By far the majority of those who come to barbell physical training do so out of a desire to gain muscular bodyweight, and to build greater physical strength.
It is very difficult to convey precisely how simple it is to pack on solid bodyweight via barbell training; and perhaps this is the reason why so many youngsters (and not so young-sters as well) are at first attracted to the spectacular type of "super schedules" that they see advertised, and which promise to do everything for the trainee in a physical way, short of making him immortal. All such programs are pure, unadulterated bunk.
I have a friend who worked out for two years on such a super program until he finally got wise, and as a result he finally got muscles.
My friend came over to my house one day with an expression on his face that could have made a Marine Corps drill instructor cry.
"What is it, Fred, what's wrong?" I asked.
He said nothing. He slumped down into a chair and handed me a piece of paper. I was afraid to look at it. I thought that it must be an emergency telegram or something.
"Gee, Fred," I stammered, "If there's anything that I can do; if there's any . . . "
"Just take a look at that," he sighed. He was pointing to the sheet of paper he had just handed me. For a moment I didn't have the guts to look at it. Then I figured that I owed him all the help I could give him since we were friends, so I gritted my teeth, then looked down at the paper.
"What in heck!" I shouted. "This is an exercise schedule!"
"Yeah, it was," he moaned. "It was mine."
"So," he began slowly, "I'm giving up the weights."
He said it like he was announcing a divorce.
"I've been training on that routine for two years now, and I haven't gained anything worthwhile. Fact it, I've lost three pounds in the last month."
"Fred, is this what you're so upset about?" I held out the paper.
"You know, Fred, there must be a scientist somewhere who'd be willing to pay a nice fee to the guy who'd deliver what there is of your brain to him."
"For goodness' sake, Fred! Cut it out!" I yelled.
"But it's failed," he said. I saw that he was really upset. "Two years, down the drain."
"No, it hasn't failed, Fred," I interrupted, trying to cheer him up.
"Nom, of course not." I managed to force a smile. "You learned what some guys never learn: that training on any crazy schedule like this will do nothing but bring discouragement." I crumpled the sheet of paper and threw it into a waste basket. It contained a schedule of exercises, reps, sets and poundages that would have left Reg Park winded. Yet my friend had been hammering away sat his body with this routine for the last two years, with never so much as a one week layoff, or more than one day's rest between workouts. But he honestly expected to gain on that schedule, as unfortunately, did many others.
"You mean that the program is no good?" he said.
"Fred, what did I tell you two years ago when you told me that you wanted to gain weight?"
"You said that I should do heavy exercises like squats, presses, dead lifts and rowing, and that I should get plenty of rest and eat lots of good food and see to it that I drank about two quarts of milk a day. And, oh yeah," he added, "you said that I should be careful to never overtrain,"
"Right Now what else did I say?"
"You said that I was crazy when I told you that I was going to follow the routine that you just threw away. You said that no one could ever gain on that schedule, and that the nut who drew it up ought to be made to train on it as punishment."
"Right, again Now," I said, slowly, "what happened?"
"Well, I guess I didn't gain."
"Guess not," I said.
"Aw, c'mon, you don't have to rub it in! So you were right! I thought that I had a sure-fire program! I was wrong."
"Right again," I said. "You were wrong. Now you can forget about the mistakes you've made, and you can start training properly."
I noticed him start to smile.
"But I feel awful."
"Naturally. You've battered yourself with a program that was bound to overwork you, and it left you where it had to leave you; right where you started, and very, very worn out."
"So what now?" he said. He looked up at me with big, sad eyes, like my pet Beagle, and I began to feel slightly sick.
"Fred, don't look at me like that."
"Nothing. Listen; you wanna know what you're going to do?"
"Okay. You start by taking a clear month's layoff. Rest, relax, and forget about training."
"For a whole month?"
"Yes, for a whole month. Ordinarily I suggest a one or two week layoff, but you're much too overtrained. You need complete rest and lots of it."
