Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Squat and Deadlift - Bill Kazmaier

The author, 1979.

The importance of the squat and deadlift in powerlifting is obvious. In a meet a good squat is an advantage in itself and sets a subsequent enthusiastic mood, and a good deadlift can be the make or break in a tight contest. Correct training on these two lifts also inspires excellent overall body strength and growth. They are the two heaviest lifts and as a consequence are especially demanding both physically and mentally. It is therefore of prime importance to pay careful consideration to their performance and training to gain maximum benefit.

Both these lifts posed problems for me earlier in my career. Through considerable thought, some trial and error, and the application of sound philosophies I developed my technique and training principles so that I now feel as natural and confident with these lifts as I do with the bench press.

As with all challenges, barriers are made to be crossed and records broken. I have big plans for the near future, lifts and totals of a new personal dimension, and through the advice in this program you should too.


Increased ability on the squat and deadlift is a product of an intricate combination of several features. Gains are made from developing efficient styles, utilizing a sensible cycle for peaking, building the muscle to warrant increased strength and in maintaining an enthusiastic mental perspective on the goal at hand.

All these are accessible. The squat and deadlift technique and workout program and cycle will be subsequently discussed in detail. From these you will develop the muscle that accompanies the greatest strength gains and also the important mental outlook providing you adopt the right philosophy throughout your training. My concepts and philosophies on training for these lifts vary considerably from those held by many others. I feel it is therefore essential to explain these philosophies now for emphasis and in so doing possibly denounce some popular misconceptions.

To encapsulate my training philosophy would be to say "TRAIN HARD AND TRAIN FAST", but there is much more involved than can be explained in that short phrase. Primarily you need to divorce yourself from a preoccupation with maximal weights, be it singles or low repetitions, where weight and not work is the motivator. Continually testing yourself with maximal poundages is a self-indulgent step into staleness, slow gains and discouragement. Believe in the notion that if you build useful muscle greater strength will accompany it. FOR 75% TO 80% OF THE TIME THE KEY WORD DURING WORKOUTS IS INTENSITY - WORKING FOR MUSCLE EXHAUSTION, INCREASING WEIGHTS GRADUALLY ONCE THEY HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED SATISFACTORILY. Consistency of this approach, performing smooth and proficient sets and repetitions over a long period of time, will build the muscular basis for substantial strength gains and ward against premature peaking and staleness.

Only in the last four weeks of the overall cycle does poundage take over as the prime motivator. During this period believe in the groundwork you have laid and expect rapid gains in the poundages capable of being handled from workout to workout, but always know yourself and listen to the messages your body is giving you - don't overextend yourself and get discouraged. Intuitively you should know your capabilities, be reasonable and honest with yourself and you will realize your true immediate potential and develop a perfect working relationship with yourself to promote even greater advancements in the future.

Competitive Squatting Style and Technicalities

To squat with a weight is a simple enough concept, yet there are still many considerations necessary in order to perform with maximum efficiency, so gaining maximum poundage. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the practicalities of squatting is to run through, step by step, the execution of a competitive squat making relevant observations and suggestions upon its performance.

Approach the bar with positive thoughts of a successful lift, definitely not a time for doubt.

Grip the bar with as narrow a hand spacing as possible, with thumbs around the bar, while still allowing the bar to be carried low without too much discomfort to the shoulders, elbows or wrists.

The position of the bar on the shoulders should be within the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) rules - no lower than 1.25 inches between the top of the bar and the top of the anterior deltoids.
A position in which you should feel stable, should be able to stand sufficiently upright as to satisfy the referees, and one that affords the best leverage advantage to your body structure. With the correct position you should not be able to round your back during the squat even if you wanted to.

Elbows should not be held high but rather forced down so that you can feel contact between tensed triceps and lat. Lighter lifters be aware of the possibility of the elbows touching the thighs whilst in the bottom squat position (an infringement of the rules). Adjust your grip to avoid this if it seems probable.

A solid bar and arm position is important. You should feel like yourself and the bar are one, joined together, and that squatting with it is like squatting with a natural extension of yourself.

Stepping out from the rack and assuming the correct foot stance should be done with as little delay as possible, taking just enough steps to clear the racks and make positive adjustments to get the feet set.

Keep your attitude positive and confident and look up to the position you decide to focus on to await the referee's signal.

The foot spacing is dictated by individual structure and leverage. To keep within the limits where all the muscles involved can work best together I would definitely go wider than shoulder width, but not excessively wide, with toes pointed slightly outwards.

Inhale deeply before the descent and keep the head forced back slightly throughout.

Upon first unlocking the knees for the squat the butt should consciously be pushed backwards. This inclines the trunk forward and helps keep the lower legs in a more upright position.

Going down in the squat should be controlled. To let the tight suit and knee wraps work best for you drop a little faster towards the bottom position and rebound while driving strongly with the legs.

It's important to endeavor to keep the knees as much over the instep as possible. This makes it easier to sink into the break-parallel position and lessens the distance the bar travels.

Drive all the way through when coming up with the squat, keeping the lats and arms tensed under the bar, so maintaining solidity and control, gradually exhaling upon completion.

Lock the knees and resume an upright position to receive the referee's signal for the completion of the lift and to rack the bar.

If you develop a good strict style in training it should follow automatically in meets. Practice makes perfect - develop your squatting 'groove' and work at making it a natural movement for you. Don't get too avaricious in training, seeking those big poundages you are not capable of in strict style. It's best to train within yourself, developing good rather than bad form with the confident knowledge that big singles will be yours at contest time. Finally, correct form form is often governed by the tight suit and wraps. Use these in training for at least the last 4-8 weeks on the heavy days to condition yourself to the style.

Competitive Deadlift Style and Technicalities

Again, deadlifting a weight is a simple concept, yet it still involves the observation of many considerations to perform with maximum efficiency.

Never approach any heavy lift with anything but positive thoughts. Especially in the deadlift, when possibly attempting a winning lift, a weight you may have never tried before, don't be tempted to deviate from the style you have become accustomed to and are proficient with, rounding the back more or sacrificing initial leg drive for a faster start. If that style was better you should have been using it in training. Condition yourself to the style that suits you best and use it exclusively.

Conventional Style

Bend you legs and incline your trunk over the bar with back held naturally, neither held rigidly flat nor especially rounded. Don't sit too deeply into the starting position.

Use a grip that feels comfortable, obviously with one hand reversed unless you have a preference for the hook grip. Space the hands not much greater than shoulder width.

If you experience difficulties in finishing a deadlift, position the bar about 2 inches away from the shins at the start, otherwise keep the bar in close to the shins.

A compact yet powerful feeling is important in assuming the start position.

Tense the lats and shoulders and pull with a smooth coordinated effort of legs, hips and back, transferring the weight onto the heels.

Avoid the temptation to lean back with the bar, pulling it along the thighs, if the finish is difficult. This is reason for failure according to the rules. Keep upright and use the strength you have been building with the round back deadlifts and shrugs.

Keep your head and neck in line with the spine throughout the lift.

Inhale before pulling and exhale through the sticking point or upon lockout.

