Saturday, September 28, 2013

Effective Isometrics With The Power Rack - Leslie Carson

Photos 1 - 8
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1) The low position of the isometric deadlift using the unweighted bar without movement. The bar is pinned to move neither up nor down. The lifter is expected to lift "his limit" upward against the pins for 10 seconds. This article skips a description of this method because it is impossible to know how much the athlete is actually exerting himself. This article instead recommends the limited movement method with maximum weights.

2) The lower position in the isometric deadlift with about four inches of movement from the lower pins to the top or knee-level pins with maximum weight that can be held against the upper pins for 10 seconds. Read the text for a clear explanation.

3) The isometric pull from the low position. See text for details.

4) The isometric pull from the middle position. Refer to text.

5) The isometric pull from the high position to develop strength for the two-hands snatch.

6) The middle position for the two-hands curl. The small platform for the feet is to adjust the height if the holes of the power rack are not the exact height needed. The regular curl is being illustrated but we suggest the reverse curl for reasons given in the text.

7) The middle position for the bench press. Note that a lower barbell handle is placed on the rack to support an abdominal board to form the bench.

8) The lower of two positions for the floor press.

Photos 9 - 16

9) The middle position for the isometric incline press.

10) The isometric calf exercise. Full details in text.

11) Pushing up from the low position in the squat when using the split style with the weight on chest.

12) Pushing up from the low position in the squat when using the split style with the weight on back.

13) Pushing up from the halfway position in the squat with the weight on back.

14) Pushing up from the low squat position in the arms-overhead snatch position using the split style.

15) The low isometric press position.

16) The middle isometric press position with limited maximum weighted movement. Read the text for the third position.

Effective Isometrics with the Power Rack
Leslie W. Carson 

Take our word for it, do not try to get the benefit of this article from reading the picture captions alone. The text, photos, and photo captions are all essential to a proper understanding of the whole.
This article is one of the power rack series which started with the July 1968 issue of Iron Man. The series would not be complete without an article on isometrics. Isometrics-Isotonics and the power rack are inseparable. They are made for each other.

We all greeted the first news of isometric training when it was publicized a few years ago as the great hoped for "breakthrough" in our quest for more strength. But the publicity died down, owing to other factors. We heard little more about it and many resigned themselves to the feeling that isometric training had been over-advertised. However, it would pay each of us who are seeking strength to take a second look at this conclusion.

Why has isometric training failed to sweep the country by storm as we were led to expect? The answer may be found by studying the parable of the sower and the seed in the Bible. Isometrics was the seed sowed by the sower. Much, very much, of the seed fell on stony ground, some of it 100% stone. The stoney surface here represents those with closed minds. They refused to even give isometrics a trial. Some of the seed fell on shallow soil. It sprouted quickly during the initial enthusiasm and then withered away. Many of these people were self-rated authorities. They roused themselves long enough to go to the gym and master the essentials of the system. But, twenty weeks, the minimum trial period of sticking to the system was too much for them. But, some seed fell on fertile soil and some phenomenal gains resulted.

Many books could be written on the subject of isometrics. Our space here, however, requires that we give the subject the briefest treatment. First of all, isometric training as variously practiced has merged with isotonics. Worst of all, technical terminology has beclouded the subject. Let us skip the cloudy terminology and talk about how to achieve phenomenal gains in strength by using isometric-isotonic exercises in the power rack. For the sake of brevity, and also for strength gains, it might be best to combine the two fields and call the result "metro-tonic." Skipping technicalities, let us accept the fact that metro-tonic exercises include three fundamental types. First there are those without movement, just resistance. Second, there are those with limited movement with maximum resistance. This method is best practiced on the power rack. Each exercise has a starting point on the power rack and a definite stopping point. The distance between the starting and stopping points varies with different individuals and different exercises. The distance usually ranges from one to six inches. A third method has a definite starting point and uses heavy weights but leaves the stopping point largely to the judgement of the lifter. Each of these types of exercises or methods have from one to four movements, for each exercise.

I shall here discuss the system of method that seems to be the most widely used. I feel that it is the best. It is the second method mentioned, the limited movement with maximum weights. We shall further confine our description of this method's application to only five exercises most needed by the Olympic lifter. The techniques and methods described here can be used on a vast array of other exercises as well. The five basic exercises for Olympic lifters we shall describe are the squat, the pull, the press, the curl, and the calf exercise. I recommend three starting points for each of the first four and only one for the calf exercise.

1) The Squat

Place the lower set of pins of the power rack about three inches below the level of your back-and-shoulder bar-rack position when your thighs are parallel with the floor. Place the barbell on the pins and load it with about 50% of your best squat. Pad your neck, get under the bar, and rise to your full height for 4 repetitions. Return the bar to the pins and load it with about 75% of your best squat (you will have to experiment a little to find the correct weight). Get under the bar and do 2 reps to full height. Return the weight to the pins, get from under the bar and place a second set of pins about four inches above those on which the bar rests. Get under the bar, raise the weight and hold it "solidly" against the upper set of pins for 8 seconds. Exert all the push you possess against the upper pins. Authorities differ from 4 to 12 seconds on the holding time.

For the second movement, place the lower pins about three or four inches below the level of the back-shoulder racking position when in the starting position for the half-squat. Load the bar with about 75% of your best full squat and do 3 reps to full height. Now load the bar with about 85% of your best full squat and do 2 reps. Get from under the bar and place a second set of pins about four inches above the lower ones. Get under the bar and hold it "solidly" against the upper pins for 8 seconds.

For the third movement, place the lower pins about three inches below the level of the back-shoulder racking position for the quarter-squat. Load the bar with about 90% of your best full squat and do 3 reps. Get from under the bar and place a second set of pins about four inches above the lower set. Get under the bar and hold it "solidly" against the upper pins for 8 seconds.

You have now finished the squat exercise with its three, three-place movements. Let us take a second look at the exercise. The weights and percentages are for experienced lifters, strictly suggestions for starting poundages. Experiment and determine your individual needs. In any case, it is better to start with weights which are too light and increase the poundages from week to week until you have reached your maximum, rather than to start with weights that are too heavy. Even seasoned lifters have hurt themselves starting with overly heavy weights at first. However, don't forget, you must exert all the push you possess when holding the bar against the upper pins for 8 seconds. Less than your best won't get results. For this reason, a heavily loaded bar is better than pushing against an empty one. You can fool yourself too easily with an empty bar.

If you do not like to rise to your full height when doing the warm-up reps, then place the bar on the lower pins and load it at first with the suggested poundages, and place the upper pins 6 inches above the lower before your first attempt. Get under the bar and lift the weight from the lower pins to the upper pins 5 times, then the 6th time hold it against the upper pins for 8 seconds. The preliminary 5 reps will probably warm you up sufficiently for the 8-second hold on the sixth rep. However, I feel that the method first described is much better because it is a complete movement of the muscles involved. This gives a better warm-up and injury is less likely to result. There are various ways of warming up. Just be sure that the method which you use is effective. Some lifters find it sufficient to warm up with 5 six-inch reps, or 5 full-length reps on the first position of a given exercise, 3 reps on the second position, and 1 preliminary rep for the third position.

