Sunday, May 30, 2010

If You’re 40 or Older - Fred Grace

Bill Good, 75

If you’re 40, you need power like a frog needs a pogo stick. Like a kangaroo needs patch pocket pants. At 50, a 500 pound squat has one-five-hundredth of the health-giving quality of 500 reps with 100 pounds on the bar. At 60, a 600 pound deadlift is just a down payment on a wheelchair, but 20 mile runs or 700 rep workouts with 100 pounds on the bar mean a 20 year, or longer, reprieve from the so-called “rest” home.

From 40 on, what one needs is endurance and flexibility. We are old, physically, when any exertion makes us huff and puff like that wolf in the kids’ story. We are old when we creak like a wind-dried bamboo chair. Some people are old at a young age, no?

I knew a man who, at age 32, couldn’t stoop to tie his own shoes. At 74 I take five to six 15-mile runs a week. Other times I run four 35 to 40 milers. During all my runs I see men in their 50’s and 60’s limping along like a chair with a short leg. Their bodies are about as flexible as a squat bar.

Before I leave on my runs I take a flexibility workout. I do 100 reps each of side bends, forward bends and back bends. I do 100 twists to each side. Then I work on my legs. Running develops great endurance but affords only limited flexibility. I do 100 leg raises with each leg to the front, side and back. The flexibility exercises I do not only help to keep one flexible but add to one’s endurance as well.

Doing 100 reps in any exercise is not doing 10 sets of 10 curls, barbell or French.

Later in the day I take an upper body workout. A shoulder problem has kept me from the weights for months, but I can use elastic expanders with very little discomfort in the interim. I take 20 to 30 reps of every exercise I do, and three to four sets of each.

The long workouts and the high reps have given me unusual leanness and muscle tone for an “old” man in his 70’s. I have more cuts than a Boy Scout’s knife and feel like a kid at a picnic.

If you have the will you’ll find time to start training for a rosy life in your sunset years. In the beginning, train, don’t strain, or you’ll give up before you realize results. If you’re WAY out of shape, jog an easy 25 yards in the beginning. Eventually you’ll make that into 25 miles.

I’ve developed my endurance to the point where I can run for hours and recover completely in minutes. It just takes a little walking after a long run to relax. On days when I don’t run I take long walks to stay loose. It’s disuse that robs us of our endurance and flexibility.

And remember, it’s better to push ourselves than depend on others to push our wheelchairs.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Two Tom Platz Leg Routines - Don Ross

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A Tom Platz Leg Routine
by Don Ross (1978)

The full squat is the main exercise here. It gets the entire thigh, front and back, along with the gluteus maximus. With a weight of between 200-250 pounds, Tom does ten minutes of continuous squatting. Sometimes as many as 150 reps are achieved, but the number of reps doesn’t matter; the idea is to keep moving continuously. After a three to four minute rest, it’s time for a second set of ten minutes of squatting.

The next exercise is hack squats, supersetted with leg extensions. This is done for four sets of 20 reps. Tom then goes to eight sets of leg curls, each set done until no more reps can be performed.

For the calves, Platz does ten sets of 15-20 reps of calf raises, each rep done slowly with a full stretch at the bottom and tensing hard at the top. “The important thing is that your mind in into it,” says Tom. “Just bobbing up and down won’t do much.”

Tom’s off-season routine is much more tame, though still a killer. He begins with two sets of full squats, using from 400-475 pounds, for 15-20 reps. He concludes his thigh work with four sets of 6-10 reps of hack squats, then works his calves with the same ten sets of 15-20 reps of calf raises.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How They Train, Part Two

Paul Anderson

How They Train, Part Two

I would like to condense the general training principles which seem to stand out from our observations and discussions, then give an example of a basic strength-building routine I have been using, geared towards the Olympic lifts.

Agility and Athletic Ability

Do not neglect this important part of training. Don’t forget that most champion lifters were pretty athletic when they first started out, and this athletic ability revealed their promise. Unfortunately, some lifters neglect their other athletic pastimes and become little less than “muscle machines” resulting in slower improvement in any quick lifts and development of power. Don’t be afraid of running, jumping, tennis, swimming, etc. on off days. Even if these activities are a little tiring they won’t make your muscles weaker but will make them more supple and coordinated and more responsive to heavier training.

A seasoned lifter should think of himself as an athlete, not as a crane. It takes a real athlete to snatch 280 pounds at a 148 bodyweight. The same should be true of heavier lifters and in most cases is. Before training spend at least 15 minutes limbering up – toe touching, trunk twisting, leaping into the air, running short distances, loosening shoulders, hips, etc. Then do deep splits, squats and stretches. This warm up will help prevent muscle injuries and make the muscles soft and supple.

Power Movements

One of the most important factors in training is the development of maximum pulling power. How can a lifter hope to snatch 250 if he can’t do a high pull in good style with snatch grip with at least 280, or clean 320 if he can’t do a decent high pull with 360? There may be exceptions to this rule due to fantastic coordination or style, but I am not dealing with exceptions.

Don’t forget Vlasov can pull 550 lbs. to his chest and he cleans 464. Baszanowski can power snatch 242½ three times. No wonder he can snatch 293, and so it goes. The more you can pull the more you can lift. Of course if you are a squatter you must develop sufficient leg power to recover from the heavy squat, and if you are a splitter, a heavy lunge.

Planning a Training Schedule

We discussed with the Russians the problems of how often to train and they told us that they recommend four times a week in most cases: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Workouts last between two and three hours. I must point out, however, that according to our observations, the whole of the three hours is not spent lifting, but at least one hour is used for changing, warming up thoroughly, and loosening up after training. Actually 1½ to 2 hours is spent lifting. They do not rush between attempts, but take their time. THEY DO NOT SIT DOWN, but keep walking around and limbering up for the next attempt.

Mekhanik advised only three or four movements per training session. The four training sessions are different. Athletes must not be too rigid in their training but allow their moods to dictate their workouts. If a lifter is rather tired it is better for him to have a light workout such as light presses, light power snatches, and fast light squats than to through a heavy workout with top poundages. By having a light workout he allows muscles to recuperate but at the same time keeps them active. A heavy workout would only tire his muscles further and retard his recuperation, leaving him more tired for his next training session. A lifter should feel eager to train, otherwise his workouts are not well planned for his constitution, and he gets more and more sluggish, thereby restricting his possible progress.

Since my return from Vienna I have been working on the following schedule. This program is set up for a splitter in both lifts, but can easily be reworked for a squatter mainly be switching from lunge-style movements to squat-style. (I have put these changes in brackets.)

This schedule does not include much performance of the three lifts as I am now trying to increase my basic strength, making the routine a fine one for a trainee wishing to do the same while using mainly Olympic assistance movements. Every morning I spend about 20 minutes doing agility exercises and shadow lifting with a broomstick to improve my style, coordination, timing, etc.

The press has been place at the middle of the workouts to give me more emphasis on the fast lifts, which I have experienced slow progress on over the last ten years. Remember that a routine such as this can easily be tailored to an individual’s needs after determining what they are and doing a bit of head-work.

Pressing first every workout has the following results. During the first year of training the lifter uses rather low poundages which do not tire his back muscles or shoulders unduly so that his press keeps improving for a while and the fast lifts are not adversely affected. However, as the press improves heavier poundages are handled and the back and pressing muscles are taxed unduly at every training session. Then the press begins to stick and improvement on the fast lifts becomes almost impossible. The press sticks because the pressing muscles never get a chance to recuperate. The fast lifts suffer because the lifter is never fresh for snatching and cleaning. Overhead pressing involves the back muscles to a great degree, something to consider when designing programs.

In South Africa the majority of our lifters press between 20 and 60 lbs. more than they can snatch. I contend this is because of the reasons stated above. I can think of at least a dozen lifters who snatched better than they pressed early in their careers, then the press phobia took over and five years later their snatch had become hopeless in comparison with their press. Don’t forget there is more to developing complete body strength than just pressing followed by a few halfhearted pulls and squats. By pressing in the middle of the workout the press will not suffer but, as proved by the Russians, will most probably improve.

I am sticking my neck out here, but I feel that many lifters fall in the trap of being too conventional in their training methods. It is important to experiment and try out new ideas. Tommy Kono is known to experiment a lot with his training.


Power Snatch : 7 sets of 3’s, 2’s, 1’s.
High Clean : 5 sets of 2’s, 1’s.
Seated Press : 7 sets of 3’s, 2’s.
Lunges (Squats or Front Squats) : 5 sets of 3’s.


Power Clean : 7 sets of 3’s, 2’s, 1’s.
Jerk from Racks : 5 sets of 2’s, 1’s.
Seated Press : 5 sets of 3’s, 2’s.
Lunges (Squats of Front Squats) : 4 sets of 3’s.


