Monday, May 30, 2016

Massive Arms For You, Part Three - Joe Weider (1956)

Center: Tommy Suggs, Mr. Greater Pittsburgh 1966

Barbell Exercises for the Forearms

1) Standing Wrist Curl:
 - for maximum flushing action.

Stand erect and hold a barbell in the hands as you would in the regular curl. Now, keeping the elbows stiff, you curl the wrists up, then lower the wrists and curl them down toward your thighs. Curl them up to the front again and continue the back and forth wrist curling motion until your forearms are fully flushed up.

You can use a wide, narrow, and regular shoulder width hand spacing for this exercise, and each hand placement affects the forearms in a slightly different manner. It is also valuable to perform the exercise with the palms of the hands facing the body as well as facing away from it. At first, perform the exercise rather slowly. However, as you progress you can cheat by speeding up the tempo of the wrist curls which will permit the use of heavier weights.

2) Seated Wrist Curl:
 - another flushing type forearm exercise.

In this exercise, which is very similar in action to the previous, you start the movement by sitting on a bench an resting your forearms on your thighs so that only the hands and wrists extend beyond the knees. Keep the palms of the hands facing up, and hold a barbell in your hands, using a shoulder width grip.

Now, curl your wrists up, then lower the hands as much as possible, at no time raising the elbows off your thighs, and then curl the weight back up again. Keep all the curling action in the wrist. Continue curling the wrist up and down until your forearms are fully flushed up.

Since your forearms are to rest along the thighs at all times while performing this exercise, with only your wrists and hands extending beyond he knees, to alter your hand width you must also alter the position of the thighs. For a narrow grip, draw the knees close together, and for a wide grip, point them out. You can also use a palms down hand position besides the palms up.

To cheat in this exercise you perform the movement rather quickly which allows you to use a heavier weight. 

3) Lean Over Goose Neck Curl
 - to thicken the inner belly of the forearm.   

To perform this exercise, bend forward and grasp a barbell at the feet in much the same manner as you would start the regular barbell rowing exercise. The palms of the hands are facing the body and you use a regular shoulder width grip. Raise the barbell a few inches off the floor, keeping the elbows stiff and straightening up the body to lift the weight clear off of the floor. Now, maintaining this bent over position curl the weight up toward the shoulders by bending the elbows, until the lower arms are approximately parallel to the floor. Bend the wrists forward while doing so, holding the weight at the shoulders for a moment and then lower to the starting position, straightening the wrists while doing so. 

Besides the shoulder width hand spacing you can also use a wide grip or a narrow one.

To cheat in this exercise swing the weight slightly at the starting position and this will permit the employment of heavier weights.

4) Reverse Curl:
 - for strengthening the ligaments at the elbow joint.

Stand erect and hold a barbell in the hands, at the thighs, palms of the hands facing the body. Use a regular shoulder width hand spacing. Now, trying to hold the upper arms against the sides curl the barbell to the shoulders, keeping the WRISTS STRAIGHT, and not bent forward as was true of the previous exercise. Hold the weight at the shoulders for a moment and then lower again to the thighs. You can also use a wide grip and a narrow one in the exercise.

To cheat, you swing the bar and bend back just as you do in the regular cheating barbell curl. Whether you cheat or not, lower the rather slowly, for you obtain almost as much developmental benefit from lowering the weight as from curling it.

5) Dead Lift:
 - for power in the fingers and grip.

While this exercise does not build much added forearm size, since there is little muscle movement, it is valuable, never-the-less, for the tremendous power it builds.

To perform the exercise, load up a barbell to a moderately heavy poundage, about 200 lbs. should serve as a test. Bend forward and grasp the barbel in the hands, using a shoulder width spacing, palms of the hands facing the body. Stand erect, lifting the barbell up with you while doing so. This is not the exercise, it actually starts now. Maintain an upright body position and then HOLD the weight in your hands until your grip practically gives out and you would drop the weight if you didn't lower it to the floor. The proper weight to use is one which completely exhausts your gripping power in about two minutes. If you can hold the weight longer than that it is too light. If you can't hold it that long, then the weight is too heavy.

While it is impractical to use any hand spacing other than a regular shoulder width grip you can perform the exercise with the palms of the hands facing AWAY from the body and also with a reversed grip, in which the palm of one hand is facing the front, while the palm of the other hand is facing towards the body. All three types of grips should be practiced.

IMPORTANT! You must not rest the barbell on the thighs when performing this exercise. Keep bent forward at the hips just enough to permit the barbell to hand clear of the thighs.

To cheat in this exercise, raise a barbell off the ground and rest it on two boxes, each about 20 inches high. Load the barbell heavily while resting on the two boxes (the bar, not you) and stand erect. You will only have to lift the weight a few inches to assume an erect stance. Because you don't have to lift the weight all the way up from the floor you will be able to handle greater poundages, for if your practice this gripping exercise regularly, in time the strength of your grip will be so great that you will be able to hold more in your hands than your leg, hip and back muscles can raise up from the floor. Then, cheating in the above manner will be necessary if you are to progress in your grip training.

Next: Part Four, Dumbbell Exercises for the Biceps.  

Put "Life" in Your Deadlift - Richard Luckman (from Powerlifting News)

Note: I have included a Bench Press routine here by Dan Gerard, a lifter housed in the same prison as Mr. Luckman at the time this article was written. It follows the deadlift article.

Powerlifting News was pretty much the first powerlifting publication. It was around 10 years before PLUSA started coming out. There's some great stuff in those little papers! 

Pull From Just Above the Knee
Note Adjustable Stand

Luckman's Pulling Form From Just Below the Knee
Click Pics to ENLARGE

Richard Luckman

Walter Thomas

Richard "Lucky" Luckman, 1972 Junior and Senior National Champion, has held the LW DL World Record several times. This year while an inmate at Wisconsin State Prison he pulled a big 619. 

I have been reading Powerlifting News for quite a while now, so I thought I would like to give a little contribution in the way of an article about my deadlift routine and the weightlifting facilities here at the Wisconsin State Prison.

 I would like to point out that, contrary to what a lot of people think, training while one is in prison is certainly not as easy as most uninformed people seem to think. There are a lot of 'psychological' aspects to contend with, not to mention the difficulty involved in obtaining the equipment needed to train properly. Aside from the weights and Olympic bars, which the State was benevolent enough to buy for us.

ALL other equipment such as benches, racks, etc., had to be bootlegged. In other words, the materials had to be obtained contrary to prison regulations. They were then assembled on the sly, that is, illegally, under the radar. Needless to say, all this required plenty of time, care and patience, and it also involved a lot of dedicated lifters. Or, you could say 'enterprising' lifters.

But the end result has been very satisfying. We have turned out some very competitive lifters over the last five years or so. To me, this has been a BIG boost.

The diet here leaves a lot to be desired. In prison you have to eat what is thrown at you day after day. And believe me, it sure isn't anything to write home about!

There is also a ton of petty bullshit that has to be put up with day after day. So, if people think training conditions in prison are so great, I think they are misinformed, and not really too smart at all.

Luckman's Deadlift Routine


Deadlift Out of the Rack (bar is set just over the kneecap. Use straps)


Deadlift Off of Blocks (bar is set 6" below kneecap. Use straps)
Then continue doing DEADLIFT OFF FLOOR  - 

I hope this information will be of help to some lifters.

Ron Gerard's Bench Press Routine

We have a lifter here by the name of Ron Gerard. He laid off lifting for four years. In that period he was involved in a head on collision with a car. He was on a motorcycle. When Ron started training seriously again about two months ago, he could barely BP 265. But in this two month period of time he has brought his bench up to 405. Nice gain? In case anyone would like to know the type of routine he employed in gaining back so fast, here it is.


Bench Press: 

Incline Bench Press: 

5 sets of 8 with weight added to a belt, adding 25 lbs. each set
alternating each set with supersetted Lat Pulldowns and Standing Laterals.

On alternate days he works arms very hard. After this he does 
Bench Press:

He does the benches after the arm workout because he figures that a few presses after a hard arm workout builds that deep, sure strength. 

Ron also squats twice a week and deadlifts twice a week. 

He is sure that if it wasn't for all the lifting he had done over the years, he wouldn't have come out of the accident alive. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Massive Arms for You, Part Two - Joe Weider (1956)

John McWilliams

Barbell Exercises for the Triceps

1) Two Arm Press:
A beginner's triceps exercise.

