Thanks to Liam Tweed!
With the re-advent of the strongman as distinct from the lifter or pure bodybuilder, I felt the urge to sit down and trot a few lines on the subject, first as a guide to the newcomer to this side of the game; second, as a reminder to the advanced man.
In our own country we have Charles Coster, who has been bashing the basic power program angle years, and of even more vintage, W. A. Pullum ("Pop" to you and I), who was weaned on the Saxons and Slades and who knew and trained with super strongmen such as Goerner and Alexander Tass, to say nothing of wonderful Walker [Ronald], and hundreds of others up to the present day.
In America, Peary Rader (editor of "Iron Man") does a splendid job on similar lines, whilst Bob Hoffman needs no introduction. Charlie Smith, now resident there also plugs the strength angle; notice that I am mentioning men who have written on this subject for years, and there are many more I could mention, but they are not as well known in the present world of print.
Two of these are indeed of super-strength on the face value of their poundages. I refer to Joseph Curtis Hise and William Boone. One other great advocate of "power plus" occurs to me, and he is certainly known wherever the "word" is "writ and spoke." His name is Henry [Harry] Paschall, but more of him later.
Now, for some further explanation of "Body Power."
In using this term I refer to the ability of a man to push, heave, carry and support heavy weights or burdens, and not merely to the practice of "scientific" weightlifting for any trained lifter should outlift a "natural" strongman, but if the same lifter tried to equal the "natural" at handling a baulk of timber, or other heavy and awkward object, he might receive a nasty jolt to the ego.
I do believe that any man taking steps to develop great body power must concentrate upon the constant handling of the heaviest weights possible in the Deadlift, Squat, Press and Press on Back or Bench. The last named may surprise a few of the older gang, but although it is not a favorite of mine I have gradually come to the conclusion that this movement is of great value as a basic power movement, not, I hasten to add, as used by some types as a purely pumping up movement, but the way that Reg Park, Wag Bennett, Doug Hepburn and other great bodybuilder-strongmen use it . . . low reps and high poundages plus bags of "fight" . . . the last mentioned quality is the most valuable adjunct that you could possibly have in your search for strength.
A great deal has been made of the method where you fix chains to the ceiling to support great weights, of special platforms and boards for "hoppers," etc. Knowing the difficulties anent these devices, I humbly suggest that it is possible to gain extreme body-power via the more usual barbell and dumb-bell movements.
Choose the Squat or Deadlift as the mainstay of your power schedule and don't perform more than four of these heavy movements per workout, or more than five workouts per week. The number of workouts depend, of course, upon the capabilities of the performer, but if you are a "quick recovery" man, then my theory is that habit and daily usage of heavy poundages takes the "awe" out of the weight.
As a personal example of this, I mention that when Sam Perkins and myself were "timber humping" before the war, despite working very hard all day carrying heavy loads, we still found the strength and energy to lift weights, balance, etc., chiefly because our bodies were so toughened by hard daily toil and the carrying of literally tons of lumber, that we had built up a terrific resistance to fatigue; it also gave us a contempt for the poundages we used in our lifts and exercises, etc.
I would not advocate this form of training as it is toughens the muscles and thickens and strengthens the ligaments to such an extent that muscle size is limited considerably, but I do believe that the five workouts per week plan can be of the greatest value to the "power at any price" man.
Supposing you have chosen the Squat as your chief movement, I suggest as a specimen schedule that you keep the consecutive reps between 3 and 5, and the number of sets at 6, as this movement is the main one, you perform it first. After appropriate warm up, of course. Work at a definite rhythm and do not allow yourself to "cool off."
Now, start with some Standing Presses and Clean the weights, don't take them off stands.
For your third power builder try the Continental Clean and Jerk and try to get 2 or 3 Jerks to every Continental Clean, and the value of the Continental Clean lies in the very heavy weights it enables you to get to the shoulders, giving you plenty of overhead supporting which is very necessary if you intend to take up lifting seriously.
