Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Overcompensation - Tudor Bompa and Fred Koch

Dave Draper

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by Tudor Bompa and Fred Koch (1992)

For more detailed information,
see here:

Periodization Training: Theory and Methodology

Tudor Bompa

Fred Koch

Positive adaptation is the result of constantly alternating between work and compensation. This work, in the form of training, followed by time for regeneration, is the heart of the overcompensation cycle. The overcompensation principle serves as the biological foundation for good adaptation and constant training gains. Planning workouts around this cycle is an extremely important aspect of training.

In any strength-development training program the bottom line for improvement is based on the body’s ability to adapt to training stress. The key to making constant gains is to plan, record, retest and evaluate the stress you put on your body. This four-step process is the only rational way to keep you from burning out. Constant evaluation as applied to the overcompensation cycle is an important element that has long been missing from bodybuilding training.

Overcompensation is based on the fact that during daily activities your body operates in a normal biological state of balance known as homeostasis. It constantly seeks out this state of balance between energy and consumption – in the form of food – and the normal energy output for your working day. When you go to the gym for a workout, you disturb this balance by burning extra calories. When you’re finished training, you experience fatigue, which temporarily reduces your body’s capacity and throws your whole system of homeostasis out of balance.

Following training and between training sessions there is a phase of compensation during which your body replenishes its energy sources. This is the time you relax psychologically and regenerate. Replenishing energy loss is a slow process and requires several hours at least.

You must plan, test and monitor your workouts according to your training capacity and your recorded strength levels. If you add to this monitoring proper rest and a good diet plan, you not only replace the energy, but you may even exceed your initial level. “Overcompensation” is defined as the additional reserves built up by the body as it rebounds past the initial strength level. You reflect this positive state by increasing your training efficiency; in other words, you demonstrate good adaptation by your ability to lift greater loads. This extremely positive overcompensation effect is the foundation for improving your performance in training.

Lack of planning can cause you to fail to adapt to a weight load, which will result in stagnation. Sooner or later you’ll experience a high level of fatigue and energy drain due to this lack of adaptation, and overtraining is sure to follow. Many bodybuilders quit the sport, at least temporarily, until the signs and symptoms of overtraining are gone and regeneration is accomplished. Bodybuilders often use mental visualization to overcome the onset of overtraining, and this may help initially, but sooner or later the body burns out.

This cycle of overtraining will begin again as soon as the trainee starts using the same training methods that caused him or her to quit, because the system just doesn’t work in the long run.

Overcompensation may occur approximately 24 hours after a lifting session that is planned to your specific training capacity. If the intensity of training is too great and exhausts every drop of your energy and mental toughness, then you may require a minimum of 6 hours or even longer to experience overcompensation.

Certainly a highly motivated bodybuilder/athlete can train daily; however, problems can arise as long as the athlete works to complete exhaustion at every session. Unfortunately, this is still the philosophy of most bodybuilding training systems. The idea that if you do not reach exhaustion you won’t make gains is one of the great myths of progressive-resistance training. Under this complete-exhaustion cycle overcompensation does not occur, improvement fades away and you are left overtrained and exhausted.

Bodybuilding is one sport where the need to adapt to training stress is extremely important. You have to follow a well-planned, systematic program. The threat of overtraining is great in a sport where “do as much as you can all the time” is the norm. Much has been written about overtraining, but a clear picture of the condition has never been established simply because up till now there has been no systematic means of analyzing training records – if training records were actually kept.

There are many visible anatomical and physiological changes that occur if you correctly employ several exercises with varying loads and repetition schemes over a given period of time. When these gains in development and increases in performance occur, you have adapted to a given training load.

The neuromuscular system illustrates one important positive adaptation that occurs from a well-structured periodization training program. This is the system responsible for the impulses that are sent between your nerves and muscles. By employing either submaximal percentages – 80 to 90 percent of your one-rep max – your muscle increases its fibers’ cross-sectional area. Because of this increase in muscle fiber the muscle can receive more nerve impulses.

When we plan for this increased muscle fiber in one phase of training, it prepares the muscle for hypertrophy, or growth, in another phase. This increase of muscle fiber can also be accompanied by an increase in the protein content of the muscle during proper adaptation.

You can accomplish these gains, as well as many others, in bodybuilding training only as long as your body can adapt to the training load and the stress put on it. We cannot emphasize enough the need for bodybuilders to understand this basic principle of training. If the load is too high and you extend the level of work for too long without allowing for regeneration, then overcompensation and adaptation cannot occur, and overtraining results. That’s a simple fact.

If you train with an understanding of the overcompensation cycle and allow for complete adaptation, you will feel no exhaustion, no complete drain of energy, and you will see recordable gains.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Seven - Tommy Kono

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The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Seven
by Tommy Kono (1969)

For more detailed information, and several useful weightlifting products, see here -
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The “S” Pull

Before going into the details of the “S pull it is recommended that you review parts II, III, V and VI of this ABC series since understanding the principles covered in these four prior articles have an important part in explaining the “S” pull principle.

Various studies have shown conclusively that a straight, upward pull is not conducive to record breaking performances in the Snatch or Clean. Movie films taken from the side angle of world record lifts show that a maximum height in the pull is achieved only when the bar follows a certain “S” pattern.

Description of the “S” Pull for the Squat Snatch

Most lifters position the bar directly above the instep of their feet prior to the beginning of their pull. As the pull commences the bar swings in toward the middle line of the body, reaching the maximum inward curve at the knees. (Follow explanation of the path of the bar on drawing A.) From here the bar begins to move away from the body and cross directly above the starting point approximately where the thighs join the hips. The bar continues to travel in the same path but begins to straighten out at waist level and then curves back to the body at chest height to make the second curve of the “S”.

Explanation of the “S” Pull for the Squat Snatch

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line and this holds true even in weightlifting; however, the barbell is not propelled by itself. The human body has many muscles and joints involved in lifting a weight from the floor to overhead and the leverage of the muscles and joints is constantly changing as the bar travels up. In essence, we are lifting the bar through a SERIES OF STRAIGHT LINES (a curve is nothing more than a series of short, straight lines), utilizing the right leverage for the different muscle groups s the lift progresses.

(1) The Initial Curve
If you have ever performed repetitions dead lifts, whether with a flat back as in the initial pull for the quick lifts or the conventional rounded-back deadlift, you’d note that each time you pick the weight off the floor the weight (bar) has a tendency to swing in toward the middle-line of the body and eventually end up resting against the front of your thighs. The more rapidly you perform this exercise for repetitions, the more obvious this swinging movement becomes. It is a natural movement since the combined weight of the barbell and the body must shift from the instep to the middle of the feet (middle-line of the body) for good leverage.

(2) The Middle Section
When the bar reaches the knee height in pulling (not dead lift) your shoulders should be well beyond the bar (Part II of the ABC series) so you have positioned yourself for the best leverage for the finish of the pull. Since the bar cannot make an abrupt change of direction without losing acceleration (Part VI, ABC series) and must also travel in the Area of Balance (Part V, ABC series), the path of the bar must be a smooth curve leading away from the center-line of the body. This, again, is a natural movement since the combined weight of the barbell and body must now shift toward the ball of the feet to utilize the best leverage of the legs (thighs and calves) and hip action (Part III, ABC series) to extend the body to achieve the greatest height for the bar.

(3) The Second Curve
Should the bar continue to journey away from the body the bar would travel out of the Area of Balance forcing you to lose control of the weight; so, to prevent this from happening it would be a natural movement to KEEP THE BAR AS CLOSE TO THE BODY AS POSSIBLE and USE THE WEIGHT OF THE BARBELL AS LEVERAGE TO PULL YOUR BODY UNDER THE WEIGHT. The reaction of this movement would be that of pulling the barbell back toward the initial starting line (over the instep); hence, the second curve section of the “S”.

The action of the wrist flipping over and the descending of the bar causes the loop at the finish of the pull.

Figures C and D show the general pattern of the path of the bar which has struck the thighs and bounced away. Figure C is that of the mid-thigh striking the bar. Figure D illustrates the pattern of lifters who feel they must pass the bar over the knees and striking the bar with the lower part of the thighs.

