Monday, November 20, 2017

The Impressive Areas - John McCallum (1968)

Originally Published in This Issue (July 1968)

Once upon a time there was an enthusiastic young man who trained very hard weights. He wanted to look like Mr. America - only more so. He took York supplements wisely and he went through all the proper training routines. He bulked up with power training, high set pumping routine, and enough food to supply the British 8th Army. When he began to get a little soft looking, he hardened up with intensive P.H.A. training, running, and the definition diet.

At the end of the first cycle he owned a strong, shapely, muscular physique. Still he wasn't satisfied.

"Something," he said, "is lacking." 

One evening he went into the living room to discuss the problem with his father who was watching "Star Trek" on the television.

"Dad," he said. "I'd like to ask you something." 

His father was crouched on the edge of his chair and leaning tensely forward.

"Dad," the young man said. "You know more about bodybuilding than anyone else I know." 

His father stared straight ahead.

The young man spoke louder. "Sir," he said. "I consider you an authority." 

His father stirred slightly. "Thank you, Mr. Spock," he said. 

The young man shook his father's shoulder. There was no response.

"Sir," he said. "I've got a problem. I train real hard. I get results. But I still don't look good enough. How fast can I reasonably expect to improve?" 

There was no answer. 
"At what speed should I improve, sir?" 
His father looked at him. His eyes were glassy. "Eh?" 
"What speed, sir?" 
"Warp seven, Mr. Suto." 
The young man leaned down and looked carefully at his father for a long time. He turned and looked at the television. He watched it for a while, and then very slowly and without taking his eyes off the screen he pulled a footstool towards him and sat down. They sat side by side in the semi-darkness and watched the flickering figures. Finally the crew beamed back aboard the Enterprise. The ship broke orbit and streaked away. The picture faded and the commercial came on with a burst of fanfare. The young man's father leaned back and exhaled slowly. He looked around. "Hi," he said. "Just come in?"
"Not exactly," the young man said. "I wanted to ask you a question."
"Does it involve money?" 
"Okay," his father said. "What is it?" 
"It's about my training," the young man said. "I don't look good enough." 
"You look real good," his father said. "What're you complaining about?" 
"I don't know," the young man said. "I seem to lack something." 
"Take off your shirt," his father said. "Let me have a look at you."

The young man took off his shirt and his father studied him for a moment.

"I know what it is," the father said. "You're ready to specialize on your showy muscles for a while."
The young man stared blankly at him.
"There're certain muscle groups that are more showy than others," his father said. "Generally speaking, they're the areas where untrained people show no development at all. When these areas are highly developed, they look incredible to the average person. The three most impressive areas are the deltoids, pectorals, and abdominals. Develop them to the maximum and you'll look like something from another world." 
"Like in 'Star Trek'?" the young man said.
His father gave him a cold look. "What you need to do now is to specialize on those areas for a short time. It'll transform you from merely looking good into looking sensational." 
"Okay," the young man said. "Tell me how." 
"Work out six days a week," his father said. "Work the specialization areas on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Work the rest of your body on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On your specialization days, do this:
 "Start with seated presses behind neck. Do 5 sets of 7 reps. Use a moderate weight for the first set, a little more for the second set, and all you can handle for each of the last three sets. Use a wide grip and work up into very heavy poundages. Use the rebound style. Don't let the bar rest on your shoulders between reps. Just touch the back of your neck and drive it right up again.
"Next, lay face down on a 45-degree incline board and do dumbbell lateral raises. Do 4 sets of 10 in rigid style. Don't worry too much about the poundage. Hold the position for a split second at the top of the movement.
"As soon as you finish, lay on your back on the incline board and do forward raises with a light barbell for 4 sets of 10. Keep your arms straight and do these in strict style also.
"Your last deltoid exercise is a bit different. You use weights and cables both. Tie plates to the handles of the cables. Then do lateral raises using the weights and cables simultaneously. This keeps tension on your deltoids all the way - from the cables at the start and from the weights at the top of the movement. Work hard and do 4 sets of 10.
"Take a short rest and then start the pectoral work. Begin with incline dumbbell presses. Do 5 sets of 7.  Moderate poundage for the first set, more for the second set, and all you can handle for each of the last three sets. Keep the dumbbells well out to the sides all the time. Use a 45-degree incline and work into very heavy weights.
"The next exercise isn't too well known. You need flying rings suspended about shoulder-width apart. Get into position face down with your hands holding the rings and your feet on a bench or something about the same height as the rings. Bend your arms a trifle. Now, keep your elbows locked in that position. Don't bend your arms any further, and don't straighten them out. Let the rings go out to the sides while your body drops down between them. Now pull the rings together so that your body is levered up again into the original position. Pull the rings together till your hands meet and then squeeze your hands together for a split second. Do 4 sets of 10. It takes a little getting used to, but it's the best localized pectoral exercise. 

"The next exercise is the flying exercise on the incline board. Do 4 sets of 10.

"Take a rest and then do your abdominal work. Start off with incline situps alternated with side bends. Do the situps 4 sets of 25 and the side bends 4 x 50. Do 25 situps. Then 50 side bends with the weight in one hand, and then 50 more with the weight in the other hand. Now another set of situps and then another set of side bends as before, and so on for 4 sets each. 

"When you finish the situps and side bends, alternate high bar leg raises and seated twists. Do 4 sets each, 25 reps for the leg raises and 100 reps for the twists.

"That completes the specialization part. On alternate days work the rest of your body.

"Start with prone hyper-extensions. Do 3 sets of 10.

"Now do your squats. 5 sets of 5. Use the first two sets to warm up on, and go all out for poundage on the last three sets.

