Saturday, January 19, 2019

Isolation Exercise for Higher Biceps

Isolation Exercise for Higher Biceps
by Bruce Page

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed


Torsos may come and torsos may go, but arms remain supreme. This statement is a proven fact, for time without number the most popular physique star is the one with the most impressive arm development. When enthusiasts gather at a contest or at a strength show, what single part of the contestant is scrutinized most by the viewers? 

The arms, of course! 

A contestant may be lacking a little in his chest, shoulders or legs, but so long as his arms are right up to par, he is right in there. If a group of bodybuilders get together for a discussion, most invariably the topic of conversation and comparisons of development will mostly concern the arms.

Obviously when we speak of arms it takes in a great deal of territory, for the arms consist of many muscle groups within our biceps and triceps. But in this article I would like to dwell on the biceps only. The big reason for this is the many requests I have received in the gym for information and exercises which will aid in bringing out a greater degree of height and formations to biceps which appear flat and shapeless.

This condition appears to be more prevalent today than at any other stage in weight training and for bodybuilders it can be most perplexing. With photos appearing appearing in the magazines of fellows with high, well rounded biceps to match the sweeping curve of the triceps, producing a well-shaped, sizable upper arm, the trainee who lacks this biceps with development is rather harassed as to how to remedy his problem. Hence this article. 

First there is one thing to keep in mind . . . 

A high, pointed-appearing biceps is just the opposite to a flat underdeveloped biceps and neither one is an asset to your physique. In other words, do not carry isolation training to extremes and until the biceps take on a pointed appearance. What you are striving for is a well rounded, thick biceps with enough height to give the arm a look of complete development. 

If you glance back at the men who have been Mr. America or Mr. Universe, Mr. USA or any of the top physique men in the world, I don't think you could find one with grotesque biceps completely out of harmony with the rest of the upper arm, nor will you find any flat-appearing biceps either. These men have trained properly and built their arms as well as the rest of their fine physiques with with a god deal of common sense behind their training. 

Heavy barbell and dumbbell exercises are immediately associated with building bulk, so automatically we have to do the reverse of this in order to achieve separation and height. In order to do isolation exercises one factor must be positively understood and that is that there can be absolutely no extra body movement involved. 

The muscles being worked must do all the work and the concentration intensified. Swinging the bar or dumbbells will be an absolute waste of time and energy. In the first place, the exercises are performed at a slower pace and consequently a heavier weight could not be used without excess body motion. However, reasonably substantial poundages can be utilized with very good results. Remember, you are not building size when isolating for high biceps, you are attempting to bring the muscle up or to draw it out, so to speak. Bulk building is something else again; therefore, heavy poundages are not necessary at this time.

I have found through experience that dumbbell training is best in this instance, although there are a few variations of barbell curling which prove beneficial.

Before embarking upon a program to heighten your biceps, assure yourself that you need such a program. If you already possess a reasonably high biceps combined with thickness then a program of less severity is recommended. This type of schedule is for those who suffer greatly in this department and are in need of something a little different and out of the ordinary to remedy their condition. 

I will now describe some barbell and dumbbell exercises which you might like to give a try, and if you do I'm sure you will be more than pleased with the results obtained. A note of importance before listing the exercises: In isolation work for higher biceps it is more important to utilize good performance and body movement must be held to a minimum. It is better to sacrifice weight for good, proper muscle action to attain best results. 

And now for the exercises. 

Dumbbell Bent Over Biceps Curl - 

Bend over until your upper body is parallel with the floor. Your elbow and triceps lie against the inside of the thigh with the elbow just above the knee joint. Curl toward the chest. 

Dumbbell Curl, Elbow on Knee - 

Sit on a low bench (12-18 inches high), place the elbow just behind the knee cap and hold it in place with the thumb and first finger of the other hand. Allow the arm to extend to its full length and then curl back to the starting position.

Dumbbell Curl Off Low Bench - 

Using a low bench and a weight in each hand, start with the bells resting on the floor at your sides. Beginning with arms straight, curl to your shoulders.

Bentover Barbell Curl - 

Bend over to a position parallel to the floor. Take a close grip on the bar, hands about 3-4 inches apart. Curl with as little body motion as possible, to the chin.

Barbell Curl Off Knee - 

Performed in the same manner as the dumbbell curl, elbow on knee. 

Barbell Curl with Elbows Between Knees - 

Use a low bench. Take a close grip on the bar, same grip as for the bentover barbell curl, and from your seated position your arms will be between your legs, which will be fanned out somewhat to allow for the curling action. Curl with as little body motion as possible. 

These movements are designed to keep body movement to a minimum. You can, of course, cheat on them if you wish, but as I stated previously, your best isolation action for high biceps comes with a strict performance. 

Some of the above movements can be included in your workouts with changes being made from time to time. Do not make a full time workout of these exercises, but merely add one or two to your regular arm routine and take the time to work and concentrate properly on them. I might suggest that you work the arms last and at the completion of your regular arm routine make a special time for isolation work. If you feel that the biceps might be too tired to do the workout justice by this time, then cut your regular arm work down a little, retaining some energy for the isolation work.

Remember too that some fellows have a naturally high biceps formation which gives them a reasonably high biceps with very little extra specializing to achieve or retain it. But if you are among the less fortunate and have the flat type biceps, then the above exercises properly and sensibly applied will bring gratifying results. 

You will find it necessary to make changes to your arm routines from time to time in order to insure the muscles of a change and to work them from various angles. This will also help to ward off boredom and help you to train more efficiently. Your entire upper arm will take on a much shapelier appearance once you have attained more height in the biceps and a greater, fuller arm development will be yours.   

More Questions & Answers, Part Two - John McCallum

First Published in This Issue (June 1970) 

There are two questions which are frequently asked and which relate directly to each other. Both questions are important and the answers to them are vital to your bodybuilding success. The first of the two questions is:

Q: Just how important is nutrition? Strength & Health keeps stressing the necessity of an adequate diet, yet I've heard of good bodies being developed on an average diet. Is nutrition as vital as it's made out to be? 

A: Yes. Nutrition is every bit as vital as it's made out to be, and then some. In actual fact, your chances of bodybuilding success without a proper nutrition program are just about nil.

There are three logical replies to these stories we hear of good bodies being developed on an average diet. The first and most obvious reply, of course, is to ask if the diet was really all that average. Some men like to create the impression they're not really trying too hard. They like you to think they'd be even more tremendous if they really tried. 

I have a friend who developed an absolutely herculean body with weights and then went into professional wrestling. He claims he pays no attention to his diet at all. He eats, he says, the same as everyone else. What he doesn't mention, though, is that his supper consists of a chunk of rare steak, two inches thick and about a foot square. He also goes through four quarts of milk and a dozen eggs per day. His diet, whatever else it may be, is definitely not average. 

