Monday, September 28, 2015

Hard Training for Hard Gainers - Bradley Steiner

Bradley Steiner

Did you ever get the urge to kill a Mr. America?

Many fellows have -- and their reason, whether or not they care to admit it to themselves, was envy. They worked and worked and worked until they were utterly fed up with themselves, and as the years rolled by they wondered why they -- unlike the topnotch physiques they saw in the magazines, didn't blossom into Greek Statues. It is, we must be honest, quite a discouraging thing to train long hours and to reap very little for one's efforts. But actually, in the majority of instances, it's the trainee's own fault. He is, to put it very bluntly, a "hard gainer," and is mistakenly trying to build up on schedules geared for more naturally athletic and bigger boned bodybuilders.

If you're a hard gainer, face it. There's no point in deluding your self about your own physical structure or its potentialities. Unquestionably, you can make terrific progress -- but not on Casey Viator's training schedule! You need to tailor your routines to your individual needs if you want to acquire muscularity, power and good shape. And if you'll honestly give the routines we're going to outline this month -- and the advice -- a determined try, you'll make it. You'll make it even if you've got the build of Whistler's Mother. Just don't let yourself be sidetracked into following any Mr. Universe routines you see published, because -- at this point, anyway -- that would be suicide for your progress.

Please go over this list of DO's very carefully:

1) DO employ only a few heavy, basic exercises in your workouts. Squats, Bench Presses, Rows, Presses, etc. This is what will build you up.

2) DO use relatively few repetitions in every set that you employ. Between 4 and 8 reps (depending on which exercise you're doing), is about right.

3) DO use a weight that calls for a maximum output of strength during every set you do. The last rep in each set ought to be an exceedingly difficult -- almost impossible -- effort. Force the last rep.

4) DO keep your workouts brief. Nobody, nobody, NOBODY desiring to gain and guild up ought to spend more than 1.5 hours -- tops! -- on a workout.

5) DO train your whole body at each workout. Forget you ever heard about split routines.

6) DO limit your training sessions to three a week. If you do more, then don't expect to gain. 

7) DO use a fairly high number of sets (between 3 and 5) for each exercise. This will provide a thorough amount of stimulation, and will adequately tire the muscles, without exhausting them.   

8) DO strive to conserve energy. You need all of your stamina and energy. Work until you're comfortably tired -- then stop. One of the reasons you've found gaining so difficult is no doubt partly due to the fact that you've over-consumed your available resources. This means that you've been doing so much that your body can't rebuild what you have broken down.

9) DO employ the breathing squat method whenever you do squats in your routine. Take 2 to 5 deep breaths between each squat rep.

And now, burn these DON'T's into your cranium:

1) DON'T neglect a well balanced diet. Drink whole milk daily.

2) DON'T neglect your sleep.

3) DON'T switch routines around constantly.

4) DON'T worry about your progress (or anything else, if you can help it).

5) DON'T participate in any other physically demanding activities while you're trying to gain.

If you think these points are too fundamental, I want to know if you've actually been following these "fundamental" rules. I guarantee -- without knowing you -- that adherence to these rules will insure your success. And I also know that, if you are not gaining -- that you HAVE NOT been following these rules. Otherwise, you would have been succeeding all this time.

You can find out for yourself how effective this advice is simply by following it.

Now, for some sample routines.

Routine A

1) Press Behind Neck - 5 sets of 4 reps.
2) Squat - 3 sets of 8.
3) Power Clean - 5 x 4.
4) Bentover Row - 4 x 8.

You cannot properly work on those exercises without making progress. DO THE WORKOUT EXACTLY AS IT IS WRITTEN, and follow the DO and DON'T list above.

Don't add "just a couple of sets of curls", or "go a little easy on the last set of rows" because you've "done enough." DO WHAT'S THERE. No more, no less. And don't add any more exercises.

There is a very common misunderstanding about what and how much constitutes a good routine. Actually, very few exercises are required for a good workout, and it's a serious (albeit common) error to believe that the more you do, the harder you're working. Usually, the reverse is true. Only exceptional men can do justice to a prolonged schedule that consists of, say a dozen or more exercises done in multiple hard sets. The very vast majority of trainees (including those with considerable experience and development) build up better, faster and more permanently on brief, but VERY SEVERE workouts. And a severe workout could easily consist of ONE exercise -- like a squat, the clean and jerk, the deadlift or the snatch. Paul Anderson's training consisted of -- predominantly -- only two exercises, the squat and the press. Several good movements, worked to their limit, are all a trainee needs. When the trainee spreads his effort thinner over a long and flashy routine, the results tend to be thinner, too.

Here are a few more sample routines:

Note -- where I've indicated that several sets are to done with a certain number of reps, and then another two sets are to follow (or another one set), YOU DO NOT CHANGE THE POUNDAGE. The shifting emphasis on required reps is to enable the trainee to complete this very rugged schedule in good style throughout. The weights you use should be so heavy that a rest period of several minutes -- or even seven or eight minutes -- is necessary. It should take a STRONG man about an hour to go through any one of the routines, assuming that he employs HEAVY ENOUGH RESISTANCE. Lesser mortals, like you and I, will require between one and one-and-a-half fours to complete a workout. Also give strong effort to the STYLE OF PERFORMANCE and CONCENTRATION OF EFFORT that you use.

Now, the routines . . .

Routine B

1) Strict Press, taken from racks - 5 sets of 4 reps. (use the same weight).
2) Bentover Row - 3 x 6, then 2 x 4 (same weight throughout, the same weight for the 4's as for the 6's).
3) Squat - 5 x 4. (same . . . you guessed it!).
4) Deadlift - 5 x 3 (use a weight so heavy that every single rep is "doubtful".)

Routine C

1) Seated Press Behind Neck - 3 x 6, then 2 x 3 (same weight throughout).
2) Power Clean - 5 x 4.
3) Bench Press - 3 x 5, then 2 x 2 (same weight throughout).
4) Squat - 4 x 3, then 1 x 6 (same weight throughout, breathe and force reps on the last set).

Routine D

1) Jerk Behind Neck, taken from racks - 5 x 3.
2) Stiff-Legged Deadlift - 5 x 8.
3) Bent Arm Pullover (limit weight) - 4 x 3, then 1 x 6 (same weight throughout).
4) Squat - 4 x 4.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Analyzing Gary Gubner's Press Techique (1966)

Click Pic to ENLARGE


In the long history of weightlifting only a scant seven men have up to now attained the 400 pound Press level. Of these, two are retired from active competition (Anderson, 408, and Vlasov, 434.5), and two have executed lifts of suspect nature (Andreev, 437.5, and Dube, 400). In fact, Andreev, the rotund Soviet newcomer who is nominally the world's record holder failed three times to press 396 at the European Championships, and had to settle for a meager 363 at a subsequent meet. Norbert Schemansky's superb 402 pound effort was executed several years ago and injury-ridden Norb does not figure to duplicate it. It is said he may soon retire. 

Put together, all these facts mean that 23-year old Gary Gubner, the 280 pound ex-shotputter who pressed 419 at the North American Championships last September 25, and 418 at the Tehran World Championships where he placed second with a terrific 1201 total, is the best heavy presser in the world today. He is also the lightest by far of all the men who have pressed over 410 pounds. Zhabotinsky, for example, weighs over 350.