"Do a light set of pullovers after each set of squats.
"As soon as you finish the squats and pullovers, go to the calf machine and do 5 x 25 on the calf raise.
"That completes the leg work. Now you do wide grip chins behind the neck. 4 x 8. Tie weights around your waist for added resistance, and try to work up into fairly heavy poundages.
"From there you go to your arms. Do incline bench dumbbell curls alternated with triceps extensions on the lat machine. 4 sets of 8 reps each.
"As soon as you finish your workout, put on a heavy track suit and go for a run. Run about two miles at a nice easy pace.
"Keep your protein intake high. You don't have to cut out carbohydrates completely, but keep them to a minimum. Stick to meat, eggs, cheese, milk, fish, and poultry for the bulk of your diet.
"Take supplements. Vitamin/mineral. some form of oil, and the best protein supplement you can afford.
"Now," the young man's father said. "Do you think you can handle all that?" 
"I'll try," said the young man. "And you figure it'll make me look more impressive?" 
"I guarantee it," said his father. "You'll get mobbed when you step on the beach this summer." 
"Good," said the young man. "Any idea how I can hold off the admiring hordes without hurting them?" 
"Certainly," his father said. "Set your phaser on stun." 



Sunday, November 19, 2017

Get M & F'ing Huge, Parts One and Two - Andrew Gutman (2017)


35 Years Ago

60 Years Ago

More by Andrew Gutman:

by Andrew Gutman (2017) 


The go-to bulk-up formula is often to add weight to the bar, reduce the reps, rinse, and repeat. It'll work, but it's not optimized for maximum results. In fact, a review of 15 studies published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that periodized training - implementing various training phases in one program - had a greater effect on performance improvements compared with programs that applied no variance.

And that's what Pat Davidson, Ph.D., had in mind when he developed Mass, a 16-week periodized program that trains all your energy systems, or pathways.

Get a Copy Here:

"If you don't train a particular pathway, it won't develop," says Davidson, a New York City-based personal trainer. Just one underdeveloped pathway can lead to diminished strength, lackluster conditioning, and less muscle mass. 

Davidson's Mass regimen, he's adapted to an 8-week program for Muscle & Fitness, targets one pathway per workout and requires balls to the wall intensity from start to finish - but it's worth it. "If you complete this program, you're going to put on muscle mass and get a lot stronger," he says. "You'll also be a grittier, more confident person." 

Day 1:

Work Capacity
Davidson named this specific protocol "Staring Down the Barrel of a .45" since you'll be completing 45 total reps for your first two lifts, resting 45 seconds between sets. This combination of high volume with minimal rest is designed to increase your work capacity and trigger a huge hormonal response. "The moderate load combined with the short rest periods is going to create a lot of metabolic stress," Davidson explains. "The person should get a pretty significant growth hormone response, which should last up to 72 hours post lift. This increases your potential to build muscle and burn off some fat." 

How to Do It 
Perform exercises marked A, B, and C back-to-back, resting only after the last exercise is complete.

Day 1: Follow this Percentage Chart for the Back Squat and Bench Press -
Set 1 - 65% of 1 rep max
Set 2 - 70% 1RM
Set 3 - 75%
Set 4 - 70%
Set 5 - 65%
Set 6 - 70%
Set 7 - 75%
Set 8 - 70%
Set 9 - 65%
all for 5 reps, 45 seconds rest between each set.  

Back Squat, 9 sets of 5 reps - 45 seconds rest between sets.
Bench Press, same as above.
Seated Cable Row, 3 x 10 - 45 secs rest.
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press, same as above.
1A) Dumbbell Curl, 3 x 10 -> go immediately to
1B) Triceps Pushdown, 3 x 10 -> go immediately to
1C) Dumbbell Lateral Raise, 3 x 10.

Day 2:

Davidson uses Triphasic Training, a lifting protocol invented by strength coach Cal Dietz, that breaks down each lift into the lowering (eccentric), static (isometric), and lifting (concentric) phase.

Coming Soon:
You'll focus on just the eccentric, as "an eccentric tempo puts your muscle fibers under tension for longer, which should lead to a greater adaptive response and can help your muscles grow much faster," Davidson says.

The Takeaway - the more overall fibers you recruit, the greater your potential for overall strength.

How to Do It
For the first two main lifts, use 80% of your 1 Rep Max. For the accessory work, complete exercises marked A, B, and C back-to-back, resting only after the last exercise is completed.

 Note: For tempo (e.g., 6-0-0) - The first number is the lowering phase of the lift, the second is the pause (in this case there is none), and the third is the up (raising) portion.

Deadlift, 5 sets of 2 reps, Tempo 6-0-0, 120 seconds rest between sets.
Incline Bench Press, 5 x 2 reps, Tempo 6-0-0, 120 seconds rest.
1A) Romanian Deadlift, 3 x 10 reps, Tempo 3-0-3 -> immediately to
1B) Pushup, 3 x 10, Tempo 3-0-3 -> immediately to
1C) Seated Cable Row, 3 x 10, Tempo 3-0-3, 45 seconds rest.
2A) Dumbbell Skull Crusher, 3 x 10 -> immediately to
2B) Bentover Rear Delt Flye, 3 x 10, 45 seconds rest.

Day 3:


This day is all about building muscle through time under tension (TUT), which is achieved with a high rep count. Unlike the other three days, you'll have a little more time to rest between sets and supersets, but you should be reaching failure at 15 reps for every set. "It's still a pretty decent load if you really are pushing yourself hard," Davidson says.