Drawing E helps illustrate that even a proper beginning is no assurance the finish of the lift will be good. The dash lines indicate the wrong finish. The curve of E-1 shows the proper height necessary for a successful catch in the squat snatch. Numbers E-2 and E-3 show the loss of height in the pull because of the bar traveling out of the Area of Balance. The height of the pull was lost in proportion to the distance traveled horizontally out of the Area of Balance.

Using the proper “S” pull with a heavy weight, a lifter can make a successful Snatch by getting the proper height as shown in Figures A, B, and E-1. Should the same lifter using the same weight pull in a faulty pattern, the bar would achieve only height shown in drawings C, D, and E-2&3; a height that is insufficient for a successful lift. Many times the lifter will make the proper adjustment by jumping backward or forward because of the faulty pull to create a new Area of Balance but with a personal record or near record weight the bar ends at arms’ length but with the wrist not flipped over for the proper catch.

The pattern of the curve for all lifters, in general, is alike. The deviation of the curve from the center line (not the middle-line of the body) varies according to the height of the lifter and other factors such as the length of the feet, the placement angle of the feet for the initial pull, the width of the grip on the bar, the length of the arms, etc., etc. But, the general pattern has produced the measurements shown in Figure B. Figure A shows the general height and pattern that is ideal for a lifter approximately 5 ft. 6 in. in height. Zhabotinsky’s pull height has been measured at 59¾ inches with a drop of the bar only 5 inches before he caught the weight for the Snatch with 352 lbs. Former world record holder in the Clean & Jerk in the lightweight class, Schgun of Russia, snatched with a pull of 49¼ inches before catching the weight in an enormously low squat. Schgun measured 5 ft. 3 in. in height.

Series made possible with the help of
Regis Becker and Reuben Weaver.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What Every Greenhorn Should Know, Part One - Joseph C. Hise

Roger Eells
bent-pressing a 200-lb. dumbbell

Waldemar Baszanowski

What Every Greenhorn Should Know, Part One
by Joseph C. Hise (1940)

A greenhorn is merely one that knows everything wrong. Some refuse to learn any better and survive to become solid citizens . . . scoffed at by all who know better, even though respected and envied by those that are their peers (def., the ones so stunted that they cannot peer over them). In many sections the overwhelming proportion of the populace is on the borderline of outright stupidity . . . and are extremely proud of it. I believe that malnutrition in their formative years stunts their will to learn. Every national fault is a virtue in most places. Americans either don’t know, or kid themselves, or glance over it . . . but close to 40% or more of the populace are born behind the eight-ball and only by the greatest exception of luck are they placed in favorable environments for the development of their brains. Schools have little to do with it. The best schools I know of are in a state that is heavily populated with the haters of intelligence. Probably 90% or more of the peacetime English are raised underfed. They make a virtue of it and boast of the British phlegm instead of hating the conditions that cause them to be torpid. The Bolsheviks, when not liquidating political entrepreneurs suffer from this same British disease. Worse, if that is possible. The government encourages in every way the mechanical abilities of the “workers” who, on the contrary grade as “shirkers.” In fact, many of them are outright saboteurs in their success at keeping stupid and avoiding responsibility. It makes no difference how well they are paid. The worst cases are in the best parts of Siberia and Russia where any man of ordinary promise would be promoted farther in two years than a very ambitious and capable man would advance in 30 years in the United States of America.

Because of no holding back of men of promise the Russian “engineers” are the equal or superior to the world’s best. Nearly all of them came from the ranks that compose the “shirkers,” alias “workers.” They get rapid experience and opportunity and are so busy they have no time to hunt diplomas. Experience is over plentiful. It is easy to come up from the ranks of these regions . . . but two American engineers I know had a total of five years directing jobs in Southern Russia and Siberia and not a “worker” did they have who was willing to become an “engineer” by showing desire to work and know anything. They and their Russian engineers had to do about 99% of all the manual labor on their jobs. The Bolshes shoot the worst ones but it doesn’t improve or scare the rest of them because you can’t scare anyone with a brain that was raised on malnutrition. The Mexican peons soldered like that also on one of these engineers and you may imagine his astonishment when he learned how they changed their ways when working in the U.S.A. Such shirking was not the style in the U.S.A. and they changed their style. Those who have returned to Mexico are encouraged by the government officials to keep their new habits they learned in the United States and they form the largest percentage of the non-military big shots.

I use these examples to point out how brains are formed and deformed through custom and environment and these examples to point the psychical similarities of the English patriots, the Russian shirkers, the hymn singing cornbread raised American and the Mexican workers. These types of brained persons are absolutely worthless for anything except “dying for their country.” There is almost no hope for them in any kind of cultural or economic progress. One has to raise a new human crop to take their place.

All of those belonging to the classes mentioned would never have read this far. There is no likelihood of any of them succeeding in physical improvement. If you are short on brains and willingness to learn you will neither attempt nor succeed in having a better body. Even if you are willing to attempt to learn you will surely fail with the wrong kind of “teaching.” The large number of successes in the U.S.A. is due to the proselytes in the local lifting clubs who spread true information widely, even though it may differ from the published stuff. Many are located far from these successes and learn only what attention to their “experience” and if on some hooey course they will exercise for months without beneficial progress; while others, on the contrary, are so “all-around” that two or three periods are the most persistence they ever use on any course of exercising.

Most beginners want to exercise to look more shapely; others wiser, want great strength, and the more experienced want to be like the “deacon’s one hoss shay’ . . . live to be a good old man and decease all at once instead of living in ruins all their life and slowly molder away. Never realizing that they were never alive, nor that they lived their entire lives as dead as a live Englishman or pellagra American. Some years ago Jowett wrote that if he died at forty he would never have any grounds for complaint. He claimed that for his entire life he had been entirely alive . . . as is true of any strong man.

Longevity, they tell us, is the blessing donated by our biological ancestors. If matter not whether they were churchmen or jailbirds, it is a physical blessing that not all men are born with. Before and after Nestor’s day longevity and wisdom have been associated . . . personally I decided that Nestor was the “biggest liar among the Greeks” instead of the “wisest” after I read of his first battle in when he bagged 50 pair of charioteers in one fight. Ever since this day all the old birds depend on tall stories to tell the youth . . . from Nestor down to Pappy Yokum of Dogpatch County, Kentucky.

The strongman of poor longevity stock will surely live (and be completely alive) longer than the average of his ancestors. One from long lived stock will never be old until like the deacon’s one-hoss shay, he passes out all at once. He lives not in ruins, nor patriotic stupidity at any time of his life. He is “the good old man.”

It is very necessary for the rich or parents of prodigals to train their sons as strong men – for strong men are NEVER PRODIGAL. In their training the husbanding of natural resources becomes engrained in their nature, never to be erased. He becomes extremely Aberdeen Scottish with his life, his property and his future. Something prayed for by the parents of the rich or the prodigal. Scotchmen are famed in song and story for success, but no PRODIGAL EVER WAS!

All this hullabaloo is to point out the absolute necessity of a man making himself more manlike through invigorating his natural resources. Pious men approve of the Japanese monkey motto, “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil,” and hold that cripples are lucky because their feet cannot carry them into wickedness and if they have no brains that they are safe from all ideological propaganda. This is all very true. The strong and wise are far more alert than the “good,” and avoid being good or evil through their physical and psychial senses being more healthy and closer to their maximum tops . . . than of the cripples who form the “good” and “bad.” The man who makes himself close to his “best” can live no other way than close to his “best.”

There is nothing that compares so favorably to proper training on weights as mountain climbing for well fed persons. Well fed mountaineers are large framed and strong. Even the doctors, and few classes are more ignorant on exercise, recommend stair climbing for heart trouble. Heart trouble is so scarce as to be unheard of among mountaineers. Very few of you have mountains . . . graded weights with proper training is far better and more convenient.

Weights were used for many years with small results in comparison to the average weight user these days. The reason? Equipment was inferior in those days. Weights were used among the Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks in ancient days. The mother of Alexander the Great procured for him the best of instructors on weights because he was small for his age and being a non-favorite with papa he would stand no chance of succeeding the throne being both runty and weak. She picked the brainiest boys and men for his associates and as a youth, though small, he was very strong. Because of his training he continued to grow long after average Macedonians ceased.

