Saturday, March 27, 2010
Powerlifting, Part One - Bradley J. Steiner
Powerlifting, Part One
by Bradley J. Steiner
What I have termed the “Key Segments” (legs, back, shoulders and chest) are the foundation stones of a powerful body. It is more important to stress that these areas require full development, instead of emphasizing total concentration on the three powerlifts, because there are many exercises other than these three lifts that contribute to complete development of these areas. What is to be gained by unnecessarily limiting oneself?
This is mainly intended as a bodybuilder’s book. A sensible bodybuilder’s book, I’d add, since the stress is on the development of a physique that gives the appearance of great power because it is, truly powerful. I always turn away from the methods advocating pump, show, and artificially inflated, bloated tissue. Believe me, such methods are only for the foolish. If you want to get the most from this field and derive the fullest measure of physical culture benefits, then you want real, solid, healthy and functional muscle. I stress functional muscle always, since muscles that cannot do anything are similar to toy guns that look real but cannot shoot. What can their value possibly be?
Let us assume then that you seek the limit in power and your finest possible physique, coupled with the rugged health associated with the image of the true strongman. If we are agreed on this as our common goal then we are certainly ready to begin. The path is clear and the possibility of obtaining the goal sought is open to you, provided you are willing to put in the necessary hard work.
For the lifter interested in developing the limit in strength, along with the finest possible muscularity, powerlifting is a must. Super-strength is the result of developing to the limit the body’s muscular capacity for handling tremendous workloads. The most sensible way for a lifter to handle these workloads is through the inclusion of powerlifting in his regular course of physical culture training.
Power has always been admired and greatly respected through the ages. Every culture has had respect for the man of power.
This is a real “how-to-do-it” book. The aim and purpose is to discuss methods, outline courses, and detail training techniques that lead to the development of great strength. There is no easy way to build the power you desire, and there is no shortcut. However, there most assuredly is a right way to train. It is along the lines of the ways described herein. If you follow this plan you will attain your goal of great power.
Your first objective should be understanding. Therefore, give yourself time to read through, comprehend and fully absorb everything contained in this book. Read it through, carefully and with patience. Make sure the concepts sink in. Make sure you grasp the principles. Be certain that you basic questions have been answered before you actually begin training. If you read this book in the careful way suggested you will have no problem in understanding its contents. Everything has been designed to read simply, and every idea has been explained fully.
You will note one thing about my approach that may not be found in other power-training courses and books; that is, I concentrate enormously on the MENTAL ASPECTS of physical training, and that I stress the intensive development of the key segments for the best overall development and performance (as opposed to complete devotion to the three currently accepted powerlifts).
There is simply no way to emphasize fully the importance of the mind in physical training. It is at least 80% of the whole picture. Therefore, unless it is stressed heavily, the student will be bound to fall far short of his full possibilities.
Chapter One: Some Basic Considerations.
The human body can be divided into four basic power segments when considering training for strength. If you make a careful study of the human anatomy you will find that HERE lie the roots of human muscular development potential:
In the leg muscles.
In the back muscles.
In the shoulder girdle.
In the chest area.
Those four areas are the muscle mass areas. That is, the body’s heaviest strongest concentration of thick and power-oriented fibers are located in those four areas. If those four segments are fully developed and coordinated, it naturally follows that the physique will take on great strength and a full development. Formerly, it was urged that leg and back work be the primary mode of training for the lifter with aspirations toward great strength. Yet, this idea must be expanded so that the shoulder girdle and chest area are recognized as the repositories of tremendous additional strength and size potential – which they surely are.
Think for a while about every strong physique man you have seen. Think not only of bodybuilders, but of wrestlers, Olympic weightlifters and so on, men who epitomize full development and great strength. Where do they truly “shine” development-wise? If they are the best in their field they heavy, broad shoulders. They have dynamic power throughout their entire shoulder girdle segment. They have thick, heavy backs. They have mighty legs, and, their chests are deep with great muscularity. Whatever else they may have, they have those four noteworthy areas of development.
The important thing for the lifter to bear in mind is that the four major segments, if they are fully developed, bring about full development in the lesser body areas. This is what always happens when the training method stresses compound exercise as opposed to isolation movements. I am here speaking not necessarily of development with regard to pure bulk. Rather, I am speaking for the development of full, powerful muscularity.
