THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT DIET
Three major factors that contribute when concentrating on the development of maximum muscular strength and bulk are:
The correct mental attitude;
The right training program; and
A program of strenuous barbell exercise coupled with an incorrect diet is an error common to both the tyro and advanced weight trainer. There is no point expending time and energy in heavy barbell exercise without a measured increasement in the intake of suitable foods. All too often I have seen an enthusiastic weightlifter undergo a lengthy session of training, after which, sit down to a meal that wouldn't do justice to a canary.
On numerous occasions I have had such persons approach me and say, "I just can't seem to put on weight, my bodyweight is the same now as when I started six months ago." Upon questioning I found that the training procedure used by the pre-mentioned individuals was basically sound and that they were on the right track in this regard. I then questioned them as to their diet and in almost every case the reply was that this was not the problem. "What did you have today for breakfast?" I would ask. "Two eggs, a piece of toast, and a glass of milk," was the usual answer. No need to look any further as the solution to the problem was obvious.
Persons who fall into this category have certainly made things difficult for themselves. It is strange how one could train for months and overlook the simple fundamental of sufficient food intake. Needless to say, when this oversight was corrected substantial increases on bodyweight occurred almost immediately.
It is to be remembered that when forcing the body to handle ever increasing poundages the food intake must be upped accordingly.
INCREASING BODYWEIGHT VIA FOOD INTAKE
The system of weight-gaining explained below served to increase my bodyweight from 145 pounds to 295 pounds. It is a simple procedure, the fundamental procedure of which, is as I outlined above: When lifting constantly increasing poundages in the workout the food intake must be increased proportionately.
It is important that the trainee has access to an accurate scale so that the exact bodyweight can be affirmed daily. If the reader is training in an established gym there will be no problem in this regard. If training at home a reliable bathroom scale can be purchased for a moderate price. At each daily weighing take the reading when completely stripped for greater accuracy.
If a sufficient amount of food is being consumed and the trainee is exercising regularly and diligently I will say with certainty that there will be a regular weekly increase in bodyweight. In many cases a substantial increase in bodyweight is experienced in as little as two days time. In instances where the bodyweight remains constant over a period of three to five days and the trainee adhering strictly to the program of exercise explained herein, insufficient food is being consumed.
In stubborn cases where the bodyweight remains constant the food intake must be increased until an increase in bodyweight is indicated at each weighing. In ascertaining as to the amount of food intake the latter is to be increased until a pound, or a fraction thereof, over and above the previous bodyweight reading is shown on the scale.
I would advise the trainee to direct a greater emphasis upon the consumption of foods in liquid form as milk, fruit juices, etc., are more easily digested and assimilated. Conversely, foods in a solid state are digested with greater difficulty and consequently direct undue strain upon the digestive organs. This means that a lesser amount of food could be assimilated in a given period of time thus reducing the amount of food intake with the resultant retardation of gains in bodyweight.
CONSUMPTION OF FOODS DURING THE EXERCISE PERIOD
Regardless of the opinion held by many persons concerning the consumption of foods during actual training I have in the past, and still do, drink milk or other liquids while resting between exercises. I have consumed, on occasion, as much as three quarts of milk during the exercise routine with no ill effects. At times I have actually gained weight during a lengthy session of training.
It is not advised to go to such extremes as did this writer at least not until the body becomes progressively conditioned to such a practice.
I do not advise the consumption of solid foods excepting figs, dates, honey, or the like. Honey, especially, is a superlative energizing food and should be consumed between and during the exercise period. Honey, being an extremely rich food, should be taken in small amounts at a time so as not to upset the stomach. This applies also to cold liquids such as water, milk, or fruit juices.
Another method to obtain quick energy is taking a mixture of coffee and honey. it is recommended however to utilize the above mixture only when attempting personal records or when in competition. I make a practice of having a thermos containing coffee and honey on hand when attempting records in training or during public performances but do not utilize the latter prematurely for this would hinder rather than assist. Coffee, and the reader knows, is a stimulant and in the case of all stimulants there is an after effect of bodily depression and for this reason the use of the above stimulant must be timed for maximum benefit. If the trainee desires to make use of this stimulant do so with caution and not regularity.
THE WEIGHTGAINERS DIET
There seems to be more food fanatics associated with barbell training than any other sport. When I use the term "food fanatic" I am referring to the type of individual to whom eating is almost a religion and who talks constantly on the caloric and vitamin content of foods.
