Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Greatest All-Time Performers In The One-Arm Swing - David Willoughby

Tromp van Diggelen & Hermann Goerner

Maurice Deriaz


The Greatest All-Time Performers In The One-Arm Swing by David Willoughby (1952)

In making up the table for the lift to be discussed in this article, I was surprised at the number of excellent performances that have been made in the one-hand swing. I had assumed that the top-ranking performer in this lift would be the great German heavyweight, Hermann Goerner (and this turned out to be the case), but otherwise I had little idea who the next-best performers would be or how high their lifts would rate under the percentage systems I have workout out.

Until the official international adoption of the three two-hand Olympic lifts, some twenty years ago, the one-hand swing enjoyed a popularity almost a long-lived as that of the one- hand snatch and the two-hands continental jerk. The earliest records on my list date from the year 1880, when Henri Pechon of Belgium and Dominique Rest (country not stated) each did a one-hand swing of 75 kilos or 165.34 pounds in the heavyweight class. Later on, in 1898, the famous French professional, Charles Poire, swung a dumbbell of 77.5 kilos or 170.85 pounds at a bodyweight of 198 pounds. Poire made this lift with his left hand, but as he was naturally left-handed the lift rated no extra merit on this account. In the same year (1898), Bruno Jost set a German heavyweight amateur record by swinging a kettlebell of 80 kilos or 176.37 lbs. However, since about 9% more weight can be swung with a kettlebell than with a levelly-loaded dumbbell, Jost’s lift was actually equivalent to swinging a dumbbell of about 162 pounds. The pioneer professional strongman, Eugen Sandow, incidentally, is credited with having swung a kettlebell of 80 kilos and a dumbbell of just under 160 pounds. Presumably he made these lifts sometime in the early 90’s, when he was at his best as a lifter.

The first one-handed dumbbell swings of outstanding merit were not made until the years 1904-1907, when a number of French professional lifters, headed by Jean Francois le Breton and Gabriel Lassartesse, gave the lift some serious attention. It was during that year, too, that a French amateur, Eugene Goleau, made one of the most meritorious swings on record, which will be described shortly.

Before commenting, in order, on the various records listed in the adjoining table, it should be emphasized that two styles of dumbbell swinging. Classic French style, was used by all continental exponents of the swing from the 1890’s until the lift virtually ceased being practiced in the early 1930’s. In this style, a “level-ended”, or balanced dumbbell was used. Usually the bell was either solid iron or of the shot-loading, hollow type. The bell was generally started from a position in advance of the lifter’s feet, from where it was swung backwards between the legs, then overhead, the lifting arm being kept essentially straight throughout.

The second style of one-arm swinging, which may be termed the British style, was devised and adopted by the English school of lifters about 1914 or 1915. After World War I, when athletics were returning to normal, this style of lifting became very popular during s 1919-1925 among British amateur lifters. In this style, a plate-loading dumbbell was used, and was given a “back-hand” by loading the rear end of the bell 10, 15, 20, or in some cases as much as 40 pounds heavier than the front end. This made the back, or lower end of the dumbbell hang downwards, thereby lessening the effort needed to keep it in fore-and-aft balance, and making it possible to pull the bell upward in somewhat of a straight line rather than a semi-circular arc. In grasping the handle of the bell, the hand was placed close to the innermost of the front discs. Then, when the bell was lifted off the ground, the back-hang caused the innermost front disc to rest heavily against the wrist or the forearm, which could be quite painful; a leather “gauntlet” was worn as the dumbbell was lifted. Finally, even the swinging itself was different from that used in the French or continental style, as the bell was started from a position slightly behind the mid-line of the feet, then given a preliminary half-swing before it was lowered nearly to the ground and on the second swing taken to the finishing position overhead. With all these innovations, one would suppose that considerably more weight could be raised in the British style of one-arm swinging than in the continental style, yet the actual poundage difference was only about 6%. This difference has been taken into account in rating the lifters (some of whom used the continental style, and others the British style) listed in the accompanying table. I have taken it that the average or typical ratio of the poundage possible in the continental style one-hand swing to that in the two-hands clean and jerk with barbell is as .5672 to 1.000, and that the “poundage-possibility” in the British style swing is similarly .6000 to 1.000. These ratios, for the swing, apply to the right, or stronger, arm. In the accompanying table, every one of the lifts recorded was made with the right arm, although one lifter, W. A. Pullum, was able to swing the same poundage also with his left arm.

The greatest one-hand swing performer on record was, as was previously indicated, the German heavyweight, Hermann Goerner. While still an amateur lifter, Goerner, in 1920, at a bodyweight of 220 ½ pounds, swung a solid lead dumbbell equal in poundage to his own bodyweight (100 kilos). This, taking into account his weight/height (220.5 – 73.0, or 3.021) and the year (1920) he made his lift, gives him the exceedingly high rating of 87.9%. This lift of Goerner’s, incidentally, rests on the published statement of Tromp van Diggelen, as it is not listed in Edgar Mueller’s biography, “Goerner the Mighty”. The various other swing lifts by Goerner therein recounted, however, indicate conclusively that he was capable of a single dumbbell swing of a least 100 kilos, possibly more.

Closely following Goerner, in position No. 2 on my list, is the Irish amateur lifter, Michael Stokes, who, using the British of “back-hang” style of one-hand swinging, sometime about the year 1921, swung 168 ½ pounds when weighing only 140 pounds himself. While I do not know what Stokes’ height was, I believe he was described as somewhat tall and slender in build. If this were so, my estimate of 66 inches for his height would err, if any, on the side of understatement. If he was any taller than that, his rating might equal or even surpass that of Goerner’s. In any event, he is definitely ahead of his next-lower competitor and was beyond question a phenomenal performer in this one lift on which he specialized, the swing.

The number 3 performer on my list is an otherwise little-known amateur French lifter, Eugene Gouleau, who way back in 1907, at a bodyweight of 156 ½ pounds, swung a level-ended, shot-loading dumbbell of 75 kilos or 165.34 lbs. As in Stokes’ case, I have had to estimate Gouleau’s height, but in this instance, not knowing what his build was, I have taken for his height a fair average figure. As Gouleau was active at the same time as were some of the great French professional exponents of the one-hand swing, it is probable that he acquired his extraordinary ability at this lift under their supervision.

A “surprise” performer is No. 4, who turns out to be Thomas Inch, the famous old-time professional strongman an physical culture instructor. Back in 1907, Inch, who then weighed only 161 pounds, is a contest with the then equally famous lightweight, William P. Caswell, did a one-hand swing with 160 pounds – within one pound of his own bodyweight. Taking into account that Inch stood 5 feet 10 inches in height, and so weighed only 2.3 pounds per inch of height, his lift was a remarkably fine one. It materially surpassed in merit all his other lifts, including his well-known mark in the bent press from shoulder of 304 ½ pounds. The latter lift was made in 1913, and Inch then weighed 200 pounds.

Fifth-ranking place is held by one of France’s pioneer professional weight-lifters, the well-known Jean Francois LeBreton. On July 12, 1907, at a bodyweight of an even 200 pounds (and a height of 67.7 inches), LeBreton did a one-hand swing of 90.5 kilos or 119.51 pounds. In merit, the lifts by Gouleau, Inch and LeBreton are practically equal, rating 85.8, 85.6 and 85.4%, respectively.

Sixth place is held by the famous Hermann Saxon, who, back about 1905, at a bodyweight of 168 pounds, swung a levelly-loaded dumbbell weighing 170 pounds. This lift rates 84.4%, definitely below the lifts by Gouleau, Inch and LeBreton, but still of very high merit.

Seventh place goes to the old-time French light-heavyweight professional lifter and wrestler, Gabriel Lassartesse, who swung 80 kilos or 176.37 pounds at a bodyweight of 174 pounds, a height of abut 67 inches, and a weight-height of about 2.6 pounds. Lassartesse had an extraordinary development of the thigh extensor muscles, and was able to perform successive knee-bends (on toes) with 300 pounds. This leg strength doubtless enabled him to dip and arise easily under any weight that he was able to swing, snatch, or clean.

