Rest only about 1 minute between sets, but 5 to 10 minutes between exercises.
It is also likely that many fellows will not feel up to doing 3 exercises for 4 sets due to low energy. In this case it is wise to cut down somewhat, perhaps to only 2 exercises. However, nearly everyone will be able to do 3 exercises if they work up to it properly and gradually. You should never start right in with a high number of exercises. Not only do you overwork, but you also cheat yourself of progress and greater growth by jumping several progressive stages thus loosing the value that you would have accrued had you built up progressively.
We must caution you to always make your movements complete, unless you are purposely practicing the suggested half movements. Especially be sure that you get complete extension for flexibility of the muscle and complete contraction for development. Always warm up properly to avoid a strained biceps muscle. Wear a sweat shirt to keep warm, even though your vanity may suffer. Above all, don’t become so enamored of biceps development that you forget the even more important arm muscle, the triceps, which we shall deal with later.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Dave Sheppard snatching 235. Weight well back, head well forward and shoulders in a position where the weight can be caught no matter which way it goes.
Kinunnen of Sweden in a very low squat snatch. This is a superb style but not as sure as the style taught by Barnholth because the head is not far enough forward nor the weight far enough back which makes it difficult to adjust the body and shoulders under the weight.
From “Secrets of the Squat Snatch”
by Larry Barnholth (1950)
At the present you may be quite dubious about the squat style of snatching. You may ask, “What is the value of the squat style of snatching; aren’t most of the current records held by split lifters?” Then, too, you may be wondering if you are the type that can conform to the correct position required by this method of lifting. Finally, you may have undoubtedly heard at some time or another that the squat snatch is a precarious lift, and you may be doubtful if it would be safe for you to employ this style in competition where only three attempts are permitted. These questions are very common among lifters who have been considering learning the squat snatch as they are embodied in the minds and letters of the hundreds of students who have come to me for instruction. I will answer these questions in the following pages.
The squat and split styles of lifting originated approximately simultaneously. Split lifting was first developed in France and slightly later in England. Continental Europe was the place of origin of the squat style; it was mainly employed by the Germans and Austrians. During these early stages in the history of weight lifting the Germans thought that their style was the only right way and would rule out all splitters who competed in Germany, and the French in their turn believed that the split was the only right form and would disqualify all squatters. Finally both sides came to recognize both styles.
During these early days of modern weight training, records would often alternate between squat and split lifters. Henry Steinborn, a squat lifter, at one time held the world heavyweight snatch record. Nosseir, the big powerful Egyptian, used the split style to push the record up to 275, and then later to 280. Wohl, a German, raised the mark to 286 while employing the squat style. Ronald Walker used the split style to increase the record to 292½. Then, the great American champions, Louis Abele, Steve Stanko, and John Davis, entered upon the scene and batted the mark around until the war. Of course the war put an end to Germany’s claim as an international weight lifting power.
In spite of the fact that that the Germans were able to break world records with the squat style, very few of them had good form on this lift. I have seen some of the great German champions, but was very disappointed with their form on the snatch. Manger for instance would squat on his toes and would often walk or crawl under the weight to maintain his balance. Of course there were some Germans who had good form on this lift, but there were many who did not. The latter were the ones who were responsible for attaching the reputation of unreliability to the squat snatch.
During a period of over 25 years that I have been coaching lifters I have yet to find a person who could snatch as much in the split style as he could in the squat style after he had learned both methods correctly. The reason that the majority of lifters today use the split rather than the squat is that the split style is easier to learn. The squat style is a science. Anyone can pick up form of one sort or another in split style with little or no teaching, but to learn the correct form in squat lifting one must receive proper instructions. There are very few coaches who have studied the squat style thoroughly enough to be able to teach or perform a perfect squat snatch. You are fortunate along these lines because for the first time in the long history of weight lifting a comprehensive analogy of this lifting is presented to the public.