The argument that too much work on the basic, heavy exercises fails to produce a shapely body is utterly false. Heredity, diet, posture, etc. have the final say regarding how “shapely” you eventually look. Your choice of exercise movements, per se, has little to do with this matter of muscle shape. Remember, your muscles don’t “know” what exercise is being used when you train them. Doing heavy military presses works the shoulder girdle. Doing lateral raises also works this area, however, with the basic press you can strive for much greater poundage increments and a more complete and natural muscle involvement, and, as a result you will build much greater strength. The effect on the muscle’s appearance of shapeliness is little affected by the particular exercise you do. In fact, providing your inherent characteristics make you prone towards the “right” appearance when flexed, and provided your diet is right, there is every reason to believe that the heavier and more basic exercises will produce superior “shapeliness.”
This point, again, must be carefully and clearly understood: the type of exercises you do with weights will have an effect on the development of a muscle’s size and usefulness, and a muscle’s power and strength. But, the effect upon its appearance of shapeliness is negligible. Diet and heredity mean everything here, and since diet is the only factor under your control, I suggest you begin to appreciate its importance.
Think of exercise as a basically simple but brutally hard aspect of your program to develop strength and size. Don’t ever make the mistake of believing in some strange, “secret” programs or any other such nonsense. And above all, do not think that the training is everything! It is vitally important, power and strength won’t be built without it and the physique cannot be built unless workouts are done seriously, yet: when all is told the exercise program is the simplest part of the overall course of action. It must be blended harmoniously with other items. The coming chapters will explain each item and teach you how to coordinate their employment for your maximum benefit.
Back to those Key Segments again.
Legs, Back, Shoulders and Chest. Remember them and impress their importance upon your mind. Then consider the following . . .
The fundamental method of working the legs is by having them do a “Push Away” type of movement. That is, when, for example, you squat, you are pushing, basically, with the legs. This effort of pushing is made more difficult by increasing the weight on the bar. The harder you push, the greater the developmental effort. The shoulders and chest function as “Push Away” groups, too. Presses (overhead and bench) are basically push movements. Lying laterals require a push or forward-thrusting type motion, etc. The back “Pulls”. Rowing is a “Pull To” movement. So is deadlifting. So is cleaning. So is snatching. Chest, shoulders and legs PUSH. Back PULLS. Remember that.
From that basic working principle of the muscles derives the basic developmental principle. The greatest exercises are the ones that cause the greatest basic effort.
The core powerlifts – deadlift, squat and bench press – are, naturally, extremely valuable, and I’d say even essential to an effective all-round strength-building program. Yet, there are many other exercises and exercise variations that need to be understood and applied in training. You will learn many, and you’ll be taught how to apply them. Standing presses, for example, while not considered “powerlifts” are a 100% necessity for overall shoulder girdle development. That’s just one example. There are many more.
It is not enough merely to concentrate upon the key segments of the body to effectively assure the attainment of our goal. It is necessary to work those segments to their utter limit. This does not mean that every workout should be a maximum effort, but it does mean that from time to time the limit attempt must be made. Otherwise, there will be no progress. Training, in other words, FLUCTUATES. It does not continue on an ever-increasing, steadily upward, straight-line climb. It begins, builds up, hits a maximum effort-output, then drops back so that you can recuperate. And then it starts that upward climb again, towards a new maximum.
It is crucially important that you, as a student of physical training, understand this clearly. Otherwise, you will expect progress to continue indefinitely, which it of course cannot do. This leads to great disappointment, as I have found with many students. Better to accept the fact that Nature has her own way of permitting you to progress towards your objectives, and let it go at that. Don’t try to impose some idea you might have, in all your wisdom, about “the right way to progress” upon your body. Adjust to Nature’s way. She won’t adjust to your way. Instead, learn all you can about the ways of nature recuperating and regenerating and work within the sanity of this framework.
Your plan of training, then, will center about the maximum development of the key segments of your musculature. It will proceed by working up towards new limits of effort output, and it will stress concentration of effort on the basic exercises. There may be some other work devoted to the balancing and strengthening of the other muscle groups via lighter and lesser assistance movements, but for the most part you will train simply, heavily and sensibly. You will find, when you do, that so long as your diet is right the “lesser” muscle groups will almost “fall” into place, development-wise, with only relatively little attention. Unquestionably, this carryover benefit of the bigger exercises for the lesser muscle attachments is one of the greatest virtues of such a mode of approach in training.