Eighth place is held by another celebrated old-time European professional, the Swiss lifter Maurice Deriaz. Actually, both Lassartesse and Deriaz have the same rating, 84.2%. Deriaz made his lift in Paris in 1912, swinging with one hand a dumbbell weighing 92 kilos or 202.82 pounds. This was for a number of years the world’s heavyweight professional record. Deriaz weighed 208 pounds at a height of only 66.1 inches, but probably carried about 10 pounds useless fat at that bodyweight. This I have allowed for in rating his lift. He dipped very low in getting under his swings, actually, doing a full, flat-footed squat. Despite being of Herculean build, Deriaz was very quick in his lifting. As readers may recall, he also held, contemporaneously with his swing record, the world’s heavyweight professional record in the one-hand clean and jerk.

Ninth place goes to a more recent performer, the French lifter Ernest Cadine, who, in 1925, as a professional swung 90 kilos or 198.41 pounds, which was 3.4 pounds more than his own bodyweight at the time. Cadine’s best muscular bodyweight, however, was probably not over 180 pounds, and this is the weight upon which I have computed his rating. Cadine was a fine, polished, all-around lifter, and would have shown to even greater advantage had not his famous rival, Charles Rigoulot, come along at the same time. Cadine’s one-hand swing of 198.4 pounds, at an estimated muscular bodyweight of 180 pounds, brings him a rating in this lift of 83.9%.

Tenth place, coincidentally, is held by Charles Rigoulot who in 1924, when weighing 190 pounds, swung 91.5 kilos or 201.72 pounds. This lift rates 83.6%. Later on, in 1932, when weighing very much more, Rigoulot swung 99.5 kilos or 219.36 pounds. This, next to Hermann Goerner’s 220.45 pounds, is the best swing in absolute poundage on record. Due to Rigoulot’s greater weight/height, however (even at the reduced estimated bodyweight of 215 pounds), his 219 pound swing rates only 78.5% and is not listed in the adjoining table.

No detailed comments need be made on the lifts ranking lower than tenth place in my table, with the following exceptions. Emile Deriaz (rank No. 17), who made an official swing with 194 pounds about the same date, made an unofficial lift of 91 kilos or 200.62 pounds. The latter lift, if acceptable, would rate 82.9% and would put Deriaz in eleventh or twelfth place, not far behind his younger brother, Maurice. Samuel Olmstead, in place No. 15, was, and still is, so far as I know, the only American lifter to have gained a rating of 80% or higher in the one-hand swing. Olmstead made his lift of 161 ½ pounds to surpass, even if unofficially, the 160-pound swing made by Thomas Inch some eight years earlier. As Olmstead weighed only a trifle more than Inch (although by reason of being an inch less in height his weight/height was somewhat greater), the comparison in lifting ability was fairly well warranted. Just below the last-ranking man (W. A. Pullum) of the 20 in my list was Otto Arco, who has a rating of 79.3%l. Arco, about 1910, at a height of 62 ¼ inches and a bodyweight of 138 pounds, made a swing of 65 kilos or 143.3 pounds.

Early in the discussion of the one-hand swing, it was mentioned that bout 9% more weight can be swung with a kettlebell than with a lever-ended dumbbell. Also, the swinging of the kettlebell requires a somewhat different technique, since this bottom-heavy apparatus, which is very easy to swing at the start of the lift, has to be turned over on the way upward so as to finish with the handle still above the center of gravity of the weight. This “turning over” of the kettlebell, about the time it reaches the mid-stage of the swing, is usually accomplished by a decided upward thrusting or straightening of the arm, which just prior to this finishing movement was slightly bent. Of course, during this action (which would be far easier to demonstrate than to describe), the ball of the kettlebell comes to rest against the back of the upraised forearm. In other words, during the swinging upward and turning-over of the kettlebell, the position of handle necessarily changes from a fore-and-aft direction (during the swing) to a crosswise direction (at the finish overhead).
Undoubtedly the greatest exponent of kettlebell swinging, as well as of dumbbell swinging, was Hermann Goerner. Holding two kettlebells in his right hand, Goerner, on March 21, 1900, swung (unofficially) 100 kilos or 220.46 pounds – exactly the poundage of his one-hand dumbbell swing which was performed the same year. Officially, Goerner holds the record with two kettlebells of 96 kilos or 211.64 pounds. With a single kettlebell (presumably he could find none heavy enough!), Goerner should have been capable of swinging 9% more than 100 kilos, or 109 kilos (about 240 pounds). Arthur Saxon, whom it would appear was next-best man to Goerner in kettlebell swinging, swung 94 kilos or 207.23 pounds with a single kettlebell and 85.5 kilos (188.5 pounds) using two kettlebells.

In the two-hand dumbbell swing, Goerner did 106 kilos or 233.69 pounds; and using two kettlebells, 115.5 kilos or 254.63 pounds. These lifts show that the poundage-possibility in the swing with both hands simultaneously is an even 6% greater than in the swing with one hand, regardless of whether a comparison is made between the one-dumbbell swing and the two-dumbbell swing, or between the one-kettlebell swing and the two-kettlebell swing. Arthur Saxon’s best swing with two kettlebells was 100 kilos (220.46 pounds), which made Goerner his superior in this lift by no less than 15.5%.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Steve Stanko's Training - Jim Murray

Terry Todd

Steve Stanko’s Training Program
by Jim Murray

Steve Stanko – one of the world’s strongest and best built men of all time – is also one of the unluckiest. Just approaching his prime as a weightlifter in 1940-41, his great lifting career was cut short by a phlebitis condition in his legs which forced him to stop handling heavy weights. Now only 34, it is impossible to conjecture what weights he might have been handling; maybe 340, 340, 420? Who can say?

Before his legs started troubling him, Steve went through the following workout at the York gym:

Press – 305, 315, 320, then 2 sets of 5 with 280, and 4 sets of 5 with 260.
Clean and Jerk – 370, 380, 390 and 400.

His bodyweight was approximately 225 at his height of five feet, eleven inches.

Impossible to make such lifts in training? Steve actually went through this workout one day when, as he says, he was “feeling pretty good.” Of course, the reader must realize that this was just one training period with training lifts that totaled 1,035. After this time, Steve’s legs went bad and he never again reached such heights. It is just unfortunate that no contest were scheduled when he reached this point. Most lifters top their training bests by 10-20 pounds in contest, especially in the quick lifts.

Steve’s “average” training routine was a little less startling, but still so tremendous as to be impossible for anyone but a real superman. Here it is:

300 for 8 singles
260 for 5 sets of 5 reps

300 for 8 singles
260 for 5 sets of 5 reps

360 for 5 sets of 3 reps

Clean and Jerk
370 for several singles

He trained in a sweat suit and warmed up with some light calisthenics before starting to press. This gives an idea why this system couldn’t be adopted by many men – if any. Steve felt that it didn’t take any great amount of energy to do five sets of five snatches with 260! In one workout, Steve recalls making ten single clean and jerks with 380. The first two or three cleans were followed by two jerks from the shoulders.

Other exercises Steve practiced from time to time, while at his best, were the simultaneous dumbbell press, in which he handled a pair of 100’s for 12 to 14 reps, and a pair of 120’s for 8 to 10 reps; the dumbbell swing, in which he used a pair of 100’s for six reps; the squat, with 380-400 for 10 reps; and high pulls to the chest with 350-400 pounds.

He occasionally practiced the rowing exercise with 300 pounds for sets of five reps. Other special exercises were quarter squats with 400 pounds held in the clean position, sets of 10, and he would at times continental 410 or 420 to the chest just to “get the feel of the weight.”

At this time Steve could also work up to 620 in the deadlift and made a perfect curl with 205. Despite his heavy body and legs, he could perform one-arm chins.

Then tragedy struck American weightlifting. Steve became an invalid and dropped in bodyweight to 178 pounds, unable to perform heavy snatches or cleans ever again.

But you can’t keep a good man down! Two years later, although he still had to walk with the aid of crutches, Steve began practicing light dumbbell exercises lying on a bench. The movements he used at first were lateral raises at different angles, pullovers and dislocates, bringing the weights from the thighs sideward to a position behind his head while lying on the bench.

In five weeks time the powerful muscles developed by lifting the heaviest of weights rebounded to near their former size and Steve gained in weight from 178 to 203. As his strength increased, he began practicing heavier exercises seated or lying down. Heavier exercises included the pullover and press on bench (16 inches high) in which he worked up to 322 pounds – never attempting to press more than he could pull over with bent arms. His bodybuilding routine often included 4 sets of 20 bench presses with 205.

