Saturday, June 20, 2015

Speed Training for Bodybuilders - Timothy Seavy (1991)

The iron community heard a certain amount of talk lately about the value of speed/strength training for athletes in explosive-oriented sports such as shot putt, Olympic weightlifting, football and sprinting. Clearly, if an athlete must be able to accelerate rapidly for his event, it makes sense to include movements involving rapid acceleration and other forms of speed work in training. This style of training, however, may also be beneficial to the bodybuilder.

Because many bodybuilders may be unfamiliar with the mechanics of speed/strength exercises in general and variable-velocity training in particular, why not take a moment and explore these two modes of weight training and discover what they might contribute to your routine?

As the term "speed training" implies, the major objective is to consciously teach the muscles to contract as rapidly as possible within a set period of time, thus enhancing reaction time while recruiting more fast-twitch, anaerobic muscle fibers -- those fibers that are most often associated with hypertrophy. General recommendations are that the time frame should be anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds with a poundage that allows you to do 12 to 20 repetitions as quickly as possible. 

Needless to say, this type of training is totally rigorous. Because your muscles are forced to move faster than they are accustomed to, entire bands of fibers left unstimulated by the slow-and-steady tempo get a most dramatic and searing excitation, meaning that the appropriate muscles and central nervous system respond accordingly and adapt to new and greater types of exercise. In effect, you increase the "educational capacity" of the organism by varying the curriculum to include differing -- rather than constant -- velocities.

A weekly session of this sort of training would benefit any bodybuilder, especially those who have difficulty adding size. If you work out at the same tempo month and month, how can you expect to stress all of the various fibers within a muscle? You can't. So you should mix not only sets and repetitions, but also the rhythms you use.

Not all muscles of the body, however, respond equally well to this slash-and-burn training style, primarily because the element of intensity is so high -- you must generate tremendous forces in order to keep that bar humming. In general, speed training is tailor-made for large muscles, such as the quadriceps, latissimus dorsi and pectoralis major, because these exercises call upon the primary leverages of the body. By comparison, areas such as the deltoids, biceps and triceps are far weaker, so their contractile abilities are less.

Use speed training for major lifts such as the squat, bench press and row. But before you even think of doing a few speed sets (three should suffice), be sure to do a thorough warmup consisting of some light calisthenics, relevant stretching and a few easy preliminary sets of the movement itself.

When you are ready, use a weight that's about 60% of what you would use on a regular 10-rep set. For example, if you can squat 300 x 10, figure on using 180 or so for your "flame out" sets. And do have on of your trusted training partners time you, or time yourself for 30 seconds so you can see just how many deep ones you can burn through in this time frame. And burn you will! Many athletes crap out after the second set of such hell, leaving the third set on the platform.

Another similar concept is known as variable-speed rep training. The name says it all here: You intentionally vary the speeds, or rates, at which you lift. Using the squat again as an example, let's assume that you're still a 300 for 10 chap. In this case you will squat with no more 105 or 115 max, but you will shoot for a total of 50 to 60 repetitions, which means a whole lotta shakin' will be goin' on.

Do the first 10 reps in slow, controlled style, head level and back straight. Then do the next 10 as rapidly as your legs will allow -- in other words "sprinting." You do the third 10 in slow controlled style once again, and so on until you have completed the full 60 reps. By changing the pace you during the set you expose the muscles to different kinds of contractions and do what aerobic athletes call intervals.

Rest? Ideally, you should do all 10 of each distinct speed without pausing so that the proper system gets full benefit. Although you should try to do the first 20 without a pause, at the end of each 10 after that go ahead and help yourself to some deep breaths of air. This form of variable training is one of the toughest forms of training you will ever endure.

For the upper body give this method of madness a whirl on your benches, but reduce the reps to 25 to 30 and take them in groups of five slow/five fast. Do your best on the slow ones to maintain control of the resistance at all times -- if you can't maintain control then the weight is too heavy. Sticking to this rule will prevent you from injuring your chest or shoulder region. And do be an intelligent mate and have some form of spotting ready just in case things get hectic.   

Deadlift Yes and No - 1952 and 1991

Harry Paschall (1952)

Are You as Old as Your Legs?

Taking up gym training again after quite a lengthy layoff, we find that somebody (maybe Old Father Time: has taken a lot of spring out of our legs. We have always been blessed with pretty strong lower limbs, and this comes as quite an unhappy surprise. Maybe the fellow was right who first said, "You're as OLD as your legs."

We have been working out with Frank Stranahan, who is a great guy for Squats. He says that unless he does quite a number of heavy knee bends, his legs tend to tire during a golf tournament, and when you train with a lug like that, you are forced to do some fairly heavy Squats in self defense! We hadn't done any heavy ones (off a rack) for three years, since we moved to Florida. Al the leg stuff we did was a few light Squats with weights we could easily press and put on the shoulders. So the first time we did Squats with upward of 200 lbs we found that the spirit might be willing, but the legs were weak. Next day we were stiffer than a centipede with arthritis. We could feel nothing but pain below the waistline. Paralysis would have been a blessed relief!

