Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Some New Ideas on Deadlift Training - George Frenn (1970)

Originally Published in This Issue (January, 1970)

When Gary Young came on the scene and made his record lifts - feats I thought out of my reach before then - his victories inspired me so greatly that I began to reexamine my concepts of training. I held the National record for the Deadlift at 713.5 pounds when I lost to Gary, and at that time my training on the lift was about once every two or three weeks. These workouts rarely consisted of full movements, although I occasionally did 3 reps with 680.

Mostly they were half, or partial Deadlifts, and
from the knee I did 760
from just below the knee I made 775, and 
from just above the knee I succeeded with 840.

My grip was never a problem as I have supported 1000 pounds in my hands without losing it. This was my usual routine and it never changed except just before the York Nationals. In talking to Gary after he defeated me I learned that he did many Deadlifts Off a Box, and that the bar rested on his toes when he did the exercise.

[Note: There's a few photos of Peanuts West in the start position of a deficit deadlift with this article. His feet just fit under the bar with 45's on it, a low deficit position. From the side, his chest is just about touching his thighs.]

Reportedly, Young had made 685 while standing on the low box.

I figured it was a good challenge, so I started to train in this way. I started out by making 500 for 1 rep, bar resting on the toes. After training this way for several months I tried 550 for 10 reps. This I made, but my regular Deadlift was not up any higher. After talking to Bill West I was advised to try singles for a while. I got up to 675 for 1, but strangely enough my regular Deadlift go no better. I kept on the heavy-rep box deadlift program, and with Bill's help I stayed on the singles program for 3 months.

I had almost given up hope that I would ever approach the 720- to 750-pound category when I decided that I would try the Heavy Higher Reps program. This time I set myself a goal of 600 for 10 reps. I figured that if I made this weight I should be able to lift about 765 to 800 pounds for the regular Deadlift.

I started to train very hard. I got back to the 500 pounds for 10 reps. After about six weeks I made 575 for 10 reps at Joe Gold's gym. They said it was very impressive.

On several occasions I tried to make the 600 for 10 reps but I failed. I can honestly say that I have made 600 for 6 reps . . . 625 for 3 . . . and 645 for 2 reps. I believe that on the day I did the 675 for one I could have done two with it. So in the final analysis this was the best lifting that I had done. Still, my Deadlift had not moved above 700 pounds in training, so I decided to lay off. After about 10 days I decided to try again. I went to the following routine:

One Tuesdays I worked up to no more than 425 pounds for 3 sets of 10. That was the entire workout for that night. I then would come in on Saturday and do a warmup in the Deadlift but I never did more than 3 reps with any given weight. After the bar got above 500 pounds I did only singles in 70-lb. jumps.

At first this program was not too successful, but after 3 weeks I got up to doing a full Deadlift with 725 pounds. 2 weeks after that I made 740 and then every week after that I got to be consistent with 750 to 800 pounds. This I did with many witnesses present. I made this lift in late November of 1968.

I also squatted 800 pounds in the same workout. All this at a bodyweight of under 240. At the present time, I can lift over 750 in the regular Deadlift and I'm looking forward to the L.A. City Championships to try and get the record back.

I am maintaining the power by laying off for a week every 3 weeks so that I can give my back a chance to rest. I later discovered that the reason my Deadlift was not moving the way I wanted it to was because, even though I felt rested, my back was still tired.

I firmly believe that the Deadlift can be improved without continuous heavy training. One day during the week should be devoted to the maintaining of tendon strength by the use of high reps with a medium weight. This conditions the muscles without making them tired. Then one day during the week can be devoted to heavy singles.

On the heavy day, I found that as I was beginning to increase my strength I would shoot for a certain poundage for a certain number of singles. So as I was first trying this new program, I tried to make 700 for 3 singles. But maybe on some other heavy day when fully rested I would try for 700 for 3 reps and then I would be finished for the day.

Continually switching your main sets around is a good idea because you continually have new goals to shoot for. One day your main set might be for a maximum single record, or it might be for a maximum rep record. I never do more than 5 reps with any very heavy Deadlift. My bests to date are:

675 x 6
700 x 3
725 x 2.

I hope these ideas help you if you are having the troubles that I was. I really believe these methods work, and that with a little patience and a lot of hard work they will work for you.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Jon Cole, Part Four - Herb Glossbrenner (1994)

Part One is Here:
Part Two:
Part Three:

 "To Compete and Achieve is Satisfying. 
Helping Others Succeed is More So."
- Jon Cole

Herb Glossbrenner (HG): Jon, thank you for the privilege of this interview, and telling your complete legacy. You have been reluctant to grant a lengthy interview in the past.

Jon Cole (JC): It had to be the right time and the right person. I appreciated the time and energy you have put into telling my story. I thank you for the recognition you are giving the forgotten Iron Men of this world.

HG: I look at myself as merely the vault-keeper to the archives of strength. To accumulate material without dispensation would be a human tragedy. Without our pioneers who inspired us modern day powerlifting would not exist. We owe our heritage to trailblazers like you.

JC: You flatter me. Thank you.

HG: No, Jon, thank you. How did you persevere in your lifetime ambitions despite so many obstacles preventing the realization of your dreams? Was it fate or destiny?

JC: Fate? There is no fate. Between the thought and success, God is the only agent. (Quoting Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton).

HG: What of destiny?

JC: Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

HG: Who inspired that pearl of wisdom?

JC: William Jennings Bryan, one of my favorite philosophers.

HG: What is the most rewarding part of your career - lifting or coaching?

JC: To compete and achieve is satisfying. Helping others succeed is more so. It is like a projection of yourself through them. They succeed, and it gives your own self-esteem a kick in the pants. Food for the Spirit. The Bible teaches us it is more blessed to give than to receive.

HG: Yes indeed. Who among athletes have been benefactors of your expertise?

JC: I have 19 pages of names in my ledger. Here are just a few:

Football -
Mark Gastineau, NY Jets
Dan White, Dallas Cowboys
Len Dickie, Green Bay Packers
Mike Hayes, New England Patriots
Wide Receiver John Jefferson

Baseball -
Pitcher Floyd Bannister
Rick Monday, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs
Reggie Jackson, California Angels

Athletics -
Mark Murro and Frank Cavelli, Javelin
Ron Semkiw, junior World record holder, shot put and weightlifting

Golf -
Jan Stephenson
Heather Farr

Tennis -
Chris Evert

Boxing -
Thomas Hearns.

There are a lot more.

HG: A most impressive list. What about your competitions in the World's Strongest Man competition?

JC: A lot of crazy stuff, not tuned to athletic strength, but most conductive to injury.

HG: Like Columbu's carrying the refrigerator?

JC: Yes, and I was the next man after him. I wasn't anxious at all. Almost everybody got injured, myself included. The public eats it up.

HG? It finished Kaz's powerlifting career. His pec was never the same after the iron bar bend.

JC: Many of the events favored the biggest men, like the Semi or Tram pull. It was a timed event, so I was at a great disadvantage. Once I got it moving it wasn't so bad. Getting it started was quite a strain for me. I'm an explosive athlete and couldn't explode in those events.

HG: Wilhelm won in 1977 and Reinhoudt in 1978. Any comments about them?

JC: Wilhelm was a highly gifted athlete. He excelled in the shot and Olympic lifting. If it weren't for his knee problems he would have been an exceptional powerlifter, too. Reinhoudt was incredibly strong and exceptionally nice. He, along with Bruce, is another great credit to the Iron Game.

