Sunday, August 21, 2016

Off-Season to Contest Training Adjustments - Doug Daniels (1992)

This author's first encounter with the concept of off-season training for powerlifting came from an old Muscle Builder/Power magazine. In that particular issue was an article on the squat training of record holder of that day, George Frenn. The photo accompanied the article was of Frenn squatting a massive 853 at 242. That bending bar and Frenn's grimace is still sharp in my mind. 

In that article, Frenn outlined the off-season training regime he used to squat that incredible weight, which would be fantastic even today with all the new squat suits and knee wraps. George's off-season routine included front squats and box or bench squats. After a steady diet of these, he would transfer over increased power to his competition squat. Sounds reasonable.

But this article is not about George Frenn's off-season squat routine or any other superstar's secrets. It's about the transition of going from an off-season routine to specific contest training. It's not as easy as one day doing front squats or stiff legged deadlifts and the next going to your normal squat stance or sumo deads. Exercises or techniques used during the off-season can very greatly from contest methods. If one does not follow an organized, well thought out transition to contest training, the results could be less than expected, or, at worst, lead to injury. 

Let's explore each lift's nuances and how the transition can be made smoothly and effectively.  

The squat's first. Let's say your off-season work revolves around high bar, close stance squats. The execution of this type of squat may be similar to contest style, but the leverages are vastly different and this difference can be even greater if you use a wide squat stance. If you went cold turkey from close stance to your regular stance, you might have problems with depth perception and balance and control of the bar during the descent and ascent of the lift. This could cause you to lose confidence in your abilities and may lead to you thinking your time devoted to off-season training was counterproductive. You may even squat less than you could before you started all this off-season stuff. At worst, you could hurt yourself and suffer a real setback.

One way to achieve this transition smoothly is not to increase the weight used in the early stage of contest training by a large amount, and allow a short time of adjustment. In addition, reps should remain the same for a short while. Let's look at the last few weeks of a lifter's off-season phase and what the first few weeks of his contest phase could look like to accomplish this.

Off-Season Squat (close stance) - 

Week 10: 
135 x 10, 225 x 10, 275 x 10, 315 x 10.

Week 11: 
145 x 10, 235 x 10, 285 x 10, 325 x 10.

Week 12: 
155 x 10, 245 x 10, 295 x 10, 335 x 10.

Contest Squat (normal competition stance) - 

Week 1:
155 x 10, 245 x 10, 295 x 10, 335 x 10.

Week 2: 
165 x 10, 255 x 10, 305 x 10, 345 x 10.

Week 3: 
175 x 8, 265 x 8, 318 x 8, 355 x 8.

and continuing.

In this example, the lifter uses the same weight on Week 1 of his (competition stance) contest phase as the last week of his (close stance) off-season phase. He also uses the same rep scheme. This will not create such a noticeable change in his workout. The first workout should be moderate to reacquaint the lifter with his normal technique. Increase 10 lbs. the next week (Week 2), keeping the reps the same. On Week 3, increase weight and drop the reps by 2. By this time, most lifters will be adjusted and can proceed with more weight increases and rep changes. Of course, your actual routine may differ from my example. Just remember to keep the increases in weight and decreases in reps small at first.

Another method is to include a set of your normal competition squat style in your off-season routine. This way, you will never really lose the feel and groove of your normal style. This set can be done as a 'down' or final set after your chosen off-season work. Don't go overboard, though, on the weight or sets. Just one light set to keep the groove will help without risking overtraining. Keep the reps between 6 and 12. You may want to just include this set the last 3 to 4 weeks of your off-season. My slow work-in example in the previous paragraph can also be applied here.

The bench press can be addressed in much the same way. Going from dumbbell benches, or close grips, for example, to your competitive mode will take some getting used to. You must readjust to your back arch and foot position. The balance of the bar will seem strange at first. Ease back into your old grip if you went wide, otherwise could pull something. 

Conventional deadlifters will transition much easier than sumo pullers. Sumo pullers must regain flexibility and technique to pull effectively. I would suggest including a sumo set the last 3 to 4 weeks prior to starting the contest phase.

An experienced lifter should require less adjustment time to get back into the contest groove. Novice and intermediate lifters should go slower. Have someone assess your technique when you switch over and don't increase weight until you get your technique back in line. 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Racing the Pump - Larry Scott (1976)

Here's a two hour video of Larry demonstrating and explaining his favorite exercises: 

Larry Scott guest posing in 1975.
25 lbs. lighter than at his second Mr. Olympia win.

Walter Milner, Vancouver, B.C. circa '75 - 76.
Trained at the East Hastings Western Gym.
Capable of raw gym lifts of
Bench - 405 x 3 touch and go
 Deadlift  - 575
Squat - 600
at bodyweight under 200.

How to Build Upper Pecs
by Larry Scott (1976) 

Bodybuilders are often disappointed when they find that some bodyparts do not respond  as well as others. It's easy to get excited about the routine a champion might use. You get the impression that if he can build his body to a certain level, you, too, can do it.

I watched Don Howorth build incredible deltoids with little effort. Arnold pumps his enormous biceps with simple movements that leave the mimics baffled. It's sad to relate that certain fellows are born that way. They have bodyparts that will respond to anything. 

However, fortunately, that's not the entire secret to bodybuilding. There are a lot of naturals wandering around who don't have it because they don't know how to put it all together. You see them all the time. They have wonderful proportions, but they can't seem to put on the kind of muscle that whips bodybuilding fans into a frenzy.

It's darn seldom that one guy is going to have a body that responds ultimately to every exercise he does. A lot of times they mistake size for peak development. Too often they depend on size alone rather than shape and detail. That's where Mister Mediocre can slip in and steal the show - if he knows how to train.

One of the body areas that eludes the best of them is the upper pectoral region of the chest. Its presence, all too often, is marked by a conspicuous hollow directly under the clavicle, especially when the arms are raised overhead in poses. The upper portion of the pec minor pectoral muscle fills in the chest directly above the heavy lower pecs up to, and covering, the collarbone. Emphasis on this neglected region removes the bottom-heavy look of the chest and gives it the balanced look of the superbly trained bodybuilder. Many physique men have huge chests, and many have cuts and striations, but few have the ideal size and balance. That takes effort and thought. 

I happened to be the type that was forced to think and work. It makes me envious when I think of Big John Johnson here in Salt Lake City, who stands 6'2" with the widest shoulders I've ever seen in bodybuilding. They are built of solid, massive muscle tissue. Relaxed, his delts look like wing tanks on a plane.