Cleans : 7 sets of 2’s, 1’s.
Push Press (from racks) : 5 sets of 2’s, 1’s.
High Snatch : 5 sets of 2’s.
Light Presses (from racks) : 5 sets of 3’s.


Press from Racks : 5 sets of 2’s.
Power Clean (snatch grip) : 5 sets of 2’s, 1’s.
Squats : 5 sets of 3’s.
Bench Press or Incline Press : 5 sets of 2’s.


Perfection of lifting technique in any of the weight disciplines is essential in order to use basic strength to the maximum. Proper style can make a great difference in your personal bests, a fact that should become more and more obvious over time.

Style in the Olympic lifts is a combination of speed, timing and ability to go into a low position. For the development of speed and timing, shadow lifting with a broomstick is ideal. Shadow lifting, if carried out every day will develop reflex action. By this I mean that a perfect snatch with low position will become second nature, and will become so ingrained in the mind that the applying of maximum effort will not disturb the pattern of the movement. I think we have all seen lifters with good style (apparently so on low poundages) suddenly lose all coordination on a heavy lift. This is due to the mind not being sufficiently impressed with the pattern of the lift.

When snatching with a weight, only 20 to 30 repetitions are done and some of them are far from perfect. With a broomstick hundreds of reps can be performed and perfection attained. FEAR OF THE WEIGHT CAN ALSO AFFECT COORDINATION AND THIS IS USUALLY DUE TO FAULTY TRAINING I.E. REGISTERING TOO MANY FAILURES IN TRAINING.

Young lifters particularly should never be allowed in training to attempt lifts which they have only a slight hope of making. A special day each month should be set aside for trying out maximum lifts. This can either be a small competition or a training session selected in advance.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How They Train: A Report from the World Championships - C. D. deBroglio

Bruce White of Australia, weighing 148½, made an official world record in the deadlift of 611½ pounds at 26 years of age.

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How They Train: A Report from the World Championships
by C. D. deBroglio (March, 1962)

NOTE: The following article is taken from “The Australian Weightlifter” and was originally written by Mr. Oehley and Mr. deBroglio of the South African Weightlifter’s Assn. This is one of the most informative articles about how other countries train their lifters and we thought that readers of Lifting News would receive a great deal of benefit from it.

In this article they discuss the world championships and the lifters they observed training, and tell of some of their visits with top lifters regarding training methods.

We feel this is one of the most important and significant articles we have published and believe you will feel the same.

I arrived in Vienna on the 14th September. We had our first training session on Friday the 15th with the Iranians and Colombians. The Iranians were very impressive and SERIOUS. They had about 30 supporters who had come to see them train as there is apparently a large Iranian student community in Vienna. There were only two Colombian lifters, a lightweight and a middleweight. We shared a bar with them. The unknown Colombian lightweight, Peres, proceeded to shatter our standards by pressing 264½. Then the shocks started. Two of the Iranians whom we did not recognize and who looked like a light-heavy and a mid-heavy, were snatching in the region of 300 pounds!

It turned out that one of them was Boromand who placed 4th in mid-heavy with a 980 total and a 308½ snatch. The very next minute the feather-weight Elmkhah, did an easy clean & jerk with 297½, then 308½, just missing with 319½. Their CONFIDENCE and LACK OF RESPECT for HEAVY POUNDAGES started to rattle me. They did not look faster, stronger, more intelligent, and yet they outlifted our best by many pounds.

After the Olympic lifting, all the Iranians pulled out their CANVAS STRAPS and proceeded to do high pulls with wide, then narrow grips. These straps are 1” wide canvas belting, ⅛” thick. the canvas is about 24” long with a loop in the middle to put the hands through. The two ends are then wrapped around the bar inside the hands and with a slight twisting of the fingers, made very tight. When pulling, all the strain is placed on the wrist and the hands do not hurt. This allows lifters to train REGULARLY on their pull without developing a psychological HATE for the exercise. I know many lifters who shirk heavy high pulls because of sore hands and I am one of them. Immediately on my return I made a pair of these straps and tried them out on my first workout. The high pulls were a real pleasure to perform. I feel that THIS SIMPLE PIECE OF INEXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT IS A MUST FOR ALL LIFTERS.

I was so impressed by the standard of lifting that I power cleaned 264½, my best ever, and then foolishly copied the Iranians with high pulls working up to 341 for 3 reps. I had never handled this sort of poundage before and was so stiff afterwards that I could not have a proper workout again until I lifted a week later.

The Iranians did high pulls until 3 days before they lifted. The feather, Elmkhah, at the end of his workout, was doing sets of 5 reps on high snatch pulls with 198¼ lbs. and then going down into a squat snatch on the 6th rep. The Iranians seem to train VERY HARD and rather differently from the Russians. They do not seem to put as much stress on suppleness and agility, although THEY WARM UP VERY THOROUGHLY.

The next day we heard that the Russians had arrived so we rushed to the gym. We got there before they did and found some of the Iranians training AGAIN, doing squats, press from stands, etc. Then the whole Russian team arrived. They stripped in the gym and we were impressed with the physiques of Vlasov, Stepanov, Kurinov and Minaev. Lopatin looked rugged but not very impressive. However, they all had one thing in common. They looked SUPPLE, SOFT, AND AGILE.

They all put on elastic belts about 4” wide under their lifting costumes (so did the Iranians) – they seemed to be used as a support for the lower back muscles, as well as a leather belt. They then proceeded to warm up. They did a combination of shadow weightlifting with broom sticks, sprinting, gymnastics, ballet dancing, high jumping and the S.A.B.C. daily dozen.

Vlasov was probably the most supple. In fact he looked almost double jointed. He stretched all his muscles, from his neck to his wrists and his back. This was the most instructive part of their training, especially when we found out that this phase of their training is carried out on the off days as well.

It was remarked that competitors like Minaev, Vorobyev and Stogov, although old, looked fresh, supple and completely free of injuries, sore knees, etc. After about 20 minutes of warming up they started on the weights.

The surprising thing is that they did not start pressing. They all did different lifts. Stogov and Minaev did a few sets of power snatches, then snatches. Kurinov did power cleans and push presses, all very fast. Vlasov did sets of 2’s up to 380 in the press. We realized later that he did his presses first because he was not snatching that day, nor cleaning. He only did presses, high pulls up to 550, incline bench presses and squats. He pulled the 550 up to his chest using the canvas straps. None of the Russians worked high on the press in that workout. They seemed to be concentrating on snatching and cleaning.

Another interesting point is that they do 3 or 4 sets on 132 to get warm and then jump to a much higher weight without wasting energy on intermediate poundages. For example, Kurinov did about 4 sets of 2’s in the snatch with 220, then went straight to 275 for a single and 286 for another. Minaev would jump from 132 to 198. Vlasov took 220 for his warm up sets then straight up to 303.

They all rested the next day and then trained on the Monday again, except Stogov, who just played with a broomstick, as he was lifting on Wednesday. The Russian coaches were there during the workout and merely made notes of poundages handled, observing styles at the same time.

On the rest days, the Russians spent about 30 minutes in the morning doing handstands, press-ups, broad jumps, floor dips, shadow lifting with a broomstick, etc. On training days they only do the shadow lifting for about 15 minutes in the morning.

One of the most impressive lifters was Palinski. He is a very handsome, rugged individual who snatched 286 easily and toyed with a 386 clean & jerk. He did not split more than 8” for the clean and jerked it, lowered it behind his neck, then jerked it again – by far the most impressive lift we saw in training. He faithfully recorded every lift in his training book which he keeps very methodically. Another sensational training effort was 3 power snatches with 242½ by Baszanowski, Polish lightweight.

On their second workout the Russians worked on the press and the clean. Minaev pressed 242½ easily for 3 singles. Kurinov worked up to 308½ in good style and cleaned 374 – a very beautiful lift. He looked in fantastic shape. Vorobyev cleaned 386, but looked rather flat. At the end of their workout they again spent about 15-20 minutes loosening up: jumping, running, fast squats, shadow lifting with broomsticks, etc.

The Americans and Japanese arrived on Sunday (rather late I thought). Vinci, Berger and Kono all trained on Monday which was their last workout. We missed them through transport trouble. On Tuesday, Jim George, Dick Zirk and Sid Henry trained. Their training was very conventional – 7 sets of presses, 7 sets of snatches, and about 8 clean and jerks. THEY DID NOT WARM UP VERY MUCH, and they paid very little attention to style. They just tried to get the whole weight up and registered LOTS OF FAILURES, contrary to the Russians, Poles, Japanese etc. Jim George had four hopeless attempts on 396 clean & jerk – in the competition he only managed 374. The Americans did not seem to be very scientific about their training.

