Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bob Bednarski One Lift a Day Training Week

Bob Bednarski

Bednarski, in just the last year, has come across a training system that suits him perfectly. Others, too, have tried this formula with various degrees of success. He does just one lift per day, concentrating solely on that lift until he's satisfied and then quits for the day.

Here's a sample week out of December: 

Presses, working up to 5 sets of 3 with a moderate poundage - 350 to 380.

Snatches, up to 5 sets of 3 with 305.

Squats, up to 3 reps with 450-500.

Clean and Jerk up to 3-5 singles with 405-425.


Total or work heavy on two lifts.

Squats, up to 3 reps with 450-500.    

Bob Gajda - Shoulder Specialization by Bill Starr


People are always impressed by wide shoulders on a man. Broad shoulders are almost synonymous with tall, dark and handsome. Relatively few men take the time to exercise their way to broad shoulders. They do as so many women, and rely on some sort of padding. This is surprising as naturally broad shoulders are not a common endowment. However, there is hope for those born with a narrow shoulder width, including this author, through hard work and as application of proper programming with consideration of anatomical structural weaknesses.

Anatomy and Kinesiology Applied

There are numerous muscles that are a part of the shoulder girdle but presently I will limit the discourse to deltoid function. When programming for deltoid exercises the trainee should consider three separate areas, which are:

1) Anterior Deltoid (front delt)
Action - flexion, horizontal flexion, adduction, inward rotation, mainly raising the arm forward.

2) Middle Deltoid (lateral/side delt)
Action - abduction, horizontal extension mainly raising the arm sideways.

3) Posterior Deltoid (rear delt)
Action - horizontal extension, abduction, outward rotation, adduction, mainly moving the arm backwards.


The bodybuilder should be award that the deltoid complex serves many functions; pulling. pushing, stabilizing. The function of this muscle changes depending on the angle of the arm. It is because of this that I have used a great variation of movements in my workouts, and recommend that others do so also. Sticking to the same exercise has never done a complete job for me. I've known many trainers who will do nothing but press behind the neck or military presses, whereas I do everything that my imagination can devise. This practice has helped me greatly. Try it. There do exist valuable pieces of apparatus -- like expanders, pulleys, crushers, and many more that will benefit the trainee. They also should be incorporated into a program because they afford different angles of stress that cannot be accomplished with barbells and dumbbells.


In every sequence [search this blog for more on PHA, sequence training] I always do one deltoid movement because this is a prominent weak point of mine. I work the deltoids every single day but with great variation. Always consider that the deltoids move the arm in three different ways; front, side and back. Weightlifting movements are great for the shoulders and would by any standard by a great asset if incorporated into a regular schedule. I will elaborate on weightlifting for the bodybuilder in a later article


and mention it now only because it is worthwhile. I usually work heavy pressing and pulling movements on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and lighter laterals with pulleys and expanders on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

My Favorite Shoulder Exercises

Exercise No. 1: 3-Way Combination.
In this exercise I do three movements as one set. Seated, I do 10 reps of side laterals, keeping the knuckles up and arms straight. I immediately stand and lean forward and do 10 reps of bentover laterals. Be sure to keep arms straight, knuckles up, and hold at the top of the movement for an instant. Again without hesitation, turn the palms to face behind and do 10 reps of reverse kickbacks. The think to remember in this exercise is to return only to the knees and do not swing the weight When working laterals always lower the weight slowly and raise fast. At the completion of one set I will do four or five other bodyparts to alleviate congestion. This exercise can be really great for separation and definition.

Exercise No. 2: Seated Dumbbell Press
The use of heavy weights is the secret of this exercise. I usually start out with 55's and work up to 105 pound bells. I like 10 repetitions in all shoulder movements. Try to keep the back straight, and the feet braced. If you arch the back the pectorals will come into play more, thus cutting the benefit to the deltoids. This exercise is good for size building of the frontal and middle deltoids.

Exercise No. 3: Incline Side Laterals
Check photo for correct performance. Lower slowly. Perfect for working the middle (side) delts.

Exercise No. 4: Pulley Side Laterals.
Work on getting a good lateral delt contraction and lower slowly.

Exercise No. 5: Seated Press Behind Neck
This exercise is done on special racks at the Duncan YMCA. The hands are spaced as wide as comfortably possible.

Exercise No. 6: Expander Front Pull
This exercise is great for the rear delts.

Exercise No. 7: Press Behind Neck With Cambered Bar
I vary this form of press with exercise number 5 for variety. The cambered bar gives a terrific stretch, even though less weight is handled.

Final Comments

Every bodybuilder must decide which exercises will work best for him. No two men are built the same. Following a Steve Reeves' routine won't give you the same build. You have to use common sense. I've suggested many exercises, but don't try them all at once. You've got to determine your energy level and time allotment and program around that. I would suggest that the novice pick out one movement for each section of the deltoids and work up in sets and reps.

Again, I want to say that I sequence all my exercises and use anywhere from five to ten sets of ten reps each. Please don't do exactly as I do. Work out your own scheme to fit yourself.  



Monday, June 18, 2018

Unnatural Exercises - John Grimek (1956)


Photos From a Time When Lifters Had Fun Occasionally.

Unnatural exercises. What are unnatural exercises? Is there such a thing? 

I'm well aware the above statement will shock many readers when they first see it, but let me explain that any exercise that feels awkward or strains the muscles or joints (and there are many that do just that) can be considered unnatural!

Barbell men think all barbell exercises are natural, and any signs of strain are often mistaken as "working the muscles hard" and are acceptable, instead of being associated with eventual injury. But check yourself and answer truthfully, when was the last time you recall nursing a sore shoulder, painful elbow, an aching back or bad knees? Chances are, somewhere along the line you have suffered some slight pain reaction. Nothing serious perhaps, so you let the matter slip by because you've come to accept a "few sore spots" now and the, especially if you train hard with heavier weights or perform extra reps in an intense style. 

However, there may be a morning when you wake up to find stiffness or pain in certain parts of your body. Naturally you'll rub it to stimulate circulation in the region, thinking a numbness developed while you slept in an awkward position and, feel quite certain the pain will leave after you move about. Instead, the pain intensifies as you move the limb. You try desperately to recall if anything you did in your last workout caused these annoying symptoms. Nothing you recall has any direct bearing on the incident, nor explains the reason for the pain. Once more you console yourself that all will be well as the day progresses

You may be right to some extent. Your duties occupy you and you forget the painful incident. As your working day draws to a close, your thoughts stray to training. You move the limb a few times to check any improvement, and while it feels better some pain still remains. You conclude that a good workout will fix it up and, at the appointed hour, you go to the gym and ready yourself for action. You feel fine and prepared for a terrific workout, but when you begin, you are sadly disappointed. With your very first movement the limb shoots out a painful warning in rebellion. It hurst! Man, ya gotta love the occasional spelling error, especially when trying to throw additional stress on a statement. Always good for a small laugh. You find it is difficult, downright impossible, to handle your regular training weights because of the aching limb that throbs with every movement. Somehow it doesn't figure. On your last training day, before this painful condition occurred you felt fit and unusually strong. You took a hard workout and felt like a million Dimons afterwards; no pain, not even a sore spot. Yet two days later you find yourself almost incapacitated and without a clue to the cause . . . where have you erred? 

Well I was wrong, self destruction's got me again
I was wrong, I realized now 
that I was wrong.