Steve also did a lot of dumbbell curling and pressing while seated. He curled sets of 20 (that’s right – 20!) with 50-60 pound weights in each hand and used the same weights and reps while pressing. He also continued the straight-arm movements. At that time Steve never did standing exercises, but once – at the request of a training partner – tried a standing curl. He made 190 in perfect style.

Steve’s titles as a physique contestant bear witness to the success of his comeback. he won the titles of Mr. America 1944, Jr. Mr. America the same year and Mr. Universe 1947, to name the most important. Never a “mirror athlete,” Steve still wishes he could get back into lifting form. If only his legs would let him! “If I could lift,” he says, “I’d practice lots of snatches. Man! There’s an exercise!”

Before trying to adapt Steve’s program to his own poundages, the reader should be warned that few people could follow it. In training, an individual must be guided by his own strength and recuperative power.

After winning the New Jersey state championships in 1938, Steve progressed to total 850 in the nationals the same year; totaled 895 to win in 1939, 950 in 1940, and became the first man to total 1,000 with lifts of 310 ½, 310 ½, 3981 – total 1,002 – at the Middle Atlantic championships of 1941. He had lifted 180, 180, 250 – 610 in 1937. His meteoric rise to fame was made possible because Steve Stanko was a natural athlete.

“Plenty of reps, with heavy weights – that’s my system,” says Steve, “and I recommend a mixture of bodybuilding exercises with lifting. The bodybuilder who practices the lifts will never have difficulty showing that his muscles are strong as well as strong-looking.”

Clean & Jerk Training - John Davis

Tommy Kono

How I Train for the Clean & Jerk
by John Davis
as “told” to John Terpak

To the victor go the spoils, and to the man who makes the highest clean and jerk goes all the acclamation, the plaudits, the admiration – all the expressions of approbation. The press is a good way, if not a completely accurate method, of measuring a man’s strength. The snatch accounts for his agility and athletic talents. But the clean and jerk, to a degree, is a combination of both.

After many world’s championships several of the competing teams make tours of European countries. It was during one of these tours that the American team was giving an exhibition/contest against the German lifters. We were in Munich and Pete George elected to attempt a 353 clean and jerk for his last try. He missed two attempts and then decided on the continental and jerk to make a success. He made it and the reaction of the audience was unbelievable. They stamped their feet, cheered and whistled, and acclaimed him the greatest man of the hour. At the Pan American Games in Buenos Aires he again made a heavy clean and jerk of, I believe, the same poundage. Words fail me to tell how Pete was received by these people. Despite the fact that, in some countries outside of the continental United States, it is considered in bad taste to whistle at someone on a stage, these people voiced their approval of his tremendous effort in uninhibited fashion. The show was held up for no less than eight minutes while the audience did everything short of wreck the building to show their enthusiasm.

How did Pete, as well as the other lifters, acquire the technique and strength to perform these terrific lifts? Approaching contest time, all lifters train pretty much the same way on this lift. That is, they train on extremely heavy single attempts. Among the squatters, however, I’ve noticed repetition cleans are not common practice even during preliminary training. This is probably due to the fact that it is very difficult to maintain balance through several tries with this style. I have noticed, over the years, that squatters perform quite a number of heavy cleans in repetitions of twos and threes. My own method of training goes like this:

205 x 6 reps
205 x 6 reps
255 x 3 reps
275 x 3 reps
300 x 1 rep
315 x 1 rep
325 x 2 reps x 8 sets

In addition, I do 3 sets of 5 squats with 450 and 5 sets of 3 bench presses with 340. This routine is part of my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday workouts.

This workout has been planned so as to get the most strength with the least amount of time. I always workout by the clock. I do a lift or exercise every five minutes. In the case of the squat I take 15 minutes rest between attempts. Some lifters are inclined to sit around and waste too much time talking or joking with one another and, before they know it, it is time to close shop and go home.

About two or three weeks before a contest I change over my repetitions to single attempts. By so doing I can handle much heavier weights, thereby gaining additional strength. I also make the same practice on the squat and bench press as well. I discontinue the latter two lifts 7-10 days before a contest and take a complete rest from all lifts three of four days before contest time. Assuming I was to compete in a contest the last Saturday of the month, my workout would go something like this:


136 x 6
136 x 6
205 x 3
205 x 3
Limit poundage for six singles


Same as press except that my limit poundage would be considerably less. Most likely I would use about 275 for six single attempts in the snatch.


205 x 6 reps
205 x 6 reps
350 x 6 singles

I repeat the workout as outlined above on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. During the latter part of the third week I discontinue the two power exercises, the bench press, and the squat. I take my last workout on Tuesday or Wednesday of the last week.

Many inquiries have been made regarding my limit training poundages. People ask what is the most I have cleaned and jerked in training, and the same question about my snatch and press. I make it a point never to try myself out in training and when I tell people that my best practice clean and jerk is 370, my best snatch 280, they are quite surprised. I explain that these lifts, well below my best in contests, are because my individual temperament will not allow me to get into a competitive mood in practice. I believe the release of nervous energy and explosive power is an involuntary mechanism and is only active under certain competitive conditions. This is demonstrated, to some extent, by men who find it impossible to train alone; they find it necessary to have someone present to watch them train.

Should these individuals train alone, they find it impossible to lift heavy weights and, in some cases, talk themselves out of training altogether. For this reason I never try myself out during training and try to do my best during contests. But for those who cannot stand the suspense and want to know how they are doing, I would suggest the following: Try yourself once a month. Get a good rest the night before and warm yourself up thoroughly. Proceed along the lines of a contest and make only three attempts in each lift. Only make a fourth attempt when trying to break a personal record. I have never been in favor of weekly tryouts because I do not feel that the human body can bring itself to a productive peak this often. Also, the individual is inclined to think the system of training he is following is no good because he cannot break a personal record or equal his best each week.

If a man’s training mates are judging his lifting, they should tell him when a lift is bad. Don’t tell the man who is trying himself out, “Oh, that wasn’t too bad,” or “So-and-So got a lift passed that looked like that.” ‘Passing’ bad lifts in training may give a lifter a wrong impression of what he can do and result in his starting too high and possibly cause three misses.

If you are the type of lifter who finds it difficult to make weight for a contest, here are a few suggestions: Do not attempt to make weight over long periods of time. That is, don’t start to reduce a month before competition. Do not starve yourself, especially if you are only six or seven pounds over the limit. Chances are you can take off this much weight in five days by simply cutting down your liquid intake. Leave running and steam baths to the prize fighters and resort to them only as a last ditch attempt. If you are 10 to 15 pounds over the weight limit, it is better that you condition yourself for the next higher weight category.

Usually, weigh-in time is one hour before the start of competition. Should you find that you are a pound of a fraction of a pound over the limit at that time, do not worry about it. Chew gum and discard the saliva, and remain in the men’s room to relieve yourself of as much waste matter as possible. Vigorous and prolonged rubbing of the buttocks will also take off a few ounces. Certain topnotch lifters have been known to use strong cathartics in order to reduce. While this is done, large quantities of watery evacuations are discarded; since two-thirds of the human body is water, bodyweight can be controlled – to a degree – by retention of removal of this liquid. It is not, however, a healthful or natural practice to control one’s weight in this manner.

The training methods in this article are not meant to be cure-alls for sluggish lifting. Nor are we saying that because these methods work for John Davis they will necessarily work for everyone else. These are, however, tried and proven approaches and will (with adjustments to suit the individual) work very well in many instances.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Snatch Assistance Movements - Charles Smith

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Snatch Assistance Movements and Routines of the Champions
by Charles A. Smith

Assistance exercises have a definite place in Modern Lifting and greatly help the lifter to maintain basic power and increase it. Not only do they have strength-building qualities but they also build speed and suppleness. For instance, one of the main causes of a lifter’s inability to fix a heavy weight overhead or get low enough in a split is tightness of the shoulders or hips. With tight shoulders, the lifter cannot take the bar back and in line with the hips. With a position in which the bar is too far forward, the weight cannot be held and if the lifter does not have the experience to rock forward or bend back, the attempt is lost. Please do not misunderstand me. I do not recommend a back bend or rock forward since these only bypass the fault and don’t cure it. In the case of stiff hips, the lifter has the weight pulled high enough and gets it into correct position but cannot get low enough, and so presses the weight out. Here are some assistance movements to loosen tight shoulders and hips.