I'm sorry I can't relate this as a success story, because John, much to my exasperation, can do a few silly seated presses, a few lateral raises, and his delts take off like a forest fire. Don't get the idea that I really care. I just couldn't resist giving you another example of a natural who can get big easy while I have to work my tail off.

Fortunately, God tells us there must be opposition in all things. That has been my advantage because the extra work that I've had to do, and the extra ingenuity, has helped teach me more about the techniques of training.

Big John's a nice guy. Besides, I have become quite accustomed to working harder than my contemporaries to achieve the same gain. Did you get that - I said the same gain.

This is especially true of my chest, probably one of my most stubborn bodyparts. My chest never responded as fast as my arms or legs. Because of this pectoral reluctance to respond to normal training routines, I have been forced to listen more intently to the feedback my body gave me during my chest routines.

I made some pointed observations. The large pectoralis major on most of us will flush with blood with little effort using the standard training routines we see pointed out everywhere. The pectoralis minor, the serratus magnus, and the upper pecs are not so easily led into filling with blood. The hard to reach upper pec is really the clavicular portion of the pectoralis major, plus the subclavius muscle - along with the actual pectoralis minor and the upper parts of the serratus magnus. The pectoralis major, with its upper, middle, and lower parts, has a wide range of motions.

You might have asked yourself at this point, "Why should I be concerned with all these small muscle group areas?" If you still a relatively new bodybuilder, these "balance zones" may be quite important to you. I realize you want more honest to goodness muscle SIZE right now, and overall physique balance has not yet become important to you. If you are thinking ahead, you will take my advice. Think of top bodybuilders like Frank Zane, who stands on the pinnacle of achievement because he selected his movements to sculpture a beautiful physique. It would be worthwhile to have an eye for the aesthetic as well as for the massive image of the physique ideal. You will go farther if you aspire to both objectives, and not to either one alone.

I mentioned the difficulty of building upper pecs, and each of us need not be reminded of the many fruitless hours spent trying to get some permanent size in this elusive region. The question is how to do it.

Perhaps "how" is the wrong word. The question is not how, but when, When!!!

Many small isolated groups of muscle will not recuperate fast enough to sustain a pump long enough to get any lactic acid built up in the muscle. The upper pec is one of these areas. You've got to borrow from the lower and middle sections of the pectoralis major.

First of all, you've got to engorge the big middle and lower pecs with blood. Here we can use flushing methods. You increase the pace of the sets with less rest in between. If you don't hasten the pace, the blood will withdraw from one set to the next. I have felt this happen many times. When I took too much rest between sets, the blood rapidly dissipated, and this led me to erroneously believe that my muscle had had enough, that continuation would amount to overwork.

The muscle was not being over-trained. On the contrary, it was under-trained, and the process fooled me completely.

Here is the system I use. Keep in  mind quality training methods. Rest between sets is brought to a minimum.

Warmup Exercises:

To set the stage for the upper pec workout, I use the Wide Grip Bench Press to work the middle pectoral area, and the V-Bar Parallel Dips to thoroughly flush the lower and outer pecs with blood.

Wide Grip Bench Press

V-Bar Parallel Dips 

I perform 3 sets of Wide Grip Bench Presses, 12, 10, and 8 reps, increasing the weight each set, and bringing the bar to a point high on the chest, just below the collarbones, elbows flared out. I superset them with Parallel Bar Dips, using a V-formed set of bars that allows me to really blast the outside of the pecs and make them appear wider. Regular Parallel Bar Dips can be substituted if you don't have the V-Bar type. Or, if you have movable dip bars they can be placed rather far apart. Perform as many reps as you can on the dips, and go for a massive pump.

Superset Warmup:
Wide Grip Bench Press, 3 x 12, 10, 8, supersetted with
Parallel Bar Dips, 3 x maximum reps.

Upper Pec Tri-Set

Now that the pectorals are fully pumped from the first two exercises, I immediately move to the incline bench and start my Tri-Set upper pec routine before the pump can diminish.

Incline Bench Press
Incline Flye
not shown, Incline Dumbbell Press

Incline Dumbbell Press:

This movement is excellent for adding size to the upper pecs where they tie in to the deltoids. Dumbbells allow you to lower the weight further than the barbell and help add an extra cleft of muscle in this region. Use a light weight on the first set on all these upper pec exercises. Start with the dumbbells overhead while lying on an incline bench. Lower the bells slowly with the elbows flared and well back to fully stretch the upper pectoral attachments, then press back to the starting position until the arms are fully locked out. Inhale deeply as the weight is lowered, exhale as you push the weight back up. Repeat for 10 reps. Without pausing go immediately to . . .

Incline Barbell Press:

When using heavy weights on this exercise, it builds slabs of muscle across the upper chest that cover the collarbones for a high, deep chest. If you don't have a special rack on your incline bench, get two training buddies to hand you the weight. With a wide grip, start with the bar at arms' length over the chest. Lower the bar in a controlled manner, again to a point high on the chest, just below the collarbones; press the weight upwards and back at the same time until the arms are locked out fully with the bar over the eyes. Repeat for 10 repetitions, inhaling deeply as the weight is lowered, and exhaling as you press it back up. Go right to the next exercise . . .

Incline Dumbbell Laterals (Flyes):

This exercise adds size, shape, and definition to the upper pecs and is one of my favorite chest builders. Start with the dumbbells held above the chest, arms slightly bent to relieve the strain on the elbows. Inhale deeply as the bells are lowered out to the sides and towards the rear slightly to get a full stretching action of the outer and upper pectoral area. Return to the starting position and tense the pecs forcibly as the hands come together, exhaling as you do so. Repeat for 10 reps.

Now, with no more than 30 seconds rest, begin another complete Tri-Set. Continue in the same manner until you have performed four complete Tri-Sets:

Dumbbell Incline Press x 10 tri-set with
Barbell Incline Press x 10 tri-set with
Dumbbell Incline Flyes x 10.

Pre-set all the equipment before you even start your chest routine. Time is of the essence here. You must not lose a moment. If you find your upper pecs are stubborn and seem to refuse to respond to anything, please give this a try.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Constipation and the Lockout - Ken Leistner (1979)

If you don't have this book yet, get it. No kidding, not shitting, really. In my view this 200 page gem holds some of Mark Rippetoe's finest writing. The anecdotes, advice and opinions herein will serve you well down the long road, and I've found that each time I return, even to just scan at random, I come away with something I've either conveniently 'forgotten', or never bloody knew in the first place. Classic Rippetoe, this, and not to be missed. Come to think of it, if Strength & Health was still happening, not that tail end of run model, I mean the era with Starr, Suggs, McCallum, etc, these article/essays would definitely have served the magazine well. By God, The Ghost of Boho would be happy to print the lot of it in monthly installments. 