Rubbery Legs

Further than the Squats, Frank likes to do Snatches and Cleans, and here we were again unpleasantly discomboomerated. We seemed to have a fair amount of pulling power, but getting down under the bar was simply torture. The legs soon became rubbery. All of a sudden we felt like an old man. The days of 400 lb Squats and 230 lb Snatches seemed very faint and far away. This is a very odd feeling when you still seem to be fairly strong in the arms and shoulders.

So we have been training differently the past month than we ever did before in our life. Not for us the Presses and Curls and muscle-spinning to get 18-inch biceps. We wouldn't be able to do anything with them if we had them. Instead, we are back at the basic Squats, and Hacks and Calf Lifts. And brother -- it's murder!

The nice part about working in a gym again, after several years of hermitting, is that the equipment makes it easier for you. We are just now realizing how comforting it is to have squat racks, calf machines, and other deluxe gadgets. And, for the first time, we can also actually tell by personal experience how beneficial such things can be. The simple calf lift machine makes it not only easier to do this rather monotonous movement, but allows you to better concentrate on the one-and-a-half bounce at top and bottom, which makes the exercise doubly effective. Further, we are finding that the calves do have something to do with leg spring, which we always doubted before. 

We think British lads have something on the average American as far as legs are concerned, and particularly in the calves. More walking and cycling owing to less automobile transportation give you better legs. Over here in America, the calves are practically nonexistent on the average man, because he rides instead of walks. Further, the British type of football builds better legs than the American brand, because the action is more sustained. More time is spent lining up between plays here than in action. Whatever the reason, it is quite evident from PC photos that the Briton has better calves.

Not the Answer

The practice of the Squat is not the answer to the calf problem. The best squatter we ever trained with had 28-inch thighs and 15-inch calves. He sneered at any effort to develop the lower limb. It won't help you lift more weight, he maintained. Yet, after 40 years in the barbell game, we are suddenly wondering if he wasn't wrong. Certainly it does have something to do with leg spring, and leg spring helps practically any type of lifting effort. 

But apart from the spring, and the effect on lifting, we feel that the calf development has more to do with making the legs look good than the most powerful thigh musculature. More and more we have come to he belief that a man's best physical points are wide shoulders, a good V-taper, swelling deltoids, and well developed, bulging calves. These are exactly the places where Steve Reeves was particularly gifted, and to the casual public, he was the best looking male physique on record.

Another place we find that old age gets in its licks is in the small of the back. The fun is out as far as deadlifts are concerned, and here we propose to solve the problem differently than with the legs. We just ain't gonna do no Dead Lifts. It isn't worth the effort. Here too, much to our surprise, we found 30-year old Stranahan also felt the effects of age. He told us that Dead Lifts were simply killing him, and that his back often ached as he drove hither and yon in his Cadillac (too, too bad!). Yet, because he thought heavy Dead Lifts strengthened him, he was loath to give them up. So we advised, -- why not keep the Squats and give up the back work? Actually, heavy Squats work the back in the way it should best be worked, in combination with the thighs. So he gave up the Dead Lifts, and a week later said all the pain had disappeared. Further, his lifts were improving, to say nothing of his golf.

This has made us wonder whether many other barbell addicts are not overdoing the heavy Dead Lifts. Why should anyone put up with an aching back when it is unnecessary. Our personal experience indicates that anyone who does Snatches and Cleans gets all the back work he needs. And anybody who is foolhardy enough to combine heavy Squats and heavy Dead Lifts (up to the limit) in one workout gets just what he deserves -- prolonged pain, stiffness, and lack of spring.

Another good conditioning exercise we have found during our convalescence is the continuous pull-up and press, with a moderate weight. Until you try this very vigorous exercise up to 8 or 10 reps, you have no idea what a good basic movement it is. The panting and puffing may well be compared to the 20 rep Deep Knee Bend. We have several new pupils using this, and they are growing very fast. Since there aren't too many of the really rigorous all-round exercises, this one deserves more attention than it has previously received. This one, by the way, is a Bob Hoffman favorite.

To the aging athlete, the presence of padded incline benches in the modern gym is also a great comfort. Here we can relax, after our strenuous leg work, and do, with dumbbells, the arm and shoulder exercises we simply wouldn't do as much of if we had to stand up throughout. So -- after a month of torture -- our report to readers is . . . 

We think we will live!

Greg Sushinsky (1991)

The Anabolic Deadlift Workout

There is a way to achieve not just ordinary growth, but accelerated growth by using a single exercise in a program that may make your regular routine seem, well, just ordinary. The program is based on the principles of the time-honored, 20-rep breathing squat routines made famous by, among others, Iron Man founder Peary Rader.

While most bodybuilders have some knowledge or experience with the growth potential of the various 20-rep squat routines, not so well-known are similar workouts using other exercises in a related approach. One such routine is a modification of the squat regimen that uses the deadlift as the key exercise performed in a way that emphasizes its often untapped growth properties. Integrated properly into a total program, this one exercise and routine can greatly increase your chances of muscular growth.

