Thursday, May 31, 2018

Irregular Training and Specialization Methods

 I gotta say Thanks Big to Terry S for all the Bob Gajda stuff on my B-Day.
Much appreciated and enjoyed, Brother!

Here's a good bit of info from C.A. Smith and D.I. Hepburn.
Sent from the ghostly realms of greats gone on.
Or not.
Written by Charles A. Smith.
Douglas Ivan, right? You knew that.

In the Land of Lifters Past

The case for Irregular Training, or as Doug Hepburn calls it, "Haphazard Training," is directly tied up with the lifter's mental attitude to his sport. "Haphazard" and "Irregular"  may be misleading, though, since the training is anything but haphazard or irregular, being in effect an extremely intense form of specialization, in which the lifter concentrates all his physical and MENTAL resources on a particular lift to the exclusion of all others.

But there are two important points to remember:

1) The lift chosen is such that there is a definite need for the specialization, which not only leads to improvement in the particular exercise used but also helps to maintain power in lifts/exercises the trainee practices at other times.

2) Most importantly, the strength athlete MUST at the time definitely favor the exercise above all others.

Now, this is sound psychology since a task you ENJOY performing, you'll perform much more efficiently and with greater and more favorable results, results that come faster than by using an ordinary strength training program.

The lifter using "haphazard training" rarely keeps to a set schedule, but simply exercises when he feels like it, and not when he's "supposed to" exercise. Furthermore, he only uses the exercise that appeals to him at the time. If he feels like taking a good workout, he takes one and gives it all he's got. If he feels the least bit tired or has no inclination to train . . . he doesn't train. To some strength athletes, this system will seem to have little or no merit, but when you read this article to its conclusion, I am sure you will agree that there is a very sound basis for Doug Hepburn's contention that Irregular Training can benefit lifters, especially those who have come up against a stale period.

Some of the Iron Game's most famous personalities have used this Irregular method of training. Hermann Goerner, one of the strongest men to lift a barbell, trained in a haphazard manner. Arthur Saxon, another all time great and holder of the Bent Press record, was a strength athlete who didn't  follow a set routine, altho he trained every day. But Arthur must have really loved his lifting.

Doug Hepburn discovered long ago that this "haphazard" method of working out was perfectly suited to his temperament, and he's adhered to the approach ever since. The results he obtained speak for themselves. Doug has tried at various times to keep to a definite routine, performing a particular program at each workout, keeping track of sets and repetitions. But he repeatedly wound up going stale. Naturally the condition was merely temporary since he always returned to his normal training program, and made gains again. Nowadays he has discontinued this experimenting because he has proven to himself that the only way he can train and make steady progress is by utilizing irregular training methods.

Note: Over the years I've had the good fortune of talking in person with two elder lifters who trained at Hepburn's Gym on Hastings back when Doug was putting up those big weights. They both stated that he was very loose in his approach, and didn't think twice before backing off or even vacating the premises on an off day, or going with some variation whenever he thought it would benefit him. If the weights weren't going up as expected, he often HAD SOME FUN with other exercises and/or strength feats. Very playful would describe it well, but don't ever think hard work wasn't always a part of it. Unfortunately, if all you did was read his courses, you might easily be led to believe Doug was a "paper-based" lifter and a slave to the predetermined progressions. Far, far from it. From what I can gather after several conversations with these great guys, Doug was really in his natural element on the gym floor. Very loose but determined, very witty, and above all very HAPPY to be there under the bar. I believe a lot of his energy simply didn't translate well to his course write-ups. And remember, he was at a very advanced level of lifting, writing for those who lacked his experience and knowledge of their own lifting situation or of themselves as lifters at the time. Lifters online often agonize and bicker with one another over the "right" way to follow the "Hepburn" method, when in reality Doug was what you might call a "grazer" on the gym floor. From the time he drove up in that huge boat of a car in the early afternoon to the time he left for home in the evening, the lifting was going on. A set or two here, some instruction to a new member over there, another set 20 minutes or so later, a joke or a short classical recitation there, another heavy set half an hour later, some loud singing to annoy the membership, another set, giving advice on the phone and peddling protein powder and gym memberships . . . and on it would go. Some days he would walk on up to another lifter and take a set with whatever weight was on the bar in whatever lift the guy was working at. Then go back to his own "layout" after another rest. Nothing like the interpretation a lot of us have come up with from his courses, and they're damn good courses that'll bring you gains when followed as written. He had all the time in the world to do what he loved, and he took full advantage of it with long rest periods between sets. Both men I spoke with mentioned that they never saw him with a log book or a scrap of paper and a pencil writing and recording what set/rep/weight things he did. It was all in his head . . . and more importantly in his physical intelligence. At that level of lifting, and with his temperament, it was the most fertile environment for his own form of creating progress.

If you've been dropping by this site now and then for the last eight or nine years, by now you must realize that this "temperament" thing Charles Smith and others keep coming back to is an important consideration when figuring out your training approach(es over time). Some will find, at certain times in their always too short lifting lives, that they respond better to a very structured method. Others, or those same lifters at other times, will realize that they make the best gains with a looser, less structured perception of training. The bottom line here is, after enough years under the bar you are going to have to ultimately think for yourself, become very aware of your mind, body and emotional state in order to reap the greatest rewards from your training, and for that matter your diet and the entirety of your own life. YOU are the doctor analyzing and prescribing for your own current condition. You are the lab. If you have the right type of temperament, and if that realization still frightens you or finds you awash in a sea of uncertainty, learn to see the limitless expanse before you, the bright horizon of individuality now within view, and sail away to the lands those who are only able to slavishly follow set by set the routines of others can never know.
Them guys, hell, they're down below . . .

The original article continues here . . .

Perhaps it is advisable to indicate just who can gain by Irregular Training, and who will NOT find this method satisfactory. First, it should never under any circumstances be undertaken by a beginner or any lifter lacking enough experience. A man fairly new to lifting or bodybuilding has certain barriers to overcome before he can use this approach to training. Here we are talking in terms of years, not months, before a trainee is ready. He has to first set certain habit patterns. He has to have already obtained basic development of the main muscle groups, gained muscular weight, taught himself muscle coordination and become fully used to handling fairly heavy poundages relative to his ultimate potential. In other words, not only must he prepare himself physically for advancement, he must get his mind used to working for increased strength and muscle size.

Another type of strength athlete (and remember that bodybuilders can at times benefit greatly from strength training when appropriate) who can never gain of benefit from Irregular Training is the methodical, meticulous individual. This man finds it simply impossible to take a workout unless he has a prescribed schedule of exercises, sets, weights and repetitions. If he strays from his customary training path, missed a day in his predetermine workout plan, or uses a "strange" program for any considerable time it upsets his balance, to such an extent it takes him weeks to recover and regain his former condition. If you fall into this category continue training as you have always done. So long as you are following a good plan you will have no need to use a system such as Irregular Training.

Among those reading this article, I am sure there some who feel they have advanced as far in strength and development as their potential will allow. And there are also some who have hitherto made satisfactory gains but have hit a temporary stale period. For these advanced lifters and bodybuilders, Haphazard and Irregular training is the answer to all problems.

Any man who sticks to a routine for a lengthy period reaches a condition when he begins to regard his training as a duty. He still has a certain amount of interest, but his mental attitude gets less and less favorable. He has to force himself to exercise and doesn't enjoy a single workout. And one of the surest ways of snapping out of this slump is to perform exercises and/or lifts that are new, unusual, or have been previously used little by him on rare occasions. Invariably, interest in training will return, and gains in strength and development are made once again. It is at this point he realizes the benefits of Haphazard training.

Here's how Doug Hepburn utilizes this Irregular Training approach.

