Tuesday, May 15, 2018

(Complete) Rib Cage Expansion and Overall Growth - Paul Kelso

Cease and desist with the blathering bilge I'm not interested in, You!
Stop all the
nonsense
add-ons
thoughts
jokes
opinions
references and 
writing paraphernalia in those last two posts.

Note: Not long ago, a few posts back there, we were reading a three-part article series by Joseph Curtis Hise titled "Successful Methods of Increasing Chest Size." It reminded me of this, by Paul Kelso, training author extraordinaire. I highly recommend you seek out and read his two books and all his articles in Powerlifting USA, Iron Man, Muscular Development, Hardgainer and others. 

Paul Kelso: 
February 6th, 1937
July 11th, 2016. 


And in the very near future I'll be dancing happily after having posted "Shrug Variations for Bodybuilders" by Paul Kelso, thanks to the generosity of Liam Tweed.

Also of interest to some, possibly, highly unlikely with this crowd though, is a minor heads-up on an early French version of human somatic typing. Basically, it divides (divided? Is knowledge still knowledge when it's abandoned for the new version/explanation?), ahem, the theory divides humans into four somatic groups:

Abdominal
Respiratory
Muscular; and
Cerebral

I found learning more about this form of French morphology quite interesting.
"Now's where's the damn free wieght litfing article, arsehole," he heard.

Before I shut up now and bow out, I first gots to say that I've decided to omit the date, magazine source, and often the author from most articles or book chapters on this blog from here moving forward. It's come to my attention, from lurking about on various forums and "discussion" sites online that a whole lotta youse lifter folks discern the worth of training ideas by the date they were either written or published, and/or by the author, and/or by the magazine they came from. The word "quaint" is used by the wordier of the bunch when categorizing articles previous to the complete knowledge, total scientific illumination of the practice of lifting etc. that we believe we enjoy today. But not yesterday, eh. So, no more dates. And in some cases, no author will be listed or credited. Additionally no reference will be given to the magazine the article came from or the possible affiliation of a book to a magazine. That should give the original authors and their ideas a bit more of a fighting chance with this tough and thoroughly a-go-go modern crowd. But I doubt it. The herd will always be the herd, always perceive themselves as the latest and greatest en route to missing the boat and walking into the ocean oblivious to the fact that they're drowning in the viscous blue brain fluid of preconception and prejudice. That's a joke. Of sorts. Ha. Ha haaa. Ha-ha HA, ha ha hahaha! That ha ha poem reminds me of one I spent a couple late nights getting right, using only the words fuck, fuckie, suck, suckie, fucksuckie, and suckfuckie. It really had some strong movement, pronounced push/pull features and built to some real nice emotional highs and lows. Crazy what you can do with just a few sound-symbols when you set what's left of your mind to it, ain't it. I'm sure we're all familiar with that. Yet another bombastic crowdpleaser of a joke! Okay . . . two words walk into a poem . . . Also, we won't have to agonize over whether or not an article or book was in fact written by the author given as the author. All we'll have to go on is the training idea itself, which hopefully will strip a few of the filters off of our perception of these silly written things. No worries. No madness, No anger. Simply a huge, overwhelming weight of boredom with 99% of all conversations and communication lately. Might be getting old. Definitely getting annoying. By the way, a pair of Toronto men recently received a patent for their product. A marijuana infused beer. They figure on it being legal for sale about a year or so after pot legalization in Canada is in effect. No more multitasking for double imbibers if so desired! The 'new' ingredient in that bottle bores the hell outta me. There's also a date beer getting set to go into production and hit the shelves in North America soon. The already trademarked name is Hey Hey Hey Ale. It's a 5.5% IPA with added GHB.  

Almost forgot . . . The Book!

This one -- Where the Rivers Ran Backward by William E. Merritt.
A great read, and written with an individual voice that comes off as what they sometimes call "A Natural" or something. He puts his experiences together in a way that has you knowing him like a friend by the first 10 pages. This guy can write! Sound effects, humor, song lyric excerpts, horrors and the absurdity of war . . . you name it, he's got it goin' on in this one. And I don't want to think about how many long hours he spent agonizing over making that writing sound like he's a natural.
Highly recommended!

https://www.amazon.com/Where-Rivers-Backward-William-Merritt/dp/0820311073

 

Enjoy the article, you crazy lifter!








The vast majority of folks training with weights will never enter a lifting or bodybuilding competition. They train to enhance their ability in other sports or for their health. Some train for T-short muscles and appearance and others to stave off the effects of time. Many want to improve their ability to do grip tricks and impress friends and win barroom bets, or to compete in strongman events, Highland Games, stone tossing or whatever. An immense unsung number of trainees are of the "garage" variety who enjoy getting together with pals and train only for their own satisfaction. Quite a few approach the "iron game" as a hobby and attempt a lot of exercises and out of vogue lifts from the "old days," collect antique weights and ancient courses, and are fascinated with the history of the game. 

