Monday, November 28, 2016

Winter Mass Blast - Eric Broser (2016)

Part One
from this issue

For more from Eric Broser, see here: 

Part One
by Eric Broser

One of the reasons I left my native New York for Southern California was to avoid those dreaded winters. I am not a big fan of the cold, snow, ice or nasty wind that freezes your bones no matter how bundled up you are. The truth is, I hate having to bundle up at all. My extremely limited wardrobe of T-shirts, shorts, tanks, and sandals is just fine for me -- and I'd be happy never to have to don a ski cap, gloves, a scarf, or a bulky winter jacket again. These days, the only wind-chill factor I want to worry about occurs when the air-conditioning kicks on at the same moment I stick my head in the fridge to grab some food. 

When it comes to physique transformation, winter provides the perfect environment for manifesting maximum mass. With cooler temperatures comes the time to start packing away more calories, push heavier iron, and force the bathroom scale to withstand greater and greater loads. That said, there is no good reason to let yourself get overly sloppy, since muscle can be added without pushing your belly out farther than your chest. Just take an intelligent approach to your training and diet.  

FD/FS: The Muscle-Making Program

FD/FS, short for fiber-damage/fiber saturation, is one of four specialized training protocols I have developed as a trainer and a coach. I fond this program particularly useful for heightening hypertrophy during periods of calorie surplus, such as the winter or off-season. While I cannot explain the entire concept here, suffice to say it's a very intense and grueling training method. 

At the core of the program is using techniques that are best for causing muscle trauma (fiber damage), such as heavy weights for low reps, and emphasizing eccentric contractions and stretching under tension. This is followed by very high-repetition, constant tension work to display as great a muscle pump as possible. 

When a muscle is damaged, it sets in motion a cascade of physiological events that lead to a very profound anabolic response. In fact, without creating damage, there is little reason for your body to build bigger muscles. Once you have caused the necessary fiber trauma, it is vitally important to let your body repair it. By flooding the muscles with blood (fiber saturation) via high-rep training, you can bathe them with nutrients, oxygen. hormones, amino acids, antioxidants, and more. This will facilitate the recovery process before you even leave the gym. But instead of just talking about it, let's get to it!  

Workout Parameters

TEMPO refers to the speed at which one completes the various contractions within each repetition. In the layout charts it is expressed in seconds, with X meaning "as explosively as possible." The first number is seconds for the eccentric (negative) contraction; the second number is seconds at the midpoint; the third number is seconds for the concentric (positive) contraction.

For example. 2/0/X would be seen as 2 second lowering, immediate turnaround, raising as explosively as possible. You will see some tempo markings that have four digits. For example, 2/1/1/1 would signify 2 second lowering, 1 second pause at the bottom extended position, 1 second raising, and 1 second squeeze at contraction. Much easier done than imagined. Are you sitting? Try it. One arm incline curl, bodyweight. Fist at the shoulder, 2 second lower, 1 second in the stretch position at the bottom, 1 second raise, and 1 second contraction. There. 

Because of the extremely intense and grueling nature of FD/FX training, it is easy for botht the muscles and the central nervous system to become overworked, which will serve to slow down progress. After three weeks on this program, take one week to train with lighter weights (deload) in the range of 12-15 reps to allow for active recovery. 

Eating for Mass

 - Eat smaller and more frequent meals, so calories are high at the end of the day but without the bloat that occurs from overly large single feedings. 

 - Increase high-quality carbohydrates to encourage an anabolic response; however, make your largest carb-containing meals breakfast and at the post workout feeding. 

 - Limit "cheat" or "junk" meals to 1-2 times per week. If possible, have these off-plan meals post-workout, when the body is physiologically set up to push calories toward muscle dells and not fat cells. 

 - Eat a variety of high-quality proteins, carbs, and health fats to take advantage of the nutrient and amino acid profiles in each.

 - Prepare a protein shake in ice to keep by your bed when you sleep, for when you wake up.

The Part One Program


Bench Press
2 sets of 3 reps. 2/0/X

Incline Bench Press
3 x 4-6 reps. 6/1/X (Note the tempo)

Incline Dumbbell Flye
3 x 7-9. 3/4/X

Seated Chest Press Machine
2 x 26-30. 1/0/1

Cable Crossover 
2 x 26-30. 2/0/1

Barbell Curl 
3 x 4-6. 6/1/X

Incline Dumbbell Curl
3 x 7-9. 3/3/X

Machine Preacher Curl
3 x 26-30. 2/0/1

Cable Crunch
3 x 16-20. 2/0/1


3 x 3 reps. 2/0/X

Leg Press
3 x 4-6. 5/1/X

Sissy Squat (bodyweight)
3 x Max Reps. 3/4/1

Leg Extension
3 x 31-35. 1/0/1

Lying Leg Curl
3 x 4-6. 6/0/X

Stiff-Legged Deadlift
3 x 7-9. 3/3/1

Seated Leg Curl
3 x 31-35. 1/0/1

Standing Calf Raise
3 x 10-12. 2/1/1/


Partial Deadlift (knee height)
3 x 3 reps. 2/1/X

Wide Grip Pullup
3 x 4-6. 6/1/X

Close Grip Seated Cable Row
3 x 7-8. 2/4/1

Underhand Grip Barbell Row
2 x 26-30. 1/0/1

Stiff Arm Pulldown
2 6-30. 2/0/1

Close Grip Upright Row
3 x 4-6. 4/1/1/

Machine Shrug
3 x 7-9. 1/4/1

Reverse Pec Deck
2 x 21-25. 1/0/1

Leg Raise
3 x 16-20. 2/0/1


Seated Barbell Press
3 x 3 reps. 2/0/X

Seated Dumbbell Press
2 x 4-6. 5/1/X

One Arm Behind the Back Cable Lateral Raise
3 x 7-9. 2/4/1

Seated Lateral Raise
3 x 26-30. 1/0/1

Close Grip Bench Press
2 x 3 reps. 2/0/X

Lying Triceps Extension
2 x 4-6. 5/0/1

Two Arm One DB Overhead Extension
2 x 21-25. 1/0/1

2 x 31-35. 1/0/1

Seated Calf Raise
3 x 13-15. 2/1/1

Part Two
by Eric Broser

Part Two from this issue.

In Winter Mass Blast Part Two, we give you a muscle makeover with targeted bodypart troubleshooting. 

Over my  25-year span as a competitive bodybuilder and physique transformation coach, one of the questions most often presented to me has been. "Can you change the shape of a muscle?"

This is a rather complex query, and depending on which "expert" one asks, you are bound to hear a myriad of differing answers. Some will say you cannot do a darn thing abut the actual shape the muscle will eventually display. Others claim that by simply using certain "magical" exercises one can somehow rewrite the biological script each of us possesses. 

I fall somewhere in between those points of view. While I do not believe we have the ability to alter the predetermined genetic of our individual muscles, I do feel that only by utilizing certain specific (and varying) movements, angles, grips, and planes of motion can a bodybuilder manifest the full potential (and development) of each muscle. While it is important to realize that we cannot completely isolate one area of a muscle no matter what exercise we use, one can affect varying groups of motor unit pools within a muscle, leading to accelerated growth in a particular "head" or section.

Thus, the take-home message is to understand that you have more control over how your musculature develops than you may think. So before you shrug your shoulders and blame genetics for your disproportionate physique or inadequate muscle shape, make sure you have explored everything possible training-wise to address your issues. In other words, the genetic blueprint for excellence might actually be there, but you have yet to actualize the potential of each individual muscle group.

With that said, let's now discuss a few of the more common physique flaws and how you can go about remedying them in the gym with some precision iron pumping.

Shallow Upper Chest

Most young trainees toiling away in gyms around the globe unfortunately focus most of their time and effort on the basic bench press for chest. While this movement is certainly an excellent pec-builder, over-reliance on this exercise often results in bottom -heavy chest development that may actually appear saggy over time. After working with and studying the development of hundreds of bodybuilders, it seems apparent that the upper chest is more resistant to growth.

About two-thirds of chest training should focus on movements that ignite greater stimulation of clavicular-pec fibers in order to achieve a balanced look from top to bottom. While I have never seen an upper chest too dominant for the lower, I witness the opposite scenario almost daily.

