Sunday, March 28, 2010

Louis Abele - Chester Teegarden

Louis Abele
by Chester Teegarden


These training programs of Louis Abele have been compiled, organized and now published so that you, the reader, may study them. This publication is the culmination of my original idea. When I first became acquainted with Louis Abele I was impressed that his methods of training procedure should not be lost to humanity in general or to the muscle culture fan in particular. Before becoming personally acquainted with Louis at the Junior National Weightlifting Championships at St. Louis in 1939, and consequently receiving correspondence from him, I had, as a quick-lifting enthusiast and competitor in the AAU, been interested in the training programs of Charles Rigoulot of France. Also of Nosier and Touni of Egypt, Walker of England and Novak of the USSR. Rigoulot has been for more than a score of years the world record holder in the two hands clean & jerk at 402.5 pounds. But, have Rigoulot’s training schedules been recorded and published, making them available and useful to the general public?

Objective data, unrecorded, is soon lost. Stanko and Davis have totaled more than 1,000 pounds on the three Olympic lifts but have their training programs and schedules (which they actually did perform) become objective recorded data? Only RECORDED OBJECTIVE DATA are valuable to a literate people.

These programs of Louis Abele are of value to the average enthusiast because they acquaint him with a field of operation beyond his probably attainable horizon. But it shows you this thing has been done, therefore, broadening your horizon in Muscle Culture. It is easier to follow a path than to blaze a trail. Few of us attain more than 10% of our intellectual potential, so, most of us live well within our capacity even when the energy is present and the facilities are at hand. We lack know-how.

Abele’s training can be useful to you if you adopt his system of progression in poundages and repetitions according to the ease or difficulty of performance. My advice – Study and discuss – Abele.

Chester O. Teegarden, Proprietor Strong Barbell Co., Associate Editor of Iron Man Magazine.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
12 February, 1940.

Dear Chester,

You have my permission to use the idea which I wrote to you some time ago. If you want to write it up please refrain from writing up the Press. I have been experimenting and will have some data in the future regarding the extent of improvement that can be expected. You can mention that I will try to have completed research on the “white mice” (the boys Louis trains) in about two months.

I am expecting to get some photos taken in New York soon. I well send some for publication in the Iron Man.

I broke the World Heavyweight two hands snatch record in the contest at our club (the Lighthouse Boys’ Club, Philadelphia) on the tenth of February. The former record was held by Ronald Walker of England at 292½. I did 296. My total was 941 (280, 296, 365).

Yours truly,
Louis Abele

Quick Lifting Training Schedule

Dear Chester,

I was pleased to receive a letter from you so soon after the Junior Nationals. I had not expected one for some time. It seems as though you are in earnest in regard to your lifting and your desire to improve. I can not specifically advise you what to do, but I can give you my opinion regarding some of your problems. You wrote, in part, that you had been training for some years, three times a week. Why don’t you try training six times a week? Training six times a week may make you snap out of your present slump. I have observed numerous instances of young men who have approximately the same problems as you, and they have benefitted from training more often. One fellow in particular made tremendous improvement by training eight or nine times a week; once or twice in the afternoon, then every evening in the week. The extras were only partial workouts. The times between workouts enable greater effort to be utilized in each individual attempt. If I remember correctly his total jumped from 565 to 675 in four months time as a lightheavyweight. He did not work or engage in any other activity. He also slept the greater part of the day.

I tried training every day in the week and improved considerably. but as I think I told you in St. Louis, my deltoids gave out. That is, they pained me so in lifting that I had to discontinue my training. I have not come up to the lifts that I made in any contest I have entered since. I had pressed 265, snatched 275, clean & jerked 340 for a total of 880.

In training every day do only presses one day and snatches or cleans the next day, and press again the third day. Do the following repetitions. I will list what I did.

Press –

Snatch – all from dead hang

This is not as difficult as it looks, since you do only one lift in a workout period. Do nothing else. That means squats, dead lifts, etc. Strange as it may seem, you will more than likely improve in your squats due to the lifts. I had not squatted for about 1½ years; and when I went back to try myself I did 15 repetitions with 400 pounds so easily that I think I could do about 20 or 22 reps in a couple of weeks.

It may interest you to know that Constantine Kosiras, the Greek fellow at our club, made a remarkable improvement. He had been doing nothing but squats for some months and then tried himself on the lifts one day. His press came up from 170 to 190, his snatch from 195 to 220, and his clean & jerk from 235 to 260. His bodyweight had also increased from 172 to 185, due to the squats, and previous to this new improvement in lifting.

I hope that anything I may have written will give you some helpful suggestions to incorporate in your training, and, hoping I will hear from you in the near future, I remain,

Louis Abele

A Biographical Sketch

29 February, 1940

This is an answer to your letter asking for a short biography of myself. I was born in the Province of W├╝rttemberg, Germany, on November 7, 1919. My ancestors were farmers, foresters and quarry workers. I lived in the hilly country.

We came to the United States when I was five years of age and in the following years I engaged in the ordinary activities of boyhood. I noticed early in life that I could outrun and outjump my companions with ease. I was interested in gymnastics before lifting became my greatest interest, and often remained in the gymnasium for hours. Swimming was also one of my favorite pastimes.

My first attempt to lift a bar bell resulted in my pressing 100 pounds. I started training on progressive weight training and body building at the age of 15 after watching older fellows practicing lifting at the Lighthouse Boys’ Club. At that time I was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 130 pounds. I had an inborn desire to be stronger than the next fellow and the environment also had a great bit to do with my urge for strength. My father often spoke of our powerful ancestors and he, himself, was considered the most powerful man in the surrounding district.

I had many teachers during my initial period of training due to the leader plan in the Lighthouse Boys’ Club. When a fellow reaches 21 at the club and is particularly suited to teach younger fellows, he is asked to stay on and become an unpaid member of the staff. His only reward is the continued use of the facilities of the club and the pleasure of watching the progress and development of the younger members. (There are also some junior members who, because of their unusual ability in their particular activity, either sport or social, become ideal teachers.) At present I am a junior leader. The club has about 80 leaders.

I think I have been my own best teacher due to experiments. The peculiar thing is that none of my experiments have ever failed to produce desirable results and I have, therefore, never been compelled to seek outside information. I have also learned very much from discussion with fellow lifters. We have always been receptive to any reasonable idea put forward by training companions even if they were much inferior in muscularity and strength. In fact, anyone who comes to our training quarters will find a heated discussion in full swing in regard to some training problem. Usually it is Kosiras and myself who are in the midst of a heated discussion.

My goal, as perhaps you are aware, is to surpass the records of Charles Rigoulot in the two hand quick lifts and Josef Manger in the two hands press. Another objective is to weight 225 in hard muscular condition at the height of 5 feet, 9 inches. I also want to explode the theory of the dependency of muscular size on bone size. I have already done this mentioned thing but wish really to explode it to my own satisfaction. According to the experts my 7½ inch wrist would not support any more than a 16¾ inch arm and at present my arm measures 18 inches. I hope to get it up to 19 inches.

I have always hammered away at back and leg work until I started seriously to improve my lifting, but I will make that the subject of a future letter since the multitudinous amount of leg work I have done could fill a volume.

The Two Arm Press

18 January, 1940

Friend Chester,

Please keep this information about the Press quiet, it has not been thoroughly tested yet. do not have any of the details made public. It has had such beneficial results on my “white mice” that I am not telling everyone.