Sumo Style

This style contrasts with the conventional deadlift in a number or ways. It's important to try to maintain a slightly inclined yet flat back throughout. Gripping compactly between the legs, sit back with the hips low, toes and knees pointing outwards, lats and shoulders still tensed while looking forward or upward. The initial effort is primarily from the legs, fighting the tendency of the back to round or incline forward too much. Pull through smoothly, coordinating leg, back and hip strength.

Assistance Exercises     

The following assistance exercises should be used to promote greater ability in the squat and deadlift. In an attempt to present the program as clearly as possible the assistance exercises will first be described as far as performance, technique, etc., and then included in the overall program with sets and repetitions explained.

Squat - Light

In contrast to the competition style squats these should be performed with the bar high on the trapezius muscles and with a narrow stance, shoulder width or slightly less. With the bar held high there is more difficulty in maintaining a flat back, but it is important to do so. The weights should never be so heavy as to force you to round your back, and raising the heels with different shoes or blocks might help to prevent this. A belt should be worn but a tight suit and knee wraps are less important. In this exercise the weight is not of primary importance. Intensity, speed and explosive drive out of the bottom position are the main aspects.

Leg Extension

A deliberate and controlled extension on the appropriated machine.

Leg Curl

Again, keep the movement strict and controlled in both directions.

Calf Raise

With a multitude of equipment and exercises to choose from, all giving virtually the same action, it's really a question of availability and personal preference. In fact, I vary the exercises just for a change.

Deadlift - Light

The emphasis in this exercise is on unstrained muscle action without much rest between sets, using a controlled bounce between repetitions. Use the same style a used on heavy days except sumo-style deadlifters, who should revert to the conventional style.

Round Back Rack Deadlift

Position the bar either in racks or on boxes at a point about 1.5 inches below the kneecaps. With a fairly narrow foot stance, a grip about shoulder width and with back exaggeratedly rounded, smoothly lift the bar to lockout whilst 'uncoiling' the spine. It's important to start off with light weights on this exercise and keep the movements smooth. The top weights used should never exceed your regular deadlift poundage. Pause slightly between each repetition.


Most comfortably performed using a double over grip with thumbs over the bar with the fingers, using straps to secure this grip. The shrug should be an up and down movement and not one in which the shoulders are rolled. Try to develop the movement into an Olympic weightlifting type pull with the bar kept close to the thighs. Without consciously trying to bend the arms, lift the shoulders as high as possible. 'Catch' the lowered bar on slightly bent thighs and repeat raising slightly on the toes during the pull. On the light day high repetitions should be used, building up to as many as 40 in one set (total exhaustion), bouncing the bar slightly off the thighs and shrugging as high as possible each time in a series of continuous repetitions. This initial exhaustive set should be followed by a similar performance to exhaustion followed by a final set of fewer, stricter repetitions without the bounce off the thighs. On the heavier day use the bouncing style with more poundage and lower repetitions. Using a shoulder width hand spacing the thumbs would be rubbed unmercifully if not kept over the bar.

Close Grip Chins

A V-Bar provides a better positioning for performing these chins. Incline the body backwards so that you can pull yourself up and try to connect your hands to your chest; resist on the way down and extend fully. Build up to 15 repetitions before adding any weighted resistance.

One Arm Row

Supporting one hand on a bench in a bentover position pull the dumbbell up close to the chest and lower slowly, twisting the front of the dumbbell in at the bottom. Consciously think about working the lats and raise the upper arms as high as possible. Work fast, almost alternating arms without pause throughout.

Seated Row

Requires a pulley arrangement at about waist level when seated on the floor. Secure the feet at an adequate distance from the machine to allow complete extension. Again, concentrate on the lats and pull the upper arms to the sides of the chest and well back. A narrow underhand grip pulldown on a normal lat machine can be substituted if the required pulley arrangement is not available.

Wide Grip Pulldown To Chest

Performed either seated or kneeling whilst facing the lat machine. Taking a wide grip pull the bar down to mid chest. Resist the weight on the return and extend fully.


Extended face down on the hyperextension bench lower body as far as possible and resume position level with floor keeping back flat. Arching beyond this position is not necessary and possibly injurious. Use weighted resistance beyond 15 repetitions holding a weight or short bar behind head.

Wrist Curl

Best to use an EZ-Bar. Sitting on a bench with arms extended along the thighs, knuckles down, drop the wrists and then raise them, flexing as much as possible.

Roman Chair Situps

Extend the body along the roman chair or hyperextension bench and keep the movement within the mid-range. Bend the body slightly backwards and then curl the body up in a short range movement. Weights can be held on the chest for added resistance.

Side Bend

Holding a dumbbell in one hand and keeping the trunk perfectly upright, bend sideways towards the dumbbell and return to the erect position. Alternate each side without rest, extending as fully as possible.

Program Details

Having considered in detail the underlying training philosophies, the techniques and the assistance exercises concerned with squatting and deadlifting, it is time to lay the program out in detail. The whole program is based on a four day a weeki workout schedule, taken for myself, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, although this could obviously be any combination of the same sequence of work and resting days. Progressing through a 10, 8, 5, 3, and 2 repetitions cycle for the key lifts, peaking to correspond normally with a contest, the cycle lasts for 14 weeks.

Tuesday (Heavy Upper Back and Forearm Work)

Close Grip Chins - 4 x max
One Arm Row - 4 x10
Seated Row - 4 x 10
Wide Grip Pulldown to Chest - 4 x 10
Forearm Curl - 5 x 10


Squat - Heavy, Competitive Style (see TABLE below)
Deadlift - Light (see table)
Round Back Rack Deadlift (see table)
Shrugs - Light 2 x 15-40, 1 x 10-20
Leg Extension - 3 x 10
Leg Curl - 3 x 10
Calf Raise - 3 x 15-25
Roman Chair Situps - 3 sets
Side Bends - 3 sets
Hyperextensions - (for first 8 weeks of cycle only) - 3 x 10-15

Friday (Lighter, Faster, Upper Back and Forearm Work)

Close Grip Chins - 3 x max
One Arm Row - 3 x 12
Seated Row - 3 x 12
Wide Grip Pulldown to Chest - 3 x 12
Forearm Curl - 4 x 12


Deadlift - Heavy, Competition Style (See TABLE)
Squat - Light (see table)
Shrugs - Heavy - 4 x 10-15
Leg Extension - 3 x 10
Leg Curl - 3 x 10
Calf Raise - 3 x 15-25
Roman Chair Situps - 3 sets
Side Bend - 3 sets
Hyperextensions (for first 8 weeks of cycle only) 3 x 10-15


Click to ENLARGE

The program layout is self-explanatory. Work all assistance exercises with speed and intensity without forsaking strict form, increasing weights only when the sets have been achieved satisfactorily. On the heavier lifts take more time between sets to ensure full recovery so that form and technique is not compromised, always staying slightly within yourself strengthwise.