We became very friendly with Mekhanik, one of the Russian coaches who works at the weightlifting institute in Moscow. He did not do any coaching at the championships but just watched the proceedings. He holds the Left Hand Snatch world record at 192 in the lightweight division (quite a lift). He was very friendly and gave us lots of training tips. When I asked him for a general training program, he said it was impossible as every athlete was different and liked different exercises. He said he would give me a course after he saw me lift. I was surprised to see him at the side of the platform every time I came off after a lift. He saw a lot of mistakes in all my lifts; bad starting position for the press, too erect under the weight and he suggested more lay back and DROPPING OF THE SHOULDERS. In the snatch and clean he criticized my starting position, buttocks not low enough and back too rounded and BACK TOO ROUNDED, CAUSING THE WEIGHT TO TRAVEL FORWARD, poor pull due to lack of high pulls and also lack of flexibility of the hips and thighs to go into a low split.

He suggested that I should snatch and clean first in my workouts at least twice a week, doing sitting presses, incline presses, or presses from a stand at the end of a workout. This more or less confirmed the general training methods of the Russians, Iranians, Poles etc.

It was further emphasized by Louis Martin with whom we had a long chat a couple of days before he lifted. His workout goes something like this:

Monday –
Press : 145x3, 145x3, 220x2, 250x2, 270x2, 285x1, 300x1,1,1.
Snatch : Concentrating on technique, working up to 250.
High Clean : 320 up to 410 in 5 sets of 2.
Front Squat : sets of doubles and singles, 300-420.

Wednesday –
Snatch : sets of doubles and singles up to 300.
Incline Press : 6 sets of doubles and singles, 280-350.
Jerk from stands : singles, 300, 350, 80, 400, 420.

Friday –
Power cleans : up to 280, then Cleans up to 380-390, 10 sets.
Push press : from stands, up to 340.

Sunday –
Squat snatch : from chest position.
Full squats : and a couple of other optional movements such as the High snatch and Bench Press.

As you see from this workout, Louis tried to avoid using the same muscle group two workouts in succession. After talking to him you realize how much thought he has given to his training. He is absolutely dedicated and did not leave the camp from the day he arrived until the day he went to the hall to lift.

He told us that he has never seen any lifting at world’s championship from bantams to light-heavies. The other top grade lifters who place in the first six all have the same attitude. They do not watch any lifting until they go on. Otherwise they would have late nights and also lose nervous energy watching the record attempts, etc.

An interesting point is that all Russian lifters rested for the whole day in their rooms the day before they competed. You would never see the Russian feather on the day the bantams were lifting nor the lightweight on the day the feathers were lifting, etc. Vorobyev seemed to actually disappear for a couple of days. He was probably a bit off form and rested more than the others. The day they lift they act normally, walk around, play chess, etc. A lot of trainers will be interested to know that WE NEVER SAW ANY LIFTERS EXCEPT THE AMERICANS AND PHILIPPINES TAKING ANY FOOD SUPPLEMENT (protein, vitamins, etc.). Most seem to rely entirely on training, rest and ordinary wholesome food. Very few lifters smoked before the contests. Palinski was one exception, about 6-10 cigarettes a day.

continued . . .

Friday, May 21, 2010

Squat, the Key Lift - Bill Clark

Squat, the Key Lift
by Bill Clark (1962)

The squat has been labeled a monster by the Journal of American Medical Association (Aug. 1961) and by Prof. Karl Klein of the University of Texas in Sports Illustrated (March 12, 1962). Coaches across the country, who once used squats as a conditioner, now shun it with alarm. I offer myself as proof that the squat is a valuable exercise, and is not harmful if properly done. You never send a baseball pitcher out in the spring to throw full game the first day. He works hard doing pushups, lifting dumbells, running, chinning and throwing for hours at half speed before he is ready to toss a high, hard one. The same applies to the squat.

During the summer months I spend most of my evenings crouched behind the plate as a baseball umpire. My position ranges from full squat to half squat. In an average nine-inning game, I’ll crouch no less than 300 times, and often will make quick movements from that position. Working a two-man system means the plate umpire is continually running. A man’s legs must be both strong and flexible to withstand 100 to 150 games a summer, most of them behind the plate.

I received a badly damaged knee in high school some 14 years ago. Though the knee hurt considerably no one checked it. Today, when I grow lazy and do not work with the weights the knee still troubles me. Only by squatting and running am I able to hold up an entire summer on the ball field.

Since squatting is both fun and helpful, I’ve made it my pet lift. My immediate goal is a 600-lb. squat by this coming August. Last August my personal best was 410. Here’s one man’s method of progressive training to keep the legs and knees in condition and make a name for yourself to boot.

To get the muscles loose and the blood flowing, walk or run three miles. The run need only be a slow run and the walk should be a heel-and-toe walk. I prefer the latter. When I don’t run or walk, I try to box 3 to 6 rounds before working out. In case I do none of the three, I start the workout with a set of abdominal raises on an inclined board without touching back or shoulders to the board. Usually 30 reps are sufficient.

Then I take 275 and do half-squats (parallel), then full squats, little rest between warmup sets. Next I take 315 and do 10 reps in the normal squat. This is with feet as wide apart as the shoulders and toes pointed straight ahead or slightly pigeon-toed. Heels are flat on the floor and often squats are done barefooted. I never use a heel board.

After these 10 reps I take 365 and do five reps in the half-squat from the bottom. This means coming only halfway up, then returning to the full squat position. Using the same weight I often try (often without success) to do five reps in the breathless squat. When the full squat position is reached, it is held and all the breath is exhaled. Then return to normal standing position. (A paused full squat with bottom exhalation and return to top on empty lungs.)

Move the weight then to 415 and do three reps in the double squat. Go down full, but return only halfway to standing. Then go full again and stand all the way. Do this three times. Jump to 450 and see how many times you can execute a double squat. Jump to 470 and do as many reps in the normal squat as possible. I try a maximum squat once every two weeks.

Now comes the top end. Go 50 pounds more than your maximum and do two sets of half-squats or lower with that weight. Move to 600 and do the same, then to 650 and do the same, maybe making only quarter-squats here. Jump to 750, 800, 850, 900, doing quarter-squats, as many as possible.

Go next to the hack lift. Warm up with 455, doing five reps. Jump to 500 and try to get 10 reps. Go next to 550 and try to make 4 reps. Single rep at 600, if possible.

This should be, and is, a long, hard workout. But it has allowed me to jump from 410 to 505 in five months of working out on an irregular schedule. Start with weights you can handle accordingly. Be your own boss. Let your ability determine what weight you should use and don’t get in too big a hurry. Big mistake. You must be progressive in your training, just like a baseball pitcher. Work three times a week for best results.

I’ve set the following goals for myself by August:
600 squat / 700 hack / 500 Zercher / 425 one-handed deadlift.
It will be interesting to see if this routine will make it. Also, to see if my knees collapse.

Pulling Power - Doug Hepburn

Pulling Power’s Contribution to the Three Olympic Lifts
by Doug Hepburn (1962)

When viewing the three Olympic lifts in their entirety it is generally concluded that pulling power is the vital essential. This assumption is further strengthened by the fact that it is more difficult to shoulder maximum poundage than to fix this same weight overhead. Fortunately, the muscle groups involved in the elevating of a barbell to the shoulders respond readily to the correct exercise movements. The aforementioned muscles are recognized as the largest and strongest in the human body, so it follows that proportionate increases can be made in the poundages lifted.

Regardless of the degree of pulling power developed one must not overlook the importance of muscle-coordination as applied to cleaning and snatching. An all too common error made by the aspiring weightlifter is to overemphasize the strength factor through the performance of a wide variety of assistance exercise movements at the expense of actual cleaning and snatching. Such a practice invariably culminates in a retardation of the increase in Olympic Total.

Numerous lifters make the mistake of adopting training routines used by the various world champions. “What is good for Schemansky or Vlasov is good enough for me” seems to be the opinion held by a good many as yet unpolished and inexperienced weightlifters.

Such an attitude is similar to a novice pilot attempting to fly a supersonic jet plane.

It is to be remembered that men like Schemansky and Vlasov HAVE ALREADY ACQUIRED an impeccable lifting technique coupled with overall basic body power in the Olympic lifts. This was not accomplished in mere months of training as any informed lifter knows. In short: concentration should be directed upon the assistance exercises (as in the cases of Vlasov and Schemansky) only after a solid foundation of lifting technique and strength has been acquired.