Call it anabolic exercise in an anabolic routine within a larger, coordinated, total anabolic program -- which can be as simple as including good nutrition and optimum recovery and rest. You could, of course, claim that all the exercise you do is anabolic, or you could even maintain that exercise itself is not actually anabolic, but that growth occurs through the rest and recovery period following exercise. And technically you'd be right. To put it in simple terms, however, exercise -- specifically weight training -- is the first active step in the complex process of muscular growth that we refer to as anabolism. And growth -- muscular growth -- is what you're after.

The anabolic deadlift workout stimulates growth in the same way that the 20-rep breathing squat routine does: it works a large area of the body, requiring great effort and exertion, which further involves not only specific muscles, but also the muscular system in general and the nervous system in an intensive way. The metabolism, the vital energy-producing processes of your body, gets a boost in efficiency.

The deadlift obviously involves the muscle groups that overlay the back -- the traps and lats -- which are wide sheets of muscle. It also involves the smaller muscle groups in the upper back, such as the teres major, infraspinatus and rhomboids, which can result in deep development, in addition to the all-important spinal erectors. Some of these muscles or groups of muscles are stabilizers, or are not the primary muscles being worked.

For example, although the lats are used in the movement, they usually receive little direct action from it, as opposed to the erectors, which receive a large share of the stimulus and do a lot of the work. You know this if you do heavy regular deadlifts in your training. The erectors are where trainees usually feel the most soreness, although the soreness can run up and down the back to the traps and out across the shoulders and is generally felt all the way down through the erectors and often into the hips. This soreness reminds us of how extensively the deadlift does work the body; it doesn't affect just the lower back.

The large array of muscles and the complex network of nerves running through the entire spinal area make this a potentially huge growth opportunity for the bodybuilder. With so much muscle and nerve involved, however, the exercise is also very demanding. If you've trained hard on the squat or on a 20-rep squat routine, you know the demands that particular exercise makes on the body. You feel extreme fatigue -- but you grow. No exercise is as demanding on the muscular system, the nervous system or the body as a whole as the deadlift. The deadlift probably works even more muscle than the squat -- and that can be quite a payoff.

So, let's put this demanding, productive exercise into a routine.

Deadlift - 1 x 15-20
(3-5 minutes rest)
Bench Press - 2 x 8-10
Seated Press - 2 x 8-10
Curl - 2 x 8-10
Lying Triceps Extension - 2 x 8-10
Squat - 2 x 8-10
Calf Raise - 2 x 15-20
Abs - 2 x 10-20

As you can see, you do just one set of deadlifts for high reps -- 15 to 20. In all the other exercises you do two sets after the warmups. This workout utilizes the same basic framework as the 20-rep squat routines. Here, however, you should do the whole-body workout only two times per week -- as opposed to three for the squat routine -- and do the deadlifts at only one workout.  

One hard set for the deadlift only once a week? 
How can that be enough? 
After you do the routine, you'll see why.

You should work with a poundage on your deadlift that is challenging enough on the 15-20 reps to make it difficult for you to go to failure. The difficulty of the exercise itself provides the intensity, along with the fact that you have to fight to get the required high number of hard reps. Also, do not go to failure on your other exercises in this routine. You want to conserve energy for your assault on the high-growth deadlifts.

When you do the deadlifts, start conservatively with a poundage that matches your bodyweight or perhaps less to begin with, and work into the routine gradually. Eventually go to within a couple of reps of failure. In the other workout of the week substitute rows with a moderate or even light weight for the deadlift, or do chins instead. This will augment your recovery and keep you from overtraining your back. The lighter recovery work can also help to set up further muscular growth.

Here's how to do the deadlift correctly, safely and productively for this type of routine. Stand with your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and use an over/under grip with your hands approximately shoulder-width apart. Keep your back flat when you pull the bar upward, and try to pull in a controlled, smooth motion. Don't jerk the bar. Pull the bar close to your body, and don't bounce it or use momentum between reps. Instead, maintain control as you lower the bar, pause at the bottom with the bar on the floor, take a couple of breaths, reset and gather yourself and lift the next rep. No loose, cheating or bouncing reps and be sure to breath whenever you need to. Don't hold your breath if you can help it. Do a powerful, controlled, effective and safe set.

What kind of gains can you expect from this routine? You'll find that the high-rep anabolic deadlift makes your whole body feel worked, and that's where you'll get your gains -- all over in every muscle groups, certainly not just in your back. The hidden growth benefit of the high-rep deadlift is that it seems to stimulate the internal organs, glands, etc., for that mysterious extra growth effect. Unlike so many exercises that promote a kind of 'local' growth, this anabolic approach promotes 'full' growth. So not only does your back grow, but your whole body's muscle mass increases.

Another benefit of this routine is metabolic stimulation. If you are overweight, your metabolism will get a kick toward normalization by your speeding up, and as with the 20-rep squats, the routine will not only increase fat burning, but will also give you added muscle. For the thin, underweight trainee, it will help your already fast metabolism to normalize, which will allow you to increase your power and mass. Whatever your present condition, this exercise will make your metabolism more efficient and push your body toward an ideal metabolic state.

