Monday, December 21, 2015

A Unique Method of Bulking Up - Ralph Kroger (1971)

What ever happened to Ralph Kroger? I'm sure this is a question many readers have asked when Ralph disappeared from the national scene. For those readers new to Iron Man, Ralph made a meteoric rise to physique stardom in 1966 when he first annexed the Mr. California, including all the bodyparts except abdominals, and taking the Best Legs award in the Mr. America contest, beating out such giants as Oliva, Gajda, Tinnerino and Haislop.

Ralph also took third place in the Mr. America competition in one of the most hotly contested events of the past decade. The following two years Ralph limited himself to only national competition in physique, taking 4th in the 1967 Mr. America competition and 3rd in the 1968 Mr. U.S.A. crown as well as the Best Chest subdivision.

For the past two years Ralph has stayed away from national competition due to business pressures and has limited himself to local power and Olympic lifting competition, with 1600 and 1035 totals respectively as a 242 pounder.

However, Ralph has had a long range plan in mind with the ultimate goal of winning the Mr. America contest. Ralph's previous philosophy in physique competition has been to enter the contest and do as well as he can and be content with the results. Lately he has reevaluated his thinking and feels he is going to train with the intention of winning, feeling that, after all, his competitors are only human too, and that if he never misses a workout and his workouts are an intensified effort, he will end up winning the title. Considering he almost upset the unbelievable Sergio Oliva for 2nd place in 1966 with his previous happy-go-lucky attitude, with his new philosophy his competitors had better watch out. 

For the past two years Ralph has trained without missing a workout and he feels that 1971 could be his year. He is currently in the process of bulking up which he will continue to do until two months prior to the Mr. America competition, when he will alter his diet for the maximum in muscularity. 

Since the thesis of this article is bulking up, the remainder of it will be devoted to Ralph's philosophy and methods of obtaining "muscular" bulk. Ralph feels that to gain an excessive amount of weight that isn't primarily a muscular gain is largely a waste of time and faulty thinking.

By no stretch of the imagination can Ralph be termed a hard gainer as far as bodyweight. He has gone from 205 to 235 lbs in one month's time when previously gaining weight. Even at this weight he carries a trim waistline and a great deal of muscularity. He feels that diet is the prime factor in gaining weight or achieving muscularity. However, as mentioned before, he doesn't let his waistline get out of control when gaining and works it hard on a daily basis which he recommends to every trainee who is in the process of bulking up. Ralph feels that the average weight trainee would make faster gains if he paid closer attention to his diet. In his quest for greater size he avoids fried foods, but copious amounts of his food broiled, and eats a great deal of meat, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables. Rather than eat a great deal at each meal and stretch his stomach, he is constantly eating during the day. A great asset to Ralph in bulking up has been drinking raw milk in large quantities during the day, which he mixes with a commercial protein powder. Raw milk can be obtained in any health food store [ah, the '70s].

Note that very little has been said so far about his actual training when seeking bulk. Ralph feels that the training, if it is intense and the trainee has confidence in his method of training, will produce muscular gains regardless of the amount of sets, reps, or weight.

Ralph is currently training every body part, every day, seven days a week while he is bulking up. Now I realize this statement is in contrast to what most people feel is the most ideal way to train for bulking up, but it is working for Ralph. He feels that this is a beneficial way for anyone to train, and anyone in good condition could make gains from it. By doing fewer sets per body part, but more frequently, the trainee will stay enthusiastic and put more into each exercise, and also work the more neglected body parts more effectively.

As an example, how many trainees would do 15 sets of leg curls in a workout or a total of 30-45 sets of neck work in a week? Ralph does 6 sets of leg curls a day, which totals 42 sets a week.

Bulking up is, of course, a favorite topic of lifters because it is, after all, what most of them are after. This can really pose a problem for some fellows. Now, Ralph, as mentioned, is definitely not what would be considered a hard gainer in this respect, as few of the top men are. Other men, however, find it almost impossible to gain anything at all, no matter what system they use. Every man has a different metabolism, different energy level and different ability to recuperate. Some men can only bulk up on two-day-a-week training programs, while others can gain bulk very rapidly, adding many pounds of muscle quickly.

Now, because all men are different, each one having his individual pluses and minuses, it should be understood that what works for one man may not work for another. Likewise, if you are a powerlifter you will not have the same ambitions in bodybuilding or bulk building, for the powerlifter may care little for how he looks, but wants the most muscle bulk even if it might also include some fat.

Many advanced men make no changes in their training programs when bulking up but only change their diets, and can gain as much as 20 to 30 lbs in one month without adding much fat. To trim down they again stay on the same program, but again make a change in their diet.

 Many men, even advanced men, might find the every day training Ralph uses would exhaust them in two weeks. Study your own body and its responses to exercise and diet, and adapt programs to your individual needs.   

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