Anyone short of being a very unusual freak can learn to perform a correct squat snatch. It is true that men with short legs and long torsos often can more quickly adapt themselves to the squat style, and appear to have smoother form on the lift. For instance, I have often remarked that the form employed by Tony Levenderis, whose body and legs are in the above mentioned proportions, is the smoothest and most graceful that I have ever seen. Although long-legged lifters do not as a rule appear quite as graceful as do their teammates with the opposite proportions, they can employ the squat style with equal success as far as reliability and power are concerned. This has been proven by Pete George and Dave Sheppard. At the American College of Modern Weight Lifting we start out all beginning lifters on the squat style and find no difference among the various types as to poundages lifted or reliability. So regardless what type of general body structure you may be classed in you can learn to squat snatch correctly.
As I write this information on lifting I find myself confronted with the problem of addressing various types of audiences simultaneously. By this I mean that some of you reading this book are just starting to work out with the weights, some of you have done some preliminary training with weights, and others of you have years of experience in the iron game. So I will presume that before you start training on the competitive lifts you will have spent the necessary amount of time conditioning yourself to the extent that there are no weak links in your chain of strength.
I will assume also that since you want maximum results from our teachings you will shelve your present knowledge and let me take you right from the beginning through the various stages up to the heights of a finished and polished lifter. Whenever I am coaching any of the hundreds of the students (past and present) who have attained the required results, I never permit them to assume that they know wall about it. I must be accepted as the sole expert during your training period if you wish to receive the results that have gratified my various pupils the world over.
In learning the squat snatch the preparations and preliminary exercises are extremely important. If you are very exacting in seeing to it that this conditioning is executed correctly you will find that the form in the squat snatch will come almost automatically. However, if you slight this part of your training you will probably encounter a great many difficulties later. So by all means make haste slowly, and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The squat snatch is a complex art requiring application of scientific principles. The system that is contained in the following pages is the method used at the ACMWL to teach their near perfection squat style of lifting. If you apply it properly it will work for you.
Now to get down to brass tacks. The first item that we will consider in preparing for the squat snatch is that of the proper shoes. In all of your lifts use shoes with heels on them. The heels should be as high as on your street shoes or higher. This not only tends to make you more stable, but also tends to keep your pelvis in proper position to prevent sacro-iliac trouble. For the best results you must wear heels. Leather gym shoes with heels added make very good lifting shoes. The ankle height of these shoes not only give good support to the ankles, but when laced up tightly produce a better fit on the foot. This is another important point to remember since you can not do your best lifting while wearing loose and sloppy shoes. If your shoes can not be laced tight enough wear an extra pair of socks. Pete George prefers a working shoe. They are of sturdier construction and will not very readily split at the sides as lighter shoes often do when lifting heavy weights. Pete also claims that the heavier shoes give him the feeling of a solid foundation to lift on. They do not have any noticeable effect on his speed.
For our second point we will consider the lifting belt. This piece of lifting paraphernalia has become very popular in recent years, and I believe it produces a good and almost necessary effect in attaining best results on all the lifts. It helps to keep your back in the correct position, and it also produces an important psychological effect, i.e., gives your back a feeling of support. After you have developed good form in the squat snatch by all means wear a lifting belt. However, while you are learning the form I suggest that you do without.
Never practice the squat style while wearing street pants. This is especially important while learning the correct form not only because it’s a good way to rip a pair of pants, but because trousers will restrict your motions. You must have complete freedom of motion to execute the perfect squat snatch. Trunks or sweat pants are a very essential part of your lifting outfit.
Now that you are all togged out for lifting, the next thing to think about is the kind of bar that you will need to commence your training. When you first start to train for the squat style snatch, take no bar shorter than six feet in length. This length will permit you to learn the right shoulder action.
Now you will need to know how wide to grip the bar. There is a simple test that you can apply to determine the best width for you on the squat snatch. This test consists of holding a bar overhead; then without bending the elbows, lower the bar behind you to the level of your hips. Incidentally, this width test, or DISLOCATION movement, is also our first conditioning exercise.
