Thursday, May 25, 2017

One-Arm Lifts for Muscularity (1970)

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Bodybuilding is not only one of the most popular and exciting pastimes, it's also progressive. Every day is a "breakthrough day" . . . every day a new trail is blazed under the weights . . . every day some lifter takes a giant step forward on his own, and almost overnight every other iron man learns about it and profits by the experiment. Let's take a moment to see how this works in practice.

Until just a few years ago bodybuilders who trained exclusively on bodybuilding movements, using the standard schedules, developed strong and muscular bodies . . . to a  degree. Then they latched on to the special techniques of the power lifters, which enabled them to handle consistently heavier weights, thus bulking up the chest area . . . widening the shoulders . . . bringing out that spectacular tie-in between pectorals and deltoids . . . and building more massive arms in the process. Heavy bench presses done in power-lifting fashion of many sets of lower reps were largely responsible for this startling improvement.

At the same time they began to alter their former leg training programs with a view toward building more massive leg size. This was accomplished by changes in Squat technique: doing more sets of fewer reps, but using heavier weights . . . and by the inclusion of Deadlifts which strongly affect the rear thighs, as well as building more massively-muscled lower backs. It is this obeisance to power lifting that has done so much to restructure the incomparable physiques of Bill Pearl, Chuck Sipes, Dave Draper, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many others. 

And so we of the bodybuilding world have taken technical tips from the power lifters and have notably changed the image of bodybuilding. Another significant step forward can be made possible as well . . . this time through a backward look! 

How? By looking back to the time when one-arm lifts were equally as important as two-arm lifts in World championships and the Olympic games. Yes, in the earlier days the One-Hand Snatch and One-Hand Clean and Jerk were counted in the lifter's total. 

Moreover, the One-Hand Bent Press and Side Press were for many years dear to the hearts of the famous old-time strongmen lifters. Side Presses of over 225 pounds were not uncommon, and the great Arthur Saxon at one time Bent Pressed over 370 pounds while weighing slightly over 200! 

Other great champions such as Charles Rigoulot did a One-Arm Snatch with more than 260 pounds at a bodyweight of 230. George Lurich, the great Russian strongman, made a One-Arm Clean and Jerk with over 300 lbs. while weighing 196.

George Lurich and Friends

As for the Bent Press and Side Press, strongmen/bodybuilders of more recent times have kept interest in them alive. Bert Elliot has succeeded with a 300 lb. Bent Press at a relatively light weight. Marvin Eder (known as "The World's Strongest Youth") made a Side Press of 240 while weighing about 196 . . . and this, mind you, was done with less than two weeks' training!

But Why One-Arm Lifts?

Bodybuilders, you might say, are interested only in muscle-building results. How can they possibly be interested in strength "stunts" such as these one-arm lifts seem to be?

Because so many have found that one-arm lifts build fantastic forearms . . . a more powerful grip . . . shoulders of more rugged breadth and mass, and which are far more cut-up . . . and backs with densely muscled spinal erectors, those two big rope-like columns of muscle on either side of the spine which are the true mark of the really strong man.

To put it another way: The one-arm lifts build a totality of symmetry and muscularity that does not appear in the physiques of bodybuilders who have never taken the time to practice them.

If you doubt this, let me urge you to study photographs of today's two-arm-lift Olympic champions and compare their physiques with the greats of old who practiced both two-arm and one-arm lifts . . . men like Sandow and Saxon. Both men had magnificently developed abdominals as well . . . and the most chiseled serratus magnus.

Thus, when power-lifting for mass, and one-arm lifting for the classical muscular look are incorporated into a modern training program, the most sublime muscular perfection is achieved. 
The wonder of one-arm lift training is that every muscle of the body is affected. Once you begin to practice these lifts you'll find an exciting new massiveness and shape forming in the trapezius and deltoids . . . and from every viewable angle. Far deeper, thicker, and more chiseled than just overhead Presses and Lateral Raises can produce.

How One-Arm Lifts Improve the Two-Arm Variety

Although this article is channeled to bodybuilding interests, it is of considerable value to Olympic weightlifters to note that one-arm lifting is beneficial to the standard two-arm Olympic lifts. For although human energy is concentrated into three double-handed Olympic lifts today (ah, the good ole days), experts know that single-handed lifting produces special strengths, energies and skills that can be transmitted to the double-handed lifts to boost them to tremendous new totals and personal records. Why? Because single-handed lifting requires (and produces):

(a) hair-trigger timing
(b) lightning-like speed
(c) an extra-sensory balance
(d) greater nervous energy
(e) a more daring, courageous frame of mind

You've got to think big . . . think heroically . . . you must have the pioneer spirit . . . you must be a trailblazer, and you must train yourself almost imperceptible muscular reflex action! One-arm lifting works in all these desirable directions.