Gubner comes upon this title honestly -- or dishonestly -- depending upon your point of view. If we assume that no lifter can muscularly elevate 400 pounds in true military fashion then Gary deserves the nod, because his pressing style is superior to the assorted rough heaving techniques used by most heavyweights -- and he presses the most weight.

He does not employ an obvious 'jerk' form like Andreev, or a questionable 'body sag and bounce-the-bar-off-the-chest' method a la Dube. Amongst all heavy pressers of recent decades Gubner ranks fourth in subtly getting white lights from the judges. At least in this writer's opinion. 

Jim Bradford was unquestionably the strictest presser of postwar times and no lift he executed was ever turned down for spurious performance. His technique was simplicity in action. A majestically high split clean was followed by assumption of a slight lay-back position. Then, inch by inch, Bradford grindingly raised the bar overhead. Who today could elevate 396 pounds in such exemplary fashion?

Paul Anderson rarely had lifts turned down. With 350 or more pounds of bulk assisting, even slight body action carried his 400 pound attempts to head height.Then, turning on the incredible power of his enormous triceps, Anderson locked out the bar. He used little visible heave and minimal back bend.    

Yury Vlasov was a master at sneaking monstrous weights past the judges. Many thought his 434.5 pound record at the Olympics was an amazing feat of strength. Slow motion film revealed it truly was amazing -- insofar as how the judges missed all the jerking action, including chest sag and knee snapping that Jury used to make a three white light success. 

George Cohen, Gubner's mystical training mentor, pegs Gary for a 440 Press before long but thinks Zhabotinsky will do just as much. "However, owing to Gubner's more compact physique and shorter arms he should eventually surpass the Russian somewhere beyond the 200 kilo level. If Gary would drop all shotput considerations and allow his weight to escalate 20-30 pounds, he could beat out Zhabotinsky for the world crown," Cohen opines.

Gary came by his pressing style naturally. It is not as refined as Tony Garcy's snap technique nor as precise as Schemansky's body jolt. But he is pressing world record poundages successfully and consistently. He completes more presses and gets more of them passed than ever before so there is little to complain about.

Before analyzing the four-phase technique Gary uses it is interesting to note one lifting characteristic all the 400-pound pressers have in common. All use a full squat clean to get the bar in pressing position (an exception is Schemansky, who usually splits). For the precision stylist like Vlasov and the well balanced lifter like Anderson this poses no particular hazard. But for Gubner, basically a sloppy cleaner who missed two Press cleans at the Senior Nationals last June, it is a trouble spot. Look for his Press marks to really soar if and when he masters the art of smartly fixing the weight at the chest.

Gubner steams up backstage for all his presses. Once on the platform he shows a determined but relatively calm composure. He hovers over the bar for a second, then grasps it with a hook grip.

He assumes the classic head up, back flat pulling position and with little hesitation tugs the bar to rib height and squats under it. In the full squat position he adjusts his balance before beginning to rise.

Phase One     

Once erect he takes a stride or two to regain his balance and secure the bar at the chest (this practice should be discouraged). Once the legs are motionless he waits for the referee's signal. This period lasts for a half-second and Gary is busily at work setting up for the pressing explosion to follow. He starts to sag at the waist and sets his upper body back at the hips. For a really big effort the knees unlock slightly. (Weightlifting purists: Don't flinch. Everybody's doing it.).

Study the photo of Phase One carefully. It is the key to a successful Press. There is a balance involved which must be felt rather than described. Regardless of when the referee claps Gubner must settle into this position. If he claps to soon Gary will continue sagging until he is ready. If he claps too late Gary may have to come somewhat erect, then sag again.

Phase Two

When the position is right, Gubner suddenly and violently explodes forward, ramming the bar to nose height. The power comes mostly from the explosiveness of the back straightening. Gubner does not fell the attendant extension of the knees has much to do with blasting the weight. They were originally unlocked only to slip into a comfortable and efficient starting position, not to provide extra impetus. The knees do not snap to lockout as in a Jerk. They passively extend as the body comes erect.

On a smooth lift Gary will be able to nearly military Press the bar from head height to completion. More often than not small hitches will occur which require the third phase of this technique.

Phase Three

If the transition from body-blast to arm-push is not smooth Gubner will lapse into a backbend of  varying degree to finish the lift. His bend is minimal compared to many of the lighter lifters, notable Veres, Baszanowski, Zielinski, etc. He does not truly bend away from the bar but rather sets himself in a muscularly advantageous position to press it out. Training efforts with 400 pounds in the High Incline Press generally assure success once this point is reached.

Phase Four

As the lift nears completion Gubner levers forward and pushes the bar to arms' length.

Some Outspoken Commentary on Officiating Deficiencies

This sequence of maneuvers comes off in rapid order and infractions of the rules are hard to spot. In fact, by contemporary pressing standards very few rules are broken. Those completed presses of Gubner's which fail are usually turned down because the bar has stopped for an instant.

This is an absurd reason to reject a lift. It is an anachronism left over from the military pressing days of the 1930's. A bar which halts shows the lifter is working and pressing the weight -- not jerking it -- and deserves favorable consideration compared to an effort which sees the bar propelled to lockout only as the result of an ugly all-out body heave (often with a right-angle backbend thrown in for good measure). 

All lifters -- especially those predisposed to making bar-halting presses should squawk if their lifts are failed for this reason if at the same time roughly made jerk-presses with big backbends are permitted. Each lift violates the (frequently unrealistic) rules, but if officials are going to overlook certain violations let it be the ones which conduce [help to bring about] less to an errant Press.

Training Tips for Pressing

When a lifter utilizes a certain set pressing pattern he should practice it with light, medium, and heavy weights, just as he practices the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. In its most sophisticated state the Press is no less a technical lift. Aside from constant style practice of the Press, various supplemental exercises can be used.

One is to hold a light bar overhead, then lower into degrees of backbend or hip sag. This should also be done with with the bar across the chest to become more familiar with the position and to induce back flexibility. In both exercises stretch further than you ever would in competition. Style practice is something quite apart from strength training, however. Most time should be spent pressing in relatively strict form to build maximum power. Incline pressing is valuable too.

The proper pressing style will see most lifters add about 50 pounds to the best lift they can muster in strict style. One observer claims Rudolf Plukfelder, who has done 341 as a lightheavy, cannot manage 286 strictly in training. Nor can lightweight Sergey Lopatin, 306 in competition, handle 231 strictly in the gym.   

What does it all mean? It means if you want to compete with the Big Boys you have to lift like them. Put so-called moral considerations aside. In sports there is no point handicapping yourself with worry over a rulebook. The judges don't enforce it anyway, but no one loses out since all have the opportunity to learn and use the techniques which result in increased Press marks.

Adopt a style comfortable and natural to you. It should be based around the one just described, with individual variations. This is the way most competent lifters regardless of body structure of match temperament are pressing. Avoid "dead giveaway" extraneous motions, like bouncing the bar off the chest, which are easily spotted and disqualified. Work for a smooth technique . . . each part of the lift blending smoothly into the next. Minimize backbend and put as much "press" into the effort as possible but use enough "starting position blast" to be sure the Press will be completed.

Note the distinction, however, between an all-out heave and kick which is nothing short of a Jerk without actual knee dip, and a well-executed, carefully planned athletic body snap which blasts the bar through a basically static body position. Do not utilize the former unless the judges are blind, ignorant, or both. Never practice it either to avoid being inculcating bad habits. But do learn the 'bow and arrow' method or its variations. It is an openly accepted part of weightlifting and absolutely necessary for competition in today's era of double bodyweight Presses.