HG: You respect your peers.

JC: I do most indubitably.

HG: Who else among your colleagues do you have great respect for?

JC: Among the closest of ones I knew well - Frenn and Patera. We had some great times together. Inspiration from other greats helped me stoke my furnace.

HG: What were among your best training lifts? Did you do better in competition?

JC: I squatted 865 x 3 but never tried to a max single. I did do a perfect bench press paused with 610 in training before witnesses. I also did 855 x 4 in the deadlift.

HG: was your 882 deadlift your lifetime best?

JC: No, at Paramount Studios weighing 258 for the Circus of the Stars TV show, I did 905 on an Olympic bar. We went to a nearby gym, got the weights, and weighed them beforehand. I learned by that time to keep my hips down and the finish went easy. They didn't film it to their satisfaction, so I did it again within three minutes.

HC: What about throwing events?

JC: My best in the shot was 69'11.5". I threw the discus 222' in practice and 221' in the javelin, though I never practiced it. I never tried the hammer, nor did I want to. I felt it was dangerous. Frenn was the master of that implement. I always practiced my throwing for good, consistent technique.

HG: What about the Olympic lifts?

JC: I loved them. I felt they helped my throwing immensely. Tight ankles and shoulders prevented me using the squat style. I wish a had a good coach and learned good technique. I didn't do them in training, but did assistance exercises, pulling, pressing, and lunges. Like . . . high pulls or upright rows for that explosiveness, 405 x 2 x 4. I pressed 505 x 2 from the stands and more on a steep incline bench.

HG: I will never forget your perfect, almost-military press with 435 at the 1972 Seniors, while others gave it the heave-ho.

JC: I liked the Press and never learned the proper Olympic-style technique. It wouldn't have mattered unless I could have improved my cleaning ability.

HG: How did you feel about being called by some "The World's Strongest Man?"

JC: I always considered myself an athlete first and a strongman second. There are too many variables to measure strength. I'm sure there must be somebody out there maybe in the hills of Kentucky who on a daily basis lifts a 440 lb. Ford engine in and out of a car without a hoist and thinks nothing about it. There are probably big lumberjacks who could lift heavier logs than Don or Bill. To give a title to one man for excelling in his specialty is not a true picture.

HG: Now it's time to ask the biggest question. I always save the best for last.

JC: I'm ready.

HG: What inspired you to the ultimate challenge to Paul Anderson?

JC: At the apex of my career when I had just set the world record total in powerlifting. I wanted to set myself apart from the others and gain more notoriety for my business. I once saw Paul lift a whole bunch of people sitting on a big table so I thought I could break his backlift record of 6,270 I'd heard about.

More on Paul Anderson's Claimed Lifts:

HG: Did you pursue it?

JC: I found out that sort of stunt was out of my league or anyone else as far as that goes; it was a farce.   

HG: So?

JC: So I decided the best possible challenge would be a test of the combined total of the Olympic and powerlifts. So the challenge was issued.

Note: Steeve Neece commented on this in the article linked above:

"Let it also be noted that back in 1972 Jon Cole publicly challenged Anderson’s claim as the world’s strongest man. Claiming business pressures, Anderson proposed an alternative where during the course of a year he would periodically visit the York gym and do one or two lifts at a time before supposedly impartial witnesses, his best marks during the course of the year being added up against what Cole did in official contests. It never came off – and was unacceptable anyway."

HG: It never took place. What happened? 

JC: Well, Paul was way ahead of everyone else. I thought a great deal of him. I thought it would be my greatest challenge. Call it a confident arrogance. I thought I had a fighting chance. No one had dared challenge him before so I thought I would. My promoters were the Civalier brothers - Bill, Jerry, and Mike. 

HG: I recall that Terry Todd was Paul's advocate.

JC: Yes, both sides mismanaged it badly, which caused dissension. There was backbiting from both camps. I was unaware of Paul's rigorous schedule and speaking engagements. It was his livelihood to keep his Youth Home in the black. When Paul said he didn't have time, I misinterpreted it as a brushoff. So I was even more persistent. He finally agreed to test himself in the lifts, an impromptu negotiation. I wasn't satisfied and wanted it in a one-on-one encounter before AAU officials adhering to the rules. Todd came out saying that Paul would beat me by over 300 pounds in MUSCULAR DEVELOPMENT magazine, and that upset me.

HG: Do you realize that it might have been the greatest thing that ever happened for the Iron Game if it had transpired? The commercial possibilities of bringing in revenues could have kept Paul's home going for 20-30 years. If handled properly all could have benefited tremendously.

JC: I realize that now. I only wish that I had a chance to tell Paul how much I respected him not only as an athlete, but for all the great he has done to benefit others. He could have gained many more honors and titles had he remained an amateur. There was no malice toward him by me.

HG: He knew. I told him that years ago.

JC: How did you know that I felt that way?

HG: Because we've tuned in on the same wavelength. Here's what Paul said to me: "I'd read about Jon and knew of his great lifting. I had obligations that I couldn't postpone. They were my top priority. Jon was the only one who ever issued a challenge to me that had the firepower to back it up. I wish we could have given it a go. I guess the Lord willed it that way. His strength is greater than either of us could ever hope for."

JC: Paul now dwells in his Father's mansion. His reward is eternity. God rest his soul. Herb, thank you for this interview, it means a lot to me.

HG: Coach, believe me, the pleasure is all mine.

And what of Jon Cole today (1994)? He has not remarried. The prominent lady of his life is his grown daughter residing with him. Jon expresses his gratitude to Brick Darrow for his loyal support during his competition days. He considers the Lord to be his best friend.

His favorite companion is "Bear", his huge canine - an original German Shepherd/Timber wolf mix. Jon rescued him from euthanasia years ago and has never regretted it.

Now his livelihood is buying old wrecked cars, restoring them into vintage automobiles, and reselling them. He also does some one-on-one coaching. He has thoughts of opening a health food store to include computerized programming for clientele workouts. Jon believes there would be a great Arizona market for a health club which caters to those over 55. Restoration of health and vitality during those "golden" years would be most meaningful for Jon.

Every once in a while Jon Cole has the yearning to dig out the old metallic disc and just for old times sake sail it upwards toward the heavens. In closing let us hear what the greatest powerlifter today has to say about Jon:

"We owe Jon a great deal of gratitude for his contributions to the Iron Game. His grandiose super-excellence in the arena of strength helped redefine our concepts of human limitations. Powerlifting originals like Jon paved the way for those such as Bridges and myself"
 - Ed Coan.

Yes, Jon, we all thank you. May your legacy live on Ad Infinitum.

Gratitude is one of the things that cannot be bought; it must be born with men or else all the obligations of the world will not create it. - Lord Halifax. 

Jon Frederick Cole
April 1st, 1943 - January 10th, 2013. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jon Cole, Part Three - Herb Glossbrenner (1994)

Part One is Here:
Part Two:

"A wife is a gift bestowed upon man to reconcile him to the loss of paradise." 
 - Goethe

Jon had just returned from Europe in 1969. It was at Del Webb's Townhouse, a high class Phoenix nightclub, that good friend Jack Griffin introduced him to the lead singer. She was the vivacious Linda Carter who went on to be best known in the TV series "Wonder Woman." She in turn introduced him to her sister Pamela. The chemistry was just right. After a whirlwind courtship they were married in 1970.

