Thursday, October 26, 2017

Vince Anello Interview - Tim Henriques (2014)

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Note: This is a small excerpt from Tim's book "All About Powerlifting" - Highly Recommended! 

Interview With Vince Anello (2014)  

Vince Anello is a World Champion Powerlifter with an incredible 4x bodyweight deadlift; he is the first man in history to deadlift more than 800 lbs at under 200. He held the IPF world record for the deadlift in the 198 lb class for many years. This interview was conducted via email; I sent him these questions and these are his responses to them.

Tim Henriques: Please give us a brief history of yourself.

Vince Anello: I am 63 years old as of this interview. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. I own and operate Anello Body Fitness, where I train private clients and work out myself. My web site is:

and this page will tell you more about me: 

TH: What are your best lifts? 

VA: In a competition I have squatted 750, benched 500, and deadlifted 821 officially; I pulled 880 in training, all at 198 lbs.

TH: List some of he titles and awards that you have won.

VA: 20 World Records | 10 National Titles | 5 World Titles | 1998 Induction Strength Hall of Fame York PA.

 Click to Enlarge and Read

TH: When did you start training; when did you first compete; what were your first competition lifts?

VA: I started in elementary school. I used to go in the woods and lift rocks and bricks. My first competition I benched 18, squatted 250, and pulled 310, I believe.

TH: How much weight did you lift the first few times you tried the deadlift?

VA: When I first started lifting, I thought 185 was a lot to Deadlift.

TH: Did you experience any plateaus?

VA: Through career my deadlift plateaued at 400, then I reached 500. Then I was elated to get 600, set my goal at 700 and I made that, and then I wanted 800. It took me a couple of years and in 1975 I became the first man under 200 pounds to pull more than 800. Below are videos of my lifts:

810 in 1977 -
1977 World Powerlifting Championships -

TH: Provide a quick history of the progress you have made in the deadlift since you started.

VA: I pulled 310 in 1966 to a meet best 821 in 1983. In 1976 I pulled in training.

TH: What do you feel is the key to succeeding in the deadlift?

VA: There are hundreds of routines out there and champions have been produced by opposing theories; the common denominator is THE MIND! A Bulldog Mindset. Bite onto a goal and Don't Let Go Until It Is Realized!

Vince Anello Locks One Out

TH: What do you feel is the best way to train for the deadlift for a normal powerlifter? 

VA: In the deadlift I would train once a week. The stronger you get, the more rest is needed. Most overtrain. I would cycle my lifts. 

TH: What do you think of training with a high frequency (3+ times per week) on the deadlift?

VA: I found one day per week on each powerlift suited me. Sometimes I would deadlift every 10 days. I am not a believer in high frequency deadlift training.

TH: What do you think of training with a medium frequency (2 times per week) on the deadlift?

VA: When I was really at a peak I would just go once per week on each lift; however, I do think you can do light assistance work on the muscle group a second time per week.

TH: What do you think of training with a low frequency (1 time per week or less) on the deadlift?

VA: This is what I believe to be the ideal; as you get stronger you have to get more rest to allow recovery.

TH: what are your favorite assistance exercises for the powerlifts?

VA: For bench press I like flyes and dips, also shoulders and triceps, even hammer curls for stabilizing muscles. I like leg extensions, leg curls, and hack squats; and for the deadlift a lot of grip work.

I also like the negative accentuated deadlift - start with the bar up at the lockout in the rack, move backward, and lower it under control. You can combine this with a deficit deadlift and lower the bar to your ankles. I have pulled 750 in this fashion.   

TH: What are your thoughts on squatting and deadlifting on the same day?

VA: You have to squat and deadlift on the same day in the contest. If you squat one day and deadlift the next you won't have the endurance to do both in the contest.

TH: What are your thoughts on training to failure on the competition lifts?

VA: I have trained to failure in bodybuilding but not in powerlifting.

TH: What injuries have you faced and how did you overcome them?

VA: I have had knee injuries, and back injuries. Light rehab work and rest is the best way to overcome the injuries.

TH: How important do you feel that nutrition is to powerlifting performance?

VA: I eat 7 times a day, small meals, and I try to get at least 30 grams of protein at each meal. Carbs I watched when trying to make weight for weight class as I believe a gram of carb holds 2 or 3 ounces of water (this may not be exact but I used this as an estimate).

TH: What do you usually do with your weight and nutrition to prepare for a powerlifting competition?

VA: I would drop carbs and sweat to make weight.

TH: How important do you feel that supplementation is to powerlifting performance: What kind of supplement program do you currently follow? Are you sponsored by any supplement companies and if so, what are they?

VA: I take protein supplements and vitamins. One supplement I believe in now is MonaVie. Two years ago I was demonstrating plyometrics to my athlete clients and I injured my knee. It bothered me for three months. I went to the doctor and they gave me drugs that I took for a couple of days, but I quit those because it made me feel terrible mentally. A client suggested MonaVie; after a week my knee felt better; a month later, no pain. I have not had any pain in 2 years. I know it has Glucosamine Chondroiton in it, but I have taken various forms before, and nothing seemed to help like MonaVie.

TH: What are your thoughts on powerlifting equipment (gear) in powerlifting?

VA: Gear should be used to prevent injury. When I competed it was just starting to become popular. I can't give a fair evaluation of today's equipment because I have not experienced it.

TH: What are your thoughts on steroids in powerlifting. Do you compete in drug-tested competitions?

How do you feel about the effectiveness of drug tests for catching those who use steroids?

VA: If you lift in a federation that bans drugs or is a drug-free federation, then you should not use drugs.

TH: How would you feel about powerlifting being united? Would you compete in powerlifting if it was united and raw? Would you compete in powerlifting if it was united and single ply? Would you compete in powerlifting if it was united and multi-ply? What do you think the key to unification is?

VA: I would like to see powerlifting united but there are so many different opinions and paths today that it would be extremely hard. I am retired now, and it is hard to speculate which path I would follow in my prime. I have lifted in an era that at its start did not allow even knee wraps to the full gear we have available now.

TH: What is your thought about the importance of having a workout partner(s) of teammates in helping you train for powerlifting?

VA: You need training partners in powerlifting for safety and motivation.

TH: What is your thought about keeping a training journal while powerlifting?

