Friday, June 28, 2013

Think Down Not Out to Get Under the Bar - Mark Kaelin

Lifter receiving bar by jumping out, resulting in high bar position 
and poor set up to perform a front squat

Lifter aggressively lowers hips to get under bar resulting in 
a strong front squat position to stand with load.

Renewed interest in Olympic lifting has student athletes all over the country hoisting weights over their heads looking to improve athletic performance. One common problem I see all the time in these folks is poor receiving position. Rather than aggressively moving under the bar by lowering the hips, new lifters jump out or spread their legs apart to get under the weight. Unfortunately, in the beginning with lighter weights, this technique works. However, very quickly performance plateaus, as receiving the bar like this puts you in a poor position to support the weight and stand. Like Greg Everett says, "the goal of squatting in the context of the Olympic lifts is straightforward: to achieve maximal depth with the most upright posture possible." Let's look at the causes of this mistake and describe some tips you can incorporate into workouts to help your athletes get under the bar and finish their lifts the right way.

"You have to teach full squats for Olympic lifting, as catching the bar results in a full squat," says Joe Berning, director of the New Mexico States Exercise Physiology Lab. Since a strong front squat translates into strong cleans, why do so many athletes struggle with good form? Simple. Athletes learn very quickly that work = force x distance. Some of the most brutal workouts I've ever completed were built around squats. By limiting range of motion through inadequate squat depth, workouts are easier. Unfortunately, this bad habit turns up in other lifts (cleans and snatches), resulting in poor technique and failed lifts. So what do you do? First, emphasize form from early on. If you spy an athlete cheating, call them out. I know one strength coach who makes his entire team start their sets over if he spies one athlete cheating. Needless to say, it doesn't take long for everyone to fall in line.

In addition to emphasizing good form, Berning recommends "building base strength." Since Olympic lifts are built around squats, maximize your athlete's strength before beginning these lifts. This helps in two ways. First, this preparatory period increases muscular strength of the prime movers for these lifts and develops neural pathways in the brain and spinal cord, teaching the body how to move. Berning puts it this way: "If you can't front squat it, you have no business trying to clean or snatch it." Another factor that reinforces Berning's approach for building a level of base strength is that generally athletes can squat 131% more than they clean & jerk.

Secondly, a base strength program psychologically prepares your athlete. How many failed lifts in your gym are the result of mental failure rather than physical? Last time I went for a 1RM in deadlifts, I pulled 250 pounds with perfect form and good effort. Next I rested and put 10 more pounds on the bar, lined myself up, took a deep breath, went to pull, and barely got it off the floor. I rested again, tried and got the same result. I wish I could say that my lifting partner then yelled at me, I got mad, pulled 260 off the floor and continued on to top at 270. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I tried for a third time then called it a day. Why? Fear. During my rest break, I started thinking, "Man, should I be lifting this heavy? What if I get hurt?" I was done before I approached the bar; with my confidence lacking there was no way I would commit everything to the lift and follow through.

Athlete's perceptions play a role in their success. Cox, Shannon, and associates studied the link between subjective athletic performance and psychological skills (confidence, free from worry, coachability, and goal setting) in 627 collegiate student athletes (326 men and 301 women). What they found was that confidence was the strongest predictor for subjective athletic performance, meaning, athletes with high levels of confidence believe they can succeed. Mastering good form and increasing base strength improves your athlete's perceptions. A confident athlete with good base strength and technique puts fear aside, approaches the bar and proceeds to extend his back, hips, knees, and ankles while pulling with the traps maximizing bar acceleration. From there, they can receive as it descends in a strong front squat position, controlling the descent of the bar and instead of stalling at the bottom, extending the hips and knees to stand.

After building your athlete's base strength, and as a result of this confidence, it's time to introduce them to the lifts. Talking to coaches, I've found everyone has their system that works for them. Glenn Pendlay recommends training three days a week with workouts built around snatches, clean & jerks, squatting, and lifting circuits. I also like to see athletes in the gym three times a week but prefer to teach them the clean first and move onto the Olympic lifts. How you do this is an aspect of your work that you've built over time and is outside the scope of this article. However, it doesn't matter who I talk to or what I read again and again all programs are built around one factor, building strong technique.

The tool most coaches use to refine technique is verbal cuing. "Legs under not out!" is a common cue I use emphasizing the need for relocating under the bar in a front squat position to form a stable platform. However, many times athletes feel like that's what they're already doing and don't understand. At this point verbal cues aren't working and it's time to employ visual ones. Ben Carter, founder and head coach at Bluegrass Barbell Club in Louisville, KY. recommends taping a box on the floor of the lifting platform. After each attempt or successful lift, athletes can check their foot position and get immediate feedback on how they did. 

 Page left: initial foot position for set up.
Center: Poor receiving position and instant feedback for athlete.
Page right: strong receiving position.

Another method is videotaping. Thanks to smartphones and iPads, this technology is easy to find. For the best results, utilize programs with super slow motion capabilities as at this speed you can break down the lift and see where it starts to fall apart. "Play one of their teammates or a world champion simultaneously on the screen as that way they have similar views," says Berning. The value of both of these methods is the instant feedback the athlete gets. They see that even though they "feel" like they are lowering their hips to get under the bar, they aren't. Now they've seen and you can coach them through.

Keep in mind athletes can only process so much information. Only correct one or two points a day as, "too much information can lead to paralysis by analysis" says Berning. However, here too coaches differ on how to work on technique. Dan Barnett, owner of Crossfit Louisville East, suggests, "working on hang drills as they emphasize bar speed and getting under the bar quickly." I prefer to begin with the first pull and emphasizing through extension. Maximizing extension increases bar speed making it easier to drop under the bar in a strong front squat position. No matter what portion of the lift you begin with, make sure athletes approach and set up at the bar the same way every time, as repetition increases retention.

It's also important to watch your athletes as they lift and during rest breaks. Olympic lifting is not a bodybuilding workout or a metcon. During heavy load, low volume training sessions athletes need three to five minutes to recover between sets. Unfortunately, many athletes struggle with taking adequate rest breaks since they're highly motivated and associate taking a break with taking it easy. Nothing could be farther from the truth because as fatigue sets in, form deteriorates. Many athletes may signal they are ready to go after their breathing returns to normal. Don't let them. Fatigue causes poor extension leading to slow bar speeds, muscling up the weight, and wide foot placement versus a strong front squat position. When you're reviewing workouts, place special emphasis on how long the athletes need to rest. Stop athletes at the first sign of poor form and either make t hem rest more or call it a day. At this point, continuing to train only results in reinforcing a bad habit. 

In his article "Six Truths of Olympic Lifting," Greg Everett states, "relocation under the bar is an active movement." It's a front squat. Many times beginners want to jump out, not go under the bar to relocate. There are many reasons for this: inadequate strength, bad form, or just lack of confidence. Whatever the cause, address it with the athlete. Develop a plan and watch their performance improve. Once an athlete begins to actively relocate, their lifts improve, and nothing changes an athlete's behavior like success. 


The Olympic Weightlifting Squat, by Greg Everett

A Training System for Beginning Olympic Weightlifters, by Glen Pendlay

Six Truths of Olympic Weightlifting Technique, by Greg Everett

Not Just Pumping Iron, Part Eighteen

Corpse Pose

Inner Critic

The second meditation I want to offer focuses directly on the musculature. In this case, one quiets the mental chatter by systematically directing one's attention to the relaxation of the muscles, one body area at a time. The particular way of doing this is one which I learned many years ago and have used on myself and with psychotherapy clients. It is based on an asana (body posture) of Hatha Yoga known as "savasana," the "corpse pose." I learned this first as savasana and years later in my doctoral study I was exposed to a Western version developed by Edmund Jacobson (1938) and known as "progressive relaxation."