The injury, while not serious, may linger for days, sometimes weeks, making it increasingly difficult to train . . . so you rest a good bit. Certainly you've had sore shoulders before, but a couple days of rest usually made it well enough for you to continue training lightly. That's just it . . . if you train it must be very light, and such training may prove conducive to a quick recovery. However, if any degree of pain is associated with any of the movements, don't force it, thinking you can work it out. You won't, but might succeed in aggravating it. Forcing the muscle to work against resistance that promotes pain will only delay the healing processes, but light exercises to stimulate blood circulation into the inflamed region will help. Applying heat will also allay the stinging sensation, and a good rubbing compound could be applied which can help to retain warmth and circulation for longer periods.

But all this doesn't explain how the condition happened or what caused the pain to start, nor what could be done to prevent it from happening again.

Up until recently little attention was paid to the matter, since numerous letters are always received for advice pertaining to various types of physical injuries, but of late an increasing number seem to center around elbows, a condition rarely mentioned in previous years. Now, however, it's not unusual to find several such complaints in the mail everyday . . . why?

This article was prompted by just such a letter which was received from a young man who visited us some months back and trained here. It was while training one afternoon that everyone turned to see where the grinding noise came from and saw our visitor indulging in an unusual exercise that looked more like he was trying to tear his shoulders and elbows instead of developing muscle. Someone asked him if that didn't bother his elbows.

"Not much," was his reply, "although they get mighty sore sometimes." It was logical to assume that a painful reaction might result eventually if he persisted with this exercise. His letter verified our beliefs which added, he was forced to quit training because his entire arm had developed a painful soreness that wouldn't permit the slightest movement in comfort.

Here was a fellow who very obviously ignored nature's rebellion against the exercise he thought he should do, in spite of the grinding noises that issued from his joints while he performed this movement. Cracking sounds from shoulders or knees are quite common and no cause for alarm; they indicate there is a lack of synovial fluid within the joint to properly lubricate it, but exercise will eventually stimulate a better flow and thus eliminate the audible creak. But the sounds our visitor emitted indicated very definitely that the joints were being strained, not trained. 

Even ordinary back exercises could prove a menace to those who have weak backs and decide to strengthen them quickly. There's no such thing as "quick" where muscles are concerned as those who seek such shortcuts find out.

Stiff-legged deadlifts can be a wonderful corrective exercise if employed properly, but they can also be the prime contributing factor to a sore back! Whenever back exercises are employed utmost care should be taken to warm up this region thoroughly with numerous repetitions and light resistance. Once the back is warmed up, it can stand amazing strain and show remarkable flexibility, even among those who are naturally stiff and weak. Some of the outstanding twisting movement we've featured within these pages can boomerang on those who sit around in drafts and chill their backs and then plunge directly into vigorous exercise. This is dangerous and encourages strained and pulled muscles in this vital region, resulting in an aching back that can plague you for months.

Many bad knees stem from exercises that place an unnatural strain on them, mainly because of the position the legs are forced into. The Hack Lift has contributed to such complaints because very often the feet are not naturally spaced, I've always felt that if the limbs were used more naturally, complaints would be fewer.

Some years ago a chiropractor came up with a zig-zagged curved bar to ease the strain during curls, and while this was an excellent idea, dumbbell could be employed with equal success. Hint, hint. Dumbbells allow for more freedom of movement. Nevertheless, this odd bar was the first step taken in the right direction to eliminate unnatural strains from curling weights.

Another condition, less painful but more detracting, are stretch marks. Unheard of years ago except among the very fat, today stretch marks are found to be quite common. Note: There's a great little Kelso article, The Stretch Mark Machine, that I should put up sometime for people who haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet. The flying exercises recommended to build massive pectorals may do just that in some cases, but many develop skin tears instead, which eventually heal and show up as silvery streaks. Exercises that bring about such marks should be avoided or employed more carefully, but more important is to see that skin is supplied with all the elements that keep it healthy, soft and fully elastic.

Using excessively heavy weights at all times is not necessary in all exercises to build muscle, but very often results in sprains, strains and skin tears. Figure it out . . .

Why are such problems more prevalent today than they were years ago? There is a very good reason. On comparing notes recently our conclusions centered around some of the newly invented exercises which are widely practiced today, and are supposed to develop muscles bigger and faster. Too many cheating curls, for example, for those who aren't prepared to employ such poundages can pull the biceps attachments enough to make them painful for days, sometimes weeks. The idea of handling heavy weights appeals to the majority, capable or not, and because this movement brings into action stronger and larger muscles the strain always falls upon the weakest link, which may be the elbow, biceps or shoulder. It may seem odd to a novice that the shoulder can be pulled while curling, but have you tried curling weights when your shoulders were injured? Just consult your anatomy chart and convince yourself this is possible. It has happened many times.

Another exercise that could be labeled unnatural for many trainees is the French Press. This exercise works the triceps in an unnatural manner, therefore it often strains elbows, especially when overdone by using excessive poundages. The greatest strain results when the weight is heaved from behind the head, instead of bringing it up with a steady, gradual pull. Those who employ this exercise in its various forms should be careful to warm up first by using a lighter weight and repeating the first set numerous times. Such precautions will help to minimize the elbow soreness to some extent. Always bear this in mind when doing any exercises: first warm up the muscles thoroughly before attempting any heavy poundages. Much grief might be spared.

Numerous exercises have been hailed as new ideas for muscle developing in recent times, but most of them aren't any newer than the standard curl which has been know and used ever since exercise in any form has been employed. Many of the exercises accepted now were tried and rejected long ago because they felt awkward or unnatural.

Feeling unnatural doesn't always decrease the developing potential of the exercise, however, since many of us are constructed slightly different anatomically so that some of these exercises can be done more naturally by some while others find it impossible, which proves  

As I write this an incident comes to mind. One of our fellows become obsessed with the lying down curl done with an overhead pulley. He found it cramped his biceps faster, but always experienced a stinging sensation after. After finishing his training one day on which he included more of these lying down curls than usual, he joined some of us who were having fun lifting one end of a car. He lifted the car with ease, but while he was holding his end up with ridiculous ease, it happened! The biceps tendon snapped! This wasn't because his biceps were weaker than any of the others, but they were weary and played out from those cramping curls and snapped from pure exhaustion. It's possible, had he not exhausted his biceps with those unnatural curls, he could have lifter the car with all of us sitting in it without tearing the tendon. But unnatural exercises have a tendency to fatigue muscles faster because of the strained or cramped position the muscles are forced into. BE CAREFUL IN YOUR USE OF THESE TYPES OF EXERCISES.

From the foregoing readers are apt to assume I'm out to condemn their favorite exercises. On the contrary, I think most bodybuilders can reason things logically for themselves and realize when an exercise is doing them harm or bringing results. I would like to reiterate, however, that such exercises which feel awkward or unnatural should be done first with a very light weight and repeated many times with this light weight to warm up the tissue thoroughly. A muscle so stimulated absorbs the shock and strain better and offsets possible injury.

The most common danger lies when one attempts to show off for his friends or for the sake of his own ego when alone how much he can do without warming up. It's when the muscles are "cold" and not fully activated that they are so susceptible to injuries.

It also happens when the muscles have been overworked and fatigued, when the tissue is clogged with carbon dioxide, lactic acids and other body chemicals that are produced whenever a muscle is active or exercised. Any sudden exertion in an unnatural position could result in pulling or tearing a muscle.

By experience you will learn when any movement feels unnatural to you, and knowing this, the best thing you can do is discard it. If you eliminate the exercise, you can find at least a dozen to replace it, and perhaps several will prove much more effective. For example, there are many movements that work the triceps just as thoroughly as the French Press and with less strain on the joints.

The old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is truer in exercise than any other field, and those who have suffered painful muscle soreness and even injury will realize the true meaning. So, don't try to show off without first warming up thoroughly. Don't train in cold or drafty locations without ample covering.

Take care of your muscles and they will take care of you. 