Back Squat, 3 sets of 15 reps, 150 seconds rest between sets.
Bench Press, 3 x 15, 150 secs.
1A) Reverse Dumbbell Lunge, 3 x 15 -> immediately to
1B) Bentover Dumbbell Row, 3 x 15, 45 secs.
2A) Dumbbell Curl, 3 x 15 -> immediately to
2B) Triceps Rope Pressdown -> immediately to
2C) Dumbbell Lateral Raise, 3 x 15, 45 secs.

Day 4:

Performing three full-body exercises as a circuit taxes your major muscles, sends your heart rate soaring, and improves your efficiency in each movement. "Because the volume is reduced by about 50% compared with Day 1, it's not as stressful on the system," Davidson says. "It just feels that way, because while you're doing it, it's just vicious - this workout will kick you in the butt every time you do it."

Complete all three exercises as a circuit. The goal is to get 15 reps per move and to do the reps within 30 seconds - if you get 15 before the second window is over, stop. Rest 30 seconds between exercises, then 2 minutes between rounds.

1A) Deadlift, 4 sets of 15 reps, 30 seconds rest, then to ->
1B) Bench Press, same ->
1C) Squat (either front or back), 4 sets of 15, 2 minutes rest.
Walking, set the incline of the treadmill to 15% and walk at a pace between 2.5 and 3 mph for 20 minutes.

Order Here:


Last month we introduced you to Mass, an 8-week program that targets one energy system (or pathway) - like your strength, work capacity, conditioning, or amount of muscle mass - per workout to ensure complete development.

In Part Two of Mass, Pat Davidson, a personal trainer in New York City, a former professional strongman, and the creator of this routine, sticks to the same basic formula but changes a few things around. Here's what you can expect during the second block:

 - Two of the four main protocols, "The Deuce" and "Static Shock" will be different compared with last month, while the other two will remain the same but with lower reps. "It's a basic linear progression," Davidson says. "The volume (a.k.a. sets and reps) is going to be cut back a little, but the intensity (weight lifted) is going to be higher."

 - You'll notice that there are two new protocols - "Arm Farm" and "Delt Domination" - added to Day One. While Davidson stands by traditional compound movements such as the squat and bench press for building strength and size, he also acknowledges that every guy wants jacked arms and shoulders. Consider it a gift, a painful one we might add, from him to you.

 - You'll see more timed sets, specifically in "The Deuce." It's a hellish way to build some serious muscular endurance and mental fortitude, but it works. Just ask Davidson, who, at a bodyweight of 225 pounds, squatted 425 for 8 reps and benched 360 for 2 after running this program. If you need to rest at the top of the movement, that's fine, but do not put the weight down at any point

Day 1: The Deuce

Target, Work Capacity
This day is meant to increase the amount of weight you can handle for high reps. Also, this training day will cause a huge release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone, which will carry over into the rest of your training for the week, making you stronger by bolstering your recovery.

Start with 70% of your 1 Rep Max for both lifts. Perform the bench press for two straight minutes, aiming to accumulate as many reps as possible. Then rest four minutes and repeat for the deadlift. That's one round, and you'll perform three. If you get more than 65 total reps for both moves in one round, increase the load to 80%. If you get 56 to 65 reps, increase the load to 75%. If you accumulate 55 reps of less, keep the weight the same.

And remember, do not put the weight down at any time.

1A) Bench Press, 3 sets, 2 minutes straight, rest 4 minutes, then ->
1B) Deadlift, same as above.

Next, go to . . .
"Arm Farm" -
Perform both protocols once through as a giant circuit. "Do not rest at any point or drop the weight down," Davidson says.

All exercises performed for 10 reps.
Overhead Dumbbell Extension ->
Dumbbell Curl, palms up ->
Dumbbell Skull Crusher ->
Zottman Curl ->
Cheat Hammer Curl ->
Dumbbell Shoulder Press ->
Incline Dumbbell Press.

Now, move on to . . .
"Delt Domination" -

Front Raise ->
Lateral Raise ->
Dumbbell Shoulder Press ->
Incline Dumbbell Press ->
Dumbbell Bench Press.

Day Two

Target: Strength

"Static Strength"
Instead of taking six seconds to lower the bar, as in last month's program, you'll pause at the bottom part of both the incline bench press and the back squat. This isometric hold will increase your muscular stability and also help you produce more power from a static state, carrying over to your regular-speed sets. For "Tempo" the first number represents the lowering portion of the lift, the second one is the static (paused) position, and the last one is the concentric (up) part of the lift.

Use 80% of your 1RM for the first two lifts. As for the accessory work, perform moves marked with with A, B, and C back-to-back, resting only after the last exercise.

Squat, 5 sets of 2 reps, Tempo 0-6-0, 2 minutes rest
Incline Bench Press, same as above
1A) Romanian Deadlift, 3 x 8 reps, Tempo 3-0-3 immediately to ->
1B) Pushup, same as above ->
1C) Cable Row, same as above, 1 minute rest.
2A) Barbell Curl, 3 x 8 -.
2B) Dumbbell Skull Crusher, 3 x 8 ->
2C) Bentover Rear Delt Flye, 3 x 8,  1 minute rest.

Day Three 

Target: Hypertrophy
Like last month, this day will reflect a more traditional bodybuilding-style workout. You'll perform each lift for sets of 12 reps to increase your time under tension (TUT) to trash your muscle fibers so they recover and in turn grow larger.

Perform exercises marked with letters in succession, resting only at the end of each superset.