The best schedule for upper body exercises one uses 10 repetitions and increases with slight poundage. “The leg repetitions are done in 20 squats . . . increasing weight at chosen intervals. After one has registered considerable improvement his gains may stop and his hopes are in increasing the repetitions. Many advanced men use in the neighborhood of 20 to 40 type. Some of these birds such as Eells have had to change their repetitions about as often as a ship furls and unfurls the sails rounding Cape Horn when they get in the advanced class. Both Eells and I have met with absolute failure deviating from the 10 to 20 repetitions on beginners . . . and many with months of experience. More repetitions making them thinner.

Man gains with equal ease between 15 an 45 . . . although very few believe this. A man’s possible top is 42 years of age and he will show little change downhill till the middle 60’s. This sounds like Grandpa Nestor’s tale, but nevertheless there are strong men living now who that have been active supermen for 50 years or more. You will notice these horrible records show that a man is ready to be good at the ages that 99% think is “too late” for improvement. 42 is the age of ruin for men you know . . . but none of these men were ever respected for their wisdom or physical prowess. A beginner gains fastest on up to the 45 class. Those less than 23 gain much more slowly. Maybe only three or four inches of chest a year with proper graded exercise with weights. Those of 25 years and older two to four inches of chest in a month is not uncommon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I’m Going to Bench Press 600 Pounds! - Pat Casey

I’m Going to Bench Press 600 Pounds!
by Pat Casey, as told to Bill Pearl (1964)

Strength is something that has fascinated me ever since I was old enough to realize that some people are stronger than others. Even as a young boy I can remember trying to pick up heavy objects just to see if I could do it. This is probably a normal thing to do because most youngsters admire strength. Yet, this is something that I have never seemed to outgrow. I still admire strong men and have always trained with the intention of becoming stronger than anyone right from my first workout, which was over eight years ago.

I started training when I was 15 years old and weighed around 180 pounds at the time. While in high school my goal was to do a bench press of 400 pounds or more before I graduated. During my senior year at Washington High School in Los Angeles, at the age of 17, I was approximately 40 pounds heavier in bodyweight and was able to do a strict bench press with 420 pounds and this with a two-second pause at the chest. Previously I felt that if I could do a 400 pound bench press I would be well satisfied. But now I find myself changing my goals and striving for higher poundages. I wanted to bench press 500 pounds before I was 20 years old. Again I reached this goal. In my mind I hoped that some day I could become the world’s champion bench presser, and this is the goal I’m working towards now.

During my career I have collected much material on the exceptionally strong men in the weight field and have studied and pondered their training programs in an effort to extract anything that I felt would benefit me. In this category were: Marvin Eder, John Grimek, Buster McShane, Doug Hepburn and Paul Anderson, just to name a few, all of whom have been a great deal of help to me in reaching my goal. Personally I feel that Marvin Eder was one of the strongest men, pound for pound, I had ever heard about for overall strength. In fact I tried to fashion my early training after his. Also, I always admired Doug Hepburn, who actually was not a big man at the beginning of his weight lifting career (weighing approximately 160 pounds), nor was he any stronger than the average person. But because of his tremendous drive he was able to add well over 100 pounds of bodyweight to his frame and became one of the strongest men in the world. Anyone who can take 500 pounds off the rack and press it overhead has to be strong!

Buster McShane, a lifter from Belfast, Ireland, has been the British Empire 165 pound weightlifting champion a number of times. He also has done an official bench press of 450 pounds at this bodyweight. We corresponded for several years, passing information back and forth that we felt would benefit one another in improving our bench press.

Little has to be said as to why I admire John Grimek. I don’t know of any bodybuilder who has not had Grimek as his idol. Here is a man who has held numerous weightlifting titles and a physique that is ideal. He not only has the physique that is Herculean in appearance but has the basic power to back it. I have talked to many of the top physique stars and they all seem to agree that John has done more for bodybuilding than any other person, and has set many of the standards that we follow today.

Paul Anderson has always been admired by me because of his exceptional strength and the way he can toy with such tremendous weights. This always amazed me. I find it hard to believe that anyone can do a full squat with 1100 pounds, when my back nearly breaks under 600 pounds. He has given all of us power lifters many goals to shoot towards.

Last July I set an unofficial world’s record in the bench press with 541 pounds at San Pedro, California. My official world record was 530 pounds. This was made in Pasadena, California during 1963. My goals have changed again, however. I am now shooting for a 600 pound bench press and I am confident that I can do it with the training program I am following.

In the past few years I have changed my training program many times with the idea of finding ways to increase my power in this lift. Lately I have confined most of my training to four different exercises, and these four seem to help me more than all the others I used to employ in the past. These exercises are: (1) the incline press with dumbbells, (2) parallel bar dips, (3) triceps press on a flat bench, and (4) the regular bench press. I have achieved maximum gains in the bench press while using these exercises. In my own case I use very heavy weights, low repetitions and repeat each exercise in several sets. I have listed all this in the routine which you will find below.

The following is the training routine I highly recommend to anyone who wants to increase his bench pressing ability. I would not recommend adding it to your present training routine. It should be done as a separate, specialized training program for best results. Of course if you follow it as suggested you’ll readily understand why other exercises could not be used effectively. But to become a really good bench presser you have to concentrate on bench pressing and those exercises that favor this lift.

Chins, rowing movements and curls may be added to this routine if you feel you have enough energy and want to do more exercises. However, squatting should be cut down to about 10 sets a week. To be effective squats should be done on alternate training days, and should not be included with your upper body routine when you’re working for bench pressing power. Six to eight repetitions should be enough for each set.


Bench Press –
1 set of 10, warmup set.
3 sets of 3, medium weight.
6 sets of 1, heavy weight.
3 sets of 3, medium heavy.
1 set of 20, pump set.

Triceps Press with Barbell on Flat Bench –
1 x 20 reps, warmup.
8 x 3 reps, heavy.
1 x 5 reps, medium.


Incline Dumbbell Press –
1 x 12 reps, warmup.
5 x 4 reps, heavy.
1 x 20 reps, pump set.

Parallel Bar Dips –
1 x 10 reps, warmup.
8 x 3 reps, heavy.
1 x 10 reps, medium.

Bench Press –
same routine as Monday.

Triceps Press –
1 x 10 reps, warmup.

Dips –
1 x 10 reps, warmup.

Alternate 5 sets of Triceps Presses with 5 sets of Dips for 5 reps of each.

About once a month a limit bench press should be tried. This should be done on a Saturday. The week that you plan to go to the limit on the bench press there are several things that you should follow:

(1) Avoid doing any squats that week and cut your regular upper body exercise routine in half.

(2) Try to rest as much as possible during this week. I recommend that you get about 10 hours of sleep each night. If this is impossible, get as much rest as you can but not less than eight hours.

(3) You should cut down on all starchy foods, but eat plenty of meats, eggs, vegetables and lots of milk. It’s also a good idea to include a complete vitamin/mineral supplement daily.

If the training routine is followed faithfully for at least three months I am sure that any advanced bodybuilder can add as much as 150 pounds to his to his present bench press record. A beginner, who has not approached his limit, can probably gain much more.

This training schedule may not seem like a lot of training to some, but let me assure you that if you work hard and use maximum poundages in your exercises you should realize good progress. You must, of course, have the drive, the ambition to excel in the lift if you want to do a heavy, record poundage. And once you get interested in the lift you’ll be willing to train hard to reach the goal you have set for yourself.

In conclusion let me say that it is very helpful to keep a good frame of mind during your training. Don’t get discouraged if the weights feel extra heavy, just do the best you can under the circumstances. There will be days when the weights will feel lighter and then you should train harder. Everybody runs into such training days. Continue training and you will be able to bench press more than you ever dreamed you could. Here’s wishing you succeed in reaching your goal. I know you can do it, but you got to work for it – GOOD LUCK!

Article made possible courtesy of Jay Trigg.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Periodization of Bodybuilding by Tudor Bompa

Kenneth Pendleton, 1940.