Since you are intending to work out three times per week you should really be able to polish off some worthwhile results. Work the press as follows:

Start with a poundage about 35 pounds below your limit. Do 1 repetition. Wait 5 minutes and do another single repetition. And so on until you have done 20 or more single repetitions. Do this 3 nights per week. The second week add 2½ pounds, and son on the third and every week. When the going gets tough and you cannot finish in your specified time of about 1½ hours, cut down on your single repetitions to 15 or so and rest 7 or 8 minutes between each press, and finally allow yourself 10 or 12 minutes rest between each repetition when the poundage approaches your limit. Now reduce the weight 25 pounds below your limit at this time and work up again using the same procedure. When you get stuck this time take two or three weeks rest and then start over again. REMEMBER, do nothing else in the line of exercises even though you get fat or if your muscles shrink a little.

More About The Press

15 May, 1940

Friend Chester,

I believe I have some definite information now regarding the press. As I told you, practice the press every other day doing one repetition and then resting for a specified time. I explained also how I increased the weight and lengthened the time between presses. This information has been followed by several of my acquaintances, both personal and those with whom I correspond. There have been definite increases in every case over a period of several weeks. The increases as I noted in almost every instance amounted to 15 or 20 pounds. This is strange indeed if it happens to be a coincidence that all those who tried it improved to the same extent but I would be unwilling to commit myself and say that every one will definitely improve to a similar extent. You can add this information to the other letter I wrote if you wish.

Yours very truly,
Louis Abele

Some Back Work

14 October, 1940

I am now specializing on back work, and have worked up to 235 x 10 consecutive dead hang snatches. I will attempt to give you my leg schedule as soon as possible.

Abele’s Leg Program

8 March, 1941

Friend Chester,

I was glad to hear from you again. I did not answer sooner because I have been in Cuba several weeks. Davis, Terlazzo and I gave exhibitions in Havana. I surprised myself by totaling 980: press 310, snatch 300 and clean & jerk 370.

Regarding the leg program I have followed, I wish to make it clear that I did not reach the peak of development my legs possess at present through following a specialized leg program for two months. I did the following leg program with minor variations at three separate periods of my training each consisting of two months intensive work.

I ask you, Chester, did you ever during your career of lifting, see anyone whose thighs showed extreme muscular development due to such work as the proponents of the “take it easy and grow” school advise? I think I can answer for you: No!

You know as well as I the products of such system develop a “muscularity” that is entirely devoid of contour and woefully lacking in separation. They develop fat men’s thighs and nothing more. Then when they reduce in order to bring about the transformation of smooth thighs to muscular thighs they find to their amazement that they are practically back where they started and their gains of many inches fade away.

Do not these (take it easy and grow) gents realize it takes toils and sweat and more toil and sweat to build strength and muscle! To approach anything approximating muscular phenomenon requires work of the most intense sort. You must literally sweat blood to get up there, and let none forget it for an instant.

This tirade certainly would not do for manufacturers of exercise equipment to advocate as it would scare away all their prospects; but it, nevertheless, stands as the unvarnished truth.

Let me give you an example of what I mean by intense muscle building work as followed by someone other than myself; namely, John Davis, World Heavyweight Champion. Davis, realizing his legs could stand improvement, tackled the problem and followed a squatting routine of from 60 to 80 squats in sets of over 15 with weights above 400 pounds. The improvement in the contour and separation of his thighs has been amazing. His thighs have grown from 25 to about 27 inches.

Now let me tell you of the program I followed to improve my thighs and which caused muscular tissue to grow – not fat. I started at about 20% below my limit. WHEN DOING THESE LEG EXERCISE I NEVER STOPPED BETWEEN REPETITIONS TO REST as most leg exercisers do. I gradually increased the poundage and stayed at the maximum repetitions. The exercises are as follows:

1.) Deep Knee Bend, or Squat, 20 repetitions.
2.) Leg Press, 20 repetitions.
3.) Calf Exercise, 25 repetitions. One foot at a time with toes raised on a block.
4.) Step-up on a box, 20 repetitions with each leg.
5.) One Leg Squat, 15 repetitions. In split position going down on forward foot to maximum squat depth and balancing with the rear foot.
6.) Leg Curl, 15 repetitions.
7.) Calf exercise, 20 repetitions.
8.) Front Squat, 10 repetitions. Squat with barbell in Jerking position.

Questions by Teegarden and Abele’s answers:

How often did you work out?
Three times a week.
Any upper body work during this period?
No upper body work.

Don’t think that I advise everyone to go at it this severely; also keep in mind that to build strength and make muscles grow you must really work at it. An acquaintance of mine and incidentally one of the most muscular specimens who ever lived (not Grimek) used to exercise so hard his joints creaked and groaned so much it was audible to a bystander. This information may be a jolt to some exercise fans, but it is, nevertheless, the truth.

Many of our best lifters work to the point of nausea time and time again when they are working near their maximums. I have worked so hard on various occasions I had to vomit. You simple do not become exceptional unless you put forth the effort. Function makes structure, by heck, and don’t try fooling Nature with roundabout methods.

Cordially yours,
Louis Abele

Abele’s Back Program

As I explained while you visited me last (May 1942) I am a great proponent of specialization. When I first awakened to the possibilities of specialization I had been reading Mark Berry’s writings in which he outlined some suggestions of previous specializers.

From my early experience it was possible for me to outline a program which I believe is as good as any ever evolved. I had, by this time, been steeped in the benefits of heavy leg and back work and this idea, therefore, became a basis of my program.

As is well known after a gain in bodyweight, the smaller muscle groups respond more easily to exercise than if one’s bodyweight remained stable. Therefore, reason prompts me to work on the large muscle groups first, then on the smaller groups. What would be the sense of straining and striving for bigger arms and shoulders first, when the leg work that causes the gain in weight and the proportion of arms to the other parts of the body produces the desired results more efficiently? It always seemed reasonable to me to bring up the legs and hips first, back and chest next, and with the consequent enlarging of the rib box and shoulder girdle, the arms, when finally called upon, will grow very easily.

Naturally, one specializes when further growth thru other methods becomes too slow. When the muscles become accustomed to a definite degree of exertion they will fail to increase in size unless they are caused to exert themselves further. This becomes impossible after one has reached a peak in his training. If one kept increasing the work of all the muscles at one time it would not be long before rigor mortis set in. This leaves us with only one alternative, and that is the specialization in one specific section of the body at one time.

As I have explained to you previously, I had done my leg program first, which lasted over a period between two and three months. I also believe I explained to you that I estimated poundages that were within my reach and therefore would start at a poundage that would enable me to make a gradual increase throughout the entire program. Anyone with some measure of experience can judge how long he will continue to improve steadily and can therefore set his poundages with a fair degree of accuracy.

This is the back specialization program which I followed:

1.) 8 bent presses. Consecutive from the shoulder to overhead.
2.) Straight leg dead lift. 12 to 15 repetitions. On a box to arches of feet.
3.) Chin the bar. 10 to 12 repetitions with weight attached, usually by a rope or strap around the neck. Three variations were used: regular and undergrip pull to chest; overgrip to chin; and behind neck.
4.) Stationary rowing exercise. 12 repetitions.
5.) One arm rowing with a kettle bell. 15 repetitions.
6.) Two arm snatch. 10 consecutive times, no pause, from dead hang.
7.) Two hands clean in the same manner as the snatch but eliminated because it was too tough.
8.) Regular dead lift. 10 to 12 repetitions.

When I used to do snatches and cleans I had to pry my fingers off the bar and would often tear calluses off. It also caused such violent breathing my teeth ached.

During a specialized program on any part of the body the unused parts of the anatomy will naturally lose some shape and tone. But do not loose sight of your principle aim. After these periods of specialization are over the unused parts will quickly snap back to their original size and strength within two weeks time.

These are some of my best lifts which you requested:

Press 315; Snatch 310; Clean 375 (no jerk); Jerk 375 (no clean); Bent Press 225 at 185 lbs. bodyweight; Best Deep Knee Bends 400x18, 450x10, 475x7.

28 September, 1947

During the World Weightlifting Championships Abele told Rader and me that he can still press 300 and tried himself on Dead Hang Snatches having done 285x3. Louis weights about 225 and looks better than at any previous time I had seen him.