Deadlift, 3 sets of 12 reps, 150 seconds rest between sets
Bench Press, same as above
1A) Reverse Lunge, 3 x 12, immediately to ->
1B) Dumbbell Row, same as above ->
1C) Dumbbell Curl, 3 x 12, 60 seconds rest.
2A) Rope Pushdown, 3 x 12, immediately to ->
2B) Lateral Raise, 3 x 12, 60 seconds rest.

Day Four

Target: Conditioning
If you followed along last month,then you're no stranger to this arduous protocol that has you perform a circuit of multi-joint movements. This particular workout will still target all your major muscles, jack up your heart rate, and elicit a huge hormonal response. The only difference is that instead of 15 reps, you'll perform 10 but with heavier weight.

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds with the goal of getting 10 reps. (If you get 10 before the 20-second window is done, stop.). Then rest 40 seconds and move on to the next exercise. After you perform all three exercises, rest for three minutes between rounds.

1A) Deadlift, 4 sets of 20 seconds, 40 seconds rest, then to ->
1B) Bench Press, same as above ->
1C) Squat, same as above.
Treadmill Walk, set treadmill at 15% incline and 2.5 to 3 mph and go for 20 minutes.

Delt Training - Vern Weaver (1963)

Article Submitted by Liam Tweed

Usually the average person who has never been concerned about bodybuilding is very impressed by huge shoulders. Maybe you have attained some very impressive measurements such as 18" arms and 28" thighs but unless you have developed a good set of wide shoulders even the average person can sense that there is something missing.

Some very lucky individuals have naturally wide looking shoulders. By naturally wide shoulders I mean someone who has never exercised, but has wide shoulders nonetheless. Aren't you envious? The natural width of the shoulders is constituted by the length of the clavicle bones. The longer the clavicle bones, the wider the shoulders. If we intend to increase our shoulder width beyond the natural width the clavicle bones create we must increase the size of our deltoid muscles. So, let us concern ourselves here with the muscles which cover the shoulder joints, the DELTOIDS. 

The delts consist of three main segments. 

I will refer to the front part as the Anterior segment, the side part as the Lateral segment, and the rear part as the Posterior segment. All exercises found in this article do stimulate the complete deltoid to some extent, however, in most cases one segment will receive more benefit than the others. In order to avoid any unnecessary confusion I shall list each exercise and describe the effects of each. I will also point out the segment which is mostly effected. 

1) Military Press and Dumbbell Press:
These exercises are listed together because the movement is the same, so the effects are almost identical. Regardless of how much weight is used or how many repetitions are employed this exercise will primarily stimulate the anterior segment of the deltoid. 

2) Press (From Forehead Level Off The Rack): 
This (partial range of motion) exercise stimulates the deltoids incredibly. The weight is pushed from about forehead level to lockout position. A maximum amount of weight should be employed. This is one of the very best deltoid exercises in use today. I would say it effects all three segments approximately the same. This aspect makes it even more attractive. Maintain a very erect position. A wider than average grip is advisable. 

You may be seated on a bench if you prefer. In fact it can be of an advantage because you will be able to maintain a more erect position. Naturally this exercise should be done with maximum poundages, however, very good results can be obtained through the normal reps and sets system.

3) Bench Press:
This exercise is used chiefly to develop the muscles of the chest and arms, but as usual it is impossible to do any pressing movements without effecting the deltoids in one way or another. In this case the anterior segments of the deltoids receive a thorough workout. Most better than average bench pressers will a superior anterior deltoid development. Please take note.

4) Cleaning Movement:
This is another exercise which affects the complete deltoid muscle. It would be very hard to isolate the effects of this particular exercise to any one of the three segments, therefore it serves as a very good all-around deltoid exercise not to mention the other benefits derived from this movement.

5) Dumbbell Laterals On Bench:    
This exercise stimulates the anterior deltoid muscle much the same as the bench press except for the stretching movement involved. The higher (toward the head) the dumbbells are forced the more deltoid action you derive.

6) Standing Dumbbell Laterals:
This exercise stimulates the entire deltoid, but it mainly effects the lateral segment. This is a general favorite of bodybuilders throughout the world. The results which can be obtained from this exercise are limitless.

7) Forward Dumbbell Raise:
Again, as usual this exercise effects the entire deltoid, but in this case the anterior segment is the primary target. When this exercise is done slowly and concentrated one can obtain maximum contractions in the deltoids. It is a good exercise to obtain muscular separation of the deltoids.

8) Chinning:
Although this exercise stimulates many body parts the posterior deltoids receive a severe workout. Anyone who does a great abundance of chins will develop very superior posterior deltoids.

9) Bentover Rowing:
This type of rowing works the posterior segment of the deltoids, although it is considered a good lat exercise. Many men have used this exercise in order to get that big, w-i-d-e look and this exercise will do it.

10) Forward Incline Dumbbell Lateral:
Last but not least by any means is the forward incline lateral raise. It is a fabulous exercise for the posterior deltoid. I certainly recommend this exercise.

Two Arm 

One Arm 

All of the 10 exercises listed are very well known and need little explanation. I am sure you employ most of them in your present routines. In fact there are many of you who do most of them in each exercise period. There is a possibility that you may be doing too many exercises which target the deltoids and the result is that you are overworking them. Don't do too many at any one training session! 