The second reply is simply that some men are easy gainers. They grow muscle on practically anything. If your gains come easy enough, then perhaps you can ignore sound nutrition. If your gains don't come easy, though, and for most of us they don't, then sound nutrition is essential.

The third reply, and it's odd that no one thinks of it, is that the fellow who grows a good body on an average diet would probably be a lot better on a proper diet. That's a difficult point to prove, of course, but all the indications are that it's correct. We continually hear stories of muscle men who don't train hard, or who don't eat properly, or who smoke four packs of cigarettes a day. These stories, even if they're true, don't prove a thing. Weight training is a tremendous stimulus to the body. It's far and away the best method of building muscle. Weights will accomplish miracles even if they're not too well applied. The muscle men in question may look good, but they'd look infinitely better if they quit fooling around and paid attention to the rules.

Nutrition is of the utmost importance. Some authorities even go so far as to claim it's more important than the exercise. In any event, it's vital to your success. Find out more about proper bodybuilding nutrition, apply it, and reap the benefits.

Q: I do my best to eat an adequate supply of proteins, minerals, vitamins, etc. My financial position, however, isn't exactly the greatest, and I am also extremely pressed for time. Is there any food I can take that is convenient and economical that will increase my nutrition level? 

A: Yes, there definitely is. My Uncle Harry has a concoction he calls "souped up soup." It's convenient, economical, easy to make, easy to take, and contains enough food elements to make all the difference in your progress.

I was over at my Uncle Harry's apartment a few days ago. He was standing in front of the stove with a big white apron wrapped around him and stirring vigorously at some sauce that was simmering in a pot. 

"Well, well," I said. "The galloping gourmet. This is quite an honor."

He waved a hand modestly. "Just a little hollandaise for the asparagus tips." 

He had on a York Barbell Club T-shirt that strained at the seams every time he moved. 

"Tremendous," I said. "What are you having with it?" 

"Nothing special," he said. "Any old thing to keep body and soul together." 

"Like what?" 

He coughed. "Beef tenderloin flamed in brandy." 

"Uncle Harry," I said. "You really let it all hang out for those teeny-boppers, don't you?" 

"Not really," he said. "You gotta eat." 

"You put a lot of faith in nutrition, don't you?" 

"Absolutely," he said. It's the greatest." 

"Do you really think it helps your progress?"

"No doubt about it," he said. "Creamed vichyssoise [cold leek and potato soup], candles, a little Beau Sejour, perhaps a . . ."

"Just a minute," I said. "That's not the kind of progress I'm talking about. I mean bodybuilding progress." 

"Oh, that," he said. "Sure, it's essential for that, too." 

"How 'bout an unrelated book recommendation?" said My Name is Nobody.

"Shut up and get outta my house!" threatened Uncle Harry. And away the man went.

"You know, Uncle Harry," I said. "I just read an article by Bill Starr. He says that a lifter should reduce his sexual activity at times."

"Wonderful idea," Uncle Harry said. "For Bill Starr." He took two wine goblets out of the cupboard and opened the fridge door. "Almost forgot to chill the glasses," he said.

"Listen, Uncle Harry," I said. "I was going to write something on nutrition for Strength & Health. Do you mind if I tell about your soup?"

"My souped-up soup?" he said.

"Yeah,"your souped up soup," I said.

"Not a bit," he said. "Be my guest." He took a full bottle of light rum out of a drawer and twisted it at the top. "Mona likes daiquiris," he said.

"You don't drink that stuff, do you?" I asked him.

"Heavens, no," he said. "It affects the liver." He leered at me. "And the prowess."

One of the most practical, economical, and convenient methods of supplementing your diet is by adding soup to your meals. Not soup out of a can, and not the usual watery, home-made slop, but soup with a difference - souped-up soup. Properly made soup, in sufficient quantity, can be a big help in your bulking program. You can add pounds of good solid weight if you know the secrets.

The first secret of soup is to use good stock in making it. Soup stock, in case you don't know, is a liquid or jelly that you use instead of water to make homemade soup.

Souped-up soup stock is economical because it's made almost entirely with leftovers. From now on, don't throw any food away. Save all the vegetable parings and trimmings and bits and pieces that normally go into the garbage can. There's enough nutrition to turn a hat rack into a Hercules in the food that gets thrown out of the average house. Save it all. Get a plastic bag and put all the vegetable scraps into it and keep it in the fridge. Every time the bag gets full - make soup.

The next item for the stock is bones and meat scraps. You can even use scraps off the plate. It may seem somewhat unaesthetic, but it's perfectly all right. The bones and scraps will be boiled for several hours so they'll be as sterile as a surgeon's scalpel. Save all the bones and scraps and keep them in the freezer compartment of the fridge.   

Just using scraps which are normally thrown out can make a big difference at no cost to your nutrition program. If you really want to soup up your diet, however, you'll have to go a step or two further.

If you want to take in a really big load of vitamins and minerals, you'll have to figure on having soup at least once a day. Incidentally, you eat it with your meals, not instead of them. It's unlikely you'll accumulate that many scraps, so the next thing to do is buy bones from the butcher. Actually, they cost next to nothing anyway.

The amount of nutrition you'll get from the bones and scraps is in direct proportion to the amount of surface area exposed to the water. The thing to do, therefore, is to chop the bones and scraps as finely as possible. Get a cleaver or a hatchet and hack everything up into tiny pieces.

Put about two quarts of water into as large a pot as you can find and dump in the finely chopped bones, scraps, and vegetable parings. You should have enough bones and scraps to fill the pot to at least the level of the water.

Next add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a spoonful of salt. The salt and vinegar are essential to draw the calcium out of the bones and the elements out of the vegetables. The vinegar will boil away, so there won't be any smell of it when the stock is ready.

Now put a lid on the pot and boil it slowly for about four hours. At the end of that time all the nourishment that used to be in the bones and scraps will be in the water.

Next, you pour the whole works through a fine strainer or a piece of cheesecloth. The bones and scraps which will be strained out can now be thrown away because there's nothing left in them. Save the clear liquid. That's the soup stock, and it's just about the richest pot of water from a nutritional standpoint that you're ever likely to come across. We don't have the space to go into all the details, and you're probably not that interested anyway, but you can take it as a fact that the stock you've prepared is absolutely saturated with all the minerals and vitamins in an easily assimilated form. If you just drank the water as it now stands you'd probably triple your normal vitamin-mineral intake.