Can I have my five bucks now, Mark. 
Times is tough! 

Anyhow . . . 

From the book:

"Bill (Starr) worked with me for several years while he was here. He was in town more often then. I value the things he taught me. One of those things was to try to be more receptive to instruction. One day while we were benching at David Anderson's gym he tried to explain some fine point of technique that had eluded me, and for some reason I wasn't trying very hard to learn.

"He stepped back and said, 'You know, it would be better if you would get more coachable.'  I thought about that a lot, and I have tried to get and stay more coachable. This requires that I be mindful of the fact that I have many things to learn, even -- maybe especially -- about things I think I already know." 

 - There's a very important lesson waiting to be learned there, one we all could gain from.
Do get this book.

Okay, all seriousness and all kidding aside, this next article is one of many of the earlier batch that Ken Leistner wrote for Powerlifting USA, and I'm real happy to have the opportunity to share them. Thanks again, Jake! As always, the overwhelming majority of what was said then by men in the know rings true now. Just ask the Ghost of Boho next time you see him. One day in particular, in that elastic and expanding time that takes place now and then during the late reps of a hard high-rep squat set, from two dozen or so on up to the kicker, why, I struggled to keep my head on straight, gasped to grab a breath of fresh as it seemed to be disappearing from the room. Where in hell was the oxygen I had to have! Who's the wise guy hoggin' the inhalable!!! Lo and bloody behold, there he was . . . semitransparent, translucent and radiating the life force of 10,001 polka tournaments . . . The Ghost of Boho! Damned if that outrageous chest cavity of his wasn't suckin' up what I wanted and wanted right now. Anyhow, things do get a wee trifle weird when you exert yourself, don't they all just. 

1936 Berlin Olympics

To the article . . .

I'm hopeful that the readers won't see the following attempt to turn PLUSA into Strength & Health. That's a funny thought. "Constipation and the Lockout: How I Won the YMCA Nationals" or some such rot. Well, it would be a fine piece for S & H but not for this publication. Weight training for the motor scooter enthusiast is also not quite what's waited for monthly. However, I would like to relate a few things that might be useful for the lifter.

This weekend, the U.S. is having its first attempt at deciding which club is the National champion in rugby union. As the final game has yet to be played I don't, at this point in time, know who is to be crowned. But for those who know rugby, understand full well that the REAL championship was settled in the first round, yesterday, when Old Blue of Berkeley (Calif.) defeated Old Blue of NYC in double overtime. No slap at the players representing Akron and St. Louis, but even if the West Coast boys should go into a terminal coma prior to their game vs. St. Louis, the deal has already gone down and even the St. Louis team would be hard pressed to truly believe themselves as being worthy of the accolades accompanying the National championship.

THE POINT? Many of the ruggers utilize weights to assist their game and having been a very minor part of Old Blue (NYC) fortunes a number of years ago, I was around long enough to realize that most of them, for all their talent, don't know what the hell they're doing.

My cousin played wing forward for Old Blue for a few years, and represents this year's Eastern Rugby Union championship club as their hooker. He began his lifting career while still under my tutelage as a high school student (he at least listened then), and his ability to work hard made him a very effective linebacker at 5'5" and 160 lbs. He continued his lifting as an adjunct to rugby, again needing an edge due to his small stature. He utilized the following routine prior to the last few rugby seasons with the side benefit of adding quite a bit to his powerlift total.

As necessary background, he long trained under a systematic routine as discussed in some of my previous articles; squats, deadlift, presses, curls, benches; low reps, total out every few weeks etc. Still being done by most powerlifters to this day. He was one of the students caught up in the groundswell of 'training to failure', but the shortcomings of burning yourself out every workout became obvious. One thing we noted (as I at one time tried the same route), was that we could no longer use heavy weights.

As an example, he was using 300 for 30 reps  in the squat (28 may have been his best at that point), yet had much difficulty doing a triple with 350. You tend to get very tenacious blasting out tough, high rep sets, but the fear of heavy weights will be upon you. [What an instructional and beautifully constructed line of writing that is!] I mention this as a number of fellows I've talked to recently are going towards higher reps (in and of itself not deleterious and god for a break, development, cardiovascular benefits), but it must be recalled, if not so strictly in the words of the immortal George Frenn ("anything over four reps a set is bodybuilding and won't do shit for your powerlifts" or words to that effect), that you will have a hell of a time lifting heavy weight if you never lifted heavy weights. Many reports by Eastern Europeans indicate, in relationship to the Olympic lifts, that any movements done with less than 80% of maximum tends to cause the development (and in time, the establishment) of motor neuron patterns different than those utilized when using weights above 80% (and certainly at the percentages close to 100 and even more than that for "contest" lifts used at meets).

Not wanting to totally abandon his high rep work, Tommy began squatting twice a week (and keep in mind that this was in addition to a daily ten hour shift as a structural ironworker, and daily running of approximately 6-13 miles), in the following manner:

12 rep warmup
8 reps
6 reps
4 reps
Single to 90% (100% every two weeks)
10 reps.

Actually, almost standard to what most guys do. I think the difference lies in the fact that his backoff set of 10 was an all out effort, in essence, going to failure that last set. Many lifters feel that twice a week to even 90% of limit might be a bit much, but this brings up an interesting point.

First, let's keep in mind that he's not lifting 12 months a year. He'll lift throughout the Spring and Fall seasons but at an intensity that is greatly reduced, and perhaps this will be only once per week. Also, his constant running (and the nature of his work may contribute to this) makes it impossible to go 90% of limit. In reality his 90% is closer to 80%, but in the off season,when he'll give more concentration to lifting (not by adding sets, days, etc., but rather, just put his head to it), and cut his running down to twice a week, at least for a while, his maximum single and doubles go up significantly. Also, his past propensity for doing 30's with anywhere between 300 and 350 have built an incredible foundation for heavy singles.

The applications? Well, especially for beginners, those just coming back after a lengthy layoff or injury spree, those in an ever deepening rut, a few weeks or months (perhaps three months maximum) of doing higher reps (20 to 30) may be very beneficial.