True, the deltoids are a strong group of muscles but they are not of great mass and one must be careful not to overtrain them. The lifter puts great stress and strain on them while exercising many other body parts.  Every time a lifter makes a lift he puts unusual stress on the deltoids in one way or another. 
If you have noticed there are some lifters who do not have sufficient deltoid development to withstand the necessary stress and strain of lifting. These same individuals train like madmen on the Press in order to increase their pressing poundage. The main reason they cannot gain is because they continually overwork their deltoids. Some people can survive such punishment, but most cannot. If one keeps in mind that his deltoids are one of his MOST VULNERABLE BODY PARTS he will make much more progress in the long run. 
Naturally it is necessary to train rather heavy in order to obtain superior deltoid development, but you must not handle too many heavy weights in a single workout because you will not recuperate before the next scheduled workout period. 
Try to list several upper body exercises you can do when you have a "bum" shoulder. You will find that you are very limited. This proves just how important your deltoids really are. Many bodybuilders are so interested in getting big lats and pecs that they forget all about the deltoids.
To me there is nothing worse than a lifter with well-developed lats and pecs that are lacking equally developed deltoids. This type of development very unnatural and phony looking. Even in Mr. America competitions you can find this type of development, so as you can see it is not very unusual. This fact does not rectify the case. The only thing that could possibly remedy the situation would be proper training methods. Even more basic than that . . . COMMON SENSE. 
General Application
If your deltoids are definitely lagging in development you should do something about it. Base all your upper body routine around your deltoids. Do your heavy pressing and cleaning movements first in your routine. Place your other body parts as secondary. All the exercises listed above are very good ones. Regardless of which exercises you choose, very favorable results can be obtained if you follow my simple suggestions. 
I realize that there are other body parts to be considered during every workout, so in order to avoid overworking the delts try doing two (2) heavy exercises listed in this article. NO MORE. Do approximately 5 sets of 5 reps. You should choose at least one shaping exercise listed also. Approximately 3-4 sets of 8 reps. NO MORE. Remember, the heavy exercises encourage more growth than you may realize! 
Otherwise continue in your usual manner. This simple change could make a day and night difference in your development and strength. I certainly wish you the very best. 
Vern Weaver

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Forearms - Bradley Steiner (1979)


Chuck Sipes

Casey Viator

Frank McGrath 

Massive Forearms Can Be Yours
by Bradley Steiner (1979)

There's certainly no denying that large upper arm muscles rate high in popularity among bodybuilders. This has always been the case, as far back as I can remember, and, judging from some of the routines being urged today as "guaranteed to build 20"-plus biceps," huge upper arms STILL promise to rank high on the lift of "must have" items on the agenda of the bodybuilder of the 21st century! 

Still, even considering the importance attached to the biceps and triceps, it is impossible to overlook the enormously impressive appearance that powerful, large FOREARMS impart to their possessor! I am, I admit frankly, more impressed by a pair of rugged looking forearms and thick wrists than I am by over-bloated biceps. 

Forearm muscles are PRACTICAL muscles. And I don't mean "practical" for impressing some idiot who gasps when he shakes a strong man's hand. I mean that well-developed forearms are - OF ALL THE MUSCLES IN THE ARM ASSEMBLY - the singularly most useful for practical, everyday needs. On the job, good forearm development makes work easier, and delays fatigue brought about by working with one's hands. At play, strong forearms often permit us to play a better game of tennis, maintain a better control in golf, etc. And, in an emergency, a hefty pair of strong forearms can be a formidable aid in self-defense. In climbing a rope, ladder, or scaling an obstacle, the forearms are brought more heavily into play than any of the arms' muscle groups. And tell truth: Don't you envy the guy who, in normal street attire, rolls up his sleeves nonchalantly and reveals massively bulging sinewy forearm development? 

The Bone Structure Question

To start off I want to make it clear that your inherent bone structure will determine, to a degree, how much forearm and wrist development you can obtain. The most massively-impressive forearms can be attained, obviously, by those who start with the most favorable natural potential - the endomorphs and mesomorphs (big-boned and medium-boned people, respectively). Small-boned people (like myself) have the disadvantage of not being able to develop size that is actually "huge," yet still, these small-boned trainees can often LOOK huge, because even an slight, slight size increase shows up tremendously anywhere on the slender natural frame. 

So, nobody can be a loser in this quest for forearm development. Only a few exceptional people can build forearms like clubs, but all of us can guild a good pair of forearms - with effort! 

How the Forearms Work

The forearm muscles work when:
a) The wrists bend or turn
b) The fingers clench
c) The hands hold onto something
d) The arms support and lift.

Quite obviously, from the list above, you can see that the forearms come into play OFTEN, even when we are engaged in activities far removed from training.

The key to organizing an effective forearm specialization course is to duplicate an intense form of workload that forces the forearms to exert themselves in a manner conducive to their growth.

One particular myth that has build up around forearm development (and that I'd just as soon clear out of the way now) is the notion that forearms are an especially "troublesome" part of the body to develop, or are, in many cases, "the most difficult" body muscle to build. Nonsense. Forearm training, put simply, is TOUGH and PAINFUL. But if you do it, you'll build big forearms, and it will only be a short time until you do! 

I am going to introduce you to a rather special piece of training equipment. It is easily made up from an ordinary dumbbell bar, and is called a "leverage bar" or "leverage bell." All this is is a dumbbell loaded with a moderate weight AT ONE END ONLY. When the free end is grasped and held, the weighted exerts a force of leverage against the grip retaining the bar, and thus the name "leverage" bar. There is probably no finer device in existence for developing all-round forearm size and power. And here I am taking into consideration the "wrist roller" device when I say this.

To make up a leverage bar simply remove the sleeve from one of your dumbbell bars and use two collars to lock a small (say 2.5 to 5 lb.) plate at one end. That's all you need to do! This leverage bar can, incidentally, be improvised by using a 15 inch length of strong broomstick and cementing a cement-filled tin can on one end. You'll never need a heavy weight in the exercise I'm going to teach you, so a homemade, improvised leverage bell of fixed-weight is just fine.

