Monday, October 15, 2018

Hip Belt Squats - John McCallum

Originally Published in This Issue (March, 1970) 

On May 11th, in the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Thirty-Eight, Vancouver, British Columbia, was a lean and hungry city. Actually this wasn't too unusual, for in the closing years of the great depression and just before the economic stimulus of the great slaughter, most of the world was pretty lean and hungry. Some areas, however, were harder hit than others.

British Columbia is Canada's most westerly province, and Vancouver is the biggest city in it. It is a highly urban, congested seaport, and for the people of Vancouver the depression was no abstract concept of economics. It was real and it was earnest. Business and industry lay idle. Mothers fed watery oatmeal to children who cried for milk. Block long lines of ragged, listless, hollow cheeked men stood before empty soup kitchens and hunger walked the streets of the city. 

Early in the spring, 2,000 men were cut off the relief rolls - the bare, subsistence dole that kept enough food in the belly to support a measure of life. For a month these men pan-handled around the city - "tin canning," then called it - until a further ban made begging illegal. The men went hungry for a few days longer and then, on May 11th, 1,600 of them under the leadership of a man named Steve Brodie jammed into the Government Post Office in a desperate attempt to bring attention to their plight.

Letter to Today's Unemployed, written by Brodie in 1996: 
The men stayed in the Post Office for forty days, existing on what little food was passed through the windows by sympathizers. They resisted all attempts to dislodge them, including the reading of the riot act by the mayor. 

Then, at 5:00 A.M., on June 20th, a battalion of mounted police stationed themselves a block away from the Post Office. Other police lined up in front of the Post Office and fired tear gas grenades through the windows. The blinded men poured out and the mounted police swept down Hastings Street. The men stumbled into the middle of the street and the horsemen, swinging long hardwood clubs, hit them and went through them and over them like a giant lawn mower. 

Not all of the men came out meekly.

One of them - a big, dark haired man - came bounding out the door and into the middle of the action. He scooped a policemen off his horse, dropped him, and reached for another. 

The man's name was Harvey Farrell, and he spent most of his life fighting for what he believed in. He was doing that at Dieppe when a German machine gunner stitched him up the middle.

Harvey Farrell used to lift weights with my Uncle Harry. He had an enormous chest, incredibly thick shoulders, and as good a set of legs as I've ever seen. His thighs went around 28" and were about as strong, shapely, and defined as legs can get without being paired up with a needle-riddled butt. I used to watch him training when I was a kid and I can still see his legs. 

Harvey Farrell's favorite exercise was the hip belt squat. 

He gave it full credit for his strength and development. He had a special bar for his hip belt squats. He kept it loaded and ready and it was never used for any other exercise. He had a hip belt that he'd made himself out of old harness leather. It was thick and crude and heavily padded, but it did the job and Hercules couldn't have broken it.

Harvey considered the hip belt squat to be in a class by itself when it cam to development potential. He never left it out of his workouts and sometimes it was the only exercise he did. He'd built up his power enormously over the years. He could handle more weight in the hip belt squat than most men could in the dead lift.

Harvey Farrell's teachings weren't wasted. My Uncle Harry still works hard on hip belt squats, and if any man ever stood as a finer example of sensible weight training, I've yet to see him.

Hip belt squats are pure leg work. They've got a lot of advantages you won't find in any other exercise. There's none of the lower back strain or the breathing restrictions associated with regular squats. You can focus 100% concentration on your thighs and forget about everything else. There's no danger if you can't complete a rep. If you can't make it up, then just settle all the way down, let the bar rest on the floor, undo the belt, and crawl away. You can work to your absolute limit, and if you do, you may rest assured you'll benefit accordingly.

Hip belt squats might be the answer to your gaining problems. If you're not gaining as well as you think you should, give them a try and see what they can do for you.  

Figure on working them hard for a couple of months. You may even want to try a little specialization. Just remember that any effort you put into them will be repaid many, many times over. 

Let's take a closer and more detailed look at the whole process. A lot of trainees confuse hip belt squats with hip lifts. The two are not the same thing. Other than the fact that both involve a belt of some sort they have practically no similarity at all.

Scott Schmidt, Hip Lift

Hip lifts are more of a feat of strength than an exercise. The weight is lifted only a few inches and the reps are usually kept low. It has some value as a power builder and can be used to strengthen ligaments and tendons. As a muscle builder, however, it leaves a lot to be desired.  

Schpeakin' of Elvis, last night I watched the Eugene Jarecki ("Why We Fight") documentary on, sort of on, Elvis. Very disappointing ramble without much of a goal in mind. Well, other than the usual blather about the death of the American Dream, yawn, and all that crap. This stuff really gets loved on by critics. YAWN. 

HIP BELT SQUATS are a different animal entirely. They're intended to be an exercise, not a lift. They're done in relatively high reps over a full range of movement, and they're practically unequaled as a muscle builder.

Hip belt squats feel a bit awkward at first. It usually takes a week or two of training before they get really comfortable (comfortable enough to be painful?). After that, though, gains come rapidly.

You can work out your hip belt squatting procedure any way you want. The method I use and recommend is as follows:

Place a bar on a bench. The middle of the bar should be resting on the bench and the bar should be at right angles to the bench. In other words, if the bench is running north and south, then the bar should be running east and west.

Next, load up the bar and put on collars. You should use small plates. Large plates will prove unsuccessful because they'll hit the floor before you've squatted low enough. When the bar is loaded, put on the collars and cinch them up good and tight.

Now you can strap on your belt. The hip belt is an important piece of equipment. It doesn't have to look good, but it has to be strong and it has to fit. An ordinary belt like you hold your pants up with won't do. The belt has to be at least three inches wide and a quarter inch thick with as sturdy a buckle as you can find. The belt should preferably have been safe-tested so you know it'll stand the strain.

The IronMind Hip Belt. 
No problems ever with one of these, and 
it's good to go on arrival. 