By this I do not mean that the trainee should discard the performance of assistance exercises, but what I do mean is that the said exercises must be regarded as secondary and that mental and physical effort should be directed mainly upon the a actual lifts and that the assistance movements be regarded as secondary in the effort application.

A diamond has to be cut before it is polished. Let this serve as the credo of the dedicated and aspiring weightlifter.

I am of the opinion that the potential of unadulterated pulling power has never been fully explored. I see no reason whatsoever why a 450-lb. clean or more could not be accomplished. This accomplishment would entail a good many years of application to pulling weights from floor level to the shoulders. Such a training routine would be designed so that the actual power clean movement and the other directly connected assistance exercises would form the bulk of the exercise period.

It goes without saying that if a lifter could succeed with the 450-plus power clean that with the application of the cleaning technique (such as is used in international meets) a 500-plus clean would indeed be within the realm of possibility. One could even say (after viewing the tremendous increase in the poundages lifted in the Olympic Three in the last ten years that as far as weightlifting records are concerned the “impossible” is an entirely flexible conception.

The following is a training routine designed to promote maximal pulling power. If, in the future, anyone succeeds with a 450-plus power clean I am certain that the training routine used will be very similar to this one.


Perform five consecutive repetitions pulling the bar from the hang position in front of the body to the shoulders (position the bar on the shoulders just as in pressing or cleaning before lowering).

This movement is to be performed without unlocking the knees or moving the back. In other words, the movement is accomplished with the utilization of the arms and shoulders only.

Increase the weight, performing one single repetition at each increase until a failure is experienced in shouldering. Poundage increases should not exceed ten pounds during this phase of the exercise. It is important that the body remains in the position explained during all the movements, especially the heavier ones.

After the failure to clean is experienced, commence bending the knees and utilizing the back by bending the upper body forward at the commencement of the pulling movement. This alteration of the pulling movement brings into play the muscles of the thighs and lower back, thus increasing the pulling ability – consequently the bar can now be shouldered with the poundage previously failed with.

Perform a series of single repetitions increasing the weight ten to fifteen pounds at each increase until a failure is experienced in shouldering. The back and legs are to be utilized to a greater degree as the weight is increased so that when the near limit is reached the bar is being lowered well below the knees.

Take the poundage failed with and clean from floor level (the bar is not to be resting on the floor prior to cleaning). When shouldering the bar from the floor do not split or dip as you would normally do when cleaning in the Olympic fashion.

Continue on in this manner, increasing the weight ten to fifteen pounds each single rep until a failure in shouldering is encountered. After the bar cannot be shouldered, continue to increase the poundage ten to twenty pounds each succeeding repetition and perform regular high pull movements., gradually to lower and lower heights, consummating with a limit, or near limit, deadlift.

It is recommended to perform a series of sets of Deep Knee Bends after the Power Clean, High Pull, and Deadlift routine is completed. When executing the Deep Knee Bends it is important that the spacing of the feet be identical to that utilized when Cleaning and High Pulling. In this way the muscles associated to Cleaning will receive the ultimate benefit. A good way to ascertain the suitable spacing of the feet is to place them just as when attempting a standing broad jump. In some cases the heels will a tendency to rise off the floor when the low Deep Knee Bend position has been assumed, with the results that balance and leverage will be hindered. To overcome this event, if fit should occur, a shoe or boot with a slightly raised heel can be worn.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earle Liederman - George Redpath

Pat Casey, standing, left.

Earle Liederman
by George Redpath

When Earle Liederman passed away we lost a good friend of the Iron Game. He had been a close friend of mine for 25 years, but of course, that was only a small segment of his long life. During our conversations he would often relate incidents that I now recall and which readers may find interesting.

Earle was blessed with strong ancestry, I’m sure. His mother lived past the century mark. Early photos show the fine physique he obtained by weight training, cables and handbalancing. Earle performed the handbalance with ease when past the 60-year mark and would have continued for much longer, I’m sure, but for a torn muscle which forced him to limit training.

He had a good degree of strength, but trained more for condition, endurance and physique. 101 dips on parallel bars serves to emphasize the point. That was unofficial and may not have been in a form that would have passed strict official rules, however, I personally haven’t seen anyone surpass continuous 75 reps. It might be interesting to see reports as to what can be done by notables of the modern era.

Earle was enormously successful in business. He ran a mail order training course that was huge even by today’s standards. As an example of the extent of his financial status at that time, picture a scene: The annual auto show was in progress in New York – glittering models were on display from all over the world. The center piece of all this opulence was a foreign sedan with a price tag well into five figures. Earle and his wife were on the way to an evening of entertainment and happened to pass the show. He decided to pause a few minutes for a quick look at the cream of the automotive world. He was immediately charmed by the car at center stage – pulled out his checkbook and it was his. The foregoing may make the man sound egotistical, but such was not the case. The story only came out at one time when we were discussing cars of the past and Earle dug out some old snapshots to show me cars he had owned.

The size of his mail order business could be judged b the fact that at one time he employed 40 people just to open mail and handle orders. It became apparent to him at one point that there was some dishonesty involved so he concealed himself and observed the operation only to see that so many were pocketing money from the mail that no solution was possible other than discharging the whole crew. Some may have been fired unfairly, but he stated that he could see no other course to solve the problem. All of which serves to show that the disgraceful situation of today in regard to stealing from employers is nothing new.

As a clue to the intensity of his business endeavors, he once mentioned that at one time he employed a secretary whose main function was to take notes – notes concerning the ideas which occurred to him while busy on other matters, but which he wished to pursue as time permitted.

Earle numbered many among his pupils. One who is still in fine shape in the middle sixties is Angelo Truilio – one time National handball champ and still a power in the courts. Oldtimers will remember Ken Terrell for his great physique. Ken was most successful as a Hollywood stuntman. Readers have probably seen him many times as he doubled for stars. Countless times I’ve heard someone say, “Mr. Liederman, I’m happy to meet you, you know you started me training.”

At the time of the 1929 crash Earle had about a quarter of a million dollars of advertising contracted for and he lived up to the agreement, as well as holding his employees as long as possible, but like countless other businesses at that time there was no way to prevent the end.

The reverses seemed to have caused little trauma in his life at a time when news stories were full of suicides. He found other fields in which he could succeed. One which may surprise is the fact that he did a radio program for many years which was a show mainly for women and which included much poetry, all of which came from his own works.

After World War II there were many years of “Muscle Power” magazine of which he was the editor. Since severing connections with that organization he had continued to write for various magazines and the influence of his style shows through in certain publications today.

There were books regarding physical culture in the early days. A later book was titled
The Unfinished Song of Achmed Mohammed” – East Indian prose which I feel is outstanding although sales were modest. The book has illustrations in black and white by Keye Luke. Remember Charlie Chan’s number one son?

In recent years Earle became a born-again Christian and although cancer was a serious problem he believes strongly that it was cured through prayer. I don’t know what was listed as Earle’s cause of death, but I for one believe that he was actually cured. The big problem was emphysema and I’m sure he would want to encourage everyone to avoid smoking. He was hooked on the weed and was always good natured when I tried to talk him out of it, but couldn’t quit until a few years ago at a time after the damage had been done. Earle Liederman had more fame and fortune than most of us can imagine, but I’m certain that he would point to Christianity as the focal point of his life and am positive without doubt he would encourage readers to make that all-important decision.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Squat Routine - Dim Wit

Yuri Vlasov, Russian with big squat.

Dennis Gauthier, Canadian with big triceps.

A Squat Routine
by Dim Wit

Squatting three times a week can do wonders for your outlook on life. They say the legs are the first to go and this worries me. Imagine trying to catch up to them without any. A lot of hopping on hips, stump jumping and such. So it makes sane sense to do yourself a favor as you grow older and give your pins some attention, thereby avoiding the needles and medications later on. A bird’s wings are legs while walking an earth of air. Ho-hum, who cares. Things to do.

Like squat.

By implementing a variation of the heavy/light/medium system, and combining it with the 5/3/1 approach to weight progression, a guy could likely go on making progress for quite some time. Providing that truck driver stays awake when our guy is crossing the street.

Use of movements that by their nature fall into the requirements of heavy, light and medium training can create variety in lifting schedules. In this case, Back Squat (heavy), Overhead Squat (light) and Front Squat (medium) fit the bill nicely. Not as nicely as the fish/pelican thing, but nicely nonetheless.