Some may criticize the beginning percentages which I have suggested. If the weights are too light, this defect will remedy itself because you will be adding additional plates from week to week until you reach your maximum. After a time a seasoned lifter is expected to use as enough weight to demand all his strength when pushing against the upper pins.

What is the best way to gauge the holding time? One way is to place an electric clock with a sweeping second hand plainly in view. Another is to count one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, and so on. This second counting method can, however, easily become deceptive.

Make up a chart and keep a record of the weights used each week. Try to add some weight each week. This is important. A systematic, progressive plan is necessary to make gains. A record of the plan followed is essential. A guess and by-gosh plan will get you exactly nowhere.

The squat, done as described, is the most difficult of the five exercises presented here. This is because you are forced to start "up" from the low point whereas in the traditional squat you start "down" from the highest position. For this reason, you may become discouraged. You will adapt quite quickly to bottom-starting, so do be patient and keep increasing your starting strength.

2) The Pull

Use the three-position system for the pull and the same general principles used for the squat. The lower pins for the first position should be at knee height, the second position at crotch height, and the  third position about four inches below the arm pits. The warming-up preliminary reps, the percentages of your best pulls, and the placing of the upper pins should follow the same general guidelines mentioned for the squats.

3) The Press

Use  three starting positions and three holding positions and the same general principles described for the squat. The lower starting position should be at the level of the base of the neck when standing erect and the holding position at eye level for the first movement. The starting position for the second movement should be at eye level and the holding position about three inches above the top of the head. The third starting position should be about eight inches below the lock-out position of the hands, and the holding position about three inches below the lock-out point.

4) The Curl

Some men leave out the curl and instead substitute the shrug. I feel that the shrug may be left out because the same set of muscles as a whole are used in the pull exercise. This is especially true if the shrug is performed with the elbows bent. The curl exercise, especially the reverse curl, is valuable in all the Olympic lifts. Too many lifters seem to overlook the value of the pulling power that may be obtained from a strong set of biceps and forearm muscles which are developed by the reverse curl. The reverse curl exercise will improve the pull more than practicing the shrug or pull alone.

The lower pins for the first position of the curl should be near the lowest position of the hands in the usual free-from-the-rack curl. The lower pins in the second position should be a few inches lower than the position of the hands when the forearms are at right angles to the upper arms. The lower pins for the third position should be about 6 to 8 inches below the position of the hands at the highest position of the free-from-the-rack curl. The higher pins in each of the three positions should b e about 2 to 4 inches above the lower pins. The percentages of weights used and the warm-up reps should correspond to the guidelines described for the squat.

5) The Calf Exercise

Support the weight on the back of the neck rather than in the hands. This is to centralize the pressure on the feet rather than on the hands and back. Place the lower pins level with the base of the neck when standing erect with the heels on the floor and the balls of the feet on a 2x4. Place the upper pins about 2 inches higher. One position level for the calf exercise is sufficient. However, if a two-inch latitude between pins is too little or too much for you, or if you desire more than one position movement, various heights may be had by using, instead of the 2x4, multiple number of thinner boards.

You may want to add other exercises, but the principles followed should be similar to those described. Some exercises may profitably be confined to a one position movement, others to two positions, and others three, depending largely on the length of the motion in the normal version of the exercise.

To summarize, make a chart of or charts of your metro-tonic programs. Line off a large cardboard and tack it to the wall. A good plan is to place the dates across the top, and the names of the exercises in a column at the left edge of the chart. Draw a horizontal line for each exercise and a vertical line for each date. This will result in squares in which you may record the weights used. The chart or charts should cover a period of 20 weeks.

The originators of the isometric system reported that people doubled their strength in 20 weeks. However, these people had apparently done no previous exercise. Do not expect such gains from a seasoned lifter. The gain will depend on how near his peak the lifter is before starting the program, his motivation, consistency, and other factors. If you add only 10 pounds to your lifts in 20 weeks, that may be better than you have done when using other methods. Set goals for yourself. "They should be so much each week or month and the total gain to be reached within 20 weeks. Stick to it for the full 20 weeks.

But wait a minute. Nearly everyone asks how much other exercise should be done while on this program. The answer will depend upon the circumstances. But, you should definitely not try to carry on your regular weight training while practicing metro-tonics. Again, you don't have to confine yourself to metro-tonic training alone. If you are not a weight man but are engaged in other athletics, then you should carry on your other athletic activities moderately while on this program. To weightlifters, I suggest that you do your metro-tonics four days per week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, follow a well rounded weightlifting routine, using perhaps 75% of your best. On Saturday practice the three competitive lifts and try to make higher totals. Record these results weekly. This will be the most important record of your progress, of course, more important than your records in metro-tonic style practice.

One final word. Some lifters work out more efficiently if they start with the exercise that requires that the weights be highest on the rack and work their way down with each succeeding exercise. Others prefer to start at the bottom and work up. In either case it is best follow each exercise with the next lower or higher, depending on which way you are going, rather than skip around on the rack. This is especially  true when  training alone. Two lifters working together, each changing pins and plates at opposite ends of the bar can save a lot of steps which one man working alone would have to make.

Results by noted lifters give us faith in this system.
Your belief in any system you are using is highly important.    


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Those Triceps Again - Bob Green

1970 Police Olympics Power Lift Championships
Upper left - Pat Casey

Here are some tips that may help you to shock some growth into your triceps. Choose one exercise per group below. Start with four sets of each movement doing 8-12 reps. During the second month do five sets per exercise (15 total sets). These exercises should be performed in a tri-set manner (one right after the other). Rest only 15 to 30 seconds between tri-sets. You must beat the recovery rate for maximum hypertrophy. Hit them relentlessly with little rest.

Group One

a) Lying cambered bar pullover/tricep press; a regular barbell can also be used.
b) Lying barbell triceps extensions with heavy weight.
c) All forms of pressing; primarily close-grip.
d) Seated barbell or cambered bar French presses.

Group Two

a) Lying dumbbell triceps extensions; done together or alternately.
b) Long pulley bent over triceps rope extensions.
c) Flat bench lying dumbbell kickbacks.
d) Bob Shealy triceps press (lying on back, pressing bar over eyes,
head and straight back - not up).

Group Three

a) Pressdown on lat machine.
b) Close grip pushups, feet elevated.
c) Single dumbbell overhead triceps extension.
d) Bench dips with feet elevated and weight on lap.

Another point I might make is that a split routine will allow you to specialize more thoroughly without undue fatigue. You will have more time to grow and won't be so inclined to fudge on other bodyparts. This doesn't mean you can't work all bodyparts each workout three times per week. George Watson of The Gym has 19" pumped arms with amazing triceps. He trains 2 hours per workout 3 times per week on the total body and does arms at the end of his workouts. Deputy Paul Anderson of the Ventura Sheriff's Department trains only two to three times per week on the whole body and he has tree trunks for arms. Dan Mackey and Boyer Coe seem to like splitting their arm workouts doing triceps and perhaps forearms one day, and biceps the next (usually on back day due to the rowing and chins). Larry Scott would work delts, arms, and calves two times per week.

