Sunday, February 16, 2020

Finished Forearms - Bob Green

Book Two out now! 
January 14th 2020.
Yay! Yippee! 

Here is One: 

Varlam Shalamov's Kolyma Tales are among the most harrowing in all literature:

"My writing is no more about camps than St. Exupery's is about the sky or Melville's about the sea. My stories are basically advice  to an individual on how to act in a crowd. To be . . . more real than reality itself."   

Finished Forearms
by Bob Green 

The other day I was looking at the cover shot of one of the top physiques in contemporary bodybuilding. He was gook looking, wide, good shape, but his arms looked like buggy whips hanging down at his sides. Upon closer scrutiny I realized that his upper arms were okay - probably 18-inchers. Why then did his arms look so puny? 

His biceps billowed into the elbow insertion and the triceps seemed to grow into the elbow region harmoniously - ah,  but from there down it tapered into a willow stem. That was it. Lack of forearm development unbalanced his entire arm development; a shame because it projected a weak link. Physical Culture is a science of building all facets of ot the body. 

True - some have stubborn body parts, yet I believe these areas suffer mostly from lack of intensified effort. This bodybuilder had fallen into the trap of relying on exotic equipment to build his entire body (supposedly in less time) and he had discarded some of the BASIC STRENGTH AREAS in favor of the showy body parts. I wondered, then, what kind of inert strength he might possess.  

Forearms are a useful tool in sports, work and self-defense. When we were younger we would always include forearm work so that we could climb rope better and, later on, for tennis. In fact, we used our forearms a lot. Ever try landing a knockout punch with a weak forearm? Goodbye wrist! 

We tried chopping wood, wrist rollers, Karate pushups and barbell reverse curls (which I still believe is a superior arm builder). 

One of my buddies, Terry Brenner, had the best forearms I have ever seen and could he punch - Yeeoww! Terry was naturally slight like I was, so we started training together in high school. By his senior year Terry had a 15" (straight) forearm measurement at a bodyweight of only 175. His method? On rest days, while watching TV commercials he would quietly rap sets of high reps of wrist curls (palms up) with a 10-pound plate - one hand at a time. Terry was primarily into gymnastics, but he would play all sports. His incredible grip enabled him to to German Giants on the high bar until 


When it came to [that reminds me, there's a Gene Mozee calf article I wanna put up here that I keep forgetting about . . . damn cattle!] When it came to rope climbing he was unbeatable. One time at Malibu beach I had gotten into a row with a drunk at a party - my right hand had been badly burned a week prior and I was in a bad situation. Terry was in like a flash to break up the entanglement and calm us down. A friend of the drunk came to his aid and spun Terry around. Damn Cattle! Terry's mouth dropped when he saw the size of his new adversary. Terry started to say something . . . "Damn Ca . . ." and the big guy cut him off with a good shot. The blow glanced off of Terry's forearm, which had swept up to instantly block the right cross. Terry did some back-pedalling and fired a couple of left jabs followed by a sudden attack of combinations, a right hook and an anecdote that wouldn't end that set the big man on his glutes. The guy must have weighed at least 200 or more while Terry was his ever-present 175. Terry's K.O. punch hadn't hurt his hand, wrist, or forearm, but had completely cold cocked the other man. I will leave the story as it is, because it turned into Custer's Last Stand until the chicks got wise and started to split. This immediately broke up the fighting and once again the beach at Malibu was left the twilight, surf and merriment. 

Face it - most guys start lifting to build bigger arms that are more useful. Well, you'll never get fully developed, huge, strong arms unless you include some forearm training in your workouts two to three times per week. Look at all of the big arm champs like Grimek, Delinger, Vila-Matas, Draper (he and Sergio have the biggest forearms of anybody), Pearl, Houellebecq, Arnold, Scott and Ortiz. They have huge, sinewy forearms. The big forearms give them unbelievable gripping strength and leverage when they curl or do heavy back work. They also support your weight in dips and all tricep work. 

Strong forearms mean heavier workouts. 

and Scott 
train their forerarms at the end of biceps. 

