Saturday, May 28, 2011

Developing the Biceps - Charles A. Smith

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Arthur Verge

Developing the Biceps

by Charles A. Smith (1951)

You can take any world famous bodybuilder or weightlifter and be certain of one thing – that he isn’t himself entirely or absolutely responsible for what he happens to be in the World of Strength. He is heir to all the hundreds of thousands of weight trainers who have gone before him – to their hopes, fears and disappointments, their plans, their successes and failures. He is the fruit of George Jowett, Jim Pedley, Mark Berry, Ronald Walker, Alan Calvert, Bill Lowry, “Father” Bill Curtis, John Barrs, Eugene Sandow, Bobby Pandour, Bill Pullum and the hosts of famous teachers, lifters, champions and those we never even heard of.

Our model of physical perfection is the result of the inspiration they furnished, the experiments they conducted, the knowledge they made available – of all that they were in the field of physical culture and weight training. For these reasons alone is it criminal for ANY Strength Athlete, teacher or authority to hold back any information – keep the training methods he uses secret or for a favored few – for that knowledge and information does not belong to him in the first place. He merely holds it in his keeping, safeguards it, dispenses it when it is needed, to EVERYONE who asks for it, makes every effort to improve on what he knows not only for his benefit but for the use of all the young kids who buy a barbell or sign a gym membership – who value health of mind and body above all else.

Years ago, Mark Berry wrote a book monumental in its field – “Physical Training Simplified” – and in a chapter devoted to arm development he put in a few hundred words, all that could be said at that time on developing the arms. The chapter was entitled – “Manly Arms Inspire Confidence”. That was exactly how I felt when I first saw a man named ARTHUR VERGE – an Englishman of the old school! This man’s arms were phenomenal for his height and weight – Arthur tipped the scale at 140 and wasn’t too tall – about 5 ft. 5 inches or so – I don’t know the exact figure – and his biceps taped a magnificent 16 inches. Forget all those tales of 18 and 19 inch arms you hear, possessed by men weighing 180 to 190 pounds – they are just tall tales and stories. A 16 inch arm on any fellow looks good even if he is around 200 and pretty tall. Imagine how Verge looked at his bodyweight and height with sixteen inches. I didn’t even know what a barbell was back then, yet as I looked at Arthur – I couldn’t have been more than ten or twelve years of age at the time – it aroused in me not only inspiration but CONFIDENCE. I wanted to be big, strong and healthy, and I vowed that some day I would have a pair of arms like Verge’s. “Some day” meant a couple of years to me. When you are a kid, a month appears to be a century in length, and three or four years, Infinity itself. At his weight, Verge could do a two hands slow curl in the Ultra-strict British style with a poundage of 140. He could curl two 40 pound dumbbells alternately for 40 reps each hand. He was somewhat of a whiz at deadlifting too, and, quite a MAN.

Most weight trainers commence their careers by trying with all they have to build up big arms and are very disappointed when they fail. They labor under the impression that the superficial display of bulging biceps denotes strength. I will make no attempt to try and disprove this, for every one of you reading this article is well aware that big arms are in themselves no true indication of a man’s power. But a finely developed pair of upper arms does add greatly to the appearance and, as Mark Berry said, inspires confidence in oneself. The general public figure that where there’s smoke there must be fire, and an athlete with a pair of bulky biceps MUST possess overall strength. The best known muscle of the body is the Biceps. While the major bulk of the upper arm is contained in the triceps – the group at the back and underside of the limb – it is the biceps that impart that massive, bulky, baseball look, that height of arm that adds so immeasurably to the physical development as a whole. It is an “easy gaining” muscle, gets large and defined if exercises properly, and stronger with less effort than the other muscles.

The field of Biceps development has never been thoroughly explored. Most weight trainers rely on curls, using conventional forms with barbell or dumbbell. Only recently have the more “concentrated” type of biceps exercises become offered to the public, utilizing the concept that the deep-seated muscle fibers MUST be activated if you hope to get close to the ultimate in biceps power and form. The Weider Arm Specialization Bulletin made thorough use of both rigid and loose types of arm training in conjunction with the Peak Contraction principle. Perhaps I can best explain the above by instancing two examples of massive arm size and power – Melvin Wells and Reg Park.

Both these men possess upper arm development so terrific that it has become the despair and envy of thousands of weight trainers. They both possess size, shape, strength, and definition. Well makes use of the very strict, orthodox forms of curls, using no body movement and relying on the power of the biceps itself to lift the weight. Park uses the looser forms of curling – cheating curls etc. Despite the conflict of the authorities over cheating methods and “PROPER” methods, both these strength athletes have managed to build up two examples of outstanding arm development, and have proven that exercise will build you up no matter how you use it – the EXERCISE is the important factor, not the form. The Weider Research Clinic compiled a schedule which contained all forms of biceps exercise, picking out the movements which were time honored and tested, combining them into the Arm Specialization Bulletin . . . The results were outstanding and will be the subject of the Editor in a forthcoming edition of this magazine.

Now for the Exercise Bench Biceps Routine. First, let’s discuss the importance of diet. It needed little effort on the part of our research workers to discover that a generous diet and a gain in weight is the best aid, apart from exercise, to increased arm size. In fact, this was obvious from the beginning. So drink a little more milk, eat generous portions of food at meal times and get an extra hour of sleep each night. Keep the bowels active and following the workout, take a hot shower, thoroughly cleansing the skin, followed by a COOL shower.

When you have finished this Exercise Bench Biceps Routine, tense and relax the biceps, forcing them to contract with a tremendous mental and physical effort. Tense one biceps, then, holding the fist at the shoulder, raise your elbow as high as you can, and when it is pointing straight up, pull the fist back down as far as possible. So great will be the contraction of the biceps that you will feel a sharp, knife-like pain. At this point, relax the muscle and repeat. After you have finished BOTH the weight exercises and the mental and peak contraction routine, massage the arms, allowing the muscles to relax, wobbling them from side to side. Squeeze them gently and massage them for five or ten minutes.

Exercise 1.

Here is an entirely new exercise, never before published in any magazine – pull-up curls. Take two exercise benches; they should be fairly high. Place them parallel and about three of four feet apart. Rest a six-foot bar across them. Lie underneath the bar so that if is directly over the upper chest. Reach up and grab hold of the bar with a shoulder width hand spacing. PALMS OF THE HANDS SHOULD FACE THE FEET, with elbows pointing TO THE FEET. Pull up until the chest touches the bar, HOLD the position for a full count of three, lower slowly and repeat. Don’t allow the elbows to move out or point to the sides. DO keep them pointing to the feet throughout the exercise. Start off with 3 sets of 10 reps and work up to 3 sets of 15. As soon as these are possible, add resistance by placing a barbell plate on the upper chest. Start off with a weight you can handle for 3 sets of 7 reps and work up to 3 sets of 12. The type of grip can be altered to provide change, novelty, and training interest. Instead of he palms of the hands facing the feet, reverse the grip and let the knuckles take up that position with the palms turned to the face.

Exercise 2.

In my other series – “Secrets of Strength” – I gave an exercise called Bench Curls. Here is the same exercise but with a profound difference. This time, instead of holding the barbell across the join of the hips and trunk, you hold it across the tops of the knees. Sit down on a bench with a barbell in your hands and keep UPPER ARMS tight against the sides of the body. Hold the knees together – you are sitting on the END of the bench – and lower the barbell straight down. Were it lands is where you curl from (see illustration). Start off with a weight you can comfortably handle for 3 sets of 8 reps and work up to 3 sets of 15. DON’T MOVE your upper arms during the exercise, and DON’T shift the barbell back to the hips before you curl it. MAKE SURE it rests across the knees with each and every repetition.

Exercise 3.

Here is a biceps exercise which utilizes peak contraction. Sit on a bench with a dumbbell held in one hand. The upper arm should be kept tightly against the side of the body and the knuckles should be facing OUT. Curl the weight to the shoulder. As the forearm is level with the ground, turn the hand PALM UP and continue the curl to the shoulder. From here, with the knuckles touching the shoulder, RAISE the elbow FORWARD and UP until you feel a sharp pain in the muscle. Lower and repeat. Start off with a weight you can comfortably handle for 3 sets of 8 reps working up to 3 sets of 15 reps before increasing the exercising poundage. Perform every phase of the exercise carefully. Don’t turn the palm of the hand until the forearm is level with the floor. Raise the elbow FORWARD and UP. Don’t let the upper arm move from the side of the body until the actual curl has been completed, the knuckles are touching the shoulder, and it is time to raise your elbow.