Undoubtedly the first triceps exercise the beginner in bodybuilding will come in contact with will be some sort of standing pressing movement. In the early stages of training, the two hand press will supply the beginner with satisfactory stimulation. It does more than develop the triceps, for this exercise works the back and shoulders in conjunction with the triceps, and teaches muscle coordination, which all beginners need.

From the starting position with the bar at the shoulders, the weight is pressed to arms' length above the head and an effort is made to maintain a strict body posture at all times, without any bend of the lower back. The weight is lowered from arms' length only as low as the shoulders, the starting position, and it is pressed overhead again.

When the weight is held at the shoulders the palms of the hands are facing to the front, or away from the body. A normal hand spacing, one about shoulder width, should be used at first. However, this can be varied with a close grip and a wide one. A closer grip throws more strain on the triceps and a wider grip makes the shoulders work harder. All variations should be practiced.

Once the bodybuilder advances enough to go into cheating exercises, he starts the weight fast from the shoulders, bending his body a few inches to the front and then snapping it back again to get a drive into the press, and as he presses the weight up it is permissible to bend backward from the lower back. When the bodybuilder lowers the weight to the shoulders again after performing the first repetition, he lowers it rather quickly, and he bounces it slightly off the shoulders for the second repetition and all subsequent ones. If this method is used much heavier weights can be employed, which are needed in advanced training.

2) Press Behind Neck:
A slightly more advanced triceps exercise than the regular press.

This exercise is performed very much the same as the regular press, with the one major difference being that the starting position is from behind the head instead of from the front shoulders. From this starting position behind the head the weight is pressed directly upwards to arms' length above the head.

When the bar reaches a point an inch of so above the top of the head it is permissible to permit the bar to ride forward six inches or so, or until it is in front of the body, and to conclude the pressing movement from that position.

At first a strict body position should be maintained. The palms of the hands are, of course, facing to the front. A shoulder width grip of a wide one can be used. It is impossible to use a close grip.

To cheat in this exercise, you snap, of quickly shrug your shoulders up to give the weight a start. Then you press to above the head, and bend back slightly at the lower back to continue to press the weight to arms' length. Do not lower the weight too quickly for you do not have as much control of it behind the neck as in front of the body. You could cause damage if you lowered the weight so quickly that it hit with force against the rear of the neck or the rear shoulders.

3) Bench Press:
For triceps power.

While the bench press is admittedly one of the most valuable chest muscle developer that any bodybuilder can perform, it is also an exceptional frontal shoulder and triceps exercise. All outstanding bench pressers possess triceps of excellent shape, size and power. The arm enthusiast should therefore never neglect the bench press in his training.

The most common form of the bench press is the one in which the bodybuilder lies on his back on an exercise bench, and then a training partner lifts a barbell up to his upraised hands. The palms of the hands are facing to the front, and the grip is a wide one, right up to the barbell collars. From this starting position the bar is lowered until it touches the chest, and it is then pressed up again to the starting position.

At first, hold the back flat on the bench and make the arms, shoulders and chest do the work. However, as you advance in the exercise it is permissible to lower the weight rather quickly and to actually bounce it off the chest, and then to raise the body off the bench in an arch to permit the use of heavier weights.

The bench press can also be performed with a narrow and a shoulder width grip, and each of the three hand spacings influence the triceps in a slightly different manner. For triceps bulk and power the bench press is practically unbeatable.

There is still one version of the bench press that I should mention here, and I refer to it as the Brenner Bench Press, since Malcolm Brenner first drew it to my attention. It is performed identically to the regular bench press, except that the palms of the hands face the rear, or towards the bodybuilder's head, instead of away from it. Wide, normal and narrow hand spacings can all be used, and in advanced training a body arch and slight bounce from the chest can also be employed. Not as much weight can be used in this version as in the regular bench press.

4) Power Bench Press:
 - A short-action triceps movement which builds supporting and ligament power.

Just as there are short-action biceps developer, there are of course similar exercises for the triceps. The power bench press is one of these. To perform the exercise, you first raise the barbell onto two strong stands or boxes, which should stand about 14" off the floor.

 2 x 4's nailed together like this can support huge weights and bouncing off them is no problem.
Dirt cheap, too.

The body is positioned under the bar in your normal bench press positioning. The bar is then pressed out to arms' length. Only a pressout of several inches is needed for maximum benefit. Tremendous weights can be used in this movement, and the advanced bodybuilder can work up to 600 or more pounds.

The weight is lowered back to the boxes and then pressed up again, and a wide hand spacing, palms facing front, permits the utilization of the greatest weight. However, a shoulder width grip and a narrow one are also valuable varieties and should not be neglected. You can also perform the exercise with a reverse grip, with the palms facing the head.

While actual cheating is difficult in this exercise due to the tremendous poundage being used, you will be able to squeeze out more repetitions with a heavier weight if, after the first repetition, you lower the weight rather quickly and bounce it off rubber pads attached to the boxes. If you catch the rebound right, you will discover the second and third repetitions are actually easier than the first one was, and you will be able to squeeze out 6 to 8 repetitions with a weight you would have difficulty performing 2 with, if you came to a dead stop at the boxes.

5) Floor Press With Bridge:
 - A great power builder.

Before the bench press was popularized, bodybuilders performed all their lying presses on the floor. Today, due to the superiority of the bench press, the floor press has become practically obsolete (1956).

However, one style, the floor press with a bridge, remains to this day a valuable triceps builder. To perform this exercise, you lie on the floor, feet pulled back under the thighs. A barbell is held in the hands at the chest, and the elbows are resting on the ground.

Now, raise the body up so that it is supported by the feet and the upper back and shoulder, and while doing so press the barbell to arms' length above the chest. By raising the body high you can exert tremendous pressing force and can work up to very heavy weights. To lower the weight, first lower the body and then return your elbows to the floor.

The palms of the hands are facing the front, and since the object of the exercise is to raise as much weight as possible to arms' length, use whatever hand spacing feels most comfortable. For most bodybuilders a grip slightly wider than shoulder width will prove best.

Since this is already a form of a cheating exercise, to cheat further in it will require a slightly different approach. To do this, you start with feet placed under the thighs and the rest of the body is flat on the floor. The barbell is resting across the lower waist, or belly. You now toss the weight up by raising the belly high and using this momentum to help you, then permit the weight to ride back over the head, pressing it to arms' length while you do so. The common name of this exercise is the "belly toss" and it is self explanatory how the name was coined.

[Note: There's a lot of info on the use of the belly toss bench press by Joe DiMarco and given to Dave Yarnell to compile. DiMarco was on one of the original Culver City Westside Barbell lifters. See Dave's book, "Forgotten Secrets of the Culver City Westside Barbell Club" for more. 


6) Lying Triceps Curl:
 - A flushing exercise which increases triceps size quickly.

To make any muscle grow to a maximum size, the muscle area must be flushed up fully, literally stretched to maximum fullness. One of the great exercises for this purpose as far as the triceps is concerned is the lying triceps curl.

It is a simple exercise to perform. To start the exercise lie on a flat bench, the head about one foot below the edge. Hold a barbell in the hands, palms to the front, using a shoulder width spacing. The weight should be at arms' length above the head, similar to the start of the bench press. The weight is lowered behind the head, but the elbows are not permitted to drop back or to move off to the sides. They must be pointed up when the weight is behind the head. Then, still maintaining the elbows in their fixed position, the weight is raised again to the starting position.

It is impractical to use a wide hand spacing in this exercise. Some bodybuilders prefer a very close grip, others like one about 18 inches apart and still others use a shoulder width grip. Only experience will teach you which is best in your case, and one which permits you to use the heaviest weight is the one I recommend.

To cheat in this exercise place a rubber pad on the bench behind your head, and then lower the weight rather quickly and bounce it off the pad. If you use a hand spacing which clears the width of the bench you can bounce the bar with some force off the pad and work up to very heavy poundages. If you use a very close grip you will have to be careful not to bounce too hard, otherwise you may injure your hands.

This exercise can also be performed with the palms of the hands facing the rear, or toward the head, and both versions belong at various times in your workouts.

7) Standing Triceps Curl:
 - Another flushing exercise.

The standing triceps curl, or French Press as it is also called, is another triceps exercise which will flush up that muscle tremendously. Certain bodybuilders use tremendous weights. John McWilliams, the giant of power with arms that have measured as much as 21" in hard muscular condition, has used up to 300 pounds. You'll find that hard to believe, for 80 to 100 pounds may prove to be your present limit, even if you've had considerable experience. But -- you'll progress quickly, if you train properly.

To start the exercise clean a barbell to the shoulders and then press it to arms' length above the head, as in the regular press. When the weight is above the head the palms are facing the front. A shoulder width grip should be used.