Their marriage lasted for 12 years, until they were divorced in 1982. She bore him two children. His son Shawn Kelly, now 25 (as of 1994) was the first. He is a laid back, easygoing fellow. At 5'9" and 200 pounds, he bench pressed 360 while still in high school, but did not become a powerlifter. To fill his father's shoes would have been an overwhelming task. His daughter Kristen Lynn, now 21, is small and petite like Pamela. She is 5'1" and 100 pounds. She did not pursue athletics, but Jon is quick to point out that she inherited the family genes and could have excelled.

Later on, Jon met the second woman in his life. They went separate ways a few years ago. Jon Cole misses the women in his life. The loneliness and yearning surfaces occasionally as he recalls the good times and the bad.

Between 1972 and 1977 Jon trained intermittently while he pursued his goals. He became a millionaire with his patented courses.

Jon Cole Systems was only part of his ventures. He built the largest muscular rehab center in the world. It began with a 4600 square foot health studio in Phoenix and expanded until it covered 22,000 square feet. At one point Jon had 22 professional employees working for him. At this time he remained a strength consultant for ASU and also devoted his time to the Phoenix Roadrunners, the Scottsdale Community College, and established a viable strength program for the Phoenix Suns Pro Basketball team. Under Coach Cole's guidance athletes made significant gains in endurance and strength. So-so seasons took an about face and winning became commonplace. The rigors of such a busy schedule saw his 280 lb. frame drop significantly. Working 16 hours a day was only the beginning, but he was soon back up to 235-240. 

His empire flourished. His successful clientele were so numerous that he kept them all in his ledger, some 19 pages worth. Some of his most famous we'll list later. 

About this time Arthur Jones spearheaded his miracle training machines - Nautilus. I underestimated the general public's acceptance of new inventions. A Nautilus Club opened right across the street from Jon's. They offered $99 lifetime memberships. Cole's clientele swarmed over there like sewer rats to a garbage dump [my sentiments exactly]. Jon tried to convince them that resistance contraptions could not produce the same strength results and conditioning as free weights. His logic fell on deaf ears. The lure of plush carpets and chromed everything was too enticing. His business dwindled and almost ceased. No longer able to pay the salaries of his numerous employees, bankruptcy loomed on the horizon. 

Entering the picture then was renowned sports announcer Joe Garagiola. With his financial resources and smooth tongue, he offered his assistance to bail Jon out of his predicament. To abbreviate a long story, Garagiola's interest eventually was to take the big man right out of the picture. A betrayal of confidence did not set well with Jon. Vindication can be sweet revenge, but Jon, being of high character, chalked it up as another stumbling block in his life to overcome. "If another person injures you, you may forget it. But if you injure him you will always remember it." To compound his problems the ill winds of change and politics released him from ASU coaching obligations.

While Jon was still in graduate school he worked as a bouncer at a place called Jay-Dees in Tempe. Jon admits he never lost a fight. His strategy was the element of surprise. He would strike silent and fast like a cobra before a potentially serious problem could escalate. It would be merciful and would leave a hapless agitator to sleep it off in na-na land and awaken the next morning wondering why he felt like he'd been run over by a Mack truck.

Jon can vividly recall a host of enlightening moments in his illustrious career. It is strangely coincidental that when Jon was flinging the discus a rash of numerous, unexplained UFO sightings were being reported in the Arizona sky. Jon was most adept at throwing things . . . 

One story goes that once while trying to lift the stubborn barbell he tried a heavy lift in the Clean. He missed numerous times. Finally, frustrated and enraged, he tossed the heavy apparatus with a tremendous outburst of power into an adjacent wall. 

Jon had a special gift for throwing a baseball. He once threw 430 feet. Consider that the length of a football field is 360 feet, and you can imagine how far that is. Once he and javelin thrower Mark Murro went to the ASU field around dusk. Murro with a mighty grunt sailed the ball out around the 400 foot mark. Cole noticed a student in the far distance walking on campus between classes. Jon let loose with a mighty toss and remembers wondering how close to him it would come. Well, too close is the answer. It thunked him right in the head, knocking the poor fellow unconscious. His books and papers flew everywhere. The whole affair, though unintentional, made them beat a hasty retreat. Jon was slightly relieved when after searching the next morning newspaper obituaries that nothing was there concerning the incident.

Once for a group of children Jon volunteered to hoist the rear end of a Volkswagen. A crowd had gathered at a mall parking lot. They showed up with a station wagon instead. Not wanting to disappoint anyone he gave it a go. His face turned red from the exertion and his trademark - those monstrous neck veins - bulged like rope cords. Just as it cleared the ground Jon's hamstring tore. He bellowed in pain as the crowd gave him a loud ovation. Unconcerned, the guy promoting the event came over to Jon as he was roaring in pain, revealed that another group of children were coming and . . . "Could you please do it again?" Cole, in total control, trembled in pain and rage and fought off an overpowering urge to wring his neck like a chicken.

Jon conveyed an overwhelming impression to all who saw him lift. He always demonstrated a no-nonsense approach to the task at hand. Ho theatrics or wild rages. His calm and cool demeanor gave no indication of the raging inferno within. He channeled his enormous strength into the main objective - his overwhelming conquest of the helpless barbell.

Jon grew a beard in 1971 and had kept it ever since. It accentuates his Herculean physique and gives him a stately character. Jon liked it because it squared off his jaw, and one was able to distinguish the point where his 21.5" neck with that famous network of bulging, thick veins ended and his face began. For those of you who ogle large body proportions, Jon possessed some impressive measurements at 280 lbs. The notability of his underpinnings (thighs 32", calves 20") took second billing to his upper body development - forearms 16, chest 55, waist 34, and upper arms measured a sleeve-busting 23.5".

His shoulder breadth and massive deltoid development made him one of the top physical specimens in Iron Game annals. His neat, well-dressed appearance and platform demeanor always exemplified powerlifting by presenting a good image to the public.

Jon decided to end his hiatus and enter the arena of competition again in 1977. Between 1972 and 1978 as his business flourished then dried up he and Pamela became involved in the Pentecostal Church. His first significant spiritual encounter came at a Billy Graham (the evangelist, not the wrestler) crusade. At the part where they play "Just As I am' and invite you to come down, Jon experienced an overwhelming feeling. He describes it as having warm syrup pored over him. As the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him - Jon describes that feeling as though a great weight was lifted from his chest - his devils were cast away and it changed his life.

The church welcomed Jon and dubbed him a modern day Samson. They encouraged Jon's plans of a comeback that year at the Senior Nationals in Santa Monica. Jon's newly discovered ideology left him with the misconception that his strength was a God given gift and all he had to do was show up and compete.

Six weeks out his ecclesiastical patronage asked Jon how his training was going. Jon awakened to reality and realized that the faith of a mustard seed can move a mountain, but if you don't prepare for it the mountain might feel awfully heavy. A six week vigilant regime reactivated dormant strength. It was too little too late. Jon entered at 242 and managed 705-463 before he injured himself and withdrew. Doug Young, the eventual winner, totaled 2017.

Undaunted, he continued pertinaciously. Not too long thereafter his old strong self returned. He posted 785-505-775-2060 at a meet in Arlington, Texas.