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Bob Gajda P.H.A. Interview - Peary Rader

Courtesy of Terry Strand.
All the Best to Ya!

Click Pics to ENLARGE

Peary Rader (PR): Bob, I understand that you pioneered this new system of exercise we have called the Sequence System, and I would like to ask a few questions to help Iron Man readers adapt it to their own training. Why did you research this system in the first place? 

Bob Gajda (BG): Well, Peary, I sort of fell into it, you might say, while attending George Williams College and associating a lot with Dr. Steinhaus. We had discussed the aspects of the various systems, their values and their faults.

While attending an exhibition of the Danish Gymnastic team, I participated in their class of gymnastics with students of the Neilsborg school. I found, while participating in these exercises, that although they were very strenuous and grueling in a lot of respects, I felt stimulated, almost as if it were a tonic. I was very surprised and discussed this with Dr. Steinhaus after the class, and he explained the theory of "Peripheral Heart Action." This is the first time I had heard of this phrase of Peripheral Heart Action, of PHA. Sequence training is a term that someone invented who first wrote up my system; I believe it was Norman Zale who wrote me up in last December's issue of Iron Man. 


Now, before I explain about the PHA system I'd like to tell you what happens when an excessive pump system of training so popular now is used as a means of muscle building. One reason I never favored the pump system was that as soon as I would take a layoff the development would disappear just as fast as it was developed originally, and this has been the experience of others who used this system. In discussing this system with Dr. Steinhaus, he explained some of the chronic effects of this extreme pumping system and the flushing or whatever your wish to call it. 

One thing he felt was very bad was the extreme ischemia condition that it causes. This is what the bodybuilders strive for -- this ischemia. When working in this manner congest the blood in the muscle, getting all into it that it can hold and then trying to force more into it by additional reps and exercises. The muscle begins to ache because of a lack of oxygen (you build up an extreme oxygen debt). This is evidenced by muscle cramp and ache. There is an extreme dilation of the capillaries and veins as the blood backs up and is congested in the muscles. You will often see little red corpuscle breakdowns and the development of varicose veins in the lower extremities because of this congestion of blood.

Because of these and other conditions brought on by the "pumping system" we find many bodybuilders who use the split workout system have very slow recuperation. They often require two to four days rest for the muscles being worked. Because of the congestion and toxic effect of the pump system, their recuperation is difficult and necessarily slow. They also make other mistakes in the pump system, such as rests between sets and exercises. These rests are necessary because of the nature of their training system and the rest periods contribute to the problem, because during the rest period the circulation slows down.

Now, I'd like to tell you about the PHA or sequence system of training and why it is superior. As you know, we have but one heart which is nothing more or less than a muscular pump for moving the blood. However, it can't do the whole job and must have help. It gets help from a lot of other pumps, about 696 of them-- the muscles of the body. Whenever a muscle contracts it acts as a pump to move the veinal blood full of oxidative wastes out of the muscle and back toward the heart so that new blood with new nourishment can enter the muscle. This is the arterial blood.

In order to work or function, a muscle must have a regular supply of oxygen to break down the glycogen (sugar) for energy. Thus we can see that the kneading action of the contracting muscle moves the veinal blood out and bring in new blood with nourishment. the veins which are thin walled are squeezed by the contracting muscle which forces the movement of the blood from and to the heart. This is especially important in the lower extremities of the legs and feet where the blood must be moved against gravity and the veins have little valves which prevent the blood from moving backward when the muscle contracts -- it can only move forward. Thus we have the muscles working to assist the heart in this continuous circulation.

With the PHA system the main emphasis is on continuous circulation. If we keep the circulation constant in a muscle it will grow. We must not congest the blood in a muscle but keep it moving in and out of the muscle all the time. This is the aim of the PHA or sequence system. 

Here is another reason for this continuous movement of the blood. There is a unique system of buffers contained in the blood. These buffers are substances contained in the blood which neutralize the acids so the pH of the blood is not altered greatly. The pH of the blood is a state of dynamic equilibrium or chemical balance needed for life. A normal pH is 75 and anything much above or below this would offset the chemical balance of the body and if the change became very great would cause death. During our exercise we build up acids in the blood which these buffers neutralize. If we fail to neutralize these acids we become fatigued and tired.

Each muscle contains some buffers but not enough to replenish its own loss or to do a complete job under great stress of training. Therefore we must have a constant flow of blood through the muscles to bring new buffering action and to assist the muscles with buffers contained within them. If and when the buffers are used up we develop lactates or acids and eventually we are fatigued and the muscle can no longer function efficiently and must have a long period for recuperation. A well conditioned athlete has, through training, developed a more efficient buffering system -- in other words, he has a bigger phosphate (buffer) reserve to carry him along over a greater period of time.

These buffers are a actually hemoglobin, plasma-proteins, bicarbonates and cell-phosphates.

PR: This is a very good description of what the PHA system is all about, Bob, and I see that you feel that the "pumping" or "flushing" system as is commonly practiced today is not only less effective, but might be bad for the health.

Bob: This is right, Peary, the pumping system will build up an extreme oxygen debt and not only is the muscle congested with blood, it is congested with the wastes resulting when the blood sugar is broken down and energy is being liberated. The whole thing is rather complicated to explain in this short space, but I'm sure you can see my point. You must get these wastes out of the muscle and you must get new blood in with its nourishment and it must be kept moving toward the heart, because unless you get blood back to the heart it cannot pump it through the lungs and on its way again. This is what happens when you use the pump system. You get a congestion which is deliberate and the blood cannot move on -- then the bodybuilder rests, and again when he rests there is no circulation and he continues to compound his mistakes, and I feel that this condition, if continued over a long period of time can be bad for the health. It is possible that it might even have something to do with some sort of the heart conditions we hear about. At least it is not of benefit to the cardiovascular system. We do not appreciably accelerate the action of the heart and lungs over a long enough period of time to benefit them and actually you are committing an offense to them, I feel.

An experiment that a training friend, Roger Metz and I carried out will help illustrate some of the relative merits of the two systems. We had been using 70 pounds for 10 sets of preacher bench curls with the sequence system. This day we decided to try the regular pump system. We rested about four minutes between sets. We were surprised to find that we had to finish the sets with only 40 pounds. The congestion from the pump system would not permit good circulation to the muscle or from the muscle, and the buffering action was almost completely lacking after a set or two. Our muscles became extremely fatigued and were almost helpless.

PR: Bob, in this respect how does the PHA system differ? How does it benefit the cardiovascular system?

BG: In the sequence or the PHA system we train continuously, that is, we never stop even a moment between exercises for rest. We work faster and this speeds up the heart and lung action and this speed is kept up at a steady, continuous pace for a long period of time, up to two or three hours in my own training. In a moment I'll explain how I train in this manner in more detail, but you can see that this is the type of system of continuous and more rhythmic training recommended by Cureton and others to condition the body. In other words, it is training that is kept up without stop over a long period of time. Cureton, I believe, recommends running for at least 35 minutes continuously for best results. Whereas running is strictly an endurance exercise, my system of PHA or sequence training with weights combines muscle building with endurance and conditioning.

PR: Can you tell us a little more about the application of this PHA system, and I note that you sometimes use the word sequence -- what do you mean?

BG: A sequence is a group of exercises -- usually 5 or 6 different exercises, each one for different parts of the body. You do not exercise the same muscles twice in succession, but to to another muscle or body part. If you, for instance, performed two or more sets of curls in succession you would be doing the pump or flushing system. On the sequence system you would do a set of curls, then perhaps go to a set of calf raises or abdominal work or back work. In other words, do not exercise the same muscle two sets in succession. Do not even use what is called supersets in which you alternate between the biceps and the triceps for several sets. This will bring about a congestion of the whole arm. Go to some other body part. Then to another body part.