VA: I kept a strict journal on all my training. Unfortunately I lost a journal in 1976 which documented my training that I used when I pulled 880 in training. I remember reading it in 1996, but since then I have moved and must have lost or misplaced it.

TH: What books, websites, or coaches do you suggest or follow in your lifting, and what would you suggest other lifters do to learn more about lifting?

VA: Read and absorb as much as you can and find what works for you personally. You must follow your own path, not someone else's: "Be open to everything and attached to nothing." As we go through life we should be constantly experimenting!

TH: What do you attribute your personal success in powerlifting to?


TH: What advice would you give to someone who was just beginning to take up powerlifting?

VA: Go to contests and observe. Read as much as you can on training and the sport. Seek out an experienced coach.

TH: What advice would you give to an intermediate-level powerlifter to improve his total? 
VA: Train the mind as much as the body!

TH: What advice would you give to an advanced-level powerlifter to improve his total?


TH: Are there any changes that you would ma powerlifting if you had the power to do so?

VA: I can't and would not want to. I would like to see powerlifting more popular with the public. I think a top champion powerlifter is just as much as great athlete as a champion baseball player! But the latter makes millions!!! LOL.  

TH: Do you have anything else that you would like to say to powerlifters and people interested in powerlifting?



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Deltoid Development - Reg Park (1965)

Originally Published in This Issue (April 1965) 
Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed

My Secret for Developing My Deltoids
by Reg Park (1965) 

Exceptionally well-developed deltoids are the hallmark of a great physique. How many top notch bodybuilders have truly great deltoids? The names of Grimek and Melvin Wells immediately spring to my mind, but then you have to start thinking to come up with other names. 

John Grimek

Melvin Wells

Neither Grimek nor Wells had exceptionally broad clavicles, but when they stand lined up, their deltoid development stands out. And when they begin to pose, the other contestants might as well go home. 

It is because of the foregoing reasons that I have always favored deltoid work, and I would like to relate the type of exercises I have performed for my own shoulders throughout the past few years.

When I started training in September of 1948, the methods of training were not as far advanced or as scientific as they are today, so you must not be surprised when I tell you that the first deltoid exercise I performed was the "press on back on floor," because I did not know about the bench press in those days. I also performed the regular standing press, and the straight arm pullover on floor with barbell, and each exercise was done with three sets and repeated 10 repetitions. 

By 1949 I had read almost every book and magazine that was published on bodybuilding that I could lay my hands on. At that time all my workouts started with deltoid exercises, such was the importance I placed on this muscle group. My workout consisted of the following:

Press - 5x5
Press Behind Neck - 5x5
Incline Press, Dumbbells - 5x5
Supine Press, Dumbbells - 5x5
Pushups - 5x5.

I always performed my chest exercises immediately after working my shoulders because of the additional benefits the deltoids received from these exercises. Later in that year of 1949 I met Reub Martin (for the first time) who was then touring England in those days with the Folies Bergere, in which his act, the Trois de Milles, was being featured. 

Reub Martin Performing with the Trois de Milles.
Photo from "Legends of the Iron Game" - 
Bill Pearls outstanding Three Volume Set:

From Reub I learned the value of the handstand press-up and the pressing of dumbbells simultaneously. As a matter of fact it was while in Reub's dressing room that I first cleaned and pressed a pair of 100 lb. dumbbells, a feat of which I was very proud. Subsequently, my deltoid training revolved around: 

Handstand Press-Up - 5x5
Press - 4x5
Press Behind Neck - 4x5
Dumbbell Press - 4x5.

At first I found it rather difficult to perform handstand presses after my other exercises, so I performed the handstand presses first. In this way I could regulate the amount of weight to use on the other three exercises, but I could not regulate my bodyweight on the handstand presses.

Chest exercises invariably followed the deltoid exercises mentioned above. I was never what I would personally classify as "naturally strong," because I had to use all my willpower in training in an endeavor to handle heavier poundages. I also employed the stabilizing principle, i.e., using five sets of five repetitions, with the first two sets being warmups and the final three sets of five repetitions with heavier weights.

 On the other hand, I have met others who had strong constitutions and who were able to handle heavy poundages more easily, but I had to train hard to increase any strength. And knowing how keen MD readers are on poundages, I am, therefore, listing some of the weights I used in my training up until 1958: 

Press - 300 lbs. x 1
Press Behind Neck - 300 x 1, 260 x 4, 240 x 8
Dumbbell Press, Standing - 120's by 5, 140's x 1
Bench Press - 500 x 1
Incline Press, Dumbbells - 185's x 5.

Recently, because of having less time to train due to the pressure of business, I have given more thought to my training than ever before. Because I am now satisfied with my pectoral development, I no longer do any chest exercises, other than 5 single repetitions on the bench press to retain my muscular tone. Since I consider the press behind neck the best all-round exercise, I not only do it standing  five sets of five repetitions, but I also do 5 sets of eight reps while sitting on a bench. Bentover lateral raise with dumbbells or parallel bar dips always follow this pressing exercise and are employed to develop the rear portion of the deltoids, using five sets of eight repetitions to complete my shoulder routine: 

Press Behind Neck, 5x5
Press Behind Neck, Seated, 5x8
Bentover Lateral Raise, Dumbbells, 5x8 or 
Parallel Bar Dips, 5x 8
Bench Press, 5 single reps.

The poundages I handle are usually:

Press Behind Neck - 160x5, 180x5, 200 x 3 sets of 5
Seated Press Behind Neck - 160x8, 180x8, 200 x 3 sets of 8
Bentover Laterals- 25's by 5x8.

I feel I should also include the side lateral raise with dumbbells, but time does not permit me except on rare occasions to do this exercise. 

I also perform back exercises after my deltoid workout. The first exercise is usually the chin behind neck. I feel confident that this exercise also benefits my rear deltoids. I also feel it helps to keep my shoulders supple and allows me better control of my clavicles and shoulder structure when posing. Also, at the present time I no longer do willpower, strength/bodybuilding training.

The poundages listed above are performed almost completely with muscle strength, and strangely enough, I seem to realize even greater muscle response from this type of training than I experienced when handling much heavier weights. MD readers might also like to try this method for greater muscular improvement. 