What follows is a presentation of an older training principle that many say is not outdated and which is out of favor in some quarters. On the other hand, it still has a large number of adherents, myself included, and has made something of a comeback in recent years. In my experience it is both result producing and an exhilarating way to train.

The following principles are designed to make your chest wider and deeper and spread your shoulders. It's a great program for beginners and first year men to use in stimulating overall growth and building a basic foundation for the future. Getting wider across and thicker front to back by expanding the rib cage will allow for more muscular weight to be carried. The exercises are for the most part not secret or new, although some of them have been neglected. They are arranged here in an order that will give maximum results. 

In 1981, I copyrighted the "Bone Structure and Growth Course" in shorter form than this chapter. That title may be misleading, so I have dropped it here. 

In truth, not much can be done with the bones, except maybe to make them stronger and to prevent osteoporosis as one ages. Very young trainees might achieve some lengthening. The purpose of this method is not to change the bones, rather it is to spur changes in the costal cartilages and others that attach the ribs to the sternum and spine, and in the small muscles that support the rib cage and in the inspiratory muscles that function during breathing. 

Expansion of the rib cage will do two things for you. Your appearance and posture will improve. A larger frame allows for more muscular weight to be gained. I want to emphasize that overall growth is a real bonus with these methods. Your strength leverage should improve. Your overall conditioning and endurance will improve. A byproduct for bench press fanatics is that a larger rib cage and higher sternum will shorten the lifter's stroke. 

Note: See Chapter Three of my book "Kelso's Shrug Book" for more on that.  

For the routine to work best, the exercises should be performed as I explain them. Follow the instructions for three months (minimum) to six months. Results may vary from person to person, but from my own experience and that of my pupils, I would say that 1-1/2 to 3 inches of chest gain can be expected in that first time period. Reports in the literature from writers like John McCallum and John McKean claim more. 

Critics of these methods often state that they can only be effective for trainees under twenty-three or so years old, because the bones harden or set after that age. A number of recent articles state that older men cannot make any changes in their "bone structure," and suggest any noticeable improvements with these methods are just muscular weight gain. Yet the literature of training contains many stories of older men who claim success or at least satisfaction with this type of training. So, how can these differences in opinion be resolved?    

Easy. It's not about bones, except perhaps in the young. In an exchange of emails, Casey Butt, a graduate student in electrical engineering from Newfoundland, reminded me that J.C. Hise wrote fifty or more years ago that goal of rib expansion exercise is to place enough stretch on the costal cartilages to activate dormant mesenchymal cells that exist in the adult hyaline cartilage so that they differentiate into adult cells. Casey, who has written for MILO and has just started a new iron mag and website, The WeighTrainer, adds that these and the inspiratory muscles that expand the rib cage during inhalation will -- after some training -- aid in elevating and spreading the rib cage, lifting the sternum, and increasing lung capacity.

I do not claim any scientific expertise, but if Hise was correct, that explanation will do me until a better one comes along. Scientists are generally wary of gym wisdom, but let me add an anecdotal story of my own. I was a concert folksinger for many years. Many times when I was out of shape, or had fallen back into the clutches of tobacco, I'd get a call to perform in a few weeks. I would hike out into the woods and bellow the score to musicals like "Oklahoma" or "Carousel" one day and head to the gym the next to do set after set of high-rep squats, pullovers, and Rader chest pulls. Worked like a charm for my breathing in performance and made me feel great. I assume my diaphragm was strengthened. My shirts became tighter without weight gain.

That suggests to me a reason why many older trainees claim rib cage improvement with these methods. If an older person has never trained before, activating the costal cartilages and supporting muscles of the rib cage could produce noticeable results. For a trainee who has had a very long layoff, regaining at least the structure possessed in the past should be an obtainable goal. Atrophied muscle can be pumped back up when training is resumed, maybe ribcages have "memories" as muscles do.

While preparing this chapter I corresponded with a gent who does not want his name used. His remarks were like many of the naysayers on this subject. He pretty much scoffed at the idea of costal cartilage stretching or growth and even the existence of "inspiratory muscles" which he claimed would be involuntary muscles in any case.

They why, as I sit here at my desk pounding away at the keyboard, can expand my chest measurement and lift my sternum voluntarily without inhaling? If a muscle of body part can be triggered voluntarily, then some way can be figured out to train it. (I think I just wrote a new "Kelso's Law.")

I got flack for my suggestion in the original "bone" course that a beginner might want to use a board under his heels while squatting. The complaint is that doing this may put excess strain on the knees and set the lifter up for injury. In fact, that thinking has become almost carved in stone in the last ten years, and is rarely contradicted. These things come and go in weight training. For instance, the box squat was a very popular exercise when I was young. Then it was darned near illegal in gyms for decades because the "new" common knowledge held that they would injure the spine. But the box squat came back in the last five years or so and is again widely practiced by powerlifters.

