Thursday, May 31, 2018

Irregular Training and Specialization Methods


 I gotta say Thanks Big to Terry S for all the Bob Gajda stuff on my B-Day.
Much appreciated and enjoyed, Brother!






Here's a good bit of info from C.A. Smith and D.I. Hepburn.
Sent from the ghostly realms of greats gone on.
Or not.
Written by Charles A. Smith.
Douglas Ivan, right? You knew that.



In the Land of Lifters Past


The case for Irregular Training, or as Doug Hepburn calls it, "Haphazard Training," is directly tied up with the lifter's mental attitude to his sport. "Haphazard" and "Irregular"  may be misleading, though, since the training is anything but haphazard or irregular, being in effect an extremely intense form of specialization, in which the lifter concentrates all his physical and MENTAL resources on a particular lift to the exclusion of all others.

But there are two important points to remember:

1) The lift chosen is such that there is a definite need for the specialization, which not only leads to improvement in the particular exercise used but also helps to maintain power in lifts/exercises the trainee practices at other times.

2) Most importantly, the strength athlete MUST at the time definitely favor the exercise above all others.

Now, this is sound psychology since a task you ENJOY performing, you'll perform much more efficiently and with greater and more favorable results, results that come faster than by using an ordinary strength training program.

The lifter using "haphazard training" rarely keeps to a set schedule, but simply exercises when he feels like it, and not when he's "supposed to" exercise. Furthermore, he only uses the exercise that appeals to him at the time. If he feels like taking a good workout, he takes one and gives it all he's got. If he feels the least bit tired or has no inclination to train . . . he doesn't train. To some strength athletes, this system will seem to have little or no merit, but when you read this article to its conclusion, I am sure you will agree that there is a very sound basis for Doug Hepburn's contention that Irregular Training can benefit lifters, especially those who have come up against a stale period.

Some of the Iron Game's most famous personalities have used this Irregular method of training. Hermann Goerner, one of the strongest men to lift a barbell, trained in a haphazard manner. Arthur Saxon, another all time great and holder of the Bent Press record, was a strength athlete who didn't  follow a set routine, altho he trained every day. But Arthur must have really loved his lifting.

Doug Hepburn discovered long ago that this "haphazard" method of working out was perfectly suited to his temperament, and he's adhered to the approach ever since. The results he obtained speak for themselves. Doug has tried at various times to keep to a definite routine, performing a particular program at each workout, keeping track of sets and repetitions. But he repeatedly wound up going stale. Naturally the condition was merely temporary since he always returned to his normal training program, and made gains again. Nowadays he has discontinued this experimenting because he has proven to himself that the only way he can train and make steady progress is by utilizing irregular training methods.

Note: Over the years I've had the good fortune of talking in person with two elder lifters who trained at Hepburn's Gym on Hastings back when Doug was putting up those big weights. They both stated that he was very loose in his approach, and didn't think twice before backing off or even vacating the premises on an off day, or going with some variation whenever he thought it would benefit him. If the weights weren't going up as expected, he often HAD SOME FUN with other exercises and/or strength feats. Very playful would describe it well, but don't ever think hard work wasn't always a part of it. Unfortunately, if all you did was read his courses, you might easily be led to believe Doug was a "paper-based" lifter and a slave to the predetermined progressions. Far, far from it. From what I can gather after several conversations with these great guys, Doug was really in his natural element on the gym floor. Very loose but determined, very witty, and above all very HAPPY to be there under the bar. I believe a lot of his energy simply didn't translate well to his course write-ups. And remember, he was at a very advanced level of lifting, writing for those who lacked his experience and knowledge of their own lifting situation or of themselves as lifters at the time. Lifters online often agonize and bicker with one another over the "right" way to follow the "Hepburn" method, when in reality Doug was what you might call a "grazer" on the gym floor. From the time he drove up in that huge boat of a car in the early afternoon to the time he left for home in the evening, the lifting was going on. A set or two here, some instruction to a new member over there, another set 20 minutes or so later, a joke or a short classical recitation there, another heavy set half an hour later, some loud singing to annoy the membership, another set, giving advice on the phone and peddling protein powder and gym memberships . . . and on it would go. Some days he would walk on up to another lifter and take a set with whatever weight was on the bar in whatever lift the guy was working at. Then go back to his own "layout" after another rest. Nothing like the interpretation a lot of us have come up with from his courses, and they're damn good courses that'll bring you gains when followed as written. He had all the time in the world to do what he loved, and he took full advantage of it with long rest periods between sets. Both men I spoke with mentioned that they never saw him with a log book or a scrap of paper and a pencil writing and recording what set/rep/weight things he did. It was all in his head . . . and more importantly in his physical intelligence. At that level of lifting, and with his temperament, it was the most fertile environment for his own form of creating progress.