 The progressive muscle relaxation techniques of Edmund Jacobson:
[opens as downloadable Word.doc]

What I am about to describe draws both on the savasana of Hatha Yoga and Jacobson's progressive relaxation.

Find a quiet, private place where you can lie down without discomfort. (Once the method is learned well, it can be practiced sitting, as well as lying. But while learning, and even after it is well known, for greatest benefit, it is practiced in a supine position.) Lie on your back, eyes closed, arms along your side, and your legs uncrossed. Breathe comfortably. In teaching this method of relaxation I give the following instructions, speaking slowly and pausing for a few moments after each sentence:

Imagine a wave of relaxation which is going to spread very slowly over your entire body. Feel the relaxation begin at the tips of your toes and spread up each toe. Allow the relaxation to continue spreading over the soles of your feet and the tops of your feet, up to your ankles. And, now, let the relaxation move up your lower legs to your knees. Over your calves. Over your shins. Feel the relaxation move deeply into your calves. And each time you breathe out, you can relax a little more and a little more. Allow the relaxation to move into your knees. Feel it deep down in the joints. Let the relaxation continue, now, up your legs to your pelvis. The backs of your legs. The outside of your legs. The insides of your thighs. The fronts of your legs. Each time you breathe out, you can let go a little more. Now, allow the wave of relaxation to move into your pelvis. Let your hips relax. Relax your genitals. Relax your lower abdomen. And, now, the wave of relaxation has spread from the tips of your toes to your waist. And each time you exhale, you can let go a little more and a little more. Allow the relaxation to move up your back now. Your lower back. The middle of your back. Your upper back, up to your neck. And let the relaxation move up your sides to your armpits. Allow the wave of relaxation to spread from your waist up over your upper abdomen and over your chest, up to your shoulders. Now, let the relaxation spread over your shoulders, and deep down into the joints. Let the wave continue down your arms, over your triceps to your elbows. Over your biceps. And now, down your forearms to your wrists. Allow the relaxation to spread into your hands. The backs of your hands. The palms of your hands. And down each finger to their very tips. Imagine even your fingernails relaxing. The wave of relaxation has now spread from the tips of your toes up to your neck, and down each arm to the tips of your fingers. And, each time you exhale, you can let go a little more, and a little more. Will you now allow the wave of relaxation to spread up your neck? Up the front of your neck, over your throat. Up the sides of your neck. Up the back of your neck and up over the back of your head. Feel the relaxation spread over your scalp. Imagine even your hair relaxing. Let your ears relax. And deep inside your ears. Allow the wave to move on down over your forehead. Let your eyebrows relax. And your eyes. Your nose. And cheeks. Let your lips relax. And your chin. Allow the relaxation to move inside your mouth. Feel your tongue relax. Imagine even your teeth gently relaxing in their sockets. Let your throat relax. And now this very comfortable wave of relaxation has spread over your entire body, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head, and down your arms to the tips of your fingers. And each time your exhale you can relax a little more. Feel the deep, comfortable relaxation.

The pacing of the instructions is very slow, at first. As one practices this method of relaxation one will become more efficient at it. This means both that one can reach the state of full body relaxation more quickly, and that the state reached will be of a more profound relaxation. When beginning this practice it may take 10 or 15 minutes to complete the covering of the whole body. It may help to work with a partner for a few times, having him read the above instructions to you. Once you get the feel for the process, you can do it alone, without the words. Rather than hearing the words, you can simply feel your body relax as you move through it systematically with your internal attention. There is a variation discussed both in the yoga and in the progressive relaxation literature which may be helpful of you have difficulty in relaxing your muscles by just thinking of it. The variation is to tense each muscle for a few seconds first, and then let go. One them moves through the body, tensing and relaxing each muscle group one at a time.

If you are in need of sleep when you practice this method of relaxation, you may well fall asleep. When I have had insomnia and used this method to sleep, rarely have I remembered getting past my waist!

Once the savasana is well-learned, as well as the mantra meditation discussed earlier, the two can be used together. These two methods used singly or jointly give one a great deal of help in being able to quiet one's mind. Until experienced, it cannot be imagined how very different life seems with a mind that is still.


As energy draining and distracting as mental chatter is, even more devastating are the critical things which one may say to himself. What I am referring to is the negative self talk in which many people engage. It is as if there were an internal critic who is constantly discouraging, depreciating, and, in general, undermining one's self-confidence and sense of well-being. This internal critic may be subtle, just planting seeds of self-doubt by saying things like, "You can't do it," You'll never be able to do that," or "That's probably more than you can do." Or, it may be more blatant and harsh, shouting inside, things like "You stupid idiot, why don't you give up?" or "You're making a fool of yourself." The essence of the internal critic is a voice which criticizes and discourages.

A natural question is "Where does the internal critical voice come from?" The critical voice one hears inside one's head comes from having actually heard such things said when one was young. As a young, dependent child, parents and other parenting figures such as grandparents, other relatives, babysitters, and teachers are sometimes harshly critical. Regardless of their motivation, whether they are ignorant and believe they are helping build the child's character, are insensitive, or are intentionally cruel, the messages of discouragement are given. Sometimes these messages are taken in and believed. To use the psychological term, the critical messages are introjected. It is as if the person then splits inside, forming an internalized critic, which mirrors the external critics,alongside the healthy part of the personality. Sometimes the internal critic utters the exact words which the person was told many years before, as a child. In other cases the words are not verbatim, but reflect the essence of what had been said. When the critical message which the child received was nonverbal, then the internal critic provides the words, creating what might have been said if the external critics had used words. 

Those readers who suffer from a harsh internal critic know how bothersome it can be. Few people grow up in this society without such an internal critic. For many people, the critic voice is more than just a bother, and actually interferes to a greater or lesser degree with one's performance. For the lifter, this may mean that one discourages one's self from doing one's best, particularly at those times when the stakes are highest, in the contest. Most everyone knows that a cheering crowd can enhance athletic performance. And, a booing crowd, with its negative energy and insults can distract and discourage an athlete. When one has an active internal critic, it is as if one has brought along a hostile audience, bent on interfering with one's performance.

No matter how well trained and well prepared a lifter is, he will not perform at his best as long as his internal critic is operating. In addition, though not as dramatic, the internal critic will assuredly at times get activated even in training, thus detracting from the value of that training session.

Remember, the internal critical voice is not natural. It is the continuation of negative introjected messages. And, this is not the voice of constructive criticism. It is, rather, a voice that discourages and undermines. Its effects are purely deleterious.

In working with psychotherapy patients, I have had a lot of practice in helping people to learn to quiet the voices of their internal critics. So, I want to offer some guidelines which you, the reader, can use.

The first step in dealing with the internal critic is to become aware of it. Listen carefully to what you say to yourself about yourself. Listen carefully, and recognize the things which you say are "put downs," discouragements, or in any way statements which make you feel bad or feel like doing less than your best. Listen for insulting name calling or any depreciation of your worth or your abilities. Remember, the statements may be harsh and obvious, or they may be subtle and insidious.

