Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Weightlifting For The Bodybuilder - Bob Gajda

Louis Abele

Bob Gajda

Sergio Oliva

Weightlifting For The Bodybuilder

by Bob Gajda

Several years ago I asked Bob Hoffman for a critique of my physique, and what I needed to become Mr. America. Bob said, “In my opinion you have gone as far as bodybuilding can take you. What you need is some Olympic lifting to mature and toughen your physique.” At the time I thought Bob was, as always, trying to recruit weightlifters so I continued on in my usual way. The first time I entered the Mr. America contest was in 1964, and I placed 11th. I thought it over and decided to give lifting a try.

Sergio Oliva, my training partner, and I planned to work Olympic lifting three days a week and bodybuild three days a week. So, we worked, and believe you me it was rough. We made an agreement that he would teach me everything he knew about the three lifts, and I would do likewise in bodybuilding. To tell the truth, neither of us realized what we were getting into. We both love competition, and this we definitely had! I would eagerly plan the toughest bodybuilding routine I could think of, and I would try to best Sergio, and he in turn would stay awake at night thinking of some torturous routine that would make me submit. The results were great, for both of us had made so much improvement that no one could believe it. At the Mr. America contest Bob Hoffman just sort of snickered as if to say, “I told you so.” I was overwhelmed in placing second and the following year I finally won.

After competing in the world championships in East Berlin I really got the bug for lifting and have not done any direct bodybuilding since. The amazing thing is my physique hasn’t suffered any great loss. People tell me that I appear as good as ever and improved in some aspects. One more story and I’ll get to some exercises.

Dennis Tinerino asked me, what in my opinion he needed to win the Mr. America title. I paused a moment and said, “I think Olympic lifting will give you that finished look you need.” To my surprise Dennis took my advice and he has just won the Mr. America title. While the other contestants warmed up backstage, Dennis did snatches. Morris Weissbrot, Dennis’s lifting coach, was so tickled he just had to point it out to me.

In my opinion bodybuilders on the whole lack development of the trapezius and lumbar muscles. The three lifts will really work these areas along with the thighs, lats and deltoids. Olympic lifting is not for sissies, it’s hard, demanding work. So, if you don’t have the guts to give it a real try, don’t waste your time. Every workout is a challenging experience. As you become more proficient the lifts will become easier. When you make a personal record in the snatch, it will feel light because you have developed technique, speed and flexibility.

There are many ways to start in lifting. Essentially, moderation should be used in the beginning. I would recommend that the first month should be devoted to flexibility and learning technique. If you plan on self-educating, you’ll have to study photos and watch other lifters who have some experience and can help you.

First Month

The first month should be devoted to developing motor pathways. By this I mean practice of the three lifts with a light weight. This time is a breaking in period and all you want to do is familiarize yourself with the three lifts. Practice your regular bodybuilding routine as usual and just add fifteen to twenty minutes of practice of the lifts.

Second Month

During this period start to stress the following exercises greatly, for they are the foundation for further development.

1. Squats: front and back
2. Military press
3. Deadlift
4. Shrugs
5. Situps
Work in the other bodybuilding exercises like curls, bench presses, etc., by sequence or any way you prefer.

Third Thru Sixth Month

After the initial two month program you should be ready to undertake a comprehensive two-fold program of bodybuilding and Olympic lifting. There are several ways this can be done and I will outline two alternative programs that can be continued indefinitely.

Six Day-A-Week Program

Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Bodybuilding
1. Squats
2. Military Press
3. Deadlift
4. Regular bodybuilding exercises

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday – Lifts
1. 10 minutes of flexibility exercises
2. Olympic press 5 x 5
3. Power snatch 5 x 5
4. Cleans 5 x 5
5. Jerks 5 x 3
Run ½ mile

Four Day Program

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
1. Flexibility work
2. Squats
3. Military press
4. Motor pathway cleans/snatches
5. Regular bodybuilding exercises

1. Flexibility
2. 3 lifts (technique work, 70%)
3. Track work – 1 mile run

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