Now, lower the weight behind the head, but when doing so make certain that the elbows are pointed up, just as in the lying triceps curl. Keeping the elbows pointed up, you raise the weight back to the starting position overhead.

It is impractical to use a wide grip in this exercise. Use a shoulder width grip, or else a narrow one. The exercise can also be performed with the palms of the hands facing the rear when the weight is at arms' length above the head, and from a developmental standpoint both styles are excellent.

To cheat in this exercise lower the weight rather quickly and get a little bounce when the elbows are fully bent. However, use caution if cheating while performing this exercise, the elbow tendons and ligaments can be easily damaged if you become too enthusiastic.

8) Bob Shealy Triceps Shoot-Back:
 - A severe triceps tightening exercise.

In assigning various names to exercises, such as the Zeller Curl, the Brenner Bench Press, and the Shealy Triceps Shoot-Back, the bodybuilders whose names are used make no claim of being the originators of the exercises. And neither do I. However, in each case the exercise so named was drawn to my attention first by the particular bodybuilder, and to give him the credit he deserves I named the exercise here after him. Actually, it is almost impossible to say just who originated any exercise. I felt that I have discovered many, and yet, when talking with oldtimers they often told me that some lifter of years ago was seen performing an identical movement. [Note: These last sentences lead me to believe this book was written by an author in the employ of Joe Weider at the time, with Mr. Weider's name being given claim to the work. As does the lack of the term "Weider Principles" tacked on to everything and anything within striking distance of a typewriter.]

The Bob Shealy Triceps Shoot-Back is a real tough exercise. It is strictly for advanced work and not intended for the beginner. It is started the same as the regular lying triceps curl, with a barbell held at arms' length above the face while the bodybuilder is lying on a flat exercise bench. The weight is lowered behind the head as in the regular triceps curl, and then is it shot back with some force to arms' length behind the head. The weight is then pulled back only as far as behind the head and once again is shot back to arms' length.

A shoulder width grip or a close one should be used, and the palms of the hands can be facing either up or down. You will have to work hard on your shoulder and upper back power before you will be able to handle limit weights in this, and it's the one exercise which you really won't be able to cheat in. There's only one style -- the one you can employ the heaviest poundage in, and that's the correct style; beyond that there is no cheating possible.

9) Standing Shoot-Back Triceps Exercise:
 - For explosive triceps power.

This exercise is similar to the above one insofar as a fast shoot-back of the weight is the main exercise action. To start the exercise, stand in front of a weight that is resting on the ground. Squat down and grasp the barbell behind the body, with the palms of the hands facing to the front. Use a comfortable, shoulder width grip. Now, stand erect, lifting the weight up with you, arms stiff, bar resting across the buttocks.

Raise the weight up and rest it across your lower back. From there, bend slightly forward, and shoot the weight directly back, straightening the elbows and tensing the triceps while doing so. Hold the weight in that position for a count of two and then return to the lower back position and repeat.

You can also use a narrow and a wide hand spacing, and you can vary the position of the palms, starting with them facing the rear, instead of front.

To cheat in this exercise you bend forward quite a bit, which makes it easier for you to handle heavier weights.

10) Stiff Arm Rear Raise:
 - For triceps definition.

This exercise is commenced exactly the same way as the last one. You squat down and grasp a barbell behind the body with a palms forward grip. Use a shoulder width grip. Stand erect and lift the barbell up with you, behind the body. Keep the elbows stiff. At no time during the exercise are you to bend the elbows.

Now, bend forward and while doing so raise the weight back and up. Lower the weight and at the same time straighten the body to the starting position and repeat.

Besides the shoulder width grip you can use a wide one and a narrow one. You can also have the palms facing to the rear instead of to the front.

The only way you can cheat in this exercise is to bend forward rather quickly and in this way give the weight a better start.

11) Two Arm Jerk:
 - For power and bulk of the triceps.

Competitive weightlifters, while not usually possessing triceps of the size and shape of bodybuilders, do generally own triceps of greater all around power. The clean and jerk lift helps them tremendously to reach that goal. The 'clean' part of the lift is of course not beneficial to the triceps, though as brought out previously in this book, it can be used as a great biceps strengthener. The 'jerk' portion of the lift, however, is a great triceps builder.

To perform the exercise, lift a weight to your shoulders in whatever style you can raise the most weight. Bodybuilders who are not too well acquainted with the technique of 'cleaning' will probably find that they will do best merely 'hauling' the weight up in a rather crude style, dipping slightly at the knees to get under the weight as it approaches shoulder height.

Once the weight is caught at the shoulders stand erect with knees stiff, still holding the weight at the shoulders. Now, bend the knees about three inches and then snap them straight again, and while doing so press upward with the arms with all the force at your command. This should raise the weight to well above head height. It will then be easier for you to press the weight the rest of the distance to arms' length above the head.

Hold the weight above the head for a moment or two, then lower to the shoulders, and repeat the jerk.

Of course, if you have practiced and competed in competitive weightlifting and know how to split or squat under the weight for the clean as well as for the jerk, do so, for this will certainly permit the use of heavier poundages. However, if you haven't had any competitive weightlifting experience, then rely on your basic power for both the clean and the jerk. Just as long as you raise more weight above your head in the jerk than you can press, you can be certain that your triceps will receive a tremendous amount of work.

You will only be able to use a grip of about shoulder width in this exercise, for too narrow or too wide a grip will make it impossible to use limit poundages.

In this exercise, the more you perfect your style, the more you will be able to lift. So in a sense, cheating in this lift actually means a better or more perfect style, instead of a lax one.

12) Power Press Out:
 - For thick, heavily built triceps.

This exercise starts exactly the same as the previous one. You merely bend forward and then clean a heavy weight to the shoulders. After the weight has been cleaned, you jerk it to arms' length above the head. But now, the similarity to the previous exercise ceases.

After you have jerked the weight to over head, assume your most comfortable and secure body position. Lower the weight a few inches only. Don't lower it more than two inches at first. Once the weight has been lowered two inches, press it back up to arms' length again. Now, lower the weight as before. Again press it out to arms' length. Continue practicing this lowering and the pressing back to arms' length, until you have lowered the weight about six inches. fi you can press it back again from that position, then the next workout use a weight 5 to 10 inches heavier.

To cheat in this exercise you have to rely on a back bend to give you a firmer pressing support.

You will find that a shoulder width hand spacing is best, for a really wide or a narrow one will limit your pressing power. You can practice different hand spacings, but bear in mind that the object of this exercise is to lift the heaviest weight possible so use the grip which permits this.

End of Part Two.
Next: Barbell Exercises for the Forearms.  



Abdominals With a French Touch - Leo Robert (1958)

Zabo Koszewski

Bert Goodrich on one leg holding Glen Sunby in a handstand.
Click Pics to ENLARGE

by Leo Robert (1958)

Ever since the days of early Sparta, beautiful, classically-carved abdominals have been the hallmark of the superbly developed athlete. Even today in some European countries - notably France - abdominal development is so highly prized it has reached the proportions of a cult.

Happily (and healthfully), as we here in the United States are forsaking the bulk-for-bulk's-sake fad, we are bringing into the fore  greater stress on midsection development. Today, every bodybuilder wants clean, clear, blade-sharp abdominals. Unfortunately, wanting them and getting them are two vastly different things.

The difference in the finished appearance of the French bodybuilder's abdominals and that of the American is startling. Here in the U.S., most of us feel that we have worked a major miracle if we can show even a fair definition of the usual four sets of abdominals. In France, even their abdominals have abdominals.     

Now, anatomically speaking, it is obvious that the French are no different than we. Nor do they have any "secret" exercises nor any bizarre training methods. How, then, do they develop their amazing abdominals -- muscles so numerous one thinks of measuring them with a Geiger counter rather than a tape -- muscles so clear and so dramatic that they actually become a showcase, theatrically displaying the rest of their superior muscular development?

The answer is one of scientific approach to the problem and the degree of exercise intensity -- plus their insistence on training the abdomen from angles rarely done in this country. The French bodybuilder without his angled abdominal board is a bodybuilder without good abdominals . . . and in France this is practically a cardinal sin!

First, let me tell you what they don't do before I tell you what they do

They don't do situps! Heresy? Not at all . . . at least they don't do them in our conventional way. Here, it is considered the normal thing to begin abdominal work with several sets of situps. The French would never do this because:

1) The full situp is the most tiring, boring, time-wasting and nonproductive of all abdominal exercises. For years we here at Weider have been calling the turn on this archaic exercise, explaining graphically how it works only a very small area of the abdominals when done this way.