We would do them like this, just so that the proper meaning has been given. 20 minutes of stretching, runs up stairs (these were done for about six series - the stairs at work led up to the loft where we kept the weights - and we had to traverse 21 steps on the "short" runs and not quite double that on the "long" warmups), and then use a 135 lb. barbell to thoroughly stretch the thighs and hips, doing slow squats, widening the foot stance with each rep. This was done for one or two sets or until it was felt that we could get down to cases.

We would then take our weight for that day and do 30 reps. "Hey, Jack, be serious, jump 135 to 330, you be crazy!" Well, yeah, let me put it like this; if you can do 30 reps with any weight, that weight is not a HEAVY weight for you. I'm not recommending walking into the gym, planting your self under 300 plus pounds and squatting. No way. Injuries, inability to perform at maximum ability due to lack of warmup, etc., we all know that trip. Note that we took close to a half hour just to warm up for this one set of squats. I don't recommend the usual trip of jumping 25 lbs. or whatever per set until you get to a heavy weight. Put all the effort into the one set for 30.

This is a lot different than going under a weight and trying to do a maximum of even 6 reps with it, following the same procedure. 300 to 400 pounds, while enough to do damage to the uninitiated, is not a whole lot of weight for a man who can do singles or doubles with almost twice that poundage. Psychologically, it may be tough to handle, but hey, that's what causes most lifters to waste probably 95% or their workout effort over the course of a few years.

Anyway, start the cycle with a very moderate weight, 185 prior to one rugby season (my last as I recall), and jump it 15 or 20 pounds each workout. We were both way over 300 for 30 in a few weeks. For the powerlifter, he will now be in a position (and this is especially true for the 220 pounders and above, not the exceptional ones who have no doubt maintained some form of cardiovascular ability, but the average 220 pounder and up) where he can train incredibly hard due to the increase in both muscular and cardiovascular endurance.

Psychologically, this can also be played to advantage. If you were to end this cycle at 400 for 30 reps, you just might have difficulty doing triples with 500 or even 450 (from our past experience). Again, this might not stem completely from having a crushing weight on the back, I'm not sure, and for those hollering about lack of connective tissue strength . . .

Science has yet to fully explain the causes underlying connective tissue changes as they relate to progressive resistance exercise. There are those who assume that connective tissue strength increases in an exact, but unknown proportion to muscle tissue strength. Fine, that's all acceptable. There are those who state that you need low reps for tendon and ligament strength. Also acceptable. Others cry out for support work in the rack. Also, just as acceptable. The only thing definitely known is that connective tissue increases do occur in relation to the strength increases made in lean muscle tissue. But the reasons as to why, how much, in what proportion, etc., well, keep in mind that they, the scientists, still don't know the why underlying the growth of muscle tissue. They know how to achieve it, but don't know why, and keep in mind also that knowing how to achieve it often is dependent on who's footing the research bills.

Okay, cycle down (in effect) to 400 for triples (or whatever your top weight for 30 was), and build triples and fives from there for a few months. I can only say that the psychological "break" (euphemistically used. I can't describe the horror that grips one faced with doing 30 reps in the full squat with a weight that he's never used for more than maybe five reps - Note, not that one was capable with that weight of performing a maximum of five reps, but rather, one never did more than five reps with it on the way to heavier fives, threes, singles) of doing the high reps, the physical difference of doing high reps (if nothing else, some of the intervertebral discs will get some slack), and the sheer "differentness" (for lack of a more suitable word) will allow the average lifter to make large increases. We used this method with a number of our football players too, and although I don't care to go into the deadlift now, we had one kid who came back from a successful season of college ball, a kid who had never done singles (or in fact less than six reps in any one set), and he was capable of some strong triples with about 150 pounds or so more than he was using for 20s and 30s in the squat, including a deadlift of 675.

I just don't think you have to do singles to do singles. But you have to work heavy. This is not to say that you have to work heavy all the time.        

This article might prove useful at some point as well:          

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Judging Strength Training Methods (With Sample Bench Routine) - George Elder


There is at present a plethora of systems which purport to be the 'best' for gaining strength. These systems vary from the old 10-8-6-4-2-1 routines, to the present one set of 10-12 repetitions per body part routines. Many people support isometric, isokinetic, and eccentric methods of weight training. In order to justify the various systems presently in use, many 'studies' have been done to judge the various advantages one system has over the other. Unfortunately, many of these studies are sponsored by either companies of individuals whose motives are less than altruistic.

It is my opinion that as long as there is 'big money' to be made in the field of weight training there will be new gimmicks. Americans, as a whole, are always looking for an easy and sure way to success. We usually have faith in anything that purports to be scientific, and we are also quite willing to pay for the possibility of 'scientific' success. Unscrupulous individuals who realize this prey on the 'faith' in science and sponsor many a study to either back up their present systems, or detract from opponents' systems. Unfortunately, for these individuals, the making of money by any means seems to be more important than the advancing of our field.     

Hovering over the chapters gives a more detailed description:

 Continuing with the article:

This is not to say that all weight training studies done in this country are biased and unscientific. Many are, however, and the most important thing one can do when considering possible programs is to realize this. When I design programs, the research and data I accumulate comes from studies done in Eastern and Western Europe as well as North America. I also use much of the theories and systems that weightlifters use. After all, weightlifters are some of the strongest athletes in the world. Their systems have been developed over a very long period of time, and have proven successful by the very nature of the ever-increasing world world record poundages now being lifted. Let us not dismiss systems that have proven to be successful, for the sake of pseudo scientific money mongers.

What one must realize is that while almost any system will work and improve any given athletes' strength potentials, the most important criteria to use while judging systems is the DEGREE OF IMPROVEMENT possible. Simply stated, some systems will work better than others, but all systems will work to a degree. To realize this, while reading studies and testimonials, is not only wise, but critical. There's that word again.

As an example of a system that has proven to be effective and I have extensive experience with, let me present the following bench press workout.

60% x 6-8 reps
75% x 5 reps
85% x 3-5 reps
90% x 2-4 reps
90% x 2-4 reps
70% x 2 sets of max reps with a close grip.

Please note that the above system is expressed in percentages of one repetition maximum. In the above example, if our subject could bench press 300 pounds, the above would translate into . . .

180 x 6-8
225 x 5
255 x 3-5
270 x 2-4
270 x 2-4
210 x 2 sets of close grip benches, as many reps as possible.