When performing this cycle of workouts there are other important considerations. If you are not accustomed to the type of workload at the beginning start with less sets and gradually build up to the full amount. Exercise good sense in your choice of poundage throughout the whole cycle. Remember, for the first six weeks, the accent for the heavy squats and deadlifts still revolves somewhat around intensity combined with sensible poundages. Wait until all sets can be proficiently accomplished before increasing any weight, and then make only the increases you realistically feel capable of. Don't overextend yourself as this could lead to frustration and staleness. 

The deadlift schedule incorporated in the above program applies to what I consider to be the most practiced type of performance - that where the deadlift is an even effort throughout or where the general sticking point is near completion.

Sumo style deadlifters should follow it as it is, merely doing their sumo deadlifts on the heavy, competition style day.

Those lifters who, once getting the bar to the knees, finish the lift very strongly should make the following adjustment on the light deadlift day. Disregard the rack deadlifts, instead use an exaggerated round back, in the same principle, from the floor for all these sets. Again keeping all weights used below the regular deadlift poundages, and paying extra attention to warming up thoroughly. e.g., 11 weeks to contest: warm up, then 3x8 regular style, 8 weeks to contest: 2x10, 1x8, 3x8 all round backed deadlifts from the floor.


One of the keys to continual progress is an enthusiastic attitude. Becoming stale on a program affects this enthusiasm adversely. This program is designed to deter against any such retrogression but that does not guarantee that with some lifters it will not happen. Always LISTEN TO THE MESSAGES YOUR BODY IS GIVING YOU. If on the occasional day you just don't feel up to it, relax and pick up afresh on the next workout day, and don't be too eager to increase poundages. If you are not totally comfortable with a certain assistance exercise replace it with one that you prefer that has the same actions, or omit one or two if time and energy so dictates, e.g., forearm work if you have no grip trouble on the deadlift.

Any preparatory work before the cycle begins should center around the assistance exercises without including any competitive squats or heavy deadlifts, keeping the mind fresh while building the necessary muscle base.

Contest Day

At the contest conditions will invariably be different from those of a normal workout. Conditions such as:

Bodyweight loss
Knurling on the bar for deadlifting (it may not be as good as your training bar)
100 pound plates vs 45's
Nerves and heat
Visual Perception. You might be used to facing a wall in training
Correct adjustment of racks

Remember to take all these into account, plus how your warmups feel, before settling on a sensible choice of poundage for your first attempt. For warmup, don't exhaust yourself, take a little longer in between sets than you have been during workouts. Begin with a couple of very light sets to get the blood flowing and then make good increases using low repetitions. A safe opening attempt should be the poundage you did two doubles with in the final heavy workout. However, a word of warning. You should have kept slightly within yourself during all the heavy training lifts making sure they were good, strict, powerful lifts. Many lifters, especially on the squat, can sometimes hit a good groove, sometimes not. This should not be the case. Groove should be automatic, not hit or miss.

 Know and be honest with yourself and act accordingly. The same could also apply to the deadlift plus the contest might have taken more out of you than you think. Your final judgement should be from your strict warmups.

Try not to use anything in a contest you have not tried first in training. This advice refers to anything from style to new knee wraps, lifting suit, shoes, belt and drugs (from diuretics to speed).

Lifting Apparel and Accessories

Lifting Suit
The use of a lifting suit in squatting is a distinct advantage. It helps maintain correct style, gives support, helps prevent injuries and adds poundage to the lift. With many different types on the market it really boils down to personal preference. Make fure the suit you wear is working for you as it should, being tight in the legs, hips and over the shoulders, tailoring it if necessary to fit you personally in order to gain maximum advantage. It's advisable to have an extra identical suit with you at contests. For deadlifting such a tight suit is not necessary, however, a good snug suit giving some support can make you feel more solid.

10 cm or fractionally less than 4 inches is the maximum thickness allowed for a belt under the IPF rules. Most belts on the market conform to all the IPF regulations. I feel a good solid belt is a must for both squat and deadlift, pulled especially tight on the squat for added support. I prefer the one width 10 cm belts for both lifts, though some might prefer one a little narrower at the front for deadlifting.

Knee Wraps

Again, knee wraps are essential for providing support and applying a mechanical brake when squatting with heavy poundages. However, wearing knee wraps is not just a matter of bandaging the knee, there is more to it in order to gain maximum benefit. I always wrap in the following manner. Two revolutions completely above the knee cap, down and across and two revolutions completely below the knee cap, then gradually overlap revolutions straight across back over the knee to cover the previous wrapping and gradually again back down, pulling the wraps extremely tight. In addition, it's best to straighten and lock your knee to stabilize the knee cap during wrapping to minimize stress on the ligaments. Chalk the knees before wrapping, as this allows the wraps to bind better. Wrapping the knees for deadlifting, I believe, is unnecessary. A maximum length of 2 meters or 6 feet 6.75 inches and width of 8 cm or 3.2 inches is permitted under IPF rules and most wraps commercially available for powerlifting conform to these dimensions, and are all much alike.

Wrist Wraps
Wrapping the wrists for squatting helps support this complex joint from the pressures put on it whilst supporting the bar. The same width and half the length of the knee wrap is permitted by the IPF for this purpose.

Correct footwear can serve many functions, the only IPF regulation being that the heel cannot extend laterally. Choose a shoe for the squat that has a good nonslip sole and a heel that affords the best leverage for your style. In addition, I use a high boot that pulls tight around the ankle and shin thus restricting forward movement of the lower leg, helping to keep the knee over the instep during the squat. For deadlifting an extremely flat soled shoe produces a slightly stronger starting position, though for those lifters who naturally pull the bar into thighs, and often get stuck there, a tennis shoe with a slight heel might help in keeping the bar off the thighs to a certain degree. A good non-slip sole is essential for sumo deadlifting.

Essential for squatting to help secure the bar when held low on the shoulders.

As a training aid for deadlifting they should be used only when absolutely necessary by those lifters who have trouble with their grip. For shrugs they should be used on all sets to allow the exercise to be performed correctly.   

I prefer chalk over resin for the grip in deadlifting as it is less variable in securing a good grip. For the squat chalk the area of your T-shirt where the bar rests to give extra hold. In a contest the bar itself cannot be chalked for either lift.

Talcum Powder
Talc or baby powder is permitted on the thighs for deadlifting and certainly helps to reduce friction during the last stage of the lift.

"If it helps, sniff it," has always been my motto!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ed Giuliani on Training over 40 (1976)

Three part interview with Eddie Giuliani:

For want of a better word, Eddie Giuliani is a veteran. He's been competing in physique shows for 20 years, improving constantly and learning bodybuilding in a manner that cannot be achieved with less than 20 years of experience. Eddie has met and trained with so many great physique champions, and his knowledge of the sport is hard to equal. In this interview he talks about what he's learned about this sport he loves. We recorded it during the prejudging of the Gold's Classic physique   in November, 1976.

BR (Bill Reynolds): Just to jump into this easily, let's start with a few of your statistics. Height? Weight? Age? Where are you from?

EG (Eddie Giuliani): I'm 42, 5'6" and 165 pounds. Over the years I've been up and down the bodyweight scale from 205 to 148, but my current weight is compatible for me and my age. As you get older, metabolism slows down and you have to watch your bodyweight more. Right now I'm living in California and I've been out here for seven years. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and came out here for better living conditions. Of course, it also suits my bodybuilding.