You need a lot of padding under the belt. Use padding at least an inch wider than the belt. Almost anything will do - foam rubber, heavy towels, an old blanket, anything that'll stop the belt from cutting into you. Don't chintz on the padding. The exercise is tough enough without making it painful.
Now, straddle the bar and sit down on the bench. You should be facing along the same line as the bar. If the bar is running east and west, you'll be facing either east or west and sitting astride the bar as though it was a horse.
The next thing you'll need is something to fasten the bar to the belt. I suggest you get two pieces of nylon rope a half inch in diameter and about three feet long. Nylon rope is a lot stronger than the hemp variety. It'll stretch a bit at first, but after that it'll be fine. 
Now, tie the middle of one piece of rope to an onion and swing it vigorously overhead. Now, tie the middle of one piece of rope to the bar immediately behind you. The only type of knot that will hold without sliding on the bar is a clove hitch. The clove hitch and nothing else. No onion! If you don't know how to tie a clove hitch, ask an onion or an olive, call any vegetable, Friendo. 
Tie the other piece of rope with a clove hitch to the bar immediately in front of you. Once you become accustomed to where the ropes tie on the bar you can tie them on before you sit down.
Next, take the rope that's tied to the bar behind you. Tuck the ends up between you and the belt and pull them down on the outside of the belt. Lean back slightly and cinch the rope up as tight as you can get it. Now wrap the ends around the belt and tie them in a reef knot. If you can't tie a reef knot, see vegetables above when they're not too busy.
Now tie the rope in front of you the same way. Get it as tight as you can. The bar should be pulled up to your crotch till it almost hurts. You need it that tight because it'll sag down a couple of inches when you stand up.
When you've got the bar cinched up as tight as you can, get up with it and walk to where you're going to do the squats. Don't go any farther than you have to, just get away from the bitch, er, bench. 
You'll need a 2 x 4 under your heels to maintain your balance during the squats. You may even need something thicker. Whatever you use, put it in place before you tie yourself to the bar.
It's essential that you get a full range of motion out of the hip belt squats.    

If you have small enough plates on the bar you'll be able to get right down. If you haven't got enough small plates you'll have to build a little platform to stand on while you're squatting.

It's important that you get into a DEEP squat position.   
We're out of space . . . and I blame the add-ons for that. Practice the hip belt squats with fairly light weights for this month. Progress gradually and try to get the hang of it. We'll lay on a heavy program next month and you'll want to be ready for it. 



Sunday, October 14, 2018

Softening Up for Weight Gains, Part Three - John McCallum

Originally Published in This Issue (February, 1970)

For the past  two months we've been outlining a program that's designed to soften you up and force weight gains. The procedure, in brief, is to ease up on your normal routine for about three months and do a few of the fattening things normally considered taboo. Actually, once you try it you'll like it. The fat cat life feels pretty good once in a while. And the change, strangely enough, will do you a world of good. It takes a little while to get over the guilty feeling of watching your old lady cut the lawn, but once you manage it you're home free.

Some people are inclined to look down their noses in contempt at the lazy man type of weight gaining program. These are the puritans of weight training, and quite often they're heaping scorn on something they haven't even tried. They're the critics who attach more importance to antiquated theory than to constructive suggestion; the pseudo-academics more interested in preconceived opinion than in visible results. If someone like this is influencing you they'll probably talk you out of even trying the program. But if you do your own thinking, and I suggest you should, then you might want to give it a whirl. And you'll be pleasantly surprised if you do.

Once you decide to give the routine an honest try, you can figure on a few nice things happening to you. You can plan on a tremendous surge in your energy supply, greatly increased training enthusiasm, a whole new outlook on living, and, most of all, a big boost in your body weight. 

The principle of getting as lazy as possible for a short period of time isn't new. The idea of conserving your energy has been around for a long, long time. The old-timers, in fact, had a saying that became almost a cliche. "Never run when you can walk," they said. "Never walk when you can ride. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down."

Bodybuilding, at least in recent years, is a pretty positive thing. Most of the paths have been well explored and charted. Years ago bodybuilding failures ran high. More men failed, in fact, than succeeded. Guys beat their brain out for years and never got their arms past fifteen or their chests past forty. But today any trainee can make good progress. Everyone can't be Mr. America, of course, but everyone can build a strong, shapely, herculean body. And most of all, everyone can gain weight. There's no excuse for staying thin. If you're trying to gain weight and you're having trouble doing so, then you're doing something wrong and it's as simple as that. If your gains aren't coming, then you're making one or more of several clearly defined mistakes.

Probably the most common mistake in bodybuilding, and the one you're most likely to be making, is frittering away your energy on a multitude of projects. Versatility is a great thing in most endeavors. It's a positive asset if you're a professional handyman. But it's no help in bodybuilding, and particularly not if you're a hard gainer.

A lot depends, of course, on how much you want to accomplish. Almost any form of training will develop you a little bit, but if you want to gain a lot of weight, if you want to really bulk up, then you've got to dedicate yourself to that goal. You've got to channel all your energy into adding pound after pound of solid muscle to your body.

Gaining a lot of weight in a hurry is clearly a form of specialization. You must realize this. If you want to add twenty, thirty, or forty pounds of muscle, then you've got to put your mind to it. You've got to dedicate yourself. You've got to make a few sacrifices. You've got to conserve your energy and direct it towards a great and rapid increase in muscular bulk.

If you're dashing around and doing the million and one things that burn up energy then you're making a big mistake. Don't forget that gaining weight is specialization, and during the period of specialization you've got to restrict your outside activities. You can do anything you want to after you gain the weight, but while you're gaining it you've got to devote yourself to that one basic purpose.

My Uncle Harry is a good example. He put me on to the softening up thing in the first place. Uncle Harry packs around more shapely muscle than any man is really entitled to. He's got a lot of things going, like blonds, brunettes, and redheads, and he leads an incredibly active life, but when he decided to gain weight, he restricts everything else for that one purpose. He goes on bulk sprees from time to time, and when he does he gains weight like a herd of elephants.  

I was over at Uncle Harry's apartment a while ago. I asked him about some of the changes he makes in his normal way of life when he's on a bulk kick.

Uncle Harry stretched and yawned. He had on an enormous sweat shirt with a big button pinned to the front of it. The button read, "J. Edgar Hoover Sleeps With A Nite-Lite." "Well," he said, "I sleep a lot more than usual. I get nine or ten hours per night and a nap in the afternoon or early evening."

"Every day?" I asked him.

"Sure," he said. "I just wallow around and take it real cool."

"And that's one of the secrets, eh?"

"That's it," he said. "The nitty gritty."

"What else?" I asked.

"I get real lazy," he said. "I don't play any other sports, or jog, or do anything that burns up energy. I save everything for gaining weight."

"Doesn't it get boring?" I asked him.

"No," he said. "Not really. In fact, it's kinda nice for a change. It might get boring after a while, but don't forget this is only a three month deal. After the three months are up I go back to my normal way of life."

"That must be nice for the girls," I said. "They'd be getting pretty lonely by then."

