Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rack Training for Power and Bulk - Charles A. Smith

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Rack Training for Power and Bulk
by Charles A. Smith (1954)

Every beginner wants to gain bulk. He urgently desires that extra massiveness because he knows that with increased bodyweight and bulkier muscles will come a newfound surge of power that will take him to higher levels of lifting. And yet, more often than not, he fails . . . fails because he works TOO HARD, or TOO OFTEN, or does not follow the correct routine. In these ways he limits his power and bulk development, and never realizes the dreams and desires that can be his.

All a beginner has to do is to keep to certain rules . . . common sense rules. Usually he fritters away his energy by following a program composed of a great variety of exercises in the vain hope that the harder he works, the more often he trains, the more quickly he’ll register gains. Actually, all he has to do is work hard, yet limit the scope of his routine. Naturally he has to effect certain adjustments in his diet. But he CAN and MUST gain weight and power if he uses the correct routine and exercising principles.

Years ago, Joseph Curtis Hise established that there were certain areas of the physique which exerted a “growing influence” over the rest of the development. He had started long before by following Mark H. Berry’s experiments with the Deep Knee Bend, and establishing Berry’s theories of Body Growth as the practical means of gaining weight. He used the deep knee bend with a couple of other exercises, stepped up his protein and starch intake, and gained all the power and bulk he wanted. In one month he gained as much as 29 pounds and went from 180 to close to 290 in less than 18 months.

But he carried his new idea of exercising one of he large muscle groups a step further, and came out with his “Cartilage Mass” theory. Briefly, Hise reasoned that altho the deep knee bend was the lifter’s friend, and helped him gain weight rapidly by improving the metabolism, it still left much to be desired. He boosted the effects of the squat by exercising what he called the “Red Muscles of Posture”, the muscles of the upper back, the shoulder girdle, and the lower back. One exercise he introduced, the Breathing Shoulder Shrug, in which the lifter held an extremely heavy weight across his shoulders squat-style, shrugged and breathed deeply, not only had extremely beneficial physical effects on beginners but profoundly beneficial mental ones too, since it built up in them a “contempt” for heavy weights. His theory was the forerunner of our modern power principles, theories that the lifter can, in conjunction a regulated diet and the use of movement in which the large muscle masses of the body are worked in priority over others, gain weight and power even tho’ his is the most stubborn of cases.

Since Hise’s time, we have further established that increases in weight and power are made in a series of cycles, and have charts of workout gains over time that support this contention to the hilt. There are very rarely gains which are steady and continued over a prolonged period. First there are fast gains, then a tapering off, as the lifter adjusts himself mentally to the increased muscle and strength. Then after a few weeks there is another spurt of power and bulk, and another tapering off, perhaps a slight decline, another steady climb, and so on. But where the great work of J.C. Hise, and that of our modern experimentalists differ is that Hise recognized bulk only AS bulk, whereas nowadays we DO NOT distinguish bulk from muscularity, and maintain that the two are the same. In other words, mere bodyweight gains do not always imply MUSCULAR gains.

By experiment again, we have evolved a routine, in combination with dietary adjustment, in which there are not only gains in bodyweight but also very marked increases in muscularity. We do not advise the lifter to eat stodgy, starchy products that clog up his internal organs. We do not tell him to drink gallons of milk daily and eat pounds of meat. Instead we offer a diet filled with healthy nutrients in good supply. And we have carried slightly further the work of Joseph Hise, by exercising not only the key muscle groups – the thighs, the upper and lower back – but the important additional power groups of the shoulders, chest and arms.

The routine involves the use of the heaviest weights, thus getting at the deepest muscle fibers. It exercises fully and completely the thighs, entire back, shoulders, chest and arms. Let’s look at the program first, and then we’ll show you how it should be used.


Exercise 1: Standing Lockout Presses.
Set the bar in the Multi Power Exerciser (power rack) so it is just above the top of the head. Stand immediately underneath it and grasp it with a shoulder width grip. Your upper arms should be as close to parallel with the ground as possible (see illustration). Press the weight out to arms’ length, lower SLOWLY as possible, and repeat. Make every effort to keep your body upright and lower slowly. Don’t look up at the weight.

Exercise 2: Power Rack Bench Presses.
Set the bar in the rack and place an exercise bench underneath it. When you lie on the bench, the bar should be three to five inches above your chest. Grip the bar with as wide a hand spacing as possible. Press the weight to arms’ length and again LOWER SLOWLY and repeat. Keep the body flat on the bench. Don’t arch the back. As you press the weight to arms’ length exhale strongly. Breathe in as deeply as possible when you lower the bar.


Exercise 3: Bottom Front Squats.
Place the bar on the rack pins so it rest on and across the front of the shoulders when you are squatting down in a low position. Recover to upright position with the weight. It is important to keep your back absolutely straight. Don’t allow it to bend forward or bow over. Lower slowly to the bottom position and repeat.

Exercise 4: Bottom Split Squats.
Take a good look at the accompanying illustration. Note how the height of the bar is fixed so you can grasp it while in the deep split position. Recover with the weight so the front leg is straightened out, then repeat. Switch position of the legs when the required number of repetitions are completed.


Exercise 5: Upright or Bentover Rows.
Place the bar in such a position that you can grasp it with the hands when you stand upright before it. Your hand spacing should be three or four inches apart, although this can be varied. Pull the bar up to the chin, then lower slowly and repeat. Don’t cheat in this exercise even if it means using less weight.

Bentover Rows at different heights in the power rack can be substituted for (or alternated with) these upright row motions.

Exercise 6: Power Dead Lifts.
Put the bar at such a height that it is just above the knees when you bend down and grasp it. Grip it with a shoulder width hand spacing (this can be varied, as we will explain later). Recover to upright position and repeat. Keep the back flat. You will experience a powerful contraction of the lower back and thighs, and the forearms and grip will be strengthened as well.

You will notice that some of the exercises (5 and 6) have varying hand spacings shown. All these can add variety to your training and work the muscles over different ranges. Changes such as these, minor as they may seem, can help you avoid staleness and injury.

Now for the routine. Start off with 3 sets of 6 repetitions in each exercise using all the weight you can handle. Work up to 3 sets of 12 over time before you increase the weight.

Another way you can introduce variety is by altering the height of the bar in the rack. The positions of the bar in the exercises of this routine are given as guides. You can start as indicated, or you can raise or lower the bar. The lower you place the bar, the less weight you will be able to use. The higher you raise the start position of the bar, the more weight you will be able to use, since the muscles will be working over shorter and more powerful ranges of contraction.

I advise that you start off with the bar raised as high as possible in each exercise. This will enable you to use a heavy poundage and benefit you not only physically but mentally. You’ll get accustomed to handling the heaviest possible poundages, and you will also strengthen the tendons and ligaments. When you have reached the top number of repetitions for all three sets and are ready to increase the resistance, you can simply lower the power rack supports one hole and begin again at the low number of repetitions. Once you have reached bottom position for the full number of reps in all sets of an exercise, you can start off again by using a heavier weight and raising the bar to the same high position used when you commenced the routine.

Work hard on this schedule, be determined, be persistent and you’ll have no trouble making gains in bulk and power. Don’t be disappointed if the schedule doesn’t work at first, or if progress is a little slow. Just plug away and you are certain to succeed. Sometimes you’ll make steady gains for a month and then taper off. Don’t worry; this is just the organs, metabolism and body structure making adjustments to he more vigorous demands placed on them. Follow the routine, make the necessary dietary changes, and you’ll prove to yourself that it can be done.

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