Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Training the Beginning Female Powerlifter - Michael Boyle

Ken Leistner, Joe Weider, Fred Hatfield

Training the Beginning Female Powerlifter
by Michael Boyle (1985)

As more women participate in weight training and compete in the various strength oriented sports, the need increases for more information relating specifically to the female lifter. This short article is intended to aid in the preparation of novice female lifters.

1) Technical Preparation.

Novice women, like all beginners, need extensive preparation in the basic techniques of the powerlifts and a constant emphasis on the maintenance of good form. Although the preceding statement seems to be apparent, the form of many novice women in local meets I have observed is less than acceptable.

Increases in training lifts at the expense of technique must be discouraged. This may mean that increases in training poundages are not made as rapidly, but good technique initially is much important in the long run than the amount of weight lifted in the early training period. Technically proficient lifters are also much less prone to injury.

Proper back position in the squat and deadlift is a vital need for beginners. A flat back is essential to long term success in both lifts. Any forward bending in the squat or deadlift should occur at the hip joint and not in the spinal column.

2) Training Program.

The training program of the female powerlifter should not vary significantly from that of the male powerlifter. Training should involve a well-rounded program centered around the three powerlifts and should involve a well-rounded program centering around the three powerlifts and should follow a simply cyclical progression. Women do not need lighter weights, more dumbbell work, bodyweight lunges or any of the other exercises often associated with “female” lifting. In terms of the physical adaptations to training, there is little difference between sexes. (Note: hypertrophy and rate of strength gain are notable exceptions.)

3) Increasing Poundages.

One problem encountered when training the female lifter is how to increase training poundages without altering the training cycle. Using the conventional 2.5-lb. Olympic plate, the smallest increase in weight possible is 5 lbs. On most machines, the smallest weight increase is 10 lbs. Very often, a five or ten pound increase for women in the bench press or other upper body exercises disrupts the continuity of the beginner’s training cycle by drastically reducing the number of repetitions that can be performed. A woman who bench presses 100 lbs. for 10 reps may only perform five or six with 105 lbs. The five pound increase in weight also represents a 5% increase in the training poundage. A gym frequented by women lifters should have 1¼ lb. plates to accommodate these lifters. The plates allow 2.5 lb. increases and reduce the percentage of increases in training poundage by 50%.

When training on machines, place a 2.5 or 5 lb. plate on the pin rather than increasing by a 10 lb. machine increment. This will allow a more easily handled increase.

4) Physical Differences.

The most obvious difference between the male and female lifter that affects weight training capabilities is the quantity of muscle mass in the shoulder girdle. The smaller and less muscular upper body makes women comparatively poor bench pressers. In addition, the smaller shoulder complex causes problems in the squat. Narrow shoulder width forces the female lifter to be much more conscious of bar placement in the squat. The low bar position is more difficult to maintain because of the smaller rear deltoids and trapezius. Women must maintain the elbows in a high position to the rear and squeeze the trapezius muscles to form a solid base for the bar.

On the positive side, the greater flexibility of women allows them to reach the low position in the squat with less discomfort and allows females to assume an effective starting position in the deadlift.

Coaches of female lifters must realize that novice females often have a background in athletics, but not in weight training. The combination of a highly motivated athlete and a relatively brief background in weight training often leads to heavy poundages performed with questionable technique. The responsibility of the coach is, first and foremost, to protect the lifter’s body. The best protection for any lifter is sound training and ethical coaching.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

30 Minute Workout - Bill Mason

Greek Sports From Ancient Sources

"From the informal games of Homer's time to the highly organized contests of the Roman world, Miller has compiled a trove of ancient sources: Plutarch on boxing, Aristotle on the pentathlon, Philostratos on the buying and selling of victories, Vitruvius on literary competitions, and Xenophon on female body building. With nearly 50 percent more texts than the highly successful second edition, this new version of Arete offers readers an absorbing lesson in the culture of Greek athletics from the greatest of teachers, the ancients themselves, and demonstrates that the concepts of virtue, skill, pride, valor, and nobility embedded in the word arete are only part of the story from antiquity."


30 Minute Workout
by Bill Mason (1972)

How many times have you felt that you had too little time to train, and as a result missed a workout or took a “short” layoff? My guess is that it happens pretty often, even though you are well aware that missed workouts add up to slow progress.

Don’t despair. There is a valid solution to this problem. If you work hard enough, you can thoroughly train your entire body in 30 minutes or less. The routine that I will discuss consists of 20 sets that can be conveniently done in half an hour. If you use fairly substantial poundages the intensity of this routine will definitely build tissue and give you a killer workout. And, due to the necessary speed of training you will be breathing very hard throughout, helping to achieve a considerable degree of cardiovascular fitness.

A short routine has two distinct advantages. First, it can be used when your life is crowded with demands and you are very busy. This half-hour routine three days a week, plus a long shower, will take up less than three hours weekly. The second advantage is for the bodybuilder or lifter who is short of time on a specific day. He can use a short routine in place of his usual two-hour training session and keep himself on the road to positive gains.

The following schedule is for the entire body and should be preceded by a sound warmup. If you are going to complete this routine on time rest as little as possible between sets, and work toward cutting the total time of the workout down from day one.

work the thighs and lower back first. The initial exercise is a warmup set of 20 light squats. If you aren’t too strong yet use a light weight, but if you’re getting there, do the first set with bodyweight. Perform the first few reps slowly, and then gradually accelerate until you are really banging them out by rep 20. Now, move immediately to a set of 15-20 stiff-legged deadlifts. This exercise should be done with as heavy a weight as you can handle for the required number of repetitions. The deadlifts will really work the backside of your entire body. Now take a one-minute break, during which time you should be piling on plates for a final set of squats. Put on enough weight to allow for about 8 reps and then try your hardest to force out 15. Really push this set, as it is the most important one in the program.

Next, it will take you four sets to thoroughly work your back. Superset power cleans and bentover rowing for two sets of each exercise. You may need to use straps to aid you grip if you use heavy enough weights. Use lighter poundages for the first superset and then pile on more plates the second time through. Do 6 power cleans and return the bar to the floor. Immediately do 8 bentover rows. Do the first few reps slowly and strictly. Cheat as much as you need to on the last 2 or 3. Rest one minute before the second superset.

The next four or five minutes you will spend with chest work. I like to do a series of three exercises that include three different angles of work. First, do a set of dips for as many reps as you can manage. Next, do a set of heavy bent-arm laterals on the flat bench immediately followed by a set of incline dumbbell presses. Keep the reps between 8 and 12 for these two exercises, but don’t stop until you cannot possible do another rep.

Next on the agenda is the shoulder girdle, which will take about two minutes to exercise. This area takes a little less time as you have already worked them pretty hard with the dips and inclines. Shoulder work will consist of one superset of high pulls to at least sternum level and overhead pressing. Do at least 15 reps in the high pull with a substantial weight, going as high as possible in the first reps. Then immediately do between 10 and 15 reps of the press. Be sure to force out every possible repetition on both exercises, using some cheating in the final reps. Go to a push press when you can no longer press the weight strictly.

Arm work consists of a series of five exercises that should take you no more than six minutes to perform. Start off with heavy dumbbell curls for 10-15 reps. You can curl with both arms together or alternately, but work hard either way. Next, grunt out 8-12 hard reps with a heavy weight in the incline french press. After that do a set of 6-8 barbell curls with your favorite grip width. Follow this with a set of 10-15 pressdowns on the lat machine. The final arm exercise is a set of 20 heavy wrist curls. Try them at the end of a declined bench.

At this point you should have about five minutes left in which to train the remaining – the calves, abs and neck. Do a cycle of one set of standing calf raises, a set of weighted situps or leg raises, a set of seated calf raises and a set of side bends. Calf to abs, calf to abs. Keep the reps around 20 for all these, then spend the final minute of your workout with a neck strap.

That’s it! It may sound pretty easy to the inexperienced, after all it’s only 20 quick sets. Don’t be fooled. If it’s easy you’re not using enough weight. If you’re going to do this routine on a regular basis for any length of time, don’t up the poundages until you can complete the entire workout in a half hour. Substitute exercises only if they are appropriate variations. Get the rest you need, eat well, and forget about the workout until you’re actually doing it.