When we examine this system in detail, it is quite evident that the warm up sets are certainly not done to the point of fatigue. Not only are the warm up sets not done for high reps, but it is also advised to take a three to four minute rest between these sets. The whole purpose of this procedure is to avoid early fatigue, so as not to adversely affect our performance in our heavy sets. Remember, to gain strength, the quality of the work involved is more important than the quantity of work involved.            

Please note that there is a range (e.g. 3-5; 2-4) of repetitions to be performed at most given weights. This range takes into account such things as bad days and slight illnesses. However, this flexibility alone is not sufficient. No program is universal in application, and this should be remembered above all things.  

Some people are great at repetitions, but poor at maxing out. Others are great at maxing out, but poor at repetitions. To take this into account in the above workout merely add or subtract up to 5% max, and add or subtract a rep or two for each set. As an example, if I had a person who was good at repetitions but couldn't perform well, or realize great gains with 90% of max training loads, I would modify the above workout as below, to meet his needs . . . 

55% x 8-10
70% x 5-7
80% x 5-6 
85% 4-6
70 x 2 sets of close grip benches, as many reps as possible.  

Use common sense and what works best for the individual when modifying workouts. Don't modify them to the extent that they no longer meet their goals (i.e., building strength), but only modify them to the extent that they help the athlete achieve the goals of his program expeditiously. 

Also, note the two close grip 'burn out' sets we do at the end of our bench press workout. We do this to isolate the triceps which, in many cases is the weight limiting muscle group in the bench press movement. We have found that by doing these two sets directly after heavy benching, we can effectively work the triceps group and thus increase its potential. 

The above bench workout is but an example of one stage of an overall strength program. I use many such devices to insure maximal strength gains. Being a firm believer in free weight training, I also believe in keeping 'machine' movements to a minimum. To my way of thinking, intensity, flexibility, and proven reliability should be the precepts behind any valid weight training program.   

This is the first of a series that is to delve into such devices as cycling, load intensities, and exercise sequence. Hopefully, this series will present an interesting point of view. I personally welcome all criticism of this article, as that is how we advance the field. There is nothing so great as an open forum to insure progress in the field of weight training.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Precious McKenzie - Powerlift Training (June 1979 PLUSA)

His training is very simple. Basically it is his will to work hard that has won him all his titles. So basic is it that many of his records have been set without the use of a powerlifting belt, supersuit or wraps. A 12 Week layout would look like this. 

Alternate Week A Workouts with Week B Workouts.


Bench Press
All for 5,4,3,2,1 reps while increasing the weights.

Upright Row
Leg Press
Front Squat
Deadlift With Straps
5,4,3,2,1 throughout.

Half Squat
Deficit Deadlift With Straps

Front Squat
Bench Press From Sticking Point

Bench Press
Seated Squat (box)
Partial Deadlift Off Boxes


Bench Press

Fast Deadlift
Deep Squat
Leg Press

Hack Lift
Decline Bench Press
Dip Between Dumbbells

Leg Press
Front Squat

Upright Row
Bench Press
Partial Deadlift Off Boxes (With Straps) and
Inclines Again.

Taken from this issue: 

Thanks again to Jake Striefel.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Four Day a Week Mass Layout - Ken Waller (1975)

Perhaps the most important point in this training for mass program I am about to present is the need to establish the right balance between effort and rest. I mean not only the seconds or minutes between sets, but also the days of rest between workouts and their proper distribution in the course of a week's work. Add to this the basic biological night's sleep, and you have put down a foundation for what I think is a real good way to boost those muscles into a higher stage of development.

It's hard to knock off whole days of rest when you see Arnold and Franco and Zane going at it every day with their own routines. You get this compulsion to work, and you hate to let a day go by. You've probably felt the same way in your own training. However, before long, on this mass routine, you'll learn to appreciate the need for rest. You build up on and get into the heavy systemic moves like squats and rowing motions with the barbell, and you've opened the gates on your reservoir of energy. It's very easy to overdo these big ones, so listen carefully.

That doesn't mean you can get away with only four or five sets on a muscle group. That ancient concept was okay for getting "bulk," the kind of size you got by "stuffing the goose" - force-feeding yourself with everything in sight - but it's not that way any more, and it shouldn't be. Neither does it mean you can do a lot of heavy sets. If you have been training hard for five years or so, you might get away with a high number of heavy sets for a while, but for optimum results I believe 10 to 12 sets on a muscle will keep you from going out of bounds and overworking.

Growth simply won't take place without sufficient rest. If you overwork, you can go nowhere and even backslide. Your muscles become 'shocked' and get mulish, absolutely refusing to respond. The wasted time can seem disheartening. After ten years of heavy training I've arrived at some facts of life. I have found that the best system for building quality mass is a four day a week program, hitting each muscle group twice a week. Calves, which are worked each session, are the only exception. With this routine you rest three full days a week.

Here are some important points:

1) Set your goal. What will give you the look you want? 15 . . . 20 . . . 30 pounds? That means solid muscle, not fat. 

2) Heavy training builds more lasting muscle. "Pump artists" deflate with a two-week layoff. Guys who go heavy show little appreciable loss in muscle size after a few weeks away from training. 

3) Heavy leg work is paramount. The full squat is the basic mass builder for the thighs. You will work calves every training day to keep pace with the thighs.

Monday and Thursday: Legs, Chest, Back. 
Tuesday and Friday: Abs, Shoulders, Arms.

Monday/Thursday Program


Donkey Calf Raises - 
This is my favorite calf growth exercise. (If you train alone you will have to substitute another exercise or rig something up). Point your toes straight ahead with just the balls of the feet on a four-inch block. Raise up as high as you can on the toes and lower the heels as far down toward the floor as you are able. Do 15 full repetitions, then do another 5 reps of "burns" by going half way down and then half way up, staying in the top half of the movement. This keeps the calves under continuous tension. The exercise is more effective if your partner (or the weight) sits more toward the hips, rather than the lower back, so that more stress is placed directly above and onto the calves. 


Heavy Barbell Squats - 
Unquestionably the greatest thigh builder of them all. For a warmup, do about 10 freehand squat to stretch the muscles and warm up the knees. Now go to a weight that you can do 12 reps with. This first set is still part of the warmup, so don't use maximum poundage. After a one or two minute rest, add weight to the bar and do 10 reps. Continue adding weight each set as you do 8 reps, 7 reps, and 6 reps. Add more weight and do 2 sets of 5 reps. This totals up to 7 sets. Keep the bar high on the back of the shoulders and keep the back straight so the thighs get all the work, rather than the back and buttocks.