Louis works with his father, who is a cement contractor, every day. It is quite probable that in competition he could do no better than second to Davis. If Davis were not in competition Abele would quite probably be Heavyweight Champion of the World; but oh, that inevitable IF!

Copyright, 1948 by Strong Barbell Co.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Powerlifting, Part One - Bradley J. Steiner

Harold Poole

Russ Knipp

Powerlifting, Part One
by Bradley J. Steiner


What I have termed the “Key Segments” (legs, back, shoulders and chest) are the foundation stones of a powerful body. It is more important to stress that these areas require full development, instead of emphasizing total concentration on the three powerlifts, because there are many exercises other than these three lifts that contribute to complete development of these areas. What is to be gained by unnecessarily limiting oneself?

This is mainly intended as a bodybuilder’s book. A sensible bodybuilder’s book, I’d add, since the stress is on the development of a physique that gives the appearance of great power because it is, truly powerful. I always turn away from the methods advocating pump, show, and artificially inflated, bloated tissue. Believe me, such methods are only for the foolish. If you want to get the most from this field and derive the fullest measure of physical culture benefits, then you want real, solid, healthy and functional muscle. I stress functional muscle always, since muscles that cannot do anything are similar to toy guns that look real but cannot shoot. What can their value possibly be?

Let us assume then that you seek the limit in power and your finest possible physique, coupled with the rugged health associated with the image of the true strongman. If we are agreed on this as our common goal then we are certainly ready to begin. The path is clear and the possibility of obtaining the goal sought is open to you, provided you are willing to put in the necessary hard work.



For the lifter interested in developing the limit in strength, along with the finest possible muscularity, powerlifting is a must. Super-strength is the result of developing to the limit the body’s muscular capacity for handling tremendous workloads. The most sensible way for a lifter to handle these workloads is through the inclusion of powerlifting in his regular course of physical culture training.

Power has always been admired and greatly respected through the ages. Every culture has had respect for the man of power.

This is a real “how-to-do-it” book. The aim and purpose is to discuss methods, outline courses, and detail training techniques that lead to the development of great strength. There is no easy way to build the power you desire, and there is no shortcut. However, there most assuredly is a right way to train. It is along the lines of the ways described herein. If you follow this plan you will attain your goal of great power.

Your first objective should be understanding. Therefore, give yourself time to read through, comprehend and fully absorb everything contained in this book. Read it through, carefully and with patience. Make sure the concepts sink in. Make sure you grasp the principles. Be certain that you basic questions have been answered before you actually begin training. If you read this book in the careful way suggested you will have no problem in understanding its contents. Everything has been designed to read simply, and every idea has been explained fully.

You will note one thing about my approach that may not be found in other power-training courses and books; that is, I concentrate enormously on the MENTAL ASPECTS of physical training, and that I stress the intensive development of the key segments for the best overall development and performance (as opposed to complete devotion to the three currently accepted powerlifts).

There is simply no way to emphasize fully the importance of the mind in physical training. It is at least 80% of the whole picture. Therefore, unless it is stressed heavily, the student will be bound to fall far short of his full possibilities.

Chapter One: Some Basic Considerations.

The human body can be divided into four basic power segments when considering training for strength. If you make a careful study of the human anatomy you will find that HERE lie the roots of human muscular development potential:

In the leg muscles.
In the back muscles.
In the shoulder girdle.
In the chest area.

Those four areas are the muscle mass areas. That is, the body’s heaviest strongest concentration of thick and power-oriented fibers are located in those four areas. If those four segments are fully developed and coordinated, it naturally follows that the physique will take on great strength and a full development. Formerly, it was urged that leg and back work be the primary mode of training for the lifter with aspirations toward great strength. Yet, this idea must be expanded so that the shoulder girdle and chest area are recognized as the repositories of tremendous additional strength and size potential – which they surely are.

Think for a while about every strong physique man you have seen. Think not only of bodybuilders, but of wrestlers, Olympic weightlifters and so on, men who epitomize full development and great strength. Where do they truly “shine” development-wise? If they are the best in their field they heavy, broad shoulders. They have dynamic power throughout their entire shoulder girdle segment. They have thick, heavy backs. They have mighty legs, and, their chests are deep with great muscularity. Whatever else they may have, they have those four noteworthy areas of development.

The important thing for the lifter to bear in mind is that the four major segments, if they are fully developed, bring about full development in the lesser body areas. This is what always happens when the training method stresses compound exercise as opposed to isolation movements. I am here speaking not necessarily of development with regard to pure bulk. Rather, I am speaking for the development of full, powerful muscularity.

The argument that too much work on the basic, heavy exercises fails to produce a shapely body is utterly false. Heredity, diet, posture, etc. have the final say regarding how “shapely” you eventually look. Your choice of exercise movements, per se, has little to do with this matter of muscle shape. Remember, your muscles don’t “know” what exercise is being used when you train them. Doing heavy military presses works the shoulder girdle. Doing lateral raises also works this area, however, with the basic press you can strive for much greater poundage increments and a more complete and natural muscle involvement, and, as a result you will build much greater strength. The effect on the muscle’s appearance of shapeliness is little affected by the particular exercise you do. In fact, providing your inherent characteristics make you prone towards the “right” appearance when flexed, and provided your diet is right, there is every reason to believe that the heavier and more basic exercises will produce superior “shapeliness.”

This point, again, must be carefully and clearly understood: the type of exercises you do with weights will have an effect on the development of a muscle’s size and usefulness, and a muscle’s power and strength. But, the effect upon its appearance of shapeliness is negligible. Diet and heredity mean everything here, and since diet is the only factor under your control, I suggest you begin to appreciate its importance.

Think of exercise as a basically simple but brutally hard aspect of your program to develop strength and size. Don’t ever make the mistake of believing in some strange, “secret” programs or any other such nonsense. And above all, do not think that the training is everything! It is vitally important, power and strength won’t be built without it and the physique cannot be built unless workouts are done seriously, yet: when all is told the exercise program is the simplest part of the overall course of action. It must be blended harmoniously with other items. The coming chapters will explain each item and teach you how to coordinate their employment for your maximum benefit.

Back to those Key Segments again.

Legs, Back, Shoulders and Chest. Remember them and impress their importance upon your mind. Then consider the following . . .

The fundamental method of working the legs is by having them do a “Push Away” type of movement. That is, when, for example, you squat, you are pushing, basically, with the legs. This effort of pushing is made more difficult by increasing the weight on the bar. The harder you push, the greater the developmental effort. The shoulders and chest function as “Push Away” groups, too. Presses (overhead and bench) are basically push movements. Lying laterals require a push or forward-thrusting type motion, etc. The back “Pulls”. Rowing is a “Pull To” movement. So is deadlifting. So is cleaning. So is snatching. Chest, shoulders and legs PUSH. Back PULLS. Remember that.

From that basic working principle of the muscles derives the basic developmental principle. The greatest exercises are the ones that cause the greatest basic effort.

The core powerlifts – deadlift, squat and bench press – are, naturally, extremely valuable, and I’d say even essential to an effective all-round strength-building program. Yet, there are many other exercises and exercise variations that need to be understood and applied in training. You will learn many, and you’ll be taught how to apply them. Standing presses, for example, while not considered “powerlifts” are a 100% necessity for overall shoulder girdle development. That’s just one example. There are many more.

It is not enough merely to concentrate upon the key segments of the body to effectively assure the attainment of our goal. It is necessary to work those segments to their utter limit. This does not mean that every workout should be a maximum effort, but it does mean that from time to time the limit attempt must be made. Otherwise, there will be no progress. Training, in other words, FLUCTUATES. It does not continue on an ever-increasing, steadily upward, straight-line climb. It begins, builds up, hits a maximum effort-output, then drops back so that you can recuperate. And then it starts that upward climb again, towards a new maximum.