The next thing to do is to use the stock for making soup. Put the stock in a clean pot and chop in some onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic if you like it, turnips, or any other vegetable that appeals to you. Add salt, pepper, and a little bay leaf, thyme, basil, or whatever you prefer.

Simmer the vegetables until they start to soften, and then add about three pounds of chicken wings, short ribs, stewing beef, or any kind of meat you happen to like. Continue simmering the whole thing until the meat is tender.

Next, take about two cups of water and dissolve as much skim milk powder into it as will go into solution. Stir this into the soup. Let it simmer for another five minutes and then drop in a pound of ground meat. The meat will cook almost instantly.

If you want to supplement the soup even further, you can mix up some Hi-Proteen with water and add it to the soup. It ups the cost a bit but it's well worth it.

We're running out of space again. Don't forget that the soup is an addition to your normal diet. Keep taking all the supplements and your regular meals. Make the soup an extra, and you're practically guaranteed some nice weight gains.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

More Questions & Answers - John McCallum

Originally Published in This Issue (May 1970)

Ollie came over the other night to get me to have a beer with him.

"Can't," I said ."I'm trying to answer a batch of letters." 

"How many you got to go?" he asked me.

"How many?" I said. "About two hundred, that's how many." 

"Good grief," he groaned. "You'll never make it." 

"I'll try," I said.

"How come you got so many letters?" 

"I invited them," I said. "I mentioned in a 'Keys' article that I'd try to help anyone with a special problem. Only I didn't expect so bloody many. I'm running about three months behind on them."

"Listen," Ollie said, "you're going about it the wrong way." 

"Am I?" I asked him. "That's awfully decent of you to tell me." 

"Think nothing of it," he said. "You need me for a business agent. He paused a moment. "Look," he said. "How many bodybuilders are there in the world?" 

"Three million," I said. "Three million, four hundred and sixty two thousand, eight hundred and seventeen." 

Ollie blinked. "Really?"

"How the heck would I know how many bodybuilders there are?" I snarled at him. "And what difference does it make anyway?" 

"Listen," Ollie said. "There's a lot of bodybuilders, eh?" 

"Sure, sure," I said. "Rapidly growing sport and all. So what?" 

"So this," Ollie said. "A problem that's bothering one guy is probably bothering hundreds of others as well." 

"That's nice," I told him. "But how does it affect me?" 

"Simple," Ollie said. "You just group questions together that are related, and answer them in Strength & Health."

I glared at him. "Ollie, you idiot, I did that six months ago." 


"Fine," he said. "Do it again. If people want questions answered, answer them in style." 

"You really think it would be of value" I asked him.

"Certainly," he said. "If the advice is any good, everyone might as well get it. No telling how many it would help." 

"What would I call it?" 

He thought it over. "Well," he said. "You might call it advice to the lovelorn." 

"Sure," I said. "Or 'Dear Abby'." 

"Right," he said. "You could change your name to Loretta Pinkpants or something. It'd be sensational." 

"Okay," I agreed. "Gimme a hand grouping some letters." 

"Right," he said. "And then we'll go out for a beer." 

One question that a lot of guys ask is: 

Q: I train my midsection daily. My waist is hard and muscular. There's no fat on it, yet it measures 34". How do the fellows in the muscle magazines keep their waistlines down to 30"? 

A: They don't. At least, most of them don't. They lie about it instead.

People lie about a lot of things. Some people lie about their fuel bill and their gas mileage. Most people lie about their income tax. Everyone lies about their love life. Bodybuilders, unfortunately, lie about their measurements. 

The cold, hard fact of the matter is that very, very few top bodybuilders have 30" waists. And, unless you're a rather small person, the chances are that you won't either. If you're a normal size man, you'd be wasting your time and energy trying to get your gut down to 30:. Actually, you'll do more damage to your appearance than you'd gain. 

A good friend of mine once asked me the secret of waistline reduction

"There's no secret," I told him. "It's just a matter of exercise and diet." 

"I'm gonna have to get at it," he said. "Gotta whip off a couple of inches." 

"What are you talking about?" I said. "You're in terrific shape now. You don't need anything off your waist." 

"It's too big" 

"What does it measure?" I asked him.


"How small do you want it?" 

He patted his stomach. "About thirty." 

"You'll never make it," I told him. "You got too much muscle there." 

"That's what a lot of the big names measure."

"No, they don't," I said. "Somebody just claims it for them." 

"Well I'm gonna try, anyway," he said. "I know I can do it." 

He came around a couple months later. His clothing hung on him and he had big dark circles under both eyes.

"You look like you been hit by a gravel truck. What happened?" 

"I been specializing on my gut," he told me. "And dieting." 

"Oh yeah," I said. "I'd forgotten. Did you get it down to thirty?" 

He shook his head. "Thirty-two." 

"Well, that's more than I expected," I said. "It came down an inch, eh?" 

He nodded. "So did my arms and legs, and my chest came down five." 

Let's take a quick look at the midsection. You got the abdominal wall on the front, the external obliques at each side, and the spinal erectors at the back. The important thing to remember is that the tape's gotta go around the whole gig unless you bore a hole through your middle. If you develop your front, sides, and back like you should, then your waist has got to measure more than an undeveloped one.

Suppose, for example, that you're of a decent height and rather skinny to start. Your waist, correctly measured, would go about 30" or so.

Now, let's suppose that you're lucky enough to hear about weight training and wise enough to do it. A year or two of sensible training will alter your appearance drastically. All your muscles will be tremendously developed from when you started, but that also includes the muscles that strap your gut.

If you've done the proper amount of dead lifts and cleans and so on, you'll have a nice set of spinal erectors that'll add impressive depth to your back and an inch or more to your waist measurement. Your obliques will have thickened a bit to give you that herculean look. Unfortunately, they'll also add another inch or thereabouts to your waist. Finally, your abdominal muscles will have shaped up into a thick, impregnable washboard that'll require another inch or so of tape.

Your original 30" waistline will now measure at least 33" without an ounce of fat on it. It'll have increased about three inches. The thing to remember, though, is that it'll look smaller because your chest will have increased about a foot. In fact, you'll now be in the fortunate position of being able to claim a 30" waist and make all the other bodybuilders jealous because their waists measure 33".

The thing to consider is how do you go about getting your waist as small as possible without hurting your other measurements or reducing your strength in the process. The routine you should follow will depend on whether your waist is fat or muscular.

If your waist is fat, your course is pretty straightforward. You won't need to worry about thickening your waist with muscle. All the muscle you'll ever develop won't measure anything near what a thick layer of lard will.