Now, I am pretty sure that almost all of our readers have done their fair share of incline presses and incline flyes while hitting their pecs in the gym. However, if these tried-and-true basics are just not getting the job done, then it is time to think (or is it train?) outside the box. Here is on of my personal favorite ways to torch the upper chest:

1) 60 Degree Incline Dumbbell Press
 3 x 7-9 reps. Tempo: 4/1/1

2) Smith Machine Neck Press
3 x 10-12. 3/1/1
Grab a flat bench and position it within a Smith machine. Line up your body so that the bar is directly over your clavicle bones. Your grip will be just outside shoulder width, and your upper arms should be completely perpendicular to your torso, so that your elbows will be flared out wide. Lower the bar slowly, under full control, until you feel a deep stretch along the entire upper chest. Depending on your shoulder flexibility, you may not be able to lower the bar all the way down, and might need to stop an inch or two short of your clavicles. Once you feel the stretch, hold it for a count of one, then push the bar back to the top using pure pec power.

Note: Studies have shown the Reverse Grip Bench Press to be superior to Incline Presses for stimulating clavicular-pec fibers.   

3) Dumbbell Pullover
3 x 13-15. 3/1/1/

4) Low Cable Crossover
3 x 16-20. 2/1/1/1 (1 second pause and hold at extension and contraction).

Biceps Peak

When five-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath strikes a front double biceps pose, it is not just their gargantuan size that overwhelms the senses, but also how they literally rise into mountainous knots of gnarly, carved, and impossibly peaked muscle! And while I am sure Phil uses a wide variety of exercises to work his biceps, the mind-boggling shape they display has more to do with genetic predisposition than anything else.

However, even if you have not been gifted like Heath, there is a way that everyone can improve upon his or her biceps peak. The key lies in bringing about greater development in a little talked about muscle that lies underneath the biceps called the brachialis. In a highly developed bodybuilder, the brachialis appears as a thick knot of muscle that pops out of the side of the upper arms when they are flexed and viewed from the rear. The cool thing about the brachialis is that as it grows larger, it will actually push the biceps up higher, which will lend the appearance of a greater peak.

The problem with effectively stimulating the brachialis is that with most standard curling movements, the biceps acts as the main flexor of the upper arm. Yes, the brachialis does get a little work, but it is mainly just along for the ride. Thus, what you need to do is choose specific curling exercises that put the biceps in a mechanically weak position, so that the brachialis can take over the fight. The more work you can force the brachialis to to take on, the more it will be forced to adapt and grow.

Here is a great one from my arsenal of brachialis bombers:

1) Spider Curl
2 x 7-9 reps. 4/1/1

2) Overhead Cable Curl
2 x 10-12. 3/1/1/2 (2 second contracted hold)
Begin by placing a flat bench in front of a weight stack on one side of a cable crossover machine. Make sure that the bench is at least a foot or so away from the stack, as the goal is to make your arms appear more like mountains, not to put a mountain-sized bump on your head!

Attach a short straight bar to the upper pulley, lie down, and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Have someone hand you the bar, as trying to grab it yourself is a bit awkward (but it can be done). Start with your arms perfectly straight and then begin curling the bar both down and back, so that at the full contraction point the bar is actually behind your head. As you curl, you will need to draw your elbows back slightly and tip your forehead forward just a bit in order to achieve this exaggerated range of motion. At the bottom, hold the squeeze for a count.

Some other fantastic biceps-peaking movements include reverse curls, hammer curls, and 90-degree preacher curls (spider curls). 

3) Seated Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl
2 x 13-15. 3/0/1/1

4) Low Cable Reverse Curl
2 x 16-20. 2/0/1/1.

Missing Mid-Back

Many serious lifters walk around with wide and thick upper back development. However, what truly sets apart the good from the excellent is outstanding back detail. A good example of this is Flex Lewis, winner of several titles. Not only do his lats spread like wings on a jet plane, with crazy mass from top to bottom, and left to right, but he also displays separation in the middle back that literally looks three-dimensional.

To really target the muscles of the mid-back, i.e., the middle/lower traps and rhomboids, one must make sure to choose the correct exercises for the job. While all lat-building exercises will stimulate the mid-back to some degree, the most effective are those in which a wide grip is taken on the bar. This includes wide grip pulldowns, pullups, barbell rows, and seated cable rows. However, if you have been consistently utilizing these types of movements and find that your mid-back is still lagging, I urge you to try out this little gym gem:

1) Wide Grip Bentover Barbell Row
3 x 7-9 reps. 3/0/1

2) Standing High Cable Rope Face-Pull
3 x 10-12. 2/1/1/2

3) Smith Machine Upright Row/Shrug (behind the back)
3 x 13-15. 2/1/1/1
Stand in front of a loaded barbell and take a shoulder width grip on the bar behind you. Lift the weight upward by performing a half-shrug, half-upright row, with the goal of getting the bar to about the height of your lower back. To get the bar into this position, you might have to lean forward just a bit and slightly arch your back as you lift the weight, which will help you to clear your rear end. Keep your lower back muscles tight to avoid injury, and make sure to get a good squeeze at the top. This exercise can be performed on a Smith machine as well, which I personally find superior to the free bar for this exercise.

4) Bentover Dumbbell Lateral (palms facing rear)
3 x 16-20. 2/0/1/1

Another unique exercise you may want to add from time to time for this purpose is the mid-back incline dumbbell shrug.

Part Three
by Eric Broser

Part Three from this issue.

Part One of this series provided Flex readers with one of my more effective hypertrophy-stimulating protocols known as Fiber-Damage/Fiber-Saturation (FD/FS), so that everyone could kick-start the winter by adding a new layer of muscle. Part Two discussed how to target some common weak points with unique exercises that can help fill in the holes, allowing you to create a more proportionate and symmetrical physique -- to be revealed when temperatures again begin to rise. 

This third and final installment will introduce a training system I developed early in 2016, known as FTX2, which stimulates gains in muscle via different pathways, as I believe in tapping into every possible mechanism w have for igniting hypertrophy. In addition, I will talk a bit about more about how cardio, diet, and supplements can be utilized to maximize growth while keeping the body fat levels at an acceptable level.

With that having been said, I'll cut to the chase and provide you with the main points behind the program and why it is so effective at building new lean tissue. 

 - While hypertrophy does occur in slow-twitch muscle fibers, the bulk of muscle mass will come via building the fast-twitch fibers, which is what FTX2 focuses on. 

 - The first exercise will generally be an isolation-type movement and will be performed at a relatively rapid tempo for 21 to 25 repetitions. The purpose is to exhaust the slow-twitch fibers first, which forces greater fast-twitch activation for the remainder of the workout. 

 - The second movement for each bodypart routine will generally be compound in nature, with free weights usually being the best choice. The rep range will be around 3 to 5 and will done while using a rather slow eccentric contraction (lowering), a one-second pause at the midpoint of the rep, and a positive contraction that's as explosive as possible. The goal here is to fire off the highest threshold muscle fibers, as well as heighten CNS activation, which will continue to increase your ability to stimulate even more fast-twitch fibers. 

 - The final two exercises can be isolation or compound and should be a mix of free weights and cables or machines. I encourage you to switch up your angles of push or pull, width of grips or foot stances, and choices of equipment. We will be looking to keep the muscle under tension for at least 40 seconds, which will be done via a rep range of 10 to 12, with each rep taking 4 to 5 seconds to complete. Several studies have shown that 40 to 60 seconds of tension is the sweet spot for stimulating hypertrophy.  