When I trained with Dave Draper we would do chest, delts, triceps, and biceps two to three times per week as part of a split. We'd do back, legs, and forearms on opposite days. Little needs to be said about Dave's arms; he learned many things from the all-time big-arm champ - Leroy Colbert. Dave's arms are huge, cut up and have unusual striations that writhe and tense as he uses them. He has the most dramatic set of arms I've seen and I've seen them all. Dave couples this amazing development with unreal vascular development. Watching him work on furniture is like seeing Sandow putting on an exhibition, although Dave is oblivious to what he looks like while he works because he is totally into his thing - as he is in his training.

Personally, I like to do chest work before arms because the chest work hits the deltoids and pre-pumps the triceps. I follow my chest routine with some dumbbell pressing (5-10 sets), triceps (usually I do three giant sets, or two different types of tri-sets), and then biceps are done last in a superset fashion. When I get a sticking point I switch to giant-setting the triceps. To my knowledge, Dave, Gene Mozee and myself were the first on the West Coast to fully experiment with giant sets. Ricky Wayne also uses them extensively.

Here's my 6-week giant set routine. Do one movement right after the other without rest until all seven are done. Rest 15-30 seconds and do it again. Two or three giant sets are plenty.

1) Lying cambered bar triceps pullover and press ->
2) Dumbbell power press, being sure to lock out ->
3) Bentover rope extensions on pulley ->
4) Barbell cheat curl (biceps) ->
5) Seated French press with barbell ->
6) Low incline dumbbell curl ->
7) Barbell spider curl.

After all the giant sets are done then I will finish off doing maximum reps in either the triceps dip on parallel bars or single dumbbell one-arm extensions.

Good Luck!        

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Arch and Ache - Ken Leistner

Jim Williams

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Arch & Ache
by Ken Leistner (1987)

Just as art imitates life, those who train imitate those who are exalted in the pages of the muscle magazines. It is believed that the stars of the bodybuilding and powerlifting worlds "wouldn't say it in a magazine if it weren't true." It is further taken as gospel that the recommendations made by those men and women - who are a cut above the rest - are, or should be, "the way it is." Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Many years ago, a man with a well-developed musculature was rare, primarily because the number of those engage in strength and muscle building activities was small. However, as the population sample of trainees grew through the years, so did the number of well-developed men. It was assumed that there were "good physiques" on the scene because of modernization of training techniques, nutritional manipulation and hormonal experimentation. The truth, though, is that the relative proportion of extremely well-developed physiques is almost the same as it was 25 or 30 years ago. However, the absolute number has increased due to the explosion in the number of individuals now involved in weight training.

Although many new theories of training have been propagated as an explanation for the supposedly sudden improvement of the "average" physique, the truth about strength training has not changed - one must work very hard on a number of basic exercises which stimulate the major muscular structures of the body . . . eat sensibly . . . get adequate rest . . . and remain motivated to train in progressive and productive manner.

However, if you have bought the notion that there has, in fact, been a major change in human physiology, which explains the efficacy of the "new and improved" training programs, you probably copy the leading lights of the sport and do the exercises they do . . . and in the manner in which these stars do them.

 Although many exercises are dangerous if performed in a competitive manner, the bench press is perhaps the most dangerous. The bench press? One immediately thinks of a missed squat pinning a lifter to a platform or tearing his quadriceps muscle, causing him to fall pitifully to the floor. Likewise, an errant deadlift can translate into a crippling lower back injury or a hideously deformed biceps tear that rolls up to its origin in the shoulder region. But other than stupidly attempting a maximum single without spotters or dropping the bar on your neck or chest, what orthopedic dangers are presented by this very popular and universally done lift? Dangers that are insidious and long-lasting!

The bench press can be a very productive exercise. Plus, it's a basic, easy-to-learn movement that can be done with a minimum of equipment. If trained in a progressive and productive manner, quite a bit of weight can be used and increases in lean upper body muscle mass can be attained. Unfortunately, if done improperly, it can lead to lumbar spine damage, lesions of the lower back musculature and upper extremity degeneration.

Because competitive powerlifters utilize more weight in this movement than any other group of athletes, it's natural to copy these individuals. It must be realized that the sport of powerlifting requires the development of a number of specific skills, and bench pressing is one of them. Bear in mind, too, that if one is attempting to lift a maximal single repetition, everything is done to make the lift as "easy" as possible. For example, one wants to position his body so that the bar is moved through the shortest range of motion possible; one wants to move the bar in a manner that engages as many of the involved muscle groups as possible; one wants to stabilize the body to remove any unnecessary movement that could detract from the effort that goes into the actual bench press movement.

The competitive lifter has developed a bench pressing style that accomplishes all of the aforementioned, but this does not mean that the bodybuilder, football player or interested trainee should to emulate the powerlifter's style - even they are also interested in lifting as much weight as possible in this exercise.

It has long become acceptable to bench press with the feet planted firmly on the floor and the buttocks and shoulders anchored to the bench top - as is required by powerlifting regulations - and the back held in a high arch. This position makes it difficult, if not impossible, to roll off the bench during the lift, eliminates "body cheat" which can distort one's demonstrated power and lead to possible injury of the spine or upper extremities, shortens the distance that the bar must be moved as it travels from the chest to the lockout position, and establishes an acceptable standard by which meaningful comparisons of performance can be made.

On the other hand, the disadvantages of this position are many: Most athletes involved in powerlifting, bodybuilding, football and other "heavy" athletics do not have the flexibility that is commensurate with their strength and/or muscular mass. Even the exceptional athlete who takes the time to develop extreme ranges of flexibility does so under loads consisting of bodyweight or partial bodyweight. However, when one assumes the arched position on the bench, digs in and sets his body rigidly in place, takes control of the weight, lowers it to the chest and then drives it upward, there is not only increased compressive force on the musculature of the lumbar spine but a certain amount of jamming or sudden compression on the facets - the actual joints of the vertebrae that interface with one another.

The facets are arthroidal joints that have a synovial lining - which when irritated will secrete a surplus of synovial fluid. Extreme arching during the performance of the bench press - especially over a period of time - may lead to chronic irritation of the synovial membranes with inflammation, fluid secretions and discomfort. Moreover, if there is activation of the body's natural defense mechanism, the result will be protective muscle spasms in the area - forcing the lifter to suffer chronic lower back pain, limited ranges of motion and an inability to do any lower back or hip work - all as a result of their bench pressing technique.

If one competes, he attempts to assume this hyperlordotic, or highly arched, position to shorten the stroke of the upper arm movement, and allow the upper extremity to articulate at the shoulder in a way which simulates a decline bench press. This is, for most individuals, the strongest position from which to bench press.

Yet the prolonged execution of this practice definitely leads to injury. And as far as I'm concerned, it's unforgivable to lose training time - especially if it cuts into the more important squat and deadlift work - as a direct result of your benching work. How does one get around this? The solution is simple.

