Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Softening Up For Weight Gains, Part Two, John McCallum

Softening Up for Weight Gains, Part Two
by John McCallum
from Strength & Health (January, 1970)

I went to visit my Uncle Harry the other night. He's got a one bedroom thing on the 12th floor. He met me at his door.

"C'mon in," he said, "and I'll be with you in a minute. I'm on the phone."

He went into his bedroom. I walked into the living room but I could hear him talking on the phone. "Listen, Shirl," he said, "call me some other time, will you? I've got company."

Uncle Harry's living room is right out of Playboy. The furniture is black leather and the floor is three inches of crimson wall-to-wall. He's got deep toned semi-abstracts on the walls, and a professional looking bar in the corner with enough booze eon the shelf to float a small boat.

Uncle Harry came out of his bedroom.

"What's with all the sauce?" I asked him. "You don't drink that much of it, do you?"

"I don't drink at all," he said. "The girls do, though."

"They're not very smart girls," I said.

The phone rang and Uncle Harry went back into the bedroom. "Not tonight, Bev," I heard him say. "I've got company."

He walked into the living room again. He had on cowboy boots, checked flares with a three inch belt, a tan turtleneck, and a creamy colored cardigan. 

"You know, Uncle Harry," I said, "this is a real groovy pad."

He stifled a yawn. "Just four walls and a roof."

I squinted at him but he looked serious.

"Uncle Harry," I said. "You're unreal. How do you do it?"

"How do I do what?" he said.

"You know what I mean," I said. "How do you stay so young?"

He frowned. "What do you meanay so young? I ain't that old, you know."

"How old are you?" I asked him.

He looked up at the ceiling. "Around forty."

"Sure," I said. "Second time around."

He grinned at me. "How old do you think I am?"

I thought for a moment. "About a hundred and seven."

"Fifty-eight," he said. "Fifty-eight and not a day more."
The phone rang and he went into the bedroom. "Sounds good, Alice," he said. "Not tonight, though."

He came out again.

"What I mean is you look like about twenty-eight," I said. "How do you do it?"

The phone rang again.

"Sorry, Flo," he said. "Not tonight. I've got company."
He came out of the bedroom.

"Listen, Uncle Harry," I said. "Would it be better if I went home and phoned you?"

"It's okay," he said. "I took it off the hook."

"Jeez, Uncle Harry, you didn't have to do that," I said. "I'm not that much company."

He sat down. "You're not company at all. I got somebody else coming over tonight and you got exactly one half hour."

"Okay, Uncle Harry," I said. "I'll be gone. I just wanted to find out some more about that softening up thing you do."

"What do you want to know about it?" he said.

"Everything," I said. "Like why it works, for example."

He thought about it for a minute. "The big thing, I think, is that it's such a change. You do the minimum amount of training -- just a few growing exercises. You eat a lot more. You burn up fewer calories. You change your mental approach. You have to gain weight."

"Isn't there a danger of getting fat?" I asked him.

"Some," he said. "You gotta watch it. I usually put on a little fat when I'm doing the thing, but it's easy to work off afterwards and the extra surge is worth it."

"Gimme some more details," I said.

"Well, first, of course, there's the workout," he said. "I make a few changes in that."

"Like what?"

"I already told you what I do the first month, didn't I?"

"Yeah," I said. 'You did. Seated press behind neck, 3 x 12. Squats, 1 x 30 with six big breaths between each rep. Breathing pullovers, 1 x 30. And stiff-legged deadlifts, 1 x 20.
"Right," he said. "That's for the first month. Now, for the second month, I make a few additions.

"I still start with the press behind neck," he said, "for three sets of twelve. But, when I finish them, I go straight into lateral raises for the deltoids. I do them standing erect for three sets of fifteen, and then bent forward at right angles to the floot for another three sets of fifteen.

"The big thing," he said, "is to pump the deltoids. Don't worry too much about how much weight you use. Do them in very strict style, with as little rest between sets as possible.