First, he has no set training days. However, he does get in a minimum of three good workouts each week, sometimes trains for several days with break, and he trains heavily. By heavy training I mean performing basic strength movements such as the squat, bench press, press, dead lift, hang cleans and snatches, high pulls, etc.

Doug has found that if he does not use one or more of these exercises on at least three occasions each week he drops back in all his other poundages. When he resumes use of the basic strength movements, he of course becomes stiff for the first couple of workouts. The specific exercise and length of time not performed also come into the picture here.

I've already mentioned certain basic movements. Training Irregularly means that you take any one of these movements you fancy performing and use it first in the workout, giving it every ounce of your energy. You work-play hard on this exercise, squeezing out the sets and reps until you feel the inclination to go on to another movement. If, however, if there's another lift or exercise which you desire to utilize, then you treat this one in the same manner as indicated above, thoroughly exhausting the muscle group before going on to the rest of the movements, should you chose to do more.

Note: In his first book, Jamie Lewis (  laid out the creative way he has trained. If you're liking what you've read so far here, check that book out. I think it was the first one, but can't remember. Maybe the first or second one. Possibly somewhere in the first three chapter of one of those two books. I'm pretty certain it was Jamie Lewis and by the way, have I told you what the home gave us for lunch today yet? For the love of god, man, I'm a senior now so cut me some bloody slack! Get off my late wife's pubic hair! I mean my lawn you bastard! Why does it feel so warm and wet now and where was I . . .

The time factor must be considered.

Most men train three times weekly: Mondays . . . Summers . . . . Zen Chocolate Eclairs. The man who is using the Irregular Training approach certainly gets in his minimum three workouts a week, but he keeps to no definite days. For instance, he may train on Monday and then again on Tuesday if he feels so inclined. Then he might not train again until Friday or Saturday, or train several days in a row and then take several days of rest.

Doug trains heavily two days in a row, especially if he feels he didn't get a really good workout on the first day. He thoroughly tires a muscle group or two first, and then makes sure they fully recover before he works them again.

Sometimes Doug will curl for three days in a row, doing every type of barbell and dumbbell curl, cheating and rigid forms, peak contraction curls . . . in other words he goes "curl crazy" for three straight days. Then he doesn't work again for biceps power and development for another week, performing only a few of the basic big movements mentioned above.

On other occasions he'll practice nothing but bench presses Every poundage he will insist on handling by himself, to and from starting position. Sometimes he'll start with light poundages and perform innumerable repetitions and sets before quitting. That's alls I can stands I can't stands no more. Other times he'll perform scores of single reps or sets of two reps with he heaviest poundages it is possible for him to handle on that day.

On still other training sessions he utilizes Standing Presses in the Irregular training approach. He'll start cleaning and pressing, working up in weight, and when it is no longer possible for him to clean the weight he'll take it off of squat racks and press it. When the poundage gets so heavy he finds it hard to keep good pressing form, he will use more of a continental style, and when this gets too difficult he will jerk the weights from the shoulders finishing off with a press-out. At such times he can start cleaning and pressing with 300 pounds and finish up jerk-pressing with around 450.

Doug maintains this style of training is far more interesting and produces greater results to the advanced lifter than any other method. Of course, it can readily be applied to any lift or exercise.

You will also notice that Doug changes the combination of sets and repetitions as much as possible. He will use, say, sets of 15 reps or as low as single reps, changing them as soon as he finds he is beginning to lose interest, or depending on how he feels and what he is striving for at the time.

As a lifter you will have to experiment with your workouts and find out just what suits you, how you react to the various combinations of sets and reps. Solon, the ancient Greek sage said, "Know Thyself" and it would be well for every lifter to strive to do so, for what one man can use with greatest possible benefit, another man will find not the slightest beneficial effect upon him.

Consider this quote from same . . . 

As an advanced lifter, it behooves you to consider many of the beginner's laws of lifting in such a way. There it is! After eight-and-a-half years posting these crazy articles I finally managed to work in that most outstanding word . . . BEHOOVES!

Some lifters find that they can use Irregular Training once a year and benefit greatly from it. For  example, take a whole month off from your usual training approach and in that period do nothing but Deep Knee Bends. Or Squats if you're living in this all important one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-repeated, never-happened-before modern day. You realize that, shortly before the fall of the Roman Empire, scribes composed fictitious accounts glorifying the accomplishments of military leaders and politicians, and the people accepted them as truth. Sound familiar? Anyhow, at the end of an intensive month you may be surprised to find you are much stronger and, after a short break-in period, your other lifts have increased as well.

Find out what particular lift you enjoy using more than any other at this time in your lifting evolution. Or determine which lift needs improvement more than any other and go to town on it. Make sure the tank is full before leaving and have a good breakfast beforehand. Full energy stores and a solid diet is what I'm trying to say metaphorically here.

Train whenever you feel like it. Train whenever you feel chock full of energy. Work the muscles until they are thoroughly exhausted and use a big basic movement while the muscle group is recovering.

For instance, if you feel like going on a bench press binge, devote the major portion of your workout to bench presses. Train on them three days in a row if you want an are up to it at this time. As soon as you feel them getting overly difficult to perform or the thought of using them becomes distasteful, take a complete rest-up on them by using squats and curls. When you feel rested enough, hit bench presses again and continue until you have exhausted their possibilities for the time being. Then you can pick another lift to use in this version of the Irregular Training style . . . the snatch, or the hang clean . . . any lift you currently enjoy performing.

This particular approach, when applied at the right time and under the right conditions, will enable you to advance beyond your expectations. It is definitely not an easy way of building up your strength, but it is an excellent specialization method.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Two Training S's To Be Avoided

A few short hours before I turn 65. Better make this post overly offensive if I wanna find out the answer to that ageless(!) question of vital importance to us all . . . 
Will you still love me, when I'm 64.
After midnight I'll have no way of knowing. 

Incidentally, I'm writing this entry while standing on my head, because, as we all know, when your brains are in your asshole everything's upside down. A mild touch of self-deprecating humor. Just what the ditchdigger ordered!  

Speaking indirectly of doctors, I was planning to post an article on "SUPERSETS" from the '80s, by a guy who was quite well known by his platform name. A much-loved compound lift preceded by "Doctor" is what it was, yes. 

Well, and this gets me round to the title up there in a roundabout way, the article was short on info and long on words, charts, data and tables. While reading it I swear I could hear the sound of shuffling papers and smell the odor of shit being shoveled. Shuffling and Shoveling! The two S's to be avoided in training. 


What's on paper can so often get in the way of what should be happening in the gym. And consider Bob Gibson, what a pitcher he was . . . No, consider all the shit that has to be shoveled to rationalize all that "on paper" crap created, especially when it's not working well. 

Stop shuffling paper and shoveling shit. Just get in there and lift already. Clear your mind and gains will follow. 
I mean . . . 

The guy went on for pages lauding the merits of superset training. He rolled out the scientific data in a wheelbarrow, this ditchdigger guy, piled some charts and tables on top of it and didn't even have the courtesy to flush when done. Shoveling like a motherfucker, as they say in Burma and Bataan. 

Look, if you wanna know why supersets are a great training tool (I'd go so far as to say splendid, gentlemen), just do four or five sets of benches paired with rows. If you're still not completely pitched on their efficacy, Mr. Gibson, do a few pairings of some kinda curl and a triceps thing. There. Now you UNDERSTAND the how and why of supersets 10 bloody times weller than any shuffling of papers can ever experlaine it in all its sciencitific lack of splendor.

