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

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