Flexible, strong shoulders are extremely important in performing a perfect squat style snatch. Many lifters who claim that they have tried squat snatching but felt that the position was to awkward felt that way as a consequence of tight shoulders. The shoulders must be loose to permit the weight to drop into that certain groove where it will feel solid. Tight shoulders also have a tendency to make on rise on his toes when holding a weight overhead in the squat position. The feet should be flat on the floor after catching the weight in the squat as the up on toes position contributes more than any other one thing toward making the lift precarious.
Our first conditioning exercise as was mentioned above is executed as was the width test. In this exercise you start with a wide grip. Each time you lower the bar from arms length overhead to the back of your hips and back up again think of keeping your elbows locked tightly. (A solid bar might be too heavy for you to begin this exercise with, so a pipe or wooden bar is alright.) After you have started this exercise with a wide grip go through the motion a few times then move in your grip slightly and repeat. Always make sure that you start this exercise with a grip wide enough to feel comfortable so that your shoulder muscles are warmed up before moving in the grip. This is especially important in the winter as it is easier to make the muscles sore during cold weather.
You are not ready to work on snatch form until you can comfortably do this exercise with the OUTER portion of your hands not over 45 inches apart. With diligent practice it should take only a few weeks or less to accomplish this, and then progress to a closer hand spacing and greater shoulder flexibility. If your shoulders are very tight I might suggest that you carry a five foot length of rope with you, and do the foregoing motion many times during each day. We can go no farther with this lift until you have mastered this exercise with elbows locked tightly. Do not measure the width of your grip after performing the exercise while holding the bar with hands partly open. These motions are intended to stretch the various muscles, so for the present it is not necessary to use a great poundage.
When you have limbered up enough to pass the 45 inch or less qualification we can go to our next exercise, the OVERHEAD SQUAT. This is an important exercise for in helping you to find the proper position for the squat snatch. Grasp an empty bar with a snatch grip, and raise it to arms’ length overhead. Keep your elbows locked tightly and well back during the entire exercise. Start with feet about 16 to 18 inches apart at the heels, and toes pointed out. Lower into as low a squat as you can while maintaining an arched back. Don’t relax the arch in your lower back at any time, and always keep pressing up on the bar. We have found that a lifter exerts a better pressure on the bar if he pulls out on the bar. That is, he must try to stretch the bar when it is overhead, as if it was made of rubber.
While in the full squat find a solid position by moving your feet to the width that is ideal for you. It should be fairly wide. You must remember this position well because it is one of the golden keys to the perfect squat snatch.
You now have the top and bottom positions of this exercise so all you have to do is practice going up and down and you are practicing the most important part in your program to master the squat snatch. In passing let me add, as you lower yourself lower your head slightly, and as you come up look upward slightly. A little experimentation will determine for you how much you should move the head throughout the various stages.
As soon as you can do this while keeping a firm position do 5 series of 10 repetitions each. Start with an empty bar, and add 10 lbs. each series. On your next exercise day start with 10 lbs. loaded on the bar, and add in ten pound increments as before. Keep increasing these series 10 lbs. per exercise day until you are doing 10 overhead squats with our bodyweight of more on the bar. Remember, always keep a strong upward and outward pressure on the bar at all times. When you are in the bottom position, your back should be leaned forward approximately 45 degrees from the vertical. This means that the weight must be back. In coming up, your buttocks should start to rise before your shoulders. In other words, your legs should start to straighten before your shoulders change in elevation, but the shoulders should move to allow the weight to go back. Mastering this point will greatly aid you in balancing the bar, and in coming up quickly with heavy weights.
You may feel a soreness in the wrists or shoulders at the start. This is a natural reaction. Work it out, don’t try a rest cure of it will return again and again. If you work it out once you will not need to worry about it from then on.