Exercise 4.

Another grand exercise for height and definition is the Kettle Bell Biceps Curl. Load up a couple of kettle bells with a poundage you can easily use for 3 sets of 8 reps. Lie on the bench so that the LENGTH of it is ACROSS your upper back. You should then be in the “crucifix” position with the kettle bells OVER each end o the bench – Pete Poulton’s excellent drawings show you how. From this position curl the kettle bells up until the FOREARMS are UPRIGHT; lower as SLOWLY as you can and repeat the movement. DON’T arch the back off the bench and DON’T move the upper arms. Concentrate on the action of the biceps and raise the kettle bells steadily and LOWER them SLOWLY.

Exercise 5.

One of the most successful biceps exercises from the Weider Arm Specialization Bulletin. “Bench End” curls have put more size and strength in fellows than any previous type of curl. Prop one end of your bench up on a box. Lie along the bench length on your tummy with the chest on one end, so that you can hold your upper arms against the support of the bench. Hold a barbell with a fairly narrow grip. Curl it from here as steadily as you can and then LOWER it SLOWLY. Make sure your bench is HIGH so that the barbell doesn’t rest on the floor at any time during the exercise. DON’T let the body or upper arms assist in the exercise. ONLY the FOREARMS move. Start off with a weight you can easily handle for 3 sets of 8 reps, working up to 3 sets of 15 reps.

Exercise 6.

Heavy Dumbbell Bouncing curls build tendon an ligament strength as well as making use of the muscle flushing principle. Seat yourself on the end of a bench and hold a HEAVY dumbbell at the shoulder just as if you had curled it. Throughout this exercise the elbow is tucked into the hips and the upper arm does not move. Drop the dumbbell – mind the toes there – and hit the floor with it – it’s best to do this exercise on a thick mat – getting a good rebound and making use of the bounce to curl the weight to the shoulder again. Start off with a weight you can handle for FOUR sets of 5 reps, working to 4 sets of TEN reps. Don’t forget, use a HEAVY weight, get a GOOD bounce and DON’T move that upper arm OR BODY.

Use these exercises as a BENCH BICEPS SPECIALIZATION routine. Cut out all movements in your program that resemble them and replace them with this Bench Biceps Schedule. Next month I’ll give you some new and result-producing triceps exercises as we continue with this Science of the Exercise Bench series.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Incline Power Rack Presses - Armand Tanny

Incline Power Rack Presses
by Armand Tanny

For sheer power, for undiluted form, for an immensity of poundage hardly conceivable, 300-pound power lifter Pat Casey’s high incline press of 380 stands alone as the greatest overhead Press performance of all time. What makes it unique is the fact that he pressed it out of a power rack from a dead start, with the bar at chin level, seated on an incline bench angled to a steep 85 degrees. Unlike the questionable Military Press there was no body english, no shoulder heave, no back bend, only the movement of the arms, explosions in the deltoids and triceps with all the contained power of an underground H-bomb test. That’s the kind of dead-stop power the power lifting requires.

Power lifters themselves speak apologetically of the lack of technique in the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift. They will say that the Olympic lifts take more coordination, more practice, more speed. Some of them say they went into power lifting because they didn’t have the time that the highly technical Olympic lifting takes. Power lifters needn’t be so meek. Every movement on this earth abides by an eternal math. The fact that the bar travels further vertically on the Olympic lifts than it does on the power lifts does not mean that it takes more strength. Would you say it took greater strength to Snatch 350 pounds a vertical distance of six feet than to Squat with 700 pounds, a vertical rise of three feet? Not really. In fact, an error of the mind, the group firing of nerve impulses to the muscles, can be absorbed and dissolved in in the liquid of technique of Olympic lifting. But not so with power lifting. If the mind sends out insufficient impulses, the weight comes down, and the effort is a total loss. The power lifter must pay for that short vertical distance, he must lift that weight. He must pay with his mind; he must focus his efforts like a burning glass. A subtle mentality controls power lifting. If there is anything meek about this mentality, and if there is anything to the rapid proliferation of power lifting, then rejoice, because soon power lifters will inherit the world of strength.

The rules governing power lifting virtually eliminate cheating: the dead stop at the chest before pressing and the 32-inch maximum grip; the bar resting on the shoulder, not part way down the back when squatting; and the non-stop pull on the deadlift. There are physical aids like knee wraps and the lifting belt. But largely technique lies with the ultimate of all devices – the human brain. In that sense, technique is the major part of power lifting.

Incline Power Rack Pressing, then, is another way of intensifying effort. On the weekly basis of training where the Bench Press flat is done on Tuesday and Saturday a reserve power can be tapped in a different, and secondary, area by using the incline. Since heavy flat Bench Pressing two days in a row would only lead to exhaustion, the idea of attacking the muscles on another quarter proved to be correct. Intermediate areas in the pressing range of motion are weak. The power rack acts as a sort of a booster station. The initial impulse to boost the bar off the chest was suspected of weakening as the barbell went up. Why should the bar rise, say five inches from the chest, from an initial maximum explosion to come toppling back. If it went up five inches, why couldn’t it have gone up all the way? Over at the West Side Barbell Club in Culver City, California, not too long ago they began to suspect this common condition. They were losing too many presses after getting the bar halfway up. Down it come, a total loss. A flaw existed in the machine. To repeat the process meant only to be practicing their mistakes. There was no margin for error. They could raise their butt off the bench and complete the lift, but that meant practicing another mistake. What then? How unlike Olympic lifting this was, where technique could overcome weakness. Olympic lifters depend on momentum, the big second pull, then the technique of keeping the bar in the slot. A power lifter’s brain must fire impulses to the muscle in a steady barrage through the entire range of motion with little if no benefit from momentum. You could hardly say that a power lifter slowing inching up a heavy Deadlift was depending at all on momentum.

Therefore, on the odd, light workout days, Wednesday and Sunday, immediately following the heavy Tuesday and Saturday, the booster stations may be given some attention. Working from three different positions the procedure is this:

1) Incline bench at 50 degrees. Bar at chin level in the power rack (about 5 inches off the chest). Regular grip (about 22 inches).
Arbitrary Schedule:
135 x 10
185 x 5
225 x 3
270 x 4
295 x 1
315 x 5 singles

2) Incline bench still at 50 degrees. Bar at EYE level (about 7½ inches off the chest). Regular grip (22”).
Without further warmup proceed:
300 x 1
310 x 1
320 x 1
330 x 1
350 x 1

3) Incline bench at 80 degrees. Bar at chin level. Regular grip (22”).
Without further warmup proceed:
220 x 1
235 x 1
245 x 1
255 x 1
270 x 1
270 x 1

Occasionally the procedure can be reversed, starting with the steep incline position. Then it would be necessary to take about four warmup sets. After that, no warmup sets are necessary for the positions following.

The number of heavy singles never exceed 18. This rule is fairly general for all the power lifts. In other words, on no particular day will the number of heavy single attempts on either the Bench Press, Squat, or Deadlift be in excess of 18. This applies not only to the three regular power lifts but also to their variations such as Incline Presses, Bench or Box Squats, and High Deadlifts from the blocks. All the necessary effort can be packed into a capsuled 18 single, heavy attempts.

The procedure on these exercises is not necessarily rigid. Remember, these are supplemental exercises to be varied to suit your private stamina. If you happened to work extremely hard on positions 1 and 2, nothing says you can’t ease up on the third position by simply doing a light 4 sets of 10 reps. Also, you may prefer to limit this routine to once a week. A lot depends on your time and energy.

The arms will assume a natural position that rides in the same vertical plane as the bar. That means the elbows are wide, and it may be necessary to turn the head to keep from hitting the chin.

Incline power rack presses are done in the strictest style. Keeping the butt glued to the seat of the bench eliminates the possibility of cheating. A sponge pad may be used to prevent sliding off the seat. The emphasis on strictness makes the conventional standing Press a vulgarity of a sort. In the first place it forces the lower spine into a position not required for power lifting. The support from the incline bench eliminates this possible aggravation. With the back braced against the inclined bench, and with the bar free of the body, elevated on the pins of the power rack, the power lifter is virtually straight-jacketed, locked in by his own design, and forced to depend on the pure power of the nerve impulses to charge the waiting deltoids and triceps. The movement is locked on course in the same way the inertial guidance system steer an atomic submarine.