Jon decided to prepare properly for the 1978 Nationals. Once again, fate intervened (if you believe in such things). Right before the competition, sprinting with the ASU football team, he stepped in a gopher hole, spraining his ankle and back and tearing his thigh. Jon showed up at the meet limping, but started the competition impressively. He squatted with his trademark explosiveness - 804! He smoked the 518 bench press but lost control with 534. Crunch time came in the deadlift. His injured quadriceps wouldn't permit his leg to function. Twice he ripped up 733, and in desperation 744. Each time his leg stiffened and he jerked spasmodically unable to straighten up. It was the last time he stepped on a lifting platform.

Can there be a greater fulfillment in life than to realize all goals and ambitions? Jon thinks so. There are many facets to the intricacy of his personality. Coach Cole is philosophical, considerate, aristocratic, analytical, focused, trusting, polite, charismatic, influential, tenacious, and most of all indelible.

I spent nearly eight hours on the phone interviewing Jon. I feel as if I understand his complexities, quests, yearnings, and all the struggles with the barbell and himself. He has a mystique that evokes admiration and inspires to bring out the best in us all. Jon's greatest achievement was not his conquests in the strength kingdom but those who - through his teachings and knowledge in athletic achievement - have helped others to be the best that they can be.

Next: Jon Cole Interviewed.            

The Stiff-Legged Deadlift - Ken Leistner (1987)

From Ken Leistner's The Steel Tip (June 1987)
Article Courtesy of Jay Trigg

My reader's comment that the majority of orthopedic experts and Chiropractic physicians believe the stiff-legged style of lifting to be dangerous is quite correct. Although this brief article is too limited in scope to detail the mechanics of the lifting process, the discs between each vertebra are exposed to high forces of compression. However, one of the overlooked factors when lifting with so-called straight legs is that the stiff-legged deadlift, if done correctly, is not actually done with "stiff" or straight legs.

Pelvic rotation around joints of the hips is an extremely important phase of any type of bending sequence. If the knees are kept "locked" while flexing or bending forward at the waist, the pelvis will not rotate properly, and will in fact, cause excessive force in the lumbar region. 

One must bend the knees slightly and maintain that slightly bent position throughout the entire performance of a set of stiff-legged deadlifts. This means that the knees do not straighten at all as one nears the upright position, and that conversely, the knees do not flex or bend as the weight is lowered. 

Of the most common mistakes made during this lift, completely straightening the knees at the extension phase of the lift, or in fact, holding them locked throughout the lift or set is one of the most serious and damaging. Another is the tendency to bend the knees more than their original amount as the weight is lowered, which eventually and inevitably leads to a mispositioning of the weight itself.

As one lifts a heavy object, the forces upon the spine and its elements increase as the resistance is moved further away from the center of gravity or point of rotation. One must keep the barbell as close to the body as possible throughout the entire lift, and the entire set. We actually drag the bar up the shins, knees, and thighs, and lower it essentially in the same way. At no time does the weight "swing" away from the body. In order to maintain such careful control of the weight, the movement must be done relatively slowly. This in turn reduces the shearing and compressive forces, but again, this takes practice and control.

One of the most important factors relative to lifting heavy weights is the ability to set one's mind properly for the task. This too takes a lot of practice. The stiff-legged deadlift puts the body at certain mechanical disadvantages, thus, one has to be prepared to exert more force as the weight leaves the instep, and be able to properly and safely decelerate as a position of normal lumber extension is achieved. 
Moving too quickly at the top of the motion, or hyperextending, can damage the facets and/or spinal ligaments. We stand on top of a sturdy box which allows the spine to go through a full range of motion, and the first repetition is started in a "conventional" deadlifting manner (and yes, we count that as "one").

Despite the disadvantages, I believe that if one does the stiff-legged deadlift correctly, it can be an effective muscle and strength building movement. There are many points which must be emphasized:

 - obtaining a full range of motion
 - moving the resistance under careful control
 - decelerating as the lumbar spine reaches normal anatomical extension
 - keeping the bar as close to the body as possible throughout the entire movement
 - maintaining the proper degree of knee flexion
 - correctly and accurately setting the mind to exert force in the proper sequence in each phase of the lift

All the above are skills that need to be practiced. This exercise can prove to be beneficial to those who do not have a history of injury, or anatomical limitations which would prevent the proper and effective performance of the movement.    

Results From the High Protein-High Set Program - John McCallum (1967)

Originally Published in This Issue (May 1967)

When Alfy Darrow was four his parents took him to be inoculated. The sterile building frightened Alfy, the nurse frightened him even more, and when he saw the needle he cried and ran out on the street. His parents caught him and brought him screaming back, and to quiet him down they promised him the needle wouldn't hurt.

The nurse who dealt with fifty frightened children a day and told them all the same lie, agreed. "In fact," she laughed, "it even tickles a teensy little bit."  

Placated by all this adult reassurance, Alfy offered his arm. The nurse jabbed in the needle and the point broke off and it took a doctor twenty shrieking minutes to dig it out.

Alfy didn't get smallpox, but he became very skeptical towards the promises of other people.

When Alfy left school he went into commercial art. By the time he was twenty he was good at it and ready for promotion.

His girlfriend rode a motorcycle. She urged Alfy to try. "It's easy," she said. "Like falling off a log."

Alfy fell off the cycle and broke his right arm in two places. He couldn't work for three months and the promotion went to another man who didn't ride motorcycles and never trusted anyone.

Alfy started weight training when he was twenty-three. And because he was very skeptical and evaluated everything carefully, and because he was violently opposed to wasting time and applied himself conscientiously, he made progress. He was small boned and finely muscles and because of this he put on weight slowly. At the end of a year and a half he had a nice physique. Still slim, but defined and symmetrical.

He needed more bulk, I told him about the High Protein-High Set program. He was skeptical.

"I can't see it," he said. "No system's that good."

"This one is."

"It don't figure."

"It does," I said. "It figures like heck."


"I already told you. You pump to the absolute maximum. You keep your muscles saturated with blod. You keep your blood full of protein. Your muscles grow."

"Not as fast as you say."

"Alfy," I said. "You work this system properly and your measurements will change faster than a coal miner's pants."

He was still skeptical. We started at the beginning and went over the theory of muscle building from A to Xmas. We ended up with high sets and high protein. "Give it a try," I said. "You'll add some bulk."


"No, muscle. Good solid muscle."

He looked away.

"You need more bulk, you know. You're still kinda skinny."


"No," I said. "Skinny. Anybody that ain't big and bulky these days is skinny. You need more bulk."

"Maybe" he said. "But I wanta put it on slow and careful."


"I'm gonna enter contests some day. I don't wanta do anything to ruin my chances."

"This won't ruin your chances," I said. "It'll improve them." I sat up straight. "Good grief, you couldn't win fifth place in a flower show at the moment, and the way you're going you'll be a hundred and nine years old before you're ready for anything else."

Alfy looked hurt so I mellowed my voice. "It'll do you nothing but good."

He didn't answer.

"Alfy," I said. "You'll gain weight and look better. I guarantee it."

He pursed his lips but didn't speak.

I gave him my friendliest smile. "Alfy?" I said. "If you aren't satisfied with the results, you can train here free forever."



"Will you put it in writing?"

"Writing?" I screamed. "What kind of money grabbing crumb are you?"

"Never mind," he said. "You guarantee I'll look better?"

"Right." I figured heaven would forgive me. "I guarantee it."