Grimek, one example here -
used to space his forearm work in sequences involving deltoids deltoids, triceps and biceps. 

Boyer Coe also has employed this technique in his arm training. 

The main thing is that you train them at the end of your routine. Dan Mackey feels that the forearms should be worked on your "off" bicep day. He says, "If you work the forearms on the days that you are not training biceps you will find that the forearm work actually "feeds" the biceps and brachialis areas with enough blood to pump the upper arms and keep them growing without direct stimulation." 


Dan and I feel that if you do too much forearm work on bicep day or doing this in conjunction with heavy pressing and rowing you stand a good chance of injuring an extensor or brachialis attachment. At first, try them on off days to test their strength and capacity for work. 

Peary Rader: Photos above illustrate the finger extension wrist roll. On the left is a closeup showing the grip and position. we would call this a starting position and as the bar rolls down near the fingertips as shown in the second position then curl back up to the maximum height as shown in the third position. This is an exceptional exercise for the hand, fingers and the forearm and will give great development and strength if practiced regularly. You gotta love Peary! The way he often uses that phrase . . . "will GIVE great development . . ." The exercise can be convinced to give results if respected and performed properly. Love that line.  

Forearms, like the calves (damn cattle) are a unique area to work due to the limited ranges of movement and the density of the muscle tissue itself. Therefore, we feel that a variety of the Zottman Curl involves the extensors during the lowering, the belly and supinators in the upward curl, the pronators on the rotation of the dumbbells - hence it is a thorough forearm and upper arm developer and one I put at the top of the list.    


Peary Rader: This series of pictures shows several positions of the Zottman Curl. This was named after the man who developed it and has been one of the best developers of the forearm and wrist strengths.

The dumbbell is curled toward the shoulder with the grip turned up, then rotated as it is lowered with the grip down. This is a contstant motion, with one dumbbell going up as the other one comes down. It may be a little hard to learn at first but you'll soon catch on and will find it really pumps up the forearms.  

Most of the fellows use it at the end of their forearm routines for the maximum finishing pump. Artie Zeller turned me on to this one years ago at the old Weider office in Santa Monica. By the way, Artie's famous ZELLER CURL is unparalleled for developing individual bicep strength and his arms are stiff impressive, and talented in steadying his famous camera. 

Marvin Eder demonstrating a DB Zeller Curl. Elbow is braced against the side/hip. It can also be performed two handed with a barbell. This one's all about the lowering. Just get the weight up to the top any way you can, some people use two arms for this, then lower 
s - l - o - w - l - y. 
And do promise to be careful

Okay, again, the Zottman Curl is performed as you would an alternated DB curl except that at the top of each curl (DB at shoulder) you rotate your palm downward and then lower the bell in this position. Start with your weaker arm always. The moment your weaker arm is lowered start the upward curl with the other arm so that a rhythmic action occurs. 

Don't cheat; learn to CONTROL the weights.

This is how true strength is developed: by CONTROLLING reasonable poundages for sets and reps you will develop the requisite amount of lumps. Don't just jerk the weights around and hope that eventually you'll be strong enough to do them right. 

Sets . . . start heavy and then go lighter so that form can be maintained and a sufficient amount of reps may be performed. You may slightly cheat on the last two reps. Peanuts West and Chuck Collras told me that Reeves did a lot of Zottmans in his early life while still sleeping around.

One of my early favorites ws the Thumbs Up Curl with DB, which was also a favorite of the great John Grimek. 

 Peary Rader: The photo on your left shows the Thumbs Up Curl (later "Hammer") which works the big muscle on the upper part of the forearm quite thoroughly and is an important factor for weightlifters. The two other photos show the hanging dumbbell wrist curl (later "Rockers") which is also very effective in pumping up the forearms, and you can use a fairly good size weight in this but don't overdo the poundage or you'll be unable to make complete movements. 

This curl, the Thumbs Up Curl, will thicken the entire arm, work outer bicep, brachialis, thicken the belly of the forearm, cure constipation, and hit low bicep and anconeus.   