"Uncle Harry polished his nails on his sweat shirt. "They are," he said, "but I'm worth it."

Let's get on with the exercise routine. It's a three month deal, you'll remember, and the routine for the first month looked like this:

Seated Press Behind Neck - 3 x 12
Squat - 1 x 30 with six deep breaths between each rep
Breathing Pullover 1 x 30
Stiff Legged Deadlift - 1 x 20

The squats are the most important exercise. They're to be done in puff and pant style with all the weight you can handle. Take about six deep breaths between each reps, and if you can walk properly afterwards you're not working hard enough.

The routine for the second month was a little longer, and looked like this:

Seated Press Behind Neck - 3 x 12
Standing Side Lateral Raise - 3 x 15
Rear Lateral Raise - 3 x 15
Squat - 1 x 30 with six deep breaths between each rep
Breathing Pullover - 1 x 30
Hip Belt Squat - 3 x 15
Stiff Legged Deadlift - 1 x 20
Shrug - 3 x 15
Lat Machine Pulldown - 3 x 15

The routine for the third month is different again:

The first exercise is the One Arm Military Press. This exercise can cause deltoid strains if you're not careful. Warm up well before you tackle it. Spend at least five minutes doing light presses, presses behind the neck, and lateral raises. Use very light weights for the warm-up. Just get your shoulders ready, don't wear them out.

When you've got your blood circulating well, do the one-arm presses. Maintain a very erect position. Don't sway over any more than five or ten degrees from the upright. You can hang onto a post or something with your free hand if you like. It'll help you to hold a strict military position.

Do the presses 5 sets of 12 with each arm. Alternate arms. Use a moderate weight for the first set, your heaviest weight for the second set and drop the poundage five pounds per set for each of the last three sets.

The second exercise is the Breathing Squat. Do 1 set of 20 reps with all the weight you can lift. If you've been working hard enough, this should be a pretty impressive poundage by now. TAKE THREE HUGE, GULPING BREATHS BETWEEN EACH REP AND LET IT ALL HANG OUT. As soon as you finish the last rep do 20 breathing pullovers with a real light weight.

You can have a five minute rest now, and you should need it badly. Some of you, I'm afraid, haven't grasped the concept of hard work on squats. You can figure as a rough rule of thumb that if you're not totally wiped out on the 20th rep then you're not working hard enough and you're not going to gain properly.

After you've rested up from the squats, you can go on with the rest of the program. The next exercise is the Hip Belt Squat, the same as in last month's program. Do 3 sets of 15. Hip belt squats, properly employed, will do more to bulk up and shape your thighs than any other single exercise. They don't have the overall growing effect that regular squats do, but for pure leg work they're unbeatable. Some of you seem to misunderstand the exercise, so we'll devote a little more space to it in another article.

The next exercise is the Stiff Legged Deadlift. Do them as in last month's routine -- 1 set of 20 as heavy as you can.

The next exercise is actually two exercises combined. You alternate Parallel Bar Dips ->with->  Concentration Curls. Do a set of dips and then a set of curls for each arm. Then another set of dips and another set of curls for each arm, and so on. Do 15 sets of 10 reps in each exercise.

Start the dips with as much weight as you can handle tied around your waist. Cut the weight down each set and keep the reps up to 10. When you get down just your body weight you may have to drop the reps a bit. Do your best with it and keep working at it. The weight isn't too important in the curls. Use a moderate poundage and reduce it as you have to. The important thing is to get a good pump. You should be blown right up when you finish the final sets of the sequence.

The whole routine, then, looks like this:

One Arm Military Press - 5 x 12
Squat - 1 x 20 with three deep breaths between each rep
Breathing Pullover - 1 x 20
Hip Belt Squat - 3 x 15
Stiff Legged Deadlift - 1 x 20
Parallel Bar Dip - 15 x 10
alternated with
Concentration Curl - 15 x 10

That completes the program. Keep your supplement intake very, very high and follow the dietary suggestions from last month.

I'm running out of space. Give it all you've got -
surprise your friends and confound your enemies. 

Softening Up for Weight Gains, Part Two - John McCallum

Originally Published in This Issue (January, 1970) 

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

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

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

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

Uncle Harry came out of his bedroom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I squinted at him but he looked serious.

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

"How do I do what?" he said.

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

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

"How old are you?" I asked him.

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

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

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

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

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

He came out again.

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

The phone rang again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Gimme some more details," I said.

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

"Like what?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I ignored him.

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

He put on a Gordon Lightfoot.

"Well?" I said.

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

"Like what?"

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

"Anything else?" I asked him.

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

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

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

"You still drink milk, eh?"

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

"How much?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Anything else?"

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

"You always do, don't you?"

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

"What do you take""

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He took my arm and ushered me to the door.

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

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

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

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

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

Softening Up for Weight Gains, Part One - John McCallum

Originally Published in This Issue (December 1969) 

Brandyside is four and a half miles of tawny sand fronting the blue Pacific. It's the best beach in the area. Every morning, sun worshippers by the thousand pour on to the hot sand and eat candy bars and picnic lunches and prostrate themselves before their god. And every night, man being the sloppy beast he is, the big machine from the city lumbers down the beach and scoops up the day's collection of wax paper, beer cans, Popsicle sticks and Hershey bar wrappers abandoned by the multitude in blithe defiance of the "No Littering" signs posted every five hundred feet. 

I go down to the beach every chance I get. I like to lie around and practice my guitar. My friend Ollie comes along quite often and we sit on the sand and soak up the sun and argue about everything.

We were down at Brandyside about three months ago. I was hacking away at "Eleanor Rigby" and Ollie was staring through a set of 15X zoom binoculars at a dozen teenage girls in bikinis playing volleyball a hundred feet down the beach.

"Tremendous," he muttered.

"Ollie," I said, "if your old lady comes down here and catches you ogling those bubblegummers she'll punch your head in."

Ollie snorted his indignation. "For a healthy interest in the game?" he said. "For a spartan appreciation of the fine points of sport?"

"I'm sure you appreciate the fine points," I said. "But I doubt they've got much to do with sport." 

Ollie swung the glasses around and looked up the beach. He jerked and his mouth dropped open.

"My god," he blurted.

"What is it" I said. "More bikinis?"

Ollie dropped the glasses and pointed. "Look!"