Grinders - Randall Strossen

by Randall Strossen (1988)

The iron game has a dirty little secret – it’s the real key to most people’s progress. It alone will transform a bag of bones or a tub of lard into something approaching an authentic husky. The secret isn’t anything illegal, and it isn’t linked in some obvious way to your DNA patterns. For all its wondrous benefits, there’s no place you can buy more of it. It is, however, equally available to all, and it’s just as useful whether you’re a lifter or a bodybuilder. In fact, it transfers extremely well to all parts of your life. If you could put it in a bottle, you might think of it as something that enhances good fortune because the results that follow are nearly always positive and often so stunning that you would think the stuff should be banned.

We call the secret “grinders.”

To back up a little, it’s no secret that the movements that produce the most dramatic gains are the time-honored basic lifts. They’re done with free weights, the poundages are substantial, and they’re the type of exercises on which making your eyeballs pop out leads to another rep or two or 10. And that’s the essence – you grind out more than you comfortably can; you stretch beyond what’s easy; you stick doggedly with it way beyond what most people would consider reasonable. Grinders call for having a quit switch that’s set somewhere around the red line.

Grinders aren’t flashy, they’re never fashionable, and most people avoid them like the plague. Sure, they work like nothing else on earth but at a price. You pay for grinders in the currency of hard work. If you want to succeed, you might as well learn about grinders as soon as possible, so you can reap the benefits.

Consider the average person who lifts weights. For starters, he or she probably chooses a gym for all the wrong reasons. Maybe the aerobics class looks good, or all the machines are strictly the latest generation maybe the color scheme makes it easier to coordinate his or her training clothes. Once in the gym the person picks a training routine that represents the course of least resistance – lots of machine work – most movements done sitting down – training frequency and intensity reduced – multijoint, basic movements avoided. That’s not a good attitude for grinders.

Grinders tend to fit in places that lean toward the primitive. It might be that primitive surroundings inspire brutal efforts, but, at the least, your focus is locked on the rep you’re struggling to complete, not the color or condition of the vinyl. One of the most famous lifting gyms in the U.S. had holes in the floor and a locker room that was so disgusting the municipal health department told the owner to redo the whole thing or be shut down. The lifters barely noticed the surroundings, and nothing they saw deterred them from training there. Down the street was a slick gym with a nice this and an even nicer that . . . the lifters there were strictly local and regional level. The lifters from the first gym frequented the Olympics and World Championships.

One of the best setups I’ve ever seen for grinders was in China. World record-holders, world champions and Olympic champions were more common there than 300-lb. bench pressers in any chain gym. How could athletes of that caliber be expected to produce their world-class results in anything less than a world-class environment, right? Consider the facts – for starters, the squat racks were the old-fashioned design that looks something like a pair of barstools. Many were made from wood, none were adjustable, and they were the wrong height for almost everyone. Short lifters had to pile up plates on the platform, under the bar, so they could reach it. Tall lifters had to stack plates on top of the rack and then balance the barbell on the stack to raise the barbell high enough to get under it. Some put plates under the legs of the rack to prop up the whole affair. Things were shaky at best, and more than once the bar fell off the racks or a lifter nearly ate it going up and down from their improvised step under the bar. Even though the local lifters kept the lifting area neat and tidy, more than once a rat greeted me in the bathroom – not exactly an advertiser’s dream. Nonetheless, there was nary a whimper from the lifters.

It’s tempting to write that despite all those suboptimal conditions, 700-pound high-bar, rock bottom squat with no belt, no wraps and no spotters were ordinary fare. In truth, because the lifters were unfazed by their surroundings, grinding through their training regardless of what went on around them, they produced elite performances. That gym witnessed some of the hardest training on the face of the earth, and the next year many of those lifters were competing in the Atlanta Olympics.

A grinder is any set that has at least one rep you could easily have failed to make, and a world-class grinder consistently gets rep after rep, lift after lift, workout after workout – each step marked by reps that surely might never have been born. Grinders might take the form of a world champion missing a huge weight a few times before making it, or a beginner gritting his teeth to make his full set of squats with 200 pounds.

Some movements are better suited to grinders than others. For example, quick lifts, such as snatches and power cleans, are executed with great speed so you can’t really grind through a dubious rep, although you might have to grind through a series of misses before finally hitting a successful snatch with a heavy weight. Isolation movements and just about anything on a machine can be attacked in grinder fashion, and the results will be good – although the leg extension machine is not well suited to grinders because of possible knee injury. Best of all, however, is grinding through the beg free-weight movements. None rivals the cornerstone of them all – the squat. In fact, the squat is so well suited to grinders that in classic 20-rep squat programs the tough guys end up grinding out 20 reps with their normal 10-rep weights – and as anyone who’s been lifting weights for a while can tell you, the results of such programs are mind-boggling.

Some people fail on grinders because they try to go too fast, too soon, meaning they try to attack a weight that’s too big for them. Because you have to be able to lift the weight in order to grind out reps, it’s important to start with something within your ability. Always remember that when it comes to grinding, it’s the size of the effort, not the size of the weight that’s important. If you do them properly, grinders will reveal their magical properties. Little grinders today lead to big grinders tomorrow, and that’s the path to progress.

Bob Peoples - Pete Vuono

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Bob Peoples
by Pete Vuono (1984)

In May of 1981 the heavyweight squat record was broken with a lift of 863. This was a monumental lift because it broke George Frenn’s immortal 853 American record of 12 years standing. Another longstanding record which has yet to be broken is the 675 American bench press record set by Jim Williams as a superheavyweight in 1972. Powerlifting fans are anxiously waiting to see who will break this record that has already stood for 10 years.

Although these two milestone lifts are great and the eclipsing of them exciting, they are anti-climactic compared to the 181-lb. deadlift record broken in 1972 with 730. This record of Vince Anello’s had erased a record which stood for almost 25 years. This was the amazing 725¾ deadlift of Bob Peoples, who is truly one of powerlifting’s greatest pioneers.

Bob Peoples was born in Johnson City, Tennessee in 1919. His father was interested in gaining strength, and it was he who started Bob training at the age of nine years. During his teenage years, Bob followed a weight training routine written by pro wrestler Farmer Burns. He later followed routines published in Physical Culture magazine. When Bob was 18, he became interested in the deadlift. He made 350 shortly after starting deadlift training and 450 after one more year of work on the lift. Bob weighed only 165 and the year was 1937.

He entered his first contest later that year and totaled 515 in the three Olympic lifts. Bob trained for two more years and entered the Tennessee State Powerlifting Championships. There, he deadlifted 600 pounds.

Peoples continued to train and in planning for his routines he fashioned different training devices and equipment which became the prototypes and forerunners of today’s power rack.

Bob was among the first to employ heavy negative training in his routine. He would take a bar loaded with more weight than he could deadlift normally and slowly lower it to the floor, resisting all the way.

He was also the first man on record to train “extended deadlifts”. Bob constructed a very heavy duty table which he stood on. He then built a huge iron hoop which was large enough to engulf and fit around the table. Weight was attached to the iron circle which
Bob held each side of. He would then lower the ring over the table below foot level to develop power in the low pull.

Another first for Bob was the use of a type of gripping device made from iron hooks. This idea, of course, would later be replaced by straps.

The “cheating” or “bouncing” method was also refined and developed by Peoples. He would take a heavier than normal weight from his self-built power rack and then, by lowering and bouncing the bar off the floor or planks, he would achieve reps with this larger weight.

By 1946 Bob’s deadlift was up to 651¼ performed at the Tennessee State Powerlifting Championships. As part of his training regimen, he had taken sponge rubber pads, soaked them in liniment and wrapped them around sore knee, elbow and back joints to enhance his training. Thus, Bob created another first. He had become the first to utilize training wraps of any kind.

Peoples’ technique was never overlooked as he experimented with alternating, pronated, and supinated grips. He also experimented with inflated and deflated lungs and the position of the back. Bob decided on using deflated lungs and was a practitioner of the now-famous “humpback” method of deadlifting.

He was well aware of flat feet promoting better leverage long before the ballet shoes and gymnastics slippers came into vogue. He always deadlifted in stocking feet. This newly discovered knowledge in technique, coupled with painstaking hard work enabled Bob to deadlift 699 lbs. in the 1947 Mr. South Power meet.

He was also the first to create some now popular innovations in the squat. Bob was one of the first to do serious work with and utilize the “power” squat which is now used by virtually every powerlifter. Upon ascending out of a deep squat, Peoples would intentionally bend forward to utilize the combination of legs, hips and back. To further enhance this movement, he created a harness with a bar inserted through it. The harness encircled the shoulder and allowed the attached bar to “ride” almost halfway down his back. This provided a better center of gravity and thus allowed for a very helpful overload method.