Because of the position of the dumbbell the extensors of the wrist and fingers get tremendous stimulation of a semi-static -- semi-isotonic nature. I have found this good for developing muscularity and density into the forearm. It will also bring up the poundages in all of your curling exercises.

A trick that Reg Park and Bill Pearl both do is to rotate their dumbbells in and out after every 3rd rep at the hanging position of their dumbbell curls (incline, seated, etc.). This builds supinators and pronators of the wrist and ensures strict form. 

For weak extensor and back of the wrists the Palms Down Barbell Wrist Curl (barbell reverse wrist curl) is excellent.  

Be sure to support your wrists on a well padded bench until you get the hang of it. Then you may do them off of your knees or any bench that suits you. Advanced men may use dumbbells. You should do 15-20 reps per set on this one. 

One day I saw Vern Weaver at Gold's doing a simple but unusual forearm pumping movement at the end of his arm workout. In the dead hang position, with a DB in each hand at his sides, he flexed them upward with forearm strength alone. I think he was using around 40 or 50 lbs. It was a hanging DB wrist curl if you will. See photos above. Towards the end of your routine try 5 or 6 sets of these, or you might want to try them after each set of dumbbell curls, and remember that you can flex "knuckles up" as well as "palms up". 

When programming, remember, do forearms at the end of your total workout, or place them in a sequence with your arm and shoulder movements. Dan and I try to do them at the end of our workout on off-arm day. Try adding some variety if you are at a stalemate or specialize on them for a month - you can always use them.

Remember . . . 


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Considering Shoulder Development - Vern Weaver

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed 

Considering Shoulder Development 
by Vern Weaver (1964)

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, as a group today's bodybuilders and weightlifters have built for themselves the most powerful, best developed shoulders of all time. Their average development far exceeds that of other athletes, and a few have developed themselves shoulders which spread over two feet in width. 

How do you develop shoulders like these? 

First of all, let's make a brief anatomical study of the shoulder area. Shoulder development is a matter of two things: the underlying bone structure and the overlaying muscles.  

The two bones primarily of concern are the clavicle (collar bone) and scapula (shoulder blade). The size and shape of these bones is basically what constitutes the width of your shoulders. It is worth noting that these two bones are directly or indirectly connected with the thorax (rib cage). 

If one can stretch the rib cage through exercises designed to accomplish this end and to induce deep breathing, then one can certainly expect to attain a wider shoulder spread. In other words, a well planned chest routine can definitely assure you a better shoulder development. 

Let's take a minute to illustrate this point by example. Let's compare two very famous bodybuilders - John Grimek and Steve Reeves. Each man has attained a maximum degree of shoulder development, yet each represents an exactly opposite type of body structure. 

Reeves possesses very long collar bones and wide set shoulder blades coupled with a very limited rib cage development. Grimek, on the other hand, has collar bones of only average length. 

The difference is that Grimek has rib cage development much superior to Reeves. 

So much for rib cage development. My only purpose in mentioning it was to point out its importance in the building of big shoulders. 

Now for the muscles which make up the shoulders and related areas. 

In back we have the trapezius, infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major, posterior deltoid, and latissimus dorsi. 

In the front of the body, the pecrotalis major muscle, particularly the clavicular part (although the entire muscle falls within our scope because of what we have said about chest development [rib cage] as related to broad shoulders, and the anterior part of the deltoid. 

What exercises affect the muscles of the shoulder girdle? Let's list a few major ones, then discuss each of them and how they work the muscles involved. They are the bench press, shrug, upright row, bentover laterals, chins, military press, standing lateral raise, and pullover. 

BENCH PRESSING has always been a basic chest development exercise, but it also affects the deltoids to a great extent. There are many varieties of bench pressing, such as wide grip, narrow grip, normal grip, incline or decline, and naturally each of these gives different results. Bench pressing works the tie-in muscles between the pectorals and deltoids, an area of the body most important to the bodybuilder. When developed properly it is very impressive, and it definitely is to be considered part of the shoulder area.

SHRUGS directly affect the trapezius. The proper way to execute a shrug is to 

 - allow the barbell to pull the shoulders to a pronounced sloped position, then 
 - raise the shoulders to the highest possible position. 