Another great bonus provided by one-arm lifting is a better lockout because of greater lockout power, because the single-handed lifts train the right and left arms to act independently of each other. Any lifter with a faulty arm-lock frequently suffers failure and disqualification because his Snatches are 'pressed out' at the crux of the lift, or his Jerks come tumbling down because his elbows function inefficiently as he rams the weight overhead and tries to hold it for the count.

How to Perform One-Arm Lifts
When I have described the various techniques of the one-arm lifts I shall close with some general suggestions. These will have to do with basic factors common to all the one-arm lifts, and it will help you if you study them as much as you do the actual lifting techniques.

The One-Hand Snatch

[Note: I'll include some links to more info on this blog about each of these lifts, following the article technique descriptions.]

This is the simplest of all one-arm lifts, and it's the flashiest. The technique is simply to pull the weight swiftly from the floor to overhead in a single motion, with a dip at the knees and a swinging of the body under the weight as it ascends. In 'slow motion' it works this way:

(a) Start with the weight in front of the body as though to begin a two-arm lift from the floor.

(b) The legs should be bent so as to crouch over the barbell, keeping the back flat and hips lower than shoulders.

(c) The non-lifting hand should be placed on its corresponding knee for balance, and to help assure evenness of follow-through.

(d) Reach down for the weight and grasp the barbell exactly in its center. In one swift, explosive follow-through motion, pull (snatch) the weight upward to overhead elbow-locked position.

(e) This technique mandates dipping the body under the weight as it ascends so that you actually end in a half-crouch (semi-squat), your body bent to the opposite side of the exercising arm. You should be looking at the weight all the time - as you snatch it upward . . . as it clears the body . . . and as it reaches elbow-locked position overhead. As your balance improves you can even get into a full squat under the weight, but at the beginning concentrate on pull - to get the weight up . . . on balance - to keep the bar up . . . and on solid position under the weight - to insure the use of the heaviest poundages.

More here:

The One-Arm Clean and Jerk

(a) Bend forward, flexing both legs, as though to clean the barbell with two hands, keeping the back flat and the hips lower than the shoulders. The non-exercising hand rests on the knee of the same side.

(b) Keep the back flat . . . the head up . . . and the eyes fixed on some object about 45 degrees overhead.

(c) Grasp the weight in about the center of the bar (mark the center beforehand) . . . raise it just slightly off the floor to make sure you have it evenly balanced . . . and then in a sort of 'fast Curl' clean the weight swiftly to the shoulder. Actually this follows the same pattern of the Two-Arm Clean, except that, of course, you do it with one arm and start with your palm out, as in the Curl.

(d) As the weight comes into the shoulder, squat to meet the weight . . . drop smartly under it and catch it on the shoulders below the neck.

(e) Stand up with the weight, making sure the elbow of the exercising hand is fixed into the side of the waist or upper hip. The body should form a solid support for the lifting arm.

(f) Lean slightly into the lifting side with the hip, and make sure the leg on the side of the lifting arm is stiff.

(g) With feet about 18 inches apart - and with arm still fixed into the side of the waist or upper hip - jerk the weight overhead by bending the knees slightly and quickly, and then straightening them, and at the same time bend your body slightly to the opposite side to get the weight going.

(h) Drop under the weight in either semi-Squat, full-Squat, or split fashion.

(i) After locking the arm, stand up under the weight.

(j) All one-arm lifts must be done with both right and left arms.

(k) Handle about 75% of your record weight in the exercises. It is well to do the One-Arm Clean and Jerk in series of 3 reps . . . in complete movements.

More here:

The One-Arm Side Press and Push

(a) Get the weight to the shoulder in the same manner as you did in the One-Arm Clean and Jerk.

(b) Place your feet about 18 inches apart, with the leg on the side of the lifting arm stiff, and the other leg pointing slightly forward.

(c) Bend sideways and push the weight overhead. You should always bend sideways as much as possible when pushing the weight overhead.

(d) The non-exercising arm should be out level with the shoulder to provide perfect balance and to provide a momentum in bending sideways. Your eyes should follow the weight as it proceeds to the completed Press position.

(e) You may push the weight overhead quickly as you bend sideways, or you may do it more slowly. Slower with 6 reps per set for muscular shape and size . . . of faster, with heavier weights (as in a Forced Reps technique) to build massiveness and power. (This principle applies to all One-Arm lifts).

(f) Always warm up with lighter weight and gradually work up to heavier and maximum poundages. 