Leg Curls - 
Adds that sweep to the back of the thighs by developing the hamstring muscles. When performing this exercise be sure to keep the body flat against the table at all times. If the hips are allowed to raise up as the legs are curled, the movement in less effective. 5 sets of 12 reps, resting no more than one minute between sets, will do the job.

Upper Body Warmup
It is wise to prepare the upper body muscles with a light warmup before engaging them in heavy training. I have found that doing 2 sets of 10-12 reps of chins and parallel bar dips (done superset style) is an excellent warmup for all the upper body muscles. Diving straight into heavy upper body work without a warmup is just plain stupid and it can lead to nagging injuries that retard your training progress for weeks and even months. Don't overwork on the chins and dips by trying to go all-out for maximum reps. They are being used as a warmup.  


Barbell Bench Press - 
Builds great size and adds strength. Using a medium-wide grip, start out with 12 reps on the first set. Lower the bar to the highest point of the chest, then ram it back to the starting position. Add weight each succeeding set for 10, 8, and 2 sets of 6 reps. Rest one to two minutes between sets.

Incline Dumbbell Press - 
Thickens the upper pec area and creates a fuller tie-in with the delts. Since your chest is already warmed up from the bench presses, start right out with the heaviest dumbbells you can handle for 8 reps. Do 5 sets of 8 reps. Rest only as long as needed to recuperate for the nest set - usually about 60 to 90 seconds.


Lat Pulldowns - 
This exercise builds wide lats and adds size to the upper portions of the back near the shoulders. Since the back has already been warmed up, start right out with as much weight as you can handle for 8 good reps. Use a wide grip and pull the bar down until it touches the back of the neck at the shoulders; let the bar go back up slowly all the way to the top for a full stretch. Blase out 5 sets of 8 reps, resting no more than one minute between sets.

Bentover Rowing - 
This great movement works the entire back from the lats an traps all the way down to the erector muscles. Use a fairly wide grip and be sure to keep the back flat and parallel to the floor throughout the entire movement. Do the exercise as strictly as possible so that the back gets the work rather than the biceps. In fact, try to relax the biceps and think of the arms and hands only as hooks as you pull the bar up and lower it. Do 5 sets of 8 reps with as much weight as you can handle, resting about one minute between sets.

The Clincher
Finish off with one of MAXIMUM reps of chins and one of dips. That's it for today.

Tuesday/Friday Program

Roman Chair Situps - 
If you don't have a Roman Chair, sit on a bench and hook your feet securely under a heavy barbell. A piece of foam rubber placed between the bar and the feet will make this a lot more comfortable. With the hands clasped together behind the head, lower the upper body down until it is parallel to the floor - never lower than this - then exhale as you come all the way forward while trying to touch the head to the knees for a full contraction. Do one set of as many reps as you can - work up to 50.

Bent Knee Leg Raises -
Keeping the legs partially bent works the abdominals better and reduces assistance from the hip flexors. Keep your chin on your chest and exhale as the legs are raised up until the toes point at the ceiling. Do one set of maximum reps; work up to 50. Do the reps slowly so you can really feel them.

Bent-Over Twists -
A broom stick or an empty bar can be used for this oblique tightener. Bend forward so that the body is parallel with the floor with the stick on the back of your shoulders and your feet wide apart. Now twist as far as is comfortable to the left - try to touch the left foot with the end of the stick - then twist all the way to the right. Keep this up until you have done 50 reps for each side. That's it for ab work.

Same workout as Monday/Thursday 

Upper Body Warmup:
Two supersets of 10-12 reps of chins and dips.


Standing Barbell Press -
This exercise can really put muscle on your shoulders when you do it my way. Use a shoulder width grip. O prefer to do this one standing because I can handle more weight this way. Do not push-press the weight or use a lot of back bend. Use the following repetition scheme: 10 reps; add weight and do 8 reps; add weight and do 3 sets of 6 reps. Rest one to two minutes between sets. I prefer to clean the weight to the shoulders at the start of each set, but you may wish to take the bar off squat racks to conserve energy.

Press Behind Neck -
When you use a very wide grip, this not only builds the delts, it helps widen the entire shoulder girdle. It's a great structure building exercise. Do this one seated. Take the weight off a rack and jerk-press the bar overhead as you sit down. Now, starting the first rep from the top, lower the bar behind the head until it touches the base of the neck; ram it back to the top and repeat for a total of 5 sets of 6 reps. After completing the last rep of each set, lower the bar very slowly to the shoulders before returning it to the racks.


Barbell Curl -
Good for the advanced man as well as the neophyte. Using a straight bar with hands spaced about 12-14 inches apart, curl the bar up to the shoulders and flex the biceps at the top; lower slowly and repeat for 5 sets of 8. On the last couple of sets it is permissible to cheat out the last 2 or 3 reps because your biceps will be tired. But don't overdo it. Use just a slight swing to get the bar moving and only on the last 2 or 3 reps of the last 2 sets. One minute rest between sets should be sufficient.

One Arm Concentration Curl -
Adds height and shape to the biceps as well as building size. Sit on the end of a bench and grasp a dumbbell with the elbow and lower triceps braced against the inside of the thigh near the knee. This gives you a fulcrum for handling more weight without cheating. Curl the bell up until it touches the deltoid and tense the biceps hard at the top; lower slowly and repeat for 5 sets of 8, alternating the right and left arms and resting about 30-60 seconds after a set for each arm. Just go from a set for one arm to a set for the other, then rest 30-60 seconds. Don't be afraid to work up in weight with this one. Your biceps can be trained to generate tremendous strength if you keep pushing the poundage up (Franco and I worked up to a 110-lb. dumbbell for 3 reps). Don't cheat on this movement, but do work as heavy as possible at all times. You won't get quality mass unless you handle heavy poundages.

Seated Barbell Triceps Extension -
This is my favorite exercise for massive triceps. I prefer to use an EZ bar and do it with my back braced. Keeping the elbows pointed straight up - never let them move out toward the sides - the bar should be lowered as far as possible behind the head; straighten the arms to full lockout and repeat for 5 sets of 8, resting about 60-90 seconds between sets.

One Arm Triceps Extension -
I like to brace the arm that is working with the back of the opposite hand. Keep the elbow pointed toward the ceiling as you lower the dumbbell as far as you can/ return to the top by straightening the arm to full lockout. The first three sets do 8 reps, and 6 reps on the last two sets - a total of five sets. Start with the right arm first, then go immediately to the left arm before resting 30-60 seconds.