PR: Bob, we know that a lot of fellows train their upper body one day and the lower body another day on the theory that they should keep the circulation in one area for a long period. On your system the exercises are spread over the entire body.

BG: There is no logical reasoning behind this theory. The blood is circulating over the entire body and should do so.

For instance, if you do flushing or pumping for the arms until you build up the oxygen debt we have discussed earlier, your entire body begins to absorb these fatigue poisons in a short time. You can't stop the blood flow to one area and speed it up to another. This is one of the fallacies of the pumping or flushing system. In the PHA system there is a stimulated and uninterrupted flow of blood over the entire body because we exercise the entire body each workout.

Because we do not rest between exercises we maintain the accelerated flow of blood and the buffering action and thus we delay the onset of fatigue much longer. This permits us, if we so choose, to work out much harder and much longer and still not finish with the exhausted feeling that is so often the case. Such a program, I might say, also permits more frequent training -- as often as every day in some instances.

PR: Bob, you talk of going through a workout faster and with less fatigue. You mention not resting between exercises. Please explain your own speed.

BG: Well, Peary, most fellows take up to 2 to 5 minutes rest between sets and several minutes rest between exercises. Have you tried to figure how many exercises you can do if you do not take that rest? I can do my workout in about three hours. A friend of mine, Dr. Pohanic, came down one time and kept a record of my workout and also of the workouts of the other fellows in the gym. I used the PHA or sequence system and, according to his figures, I was able to do four times more work in a shorter period of time and still was not tired out. I took advantage of the buffering action of the blood by keeping continuous circulation and avoiding congestion. I use many more exercises with this system than would be possible with the old method.

PR: Bob, you mentioned that you did not believe in working only the upper body one day and the lower body the next. Do you follow this practice of working the whole body every workout?

BG: Yes, I work the whole body in order to take advantage of the peripheral heart action or PHA. However, I have what I call upper body emphasis and lower body emphasis. In other words, I will work my upper body very hard one day but will also work my lower body but not quite so hard. Then the next workout I may work the lower body very hard but the upper body work will be lighter, thus I always work the entire body but place emphasis on certain areas.  

PR: When training on this system, what do you recommend for repetitions?

BG: I would say this depends on the person, as we all respond differently to different schedules, and to start out I would say that 8-10 reps would be about right, then later on you may find that more or less would suit you best. Some gain best on high reps and some do better on low reps.

PR: Bob, we haven't said much about sets. Do they come into action here?

BG: As commonly used, no, but I do use sets in a different manner. Let me illustrate. I have a sequence of 6 exercises. The calf raise, the curl, the situp, the triceps press, the pulldown, and the squat. I plan to use 8 repetitions. So I do 8 reps in the calf raise (though for calves I'd usually go higher in reps), then I'd go to the curl and do 8 reps. Then to the situp for whatever number of reps I'd planned, and so on throughout the rest of the 6 exercises. This would be one set for each exercise. Then I would start all over again with the calf raise and go through the whole sequence again. This would be the second set, if you wish to call it that. When I'm training regularly I go through this sequence about 5 times. This would be five sets. I would not rest at any time, either between exercises or between sets or sequences, whichever you wish to call them. I would do this because I know that if I sit down to rest my circulation would slow up and I would then lose the buffering action. My muscles would not be active and so I would not be helping the circulation with the muscle contractions.

PR: Thank you, Bob. Now do you mean to tell me that you would only do 6 exercises?

BG: Oh no, I would do perhaps 24 or 36 exercises. In other words, in a workout I would have 4 to 6 sequences I would work on, each containing 6 exercises. Sometimes I will have only 5 exercises in a sequence, but seldom less than that. Can you imagine anyone doing 36 exercises for 5 sets in the conventional pumping system? He would be dead tired for a week. When preparing for a contest I work up to 10 sets, or in other words I do each sequence 10 times. This would constitute 360 sets if I had 36 exercises in 6 sequences. Certainly this is not for beginners, and I myself would not consider it good to remain on this heavy a program for very long. However, it does help me to shape up and get that sharp definition needed for a contest.

PR: In a recent article you talked about the dangers of holding the breath in lifting, and consequent blackout. Do you hold your breath when exercising in this manner?

BG: No, I do not. When working hard it may be necessary to catch the breath for just a moment. However, when you do this you take a deep breath and then slowly let the breath out as you exert yourself. this will prevent the problem of blackout mentioned in the other article, and is a healthful way to breathe. I think too much emphasis has been placed on breathing. I feel that you should breathe as you find the need and that special breathing techniques are unnecessary.

PR: Bob, do you feel better on this program?

BG? Definitely. You are full of pep all the time and when you to to the shower you are really feeling rather exhilarated. A lot of fellows who have tried this say, "I don't feel as tired as usual!" Actually, they have performed more work in a shorter period of time but they comment, "I don't feel like I've had a workout," because they don't have the usual exhausted feeling. Many fellows drift back into their old ways of training because of this. They are so accustomed to being worn out after a workout that they just can't realize this isn't necessary or desirable.

PR: Bob, do you consider diet of great importance and do you think this program will bulk you up as fast as the others?

BG: I think that bulk building is dependent on diet, absolutely. Exercise has very little to do with either bulking up or cutting down. Proper nutrition is absolutely essential. Of course you must have the exercise to get more muscular bulk instead of fat, but you must have good nutrition. It is supremely important and I will tell you more about this later.

PR: This interview has become quite lengthy, Bob, and so I'd like to ask if you can outline some sample programs or sequence systems that our readers may use.

BG: Yes, Peary, I'd be happy to do this. I will outline three programs, one for beginners, the second for the slightly more experienced, and the third for intermediate trainers who are more advanced. Later I will give you my own program which I consider very advanced, but this is not for fellows who have never worked this system, even though they have previously worked hard on pumping systems. I would like to caution those who are not in excellent condition to take it easy at first, starting with rather light weights and working up gradually.

Start the beginners program for a month, then go to the novice program for a month, then to the intermediate program for a month. From this you would go to the advanced program which will appear later.


Beginners Program - Three Days Per Week

10 reps per set,  2 sets (sequences).

Sequence No. 1

1) Military Press
2) Situp
3) Calf Raise
4) Barbell Curl

Sequence No. 2

1) Bench Press
2) Leg Raise
3) Rowing Motion
4) One Leg Calf Raise

Sequence No. 3

1) Deadlift
2) Upright Row
3) Frog Kicks
4) Wrist Curls 

Novice Program - Three Days Per Week

10 reps per set, 2-3 sets (sequences).

Sequence No. 1

1) Press Behind Neck
2) One Leg Calf Raise
3) Leg Raise
4) Bench Press
5) Wide Grip Chin
6) Barbell Curl

Sequence No. 2

1) Donkey Calf Raise 
2) Side Laterals
3) Situps 
4) Dips
5) Pulldown
6) Squat

Sequence No. 3

1) Leg Press Toe Raise
2) Seated Dumbbell Press
3) Twist
4) Leg Curl
5) Triceps Press
6) Deadlift

Intermediate Program - Three Days Per Week  

10 reps per set, 5 sets (sequences). 

Sequence No. 1

1) Seated Dumbbell Press
2) Peak Dumbbell Curl
3) Power Rack Toe Raise
4) High Tension Situp
5) Good Morning Exercise
6) Wrist Curl

Sequence No. 2

1) Squat
2) Pullover
3) Wide Grip Chin
4) Reverse Curl
5) One Leg Calf Raise
6) Twists

Sequence No. 3

1) One Arm DB Row
2) Lying Laterals
3) Sissy Squat
4) Close Grip Chins
5) Neck Strap
6) Seated Knee Tucks

Sequence No. 4

1) Bench Press
2) Side Laterals
3) Wrist Roller
4) Leg Curl
5) Let Extension
6) One Arm Triceps Press. 