It is crucially important that you, as a student of physical training, understand this clearly. Otherwise, you will expect progress to continue indefinitely, which it of course cannot do. This leads to great disappointment, as I have found with many students. Better to accept the fact that Nature has her own way of permitting you to progress towards your objectives, and let it go at that. Don’t try to impose some idea you might have, in all your wisdom, about “the right way to progress” upon your body. Adjust to Nature’s way. She won’t adjust to your way. Instead, learn all you can about the ways of nature recuperating and regenerating and work within the sanity of this framework.

Your plan of training, then, will center about the maximum development of the key segments of your musculature. It will proceed by working up towards new limits of effort output, and it will stress concentration of effort on the basic exercises. There may be some other work devoted to the balancing and strengthening of the other muscle groups via lighter and lesser assistance movements, but for the most part you will train simply, heavily and sensibly. You will find, when you do, that so long as your diet is right the “lesser” muscle groups will almost “fall” into place, development-wise, with only relatively little attention. Unquestionably, this carryover benefit of the bigger exercises for the lesser muscle attachments is one of the greatest virtues of such a mode of approach in training.

The squat, as a basic body exercise, serves as a truly perfect example of just what a basic movement, properly worked, can accomplish for you . . .

The squat might normally be considered a leg exercise, and a superlative leg exercise it undeniably is. There is no other movement you can do that even approaches the squat in leg-building value (except, of course, front squats, which are, after all, SQUATS!). Okay, so the squat is great for the legs. Why is its carryover value so great?

The squat, when employed as I shall teach you to employ it in this book, achieves the following:

1.) Tremendous development of the entire leg structure.
2.) Tremendous development of the hip (gluteus) muscles.
3.) Fantastic gains in bodily endurance, cardiovascular efficiency and all-round “inner strength.”
4.) Great expansion in the chest – superior by far to what even a program of specialization on pullovers could achieve.
5.) Expansion in the shoulder girdle, thus increasing enormously the potential for upper body gains.
6.) Increase in one’s SENSE of power, in one’s overall, basic FEELING of physical prowess.
7.) Increase in one’s psychological willpower.
8.) Development to a significant degree of the lower (lumbar) back muscles.

I’ve always been a squat nut so I naturally had to pick the squat as a good example. But what about, say, deadlifting? This particular movement will:

1.) Build grip and forearm strength (as well as size) to an extent that will surprise you, if you work hard on the movement.
2.) Develop low back muscles AND upper back muscles that are literally rock hard and as strong as spring steel.
3.) Develop the hips and legs by the partial squat action entailed by the performance of a deadlift movement.
4.) Build endurance.
5.) Stimulate general strength gains throughout the entire body.

Are you beginning to see the treasure house of benefits awaiting you when you adopt a schedule of training along the lines I am advocating?

The basic bench press develops triceps infinitely better (and safer) than any triceps “specialization” exercise you may have seen or read about. It builds great frontal deltoid strength and power, helps to increase the wrist and grip strength, and enormously affects the hefty pectoral muscles, as well as expansion of the chest cavity.

That accounts for only the BASIC THREE power lifts. But we’re concerned with TOTAL physique development – the UTMOST – possible. There are other basics we’ll be working with.

The type of training we are concerned with in this book is the type that produces every desirable physical quality. You seek not only a powerlifter’s strength but a bodybuilder’s shapeliness, and an athlete’s coordination. Therefore your plan must be rounded. BASIC, to be sure, but rounded, to achieve the goals desired.

Remember that the key segments must be worked in two fundamental ways to produce the sort of physique we are trying to build. First, each segment must be fully developed by specific concentration upon IT. Then, the basic segments must “learn” to work together, fighting gravity and poundages, so that all-out limit attempts involving coordination can be made.

If the purpose of this book were merely to make a powerlifter out of you, then we might deal solely with the basic three lifts. But you need, and will get, more.

When the body is worked in this well-rounded way you end up, after putting in the necessary sweat and toil, with the enviable status of having a body without any weak links. You will more than likely find that one of the powerlifts becomes your favorite, and that there are one or two other basic training movements that your particular structure favors – but because nothing is essentially neglected, you’ll not end up like some unfortunate men who follow too-limited methods and have, as a result, fantastic development in one area, but next to none in some other areas.

So, before going on to our next chapter, in which you will come to understand some more important factors in strength development, let me urge you to always think in terms of total, rounded, balanced and complete development. Even if you only think, right now, that one body area or one physical quality is your true goal, concentrate on full development of the body-machine that you have possession of at this time. This will give you lasting, lifetime power, a fine physique, and the athletic capacity to do anything you wish and everything you must.

Study this book carefully. Each section was designed to provide a clear lesson in itself, and each will contribute tremendously to the course of your progress. I therefore suggest that you be certain of your understanding of this first chapter before passing on to the next. Remember, our key points here are . . .

UNDERSTAND the key segments for power-bodybuilding and how they basically function as either PUSH or PULL groups.

UNDERSTAND the need for a basic and essentially HARD form of training that FLUCTUATES, for best results.

UNDERSTAND the need for BALANCED, total training and development.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Variety - Bradley J. Steiner

John Kuc

Lou Ferrigno

by Bradley J. Steiner (1973)

In this article we’re going to be addressing the advanced barbell man. When I say “advanced” I mean fellows who have been playing (ahem!) with barbells and dumbells for several years (or a year, at least), and who have succeeded in becoming (a) Big, (b) Strong, and (c) Are satisfied with their existing level of size and strength, at least for the time being. Beginners can read on, if they like, but I urge only lifters who have achieved points a, b, and c to actually use the training methods we shall discuss. In lifting, as in many other fields, there is a time and a place for everything.

As most of you are probably already aware, I regard muscle pumping, cramping and “muscle spinning” exercises as the worst mistake a weight-trainee can make. I have succeeded, I am confident, in making readers acutely aware of the importance of the heavy, basic exercises in building and maintaining size and strength. Too much cannot be said about the desirability of heavy leg, back, shoulder and chest work for the best results in training. For a skinny fellow, a hard gainer, or even a natural athlete who wants great gains, the BASIC work is the thing. Don’t ever forget that. But once you’ve successfully built up to a decent level, then what? How then can you bring out the most, how can you “sharpen up” a well-bulked physique and not lose strength? With VARIETY in training!

So much garbage has been written about the value of such exercises as the concentration curl, the hack squat and the various “shaping” exercises. Many advanced men have actually come to regard it as axiomatic that advanced workouts must be “pumping up schedules” requiring hours every night of the week if they are to be successful in shaping and molding a big defined body. NONSENSE! You can see the fallacy in this widely accepted notion by remembering the following:

If a body is big because it is fat, then the only thing that a super-duper three-hour schedule will accomplish is tearing down the solid tissue you’ve built, and replacing it with inflated tissue. If you want muscles that are shapely, then the main requirement is to build them up more, never, ever to reduce them or overwork them!

Please reread that last sentence. It happens to be a fact – a truth about the human musculature – that very, very few trainees seem to realize. Merely burning off excess fat will not make muscles more slender in appearance, and more defined. You don’t have to work for that, though – you can get it simply by eating less. Also, working hard for extreme “anatomy chart” definition can put you in the loony bin. Working correctly for shape can put you ahead of that game.

The key to building superior shape, as I’ve said, lies in maximum development of the muscles. The key to maximum development is heavy exercise. The key to using heavy exercise for the ultimate in shape is variety. NOT a variety of light, spinning and pumping movements, but a variety of good, heavy-duty exercises.

