Monday, December 17, 2012

Five-Step Shoulder Scheme - Dave Draper

Great Men, Great Gyms of the Golden Age
Dave Yarnell

Dave & Laree Draper's IronOnLine Website

It was early morning and the famous California sun was beginning to light the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles. The sky was blue, the air clean, and it promised to be another one of those days in The Land of Sunshine.

As I made my way to the Muscle Beach Weightlifting Club, I drove slowly through the deserted streets of Santa Monica, enjoying the stillness. I reached the gym and unlocked the door just as the chimes on the corner Salvation Army sounded, indicating it was 6 A.M. I enjoy training in the early morning, and have for 4 years. I find it a relaxing time of the day, which is conducive to productive training; the gym is relatively empty, making the facilities instantly available.

I put on the lights, set the clock and tuned in some soft background music on the radio. The Muscle Beach Weightlifting Club isn't much to look at; it didn't get its nickname "The Dungeon" for nothing. The ceiling leaks, the floor is cracked, and the whole place leaves much to be desired.

It wasn't many years ago, 7 or 8 maybe, that the gym with its homemade equipment was located on the glorious beach of Santa Monica, some 5 blocks away from its present location. Since then the town's do-gooders, somewhat archaic to say the least, have terminated what they believed to be a circus-like atmosphere at Muscle Beach, gym included, causing the Club to move to its present underground location.

But I love it. The area is enormous. The rugged equipment is not homemade, but tailored for its members' special needs, and there are plenty of weights. Practically speaking, there are better gyms in the area - but to me "The Dungeon" is like an old shoe; it fits comfortably.

I began the tedious but necessary task of training the midsection. Because I regard abdominal work as unpleasant, I prefer getting it over with; plus, I find it limbers and warms the body, still a bit stiff from a long night's sleep. I hadn't begun to sweat yet when the thunder of heavy hoofs echoed through the empty gym. Chuck Fish, alias "The Mighty Atom" of pro-wrestling fame, like myself, enjoys the freedom of early-bird training.

He's a giant of a man and looks almost terrifying with his shaved  head, beard and handlebar mustache. But a more gentle and gracious bear you could not meet. It was Monday and the two of us planned to combine our training efforts in hopes of making revolutionary progress. In Chuck I saw the size I wanted, and in me he saw the shape and muscularity he wanted. Our mutual knowledge and training instincts, we concluded, would complement each other and the results could well be inspiring.

We soon discovered, as we began working out and sharing views on weight training, that we both had a particular passion for deltoid development. It is this muscle group, we agreed, that bears the accent of body power and body grace. Make the deltoids and arms your strong points and you'll go a far way in exhibiting a championship physique.

As you can guess, with this enthusiastic frame of mind,  we paid special attention to the shoulder area; Chuck, expounding the ways to build size and strength, and me bringing up the rear by assuring fine muscle shape and hardness. And that is what this article is all about - developing shoulder width and thickness with simultaneous attention to shape and muscularity - a 5-step scheme of training for complete shoulder development.


1.) Seated Front Press
2.) Steep Incline Dumbbell Press
3.) Dumbbell Clean & Press
4.) Lying Deltoid Raise - Front
5.) Lying Deltoid Raise - Rear

1.) Seated Front Press. This exercise is performed seated, preferably with the back supported so as to prevent any cheating or unnecessary body movement. And, in this position the lower back (which can be prone to injury) is less likely to suffer damage.

This powerful movement is responsible for developing shoulder mass and strength. It attacks the frontal deltoid area primarily, in which one's pressing power lies. Thus, in performing the exercise the accent should be placed on STRENGTH. The barbell is pressed slowly from the rack to lockout position for 5 sets of 6-8 reps. In an effort to increase your strength slowly and steadily, start with 5 sets of 6 and add one repetition each workout until 5 sets of 8 are completed. Like this:


At this point increase the poundage and go back to 5 sets of 6. As your strength increases, so will your size.

2.) Steep Incline Dumbbell Press. Another exercise with the emphasis on strength, the seated incline dumbbell press works both the front and side deltoids. Here again, the simple system of gradually increased reps, as applied to the barbell press, should be practiced - that is, 5 sets of 6 reps to start, until 5 sets of 8 are reached . . . then add weight and go back to 5 x 6.

For variation, alter the pressing grip with each set; that is, press on set with the palms forward. Think of this position as the hands of a clock on 3 and 9. Press another set with the hands facing each other, at 12 and 6. Experiment with these different hand positions. They may be of use if you experience any shoulder aches at some point in your lifting. This is one of the many beauties of dumbbell training; it allows you to vary the angle of the grip to suit your own needs. 

3.) Dumbbell Clean & Press. This rugged movement will add new thickness and strength to the entire shoulder area, including the very impressive trapezius muscle. Assume a crouched position with the dumbbells in the hang position. With each repetition clean the weights to the shoulders, and without hesitation press to an overhead position. For a maximum training effect in this instance be sure not to lock out the elbows, but maintain resistance continuously. Return the heavy poundage slowly with concentrated effort to hang, and repeat for 5 sets of 6 grueling but gratifying reps. 

If you find yourself liking the feel and the whole idea of this movement, check out Dinosaur Dumbbell Training for over 100 more dynamic dumbbell moves.

4.) Lying Front Lateral Raise. Now- to etch some muscularity into those shoulders. Lying on your right side on a flat bench, grasp a relatively light dumbbell in your left hand. With your legs and free right hand arranged in such a way as to stabilize the body, raise the dumbbell slowly and deliberately from your side, contracting the deltoid - and return to starting position. 5 sets of 10 concentrated reps per side will do the trick.

Again, to add variety and assure complete development, try raising the dumbbell from various positions; for example, in front of the body, or in front of the head. Make those delts stand out like watermelons in a strawberry patch.

5.) Lying Rear Lateral Raise. This exercise is executed in much the same fashion as the lying front lateral raise. The only exception is that the dumbbell is brought up from a behind-the-torso position. This movement affects the rear delt strongly. 5 sets of 10 slow reps with a strong deltoid contraction at the top of each one. 

No matter what, don't ever let discouragement become your training partner. You have the determination within you to tackle and beat it. This is the lifter's plague, his worst enemy, a sure sign of pending defeat. Keep up your spirit to succeed . . . AND YOU WILL.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Back Development - Joe Weider

Every myth has a history
- Roland Barthes

 It is only natural for a beginner, who is almost always weak and skinny when he starts barbell training, to pay greater attention to such superficial muscles as his biceps, chest, and shoulders. Such a beginner is usually the the victim of kidding and practical jokes, and wants to become quickly known as a strong man, and so prove he is not wasting his time working out. He's always ready to flex his biceps . . . but never his back.

And there's a reason for this too. When a beginner trains he usually does so before a mirror to make sure he performs the movements correctly. Since the muscle groups he can see are all those reflected in the mirror . . . the groups in the front of his body, he forgets that he has back muscles . . . they are out of sight and out of mind. Then too, since he performs a few cleans and rowing motions, he believes that what little muscularity and strength he gains from these is all that necessary. It has come with comparative ease, with little or no specialization, and because it has been gained with little effort, is otherwise neglected.

Paul Anderson

Aside from the importance of back development as far as appearance and proportionate development is concerned, a powerful back is just as essential as strong legs. A strong back will enable you to support heavy weights in all overhead movements, as well as in supine and bench presses. A well built back is a fountain of increased nerve force too, enabling you to pour forth that extra ounce of energy when additional effort is required.