Now think about this: It depends how you squat. If you squat completely straight up and down -- allowing your knees to get far ahead out over your toes -- then you are transferring stress to your knees. If you break at the hips first and sit back into the squat, there should be little problem. I used both the elevated heel and the box squat for many years and have never had knee or back problems.

I have been in gyms where the instructors will not permit use of a board or plate under the heels, but regularly encourage the use of the "sissy squat" or the Hack squat machine. Hacks kill my knees, no matter what stance I take. Again, a lot depends on the leverages of the trainee and the machine being used; this is another example where personal choice and need should make the decision.

Of course you have to learn to squat properly. I've been to two hundred-plus weightlifting and powerlifting contest and have yet to see  lifter walk out onto the platform carrying a two-by-four. But while learning to squat and developing flexibility along with the torso and shoulder girdle strength to support larger weights, a board, a small plate under each heel, or even strong-heeled shoes can help maintain balance and an upright position. But this won't work for everybody, since everyone has different leverages. 

Many weightlifters and powerlifters still insert a heel lift into their shoes, which they say helps them squat lower and positions them to start driving their hips forward earlier during the ascent. A widely circulated story is that Dr. Squat, Fred Hatfield, regularly puts two-inch lifts in his shoes and was wearing them when he performed his famous 1,014-pound squat. I competed in weightlifting in U.S. Army combat boots. They worked for me then; if competing now, I'd choose a lighter weight shoe. Others insist that no heel is best and squat in no-heel basketball shoes, which in my case would throw most of the stress into my hips and lower back and cause forward lean. A powerlifter using a very wide stance probably would not benefit much from a high heel.

One overlooked factor: if your shoe size is small in relation to your height and overall proportions, the more likely you'll benefit from a heel and stable shoe sole. 

Brooks Kubik, widely respected author of Dinosaur Training, came out against raised heels in squatting in a Hardgainer article about ten years ago. He has since changed his mind, as this April 2002 quote reveals: 

The stuff about squatting on raised heels being dangerous is tossed out by people who do not know how to do a proper squat. The exercise is perfectly safe. It's a lot safer (and more productive) to do a heels raised OL squat than to do the flat-footed "parallel" gut-it-up abominations that most guys do. 

Brooks is speaking here about the "Olympic"-style, high-bar, erect body, sink it to the calves squat as being preferable to the powerlifter's competition style for most trainees most of the time. Training for a powerlifting meet is another matter.

Heel height is an individual thing, although a 3/4 inch heel is widely accepted as best and is the most common on the competitive platform. Several manufacturers make shoes specifically for weightlifting and powerlifting. The rules of the International Powerlifting Federation state that no part of the underside of the shoe may be higher than five centimeters. two inches is 5.08 centimeters, so the IPF does not seem worried about lifters' knees. To end this, I'd say discard the board as soon as possible and get some good shoes with a firm heel that suits you.

As I have written many times, extremely wide hand spacing with any pressing or pulling movement, especially overhead or with the bench press, may result in shoulder injuries over the years. I believe that is especially true with long-armed individuals, or persons with a relatively long upper arm. Be careful, or find substitutes. In fact (and I am a long lanky type genetically), I did not put on major upper body mass until I included a lot of closer than normal hand spacing in my pressing and pulling movements. That's one reason I like the trap bar: the weights are in closer to the body. 

Note: See Chapter Five of "Kelso's Shrug Book" for explanation of the advantages. 

My first workout took place in the back yard of a pro wrestler named Joe Cassius, who lived near the SMU campus in Dallas. (Joe later became a famous psychologist and appeared on national TV talk shows.). He showed me how to row, squat, do pullovers, flyes, dumbbell bench presses, and behind the neck presses.

I've got to throw this one in. Joe was very short (5' 4") and prodigiously muscular. Weighed about 215. A friend once suggested that if he ever needed work he could paint himself red, white and blue and get a job as a mailbox.

I mail ordered a barbell and set up in my garage. I had no squat rack or flat bench. My squat weight was limited to whatever I could clean and jerk and shoulder on my back. I made up for this by doing as many reps as possible before dumping the bar off backwards onto the lawn. This set my father off swearing when the lawn mower wheels got caught in the holes and he threatened to use the plates for bass boat anchors. I had to mow the yard for years, but the high-rep squats were worth it. I could not have been doing any better exercise for a lanky, narrow-chested kid. 

I "incorrectly" used a fairly wide grip for bentover rowing and behind the neck presses. My bench work was limited to pullovers, flyes, and dumbbell bench presses on an old wooden Army ammunition box.

When I began training, I did not concentrate on t-shirt muscles, as so many beginners do, but on building the frame needed for overall development. I know things have changed a lot since the early fifties, but what good are "gladiator pecs" without structural strength and conditioning?