Sample FTX2 Workout

Monday - Chest/Biceps/Abs

1) Cable Crossover.
3 x 21-25 reps. 2/0/1

2) Flat Dumbbell Press.
3 x 3-5. 5/1/X

3) Incline Barbell Press.
2-3 x 10-12. 3/0/1

4) Incline Dumbbell Flye.
2-3 x 10-12. 2/2/1

5) Low-Cable Rope Hammer Curl.
2 x 21-25. 2/0/1

6) Barbell Curl.
2 x 3-5. 5/1/X

7) Dumbbell Curl.
2 x 10-12. 2/1/1

8) Concentration Curl.
2 x 10-12. 2/1/1

9) Hanging Bent-Knee Raise.
2 x 21-25 or max reps. 2/0/1

10) Cable Crunch.
2 x 10-12. 3/0/1

Tuesday - Quads/Hams/Calves

1) Leg Extension.
3 x 26-30. 2/0/1

2) Hack Squat.
3 x 3-5. 4/1/X

3) Leg Press.
2-3 x 13-15. 3/1/1

4) Smith Machine Split Squat.
2-3 x 13-15 each leg. 2/1/1

5) Seated Leg Curl.
3 x 26-30. 2/0/1

6) Lying Leg Curl.
3 x 3-5. 5/1/X

7) Stiff-Legged Deadlift.
2-3 x 13-15. 3/1/1

8) Seated Calf Raise.
2 x 26-30. 1/0/1

9) Calf Press.
2-3 x 6-8. 3/1/1

Thursday - Lats/Traps/Rear Delts/Abs

1) Dumbbell Pullover or Pullover Machine.
3 x 26-30. 2/0/1

2) Wide Grip Chin.
3 x 3-5. 4/1/X

3) T-Bar Row.
2-3 x 10-12. 3/0/1

4) Underhand-Grip Low Cable Row.
2-3 x 10-12. 2/1/1

5) Shrug.
3 x 21-25. 2/0/1

6) Upright Row.
2-3 x 3-5. 3/1/X

7) Bentover Lateral Raise.
3 x 10-12. 2/1/1

8) Lying Straight-Leg Raise.
2 x 21-25. 2/0/1

9) Seated Weighted Crunch Machine.
2 x 13-15. 3/0/1

Friday - Front and Lateral Delts/Tris/Calves

1) Side Lateral Raise.
3 x 21-25. 2/0/1

2) Seated Overhead Press.
2 x 3-5. 4/1/X

3) Front Raise.
2 x 10-12. 2/1/1

4) One-Arm Cable Lateral.
3 x 10-12. 3/0/1

5) Reverse-Grip Pushdown.
2 x 21-25. 2/0/1

6) Dip.
2 x 3-5. 4/0/X

7) Incline Overhead Extension.
2 x 10-12. 3/0/1

8) Dumbbell Kickback.
2 x 10-12. 2/1/1

9) Seated Calf Raise.
2 x 26-30. 1/0/1

10) Standing Calf Raise.
2-3 x 10-12. 2/1/1

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Power Training - Jerry Scalesse (1989)

Here's a later Muscular Development article. I found it 'by accident' while looking around for some of the MD issues from around that slightly earlier time frame. It's part of a Three Part series titled "Phase Training" that dealt with three phases of training for bodybuilding competition -

Power Training, using basic exercises, heavy weights and lower reps.
Interphase Training, continuing with the big movements and adding refining techniques.
Contest Training, more intensity techniques added, higher reps, more use of isolation exercises.

I liked this three-day-per-week, heavily hyphenated layout.

by Jerry Scalesse (1989) 

Most people think about three exercises when you mention Power Training: bench press, squat, and deadlift. What I mean here is really Power/Bodybuilding - for building size, thickness and mass. Any bodybuilder, new or veteran, can grow from it. Prior to winning my class in the 1987 NABBA Mr. Universe, I did this routine for three months, training only three days a week with great success.  

My style of power training requires doing 8 to 4 reps, sometimes more, with as heavy a weight as possible once you are adequately warmed up, pyramiding up with the weight until you can get just 4 reps on the last set. Since you are expending lots of energy in each set and building lactic acid, you must take adequate rest time between sets to recuperate.

I realize that you may have been told to rest no longer than 45-60 seconds between sets, but I'm now telling you that you have to rest 3 to 5 minutes between sets in this routine. If you don't your efficiency and gains will not be maximal. What do you do during this time? Squeeze, tense, and pose the muscle a few times! 

Too many overwork. Training 6-days-a-week all year round is not the most efficient way to grow.

Give this style of power training a good three month try. 



1) Bench Press - 

5 sets, no less than 4 and no more than 8 reps. As in this and most of the following exercises, you have to experiment to find a weight you can handle. Select the weight that enables you to just get the minimum number of reps as designated on the last set. Use a weight that allows you to get no more than 8 reps on the first set and no less than 4 on the last. For example, you might get the maximum 8 reps on the first set, but by the last set getting 4 reps will be tough. As your strength goes up over time, gradually increase the top set poundage. Keep your back flat and don't arch. This is power bodybuilding and not powerlifting. Use a slightly wider than shoulder width grip. Do two warmup sets of 20 reps to get the blood going and the shoulders and elbows warmed up. Now go right into the heavy lifting. After the 2 x 20 light sets you will have 3 work sets of between 8 and 4 reps.

Lower the weight slowly down to the chest just above the nipples, and raise it up again in a slow, controlled, rhythmic manner, locking out at the top on each rep. Don't just pump out the reps and don't rest the bar at your chest. You might say that benching this low - and not to the neck - does not get the entire chest area, but don't worry, we'll be doing inclines next. The biggest problem with benching to the neck in this type of power training is that you can't use heavy weights . . . not for long before there's a problem. 

2) Incline Press -

3 sets, 8 to 4 reps. Take a slightly wider than shoulder width grip. Head up. For the beginning set you might want to get 10-12 reps but the last set should be 4 reps. You could do all three sets heavy, between 8 and 4 reps, since you're already good to go from the bench presses. One idea is to judge your energy and strength levels for the day with the bench, and decide from that.

Raise the bar overhead and lower it to the neck. At this point, your elbows should be out to the sides. Raise up and lower rhythmically. You might want to lock out only after every second rep.


1) Close Grip Bench Press -

4 sets, 10 to 6 reps. Warm up with a set or two of light pushdowns. Then, lying on the bench, then, take an overgrip on the bar with your hands about 6" apart. Keeping the elbows in to your side as close as possible, lower the weight and then press it upward, making sure to lock out every rep fully at the top and squeeze hard. I consider this the best mass-building exercise for triceps and you'll also find that it helps strengthen your bench press.

2) Bench Dips -

3 sets, 6 to 8 reps. Set two benches so they are parallel. Place your feet on one, an with your hands in back of you, fairly close in (a little less than shoulder width), palms on the other bench from behind. To begin, try this unweighted, then with a 45-lb plate resting on your thighs. As your strength increases, you can add plates. Keep the weight constant for each set. You will need someone to put the plates on your thighs [or just pick a substitute movement].

Lower Back:

Hyperextensions -

3 sets, 20 reps. Try this unweighted first. Go up as far as you can comfortably, hold at the top, and come down as slooooooowly as you can. As your lower back strengthens, you can do these weighted by holding a plate on your chest or a barbell behind your neck. This works the lower back muscles and helps with any mild stiffness or soreness heavy squats and deadlifts might bring on.



Warm up for 15 minutes by stretching and hanging from a chinning bar.

1) Regular Deadlifts (off the floor/or on alternate weeks Regular Deadlifts in the Power Rack).
4 sets, 8 to 4 reps.

Off the Floor: In order to handle heavy weights so I don't burn out my forearms early in the workout, I like to use wrist straps. With my feet about 6" apart [close stance], knees bent, using an overhand grip [straps], I bend over with my back flat/slightly arched. As I come up I lock my legs, straighten my back fully and pull back my shoulders. I squeeze the back for a second and then lower the weight to the start position in a rhythmic manner. These are slightly different than a pure powerlifting regular deadlift in which the only goal is to lift your highest poundage.

In the Rack: Standing inside the power rack, position the pins so the bar is just below the chin. Now, raising first the right leg so that the foot is at a height equal to the forehead . . . Standing inside the power rack, position the pins so the bar is just below the knees. Feet are a little less than shoulder-width apart. The movement is the same as from the floor. The advantage of using a higher start position in the rack is that it puts you past the sticking point, that of having to get the bar started off the floor.

I consider deadlifts (regular style) to be the best mass building exercise for the back. You might want to wear a belt for this movement, but I only use it on the last heavy set(s).

2) Low Cable Rows, 6 sets, 8 to 4 reps. Use straps to grasp the handle (I prefer to use a V-handle). Stretch as far forward as you can and with your shoulders and back, pull the bar to your stomach. In this position your back should be upright and you should not be leaning backwards.

Squeeze the back for a second, and slowly release, stretching as far forward as you can without losing the tension. (I might do a few partial movements on the last heavy rep, but try to keep the movement as strict as possible.)

3) Pulldowns, 3 sets, 8 to 4 reps. With hands positioned a little past shoulder width, using wrist straps, grasp a straight bar and pull down as low to the back of the neck as you can go. Hold, squeeze for a second, and let the bar up slowly. Don't cheat on this movement! At time you might want to alternate reps - one to the back and one to the front - for a different feel, but I think pulling to the back of the neck is more effective. When the weight gets very heavy, I might have someone help me pull down on the last rep.


1) Shrugs, 4 sets, 8 to 4 reps. Here, wrist straps are a must. Using an overhand grip, I lift the bar upwards from a squat rack and, using my traps, shrug straight upwards. I do not roll my shoulders backwards nor forwards. I raise my traps as high as they will go, squeeze at the top, and let the bar down.

2) Behind Neck Press, 4 sets, 8 to 4 reps. By this time your shoulders are warmed up from the deadlifts and cable rows. Taking a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, lower the bar as far as possible behind the neck, the raise it to the lockout position, squeezing at the top. Repeat in rhythm until the reps are completed.


1) Standing Calf Raise, 3 sets, 10 to 6 reps. Wednesday is heavy calf day. Keep your toes pointing forward in a normal stance, knees locked slightly back. Raise up, hold for a second, then come down to a full tendon stretch. Repeat. You can try varying the toe position - toes pointing in, toes pointing out, toes pointing forward - each set.