When you have done the above exercise with the required poundage you are ready for more advanced practice. Remember that while these exercises seem hard to get used to at first, the preliminaries to all other arts and sciences are that way also. There is no bigger thrill in any sport than accomplishing a perfectly executed squat snatch with heavy poundage. Make yourself enjoy these exercises for you know that if you work on them diligently your rewards will more than compensate for all your efforts. This is good conditioning for the development of concentration and proper mental attitude.
For your next exercise we will go through the same motions as the previous one with a slight alteration. Instead of merely raising and lowering yourself into the position you will jump up and drop down into the squat. Practice this jumping exercise by just barely getting your feet off the floor at first, but as you develop your balancing ability and strength you should do it more vigorously. When you are able to jump as high as you can and drop down to the bottom, and “bounce” right up again 10 times with about 65 lbs. you are ready to start the squat style snatch.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Gary has overcome an almost impossible handicap to become a great lifter. Even yet his right side is smaller and weaker than his left, and he is forced to wrap his right hand around the bar with his left in order to grasp it for pulling.
by Peary Rader
When Gary Deal came into the world in 1940, no one realized that here was a new star in the weightlifting world, or that this young fellow would overcome handicaps, considered impossible, to reach the top in his chosen field.
Gary Deal was a normal boy until he was struck down with polio at 10 years of age. This left him with a shriveled and weak right arm, shoulder and right leg. His whole right side was helpless and the only way he could move his right arm was with the aid of his left. Gary showed dogged determination and began to exercise his helpless members with the help of his left side, gradually developing some use of them, but it was a long. slow and often discouraging and painful process.
At the age of 16 Gary saw another kid who, to him, had a big arm, and inquired how he had obtained it, and found that he trained with weights. Gary was six feet tall and weighed but 150, and could get around only with considerable difficulty. When he started training with his first barbell set he could, after some time and hard training, press 85, snatch 70 and jerk 100 pounds. Most of the effort was provided by his good left side. Gradually, with persistent training with a friend, Jim Schwertley, now a priest, he made progress and his weak side began to slowly develop. Jim was a weightlifting and physique champion, and Gary gives much credit to him for his early progress.
Can you imagine a man like this wanting to be a world champion lifter? He is lucky just to be walking around, to say nothing of being even an athlete of any kind. Here was a kid who suddenly acquired a burning desire to succeed and no one could talk him out of it. He paid no attention whatsoever to people, well meaning as they might have been, trying to talk him out of his dream.
Gary was 17 years of age when I first met him at a weightlifting meet in Omaha. I had never heard of him, but noticed he had some sort of handicap. That day he made a total of 470 pounds on the three lifts in the 181 lb. category. In the coming years I got to know Gary quite well and was often in his home where we enjoyed a fine meal cooked by his wife who was so patient and understanding of Gary and his ambitions.
Frankly, I was amazed at what he had already accomplished, and altho I was his good friend, I really could not see him becoming a great lifter. Honestly, I didn’t have the heart to tell him this, and I always tried to encourage him. Amazingly, Gary continued to improve. Oh, I don’t mean he progressed continuously; no, he had bad times when it seemed he had reached his potential’s end, but he never gave up, and eventually made further gains.
Gary began winning the heavyweight title in the Midwestern district, and finally in 1958 he won the National Teenage title in this class while weighing 201, with lifts of 220, 235 and 330. In 1960 he took second place in the Junior Nationals with an 800 total. This was in the 198 lb. class. He later clean & jerked 345 in an Omaha meet. It was about this time that he married and his training was interrupted for a time.
For about two years his progress was almost nil, then he read about and began implementing isometric training. Soon, he made an 875 total with lifts of 265, 260 and 350.
Another period of slow or nonexistent gains followed. He was working very hard and usually trained three or four nights each week. He had always been a splitter, but now decided to learn the squat style. Gary says that he worked hard for two full years on squat technique before he felt that it was a safe and sure style for him. Take note, you fellows who think you should be able to learn this overnight, or believe you are working long and hard to reach your goals.