If your waist is fat, you should figure on working it pretty hard. A half an hour per day isn't too much. If you're really sincere about training your gut, try the following on a daily basis:

Incline situp: 3 x 50 superset with
Seated twist: 3 x 100

Cuddle situp: 3 x 25 superset with
Side bend: 3 x 50

Leg raise: 3 x 50 superset with
Bent forward twist: 3 x 100.

Include some work for the rest of your body about three times per week, and get in at least three sessions per week of jogging.

You should keep a diet of about 1,500 calories per day. Eat mostly protein, take supplements, and stick to it until your waist is hard and your whole body is free from fat.

If your waist is hard, but you still think it is too big, try the following:

Start by giving it a good think. Make sure your waist is really large and that you're not just being influenced by someone else's dishonest measurements. If your waistline is hard and muscular it would be most unwise of you to try to reduce it very much. If nature gave you a thick abdominal structure, you're way better off just to accept it and attempt to perfect it. The Farnese Hercules has a lot thicker waist than Apollo, but he looks just as good.

If you must have your gut a bit smaller, then lay off side bends, bent presses, one-arm military presses, or any other exercise that activates the obliques. Cut out squats, cleans, and dead lifts. Substitute front squats and prone hyperextensions. Don't do any heavy abdominal exercise. Use one set of situps only in reps of 100 or more each workout.

You should also work in some jogging. Get in three or four sessions of five miles per week. Watch your diet carefully. You don't need to count calories, but stick to salads and proteins and take all the appropriate supplements.

Your appearance and ability depend on a variety of things more important than a 30" waistline. Don't worry too much about it. Live the strength and health life. Train hard, eat well, and be cheerful. Develop your body - all of it - to the maximum you are capable of. Build your gut into a wall of armor plate. In the final analysis it's a heck of a lot more important than how much tape it takes to go around it. 




Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Quick Lifts, Start Here - Bill Starr

I've written articles on how to snatch, clean and jerk. By following the presentation, any athlete who is interested in the Olympic lifts can learn how to do them. I realize many athletes are tentative in trying these high-skill, explosive movements on their own, but they can still be done quite successfully. 

That's exactly how everyone who wanted to participate in the sport of Olympic weightlifting learned how to do the contested lifts when I got bitten by the iron bug. In the '50s, there were no videos, clinics, books, and very few articles available for beginners wanting to do the quick lifts. On occasion, Lifting News and Strength & Health carried an article dealing with some aspect of technique on the press, snatch, and clean and jerk, but they were always aimed at the more experienced strength athletes and not rank beginners.

In addition, the number of capable coaches in the country could be counted on one hand, minus the thumb, and if an athlete didn't live close to one of these rare animals, he was out of luck. So aspiring strongmen had to teach themselves how to perform the lifts. 

Train With the Best

In my case, I learned how to press, snatch, and clean and jerk by studying photos in Strength & Health and attempting to emulate what I saw on the pages. As could be expected, progress came slowly, but in many ways it worked out better in the long run because I had to figure out every small aspect of not only the technique on the lifts, but also how to assemble a program to help me get stronger at the same time. When you're told how to do something, it has much less impact than when you've learned it on your own. And you certainly remember it much much longer. With no one to tell me whether I was doing a movement right or wrong, I learned from my mistakes, and it just so happens that mistakes are more readily recalled than successes. 

The fact that gains came slowly was also a point in my favor. The small increases allowed all the groups in my body to improve at a more natural pace. Nothing moved too far ahead of another, so I did not encounter a lot of weak links along the way. 

I cut my teeth on the Olympic lifts while I was in the Air Force, stationed in Iceland. As soon as I got back to the U.S. and began training at the Wichita Falls, Texas, YMCA, I went to the first meet I could find. This helped me immensely. Not only did I begin to understand the many variances involved in actually being a part of a contest, but I also tested my training program. I also closely observed the more experienced lifters during their warmups and on the platform. I would stand off to the side of the platform and study the more proficient lifters' moves, from the way they handled the chalk to how they would mentally set themselves prior to stepping up to the bar. How they set their hips, their head positions, how they placed their feet, where they gripped the bar - every tiny detail became etched in my mind, and I carried this information back to the Y weight room and practiced what I had seen. Often, I would pretend that I was an accomplished lifter. In that manner, my form began to improve. It was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it became good enough for me to win a few medals, which was my primary goal at that stage of my lifting career.       

My situation wasn't unique. On the contrary, it was the norm for that point in time. Every lifter I met had a similar story, with the exception of Bob Bednarski, who was fortunate enough to have a coach, Joe Mills, when he first started, and Bobby Hise had his father, one of the very best in the country. The rest of us were on our own, and from that group came the national, world and Olympic champions, proving that if a person is serious about excelling in this sport, he can do so through lots of hard work. 

Whenever possible, I trained with a group of Olympic weightlifters. Chicago was great for that because there were so many YMCAs in that city, and all had weight rooms. Irving Park was especially enjoyable for me, a mere neophyte, because national champions Fred Schultz and Clyde Emrich trained there. When I lived in Indiana, I would drive to a town where some lifter trained and take a workout in his facility. When I arrived in York in the mid-60s, I didn't have to go looking for a gym with other lifters any longer because the best in the country trained at the Ridge Avenue Gym. 

My point: while you're trying to learn the fundamentals of the Olympic lifts and how to adjust your program to fit your special needs, find out where other lifters train. Contact them and ask them when they train. No need to ask if you are welcome. Any fellow Olympic lifter, regardless of level of proficiency, is always met with open arms at an Olympic training facility. It may require a long drive, but it will be worth it. Many of those who showed up on Saturdays at the York Gym traveled over two hours, yet they didn't mind the journey because they always left in high spirits from having a great session in the supercharged atmosphere.  

Also, take advantage of the many instructional videos and clinics out there. IronMind enterprises has a long list of excellent videos of the best Olympic weightlifters in the world going through their paces in the training halls prior to the world championships. These are very instructional because you get to see perfect technique, and they are also inspiring and highly motivational. Check them out here:

Use any resource available to aid your cause. Keep this in mind: Olympic weightlifting is an individual sport. Even if you have the luxury of a good coach, when you step out on that platform, you're on your own. That's one of the aspects of the sport I appreciated the most. When I failed, I had no one to blame but myself and, conversely, when I did well, I knew it was due to my own efforts and not a result of someone else's exertion. So whether you achieve any degree of success in Olympic lifting is strictly a matter of how badly you want it.   