Next, explore the statement and experience it. Listen to the statement word by word, carefully. Say it over and over, if necessary, from the vantage point of an observer. Let yourself recognize the negative intention of the statement. Notice its inaccuracy, its distortions of truth, and its nefarious purpose. Feel your reaction to it. Perhaps, imagine how you would feel if someone else said it to you. In the process of exploring and experiencing the statement, you may remember who originally gave you that message, and when. Making this historical connection can be interesting and it is usually helpful. It certainly expands one's understanding of one's self. It is not necessary, however, to make the historical connection in order to deal with the critical voice. And, making the historical connection does not in and of itself stop the voice. Anamnesis is not therapeusis. In other words, insight into the origin of the psychological problem is not the same as the resolving of the problem.

The next step is to let go of it. Even though someone else originally made the critical statement, at this time one is saying to one's self. As I pointed out earlier, it is as if the person splits into the internal critic who says the negative message and the other part of the self who receives the message. Since it is you who is now doing it, you can choose not to do it. You can choose not to say the critical words internally, just as surely as you can choose to say something aloud, or not. The critical message has power only insofar as you give it energy. If you say it, you are hanging on to it. But by not saying it, you are letting go of it. This is a solution by "not doing." Or, as some sage once advised, "If you are sticking your finger in your eye and it hurts, stop sticking your finger in your eye!"

As simple as letting go of something is, for now, do something else. The something else is to say to yourself something which counters the critical voice. Often, this means saying the opposite. If, for instance, your critical voice is saying, "Dummy!" you can say, "I am not dumb," to counter it. Or if your internal critic says, "Give up. You'll never be able to do it," you can counter with "I think I can do it; I'll try my best." Such internal counters may sound silly, until you actually try them and experience for yourself how effective they can be.

Eventually, having employed the counter messages enough times, one may find it easier to let go of the critical messages. It is the successful letting go of these messages which gives one freedom from the internal critic.

An example from training may clarify this process of dealing with the interference of an internal critic. Suppose a lifter finds each time that he approaches a training session, he feels a draining of enthusiasm. Somehow that special spark disappears as he reaches for the bar to start the session. Our lifter is puzzled by this. Having read of the method which I have just discussed, he decides to experiment with it. So, next training session our lifter takes the step of awareness. That is, he focuses attention on the internal voices as he approaches the bar. "Voila!" Our lifter hears an internal voice saying, "Why bother? You'll never be any good at this anyway." Perhaps our lifter recognizes that this voice and this message have a familiar ring. What had been going on outside of awareness is now in awareness.

Next: Exploration and Experience.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Complete Contest Preparation, Part Two - Bob Gallucci

Click Pic to ENLARGE

(3 months before peak)

In the first section of this article we discussed planning and preparation for natural physique men, both novice and advanced, for up to three months before a contest peak. I think it is important to establish foundations for the non-steroid bodybuilder, particularly in the areas of nutrition and supplementation. It is the goal of this article to educate bodybuilders in all aspects of preparation and use this information as a yearly outline when preparing for a peak.

It is now three months before the big day. You have begun preparation three months previous and it is now time for:

Stage 1 - Reevaluation

Too often bodybuilders look at photos of their favorites and decide that this is what they want to look like. In 1977-78 almost everyone wanted to look like Frank Zane. This is impossible for the large-boned, wide-waisted and short-legged individual. Every physique man must decide truthfully what his strong and weak points are. During preparation for a peak he must be constantly reevaluating his physique as to size, proportion, shape, muscularity and separation.

The next step is to decide what exercises would improve overall shape (i.e., deltoids overdeveloped in front and side areas; rear lateral raises and similar movements), muscularity (nutrition and cardio), separation (PHA training), size and proportion (emphasis on weaker bodyparts). This is why the mirror viewed with an objective eye is important. Ten friends may give you ten different evaluations of your physique, but a mirror or photo viewed objectively will give you only one - a true and honest evaluation. It is then up to you to plan your training and work very hard to concentrate on those weaker areas.

Stage 2 - Tanning and Dehydration

During the last three months leading to a peak, a deeper tan becomes more necessary as each day passes. A true suntan will always look better than products applied to the skin at the last minute. The sun acts as another aid during the last week. It helps to shed water via our skin pores, creating a decrease of water in the body. This helps in dehydration, a condition which is an aid to muscle separation.

Three weeks before a contest, evaluation of my present muscularity is needed. Usually I begin taking an herbal diuretic (one with each meal) and I do notice greater amounts of water passing through my body daily. I also begin taking one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar along with each meal. A third factor is the addition of a kelp-vinegar-B6 tablet with each meal. The combination of these three and using less water daily results in a "drying out" effect which we call dehydration (loss of water from the body). The last two days before a peak all I do is drink about two pints of water daily. The last day I drink only enough water to keep my mouth moist - that's all!

Remember, dehydration is gradual. You cannot suddenly, totally eliminate all the water from the body with 5-6 days to go before a peak. That would be dangerous and quite foolish to disturb delicate body fluid balances to such a degree as to injure health.

Stage 3 - Nutrition

The philosophy of nutrition and supplementation has changed radically within the last 15 years (article written in 1979). Today nutrition for bodybuilders is a science where carbohydrates are avoided by most like the plague.

Within the last three months prior to peaking, all bodybuilders should be conscious of both the carbohydrate and calorie intake. The idea is to decrease fatty tissue (which the body has) by limiting carbohydrates (used for long lasting energy needs). This cause the body to break down adipose (fatty tissues) as an energy source resulting in a more defined appearance. It also results in a powerless, fatigued, zombie like condition for natural bodybuilders who stay on a near zero carbohydrate diet for two weeks or longer. I have a solution to the energy problem.

Three months prior to the event, a new shock to the system is needed. I suggest taking five complete days of training off! Let the body relax and rest. Do not take any supplements at all! Stay with the present diet you were following as described in the Phase I article. The final three days are the most difficult of all: Fasting takes place.

A bodybuilder who fasts will shrink his stomach and future desirability for more food. He is allowed to eat two pieces of fruit daily, take four wheat bran tablets daily, salad, and water. He can survive on this nutrition for three days, especially at his low caloric output because of his layoff from training.

After the five day training break, the bodybuilder must get back into hard training and nutrition for the following three months. His gains should be rapid because he has placed two new stimuli on his body: fasting and layoff.

A new shock to the dietary system is introduced: 5 small meals per day. Never does the bodybuilder eat a large meal or until he is bloated. He eats these small meals because they are easier to digest and because he should have less desire for food.

These meals should be primarily composed of lean meats (ground beef, steak, liver, lamb, lean ham, lean pork cuts, turkey, kidney and organ meats), chicken, eggs, fish, tuna, salad, and fruits. Although all these foods are low in carbohydrates (except fruit), some are high in fat. This is why lecithin is often taken in larger doses at this time.

For the next three months the above is basically what one should eat. Twice per week you can have a small treat of vegetables (peas, corn, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, peppers, spinach, tomatoes). Water is the main liquid with a diuretic tea taken as a treat. I usually have one sandwich on bread during the three month period but I eliminate this about four weeks before the peak.

I rely heavily on fruit for an energy source (apples, apricots, figs, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums,and raisins). I feel that the enzymes in fruit will aid in digestion. I never have a set intake of fruit, but I generally gear this to the energy needs of that particular day. If I need more energy, more fruit; less energy, less fruit.

It should be mentioned at this time that a papaya enzyme drink once or twice daily (small amounts) can be taken as an aid to digestion. During the last month these small meals become very important. One can sometimes find himself consuming huge quantities of eggs and meat. This is where the calories become important.