Most individuals have been instructed to keep their feet on the floor during the bench press. In fact, in competition they cannot move their feet as this guarantees forfeiture of the lift. However, to maximize orthopedic safety - especially for young athletes who have active growth plates in the spine - I would like to suggest that the best way to bench press is with a flat back . . . one in which the forward facing curve in the lumber spine is minimized as much as possible. This can best be accomplished by placing the feet on the bench top or footstools eight to 10 inches in height placed adjacent to the bench. These stools or boxes will increase lateral stability if one uses a bench which is less than 30 centimeters in width, which is required for competition. Either position - with the heels and soles on the bench or boxes, will flatten the curve in the lumbar spine, thereby removing compression between the vertebrae and almost eliminating the possibility of facet impingement.

The bench press is a fine upper body developer and heavily relied upon by the strength community - but it should be done as safely as possible. I would encourage all lifters, especially those with a history of lower back discomfort, to bench press with a flat or unarched back in training. The last four weeks prior to a scheduled competition I would assume the competitive posture to adequately practice the skill of bench pressing a relatively heavy weight as one would in a contest. One of the advantages of this strategy is that the bench-pressing muscles will have become quite a bit stronger relative to the results you would have received with conventional form,and it will quickly relate to the competitive lift within the four-week preparation period.

High school and college coaches have no business instructing their football players to bench press with a high arch, nor should bodybuilders adopt this style. Yes, it may initially yield a higher bench press, but at what price? You are much better off utilizing a style where your feet are placed on the bench or on boxes, keeping your back as flat as possible and allowing no body movement other than that in the arms and forearms. In the long run this will prove safer, more productive, and result in a lower incidence of injury.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Squat Clean & Press - Earle Liederman

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Earle Liederman

Occasionally I receive letter asking my opinion as to what is the best exercise. Without hesitation I immediately recommend the barbell squat clean & press, and all this done with one continuous motion, so to speak. Now, let us analyze this movement.

The bell is upon the floor or ground. You bend forward, secure the grip according the right balance of the bar, and you heave it upwards to upper chest level, then duck downwards into a full squat position. Immediately you arise to standing posture, and next you slow-press the weight to straight-arm position overhead. Now if sufficient poundage is used for this compound movement, a good amount of stress will be placed upon most of the muscles of your body, including all of the major ones.

In the continuous squat-clean & press the upward pull to the shoulders and recovery from the low squat will work the forearms, the biceps, trapezius, posterior deltoids, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi, lumbars and rectus abdominus, as well as offering some strain on the calves. And next, as the weight is pressed overhead to stiff-arm position, the triceps, upper trapezius and anterior deltoids receive the full resistance. Too, the erector muscles come into full contraction, as do the muscles of the lumbar region of the small of the back. And se where is there another compound exercise like this one which will work all the major muscles of the body? And, of course, there are many minor muscles that receive action, but I shall not mention these as their role is lesser than the major ones. Therefore, if anyone were to decide to perform but one and only one exercise, I would most certainly recommend this group-muscle movement. You should now realize its value.

Do More Sets Than Repetitions 

You should use a poundage that will satisfy all the used muscles within three or four repetitions and no more. Then rest and repeat for at least five or more sets. Sometimes you might feel in the mood to make seven to 10 sets. And let me tell you that this one particular exercise is about all anyone need do to obtain a strong and shapely body. Here's why:

Most of the muscles will be made to make full contractions and extensions as throughout this compound movement there are very few limited motions. Nearly all the muscles require complete usage.

If a muscle is limited in motion, then that same muscle will become developed mostly in its center section and not be evenly developed along its entire length. Let us compare a complete movement with arms as simplified examples.

You may sit upon a bench and perform those biceps curls which so many bodybuilders like to do with one arm at a time. These seated curls will, I admit, increase the size of the biceps and somewhat enhance your strength; however, the performance of making a two-arm clean to chest will bring more strength results than the isolated dumbbell movement, regardless of the weight of the dumbbell used. Most bodybuilders enjoy doing seated curls for eight to 15 reps so that their biceps become flushed with blood and also look a bit fuller to the eye immediately afterwards. Too, these arms at the peak height may tape 1/4 to 1/2 inch larger but usually such gains diminish and resume normalcy after a short time and then you are back to where you started from.

Now, all lengthy series of repetitions are tiresome and you will not secure as much compound or group muscle work in a half hour as you would in a fraction of that time when doing the squat clean & press.

Two Methods of Training

If I may seem repetitious, I do it to impress you more fully. But do not misunderstand me. I am not condemning isolated muscle training. If anyone chooses to pump up his muscles to his heart's content all I can say is - "Go to it!" I always share the enthusiasm of others, wrong or right, because I don not believe in ever taking away a fellow's song, so to speak. If one is happy, why cause a frown? Yet I am conscientious in all I write whether you think the opposite is true or not. I have nothing to sell here and therefore I am free to express myself without personal motives.

But muscles developed from group-muscle work become stronger than do those developed singly. Yet I must admit that isolated muscle training is easier and more pleasant to do. But think of all the time it takes! Some bodybuilders will spend many hours with a good workout, whereas if you decide to do but one all-round particular exercise such as I have suggested - the squat clean & press - you could probably complete your workout in less than a half hour, including the necessary rest periods.

So much has been written by many others about training methods that it must often confuse a fellow, for which attitude he must not be blamed. Everyone seems to recommend different ideas. Some of these are very good yet a lot of them are fit to go down the drain.

You yourself as a bodybuilder or lifter are not forced to follow follow anyone's advice because you can blaze your own trail in life; yet often it becomes practical to be open to the right suggestions as so many of these can save much time and energy and also aid your progress.

Bodybuilding and lifting, to my mind, should be simplified and never complicated. When one delves into freakish movements as some so-called instructors ballyhoo, it only drives you into mental contortionism; and some of the exercises border on that very thing. It's so stupid. And also most impractical.   

Training Should be Enjoyable

Training should be pleasurable and not a hardship you dread throughout the day. When you begin to dread your workouts, it is then time to take a rest. A layoff of a week or so will aid you; but if whatever you do is enjoyable to you these periods of staleness will occur less frequently.

Most of you are bodybuilders because you lacked the muscles and size of body that you admired and wanted. Now, if you will observe the various physiques you will find that all experienced Olympic lifters have husky, well-proportioned bodies, with the exception of some of the extreme heavyweights who perhaps desire to pack on the beef for purely leverage/power purposes. But all who are around the 200-pound mark and under certainly have sturdy bodies, and these have goodly proportions as well. Lifters' thighs are always large and strong, and their chest and shoulders likewise. Their arms are thick and well-shaped. Their backs often defy description.

So, to my way of thinking, I believe in strength work mixed with a very limited time expended in direct single-muscle isolation training. In plain words, suppose you are building up your body with the one compound movement I have suggested - the squat clean & press - and you then still desire to get larger and thicker pectorals. You could, for example, then easily add some bench presses or parallel bar dips. And so, that would make but two exercises for your workout. Your thighs would take care of themselves if you squat fully with each clean of the barbell, or you may choose to do several repetitions of the squat after cleaning the bar, before pressing it.