"Kenneth Pendleton is probably the most muscular man in the world since Maxick. The trapezius control which he is demonstrating has never been surpassed in our estimation, nor have we ever seen arms that approach the development displayed on this athlete. You will observe that there is a fullness present in the biceps and triceps which would be amazing even in the conventional "show your muscle" position.
When it is taken into consideration that this man was born a cripple it certainly furnishes the rest of us "food for thought." A handicap has become this man's blessing; it has served as inspiration to encourage him to develop a strong, beautifully muscled body." Roger Eells.
Al Urban photo.

Mr. America, 1970
Casey Viator, Chris Dickerson, Ken Waller

The Periodization of Bodybuilding
by Tudor Bompa (1991)

For more detailed information,
see here:

Periodization Training: Theory and Methodology

Tudor Bompa

Fred Koch

During the past few years I have had the opportunity to consult with many bodybuilders, an experience that I considered a two-way street: Most of them were looking for a better, more structured program of training with a clearly defined purpose, and I wanted to have inside experience into this incredible sport.

Except for the competitors, who sometimes followed a diet and a rudimentary training plan, the only objective I sensed among the vast majority of these athletes was to “pump” as much as possible day in and day out and to attempt to better themselves with the overload principle every time they went to the gym.

These observations led to a lengthy discussion with Fred Koch, as exercise-design specialist and gym owner. I decided to apply my concept of periodization to the sport of bodybuilding. Fred was the first in the United States to employ these new principles.

What is periodization? It is a systematic program that divides a year of training into smaller, easy-to-plan phases. After testing several variants of periodization for bodybuilding, a new training concept evolved that has proven far superior to the traditional approach – a concept that very well may revolutionize the whole structure and philosophy of bodybuilding. Every athlete who has gone through periodization-based bodybuilding training has improved in both muscle size and definition. The following is a brief description of each phase. A more detailed description of each will be featured in future articles.

Phase One: Growth Activation.
This phase readjusts and reactivates all the body systems after the last phase of the previous year’s training cycle. The athlete training in this phase starts out without any feeling of discomfort. Activation means progression, so the training load is of medium intensity and doesn’t stress the athlete physiologically or psychologically. During this training phase the athlete prepares his or her body for the more intense phases to come.

Phase Two: Size and Strength.
This phase provides new increases in the athlete’s muscle mass by employing a step-type mode of training – a weekly regimen based on overload.

Phase Three: Maximum Mass.
This phase allows the athlete to build on Phase Two, making possible even more muscle mass and tone without the onset of stagnation.

Phase Four: Mass Refinement.
In this phase the athlete is introduced to endurance-oriented training, which enables him to perform many repetitions over a given period of time. The intent of this type of training is to progressively adjust the athlete’s neuromuscular system so that the body develops more energy to perform a given training task. The athlete also uses more fat s fuel during this phase, which means that the fat below the skin disappears. The result is more muscular definition.

Phase Five: Maintenance/Recovery/ Transition.
This last phase incorporates necessary rest and relaxation with a maintenance training regimen. Here the athlete removes fatigue from his or her body and relaxes and replenishes energy for the upcoming new yearly plan. In a sense the athlete is charging the battery for a new bodybuilding season.

The periodization of bodybuilding establishes crucial elements of a new training philosophy that allows the athlete’s body to progressively adapt, in an exact manner, in order to increase muscle mass, tone, power and definition. Bodybuilders using this approach will have a clear goal and follow a definite plan, the main objective being to peak in the months when they want to look their best. This is all possible with periodization.

The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Six - Tommy Kono


The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Six
by Tommy Kono (1970)

For more detailed information, and several useful weightlifting products,
see here - click >> << click

A Theory of Acceleration as Applied in the Pull

In this installment I hope to convey to you literally and graphically the idea behind the pull employed in Snatching and Cleaning. Applying this “pull theory” I wish to develop the idea a step further to illustrate that “banging” the thighs with the bar does not add impetus or acceleration to the bar in the quick lifts.

Figure “A” shows a barbell resting on the floor. The heavy black arrow pointing down from the bar to the floor indicates the amount of weight resting on the floor. The heavy black arrow pointing up from the floor meeting the first arrow helps illustrate the equal force being exerted by the floor; a law of physics.

Let us now study figures “B” and “C”. The trapezoid represents a certain weight. The thick arrow, the amount of force which is slightly greater than the weight of the trapezoid. The thinner arrows indicate additional forces.

Figure “B” shows maximum force being applied on the block of weight. Since we can apply a burst of full force only for a short period we have used it up at the beginning of the pull which means the finish becomes weak. This might be similar to a bullet leaving the muzzle of a gun pointing straight up into the sky. The bullet leaves its source of power at a tremendous velocity but as it begins to gain altitude it loses its speed and eventually it would have spent its momentum (from friction of the air and the constant pull of gravity) and halted its ascent. Then, it does an “about face” and starts descending, picking up speed as it comes plunging down to earth.

Many good weightlifters pull in this fashion. They believe that a tremendous yank can get the bar traveling and then they rely on the momentum to get the bar up to the proper height. While the bar is traveling up the same lifter feels he can now concentrate on going down under the bar. This is one of the reasons why the “yankers” catch even the light weights with a terrific impact on the chest. I have seen more than one national champion injure his knee cleaning a weight in this manner with his record attempt.

In figure “C” the same amount of arrows (indicating force) are shown as in figure “B” but in the reverse arrangement. Here the idea has been to apply more force as the weight gains height so at the peak of the pull the greatest amount of force is applied. The idea is similar to that of building up the speed of an auto from a dead stop; acceleration. In this method of pulling even after the pull force has ceased the momentum developed by the acceleration will carry the weight (barbell) a little higher before coming to a halt and starting its descent.

The acceleration of pulling is important for two basic reasons: (1) The bar continues to travel upwards even after the (accelerated) force has been cut off as in the case when the lifter loses contact with the platform with his feet in going into a squat or split, and (2) The reaction of pulling the hardest at the end of the pull means PULLING THE BODY DOWNWARD EQUALLY HARD WHEN THE FEET LEAVE THE PLATFORM in squatting or splitting.

The acceleration method of pulling makes the lifter extremely dynamic and fluid in action when the maximum pull and descending transfer of force is made. This method of pulling also insures a “softer” catch when the bar is received on the chest or overhead as the case may be for cleaning and snatching, unlike the hammering effect of the “yankers”.

Figure “D” is drawn to show how a light weight is handled using the principle of acceleration. Not all of your maximum explosive force is applied at the finish of your lift. The beginning pull is prolonged before the “gear shifting” takes place. The lighter the weight the more prolonged is the power of the initial force applied before fuller force is called into play.

If you have been “yanking” the bar off the floor try employing the acceleration method of pull and see how much higher you can pull the weight in performing your High Pull exercise. Wear a pair of wrist straps and wrap them around the bar and use the above method of pulling. Have someone check the height of your pull. Can you match the height with the same weight using the “yanking” style?

Now, let us proceed to part two of this installment which is in regard to “banging” or striking the thighs with the bar in pulling. Since the rule was passed by the FIHC (now called FHI) several years ago, which allows a lifter to “graze” the thighs above the knees in the act of pulling, many lifters have deliberately cultivated a technique which “bangs” the thighs, believing that this action will assist them in lifting a heavier weight. I know of one very good lifter who strikes the bar on his lower abdomen and wears a foam rubber pad at this particular area in his trunks for this purpose.

Study the accompanying drawings of the cars. Drawing “A” shows a car striking the guard rail and continuing to drive. At point one (1) before the car struck the railing it is traveling at 70 miles per hour. Would the car have a faster speed at point two (2)? Same speed? Or slower speed?

Now, study drawing “B”. In “B” the car comes close to striking the guard rail but at no time comes in contact with the railing. If the car speed is 70 miles per hour at point three (3) what will be the speed at point four (4)? Faster, slower or the same?

Any striking or sharp turns by a car will slow the car down rather than help to accelerate it. So it is with the movement of the barbell. Hitting any part of the body with the bar while pulling not only slows the bar down but can throw the bar out of the correct path and make you lose the necessary leverage to make the lift. Striking the bar with the body usually causes the bar to go into a swing rather than to stay in a pull. Usually the hitting of the thighs is more deliberate in the Snatch lift than in the Clean (I am not referring to Power Cleans here).