Performed this way it can't help but give good results. Heavy weights must be used, for the trapezius is a very strong muscle which can absorb quite a bit of punishment.

UPRIGHT ROWING stimulates the trapezius muscle much the same way as the shrug, but not as much weight can be handled as in the previous exercise. In addition, however, in this exercise the deltoids and other muscles of the shoulders come into action, making this a highly recommended movement. 

I personally favor a regular grip on the bar, at about the knurling on an Olympic barbell. Start with 

 - the arms extended and the knees bent slightly, then 
 - pull the weight up to the bottom of the rib cage. 
Utilizing this method allows one to use rather heavy poundages.

BENTOVER LATERALS are a great exercise for the whole upper back region. Aside from the direct effect it has on the posterior deltoids it also affects the trapezius, infraspinatus, teres major, and teres minor groups. Thus, bentover laterals cover every major muscle in the upper back. 

To do it properly, keep the back flat as you bend the upper body forward at the waist. Try to maintain a 60-degree angle from vertical. Oh for Chrissakes, 30-degrees from horizontal! Start with the dumbbells in a hanging position and raise them in an arc to shoulder level. Do this exercise slowly and deliberately for best results.

CHINS, like bentover laterals, also affect the posterior deltoid area, and in addition you will find that they develop the infraspinatus and both teres groups because they directly work those muscles. Often these effects of chinning are overlooked because most trainees tend to think of this exercise as being primarily for the latissimus and arms. 

MILITARY PRESSING is what I consider to be the primary shoulder (deltoid) exercise. It involves the maximum range of motion of the deltoid. In addition to the regular pressing exercise I have practiced and highly recommend the use of Functional Isometric Contraction pressing from a power rack. Three positions - start, eye level, and 3/4 to lockout should be used. As usual, maximum stress should be applied for 6-12 seconds. One further comment: do not practice regular pressing and isometric pressing in the same workout.

STANDING LATERAL RAISES have been a basic exercise among weight trainees for many years. No bodybuilder should ever forget to include it in his routine. The exercise directly affects the deltoids. Forward raises, performed with dumbbells or a barbell can also be included. 

PULLOVERS were mentioned in our list of basic shoulder exercises, and earlier in this article I mentioned the role of the thorax in shoulder development. Increase the size of your rib cage and your shoulders are going to increase in size as well. There is no better exercise to accomplish this than the pullover. 

Personally I prefer to use dumbbells for this exercise. The idea is not to use heavy weight, but a poundage one can handle comfortably for 15-20 repetitions. Lie across a bench, with only the shoulders supported, and stretch as much as possible. Remember to keep the arms straight and stretch

To get the best possible results from any exercise or group of exercises, they must be used properly. 

A basic rule is that a routine should be well balanced

Another point is that the exercises should be practiced in proper sequence.

Returning to the first rule, it becomes obvious why I have suggested in the eight movements listed several exercises which primarily affect areas adjacent to the shoulders. There are thousands of exercises, but who can name eight which directly affect the shoulders only? Anyone who chooses to do exercises which affect only a very small area or a single muscle will certainly be limiting himself to a very few exercises, and more important, he'll also be limiting his progress.

In my preparation for the 1963 Mr. America contest I used all of the exercises listed in this article. I don't mean I did each of them in any single workout, but over the period of several months each was used regularly at one time or another. Certain of them were never combined within one workout. 

The manner of executing them also varied. 

On the upright row, for example, at one time I might take a given poundage and do the normal 8-12 repetitions for 3-6 sets. And on another training day I might take a weight I could handle fairly easily for 6 reps, then add 10 pounds per set until I reached a 6-rep maximum. On the very last set I would hold the barbell in the finish position for six seconds, in effect making that last rep an isometric contraction. This system helped me a great deal in my Mr. America training. 

In conclusion, I'd like to say that for most bodybuilders three exercises directly affecting the shoulders should suffice in one exercise period. For example, it might be the press, then either shrugs or upright rows, and finally either standing or bentover laterals. 

Remember, your shoulders are also getting work from exercises primarily designed for other body parts. Beware of over-training the shoulders. Too many reps can wear them down fast. 