Seated Calf Raise, 3 sets, 8 to 6 reps. Keeping the toes pointed forward, raise up to flex the calf muscles, hold for a two-count, then lower the weight, stretching the heel down as far as possible. This works the soleus muscle, while the standing gets the thicker gastrocnemius. 


Saturday is a "main" day - leg day. Having had two days of rest, you should be ready. Warm up doing a lot of stretching movements - not only your legs but your back also. Hang from a chinning bar for several minutes, twist from side to side, stretch your hamstrings, do splits, put your head between your knees, if you can. Do anything to stretch your back and hamstrings. 


Back Squat, 6 sets, 8 to 4 reps. I will do a warmup set of 15 reps which I don't count. With foot position a little less than shoulder-width, I go down as deep as possible trying to get my butt as low as I can while keeping my back flat. I don't pause at the bottom but come right up, lock out, and go right down again. When you are going heavy, you have to concentrate on every rep.

I do not use a board under my heels nor wrap my knees. Sometimes I will do sets of 4's keeping the weight constant. Back squats are probably the best exercise for building overall quad thickness. Make sure you take the full 5 minutes rest between sets. 

Partial Stiff Legged Deadlifts, 4 sets, 8 to 6 reps. This helps to stretch and thicken the hamstrings. Standing on a 6" block, feet together and knees slightly hyperextended backwards, raise the bar just past the knees and let it down slowly. Use wrist straps for the heavy sets.

Leg Curl, 3 sets, 12 to 10 reps. I prefer to use an angled leg curl machine, of if the bench is flat I raise my back up, grasping the sides using my arms. When the weight gets too heavy, I will lie flat on the bench for the last few reps.  

Raise the weight all the way up, squeeze the hamstrings, and let the weight down slowly to near lockout position, so the muscle is still under tension. You might need the occasional assist at the top from your partner. 

All too often I see lifters just banging out the reps. Don't. Let your muscles work and feel the weight. 


Barbell Curl, 3 sets, 8 to 6 reps. Using a straight bar, with your elbows close to your sides but extending slightly forward, curl the bar upwards so it reaches under your chin. Squeeze your biceps at the top, and let down slowly. Raise up faster than you lower. The last few reps can be "cheated" by throwing the bar up but letting it down slowly.

Alternate Dumbbell Curl, 3 sets, 8 to 6 reps. 

Curl each dumbbell alternately by positioning your elbow slightly in front of your body. As you approach the top (full biceps flex position), turn your thumb out. Squeeze the muscle and let down slowly.


Donkey Calf Raise, 3 sets, 20 to 10 reps. Saturday is your lighter calf day, with more reps and less weight. If you have access to a donkey calf machine, use it. Otherwise, get a partner to sit on your pelvis as you pump out the bent over reps. If this is not possible, use the standing calf machine and pump out the reps.

Toe Press, 3 sets, 20 to 10 reps. Using the leg press machine, do the presses on leg at a time until the calves burn. 

This concludes the Phase One Program. 

What about ab exercises? Most of the bending and heavy movements work your abs indirectly. Specific ab exercises will not be used until Phase Two.





Thursday, November 24, 2016

How Planned Should Your Workouts Be - Bradley Steiner (1987)

Note: Here's another article from that issue of Muscular Development mentioned in the last post. Jan Dellinger was still at the helm at this point, but in a few short years there would be quite a change in the magazine's mission statement. Actually, there was quite a change that happened around then in all the mags. Enjoy!

How Planned Should Your Workouts Be?
by Bradley J. Steiner (1987)

While I have long been an advocate of carefully planned and balanced total-body workouts, there re those who contend that they can train 'instinctively' with good results. If it works for you, don't argue with success. However, most trainees benefit more in the long run from some semblance of structure.

According to my philosophy of training, planning your routine in advance is just good common sense -- assuring that one's workouts have balance, that the right exercises are done in a manner consistent with one's goals and to offer a sense of structure and guidance when one goes to the gym. For example, when one doesn't feel like doing squats -- but they are literally written in to your program, it becomes much more difficult to avoid them.

However, some caution is necessary, as planning a program can be taken to self-defeating extremes. At least this can be the case with trainees who have laid a foundation in their training and who have also progressed to the intermediate to advanced stage of development. [Worth noting here is that Mr. Steiner defines Intermediate and Advanced level trainees by their stage of development, not by the length of time they've been training.]

Allow me to explain. A complete beginner needs to plan his workouts carefully in order to avoid too much (or too little) training, as well as to ensure that balanced development be acquired. Actually, a beginner's course can be mapped out almost to the exact rep and half-pound weight increment per week. However, past that point a trainee needs to alter the way in which he structures his routine or he will not be able to develop and progress fully. A routine which becomes overly rigid or unrealistic will prove to be an unpleasant grind from time to time.

Once an individual has worked out regularly and long enough to have reached his "normal" level of development -- which is quite a bit different than one's "maximum" level of development -- the structure of his routine is somewhat different than when he was in the beginning stages. Now, experimentation comes into play. More specifically, there's a certain leeway that's permissible in altering one's scheduled set/rep/poundage schemes based upon daily fluctuations in drive, energy, strength, etc. -- as well as to accommodate the body's readiness to progress.

Frankly, there's a definite need for an absence of rigidity in the intermediate or advanced individual's program. However, it must be approached correctly. Obviously, the initial step in determining one's training structure is to decide what days will be set aside for working out. Be advised, though, that only in odd or extreme situations should workouts be done randomly. But there are no hard and fast rules concerning the scheduled time of each session. Morning, afternoon and evening workouts are equally effective. The only thing that should guide you is personal convenience and inclination.

Step two in a reasonable training plan is the series of exercises that one intends to follow. For most training purposes these ought to consist of the basic movements, such as squat, press, curl, row, deadlift, calf raise, abdominal work, etc. Don't load down a program with tons of extra work. Extra exercises only take up time that is better spent on the basics. Only the set/rep schemes vary, as of course, do the poundages. Athletes training for enhancement of a particular ability in a certain sport usually are advised to train on much shorter programs than bodybuilders.

When you set up your program be sure to keep it realistic. If you work full time or have a full class load in school, have a family and enjoy a generally normal existence, it just isn't feasible to train for two hours daily, six days a week -- regardless of how many "top men" may be doing this. You are concerned with your life, your schedule, your capabilities -- not with the routine reported as being Mr. America's.

If you follow an all-round bodybuilding program (and that is the best type to follow), then a routine of between five and 10 exercises is plenty. Don't laugh. I am very serious. [Again, if the routine seems too easy you're not working it hard enough]. Most men do too much, and there is no extra gain for the added time and energy they spend. A good workout should consist of enough exercise, not too much.

Stick with the basics, and if you employ a variation movement, be sure that it is a workable variation of a worthwhile movement -- i.e., use the seated dumbbell curl as a variation of the regular barbell curl and so forth. In other words, don't drop barbell curls for one-arm peak contraction dumbbell curls. Those lesser movements are strictly for polishing up an advanced physique prior to a contest.

When you've selected your training days and decided upon a routine, the next step is to arrange a workable set/rep scheme that will permit you to strive for the goals you have. If you are after power, primarily, then you want a plan that allows you to use heavy weights, and to frequently push to your limits. On he other hand, if you are a basic fitness buff you only need to use weights that thoroughly work -- without excessively taxing -- your entire muscular system. If you're after general bodybuilding, then you need a set/rep that allows for all-round development, balancing between power, shape and size.

Step four is the training itself. And here is where basic good sense must apply. I want every reader to make note, and take special care to understand this:

Regardless of the routine you're following, you must simply let a certain degree of "on the spot" flexibility and variation from the ideal structure take place. Thus, if you are on a strength and power type of program such as:

Power Clean 5 x 5
Squat 5 x 5
Bench Press 5 x 5
One-Arm Row 4 x 8
Press Behind Neck 5 x 5

you might find on any given training day that 5 sets of 4 reps suits you better on the Power Cleans . . . and similar minor alterations do you well in the other exercises. If so, that's just fine. Let your inclination for that day be your guide. Remember, the rep should not be the determining factor in how hard you work an exercise.

Or, let's suppose it's winter. Your body's a bit cold and stiff, and so you employ a couple of higher-rep warmup sets in your squats (or other exercises) before doing three final heavy sets. On paper this might look a lot like a pyramid layout. Such variations will never detract from the long range gains you can expect to make, or from the discipline and effectiveness of your workouts. [It's worth noting that your body can't read what's written in your training log. It doesn't use abstract symbols to describe itself or its actions. It can only do or not do.]