If one follows the above named diet up to the day of the contest, he won't have to count carbohydrates. But he should be conscious of calories. A good rule of thumb is 15 calories per pound of bodyweight. Therefore, a 200 pound man should not ingest more than 3,000 calories per day. One bodybuilder I know smoothed out during his last month simply because believed the old adage, "just watch your carbs and eat all the meat you want." Carbs are important, but counting calories is just as important in the last month. Pick up a carbohydrate/calorie counter at any bookstore to see food values.

One last point concerning nutrition which is of special note to the natural bodybuilder. Since you want maximum muscle size without the use of steroids, use the maximum, heaviest weights possible to maintain size and rely on nutrition and supplementation to greatly enhance your muscularity.

Stage 4 - Supplementation

Natural bodybuilders should train with the heaviest weights possible and let previously mentioned factors influence their muscularity. Let's analyze exactly what supplements are needed for maximum muscularity. Let's analyze exactly what supplements are needed for maximum muscularity.

Certainly, during the last three months protein intake is important. After my layoff, I switch to a liquid predigested protein (again, a new stimulus). I usually alternate the liquid protein with a milk/egg protein and water for my five protein meals taken throughout the day. 

During the last month I totally eliminate all liquid protein and use the milk/egg drink with water exclusively. For a treat, I'll often chew on protein tablets during the day. I usually receive about 150-175 grams of protein from these drinks daily.

Through the day, energy is a problem and 10-12 dessicated liver tablets are taken four times daily. A multivitamin is taken daily with breakfast. The following supplements are also consumed in these dosages four times daily:
Energol liquid - 2 Tbs. (energy)
Ginseng - 1 capsule. (energy)
Kelp - 8 tablets (increase metabolism)
Lecithin - 4 capsules (fat emulsifier)
Vitamin E - 400 units (energy)
Super B Complex - one tablet (growth)
Pituitary adrenal gland - one tablet (anabolism)
B-15 - 50 mg. (oxygen-carbondioxide exchange)
Vitamin C - 500 mg. (recuperation)

I try to consume these supplements along with one of my small meals or protein drinks which I find to be easier on the digestive system.

I would like to particularly emphasize the importance of pituitary adrenal and B-15 for the natural bodybuilder. The P-A gland is a natural anabolic-growth stimulator to the endocrine glands which increase muscle anabolism (size) without any know side effects. B-15 (pangamic acid) increases 02-c02 efficiency in the blood producing improved endurance. It promotes protein metabolism and lipid metabolism. I feel that these two substance are of the utmost importance to the natural bodybuilder who does not rely on steroids, amphetamines, or other forms of ergogenics for increased muscle size.

Stage 5 - Training

As stressed in Stage 1, we must constantly evaluate our physique's weaker and stronger points and develop a training routine which will satisfy our needs. A strong point of mine is ribcage development while a weaker area is abdominal development. My routine will stress abdominal work and include little ribcage work.

Three months before a contest it is a good idea to do an intermediate routine. This consists of six days per week training while completing an entire body cycle with three days (all large muscle groups are worked at least twice per week). The routine is geared to maintain if not increase size (one mass-building exercise) and to increase both shape and definition (a superset of two shape building exercises). I will now outline the intermediate routine I followed prior to the 1978 Natural Mr. World contest


Bench press, 6 sets of 3-6 reps.
Incline dumbbell press, 5x8 supersetted with
Incline dumbbell flies, 5.8.

Wide grip chin, 5x8 supersetted with
Upright rowing, 5x8.
Back buster, 5x10 supersetted with
Wide grip pulldown, 5x12.

Dumbbell side laterals, 5x6-8 supersetted with
Rear cable laterals, 5x8.
Seated press behind neck, 5x10 supersetted with
Upright cable row, 5x10.

Thigh Specialization
Magic Circle squat, 4x20.
** See note below on injuries.


Standing preacher EZ curl, 6x4-6.
Incline dumbbell curl, 5x10 supersetted with
Standing barbell curl, 5x12.

Pressdown, 6x4-6
Lying cable extension, 5x10 supersetted with
One arm dumbbell extension, 5x10.

Tri-set -
Palms down wrist curl, 4x10
Palms up wrist curl, 4x10
Wrist roller, 4x1.

Standing raise, 5x15-20.
One leg standing raise, 5x12-15.

Giant set - 
Roman chair, 4x30-35
Cable crunch, 4x20
Lying crunch, 4x25
Intercostal tense, 4x10.


Magic circle squat, 6x6.
Hack squat, 5x10, supersetted with
Leg extension, 5x10-12.
Wide grip barbell pullover, 5x10.

Thigh biceps/Lower back
Good morning, 6x8-10, supersetted with
Hyperextension, 6x10-12.

Leg press toe raise, 6x20, supersetted with
Seated calf raise, 6x20.

Giant set -
Incline situp with 20 pounds, 4x20
Incline situp with 10 pounds, 4x15,
Incline situp with no extra weight, 4x12
Roman chair situp, 4x20.

Notice the low number of reps in the mass exercise and the higher reps in the two shaping exercises. Since I have a problem with upper back and shoulder muscularity, I specialized on my back and shoulder training to include supersets alone.

** Note: Injuries can be a determining factor in your selection of exercises. In December of 1977 I severely injured my acromio-clavicular joint in the shoulder and was unable to squat with a bar properly. Luckily I was able to use the Magic Circle for squatting, which places no stress at all on the shoulder joint and which allowed me greater confidence and thigh development in my training. If an injury prevents you from performing an exercise, don't lay off from working the bodypart completely. Try other exercises which will stimulate muscle growth without aggravating the injury.

I would suggest following this intermediate routine up to three weeks before a peak. At this time, a PHA (peripheral heart action) routine should be followed for 20 straight days. The entire body should be worked in a two-day cycle and the reps will increase to about 12. The basis of PHA training is to perform 4-5 exercises in a cycle with no rest between exercises. After each cycle is completed a rest period is allowed of 30-45 seconds and then right back to the next cycle until all 4-5 sets of the cycle are completed. Then, the second cycle is completed for 4-5 sets, etc.

PHA training increases heart rate, breathing rate, muscle pumping, perspiration, muscle tonus and greater 02-C02 exchange on a cellular level. It allows you to use heavy weights (maintain size) while completing a large number of sets in a short period of time (enhancing muscularity). PHA is a new stimulus to your body's growth and is quite useful to the bodybuilder during his final weeks of preparation.


Day1 -

Cycle 1

1) Bench press, 10-12 reps
2) Seated cable row, 10 reps
3) Pec deck, 10 reps
4) Press behind neck, 10 reps.

Cycle 2

1) Upright row, 10 reps
2) Side lateral, 10 reps
3) Wide grip chin, 10 reps
4) Rear lateral, 10 reps.

Cycle 3

1) Wide grip pulldown, 10 reps
2) Cable fly, 10-12 reps
3) Back buster, 12 reps
4) Standing stiff arm pulldown, 10 reps.

Cycle 4

1) Repetition squat, 15 reps
2) Hack squat, 10 reps
3) Incline situp, 40 reps
4) Side bend, 15 reps
5) Seated calf raise, 15 reps.

Day 2 -

Cycle 1

1) Cadillac EZ curl, 12 reps
2) Incline DB extension, 10 reps
3) Standing DB Curl, 10 reps
4) V-bar lat machine extension, 12 reps.

Cycle 2

1) One arm concentration curl, 10 reps
2) Seated EZ bar extension, 10 reps
3) Seated barbell curl, 12 reps
4) DB kickback, 12 reps.