At the end of this article there was another pile of it. This time, citations. Does anyone read this garbage? Not this blog and its changes of late, I mean the citations of research studies. I don't usually, but apparently in two of 'em here they got a bunch of white mice to stop screwing each other long enough to test out how supersets affect the strength and development of muscle tissue on the little buggers' drumsticks. They used rather small leg extension devices, I believe, and that's where I stopped reading. If these damned Bill Nye bastards don't have the brains to build little squat racks for the tiny mice used in research why should I believe anything they have to say. Needless to say, I paired tearing the article pages in half with tossing the scraps in the trash. One of the best supersets I've ever had the pleasure of performing. Did I neglect to mention my older daughter finding a mouse in the toilet at her place the other day? How insensitive of me. I mean, all life is sacred or some shit, and there the little gal was, paddling away in the crapper for all she was worth. She, the daughter that is, I'm not really sure of the mouse's gender to be honest, was on holiday for three days. When she gets back to house mouse was there. A long time mouse-paddling, a long time for any thing to keep swimming in circles. Now, I do know my daughter takes various supplements, and it dawned on me that our mouse may have first creepered up on the kitchen counter, gnawed through that plastic jar and chawed down a mouse sized fistful of desiccated liver tabs somehow. If it hadn't I imagine it wished it had once that cold toilet water hit. We tried flushing the living problem away, but it just kept on a-swimmin' against the current no matter. Finally, we put 'er in a smallish kind of plastic lunch type container, snapped the lid on, then proceeded to head outdoors, let 'er go and let run free back in wilds of city. If you truly love something you find in your toilet, as they say. All that swimming paid off! You realize, I'm sure, and agree with me when I state unequivocally that I believe this mouse was a Squat Mouse and not one-a them Leg Extension Type Mice. I rest my case. The research is in.    

But "what the hell is that silly looking car up there about?"

Why, I'm glad you asked. 

A week or so ago some dipshit on a motorcycle decided to try her luck beating a red light at an intersection I was left-turning at. Wound up with a couple dents on herself, as did my vehicle. Good times! There's nothing like watching some fool fly over the front end of your vehicle in the Friday rush. She limped a little going into the ambulance, but I think our young heroine is gonna be OOOO-KAY! 

Yeah, the repair place gave me a Nissan Golf for a courtesy car. Surprisingly, even though I asked the guy behind the counter, this cartoon Flintstone-looking shitheap of a vehicle did not come with a complimentary dunce cap.

Once you get behind the wheel everything becomes comic. Cartoon-like. Surreal in a silly absurd way. Even more than usual. So that's a big bonus for me. 

I took her for a spin up to the grocery store to pick up . . . wait for it . . . groceries. I'm checking out at the till and the cashier asks me 

"Do you want the Deal of the Week?" 

I look up from my wallet and she's holding a box of Band Aid brand Band-Aids.

As all truly faithful do, I managed to bring her into the flock, and soon we were singing 
real nicelike in no time. 

The deadbeat behind me in line did not share our joy, nor the depth of our faith in this song. 
As we in the Ministry of Elation say, "Fuck 'Em." 

All in all a good last day as a normal 64-year old. 

Shuffling and Shoveling. 
Avoid at all costs.  

And keep working on your Sedaris sense of humor too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Joe Weider's Father, and a New Book! Bonus!!!

Okay then. Here's a rare photo of Joe Weider's father holding the first lifting trophy Joe won in Montreal back in his early days. It's not the greatest quality, and neither is the photo, but I like this sort of thing. Now, feel free to post it all over the internet and viciously critique the life of Joe W. from the comfort of your computer chairs. That should help you attain what you want to attain before you die, right?

Click the thing for a minimally clear expanded view. 

Yes, there he is, or was, standing in front of a camera having his soul stolen,
as they used to say. Please forgive me for not having a better scanner or photo.
Please don't dislike or "think" less of me.
It matters so much to me!
Have you been practicing that Band-Aids song?
Come On!
"I am stuck on . . ."
You know the drill. 
15 minutes in the morning and
15 in the evening and
you'll be on your way to believing you have worth! 
What have you got to lose, other than

FLASH!  Amazing Bonus Book Offer available only to subscribers and imbibers of my Inner Septic-Tank Circle. Yes, for a limited time {computer generated email recipient's first name here}, you, yes, YOU can have the laughs big and smiles wide. Also, think of how impressive you'll appear to coworkers and fellow weight-lifting hobbyists after honing some of your own "sarcasm" and "darker brand of humor" . . . just like David Sedaris did! 

Yes, you too can impress your pets and stun your ex-wives ("Why did I ever leave that guy!") with top shelf "modernist" American humor. And in no time at all you'll be doing it anywhere! In the gym. At church socials. At the beach. While having anonymous sex with people you otherwise find disgusting who find you otherwise disgusting as well! It's what we at the Inner Septic-Tank Circle call a "Win Win" situation. 

Just click the link below and get set to shine!  

Available May 29th.

Vic Richards

Quite a physique! If you haven't heard of this man before you owe it to yourself to find some photos and check it out. Somewhat ahead of his time, you might say. Try to avoid reading any sleep inducing  criticism when you find sites with his photos. Too big, too smooth, too much drugs, not enough definition and on and on and on. Have a laugh at people who believe their comments, criticisms and views even reach the ears of anyone who's busy doing what they want to do and accomplishing what they want to accomplish. Here I'm not counting the whores selling falsified images under guise of free enterprise, something akin to the golden calf but their shit smells worse and it's bloody everywhere you look . . . SO DON'T FUCKING LOOK! It's the same story in life. Don't waste time and energy trying to please, impress, or best anyone else. There's a whole other perception that opens up once you leave all that tribal-societal crap behind for good. For your own good. The world becomes something quite different then, your mind functions at a much higher level, creativity soars and the meaning behind it all whispers in your ear at times. Just ask the ghost of Doug Hepburn late one night in the early morning hours.The inexpressible is precisely what it doesn't sound like. No one can find yours for you. Look closer. Is that a bush or a burning bush. What the fuck do you think I'm talking about.

It's incredibly simple to see from a view outside of yourself. Once you take on a group mindset you limit the depth and dimensions of your truthseeking. Once you allow the fear of thinking for yourself to be trodden on by the belief system of any tribal mindset, be it trainers, politicians, preachers, two-bit philosophers or ASSHOLES LIKE ME, you limit yourself enormously. Try to remember that the goal here, once you're beyond the childlike stages, is NOT to DO something, but to take what you can in the way of wisdom FROM THE DOING. Is that a bush or a burning bush. Hypertrophy or Epiphany? The more people and the more belief system cons you rely upon to gain that wisdom, the greater the chance of never really finding your own truth becomes. The mind. Go in 'er and out there on your own and stand alone.

Yes! It's the great human journey . . .
Right here on our Shakes-P stage:
Come on down and
Shave that ape off
Before your number's up.

On . . . off?
Down . . . up?

Quick historical note: In his day, Bill Shakespeare was known for owning a fine mastery of what we now call wordsmithery. At his peak, this phenomenal fellow's stage-celeb name, Shakey-B, could be seen knitted into the smocks and outergarments of many a young boy and girl.

Remember I mentioned Anthony Hopkins in the lead role of that BBC TWO presentation of King Lear 2018 a few posts back. "Bro, no. I just scan over everything but the lifting parts, and usually them too." I'm counting on that. So no worries!

Nonetheless and no matter, I got a chance to view that film today and one line stuck out:
"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods . . ." Yes! Some of us heavily muscled and possessors of above average strength, but still flies on the back of this rabid dog we call earth, circling and cycling through time in search of its own tail. Or perhaps fleas. The wondrous flea circus of humanity, and the glory of all its proud little tricks! Only the games have been changed to protect the dissonant. Anyhow . . . 