The whole idea of assist movements is to search out weaknesses and destroy them. The power lifters of the West Side Barbell Club conduct a constant search to learn more about building power. They are ready to try any innovation, and always seem to find time and energy for a new experiment. They are dedicated to making ever greater lifts. Power rack training is a cultural necessity. You will be left behind without it. The greats all employ it at one time or another. It has helped make champs like Bill West. Leonard Ingro and George Frenn. The power rack is what helped give Pat Casey the ability to take 590 pounds from the flat bench rack, unassisted, and make a perfect Bench Press with it.

Power rack training for power lifters is the low-reps version of the bodybuilder’s high-reps priority system – low reps for size and strength, high reps for contour and definition.

So get with it. Your muscles may be dozing. Alarm them, drill them with a high intensity program of Incline Power Rack Presses, and watch your strength take off.

Article courtesy of Reuben Weaver.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Developing the Lower Back - Charles A. Smith

The famous lower back exercise of Charles Ramsey, the "Back Hinge".

Developing the Lower Back
by Charles A. Smith (1951)

I see the figure of an old man. Bent, gnarled of feature and shuffling of gait, he moves along to the end of his earthly days. I see the figure of another man, old too, yet, upright and firm of step. As he journeys on his way, his carriage is erect, his eye bright and his tread assured. The first old man is what you and I might have been if we had not one day in the past taken hold of a long steel bar with weights at each end and commenced our bodybuilding career. The other figure is what we are assured of one of these days . . . a healthy, happy and strong old age . . . a triumphant end to the Symphony of Living.

It has been said by others that the back is the seat of man’s Power, that “a Man is as strong as his back.” May I qualify these statements and say that the LOWER BACK is what holds a man together, permits him to exert his full strength, makes him what he is, what every Weight Lifter and Body Builder works for . . . a picture of Powerful Virile and Vitality-filled Manhood. It is one of my firmest convictions that together with the legs, it is impossible to pay too much attention to the development of the lower back. It is another belief of mine, just as firm as the previous, that the condition of the Spinal muscles and area is a 100% determination of what the general physical condition will itself be!

That vital column we call The Spine, covered with two long ropes of muscle . . . the Erector Spinae . . . houses the Control Tower and Power Lines of the entire physique . . . Shatter the spine and death can result. If you are lucky enough to survive, living is no longer normal. Even a badly sprained back makes it almost impossible to get around. Once you’re on your back, with an injury to that region, you can’t get onto your feet without help and great discomfort and suffering.

In the field of Sport, it is hard to imagine an athlete with a weak lumbar region. For a weightlifter or bodybuilder to be in possession of lower back muscles below par in strength and development is a sheer physical impossibility. Examine the lower back of any strength athlete and you’ll readily observe that even those who have been devotees not more than three or four months already have a condition of musculature of the lower spine that is well above the development of Mr. Average Man.

The muscles of the lower Erector Spinae are easy to develop, swift to respond to the stimulus of Specialization Exercises. They get stiff and sore more quickly than the other muscle groups and they recover, with care, more readily. The CAN be overworked yet once broken in to hard exercise will stand almost any amount of reasonably tough workouts. In all exercises calling for a standing position, the muscles of the back are called into play . . . squats . . . curls . . . presses . . . rowing motions . . . every movement requiring an upright stance would be impossible of performance if the back was in any way injured . . . So, if you young bodybuilders and weightlifters haven’t as yet realized the importance of the lower back and the direct necessity of strengthening it, by the time you finish this article you should be well sold on the inclusion of a lot of Erector Spinae movements in your schedule!

The late Alan Calvert, father of Modern Weight Training in this country, fully realized the importance of the lower back. In his monumental work, “SUPER STRENGTH”, he devoted a whole chapter to the region

Thanks, Bob!

and started off by saying, “THE KEYSTONE OF THE ARCH OF A MAN’S STRENGTH IS THE ‘SMALL’ OF HIS BACK”. He pointed out that a man could have a magnificent pair of arms and shoulders , yet if he was weak in the loins and back, he could never hope to be classed as a real Strong Man. To give weight to his crystal clear words, he instanced gymnasts, trapeze artists and Roman Ring performers. “These men have wonderful arm development,” said Calvert . . . “can perform amazing feats of strength when it comes to chinning and dipping . . . in any movement where the legs are not used . . . but when it comes to feats of REAL POWER . . . the elevating of massive weights overhead . . . they fail for nearly all of them have puny hips and thighs and lower back.”

“When a man is standing on his feet,” Calvert pointed out, “he positively cannot exert the full strength of his arms, unless the strength of his back and legs is in PROPORTION to the strength of his arms and shoulders.” To my mind, this statement has never been more powerfully illustrated than in two giants of strength. One of them is dead, and the other has just risen above the horizon. One, unfortunately, never duplicated officially what he was easily capable of in training, and the other is struggling against a PETTY officialdom to have his titanic feats of power given recognition . . . I refer to the late and wonderful Ronald Walker of England, and the newest lifting sensation, Doug Hepburn of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Both of these men exemplify power of unusual quality. Ron Walker, though never what present day authorities would call a GREAT presser, possessed a strength of back that was truly extraordinary. Onetime holder of the world heavy snatch record with a poundage of 297¼, . . . he snatched 320 in training and could clean 300 with one hand officially ANY time he also had an unofficial one hand clean of 320 to his credit. Yet it was that super lower back power that enabled him to heave heavy weights overhead. Perhaps one of the most gigantic feats of back strength I have ever seen was in the late thirties when Ron was taking part in his last British championship as an Amateur. He was continentaling 404 pounds . . . had brought the weight from the ground to the belt and from the belt to the shoulders. Then he jerked the barbell to arms’ length. In an effort to fix the weight he didn’t hesitate to bend right back with it until the trunk formed almost a right angle with the floor. Failing to lock out, the fifth-of-a-ton crashed back down across his shoulders and Ron, HOLDING IT THERE WHILE STILL BENT BACK, regained UPRIGHT POSITION and put the bar back on the platform again. Just imagine the enormous strength of back it took to do this!

Doug Hepburn, through the efforts of Weider Publications and particularly those of this writer, is now getting the acclaim that is rightfully his due. Prior to our bringing him to New York, others refused to believe the feats of strength he claimed. But since he came to America and PROVED his worth, everyone is trying to jump on the Hepburn bandwagon . . . The strength of this man is incredible. Inside of 20 minutes, he broke every record created in the VAL gymnasium. Doug pressed weights from 300 to 365 pounds, and jerk-pressed up to 395. On another occasion, he was given 405 into the shoulders, gave a heave, the weight stopping in the region of his forehead. From there he pressed it to arms’ length with a little back bend. Immediately after finishing this enormous feat of arm and shoulder power, he did a FULL squat of 550 pounds without any warmup. Imagine the strength this required, after all that previous strain on the back muscles, to make such a heavy squat . . . No further proof is needed that the small of the back is indeed the keystone of a man’s strength.

Muscle Movements, which are possible in conjunction with an exercise bench, lend themselves admirably by virtue of their peculiar “leverage” efforts to the COMPLETE development of the lower back. Some of them are indeed valuable because the weight of the body alone can be handled to prepare the region for the heavier weights that can be used, and HAVE to be used in order to approach the ultimate. It is important to realize that this table of exercises given below is a SPECIALIZATION SCHEDULE and in order to get the most out of it, all movements that resemble these exercises must be cut from your ordinary workout program. If possible, it is best to cut out any exercises that affect the back including the deep knee bend, substituting Leg Presses. A Lower Back Specialization schedule should go something like this . . . Bench presses . . . Seated curls . . . Bench rowing motions or Pulldowns on the lat machine . . . Flying exercises and Incline bench deltoid raises . . . Leg presses for the thigh work, and THEN your lower back specialization course. After the workout, put hot packs on the lower back and rub in a good athletic lotion or embrocation. Give the lower back muscles a good massaging.