If you've been dropping by this site now and then for the last eight or nine years, by now you must realize that this "temperament" thing Charles Smith and others keep coming back to is an important consideration when figuring out your training approach(es over time). Some will find, at certain times in their always too short lifting lives, that they respond better to a very structured method. Others, or those same lifters at other times, will realize that they make the best gains with a looser, less structured perception of training. The bottom line here is, after enough years under the bar you are going to have to ultimately think for yourself, become very aware of your mind, body and emotional state in order to reap the greatest rewards from your training, and for that matter your diet and the entirety of your own life. YOU are the doctor analyzing and prescribing for your own current condition. You are the lab. If you have the right type of temperament, and if that realization still frightens you or finds you awash in a sea of uncertainty, learn to see the limitless expanse before you, the bright horizon of individuality now within view, and sail away to the lands those who are only able to slavishly follow set by set the routines of others can never know.
Them guys, hell, they're down below . . .
rowing.

The original article continues here . . .

Perhaps it is advisable to indicate just who can gain by Irregular Training, and who will NOT find this method satisfactory. First, it should never under any circumstances be undertaken by a beginner or any lifter lacking enough experience. A man fairly new to lifting or bodybuilding has certain barriers to overcome before he can use this approach to training. Here we are talking in terms of years, not months, before a trainee is ready. He has to first set certain habit patterns. He has to have already obtained basic development of the main muscle groups, gained muscular weight, taught himself muscle coordination and become fully used to handling fairly heavy poundages relative to his ultimate potential. In other words, not only must he prepare himself physically for advancement, he must get his mind used to working for increased strength and muscle size.

Another type of strength athlete (and remember that bodybuilders can at times benefit greatly from strength training when appropriate) who can never gain of benefit from Irregular Training is the methodical, meticulous individual. This man finds it simply impossible to take a workout unless he has a prescribed schedule of exercises, sets, weights and repetitions. If he strays from his customary training path, missed a day in his predetermine workout plan, or uses a "strange" program for any considerable time it upsets his balance, to such an extent it takes him weeks to recover and regain his former condition. If you fall into this category continue training as you have always done. So long as you are following a good plan you will have no need to use a system such as Irregular Training.

Among those reading this article, I am sure there some who feel they have advanced as far in strength and development as their potential will allow. And there are also some who have hitherto made satisfactory gains but have hit a temporary stale period. For these advanced lifters and bodybuilders, Haphazard and Irregular training is the answer to all problems.

Any man who sticks to a routine for a lengthy period reaches a condition when he begins to regard his training as a duty. He still has a certain amount of interest, but his mental attitude gets less and less favorable. He has to force himself to exercise and doesn't enjoy a single workout. And one of the surest ways of snapping out of this slump is to perform exercises and/or lifts that are new, unusual, or have been previously used little by him on rare occasions. Invariably, interest in training will return, and gains in strength and development are made once again. It is at this point he realizes the benefits of Haphazard training.

Here's how Doug Hepburn utilizes this Irregular Training approach.

First, he has no set training days. However, he does get in a minimum of three good workouts each week, sometimes trains for several days with break, and he trains heavily. By heavy training I mean performing basic strength movements such as the squat, bench press, press, dead lift, hang cleans and snatches, high pulls, etc.

Doug has found that if he does not use one or more of these exercises on at least three occasions each week he drops back in all his other poundages. When he resumes use of the basic strength movements, he of course becomes stiff for the first couple of workouts. The specific exercise and length of time not performed also come into the picture here.

I've already mentioned certain basic movements. Training Irregularly means that you take any one of these movements you fancy performing and use it first in the workout, giving it every ounce of your energy. You work-play hard on this exercise, squeezing out the sets and reps until you feel the inclination to go on to another movement. If, however, if there's another lift or exercise which you desire to utilize, then you treat this one in the same manner as indicated above, thoroughly exhausting the muscle group before going on to the rest of the movements, should you chose to do more.