I had no workout partner to help with benching because weight training was frowned upon in those days. High school coaches taught that weights would make you "muscle bound" (a term that has no medical basis) and would ruin your heart. How times have changed.

My improper training paid off. Without knowing it, I was using a training method that many men have used over the years. In five years I increased my chest size seven inches before including the bench press in my program. Today my chest size is 48-50 inches, depending on by bodyweight.

"Breathing" squat programs for gaining bulk and power have been around a long time, the trail leading from Milo Steinborn in the 1920s to Roger Eells course in 1932 to Mark Berry's writing in 1936, and then on to Peary Rader, Bob Hoffman and others. Joe Hise is famous for using them and behind neck presses to achieve huge weight gains.

This type of training is making a comeback. It usually features a single set of squats for 20 reps with forced breathing (see below). You can find more information on this type of training quite easily nowadays.

But I'm talking about ribcage expansion as well as weight gain here. With that in mind, let's get started. First, measure your chest, both normal and expanded. Use a metal tape if possible. Write it down. It's a good idea to keep a workout notebook or log to record your sets, reps, and poundages at the end of every workout. This is an easy way to keep track of your progress and makes interesting reading thirty years later.

Second, measure the distance from the base of your neck to the outside point of your deltoid (shoulder) muscle. You will be amazed at how much difference a gain of 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width will make in your general appearance. Measure yourself again after three months and see what happened.

Third, EAT! (Unless you are over weight in which case you should use a common sense diet without fads. Chicken, fish, milk, eggs, cheese and canned, water-packed tuna are excellent choices for the protein and minerals you need for muscular gain. Eat vegetables every day whether you like them or not. Put fruit on your cereal. Eat a baked potato, pasta or brown rice three or four times a week for training energy. Drink a "blender bomb" made from milk and protein powder every day.

Stay off the soft drinks and bakery stuff for a while. They have too much sugar and too many empty calories. Do take a vitamin/mineral supplement.

Following is your suggested list of exercises. I'll explain them step-by-step.

1) Stretching and Trunk Twists
2) Breathing Stiff-Leg Deadlift. 1-2 sets.
3) Breathing Squat. 2 sets. Alternate sets with:
4) Light Pullovers or Dumbbell Flyes or Breathing-Style Hise Shrugs, Rader Chest Pulls etc.
5) Breathing Overhead Pulldowns Behind Neck, wide grip. or cable crossovers. 1-2 sets.       
6) Alternate between A and B:
A - Incline Bench Press and Bentover Rowing 
B - Behind Neck Press wide grip and Heavy Bent Arm Barbell Pullover. 2-3 sets.

(Do 'A' one workout day and 'B' the other.)

7) Rader Chest Pulls (optional). 1 set.
8) Calves, Curls, and Waist. No more than 2 sets each.

Yes, you can increase the number of sets when you feel ready.

You're probably thinking that this is a strange course because there are no bench presses, leg curls, or one-hand concentration curls. There is a sound reason for omitting these and other exercises. They don't fit the purposes of this course.

Neither does extending yourself on your work set(s) to the point of puking or maxing out regularly with low reps or singles. Instead of "no pain, no gain" I hold that "train, not strain" is the best axiom to follow with this program. 

Beginners, first year men, and most other trainees should remember that courses published in the magazines are usually written by advanced men for advanced men. Many, if not most, or the articles in the glossy magazines that are signed by "Mr. Wonderful" are actually ghost written.) I don't care if Arnold, Flex, and Ronnie recommend 20 sets per bodypart. They have been training hard for years and are "conditioned" for it. You probably haven't been.

This course is designed for people on the way up who want a good start. Specialization and training for other goals can come later.

NOW FOR THE METHOD. 

Stretching

Before beginning any workout session, warm up thoroughly. Do some freehand knee bends, toe touches, pushups, and wrestler-type stretches on the floor. Don't neglect the shoulders. I like to do some squat-style snatching movements with a light bar. Get loose first so you don't injure something later.

Trunk Twisting
 Place an empty bar or broom stick across your shoulders. Twist in a deliberate fashion back an forth from the hips up. Pick a spot on the wall in front of you and keep your face and hips aimed at this spot. Don't bend your knees. Twist around for enough so that your hands cross in front of that spot on the wall. Leaning forward or back slightly will stretch or contract different areas of your waistline and torso. Begin with about 20 counts each way, eventually working up to 50.

Do the same thing bent over from the waist. Your goal is to get loose enough so that the bar swings past the opposite toe. This works the love handle area. Try to contract your abdominal muscles on the down swing. Do the same number of reps as above.

Many bodybuilders and coaches are against this movement, claiming it thickens the waist and can lead to spinal injury. It can, if you use a lot of weight and swing the bar ballistically. I believe the entire waist column should be worked in order to better support heavy squats and overhead lifts. You can always cut back. After all, what are you training for, athletic power or the beach.