I have actually seen such persons go to the extent of removing noodles from their soup. This practice sounds ridiculous and believe me it looks even worse. Correct foods certainly do play a prominent role in the diet and a balanced and sensible attitude toward nourishments is necessary as long as one does not go overboard regarding food requirements as so many individuals do.
I have had the privilege of meeting and associating with many world champion weightlifters during my career. I was pleased to find that the majority of these men were not hyper-critical about their diet and ate heartily of wholesome foods.
There are certain foods, however, that I place above all others in regard to promoting the increase of muscular size and strength. One of the foremost of these foods is milk. Milk, a near perfect food, contains the basic food elements necessary for complete bodily nourishment. Moreover, milk can be consumed in quantity without overloading the digestive system. There are some exceptions to the rule however as some persons find milk constipating. If the reader falls into the above category substitute a variety of fruit juices in place of milk.
It is recommended to use milk as a medium in which to blend other foods such as eggs, powdered milk, malt, honey, etc. Milk is an economical food to buy and for the money spent the returns in increased bodyweight are maximal. If possible it is advised to obtain a food blender. These may be purchased at your local department store for a reasonable price. This machine will soon pay for itself as you will realize a substantial decrease in the food bill. When in heavy training I consume three to four quarts of milk daily, mixing the latter with other foods with the blender.
The addition to the diet of fruits and vegetables is also important. Generally speaking, an insufficient amount of the above mentioned foods are included in the meals. Salads, especially, should be included in the afternoon and evening meal. Green leafy vegetables are highly beneficial as they assist in the maintenance of the bodily balance of alkalinity. Cooked vegetables, salads, and fruit are just as important as meat and dairy products in the diet. A balanced diet must be composed of all the vital food elements as poor nutrition can bring about illness and digestive disturbances.
One can't go far wrong regarding the diet if a wide variety of plain wholesome foods are consumed. I concluded that by consuming sufficient amounts of a variety of foods I would be certain to receive all the food elements necessary for the development of maximum muscle size and strength. If this procedure worked in the case of this writer why not then for the reader?
Foods such as lean meat, cheese, eggs, etc., are protein in its natural form. Champion weightlifters make the pre-mentioned foods the basis of their diet. The reader has no doubt heard of the appetite possessed by many of the earlier strong men. Louis Cyr, the great French Canadian strong man had an unbelievable appetite and it is claimed that he consumed an entire suckling pig at one sitting! It was Cyr's opinion that hearty eating was the secret of great physical strength. Judging by the records in weight lifting he established in his time there must have been some merit in what he maintained.
I am aware that meat can be an expensive commodity and that most persons cannot afford to dine on steaks, etc., every day. Fortunately meat is not the only source of protein. This writer was never a heavy consumer of meat and ate only normal portions of the latter. However, as I mentioned, I consumed large amounts of milk and thought nothing of eating six or eight eggs at mealtime. These foods contain a liberal amount of muscle building protein and are economical to buy. For those who can afford it I recommend a high protein food supplement. I have used concentrated food supplements throughout my career and with excellent results.
YOUR TRAINING ROUTINE
It is to be remembered that the following routine of exercise has been designed to promote maximum muscular strength and bulk. To this end certain basic power movements have been accentuated so that maximum returns are promoted in respect to the time and effort expended. The exercises to be performed influence the entirety of the basic muscle groups situated in the upper and lower regions of the body.
For example, when curling comparatively smaller muscle groups are involved such as the biceps muscles of the upper arm, the front portion of the deltoid muscle of the shoulder, and to some extent, the forearm. These muscles constitute a small portion of the total muscular bulk/weight of the body. If follows then that gains in bodyweight would be proportionate to the muscles utilized in the particular exercise.
The deep knee bend or squat exercise influences the large and extremely powerful muscles of the lower body. These muscles compose a major portion of the muscular bodyweight hence increased gains in strength and body size. From this conclusion one may surmise that for every pound of bodyweight acquired through curling 20 pounds could be acquired through the performance of the deep knee bend exercise. This is also the case in any of the various heavy power movements such as the deadlift, bench press, and Olympic press.
EXERCISE NO. 1 -- DEEP KNEE BEND
Place the bar on the stands and load it to the desired weight. Position the hands on the bar so that they are grasping the portion of the bar between the outside edge of the flange supporting the bar and the inside collar. This increased width of handspacing assists in alleviating unnecessary effort of the back during the squatting movement. Close width handspacing tends to direct the upper body forwards during the upward phase of the squat thus reducing squatting efficiency.
