Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Srength Training for Bodybuilders? - Reg Park (1968)



Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed






I have always felt that a bodybuilder should employ strength training along with his regular bodybuilding exercises. 

But, at the same time, the ultimate goal must be kept clearly in mind. A certain amount of strength training will do great things for your physique; but too much will destroy some of the muscle shape that is so necessary to complete an aesthetic physique. 

In my own case, I have always tended to handle heavy poundages wherever possible. In fact, I devoted one full year to strength training alone, and have always tried to handle progressively heavier poundages until just recently, when pressures of business have forced me to curtail my workouts sharply. 


Bodybuilders are primarily concerned with increasing muscular size, and so their training must be oriented in this direction. The single repetition that will develop strength effectively will not aid the bodybuilder to any great degree. Increased muscular size can be accomplished only by handling progressively heavier poundages with sufficient repetitions to carry an increased blood supply to the muscle being exercised. In this manner the muscle fibers receive nutrition, stimulation, and will grow. 

From a bodybuilding point of view, repetitions of from 5 to 10 have been found to be ideal for most people, but since increased poundages are necessary to activate dormant fibers, and to create growth in the already active ones, a form of strength training is essential for bodybuilders. 

Beginners should follow a general type of training with about 3 sets of 10 repetitions per muscle group. 

After about six months to a year, I recommend a strength program such as the one that follows: 

Prone Hyperextension - 5 x 10 reps
Squat - 5 x 5
Bench Press - 5 x 5
Incline DB Bench Press - 5 x 5
Bentover Row - 5 x 5
Press Behind Neck - 5 x 5
Curl - 5 x 5

The first two sets of each exercise should be used as progressive warmups, with the last three sets a heavy poundage. For example, if you are capable of squatting 200 pounds for 5 reps, start with 160 for 5, 180 for 5, and then do 200 for 3 sets of 5. When you are able to make 5 reps on all three heavy sets, increase the weight 5 pounds. This method applies to all the exercises listed. 

It is assumed that you are trying to gain muscular bodyweight on this program, so be sure that you eat and drink much more to give your body the added nutrition it needs. A good supplement is vital. Also make sure your diet contains plenty of protein rich foods, such as meat, eggs, and milk.

This is a very rugged workout, so be sure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Try to maintain a very positive attitude as this will help you gain strength and size better than you can imagine. 

I feel that my own physique suffered from too much strength training. I worked up to a 600 pound squat, a 500 pound bench press, and a 300 pound behind the neck press. At the time these strength goals were very important to me, but I am sure that I would have benefited more had I worked a little more on shape. 

It was my experience that strength training, when carried on for too long a period, develops the ligaments and tendons to the point where further muscle growth is difficult. When I returned to pure bodybuilding, I was unable for some time to get an marked size increase on my arms. Now that I no longer try for strength records calling for supreme efforts of will, I can gain muscular size very easily. 

So here we have the dilemma. 

Strength training alone will not, in most cases, build a finished physique. But pure bodybuilding alone is not the answer either, as this tends to give a "puffy" appearance to the muscle, and takes away the appearance of power. I have also noticed over the years that bodybuilders who went in for pure light resistance alone did not retain their physiques well into life. Champions who trained for strength as well as size developed quality muscle that stays in top condition with a minimum of training. 

John Grimek, who won the first official Mr. America contest back in 1940, and who must be close to 60 by now, still maintains a fantastic physique. Why? His muscles are quality muscles developed by a combination of heavy strength exercises and lighter shaping exercises.

What is your bodybuilding goal? 

Do you want a good build, of a great one? 

If you answer is the one I think if is, a combination of strength training and pure bodybuilding is for you.       




















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