Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vern Weaver Bulk Routine - Tommy Suggs

Top - Sergio Oliva, 1964 Mr. America contestant.
Middle - Paul Anderson presses 25 pounds!!!
Bottom - Anderson at 307 lbs. Large at left and right -
Bill and Ed Miller, wrestlers.

I could tell it was just about lunch time as my stomach let out its usual noon time growl and familiar hunger pangs were making themselves felt. Just as I was about to shut my typewriter down for the day and slip out to lunch a few minutes early, in walks Vern Weaver, the 1963 Mr. America, beard and all.

"What's going on in the editorial department," sez he with an accusing smile.

"Not much, just trying to decide on the pictures to use in the Miss World Body Beautiful Contest. Want to help?" I didn't need to ask twice as Weavo (as he is familiarly called) was rummaging through the pictures with a gleam in his eyes.

"Take 'em and see what you think," I said in self-defense. "By the way, have you lost a little weight since the last time I say you?"

Vern didn't particularly want to answer, but managed to get out an irritated, "Yeah, about 10 or 20 pounds."

"Haven't been training much lately, huh," I questioned.

"No, but I'm starting back today. In about a month you won't recognize me," Vern answered defensively. "I'll just go on my bulk-up routine, it always works wonders."

"Bulk-up routine," I asked. "What are you going to do to make all this unbelievable progress."

"I'll train heavy, but not too hard. Just enough to get a good workout. I usually train only three days a week when I'm trying to gain weight and I follow a limited routine. If you want to gain, it's no use keeping yourself exhausted all the time."

"Tell me what exercises you use and how you do them," I asked anxiously as now I had that gleam in my eye, thinking I might get some inside information. I didn't think Vern was really aware that he was revealing his routine as he was so engrossed in sorting through the, uh, photos.

"I have a few basic exercises that I have found by experience work wonders for me. I work hard on these exercises and the bodyweight just seems to come."

Now my curiosity was aroused. Exercises that work wonders?
"Vern," I asked, trying not to rouse him out of his trance, "which exercises do you use, how many sets and reps?"

"Oh, I have about five that I use."

"OK. Five exercises. Which ones?"

Vern looked up and laughed. "You sure are anxious to find out, aren't you? What's it worth?"

I laughed too as I had been caught in the act and Vern was leading me on all along.
"A free home-cooked meal next Saturday," I answered.


"Yeah, steak."

"OK! I have five basic exercises: Decline Bench Presses, High Pulls, Parallel Squats, Wide Grip Chins, and Straight Arm Pulldowns. I usually go as heavy as possible on all five - use as much weight as I can for the rep number. I do about five sets of six repetitions or six sets of five repetitions. Sometimes, I do an extra two or three sets on one of the exercises if I feel real energetic that day. About one day a week I work up to a limit single and then finish off with four or five sets of five or six repetitions. This is not done on Chins or the Pulldowns. That's about all I do except for a little arm work, not much, just enough to get them pumped up a little, some sit-ups, and calf raises.

"What about the exercises. Describe how you do them," I requested.

Decline Bench Presses - I use a medium grip and have the board at about a 30 degree angle. I have done a considerable amount of experimenting and have found I get the best results with this angle and hand spacing.

High Pulls - I do these on the power rack. I set the bar at a height just above knee level and take a regular, shoulder width grip. I pull the bar to just below chin level and try to use quite a bit of speed in this movement so I can use the heaviest possible poundage. Sometimes I hold the last repetition in the finished position for a few seconds before lowering the weight to work the back and traps a bit extra.

Parallel Squats - I also do these in the power rack, setting the bar so my thighs are just above the parallel position. I start from the dead stop position at the bottom.

Wide Grip Chins - Slowly.

Straight Arm Pulldowns - This is a much overlooked exercise. I personally feel this movement in almost every muscle of my upper body.

"Is that all," I inquired.

"Is that all? Just try this routine for a week and ask me that question again. Since this routine contains only exercises that affect large groups of muscles a large number of exercises is not necessary and you recover faster because your muscles have not been subjected to an unreal number of movements, sets, and repetitions. After all, the object is to encourage the muscles to grow, not shrink."

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