Strength.
Physique.
Eh.

These exercises warm up your waist, hamstrings, and lower back, which leads to a great -- but little practiced -- breathing movement.

The Breathing Stiff Leg Deadlift

This exercise is well known for developing the lower back, hamstrings, and leg biceps. Our way will do the same, but it is also a heavy-breathing chest expander. If you've never done any toe-touching with weight before, start light. Use an empty 20-lb. bar, an Olympic bar, or more, depending on your strength. Try it first with a wide foot stance (which means you won't have to bend over so far). As you loosen up, move your feet closer together.

The first several workouts will stretch and contract your hamstrings and spinal erectors and you'll feel it the next morning. Bend your knees a little if you need to, but work toward keeping the legs almost straight. As you increase the weight over the weeks, I'd suggest keeping your knees unlocked but stable. This exercise also strengthens yo8ur hamstrings, glutes, and lower back; all are important in squatting.

The important part of this movement is timing your breathing with the motion.    

When the bar passes above your knees on the way up, breathe in. Keep your arms straight, roll your shoulders to the rear, and breathe out forcibly while contracting your lats and pecs and squeezing the sides of your chest with your arms. Your ribcage should be forced forward and upward at this point. The sternum or breastbone will be pushed out and up. Hold the pressure for a count or two. Then lower the bar and repeat.

This movement takes practice to master. it's all one smooth movement until you get to the exhale-and-contract point. To achieve maximum chest lift, there should be no air in your lungs during the contraction. For extra gains, inhale, exhale and flex again while in this position. Do this several times each rep. It's very important to use as much weight as possible so that the contraction and chest lift will be maximized. You can do this from a regular or conventional deadlift motion as well, using the legs and more weight. (You can do it without leg or lower back involvement -- see the "Sternum Shrug" in Chapter Two of Kelso's Shrug Book -- but some leg/hip use works best for the purposes of this course.) Try 12 reps per set.

Warming up the legs and lower back is necessary as it leads us to the monster move of the course:

The Breathing Squat

Most advanced men as well as trainees agree: They Hate Squats. There is nothing in the world so creative as a trainee inventing excuses for not doing squats. They pinch a nerve in my back. They aggravate my football injury, my old war wound, my car accident injury. Pick one, any excuse will do. One popular excuse is that they will make your butt big. And it's true that if you perform squats incorrectly for several years you can develop hips and thighs out of proportion to the middle and lower thigh.

However, doing powerlifting competition-style squats bar held low on the back, feet spread wide) isn't going to produce the thigh that 99 out 0f 100 mirror athletes want. Furthermore, most of you couldn't develop a big butt if you wanted one. Your heredity, or natural structure and shape won't allow it. In fact, if you do have a flabby seat, high rep squats will tighten it up!

The truth is, properly performed squats are the best single exercise known for overall growth and power. There is no getting around it.
The key is doing them properly for the purpose you have in mind.
Leverages.
Eh. 
Never, never attempt high-count, 15-20 rep heavy breathing squats in the style of a powerlifter's competition squat.

Here is how to do them for the goals of this course: 

Choose a weight that you can squat for 10-12 reps. The bar must be heavy enough so that the last 4 or 5 reps are serious. Now, what you are going to do is 15 reps -- by taking 3 or 4 extra breaths between the last 7-8 reps, and possibly a little help from your training partner. If you have never trained at all, I suggest starting with about 1/3 of your bodyweight. Not a few trainees have started with an empty bar.

Take the bar off the rack, making sure it rests across the trapezius, not high on the neck, but not down the back like a powerlifter either. If you don't have a squat rack then either build one, learn to clean and jerk real quick or join a gym, but do something. If the bar hurts your spine or shoulder bones try wrapping a thick towel around the bar. You'll soon get used to it,and the deadlift/shrug movement in the breathing stiff leg deadlift will soon thicken your traps. This is where you should start experimenting with heel heights. 

Shoulder the bar and back away from the rack. Your heels should be directly under you armpits and not placed wider than your shoulders. The very tall or long-legged may have to go wider. Use fairly wide hand spacing on the bar. Take a deep breath. Lower yourself into the squat while keeping your back and upper body as straight as possible. Stay under control. Don't just fall down and bounce back up. Lower yourself into the squat while keeping your back and upper body as straight as possible. Stay under control. Don't just fall down and bounce back up. Lower yourself until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor (a line from hip to knee joint) or just under, and then rise. Half squats as often practiced and too often taught at commercial gyms won't get it done.

Breathe out on the way up. Back flat, body erect as you come up. Keep your head up. Keep your chest up. Do not breathe in or out in the bottom position.

A well-known trick in doing squats is to pick out a spot on the wall in front of you that is about forehead height. Stare at it while squatting. Keeping your head up helps you stay erect and your back straight. Do not throw your head back and look up at the ceiling.