By allowing your daily inclinations and and preparedness to train guide you in tailoring a workout to suit your needs and readiness on any given training day, you will enjoy your workouts better and gain a lot more from them.

The point is that, at the advanced level, there is nothing to be gained by browbeating your body into a routine that it might not be prepared to follow on any given training day.

When working out for all-around development the goal should not be the execution of so-many-reps for so-many-set and so-much-weight, per se. The goal ought to be for a good, thorough, sanely done and adequately felt workout. The entire physique, of course, must be trained.

Time is another variable. Training too closely by the clock is counterproductive. A workout should normally be done well with a two-hour period. In fact, about an hour of steadily paced hard work is frequently quite enough. Always be aware of the need not to overwork! The best you'll achieve with overworking is a self-defeated psychological state of disgust and staleness . . . accompanied by zero progress.

Regardless of the general workout plan you have (e.g., 4-6 sets of 4-6 reps for power, 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps for general gains, etc.) never force yourself to follow the plan rigidly. If on any given training day you are charged with super-enthusiasm, high energy and plenty of drive and strength, then go ahead and add a little more weight (even if it's ahead of schedule), or do another set. Conversely, if you're having a "blah" day (and we all do sometimes), back off. Cut a rep or two from each set, take some weight off, rest a minute or two longer between exercises, etc.

Although man does not seem to be born with any "instincts" in the strict scientific meaning of the term, he certainly possesses a natural inclination to know what's a good approach based upon what his subconscious mind feeds to him in the way of guidance. Tennis players, painters, writers, etc. know this, as do soldiers and craftsmen of many types. Advanced bodybuilders and lifters should know it too.

The ancient philosophy of Taoism teaches: "Eat when hungry, sleep when tired, drink when thirsty" as a simple way of harmonizing oneself with natural law. It makes an awful lot of sense when applied to many things.

Should you plan your workouts? Yes. The important thing is do not plan them rigidly. And do not train as though you were a machine or a programmed robot. Benefit from the discipline and balance of sound structure, but do not be a slave to it. That's advanced, effective training.

Let it work for you!              

Monday, November 21, 2016

From Avocation to Vocation - Jan Dellinger (2016)

George Eiferman, Dave Prowse, Dave Webster
with the Dinnie Stones
Click Pics to ENLARGE

Alvin Roy, Ricardo Montalban. John Terpak

Alyce Yarick, John Davis
Photo originals courtesy of Jan Dellinger's Collection.

From Avocation to Vocation
by Jan Dellinger (November 2016)

As he was embarking on a campaign of York magazine nostalgia, Dale Credico, the operator of this fine Tight Tan Slacks of Deszo Ban blog, inquired as to how I came to work for York Barbell and their publications. Here is the short version of this narrative. 

Except for when I went to college, I have spent my life living, working and playing around the York, Pennsylvania area. However, the York Barbell Company was not my initial influence for getting into barbells; that distinction belongs to famed pro wrestler Bruno Sammartino, who I watched/idolized from junior high school age and beyond. It was an ad for his bodybuilding course in the back of a wrestling magazine which led me to any thoughts of weight training.

Around my freshman year of high school I stumbled on to the York magazines and began reading them earnestly. Naturally, I attended a number of the Olympic lifting and powerlifting contests they staged in our area, and very occasionally went to the gym on Ridge avenue to watch lifters train, or purchase a few more plates. Of course, actually working there was a dream beyond comprehension to a high school kid. 

Fast forward several years, I had been to college to pursue communications and was working at the local Stauffer Biscuit cookie manufacturer but would slip down to the snack bar of The Barbell every other Wednesday on my lunch break for a Hi-Proteen shake at their snack bar.   

Why the every other Wednesday routine? Like a lot of things at York Barbell, the snack bar had its own uniqueness. I doubt there are very many snack bars which close during the lunch hour, but York's did. The lady who worked the bar (Nora Spangler) lived directly across Ridge Avenue and would go home to consume her lunch daily from noon to 12:30. So, the snack bar was closed during my lunch hour with the exception of every other Wednesday.

On those special days, and for some reason I never quite figured out, one of Bob's former "liaisons" would man the snack bar all day, and she did not close down during lunch. Suffice it to say that I came to learn that York Barbell had quite a few unique dimensions about it. 

Pardon me if this sounds indelicate, but it is truthful and does add to the tale. This former Hoffman "squeeze" had a nickname among some of the original York Gang -- Radar Nose! One day I trekked to the snack bar, she was behind the counter conducting a talent search for journalists. When Gord Venables passed away, the normal three-person magazine staff at York was down a man and scuffling to keep up with the monthly deadlines. A temporary fix was found when Mark Cameron the Olympic lifter wanted to train at York for most of the year prior to the 1976 Olympic Games. So, for parts of 1975 and '76, he helped out on the magazines, giving him a paycheck and focused time on his training. 

Of course, when Mark left for the Games and then back to college thereafter, York was playing short-handed again. Hence, Radar Nose decided to take it upon herself to play unofficial personnel director. 

Nose was telling me all of this side story and I responded that there were tons of guys out there who had some journalistic training, casually remarking that I was one of them. To which she replied, "You do! I'll tell Grimek!"

Figuring nothing would come of her remark, I went back to work at the cookie factory. Remarkably, though, as I walked through the front door of York Barbell two Wednesdays later, she spotted me and announced, "Grimek is looking for you!"

One thing led to another, and a couple days later I talked to JCG on the phone. He invited me to the office for a face-to-face meeting, which was the epitome of a quick interview. Basically, he asked me where I went to school; I told him, whereupon he handed me a ream of typing paper (literally) and a stack of original Bob Hoffman manuscripts and said to me, "Go home and see if you can make something of this stuff. Call me when you get done. Then come back and I'll look it over."

Allow me to say this about the original Hoffman manuscript: It was, among other things, the epitome of redundant. Also, he essentially stopped writing anything new, even for S&H and that would be the roundup from major national and international lifting events, much past 1960. And those were heavily edited.

Having read Bob's published editorials and articles from the 1930s when he was younger and on fire for lifting, and seen his original manuscripts from even back in those days, there was a lot of re-write going on. I suspect that Gord Venables did it initially, but the job of BoHo ghost writer seemingly fell to the associate editor of S&H, which would have included over time Jim Murray, Bob Hasse, Bob Karpinski, probably Mark Cameron and, finally, myself.

Back to my early interactions with Grimek, he read my first BoHo re-write, said I was okay as far as he was concerned, and, "Now you have to talk to Terpak" who was the company's general manager. So, that interview was scheduled.

My face-to-face with him was going as you might anticipate with his explaining what the expectations for the job were and those kinds of things when the interview took what I considered a curious turn: After telling me that I would be sharing an office with Grimek, Terpak sort of conspicuously panned his eyes around his office as if searching for the right thing to say!

Somewhat abruptly he asked me, "How well do you know Grimek?" I responded that I certainly had read of his achievements and was aware that he was an admired Iron Game figure. Searching again for the proper phraseology without leaving the wrong impression, Terpak whiffed on that mission when he finally came up with, "Well, just keep in mind that Grimek's bark is a lot worse than his bite."

Okay, I wasn't quite sure what to think. Was Terpak telling me that my next boss was a tyrant, a maniac, an ego freak or otherwise off-the-wall?

As I came to learn firsthand, Grimek was none of the above. In fact, Grimek extended some very kindly gestures to the "new guy" in his office. And over time as we bonded a little more -- bear in mind that when I began sharing an office with him, I was a 25-year-old nobody and he was the 66-year-old Living Legend of Bodybuilding -- as you might imagine, he afforded me a historical treasure chest of his experiences, insights, anecdotes and personal observations. It was, needless to say, a priceless education.

By the way, don't think too unkindly of Terpak, or that he and Grimek did not get along. They did. My impression in retrospect was that Terpak wasn't sure how I would take to Grimek, considering our age difference and the fact that he felt that by his standards Grimek could come off as a little "rough around the edges."

There you have it! That is how I got my foot in the door at York Barbell Company and John Grimek's office.

Having said the aforementioned, I would like to add this addendum: After leaving York Barbell and moving on to the staff of a local high school, I was asked by a co-worker who was aware of the one-time prominence of "The Strongest Name in Fitness" if I was there for the glory days or the decline. Chronologically, I would technically have to say it was the latter. However, as I reflect on all of the extraordinary experiences and people to which this Iron Bug was exposed because he worked there, I have great difficulty associating the word "decline" with the stellar memories I possess.

Think about it! Thanks to Terpak I was introduced to great names from Olympic lifting like John Davis and Chuck Vinci among others; also thanks to Terpak I got to experience the behind-the-scenes inner workings of network TV covering an Olympic Trials, the World's Strongest Man contests and a World Weightlifting Championships.