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Steve Merjanian - Vern Weaver (1965)

Bill West Spotting Merjanian at Muscle Beach

Click Pics to ENLARGE


Meet "Powerhouse" Steve Merjanian
by Vern Weaver (1965)

 In this modern era of strength athletes there are very few men who can equal or surpass the great feats of Steve Merjanian. He is truly a man of super strength.

Steve began his athletic career as a high school football player. He attended Manual Arts School in Los Angels and was chosen all city lineman in 1952 and '53. Steve also participated as a wrestler during this same period.

When Steve began weight training twelve years ago he was interested in becoming a bodybuilder. However, somewhere along the line he must have been extremely impressed by great feats of strength, because his present training routine consists of mostly POWER exercises. Everything he does is a great feat of strength. He employs stupendous poundages. 

Steve is capable of performing the following feats: 

Seated Incline Press (60 degrees) - 470 lbs.
Bench Press - 500 
Press Behind Neck - 335
Dumbbell Press - 190's for 2 reps
Front Lateral Raise - 165 lb. dumbbell.

As all great athletes, he has set for himself very definite goals. He intends to do an incline press with 500 pounds; also press a pair of 250-lb. dumbbells. I have no doubt that he will succeed in these feats. In fact I think he will surpass both goals. No telling when or where he will stop. 

Steve has an overabundance of drive and energy. Here in California we refer to him as a "swinger." Needless to say, he trains every day.

He is periodically employed as a movie extra. In fact, he had a very energetic role in "Muscle Beach Party." Big Steve is also the proud owner of a jewelry shop in downtown Los Angeles. (How about a nice watch? Only $29.95, guaranteed for 30 months.). When he isn't doing any of the above mentioned occupations he can be found at any one of the major film studios employed as an electrician foreman.

Steve's diet consists mostly of juices, meat, and eggs. He made no references to milk or supplements. I did not pursue the subject further, although I do assume that he never leaves the table in a state of starvation.

I have never seen a man as big as Steve with such an amazing symmetry. He maintains relatively small hips, thighs and waist. Of course this is no accident. Obviously he has planned his training schedule well. 

As I mentioned earlier, Steve trains seven days a week. WOW! He mentioned that he is very much in favor of running. He runs at least twice a week. That's a real athlete. Steve is one heavyweight who doesn't fit into the lazy category. It's a pleasing change.

Steve's routine is as follows: 


Dumbbell Press, 5x7 reps
Dumbbell Laterals, 5x7
Front Dumbbell Raises, 5x7
Pulley Rowing Motion, 5x7 
Dumbbell Curl, 5x7
Dips, 5x7
Lying Triceps Extension, 5x7
60 Degree Incline Press, 10x7 reps, 7x1 with max minus 20 lbs. 
Bench Press, 5x7.


Calf Raise, 10 to 15sets x10 reps
Pulley Forearm Curl, 10-15x10
Pulls on Pulley Machine (for posterior deltoids), 10-15x10
Standing Triceps Extension, 10-15x10
Running, approximately one mile.

As you can see, his training days are somewhat flexible.

As in the the case of most athletes, Steve has a source of inspiration. In his case it just happens to be the "Mystery Man of the Iron Game" - Chuck Ahrens. They are both members of the Bruce Conner gym in Westwood, California. I can assure you that there is a lot of iron being hoisted around there when these two men are training! 

In case you're interested in Steve's measurements, they are as follow: 

Arms, 20.25 inches
Forearms, 18.5
Chest, 59.75
Waist, 39
Thighs, 28.5
Calves, 19.5
at 280 pounds bodyweight. 

In closing I'd like to mention that Steve is now in the process of writing a book on building greater body power. But between his training,  movie work, and jewelry store his time is very limited, but he hopes to finish it one of these days and reveal the his methods and those of others.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

More on P.H.A. - John McCallum (1968)

Originally Published in This Issue (May 1968)

Last month we discussed a break-in program for PHA training. This month we'll examine PHA in some detail, and then give you a slightly more advanced program to work on.

PHA, if you don't already know, stands for Peripheral Heart Action. It's a new system of weight training. To the best of my knowledge it was developed by former Mr. America Bob Gajda. Gajda and other top physique stars such as Sergio Oliva have used PHA in their training with apparently good results.

PHA is presently sweeping the country. Like all new wrinkles it has its proponents and opponents. A lot of claims are being made for it, some sound, some obviously exaggerated. The truth, as with most ideas, seems to lie somewhere in the middle, somewhere between the two extremes.

PHA is too new a concept for any accurate statements to be made regarding its value. More time and experimentation will be needed before all the facts can be formulated. Some aspects of PHA are, however, coming into sharper focus. Some of the questions concerning it can be answered with at least a fair degree of accuracy.

Let's take a look at three questions most commonly asked: 

(1) Will PHA training build muscle? 

Any kind of weight training will build some muscle. The worst program in the world is better than nothing at all. The fact is, though, that some systems of training build muscle far faster than others. Heavy squat programs and high set pumping programs with forced protein intake are specifically designed to build muscle as fast as possible.

In its present state of development, PHA doesn't appear to build muscle rapidly. It's doubtful if PHA by itself will build a really massive physique and there's no sense telling you it will. If you're still in the bulking up stage, you'd be better off to stick to the short, heavy, bulk and power routines for the time being.

 (2) Will PHA training build good health? 

Yes. The production of buoyant health is PHA's most outstanding contribution to the field of physical culture. Conventional training has one major flaw from the standpoint of good health - it doesn't provide quite enough stimulation for your heart and lungs. Sound, sturdy lungs and a bombproof heart are an indispensable part of good health. PHA training provides cardio-vascular stimulation far in excess of conventional training routines. If good health is your principal goal, and it's a worthy one, then PHA will solve your problems.

(3) Will PHA training build definition? 

Yes. PHA is un

Definition used to be gained by long, grueling workouts and a semi-starvation diet. PHA gets it better results in one-tenth the time and with none of the muscle loss and exhaustion produced by the old style workouts.

At this stage of the series, we'll be using PHA strictly for definition. We won't be concerned with its muscle building properties. We'll use it strictly for definition. You can take any other benefits you reap as an added bonus.

Let's take a quick look now at the technique of PHA training, and then we'll get into the actual program. You don't need to be an authority on the subject, so we won't dig too deep. You're probably more interested in results than theory, anyway.