When the “grazing the thigh” rule was first introduced the Soviets did so because they had learned from their various studies that the bar MUST be pulled close to the body in order to achieve the greatest pulling efficiency. They discovered too that in pulling the bar close to the body the thighs often “brush” against the moving bar. “Brushing” or pulling close to the thighs means added leverage to your pulling power but to strike the bar on your thighs is a definite detriment in your quest for an accelerated pull.

If you find “bouncing” the bar off your thighs assists you in developing a stronger pull then YOU HAVE NOT ACQUIRED THE RIGHT PULLING POSITION FOR THE FINISH OR SECOND PART OF YOUR PULL! More than likely you have positioned your body wrong after the initial pull, a point already discussed in Part Two of this series.

Series made possible with the help of
Regis Becker and Reuben Weaver.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Change for Your Pulling Routine - Tommy Suggs

Tommy Suggs

A Change for Your Pulling Routine
by Tommy Suggs (1969)

During the course of a year there are always a few weeks or even a few months which can be described as the doldrums. The doldrums are when you just finished training for a contest or training yourself to a peak and you suddenly feel what Dr. John Gourgott apply describes as “post contest depression.” No matter what you call it – doldrums or post contest depression – the symptoms are the same. You are tired of the same old exercises, especially the three Olympic lifts and the standard assistant exercises. Your enthusiasm drops and consequently you slack off on your training and lose ground to your competition who are still training hard. The recommended cure is always the same – change your routine. The only problem is that very often it is difficult to find new exercises that will work the muscles in a new and different way yet strengthen the same muscles used in the Olympic lifts. I would like to present a training program for he pulling muscles that will be new and different and at the same time strengthen the muscles used in the pulling portion of the three Olympic lifts (press clean, snatch, clean for the jerk).

Power Rows
This is one of the best exercises around to work all of the pulling muscles. Take a grip between your snatch and clean grip. Take a grip between your snatch and clean grip. First take a position as if you were going to do a deadlift – head up, back straight, hips down. Now raise your hips until your back is parallel with the floor and the weight still resting on the floor. Now keep your hips in the same position – with your knees slightly bent – and raise the weight off the floor until the bar is a few inches below your knees. This is the starting position of the exercise. Now straighten up a few inches and at the same time pull with the arms trying to touch the bar to the lower portion of your chest. As soon as you exert a pull with your arms and while you are still pulling with your arms, lower your shoulders to the starting height and try to touch the bar to your chest. Lower the bar to the starting position (not to the floor) and repeat. The motion should be performed with an emphasis on pulling the bar fast and with a snap at the point where you stop straightening the body and lower the chest to touch the bar.

The Power Row has to be one of the best off-season exercises for the pull. Every muscle used in the pulling motion is strongly worked. Let’s take a look and see why and how each muscle is worked. First, the Brachialis, the pulling muscle of the arm is strongly worked when they contact to bring the bar to the chest. The rear deltoids and traps are strongly contracted when the arms are pulled back to help give momentum to the bar as it is being raised to the chest. The spinal erectors are strongly contracted during the whole exercise as they are constantly fighting to keep the back arched and must do all the work while at a disadvantage. Also, when the shoulders are raised the first few inches to get the bar started upwards, the spinal erectors do all the work. And finally, the thigh biceps, which few people realize work hard when pulling heavy weights from the floor, is constantly contracted as it helps to maintain balance and raise and lower the body position during the exercise. No pulling muscle of importance is missed with this exercise. This was a favorite exercise of Vern Weaver who had one of the best back developments of any Mr. America winner and who power cleaned 360 while weighing only a few pounds over 200, mainly on the strength developed doing this exercise.

Include this exercise in your workouts on Monday and Wednesday. You need not do any other pulling exercises. In fact, to do more would just lessen your progress. Stick to five repetitions although you may occasionally want to drop the repetitions on your last and heaviest set to three. Here is a sample of how should work up on this exercise if you are capable of a 300 clean. Start with a warmup set of 10 repetitions with 135 and then progress in sets of 5 reps as follows: 165, 185, 215, 235, 255, 275. Remember these points: Concentrate on proper position and a fast snap as the bar travels the last few inches to touch your chest. Stay with five repetitions and include Power Rows in your training only twice a week. And most of all, when you feel strong go up a little heavier than before and if you feel a little tired or overworked slack off and don’t handle limit poundages.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift and Shrug.
It’s usually better not to work the same exercise each workout. Instead, it is better to substitute another exercise that works the same muscles, but give variety. The Stiff-Legged Deadlift and Shrug should be considered a secondary exercise in your pulling routine. The Power Rows should be worked the hardest and with the most mental and physical drive. The Stiff-Legged Deadlift and Shrug is performed on Wednesday to keep the pulling muscles in shape and to provide a change in training so you won’t get burned out on the primary exercise, which in this pulling routine is Power Rows. But just because the Deadlift and Shrug is not the primary exercise, don’t think you can just drop it from your routine. It is important that it be included, but just don’t work exceptionally heavy or hard on this particular exercise.

The Stiff-Legged Deadlift and Shrug is performed as follows: Place the feet under the bar in the same position you use when you clean a weight. Grasp he bar with your regular grip – use straps to aid your grip with heavier weights – and raise your hips until your knees are almost straight. Keep the knees slightly bent during the whole movement. Now you are in the starting position. Simply keep your legs and hips in the same position and raise the shoulders until you are standing upright. As you reach the upright position shrug your shoulders as high as possible. Try to touch your traps to your ears. Lower the bar to the floor while keeping your knees slightly bent and repeat. Your lower back and traps will get a tremendous workout. Work up with approximately the same poundage you use for your Power Rows and stick with five repetitions. Of course, you will need to adjust your exercise poundages as you progress and become stronger in this exercise.

Train three days a week only. do a pressing exercise of your choice first. Then your pull workout – Monday and Friday do Power Rows and Wednesday do Stiff-Legged Deadlifts and Shrugs. Then do squats. Follow this routine for 4-6 weeks if you have time, or for only a couple of weeks if you have a contest in the near future and want to get back to the Olympic lifts. In any event, your pull will be stronger than ever when you start back on the Olympic lifts and get them in the groove again. Just remember that there is nothing like regular training to keep making progress and there is nothing like variety to keep you training regularly.

Maurice Jones, Canadian Hercules - Walt Baptiste

Maurice Jones, Canadian Hercules
by Walt Baptiste (1941)

While touring England as a professional wrestler two years back, Maurice Jones was publicly proclaimed by the former Scotch Hercules, William Bankier, as being physically superior to both the immortal Eugen Sandow and the mighty George Hackenschmidt.

In my opinion there are only three others who have ever ranked in the same class as the Herculean Maurice Jones. These being John Grimek, a powerful and amazing specimen of physical perfection; Sam Loprinzi, who is strong and possesses a marvelously developed physique; the third, and only other, to rank in this class of superior supermen is the immortal Eugen Sandow who, though having left this world, continues to be the inspiration of millions throughout the world.

Any man who is classed as an equal to or better than Sandow is indeed in a class by himself and deserves praise. Thus Maurice Jones deserves the title “The Canadian Hercules” bestowed upon him. For outright Herculean proportions Maurice has no equal.

The author has seen Maurice take a 100 pound solid iron dumbbell with his left hand and with no apparent side bend press it ten times to arms’ length. He did it so easily there is no doubt that he could have done ten more.

Maurice Jones has never included weightlifting proper in his program but used barbells only as a means of body building and strength building as he firmly believed, as do all bodybuilding authorities, that weightlifting motions tend to take all beauty out of a physique.

There has never been anyone who ever developed an outstanding powerful body without doing plenty of squats and doing them heavy! In every case heavy squats are one of the main reasons for their super-physiques. Maurice Jones has done plenty of heavy squats. His brother Ken Jones, who has a terrific build himself, notified me that Maurice uses 415 pounds in his routine, doing it 15 times. He does two or three of these sets in each workout. One day after a heavy three-hour workout he took 450 and did it 10 times. This, after he had already performed three sets of 15 reps with 415 pounds!