Norbert Schemansky

As a guard against injury, it is impossible to stress the need for a powerful back too much. Even with a slight back strain, leg movement is at the very least difficult, cleans and most shoulder and arm work and lying exercises painful. Take my word for it, the back is a vital muscle section of the physique.

So much for reasons why you should build a strong, muscular back sweep. Now what about some exercises and training methods.

Cheating Exercises:

1.) Upright Rowing to Waist Only - Use a W-I-D-E grip, almost collar to collar, and handle as heavy a weight as you can. Standing upright, the weight at full downward stretch of the arms, knuckles to the front, lean slightly forward then return to erect position and pull the bar up to the waist. Don't pull the it higher than the navel. Lower slowly and repeat. Before each repetition maintain a firm grip on the bar but relax the arms so the full weight comes onto the lats and imparts a tonic stretching effect. Pay strict attention to exercise performance, but you will be able to use some very big weights with this movement.

2.) Wide Grip Rowing to the Chest - With a barbell grasped in the hands, knuckles to the front, hanging down at full arms' stretch, bend forward at the waist until your body is parallel to the floor. With that wide grip you should get a powerful stretch effect on the lats. Dip the body down until the plates of the barbell are just clear of the floor, then suddenly return the body to just above horizontal position with a very sharp pull up, at the same time using this body motion to assist pulling the bar up to your chest. Lower the bar steadily back to commending position and repeat. Arms travel out to the sides.  

3.) Wide Grip Rowing to the Waist - Take up the same position as in the previous exercise, using the same W-I-D-E grip and getting that stretch on your lats. Use the same cheating motion to pull the bar up to the waist, but your arms and elbows should point back and not out to the sides. Lower the weight back steadily to commencing position and repeat the motion, and don't forget that lat stretch between each rep.

4.) Wide Cleans to the Shoulders - In this exercise you should use almost a snatch grip, and try to perform the movement with as little leg power as possible. Perform the first clean from the floor, pulling it up to the shoulders and immediately returning down to the hang position. Remember to use as little leg power as possible. Don't pause between reps but pound them out, one immediately after the other, hang cleaning each rep after you've done the first one from the floor.

5.) Wide Pulls From the Floor to Knees - In this movement you should handle a weight well above your best clean. Bend down in a get set position, grip the bar with a wide hand spacing, pull the body up and at the same time using this body motion to start the bar, heave it knee high. Try to hold it here before you lower it for another rep.

6.) Wide Chins - Jump up and grip the chinning bar with a WIDE grip, palms of the hands to the front. Pull up to the bar until the chin is clear. Grind out the reps as fast as you can and add weights attached to your body when possible.

Peak Contraction Exercises:

1.) Wide Half Chins - Jump up and grab the bar with a wide grip and the palms of the hands facing front. Pull up until the chin is clear, then lower the body slowly until the upper arms are level with the shoulders and form right angles with the forearms. Don't go beyond this position. Hold it for a count of "2" . . . then pull up again, lower half way down as before and repeat the chin. Remember these important points . . . don't lower the body all the way down . . . only down until the upper arms are level with the shoulders. Don't perform the exercise fast . . . work slowly . . . and hold the position when lowered for a full "2" count.

2.) Wide Side-to-Side Chins -  The commencing position for this exercise isthe same as the lowered position in the previous exercise (Wide Half Chins). First jump up to the bar to a height with your chin clearing it. Then lower down until your upper arms are level and form right angles wtih the forearms. From here, pull up on one arm until the shoulder of that arm touches the bar. Lower back and pull up likewise with the opposite arm. Continue pulling up to each side alternately, feeling a powerful pull on the lats.

3.) Prone Bench Rowing Motion - Perform this exercise SLOWLY. Place a barbell under a loaded high bench. Lie belly down on the bench, reach down with your arms, and grip the bar with a wide hand spacing. Your knuckles should be to the front. Pull the bar up until it touches the underside of the bench below your chest. From here, pull your elbows back from shoulder level to the sides of the body, then return them to shoulder level, lower the bar slowly . . . and repeat.

4.) Decline Bench Pullover - The bar should be out at full arms' stretch behind your head, resting on the floor. You should use small plates and perform the exercise steadily to obtain full Peak Contraction effects. Keeping your elbows locked and arms straight, pull the bar up and over until it is at full arms' stretch above your chest. Lower SLOWLY . . . back to commencing position and repeat.

5.) Incline Bench Rowing Motion - Lie belly down on a steep incline bench with the barbell hanging under the incline board, between it and the back support, gripped in the hands and down at full stretch of the arms. Knuckles are to the front as in a regular clean grip. Hand spacing for this exercise is fairly wide. You will find it necessary to have a partner hand you the weight. From full downward stretch of the arms pull the bar up until it touches the underside of the incline. Lower slowly, and repeat.

6.) Supine Straight Arm Pullover - Lie on the floor with a barbell behind your head at full straight arms' length. When you grip the bar, palms of the hands are up. With the arms straight and kept so throughout the exercise, pull the bar up until it is above the chest at full stretch of the arms. Lower down to commencing position slowly, and repeat. Press your entire back flat against the floor. Don't let your back arch up and do keep your arms straight. locked at the elbows.   

Pulley and Cable Work:

1.) Straight Arm Lat Machine Pulldowns: - Stand before a lat machine, reach up and grasp the bar with a wide grip, palms to the front. Keeping the arms straight, pull down on the bar from full arms stretch overhead to the hips. Return the bar slowly to commencing position and repeat. If the machine is not high enough you will have to kneel down on the floor. When you use heavy poundages you will need a training partner to hold you down.

2.) Prone Wall Pulley Pulldowns - Place an bench before a wall pulley, one end facing the apparatus. Lie belly down on the bench and have your training partners give you the handles of the pulleys. From a position where your arms are stretched out before you above your head, pull them down and out to the sides and down again behind your back, squeezing the shoulder blades together strongly. The arms move over an almost complete circle from above the head (remember you are lying face down here), to behind the back. Return to commencing position above the head and repeat. Perform the exercise as steadily as possible.

3.) Supine Wall Pulley Pulldowns - This movement is the exact opposite of the previous exercise. Instead of lying belly down, you lie face up. Pull the wall pulley handles from full arm stretch position above your head down and out to shoulder level, continuing from here down to the hips. Return to commencing position and repeat. Perform the exercise steadily

4.) Incline Bench Lat Pulldowns - Place an incline bench with the back support towards the lat machine. Reach up and grasp the bar with a wide grip, palms facing up. This is similar to exercise 1. Pull down on the bar from overhead stretch position down until the bar touches your hips. Return evenly to commencing position and repeat. Your arms must be kept completely straight thoughout.

5.) Single Arm Lat Pulldowns - Sit on a bench and grasp the overhead cable handle with your right hand. If the machine is too low, sit on the floor so you get full resistance from the very start of the movment. Keeping your arm straight, and with the palm of the hand facing in at the start, pull down . . . down and out (in Paris and London by George Orwell is an excellent novel. BBC News announced that writer Lee Hall is penning a script for a film adaptation of Down and Out. The film will be shot by director Kevin Macdonald, who directed The Last King of Scotland. Orwell, real name Eric Blair, based his book on his experiences and the characters he encountered while washing dishes in Paris restaurants and living as a tramp in London. So, it's really the story of how Eric Blair became George Orwell.)