Illustration C - Shoulder Loosening - Dislocates

Use an ordinary exercise bar or wooden dowel. Hold it at arm’s length overhead with as wide a grip as possible. The bar should be just a couple of inches above the top of the head. From here lower it to the front so the bar rests across the top of the thighs. Keep the body upright and from this starting position swing it up and over the head in a complete circular motion until the bar is resting across the rear of the body. As the bar travels over the head, thrust the head forward and pull out on the bar without moving the hands. Swing the bar from the back to starting position again in front of the body and repeat. Gradually decrease the distance between the hands progressively each workout.

Illustration D – Hip Loosening

Here is an excellent movement to make the hips and thighs more flexible. Stand between a pair of squat racks, holding on to them with the hands at arm’s length. Split the feet, one to the front and the other to the rear. When you are as low as possible sway the body forward and back, making every effort to go lower into a split. Recover to upright position, take a brief rest and change position of the thighs, forward with the foot previously splitting to the rear and taking the foot previously splitting to the front, backwards. Rock the trunk backwards and forwards again.

Developing Pull

Once you have perfected your style (and few have), the only thing that will help you is increased strength. First, you must examine your snatching with an impersonal and critical eye and see exactly what you need. You must determine if your pull is weak, if your thighs or lower back need more strength. Try the following exercises. Use them conscientiously and with plenty of determination to root out faults in style and muscle weakness, then repair and strengthen.

Illustration E – Developing First Pull

Start off with a weight you can handle for six reps. Grasp it with your usual hand spacing for the snatch. With all your power, pull it waist high and make every effort to hold it there for a short pause before you lower it to the floor again. Repeat the exercise 3 sets of 5 reps. Make every effort to increase the sets by one rep until you are using 3 sets of 7 reps. Then increase the resistance by 10 pounds, dropping back to 5 reps, 3 sets again.

Illustration F – Developing Second Pull

Strap a good lifting belt around you. The belt should have a large buckle. Take a fairly light poundage for a start. Use your normal snatch-width grip. Rest the bar on the buckle of the belt and from this commencing position – with no bending of the legs or back – pull the weight to arm’s length overhead, splitting or squatting in the usual manner under the weight as soon as it is sufficiently high. Don’t forget, the legs and back MUST NOT be used to start the weight on its way. Lower the bar to the buckle again and repeat. Start off with a poundage you can handle for 3 reps, 5 sets, and work up to 5 reps, 5 sets. Don’t try to use too heavy a weight on this exercise but concentrate entirely on developing the pull by handling a weight that will enable you to perform the exercise correctly.

Illustration G – Strengthening the Thighs

Developing dynamic power of back and leg, the kind of strength that is a blending of speed as well as force is another must for the lifter. While it is true the ordinary squat is extremely useful, the single-legged squat develops equal power in each thigh and thus acts to prevent over-pulling on one leg when snatching – a common fault. Stand on a box or exercise bench and place a piece of wood under the heel. Practice the movement for several sessions to get the groove, then try holding a dumbbell in one hand when you’re ready. Drop down into a deep squat, keeping the non-exercising leg from contact with the floor. Arise to upright and repeat. Start off with 3 sets of 8 reps and work up to 3 sets of 12 reps.

Illustration H – Strengthening the Lower Back

Back power plays an equally important part as thigh strength in the snatch, especially in the first phases of the pull where the muscles of the thighs coordinate with those of the lumbar region. Rest the bar on strong boxes. Take a snatch-width grip and, with the legs locked at the knees, lift the weight off the box until you are standing upright. From here bend forward stiff-legged, touch the box with the bar and recover to the upright angle again. Don’t bend the legs during the exercise. Begin with a light weight. The movement should be performed fast, with no pause between reps. Start off with 3 sets of 8 reps, work up to 3 sets, 15 reps before increasing the poundage by 10 pounds. Start light.

Exercise I – Developing Pulling Power

The High Deadlift Off Boxes is an excellent power movement, and has as great a mental value as physical. When you get used to handling well over your normal deadlift limit, a snatch poundage feels as light as a feather – a psychological benefit of immense value. This exercise strengthens the entire shoulder girdle and grip, builds up power in the back and thighs, and is one of the most valuable movements in the field of weight training. Rest the plates of the barbell on two boxes so the bar is knee high. Use your deadlift limit, you’ll find you can just about make 3 to 5 reps with it. Your hand spacing should be somewhat narrower than the snatch grip, with a reverse grip employed – one hand palm to the front and the other hand knuckles to the front. About shoulder width grip will be fine. Stand up close to the bar shins touching it, and from this position stand upright gripping the bar. Lower and repeat. Start off with 3 sets of 3 reps. Work up to 3 sets of 8 reps before increasing weight of the bar by 20 pounds.

Snatch Schedules of the Champions

It is easy to give lifters workout programs and these may be used with various degrees of success. But the main effort in the schedule must come from you. Use the following routines. Experiment with them and quickly determine their value to you. Drop those which do not appear to agree with your temperament and energy reserve, and adopt a program that helps your poundages grow steadily higher.

JOHN DAVIS believes in building a high degree of explosive power for the pull and he advises the following schedule. Take a weight equal to 50% of the your best snatch and work out a series of 20 to 50 reps in sets of 3 or 4 reps. Start off with 20 total reps and gradually increase each workout until you are making 50 reps in sets of 5 reps. About three weeks before a meet start to use a fairly heavy poundage. With a 330 ¼ top snatch, Davis uses 8 sets of 2 reps with 260-270 lbs.

LOUIS ABELE, another man who totaled 1000 pounds, had an extremely severe training system. Abele spaced his training so that he worked out every day. He would press one day and snatch or clean the next, using a 5-4-3-2-1 combination of repetitions. Starting with 220 and performing every repetition from the hang, he made 5 reps with his starting poundage, 4 reps with 230, 3 reps with 240, 2 reps with 250 and a single repetition with 260. Then he would drop down to 235 for three hang snatches, then three more with 225 and a final three reps with 215.

Many lifters have found the Static Poundage system very effective, since it builds up not only power but endurance. Take a weight you can handle comfortably for 3 repetitions. Perform 6 sets of 3 reps with it. Each training period increase by one set until you are using 12 sets of 3 reps. At this point increase the reps to 4, dropping down to 6 sets again, working up to 12 sets of 4 reps. When you are capable of 12 sets of 4 reps, increase the repetitions to 5 and perform 5 sets of 5 reps. Increase the number of sets until you are making 10 sets of 5 reps. At this point increase the poundage by 10 pounds and drop back to 6 sets of 3 repetitions, working up in sets and reps as indicated above.

Another successful program for your snatch which can also be used to “rest” up on when advances come slowly with other routines is the following. If your top snatch is 150 pounds, start off with 100 pounds, 3 sets of 3 reps. Rest. Perform 3 sets of 2 reps with 110 pounds. Rest. Then 3 sets of 1 rep with 120 pounds. Drop down to 110 pounds for 3 sets of 2 reps. Reduce the poundage again for 3 sets of 3 reps with 100 pounds.

Another result producing program is as follows. Assuming your top snatch is 150 pounds, perform 3 sets of 5 reps with 100 pounds, 3 sets of 4 reps with 110 pounds, 3 sets of 3 reps with 120 pounds, 3 sets of 2 reps with 130 pounds, 3 sets of 1 reps with 140 pounds. Then 2 sets 2 reps with 130 pounds, 2 sets of 3 reps with 120 pounds, 2 sets of 4 reps with 100 pounds.

It is important to remember that hard work and determination to succeed are the greatest contributing factors to poundage increases. Patience, too, is an important factor. Keeping to a schedule, picking out each little fault in style and correcting it, working constantly to overcome bad lifting habits, approaching perfection as closely as possible . . . this is patience, the ability to stick at a task until the goal is reached.

Don’t be content with a good performance or a reasonable poundage. Always be ambitious, striving to improve form or workload constantly, and remember there are three main things that make a good lifter – Speed – Timing – Strength.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Olympic Assistance Movements - Anthony Ditillo

Otto Arco, age 53

Weldon Bullock

Chuck Sipes

Olympic Assistance Movements For Size and/or Strength
by Anthony Ditillo

There is a very large segment of our lifting and training population which neglects a very important facet of athletic training which, for want of a better name, we will entitle Olympic Assistance Movements. Why these muscle building and power building movements have become ignored by so many otherwise interested trainees is beyond me, unless the reason lies somewhere within the confines of basic ignorance and a repulsion of hard work. To be sure, the basic movements used by Olympic lifters in their quest for Olympic lift proficiency will cause an almost immediate increase within the musculature and the power potential of just about any interested trainee. All that is necessary is a basic understanding of the principles at work and a desire to make use of these facts in order to improve.

