Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Overload Power System - Bill March

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The Overload Power System
by Bill March (1964)


Everyone in the weight game is training for some kind of power. They may be interested in the Olympic lifts, power lifts or bodybuilding.

There are many ways to go about obtaining this power. Since I gave up bodybuilding in 1960, I have tried just about every way known. Up until my introduction to the isometric power rack, I was of average size and strength for a 181-pound weightlifter. My best total on the three Olympic lifts at this time was 795 pounds.

The first thing I was told about training on the power rack was that I would have to cut my training time from my usual 2½-hour workout to about 20 minutes. This is one of the hardest things to do as you will find out if you try this routine. When you are accustomed to training from two to three hours a day, you feel as though you are cheating yourself but believe me – you are not!

When you finish training you feel like you should go back and do a few more reps or one more set. Forget it. If you train and follow this routine as it is told and do not over-train by trying to do more sets and reps than advised, you will be amazed at your rapid progress in size as well as in power.

As you know any muscle you work on in isometric training is broken down into three basic parts: low, middle and high. This also holds true of any push or pulling movement.

*Editor’s note: Bill refers to the three positions of each exercise – the start, the mid-way point and the finish. Taking the Press, for example, the “low” is starting from the shoulders to six inches above the shoulders; the “middle” from eye-level to a few inches above the head; and “high” is from six inches below finish to finish.

In lifting, pushing or pulling, there are what is called “hard” or “sticking points”. These are your weakest points in the pull or push you may be doing. Doesn’t it seem logical that they are the points you should work?

*Editor’s note: Taking the Press again as an example, if a lifter finds the most difficult phase of the lift between eye-level and a few inches above his forehead, he should work on the “middle” part of his press.

In this routine you will handle weights you never dreamed of handling. Your workouts will be four days a week of about 20 minutes a workout. Training days should be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday should be rest day.

On Saturday you should try yourself out to see how much improvement you have made during the week. You do this by using Saturday as though it were a contest. Whether you do the Power lifts or Olympic lifts, go for your maximum. If doing this every Saturday is too much, then try doing it every other Saturday. This will depend on the individual.

You will find that your Saturday workout is really a light day compared to the great poundages you handle during the week. Also you will find that you have very few, if any, mental blocks on your Saturday workouts because the weights are 100 to 300 pounds lighter than you handled during the week. This is a great asset to any lifter. I know many men who are strong but when the weight gets to 300, 350 or 400 pounds, they become afraid and cannot handle this poundage. It is not because they lack the strength because of their mental attitude. It is not up to par. This routine will bring it up and keep it there.

My routine is broken down into what I call “low position” and “high position” days. This I have done because as I progress and use increasingly heavier weight, the combining of the high and low position places too much work on the muscles and fatigue sets in. This is what we are trying to stay away from. You want to work the muscles to get maximum effort from them but still not overwork or fatigue them.

This system uses only one set of three reps in each position. First thing that has to be done is to find your individual sticking points. You have done enough lifting movements to know where you push or pull hard. Work on this point, do not use mine or someone else’s unless they are suited to you. Remember, one inc up or down on the power rack can mean using 100 pounds more or less!

Here then is my routine as I do it to increase my power for the Olympic lifts. On the Isometric-Isotonic Super Power Rack there are 40 holes drilled one inch apart. Here are the positions I use.

First, before using the rack, I hang from an overhead bar and do 20 to 30 Frog Kicks. This loosens me up and helps strengthen my groin and lower back as well as give my abdominals a good workout.


Monday and Wednesday

Dead Lift – This I do from Hole No 5 (see photo). I DO NOT USE ANY ARMS TO PULL IN THIS POSITION but rather use them as cables attached to the bar, pushing with my legs until the weight comes off the pins at least two inches. I let go of the bar and repeat the movement. O the third rep, when the weight gets two inches off the pins, I HOLD THAT SPOT FOR 12 SECONDS, then put the bar down and move on to the next position.

Low Pull – Using Hole No. 10 (see photo) I pull the bar as high as possible so as to get some bend in the elbows. I pull up twice and on the third hold it for 12 seconds with the elbows bent as much as possible.

Low Squat – Using Hole No. 16 (see photo) I push the weight off the pins as high as possible twice then, on the third, hold it up there for 12 seconds. I use a weight that I CANNOT COME THE WHOLE WAY UP WITH.

Low Press – Using Hole No. 16, I push as high as I can twice and hold it on the third for 12 seconds TRYING TO PRESS THE WEIGHT HIGHER ALL THE TIME.


Tuesday and Thursday

I Dead Lift the same as on Monday and Wednesday as this exercise is to be done on all four days.

High Pull – I use Hole No. 14. Here I use the Snatch grip pulling as high as possible and holding the third rep for 12 seconds.

Middle Press – I use Hole No. 32. From here I press the weight to arms’ length for three reps, holding the third for 12 seconds.

Top Press – From Hole No. 37 I push the weight up three times holding it on the third for 12 seconds.

Quarter Squat – From Hole No. 24 I push the weight off the pins and straighten my legs. On the third rep I bring the weight down to within one or two inches of the pins and hold it WITH KNEES UNMOVING for 12 seconds.

I use the same poundage for one week then increase it 10 or 20 pounds the next. In this I am using more and more each week. This builds a good mental attitude as well as overwhelming power.

If you are wondering about hitting a limit poundage with this routine – don’t. I do not believe there is one! Each time I have taken a layoff from power rack training (about every two months) I always surpass my previous high poundage in each position.

Just for the record and perhaps as a guide for other power lifters, here are the highest poundages I have used up till now in each position:

Dead Lift – 575
Low Pull – 700
Low Squat – 430
Low Press – 525
High Pull – 475
Middle Press – 380
Top Press – 825
Quarter Squat – 1,425


There it is. For real power and a great bodybuilding workout you can’t beat it. This system can be used on the power lifts or any bodybuilding movement. If you do try it, I hope it works as well for you as it did for me and the fellows who train with me.

Article courtesy Jay Trigg

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