In 1947 in Nashville, Bob deadlifted 710 lbs. and in 1948 had a near-miss with 719 in Detroit. His finest hour of occurred in 1949 in his home town of Johnson City. Peoples, while weighing 181, deadlifted 725¾. This was four times his bodyweight and certainly one of the greatest deadlifts of all time, especially considering Bob was a completely drug-free champion.

Even now this lift would rank third among light-heavyweights according to the Feb. 1982 issue of PLUSA. In fact, at the 1981 World Powerlifting Championships only five deadlifts made in the 181-220 pound classes surpassed the record Bob made 32 years prior.

Through his records, his determination, his great strength and his ingenious inventions, Bob Peoples will live forever in the power gyms of the world.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Deadlift Foundation Training - Roger Benjamin

Deficit Deadlift

Hospital Reps

Deadlift Foundation Training
by Roger Benjamin (1983)

The deadlift has been called The King of Lifts by those who really understand the sport of powerlifting. The amount of training importance put on your deadlift should be greater than that of your other lifts. One stands to lose or gain more in competition with this movement than with the squat or bench press.

If Mother Nature dealt you a cruel blow and blessed you with short bone structure like a dachshund, do not despair . . . you will probably have a good bench. As to supportive deadlift training, contrary to the popular myth you CAN do supportive deadlift training without crippling yourself.

Conversely, if your parents gave you a bone structure like that of James Cash or Chip McCain, you can do deadlifts to the point of overtraining because you’re never in a poor leverage position.

Foundation work for any lift should be done twice a week for anywhere from the first two to six years, depending on what level of fitness you walked into the gym with when you started powerlifting.

The two finest athletes I’ve ever had the opportunity to train, Mike Arthur and James Cash, both had extensive backgrounds in wrestling. I believe that the sport of wrestling prepares an athlete for powerlifting better than any other activity. The physical preparation is total because of unique aspects of wrestling: the work load is placed on both sides of the bones, muscle tissue is stressed for strength along with the ability to carry and recover O2, and the wrestler, like the lifter, is required to deplete energy through weight loss, then ‘suck it up’ and perform in that weakened state.

Wrestling also asks an athlete to maintain total concentration in a circus atmosphere. I’ve seen many lifters step on the platform, totally prepared, and then have to answer a spotter’s question. This requires a switch in the thought process to he other side of the brain. It doesn’t always get switched back in time for the lifter to regain concentration to complete the lift successfully.

Training for our foundation program will be done on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Wednesday, we concentrate on technique and starting position. If this is not stressed early in the program then you’re going to have to teach an old dog new tricks. Spend 20 minutes stretching, concentrating especially on leg biceps. We begin with standard deadlifts, all reps paused at the floor. Emphasis is upon form only, going no heavier than 60% for 3 sets of 5 reps on top. Ease the weight from the floor, once the bar gets to the knees accelerate it to the lockout position. The speed of bar movement is critical, if this is not done you will not enervate the fast twitch fibers. From these, we go to deficit deadlifts off a crate or box about four inches off the floor. Go back down to 135x10, then back up to 45-50% for 3 sets of 10, done is a style of constant tension, that is, touch-and-go. Position is an absolute must on this day an dif the butt comes up faster than the bar, you’re using too much weight!

This is followed by 6-8 forty-yard sprints. Remember, today we work fast twitch muscle fibers and short sprints are one of the finest fast movements a lifter can use. Finish the routine with 60-80 reps on the abs. Don’t forget to stretch down, paying particular attention to calf and hamstring stretching.

Saturday we do strength work on the deadlift and all its related movements. Start off with 20 minutes of a light warmup moves and stretching, then warmup with 3 sets of 10 squats with your deadlift stance and he bar high on your back. Then, we start at 225 and go to progressive sets of 10 reps to one top set. They are all done touch-and-go in constant tension fashion. Concentrate on:

1) The lockout, and
2) Raising the ribcage high at the top to fully contract the upper spinal erector muscles.

Come back down the same way you went up, poundages and reps constant back to 225.

Now we go to what Don Blue used to call “Hospital Reps”. These are done with absolutely horrid form: stiff legs, rounded back and the head down. This is the movement that works the spinal erector muscles whose function is to ‘erect the spine’ and keep it upright. This is a movement that is neglected by so many! Range of motion work is absolutely necessary on this muscle group, but everyone knows you’ve got to keep your back flat when your deadlift, right?

Wrong! Thirty reps, 3 sets of 10, are done in this fashion, touch-and-go. Allow the back to totally round, shoulders are forward, head down, legs straight, then fully locked at the top, raise the ribcage, look up, and thrust the shoulders back to force the lockout. Now, we hit lats with 4 sets of 10 on a lever or cable row machine, and hyperextensions for 3x10 and then you’re ready for calves. Calf strength is responsible for moving 8-10% of a maximum weight from the floor. Flexibility and strength in this area allows a better starting position, so calves MUST be trained. Work in a strict fashion, toes straight ahead, and go to 5 sets of 10. Stretch your calves down when finished. Then, hit 80-100 reps on the abs and your ready for a hot shower . . . and a cold one.

You may need to modify the total poundages to suit your recuperative abilities, but 50 reps on Wednesday, and 80-100 reps on Saturday must be done to develop motor patterns. This foundation program will:

1) Strengthen the muscle tissue,
2) Get never impulses to muscle tissue that has never been called upon, and
3) Develop coordination of the muscle groups involved.

To obtain more specific information of how to do the stretches that will help to reduce injuries and improve your powerlifting, I recommend that you purchase a copy of Bob Anderson’s stretching book, or one of the many others available. It may be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dave Sheppard - Charles A. Smith


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Dave Sheppard
by Charles A. Smith (1952)

In 1947 I was present at a Metropolitan AAU Weightlifting meet in a small hall in New York City. The junior meets were being staged, and in the 132-lb. class a thin, good looking kid walked up to the bar. He was nervous, his knees trembled and he could hardly grip around the knurling. As I remember, the bar weighed 185 lbs., and the kid gave a quick pull, an amazingly fast split, and suddenly there was the weight at arms’ length overhead . . . a perfect snatch.

A year later in 1948 the same boy, as good looking as ever and now getting quite a build on him, walked up to a bar weighing 300, gave a swift heave and smacked it into the shoulders in as stylish a clean as I had ever seen. But, being just 16 years of age, his eagerness and lack of experience lost him what would have been the proud distinction of being the youngest individual to make a 300-lb. clean AND jerk . . . for he failed to recover with the bar. Young Dave Sheppard smiling then throughout his lifting . . . just as he does now . . . impressed me so much that I turned round to a prominent AAU official and remarked, “There is the future middleweight and lightheavyweight champion of the world.”

And he has entirely justified my remarks. At the Senior National AAU weightlifting championships of 1950, held at Philadelphia, Dave in the lightweight division erased a record that had stood for years . . . that belonging to the immortal Tony Terlazzo . . . when he made a great 252-lb. two hands snatch for a new national mark . . . and this year, lifting in the middleweight division, at the Senior Nationals in Los Angeles, he gave Pete George the fight of his life and actually outlifted the champ with a beautiful squat snatch of 280 lbs. Only the fact that Pete was the lighter man enabled him to retain his National title, for the totals of Pete and Dave were identical . . . 860 lbs.

Dave is no Johnny-come-lately. He was first introduced to physical culture at the early age of 12, when he started in with gymnastics. The work on parallel bars and roman rings gave him a lot of power in the arms and upper body, while the constant leaping over the High Horse packed his thighs with spring-like strength. You couldn’t say that Dave began as a weakling, for in him strength has always been present.

When he was 14 years of age, his parents bought him a set of barbells, and Dave began to train in earnest. But he had no good course of instruction to guide him. He used any old lift that he thought would build him up . . . incidentally that first time he ever touched a barbell, he pressed 125 pounds, and for nearly a year he was entirely without an organized schedule, training himself by trial and error.

When he was 15, Dave entered his first contest . . . the Junior Metropolitan Championships. He was so nervous and frightened that he almost put his clothes on and went home without lifting, but Mike Mungioli who happened to be present talked to him and more or less calmed Dave down.