Here is a book chapter by David Willoughby on Leverage Bell Forearm Training: 

Stand erect and hold the leverage bar at your side, arm straight down. Slowly raise the bar until it points directly forward. Hold it, feeling the force of gravity all the time. Now lift the bar to a position where it is pointing upward, all the time keeping your arm at your side, and using wrist and forearm strength alone. Lower the bar deliberately to the side, then repeat the sequence. I would suggest that this be done in the following set/rep scheme, every-other-day: 

3 sets of 12 complete reps, each arm. The important thing, I caution you, is FORM. It matters not a bit how little weight is on the bar. In fact, for many new pupils, the bar alone might be enough, with even 1.25 lb. plates being too much resistance!

This is a leverage-resistance movement, please remember. That means that it HAS TO FEEL AWKWARD. That very "awkwardness" is what's making the exercise productive. It is imposing an unusual stress on the forearm muscles - one they'd not normally get. 

One other excellent exercise: 

Stand as you did before, holding the bar at one side. Now move the weighted end in a complete and deliberate circle using the strength of the supporting hand and forearm ONLY, until one full repetition - one way - is completed. Reverse the circle, and do a full movement in the opposite direction. Repeat. I suggest 3 sets of 12 circles (6 each way) per arm. 

The wrist roller is a good forearm developer, but I don't think everyone can gain well from using it. Personally, I find it effective, but I recall instances where I placed people on a wrist roller schedule and the results were, to put it politely, marginal.

I suggest that, if you're interested in developing your forearms, you TRY the wrist roller, to see how well you respond to its use. You needn't buy one (though they're very inexpensive). You can make one from any short, thick, rounded length of wood by drilling a half-inch diameter hole through the center. Pass a two-foot length strong cord through the hole, knot one end, and presto . . . you've got a wrist roller! Tie a weight to the free end of the cord and you're ready to stand on a block or a bench and "roll" the weight up on the wooded support by turning both ends of the piece. When the weight reaches the top, "unroll" it, and roll it again when the rope is fully unwound. Again, some people gain on this and others don't. It's worth a try- that's for sure! I recommend the following as a good wrist roller routine: 

Wind and unwind steadily for 10 minutes without a rest, using a moderate weight, and forcing the wrists and forearms to do all the real work. Do this every other day. NOT in conjunction with the leverage bar exercises. 

Finally, WRIST CURLING with a light barbell rates very high as an excellent forearm builder. This exercise has not, to my knowledge, been known to fail in helping anyone who used it correctly, to build great forearms.  

Hold a light barbell in your hands - palms up, as for curls - and sit down on a bench or stool, permitting the forearms to rest on the thighs, hands extended with the bar in their grasp. Permitting only the wrists to bend, lower the hands and raise them rapidly, while maintaining a tight, TIGHT grip on the bar. Speed it up! Don't count reps! Keep going! After a while your hands and fingers will burn unbearably. This is never harmful, so don't worry. Gradually, your wrists and fingers will seem to melt and fall apart. The bar will then drop to the floor. At that point (if you push that hard - and you should) you'll notice that your forearms grew about an inch! They'll feel so congested and tight that it may worry you. Well, stop worrying. Do another set instead. Same way.

Wrist curls can be done with palms facing down as well, if that style suits your fancy. In fact, I'm going to give you this variation in your program, which is to come shortly.

Whenever doing any exercise for the forearms always keep in mind that THE TIGHTER YOUR GRIP THE BAR, THE BETTER THE RESULTS WILL BE. You can increase the value of any forearm exercise you do simply by tightening your grip on the bar.

A Forearm Specialization Routine

Up to now I discussed the major and best forearm exercises, with recommendations on how to use them in the most efficient set/rep schemes. Now, let me outline two fundamental forearm routines, the first for a relative beginner, and the second for a rather advanced fellow. Remember these basic pointers regardless of which routine you employ:

1) Train three days a week. NO MORE. 

2) Always work as STRICTLY as possible, and with as much concentration on correct movement as you can muster. 

3) Do not train slowly - try to keep a forceful, rapid pace when training forearms. 

4) Use a weight that is only as heavy as you can properly manage.

5) Keep a tight, TIGHT grip on your bar! 

A Beginner's Course

1) Seated palms-up barbell wrist curls, 1 set of 30 reps

2) Seated palms-down barbell wrist curls, 1 set of 15-20 reps, done as soon as possible after the first exercise. 

3) Leverage bar circles, 1 set of 16 reps, each arm (8 circles each way before changing sides).

An Advanced Forearm Course

1) Warm up with 5 minutes of fast wrist roller work

2)  Seated palms-up wrist curls, doing 2 sets with a moderate weight VERY FAST until the weight falls out of your hands. 

3) Seated palms-down wrist curls, doing 2 sets with a moderate weight VERY FAST until the weight falls out of your hands.

4) Leverage bar combination movement: This merely incorporates the two basic leverage bar exercises into one, and is done as a single exercise. Holding the bar in the arm-along-side starting position, do one full, regular straight raise to an "up" position. Now, from there, do a complete circle, on one direction. Do a reverse circle, ending up in the "up" position. Lower to the side and repeat the entire sequence, 1 set of 6 movements each arm. 

No one can guarantee you'll develop the proverbial blacksmith's forearms, but I'll promise you great gains if you give one of these routines an all-out effort. Follow as schedule for six weeks, then discontinue specialization or staleness with set in. By the end of six weeks you ought to have a pair of forearms that puts your present ones to shame.