Always face the bar when removing it from the power stands. This practice makes it easier to replace the bar on the stands after squatting as the trainee is able to see and guide the bar correctly when in a fatigued state as after the performance of the squatting movement.
Lower the head and position the bar on the back of the shoulders. Make sure the bar is seated well back on the shoulders and centered correctly. If the bar feels uncomfortable in this position place a towel or a length of sponge rubber under the portion of the bar contacting the shoulders.
Extend the legs and lift the bar off the supporting stands then step backwards three or four feet. Position the feet approximately 18 inches apart, toes pointing outwards. Be sure that the feet are evenly positioned and in line with each other.
Next take a deep breath and commence bending the knees whilst maintaining the back as erect as possible. During this phase of the squatting movement concentrate on keeping the heels in full contact with the floor.
Assume the low squat position so that the upper thighs are below parallel with the floor surface. This is accomplished by allowing the weight of the bar to force the body downwards until the back of the thighs contact the upper portion of the calves.
When the low squat position has been attained commence to rise to the erect position as before.
During the entire squatting movement strive to keep the head up with the line of vision at a 45 degree angle upwards from the floor.
The breath is to be held from the commencement of the downward phase of the squat to the low position and not to be expelled until the upper thighs attain a position above parallel during the upward phase of the squatting movement.
When the erect/standing position of the body is attained take two or three deep breaths -- holding the final one -- then perform the next repetition.
Always squat flatfooted keeping the heels in contact with the floor at all times. In some cases difficulty may be experienced in maintaining the heels on the floor when in the full squat position due to a lack of flexibility in the large tendons situated on the back of the heel. Continued squatting will increase the flexibility in this area so that a correct full squat may be accomplished.
Do not squat with a board beneath the heels or when wearing shoes with elevated heels. The pre-mentioned practices contribute to the possibility of injury and detract from maximum squatting efficiency.
EXERCISE NO. 2 -- TWO HANDS DEADLIFT
Place the bar on the floor and load to the desired poundage. Approach to the center of the bar, positioning the feet so that the front of the shins are almost in contact with the bar. The feet should be spaced approximately 10 to 14 inches apart at the insides of the heels. The toes should be pointing outwards at a slight angle.
Place the hands on the bar in the "reverse grip" position. The reverse handgrip is attained by placing the palm of one hand so that it faces away from the body and the palm of the other hand facing inwards. Greater poundages can be lifted with the utilization of the reverse grip as it eliminates the danger of the bar rolling out of the grip. A "hook" position of the fingers can also be used by those whose fingers are long enough to utilize this method of gripping. This handgrip is attained by placing the first two fingers over the thumb when the grip is taken.
The correct handspacing for the deadlift should be approximately shoulder width. A wider or shorter distance of handspacing than advised will detract from maximum gripping leverage and deadlifting efficiency.
At the commencement of the deadlift the back should be flat, the knees bent, and the head up as much as possible. Immediately before commencing to lift the bar from the floor a deep breath is to be taken. The breath is to be retained throughout the entire deadlifting movement and is to be expelled when the bar has been fixed at the completion of the deadlift.
It is important that the bar be lifted to the waist in one smooth motion with the back and legs straightening simultaneously so that at the completion of the deadlift the back and legs attain the erect position at the same time. Magnesium chalk, or resin, when applied to the palms will assist the grip and can be purchased at the majority of drug stores in your vicinity.
EXERCISE NO. 3 -- BENCH PRESS
The bench press -- in this writer's opinion -- constitutes the finest single exercise for the upper body. Bench pressing influences most of the major muscles of the chest and arms and tends to develop maximum strength and size in the pre-mentioned muscles. Those who possess a large well muscled chest and arms have undoubtedly specialized in the bench press during a phase of their career, whether power lifting or bodybuilding.
Place the bar on the supports of the bench press apparatus and load to the desired poundage. It is not necessary to attach outside collars when using lighter poundages but when heavy or limit poundages are attempted the outside collars should be utilized to prevent the plates from shifting outwards and causing an anbalancement of the barbell. Such an event will usually cause a failure in the attempt and could cause muscular injury as added strain is encountered through and incorrect pressing movement.
Position the body on the bench so that the shoulders are almost in contact with the two supports. The back and hips should be in full contact with the bench top, the legs completely extended with the heels resting on the floor. The extending of the legs is important as this prevents the raising of the hips during the difficult phase of the bench pressing movement.
When taking the grip be sure of the correct handspacing. This is accomplished by grasping the bar so that when the arms are extended as in the completion of the bench pressing movement the angle of the arms is at an approximate 45 degree angle.