More on Mike Mungioli:

It was the second time in his life that Dave had lifted on an International type bar, and his inexperience led him into many lifting indiscretions . . . for instance, he did his best lifting in the warmup room, using very heavy poundages, and leaving his strength on the warmup platform. The result was that when it came time for him to make his attempts he lifted way below his best. It says much for his potentialities that despite the fact that he had tired himself out, he won first place, yet with a total 60 pounds below his best.

And that was not all. To enter this contest he had reduced his bodyweight by 14 pounds. Those well known lifters and officials who were present liked the young, smiling, good-natured lad and gave him plenty of advice among which was the futility of taking off too much bodyweight just to enter a particular division. “Your first contest should be for experience only, Dave,” said Mike Mungioli, and Dave Sheppard learned that the best lifting . . . the kind of lifting that stamps you as a star, is done not in the warmup room but on the lifting platform itself. “The idea,” said Mike, “is not to lose your power just to get down to a certain bodyweight, but to know how much you can safely reduce without losing an ounce of your strength.”

Immediately after the contest, Dave joined the German American Athletic Club, fully recognizing his need for competent instruction. Here he worked hard on the three Olympic lifts and ended each workout with a deep knee bend session. Despite the fact that his lifting was extremely fast, he had poor style on the snatch and clean & jerk. He quickly saw that to succeed, one HAD TO specialize and in not time, Dave was using a Split Snatch style that was as good as any in the country, while his Clean & Jerk poundage climbed so steadily that he was lifting close to 100 pounds more in the jerk than he could in the snatch . . . authorities usually figure a 70-lb. difference.

When Dave moved out of Manhattan and into Astoria, he joined the famous Maspeth Weightlifting Club whose guiding genius is Mike Mungioli. Up until the time he was 18, Dave had used a split for his snatch and clean, but one day he saw Pete George lift and got quite excited over his style. Dave had occasionally used the squat style, but he had never given it a fair trial until he saw how Pete smacked those snatches overhead with an ease that made him envious. His shoulders had always been very flexible thanks to his past gymnastic work . . . and he began to feel more at home using the squat style.

When he joined the Maspeth club his training commenced in earnest. He had used deep knee bends at the German American AC, but merely to end his workouts. Now, Mike Mungioli got him using squats galore. He BEGAN his workout with squats, ENDED it with squats, and even did them DURING the workouts. Some days he did nothing but squats. But under Mike’s expert tutelage he concentrated entirely on building up POWER. He NEVER used more than 5 reps and he ALWAYS used a very heavy weight . . . in fact as much as he could handle . . . and in less than a YEAR, his limit deep knee bend jumped up 170 pounds . . . from 240 to 410. He has also performed 5 reps with 375 pounds.

Then there were the orthodox dead lifts as well as Hopper Dead Lifts, evidence of Mike’s long term correspondence with J.C. Hise. The Maspeth Club is a progressive one. It has always used what are regarded in certain quarters as “unorthodox” methods . . . you and might even call them “screwy” if we were of the same opinion. In the Maspeth Club one can find the “Hopper” and a “Power Apparatus” that helps you to handle extremely heavy poundages overhead . . . there is also a version of the Basic Power Bar . . . in fact the club members use a lot of the power methods I myself have been recommending to you in my articles.

So Dave was introduced to Hopper Dead Lifts, that wonderful exercise that teaches you to move FAST with heavy poundages. And immediately his snatch started to climb . . . steadily and surely . . . keeping pace with his improvement on the Hopper and the increasingly heavy poundages he handled. Capable of an orthodox Two Hands Dead Lift of close to 550, he has handled up to 720 lbs. on the Hopper and he NEVER USED MORE THAN FIVE REPS IN THE EXERCISE.

Dave has very decided views on weight training . . . opinions that powerfully reflect Mike Mungioli’s expert teaching. Sheppard feels that basic body power exercises are a MUST. Dead lifts, deep knee bends and heavy bench and floor presses give you the ability to stand steady under the big weights . . . and these weights don’t feel heavy . . . that’s the good arising out of the use of power movements. Power exercises do much to prevent injuries that sometimes occur in quick lifting when the athlete is inexperienced.

Dave uses the Olympic lifts and their variations in all his training, but feels that all lifters should do as he does . . . take off two or three months every year and concentrate on nothing but the basic bodybuilding exercises. “These effect considerable improvements in your actual Olympic lifting,” said Dave, “and they give you that basic power of body that spells all around strength when you return to your quick lift training.”

Dave Sheppard’s advice to the would-be Olympic lifter is sound and to the point: “Get a good coach . . . and I might add one like Mike Mungioli would fit the bill better than anyone else in the world. A good coach is one who has been through the mill and knows the whole score . . . any kid who is just entering strength athletics should do just what I would do if I was starting all over again . . . use bodybuilding exercises first, then gradually introduce weightlifting and use that more and more until you are engaging in the Olympic lifts exclusively. And remember the importance of developing basic body power.”

Dave’s balanced viewpoint is also reflected in his attitude to competition. When he first started out, he was more scared than a man chased up a dark alley by The Thing . . . now his coolness and sang-froid mark him as a real champ. “It is good to enter competition,” says Dave, “and when you’re in competition or working in the gym, you should ALWAYS give it all you’ve got . . . but the moment you are outside that gym or meet . . . forget it . . . let it ride. Some guys take it too seriously when they lose a competition or miss a lift . . . as we all do at some time . . . they receive too big a letdown and that’s bad for their future lifting psychology.”

Always a hard gym worker, Sheppard trains four and sometime five times each week. He will warm up with repetition snatching using 135 lbs. squat style and then jump to 200. From there he progresses to 215 which he uses for two reps, then he tries single attempts with 230 and 240 pounds and ups his poundage to just under his limit. If that weight goes up particularly well, then he will make a new personal record attempt. Then Dave drops back and makes several single attempts with 230. After his snatches are through, he starts to clean. He warms up with, then jumps to 300, making several attempts before he ups the poundage to 315 and finally 320. Then he goes back to 270 and makes several more single attempts.

After his cleans are through, Dave takes a rest of ten to fifteen minutes and starts on his presses. First he makes eight sets of two reps with 200 pounds, STRICT military style, commencing with an orthodox-width grip and gradually working OUT an inch at a time until the hands are wide and close to the collars. Then he works IN again using five sets of two reps.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Three and Four Day K.I.S.S. Routines - David F. Armstrong

Three & Four Day K.IS.S. Routines
from Power Training: The Key to Athletic Success
by David F. Armstrong

Using the Keep It Simple, Stupid "system" the following programs are suited to trainers working out with weights three or four days per week. The total body is involved in athletic movement, and training should reflect that fact. To be explosive, train explosively! Athletes cannot expect to train in a slow controlled manner and expect the nervous system to recruit motor units quickly. "Bodypart" training is not directly linked to athletic performance potential. Bodybuilding, powerlifting and general strength training will help athletes become stronger and more defined, but often at the expense of speed, flexibility and power production. Training in a fixed axis (on machines) with partial movements eliminates total body involvement, drastically reducing synergistic development (musculature which surrounds the prime movers), and is ineffective for competitive sport training or the acquisition of a highly athletic body and mind. The use of the Olympic and related lifts will produce the desired results, increase flexibility and guarantee explosive movement patterns.

Each session should take between 1.5 to 2 hours. Exercise selection can be appropriately modified to avoid staleness and increase training interest. Use Olympic lifts as a starting point in the exercise selection process. Keep selections simple: one classic lift - the pull, press or jerk - and add the squat as a non-Olympic core exercise. If the snatch is used, select the front and back squats to support the clean exercises. Absolute strength (one repetition strength) and developmental strength (assistance exercises) must also be addressed. Since the main goal of the program is power training, structural exercises involving multiple joint movement are a necessity.

Sets, repetitions and intensity levels should be determined by the individual lifter's experience level and speed of recuperation.

Training Three Days Per Week.

Day 1.
Power Snatch
Clean Pull From Floor
Front Squat
Push Press Behind Neck
Bench Press

Day 2.
Power Clean
Snatch Pull From Floor
Back Squat
Military Press
Incline Bench Press

Day 3.
Muscle Snatch
Power Jerk
Front Squat
Clean Shrug
Dumbbell Bench Press

Training Four Days Per Week.