More here:

One-Arm Bent Press

(The starting position is the same as that for the One-Arm Clean, except that you can use the hand of the non-lifting arm to overlap the lifting hand, thus using both hands to help bring the weight to the shoulders.)

The purpose of the lift is to get the weight up in the easiest manner, because what counts here is pressing the heaviest weight possible overhead. You can handle heavier weights in the One-Arm Bent Press than in either the Side press and Push, or the One-Arm Jerk.

(a) With the weight ready on the shoulder in the exact position of the One-Arm Jerk, you should test to discover the exact position which will give you the strongest foundation for the lift. You may do this by spreading your legs a bit more widely by moving the foot on the side of the one-exercising arm a bit further from the body.

(b) Lean slightly forward and bend the knee on the side of the non-exercising arm.

(c) Always look at the weight. You should have so firmly determined the best-balanced position that you no longer need to think about body balance, but only on looking at the weight and concentrating on getting it up.

(d) Bend slowly . . . not fast, or you will cause the bar to become unbalanced.

(e) Lower your body (lean it) to the opposite side as much as possible. The tricep of the lifting arm should rest on your lat, to give support to the lifting arm as you bend sideways.

(f) At this point start bending the leg on the non-lifting side, and at the same time place the non-exercising arm on the bending knee for more support as you complete the Bent Press.

(g) When the Press is completed you half-turn your body around from the starting position . . . the arm will be overhead and you will be in a very low-Squat position.

(h) Slowly come back to the starting position and do the lift with the opposite arm. You can repeat this 6 times with each arm. You should be able to handle at least 20% more weight with the first attempt of the Bent Press than you can with the Side Press and Push.

(i) Be sure to warm up with a light weight before going to heavier ones, so that you loosen the sides and shoulder and neck muscles. Don't hit the heavy weights right away. 

More here:

And here is an absolutely fantastic full length book by Walter Dorey on The Bent Press:

Two Arms Anyhow

While in the bent-forward position prior to coming erect with the barbell, you pick up the dumbbell . . . swing curl it to the shoulder . . . then come erect and finish the lift by pressing the dumbbell overhead until both arms are straight. This is what is called the Two Hands Anyhow, even though both arms do separate and individual things in the same lift.

This is one of the very best muscle and power-building lifts. After you have spent some time practicing this lift, just think of the fact that Arthur Saxon, weighing slightly over 200 pounds, was able to lift 448 in this lift. It will give you a small idea of the fantastic power of this rugged man, and of the old time strongmen.

Incorporate one-arm lifting in your workouts . . . when you have some extra energy. It is a good idea to combine a few power-lifts and a few one-arm lifts at a special time each week . . . such as on a Saturday, after you have done your regular workouts for the week. They will give you a density of muscle . . . a muscle quality that will enhance your physique so very much, and take you into the realm of the great champions.

But, as I mentioned earlier . . . follow these suggestions:

(a) Always warm up thoroughly for any and all one-hand lifts.

(b) Warm up with far lighter weights, not only for the stimulation of the muscles, but for loosening them . . . getting the kinks out . . . preparing them for the onslaught of heavy work later on in the one-arm workout.

(c) Also practice with light weight to get the feel of the bar in orbit . . . of balancing the bar, as well as balancing the body. Use light-poundage-practice to determine foot spacing. Thus the exercise technique will become almost automatic, and you can thenceforth concentrate on hoisting the heaviest weight . . . thus making every workout a day of competition with your previous records of the preceding workouts.

When I was a teenager I would work out four times weekly, doing my regular bodybuilding routines. Then on Saturdays I would take a rest from every exercise I had done during the week and have a fun session with the gang at the gym, just practicing powerlifts . . . bench pressing in a competition with each other, and squatting too. Sometimes I practiced deadlifting instead of squatting, along with the One-Arm Snatch, Clean and Jerk, and Bent Press.

All this added fun and excitement to my workouts . . . it was a wonderful change of pace . . . it helped develop agility and staying power . . . and when I returned to my regular bodybuilding workouts the next week I could do fantastic things! Also, this change-of-pace Saturday fun session was largely responsible for helping me build the power to win weightlifting contests.

To give you an idea of the weights you can handle and shoot for: When I was 17 and weighed 175 pounds, with about a year of off-and-on training on the one-arm lifts, I was able to one-arm snatch 160 pounds . . . one-arm clean and jerk 190 . . . one-arm side press 170 . . . and bent press 205 . . . and do the two arms anyhow with about 265.

You can see now that anyone who spends some time training them can lift more than his bodyweight in each lift. So give the one-arm lifts a special niche in your week of workouts . . . you'll be amazed at how they make everything in bodybuilder come just that much more easily and productively in building larger, shapelier, and more 'cut-up' muscles.

Article Author: Joe Weider


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