Exercise One

Here is a movement that directly affects the LOWER erector spinae and the entire range of muscles generally. Lie face down on the exercise bench with the hips at the end . . . the entire torso, from the head and shoulders down to the bend of the hips, will be projecting over the bench end. A training partner should be in attendance to hold you down firmly. Clasp the hands behind the neck and simply lower the trunk down until the head is near the floor . . . about an inch above it – raise it to the bench level again and repeat. DON’T let the head touch the ground and DON’T go above parallel. Start off with 2 sets of 12 reps. Gradually progress, with no attempt to rush either reps or exercising poundage, by holding barbell plates at the back of the head. As soon as you are able to make 2 sets of 12 reps, add the resistance of a 2½ pound plate and start all over again.

Exercise Two

Another “muscle isolation” exercise . . . a movement that places stress directly on the muscles involved is the Bench Good Morning Exercise. Seat yourself on the bench with LIGHT barbell across the back of the shoulders. Grip the sides of the bench with your thighs, lower the trunk DOWN towards the end of the bench until it almost touches it, then raise and repeat. Peter Poulton’s excellent illustration shows you how. Start off with a weigh you can handle EASILY for 3 sets of 5 reps, and work up to 3 sets of 10 reps before increasing the weight.

Exercise Three

In a recent article of this Exercise Bench series . . . Developing the Abdominals . . . I gave an exercise for the obliques. A similar movement is also a builder of powerful Lumbar muscles. Here is how it’s done. Lie on your side on a bench . . . your training partner should hold your legs down . . . the hips should be on the end of the bench with a pillow or padding under the hip for comfort . . . if you are using a WEIDER padded exercise bench (plug over) this should not be necessary! The hands should be clasped behind the neck. From this position LOWER the trunk down as far as possible, stopping just above the floor, and then RAISING the trunk as HIGH as you can go. As soon as you reach this position, DON’T lower the trunk at once but HOLD it for a short count of three, then lower and repeat. Start off with 3 sets of 5 reps and work up to 3 sets of 10 reps before you add any weight.

Exercise Four

Stiff Legged Dead Lifts are generally recognized as tops in producing outstanding lower back development. Many weight trainers find these hard to perform without incurring muscle strain because of the lengths of their backs. Here is one way, introduced by me previously in the Foundations of Power series . . . the Bench Stiff-Legged Dead Lift. Place a weight equal to your best clean across the end of a bench. Stand up to the weight and grasp it with a normal “clean” hand spacing. Make your first rep an ordinary dead lift and from then go on, keeping the knees locked and the legs straight. From this upright position lower the weight down until it touches the bench and, without any rebound, return to upright position again. Start off with 3 sets of 8 reps and work up to 3 sets of 15 reps before increasing the exercise poundage.

Exercise Five

The final lower spine movement in this group is known as the Back Hinge. It was originated by that Grand Old Youngster of lifting, Mr. Charles Ramsey. You don’t need a heavy poundage and the man who can use 150 pounds is indeed powerful. At first glance the movement would appear to be a version of the stiff legged dead lift on a bench, but there is a certain method of using it that makes it stand out as a Spinal Muscle developer. Here it is . . . Stand on a low bench with the weight held in your hands . . . as in the finish of the regular dead lift. Lower the weight to the feet so that it just touches them. From here raise the body to upright position but DON’T ALLOW THE BAR TO HANG AWAY FROM THE BODY, KEEP IT TOUCHING THE LEGS ALL THE WAY TO UPRIGHT POSITION. All you need to do is to press the bar against the legs all the way and don’t allow it to lose contact. As you lift the bar up, press the head up and back. Start off with a weight you can handle for 3 sets of 8 reps, and work up to 3 sets of 15 reps.

Don’t forget that the muscles of the lower back are the most important in the body. Work on them hard and regularly, for the dividends they pay mean strength in youth and vigor on old age.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Power/Mass Training - Gene Mozee

IronMan, August 1936

June 2011

Bob Adams' Vintage Muscle Mags

Power/Mass Training
by Gene Mozee

Why can’t you build muscle mass and density? Is something stopping you from getting bigger and stronger? Maybe you need a dose of power-mass training!

When I first began training many years ago, my goal was to get bigger so that I could play football and, of course, have a better physique. I gained 30 pounds in the first six months, and the additional muscle size and strength greatly enhanced my athletic ability. I became stuck, however, at 159 pounds and just couldn’t gain another ounce no matter how hard I worked out or how many calories I consumed. Sound familiar? I bounced around from gym to gym and tried every workout program used by champs like Clancy Ross, Jack Delinger and Reg Park. I was so confused I was about ready to throw in the towel and hang it up.

Fortunately, I met John Farbotnik at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California, and he invited me to his gym in Glendale. Farbotnik, who had won both the Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles in 1960, took my measurements and evaluated my physique and my training program. He explained to me that I was overtraining and overeating.

“To build greater muscle size and bodyweight, it takes proper activity, proper nutrition, and sufficient rest and sleep. To develop muscle mass you need to use progressively heavier poundages and build greater strength.”

“Light warmup exercises will never build the muscle size you want,” Farbotnik continued. “Light dumbbell movements like concentration curls, which are necessary for shaping and peaking the biceps, are fine, but who needs them to work on 15-inch arms? Hack squats are great for shaping the thighs, but if you want real muscle mass, you need heavy squats. You must handle consistently heavier weights in combination with a more scientific, weight-gaining diet to reach your goals.”

I soon found out that John knew his stuff. I joined his gym and gained 30 more pounds in three months. My bench press went from 275 to 360. My arms went from 15.5 to 18 inches, and my chest increased from 45 to 48 inches. At the same time I found out that a substantial increase in body power produced a simultaneous increase in muscle mass.

The most effective way to produce greater muscle mass is to hit the deep-lying muscle fibers with heavy poundages. These submerged fibers are rarely activated if you don’t use heavy weights. A basic, scientific law, the all-or-none principle, operates in relation to muscle use – that is, an individual muscle fiber either reacts with all of its contractile power or it doesn’t react at all. There is no in between, no compromise.

Your muscles are very economical, operating with as few fibers as they can. Light weights activate only a few muscle fibers, while heavy poundages stimulate the maximum number possible. As a muscle group gets progressively stronger and larger, you must continually add more poundage to stimulate the maximum number of fibers. You have to constantly challenge your muscles to work harder and harder if you want to build dense, quality mass.

Unless you are a student of anatomy, you may be wondering what these deep-lying muscle fibers are. They are auxiliary muscle fibers that attach to a major muscle group such as the biceps, pectorals, triceps, deltoids or quadriceps and often surround its base. When they are bombarded with heavy power exercises, they thicken and increase in size, thus giving the muscle greater strength, more stamina, larger girth, improved shape and increased fullness.

Generally speaking, performing an exercise with a moderate weight will produce only limited improvement. It will help shape and enlarge a particular muscle, but unless the deep-lying muscle fibers of that muscle are aroused, it will never reach maximum development. Therefore, to activate those fibers and force your muscles to grow larger, you must blast them with the heaviest weapons in your arsenal – heavy power-mass exercises. The magic formula is this: More weight plus more work (handling consistently heavier poundages) equals maximum mass and power.

When you attack the big, major muscle groups (chest, legs, back, and shoulders) with heavy power-mass exercises, all the other related groups – primary, secondary and tertiary – are stimulated into new growth. For example, when you do heavy bench presses in power-mass style, your deltoids, triceps, and even upper back receive extra benefits that make them larger, stronger, and capable of handling heavier poundages on specific deltoid and arm exercises. This increased strength is one of the keys to building the muscle mass and density you seek.

The following program was used by Marvin Eder, possibly the strongest bodybuilder who ever hoisted a barbell. In the ‘50s, Eder, along with George Eiferman, had the most massive pecs west of the Pecos. Eder was so strong that he benched 510 pounds and did standing presses with 365. He weighed 198, had 19-inch arms and could do 5 sets of 10 reps with the 120s in the seated dumbbell press. He also did 12 one-arm chins with his right hand and 11 with his left.

Eder told me that his secret to building record-breaking power and incredible muscularity was power-mass training. The following routine is one he used, and it is the one he recommended to me. It not only helped me gain many pound of muscle, but it pushed my bench press and overhead pressing strength to new heights.

1) Squats – Keep the feet fairly close together. Squat to slightly below parallel, keeping your knees pointing forward. Exhale strongly at the hard spot on the way up.

2) Bench Presses – Use a medium-wide grip, with your hands about 26 to 32 inches apart. Lower the bar slowly to the highest point on your chest and immediately ram it back to the top as you exhale.