Here, more on the Continental Clean:
If, like myself, you find it painful to support weights at the shoulders then substitute the Jerk Behind Neck. You can take the weight across the shoulders as you squat underneath it. The squat part of the movement is of great value as you have to control the weight all the time.
If you perform 3 jerks to every clean, and do a total of 10 heavy cleans, you will have performed 30 or 40 movements of this exercise.
Now try the Bench Press (or Press on Back) and keep the reps between 3 and 5, and do not purposely start arching the back until you are literally forced to by the poundage. Try to keep your grip the same width as your standing press, as I do think it would be a great advantage to the standing press by reason of developing and strengthening the muscles you use for it, whereas the wide grip style may work wonders for the "pecs," the narrow grip does rouse those triceps to terrific efforts, as wall as giving the anterior deltoids sustaining power, but don't do more than 20 reps in all.
Although this schedule I will give you is primarily for "power," you will probably be amazed by the results to your musculature, for it makes the muscles clean cut, and thickens them all round apart from filling out those hollows here and there, with great depth of cable-like muscles.
If you decide to go through with the above schedule, perform it twice per week, with two more sessions of heavy dumb-bell work, and one session devoted entirely to shoulder supports and weight carrying; but let us take it in order and continue with the dumb-bell schedule.
Dumb-bells, unfortunately, are not very adaptable for leg work, but for general all round power and torso specialization are unbeatable, although you will never reach the sheer poundage that you can on a bar, for heavy dumb-bells need so much controlling that what would be quite an easy poundage on a bar would become hard graft on them.
A good power layout would be Two Dumbbell Pressing, reps around 3 and working on them until you can get 3 - 5 reps per set out of them, and perform a total of 20 reps, at least. Also include alternate presses, known among B.B.'s as "See Saw." Sets of 6 reps, and a total of 40 will suffice.
The second exercise is the Two Hands Dumb-bell Snatch. This is a tough movement and I think that the best way is 2 reps per set and a total of 20 reps.
Number 3 is the Dumb-bell Clean and Jerk. Perform 1 clean and 3 jerks, 10 cleans in all.
Number 4, our old pal the bench press, can see some real weights handled, and when you reach 300 on the Dumb-bell Bench Press you are in the "Super" class, but don't forget, concentrate on dumb-bells of approx. body-weight for the pressing and snatching and about 40 lbs. more for the clean and jerks, and 20 lbs. for bench pressing. Heavy dumb-bell lifting takes bags of energy and determination, but give power plus in return.
If you can become a five workout per week man, then use the third training period for loading the bar with solid poundages, and after 3 sets of 3 rep Heavy Squats or Dead Lifts as a "warm up" start with at least double your limit squat and practice unlocking the legs and locking them strongly whilst supporting the bar across the shoulders. Take it off the stands and practice walking with it. Then try walking with a heavy bar overhead. Also try lying on the floor and have the bar lifted to arms length as a support exercise. You will soon be capable of supporting huge poundages. Also try the same thing on the feet.
I am often asked who I think is the man I consider to possess the greatest Basic Power in the World. This is a very hard question to answer, with men such as Bert Assirati
Rene Leclerc, John Davis and that incredible Doug Hepburn, how is one to know what constitutes the "greatest," where does "Natural" power begin. According to his life story and photos, Doug Hepburn was quite an ordinary chap in physique and strength not many years ago.
Doug Hepburn at Three Years of Age.
I couldn't resist.
Yet, we now acclaim him as one of the strongest of all time, which would disprove the theory that you have to be a "Natural" to start with, and that Basic Power cannot be "built up."
Personally, I do think that whilst you can build up tremendous Power, it depends more upon your potentialities for power, as to whether with the right training, one would eventually rank with the world's greatest, but let us leave the subject at this point, before we get too overly involved, and waste time arguing the point, instead of concentrating upon seeing whether we are among the favored few.
In any case, if you train hard upon the lines of the suggested schedules, you will still be a Strong Man in any company, and will be able to be proud, for those shoulders will be really rugged with tough traps and terrific deltoids, those arms will bulge and ripple, the thighs will match, the midsection tough and strong, plus a back like a python, and from then on . . .
The Sky's the Limit!