Don't neglect your ab work, ever! The abdominals balance the pull of your lower back and if one or the other is weak, you can injure yourself. It's my opinion that training belts are over-used. Rather than supporting your lower back, their real function seems to me to be to give your abs something to push against.

it's a matter of choice. I never use a belt while squatting unless using a weight I can handle for six reps or less, or with heavy overhead work. The lesson is clear: work on your abs.

The important thing about these squats is the breathing.  

Breathe in at the top, squat, and breathe out starting about halfway up. As you reach the 6th rep, take an extra breath and exhale before starting the next rep. After the 10th rep, take two or three extra breaths. By the 15th rep you may need five extra breaths. You must experiment until you find out how much extra weight to use to force this extra breathing and still do 15 reps.

Once you reach this level, add a little weight every workout or two. I don't care if it's only 1 pound on each end. (Some add half-pound "washers" on each end and scooch the poundage up a hair at a time; this method had made a comeback of late, but was widely used in the 1920s and '30s, especially in England.) Stay at 15 reps and slap on weight as often as possible. Do two sets of 15 reps. After each set of squats, go to a flat bench and do a set of straight-arm pullovers or dumbbell flyes.

John McKean has suggested doing a set of pullovers before squatting as a sort of ribcage warmup. As I recall, he stated that doing this might act as a trigger for growth. If he is right, then why not try a set of pullovers during warmups for benching for the same reason? 

Stick with this squat method for three months.
Your chest must expand and your overall condition improve.

Straight Arm Pullover and Flyes

Lie down on the bench lengthwise -- do not lie across it. You might put your feet up on the bench. We want to stretch the ribcage here, not the abdominals.

Hold a small weight (a 10-20 lb. plate or dumbbell should do) with both hands at arms' length over your chest. Keep your arms straight or slightly bent.

Lower the weight back over your head as far as it will go. Breathe in while lowering the weight. Stretch at the bottom. Then raise the weight while breathing out.

Repeat 12-15 times. I wait to breathe in until the weight passes over my face. This is not a muscle builder but an expansion exercise. A heavier weight turns this into a pec-lat movement.

The pullover tends to lift and deepen the rib cage. Dumbbell flies expand and widen the chest. Try them some workouts instead of pullovers. Lie on a flat bench while holding a pair of light dumbbells at arms' length. Keep your elbows slightly bent with palms facing each other. Lower the weights to each side while breathing in. Let the weight stretch your pecs and ribcage at the bottom of the movement. Exhale while raising the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat for 12-15 reps.


The legendary John Grimek used to do a decline flye including extending the bells well behind and below his head. (Upside down negative laterals?) A photo in an old Strength & Health showed him doing these hanging head down from a chinning bar, his feet strapped into "iron shoes" attached to the bar. How he got into that position I don't know. Those "inversion shoes" or hooks that were [Note: that photo was, or may still be somewhere on this blog. Some of the photo-host sites have folded up their tents and flown up to the great peace in the sky since this silly blog began in January of yer 2008.]

Remember, a set of pullovers or flyes is to be performed after each set of squats.

Rader Chest Pull

Peary Rader, founder of Iron Man magazine, developed the chest pull as another ribcage expander and sternum lifter. Simply grab on to any immovable object forehead height of slightly above. Pull down and in with both hands while exhaling. Your chest will rise up and out. I believe a palms-facing grip works best. Do sets of 12 reps.

Extra - The Hise Breathing Shrug

See Chapter Two of "Kelso's Shrug Book" for the explanation of this movement. I would do it instead of one of the other breathing exercises like the Rader Pull or the Breathing Stiff Leg Deadlift. Two breathing movements per workout should be enough. In fact, doing both the Breathing SDL and the Hise Breathing Shrug in the same workout is likely too much. Again, 15 to 25 reps are best for a breathing program.

Extra - Rack Raises

This is the exercise with which Casey Butt of Canada has been experimenting. I have never seen it mentioned elsewhere in the literature on this subject. He thought of naming the exercise after himself, but rejected that idea for obvious reasons. In this case, the "rack" referred to is the bones of the shoulder girdle and ribcage from which the muscles hang, not a metal power or squat rack.

The bar is held across the anterior deltoids as if setting up to do front squats. The lifter inhales and raises the bar upward with the shrugging motion as in the Hise Breathing Shrug. As the bar is not across the back, there is greater freedom of movement as the bar is over the rib cage and not pressing down on the spine. It is way to early to tell, but this expansion movement may prove superior to the old Hise style.

Extra - The Bench Shrug

Include this in expansion training if you wish, using your bench press hand spacing, but keep the weights moderate and use high reps, 15-20. See Chapter Two of "Kelso's Shrug Book" for the how-to-do-it.