Of course, if you are training specifically for a physique contest appearance you will then have to go in a different direction and slave your utmost for your desires. And bear in mind that no matter what you choose to do in your training, my own enthusiasm will always be with you. 


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gainer's Gourmet, Part Seven

A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali. Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him on journeys further afield: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor.

Wheels and tubes, twists and folds and grooves—pasta comes in hundreds of shapes, each with its own unique history, beauty, and place on the dinner table. For centuries these shapes have evolved alongside Italy’s cornucopia of local ingredients; if you know how the flavors relate to the forms, you hold the secret formula to good taste.
The Geometry of Pasta pairs over 100 authentic recipes from acclaimed chef Jacob Kenedy with award-winning designer Caz Hildebrand’s stunning black-and-white designs to reveal the science, culture, and philosophy behind spectacular pasta dishes from throughout Italian history.

A triumphant fusion of food and design, The Geometry of Pasta invites us to unlock the hidden properties of Italy’s most mathematically perfect deliciousness.


Linguine with Fresh Tomato

8 oz. box Linguine
4 tbsp. Butter
1 large, ripe, chopped, Tomato
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

1) Cook linguine ahead of time, drain, rinse with cold water. Drain again and keep in a plastic baggie until ready to eat.
2) Microwave pasta in open bag. In separate bowl microwave butter, spices and chopped tomato (include any tomato pulp).
3) Add linguine to butter mixture. Toss, add cheese, toss again.


1) Cook linguine according to package directions, drain.
2) In pan over low heat melt butter, add tomato and spices.
3) Toss all together, add cheese, toss again.

2 servings, each containing about:

Calories - 682
Protein - 22
Carbs - 87
Fat - 27

Chicken Linguine  

2 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 tbsp. Butter
3 Green Onions
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup White Wine
1 cup White Wine
1 bottle Red Wine
6 Glasses Pale Ale, poured liberally over
2 Long-distance Phone Calls
3 hours Sleep
1 glass of Water
2 Aspirin
1 Lemon Wedge
1/2 tsp. dried Basil
Few dashes of Cayenne Pepper
1 Zucchini, sliced
1 Tomato, chopped
10 oz. Frozen Peas
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 lb. box Linguine

1) Put water on to boil.
2) Saute garlic and green onions in butter and oil.
3) Add chicken, basil and white wine, simmer for about 5 minutes.
4) Put in linguine to boil.
5) Add zucchini and tomato to chicken mixture, simmer and stir while linguine cooks (avoid overcooking). Turn the heat down low.
6) Drain linguine well, toss chicken mixture, linguine and cheese in a large bowl.

6 servings, each containing about:

Calories - 246
Protein - 30
Carbs - 61
Fat - 15

Linguine with Clams

3 tbsp. Butter
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
6.5 oz. can Minced Clams, drained
1/4 tsp. dried Basil
1/4 dried Oregano
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
8 oz. Linguine

1) Put a large pot of water on to boil.
2) Heat butter and oil in a skillet.
3) Add garlic and saute briefly.
4) Add clams and clam juice, basil, oregano and half the Parmesan.
5) Reduce heat and keep warm. Button up your overcoat.
6) Boil pasta according to directions. Drain and toss with clam sauce.
7) Transfer to warmed plates and top with remaining Parmesan.

2 servings, each containing about:

Calories - 861
Protein - 27
Carbs - 87
Fat - 45

Broccoli Fettuccine

12 oz. box Spinach Fettuccine noodles
3 cups Broccoli
3 tbsp. Butter
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried Basil
16 oz. container lowfat Cottage Cheese
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
1 Lemon Wedge
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese

1) Put on a large pot of water to boil.
2) Blanch the broccoli (put it into the hot water briefly, about 30 seconds. It will turn bright green, but still be very crunchy).
3) Saute the garlic in the butter.
4) Add the basil, cottage cheese, cream and lemon juice.
5) Simmer and stir for a couple of minutes, melting the cottage cheese.
6) Lower the heat to just below a simmer and keep warm while the pasta cooks.
7) Toss fettuccine and sauce in a large bowl, transfer to warmed plates and top with Parmesan cheese.

4 servings, each containing about:

Calories - 615
Protein - 31
Carbs - 72
Fat - 24

Chili Pepper Pasta

5 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Onion, sliced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
2 Bell Peppers (red, green or both), thinly sliced
28 oz. can Chopped Tomatoes
2 tbsp. Chili Powder
1 lb. box of Linguine
6 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese

1) Put on a large pot of water to boil.
2) Heat butter and oil in a large skillet.
3) Add onions and garlic, saute until onion is wilted (looks transparent)
4) Add tomatoes, chili powder and bell peppers.
5) Stir well, lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
6) Boil linguine according to package directions, drain.
7) Transfer pasta to warmed plates, top with sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

6 servings, each containing about:

Calories - 515
Protein - 33
Carbs - 71
Fat - 10

Fresh Vegetable Pasta Salad

1 lb. box Medium Pasta Shells
1.5 oz. Pine Nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 Carrots
1 Zucchini, shredded
1 Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Red Onion, finely chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
5 or 6 Basil Leaves, chopped with scissors

1) Cook the pasta according to directions, rinse well in cold water.
2) Roast the pine nuts in a dry skillet until golden.
3) Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Approximately 10 servings, each containing about:

Calories - 290
Protein - 9
Carbs - 39
Fat - 5

Salmon Pasta

1 package Pasta Shells
2 cups Blanched Broccoli (see Broccoli Fettuccine for directions)
1 Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Sweet Pickles, chopped
2 cans Pink Salmon, cleaned and crumbled
1/3 cup Mayonnaise 
1 tbsp. Honey
1 cup cubed Swiss Cheese

1) Heat water to boil and blanch Broccoli.
2) Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water.
3) Mix together mayo, honey and sweet pickles.
4) Put all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to coat.

6 servings, each containing about:

Calories - 453
Protein - 28
Carbs - 36
Fat - 20

Better Than Spaghetti

1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Chopped Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
26 oz. jar Classico Mushroom and Olive Spaghetti Sauce
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
Few splashes of Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 box Rotelle (Ronzini) or Rotini Pasta
1 cup grated Mozzarella Cheese

1) Brown hamburger, onion and garlic, drain.
2) Add spaghetti sauce, seasoning, oil and vinegar.
3) Reduce heat, simmer while pasta cooks.
4) Toss pasta, sauce and cheese in a large bowl.