Gary had been working on various programs. Whenever he would read or hear about the program of some lifter he would try it and as a result he wasted a lot of time, till he eventually found out that every man must work out a program that is best for him and him alone. He began keeping a record of every exercise he performed, every poundage, every set and every rep so he could look back for years and tell exactly what he did at any certain time.
It was about this time that Gary learned of the power rack and went into his basement, cut out the floor, dug down about two feet and then built his own power rack. It was through the use of heavy poundages on the rack that he again made a big spurt ahead in his numbers.
In his power rack work he would do 1 set of 3 reps in each position. He would do about 3 positions on most power rack exercises, placing the pins about a foot apart and then pulling the weight against the top pin and holding the bar against this top pin for about 6 seconds on the 3rd rep.
Gary has always felt that power work was most important for an advanced lifter and that to much practice of the actual Olympic lifts is a waste of time and energy once you have perfected the technique of a lift, and he still follows this practice today.
At that time Gary would do rapid dead lifts to a clean position for 6 sets of 3 on Monday. Then he would go to the press for 3 positions in the rack. On Wednesday he would start with snatch grip high pulls, doing 6 sets of 3 in the rack, then he would do squat snatches by pulling the bar from a position on two chairs as shown in the photo. He also did cleans in this manner. This takes, as well as develops, precise balance, control, and explosive power. He did singles and went up in 10-lb. jumps. He then goes to presses on the rack, then back squats. He may sometimes do some incline pressing with the bench almost vertical. On Friday, lots of pressing in the rack, then the clean in the power rack. On Sunday he did very fast speed presses. The bar shot up like a flash of light and he feels this explosive speed is very important to increasing strength. Gary used to have someone time him and he would try to increase his pressing speed all the time. He is a perfectionist in he fast style of pressing and probably does it as well if not better than any man alive. He then went to squat cleans from the chairs, then to the power rack where he just works on fast pulls, not trying to hold against the pins. Next he goes to back squats and bench presses with a close grip.
This program brought Gary’s poundages up relatively rapidly and we in this area were absolutely thrilled to see the great battle between Gary and another great lifter, Wilbur Miller from Kansas. Unfortunately for Gary, Wilbur always beat him by just a few pounds, usually on the last clean & jerk. It was always Gary’s cherished ambition to beat Wilbur just once, but this was not to be, for Wilbur finally had to give up because of an old back injury suffered when thrown from a horse. Gary reached a 1,000 lb. total at this time.
At this point in his life Gary moved to Washington state and worked on the railroad. His training was interrupted for a time and for about a year nothing much was heard from Gary. Then he got back into training and it was not long until he was making better than a 1,000 total.
Now, you may think that Gary must have always had an easy job. Nothing could be further from the truth. He worked at a feed mill where he had to take 100 pound bags of feed off a conveyor belt and stack them as high as he could reach. This was enormous daily work, yet he still trained and trained hard. He eventually worked his way up to a foreman’s job, which was physically easier but demanded more time. He then went to railroading, and it was hard labor again.
About this time a great change came to Gary. He had accomplished the impossible. He had started with a severe handicap that his friends and numerous doctors had said would make him a weak invalid the rest of his life. By sheer determination and enormous work he had forced his body to grow into a figure of size and power weighing 260 pounds. Gary Deal had worked a miracle on his body with the strength of his mind and the power of his soul.
Some time back Gary called to tell me of his new job as an investment counselor. Using the same drive and determination he applied to his lifting he studied the investment field for some time and embarked on a new career. Within a year he was making several times as much money as he had with the railroad (and that was very good pay itself), and was working only a few hours a day.
Now he had more time to train, and the energy to train harder, and train he did. Gary was doing lots of power work, training a minimum four to five times each and every week. He would do lots of power cleans and power snatches. He was trying for new personal records in the power snatch and power clean every workout. He would squat twice a week and do his limit each workout with 550 to 650 for 5 reps. He would do 5 or more reps in the front squat with 500. He was doing a lot of rack work, especially on the presses, and still putting energy into his speed work. He also runs about a mile per day in about 6 minutes, which he drops before a contest. He does the regular Olympic lifts two weeks before a contest, believing that too much Olympic lift training takes the spark and fire out of his contest lifting. Gary made some changes in his snatch and clean & jerk style. He used to lean far back in the jerk but finally learned to hold a more erect position of the body and thus became able to sustain the jerk better.