Cycle 3

1) EZ bar reverse curl, 12 reps
2) Peak curl on lat machine, 10 reps
3) Wrist roller, 1 rep
4) Leg curl, 10 reps
5) Good morning, 10 reps.

Cycle 4

1) Standing calf raise, 15 reps
2) Seated calf raise, 15 reps.

Cycle 5
1) Roman chair low, 25 reps
2) Roman chair high, 12 reps
3) Ab roller wheel, 15 reps
4) Intercostal tense, 12 reps.

Good Luck!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Not Just Pumping Iron, Part Seventeen

The book begins with a description of what flow is and is not. Flow is defined as a person's total absorption into an activity. While it is always a peak, satisfying experience, it is not necessarily associated with peak performance on every occasion.

Most of the book delves deeply into the key factors leading up to and accompanying the flow experience. The authors also recommend certain actions on the part of the athlete or coach to optimize the conditions in training and performance that allow flow to occur. The book is full of vivid examples, captivating quotes, and revealing research findings that enhance the authors' clear and insightful text.

For more than a decade, New York University President John Sexton has used baseball to illustrate the elements of a spiritual life in a wildly popular course at NYU. Using some of the great works of baseball fiction as well as the actual game's fantastic moments, its legendary characters, and its routine rituals—from the long-sought triumph of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, to the heroic achievements of players like the saintly Christy Mathewson and the sinful Ty Cobb, to the loving intimacy of a game of catch between a father and son—Sexton teaches that through the game we can touch the spiritual dimension of life.

Baseball as a Road to God is about the elements of our lives that lie beyond what can be captured in words alone—ineffable truths that we know by experience rather than by logic or analysis. Applying to the secular activity of baseball a form of inquiry usually reserved for the study of religion, Sexton reveals a surprising amount of common ground between the game and what we all recognize as religion: sacred places and time, faith and doubt, blessings and curses, and more.

or Pdf:

For thousands of years, men have believed that breath is the essential link between body and mind, energizing a subtle body which connects the physical and mental aspects of our being. In this book, the author and two noted American physicians explore the science of breath as one of the keys to both physical health and the attainment of higher states of consciousness. Basic yogic breathing techniques are explained so that one can immediately begin.


The Internal Dialogue

In this second part of the book I want to offer some of my insight and understanding as to how psychological knowledge and techniques can be used to enhance the lifting endeavor. These techniques, when understood and appropriately applied, can improve one's lifting performances considerably. Through my personal experimentation and exploration of the techniques which I am offering, I know how effective they can be. At the outset, however, I want to emphasize that there are no shortcuts and there is no magic. There is no substitute for persistent, proper training. Given that one is training appropriately, then these techniques can add to the effects of that training.

The first topic for us to explore is the internal dialogue. Most of the time we are talking to ourselves. While we are awake we are constantly carrying on conversations in our heads. This is the left-brain activity of words. Given the volume of this private dialogue, its effects can be profound. Much of the dialogue is chatter, the utterances of inane verbiage. At the very least this pointless chatter is background noise which uses energy and detracts from incoming sensory signals. So, this chatter cuts down on one's efficiency in living. The situation is analogous to listening to a concert while the people sitting next to you are talking. In the case of the internal chatter, however, the voices are inside one's head.

The quiet mind can be likened to a calm pool of water. With a placid smooth surface, even the smallest object which falls upon the water will make a ripple. Any impingement on that calm surface will be noted. This is very different from a pool of disturbed water. Even large objects can smash into the turbulent waters without being noticed for the water's own roiling. And, so it is, with the mind. A calm mind will notice the smallest of sensory signals. But a mind turbulent with senseless chatter will miss all but those signals which are so strong as to stand out even above the mind's own chatter.

The various meditative techniques have as their purpose the quieting of the internal chatter. They are methods which aid one in the practice of being quiet. Since I am the one who speaks inside my head, I c an choose not to speak. As simple as this is, it is not easy for most of us. So, there are many techniques of meditation, some ancient, some modern, which make that simple task somewhat easier to practice. In time, one can develop the skill of quieting.

To be able to come to a state of mental quiet, at will, is a marvelous skill. Its value is immeasurable. For the lifter it has some specific benefits. When tired and in need of sleep, the ability to quiet oneself quickly allows one to go to sleep without delay. It also makes it possible to calm down when overly excited and to get a refreshing break from work and concerns, in a matter of a few minutes. This skill will also have applications in the use of imagery, which I will discuss later, and in producing the concentration and the "lifting trance" to be presented further on.

[Note: For some lifters, the idea of meditation may seem a bit flaky, somehow leaning toward the 'why bother with this crap, just lift it' side. It's not a bad idea to use our reasoning powers before diving headlong into a short and sweet conclusion about any concept.

Even if by reasoning we cannot fully settle an issue, we may nevertheless by reasoning come to understand the issue much better. The various answers may become clearer, we may be able to construct a kind of "conceptual map" of the intellectual territory, we may unmask certain tempting errors, and we may be able to see that one or more answers really do not stand up well under scrutiny. In short, we can make progress in our thinking even when we cannot settle an issue.
 -- from "Letters to Doubting Thomas: A Case for the Existence of God" by C. Stephen Layman, 2007]

Of the myriad ways of meditating which exist, I have chosen two which I see as especially suited to those in the world of iron. The first is a simple mantra meditation, the second is a form of muscular relaxation.

The mantra meditation which I am suggesting is done as follows. Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. This is to be done, of course, in a quiet, private place. Breathe comfortably and naturally, allowing each inhalation to move into the lower abdomen. Allow a slight pause after each inhalation and after each exhalation. (If this way of breathing is difficult or does not seem natural, just do it as best you can, for now. I will discuss breathing, itself, in great detail in chapter nine.) As you inhale, say inside yourself, "Re-." And, as you exhale, say inside yourself, "-lax." So, with each breath cycle (inhale-pause-exhale-pause) you will say the word "relax," internally. Continue doing this, without hurry, until you feel ready to stop. With practice, you probably will find that this meditation becomes more and more effective in quieting your mental chatter.

Because of our holistic nature, we manifest our being on the mental and the physical planes simultaneously. Mental chatter and muscles held in tension are most often found together. So, as we quiet a tense (chattering) mind, we are quieting a tense body, and vice versa. We can choose to use a technique which focuses primarily on the mental chatter or on one which focuses primarily on the postural tension. Many mantras have traditionally been used, some exotic, some more common. For our purposes I chose "Re-lax" for its simplicity and for its pointing to the connection between quieting of mind and relaxing of body.

A meditation focusing directly on the musculature, and
questioning the the validity of our internal critic.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Complete Contest Preparation, Part One - Bob Gallucci

*Note: Here is the first of a two-part an article from Peary Rader's IronMan magazine. The author, Bob Gallucci, also has a book out on his life in bodybuilding, The Last Drug Free Bodybuilder. An excellent read for the weight man.


PHASE I: 6 Months - 3 Months Preparation

All present and future physique competitors (or men who want to achieve peak condition) must set goals, make decisions, commitments, plan their weight training, nutrition and cardiovascular conditioning methods, as well as constantly evaluate the progress they hope to attain. This article deals with truths and suggestions which I have found to be helpful in my eleven years of bodybuilding competition. I believe it to be a complete program which the novice as well as the advanced man may learn from, or remember some points he may have forgotten.