I turned and looked. About two hundred and fifty pounds of muscle in hippie sandals, curly black hair, bright red jogging shorts, dark glasses, and Buddhist prayer beads was swaggering up the beach with a reasonable facsimile of Raquel Welch on one hand and a monstrous ice cream cone in the other. Every woman for a straight mile down the beach was standing up.

I waited until they were almost up to us. "Hey, Uncle Harry," I yelled. "Careful where you kick that sand."

He walked over. The frames of his sunglasses were shaped like hearts and the glass had a reddish tinge.

"That's a pretty cool set of shades," I said.

"Nothing, really." He adjusted the glasses.

I looked him up and down. "Uncle Harry, you must have gained fifty pounds."

"Forty," he said. He shook his arm and the muscles rolled like truck tires.

"You know Ollie," I said.

"Sure." Uncle Harry grinned at the girl. "This is Bibsy."

Bibsy popped her gum and took a deep breath.

Ollie made a strangling noise.

"What have you been doing, Uncle Harry?" I said. "You're as big as a horse."

"Not much," he said. "Just a little thing I do every year or so."

"What d'ya mean?"

"Gaining weight," he said. "I soften up and gain a lot of weight and then I trim it down for definition. I always end up looking a lot better."

"What do you mean, soften up?" I asked him.

"Just that," he said. "I soften up and gain weight."

Bibsy whispered in Uncle Harry's ear. He smiled and patter her shoulder. "Bibsy wants to know if I can hold your guitar a minute. She wants to take my picture with it."

"Of course," I said. "I'll even snap the picture."

I handed Uncle Harry the guitar, took the camera, and stepped back ten feet. He put the strap around his neck and hit the strings with a dramatic flourish.

"Take it easy, Uncle Harry," I said. "That ax is worth five hundred bucks."

Ollie leaned over. "Does your uncle play a guitar?"

"Are you kidding?" I said. "The old lecher can't even turn a radio on properly." I sighted through the view-finder. "O.K."

Uncle Harry placed a paw delicately on the strings, flexed his lats, and beamed at the camera. "Fess up," he said. "Do I or do I not look like half of Simon and Garfunkel?" 

I stepped farther back. "You look like three-quarters o the Norman Luboff Choir," I said. Deflate a bit so I can get you all in."

I snapped the shutter and Bibsy squealed delightedly. There was a spatter of applause. I glanced over my shoulder. The girls had stopped playing volleyball and were looking at Uncle Harry. He bowed graciously and they gave him another little hand.

"Listen," I said, "tell me more about this softening up thing."

"There's nothing to it, really," Uncle Harry said. "I find if I boost my body weight way up once in a while, it pays off in the long run. When I train down, I look better than ever and I'm all hopped up on training again."

"What about the softening up part, though?" I asked him.

"Well," he said, "You know when you've been training for a long time you kinda get into a rut. The gains come slow and you get pretty bored with the whole deal."

"Almost like going stale?" I said.

"Yeah," he said. "Something like that. Anyway you need something to spark your interest and bring some big gains. That's why I do the softening up thing."

The volleyball players had wandered over for a closer look at Uncle Harry. They were bunched up about twenty feet away with their eyes bugging out. Bibsy moved in a little tighter.

"Tell me more, I said.

Uncle Harry put his arms over his head and stretched slowly. There was a big murmur. I looked about. There were at least forty people, mostly women, standing in a big circle around us.

"Well," he said. "The first thing I do is get as lazy as possible. I stop all outside activity." 

Bibsy cleared her throat.

"Almost all outside activity," Uncle Harry said. "I quit swimming, jogging, sports, anything that burns up calories." He paused for a minute. "There's quite a bit to it," he said, "as well as the exercise part. Which do you want first?"

"The exercise part," I said.

Uncle Harry flexed an arm very casually and beamed at the crowd. The volleyballers gasped and moved in closer.

"That's one of the secrets," he said. "That's where I make a big change."

"Like what?" 

"It's a progressive thing," he said. "It takes three full months, and I use a different program each month."

I looked around again. We were attracting more people all the time. "Listen, Uncle Harry," I said. "Either put on some clothes or else talk faster, will you? If this mob gets any bigger, the cops'll come down and spray Mace on us."

Uncle Harry smiled at everybody. He's got teeth like a toothpaste ad. The volleyballers were within touching distance now and Bibsy was looking worried. 

"The program's strictly for gaining weight," he said. "Softening up and gaining weight. It's usually good for at least twenty-five pounds." He took off his sunglasses and peered at me. "You might think the programs are odd, though."

"Try me," I said.

"Well, the first month I only use four exercises," he said. "The whole workout only takes about fifteen minutes. It's really a lazy man's program."

"I start off with the seated press behind neck," he said. "I do three sets of twelve in very strict style. I use a moderate weight for the first set. Then I increase it twenty pounds for the second set, and finally drop it ten pounds for the third set.

"Now I take a little rest," he said, "and then I do the most important exercise in the program -- the breathing squat. I use all the weight I can handle for one set of thirty reps with about six deep breaths between each rep."

"That's a lot of reps, isn't it?" I asked him.

"Yes," he said. "It's a helluva lot of work, too. I'm absolutely gassed when I'm finish. I puff for five minutes afterwards. But it's essential. The program won't work without it."

"Okay," I said. "Then what?"

"Then I do a set of light pullovers," he said. "For thirty reps."

"That's three exercises," I said. "What's the fourth one?"

"Stiff-legged deadlifts," he said. One set of twenty reps with all the weight I can lift. I do them standing on a block so I can lower the bar right down to my toes." 

"And that's all?" I said. "That don't seem like a heck of a lot."

"It's not," he said. "But that's only for the first month and it's only part of the bag." He cleared his throat. "I'll give you the other parts of the program and tell you why the whole thing works." 

Uncle Harry tensed a thigh and there was a big murmur from the crowd. I looked about. There was a solid wall of people around us, all gawking at Uncle Harry.

"Listen," I said. "I think I'll just take your word for it right now and you can give me the details some other time. "This crowd's getting ridiculous." 

"Whatever you think," Uncle Harry said. He bounced his pecs and grinned at the commotion it caused. He took Bibsy's hand, pushed through the crowd, and sauntered away. The volleyball players watched him go. They whispered and giggled to each other till he was out of sight. Finally they went back to the game, but their hearts didn't seem in it anymore.

Questions and Answers - John McCallum

Originally Published in Two Parts in These Issues (Aug. and Sept. 1969) 

Question: You continually stress the necessity of working hard with heavy weights. You state repeatedly that hard work is a must for effective gaining. Yet, I know of a title-holding bodybuilder who doesn't work hard at all. He trains easy and makes fabulous gains. How come? 