Own your own
on your own. Free yourself of the petty ego-protection system you've had implanted in your mind since childhood. Stop being influenced by the false credentials of phonies selling their wares and think for yourself already.

And for Christ's Sake stop reading what I write.
All right, Reed? 

Okay. Vic Richards on Training!  

These points should be obvious, but if you watch people who want to gain muscle lifting, it often becomes obvious they get forgotten, lost along the way, or conveniently replaced with less demanding ways of training.

Here's some bits on training from an interview

I have one basic principle: Work as hard as you can.
I believe in training heavy on basic exercises and I believe in total saturation of the muscle.
Don't be a slave to a fixed number of sets and reps.
Don't swallow the line that there is a best exercise for this or that bodypart.
Do it your way, the way that works best for you, that brings you your best results.

I learned quickly that it is not so much the number of sets that you do, but how hard and how consistently you work in the gym. I have no idea of how many sets I do and don't bother at all to count the reps. I use a pyramid version, light weights/higher reps working up to heavy weights/low reps. Sometimes my heavy work sets are 6 reps, sometimes 8 or 9, sometimes 12. I don't count. That's not important to me. It's only important that you learn to work hard, not that you teach yourself to count reps.

The good exercises for building mass stand out clearly. Don't waste your time on isolation exercises. Sometimes I spend a whole morning or afternoon on one exercise . . . leg press . . . hack squat . . . press behind neck, etc.

I recommend presses, bench and incline presses, dumbbell bench presses, pulldowns, rows of all types, squats, leg presses, hack squats, heavy curls with a bar or dumbbells.

Just make sure you always recover, and stay motivated.

When you train, think about what you are doing.

Speed of training is argued about. Some say move the weight as fast as you can, others say move it under complete control at all times and at a slower speed. I train by the feel I get in my muscles. At times I'll train very fast, trying to explode the weights upward. Sometimes (most of the time), I train with slower, controlled tension. You should vary it according to the exercise you're doing. The ones you are safe and comfortable with can be done a bit more explosively. The ones that are more dangerous, squats for example, can work well with more of a continuous tension tempo.

I always perform a full range of motion. I know how to squeeze at the end of the motion on most exercises. If you think that's a waste of time, try it sometime, doing it really hard on a major exercise with heavy weight.

Rhythm is very important. Not a cheating, throw-the-weight-up kind of thing, but a nice pattern of body give-and-take. A little motion at the start of an exercise is natural and takes the stress off attachment points. 


Monday, May 28, 2018

Stay Away From That Sticking Point - Charles Smith III

Here's an article by Charles Smith III, the grandson of Charles A. Smith.
It's current, just in case you still have difficulty realizing
it's not the date of information that determines its usefulness or worth.
Not really, it's the great lifting author Charles A. Smith writing in early 1957.

Gioachino Rossini 

The famous composer Rossini once claimed he had cried but three times in his whole life. "On each occasion," he said, "the cause was sheer frustration."

He cried when he heard Paganini play; again when was his first opera was booed off the stage; once more at a picnic when a roast goose fell into the lake.

I can sympathize with him. There's nothing so disheartening than to work hard, reach a goal, and then see someone do what you've done with ten times less effort; to have your finest achievements remain unappreciated; have success finally within your grasp yet finally elude you.

Take the simple matter of becoming stale as an example. If there's anything calculated to frustrate a weightlifter more than a sticking point I've yet to see it. Show me the man who does not curse his fate, who remains unthwarted in the face of his inability to make progress, who isn't baffled when it comes to solving his problem, and I'll show you either a genius or a saint.

Of course there are some geezers who'll tell you there's only one cause of weightlifting staleness, and but one cure for it. To these you donate "do-it-yourself" brain surgery kits and allow them to trepan themselves out of existence.

The fact remains that there are two primary causes, and a host of minor ones arising out of them, which are responsible for a weightlifter reaching a sticking point.

Trying to solve the problem by applying a "cure-all" does little or nothing to remedy the condition, and will in all probability make it worse.

Just as surely as the signpost on the highway points to the town you are approaching, so there are signs or clues that indicate approaching staleness, or a sticking point, with amazing clarity. Lucky is the lifter who recognizes them for what they are.

The two main causes are mental and physical. One may even result in the other. Their parents may be inability to relax, spending too much time on one schedule of exercises, eating poorly planned meals, excessive use of tobacco and/or alcohol, working too hard, not enough sleep, worrying, and too many activities outside of weightlifting.

The signs are these. Lack of enthusiasm for training sessions, a constant nervous or irritable disposition, poor appetite, excuses made on the slightest pretext to skip workouts, inability to get a good night's sleep, waking up as tired as when retiring.

Take the fellow who lives, eats, sleeps and thinks about sport. On the surface these would appear admirable qualities for successful weightlifting. And so, in moderation, they are. But carried to extreme they can head a man into the worst case of staleness imaginable. Be enthusiastic, yes! Work hard when you must . . . but on your training days only! 

I know I've given this advice before, and I'll doubtless give it a thousand times in the future. On the days when you take your workouts, train with everything that's in you, with every ounce of your energy and enthusiasm.

On the days you are supposed to take a rest, do just that, REST. Forget that such things as barbells exist. Forget that an activity such as weightlifting plays any part in our life.

Now for the lifter who sticks to a schedule of exercises indefinitely. Here's another sure way of hitting a sticking point but fast. Just imagine if you were forbidden to eat anything but steak and French fries. "Wonderful," you say. And so it would be for the first few days. But give yourself a little time brother. Inside of two weeks you'd be hating the very sight, small and taste of your meals, and you'd be hollering for such appetizing victuals as crusts of bread and cold water.

The very same rule applies insofar as weightlifting is concerned. Select a schedule and start using it. You begin with the utmost enthusiasm. You enjoy every minute of your training -- for a time that is. Comes the dawn, the revolution, or what have you. Soon your enthusiasm is on the wane.

Not long after, you have swung right round to the other extreme. Once you were eager to take a workout. Now you're anxious to get it over and done with, and you tear through it as fast as you can.

Then you begin skipping training sessions for no good reason you can think of except that you're fed up to the teeth with the very sight of a barbell. Boredom has ruined more promising weightlifters than any other factor. Variety is not only the spice of life but the seasoning of lifting too.

You must learn to figure out for yourself when you should change your schedules. There's absolutely no reason on earth why you should stick to an exercise program once its usefulness has been exhausted. As soon as you stop making progress with any training routine, DROP IT and start another.

You can try working exclusively on your weakest lift and ending your program with simple basic exercises. You can even make a complete switch and use nothing but power or assistance movements for a couple of months. Some lifters have even beaten the problem by using just heavy deep knee bends for a month or two.

What about overwork? No one can deny that dedication to a task is necessary in order to bring success -- hard work and success walk hand in hand, but as in other things there's a limit here too.

Take a beginner for example. He walks into the gym, chalks up, then rips into presses, snatches, and clean and jerks as if he has only an hour to live and weightlifting is guaranteed to prolong his life by two hundred years. That goes fine for a couple of weeks. Then he begins dragging himself around with as much bounce to the ounce as concrete on concrete.

Don't let yourself get into a similar situation. Hard work never meant slavery. There are some individuals with an inexhaustible supply of energy. They can train every day in the week and never hit a sticking point. A few hours rest, a day spent at the beach and they're all ready to go. But the normal individual who has to work for a living should remain content with three or four training periods weekly. Work out hard more often than this and you'll soon be walking on your knees, wondering why your press or snatch or clean and jerk has suddenly dropped thirty pounds.