To illustrate what I mean, have a look at the following three routines:

Routine A

Bent Arm Pullover
Barbell Curl

Routine B

Press Behind Neck
Front Squat
Bent Rowing
Power Clean
Leg Raise
Two-Dumbell Curl

Routine C

Dumbell Alternate Press
Breathing Squat
One Arm Row
Good Morning
Reverse Curl

Any of these three schedules, followed thrice weekly, would put the exerciser in fantastic shape. It would build more bulk and power than he’d want, and it would surely suffice in bringing him past the stage where he felt like an old lady when he wore a T-shirt.

Please notice that all of the routines are different. The exercises vary with each schedule. Yet, all of the routines are the same with regard to one point – there is not a single pumping exercise to found in any of them. Also observe that even though all three schedules use only the heavy exercises, each schedule works the major muscles from a slightly different angle.

Most trainees would do well to follow each individual routine for about six or seven weeks. After that, they should take a one or two week layoff, and then pick up on one of the other routines for another six or seven week stint. However, and this is the main point of this article, an advanced lifter can use each routine once in every week. For example, on Monday he can do Routine A; on Wednesday Routine B and on Friday Routine C. He would thus be giving his body a most thorough “going over” with a full course of 18 different exercises during each week’s training. If he attempted to do justice to all of these movements during a single workout he would, of course, have to be removed from the gym on a stretcher; but this would not be the case if the work was divided over the course of a week’s sessions. The lifter would NOT be training any longer on this variety routine than he would be on any other, and he would be using an excellent assortment of exercises.

This is advanced training. Every single workout will call for maximum, hard exertion, since the basic idea is to stimulate growth. Growth will occur – to be sure – since the tissue stimulation provided by this system of training is all-encompassing. Where the arms are worked hard on one “groove” with the curl, they are then stimulated in a different fashion by the dumbell curl, and finally, the workload is shifted to the forearm and grip with the reverse curl in the weeks third workout. The same muscles are worked but from different positions.

Variety training such as this may be used for as long as the trainee wishes, and so long as he finds that he is making satisfactory gains. It need not be discontinued after a certain length of time like many other “specialization” courses. This method is by no means overtraining, since the body receives no more than three good workouts a week. It is not by any means a tedious method, either, since there is a switch in one’s exercises with every day’s workout. However, and this is the program’s merit – it is a very hard way to train. I am convinced that this method of training should be followed for at least three months with periodic back-off weeks for maximum benefits.

Only the heavy, basic exercise programs can begin to bring the trainee to his full development. The routines that built the greats were built around the big exercises. Do not be misled by many instructors who say that once you have attained the desired degree of strength and size you can now forget about heavy training and concentrate instead on “shaping” exercises.

Because a thing is widely accepted does not prove that it is rational, true or valid.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Speed and Pull - Charles A. Smith

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Speed and Pull
by Charles A. Smith (1955)

The Olympic lifter is in a better position to know what real strength is than any other type of athlete, and in a practical way. He might find it hard to put that knowledge into words, but he is never at any time laboring under any mistaken impressions. When he looks in the dictionary and sees strength defined as “the quality of power; force; vigor;” he realizes only too well that the definition is inadequate.

Lifting strength is not mere muscular contraction, the ability to lift a bigger poundage than an opponent. It is also speed, balance, technical skill, determination, the will to win and stamina. Above all these qualities stands that ability to combine them at a particular time in order to achieve a particular result . . . the best possible performance an athlete is capable of.

Most of a strength athlete’s early Olympic training is directed into building up as near perfect a style as possible. In my opinion, too much attention is paid to attaining style, and not enough to developing power and speed. Don’t kid yourself that either can come from the simple practice of the quick lifts. I’m not trying to create an impression that one is more important than the other, but that each should be regarded with equal significance and take their proper place in lift training.

It is impossible, in my opinion, to produce a lifting champion by training for style alone, and it is impossible to produce one by training for strength alone, although in the latter case a man can develop into a champion lifter more quickly because of his basic power, and both Paul Anderson and Doug Hepburn are outstanding examples of this. With little to show when it comes to style, Anderson has smashed all records in the press, clean & jerk and total, and gives every evidence of raising the snatch mark sky high . . . and he’s purely a power-trained man.

Tied up with power and style are two very important qualities – PULL and SPEED. These are so often lacking in the “style” lifter and the “basic power” boy. All too often the stylist lacks power in his pull, and all too frequently the natural powerhouse is slow as molasses in subzero weather.

Attend any novice lifting meet and see for yourself just how right I am. Plenty of boys have good technique when they are handling those first attempt poundages. Lots of naturally powerful beginners have good style for their first attempts too. But when heavier weights are handled there is a parting of the ways, both failing to get the utmost out of themselves.

The man with the good technique fails miserably as soon as limit attempts are approached. He’ll heave the weight chest high but there’s no momentum to take the bar higher. The powerhouse has no trouble hauling his commencing poundages to arms’ length, but he looks like he has ten-ton lead boots on when he gets close to his limit. His splits are mistimed because of a painful lack of speed.

More power required? Then train for power. More speed needed? Then train for speed.

But here again you can go wrong. Many beginners make the mistake of dropping the actual lifts, concentrating only on assistance movements. The correct procedure is to practice whatever lift you are trying to improve first in your training schedules.

If you are trying to improve your press, work on that first, then let the other lifts follow on, with the assistance movements last. Go through your pressing schedule, follow along with some snatches and clean & jerks, then turn to bench presses, power-presses off boxes, seated behind the neck presses, and any other pressing movements you are using for assistance.

In this article we are concerned with improving power of pull and speed of split. How should this type of program be arranged? Using the snatch as an example, first and foremost should come the actual snatch training. The system of sets, reps and poundages is not important here, only your power and speed schedules.

During your actual snatch training get an experienced coach to watch you, if at all possible. After each set has been completed and you are taking a breather, the coach should tell you what you did wrong and how it can be remedied. There must be this definite training period during which your style is taken care of.

Don’t get the idea that during the actual snatch training there’s no need to bother about getting under the bar as fast as you can, or pulling as hard as possible, because of the power and speed training that’s coming later in the workout. After you’ve listened to the coach pick your lift to pieces, and when you are ready to start another set of snatches, go over in your mind the points raised by your coach, what you did do and what you didn’t do. Then visualize in your mind a perfect snatch. Think it over for a few seconds, then perform your next set.

After the snatching has been completed start your assistance program. It will first be necessary to take a short rest . . . say ten to fifteen minutes. Then hit the schedule of assistance movements, taking particular care to perform them exactly as described.

Exercise 1.

Pulls to waist, to build power and speed for the first pull. Load up a bar to your limit snatch poundage. Grasp it with your usual snatch handspacing. Assume your customary “get set” position and pull the weight off the floor as fast and as forcefully as you can. Pull the bar waist-high, and make every effort to hold it there for a slow count of three before you lower it to starting position again. Use this snatch limit poundage to get accustomed to the movement, and when you are, step up the poundage by 20 or 30 pounds. Perform 3 sets of 6 reps, making every effort to increase each set by one rep a workout until you are using 3 sets of 12 reps. At this point increase the weight by 10 pounds, drop down to 3 sets of 6 reps, and work up to 3 sets of 12 progressively. It’s important to make each pull right off the floor from the get set position of the lift, and hold for a three-count at waist height.

Exercise 2.

Pulls from waist to arms’ length, to build power and speed for the second pull. Strap a good, wide lifting belt on . . . make sure it has a large, sturdy buckle. Take a light poundage for a start, gripping the bar with your usual snatch handspacing. Rest the bar on the buckle, and from this position with no knee dip or use of your low back muscles pull the weight up, splitting or squatting under it when it reaches chin level, and taking it to arms’ length. Make every effort to coordinate the pull and split or squat. Concentrate on getting under the bar as fast as you can. Don’t forget that the legs and back must not be used to start the bar on its way. Lower the weight to the buckle and repeat. Start off with a poundage you can handle for 3 sets of 6 reps, work up to 3 sets of 12 reps and ten increase the weight by 10 pounds, dropping down to 3 sets of 6 and working up as before. Don’t try to handle a heavy poundage. Concentrate on arm pull from waist to chin and getting under the bar quickly to get it to arms’ length.