Answer: The information in the Keys to Progress series is geared towards helping the average trainee. That's the gentleman who needs help, the guy who has trouble gaining, who sweats buckets for every fraction of an inch and lies awake at night wondering if it's all worthwhile. For him, hard work and heavy weights are essential. He won't gain without them. He's got to shovel coal every foot of the way, and anyone who tells him different is lying to him.

A few people, however, are more fortunate. They're different from us lesser mortals. They're what we call easy gainers and they're luckier than the devil. You can admire these people all you want. You can envy them if you'd rather. But don't make the mistake of trying to train like them. You'll wipe out for sure.

Easy gainers can break all the training rules and still make big gains. They can wave light dumbbells around and grow arms like John Grimek. They can live on tutti-frutti ice cream and still win the best gut award at the muscle show. People like this have to be endured if only because it's against the law to poison them.  

One of the best physiques I know trains for half an hour at a time and never took a supplement in his life. He's too lazy to squat and gains fine without them. But the point you've got to remember is that this type of guy is unusual. You can't use him for statistics. He's got the particular chemical balance or metabolism or whatever that enables him to grow bulging muscles with practically no effort and even less thought.

Very, very few men can train that way and still make gains. If you can - if you're an easy gainer - then you're wasting your time reading this. You don't need help. If you're not an easy gainer - if you're a hard luck apple like the rest of us - then don't get confused and don't be misled. You can't train like the easy gainer and still succeed. He's got natural advantages you don't have. 

If you're an easy gainer - a natural, in other words - you'll soon know it. You'll grow like a baby whale no matter what you do. But if you're not an easy gainer, and chances are you're not, then figure on working very, very hard. It's the only way. 

Question: Will running hinder my weight gains? 

Answer: Yes. It'll stop you from gaining fat and that's a heck of a good thing. If you don't get any more out of this series than that, your money's been well spent. Gaining weight is a concept widely misunderstood by a lot of trainees. Some are just young and impressionable, of course, but some are old enough to know better and so perhaps we'd better take a closer look at the whole gig.

First of all, there's nothing wrong with carrying a little fat. It's probably better for your health and it's certainly better for your nerves. Fining right down for maximum cuts is a nerve wracking proposition at the best of times. Trying to maintain anatomy chart definition fifty-two weeks a year is a guaranteed route to the laughing academy. If you smooth up a little between peaks, don't worry about it. What little you lose in appearance you'll more than make up in well being.

Excessive fat is a different thing, however, and that's where the trouble comes in. Some trainees are so obsessed with looking big they don't care if it's muscle or just pure lard. These are the guys we're concerned with.  

My friend Ollie trains a bit. He went on a bulk kick one time and beefed up about 30 pounds. I was in his back yard talking to his wife one day. Ollie came out in psychedelic Bermuda shorts and a T-shirt. 

"Here it comes," his wife muttered. "The jolly green giant." 

Ollie waddled over and flopped into a lawn chair. "Gaze on it," he said. "The Grecian ideal." 

I leaned over and prodded him in the stomach. "Ollie," I said, "is that all you or are you smuggling furniture across the border?" 

He heaved himself out of the chair and walked up to the edge of the lawn. "Do I look herculean?" he said over his shoulder. He bent down to pick a stick off the grass.

"Ollie," I said. "From here you look like sunset over Semiahmoo Bay."  

He straightened up and looked indignant. "I thought you liked bulk." 

"I do," I said. "Bulky muscles." 


"That's just plain old fashioned flab," I said. "You look like a baby elephant." 

His face fell. "Really?" 


"What should I do," he asked.

"Get rid of it," I said. "As fast as you can. And next time you gain weight make sure a little of it is muscle." 

There's no value in fat. If you think it makes you look better, you're only kidding yourself. It's a blanket of blubber that impedes your comfort and efficiency, shortens your life, boosts you over the melting point on hot days, and hides the muscles you're working so hard to develop. Getting fat just to look bigger makes about as much sense as wearing extra sweaters so people will think you've got a big chest.

Fat does absolutely nothing for your lifting ability. There isn't an ounce of strength in a hundred tons of fat. All the grease in the world won't pull a sick hen off a nest. Don't accumulate any more of it htan you have to.

A moderate amount of running during your building up process will stop you from adding soft flab to your body. Your actual body weight increases might be a little slower for that reason, but you'll be that much better because of it. Too much running, of course, could hinder your muscle gains. The trick is to fun just the right amount, which brings us to the next question.

Question: How much running should I do?

Answer: That depends on your age and what you're trying to accomplish. Let's set up some broad categories and take a look at them. 

Anyone under 30 years of age can, for all practical purposes, be considered young. Generally speaking, these people are primarily concerned with building up a prize winning body just as rapidly as possible. Running, for them, is a very secondary consideration and so we'll view it in its effect on the appearance.

People in the 30 or under category should run a minimum of one mile two or three times per week. The running should be nice and easy and very slow. About 10 minutes to the mile if pretty good. If you gain weight easily, you can step it up to about two miles for even better results.

This amount of running won't hinder your muscle gains. It should, in fact, help them. It will also keep your fat accumulation to the minimum, and your waist and hips nice and trim. It'll also do some very startling things for your health, and we're going to talk about that in detail some other time.


And this one as well:

Men from age 30 to about 50 are still young in the general sense, but then come into another category because their interests usually change. Generally, they're more concerned with a high degree of fitness along with their development and not too concerned with bulking up any further. They may even be interested in supplementing their training with some other sport. These people should step up their running to about five miles three or four times per week. They should also aim for an average speed of about eight minutes per mile.

This is a lot of running and, when coupled with weight training and a high protein diet, will do amazing things for your appearance, ability, and health.

Your whole body will become trim and shapely and very, very hard. Your definition will improve one thousand percent. Even your skin tone will change enormously.

More drastic, and probably more important, will be the health improvement. This amount of running will produce the phenomenon known as capillarization. 

Capillarization, if you don't already know, is an extremely complex physiological process. We'll investigate it in detail some other time. Briefly, it means the formation of an enormous amount of new capillaries within the body. This increase in the capillaries improves the oxygen-nutrient delivery and waste removal functions of the blood stream to an incredible degree. No other bodily change will give you the "feelable" results that capillarization will. There's no use trying to describe it to you. You'll have to experience it for yourself to fully appreciate it.