To save time and a bit of your patience, I will endeavor to outline the basic movements and how to perform them for the proper training results. But before we get into the actual training movements and the routines used to utilize these movements to greatest advantage, I would like to digress for a moment if I may, on just why this type methodology will work for you in ways impossible for any other.

First of all, it is the intensity of the movements involved which results in such dramatic development and strength increases. You see, in order to perform movements to aid a lifter in Olympic lifting, the movements themselves must be of the dynamic type for best results. This means that not only must the weights be heavy enough to require adequate exertion for correct style of performance, but the movements must be performed dynamically and explosively or the lifting value of such movements is completely lost. This means that the muscles are developed not solely through the muscular overload of the training itself, but also through the intensity of the physical exertions required to move the weights fast, dynamically and explosively with speed and technique being of paramount importance. This is basically why so many other trainees will not incorporate these movements into their routines: they fear the intensity and hard work required.

There is a world of difference between training on basic slow movements in which the trainee “grinds” through each repetition of each set with very little speed or techniques involved, and in the type of speed of movement necessary when utilizing these Olympic movements in your training regime. There is just no way can “grind” up a Power Clean or a High Pull or a Power Snatch. These movements must be performed with the utmost speed and explosiveness or the entire effect is lost. It is for this reason that they are so effective as a training medium when combined with basic power movements; they compliment one another and they enable the trainee to develop speed, coordination and a sense of timing and balance possible through no other way. Also, somewhere along the line, they also develop quite a bit of muscle and quite a bit of strength.

For years we have put up with “old wives tales” concerning the incorporating of Olympic lift training within a basic power format. We have heard from one “authority” after another that these movements will not develop any real strength, that they are “all technique” and this has caused many a trainee to overlook these otherwise very effective training mediums. Yet, if one uses sheer objectivity in assessing the value or worthiness of these previously discussed movements and the technical aspects concerning correct performances of the involved lifts and assistance movements, in general, we cannot overlook the apparent fact that such training must help us in acquiring greater muscle, greater muscle density and size, and quicker reflexes and athletic ability.

In order to incorporate these useful movements into your present training routine it is of the utmost importance to outline for you just what is required as far as training methodology is concerned, in order to solidify your understanding of just what you will be doing and how you will be doing it, and for what ultimate goal or purpose such hard intensity work will be done.
For any Olympic assistant movement to be used correctly, it is necessary to realize that with these movements style plays an important part in the ultimate outcome of the training motive. To try and force up the weights when using these movements will not give you the effect you are looking for. In order for these movements to develop you correctly, you must pay paramount attention to exercise style!

When an Olympic lifter performs a Back Squat, he is not solely interested in how much weight he can “shift” up, he is interested in working primarily his frontal thigh muscles without utilizing the muscles of his lower back and hips. What he tries to do is perform the Back Squat in such a way as to localize his exercise so that the developmental value of the movement is intensified within the muscles of the thigh. By placing the bar high on the traps and using the knees as the axis of the movement, by way of rotating the body around the knee and not rotating the body around the hip, he is able to utilize the isolation principle of training and the end effect is a pair of very muscular, impressive legs! Also, he is not apt to become poundage happy in his leg training since his leg work is a means to an end (increased lifting performance) and not an end in itself. This will enable him to train quite comfortably within his present physical capabilities without the constant urge to see how much he can lift for one repetition. This also will alleviate most training injuries, since the brunt of the work done will be done with weights not too difficult to handle.

What all this means for the average trainee is that by utilizing these movements we “free” ourselves from overtraining and overstraining which usually happens with powerlifts as a rule of thumb, followed for any length of time and with any regularity. By using the assistance movements to supplement our training, we are given an emotional break so to speak, with the end result being a rekindling of training desire, after a sweet respite incorporating these movements. We must also mention that these movements will strengthen us for practicing the powerlifts, since they basically take the different powerlifts and make you perform a close “cousin” of a sort, with speed, technique, and explosion. Then, when we revert back to the usual lax method of performance, the lifts improve since they gave been strengthened through the full range of motion with a style which usually borders on the ridiculously strict side!

What the end result of this situation usually is, is a change in the ability of the trainee to utilize explosiveness when he is called upon to lift his maximum in a powerlift and also, his musculature usually is greatly changed and developed.

By now, you are probably wondering just what kind and how large a variety of movements we have to choose from when deciding to utilize this training medium. There are usually a few movements for each bodypart and also, there are usually quite a few deviations of the basic powerlifts, done in specific ways, with the results being a much harder workout for the affected muscles due to the strictness of the style of the movements employed.

There is no way you will be able to learn good operational technique in these movements without having an experienced Olympic lift trainee coaching you for quite some time, watching your performances and keeping track of your style improvement and your over-all progress. For from it being helpful, such coaching is necessary if you are to reap much muscle-stimulating value from these types of exercises. However, since most of you are not that interested in having yourselves be coached to any great extent, and since the aims of most of you are not to become proficient at the Olympic lift competition, it will not be necessary to go to such extremes in your training in order to obtain much in the way of benefits such training will bring out in you.

By studying the basic explanations as to how to best employ the various movements, you will develop a certain amount of training style and technique, enough to utilize these movements with great success in your musculature and in your basic lift training proficiency. By remembering that the training ideology of these movements lies not within the amount of pounds lifted for each set, but within the quickness, explosiveness and dexterity of each exertion, you are already part way home, so to speak. By continually trying to improve your lifting ability through proper technique, without the constant forcing and forcing heavier and heavier exertions, you will learn that these movements must be performed correctly for the best of results to take place and when you have learned this, you have learned practically all you have to know!

When attempting to utilize the proponent theories of such Olympic lift assistance movement training you must keep uppermost in your mind that this system of exercise movements are primarily athletic in nature and their chief value for you as an all-around trainee lies in their mode of performance and their strictness and intensity.

While discussing these assistance movements we should at this time list most of them for you, along with the particular powerlift they have the most effect of strengthening. For the squat we have the Olympic Back Squat and the Front Squat. These two leg movements when utilized in the way I will outline for you later on in this section of Chapter 5, will literally revamp your entire lower body musculature while at the same time increase your overall squatting proficiency when the laxer power style of squatting is once again employed.

For the deadlift, we have the various High Pulls, with close and wide grip. Shrug Pulls with both style grips also, and finally we have the Stiff Legged Deadlift from the floor, from the knees, and from the standing block. making the bar closer to the floor. We should also mention the Prone Hyperextension, which will thoroughly congest the lower back as well as develop for you a strong tie-in between the lower body and the upper body, which is necessary to be successful at heavy squatting and deadlifting in the conventional manner. We have not even begun to mention the various kinds of cleaning movements from the floor, from the hang, off of blocks, etc., and by now you should be able to see that it is the pull which is of primary importance in Olympic lifting.

For increasing the bench press, there is also quite a list of assistance movements which can be utilized for good training effects. The Seated Incline Press at 45 degrees, the Steep Seated Press at around an 80 degree angle, the Push Press from a Rack, and the Jerk From the Shoulders all make up a pretty good selection of exercise movements to choose from. What these movements do is work the muscles of the shoulder girdle and the triceps muscles quite hard and quite completely, and when coupled with heavy bench work, success is almost guaranteed. The strictness of performing the Steep Seated Presses will strengthen your shoulder girdle muscles like nothing else under the sun, and it will take a very strong man to handle over three hundred pounds in this movement, utilizing a pause at the chest and no bouncing and heaving and keeping the body solid and rigid under the weight with the back flush against the back support of the bench. This movement is paramount in developing frontal deltoid power and we all should know by now that bench pressing success relies upon having strong deltoids!

The physical results of utilizing these assistance movements , borrowed from the Olympic lifters, are varied and many. By incorporating these movements into your routine you are sure to see a difference in your musculature, given enough energy and training time. I would say that the lower thighs and the entire lower and upper back musculature will be the first areas to develop a difference, both in appearance and in density and power. This is quite simple to explain, as it is due to the complexity and intensity of the different exercise movements and how they develop the involved muscle masses.