NONTHELESS AND NOTWITHSTANDING, as soon as you feel the triceps press against your lat, bend your trunk over to the side. You'll feel your triceps "lock as you bend right over. When this occurs, relax, return to commencing position and repeat. DON'T bend your arm, keep it STRAIGHT. Perform equally with the other arm.

6.) Chest Cable Pulldowns From Overhead - Hold a cable set (expanders) above the head at full arms' stretch, palms of the hands facing in. Keeping the arms straight and locked at the elbows, pull down and out to the sides until your arms are at shoulder level. Return steadily to commencing position and repeat. Pull down slowly and don't let your arms unlock at the elbows.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Three Goals of Olympic Weightlifting - Denis Reno

When you get right down to it, there are three major goals in Olympic Weightlifting:

Goal 1 - Snatch
Goal 2 - Clean
Goal 3 - Jerk

Once you learn the positions and movements of the Oly lifts, you can reduce your concentration to:

Loose arms/shoulders forward of the bar. Tension in the lower and middle back. Plan to use Strong Legs - then strongly lift the bar close to your legs, hips and torso, you hips and shoulders getting under that bar as you STAND UP! QUICK HANDS!

When addressing the bar, no matter what the weight, you must visualize the positions listed below, then lift that bar high along your body.

You see yourself vertical under the bar, arms locked and standing on straight legs.

You see yourself standing tall and erect with the bar solidly at your shoulders.

You see yourself with the bar on locked arms overhead, standing solidly upright.

A Letter From Tommy Kono

So that you know my background in the sport, I was born, raised and received my education in Sacramento except for the time I was in WW II camp for 3 1/2 years (June 1942 - December 1945). I moved to Hawaii in '55 so I was an Olympic (52) and World Champ (53 and 54) before taking up residence in Hawaii.

Previously I was in Hawaii with Roy Hilligenn for 2 weeks in 1953 for exhibition purposes (fresh out of military service) and wore Hawaiian shirts since then. I believe when I made the trip to Moscow and the tour around the world in 1955 (was in India) for the State Department (Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Burma) I wore Hawaiian (aloha) shirts. I liked the casualness of the loose shirt on me. Maybe this identified me as being "Hawaiian". 

Believe it or not in 1955 I made four major trips:

1.) Pan Am Games in Mexico City.
2.) USSR (match in Leningrad and Moscow) and to Egypt, Lebanon and Iran for the State Dept.
3.) Munich World Championship.
4.) Picked up where we left off of the State Dept. tour for Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Burma.

For #3 and #4 I was living in Hawaii so I continued on from Burma to Hawaii while the rest of the group returned by way of NY.

My work for the State of California did not allow me to make for many trips in 1955 (unlike today's employers) so I had to actually resign from my job . . . but they would old my position open so I could re-enter the system. The Pan Am, USSR and the first part of the Mid East tour I operated out of Sacramento, but by the time of the World Championships I had resigned and moved to Hawaii.

I sometimes wonder if today's champions could stand such a pace. I broke the World Records at Pan Am Games and in Leningrad. I weighed about 174 when I left for Munich but returned from the last of the trip weighing 157. 

We were "tough" in those days and not pampered like these current crop of U.S. lifters whose peak training cycle is once or twice a year . . . 

A Three-Day/Week Workout Stressing Speed
Denis Reno (2004)

These workouts are built around codewords as listed below - but be sure to read the notes at the end of the workout (because your mental attitude and concentration are very important). This workout assumes that you know in detail the proper technique of the Olympic lifts.


Speed Lifts - Concentrate on doing the lifts in perfect form, maybe exaggerate the extreme positions, start out doing the movement slowly to ensure you are in the proper extreme positions. Then practice speedy finishes from pull-up to pull-under, from jerk drive to split under. Make sure to go through all the positions of the lifts and learn to combine these into fluid movements. Above 50%, do the lifts in full speed. Do not go above 70% of maximum. Do 6 or more singles at the highest weight. Follow Clean & Jerks with 6 sets of 2 Front Squats, jerking after the first rep. Keep front squat weights light enough to get a speedy jerk after the first rep. Finish workout with 2-3 sets of 10 reps of weighted ab work.

Medium Lifts - On these we work up to no more than 85% of your best. Finish with 3 to 6 singles at this 85% maximum or less. You must use speed as you have practiced with the light lifts. Squats - alternate Front squats one workout, Back squats the next workout, to 3 medium/heavy sets, 3 reps for Fronts, 4 reps for Backs (medium heavy here means that these are tough, but you never fail to do the listed sets and reps). Finish workout with 2-3 sets of standing presses, 10 - 8 - 6 reps.

Maximum Lifts - If marked 2-cycles, work up to about 95% for single, then back to 75% and work up again. If marked max, keep adding weight set to set and if you do a PR, try more until you miss. You may keep trying as you wish. You may also decide for yourself whether or not to do 2-cycles and whether or not to try a max, and you can do both 2-cycles and max in the same workout. You must use the speed as you have practiced with the light lifts. You do both Olympic lifts on this day, as follows:

On Snatch day, follow the Snatch by doing 6 singles of C&J up to 80%.
On C&J day, start off doing 6 singles of Snatch up to 80%, and then do the Clean & Jerks.

Medium Pulls - Start workout by doing the lift, mainly singles up to about 80% for 1 set. Pull reps go 5-4-3-2-2-1 ending with single with 95-100%. Finish with RDL's, 5-6 sets, 6-4 reps, weight increases 50% - 90%.

Heavy Pulls - Start workout by doing the lift, mainly singles up to about 80% for 1 set. Pull reps go 5-3-3-3-3-3 with the last three triples with 95-100% (pick and % for each set). Finish with squats - to 1 heavy set, 3 reps for Fronts, 4 reps for Backs.

Following is the workout guideline:

Week 1 - 
Day 1 - Speed Lifts
Day 2 - Heavy pulls - clean
Day 3 - Medium Lifts - Snatch

Week 2-
Day 1 - Medium Pulls - Snatch
Day 2 - Speed Lifts 
Day 3 - Maximum Lifts - 2-cycles - C&J

Week 3 - 
Day 1 - Speed Lifts
Day 2 - Medium pulls - Snatch
Day 3 - Medium Lifts - C&J

Week 4 - 
Day 1 - Speed Lifts, medium pulls C&J
Day 2 - Medium Lifts - Snatch
Day 3 - Heavy pulls - Snatch

Week 5 - 
Day 1 - Medium Lifts - C&J
Day 2 - Speed Lifts 
Day 3 - Maximum Lifts, max - Snatch

Week 6 - 
Back to Week 1 and run through this again - but switch Snatch and C&J days.

You can also work out with some general fitness lifts or movements if you wish.

I repeat some key rules below:

1.) During the pull never allow your shoulders to be behind the barbell. (When your shoulders are behind the bar, you had better be screwing under the bar with the intent to stand erect with the bar on your shoulders or overhead.

2.) Feel your full foot on the floor just before lift off.

3.) Create tension in your hip area (lower back, butt, upper thighs) just before you lift off.

4.) Maintain the angle of your back to the floor from lift off up until the bar is at upper thigh height.

5.) The finish of the pull includes 'screwing under' - your aim in doing a lift is getting it to shoulders or overhead.

6.) Keep the bar close to your body.