Editor's Comments (Peary Rader) 

I have been very interested in the PHA system for some time. So much so that I use it myself almost exclusively and have put all the men in our gym on it. All of them liked it much better than the old pump system for several reasons. For one, they feel that can get a heavier workout with less exhaustion and quicker recovery from their workouts. We emphasize that two successive exercises should not work the same muscles, and try to space the exercises which do work the same muscles a little bit apart. In other words, we put other exercises between them so there is time for circulation to carry on the buffering action for a longer period and to prevent congestion of the muscle with blood.

I also emphasize that they should never sit down or rest in any manner between exercises, but to continue right through the entire sequence and then right into the next sequence. There is no rest from the time they start their workout until they have completed it. I also recommend that they taper off with a run, jog, or fast walk.

Personally, I follow the same type of program and always finish with a jog of about five minutes. Usually I must do this in the gym an sometimes even do stationary running. This helps keep the circulation active and assists in the PHA. I usually taper off from the jogging to a walk as I finish. I feel that the time spent running is more important than how fast you run. I therefore time myself rather than measure distance.  

I personally feel that this type of workout routine is made to order for the older man interested in health and condition as well as for the young fellow who wants more muscle and strength. The young fellows in the gym are now able to work harder and finish their workouts in much less time than before and all of them are making new progress.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tommy Kono's Training

Charles (Chuck) Vinci 
February 28, 1933 - June 13, 2018.

As told to readers in the Soviet magazine "Theory and Practice of Physical Culture"

In a letter received by Tommy Kono, V. M. Kasyanov, editor in chief of the Soviet publication "Theory and Practice of Physical Culture," asked for a detailed article covering all phases of Kono's rigorous training schedule, to be read by all Soviet athletes now training for the Olympics. He asked the following questions: 

1) At what age did you begin heavy athletics? 
2) What results did you have from your earliest competition? 
3) How did you solve the problem of all around training? 
4) How did your training program advance:
a] quantity of weights used
b] length of each training period
c] loads of weight used at each increase
d] length of each training program
e] what particular points did you pay most attention to in your training
f] sequence of exercises used
g] what aim did you set - what problem was set before you for fulfillment 
h] repetition of exercises used
i] how were mistakes corrected
j] do you practice the hot bath and massage during training periods
k] food and sleep habits during training period.  

Thanks Again, My Friend! 

Tommy Kono: 

Born to sub-normal health, I have always been keenly interested in physical culture. I suffered the first 14 years of my life with severe attacks of asthma and, therefore, it was common for me to miss one-third of my school days during those early years. At the age of 14, when I was 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighed approximately 105 pounds, two close friends introduced me to the value of progressive weight training. 

Although my primary aim in weight training was to improve my health (strength and muscular development being second in importance), I had a tendency to drift into the sport of weightlifting. But it wasn't until March of 1948 when I was almost 18 years of age when I first competed in a weightlifting contest. I managed to place second in the lightweight division in the Northern California Championships with an unimpressive 585 pound total -- 175 Press; 185 Snatch; 225 C & J. 

During my early weightlifting career I did not experience any "fantastic" improvements in the lifts in any short space of time, but I did manage to make steady gains. My total progressed from 585 pounds to 780 in two years time; showing improvements in my total in every contest that I entered.

In May, 1950, I entered my first national contest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I competed against Joe Pitman, defending National Champion, and Dave Sheppard, sensational New Yorker. At the completion of the match in the lightweight class only 5 pounds separated the three of us with Pitman for the first place with a 765 total. Dave Sheppard and I tied in total with 760 but because I had weighed in a half pound lighter than Sheppard I was awarded the second place position.  

My progress was stopped temporarily when I was called to military duty in early 1951. Later that year I was granted permission by the Army to compete in the National Championships. Although I only managed three workouts before the match, I again totaled 760, once more trailing Pitman. Actually, this was encouraging for it showed that I had the potential of lifting superior poundages if I had the proper opportunity to practice the sport regularly.

During the early part of my weightlifting and physical culture work my principal instructions were gathered from the teachings of Bob Hoffman, U.S. National weightlifting coach. I used his courses and many articles as the basis to conduct my experiments on myself and carefully study my findings.  

I learned long ago that individual lifters vary to a certain degree; no two persons can derive the same benefit, equally, from the same course. 

I have been fortunate in discovering the ideal course for myself. But it has been by trial and error, experiment and study that I have managed to filter out all the finer points in scientific, progressive training for the sport of weightlifting. 

Originally, I worked out two to three hours, three to four days weekly. My program consisted of many basic exercises such as the Press, Bench Press, Upright Rowing Motion, Dead Lifts, Squats, Curls, etc., performing them from 2-3 series (sets) of 8-10 repetitions with the heaviest weights I could handle. 

I "specialized" in these basic exercises because I learned early in my training life that it is through the strength developed by the basic exercises plus the coordination of the movements that one is able to elevate heavy poundages. Therefore, it is my belief that all aspiring lifters should go through preliminary training where they devote many hours to developing their all-around bodily strength before ever going into the sport of weightlifting.

At present (1956) I work out from 60 to 90 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week. I either train exclusively on the three lifts plus one or two supplementary movements or perform 5 to 6 exercises paralleling the Olympic lifts.

I consider boredom in training as one of the chief causes of stagnation in lifting. For this reason I rearrange my training methods and program about every three weeks. I fear that if I spend too much time on a single course my interest in the sport would diminish. I also time my workouts and exercises so I do not get absentminded and devote too much time to any one particular exercise. I believe time is an important factor in training so I govern my workouts by it.

Three to five weeks before an important match I go on a program exclusively built on the three lifts plus the Deep Knee Bend exercise. I attempt to schedule my training program so that I use progressively heavier and heavier weights as the contest time approaches -- the contest itself being my peak performance.

During this time I make it a point to devote as much attention to one lift as I do to another for it is the sum of three lifts that counts. In all the lifts I keep the repetitions low in number because too many reps would create muscle fatigue. I also avoid extremely heavy weights in my training for the use of too close to limit poundage would be exhausting on the nerve. The number of repetitions I found ideal for my purpose was three repetitions per set except at the beginning of my workout period when I use light weights to warm up, doing five repetitions.

I use 135 pounds to warm up for the lift I will practice, performing as many sets as I think necessary to step up blood circulation. After I am thoroughly warmed up I gradually increase the poundage on the lift. From 205 pounds I go up in poundage until I approach my maximum or near maximum poundage for three repetitions. Normally this would be on the 4th set. When I reach the desired poundage on the lift I attempt to remain with the poundage for 3-4 sets of 3 repetitions.

When I am in very good condition on the lifts I take a precautionary measure in training in increasing the poundages on each workout. I am limited to a certain extent to the amount of improvement I can make during a certain period of time so I do not try to increase the poundages per workout. Rather I try to increase the weight when I think it is feasible.      

There are many important things in training. The principle behind a rigid training program is to condition the body to work at maximum efficiency. To do so entails many hours of training to improve speed and power, balance and timing, and form and technique. Yet, I believe one of the most important factors in training and commonly overlooked detail is

THE DISCIPLINE OF THE MIND IN RELATION TO THE LIFTS. The complete mastery of the mind over the body enables the body to handle heavy, limit weights.