3) Heavy Bentover Barbell Rows – Use the same as for the bench press. Bend forward with your back parallel to the floor and pull the bar up until it touches the rib cage. Lower the bar slowly close to your body, but don’t let it touch the floor. Use some cheat on the last few reps.

4) Standing Barbell Presses – Use a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width grip. Take the barbell off a squat rack rather than cleaning it, and preserve all your energy for pressing. Keep your entire body tight and exhale as you press the weight up. Do the reps rapidly without pausing at the top or bottom.

5) Lat Machine Pulldowns – Using a fairly wide grip with your hands six to eight inches wider than shoulder-width, pull the bar down to just below your collar bones until it touches your upper chest. You can also substitute some form of chins for this exercise, or alternate each workout.

6) Heavy Dumbbell Curls – Do this exercise while seated on a sturdy bench. Use a slight cheating motion as you inhale, curling the bells upward until they touch your delts. Exhale as you lower them all the way to straight arms.

7) Cool Down – 100 legs raises or other light ab work.

Train three times a week on alternate days.
Perform each exercise for 3 sets of 8 reps the first two weeks.
After two weeks increase to 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps.
Take a light week.
Increase to 5 sets of 5 to 7 reps on each exercise for a month.
Take a light week.
Increase to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps, and 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each exercise for a month.

Relax and rest between each set until you have fully recuperated enough to go on. Schedule your workout so that you will have enough time to go through it without rushing. Don’t add any other exercises. Warm up before each exercise.

Get on a five to six meal a day diet, eating a protein-rich meal or snack every three hours or so. Consume at least one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight, plus an additional 10% for growth. As your weight increases, increase your intake. Stick to about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight and keep the crap to a minimum.

Eight to nine hours of sound sleep will increase the speed of your gains, both in strength and size. Take it easy for these three-and-a-half months if you can, and see what power-mass training can do.

Progressive Exercise in the Treatment of Neuro-Psychiatric Patients - Vic Nicoletti

Progressive Resistance Exercise
by DeLorme & Watkins

Paul Anderson

Progressive Exercise in the Treatment of Neuro-Psychiatric Patients
by Vic Nicoletti (1960)
Corrective Therapist, Veteran’s Administration Hospital

Today, progressive resistance training is prescribed as the quickest method for recovery from a variety of physical ailments. As a result of pioneer work done by Dr. Thomas Delorme, the value of this application of weight training is universally known and accepted. Not nearly so well-known is the topic of this article – the value of progressive weight training and bodybuilding in the treatment of neuro-psychiatric patients. After explaining the theory and methodology of this application of weight training, I will relate an example of an actual class where progressive resistance exercise was greatly responsible for the overall improvement of a particular patient of mine, and eventually led to his discharge from the hospital and proper adjustment to he realities of life.

Before I go any further I would like to review very briefly the field of corrective therapy. This therapy is just one of the services of the area called Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services. The other services included are occupational therapy, physical therapy, industrial therapy, educational therapy, and manual arts therapy. Each plays a part in the successful treatment of patients administered under the direct supervision of a doctor of medicine, who determines the goals and limits of the therapist’s work, specifying these by prescription.

In addition to treating geriatrics, organic disabilities, posture deviations, etc., corrective therapy plays an important part in the treatment of mental patients. Exercise and resocialization activities are included for the psychiatric patient – specifically oriented toward the accomplishment of psychiatric objectives. These programs are carefully geared to the patient’s level and ability to function, and provide for the channeling of socially unacceptable behavior into acceptable expressions of behavior. They provide for proper progression in physical and social complexities as the patient is able or willing to accept progress. In short, the activities of corrective therapy are utilized by the therapist to place the patient into group situations of a motivational nature in order to improve his ability to get along with others and to encourage socialization. It is known that neurotic and schizophrenic patients especially are afraid of social contacts and tend to be concerned with their own feelings of fantasies. By associating with others this orientation tends to be changed as the patients interact through working, playing, and talking together.

In the case of psychiatric patients, the corrective therapist must be continuously aware of and capable of handling the patient’s need for expression of hostility, relief of guilt feelings, desire for gratification, development of self-confidence, skill, etc. Not only must the therapist have complete knowledge of the psychiatric illness, but, due to the extreme difficulty in handling these patients, he must have many techniques ready to be used momentarily to control any situation that may occur.

To begin with, I want to point out the fact that weight training and body-building in a mental hospital for the purpose of just building oneself up is a secondary objective. The primary purpose of this type of exercise is to establish an interpersonal relationship between the patient and the therapist. A good corrective therapist never loses sight of the primary value of interpersonal relationship, therefore the program capitalizes on the resultant relationship between patient and therapist.

In regard to the patient’s need for expression of hostility and aggression, weight training plays an important role. Through this type of therapy a friendly relationship is established, the patient’s pent-up tensions are drained. Actually, these patients who display excessive aggression and hostility are really just presenting a front; underneath they often long to establish friendly relations and experience acceptance and love. Group activities, especially in weight training, can foil such aggression. The therapist accepts it, and gives some respect and affection instead of just counter-hostility. This reaction toward these patients tends to effect changes in them which leads them to become more socially responsible and responsive. While in the process of weight training in a group, one patient tends to become emphatic toward another, which simply means that by use of imagination, one projects his own consciousness into his training partner. Each tends to learn to respond toward others in a way that gains respect, admiration, approval and support. This gratifies the patient’s needs for recognition. In a nutshell, the therapist guides these aggressive patients toward weight training for socially acceptable behavior instead of taking it out toward people. Daily training with weights in a progressive manner drains off excess energy and offers the patient an opportunity to literally sweat out some of his conflicts.

Progressive weight training is also utilized for mental patients to instill confidence. It seems that many withdrawn patients, due to one or other causes, never were successful in sports, especially team activities that require skillful coordination and bodily contact. Due to being underweight, overweight, possessing poor muscular coordination, being over-pampered by parents, etc., these individuals became spectators and consistently shunned normal competitive sports. Frequently many of them, especially during school days, went through a series of physical education traumas. That is, they were humiliated and ridiculed by their playmates or often a sarcastic teacher. If sensitive, they later set up defense mechanisms by using a multitude of excuses to avoid physical education activities. Weight training, on the other hand, is an activity that can be performed alone without fear of competition or ridicule. The patient competes against himself, and eventually, as he sees physical results, his ego is built up. He begins to receive compliments and recognition and in return commences to train with other patients in small groups. Following this, and with renewed confidence, he begins to engage in competitive sports that he formerly avoided. This interaction adds to his resocialization.

In the utilization of weight training to treat patients with guilt feelings, the therapist guides them into heavy physical workouts using a progressive resistive program. This exercise activity is like an atonement to the patients, and usually is very successful as a treatment. The patient using this modality feels that he is punishing himself for his guilt feelings; through exhaustive and energetic workouts a sense of relief is obtained, thus relieving his inner conflicts.

One of the chief aims of a weight-training program as utilized in a corrective therapy clinic is for the narcissistic gratifications of a patient. After a patient has achieved the body image which he has in mind, it may be possible for the therapist to guide him into some activity in which his muscles are of constructive use, such as gymnastics, wrestling, football, etc. This then is the job of the therapist. He is actually using weight training as a stepping stone for the proper treatment of a patient. One can see that, in more than one way, weight training and body-building as made available through the services of corrective therapy play an important role in the treatment of neuro-psychiatric patients.

Patients who show an interest in weight training but cannot or will not do precisely as they are instructed are guided to work with various pulley machines for the safety of themselves and others.

Newcomers in weight training are placed on a general body-building program with the usual progressive system. Both the upper and lower body exercises are charted. Each exercise is performed in three sets, ten repetitions for each set. The weight is increased when the requisite number of repetitions become easy. The initial program includes basic exercises such as the military press, the supine press, curls, pullovers, the full squat, the dead lift, heel raises, and sit-ups. After a month or so, other exercises are added to the program. By this time the patient is well conditioned and has a greater tolerance for sustained workouts. Usually three workouts a week are initially planned, but this later is increased to four and sometimes to five. To minimize the possibilities of muscle strains considerable stress is placed upon warm-up exercises, particularly of a stretching nature.