Not everyone can expect to Press 400 pounds, but by taking advantage of the whiplash capabilities in the human body, and the relaxed rules and attitudes now in force, near-immediate gains of 10 to 50 pounds can be yours.

The Front Squat - 1959

Bill Pearl

One of Vic Tanny's first gyms.
Click the pic to ENLARGE and note
the heavy bar hanging from chains on the left.

Joe Weider, Bill "Peanuts" West, Bill McArdle, Larry Scott

Don't for a moment think that I'm short-selling the regular back squat/deep knee bend in this article. Far from it! There's no finer exercise for the entire lower body . . . for some bodybuilders. Unfortunately, not everyone who practices this version of the squat gets an equal benefit. Why?
1) Because skeletal structure of certain individuals' legs (extra long femur, or upper thigh bone) prevents them doing the regular squat either correctly or with adequate weight to force rapid muscle growth and increases in strength. 

2) Because the skeletal formation of the upper body (too long a torso) forces the lifter to lean too far forward, or to round the back, or to cheat too much. When this happens, the regular squat ceases to be either a squat or a leg exercise. It becomes a combination deadlift and good-morning exercise in which the hips, buttocks and back do at least 50% of the work.

You must have seen dozens of barbell men who faithfully perform the regular squat in this incorrect and partially effective manner. They just have to do the exercise wrong . . . they can't help it!

In order to maintain some kind of balance they jut their shoulders forward and throw their buttocks far backward whe3n they get into difficulty with the weight. And that's invariably at the most important point of each repetition . . . at the "half way down" mark, when the thigh muscles re being worked near their sticking point.

Now, to continue to insist upon this version of the squat will reward the unwary bodybuilder with a peculiar type of thigh development . . . "turnip" thighs. Thighs thick at the top, but which taper off so quickly that they really do look like overgrown turnips.

Since it is the dream of every bodybuilder to build the fuller, sculptured type of thighs, it is obvious that he must adopt the squat variation the will do just that . . . . THE FRONT SQUAT.

The wonderful thing about the Front Squat is that it accomplishes a twofold objective:

1) Because of the position in which the weight is held at the shoulders, it is impossible to do the Front Squat incorrectly without losing the bar. Consequently, every inch of the thigh muscles is worked strongly.

2) Because of correct squatting form which the Front Squat insures, it is of tremendous help in maintaining good form in the regular, half, parallel, or basic power squats. Once you become mentally aware that you are squatting with correct form, once you feel the muscles responding wholeheartedly to such correct form, you carry this form awareness over into the other squat variations. Your regular (Olympic style) squat will improve after the first 30 days of implementing the Front Squat. You will use poundages you never dreamed you could use. Best of all, your thigh muscles will soon take on a shape that they would never acquire if you insisted on squatting in only one style.

Now, how should you arrange your schedule to include this wonderful exercise? How much weight should you use? How should it be alternated with your other leg exercises? How much time should you give the Front Squat? How many sets and reps?

Taking your questions in order:

1) Use your imagination and ingenuity when working the Front Squat into your regular routine. Don't just throw all your other leg exercises away. Work into it gradually. Also, if you do the regular squat fairly well, by all means continue to include it in your workouts, using Front Squats to get a new response from your thighs and to assist in bringing your regular squat form up even higher.

However, if you have extremely long thigh bones or a very long torso, and have found the regular squat to be both painful and not very rewarding muscularly . . . toss it out for the while. Wait until you've had several weeks of front squatting, then return to the regular squat and note the amazing skill with which you can do it.

2) Your primary objective is to do the Front Squat with heavier and heavier weights while still maintaining the proper form.

3) If you have decided to include both the front and the regular squat in your routine, try dividing the exercises into equal periods of time ... say, 15 minutes of front squats and 15 minutes of the regular squat.

4) How many sets and reps? Well, you'' find front squatting quite different from regular squatting, as regards number of repetitions. When doing regular squats you can perform high, medium, or low reps. But front squats are usually practiced only in the low rep category . . . perhaps four at the most. After that, if you're handling a fairly heavy poundage, you'll have some difficulty in holding the bar in correct position . . . even if you're an experienced performer. However, you can make up for this by doing lots of sets . . . say around 10.

Now, as time goes by, and you see the progress you're making, you'll want to handle even more weight. Can you do this with the Front Squat? Certainly . . . by using partial movements. Just put a barbell on squat supports or boxes and load it. You can do three-quarter front squats, half front squats, quarter front squats . . . just as you can with any other squat variation.

First, do your 15 minutes of regular squats in whatever manner and with whatever weight you are accustomed and able to. That part of your leg program done with, try this:

1) Load your bar with your usual comfortable Front Squat weight. Now perform 5 sets of 3-4 reps with a suitable rest period between each set. These are FULL front squats.

2) Now, on the next set and again with the bar on the supports, load it with 15% more weight than you have just been using. Perform 3 sets of 3 reps of THREE-QUARTER front squats.

3) Load still more weight on the bar, and do 2 sets of 2 reps of the HALF front squat.

4) Finally, load as much weight as you think you can manage on the bar and do 2 sets of one rep each in the QUARTER front squat.

Here are some suggestions which will help to make the Front Squat a more comfortable exercise:

1) If you find difficulty in holding the bar comfortably an securely in position, try this -- pass a thick towel around your neck and loop in into a big knot that hangs at the base of your neck. This will act as a support for the bar as it rests across the front of your shoulders. In this way, the bar can't roll or slide as you squat. Moreover, it will take some of the strain off your elbows and wrists; it will stabilize the weight and because of this you'll feel so secure that you'll be more able to concentrate strongly on proper performance of the exercise.

2) If you find that there's a tendency toward losing balance, and you feel like you're either going to pitch forward or fall backward as you reach the halfway mark, note what kind of shoes you are wearing when you squat. Perhaps the heels are too low, or too high.

3) Any squat depends for its correct and complete performance on the relative bone lengths of your thighs and the calf bones as well. If, as concerns squatting, one of these bones is too long, you'll soon know it by the seeming difficulty of performance of the squat. When this happens don't give up the exercise! Instead, compensate for the pull of gravity by lowering or heightening the position of your heels. Try it.

4) Next, you must find the foot spacing that suits your purposes. To do this, try pointing your toes outward at different angles, as well as experimenting with the actual distance between your feet, until you find the combination that is most comfortable and secure.

5) After a time you'll find that you can hold the weight of the bar more comfortably and securely because you've acquired the habit of keeping a straight, flat back with your eyes looking upward. Always keep your elbows well to the front as you look upward and as you consciously keep your back straight and flat . . . this will all act as further security.

Trial and error will be your best teacher in the performance, the scheduling, the alternation, the number of sets and reps, and the amount of weight to use in the Front Squat. But as I have said, work into this fine exercise gradually and never be discouraged by the initial awkwardness, discomfort and difficulty of full and correct performance. All this will pass as you give it more thought and practice, more concentration and greater effort each session.

Soon, you'll work into a terrific "free wheeling" movement and you'll feel a wonderful exhilaration every time you rack a bar to Front Squat. Once you pass the awkward-at-the-start part of your Front Squat development, and the exercise begins to really click, really shifts into high gear -- you won't trade it for any exercise in the book!  