BR: So the readers will know where you're coming from, what titles have you won?

EG: As an AAU competitor, I took Mr. New York City, Mr. New York State, Mr. Tri-State, Mr. Eastern America, Mr. Atlantic Coast and a sectional Junior Mr. America title. Coming out to California and competing with the IFBB, I've won Mr. Western America, Mr. Pacific Coast, my height class in Mr. World last year, and my height class in Mr. America.

BR: Let's get into the diet, because it's obviously a big influence in your life. In your old photos you were rather smooth even for contests, while now your forte is deep cuts. How do you approach your diet?

EG: To start with, Dr. Michael Walczak has helped, especially in controlling my thyroid.

"Nutrition and Well-Being"

"Nutrition - Applied Personally"

I'm not too severe in my diet, but I do limit myself. Most of my carbohydrates are consumed in the morning, with about 30% of the total intake at lunch and very little for dinner. The carbs are used to train on, because I don't believe you can train on just protein. You have to have fuel foods, and protein isn't a fuel food. A lot of guys come into the gym after eating steak and eggs, and they get bad workouts, because you really can't train on straight protein. You're better off training on dairy products, grains, fruit and fats because they last longer in the body.

BR: So, exactly where do you get your carbohydrates?

EG: In the morning, I take my carbs from dairy products, primarily yogurt. I also use natural grain cereals and fruit. As for breakfast, I've been using about 10 eggs a day for the past three years and my cholesterol level hasn't gone up.

BR: What supplements do you prefer?

I'm not very high now on food supplements. For years - and we're talking about a guy who's been a competing bodybuilder for 20 years - I was very high on supplements. You name 'em and I've taken them, in both high and low dosages. About three years ago, however, I got to a point where I wanted to see if my body would function on good food instead of the supplements. After cutting them down to a bare minimum, the first month it bothered me quite a bit, although I think that was probably mental. I blamed everything on it - headaches, bad workouts, you name it. After about three months I noticed I was feeling better than ever, so now I don't take so much. It's maybe 1000 milligrams of C, 1000 international units of E, and maybe some minerals. Food, rest and a good mental attitude play a far more important part than massive supplement dosages.

BR: When I interviewed Dr. Walczak, he stressed that bodybuilders should be eating a balanced diet. How does your diet reflect that philosophy?

EG: There's no such thing as meat and water before a contest. I've never believed in cutting carbohydrates down below 30 grams a day, although many people think I go on a zero carb diet for cuts. That meat and water, zero carb trip has been proven to be one of the worst things in the world. You kill brain cells with it, and if you don't have a balanced diet the protein won't work right. It can't be assimilated or digested properly. Everything works in balance, and if you don't have a balanced diet your system suffers. This is especially true of guys who are on steroids. If they're not on a balanced diet, they're going to kill themselves. As an example, some men cut back on water because they say steroids cause fluid retention. Instead, you need to take an excess amount of water to cleanse the kidneys and get rid of the poisons.

BR: What do you eat each day?

EG: Every day I try to consume grains, dairy products and eggs, starches like a baked potato, a green leafy vegetable for roughage, as well as the usual protein foods of meat, fish and poultry. I try to eat two salads a day with oil and vinegar dressing. I don't overeat, and overeating is the biggest problem for fat people. If you ate one piece of pizza or one scoop of ice cream every other day you'd never get fat. What happens instead is that when you go to a pizza parlor you want to eat six slices, and you want two heaping dishes of ice cream. People who eat like this, with this attitude, get fat. But if you can eat a well-balanced diet you can eat the garbage foods if they're kept down to moderate levels.

BR: Let's turn to your training. One quote I can recall from a magazine article about you was, "I always try to get on a set before my body is ready." How accurate is this as a true reflection of your training philosophy?

EG: It's pretty close. Most of the guys who don't make gains in the gym tend to baby themselves. They cry a little and say they're training hard when they're not. They think they're over-trained, but they're not. If we had a coach - and lack of good coaching is what's wrong with this sport - the coach could tell us we're not doing enough. Instead, we have to be take our own word for it. The problem is similar to a bodybuilder looking at himself in the mirror and only seeing his best parts. You see what you want to see, so when a critic comes along and tells you objectively what you need to improve, you almost get insulted. In general, guys do not train hard enough to get the muscles they want. I've seen Arnold and Franco train for years,and when they train they definitely put 100% into it. The average bodybuilder babies himself, so my advice has always been to go on to your next set before you think you're ready to go. When you think you need an extra minute, that's when you have to go, because you can use lighter weights and get the same effect. Muscles don't have minds of their own, so they don't know how much weight you're using. They only know when you're working hard, so if you go before you're ready you can use lighter weights and better form. The happy byproduct of this is less injuries.

BR: In general terms, how do you set up your training?

EG: Year round I train six times per week for two to three hours per day. That's once a day, as opposed to some who go twice. Each body part receives from 15 to 20 sets, and I try to go very fast. One thing I do is spend at least a half hour every day on my waist. That could be anywhere from 800 to 1000 total reps, picking two or three exercises. I don't run and when I leave the gym I do no other physical exercise. Doing a half hour of waist work conditions the whole body. It does attack the nervous system, but it cuts up the waist and the whole body. You're burning a tremendous amount of calories when you work the waist with reps this high.

BR: Besides the waist work every day, how often do you train the other body parts?

EG: Three times a week, although for a month or six weeks at a time I've each body part twice a week. That's maybe because I'm hurt, because I'm trying to put on five or six pounds, or maybe in the winter months when I'm feeling a little lazy. Normally, I need three training sessions a week for each bodypart, six for abs.

BR: Do you train much differently in the off season as opposed to just prior to a contest?

EG: Yes. Before a contest I may only add five sets per body part, but the workout are much more intense. You go quicker and you squeeze more. You do the same things with the same weight and reps but it's done more mentally, with more concentration and focus. You don't muscle it up so much. You pull it up from the mind, and there's a big difference. You squeeze out the reps. You burn more, and you try to concentrate harder on making the muscles show through the skin by contracting them hard. That all comes from the mind, and that's the difference when it comes to getting ready for a contest.

BR: So that the readers can see how you train, why don't you pick a favorite area and go into detail how you would work it for a contest?

EG: Let's say chest. I start with bench presses for about six sets, singularly - no supersets. Then I'd go to inclines supersetted with flyes. This is about two months before a contest, and I'd do this type of routine for eight weeks. After the inclines and flyes, I'd superset dumbbell pullovers with dips. Normally, not pre-contest, I'd do only bench presses, inclines, flyes, and pullovers, with no super-setting and five sets of each. One thing I believe is that super-setting is most appropriate for contest training. You can't really grow all that much with rapid same-muscle super-setting, you can only contract, shape and refine. Even though it feels like it's growing because you're pushing a lot of blood into the area, pumping is not breaking down tissue. I'd like readers to remember that. I can make a guy pump with a 20-lb dumbbell, but he'll never get big arms that way. I can make him do enough reps that he can't even curl it anymore because there's so much blood in the area, but he's not breaking down muscle tissue. So, if you have to superset, do chest/back, biceps/triceps, quads/hamstrings and so on. Antagonistic muscles, superset two muscles, not two exercises for the same muscle when trying to grow.