Many of the patients have continued this form of activity as a hobby after leaving the hospital. Many of them join gyms, a YMCA, or train at home. Occasionally I receive letters from patients who have left the hospital desiring some advice regarding their training program or informing me how beneficial their weight training program has been to them. I encourage the patients to join a gym rather than work out by themselves, as I regard the socializing element as of great assistance in enabling the patient to readjust to the outside world. Where finance or location will not permit membership in a gym, I urge him to get a few neighborhood training partners to work out with.

To conclude this article in a concise form, I would like to offer a good example of how weight training actually aided in the overall treatment of a psychiatric patient. I will use the assumed name of John Doe. Mr. Doe entered the Sepulveda VA Hospital three years ago with a diagnosis of schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type. He was argumentative, provocative, aggressive and assaultive. He had a chronic struggle with authority which was always acted out in verbal and physical ways. He had a very little tension tolerance and an active delusional behavior. He thought that people talked detrimentally about him behind his back. He was uncooperative and refused to participate in group activities, but spent his time alone engaging in individual activities.

Mr. John Doe, along with other patients from a locked ward, came to my corrective therapy clinic, and through observation I noticed that this patient had an inkling of interest in weight training and a marked narcissistic tendency. He had some natural strength but handled the weights incorrectly. With this interest as a foundation I slowly built up a positive rapport with John. I spent some time giving Mr. Doe individual attention in the basic weight-training exercises. This was followed by placing the patient on a progressive resistance program. Eventually a positive interpersonal relationship was built up between the two of us which led to cooperativeness. He began to learn limits and his to relate and cooperate in small groups with control. He developed a cooperative pattern of self-directed activity instead of the previous pattern of diffuse, angry and demanding behavior. By constant encouragement, support, setting of reasonable limits, and insistence on conformance, this patient slowly responded favorably. His tension tolerance increased and his delusional behavior began to disappear. He became a model patient and I personally put him in charge of teaching other interested patients the fundamentals of weight-training. In addition to his encouraging treatment, mentally, he developed his physique and strength to such an extent that he was outstanding in any group. About this time, the annual odd lift contest was nearing at Venice Beach, so we trained together for it. I entered Mr. Doe’s name in both the novice and open class that particular summer, and he placed second in both events. This was an outstanding feat, considering that this was his first endeavor in competition, in addition to the fact that he was up against numerous fellows from Santa Monica Muscle Beach. These victories built up his ego and gratified his narcissistic feelings.

A few months later, John Doe was discharged from the hospital. Following my advice, he is now attending a college in Utah, majoring in the field of sociology. According to his letter to me, he is doing splendidly academically and still continues his weight training religiously. Due to his tremendous strength and aggressiveness, he is wrestling on the college team, and is so successful that he has been given a partial scholarship. He is using his developed muscles constructively, which is, as I mentioned earlier, one of the objectives of weight training for the proper treatment of a psychiatric patient.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lockout Prones - Armand Tanny

Lockout Prones
by Armand Tanny (1968)

Momentum has a brief lifespan in the wide gulf that separates the start of the bench press with the bar on the chest to the completion of the lift with the arms locked out at the top. The start of the effort, when you think of it, is the easier part. There is always that certain heave from the chest, the help from the lats, and the fact that even the bar gives somewhat before the weight moves up. If you happen to have the initial fire-power of Pat Casey, and happen to be pressing around 600, the bar may travel nearly all the way to the top, at which point, suddenly recoiling, the oscillating plates on the ends of the bar exert a subtle and gigantic downward force that can be stopped only with the help of the triceps on a twenty-three inch arm.

In most cases power failure occurs about half-way up. Momentum ceases, and the lift hangs between life and death. If you have faithfully tuned in to these monthly power lift articles, you will recall how the prone was rescued from certain death right near the top by the appearance of “Triceps Power Cheats”, or how “Incline Power Cheats” prevented the prone from falling for the wicked body arch that corrupts so many chaste lifts, and finally how the “Touch System in Bench Pressing” worked its clever sorcery in a way that made midheavyweight Bill West’s prone go from 360 to 410 in three short months.

This latest segment on lockout prones attempts to show once again a method of striking at the sticking point of bench pressing by appealing to the ever-faithful power rack.

Although it bears a resemblance to the foregoing supplemental methods, the lockout prone introduce an effective new angle. It uses mainly the deadest of the dead starts. It begins from a position above the chest, from the power rack, totally isolated, dependent entirely on the voltage exerted by the brain on a muscle entirely inert trying to raise a weight entirely limp.

Now then, if it is such a tough movement, some may ask, how come you can prone so much more out of the rack at a position above the chest than you can on your regular press? Casey, for example, can do 700 from a position in the rack about six inches from the chest. His regular bench press is 620. The answer is position. He puts himself into position to press in a straight up and down line. That makes the difference when pressing out of the power rack.

There are two ways of pressing out of the power rack – the one just described, and the second one (distinct from the first), which we call lockout prones, which follows the true path of the regular unassisted press starting from the chest. They are both as different as true north and magnetic north on a compass. To find true north one must make the correction from magnetic north to which the compass needle will a always point. The magnetic north pole is many hundreds of miles off the side of the real north pole. Likewise, a correction must be made when using the power rack for this movement in question.

What this means is that the true prone does not follow a straight up and down line. When the bar is lowered to the chest after the handoff on a regular prone, it swings a few degrees in the direction of the feet. When it is pressed off the chest, the line of movement now swings toward the head. There is an unlikely chance that the line of movement would be perfectly vertical unless one pressed like middleweight Bill Thurber who has perfected the method of pressing at clavicle level. For most lifters Thurber’s method is as alien ass outer space.

Therefore, when pressing in the power rack by this method, the bar is placed at a position toward the feet that would coincide with the line of action of the regular press. The bar follows the same line of movement for each rep.

In the first position for starting the exercise the bar is fairly close to the chest, elevated approximately two inches. The upper arms are approximately parallel to the floor. In this position the action depends primarily on the pecs. The delts do a large share of the work getting the bar off the chest during a regular press, but in this exercise their services are diminished. This intermediate range – 2 to 8 inches off the chest – is mainly pec action. “The lockout remains with the triceps. So throughout the bench press motion the three muscles have individual duties. Of course, with some degree of overlapping. The major concern of lockout prones is to hurdle that middle area in which the press bogs down and stalls. With the absence of momentum this middle area is shocked into action. It launches what may be called an intensified “volley firing”. More impulses are sent from the brain to the pec muscles through the regular channels forcing the pecs to work harder. Somewhere in this process sticking points lose their stick.

This is a lonely exercise since body English is virtually eliminated. Bounce, arch and momentum are absent. Still, the entire body must be correctly positioned from the feet to the head.

The movement is practiced only once a week, usually on a Tuesday where the limit day is a Saturday on a weekly workout basis. This gives the pressing muscles plenty of time for recovery. The movement starts off the Tuesday session, and with the bar on the cross pins 2” above the chest a series of sets would go like this:

145 x 10
185 x 10
245 x 5
270 x 3
295 x 4 reps x 5 sets

The second series of sets is done with the bar elevated 4 or 5 additional inches but not over 8 inches above the chest:

325 x 1
345 x 1
370 x 6 singles
290 x 10 reps

Decrease that last set 80 pounds and use a narrower grip for more direct triceps work.

The depth of the rib box and the thickness of the pec muscles can vary in individuals. For a thick-muscled power lifter of average height like Bill West, the bar is about two inches above the chest where the actual measurement from the bar to the bench is 12 inches. Thus the bar might be somewhat more than two inches above the chest of a less developed man. The effort and the action is the same, however, since the upper arms will be parallel to the floor.

The power rack was in large part responsible for Pat Casey’s 620 official bench press. As proof of the great dead-stop power he developed through its use, he has done 10 reps, full prones, with 440 with his feet on a box at the same height as the bench. This kind of undiluted power can be had if one wishes to put lockout prones into his workouts. Joe DiMarco, the powerful 242-pounder, does lockout prones with as high as 470. Joe was one of the first to believe in practical power lift movements. He used to do much of his prone pressing right off the floor. Casey refined the movement by building a flat bench of his own design with the power rack attached.

Bill West uses the high, all-purpose power rack for variations on all three lifts. He can slide his movable bench into the power rack. His bench is 18” high and 12” wide, the regulation size he absolutely insists on for all training. Experience has taught him to train with competition in mind, simulating meet conditions in the gym at all times. The wrong training bench will cause some surprising failures under the maximum conditions. Hit the lockout prones once a week.