Pulls vs. Lifts

I was recently talking with some lifters and came to realize again the PULLS are quite different from the full LIFTS, and pulls should be considered more for strength building. The idea when doing an Olympic lift is to get the weight to the shoulders or overhead and to stand erect in those positions. The idea in doing a pull is to attain HEIGHT and to build the power to attain height with more weight. Therefore, pulls are done for repetitions (3-5 is recommended) and lifts are done for singles. 

In both lifts and pulls, attention must be given to maintaining balance which really means learning and maintaining proper TECHNIQUE. Both pulls and lifts are important ingredients of a training program. 




Monday, December 10, 2012

Are Big Muscles Really Necessary? - John Grimek

Tommy Kono and Chester Teegarden
Click Pics to ENLARGE

 To ask the above question of any eager weight training enthusiast is to be strongly assured that big muscles are an all-important asset to anyone indulging in some form of lifting program. But put this question to the average, non-exercising individual and you are sure to get a variety of pro and con answers, and just as many reasons.

I don't think it would be very difficult to ascertain what the reaction and answer each reader of this magazine [Strength & Health] might have to this question. It's a foregone conclusion that most of our readers do favor big muscles, and an 85% estimate might be a conservative figure. But the question is, are big muscles really necessary? And if they are, on what basis have these conclusions been formed to justify the answer?

I've been interested in the answer to this question for a long time, and frequently have discussed and debated the issue without reaching any satisfactory conclusions. Many of you have done the same thing. Perhaps by presenting some of my views you can form your own conclusions after you've read this.

During my earlier travels I gave countless exhibitions at various social functions such as the Lions, Rotary Clubs, etc., and never failed to be asked whether I thought big muscles were really important. I never answered the question directly because I knew that while big muscles were impressive they were not important to enjoy life or good health. Yet I always felt that if an individual developed his muscles properly he could do certain things better and more efficiently, and to this conclusion I never got an argument from any of the men who asked me this question. A few would try to insist that big muscles hindered rather than accentuated movement. But when they witnessed my backbend, the split, rollover, etc., the knew that at least in my own case big muscles did not hinder my activity even though some were still not convinced.

The led me to ask others the same question in hopes of trying to form a more concrete conclusion from hearing the reaction of others. Invariably the person who was associated with the iron game always agreed that big muscles were of greatest importance, but the professional or non-lifting individual always seemed indifferent. One thing most everyone agreed on was that big well-shaped muscles did enhance the appearance of the person and therefore looked more like the Man that god intended him to be. Most athletic coaches at that time were positive that big muscles slowed up a man and an athlete should avoid trying to acquire them. But that was years ago. Most of the track and field athletes today have fine, strong looking physiques . . . and this is because they train with weights!

Big muscles, when proportionately balanced, do improve the appearance of the individual, making him look more athletic even if he isn't. It's only when the person gets monstrous or lacks general symmetry, or struts about constantly flexed that criticism is apt to be directed at him. But the average non-exercising man does not disapprove of big muscles; only the unnecessary flaunting or strutting irks him. On the other hand, he does accept big muscles as a sign of great power, particularly when associated with big arms. This conclusion was formed on the theory that big muscles are acquired from heavy lifting and exercise, and this would indicate strength. These deductions are correct, but only up to a point, as I will explain later on.

The fallacy of this accepted conclusion - big muscles in relation to strength - is exploded by the majority of lifters, many of whom are well built but who actually do not have big muscles - with but few exceptions. One example is Ike Berger, former world and Olympic champion, who has an excellent physique, with fine muscularity and good proportions, but he cannot be placed in the big-muscle category. Nevertheless this lifter is very strong, and much, much stronger than most men for his size. Weighing around 135 pounds he actually shoved 270 overhead in a rough press, or about a double bodyweight press. This powerhouse has done around 475 in the squat, and pulled in to his shoulder 341, a very remarkable lift for any man, let alone for one weighing slightly over 130 pounds. How many big muscle men who outweigh Berger by 50 or more pounds are able to rough-press that much weight? Not very many, and those who do are probably lifters.

Tony Garcy

Tony Garcy, lightweight champion, is another well-built lifter who has a very fine physique but who does not have that heavy musculature that would place him in the big muscle category. His lifting ability, however, speaks for itself. His 290 pound press, 265 snatch, and 336 clean & jerk plus heavy supports in power rack all point to his prodigious strength.

Jim George

Jim George is another lifter who never had very much obvious muscle to speak of, but what he did have was of good quality. His arms were never large, probably around 15.5 inches or so, yet he actually pressed over 300 pounds. He was capable of snatching 303, then a world record, and a 380.5 clean & jerk, also a record. These are terrific poundages and it's incredible to see him get those weights overhead. You can't help but wonder why his arms didn't snap under the load. He has often jokingly said that if he had any bigger muscles they would probably get in the way, hindering his lifting. Most everyone who knew Jim always felt that if he had just a little more muscle he might have lifted even more than he did. But this man lifted some very heavy weights and he didn't have any muscle size to speak of.

Bill March, of course, greatly increased his strength as his muscle size increased. His massive arms and shoulders were not acquired from the various types of curling and shoulder exercises, but they developed strictly from lifting, heavy supports on the power rack, and a great deal of isometric work.

Tommy Kono

Tommy Kono is another powerful lifter who won a number of world and Olympic championships,and had actually been chosen three times Mr. Universe (FIHC) winner. Kono also cannot be included in the big muscles class, but the weights he has lifted proves more conclusively that you don't need big muscles to lift record weights.

Norbert Schemansky

Norb Schemansky is another powerhouse but he has big muscles to go with it. He may not have the wedge-like physique of a Mr. America, but very few Mr. Americas can approach anything near this lifter's phenomenal arm and leg development. Here is one case where big muscles and tremendous power are closely associated. However, when you understand how Schemansky got big, you'll know why he's as strong and as big as he is.

It may surprise a lot of bodybuilders to learn that "Skee" seldom worked for big muscles. His main interest has always been directed towards increasing his strength, and his exercises were always done in such a way as to increase he prodigious power. He believed in concentrating on strength and allowed his muscles to take care of themselves. Bodybuilders, on the other hand, seek only to increase muscle size on the theory that strength is not a factor in physique contests . . . which it isn't. In fact, any man who has a symmetrical physique can win a physique title even if he can't press his own bodyweight. Yet any novice lifter who couldn't press over bodyweight, providing his other lifts are in proportion, wouldn't even place in a contest regardless how well built or muscular he was. Therefore, big muscles and strength do not always go together, and many big muscled men are really not nearly as strong as they appear, although there are many medium muscled men who are amazingly strong. Usually this is due to their method of training and not the size of muscles. Schemansky is big but he is also very strong. Kono, Jim George, Berger, Garcy are all very powerful lifters but none of these have big muscles.

Vern Weaver

Vern Weaver, present Mr. America titleholder, was a very powerful lifter before switching to bodybuilding. He pressed over 300, and did a clean & jerk of 365. While bodybuilding he was able to do a 435 decline press, a 540 squat, and a strict 215 curl. Weaver has big muscles and is very strong too, a very rare combination these days it would seem.

Of course, don't jump to conclusions that I am against big muscles (me of all people!). The point I wish to make clear is that big muscles are not absolutely necessary, even in athletics, but if you are lucky to have big muscles you can make them become as asset to you. Muscle developed through your favorite sport can become an unusual asset besides increasing your personal prestige as a muscleman. But big muscles that are nothing more than overinflated, pumped-up tissue are useless. In fact they are apt to shrink or disappear as soon as they are not exercises regularly. But muscles developed through sensible training methods over a period of time are more lasting and usually more efficient . . . and that is the type of muscle you should strive to develop, regardless of size. 