The principle difference between PHA and conventional training is the practice of pumping. You don't pump in PHA. You don't do multiple sets in the standard fashion. You do sets, but in a different way.

In conventional training, your exercises are grouped into sets.

You take one exercise at a time an do as many sets of that exercise as you plan to do before moving on to the next exercise. Once you move on to another exercise you never go back to the first one until the next workout.

Take curls, for example. You do a set of curls. Then you rest a minute or so. Then another set of curls. Then another rest. Another set of curls, and so on for anything up to 15 sets.

When you finish your final set your biceps will be pumped. They'll be swollen and congested with blood an finished for the workout. Then you go and do the same thing with another exercise.

Not so with PHA. In PHA training you do your exercises in groups of five or six. You do one set of exercise one, one set of exercise two, one set of exercise three, and so on right through the group. Then you go back and repeat the procedure. A second set of exercise one, a second set of exercise two, a second set of exercise three, and so on. Then you go back and do a third set of each exercise in the group. You keep running through the group for as many sets as you plan to do. When you're finished with the first group of exercises you move on to the second group and treat it the same way.

The exercises in each group are spread out for different sections of your body. You may do a biceps exercise, for example, and follow it with a calf exercise and then a stomach exercise. The idea is to not congest the blood in any section of your body. You pump the blood through all the sections, not just into one of them.

Another difference is the rest factor. You stop for frequent rests in conventional training. It's not uncommon to rest five minutes between sets if you're training real heavy. You don't rest at all in PHA training. You keep moving from the time you start the workout till you finish it. You go right from one exercise to another with no rest period in between. If you're puffing so hard you simply can't do the next exercise, then you walk back and forth till your breathing slows down a little but you never sit down and stop completely during the entire workout.

This continuous motion principle has a tremendous effect on your endurance and definition. Your endurance climbs rapidly while your excess fat disappears like a magician's rabbit. Two or three months of this kind of training will convert you from a shapely fat man to a rock hard, superbly conditioned athlete.

The continuous motion principle eliminates all wasted time from your workouts. A little imagination will show you the possibilities. You can do the same amount of work you have been doing in about one-quarter of the time, or you can work out for the same length of time and do about four times as much work.

The final factor you must consider is the warmup. Most men do very little warming up in conventional training. Some do none at all. For PHA it's essential that you warm up thoroughly. There's a number of very complex physiological reasons for this. We won't go into them at the moment; just remember that a muscle works best when it's warm and receiving a sufficient supply of blood and oxygen.

Spend at least 10 minutes warming up. Skip rope, run on the spot, pushups, situps, anything you want. Run through some of the exercises in the workout with a very light weight. Be sure you're fully warmed up and puffing a bit before you start the workout.

Now for the workout itself. Do as follows:

Group One
1) Front Squat, 12 reps
2) Cuddle Situp, 25 reps
3) Curls, 10 reps
4) Seated Twist, 25 reps
5) Wrestler's Bridge, 10 reps.

Do one set of each exercise, from #1 to #5. Then a second set of each, then a third set, and so on for five sets of each. Use about 50% of your best exercising poundage for the first set, about 75% for the second set, and all the weight you can handle for each of the last three sets.

Don't sit down and rest between exercises. You don't have to make a race out of it, but go as fast and steady as you comfortably can. If you absolutely can't do the next exercise, then pace back and forth until you can. Don't dawdle and never stop completely.

Group Two
1) Incline Dumbbell Press x 10 reps
2) Situps x 25
3) Rowing x 12
4) Bent Forward Twist x 25
5) Calf Raise x 15

Treat this the same as Group One. Work right through the group five consecutive times. 50% of your exercising poundage for the first set, 75% for the second, and all you can lift for each of the last three. Don't get frantic about it, but don't loiter either. Keep on the move.

Let the dumbbells go way out to the sides at the bottom of exercise 1. Keep your elbows way back and don't let the weights fall inward. Use a close grip for exercise 3 and pull the weight to your lower abdomen. Arch your back at the top of the movement and round it at the bottom. Don't let the weight touch the floor. Make it a dead hang pull.

Group Three
1) Hyperextensions x 12
2) Leg Raise x 25
3) One-Arm Military Press x 10
4) Side Bend x 25
5) Close Grip Bench Press x 10

Do Group 3 the same as Groups 1 and 2. Five times through, 50% poundage for the first set, 75% for the second, and maximum for each of the last three.

Do exercise 1 off the end of a high bench. Drop down to right angles at the bottom and arch your back as much as you can at the top. Do the exercise in flawless fashion. Style is more important than the amount of weight you use.

Use a grip no wider than six inches apart for exercise 5. It's designed to work the triceps and anterior deltoids as much as the pecs. You might find it a little rough on your wrists at first. Stick with it and they'll soon toughen up.

The final step in the workout is the cooling down process. We want to keep the blood circulating at a good clip for a while after. You do this by running on the spot.

Run on the spot for 10 minutes after you finish the last group. If you can't run for 10 minutes, then run as long as you can. Walk back and forth for a while, and then run again. Work at it until you can do 10 minutes.

Do your running on the spot at a moderate speed. Lift your knees way up each step. This flattens your gut and burns up calories like a blast furnace.

Remember - this program is designed to harden you up. It's not intended for bulk. Work the program three days per week and stay on the definition diet. Do the running routine outlined in an earlier article on three of your alternate days.


We're going to bring your definition training to a peak next month, and then we're going to specialize on your showy muscles for a while. Summer will soon be here and you want to look your best for it.
Work hard on the program and you can be sure of one thing - when you step on the beach this summer, you're going to look an awful lot better than you ever did before  




Monday, October 16, 2017

New Wrinkles in Neck Work - Hugh Cassidy (1973)

This Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed

Why Do Neck Work? 

Many football coaches are aware that, like the arms and legs, the neck is simply another appendage jutting out from the body which must be exercised. It must be strengthened to withstand the violent head and neck blows coming from elbows, shoulders, knees, feet, heads and the pile-ups characteristic of the game. Besides providing protection, a powerful neck is often used as an offensive weapon in "spearing" onrushing linemen. It works with the shoulder as a lever to push the opposition in the desired direction. The report of the National Commission on Product Safety states that football players in the U.S. annually suffer from 250,000 to 500,000 brain concussions during play. If one receives a brain concussion, you can imagine the strain the neck had to bear. In 1970, 29 players were killed in football games. Most of the 29 fatalities resulted from head, neck, and spinal cord injuries. While many of the accidents are directly attributable to the inadequacy of the football helmet, one might guess that the statistics would be somewhat lower had the player performed sufficient neck training.