Combining these three squat variations with a standard 5/3/1 progression will enhance the workout further. More. Furthermore, the bad juju of overtraining, the stales, blahs, plateaus and “holy hell my head's bleeding from banging it against this wall” can be avoided quite nicely. Remember, if you notice blood pouring profusely from your head, put on a hat. Drain as needed, and if you haven’t already done so, pick up a copy of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Manual here –

What the hell, for that price how can you lose? A man goes through his life learning this and that, often through trial and regrettable error. Now and then, a lifter decides to do the right thing and share his experience with like-minded types seeking knowledge. Pretty freakin’ high and mighty stuff. Just get the book. Use it for what you can. Ignore all contributions of others. Selfishly claw your way forward toward old age and loneliness without looking back. Simple, no?

Okay. Enough of the theory. Now for a joke.

A penguin walks into a gym on Monday and does Back Squats. Whatever way he chooses to do them. High bar Olympic, Power, whatever. The first week he goes with 65% of his max after a few warmup sets (making it a low max estimate just because he’s a smart penguin with a keen eye for future improvement and likes to slide on icebergs), that’s 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x as many reps as he can get without coming tooo close too messing up his bird CNS. That’s not good to do, even if you are a flightless bird who looks like he’s dressed but late for a formal due. Come Wednesday, same penguin, same deal, only this time with Overhead Squats. By Friday he’s ready for the same three-set progression with Front Squats. If not, well then he just waits until he is. Penguins are bright enough not to put too much weight on something as silly as a damn calendar or the gods of cyclical sevens.

Monday crawls out of bed again just in time for the penguin to Back Squat. 70% x 3, 80% x 3 and 90% x 3 or more. Four. And more. One of the better demonstrations of where hard bop was at the time. I must be old school ‘cause I still like Miles Davis, and the Lemmy version of Cat Scratch Fever. Whatever, the penguin rests. Eats plenty of fish and complex carbs from the sea. Wednesday is Overhead Squats, same progression and don’t ask me how he holds the bar overhead with those little flippers. One thing’s for certain, a penguin’s range of motion in the squat is pretty small. These creatures could probably handle fair big numbers, if they weren’t so busy being penguins. Friday, Front Squats, same deal.

By week three you’ve figured this thing out, right? That’s good because penguins are easily agitated by repetitive questions. They get quite snappy and have been known to curse and kick kids with their flexible webby feet. So there’s no real harm in a penguin putting the boots to some child. Back Squat, 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1 or more reps. Wednesday is Overheads, Friday Fronts. Rhyme when you can. Be a sonic man. Sounds fine. Lo, the asshole would not stop, could not pause till smitten with blows.

Now, by Week Four this bird was ready for a deload. How do I know? Why, a little, that’s right, told me so. Penguin-lifter performs the same three squats on those blameless three days. 40% x 5, 50% x 5 and 60% x 5. Nice and easy. He enjoys this feeling of being able to move his body at will and five senses only make the treat that much sweeter. Blameless. It's not Monday's fault people dislike him so.

There he goes. God’s little lifting champ. A bird growing nearer to heaven without leaving earth. A series of progressive steps up Jacob’s ladder. So next time around with this cycle add 10 pounds to your max and go with the same percentages. 10 pounds a month is a huge gain when continued for any meaningful length of time and penguins will back me up on that. Hardcore penguin at his gym. Tattooed and lookin’ tough in a tux. Three beers after a workout he gets lippy with some duck bartender about his bill. Rough stuff. Feathers ruffled. A scrap in the alley. All part of this mad, glorious game we take so seriously.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Arm Development - J.P. Patches

Reg Park bench pressing while
ignoring the squeak and creak of overstressed wood.

"Here Jim Park, Mr. America and Mr. World, is shown at the completion of a heavy bench press, using the new specially made York Bench. This bench has supports which make it unnecessary to have assistants place the weight in position."
This idea will never sell.

Arm Development
By J.P. Patches

Most bodybuilders want impressive arms, but wanting and getting are two different things. Some of you will not be able to reach the mark you desire, and some of you will. If you’re looking for some magical shortcut to this goal I have no secret formula, but will be glad to tell you what type of training proved satisfactory for me.

To those of you who are having trouble at this time with developing the arms, maybe the way I trained will help. You won’t know until you have tried it for yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you one way works for everyone. It simply isn’t true. Once you have learned, studied and practiced the basic movements it is up to you to determine what works best for your individual set of circumstances, what will keep you engaged in training and what will prove fruitless and tiresome over time. Above all, never allow a training schedule to take all the joy out of your lifting. Train hard, when applicable, but don’t imagine for a moment that you will gain faster by denying your basic temperament. Construct your lifting plans around this temperament, and make a conscious effort to create inspiration and excitement while avoiding the tendency to turn your workouts into drudgery. Monotony has no place in the gym. Respect your fellow lifters at least enough to add some small spark of incentive when possible.

Enough of my philosophy of lifting. The object of training is not overwork, but to bring the muscles into play. Play. Heavy, lower-rep curls are best placed first in your biceps routine, followed by lighter movements done in higher reps intended to flush the area with blood. Don’t overdo the “pumping” exercises. These can drain more energy from your body and mind than most lifters take the time to realize. Always remember, the training is only part of a successful equation. You must also recover from your lifting sessions.

My biceps routine, although quite simple, has proven to give me results.

Barbell Curl, heavy – 3 sets, 3-6 reps.
Dumbell Curl, heavy – 2 sets, 5-8 reps.
Dumbell Curl, light – 2 sets, 15-20 reps.

By heavy, I mean as heavy as you can handle while maintaining quite strict form until the last few reps. At this point, I like to lighten up on my form, loosening up enough to get those last reps. The same goes for the heavy dumbell curls. Four or five strict reps followed by two or three cheated reps. The light dumbell curls are done unilaterally (one arm at a time) in very strict style, trying to make the biceps do as much of the work as possible. On one workout, usually about every two weeks, I keep curling until my arms ache, going down the rack doing one set right after another, and doing as many sets as my arms will allow until I have a puny 10-pound dumbell and it feels like 50 pounds.

A word of caution: I only do this once or twice a month, and would strongly caution against doing it any more frequently. Put more of your energy into increasing the poundage on your heavy curls instead.

So much for the biceps. For the triceps I prefer “unrestricted” movements.

Military Press – 2 sets, 3-6 reps.
Bench Press, close grip – 3 sets, 5-8 reps.
Incline Dumbell Press – 2 sets, 10-12 reps.
Dips – 2 sets, 20-30 reps.

I like to warm up before pressing with a few sets of light repetition snatches or dumbell swings. The overhead presses come first for me, simply because I enjoy putting heavy weights up and can do that more effectively first thing out of the gate. A few warmup sets should be performed before going heavy. The close grip bench presses are done with the elbows in and an overhead press grip width. The incline press has a twofold purpose of working the pectorals as well as triceps. Being a lazy man I like exercises which work more than one muscle. There’s a joke going on over here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. The more muscles an exercise engages, the more efficient and tougher that exercise is. Ask any other “lazy” man and he’ll tell you the same. Between gasps of air. Labored breath and spinning head. Seeing the white buffalo through tiny faint-spots in front of his eyes. Damn you, lazy man!

If you follow this routine for three months and find the results minimal, move on to another approach. Don’t for a minute think that because it works for me it will work for you equally. Forget paranoia centered around fear of individuality, step outta line. It may take you away.

On the heavy lifts, always use a weight that is within your capacity to control, yet heavy enough to make you work, and work hard for the last few reps. Strike deep, into your life gains will creep. If you find that after three months of concentrated effort this routine has done little or nothing for you, try a shorter routine altogether. I have seen lifters come into the gym and train for endless hours without getting much in the way of results. Again, work on getting your heavy exercise poundages up. Be confident this will happen and act on that confidence when under the bar. Succeed. And remember this for what it’s worth . . . Failure: it starts when you’re always afraid.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Free-Weight Pullovers

Straight-Arm Pullovers on the floor can be used to develop and strengthen the serratus muscles. The serratus come strongly into play in all overhead action once the arms have been raised to shoulder level. Place your left hand on your right side, in the location of the serratus muscles. Now, raise your right arm overhead as if performing a dumbell press. Feel that? That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. Observe, comrade. To get the most out of this exercise, lie on the floor, a barbell held at arms' length above the chest, narrow handspacing. Steadily lower the weight down to the floor, keeping the arms locked straight and the entire back, hips and buttocks pressed against the floor. Don't arch your back off the floor. As soon as the weight touches the floor, raise it back to commencing postion and repeat. Obsoive, playah!

Two versions of Breathing Pullover benches. Circular bench, moon bench, equipment nearing antiquity. The idea was to stretch the ribs to their maximum in the pursuit of a bigger breadbox. Some say breathing pullovers are worthless, others swear by them. Personally, I agree with Rhett Butler on this one.

Two views of the Cross-Bench Dumbell Pullover. I'm sure Reg Park has been there, as has Clancy Ross. The hole-in-the-wall gym was a common thing in their day, however, in this case, the case of Clancy Ross, the hole is in the photo.