BR: How long does you chest workout take you?

EG: About 45 minutes for off season, much less before a contest.

BR: And what rep range do you favor on your exercises?

EG: I try to rep out, and that's very important. Low reps just don't build quality muscle. So, it's anywhere between 10 and 12 reps. If I can not get the reps I'll have a partner help me if I don't want to reduce the weight. He can help me force the reps up for the last two or three. If there's nobody around I'll just take the weight off.

BR: There are a large number of bodybuilders over 40 and still in shape, as you are. Do you recognize any age limitations in bodybuilding?

EG: It's hard to say, because we have a new era in bodybuilding. I can think back ten years to a point when an over 40 contest would only draw two or three guys. Today, all of a sudden, guys are sustaining their muscle tone longer and scores of men look great well into their forties. Maybe it's because we're more diet conscious, or maybe the training methods are better. Whatever it is, with this new era of bodybuilding men can keep going well past my age of 42 and still be making gains.

BR: In the 20 odd years since you began competing to now, how has your training approach changed?

EG: When I go into the gym and train now I try not to waste any time, because I have a lot of other things to do, and training has become more sophisticated. I have gone back to basics, because I don't believe in pump exercises like a lot of the cable movements so many favor. I do the movements that build muscle. The basic change overall has been to train quicker. I can't get much stronger, although I used to enjoy pushing heavy iron. Now I've trained my mind to go quicker, and you get more quality muscle this way, because you burn more fat. I've just sped up the whole routine.

BR: Do you have any advice for the bodybuilder of today who might like to train for the long run as you have?

EG: They have a better shot at it today than when I was young, because the sport has become so much more popular. One day soon we'll even see a number of professional bodybuilders able to make a consistent living by endorsing products, selling courses and giving exhibitions. He should stay with the basic exercises - squats, benches, presses, curls, chins and so on. I believe in complete extension and contraction of a muscle on all exercises. The cramp movements just don't build muscle.

BR: Let's take the example of a bodybuilder who does great things and then just drops out. What's the difference between him and his training and a guy like you who keeps at it year after year? What's the crucial factor that you have and he doesn't?

EG: That's within. It's motivation. It's strong-willed people. Evidently the guys who dropped out were never totally in love with the sport and the training at the beginning. They were never totally involved, and they did it maybe because they had a good foundation to start with and they won the first two or three shows they entered. Maybe it was too easy and they never had to work for it very hard. All of a sudden when the competition starts getting keener they can't handle the pressure and they get out. You have to be totally involved and devoted to the sport to hang around the sport a long time.

BR: There must be some way to make the training more enjoyable than brutal, too. What do you think?

EG: The only way you can do that is not take it too seriously. After being in shows for 20 years, and after winning more than 150 trophies I have concluded that you can't take physique shows totally seriously. When you walk into a room full of contestants, one man wins and everyone else loses. It's easy to win and it's hard to lose, and if you can't accept defeat you have to get out of the sport. It's not a team effort. You can't ever blame a defeat on anyone but yourself. The guys who get too serious about it don't hang around long enough. What I'm trying to say is that you have to be serious about training but not so serious that it lacks proper perspective in your life.

BR: What's it like to work out at Gold's Gym?

EG: When you train at Gold's Gym you automatically fall into a pattern of training with champions. A lot of it rubs off. There's motivation and spirit in the gym. It's like belonging to the Cincinnati Reds this year in the World Series. Even if you're not as good as the first line players you still get out there and try hard, because you don't want to let anyone down and you don't want to bring down the level of energy. You're with the best and you know it, so you start to concentrate a little more. When you're in Gold's Gym you have all these men around you who have won Americas, Universes and Olympias, and you get a real fever to train . . .

There are really no secrets to reaching your best other than dedication.
If you have no patience you have no dedication.
You've got to love it, and
if you love it,
you'll do it.              

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Partial Arts - John Meadows

Conventional wisdom says the only way to be a man is to train through a full range of motion with every exercise you do in the gym. You've been told for years that if you don't get every inch out of every exercise, you're slacking and you're not getting the whole benefit out of the work you're putting in. Quarter and half reps are for half men, goes the refrain. Even worse, they're considered amateur moves performed by cheaters who are too weak to handle the weight they're using. 

You've probably been told to stick to full-range training since the day you started lifting weights. For the most part, this is solid advice, but if you're looking to stimulate growth and crazy gains in your musculature, it's time to scrap the idea that partial lifts are a waste of effort. Instead, understand that partial lifting is a real technique that, when utilized properly, can yield immense benefits no matter how experienced you are in the gym. You just have to know why - and how - to do them.

Halfway, Not Half-Assed

Conventional wisdom makes an excellent point when it comes to partials, at least in terms of how most regular gym guys do them. Typically, when you see a guy in a commercial gym doing half reps on an exercise, it's because he can't handle the weight - but it's also due to the fact that his ego won't let him drop down to a load he can actually handle with a full range of motion.

That's why you see so many young guys putting three plates on each side of a barbell and squatting with a six-inch range of motion. Sure, they're technically performing partials, but they're doing them for all the wrong reasons. There's definitely some utility in it - they're at least getting used to bearing heavy loads - but the rationale for all that is far beyond the scope of what they actually understand about training. 

Think of partial lifts as targeted segments of your entire range of motion. Yes, you want to work through the full range with any exercise, but adding partials allows you to bombard specific sections of that full range, attacking muscle groups and areas you can't hit as hard when you always do these moves as generally designated.

Time Under Tension

One of the biggest keys to muscular growth and mass gain is the time you spend under tension. this is the amount of time your muscles are actually being taxed by the tension provided with the weights you're working with. Adding partials at the end of a full-range set increases this time under tension by allowing you to attack the inches in your range of motion where you're at your strongest.

For example, what's the strongest point in your range of motion when you're doing any type of biceps curl? It happens at the bottom. When you've just performed a hard set of 12 hammer curls or spider curls, your full range of motion is exhausted, but you'll still be able to move the weight for several inches out of the bottom of the lift. That's because you're stronger there than you are in the middle or that top. Honest. Just ask the ghost of Larry Scott. 

Intentionally throwing in partials when the rest of your range of motion is exhausted will increase your time under tension, giving you the extra work you need to promote more growth.

Play to Your Strengths

The older you get, the more you start to realize that the full-range versions of many exercises just aren't all  that healthy. Ask any guy over 35 or so about doing behind-the-neck presses or high-incline barbell bench pressing and he'll feel a twinge in each rotator cuff just thinking about it.

Why fight this process? No matter how much you read and hear about it improving your bench press technique, incline barbell benching is still going to place massive amounts of stress on your entire shoulder complex, especially if you're using reasonably heavy weight and lower the bar all the way down to your chest. The strongest section of your range of motion with this move starts an inch or two above your chest, running to a point just short of your lockout. Given a choice between dumping the exercise altogether or building on an existing strength, why not opt for the latter?