Exercise 3.

Split or squat under weight from head level, to build lockout speed. Notice that one section of Illustration 3 is shadowed. This is the starting position of the exercise. Take a weight 20-30 pounds below your snatch limit and haul it to arms’ length. Lower it down until it is level with the top of your head. From there, drop down swiftly underneath it in a split so the bar snaps out to locked arm position. Recover to upright position, lower the bar down to head level and repeat. Use as many repetitions as possible in this exercise, stopping only when you are breathing heavily or have become too tired to execute the exercise properly. Take a short rest and perform some more reps. As soon as you are accustomed to the exercise, start using heavier poundages, up to and beyond your snatch limit. At this stage begin with 3 sets of 6 reps, work up to 3 sets of 12 before increasing the resistance by 10 pounds.

Exercise 4.

Full power pulls, to increase overall pulling power. Here is one of the greatest assistance exercises ever. Paul Anderson practices it constantly, and Doug Hepburn swears by it. Oooh, those ****ing high pulls. Illustration 4 shows the finish position of the exercise. From the get-set position and using your regular snatch grip, haul the bar up chest high with every ounce of your power, rising on your toes and flinging your head back. Lower the bar and without pause of letting the bar touch the ground, haul it up chest high again. Most lifters start off with their snatch limit. I advise the use of a light weight until you are accustomed to the exercise, then step up your poundage. Begin with a weight you can handle for 3 sets of 6 reps and work up to 3 sets of 12 before you increase resistance. Don’t forget to drop down to 3 sets of 6 when you do, and don’t forget to give that pull all you’ve got on each and every rep.

Exercise 5.

Partial deadlifts, for strengthening the entire back. This has always been one of my favorite exercises because it not only gets you used to handling heavy poundages, but it also strengthens the shoulder girdle and lower back, and builds up confidence and a contempt for big weights. After holding five or six hundred pounds in your hands, a limit snatch can feel much lighter. Notice the use of a reverse grip. In using this exercise as a snatch assistance movement your handspacing should be considerable wider than for a normal deadlift, but not as wide as your snatch grip. From the position shown in the illustration, deadlift the bar until the body is in an upright position. At this stage shrug your shoulders and try to perform a partial upright rowing motion. Of course you won’t succeed, but make the effort! Lower the bar down to the starting position and repeat. On your final repetition hold the bar in your hands for as long as possible before lowering it back down. Start off with 3 sets of 6 reps, work up to 3 sets of 12, then increase the weight 20 or 30 pounds and begin again with 3 sets of 6.

Unless you’re a Paul Anderson or a Tommy Kono you’ll find it impossible to use every one of these exercises in the same workout. You can choose a couple which you feel will do you the most good, depending on your personal weaknesses. As soon as you have obtained the benefit you desire from those two exercises drop them and choose another two, and so on. I must once again strongly advise you to train the actual lifts first in your workouts, and then use these assistance exercises. However, if you are an advanced man and want a change from the main lifts, then you can use these movements for a month, selecting three of them and including the bench press, then returning refreshed to the main lifts after a month is up.

At all times remember that assistance exercises for any main lift are aids, and not substitutes for the lift itself. The best way to improve your main lifts is to perform them, and boost your effectiveness with assistance exercises.

These ideas can readily be applied to other competitive lifts aside from the snatch, which was used as an example in this short article. Following a period of study and careful planning, the thinking lifter should be able to design a schedule of assistance work for any main lift, following the guidelines given herein.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Overcoming Failures in the Jerk - "Joe Weider"

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Overcoming Failures in the Jerk
“by” Joe Weider (1959)

If you want to become a successful weightlifter you must be able to jerk more weight overhead than you can clean. Indeed, if your limit clean and limit jerk are equal, then you jerk is inferior.

That’s why Olympic lifting champions are champions. They followed a scientifically planned workout schedule to build a limit jerk 30 to 40 pounds more than their limit clean.

Why should you jerk more weight overhead than you can clean?

(1) When making a clean, it takes so much out of you. Unless you are a good jerker you often can’t complete the lift – even though you can jerk as much from the shoulder as you clean from the floor.

(2) Many lifters who can’t jerk much more than they can clean often lose the jerk at the end because they haven’t the power and technique to save the jerk. Therefore, as a reserve of strength and power is built into the jerk, many weak jerks can be saved.

It is far easier to jerk more weight overhead than you can clean. Again, why?

(1) When a clean is made the bar must be lifted upward from a very awkward position for a long distance. Even when the bar is fixed at the shoulders in the split or squat position the legs still have a tremendous feat of strength to perform – in coming up with the weight, balancing the body, and getting properly set.
(2) When standing upright your body is in a very powerful position for the hips and thighs to drive the weight upward to the height required. From that point it’s only a matter of speed, timing, coordination and direction to hold the weight overhead with elbows locked as the leg-split is made. Human bones will stand enormous pressure and there are many men who have supported 500 pounds overhead on one arm alone. That’s why the jerk is easier than the clean.

It’s no use making a brilliant clean with a very heavy weight if you can’t be sure of finishing the lift by jerking it overhead.

What steps can you take to improve your jerk? First, you should search for your errors and set about correcting them. Here’s how you can go about it:

(1) Keep your elbows to the front so that the bar doesn’t roll down your chest when the knee dip and leg thrust are made.

(2) Learn to support heavy weights at the shoulders. This can be done with the assistance of a rack, power stands or boxes. Adjust the means support to the exact height where you actually start to send the bar overhead from the shoulders. Place the barbell across the stands and load it with a far heavier weight than you’ve been accustomed to using. Now take the weight off the stands, onto your shoulders, and play around with it. Lift it slightly upward – just an inch of so to get it off the stands – and hold it for a few seconds, then lower it again to the stands. Next time try to hold it longer, continuing in this way to increase both the amount of weight on the bar and the length of time you can hold it. In this way you will build the extra tendon and ligament strength needed to make this part of the lift easier to do.

(3) Train to support heavy weights at arms’ length overhead. Use the rack or stands for this too. Adjust the supports to your completed jerk height, place the barbell across them, and load it with a heavier than usual weight. Now again, just “inch” it upward and hold it as long as you can. Lower, and do it again, and again until tired. Continue in this way – holding heavier and heavier weight for a longer and longer time – to strengthen this part of your jerk.

(4) Use stands or the rack set at various heights and, starting from the bottom, make partial or full recovery movements from the split position with heavy weights held overhead.

(5) Occasionally load the bar unevenly and try to make complete jerks this way to improve general control.

(6) Make power jerks without moving your feet – thrusting your head forward and your arms backward as the elbows move into their locked position.

(7) Perform power-dip leg thrusts and try to drive heavy weights upward to at least the crown-of-head height, concentrating on keeping the weight in the right groove.

Study the pictures illustrating this article. They’ll show you how errors and neglect of earlier training sessions lead to failure on limit attempts . . . and how some fabulous jerk successes were made.

A Time to Train and a Time to Live - Jim Halliday

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David Rigert

A Time to Train and a Time to Live
by Jim Halliday (1956)

Progressing as a lifter does not depend solely on correct training, but is a combination of many things, some natural and some cultivated. Happy is the man who has all the essentials in his make-up. He is the one who progresses with a seemingly relaxed approach while the less fortunately endowed train harder, longer and more enthusiastically, but with less success.

It is obvious to me, and to anyone who would give thought to the subject, that a man’s everyday existence plays a major role in determining how successful training efforts are. It is useless to go through a strict training routine during the evening and neglect the rest of the time. If you want to successful then you must devote every hour of every day in the attempt to reach the goal you’ve set for yourself.