My training at the beginning of my lifting career has varied quite a bit owing to the constant search for a better, improved method of training. Throughout the years that I have participated in weightlifting I have always made a careful survey of my lifting needs and then attempted to correct the fault of mistake by selecting the right exercise or exercises and incorporating them in my regular training. 

It is only by constant practice with the correct style that one learns to execute the lifts perfectly. Any deviation from the right form I try to rectify by locating my mistake, analyzing and correcting it before it becomes a habit. 

When I have the opportunity to train with other lifters or have someone who knows the finer points in lifting watch, I seek their advice. My theory being that no one person knows all there is to know about the science of the sport, so I ask for criticism which I evaluate to suit my needs.

The end result in all training and studies in any field of athletics is to become the very best in the chosen sport. However, from the beginning of my lifting life my primary aim was to show continued progress in the sport. Winning or losing a contest is secondary. I would rather gamble for a new record than win a championship by performing my mediocre best. Above all I enjoy competitions. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to know that I tried my best and won.

When I am not in actual competition then I compete against myself, a challenge where I have to be at my very best. In other words I try to surpass all previous marks made by myself whether the previous marks happen to be world records or not.

There are many factors which help my lifting but I believe that diet and sleep are two of the main factors outside of good training and proper coaching. I have been fortunate in my training in that I was able to show improvement constantly. This has been to a great extent the result of following the right method of training for my needs; but of late, I have made faster gains in my lifts. I attribute this mainly to the correction of my nutritional deficiencies by Dr. Richard W. You of Honolulu, Olympic team physician. In the past I have made a study of the properties of food and foodstuffs and I have employed to the best of my knowledge the correct eating habits. But it wasn't until I placed myself under the capable hands of Dr. You that I really derived the full benefits from the correct nutritional standpoint.

After having all my dietary deficiencies corrected by Dr. You I have maintained a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and high protein content to continue my progress in lifting. Correct and adequate diet is important in progressive, scientific training as it has been proven to me by my rapid recuperative power during the past year. I am able to arrive at my peak condition faster and remain in top condition over a longer period of time.

Perhaps my worst drawback in lifting at the present time is my very poor sleeping habit. I sleep soundly and well but the hours of sleep are very short. I often go for weeks at a time with as little as 5 and 1/2 hours of sleep per night because of the pressure of business and other matters which takes up much of my attention. However, before an important contest I increase the hours of sleep to 8 hours per night. I believe that I could show faster improvements on my lifts if I am able to sleep and rest longer hours.

My training does not include hot baths or massage. I do believe that correct use of both the bath and massage would help relax and tone the muscles after a strenuous session with the weights but I classify both measures as luxuries that I can do without. I have never used hot bath as a part of my training and only on rare occasions when I have over-trained or cramped my muscles by undue exertions have I had massage.

In conclusion I would like to say that I enjoy lifting and lifters. I have learned the true value of progressive weight resistance as a means to improve one's physical appearance, strength, and above all the prize possession of health. I have been fortunate to be able to travel around the world, visit many countries, meet kings and dignitaries and have made many foreign friends because of the ability I have developed through the use of weights. But above all I have won my health, and that alone was worth all the time and effort that I have spent in the weight room.      

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Thoughts on Thigh Training - Dave Johns

Now freed from physical
Love free to shine on down

January 15th, 1947 - June 9th, 2018
Onward, Upward, Outward . . .

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed.
Thanks Again, Brother! 

As was mentioned in the last post, sometimes what you think does not work does. This next thigh routine is definitely big in the volume department. Never fear, though, there's beginner and intermediate layout recommendations to try too. But don't just toss it all out, no matter what it looks like to you at this moment. You never really know .  .

And see if you can realize this: See that many times when you "alter" or "tweak" a routine, you wind up turning it into the same old-same old thing you always do. Bust out for a change. Go nuts. Toss caution and all the "shoulds" to the winds. Or . . . Be plain, under-work, vanilla up your layout for a while, see what happens. Avoid the middle when you believe the middle ain't working right now. Hey, it's your lifting life, right? And just like you, it won't be here forever.

The only thing that most bodybuilders know about the thighs is that they begin at the hip and end at the knee. They are one of the most misunderstood body parts and, consequently, they are also one of the most neglected.

Beginners, in their misguided enthusiasm, overlook the thighs in planning their exercise routines, concentrating instead on upper body development. Of course, they either develop a top-heavy appearance or they fail to make any type of appreciable gains.

They then reason that weight training is not all it's supposed to be and that successful bodybuilders have some secret (other than the obvious one) they are withholding from everyone else. With this viewpoint they then tend to listen to the gym (or internet) grapevine and fall prey to all types of rumors and misinformation about developing some size.

Eventually they either lose all interest in training and quit with a negative attitude toward the sport, or they continue to train, hoping that someday when they awaken they will have the body they dream about.

The only "secret" I know about thigh training is this: The thighs are just another muscle part. They are the largest muscular area of the body and they have a tremendous effect on overall muscular gains. The kind of thigh work you do affects bodyweight gains as well as the other muscle areas of the body. Squats and other thigh developers accelerate all the physiological processes of the body. they increase the heartbeat, respiration, perspiration, and they speed the flow of blood throughout the body.

Also, by employing intensive thigh work, there is a need for greater food consumption which, in turn, will give the bodybuilder muscular gains.

All these factors influence overall body growth and anyone who feels they can neglect thigh work while working only the upper body is making a serious mistake.

In studying the anatomy and function of the thighs, it is apparent that they are a collection of many muscles, all of them contributing to a large muscle mass.

The front of the thigh consists of the large muscle mass known as the quadriceps muscle, which functions to flex the hip and extend the knee.

The back of the thigh consists of the hamstring -- or thigh biceps, a.k.a. "Larry" -- whose primary function is to flex the knee. He also assists in extension of the hip, doesn't he.

The inside thigh muscle is composed of the adductor group which brings the leg toward the mid-line of the body. In addition, it assists in flexing the hip and knee and also in internally rotating the hip. When fully developed, it gives the pleasing contour of fullness to the thigh.

The outside thigh muscle -- "Mary" -- consists of the abductor. Her primary function is to move the leg away from the mid-line of he body. In addition, it assists in extension and external rotation of the hip.

Unlike other bodyparts for which there can be no single best exercise, there is one for the thighs. Most bodybuilders -- "Garys" -- will agree that the basic squat is not only the best overall leg exercise, it is also the best overall exercise yet discovered.

Because it causes the functions of respiration and circulation to increase so dramatically in a minimal period, the squat can do more for you than any exercise.

The exercises I found most helpful in my training were the squat, front squat, leg extension, and leg curl.

The squat with a heavy weight will, by itself, build great size and power. I have used well over 500 pounds during the off-season, when I train for power. When training for the Mr. America title (won, 1977 AAU title), however, I used many, many sets of high to medium reps with moderately heavy weights. The exact sets and repetitions used were as follows:

135 x 25
225 x 20
275 x 15
325 x 10 x 10 sets.

I found the front squat to be an excellent squat variation. The position of the bar during the front squat keeps the back straight and puts the force of the exercise movement on the central and lower thigh. My training program consisted of:

135 x 10
185 x 10
205 x 10
225 x 10
250 x 10
225 x 10 x 5 sets.

My next training exercise was the leg extension. This is another movement specifically designed for the frontal and near-the-knee area of the thigh. In preparing for my contest, I did the following:

90 x 15
100 x 15
110 x 15
220 x 15 x 4 sets
110 x 15 x 3 sets.

The final exercise of my thigh program was the leg curl. This exercise specifically develops the Larrys. The movement, like the leg extension, is simple -- don't cheat, just curl the weight slowly and contract hard. I performed the following three times a week:

80 x 10 x 2 sets
90 x 10 x 2 sets
100 x 10 x 2 sets
80 x 10 x 4 sets.