Decline Pullovers on two types of benches. Hard to believe, but people lifted with heavy weights on benches like the one directly above. Many 400-plus pound bench presses were made on flimsy equipment. Imagine the end of civilization, it's not hard to do. Now picture, if you will, the sort of training equipment the survivors will use. Alas, in heaven there is no gear.

Pullovers with two dumbells allow for a parallel grip, taking some of the strain off the wrists and forearms. There's bars for this type of thing, but when you train in a bathing suit there's bigger things to worry about.

Alternating Dumbell Pullovers. Don't ask me why. I haven't got a clue. Single-Arm Dumbell Pullovers might be interesting. Why not. Matter of fact, why not knit? Rosey Grier found relaxation and release in needlepoint. You could knit your own hat with flames on it. Add a dandy needlepoint logo and there you have it. I'd like mine to say "World's Biggest Asshole" if you ever start really getting into that.

The position shown above is often used when lifting maximum poundages. If you don't quite understand why right now, continue adding weight to the bar till your nose knows. After that, consider the shortened range of motion this position creates, consider Chris Isaak's nose after being broken seven times on his rise to win the Golden Gloves. Not to say you'll win the Golden Gloves just because your nose has been broken seven times. That's a different award.

Rebounding Bent-Arm Pullovers permit, er, let youse handle very heavy weights. The bar is allowed to hit the boxes with some force, the amount determined by the lifter's needs. As a set progresses you may find it worthwhile to increase the severity of the rebound, enabling you to get a few extra reps. The bouncing-boxes awoke one morning and realized they were enablers. Heartbreak and regret followed their hefty lunch.

Lying Extensions can easily be combined with Partial Pullovers. By taking advantage of the bar's forward momentum, a greater poundage can be used when you deem it fitting, sahib. Combining strict movement performance with slightly looser execution can have many advantages. Breaking sticking points, acclimatizing the body and mind to handle larger weights, having fun. Yes, the hangman had been drinking, resulting in a slightly looser execution.

Lying Extension/Pullovers can also be performed in a looser, rebound style by utilizing properly placed boxes. The height of the boxes will determine your range of motion, and, after you become very familiar, up close and personal, on a first name basis with the exercise, the amount of rebound can be controlled though the course of a set. Extending a set with this form of cheating rebound can prove to be productive, even if the idea is far from "new".

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Pressing Schedule - VLS

My Pressing Schedule
by VLS

Weightlifting progress is a creation, born of knowledge, desire and application. I have devoted many hours to the study of Press technique, and found many flaws in my performance. For example, at one time I had an incorrect movement under the bar. I brought the upper part of my body too far forward. To correct this fault, aside from carefully monitoring execution of the lift itself, I paid particular attention to the development of my trapezius and back muscles.

During my weight training I did not forget all-round development. In the summers I ran and swam a great deal and did some sculling. In winters I went skating almost every day. After each training session I played basketball or volleyball. Owing to the fact that I devoted much of my time and attention during this corrective period to the acquisition of technique and not power and strength, my results at first were not high.

Following this period I felt that my technique had improved sufficiently, and devised a program in which the greatest emphasis was placed on the development of strength. This showed results. At Munich I established a world record Press with 263¾ pounds, and I lifted this weight fairly easily.

Below I quote an example of my weekly Press training schedule. I have included poundages so as to give an idea of the relative weight jumps made, and from this you can determine your own poundage selections.


132¼ x 3.
176¼ x 2.
198¼ x 2.
220¼ x 2 (first rep a Press, second a Push Press).
231¼ x 2 (first rep a Press, second a Push Press).
242½ x 1 (Push Press).
253½ x 1 (Push Press).
220¼ x 2.

Wide Grip Press:
132¼ x 3.
154¼ x 3.
176¼ x 3.
198¾ x 3.


Press (Technique Training):
132¼, 154¼, 176¼, 198¼, 220¼, 187¼, all for 2 reps.

Wide Grip Press:
132¼, 154¼, 176¼, all for 3 reps.


132¼, 154¼, 187¼, all for 3 reps.
209¼ x 2.
225¾ x 1.
236¾ x 1.
220¼ x 1.
19 ¾ x 3.


132¼, 154¼, 176¼, all for 3 reps.

I believe the Push Press is the most important assistance exercise for the Press.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Continental Cleans for Overhead Confidence - SDG

Continental Cleans for Overhead Confidence
by SDG

The Continental Clean is a lift of great value, owing to the fact that it strengthens you for heavy jerks and adds confidence to all your overhead movements, be they presses, overhead squats, repetition kettlebell exercises, overhead carries etc, etc. The very act of handling heavier than normal weights instills, as the great Charles A. Smith stated, a vigorous contempt for them. The scorn born of higher endeavors ripples out to all newfound pursuits. To the most, bro. My crotch cup runneth over with maximum package. And yours can too!!!

In any Olympic weightlifting contest the Press and Snatch take a lot of the lifter’s strength and energy before he gets to the most grueling lift of all . . . the Clean & Jerk. Unlike the Press and Snatch, the Clean & Jerk is really two lifts. Moreover, because it is the most COMPLICATED of the trio and falls at the END of the group, it requires the utmost in power and control. This is why SPECIAL – even rather UNIQUE – training methods must be used in preparing for it well in advance.

Because it is my belief that the possibilities of the Jerk are greater than those of the Clean, I have prepared this article to help in strengthening that WEAKER half of the lift so that tremendous cleaning power is developed.

First, let’s have a quick look at the problem. What makes cleaning maximum weights so difficult? Yeah, what be the deal wit dat, and what IS we gonna do?

1.) The lifter must pull a heavily loaded bar upward as high as possible.
2.) He must then lower his body rapidly and smoothly by splitting or squatting fearlessly under the weight.
3.) He then must CONTROL the bar into his shoulders in a perfect RACK and then HOLD it CONFIDENTLY and SECURELY.
4.) Finally, he must have sufficient strength and psyche left to stand upright smoothly with the weight, and not be too exhausted to complete the lift with a sound and successful overhead Jerk.

Consider now, all your other overhead lifts. Determine how the clean portion of each lift can detract from the needed strengths of their overhead portions. In many parts of the world this behavioral rarity is referred to as “thinking”.

The critical point in cleaning occurs halfway in the lift when the leg split or squat is made. This is the point that requires strengthening above all others, for so many things can go wrong as the lifter attempts to shift directions from the upward pull to going under and maintaining solidity with a racked weight in the low position. Here, where the brute yet beautiful force of poetic movement is defined swiftly in the physical. In the blink of an eye this mind/body statement must be made and maintained. This ain’t no greased pig most muscular pose, this is the power of the strength-arts: visible expression in well-honed motion, razor sharp and ably executed. 1-800 operators standing by. Please have credit card ready. Bonus 40-minute porn site trial to first 10 buyers.

Even though this preliminary portion of the lift may be successfully made, the follow-up leg recovery movement is sometimes so difficult to effect that the lifter is too weary to make a successful Jerk. This holds true when performing other overhead lifts as well. With greater confidence in manhandling heavy weights the mind will become unconcerned with the clean portion of each movement, opening up greater avenues of strength, stability and endurance.

Is it really possible to strengthen the lifter’s overall mental and bodily power by special training methods devised to strengthen this difficult portion of overhead movements?

Of course! And the Continental Clean is one of the best, though currently most neglected methods any ambitious lifter can use, providing he goes about it in the right way. Continental Cleans will boost body power and solidity of confidence where it is needed most, and here is why!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1.) They allow the lifter to handle much heavier poundages in training.
2.) He therefore learns how to exert EXTRA pulling power by heaving VERY heavy weights from the floor to waist height so that the bar comes to rest behind the belt for the next stage.
3.) He learns how to develop extra CONFIDENCE at this point, plus added strength and let's say we just call this here creation "self".
4.) Training regularly in this manner, the lifter becomes accustomed to supporting tremendous poundages. This builds additional power and strength in the thighs, hips, back and shoulders so that all overhead lifts feel easier to handle and control by comparison.

It’s really not necessary to disrupt or forsake your regular training methods. Just add a few sets of Continental Cleans to your usual routine and soon you will have progressively achieved a great improvement in your COMMAND of the weights .

All intelligent lifters, both of them, know that any “extra” pulling and supporting power can make all the difference in their numbers. This is where the Continental Clean can give you that extra edge over the weights. It’s war on a gymnasium floor, eh? A wee bit of strife and struggle, a self-imposed battle before leaving the living. Artsy, yes, but I like its robust fartsiness as well!