I do not imply that you should become a hermit, shut yourself off from everything but weight training, deny yourself simple pleasures; but before doing anything at all you should visualize its possible effects on your ambitions and be willing to accept the consequences.

As I have mentioned, some men can do everything randomly and seemingly wrong yet still succeed repeatedly. But unless you are one of this select band, it will pay you to think first. Far from preaching a sermon on the way you should live, I’m only asking you to consider your present living habits and see if you are willing to alter or modify some parts to increase your chances of success in lifting.

Since lifting is in the main an amateur sport, we must work for a living and consider the effects or our respective jobs on training progress. By this I mean that a lifter should work out a routine to work in with the nature of his livelihood. You must consider energy expenditure, fresh air, correct diet and several other necessary factors.

You job is the means by which you earn the means of existence, and lifting is a hobby, a directed form of relaxation. You cannot always change your job to fit in with your training, but it is always possible to arrange your training to fit in with the work you do.

For example, I have worked on changing shifts for the past eight years. 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. – 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. – 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. This you will admit is not conducive under ordinary circumstances to good training, and yet I manage well because I experimented until I found not only a system of training to suit each shift, but also a way of living that ensured correct eating and sleeping. In this way I was still able to obtain every possible benefit.

I tried many approaches but found only one that met every demand. For those who are placed the same with regard to shift work I give it here.

6 am to 2 pm shift – Breakfast at 5 am. Lunch at 10 am. Light meal at 2:30 pm. Dinner at 7:30 pm. I train at 4 in the afternoon, allowing two hours for training and giving me the necessary rest before and after training, with still some time for 8 hours sleep. I train 5 days on this shift and lay off on Wednesday and Saturday, thus breaking up the training suitably.

2 pm to 10 pm shift – Arise 8:30 am. Breakfast at 9 am. Training from 10:30 to 12:30. Lunch (heaviest meal) at 1 pm. Very light supper at 10:30 pm. Relax until midnight, ensuring 8½ hours sleep. Since I don’t like heavy lifting early in the morning, I press on three workdays along with assistance movements, and perform my heavy lifts on the two days off from work.

10 pm to 6 am shift – Bed after a light meal at 7 am. Rise at 3 pm and have a substantial meal. Training from 6 pm to 8 pm. Heavy meal at 9 pm. For the meal at work I have something very light. I train 5 days on these weeks, 3 on the lifts and 2 on assistance movements. And as I have the weekends off, on one of these days I try limit lifts.

This system is, I admit, nothing elaborate. A little thought and organization can improve your living and training conditions and thus assist your endeavors in life and lifting. For instance, I have a change of shift each week and actually have found I go stale less often than when I was employed at a job with the more stable hours. Each week I look forward to my training as though the timing made it something new and not the same old grind week in and week out, as opposed to looking at the changing patterns as a hindrance to my lifting.

Let’s talk about the type of work now. When you refer to a job you usually say it is either sedentary or manual. These are broad terms and describe either laboring or office work. I feel you can go much deeper. There are outdoor jobs that can be classed as sedentary and indoor ones that require the hardest labor that is detrimental to increasing strength. For the moment, let’s deal with the two direct opposites – the man who works with his muscles, and the man who let’s assume work with his brain. Who has the job most suited to athletic participation? Most people would say the office worker since he should have energy to spare, but they can’t convince me. The manual laborer does use a lot of energy during the day, but after a time his job becomes more or less semi-automatic and naturally, if he does not make much conscious effort he does not deplete his energy as much as if his efforts were more deliberate.

His body is naturally “tuned up” by his work and should help him to formulate the type of training he should undertake. A short, heavy schedule is best for this man and he must keep in mind that his recuperation will be done while he sleeps – so maximum sleeping time must be assured. He must plan his training so that he has a period to completely relax before going to bed after a hard lifting session. It’s hard to settle down after a heavy workout, and good book or a couple of beers before bed assist in relaxing the mind . . . an essential thing if sleep is to be full and deep.

The sedentary worker must tune up his body considerably before any strenuous lifting can be indulged in. Because he expends less energy, physically, than his opposite, this does not mean that he is more vigorous. More often than not the opposite is the case.

Concentrated mental effort is oftentimes more tiring than physical effort, and due to not being called upon to make deliberate physical effort during his work. When he does have to force his body into movement the effort draws further on his already much depleted mind . . . simply because such efforts follow his usual pattern . . . they are mental rather than physical.

Far too little has attention has been paid to the mental aspects of weightlifting. The mind plays an important part in training, and a tired brain that cannot concentrate on the task of bringing the body to peak of condition is just as bad as a body depleted of physical energy.

Every job, simply because it is a job, has its detrimental properties. A large proportion of your day is spent earning your daily bread, and a lot of people seem to feel that leisure is meant to be spent in pleasures that require little or no effort.

What actually constitutes pleasure? I like to think it is the pursuit of happiness, doing something in your spare time that gives you satisfaction and a sense of relaxation, mentally as well as physically.

Everyone has different tastes and ideas as to what is or isn’t happiness. But I sum it up in a single world – contentment. I feel that an endless round of social pleasures do not give contentment, not for some.

Satisfaction leads to contentment which is the very basis of happiness, and satisfaction often comes from achievement. You do not necessarily have to be a champion to be contented. If you have certain ambitions and utilize your existence in the pursuit of these ambitions, then you are living with a purpose and may be satisfied.

You can plan your life so as to ensure you get the utmost from it. I realize that a working man has only a certain amount of time to spare, and that is why I am saying the less free time you have, the greater the need for planning each day. By so doing you can work hard, train hard, and still have time for relaxing pleasures you consider essential.

Everything you do, every movement you make, every thought that passes through your mind has a bearing on your life as a whole. On your training, your job, your home life, the way you eat, breathe, walk – all these must play an important part, and all must be considered in the pattern of your existence.

I am not by any means saying you should set yourself on a pedestal and make a little tin god of yourself. But you must consider these things if you wish your training to be successful.

Your life is your own to do with what you will. Do not allow anyone to plan it for you. There is but one way to live and that is to plan YOUR OWN LIFE, to decide what it is that you want, and get it. If by chance your ambitions elude you, then you still have the satisfaction of knowing within yourself that you did try. Whatever you see as your purpose in life, only a wholehearted attempt gives the more complete satisfaction. Half measures will not get you very far in work . . . play . . . training.

Actually, it is easier to plan each day’s happenings than meander along haphazardly. If you know what you have to do to get what you want, then you not only do it with greater ease but much better. A little thought, a little planning, a little common sense can make all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The One Movement Program - Walt Boucher

Arnold Snell, cleaning an 85-pound dumbell gripped by the middle finger then pressing it overhead.

Charles MacMahon, Henry Sincosky, Antone Matysek

Melvin Wells

The One Movement Program
by Walt Boucher

Are you looking for variance in your training? Have you been plodding along doing the same old exercises time after time? Do you want to jar yourself out of a rut and bring concentration and fun back into your training? Don’t go away, because I’m going to tell you about a simple idea that is going to change the way you may think about planning your workouts. What may first appear to you as a monotonous system at first could very well prove to be very stimulating after you have tried it. All I ask is that you try it before passing judgment.

We all know what spectacular results are had when the sun’s rays are brought to focus on a given point by means of a magnifying glass. The power of the great star is concentrated and achieves tremendous results. One thing at a time has been the rule of the sages thru the ages. I’m not going to tell you that I have something new, because I haven’t. Perhaps my little system is new, but it embodies the timeless philosophy of “one thing at a time.” Wasn’t there something written by William Shakespeare in one of his great plays about a man with double duty found pausing, reflecting on both and thus neglecting both?