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Exercise Setpoint - Jerry Robinson (1989)

Jerry Robinson founded and served as CEO of Health for Life, before moving on to co-found 
Dakim Brain Fitness, a unique brain training protocol.

Push it harder! 
Up that bench press by 10 pounds. 
Pile on another 25 for squats! Do more! 
Do still more!

Is this the attitude required for bodybuilding success? To put it another way -- does constantly striving to increase the number of reps and pounds lifted always make for maximum gains? And if not, what does?

We're going to answer those questions this month by exploring some of the adaptations that underlie increased body mass and strength.

Two Important Changes

The weight training formula most bodybuilders use to put on mass (3-5 sets of 6-8 reps per exercise) is very similar to the weight training formula other types of athletes use to develop muscular strength.

This sort of regimen causes a number of changes in the body. Of these, two are most important: 

1) improved nervous control of muscle; and
2) increased muscle fiber size. 

Let's consider each of these individually.

Nervous Control

 There are a lot of muscle fibers in a muscle. When stimulated, individual muscle fibers always contract as violently as possible. A single fiber cannot vary its contractile intensity relative the the load against which it is acting. To compensate for the wide variety of possible load conditions (playing the piano obviously doesn't require the same output as lifting weights), the central nervous system stimulates exactly the amount of fibers necessary to perform the job at hand. 

There is a limit, however, to the number of fibers you can call upon at a given instant. And this limit puts a ceiling on your strength.

Strength training increases the number of fibers you can voluntarily contract. This improvement in ability to recruit muscle fibers is what's primarily responsible for the dramatic increases in strength most athletes experience during their first six months of lifting weights.

Note that this change just involves your nervous system -- it doesn't involve physiological changes in the muscle itself. Indeed, improved recruitment is how some small individuals get to be as strong as some large individuals without getting any bigger.

In summary, the first important adaptation caused by strength training is increased recruitment of muscle fibers. More fibers recruited means more available "strength." This adaptation is purely neurological -- it does not involve any change in the physical appearance of muscle. 

Increased Fiber Size

 The second adaptation that occurs as a result of strength training is an increase in the cross-sectional diameter of muscle fibers. More specifically, what increases is the amount of contractile proteins in the myofibrils -- the component of muscle fibers that actually does the contracting. Having a greater quantity of the contractile proteins increases the potential tension a muscle can achieve when stimulated by the nervous system.

Clearly, increased fiber size does affect the physical appearance of muscle. The degree to which it contributes to your increases in strength is determined by a number of factors, including sleep, level of life stress, diet, and, of course, the way you approach your workout.

You're In Control

There are two important concepts here. The first is the distinction between the neurological and physiological adaptations to strength training.

The second is the idea that you have control over the relative contribution of those two adaptations. Depending on the way you work out, you can stimulate more neurological adaptation and less physiological adaptation (greater fiber recruitment, less size increase), or more physiological adaptation and less neurological adaptation (less fiber recruitment, but greater size).

The optimum workout calls for maximum physiological adaptation, preferably with minimum workout effort. Surprisingly, the attitude illustrated at the top of this article (more . . . more . . . more) is the exact opposite of the attitude necessary to achieve this goal. Here's why.

If you constantly push to lift more weight, never relenting in your quest for additional plates, neurological adaptation will (usually) outpace physiological adaptation.  

And, once you have adapted to a higher workout intensity based on the neurological ability to lift more weight, you will find that if you back off to a lower intensity level (for example, to an earlier version of your program with less weight or fewer sets), your muscle mass will stop increasing. 

There's no mystery why this is so. Having adapted to an intensity level associated with greater neurological strength, working at a lower intensity no longer represents sufficient overload to stimulate growth. 

And there's the rub: In this scenario, you have raised your threshold for gains. And you have done so with no increase in body mass!

Generally speaking, if you keep increasing your strength through neurological adaptation -- brought on by continually increasing number of exercises, pace, and amount of weight you are lifting -- and you don't allow your body mass to increase as much as possible for a given training intensity, you're stuck! You will be forced to train at or above the new elevated level to achieve any increases in mass.

That means the mass increases you could have achieved training at a lower level (less time, less effort), you will now only be able to achieve training at a higher level (more time, more effort).

The bottom line is that if you are trying to increase muscle mass, allow your body to stabilize at a new weight whenever you increase the intensity of your training. Don't be quick to bump up weight, pace, and number of sets, or you waste both energy and time!

Likewise, if you are training to increase definition, stay with a particular workout intensity level until you stop seeing improvements. If you are quick to add new exercises and do more reps, you will have to keep doing those new exercises at that increased number or reps to see any substantial improvement in definition.

Anything less will not represent an overload to the target muscle or muscle group and will not trigger the desired adaptive response.

In Review

For a given training intensity (combined effect of amount of weight lifted, pace, number of sets per body part, and mental focus), you can achieve a certain increase in muscle strength, endurance and bulk.

Working at a particular exercise intensity limits your ability to increase muscle mass, endurance and strength training at a lower intensity.

If you continually increase workout intensity without allowing your body to realize the maximum gains possible at each training intensity level, you force yourself to work much harder than necessary to achieve your goals.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

On Overcoming Adversity - Judd Biasiotto

Lectures Delivered Worldwide Between 1985-1995

Lecture delivered to the Kansas City Royals Baseball Team

 -- Note: This is a rather long chapter, so I'll be adding it bit by bit.
Check back every so often if you're into it.

I'm really excited about being here tonight. In fact, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do tonight than speak to the World Championship Kansas City Royals. Well, actually I can, but it's immoral and illegal.

All kidding aside, it's a real honor to be able to address the best baseball players in the world. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive when Branch Rickey III asked me to talk to you tonight. Being somewhat concerned about that fact, I asked Branch what he wanted me to talk about. He said, "Tell them the same thing you did last year; they won't know the difference."

Now, I don't know who he was trying to insult, me or you, but I'll just assume it's you. Still, I'm going to talk to you about something completely different this time, even though I realize you won't know it. I'm going to talk to you about adversity -- about overcoming setback. You know, I firmly believe that in order to be really successful in sports and in life you have to learn to deal with adversity. If you study the really successful people in the world, both past and present, you will find that they are people who keep trying even when they consistently fail. Abraham Lincoln, arguably the greatest president the United States ever had, is a prime example of a man who refused to let failure defeat him. Consider the record of failures Lincoln compiled over the years:

In 1831 he failed in business.
In 1832 he was defeated for the Legislature.
In 1833 he again failed in business.
In 1836 Lincoln suffered a nervous breakdown.
In 1838 he was defeated for Speaker of the House.
In 1840 he was defeated for Elector.
In 1843 he was defeated for the Senate.
In 1856 he was defeated for the vice-presidency, and
In 1856 he was again defeated for the Senate.

Finally, in 1860 he won something. The Presidency of the United States.

Isn't that incredible? Lincoln's not the only person to rise above his failures and become successful. In fact, history is full of such examples.

Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read.
Isaac Newton failed a number of times in grade school and high school.
Walt Disney was fired as a newspaper reporter because he was not a "creative thinker."
And did you know that he was also given a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps School?
Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college.
Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade.
Jim Plunkett was cut from his high school football team.
Both Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes were defeated a number of times as amateurs.
Curt Leslie lost the first eleven contests that he entered in powerlifting.
Bill Russell was cut from both his Junior and Senior basketball teams when he was in the ninth grade.
Roger Staubach was at best a mediocre football player in high school.
O.J. Simpson was such a bad running back in Junior College that they made him a defensive tackle.
Sholly Mann was completely paralyzed as a child but went on to win two gold medals in the '64 Olympics -- at the age of 15!

Believe me, that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of people who have achieved greatness by overcoming failure and/or adversity. The world belongs to such people. Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr. put it best when he said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge amid controversy."

You know, most people invariably assume that adversity is inherently bad. I don't believe that for a second. Show me a man who hasn't had adversity in this life and I'll show you someone who hasn't lived. Adversity constitutes a sign of life. In fact, I would venture to say that the more adversity you have, the more alive you are. Adversity helps you grow; it builds character and endurance.

I would like to tell you about an extraordinary man named Troyon Myree. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to meet some pretty awesome men. Larry Holmes. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Paul Anderson, Dick Butkus, Lee James, Carl Lewis and Mike Tyson, just to name a few. In my opinion, when it comes to sheer courage and determination, Troyon stands head and shoulders above all the rest. At least, that's the way I see it.

I first met Troyon in 1988 at Tony's Gym in Albany, Georgia. It was an amazing thing. I imagine at some time or the other, when you meet someone new, you may get that certain special feeling that I do . . . but when I meet someone who is unique, I get vibrations from them. It's a marvelous feeling, like something beautiful is happening between us, and and it's going to be very good. That's the way it was with Troyon. I liked him immediately. He was a strange mix; big and powerful with the body of a Greek god, yet he was gentle and kind and so full of wonderful things to share. He was simply a magnificent human being.

We quickly became good friends and trained together for close to a year. I made some phenomenal gains that year, not so much physically as I did intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. I have to contribute most of that growth to Troyon. He was so positive, so loving, and so caring. His entire life seemed to be one of giving . . the way I want my life to be, and I am sure the way you want your life to be. My vibrations were right. It was very good.

At the end of the year, Troyon was transferred to Okinawa, Japan, to continue his career as a military communications specialist. I received one letter from him after he left. I've kept that letter to this day. Let me tell you some of what he wrote. His words are poignant and inspiring.

"Judd, when you begin to realize the potential of God within you, nothing will be impossible to you, not even a 600 or 700 pound squat. Our Lord said, 'If ye have the faith as a grain of mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible unto you.' When a person is defeated in his mind or is overwhelmed by a defeating situation, he is doomed unless he can perceive and cultivate the inner powers that God has given him . . . I refuse to even entertain the thought of quitting. Never quit, Judd. Believe in your greatness and you will become great. As we have discussed many times, nothing is impossible.

P.S. I'll be back before you know it, so save me a spot . . . God Bless you."

After receiving this letter, I didn't hear from Troyon until this past year. I was working out at the Gym when I heard this faint voice behind me, "Judd, did you save me my spot?"

When I turned around, there was Troyon . . . sitting in a wheelchair . . .

He was paralyzed from the chest down, hands almost nonfunctional -- a quadriplegic; the most devastating condition a person can endure and still survive. When I first saw him I was horrified. Hell, at first I didn't even recognize him. His once magnificent body had been transformed to a mass of nonfunctional protoplasm. It was both heartbreaking and scary.

But within seconds, I started getting those vibrations. The ones that tell you it was going to be good. Again my vibrations were right.

Just three days after I received the aforementioned letter from Troyon, he was stricken with Buillain-Barre syndrome. This disease is a virus that attacks the body's nervous system and its ability to ward off other diseases. It strikes suddenly and restricts respiration, speech, and movement of the arms and legs. It's noticeable effects normally are limited to slight physical defects, such as a limp or slurred speech. In Troyon's case, however, the disease was more severe. It had rendered him speechless or almost a year and without use of his arms and legs for three years. The good news was that over time there was a chance for recovery. Of course at the time, Troyon believed he would recover . . . how does it go? "If ye have the faith as a grain of mustard seed . . . nothing shall be impossible unto you."

It wasn't just his condition that Troyon had to deal with. Eight months before his illness, his brother died of a sudden brain hemorrhage. Then one year later tragedy struck again when his father was killed working as a security guard at the Red Roof Inn in Homewood, Alabama. For most mortal men, such crushing blows would be overbearing, but Troyon doesn't function like most mortal men. He is a different breed of man. He sees light where others see darkness.

Let me tell you what a few excerpts say from another letter I received from Troyon recently.

"At first, I constantly questioned, 'God, why me?' I felt I was being punished. But I learned to appreciate myself as I am and my life for what it is.

"The first impression people get of me is a man in a wheelchair, but people have been forced to get to know me from the inside out, instead of the outside in. What happened to me was a growing experience. It taught me about adversity and going on. Nowadays everything teaches me more about what true life is all about . . . not taking ANYTHING for granted.

"I know I'll lift again, and I know I'll get my body back to where it was, but more importantly, I've put weightlifting back in proper perspective. It's fun and challenging, but there are more important things in life. I'm lucky because now I realize that I have the opportunity to teach other athletes the same. Life is really beautiful when you take time to appreciate it. I'll be back though; I still love lifting."

Now, I know this is going to blow your mind, but Troyon is back bigger and better than ever. Last year he ran a full marathon and this year he plans to compete in an Iron Man championship. I don't know about you, but I couldn't do the latter without a motor boat and a car. I guarantee you, Troyon will do it. He refuses to let setbacks set him back. Actually, I owe Troyon a lot. When I came back to take a shot at breaking the 600-lb barrier, Troyon was my major inspiration. Every day that I went to the gym to train during my comeback I thought of Troyon; his courage, his determination, and his will. By living vicariously through Troyon I learned that I could be anything I wanted to be . . . provided I first had faith, and was willing to work hard and make sacrifices. And let me tell you this, I found that when you sacrifice something in order to reach a goal that you feel is important, the pain of the loss is negligable.

I also learned that happiness comes only when we push our hearts and minds to the furthermost reaches of which we are capable. I learned that the meaning of life is to matter, to be all that you can be. No man ever taught me more -- before or since.

Here's something you might find interesting. One of my most embarrassing and disastrous moments in life turned out to be one of the best things that's ever happened to me. I have to tell you this story. It's funny as hell and it's a prime example of how adversity can lead to growth and development. You may have heard this story before, my mother has told it to just about everyone in the world.

This is a once upon a time thing . . . so brace yourself. Now, I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but when I was in high school I was a basketball player. Actually, in all modesty, I was an awesome basketball player. At 5'6" and 137 pounds, I was the white version of Spud Webb before there even was a Spud Webb. 



I had exceptional ball control skills with either hand, a deadly jumpshot from 20 feet, and yes, I could dunk . . . with either hand. I spent the majority of my youth working on honing these skills. Basketball was just about my entire life at that time. During my senior year in high school, I averaged 23 points, 11 assists, 7 steals, and 7 rebounds per game. That same year, in a summer league which a majority of college players, I averaged 47.6 points a game. Like I said, I could play . . . and I knew it!

After I graduated from high school, I chose Southern College in Statesboro, Georgia, as my next step to showcase my basketball skills. I picked up at Georgia where I left off in high school. That's right, I was AWESOME! In fact, by the time the season opener rolled around I had been elevated to the varsity team, becoming the only freshman in the school's history to play varsity.