Stage One - Planning

Each physique man should decide when he wants to reach a peak, what dates are important to him, and the length of time between the dates of these peaks. These factors are often overlooked by the novice who believes he can reach peak condition any number of times in one year. The physical strain of doing this is not to be recommended. As one becomes an intermediate, he should plan carefully when to begin training for muscularity and peak condition, and once you determine the date you wish to reach top condition, you should consider:

Stage Two - Cardiovascular Conditioning

Cardiovascular training is very important to all lifters, all the more so when they are older. As age comes up alongside us, our metabolic rate decreases and fatty tissue (adipose) forms, surrounding muscle fibers. Teenage lifters usually have a problem gaining weight because their metabolic rate and lifestyles are so fast. Gradually we learn that in order to reach a degree of muscularity and conditioning which we attained in our youth, we can no longer rely on high repetition training and diet alone. Cardio training is the answer.

Cardiovascular refers to the heart and lungs. Any form of exercise which causes the heart and lungs to work at a high rate for a long period of time is referred to as cardiovascular. I usually recommend that lifters try to do some form of cardio conditioning throughout the year. This will enhance the circulatory processes and capillary action which are both needed for muscle growth. This conditioning can be done in the form of bicycling for 5 miles, jog-run for 1.5 miles, handball, swimming, badminton, calisthenics, etc. Most lifters I've known seem to prefer the more stoic approach and run by themselves 2 or 3 mornings per week.

With four months to go before a contest the lifter should be running at least three times weekly. Within the next three weeks, this should be increased to four times weekly. With two months to go, 4-5 times per week is sufficient. During the last month, most men run once daily and sometimes twice per day. I believe that 1 to 1.5 miles is sufficient to run for the type of conditioning we are trying to achieve.

Stage Three - Diet & Nutrition

Nutrition is an area which is totally dependent upon the desire and motivation of the individual. A beginner can eat like a champion, while some advanced lifters eat like junk-food junkies. As a teenager, I drank 1.5 gallons of mild daily -- that's right, gallons! I was constantly eating. My motto then was, "If it doesn't move, eat it!" My sacrifice diet before a contest was to give up milk and cookies for two weeks prior to an event.

When I became 21 years old, I no longer could achieve my former peak condition without a strict diet for a much longer period of time. It has taken me years to formulate the following nutritional pattern:

A) Six Months before the event, I would carefully evaluate what condition I was in. How much fatty tissue did I have? How much definition would I need to achieve maximum muscularity? 

B) At Six Months before a contest, I will decrease (not cut out entirely) my intake of bread and I will switch from regular milk to non-fat powdered milk, mixing twice the recommended water ratio to one part of powder. I use this beverage for mixing my protein powder which I take about three or four times daily. I find this watered milk with added protein is better for one month and it is the beginning of losing notable subcutaneous fat. Theoretically, once fat cells have been created they are never completely broken down. Therefore some people feel that you should carry as little fatty tissue on the body as possible at all times. I agree with the theory, but not the application. Some extra fatty tissue is  usually carried on the body during periods of gaining more muscle as a result of extra food intake for increased energy. With some individuals this extra bulk is necessary and careful consideration must be taken to obtain maximum muscularity.

C) At Five Months I limit the watered milk and protein drink and use orange juice in the morning and water throughout the day. One slice of bread is taken in the morning and two slices are used for a sandwich at lunch. More emphasis is given to fruits, cottage cheese, eggs, lean meat, fish, and my favorite, tuna. I usually take one meal per week and eat or drink anything I want. This is simply to keep my sanity. There are some foods which I consider taboo and simply never indulge in: soda, french fries, donuts, confectioneries, white bread, and white sugar products. Yearly I try to limit my macaroni, sauces, ice cream, breads, and dairy products as much as possible.

D) At Four Months I evaluate my physique and see what two months of dieting and controlling the intake of specific foods has done to my muscularity. It is then that I decide whether or not to drop that one large cheat meal per week, or to limit my intake of  specific fat-cholesterol foods (sausage, bacon). Although my energy level is still high I am  beginning to rely heavily on supplements.

Stage Four - Supplementation

Beginning lifters often have a misconception that supplements should be taken in place of a meal. About six years ago, a 19-year old bodybuilder overemphasized my suggestions concerning supplements and consumed nothing else for eight straight days. He lost 15 pounds and appeared to have lost a great deal of muscle along with fatty tissue. Supplements should be used to supplement the daily diet in order to satisfy the bodybuilder's needs.

During bulking periods, I rely very heavily on dessicated liver, wheat germ oil, B-Complex, multi-vitamin/mineral, and a good protein powder (3 times daily with milk).

At the six month period, I will continue using these supplements. At five months I start diluting the milk in  my protein drinks (described earlier), and I begin taking lecithin capsules. At the four month period I increase my intake of lecithin and add ginseng, B-15, and vitamins D and E. We are now ready to look into our final stage of Phase I.

Stage Five - Training

I have tried many different systems of training but I find that using two exercises per bodypart for five or six sets per exercise done twice weekly I get my best gains in overall size and strength. I believe that each individual bodybuilder should take a close look at his bone structure and physique. If you are capable of handling heavier training poundages, then do so. Too often we get carried away with the idea of 20-plus sets per bodypart and tri-sets etc. These methods do serve a distinct function but I don't believe they are always necessary to achieve what it is we desire.

I believe in theory of conventional barbell training to obtaining maximum muscle strength and size. I have great respect for men like Reg Park (after whom I pattern my physique) because of his honesty, strength, perseverance, physique and size which he developed without drugs. Followed with the proper consistency and intensity, conventional training can result in the creation of a phenomenal physique.

I am including an actual routine which I used for up to three months before a competition peak. This type of training will make you larger, stronger, improve your look it will create a look of power. However, it will only be effective if the following factors are satisfied:

A) Warmup - 2 sets of 15 reps with about 50% of the maximum weight I will use for that particular exercise. These two sets are warmups to be carried out through a full range of motion.

B) Intensity - Give everything you have on that day to each set. Use the heaviest weight you can while maintaining proper form. On days when I am feeling extra energy I sometimes keep my sets going until the bar cannot possibly be moved another inch.

Keep a record of each exercise daily. In a training log, record the heaviest weight you will use and  the number of reps you performed. You can use this as a marker in future, as a record to be beaten.

When I walk into the gym I am calm and talk easily with others. Once I start my workout I am a completely different person. I am totally concerned with one and only one objective: raising the bar one more time. To achieve results you must focus intensely.


Close grip bench press, 6 x 4-6 reps.
Incline EZ bar extension, 6 x 6-8.

Seated alternate dumbbell curl, 6 x 4-6.
Preacher EZ bar curl, 6 x 6.

EZ bar reverse curl, 5 x 6-8.
Palms up wrist curl, 5 x 10.

Standing raise, 5 x 12.
Seated raise, 5 x 20.


Magic Circle squat, 6 x  4-6.
Jefferson lift, 6 x 6-8.

Hamstrings/Low Back:
Stiff-legged deadlift, 6 x 6-8.
Leg curl, 6 x 6-8.

Leg press toe raise, 6 x 20.

Roman chair situp, 4 x 25.
Hanging leg raise, 4 x 25.
Ab roller wheel, 4 x 15.


Dips, 6 x 4-6.
Dumbbell bench press, 6 x 8.

One arm dumbbell row, 6 x 6.
Pulldown or Chinup, 6 x 8.

Shoulders and Traps:
Standing press behind neck, 6 x 4-6.
Upright row, 6 x 6.

Incline situp, 4 x 50.
Incline leg raise, 4 x 25.




