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. 


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