Terry Todd

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Two Hands Snatch, Part Six - Dave Webster and Al Murray

Click Pics to ENLARGE

Finished Squat Positions

Terrific misconceptions exist regarding the finished position of the squat snatch. The blame rests squarely on those who publicized and recommended the so-called "dislocation" style with poking head. Other qualified coaches and ourselves are not exempt from this criticism.

A methodical review like this one, however, reveals how wrong the style is. First of all, let us consider the positions of present squat snatching champions -- measurements were taken as outlined earlier.

It is our veiw that observers were incorrect in their assessment of Pete George's style and quoted the RE-ACTION position rather than his correct lowest position. We have photos and film to show that in a low position, George, although his head was forward, HAD AN UPRIGHT TRUNK AT THE VERY LOW POSITION.

His poking head style gave the immediate reaction of putting shoulders forward and hips back and up. His arms then would be at a more acute angle to his trunk than the average lifter in the recovering position.

The reporters of the last forties and early fifties seemed to disregard the fact that Kinnunen, Runge, Koreans like Lee Young Whan, Salmasi of Iran, the Germans and the Austrians were all upright squatters.

We advocate that the feet should be jumped a little bit forward and astride thus allowing the hips to get very close to the heels. With vertical arms and head held upright, a straight position of the upper part of the back will result.

The analysis of the various lifts and lifters discussed were made from films by David Webster. The methods used have already been published and were the subject of talks at National And International Coaches Conferences. Many have enquired however regarding equipment and materials.

For projection and analysis SPECTO projectors were used extensively and the SPECTO ANALYZER is particularly useful for this type of work.


In a publication of this description we can only cover some of the points we have investigated. It is our hope that we can later publish more of our findings.

Remember that each section must be viewed keeping the complete lift in mind -- feet spacing for example tells very little unless related to other body positions and these body positions are the results of what happened during the pull. The pull is undoubtedly affected by the starting position as the bar comes off the floor and so it goes on.

Pathways of movement of the bar have just been touched on as we consider this worthy of fuller explanation with numerous illustrations. Briefly, although the aim may be to pull the bar directly upwards, the best lifters pull the bar back slightly as it passes the knees, it goes forward slightly in the hip thrust and the curve straightens as it passes chest height. There is generally a slight 'hook' at the top of the pull BUT ALL BACKWARD PULLING MUST BE AVOIDED.

The theories discussed here are intended for coaches and lifters with an advanced theoretical knowledge. We hope they will help to distinguish between cause and effect and help readers to correctly diagnose and rectify faults.

We must always base our teaching on fact, not speculation, and the more facts at our disposal, like those given here, the less need there will be for speculation.        

Review Questions

1.) Visualize the top lifters at world championships, draw the average approximate angle you think their backs are in as the bar leaves the floor.

2.) In taking the bar from the floor to knee height --

     a) Do most of these competitors use mainly legs, mainly back, or legs and back?
     b) IF you feel their techniques are divided in this respect please indicate roughly what proportions you consider they are divided, e.g., half of the lifters use legs and  back, the remainder equally divided.

3.) Is there any difference in the pulling positions of splitters and squatters?

4.) Is the base of a split stylist larger than that of a squatter?

5.) What is the main reason for a squat lift being more precarious than a split.

6.) a) If a top lifter pulls the bar back where is this fault most likely to occur?
     b) Is it possible to the lifter to pull correctly and still jump backwards?

7.) Draw what you think would be a good path of movement for a complete snatch.

8.) What is the difference between an upright squat and the dislocation style? Describe the positions involved.

9.) Which well-known lifters described in this book do you consider to be:
     a) the most upright, and 
     b) the most 'dislocated'?

10.) Make a matchstick style drawing of your impressions of their relative head, arm, and back positions.

11.) If a snatch takes approximately one second from leaving the ground to the lowest possible position, divide this timing up into three or four stages.

12.) Draw a Murray cross with what you believe to be the most common foot positions amongst top lifters landing in the split for a snatch.

Gloassary and Definition of Terms Used

When force is applied to a mass in the direction of the movement the velocity of the mass is increased. This is termed acceleration.

Newton's Third Law states: "To every ection there is an equal and opposite reaction." This law has a terrific effect in lifting. Coaches must learn to distinguish the difference between reactions and cultivated movements.

This is the ability to react quickly in acurate, controlled movements. Maximum force and power are not so necessary as fast precision.

One part of the object remains fixed in comparison to the others and rotation takes place around this part, e.g., the thigh rotating about the hip joint orthe arm rotating about the shoulder joint.

For simplicity we define this a sthe angle through which a body travels per second, e.g., if the back moves from horizontal to vertical, round the hip joint, in half a second, then its angular velocity is said to be 180 degrees (90 degrees in 1/2 second = 180 degrees in 1 second). Naturally there is little chance that the body will be moving att a uniform rate throughout this movement and for greater accuracy only a small part of the movement should be considered.

As a physical quality this is the kinesthetic sense of position displaying poise and control. Mechanically it is the state of equilibrium with equality of weight and force. Factors affecting balance and stability include the weight of the object, dimensions of base, the height of the center of gravity and also the distance from the c. of g. to the edge of the base. 

There are various types of endurance but in weightlifting muscular endurance is most important with cardiovascular endurance following closely behind. Endurance is the capacity for continued exertion with only partial recovery during the sustained effort.


The ability to move without distress through the full range of motion in a muscle, from flexion for extension and vice versa, without restriction of the tissues or joints.

That which produces or tends to produce a change in a body's state either at rest or in motion. In lifting this is generally derived from muscular contractions or the pull of gravity.

This is the resistance to a change of position or motion. Body masses resist being set in motion but once set in motion they tend to retain velocity.

This is the term used to descibe the movement of a body with various parts traveling at the same time, speed, distance, and direction. The upward path of the barbell is an example of LINEAR MOTION but it must be emphasized that in lifting as in many other sports, there are few good examples of PURE linear movement.

This designates the amount or quantity of matter.

The quantity of motion (mass times velocity), see also TRANSFERENCE, ANGULAR MOMENTUM and LINEAR MOMENTUM.

When several forces are acting simultaneously, the resultant direction qand force depends upon the relative forces and direction of the components. This relationship is the parallelogram of forces.

The capacity to execute esudden maximum effort. The ability to release explosive power. Power is FORCE x VELOCITY. This is often confused with strength but the essential difference is that power calls for SPEED OF EFFORT.

This is the capacity to exert great force. Speed and endurance are not important considerations here. The efficiency of levers, will power, ability to utilize a large number of muscle fibers, etc., are all involved.

Frequently a body is put into motion by the transference of momentum from part of the body to the whole. When force is transferred from a part to the whole body, mass x velocity of the part = mass x velocity of the whole body. A good example of transference is seen in the pull for the cleand or the snatch. The transference of momentum from the body to the bar is so great that the bar continues to move upwards even when the body begins to move downwards.

This is the distance a body moves per unit of time but direction as well as rate should be considered. The motion should be expressed in time and distance, e.g. miles per hour or in human movement analysis feet per second would be more appropriate.

Next: Big men in small singlets.   