Three Month Power/Bodybuilding Layout - Ed Higgens

Ed Higgins (1985)

IT WILL BE HARD WORK, MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT THAT. It may at times feel to hard to go on; but if you DO go on, and if you follow the instructions properly, you will most definitely gain more strength in three months time. I'd say that was worth some work, wouldn't you?

Our approach will be direct and simple. We are after STRENGTH mainly, and that's how the program will be arranged - to achieve it. This is not a general physique-building routine, though it's more likely that after the three months you'll look better than if you had followed one.


Training Days: 
Four days a week, e.g., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.

Monday & Thursday - Chest/Back (a.k.a. horizontal push/pull)
Tuesday & Friday - Shoulders/Legs (a.k.a. vertical push/squat)

Choose your poundages by that day's "feel" rather than by scheduling specific weight increments. But follow the recommended guidelines when selecting heavy, medium, or light intensity poundages.


Warm up. Get your body moving and fluid to the point of a light sweat.

Bench Press - 
1 x 10, light warm up.
1 x 10, add weight but most definitely don't fight for the last rep.
3 sets of 5 reps, heavy, but manageable.
1 set of 3 reps, heavy, near your max triple for that day.
1 set of 1-2 reps, heavy, very close to your max single for that day.

Pullover and Bench Press Combination - 
2 x 8-10, light.

Semi-Stiff-legged Deadlift - 
2 x 10, light.
1 x 8, heavy.
2 x 5 reps, heavy, very close to your best 5 rep set for that day.

Barbell Row - 
2 x 12, light.
2 x 8, medium.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row - 
2 x 8 reps each arm, heaviest possible weight, make sure you have to cheat on the last 2 or 3 reps of each set.

Hanging Knee Ups, etc.



Standing Press Behind Neck - 
2 sets of 8 reps - light.
2 x 5, medium-heavy.

Seated 2-Dumbbell Press - 
2 x 6, as heavy as possible in good form.

Squat - 
1 x 15, very light.
1 x 10, light.
1 x 8, light.
3 sets of 5 reps, heavy.
1 set of 2-3 reps, heavy, grind out the last rep.

Calf Raise - 
3 sets.

Some kind of oblique work such as side bends.


Training Days:
Three days a week, e.g., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Train whole body three times a week.

The idea is to work very close to an absolute limit in effort output and exertion for each workout, and try to increase your exercise poundages. If possible, when your energy level permits it, exceed the reps scheduled in each set. 



Standing Press Behind Neck - 
1 x 6, light.
1 x 5, medium-heavy warmup.
3 sets of 5 reps, maximum weight, take about 5 minute rests between sets.
1 set of 2-3 reps, maximum weights, use your willpower and think of this as a lifting feat and not an exercise.

Barbell Curl - 
2 x 6, medium-heavy warmups.
2 x 5, absolute maximum exertion, fight not to cheat, but make it necessary to practically kill yourself to keep good form in the last two reps of each set. You can work extremely hard on a limited number of curl sets and never have to worry about wearing yourself down.

Bench Press - 
1 x 8, warmup.
3 x 5, very heavy.
1 x 3-4, again, think of this set as an upper body strength feat and not a pec exercise.

Barbell Row - 
2 x 8, medium heavy.
2 x 6, heavy but strict, fight for more reps in good form.
2 x 5, pile on the plates and cheat out the last couple of reps of each set.

Squat -
2 sets of 10 reps, light then medium warmup.
2 x 6, medium heavy.
3 x 4-5 reps, heavy! You should fight for these.

Some form of gut work.


Training Days:
Three days a week, e.g., Monday/Wednesday/Friday.

Train whole body Monday and Friday; leg workout only on Wednesday.

Wednesday's workout should be the hardest. The whole body should be trained hard on Monday and Friday, but a true effort to 'wipe oneself out' must be made on the Wednesday leg routine. There are not many exercises in this program (which is essentially a leg and back specialization routine), but hard work is the key to its successful completion.


Warmup, include hyper-extensions in this.

Standing Press Behind Neck - 
1 set of 5 reps, light.
1 x 5 medium.
2 x 5, very heavy, using some leg push on the last rep or two of each set and a few breaths between reps.

Lateral Raise - 
3 x 8, medium.

Bench Press - 
1 x 6, light.
1 x 6, medium.
2 x 5, very heavy, with a bit of cheat on the last rep or two of each set and a pause between reps in the lockout position.

Barbell Row - 
1 x 8, light.
1 x 8, medium.
2 x 5, very heavy, from the floor each rep, with some cheating on the hard ones, and high-pull implied.

Squat - 
1 x 18-20, very, very light.
1 x 12, light.

Semi-Stiff-legged Deadlift - 
3 x 12, with a light to medium weight.

Gut Work.


Warmup with prone hyperextensions for 2 sets of 30 reps.

StepUps - 
Holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand, do step-ups on a solid box or bench, 30 with the left leg then 30 with the right.

Squat -
1 x 15, light.
1 x 10, light.
1 x 8, heavy.
2 x 5, heavy.
2 x 3-4, maximum; should require a long rest between the two sets.

Repeat the StepUps as described above.

Do some light stretching and massage of the legs.

Some easy gut work.

To gain strength you must be willing to keep piling on all the plates you can, never being satisfied with your current level of strength. We get stronger only by lifting heavier loads. There is no other way. Get plenty of rest, eat plenty of food and remember . . . all your body knows is overload and adaptation. It doesn't give one damn about what you read or believe to know. 

Best of Luck!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Not Just Pumping Iron - Part Sixteen


I wonder if any other sports have been as misunderstood and as criticizes as the weight sports. Perhaps so. Maybe it is because of my involvement in the iron world that I have been more attuned to hearing these criticisms. And, if I had spent as much time involved with some other sports, maybe I would then have had my interest in them challenged, too. What I do know is that I have heard a great deal of criticism about the iron game and have been personally criticized for my involvement in it. I don't recall having had people challenge my interest in judo, karate, or aikido, when I was participating in each of those martial arts. And, I don't get challenged for my ongoing practice of Hatha Yoga or t'ai ch'i chuan, although these are not considered sports.

I believe that the bulk of the criticism of lifting is based on misunderstanding, often coupled with a feeling of personal threat. With respect to the phenomena of lifting, ignorance abounds. Most people are not well-informed as to the biomechanics, exercise physiology, and nutritional aspects of lifting weights. let alone the psychological aspects. And even the events themselves, posing, Olympic lifting and powerlifting, are often not well understood outside the circle of participants and avid fans. This continues to be the case today, even though more and more people have been exposed to lifting over the past year. But ignorance, by itself does not explain the strong negative reactions which some people show. This, I see, as evidence that something about lifting is experienced as a personal threat. In addition to these sources of criticism, there are also some legitimate criticisms which can be levied against the lifting activities and the lifters. I want to address each of these three areas, one by one.

First, let us look at the legitimate criticisms. Any lifter, no matter how much he loves the world of iron, would surely admit, if honest, that it contains a lot of "hype." In fact, I don't know of any sport which has as much hype as lifting weights. True, professional wrestling has more, but long ago it went beyond any reasonable limit for being considered a sport and into the realm of staged entertainment.