2) The French bodybuilder, being very logical, realizes this. Consequently he performs only that part of the situp which actually activates the abdominals. This he does by beginning the situp, rising no more than 10 inches from the board, then lowering the back until it just barely grazes the board, before he immediately begins another partial situp. In other words, the entire movement is controlled -- there is no throwing the body upward, there is no tiresome "follow through" as we do it, which makes the exercise unnecessary and ineffective. There is constant tension on the abdominals from start to finish, which doesn't happen when situps are done American fashion.

The upper abdominal area is strikingly well developed in the French bodybuilder because he makes this simple exercise increasingly more and more difficult. How? First, by adjusting the angle of the inclined board so that ever-increasing tension is generated. Secondly, he does it with a barbell when even the most difficult angles of the abdominal board become easy to maneuver. Third, and of possibly greater importance, is his unique method of performing this movement in heavy and light fashion.

This means that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday he will do the partial situp with weight held either across the back (if he is merely using a barbell plate), or in the hands held upon the chest (if he is using a whole barbell). He generally schedules 5 sets of around 12 repetitions for this weighted variation, while on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday he performs the same movement without weight for 8 sets of 50 repetitions.

Now, if you think that 8 sets of 50 in the situp is difficult you should try it the famous French way and find out how much fun it is. For as I've said, the tiring part of the situp is the needless, nonproductive part . . . that which does absolutely nothing for the selected muscles but which puts an enormously tiring burden on the small of the back. Next time you do the situp American style, just for once note where the strain and fatigue begin. You'll find it not in the abdominals but in the back and the hip/upper thigh area.

This method of heavy and light training for the abdominals is the backbone of the French method. It is specifically well adapted for the abdominals because this is the only muscle group in the body that you are not attempting to enlarge. No bodybuilder wants a large waist -- muscular or otherwise. If this method were used on any other muscles the effect would be devastating rather than developmental, for what you would build up in muscular density in one day you would tear down in the next.

In the larger muscle groups you work for maximum size, while in abdominal development you work for maximum definition. You stress muscular solidity, contour and muscle firmness of texture in abdominal work, you do not work to the ultimate in muscular density.

The principle of the French method is that enough weight should be used to develop exceptional muscle firmness, yet enough high set, high rep, weightless movements should be done to insure that every milligram of intra-muscular fat or bulky tissue is destroyed.

The American bodybuilder, as a rule, utilizes only one of these phases of abdominal training in his workouts. Either he performs too many weightless movements which leaves the muscles relatively undeveloped, or he uses weights so heavy that he builds thick abdominal muscles which have no attendant muscular definition, or he performs his exercises on either just a flat bench or on one which is inclined in only one stationary position. In this way only two areas of the abdominal muscles feel any great tension and consequently there is only a partial development of the muscles.

In using all three phases at different times the muscles have a chance to grow to an impressive size and shape, yet remain so highly refined and highlighted that they are breathtaking in their chiseled beauty.

The French method works like magic on the man who thinks he has "too thick" a skin for the abdominals to show; on the man who has considerable fat around his midsection; as well as on the advanced bodybuilder who just can't understand why his abdominals are not as perfectly developed as his other muscles.

One of our great American champions and trainers, Vince Gironda, made a spectacular test with the French method. Though Vince is well into his forties he has the same daring and liking for challenges he had in his youth. A year or more ago, Vince permitted his magnificent body to actually grow fat. Not a vestige of his once great muscularity appeared. Yet by training his midsection with weights on three days and with high set, high rep weightless movements on alternate days, he achieved a sharpness of muscular outline and a richness of muscular texture such as no other present day champion possesses. One of the exercises which Vince claims did the most for him was this same partial situp that I have described here.

The principle used in the partial situp is used in every other abdominal exercise the French bodybuilder performs. The exercises he uses are few in number, but they are done in such a variety of angled positions and they are alternated from day to day with and without weight that they reach every muscle fiber in, around and under the abdominals.

If you will observe the photograph of Jean-Louis Jean of Paris as well as that of our own Vince Gironda you will note how effectively this method brings out even the attachments of the abdominal muscles near the latissimus. How many bodybuilders do you know who can boast such far-reaching abdominal separation? In examining the photograph of Jean-Louis Jean it actually seems as if the abdominals are a continuing part of the lats themselves! 

     Jean-Louis Jean, both photos.

 There is a one exercise which has long been a favorite of the French and Belgian bodybuilders and which has been described in these magazines several times. It is the inverted situp and for this you need either pulleys or a cable set.

To perform it, grasp the handle or handles, then walk forward until there is tension from the cable felt. Now turn around with the back to the pulley. Hold the handles at the back of the head, then bend forward until the head goes down between the knees. Resist firmly on returning to the starting position as the cable resisted you on the way down.

 One Variation of the Inverted Situp

When you do leg raises, don't do them at one stationary angle. Use an adjustable slant board so that you can continuously enlarge the angle. Then with the head at the higher end of the board and with knees locked, pull the legs up only until tension ceases. Lower them until they just barely touch the board, then up again. The idea here is to keep tension on the abdominals continuously, throughout the entire set. 

In the situp as in the leg raise, go no higher than necessary. Raise the body to the exact point where gravity takes over. Once this point is reached the exercise has only one value if continued onward . . . a nuisance value of fatigue which makes the rest of your abdominal harder, more disagreeable and more tiring than it needs to be.

Do as the thrifty French do . . . practice economy of motion in all abdominal exercise, doing the effective part and stopping right there. In this way you can do 10 times the number of exercises, sets and reps you've ever done before and you'll feel every one of them right where they should be felt. 

I will outline a French abdominal routine which you can easily adjust into your regular workout schedule. Just make sure that the abdominal weight exercises are not done on your heavy weight training days. Make it easy on yourself and you'll get double the results and pleasure from it. 

Abdominal Weight Days


1) Leg Raise Hanging From Bar:
Use iron boots if you can, otherwise tie small plates to the feet. Do 5 sets of 8 reps, working up to 12 reps before adding more weight.

2) Dumbbell Pullup From the Floor:
Lie on a flat bench with dumbbells on the floor within your grasp, The bells should be about midway between the shoulders and abdomen. With a hands-over grip, reach down and simply pull the dumbbells upward as high as you possibly can. Lower slowly to starting position, feeling the tension all the way down. In this exercise, which will bring out that terrific tie-in of abdominals and lats, you must THINK THE TENSION INTO THE ABDOMINALS. Don't make an arm, shoulder or chest exercise out of it. The arms are just hooks and the abdominals must do the work. Do 5 sets of 12 reps, adding weight when you can.

3) Barbell Side-to-Side Bend:
Everyone knows this exercise done with a barbell across the shoulders, the body bending to the right and to the left. NEVER USE A HEAVY WEIGHT. This works on the obliques so effectively that use of a heavy weight will build them too much and increase the size and appearance of size of the waist. A lighter weight will give them the stretch they need without building bulk, which they don't need. 5 sets of 15 reps to each side. 

4) Partial Weighted Situp:

This has been described earlier. It only remains to indicate that you should do 5 sets of 12 reps with all the weight you can handle.

20 sets of terrific abdominal work and you'll say it's all a pleasure. I guarantee that, using this French method, you won't be overly fatigued.

Abdominal Weightless Days


1) Leg Raise Hanging From a Bar:
No weight, but do 8 sets of 15 reps in this.

2) Leg Raise on Adjustable Incline Abdominal Board:
Make the angle steep, place the head at the higher position and try another 8 sets of 15 reps.

3) Body Lever:

Lie on a flat bench, hands grasping the supports. Lock knees, and raise the entire body up to position shown but NO FURTHER. Lower slowly, not letting the body quite touch the board before you begin another rep. Do 5 sets of 15 in this.

4) Partial Situp Without Weight:

Clasp hands behind head and raise trunk to a partial sitting position as earlier described. You should try for 8 sets of 50 reps and even then you'll not be overly tired when using this partial motion.

This program can followed by anyone from Paris, France to Paris, Kentucky. You need no large commercial gym and no classy assortment of gadgets. Indeed, the isolation of home training makes possible the utmost concentration which is a basic factor in the French abdominal training method. 

With this economy of equipment, using the economy of motion which is so typically French, plus the intense concentration which you can generate for yourself in the quietude of your own home, you can build a set of abdominal muscles that will make you proud. 

Try this method for just a few days, sandwiching it in your regular workouts. You'll see it's the smoothest, the easiest and the most pleasant and productive way of getting real championship abdominals.