 Wrap it Up - 
with two sets of maximum rep pushups with the feet elevated on a bench and the hands about 8-10 inches apart. Shower time.   


Donkey Calf Raise, 8 sets of 15 reps
Heavy Barbell Squat, 7 x 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 5
Leg Curl, 5 x 12
Upper Body Warmup, 2 by 10-15 reps of chins and dips, superset style
Barbell Bench Press, 5 x 12, 10, 8, 6, 6
Dumbbell Incline Press, 5 x 8
Lat Pulldown, 5 x 8
Bentover Row, 5 x 8
Chins, 1 x max
Dips, 1 x max.


Roman Chair Situp, 1 x 50
Bent Knee Leg Raise, 1 x 50
Bentover Twist, 1 x 50
Calves, same as Mon/Thurs
Standing Barbell Press, 5 x 10, 8, 6, 6, 6
Seated Press Behind Neck, 5 x 6
Barbell Curl, 5 x 8
One Arm Concentration Curl, 5 x 8
Barbell Triceps Extension, 5 x 8
One Arm Triceps Extension, 5 x 8, 8, 8, 6, 6
Feet Elevated Close Grip Pushups, 2 x max.

Like everything else in this life, you get out of it what you put into it. You probably can't name any other activity where its members so glaringly wear the results of their efforts as they do in bodybuilding. Maybe the sport of alcoholism. Pretty easy to spot an advanced competitor. I knew a guy who was addicted to the sounds of drinking, not the drinking itself. Oh, he'd make up some excuse to get away from it all, then head out of town to somewhere off the grid, some nice quiet treed area where he could just stand there and imagine that audio addiction of his. The hills were alive with the sound of boozing, you might say.  Right now he's working as a bartender in some crummy dive and no one can figure out why he's so happy all the time.

If you want something bad enough you can usually find ways of getting it. If you want muscle mass, you can get it - providing you are strongly motivated for a long enough period of time. Here's a premise for you. Go at it with a clear picture of what you want to be. Imagine your goal, then strive for it with all you've got. Connect your brain to your muscles. Think! Make every rep count. You have to, because you've only got six or eight reps to work with on most sets of this routine.

Leave your worries at home. Put them in your driveway and back over them with your car as you leave for the gym.

Get to sleep. If you lie there staring at the dark ceiling, check yourself for overworking. Keep it up long enough and they'll be checking you in.

Eat muscle building foods. Meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and don't neglect the grains, fruits and vegetables. Try three meals a day and a snack or two in between, but don't be led to believe that 'bulk' eating will 'force' quicker muscle growth. You'll wind up with the same amount of muscle and a layer of lard. Eat like hog, look like pig. Keep it simple, keep it clean and direct, and stick with this layout long enough to work into some heavy weights.  


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Entering Your First Meet - Gregory Hanes (1986)

First off, you might want to know the Tommy Kono documentary, "Arnold Knows Me: The Tommy Kono Story" is currently available in its entirety for viewing (FREE!) here: 

"Forsythe Battles Trepidations About Competing"
by Gregory Hanes

How many of us know powerlifters who have worked hard for years, making gains, however small, however slowly, however lowly. Perhaps describing gains in such a manner is defeatist, as powerlifting is a personal sport where one largely trains with and against oneself. So why compare?

Well, let's take the plight of the powerlifter who, realizing he doesn't know it all and, yearning to improve, turns to current muscle building periodicals like Flex, Muscle and Fitness, MuscleMag, and even Powerlifting USA.

It is in these popular magazines that the voracious reader encounters spellbinding glossies of world champion bodybuilders with muscles, striations, veins and cuts unlike any he has ever witnessed in the gym, and photos of powerlifters so massive and dense that his own width and depth pale greatly by comparison.

Engrossed by their size, he reads on and finds that the bodybuilders are doing isolation exercises with weights far in excess of his meager accomplishments, and the powerlifters are doing competitions squats with just under what he totals. Okay, he says, the bodybuilders are stacking oral and injectible anabolic steroids, and he isn't, and the powerlifters, along with that, have a range of motion a foot less than he does in the squat and deadlift, and six inches in the bench. A beginner can further note that the champions are tens of years his senior and seasoned veterans of the sport as well.

Now the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's violin section is playing away, and psychologists within earshot are smiling a clinician's grin at you, me . . . us. This is obviously a clear case of rationalizing and sour grapes. Whether the musicians are right to play or the doctors to label, to be sure, many of us have been intimidated by the lifting totals and the sheer size of the champions. I have a case I will relate momentarily of a fellow powerlifter who was beset with the very same feelings of inadequacy, and, in turn, felt competing was out of the question. This is not the story of those who foolishly, halfheartedly and unrealistically compete in powerlifting without the requisite knowledge of the three current competitive lifts. Furthermore, it is not the story of those who compete with no awareness of how to cycle for a meet, or without even a modicum of knowledge considering the basic rules of our sport. Rather, this is the story of Will, a drug free powerlifter.

Will's physical and hereditary profile goes as follows. He is in his early twenties, six feet two inches tall on a lanky 190 lb. frame. He has been training or around six years, and is medium boned, with 7.5 inch wrists. Will's limbs are long, he wears 36 inch pants, and his torso is reasonably short. As a high school junior, Will was a raw boned ectomorph. There is a preponderance of evidence which indicates Will is not anatomically suited for the sport.

Will need look no further than his familial ties to place blame, or to find an excuse if he so desired. Both Will's parents are tall and slender, as were their parents, and theirs before them. Will realized he didn't have the genes of Ed Coan, or even far less gifted men. While Will's lineage was a limiting factor, he placed enormous emphasis on nurture.

A talk with Marlon Darton, a top rated amateur bodybuilder, helped strengthen Will's notion about the significance of nurture. Marlon is also six feet two inches tall, and he stressed the importance of working the large muscle groups, the chest, shoulders, legs and back with basic movements like bench presses incline presses, overhead presses, bent row and squats.

For each movement Marlon recommended Will perform from 5 to 8 reps. He also indicated that Will should train every day. Will would realize in time that to train every day is not the way to build optimal size and strength as a powerlifter. Marlon stressed the importance of the right mental perspective and noted that the long muscle bellies of tall bodybuilders take years to reach optimal development. He pointed out that Will must be both patient and diligent.