Preparing to Lift

I know that even when someone is anxious to try these complicated lifts, he's not sure how to go about assembling a program built around them. I receive lots of letters from those just getting their feet wet in the sport, and their questions bring back memories. Whatever they're asking me about, I was asking myself the same questions during my formative years. Where should the quick lifts be placed in the program? How often should the lifts be done each week? Should I concentrate on form more than strength? Or vice versa? How many exercises should be in a daily routine? Should I limit out or stay light and try to increase my workload? How many days a week should I train? And so on and so forth. When you're strictly on your own, it often feels like learning how to swim just by jumping in a pond. 

I am presenting two programs aimed at those wanting to give the Olympic lifts a shot. The first is a three-days-a-week routine for those who are unable to train more often. The second covers four days a week in the event the athlete has more time. The underlying theme for both is SIMPLICITY: basic exercise done over and over so as to enhance technique and expand the workload. There are no specific movements for some part of an exercise. Not yet. That will come later. In the beginning, but two goals exist: 

 - improving technique, and 
 - getting stronger overall. 

Whichever program you choose, in order to get results you must work to your fullest at every session and, most importantly, never miss a workout. If, for whatever reason, you have to skip a planned session, make it up the next day or sometime during that week. Nothing is as critical to success in the early stages as consistency.  

I want to briefly review the main points about the snatch and clean and jerk. If you can do an overhead squat and power snatch, you can do full snatches. If you're able to rack a bar correctly across your frontal deltoids when doing a power clean and can do a front squat, then you have the flexibility to do full cleans. The ability to hold the bar overhead during a full squat reveals that you can do jerks without any trouble. 

Shoulder flexibility is absolutely essential to the Olympic lifts, so time must be spent ensuring that this attribute is sustained or, better yet, improved. To stretch out the shoulders for snatches and jerks, hold a broomstick or rolled up towel over your head. Lock your elbows and rotate the broomstick back over your head as far as possible. Don't merely hold the broomstick, try and pull it apart. When that range of motion increases, shorten your grip and repeat the process. Do this ("dislocates") prior to every workout (even if snatches and jerks aren't on your program), again during the workout, and more at night. Once you've achieved the flexibility you're seeking, don't take it for granted. Stay on top of the discipline and you'll be a step ahead.

The wrists and elbows encounter a great deal of stress on power cleans, full cleans, and jerks, so them must be given attention as well. Plus, the shoulders too have to be loosened to accommodate the new requirements being placed upon them. When I hear of someone hurting his wrist or elbow or shoulder while doing something as basic as a power clean, I know for certain that he did not take sufficient time to stretch out those joints. Those who do not want to be bothered with the stretching movements end up paying the price for their laziness. 

To prepare the shoulders, elbows and joints for the act of racking a bar across the front of the shoulder girdle, do this: 

Fix a bar at shoulder height inside a power rack. Lock it in place so it cannot move. If this isn't possible or you don't have a power rack available, load up a bar with a few hundred more pounds than you can possibly move. Start by using one arm at a time. Grip the bar firmly and, while keeping our torso perfectly erect, elevate your elbow upward as high as you can, then hold it there for a five-six count. Do the same for your other arm. Do a couple of sets until you start to feel the joints relaxing a bit. Now grip the bar with both hands and elevate both your elbows at the same time. Stretch them upward as high as you can stand it and and hold for a five-six count. This latter stretch is much more effective when a training partner applies pressure to your elbows. He will be able to elevate them higher than you can by yourself. Do as many sets as you need to do so that you can fix the bar across your frontal deltoids comfortably.

You can loosen your wrists simply by flexing them down and back using your other hand. However, I believe it's beneficial to tape your wrists even when you think they are strong enough and quite flexible. They take a great amount of punishment during jerks, front squats and heavy cleans - even more so when an attempt is missed - so an ounce of prevention pays off for those small joints. When one gets dinged, it takes a very long time to bring it back to full strength. Wrap the wrists with trainer's tape before any session where you plan to snatch, clean or jerk to stay on the safe side. You need to tape them tightly enough to give support and stability to the joint, but not so snugly that the tape impedes circulation to your hands. A good way to do this is to flex your fingers as your laying on the tape. In the event that the tape is too tight or not tight enough, remove it and start over.

In order to do these suggested programs, you will need pulling straps, a lifting belt and bumper plates. Straps are available from a number of distributors, but the best can be made from seat belts. Cut them out of the back seat of an old car, then throw them in a washing machine a dozen or more times until they're nice and soft. These you need for the high pulls and shrugs. The belt can be an inexpensive model found in any sporting goods store. Contrary to what many assume, a belt will not save you from being injured if you do something really stupid. What it does do is keep your lower back warm during the execution of an exercise  such as the squat and provides you with feedback as well, such as telling you that you're leaning too far forward on the front squat or too far backward on the overhead presses.

Although you can certainly do all the exercises in the programs I'm presenting using metal plates, life is much easier when rubber bumper plates are used for the Olympic lifts. Missed attempts are inevitable, and the bumps do a lot less damage to the bar and platform than metal plates. They are not cheap but will last a lifetime unless they're abused. I'm using a set that was discarded 20 years ago, and the plates serve me well by protecting the floor of my apartment.

Before touching a bar at each session, you need to do some warmups: one exercise for your abs and one for your lower body to get the core groups ready for the upcoming stress that will be placed upon them. Crunches, situps and leg raises fill the bill for the abs, while back hyperextensions or reverse hypers work nicely for the lumbers - one very high rep set and you're ready to hit the weights. 

Bill Starr's Beginning Oly Programs

First, the three-days-a-week routine. It's broken down into A and B weeks, which are done on alternate weeks. Do the exercises in the order they are listed.

Week A
Power cleans and front squats
Clean and jerks
Clean high pulls
Back squats

Front squats
Good mornings
Steep inclines
Calf raises.

Power snatches and overhead squats
Full snatches
Overhead presses
Back squats
Shrugs with snatch grip.

Week B
Power snatches and overhead squats
Full snatches
Snatch high pulls
Back squats

Same as Wednesday Week A

Power cleans and front squats
Full cleans
Jerks from the rack
Back squats
Shrugs with a clean grip.  

The changes in the two programs are minor. The primary difference is that the cleans and snatches switch places every other week so that one gets the priority spot twice a month. This helps to keep the two lifts in balance. However, should you find that one of those lifts is lagging far behind the other, keep the weaker one on Mondays until it improves. 

I'll go through the various exercises in detail and add in sets and reps. The first exercise on Monday and Friday is merely a warmup for the next one on the list. Power clean a light weight 5 times, and after each clean front-squat it and finish off with 1 jerk. Power-snatch a weight, then follow that with an overhead squat for 5 reps. 3 sets for both of these movements will suffice.

