Thanks again, Bob!
If I had to pick one question that I have been asked more often than any other, it would be
"How do I get big and strong?"
Size and strength seem to be foremost in all weight trainee's minds. This is the basic reason we all started to lift, so it would seem to be a natural question. When I answer this question, I often get a puzzled look in return. My standard reply is bench press, squat, and deadlift. I do not mean that you should become a powerlifter . . . just use these exercises as the cornerstones of the routines you devise.
Not too many years ago there seemed to be little compatibility between powerlifting and bodybuilding. The powerlifters did their thing and the bodybuilders did theirs. If a powerlifter began using bodybuilding movements or a bodybuilder used power movements, he was usually scorned or ridiculed by his training partners. This type thinking was very narrow, but as they say, "We learn by our mistakes."
I personally feel that the two types of training are not only very compatible, but extremely beneficial. I have always used this type of training in my routines. When I was gaining bodyweight from 240 to 330 pounds, I felt this type of training played a part in the 90 pound bodyweight increase.
As to the results obtained from this type of training, one need only look at the physiques of some top powerlifters. We have always known that the powerlifts could build size. Names such as Mel Hennessy, Jim Williams, Bill Kazmaier and Pat Casey are prime examples of the sheer muscle size that can be built through powerlifting. For a combination of muscle size and quality, powerlifters such as Roger Estep, Ernie Frantz, Jim Cash or Jerry Jones would account for themselves very well in any physique contest. I freely admit that these men use bodybuilding movements in their training, but that training is centered around the three power movements.
You can call this type of training by many different names. I have heard it called Powerbuilding, Power Training, or Power Bodybuilding. Whatever you want to call it, I feel it is very effective. Anyone interested in increasing their size and strength but is having trouble doing so should give this type of training a try. Just about everyone I have advised to use this type of training has experienced increased size and strength.
It may be a little different than your normal workout, and I guarantee you it is going to be tough, but the results will be worth it. What this type of routine does is apply the overload principle. The overload principle states that a muscle grows larger or stronger only when required to perform tasks that place loads on it over and above previous requirements.
Heavy weights and hard work will produce results.
Almost all weight trainers are acquainted with the bench press and have done some squatting or deadlifting during their training. For those of you who have done very little with these movements, proceed with some amount of caution. Make sure you have mastered adequate technique before you start adding weight.
The reason I feel these exercises are so successful in building size and strength is that they work the major muscle groups. Without effecting the large muscle groups in your body, it is very difficult to stimulate growth. I feel there are no better movements than the powerlifts to do this.
Now that we have covered the basics, let's get into the workout itself.
This will be a four-day-a-week program. I would recommend Monday/Tuesday//Thursday/Friday. Of course, you will have to determine which days will best suit your lifestyle. Make sure the days you pick suit this format: Day On/Day On/Day Off/Day On/Day On/Day Off/Day Off. If you have been training quite heavily for the last while, it is advised that you take a few days off before beginning this program.
Chest, shoulders and arms will be worked on one day.
Back and legs will be worked on another.
I would suggest chest etc. on Monday and Thursday; Back and Legs on Tuesday and Friday. A little abdominal work could be done on all four days and would serve as a good warmup.
The main exercises in your workouts will be the bench press, squat, and deadlift. The set/rep scheme will be a 5x5. Let's start by setting up the chest/shoulders/arms day.
Start off with some stretching and flexibility work.
Then do 2 or 3 sets of abdominal work.
1) Bench Press, a few warmups, then 5x5.
2) Flyes, 3 x 10.
1) Seated Press or Seated Press Behind Neck, warmup, then 5x5.
2) Lateral Raises, 3 x 10.
1) Barbell or EZ Curl, warmup, then 5x5.
2) Concentration Curl, 3 x 10.
1) Lying EZ Bar Triceps Extension, warmup, then 5x5.
2) Pushdowns, 3 x 10.
Stretching and flexibility exercises.
2 or 3 sets of abdominal work.
1) Squat, warmup, then 5x5.
2) Leg Extension, 3 x 10.
3) Leg Curl, 3 x 10.
4) Calf Raise, 3 x 15.
1) Deadlift warmup, then 5x5.
2) Pullups, 3 x 8-12.
3) Dumbbell Row or Pulldown, 3 x 10.
You have the workout. Now I will give you some input as to how to use it. First off, picking the weight you will use for your 5x5's takes some planning. Use some common sense. Do not start with a weight that is too light or too heavy. Pick a weight that will allow you to complete all 5 sets with the same weight on your first workout.
As soon as you make the full 5x5 two workouts in a row, add weight. It can be the smallest plates you have in the gym, but add something. You are really going to have to push, and there are going to be days when you will miss. Use some form of safety precaution and be aware of what you are doing at all times. Don't drift off and don't take a single rep for granted.
The backup exercises may be varied for whatever reason. Some individuals have trouble with certain movements, so do not be afraid to switch if you feel the need. Add weight to these exercises as you can, but most likely the increases will not be as regular as those on the base exercises will be. If you need variety as some people do, you may switch these exercises for that effect.
During the course of your workouts you will encounter many problems such as injuries, illness or forced layoffs. Whenever any of these occur, don't be afraid to drop back in weight.
NO ONE MAKES CONTINUAL PROGRESS. You will have your ups and downs and you should be intelligent enough to adjust for them. Your general pattern should be upward, but you will have some valleys.
Give this type of workout an honest try. Stick with it for three or four months, then reevaluate your progress. I feel you will definitely be pleased with your increases in size and strength.
Remember to follow these rules:
1) Be consistent. Don't miss workouts unless absolutely necessary.
2) Train hard and add weight to the bar.
3) Be intelligent enough to make adjustments when necessary.
4) Keep accurate records.
5) Get enough rest.
6) Follow good dietary habits.