Article courtesy of Reuben Weaver

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Larry Scott on Biceps - David Prokop

Larry Scott newsletter archives:

Larry Scott on Biceps
by David Prokop (1992)

Imagine a baseball player today having the opportunity to step back in time to talk to Babe Ruth. Imagine him hearing the Babe say, “All right, kid, I’m gonna tell ya exactly how I hit 60 homers in ’27.” As a bodybuilder you’ve got a comparable opportunity here, because ‘60s superstar Larry Scott was to biceps what Babe Ruth was to home runs – The Master!

Scott, who won the first two Mr. Olympia contest in 1965 and ’66, started bodybuilding about 10 years earlier as a high school student in Pocatello, Idaho. (Although Larry came to prominence in California and in bodybuilding circles was considered to be as much a part of that state as the Beach Boys, he was actually born and raised in Idaho.) Oddly enough, what initially got him interested in bodybuilding was a muscle magazine he found at the Pocatello city dump.

“It had a picture on the cover of a bodybuilder named George Paine flexing his triceps,” Scott recalled, “and there was an article inside on training triceps. I didn’t know anything about exercising, but I saw that picture of George Paine, and I thought, ‘Golly, this guy looks incredible!”

At the time Larry had reached his full height of 5’8” but he weighed only 120 pounds. Not exactly a Herculean physique. In fact, he weighed less than almost any of the boys in the school.

So he took the magazine home and started doing triceps exercises. Since he didn’t have a barbell, he used an old tractor axle instead. He performed mostly barbell kickbacks (although in his case you’d have to call them axle kickbacks) and supine triceps presses.

“This was between my junior and senior years in high school,” Larry related. “I worked only triceps the whole summer. I just wanted to see if I could get any size. I didn’t really have a lot of faith that I would grow and that my body would change.”

When he returned to school in the fall, Scott started working out at the YMCA and began training his biceps as well, using the following routine:

Beginner Routine*
Standing Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 10 reps.
One-arm Concentration Curls – 3x10.
Zottman Dumbbell Curls – 3x10.

*This workout was part of a whole-body routine in which Larry would do one set of each exercise, then go through the entire sequence two more times.

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” Larry admitted. “There was a fellow at the Y who was a former boxer, and he gave us advice on how to train. He told us we should go through the whole body three times, so we did. What did we know at that age? We went through the whole body, one set per exercise, and then we’d do it again and then a third time. It was exhausting, and it was a terrible workout! But that’s what I was doing right at first.”

The standing barbell curls, one-arm dumbbell concentration curls and Zottman dumbbell curls were followed by three triceps movements – supine triceps presses with a straight bar, dumbbell kickbacks and barbell kickbacks. In each case he did a single set of eight reps, then moved on to the next exercise. Recalling this primitive training method, Larry said, “What I did for my beginning bodybuilding routine wouldn’t be what I would recommend for a beginner now.”

Despite the obvious shortcomings of his approach, Scott’s progress was such that he placed second in the Best-built Senior contest at his high school. This wasn’t a bodybuilding contest per se, but a loose form of competition in which students cast ballots for the guy they thought had the best physique.

After graduating from high school, Larry moved to Los Angeles to attend an electronics college but returned to Idaho after only six months. While he was in L.A., however, he trained at Bert Goodrich’s Gym in Hollywood. Although the gym is long gone, Larry remembers getting some invaluable training tips from Lou Degni, a bodybuilder who, he said, “had an incredible physique and was way ahead of his time.” It was while he was training in Hollywood, after he had been using the beginner routine about a year-and-a-half, that Scott formulated the following intermediate regimen:

Intermediate Routine
Standing Barbell Curls – 3 x 6-8.
Bent-over Dumbbell Concentration Curls – 3 x 6-8.
Standing Dumbbell Curls – 3 x 6-8.

By this time Larry had switched to doing three sets of each exercise, gradually increasing the weight with each set, before moving on to the next bodypart. That’s the approach he was following when he returned to Idaho – the day the legendary Steve Reeves visited the gym where Scott and his bodybuilding buddies were training.

“We found that training the whole body in each workout while trying to increase the weight with each set wasn’t very effective,” Larry related, “so we asked Steve what he thought about what we were doing.”

“‘That’s crazy!’ he said. ‘You should change your way of training and start using a down-the-rack system.’ He didn’t tell us what exercises to do, but he told us how to do them. He said, ‘Do a set with 100 pounds, decrease the weight and do a set with 90 pounds, decrease it again and do it wit 80 pounds . . .’

During this intermediate phase of his training Scott was doing nine sets for biceps and nine for triceps at each workout. The triceps exercises were barbell kickbacks, one-arm dumbbell kickbacks and the supine triceps presses. Although he was no longer going from exercise to exercise with every set, he was still training his entire body at each workout. Remember, however, that this was the late ‘50s, and the split system of training we take for granted now hadn’t really been introduced yet.

“We didn’t know anything about a split routine,” Larry said. “By the way, speaking parenthetically, that came out of Salt Lake City from a fellow by the name of Dave Fitzen, who split the body in half, training half the body one day, the other half the next day. That occurred around 1960. A lot of people take credit for that, but he was the one who came out with that split concept. And a number of us from Idaho and Utah brought it out to California. It was quite a novel way to train the muscles more intensely and give them time to recuperate. It was a new concept. Nobody had ever thought of that before. We had always trained the whole body in one day, and it was exhausting!”

After about a year-and-a-half on this intermediate routine, during which time Scott still emphasized triceps training much more than biceps work (“I’d go through the biceps training, but I’d really put my everything into triceps), he won the Mr. Idaho title. Larry now weighed about 155 pounds, and his arms measured about 15¼”. Then he moved to Los Angeles and started the meteoric buildup that resulted in his becoming the greatest bodybuilder in the world – and produced those beautifully peaked 20-plus-inch arms that connoisseurs of the sport talk about to this day.

Despite the heavy emphasis on triceps training in his beginner and intermediate days, Scott was to learn something rather ironic when returning to Los Angeles – specifically that his biceps were the more impressive bodypart!

“I happened to go into a club in North Hollywood and there was a fellow there by the name of Reid Flippen,” he explained. “He was from Utah, and I was from Idaho, so we had a little bit in common, I guess. And he said, ‘Your arms look pretty good; let me see them’ So I flexed my triceps. He said, ‘Your triceps isn’t your best part; it’s your biceps. So I thought, ‘Oh, no!,’ thinking of the attention I had focused on the triceps. Up to that point I had never even liked biceps work. But I guess the genetic shape [of the biceps] was what he was referring to. And so then I started working more on biceps.”

Every serious student of bodybuilding history knows, of course, that during his heyday Larry Scott trained at Vince’s Gym in Studio City, which is in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, and that he became so identified with arm development and training that two new terms were added to the lexicon of the sport – “Scott Curls” (which were actually preacher curls) and the “Scott bench (which, again, was a preacher bench, albeit a bench of rather unique design).

The following is the arm routine that enabled Larry Scott to go from 15¼ to almost 21-inch arms – and earned him an honored spot among the all-time greats of the sport

Advanced Routine
Dumbbell Curls on preacher bench – 6 reps, 4 burns.
Wide-grip preacher bench barbell curls – 6 reps, 4 burns.
Reverse-grip curls with EZ-curl bar – 6 reps, 4 burns.
Series repeated 5 times.

“I was introduced to the preacher bench by Vince [Gironda],” Larry continued. “I really worked hard on the preacher bench, taking advantage of the low connection I had on the biceps. So I got really involved in that, and my arms started to really grow.

“For one thing, my training was much better. Vince had a lot of unique, well-designed equipment. I started to make good progress.”

“Good progress” is the understatement of the century. After Larry had been training at Vince’s Gym for about a year, he placed third in the Mr. Los Angeles contest – a significant step up for him considering the higher quality of competition he faced in California. (Remember, only a year earlier he had weighed 155 pounds at a height of 5’8”.) And that was just the beginning.

“About two months after the L.A. contest I met Rheo Blair, a nutritionist. I started taking his protein powder – the first time I’d ever taken protein – and I put on eight pounds in just two months, which was unheard of for me. It was just really incredible! That protein must have been exactly what my body needed.

“I put on eight pounds of muscle! I mean, eight pounds would have normally taken me about two years. To put it on in two months was amazing!

“A year later I won the Mr. California, which was a total surprise to me and to everyone else,” he continued. “So I was really excited about my training and my progress. I kept training harder and harder, but my biceps routine stayed pretty much the same. Just the intensity changed.