For men over 50, running should be of paramount importance. Reduce your weight training a bit and run five miles a day and about six days a week. Nothing, but nothing, you'll ever do will do as much to preserve and amplify your youth and vigor.

Question: What is the "Get Big Drink" and do I need it?

Answer: The "Get Big Drink" is a homemade concoction that's guaranteed to put biceps on a bamboo rake. The recipe is as follows:

Pour two quarts of whole milk into a bowl and add at least a day's supply of Hoffman's Gain Weight. Add more than a day's supply if you want to gain weight faster. 
Now add two cups of skim milk powder and blend it. 
Next add two eggs, four tablespoons of peanut butter, half a brick of chocolate ice cream, one small banana, four tablespoons of malted milk powder, and six tablespoons of corn syrup.
Blend the ingredients together. Pour the mixture into a plastic jug and keep it in the fridge. 
That much of the Get Big Drink contains approximately 200 grams of the best protein you can get and about 3,000 calories. There's be about 10 glassfuls in the jug and you drink it all in one day. Don't try to drink it in one sitting and don't drink it in place of your regular meals. Spread it out over the day. You should take a glassful every hour or so.
The drink is intended to be an integral part of a crash weight gaining program. You take it in addition to your regular meals, not in place of them. If you train properly - along with the principles outlined in these articles - and take the drink in the suggested amounts, you can expect to gain up to five pounds a week.
Keep a close watch on your waistline. As I said earlier, there's no point in getting fat. If you start getting too soft, or when you gain all the weight you want for now, eliminate the peanut butter, ice cream, banana, malted milk powder, and corn syrup, and substitute protein powder in place of weight gain powder. 
Unless you put weight on easily, and very few people do, you need the "Get Big Drink" or something very much like it. It's virtually impossible to build the type of body you're after on just regular meals alone. You need extra nutrition, and the "Get Big Drink" supplies it in boxcar lots. 
Inadequate nutrition is undoubtedly one of the major causes of bodybuilding failure. If you can't gain muscle bulk as quickly as you'd like, then the "Get Big Drink" is the answer to your problem.   


Saturday, October 13, 2018

The System: Soviet Periodization for the American Strength Coach

The System: Soviet Periodization for the American Strength Coach
by Johnny Parker, Al Miller, Rob Panariello and Jeremy Hall. 

I didn't expect this book when I got it. I thought it would be a book filled with stories and anecdotes about the good old days of training and the stars who shined the brightest in the world of sports. 

I was wrong: 

This book, from start to finish, is a master class in strength coaching. This is the how-to/do-this book we have been looking for in strength and conditioning. Ignore the word 'Soviet' - this is intelligent training explained clearly.

 - Dan John.


Section One - The Foundation

Chapter One - Fundamentals of the System

The Origin of the System
Hierarchy of Athletic Development
Work Capacity
Strength, Power, and Speed
The Eye of the Coach

Chapter Two - Planning Workout Programming

Exercise Selection
Fundamental Lifts
Prilepin's Chart
Tempo Training Methods
Frequency of Training
Types of Periodization

Section Two - The System

Chapter Three - The System

Core Principles
Fundamental Screens
The Javorek Complex
Determining Load and Volume
Mach Running Drills
Jump Training Drills
Sprint Drills
Sample Four-Week Prep Phase

Chapter Four - Systematic Program Design

Training Cycle Principles
Exercise Selection
Novice Work
Exercise Selection Principles
Exercise Variation
Accessory Work
The Break-In Cycle
Progressing into the System
Exercise Volume Principles
Weekly Volume
Sample Training Cycles
Workout Classifications
Training Session Volume Principles
Determining Percentages
Intensity and Volume
Exercise Intensity Principles
Zones of Intensity
Selecting Training Loads
Counting Reps
Squat Programming
Program Design Principles
The Unload
Designing the Training Session

Chapter Five - Sprinting and Jumping

Sprinting and Jumping Principles
Work Capacity in Speed Training
Strength and Speed-strength - Acceleration
Programming Integration
Monthly Volume
Weekly Volume
Sprinting and Jumping Session Design

Chapter Six - Seasonal Program Design

Goals of Training
      Running, Jumping, and Conditioning
       Running, Jumping, and Conditioning

Section Three - Implementing the System

Chapter Seven - Putting It All Together

Planning Your Programs
Designing a Program - Novice Athlete Sample Four-Week Training Cycle
Advanced Athlete Sample Four-Week Training Cycle

Chapter Eight - Football Programming

Off Season Eight-Week Novice Training Plan for Football
       Cycle One
       Cycle Two, Power
Off-Season Sample Advanced Program
       Cycle One
       Cycle Two

Preseason Sample Advanced Program
In-Season Sample Training Program

Chapter Nine - Integrating Sprinting and Jumping

Sprint and Jump Training Sample Program

Chapter Ten - Final Thoughts


Appendix A - Athlete Profiles
Appendix B - Programming Principles
Appendix C - List of Graphs, Tables, and Images
Author Biographies. 


As more coaches enter the world of strength and conditioning and face the task of developing programs for young athletes, there is no shortage of training programs to follow. The internet provides about as many exotic exercises and programs as there are gurus and coaches. Each is selling systems or methods to achieve gains in size, strength, power, or speed. It is challenging to determine which will be the best system when there is such a tremendous volume of information.

Many entering the field of strength and conditioning will choose a program they find online or one provided by a coach they respect because they trust it will help their athletes and provide a base from which to evolve. In some cases, this will generate good results; however, in other cases, it will end up as time lost to ineffective training.

Unfortunately, what is generally lacking on most coaches' repertoires is an understanding of, along with an inability to implement, fundamental principles to build their own long-term, sustainable training programs. It can be a daunting task for the novice coach and just as much of a challenge for the seasoned coach to objectively evaluate the content and outcomes of their established methods of training. We have been there and had we not put out egos aside to critically evaluate our programming and outcomes, we would not have met with the success we did.

In this book, we lay the foundation for a scientifically based, field-tested, and tremendously effective system of training. This is not a cookie-cuter program you can install without another thought; it is a system to reinforce the fundamentals and principles with which you can design and implement programming that will make your athletes stronger, faster, and more powerful over a sustained period.

We have collectively been utilizing and refining this system for 28 years - it has propelled countless athletes from high school to the professional level, to the Olympic Games and five NFL teams to a combined eight Super Bowls. It will require organization, some basic calculations, and a discerning "eye of the coach," and then it will provide results unlike any other method we have tried or evaluated.