By properly using the various pulling exercises, your upper and mid back will grow and become more dense by leaps and bounds. The trapezius muscles will begin to fill out and the overall appearance of your upper body musculature will take on a new, rugged look which will amaze and impress both you and your friends. This will give mute testimony as to the effectiveness of the new movements in your workouts and this should instill in you a desire to continue this type of training for yet more time and energy with a look to the future as to further physical gains.

By incorporating Olympic back squatting into your present squat routine, the lower thigh will take on a new, exciting shape and fullness which will allow you further advances in strength due to the greater musculature developed as well as the stronger frontal thigh muscles which this strict style of squatting will develop. There is no Olympic lifter on the platform today with weak, underdeveloped legs. for strong legs and back are prime requisites for successful lifting. By copying their exercise choices and style of performance, you too will be assured of continued progress as well as increased muscular development. Finally, we come to the shoulder girdle muscles. By far, the most severe type of pressing is the Seated Press on a Steep Incline, set at around 85 degrees. It is almost to cheat in this position and the brunt of the work is performed by the frontal deltoid muscles with secondary consideration being given to the muscles of the upper arms. There can be no cheating, shifting, or bouncing the way it can be done on the flat bench when bench pressing, so the amount of weight will be limited somewhat, but the overall results will speak wonders.

By utilizing these upper body movements within your present pressing routine, you will be developing such an immense amount of size and strength in the shoulder girdle that it will literally shock you! I know. I have experienced this myself. Of particular importance as an assistance movement to increase overall pressing strength is partial pressing on the power rack, with the bar positioned in front as well as behind the neck. This will develop all-around muscular size and power and when the regular routines are instilled once again, the carrying over of these overload movements will bring up your bench pressing power like nothing else will ever do. Finally, by combining these heavy partial overload movements along with the steep seated inline presses, your entire shoulder musculature and power potential will be redeveloped at such a quickened pace that it will be useless for you to purchase any new shirts, etc., for in no time at all you will most assuredly be outgrowing them!

By isolating the lower back while doing Stiff Legged Deadlifts, the legs are not brought into play and the back can be worked quite adequately without the legs combining into the movement thereby taking away somewhat of the developmental value towards the lower back with the thighs taking much of the muscle effectiveness. Also, by standing on blocks so that the bar is at the level of the toes. thereby making it much harder to begin the pull, and also performing this movement with somewhat stiff legs, the muscular effect is twofold, both in its severity and in its effectiveness. Then, when we begin to use the deadlift with the legs bent in the usual performance style, this pre-worked area of the lower back will make itself felt and the increase of the amount of weight capable of being handled will surely show an increase. With the trapezius muscles further strengthened through the heavy shrugs, and the heavy high pulls, it will help you in finishing the top part of the deadlift in the competition style and in the competitive situation. Many times we will see a competitor make the deadlift through the hardest positions (or so it seems) only to lose the lift at a point when the only thing necessary would be a standing erect with a pulling back of the shoulders, and for the life of him, the fellow cannot lock his shoulders back! This is due primarily to a weak trapezius muscle and a lack of power throughout the shoulder girdle. This painful situation can be remedied through the correct application of the described exercise movements of this chapter. With the shoulder girdle further strengthened, the lifter will never fail to get the shoulder back in the finished position of the competitive deadlift and with utilization of the various lower back pulling exercises, you can see how the entire pulling structures of the lower back will be retained, so to speak, to use in a more proficient manner, with the end result being a high lifting total. This then, is the true value of such training.

At this time, it will be necessary and helpful for me to outline for you a series of training schedules utilizing these important assistance movements in order for you to reap the utmost results from your training endeavors and the sweat and strain contained therein. It is my hope that by the utilization of these training aids and principles you will be able to see a difference in your training poundages and in the musculature of the use areas of the body with the end result being a new and improved you!

What we shall do first of all, is to develop for you a routine based around the three power lifts, with each of these lifts being trained on one day per week and on the other training day we will be utilizing the pertinent Olympic assistance movement. This means we will be training four days per week. We will be working the upper body on two days and the lower body on two training days with the emphasis being placed on registering higher totals in the three power lifts. Whether or not any additional weight is going to be gained at this time will depend chiefly upon the diet you choose to follow while on this routine. Therefore, the end result of weight gained or not gained will be left primarily up to you. By following the dietary suggestions of the last chapter, I am sure, for the most part, bodyweight can be gained quite easily with a little bit of experimentation on your part as to what to use for best results.

With this routine there will be listed for you a few basic muscle-shaping movements which can also be utilized with this routine along with the assistance movements already discussed within the section of this chapter, since there will have to be more to the program than four of five lifts, for best all-around results.

Here then is your first listed, four day per week training routine:

Monday and Thursday

Upper Body Work – Bench Press: utilizing a medium grip for all-around muscle stimulation, perform one set of ten reps for a warm-up and then jump to a set of five, a set of three, and finally three single attempts with around 90% of your one rep limit. Steep Seated Inclines: after two warm-up sets, with conservative weight jumps. work up to three reps using all the weight possible. Shoulder Shrug: take fifty or one hundred pound jumps and perform sets of five reps with each weight until you hit a heavy weight for five reps and you should stay with this weight for between five and seven sets of these five repetitions. Barbell Curls: this movement is used solely to bring some work into the upper arms. Perform five to seven sets of five to seven reps with a fairly heavy weight. Lying Triceps Extension: once again, five to seven sets of five to seven reps with a heavy weight.

Tuesday and Friday

Lower Body Work – Power Squat: one set of ten, one set of eight, one set of six, and finally, three sets of three reps using around 85% of your one rep maximum poundage. Olympic Squat: five to seven sets of three to five reps after a warm-up set of ten reps. On this movement you should concentrate on proper exercise form, not weight. Stiff Legged Deadlift: three to five sets of three to five repetitions using a fairly heavy weight and concentrating on proper exercise form and not weight lifted. Prone Hyperextensions: five sets of eight to ten reps using light weight and performing the movement correctly, fluidly, and slowly.

Another way of handling this amount of work is to perform the Bench Press by itself on Monday and on Thursday to work the Steep Seated Incline, once again working it by itself. Also, on the lower body training days, you can do the Power Squat by itself on Tuesday and the Olympic Back Squat by itself on Friday. This would be useful for you if you have a limited supply of training energy and a limited amount of time to train.

For those souls who are not afraid to work like two men to get the goals they have formed for themselves in their mind, I shall now outlined a six day per week training routine. However, we shall limit the amount of work therein in order for most men to gain on it.

On this training program we will be working six days per week and in this way we can incorporate adequate work for the entire muscular system without fear of overtraining or undertraining any particular body part, with the developing of a lopsided lifting proficiency or with the muscular development of a lopsided nature, also. For the lower back we will be utilizing two weekly workouts with the emphasis upon conditioning as well as complete muscular development.

Monday and Friday

Upper Body – Bench Press: one set of ten for a warm-up and then take regulated jumps to a weight you will be handling for three sets of three repetitions. Steep Seated Press: two sets for a warm-up and then jump to a weight you can handle for five sets of three to five repetitions. Press on Rack: five sets of three to five repetitions using an adequate amount of weight.

Tuesday and Friday

Thighs and Hips – Power Squat: five sets of three to five reps working up from a warm-up to the heaviest weight possible for three reps. Olympic Back Squat: five sets of three to five reps using an adequate amount of weight. Front Squat: after one set of ten for a warm-up, jump to all the weight possible for five repetitions and work for three sets of five reps with this weight.

Wednesday and Saturday

Lower Back – Stiff Legged Deadlift: one set of ten for a warm-up then work for rive sets of five to seven reps using a medium amount of weight for resistance. Shoulder Shrug: five sets of five to seven repetitions using heavy weight and good style. Prone Hyperextensions: five to seven sets of eight to ten repetitions using adequate resistance. Arm Work: six of seven sets for the biceps and six or seven sets for the triceps. You can choose whatever barbell movements which may strike your fancy at any particular time. This choice is solely up to you.

The final routine in this section of Chapter 5 will be a three day per week routine, in which we will attempt to utilize the Olympic assistance movements, solely throughout the training week, with the complete lack of other training exercises. In other words, we will be working solely with the Olympic assistance movements for a period of three or so months. In this way, this type of routine could be utilized for a short period of specialization within the non-competitive season of the year. This change of pace would be sure to give you a well-rounded look at these training exercises and training methods and in this way you will gain firsthand knowledge as to how these techniques will work for you.