The Two Hands Snatch, Part Five - Dave Webster and Al Murray

Foot Spacing in Splitting

In our latest study before publication, starting and finishing positions were traced from as near side views as possible, in most instances direct side views were used. Veres' being nearer the back of the platform gave a slight angle for filming. In order to give some degree of uniformity to the finished charts, the various distances were calculated in FOOT LENGTHS, e.g., Stogov's front foot moved forward until his heel was 3/4 foot length in front of the starting position of that toe. Mannironi's rear foot traveled so far that the toe landed two foot lengths behind the starting position of the heel.

This not only gave uniformity but also gave a better comparison of respective width of splits. Had this not been done, small men like Stogov would have appeared to have a very short split compared with big men like Gubner. However, this procedure obviously does not give 100% accuracy as large men with small feet or small men with large feet would give a distorted impression. Observations lead us to believe that this factor did not affect the figures to any noticeable degree.

Having set out the respective amount of travel for front feet and back feet, the distance between the feet was measured again in foot lengths. Assuming that the average lifter's boot measured 10.5 inches, calculations were made to ascertain the amount of split in each case and listed in order of merit. Working on the original figures of foot lengths, rather than on the new ones which were only taken to the nearest 1", an average width of split was calculated.

This survey shows that none of the current top lifters go as far forward as the average British lifter imagines. It is obvious that many lifters are pulling the bar in a straight line (approx.) and even backwards in many cases. The width of split, however, would appear to be in keeping with British conceptions of a good lift as is the finished body positions and distribution of weight if one disregards the starting position of the feet.

Here is the list of foot spacings which must be read bearing in mind the method of measuring to gain uniformity. If for example Zirk's feet actually measure 11.5" as opposed to the 10.5" average used, then his width of split would really be approx. 28.75". If Kaplunov's feet measured 9.25" (which we believe is the case) then the width of split would actually be 32.25" approx.

All these figures are from the HEEL of the front foot to the TOE of the rear foot.

As a guide, one of the investigators at a fraction less than 5'8" in height generally averages approx. 28" in the split. Kaplunov showed the widest split of all, by a considerable margin, on the lifts measured. On the same scale as the chart his measurement would be 36.5 units. Measured as accurately as possible, our measurement showed approx. 31.8 to be the actual figure. Or, calculating from the chart if his feet sized 9" it would be 31.5, if 9.25" split is 32.25 or if 9.5" split is 33.25 and so on.

The Rear Foot in the Split Style

It was for some time believed that the rear foot landed first because of the smaller range of movement it had in the split (the extension of the back leg being less than the flexion of the front leg). A further reason for the back foot landing first was that is was said to travel a shorter distance by keeping near the floot, etc. Actually we now consider that these are not the reasons for the faster landing of the rear foot. In the case of the current champions the rear foot has farther to travel than the front one and in addition the front foot is favored mechanically.

The flexion at the knee and hip joints reduces the moment of inertia as the lower part of the leg is brought nearer to the hip joint and angular velocity increases. The hip flexors, supported by the abdominals, being mainly responsible for this action. The work of these muscles is reduced because of the bending of the leg.

The reason for the back foot landing first is very simple -- the performer makes it move faster! At some stages it is moving approximately twice as fast as the front foot.

It is interesting to note that some performers slide their back foot along the ground after landing, but this is not a recommended practice.

Where the foot travels obliquely from the center line to give a diagonal split, or transference of bodyweight causes the body to be moving away from the side of the rear foot, there is again a lack of stability. This inhibits muscular effort as the attention of the lifter is diverted to maintaining position as well as lifting the weight.


There is usually stability if the lever is at right angles to the fulcrum but where the lever rests obliquely there is generally less stability.

In addition to the mechanical aspect, there are other important anatomical and kinetic reasons why a straight line or thrust is desirable. The 'thrust reflex' in plantar flexion is well know to those who have made a deep study of human movement analysis. There are many good examples in walking and running be we will confine ourselves to its application in the snatch.

As the rear foot touches down and becomes weight bearing, the toes are spread slightly and metatarsals stimulate contraction of the foot flexors. This in turn results in contraction of calf and thigh muscles and there is even increased tension in the muscles of the trunk.

It should be kept in mind that this thrust reflex is also well demonstrated during the pull before splitting or squatting.

NEXT: Finished squat snatch position, review questions and glossary of terms.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Two Hands Snatch, Part Four - Dave Webster and Al Murray

Parallelograms of Forces

In Britain a large amount of forward and upward hip thrust is sometimes taught. In other countries the upward action is emphasized. This affects the parallelogram of forces.

The hip thrust is divided into forward and upward components, and the varying magnitudes of these components obviously have different results. These components tend to rotate the lifter forwards and backwards depending on his position. The result is that those who jump back are most likely to rotate forward and those with a big forward hip thrust will tend to rotate backwards. However, compensatory acceleration can reduce this. The elbows coming forward in the clean is a good example of this.

To investigate theories further regarding forward travel being due to eccentric thrust and parallelograms of forces, many tracings were done of Al Murray and Mike Pearman, two typical British stylists. The loops of these two lifters confirmed our views as both emphasized forward and upward hip action and reached positions of 85 deg., 93 and 93.5 deg., in both squat and split styles. Obviously they have their hips much further forward than most world top liners,and although obtaining full extensions, the line No. 2 was also nearer the vertical.

In the light of knowledge gained from this study, we believe that when analyzing film in addition to the frame of maximum extension before the first foot leaves the platform, one of the key positions should also be the last frame before the body finally comes in contact with the floor.

We noted that:

Miyake, Foldi and Stugov use the greatest layback in extension and the heavyweights much less.

Kailajarvi has the greatest body curve in full extension amongst the greatest lifters.

Kaplunov and Tamraz have personal centers of gravity will forward, but because of entirely different body positioning.

Before progressing to the next stage it should be noted that now, with illustrations we have at our disposal, it is possible to calculate the ANGULAR VELOCITY in the angle through which a body travels per second.

The figures quoted in Snatch timings cannot give a good picture unless compared with the appropriate illustration. It can easily be appreciated that a lifter who starts with a high shoulder position and does an incomplete extension will have moved his back through a much shorter radius than the man who starts with a low shoulder position in relation to his hips and does a very full hyperextension.

The former will have less Angular Velocity of the back as he had moved it through a shorter range in the same time.

Click Pics to ENLARGE

The trunk moves from position 1 to position 8 in 1/2 second. By measuring the angles, angular velocity can be calculated. The movement of the femur can also be judged approximately but the intervention of the bar makes accurate calculations difficult for the average person.

For convenience, the angles of the back were measured through 8 frames  (1/2 second) and the figures doubled.


Kaplunov, 154 degrees; Vlasov in one of the snatches which got to arms length and missed, 106 degrees; Plyukfelder, 115 degrees; Makinnen, 174 degrees.

Other body angles must also be considered; for example, the thighs are very important in the pull for the snatch and also the clean. Let us compare the figures of Miyake and Kaplunov. Here are the relevant statistics from lifts at Budapest where Miyake showed better technique than displayed a year earlier --

Miyake's back starts at 40 degrees. In half a second it moves through 40 degrees. 
ANGULAR VELOCITY = 80 degrees.

Kaplunov's back starts at 15 degrees but in half a second moves through 77 degrees.
ANGULAR VELOCITY = 154 degrees.

The range of movements of the respective femurs have been eliminated. Miyake's thighs move through 65 degrees in 1/2 second.
ANGULAR VELOCITY = 130 degrees.

