Here's a special treat, thanks to an original photo in the mail from Jan Dellinger!
Doug Hepburn at Muscle Beach, one arm deadlift with 415 on the bar.
I'd like to go back to something touched upon in the Volume 2, #8 issue of Powerlifting USA.
- I really had no choice but to post the cover of that issue.
The photo on the front is priceless!
Okay, continuing with the original article:
Bill Starr, for all practical purposes, never did deadlifts and his thoughts were noted. He had other thoughts, just as interesting, regarding the other two lifts. Bill was into heavy squatting, but not for the (often) heartbreaking singles. He would squat twice a week (this for the powerlifts, not the Olympic lifts), once moderately for 5 sets of 5 reps. The other squat day was 3 sets of 5 followed by an all out 5 sets of 3 reps. One has to go HEAVY on these triples. If, after three weeks or so one's legs and hips are shot, back off to 5 sets of 5 for both workouts, both days moderate, and cycle up again.
For the bench, many people, myself being one of them, had told Bill that they would plateau severely between meets. In my own case, the bench always came easy and I never cared for the lift, liking overhead work a lot more. Consequently, if I didn't have a meet or an impromptu $50 on the line, backroom contest coming up, I'd have trouble staying with heavy benching. (Hey, we do exist - especially us oldtimers who found that as the pecs grew, the snatch was harder to position overhead and the rack in the clean would become a juggling act after the bar would hit and bounce six inches in front. Of course, few pursue both types of lifting now, bodybuilding is sort of in, so I don't really expect too many readers to be hesitant to go for the gladiator pecs. ("Hell, man, if your bench don't move, you'll be hit come beach season.")
The following may help. Bill suggested heavy benches, for triples, once a week. Other exercises to be done, all once a week, were wide grip overhead presses (so that 'wide grip' is not misunderstood, use your benching grip when pressing overhead), inclines at 45 to 60 degrees, overhead lockouts in the power rack (from approximately three inches from top position), and dips.
The following is an attempt to present a very workable program following some of Bill's suggestions:
Squat - 5 sets of 5 reps
Bench - 3 sets of 5, 5 sets of 3 ( max for three)
Power Clean - 5 sets of 5 to 3 reps
Clean Grip High Pull - same as Cleans
Press Lockouts (as explained above) - 5 x 5.
Wide Grip Overhead Press (as explained above) - 5 x 5
Partial Squat in Rack - 5 x 5
Shrugs - 5 x 5
Good Mornings - 5 x 5-6
Curl - 4 x 6.
Inclines (as explained above) - 3 x 5, 5 x 3
Power Clean - 2 x 5, 5 x 3
Clean Grip High Pull - 5 x 5 to 3 reps
Dip - 5 x 5
Squats (go for it) - 3 x 5, all out for 5 sets of 3, go to singles once a month
Light Benches - 5 x 5 at 60%
Shrugs - 5 x 5
Good Mornings - 5 x 5
Curls - 4 x 6.
As a quick sidelight, a brief word about injuries. If you've already blown it and haven't avoided it, perhaps some suggestions will be helpful. I decided to break my 11 year hiatus and lift in an Olympic lifting meet (no power meets fit into the current schedule) on March 3rd. On February 14 I received my Valentine's gift in the form of a moderately severe injury. Having thoroughly warmed up, and having done two exercises previously, I was shocked when on my first set of snatch pulls, with a moderate weight, I felt what I first thought was my biceps tendon snap in the right arm. Closer inspection and palpation [a method of feeling with the fingers or hands during a physical examination. The health care provider touches and feels your body to examine the size, consistency, texture, location, and tenderness of an organ or body part.] indicated that the involved muscle was the brachioradialis and the problem was at the origin of the humerus. There was too much pain and edema [swelling] to determine whether I had in fact torn the muscle, suffered a minor pull (to distinguish it from a completely torn muscle), or pulled the origin off of the bone. I showered, packed it in ice and headed for the clinic. Although most authorities would advise keeping the injury "cold" (treating with ice) the first 40 hours, I felt, from past experience, that immediate ultrasound would be positive at this point. I took 10 minutes of ultrasound, having it on "medcolation" at the trigger point of the muscle for at least half that time, iced it again, got adjusted (I won't go into it here, but unless the vertebral segments are properly aligned, healing, like all health processes, will be hindered), and iced the injury the entire night.