Monday, May 16, 2016

"Random" Off-Season Deadlift Routine - Greg Reshel (1995)

This routine is the ultimate in variety. You will get the opportunity to push the envelope each week with new or at least different exercises for your deadlift each and every week. The off-season is the time for variety and overall strength and conditioning. Adventurous athletes will love this routine because it offers a smorgasbord of hard work. NO BOREDOM. If you welcome a challenge, the random deadlift routine will give you the opportunity to go for a personal best each week with slim chance of overtraining. The primary claim to fame of the "Random" Deadlift Routine is that it has no pattern. Lacking a definite observable pattern, this routine hits muscles from different directions and combinations each week. Overtraining is unlikely, strength increases are definite.  

A normal off-season routine involves a sequence of increasingly difficult weekly routines. A pattern of exercises, primary and accessory are chosen, and the athlete must try to increase the weight in key exercises over the course of the routine. A good routine usually results in a personal best set of 10, 8, 5, 3, 1 or all of the above. In this way, the athlete will see a logical pattern of increasing strength though successful weekly increases in the amount of weight lifted. The "Random" routine takes a variety of accessory exercises to form a series of challenging routines. There are two rules for this routine: 

1) Increase the weight lifted in each successive set so that the final set of each exercise is as heavy as you can lift. 


You will perform the routine once per week for 10 successive weeks. You must provide your best effort in each of the exercises listed for the routine of the week. You must be very aggressive in the final set of each exercise to provide a Personal Best or to challenge an existing personal record. Your strength will increase profoundly over the course of the routine. You will be able to see the strength increase in the routine that you follow immediately after completing the Random routine. One more thing. You will probably be sore each and every week of this routine because you will never be able to adapt to the work. Remember, you must increase weight with each set and never miss a rep. Start light and finish all out! 

Week 1

Stiff Leg Deadlift, 5 sets of 8 reps
Wide Grip Pulldown Behind Neck, 5 x 10 reps
Behind the Back Shrug, 6 x 12 reps
Wide Grip Upright Row, 5 x 10
One Arm Dumbbell Row, 4x 12.

Week 2

Rack Deadlift From Below the Kneecap, 6 x 9 reps
Shoulder Width Grip Pullup, 5 x 7
Underhand Grip Barbell Row, 5 x 10
Cheat Barbell Curl, 4 x 9
Hyperextension, 4 x 7.

Week 3

Good Morning, 4 x 7
Overhead Barbell Press, 5 x 11
45-Degree Leg Press, 6 x 14
Bench Dip, 5 x 8
Curl Grip Shrug, 4 x 10.

Week 4: 
T-Bar Row, 5 x 9
Dumbbell Pullover, 5 x 8
Seated Bentover Laterals, 5 x 12
Front Plate Raise, 4 x 7
Reverse Hyper, 5 x 10

Week 5

High Pull, 5 x 6
Forward Incline 2-DB Row, 4 x 10
Bent Arm Barbell Pullover, 5 x 8
Chest Supported Row, 4 x 9
Weighted Decline Situp, 4 x 6.

Week  6

Cambered "MacDonald Bar" Deadlift, 5 x 8
Close Grip Pullup, 5 x 6
Barbell Front Raise, 4 x 5-7
Head Supported 2-DB Row, 5 x 8
Hack Squat, 4 x 10.

Week 7

Rack Deadlift From Above the Knee, 6 x 6
Wide Grip Pulldown to Chin, 5 x 7
Double Dumbbell Curl, 5 x 8
Shrug, 4 x 9
Weighted Situp with Feet Held on Top of Bench, 5 x 10.

Week 8
Behind the Back Deadlift, 5 x 8
Reverse Grip Overhead Press, 5 x 7
V-Grip Seated Low Cable Row, 5 x 11
Half Squat Good Morning 4 x 7
Seated Bent Knee Leg Raise, 3 x 15.  

Week 9

Bentover Row, 4 x 8
Standing Lateral Raise, 4 x 10
Underhand Grip Pulldown to Chest, 4 x 9
Dumbbell Deadlift, 4 x 9
Stiff Arm Barbell Pullover, 4 x 7.

Week 10

Deadlift with Bar on 100-lb. Plates, 5 x 7
Decline Bent Arm Pullover, 5 x 8
Forward Incline Dumbbell Upright Row, 5 x 7
Seated Parallel Grip High Pulley Row to Chest, 4 x 9
Seated Press Behind Neck, 5 x 7.

Remember, start each exercise LIGHT and finish it ALL OUT. 

Always use strict form for your own safety. Some of these exercises might look like they belong in a bench press routine, but the shoulder presses and lateral raises all challenge upper back and mid-back stabilization, as well as abdominal oblique stabilization. The biceps curls also challenge back and abdominal stabilization. 

Try not to arch your back to cheat the lifts as this will lead to destructive back pain rather than positive muscle soreness from fatigue and exertion. 

I realize this is an lengthy list of accessory exercises and you man not know all of them. This routine is also a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with any of these accessory exercises that are new to you. 

Good luck and Good Training!   

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Will to Win by Doug Hepburn (1964)

Doug Hepburn
Ray Beck photo, courtesy of Jan Dellinger

by Doug Hepburn (1964)

[Note: This article is, in my opinion, one of Doug Hepburn's most mature and literate. It was written when he was 38 years of age; 11 years had passed since his gold medal win at the World Weightlifting Championships in Stockholm with a 1030 (3 lift) total. Great changes on many levels had taken place in Doug's life in that time, and certain sections of this article do much to explain what many fail to understand when reading popular bios of his life, a life that was fully lived, explored and enjoyed to the utmost. May he be remembered well and long.]

This may sound strange to the reader but in fact many weightlifters, who outwardly give the impression of a sincere desire to succeed, are in truth (though they are not conscious of it) conditioning themselves for failure. 

In numerous cases one could regard the showy, sometimes lengthy ritual of manufacturing the stimulation necessary to elevate a personal limit poundage as merely a facade to disguise the feeling of non-confidence, and the offshoot of this fear, fear of failure -- failure not in regard to self, but in the eyes of others.

Here then is a second truth (if one can accept it) -- that the fear of failure is born of infidelity to self, conceived through the unconscious realization that Self is, in fact, motivated by the ego of others.

The above fact constitutes the essence of an inner conflict, the result of which stifles the Will to Will and the vital driving force which is so essential to the champion athlete.

Any successful artist knows, be it painting, music, poetry, and the rest, that the striving for true self expression can be attained only through the medium of Self, divorced from the motivation of creating to please others. If others are to find pleasure in one's creative efforts, they will do so in the same manner as the person who provided the creation. In this way both the artist and those who appreciate his efforts achieve a greater satisfaction, and what may be more important, a greater mutual level of accomplishment. 

Each dedicated athlete is an artist in his own right. He creates not with pen and paper, brush and palette, but with body and mind. His level of accomplishment is just as great as that in other fields of expression. To regard himself as less is to put himself below his fellow man. With such an attitude one could readily consider himself inferior -- inferior to what? Again we return to the conflict created by the motivating of endeavors to self expression judged by the yardstick of others. For if the feeling in inferiority exists, then must not one strive to appease self-appointed superiors? 

The disillusioned athlete is forced to bear the unhappiness and frustration of the world. He becomes the "Kick Me" of the Al Capp comic strip except in this case it is pathetic. Because of an unguarded dedication he has become the prey of others, disillusioned and in conflict like himself. Others who possess not one iota of comprehension as to the inspiration and splendid ideals he is struggling to uphold.

Unwittingly, regardless of an inner sincerity, because of a loss of faith in Self, a dislike, even hatred for Self begins to take hold within him. Again, unconsciously, this athlete may well seek an avenue of self punishment. What better way to punish himself than to lose or destroy the Will to Win in the sport of his choice? 

Many athletes, prior to and during competition, experience an adverse excitation other than the normal psychological stimulation created by the athlete so that he may realize a maximum physical efficiency in the athletic endeavor. This undesirable and negative excitation detracts proportionately from the normal and desirable pre-competitive and competitive preparation of the body for the "all out" or maximum effort expenditure.

A negative excitation, such as the above described, is derived primarily from the feeling of inadequacy, or in simpler terminology, fear of failure. 

It would be wonderful if each and every budding champion could enter competition absolutely certain of winning. Such a condition could not possibly exist except perhaps in the mind of a "Day Dreamer." In this, then, each athlete must accept the possibility of failure, and in this submission, if it is a sincere submission, if only to Self, the fear of failure in the eyes of others has been surmounted. In other words, in order that one may remove a fear, one is obliged to give in to that particular fear.