Kaplunov's thighs start at 30 degrees and move through 70 degrees.
ANGULAR VELOCITY = 140 degrees.
Where the sum of Miyake's figures total 210 degrees (180 + 130), Kaplunov's figures total 294 degrees (154 + 140). 
The result is that Kaplunov pulls the bar much higher AT THIS STAGE OF THE LIFT. 
Remember, the details throughout this book apply to the snatch. There are considerable differences in pulling for the clean, etc.

Linear Velocity
The linear velocity imparted to the bar will depend on the foregoing figures and also the length of the athlete's back and thighs. If two lifters pull with the same angular velocity then the one with the longer measurements, thus giving a greater radius, will give greater speed of the bar. This is one of the reasons why a tall lifter can move the bar a greater distance than a small person can in the same time.


Angular momentum is transferred from body to the bar and at full extension the body begins to lower while the transference of momentum should result in the bar continuing to travel upwards. The height to which the bar rises depends on the amount of momentum and velocity. When the feet are back on the floor it is possible once again to apply a considerable amount of force. However, at this stage a speedy but controlled lowering of the bod is desirable. The arm and shoulder muscles should work concentrically against the bar to bring the body into the finished position at a speed greater than the pull of gravity. We estimate the body should go down at approximately double the speed of gravity -- the body should move about 2 ft. in 1/4 sec. It is emphasized that the amount and direction of pull on the bar is of vital importance. The greater the force at this stage the faster the movement under the bar -- but it is at this stage that many good pulls go wrong. The pull of gravity would cause athlete and bar to drop at the same speed(1 ft. in 1/4 sec.) if without momentum or support. This means that although the feet are back on the ground and force can be exerted, any great force from the legs will tend to retard the speed of dropping under the bar. The main effect, in our opinion, is that the feet being fixed will make the reaction of the pull be absorbed not by the body as a whole but by the upper body, particularly the head.

We feel that electromyograph studies of this stage of the snatch would be most enlightening.

The lifter at this stage will be pulling extremely hard with the arms and shoulders, but his leg and hip muscles must be comparatively relaxed on landing. Hence the expression, "Pull like a horse and land like a dancer." Unfortunately, many lifters reverse the procedure.

It is only when a lifter is approaching the lowest position that he applies any real effort. This should be thought of as "applying the brakes" and not as many coaches and lifters have thought, an effort to stop high so that they can go lower if necessary and adjust the body positioning en route. This misconception is still prevalent amongst squat stylists. Always aim at getting the lowest possible position and only "apply the brakes" towards the conculsion of the leg movement while the amrs exert maximum effort throughout.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tom Platz Talks Leg Training - Lara McGlashan-Volz

How Tom Platz Built Those Legs

Just starting out, I trained with Olympic lifters who taught me a reverence for the squat. They taught me that this is where life and death passes before your eyes, that this is the altar of weight lifting. But when I first came to Gold's in Venice the squat rack was cluttered and shoved in the back, an nobody used it. Sure, Arnold and Ed Corney used it in Pumping Iron, but that was more for show. When I started squatting a lot, people said I shouldn't because it would throw off my balance and symmetry. I did it anyway.

Because it was so taxing, I squatted only twice a month. It was like you were attempting something superhuman. To prepare for it, I'd get up at 5 a.m. and mentally talk to myself as encouragement and that helped make it easy in my mind. It never turned out that way, of course. It was always brutal, to the point where I'd go, "I think I felt the muscle tear off the bone. I think we should stop, Tony (Martinez)." And he's say, "You'll be okay. Rub it a little bit and you'll be fine." But I was good at talking myself into the idea of squatting, even though I knew the reality."

I'd put on my lifting shoes - I wore Adidas weightlifting shoes with a higher heel that tapered down to a thin sole - and they were part of my experience, physically and psychologically. I mean, would you go ice-skating without blades? Lifting shoes were that for me: an important piece of the puzzle that made my workout the experience that it was.

So I'd put on my shoes, grab my gear and drive from Malibu to Venice in my 1960 Corvette. As I pulled out of the garage the throaty rumble of the powerful engine would blend  into my psyche and become part of my preparation as I drove. I'd purposely drive by the ocean to watch the waves smash powerfully against the rocks. If I thought about the workout too much, I'd get sweaty palms on the way to the gym and couldn't grip the steering wheel. Watching the ocean helped distract, and prepare me. 

I'd pull into Gold's in Venice. It wasn't busy like it is today. There were only a few of us there, especially that early. And, of course, Tony would be there waiting for me, ready for the workout. 

We'd go to the squat rack and I remember always stretching in front of the rack. I'd take the hurdler's position on the floor - one leg bent, the other straight - then lower my nose to my knee. As I stretched out I'd try to ease my mind, convince myself I was there to have fun, to just do one or two sets and call it quits. Sometimes we'd even cover the mirror with newspaper because I didn't want to see myself squat. I just wanted to feel it and experience it within my own being.

Of course this pre-workout time wasn't only about the stretching; it was also about emotionally and physically preparing for what was about to come. I'd touch the weights, the rack, the bar, and I'd have this almost religious reverence for them. I liked to use an old battered bar, slightly bent just enough so that it didn't roll off my shoulders when I was standing erect. I'd marked it with a plate, banged the plate on the collar so that I could remember which one it was, and I always wrapped a towel around the bar before I started my sets.

Done stretching, I'd put on my lifting belt - a little loose so that I could breathe - and Tony and I would warm up real slow. A set at 135 for 10 easy reps. Add another plate, nice and easy. Then we'd listen to Motown and we'd start progressing with the weight. Now 315. I'd leave space between the plates on purpose so when I came up from the squat, a real quick rep, the plates would jingle. The sound was very important to me. The music, the Motown and the plates jingling against one another - big, thick, 45-pound iron plates. That sound helped me time the reps and my movement. I liked to come up quickly with such speed that the bar would bend over my shoulders and the plates would crash together, and I relished that sensation! I'd do a quick 20 reps with 315 with all my senses focused.

One more 45 per side and Tony would put the collars on, knowing the exact space to get that sound. Tony would count off my reps . . . 10 . . . 20 . . . 30 - let's see how far we can go! When I'd get to the point where I couldn't do any more reps, Tony would say something like, "You OWN this exercise!" or "Go after it and GET IT!" He would conjure up six, eight, 10, 20 more reps out of me. Then I'd literally fall into the squat rack and jing! The plates would rattle and I'd fall to the floor. I'd take the belt off and all of a sudden I was gasping for air and I couldn't breathe. It felt like someone was driving knives into my legs, and my heart rate went through the roof. I couldn't see, I was sweating profusely, but eventually I'd come back.

Sometimes it took me 20 minutes, but I always came back. When I could see properly again I'd go outside and breathe some fresh air, then come back in and say, "Okay, Tony, one more set!" And we'd go again.

On those days when I left the gym I was high. I thought, "I lived through this. I got through this. I can do anything in life." I'd keep my belt on loosely and walk to the car, thinking victory. I was one with my spirit and with God.

I trained legs every week, but the squats were so exhausting that I couldn't walk afterward and doing another exercise was simply out of the question. So I squatted twice a month and did other 'accessory' machine movements like leg extensions, leg curls, and hack squats on alternate weeks.