Just to show you how really terrific the Canadian Hercules is let me give you an idea of some of the weights he uses in his exercises.
A stiff-legged dead lift standing on a bench using 425 pounds, 15 reps.
A two arm press using 215 pounds, 12 reps.
A regular curl, 135 pounds, 12 reps.
Reverse curl, 120 pounds, 12 reps.
These are just a few but you can get an idea of his power from the exercises mentioned.

Some of his records are as follows.
Military press – 260 pounds.
Regular curl – 175.
Reverse curl – 145.
Without any scientific ability or training he clean & jerked 325.
In all feats of strength he is incomparable. Maurice ranks with the world’s best for abdominal strength and does an abdominal rise with 125 pounds behind his head. He includes apparatus work and handbalancing in his bodybuilding routines, and for a man of his proportions he handles his body with grace and ease.

Maurice can vary his weight almost at will between 195 to 237 pounds. At his most shapely and best condition weighing 210 pounds his measurements are:
Neck – 18.
Chest – 49 ½.
Waist – 32.
Hips – 39 ½.
Thigh – 26 ½.
Calf – 17 ½.
Bicep – 17 ¾.
Forearm – 14 ½.
Wrist – 7 ½.
Ankle – 9 ½.

His largest and most spectacular measurements are at a bodyweight of 237 and are as follows:
Height – 5’ 8 ½”.
Neck – 18.
Normal Chest – 52.
Waist – 34 ½.
Thigh – 28.
Bicep – 18 ½.
Forearm – 14 ½.
Wrist – 7 ¾.
Calf – 18.
Ankle – 9 ½.

On one occasion Maurice trained down to 195 and his upper arm, beautifully shaped, measured cold on a proven tape, slightly over 18 inches. Imagine. An arm this size on a man weighing under 200 pounds with a wrist of only 7½”. Maurice Jones has certainly disproven the theory of wrist size controlling the upper arm measurement.

After his return from England he laid off training for one year. He resumed bodybuilding after this lay off period, and although his strength had ebbed somewhat his physical power recuperated with rapid acceleration. In less than six weeks he performed 3 reps with 245 in the military press, and his biceps once more stretched the tape to 18 inches. Thus proving that great strength and a shapely body once acquired the bar bell way will remain with you through the many years of a lifetime.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Efficient Back Workout - Fred Koch

Figure 1.
When the scapula moves, it stretches the lower lat,
thus producing a full range of motion.

Figure 2.
Behind-the-Neck lat pulldowns are inefficient.

Figure 3.
Stiff-arm pulldowns tire the back
without working the biceps.

Figure 4.
Cobras provide a full range of motion for the back.

The Efficient Back Workout
by Fred Koch (1991)

Waste, waste, waste. With so much of it around I’m sure you’ll agree that one of the last places you want to see it is in the gym. Unfortunately, the gym is one place that abounds with waste in the form of wasted energy spent on wasted exercise motions that have little to do with the way the human body is designed to work.

It’s time to make an honest appraisal of the way we work out and to eliminate those exercises that we do because someone had a hunch they would work certain parts of the body. For once let’s leave waste and guesswork behind and focus on some basic facts concerning a standard back movement, the pulldown behind the neck.

For what seems like eons, trainees have been instructed to do the wide-grip behind-the-neck pulldown on the mistaken assumption that using a wide grip will give them a wide back. This technique has been handed down from generation to generation of lifters, but the question is – does the exercise actually work the back in the most efficient manner possible?

An analysis of the biomechanics involved shows that the answer to this question is no – no matter where you place your hands. It’s true that when you work your back, the more perpendicular to the floor your arms are at the top of the movement, the more stretch and range of motion your lats go through. Since a portion of the lat actually attach to the scapulae, this hand placement results in even more of a stretch in the lower lats (see Figure 1) than when you use a wide grip. Unfortunately, it is anatomically impossible to continue this action through a full range of motion during behind-the-neck pulldowns, so you’re left with only half a back movement. You wouldn’t do only half a bench press, would you? Then why do half a back movement?

Also, consider this: Due to the way your lats attach to the upper arms, pulling behind your neck shortens the movement even more and puts the lats at a pulling disadvantage.

Arm rotation around the shoulder is another important factor. Your back muscles are attached to your arms in such a way that, with your elbows facing forward – as in an undergrip or parallel-grip pulldown, the back muscles are stretched considerably. This technique allows the scapulae to fully rotate, which means a full range of motion and greater lat stimulation, a movement that cannot fully occur when you use a wide grip.

The biceps also play an important role when you work your back, which poses a problem that involves the attachments of your back muscles to your upper arms. Ideally, you should work your back without using your hands because using the hands brings the biceps – which are weaker than your back muscles – into play. When you use your arms to work your back, the biceps usually tire first. This is why you seldom get a pump in your lats with behind-the-neck pulldowns.

The solution is to tire the lats first with an exercise that doesn’t involve the biceps. You can do pullovers, stiff-arm pulldowns (Figure 3) or cobras (Figure 4). After one of these exercises your arms will be strong and your back muscles will be fatigued, which means you can do a back exercise that uses the arms and still effectively work your back.

Undergrip pulldowns will put your biceps into the most advantageous position for you to work your prefatigued back muscles hard. Make sure you let your arms go as high as possible until you can feel your scapulae move up and around in your back. This will stretch the lats at the bottom. Then, when you feel your lats stretch, start the downward movement by pulling with your lower lats, not your arms.

Many bodybuilders stop this movement three-quarters of the way up, which is why they don’t have lower-lat development. If you do parallel-grip pulldowns, pull with your elbows and try to ram them down at your sides. Do not jerk from your low back in order to start the downward movement of the bar, but rather use a piston-type movement. Remember, you are not trying to move the bar from point A to point B; you are trying to work your back.

In order to eliminate wasted time and energy, when you go from one exercise to the next, so not start light and then work your way up to a heavy poundage. Keep your poundages consistent throughout the work sets for each exercise.

Here is a good back routine:

Pullovers or Stiff-Arm Pullovers – 4 x 8-10.
Shoulder Width Undergrip Pulldowns – 4 x 6.
Cobras (see illustration) – 3 x 8.
Parallel Grip Pulldowns – 3 x 6.

Lat Machine Development of the Biceps and Forearms - Charles A. Smith

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Lat Machine Development of the Biceps and Forearms
by Charles A. Smith (1951)

Before beginning this article I would like to thank the authorities without whose help it would have been impossible for me to write this and other latissimus machine features. Particularly helpful information was obtained from the following books:

“Clinics for 1946” by George Morris Piersol, M.D.
“Principles Of The Physical Treatment Of Minor Injuries” by W.H. Northway, M.D.
“Aspects of Physical Therapy And Reconditioning in Army Hospitals” by O. Leonard Huddleston, M.D., Ph.D.

The above books are incorporated in one volume, “Clinics for 1946”, and may be obtained through your book dealer. The volume contains a wealth of knowledge and should be in the library of every authority and instructor.

I am a man easily swayed by emotion. I cannot help this, for I am as I am. Always have I found it easier to think with my heart than with my head. Music affects me deeply and human joys and sorrows vibrate the strings of my feelings with a profundity that sometimes makes me feel ashamed of my softness. My young daughter went downstairs to buy me my newspaper Thanksgiving morning – one of those chores that kids think so very important and productive of reward – and opening it, I read of the Long Island train holocaust. There was the stark, searing tragedy spread over the pages – pictures that told of the horror of broken bodies and blood – of anguish and sorrow and pain. Of the tears of the women left alone in shattered homes, and the agony of those who suffered in the wreck while waiting for rescue. And so I turned the pages and came upon another tragedy – young Tony Scarpati had killed a kid in the gang warfare of our Big Town. And I couldn’t help thinking that here was the greater sorrow, the bigger wreck. A boy, possibly paying for his crime against society with his life. And yet this wasn’t his crime, it was the crime of that very society against which it had been committed. “No place to go, Judge,” said one of Scarpati’s companions, “we have no place to go, nothing to do.”