Boxers have long known the "secret" of preventing a "glass jaw" - by building a strong neck - a neck capable of withstanding blows which would easily knock out an untrained man. The neck's girth and muscularity act as a shock absorber and cushion much of the knockout blow and consequent head snap and whiplash which causes the brain to "bounce" inside the skull. Bobo Olson, former World middleweight boxing champion, often did teeth-lifting in his backyard and was known as a man who could take a punch.

In wrestling, of course, the neck is indispensable as a "3rd arm" in maneuvering the body and evading he pinning situation. Some other sports such as tumbling, trampoline work, and acrobatics require neck strength to a greater or lesser degree. A strong neck will certainly fare better in an auto whiplash accident and the possible collapse and injury liable from the squat bar rolling up your back!

Many bodybuilders are reluctant to work the neck, thinking that it takes away from the appearance of shoulder width in the judge's eye. Actually the neck crowns the shoulders and sets them off. A small neck and wide shoulders, on the other hand, will be sure to call attention to itself. No other body part, in my opinion, can quite substitute for the rugged look a massive neck will provide. Close-cropped hair will cause the neck to appear much larger than actual as it is head size compared to neck size that largely determines that rugged look. As the spinal erectors and trapezius both terminate at the base of the skull, full development of these muscles cannot be complete without neck training.

Here's a little more on neck training: 

And this way cool neck training approach by longtime Iron Brother and great guy Terry Strand:

Buy a 16" INNER TUBE from any bicycle store for about ten bucks. It will outlast you. Or take one hanging from a nail in your garage, like I did. You can use up to a 20" tube.
  • SET the pulley height at your forehead height on a CABLE CROSSOVER MACHINE.
  • HOOK one end the TUBE to a CABLE CROSSOVER machine by unclipping the handle and clipping on the TUBE.
  • SLIP the other end of the TUBE over your head like a headband just above your the photo above.
  • The cable will now be about HORIZONTAL, NOT coming up from the floor.
  • NOW you can stand and work your neck from front and back and sides depending on which way you FACE the pulley....face north, south, east, then west.
  • I 'invented' this exercise for myself about ten years ago and it works magic since it is so DIRECT on your neck muscles...yet nobody ever does these in all the gyms I have used.
  • The rubber of the tube really grabs your head so it doesn't slip off unless you are oily or sweaty, then you have to towel off if this happens. ALSO the rubber tube 'gives' slightly and cushions your neck against the exercise starts and stops.
You must go light to start with 2 warmup sets. I use no more than 4 plates on my Cable Crossover stack. Do reps, not max weights which will really screw you up.

How Strong is the Neck?  

There are many fantastic and unbelievable feats which have been performed with the neck and jaws. David Willoughby, in his great book "The Super Athletes," tells of Farmer Burns, the wrestling champion who demonstrated his neck muscles by having himself hanged in an exhibition, taking the drop as in a genuine hanging!

Also mentioned is the old-time Italian strongman and equilibrist (an acrobat who performs balancing feats, especially a tightrope walker), "Milo." One of his feats involved balancing a platform holding a man and a 400 lb. field gun and carriage totaling more than 600 lbs. And all of this was balanced on a pole on his chin! 

Willoughby also lists Joignery, a strongman at the Hippodrome in Paris in 1879, who supported for "several minutes" the weight of a horse and rider suspended from his teeth. 

Both Sigmund Brietbart and Alexander Zass (Samson) had amazing neck strength. These contemporary strongmen of the twenties could both drive well loaded wagons where the only connection between horse and wagon was the harness held in the teeth of the driver by means of a bit! 

My friend, Ottley Coulter, one of the last of the remarkable circus strongmen, could, at a bodyweight of 130 lbs., lift a 182 lb. dumbbell with his teeth while doing a handstand. 

Ottley's friend, the late Ed Quigley, with a 19.5" neck at 5'6" would, by way of a head strap while in the supine position on a bench, regularly exercise with 200 lbs. for reps! Joe 

Vitole owns the highest poundage in the teeth-lift (with hands on knees) at 550.5 lbs. as a middleweight! 

Warren Lincoln Travis has the world's record for the teeth-lift (with hands behind back - much more difficult) at 460 lbs! 

More recent are the feats of Bill Cook, North Carolina superheavy, who has balanced 400 lbs. on his head and pulled a "train" of several cars across a parking lot with his teeth. 

Mention should be made here that teeth-lifting, contrary to popular thought, is much more a test of neck strength than that of teeth or jaw. 

Hugh Cassidy on Teeth Lifting here: 
You might try some of the aforementioned stunts yourself on a smaller scale, then you can better appreciate the mindboggling power of a well trained neck. Maybe you will discover a new way to demonstrate your neck strength. I know of a barfly who used to amaze patrons with his ability to shell pecans with a forehead slam. This, however, is hardly a test of neck strength even if the fellow were to graduate to black walnuts and brazils!

Building a Strong and Massive Neck

There are many ways of building the neck and some are quite unusual. Gary Young, accomplished boxer, wrestler and former deadlift record holder in the 242's, has several interesting methods to build his massive neck. He does a headstand up against a wall and lets himself rock down and up on his head alternately stretching and flexing the neck muscles. He has done 200 reps in this manner. Guy Borelli also uses this method among others, but unlike Gary, finds it tears his hair out and often results in bleeding from the scalp. Gary will also lay prone and supine on a bench with the head extended over the end as a partner applies pressure to the head and jaw. Gary resists the pressure throughout the movement.

Another quite unique exercise of his is the "push-up" performed on the floor in the supine position. You place hands behind the head and attempt to push up and support your body by chin and toes alone. You can put a soft towel under your chin, and you'll need it. It's a real tough one!

Many fellows use the neck strap, but much weight must be used for this to be effective, as the changing leverages throughout the movement cause an uneven and incomplete stroke. The head strap's very construction is at fault here, as the straps holding the weight are made of cloth. This allows the weight to swing toward you as the head moves in its upward arc. To be most effective, the neck should be contracting throughout the lift. The weight therefore should move in the same direction as the head and I'll provide a solution to this later.