Since you will only be using the Olympic assistance movements throughout these periods of intense specialization, you will be sure to have more than enough time to incorporate the wide variety of movements which would have had to be reduced somewhat when attempting to couple this work with the basic training exercise movements. This means that the muscles used will be further developed since they will be more than adequately worked from all the possible angles of exercise application. This should increase both the size of these muscles and their density and shape, because you will be using dynamic movements which will completely develop and fatigue the muscle fibers. The density aspect of this exercise methodology will be caused by the complete contraction and extension of the exercise movements and in the manner in which they are performed.

Here then is your final, three day routine:


Partial Press in Power Rack: take fifty pound weight jumps and work up to all the weight you can move from the chin to the height of the eyes, for five reps. Power Clean From Hang: these should be done in sets of fives. Take regular jumps in weight until you are at the maximum weight you can rack for five reps. Olympic Back Squat: you should be taking fifty pound weight jumps until you reach a maximum of weight for three sets of three to five reps. Stiff Legged Deadlift: perform five sets of three to five reps using a medium heavy weight, concentrating on style and not solely on weight used.


Steep Seated Incline Press: after a few light sets for a thorough warm-up, take thirty pound weight jumps until you are at a weight you can handle for three reps. Work with this weight for five sets of three to five repetitions. Jerk Press From Rack: take fifty pound jumps and do sets of threes. Work up to all the weight possible for one heavy triple. Be sure to use correct style. High Pull: take a grip between the Clean and the Snatch grip and perform sets of threes. Taking conservative weight jumps, work up to a poundage heavy enough for three sets of three reps using good style and explosiveness. Front Squat: after a set or two for a warm-up take conservative weight jumps until you are at the appropriate weight for five sets of five reps using good upright style. Prone Hyperextensions: five to seven sets using reps of between eight and twelve.


Seated Press: after one or two sets for a warm-up, take thirty pound jumps and use a five repetition scheme. Work up to a maximum weight for five sets of three repetitions. Shoulder Shrug: take the bar from crotch height in the power rack. Take fifty pound jumps until you reach a maximum weight for five set of five to seven reps. Snatch Grip Deadlift: five to seven sets of three repetitions. Take fifty pound jumps and work up to a maximum set of three repetitions. Partial Front Squat: take the bar from the three quarter position in the power rack. Take fifty pound jumps and work up to a maximum set of five reps.

Three-Day Training split using Olympic Lift Variations

Partial military press (from chin to eyes) - 5 reps, taking large jumps to top set
Hang Cleans - pyramid to top set of 5
SLDL - 5x3-5 (focus on form, not weight)

High Incline - 5x3-5
Jerks - Work up to heavy triple
Clean Pulls – Work up to heavy triple
Front squat - 5x5
Hyperextensions - 5-7x8-12

Seated Military Press - 5x3
Snatch-grip Deadlift - 5-7x3
Partial Front Squats (starting at 3/4 position & going up) - work to top set of 5.

As can plainly be seen, while this routine does not contain the actual competitive lifts which the Olympic lifter uses in competition, the amount of assistance movements are most complete with the exception of the two lifts themselves. In other words, although the competitive two lifts are not included, the workouts are most complete from a developmental standpoint, with emphasis being placed on the muscles which are usually neglected in the usual training schedule.

Whether you have particular aspirations for the lifting platform or whether you are a “dyed in the wool” home trainee, you should really give these Olympic lift movements a decent chance in your schedule to see what changes they can make both in your lifting proficiency and in your muscular development. I am sure, given enough time and training energy, you will be amazed at your rate of progress. Your muscles will be developed from different angles than you are customarily used to experiencing. This may at first seem quite a bit hard and unusual but with patience and practice, you should be able to persevere to a level of capability otherwise unavailable to you, with the customary training routine you have become accustomed to following.

These Olympic assistance movements should not be overlooked by you, though your goals may be somewhat different than the Olympic lifter. For the powerman, the new ways of working the thighs and the lower back will open up new developmental vistas. For the all-around trainee, additional muscle growth is most assuredly guaranteed, with the muscles taking on a new, capable look which will add to your overall physical ruggedness.

Do not sell these movements short by limiting their supposed usefulness to the Olympic lift specialist for nothing could be further from the truth. I am sure, with the addition of all the heavy pulls, shrugs, and squats, your entire physical conditioning and mental outlook towards the value of this kind of training will be greatly changed, for the better I might add.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oscar Matthes - Strength Magazine

Oscar Matthes, age 33

At 72

Oscar Matthes, The Miniature Sandow
from Strength Magazine

Strolling down the streets of Boston came a small man. He was not more than five feet in height and his appearance attracted no undue attention, until he passed in front of a “Y” where a group of young men were standing. Seeing him, one of them declared, “That’s Oscar Matthes!” Immediately the others, all curiously attentive, watched the little man pass on his way.

What does the name of Oscar Matthes mean to you? Probably just the sound of a name, but to all men who are deep into the lore of strongman sport, and particularly to old-timers, that simple name speaks volumes.

In idealizing foreign talent the American strength enthusiast often passes over his own countrymen, until he has become obsessed with the idea that only abroad do prodigies of combined strength and ability exist.

This I know is not so, for we have a wealth of home material that equals of outclasses many of the best foreign men, and among them we have no greater, no more outstanding character than the remarkable Oscar Matthes. His physical achievements seem even mote amazing when we consider that they were performed many years ago, at a time when the science of weight lifting was unknown.

I have often wondered to what height this mighty atom’s lifting records would have soared if he had the competition that exists today.

He first saw the light of day in 1863, at Lawrence, Massachusetts, and he was one of twins. Fate and nature seemed to have conspired against him, for as a child and a growing boy he was a fragile creature, puny, thin and undersized, and apparently the future had little to offer him.

Finally the realization of his physical condition and the full knowledge of the joys he was being deprived of made him rebel and he refused any longer to be resigned to weakness as his lot. Accepting life’s challenge, he stepped out for health and strength, and later, when the curtain rose on his first public appearance at the Lawrence City Hall in 1882, his beautiful physique amazed the spectators. It seemed hard for them to believe that this powerful boy of nineteen summers was the physical weakling of what seemed to be just the day before.

He opened his act with statuesque posing. Every posture, every movement was a poem. His graceful, gliding from one pose to another drew cries of admiration from the throng. A child of nature in its purest physical interpretation, his silent act was crammed with more suggestion, artistry more inspiring than that which a great orator’s performance might contain. He was as perfect in the art of the poseur as he was polished in his skill in handling weights. Fifty and seventy-five pound bells he juggled with remarkable dexterity and handled with ease throughout his entire act.

The occasion happened to be a benefit given to John Meagher, who was at that time the heel-and-toe walking champion of the world. Acting as the Master of Ceremonies was John L. Sullivan, then at his best, and there were many other distinguished athletes of that time present. His first appearance received great publicity.

The praise showered upon young Matthes from the spectators and athletic celebrities alike marked the turning point of his life and determined him on a professional athletic career.

He became a topic of conversation; but even those who remembered his debut on that occasion never dreamed of the part he was destined to play in the world of weights. He has been one of the corner stones in the American iron sport, carving for himself the title of “World’s Champion” in his bodyweight class, a title which has never been erased.

In height he is only four feet, eleven inches. This makes one think that after all, height means nothing in determining the qualifications of a man. In bodyweight he scaled at 108 pounds. You heavy chaps may raise your brows ad wonder what a man could do at that weight. Well, read what follows in this story. You will be surprised.

His remarkable development and the perfect control he displayed over his muscles placed him in high demand as a demonstrator for lectures on art and anatomy. The late Dr. Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard University was a great admirer of Oscar Matthes and often used him for his lectures. He made the statement that Matthes was one of the finest developed men he had ever seen. Such a tribute coming from the lips of Dr. Sargent, who probably has taken the measurements of more athletes than any other man, was the highest compliment that could be paid to a physical culturist of that time.

Every quality he possessed he owed to himself and to the persistence with which he applied himself to his training. He was greatly handicapped by being compelled to use the old-fashioned solid types of dumbbell and bar bell, which were in vogue at that time. The results he secured by such training are but another example of what a man can accomplish.

In dress, he presents the appearance of a schoolboy; but when he strips, he is a revelation.