Thanks to John Grimek I got to meet numerous names of note from the muscle magazines of a couple of different generations. But my strongest memory of Grimek, aside from watching him work out at an advanced age, revolves around the endless supply of astonishing anecdotal reminiscences of Iron Game people, places and events he dispensed daily.

Thanks to Terpak and Ken Patera, I got a firsthand lesson in how professional wrestling can be staged and choreographed . . . along with post match access to a WWF locker room in the late 1970s. And speaking of wrestling, because I was the editor of "Muscular Development" I got invited to a grand opening of The Gym (name of the establishment) in Minneapolis which was owned by the renowned Road Warriors.

And in summation, because I was given the chance to represent the York Barbell Company at major national trade shows, commercial equipment shows, football clinics and strength & conditioning shows, I was positioned to occasionally hob nob with well known athletes from mainstream sports.

And then there were other kinds of participatory experiences such as judging physique contests for Dave Mayor, who was another out-of-this world raconteur. Or actually being majorly involved in staging a national physique contest (1982, AAU Jr Mr. America), as well as a much bigger than expected powerlifting contest in the actual York Gym. That generally enumerates my personal highlight reel.

Whether you believe in Divine Province of Dame Fortune, I can attest that one can live out a seemingly rich fantasy life if he is standing in the right place at the right time.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Upper Back for Show & Go - Ken Leistner (1987)

Taken From This Issue (Nov. 1987)

Note: At the time of this issue's publication Jan Dellinger was now Editor in Chief and John Terpak was listed as Publisher. Dr. Ken Leistner was a frequent contributor to the magazine, along with several other notables in the field of strength, bodybuilding and athletic training. 

Upper Back for Show & Go
by Ken Leistner (1987)

A well-balanced physique must be just that . . . balanced! Nothing looks as odd as a man (or woman) with well-developed pectorals, deltoids, arms and abdominals contrasted by a flat and underdeveloped back. Unfortunately, even dedicated bodybuilders often give only cursory notice to the upper and lower back musculature -- forgetting that the real foundation of one's physique is the back, hips and thighs. And for those more interested in the Powerlifts, or other general feats of strength, the upper and lower back musculature must be developed in proportion to the other upper body muscles in order to give supportive ability to any weight that is supported at the waist or overhead.

The athlete -- the football player, in particular -- must concentrate on developing the neck and upper back areas for protection from injury. Anyone who walks on a football field must accept the possibility of injury. Unfortunately, injuries involving the neck region can produce a lifetime of incapacitation. For this reason, many of the intelligent strength coaches and athletes make neck training a priority.

However, they often forget to include equivalent work for the upper back. Actually, the musculatures of the upper back and shoulders are the areas which transmit much of the force after contact is made with the head. Unbelievably, though, football coaches -- and frequently coaches of other types of contact sports -- understand the need for hip, thigh and lower back work, but relegate the upper back and shoulder work to afterthought status -- or upon completion of the almighty bench press. The fact still remains, though, that concentration on these vital areas will not only add impressive muscle to the upper body, but also contribute to one's deadlifting ability and overall strength increases.

Delts for Show

It's easy to accept the fact that many athletes and physique men put less energy into upper back training, but deltoids . . . the bodypart that sets off the upper body? Most physique people strive to be as 'wide' as possible, forgetting -- or not wanting to accept the fact -- that torso width is very much determined by the length of the clavicles (collarbones). Hence, those blessed with proportionately long clavicles attain shoulder width more easily. So the only recourse for those with short clavicles is increasing the volume of the deltoids, which, in turn, increases the width of the shoulder musculature.

Typically, the majority of physique men and women pursue a course of lateral deltoid development, which contributes to shoulder width, but downplays the role of shoulder thickness and overall strength. In order to have maximum visual effectiveness -- and, of course, maximal strength expression -- all three parts of the deltoids should be developed. Be advised that those who spend an inordinate time on the bench press will have a disproportionate amount of anterior (front( delt development, and will find that it takes a real effort to similarly develop the posterior portion, which contributes to the appearance and function of the entire upper back.

Scapulae Retractors

These are the muscles that draw the scapula (shoulder blades) together, a movement of extreme importance to competitive deadlifters. The scapulae must be stabilized during the entire lift, being drawn together during the lockout phase if one is to maintain the proper relationship between the hips and shoulders -- as well as lock the upper extremities into an efficient pulling position, hold the bar as close to the body as possible throughout and best utilize the initial thrust of the hips and thighs as the bar leaves the floor.

The rhomboids and middle and lower fibers of the trapezius muscles are the primary shoulder blade retractors. However, it's easy and wise to work scapulae elevation -- which involves the levator and trapezius -- with as much determination as the retractor phase -- which involves the same muscle groups in conjunction with the latissimus dorsi, pectorals and serratus anterior. 

Click to Enlarge

Thus, working all aspects of scapulae movement will encourage growth in the upper back region, while most functional strength training movements and competitive lifts will benefit from work given to the retractors and elevators. 

The following is a brief and very intense upper back routine, which can be incorporated into one's overall program for rapid gains. As always I suggest that one train very hard -- so hard, in fact, that no more than one or, at most, two sets of any single exercise will be necessary to stimulate maximal increases in muscular size and strength. Few, if any, legitimate studies have indicated that the volume of training is positively associated with gains in tissue mass and strength. However, the intensity of training -- defined here as one's ability to train any particular set to a point that allows no further movement of the bar . . . or reaching momentary muscular failure -- will lead to the sought after gains.
Going "all out" in each of three weekly workouts -- and perhaps two sessions for those with poor recovery ability or difficult employment schedules . . . doing a relatively limited number of sets due to the demanding nature of each -- will bring startling but rewarding gains. As far as other general recommendations go, as usual the hips and thighs should not be worked more than twice weekly and the lower back once a week for best results. But above all, remember to train as heavily as possible for the suggested number of reps, and to use whatever equipment is available. Certain types of machines may offer a mechanical advantage, but the only real requisite for fostering improvement is a willingness to do so, and the ability to transform that desire into positive action. 
Overhead Press - 
warmup, 1 x 8, 1 x 6.
Leverage Row or Prone Row - 
1 x 8.
Shrug - 
1 x 15.
Front Raise - 
1 x 6.
Leverage Row or Prone Row - 
1 x 6.
Leverage Neck Machine - 
1 x 15 each way.
Day One begins with an overhead pressing movement. We use the Nautilus Double Press unit, but a seated press behind neck or strict barbell presses can also be used effectively. In addition to deltoid and triceps work, there is involvement of the trapezius due to scapulae rotation. 
The row follows, with shrugs after that. Most trainees do not strive to get maximal scapulae elevation when shrugging, preferring to use weights that are far too heavy -- achieving only short range partial shrugs -- thereby failing to stimulate the traps and levator scapulae completely. An attempt should be made to pull the "points" of the shoulders to the ears, make a definite pause and return to the starting position. Using dumbbells or a Nautilus Leverage Shrug machine allows for a greater range of motion than a bar, which must be dragged along the thighs and subjected to the resultant friction. [Note: You might also want to try a Shrug Bar.].  
A regular barbell, dumbbells or manual resistance can be used for front raises; however, a thick bar will increase the intensity of the exercise even more. But the most important point concerning the execution is to avoid "swinging" the weight to a point of contraction. Elevate it slowly and smoothly, pause and lower under control. Neck movements should likewise be done in a controlled, "non-jerky" fashion in order to protect the vulnerable cervical spine.
Barbell or Leverage Pullover - 
1 x 12, rest one minute and then do a 50% set.
Note: Here's a great explanation of the 50% set from Paul Carter - 
I first read about this technique many years ago from Dr. Ken Leistner.  He used it in a bench specialization routine with great success for himself and a lot of the guys he trained.  I worked it in to my routines also with great success. It's pretty simple.
After you run the over-warm up, go to failure, or close to it on your down set/working set and then rest 60 seconds, and go again.  On the second set, try to get half the number of reps you got on the first set, i.e. 50% of your first set. So, you have a goal for the day that gets set after the first set ends. 
Pulldown Behind Neck - 
1 x 12.
Pulldown to Chest, supinated grip - 
1 x 8.
Seated Dumbbell Press - 
1 x 10, 1 x 6.
Upright Row - 
1 x 8.
Rear Deltoid Raise - 
1 x 6.
Day Two kicks off with pullovers. The Nautilus Leverage machine allows for a greater range of effective motion, but heavy pullovers with a barbell are a definitely underused (but very result producing) exercise. Although it's seldom seen in most gyms, pullovers must be done through a complete range of motion. Doing otherwise limits the number of fibers brought into play, thereby reducing the value of the exercise. Pulldowns performed with a supinated grip -- palms facing the chest -- place the biceps in a more efficient pulling position, permitting a higher order of work than the preceding exercise.
We do upright rows with a strap that is looped through the hole in our York Olympic plates as this places the wrists in a more comfortable and natural position when pulling to the top position. [Once you set it up right, there's a great idea.] 
The dumbbell press hits the delts, traps and triceps. The rear deltoid raise (done with dumbbells or cables) is another often improperly performed movement, as most trainees begin the lift by invoking body swing. This is to be avoided. Actually, manual resistance is perhaps the best way to do this one, allowing for even and concentrated tension throughout. 
Eight-Second Overhead Press or 70 Degree Incline Press - 
1 x 8.
Leverage Row or One-Arm Dumbbell Row - 
1 x 12.
Shrug - 
1 x 15.
Lateral Raise - 
1 x 8.
Leverage Neck Machine - 
1 x 15 each way.
Day Three begins -- and for many, figuratively ends -- with eight-second presses. A machine allows for better control and concentration in this particular movement. As the name implies, the weight is lifted overhead to the contracted position over an eight-second count, paused, and then lowered to the start position over another eight-second count. When done properly, it's a brutal and very underrated means of stimulating growth. For variety, a very steep incline press can be used instead of going straight overhead.
The one-arm dumbbell row -- done with emphasis placed on keeping the elbow as high as possible -- is an excellent basic upper back exercise. Like front raises, lateral raises can be done against manually applied resistance or with conventional equipment, but it must be done slowly and deliberately. Neck work "finishes" the program.
Please keep foremost in your mind that the exaggerated training programs of the champs sometimes seen in articles are so far beyond reason as to be ridiculous. Even if such programs are done prior to a contest, it should be understood that they are, for the most part, designed to prevent atrophy -- not stimulate hypertrophy -- while the bodybuilder is fine-tuning for a contest. Whereas working fast and hard, taking each set to the limit, on basic exercises will result in larger and stronger traps, shoulder and upper back musculature . . . along with greater resistance to injury on the athletic field.     