The normal reaction of the ego of "self" to such a submission is one of rebellion and it is here where the insidiousness of the ego may bar acceptance with the resultant "freeing" of  a deeper and far more powerful motivating drive of "Self." It is here where the acceptance of real truth is contrived and not through the intellect via "rationalization" but through the capacity to "feel" much in the manner in which we "feel" Love and Hate. The wisest man in the world knows that when one strives to explain the above two feelings that all the knowledge thus acquired by mankind is inadequate. 

Self confidence, or faith in the ability of self, can to a limited extent be accentuated though the influence of qualified individuals who are cognizant of the athlete's temperament and the intricacies of the athletic endeavor, especially those individuals whom the athlete responds and understands.

In the final analysis however, during the pressure of actual competition, the athlete must stand alone, especially so as a weightlifter. There can be no conflict within Self when the "Moment of Truth" arrives. That moment when all weightlifters invariably experience the realization that the goal aspired to is dependent upon the successful completion of one lift. In that moment Self may very well control the all important balance between success or failure. One could say that Self, during this brief span of time, is in command of destiny and perhaps is capable of deciding the outcome of the athlete's endeavor that will occur a few seconds in the future and that the Will to Win constitutes the deciding factor. The Will to Win, that intangible something born of a perfectness of harmony between Mind and Body. 


Monday, May 9, 2016

Choosing a Training Philosophy - Ken Leistner (1997)

Bill "Peanuts" West Heading Under

Eric Maroscher 

Unknown Guy Loving the Living Shit Out of a Squat
Way Back When 

One of the problems that many PL USA readers have is the tendency to latch on to a training philosophy that they really aren't committed to. This is easier to do than one might first believe, even for experienced trainees. If one's training is not going well, or as well as anticipated when beginning a new program, it is easy to look at a new layout, transpose oneself into the training environment of the author of what appears to be a well written schedule, and then assume that the training program will work just as well as it has for a champion or up and coming lifter. 

The lifting world is full of good information. The trick is to understand that while much of it is beneficial, it might not be beneficial for you in particular, or you at this particular time. This includes, of course, any information that my own columns might hold. 

Louie Simmons, Doug Daniels, and I, as obvious examples, have had many, many articles in PL USA. As a long time friend of Mike Lambert, I have had the longest standing column in the magazine. When you read Louie, Doug, and me every month, it's easy to think that we know what we're talking about, even when the three of us have diverging viewpoints and philosophies. It is my opinion that Doug offers very solid, useful, beneficial information monthly and not just for beginning or lower level lifters. His stuff is generally very good and very applicable for any lifter. Louie, of course, is a genius. While I don't agree with all, or at times, many of his ideas, he is the sport's "tinkerer," it's innovator, it's shining light in terms of pushing the envelope on varied training ideas and obviously, looking at the results he gets, he has the horses to prove his theories. I'm a traditional guy who pushes the basics and lots of grit and determination. From the three of us, as well as the monthly contributions of the various lifters in the program of the month and via the interviews, there's a lot of training information that one can choose from.     

Many lifters change their program and worse, their entire philosophy, month to month, depending upon what they read in the magazine. Common sense would dictate that this just isn't going to work and yield optimal results. First, look at the situation realistically. Yes, strive to be a world champion, but if it just isn't there, aim to be the best you can be -- which is the ultimate goal anyway. 

How many days training per week is realistic? Think about work hours and responsibilities, school, what it takes in time and energy to fulfill family responsibilities. Right off the bat, if you're working a nine-to-five, five or six days a week, forget training five days per week. Realistically, it's not going to happen, not productively. If you're married, and especially with children, time with the family comes first, or at least it should. I'm sure the divorce rate is higher among lifters than the national average, unfortunately. 

If the job requires a great deal of travel time and it is impossible to set up a home gym, training may be sporadic and a program to be done "exactly as written" will not work, not if you're in a different city each week, or more than once per week with varying hours. 

If you don't have the patience to do a program that calls for a lot of calculation, such as a percentage based routine, then don't make yourself uncomfortable mentally and attempt it. 

If you know yourself, and understand that doing the squat once per week and deadlift once per week "just isn't you," that you want and need more time in the gym for whatever reason, don't attempt a "simple, Leistner type" program.

If you don't enjoy, or previous injuries won't allow a lot of dumbbell or other work, don't choose a training philosophy that requires a great deal of assistance work.

If you're sold that power rack work is the way to go, either as the primary part or an off season program or as an adjunct to what you now do, make sure you have regular access to a rack! 

Let's face it, all of my above statements are self evident, but I am never, ever shocked at anything I hear or the mail I receive. The following is more typical than not (believe it or not): 

Lifter: I really think I would get stronger doing partials in a rack, but I don't have a home gym and the gyms near me don't have a power rack.

Doc Leistner: Is there any way you can build or otherwise get access to a rack?

Lifter: No way.

Doc: Okay then, do the best you can do using heavy boxes or crates for partial pulls or deadlifts and maybe some chains hanging from the rafters to do partial presses, benches, and squats.

Lifter: No, you don't understand. I can't have any weights where I live, there's just no way it can be done, and the gym would never allow the chains hung from their ceiling.

Doc: Okay, then do the partial deadlifts as you can and do other things using reliable spotters for any other limited range work. 

Lifter: With my work shifts I can't keep training partners.

Doc: You don't and can't have a rack, don't have training partners, and otherwise can't do the stuff you would do in a rack, right?

Lifter: Right.

Doc: Fine, then you'll have to do other exercises. 

Lifter: Yeah, but I want to build my program around rack work.

This is a normal conversation? Use your common sense. Do the things you know have been successful in the past, that are comfortable and safe to work hard on for you, and that can be done on the equipment that is available to you. Train in accordance with your responsibilities and energy levels, the time you have, and then do so as intensely as possible. 

Don't be a fool and drive yourself nuts!  

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Massive Arms For You, Part One - Joe Weider (1956)

Note: This is a bigger than usual booklet at 82 pages, so I'll be editing out some of the unnecessary parts, as well as adding to this post gradually over time. But the good bits won't be omitted. this was the first non-muscle magazine lifting book I purchased as a kid, other than that Weider System that came with the plastic weights. Arms specialization at 160 pounds, eh? Par for the course, right. Enjoy!

Massive Arms For You
by Joe Weider (1956)

The tools you use to mold massive arms are few, indeed. You need a pair of adjustable dumbbells, a plate loading barbell, a flat exercise bench and an incline bench. If you are really short of cash, but handy with tools, you can certainly make your own bench or benches.

In setting down these simple arm training requirements, I am not overlooking cables and other pieces of accessory equipment in training. These pieces of equipment all have a place in the bodybuilder's program. 

In a subsequent chapter I will discuss the use of these and tell you how you can add accessory equipment to your routines. But right now, I intend to restrict myself to an explanation of how you are to use the basic equipment mentioned effectively.

To do this best, and to avoid confusion, duplication of photographs and instructional text, I am now going to list all the arm exercises you will come in contact with in this work. I am also going to show you photographs of them all, explain how each is to be done and the purpose of the exercise here. 

Then, when I later on refer to the various exercises and give you different types of routines for specific goals, you need merely refer back to this chapter for the photograph and the exercise description. Then, you should experience no difficulty in understanding the exercise performance and in doing the exercise appropriately. 

And now, here are the different exercises which all have a place in this arm course.

Barbell Exercises for the Biceps

Illustrations 1, 4, and 7
Click Pics to ENLARGE

Barbell Curl (Illustration No. 1) - 
For a full, large biceps.

There are a number of distinct variations of this exercise and all of them contribute to the development of better biceps. The most common version, called the 'regular' barbell curl, is performed as follows. The bodybuilder stands erect, holding a barbell in his hands with the elbows stiff, the bar resting across the front of his thighs. The palms of the hands are facing to the front, or away from the body. The hand spacing is about shoulder width. 

Then, without any jerk, heave or extra motion from the body, the bodybuilder bends his arms at the elbows, holds his upper arms close against the sides of the upper body, and in a circular motion curls the weight to the shoulders. He then lowers the weight, keeping it under control on the way down, not permitting it to lower too quickly, until the bar rest across his thighs again. He then repeat the exercise. This strict exercise style is best for beginners and it is the form you should follow at first, if you do not have much training experience.

However, after several months of bodybuilding experience, the bodybuilder should relax his strict exercise performance style and 'cheat' a bit in the movement. To do this, he uses a slight swing from the body to permit the use of heavier weights than could be employed in the strict style. A cheating method of training can bulk up and strengthen the biceps much more than a strict style.