"Okay," he said. "I'll try."

I had Alfy's program ready when he came in for his next workout. "Press behind neck," I said. "Then bench press, curl, and French press. Fifteen sets each."

He gave me a cold look.

"That's for Monday, Wednesday and Friday," I said. "You do squats, pullovers, calf raises, neck work, and rowing on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday."

"What about Sunday?" he said. "Maybe I could come in and clean the furnace or something."

I stood him on the scales. 183 pounds. "We gotta keep close check." I jotted down his measurements. Neck - 15-3/4. Chest - 45-1/2. Waist - 32. Biceps - 15-1/2. Thigh - 24-1/4. "Not bad," I said, "for a skinny guy."

"Slim," he said.

He started on the presses behind neck. He got through the heavy sets fine but tired on the fast light sets. "I gotta have more rest between sets," he said.

"Not a chance. That's part of the program."

"I can't do it."

"You can,'' I said. "Keep it up. We'll talk about it between exercises."

He finished the fifteenth set and dropped on a bench. His deltoids and triceps were red and pumped.

"My God," he groaned. "This is ridiculous."

"That's the idea. You pump like never before."

"I'll never make it."

"You will. And it'll be worth it."

"It better be."

He took five minutes rest and did the bench presses. His pecs blew up like balloons. He got up and wiped sweat out of his eyes and asked me if he looked like Grimek yet.

"To tell you the truth, Alfy," I said. "You look more like Jayne Mansfield at the moment."

He struggled through the last two exercises. He complained of nausea during the French presses. I told him he wasn't used to working so hard.

"Do you have to work this hard?"

"If you wanta succeed."

"You're sure?"

"Alfy," I said. "It's one of the few things I am sure of. Believe me, there's only one way to a herculean physique, and that's hard, hard work."

"This hard?"

"And a heck of a lot harder. Anybody tells you different is just after your money."

Alfy came in the next night and puffed through the leg and back work. He complained of nausea again but I bullied him into keeping up the pace. By the end of the first week he'd gotten over the nausea, and at the end of the second week I weighed him.

"One ninety-four," I said. "That's eleven pounds you gained."

He worked harder and faster the next two weeks. His energy reserves picked up and he boiled through the workout at a good clip. At the end of the fourth week he weighed 202.

He was all smiles now. His poundage on the heavy sets started to climb the fifth week. He was pushing smooth and strong and showing his new power. "This is good," he said. "I feel different."

"You look different."

"Yeah," he grinned. "I look like Grimek yet?"

"Not yet," I said. "But you're getting there."

I kept after him about his diet. He was knocking off supplements, three big meals, three snacks, and two or three quarts of the 'Get Big Drink' every day.

'You gotta eat a lot," I told him.

'I am."

"Keep it up. There's no use doing all this pumping unless your system's loaded with protein."

He worried about his waistline. I told him it might go up a little but but he could work it off after.

At the end of the sixth week he weighed 214.

We decided to go for two more weeks of all out effort.

He started taking a half-hour nap after supper and stepped up the effort on the heavy sets. He added weight every workout. He kept the light sets going at a fast boil and was finishing now so pumped he looked distorted.

"Man," he said. "If any part of this stays with me, it'll be worth it."

"Most of it'll stay."

He finished the eighth week going full blast and we called it quits. He wanted to continue but I told him that was enough for now. "You can try it again when you're ready for more bulk," I said.

He weighed 222, a gain of 39 pounds, and his exercising poundages had gone up an average of 21%. His neck was 17-1/4, chest - 48-3/4, waist - 33-1/4, biceps - 17-1/4, thigh - 26, and calf - 16-3/4.

"There," I said. "You can harden up for a while now."

"That's fantastic," he said. "You're sure it'll stay?"

"Sure. Wait a week or so and see."

He went back to his normal training and a week later I asked him if his new bulk was staying all right.

"It sure is," he said. "In fact I gained another pound."


"You know," he said. "I should have let you talk me into this sooner."

"Sure," I said. "Bring me all your training problems."

"I hate to bother you."

"Don't worry. "That's my problem."

"There's one thing." He stretched and flexed an arm. "None of my clothes fit anymore. I need a whole new wardrobe."

"Alfy," I said. "That's your problem." 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Jon Cole, Part Two - Herb Glossbrenner (1994)

Part One is Here:

Jon decided to skip the first World Powerlifting Championship that transpired November 6th, 1971, at Harrisburg, PA. In Cole's absence Hugh Cassidy won a hard fought bodyweight victory (2160) over Big Jim Williams (2nd) and John Kuc (3rd). During the year Jon increased his overhead lift total: 400-315-400 = 1115 at 242.

Jim Williams, Hugh Cassidy, John Kuc 

 Olympic lifting came in 1972. The lure of Munich reawakened that old yearning. Jon weighed his options  - Track and Field or Weightlifting - two separate opportunities for an Olympic team slot. With limited training he qualified for the trials in the discus with 206'1". Bad luck reared her ugly head once again. Days before the qualifying event he ripped an inner thigh muscle. Again denied his moment in the sun held one ace - to be played at an appropriate time.

That year on March 14th Jon qualified for the Olympic Weightlifting trials. The marathon ordeal dragged on for nine hours. He weighed 251 at its start and 241 at the conclusion. Cole hoisted a total sum on the triathlon of 1200 (430 press, 340 snatch, 430 clean and jerk). He didn't expect to beat U.S. kingpin Ken Patera, but history shows the U.S. nearly always took two Superheavies to the Olympics.

He was in good shape at the U.S. Nationals. Others used the knee kick heave-ho style to get maximum "Press" poundages. Cole stood ramrod straight and executed a perfect Press with 408. 


He also muscled up 435 in impeccable style but moved a foot, which nullified the lift. The audience knew they witnessed areal feat of strength and gave him a standing ovation. On to the Snatch - Jon elevated 314 like a breeze and went for 341. He swooped under it stumbled when the platform shifted beneath him. He tweaked that old thigh muscle injury. Rather than jeopardize future exploits he wisely decided to forgo further attempts and dropped out. He sat dejectedly on a chair behind the stage. His handlers hovered around him offering encouragement. "You need only 286 for 3rd and could probably do enough for runner up." Jon felt the others deserved their moment. He refused to steal their thunder. A real class act in my book. This memorable deed of unselfishness is an indelible memory to this very day. 

The last time Jon threw in competition came months later. At an AAU even in Tempe he uncorked a big one - 216'2". It surpassed the winning gold medal toss that came two weeks later at the 29th Olympiad. In retrospect his throw was the world's fourth longest of 1972. In 1990 it would be ranked among the world's 10 best throws for that year, impressive to say the least.

With his Olympic hopes shattered Jon now pointed to the 1972 Senior Power Championships and the long awaited showdown with Williams and Kuc. Denver was a neutral site with strict, impartial officiating. Jon wanted to negate the negative innuendos circulating regarding the credibility of his lifts. He put an end to it once and for all.

885 in 1972

The Pennsylvania pachyderms petered out so big Jon put on a one man show. what a show it was with 570-865 (actual 869) - 820 for 2255! He finished 860 but got reds for riding it in the last few inches. Bill Starr wrote in his Weightlifting Journal: His first two benches looked like he could have done them for reps. His controlled squats looked like yo-yos." Bill labeled Jon as a strong, intelligent athlete with dynamic charisma. His success would give powerlifting national attention and breed more success, exactly what the sport needs.