Another important cause of staleness is improper diet and living habits. No matter if others refuse to accept you as an athlete, YOU ARE JUST THAT. As much an athlete as any pro fighter in championship training. So behave as such. If you've got to smoke and drink, then smoke in moderation and never touch hard liquor. Stick to a glass or two of good beer and you won't go wrong.

And above all, avoid the athlete's UNHOLY THREE . . . COKE . . . CANDY . . . CAKE. If you don't then you are headed for training trouble. The sport you are in is most strenuous. It results in tissue broken down rapidly, tissue that must be replaced. The building blocks of your body are the proteins. See that your meals contain an adequate supply of these.

Don't turn your nose up at such meats as liver, kidneys, tripe and heart. These are not only the richest protein sources but are also extremely rich in vitamins, and if Mom knows her stuff in the kitchen, you'll eat them with relish and reap loads of benefit. Don't forget lots of fresh fruits, green vegetables, cooked as little as possible, and fresh green salads -- AND -- another must, a quart of milk daily.

Well, we've got you training within your energy bounds, eating right and living as you should. Now what about other activities? You're working out three or four times a week but on your "rest" days, you get in a game of football or hockey, depending on the time of year. Maybe you go to a Saturday night dance with the girl friend, do some killer M and don't get home till four in the morning. Then there's that late night TV viewing.

You're way off the beam if you think you can keep this up. You can't undertake a heavy weightlifting program, go without enough sleep and engage in every other type of athletic and social activity between workouts. Remember this -- weight training and weight training only! When you're not lifting . . . RELAX. 

Last but by no means least we have poor instruction and coaching as one of the foremost causes of the sticking point. Stay away from all institutions that employ "volunteer" instructors, or those gyms that allow bodybuilders to train there free in return for "looking after beginners."

A good coach doesn't waste your time nor his by trial and error. A five minute chat, twenty or thirty minutes watching your lifting style or exercise performance, and he knows just where you stand and can advise you accordingly.

The amateur or "volunteer" instructor can take you all over the world of weightlifting and get you no place. It's the only way he knows how to travel. All you wind up with is a good case of fatigue and frustration. Plenty of potential champions have been ruined by that dangerous "little knowledge."

Becoming a successful weightlifter and staying away from sticking points is so utterly simple. Use your common sense and you can't help but succeed. Don't go overboard for any theory until you complete evidence of what it can accomplish in the gym on real lifters in a real life lifting setting.

there is no reason on earth why you should ever go stale.      


The Single and Double Progression Method

The Author, Triumphant! 

Note: Most readers of this blog will have already spent some time and energy looking at, thinking about, and applying the points to follow. However, I find that looking back every so often from what was once the future with a later, more experienced view can bring up things I hadn't noticed before, or was unable to interpret and decipher in quite this same "new" way. Much like an exercise can, in effect, change in its uses as we grow more experienced (hell, sometimes an exercise can become a whole other animal in the short space of a decade!), so too can an article on training. If you don't find this to be true it's a good indicator of not changing, not learning, and not progressing. I mean, remember the way you used to look at shitting yourself before you were potty trained? Probably not, and thank Christ we can't remember what we thought back then or how we perceived the world at that point in our lifespan. You grow into an adult and crapping your own pants is frowned upon by almost all including yourself. At least I hope so. You grow into a very old man and, once again, shitting in your diaper doesn't even bring a thought, and if it did it wouldn't be remembered long enough to be noticed. Somewhere in there is a message about seeing training articles anew every few years. Hidden in all that . . . do I really have to say the word?

"No. You don't and I wish you'd stop."

I simply won't. Not quite yet. Ah, that good old river of the American food-poop cycle:

Sweet beef. Proud corn and wheat whispering in the prairie sun. Fat chickens and boisterous hogs and peaches heavy on southern trees. That great Mississippi of food and treasure comes to the end of its line in a latrine.

Just two more.

Speaking of training . . .
Commuting to work today I heard the robot woman's voice say this on the speakers:
"The next stop is
strangely more of the same shallow shit we've been led to believe is life."
Hahaha! How 'bout a nice thing?

I wrapped my cheese sammich in tin foil today. Yes. Just like every dark cloud
my lunch has a silver lining. 

There. And now . . .

To the article!

At this time I think it is fitting that we look closer at the most basic concept used in any barbell endeavor. We all use this training method in one form or another and its use makes possible the goals of which our dreams are made. 

By "single and double progression" I mean the basic way we arrange our sets and repetitions with a given weight, which will enable us to do so many things in our training. Its usefulness cannot and should not be overlooked when discussing barbell training. 

All trainees use this method for keeping track of their progress, as well as preventing injury and over-training. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most of today's problems concerning progress with the weights stem from a mistaken notion of the use of this single, double, and even triple progression system and all it pertains to.

When attempting to add to your physical strength, basic training principles such as the proper pacing of your sets and repetitions as the rate of weight increases over time are most important to insure appropriate overall training "tempo," freedom from overexertion, proper recuperation, and a lessening of training-related injuries. We shall now endeavor to explain just what the single and double progression system consists of.

Since all our work with weights is composed of various set and repetition systems it is only natural for us to try and reduce this concept down to its scientific simplistic essence and thereby guarantee results as fast as can be expected under normal circumstances.

When we use a certain amount of weight in an exercise, this consistency of weight becomes the unchanging variable should we decide to do more sets and repetitions with this same weight. In such a case, we are increasing both repetitions and sets while the amount of weight remains constant. This would be an example of the DOUBLE PROGRESSION system.

If, however, we keep the weight AND the sets the same and increase only repetitions as time goes by, then we are using a SINGLE PROGRESSIVE SYSTEM.

If we increase the repetitions and sets plus the weight, strength permitting, we would be using a TRIPLE PROGRESSION system. This system is extremely tiring and severe and recommended only for brief intense periods of specialization.

The importance of these three basic concepts cannot and should not be overlooked, for most "sticking points" are caused by not following or understanding these training aids. I say "aids" because this is what they are. Used correctly they form a direct link between present and future physical success.   

Let us assume you were capable of performing 10 curls with 100 lbs. resistance. After thoroughly warming up (such as 60x10, 80x10) you put on 100 lbs. and begin your first work set. Ten reps are made. Now using the single progression system you would gauge your progress by how many reps you could add on to the initial set of 10 using 100 lbs. This would come around 13 or so, within a few workouts. When 15 curls could be done, of course in the same fashion as when you began this cycle, the weight on the bar would be increased by a few pounds and the process would begin again.

Using a double progressive method we would not only try to increase the repetitions with the 100 lb. barbell but we would also try to include more than one set of repetitions with this weight, and while these additional sets might not immediately net us 3 or more sets of 10 reps, in time such a goal would be achieved and the increase in our strength and muscle size would be apparent.

We could also add to this progression by increasing not only the sets and repetitions, but also the weight: such as 100 x 10 -- 105 x 8 -- 110 x 6, and finally, back to 100 for as many repetitions as possible. It is this triple progressive system which gives us the most work in the shortest time with the quickest results.

When a powerlifter is squatting with a weight close to his limit, he knows he'll progress much faster if he periodically attempts adding repetitions to this weight rather than simply trying to peak out with a maximum every week or so, thereby training on "nerve" in place of common sense.

Our system can and will adapt to increased stress (work) if given time and rest. By gradually adding repetitions to a 90% limit weight and eventually going into increased sets and reps with this weight, not only will our limit single attempt increase, but our muscular size and repetition strength will increase also, since we would be progressing as fast as out human system would be capable of without using "artificial aids" (steroids).