As always, I wish you greatest success.  

Thursday, February 13, 2020

There is a Difference - Steve Michalik

It's funny that somehow almost everything sets me thinking about bodybuilding. Sometimes that can be very productive. And that is what happened in the instance I am about to relate. 

I have a good friend who has really taken to running. He trains six days a week, running 5 to 10 miles at each session. About two weeks ago he called me to tell me that he was entering a 26-mile marathon. He wanted to know if I would be interested in watching the race. I told him I would try to be there. He said he was very glad because he would fell better knowing he had someone there rooting for him, particularly because he had never run more than 10 miles at one time. 

Well, to make the proverbial long story short, I did go to watch him, and although he didn't finish in the top ten (he came in 22nd in a field of over 70 runners) he did complete the entire course. 

My friend had been a pretty good bodybuilder and still does some training on a regular basis. However, since he started running about three years ago, his bodyweight has gone from slightly over 200 pounds to a weight of 165. As he is six feet tall, he has a rather "lean and hungry look" but his interest in running is much greater than it is in maintaining an 18 inch arm.

As we talked about this after the race, something that had been kicking around in my mind for a while became crystallized and I realized how my friend's experiences could help me get something very important across to many bodybuilders. There was something that many trainees apparently weren't aware of and this lack of awareness was putting many of them on a self-defeating treadmill. 

I probably began thinking about this matter when I started to read the letters I have received since winning the Mr. America title. There was a theme that ran through many of them but it took the experiences I have just related to enable me to put the matter into a clear (I hope) concise form for IronMan readers.

There is a state of confusion that abounds in the minds of many trainees about the purposes of different training routines. From the correspondence I have received, the following chain of events seems to be happening with unfortunate frequency . . . 

A trainee reads the story of how Superstar won the Mr. Intergalactic and Adjacent Areas title. Along with the story, a training routine is included that Superstar used to train for the contest. It usually involves a six day a week schedule, sometimes with two sessions a day. 

The trainee tears the routine from the magazine and rushes off to his training quarters where he tacks it on the wall. This is really it, he thinks. From here on out nothing can stop him. It's blastoff to muscles and glory. 

For the first week or so the trainee actually does make some progress but then the law of diminishing returns sets in. Each workout begins to get less productive. The trainee finds that he is feeling tired all of the time, the poundages that he was using are beginning to drop, and, worst of all, his measurements are getting smaller. Something is wrong - but what? 

The trainee is so unhappy that he even misses a few workouts. Then he decides he will reread the article. He must have missed something. Of course! There it is in bold print. Some of the paragraphs tell how there were many times Superstar had to fight the pain and fatigue he was experiencing but how he had gritted his teeth and went on to win. The trainee, once more encouraged that he is on the right road, resumes his workouts. 

Again he starts making progress for a while, but then the same things occur - lack of energy, weight loss, etc. He is more confused than ever. Perhaps he decided that he was just never meant to look like Superstar, or that the article wasn't true. But there he is, another lost bodybuilder, lost because he hasn't realized a very important difference

The article and training routine about Superstar may very well have been accurate down to the smallest detail - BUT SO WHAT? The trainee had taken a routine that was designed for a very special purpose and had decided that here was the way for him to build himself up to Superstar's size. What he didn't realize was that Superstar didn't use that routine for that purpose. In fact, Superstar used it for tearing down. (My runner friend was also knowingly tearing down). 

That last sentence will take some explaining. Let's follow Superstar, very briefly, through the year before the contest. He has his sights set on the Big Contest to be held one year from that particular date. He plans to be as big as he can but in as muscular and defined condition as he possibly can be for that event. 

Consequently, he trains hard and heavy for the first eight or nine months. 

He probably trains three days a week. 

He is intent only on increasing his size without really getting fat. 

Then, with the contest about three months off, he begins to split his workouts - perhaps upper body one day and legs the next. He adds some more sets and exercises and begins taking shorter rest periods between sets. He is probably training two days on and one day off. He is starting the hardening up process. He is shaping what he has built up during the preceding months. He is no longer interested in increasing his size. That was done during the first nine months.  