Note to Garys: That doubled up pyramid progression is an excellent way to add volume and sometime can come in handy as an easy way to bust out of a plateau when more work works in doing just that. Instead of doing just one set on the way up to your top set, double it all. Do two sets on each jump. It's so simple, so pure, originally found coming down with the driven snow. It's a good tool, a sweet keeper.

My advice to beginners is to start with the parallel skerwat, using only one set of 15-20 reps for their first three months of training. Do this three times a week and add weight whenever possible, without breaking form or sneaking in above parallel reps. You sly dog, you. We can all see what you're up to. Don't be afraid of hard work.

Intermediates who didn't cheat themselves out of gains by using for-shit style can add another exercise to their routines, but their primary interest should still be in developing adequate size before considering exercises used for shape and definition.

Hexperimenting woowith sets hand reps will allow the intermediate trainee to find what works best for him at this point. I believe that, regardless of what stage of experience you are at in weight training, the back squat should always be included in your training routine.

Go Get' Em, Tiger.
It's Your Life to Live.

Next Post: Peary Rader Interviews Bob Gajda on P.H.A. Training. 




Saturday, June 9, 2018

Triceps Training - Dave Johns

This Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed

In an intro to the last post, I mentioned the importance of learning to individualize your training for more auspicious results. Now, this is not directed at anyone who has been training for less than five years. It behooves more experienced lifters, however, to better understand and gauge their responses to the training stress with a non-linear form of variable intensity training modification. Hahaha! Got ya there, didn't I. You figured I was gonna carry on writing like one of those faux-intellectual research-based stooges. Okay, let's get serious now and start over. 

Look, I understand that a lot of you see a high volume or high intensity or high frequency or high volume/high frequency/high intensity layout from a magazine and immediately write it off as BS ghostwritten in a half-hour by some staff writer trying to pay the rent. Think again before you throw it all away. "Baby please, don't walk out that door." There are times when a high volume approach will work for you. Times when a low volume approach will. Times when a high volume/high frequency/high intensity approach will.

And, of course, times when nothing will work for you. No foolin' . . . it happens to everyone who refuses to simply "up the dose" in response to a plateau. Do people like that still exist? I wouldn't know, but do hope so a little.

Thing is, just because something looks like it's too much for you, or possibly too little for you to gain on, you won't know until you try it out at an appropriate time. It's always amazing to find how big a workload some people can progress with at certain times in their lifting life . . . and equally amazing to realize how little some people can do at times and still progress. Consider also that all the varying degrees and shades of life and death are fluid, in partial transition at all times, shifting like a mother from this to that and back to this again unbeknownst to most. Hey, I'm just shittin' ya! Let's carry on with the certainty that we know and see reality as it fully is in this one popularly held to be true view or ours. There. Isn't that just so much better!  

Be open-minded when reading training info. Really. Try things out. Learn to know yourself better than you know that know-it-all who keeps telling you what to do at the gym or through all those sales emails. Recommendations are wonderful, of course! But you're missing out on one of the greatest parts of lifting beyond the first half-decade or so mark if you aren't learning to see the individual you are much, much more clearly

To the article . . . 

To most people -- even some bodybuilders -- the term "big arms" has a connotation of bulging biceps and nothing more. In actuality, though, the triceps -- that three-headed muscle mass located on the back of the upper arm -- comprises two-thirds of the total girth of this appendage. Obviously, then, any gain in the triceps will dramatically improve the arm's general appearance.

If you want to see a prime example of outstanding triceps development, study the pictures of Bill Pearl. You will note that the back of his arm resembles the shape of a horseshoe (for a large horse!), a sure sign of a well-formed triceps. 

Although the triceps receive plenty of stimulation from all of the pressing exercises that are included in a typical bodybuilding routine, specific movements are needed to accentuate this muscle group. The exercises that I have found for myself to best build size and shape are the bench press, incline press, seated press, dumbbell press, press behind neck, triceps pressdown, dumbbell kickback, and one-arm pulley pressdown. 

When training for a peak, I train my triceps three times each week, usually after heavy pressing exercises (see above). On occasions I do alternate (superset) sets of biceps and triceps movements.

I start my routine with pressdowns on the lat machine. This is an excellent movement for building up and shaping the inner and outer triceps heads. I do five sets of 12, working up in 10-lb increases. Make sure you perform this one strictly. I've found that the triceps are particularly vulnerable to injury when they are placed in an awkward position and great stress is applied, so by careful. I do pressdowns with my elbows fixed solidly at my sides and make sure to fully extend and contract the triceps on every rep.

Following these I do seated triceps (french) presses, which work the entire triceps strongly. I use this kind of weight progression: 

80 x 10
90 x 10
100 x 10
120 x 10 x 4 sets
100 x 10 x 3 sets.  

Here again the injury factor must be considered. Warm up thoroughly. Add weight slowly, slower than you think you should, and allow your triceps and elbows to become accustomed. 

Next I do dumbbell kickbacks. Usually 6 x 10 working up in 5 lb jumps. After these I perform one set of cable pressdowns or extensions to flush the muscles. 

You will notice that moderate poundages are being used in these triceps exercises. After several sets of heavy presses, the object is to bring blood to the triceps and pump them up. 

Next: Thigh Training. 


Various Shrug Ideas for Improving the Snatch, C & J, and Deadlift

Note: If you've read enough of Kelso's stuff you've probably noticed that he deals quite often with putting your body in specific positions to better target the desired muscles, as well as "concentrating focus" on same for the same purpose. That, in effect, is the basis of his shrug variation philosophy. Ain't it strange, the way bodybuilders do this and are often considered idiots for even attempting it, yet here it is again, as suggested by a man who is far from inexperienced or lifting-illiterate. I remember two-hundred-forty-seven instances of mentioning Larry Scott and the way he insisted on this form of training for himself (because it worked for him, duh) . . . positioning the body, grip alterations, elbow placement, arc of movement, mental focus to isolate the muscle structures he was after, etc. Consider Vince Gironda's identical ideas on this as well. The pimpers of papers and those who base their training on such fantasy of course disagree vehemently. Most stridently, sirrah.  In my mind the scientific research on this can leave off and take a long, long hike out the door. And take yer white mice with ya. We gots work to do here and yer in the bloody way. By the way, weren't these the same yahoos who told us the sun revolved around the earth for the longest time and the moon was made of the dung of cows jumping over it back there none too longish ago? Again, the results of your training and your hard-fought-for experience in the gym will determine the usefulness and selection of your best methods. You may currently believe individualizing your training and altering/tweaking routines and recommendations will not be needed to bring good results for the length of your lifting life, but somewhere at some point down the line near or far you are going to have to learn to think for yourself, assess your results divorced from what you have been told will work best, strike out on your own, and continue making progress.   

I am not going to discuss the performance and technique of these lifts. If you don't already have that down, go back to it and come back here later. 

These lifts -- the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Deadlift -- are different of course, but they have similar stages. The first, for our purposes here, is the initial drive off the floor to the point where the bar is roughly just below the knees. This varies depending on the size and proportions of the lifter. 

The second phase includes thrusting the hips forward while driving the upper body toward the vertical. 

Third, as the body extends vertically the shoulders are shrugged upward followed by arm pulling during the Snatch and C & J. This usually happens too fast for the untrained eye to follow, but it is there.  The arms in the Snatch and C & J! Still more to argue online about!! Yippee!!! In the deadlift, the shrug part of the pull is directed to getting the shoulders back or erect, instead of up, and there is no arm pull. 

At this point I'd like to ask four questions: 

1) Why do so many intermediate lifters practice only the standing shrug when the upper body in the first stage mentioned  is angled at 35-40 degrees in relation to the floor and 55-65 in the second?