Day 1.
Power Clean
Snatch Shrugs
Back Squats
Bench Press

Day 2.
Power Snatch
Clean Shrugs
Front Squats
Incline Bench Press

Day 3.
Snatch Pull From Floor
Clean Pull From Floor
Overhead Squat
Military Press

Day 4.
Power Snatch
Power Clean & Power Jerk
Back Squat
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nutrition - Ken Leistner

by Ken Leistner (1986)

With the American public’s penchant for going head-over-heels for every new dietary fad, it should be no puzzle why the lifter is even more prone to grasp onto the latest and greatest nutrition news as soon as it hits the airwaves. My PLUSA columns and THE STEEL TIP have discussed glandular extracts, amino acids, protein powders and the rest of the supplement market that takes a nice percentage of many lifters’ incomes monthly. One may feel that the expense is justified, even if legitimate research indicates that some of these products do not deliver the results they purport to, because of the psychological advantage they provide, but this isn’t logical thought. I have no objections to anyone spending their money as they see fit, but did you ever wonder why PLUSA and every other musclebuilding magazine carries ads that offer seemingly new and/or more effective products on an almost monthly basis? Do you believe that nutritional science is finding breakthroughs that will add pounds to your total that quickly, or is it more likely that as products fall into disfavor due to lack of promised results distributors and manufacturers have to come up with others to take their place of suffer financial loss?

More important than the supplement issue is the inability of most lifters to eat properly or sensibly. Diet is a result of many influences, but at some point common sense has to be injected into the equation if one plans to meet their nutritional requirements for growth and repair. Many lifters do, in fact benefit from nutritional supplements because their eating habits are so poor, but again, this is approaching the problem from the wrong perspective. How should one eat for maintenance, repair, growth, increased muscular size and strength, maximum energy levels, alertness, and comfort. It’s easy to list a number of foods that supposedly supply one with all the nutritional micronutrients needed for good health, but if intestinal distress is the result, or if the products can not be found in a particular part of the country it makes little sense to make their recommendation.

Fortunately, there are a number of non-commercial biased, sensible, easy to implement books that clearly explain in a non-technical way the nuts and bolts of nutrition, and that includes nutrition for the athlete. Most lifters will probably be offended because after reading these books it becomes immediately apparent that those who engage in heavy exercise do not have nutritional needs that are impossibly different from the average man or woman. There is no doubt that doing a 500-pound sets you apart from the crowd, but your nutritional needs are based on things more important than that. One source that I always enjoy reading, having read them many times, is the series of RIPPED books by Clarence Bass. The fact that Mr. Bass is well-educated, clearly spoken and most importantly, very factual in the material presented, holds little weight (no pun intended) in many lifting circles. “How much can he lift?” “He’s too skinny to squat much. How can he tell me what to eat?” These and other pearls of wisdom were uttered by patients or former patients of mine who failed to see that the size of one’s arm has nothing to do with the legitimacy of their claims or information. As it is, Clarence was, many years ago, a heck of an Olympic lifter, often competing and winning at the state and national levels. That too means nothing in terms of the material in the books, but it does let you know that he trains and competes as well as eats. His commonsense approach which relies on caloric control is the one and only way to gain or lose weight sensibly. He suggests the use of some nutritional supplements, especially when cutting food intake down in preparation for contests, or when losing weight for a specific purpose. However, all of the things he recommends are easily obtainable in any supermarket.

Dr. Nathan Smith’s FOOD FOR SPORT, the series of nutrition books by Dr. Ellington Darden, and REALITIES OF NUTRITION, by Ronald Deutsch are “traditional” books which still carry the message of truth and sensibility. As it stands now, the average, hard-training lifter (that in itself is a misnomer, for the average lifter does not train “hard”) may need additional calories to replace the ones burned during training, slight increases in protein (the need of which is quite moderate to begin with), minor increases in consumed electrolytes and water soluble vitamins when training in particularly hot or humid weather, and little else over and above the nutrition needed by the man or woman in the street.

Those few who have made a comfortable living by exploiting a population sample that almost begs to be taken, will, of course, tell you a very different “truth”, citing chapter and verse from “recognized experts” that everything from plant extracts to slaughterhouse refuse will make you bigger and stronger and healthier. One needs no more than a smattering of sense to eat two to four meals per day which supply the number of calories needed to gain, lose, or maintain bodyweight; enough protein from a relatively easy to assimilate source to supply the body with the material needed for repair and growth; enough fat to insure that fat soluble vitamins will be transported and nerves and cells will have what is needed for their repair and maintenance, yet not more than is recommended for good health and longevity; carbohydrates which will contribute to the overall caloric intake and supply the “fuel” for energy producing reactions; and enough fluid to keep the body hydrated and able to complete all of its necessary chemical reactions. Does one need a PhD in Biochemistry to do this? A brochure from a nutritional supplement house? Probably not, but you wouldn’t know it if you walked into most gyms.

You need to have a lot of different vitamins and minerals and the best way to get them is through a variety of foods. The reason that food scientists always recommend eating a “balanced” or varied diet is that this increases the probability of getting all of the varied nutrients you need, day to day. Overemphasis on foods and nutrition wastes valuable time and energy that can be spent more productively elsewhere. Can you eat almost anything? Certainly, if done in moderation and infrequently. Can you supply your carbohydrates and protein at Skyline Chili when in Cincinnati of Sonny Bryant’s Barbecue in Dallas or Bruno’s Pizzeria in the wilds of West Lafayette, Indiana? Of course, as long as common sense is used in choosing the foods that give you the macro and micro nutrients you need for your body to function. It’s time to take “athletic nutrition” down from its pedestal (you’ll note that some of those propping it up have their hands on your wallet) and approach nutrition with the common sense and logic it deserves.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Irregular Training - Reg Park

Jarmo Virtanen
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Al Berman

Larry Kidney

Steve Reeves, Jack Dellinger

Irregular Training
by Reg Park (1951)

More lifters fail because they are bored with training than for any other reason. Static exercise programs don’t give results, are monotonous and interest in training soon ebbs when they are followed for any length of time.

The step up in enthusiasm that a change in a program at the right time gives a lifter, particularly if the new program gives good results, is lasting and terrific. I remember what a boost I got when I first tried alternating movements super-set style, and the way I felt when first using “cheating” movements.

If you feel discouraged, lacking in training energy or if results just won’t come after honest hard work, then here is something for you to try. To begin, irregular training is the term which applies to any training which is out of the ordinary or unorthodox. This does not mean that you are to miss a lot of workouts, or that you will train one week and then take the next week off. Irregular training has many valid uses when applied properly, and I will try to explain some of them here.

This is an advanced form of training, and should not be followed by anyone with less than a year’s solid lifting. It must also be used with a specific purpose in mind. It can be used for power . . . gaining weight . . . definition . . . specialization on a specific muscle group or lift . . . or to lick that sticking point. These are only a few of the possibilities, but I will explain them first in this article.

Bodybuilders have often been criticized for their lack of strength and power. While it is of course ridiculous for anyone to presume that a man can have massive muscles built through weight training and not possess above-average strength, the complete development of maximum physical power is a specialized subject.

The display of maximum strength depends upon three factors – muscular power, energy, and familiarity with the lift. Muscle power and muscle size are separate units, though without suitable muscle size there can be no maximum muscle power. However, maximum muscle size in itself does not indicate the ultimate of a man’s potential power. It is important that this be understood. While the bodybuilder does develop large muscle size, unless he also trains for power this size will not be proportionately as strong as a lesser girth which has been more highly trained for maximum strength.

The orthodox training methods call for training three times a week on average, and performing three or so sets of any particular exercise in medium to high reps.

Now . . . just imagine if you can the thousands of energy units which can be exhausted, even during such a straightforward program as this. Vital energy which must be fully recouped before new power and size can be built. If the program is very severe the energy will always be too deeply tapped during each workout and it will never be completely regained. It is then that the bodybuilder goes stale . . . he is overtrained. On such a program, or one close to it, there is little or no chance for real long-term power progress. It is here that irregular training can be beneficial.

For maximum power the training program must be quite straightforward. There must be somewhat short, intense periods of training . . . spontaneous, highly explosive action, and then rest. Plenty of rest to recuperate fully and to go still further ahead. One way to do this is to limit the workout only to power movements . . . such as squats, various forms of pressing, pulling variations and various shrugging movements. Only four or five exercises should be practiced. Or if some particular exercise or body part is far below the others, this one problem can be trained more intensely by itself. An example is the squat. Suppose your squats are lacking relative to other lifts and you want to gain power quickly in the squat. Then, one of your best plans would be to specialize for a time on only this movement . . . training for power and using irregular training.