Our driving goal has always been to constantly improve our athletes and ourselves. With out competitive days behind us, we now want to educate the strength and conditioning community, just as we were educated almost 30 years ago.

In this book, we introduce you to the programming we call "The System."

Of those who have learned and implemented The System, it is the rare few who go back to their former methods. To master it will take time and effort. It will take a drive for excellence with a hard analysis of your previous biases and deficits in constructing training programs.

And it will all be worth it.

We have already logged the hours, the miles, and the frustration to refine our combined 80-plus years of coaching and learning into this blueprint for success. Now that we are nearing the end of our careers and the threat of young upstart coaches taking our jobs is gone, we want to pass on the methods and plans that led to our successes. Although you might think that a training system that is 28 years old is already past its prime, we promise you that its time has really just arrived.

First, a disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive review and application of our programming system. To do justice to what we were taught and learned through the years would take more than a book to capture.

Our hope is that providing a foundation of the concepts and creating a few starting points will provide even the least-experienced strength coach an opportunity to implement a more effective and systematic approach of training for sports performance.

There are endless opportunities to manipulate the training variables within our framework to account for the challenges that will inevitably arise when training athletes. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to programming, and even the three of us had difficulty agreeing on some of the specifics we present in the book.

As you gain years in the field, you will continue to learn, reflect, and grow. We hope this book will provide either a new perspective or an opportunity to adapt your current training so you can achieve even greater success.

 - Johnny Parker, Al Miller, Rob Panariello, Jeremy Hall.  


Thursday, October 11, 2018

On Quality Training - Tommy Kono

Some years ago I wrote an article and entitled it "On Q.T." It is as timely now as it was then, and it is reproduced in this book ("Olympic Style Weightlifting" 2001) because it carries a very important message. 

Why is it that some lifters keep progressing and others seem to stand still no matter how hard they seem to train? Some lifters seem to make very good improvement even though they spend only half the time others do. And again, why is it that world champions and national champions who are already lifting record poundages continue to improve while mediocre lifters who have a long way to go seem to be stuck for years and years? 

Let's take a close look t their training methods and their approach to training. We may be able to find the answer. It is true that some lifters are endowed with certain natural ability to improve. For them a little training goes a long way, but for every easy gainer there have been literally scores of "unnaturals" who have made the grade in national and international competitions.

Some lifters who have been training for years and years cannot show much in the way of development or improvement in power. This is akin to a boy who graduated from school but does not seem to know much. He attended classes for 12 years but if he did not make any effort to learn, though he possess a diploma, it means more likely that he just occupied a seat in school for twelve years. It is one thing to attend school and another thing to go to school to actually learn something. So it is with barbell training. It isn't enough that you stay in the gym for 2-3 hours. You must be productive or otherwise you are just wasting time and effort.

I have seen too many lifters wasting their time in the gym performing the exercises incorrectly or performing the wrong exercises. Their whole approach to training is also incorrect, so consequently they make very little progress even though they "sweat blood" and spend hour slaving away doing endless sets and repetitions of the Olympic lifts and the auxiliary exercises. 

Believe it or not, some of the best lifting I ever did was when I was so busy I had to budget my time so I could squeeze in 75 minutes of workouts 3-4 times a week. Even with the little time spent in training, I was able to improve on world records. Incidentally, I was never a "natural gainer" nor one gifted with extraordinary talent.

I have always followed the principle of Q.T. - Quality Training. I have always thought, and still maintain the idea, that it is not so much the quantity of work but the quality that counts. This is what makes the difference between an ordinary weightlifter from the title winners and champions who continue to show progress.

It is true that you have to spend some time training, but if you channel the energy in the right direction and plan your training wisely, you can derive more benefit from less time and with less energy.

In weightlifting I have seen an outstanding lifter of international caliber spend 2-3 hours a day 6 times a week performing wrong exercises. Somewhere along the line he incorporated some wrong ideas and after months of this type of training he did miserably at the Pan American Games. I saw him go through one workout and it proved to me that he was doomed to do poor lifting. He was doing countless reps and sets of useless exercises which just took up time and energy and left him feeling extremely good and in outstanding physical shape BUT NOT FOR OLYMPIC LIFTING. 

Many lifters (and coaches as well) fee that since a little exercising will increase your strength then more time spent in the gym will bring faster progress. They also feel that since heavy weights handled in training will increase your strength that heavier weights will develop strength even quicker.

How wrong they can be in thinking this way. In many instances a longer time spent in the gym can retard your progress and using extremely heavy weights can ruin your coordination, reflex, timing and technique.

Recently a lifter approached me and asked me to watch him train. He wanted my opinion on whether or not he was doing the lifts correctly. After watching him train for 40 minutes and making a few minor corrections on his technique, I asked him to go through his supplementary exercises. 

The first exercise he did was high pulls for the clean. His top clean and jerk was 264 lbs., and he began performing high pulls with 286. He then jumped to 308 and then to 330 for 3 reps. He was going to load the bar to 352 for his 4th set but I stopped him by asking him why he was working up so heavy.

He informed me that he always worked up to 352 x 3 on the high pulls. The high pulls he was about to perform were 88 lbs. above his top clean and jerk weight. When he performed this "high pull" with 352 it turned out to be nothing more than a slow dead lift with a little shoulder shrug at the finish. These are high pulls? 

One of the Caribbean lifters who can clean and jerk 352 as a lightheavy worked up to 462 on the high pulls as part of his training program. In both of these cases the lifters believed that the heavier the weight for the high pulls, the stronger they will become for the cleans. A weight that is 80-100 lbs. in excess of your cleaning ability will force you to pull completely differently than in the clean lift. Because the weight is extremely heave, you can not move fast nor pull it high. More likely it will prevent you from maintaining the correct back position to pull correctly for your cleans.

To perform a proper high pull to work as a supplementary movement for your clean, you must be able to pull the weight at least to navel height smoothly and with accelerating speed. If the pull does not reach your waistline (and I do not mean by leaning forward to meet the bar), or the bar goes up in a jerky fashion, then you are not getting the maximum benefit out of this exercise nor using the correct poundage. 

To receive the maximum benefit from the high pulls, you should use a weight from 20 lb. below your best clean weight, up to 11-15 lb. above your best cleaning weight if your are going to perform 3 repetitions per set. Some lifters use about 20 lb. above their best clean weight and perform single reps with this weight.