As you complete the upward pull and begin to force your elbows beneath the bar to fix it at the shoulders (elbows up upon racking, and never forget to circle the damn wagons), you’ll soon feel like a powerhouse. A stampede of cow-cattle. Fire hydrant freed from the annoyance of dogwalkers forever. Six months of progressive Continental training can equal triumph over the enemy known as gravity. Let your next failed overhead attempt be that insult that made a man out of Mac. Change your name if you must, just get stronger and more capable. Give me six months with Woody Allen and I can have him carrying TWO underage females on those no longer bony shoulders.

Get a solid belt. Make it if you have to. Study continental lift technique as you would an onion butt. You know the type . . . makes you wanna kneel down and cry in a politically incorrect fashion. Determine now that you will develop great strength and power with this lift, then translate that strength and power into new records in all your overhead movements for the nominal fee of only . . . time and energy.

If you’re still weak on the inspiration, gaze at the picture of Kono, Schemansky and Emrich deep in prayer above.

And be healed.

Feats of Strength with Levers - David Willoughby

Arthur Dandurand
"The Strong Man" by Ernst Neumann

Arthur Dandurand

Forward Lift, Weaver Stick

Feats of Strength with Levers
by David Willoughby (in the year 2525)

A direct and practical means of developing and strengthening the abductor muscles of the forearm is simply to swing a sledgehammer, preferably one that is sufficiently small and light to be gripped and swung with one hand. Such a movement is “practical,” because the use of the hammer, in one way or another, is something that has been going on for thousands of years and is still an essential element in many manual occupations. And so long as one is endeavoring to develop muscular strength, why use odd, artificial movements that rarely if ever occur in everyday life, when there are other movements, or exercises, that employ the muscles in a natural, practical manner? Away back in June, 1908, at the Crystal Palace in London, Arthur Lancaster swung a blacksmith’s 8-pound hammer for TWELVE HOURS without stopping. He was said to have “. . . the strongest wrist and forearm of any man alive.”

Many a feat of so-called “wrist strength” – actually, strength of the abductor muscles of the forearm (those that draw the hand toward the thumb side) – has been performed using either a standard, commercial sledgehammer, or “sledge,” or a long wooden bar, like a broom handle, with a light weight attached to the far end of it. Unfortunately, in most of the feats of this kind that have been reported, it has been difficult or impossible for one reason or another, to evaluate the merit of the performance. In some of the reports even the weight of the sledgehammer is left unmentioned; and rarely if ever does the performer state the exact length of the handle and how far his hand was away from the weight when he lifted it. Of course, without these essential items of information, no reliable comparison of the feat can be made with others of its kind.

Some years ago, in order to obviate these difficulties, my friend and co-enthusiast, George Weaver, who was then living in Brooklyn, designed a leverage-lifting bar of specified dimensions, with which he tested the “wrist strength” of many strongmen and weight trainees who were living in that area. In due course this bar became known as a “Weaver Stick.” This was a round stick (such as a mop handle), about nine-tenths of an inch in diameter, cut to the exact length of 41 inches. Here is Weaver’s description of the details of his stick:

Half an inch from one end, cut a notch. EXACTLY 36 inches from the CENTER of this notch, circle the stick with a line. Get two metal right-angles at a hardware store, and screw them into the top and bottom sides of the stick so that the rear edges of the right-angles come exactly to the circled line. The top side of the stick is the side where the notch is cut. lf one angle has once screw hole, and the other angle has two screw holes, the screws will not conflict. You can shave the bottom of the stick a little with a knife at these places, to make a flatter base for the angle. This leaves you with a “handle” just 5½ inches long, which you can tape to a thickness that suits your hand and affords a good grip.

It is important that the following rules be observed. The stick must be lifted approximately parallel to the floor, and not with the weighted end tilted downward. Above all, the stick must be lifted straight up from the chair; there must be no rocking of the stick on the chair before lifting. The lifting hand and arm must remain free of the body. And the heel of the hand must remain on TOP of the stick. If the hand twists under the stick, the lift is no good and cannot be allowed. The stick, when lifted, need not be held for any length of time; but it must be clearly lifted free of the chair (an inch is enough) and held in control (one second is enough).

This lift may also be made by turning the back on the weight and grasping the stick with the little finger toward the weight, instead of with the thumb toward the weight. More weight can be lifted in this manner. When lifting with the back toward the weight, the body may be bent forward as the lift is made.

The accompanying drawing of John Grimek shows the position to be assumed in making a Forward Lift on the Weaver Stick.

Many years before George Weaver thought up his leverage lifting stick, Paul Von Boeckmann, a professional strongman and physical instructor in New York City, by practice became exceptionally capable at feats of “wrist strength,” and used to win bets by raising weights on the end (straw) of an ordinary broom. He, like Weaver, saw that it was essential to establish a fixed distance on the stick between the center of the weight and the front (thumb-side) of the lifting hand. By doing this he eventually made a record by lifting 11½ pounds at a distance of 36 inches in front of his grip. This was equivalent to raising the same amount in a Forward Lift on a regulation Weaver Stick. At the age of 62 (in 1933), von Boeckmann could still raise 9½ pounds in this manner.

Weaver’s tests with his stick revealed a remarkable range in ability among the various persons who lifted on it. In this lift (in the Forward style) the “average” man would seem capable of about 4 pounds. Yet Warren Travis, the one-time world champion in back and harness lifting, who in addition could pick up over 100 pounds in a one-hand pinch lift, could only raise 4¼ pounds on the Weaver Stick. The best lift performed in the Forward style was recorded by recorded by Weaver was one of 10 pounds with the left hand by John Grimek. Later, in York, Pa., Grimek raised 11¾ pounds with his right hand on a stick that was 2” shorter than a regulation Weaver Stick. This would have made his lift, if it had been made on a 42” stick, equivalent to about an even 11 pounds. In any event, Grimek’s lift would appear to be the best on record with the exception of that made long ago by Paul von Boeckmann. But it would be interesting to know how much weight could be raised in this style by such old-time champions of grip and forearm strength as Louis Cyr, Horace Barre, Apollon (Louis Uni), John Marx and Hermann Goerner.

Of more recent weightmen, Mac Batchelor and Douglas Hepburn should have made good showings in this test. However, any guesswork in this direction could be highly unreliable. One would suppose that thick wrists and tight wrist ligaments would be of great assistance in this lift; yet actually some strongmen who possessed these attributes came out very poorly on the Weaver Stick, while others, who had more slender wrists and limber wrist joints, did unexpectedly well. I myself had, and still have, very limber wrist joints (which used to handicap me in heavy one-hand overhead lifts), yet I managed to raise correctly 7 pounds on a standard Weaver Stick, at a time when I was well past my prime.

In view of the fact that John Grimek was capable of raising approximately 11 pounds on a Weaver Stick in the Forward Lift Style, while weighing about 195 pounds and having a wrist of 7¾” and a forearm of 13¾”, it would certainly seem that one of the present-day superheavyweight powerlifters, with correspondingly larger wrists and forearms, should be able to similarly raise at least 12 pounds. However, unless and until such a lift is made, Grimek must be credited with being the contemporary record-holder in this test of forearm strength. Indeed, the nearest lifts to the 10 pounds recorded for Grimek’s LEFT- HAND record of 10 pounds were right-hand lifts of 8 pounds performed by John Davis and Steve Stanko, who were then at the peak of their Olympic lifting efficiency.

In the Backward Lift on a Weaver Stick, a considerably heavier poundage is possible than in the more commonly performed Forward Lift style. In the Backward style the highest possible poundage recorded by Weaver was 12½ pounds. This was accomplished by John Protasel, a heavyweight of New York City. However, in order to be equal in merit to a Forward Lift of 11 pounds, as performed by John Grimek, a Backward Lift (which employs the stronger adductor muscles of the forearm) should be somewhere between 14½ and 15½ pounds.

While, as previously pointed out, it is not possible to estimate with accuracy the probable ability of a performer on the Weaver Stick who had never tried the lift before, this restriction does not apply in the case of a performer who has raised a known poundage on a sledgehammer of known length. Thus it is possible to evaluate the performance of the oldtime Canadian professional strongman, Arthur Dandurand (68 in., 185 lbs.), who at the age of 50 years (!) could hold out at arm’s length with either hand, gripping the handle at the end, a 12-pound sledgehammer assertedly 36 inches in length. If actually 38 inches, this lift would have been equivalent to raising 9.3 pounds in the Forward Lift style on a Weaver Stick; or, if the handle length were 34 inches, to about 8.7 pounds. And if Dandurand could do this at the age of 50, he surely must have been capable of raising over 10 pounds in his prime of strength.