In the weight world the hype comes from the promoters, the equipment manufacturers, the distributors of nutritional supplements and ergogenic aids, and the professional instructors. Promoters, in their enthusiasm to sell tickets sometimes advertise their contests in ways that are gaudy and overstated. This is more often the case with physique shows where there is a potential for large crowds. The titles awarded are sometimes ridiculously grandiose, with the trophies reflecting this grandiosity. there is something absurd about seeing a man standing on stage receiving a trophy which is far taller than he is. I have seen entry forms for physique shows where considerable space is devoted to descriptions of how big and outstandingly "beautiful" the trophies are! The overdone quality of some contests -- grandiose titles with trophies to match -- certainly cheapens the sport. Paradoxically, many promoters put on poorly run shows. I have witnessed regional and even national physique contests where lighting was poor, public address systems have cut out, the master of ceremonies was not well spoken (using poor grammar, not speaking clearly, getting cue cards out of order), and, in one case, a contestant was left standing on stage, befuddled, as the sound system poured out strains of someone else's posing tape! These sorts of things occur with much too great regularity. These two phenomena -- contest hype and shabbily run contests -- certainly do not invite the respect and serious interest of the public. Promoters are also aspparently sometimes lax in setting the ground rules and explaining the procedures to contestants. Several times, for instance, I have seen contestants awkwardly wander about the stage following their posing routine, not knowing where to exit. Worse, still, I have witnessed rude and unsportsmanlike behavior on stage. This occurred in a major contest where I had taken a women friend to introduce her to the world of bodybuilding and physique contests. During a "posedown," with six or eight men on stage, two of the men began elbowing each other and trying to push the other out of the way. The hip and shoulder pushing and deliberate stepping in front of each other became the most prominent activity on stage and continued for several minutes while neither of the two men did any posing. This was, of course, the strongest image my friend took away with her. Adequate briefing of contestants would forbid such displays.

Equipment manufacturers sometimes make claims which cannot be backed up with actual results. When a manufacturer makes a public claim that certain growth in size or strength will result from using its apparatus, and people do not find their progress to match the claims, they are, understandably, disappointed. Often the claim is an implied one, one which meets the letter of the law in terms of fair advertising, but not the spirit of the law. Just consider for a moment your own reaction if in reading a lifting magazine you come across three or four advertisements each claiming that its equipment will outperform all others, producing unrivaled results. Credibility, of course, slips. Certainly, many equipment manufacturers are honest and tasteful in their advertising. There are those, however, who propagate pure hype.

Even more blatant in overstating the value of their products are some of the distributors of nutritional supplements and ergogenic aids. Some of these products are not by the slightest backed by scientific evidence of their effectiveness. Unashamedly, some distributors go right ahead claiming that their product is an incredibly effective muscle builder. Such activities are not limited to the fly-by-night purveyors of snake oil, but are often engaged in by the well-established companies. A few months ago I received in the mail a letter which indicated that one of the major companies was having its wrists slapped by the Federal Trade Commission. The letter started out as follows:

Notice to Customers Who May Have Bought ______ Or ______. _____, Inc. has recently entered into a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding its advertising for "_____" and "_____." _____ has entered into this agreement for settlement purposes only and does not admit that it has violated the law.

This agreement contains four main provisions:

1) _____'s advertising will not claim that the _____ or _____ will cause greater and faster muscular development;

2) _____ will support all advertising claims for its food supplements with competent and reliable scientific proof.

Someone in the company became overly zealous and went the way of the snake oil salesman. My guess is that this caused a great deal of embarrassment, as well as financial loss through purchase refunds, to the members and shareholders of this large corporation. This sort of thing, again, can decrease the credibility of the distributors and reflect badly on the world of iron.

Professional instructors, too, have added their share of hype. Some have place advertisements in magazines which contain explicit implied promises of results which anyone who is knowledgeable of lifting would readily recognize as overstatements, at best. The hype is not limited to the less honest professionals of the mail order training courses. It is rampant among many of the so-called "instructors" in the gym chains. I have known some very good instructors who worked in the clubs, but for the most part, my experience has been that the majority of health club instructors didn't know a French Curl from a Zottman Curl, let alone the purpose or history or each. Too often, these instructors are not well trained. So, they give honest seekers of strength and muscle misinformation, leading to poor if not risky training and less than optimal gains. If they also are expected to sell gym memberships, they may be prone to making up stories in order to close sales.

Several years ago I took a friend with me to the gym where I was then training. It was a moderately well equipped club, a unit of a major national chain. Purportedly for safety's sake, it was required that all visitors to the club had to be taken through their workouts with a one-on-one instructor. So, I went about my workout, naively leaving my friend in the hands of the instructor. Perhaps a half-hour later, I turned to see my friend passed out on the floor, with the instructor nervously scurrying about for help. My friend's introduction to weight training had consisted of multiple super-sets of squats on a Smith machine and inclined dumbbell presses. Needless to say, he never asked to go back to the gym with me.

The point that I am making is that there are a number of legitimate criticisms which can be made against various aspects of the iron game. Certain promoters, equipment manufacturers, distributors of supplements, and instructors, themselves, engage in practices which put the weight sport in a bad light. And, although similar circumstances can justifiably be made against other sports, as well, I believe that there are more legitimate criticisms of the iron game than is true for most other sports.

What is more interesting to me, however, are the illegitimate criticisms. The legitimate criticisms seem rather obvious. The criticisms which stem from misunderstandings of what lifting is about, however, have some subtleties. I want to explore several of these criticisms and suggest some of the misunderstandings which give rise to them.

Since weight lifting, both Olympic style weightlifting and powerlifting, have been minor sports, they are not as well understood by the public as are the major sports. This is simply a result of their limited exposure. The exposure of these lifting sports which is given is often not very representative. If, for instance, a network sports program gives a few minutes to an Olympic weightlifting event, the choice is usually to show the super-heavyweights. Much more time has been given to the heavier than the lighter weight classes. The result is that many people with this limited exposure believe that competent weightlifters are big, heavy, and rotund. They infer, then, that the lifters are somewhat slow and ponderous. The negative attitude which I have heard expressed is, "Who would want to look like that?? The inference is that if one lifts weights, they will come to look like that. It is amazing how ingrained that equation is -- lifting weights equals big, bulky, rotund. I remember a conversation shortly after winning the state Olympic lifting title in the 123 pound class. The boss at my summer job found me writing a training schedule during a lunch break and asked me what it was. When I told him what I was doing and that I lifted weights, he asked, curiously, "Why don't you have big muscles?" To him, a weightlifter was a huge man with very large, bulging muscles. The probability is that the only picture of a weightlifter he had ever seen was of someone along the lines of Paul Anderson.

In the mass media coverage of bodybuilding, there is further promotion of the image that lifters are huge. This comes from the fact that most coverage is of the biggest events, in which world class bodybuilders are the ones seen.

So, because of limited exposure to the weight sports, the general public has the biased view that men who lift weights are huge. They are either developed to the point that the uninitiated viewer would likely see as grotesque, or they are the rotund shape of most super-heavies. The media want to show the most spectacular lifters, and by so doing, create the impression that this is what all lifters must look like. If the person doesn't relate to those two kinds of bodies, then he may well stay away from the weights, and criticize the weight sports as making people look ugly. The obvious fallacy is that these bodies are not the automatic and uniform result of lifting weights. First of all, most of these bodies have been developed over many years of highly specialized, highly intense and dedicated training. Second, there is a certain genetic make-up which is required for the attainment of the muscular size and shape of the world class bodybuilder or the overall size and strength of the world class super-heavyweight weightlifter. Just anyone can not attain that size, strength, and development even if he dearly wants to! It is not generally understood that a genetic potential, plus years of specialized training are both required.

There is another issue, closely related to the one just discussed. There is sometimes a cult-like quality that emerges among groups of lifters. Within the cult there can come to be a shared esthetic, which may be quite different from the more widely held esthetic.

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