Thanks to Liam Tweed for making this article available to lifters everywhere.
Is it possible for a lifter of high caliber to be able to increase his official total by 150 pounds in just a few short months? Well, impossible as it may seem, this feat was accomplished by 21 year old Bob Bednarski of Woonsacket, Rhode Island. Here in detail is his own story of the system and method he used to accomplish this incredible improvement.
Bob's story starts at the 1965 Senior Nationals held in Los Angeles this past June. Bob weighed in at 198 pounds and had great hopes of placing second behind Bill March, and even giving Bill a good run for his money. But as it turned out, he only made his starting lifts and was able to place only fourth with a 950 total (310, 275, and 365).
What was the cause of this poor showing? This was the question Bob asked himself over and over again. After long and serious contemplation Bob and his coach, Joe Mills -
- decided that there was no single answer to why Bob hadn't made better progress and performed better at the Senior Nationals. The problem seemed to be in the whole system and attitude of training used up until the Seniors. True, for a long time he had made satisfactory progress on his old system of training, but his momentum seemed to stop in the area of a 950 total.
The first thing decided was that he could no longer continue lifting as a middleweight as he was too thin at 198 pounds considering his 6'1" height. Although gaining weight was always difficult for Bob, there was no other choice but to move into the heavyweight class. To start his weight moving upward Bob almost doubled his protein and carbohydrate intake. To accomplish this the daily milk consumption was increased by one to two quarts and at least six pounds of lean meat was eaten per week. In addition, various other foods were eaten in generous amounts. This increased amount of food did not cause a sudden weight increase, but rather a steady increase of about one pound per week. By putting weight on slowly, the added bodyweight would be mainly muscle and, therefore, Bob's strength would have a chance to increase accordingly.
This took care of the diet portion of his weight gaining program, but Bob knew that he must also employ weight gaining exercises. Since Bob has always had trouble recovering from heavy squat cleans and since he knew squats were good for gaining weight, he decided to double the amount of squats he had previously been doing. Also, an effort was made to perform the squats very strictly so as to accustom his body to being straight and stiff in the low squat clean position. He also included power cleans with heavy weights to build up his back muscles and to increase both his first and second pull.
This combination of diet and exercise would increase Bob's power, but this was only half the battle. Power is of no use unless it's used correctly. What good is a crane or bulldozer if you don't know how to use them. Likewise, what's the use of developing body power if you don't have the style and form to benefit from this increase in strength. With this in mind, Bob decided that in addition to training for strength, he would also have to work very hard at correcting all minor as well as major faults that were entangled in his form.
According to Bob, he had plenty of faults to overcome. Bob describes his faults and how he corrected them as follows:
"In the press I had a great tendency to press the weight forward. Therefore, to complete the lift the bar would have to follow a curved course making my layback seem excessive. I worked on my press by driving the bar up as close to my face as possible. I used weights that I could manage for 3 to 5 repetitions. I also discovered that lowering the bar very slowly and close to the face benefited me greatly. I soon found that my backbend was greatly reduced.
"In the snatch I found that I had three basic faults. First, I found that I was raising my hips too soon, thereby loosing much of the speed and momentum necessary to get the weight off the floor. Secondly, I found that after the bar was in motion I couldn't get the full benefit of my pull because the bar was forward which prevented me from raising on my toes and finishing the pull. My third fault was that upon finishing the pull I had a habit of jumping up and backwards in the air. I worked on these three faults, correcting one at a time by doing sets of supervises snatches using the heaviest weights I could handle for 3 to 5 repetitions. I found that by drilling with a light weight I was only doing a controlled lift and as soon as I increased the weight my old faults would return.
"In the clean I discovered that after pulling the weight up it would drop on my shoulders as much as eight inches. The jar of the weight dropping on me would cause me to hunch forward and loose the solidness needed to raise from a deep squat clean. After experimenting with different methods to correct this fault, I found that by pulling with my shoulders back and head tilted up I could get more speed off the ground, keep the weight close to my body, and catch the weight with very little drop in the bar. My jerk was always strong as I have done 20 pounds more than my best clean so I have not yet had to specialize on this part of the lift.
"The last, and perhaps the most important method I used to increase my lifting, was training with a partner. We would watch and study each other's form and help each other as much as possible. We would do anything, including yelling at each other, that would help the other lifter put his very best into each lift. This, along with a deep desire, may be one of the greatest secrets to improving in lifting.
"Using this method of training I found that for every pound of bodyweight that I gained, my total would increase 10 pounds."
On October 16, about four months after the Senior Nationals, Bob entered a contest in Boston and made 360, 326.5, and 417 for a 1103.5 total - a 150 pound improvement! Bob's current bodyweight is around 225 and his best lifts to date are: press, 381; snatch, 340; clean and jerk, 441; jerk, 460; power clean, 375; squat, 550; and front squat, 460.
What are Bob's future plans? Here's what he has to say about the future:
"I am hoping for a 242 pound class as I believe that I would be able to make records which would last a long time. However, if this class is not established I believe that within three to five years, at a bodyweight of 250 or so, I will press 420, snatch 390, and clean and jerk 500 for a total of 1310. This represents an increase of five pounds on my total for every pound of muscular bodyweight gained, or about half of the progress I am now getting for every pound gain.?
Here is an outline of Bob's present training schedule:
Squat - 325 x 5, 375 x 5, 425 x 5, 475 x 3, 500 x 2, 525 x 1.
Press - 225 x 5, 255 x 3, 285 x 3, 305 x 2, 325 x 1, 340 x 1.
Clean and Jerk - 355 x 2, 375 x 1, 400 x 1, 400 x 1, 415 x 1, 400 x 1.
Squat - 305 x 5, 350 x 5, 400 x 5, 450 x 3, 475 2, 500 x 1.
Snatch - 225 x 5, 255 x 3, 285 x 2, 305 x 1, 315 x 1, 325 x 1.
Clean and Jerk - 355 x 2, 375 x 1, 400 x 1, 400 x 1, 415 x 1, 415 x 1.
Squat - 350 x 5, 375 x 5, 400 x 5, 450 x 3, 475 x 2, 500 x 1, 525 x 1.
Snatch - 225 x 5, 255 x 3, 285 x 2, 305 x 1, 315 x 1, 315 x 1, 315 x 1.
Try limit on the three Olympic lifts or do two or three assistance exercises such as power cleans, bench presses, or Continental and Jerks.