"I take a short break," he said, "and then do the squats and pullovers, both with plenty of heavy breathing. One set of thirty each.

"Then," he said, " I do hip belt squats. I cinch the bar up real tight under the crotch, use small plates on the bar, and put a 2 x 4 under my heels. That way I can squat right down until I'm practically sitting on the floor. I do three sets of fifteen and my thighs pump up like balloons.

"Now," he said, "I do the stiff-legged deadlifts the same way as the first month. But, when I'm finished them, I do shrugs. Three sets of fifteen as heavy as I  can. I try and get a full range movement out of it so that my shoulders raise and lower three or four inches.

"And finally," he said, "I do pulldowns to the back of the neck with the lat machine. I use a medium width grip, not too much weight, and concentrate on getting a good pump."

"That sounds like a pretty short workout," I said.

"It makes you grow," he said. "That's the main thing."

"What else do you do that's different?" I asked him.

Uncle Harry got up and turned on the stereo. It's a thousand bucks worth of mahogany and gold mesh with more controls on it than a rocket ship. The whole thing is faintly illuminated by a dark green swag lamp hanging right above it.

"Anything you'd like to hear?" he asked me.

"Anything," I said. "It doesn't matter."

"How about a little Deanna Durbin?" he said. "Or maybe some Nelson Eddy?"

I ignored him.

"Just kidding," he said. "Camp is out."

He put on a Gordon Lightfoot.

"Well?" I said.

He sat down again. "I change my diet a bit," he said. "I'm always on a supplemented, high-protein diet, you know, but I loosen up a bit for the gaining thing. I still take the supplements and proteins and all, but I add a few things I don't usually eat."

"Like what?"

"Desserts," he said. "But it's a change, and that's the idea of the whole program. It gives you a load of extra calories so you can soften up and gain weight."

"Anything else?" I asked him.

"Oh, sure," he said. "I eat potatoes and bread, too. Normally, I hardly ever eat them, so it's a real treat for me. I bake the potatoes and slather them with butter and grated cheese and eat them skins and all."

"Do you eat white bread?" I asked him.

"Oh, no," he said. "Just whole wheat. I prowl through the European stores and the delicatessens and buy the darkest, heaviest bread I can find. Bohemian rye and pumpernickel and so on. I make it into big, thick sandwiches with cheese or meat or something and wash them down with milk."

"You still drink milk, eh?"

"Sure," he said. "More than ever."

"How much?"

"When I'm on this program," he said, "I drink at least four quarts a day. Sometimes more."

"That's a lot of milk," I said.

"Sure," he said, "but it does the trick. It's really great for softening up and gaining."

"Okay," I said. "Buy any time you see a bull coming, you better brace yourself."

"Don't worry," he said. "I will."

"Anything else?"

"Supplements," he said. "Take a lot of supplements."

"You always do, don't you?"

"Yeah," he said, "I do. But I take about twice as many on this program. It makes all the difference."

"What do you take""

"Practically everything," he said. "I use protein powder, vitamins and minerals, good oils, anything I feel like. I just take an abundance of everything and don't worry too much about it."

"It sounds like a pretty creamy deal," I said. "What else do you do?"

Uncle Harry opened his mouth to speak, but the intercom buzzed and beat him to it. He went over and spoke into it.

"Great," he said. "C'mon up."

He walked over and put his hand on my shoulder. "That's it," he said. "Split."

"What d'ya mean?" I said. The half hour ain't up yet."

"I know," he said. "But Trixie got here a little early."

He took my arm and ushered me to the door.

"Listen," I said. "I want to talk about the rest of your progarm."

"And we will," he said. "Some other time."

He opened the door and pushed me out into the hall. The elevator doors opened and a redhead stepped out. She came down the hall with her lips parted and a walk that would have been censored out of an Italian movie. Uncle Harry took her arm and guided her through his door.

"Okay," I said. "But I want to know about the program. I'll phone you."

He stepped into his apartment. "Not tonight," he said. "I've got company."

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