In the majority of bodybuilding exercises, whether for the arms or any other part, an exercise can be done in both a strict style and a cheat style. It is suggested that you practice the strict style first, for several weeks, anyway, even if you have had previous experience, and then, as you advance in your training relax your style and cheat a bit to force greater muscular growth. 

However, in certain instances, it is worthwhile to go back to a strict exercise style for a period of time after having built up some size in the muscles. If the muscles are large, but lacking in hard muscularity, strict, concentration exercises are often the solution.

All this will be more fully explained to you later on in this course, but right now I want you to appreciate the fact that most exercises can be done in a strict style and in a cheating style; with the strict style being an essentially elementary procedure and the cheat method a more advanced one.

Besides the regular barbell curl, there is also a wide grip curl. To do this, instead of holding your hands on the bar about shoulder width apart, you move them out towards the collars of the bar, spreading them 3.5 to 4 feet apart. This brings about a muscular action quite different from the regular barbell curl and if practiced occasionally will help to eliminate any weak links.

A third variation is holding the hands very close together, practically touching in the center of the bar. This is called the 'close grip' curl, and once again its action is different from either the regular grip or wide grip curl, with occasional use being recommended.

In all the above types of curls, the emphasis is placed on the curling, or raising or the weight to the shoulders. In other words, you expend the most energy in lifting the weight from the thighs to the shoulders and then, once it has arrived there, you lower the weight to the starting position with less concentration. You merely control the weight as it goes down so that it doesn't merely plop down to the starting position, but you don't concentrate much on the return trip.

However, there is one variation of the curl in which lowering the weight is more important than raising it. Artie Zeller, the well known New York City physique star was one of the first to popularize such a movement, though he did it with dumbbells. It is beneficial with a barbell as well, and to give credit where credit is due, I will call this movement the Zeller Barbell Curl.

To perform it, you raise a heavy barbell to the shoulders, using the normal curl grip, one about shoulder width apart. At the start of the movement, the barbell is resting across the front of the thighs, the palms facing to the front. Now, heave and cheat all you need to bring the barbell up to the shoulders. Don't worry how you get it up there, for this is relatively unimportant. Once the barbell is at the shoulders you are to lower it very slowly, fighting it every inch of the way, all the way down. You are permitted to bend back and to brace yourself in any manner, just as long as you lower the weight slowly. Then, when the barbell comes to rest at the thighs again, you heave it back up to the shoulders and lower it slowly once again. This method of curling helps to give you a long biceps, and also strengthens the ligaments at the elbow joint. It is a valuable curling variation.

There is one final remark which should be made about curling types of biceps exercises here. The biceps muscle can be contracted to a maximum, if, after a barbell or dumbbell is curled to the shoulder, the elbow is raised up. Make the test yourself. Without holding any weight in your hand, curl your hand to your shoulder, keeping the elbow pointed down. Place your free hand on the upper section of the biceps, close to the shoulder. Now, raise the elbow up and you will feel a definite contraction. While this extra contraction does not particularly contribute to the formation of a larger biceps, it does assist in giving it extra height and impressiveness. Therefore, every once in a while, during a curling workout, perform a few sets in which the elbows are raised up after the weight has reached the shoulders. You don't have to practice this every exercise session . . . a few times a month is enough, and this will add to your biceps development.

Seated Barbell Curl (Illustration No. 2) - 
A short-action movement to give power and size to the belly of the biceps. 

In bodybuilding there are two types of movements. One is termed a full-action movement, in which a muscle or group of muscles is worked over its complete range, and the other is a short-action movement, in which a muscle is worked only over a part of its complete range.

Both types of exercises have their values and both should be included in a barbell routine. A short range movement generally flushes up the meaty, or the belly portion of a muscle, giving that section unusual roundness and a type of isolated power that full range movements do not always build. As the term implies, a short-action exercise tends to shorten the length of a muscle. As far as the biceps is concerned, this would mean that a short-action exercise would help you to be able to show a little space between the curve of the biceps and the forearm, when the arm is tensed at the usual shoulder level biceps pose. If not carried to extreme, such muscle shortness is desirable. It adds impressiveness to the biceps and and eliminates that bulky, beefy look, regardless how large your arms may become. The 19-inch upper arms of Leroy Colbert, Bob Shealy and Bud Counts all possess this feature, as do he equally large arms of Alex Aronis. If they did not feature this condition of muscle shortness, their arms would look more like Doug Hepburn's, which are admittedly huge and very powerful, but beefy, not as muscularly impressive as ones slightly smaller, and with greater modelling.

Short-action exercises should not be overemphasized in the arm training routine. They should be included from time to time for training variety and to keep your biceps from becoming too full over too long a length which would destroy some impressiveness.

The seated barbell curl, as shown in Illustration No. 2, is such an exercise. It is performed as follows: the bodybuilder sits on a flat exercise bench with a barbell resting across his thighs. He grasps the barbell with a shoulder width grip. The palms are facing the front and the elbows are of course slightly bent. The barbell should rest close to the body and not out toward the knees. The bodybuilder then keeps his upper arms close to his sides and he curls the barbell the short distance to the shoulders. It is important that all bodybuilders, beginners as well as advanced men, concentrate strongly in this exercise and try to isolate the action of the belly of the biceps as much as possible. A certain amount of cheating is possible if the upper body is pulled backward at the start of the movement and a heavier weight can be employed when this is done. However, even in the cases of advanced bodybuilders, it is not desirable nor necessary to cheat much for maximum benefit.

Once the weight is curled to the shoulders, it is lowered again to the thighs and the exercise is repeated. The movement can be performed with a wide hand spacing, a close grip, and of course the regular shoulder width hand spacing. It should also be done with elbows raised after the weight has been curled from time to time to assure maximum benefit and an all around development.

Incline Bench Barbell Curl (Illustration No. 3) -
A full range movement that imparts a full sweep to the biceps.

Unlike the seated barbell curl which was explained prior to this one, the incline bench barbell curl is a long range exercise and its great virtue is in the manner in which it builds a long sweep to the biceps. It is also an important exercise for building elbow ligament power.

The incline bench curl possesses one added feature. It is a correctional exercise as well as being a muscle builder. Laborers, or certain athletes, who either due to their work of else in specializing in some sport that does not permit full biceps action, frequently build an extremely short biceps, one that is knotty and bunched up. A little practice of this movement will quickly correct that condition.

The bodybuilder, who naturally will not be suffering from any such muscle abnormality, will still benefit from the practice of this movement for the overall biceps stimulation it promotes and for its exceptional ligament strengthening features.

To practice this exercise, merely lie back on a (full size standing) incline bench, holding a barbell at arms stretch, bar resting across the thighs as shown in Illustration No. 3. The grip should be shoulder width and the palms facing the front. Now, curl the barbell up to the shoulders. Lower to the starting position and repeat.

You should also practice this movement with a wide grip and a narrow one. Every once in a while perform it with elbows raised after the barbell has been curled to the shoulders. In advanced training it is practical to cheat quite a bit by bouncing the bar off the thighs to give it a fast start and in this way permit the handling of heavier poundages. All styles should be practiced by the arm enthusiast.

Incline Bench Curl While Standing (Illustration No. 4) -
An isolation type exercise for direct biceps development.   

In all the variations of the curl that I have explained so far, it is possible for the bodybuilder to move his upper arms and elbows away from a fixed position at the sides and in this way reduce the amount of work the biceps is called upon to perform. By altering the position of the upper arms and elbows, the arms can be adjusted into a more favorable leverage position and associated muscles such as the shoulders can be called on for strength assistance.

Generally speaking, cheating and reducing the biceps load in this manner is beneficial for the advanced bodybuilder, for the extra weight he can handle more than compensates for the reduction in direct biceps action. The biceps is still forced to work at peak power because of this heavier weight.

However, it is also desirable to educate the biceps to work quite independently if it is to attain a maximum degree of development and muscular proficiency. The incline bench curl while standing trains the biceps towards this end.

To perform it, the bodybuilder stands behind an incline bench and rests his upper arms and elbows on the bench as shown in Illustration No. 4. A barbell is held in the hands, palms facing up, and a narrow grip is used. The exercise is started with the arms at full stretch and then the weight is curled up to the shoulders. The elbows and upper arms ARE NOT to be moved from the incline bench. All the action takes place at the elbow joint and in the forearm and wrist.