This was just the tip of the iceberg. With his wife due to deliver their second child, Jon picked a meet near home. Because of the pre-meet ordeal with his wife (in labor for 19 hours), he almost missed the competition. On October 28th, he rewrote powerlifting history. Cole was in great shape and getting stronger every day. I wasn't present but reviewed the videotape of his lifts many times. He benched 555 and 580 easily. 600 stalled inches from lockout when those mighty triceps stalled out. When the gas tank goes dry, that's it! He negotiated 850, 885, and 905 squats with pure power (actual 901.25, a PR and the most by anybody in competition). Reports that he could have done 930 were no exaggeration. There was much more left. His deadlifts were hauled up with monstrous strength - 820, 860, and finally 885 (actual 882). Jon crashed the 2300 barrier for the first time in history - 2305, 2345, and finally 2370. Just think of it . . . this happened in 1972 . . . Unbelievable!

The 1972 Worlds may have been Jon's biggest claim to fame. Some suggested he was avoiding competition; others said his ego was too big to risk his reputation. Absurd allegations! Jon lifted best when pushed. Unbiased officiating was a concern. The truth of the matter was that he felt he'd proved he was the best powerlifter in the world, and it was time to move on. He wanted to give his new business ventures his full attention. The stress involved to get his training center going left little or no time for his own training. He was also tired of trying to live up to his own expectations as well as what others expected from him.

I think Jon erred in not going. Bob Gaynor once wrote that it wouldn't have mattered, that Kuc was unbeatable that day. I disagree. I was there and saw the battle of the giants. I had the best seat in the house. In fact, I was the side referee in the bench press.

I believe that Jon would have not only won, but would have done it by over 50 lbs. Here is the basis for my hypothesis. In preparing this article I did a biorhythm profile on all of Jon's major competitions. Not once in his career did he compete in his high cycle. He was at the bottom of physical and emotional cycles on October 28th, the day of his 2370. The Worlds came two weeks later, and Jon would have been at the very peak of both cycles. After carefully scrutinizing the videotape of his big Phoenix meet I can testify as to the clean manner in which his lifts were executed. One of the spotters that day was Bruce Wilhelm, who is a stickler for lifts being done in accordance with the rules. Bruce told me unequivocally, "Jon would have annihilated them. Absolutely no question about it."

I believe that Jon would have done 940, 600 minimum, and with a "mere" 825 deadlift opener could have put the contest out of the reach of Kuc's mighty mitts. He'd have pulled the 875 Kuc missed and maybe gone 900. We're looking realistically at 2440!

Exaggeration? Not the slightest. I refereed at the 1972 Worlds in the SHW category. I was just as impressed as anyone. I take nothing away from the magnificent lifting that the Kingston-Scranton giants etched in the history books that day. Kuc bequeathed us a star-studded career to marvel at. Williams will be remembered as a bench press behemoth who blasted his pecs into immortality. I just have firm convictions that Cole would have reigned as king that day. All the hypothesizing in the world cannot change history. Maybe Thomas Mann summed it up best when he once said, "Opinions cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them."

Now that we have covered the illustrious career of a strongman with diversified talents, it is time to examine more. The facets which reveal the complexity of a man are a hundredfold.

Continued in Part Three . . .    

The Garage Gym Athlete by Jerred Moon (2016)

Table of Contents

Section One: Fitness Freedom

Chapter 1: What is a Garage Gym Athlete?
Chapter 2: Why Be a Garage Gym Athlete?
Chapter 3: The Great Mistakes
Chapter4: Ammunition: Helping Others See the Light
Chapter5: The Preamble: Canceling Gym Contracts and Saving Money
Chapter6: Your First Step: The Big Purcase
Chapter7: Your Second Step: Getting Ready
Chapter8: Your Third Step: DIY or Decide

Section Two: The Simple Life: DIY Projects

Chapter 9: Do if Yourself  - Do It Safely
Chapter10: How to Build a Plyometric Box
Chapter11: Build Your Own Power Rack
Chapter 12: DIY Wallball
Chapter 13: How to Build Parallettes
Chapter 14: How to Build a Slosh Pipe
Chapter 15: How to Build Jerk Boxes
Chapter 16: How to Make a DIY Prowler Sled
Chapter 17: DIY Pull-up Bar in 10 Minutes
Chapter 18: How to Build a Mini Deadlift Jack
Chapter 19: How to Build a Kettlebell in 36 Seconds
Chapter 20: Homemade Squat and Bench Press Stand
Chapter 21: Build Your Own Rings

Section Three: Train Like a Pro

Chapter 22: A Primer on Programming and Being an Athlete
Chapter 23: Save Your Time: Block Programming
Chapter 24: A Pro Knows How to Train Alone
Chapter 25: A Pro Knows How to Wake Up Early
Chapter 26: Are You Ready for Fitness Freedom? 

Bonus Chapter 1: Bodyweight Routines
Bonus Chapter 2: How to Automate Shopping for Garage Gym Equipment
Bonus Chapter 3: Barbell Buyers' Guide

Chapter 27: The Revolution


An Olympic-Based Beginner Routine - Monsieur Literary Lifter

Article Courtesy of Jay Trigg and The Author

I don't want you to do Power Cleans yet. Makes it a bitch learning the Squat Clean.

Let's start with Snatch Drops and Snatches.

First of all. Grab your Olympic bar with a snatch width grip (you've seen the pictures). Lock the bar at arm's length overhead. Lock it out - not even the slightest bend in the elbows. Feet shoulder width apart. Look straight ahead at a spot on the wall. Keep looking at that spot. Now, do a deep knee bend.

If you can do it without going up on your toes - - Congratulations, young man. But -- you probably can't. Flexibility is the key. In hips, ankles, etc. and in shoulders.
We'll work up to this.

You should have some shoes with some sort of heel. You will eventually have to pawn something of your wife's to buy Olympic lifting shoes. But not yet.

Now we are going to have you do the Drop Snatch. You will practice the most difficult part of the lift -- jumping under the bar. This is purely speed. Stand with the bar on your shoulders. You are holding it with a snatch width grip. Now fast Fast FAST jump down to a snatch squat position locking out the bar overhead . . . You need to train yourself to EXPLODE under the bar.  

Do this again and again. When you are in the low position try to go lower, to settle into a lower position. You are stretching.

You will need to stretch your shoulders. In between doing drop snatches do Shoulder Dislocates with a broomstick. Grab the broomstick with a Snatch grip and bring it over your head and behind your back feeling the stretch. Don't bend your elbows. If you do, take a wider grip until you don't have to bend them to get the broomstick behind your back.

Next, let's practice Snatches From a High Hang. Bar at the thighs, snatch grip, shoulders back, back arched, very slight bend in the knees. Now -- not using your arms or back AT ALL jump that weight up. Keep eyes fixed on a spot on the wall. Practice this again and again with the bar until you are actually jumping it up and NOT PULLING IT. Try it with 65 pounds. No more right now.

Later on you will practice jumping it up from lower positions and jumping under it.

So -- here's what you should do every workout for the next few weeks. Using the bar or 65 pounds at the most do:

1) A set of 20 Snatch Drops, settling into the low position, trying to feel the stretch.

2) 50 Snatches From the High Hang. You are training yourself to explode with the bar.