Injury prevention aside, the idea of simply activating a muscle group - and doing nothing else but activating it - is a powerful one. With some exercises, you glean the most benefit at the exact beginning of your range of motion, just by setting the weight in motion.

Rear deltoid raises are a perfect example of this, and I've found it extremely effective to work this muscle group by doing giant partial sets that involve only the beginning or the range of motion. This will allow you to use heavier weights and pack on muscle significantly faster.

Think about it. And find your own ways to use the art of partials in your bodybuilding routines.


An Early Robert Kennedy Article

January 18/1968

Three Important Weight Gaining Factors
(Without "Tissue Drugs")
Robert Kennedy

Gaining weight is a very real problem to many weight trainers, especially those in he early stages of bodybuilding. Many believe that there is a closely guarded secret which enables only a few 'in the know' to gain weight. Others firmly believe that no matter what they do they will never manage to add even a single pound of added muscle. The problem that so many have of fighting off excess pounds is baffling to the skinny guy. He believes that whatever he eats or drinks - however much he exercises or rests, for him, gaining additional weight is impossible.

Actually, gaining weight is not hard. But it does entail the following of certain patterns of behavior on the part of the individual. Some dedication is needed.

Basically three rules must be followed. If you, a a person wishing to gain weight are unable to 'see' yourself following these rules, then forget about gaining extra pounds of muscle. It can't be done. You will only be frustrating yourself by only half trying. Follow half the rules of the game and you will get nowhere. 

The three considerations, as you might have guessed if you are a regular reader of bodybuilding magazines and manuals are: nutrition, rest, and exercise. These essential factors and their application control the way we look, feel, and act.

1) Nutrition

The food we eat is of tremendous importance. By its quantity control anybody in normal health can gain or lose as much as a pound a day. However, this gain would entail extreme measures. A person wanting additional bodyweight should be content with a gain of a pound or two a week. Though at first this might not sound much, it is in fact rapid.

Bot Hoffman, editor and publisher, a man who has helped more skinny people gain weight than any other living person, gave advice and help that enabled under class-weight heavyweight Olympic lifter Jim Bradford gain 25 lbs of additional bodyweight in one week. Yes, it's a fact, Bradford gained almost four pounds each day. Of course, Hoffman does not advocate that weight is put on so rapidly, but he does relate the story to illustrate just what can be done if one's diet is substantially increased. Too, additional weight needs to be consolidated, i.e., plenty of strenuous exercise after a considerable gain has been made, at which time no extra weight is added to the frame.

It doesn't much matter what you eat as long as the foods are wholesome and nutritious. Also include adequate fruits, vegetables and of course that all-important protein. Graduate your milk intake to your present degree of skinniness. Those of you whose abdominals are bursting through your skin might well benefit by drinking up to a gallon a day. However, the more normal needs will be satisfied with half that amount or even less.

If you want to gain weight quickly, then eat or drink something nutritious every two hours during the day. Don't go in for huge meals but rather partake of smaller snacks more regularly.

You will not gain weight unless you consume a surplus of calories. If you establish a caloric equilibrium, just the right amount of calories, you will not gain weight. If you have fewer calories than are needed for your energy requirements, the body will call on its own reserves of fat and even muscle and you will lose weight. And if you supply the body with more than the required amount of calories, you will gain weight. However, to gain muscular bodyweight you need both enough calories and sufficient protein. If either calories or protein are not present in sufficient quantities, you will not gain solid weight.

2) Rest

Outside his vocation, the aspiring weight gainer should endeavor to get as much rest and relaxation as possible. No one is going to add much weight if he plays tennis before his workout and goes out dancing and partying afterwards.

Eight or nine hours of sleep are required at this stage. Set yourself a regular bedtime so that your body can adjust to form the habit of sleep.

If you are the nervous type, always on the go, then make it a point to concentrate on trying to relax. Worry and tension can ruin your chances of adding weight. Stretch your legs out when your are sitting down. Don't walk about unnecessarily.

3) Exercise

At least as important as the other two factors are, especially if you are concerned about your additional bodyweight being true muscle, is your actual training routine.

Your workout should be designed to incorporate the basic movements of bodybuilding. Squats, rowing and pressing exercises, also heavy movements which involve large groups of muscles, such as deadlifts and other pulling varieties like cleans and high-pulls. Also, your workout must be built on progressive lines. More and more weight should be added to your exercises poundages whenever possible as you become stronger and heavier. Also, abdominal work should be included once you've established a regular habit of adding weight, so that your waist never gets out of condition.

If you really want to gain weight then make a point of paying special attention to the above factors. Make sure you are eating and resting sufficiently and of course give the weights a good bashing three or four times a week.

Coming soon . . . 

 Eating for Strength and Muscular Development (1977)
Norman Zale



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guy's Logical Split Routine - Dave Draper's IronOnLine

Here's a very nice three way split that features antagonistic superset training coupled with periodic pure strength training workouts every third time around the track. I've used variations of this excellent idea in the past, and plan on using it in the future providing I don't grow tired of the wonder of it all and forget to wake up one morning.

Feel free to rationally alter the selection of exercises, as well as their set/rep schemes. But then, if you need to be reminded of that, perhaps you shouldn't be altering anything just yet. Yes, the scorn of mocking lips and jeering of this one-man rabble. Onward, Upward, Beyond, My Friend.

Monday: Chest/Back

Aerobic warmup
Abs: 2 quad sets, 1 min. rest between each of them.
Weighted Incline Crunches directly to ->
Alt. Incline Leg Raises directly to ->
Rope Tucks directly to->
Side Bends. 

Bench Press directly to ->
Bentover Row.
5 sets of 10-ish reps, a 60-ish seconds between supersets.

Incline DB Flyes ->
V-Grip Pulldowns.
Sets of reps.

Shrugs ->
Reps grouped together in sets!

Gripper work.

Wednesday: Shoulders/Arms

Same Intro.

DB Presses - 
warmups with progressively heavier weights, then 4 or so x 10 or something.

3-Way Seated Lateral Raises - 
Just what it sounds like.
Several sets of reps.

Standing BB Curls directly to ->
Overhead Rope Pushouts.

Incline Alt DB Curls ->
Weighted Dips.

Alt Hammer Curls ->
Rope Pushdowns.

Barbell Wrist Curls ->
Reverse BB Wrist Curls.

Wrist Rockers directly to ->
Wrist Roller. 
This one can hurt if you let it. 

Friday: Legs

Same Intro

Leg Extensions directly to ->
Leg Curls.

Squats - 
2 or so warmup sets, then 4 or so work sets of reps.

Leg Press or Front Squat or Jefferson Lift or One Legged Squat or Step Up or Not. 

Semi-Stiff Legged Deadlift.

Seated Calf Raze (that's almost funny, eh) directly to ->
Standing Calf Raise.

Pinch Grip, go from one hand directly to the other two. 
I meant one. 

Neck Harness. 


start the routine over on Sunday so it's the same deal on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Yes, it's an actual every-other-day training layout, and not dependent on the 7-day cycle. 