I've had some athletes who preferred doing the Drill instead of the exercises I just described. For those who have read Learning How to Do Full Cleans
and Learning How to Do Full Snatches
they know the Drill for the snatch consists of a power snatch followed by an overhead squat, a hang snatch going into a deep bottom position, and finally a full squat snatch. For the clean, the sequence is power clean plus front squat, hang clean and full clean. The Drill works just as well as the exercises in this program, so it a matter of preference.

Move right into the full cleans and jerks. Do 3 consecutive cleans, then jerk the weight twice. Go as heavy as you can just so long as you maintain good form. When technique begins to break down, you need to either stop for the day or lower the poundages. Hammering away using sloppy form is counterproductive. If your form is way off, move right into the high pulls. 6 sets of 3 will provide you with plenty of work on the clean with 2 jerks on each set. 3 sets of 3 for the high pulls. On your final set of high pulls (for both the cleans and snatches), try to use 50 more pounds than you handled in the full movement. The reason behind doing the high pulls is to overload those muscles involved in snatching and cleaning, but in order for this to happen your form has to be perfect. High pulls are really no more than deadlifts followed by shrugs, but if the transition from one to the other is not blended smoothly the bar will ot jump at the finish. Use straps for high pulls.

Back squats need to be done with the bar set high on your traps and not low on the back as many powerlifters prefer. You can't lean at all on the back squats if you want the power gained to be utilized in the clean and snatch. On Monday, do 5 sets of 5 and work to max. On Friday, use this formula:3 x 5, the 2 x 3 reps. The final set on Friday should be 5-10 lbs. heavier than your final set of 5 on Monday. The next Monday will find you using the same weigh from your last set of 3 on Friday, but you'll do 5 reps with it. In that manner, the numbers will steadily climb upward on your back squat.

For dips, do 4 sets of as many as you can do. When you're able to do all 4 sets for 20, start adding weight and cut your reps back to 8s, 5s and 3s done on consecutive weeks.

Do 6 sets of 3 on the front squats and take them to limit every week. Good mornings are done every week because the lower back is the cornerstone of strength. Your goal is to handle 50% of what you're squatting for 10 reps in the good morning. If you obtain this ration early on, keeping it is rather easy. But if you do not work the good mornings diligently from the beginning, catching up is a bitch. Alternate the sets and reps every other week using these two formulas: 4 sets of 10 and 5 sets of 8. Use a bit more for the 8s. While the variance is small, it makes a difference in the two workouts. I'm not sure why, but it does.

Do inclines on as steep an angle as you can manage. I know some incline benches do not afford much flexibility in this manner, so do the best you can. The higher angle will hit many more groups that are part of the Olympic lifts than a lower one. The frontal deltoids, higher portion of the chest and triceps get lots of work on these. Alternate these two set and rep sequences every other week: 5 x 5 reps and 3 x 5 reps plus 3 x 3 reps. Try to move the numbers up every week, and when you feel that you can handle it, add in a back-off set of 8 or 10. Superset chins and calf raises - 3 sets of as many as you can do on the chins, and 3 x 30 reps for the calves.

After the warmups of power snatches and overhead squats, or the Drill, do 6 sets of 3 on the full snatches. When this exercise falls on Monday, you'll come in behind the full movement with snatch grip high pulls because you'll be doing shrugs instead. Use straps on the high pulls and shrugs shrugs. Load up the bar for shrugs and pull every set just as high as you can. Think in terms of shrugging over 500 lbs. with the clean grip and over 400 with the wider snatch grip.

Overhead presses also need to be worked hard and heavy. Here's a routine that will help you increase your presses: 3 sets of 5 as warmups, then 3-6 sets of 3 with a work weight. Start out with 3 work sets and slowly add another as you're able to handle the load.

Jerks off the rack can be done for form or pushed to the limit. This depends largely on how you feel on Friday. This advice also applies to the cleans and snatches. If you're having a good day, run the numbers up. If a tad sluggish, cut back on the weight and drill on technique.

Because you don't have a coach to keep an eye on how you're performing on any given day, you have to do this yourself. Pay attention to how your session is going. Some days, you may feel strong but have the coordination of a cow on ice skates (see Photo One).

Photo One. 

When that occurs, use light weight on the high-skill stuff and work harder on the more static exercises.

What follows is a program for anyone who can train four days a week. It's more productive simply because the athlete gets to do one of the quick lifts another day during the week. Again, two programs are alternated every other week.
Week A
Power cleans and front squats
Cleans and jerks
Clean high pulls
Back squats

Power snatches and overhead squats
Full snatches
Snatch high pulls
Overhead presses

Front squats
Good mornings
Steep inclines
Calf raises

Power cleans and front squats
Full cleans
Jerks from rack
Back squats
Clean-grip shrugs
Week B
Power snatches and overhead squats
Full snatches
Snatch high pulls
Back squats
Power cleans and front squats
Clean and jerks
Clean high pulls
Overhead presses
Same as Wednesday Week A
Power snatches and overhead squats
Full snatches
Jerks from rack
Back squats
Snatch-grip shrugs. 

As you can see, the main difference between the two weeks is that one of the Olympic movements gets worked twice one week and once the next. As I mentioned before, when one of the lifts lags way behind the other, keep it on the Monday workout until it pulls up to par.

These routines are for those just starting out on the Olympic lifts. After five or six months, these will need to be upgraded so that you are handling a greater volume of work during the week, but these will serve you well in the beginning. If you diligently apply yourself to the task, you will get considerably stronger and greatly improve your form on all the high-skill lifts. While I believe in the importance of mastering technique, it needs to be kept in mind that Olympic lifting is very much a sport of strength. They don't, as yet, give style points. The strongest athlete will come out on top, even when his form is not perfect. So lean on the strength exercises: front and back squats, good mornings, overhead presses, steep inclines, high pulls, and shrugs. You'll find that as your strength increases, your form gets better. That's because technique is dependent on strength. The reason why most use sloppy form with a max attempt is because the muscles and attachments responsible for making a snatch and clean & jerk possible are not quite strong enough.
And once you have at least decent technique, enter a contest, regardless of how much you're lifting. You'll learn more in two hours at a meet than you will in two months of training. Don't be afraid of failing. You're going to miss attempts. That's just part of the sport. It's not an easy sport to master, but once you do there's no better feeling in the world. Everyone who has ever decided to become an Olympic weightlifter has failed at one time or another. Those who eventually overcame their difficulties and elevated themselves to the pinnacle of the sport are those who dusted themselves off and got right back on the platform. If they can do it, so can you.
Note: Enjoy Your Lifting! 




Sunday, January 13, 2019

A Little More From Harry Paschall

Let us now leave the Land of the Squatters and travel on. Let's have a look at some of the other exercise routines which have gained rather wide acceptance since the introduction of the more or less basic squat in the early 1930s. 