It was that opening game of my freshman year that significantly changed my life. The single event in my life that was responsible for me becoming a world class athlete and in turn helping others to do the same. I remember it vividly.

I was in the locker room getting ready with the rest of the team. I was really psyched. In fact, I don't ever remember being as emotionally charged for a game as I was then. My entire family and my high school sweetheart had driven over 1,000 miles to see me play. I remember thinking that if I got into the game there was absolutely no way that anyone was going to stop me. During my career I was always confident, but this was different. I wasn't confident, I was convinced. Unfortunately, that feeling didn't last long.

When we went out on the court for our warmups, I almost had a heart attack. There must have been over 5,000 spectators in the stands. Never in my life had I played before that many people. In high school, the most people I ever remember playing before was about 500, and most of those people were my friends. All of a sudden it seemed as if everything was closing in on me. My heart started pounding like a jackhammer and I was having trouble breathing normally. Worse yet, my muscles felt tight and tense, and it suddenly seemed as if all my energy was drained from my body.

During my warmups, about the best you could say was that I functioned like a motor moron. I threw several passes away and couldn't even make a simple layup. I must have looked like a guy who had just seen a basketball for the first time. It was the first time in my life that I felt the paralyzing effects of fear and anxiety. It was a frightening experience! I was being robbed of the grace and skill that I had worked so hard to develop, and there was nothing I could do to overcome this emotion that was destroying me. In all honesty, I couldn't wait until the game started so I could take a position on the bench. Once there I figured I would be able to regain my composure. When the game started, I took a position at the end of the bench where I felt somewhat more secure, but I was still a far cry from confident and relaxed.

In the first half, our team swarmed all over the opposition. It was a good six minutes into the game before they made their first point, and by the time the half rolled around we had opened a comfortable 23 point lead. In the second half we were just as dominant. At one time we had as much as a 30 point lead. Not surprisingly, Coach Radovich started substituting freely. I hate to admit this, but I didn't want to get in that game . . . I was scared. Then, with about three minutes left in the game, I heard my name called as if from afar, B-I-A-S-I-O-T-T-O! Once again anxiety seized me. By the time I walked from the bench over to Coach Radovich I was shaking like a leaf. "Biasiotto, I want you to get in there and get tenacious." I was so nervous I almost asked him what number "Tenacious" was. After I gained my composure as best I could, I slipped off my warmups and ran onto the court. When I reached mid-court, the noise from the crowd was deafening. I could not believe the reception I was getting. The entire place was going crazy. I figured it was because I was a freshman playing in a varsity game. The I glanced into the stands where my mother and father were sitting. They were both turning blue with laughter as was everyone seated around them. I must have stood there for a good ten seconds before I realized that something was wrong. It was about this time that one of my teammates informed me that I didn't have my pants on. To my complete horror, I had slipped off my basketball shorts along with my warmups. There I stood in front of God and 5,000 fans in sneakers, socks, and jock.

When I returned to the bench to get my pants, Coach Radovich was rolling on the floor with laughter. "Biasiotto," he said, "you're showing your ass again." To make matters worse, the nest the the local paper had huge headlines: "Eagles Crush Rams 89-54; Biasiotto Put on Fine Floor Show." Not the kind of headlines I had imagined before the game.

At the time I was only sixteen years old -- just a kid. I thought my whole life was over. I wanted to transfer schools, but my father wouldn't let me. I wanted to kill myself, but he wouldn't let me do that either. It was a nightmare. But there was a light in that darkness -- as there always is. You see, the experience made me realize that if I wasn't able to control my emotions, I'd never be a good athlete. Consequently, I spent a good portion of my college career investigating techniques to enhance human and/or athletic performance. There is no question in my mind that the knowledge I acquired during that time was directly responsible for the majority of what I have accomplished today. In other words, what was my worst nightmare turned out to be a blessing. And believe me, I'm not the only one whose life was positively affected by adversity. There are literally millions of people in the history of the world who have turned adversity into opportunity. In fact, I'd venture to say that adversity is responsible for most of the really great things that happen in the world.

Let me tell you a little story . . .   

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Heavy Jerk Training - "Joe Weider" (1959)

Ibrahim Shams of Egypt
preparing for a 325 lb Clean and Jerk

A triple-bodyweight Jerk is possible. It will be done in the foreseeable future! Had we made that statement five -- even two -- years ago, we would have been the laughing stock of the weightlifting world.

Even today there are experienced weightlifters who believe a triple-bodyweight Jerk to be impossible; so for all you "doubting Thomases" here are a few examples of actual performances which definitely prove that very soon you'll see a  man raise three times his bodyweight overhead.

1) Thirty years ago a One-Arm Jerk of even the light weight of 170 lbs was a phenomenal feat. But along came Charles Haas, an Austrian lifter who, at the bodyweight of 150, was able to Jerk with one hand 248 lbs. Now, just imagine a double-bodyweight One Arm Jerk! This proves the potential the human body can lift if proper specialization is practiced.

2) In today's bantamweight class, the champions have already jerked (after cleaning) two-and-a-half times their bodyweight! Just imagine what they would Jerk if they concentrated their strength and energy on this phase of the lift alone.

3) Chen Tse Kai of China -- a 123-lb lifter -- cleaned and jerked 308 lbs. He need to Jerk only 61 pounds more to complete a triple-bodyweight lift.

4) Our own Ike Berger -- weighing 132 lbs -- has done 319 officially, although undoubtedly he has lifted far more in training. Another 77 pounds will put him in the ranks of the triple-bodyweight lifters.

Now, it's easy to make a claim, but it's another matter to back it up. And our answer to how a triple-bodyweight Jerk wil be accomplished is found in Basic Power Training.

Basic Power Training is not something from outer space. Granted, however, it is of bigger impact than a breadbox, and perhaps one day will marry your sister. Many weightlifters -- and almost all bodybuilders -- have never heard of it. But when they learn how it's done, they can easily see why it can and will make them more powerful than they ever dreamed they could be!

What is Basic Power Training?

Just this -- the raising, supporting, controlling (balancing), and lowering of tremendous weights over the range of just a few inches -- various positions -- to build extraordinary tendon, ligament and muscle strength, permitting the lifter to handle far greater weight than he would ever be expected to do in weightlifting competition.

That's the system in a nutshell, and that's why weightlifting records are soaring today. The men who are setting these new records are men with inquiring minds -- men who have already begun experimenting with Basic Power Training. And it is they and possibly you who will be making the triple-bodyweight Jerk as common as cabbages, and even sisters marrying training methods in the years to come!

The "doubting Thomases" who have heard of Basic Power Training, yet who have shied away from trying it for fear that it might cut their totals in other lifts are very unwise, my brethren. Why? Because increased tendon, ligament and muscle strength will improve all overhead lifts, both snatching and pressing movements.

Men like Kono, Berger, Schemansky and Vinci (and maybe even some of them foreigners too) have never feared to explore any new system which would help boost their totals, and they have found in Basic Power Training the one method that does the trick. Remember, this training method makes one helluva fine brother in law to boot! Their continual record setting pace proves this to be true, beyond the shadow of a doubt. 

In order to make a triple-bodyweight Jerk, the four fundamental phases of the lift must be given individual attention with specialized strengthening exercises which will guarantee:

1) A strong leg thrust to shove tremendous weight overhead.