Some trainees use the wrestler's bridge with great effectiveness. This is an excellent method to build size and stamina. For some however, this position can be quite awkward, particularly for those like myself who lack this flexibility and for others who possess quite tender heads. It too can tear the hair out. This exercise often becomes less direct by the unconscious utilization of the feet as an aid in rolling onto the head.

Teeth-lifting is quite good but it has advantages and drawbacks. With teeth-lifting as with other types of lifting a certain amount of pain is to be endured. In teeth-lifting the strength of the neck can be directly measured in poundage, as opposed to other neck exercises where one counts reps and no great single effort can be made. Teeth-lifting does a good job in building the back of the neck but some other method will have to be found to build the front and sides where the sternocleidomastoid is found. The sweeping curve of these muscles are certainly the hallmark of a well developed neck. To get the front you can roll your forehead from side to side on a padded bench while on your knees. Bear down fairly hard while still continuing the rolling motion. 3 sets of 20-30 reps will do, the last reps producing a cramping feeling. In all neck exercises high reps seem more favorable toward development. In my experience, at least, anything under 15 reps fails to produce that worked feeling.

The Weighted Helmet

Of all the exercises, this is the one I prefer and is the basis for this article. I won't say I invented this, but the idea did occur to me in 1958 and I've heard of others using it since. Of course, there is every likelihood that this idea was put to use long before I was born.

I fixed a one inch pipe about 6" long to a screw into a fitting I had bolted to my helmet. Four short quarter inch bolts with lock washers are needed to hold the fittings (2 flanges) together. They are the only holes that need to be made in the center of your helmet. Use a standard barbell keeper (collar) to hold the weights on, procure a dell or type of strong chin strap and you're in business.

While the above contraption is relatively simple, I believe it to be a revolutionary advance in neck work. The movement with the helmet is far superior to the headstrap, as when the head moves the weight moves in the same direction and the finish position is just as difficult at the beginning.   

Before getting down to brass tacks, let me say that no neck looks really good unless well developed trapezius and deltoids lie on either side. Whether your aim is for looks and size or strength or both, it is a good idea to get the blood into the trap and delt area prior to your neck exercise. Upright rows do an excellent job of this besides building huge cut up delts and traps. I do mine with a Press grip (18") and raise the bar only to my sternum. Unlike the traditional upright row this method of performance allows one to use more weight and brings in greater deltoid involvement along with the trapezius. I do 4 sets fairly strict with 190x20, 215x15, 225x10, and 180x20.

Brass Tacks

The extremely soft tissues of the neck require more warming up than other body parts so load your helmet up with a poundage you can handle for 25 reps. 5 or 10 pounds may be enough if you have never done neck work before. One well developed bodybuilding friend of mine found the helmet alone sufficient for his first workout.

Get on your knees facing the side of your bench. Lean over with it with the fists supporting the chest and begin your movement at the bottom, thrusting as high as possible upward. DO NOT allow your chest to rise off your fists - this is a neck movement, not an exercise for the upper back!

Now for the front side of your neck. Get up immediately and lie across the bench on your back. Hold the weight with one  by the plate lip as you maneuver yourself into position. Stretch your legs out and flex lightly so you don't aid the movement by rocking. Again proceed for 25 reps. You've just done one superset. After a rest, repeat this superset, adding the proper weight so that you still get 25 reps. For your third set, add weight again only this time do 20 reps for each movement. The 4th and last set is the pump set. Reduce the weight and try for 40-50 reps on each movement.

After you get the knack, these four supersets should pump your neck very close to one inch and sometimes more. After three weeks (working three times a week), your neck girth will surprise you. That will be incentive enough to continue.

Add weight when you feel capable. You will quickly find that the neck is one of the fastest growing muscles in the body. I suppose that is because so little demand is made of it in everyday life. Your neck will also get powerful very quickly. I am able to teeth-lift a 250-lb. man anytime solely by training on the helmet. I can now handle 75 lbs. for 20 reps in both movements with the helmet.

Although I gained 25 lbs., my neck grew from 18" to 20.75" in a very short time with intermittent training. At 290 lbs. plus this isn't very big, but I'm still working on it. Guy Borelli, who has a rugged neck of 18.75" at 5'7" and 185 lbs. also uses the helmet but in a somewhat stricter manner. Lying lengthwise on the bench with the head hung over. Guy does strict full movements supine and prone.

If you want those "gorilla ripples" you'd better get started. Within a short time you'll be bursting out of your shirts, and friends will start calling you No Neck, and Bullet. There could be only one possible drawback to all this neck growth. You just might have to wash behind your ears more frequently! 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Teeth Lifting - Hugh Cassidy

Note: This article was first posted here in January of 2009. I'm reposting it with some great information provided by Mr. Morgan Norval. Thanks Morgan!!!

Info added by Morgan Norval (October 2017): 

"Hugh Cassidy trained at a friend's gym in Marlowe Heights, Maryland (same gym as the Mentzer brothers trained in). I rode up with Hugh the year after he won the powerlifting crown to the World meet in Harrisburg, PA, when John Kuc won it.

Hugh was a knowledgeable lifter who recruited and trained Mark Dimiduck, a Washington, DC, policeman who went far in powerlifting.

One of Hugh's favorite strength demonstrations was teeth lifting. He had a leather mouthpiece that he used, hooked to straps, to lift weights and other smaller lifters with his mouth clamped shut on the leather mouthpiece. Very impressive!

I forwarded this Hugh Cassidy article to my friend who owned the gym in Marlowe Heights and he emailed me that the other person in the upper photo (the person being lifted) was Gary Beltoya, a former Washington, DC policeman.

I fondly recall the old days at the Marlowe Heights gym - a great training atmosphere made up of serious trainers and some pretty strong individuals. Off the top of my head I can recall at least six Mr. DC winners that trained there. It was also the first gym in the DC area to get Nautilus machines.

To my knowledge, Hugh is still alive but retired from teaching in the public school system in Bowie, Maryland where he has lived for most of his life."