Let us assume your best deadlift is 500 x 1. Ninety percent of your limit would be 450. Most men would be able to do two or three repetitions with this weight for one set, or five single attempts, whichever they preferred with this weight. Now, by trying to increase our repetitions, ever so slowly over a given period of time, we would eventually go from 5 singles to 5 triples with this same 450. Such would be a simplistic method or increasing your deadlifting proficiency

There can be a time when, because of past injuries to various muscles and joints, trying to increase repetitions with a heavy weight becomes impossible due to the high risk of re-injury. In such a situation the repetitions could remain constant and the sets could be increased, thereby decreasing the chance of muscle or joint strain while progression is still possible.

A good example of this would be my training partner, Dezso Ban. Due to past injuries to his knees, he found himself in quite a predicament when it came to squat training. Light weight and high repetitions became impossible due to the possibility of recurring muscle pulls. High poundage and low repetitions became necessary, although too high a weight would also most likely re-injure the knee joint complex. However, by manipulating this single and double progressive system he was able to increase the amount of sets and reps in his Olympic squat with a heavy weight (485) and in time was capable of 10 triples with this weight.

How many guys will work up to around 400 on the bench only to to become stagnated and stuck. Do you know why? Because for most of us, 400 on the bench is quite a lift and this realization forces us to think of it as a limit. Also, when we use the double progressive system and finally work up to a weight like 400, we hate to reduce this weight back down to 360 or so and begin to schedule a peaking out double progression system even though it was this system which helped us initially

Take this same man who's stuck at 400 on the bench and forbid him to do any singles for a period of 3 months; reduce the bar down to 350 or so and have him systematically add sets and repetitions with this weight, and at the end of three months test him. He will have gained!

When using a double progressive system, I myself have a personal favorite. I begin with a weight I can use for 7 sets of 3 reps. What I try to do is, over a certain period of time, increase the number of sets with this weight until 10 sets of 3 are possible. I then made one of two choices: either keep the sets at 10 and progressively increase the reps to 5; or, I increase the weight by 20 lbs. and begin once again with 7 sets of 3's.

This type of scheduling of sets in a progressive manner was also coupled with two other types of progression to ensure continued progress over a long period of time. One schedule called for higher repetitions (5) and lower sets (7), and from there I would go from 7 sets of 5 to 7 sets of 7, and then I would increase the weight. This type of schedule is more suited for heavy bulking or bodybuilding than for strict strength training, but it is a useful tool, nonetheless. Notwithstanding. Weather permitting.

One drawback that this second system had was the lack of appreciable strength increases as compared to muscle size increase. The first system increased BOTH size and strength, however, the high number of sets (10) made it costly as far a training time was concerned. But for the most part, both types of progressive cycling have their place in modern strength methodology.

Note: One of the problems with this type of progression is the fact that no one has the same energy session after session. Some fools and part-time dunces lost in a hopefully temporary oblivion believe that if they're experiencing an off day and can't do the same or more than they did the previous session, well, all hell breaks loose and they set the whole boat aflame, bail out, and tear out their hair on some isolated sand dune far away. It can be wee-teeny rough. Any thinking person would realize that some days you're stronger (or weaker) than others, no matter what you believed would happen when you wrote up some dreamy little spreadsheet. I mean, some times you feel like an almond etc., right? And besides, I am stuck on band-aids 'cause band-aids stuck on me. What I'm trying to say again is, without putting myself to sleep, don't expect everything in your training (or in your life for that matter) to be a constant linear progression upward. Deal with it, but hang in, hold on, and carry on staying the overall course. Matey. Yes. Band-aids s-t-u-c-k on me! And for the love of all things not yet made manifest, can you at least attempt to sing that Band-Aid jingle with some feeling. I don't ask for much, but I'm askin' that of ya. Please hear my pleas. 

Back to the article!

Finally, and I am grievously sorry for the interruption or for having offended you, we come to the Triple Progression in training. By triple progression I mean increasing the sets, the repetitions, and the weight at the same time. Powerlifters have used offshoots of this method for years, not knowing the name for what they were doing. Some called it the "pyramid" system back in ancient Egypt, other voyeuristic lifters called it "peaking out" (spelling). Whatever name you choose to call it, it is obvious it is the most accepted and arduous system to use for any length of time.

Most lifters will follow something like this: 1/10/1x8/1x6/1x4/1x2/5 singles at 90% max. Or they will go 5-4-3-2-1 working up in weight to one training max attempt that day. I've also seen many to 3x3/3x2/3x1, thereby warming up and then going to around 90% for 3 singles, drop 20 or so pounds and go to 3 doubles, drop another 20 or so and go to 3 triples, and finish up with 3 sets of 5's.

You will find each of these three methods effective if approached with caution and common sense. Each one uses triple progression and in each case when the top weight is comfortably possible, all weights are increased in all sets on the next workout, while the sets and rep(etition)s remain constant.

We also have the type of training used by various supermen throughout the years. Basic single progression (when carried to the extreme) will increase your exercise poundage, over a given length of time, of course. Begin with a 90% training max weight (and you could of course determine this training max each session, find out if that approach works better for you at some times, or not. This approach sometimes gives lifters a feeling of failing, owing to the fact that daily training maxes tend to vary slightly on different days. No worries! It's a valid way to train, you'll be working to your best each time out, and it's one that is more "in tune" with the ever-changing yet pointless miracle your life is.)

All right already! Where was us. Begin with 90% of max. Each workout perform more and more single attempts until you are doing between 15 and 20. Such a simple method can yield much in the way of results, and as the number of singles grows and your workouts get hotter, oh, how those singles did singe me, there's something of a cycle going on. hard . . . Harder . . . HARDEREST! 

Finally (this is the second but the true finally), we come to a combination bulk AND strength routine with double and triple progression interwoven through it. We would choose one basic strength move using triple progression, such as the Bench Press, for 10/8/6/4/2/1/1/1; and 2 or 3 assistance movements using double or single progression, such as Dips, Flyes, and Triceps Extensions, for a given number of reps with the only changing variable being an increase in the number of sets we perform for each. 5x5 progressively worked up to 8x5, or 7 sets of 3 worked up to 10 sets of 3's are two good examples. It would also be possible to keep the weight static in certain movements and increase the reps per set, resulting in aerobic conditioning and muscle size increase as well as endurance.  

While discussing our double, single, and even triple progression systems, we cannot overlook its ability to control our ultimate ability to absorb both training volume AND training intensity. For our purposes here, by "training volume" we mean the all-over amount of work we perform during our workout program. This sounds simple, yet it is quite complicated . . .

First of all, we can increase the amount of work in three basic ways, and here I will not include removing a limb. We can increase the number of sets with a constant weight. We can increase the number of repetitions with a constant weight. Finally, we can do both. Naturally, increasing both the number of sets and repetitions cannot and should not be done immediately, for such a "shock-effect" would have a detrimental effect on our bodies and emotions. Since such an action would result in additional psychic strain, we should proceed with caution when attempting to increase training load with a double progression system. "Handle me with care," says Double Progression. This guy! This writer Anthony, he's one of my favorites. Every so often he expresses the seldom expressed when speaking training topics. The thinkin' man! He embellishes the discussion with the unexpectedly sensitive at times, delves deeper here and again, some might say to the point of superfluousness, but not I. Come to think of it, on such a bright and sunny day, the whole of it here on yer Earth coulda come to be, been made manifest in whatever way you believe it came to be, coulda been all black & white . . . no color. It could have functioned with an identical efficiency using only gray and dark blue. But you know this and have realized it before, I'm sure. But no, we see an infinite array of colors, tones, shades and this enormous palette of visual differences in front of our eyes. How 'bout that there. Yet, what is it we focus on for the largest part of our existence?  How does any human call itself intelligent while maintaining an overly selective view. If we lived for but a moment, just long enough to see nothing but simply the colors infinite here, then were snuffed out unceremoniously as trash and with great prejudice, would that be enough for you? Hey, that coulda been our lives if it was set up that way. Anyway. . . the choice is yours:
But no, or 
But know!      