Another hidden advantage of this type of deadlift routine benefits hardgainers. Most hardgainers are thin, have poor leverage in the power/mass exercises and have thin legs, so squatting is often the hardest exercise for them to master and do appropriately. A thin bodybuilder almost always has better leverage on any of the pulling exercises, including the deadlift. So while the exercise is not in any sense easy, it should be easier and more productive for the thin hardgainer than the squat. Later on, after a thin man makes progress on this routine, his squat power should also pick up, so increases can be made there too. If you are a struggling hardgainer you should seriously consider doing the anabolic deadlift routine for a boost in gains.

Some other things to keep in mind when doing this regimen. It is not for bodybuilders who have back issues. If you have a back problem, deal with it before attempting this routine! For the rest of you, if your back feels too fatigued after some time on this program cut down on the poundages and occasionally take an easier workout. Also, if you are having trouble recovering or making gains, pull back on the frequency of high-rep deadlifting -- only do it once every 10 days or so. As this is a severe and demanding routine once the weight becomes challenging, try to cut down on outside activities where possible. Extra rest and sleep will help you build energy, and your nutrition should be sound and sensible.

The anabolic deadlift routine can be one of the best natural weapons in the bodybuilder's arsenal. Be prepared to work extremely hard at it. Once you have a powerful inner attitude an assert your will appropriately more muscular growth will be yours.      



Thursday, June 18, 2015

The One Hand Clean and Jerk - W. A. Pullum (1950)

Donald Dinnie

The One Hand Clean and Jerk
W. A. Pullum (1950)

When the "One Hand Bent Press or Jerk from Shoulder" was a standard inclusion in the British set of championship lifts, it was then considered that the Jerk did not present anywhere near the same possibilities as the Press. Consequently, the only men who employed it were those who had failed to master the more intricate movement, believing, in most cases (quite wrongly, of course), that some peculiarity of physique was the responsible cause. 

A matter of some 28 years attention to the "jerk" method of elevating single-handed a weight from the shoulder has brought the records on it up so high, however, that some people are now quite convinced that it is, after all, the superior "possibilities" method of performance. To reason thus is to ignore the one important fact that must be taken into consideration in order to make that reasoning logical -- and therefore correct! For 28 years, the "O.H.C. and Bent Press" has had no attention whatever devoted to it as a championship lift, the only standards for comparison in this connection being those which were established before specialization on the Jerk became the current vogue. Even so, there are two British official lifts (both world's records) which I can think of that do not suffer by this comparison, these being Edward Aston's 243.5 lb at 11 stone 7 lb (161 lb) - middleweight, and my own of 196 lb at 8 stone 10 lb. (122 lb). With such as basis for calculation, imagine what the  records would have been on this lift with the same amount and length of specialization. Definitely, they would have far exceeded the "Clean and Jerk," as its possibilities always have been that much greater.

High as are the present world's records on the "O.H.C. and Jerk," they would, in the main, mount appreciably higher still, I am sure, if it were decided once again to include it in the Olympic Set, as this would result in even more intensive specialization by all concerned. Just what they stand at now is shown by the following list, these being the figures up to end of November, 1947, with holders' names and dates of establishment:

Right Hand Clean and Jerk

Bantamweight - 174 lb - G. Cook
Featherweight - 174 lb - G Cook
Lightweight - 177.5 lb - H Moorhouse
Middleweight - 200 lb - W. Newman
Light Heavyweight - 215.25 lb - W. Newman
Heavyweight - 235.75 lb - R. Walker

8 stone - 142 lb - W. H. Matthews
9 stone - 174 lb - G. Cook
10 stone - 177.75 lb - H. Moorhouse
11 stone - 188 lb - C Gotts
12 stone - 216.25 lb - W. Newman
13 stone - 216.25 lb - W. Newman
Heavyweight - 235.75 lb - R. Walker

Now follows the current International definition of and ruling on the lift -- this (together with the preceding list of records) having been supplied by Oscar State, Hon. Sec. B.A.W.L.A.

1st Part - "Cleaning the Bar"

It shall be done in one distinct movement without any pause. The bar shall be placed horizontally in front of the lifter's legs. He shall grip it in the center with one hand with the palm forward and pull it up in a single, clean movement from the ground to the shoulder. During this first movement the bar must in no case touch either the shoulder or chest or the side opposite to the lifting arm, the axis of the sternum serving as the limit line. The lifter is permitted to support the hand or forearm on the knee or thigh opposite the lifting arm.    

2nd Part - "The Jerk"

It shall be done in one distinct movement. The arm holding the weight shall be taken vertically above the head and held for two seconds in the final position of immobility, with the arm and legs extended, the feet on the same line with a maximum separation of 16 inches.

Incorrect Movements -

Movement finished with a press-out, a pause, supporting a hand of knee on the ground, touching the bar with the other hand during the movement, supporting the bar on the shoulder. It is also forbidden, when the jerk proper has failed after a visible effort, to make a second attempt after a fresh stop at the shoulder.