Teeth Lifting
by Hugh Cassidy

The first time I tried teeth lifting I knew I was in for a real challenge. There was a tremendous pressure on the teeth and jaw, and the facial bones around the nose and eye-socket area really ached. When I released the weight I felt the bones ease back into place and the pain was even greater, and later in the day the back of my neck was somewhat sore.

I had sent away for a mouthpiece after first making a cardboard impression of my teeth. Teeth lifting sounds fascinating and very unusual, and as I was interested in neck strength I thought this might help and add variety to my training. After that first experience I was ready to chuck the whole business. Being part Scotch, however, I was determined to at least get my money’s worth out of the mouthpiece. One of the first problems I had to overcome was gagging. The mouth and throat seem unwilling to accept anything inedible at first. It was only after whittling the strap shorter allowing more space for the tongue that I overcame the gag reflex.

Getting the Proper Fit

It is important that all of the teeth, especially the rear ones, fit onto the mouthpiece, yet the strap be no wider or deeper than necessary so as to allow tongue and mouth freedom and to prevent gagging. The mouthpiece has as extra layer of leather on each side to prevent it from slipping out should your jaw pressure relax or give out. These two layers rest against the front teeth and it is a good idea to put the weight down when you feel great pressure here of you’ll never lisp again! The pressure should be felt in the neck and molar area. Too much pressure on the front teeth is your warning of trouble and indicates the molar pressure is lessening. A well-known English bodybuilder lost a few ivories a while back by evidently ignoring the pressure on the front teeth. I had 360 lbs. about six inches off the floor trying to pull it higher. The audience was shouting encouragement and I was pulling for all I was worth despite the great pressure on the front teeth. I didn’t want to set it down and look like a quitter and yet my teeth were really beginning to move instead of the weight. So I eventually wised up and put the weight down. Sometimes an audience will make you overexert yourself and get to, or actually, injured. 

A good lifting mouthpiece sustained with a strong even jaw pressure will eliminate any strain on the front teeth. Without a good mouthpiece you’ll eventually have teeth so spread apart you’ll be able to gnaw an ear of corn through a picket fence. A well-fitting mouthpiece such as the one I recently had made and was a steal at $30. One can readily fashion his own cheaply with a little help from the local shoemaker, or send away for one. My teeth lifting partner Gary Beltoya put many hours in, whittling my mouthpiece to an exact fit. He worked from a plaster model of my teeth which my dentist (who thinks I’m nuts) made. Gary got a perfect fit, covering every tooth and getting the proper thickness of the outside layers even with the gumline. My strap is so constructed so that if one tooth goes, they’ve all got to go. Unless you’re eccentric or trying for a world record, or both, the regular mouthpiece will do nicely.

If your mouthpiece fits properly you will quickly find that teeth lifting is more a test of neck strength than that of teeth or jaw. I’d suggest a good warmup of the neck prior to a teeth lifting attempt, or else start very light. You’ll be surprised to find that you’re able to work up to over 100 lbs. quite soon. Even Bill Trueax, one of my training partners, was able to lift 145 lbs. on his first workout and he has no front teeth. Teeth development can serve two goals, that of neck development and that of strength. With practice and some heavy lifting, you can start lifting people with straps as well as weights. Lifting a human body never fails to elicit surprise and wonder in a gym or in front of an audience. Unfortunately, I stole the show from Santa Claus at a Christmas party last year. The kids completely flipped when I lifted Santa a few times. I was fatter than him but nobody seemed to notice. There are often comments of “Who’s your dentist?” and “He’s gonna break his teeth out!” Keep ‘em guessing if you will, but the secret of teeth lifting is in the neck. Long after your face and jaw and teeth become accustomed to the weight, the neck will still be the limiting factor as to how much you lift.

Feats of Teeth Lifting

Warren Lincoln Travis holds the World’s record in the teeth lift with hands behind back at 460 lbs. Joe Vitole, a middleweight, holds the record of 550 lbs. in the teeth lift with hands on knees. Others have approached these records. Both Alexander Zass (Samson), a traveling Russian strongman, and Eric Soeder, a Scandinavian circus strongman, were quite proficient in this lift. Pullum, the famous English chronicler, credits Zass with an unofficial training lift of about 580 lbs. consisting of a girder “weighing about 300 lbs. with a 10-stone man seated on each end.” Soeder claims a 550 lb. teeth pull, also unofficial. Both Zass and Sigmund Breitbart were able to drive loaded wagons where the only connection between horses and wagon was a “bit” held in the teeth of the driver. More common some years ago were the circus “iron jaw” acts where the performer hung from a trapeze by his teeth or slid down an inclined tightwire. Somewhat less bizarre, and easier too, are the feats of pulling cars and trains etc. with the teeth. In his fantastic book The Super Athletes, David Willoughby mentions the feat of Joe Tonti, who in 1945 pulled a five ton truck with his teeth while walking backwards on his hands! Needles to say, the feat of pulling an ordinary car is considerable easier – provided you are on level ground. The hard part is in starting the car rolling and overcoming inertia. Once it gets rolling the feat becomes one of endurance. One parking lot length ought to give you a good workout. As for freight cars, I haven’t tried one, but I’m told that the tracks and wheel bearings do 80% of the work.


If one desires to really elevate some poundage in the teeth lift, it would be advisable to incorporate into your program a few assistance exercises. Teeth lifting requires a strong lower back and good hamstrings. You will quickly realize this when you attempt reps and pull them as high as you can. Stiff-legged deadlifts will take care of both of these areas, and high reps are preferable. Also of value is some trapezius work. Both the spinal erectors muscles terminate at the base of the skull and are therefore much involved in teeth lifting. With the shirt off, it can be seen that the upper back and trap muscles flex quite a bit when teeth lifting. Shrugs, upright rows and high pulls will serve to condition this area. and if done just prior to your teeth lifting will help to get some needed blood and warmth to the affected area facilitating your first teeth lifting set. Direct neck work, of course, gets the area better and should be done next. Or, if you prefer, go right to your teeth lifting, starting with a low poundage for reps to avoid neck injury. I like Frankenstein’s sidekick Igor for five days once after failing to do a few warmup sets. In Igor’s case it was, unfortunately, somewhat worse as his neck was broken from a hanging and never healed properly. 