“I was doing a set of dumbbell curls on the preacher bench. Then with no rest I would do a set of wide-grip curls on the bench and then a set of reverse-grip EZ-bar curls – again, with no rest. I would five series of these three exercises, resting only long enough between series so my training partner could do his.

“So I was doing five series of three sets, and on each exercise I would do six repetitions with four burns at the end of each set. Burns, of course, are small, quarter movements either at the top or the bottom of the exercise. I’d do them at the top until I got a little bored with it, and then I’d do them at the bottom.

“That routine really got my arms to grow. That was a very effective program. As a matter of fact, to this day I’ve not found anything which is that effective for building biceps.”

Were the burns the key to this routine? Was that the magic that was at work, or was it something else?

“Well, I think the think that worked so well was, first, I had – genetically – a low connection on the biceps. And the preacher bench works low biceps really well. And then there was the intensity of this type of workout – it’s extremely painful when done properly! That series I just mentioned is very, very painful, but it just blows up the arms like nothing I’ve ever seen – if the preacher bench is designed correctly.

“Most of the benches you see have a flat face, and they don’t work. People who hear me talk about arm training go out and try that on a regular preacher bench, and they say, ‘Ah, he must have been a genetic freak because that doesn’t work for me at all.’ That’s because they have a lousy bench.

“As a matter of fact, I remember Arnold saying to me, ‘I don’t know how you ever made any progress on a preacher bench.’ And I went in to shoot some photos on the preacher bench at the gym in Venice where he was training, and I thought, ‘God, no wonder he says that. This is terrible!’

“The correct design of the bench is that it has to have a face that’s convex rather than flat. In other words, the face should bulge out in the middle. Most preacher benches are flat because they’re easier to manufacture that way. But the bench has to have a convex face. And the area at the top where you place your armpits has to be rounded and well padded because you’re going to be bearing down real hard on that bench when you’re doing the curls. Most benches have a sharp ridge on top, and it hurts your armpits.

“Most preacher benches are also designed with the post set back, and when the exercise really gets difficult, you hit that post with your groin, so you can’t really get into it hard. The post should be offset toward the front. Manufacturers also make the face of the preacher bench too long, so the dumbbells hit the face of the bench at the bottom.

“What you want is a bench that has a short face, bulging out in the middle and rounded on both sides, and also rounded and padded where your armpits are, with the post placed toward the front so your groin won’t be pressing up against it. If you get all those little features going on it, it’s a great piece of equipment!”

In fact, Scott said that the design of the bench is so important that nowadays when he’s on the road and does biceps work on a regular, flat-faced preacher bench, he loses arm size over time.

“Then, when I get back on the right equipment again, my arms come back up. So the normal preacher benches that you see won’t give you the kind of results that you want. I mean, you can make better progress doing incline dumbbell curls than you can doing curls on the normal preacher bench, but you get a good preacher bench and, boy, you can build some arms!”

With single-minded determination, going through a four-pound tin of protein powder every eight days and drinking some 2½ gallons of milk a day, Larry actually built up to a peak bodyweight of 212 pounds in ’65 and ’66. His best competitive weight when he was Mr. Olympia was about 205.

As for those arms, he said, “My arms got so big, they were hard to carry around. My traps just got exhausted carrying them. I used to tuck my thumbs into my belt loops just to give my traps a rest.”

It’s significant to note that all during those glory days of the ‘60s Larry Scott’s biceps routine remained the same – right down to the order of the exercises and even how he did each exercise. The routine was like a personal magic formula he had discovered, and he wasn’t about to tamper with it.

“I had a particular style for each of the different curls,” he explained. “The dumbbell curls were done ‘loose’ style – I didn’t care how I got ‘em up; I just wanted to get them up any way I could. Then the barbell curls were done very strict. I would get my armpits way down on the bench, and I would make sure that my form was totally strict. As a matter of fact, the magic to that whole combination is the barbell curl. You do the exercise totally strict, your body over the bench; you don’t help the arms at all with even a little bit of lean-back; and that’s what really gives you the tremendous growth.

“Then you finish off, when your arms are just about to die, with reverse-grip EZ-bar curls, and that works the brachioradialis and hits the low biceps. The biceps is exhausted at that point, but the brachioradialis isn’t. And it’s also a curling muscle, so you can use that muscle to help you put extra work into the low biceps. It really gives you a great pump!”

In other words, the pattern to this routine was to do the dumbbell curls with as much weight as possible to basically tire the biceps, then place maximum concentrated stress on the biceps by doing barbell curls in a very strict fashion and, finally, when the arms were all but dead, do still another exercise that worked a part of the biceps – the brachioradialis – which still had some life left. Clearly, it’s a routine that reflects a touch of genius.

“And it never worked out as well if I split those exercises up or changed the order of the exercises,” Scott said. “That combination had a magic quality to it.”

Incidentally, during this advanced phase of his training Larry worked biceps twice a week, following, of course, a split routine. He always trained arms, shoulders and neck together. In his beginner days he trained his arms three times a week, and during the intermediate phase he worked them four times a week.

“By the way,” he continued, “that bench that Vince had, we’ve improved it in several respects; so it’s an even better piece of equipment now. You know, after doing curls on that thing for 20 years or more as I’ve done, you’ve got to be pretty dumb not to figure out some ways to make it better.”

Looking back over the evolution of his biceps training, Larry said he wouldn’t change a thing about his advanced routine. The beginning and intermediate routines are quite another matter, however.

“They were terrible,” Scott admitted. “I would never recommend that anyone use those. I would recommend that a beginner or an intermediate do it totally differently. A beginner doesn’t know yet what is right or wrong, so he has to just have blind faith as he’s trying different exercises. I’d suggest he change the exercises at least every week because the changing stress provides much better growth, and it rejuvenates the ligaments and tendons so you don’t get into injury all the time.

“I’d make sure I did only six repetitions – six is a better figure for growth than eight or 10. I would also do the burns – I think the burns are wonderful to add some extra stress to it. I would do probably no more than nine sets per bodypart, increasing the intensity. I would also vary the way I trained. Instead of just doing up-the-rack workouts, I’d do down-the-rack, I’d do straight sets, I’d do supersets. I’d change that system of training a lot. I wouldn’t do the same thing over and over again. And, of course, I’d follow a split routine rather than training the whole body in each workout as I was doing.”

Today Larry Scott is 52 and lives with his wife, Rachel, and their five children in Bountiful, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, where he is a fitness consultant, equipment manufacturer and distributor, and trains hundreds of people across the country with his Bio-Phase System of Personal Training. Larry and Rachel were married in 1966 after a most unusual courtship. In fact, one of the reasons Scott retired from bodybuilding after winning his second Mr. Olympia title in 1966 was to focus more attention on the marriage. Clearly, that effort has paid off too.

Even so, once a bodybuilder, always a bodybuilder. Larry still has 18½” arms, and he maintains this impressive development by training his biceps about 30 minutes per workout three times a week. Today he uses the varied type of training program he recommends for beginners and intermediates. Only occasionally does he use the ultra-high intensity approach of his Mr. Olympia days.

“I don’t use that advanced routine very often,” he said. “That’s my instinctive program. I will sometimes train on the instinctive program, but that’s very, very hard on the connective tissue. Extremely stressful. So I only use the instinctive program for about a week, and then my joints will start to complain. That’s a function of age. And so I will switch to more moderate routines and then come back to the instinctive program later. I have found that there are ways that I can keep my size without constantly working out at high intensity. I don’t have to train nearly as hard now as I did then to keep the size. And I don’t train with that intensity anymore, but I can keep the size I developed earlier a lot easier than I did back then.”

Larry made one final point about biceps training, and it’s an important one. “When I got to the advanced stage of my training in the ‘60s,” he said, “I began to realize that I couldn’t go up to the heavier weights unless I began to strengthen my forearms. And so I started to train the forearms real hard so that I could get the wrist curled at the bottom of the movement on the preacher bench. When you’re doing biceps curls and you’re way down on the bench, you can’t get the bar up unless you get your wrists curled, and you can’t get your wrists curled unless you have the forearm strength. So I started working forearms very hard, and I noted that as I worked forearms harder, I could use heavier weights in the biceps exercises. Consequently, it was the forearms that were the key to building bigger biceps at that point.”

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