Even now, we cannot believe that Gary Deal can lift such tremendous poundages, for here is a man who is still a cripple, outlifting the greatest strong men even though he has to take his crippled right hand and wrap the fingers around the bar with his left hand. At the Senior Nationals this year Gary created a sensation when he beat out Bill March, who was at his lifetime best having pressed 390 in strict military style. Gary came through with a fabulous 445 lb. clean & jerk to take second place in the 242 lb. class and assure himself a coveted place on the world championship team.
We had the opportunity of a long talk with Gary on the phone and he made some suggestions that might be of help to other lifters in their efforts.
He emphasizes the importance of the mental aspect in lifting. Gary says that this is of MAJOR importance. He does not wish to depreciate the physical training that must be done but he says that without the proper mental attitude a lifter will never reach his best.
He points out that he had and still has tremendous handicaps. In addition to having had polio, Gary mentions that he is not exceptionally strong as far as brute force is concerned. Many men in the lower ranks are much stronger. Actually, he has very strong legs, however, as he pointed out, his deadlift is only a little over 600 and he has never been able to bench press 300. How can he lift such huge poundages? By mental concentration and sheer faith in himself to do anything he sets his mind to strongly enough.
In training, Gary recently performed a clean & jerk of 460 lbs. This would classify him with the best in the world in his bodyweight classification. I believe Talts has done 475 in training.
Gary claims that Norbert Schemansky was a mental lifter. He lifted beyond his strength ability and not only that but he maintained his lifting far beyond what anyone else has done – up to well over 40 years of age, and he is still a top performer when he wants to be. Norbert maintained his top performances in spite of two back operations, severe injuries to shoulders and legs, yet still he stayed at the top.
Gary cited numerous lifters who were physical lifters; men with tremendous physical strength, but because they failed to recognize the importance of the mental aspect they never quite reached the top and they usually did not remain top lifters for long if they did. They faded out quickly. Obviously I cannot mention names, but I agree.
He say that one must always work for the present. Never look back or be discouraged by past performances. Only the present is important. He mentioned his trip to York for a meet in which he failed with a 390 clean & jerk but didn’t let that discourage him, and in a short time he made a 445 clean & jerk at the Senior Nationals. Had he looked back and considered that because he had failed with 390 he was through, then he would never have made the 445. Gary says that the future is not important to consider because the future may never come. You may not be here tomorrow, and besides, if you take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself.
Gary does not consider that being a natural athlete is too important. It is your attitude that is very important – confidence in your ability and a belief that anything you dream you can accomplish. He says that confidence comes with having a stable spiritual life, and feels there is no other way to attain it, and cites two other examples of Christian athletes – Knipp and Karchut. Russ Knipp, says Gary, has attained greatness under great physical handicaps. He has atrocious arm lock. He can’t lock his arms at all. His shoulders are not as flexible as they should be and he has atrocious style in the snatch, yet in spite of these and other handicaps Russ has never given up. He has instead become one of the world’s greatest lifters. He has learned the value of complete mental control and a faith the he can do anything he sets his mind to.
As for training routines, Gary says it is a mistake to use someone else’s routine just because it worked for them. Each man is an individual and Must Work Out His Own Training Routines that give him the best results. You cannot become great simply be copying someone else. Of course, you can use another man’s experiences as a guide in preparing your own way, but if you wish to reach your best the you must be a thinking man. You must reason and experiment and work and try. You will fail some, but you will also have successes and you will learn to know yourself.
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- From “Secrets of the Squat Snatch” - Larry Barnho...
- Gary Deal - Peary Rader
- Give Weightless Squats a Chance - Paul Niemi
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