Immediately prior to removing the bar from the supports take a deep breath then lift the bar off the supports and commence lowering it to the chest. It is important that this first phase of the bench pressing movement is performed in a controlled manner so that the bar may be lowered to the correct contact point of the chest slightly below the nipples. When this has been accomplished commence pressing the bar to arms length over the chest.
The breath is to be expelled when the bar has passed through the most difficult phase of the pressing movement. When performing consecutive repetitions inhale when the bar is at arms length over the chest and exhale during the pressing movement as explained.
EXERCISE NO. 4-- OLYMPIC PRESS
Place the bar on a pair of squat stands and load to the desired poundage. Position the stands so that there is ample room for the handspacing before lifting the bar on the cradles or flanges at the extreme top of the posts. Face the stands and step under the bar so that it is centered on the upper chest just as it would be after cleaning to the shoulders for the press.
The distance of the handspacing is highly important as this has a great effect on the ultimate pressing ability. Grasp the bar so that the forearms are in a vertical position to the floor level.
Extend the legs and remove the bar off the stands then step backwards two or three feet. Position the feet 14 to 18 inches apart at the heels. Make sure that the legs are completely extended and locked before commencing the pressing movement.
Inhale, and while holding the breath, commence pressing the bar to arms length with the greatest possible speed. The breath is to be exhaled when the bar has passed through the most difficult phase of the pressing movement (this will be approximately at the level of the top of the head). For consecutive repetitions inhale either when the bar is being lowered or when the bar is at arms length over the head.
When attempting a limit poundage press, inhale then clean the bar to the shoulders. At this point do not exhale as this causes the chest to fall into a lower position making it more difficult to drive the bar upwards in the first phase of the press. For heavy consecutive repetitions strive to hold the breath for as many repetitions before exhaling.
EXERCISE NO. 5 -- TWO HANDS CURL
Place the bar on the floor and load to the desired weight. Step to the center of the center of the bar so that it contacts the front of the ankles or shins. The feet should be spaced 12 to 14 inches apart.
Grasp the bar with the "thumbs around" grip with a distance of handspacing so that the forearms are at right angles with the floor level. The palms should be facing away from the body. While maintaining the pre-explained handgrip lift the bar and raise the upper body to the vertical position. At this position the arms should be completely extended at the sides and the elbows close into the body.
At this point inhale, immediately after which, commence curling the bar to chest level. Strive to keep the elbows well into the sides throughout the curling movement. Although the elbows are forced into the sides when curling they will move forwards and upwards to allow the bar to rest on the upper chest at the consummation of the curl.
Exhale as the bar is lowered to the starting position for the curl. For consecutive repetitions repeat as explained.
NOTE: It is important that the arms be completely extended before starting the curling movement as curling otherwise contributes to a shortened biceps development which in turn may prevent the arm from assuming a complete extension.
EXERCISE NO. 6 -- HIGH PULL MOVEMENT
Place the bar on the floor and load to the desired poundage. Step to the center of the bar so t hat it almost contacts the shins. The feet should be approximately 12 to 14 inches apart at the heels and pointing outwards to a slight degree.
Grasp the bar with the "thumbs around" grip, the palms of the hand facing inwards. The gripping distance or handspacing should be the same as in the overhead press. The knees should be bent, the back flat, and the arms completely extended. The position of the body as explained here is identical to that used in the starting phase of the clean to the shoulders in Olympic style.
The head should be raised to a 45 degree angle and is to be maintained in this position throughout the high pulling movement.
Take a deep breath and at the same time commence to pull the bar upwards with the greatest speed possible close into the body. The bar should be elevated to the area between the belt and the nipples.
It is to be understood that as the poundage used in increased the bar will be elevated to a point neared the waistline. When the bar cannot be elevated above belt level a lighter poundage should be used. The bar is not to be positioned on the shoulders as in cleaning but pulled to the greatest height and lowered to the floor IN A CONTROLLED MANNER.
It is important that the arms are completely extended at the start of the pulling movement. A common fault is to commence pulling with bent arms with a resultant loss in power.
Do not jerk the bar off the floor when starting the pull as this detracts from maximum acceleration. Start the movement smoothly and concentrate on speeding up the upward progress of the bar.
It is important that the back and legs are coordinated so be sure that at the commencement of the pull that the legs are straightened proportionately with the back so that at the completion of the pull the body is in the erect position.
Continued in Part Three.
Enjoy Your Lifting!