The final six weeks before the contest sees all the stops pulled out. Superstar trains with an intensity that is almost frightening. All rest time between sets is eliminated. Supersets, trisets, and giant sets are done for every body part. Each part is worked for about 30 minutes, twice a week. There are training sessions six or seven days a week with twenty minutes of ab work being done at every session. A very restricted diet is followed with a sharp decrease in carbohydrate intake. 

Superstar is DELIBERATELY OVERTRAINING with the intention of bringing out every possible striation, every line of definition. 

And it is this training routine that is invariably written up in the bodybuilding magazine - the routine that Superstar has used for the purpose of TEARING DOWN some of what he previously build up.

So now, perhaps, you can see how and why our trainee has gone astray. He has tried to use something that was never intended for the use he wants. His misuse has led him to frustration and disappointment. 

If I ended this article it wouldn't be fair to our trainee. Having explained to him what his error was, I haven't helped him in planning out what he should do - except for some very general statements when I outlined Superstar's possible plans. 

Let's go back to that part. 

When Superstar wanted to increase his size, he probably training three times a week - but very hard sessions. Let's sketch out one possible training routine for our trainee to follow. Very careful attention must be paid to the explanation that follows the outline of the schedule. 

First, let's list the exercises. They are all well known ones so I won't describe the actual mechanics of each one. 

1) Full Squats - 3 x 15-20 reps.
2) Dead Hang Cleans - 3 x 8-12
3) Bench Press - 3 x 8-12
4) Behind the Neck Chins - 3 x 8-12 (may substitute pulldowns)
5) Behind the Neck Press - 3 x 8-12
6) Upright Rowing - 3 x 8-12
7) Barbell Triceps Extension (seated or lying) - 3 xx 8-12
8) Barbell Curl - 3 x 8-12
9) Calf Raise - 3 x 20-30
10) Incline Situp - 3 x 35-50

Now, let's talk about some of the particulars. They are most important and, if followed carefully, they can make a list of exercises into a productive routine. 

Every exercise and every repetition should be performed strictly. Cheating means just that - you are only cheating yourself. 

Every possible repetition must be done for each and every set. If you aren't going to do that, you aren't going to get the best results. if you do work that way, you will find the routine a very good one. 

The reps are intentionally set higher than one usually finds suggested. However, it has been my experience in my own training and in training others here at Julie Levine's R&J Health Studio that higher repetitions are much more productive than lower ones.   

Steve Michalik, Julie Levine (1972)

The repetitions that are given are set as target areas - reps will be done until you can't do any more. When you hit the higher number on the FIRST set of any exercise it is a sign to increase the weight the next time you train. Why did I emphasize "on the first set"? Think for a moment and you will realize that you are the strongest on the first set of any exercise. I am not talking about single attempts, as I don't feel they have any place in a bodybuilding program. I am talking about a set of a reasonable number or repetitions. If you do your first set in an all-out fashion, you should not be able to duplicate the number of repetitions you did when you perform your second set - unless you rested an excessive amount of time. 

As far as rest time between sets, I feel that two minutes is the MAXIMUM you should need. On most upper body movements, you will probably find that you need less than that. 

Finally, I am going to ask you to use your heaviest weight on your first set of each exercise and to DECREASE the weight for the second and again for the third sets. 

Be sure you work for the maximum possible number of reps on each set. The reasons for dropping down in weight for sets two and three are those given above - you are strongest on the first set and you want to maintain the highest number of repetitions possible. 

As a rough rule, I have found that five pound decreases are sufficient on poundages under 100 pounds, with an increase of five pounds for each 50 pound increase in weight. For example, 15 pound decreases when the weight is between 150 and 200. If you work this way, you should find that three sets are all that you can really do for each exercise.

The routine works every muscle group. When you combine it with a good nutritional nutritional program and adequate rest, you should be able to get as big as it is within your potential to do. 

Remember, there is a difference between building up and tearing down. Plan your training accordingly and you should get the desired results. 

Good Luck! 

Fascinating Book Recommendation!!!


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