I kept ice packs on the arm all day and night Friday (literally, I would take perhaps a 20 minute respite from the cold therapy every three hours). I doubled my mineral intake, increased my protein intake by 30% (and proportionately increased those supplements necessary for proper assimilation of that protein and mineral influx). Saturday, I iced the injury once more and headed for the Boys Club where I did moderate to light squats (top set was 5 with 350), light clean position deadlifts (no straps in order to test the arm) with a triple at 407, moderate overhead jerk supports in the rack (top triple at 305), and form work with a broomstick.
Iced again Saturday night and Sunday. On Sunday evening, Feb. 17, the pain was all but gone. I was able to do some Snatch and Clean form work with my wife's Olympic bar (doesn't every married couple have a Mav-Rik bar in the bedroom? Aren't there others who are told that no vacuuming was done because "I didn't want to move the bumper plates out of the living room. I have to deadlift tomorrow and you told me not to do any heavy work the day before my heavy deadlifts. I did make dinner though.") And I suspect that I'll be able to lift moderately less than a week after the injury.
I'd have to rate the injury as moderately severe (and I've got the experience to rank injures. Between football and a checkered past of brawling as much as any other Polack from New York's Lower East Side, I've had every finger, the left wrist, and an arm broken; in excess of 10 major concussions, gunshot wounds, loss of the medial meniscus in both knees, a few broken noses and other assorted infirmities that are of no interest now). Proper nutrition, chiropractic care, and sensible treatment has insured that I will be able to lift in this meet at full capacity. Hopefully, some of these tips might prove helpful to others.
On Cardiovascular Conditioning
I was really horrified at what was to me the obvious lack of cardiovascular conditioning/reserve displayed by most of the lifters at the Heart of America. That's not meant to be taken as a random or indiscriminate slam at the guys who were obviously athletes, but a number of lifters looked like many of the fellows from "my day". Just big, fat men who seemed to fall into powerlifting due to an inability to succeed at other events, or more accurately, those who have gravitated toward the lifts as a means of utilizing their size and strength and lack of cardiorespiratory ability. I was sort of shocked when lifters would come off stage, panting heavily, and about whipped after performing two squats onstage. I too have been through the tension of a meet, warmups, psyching for a big lift, long delays, and perhaps a bit to much speed (rotary nystagmus was really the order of the day - [those uncontrollable eye movements that come with the territory], but there was little excuse for the way some of the guys were laboring. It's interesting that many of the better lifters also look very fit. (Wadie and Cash stick in my mind.)
Bigger and bigger lifts are what it's all about, but a little overall health benefits would be truly worth it. Some of those lifters looked ILL! One unnamed for obvious reasons lifter sat in the rear of the gymnasium, literally gasping for breath prior to changing into his warmup gear. Even an untrained eye could determine that this man was large framed, and would be at any time "heavy" for his height, but he was carrying a minimum of 30-35% bodyfat, and when you're relating this to men who weight upwards of 275 pounds, you're talking about an awful lot of fat, regardless of height.
Throw some speed, Maxibolin and Deca Durabolin, and perhaps diuretics into the picture (at least for some cutting to 242) and the blood/urine workup would no doubt be a trip. Like any other sport (remember, my football background includes speed before games going back to junior high, the stakes, at least among the local bookies, were that high!), the win at any cost syndrome has really taken over.
. . . "In the old days . . ." Well, I won't pretend guys wrapped in bed sheets just for the sheer comfort of it, but there was a certain spirit of camaraderie, which still exists of course among many of the top lifters (hell, they even see each other, travel together, etc., often enough to foster some type of mutual respect), that permeated to all levels of the game.
My first meet took place at the Venice Beach Pavilion. I walked in and Peanuts West said, "You're lifting today," not "Are you lifting today?" Well, it was Saturday and I was due to train so I forked up an entry fee, got my workout stuff out of the trunk of the old Ford, weighed in, and lifted. I was officially unattached, but had trained at Zuver's
- here's some more on Zuver's Gym you might like (Thanks, Laree!):
but had trained at Zuver's long enough to so that I was, at least for the purpose of drawing lines between the active participants, one of "Zuver's Boys." I knew very few of the lifters at this point in time. I was still newly arrived from New York and, as mentioned previously, had spent a few weeks at Pearl's old place.