At this time, Eugene Sandow was at the height of his fame and a writer who had seen Matthes perform, comparing the two in the Boston Sunday Herald of December, 1894, termed him “The Miniature Sandow.”

“One naturally expects a strongman to be a giant in size,” he wrote. “It does not necessarily follow, however, as proven by the case of Matthes, who is about the size and weight of a schoolboy. His appearance in street clothes would not impress one in the least, but stripped, his muscular development would call forth expressions of surprise and admiration. He accomplishes feats of strength which are more phenomenal, bodyweight considered, than those of any other strongman before the public.”

The sobriquet of “The Miniature Sandow” stuck to him throughout his entire career, and is the name by which he is best remembered today. He was a perfect pocket edition replica of the famous Sandow, and on sight one connected the two of them.

In April, 1895, Matthes and Sandow met. The meeting was most dramatic. Sandow had heard so much about the physical likeness of Matthes to himself that he became curious to see this American athlete, and he expressed keen desire to make an appointment with Matthes.

They came together in Sandow’s dressing room when he was appearing at the old Boston Theatre. Greatly impressed by the physical demonstration of Matthes, Sandow rolled a bell over to him and asked him to see if he could lift it. Matthes stepped up, quickly grasped the weight and put it overhead before Sandow and his manager, Mr. F. Ziegfield, realized it had happened. So astonished were they that they became silent. Placing the weight on the floor, Matthes asked how much it weighed. Then, on being told it was 112 pounds, he tossed it up with the left hand and placed it overhead just as easily as he had tossed it overhead with the right hand. It was a fine “clean” lift, being four pounds in excess of his bodyweight. Sandow was amazed and tried his best to induce Matthes to join his company and perform. Unfortunately, however, Matthes was unable to accept this splendid opportunity, much as he would have liked to have done so.

These men became great admirers of each other, and Mr. Matthes still loves to recall the many happy incidents of their acquaintance back in the days when Sandow enthralled the strongman sport.

Oscar Matthes was a very capable all-round athlete and excelled in the field events and wrestling; but his love for the weights claimed him forever as an iron man.

In those far-off days repetition lifting was very popular. That is to say, a lifter would take a certain poundage and see how many times he could raise it to arm’s length within so many minutes.

At this pastime, Matthes was also good, and some of his fine performances follow: Taking a four pound dumbbell he could put it up from the shoulder to arm’s length one hundred-eighty times in one minute, and a six pound bell, one thousand times in ten minutes. He could lift a twenty five pound bell one hundred-eight times, forty pound bell seventy times, fifty pound bell sixty-three times, sixty-five pound bell thirty-eight times, seventy-six pound bell twenty-six times, one hundred pound bell six times, one hundred-ten pound bell three times, and a one hundred-seventeen bell once; all of which lifts were performed in the single-arm push style. In the one-arm bent press he raised one hundred-forty-five pounds with the left hand, and one hundred-fifty-six pounds with the right.

These are all wonderful performances and prove the remarkable calibre of this little marvel; but beyond a doubt, his greatest feat was performed in the two hands anyhow. He first bent-pressed a bell on one hundred-forty pounds and then pulled in with the left hand a kettle weight of eighty-eight pounds, which he raised to arm’s length making a total of 228 pounds. at the time he made this performance, he scaled only one hundred-five pounds stripped, which means he lifted one hundred-twenty-three pounds in excess of his bodyweight. When you figure this out as we do today you realize the Matthes raised eighteen pounds more than double his bodyweight. Truly a stupendous feat! Matthes performed this lift several times in his career and thus became the first American to ever raise more than double his bodyweight in any style of overhead lifting.

Another marvelous feat performed by this mighty fellow was lifting a barrel weighing five hundred-thirteen pounds with his hands. He picked it from a platform eighteen inches high and carried it ten feet, then deposited it upon another platform two feet high. This stunt requires great all-round body power, while some estimation of his arm and shoulder strength can be gathered from his splendid one-arm side press of one hundred-seventeen pounds.

This lift is not a bent press, as many think it. It is a very difficult feat, performed by holding the arm off the side, then bending slightly sideways and pressing the weight to arm’s length at the same time. The legs must be kept straight and no aid can be secured from the body. It is a lift that few athletes can perform successfully. And yet Oscar Matthes, on this occasion, pressed ten pounds more than his bodyweight.

Another of his feature acts was called the “living Roman Column.” In this he seated himself on his partner’s shoulders, who held Matthes’ legs against his chest. Matthes would then bend backward until his hands touched the floor, and with both hands pick up a 125 pound bar bell. From this position he would assume an upright one, and raise the bell to arm’s length above his head. Finally, lowering it again he would bring it back, place it on the floor, and come up to his starting position. This is a most difficult feat, being a terrible strain on both men and requiring remarkable strength of the entire body.

He also performed a one-leg squat with eighty pounds in one hand and fifty in the other, an enormous test of leg strength. Just try it without any weights and get an idea of how difficult it really is to perform.

One time he came across some men struggling to up-end a huge barrel that had a total weight of seven-hundred-twenty pounds. To their utter amazement this prodigy of power stepped in and up-ended the barrel for them, using only one hand.

Tearing cards was another of his pet pastimes. He could tear two decks of cards in half at one time, and tore one deck into halves and then quarters. Nothing was too difficult for this little wonder to do. A perfect sportsman at all times, he is still what we would term “a prince of a man.” Always clean, straight and jovial, he is the respect of all who know him. Still as devoted to the game as he ever was, he is one of the most enthusiastic on the board of directors of the A.C.W.L.A. A man I greatly admire. I take my hat off to this gallant veteran, knowing that I have met a man. Big or small, I respect and admire them, if they have the goods and the sterling qualities that go to make up a true sportsman. These, I know, Mr. Matthes has.

His measurements are very interesting and explain why his striking physique earned for him the title of “The Miniature Sandow.
Neck 14 ¼ inches, chest 40, waist 28, hips 35, biceps 14 ½, forearm 12, wrist 6 ¼, thigh 21 ¾, calf 14 ¾, height 4 ft. 11 inches. His weight varied between 105 and 108 pounds, stripped. Such proportions for a man of his height and bodyweight are extraordinary and compare in proportion with any of the dimensions of men much larger than he.

Nowhere can a finer example of the small-boned man be found. With only a 6 ¼ inch wrist, he developed a beautifully shaped biceps that measured 14 ½ inches in circumference – every bit the equal of a man with a 7 ¾ inch wrist who acquires an upper arm of 17 ½ inches. As a matter of fact, Mr. Matthes’ 14 ½ inch biceps is much better in appearance than the majority of the 17 ½ inch biceps I have seen. It has a muscular definement, a clearer separation, and balances well with the contour of the triceps.

His 12 inch forearm is more unusual when compared with the wrist, and one can readily believe that the ligaments of his entire arm possess unusual strength. This is proven by his remarkable ability in lifting weights way beyond the best standard of men in his bodyweight class. Equally great is the development of his thighs and calves, as his ankle measurement id just as small in comparison as is his wrist. Mr. Matthes should be a fine inspiration for the man whom nature has endowed with a small bony structure. For as the little wonder has often said, “It is all up to the man himself. If he has the grit to persevere and consistently follow through in his training he is bound to see improvement before long.”

I agree with him thoroughly when he says that if one fellow would quit envying the other fellow’s fine physical proportions, and step out to secure results for himself, there would be a better standard of development.

In order to successfully carry out this plan, a body culturist may first know himself by understanding his body. By a personal survey of his own physical make-up he will learn his weak spots, both in strength and appearance, and by an intelligent application of systematic progressive training he will be able to bring the defective weak parts of his body up to par, thus making his progress toward all-round development much easier.

You will notice that as Mr. Matthes became older he grew stouter, but where will you find a man of sixty who can show such remarkable development and separation of muscle as Matthes shows in his latest photos? Particularly if this evident in the biceps and back muscles.

He tells me he feels like a man of thirty, and if it were not for his gray hair you would mistake him for such. He just radiates health and pep. He practices his exercises, but naturally in moderation compared to what he used to do. Still very active, and with the sparkle of youth in his eyes, he can still perform feats of strength that are truly amazing.

Oscar Matthes retired undefeated as the world’s champion and his records have not yet been surpassed at home or abroad. It gives me great pleasure to bring out of the past this miniature masterpiece, for it proves that it is not the material, but what is done with it that counts.

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