I have always been of the opinion that we weight trainers bear a larger responsibility to those around us than any other type of athlete. How easy it is for us to guide the high, bubbling animal spirits of the young into the proper channels – into a normal outlet for their excess energy. I wonder if the crime would have been committed and the punishment meted out, if someone had gone up to young Tony and his companions that shot dice or played cards and said, “Hey, Tony – how big’s your biceps?” Just that magic word, that little square of common ground on which the candidates for juvenile delinquency and the lifters can meet. “How big’s your biceps?” Imagine how the young fellows would have compared arm size, would have been impressed by the body builder’s superior muscles, and beyond any doubt. would nave vowed to go and do likewise – imagine how the time previously wasted in outwitting the Law or idly spent in pool rooms would have been taken up builder stronger bodies. Henry Wittenberg, 190-pound Olympic Champion Wrestler and New York Policeman, hit the nail right on the head in a recent interview when he told me, “Kids soon realize that they can’t get stronger and healthier if they keep late hours and generally misbehave.”

Maybe, for the sake of a single word, “Biceps,” and the man to say it, Tony Scarpati will spend a considerable portion of his young life making restitution for the other life he took. Whatever happens, it is good to know there ARE people who care about what happens to young Scarpati and his companions. These are human lives and MUST be saved somehow.

Not only in the field of Welfare and the development of good citizens does weight training play a prominent role. In the repairing of shattered bodies, as well as broken souls, it has enjoyed outstanding success. Our veteran’s hospitals, crowded with wounded from Korea, and from World War II, make extensive use of dumbbells, exercise benches and Latissimus machines – all activities that are immensely increasing the popularity of weight training. In particular has the pulley and the Lat Machine been effective in strengthening upper backs, shoulders, and arms. Because the apparatus affords a greater range of mobility it has also been very prominent in developing the muscles of the upper arms, forearms and fingers after recovery from severe burns and other wounds. The resistance can be as light as a feather, figuratively speaking, and the number of repetitions used high.

In developing the biceps and forearms the Lat Machine has very special value. Curiously, the biceps is the one muscle of the body everyone knows – it doesn’t matter whether a fellow has never heard of a weight, just put your hand on his arm and he’ll say, “Biceps.” It is the general impression that the upper arm contains its greatest bulk in the biceps. This, of course, isn’t true! The triceps forms by far the larger part of the upper arm, yet it is the biceps brachii that is the show muscle, the impressive rising lump that gives shape and seeming height to the upper arm. It is a quick-responding group and a short session with a barbell and dumbbell can fast increase the tape measurement – subsiding in a little while, and needing the greater influence of the lat machine and its ability to reach the deeper, unused fibers of the biceps. The biceps is one of the easiest muscles of the body to gain definition in, and it is possessed of considerable endurance in that it readily lends itself to a great number of repetitions. The function of the biceps is to flex the forearm onto the upper arm and to supinate the hand – that is, turn the hand palm uppermost. If you doubt this statement, then try this experiment. Raise your forearm – right, to a point where it is parallel to the ground. The knuckles should be facing the side or turned out. Rotate the hand at the wrist, twisting the palm up and down while you have the fingers of your left hand on the biceps of the right arm. During the rotation you will experience a full and powerful contraction of the biceps, with the muscle bunching itself up high and hard.

Forearm muscles are among the most complicated in action in the entire body structure. The one ability that human beings possess over apes is that of crossing the thumb over the palm of the hand. Apes cannot do this for the movements of their hands are restricted. The forearm muscles also flex the wrist in all directions, rotating and twisting it. The forearms are also developed by gripping objects of weight and size – heavy dumbbells with thick handles build them up and it used to be a recognized feat of strength for a man to carry a heavy weight in one hand for as far as he could, the athlete covering the greatest distance proving the winner. Important indeed, are the muscles of the forearms, and as Steve Reeves has said in one of his interviews – “If you can’t hold it, you can’t lift it.” Strength of fingers, hands and forearms are important to every type of lifter and every effort should be made to bring these qualities up to a peak. In the exercises that follow, you will notice that with one exception the reps are high. The more blood you pump into these muscles, the nourishment they can absorb and the more quickly they will recover from the effects of exercise.
Here is the way to use this Lat Machine biceps and forearm course. First, go through your regular workout – whatever style of lifting you normally do. When you have finished this, take a short rest of 15 to 20 minutes and then finish with these Lat Machine exercises. During your rest period, drink a glass of fruit juice sweetened with honey, or a glass of orange juice with an egg whipped into it.

Exercise 1.
Lie under the lat machine with your feet directly under it. Use a “thumbs around the bar grip”. The backs of the hands should be towards your feet – the palms will therefore be “facing” your face. From this position pull down on the bar until it touches the chest. DON’T let the upper arms move. Keep them absolutely still at all times. From this position pull down on the bar until it touches the chest. DON’T let the upper arms move. Keep them absolutely STILL at all times. When the bar touches your chest, try and press it down HARD and hold the contraction. Start off with a weight you can easily handle for 10 reps for 2 sets and work up to 2 sets of 20 reps. Make each movement full, complete and with the utmost of concentration.

Exercise 2.
The following is an excellent movement to utilize the lat machine for a peak contraction movement. In this exercise it is necessary to remove the bar and replace it with a broad band of canvas or a belt. Sit on a bench of the floor directly under the lat machine and sideways to it. Reach up and grasp the belt in your hand and sit down again. At this stage, the weight should be OFF the floor with FULL resistance right from the start of the exercise. KEEP THE UPPER ARM STILL. It can be rested firmly against the side of the head. From this position PRESS-PULL down and carry the fist back of the head. When the arm is completely bent at the elbow, hold it and turn the wrist up and BACK. You will experience a violent contraction of the entire biceps. Lower the weight and repeat. Start off with a poundage you can easily handle for 2 sets of 10 reps and work up to 2 sets of 20 reps before adding weight.

Exercise 3.
Place the end of an exercise bench on a box, under the lat machine so that the highest end is RIGHT UNDER the bar. Kneel at the lowest end of the bench and lay your arms along the sloping bench. Grasp the bar in the hands with a rather narrow grip and from this position curl the weight DOWN until the knuckles touch the shoulder. A tremendous amount of contraction can be gained from the use of this exercise. Make every movement STEADY and at the lowest point where the bar touches the shoulders, hold it there and the contraction of the biceps for a short count of three before returning the arms to starting position. You can also make use of an incline bench if using an ordinary bench with the end raised is too uncomfortable. The use of an incline bench is shown in the illustration of this exercise. DON’T allow the UPPER arms to move. Start off with a weight you can handle for 2 sets of 10 reps and work up to 2 sets of 20 reps before increasing the weight.

Exercise 4.
Place an incline bench with the slope towards the lat machine. Lie on the bench and have a training partner pull the bar down to your grasp. Don’t allow the body to move or the back to arch during this exercise. The hand spacing should be just shoulder width apart, the palms uppermost and the arms STRAIGHT. From this position and bending the arms at the elbows, curl the weight down to across the shoulders or top of the chest; return and repeat. Start off with a weight you can handle for 3 sets of 8 repetitions working up to 3 sets of 15 reps before adding weight. It is important to let the biceps do all the work. Don’t let the body help in any way.

Exercise 5.
A considerable size and amount of definition in the forearms can be built by use of the lat machine. While it is but rarely used for this, these forearm exercises have been slowly, yet steadily gaining in popularity because of the high number of repetitions which are possible. Considerable weight can gradually be built up in the exercising poundages, with even the muscles of the fingers and the entire hand benefiting. It is reported that Mac Batchelor has rigged up a special apparatus for exercising the forearms, built along Lat Machine lines. Remove the bar a substitute it with a belt or band of canvas. Place an exercising bench under the Lat Machine and rest the upper arm along the bench with the forearm UP. With the belt grasped firmly, and keeping the upper arm STILL, press down bending the hand at the wrist and turning the palm DOWN until it is as close to the forearm as it can get. Start off with a weight you can handle for 2 sets of 15 reps and work up to two sets of 25 reps.