Whether you follow only one movement or several, you must keep the reps low . . . not more than 3 or 4 repetitions at the most. You must practice more sets. Up to 10 working sets. You must rest a long time between these sets. 5 to 7 minutes is not abnormal in this case. You must use as much weight as you can possibly handle correctly in all your work sets. You must train not more these lifts not more than twice a week. Once every four days may prove to be even better, depending on how long it takes you to recoup after each session. This can vary, subject to many changing factors in your life and your ability to generate intensity during your training. Such an irregular program will positively increase your power in the chosen movements most noticeably in a matter of months.

The weightlifter often makes his best progress from a different form of irregular training. There is a similarity between the first approach and this one, since each depends upon periods of intense energy and then a long rest. The weightlifter can train hard for two or three days IN A ROW . . then he takes three days off. Another concentrated group of three days’ training and another complete rest for three days. Ronald Walker, the late, great British champion used this method a lot. Sometimes he varied it a bit further and trained a few days in a row on only one lift. Then a rest of several days followed by only another lift and so on. The pattern remains the same, it is one concentrated siege, and then total relaxation from the weights for a longer time than normally followed in the more orthodox training styles. This is one way irregular training can be used to develop power. I have only hit the highlights, but you should have a good idea, a starting point from which to base your experiments.

Now, for gaining weight. As explained previously, the orthodox 3-times-per-week full body training program is often so severe when practiced by more advanced lifters that their energy is always being drained, and never builds up a really good extra reserve. Of course, the ability to lift intensely and to recuperate from it varies in each individual. Some will thrive on the hardest of programs while others can only come back from less. Don’t forget . . . IF YOU ARE MAKING GOOD PROGRESS IN ANY PROGRAM . . . THEN REFUSE TO MAKE A CHANGE REGARDLESS OF WHAT ANYONE TELLS YOU. There will be some that the orthodox training style will suit ideally for periods of time. They should not make any change until they cease to realize progress. But once that progress DOES cease, then a change is in order, and irregular training may be the answer.

There are certain growing exercises. Exercises which have been proven over the years to be ideal for mass tissue growth. Tops among the list are squats, repetition clean and presses, deadlifts, rowing and bench pressing movements. Up to 5 sets each, two training days a week, in higher reps of 15 or so, and there should be a lot of concentrated heavy breathing between the last 5 reps when the effort is most intense. Pullovers can be alternated with the heavy movements to extend the period of forced breathing.

If you want a fuller weight-gaining program, then use an appropriate variation of one of the five basic movements, 2 to 3 work sets each with moderately high reps. If you follow the longer program (and when done correctly it can be extremely taxing), train only once every five days. Remember, I am talking here of squats, deadlifts, clean and presses etc. for 2 to 3 sets 8 to 12 reps, all performed with breathing pauses in the last few reps of each set in order to enable you to use weights that are very close to your single-set maximums. These two points are important. Working exceptionally hard and resting long enough to not only recuperate from your labors, but allow ample time for new and more strength to develop. The diet must of course be sufficient during this program.

Irregular training for weight gain has still another variation. You can perform the longer program as outlined above for one week, taking three workouts that week. Then, the next week you do no lifting whatsoever. This will often work where other methods have not. Such an irregular training program can break a sticking point when applied at the right time. If you have failed making progress for some time, give it a fair trial and put all you have in. It may get you started again.

Irregular training in which less than three workouts per week are taken is one of the major reasons why seasoned lifters and bodybuilders reach their maximum size and strength after they have been training for 10 or 15 years. As a man grows stronger it takes longer for him to recuperate, if he chooses to work at near maximum levels.

In specialization for muscle delineation and definition, irregular training can also be implemented. Again, the orthodox, thrice weekly programs are passed up during this time. A complete workout is taken as many as 6 times a week. Fairly light weights are used so that not too much energy is exhausted during the workouts and the exercises are performed with considerable speed, little or no rest between the large number of various exercises, and the reps are quite high – up to 20 or so. You must dress warmly and sweat a lot. Such a program should never be followed for more than a few weeks when desiring to reach a peak in physique definement. It is not intended to be a regular, long-term program. I followed a program similar to this while in Florida, and admit that I was very tired after two weeks of it, but, most of the surface fat had been burned off as a result of my hard work. As I said before, the program is only for a specific purpose and should not be followed for more than a few weeks at a time. Holding this type of condition once attained is temporary when also seeking health as well as strength.

The last use of irregular training I will now discuss is for maximum muscle size. Here too the orthodox program is replaced by a new and novel one. You take TWO workouts a day, three times per week. One workout is taken in the morning and one in the early evening. The program is split up between upper body movements and lower body moves. Morning seems best for the lighter upper body movements, but this can vary among trainers. The flushing approach is of course followed in which all the exercises for one part of the body are performed before moving on to another. In addition, super sets are used. A set of one exercise and then a set of another opposite movement. For example, a curl and a triceps pressdown, a bench press movement and a rowing motion, or an overhead press and a chinning exercise. No rest whatsoever is taken between these two movements which form a pair and can be considered as one set. The purpose of this routine is to pump the area with blood, and you will find developing the ability to use respectable poundages this way will bring a greater muscle pump. Here too, such a program cannot be followed for more than several weeks, but it will make some improvement in your physique during that time. There may not be much in the way of bodyweight gain, mainly an overall “fuller” look.

As can be seen, irregular training opens up several new avenues of training possibilities. When the right time arrives, decide what you desire and give it a fair trial.

Joe DiMarco - Armand Tanny / Dave Yarnell

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Joe DiMarco by Armand Tanny (1967)
* with additional material from Dave Yarnell.

Dave’s intro to the Muscle Builder magazine article, from the book
“Forgotten Secrets of The Culver City Westside Barbell Club” --


Get the 25% off coupon code here –

The physique photo is one of Joe DiMarco at the tender age of 18, circa 1948. As of this writing, Joe is alive and well and currently 80 years of age. He is still training and, believe it or not, still competing, and still in the A.A.U. Joe holds World Records for the A.A.U. in the 75-79 and now 80-84 year old Master’s classes, across the 198, 220 and 242-lb. classes, with the 220-lb. class being Joe’s “normal” class. Mr. DiMarco trains at Dave Fisher’s Powerhouse Gym in Torrance, California.

Joe met Bill “Peanuts” West at the famous Vic Tanny’s gym, a.k.a. The Dungeon. Here is a brief excerpt from the Oldetimestrongman website about the gym:

Just a stone’s throw from the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California, was Vic Tanny’s Gym. Shortly after World War II, Tanny converted a 7,000-square-foot USO center, which was located in a basement on 4th Street, into the best-equipped gym in the United States. It was huge, with 15-foot ceilings and, as you can see (photo in book), all kinds of training equipment. Vic Tanny’s was affectionately known as “The Dungeon” and was THE place to train during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Regular members included Steve Reeves, George Eiferman, Joe Gold (of Gold’s Gym fame) and Arthur Jones, Bill McArdle, Zabo Koszewski , Olympic lifting greats Tommy Kono and Dave Shephard, one of the stars of “Wagon Train’ along with a whole host of others.

It was where Bob Hoffman and the York gang trained on West Coast trips.

The following article from Muscle Builder magazine by Armand Tanny featured Joe and a few photos. The article gives a good overview of some of his philosophies, some of which he has reiterated pretty much verbatim, from memory, in our recent conversations, so the info in this particular article is the real deal with no exaggerations, B.S. or things added by the editors to spice things up, as does sometimes happen. There are a few corrections that Joe offered. For example, he said he never was above the 230’s in bodyweight and never competed in the 242-lb. class. Also, Joe said he was doing a touch-and-go bench press with 505, not 450, at that time and that the length of the back injury recuperation was only a couple of weeks. The back extension bench seen in the photo was actually built by Bill West for Joe.

Joe started training in 1945 at the age of 15, and was 5’ 10” at that time, but was compressed down to 5’ 8” during the time frame of the article. A couple of these details were off a bit. Joe pointed out that upright rows are not a lat developing exercise like the article stated, and he felt the need to expound on the “belly toss” bench press that was more or less glossed over in the article. Details on this will be discussed further on in this chapter (of Dave Yarnell’s latest book). The upright row in the picture was not a typical Westside exercise, and the picture depicting the use of pads on the bench press was for loosely performed standard benches (not the belly toss here), and you’ll notice there is somewhere around 500 lbs. on the bar.