Note: In his first book, Jamie Lewis (https://www.chaosandpain.com/ebooks/)  laid out the creative way he has trained. If you're liking what you've read so far here, check that book out. I think it was the first one, but can't remember. Maybe the first or second one. Possibly somewhere in the first three chapter of one of those two books. I'm pretty certain it was Jamie Lewis and by the way, have I told you what the home gave us for lunch today yet? For the love of god, man, I'm a senior now so cut me some bloody slack! Get off my late wife's pubic hair! I mean my lawn you bastard! Why does it feel so warm and wet now and where was I . . .

The time factor must be considered.

Most men train three times weekly: Mondays . . . Summers . . . . Zen Chocolate Eclairs. The man who is using the Irregular Training approach certainly gets in his minimum three workouts a week, but he keeps to no definite days. For instance, he may train on Monday and then again on Tuesday if he feels so inclined. Then he might not train again until Friday or Saturday, or train several days in a row and then take several days of rest.

Doug trains heavily two days in a row, especially if he feels he didn't get a really good workout on the first day. He thoroughly tires a muscle group or two first, and then makes sure they fully recover before he works them again.

Sometimes Doug will curl for three days in a row, doing every type of barbell and dumbbell curl, cheating and rigid forms, peak contraction curls . . . in other words he goes "curl crazy" for three straight days. Then he doesn't work again for biceps power and development for another week, performing only a few of the basic big movements mentioned above.

On other occasions he'll practice nothing but bench presses Every poundage he will insist on handling by himself, to and from starting position. Sometimes he'll start with light poundages and perform innumerable repetitions and sets before quitting. That's alls I can stands I can't stands no more. Other times he'll perform scores of single reps or sets of two reps with he heaviest poundages it is possible for him to handle on that day.

On still other training sessions he utilizes Standing Presses in the Irregular training approach. He'll start cleaning and pressing, working up in weight, and when it is no longer possible for him to clean the weight he'll take it off of squat racks and press it. When the poundage gets so heavy he finds it hard to keep good pressing form, he will use more of a continental style, and when this gets too difficult he will jerk the weights from the shoulders finishing off with a press-out. At such times he can start cleaning and pressing with 300 pounds and finish up jerk-pressing with around 450.

Doug maintains this style of training is far more interesting and produces greater results to the advanced lifter than any other method. Of course, it can readily be applied to any lift or exercise.

You will also notice that Doug changes the combination of sets and repetitions as much as possible. He will use, say, sets of 15 reps or as low as single reps, changing them as soon as he finds he is beginning to lose interest, or depending on how he feels and what he is striving for at the time.

As a lifter you will have to experiment with your workouts and find out just what suits you, how you react to the various combinations of sets and reps. Solon, the ancient Greek sage said, "Know Thyself" and it would be well for every lifter to strive to do so, for what one man can use with greatest possible benefit, another man will find not the slightest beneficial effect upon him.

Consider this quote from same . . . 

         
As an advanced lifter, it behooves you to consider many of the beginner's laws of lifting in such a way. There it is! After eight-and-a-half years posting these crazy articles I finally managed to work in that most outstanding word . . . BEHOOVES!

Some lifters find that they can use Irregular Training once a year and benefit greatly from it. For  example, take a whole month off from your usual training approach and in that period do nothing but Deep Knee Bends. Or Squats if you're living in this all important one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-repeated, never-happened-before modern day. You realize that, shortly before the fall of the Roman Empire, scribes composed fictitious accounts glorifying the accomplishments of military leaders and politicians, and the people accepted them as truth. Sound familiar? Anyhow, at the end of an intensive month you may be surprised to find you are much stronger and, after a short break-in period, your other lifts have increased as well.

Find out what particular lift you enjoy using more than any other at this time in your lifting evolution. Or determine which lift needs improvement more than any other and go to town on it. Make sure the tank is full before leaving and have a good breakfast beforehand. Full energy stores and a solid diet is what I'm trying to say metaphorically here.

Train whenever you feel like it. Train whenever you feel chock full of energy. Work the muscles until they are thoroughly exhausted and use a big basic movement while the muscle group is recovering.

For instance, if you feel like going on a bench press binge, devote the major portion of your workout to bench presses. Train on them three days in a row if you want an are up to it at this time. As soon as you feel them getting overly difficult to perform or the thought of using them becomes distasteful, take a complete rest-up on them by using squats and curls. When you feel rested enough, hit bench presses again and continue until you have exhausted their possibilities for the time being. Then you can pick another lift to use in this version of the Irregular Training style . . . the snatch, or the hang clean . . . any lift you currently enjoy performing.

This particular approach, when applied at the right time and under the right conditions, will enable you to advance beyond your expectations. It is definitely not an easy way of building up your strength, but it is an excellent specialization method.






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