3) 20 Snatches From the High Hang while attempting to jump under the bar. You have to train yourself to jump the bar up and then at exactly the right moment jump under the bar.

Finally -- you want to do Overhead Squats. Snatch the bar overhead and do deep knee bends with it. Arms always locked. Sets of 5. Start with just the bar.

In two weeks aim for:
Overhead Squats: 2 sets of 5 with the bar
2 sets of 5 with 65 pounds
2 sets of 5 with 85
2 sets of 5 with 95.

The idea right now is to get the stretch, establish the feel of holding the bar overhead.  

A Low Volume Squat Routine - Monsieur Literary Lifter

Article Courtesy of Jay Trigg and The Author

First of all: Do your squats first.

Secondly: Do them three times a week.

Thirdly: Try for a max single, double or triple each workout.

Fourthly: Warm up with a few reps, then a few more reps with a slightly heavier weight.

Fifthly: Rest a lot between sets. 

Sixthly: Never exceed 20 total reps including warmup.

Seventhly: Go all the way down and pause. Each rep has to be perfect.

Eigthly: Once a week put 50 pounds over your max on the bar and do a few sets of however many reps you can safely get. Do whatever: parallel squats, quarter squats. Go as low as you can safely. You may want to do this just every two weeks.

Ninethly: Squat for three weeks and then don't squat for a week.

Tenthly: Do this for three months and be amazed. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Jon Cole, Part One - Herb Glossbrenner (1994)

 Originally Published in This Issue (December 1994)
Article thanks to Jake Striefel.

Here's an earlier article on Jon Cole by Ron Fernando:

Jon Frederick Cole:
The Monarch of Might
by Herb Glossbrenner (1994)

Oftentimes we forget those whose indelible performances of yesteryear are stored in the vaults of history. In the hierarchy of amateur strength athletes one man stands above all others: I present the story of his eminence - JON FREDERICK COLE, who was indeed the Monarch of Might. He was a true Titan of Trichotomy.

The trichotomy of a man is labeled a combination of mind, body and spirit - functioning as a harmonious unit of the whole being. Jon possesses the mind of a scholar, the strength of Superman and the spirit of perseverance.

Cole was neither the best ever in Olympic lifting or Powerlifting but combining his talents, he remains even today as the best there ever was. This is indeed a bold acclamation. I have bestowed the title as History's Greatest Strength Athlete by verified statistics. I made my determination by a combination total of best results in the two competitive strength sports.

The powerlifts represent a true reflection of human strength. Weightlifting (the overhead lifts) demonstrate the epitome of explosive power and athleticism. A lifetime of statistical data made the compilation of this list much easier. The aggregate of the two sports exemplifies the best of both worlds.

I have not included the Clean and Press in this comparison for several reasons:

1) It was eliminated from the Olympic lifting disciplines because it deteriorated from a true test of strength over the years to become nothing more than a Clean and Jerk without foot movement.

2) All athletes after 1972 never practiced it.

3) I could not have rated them accurately.

4) It would not have changed the final outcome.

I wanted to include Paul Anderson and Vasily Alekseyev on this list. Paul did far more as a professional. I have already written of his claimed best lifts for the septathlon. I never asked him his single limits in powerlifting as an amateur. It would be pure conjecture to attempt to determine Alekseyev's possibilities in powerlifting. He was evasive when Bruce Wilhelm asked him. He may have never even tried a limit bench press or deadlift. You may hypothesize all you want. I won't. 

Another candidate for this list might have been Russia's strongest powerlifter Vladimir Mironov. I confirmed his powerlifting bests at 816-605-835. I could not substantiate his 639 bench nor his outrageous claim of a 926 deadlift. After checking my 500 Best All Time list in weightlifting I couldn't validate his claims of 1982 - overhead lifts of 375 and 463. I have them all and his name appeared nowhere. Therefore, bearing no credence I must omit him.

Marvel now at Mighty Cole. He never realized his true potential, but his inexorability has made him a living legacy among amateurs as History's Greatest Living Strength Athlete! 

Here's more from Ron Fernando on who was the strongest, Cole, Anderson, or Alekseyev:


Jon Frederick Cole was born in Chicago, IL. on April 1, 1943. It was no April Fool that the Cole's 11 lb. 9 oz. bouncing baby boy would grow into manhood and become an Iron Game legend. Jon inherited genes from both parents that would eventually make him one of the strongest men who ever walked planet Earth. His father - Fred Zena Cole - was 5'8", 160 lbs. He died at 47 when Jon was only 10, from a heart ailment, after being weakened by rheumatic fever. Fred rose to rate among the world's best in boxing despite the handicap of a bum leg from a gunshot wound in war. Without a manager he never got a title shot at legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. 

Jon recalls fond boyhood memories of his father's exceptional hand and forearm strength. Jon would sit in a straight backed wooden chair. Fred would squat down and grasp a leg in one massive mitt. Bracing his leg with the free hand he'd levitate the chair and Jon. Jon Frederick fondly referred to Dad as "Popeye" with his big shoulders and muscular forearms which bulged with a network of thick veins. 

Jon's older sister Judy is now 56 and 5'7". He remembers her as a fabulous athlete. In Jr. High she long-jumped an Arizona State record of 18'10". Marriage ended her brief athletic career. 

His mother is still a bundle of energy. Now 82, she is constantly on the go traveling around in her Winnebago. At 5'1" and 160, she is stout as an ox. Jon proudly admits that even Arnold would envy her calves. 

In the 8th grade Jon endured bullying from an older boy. Being the target of relentless pursuit gave him stomach problems. They soon moved to a trailer park. It was a temporary solution which soon became permanent. Jon sent away for a mail order muscle course and barbell set. It was an instant love affair. 

For years thereafter he never missed a workout. The first year he gained 30 lbs. of muscle. At a solid 143 lbs., school bullies gave him a wide berth. His inherent strength soon surfaced. His high school achievements were many. He earned four letters with two years of football and two in athletics.

The discus became his favorite athletic event. Uncoiling with an instantaneous release of explosive energy he'd sail the gleaming metal disc up into the wild blue yonder. It gave him an exhilarating feeling. To him it represented the epitome of athleticism - harmony of motion and proficiency of technique. He understood why historical art and sculpture portrayed the event as Olympic ideology. During his junior year at Glendale High School he spun the 3 lb. 9 oz. platter a junior American record - 178'8" for All-American honors. Jon received 36 college scholarship offers, including one from Annapolis. He chose ASU at nearby Tempe in 1962. His mother disliked living alone. He stayed with her until 1969.


An exceptional athlete, Jon was equally adept in academics. By 1966 he aimed earned his BA degree in English and got his Masters in 1969. With an unquenchable thirst he grew in stature and wisdom. In college (1963-1966) he lettered four years and made astonishing progress. He led the 440 relay team and zipped the 100 in 9.9 seconds. He was PAC-10 champ and All American his junior/senior years. Graduating to the regular 4 lb. 6 oz. implement he threw a school record 199.5" and heaved the 16 lb. shot 61'11.5". 

Bestowed by Mother Nature with a plenteous supply of fast twitch muscle fibers, Jon was inspired to diversify his talents. He channeled his athletics explosiveness into the competitive strength sports. Jon is convinced that he may have more muscle fibers per square inch than the majority. Those fortunate enough to have seen Jon throw or lift would concur. Everything was synchronized with his perfect body alignment. He tried Olympic lifting first. It was beneficial to throwing farther. Simultaneous contraction of all muscle fibers concurrently is conductive to athletic performance.