On the Saturday after that last Thursday you begin the three lower-rep strength training workouts - 


Saturday: Chest/Back

Same intro.

Bench Press - 
3 or so progressive warmup sets, then
5 sets of 3.

Incline BB Press - 
3 x 3.

Weighted Chins - 
warmup, then
5 x 3.

End Bar Rows - 
4 x 4.

BB Shrugs - 
3 x 3.

Gripper Work.

Monday: Shoulders/Arms

Same intro.

Power Cleans - 
2 or so progressive warmup sets, then
6 x 3, that's 6 sets of 3 reps.

Standing Overhead Press - 
warmup, then
5 x 4 reps. 

Standing BB Curl - 
warmup, then
5 x 4.

Weighted Dips - 
warmup, then
wait for it . . . 
5 x 4.

Wrist Roller.

Wednesday: Legs 

Same intro.

Bench Squats - 
2 or so progressive warmup sets, then
7 sets of 3.

Deadlift - 
warmups, then
6 x 3.

Seated Calf Raze (oftentimes a laugh can be had from the incessant and relentless repetition of an oh-too-human situation. A good filmic example of this could be a man running down the street to catch a bus, falling down hard on both  his knees causing his pants to tear and his knees to bleed. The man slowly looks downward to see his bleeding knees, then even more slowly looks up and mouths "Owie." The blood continues to run from his knees slowly and he repeats the word over and over again slowly for a period of at least 3 to 4 minutes, not including the running and falling time. This kind of slow, repetitive, almost torturous humor can be used to trigger laughter in certain people, especially those who tend to be prone to reading long lines of words that basically only waste the reader's time and say nothing. Strange, isn't it.

6 x 6.

Neck Work.

And now we begin at the top of the superset cycle again. 
Trust me, it's quite an interesting layout, especially when you know yourself well enough to play around with it while you're at it. Or, you could always choose one lift a day and relentlessly hammer away at it without variation. I've even written a fascinating poem about just such an approach!

Kettlebell Swing 

Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing, Kettlebell Swing, 
Kettlebell Swing, Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing, Kettlebell Swing 
Kettlebell Swing, Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing, Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,

Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing, Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,

Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing,
Kettlebell Swing Kettlebell Swing . . . 



Monday, April 21, 2014

Excerpt from "Weight Resistance Yoga"

If you’re looking for a link between the muscles and the spirit,  
Weight Resistance Yoga might be what you’re looking for.

"The mistake which many physical culturists make is dividing the body into fragments with their "Knees Bend!" "Trunk Forward Bend!" "Eyes Right!" and so on. When I have asked you to turn your attention to a special part, it was with the object of exploring it, and not of exercising it as a thing separate from the rest of you."
 - From Inside Yourself  by Louise Morgan.

"Maybe you have read the Bhagavad Gita, where we are asked to keep the body in a rhythmic, harmonious state without any variations between the right and the left, the front and the back, measuring from the central line of the body which runs from the middle of the throat to the middle of the anus."
 - From The Tree of Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar.

You can spot musclebound and unevenly developed weightlifters without even seeing their massive chests and rounded shoulders. As they trundle away from you on the gym floor, a small telltale sign betrays them: their hands facing you. This cartoonish trait results from overdeveloping the chest muscles to the point where they pull on the shoulders, causing the arms to rotate inward, which twists the hands around until the palms nearly face back. (In his desire to express his virility, a friend's teenage son, who very recently started lifting weights at a gym, has begun to 'ape' this mannerism of maladaption and the accompanying lumbering gait - even at home, where nobody is impressed.)

In contrast to the pectoralis major (the thick, fan-shaped muscle that makes up the bulk of the chest muscles), the infraspinatus is decidedly not a glamor muscle. Only part of it can be seen (on the upper back below the posterior deltoid and the spine of the shoulder blade), and it isn't very big. Because it's not much to show off, weight lifters tend to ignore it. It is, however, the largest of the rotator cuff muscles - those muscles originating on the shoulder blade that provide stability to the humeral socket by interweaving over the shoulder joint capsule and inserting on the head of the upper arm. Alone among the rotator cuff muscles, though, the infraspinatus has another critical function: along with the teres minor and posterior and middle fibers of the deltoid, it pulls the shoulder back, thereby strengthening the upper back and opening up the chest.

The choreography of the weight-resistance exercise routine is determined by several factors. Upper-body joint movements are worked one day, lower-body joint movements, the next day. Exercises increase in difficulty at the beginning of the routine and decrease in difficulty at the end of a routine. Each series of exercises revolves around a different joint. Exercises within a series may complete a range of motion or may work slightly different planes of motion. But no organizing principles are more important to the weight-resistance yoga exercise routine than balance (pairing opposing muscles) and symmetry (pairing left and right muscles).

Which is why all of us who perform an exercise that moves the upper arm in the horizontal plane toward the chest (to strengthen the pectoralis major), such as the bench press variations, should also perform an exercise that moves the upper arm in the horizontal plane away from the chest (to strengthen the infraspinatus), such as the high row with cables (a lot like a face pull). These two shoulder joint exercises - one pushing and one pulling - when paired together, are called opposing, contralateral, or balancing exercises (analogous to weight-surrender yoga's neutralizing or counter poses).

And which is why if we perform a high row for the right side, we should perform a high row for the left side. In performing symmetrical exercises, we establish on either side of the spine (the left/right dividing line of the body) similarity of arrangement - a correspondence not only of right and left muscles in size and shape, but also, more importantly, of right and left bones in aligned positions.

[Parts of this book at first appear to state obvious, 'I already know all this' observations; however, an individual's weight lifting behavior when viewed objectively can almost without fail turn up training imbalances and potential future problems, especially when the trainee is participating in sports which inherently lend themselves to specific performance tasks and not health needs.]

Around 1490 Leonardo da Vinci completed his famous pen-and-ink drawing of the naked, curly-headed, tender-looking figure with perfect proportions named Vitruvian Man. Vitruvian Man's perfection is demonstrated by his ability to fit his body to the perfect geometric forms - a circle and a square - by opening his legs and raising his outstretched arms in a kind of jumping jack.

In this image, in which a naturalistically rendered man incongruously stands on and touches a circle and square that enclose him the perfect proportions of the human body become an analogy for the harmony, the ordered whole, of the cosmos.

In practicing weight-resistance yoga, we don't achieve perfect head, limb and trunk proportions. (Of course, there's no such thing as a universal set of proportions for the human body. Rarely is a man's height exactly the length of twenty-four palms or are his outspread arms exactly equal to his height. We all have individual variations. In any case, there's nothing we can do to change our proportions.) Still, by performing strengthening exercises for the front and back, left and right, upper and lower, and exterior and interior of the body, we forge a body that's balanced and symmetrical - a body configured to he harmony of its own unique skeletal structure. Possessing a musculature that harmoniously arranges our skeletal structure allows us to sit or stand in comfortable and effortless positions. When muscles properly align bones, the strain, fatigue, and weakness caused by habitually faulty alignment (what we commonly call poor posture) are eliminated.