However, as an evaluator of our training load, such a method is indispensable! Since we should all maintain a regular training log, we can easily refer to it from time to time and compare past workout volumes with our present training load, and it is here our volume consciousness comes into relevant importance. If we were to find that during the last few training weeks (4 to 6) we have neither increased our sets or repetitions with our training weights, then our training has been neither good nor bad, but relative to our momentary point in time and constant as far as ultimate goals are concerned.

It should be pointed out here that an increase in work load can be a goal in itself (particularly in bodybuilding). However, in strength lifting the ability of an increase in training load can mean the body is capable of accepting a heavier (more intense) stimulation and here is where training intensity comes into play.

Training intensity for our purposes here will be defined as how hard we work, as opposed to how much. Using a simple example: 3 x 10 with 100 lbs. is not as "intense" as 3 x 15 with 100 lbs., or 3 x 15 with 110 lbs.

Training intensity as defined above can be easily regulated or controlled by using a double progression method and keeping the sets and repetitions constant and the increase in strength brought about by increase in weight (resistance).

This method of strength training is widely accepted by weightlifters and strength seekers throughout the world. However, its one drawback is that sooner or later we reach a point of diminished returns where we can no longer generate the mental or emotional psyche needed to add heavier weight onto our bar and it is at this point that staleness sets in.

By using a double or triple progressive method we ensure a longer ability of our bodies to adapt to the continuous stress of physical endeavors. Surely a revamping of our basic opinions concerning these basic systems is in order for, indeed, its usefulness is often underrated and misunderstood.             

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Set and Rep Schemes

The choice of deciding  what type of routine you will be following in your attempt at increasing physical strength is by no means an easy matter. One of the principle problems connected with this decision, which sooner or later you will have to face, is how to decide just how much, and what types of movements you should include in your workouts. This is a fundamental problem of barbell training. No matter whether you are a rank beginner or an advanced man seeking the ultimate in strength and development, the number of sets and repetitions you use or will be using in your training will be a source of aggravation and frustration at times. 

The source of such confusion lies within the fact that we are all different. Some men will respond to high sets while others, whose temperament is different, would find such training tiring and boring. For them, low sets and medium repetitions might be the answer. Usually, the higher the number of sets, the lower the repetition scheme. The opposite is also quite true. The lower the number of sets, the higher the rep scheme (within reason), so that the end result in both situations is a fully activated muscle group.

Some lifters will find the answer near the beginning of their training lives, and for them the way is straight and clear. Others, myself included, will have to search on and on in a continuous struggle in order to obtain a small fraction of the gains these "naturals" possess. There are just too many differences in physical makeup or us to come to any concrete conclusions as to how many sets and repetitions will guarantee results. This problem is simply too complex for us to come up with any simple, concrete answer which would be suitable for everyone. Sad as it may seem, while this ability to predict what will definitely work for everyone would make things quite easier to handle, I'm not sure if we would truly like the outcome. For this would take the responsibility and hence the freedom away from the individual to experiment with his body for a particular physical aim.

The human right to decipher, choose, seek out and finally win or lose, but do so with human dignity would be a thing of the past, were we to follow "computerized" training routines. More than likely , most of us would become so bored and tired of the same training routine or theory that, after a given length of time, we would more than likely begin to go stale and the gains would not continue to come forth, no matter what we did! So, it would seem to be a blessing in disguise, this constant need to choose and experiment on how many sets and repetitions would be best for us at any given time period in our training. In this manner, we would be capable of having a more interesting and well rounded training schedule, not to mention the storehouse of information for others, as to what worked or did not work for us during out intensive years of training in this wonderful sport. 

 The Author in the mid-1990s

 However, it should be made clear to you here and now that there are certain parameters of choice as to what to choose and how to go about choosing the proper set and repetition scheme. The sensible approach would be to use our past experiences as to what worked for us in the past as well as the experiences of those who have trained with us and the men we have read about with whom we have some physical affinity.  

YOU are your best and most trustworthy trainer! Only you know what feels right for you and what doesn't. No matter what I or anyone else tries to tell you, ultimately the final choice is yours as to just what you should experiment with and what to discard. I also realize that you are not expert enough in the field not to feel intimidated by the weight of such decision making, so you will have to look elsewhere in order to find the varied opinions and ideas of other trainers and trainees, so that a rational choice from all incoming material will be at your disposal. And, for many of us, the only contact we have with what is going on is either at the lifting meets and contests, or by subscribing and reading and re-reading the various magazines and books published. Yer internet, eh. Changes. Some good, some bad, some grand, some bland. 

You should take advantage of the availability of these sources of information and learn to decipher your way through the advertising and biased statements until you are able to get to the meat of the matter and also, you should learn to concentrate on just what the writer of lifter is saying to you within the confines of his training article. This is the key. Instead of glancing quickly and simply scanning through, read slowly and carefully before jumping to any conclusion or decision. 

I myself have had to change training conceptions during the past decade. Years ago, I found through personal experimentation with various training methods that I progress well in developing size and physical strength with four basic training periods per week. 

I would perform one pressing movement, one pulling movement, and one squatting movement per workout. I did not perform the same movements two days in a row, however. An example of the kind of training I was doing during those years would be the following: 

Full Squat | Bentover Row | Bench Press

Seated Press | Barbell or Dumbbell Curl | Half Squat in Rack

Floor Press | Bentover Row | Deadlift

Press Behind Neck | Deadlift from Knee Height | Power Clean

This was basically the way I trained and gained in those days. My set and repetition schedule was as follows: 

1 set of 10 reps with 50% of my 1-rep limit
3 x 3 with 70%
On my heavy day - 90% of 1RM x 5 singles
On my lighter day - stay at 70% and force out 5-6 more sets of 3
My final two sets would be with around 60% of 1RM for 2 sets to failure.  

At that time in my training such a routine proved to be very successful in developing additional size and strength. However . . .

Just because it worked well for me does not mean that if you copy it, just as I outlined for you, that you will gain at the same rate as I did, or that you will see decent results.     

Possibly the heavy single attempts would not be pleasing to you. Many guys do not have the drive to thrive on heavy single training for any length of time. 

For me, it worked. 
For you, it might not. 

But you should not let that stop you from pursuing a schedule in order to get to know just what helps you and what doesn't. We learn from our mistakes in this game. 

We must take into consideration, at this point, that as involved as the various training systems are, there are basic truths which can help us along in choosing the right path. For one thing, we know that strength is our body's way of compensating for an overload of work. By that I mean that if we overload our muscles with heavy, intense work, out bodies will compensate for this by developing greater strength. 

I realize that some trainers will prescribe both intense AND voluminous training routines to their students and I know this is the way for the advanced man to go in his workout regime, should he be interested in developing himself to the maximum.

However, pure, unadulterated strength is a combination of intense nerve fiber stimulation and the capacity for the body to overcome stress. So I would recommend more intense work in your training in comparison to a great training load. 

As a fellow advances to beyond the intermediate stage, he may have to initiate both an intense routine as well as a routine which is comprised of many sets of low repetitions, and such a training regimen would be very taxing and time consuming, yet for the most part it would be the only way to succeed. 

Many, many lifters confuse bulk training with power training. It is true that an overall bulking routine, by its very nature, will also add to your bodyweight, and while this will not cause many of you problems, due to being underweight of "bulk fanatics" (myself included here) at heart, it is not necessarily a desirable situation for the competing lifter to get into unless he has his heart set on becoming a super-heavyweight. True strength training will concentrate on developing strength and somewhat larger muscular development, but strength will be paramount. For strength you need sense, not bloated muscle tissue. 