For my teeth lifting, I use a stout chain about two feet long with an S hook on either end. I loop this through an 85 lb. block weight for my warmup of 20 reps. The hooks, of course, hook right on to the ring on the end of the teethstrap. You’ll have less jiggling and be able to set the weight down more firmly if you get a block weight or facsimile, or use a stopper of some sort on one end of your chain and load from the other. Some fellows wrap a chain several times around an Olympic bar and lift using the hands lightly on the weights for balance. In any case, don’t get a kink in your chain, as if invariably comes out during your lift and can give you quite a head snap. Sets of 10 and 20 are great for developing the back of the neck as well as serving as warmups for the maximum triples, doubles or whatever. My present routine for teeth lifting consists of the following:

Deadlifts – 335x8, 435x8, 505x8.
Upright Row (press grip) – 115x15, 135x10x3sets, 115x15.
Neckwork – 40x25x2, 55x25x2, 70x15, 70x20, 50x30x4.
Teeth Lifting – 85x20, 150x15, 200x10, 250x5.

The neckwork is done by means of a helmet with weights loaded on a pipe on top. Second and third numbers above in each group represent supersets working the front and back of the neck laying on a bench with head hung over. All of the above is done twice a week except for the rows which are done three times a week. I’ve only had one trial with my new mouthpiece, but it looks like I’ll be able to improve on the 360 which really isn’t very good as teeth lifts go.


Your light teeth lifting sets can be raised much higher than the heavier sets and you should try to lift it is high as possible. If not too heavy, you’ll be able to stand fully erect. Heavier poundages only come about 6” off the floor as the back, leg and neck strain is so terrific. The legs are used a lot in this lift and the neck tends to stay in a rigid isometric condition as the weight gets heavier. For more neck involvement, throw the head up at the highest point of the lift. This again can only be done with the lighter sets. When lifting a maximum weight you may have to pull a few seconds longer, but once you get it started you’re sometimes good for a triple. At times it will feel as though your teeth, gums, eyeballs and even the whole face is going to tear right out, but keep pulling a mite longer and the weight will slowly rise. Often with maximum attempts, as in other lifts, a psych condition is the only thing that’ll get it going.

Staggered Deviation - Greg Merritt and Paul Carter (2017)


50 Years Ago:  

More by Paul Carter:

More by by Greg Merritt

greg merritt

Unless you're training like a powerlifter, hoisting heavy weight, over and over, you don't need to rest very long between sets. Cutting rest periods can help you burn more fat and keep your workout intense.

You can, however give the muscle you're working a rest by shifting your attention to another area that may need more work - like maybe your calves or biceps.

Enter staggered sets!

The execution is simple: Insert a set or two  of work on a smaller muscle, unrelated to the primary muscle you're working, between sets of your main exercises. For example, if you're training legs, you'd do all four sets of the leg press and then two sets of curls. Or, one set of leg presses followed immediately by curls. And since you're not hitting any of the same muscles, staggered sets shouldn't affect your primary muscle target - though they may tire you out. The result is more volume for that particular area and more calories torched overall, as you're not just sitting on your arse "resting up."

You'll thank us later.

Staggered Set Basics

 - Train a smaller bodypart during rest periods between a bigger bodypart's sets. Make certain the smaller bodypart isn't stressed during compound exercises for the larger bodypart.

 - Abs, calves, forearms, and cardio are the best candidates for staggered sets.

 - The classic method of staggering sets is to alternate one set for the smaller bodypart between every two or more sets for the larger art.

 - Try to plan combinations that you can do in the same workout area. For example, dumbbell flyes and crunches can be done on the same bench.

 - Don't stagger sets if you need the rest period to recover from an exhausting set. 

There are three ways to do staggered sets:

Unrelated Supersets

Alternate a set for a bigger bodypart with one for a smaller, unrelated bodypart. You probably won't want to do as many sets for the smaller bodypart, so skip supersetting one or two sets. For example, if you do 16 sets of 4 exercises for the back, do 12 sets of 3 exercises for the calves.

Asymmetrical Combos

Do one set for the smaller bodypart for every two or more sets for the larger bodypart. For example, complete one set for abs between every two sets of arms, and after 12 sets for biceps and 12 for triceps, you'll have also cranked out 12 sets for abs. This is the classic method of staggering.

Between Exercises

Perform one set for a smaller bodypart between exercises for larger bodyparts. For example, throw in a wrist curl set after completing every leg exercise, and over the course of a workout consisting of four exercises for quads and three for hams, you'll squeeze in seven sets for forearms, almost without noticing.

Problem Areas

Choose from these examples designed by hypertrophy specialist Paul Carter to enhance these commonly lacking bodyparts.

Weak Point: Rear Delts

Staggered with Arms Sets

1A. Barbell Curl, 3 x 10-12
1B. Bent Lateral Raise, 3 x 10-12

2A. Incline Dumbbell Curl, 3 x 8-10
2B. Standing Cable Rear Lateral Raise, 3 x 10-12

3A. Triceps Pushdown, 4 x 15
3B. Band Pull-Apart, 4 x 20

4A. Seated Dumbbell Bench Press, 3 x 10-12
4B. Cable Face-Pull, 3 x 12-15

Weak Point: Calves

Staggered with Back Sets

1A. Lat Pulldown, 4 x 10-12
1B. Standing Calf Raise, 1-2 x 15-20

2A. Barbell Row, 4 x 6-8
2B. Seated Calf Raise, 1-2 x 15-20

3A. Low Cable Row, 3 x 10-12
3B. Leg Press Calf Raise, 1-2 x 20-25

Weak Point: Forearms

Staggered with Quadriceps Sets

1A. Leg Extension, 3 x 20
1B. Behind the Back Wrist Curl, 3 x 20

2A. Leg Press, 3 x 20
2B. One-Arm Reverse Cable Curl, 3 x 12

3A. Back Squat, 2 x 12-15
3B. Hammer Curl, 2 x 10-12

Weak Point: Upper Chest

Staggered with Hamstring Sets

1A. Leg Curl, 6 x 8-10
1B. Incline Flye, 6 x 10-12

2A. Stiff-Leg Deadlift, 3 x 6-8
2B. Incline Dumbbell Press, 3 x 10-12

3A. Good Morning, 3 x 15
3B.Wide-Grip Smith Machine Incline Press, 3 x 8-10.

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