 One of the earliest of these ideas was the "cheating" method of performing movements with more weight than you could handle properly. For example, suppose you could curl 100 pounds while standing erect and without body motion. Then one day you find that you can handle 124 by swaying the body and leaning back as you give a heave to start the barbell upward. You immediately rush out to tell your pals that you can now curl 125 pounds and of course you hesitate to go back to that insignificant 100 pounds which you formerly curled. 

You also do this with the press, a heave, a back bend and sundry motions which amount in essence to a jerk without moving your feet. So you can now press 200 pounds. At last you are a MAN! 

When you do pullovers you bend the arms and bounce the weight. You are now a strong man, kid. You have discovered the secret. Of course the fact that you have lost your soul is an insignificant by-product. You are no longer honest; you have become a liar. 

In America during the 1930s this cheating even crept into official weightlifting. The hunch or jerk presses during that era were sad to behold, and a few still get away with murder because they don't realize they are cheating; and the person they are cheating most is themselves. 

Now, weightlifting and bodybuilding are separate things. In the former there are rules, and the good lifter will obey them and profit thereby. If he gets into bad habits through attempts to press more than he can handle he is going to find eagle-eyed judges who slap him down. But here we are primarily concerned with body building and muscle molding, so we will let ethics drop and consider the value of the "cheating" technique. 

To accustom your muscles to handle ever increasing weights is a laudable endeavor. In some movements it has value - such and the bouncing pullover (see pic above) and the bouncing squat. Yet let us look at the facts squarely. What you are really doing in most of these cases is supplanting a tried and proven exercise with ANOTHER TOTALLY DIFFERENT MOVEMENT. I suggest that if you insist on trying the cheating exercise that you do it first, then reduce the weight and do the old exercise properly. And this leads us into an exercise technique that has great merit - THE HEAVY AND LIGHT SYSTEM. 

Hold on a second . . . 

 Third Series. That'd be today. 

Soon to be . . . 

I'm about half way through the book and don't want it to ever end.

Harry? Would you please come back here . . .

In this routine most of the standard exercises are followed but a stimulation to increasing strength is supplied by first doing five repetitions with the curl with a weight quite close to your limit, then taking up immediately a lighter bar and performing ten more reps. This has the great advantage of permitting you to handle more weight when you are fresh, and then as the fatigue toxins accumulate you really have to work to perform ten full repetitions with a lighter weight. Usually the last three or four reps of a movement are the ones which do you the most good, when the tissues start getting clogged. This brings the surge of blood into the area and results in growth. The Bob Hoffman courses have contained this system since 1932. In Britain the new Henry Atkin Multi-Poundage System in which the discs are removed from the bar while you are using it has carried this fine idea even further. 

The Atkin Multi-Poundage System by Henry J. Atkin (1949): 

About 1940 a number of lavishly muscled supermen appeared on the American scene, following the inception of the Annual Mr. America award which began in 1939.

Bert Goodrich, 1939 Mr. America

We spent a good bit of time backstage with these models, watching them warm up for the contest, and found they had hit upon a new technique for inflating the tissues with blood. They did innumerable sets of curls, bench presses and dumbbell movements, and they had grown some impressive lumps. This cult grew rapidly, and its center was the Pacific Coast. Today the idea of using a group of series (done in multiple sets) exercises is standard in practically every gymnasium catering to muscle builders. It is probably the very best system in the finishing stages of an athlete's training for a well muscled physique. But we have certain reservations which we will take up later. 

In some quarters the Rest-Pause System of training with single repetitions with almost limit weights has gained acceptance. This very much resembles the training of an advanced weightlifter in endeavoring to increase his three Olympic lifts. He takes a weight only a few pounds under his limit and does perhaps 10 single lifts with this weight, resting for several minutes between each attempt. The bodybuilder using the Rest-Pause System does about six exercises, the curl, press, squat, pullover, deadlift, and pullup. He takes a weight about 10 pounds under his limit, curls it once, then rests a moment and curls it again, until he has done 10 complete repetitions. He does the same with the other two movements - doing almost a limit poundage each time. That this system should build strength and rugged ligaments is apparent. However, the long time necessary for an exercise period is against it and it is a little doubtful if it would build comparable shape and size.

There are several other systems prevalent, but I think we have covered the main ones. The older school of thought that goes in for a large variety of exercises performed a standard number of repetitions (say 15 for every exercise) is still large. The idea of working the muscles from different angles instead of using a series of identical movements has a great deal to commend it. However, I believe progress will be a little slower this way, although it may be surer and the results more lasting. 

My old and good friend, Siegmund Klein, goes through a routine of possibly 18 exercises, 15 reps each, religiously three times a week. You could set your clock by him and I doubt if he has missed a dozen exercise sessions in 25 years. 

Note: There's a seventeen part serialized group of articles on this blog titled "My First Quarter Century in the Iron Game" by Sig Klein.    

A glance at his physique would tend to justify his efforts. He is a stickler for correct form, and his presses and curls are strictly "military" and his squats are as steady and rhythmical as the routine of a ballet dancer. As for his strength, he was unquestionably the world's greatest presser a score of years ago.


Harry Paschall on the Squat Program

The Author in 1915
bent pressing a 115-lb. barbell at age 17.  

Mr.and Mrs. Bob Peoples would like to wish you a belated Merry Christmas. 
 And so would I. 

Back in the early 1930s a friend of ours named Mark Berry was editor of Strength magazine. He had training with us in New York at Siegmund Klein's Gymnasium and had observed Henry Steinborn doing his prodigious deep knee bends (squats) with upwards of 500 pounds. Henry would rock the bar on to his shoulders unassisted as he went into the first deep squat, and all of us around the gym had a try at it. We found it strenuous no end. If the descending bar caught you on the neck bone it nearly paralyzed you! 

At that time apparently no one had even thought of constructing racks from which to take the bell. Mark drew a picture of such a rack and printed it in Strength, along with some advice about an abbreviated program of exercise designed to make the subject gain weight. Several eager and possibly lazy pupils gave the shortened program a try, and in a few months some wild tales began to come in from the hinterlands from guys like Joseph Curtis Hise, Jacobson, Bullock, Boone and others. Reports of gains of 20 pounds in bodyweight in a month were not uncommon, and I believe it was Jacobson who gained one hundred pounds in a year!   