Many bodybuilders have this bloated look and for their purposes this the way to go in order to develop larger and larger muscles before cutting up. But for the seeker of greater physical strength without adding bodyweight, dense, capable muscle wins out every time. This is why I stated earlier that more INTENSE work is necessary than VOLUME work for the achievement of the goals listed here.

Strength requires intense effort, 
contrary to muscle growth 
which requires both intense effort AND voluminous workload.

Many of you fellows are following routines which are supposed to be power routines and when I look them over it becomes quite clear to me that nothing could be further from the truth. It seems that almost everyone equates bulk with power (myself included). This is not true in all cases and the records in the lower weight classes are made my "unbulky" men who are incredibly strong. You can be sure that these men know the difference between bulk routines and strength routines.

One of the most accepted general strength routines used today is the "5 x 5 routine".  
To me, such a strength routine is close to a complete waste of time. 


Because it is neither hard enough nor heavy enough to do you much good. What I see you doing is taking a warmup and then doing 5 sets of 5 repetitions with the same weight, often for workout after workout. Or, you will begin the first set of 5 with a light weight. Jump the poundage and do 5 more reps. Jump it again and do 5 more reps. Jump the third time and do 5 more reps, and finally do one more jump and perform 5 reps, and that's it. 

Now I ask you, if you could get 5 x 5 with the same weight as in case number one, isn't it logical to assume that with real effort you could manage 1 or 2 sets of maybe 8 repetitions? And if this is so, then how much actual intense work did you do by performing 5 x 5 with this weight? The answer should be obvious . . . you did very little work at all!   

In case number two, it's obvious that only on set number 5 did you do any real work. Yet you stop here instead of going on, when you're finally warmed up and the body says "let's go!" What sense does this make? Yet, many of you refuse to think and to have the courage to change your training concepts because you are afraid to admit that such training will necessarily be long and hard and at times quite uncomfortable. 

Yet you moan and groan when the gains do not come your way and you have nothing to show for your efforts but a lot of wasted time and a lot of heartache. This is one of the reasons I write articles, to try and give you the real story as to why you do not gain the way others do. My aim is to give you a realistic look at yourself and at this sport or ours and to enable you to come to some intelligent decision as to how to go about getting where you want to go, by offering you tried and proven in the gym, effective training theories and schedules. 

In order for you to gain rapidly in the field of strength development you are going to have to train the way out past and present champions train. I would never ask a man who has never squatted with weight to advise me as to how to improve my squat. Neither should you. There is a great deal of information out there which has already been deciphered for you. All you have to do is have the self-determination to seek out that which seem the right way for you to go, and to experiment until you hit upon the proper set and repetition scheme to use. 

I can't decide this for you. Only you can decide the way for you to go. In order for you to  as quickly as you can, your entire creative energy is going to have to revolve around the right path to follow. If you have a favorite lifter and he is in your weight class or around your bodyweight and of a similar structure, try his routines. See how you react to his all around exercise program and diet preferences. Find out if you can recuperate on his schedule. Determine if you will have to cut back on his training or alter his diet to meet your own abilities and requirements. See if his exercise movements cause you an inordinate amount of discomfort. There is no right way for you. 

Just be patient and have the ability and courage to grow and change along the way, because without change there can be no real growth over time.   

You should also bear in mind that for some people the basic rules of training just do not seem to hold water. While most guys respond to heavy weight, low repetitions and high sets for strength development, you may find that heavy singles done for many, many attempts would be best for you. /some may prefer the isometronic system in conjunction with full barbell moves, while others prefer partials done in the power rack and very little practice on the actual competition lifts. I know of one man who did very little actual training in general and yet made fantastic progress (for a time) using the isometronic system in a power rack. 

Yet the strongest man I have ever met (pound for pound) believes that power rack work is a waste of time. Who is right? THEY BOTH ARE!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Two One-Dumbbell Workouts


No problem. I'm trying to say here's two workouts that both use just one dumbbell.
You might wanna start with a 20-40 pounder. Find out what size bell you're good for.

Okay. Here's a pic of a dumbbell. If there's a rack of these where you work out
it's time to find a new gym. Something more modern. With electricity. Indoor plumbing.
Non-papyrus toilet paper and a protein supplement that's not beetle larvae based.
Get with the program, Man!
Stop spending so much time at The Home of the Two Dollar Lap Dance and
find a better equipped gym already. 

One Dumbbell Workout One
(30 minutes) 

 Set your timer, wall clock or sand dial for 30 minutes  and do as many rounds as possible of this circuit in that time. All with the one dumbbell, of course. Rest as little as possible and work on working harder when you're playing with your weights. 

1) One Arm Squat to Shoulder Press, 10 per side: 
Hold the DB just over your shoulder as you perform a squat and go right into an overhand press at the top. One fluid movement, keeping your core tight and the whole movement under control.

2) One Arm Floor Chest Flye, 8 per side: 
Lie on, duh, the ceiling . . . no . . . the wall . . . THE FLOOR, and touch your upper arm to the floor every rep without letting it rest at the bottom position. Keep the elbow bent slightly and keep the movement slow and controlled as you raise the bell until it's directly above your shoulder, arm straight. 

3) Turkish Getup, 4 per side: 
If you don't know how to do this move, find out. 

4) Sumo Squat to Upright Row, 8 reps
Hold one end of the dumbbell with both hands, palms facing you, more or less, just as long as you find a comfortable two-hand grip. Keep your feet spread wide and toes pointed outward on both the squat and row parts. The range of motion should be dumbbell touching the floor at the squat-bottom, up to the chin at the top-a-the-row.   

5) One Arm Plank to Row, 6 per side: 
From a plank position with one hand on the floor and the other on the handle of the dumbbell (palm facing inward), pull the DB straight up to your side and slowly lower it back down. Keep your chest facing the floor throughout -- don't twist the torso at the top.

6) Weighted Crunch, 12 reps: 
Depending on who you are at this point in time's cycling illusion (yawn), either hold the dumbbell on your chest with both hands or overhead with your arms extended. 

One Dumbbell Workout Two
(15 Minutes) 

For each exercise complete as many reps as you can in one minute. Rest 15-20 seconds between exercises. Complete two rounds. Toss a wee little quickie warmup in front at the beginning and that oughta be around 15 minutes. 

1) Overhead Two-Arm One-Dumbbell Triceps Extension: 
You know this one. 

2) Alternating Snatch: 
DB on the floor. Squat down and pull it up your body. At hip level drive your hips forward and pull with the arm to pop the weight overhead. Switch arms each rep. 

3) Standing Two-Arm Upward Chop: 
Hold the bell in both hands, arms extended downwards and to one side, torso slightly twisted. Rotate your trunk the opposite direction to pull the weight up diagonally so your arms are extended above you and to the side at the top. Reverse the motion and repeat for reps. Switch sides at halfway through the minute. If you don't know this one just look it up online as many times as possible in one minute. On your mark . . . get set . . . GO!

4) One-Arm Romanian Deadlift: 
It keeps the DB in the same hand, and switches hands at midway through the minute.

On a related note, on the 28th of May BBC Two is airing a modern-dress version of King Lear,
with Sir Anthony Hopkins in the lead role. 

Do not go all loose and sloppy just because you're doing these deals for time. If you're up for more of a challenge you can try lifting one leg behind you, switching legs each rep.   

5) Goblet Squad, Squint, Squid, Squiggle, Squeegee Thingee: 
Fer Christ's Sake, it's a Bleedin' Gob Squat! And hit at least parallel each rep. 

Have fun working hard when you play with your weights.


Blog Archive