"Okay, so I rest for a month. Then what?"
"Then you'll start training again. Only this time you'll train properly. Three days a week. No more. If you find that you're pretty tired, then cut your training down to two workouts a week."
"And what program do I use?"
I reached for a paper and pencil and wrote out the following routine:
Warmup with prone hyperextensions, 1x20.
1) Military barbell press, 4x5
2) Squat, 2x15
3) Pullover (between each set of squats), 1x20
4) Bench press, 4x5
5) Stiff legged dead weight lift, 2x15
6) Bentover barbell row, 5x8
7) Leg raises, lying or hanging from chinning bar, 1 set, till tired.
I handed the program to Fred.
"Gee, this sure doesn't look like too much work," he muttered.
"It's not supposed to be 'too much' work," I said. "In order to gain size and strength you've got to use a program that will stimulate growth and work the large muscle groups of the body 00 namely the legs and back. I can assure you of one thing, though." I said.
"If you train as hard as you're supposed to on this program, you'll have trouble walking out of the gym."
"Aw, c'mon," he said skeptically.
"C'mon, my foot," I said. "Listen, Fred, if you ever saw any of the really massive, herculean-type bodybuilders or lifters train, you'd notice one thing, and that is; All of the Supermen got that way by heavy training on good, basic workout routines. Reg Park, for example, spent plenty of time working his squats, presses, and rowing exceptionally hard, but for all practical purposes, he only played around with the lighter stuff like all of the pumping movements you see so widely exploited in popular muscle magazines. To get big, work BIG!"
"No kidding," said Fred. "This is the way to grow, huh?"
"Yes, Fred; heavy sensible programs are the answer to acquiring big, massive development and power."
"And I should work out three times a week? That's all?"
"That's plenty of training. And never let your workouts take more than an hour. You know," I said, "you'd be amazed when you realize another very interesting fact about the time element involved in advanced weight training."
"That there is no difference whatever between the really advanced men who take about an hour to train and the muscleheads who live on an exercise bench year in and year out for hours a day. The body can take only so much heavy training, after that point is reached you'll build up if you rest and eat well. But if you overdo it you'll tear down what you're trying so hard to build up. If you happen to be an easy gainer, you might progress on a super schedule but even then you are really wasting your time and energy after the first hour or so of hard, hard work. An hour or so of good, heavy training three times a week is more than enough for spectacular results. You don't need more than that."
"Gee, I guess that the stuff I had been reading wasn't too accurate."
"No, Fred, to say the very least that stuff was NOT accurate."
"Okay, so how heavy should I train?"
"To your absolute limit. Use enough weight to make the bar bend when you do squats, and keep forcing the poundages way up in every exercise you do."
"And then I'll gain?"
"Okay, I'll try your routine -- next month, that is."
Fred tried the routine. He gained more muscular weight than he'd ever thought possible. His bodyweight climbed and kept on climbing like a thermometer in the tropics. In three months he was 28 pounds heavier and every ounce of the weight was pure muscle.
If you've been trying to pack on solid bodyweight and again and again found that nothing has helped, remember and FOLLOW these tips and training hints for the next few months. You'll be astounded by the results.
1) Train three days a week on alternate days. NEVER MORE.
2) Limit your training time to one hour.
3) Get 9-10 hours of sleep every night.
4) Drink 2-3 quarts of whole milk every day.
5) Take a liver-iron-B-complex vitamin supplement with your meals.
6) Build your routines around these exercises:
a) Squat, parallel and breathing style.
b) Press, military and behind the neck.
c) Bentover row, barbell or heavy dumbbell.
d) Bench press.
g) Dead lift, regular and stiff legged.
h) Power clean.
Train as we've outlined here and great results are sure to follow, and FAST! We'll talk more about diet, rest, training routines and the best exercises for super development in future articles. Until we do, HIT THOSE WEIGHTS!
Enjoy Your Lifting!