Here are some final tips:

Try extra hard to literally CRUSH the bar in your hands when doing any form of arm, shoulder, chest, or back exercise, as this sort of added effort adds materially to forearm exertion. Also, remember to make the still-legged deadlift with NORMAL GRIP your back exercise, instead of standard deadlifts - since this exercise most affects your forearms strongly. If possible, try your hand at rope climbing. This activity produces and maintains fantastic grip and forearm strength.

With the thoughts and instructions I've given you in mind, you can rest assured that you now know what is necessary in order to build a great pair of forearms. Only one thing is needed beyond the knowledge, and that is the doing . . .   


Powerful Arms - Chapter Six - David Willoughby

Leverage Dumbbell - Wrist Abduction 

 Wrist Twister

 Left - Press With Leverage Dumbbell
Right - Leverage Bar Curl, contraction

 Left - Leverage Bar Curl, extension
Right - Zottman Exercise

Chapter Six
Exercises for the Forearms

Two groups of muscles importantly concerned with the size, strength and appearance of the forearm are the groups that act to flex and to extend the wrist. The flexor group of muscles bends the wrist so that the hand, or closed fist, is brought closer to the forearm on the palm side. The extensor group of muscles bends the wrist in the opposite direction, so that the back of the hand is brought closer to the forearm on that side. Two combinations of these flexor and extensor muscles bend the wrist sidewise also, so as to bring the hand toward either the little finger side or the thumb side.

It is the action of these forearm muscles on the hand that determines the strength of the “wrist”. The wrist itself is merely a joint, formed by the juncture of the forearms bones with the bones in the base of the hand. Like all other joints it has no motivating power in itself, but merely provides a flexible connection whereby the muscles on one side of the joint may, through their attachments, move the bones on the other side.

Since the forearm muscles with which we are here concerned act to move the hand in different directions in relation to the forearm, the exercises required to bring about development of these muscles are those commonly regarded as tests of “wrist” strength. What such exercises really are, however, are tests of the forearm muscles operating through the wrist-joint.

The regular two-arm curl and the reverse curl barbell exercises, in addition to developing the flexor muscles in the upper arm, have also a strong effect on the forearm. The curl with palms turned develops the flexors of the wrist; the curl with the backs of the hands turned upward develops the extensors of the wrist. The curling of a dumbell, or a pair of dumbells, with the handle of the bell kept pointing fore-and-aft, develops the abductors of the wrist, those forearm muscles that bend or sustain the hand sidewise toward the thumb side. 

A single exercise for the flexor muscles that act on the wrist is to curl a barbell with the hands alone while is a sitting position, the backs of the forearms resting on the thighs and the hands extending beyond the knees. First pick up the barbell using the under-grip (palms uppermost), then take a sitting position with the forearms supported on the thighs as stated. The exercise consists in raising and lowering the hands while maintaining a tight grip on the bar, making the hand movement as complete as possible without moving the forearms. A greater bending of the wrists is made possible if the bar is grasped with the hands rather wide apart. This exercise can also be performed with one arm at a time, using a single dumbbell. This allows the wrist to be flexed a little further toward the little finger side, with added benefit to the inside forearm muscles.

The muscles on the backs of the forearm which extend the wrist, may be similarly exercised by performing the foregoing movement using the over-grip, that is with the backs of the hands uppermost. As the wrist extensors are considerably less strong than the wrist flexors, a much lighter barbell or dumbbell should be used here than in the regular wrist curl with palms upward.

A splendid exercise that acts on the forearm muscles in a somewhat similar manner to the wrist-curling exercise just described, yet which requires only a few pounds of weight for resistance, is the exercise called the wind-up or wrist-roller. Secure a thick wooden dowel, about 1 ½ inches in diameter and about 2 feet in length. Midway between the two ends, bore a hole straight through from side to side. Run a piece of strong cord or light rope through the hole, and tie several knots on the end so that it cannot slip through. If it is inconvenient to bore a hole of the proper size, the end of the cord or rope may be tied to a screw-eye which is screwed into the wooden bar half-way between the ends. In either case, a barbell plate is tied to the other end of the cord. The cord should be of such length that after one end is fixed to the roller as described, and the other end tied to the weight, about 4 feet of cord remains between the roller and the weight.

Grasp the roller with the over-grip, near the ends, and hold it straight in front of you at the level of the shoulders, with the cord unwound to its full length. Wind the weight up to the roller by twisting the top of the roller away from you, twisting first with one hand, then the other hand. Each time you twist the rod, the wrists will bend exactly in the opposite direction. After the weight has been wound all the way up, hold the bar in a loose grip with the right hand, rest the other end of the bar on your left forearm, and let the weight unwind itself. Again take the proper grip on the bar, and wind the weight up again, but this time twist the top of the roller toward you. Repeat once more the forward rolling-up of the weight, once more the backward rolling-up, and at least once more the forward wind-up.

Twisting the top of the roller away from you develops the flexor muscles on the inside and inside-front of the forearm. Twisting the top of the roller toward you develops the extensor muscles on the outside and outside-back of the forearm. Since, as previously mentioned, the wrist flexors are much stronger than the wrist extensors, you will find that you can continue to repeat the winding up of the weight away from you after the muscles on the backs of your forearms are too tired to wind the weight up towards you.

Throughout this exercise the body must be kept erect, the hands near the ends of the roller, the roller horizontal, and the arms straight at the elbows. The object should be to wind the weight up in the fewest possible number of turns, thereby bending the wrist to their fullest extent and bringing the forearm muscles into complete contraction. As a matter of fact, one seldom sees this exercise being performed correctly, with the elbows straight and all the twisting confined to the wrists

Perhaps one difficulty lies in the holding of the bar at horizontal arms’ length. The strain on the deltoids, for many exercisers, is sufficient to divide attention, destroy concentration on the forearms, render the exercise unnecessarily irksome, and lead to sloppy methods of performance. 