 Click Pic to ENLARGE

Coming now to instruction, the student is referred to Figure 1, which shows, fundamentally, the best bodily positional "address" to the bell preparatory to "pulling it in." Note that the lifting arm is straight, also the point to which the "seat" is lowered, this (with the "straight setting" of the back) insuring that the legs and body do most of the work in the "cleaning" effort. The maximum contra-leverage assistance which the other arm can offer is gained when the hand of that arm is placed (as shown) forcibly pressed down on the thigh beneath, to back the "cleaning pull."

It does not necessarily follow that the lifter must remain any length of time in the position shown before he makes the "pull," although if that is the method he favors in the One Hand Snatch (dealt with in our preceding article), he will probably employ it is this lift also.

Other articles on the One Hand Snatch:  

But if he elects to start his O.H.S. by "pouncing" on the bell, he will just as naturally do the same thing with his "pull in" (most times, anyway). When this is the case -- as the bell doesn't travel the same distance in the O.H. Clean, and is also of a higher poundage standard -- his descending action does not need to be so swift, the lessened speed enabling him the more surely to take that firm grip of the bar demanded by the weight upon it.

There are three distinctive methods of jerking the barbell overhead, once it is at the shoulder, the style most in common use nowadays being the one depicted by Figs. 4 and 5. Ordinarily in this style, however, the elbow would rest on the hip in the preliminary setting of body and weight preparatory to impelling the bell away from the shoulder and "splitting" underneath it, as it is the legs which are the main governing factor from start to finish.

The bar is held actually as shown in Fig. 4 (clear of the body) when the continental style is employed, which Max Sick first introduced here about 1910, by which method he raised 230 lb or more at a bodyweight of 10 stone 7 lb (147 lb) -- then (and still) terrific lifting.

Max Sick "presses" Fred Storbeck

In this style, the lifter does not lock his arm by dropping vertically underneath the bell. Instead, he straightens the limb by a pronounced back-bend, allied with only a very slight bending of the legs. The Austrians used this style at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. 

Paris, 1924, Charles Rigoulot (France)

It calls for great deltoid and spinal strength, and its practice still further, naturally, develops this strength.

The third method is the one depicted in Figs. 2 and 3. In this, the lifter positions himself so that the elbow is supported behind the hip; from which position he jerks to arm's length, "falling" away sideways with practically the speed of lightning, just as if he were getting under One Hand Snatch which is "fixed" in that way. Of the three, this is the most spectacular style when performed by a really competent man.

Position for the final passing of the lift may be with the heels together (Fig. 6), or feet astride to the limit of 16 inches set in the definition. 

Bob Burtzloff: The USAWA's Best in the One Arm Clean and Jerk (2009)


Monday, June 15, 2015

Accent on Power - George Kirkley (1954)

An Off-Season Schedule of Assistance Movements 
to Improve Your Olympic Lifting
George Kirkley (1954)

Every Olympic lifter -- from novice to world champion -- can do with more power. Yes, even lifters who already possess great strength can always add a little to their total by getting even stronger. On the other hand, most lifters can benefit by improving their technique . . . I will not say every lifter, because many already have developed their technique to its full or near maximum, and further progress can be made mainly be getting stronger.

At the moment I am going to discuss power exercises, and with the close season ahead for most British lifters -- all divisionals and most of the leagues have now finished for the season -- here is a good opportunity to train on a power schedule for a few months. I know that many Olympic competitors either rest during the summer months (from lifting, that is), while others switch over to all-round work or perhaps bodybuilding. For those of you who feel that a period on some power building movements would be beneficial, why not try this schedule?

It is closely allied to the Olympic movements and provides an opportunity to try out some of the "assistance work" many lifters often promise themselves but perhaps never really get down to. These movements are particularly beneficial to those lifters who have good technique and speed, but are lacking in all-important basic power.

There are, of course, many other power building movements. But they cannot all be included in any one schedule. There are many dumbbell exercises that bring good results, but I want this routine to be fairly brief, allowing for the use of heavier weights as well as freeing up some time for the summer months.

 Click Pics to ENLARGE

First, we take a movement which I believe should be included in everyone's schedule at all times -- the REPETITION SNATCH. This, in my view, is the greatest single movement in the whole range of weight training. Whether a man is a weightlifter, bodybuilder, athlete, or sportsman of any kind, I consider he is bound to benefit from the regular practice of repetition snatching. If a man could train on only one movement for the rest of his lift this is the one he should choose. It is NOT A COMPLETE MOVEMENT -- no single thing is, in any walk of life -- but I consider it has more virtues than any other exercise, building qualities of strength, stamina, co-ordination, pulling power, etc. 

In this particular schedule it serves the additional purpose of enabling the lifter to continue training for speed of footwork. I am referring, of course, to the split style method. I consider that prolonged training on static movements will tend to slow down a lifter . . . and for an Olympic man that is fatal!

So, first it is the Repetition Snatch. Start in the standing position with the bar held across the thighs as shown in the accompanying photo. Lower nearly to the floor, keeping the back straight, then without pause pull up into a regular Snatch. I repeat, keep the back straight and squat down with the lowering of the bar. Don't lean forward. Aim for a high pull and plenty of SPEED. 6 sets of 3 reps. Once you have the movements down the poundage should be about 80% of your best full Snatch from the floor.