Saturday, November 12, 2016

Stress Load - George Elder (1982)

Note: A few mornings ago I was looking through a heap of magazines and noticed one that had this blog's first article entry in it. Box Squats, by Garry Benford, posted Jan. 28, 2008. It was taken from the Dec. 1982 issue of Muscular Development magazine.

At this time Jan Dellinger was the Associate Editor of the publication and John Grimek the Editor in Chief, with Bob Hoffman still listed as Publisher. In a short time Mr. Dellinger would be listed as the Editor in Chief (John Terpak, Publisher), and throughout these times the magazine became very interesting and informative, complete with top shelf visuals featuring some of the best lifting and physique photographers around. Let's just say that the magazine during this period was a cut above.

My books and magazines are in disarray, just the way I like them to be, but I did come across and rip out a couple more articles from issues of MD in the mess, and will be posting some selected training articles from them in the next while, with any luck.

Taken From This Issue (Dec. 1982)

Understanding the 'Stress Load' Principle
by George Elder

In any good  strength training system it is extremely important to use weights and repetitions that have a sound basis for full strength potentials to be realized. It would make little sense to use a very light weight and a great number of repetitions in order to improve one's maximum in a particular lift as expeditiously as possible. On the other hand, always doing maximum single attempts may not be the answer either.

Individuals respond in such a variety of ways that making any absolute rules for strength training is folly. There are some generalizations, however, that most experts would agree on. But before going into them,it is always important to understand the rationale behind any system in order for you, the individual, to apply it properly or reject it.

When training for strength, most people tend to use stress loads of between 80% and 100% of their current maximum, for between one and eight repetitions on their heavy sets. Similarly, in most European and Soviet systems, stress loads of 90% to 100% and beyond are advised to best enhance strength gains.

Most Powerlifters and Olympic lifters in this country also use these prescribed loads during their heavy training phases, so there seems to be a general consensus. Hence, it would seem sensible to use what has worked best for most people as the basis for a generally valid system. Therefore, we can assume that stress loads of at least 80% of maximum should be used, with a bias toward levels in the 90% to 100% range.

Having ascertained generally valid stress loads, the matter of proper warm up must be considered. After all, one cannot simply jump under a bar loaded to 90% of his best and expect to perform well. He must warm up but not to the extent that it detracts from his performance on the heavy "strength sets."

There were many old training systems that took warming up into account, and one of the most popular was the 10-8-6-4-2-1 pyramid approach. The lifter would start off with a weight he could handle for 10 reps and then add 20 pounds or so for his next set and do 8 reps. He would keep going up in regular steps until he reached a weight he could do only once.

Needless to say, the majority of the work with this method was done at the lower stress level sets, and frequently the lifter would "burn out" by the time he reached the 4-2-1 "strength sets," which were actually the only sets of 90% or more in the whole pyramid. This system definitely warmed up the lifter, but then again it put too much emphasis on the lighter weight sets.

The next step was one that is still regarded as a very good system. This is the old Five-by-Five system which Bill Starr has really brought to the forefront. In this system, the lifter did his first set of 5 reps with a weight that comprised about 70% of his maximum. The following set of 5 was performed with roughly 80%. Then, the last three sets -- which were continued for 5 reps each -- were done with 85% to 90% of his best.

This system avoided early fatigue and guided the lifter to his strength sets as expeditiously as possible. He warmed up sufficiently to heighten the many nuances that are necessary for realizing maximal muscle contraction, but not to the extent that the muscles became excessively fatigued. A balance had been achieved and this was the start of advanced strength systems.

The five-by-five approach works well with both Olympic and Powerlifts. However, the only drawback to this method is the fact that none of the work is done with stress loads above 90%, plus some critics feel that the warm up is inadequate. The latter point is debatable, but the former is a generally realistic criticism. The problem now becomes one of putting in more heavy sets but not overdoing it on the way up to those heavy sets.

The current system that is used at the University of New Hampshire is a variation of the five-by-five method. In this system the same basics apply as to the five-by-five but there is a greater emphasis on heavy sets. The following is our current general strength training system:

60% x 6-8 reps
75% x 5
85% x 5
90% x 3-5
95% x 2-3 reps, 2 sets.

We have had great success with this system and it is very workable with most people. The above routine is used on Heavy Days, whereas on the Light Days the program looks like this:

60% x 6-8
75% x 6
85% x 6 reps, 3 sets.

The rationale behind alternating these systems is that very high stress levels tend to burn out the lifter over time and it would behoove our interest to prevent this. In point of fact, this system can be criticized because of its very high stress levels. That is why it is advisable to use that light workout day every week.

After each workout, some lifters like to do a wind down set with approximately 70% for 6-8 reps. This is fine and won't detract from the system at all; in fact, if you have the time I would advise it!

In closing, we should consider that there is no ideal system and all we have done here is formulate a system out of generalizations. In the great majority of cases, though, the systems presented here are valid, but they are not necessarily for everyone.

You may be one of those who responds to repetitions of a high nature, or one who only responds to maximum loads for single repetitions. KNOW YOURSELF and only then can you evolve a personally valid strength training system. 




Thursday, November 10, 2016

Specialization (Leg & Back) - John McCallum (August 1966)

Originally Published August 1966

I used to play in a lot of bridge tournaments. It was a nice sport for a weight lifter. It gave your brain a real workout, and you could play it sitting down.

I quit when it got too specialized. You've got to specialize to be a winner, but it was taking too much of my time and changing my way of life. Even my conversation was getting restricted. I'd always been able to babble away like everyone else, but I got to the point where I was walking around in a daze and grumbling that I hadn't had a hand since Columbus was a cowboy. 

The specialists were winning, but it took me g time to admit it. I took a look at my bookshelf one day. It used to bulge at the seams with magazines full of equally bulgy young ladies. Now it was filled with books promising fame, fortune, bridge mastery, or all three for half an hour's study a day. About this time, I realized that, in actual fact, bridge mastery took a mind like a computer, the stamina of a long distance runner, and a complete withdrawal from the outside world. I gave it up and went back to "The Flintsones" but I'd had a good lesson in the necessity of specialization.

This is the age of the specialist. You've got to specialize if you want to reach the top in any field. You can't be like Leacock's young man who leaped on his horse and rode off madly in all directions [Gertrude the Governess by Stephen Leacock]. Not any more. You can't spread yourself out over a lot of things and win at them. Today, you gotta bear down hard on one thing, whether it's playing bridge, running a record mile, becoming a lifting champ, or winning a physique title.

It's particularly true in the matter of winning a physique title. 