What in the world am I getting at! What have sages, old Bill Shakespeare and the sun’s rays got to do with it. I’ll answer and say I believe it has everything to do with building both physique and strength. My system allows you to take the “this one thing I do” philosophy and exploit it rightfully for your own advantage. It will do things for you. Am I asking you, judging from the title of this short article, to take one exercise and play it for all it’s worth for hours on end several training sessions a week? No! I’m not! But let’s not scatter our shots.

Here is what I’m getting at. Normally you do from 8 to 12 exercises during a training session; sometimes more, sometimes less, but you, more often than not, regulate yourself between this figure. You may use light dumbells to top off your heavier barbell work, which is good, but the barbell (unless you’re specializing on dumbells) gets the brunt of the attack and keeps you busy most of the time. The barbell seems to be the instrument of choice most often when it comes to serious lifting. It has been in my case, certainly. In the past it has been my custom to do about 10 barbell exercises and then at the end of my session to do several shoulder movements with a lighter pair of dumbells. Side raises, real laterals, etc. Yes, I have used dumbells in the past and I like them a great deal. In fact, 25 years ago when I first got my dunking into the weightlifting waters I, at the advice of a brother who had a lot of experience in training, used dumbells exclusively until both he and I tackled the barbells seriously. I honestly think that barbells render the better body and greater strength. You can concentrate right on them; no swaying this way and that, no going off balance, just get set right and go. You can really dig into barbells. This doesn’t mean at all that dumbells are inferior as a lifting instrument. No, no, no! Cyr, Appolon, Grimek and Sandow to some extent used dumbells to their decided advantage. But it’s hard to do heavy bench presses, repetition jerks and big squats with dumbells; you can, but it is unwieldy and awkward. So the barbell is best, in my opinion. And no one standard exercise is necessarily better than another because they are all needed to mold and strengthen the man. There are countless barbell exercises, but if we were to segregate the basic movements we would find about a dozen basics. But let’s see what happens when we do one thing at a time.

Let’s start with the basic press. Am I suggesting that you just practice just this one exercise and none other on a training day? Yes, I am. You might wonder where the inspiration and variety are in this idea. Just to work on presses for a long time at once and nothing else would bore you, more than likely.

In the press you have countless variations, too many to list them all here. Strict military press, Olympic press, press behind neck, continental press, narrow and wide grip presses, one dumbell military presses, side presses, see-saw presses, dumbell push presses, one and two arm variations, etc., etc., etc. An endless variety, and nothing written in stone says you have to stick with just one form of the press each session, does it? You can drop it if you want to. You can always go back to your customary routine.

Everyone knows how to curl. There are countless variations here as well. Barbell, dumbell, swingbell. plate, standing, seated, incline with bar or dumbell, spider curls, reverse, Zottman, hammer, pulley, etc., etc., etc.

The rowing movements, pullovers, squatting, etc. all lend themselves to endless varieties. No monotony here. What sometimes causes exercising to lose allure is lack of creativity.

To recap. Select a movement: pressing, curling, pulling, squatting, benching, etc. Now, for that day’s session perform several variations on the basic theme. Did you ever consider how many forms of prone pressing there are?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Power Routine - Edward Wallace

Luke Iams

Arthur Verge

Yurik Vardanyan

A Power Routine
by Edward Wallace (1978)

Several years ago, while enrolled in a graduate course on the physiology of exercise, one of our class assignments was to read a research paper on strength written by the late Dr. Arthur Stienhaus (developer of the Peripheral Heart Action system of training). This paper contained references to the most significant research done in the area of strength up to that time. In light of said research, Dr. Stienhaus concluded that in order to attain maximum muscular growth and/or strength, several constants should be observed if a resistance workout is to manifest said traits:

(1) It is the intensity of work NOT the amount that causes a muscle to grow in size and strength.
(2) The optimum training effect was attained when a muscle was caused to contract about 66 to 100% of maximum ONCE a day EVERY day.
(3) Intensity of work is enhanced by increasing the resistance and/or the rate or work.
(4) Each muscular contraction should last about six seconds.
(5) More than one 70 to 100% contraction per day did not increase the results.

Let us keep in mind that most of the research related to strength is conducted by people who have no practical background in weight training. Once you learn to interpret the scientific jargon you will find much of this research is a duplication of things weight lifters have known for years. But on the other hand, some of it contradicts many of the notions we lifters have held as sacred. If you are interested in studying this research, I refer you to the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education and Recreation Research Quarterly, beginning in 1935.

The following training recommendations are in an attempt to reconcile scientific research with the myriad information found in the various training publications. Extensive investigation reveals that everything written for beginners seems quite consistent and orderly, but confusion abounds for the advanced strength seeker. Consistency no longer exists. This article’s purpose is to provide a rationale for the most frustrated subculture in America – the advanced lifter. If you are benching in the neighborhood of 400 with other lifts of this calibre, then this article is for you. If not, table this article for future reference.

Monday – the following exercises are to be done in this order:

(1) Power Clean
(2) Squat
(3) Standing Press
(4) Bench Press
(5) Bentover Row
(6) Upright Row
(7) Curl
(8) Calf Raise

Each of the above exercises is done for ONE rep at 90% of your maximum single, following a minimal but efficient warmup.


(1) Power Clean
(2) Squat
(3) Close Stance Olympic Squat
(4) Bench Press to Upper Chest
(5) Close Grip Bench Press
(6) Bentover Row
(7) Upright Row
(8) Dumbell Curl
(9) Calf Raise

Do each exercise one set, 6-8 reps, with 70% of your maximum single.

Wednesday – Same as Monday.

Thursday – Same as Tuesday.

Friday – Rest.

Saturday – This workout is the same as Mondays, but use a weight that represents about 95% of maximum. 1 set of 6 reps in the deadlift can be added at the end of your workout if time and energy permit.

Sunday – Rest.

Once you have established your routine – based on certain percentages of your maximum single – add 2½ to 10 pounds to each exercise each week. When you reach a sticking point, return to your original poundages after a few days rest and work up again in weight jumps.

Expect to lose a little on your lifts at the beginning of the program. Your body may not be accustomed to working this heavy on a frequent basis. Remember, this is not a split routine. You are working all your lifts five days per week. After about two weeks your lifts should climb and you will continue to improve as long as you can physically and psychologically stand working this frequently. Most people can put up with about 12 weeks providing they take the mini-layoffs mentioned, and do not keep pounding away once they near going stale. When you know you have had enough of this routine, return to a more conventional routine until you can manufacture enough determination and recuperative power to work your lifts five days a week again.

You will find that I have deviated a bit from some of my original guidelines, but upon closer examination of the routine you will notice most workouts will be one-half hour or less in duration if you keep moving through them at a steady pace. The AMOUNT of work is negligible – the intensity is always above 60% and is often 80-90% of maximum. You probably also notice that I advocate using only One set of One rep on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and only One set of Five to Eight reps with about 70% of your maximum single on Tuesday and Thursday. Remember when performing single reps to execute each exercise as smoothly as possible, with no jerky movements or sudden starts.

This article could not be considered complete without a brief discussion of the failure principle. Up to this point I have deliberately avoided mention of the failure concept that has become popular lately. My experience has shown me that an all-out maximum workout more than once every fortnight WILL NOT WORK. This does not mean you don’t work hard each and every workout – you will have to in order to continue adding to your lifts. But if you perform reps until you are forced throw up your lunch in the middle of every workout, you WILL NOT GAIN. No one I have seen at my gym or elsewhere has improved consistently over time by going to these extremes. I am not an armchair athlete. My best lifts of 440 bench, 500 squat, 600 deadlift and 315 press will attest to this. The workout procedure I advocate has been tried and proven by a 41-year old lifter – yours truly. Younger trainees with enough background work should experience even better gains.

I would like to remind you that this routine, or any other, cannot represent the ultimate answer. You may find more work – or less work – may produce even better results at times.

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