Another variation which seems to be the best for concentrating on the forearms and performing the exercise correctly, is with the elbows at the sides and the arms bent at right angles. Remember, the roller must be kept horizontal, the wrists must be bent to their fullest extent each way, and the elbows must be kept in one position at the side. In this variation, it is necessary to stand on a chair or bench, in order to wind-up the full length of the cord.

An interesting form of exercise for developing the forearm muscles consists of leverage movements. Leverage movements are those in which great resistance is furnished without using much actual weight. The principle is that the lifting of an object, when the center of balance is at considerable distance from the joint, throws as much stress on that joint as the lifting of a heavier object that is held closer

Leverage exercises for the forearm and wrist can be performed very effectively with the ordinary adjustable dumbbell, by loading only one end and grasping the other end. The abductors of the wrist may be exercised by levering the dumbbell up and down as shown in illustrations. Continue the movement until the forearm muscles tire. The adductors of the wrist may be exercised by grasping the dumbbell handle with the thumb side of the hand nearest the end, and levering the bell up and down, the weighted end of the bell now being behind the body. A heavier weight can be used in this variation than in the former movement. Be sure to keep the arm stiff at the elbow in these two exercises; all the movement is done at the wrist alone.

The muscles that pronate the hand may be exercised by what might be called the wrist-twister. Grasping the leverage dumbbell, assume a sitting position with the right forearm resting on the thigh, the palm of the right hand being upward. Without removing the forearm from the thigh, slowly twist the wrist until the palm of the hand is downward (in other words, pronate the hand). Then slowly twist the wrist in the opposite direction until the palm is upward (that is, supinate the hand). This exercise should always be performed slowly and with the weight in full control; if you let the weighted end of the bell fall swiftly of its own weight, after it reaches the vertical position the wrist may be strained. Be sure to resist with your muscles during the downward movement of the weighted end, as well as during the upward movement. Exercise the left arm in the same way, making at least 10 or 15 repetitions.

Another use of the leverage dumbbell is to press it while holding one end. Standing erect, hold the bell as shown in the illustration. From this position press the dumbbell slowly to arms’ length overhead, keeping the handle of the bell in vertical position. This is a very effective exercise for most of the forearm muscles.

At this point, we might mention an interesting supplementary exercise for the upper arms, using a leverage barbell. Load the bell at one end only, and grasp the unloaded end with your left hand, using the over-grip. Grasp the bar with your right hand,
using the under-grip, as shown in the illustration. Now curl the weight with your right hand, bringing your right hand over to your left breast. Keep the left arm straight, and press downward with your left hand so as to make the fulcrum for this leverage movement. This exercise helps to develop the brachialis anticus, which is important in adding bulk to the upper arm. To exercise the left arm, reverse the position of the hands, also shifting the loaded end of the bell to the other side of the body.

A good supplementary exercise for the forearms as a whole is the combination movement known as the Zottman exercise. Stand erect with a dumbbell in each hand. Curl the right-hand bell, with the palm up and the wrist bent strongly upward. When the bell reaches the shoulder, pronate the hand (turn the palm downward) and lower the bell, keeping the wrist bent strongly upward as in the reverse curl. But as you lower the right hand bell, you simultaneously curl the left-hand bell, with the palm of the left hand up. And when the right arm is fully straightened, the left arm should be fully flexed. You then pronate the left hand and lower the bell, at the same time supinating the right hand and curling the bell in that hand. Both the arms work at the same time, one hand coming up as the other hand is going down, the upward movement being always a regular curl, and the downward movement always a reverse curl. The illustration shows the right hand coming up and the left hand going down. 

It is now opportune to mention an exercise of a different nature. This is to perform the floor dip while supporting the body on the tips of the fingers and thumbs instead of on flat hands as usual. This is excellent for developing great strength and toughness in the fingers and thumbs. Besides, it tends to offset the usual clutching movements of the fingers, and thus to make them more shapely and straight. The closer together the fingers and thumbs of each hand are placed on the floor, the more difficult and effective becomes the exercise. As your ability improves, the exercise should be varied by raising one or more fingers on each hand, pressing with the thumb and only one, two, or three fingers. Eventually, you should become able to perform the dipping movement while using only the two thumbs. Finally, see if you can develop the ability to dip while supporting your weight on your two index fingers. This latter feat denotes extraordinary finger strength, but it has been accomplished.

So far, we have presented the exercises that develop the flexor and extensor muscles of the upper arm and forearm; and the forearm muscles that flex, extend, abduct, pronate, and supinate the hand. Consequently, there remains to be considered those forearm muscles that account for the power of one’s grip – the “grasping” muscles of the fingers and thumb.

It should be borne in mind that in following a program of general body building with a barbell, the hands, wrists, and arms incidentally receive considerable developing work. That is, the grasping and manipulating of the barbell in each and every exercise compels a certain degree of development in the fingers and wrist, no matter which part of the body the exercise is particularly intended for. In some exercises, the grip is developed, and in others, where a fairly heavy weight is held on top of the palm, the strength of the wrist is improved. Thus, all this incidental work for the wrists and grip contributes to the development of the forearm and hand.

Exercises especially adapted for the development of unusual strength in the hand and fingers are largely of the nature of tests, stunts, or the specialties of noted strongmen. For this reason, such exercises will be presented in our book on The Kings of Arm Strength rather than dealt with here as regular body building exercises.


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