You can see by this article that Joe was one of the more innovative members of the Culver City Westside crew, yet somehow he seems to get bypassed in many a modern day article or story about this club. His good friends Bill West and George Frenn get far more attention, and even Pat Casey, who was a latecomer to the club, is far more well known to the current lifting public than Joe is. Of course, Pat was the first 600-lb. bencher and first to total 2,000-plus, so his recognition is well-deserved, but I have to wonder if Bill, George, Pat and the rest of the crew would have made the stellar accomplishments they were famous for if Joe had not been part of the gang.

Muscle Builder Article by Armand Tanny

There is a twilight zone full of lost souls who used to be junkies, vice-presidents or power lifters who let their bodyweight go past 200. The latter group was beyond salvation unless they zoomed up to 300, a condition few of them had the structure or appetite for. Recently established, the 242-lb. class becomes an oasis on that barren stretch between 200 and 300 pound behemoths who wait around licking their chops for any panting hopeful who thinks he is safe at home.

Joe DiMarco became a permanent resident of this limbo early in his career. When he bulked up to 270, he was gasping for breath; when he went down to 210 he was merely an onlooker. But today, at 230, DiMarco becomes a different kind of cat. The cat is out of the bag and has taken with him a few of his tricks, like a bench press, touch-and-go, with 450. Plagued with a bad back for a long time he had cooled it on the heavy squats and deadlifts. Through the use of a specially contrived bench he keeps at home, he has regained full back power, and his lifts are beginning to zoom. In practice at the West Side Barbell Club in Culver City, with playmates like Bill West, Pat Casey, Len Ingro, Bill Thurber, George Frenn and Dave Davis, he does repetition squats with 520 and deadlifts with 550. He has no doubt of his ability to soon make a 600-plus squat and a 700 deadlift. At his present bodyweight at 5’10” he has massive development, big arms, and thighs that measure 27”. He had them up to 31½” when he was heavier.

No novice, Joe has been with the weights since 1947, when at 17, at height of 5’10” and weighing 127, he took up bodybuilding at Al Stephan’s gym in Minneapolis. The 1946 Mr. America exerted strong influence on Joe so that by the time he was introduced to power lifting in Los Angeles by Bill West in ’58, he was a powerful heavyweight. He entered a couple of contests at that time, then dropped into obscurity. His love for the weights persisted, however, and he continued training, always in the background, frightening Pat Casey on occasions with his bench press, and constantly experimenting with new ways of doing things. In time he returned a training favor by showing Bill West (now 1966 National Champion at 198 lbs.) the value of incline bench pressing. Joe was the first weightlifter to exploit the incline press and led the way for a long time with 380.

With a certain stubbornness and a belief in his convictions, and although he trained with the group, his natural curiosity led him in other directions. When the others were pressing off the bench, he was lying on the floor pressing off blocks. The power rack bench press as Casey developed it could have been the outcome of this early method. Joe, himself, has made a 440 bench press off the power rack with a 32” grip. Dead starts like that strike at sticking points, and sectional development becomes possible.

Then came the belly toss. This movement was the opposite of dead starts pressing off the blocks. He worked on this cheating style until he was using uncontrollably heavy weight, 600 lbs. for 6 reps, and 660 for a single. All these efforts, undisguised dedication to a cause, still. largely undisclosed, made for the great power Joe possesses today. Though he may bull around a heavy weight on the belly toss, he subscribes to perfection of movement. A machinist by trade, working with close tolerances, he may have developed a high sense of perfection and prefers to train with a thick, recoilless bar so that he doesn’t come to depend on external help. With a “dead” bar he fells in full control. The heavy traffic in bench press technique disturbs him somewhat, and he wishes the incline press could be adopted as the official press movement of powerlifting. As an exercise he prefers it to the flat bench press in both feeling and muscle building. There little chance of cheating on the incline press, no springy rib box, no arch and less influence of bench width. He has a point there.

To ensure that no area of development can escape detection, he works a wide range of motions. Along with inclines he does declines to supplement the regular bench press. Consistent with this “three-way” development idea he does three different movements for the upper back, whose development he finds makes an effective bench press launching pad. Joe estimates that lat development adds 40 pounds to his bench press and he integrates it with extensive lat work: (1) chins behind neck; (2) upright row; (3) long incline pulley. The upright row thickens the rear deltoid, a smart addendum to high back work. Nor does he reserve punishment on these exercises. On the long pulley he works with 500 pounds for 5 reps. He mournfully guesses that he is a natural puller rather than a pusher, and by pure prolonged effort he has made himself into an exceptional presser.

Joe always hated squats, which is actually quite normal. He hated Bill West for making him do them. But good sense and ambition prevailed, and he finds himself following a steady squat routine. From George Frenn he got the “head up” idea, the labyrinthine principle that somehow connects the balance mechanism of the ear with the firing mechanism of the muscle along the spine. He has squatted with impunity lately, and his lift is soaring.

He has a private belief regarding reps – and it works for him – as he approaches a limit lift. 10 pounds = 1 rep. If Joe can do 2 reps on a near limit weight, his limit will be twenty pounds more. Or, expressed differently: 3-rep weight + 30 pounds = single rep weight. Though he believes in Bill West’s forced singles method, he inclines a few degrees to his own equation and practices his own heavy reps.

His next deviation from established procedure produced an innovation he refers to as the “static system.” In a sense it closely parallels isometric exercise. Joe does a static bench press whereby he lowers the bar to within an inch of the chest, holds it for a count between four and eight seconds, then presses it back to arms’ length. The feeling goes deep as the effort probes untouched levels of nerve stimuli. He may do only two of these lifts following his regular heavy singles. Joe carefully times each effort, starting at four seconds then increasing gradually to eight as he grows stronger. His workout partner verbally ticks off the time, and since no two men count alike, he must depend on one particular person, which, in this case, happens to be omnipresent Bill West.

Where most lifters are glad to get a lift past their sticking point, Joe does his static dance right ON the point. Like on the deadlift. He pulls the weight to his sticking point – which in his case is fairly low because he has a powerful high pull – holds it for the count, then finishes the lift. Any sticking point should retreat in the face of a barrage like that. As a result his lifts have the smooth airiness of an outside elevator.

He attributes much of his recent squatting and deadlifting progress to a bench he built for doing body extensions. Commonly performed, the upper body extends off a horizontal bench for this exercise. His bench inclines about 30 degrees so that the hips rest on the peak higher than the strapped down feet. This setup permits a perfect range of motion, one full of feeling, that allows him to arch high and back consistent with the demands of both deadlifting and squatting. The movement is free of the pressures that go with heavy lifting from the standing position, while at the same time flushing out injuries and building strength and muscle. He does 5 sets of 12 with 65 lbs. behind the neck. A private device he keeps at home, should he care to air his brainchild, this bench could have important consequences.

A family man with a job and a night school schedule, Joe is forced into regularity. He tries for nine hours sleep. He eats fish, chicken, seldom beef and take vitamin B complex, vitamin C and pure wheat germ oil, not the oil mixture types. A keen observer of his own functions, he found his early morning heart beat was six less, from 60 to 54, when he was taking wheat germ oil. This certainly adds up to extra energy for workouts. Before a contest he takes hot tea and honey.

The time demand of work, school and family life force him to spread his workout schedule to four-a-week, two upper, two lower. He must have one day of rest between. Joe believes in two workouts a week and plans to return to that schedule when he can. He believes two hours should be the maximum for a power lift workout. Beyond that, alertness ebbs.

He questions, “Why should the 32-inch bench press grip rule apply to both featherweights and heavyweights when they are so vastly different in size?”

This raises other questions, like the width of the bench. Where’s the equality between a heavyweight with a 26-inch shoulder width and a featherweight with 18 pressing off the same bench 10 or 12 inches wide? Maybe different benches for different classes?

Joe DiMarco’s Basic Workout

Tuesday and Saturday

Bench Press
425x five singles.

Incline Press
350x five singles

5 sets of 10-15 reps with bodyweight.

Thursday and Sunday

465x five singles

Front Squat
5 singles with 300 to 375.

