Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Speed & Endurance - Clarence Ross

Speed & Endurance
by Clarence Ross (1953)

The young fellow seated with me in my office looked pretty good, even in his clothes. He wasn’t the usual skinny, underdeveloped beginner, but obviously a person with some athletic background. I could tell that by the firm, fullness of his neck, the way his chest pushed his shirt to the front and by the trim squareness of his waist. His eyes were clear and he was in apparent good health, so I waited for him to begin.

“I would like to train with weights, Mr. Ross,” he said, “but my coach at college feels that weight training will slow me down. I could use a little more weight for football, but not if it is going to interfere with my speed or endurance.”

“What makes you think that weight training will slow you down,” I asked.

“Well, isn’t it true that weight-trained muscles are slow and that they tie up in sports, throwing your timing way off?”

“Of course not!” I roared. And then I caught myself. I was annoyed, naturally, for of all the misconceptions about weight training which still persist, even to this day, despite all the proof offered to the contrary, the one that weight trained muscles are slow and lacking in coordination is the strongest. Still, I realized that here, seated in front of me, was a typical, intelligent, college athlete. If I just blew my top and shouted at him that all talk about slow muscles from weight training was a lot of bunk and had been disproved many times over, why, it wouldn’t have helped matters a bit. So I calmed down, and decided to state some facts instead.

“Your coach probably thinks he is protecting your athletic future,” I said, “but actually he is doing you an injustice and holding you back from fully developing all your sports abilities. Today, the majority of modern coaches agree that weight training can and DOES help athletes in every sport.

“Look at Bob Mathias, the king of the decathlon. He’s proved to the world that he stands as one of the greatest all-around athletes of all time. His muscles are weight trained.

“How about Randy Turpin, the middleweight boxer who was fast enough to win the title from Ray Robinson? Did you know that he is a confirmed weight trainer?”

I noticed that by this time my visitor was showing more than a little interest. Instead of quoting facts and figures, such as those brought out in the now famous Dr. Karpovich
report in which weight trained muscles have been definitely proven to be faster than untrained, I decided to keep my discussion to names known to most sports fans.

“The muscles built by weight training know no physical limits. Name any sport that you want . . . and I’ll point to at least one champion who is a product of weights. In wrestling, the great Killer Kowalski uses weights and have rebuilt his body into a perfect wrestling machine. In golf, Frank Stranahan stands as proof of what weight training can do to make a champion. In the pole vault, we have Rev. Richards; while baseball’s immortal Ted Williams was an enthusiastic weight trainer. Each of the above athletes openly give credit to the part weight training had in their athletic career.

“However, while I could go on indefinitely in citing examples of this sort, suppose we get down to some real facts, ones about speed and endurance which make sense without becoming too technical. After all, what is speed other than power in motion? In other words, there can be no speed without a motor power of some sort. In the body, the muscles provide this power. The better trained the muscles are, the more power they will possess.

“And what is endurance other than a continuation of motor power over a period or time? Endurance is based completely upon body power, for weak muscles cannot possess the reserve energy for sustained action. Only powerful and well-trained muscles can keep going in active sports for some period of time without growing exhausted. So here too, it makes sense to realize that well-trained muscles possess endurance.

“But there is still one other factor . . .coordination. Without coordination you can have all the power in the world and still not be able to use this power efficiently. Since muscular coordination is developed through training the various muscles of the body to work in harmony, it stands to reason that any method of exercise which develops MUSCULAR PROPORTION will give the individual a balanced type of power and extremely good coordination.”

I looked this young fellow. I saw that he was taking it all in and that his face showed some belief. It was now his turn to speak.

“You know, Mr. Ross . . . no one ever explained things this way to me. Most of the fellows I know who train with weights don’t seem to have the answers like you. They just tell me not to believe what I hear, that it’s a lot of bunk and so on. I feel that if more athletes had these facts there would be less criticism about weight training among them. But there is one point you haven’t cleared up as yet.