6 servings, each containing about:

Calories - 638
Protein - 36
Carbs - 70
Fat -22

Friday, September 20, 2013

Gainer's Gourmet, Part Six

Juoko Ahola
Bad Day to Go Fishing / Mal día para pescar (2009)

A quirky film noir cum dark comedy featuring a washed-up wrestler, his hoodwinking manager and a forlorn South American town circa 1961, “Bad Day to Go Fishing” casts its line into unusual waters but doesn’t yield an entirely convincing catch. Uruguayan director Alvaro Brechner’s ambitious debut is something like a retro “The Wrestler” by way of the Coen brothers or Mexican helmer Arturo Ripstein, with sharp production values and a fair share of pulp fatalism. Yet the cartoonish characters and overstretched running time turn a potentially engaging narrative into a mere curiosity, making for attractive festival bait with only minor theatrical potential.
- Jordan Mintzer - Variety


Basic Blaster

2 cups Milk
2 Eggs
2 tbsp. Nonfat Powdered Milk
2 tbsp. Honey
2 tbsp. Yeast
2 Frozen Bananas

Calories - 920
Protein - 50
Carbs - 130
Fat - 28

No-Frills Drink

8 oz. Half & Half Cream
8 oz. Yogurt
3 Eggs
1/2 cup Powdered Milk
1/2 cup Protein Powder

Calories - 940
Protein - 76
Carbs - 46
Fat 48

Peanut Butter Bomber

1.5 cups Milk
2 tbsp. Peanut Butter
1 tbsp. Yeast
1/2 cup Powdered Milk
1/2 cup Protein Powder
2 tbsp. Honey
1 Frozen Banana

Calories - 942
Protein - 70
Carbs - 110
Fat - 30

Blueberry Special

2 cups Milk
1 Banana
1 cup Frozen Blueberries 
1/2 cup Milk Powder
1 tbsp. Lecithin Granules
1 tbsp. Honey

Calories - 780
Protein - 32
Carbs - 108
Fat - 30


1.5 cups Orange Juice
1/2 cup Water 
1 Frozen Banana
1 cup Ice Cream

Calories - 540
Protein - 8
Carbs - 98
Fat - 16

Strawberry Pro

2 cups Milk
1 Banana
1 cup Frozen Strawberries
1/2 cup Protein Powder
1 tbsp. Yeast

Calories -614
Protein - 52
Carbs - 70
Fat - 18

Richey Rich

1 cup Milk
1 cup Cream
2 Eggs
1 cup Powdered Milk
1 Frozen Banana

Calories - 1000
Protein - 34
Carbs - 56
Fat - 72

Super Squats Drink

4 cups Whole Milk
2 cups Powdered Milk
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
1 Banana
2 tbsp. Lecithin
1 tbsp. Wheat Germ Oil
1 large scoop Vanilla Ice Cream

Calories - 1890
Protein - 121
Carbs - 209
Fat - 76

Get Big Drink

2 quarts Milk
Day's supply of any Weight Gainer
2 cups Skim Milk Powder
2 Eggs
4 tbsp. Peanut Butter
1/2 brick Chocolate Ice Cream
1 Banana
4 tbsp. Malted Milk Powder
6 tbsp. Corn Syrup

Calories - 2000
Protein - about 200

Gainer's Gourmet, Part Five


Protein Bar Recipes:
Bacon & Chili Dark Chocolate Protein Bars?

Bigger Body Bars

1 cup Apple Juice Concentrate (the frozen stuff)
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Raw Wheat Germ
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 cup Sunflower Seeds
1 cup Pecans, chopped
1 cup Raisins
1 cup Dates, chopped

1) Blend juice, butter, vanilla and eggs.
2) Sift together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder and soda.
3) Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
4) Press into a buttered 9x13 inch glass oblong pan.
5) Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes, until top is golden brown.
6) Refrigerate to keep fresh.

12 bars, each containing about:

Calories - 437
Protein - 11
Carbs - 53
Fat - 24

Energy Bars

1 cup Peanut Butter
1 cup Honey
1 cup Protein Powder
3 cup Raw Wheat Germ

1 and only) Mix it all together and press into a glass oblong pan or a Tupperware dish with a lid, refrigerate and enjoy.

15 squares, each containing about:

Calories - 307
Protein - 15
Carbs - 42
Fat - 78

Date Bread

1.5 cups Boiling Water
2 cups Dates, chopped
4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Eggs
3 tbsp. Butter, melted
1 cup Honey
1 tbsp. Vanilla
1 cup Pecans, chopped

1) Pour boiling water over dates and let them sit for 30 minutes.
2) Stir together flour and baking soda.
3) Stir together eggs, butter, honey and vanilla.
4) Add date mixture, stir well.
5) Add pecans, stir well.
6) Bake in a buttered 9x13 inch glass oblong pan at
325 degrees for about 45 minutes.

15 pieces, each containing about:

Calories - 304
Protein - 5
Carbs - 58
Fat - 7

Bran Banana Bread

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Unbleached White Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 cup Soft Butter
3/4 cup Honey
2 Eggs

2 large Bananas, mashed
1.5 cups Bran (or Bran Cereal)

3/4 cup Pecans, chopped
3/4 cup Raisins

1) Sift first four ingredients together in a large bowl.
2) Stir honey and butter together, add eggs, stir well.
3) Mix bananas and bran together well.
4) Add honey mix and banana mix to flour mix and stir well.
5) Add pecans and raisins.
6) Bake in a buttered and floured loaf pan
at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

10 slices, each with about:

Calories - 433
Protein - 10
Carbs - 77
Fat - 15

Rice Salad

1 cup Uncooked Rice
3 Hard-boiled Eggs
3 Celery Stalks
1 Green or Red Bell Pepper
1 Bunch Green Onions
1 3oz. jar of Spanish Olives
1 small can Sliced Black Olives
1 tbsp. Parsley
1/2 cup Mayonnaise

1) Cook rice until just tender.
2) Chop the eggs, celery, bell pepper, green onions, olives and parsley.
3) Mix everything together in a large bowl and refrigerate until well chilled.

5 servings, each with about:

Calories - 371
Protein - 8
Carbs - 29
Fat - 26

Beet & Carrot Casserole

3 large Beets
1/2 lb. Carrots
5 tbsp. Butter
1.5 bunches Green Onions, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, minced,
1/2 lb. Cheddar Cheese, grated

1) Steam beets whole (scrub them clean first, and cut off the ends) for about 15 minutes.
2) Add carrots (scrubbed, with ends removed) and steam both just until a fork will penetrate.
3) Saute onions and garlic in butter until onions become very limp.
4) Grate the carrots and beets into an oblong pan, keeping the two separate until mixing time.
5) Add onion and butter mixture.
6) Toss all together to coat, and top with cheese.
7) Broil until cheese is golden brown.

6 servings, each with about:

Calories - 302
Protein - 12
Carbs - 14
Fat - 23

Beano Burritos 

1 tbsp. Butter 
1 Onion
1 can Vegetarian Refried Beans
1/2 cup Rice
1/4 cup Salsa
1 Tomato, chopped
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
6 Flour Tortillas

1) Saute onion in butter until limp, about 3 minutes
2) Add beans, rice, salsa and tomato. Heat and stir.
3) Heat tortillas one at a time in a large skillet.
4) Put a couple of spoonfuls of the beans down in the middle,
top with cheese and roll up. Keep warm in the oven until all are done.

6 burritos, each with about:

Calories - 245
Protein - 10
Carbs - 34
Fat - 9

Power Pancakes

Regular Pancake Mix for 4 servings
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Raisins
1/3 cup Oats
1/2 cup Wheat Germ

2 Bananas, mashed
1/4 cup Honey
1 tbsp. Jam

1) Prepare mix according to directions.
2) Add the rest and mix well.
3) Grill
4) Mash topping ingredients together.