Armed with this advice, Will attacked his first year of training with the fervor of a hungry lion, and gains started to appear in his chest, back, and legs. There was a price for this, however, as soreness in the lumbar region appeared along with an acute swelling in the cervical region of the neck. What Will feared most, however, was not the risk of injury, but the haunting vision of a 145 pound ectomorph with broom handle rams and fluorescent tube legs.

Will's second year of training took a dive as he made only modest gains. His bench, barely 150 lbs. at the beginning of the year, was only 165 at the end. His squat was hovering around 225 and going nowhere. His deadlift was around 275, and the most frightening form of slow death that any of us in the gym had ever seen. I had never tried a deadlift as of 1982, and no one in the University of Arizona weight room did them, but there was Will, strawberry arms, blueberry neck, raspberry visage, shaking like a dying lizard, pulling 275 lbs. off the floor with everything he could muster. I didn't know Will then, except by sight, but I must concede that I admired his macabre courage.

Will's third year of training went much like his second, except he seemed to be habitually sore in the lower back. The correlation between injury and overtraining was, as yet, a mystery to him.

In the years that followed, Will and I became friends, and my own interest in the squat, bench, and deadlift would lead me to the powerlifting dais, where I would feel the electricity of competitive lifting. I shared my sense of exaltation and suggested that he compete in the upcoming Tucson Powerlifting Championships, a meet open to everyone within the city limits. Will expressed his reservations. As a 198 pounder, he thought even his third attempt poundages in each lift would be pitifully light. He saw this meet only as an opportunity to personally humiliate and embarrass himself in front of his lifting peers and the viewing public. He wanted an 800 lb. total for the three lifts in the gym before he would even consider competing. I left it at that.

Both of us trained diligently at the U of A weight room, and watching Will lift through the summer I realized that while his lifts were not far below an 800 total, maybe a 190 bench, 250 squat, and a 330 deadlift (yes, in pounds, smart-ass), they were not going up. In fact, for the past year he had made little, if any progress in the three lifts, and at times, he showed signs of actually getting weaker. Finally, in the winter of that year, his lifting started to show signs of improvement. High bar squats were building quad strength, close grip benches and 45 degree inclines were building triceps and deltoid power. Top deadlifts were toughening Will's traps and lats, to insure a strong lockout.

In January of 1984, Will became caught up in the excitement of those powerlifters in the gym who were training for the meet. Not even sure why, he started to do low bar squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, with only a modicum of auxiliary work. In essence, Will was cycling on a 5,3,2,1 repetition basis, and interestingly enough, his injuries started to go away. When confronted with the questions, "Why are you cycling?" and "What about the meet?" Will would reply that things looked doubtful.

Privately, Will admitted his fears about being too weak, not being ready psychologically, and the need for more time. In some ways I agreed with him, yet I encouraged him to enter for all the positive reasons I could muster: the thrill of competition, the chance to put it all together, the opportunity to improve. Surely, the pressure of competition would almost force Will to blow away all his previous bests, or would it cause him to knuckle under and bomb out, leaving him shaken and humiliated for who knows how long? These questions left me in a quandary, and it wasn't until two weeks before the meet, when I talked to my brother Jimmy

that I finally developed the conviction to increase Will's resolve about entering the meet. Jimmy, a fellow powerlifter whose opinion I respect greatly, 'convinced' me of the importance of competition as a tool to enhance Will's outlook and performance in the sport of powerlifting. 'Armed' with Jimmy's sound advice and an increased sense of earnestness, as the meet was only nine days away I 'convinced' Will to compete in the Tucson Powerlifting Championships.

The day of the meet brought forth sunny and robust skies. Will was surprisingly calm and composed. He weighed in at 189 lbs., warmed up and casually proceeded to blow away his first two competitive attempts in the squat of 220 and 255. A forthcoming successful lift of 280, fully 20 pounds over his personal best, would exemplify Will's tenacity and mettle on this day. He took if fully three inches below parallel and came up with relative ease. Not a bad start. 

Will, now fully psyched for his weakest lift, the bench press, opened with an easy 175, then and easy 190. However, on his third attempt, 205, he stalled out through the upper half of the lift and was redlighted. On this day, Will's triceps were not what they needed to be; he knew, accepted it, and then forgot it.

It was now time for Will to marshal all his forces for his best event, the deadlift. He blasted up 325, then 350, and then he ripped through 375 pounds with all the power of a demolition team.  Having set another personal best by 20 pounds, Will concluded his eight-for-nine day. His 850 lb. total was 50 better than he had hoped for.

Why was this day so special to Will? Was it because of the increased exposure he would receive in the Tucson powerlifting community? Hardly. Will's total doesn't even qualify him for a class IV rating. was it because of the special recognition he would receive from his fellow lifters in the U of A weight room? No, since most of Will's lifting peers, even those in the lighter divisions, performed at or above Will's total.

This day was special for Will because he had performed at a level higher than any he had ever achieved before. There was a unique irony born of this meet. Though Will's lifting peers were stronger, of the eight U of A powerlifters that competed, only Will managed to exceed his gym lifts by 40 pounds. In fact, the majority of the eight lifters performed at a level significantly beneath their gym lifts.

Many lifters talk a big story, and plan to set all kinds of personal bests at their first meet, yet end up falling short of even their workout lifts. Will's day was not like this and the following factors undoubtedly contributed to his success: an effective cycle, not overtraining, a positive mental attitude the day of the meet, a good night's rest before the meet, and a high level of intensity and concentration during his performance.

Aside from all this, how did Will feel about bettering his total by 40 pounds under the stressful conditions of the meet? He felt an enormous sense of accomplishment which he had never felt in the gym. He felt the utter sense validation successful competition seems to foster. All the self doubt, all the questions about why he was enduring constant knee and back pain, all the criticism against heavy lifting, all of it meant nothing after the meet. Call it cause and effect, means to an end, closure, or whatever you want; Will had beaten his loudest detractors and overcome his own worst fears to excel on the lifting platform.

His exaltation saw its birth in a situation where it was now or never. Many times in the gym it had been now or - well, maybe tomorrow, or the next day. For Will, there had been many unfulfilled tomorrows. After five years of battling, he had finally closed in and captured the elusive prey, a maximum contest single. It's one thing to come into the gym and perform at the same level every day. I would call this recreational lifting. For a long time, Will was this type of lifter, but for one day, March 27th, 1984, he showed himself to be a real powerlifter; one who intrepidly performs at a level heretofore never attained, under the careful scrutiny of judges, in an emotion laden atmosphere that crackles like lightning . . .

the powerlifting meet.  




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