Follow this with SEATED PRESSING - a variation of the regular standing Press, and localizing most of the work to the muscles of the shoulder girdle. Use a poundage that you can just handle for 5 sets of 3 reps. Note that the staggered placement of the feet shown in the photo serves to add stability.

Then, the POWER SNATCH. Pull straight from the floor to arms' length without any movement of the feet, dipping at the knees to facilitate the arm lock. Start the pull at a moderate speed from the floor, then accelerate, aiming to pull as high as you can before you start to turn over the wrists. Work up to limit, then reduce and do 5 sets of 2 reps. 

The POWER CLEAN AND JERK comes next. Clean the bar without any foot movement, again dipping at the knees as the bar comes into the shoulders. For the Jerk, give the usual knee dip then thrust the bar overhead FAST, dipping the knees again to help arm lock. This is not a split jerk. Vary your work on this movement by sometimes making one clean and three jerks, sometimes three cleans and one jerk. Do up to 5 or 6 sets.

Now, the HIGH DEAD LIFT - a very valuable movement for improving the Clean. Pull the bar about waist high and stretch up on toes -- see photo. Work up as heavy as you can, consistent with a waist high pull, in sets of 3 or 4 reps, resting the bar on the floor for a few seconds between each rep.

The FRONT SQUAT gives the legs a real workout and is particularly beneficial for squat cleaners and snatchers. Hold the bar in clean position, elbows UP, and squat fairly low with a straight back. Say, 5 sets of 4 reps with a moderate to heavy poundage.

Don't include the last two movements on the same day's training, but alternate them in turn -- High Dead Lift one training day, Front Squat the next, and so on.

Finally, the SNATCH GRIP BENTOVER ROWING MOTION. Bend over with body parallel to the ground, and keeping stationary, pull the bell up as high as possible towards the throat. Work up to a heavy poundage -- 5 sets of 3 reps.

Try this power routine for two or three month periods. For many of you it will be a change from your usual work, and at the end of the time your Olympic total will, after a short period of re-familiarization with the full lifts, be due for a rise. Work with a progressive plan, adding a little weight to each movement every two weeks, while keeping the sets and reps the same.

Happy Training!   


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Learning to Jerk - Randall Strossen (1990)

On November 26, 1988, the top Soviet Super Heavyweight, Leonid Taranenko, cleaned and jerked 586 pounds -- a phenomenal feat of power in itself, but even more dramatic because it shouted that the 600-pound barrier was going to be cracked pretty soon. Lift 600 pounds from the floor to arms' length overhead? My, my. Up to the mid-1950s, 600 pounds was generally regarded as the world record in the squat, and it was a very dramatic moment in the mid-1960s when Pat Casey broke the 600-pound bench press barrier. Go in most gyms today and a 600-pound deadlift still wins you a little respect. We can't promise that you, too, will break the 600-pound barrier in the jerk, but if you follow this program conscientiously, you should learn to hoist more weight overhead than with any other method.

Let's get to the bad news right away. Lifting weights overhead is difficult and feels unnatural to most people initially because overhead movements are rare in most sports. This means that you should be content to feel a little awkward at first -- and weaker than you might like -- but if you persist, the power and the stability are sure to come. to maximize progress up the learning curve, Jim Schmitz likes to break learning the jerk into three phases, with a primary exercise for each of the phases.

Olympic Weightlifting Manual and DVD Set by Jim Schmitz:    

On all the jerking movements be sure to keep the bar over your ears rather than putting it out front where you can see it.

The PUSH-PRESS will teach you to drive the bar with your hips and thighs before locking out with the triceps. Begin the push-press as if you were going to do a standard military press, except rotate your elbows a little to the front (lifting them higher). This should put you in the standard get set, or starting, position for all of the jerk movements.

Dimitry Klokov 495 pound Push Press:

Using a grip slightly wider than your shoulders, let the bar rest on your deltoids and clavicles, just barely touching your throat, with your elbows up in front of your chest. Next, dip your legs three to five inches and drive up, pushing with your arms at the same time. Your leg drive should take the bar to about the top of your head, leaving you with only a bit more than a lockout to complete the push-press. Be sure you dip and drive in a straight, vertical line and make your dip deliberate. After that your drive should explode. Begin and end the push-press with your eyes focused straight ahead, but as the bar passes your chin, tip your head back slightly to avoid smashing the bar into your jaw. The push-press sounds more complicated than it is, so don't be intimidated by all these style points.

After one month of working on the push-press, begin working on the PUSH-JERK. Take the bar from the rack, get set, dip and drive just as in the push-press, but instead of pressing the bar up to finish the lift, drop into a quarter squat as the bar passes the top of your head and catch the bar on straight arms over your ears. The push-jerk is designed to teach you how to drop under the bar and catch it overhead on fully extended arms, so don't make the mistake of pressing out the bar on this exercise.

In your third month it's time to learn how to split under the weight. Get set, dip and drive just as you did in the push-press and the push-jerk, but as the bar goes over your head, split under it -- your front leg goes forward about one foot and your rear leg goes back about two feet. You will recover to to the standing position in four steps:

1) Straighten your front leg first by pushing back with your forward foot;

2) Next, bring your rear leg forward about a foot;

3) Bring your front leg back; and

4) bring your rear leg forward so both of your feet are in a line.