2 servings, each with about:

Calories - 747
Protein - 21
Carbs - 137
Fat - 18

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Improve Your Squat - William Graff

Click Pics to ENLARGE

Eight-year old Paul Oudenot performing a Wrestler's Bridge
while supporting 105 pounds.

Joe DePietro , Bob Hoffman, Kamal Mahgoub
1949 World Weightlifting Championships
Scheveningen, Netherlands

Improve Your Squatting Ability
William Graff
The deep knee bend is recognized as one of the finest exercises in the barbell routine. However, because of the great demands made upon the body and mind during its performance, it is often avoided by too great a number of weight enthusiasts.

In spite of the benefits to be derived from heavy leg work, too many of us find excuses and leave it out of our programs. A good many of us actually hate and dread squats. We rationalize against them, and we are guilty of procrastination, saying that someday we will get down to business and do them.

Since we all know why squats are unpopular, it won't be necessary to go into the reasons. Instead, let's see if there isn't some way that they can be made easier. By easier, I don't mean handling light weights. I mean this: How can we make it possible to increase our poundage in the squat without making the exercise a discouraging chore? No exercise should seem like a chore.

There is a way to do this. Basically, this is one answer:

The body must be prepared and strengthened for heavy squatting.

Many will immediately say that the full squat is the only way to strengthen the legs. True, it is the best way, but for those who are finding it discouragingly difficult, there are exercises that will pave the way for continued poundage increases. And the heavier weights will be handled with greater ease than were the former weights.

Here is a routine of 'preparation' exercises that have been tried and found successful:

1) Half Squats.
2) Dead lifts (straight-legged and regular).
3) Shoulder shrugs.

Half Squat
The half squat should be performed with at least 100 lbs. more than currently possible in the full squat. At first, extreme caution must be used,. For a couple of workouts it won't be possible to lower the body more than a few inches. Once you're accustomed to the weight, you will be able to gradually lower to almost the point where the upper legs are horizontal. 
You'll find you have to use your own judgement on how far you can go down each session. Going below the point of no return with this heavy a weight will force you into a full squat and it will be impossible to get back up.
Increases in weight handled will be possible in 20-pound jumps. The exercise greatly strengthens the upper thighs muscles. The half squat can do much to strengthen your full squatting ability, and will gradually relieve your mind of the fear of heavy weights on your back.

Dead Lift
In order to squat with an appreciable amount of weight, the back must be kept considerably straight. Without a strong back it is hard if not impossible to keep the weight from throwing you forward, making it difficult to rise. Concentration on dead lifting will soon give you a back that will stay strongly erect during your deep-knee bending. In addition to holding the back erect, the strengthened muscles will make it less tiresome to support the bar across your shoulders while squatting.

Shoulder Shrugs
A valuable aid in squatting is a well-developed trapezius. One of the best exercises for these muscles is the shoulder shrug. Since the trapezius supports the barbell, it is easy to see why good development here will make a heavy weight less tiring in the shoulders. The shrug should be done with the weight hanging in front of the body as well as behind the body.

The addition of concentrated work on these exercises will do wonders for your squatting. Determine where you deep-knee bend is weakest, and perform exercises to improve that area. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jim Bradford

Jim Bradford
November, 1928
September, 2013

I'd like to suggest lifters worldwide add a mindful set of Bradford Presses 
to their next workout.

Press the bar up to hair level, then cross it over your head and lower it to your traps. Touch lightly, and then without resting press the weight back up over your head again for rep two. Keep repeating this with no rest at either the front or back position.

Click Pics to ENLARGE

Goals - Richard A. Winett

Larry Scott, Sergio Oliva, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu

The Art and Science of Achieving
by Richard A. Winett, Ph.D.

In this article, partly based on my book Ageless Athletes,  
I will talk about some of the science and art of goal setting that leads to personal success. I'm convinced that the overall approach and techniques - the science - within some realistic boundaries can help anyone to surpass their present performance levels. At the conclusion of this article, however, I will add some qualifications - the art in goal setting. There is, after all, a 'flip-side' to everything in life. Successful goal attainment has its obvious benefits, and perhaps not-so-obvious costs.

Choosing Goals

While the techniques of goal attainment are relatively straightforward, the actual choosing of goals is far from easy. I don not mean simple goals, e.g., saving 10 or 20 dollars a week, but goals that are so encompassing as to almost define one's life. As important as this topic is, exactly how a person sets a life course to be a great artist, a champion bodybuilder or a nuclear physicist appears unknown. Thus we have to apply some common sense.

One critical aspect of picking a long term goal is realistic self-assessment or assessment by others. For example, according to Michael Yessis, Ph.D., in Secrets of Soviet Sports Fitness and Training,
at a very early age youngsters in the Soviet Union and Soviet-bloc countries receive extensive evaluation for athletic potential. Children are matched to specific sports, and as time goes on, training becomes more formalized and rigorous. Only those who physically and psychologically are a best match for a given sport proceed up the Soviet system for elite athletes, e.g., special schools, coaches, equipment, nutrition.

The Soviets, according to Yessis, can also predict the levels of performance necessary to compete at the highest ranking 10 to 15 years in the future. Thus, an aspiring 15- or 16-year old elite Soviet athlete in 1989 will clearly know with a high degree of certainty his or her chance for an Olympic medal in the 1992 and 1996 games.

I am using the Soviet example not to suggest that we completely adopt their system, but to make an important point. Prior to fixating on a goal, there needs to be good, realistic assessments. The best assessments will not be made from an armchair or couch. Whatever the endeavor and goal, you must expose yourself to the field of play. For example, no amount of study of articles will answer the question about your ability to be a high-level bodybuilder or lifter. After about two years of training on basic overall routines and following sound nutritional practices, you will have your answer to the opening-round question, "Can I be good at this?"

Based on further self-assessment and feedback from others, you may be able to get a handle on a realistic long-term goal for yourself. Long-term goals, depending on realistic assessments, may be as disparate as placing in your club's annual contest or winning the Olympia title. However, if in all instances goals are realistic but will take considerable, if not heroic efforts to reach, then the techniques for goal attainment are usually very much the same.

Setting Sub-goals 

Once a specific, realistic long-term goal has been picked, the most important step is to carefully pick a series of sub-goals. This can be done in an ascending or descending way. I suggest doing it both ways too see if your series of sub-goals match.

For a descending set of goals, you work your way backward from the final goal to the present. That is, you backtrack from the final goal and figure out all the key sub-goals that involved in attaining that one main goal. For an ascending set of goals, you work forward from the present to the final goal.

The series of sub-goals you develop from one or both kinds of analysis should be significant ones that indicate personal success and achievement. The science (and art) here is to pick sub-goals that always remain interesting and challenging. The process of seeking to fulfill goals should be stimulating and confirm your ability to complete specific tasks and reach sub-goals. These self-efficacy beliefs will fuel your next efforts. And if each goal makes you reach and extend yourself a bit more than before, fulfilling sub-goals will bee highly rewarding.