2) A secure lockout when getting under the weight.

3) Ability to rise quickly to erect position from the split.

4) Control (balance) of the weight and recovery from an off-balance position.

Now, if the Jerk were practiced like most bodybuilding exercises are -- by adding a couple of pounds of weight on the bar whenever the exercise becomes easier to do -- you would be old and gray before you could even dream of attempting anything anywhere close to triple-bodyweight overhead and by then it would be too late.

That is why practicing the power movements explained in this article will build such enormous power into tendons, ligaments and muscles, that the danger points of these phases will be hurdled, and a successful lift performed.

The triple-bodyweight Jerk is essentially a flashy, theatrical, dramatic lift which must be trained for as well as performed in a dramatic manner. And because the very  basis of all drama is exaggeration, that is the basis of the principle used here . . . exaggeration of the weight being handled. The handling of far, far heavier weights in practice so that your competition lift will be a thrilling, eye-filling spectacle as the barbell flashes overhead without the slightest visible sign of effort! In other words, your competition poundage will seem and be lighter because of the tremendous extra weight you used in practice.

To utilize this tremendous extra poundage in the four developmental phases of the Jerk, you will need either a pair of strong chains or a set of power stands. Whichever you choose, the length of the chains or the height of the stands must be adjusted to your individual height and needs, so that the bar which rests upon either of these supports will be at the exact shoulder height where the jerk overhead begins. 

So, if you can Jerk 200 lbs at present, it might take weeks before you could bring 210 lbs to your shoulders for the Jerk. But by using these power exercises and supports, you can, this very minute, put 240 lbs on your shoulders and begin right now to strengthen your thrust!

The Exercises 

 Click to ENLARGE

1) How to Strengthen Your Thrust.

Load the bar on the supports with 20% more weight than you can Jerk. Hold the bar on the shoulders, thrusting it up just a few inches . . . one or two inches or more if you can. Keep playing with it, trying to raise it just a few inches more each time. Practice this in each of your workouts, and once every week put 50% more weight on the bar and practice heavy thrusts. Don't worry if you can't get the bar more than one or two inches up . . . it'll go up easier next workout!

2) How to Strengthen Your Lockout Under Weight.

Here's where you need powerful ligaments and tendons. The Basic Power Exercise used here involves supporting tremendous poundages at arms' length -- raising such poundages a few inches higher with stiff arms -- and locking the arms under greater poundages than you will be called upon to actually jerk.

The technique is this: Adjust the height of your supports so that the bar is about three inches below the height of the completed Jerk. Now, grasping the bar with elbows locked, dip the legs in a simulated split position (the knee just slightly unlocks). From this lowered position, rise to erect position and repeat. This is really just a slight dipping movement, designed to assist you in rising with a heavy weight in arms-locked position. Try to make this a repetitive or continuous movement so as to strengthen the ligaments and tendons and the lockout under weight.

3) How to Rise Quickly From Split Position.

Now you will have to adjust your supports so that the bar rests at arms' length overhead height in full split position. From this point, try to rise with the weight just an inch or two. Over time, keep at it until you are rising as much as four or five inches. This builds the greatest leg strength and flexibility, and puts that 'power glide' into the completion of the Jerk.

4) How to Control or Balance the Weight.

This is a tricky part of the Jerk, and many stellar weightlifters fail with the Jerk because they are not expert in balancing the barbell. One way to learn balance is through imbalancing the bar. Use far less weight than in any of the previous exercises and load one end of the bar with several pounds less than the other. Now practice jerking it, practice rising with it, practice splitting with it, and just 'mess around with it' . . . trying to throw yourself just a bit off balance with the object of correcting the balance.

Also, you might occasionally lift with the hands in an off-center position. Make things tough for yourself in training, then in any competition you'll have no fears!

Insofar as weightlifters of renown are concerned with Basic Power Training, here are a few who know its real value:

1) Paul Anderson hit upon this method early in his career [likely through Bob Peoples influence] -- although he did not specialize on the Jerk -- and became a champion before he reached the age of 21.

2) Ronald Walker, the great English heavyweight, rarely lost a Jerk during his illustrious career, and he could support more than 600 lbs overhead.

3) John Grimek became so interested in Basic Power Training that he was eventually able to support overhead a 1,000 lb weight slung from rafters on chains.

Developing Greater Strength, by John Grimek:

But this concerns bodybuilders as well as weightlifters, for it happens that Basic Power Training methods will do the same wondrous things for the bodybuilder as for the competitive lifter.

Size Increases With the Rack, by Anthony Ditillo:

Thoughts on the Power Rack, by Anthony Ditillo:

Power Rack Work, by Bob Simpson:

Partial Arts, by John Meadows:

Heavy Partials for Size and Strength, by Greg Nuckols at T-Nation:

The Power Partials Program, by Chad Waterbury:

There's more if you search this blog, and around the net.
Don't forget discussion forums, but use your head before believing anything.

These methods build amazing ligament, tendon and muscle strength which permits the body to perform bigger bench presses, squats, military presses, presses behind neck, dumbbell presses with big weights and a host of other power movements.

Marvin Eder was an exceptionally strong bodybuilder and lifter who recognized the merits of Basic Power Training. His 485-lb Bench Press and 330-lb Press at 190 lbs are a direct result of this method of power training. To this day, although having retired from intensive training, he retains a superb physique and great strength.

Basic Power Training, in addition to building stronger ligament and tendon strength, gives a very powerful, rugged look to the body. The trapezius muscles take on a stronger look, as do all the major muscles of the body if trained appropriately with this method.

As a bodybuilder, you should perform some kind of Basic Power Training at least once a week. Although you may never want to lift three times your bodyweight over head, you'll certainly improve the overall look of your physique. 

Next month we'll discuss the possibilities of a triple-bodyweight Clean and the methods which can be used to get closer to this sensational feat of strength:

That article is here - Heavy Clean Training, by Joe Weider:



Thursday, September 10, 2015

Heavy Clean Training - Charles A. Smith (1959)

Fantastic things are happening in the Olympic lifting world! Having lifted more than double bodyweight, many strength athletes now have set their sights on a triple-bodyweight Clean and Jerk. Here are some tips on how to increase your power for the Clean.

No article in years has stirred up such a hornet's nest of controversy as the one we recently published in this magazine concerning the triple-bodyweight Clean and Jerk.

Muscle Builder:
Sept. 1958. "Which Country Will Make the First Treble-Bodyweight Clean and Jerk."

Feb. 1959. "How to Train for the Triple Bodyweight Clean and Jerk."
This article is here:

The possibility of such a fantastic lift has stirred the hearts and fired the imagination of weightlifters all over the world. Enthusiasts from Fairbanks, Alaska to Pretoria, South Africa are demanding to know more on this subject.

While many of the letter writers range from the skeptical to the downright indignant, most weightlifters are of the opinion that the triple bodyweight Clean and Jerk is definitely possible.

"Dear Mr. Expert," writes a lifter . . . "Since no one has ever performed a triple-bodyweight Clean and Jerk, and since no known technique exists to make such a lift possible, what method can you devise that will make the lift at all possible?"

Well, you've put us on the spot. However, since we plainly pointed out how a triple-bodyweight Clean and Jerk could be performed, we will explain equally how the beginning half of the lift can be done . . . how a triple bodyweight Clean can be trained for.