Dropping a heavy weight after getting it overhead is the price you will pay for trying to recover too quickly or doing things in the wrong order, so follow this pattern carefully.

Always include FRONT SQUATS in your training program, as they will give you the basic leg strength to drive up your jerks, and they will help accustom you to holding heavy weights on your chest in the get set position.

Many an Olympic and World Championship have been lost by missing the jerk after successfully cleaning the winning weight, so don't neglect your training on this second half of "the King of Lifts."   


Shoulder Shockers - Don Ross (1990)

These days there is only one right answer when someone asks you what you are doing after work. Hitting the gym! With an explosion of apps, clothing, devices, and countless DVDs, fitness has never felt more modern, and the gym is its holy laboratory, alive with machinery, sweat, and dance music. But we are far from the first to pursue bodily perfection—the gymnasium dates back 2,800 years, to the very beginnings of Western civilization. In The Temple of Perfection, Eric Chaline offers the first proper consideration of the gym’s complex, layered history and the influence it has had on the development of Western individualism, society, education, and politics.
As Chaline shows, how we take care of our bodies has long been based on a complex mix of spiritual beliefs, moral discipline, and aesthetic ideals that are all entangled with political, social, and sexual power. Today, training in a gym is seen primarily as part of the pursuit of individual fulfillment. As he shows, however, the gym has always had a secondary role in creating men and women who are “fit for purpose”—a notion that has meant a lot of different things throughout history. Chaline surveys the gym’s many incarnations and the ways the individual, the nation-state, the media, and the corporate world have intersected in its steamy confines, sometimes with unintended consequences. He shows that the gym is far more than a factory for superficiality and self-obsession—it is one of the principle battlefields of humanity’s social, sexual, and cultural wars.
Exploring the gym’s history from a multitude of perspectives, Chaline concludes by looking toward its future as it struggles to redefine itself in a world in thrall to quick fixes—such as plastic surgery and pharmaceuticals—meant to attain the gym’s ultimate promises: physical fitness and beauty.

Don Ross (1990)

The deltoids have three major functions (excluding rotation). These functions are:

 - Raising the arms from your sides to an overhead position. The side dumbbell lateral is an example of this function.

 - Raising the arms in front of you to an overhead position. Straight-arm front raises use this function.

 - Bringing your arms out to the sides and back from a position of straight out in front of you, as in the bentover lateral raise movement.

All shoulder exercises, including presses, upright rows and bentover elbows-out rows are variations of these movements. For balanced development the muscles must be worked with each function the deltoid performs. The Compound Shoulder Blast incorporates all the deltoid functions.

The look we are striving for here is that of deep, vascular, striated, carved out of rock definition and separation between the heads. To achieve this while providing maximum growth-building intensity, we will use low reps and continuous movement. This means NO REST BETWEEN SETS. Instead, we will nonstop blast, alternating exercises and shifting the tensin from one muscle area to another throughout the program. Your medial delts rest as you train your anterior delts, and your anterior delts rest as you train posterior delts.

The trick is to do this while keeping the poundages respectable enough to stimulate the deep muscle fibers.  

A compound set is similar to a "giant set," where you do a cycle of several different exercises for one set each, then repeat the cycle. Begin this program with two cycles. Then progressively increase to four. I've done as many as six the final weeks before peaking.

The Compound Shoulder Blast is done entirely with dumbbells. You will use the same weight throughout a cycle. In the beginning you may have to put the dumbbells down for a few breaths, but your first goal is to go through each cycle without putting down the dumbbells.

Progressively decrease your rest periods between cycles, resting only as long as absolutely necessary. Once you get those rests down to 10 seconds, you've mastered the routine! Shortening your rest periods is a method of increasing intensity similar to increasing poundage.

Don't increase the weight on these exercises until you've mastered the short rest periods. Once you've accomplished this, strive to use heavier dumbbells whenever possible.


Dumbbell Front Raises, immediately go to
Standing Laterals, to
L-Laterals, to
Upright Dumbbell Rows, to
Dumbbell Presses, to
Bentover Laterals.

1) Dumbbell Front Raises
Start with a pair of dumbbells at arms' length in front of you, all four ends on your front thighs, palms toward you. Keep your arms slightly bent. Raise the dumbbells up in front of you to eye level. Lower slowly. Do as many of these simultaneous front raises as possible. Use a weight you can do 8-10 reps with.

2) Move the same dumbbells to the sides of your thighs to begin Standing Laterals. Keeping your elbows slightly unlocked, raise them out to your sides. Keep your palms down and your thumbs from coming up. Raise the weights to eye level and lower slowly. Do these until you can't complete any more full reps.

3) Now bend you arms to an L-shape, hands parallel with elbows. Continue your side laterals once again until you can't compete any more full reps. Three to five additional reps should be possible in L-Lateral style. Do as many as possible, then

4) Continue the set with Upright Dumbbell Rows, bringing your elbows high and the dumbbell to chest level. Let the dumbbells move away from each other as you bring your elbows to shoulder level. This movement brings your elbows out to the sides more than standard upright barbell rows, working the delts at the attachment near your trapezius strongly. The change makes this unique row more of a delt movement than a trap exercise.

