Note: There were also two other relevant articles in this one issue (Iron Man, May 1999). Unfortunately, I won't be posting them due to possible copyright issues that may potentially arise with the authors. No worries!
The "theme" of this issue was a nutrition-based one, yet it still contained plenty of training info.
Zero to 575 Pounds in Four Years
Fifty-four and getting better describes big bencher George Nelson perfectly. In 1998 the 54-years-young, 275-pound lifter powered up an incredible 575 pounds at the WABDL Southern Regional Bench Press Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
George is having a lot of fun dispelling the myths about aging. He loves to compete with the younger generation - but he's not just competing with them, he's beating most of them. Time seems to make George stronger. In fact, he didn't start lifting until he was 49.
Before he began powerlifting, he was a hard drinking, hard working Oregon logger. As he built a successful logging company, his substance abuse grew, and his life began to get out of control. He eventually found himself in the Betty Ford Clinic, trying to take charge of his addiction.
As fate would have it, there was a small gym at the clinic that had been donated by Elizabeth Taylor. George decided to take advantage of it as part of his program to get his body back to a healthy state, and soon his addiction was no longer a substance but the bench press.
As he exercised, he focused more and more on the bench press portion of his workouts. He could see himself getting stronger and stronger.
When he left the clinic, he hired personal trainer Steve Geaudoin. George liked the fact that Steve had been involved in powerlifting and still competed as a masters lifter - with a 534-pound bench at a bodyweight of 220.
Steve quickly recognized George's potential in the bench press and suggested that he try powerlifting competition. At 49 George got third place at his first event, the '93 USPF Masters. He remembers the excitement of getting ready for his first competition lift. It started with putting on his Inzer bench shirt and wrist wraps. Next, he was doing warmups, and then all of a sudden the announcer said, "The bar is loaded."
Five years later he still feels the same excitement when he puts on his wrist wraps and gets into his Inzer bench shirt for what are now record-breaking lifts. Since that first contest George has averaged an additional 48 pounds a year on his max bench press.
He enjoys going for records in different weight divisions, so he gains and loses weight for competitions. When asked what his short term bench press goal is, he confidently says, "Six hundred pounds." As for his long term goals, one is to keep competing. It's quite apparent that he's having lots of fun with his lifting. At one point he competed in four meets in six weeks, which took a bit of a toll on him. One was the Arnold Classic in March 1998 in Columbus, Ohio. More than 5,000 excited fans watched as Nelson benched 540 at a weight of 250. He's looking to do even better at that event in the future.
George does have a life outside of powerlifting. He only trains two days a week for about two to three hours per session. He works out with a group of about 10 lifters who go by the name of Team Oregon.
He usually handles very heavy weights with the help of a spotter, which gives him the necessary familiarity with handling bigger poundages - heavier than what he could handle on his own.
There's risk to this style of training, but so far he hasn't had an injury. He attributes much of that accomplishment to his Inzer power gear and a mandatory weekly massage.
When it comes to diet, George is meat-and-potatoes guy.
While he has a full head of gray hair, his eyes twinkle like a teenager's when he talks about benching. Why shouldn't he have a twinkle in his eye and a big smile! His Oregon company, Nell-Log Inc., is doing very nicely, and his bench press just keeps getting better. In other words, George Nelson keeps turning back the clock.
Tuesday: 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
He begins with supplemental exercises, varying them from week to week. He uses high reps to get a burn. He uses no supplemental exercises after week 6 in his 9-week cycle.
Weeks 1 through 5
Bench press with spotter's help:
435x10, 505x6, 545x5, 575x3, 615x5, 615x5.
Weeks 6 through 8
Bench press (spotter assist):
440x6, 515x5, 545x1, 565x1, 675x1.
Week 9 (warmup same as meet day)
Tuesday - Bench press:
440x6, 515x5, 565x1 (opener)
Saturday - Bench Press:
415x6, 495x5, 525x1*, 545x1*, 565x1*
*Increase single-lift poundage after week 4.
Lockouts in a power rack as follows, each day:
With pins set one or two inches below full lockout, he loads the bar to 865. He does seven reps with a spotter's help. After the 865 he removes one 45-lb. plate from each side of the bar - to 775 - and lowers the rack pins one hole. He does seven more reps with a spotter's help. He drops two more plates - to 685 - and does seven more reps with a spotter's help. His last set of lockouts is with 595 for 10 reps, again with a spotter's help.
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