Heavy weights with a wide grip may injure your shoulders. I worked up to some large poundages this way and once heard a big "FPOP" as the upper arm bone separated from the socket or whatever the heck you call it in the shoulder joint. Popped back into place on its own, but the shoulder was sore for a week.

Breathing Overhead Pulldowns

This is another "unknown" exercise. After your squats and pullovers of flyes, walk around a little and get your breathing under control. You should be puffing pretty hard; if not, you ain't workin' hard enough!

Next, go to the overhead lat machine. Find a weight you can use for 2 sets of 12. Beginners should try 1/3 of their bodyweight. Use a wide, but not ridiculously wide palms-away grip that you can handle. Sit directly under the bar, low enough that the weight will not rest or bounce off the plate stack.

Inhale. That's right. Breathe in while pulling the bar down to the back of your neck or to your chest. Try to touch your trapezius or sternum. Then exhale and allow the bar to rise to arms' length and stretch you out at the top. Breathe out while the bar is on its way up. (Yes, this is backwards of the normal breathing pattern). Lean forward and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. This move will spread your shoulders wider while working the upper back and lats.

This backwards breathing could be used with pullovers and flies as well. I recommend using the "normal" breathing pattern about half the time with the overhead pulldown; doing both styles adds to the eventual results.

If you train at home and don't own a lat pulldown, you have a problem. You could do wide grip chins, if you can do them. Some substitute moves include wide grip bentover rows, one hand dumbbell rowing, two hand snatches, the snatch grip standing shrug, shrugs while hanging from a chinning bar, and so on.
  
Crossover Cable Pulls and Shrugs 

I've found that doing pulldowns and shrugs "to the side" on a cable crossover machine are extremely good for getting wide and for carving out the smaller muscles of the upper back for bodybuilding purposes. Set the machine in the high position and stand or kneel in the middle. Pull the handles straight in while trying to touch the elbows together behind the back. Then, try it as a shrugging motion for a set, using straight arms to full stretch and then rotating and pinching the scapula together without bending the elbows. A word of caution: start light!

Note or Warning: Do not try all these movements in any one workout. Breathing Stiff Leg Deadlifts and Breathing Squats, plus pullovers or flyes and one other movement of your choice are plenty. Excessive stretching can cause an extremely painful condition where the costal cartilages attach the ribs to the sternum or breastbone. Anyone who has laughed while having broken ribs will understand. Nothing but a long rest can cure it that I know of, and that will set back your training.

That this condition can occur from this type of training tells me that the cartilages are being stretched and that these methods work.

I have divided the next part of the course. One day do Incline Presses and Bentover Rows. The second workout day do Behind the Neck Presses and heavy Bent Arm Pullovers. Alternate these two groups every other workout day.

Day One -
Incline Press, and Bentover Row: 2-3 sets of 6-8 each.

Day Two -
Behind the Neck Press, and Heavy Bent Arm Pullover: 2-3 x 6-8.

Incline Press

You may set the bench at a variety of angles to get different responses. Use a grip about one finger wider than your usual flat bench press. Inhale while lowering the bar to your upper chest. Exhale as you press up. Keep the bar above your nipples.

Start with about 70% of your flat bench exercise weight, not of your best single. Beginners should try about 33% of bodyweight.

This movement will work the upper and middle pecs and contribute to that slab-like tie-in with the front deltoid that improves your appearance so much. However, the vaunted "pec-delt-tie-in" bodybuilders seek often depends on genetic structure.

Bentover Rowing

Pick up the barbell as if you are cleaning, but use a wider grip, about the same as you would for the bench press. Bend over from the waist, feet spread for balance. Start with about 1/3 of your bodyweight until your lower back is used to the position. Bend your knees slightly. Pull the bar up to your belly button while keeping your elbows pointed out. Then lower the weight while breathing in and get a good stretch in the hang position.

Wide grip rowing will widen the shoulder structure and develop the rear deltoid, lower trapezius, and lats. Yes, wide grip shrugs for a set or two would be positive. Later on in your workouts, you will want to get more lat concentration by using a closer grip and angling your elbows in at about 45 degrees.

If you experience stress in the lower back with these, it may be that your lower back and hamstrings need work, or your leverages are not good for bentover rowing. I have short thighs and a long torso and that is not good for this movement, unless I keep the spine at a 45 degree or more angle above the floor and keep the bar very close to my legs. Using the wide grip on a seated rowing machine or other apparatus might be better.

Behind the Neck Press

The behind the neck press is regarded by many as one of the two or three basic deltoid exercises. The entire shoulder girdle is involved: upper chest, the three deltoid heads, upper back, and triceps. Some will argue that there are better moves for the side and rear deltoid, but this movement will spread the entire area as well as developing muscle.

Grab the bar with moderate hand spacing just a little wider than your military press grip. (Again, do NOT use an excessively wide grip.) Start with about 35% of your bodyweight or a weight that is a tough eight reps. Clean or snatch the bar overhead or take it off the rack. These can also be done seated.