2) Why do so many intermediate Olympic lifters use only a clean-width grip in shrug training when the wide grip used in snatching causes a different direction of pull force during contraction of the muscles involved?

3) Why are deadlifters not using their competition over-and-under grip when shrugging in m? Many are coming back to the hook grip. I approve!

Do not misunderstand. I am not leading a crusade against the standing shrug. It's a specific movement within the clean & jerk or deadlift and is absolutely required in gym training so that maximum height may be obtained. However, as it works the upper trap primarily, it may not be the best assistance movement for the lower stages of the lifts. In the lower stages of the three lifts, the traps and lats are engaged in gaining and maintaining bar height as well as stabilizing the bar and keeping it close to the body.

Here's what I recommend in answer to the three questions above:

1) Lie face down on a heavy duty adjustable incline bench set to 35-45 degrees. A freestanding bench is best. This angle should match the angle of the spine in relation to the floor during the initial drive of the pull. Have your training partners hand up the bar.

Mentally focus the contraction on a spot between the shoulder blades. Crunch the scapulae together. Don't contract up toward the ears. The lower the angle of the bench, the more the lats will be involved, especially if an underhand grip is used.   

Don't forget: practice finishing the movement with the shoulder blades DOWN AND TO THE REAR.

Get a full stretch every rep. Grip selection depends on which lift or muscle group is being targeted. Tony Garcy the great USA Olympic lifting champion used these moves in practice. He called them "retractors."  I'm sure he had his detractors, as we all do at some points in our short lives.

Next, move the bench up to 55-65 degrees for a set or two. This setting aids the second stage of the lifts as the lifter drives toward the vertical.

2) Because of the angle of the arms during the snatch, the direction of the shrug at the top of the lift is not just up, but also at an angle roughly from the hands to the base of the neck. The scapulae move toward each other as well as up. Olympic lifters should practice snatch grip shrugs at several angles as well as with the clean width grip. Wide grip is the way it's done during the snatch itself, so why not during the assistance exercise?

3) From what I read of top deadlifters' published routines, most to 25-30 lifts per workout. At least 2/3 of those lifts do not seriously challenge the lifter's ability to get his shoulders back. (Some powerlifting feds now require only that the lifter stand erect, and do not look for an exaggerated, shoulders back finish.) A few sets of lat pulls and shrugs are tacked on at the end. The standing shrugs are usually pulled up and then back. This is not a good practice for powerlifters as it may develop the bad habit of causing the bar to drop at the completion of the lift and earn a red light. (There is a trend in the last few years not to pull back toward the rear when doing the standing shrug as an assistance exercise. I agree, especially if you are doing inclined or lean forward shrugs as well.)

Why not practice shrugs on a bench using the two angles above and work ALL the muscles of the upper back involved in drawing the shoulders to the rear. [Note: you use these muscles to great effect when bench pressing for powerlifting purposes as wall, hint hint.] Lean-forward shrugs will increase all lifter's ability to "set" their shoulders at the beginning of the lifts and keep the upper back straight and the head up throughout.

These will improve your deadlift. My training diary shows a 55-lb. gain in my DL after three months of practicing these movements at different angles the first time I tried them seriously.

You might practice the over-under competition deadlift regularly with the lean-forward shrugs for two reasons. One, obviously, it's the grip used in competition. Secondly, there is a very subtle difference in the muscle action between one side of the back as compared to the other when using the over-under grip. These shrugs will help keep the bar close to the body during which is very important. However, more and more lifters find that the over-under grip causes a disparity in back development as well as uneven stress. Some, have switched to a double overhand hook grip as used by Olympic lifters for this reason.

A little trick: This next bit has nothing to do with shrugs or traps but I'm going to shoehorn it in. Back in the days when the '55 Chevy was the hottest car in America and I was trying to switch my style from splitting to squatting with the snatch, old time holder of one-hand lift world records Roy Smith suggested I knurl my fingernails. Huh? That's right, take a nail or any sharp point and dig three or four grooves in your thumbnails the long way, from cuticle to the tip of the nail. When you clasp your forefinger over the nail for the hook grip, the grooves prevent slippage. If using the regular thumb-over finger grip, groove your fingernails horizontally across the nail. Some lifters simply rough up their nails on the bar knurling back in the warmup room.

We figured this trick was worth five additional pounds on a lift. Not much, you say? Many a world title has been won by that margin.

On the lean-forward shrugs, I suggest using an incline bench or some other support so that greater weights may be used and more specific muscle groups targeted. Many lifters are capable of handling huge weights for sets and reps with shrug movements, so straps may be a good idea. Alexeev (how many ways has this guy's name been spelled) is known to have standing-shrugged 900 pound for reps, as have other weightlifters.

Truly prodigious poundages are possible. There are no "world records" for shrugs, as no contest has ever been held for them as a lift that I know about, so we have only gym anecdotes. Rising powerlifter Josh Bryant reported as of January 2002 to have done 1035 x 5 in the standing shrug and a hold off the rack with 1175! He was 20 years old at the time and weighed around 300 pounds.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that many top deadlifters do not regularly practice shrugs, preferring to practice pulls at different heights in the power rack. Some set their traps in a contracted upward position before starting the pull and try to hold that position throughout the rep, thereby getting a huge positive/negative benefit (see Chapter Two of "Kelso's Shrug Book" - Shrug Variations). Keith Wassung (Yeah Baby . . . one more time!) told me in an email in February 2000 that he does this during a partial deadlift from his knees!

The Hise Shrug - Power Style

I said earlier I'd talk about shrug variations for the five current competitive lifts. What kind of shrug variation could help the squat? I know of no shrug that can build up hip and thigh strength.

But I do know one that will build confidence and upper body power and allow the lifter to manhandle a lot of weight. It's performed by shouldering a heavy bar and shrugging or hunching it upwards while taking deep breaths to build bulk and power. This movement will get new trainees past the stage of the bar hurting the shoulders, knit the shoulder girdle together and strengthen the entire upper torso.

Obviously I'm talking about the Hise Shrug (see Chapter Two of Kelso's Shrug Book - Shrug Variations). The story of Joseph Curtis Hise has been told many times, so I won't get into it, but he has been called the first powerlifter. The Hise shrug and high-rep breathing squats have been the key to many bulk and power courses since the 1930s. This was the first shrug other than the basic standing movement I ever attempted, way back in 1954. But for competition training, let's do it a little differently.

Unlike the breathing style Hise Shrug described in Chapter Two, back out of the rack with a weight you can squat for 6-8 reps. Do not use a powerlifter stance; keep the bar in the normal high-bar position. Breathe in and shrug up toward the ears with trap and scapular action.

Eventually, many lifters will be able to handle weights in excess of the their best squat. This will increase squatting ability as the lifter gains shoulder girdle stability and his confidence will soar as he practices backing out ("walkouts") and setting up with overloads. Again, I do not recommend going so heavy that less than six reps can be performed. 6-8 reps should be sufficient; we are not trying for ribcage expansion here.

The back shrugs I described will help keep the back straight and the head up during the squat. Combining them with the Hise movement helps prevent losing the bar forward during the squat.

Wrapping it up: 

Powerlifters might add two sets of Hise shrugs after the squat, bench shrugs or cable crossover shrugs when BP training, and face down incline bench "Kelso" shrugs and rack holds for deadlift assistance.

Olympic lifters will want to try snatch and clean grip shrugs at the positions discussed: initial, mid-point, and vertical. I say try them all, but get serious about those that meet immediate needs such as sticking points, getting the shoulders back, or the drive explosion in bench pressing. 

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