First Published in the October 1965 Issue
We're only going to talk about one exercise this month. Just one exercise. But if you haven't got the size and strength you'd like, or if you aren't gaining like you think you should then read this carefully because it might be the most important thing you'll do in your weight career.
The exercise we're going to talk about is the squat.
And you've got to know one thing -- that squats are THE exercise for gaining. They're so far out in front that second place doesn't even matter. If you want the absolute, utter maximum power and shapely bulk, then you've got to specialize in squats and there's no sense stalling it off.
About two years ago I had a kid training at my place. I gave him a squat program but he wouldn't go on it. Said he didn't like squats. I let him do what he wanted but he didn't gain much and then about three months ago something happened and I got racky with him.
He was in the gym when I got there. He was lying back on an incline bench and waving two little dumbbells around like he was leading the Boston Pops. I walked over and spoke to him.
"Not really," he said. "She's pretty rough."
"That's too bad," I said. "Because I heard something else today that's pretty rough."
"I heard a bunch of kids were going to start working out here, but they changed their minds because you haven't gained an ounce in the last six months."
He didn't look too concerned.
"Tell me," I said. "Why don't you do that squat program I gave you?"
"I'm gonna" he said. "I'm gonna"
"You know you won't gain without it."
"That's okay," he said. "Don't worry."
"Worry?" I snarled. "I don't care personally if you drop a weight on your Beatle haircut. But you're giving me a bad name."
He looked up and blinked.
"Now," I said. "I'll tell you what you're going to do. You're going to drag your fat tail off that bench and start squatting or you can go train someplace else."
"There isn't any other place to train."
"I know," I said. It's a convincing argument, isn't it?"
He was squatting ten minutes later and has gained more in the last three months than he did in the past year and a half.
Nobody knew much about squats twenty odd years ago. Nobody bothered with them and bodybuilding standards were way down. If you had a fifteen inch arm you looked like the village blacksmith and a forty inch chest would bring out the beast in your old lady. Those measurements wouldn't get you the heroine's part in a Steve Reeves movie.
Squats caused most of the improvement.
You can solve most of your gaining problems with squats alone. You can make gains you've never dreamed of before. You can build up unbelievable bulk and power. You can build up power to the point where you have to be careful with it.
I'll tell you about a guy who wasn't careful.
I used to work out in the YMCA years ago. The weights stuffed in a little room in the basement. It was cold and clammy and water ran down the cement walls and across the floor and into a big hole the rats had tunneled through.
A friend of mine started training there. He was a skinny guy. He weighed about 140 and had a build like Whistler's Mother.
He was trying to get on the Police Department heir weight minimum was 170. He wanted to be a cop real bad though, and he'd have done anything to gain weight.
I told him about squats and showed him how to do them properly. He went on the program you're going to find in this article.
He started squatting and after he'd gained enough he got on the Police Department. But he liked his new power and he kept coming down to the dirty little room and squatting and his weight and power kept climbing up and up.
He finally got to weight about 240 pounds of thick rolling muscle and the old exercise bars were all bent from being draped around his neck.
The department used him on the meat wagon because he could fire drunks into it with either hand.
One night he went all alone into a pub to take out a merchant sailor waving a broken bottle around. The sailor jabbed at him with the bottle and the glass punched into his face. My friend slapped the sailor once very hard with the back of his hand. The sailor went backwards over a table and on to floor and lay very still with his mouth all red and his head twisted around at a funny angle and when they got him to the hospital he was dead.
There's a moral to all that. You're going to build up a lot of power. Be careful with it.
You can do squats any number of ways. We'll discuss different styles in later issues. For now, do them 20 reps in breathing style with all the weight you can handle and then some
You're doing high rep breathing squats for a specific purpose. They'll stimulate your metabolism and force growth like nothing else you'll ever do. They're an absolute must at some stage in your training.
Here's how to do them:
Warm up your knees and back with a few light squats and start the big stuff.
Put your bar on the rack and load it heavy.
You'll find a little bend in the bar lets it ride easier on your shoulders. If you haven't got a cambered bar, take a sledge hammer and slug your straight bar till it bends slightly in the middle. You'll need two bars for your workout because once you bend your squat bar it's no good for any other exercise.
Put padding across your shoulders or wrap it around the bar. Don't try to be tough and see how much pain you can stand.
Step under the bar. Straighten up. Back up two or three steps. Don't back up any farther than you have to. This isn't an afternoon stroll. Face the rack when you're squatting. If you work as hard as you're supposed to you'll be too beat to jockey around with it afterwards.
Keep your head up and your back flat as possible. Fix your gaze on an imaginary spot on the wall just above head height. This will help keep your back flat.
Take three huge breaths. All the air you can cram into your lungs. Hold the third breath and squat. Go down to parallel position and bounce back up as hard and fast as possible. Don't stay in the low position. Breathe out forcibly when you're almost erect. Take three more deep breaths. Hold the third breath and squat. Keep this up for twenty reps.
You've got to work hard enough that the 15th squat feels like your limit. Then keep going and dig out the rest of the twenty. Each one of the last five reps should be doubtful.
You've got to practically bleed on the squats. Work like you never worked before. When you finish the set you should be wiped right out. This is the hardest work you'll ever do but it's an absolute must for success.
As soon as you finish the 20th squat, stagger over to a bench and do 25 pullovers with a light weight. Suck in all the air you can. Concentrate on stretching your rib box.
Squat heavy. Try to add five pounds every workout. You've got to work up into the 300 to 400 pound range for anything really spectacular.
Beat yourself into a mental frenzy before you start the set. Make it a life or death deal. You've got to make twenty reps. Know you can do it. Then do it.
You're only going to do three exercises:
Press Behind Neck: 3 x 12
Squat: 2 x 20
Pullover: 2 x 25
That may not seem like much but if you work hard enough on the squats it'll be plenty. This is a straight breathing squat specialization program.
Work HARD. We're going to get into advanced bulk programs in later issues, but if you aren't squatting heavy you won't get anything out of them. For the time being, forget everything else but getting your squats up to professional heights.
Work to the absolute limit. You should need a 15 minute rest after each set of squats. If you don't you're not working hard enough.
Force yourself. Drive. Keep adding to the weight. Get your poundage up higher and higher and keep adding to it.
Get lots of sleep. Eat lots of good food. Take supplements. WORK HARD! You'll gain bulk and power and be ready for the advanced stuff to come.