We already know that it is humanly possible to lift triple bodyweight in a Front Squat! At least four internationally known lifters have accomplished this and can certainly be depended upon to succeed with even higher poundages in the future.

Chan Tse Kai of Nationalist China -- weighing 123 lbs -- has already performed not only a Clean and Jerk of 62 lbs more than double bodyweight, but -- more indicatively -- he can squat with held in front (Front Squat). Chen is only 23 years old and obviously is nowhere near his peak....

Also in the bantamweight division, both the Korean, Yo In Ho and the American, Chuck Vinci, have also made Front Squats with about 370 lbs, while in the middleweight division (165-174 lbs), Tommy Kono has made a Front Squat with nearly 500 lbs.

It must be obvious to all of you that as regards lifting triple-bodyweight the stars are just about ready to break the barrier. And it is through their wisdom in training according to basic power methods that this tremendous and thrilling feat will assuredly come to pass.

Now, here are two great problems the lifter faces when attempting a triple-bodyweight Clean from the floor to the shoulders:

1) The bar must be pulled upward with sufficient force and momentum to enable the lifter to hold or 'fix' the weight at the chest when in a deep squat or leg-split position.

2) The lifter must -- through scientific training methods -- develop sufficient power in his thighs, hips and back, so that he can be sure of standing upright for the Jerk, without being exhausted.

To accomplish the first of these stages, it is clear that the lifter must practice making upward power pulls from all angles and positions, because only through this training procedure can he develop enough muscular force to handle and sustain such large poundages.

There must be all-around pulling motions for the arms. There must be fast deadlifts for building both coordinated back, hip and thigh strength; and for short, sudden bursts of power to make fast, powerful cleaning motions with great weights.

Now, regular movements will not accomplish this, for extremely heavy weights cannot be handled. Therefore, we have devised a series of unusual movements which -- while performed by many champion lifters -- are not familiar to all lifters. These movements are all great basic, power movements and faithful performance of them will build you the needed power to clean and support much bigger poundages.

 Click Pics to ENLARGE

1) Fast Repetition Deadlifts From Graduated Levels.

This advanced training technique has built super power on all lifters who have used it appropriately. Here's a quick overview of how to use them:

A) From the Floor.
Starting with a medium weight and gradually working up in poundage . . . when it is no longer possible to add weight, go on to --

B) Using Blocks (or the rack)
Progressively shorten the range of motion of the exercise by raising the starting point of the bar, all the while continuing to increase the poundage. At first, low (6-8 inch) blocks are used; then foot-high blocks, continuing on in this manner as greater and greater weights are used.

Now, when you have continued to increase both the height of the supports and the poundage on the bar and no further gains in strength seem forthcoming, you still have an ace up your sleeve. You can do the deadlift in reverse which will build even more terrific back, hip and leg strength; and use this in a combination with reverse cleans to build equally terrific arm and shoulder strength so essential in certain parts of this lift especially where confidence is concerned.

Click to ENLARGE

Here is how the deadlift in reverse is done:
Load the barbell on sturdy boxes at about hip height, so that as you grasp the bar you are standing in an erect or nearly erect position. Now lift the weight just slightly up from the boxes and lower (or 'reverse deadlift') it to the floor, lowering the weight to the floor as slowly as possible. In this way you can overcome almost an sticking point in hip/leg/back weakness and handle heavier weights than are possible in the regular deadlift. Progressively work up to the heaviest weight you can over 6 to 9 single repetitions.

After you have done this phase of the movement, then you are ready to give your shoulders and arms an extra power boost. With the barbell still on the hip-high boxes -- but this time with considerably less weight on the bar -- bend the arms somewhat and lift the bar slightly upward until it just clears the boxes, then lower it to the floor slowly (with arms held slightly bent for as long as you can), fighting the weight all the way down, working up to a maximum weight over 6 to 9 single repetitions.

Naturally, you cannot be expected to perform either phase of this exercise in sets and repetitions. But if you can arrange to have two lifting partners to reset the barbell on the boxes, you can get more out of the exercises than when you have to re-assemble it yourself. If you do have to remove weight before returning the bar to the boxes, make sure to make each single repetition count.

Note: I've found that I can manage lifting the loaded bar back onto support boxes quite easily if I do it one end at a time. Just lift the right side of the bar up onto the box, then the left. Just a dimwitted tip for any lifters out there who, like me, have for the most part trained alone at home for decades.

Front-of-the-Neck Squats (Front Squats).

In this exercise you will need squat stands and two strong boxes (or a power rack). Adjust the squat stands to the exact height at which you hold the bar on the chest when making front squats. Adjust the boxes to the exact depth to which the plates of the barbell descend at the lowest point of the full Front Squat.

 Click to ENLARGE

Now, using the heaviest weight you can possible handle, take it off the squat stands . . . bend the knees s-l-o-w-l-y and lower into a full front squat until the plates touch the boxes. You are not to complete the squat . . . that is, you go fully down but you do not return to the starting position. 

This builds power into the legs and accustoms them to handling the heaviest poundages. Always use the heaviest possible weight in this movement and keep increasing the poundage as often as possible. Do 6 to 9 single repetitions in this exercise. 

Now, when you have completed your quota of single repetitions in the assistance (negative) Front Squat, you can remove some weight from the bar and perform 3 sets of 3 repetitions each in the Half Front Squat. 

-- judging by the writing style in this article, I'm going to guess it was penned by one of the Charles who worked for Weider around this time - Smith or Coster -- 

And you will use boxes in this exercise adjusted to exactly half-front-squat depth to make sure that your lifts do not go lower than necessary to perform the half front squat.

On the days when you have some extra energy left after this, you can perform the Regular Full Front Squat. Try 3 sets of 3 reps if you can make it. Occasionally, you might like to perform full back squats either as an alternate to the front squats, or as an "extra" if you're just bursting with latent strength. 

Splits at Graduated Levels.

In this exercise you will again need squat stands. The idea is to help you become accustomed to handling heavier weights in the fore-and-aft position of the legs during this phase of cleaning split style. 

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Your boxes and blocks will come into good usage here, for the technique is to gradually and progressively maneuver the heaviest weight into a lower and lower split position until you can easily encompass the full range of the split with the heavy weights you are working toward.

First, adjust the boxes to their highest point. Take the weight off the squat stands, go into a split until the barbell plates touch the boxes. Now continue lowering and raising while in this split position, making sure that the plates just barely graze the surface of the boxes. This builds great tensile strength and flexibility.

Put in place boxes of lesser height and do the same thing . . . and continue in this manner until you can do the deepest split with the heaviest weight. The boxes protect you from injury that might come from a too-sudden and too-deep lower of the weight. 

Try about 4 sets of 5 repetitions at four different box heights . . . one set to each height of support. And, to make sure that the greatest degree of strength and flexibility is built into the legs, practice this exercise both with weight held in front of the chest and on the back of the shoulders. 

As you can see, the sticking point of the extremely heavy Clean invariably occurs at the vital half-way point in the lift. That's why the champion lifters who will make a triple bodyweight Clean and Jerk will have to attack the problem systematically to build a steady growth of extra strength. The methods they use include the ones I have given you here.

And you . . . even if you have not the slightest intention of competing in Olympic lifting, can use the techniques described here to build great reserves of power and energy and magnificent muscle beyond anything you ever thought possible.     


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