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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