The charting of sub-goals should be formalized. I urge you at the outset to not only write out your series of sub-goals and study them, but to develop a highly specific timetable and task analysis for each sub-goal. After all, sub-goals will not be accomplished automatically. It takes good planning and completion of a succession of tasks.

Time/Task Analysis

The overall objective is to devise a time/task analysis. Depending on your overall goal and the number of sub-goals, the unit of time in your time/task analysis may be as short as a day or as long as several years or more. The time/task analysis is your "road map." Without a road map, you won't know if you've gone astray; a road map keeps you on course.

While you will find that it is extremely satisfying to check off completed tasks and sub-goals, the road map must still be flexible enough to enable you to modify it according to your experience. For example, the time/task analysis needs to be modified if you discover some heretofore unthought-of task or some sub-goals that take less or more time to achieve.

However, even a well-conceived time/task analysis is only a first step along the way to goal attainment. In examining your sub-goals, tasks and time frame, you must ask, "Exactly what resources and support do I need to complete tasks and reach sub-goals?" I cannot emphasize enough that this question must be asked. If you do not have the resources and supports, more than likely you will not succeed.


Resources and supports do not just include money and friends. For example, among the most critical resources for athletes are enough time for training and recuperation and access to at least adequate training facilities. Clearly, if you are working 60 to 70 hours a week and sleeping five hours a night, there are tremendous odds against your becoming a great athlete, even if you do have access to the best training facility in the world.

One piece of the total picture of goal attainment and athletic success that I found fascinating in studying the lives and training of athletes for my book was how well these people set up an environment conducive to training. This is not to say that all the athletes were wealthy or were full-time athletes. As best as possible, they arranged their daily environment to help them complete tasks pointed toward goals. Some common strategies included more flexible (though often demanding) work schedules, the development over many years of a private/home gym, calculated risk-taking in new careers that allow more time for training or moving to specific parts of the country (even for specific segments of the year) to enhance training.

I am not suggesting by these examples that you quit your job or totally convert your dwelling into a gym. I am advising you to carefully consider how much time and money you need for all your tasks and sub-goals; what other kinds of help you may need; what settings, environments and equipment you need access to; what kind of nutrition and how much sleep you will require; and how much effort your tasks will require and, therefore how much effort you can devote to other aspects of your life. Briefly and to the point, you need to carefully plan how you will structure your life.


When you have your sub-goals and tasks specified and have optimized resources, supports and environments as best you can, you are more than halfway along the path to achieving short- and long-term goals. Several techniques can enhance these first basic steps and keep you on course. 

Many great athletes either formally or informally, continually monitor their performance and make adjustments in diet, rest, training, task or goal completion, or other aspects of their life. This self-monitoring, self-feedback process appears to be critical. Some athletes keep detailed training logs and can readily discern patterns related to optimal and sub-optimal performance. During a training session there is also a constant cycle of self-observation, feedback, adjustment, modification of performance and so on. The best athletes appear to be similar to exquisitely sensitive biofeedback devices.

Again, this process may be formalized in a diary of simply retained in memory. However, a written account or diary also affords the opportunity to plan particular training sessions in detail. During or after the training session the athlete can make notes to fine-tune subsequent performances and check off accomplishments for the day. This type of goal-setting feedback system is an excellent way for you to maintain a high level of motivation and sharpen your focus and intensity. This is particularly true when daily goals are difficult (so they are meaningful) but reachable (so you will be rewarded by your effort).


The following are some other techniques to make task performance ore proficient and to heighten motivation. Template matching involves finding a good example of what you want to accomplish and following it. This also involves behavioral modeling; for example, when you follow the training routine and diet of bodybuilders you want to emulate. Of course, this process will only be beneficial if you attempt to match and model a person and process that fits you.

For some individuals, making public commitments is highly motivating. Here, for example, you can tell people who are important to you about your specific goals and when you will accomplish them. Clearly, you can see how this strategy can provide you with extra motivation and a lot of positive feedback. Of course, as will be discussed later, public commitments also mean your failures will receive closer scrutiny. This kind of commitment is a double-edged sword!


Many, though not all, athletes use visualization strategies. These strategies are also called mental or cognitive rehearsal techniques. The basic idea is to visualize yourself successfully completing important tasks prior to actually achieving them in real life. It must be noted, however, that what you visualize must be realistic. For example, if you are currently pressing 150 pounds it would be foolish to visualize yourself pressing 300. And it would be even more foolish to go to the gym and attempt it! Realistic, clear visualizations (e.g., pressing 160 pounds) where you can virtually feel the entire process are the key.

There are psychological and physiological reasons why visualization appears to work. I am not suggesting, however, that you become lost in imagery and thought. Instead, use visualization strategies prior to particularly difficult training sessions, events or competitions. In addition, visualization strategies can be combined with a cue-controlled relaxation technique. With considerable practice (and that must be emphasized) many people can learn to elicit a relaxation response using a cue word (e.g., "calm") in situations that they find anxiety-provoking. I convert fear into faith.   

The combination of all these tactics - arranging your sub-goals; task and time frame; lining up supports and resources; tracking performance and making adjustments; visualizing optimal performance - can keep you incredibly focused and on-task. Your whole life then becomes centered on achieving specific tasks and goals you have chosen. As I noted before, however, there are both benefits and costs in goal attainment.


It is important that persons applying the overall approach and strategies discussed in this article realize that there is a downside to such tenacious, focused striving. First, no matter how systematic you are or how hard you try, it is naive to think you will always be successful. At a minimum, there are events beyond your control and/or tasks and goals that you miscalculate. If success was that easy to achieve, we would all be millionaires! Obviously, that's not the case.

It is important to focus on the process and enjoy the tasks and work you're doing. You can achieve certain goals, but some will remain elusive. In the end it may matter more that you enjoyed the process and journey.

When you make your goals specific and, perhaps, public, it is apparent when you have succeeded - and just as apparent when you have failed. The setting up of a series of tasks and goals almost assures you some incredible highs and lows. Most people who do not definitely set goals won't experience the "agony and ecstasy" of personal and public failure and success. In addition, when you channel so much drive and energy in one direction and part of your life, there typically is not that much to fall back on. Failure hurts more when there is no cushion such as enjoyment of life pursuits.

It is probably only possible to channel so much time, energy, effort and focus into one or two areas of your life at one time. When you focus on one aspect, such as success in athletics or the world of work, it usually means you're short-changing another part of your life. Not too many people can "have it all," much less be very successful in one or two endeavors, and claim to be leading a "balanced" life. 

The achievement of goals can sometimes be hollow (e.g., no one except you really cares about or understands your achievement), and sometimes the achievement itself creates new problems. Success often brings new, usually unthought-of expectations, responsibilities and pressures. For example, the idea of being on a continuously running treadmill, where the speed and incline are also constantly increasing, is more than just an analogy or metaphor for unswerving striving. Occasionally, it helps to turn the treadmill switch to "off" - if you can.

I've introduced these qualifications not to dampen your enthusiasm for goal setting and success, but rather, because you need to engage in planning and focused effort with your eyes open to all the benefits and costs. As I've suggested throughout this short article, the science of goal setting is relatively straightforward. 

It's the art of living that's a bit more complicated.

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