Mark himself gained from 130 to 180 pounds; and thereby hangs a tale. In his early days he had been a diet hound, and has eaten nothing but vegetables and chopped hay for some years until he finally lost all his teeth. When he fixed up the squat rack and began his abbreviated course, he was simply reverting to type. He had always simply worked himself almost to death; he was a "scientific" weightlifter, and would train for hours. When he started squatting he got his new store teeth and started eating too - and what he did to the more substantial foods shouldn't happen to a dog. His advice to all and sundry was to eat five or six times a day and as much as you could hold. The only dietary "don't" he listed was - don't eat anything that bites you first! 

His exercise routine was limited to a press on back, two hand curl, squat, and pullover. After going through his former multi-multiple routines, this was simply 

for Mark and it was no wonder he started to grow, particularly in the region about six inches below his chest. He further encouraged the growth of the lower chest by adjuring all pupils to refrain from situps. Waist exercise was poison to the lads who were all out for beef at any price. 

An early power monster from the era. 

At first, Mark did only one set of 20 squats and his exercise period only took up 10 minutes, which was just about all the time he could spare away from the buffet. Other enthusiasts out in the provinces experimented with two, three, and sometimes six or eight sets of squats on an abbreviated program and they grew like weeds in a garden. Mark had promulgated a great discovery - how a skinny guy could get fat. 

But he did have something tremendously important - the value of rest and change - and the great importance of leg and back work in creating a bulkier physique. 

Previous to this, the squat had been just another exercise. The use of the rack made heavier weights possible that would call for real effort and as use determines structure, the thighs began to bulge and the chest began to deepen. Actually the squat rack was a more important discovery than the squat itself. Anything that takes the pain out of our lives is very much worthwhile. Later discoveries of inclined benches, dorsi pulleys, etc., are anti-pain devices that permit the exerciser  to do some good exercises in a less painful manner. We hail these gadgets with delight as a contribution to a more restful and pleasant life. Physical culturists have too long been wearing hair shirts. 

To those of you whose faces are wan and drawn, and whose bones seem in danger of punching through the taut skin, I recommend a revised adaptation of the Squat Program, the big discovery of the 1930s. But I offer my version in fear and trembling lest too many of you become big fat sloppy bests with gargantuan appetites and no visible claims to athletic proportions. Just as the drunkard little knows when he downs his first slug of gin and bitters where the trail is going to lead, so many nice clean-cut athletes I used to know have disappeared forever from my ken covered and recovered by rolls and rolls of adipose tissue started in one weak moment a few years ago when they took a bar across their shoulders and made that first fatal dip. O Tempora, O Mores! Mark, why hast thou forsaken me? 

A great to-do has been raised about the proper method of breathing in connection with the squat. I find the instructions given by Mr. (Alan) Calvert quite sufficient. Breathe in deeply when you flex the muscles; breathe out vigorously when you relax them. This goes for all exercises, not merely the deep knee bend.

But you will find when you do 20 squats with a heavy weight that long about number 10 you begin to get a bit breathless, so you will naturally pause a bit at the top and start taking 2 or 3 deep pants. This is good. You are expected to puff and pant when you run a hundred yards at top speed. The squats are an athletic feat comparable to the hundred yard dash.

There is some value to beginners in doing light or "dinky" squats with several deep breaths between them. For one thing, the untrained man is so very much weaker than you would suppose him to be that even a set of 20 squats with 20 pounds becomes for him a major athletic feat. The even rhythm makes it easier for lungs and heart to accommodate themselves to their unaccustomed task.

The various ramifications through which the squat program has passed during the past 20 years are indeed enthralling (published in 1950), and the dietary atrocities committed in the sacrificial ceremonies to the Great God Beef would make any European's hair stand on end. We could write a whole book on this subject and enjoy ourselves no end. We remember Mark Berry telling us back about 1934 of a visit he had sustained from one of his squat-and-slop devotees. This 280-pounder arrived just as Mark was finishing breakfast, and naturally Mark invited him to bread and salt, although he didn't happen to have a largely stoked larder at the moment. A makeshift simple meal was provided however with one dozen eggs, a full loaf of bread and a big pot of coffee plus a quart of milk. Besides these edibles, the already over-juiced muscleman drank a two quart pitcher of water.

The squat program in the early days was a case of oversimplification if there ever was one, and unless the subject had some years of regular training to give use to all the muscles he was apt to become a rotund caricature of a strength athlete along the order of the Continental beer drinking iron men at the turn of the century. How much harm has been done organically to these men through gorging and flooding their systems with liquids is horrible to contemplate. Certainly the human body can stand only so much!  

The different types of breathing techniques which soon materialized in connection with the squat were forced upon the exercisers by simple cause and effect. The boys who took huge gasps of ozone and did a score or more of squats soon found that they were developing what they termed a "low chest." You may call it what you will. But some of these men have spoiled their physiques for life by getting the same sort of swelling bellies you will see among Indian and Japanese wrestlers. After a while the classic physique boys came along and began squatting and objected strenuously when they saw that suspicious bulge beginning to develop. So they began costal breathing - holding the abdomen in, and making sure the air went into the top of their lungs. They then squatted with the chest held high and the waist held in. This was an improvement.

If you find yourself squatting with a rounded back you are simply asking for trouble. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you try to make a lower back exercise out of the squat you are certainly going to push that tummy out.

Keep the back flat.
Keep the chest high.
Keep the belly in.

One of the chief virtues of the deep knee bend is that it is just about as strenuous an exercise as you can find. When you do 20 squats with a good heavy bar you will know you have been somewhere. This, I think, is the real reason why many people seem to get noticeable results when they add this movement to their program. Quite probably they have never worked hard enough before to make them really sweat and puff and pant.

Also, you are only as strong as your legs. Most people do not give their legs enough work to do. A heavy squat program places functional demands on the internal organs which they have not previously felt, and consequently this vigorous exercise may serve to cause a sudden change in the basic metabolism of the body. It is shaking the man out of his accustomed groove that makes the squat program work for people who have never really and truly exercised before, although they may have had years of vicarious experience in barbell training. Unless your program makes you breathless at some point or another, you are wasting your time.

Some of the original squat fanatics have mellowed with age. As their waistlines grew they began to complain a little of the severity of going all the way down in the squat. It is no fun to have your stomach bumping against your knees. So they shortened the piston stroke and stepped up the easier part of the program, the breathing. Some of them began to take 10 to 20 breaths between each squat, and soon they were only making only half squats. They continued to grow, as who wouldn't after they had shaken the body metabolism loose and begun to extract more and more flesh from their inordinate food intake.

They also began to do fewer and fewer accessory exercises. Finally they have now arrived at a point where they put the bar on their shoulders (off the rack, of course) and just bounce their shoulders up and down, and snort like a locomotive going up grade. This is the ultimate of something or other, brother. As Arthur Godfrey sings, "I don't want 'em, they're too FAT for me!"




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