The idea behind this exercise (when used to improve your Olympic lifts) is not to see how heavy you can go, but rather how heavy you can go and still maintain a high enough pull to have the semblance of cleaning the weight. Maintaining the correct accelerated speed and proper pulling technique is also a determining factor in this one exercise.

Remember, dead lifting ability does not mean that you can clean more. Many years ago a 181 lb. lifter was capable of dead lifting over 700 but his top clean and jerk was between 300 and 310 lbs.

Would you believe that you can have a tremendous, exhaustive workout in two hours if you go about it correctly? Any more time in the gym could be wasted time and effort.

In weightlifting, as in other sports, if you become fatigued then your reflex and coordination will be off which, in turn, will affect your timing, balance and technique. A prolonged workout, when you are tired, will not help you progress but will instead prevent you from improving.

It is also imperative that you approach your training program with enthusiasm and full of pep. If you go to the gym with the thought of, "Another 3 hour workout" you certainly will not show much improvement for it would be a negative approach. If your training program is short, but intensive, you can get more improvement from the workout than if you had a long drawn out session that you tolerated because you think it is necessary.

Too many lifters approach training with the idea that if a little is good, more would be better. A little of the right kind of training far outweighs the long, drawn our session of the wrong kind. I also maintain that you have a better chance of improving by being under-trained rather than over-trained. 

Of course, there are some lifters who slave away by the hours but still continue to make improvements. Many would point to them as prime examples of what hard training can do. To these rare exceptions I say that they were able to make progress despite the wrong approach to training. I am sure that they would have made faster gains by following a sane training program. 

If you have ever studied world champions training, you will find one thing common among them all. They all take training very seriously and they all seem to know exactly what they are going to do. It is as though they are following a script and they concentrate wholly on the work plan before them. They will joke and play around between exercises, but when they lean over a bar to do an exercise, you know they mean business.

Their workouts are fast moving, and if four lifters are working on one bar, you will hardly see that bar laying idle. No sooner does one lifter set the weight down then the next fellow is loading the bar to the weight he desires. Their workouts are dynamic and intense for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours at the most.

You can see that they are purposeful in their workout and concentrate on each repetition. They perform each lift with precision and work toward perfection instead of just going through the motions of lifting. Each training session is yet another step toward their goal. 

The session is in the right direction and not just another workout in the gym. 

After each training day you should be able to say, "I learned something about myself which will help me in future training." The more knowledge you accumulate about your ability, the more you will be able to arrange your training to achieve maximum results. 

Let me explain this a little further. If you follow training routines as most lifters do, you usually approach a workout with some definite ideas as to what weights you are going to lift for the day. If you find you are not physically or mentally up to the weight you intend to handle, you should be flexible enough to use a lesser weight. To flog yourself by trying to keep up with your pre-planned training poundage could be disastrous. Of course, you should not confuse laziness with an actual fatigued condition.

I trained for two world championships in the basement of my house without a training partner. 

Yes, it's Tommy Kono's basement gym. 
Comes with wheelbarrow! 

As a middleweight my best official Clean and Jerk was 371 lbs., a world record at the time. Believe it or not my cleaning ability, under normal training conditions, in the basement of my house was 305. If I was able to clean 315 it was an exceptional day. However, if my brother would come downstairs to see me train, I could clean 315 without too much difficulty. When a fellow weightlifter dropped by to see me while I was training, I would be able to clean 325.

My best clean under the roof of my house was 345 which I was able to make only once in all my training sessions there. Training by myself taught me to concentrate. It also made me realize my limitations under various circumstances. it made me "KNOW THY SELF" in regards to my lifting ability. With these 305, 315, 325 clean and jerk guides, I could safely start with a 345-350 clean and jerk in a contest.

It may seem that I went off on a tangent, but the point I am trying to stress is that by being able to gauge yourself you can achieve a more satisfying, productive workout. Sometimes when I know I am not in the proper mood for the heavy workout called for in my schedule, I stick to lighter weights and go for repetitions. Repetition training is a little less demanding on the nervous energy side, but it is taxing by way of endurance and develops a tenacious quality. Sometimes I find myself with a new personal record for three reps at the end of my training or a new workout record. 

To achieve the maximum result from each training session, you should have certain basic factors that would prepare you to receive the gains. You should have adequate sleep and rest, eat good wholesome food and plenty of it and leave out all the bad health habits that have a retarding effect. Most of 'em, anyway. I mean, really, let's not get too silly with this "lifting" stuff, eh. What. You're a bloody monk with a barbell? Stop that. Grow up. Enjoy all aspects of life. Or not. It matters not to me. But remember that you can not fight the law of nature and still make maximum gains. 

Your training program should be well planned so that there is no wasted time nor useless exercises. Your training program should also include a long range goal and a short range goal. The short range goal should be a step toward the major goal and each goal should be dated. Be realistic about choosing your goals so that you give yourself ample time to hit these targets.

Do not waste time! You can acquire a better workout if you time yourself and allow just enough time between exercises to catch your breath. You'll find too that by timing yourself you zip through your training and have more enthusiasm and a less fatiguing workout. You can also learn to concentrate more on what you are doing because you are conscious of the fact that you are training and not trying to continue the "story" with the other lifters. 

To achieve Q.T. you must have a positive attitude. I remember when I was about to embark on the national scene as a weightlifter I used to get together every now and then with a friend for a workout. many times I didn't particularly feel like training nor felt able to go heavy in my training, yet I used to enter the gym with the idea that I would get a good workout.

My friend habitually complained. He used to tell me how his married life was or how demanding his job was. I recall him saying many times, "Don't you feel tired?" Having him as a training partner was a real detriment. I vowed then that I would never let myself influence others negatively. Or, another way of reacting would have been to vow to never get caught after caving in training buddy/whiner's head with a dumbbell. Your knowledge of body parts and human anatomy should help with disposing of the leftovers that remain (shovel, wheelbarrow, bag of lime in basement training quarters), knowing full well that the inner thigh of the human is the tastiest cut. In fact, I became so positive in my disposition compared to my deceased complaining friend that whenever I stepped into a weightlifting room I used to exude raw cannibal enthusiasm mega, Bro. 

Isaac Berger employed Q.T. and Norbert Schemansky always impressed me as one who never wasted time in the gym and knew exactly what he had to do and did it. His was a training program with quality, as was John Davis's.

If you have been in a rut in your lifting for some time, it might be that you have overlooked many of the points of Quality Training. A good lifter even takes care in making a 135 lb. lift. Do you use this weight only as a warmup poundage?   


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