335x 5 singles
525x 5 singles

With the advent of the 242-pound class DiMarco should be right in the van making an assault on its records. But most of all he is a strong man with a simple love for what he does and a searching mind to go with it. He is one of power lifting’s natural resources. He merely has to be mined.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Shoulder Training - Reg Park

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My Shoulder Training
by Reg Park (1952)

The subjects of weight training and strawberries are poles apart. Nothing less relative to each other can be imagined, yet considered in the light of experience, they are closer than a man and his own skin. The things we believe in and the behavior we evidence in the world at large are largely the results of what we experience. a fellow can give an opinion on a certain subject and do so as a general viewpoint, but nevertheless his opinion is based purely on personal experiences, or the experiences of others. In other words, how a thing affects HIM determines his attitude towards it.

If you eat strawberries and come out in a rash afterwards, you can certainly conclude that the fruit has particularly harmful effects, and no one will blame you if you hold that strawberries are bad, when you advance that opinion. Some people will believe you because they have had the same reactions you had, while others will tell you that you are mistaken. They’ve eaten the berries and come to no harm.

The same principle applies to bodybuilding and lifting. The opinions of some weightlifters and the teachings of certain instructors are conditioned by their experiences and the results they have obtained. If, for instance, a man gets a huge chest and muscular latissimus dorsi from the practice of the straight-arm pullover, he will maintain that the exercise is a marvelous and productive one. If, however, he uses the pullover and gets nothing but badly sprained deltoids and sore elbow joints, he will rightly conclude that the movement achieves nothing but injury, that it is no good.

I have discussed this factor of the individuality of training results with every prominent bodybuilder and lifter I have come in contact with. I have been fortunate, for I have traveled all over the earth during my Army service and afterwards when I gained prominence as a weight trainer, and I have never lost an opportunity to canvass the opinions of the greats of the lifting world. No matter on what point of training these men disagreed, they were all together on one main issue. These experts have always believed and taught that while it is possible for a bodybuilder or weightlifter to follow a “general” routine, when it comes to specialization he should take into consideration each and every personal factor. He should consider his temperament and his daily habits of life. His manner of earning a living, his diet and his hours of relaxation should be the objects of just as much careful planning as his training schedule. It was a source of great satisfaction to me to find that the things I had always believed in were also held true by the prominent citizens of the world of weights.

Clancy Ross often told me, “Reg, you cannot stick to any hard and fast rules of training once you are past the first stages of lifting. You’ve got to pattern your specialization programs exclusively for yourself.”

Leo Robert has never ceased to believe that a man cannot hope to make gains if he continues to train along the same lines year after year.

Charlie Smith put this even more succinctly when he said, “You can give ten men three different basic exercises and they will affect the men in ten absolutely different ways.”

I would call this article “my favorite shoulder routine” because the movements in this program gave given me the best all-around results. I have always worked toward power, shape, and definement in every training schedule I have followed, and I have yet to take a workout I didn’t enjoy. If you enjoy doing a particular job you always put more into it. You work with greater zest and enthusiasm, with more determination than if the job or your view of it becomes simply boring or routine. Because of that simple fact of performing a labor of love, you insert more into your task, get much faster results together with a feeling of wellbeing and a sense of accomplishing something. It a favorable psychological reaction that reverberates and builds upon itself.

You will find as I did that taking notes on your workouts and your reactions to those workouts will help you a great deal in determining the movements that give you what you seek. I have used dozens of shoulder exercises during my training life, experimenting until I found the ones that had the most profound effects on my shoulder muscle groups. The exercises in this shoulder program are those that remain for me after scores have been discarded. These remaining movements are the ones that have given me my best shoulder strength and development.

You will notice that the great majority of them are “cheating” exercises. I have found this style of exercising is suited to my particular type of physical structure and temperament. Many well-known authorities condemn cheating movements for various excuses, the chief among them being that a looser style of exercising produces a poor quality muscle and little in the way of strength. If this is true, then I am left wondering what I must accomplish to prove that I am well-built, and what lifts I must perform to show I am a little stronger than average. Since I have managed to win the Mr. Universe title, break British records in the two hands slow curl (185 lbs.), the bench press (415 lbs.) and the two dumbbell clean & press (235 lbs.), the condemnation of cheating movements appears to be somewhat unfounded. I might add that the dumbbell press of 235 was well within my power. I am capable of 250 ANYTIME. When breaking this British record which has, incidentally, stood for a number of years, I had to keep a STRICT MILITARY POSITION, not the looser Olympic style, and I also was forced to hold the weights at my shoulders for almost a half-minute before I pressed them, to satisfy the referee’s demand for a low enough position.

Here is my shoulder routine. I will make no claims that every lifter who uses it will get the same results that I have. But I am certain that the basic concepts outlined in it are sound, physiologically sound, and if the lifter experiments, takes the trouble to find out the exercises that I use that can fit productively into his training schedule, he will make good gains, perhaps sensational ones.

If I were asked what shoulder movement I would sooner do than any other, I would answer the Press Behind Neck. So far as I am concerned this exercise is tops and has no substitute. I usually perform this first in my shoulder workouts. I have used it since my first days of working out with weights. Sometimes I drop it to rest off, but I always go back to it. I get bigger, better and faster results than from any other movement. It not only gives size and strength, but delineation too, and pumps the muscles of the shoulder girdle like no other movement can. I understand that it is also the favorite shoulder exercise of Melvin Wells. In my opinion, Melvin has the best deltoids in the world. If I am taking a complete workout . . . that is, exercising the entire body, I leave the press behind neck until the last. If I am specializing then it comes first. I use a heavy weight and keep the repetitions low, never performing more than 5 sets, making about 6 repetitions each set. I take the weight overhead to arms’ length and lower the bar to just above the shoulders, pressing it immediately to arms’ length again. In other words, there is no pause between the repetitions and once the set is started, the weight does not rest or touch on any part of the shoulders or upper back. If the last repetition is tough, I get my training partner to place a finger under the middle of the bar and help me up a little.

The next on my list of favorite shoulder exercises is the Standing Two Dumbbell Press. I have used this exercise more and more recently, because I have been training to break the record held by Ronald Walker. Frankly, I do not think it gives me much size, but it certainly improves the muscle tone, and helps develop ligament strength. I use no hard and fast performance rule when using this lift for training purposes. I sometimes press the dumbbells together, sometimes alternately. I even use them seated on a bench, but with the seated variety I lean back just a little and brace myself against my training partner’s knee, which he places in the middle of my back. I use from 4 to 6 sets with a weight I can just get 8 reps from.

If I am working for a poundage record, then I use heavier weights and lower the reps to 2, going as high as 8 sets.

If you are working on a shoulder program, then perform this exercise with the press behind neck, alternating one set or press behind neck with one set of the two hands dumbbell press.

Third on my list of favorite shoulder exercises is the Cheating Side Lateral Raise. In the strict version of this exercise the arms are kept straight, locked at the elbows throughout, and are raised until they are level with the shoulders. In the cheating version, use a heavier weight and bend the arms at the elbows, keeping them bent throughout the exercise. You also use a LITTLE body motion to start the dumbbells away from the sides of the body. Notice my hand position in the photo. I find that there is less stress placed on certain shoulder muscles by keeping the palms facing front, as opposed to facing down. I generally use 4 sets of 10 reps and massage the muscles after each set.

The fourth exercise in my shoulder program is the Cheating Alternate Dumbbell Raise to the Front. Here is a movement for the anterior sections of the shoulder muscles. I start with the dumbbells held on the fronts of my thighs, and I raise them one at a time, swinging a single bell right up to arms’ length, using a SLIGHT body motion and a “lay back” to get the weight overhead. Try and get as much rhythm as possible into the alternate raising, and DON’T bend the arms, but keep them straight throughout the movement. I use 3 sets of 8 reps in this exercise.

In addition to the above, I do lots of bench presses which are good for the entire shoulder, triceps and chest region. I also like the chin behind neck. Here again I use a loose style, adding weight with a belt and getting a bit of a swinging rhythm going.

When I have finished this routine I sometime add some expander work or practice muscle control exercises for the area. After every workout I take a warm shower, allowing the water to run on the deltoids, then rubbing them dry with a very rough towel. This will increase the circulation of the blood and help take away any fatigue products produced by the strenuous exercising. Stiffness after workouts can be kept to a minimum by this means.

I have never had any trouble building size, strength and definement, but I have had to work hard and consistently for it. The fact that I have enjoyed working hard has been partly due to arranging my routines from the exercises that give me the most pleasure to perform. I have given each exercise, each set and every repetition all I’ve got.

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