An equally remarkable lift, considering the age of the performer, was made by an oldtime exhibitor in Germany named Josef Siegl. In 1893, at the age of 68 (!), Siegl was able to hold out, on a stick 56 inches in length, a weight of 5 German pounds (equal to 5.51 English pounds). This was equivalent to holding out at least 8 pounds on a regulation Weaver Stick. Siegl, however, had made a specialty of this lift for many years and for that reason was probably, at age 68, almost as capable as he had been in his prime. In any case, he won many a bet by being able to do it (when larger and presumably stronger competitors failed).

There is another style of “leverage-lifting” a weighted handle, such as a sledgehammer or an axe, and that is to first hold the weight by the end of the handle in a position at arm’s length in front, with the handle STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN and the hammer head uppermost. From there the weighted end of the hammer, or ax, is slowly lowered by the performer until it touches his face (nose or chin), from which delicate spot it is slowly raised or returned to the upright position. This lift makes an effective exhibition feat, especially if performed with a heavy ax, the blade being directed downward! In Maine, it would appear that the feat was – and perhaps still is – a popular competitive event among woodsmen. In it, an 11-pound, razor-sharp, wood-chopping ax is used. The champion performer of the feat was a lumberjack named Perry Greene.

However, the dangerous nature of the latter feat may be compensated for by using a HEAVIER HAMMER instead of a sharpened ax! The feat is especially meritorious, and more impressive, if performed with TWO hammers simultaneously. So far as I know, the record in the latter style is still held by the featherweight (!) Olympic lifter, Murl Mitchell, of Los Angeles, who some thirty years ago lowered two 25-pound hammers to his face (he wore eyeglasses!) and then returned them to the vertical starting position. The length of the handle in the hammers used by Mitchell was 30 inches. As may be deduced, this style of lifting (and lowering) uses the same muscles as a BACKWARD Lift on a Weaver Stick, but in a different manner. That is, in the Backward Lift the weight on the bar is being HELD UP by a contraction of the adductor muscles of the forearm, while in the ax-lowering style the same muscles are used in slowly LOWERING the weight to the face. As the handle is raised or returned to the vertical position, however, the muscles work in a similar way to a Backward Lift on a Weaver Stick, only at a more advantageous angle. to readers who may be interested in muscular anatomy, it may be added that the chief muscles used in ADDUCTING the hand (as in a Backward Lift on a Weaver Stick) are the EXTENSOR CARPI ULNARIS and the FLEXOR CARPI ULNARIS; while ABDUCTION of the hand is produced by the cooperation of the FLEXOR CARPI RADIALIS with the RADIAL EXTENSORS OF THE CARPUS (wrist), assisted by the LONG ABDUCTOR and the EXTENSORS OF THE THUMB.

To return to Murl Mitchell and his feat of LOWERING a 25-pound hammer 30 inches in length to the face with a straight arm, it would appear that this feat is about on a par with RAISING approximately 14 pounds in a Backward Lift on a standard Weaver Stick (or, by extension, to raising somewhere between 10 and 10.6 pounds in a Forward Lift). Accordingly, considering his small size, Mitchell’s feat with the two 25-pound hammers ranks as a PHENOMENAL performance. I regret that I do not have a photo of Mitchell performing this feat.

A more recent (1972) performer of the 2-hammer feat is Lawrence Farman (78 in., 212 lbs.), of Pottstown, Pa., a giant in size as compared with Mitchell, but nevertheless a noteworthy performer of leverage lifts with heavy hammers. As shown in one of the accompanying photographs of Farman, he is lowering simultaneously two long-handled hammers to his face, from where he will slowly return them to the upright starting position. Apparently, Farman is left-handed. The hammer in his left hand weighs 21 pounds, while that in his right hand weighs 18. However, the 21-pound hammer is 30 inches in length, while the 18-pound hammer is 33 inches. The latter length would be equivalent to raising a 30-inch hammer weighing about 20.3 pounds. Using a single hammer in his left hand, Farman has raised 23.5 pounds. In the other photo of Farman, he is shown levering up a hammer weighing 18½ pounds (a 16-pound hammer with a 2½- pound barbell plate added), his hand meanwhile resting on a mat or pad, and grasping the extreme end of the handle. His best lift in the same manner is, or was at the time, 19¾ pounds on a 30-inch handle. Evidently, to lift with one end of a 30-inch hammer resting on the floor, is equivalent to lifting about HALF the same poundage on a Weaver Stick in a regular Forward Lift.

So far, in dealing with sledgehammers and the Weaver Stick, we have considered only leverage lifts performed by bending the wrist SIDEWAYS, like a hinge, first toward the thumb side of the hand (Forward Lift), and then toward the little-finger side (Backward Lift). However, a third manner of applying leverage lifts is to employ a TWISTING (or rotating) movement of the hand, wrist, and forearm. One such lift was that demonstrated by Henry Holtgrewe (69 in., 280 lbs.), who about the turn of the century was known as “The Cincinnati Strongman.” Holtgrewe had 15½-inch forearms and was very strong at all kinds of wrist-leverage tests. In the presence of Ottley Coulter, Holtgrewe, who was way past his prime at the time, placed a common brick weighing 6 pounds on the straw of a broom, then levered the broom and brick, starting with the broom in horizontal position, by grasping the end of the handle with the BACK OF HIS HAND UPPERMOST and his thumb toward the brick. This tested the SUPINATOR – rather than the abductor or the adductor – muscles of the forearm. Holtgrewe performed this feat with great ease. Coulter, after some practice, was just barely able to do it, notwithstanding that as a featherweight he had lifted a meritorious 109 pounds in the Rectangular Fix (equal to a Reverse Curl stopped halfway). As will be noted, in Holtgrewe’s style of leverage-lifting the forearm is PARALLEL with the floor, whereas in a Forward Lift on a Weaver Stick the forearm is almost UPRIGHT. What the ratio in poundage is between these two leverage lifts, I do not know, since Holtgrewe is the only one I know of who performed the twisting-style lift. Too, the latter lift can be performed with the PALM – rather than the back of the hand – uppermost, and the lift again made with the weight on the thumb side of the hand, but with the hand (if the right) turning COUNTER-CLOCKWISE rather than clockwise as in Holtgrewe’s style of lifting. As there is no information whatever on what can be done in the hand-PRONATING style of stick-lifting, I shall be grateful for any records that readers may send in stating what they can raise either in one or both of the TWISTING types of leverage lifting.

A somewhat different type of twisting lift was performed by the French professional lifter Ernest Cadine (66 in., 198 lbs.) as one of his stage feats. In this lift, Cadine would hold five standard billiard cues together, grasping them in one hand at their small ends with the thumb side of his hand downward. From that position he would raise the cues in a quarter-circle until the back of his hand was uppermost, his arm being held straight out in front. A regulation billiard cue averages 57 inches in length, 2 inches in diameter at the large end, ½ inch in diameter at the tip, and weighs 18 ounces. However, the weight may range from 15 ounces to 22, and the length and diameter of the cues proportionately. If it be assumed that Cadine’s cues each weighed an average 18 ounces, the five he held out would total 90 ounces or 5⅝ pounds. But the distance from Cadine’s hand to the center of gravity of the bundle of cues would be only about 32½ inches, or appreciably less than the distance from one’s hand to a weight set on the straw of a broom. But again, there’s no way of reliably appraising the merit of Cadine’s feat, since there has been none like it with which to make a comparison. It can only be said that Cadine had a very strong grip and forearms, as was evident from his ability in picking up barbells and dumbells having thick handles.

One more “leverage-type” feat may here be described. This was performed by Paul von Boeckmann, who as noted previously lifted a record 11½ pounds on a stick of the same length as a standard Weaver Stick. In von Boeckmann’s physical culture studio in New York City, he had an oversized iron Indian club, about 20 inches high, that weighed between 80 and 85 pounds. Grasping this club at the small end with his hands close together (in baseball bat style), von Boeckmann could readily lever it up and over his shoulder. But evidently for anyone else it was a terrific feat. Sandow, who tried it, couldn’t budge the club from the floor. Charles Atlas, at a much later date, managed to tilt it slightly. Only one man other than von Boeckmann ever succeeded in getting it to the shoulder. This was Joe Nordquest (67.5 in., 190 lb.), who, after a tremendous effort, was able to shoulder the club in the prescribed manner. And Nordquest at that time (c. 1916 or 1917) had raised over 300 pounds unofficially in a left hand Bent Press and was regarded as the strongest man in America. Now, today, among the thousands of dedicated Olympic lifters, powerlifters and bodybuilders, is there anyone who can surpass Paul von Boeckmann’s Forward Lift of 11½ pounds in accepted Weaver Stick style?

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