Leg Extensions

Back in the mid-80s this guy named Magic, who lived in a yellow school bus behind Gold's gym, made me a  special lifting belt to strap myself into place onto the old leg extension at Gold's - the original one Joe Gold had made that Arnold, Draper, Zane, Corney and all of my mentor figures had used. I'd hurt my arm - I tore the biceps tendon off the bone - and although it had been repaired, hanging onto the leg extension machine put a lot of stress on my arm. The old machine was just a seat with no back and a bicycle chain attached to the weight stack. It was antiquated, even at that time, but I liked it because I felt Draper's fingerprints on it. A lot of people had no idea how to use the machine because it didn't have a back on it, but I knew. All I had to do was look at that machine and my legs grew.

I'd lock myself into the machine (using the belt Magic made), and hook my feet under the pad. I'd warm up with some light weight, like half a stack for a set of 10. Then I had this old, bent, beat-up pin that I'd put underneath the whole stack and hand a 100-pound plate off. Tony's job was to make sure that plate didn't fall of while I was doing my reps! Then I'd start: I'd pull this weight stack with the 100-pound plate as forcefully as I could up in the air, accelerating through the whole movement. Because the machine had to back, I'd lean forward, grab the back of the machine and at this point I was almost parallel to the floor! Then I'd lower the stack and plate back to the start, controlling its descent as I sat back up. A jackknife. Rep after rep, I'd feel the tension accumulating in my muscles. And when I dropped the weight at the bottom it'd bounce on the springs of the machine. I'd lift it again and my legs would light on fire. The intensity and the tension were indicative that growth was imminent. Separation, clarity, distinction, quality -- all the freaky stuff I lived for would be forthcoming.

I'd get 8-10 reps for the first 5 sets, then maybe 2-5 reps for the next 5. When I say 8-10 or 2-5,that's reps done on my own; I'm not counting the 15-20 forced reps -- baby reps, partial reps, negatives -- that Tony would assist me with. I'd raise the machine arm as high as I possibly could so that my quads were fully contracted. Then Tony would push down, in pulses almost, on the machine arm and I'd resist his pressure. He'd repeatedly push down,then let go, and I would bring it back up as high as I could. The weight would slowly get lower and lower because I was getting fatigued,and finally about 6 to 7 minutes later the set would be done. It was like a long, extended negative set with little pushes and pulls throughout. And that was just one set.

When the set was over I'd be in extreme pain, writhing around. And it was like an operation to get me out of that machine as a few guys unbuckled me and took the chains and straps off. Then I'd get up and hang onto the machine and gasp for air. But after a minute or two, Tony would look at me and say, "You ready? Let's go." And he'd lock me back into place again and I'd do 6-10 more sets. 

Lying Leg Curls

I'd always do lying leg curls at the completion or our workout. We used the old Nautilus leg curl machine -- the one with a bicycle chain that made a ton of noise -- of course! Again, a very antiquated machine but the most effective one of all time, I believe. It's long gone but I still remember how it used to feel. 

Because we did leg curls at the end of the workout, I was pretty tired and could only do like 1-4 sets, but I'd change it up to achieve failure. Sometimes I'd do 50 reps with moderate weight, or I'd use tons of weight for only 3 reps. The workouts depended on my mood and my level of exhaustion.

For the curls I'd do a number of reps on my own, then I'd have Tony grab my ankles and push down very, very slowly. I'd fight back the whole time and the negative part of the set might last a whole minute. Two sets like that and I was finished. 

Hack Squats

Hack squats were very, very meaningful in terms of bringing out the sweep in my quads. Initially when I was developing my training protocol I tried to do hacks after my barbell squats. But because I could barely walk after squatting I had no strength to do them, so I did the hacks on alternate weeks, too. 

In the machine, I was taught to put my heels together and point my toes out. That way you primarily squat on the lateral edge of your foot, putting tension on the vastus lateralis, which gives the thighs a sweep.

I'd do a warmup set with a few plates on each side to get my head on right -- of course leaving some space between the plates so they'd jingle and give me that sound I loved -- then I'd do hack squats until I couldn't do any more. Sometimes I'd have four 45-pound plates on each side for 8-10 reps. Other times I'd have a quarter or a dime on their for 50 reps. The weight didn't matter. I'd go for that mental connection to my body and my legs. I wanted to feel and grow that tension to the point where I knew it was going to be effective in the muscles becoming larger, more striated or more substantial.

I'd do several reps on my own, then I'd have Tony push down on the machine while I'd do partial reps. Or sometimes I'd have Tony sit on the machine, hang onto it and pull, and I'd do baby reps, partial reps, isometrics and negatives. Whatever it took to completely exhaust the muscles to the point of absolute failure -- then go beyond that into the red zone. We'd do a total of about 6-10 sets of hack squats. 

Calf Raises

We would actually go to World Gym down the street to do calves. That's where Arnold and Frank and a lot of other guys were training at the time, and since our hard, focused work was through we could spare a little energy and joke around there. Plus they had better calf machines!

We'd change our routine a lot and sometimes we'd do standing calf raises. I'd have Tony and a couple of other guys hanging off the machine, and I'd be holding the weight as high as I could for as long as I could. Other times I'd do as many reps as I could for one set and call it a day. We also did seated calf raises. I'd have as many as 15 100-pound plates stacked on there. I'd do my reps then have Tony push slightly, pumping it with baby movements until I couldn't sustain the tension.

One time the seated calf machine actually broke! It shot me out of the machine like a bullet. Joe Gold was freaking out and yelling at everybody and I'm like, "What happened?" This was two weeks before the Olympia in 1981 and after a few moments my ankle started to swell up. I iced it and it was okay, but it was still a little swollen. If you look closely at the '81 Olympia photos you'll notice a difference in my ankles. One looks swollen. That's what it's from.   


I wasn't the most genetically gifted bodybuilder, but my attitude prevailed. I attribute my physical success to my dedication and my training. It really started in Michigan, the craziness. In college, we'd plan a yearly squat-off to see who could do the most reps. We'd plan it for a whole year and I dreaded it for a whole year. I remember when the day came I did 225 for 10 minutes without stopping at all. I don't remember how many reps it was, but I do remember vowing never to do that again! But I just went there. It was part of my mentality.

When I first moved to California I actually trained with Arnold for a while. I figured if his training system worked for him and Franco, it should work for me, too. But it didn't! I got smaller and fatter training with Arnold. He trained twice a day, six days a week, sometimes seven, and used lots of sets and decent weight. I got depressed because I was shrinking and took a few weeks off. When I came back I decided to train four days a week, and I grew. Arnold responded to high frequency and high volume; I responded better to less volume and frequency but much higher intensity and heavy weights. Later I realized I was doing a primitive form of periodization, working both types of muscle fibers. But back then all I knew is that I was growing!
I did, however, borrow the idea of extending my sets beyond the standard from Mike Mentzer. I'd watched him and his partner training on the leg extension machine one day: Mike would lift the weight to the top then his partner would push down slowly as Mike would resist. So I tried it and Oh My God! I felt like I'd never trained before! My quads were burning and my muscles were firing and I simply had to incorporate this concept into my training.

I discussed it with my training partner Tony and we came up with our own version of that kind of extended set. We incorporated their ideas with some of my powerlifting background where you'd do partial reps in a power rack. We came up with a set that included negatives, forced reps, partner-assisted reps, isometrics -- everything came into play in the course of one single set. We moved the weight until physically, absolutely, neither one of us could move it any more. The longer the set, the harder it became and the more I knew it would work. Of course, there was a huge benefit-to-risk ratio. I had to ask myself, "How far do I want to push a contraction before it becomes detrimental?" I was willing to toy around in that red zone.




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