David Gordon White, scholar of the alchemical body, argues against the interpretation of yoga as solely "a meditative practice through which the absolute [is] to be found by turning the mind and senses inward, away from the world." (David Gordon White, “‘Open’ and ‘Closed’ Models of the Human Body in Indian Medical and Yogic Traditions,” Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 2, no. 1, (2006): 2.)

In opposition to this closed model, he asserts, there's a yoga tradition of an open model of the human body - a model that links the body and the cosmos. But these two models aren't dichotomous. As yoga scholar Mircea Eliade argues: "In withdrawing from profane human life, the yogin finds another that is deeper and truer - the very life of the cosmos."   [Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1969), 55.] Thusly, taking a static bodily position, breathing rhythmically, closing off the distractions of sensory activity, concentrating on a single point, and fixing the flux of consciousness are explained "by the intention to homologize [make or show to have the same relation, relative position, or structure], the body and life of man with the celestial bodies and cosmic rhythms, first of all with the sun and moon."

In having the sensation (produced by coupling weight-resistance yoga upper- and lower-body workouts) or our major bones precisely fitting together and our major muscles being superbly toned and relaxed, we experience direct knowledge of the harmony within our own body. Through contemplation of this bodily harmony - which is to say, the essence of our body - we experience (it's impossible to prevent!) a correspondence with the harmony of the cosmos, accompanied by a great calm.

On Gravity: The Overhead Press

"The movable object . . . adds on to its previous equable and indelible motion that downward tendency which it has from its own heaviness."
 - From Two New Sciences, Including Centers of Gravity and Force of Percussion by Galileo Galilei. 

Atlas led his fellow Titans in a losing battle against Zeus, the king of the gods. As punishment, Zeus forced Atlas to support the heavens on his shoulders forever. Curiously, many works of art show Atlas bearing the weight of Earth instead. Perhaps this is because we mortals so often feel the burden of carrying the world on our shoulders.

Atlas was made to stand in the northwest region of what is now Africa, where the Atlas mountains were named for him. Many weight lifters, perhaps intuitively emulating Atlas, stand like a mountain when performing a press. The risk in lifting a heavy weight directly above the shoulders in this unsupported position lies in the tendency to use the lower back, an area that should be stabilized, to help thrust up the weight, causing lower back strain. Using a shoulder press machine focuses the contraction on the prime movers - the anterior, middle, and posterior fibers of the deltoid muscle - by restricting unnecessary joint movement and stabilizing the body. As is generally the case, performing the exercise with a machine is safer than with free weights.

Yet what makes free-weight exercises dangerous - their dependence on muscular coordination - is also what makes them advantageous. By involving stabilizing and guiding muscles to maintain control, free-weight exercises incorporate the use of more muscles and more closely mimic the required movements of everyday tasks. Free-weight exercises are only truly dangerous when they're practiced and performed without strict attention to correct form. The considerable stress placed on the lower back by the unsupported shoulder press can be avoided by strongly co-contracting the lower back and abdominal muscles (or by reducing the weight or by sitting on a high incline bench) to keep the trunk stable.

Because free-weight exercises make use of gravity and not mechanical resistance, they are used to best effect when they optimally oppose gravity. Gravity, unlike the wind and other forces encountered by the body, behaves consistently and predictably; we have only to adapt to it by orienting ourselves in space. To optimally oppose gravity, we have to adjust our body (often with the aid of benches) to create a trajectory for our arms that requires shoulder, upper back, and chest muscles to overcome the greatest resistive force. (The path may put the weight load parallel to gravity, for example, in the front arm raise; diagonal to gravity, for example, in the shoulder diagonal raise; or perpendicular to gravity, for example, in the incline bench press.) As a consequence, during the course of performing a free-weight, upper-body exercise routine, which may comprise a dozen or so exercises, we find ourselves constantly repositioning our body and moving our arms at various angles. It's these alert, direct encounters with resisting the pull toward Earth's center that provide us with a unique opportunity to reflect on gravity.

By reflection on gravity I don't mean the study of gravity or even the mulling over of the essence of gravity but rather an opening up to gravity, an awareness of how gravity affects us. Performing the overhead press may be only a hint, I admit, of the awareness of gravity that we would have in a rocket ship during lift off when the gravitational force to which our body is subjected is so great that it presses against our face, making it rubbery, or in an earthquake, when the ground before us suddenly opens up, hurling us down into a quarter mile-long crevasse. Nevertheless, while performing free-weight strengthening exercises we weight-resistance yogins have a keen sense of gravity on Earth. Especially during the overhead press. In no other exercise do we resist gravity so clearly or mightily.

We could, of course, contemplate the effects of gravity during any activity - say, setting plates down on a table of putting the plates back in a cupboard. When we're going about our daily tasks, though, we can't allow ourselves to be bothered by thoughts about gravity. There's too much to get done. Unlike daily activities which merely happen to involve gravity, lifting weights in the gymnasium lends itself to reflection on gravity, not only because it demands attentiveness to gravity and great effort against gravity but because it's stripped of everyday utility.

We could also go through our lives taking our movements with and against gravity for granted. But we shouldn't, for to pay attention to and control our interactions with gravity - just as with our breathing - is to reflect on our very existence.

All objects attract each other with a force that's directly proportional to their masses. This law of gravity, discovered by Isaac Newton, applies to any object with mass (and, as was subsequently discovered, even to light) whether on Earth or in space. Because the force of Earth's gravitational attraction on the objects in its sphere is so much greater than the force of the objects (put simply, the objects are simply outweighed), we observe gravity as the force of Earth pulling objects down toward its center.

With the startling discovery of the universality of gravitation, we came to realize that seemingly unrelated things on and near Earth are alike. The moon spinning across the heavens. (If it weren't for its great velocity, the moon, like an iron ball shot out of a cannon, would eventually fall to Earth.) An apple falling from a tree to the ground. (For that matter, an apple lying on the ground. The force of gravity even acts on stationary objects resting on Earth's surface.) An atom. (If you dropped an atom, it would fall to the ground, just like an apple.) They're all affected by gravity - in this case, the great pull of Earth on objects within its sphere. (And what is Earth, after all, but a collection of atoms acting together to create on immense pull?)

Needless to say, human beings are subject to Earth's gravity, too. We continually oppose or surrender to gravity throughout our lives - for example, when lifting a heavy load and when lying down, respectively. In fact, we not only interact with gravity but have been formed by gravity. As a member of a species that evolved from water to land, we had to develop systems of structural support and locomotion that could adopt and even thrive in a terrestrial environment characterized, in part, by the resistance of its surface.

Insofar as we adjust in some way to Earth's gravity, we humans are brethren with all living things. For that matter, by being subject to Earth's gravity, we are like all things in Earth's sphere, inorganic as well as organic. We all have weight. We're all pulled down. We're all part of what in yoga is called tamas, inertia, heaviness, or sluggishness - one of the three gunas (the other two are rajas, motion, energetic action, or restlessness, and sattwa, moderation, orderliness, or harmony). These three qualities compose prakriti, the ordinary material world (reality manifested to the senses). We're all a part of this primordial matter. It is creation itself. In yoga it's commonly referred to as the avatar of prakriti. We are all born of it, and we all return to it.



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