The biceps must carry the full load of the exercise and are of course taught how to work in an isolated manner in this exercise. It is not possible to use anything but a close grip in this exercise and still keep the upper arms on the bench. In advanced training, a rubber pad can be placed on the incline bench at the point where the backs of the hands come in contact with it, and the bar can be bounced, or rebounded off the pad, permitting the use of a heavier weight. But in strict style or in cheating form, the upper arms a elbows must never be permitted to rise off the incline bench.

Flat Bench Curl (Illustration No. 5) -
Another isolation type biceps exercise.

This exercise is similar to the Incline Bench Curl While Standing, since it also helps to teach the biceps to work independently. However, it does develop the biceps from a slightly different angle and because of this it should not be overlooked.

To perform this exercise, kneel behind one end of a flat exercise bench. Bend your body forward so that the upper arms and elbows, as well as the hands, wrists and forearms can rest on the bench. If the bench is a wide one, a shoulder width hand grip can be used, If it is narrow, a close grip will have to be used. In either case, the bar is gripped with the palms facing up.

From this point on, proceed as in the previous exercise, curling the weight to the shoulders and not raising either the elbows or the upper arms off the bench. You can also cheat in this exercise by placing a pad at the point of contact, as in the Incline Bench Curl While Standing, and give a bounce or a rebound which will permit the use of heavier weight.

Lying End of Bench Curl (Illustration No. 6) -
A third and final isolation type biceps exercise.

To perform this exercise, lie face down on a long, flat exercise bench with the upper arms extended over the edge of the bench all the way to the armpits. The bench must stand high enough off the ground that when the arms are outstretched toward the ground and a barbell grasped in them the weight clears the ground. You may have to raise the bench by placing it on two boxes, but it is important that you have this exercise clearance.

From the starting position with arms extended toward the ground as shown in Illustration No. 6, strive to keep your upper arms in a fixed position with elbows pointed down and curl the barbell to the shoulders. You can use a regular shoulder width grip, a wide one, or a narrow grip in this exercise and all three versions should be practiced.

When you advance in this movement and want to cheat, swing the weight slightly at the starting position and this will permit the use of a heavier weight. However, in this exercise and in all isolation principle exercises, cheating should be held to a minimum for maximum benefit.

Leaning Forward Concentration Curl (Illustration No. 7) -
For high biceps and muscular definition.

This exercise and similar type ones which re performed with dumbbells (and will be explained subsequently), are particularly devised to mold a high biceps peak. For a really impressive biceps, and for one which registers a large muscle size when tensed, your biceps must rise to a high crest when flexed. And, concentration curls bring about this condition fast.

The barbell concentration curl is performed as follows. You bend forward from the hips and grasp a barbell in the hands. Straighten up the body enough to permit the barbell to clear the ground, Then, curl the weight to the shoulders, raising the elbows as shown in Illustration No. 7. You are to mentally concentrate on biceps action when performing this exercise and if you concentrate strongly enough, after 4 or 5 repetitions you will actually feel an ache in the biceps muscle.

After the barbell has been curled to the shoulders it is lowered to the starting position and the exercise is repeated. You can use a regular shoulder width grip, a wide one, or a narrow one in this exercise. The narrow grip seems to be preferred by more bodybuilders, but each of these three variations have a place in your workouts.

To cheat in this exercise you use a little swing and a little body motion TO START THE WEIGHT ONLY, but once it commences on its upward journey, the biceps are to do all the work.

Floyd Page Barbell Curl (No Illustration Needed) -
A multiple-action exercise with unusual flushing and tendon strengthening characteristics.

While Floyd Page makes no claims the originator of this exercise, I personally found it to be new to me when he first demonstrated it about six years ago when he and I were taking a workout.

Floyd is the possessor of steel-like musculature, owning the hardest muscles of anyone I have ever known. To touch them is to feel granite. With such dense muscle tissue, he finds it difficult to encourage growth and has to resort to stern measures. This exercise brought over an inch of added muscle size to his upper arms, when practiced in conjunction with a dumbbell version which will be explained in the section dealing with dumbbell exercises for the biceps. If your own arms are very tough, then this exercise might pump some growth into them, too.

No illustration is needed for this exercise, since it is easily explained. You start the movement as in the regular, shoulder width grip curl. However, you only curl the weight to waist level, or until the forearms are horizontal to the ground. You hold at that position for a pause of one second and you then lower the barbell back to the thighs. You repeat that 10 times. Next, you curl the barbell all the way to the shoulders, but when you lower it you stop its descent at waist height, or once again where the forearms are horizontal to the ground. You hold for one second and then curl the barbell back to the shoulders. You repeat this part of the exercise 10 times. Then, you lower the barbell to the thighs and perform 10 complete curls from thighs to shoulders. In all, you perform 30 repetitions, 10 for each section of the exercise.

Don't try to use a heavy weight in this. Begin with no more than half the poundage you regularly use in the curl. It's a tough one, but it brings amazing results in many cases of stubborn biceps growth.

Barbell Clean to the Shoulders (Illustration No. 8) -
For tremendous biceps power.

While competitive Olympic weightlifters don't generally possess upper arms as finely muscled as bodybuilders, inch for inch of arm size their arms are stronger. Since they do not perform regular curls as a result of their training, their power must be gained from another source. The barbell clean to the shoulders is the secret.

For complete benefit the bodybuilder does not have to practice the exercise with a leg split or employ the complicated cleaning technique of the weightlifter. All he need do is bend forward and grasp a weight at the floor and then pull this weight up and into the shoulders. He can keep his legs stiff at the knees or bend them, whichever is most comfortable for him, and which, of course, permits him to handle the heaviest poundage.

Illustration No. 8 shows the usual starting position of the exercise. Note that the palms of the hands are facing the body and NOT away from it as in the regular curl.

From this starting position the bodybuilder straightens up his body and while doing so pulls strongly with his arms, literally hauling the weight up to his shoulders. He holds the weight at his shoulders for a moment or two, then lowers it to the ground and repeats the movement.

Every bodybuilder should practice the clean to shoulders this way from time to time, not so much for the size the exercise will build as for the tremendous power it creates in the biceps.

Floor Barbell Curl (Illustration No. 9) -
Another terrific biceps power builder.

This exercise a.k.a. Curl Grip Clean) is another one which is expressly devised to mold the maximum biceps power. It is performed similarly to the previous one, except that the palms are facing the front when the body is bent forward and the weight grasped at the floor. Illustration No. 9 shows the starting position. From there, stand erect and while doing so, cheat curl the barbell to the shoulders. Lower the weight to the floor and repeat.

Besides building tremendous biceps power, this exercise also strengthens the wrist, thickening the ligaments and muscle attachments, giving the wrist a strong, meaty look.

Arms Parallel Barbell Curl (Illustration No. 10) -
A concentration-type exercise for biceps height.

At first, this exercise may appear to be an inferior type of curl to you, for obviously, due to the leverage involved a very light weight must be used, otherwise the shoulders will not be able to handle the load. However, when performed properly and with intense mental concentration, this movement has built exceptional biceps height on advanced bodybuilders who were unable to achieve this with other movements.

To start the exercise, curl a light weight to the shoulders, as in the regular curl. Raise the elbows until they are parallel to the ground. Now, keeping the elbows in that fixed position, extend the arms until they are in the position shown in Illustration No. 10. You will note that the entire arms are now parallel to the ground. Immediately curl the weight back to the shoulders, and DO NOT lower the elbows while doing so.

At first, try to maintain a very erect body position and keep the wrists straight. However, to cheat in this exercise, you bend back and keep the wrists curled, instead of straight. This shortens the leverage and places the body in a stronger position, permitting the use of heavier weights.

In this exercise you can use either a regular, shoulder width grip or else a close one. A wide grip is uncomfortable and not advised.

Palms Forward Bentover Rowing Motion (Illustration No. 11) -
For a thick, baseball biceps.

The bent forward rowing motion is well known as one of our most valuable back exercises. However, it is also a fine biceps developer, particularly when performed with the palms facing away from the body and not towards as in the regular movement.

To perform this exercise, bend forward and grasp a barbell with a shoulder width grip, palms facing to the front as shown in Illustration No. 11. Now, pull the weight up until the barbell touches the chest at about a line with the nipples. Raise the elbows high when doing this. Lower to the starting position and repeat.

You can use either a shoulder width grip, or else a close one in this exercise. You will not be able to succeed with a complete action if you use a wide grip so this is not advised.

To cheat, you employ some body motion which will permit the use of heavier weights.

This ends Part One. 
Next: Barbell Exercises for the Triceps and the Forearms. 


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