Press the bar overhead to a full lockout. Breathe in while lowering the bar behind the neck. Look in the mirror and watch the bar to a point even with the bottom of your ears. Then explode the breath and push the bar up. Some lower the bar to the traps. This will bring the upper back into play more but I believe it stresses the shoulder joints.

Note of warning: There is a lot of concern in some quarters, and in my mind as well, that long term use of movements with extremely wide hand spacing can lead to shoulder injury or rotator cuff problems. That is why I have omitted wide grip bench presses to the collarbone (neck presses), which are popular with bodybuilders. I do not think that using the wide grip moves listed here for the purposes of this course will cause problems, because it is not my intention that anyone use this course exclusively for years.    

Bent Arm Pullovers

This is an "old" exercise that is not seen a great deal these days. The use of pulley lat machines and offset torso machines has taken its place in most gyms. Nevertheless, the bent arm pullover develops lats, upper back, pecs, serratus magnus, and expands the rib cage.

Lie flat on a bench. Hang your head over the end, Tom Dooley. Hold the bar on your chest. An EZ Curl bar works well. Start with 25% of your bodyweight or lighter until you get used to the movement. Then pile on the plates as you go along. Take a grip with hands about 10-12 inches apart. Pass the bar over your head and down toward the floor. Keep your arms bent so the bar passes close to your face. Breathe in going down and out as you pull the bar back to the chest.

I, and others, have flopped face-up on the leg curl machine with our  at the "wrong" end and used our arms to do bent arm pullovers. This John McCallum favorite works great but the problem is finding a machine that will let you get into this position. [I had one that was perfect for pullovers, 20 or so years I had it, and tossed it out into a bin 'cause of its size. It was way wider than most, nice and high, solid as a rock, and lying sideways on it worked great for reverse hypers with weights on the foots. It also worked perfect for lying barbell curls. Oh well. If you're out there red table/bench, I'm real sorry for treating you like garbage.] 

This movement is a great strength builder as well as body shaper. I understand that the official world record is around 400 pounds (by former Olympian weightlifter Steve Stanko) and that was pulling r from the floor to the chest! If you belong to a gym with a pullover type torso machine, use it for several weeks before going to the Bent Arm Pullover.

This is important:

Breathing Stiff Leg Deadlifts, Breathing Squats, Rack Raises, and even Rader Chest Pulls are Breathing Exercises. Pullovers, Flyes, Cable Pulls to the Side, etc., are Stretching Movements. Overhead "breathing" do a little of both. I suggest that TWO EXERCISES FROM EACH GROUP IN ONE WORKOUT ARE PLENTY. Be careful not to overtrain your rib cage. As I said above, excessive forced expansion movements can lead to over-stretching or even tearing the cartilages, causing a very painful condition only rest can cure. "A painful condition only rest can cure." I've had the occasional Sunday like that. Why did my Friday and Saturday subtract from my Sunday! How insensitive of them.

All the exercises listed under Day One or Day Two should be performed for two to three sets, six to eight reps, unless otherwise indicated. You should be breathing hard after squats and pullovers and walking rubber-legged. You will be pretty much worn out after the presses and pulls -- if you have been working hard enough.

Finish off your workout with one or two sets of moderate weight biceps curls and calf raises. Do some situps or other waist exercises. What's next? GET OUT OF THE GYM. Don't do much on your off days. Get plenty of food and sleep. You will grow.

How often should you train? There's a lot of argument in weight room circles about the correct number of days a week to train; almost as much difference of opinion as there is about sets and reps. If you are a beginner with less than three months training, or trying these methods for the first time, I suggest a three-day-a-week schedule as listed above. After you have been training a while, or if you are experienced, you will eventually want to increase poundage and add sets. When you get to that point, you might cut  to five workouts in two weeks or even to twice a week, using as much weight as you can handle properly. You should realize quick gains.

Some find that a single set of straight arm pullovers on off days is a big help. My high school pals and I would try a few Rader Chest Pulls wherever we were -- at the pool on the high dive ladder frame, the softball backstop, anything we could grab onto that gave us the right angle.

What about after the three month or more trial period? Use a regular workout for a while. Try some powerlifting or Olympic-style weightlifting. But once or twice a year, come back to this course and high-rep squats. When you can properly do several sets of 15-20 rep bodyweight squats you you will be on your way to real health, strength, and  powerful appearance. Reach 1-1/2 to 2 times bodyweight on the bar, still doing the squats properly, and you should have moved up a couple of weight classes. many men work up to a single set of 20 reps with 400 pounds done properly as a goal, and believe me, they are terrific specimens when they accomplish that.

At least twice a year I come back to the methods described in this course. They worked for me when I was a young man and they still work for me.

And there you have it.
Nice, eh. Real nice piece of training literature! 




 

  

 




 










 







  







           













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