The squat, as a basic body exercise, serves as a truly perfect example of just what a basic movement, properly worked, can accomplish for you . . .
The squat might normally be considered a leg exercise, and a superlative leg exercise it undeniably is. There is no other movement you can do that even approaches the squat in leg-building value (except, of course, front squats, which are, after all, SQUATS!). Okay, so the squat is great for the legs. Why is its carryover value so great?
The squat, when employed as I shall teach you to employ it in this book, achieves the following:
1.) Tremendous development of the entire leg structure.
2.) Tremendous development of the hip (gluteus) muscles.
3.) Fantastic gains in bodily endurance, cardiovascular efficiency and all-round “inner strength.”
4.) Great expansion in the chest – superior by far to what even a program of specialization on pullovers could achieve.
5.) Expansion in the shoulder girdle, thus increasing enormously the potential for upper body gains.
6.) Increase in one’s SENSE of power, in one’s overall, basic FEELING of physical prowess.
7.) Increase in one’s psychological willpower.
8.) Development to a significant degree of the lower (lumbar) back muscles.
I’ve always been a squat nut so I naturally had to pick the squat as a good example. But what about, say, deadlifting? This particular movement will:
1.) Build grip and forearm strength (as well as size) to an extent that will surprise you, if you work hard on the movement.
2.) Develop low back muscles AND upper back muscles that are literally rock hard and as strong as spring steel.
3.) Develop the hips and legs by the partial squat action entailed by the performance of a deadlift movement.
4.) Build endurance.
5.) Stimulate general strength gains throughout the entire body.
Are you beginning to see the treasure house of benefits awaiting you when you adopt a schedule of training along the lines I am advocating?
The basic bench press develops triceps infinitely better (and safer) than any triceps “specialization” exercise you may have seen or read about. It builds great frontal deltoid strength and power, helps to increase the wrist and grip strength, and enormously affects the hefty pectoral muscles, as well as expansion of the chest cavity.
That accounts for only the BASIC THREE power lifts. But we’re concerned with TOTAL physique development – the UTMOST – possible. There are other basics we’ll be working with.
The type of training we are concerned with in this book is the type that produces every desirable physical quality. You seek not only a powerlifter’s strength but a bodybuilder’s shapeliness, and an athlete’s coordination. Therefore your plan must be rounded. BASIC, to be sure, but rounded, to achieve the goals desired.
Remember that the key segments must be worked in two fundamental ways to produce the sort of physique we are trying to build. First, each segment must be fully developed by specific concentration upon IT. Then, the basic segments must “learn” to work together, fighting gravity and poundages, so that all-out limit attempts involving coordination can be made.
If the purpose of this book were merely to make a powerlifter out of you, then we might deal solely with the basic three lifts. But you need, and will get, more.
When the body is worked in this well-rounded way you end up, after putting in the necessary sweat and toil, with the enviable status of having a body without any weak links. You will more than likely find that one of the powerlifts becomes your favorite, and that there are one or two other basic training movements that your particular structure favors – but because nothing is essentially neglected, you’ll not end up like some unfortunate men who follow too-limited methods and have, as a result, fantastic development in one area, but next to none in some other areas.
So, before going on to our next chapter, in which you will come to understand some more important factors in strength development, let me urge you to always think in terms of total, rounded, balanced and complete development. Even if you only think, right now, that one body area or one physical quality is your true goal, concentrate on full development of the body-machine that you have possession of at this time. This will give you lasting, lifetime power, a fine physique, and the athletic capacity to do anything you wish and everything you must.
Study this book carefully. Each section was designed to provide a clear lesson in itself, and each will contribute tremendously to the course of your progress. I therefore suggest that you be certain of your understanding of this first chapter before passing on to the next. Remember, our key points here are . . .
UNDERSTAND the key segments for power-bodybuilding and how they basically function as either PUSH or PULL groups.
UNDERSTAND the need for a basic and essentially HARD form of training that FLUCTUATES, for best results.
UNDERSTAND the need for BALANCED, total training and development.
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- Powerlifting, Part One - Bradley J. Steiner
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