Cole never trained the overhead lifts in the conventional manner. He relied primarily on the corresponding assistance movements - rapid high pulls, shrugging and rowing movements, where he used enormous poundages. Lacking a knowledgeable coach to teach him proper technique, he relied on basic smart instincts to perform the lifts to the best of his ability. He liked overhead pressing and steep incline benches [he reportedly inclined over 500 in his prime]. It augmented his throwing.

Here's a great post on Jon Cole and his training from the old Power and Bulk forum:

Jon was flexible in certain areas. In the shoulders and ankles he was not. This convinced him to use the split style in weightlifting. He did a lot of flexibility work as an injury deterrent - including lots of heavy lunges with the bar on the chest. 

Nearing the end of 1967 he was closing ground on the world's best. He spun the discus to a personal record 205'1". Wanting to increase his strength even more, on September 16th of that year he entered his first powerlifting meet. It was an impressive debut at 242 - 1750 via 450-650-680 - for Arizona records. The strength lifting was beneficial to his overhead lifting. In December he did 375 PR, 300 SN, and 380 CJ for a 1055 total in the Oly lifts. 

Boyhood aspirations resurfaced during 1968, the Olympic year. Early indoors he chucked the shot 62'10" and sustained a severe arm injury. It kept him from participating in Track & Field's Olympic trials. Big disappointments didn't thwart his bulldog tenacity. Benching didn't bother the arm so he trained diligently for the forthcoming Senior National Powerlifting Championships. A few months away he tested himself - 1825 (465-645-715). This alerted his competition of an unknown newcomer appearing on the power horizon.

Powerlifting at 25 years of age, outside photos only.
Center photo is Mel Hennessey: 

The 242-lb. champ George Frenn, who days before missed making the Olympic lifting team throwing the hammer, was on hand to encourage the men who challenged his 1900-lb. total record. As expected, Minneapolis monster Mel Hennessey dominated the bench press with 536, a record! John Kanter, the burly squat master, and Gary Young, the deadlift record holder, kept a wary eye on Cole, the new kid on the block. 

With a calmly confident demeanor Jon benched 465 and kept within striking distance. Kanter and Young made borderline squats with 700. Cole outdid them with 705 (actual weight 710), a meet record. The others overestimated their strength. Jon ripped up a 720 (724 actual) deadlift and eclipsed Kanter with a lighter bodyweight tie of 1890. Young went for a three way tie and lighter bodyweight, but 780 was way too much. Making his first appearance on the national scene, Cole won it all. Frenn, relieved that his total record had survived, later in his column in Muscle Builder magazine chastised Kanter for showing poor sportsmanship. 

Jon was off and running. He set his sights on George's record. On November 3rd in Phoenix he obliterated it with 1975 (485-740-750). Actual weighed lifts were 491-752-761 for a 2004 unofficial total! His squat and total were were U.S. records. He entered several Oly weightlifting meets in 1968 also. In December at Dick Green's meet in Safford he gave the Iron Game sister sport something to smile about - 1035 (370-290-375).

With George Frenn, '68 Mexico Olympics

Cole developed a camaraderie with George as they toured Europe together on the U.S. track squad. Jon had a premier year in throwing. He won the 1969 AAU Nationals in the discus. He upstaged world record holder Jay Sylvester, defeating him with a toss of 208'10". In the meantime, overseas word reached them of Kanter's record breaking tangent. 

 John Kanter

He'd won the 1969 Nationals easily in their absence, and on June 14th stole Cole's total and upped the squat mark as well to 535-760.5-705 for the first official 2000 at 242. Jon returned to the States, and it was retribution time. Shortly thereafter in a meet Cole scored 2005 (495-745-765). Frenn lifting against him went 445-765-700 for 1920. George had his squat record back and Cole the total. 

In 1970 Big Jon continued to diversify his three strength talents. Again, he and George hit the European circuit. He was most impressed seeing Frenn squat 730 in Poland. An omen for things to come?

Frenn and Kanter skipped the Senior Powerlifting Nationals in New Orleans. Jon's sole competition was Hennessey. Mel, who was build like a trash compactor at 228, 10 lbs. lighter than Jon. He twice missed 550 when it was discovered that all bench press weights above 480 were overloaded by 20 lbs. Miraculously, he succeeded with granted further attempts once the correct weight was loaded - 550 - and then a new U.S. record of 571! Cole notched all three- his final of 520 was actually 540! The bench press master saw his 50-lb. lead evaporate in the squat as Cole notched all three - the final being 760. Hennessey finished runner-up with 1885. Cole pulled a monster 780 (actual 779) deadlift for 2060. He out-lifted, at 242, all the Supers who would become famous - Cundy, Fletcher, Cassidy, White, and Williams. 

In El Paso, Texas, in November, Jon really clicked, doing 525-780-785 for 2090. Muscular Development magazine called him PERHAPS the best powerlifter in the world. At 242 he was far better than and Super (Weaver held the SHW total at 2040). One week later on November 7th, Jon registered 1090 in the overhead lifts (380-310-400). 

On December 13th Frenn stole the spotlight. He regained his long lost total record. His squat was fantastic - 840 (actual 853). With a 740 deadlift he crashed the 2100 barrier. Cole was most surprised at George's 520 bench press (a 60 lb. improvement). 

More on George Frenn: 

Jon responded to the challenge and once more kicked it up into high gear. He set his sights on a meet in Tolleson on March 14th, 1971. His newly grown patch of facial foliage made him an even more imposing sight. One awe-stricken youngster shouted, "C'mon Hercules!" every time Jon came out. He made a 525 bench press easily but mis-grooved 540. He squatted 800 and missed 820. The spotters guided him back into the rack. One fellow who was trying to be helpful wasn't. He picked up one end and twisted Jon's back. It didn't seem to affect his deadlift as Jon became the third member in the 800 club (Frenn - 812.5 at 244 and Cundy 801.5 at 275). He ripped up the biggest lift in history - 815 (actual 813). 

Jon, who at this time was Assistant Track Coach at ASU, was now called by Muscular Development magazine the BEST powerlifter in the world. The word "perhaps" was no longer applicable. 

Jon wanted to skip the 1971 Seniors in Dallas. Pressured by promoters and friends he entered at SHW. He had squatted 865 shortly before the meet and came in at 266. His instincts were correct. The warmup room was poorly lit and a huge bar thicker than normal circumference was to be used for the SHW squats. 

"What's this?" Jon inquired. 

"That's the bar Paul Anderson used!" came the reply.

"Humph," Jon growled, "I ain't Paul Anderson!" 

Jon was badly out of "sync". It was his worst ever competition, and the only one I know that he failed to total. He barely made 582 and mis-grooved other tries. He was trying higher heels on his lifting boots which hindered his squat. He missed three squats; the final 820 was low, but he couldn't fight through the sticking point. It was a great letdown for both himself and his fans.

Retaliation followed quickly. Three weeks later, October 3rd to be exact, he appeared in Phoenix. His bodyweight was 266 once again. The result this time was much different. He wore swim trunks, T-shirt, and legal wraps and popped some big numbers before national cardholders - 565-820-835-2220! After this staggering display of strength he reduced back down to a more comfortable 240 and focused his attention on his teaching and coaching responsibilities. 

To Be Continued in Part Two . . .             


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