“While it is true that the bodybuilder is primarily interested in building muscle for the sake of building it, someone like me is more interested in using weights mainly to put
on a bit more muscular weight and build up some power. Would I, the athlete, I mean, train exactly the same as the bodybuilder?”

“I’m glad you brought up that point. No, you would not train the same as a bodybuilder. Since the bodybuilder SPECIALIZES in building muscle, this of course is his first training objective, so he must take workouts which will bring about this goal. On other hand, since the athlete is specializing on a specific sport, practice in this sport should still make up the most of his training. However, by supplementing this direct sports training with weight exercises specifically designed to give him greater power and all-around speed, he will in turn find that weight training will help him in his sport.

“I have always felt that no one can serve two masters at the same time. The out-and-out bodybuilder must dedicate his training to the building of muscles. On the other hand, the athlete must spend most of his time in the practice of his specific sport. But, to gain more power, endurance and speed in his muscles, which he can then convert to greater sports ability, he can benefit from weight training.

“Weights and sports go hand in hand. Each physically augments the other, but the balance between them hinges on whether the individual is interested in furthering his sporting abilities or his physique for bodybuilding. It’s as simple as that.”

It didn’t take much mind reading on my part to see that the young chap was pretty much convinced by what I had said. It was no surprise to me when he said . . . “OK. It all makes sense the way you put it, Mr. Ross. I’ll be in tomorrow for my first workout.”

And it was as simple as that. A few of the right examples and some non-technical common sense, and another athlete had been converted to the use of weights. If you are an athlete you will be interested in learning the exercises I gave to my new pupil, or if you are a bodybuilder who is interested in getting some extra speed, endurance and power from your training, then a few months on this program will help you too.

Train three times a week on nonconsecutive days. Use moderately light poundages, relative to your ability, and perform all the exercises with a fairly fast tempo. Start off with one set of 12 repetitions of each exercise and add a set each week until you are doing three sets of 12.

1.) Squat – Start with weight on shoulders, in standing position. Sink down in a controlled fashion as far as possible, as shown, and then immediately come back to an erect position. Perform these squats with quite a bit of speed on the ascent and do not be afraid to breathe heavily.

2.) Swing Lateral Raise – Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of the body, elbows slightly bent. Swing the weights off to the side and above the head. Lower direct to the sides, expanding chest and breathing in deeply while doing so. You may alternate these with the squats, or perform all sets of the squats before going on to the lateral raises.

3.) Torso Swing – Grasp a single light dumbbell with both hands and hold it in front of the body. Swing the dumbbell to one side, then swing back to the other side as far as possible.

4.) Bridge Press – Lie on ground, legs bent and feet flat on ground. Hold barbell in hands, elbows resting on floor. Now bridge up and press the weight to arms’ length. Lower and repeat from starting position.

5.) Leap Squat – Hold a light pair of dumbbells in the hands while standing erect. Now squat down, similar to exercise number one. Immediately leap up into the air from this position. When feet touch the ground again, sink down into the squat position in a controlled fashion and repeat.

6.) Upright Row – Hold barbell with a close grip at waist. Now, pull the weight to the upper chest, bending back slightly while doing so. Lower and repeat.

7.) Overhead Side Bend – Hold a single dumbell overhead with two hands. Bend over directly to one side, then return to an erect position and bend over to the other side.

8.) Fast Deadlift – Use a weight lighter than your normal deadlift poundage for this. Start as in a regular deadlift with the bar on the ground and hands gripping it. Stand up quickly and bend back very slightly and shrug the shoulders, then follow the weight down and repeat.

9.) Combination Situp & Leg Raise – Lie on ground with arms extended behind the head, knees straight and heels on ground. Swing arms to the front and raise the upper body and legs simultaneously. Lower both and repeat.

Perform all exercises with quite a bit of speed. Breathe deeply and for best results move quickly from set to set and exercise to exercise.

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