5) When you can't do any more upright dumbbell rows clean the weights to your shoulders and press them overhead. Keep your elbows out to your sides during these Dumbbell Presses. Continue until the weights won't go up.

6) Bend over at the waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor. If you have low back issues brace your head on a high or incline bench. Be mindful not to strain your neck if you choose to do this. Start with the dumbbells touching, palms toward each other. Raise them out to your sides, keeping your elbows slightly unlocked. Do as many Bentover Laterals as possible.

Take a 10-second rest, then repeat the cycle. Always take a full 10 seconds rest between cycles to allow the muscles to rid themselves of lactic acid buildup. If you don't need 10 seconds rest the weights aren't heavy enough.

I developed the Compound Shoulder Blast while training for a string of guest posing appearances in 1983 and '84. It evolved from another deltoid dumbbell program in which I began with upright dumbbell rows and then worked down in weight until I arrived at a poundage I could do laterals with. From there I moved to L-Laterals, then bentover laterals. The next step was to formulate an exercise incorporating all the deltoid movements. The routine is so intense that I still find myself going back to it.

If you find yourself going stale from pressing and pushing heavy weights overhead, this shoulder shocker may be just what the doctor ordered. Give the routine six weeks, then return to a standard shoulder workout.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Bench Press Mini-Cycles - Mike Simpson (1981)

Mike Simpson (1981)

[Note: I'm sure you could apply this layout to other lifts quite easily.]

I have been bench pressing off and on since I was in the sixth grade, some 23 years ago, so I have experimented with about every routine imaginable. I have always  felt that reps are very important and that going max should be restricted for meets or no more frequently than every month or so, but I also feel that doing heavy singles with about 90-95% of max about every three weeks is very valuable.

I did a 410 bench at 198 in March of 1979, which is currently the Nebraska State Record, but because of being in constant pain from a lower back injury, suffered ten years ago, I had back surgery in February of 1981.

During my convalescence, I had a lot of time to think about getting back to the iron. My bodyweight dripped from 198 to 165 in about three weeks. Consequently, when I did get back on my feet, I was very weak. The first time I benched was about six weeks after surgery, and I could barely do 225 pounds.

I decided to try something new, so I concocted what I term "three week mini-cycles." The results have been astounding. Currently at a bodyweight of 180, I am capable of a bench in the 415-425 range.

Most benchers seem to favor a two-a-week workout with a light day and a heavy day, such as 4x8 or 5x5 followed by 6x2 or 6x1. I feel that this is a great workout, but I've come up with something that has worked well for me and may work well for most others.

The three week mini cycle begins with a very light 4x8 workout with about 65-70% of your max, then going to a 5x5 for the next (second of the week) workout with about 75-80% of your max. 

The following workout (first workout, second week) is still a 5x5 but adding 5 pounds if you can. This brings you to a 6x3 (second workout, second week). 

On the first day of week three do 6x3, adding 5 pounds, then for your final workout of the mini-cycle, 6-8 singles with 90-95% of your max.

Throughout the three weeks you are building the foundation for a good singles session. Then you start over and add 5 pounds to your 8's, 5's, 3's, and 1's as long as you have completed at least four successful sets on the previous three week cycle. If you feel that the starting poundages are too light (they probably are) and there is a reason for this.

There are two reasons for starting light. First, by starting light this routine lends itself to working through sticking points, as opposed to meeting and being stopped by them every few weeks. Second, and probably most important, if the weight is too easy, make it harder by employing many reps with pauses on the chest, ranging anywhere from a competition pause to a 10-second pause. This is important regardless of which routine you currently have been using.

After each bench session, a strenuous triceps workout is in order. I think I have come up with one of the best movements for the triceps. I like to do strict EZ-Bar triceps extensions on an incline bench with my head forward so that I get full range of motion from behind the neck to a full extension over the head. I like to do about 6-8 sets of 8-12 reps, and then follow this with some triceps pushdowns for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.    

I really feel that the concept of getting a lot of rep work leading up to your singles is important, and working the triceps is important too. I also believe that if enough benching is done, incline presses are not needed; they really seem to wreak havoc on your benching groove.

Using this routine I've gone from 245 for sets of 8 to 315; from 265 of sets of 5 to 340; and from 315 singles to a recent 8 singles with 390. That may not sound astounding, but at a bodyweight of 180 and no drugs or supportive gear it's a pretty good set of gains for a five month period after major surgery.

A simplified look at the routine follows below:

Warmup first.

Week 1
Monday - 4x8 (65-70%)
Thursday - 5x5 (75-80%)

Week 2
Monday - 5x5 (plus 5 pounds)
Thursday - 6x3

Week 3
6x3 (plus 5 pounds)

Triceps Extensions (as described above) - 6-8 x 8-12
Triceps Pushdowns - 3-4 x 8-12

 -- Repeat cycle, but add 5 pounds to each workout if previous cycle was successful for at least 4 of your singles sets. 

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