I was introduced as a football player from the East, and that was that. The guys from Zuver's, notably Jim Waters, Witting, Willie Kindred, and Bob himself were quite helpful, but so were Dick Moos (I think this was his first West Coast contest as it was Hank Breakers). John Kanter (one of the first meets he lifted at weighing 235, there was no 220 class then. His wife told me that he was eating very large meals, very often, consisting of everything in sight, and one of the keys was copious amounts of papaya juices after every meal. For what it's worth, one of the Arizona lifters at one time told me that Kanter, at least at one point in his training . . . 1968 . . . did few full squats, but rather, did many, many partial and just above parallel squats. Of course, parallel than was also different than it is now. Again, this was not straight from Kanter, but it sounded true to me. Also, many lifters were really intimidated by him. He had been, from what I could gather, a very good football player while in Pennsylvania and a fine physique man . . . he was Mr. Arizona in the early sixties. He was nice towards me, but again, some of the lifters really got spooked by him), and Bill West.
John Kanter in 2011, receiving a CBS Pay It Forward Award:
John Kanter in 2011, receiving a CBS Pay It Forward Award:
I had never seen George Frenn lift, and had heard little about him, other than his renowned prowess with the hammer throw and his ability to lift some big weights. He helped coach Bull Thurber through his benches (with Peanuts) but generally hung out in the audience, talking with everyone, during the lighter classes. He eventually appeared backstage, ready to warm up, then it began. 'C'mon George, you got it, George. You're great George!" Over and Over. "Easy lift, George." Of course it was Frenn himself bellowing out this encouragement.
He had a tape cassette that was blasting out some sort of jazz, and he just started howling at the moon! Man, he just kept getting higher and higher, working himself up to a fever pitch. It was impressive. West's encouragement was almost a toning down in comparison to Frenn's own admonitions to himself. This was all new to me. I'd seen guys run their heads into lockers prior to football games, sometimes drawing blood, but I usually chalked it up to too many black beauties. I thought that warmup rooms were dens of quiet concentration. It was great!
Finally, George had to go out on stage to take his last warmup for the squat (there weren't enough weights backstage). Wearing his sweats, he just kept bellowing to himself that the lift was "easy, George, it's easy," set, stepped back and went down an up effortlessly. He did close to 700 that day in the same manner. Minimal ace bandages on the knees, old shorts and a Cal State Long Beach T-shirt were his only aids.
He was a trip . . . I was told that he got racked up in a car accident once . . . nothing too serious, on his way to Peanuts' garage one Saturday morning. He came staggering in, bleeding a bit, scraped up, and began changing. Someone inquired about the mess. "Oh yeah, cracked the car up. Do I look hurt?" "Yeah . . . look, George, let's get you checked out at the hospital or something. I'll talk to the cops when they come for the car." George just agreed and kept changing. "Look, I'm really beat up from that accident, and I'll get checked and all. I mean I could be hurt, but I gotta lift first, okay?" Yeah, he took his workout first . . . true single-minded dedication.
Bill Thurber performed his benches in a very unique way. Maximum legal grip, but the bar traveled in an absolutely straight line. He spent many hours perfecting this . . . again, the bar did not travel toward the head while ascending and he kept his elbows well back.
A making weight story about Bill March, who could eat more than anyone . . . except Ernie Ladd. For one National Championships, perhaps 1968, Bill, as usual sucked down to 198, losing 15 lbs. in perhaps the 36 hours preceding the meet. Cramps caused him to drop out during the Snatch, so he got a full case of Pepsi-Cola and some food and by the time he hit the scales the next morning he was 218 . . . think he could ingest? I also saw him drink 3-4 quarts of milk prior to a workout (he was loading protein powder into cans during this one hour period. I guess the 'hard work' made him thirsty), and then down a quart of orange juice, a quart of milk and a quart of Pepsi during a moderately hard workout.