Exercise 6.
Adopt the same position as in the previous exercise – upper arm resting along the bench and forearm pointing straight up, and grasping the belt or canvas band. From this position pull down and sideways allowing the forearm and wrist to rotate so that the hand turns right down around and UP. This is an excellent movement for strengthening the grip – the fingers and muscles along the back of the hand are greatly affected. Start off with 2 sets of 15 reps and work up to 2 sets of 25 reps.

Exercise 7.
Lay the forearm under the Lat Machine and away from it so that the cable is at an angle. Rest the forearm so that the hand is resting right on the edge of the bench with the palm of the hand facing DOWN. From this position grasp the belt attached to the machine and flex the wrist so that the palm is turned DOWN towards the forearm. Start off with 2 sets of 15 reps and work up to 2 sets of 25 reps. Concentrate strongly when performing all these forearm exercises.

This article concludes the series of Exercising with the Lat Machine. They have been received exceedingly well by all authorities and I have had many letters from physiotherapists telling of the use to which these Pulley and Latissimus Machine exercises have been put. It is nice to think one’s work is appreciated, and in response to scores of requests from body builders and Physiotherapists, I am continuing the series next month with The Complete Science of the Exercise Bench.

The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Five - Tommy Kono

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The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Five
by Tommy Kono (1969)

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The Area of Balance

The subject covered in this article may seem so basic it doesn’t require any explanation yet many times the most fundamental things are overlooked or forgotten while a more complicated manner is stressed. For this reason I am calling your attention to a basic law of lifting in the following paragraphs.

In lifting, the Area of Balance is created by the base of your feet. Any time the bar travels beyond this base, whether it is behind or in front, you have lost control of the barbell. When this happens THE BARBELL WILL CONTROL YOUR MOVEMENT if you want to save the lift.

The Area of Balance is between the middle of the heel bone and between the ball of the foot and the first joint of the big toe. The Area of Balance is the shaded portion in the accompanying drawings. With the feet pointed straight ahead and parallel to each other, you have a greater fore and aft area (figure A) as compared to the feet angled outwards (figure B). This is one of the reasons why lifters who use the lay-back technique of pressing keep their feet parallel to each other – for a greater fore and aft movement of the hips in pressing and for maintaining good balance while the weight travels outward.

The barbell is not like a Yo-Yo where you can throw it away from you and pull it back with a snap of the wrist. If you weigh 150 pounds and you swing a 300 pound barbell (or for that matter a 200 pound one) away from you, you will end up traveling forward with the barbell if you want to regain control of it.

In all your lifting, whether it be pressing, cleaning, snatching or dead lifting (study figures 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively), keep the bar traveling within the Area of Balance for maximum efficiency. Think that the bar must travel within the column of air space created directly above the area your feet cover.

In pulling, keep in mind that for every forward or backward movement of he barbell out of the Area of Balance it means you are LOSING the height of the pull in direct proportion to the distance the bar travels out of the Area of Balance. Naturally, in the press, if the bar travels out of the Area of Balance in competition, you’ve lost the lift since you will have to take a step to regain your balance under the weight.

Figures C and D illustrate the correct and incorrect way in maintaining your balance over the Area of Balance. In figure “C” the actual balance is placed on the ball of the feet which is the correct technique. With this technique you have better control of your body movement. In handbalancing it is termed the “over-balance” technique. By having your balance on the balls of the feet you are able to “grip” the floor with your feet. In figure “D” you see the balance centered approximately in the middle of the Area of Balance and this leaves you very little control. This type of balance is akin to a boxer being caught flat-footed.

Series made possible with the help of
Regis Becker and Reuben Weaver.

The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Four - Tommy Kono

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The ABC’s of Weightlifting, Part Four
by Tommy Kono (1969)

For more detailed information, and several useful weightlifting products, see here -
click >> << click

In this installment of the ABC series the information presented is directed more toward the benefit of the squat style lifters; however, the material in this article can be useful for both bodybuilders and power lifters.

Generally speaking, a majority of the squat technicians in the Olympic lifts can pull into the shoulders more weight than they can rise with. Or, should they have the ability to stand up from the squat clean they lack the extra power in their legs to jerk the weight overhead. This is often the case despite the fact that the lifter had performed many sets of heavy squats in training.

Improper squatting technique not only wastes the lifter’s time but also gives him a false sense of power in the legs which do not really serve him well for the squat style clean & jerk. What then, constitutes good technique in the squat exercise which will aid in the Olympic lifts?

The drawings accompanying this article show three of the variations used by the lifters of which one is the better style. Note the differences in the three techniques and figure why one is better than the other two. Compare the following explanation with your own.

Detailed Explanation of the Correct and Incorrect Methods

Figure “A” shows the body in an upright position which places all the stress on the thighs in coming out of the deep squat. Figure “B” illustrates a squat with the back inclined forward which takes most of the stress off the thighs and places it on the back. “B” technique employs a larger number of muscle groups so a greater load can be handled in the squat BUT it does not improve the cleaning ability. This is the style usually employed by the power lifers to get record poundage. A renowned superheavyweight not only employs this technique but also rides the bar NOT ON HIS SHOULDERS but almost on his mid-back; that is, below the rear deltoids. He also uses an extremely wide stance which brings into play muscle groups of the inner thighs. the MORE MUSCLE GROUPS EMPLOYED AT ONE TIME THE GREATER THE WEIGHT THAT CAN BE HANDLED. But, it doesn’t mean that the cleaning ability will improve.

Why is the inclined style an inferior technique to use for the squat clean? In figures “A” and “B” imagine the bar resting on the chest instead of on the shoulders as in the squat clean and it will become more obvious. In the upright squat position it makes very little difference but in the incline technique the body is forced to become more upright to rest the bar on the chest. This means that the advantage of using the back muscles becomes less; consequently, more stress is thrown on the legs, a muscle group unaccustomed to the load since it had shared the load with the muscles of the back.

Quite some time ago two middleweights who at one time or another held the world record in the Clean & Jerk trained together. The first middleweight used to squat with 400 pounds for 5 reps in almost every workout without much difficulty while the second middleweight in his best shape had a hard time performing 3 reps with the weight once a week. Yet, when the squat exercise was performed with the BAR RESTING ON THE CHEST, the first middleweight had a rough time completing one repetition with 375 pounds while the second middleweight who had a rough time with 400 pounds in back was able to successfully make 3 reps with 375 in front. The first middleweight had kept his back flat but used to incline his body forward as he went into the squat while the second middleweight always used to perform the squat exercise almost bolt upright. Incidentally, the 2nd middleweight also had a heavier development of the muscle right above the knees (Vastus Internus) than the first middleweight because of the correct squatting position adopted.

Squatting correctly for lifting requires a certain amount of flexibility in the ankles, knees and hips. This is achieved by stretching the calf muscles and the frontal thigh muscles and an ability to flex the lumbar muscles to tilt the pelvic girdle back.

The key points to remember in performing the squats for lifting are:
(1) Try to maintain a flat back with your chest held high (lungs filled with air),
(2) Keep the upper body as upright as possible as you descend into the squat, and
(3) Attempt to bring the hip joint as close as possible to the ankle joint when you reach the bottom of the squat. This means that the knees (viewing from the sides) will have to point forward and not upward.

Some lifters go into the full squat in the correct manner but instead of rising correctly they either fall into the lean forward technique or lose their flat back and collapse into a “bow” as in figure “C” to relieve the legs of the load and throw it on the back muscles. They can do this in the regular squat but the moment the bar is shifted from behind the neck to in front of the neck as in the squat clean then the effectiveness of the squat exercise is lost. Use the lean forward or “bowed” position and eventually you develop a thick set of spinal erector muscles; especially where the bow is the greatest. Use the bow technique and you also find yourself developing a thicker waist because of the pressure created in the abdominal region and from the thickening of the lower back muscles.

When you fall into the bowed squat position your balance shifts toward the heel which in turn automatically forces the back muscles to take the bulk of the load.

In all of your squatting movements in training whether the bar is resting on your shoulders or in front of your chest, always try to squat with your upper body as upright as possible. Incline or bow your back if you have to with the extremely heavy ones but try to execute the squat exercise correctly for the greatest benefit for your clean & jerks.

Series made possible with the help of
Regis Becker and Reuben Weaver.

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