At the stage you're at right now, legs and back are still the vital areas. Your ultimate strength and development depends on the foundation you build in your legs and back. There's no shortcut. Don't let anybody tell you there is. If you branch out too soon into specialization on the smaller muscle groups, you'll only limit your eventual progress. You might end up with a nice build and fair degree of strength, but it won't be herculean. It'll be nothing like what you'll end up with if you follow this series correctly.

If you really want to power appearance of a Hercules -- something along the lines of Pearl, Park, or Grimek -- then your next program has got to be a short period of intensive specialization on your LEGS AND BACK. The program will increase the strength and size of those areas way beyond that of the average trainee, but it'll take specialization to do that.

One of the early specialists on leg and back work was a lifter of about 25 years ago named Louis Abele. Abele weighed around 220 and totaled close to 1000 pounds in the three Olympic lifts. 1000-pound totlas in those days read like something out of Jules Verne.

Abele was maybe the first to demonstrate the value of leg and back specialization. He was doing repetition squats with 500 pounds when 300 sounded pretty good. Abele never did any bodybuilding that I know of, but he had a physique as shapely as most of the physique boys at that time and he was a hell of a lot stronger. With a short period of straight bodybuilding he could have won most of the major physique awards.

Abele based his success primarily on several periods of intensive specialization on his legs and back.

You'll work out four days per week on this program. You'll do the Leg Program on Mondays and Thursdays, and the Back Program on Tuesdays and Fridays. That gives you Wednesdays in between and the whole weekend to rest up.

You might as well realize right now, that if you work like you're supposed to on this program, you'll need that long to rest up. Leg and back specialization, done properly, is the hardest possible type of training. Fortunately, it's also the most result producing. Do this program like you're supposed to, and you'll gain rapid and visible improvement both in muscle bulk and strength.

A lot of trainees don't appreciate the possibilities inherent in leg and back specialization. Consequently, they don't train anywhere near hard enough at it. They think they do, but in actual fact they don't. When I say train hard, I mean HARD. You've got to use auto-suggestion as outlined in an earlier article and drive to the absolute limit.

You've got to blank out every other thought from your mind except doing the correct number of reps with constantly increasing poundages. That's what it takes.

I remember watching Reg Park work out one time. He was doing squats. He had half the weight in the gym draped across his shoulders and the owner biting his nails in case the floor broke. You never saw such intensive effort. Park did rep after rep and each one looked like the last.

One of the guys watching nudged me. "Good grief," he said. "Have you ever seen anybody work harder than that?"

"No," I said, "I haven't. I never saw anybody with more muscle, either."

We watched Park finish his workout. Then we went out for a bite to eat and the guy said, "Do you really think it's necessary to work that hard?"

"Sure," I said. "Don't you?"

He thought for a moment. "I dunno. I never worked that hard, but I got a few muscles."

"Sure," I said. "You got a few muscles. But you look like somebody's mother-in-law alongside of Park."

The guy munched his sandwich with a pained look.

"That's what makes the difference," I said. "Anybody can work out easy with moderate weights and develop a fair body. That's what most trainees do. But HARD work on the RIGHT exercises is what separates the elite from everybody else.?

I bit into my sandwich and chewed it down. "What do you use for squat?"

"Around 250."

"Okay," I said. "So your muscles have grown enough to handle two hundred and fifty pounds, and that gave you a fair development. But Park was using over 500! that means his muscles have grown enough to handle twice what you do. And that, pure and simple, is why he's got a heck of a lot more muscle than you have."

He looked like he was thinking about it, so I continued. "Reg Park was at your stage of development at one time. He probably squatted with 250 and had a corresponding development. But the difference with Park is that he had the ambition and mental drive to keep forcing the weight even after he had a nice build. He wanted the best, so he kept adding weight a few pounds at a time, and he worked hard enough to lift it. Now he looks like Superman."

The guy finished up his sandwich. "You figure that does it, eh?"

"Right," I said. "Correct exercises, tremendous weights, and hard, HARD work. It's as simple as that."

Work hard on this program.
Lift big weights, and you'll be taking a long stride towards looking like Reg Park.

On Mondays and Thursdays you'll be doing the leg work. Do the following:

1) Squats -
You're probably getting tired of hearing it, but squats are still the big exercise for bulk and power. Do them 5 sets of 5 reps. Use a light weight for the first set to warm up. Add weight for the second set. Jump to your top weight for the third set and stay at that weight for the 4th and 5th sets. If you're not using over 300 pounds by now, you haven't been working near hard enough. Set the figure of 500 pounds in your mind and work towards it. You can't build up a herculean body on any less. If anyone says you can, they're either trying to sell you something or else talking about a body one heck of a lot less herculean than the one I'm talking about.

2) Hack Squats -
Don't confuse these with hip lifts. Do 4 sets of 12 reps. Hack squats are far and away the best exercise for building the muscles just above the knee, and giving the whole thigh a bulky, shapely look. Put a three inch board under your heels and go all the way down till you're sitting on your calves. Start light until you get used to the exercise, but then increase the poundage rapidly. Work so hard you get stuck at the bottom on the last rep.

3) Leg Curls -
Most of you know these. Do 5 sets of 10 with all the weight you can handle.

4) Donkey Calf Raises -
Big calves are a must for shapely legs. Do 5 sets of 20. Work until your calves absolutely scream.

5) Calf Raises on Calf Machine -
Put a board under your toes so you can drop your heels way down and stretch the muscles. This builds the low bulk on the leg where you want it. Do 5 sets of 20. Use enough weight so you barely make the last rep. Your calves should feel like they've been blow-torched when you finish.

6) Front Squats -
You can either Clean the weight or take it off the rack. Put a 2 x 4 under your heels and keep your back flat, your head up, and your elbows high. 4 sets of 8, and it won't help unless you pile on the plates.

That completes the leg workout. Work 10 times as hard as you ever did before. Give it all you've got and then some. When you finish the workout, you should literally have trouble climbing a flight of stairs.

On Tuesdays and Fridays do the back work:

1) Prone Hyperextensions -
4 sets of 10 with all the weight you can handle. Grit your teeth and really push the poundage.

2) Power Cleans -
5 sets of 5. Put a real effort into the second pull. You should be able to work up to a respectable Clean. They build terrific explosive power.

3) Deadlifts -
This old standby is the granddaddy of them all for building pure, overall power. Start light and do 3 reps. Add weight and do 3 more reps. Keep adding weight for each set until you can't make 3 reps. You should get about 8 sets out of it.

4) Rowing -
This is another old favorite and terrific for back development if done properly. Take a close grip and pull the bar up to the lower abdomen -- about to where the legs join the trunk. Arch your back when the bar touches your body and round it when the weight goes back down. Let the bar hang dead on the bottom and get a stretch in your lats. Do 5 sets of 12.

5) Chins Behind Neck -
Take a wide overhand grip and pull up till the back of your neck touches the bar. Get a dead hang on the bottom after each rep. 5 sets of 10, and attach weights around your waist for added resistance as soon as you can.

6) Regular Chins -
Take a normal overhand grip and pull up till your chin extends over the bar. Dead hang on the bottom and 5 sets of 10. Chins are a favorite lat exercise with Bill Pearl, and Pearl has unquestionably one of the greatest bodies of all time. You can be sure that when he does chins, he doesn't dawdle halfheartedly through them. Don't you either!

Anyone can chin themselves half a dozen times in a sloppy fashion and have no muscle to show for it. But not many can chin the way you're supposed to, and those that can have plenty of muscle to show for it. Build up the reps to the required number as quickly as you can, and then start strapping weights around your waist. When you're doing proper chins with with 30 or 40 pounds tied on, your muscles will start looking more like Pearl's.

The whole thing, then, looks like this:

Monday/Thursday -

1) Squats. 5 x 5
2) Hack Squats. 4 x 12
3) Leg Curls. 5 x 10
4) Donkey Calf Raises. 5 x 20
5) Calf Raises on Machine. 5 x 20
6) Front Squats. 4 x 8.

Tuesday/Friday -
1) Prone Hyperextensions. 4 x 10
2) Power Cleans. 5 x 5
3) Deadlifts. 8 x 3
4) Rowing. 5 x 12
5) Chins Behind Neck. 5 x 10
6) Regular Chins. 5 x 10.

Do a light set of pullovers after the squats, front squats, power cleans, and deadlifts.

Don't forget to follow the high protein diet as outlined in the last article. Keep your protein intake way up or you won't gain as much.

Get lots of rest and sleep. Give it everything you've got when you're working out, but when you leave the gym get all the rest and relaxation you can.

Work HARD! Harder than ever before. Add weight every workout if you possibly can. Make it a life or death deal.

Determine that every workout is going to be better than the one before it. Determine that you're going to completely revamp your entire conception of what hard work is. Determine right now that when you finish this program you're going to have outstanding bulk and power in your legs and back.






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